Lead Shot Frogs

Thoughts: Mark Twain’s Short Story Collection

What differentiates an artist from mere mortals? There is one thing that working stiffs of this world must never forget above and beyond that fact that they will never get their shit together so as to unite under the auspices of solidarity that they may defeat austerity and hence do something for this fucked up world that is ultimately run by hilarity. Artists, on the other hand, are artists because they have a unique ability to see through the lie of the mind. Or, some like to call it: they can see into a mind that would make a movie. This is why artists, i.e. those who create – as opposed to those who destroy – are ultimately the best form of knowledge regarding how the world turns. It is this knowledge that workers of the world should rely on as they move beyond a useless life of apathy which ultimately equates with slavery. Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to be snobby and/or anti worker of the world. I actually have a lot of respect for working stiffs. If only they would somehow try to 1. integrate something more creative into their lives, 2. cease and desist human procreation, finally taking advantage of modern times and things like birth control, and 3. leave the blue m&m’s alone or at least realize that they are actually pharmaceutical delivery devices that help maintain mass control for a new world order. 

Ok. Here’s the deal. I had another one of them just-before-wake-up dreams. You know the kind of dream I’m talking about? Probably due to such a huge intake of wine everyday, I don’t dream at night anymore. Instead I have these early morning dreams. Usually what happens is I will wake at 4am, do some bidness, maybe drink tee, at the least pet the pug, and eventually realize it’s way too early. So I spit some blood in the kitchen sink, say a prayer to a god I don’t believe in and lay down again in the hopes it’ll all end in that one perfect moment of sleep. If that doesn’t happen then sometimes I fall back into a deeper sleep than the night before. If all is going well, the stars aligned properly, a full moon far off, I immediately start having wonderfully vivid and visual dreams. When I wake up, which is usually always before 6am, I sit up, shake my head, wipe up the mess, and try to absorb what just happened. For dreams, they do happen, indeed they do, right?

This morning I dreamt about the lead shot that goes into shotgun cartridges along with a few other things. I was back in the shed behind the house where I grew up. Everything was as I remember it. Wall to wall junk was everywhere, e.g. gardening tools, saws, sledge hammers, shovels, rakes, picks, tools, etc. The shed, btw, was the size of a small car garage and it was typically filled beyond capacity. The shed door was wide open and outside I could hear the birds flying above, squirrels chattering, the creek was flowing. It was a sunny day and our grass was freshly cut but the neighbors grass was not. I was there to reload a bunch of twelve gauge shells. The reloading device looked brand new and next to it on the bench was a blood stain where my stepfather sometimes did his butchering. Hanging from the ceiling were several dead pheasants, a canvas-back duck and two twitching hairy hind legs of a wild bore that we must have just killed, I guess.

Now. I need to move on because this post ain’t about the dream, but instead the lead shot that I used to fill the shells and how I believe my subconscious came to put it there. But I wouldn’t want my worst-readers to feel as though I’m a cock tease or anything like that. So, my dream, in short, was thus. While going about the monotonous task of filling twelve gauge shotgun cartridges by first removing prime, replacing prime, filling powder, then wad, then #5 or sometimes #8 shot, and finally closing cartridge, the daughter of our neighbor appeared in an American flag bikini at the edge of the door of the shed. She interrupted me with a hiccup as I was struggling to remove an ornery prime that didn’t want to come out. BTW, her bikini bottom had the stars, which I know a lot of (real) men prefer. She wanted to know if I wanted to do that thing we did last time when I helped her cut the grass. I said sure but not right now, I’m busy. She sneezed and then added that her Dad’s new mower, which was one of them zero-turn mowers, wouldn’t start and that I needed to help her with that, as well. I told her again that I was busy but she insisted, smiled and then reminded me that I could set the price for my services, which I did and she performed well and we eventually ended up riding together, like the last time, on her new mower and cutting the grass.

Now. Back to lead shot. I’m (re)reading Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” I actually plan on (re)reading Twain’s short story collection which I recently downloaded to my kindle. It’s been a while since I’ve read Twain and I was thinking a few months back that I need to get back into reading fiction. Twain seems like a great place to start. I’ve been focused on non-fiction and history for the past year. Anywho. As I was reading the Frog story my head started to fill with all the stuff I’ve been reading of late, which was mostly about American history, the banking and economic crisis thanks to Dipshit Dubya Bush, Wall Street, etc. Now, I know that worstwriter ain’t gonna offer any kind of new fangled interpretation of Twain. Believe you me, my literary feet walk this earth with not a spec of space between foot and ground. It most certainly doesn’t need to be said by moi that Twain’s writing is both brilliant and his wisdom far reaching. But I’m gonna go with this thought all the same. The frog story might just be a kind of analogy for what’s wrong with America today. Here, bear with me a sec and in the mean time I’ll summarize.

Jim Smiley loves to gamble. He bets on anything. He decides one day to train a frog to jump real far in the hopes that it will out jump any frog in Calaveras County and thereby win him lots of money. One day Jim meets a stranger who is willing to take on the bet but the stranger says that he has no frog. And here’s where it gets good. The stranger gets Jim to leave his trained frog with him so Jim can catch another frog in order to make the bet. Jim leaves the stranger with his frog and goes off and eventually returns with another frog. The two men gamble over the longest jumping frog and forty dollars. Not a bad sum, btw, for a story written in 1865. But here’s the thing, Jim loses. The reason he loses is because while Jim left his trained jumping frog with the stranger and ran off to get another frog, the stranger filled Dan’l Webster (the name of the frog) with lead shot thereby rendering the animal incapable of jumping.

What made this short story by Twain so popular when it was first published is obvious. America – and most of the western world – was and is built and maintained by those who cajole and those who get cajoled. This makes me ask the question: with all the krapp that has happened since Twain, how is it that we are unable to over come our own gullibility? Also. Even though the shot gun shell filling part of this is true, I really use to do that sort of thing, I never had a neighbor who allowed me certain liberties if I would help cut her grass. Oh. I’m looking forward to reading more Twain.

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Rant on.

-tgs-