Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Night Songs And Whispers #1: Songs


I’m reading a book.
This evening I’ll play guitar,
sing to the New Year.

The reading lamp bulb
is just sixty watts. I play
soft finger-picking.

In quiet shadows
the New Year can whisper things.
Night. Songs and whispers.














Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Egyptian Queen, Grace Slick, Beyond Apollo


When I was growing up, artists I knew wanted
to be as good as Frank Frazetta, or better.
And musicians I knew wanted to be as good
as the Jefferson Airplane, or maybe better.
A writer—that is, me—wanted to be as good
as Barry Malzberg. I thought I could be better.

Who in the current world does anybody want
to be better than, or even just as good as?
Is anybody good at anything today,
or is everybody today just cashing in
on their lottery-like fifteen minutes of fame?

Starting from Frazetta, the Airplane and Malzberg
the world of yesterday transformed into today,
cool phones that fry our brains, zombie games and “The Hills.”

When dawn comes to the Novus Ordo Seclorum,
when this today transforms into that tomorrow,
will Time publish a cover asking, IS GOOD DEAD?





. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Frank Frazetta

Jefferson Airplane

Barry Malzberg



















Monday, December 29, 2008

The Creature That Ate Britney




*


Okay, first of all, this post has no code words. “Britney” just means Britney.

Second, careful readers of Impossible Kisses will have noticed that today’s post is really a kind of sequel to a post from last year, Britney Spears: Death By Dinosaur. In that post (also a post without code words!) Britney was hired to perform for the guests at Jurassic Park. When Britney died at the park, apparently in a classic rock star manner, her people leaked a story about Britney being eaten by dinosaurs because it seemed like a more glamorous way to die. So, today’s post is an illustration not of the actual events of that fictitious story about Britney at Jurassic Park, but rather it’s an illustration of the fictitious urban legend that has grown up around the fictitious story of Britney at Jurassic Park. Cha-cha-cha!

Third, looking carefully at today’s post, you can see that I did the lettering with a dip pen instead of a felt tip. I like the look of this lettering much better than felt tip lettering. However, even so, I dislike the process of using a dip pen and a bottle of ink so much that I strongly suspect I will go back to using a felt tip.

Fourth: The color in this image was rendered with colored pencils. I’d intended to end the year with an acrylic paint cartoon. I even did test mixes to get the colors correct in paint. However, I abandoned that plan. And I think I figured out why I’m hesitating to switch to acrylics for this kind of work. When I complete an image like this, I put the “finished” piece on a table off to the side of my bedroom. Then, for a day or two, as I’m walking in and out of the room, I’m always checking out the image in different lights, from different angles. I often pick up an eraser or pencil and make little corrections, changes and tweaks to the image. If I use acrylics, that process of making final little fixes would be much harder, because I’d have to squeeze out paint, mix it and clean up afterward for every little change. It’s just much more convenient, right now, to use stick-based colors of various kinds.

Finally, although there is no conscious coding in this post, many hours after I finished the piece—during the period when I was making little tweaks and fixes—I noticed that a person might construe there to be something like a hidden meaning to the image. It’s something that happened with absolutely no forethought—no conscious thought of any kind!—on my part. I’m not going to dwell on or discuss that hidden meaning here. However, sometime in the future I may come back to this post and use it as an example of how people creating something are often the last people to know what they’re really doing.

Sometime in the future, I may do a post on the topic of how that concept seems to separate “arts & craft people” from “arts & entertainment” people: arts & craft people always know exactly what they’re making and a careful arts and crafts person probably would say you must know exactly what you’re making for it to come out properly; arts & entertainment people almost never know what they’re making, often even after they’ve finished making it, and a careful arts and entertainment person probably would say that’s why art and entertainment require serious skill, because you must make something come out properly even though you have only the vaguest idea what it is you’re making.














Friday, December 26, 2008

Cognitive Blur #4: Supergirl


On the TV show SMALLVILLE Clark Kent kept secrets
and Clark Kent always lied to protect his secrets.

People always can tell when someone has secrets.
People always can tell when someone is lying.

Clark Kent’s secrets and lies made life hard for his friends.
They felt hurt, frustrated, disappointed, angry.

But viewers knew—“viewers” are people observing
the story from a trans-textual perspective—
that Chloe, Lex and Lana shouldn’t have worried.
Viewers knew that all of Clark Kent’s secrets and lies
weren’t a reflection of his relationships
but rather were an expression of the turmoil
going on inside him as he struggled living
as a superhero. Clark Kent is Superman.

A friend of mine seems to constantly keep secrets.
A friend of mine seems to be constantly lying.

I’ve felt hurt, frustrated, disappointed, angry.

A few days ago Lana Lang took me aside
and had a chat with me in strange, intense whispers.

“Maybe you should look at your life,” Lana Lang said,
“from something like a trans-textual perspective.
Maybe the secrets your friend keeps, the lies she tells,
aren’t a reflection of her relationship
to you. Maybe they’re an expression of turmoil
going on inside her. Maybe she is struggling
with superhero angst. Maybe she’s Supergirl.”

I’m guessing it would be tough to be Supergirl.
And I’m guessing, too, that even normal people—
people who aren’t superheroes—might struggle
with something similar to superhero angst.

I’m glad Lana Lang took me aside, had that chat,
made me think from a trans-textual perspective.

I don’t know if my friend can fly, leap tall buildings
in a single bound. I suspect that she can’t. But
if someday she were to let me see her flying
I wouldn’t be too shocked to learn she’s Supergirl.
She always has been a superhero to me.







. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


In Monday’s post I said
I have trouble letting go of things.
That’s true. But with today’s post
I think I’ve said everything
I can say on this topic.
I think I can let go
.













Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cognitive Blur #3: Britney And The Crow’s Song


It’s Christmas somewhere between Duluth and Chicago.
Somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, too.
Is Britney Spears spending Christmas driving herself through
the glaring white headlight and glaring red taillight glow

between tiny incandescent bulbs of LA’s show
and giant neon tubes that keep Las Vegas in view?
Between Duluth and Chicago the dark is a brew,
a witch’s brew of broken light bulb, night, sound of crow.

White headlights. Red taillights. Los Angeles. Las Vegas.
I wonder if Britney driving alone sings along
when the radio plays a Britney Spears song at night?

Duluth. Chicago. The only bright thing this Christmas,
the only pretty glare distracting from the crow’s song,
is the thought that Britney Spears is somewhere in the light.


















Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cognitive Blur #2: Tea And Extinctions


“In any sequence of random numbers,” she said,
“there are emergent bursts of order. Digit pairs.
Consecutive numbers. Strings from Pi. And like flares
in the dark these clusters stand out as if in red.

But they are just random, like clothes tossed on a bed
that fall in a pattern, an arrangement of chairs
scattered at a party that looks designed, the glares
of sun off leaves that blink like Morse code to be read.”

She sipped tea, then continued. “I think extinctions
and radiations we see in fossil records
are just clusters, the dynamics of randomness

expressed by the biosphere. The cool depictions
we see of space impacts and climate change like swords
chopping phyla is our quest-for-order madness.”














Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cognitive Blur #1: Librarian Bond Girl


One of the women working at our library
is taller in my mind than when we stand talking.
In my mind she’s something like a Bond Girl walking
toward me, her eye-line level with mine and wary,

like all Bond Girls, of the schemes she’ll have to parry,
dismissive, like all Bond Girls, of the rubes gawking,
thinking, like all Bond Girls, a soft Stephen Hawking
but female, mobile, not hooked to machinery.

But here in real life—I mean here outside my mind—
I think I’m something like an inch taller than her.
The other Bond Girl things, though, are still going on

but when we talk my eye-line is tipped down I find.
In my mind and out, I love the cognitive blur
of this librarian Bond Girl phenomenon.















Monday, December 22, 2008

“What Is It About You, Lana?”






Clana, Lexana: Loving Lana

Ode To “Smallville”




Back in September I posted “Ode To Smallville” and I intended that to be my final post about Smallville.

Didn’t work out that way.

(I sometimes have trouble letting go of things. I see by the tabloids, however, that I’m not alone in that regard. The current issue of OK magazine announces that Jennifer Aniston is ‘Obsessed with Angie!’ Hmmm. I believe the magazine is talking about Angelina Jolie. Hmmm. Obsessed with Angie . . . [laughs] )

Anyway . . .

So, in September I thought I was done with Smallville. The show had been going downhill ever since season five. Season seven was almost unwatchable, but I watched it. Season eight, the current season, is unwatchable and although I tune in now and then I always click away sad and angry at what the show has become.

However at some point I was watching an old, season three episode of Smallville and I got to thinking about how they established this great character for Lana Lang but then never really did anything cool with her. Obviously they have to work within the established Superman mythos for Lana Lang. Clark Kent knows Lana as a kid and later as an adult, but his life partner is Lois Lane. Still, the show had found interesting ways to explore the Clark/Lex relationship. I thought they could have done much more with Lana.

So I decided to write a little about her myself.

Yeah, I know it’s lame to fixate on a TV show. I once knew a woman—a very cool woman—who wasted an unbelievable amount of time and effort writing a novel [a novel!] about Kirk and Spock. [sighs] [shakes head] I don’t think I’m going to invest too much more time and effort in Smallville. Maybe one or two more posts late this week or next week. That will be it.

Then I will put Smallville behind me.

Incidentally, the season three episode that got me thinking about Lana wasn’t “Obsession,” which I used for today’s frame-based cartoon. It was “Truth.” Here is the scene that got me hooked thinking about Lana.

In this little scene, Lana is talking to her best friend Chloe. Lana’s parents died in the meteor shower and when Lana’s aunt left Smallville, Lana was able to remain in town by moving in with Chloe. They are good friends, but as we see, Lana has secrets even from Chloe. In “Truth,” Chloe is exposed to a failed LuthorCorp experiment [do they ever work?] and discovers that everyone feels compelled to tell her the truth. At first Chloe is thrilled. She’s a proto-reporter and getting the truth from people is her dream. But she starts to experience the downside of the truth during this talk with Lana:


CHLOE: Is it just me or did I completely clear out the lunch crowd?

LANA: No, it was you. Ever since you turned the Torch into your own gossip column no one can stand being around you.

CHLOE: Well, at least you’re still talking to me, right?

LANA: For now.

CHLOE: Okay. What’s that about?

LANA: I applied to the Paris School of the Arts. They have a full-time high school program and if I get accepted I start in the summer.

CHLOE: Wow. I guess I’m out of the loop. When did you decide this?

LANA: I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. Everyone has their families, you know, and I’m not sure where I fit in.

CHLOE: But I always thought we were your family.

LANA: Oh, come on, Chloe. I know what you and everyone else thinks of me. That I’m driven and self-involved. I just can’t wait to get out of here and go somewhere where people don’t judge me.

CHLOE: I never said anything like that.

LANA: You never had to.

CHLOE: Why have you never talked to me about this?

LANA: Because I couldn’t trust you.



Chloe, in tears, turns and runs out of the room.

That’s a pretty cool scene. But what struck me was Lana’s assessment of her character: Driven. Self-involved. Committed to the arts. The show always featured Lana as a complex character, but it never really explored details of why she was any of those things, and the show never really showed her being any of those things.

I wish it had. Those are pretty cool things and it would have taken the show at least part of the way toward explaining why Clark Kent should be so in love with her.

*

So, that’s the background to these Lana Lang posts. I’ll be doing one or two more posts about Lana Lang sometime in the future. But for the next few days I’ve got Other Stuff on the way . . .














Friday, December 19, 2008

The Year Winds Down #3: Shirt And Tie


Once I compared my love for a woman—
the sense of oneness I felt when with her—
to the way a sharp shirt looks when paired with
a very hip tie. I really mailed out
a short poem built around that metaphor
to a woman I hoped to have sex with.

Yeah. After that I’d have had better luck
with the dry cleaner girl who speaks Chinese.

I’m fervently hoping writing this poem
might be possibly the equivalent—
the beatnik and bongos equivalent—
of the Catholic believer’s practice
of purging their soul via confession.

Somewhere up in the clouds of Olympus
the Muses are looking away from me.
They’re terrified they might see me scribble
something like that shirt and tie thing again.

Oh Nine Heavenly Babes, please don’t give up.

Daughters of Mnemosyne, I confess
and I’m heartily sorry for my sins.














Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Year Winds Down #2: Buying Junk


The nearby neighborhood video store
closed-up for good two or three weeks ago.
During their closing sale I held my dough
while their DVDs cost five bucks or more.

Just before they finally locked their door
for the last time their prices were so low—
DVDs two bucks—I stopped saying no
and bought two horror films. Low budget gore.

I bought “Python 2,” about monster snakes
and a film about people fighting Death
itself, called “Final Destination 2.”

(These are both sequels and though no great shakes
they’re better than both first films.) And then Death,
the monster snake, ate the movie store, too.





. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Dead Butterfly Flapping

My Two Favorite Monster Snake Movies



Monster Snakes And Sexy Tee Shirts


Meanwhile, In An Abandoned Strip Mine...















Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Amy Winehouse In The Sea Of Crises


Last Friday the Moon was close in the sky,
just past two hundred thousand miles away.
I took out my telescope and—to play—
pretended Amy Winehouse had stopped by.

She fell, vomited. I didn’t care why.
I observed at low power. Amy lay
in the cold grass, groaning. She’d sit up, sway
and collapse back down. The Moon was east. High.

“There’s the Sea of Serenity,” I said.
“The Sea of Clouds is to the left and down.
Far right’s the Sea of Crises. Bet you knew.”

Pretend Amy Winehouse asked, “Am I dead?
Is this fucking puke on my evening gown?”
It was fun having someone to talk to.













Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Clana, Lexana: Loving Lana


On the TV show SMALLVILLE they explained
at great length Clark’s relationship with Lex.
But though they dealt explicitly with sex
they never explained why Clark’s love maintained

so long for Lana. We know why Lex strained
to win her—his love for Clark was complex.
Lex knew Clark loved Lana. If she loved Lex,
Lex felt contact with Clark as Clark’s grief reigned.

I think I understand the villain’s love.
Among my thoughts there are shadows, twisted,
that “love,” not love. Something like evil schemes.

I’d like to understand the hero’s love.
In my thoughts there’s a light that resisted
vile reason and still loves. Something like dreams.













Friday, December 12, 2008

Know


The words we type on our computer screens
appear in what users call a window.
The program understands the window’s glow
just as ordered collection sub-machines —

a text box, controls, look-and-feel routines.
And the operating system can know
only byte addresses and maps that show
address ranges, substrates, what read/write means.

If I type, say, ‘TRIXIE’ I know so much
about the word-on-the-screen I could teach
students about exactly what they see.

I can’t address knowing Trixie-as-such —
ordered, collected thoughts are beyond reach
and I know I will never know Trixie.














Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wabbit Twacks


What if cities could get up and walk away?

Would Los Angeles get up and walk away
from all the stars, wannabes, hangers-on, drones
and everyone else who calls that city home?

I wonder if Chicago has had enough
of business commuters on buses and trains,
of travelers and tourists off the constant planes?
If Chicago could walk, would Chicago leave?

We had a light snow a couple of nights back.
In the morning I walked for a newspaper.
I found a lot of tracks all around my house.
I used to think tracks like that were from wild life.
I used to think of stray cats, rabbits, raccoons.
But maybe the tracks were made by real wild life.
Maybe cities of the world have been snooping
outside my house at night, trying to peek in,
trying to figure out what I like and don’t,
betting among themselves which city I’d choose
if I could get up, if I could walk away.

When I do someday get up and walk away
I hope the city of my dreams is still there.
I hope it hasn’t gotten tired of waiting.
I hope it hasn’t gone for a walk, taking
its museums and sidewalk cafes with it.

I read the final draft of this piece out loud.
If cities are outside listening, it’s a clue!











Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Year Winds Down #1: Michelle Wie


As the year winds down—and it can’t end soon enough for me!—over the next few weeks now and then I’m going to be picking and choosing some loose ends here at the blog to tie up. Some will be personal, some will be theme-related and some just will be odd.

I’m going to start with one of the odd loose ends I want to tie up.

A few months back I poked some fun at Michelle Wie. [Michelle Wie And Bigfoot ] I’m still no fan of this strange young woman, but I want to be fair in the blog’s coverage of her.

Back in August, Wie had failed to earn enough money during tournament play to be considered a professional golfer by the standards of the LPGA tour. In order for her to play on the LPGA tour next year she would have to attend a playoff tournament called Q-school. Some sports writers speculated that she would consider herself too important to play a qualifier tournament. Others suspected she simply wouldn’t have the commitment to the game to play the qualifier. Others suspected she was simply washed-up and would retire at 19.

But Michelle Wie did play Q-school. She played erratically at the qualifying tournament, but finished tied at 7th. Since the top twenty performers at Q-school get their LPGA card, Michelle Wie got her card and is now a professional golfer. [Wie clinches 2009 LPGA Tour place]


Sorry I doubted you, Michelle!


Now the speculation is about how regularly she’ll play, how well she’ll perform and how big of a draw she will become among fans.

It will be an interesting season for the LPGA.

Nobody but Wie knows how regularly she’ll play.

She’ll be competing against players like Paula Creamer. Creamer’s performance at the ADT Championship was one of the coolest sports stories of the years. [Crippled Creamer misses title despite dramatic hospital dash] Will Michelle Wie have what it takes to compete—again and again—with that kind of passion and skill?

About the only thing that is probably cut-and-dried is the fan support Wie will receive. Golf fans are—possibly—the strangest sport fans in the world. They have great appreciation for skill, for the quiet passion that goes into winning at an individual game like golf. At the same time, however, golf fans love a freak show. I mean, golf fans LOVE a freak show. The continued popularity of John Daly is an underscore of this weird fact. [Appreciative gallery loves rogue Daly]

So, Michelle Wie can expect great support from the fans.

And the press coverage of Wie should be interesting. One reporter has already pointed out that Wie is 19 years old, so she no longer has youth on her side. [!]















Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Souvenirs From Wisconsin



I don’t want to go back there, but I know
the answer is somewhere in Wisconsin.
I’ve fallen away from that state, broken,
a piece of glass held to a candle’s glow.

A mirror fragment. A reflected show.
That’s me, but that isn’t the Magdalene
holding me. No Grail here, just tea and sin.
And the Wisconsin state line. I won’t go.

That isn’t the Magdalene, that woman
at the mirror, but she drove the death trip
the same way I did. Fog. Cheese shops. Highways.

She doesn’t offer the Grail, that woman,
not the answer, but what she gives, I’ll sip.
We are souvenirs from the death trip maze.







. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Wisconsin Death Trip












Monday, December 08, 2008

Young Belinda And The Old NFL Camelot




I don’t know much about what goes on behind-the-scenes at the NFL.

But if some NFL insider ever wrote a book chronicling the transformation from the old NFL to the new NFL, that’s a book I’d like to read.

I’d like to know how the NFL transformed itself over just two generations from what it was as the old NFL—professional athletes who looked up to and tried to emulate phenomenal performers like, say, Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett—to what the NFL has become today, the new NFL—a corporately financed extended gang of divas, cement-heads and thugs where erratic, would-be journeymen like, say, Donovan McNabb and Adam Jones are looked to as career and character templates.

I suspect an NFL apologist would say that no business could maintain, today, social standards comparable to what they were forty years ago because society, today, is profoundly different from what it was forty years ago.

This reasoning is not overly persuasive to me.

The world of professional sports is not an emergent world, driven by forces of nature outside of anybody’s control. The NFL is built on players who come out of the college football system. And the college football system is built on decisions made by the staffs of our country’s colleges.

If the NFL needed and/or wanted players of character and skill—hell, if the NFL needed and/or wanted players who could all read and write—then the corporations and alumni and grant organizations would make those needs and wants known to the decision makers in academia.

I strongly suspect the NFL is getting exactly the kind of players the NFL wants. I strongly suspect the NFL has become exactly what it wants to be.

Why any organization would want to be what the NFL has become, however, is a very good question.



Tom Landry at Wikipedia



* * *


This is the finished version of the pencil rough I put up last Wednesday. [Unfinished Cartoon #1]

I thought of the caption while I was doing the final pencil corrections, before adding color.

I like this cartoon, but I like it mostly because I’m interested in the topic, the change between the old NFL and the new NFL. Because I did the drawing first, there was no explicit link between the image and the caption. And the caption didn’t suggest to me any particular color scheme, not even an indoor or an outdoor approach to shadows.

I kept the color very simple. This is all just Crayola crayons on top of the pencil rough, there are no colored pencils or pastels of any kind here.

Sooner or later I’m going to have to bite the bullet and start using acrylic paint and brushes. And I’m guessing that sooner or later I’m going to switch to dip pens for the captions.

This was just pencils and crayons and a maker on bristol board.

Even as I type this I’m thinking that as much as I’d like to polish things up a bit by using acrylics and a lettering pen, I really like—I mean I really like—the simplicity of creating something using just pencils, crayons and one marker on paper.

Who knows what the future holds?










Friday, December 05, 2008

Muskie Light Switch


    1. MUSKIE

A muskie is a freshwater game fish,
a large freshwater game fish related
to the common northern pike, but larger.
Muskies are so large that men and women
fishing for them are called muskie hunters.
Muskie hunters use lures the size of mice,
and it’s not uncommon to use real mice.


    2. LIGHT SWITCH

A light switch changes the state of a light,
off changes to on, on changes to off.
Sometimes a light switch changes the brightness,
dim becomes brighter, bright becomes dimmer.


    3. MUSKIE LIGHT SWITCH

MUSKIE LIGHT SWITCH has seventeen letters.
Rearranged they spell: THICK WIG MISSLE HUT


    4. SEQUEL TO MUSKIE LIGHT SWITCH

Apocalypse of the shaggy bright mice.






- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Notes to MUSKIE LIGHT SWITCH:


Muskie Wikipedia page

“Muskie” is sometimes spelled “Musky”

Musky Hunter Magazine link

“MISSLE” is how shaggy bright mice spell “MISSILE”


















Thursday, December 04, 2008

Heaven From Hell



So—
So you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail
A smile from a veil
Do you think you can tell
And did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts
Hot ashes for trees
Hot air for a cool breeze
Cold comfort for change

And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage
How I wish—
How I wish you were here
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
What have we found
The same old fears
Wish you were here





Back in 1986 I finished my third novel, “Sightings: A Novel About Bloody Wild Evolution.”

Sadly—damn it—“Sightings” like most of my writing remains unpublished. Damn it. Damn it! Damn it!

[sighs] Anyway . . .

So, I wrote this novel, “Sightings,” about a little known aspect of the Goblin Universe. It’s not entirely unheard of for people in crowded, urban areas to report seeing bigfoot creatures. Just like people in rural areas see what they take for a large, hairy, ape-like creature that lives in the woods, people in big cities, even cities like Chicago and New York, sometimes report seeing exactly the same kind of large, hairy, ape-like creatures. Cryptozoologists who may be open to the idea of an undiscovered ape species in the wilds of North America typically ignore urban reports. The urban reports usually appear in UFO literature where the urban bigfoot creatures are treated as some kind of ‘slaves’ to the beings who fly UFOs. But Forteana writers aren’t judgmental and generally embrace absurdity, so Forteana writers usually accept the urban reports at face value, note that they contain essentially the same content as the wilderness reports and then move on.

I thought it would be fun to treat the reports of large, unknown urban primates seriously, in a nuts-and-bolts adventure/romance/science fiction novel after the fashion of a Michael Crichton-type book.

So I did. I thought of what was, hopefully, an acceptably intriguing and acceptably reasonable explanation of how evolution and natural selection may have created such creatures, how they may have remained undiscovered by science until now and what would happen in major cities if a large, unknown primate suddenly began appearing in urban areas and aggressively attacking people.

It was a fun novel to write. I think it will be a fun novel to read, someday, when I can get a publisher to bring it to market. Damn it.

[sighs] Anyway . . .

When I first conceived of the novel, before I wrote down anything, I imagined one scene in particular that would illustrate the difference between humans, animals and humans who lower themselves to something less than animals. I was planning the scene for toward the middle of the novel. Two scummy men would kidnap a woman, capture one of the urban bigfoot creatures and then lock up the woman with the creature. The men intended to sell video of the creature ravaging the woman. The creature, however, being an animal, quickly kills the woman and prepares to eat her. The scummy guys, disappointed, go into the enclosure to try to prod the creature into doing more and end up getting killed and eaten themselves. The point of the scene was to have been that there are humans who have become far more monstrous than anything the animal kingdom can generate through evolution and natural selection.

I started writing and the main characters and main plot moved along very nicely. When I arrived at the middle of the novel, however, I was so involved with the main action that I hesitated to write the scene about the two scummy guys kidnapping a woman. Even in a novel about marauding monsters rampaging and killing people throughout Chicago, it seemed too unpleasant to create the scene with those two scummy guys being lower than animals.

I never wrote the scene.

I got all the way through the novel, had animals killing people, people killing animals, said everything I wanted to say about bloody wild evolution, but I never wrote that one scene that was part of my original thinking for the novel.

Part of the reason was craft—I wanted to keep the tone of the novel on track, exciting, not bogged down into a claustrophobic kidnap sequence.

But another part of the reason has to do with one particular conception of Heaven and Hell.

I no longer remember where I first read this, but some people believe that when we die we don’t go to a classically Christian Heaven or Hell. Rather, we go to a place that is built entirely around what we imagined, wished for, dreamed of—and what we struggled to bring into reality—while we were alive as human beings.

What we imagine in this world, what we approximate by craft, our creations in this world, will be given to us completely and perfected in the next world.

If a person imagined/created nothing, just went through life doing what they were told, what was expected of them, then their afterlife will be featureless and bland, an eternity of the kind of nothingness they approximated here on Earth.

If a person imagined/created good art, good entertainment or a good life—imagined/created good feelings among others, warm relationships with friends, supportive love among family—then in the afterlife such people will spend eternity with the art they created, made real, their fantasies made real, their good thoughts and good actions perfected.

If a person imagined and created bad art, bad entertainment, devoted themselves to fantasizing about nightmares and actually caused pain, suffering and tribulations, such people will spend eternity experiencing the nightmares and grief they devoted their life to, but their suffering will be so much more extreme because their tribulations will be perfected, not approximations.

I don’t know that I whole-heartedly believe in this conception of Heaven and Hell. But I think it’s a good one. It is a metaphysics of you reap what you sow.

Simply by my nature I work with the intention of creating things that give people something to smile about or something intriguing to think about. I don’t want to contribute in any way to the nightmarish, idiotic, dark, violent, dehumanizing nonsense that seems to define the art/entertainment/pop worlds today. First, I don’t want to do it because I see no value there, it doesn’t make anyone smile except sad, seriously dehumanized souls and genuine psychos. Second, somewhere in the back of my mind or down in my deepest secret soul I wouldn’t be surprised if that conception of the afterlife turns out to be true—when we die we transition into some kind of larger reality where we will reap what we have sown.

Even though I’ve built my would-be career on writing about monsters and weirdness (and people trying to enjoy a little romance while dealing with monsters and weirdness) I wouldn’t be too afraid to find that God has Crafted for me a kind of afterlife terrarium built out of all my fantasies and things I’ve written. A little afraid, but not too afraid . . .










Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Unfinished Cartoon #1




This is what one of my cartoons looks like after about an hour’s work.

Normally I come up with a caption first and then do the drawing, but sometimes I like to start with a drawing just as a change of pace.

This is a cartoon without a caption after two sessions of about 20-30 minutes each. So far this is just graphite pencil on bristol board.

Yesterday, in the first session, I put in the pencil rules for the caption area and sketched in a rough layout of the features and light/dark areas. This morning, in a second session, I deepened the dark areas and fine-tuned the features a little bit.

I’ll probably do one more session with only graphite, fixing the features quite a bit. The neck, nose and eyes don’t look quite right yet. And I’ll take the dark areas much further down, to almost black, using graphite and a stump.

Then I’ll do a session laying in colors roughly, using some combination of crayon, soft pastel, hard pastel and colored pencils. Then another session rendering the colors more fully, trying to kinda/sorta approach the look of acrylic without actually using a liquid medium with brushes. Then a final session with anything handy, tweaking everything into a final cartoon.

I can put the caption in at any time along the way. First I pencil the letters, then ink them with a Pigma marker. I’m not really happy with the look of a marker for lettering. But I just don’t have the energy to use a dip pen. That’s the look I like, but I need to find a way to achieve it without actually doing it. (Come to think of it, that’s a problem I have in many areas of my life...)

This stage is one of my favorite parts of drawing. Things are far from perfect, far from finished, but part of me would be happy to stop here. It already “looks” like what I want the finished image to look like and from now on every touch I make to the bristol board I’m going to be nervous about making sure that I take the image further but don’t “lose” the look I’ve already achieved.

One of the coolest thing about having computers and scanners is that a 300dpi scan of a rough like this pretty much makes sure that even if I screw up completely going to a final, this rough will never be lost completely.

*

Too bad we can’t scan ourselves, save ourselves as roughs and then if we fuck up our life, just go back to an earlier version...

*

Oh, as soon as I typed “scan ourselves” I remembered a cool song about scanning ourselves:



Here at Laughing Pines
Where the party never ends
There's a spicy new attraction
On the Funway
You can scan yourself
For traces of old heartaches
The details of desire

Shimmering, shimmering . . .

Yowie! - It's Connie Lee
At the wheel of her Shark-de-Ville
We're cruising at about a thousand miles an hour
But the car is standing still
So good to hear that crazy laugh
To hear her whisper, 'Hold me tight!'
To learn to love all over again
On that warm wet April night

    Swing out
    To Lake Nostalgia
    Route 5 to Laughing Pines
    Get off at Funway West
    Drive into Springtime
    Drive into Springtime

Easter Break - '66
A shack on Cape Sincere
Mad Mona baking gospel candy
It was a radical year
We get a little silly
And fall into microspace
It's even better this time around
With Coltrane on the K.L.H.

    Swing out
    To Lake Nostalgia
    Route 5 to Laughing Pines
    Get off at Funway West
    Drive into Springtime
    Drive into Springtime

It's you and me honey, in a crowded booth
At the Smokehouse in the Sand
I'm dragging out some bad old gag
When you touch my hand
At 4 a.m. we go out of this place
You look absurdly sweet
We hike downtown to Avenue A
Like we own the street

    Swing out
    To Lake Nostalgia
    Route 5 to Laughing Pines
    Get off at Funway West
    Drive into Springtime
    Drive into Springtime










Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Fluffy And The Three Stooges



This could be suffering
This could be pleasure
I’m unaware of any difference
My head is aging
My balls are aching
But I’m not looking for deliverance








So far as I know, Fluffy the cat does not have access to the internet.

I’ve posted that I don’t know—don’t really want to know—what Fluffy gets up to at night. [After Dark] It’s a wild world, but I don’t really think she gets out, goes to Kinkos and reads through this blog.

That having been said, I don’t think Fluffy knows I went public with my suspicions she is trying to kill me. [Oh-Oh. If Cats Could Fly... (The Poem)]

And that having been said, I am nonetheless concerned because she seems to be stepping up her attacks.

*

Fluffy is a long-haired cat and one of the consequences of living with a long-haired cat is that you have to vacuum a lot. I mean, a lot.

A couple of weeks ago I grabbed the vacuum from the utility room.

Now, the sound of the vacuum motor scares Fluffy so as soon as she hears the machine rattling as it comes out of the utility room she runs and hides. Fluffy is very good at hiding. Sometimes she hides in one of the bedrooms, sometimes behind the microwave, sometimes behind books or junk on one of the bookshelves. And she often just sort of disappears and then sort of reappears when the vacuuming is done.

So, I grabbed the vacuum from the utility room and by the time I rolled it into the living room and plugged it in, Fluffy was nowhere to be seen. She was hiding.

So, I vacuumed the living room, the hallway, the two south bedrooms and then got to my bedroom.

First I vacuumed the area next to the entertainment center where I exercise in the morning. Then I got to the area around my bed.

As I pushed the roaring vacuum toward my bed, Fluffy came shooting out from under the bed. She had been hiding there.

That’s when I put on a Three Stooges episode all by myself.

As Fluffy ran out from under the bed, I tried to push the vacuum cleaner to the side so that there would be no chance of me hitting Fluffy. At the same time, I tried to move both of my feet out of the way to give Fluffy a clear path to the door. When I put down my right foot, it landed on the cord of the vacuum cleaner that I was trying to push aside. The force of me pushing the vacuum cleaner was just strong enough to knock me off balance when the cord jerked under my foot. But I had already started moving my left foot so there I was tipping over and neither of my feet was firmly on the ground.

So I fell.

But I didn’t fall all the way to the soft—and by then reasonably clean—carpet.

The hard wooden bedpost at the foot of my bed stopped me from falling all the way to the soft carpet.

And the hard wooden bedpost caught my fall by catching my body between my right leg and my left leg.

Yeah. It was just like being a young boy on a bicycle and falling off the seat onto the crossbar.

I know that sound doesn’t carry through outer space, but I strongly suspect that the astronauts on the International Space Station heard me scream.

Fluffy, of course, by that time was gone, hiding somewhere else.

First I laid around for a while on the soft—and reasonably clean—carpet, banging my head against the floor. Then I got up and limped through the rest of my vacuuming routine. Then I took a long shower, alternating the water between very hot and very cold.

By the next morning, when I looked at myself in the mirror, it looked like, you know, Little Einstein was standing next to one of those giant Halloween pumpkins people grow.

I could barely sit down for a few days. It was kind of like trying to balance on a cantaloupe that wasn’t quite directly underneath me, a cantaloupe that was armed with knives and hat pins to stick in me if I put too much weight on it.

Over time, the swelling has gone down. But it hasn’t—still!—gone away completely.

Every time Fluffy looks at me I think she’s snickering.

As if I didn’t have enough going on in my life right now, I have to deal with this going on, you know, down there . . .

In the morning when I weigh myself naked and pass the mirror it looks like, you know, Little Einstein is carrying a briefcase in his right hand and an overnight suitcase in his left.

A few months ago Fluffy had blood work done. The vet told me she was generally healthy and none of the blood tests showed any specific problem. But he warned me that by cat standards Fluffy was very old. She’ll be twenty years old pretty soon. The vet warned me that I should prepare myself for Fluffy being a senior citizen cat. He said that even while there is no specific health issue with her body, the blood tests showed that she is an old cat.

I think Fluffy knows that she’s an old cat.

I think Fluffy is plotting to take me with her, you know, when she goes . . .













Friday, November 28, 2008

Why Did Beethoven Cross The Road?



QUESTION: Why did Beethoven cross the road?


ANSWER: He thought he saw a piano over there, but it turned out to be just a 7-octave chicken.



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



And since this post is already more or less about Beethoven anyway, I’ve got one last one of those Britney/Beethoven things. Kind of wraps up the motif . . .



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




Britney Spears And Beethoven: Diminuendo


If I were Beethoven, and Britney Spears
came to say goodbye, I think I’d just play.
I just would sit at the keyboard and play
until Britney’s heard enough, disappears.

What could Beethoven do? Tell her his fears?
Stop playing, party with her? Walk away?
Life’s a party for Britney, that’s her way.
Leave? Or talk and pretend that Britney hears?

If I were Beethoven and knew Britney,
I couldn’t just go, pretend to be cold,
but, too, I couldn’t pretend to believe

any words her practiced voice sang to me.
I’d play something. Music we both could hold.
Sounds, thoughts, I wrote for her. Thoughts never leave.










Thursday, November 27, 2008

“I Am The Villain Of The Story”




CLARK: What are you?

EVIL LEX: I was just about to ask you the same question. I dropped half the lab on you and Miss Sullivan. And here you stand.

CLARK: I was lucky.

EVIL LEX: Don’t be modest, Clark. We both know you’re much more than that. It all makes sense now. That first day on the bridge when we met. How you were able to save me when my car went into the river. All the other miraculous times you appeared in just the right place at just the right moment. Almost as if you possessed powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men. You’ve lied to me for years, Clark. But now I know your secret.

CLARK: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

EVIL LEX: Don’t! I saw you after the explosion. You lifted half a ton of concrete like it was nothing. I should have figured it out a long time ago. All the pieces were there. I was just blinded by friendship. A factor that’s been removed from the equation.

CLARK: Whatever you are, whatever you’re planning, I’m going to stop you.

EVIL LEX: No, you aren’t. You’re going to join me.

CLARK: What?

EVIL LEX: Think about, Clark. My intellect. Your powers. Together we could rule this planet. We’ll walk as gods among men.

CLARK: You’re not a god. I’m not even sure you’re human.

EVIL LEX: Are you?

CLARK: Is the real Lex still alive?

EVIL LEX: Oh, you don’t get it, do you? I am the real Lex!

CLARK: Is he still alive?

EVIL LEX: Sort of. I mean, I couldn’t really be sure what would happen to me if I killed him, so I tucked him away where I could keep an eye on him. Maybe torture him a little when I’m feeling blue.


CLARK super-speeds across the five or six feet between him and EVIL LEX. CLARK is instantly on top of EVIL LEX, his fingers wrapped tightly around his throat.


CLARK: Where is he? Where is he?


Suddenly CLARK gasps for breath. CLARK collapses to the floor at the feet of EVIL LEX.


EVIL LEX: What’s the matter, Clark? You look a little sick. Just like back in the lab when you were with the other me. When he opened the safe door and exposed you to meteor rock.


We see that EVIL LEX has a small, lead ring case in his hand. The case is open. We see a ring inside. The ring has a piece of green meteor rock mounted on it. The meteor rock is glowing bright green, sapping all of CLARK’S strength. EVIL LEX removes the ring from the box and puts it on a finger of his left hand.


EVIL LEX: Every man has a weakness, Clark, no matter how superhuman he may be. I’ve embraced my destiny. Now embrace yours. We could forge a new future together.

CLARK: I’ll never join you.

EVIL LEX: Yes, you will. Or everyone you love will suffer.


EVIL LEX punches CLARK. CLARK tumbles backward out of the barn’s second floor window and falls to the ground below. CLARK’S parents, MARTHA and JONATHAN, run from the house to the barn. They kneel next to CLARK.


MARTHA: Oh my God, Clark! You’re bleeding!


EVIL LEX walks out of the barn. He is still wearing the Kryptonite ring. And now he is carrying a pistol, also in his left hand.


EVIL LEX: I’m guessing that doesn’t happen very often.

JONATHAN: Lex! What did you do?


JONATHAN charges toward Evil Lex. Evil Lex points the pistol at JONATHAN. JONATHAN stops.


EVIL LEX: I’ve got to hand it to you guys. I mean, keeping something like this a secret must have required an impressive ability to obscure the truth. Maybe the Kents and the Luthors have something in common after all.


JONATHAN sees the ring glowing on Evil Lex’s hand. Evil Lex notices that JONATHAN has seen the ring.


EVIL LEX: Yeah! I know about the green meteor rock. And Clark’s unique gifts.

MARTHA: What do you want?

EVIL LEX: The world, Mrs. Kent. And your son’s going to help me bring it to its knees. Now talk some sense into him before something unfortunate happens.


EVIL LEX fires the pistol, shooting Jonathan in the leg. Jonathan collapses.


EVIL LEX: Like that. You were right about me all along, Mr. Kent. I am the villain of the story.








Onyx










Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lost In The Analog


There is a book called
Ansel Adams In Color
containing photos

by Ansel Adams,
mostly from transparencies
and all in color.

Most people don’t know
Adams experimented
with color for years.

He liked the control
and range black and white gave him.
Color was tricky.

New technology.
Adams experimented
with color for years.

He felt black and white
was more expressive for him
of his mind’s vision.

I like black and white.
But I enjoy color more.
Technology now

makes color more fun.
If Adams were alive now
would he still prefer

black and white work, or
would Adams embrace deep bits,
digital color?

If Adams were here,
if he were working right now
and if Adams knew

the people I know —
the woman I’ve called Trixie
he’d stick with color

and fast computers.
Only deep bits of color
can express some things.

Deep bits of color,
high tech digital magic,
supercomputers

maybe could express
the visions in someone’s mind
looking at Trixie.

Of course, not even
all the computers on Earth
could manipulate

deep bits of color
deep enough for expressing
visions that I see,

visions that move me,
visions from within my mind
looking at Trixie.

But Ansel Adams
if he were alive today
with fast computers,

cutting edge printers,
might be able to do it.
Maybe. Possibly.

Digital color.
I’m lost in the analog,
looking at Trixie.







. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Ansel Adams In Color


Where’s Polonius? — And ‘Trixie’













Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Doris Day Day


I’m making today Doris Day Day here on the blog.

This is Doris Day.

She’s a cool singer. A cool actress. She’s one of those rare show business people that I’ve never heard anybody say anything bad about.

I’m feeling awful about Doris Day because she got edited out of yesterday’s cartoon.

Pete Townshend also got edited out of yesterday’s cartoon, but I don’t feel too bad about that because I featured Pete back in a story I told during Marianne Faithfull week. I spelled his name wrong, but he nonetheless had a featured cameo.

Yeah, so, anyway, last weekend, Sunday afternoon, I fired Doris Day and replaced her with Lindsay Lohan.

I’m guessing I incurred a heck of a lot of bad Karma over that so I’m trying to make things right by giving Doris Day a whole post to herself.

When I did the pencil layout for yesterday’s cartoon, in fact even when I started to ink the lettering, I had been planning on using a different caption. The caption in the original rough was: “An Al-Qaida spokesman shocked the world by announcing they would end all global fighting if the West would create a YouTube video of Pete Townshend kissing Doris Day.

I really liked that caption.

It’s absurd. It’s bizarre. And it’s a very obscure reference to a real bit of pop culture trivia. On Pete Townshend’s 2006 album (well, Who album) “Endless Wire” he includes a song where he dies and goes to heaven and meets various dead celebrities. He included Doris Day among the dead celebrities. He wasn’t being cruel, he’s just a British guy who isn’t completely up on American life and he didn’t know Doris Day was still alive.

So, I liked the original caption because it combines absurdity with obscurity and achieves, I think, a cool kind of truly pointless silliness. However, after giving it a lot of thought I decided it was simply too absurd, too obscure, too pointless.

I once made a reference to Townshend when I was talking to someone who is now in her early twenties and she had no idea who I was talking about. Poor Pete.

I don’t mind being obscure, but I generally prefer people at least to have an idea of what I’m talking about.

So I fired Doris Day and Pete Townshend and replaced them with two people who seem to be in the papers every day, Al Gore and Lindsay Lohan. I think the new caption is still absurd. It’s not really obscure but I think it’s still silly. And silly is always enough for me.

*

So today is Doris Day Day.

Doris Day is an interesting person.

She became famous as a singer during the big band era. That was a very interesting time. A person could make the case—I won’t try to make it here—that the rise of radio as a mass-medium combined with big band music marked the very start of celebrity driven pop culture in the particular form that we know it today. Vaudeville of course had been around for generations. But as popular as Vaudeville entertainers may have been, they were regarded by the general populace as fringe people, low-lifes. On the other hand, the front men of the big bands, the band leaders, were regarded generally as more-or-less respectable and became very influential. Someday I will have a lot more to say about the big band era and band leaders (if nothing...discontinuous... happens to me, like getting taken away by aliens or some such thing).

Doris Day is also the only person I know who is tangentially connected to both the Kennedy Assassination and the Manson helter skelter killings. It is a weird, acausal connection, but that is perfect Goblin Universe stuff.

The very first network broadcast of news from that day in Dallas occurred over the ABC radio network. At the time the news broke, the network had been playing Doris Day’s cover of “Hooray for Hollywood.” Doris Day singing about Hollywood got interrupted so the ABC newsmen could tell the world about Kennedy getting shot.

The house where the Manson helter-skelter murders took place was actually owned by Terry Melcher, Doris Day’s son. Manson—so the accepted story goes—was furious with Melcher because Melcher, a music business executive, had declined to record Manson’s music. Manson sent his followers to Melcher’s house to to kill Doris Day’s son but apparently didn’t know that Melcher had rented the house to Roman Polanski. And that’s how Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, and her friends came to be murdered. They were home in the house belonging to Doris Day’s son.

That’s almost certainly not the truth, the whole truth and nothing-but-the-truth about the helter skelter murders. However, like the Kennedy Assassination, I strongly suspect we will never know what really happened. Unless somehow people learn to tap into the Akashic records. And I haven’t completely given up on that.

*

So Doris Day is an interesting person who’s had an interesting life.

But when I think of Doris Day I think mainly of her 1966 comedy film, “The Glass Bottom Boat.”

The movie, made by former cartoonist [!] Frank Tashlin, is one of my favorite films of all times. It is exactly the kind of thing that I love. It brings up serious issues—the space program, national security, cold war spying, love & romance—but all the serious elements are reduced to farce and silliness and absurdity. (Dom DeLuise as a would-be vicious spy who is hopelessly hapless and nice attempting to torture Doris Day?!)

Beyond just being kind of silly, the film features Doris Day being kind of sexy. She has scenes in a mermaid outfit [!] and although she never appears in a bikini, Rod Taylor sends her a bikini after he accidently strips off her mermaid outfit [!] while fishing. Doris Day holds up the bikini and for that second, at least, viewers get to picture Doris Day in a bikini.

Those were the days. Can anybody in today’s world even imagine that a woman could strike a sexy pose just by holding a bikini?

Those were the days. And Doris Day was pretty damn cool.

So, I’m making today Doris Day Day here on the blog. And I’ll end this post with Doris Day singing the theme from “The Glass Bottom Boat:”



All aboard, all aboard
On the glass bottom boat
It's the greatest show that was ever afloat
Take a ride on the tide with the guide and see
The way out wonders of the deep blue sea

The deep blue sea, the deep blue sea
There's a lot to see, in the deep blue sea
The sailfish sail and the blowfish blow
Cockles & mussels, alive-alive-o

The hermit crab, he lives alone
You can't even get him on the telephone
The halibut's eyes turn up and in
He don't know where he's going,
But he knows where he's been

The deep blue sea, the deep blue sea
There's a lot to see in the deep blue sea
The glass bottom boat, you will agree
Can show you the magic of the deep blue sea

Spiney crabs and white fish too
Will all be there, what a hullabaloo
With so many fish upon the sea
There's hardly room for a fat sardine

The deep blue sea, the deap blue sea
There's a lot goin' on in the deep blue sea
Oh life on the glass bottom boat is great
(I'm the captain) You could be a mate

Now the turtle is slow, but not so dumb
He has his own condominium
A bluebird oyster was caught with "foyle"
He "swoyre" he didn't even know the "goyle"

The deep blue sea, the deep blue sea
There's a lot to see in the deep blue sea
The glass bottom boat, you will agree
Can show you the magic of the deep blue sea

All aboard, all aboard
On the glass bottom boat
It's the greatest show that was ever afloat
Take a ride on the tide with the guide and see
The way out wonders of the deep blue sea














Friday, November 21, 2008

Paris Hilton And The Kennedy Assassination — 2


So the strange rumors now are that Paris Hilton
is actually older than people suspect.
Seriously older. And the strange rumors now
are that Paris Hilton has played a larger role
in shaping the modern world than anyone knows.
Seriously larger. I don’t normally post
on silly internet fads and speculations —
I’ve said nothing about Diet Coke and Mentos
but since this is the twenty-first of November
I’m going to say something about this one part
of the strange new Paris Hilton mythologies,
the part about Paris Hilton in Camelot.

*

Proponents trying to win over hearts and minds
to the strange new Paris Hilton metaphysics
often start with an incident I’ll be quick with.
I’ll be quick with this because if you dwell on it
you can almost start to see a kind of logic
to a premise that’s best kept inconceivable.
When you talk about the Bay of Pigs Invasion
it’s not a profound suspension of disbelief
to see Paris Hilton as the guiding light there.
In our minds we can almost hear Paris saying,
“Send some Navy boats over that way. Tell the men —
Oh, never mind. You know, Cuba’s so yesterday
now that all the casinos have closed. Tell the men
just to come home and let the Cubans settle things.”

Paris Hilton is as good an explanation
as anything for that whole sequence of events.
But just because you can connect the dots and see
a cartoon drawing of Paris Hilton winking
that doesn’t mean she really was back there winking
at Kennedy and telling the man what to do.
It’s always good to remember there are other
possible explanations. Paris explains things,
but there are other explanations possible.

*

Paris Hilton believers, strange new scientists,
have a refreshing kind of honesty to them.
They don’t even attempt to cherry-pick data.
They may start with a strong case, the Bay of Pigs, but
they don’t shirk from discussing the Missile Crisis
even though it lacks the Bay of Pigs’ black slapstick.
And that’s really all that needs to be said right here.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved without
the kinds of scenes you’d expect to see if Paris
had been winking, telling Kennedy what to do.
No nuclear missiles launched accidentally.
No bombers dropped their nuclear bombs by mistake.
Heck, no armloads of un-ordered pizzas were sent
late at night to Premier Khrushchev at the Kremlin.
Paris Hilton believers, strange new scientists,
are erudite and overwhelm you with details.
They see Paris at work in every little thing.
But the broad strokes of the Missile Crisis events
are not painted in bold, bright, Paris Hilton pink.

*

Efficacy comes up, too, that day in Texas.
The Kennedy assassination succeeded.
If Paris Hilton had been there as a player
would any of the bullets have hit Kennedy?
I’ve seen the photographs, the stills and movie frames
enlarged, computer processed, computer enhanced.
What’s there, in the splotchy grain, light pulled from shadow?
I don’t believe, not for one hot Dallas second,
that Paris was the shooter on the Grassy Knoll.
I don’t believe Paris was there, made up, in drag,
running everything as the Walkie-Talkie Man,
sending signals by way of the Umbrella Man.
I’ve seen the diagrams. I’ve seen the measurements.
I’ve seen everything interpreted by experts.
They see Paris at work in every little thing.
But I just remind myself that Kennedy died.
If Paris Hilton had tried to kill Kennedy
I think Oswald would have fallen out a window,
Grassy Knoll Man would have shot himself in the foot,
and the secret agents throughout Dealey Plaza
would have started hitting each other with cream pies
while Kennedy waved and then drove away unharmed.

*

In fact the main reason this thinking caught my eye
even though it never did win my heart and mind
is the notion that Paris Hilton is sitting
in the captain’s chair, commanding forty-five years
of intensive research into Kennedy’s death.
Paris explains things. Forty-five years of work gone
and still nobody knows who murdered Kennedy.
Forty-five years later. Endless theorizing.
Endless articles, books, legal machinations.
Forty-five years later and still nobody knows
who ordered the killing, who carried out the act.
Totally void results are what you would expect,
what you’d predict, if Paris were the Captain Kirk
of the assassination research enterprise,
if Paris were doling out the research dollars,
if Paris were deciding who would research what,
if Paris were defining which results would count.
Forty-five years of toil. Totally void results.
Not to mention the endless, mindless blind alleys:
“Look, you can see the limo driver turn around
and shoot Kennedy in the head with a handgun!”

Not to mention the reasonable things unsaid:
“Historically, political deaths often
come at the hands of a person’s own power bloc,
a person’s own former friends feeling badly used.”

Forty-five years of toil. Totally void results.
I don’t believe it but I wouldn’t be surprised
if Paris worked out plans with her pet Chihuahua.

*

Maybe Paris Hilton is the muse and mover
of the contemporary world around us all.
Maybe Paris Hilton is the natural E
that has everyone in the modern world humming.
Maybe Paris Hilton is the subtext beneath
all our textbooks and teachings, everything we learn.
Maybe. Proponents of this, well, cosmology
haven’t won me over, not my heart or my mind.
Their so-called Pink Camelot theories caught my eye,
but pink is a bright color. Paris explains things,
but there are other explanations possible.













Thursday, November 20, 2008

Marginalia And The Kennedy Assassination — 1 & 2


I have two small items that I think about every year around this time.

The two items are unrelated to each other and they are both kind of trivial and silly. But since I’ve never seen anybody else discuss these two little things in connection with the Kennedy Assassination—not in fringe conspiracy magazines, not in books, not on the internet (and that’s saying something!)—I thought I’d lump them together today and put them out there.

Maybe somebody will find them interesting, even if they are both kind of silly.



MARGINALIA AND THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION — 1
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“At the Houses of Parliament
Everybody’s talking about the President
We all chipped in for a bag of cement”



Those three lines are one verse from a song written by a very famous musician. The meaning of the lines seems reasonably plain: “Houses of Parliament” means it’s talking about Britain. They don’t have a president there, so it’s probably talking about the president of the US. And “bag of cement” is a fairly well known euphemism for killing someone.

And only one modern president of the US was murdered.

So, these three lines seem to be saying that powerful people in Britain funded the Kennedy Assassination.

As plain as these three lines may be, it is almost inconceivable that the lines are meant to be taken plainly. Yet how else can they be heard?

These lines come from a song called “Junior’s Farm,” written by Paul McCartney during his Wings years. Now Paul generally wrote silly love songs, silly nonsense songs, and some serious music. “Junior’s Farm” certainly seems to be one of his silly nonsense songs. Here are the above lyrics, in context:

You should have seem me
With the poker man
I had a honey and I bet a grand
Just in the nick of time
I looked at his hand

I was talking to an Eskimo
Said he was hoping for a fall of snow
When up popped a sea lion ready to go

Let's go, let's go, let's go, let's go
Down to Junior's Farm
Where I want to lay low
Low life, high life, oh, let's go
Take me down to Junior's Farm

At the Houses of Parliament
Everybody's talking about the President
We all chipped in for a bag of cement

Ollie Hardy should have had more sense
He bought a gee-gee
And he jumped the fence
All for the sake of a couple of pence

Let's go, let's go, let's go, let's go
Down to Junior's Farm
Where I want to lay low
Low life, high life, oh, let's go
Take me down to Junior's Farm

I took my bag into a grocery store
The prices higher than the time before
Old man asked me "Why is it more?"

I said "You should have seem me
With the poker man
I had a honey and I bet a grand
Just in the nick of time
I looked at his hand

Let's go, let's go, let's go, let's go
Down to Junior's Farm
Where I want to lay low
Low life, high life, oh, let's go
Take me down to Junior's Farm

Take me back
Take me back
I want to go there...


It’s one of Paul’s silly nonsense songs. But why would anybody include a verse about one of the most troubling political events of the modern era in the middle of a song about nonsense?

And, pointedly, why would Paul McCartney include a verse about one of the most troubling political events of the modern era in a nonsense song since Paul lived through the whole Manson era, when the nuts were saying the Beatles were slipping secret political messages into their songs, and Paul lived through the whole British Invasion thing, which tin-foil fringe Anglophobes have always built conspiracy theories around, saying it was really a British black-ops attack on American culture in general.

This verse always makes me shake my head. It is certainly not nonsense itself, yet it certainly is in the middle of a nonsense song. I can’t imagine why Paul McCartney wrote it.




MARGINALIA AND THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION — 2
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“...The bright sun began warming the car’s occupants as they approached the Texas School Book Depository. Atop the building was a large Hertz Rent-A-Car sign containing a digital time and temperature display. In front of the Depository, the limousine slowed to a crawl to make a 120-degree turn onto Elm Street, although turns of more than 90 degrees were prohibited by the Secret Service. The turn was so tight that Greer almost ran the limousine up onto the north curb near the Depository’s front door, according to Depository superintendent Roy Truly. The car continued a slow glide down the incline of Elm into Dealey Plaza...”



That’s a quote from “Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy.” My point is that Elm Street is probably the most infamous street name in US history. It’s the street on which Kennedy was shot. I think almost everyone remembers Elm Street from watching documentaries about that day in Dallas or from reading about that day.

I’ve always been intrigued that filmmaker Wes Craven wrote and directed one of the most popular horror films ever made and that film has the title, “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Now, the accepted back-story of the “Elm Street” title is that it is simply a personal reference from Wes Craven to a street on the east coast near where he, as a very young man, once made a student film.

However I am not sure I believe that.

Wes Craven is a politically-oriented guy. Wes Craven asked Bill Clinton if Clinton would allow him to film his final days in the White House and Clinton granted Craven access to the White House. Wes Craven gave numerous interviews when his film “The People Under the Stairs” was released in which he said he hoped people would understand that he intended the film as an allegory for the Reagan years in the White House.

It is inconceivable to me that anybody who is sensitive to politics could use “Elm Street” without that usage being a conscious reference to the Elm Street in Dallas. But no matter how carefully I look at the plot of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” I can’t decipher any political allegory there, at least not one that seems to be a reference to the Kennedy Assassination.

The title of the film “A Nightmare on Elm Street” makes me shake my head. Wes Craven is an intelligent, careful craftsman and a decent guy. I don’t believe he could have used “Elm Street” as a free-floating allusion simply to his own past or simply as a knee-jerk reference to a generically sad event. However, although I’m usually pretty good at ferreting out hidden meanings, I don’t see any in the film. But I haven’t given up looking.

I do have one kind of addendum to this item. One time I was talking to a Young Person about this. I described the issue, the street name in Dallas, the movie title. They thought about it for a second then said, “Well, you know, sometimes things in real life work backward in a silly way. Maybe the secret service guy who arranged the route of the President’s motorcade in Dallas arranged for the motorcade to go on that street because the guy was a big fan of the movie.”

I had to look carefully at the Young Person’s face. Not only were they serious and not joking, but they were kind of proud of themselves for offering a suggestion that apparently I hadn’t thought of.

Well, I liked this Young Person a lot, so I just smiled and nodded (and, as they say, sighed inwardly) and pointed out that the Kennedy Assassination happened in 1963 and the movie “A Nightmare on Elm Street” came out in 1984 so the secret service guy who planned the President’s route probably wasn’t a big fan of the movie.

The Young Person frowned, not sure whether to believe me. They said, “Are you sure? I thought that movie came out a long time ago...”

Yeah. Well, that’s one of the reasons conspiracy theories are fun to talk about. They are Rorschach tests, and very revealing, in every way imaginable.















Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Light Bulbs And The Kennedy Assassination — 1 & 2


LIGHT BULBS AND THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION — 1
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Question: How many Kennedy Assassination researchers does it take to change a light bulb?


Answer: Just one. Or possibly a well-coordinated team of anywhere from three to twenty-eight highly-trained Kennedy Assassination researchers working with the support of military intelligence groups and the cooperation of local, state and federal government agencies. Or maybe just the one, acting alone.







LIGHT BULBS AND THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION — 2
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Question: How many Kennedy Assassination researchers does it take to change a light bulb?


Answer: Twenty. One to write a book about the first light bulb burning out. Three to write books refuting the first book about the light bulb burning out and offering alternative theories. Two to write books revisiting and rehabilitating the original book about the first light bulb burning out. Four to develop computer simulations of the first light bulb burning out. Nine to create a comprehensive database of every news story that was published in the world press on the day the first light bulb burned out. And one to change the light bulb.

1 + 3 + 2 + 4 + 9 + 1 = 20 It takes twenty Kennedy Assassination researchers to change a light bulb.














Friday, November 14, 2008

Alchemical Suspicions Of Beauty Without Terror



Tom Stallard, of the University of Leicester, said: “It’s not just a ring of aurora like those we’ve seen at Jupiter or Earth. This one covers an enormous area across the pole. “Our current ideas on what forms Saturn’s aurora predict that this region should be empty, so finding such a bright one here is a fantastic surprise.” The image shown on the left is a composite displaying the aurora, illustrated in blue, the planet’s hot interior, rendered in red, and clouds, which appear as black silhouettes. [Saturn’s polar light show mystifies scientists]



I’ve read scientists have observed
inexplicable aurora
over the north pole of Saturn.
Strange lights in someone else’s sky.

We have aurora here on Earth.
They’re just particles from the Sun
glowing, trapped by magnetism
at the fringe of the atmosphere.

Theories account for certain types
of auroral displays. Sometimes
theories need revising. Sometimes
big theories need revising, too.

Saturn according to theory
lacks mass for fusion reactions.
The planet can’t burn hydrogen,
can’t ignite, can’t become a star.

But I wonder if the strange lights
glowing above Saturn’s north pole
might foreshadow other strange things,
might foreshadow strange lights for us.

Saturn is in Leo. Some say
the Sphinx was once a huge lion
later generations re-carved
to the image of a pharaoh.

Many thousands of years ago
when Saturn was in Leo then
did ancient people see strange lights
in their sky? Did Saturn ignite?

Saturn is dim in our sky now
but if you look very closely
the planet is still beautiful,
still ringed and still mysterious.

Saturn according to theory
doesn’t periodically blaze,
ignite into a second Sun
then dim again to a planet.

But there are many ancient myths,
tales of battles among the ‘gods’
and Saturn, though dim in our sky,
was a god to ancient people.

If Saturn somehow did ignite
our evenings would become as bright
as heavy overcast sunlight.
‘Lucifer’ means ‘Bringer of Light.’

Only a couple of letters,
one phonetic transformation,
differentiate the two words,
the word ‘Saturn,’ the word ‘Satan.’

Saturn according to theory
is the sixth planet from the Sun
and just a planet, not too strange.
And even strange auroral lights

are just particles from the Sun
trapped by Saturn’s magnetic field
high up in Saturn’s atmosphere.
There are aurora on Earth, too.

But I will reveal a secret:
In casual conversations,
in emails that don’t get posted,
professional astronomers

are just as intrigued by the thought
of a low-mass star igniting
among the outer gas giants
as are fans of science fiction.

And, of course, alchemists suspect
we’ve never stopped walking among
shadows of ancient myths still here,
still lit by strange lights in the sky.







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Through Trees And Clouds, Beauty Without Terror