Last post I mentioned that Portland hasn’t kept up in the mass-murder category. And I think I know why.
What’s really happening is that Keeping Portland Weird has resulted in a near-total abandonment of normal homicidal methodology. I realized that the other day when I was flipping through The Oregonian and found an article about a recent murder: LANDLORD DRESSED AS MICHAEL MYERS KILLED BY SWORD-WIELDING TENANT. That seemed weird, except for the killing his landlord part. I turned the page.
MAN CHARGED IN FATAL SPEAR STABBING RULED NOT GUILTY. Well now. You don’t run into spear stabbings every day. Clearly some weirdness is afoot.
I’ve never even seen a spear outside a museum. As it happens, the only weapon I own in this house is a sword, although I am at a loss how to wield it. I know “wielding” is what you do with a sword, but the details are murky. I believe wielding a sword involves standing on a hill with it, backlit, legs apart, sword raised against the sky, in profile, and wearing a shortie tunic if at all possible. So I have the proper pose in mind, but the menacing part eludes me. The only way I can picture it involves me under the bed sweeping at an intruder’s ankles, and I don’t see a lot of promise in that.
I’ve thought about it. But I don’t even know if my sword is really designed for murder. It does have the little channel along it where the blood can run out, but I doubt it was ever used for the purpose. It is a Civil War sword, Confederate, picked up off the battlefield by my great-grandfather. He had his own fine sword and I don’t know who ended up with that one. My suspicion is they were not used in battle, but carried around in case Matthew Brady showed up with his camera. No one has long enough arms to do a decent sword selfie.
My suggestion to curb mass murder is some sort of legislation requiring would-be perpetrators to use antique weaponry. I am visualizing a scenario in which a man bent on revenge has to position himself on the top floor of a parking garage with a vat of boiling oil. One, he has to wait for his targets to bunch up on the sidewalk in one particular spot. Two, he won’t be able to keep the fire lit seven months out of the year.
Viking axes have a lot of cachet, but they’re problematic also. The idea is to cleave the opponent from head to foot until he is properly asunder. In order for a person to be cloven he has to walk right up to the fellow holding his axe high and around here nobody is moved to do that. Only a Viking would do that. Here in Portland, we stand several yards back and gently suggest that the axe wielder might benefit from a little chamomile.
Even a good catapult is of limited use in the conduction of a massacre. We’ve already limited high-capacity trebuchets and most citizens can spot and dodge the random incoming airborne boulder, because nobody around here uses an umbrella.
Fact is, I suspect our rain keeps a lot of this nonsense to a minimum. There might be some people interested in inflicting a big hurt but don’t want to get all wet doing it. Most of our wintertime fatalities are self-inflicted.
I also have a sword, and although I could probably get stabby with it, it doesn’t have a honed edge that I could lop a person’s arm off with. It’s an antique Knights of Columbus sword that I used to long for when my mom and I went by an antiques stall at the farmers’ market. On one of my birthdays, she got it for me, and it now hangs in my diningroom in case someone criticizes my cooking. I also have a dirk, which was made by my uncle.
I took a class in fencing a long time ago, and the thing that they always get wrong in movies where guys duel with swords: You don’t wield it over your head and you don’t fully face your opponent. You turn a little sideways, so as to present less of a target, and you keep the sword in the vicinity of your torso, so as to protect your internal organs from the other person’s sword. (Why did I want a sword and take fencing lessons? Because I was a Lord of the Rings geek, and really wanted to be an Elf, of course.)
I hope it was an Uncle Dirk.
I signed up for fencing instruction in summer camp when I was a kid because it was the only athletic activity that sounded tolerable. Great first session, then the instructor got the flu, and that was the end of that.
I think ” cloven in twain” is an excellent phrase, though not necessarily to self-apply.
Unless you can self-adhere.
Cleave or be cloven!
I found these additional examples of your verb on the internets. Perhaps you stashed them there?
1. Seres disappeared into the fray, a pair of short blades cleaving a path through the enemy that had rushed into the clearing.
2. Like an icicle being stepped on, the iceberg split into pieces as the bombs ripped through it, fire cleaving a line clean through the middle.
3. A thundering, prehistoric steam engine cleaves the crowd, whistle screaming, a velvet column billowing into the dark.
4. Rather than take I – 25, which cleaves the plains from Wyoming south to New Mexico, I decided to thumb the blue highways down the spine of the Rockies.
You’re welcome! 🙂
Thank you! “Cleave” is another one of those cool words that means opposite things.
Definitely did some out-loud chuckling at this one! My mother loved movies with swordplay in them. I think she may have taken fencing in college briefly as well. In my imagination I could be another Errol Flynn, but probably in reality I could barely pick up a heavy old sword!
I consider my ability to defend myself approximately nil, unless it’s a war of words.
In 2002 at some point I was in Mexico City, doing the bidding of a large pharma. It was when the then-gov. Perry of Texas had allowed the execution of a Mexican national. There was a huge park near my hotel, near the main part of town, and a demonstration went on for a couple days there. Let me tell you, a thousand demonstrators carry a lot more cachet when they wave machete’s. My hotel advised me to ‘stay in your room, we have room service’. I agreed, edged weapons have always given me the willys.
You really need only one willy.
I knew a fellow who had a Willys. WWII vintage.
I always wanted a crossbow. When I was a single parent, I thought I could look quite menacing at the top of the stairs with a crossbow.
Don’t forget that top of the stairs part. It’s a big deal.
I would love a short handled Viking axe! It would be so handy for cleaving pumpkins when the regular knives fall short of expectation.
Dynamite would work too.
sometimes, when I’m really annoyed with my husband, and all of his gender, I wonder why we quit having duels down by the creek. or Crik, if you will. You know, after cheating on a horse race bet and then insulting the wife, when you could just whip it out, and call it a day. Those were the days. And now I’ll just this once embrace – MAGA!
My dad loved second hand stores. I inherited a kukri – a Sikh weapon kind of like a short, curved machete. A policeman friend once told me that the scariest thing in the world to face is a frightened woman with a knife, so I figure this is my defense against home invasion. Well, that and the shotgun.
Okie dokie, then! In the event of a home invasion, I’ve got it covered! Needless to say, I’d be scared shitless, but I’d have my sword and my dirk, and would NOT hesitate to use them.
Roxie, I’ll just move in with you and take the back bedroom.
So global warming should keep the murder rates low.