Friday, September 24, 2010

Alone Ane Unsupervised... Well, YOU Know the Deal...

See, what happens is occasionally I get these nagging little creative urges even though I have no discernible talent for... well... anything. What I DO have is access to a computer, a copy of, an Intarweb connection, and a knack for appropriation. I've done this a few times, usually to Brother Wayne (here and here), but last night my thoughts turned towards high school chum/hotshot horror (among other genres) writer Elizabeth Massie.

Couple of things: her first published novel was Sineater (also in an e-version from Crossroad Press) and Beth has this... thing... about cheese. Can't stand the stuff. Absolutely grosses her out. Squick City. Nah, I don't get it either, but there you have it. Naturally, being the good, kind, supportive friend that I am, I make cheese references in front of her whenever and wherever I can, usually on her Facebook page. The latest entry?

This led to some interesting comments from her writer friends:
Brian Hodge: I know the end of this one already: the mouse did it.
Robert Devereaux: Plot holes galore!

I, on the other hand, had anticipated Beth's reaction some time ago:

And a bit of lagniappe:

"He and Enoch Root get into the habit of having conversations during and after their meals. Both of them seem to have rather involved inner lives that require lots of maintenance and so the rest of the day they ignore each other."
--Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Monday, September 20, 2010

Read A (ahem!) Book!

( Warning: NSFW in most cases--language, sexually suggestive animated gyrations)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Bookshelf Brings All the Girls to the Yard...

Godwin's Law* applies to pretty much any online discussion; however, for those involving the role of books in a Post-Literate Society a certain, uh, someone (ahem!) invariably posts this:
(with apologies to Gilbert Shelton and Freewheelin' Franklin)

It's probably a lost cause, though. On the other hand, while cruisin' reddit this morning I ran across this:

HELLS, YES! The Literary Lysistrata! Let It Begin Here!

The obligatory and surprisingly entertaining reddit Snarkfest can be found here.

* "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." Corollaries here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sometimes My Life Is... Interesting

I variously bitch, moan, whine, or complain (choose one) about how dull my life is relative to everyone else I know. I refer to this as "The Facebook Fallacy" (and hereby claim title to this phrase: © ® TM pat. pend. 2010) wherein I forget that, for the most part, people don't post the dull and boring aspects of their lives, they post what's interesting (or, at least, interesting to them).

On the other hand, not many people get text messages like this:

I'm at the bus stop with a skull full of blood. I will make it to your side of town eventually.

I do. More frequently than you might imagine and you can probably guess from whom.

"En garde, bitches!"

Why, you may ask, was Sarah J. coming to my place with a skull full of blood? You're better off not knowing.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gone Fishin'

So a few weeks ago my friend Bryan R. (whom I've known since, what? Seventh grade?) sent me a message saying he was going on a trip to the Green River and would I like a fish?

Let me explain: not just any fish, mind you-- a 50 million year old fish!

Bryan and I have shared a love for fossils (and rocks and minerals and Night Gallery and UFO stories and Forteana and underground comics and so forth and so on) for, well, a gazillion years. He managed to parlay his interest (the fossil stuff, not the other crap) into a career (think oil geology) and yet still managed to hold on to his hobbyist's enthusiasm for all these years.

This summer he headed off to the Green River Formation in Wyoming to the Warfield Fossil Quarries to do some serious collecting:

(uh, yeah, I invoked my artistic license here; the photo sequence ain't exactly what happened--notice how Bryan's shirt changes magically from blue to brown--but this'll give you some idea of what was involved)

And soon thereafter a flurry of messages ensued:

B: Yo! Got our box of fish that we collected, am in the prep phase. have to dunk each in a glue-water mixture for a minute, than let dry overnight. Thirty plates!
Anyway, have done this, will next paint each fish with a PVC-acetone mixture to seal, then will be done. Sooooo... should have a fishy out to you in a couple of days.

G. W.: Oh, Lordy, I am SO excited that I'm going to have to line my underpants with Saran wrap. I had NO idea the prep was so involved.
B: OK fossil boy, FINALLY got the fish out and in the mail. About 3.5"-4", sorry it isn't bigger but we didn't really find anything much larger than that. The fish is complete at least (one finds plenty of partials out there, damn rock always seems to break across the fish!) and there is a lucite stand in the box as well. We bought some larger stuff but I thought it proper to send you a fish that I actually collected. Actually, no one much has been finding anything besides the 4" Diplos and Knightias all summer so I don't feel so bad. Confession: I did find a 14" Priscacara on the last day of collecting but you AIN'T getting that!! Having that bad boy professionally prepped (was in two pieces) and will send photos once it is shipped to me. Damn primeval looking fish, let me tell you... basically looks like a giant pirahna with spines. Yikes!
Take care, let me know when the fossil arrives. If it arrrives broken, I can always send along another one :-)

And yesterday it arrived!

G. W.: OMG! OMG! OMG! It came today and it's BIG and it's BEAUTIFUL and it's IN ONE PIECE! OMG! OMG! OMG! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I owe you BIG TIME!

'Scuse me while I touch myself.

And this is what Bryan sent me in all its glory (3.75 in. from tip to tail which is HUGE as far as Eocene fossil fish go and would cost a small fortune from a dealer--click to embiggen):

Kindle Klamor!

Sure, there's a slew of naysayers out there--see E-reader revolt: I'm leaving youth culture behind:-- "At 26, I'm part of a generation raised on gadgets, but actual books are something I just refuse to give up" and the discussion that elicited, but here's the deal: no one's asking anyone to give up anything. It may come to that somewhere down the road, but for inveterate book accumulators (accumulators, not collectors) such as myself, the Kindle (or e-readers in general) is a godsend. Sometimes I just want to read the damn book; I don't necessarily need the object itself, though I do want to access it whenever the mood strikes (libraries are nice but they aren't convenient like that).

Art and photography books, those ludicrously-expensive-but-sensuously-bound volumes of classic literature (which can be art objects in and of themselves), signed editions, heirloom and/or tomes with sentimental value, etc., these are well-worth owning in dead tree format. Stephen King's latest? Well, I want to read it, but I don't need it taking up shelf space (or, as is becoming the case more and more often, floor space).

One thing that particularly interests me is how many otherwise difficult-to-find out-of-print books are being re-released in e-formats by the original authors when their publishers no longer care about them (the books and the authors).

 Anyway, I've got a Kindle, I've got a few e-books, and, for the moment, I'm a very happy man.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Meandering

Though I normally go a-rovin' after the sun has set (I have no tolerance for heat and unfiltered UV radiation), with a three-day weekend, slightly cooler weather, and significantly lower humidity, I decided to break from routine and walk my neighborhood in the daylight. Not surprisingly, there are all sorts of things to see I otherwise miss.

First example, on Floyd:

I'm not sure I agree, but I understand the sentiment (Hendrix is god and none of us will ever be as cool as Lou Reed).

Then a couple of blocks later, this:

If there has ever been a WTF? moment, this is it. I mean, the doll has been carefully placed and posed; in fact, it wouldn't surprise me to learn the tree had been pruned so as to serve as a display stand. There's a story here; I just can't imagine what it is.

Then there was this tableau on Ellwood:

Is... is... that a plaster sea turtle attempting sexual congress with a rock?

I'm reminded of A Clockwork Orange.

Grove and Malvern in front of the former Greek Orthodox Church:

The shoes have been under this bench in this exact same position for two weeks now. Who left them? Why? Did their owner walk home barefoot? Put on newer, hipper shoes? Again, there's a story here; I just don't know what it is.

Hope your Labor Day was as strange and wonderful!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Quick Visit to Waynesboro (August)

Back in August I went to Waynesboro, VA briefly to visit my Mom (and to track down a mystery cave said to be in the vicinity--more on that another time). Mom was fine, thanks, pleasantly demented, but happy to see me.

She had a visitor when I arrived, which is unusual as elderly people who are doing well tend not to visit elderly people who are not (I guess they think getting old is contagious or something)--the former assistant principal and primary disciplinarian of the junior high school where she taught.

The junior high school I attended!

"OMG," I thought, "forty-some years later they've found out who was responsible for the Noodle Incident."

Nah, but that got me to thinking about the various things the group I palled around with did do.

See, way out on the outskirts of town was this apartment complex and in front of this apartment complex was a not-so-good reproduction of Michelangelo's "David" bowdlerized with fig leaf, the very embodiment of "attractive nuisance." Periodically, we found it, uh, necessary to gather all sorts of items and decorate "David"--aprons, skirts, kites, ties, hats, Easter baskets, whatever (it was a small town; we had to generate our own entertainment). Nothing damaging, nothing (truly) obscene, nothing permanent; we liked having a publicly viewable dress-up doll.

Sadly, others did not abide by our Code of Ethics, to wit:

(scan courtesy of JSam)

However, the tradition of decorating "David" did not die out in Waynesboro with the demise of David, Sr. as I discovered on my latest visit:

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me!

Historical Notes
Some of the usual suspects in the '70s incidents:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Alone And Unsupervised With Access to

Here's a possible money-making idea for those of you brimming with time, energy, and creativity: novelty cigarette packs. Replace those boring old branded boxes with something different and unusual. Perfect for the smoking hipster in your life who disdains the conventional and wants to prove he/she is daring and beyond trendy. Economical, too, in that one can fill the box with whatever generic brand one can afford and still appear cool...

...Until small cell takes ya.

There are a couple of obscure jokes in my examples (obscure if you're not a long-time science fiction/comic book fan) and, therefore, perfect for a certain target demographic: Norman Spinrad wrote a story for Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions entitled "Carcinoma Angels"; Transmetropolitan's Spider Jerusalem smokes Carcinoma Angels.

Yeah, I need a life.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Some Random Thoughts On Clothes And Such

"Let’s just face facts and be honest: most men have some trouble with shopping. They either don’t like to shop, succumbing to the 'walk in – grab – walk out' mentality, or they do like to shop but still have some trouble knowing what they should get. This rule especially applies to that accessory the other gender fawns over: shoes. When it comes to men’s shoes, it may seem like the only big decision would be brown or black, but there really is so much more to shopping for dress shoes."
--How To Buy Dress Shoes For Men

"Some trouble..." That echoing, chortling, spewing sound you just heard was me choking on my Diet Pepsi. I HATE buying clothes. I am the classic Male Kamikaze Shopper--I zoom in, swoop down, grab something... and commit fashion suicide.

Which may explain why I dress the way I dress (and would that I did so as some kind of intense, political, post-modernist statement like writer John Shirley; sadly, I'm not that deep)--jeans, usually black, sometimes blue; T-shirts (t-shirts? Tee-shirts?), often black, sometimes gray, blue, or burgundy (see my footnote here concerning shirts); black lace-up shoes, Rockport, more often than not; never shorts (sweet Jeebus, no! Not with my pudgy, fishbelly-white legs!), never a suit, never a tie, once in a great while (weddings and funerals) a sportcoat or blazer and then only under duress--more and more I'm coming to resemble Cayce Pollard in William Gibson's Pattern Recognition (which I just happen to have re-read):

Pollard is a freelance marketing consultant, a coolhunter with an unusual intuitive sensitivity for branding, manifested primarily in her physical aversion to bad logos and corporate mascots. As a consequence, Pollard dresses in plain clothing unadorned with brand markings of any kind, referred to as "Cayce Pollard Units" or C.P.U.s. These are typically Fruit of the Loom shrunken cotton t-shirts with skirts, tights, boots, and a Buzz Rickson MA-1 bomber jacket.

Only $485!

From the novel: "CPUs. Cayce Pollard Units. That's what Damien calls the clothing she wears. CPUs are either black, white, or gray, and ideally seem to have come into this world without human intervention. What people take for relentless minimalism is a side effect of too much exposure to the reactor-cores of fashion. This has resulted in a remorseless paring-down of what she can and will wear. She is, literally, allergic to fashion. She can only tolerate things that could have been worn, to a general lack of comment, during any year between 1945 and 2000. She's a design-free zone, a one-woman school of anti whose very austerity periodically threatens to spawn its own cult."

I relate--boy, do I relate--though with me it's more of a matter of my not knowing what goes with what nor giving a flying, uh, fig whether the designer label is cool or not. Well, that and the fact I am one of the many Children of a Larger, Chubbier God, so clothing designers have not taken my particular body configuration into consideration. Or they have... and recoiled in horror-- see The Devil Wears Prada and this little exchange between Stanley Tucci and future ex-wife Anne Hathaway:

Andy Sachs: "So none of the girls here eat anything?"
Nigel: "Not since two became the new four and zero became the new two."
Andy Sachs: "Well, I'm a six..."
Nigel: "Which is the new fourteen."

And later:

Nigel: "I don't know what you expect me to do. There's nothing in this whole closet that'll fit a size six. I can guarantee you. These are all sample sizes--two and four."

To be honest, if it didn't make me look like some kind of deranged survivalist circa 1975 (the Kurt Saxon/Turner Diaries era) I'd wear nothing but military surplus. Hey! the stuff's durable as hell, infinitely adjustable, transcends fashion, and, come the Zombie Apocalypse, I'll already be equipped!*

But I'm forced to live in a pre-apocalyptic world, one in which I find myself in need of clothes--losing about 60 lbs. in 5 mo. will do that to a fella--so it's been forays to Target and Wal-Mart and Old Navy** for cheap, uh, inexpensive shirts and pants and belts and shoes and coats. Add in a couple of quick trips to Goodwill to unburden my closet of an embarrassing number of things I don't (or won't) wear and, well, I've been a busy boy. You won't see me on anyone's catwalk, but neither would you be afraid to stand behind me in the check-out line.

Shoe score: a pair of Streetcars "Diplomat," regularly priced around $75.00, for $30.00. They look like something Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory would wear so at that price I had to get 'em (Sheldon is my hero/short-duration personal savior).

*For those of you who remember Bloom County, you may also recall "The Great LaRouche Toad Frog Massacre":
" 'First,' " said Opus, reading from the government manual, " 'Gather shovels.' " We dispersed and looked for shovels, returning with several. " 'Second, quickly and without panic, take refuge in the countryside.' " Shovels in hand, we formed an orderly line and proceeded to march behind our hyperventilating leader down the street, passing by others who were clearly reacting to the threat of thermonuclear annihilation with less self-control than ourselves. We, after all, had taken the precaution of procuring not only an official federal civil defense handbook, but an official - if reluctant - Civil Defense Coordinator as well.
Upon reaching the dandelions of Milo's Meadow, well removed, we supposed, for Ground Zero, we stood at attention and awaited further instructions. " 'Dig shallow trenches, " Opus continued. " 'Lie down in trenches, cover self with wooden door or like object and await blast. After shock wave passes, emerge and go to nearest emergency Civil Defense Center and fill out emergency change of address forms.' "
With this, we seized the handbook and hacked it to pieces with our shovels. Opus was officially decommissioned and we quickly adopted a favorite stand-by approach to an approaching holocaust - hysterical panic. This is always fun to watch, so Milo and I settled back into the grass to savor the confusion, our own fates apparently sealed. Opus wrung his hands and worried about what radiation would do to his complexion.
Steve Dallas jogged by, dressed in designer fatigues and wearing an extraordinarily full backpack. "JOIN ME IN THE HILLS!" he yelled in passing. "ONLY THE PROPERLY EQUIPPED WILL SURVIVE!" Or the lawyers, we thought. "JOIN ME AND WE'LL CRAWL FROM THE RUBBLE AND LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY. TO THE HILLS! ONLY THE WEAK WILL PERISH!" This was no comfort to the nearly shattered Opus, who had no illusions as to where he stood in the strong/weak classification. Watching his best friend Steve Dallas disappear into the woods dressed like Rambo proved the final decisive blow to an already critical frame of mind and he plopped over unconscious. Lying serenely among the clover, Opus was blessedly unaware of Portnoy and Hodge-Podge marching up the hill with a fully automatic 45mm American Ruger Assault rifle, apparently intent on massacring the imminent hordes of Communists in groups of fifty or more. "We're gonna massacree 'em!" bellowed Portnoy, waving the weapon that had obviously been borrowed from the shelves of the K-Mart Sporting Goods Section. Milo and I, concluding that the general scheme of things just couldn't handle this much fun, tried to dissuade Portnoy and his fellow conspirator from their patriotic mission. They would not hear of it. These, after all, were a groundhog and a rabbit, two of the most excitable critters to be found in modern meadows and wont to excessive behavior. "We'll go out blasting!" they said.

**I cannot believe I went to Old Navy. That is so not my kind of place, but they had T-shirts at $5.00 a pop and I can't buy used washrags for that price.