Friday, January 29, 2010

Expedition To Amy

This weekend the bright star near the Moon
is the planet Mars. Here, where I live,
Mars and the Moon are high in the east
early, around eight o’clock at night.

I wonder if, wherever she’s at,
Amy Winehouse will look at the sky
and wonder what’s the name of the star
so bright so close to the bright full moon?

Mars is close, to the Moon and to us.
At opposition Mars is only
about sixty million miles away,
about as close as it ever gets.

I wonder if Amy Winehouse knows
anybody with a telescope?
Mars is so close even a small scope
shows the planet as an orange disk.

Although Mars is close it still takes light
from the planet about five minutes
to travel the sixty million miles
from out there to us down here on Earth.

I don’t believe, wherever she’s at,
Amy Winehouse will look at the sky
and wonder what’s the name of the star
so bright so close to the bright full Moon.

I’ve seen pictures of Amy Winehouse
but I suspect wherever she’s at
it takes light longer than five minutes
to get from her to us here on Earth.

I don’t believe NASA has spacecraft
that could transport an expedition
to Amy Winehouse. Some distances
cannot be crossed by technology.

If somehow scientists could travel
to wherever Amy Winehouse is
and bring her back to us here on Earth
I wonder if she could breath our air?

And could we communicate with her?
Would anyone know what she eats, drinks?
And I bet she would be lonely here,
stuck on Earth, lost among us humans.

And you know in science fiction films
when the astronauts bring something back
almost always the thing they bring back
turns out to be some kind of monster.

If the sky here is clear this weekend
I’ll probably take a look at Mars
through my little telescope. I hope
Amy Winehouse sees something cool, too.

I hope Amy Winehouse is happy
but that’s an expedition I hope
I am never an astronaut on.
Some distances are terrifying.

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

Amy Winehouse In The Sea Of Crises

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Narrative, And Creatures That Take Us Away

This is a loose end I’ve wanted to tie up for a while.

A long time ago, back in 2006, I did a post called, Narrative, And Freud, about epistemology, looking at the nature of belief and understanding focusing on the alien abduction phenomenon. That post was an excerpt from a book by Susan Clancy.

Clancy’s book is very interesting and makes a good summary for the skeptical position(s) about alien abductions.

But soon after Clancy’s book came out one of the most rigorous and well-respected academics working in the abduction field did a long review of the book. It turns out that when you look closely at what Clancy wrote much of the content is less than buttoned-down. In fact much of what Clancy wrote is down-right questionable.

Today’s post is David M. Jacobs’ review of Clancy’s book.

I’ve removed the embedded links and footnotes, but those are available at his site at the link at the end of the blockquote. This review originally appeared in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 20, No. 2 Summer, 2006,

For people who don’t know Jacobs, here is a short note from his bio: “David M. Jacobs, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of History at Temple University specializing in twentieth century American history and culture. Dr. Jacobs began researching the controversy over unidentified flying objects in America in the mid 1960's, and has amassed over 38 years of primary research data and analytical hypotheses on the subject.”

Some years back, Carl Sagan wrote an article about UFO abductions for the Sunday newspaper insert magazine, Parade. This was in preparation for his next book, The Demon Haunted World. I had received a copy of the manuscript and I noticed a number of factual errors, not errors in interpretation but errors of truth. I carefully noted the problems and sent the manuscript back. When the article was published, all the factual errors were included, except for one very small one: Barney and Betty Hill did not say the aliens “slithered” as Sagan had originally written.

What would possess a scientist to allow for known factual errors in his publication? This is normally unthinkable in any scientific or even a responsible popular article. But this type of behavior is common in debunking and skeptical writings about the abduction phenomenon. When it comes to abductions, scientists become unscientific with speeds approaching that of light. Of course, abductions are not in the normal scientific milieu. They are so far out of the norm that it leads to a line of reasoning as follows: “It does not matter how I get to my Explanation. Doing careful research is a waste of my precious time. Everyone knows that UFO abductions cannot and do not exist. Therefore, even though a UFO fanatic out there might take issue with petty factual problems, I am not required to get everything right because my Explanation will, in the end, be correct.” Thus, when it comes to abduction debunking, careful research and academic and/or scientific justification or rationale is not necessary. The ends justify the means.

In my forty years of UFO research, the last twenty of which spent studying the abduction phenomenon, I have learned a simple evidence truism: All debunkers make one or more of three fundamental mistakes: They do not know the evidence, they ignore the evidence, or they distort the evidence. Any one of these errors would be catastrophic and perhaps even scientifically dishonest when writing about something of accepted scientific consequence. Leaving in mistakes is tantamount to ignoring or to distorting the evidence. Unfortunately, when it comes to abductions, all debunkers comply with the evidence truism. There are no exceptions.

Susan Clancy’s book, Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens, is the latest in a dreary parade of debunking academics, scientists, and writers who have an explanation for the abduction phenomenon while obeying the evidence truism. Clancy has a Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard. She has worked with Richard McNally who has done research in false memories. She had a post-doc appointment in Harvard’s Department of Psychology where she was also able to study false memories. Eventually she came up with a study of abduction claimants. Now she and her book have been all over the media, appearing on Larry King Live, and many other television and radio shows. To the uninitiated she appears to be a sensible and logical voice carefully solving an exceptionally complex and difficult problem. She has received positive reviews in Science, and other media outlets.[1]

Her book does not actually have a new explanation for abductions; she recycles old ones but puts a veneer of “science” around them. She has a plethora of explanations from which to choose. It might be instructive to list some of them. They are in no particular order: Conscious lying for any reason (encompassing many forms and variations), the desire to lead glamorous lives, normal hypnosis, incompetent hypnosis, the collective unconscious, millennial fears, false memory syndrome, childhood sexual abuse screen memories, childhood physical or verbal abuse, fantasy prone personalities, multiple personality disorder, myth and folklore, psychosis (schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, delusions), brain tumors, gullibility, hallucination, waking and lucid dreams, night terrors, sleep walking, hypnogogic and hypnopompic experiences (sleep paralysis), birth trauma, the will to believe, baby desires and fantasies, pseudocyesis, stigmata, illegal drugs, psychogenic fugue state, media influences, “epidemic hysteria,” hysterical contagion, mass hysteria, post-modern anxieties, popular culture absorption, the psychological creation of a physical alternative universe, alternative realities, angels, demonic possession, temporal lobe lability, guided imagery, tectonic plate stress, and/or a combination of any of the above. This list is by no means inclusive. I have left out many, and new ones come about all the time. As I write, the soporific specter of Ambien looms.

Clancy’s book is based on interviews with and tests of self-reporting abduction claimants whom she got from placing ads in newspapers. She soon noticed they have had their experiences at night and they had viewed media depictions of abductions. For Clancy, this means that they have suffered from sleep paralysis with its fears and sometime hallucinations. Searching for the meaning of these poorly understood events, she found that some sleep paralysis victims might think that they were abducted. If they do not at first think this, they “fall into the hands of” (57, 63) an abduction researcher who convinces them to undergo hypnosis. The hypnotist, also influenced by popular culture and the media, leads these vulnerable people into thinking that space aliens have indeed abducted them. Victims, also having absorbed media abduction depictions, buy into it willingly. This theory is based on several variables that must all fall into place neatly: Sleep paralysis is correctly diagnosed, abduction researchers’ analyses are wrong, hypnosis is not correctly conducted, false memories are generated, those memories are influenced by media abduction accounts in both the victim and the hypnotist, and the two people incorporate them into a belief system that becomes hardened as a “real” memory.

The explanation has some problems, the first of which is the content of abduction testimony. One would think that when writing a book about a subject it would be incumbent upon the author to know something about that subject in order to ascertain a baseline of what people actually say when they are abducted. However, for abduction debunkers not knowing the evidence (number one on the truism list) is not worrisome. In fact, ignorance of abduction activity is a driving force behind all previous debunking explanations. Clancy does appear to be vaguely cognizant of this problem and she reassures the reader that she does indeed know something about the subject. Says Clancy: “I believe I’ve read every account of alien abduction ever published, and just about everything that social psychologists, psychoanalysts, postmodernists, journalists, physicists, biologists, and ex-military personal [sic] have to say about them. In addition...I’ve watched nearly every American movie and TV show ever made about aliens.” (82) But because her book contains no bibliography, one must carefully analyze her references. In fact, most are from debunking sources. This accomplishes two important things: It allows her to go forward, free from a having to engage in serious research into the phenomenon (she read a few popular books about it) with all its pesky disconfirming evidence for her explanation, and it allows her to appear as if she has read “experts” on the subject, when in fact most of the authors she has read are debunkers and, like Clancy herself, anything but experts.

Furthermore, given the large number of abduction accounts that have been published (if she had looked in my edited book UFOs and Abductions: Challenging the borders of Knowledge, she might have noticed a bibliographic section of books written by abductees, but her references do not indicate that she has done that), it is unclear how many she actually read. What is clear is that she apparently gained much of her abduction information by watching television shows. One might recoil in horror at this thought, but it, along with her lack of knowledge of the phenomenon, enables her to not have to deal with the abductions wie est eigenlicht gewesen ist (“as it actually was”) — to quote nineteenth century German historians who strove for accurate narrative history.

I do not want to suggest that Clancy is entirely ignorant of the abduction phenomenon. She has a superficial awareness of some its reproductive aspects like sperm taking, egg harvesting, holding babies, and examinations. This knowledge comprises a very tiny amount of the information known about abductions, most of which has never appeared in the media. About seventy-five percent of the information I included in my 1992 book Secret Life had never been in the media or written about in even the most esoteric UFO literature. Yet, the abductees with whom I was working were describing procedures and events with remarkable accuracy and consistency that I, as the hypnotist and researcher, had never heard before, and of which neither I, nor the abductees, knew the meaning. The people who described these procedures and events so precisely were unaware that others were saying the same thing with the same exact details.

As I learned about the phenomenon it became far more complex than I ever imagined but all within fairly narrow procedural pathways. When I wrote The Threat in 1998, I had learned quite a bit more and once again most of the information in that book had not been in the broadcast media or in print. Rather than going into the complexities and precise details of the abduction phenomenon, it is simply worth mentioning that Clancy’s book does not display the slightest awareness of any of the material that Budd Hopkins or other researchers discovered. More disturbingly, she displays no awareness of anything that does not “confirm” her theories.

Along with her obvious lack of knowledge of the subject, Clancy seems unaware of the debates that have taken place over UFO abductions in the past forty-five years. For that matter she even seems entirely oblivious to the debates that have taken place about her own specific explanations. She does not appear to know about a book that came out five years ago, The Abduction Enigma, (one of whose authors is a clinical psychologist) that gave practically her same explanation. Well, I believe that she believes that she has read every academic work on the subject. So, how can we explain her vacuity about the phenomenon itself? The answer is that if you have The Explanation, you need not be bothered by having to acquire this knowledge and therefore in spite of her belief system, she obviously is profoundly ignorant of the phenomenon about which she is writing an academic book.

If she had learned a little more about abductions, she would have realized that her explanations must take into account some of the phenomenon’s verities: During abduction events, abductees are missing from their normal environments. Police have been called, search parties have been sent out, parents have frantically searched for their children, etc. When people remember abductions, they sometimes return with marks on their bodies – not just any marks, but with seemingly impossible fully formed scars. They sometimes return with broken bones and they have no idea how they happened. Sometimes people return with unusual stains on their clothes that were not there before the abduction. Attempts to discover the nature of these stains have been unsuccessful. They return with their clothes on backwards, and/or inside out. They return wearing someone else’s clothes. When people are abducted, they are often abducted with others who can confirm the details of their abduction, as with Barney and Betty Hill. Often it is family members, but there are instances when friends or bystanders witness the abduction as well. People are abducted while fully awake, driving a car, gardening, and so forth. Clancy either ignores or is not aware of all of this.

It is also critical to understand that about half (I am being generous here because my own statistics, based on about seven hundred abductions, indicate about 40%) of abductions take place at night in bed. That does not mean that people are sleeping. Many of them were in bed but had not gotten to sleep yet and might be watching television, reading a book, or just not asleep. In fact, about 100% of the people who were sleeping wake up right away and realize that something is happening to them. Some of them feel paralyzed and others do not. Clancy automatically and without evidence interprets all of this as sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis has long been known to overlap superficially with the edges of abduction activity. I wrote about it in Secret Life. Skeptics have bandied this about for many years as they tried their best to force the abduction phenomenon into it. It died down for a number of years but now it is back in vogue. In sleep paralysis, people cannot move, some people sense a “presence” or even “figures” in the room, some can even feel a floating feeling, and they can sometimes visualize “light.” Sleep paralysis is relatively common, but its effects differ in their frequency. It makes a tempting answer to the abduction problem, especially when you do not know what abductions are.

But Clancy, aside from not knowing what the problems are that have to be surmounted when coming up with a sleep paralysis explanation, has another void in her knowledge that is even more appropriate to her “study.” She has no criteria for establishing who is or who is not an abductee. For Clancy there are no such things as true abductees, there are only people who erroneously think they are abductees. Therefore, uninvestigated, unfiltered people who do not meet a long-established criteria for having abduction events are, for her, “abductees.” Everyone is the same when it comes to abductions because she is “fairly certain” that abductions had never happened to anyone because the victims convey the events anecdotally and the confirming physical evidence is too thin. In fact, Clancy’s qualifier of “fairly certain” reads as “impossible” in her book. One cannot prove a negative, as she points out, but the book conveys a powerful sense that for her this negative is fact.

Sensing some weakness in this area she covers herself by saying that as a graduate student she was taught that there should be no “forbidden questions.” But she learned differently when doing research on sexual abuse and there had been forbidden questions. She did not like this. (19) Alas, when it came to abductions, the lesson did not take. She does have a forbidden question: “What criteria will I use to discern whether people might be abductees before I include them in my study?” She never asks this question and it is one of several critical questions at the heart of the abduction controversy. But Clancy does not care if her self-proclaimed population of “abductees” might have a variety of causative factors as long as one of them is not being abducted by aliens.

Armed with her “abductees” Clancy makes sweeping claims about the evidence she develops to show that people are not being abducted. She used the Deese/Roediger-McDermott (DRM) test to demonstrate that abductees fashion false memories. In this test a person is given a list of closely related words and then asked to remember them. One of the related words was not on the list. Clancy says that people who claim to be abductees will say that they remember the unlisted word in greater frequency than those who do not claim to be abductees. Thus, they made up false memories. There might be quite a bit of data behind this test, but the actual meaning and reason for “hearing” the false word is unclear. Does this mean that by remembering a “false” word they also remember a lifetime of complex events in which they and others were participating? Does this mean that they were just mistaken about the word and therefore it does not really have any significance? Does it mean that abduction experiences cause one to think that they heard a word that was not there because of the commonly reported telepathic communication during abduction events? Does it mean that people think they are abductees but they are not? Of course, Clancy does not have a way to determine this. There are other problems. Why does falsely remembering words increase with age? Does age correlate with the abductees who did or did not falsely remember the words? Why was not another abduction debunker able to replicate her data?[2]

Some of the people in her study did seem to have the experiences that would argue for strange things happening to them, but with no set criteria for determining whether they had experiences that abductees have had before they even thought were abductees, there is no way of filtering out who scored what on which test. Oddly, the book has no test results or numbers. The readers are required to believe her story that the abduction claimants responded the way they did.

In Clancy’s world, the media has the power to supply the key information for false memories, if not the false words. This is a hardened fact; if it appeared in the media, it filtered into the abductees’ consciousness and became actual memories of events happening to them. It is an idea with direct causative factors that allow for no doubt. A movie comes out and people think that they are living within it. Motion pictures and television shows about aliens are so powerful that they enable people to think that aliens have abducted them. It is all so simple and obvious.

Memories, of course, are also a prime culprit. They are pliable and so extraordinarily unreliable. In Clancy’s world they are of little use. She gives a personal account of misremembering a pleasant series of events that happened to her years before. Memories appear to be so untrustworthy that it would be pointless for me to remember what happened to me yesterday (and I have to admit, the older I get the more difficult that becomes). Even without popular culture absorption, memories degrade, they change, they can be totally wrong. They can have no relation to reality whatsoever: They can even be of alien abductions. Memory, the basic element that gives us our identity, our sense of an independent self, and is the storehouse of information needed to survive, is all but worthless. I have investigated abductions that happened only a few hours before. But what difference does it make? Memory will never be accurate.

This, of course, would be news to the psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, attorneys, professors, nurses, teachers, and other PhDs and MDs who are quite aware of sleep paralysis, the problems with hypnosis, the problems of media contamination, the problems of memory, and so forth. They are all abductees whose cases I have investigated. In Clancy’s simple world, her idea of causative factors for very difficult problems allows for no doubt. Investigation is not an option. She takes her self-described abductees at their word, never wondering whether some of them are lying about their memories to skew the results of her study. One would assume that this is not true, but who knows?

The same is true of Clancy’s assertions about the interplay of hypnosis, media, false memories, and of abductions. They are just that – assertions. The science behind her claims is either thin or nonexistent. She overreaches her evidence so much that she launches herself into inner outer space.

She tries to impress the reader that she is compassionate towards her subjects. She takes great care to say throughout the book that abductees are not crazy (I have known a few who were, in fact, both crazy and abductees). She feels somewhat sorry for the poor people who are led to believe that they are abducted. She tries to explain to them calmly and rationally that they were not really abducted but they will not hear of it. They think it happened to them and they will not be talked out of it. It is just the way people are, they cannot help it and she cannot help them. Her book contains an extremely unpleasant condescension throughout.

Even though she tries to display compassion for her population she points out that the abductees scored higher than average on a test for schizotypy which, she says, indicates that they are more imaginative and might believe in paranormal phenomena like telepathy and clairvoyance. They are perfectly normal but they are often “loners” (a loaded word in this serial killer society). Rather than leaving it at that, she puts in a zinger: “if symptoms of schizophrenia lie on a continuum, alien abductees are perhaps closer to being schizophrenic....” (129) She mitigates this by saying they are thus inclined to “magical thinking,” and “perceptual aberration” but the subtext is there: These people are further along the road to being nut cases. Once again, we do not know which “abductees” scored higher and which scored lower on the lunacy continuum.

Clancy’s actual knowledge of abduction patterns is severely limited. She is aware of the reproductive activities of the abduction phenomenon -- sperm and egg taking, and baby holding. Beyond that her knowledge appears to drop off considerably. In addition, she has no idea of the great mass of material that has never been publicized or appeared in the media. If she actually were, as she calls herself, “an alien-abduction researcher,” she would know that the phenomenon is not one in which all abduction stories are completely diverse with no details except the grossest matching.

Every abductee with whom Clancy talked had a different story. If she knew about the abduction phenomenon she would have a variety of reasons to pick from that would explain this phenomenon, one of which would be hers; they are not being abducted. The other reasons for this more than adequately deal with the difficult problems of consciously remembered events. Rather than go into why these disparate stories exist among consciously remembered events, it is important to understand that researchers have found most conscious memories of abductions to be notoriously inaccurate and scattered. I would refer the reader to my discussion of these problems in The Threat. Although a minority of abductees are fairly accurate in the conscious memories, researchers and hypnotists who automatically take abductee remembrances at face value tend to make fatal errors.

Everything comes together in Clancy’s revealing discussion of Betty and Barney Hill, probably the best known abduction case in history. How could two people say the same thing about being abducted, especially when all abductions are different? Easy. You see, she explains, the material was retrieved through hypnosis which was bad enough, but a few days before the hypnosis, an episode of the science fiction TV show The Outer Limits called “The Ballero Shield” had aired. In it, she points out, “the aliens looked remarkably similar to those of today: they had big, black, wraparound eyes, no noses or mouths, and delicate waif-like bodies.” (89) This show, she suggests, was the genesis of the gray beings so commonly described today. I would urge anyone who has access to “The Ballero Shield” video to view it (I bought mine at my local video store). In it there is only one alien. He is a normal-sized guy in a jump-suit type of clothing. He does have a large head, but his actual eyes are his normal eyes. He has a flattened nose and a regular mouth. His body is normal and not waif-like. Every fact that she describes about the show is demonstrably wrong. But Clancy would certainly know this because she says that she has seen nearly everything on television ever made about aliens. She is making a crucial point in an academic book about an extremely important case. Surely, she has seen this Outer Limits episode. It would be academically reckless, or worse, to not have seen it. If she did see it, one wonders if she were deliberately distorting the evidence. If she did not see it, it suggests even more serious problems with her research.

Curiously, Clancy appears to be unaware that in 1997 UFO researchers and debunkers had debated the role of “The Ballero Shield” episode in the Hill case. Thus, when Barney described wrap-around eyes that he had never seen before she proclaims: “The problem is that contrary to what Barney said, he had seen eyes like that. ‘The Ballero Shield,’ which had aired twelve days before his regression session, featured the same eyes.” [her emphasis] (97) Once again, I urge readers to look at Barney’s drawings and then view “The Ballero Shield” and judge for themselves.[3] More than that, when this came into debate in 1997, Betty Hill (Barney died in 1969) was asked about whether she had seen The Outer Limits. She had never even heard of the show. Not only that, Barney worked nights. When he was home they were usually busy with community activities.[4] But, for Clancy, I suppose, this is just anecdotal nonsense. And besides, what difference does it make if your facts are wrong? In the end The Explanation will be right.

In her book Clancy builds basically an unfalsifiable system. If it is not sleep paralysis, it is hypnosis. If it is not those two, then it is fantasy prone personality. If it is not that, it is popular culture absorption. If it is not that, well abductees are after all, on that continuum to schizophrenia. If not that, then it is the psychological need to believe in gods from above, if it is not that then it is a form of hysteria, if it is not that, it is a combination of two or three or more reasons. Her pool of explanation-combinations is virtually inexhaustible. Links to the explanations are either not made, or are so tenuous that they do not rise even to the level of bad social science. Ultimately, she buys into most of the common debunking explanations except that abductees are not “crazy,” or at least not yet. And even this “liberal” view of abductee claimants suggests her lack of knowledge. She is apparently unaware that that most debunkers gave up on this explanation long ago because the evidence never supported it. She is also unaware of Budd Hopkins’ 1983 battery of psychological tests including the MMPI, TAT, Wechler, and others, given to nine abductees which showed that they do not display evidence of mental illness.

If Clancy had carefully filtered her population and kept two categories of those who did and those who did not fit the patterns of abduction activity (heaven forbid, she might have had to call in an actual abduction researcher for help), she might have had an argument that would tell us something important about the two populations. But she did not and she does not.

How could a book as flawed as this one be published? The fault lies squarely with Harvard University Press. HUP has published two books about the UFO phenomenon: Donald Menzel’s 1953 diatribe, Flying Saucers, and Clancy’s book. In both cases the manuscripts were either refereed by people incompetent in the subject matter or it was not refereed at all. The problem was just as egregious in Menzel’s case. As the head of the Harvard Observatory and a nationally known astronomer, Menzel’s word carried weight. Thus, when he claimed that some UFO sightings were caused by mirages from mountaintops, HUP’s referees were not about to take issue, even though his own data proved him wrong. He went forward with the wrong numbers and nobody bothered to check. Because in the end, it did not matter that his facts were wrong, his explanation that UFOs were not extraterrestrial would be right.[5]

Clancy could have avoided her problems by learning something about abductions. But, like her, most academics are not aware that there has been significant research into UFOs and abductions. They have no idea that there are academics who actively engage with the evidence free from the inadequacies that so taint this book. Ironically, if Clancy had read my second book on abductions, The Threat, she would have seen my fairly extensive critique of John Mack’s methodology and conclusions and she could have used it to good effect to make her arguments. She might have also read my critique of incompetent hypnotists, their lack of controls in hypnosis and the damage that hypnotists and therapists had done to abductees and to abduction research. Clancy was not far from the truth when she criticized hypnotists. But, in Clancy’s black and white world, all abduction hypnotists are unaware of the problems of hypnosis. All abduction hypnotists do not know enough to control for false memories, suggestibility, leading, and so forth. In Clancy’s world few potential abductees are aware of the problems of hypnosis or popular culture osmosis or sleep paralysis. Indeed, for Clancy no abduction hypnotist is aware of these things either. It is the incompetent Svengalis leading the ignorant, already suggestible and vulnerable Trilbys deeper into media fantasies, false memories and alien abductions. Or if it is not that, it is something else equally as explainable.

There are many other problems with Clancy’s book, some factual: In 1969, the National Academy of Sciences did not “sponsor a study of all available UFO evidence.”(137) John Fuller was not an abduction researcher, etc. (111) More importantly; her book reveals much deeper problems than just factual errors. It displays the deep inadequacies of the academic confrontation with the abduction phenomenon. It is a depressing story of thoughtless assumptions, flawed methodology, and wrong explanations, all based on ignorance and dubious facts. The problems are not unique to Clancy; they are ubiquitous. But, if one has the will to believe that he or she has the solution to the mystery, nothing else matters.

David M. Jacobs

Department of History
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA

This review at Jacobs’ site with links and footnotes

International Center for Abduction Research (Jacobs’ site)

Jacobs’ Wikipedia page

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Damsels And Werewolves

A few days ago over in the pop culture world some stupid people engaged in some stupid behavior.

Here in the internet world at an intermittently cool site (that’s often partly cloudy) a beautiful, smart woman ridiculed the stupid people and mocked their stupid behavior.

The beautiful, smart woman and I exchanged email about the stupid people and her ridicule of them.

I defended the stupid people by pointing out yes, they were stupid and yes, their behavior was stupid but both the stupid people and their behavior were shaped by a philosophy that was comprehensive and consistent. I eventually got around to saying that stupid people and stupid behavior were “better”—in some ill-defined cosmic sense of the word “better”—than smart people and smart behavior if the stupid people and their stupid behavior were shaped by a comprehensive and consistent philosophy while the smart people and their smart behavior were shaped by an arbitrary and unfocused philosophy.

Because philosophy matters.

The beautiful, smart woman scored a big WIN over me by replying:




Yeah. Well. Luckily this weekend will be a full Moon. I will be able to take out my frustrations by turning into a werewolf and running through the village and terrifying everybody.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Putting On The Stars

The stars are not going to reach down
and pull her to her feet, hold her up.

The stars are not going to reach down,
gently cup her chin and lift her face.

The stars are not going to reach down
and hug her, whisper to her, kiss her.

The stars make shapes in the sky for her.
If she goes out at night, lifts a hand,
spreads her fingers, stars are diamond rings
sparkling on all her fingers for her.

It’s a choice. This going out at night.
It’s a choice. This lifting up a hand.
It’s a choice. This putting on the stars.

The stars are not going to reach down.
But anyone can choose to reach up.

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

Don’t You Fucking Die Mischa Barton

Crown And Tiara

The Clock That Laughs And Loves

Sparrow And Moon

Whispering On The Moon

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mischa Barton As The Burgess Shale

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

The Metaphysics Of Elle

Ancient Cities Of The Moon

Mischa Barton, Mischa Barton

The Burgess Shale Formation

Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale
and the Nature of History


The color here is all Prismacolor markers.
I spent so much time watching tennis
this weekend I never experimented
with watercolor and dry brush. Maybe
next time.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Beth Plays Pinball

If you see Beth in pants they’ll be tight pants
and she will look as good in them as out.

I see Beth in blue jeans with a thin book
somehow wedged part-way in a back pocket.

I say, “‘When Patrick Domostroy turned the
ignition key of his car, no sound came
from the engine and no lights showed on the
That’s the part I wrote for that book.”

Beth laughs. “And it’s been all down hill since then.
If he really paid people to write this
he should have found better people to pay.”

“Once upon a time,” I say, “people thought
it was sexy, even pornographic.”

“That’s the only thing,” Beth says, “keeping me
reading it—laughing at all the bad sex.”

“That book stuck in your back pocket,” I say,
“is sexier than the sex in the book.”

“My pocket’s too small. When I walk,” Beth says,
“the book inches up, wiggles free, falls out.”

“It must get frustrating, having to stop
and reach down, pick it up, put it back in—”
I stop and point. Beth is blushing bright red.
“I think I win,” I say. “And that was fast.
I could have kept going a lot longer.”

“Want to get tea?” Beth asks. “Talking to you
is more fun than the sex scenes in this book.”

“Do you feel safe around me and caffeine?”

“If you get too frisky,” Beth says, “I can
beat you off with the book.” And Beth giggles.

“Oh-oh. Maybe you win. Come on. I want
to see what you’re like when you have caffeine.”

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Paint Versus Ink


(More on that later.)

Yesterday when I tried to return a new Joel Schumacher film about a Nazi vampire, a tortured-yet-resilient teenage girl (“I’ve been seventeen longer than you’ve been alive”) and a zombie dog [zombie dog! zombie dog!] to the Redbox machine outside Walgreens the machine wouldn’t let me return the movie because it was full. So I walked over to the Jewel-Osco store and returned the movie at the Redbox machine there.

While I was at Jewels I bought some groceries and checked out the school supplies aisle. They were selling a pack of Crayola nylon brushes for about $2 so I bought a set. They’re not what you’d call great brushes, but they’re well-made nylon brushes. For two bucks you get three rounds and two flats.

Here’s why I bought them.

For the last few weeks I’ve been very, very happy doing cartoons with Prismacolor markers. But the issue I have with Prismacolor markers is that small sets of Prismacolor markers come with colors that are all reasonably intense. But if you want to create constructed colors you generally need to layer muted colors. So if you want to make constructed colors with Prismacolor markers either you need to buy individual markers in muted shades or you need to buy one of the very cool—but very expensive—large sets of markers.

Even if you go to Cheap Joe’s the large set of Prismacolor markers costs $319.

On the other hand if you have a dozen or so pans or tubes of watercolor paints or acrylic paints you can mix any color you can imagine. And if you apply paint with dry brush techniques you can mimic the look and effects of markers.

I hate messing with a good thing—I’m very happy using Prismacolor markers for rendering color—but I like creating constructed colors. And although I certainly like spending money and buying things, I can’t really bring myself to spend three hundred dollars for the big set of Prismacolors.

So I bought the set of nylon brushes thinking that maybe this weekend I’ll try substituting carefully mixed and carefully applied watercolors for markers.

Maybe. I’m being indecisive about the whole thing and I know Dagny would never love me, but I’m giving it some thought.

The whole issue of what is paint and what is ink can take up entire chapters of something like philosophical speculations in art books. You hear talk of “dyes” versus “pigments” and “bonding” versus “surfacing” but by the time anybody bothers looking up all the definitions and chemical properties the bottom line turns out to be that paints and inks are THE SAME FUCKING THINGS.

They’re both pigments in a binder.

The pigments may—or may not!—be different sizes and the binder may be chemically simple or complex. But paints and inks are both just pigments in binders and the difference is really a matter of convention, referring more to how the products are used than what they are made of.

Calligraphers—remember those people?—have long used both paints and inks for their work. And commercial illustrators have always paid more attention to how things look rather than what label a manufacturer puts on the product.

In practical terms it’s easier to get bold, intense colors with inks and markers while it’s easier to get subtle, muted shades with paints.

But modern paints are very intense so paints can give you the best of both worlds. And save you money and shopping around.

But markers have a persona all their own quite different from brushes and I’ve been very happy using Prismacolor markers these last few weeks.

So I’m being all indecisive in my thinking about switching.


I’ve got the brushes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Metaphysics Of Elle

The Charles Darwin (a fine Paul Bettany) of Jon Amiel’s timely, intense Creation is no coolheaded scientist but a man agonized by his young daughter’s death and the anger of his religious wife (Jennifer Connelly, Bettany’s real-life partner) at his irrefutable theory of evolution. When a colleague crows, “You have killed God, sir!” it sounds just as incendiary now as 150 years ago.

Weird Science

The Elle review of Creation

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

Los Angeles Is My Daisy

Becoming Forever

Lost (For Brittany Murphy)

Rate Of God


Temping At Impossible Kisses: Chanteuse

Institute for Creation Research

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Children Of Legend

This is a painting called “Ulysses and the Sirens” by Herbert James Draper. Draper was English and painted this around 1909. When this was first exhibited it caused a bit of fuss, because Draper personified the voices of the Sirens as beautiful women actually coming aboard the boat of Ulysses. Traditionally the Sirens of Homer were not depicted in such a realistic way becoming so directly involved with humans. The Sirens were typically regarded as distant creatures tempting humans away from our world. There is more about this painting at Margaret’s blog, The Earthly Paradise.

Children Of Legend
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I hear engineers and other people
put together giant welding machines
to speed the production of steel ship hulls
during World War Two.

The welding machines created huge sparks
using immense capacitors to store
electric energy.

The heat from the sparks melted metal squares
that sealed the hulls of ships to carry freight
across the Atlantic.

The process of storing and discharging
vast amounts of electric energy
ripped apart our space-time and stabbed a hole
through the fabric of our reality.

Attempting to automate production
of ship hulls with high-tech industry tools
I hear is the simple reality
at the heart, at the start—at the real start—
of the legends, myths, even fairy tales
people nowadays still talk about as
the Philadelphia Experiment
and the Montauk Project and other things.

I don’t know if anyone ever built
any ship hulls using those welding tools.

I don’t know if those ships shuttled cargo
across the Atlantic.

But I am quite persuaded however
that the reality around us now—
the ripples and folds, the ripped apart seams
and stitched together seams in the fabric
of our space-time—came to life in the sparks,
man-made lightning, of an experiment
in industrial production techniques
conducted sometime during World War Two.

Reality then—ripped and stabbed, folded
and stitched, sparked to life—
became lonely and demanded a bride.

Their children now rip and stab, fold and stitch,
carrying on the craft their parents taught.

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

Philadelphia Experiment

Montauk Project

Plum Island Monsters

A James D. Watson Skinhead Thug Goodbye

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rocket Summer People

Rocket Summer is a phrase from Bradbury,
a metaphor likening the intense heat
from a rocket ship launch to the seasonal
heat of summer.

Even someone who doesn’t know Bradbury
can google the two words and learn what they mean
and their knowledge, then, would be an example
of Rocket Summer.

It would be fast knowledge unlike the real thing
but for a moment it would appear the same
and for a moment the person who googled
Rocket Summer would think they knew something.

But can a person ever google enough
to understand Martians might not be Martians,
firemen might not be firemen and people might
not be people but Rocket Summer people?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What Love Looks Like In Words

In 1997 the incredible musician David Crosby sat down with Wally Breese, a Joni Mitchell archivist. Breese conducted a lengthy interview focusing mostly on Crosby’s discovery of Joni Mitchell, and his subsequent relationship with her.

I don’t know if I’ve ever read an interview where one person’s affection for another speaks so clearly.

I think this is what love looks like in words.

I’m going to excerpt just David Crosby’s voice here and merge many of his responses into a monologue. But the complete interview is available at in the article section here: A Conversation with David Crosby

Here is David Crosby speaking about Joni Mitchell:

I went looking for a sailboat to live on. I wanted to do something else. Find another way to be. I was pretty disillusioned. I walked into a coffee house and was just completely smitten. She was standing there singing all those songs ... "Michael from Mountains," "Both Sides Now," and I was just floored. I couldn't believe that there was anybody that good. And I also fell ... I loved her ... I was extremely fascinated with the quality of the music and the quality of the girl. She was such an unusual, passionate and powerful woman. I was fascinated by her tunings because I had started working in tunings, and I was writing things like "Guinevere." So things like that made me very, very attracted to her. ... We used to play songs to each other all the time. But I think she just outgrew me. ... In a hundred years when they look back and say, "Who was the best?" - it's going to be her. ... She's a better poet than Dylan and without question a far better musician. ... Joni is not a person that you stay in a relationship with. It always goes awry, no matter who you are. It's an inevitable thing. ... We had some wonderful times together early on, when she went sailing with me. ... You have to understand ... I still love her. She's the best, and if you quote anything from me, say that I said she was the best and I've always said that. ... I asked Joni if she would produce or write a song for my album "Thousand Roads" and she said "Oh ... let's write one together." So I sent her a set of lyrics that I thought she would like, and she did, oddly enough, and she pretty much took it from there. [ "Yvette In English" ] I changed the song again when she sang it back to me, in the way that I did it. I guess she changed it some in the way she did it, too. The two versions are quite different. ... I'm very grateful to her for doing this with me. It was kind of her. ... If you mention it, tell her that I'm very grateful to her for doing that.

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

Here are the lyrics to “Yvette In English”
and Joni Mitchell singing the song:

He met her in a French cafe
She slipped in sideways like a cat
Sidelong glances
What a wary little stray!
She sticks in his mind like that
Saying, "Avez-vous un allumette?"
With her lips wrapped around a cigarette
Yvette in English saying,
"Please have this
Little bit of instant bliss."

He's fumbling with her foreign tongue;
Reaching for words and drawing blanks
A loud mouth is stricken deaf and dumb
In a bistro on the left bank
"If I were a painter," Picasso said,
"I'd paint this girl from toe to head!"
Yvette in English saying,
"Please have this
Little bit of instant bliss."

Burgundy nocturne tips and spills
They trot along nicely in the spreading stain
New chills, new thrills
For the old uphill battle
How did he wind up here again?
Walking and talking
Touched and scared
Uninsulated wires left bare
Yvette in English going,
"Please have this
Little bit of instant bliss."

What blew her like a leaf his way?
Up in the air and down to Earth
First she flusters
Then she frays
So quick to question her own worth
Her cigarette burns her fingertips
As it falls like fireworks she curses it
Then sweetly in English she says,
"Please have this,
Little bit of instant bliss."

He sees her turn and walk away
Skittering like a cat on stone--
Her high heels clicking--
What a wary little stray!
She leaves him by the Seine alone
With the black water and the amber lights
And the bony bridge between left and right
Yvette in English saying,
"Please have this
Little bit of instant bliss."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is Iowa Seeking A Diane Monopoly?

Mr. Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”

Supervillain Auric Goldfinger

This will be a relatively short and—presumably—relatively pointless post. But this is something I think about a lot. Not only do I think about this a lot—and by that I mean probably every day I spend a moment or two wondering about this—but I have no idea what this might mean. And for the most part I don’t think it can mean anything. Nonetheless, I think about this a lot.

I’ve known three women in my life named “Diane.” All three have gone to Iowa.

A few decades ago my brother married a woman named Diane. They left Chicago when my brother’s job moved. They followed the job to Iowa.

A couple of decades after that I worked in the corporate world with a beautiful businesswoman named Diane. She left Chicago when her husband got a professorship at an Iowa college.

Just recently the prettiest checkout girl at our local grocery store—Diane!—went off to college in Iowa.

[I miss this last Diane. I wrote about her in: Diane And The Can Of Squid (1 of 5) and Diane And The Can Of Squid (2 of 5) and Diane And The Can Of Squid (3 of 5) and Diane And The Can Of Squid (4 of 5) and Diane And The Can Of Squid (5 of 5)]

What’s up with all these women named Diane going to Iowa?

I don’t know. I don’t know what can be up with something like this.

When I meet people interested in onomatology and/or toponomy I always bring up this. They always smile. The going theory is that things like this are just statistical clusters and statistical clusters always look odd from the inside, but from the outside they’re just random groupings with no particular meaning at all.

I don’t know.

But if you’re a girl named Diane and you don’t want to go to Iowa you better hope we never meet.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Indecision — Death By Dagny

I always second guess myself but I don’t often get indecisive.

I mean I almost always can quickly work out some kind of real (or imagined!) philosophical justification for why one course of action is “better” than another. And then, generally, I get behind my thinking (or pretense!) enthusiastically.

Yesterday’s cartoon was a different story.

Yesterday’s cartoon seems simple enough, a measuring cup, a bit of text. But I worked on that all day Sunday from the time I got up until midnight when I posted it.

And it started out simple enough. It started out, in fact, exactly as the the cartoon appears. A measuring cup, a bit of text.

At some point I added a bit of background and it looked like this.

At other points I added links to half a dozen previous posts. Then I changed those links to a different half a dozen previous posts.

Then I considered scrapping the whole post.

Eventually, however, I fell back on the principle (or pretense!) of “going with my first idea” and posted the cartoon as I first imagined it.

But someday I may come back and talk about this “measuring cup” thing again. Maybe. It refers back to a lot of my earlier posts. Maybe.


Whenever I get indecisive I think about this scene from “Atlas Shrugged.”

Women who know how to run a railroad don’t tolerate guys who are indecisive.

If Dagny were my girlfriend I never would have gotten out of the weekend alive!

Dagny walked straight toward the guard who stood at the door of "Project F." Her steps sounded purposeful, even and open, ringing in the silence of the path among the trees. She raised her head to a ray of moonlight, to let him recognize her face.

"Let me in," she said.

"No admittance," he answered in the voice of a robot. "By order of Dr. Ferris."

"I am here by order of Mr. Thompson."

"Huh? . . . I . . . I don't know anything about that."

"I do."

"I mean, Dr. Ferris hasn't told me . . . ma'am."

"I am telling you."

"But I'm not supposed to take any orders from anyone excepting Dr. Ferris."

"Do you wish to disobey Mr. Thompson?"

"Oh, no, ma'am! But . . . but if Dr. Ferris said to let nobody in, that means nobody—" He added uncertainly and pleadingly, "—doesn't it?"

"Do you know that my name is Dagny Taggart and that you've seen my pictures in the papers with Mr. Thompson and all the top leaders of the country?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Then decide whether you wish to disobey their orders."

"Oh, no, ma'am! I don't!"

"Then let me in."

"But I can't disobey Dr. Ferris, either!"

"Then choose."

"But I can't choose ma'am! Who am I to choose?"

"You'll have to."

"Look," he said hastily, pulling a key from his pocket and turning to the door, "I'll ask the chief. He—"

"No." she said.

Some quality in the tone of her voice made him whirl back to her: she was holding a gun pointed levelly at his heart.

"Listen carefully," she said. "Either you let me in or I shoot you. You may try to shoot me first, if you can. You have that choice—and no other. Now decide."

His mouth fell open and the key dropped from his hand.

"Get out of my way," she said.

He shook his head frantically, pressing his back against the door. "Oh Christ, ma'am!" he gulped in the whine of a desperate plea. "I can't shoot at you, seeing as you come from Mr. Thompson! And I can't let you in against the word of Dr. Ferris! What am I to do? I'm only a little fellow! I'm only obeying orders! It's not up to me!"

"It's your life," she said.

"If you let me ask the chief, he'll tell me, he'll—"

"I won't let you ask anyone."

"But how do I know that you really have an order from Mr. Thompson?"

"You don't. Maybe I haven't. Maybe I'm acting on my own—and you'll be punished for obeying me. Maybe I have—and you'll be thrown in jail for disobeying. Maybe Dr. Ferris and Mr. Thompson agree about this. Maybe they don't—and you have to defy one or the other. These are the things you have to decide. There is no one to ask, no one to call, no one to tell you. You will have to decide them yourself."

"But I can't decide! Why me?"

"Because it's your body that's barring my way."

"But I can't decide! I'm not supposed to decide!"

"I'll count to three," she said. "Then I’ll shoot."

"Wait! Wait! I haven't said yes or no!" he cried, cringing tighter against the door, as if immobility of mind and body were his best protection.

"One—" she counted; she could see his eyes staring at her in terror— "Two—" she could see that the gun held less terror for him than the alternative she offered— "Three."

Calmly and impersonally, she, who would have hesitated to fire at an animal, pulled the trigger and fired straight at the heart of a man who had wanted to exist without the responsibility of consciousness.

Her gun was equipped with a silencer; there was no sound to attract anyone's attention, only the thud of a body falling at her feet.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Crown And Tiara

Throughout all human history
and across all the continents
royalty and aristocrats
have worn the crown and tiara.

Precious metals and rare gemstones.

Clear crystals that sparkle like stars.
Golden crystals like Jupiter
and Saturn. Red crystals like Mars.

Royalty and aristocrats
walked with the stars around their heads
and their heads were among the stars.

The message was that was their place.
Royalty and aristocrats
belonged with and maybe came from
the stars the beautiful colors
that glitter high above this world.

Royalty and aristocrats
don’t exist in the same way now.
No one pretends the stars are home.

Still when we stand outside at night
the real stars are around our heads.
The same stars that have glittered down
throughout all human history
and across all the continents.

Nobody would ever mistake
me for a king. I can’t wear stars.

But when we stand outside at night
the real stars are around our heads.
The same stars that have glittered down
throughout all human history
and across all the continents.

We wear them. Even if we can’t.

I can point to them. Jupiter.
Saturn. Mars. And all the bright stars.

We wear them. Even if we can’t.

I am trying to get better
at standing up under these things.

We wear them. Even if we can’t.

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

The Hidden Princess Of Mount Shasta

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Clock That Laughs And Loves

Jupiter soon will leave the evening sky.

From our perspective the planet will pass
behind the Sun and emerge in our dawn.

Saturn is returning to our evening.

The sky is a silent clock. I’m listening.
I only hear things that I imagine.

It’s a silent clock and it never stops
turning its strange infinity of gears
no matter how carefully I listen,
no matter what I imagine I hear.

Does anybody in your life ever
pay attention to anything you say?

Jupiter silently is leaving us.

Saturn silently will be coming back.

It’s a rhythm that laughs at me listening,
that laughs at everyone imagining
they hear the silent clockwork gears turning.

But the silent clock never stops turning.
If it does laugh it’s an embracing laugh,
a warm laugh, it’s love, saying, “Keep listening!”
It is laughter and love and beautiful.

What teaches a person to stop listening?

What teaches you to pay no attention?

What teaches a lover to look away?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

“Simple Twist of Fate”

They sat together in the park
As the evening sky grew dark,
She looked at him and he felt a spark tingle to his bones.
'Twas then he felt alone and wished that he'd gone straight
And watched out for a simple twist of fate.

They walked along by the old canal
A little confused, I remember well
And stopped into a strange hotel with a neon burnin' bright.
He felt the heat of the night hit him like a freight train
Moving with a simple twist of fate.

A saxophone someplace far off played
As she was walkin' by the arcade.
As the light bust through a beat-up shade where he was wakin' up,
She dropped a coin into the cup of a blind man at the gate
And forgot about a simple twist of fate.

He woke up, the room was bare
He didn't see her anywhere.
He told himself he didn't care, pushed the window open wide,
Felt an emptiness inside to which he just could not relate
Brought on by a simple twist of fate.

He hears the ticking of the clocks
And walks along with a parrot that talks,
Hunts her down by the waterfront docks where the sailers all come in.
Maybe she'll pick him out again, how long must he wait
Once more for a simple twist of fate.

People tell me it's a sin
To know and feel too much within.
I still believe she was my twin, but I lost the ring.
She was born in spring, but I was born too late
Blame it on a simple twist of fate.

Bob Dylan
“Simple Twist of Fate”

These lyrics are not the exact same lyrics Dylan sings
in this performance. Dylan did stuff like that.
Changing lyrics, sometimes even the verses.
Nonetheless, these are the canonical lyrics

* * *

I posted this for a few reasons.

One is that this is real. This isn’t people
parodying folk singers. I can’t imagine
anyone performing like this today,
but not all that long ago this was real.

This is not Taylor Swift pretending
to be a country singer or some
out of work Hollywood actor
or actress pretending to be
a pop star.

This is real and there was a time
when people had real entertainment
all the time. Bob Dylan. Steve Goodman.
Joni Mitchell. So many others. Gone now.


And more than the people are gone. Lost.

The whole context is gone, lost. The whole
notion of people being real is gone, lost.

A silly looking guy like Bob Dylan,
sounding silly, would be a joke
on YouTube today and that’s
the only place he’d be able to appear.

The whole notion that beauty
and art are things beyond
the look and sound of a performance
has no place in today’s world.

I’m afraid beauty and art
have no place in today’s world.


More than lost. Not even
thought about.

Old acquaintances.


Never brought to mind.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What Malcontent Yellow Pencils Are Thinking

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

The Leaky Yellow Pencil

Monday, January 04, 2010

2009 Complete Index

December 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009New Year’s Eve At Impossible Kisses

Wednesday, December 30, 2009Lunar Halo/Eye Shadow Girl Sketch

Tuesday, December 29, 2009Talking Back To Galileo

Monday, December 28, 2009Wisconsin’s Influence On Art And Technology

Friday, December 25, 2009Christmas Witches: A Present Of The Past

Thursday, December 24, 2009Christmas Witches I Mean Wishes

Wednesday, December 23, 2009All The Little Drops

Tuesday, December 22, 2009In Kimberly’s Game Vampires Don’t Count

Monday, December 21, 2009Lost (For Brittany Murphy)

Friday, December 18, 2009Polka Dot Goodbye

Thursday, December 17, 2009One Memory, Two Lessons, Three Bad Movies

Wednesday, December 16, 2009Walking The Circle

Tuesday, December 15, 2009“Watching T.V.”

Monday, December 14, 2009Red Bull, Hershey’s And A Woman Yawning

Friday, December 11, 2009Becoming Forever

Thursday, December 10, 2009White And Blue Spirals Over Norway

Wednesday, December 9, 2009The Foothills Of Olympus

Tuesday, December 8, 2009The Unhappy Jazz Dog

Monday, December 7, 2009“Because I Couldn’t Trust You”

Friday, December 4, 2009Elevator Gothic #3

Thursday, December 3, 2009Elevator Gothic #2

Wednesday, December 2, 2009Elevator Gothic

Tuesday, December 1, 2009Ugly And Beauty

November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009The Renaissance In Public And In Private

Friday, November 27, 2009The Crypto-Politics Of Flowers And Kites

Thursday, November 26, 2009Lana Lang And “The Supervillain’s Nightclub”

Wednesday, November 25, 2009“Good Little Naked Mole Rat”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009A Quick Badfinger Note

Monday, November 23, 2009The Angle Of Repose Of Corpses

Friday, November 20, 2009Cat Stevens In The Real World

Thursday, November 19, 2009“Where Do The Children Play?”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009The Alaska Cauldron

Tuesday, November 17, 2009Post-Christian Party Talk

Monday, November 16, 2009Jenny Paid Her Respects At Sara’s Grave

Friday, November 13, 2009The Empty Lot Entanglement

Thursday, November 12, 2009“Out Of This Door Might Come Something”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009“She’s A Pussy Cat”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009Circular Stacks

Monday, November 9, 2009Zombie Sara’s Zombie Urges Destroyed Her World

Friday, November 6, 2009Where Is The Delectable Creature?

Thursday, November 5, 2009The Destination Of The Moth

Wednesday, November 4, 2009Maybe Between The Earth And The Moon

Tuesday, November 3 2009“Between Us And You A Great Chasm Has Been Fixed”

Monday, November 2, 2009Zombie Sara Made Jenny Question Their Past

October 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009Zombie Chess

Thursday, October 29, 2009Quasi Una Zombie Fantasia

Wednesday, October 28, 2009Ancient Cities Of The Moon

Tuesday, October 27, 2009Boo!

Monday, October 26, 2009Zombie Sara Terrorized Jenny From The Start

Friday, October 23, 2009To Push Away The Universe Itself

Friday, October 23, 2009Tough Stuff In Progress

Thursday, October 22, 2009This Scary, Pumpkin Time Of Year

Wednesday, October 21, 2009Even Her Crayons Were Lies

Tuesday, October 20, 2009Planetary Light And The Combustion Of Stars

Monday, October 19, 2009Sara’s Zombie Quest Disgusted Jenny

Friday, October 16, 2009The Evening Sky Is Cloudy

Friday, October 16, 2009The Mind’s Ocean Redux

Thursday, October 15, 2009Squirrels And The Lost Mountains Of Tibet

Wednesday, October 14, 2009The End Of A Paddy Chayefsky Romance

Tuesday, October 13, 2009Mixed Signals

Monday, October 12, 2009The Zombie Issue Destroyed Their Friendship

Friday, October9, 2009Puddle Monsters: Sonya And The Shoe #2

Thursday, October 8, 2009All The Sunlight Is For Laughing

Wednesday, October 7, 2009Saturn/Books/Mean Things/Rock And Roll

Tuesday, October 6, 2009Puddle Monsters: The Clouds Of Neptune

Monday, October 5, 2009Puddle Monsters: Sonya And The Shoe

Friday, October 2, 2009Things Not Jazz: Ice Cream Sadness

Thursday, October 1, 20092009 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

June 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009Vogue Zombies

Monday, June 29, 2009Jenny, I Got Your Number

Friday, June 26, 2009The New Horizons Spacecraft As Julia Adams

Thursday, June 25, 2009Quasi Una Supervillain Fantasia

Wednesday, June 24, 2009Crazy Girl Update

Tuesday, June 23, 2009She Comes In Colors Everywhere

Monday, June 22, 2009Fog In The Hills Above The Magic Kingdom

Friday, June 19, 2009The Once And Future Mandy Moore

Thursday, June 18, 2009Saying Mean Things

Wednesday, June 17, 2009Impossible Kisses (Wisconsin)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009The Girl In The Canadian Negligee

Monday, June 15, 2009British Blues

Friday, June 12, 2009Quasi Una Fantasia Again

Thursday, June 11, 2009Ghosts Are Us

Wednesday, June 10, 2009I’m Sorry The World Did This To You

Tuesday, June 9, 2009The Dead Movie Store Epilogue

Monday, June 8, 2009LeAnn Is Misty Too Much In Love

Friday, June 5, 2009I Understand, But Then There’s Tal Wilkenfeld

Thursday, June 4, 2009The Sexy Herpetologist Returns! (Sans Sexy)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009Hidden Meaning In New Testament Apocrypha

Tuesday, June 2, 2009Metaphysics And Apple’s iTunes Store

Monday, June 1, 2009That Space Age Archaic Glow

May 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009Shadows On The Tissues In The Sun

Thursday, May 28, 2009Grinning, Shivering, At The Intertwingling

Wednesday, May 27, 2009Quasi Una Fantasia

Tuesday, May 26, 2009Hypnotized By Advertising

Monday, May 25, 2009Sabine And The Queen

Friday, May 22, 2009UFO Movie

Thursday, May 21, 2009Me, Happy

Wednesday, May 20, 2009Me By The Numbers

Tuesday, May 19, 2009Umbrella Button: The Movie

Monday, May 18, 2009Video Cuddles Gently Weeping

Friday, May 15, 2009Zombie Flowers

Thursday, May 14, 2009Forgot To Buy Soap (Distracted By Fantasy)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009Breaking Things

Tuesday, May 12, 2009Fixing Things

Monday, May 11, 2009The Second Death Of Dean Martin

Friday, May 8, 2009Someday: The Last Expedition

Thursday, May 7, 2009Pris: The End Of A Philip K. Dick Romance

Wednesday, May 6, 2009Zombies Are Not The New Vampires

Tuesday, May 5, 2009Waves Over Stone

Monday, May 4, 2009In Vogue

Friday, May 1, 2009Today’s Post Is Not Called “Coupling”

April 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009The Sun Also Rises And Gets Eaten By Zombies

Wednesday, April 29, 2009Decision Making And The Bible

Tuesday, April 28, 2009Pyramids In Marigold Space

Monday, April 27, 2009Paleontology And Desire

Friday, April 24, 2009Beautiful Music

Thursday, April 23, 2009Watching Women Run

Wednesday, April 22, 2009Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill”

Tuesday, April 21, 2009Tell The Meek: No, Not Yet

Monday, April 20, 2009The Simple Joys Of Maidenhood (Wisconsin)

Friday, April 17, 2009Yawn. Oh. Special Effects. Yawn.

Thursday, April 16, 2009Love And Kisses On iCarly

Wednesday, April 15, 2009Venus In The Morning

Tuesday, April 14, 2009RIP Marilyn Chambers (4/22/52-4/12/09)

Monday, April 13, 2009Audacity, Audacity, Splat

Friday, April 10, 2009Special Appearance By Muskie Light Switch

Thursday, April 9, 2009Weasels Ripped My flesh (Bra Attacks!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009Atlas Shrugged, Taylor Swift, Shangri-La

Tuesday, April 7, 2009Walt Disney And Chuck Jones: Talking To People

Monday, April 6, 2009The Strange Tall Man In A Metal Coat

Friday, April 3, 2009I’m Picturing Taylor Swift Naked

Thursday, April 2, 2009The End Of A Barry Malzberg Romance

Wednesday, April 1, 20092009 1st Quarter Index

March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 -- “Betty Jean Thiebaud & Book”

Monday, March 30, 2009 -- Working In The Coal Mine Going Down Down

Friday, March 27, 2009 -- The Spaceship That Joked

Thursday, March 26, 2009 -- A Marilu Henner Post—Honestly!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 -- Neutral Zone Infraction?!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 -- On Rosemary Being Momentarily Cast Back In Time

Monday, March 23, 2009 -- Ice Worlds Beyond Neptune Study Our Hearts

Friday, March 20, 2009 -- My Autographed Photograph Of Virginia Wade—2

Thursday, March 19, 2009 -- My Autographed Photograph Of Virginia Wade—1

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 -- nPr = n! / (n-r)!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 -- A Strange Vacation

Monday, March 16, 2009 -- Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Evade The Undead.

Friday, March 13, 2009 -- My First Google Rainbow

Thursday, March 12, 2009 -- The Good Old Days—Umm, Yeah...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 -- Venus And Kate Moss

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 -- Imagine Space Cheerleaders

Monday, March 9, 2009 -- Through Ophelia’s Doorway

Friday, March 6, 2009 -- Robot Observatories

Thursday, March 5, 2009 -- A Little More Venus Talk

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 -- Venus In The Evening, Venus In The Morning

Tuesday, March 3, 2009 -- Twenty-Four Hundred Man-Years For What?

Monday, March 2, 2009 -- “Just Count The Fucking Tiles!”

February 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009 -- Penelope’s Business (Or, Loose Threads)

Thursday, February 26, 2009 -- The Star Above The Bug

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 -- Thrift Shops: Sex And Conspiracies

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 -- Comet Lulin Update

Monday, February 23, 2009 -- Tammy And The Shampoo

Friday, February 20, 2009 -- T. J. Pughe: Chip-Making Fool

Thursday, February 19, 2009 -- The Fifteen Syllable Problem

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 -- Happy Times And Kindle Sadness

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 -- I haven’t Seen Comet Lulin Yet

Monday, February 16, 2009 -- Bud Selig And The Goats

Friday, February 13, 2009 -- Ballad Of Little Red Riding Hood In Blue

Thursday, February 12, 2009 -- Ice Cream And The Mayor

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 -- Death Itself And The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 -- The Eternal Thompson Gunner

Monday, February 9, 2009 -- Prelude To Little Red Riding Hood In Blue

Friday, February 6, 2009 -- Apple And The Status Cow

Thursday, February 5, 2009 -- Escape From Earth And The Status Cow

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 -- Orbis Non Sufficit And The Status Cow

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 -- Breaking The Status Cow

Monday, February 2, 2009 -- Big Lizard Bad France Lisa Wants In Chase’s Pants

January 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009 -- I Atom Nun (Mountain Letters Times Ten)

Thursday, January 29, 2009 -- Red Granite (Updated)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 -- “Hardly Anyone Visits; No One Stays”

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 -- The Hidden Princess Of Mount Shasta

Monday, January 26, 2009 -- Elena Called A Let

Friday, January 23, 2009 -- Chimeras: Slackers And Droodles To The Rescue

Thursday, January 22, 2009 -- Looking To Fall Into The Bear’s Spirals

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 -- Bride Of Muskie Light Switch

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 -- A Spaceship That Sparks

Monday, January 19, 2009 -- Anna Kournikova Epistemology

Friday, January 16, 2009 -- Bernadette’s Mirror: Landslide

Thursday, January 15, 2009 -- Bernadette’s Mirror: Strata

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 -- Bernadette’s Mirror: Eroding

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 -- Bernadette’s Mirror: Fossilized

Monday, January 12, 2009 -- Bernadette’s Mirror

Friday, January 9, 2009 -- Rocks And Water And Weather And Stars

Thursday, January 8, 2009 -- The Fossil And The Paleontologist

Wednesday, January 7, 2009 -- Fossils Never Run Away, But

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 -- Diane Wakoski And Batman

Monday, January 5, 2009 -- The Coolest Superpower

Friday, January 2, 2009 -- 2008 Complete Index

Thursday, January 1, 2009 -- Night Songs And Whispers #2: Whispers