Friday, October 30, 2009

Zombie Chess

I rolled out the board, set up the pieces, adjusted the clocks to forty minutes and sat down.

The zombie tried to eat me.

I reminded the zombie we were playing touch-move and if either of us touched a piece we had to move it.

The zombie tried to eat me.

I moved my king’s pawn to king 4. Or simply “e4” as people say nowadays using algebraic notation. I grew up using descriptive notation, p-k4, but I remind myself every day to be modern and young.

The zombie tried to eat me.

I pressed the button on my side of the clock which started the zombie’s clock counting down.

The zombie tried to eat me.

I recorded my move in my notebook. I do one pair of moves per line, so I wrote “e4” and waited for the zombie’s move.

The zombie tried to eat me.

I watched the zombie’s queen side. I was hoping the zombie would play “c6,” that is pawn to queen’s bishop three, or what people used to call “p-qb3.” When I play Black I almost always play the Caro-Kann defense myself so I’m pretty comfortable playing against it as White.

The zombie tried to eat me.

Forty minutes later the flag fell on the zombie’s clock.

The zombie tried to eat me.

I stopped the clocks and stood up. “Good game,” I said.

The zombie tried to eat me.

I gathered up the pieces and put them in their leather sack.

The zombie tried to eat me.

I put the clock in its leather bag.

The zombie tried to eat me.

I rolled up the green and buff chess board and put a rubber band around it.

The zombie tried to eat me.

“See you next time,” I said.

The zombie tried to eat me.

I left.

The zombie tried to eat me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quasi Una Zombie Fantasia

Today’s post is me playing—and singing!—a song I wrote myself.

I didn’t go back to playing with a pick. My heart’s just not in that. I like finger-style.

I posted the lyrics to this song a long time ago but I think it’s the kind of thing that’s better watched and listened to rather than just read. The third verse—yes, I had to struggle through playing and singing three verses—is a kind of solo that doesn’t transcribe well.

(And yes, the third verse of this song is a kind of allusion to the wild dogs in Makeup, Jazz And Wild Dogs. It’s me crying out in the night, growing restless, longing for some solitary company. The difference, of course, is that Toto goes for melodrama and I go for comedy.)

So as the world counts down to Halloween, here is my Halloween love song.

It’s about a zombie. And it’s about love. It’s about loving a zombie.

Someday before the world completely converts to Taylor Momsen’s reality I’m hoping I’ll meet someone who can feel this way about me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ancient Cities Of The Moon

This picture is Taylor Momsen

To my eyes this is the future

It’s not a future of writing

It’s not a future of drawing

It’s not a future of music

Maybe the Moon is hollow

And a creature lives inside

A creature older than man

A creature that comes on light

A creature of brain and thrill

This picture is a telephone

A doorway to another place

Of brain and thrill and ancient things

Not writing, drawing or music

Of Taylor Momsen and shadows

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Taylor Momsen at Wikipedia

Richard Hoagland on ancient cities of the Moon

The Zombies singing “Tell Her No”

The Zombies singing “She’s Not There”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Ashley exhaled a long breath and looked up from the screen of her laptop. She realized she’d been working all night and she still wasn’t quite finished.

Outside the sun hadn’t risen yet but gray, pre-dawn light illuminated the big tree in her backyard outside the window behind her desk. Ashley felt so exhausted it seemed to require a conscious effort to focus her eyes on the tree outside but she heard birds chirping and wondered if she could see any of them in the strange, shadow-less light. She couldn’t see any birds, but squirrels were chasing each other around the lawn and from her second story window she saw a lone squirrel in the tree scramble out onto the big branch that brushed against the side of the house by her window.

Ashley smiled. She pulled open the middle draw of her desk and looked for the three or four Brazil nuts she kept there for moments like this. Finding a nut, she leaned forward over her laptop, held up the nut between two fingers for the squirrel to see, then place the nut on the far end of her desk that was pushed up against the inside window ledge.

The squirrel outside ran toward the window but stopped near the middle of the big branch. The squirrel stood up on its hind legs. It cocked its head to the left and looked through the window into Ashley’s room at the Brazil nut on the edge of Ashley’s desk. The squirrel cocked its head to the right and continued to stare at the Brazil nut.

The squirrel ran forward and put one paw on the outside window ledge.

Ashley continued smiling. She tried to breath steadily, to keep her body as still as possible to avoid scaring the squirrel.

The squirrel scampered over the window ledge and hopped onto Ashley’s desk. It picked up the Brazil nut with its two front paws.

Ashley very, very slowly leaned forward.

The squirrel gripped the Brazil nut more tightly between its paws.

Ashley’s smile widened and she took a breath. She stared at the squirrel, pursed her lips and said, gently but firmly, “Boo!”

The squirrel seemed to raise the nut to protect itself, but Ashley saw it was really transferring the Brazil nut to its mouth. With the nut safely between its teeth, the squirrel tumbled over backwards and leaped straight from Ashley’s desk over the window ledge to the branch outside. It ran along the branch and stopped where the branch merged with the tree trunk. The squirrel turned around, sat back on its haunches and used both front paws to remove the Brazil nut from its mouth.

The squirrel bobbed its head, getting a good look at Ashley and chirped and chittered and maybe even barked a little at her while waving its tail from side to side.

Ashley laughed out loud.

The squirrel quieted down then settled on its back legs, still keeping a watchful eye on Ashley and began eating the Brazil nut.

Ashley laughed, then took a long breath, ran her fingers through her hair and sat back in her chair. Feeling energetic herself now, maybe even a little squirrely, she looked back at the screen of her laptop, laughed again and reached to the keyboard to finish up her night’s work.

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

I had originally wanted to illustrate this story. I liked the idea of capturing the subtle changes in a person’s face going from tired and listless to amused and energetic. But as I whined about last week I don’t know anyone right now to use as a model and I hate—I mean, hate—the thought of using photographs as models for careful illustrations. So I might come back to this story some day when I know a woman who’ll pose for me in exchange for dinner or something.

Squirrels have played a larger role in this blog than I’d have thought. I’m pretty neutral about the critters in real life. But back in 2006 a squirrel showed up playing jazz guitar in Martin’s Sweater #2. And in 2007 I mentioned that my favorite novel in the Redwall saga is the story of Triss, the brave squirrelmaid. Just recently I wrote Squirrels And The Lost Mountains Of Tibet. That story, although I haven’t written out the background yet, is about another squirrel that plays jazz guitar. And now there’s a squirrel in “Boo!” I guess it’s because I’m a city guy. Squirrels and sparrows are everywhere. And I’ve written about sparrows twice: Sparrow And Moon back in 2008 and Death (In The American Eccentric Empirical Tradition) back in 2007.

I like the name “Ashley.” It makes me think of youth, energy and the future because I’ve known three young woman named Ashley in my life. Ashley #1 was very cool, and I’ve never minded admitting that hoping to impress her [ha!] was one of the main reasons I started this blog. Ashley #3 is very cool, and I enjoy talking to her once or twice a week now. Ashley #2 wasn’t so cool. No. Me writing about Ashley has nothing at all to do with Ashley #2.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

To Push Away The Universe Itself

Not far from here by a big parking lot
near the edge where asphalt meets the sidewalk
there is a square but crumbling old boulder
and leaning against the old piece of rock
is a tall spindly yellow wildflower.
I believe the stone is a discarded
decorative boulder, weathered, chipped, misshaped.
The wildflower leans against the boulder.
I believe the support from the boulder
allowed the wildflower to grow too tall
and now the plant seems too thin for its height.
Winter is coming. Strong winds. Heavy snow.
I believe water seeping into cracks
and freezing to ice will break the boulder
and reduce it finally just to stones.
The wildflower, too frail, will fold, collapse.
By spring the edge of the big parking lot
just will be asphalt and concrete sidewalk.
But right now there’s a beautiful, gentle
yellow flower leaning against a rock
and the tiny yellow blossom is bright
so bright above the simple gray boulder
the flower looks like a star out in space
and the stone looks like a rocky planet
illuminated by the golden glow,
a star and planet, a solar system,
and whether galaxies explode, collapse
or crumble between the fingers of God,
right now there is a beautiful, gentle
yellow flower leaning against a rock
and right now that passing scene is enough
to push away the universe itself
as the stupid fucking good for nothing
cosmos tries to die its entropic death.
The wildflower and the boulder just laugh
and say, “No. Not right now. Come back later.”

Tough Stuff In Progress

If Pixar hired me today to create an animated movie I would pitch two story ideas to them. The story of a group of squirrels trying to save the world, and the story of a young girl named Jenny trying to deal with her friend Sara’s quest to die and come back to life.

Squirrels And The Lost Mountains Of Tibet

Sara’s Zombie Quest Disgusted Jenny

For both of these ideas I’ve got a lot of background material worked out but I’m not sure how to proceed.

Do I want to write them? As short stories? As novels? As cycles of poems?

Do I want to script them in Final Draft, in case I ever do get a contact at a studio?

Do I want to draw them? As a series of cartoons? As illustrated books? As so-called graphic novels?

Do I want to animate them in Toon Boom, as minimalist but complete movies, sort of cartoon mumblecore versions of The Blair Witch Project style of filmmaking?

Technology today is extraordinary and there is something almost magical in having the ability to even ask these questions.

It’s important to me to, so to speak, live up to the reality around me. If something is possible then those who can do it—or at least attempt it—should do it, or at least attempt it. I accept this simply as axiomatically true.

I don’t mind being a slacker in regard to a ‘normal’ life, but I have no desire at all to waste time in regard to important things.

I don’t know.

I’m kind of puttering around right now trying to sort out what to do, trying to spend my time doing things that are consistent with any or all the above courses of action.

Over the weekend I expect to move the story of Jenny and Sara forward a little bit. I may hit an art store and buy some markers.

I don’t know.

This is a tough one.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Scary, Pumpkin Time Of Year

It’s this scary, pumpkin time of year.

It’s only fitting that I looked through
the dark windows of an old, dark house
and saw some strange, dark shape that scared me.

I bet sometime I will look again.

And I bet I’ll get scared again, too.

But being scared is a reminder
the old, dark creatures haunting this world
are real and waiting to be looked at,
waiting to try to spread their terror,
to spread their darkness, into the light.

But being scared is a reminder
the old, dark creatures haunting this world
only have power over people
who do more than look in dark places.

The old, dark creatures haunting this world
only have power over people
who look in the dark places and see
the strange, dark shapes, terrifying shapes,
but then embrace the terror, refuse
to look away from the strange, dark shapes,
invite the darkness into the light.

I bet sometime I will look again.

And I bet I’ll get scared again, too.

It’s this scary, pumpkin time of year.

Running away from the strange, dark shapes,
running to the safe, embracing light,
reminds us life is for the living.

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Friday I Visited A Haunted House (A Befuddlement)

Vic Mizzy

And this sad Vic Mizzy news:

Vic Mizzy dies at 93; film and TV composer
wrote 'Addams Family' theme song

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Even Her Crayons Were Lies

She threw a box of crayons at me

I didn’t even bother to duck

It wasn’t a real box of crayons

It was just the words “box of crayons”

The sequence of consonants and vowels

Uttered or typed or just imagined

They weren’t real little wax pencils

They weren’t real colors had no weight

You couldn’t smell them or draw with them

When they missed me smashed against the wall

The box didn’t split open and spill

Colored crayons all over the floor

An interesting pattern of sticks

She threw a box of crayons at me

I didn’t even bother to duck

Because an interesting pattern

Of pretty colored sticks on the floor

Would have been something real something true

Something not a lie something like art

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Planetary Light And The Combustion Of Stars

Today we have a special guest blogger, Mr. E. B. White.

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, possibly for as long as I’ve had Impossible Kisses because this essay was part of my thinking when I created this blog although I first looked around and found the text online back in July when I posted William Shatner Is Like Poetry which was me explicitly trying to write like this although I know I am always trying to write like this.

I think many people remember E. B. White only as the author of “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little” but White also wrote essays that appeared regularly in the New Yorker and often his essays weren’t even signed yet many people read the magazine just to read White. And this is back when magazines, especially the New Yorker, played a major role in pop culture.

There were no blogs in the first decades of the twentieth century but E. B. White blogged the New Yorker. And he blogged great.

I can hardly put two words together without hearing in my mind some phrase E. B. White wrote and measuring my own word choice against his, my thinking against my understanding of his thinking.

E. B. White was a Writer, capital “W,” and I am something like tingling with excitement today putting one of his essays on Impossible Kisses.

This essay, “The Ring of Time,” has lots of stuff I like. A beautiful girl. A beautiful skillful girl. The entertainment business. An outsider looking in. Philosophy. Worlds in collision. (Although not in collision really. But that sounds better than saying worlds in binding infinite asymptotic spirals. I can’t right now think of another short phrase that loses the word asymptotic. Although I love the word I’m dubious about using words that will make people frown when they read them. Perihelion is a good word too but I probably would have skipped it the other day upon further reflection just to avoid making people frown.)

This is E. B. White blogging and to my eyes it is blogging at its finest.

After the lions had returned to their cages, creeping angrily through the chutes, a little bunch of us drifted away and into an open doorway nearby, where we stood for a while in semi-darkness watching a big brown circus horse go harumphing around the practice ring. His trainer was a woman of about forty, and the two of them, horse and woman, seemed caught up in one of those desultory treadmills of afternoon from which there is no apparent escape. The day was hot, and we kibitzers were grateful to be briefly out of the sun’s glare. The long rein, or tape, by which the woman guided her charge counterclockwise in his dull career formed the radius of their private circle, of which she was the revolving center; and she, too, stepped in a tiny circumference of her own, in order to accommodate the horse and allow him his maximum scope. She had on a short-skirted costume and conical straw hat. Her legs were bare and she wore high heels, which probed deep into the loose tanbark and kept her ankles in a state of constant turmoil. The great size and meekness of the horse, the repetitious exercise, the heat of the afternoon, all exerted a hypnotic charm that invited boredom; we spectators were experiencing a languor—we neither expected relief nor felt entitled to any. We had paid a dollar to get into the grounds, to be sure, but we had got our dollar’s worth a few minutes before, when the lion tamer’s whiplash had got caught around a toe of one of the lions. What more did we want for a dollar?

Behind me I heard someone say, “Excuse me, please,” in a low voice. She was halfway into the building when I turned and saw her—a girl of sixteen or seventeen, politely threading her way through us onlookers who blocked the entrance. As she emerged in front of us, I saw that she was barefoot, her dirty little feet fighting the uneven ground. In most respects she was like any of the two or three dozen showgirls you encounter if you wander about the winter quarters of Mr. John Ringling North’s circus, in Sarasota—cleverly proportioned, deeply browned by the sun, dusty, eager, and almost naked. But her grave face and the naturalness of her manner gave her a sort of quick distinction and brought a new note into the gloomy octagonal building where we had all cast our lot for a few moments. As soon as she had squeezed through the crowd, she spoke a word or two to the older woman, whom I took to be her mother, stepped into the ring, and waited while the horse coasted to a stop in front of her. She gave the animal a couple of affectionate swipes on his enormous neck and then swung herself aboard. The horse immediately resumed his rocking canter, the woman goaded him on, chanting something that sounded like, “Hop! Hop!”

In attempting to recapture this mild spectacle, I am merely acting as a recording secretary for one of the oldest societies—the society of those who, at one time or another, have surrendered, without even a show of resistance, to the bedazzlement of a circus rider. As a writing man, or secretary, I have always felt charged with the safekeeping of all unexpected items of worldly or unworldly enchantment, as though I might be held personally responsible if even a small one were to be lost. But it is not easy to communicate anything of this nature. The circus comes as close to being the world in a microcosm as anything I know; in a way, it puts all the rest of show business in the shade. Its magic is universal and complex. Out of its wild disorder comes order; from its rank smell rises the good aroma of courage and daring; out of its preliminary shabbiness comes the final splendor. And buried in the familiar boast of its advance agents lies the modesty of most of its people. For me the circus is at its best before it has been put together. It is at its best at certain moments when it comes to a point, as through a burning glass, in the activity and destiny of a single performer out of so many. One ring is always bigger than three. One rider, one aerialist, is always greater than six. In short, a man has to catch the circus unawares to experience its full impact and share its gaudy dream.

The ten-minute ride the girl took achieved—as far as I was concerned, who wasn’t looking for it, and quite unbeknownst to her, who wasn’t even striving for it—the thing that is sought by performers everywhere, on whatever stage, whether struggling in the tidal currents of Shakespeare or bucking the difficult motion of a horse. I somehow got the idea she was just cadging a ride, improvising a shining ten minutes in the diligent way all serious artists seize free moments to hone the blade of their talent and keep themselves in trim. Her brief tour included only elementary postures and tricks, perhaps because they were all she was capable of, perhaps because her warm-up at this hour was unscheduled and the ring was not rigged for a real practice session. She swung herself off and on the horse several times, gripping his mane. She did a few knee-stands—or whatever they are called—dropping to her knees and quickly bouncing back up on her feet again. Most of the time she simply rode in a standing position, well aft on the breast, her hands hanging easily at her sides, her head erect, her straw-colored ponytail lightly brushing her shoulders, the blood of exertion showing faintly through the tan of her skin. Twice she managed a one-foot stance—a sort of ballet pose, with arms outstretched. At one point the neck strap of her bathing suit broke and she went twice around the ring in the classic attitude of a woman making minor repairs to a garment. The fact that she was standing on the back of a horse while doing this invested the matter with a clownish significance that perfectly fitted the spirit of the circus—jocund, yet charming. She just rolled the strap into a neat ball and stowed it inside her bodice while the horse rocked and rolled beneath her in dutiful innocence. The bathing suit proved as self-reliant as its owner and stood up well enough without benefit of a strap.

The richness of the scene was in its plainness, its natural condition—of horse, of ring, of girl, even to the girl’s bare feet that gripped the bare back of her proud and ridiculous mount. The enchantment grew not out of anything that happened or was performed but out of something that seemed to go around and around and around with the girl, attending her, a steady gleam in the shape of a circle—a ring of ambition, of happiness, of youth. (And the positive pleasures of equilibrium under difficulties.) In a week or two all would be changed, all (or almost all) lost: the girl would wear makeup, the horse would wear gold, the ring would be painted, the bark would be clean for the feet of the horse, the girl’s feet would be clean for the slippers she’d wear. All, all would be lost.

As I watched with the others, our jaws adroop, our eyes alight, I became painfully conscious of the element of time. Everything in the hideous old building seemed to take the shape of a circle, conforming to the course of the horse. The rider’s gaze, as she peered straight ahead, seemed to be circular, as though bent by force of circumstance; then time itself began running in circles, so the beginning was where the end was, and the two were the same, and one thing ran into the next and time went round and round and got nowhere. The girl wasn’t so young that she did not know the delicious satisfaction of having a perfectly behaved body and the fun of using it to do a trick most people can’t do, but she was too young to know that time does not really move in a circle at all. I thought: “She will never be as beautiful as this again”—a thought that made me acutely unhappy—and a flash in my mind (which is too much of a busybody to suit me) had projected her twenty-five years ahead, and she was now in the center of the ring, on foot, wearing a conical hat and high heeled shoes, the image of the older woman, holding the long rein, caught in the treadmill of an afternoon long in the future. “She is at that enviable moment in life [I thought] when she believes she can go once around the ring, make one complete circuit, and at the end be exactly the same age as at the start. Everything in her movements, her expression, told you that for her the ring of time was perfectly formed, changeless, predictable, without beginning or end, like the ring in which she was traveling at this moment with the horse that wallowed under her. And then I slipped back into my trance and time was circular again—time, passing quietly with the rest of us, so as not to disturb the balance of a performer.

Her ride ended as casually as it had begun. The older woman stopped the horse, and the girl slid to the ground. As she walked toward us to leave, there was a quick, small burst of applause. She smiled broadly, in surprise and pleasure; then her face suddenly regained its gravity and she disappeared through the door.

It has been ambitious and plucky of me to attempt to describe what is indescribable, and I have failed, as I knew I would. But I have discharged my duty to my society; and besides, a writer, like an acrobat, must occasionally try a stunt that is too much for him. At any rate, it is worth reporting that long before the circus comes to town, its most notable performances have already been given. Under the bright lights of the finished show, a performer need only reflect the electric candle power that is directed upon him; but in the dark and dirty old training rings and in the makeshift cages, whatever light is generated, whatever excitement, whatever beauty, must come from original sources—from internal fires of professional hunger and delight, from the exuberance and gravity of youth. It is the difference between planetary light and the combustion of stars.

“The Ring of Time,” by E. B. White

Modern American Prose
Eds. J. Clifford, Robert DiYanni
McGraw Hill, 1993

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sara’s Zombie Quest Disgusted Jenny

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The Zombie Issue Destroyed Their Friendship

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Evening Sky Is Cloudy

I’m looking for a woman I can want to draw.

When I did know a woman I wanted to draw
I didn’t know how to draw anything at all.

Now I know how to draw. At least a little bit.
But I don’t know any woman I want to draw.

There was a moment like a beautiful comet
At perihelion—a moment bright and fast—
When I both knew a woman I wanted to draw
And I knew how to draw. At least a little bit.
But that moment was bright and that moment was fast.
Too fast. I was never able to, so to speak,
Outfit an expedition to bring together
My observing team—my pencil and eraser,
My drawing tablet, my eyes and brain and right hand—
With the comet—the woman I wanted to draw.

Now I know how to draw. At least a little bit.
But the evening sky now is, so to speak, cloudy.

I’m looking for a woman I can want to draw.

The Mind’s Ocean Redux

One of the very first graphics I created for Impossible Kisses was for a Melville reference:

The Mind’s Ocean

Yesterday I was talking to some people about various parts of a woman’s body and how men react to them. I didn’t have access to any graphics so when I again looked to Melville I looked more directly. I quoted Ahab talking to his personal obscure object of desire, the whale. Afterward I wondered why I’ve never put the quote here. It certainly belongs here. So here it is:

“Speak, thou vast and venerable head which, though ungarnished with a beard, yet here and there lookest hoary with mosses; speak, mighty head, and tell us the secret thing that is in thee. Of all divers, thou has dived the deepest. That head upon which the upper sun now gleams has moved amid the world’s foundations. Where unrecorded names and navies rust, and untold hopes and anchors rot; where in her murderous hold this frigate earth is ballasted with bones of millions of the drowned; there, in that awful water-land, there was thy most familiar home. Thou hast been where bell or diver never went; has slept by many a sailer’s side, where sleepless mothers would give their lives to lay them down. Thou saw’st the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them. Thou saw’st the murdered mate when tossed by pirates from the midnight deck; for hours he fell into the deeper midnight of the insatiate maw; and his murderers still sailed on unharmed–while swift lightnings shivered the neighboring ship that would have borne a righteous husband to outstretched, longing arms. O head! thou has seen enough to split the planets and make an infidel of Abraham, and not one syllable is thine!”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Squirrels And The Lost Mountains Of Tibet

At the garden store after closing time
when the employees lock up and go home
the neighborhood squirrels climb a nearby tree
and run out on a long branch and jump down
to the top of the chain-link fence around
the garden store and then climb down inside.

I’m not sure what the squirrels do inside there.

I like to think one of those busy squirrels
is the real king of the world and the squirrels
are brain-storming—well, they’re squirrel-brain-storming—
solutions to the world’s problems to send
via squirrel brainwaves or akashic chirps
to the human acting king of the world
somewhere in the lost mountains of Tibet
and from there the solutions will diffuse
through odd chaotic cultural channels
to the Far East and from there to the West
and from the West to the ends of the earth
and then everybody on the planet
will have a chance to be reasonably
clean and happy say like most of the kids
on the “Dawson’s Creek” television show
were most of the time even though the kids
sometimes had sad moments of angst and grief.

I like to think that’s what those busy squirrels
are doing but probably they’re eating
the roses and pumpkins and playing with
the dried corn husks and torn up paper bags.

The next time I walk past the garden store
I’ll see if I can get a look inside.

If those squirrels are trying to change the world
I’m going to ask them to bring back jazz.

If they’re just chasing each other around
fuck it I’ll still ask them to bring back jazz.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The End Of A Paddy Chayefsky Romance


MAX the failed network executive is in a suit. DIANA the successful network executive is in a bath robe. It is her apartment. They are lovers. They are fighting.

MAX: (He is raging.) And I'm tired of finding you on the goddamned phone every time I turn around! I'm tired of being an accessory in your life. (He pushes his typewriter to the floor.) And I'm tired of pretending to write this dumb book about my maverick days in those great early years of television. Every executive fired from a network in the last twenty years has written this dumb book about the great early days. (He stops, catches his breath.) But don't worry about me. I'll manage. I always have, always will. I'm more concerned about you. Once I go, you'll be back in the eye of your own desolate terrors. Fifty dollar studs and the nightly sleepless contemplation of suicide. You're not the boozer type, so I figure a year, maybe two before you crack up or jump out your fourteenth floor office window.

DIANA: (She stands.) Stop selling, Max. I don't need you.(She exits to the kitchen to make tea. Her hands are overtaken by a curious little spasm. Shaking, she has to put down the tea cup and saucer. She returns to the living room. She is shouting now.) I don't want your pain. I don't want your menopausal decay and death. I don't need you, Max!

MAX: (He is packing a briefcase.) You need me badly. I'm your last contact with human reality. I love you. And that painful, decaying menopausal love is the only thing between you and the shrieking nothingness you live the rest of the day. (He closes his briefcase.)

DIANA: (Her voice is shaking.) Then don't leave me.

MAX: It's too late, Diana. There's nothing left in you that I can live with. You're one of Howard's humanoids, and, if I stay with you, I'll be destroyed. Like Howard Beale was destroyed. Like Laureen Hobbs was destroyed. Like everything you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You are television incarnate, Diana, indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. The daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split-seconds and instant replays. You are madness, Diana, virulent madness, and everything you touch dies with you. Well, not me. Not while I can still feel pleasure and pain and love. (He picks up his coat and moves to the door.) It's a happy ending, Diana. Wayward husband comes to his senses, returns to his wife with whom he has built a long and sustaining love. Heartless young woman left alone in her arctic desolation. Music up with a swell. Final commercial. And here are a few scenes from next week's show. (He exits. We hear the door open and close.)

DIANA: (Pulls at her robe. She sits down staring at the empty apartment around her.)

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

The End Of A Barry Malzberg Romance

Pris: The End Of A Philip K. Dick Romance

The End Of A Walter Becker Romance


We’ve also seen the start
of a Chayefsky romance here:

A Paddy Chayefsky Valentine (Part 1 of 3)

A Paddy Chayefsky Valentine (Part 2 of 3)

A Paddy Chayefsky Valentine (Part 3 of 3)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mixed Signals

Last night a black cat walked across my path.

I’ve never seen any stray cats around here and now the first cat I do see is a black cat at night walking across my path.

This morning I made a hard-boiled egg along with my normal breakfast and the egg turned out to be a double yolk.


Yesterday’s post was my 900th post at Impossible Kisses.

900 is a nice round number and I considered stopping Impossible Kisses and moving on to other things.

But one thousand is an even rounder number. And I’ve still got some things I want to write and draw and play here.

So I’m not shutting down Impossible Kisses.

But this cat and egg business have me worried.

Sometimes the universe speaks to you.

Last night the universe whispered one thing to me and then whispered something completely different this morning.


The universe is a beautiful woman and I am nervous.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Puddle Monsters: Sonya And The Shoe #2

“So far I’ve seen a shoe, a couch and a crow,” Sonya said. “I expected these puddle monsters to look like, you know, monsters. I expected them to look like, maybe, little plesiosaurs. You know, little dinosaurs or something. Monsters.”

“Monsters can look like anything,” I said. “Lost objects. Animals. People.”

“That must be something,” Sonya said. “A puddle monster that looks like a person.”

“It doesn’t matter what they look like,” I reminded her. “They all want to eat your soul. It’s easier keeping your distance from a couch or a shoe than when they look like a person. A big-eyed little girl crying. Some sexy European. Anything. Your dream come true. That’s how they work. That’s how they get you.”

“They won’t get me,” Sonya said. “Hey, how many puddle monsters does it take to change a light bulb?”

“We’re talking about creatures that want to eat your soul and you’re making jokes?”

“Yeah, don’t worry, I’m tough. Now, come on, how many puddle monsters does it take to change a light bulb?”

I looked at her and tried to convey disapproval and tiredness but she waited me out. I gave in. “Okay, I give up, how many puddle monsters does it take to change a light bulb?”

“Three. One to transform into something that looks like a burned out light bulb. One to transform into a beautiful or handsome person in distress asking you if you have a new light bulb and one to pull the circuit breaker just to make sure you don’t screw in a new bulb and flash them back to shadow land.”

“You’re making jokes but when they look like people even though they do stupid things they manage to work it out so that for some reason something simple like switching on a light can be difficult. That’s how they get you.”

“Won’t be difficult for me,” Sonya said. “I’ve got this down. Fuck monsters. I’m tough.”

“Yeah,” I said, “you’re tough. But they’re monsters.”

“I’m not afraid of old shoes. No matter what they look like.”

“We’ll talk after one takes a bite out of you.”

“That’s not going to happen.”

“You know monsters don’t make jokes,” I said, “but if they did one might ask, How many humans does it take to change a light bulb?”

Sonya smiled. “I don’t know. How many humans does it take to change a light bulb?”

“Just one, the monster would say, which is a good thing because if you eat too much at one time you get that bloated feeling.”

Sonya smirked. She said, “I am not going to get eaten.”

I just shrugged.

Everyone thinks they’re smarter than monsters until they meet a monster that figures them out.

Then you get a bite taken out of you. You get eaten alive.

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

Puddle Monsters

Puddle Monsters: Creatures Of The Edge

Puddle Monsters: Sonya And The Shoe

Puddle Monsters: The Clouds Of Neptune

Thursday, October 08, 2009

All The Sunlight Is For Laughing

If there were three Suns in the sky
people born illuminated
by the three Suns, the Trinity,
the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn,

would only know about the Sun
shining in the sky by itself
from the stories old people told
and would tell endlessly until

the people born under one Sun,
obsolete in a day-night way,
grew old, felt old, felt out of place
living with kids comfortable

talking about three kinds of night,
bright nights, Jupiter-Saturn nights,
twilight nights, brightened only by
Jupiter or Saturn, dark nights,

what old people always had called
real nights, on those convergences
when both Jupiter and Saturn
moved in the same sky as the Sun,

leaving that other sky, the sky
old people just had called the night,
dark for the Moon and stars to shine,
a reminder of a lost world,

of old people, old, dead and lost,
of change as illumination
as change in fact always has been,
illuminating the faces

of the young, laughing, the shadowed
faces of the old, turned away,
ashamed the laughter eludes them,
too tired to try to understand.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Saturn/Books/Mean Things/Rock And Roll

Today’s post isn’t late because I was out hunting monsters. Although that would have been cool. Today’s post is late because I couldn’t settle on one topic. I couldn’t think of a particular thing I wanted to say about one topic, so I’m going to prattle on a bit about four topics. (And I’m leaving off prattling on about the word “Yandere” but someday I will get back to it.)
  • Saturn’s New Ring

  • Klutz Books

  • Celebrity Feud Songs

  • Playing Guitar Finger Style Versus A Pick (And My Favorite Guitar Performance Of All Time)

Huge 'ghost' ring discovered around Saturn

I haven’t talked to any astronomers about this, but my understanding of Saturn’s ring system, including this distant, sparse ring is that the rings are made up of either material left over from the formation of Saturn itself or from debris caused by collisions between Saturn’s moons with each other and comets and asteroids drawn to Saturn by the planet’s intense gravity or some combination of primeval material and debris. Scientists should be able to learn more about ring formation as they determine exactly what the rings are made of.

It’s much more fun, however, to speculate that the rings around Saturn are either debris from “ignition events” or precursors to ignition events.

This idea is that Jupiter and Saturn are both made primarily of hydrogen and helium, the same elements which form stars. Jupiter and Saturn are much too small to generate nuclear fusion themselves at least as scientists currently understand fusion reactions and star formations.

But there are fringe believers who think there may be “modes” of fusion which scientists aren’t aware of yet or there may be other dynamics involved at the core of Jupiter and Saturn which would allow them to ignite and burn as actual stars.

In our galaxy roughly half of all stellar systems are multiple star systems of one kind or another. It would not be unusual for our Sun to have a companion or two.

If some fringe theory like this is true, then rings around Saturn could represent debris cast off from previous ignitions or the rings could be precursors, extra mass which falls into Saturn and tips some internal variable and allows fusion to happen and the “planet” to ignite.

That certainly would be interesting.

And it’s worth noting that if rings around Saturn are connected to ignition events then the distance between the regular rings and this new, sparse ring may contain some clue to the amount of time that goes by between ignition events. If the rings are cast off debris, how long would it have taken for the distant, sparse ring to get that far away? If the rings are precursors, how long will it take for the distant, sparse ring to fall into Saturn?

Klutz Books

I have mixed feelings about books.

I love books and wish more than anything I were a published writer.

But books seem to be old technology. In “Paris Hilton And The Butterflies From Atlantis” I wrote about how old, content-driven books are being replaced by pointless, gossip-driven and corporate-driven books.

And nobody reads books anymore. I mean in the sense of books being elements of pop culture, topics of conversation, shapers of thought. People read books, now, in the same way people weave baskets. Books are hobbies.

I strongly suspect the future of publishing will be some kind of good variant, some kind of reasonable implementation of the ridiculous and worthless Kindle thing. Apple, according to rumors, is working on such a device now. I suspect some combination of the iPhone and the up-coming Apple tablet will be the future of electronic publishing.

Which sucks because books are butterflies from Atlantis and have been for thousands of years.

But electronic publishing will be magic in its own way.

Yeah, right.

Anyway, although books are on the way out, there are still some very cool publishers putting out some very cool books and my favorite is Klutz Books.

It occurred to me recently that I’ve owned more books from Klutz than from any other specialty publisher. They are called “kids’ books” but they are well made and fun to read and, most cool, fun to work with and create from.

A few days ago I ordered a book from Klutz and now every time the UPS truck comes on my block I’m all excited wondering if he’s going to stop and deliver my book.

Yeah, I’m almost fifty years old but it’s fifty going on twelve.

Celebrity Feud Songs

Back in my post “Saying Mean Things” I talked about celebrity feud songs. I was reminded about celebrity feud songs this morning because, apparently, Frances Bean is using Twitter to say mean things about Ali Lohan.

There is an element of awful sadness here. That element I briefly touched on in “I’m Sorry The World Did This To You.” Many kids today never get the chance to be kids. Many kids today grow up to be “adults” who aren’t even human in the same sense the word has been used for thousands of years.

Kids and the “adults” they grow into are becoming as disposable as books.

The difference, of course, is that children and adults suffer, both those trying to live as almost-humans and, for the real humans, in empathy watching the pathetic difficulties and endless pain of the struggling, suffering children who never were children.

It’s awful but it’s the Disney world we live in and I don’t think anyone is going to change it so rather than just be sad about it I’m going to make a comment about the real silliness of it going on at the same time as the real tragedy of it.

At least when Taylor Swift and her Jonas brother flame said mean things about each other they made the effort to create songs. (Although I’ve never heard the songs.) Nowadays celebrity feuds like this Bean/Lohan thing are getting played out on Twitter and in blogs and they don’t generate any creativity at all.

Which reminded me of my all time favorite celebrity feud. I said in my previous post that Dylan’s “Idiot Wind” is my favorite mean song. But at about the same time Dylan was writing that the Beatles were breaking up and nothing in the history of pop culture has been quite as interesting as McCartney breaking up with Lennon.

McCartney and Lennon broke up and publically fought in gossip columns and in court rooms and in letter columns of magazines and, of course, in feud songs on albums.

I’ve already mentioned one of Paul’s feud songs, “Too Many People.” That song has meant a lot to me personally. (“Too many people preaching practices/Don’t let them tell you want you want to be/Too many people holding back this is/Crazy and baby it’s not like me.”)

But Lennon really wrote the best feud song from that breakup and it’s the meanest of the breakup.

In the early 70s, Paul released the album “Ram” which contained more than one feud song. And the album cover included a close-up picture of two insects, one beetle fucking another beetle. Ha, ha, ha. John Lennon the same year released the album “Imagine.” Now they’re both good albums but by and large John’s is much better rock and roll than Paul’s.

But at the time they were released many people were just laughing and gossiping about the feud songs.

Paul’s album “Ram” contained the song “Dear Boy” which John thought was patronizing and which John interpreted as Paul/Linda attacking John/Yoko:

I hope you never know, dear boy,
How much you missed.
And even when you fall in love, dear boy,
It won't be half as good as this.
I hope you never know how much you missed,
Dear boy, how much you missed

John’s album, “Imagine” contained the song, “How Do You Sleep:”

Those freaks was right when they said you was dead
The one mistake you made was in your head
Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?
You live with straights who tell you you was king
Jump when your momma tell you anything
The only thing you done was “Yesterday”
And since you're gone you're just “Another Day”
Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?

Everyone I know feels John got the upper hand there. “How Do You Sleep” was a cool rock song, and John didn’t just hint at his target, he named two of Paul’s songs.

John wins the Paul/John celebrity feud.

Playing Guitar Finger Style Versus A Pick (And My Favorite Guitar Performance Of All Time)

I like playing guitar finger style, but I can never quite stop thinking about picks.

The crux of the biscuit—Zappa—is that finger style guitar can sound cool, it can be jazz and it can be folk, but it is almost impossible for finger style guitar to sound like rock and roll. There’s something about the percussive nature of a pick striking strings that almost defines rock and roll sensibilities.

So although I’ve never uploaded a video of me playing with a pick—I played a melody with a pick in one video but that was just playing a melody not an arrangement—I haven’t given up yet on picks.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because over the last week or so I’ve seen two YouTube videos of very good finger style guitar players and although I admire their talent and I enjoy listening to them I don’t think what they do is or ever could be rock and roll.

I might be wrong about that. I’m still thinking about it.

But it seems to me that finger style guitar playing is at best a jazz sound. And, sadly, a great deal of finger style guitar playing can sound like an old woman playing a harp at a hotel restaurant. And that’s not a good thing at all.

Here are three videos I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. The first two are finger style players. The third is a guy playing with a pick. The third, the guy with the pick, is my favorite guitar performance of all time.

Here is Emmett Chapman playing his custom guitar-like instrument, the Chapman stick. (Can’t embedd it.)

Here is Muriel Anderson (we first met her back in Tricky Times) playing the Beatles’ song “Daytripper:”

Here is my favorite guitar performance of all time, Pete Townshend playing “Pinball Wizard” solo on an acoustic guitar. To me this is pure rock and roll:

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Puddle Monsters: The Clouds Of Neptune

The same sunlight outlining this puddle
making the bounding circumference shine
shines on the clouds of the planet Neptune
so far away in the outer system
it takes that light four hours to reach those clouds
of hydrogen, helium and methane.
Light can travel four hours through empty space
to illuminate the clouds of Neptune
but there are shadows on Earth in puddles
and in dark places surrounded by light
where darkness persists where darkness has found
a way to do more than distance itself
from sunlight where darkness has found a way
to separate its dark self from sunlight.
Darkness that persists something like alive
not far away in the clouds of Neptune
here close in shadows surrounded by light
sometimes moves sometimes something like alive
and we see it. We see darkness itself.
Darkness that persists surrounded by light
something like alive moves into the light
and we see darkness itself as something.
Not far away in the clouds of Neptune
although I’m sure there is darkness there too.
We see darkness that persists here so close
we’re afraid it can touch us. And it does.
We see darkness itself. We fear its touch.
When darkness persists moves into the light
when we see darkness itself fear its touch
when darkness comes close we call it monsters.

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

Puddle Monsters

Puddle Monsters: Creatures Of The Edge

Puddle Monsters: Sonya And The Shoe

Monday, October 05, 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

Things Not Jazz: Ice Cream Sadness

I’ve got ice cream sadness.

I’ve been eating too much ice cream.

My dentist is mad at me.

My dental hygienist is mad at me.

My teeth are mad at me.

My gums are mad at me.

My new blue jeans that I can’t wear
because I’ve gained twenty pounds
and can’t button are mad at me.

Even the little machine
that tallies up my blood sugar
every morning is mad at me.

I’ve got ice cream sadness.

But in the grand cosmic scheme of things
in the ochre light of Jupiter in the evening
in the ochre light of Saturn in the morning
ice cream sadness isn’t a deep blue kind of blue.

Ice cream sadness is like a hangover
that hangs around for weeks and weeks
but it’s not the deep blue kind of blue
jazz musician play distorted melodies about
lamenting too much or too little heroin.

Jazz musicians get groupies
girls who like the way that deep blue kind of light
makes their shadow faces look glam.

Ice cream sadness is an ochre kind of blue
something like green and even shadow girls
who paint their eyelids weird shades of green
don’t think ice cream sadness is any kind of glam.

Even when I’m thin
I’m not really a heroin kind of guy
but I can play guitar a little bit
and maybe if I get thin enough
if I stay away from ice cream long enough
I can replace this ice cream sadness
with something deeper blue
like one of those shadow girls with green eyelids
who will put up with an aqua shade of blue
because I know I’ll never get the blue quite right
but even bad jazz that’s not too bad
can take the ochre light from Jupiter
and the ochre light from Saturn
and make the light blue enough
to make a groupie who’s good at pouting
look glam doing a shadow pout.

I’ve got ice cream sadness.

But I haven’t given up.

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

Thursday, October 01, 2009

2009 3rd Quarter Index

September 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009Puddle Monsters: Creatures Of The Edge

Tuesday, September 29, 2009Puddle Monsters

Monday, September 28, 2009The Sky On The Phone Talking

Friday, September 25, 2009Coherency Marionette — Gravity Laughing

Thursday, September 24, 2009Coherency Marionette — A Word Sonnet

Wednesday, September 23, 2009Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy! — 1945 Version

Tuesday, September 22, 2009Pretty Flowers Pose But Keep Secrets

Monday, September 21, 2009The Crow Equinox

Friday, September 18, 2009The Law Of The Orchid And Rainbow Jungle

Thursday, September 17, 2009Don’t Look Now: Modern Pretty

Wednesday, September 16, 2009What Is Love? 6—Broadway Diamond

Tuesday, September 15, 2009California One Way Sign

Monday, September 14, 2009A Snail Relaxing

Friday, September 11, 2009Everything Disappearing

Thursday, September 10, 2009Conspiracy Theories And Masturbation

Wednesday, September 9, 2009Women Write On Themselves

Tuesday, September 8, 2009Where There Are No Butterflies

Monday, September 7, 2009Coming Up Close Everything Sounds Like Zombies

Friday, September 4, 2009Quasi Una Snow White And Vampirella Fantasia

Thursday, September 3, 2009Snow White And Vampirella

Wednesday, September 2, 2009Polite Doors

Tuesday, September 1, 2009Lost In (Something Like) Rock And Roll

August 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009Faux Yandere—Giggles And Journaling

Friday, August 28, 2009Dracula, The Wolfman And Miley Cyrus

Thursday, August 27, 2009Cell Phones, Street Lights, Something Like Honey

Wednesday, August 26, 2009A Bobber On The Asphalt

Tuesday, August 25, 2009One Pair Of Cool Socks

Monday, August 24, 2009Makeup, Jazz And Wild Dogs

Friday, August 21, 2009Trees At Night

Thursday, August 20, 2009That Third Evil Clown

Wednesday, August 19, 2009Three Clowns On The Dark Sidewalk

Tuesday, August 18, 2009Clowns, Women, But First A Rainbow

Monday, August 17, 2009Diane Revisits The Two Captains

Friday, August 14, 2009Sunshine On Breakfast

Thursday, August 13, 2009How Many Naked Teenage Girls Does It Take

Wednesday, August 12, 2009A Piece Of Clothing

Tuesday, August 11, 2009The Dark Sidewalk

Monday, August 10, 2009Bloody Dangerous Sexy Beanie Babies

Friday, August 7, 2009What Is The Opposite Of Transcendent?

Thursday, August 6, 2009Mathilda And Nicole: Perfume, Things Like That

Wednesday, August 5, 2009Psychopaths: Some Metaphysics, Some Politics

Tuesday, August 4, 2009Death And Dancing And Death-Wise

Monday, August 3, 2009Fallen, Lost Empires

July 2009

Friday, July 31 2009Six Billion Happy Memories

Friday, July 31, 2009Tanya Tucker’s “Lizzie And The Rainman”

Thursday, July 30, 2009Both Touched By Something

Wednesday, July 29, 2009Devo And Kim Kardashian

Tuesday, July 28 2009Not Only Unstable Dizzying

Monday, July 27, 2009Mathilda And Nicole

Friday, July 24, 2009You Damn Punk Kids

Thursday, July 23, 2009Counting To Five

Wednesday, July 22, 2009War, Huh, Good God, Y’All

Tuesday, July 21, 2009William Shatner Is Like Poetry

Monday, July 20, 2009Meatballs For Breakfast

Friday, July 17, 2009Don’t You Fucking Die Mischa Barton

Thursday, July 16, 2009Tricky Times

Wednesday, July 15, 2009Red Bull: The Movie

Tuesday, July 14, 2009Galileo And Neptune In The News!

Monday, July 13, 2009Carla The Postmodern Groupie

Friday, July 10, 2009Los Angeles Is My Daisy

Thursday, July 9, 2009A Supervillain Refresher

Wednesday, July 8, 2009The End Of A Walter Becker Romance

Tuesday, July 7, 2009Unrequited As A Cosmology

Monday, Juy 6, 2009Temping At Impossible Kisses: Chanteuse

Friday, July 3, 2009Me And The Damsel Not In Distress

Thursday, July 2, 2009Paul And The Damsel In Distress

Wednesday, July 1, 20092009 2nd Quarter Index