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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4179 - 4182

 4179.  At one point before the tournament began there were some crows doing an imitation of how roosters and hens flap their wings and jump up and down as if they might fly away.

 4180. The crows find these imitations comical, but the effect is lost on the pigeons who, as I said before, do not understand sarcasm and ridicule. The pigeons, looking on, thought the crows were just suffering from something like arthritis.

 4181. The tournament began with Otis making the first move, and from the beginning he struck a pose as if he had to consider it a matter of great import, like a chess master deciding on the opening move.

 4182. It was agreed that the opponents were to take no more than sixty seconds to make their moves, and there was one elderly crow that croaked out the time like a metronome.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4175 - 4178

 4175. This was the source of the earlier argument between the various birds as to who was going to root for the O side. All the birds wanted to be for Otis, and there was hardly a one that wanted the Rooster to win. 

 4176. This was obvious from the beginning when the birds had addressed their request to Otis and had ignored the Rooster as if he didn’t even exist.  

 4177. All of this I am sure hurt the Rooster’s feelings, especially because he himself was a bird, and so he felt he should be accorded some respect, and not be treated as simply some kind of hanger-on, and just a sidekick to Otis because of his fame.

4178. But if it hurt the Rooster’s feelings he did not show it, even when he overheard comments about his inability to fly.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4171 - 4174

 4171. The crows and the pigeons wanted Otis and the Rooster to perform the tic-tac-toe game for them. Actually they wanted the two of them to perform the game as a tournament in order to see who might win four out of seven matches. 

 4172. The loud argument that had preceded this request for the game had been about the X’s and the O’s. Both the crows and the pigeons wanted to be for the O, and neither wanted to be associated with the X. Otis had to decide. He assigned the X to the crows, and so the O went to the pigeons.

 4173. Otis reasoned like this when making his choice, he said, “Crows are more severe, and pigeons have a roundness to them.” This seemed reasonable to everyone, and so the birds settled down to watch the match, and there was stillness all around.

4174. The Rooster scratched out the crisscross pattern in the dirt of the riverbank with his beak, and Otis flipped a coin to decide who should make the first move. In the tournament Otis was to use the O, because his name began with O. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4167 - 4170

 4167. Soon the tree was full of a complete extended family of crows, and not long after that another tree began to fill up with a flock of pigeons. The pigeons and the crows, as is their usual habit, were engaged in one of their countless disputes.

 4168. I can’t tell you what the dispute was about. When two or three birds get in an argument, it is possible to follow along, but when thousands are involved it is about as coherent as the roar of the crowd in a stadium.

 4169. Suddenly there was complete silence and the silence commanded the attention of Otis and the Rooster in a way no amount of cawing could accomplish. They both sat up to see what the silence was all about. 

4170. The crows and the pigeons had elected one each of their members to approach Otis with a request. They addressed their request to the wolf, ignoring the Rooster because a rooster is a bird and so they held him in no account.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4163 - 4166

4163. The Rooster and Otis went on their way. Their destination was Rome. Neither of them knew what The Rome was exactly, but they were sure that they would recognize it when they came across it. 

4164. The pilgrimage to The Rome was Otis’ obligation, placed upon him by his tribe when they had ostracized him some time ago. The Rooster was going to The Rome simple because he had nothing else to do at the time, and felt he should tag along with Otis for the safety he provided, not to mention the entertainment. 

4165. They had not gone far when they came across a sandy bank by a small stream. It was an enchanting looking place, an image like you might find as an illustration for the month of May in a calendar, the kind of calendar banks give out for free in January.

4166. The two of them lay down to rest by the stream; Otis was using the Rooster as a pillow and although they wanted to take a nap they were bothered by a steady increase in the cawing of some crows in a nearby tree.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4159 - 4162

4159. The inability to notice when one is being ridiculed, combined with the tendency to over complicate things, makes discussions with pigeons difficult. This being the situation the conversation came to an end, and both the Crow and the Pigeon flew away.  

4160. How often it happens in this life that when faced with some intractable problem one has spent months worrying and fretting over, the solution suddenly jumps out at you fully formed, unbidden, and without any effort at all on your part.

4161. When this happens it is no wonder that the recipient of the revelation often does not recognize it at first.

4162. So it was with the Rooster and Otis. They had completed their first performance there in the woods with their tic-tac-toe game. They had entertained a crow and a pigeon and it was only a matter of time before finches and sparrows became involved, and expanded the audience.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4155 - 4158

  4155. And even if I had found it, who’s to say that some sparrow might not come along years from now and completely debunk that story, which sparrows and finches just love to do in order to make a name for themselves in academic circles.

 4156. And a fine fix that would put your interpretation in, stripped of the very reason for its existence, just a measly tic-tac-toe game scratched there in the dirt and of no consequence to anyone!

 4157. At this point the Crow became annoyed with the Pigeon and said sarcastically, “Perhaps the thing should have an alternative meaning, just like a spare tire in case of a blow out. The spare meaning could be that the tic-tac-toe game symbolizes five kisses, and four hugs. I doubt if any scholar either now or in the future could ever debunk that idea.” 

4158. Although Pigeons are very erudite and are greatly respected for their intellect, still they lack the ability to detect sarcasm when it is directed at them.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4151 - 5154

 4151. In Handel’s Oratorio, “Alexander's Feast,” the lyrics call for Alexander to be moved to tears by the sight of his dead opponent Darius as he lies in the dust. Alexander, singing of Darius says, “Without a friend, without a friend to close his eyes.” And describing Alexander, they say, “And tears began to flow.”

 4152. If Handel can make Alexander weep over his enemy Darius, why can’t we have Alexander allow the Holy Man to win at tic-tac-toe, as he might think, “What’s the harm, I’ve defeated them all in battle why not let them win at a little game like this.”

 4153. The Pigeon was unwilling to accept anything the Crow was saying about Alexander, and preceded to attempt to undermine the very premise of the Crow’s remarks saying…

4154. All that you say about Alexander is pointless anyway, because I once spent several days in a library trying to find the story of the Holy Man of India and Alexander the Great, and apparently it only exists in the heads of certain crows because I was unable to find even the least mention of it.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4147 - 4150

 4147. The crow, having explained the tic-tac-toe game, fell silent but just then a pigeon who had been listening to him from an overhanging branch felt emboldened to put his two cents in and said, “If a game of tic-tac-toe was played against Alexander the Great, the great military tactician, how could it happen then, that he would lose the game rather than tie it?”

 4148. That is just the way it is with those pigeons, always trying to needlessly complicate a simple narrative story. They mean well, and they only want to clarify certain ideas, but in the end they render a simple conversation meaningless. 

 4149. The Pigeon’s question baffled the Crow for a short time. But then, gathering his wits about him, he replied, “You see, a tic-tac-toe drawing is a work of art in the first place, and only secondly an historical document.

4150. As a drawing it should be understood only as a metaphor, and need not conform to the requirements of some strict historical dissertation. As a matter of fact there is a prerequisite for the “artistic defeat” of Alexander the Great in an oratorio by Handel. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Otis Escaps, parts 4143 - 4146

4143. Through one of his interpreters Alexander started a philosophical discussion with the Holy Man during which he explained that he was the ruler of all of the countries from India back to Macedonia.

4144. The Holy Man replied, “The question is whether you can consider that you even rule the land on which you are standing.” If he didn’t say that, then I think he said, “Please move over as you are blocking out my sunlight.”

4145. To me then, tic-tac-toe game represents the conversation between the Holy Man and Alexander the Great, in which the Holy Man won because he said the wittiest remark.

4146. But the Holy Man also wins because he got to go first, and the first one to move in a tic-tac-toe game usually wins. The fact that the Holy Man goes first clearly signifies that Indian religious and philosophical thought is much older than Greco-Roman thinking and therefore could be said to have “gone first.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4139 - 4142

4139. Otis and the Rooster were confused by the crow’s question, and they said, “What do we mean by what?” “This thing you are scratching on the ground with the lines, the Xs, and the Os,” said the crow.

 4140. “This,” replied the Rooster, “is a game of tic-tac-toe, and it does not have any meaning except that three Os in a row, or three Xs in a row wins the game. “Yes,” replied the crow, “any idiot knows what a tic-tac-toe game is, but my question concerns what your game means.”

 4141. “How could it possibly mean something?” said Otis. “How could it not,” replied the crow. Then, after an awkward silence during which the crow paced back and forth in front of the wolf and the rooster, with his wings folded behind his back, he said…

4142. I would say that the tic-tac-toe game symbolizes an event in the life of Alexander the Great. I recall that when Alexander marched his armies into the far reaches of India he met there a Holy Man sitting under a tree. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4135 - 4138

4135. Otis and the Rooster were no exception to this type of activity. They were sitting on the ground and for many hours they occupied themselves with playing games of tic-tac-toe. They would finish one round, and then scrape it out in the dirt and begin another.

4136.  They paid little attention to who won and who lost their games, and every now and then one of them would brighten up and begin to make a suggestion, but the idea would trail off unfinished, or seem so unlikely that they would not bother to attempt to develop it.

4137. Finally one of those crows I have been talking about; one of the crows renowned for their observations and their insights, landed on the ground between Otis and the Rooster and began to examine the tic-tac-toe game.

4138. After looking at it for some time, first with his left eye, and then with his right, he took a step back and said, “What do you mean by this.” 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Otis Escapes, parts 4131 - 4134

 4131. They reorganize all of their materials on shelves, and then look through catalogs and underline all the things they need to buy. They sweep up. They sit for hours and look at all the photographs of all the things that document their past experiences, and sort all those photographs, documents, announcements, and notices into  piles chronologically.

 4132. As they sort those announcements chronologically, they often stop and look up at the ceiling and images come into their heads of what it was like several years ago, when they did such and such a work for so and so, and after that they recall that some remarkable thing happened to them later, in that very same evening. 

 4133. They make lists of numerous ideas they might want to pursue, but all the numbered entries are in the form of unfinished sentences. They stand by the window and look out into the street and watch the traffic moving. 

4134. They begin to rework some old piece long forgotten and placed in storage. It was a work never completed that nevertheless has some promise. They begin to edit, correct, and rearrange it and end up destroying it completely.