Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When The Planet Convulses And Glowing Lava Flows

If a volcano erupted here in Chicago
and I was incinerated in a lava flow
I’m afraid my final thoughts would be about lampshades.

That can’t be a good entrance into the after-life,
thinking about lampshades when the planet’s convulsing.

But if we think of a light bulb as a man-made Sun
then we can think of a lampshade as a man-made cloud
that shields us from the direct glare of our ersatz “Sun”
and helps us see by spreading and diffusing the light.

As lava rose up around me engulfing my legs
and I realized no one was going to save me
I’d probably be thinking I should have created
a series of photographs of picturesque lampshades
or a series of watercolor lampshade paintings
where subtle gradations of pigment capture the glow
of the bright electric light behind the stretched fabric.

After all, lampshades aren’t only a metaphor
about man-made sunlight, they’re a metaphor for Man.

A long time ago at a party I embarrassed
my friends Linda and Heidi. I put on a lampshade
and danced like a character in a screwball movie.
Both Linda and Heidi grabbed me, told me to stop it.
But the next day they both told me my lampshade dancing
was the only bit of fun they had at the party.

I guess there are worse things someone could have on their mind
when the planet convulses and glowing lava flows.

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Thinking Of Mountains

Where The Tree Goes Into The Ground

All The Sunlight Is For Laughing

Monday, August 30, 2010

Questions From The Gulf: Is That A Whale?

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The Endless Death Of Maple White

The Point Of A Pin

Friday, August 27, 2010

There’s Not Even A Blue Sky Any More

I wish I had a friend who was a bird
who could fly to Neptune and come back here
and tell me what color Neptune looks like
when you can look at it close in real life.

A Bird Who Could Fly To Neptune

There are no wild flowers in this empty lot.

Utility poles have something like blooms
at their tops but those are just transformers
adjusting the current from wire to wire.

If I created a watercolor
of this empty lot based on my photo
I’d want to recreate my exposure.
I’d want to recreate the washed-out sky
to make the point there are no flowers below
and there is no blue in the sky above.

But once I’ve created a photograph,
once I’ve made those exposure decisions,
I never can work up the energy
to say—so to speak—the same thing in paint.

And that kind of bugs me because I think
I’d rather say something like this in paint.

Empty lots aren’t what they used to be.

They used to be full of wild flowers and bugs.

Now they’re just scraggly grass, broken concrete
and utility poles holding up wires.

There’s not even a blue sky any more.

Empty lots aren’t what they used to be.

It’s like empty lots are going extinct.

Or rather one species of empty lot—
the kind with flowers and bugs and animals—
is going extinct and being replaced
by an empty lot species adapted
to the conditions of the modern world.

Now they’re just scraggly grass, broken concrete
and utility poles holding up wires.

Now that I type this, it’s kind of fitting
I guess to say this with a photograph
rather than a watercolor painting.

Images aren’t what they used to be.

Up close in real life there was a blue sky.

No matter how close you get in real life
you won’t see flowers or bugs or animals.

I’m not sure this scene up close in real life
is worth capturing in watercolor.

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Industrial Landscape, Industrial Decay, Jazz

Modern Romance In The Noir

Thinking About Watercolors, Drawings And Photos

Empty Lots

The Empty Lot Entanglement

Impossible Kisses: The Empty Lot Behind My House

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Bird Who Could Fly To Neptune

I’m your only friend

I’m not your only friend
But I’m a little glowing friend
But really I’m not actually your friend

But I am

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you

Make a little birdhouse in your soul

“Birdhouse In Your Soul,” They Might Be Giants

I wish I had a friend who was a bird
who could fly to Neptune and come back here
and tell me what color Neptune looks like
when you can look at it close in real life.

I’ve looked at Neptune through small telescopes
and to my eyes Neptune had a green tint
but many people see Neptune as blue.
When scientists released Neptune pictures
from the fly-bys of the Voyager probes
they colorized Neptune as vivid blue
but that was a careful guess. The space probe
didn’t carry a full-spectrum camera.

I wish I had a friend who was a bird
who could fly to Neptune. I would worry
about her out there. I would worry but
it would be the kind of worry that makes
you smile imagining all the clever
and brave ways she would out-wit and elude
and frustrate trouble whenever trouble
set its sights on somehow causing her grief.

I have two small refractor telescopes
and I’ve used them to look at Mercury
and Venus and Mars, the inner planets,
and the outer gas giants, Jupiter
and Saturn and Uranus and Neptune.

I wish I had a friend who was a bird
who could fly to all those places and, too,
fly to Pluto and come back and tell me
about her adventures flying out there
and tell me what all the planets look like
when you can look at them close in real life.

After my friend told me her adventures
I would play guitar for her, and show her
what I could improvise on my keyboard
and she would indulge me and she would smile
and then she would sing real bird song versions
of what I played on guitar and keyboard.
Then she would improvise a real bird song
while I played chords on guitar or keyboard
and while we did that, while we made music,
even though neither of us could see them,
all the planets, somehow, would be glowing
just a bit brighter, somehow, than they glowed
when we weren’t playing songs together.

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Starhopping Through Capricornus To Neptune

Planetary Colors And The Grail Quest

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In The Mind Of Everyone Seeing Paris

In August 1944, when the Allies were nearing Paris, Hitler ordered General Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, to demolish the tower along with the rest of the city. Von Choltitz disobeyed the order.

from Eiffel Tower at Wikipedia

Even the Nazi military machine
rebelled and refused a command from Hitler,
didn’t implement a scorched earth policy
retreating from France where Himmler fantasized
about creating a state-within-a-state,
a homeland within the greater Fatherland
for his SS troops, for the Nazi ‘elite.’

Even the Nazi military machine
rebelled and refused a command from Hitler,
didn’t implement a scorched earth policy
retreating from France and the Eiffel Tower
still rises above the Paris cityscape
in tourist photographs, in artist paintings,
in the mind of everyone seeing Paris.

Even the Nazi military machine
rebelled and refused a command from Hitler,
didn’t implement a scorched earth policy
retreating from France but wreckage surrounds us
here in our state-within-a-state, seeing ruins,
walking through these ruins, upright like monuments
no one photographs, no one paints, of scorched earth.

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Scorched Earth at Wikipedia


The Opposite Of Washing Machine

The Built World Before The Wrecking Crew

“Sexy As The Dead Bridges”

Is This A Junkyard Church

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

No Doubts About The Party

Hot spots, impacts, magnetic-field reversals, and sudden isolated events have troubled what was becoming the placid surface of geodynamics. So many unstable, intermittent phenomena come together in this new way of looking at things, which elsewhere bears the name “deterministic chaos.” “System Earth” is revealing itself to us in its profound unity. The Earth’s rotation, the turbulence in its liquid core, disruptions in its mantle, volcanism and the climate, and finally the life of species, all these dynamic manifestations may be subtly linked. Over what time scale do these links have the most decisive effects? To what variations is the climate most sensitive? The tens to hundreds of millennia of the orbital Milankovic cycles? The centuries or decades of volcanic eruptions and human activity? The seconds of an impact? In the long history of evolution that has led to the world as we know it, the role of chance seems just as definitive as that of necessity. No doubt the party will go on. And many secrets remain to be brought to light.

Vincent Courtillot

“What the hell’s a Milankovic cycle?” Rhonda asked.

“In general,” I explained, “it’s the long-term changes
of the Earth’s orbit and axis, the astrophysics.
In particular, it’s how Jupiter and Saturn
cause a subtle change to the ellipse of Earth’s orbit
on a scale of something like four hundred thousand years.
So, you know, a pop song only lasts three minutes but
a jazz arrangement lasts a Milankovic cycle.”

Then we talked about Hamlet’s Mill the whole afternoon.

“Do you really believe,” Rhonda asked, “that humans knew
about changes to the stars that happened at that scale?
I mean, in the past? Before telescopes, computers?”

“Metronomes are in our genes,” I said. “Sometimes the click
is allegro. Sometimes the click is adagio.
Sometimes, you know, it’s very, very adagio.”

This new way of looking at things. I like slow music.

Even before turbulence from the Earth’s core began
pushing up though fractures in the Gulf of Mexico
I enjoyed playing guitar slowly to a click-track
more in time with, well, folklore than a comet crashing.

“I think,” Rhonda said, “that kind of music is extinct.”

“I am still here,” I said. Then I played Molly Malone
on an electronic keyboard that generated
real-time accompaniment at whatever tempo
the fingers of my left hand shifted from chord to chord.

The digital signal processors kept time with me.

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Milankovic cycle at Wikipedia

Hamlet’s Mill at Wikipedia


Endings And Beginnings

Cookies And High Heels In A Clean Kitchen

Sheldrake: Orchestras To Planetary Systems

All The Sunlight Is For Laughing

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Opposite Of Washing Machine

I know this woman. I will call her ‘G.’

“I wish there was a machine,” G told me,
“a kind of opposite washing machine
that I could put myself in like clean clothes
and get something like washed, rinsed, spun around—
whatever the opposite of those are—
and come out all creased, smelly and filthy.
I want an appliance that will wreck me,
turn me into garbage to be thrown out.
I’m smart. You’re smart. Help me build this machine,
the opposite of a washing machine,
because I want to throw myself away,
all creased, stained and torn, too filthy even
to give away to one of those thrift stores.”

“No, I’m not going to do that,” I said.
“You know, the book Frankenstein was written
by a woman. In the book the monster
was sad and angry he was a monster.”

G laughed. “That novel was written,” she said,
“hundreds of years ago. Women back then
couldn’t say what they were really thinking.
Sometimes, in fact, they said the opposite.
In today’s world I can say what I think.
Help me build this machine that will turn me
into garbage. Or make me a monster
if you can only use your metaphor.”

“No, I’m not going to do that,” I said.

She smiled and looked all coy and attractive.
“Help me,” she said. “You know somebody will.
If you help me you can write about it.”

“No, I’m not going to do that,” I said.
“It’s not the kind of thing I write about.
In fact I’d say kind of the opposite.”

I almost never walk past the castle.

G and her friends bought lots of equipment
and at night there are bright flashes of light
where they’re trying to build her strange machine.

She sends me e-mails now and then. Updates.
I delete them without opening them.

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

The Other Way Of Making A Frankenstein’s Monster

Return To The Other Way Of Making A Frankenstein’s Monster

The Zombie Issue Destroyed Their Friendship

Sara’s Zombie Quest Disgusted Jenny

Zombie Sara Terrorized Jenny From The Start

Zombie Sara Made Jenny Question Their Past

Zombie Sara’s Zombie Urges Destroyed Her World

Jenny Paid Her Respects At Sara’s Grave

Friday, August 20, 2010

Where The Tree Goes Into The Ground

“I like,” she said, “wearing pants with no pockets.
Not carrying a purse. But it’s just pretend.
You know it’s just pretend. I wouldn’t do it
if you didn’t understand it’s just pretend.”

She sat down. Where the tree goes into the ground
its big roots made a kind of natural chair.

I sat next to her. Put my arm around her.
I leaned against the tree. She leaned against me.

Up in the sky, wind was doing something strange
to the fluffy white clouds. Two weather systems
were bumping into each other or something
and the round tops of the clouds were shearing off,
turning into long thin streams of clouds slowly.
The blue sky and white clouds were being replaced
by overcast, gold near the Sun, turning gray.

“Everything,” she said, “is changing. Pretending
is like playing. Playing is what children do.”

The wind was beginning to reach ground level.
We both heard, both looked up, as the leaves rustled
in the bright green canopy above our heads.

“If you understand,” she said, “then I don’t care.
These roots are so thick. But I bet in a storm
even a tree like this can be uprooted.
They say only the strong will survive. I think
even a tree like this will be uprooted.
I don’t care. I just need you to understand.”

I held her, shaking, more tightly against me.

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The Metaphysics Of Elle

Like A Bright Green Fantasy

Steam And Laughter By The Somewhere Tree

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lame Thursday (Another [!] Sick Day)

Hmmm. It’s (late) Thursday night as I type this and I am not feeling too well.

There are lots of interesting (and mostly terrifying) things going on in the Gulf of Mexico, but I don’t have anything much to add to that topic right now.

I tried out some new, inexpensive watercolor paints a few days ago and didn’t like them very much, but I don’t have much to say about painting right now.

USA Today reviewed the new Sony EVIL-format camera in Thursday’s paper. I still haven’t bought a camera, but I still like the Olympus design best. But I don’t have much to say about photography right now.

I worked out a nice, simple arrangement of an old jazz standard a few days ago but I’m hesitant about doing another guitar video. I just did one last Friday. So I don’t have much to say about music right now.

Earlier today I had lots of energy. I went shopping. Did laundry. Got my hair cut. I took advantage of the internet to exchange e-mails with people about art and physics and all sorts of cool stuff I don’t get enough chances to talk to real people about in real life.

Then at some point either I ate something weird or my body got attacked by some virus or something because it was like flipping a switch—one minute I felt great, then I felt awful.

So this is going to be a pretty lame Thursday post.

About the only thing I have that even hints of being interesting is another example of a skilled artist using watercolor to create something wildly cool. This image is more technique-driven than the cool Sidaway drawing of oil rigs, but this is cool, too. Man! When an artist knows how to think about watercolor the medium can do anything. And do it great! And at the artist’s blog he describes how he created the image.

Here’s a watercolor painting of a shark by Matthew Warren Lee, and a link to his “Paintings And Drawings” blog:

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A Thomas Dolby Update (Sick Day)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Prehistoric Sharks In The Atlantic?

Recently reports surfaced about dead seals being found in Scotland with very strange wounds on their bodies. Scientists, in fact, don’t know what killed the seals. Or so the press is reporting.

Scientists investigate seal deaths from mysterious injuries

Scientists, reports say, have explicitly eliminated shark attacks as the cause of death.

The mystery of mutilated seals: “... Professors have so far eliminated sharks, tidal power generators and ordinary boat propellers from the list of suspects — but they have no idea what else could have caused the injuries.”


But what are people talking about behind the scenes?

That’s where things get interesting.


A well-established scuba diving blog here in America, Shark Diver, reported on the dead seals in Scotland. They point out that for something like ten years there have been similar seal deaths along the East Coast of America.

Mysterious 'corkscrew' kills dozens of seals on east coast

And, in fact, just last year writers from Shark Diver talked with a marine biologist, Dr. Peter Klimley, about strange seal deaths along the coast of Canada.

Mystery Shark - Sable Island Canada

They don’t report Dr. Peter Klimley’s exact speculation, but they tease it by saying, “The question then, "What was doing this to these seals?" The usual suspects were quickly ruled out, killer whales and white sharks. This according to Peter, was another kind of shark altogether, or was it?


Another well-established US blog reported on the seal deaths in Scotland. Loren Coleman is probably the most famous cryptozoologist alive. If there are rumors about unusual sharks in the Atlantic, Coleman would hear them. If people are gossiping about unusual shark activity, Coleman would know it.

And Coleman just did a post on his cryptozoology blog where he doesn’t tease but asks the question outright:

Megalodon Slicing Up The Seals?


What a cool question!

Sharks from Atlantis?!

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Megalodon at Wikipedia


Sharks From Beyond Space: Sky As Shoreline

Sharks In Shoes

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Looking At A Street Light In The Jungle

Looking at a street light in the jungle
a man walks past a puddle by the curb,
past a parked car, past a remaining tree.

Light, like thin, white, ethereal honey,
flows over the scene, over the parked car,
over the puddle and over the tree.

Light, like thin, white, ethereal honey
processed from magical pollen gathered
by magical bees and then pumped through wires

flows over the man standing in the street
looking at a street light in the jungle
during a calm moment when dinosaurs

aren’t chasing someone caught unaware
and people aren’t pleading for someone
to tell them how to stay alive till dawn.

The man ignores whatever might emerge
from the puddle and he doesn’t get in
the parked car to check if the tank has gas.

‘The light is like white honey,’ the man thinks.
‘Like weird alchemy. Electricity,
wires, filaments, vacuums, glass transmuted

to this fluid that illuminates things.’
Somewhere, someone screams. The man stands thinking,
looking at a street light in the jungle.

It’s a jungle out there
Disorder and confusion everywhere
No one seems to care
Well I do
Hey who’s in charge here
It’s a jungle out there
Poison in the very air we breath
You know what’s in the water you drink
Well I do
It’s amazing
People think I’m crazy
To worry all the time
If you paid attention
You’d be worried too
You better pay attention
Or this world we love so much
Might just kill you
I could be wrong
But I don’t think so
Cause it’s a jungle out there
It’s a jungle out there

Randy Newman’s Theme from “Monk”

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Cell Phones, Street Lights, Something Like Honey

Calculating Marigold Space

Sunlight On Lidian Emerson

Like A Bright Green Fantasy

Puddle Monsters: Puddles In The Sky

Dinosaurs Are Searching For A Path To Disney

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dinosaurs Are Searching For A Path To Disney

What came first the chicken or the egg? Neither, according to scientists. It could be dinosaurs came first.

Paleontologist John “Jack” Horner – the scientist who acted as a technical advisor on the “Jurassic Park” movies — is trying to prove chickens evolved from dinosaurs by reactivating dormant genes in chickens that would produce a long tail, no feathers and teeth. In other words, a “dino-chicken.”

Horner, a professor at Montana University and nationally recognized paleontologist, believes that because chickens still have these genes, it indicates that birds are modern dinosaurs.

Scientist says path to living
dinosaurs starts with chickens

Grant said, “What did you think?”

Ellie shrugged. “Naïve.”

“You like the part where John Hammond is the evil arch-villain?” Grant laughed. “John Hammond’s about as sinister as Walt Disney.”

After the dinosaurs regain their rightful place
at the top of the food chain they’re going to try
to use Walt Disney’s corpsicle to bring him back
and they’re going to let out a dinosaur roar
when they discover that Disney was cremated.

When a monster doesn’t get what it wants it roars.

I’ve heard monsters roar. It’s not a sound you sample
and use as part of a song or in a soundtrack.
Just the sound claws at the human nervous system.

When dinosaurs discover Disney’s not frozen
they’ll roar, then they’ll round up all Disney’s descendents
and try to use their testicles and ovaries
to recover a genetic strange attractor
that will rebuild Walt for them by breeding backward.

Dinosaurs in flying saucers mutilate cows
in their quest to understand mammal genetics
and it’s all about bringing Disney back to life.

Dinosaurs are searching for a path to Disney
the way humans seek out the road to Shambhala.

Humans sing songs. Dinosaurs roar and eat people.

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Was Walt Disney frozen after death?
Top 10 celebrity myths debunked

“Carnosaur” at Wikipedia


The Creature That Ate Britney

Modern Romance In The Noir

The Hidden Princess Of Mount Shasta

Freedom From The Wild

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quasi Una Red Guitar Fantasia

Used to have a red guitar
Till I smashed it one drunk night

Red Guitar, Loudon Wainwright III

This post is, vaguely, about guitar colors.

This is a post I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but I’ve been trying to think of some kind of special context or hook to build it around. I’ve never been able to do that, so I’m just going to do it for fun. The only hook I’ve got is that this is my first video post that I’ve treated like a regular text post—I mean I recorded this just moments ago!

I’ve been thinking about guitars a lot recently. First because I’ve been considering getting a MIDI guitar or a MIDI pickup for my current guitar. Second because I was in a guitar store a few days ago and I saw a PRS SE One.

That’s the guitar I posted about a few years ago in Knobs. I’ve always kind of had the idea in the back of my mind that the PRS SE One was sort of the unofficial guitar of Impossible Kisses. However, after actually trying out one of the guitars I’ve kind of scrapped that idea. It’s a solidly made guitar and I didn’t see anything particularly bad about it. However I was kind of shocked at how, well, clunky it felt. The neck was thick. The hardware all seemed kind of blunt and just stuck in place. And it cost a bit more than the guitar I’m currently using. Odd.

So I’m sticking with my gypsy guitar.

My current guitar is a black guitar. My first guitar was a red guitar. I always felt kind of dumb playing a red guitar because I never really had any kind of flashy skill and I didn’t feel I could live up the red guitar’s, well, redness.

However many, many years ago I saw this album cover from Michael Nesmith:

Color me crazy, but this always struck me as one of the coolest images I’ve ever seen of a singer/songwriter. I was never knocked out by Jimi Hendrix and his Strat or the endless people playing Telescasters. But this picture of Nesmith with a black Les Paul (or a Les Paul copy of some kind) always made me smile. It still makes me smile.

I’ve known a couple of amazing studio musicians who played Les Paul’s. I’ve never been too carried away by the whole Establishment wizard persona the guitar carries. And I’ve certainly never considered myself as having anything like the kind of skills you normally associate with the kind of guitar wizards who play a Les Paul.

So I’ve never liked the actual Les Paul guitar, but I really liked the image of a black guitar shining in a spotlight.

That’s why I play a black guitar.

It’s some kind of freaky Mike Nesmith, breaking-out-of-the-Monkees kind of brain twitch.

I’m guessing all guitar players have some stupid ass reason why they prefer some particular kind of guitar. That’s my stupid ass reason.

Still, it could be worse. Mike Nesmith wrote some great songs. He produced some great movies. And he—apparently!—had an affair with Winona Ryder and that’s pretty cool just in itself.

So I’m going to stick with black guitars. Someday I will probably get some better hardware than my current guitar, but now I am thinking I will either stay with my current manufacturer or get one of those semi-custom Carvin models with synth access.

But right now I am very happy with what I’ve got.

So let’s get to what I’ve got. Here is me singing a Loudon Wainwright III song, “Red Guitar.” I did have a red guitar and I traded it up for a blonde guitar and nothing much good ever came of my blonde guitar. Now with my black guitar I’m making my own little videos. The Lord does work in wondrous ways.


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Get Well Soon, Marianne Faithfull! #5: The Monkee And The Fox

Winona Ryder Redux

Six Billion Happy Memories

Thursday, August 12, 2010

True, Ugly, Ravished, Lost

You ravished child of God, true, ugly
No lips to mourn Arcadia lost
No skin that won’t curl and fall like leaves
Forever cold, forever man-shaped
Forever gone from human passion
A landscape, empty, a sky, empty
A waste, a constant woe, could you speak
Would you just curse, or curse and say, too
Life is corruption, corruption life
That’s all till God’s fire eats corruption

Ode To An American Zombie

Milla Jovovich wants to kick me
George Romero wants to film me
David Hockney wants to paint me
Giselle wants to wear me
Ted Nugent wants to hunt me
Pat Robertson wants to save me
I’m your zombie dog
Just tell me you still love me

Zombie dog, I’ll always love you
You're a friend of mine
Together we’ll face your life anew
Zombie dog, it’s true
Zombie dog, I do
I love you

Quasi Una Zombie Fantasia

The basic zombie plot is very different from the basic plot of most horror films, and most films in general.

At their most basic, almost all plots are mysteries that people solve. Something happens. The hero or heroine attempts to figure out what happened and who is behind it. Then the hero or heroine attempts to figure out how to put things right. Personality and character are tested and revealed by how the hero or heroine figures out what’s going on and how he or she makes things right.

Zombie films are wildly different. Zombie films begin with the hero or heroine in a bad situation. Then the situation gets worse. Then the situation becomes still more horrible. Finally the situation becomes grotesquely unbearable. Personality and character are tested and revealed not by how the hero or heroine figures out things and solves things, but rather by how he or she reacts when confronted with the escalating chaos and hopelessness engulfing their world.

The Basic Zombie Plot

The Macondo Well has all the earmarks (based on current response, length of time to drill the relief wells, high pressure hard cap designs/fabrication) of being a super high-pressure blow-out that is into the Earth’s mantle. The “red oil” that is being seen floating on the GOM surface could be from the Earth’s mantle (Where is the chemical signature for this oil after 70 days?). If this well had only been in the range of 14,500 psi well bore pressures, we would have already drilled the relief well and sealed it off (by day 40 at the latest, with 7,000 barrels of mud). However, since this has not happened, one can assume the situation is in a transition of going from very bad to worse ...”

BP Hard Cap Installation,
and Plausibility Arguments
Regarding Major Well Bore Problems
with Relief Wells

Dr. Stephen A. Rinehart
July 05, 2010

True, ugly, ravished, lost, you zombie,
the planet is catching up to you.

I’ve thought about the ethics of this.
At least, you know, the folk song ethics,
in my pretend zombie dog love song.

I thought, someday, I might animate
a story to go along with that.
I didn’t think I’d ever wonder
if the folk song ethics would apply
in a hyperrealist fashion
to more than a pretend cartoon dog.

I’m kind of glad in a romantic—
that’s to say hopelessly romantic—
sort of way the planet’s catching up
to you and will keep you company.
I once held the dead branch of a tree
and felt it crack between my fingers.
I watched it collapse and turn to dust.
The hyperrealism of that
happening to you maybe is ‘art’
but unlike the cartoon adventures
of a friendly pretend zombie dog
I can’t imagine what would be fun
in watching as you fall to pieces,
in watching as you crumble to dust.

I’m glad you’ll have the whole world with you
and you’ll never have to be alone.

Because I do not know how or where
but I know that when the dust settles
somehow I will figure out a way
to be playing lost songs somewhere else.

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We’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat

More Than Color

The Occult Technology Of Lost Songs

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More Than Color

It’s only August
but a lot of trees
around here have leaves
already changing.
Colors are changing
from greens to yellows.

Some leaves are changing
more than their color.

A lot of trees here
have branches gone bare,
with no leaves — not green,
not yellow, not red,
not dry, crinkly brown.
No leaves. Dead branches.

I reached up and grabbed
a big leafless branch
low on a tall tree
right across the street.
I’d seen squirrels playing
not too long ago
up and down the tree.
I pulled at the branch.
The branch tip cracked off
where my hand gripped it.
Then, up by the trunk,
the branch cracked there, too.
The whole branch swung down
and smashed on the street.
The wood was so dry
the bark just shattered
and dust billowed up.

When leaves change color
it’s seasons changing.
Warm summer going,
cold winter coming.

When leaves disappear,
when there’s no color,
no green to yellow
or to red or brown,
what is changing then?

Something is changing.

More than a season.

I watched a branch fall,
smash against the street.

The bark turned to dust.

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Quasi Una Petroleum Fantasia

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Hopeless Chaos Of An Actual Field

If you haven’t seen Pluto before, September offers an exciting opportunity. The distant world performs an elegant loop in northwestern Sagittarius close to an 8th-magnitude star. And this star lies only 2.6º north-northwest of 4th-magnitude Mu (µ) Sagittarii. Pluto’s path normally takes place against a backdrop of faint stars, making it hard to home in on the 14th-magnitude dwarf planet. But Pluto’s current proximity to a relatively bright star makes the task much easier.

“The Sky This Month,” Astronomy magazine, 9/10

If an artist begins to paint a field, say by coating the canvas with a layer of green and then going over it with lighter and darker green, it will be obvious that the lights and darks are resting on top of the original middle green. After a while the different shades might nearly cover the first green, but even if that green shows through in tiny crevices, it may still look as if the meadow was made by floating local colors on top of a uniform background. In Monet as in other very different painters, part of the object is to work until it is no longer possible to tell what paint is on top and what is underneath. When that happens, it is a magical moment because the painting suddenly stops looking like a flat color-by-number with a few added touches, and takes on a rich and confusing aspect. The meadow is no longer a green card scattered with cutout plants, but a rich loam matted with plant life and moving with living shadows. Monet’s texture strokes help that happen by raising glints of light that sparkle randomly among the painted stalks and leaves, confusing the eye and mimicking the hopeless chaos of an actual field.

James Elkins

Pluto is moving away from the Earth,
away from where Berthe Morisot lived,
away from where Berthe Morisot worked,
away from where Berthe Morisot died,
away from this planet where the concept
of “Berthe Morisot” is like a tale
told by a writer of science fiction
or a fantasy that might have dragons
so far is it from our reality.

A woman sitting in a field reading?

The meadow is no longer a green card
scattered with young women reading novels.

Pluto is moving away from the Earth
where hopeless chaos has confused the eye,
where living shadows have confused the brain,
where everything we see is created
by ink-jet printers spraying little dots
of colors and tears. And of screams and death.
So many little dots no one can tell
which dots are on top, which are underneath.
Or so everything looks to the confused.

A woman sitting in a field reading?

Yes. And behind her a flying saucer
is coming to kidnap her to Pluto.

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Pluto In Magic And Alchemy

The New Horizons Spacecraft As Julia Adams

A Spaceship That Sparks

The Bright Lights Of The Finished Show

“A Vaguely Fantastic Truth”

The Landscapes With Figures Of Berthe Morisot #1

The Landscapes With Figures Of Berthe Morisot #2

The Landscapes With Figures Of Berthe Morisot #3

The Landscapes With Figures Of Berthe Morisot #4

The Landscapes With Figures Of Berthe Morisot #5

The Act Of Making Was The Prayer

Rembrandt, Magic And Substance Becomes Mind

The Deliriously Beautiful World Of Unnamed Substances

Negotiations Between Water And Stone

Ancient Cities Of The Moon

Monday, August 09, 2010

We’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat

Today I checked out a library book and filled up
my car’s gas tank. Thirty-eight dollars and eighty-five cents
was the bill at the pump. The book I checked out is called,
“Exactitude: Hyperrealist Art Today.” Art.

The comment today at a blog called Monkeyfister
is simply, “Holy shit.” Then there is an excerpt from
a story about Matthew Simmons passing away.

In 1975 hyperrealism
sunk its teeth into Chrissie Watkins and we all watched
in gruesome close-up and great length as she was eaten.
But when Martin Brody wanted to close the beaches
rich and powerful people just threatened to fire him,
he wasn’t “suddenly” discovered dead in the tub.

We’re going to need a bigger boat. With Brody dead
at this point in the hyperrealist narrative
rich and powerful people do not want the shark killed.

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Matthew Simmons, Investment Banker,
Peak Oil Theory Advocate, Dies at 67



The Endless Death Of Chrissie Watkins

Like A Bright Green Fantasy

The Endless Death Of Maple White

Friday, August 06, 2010

A Typewriter Preserved From Roman Times

I am here. A deep space. A sheltered sea.

I Am Here

In naval science, the Black Sea is thought to have received its name because of its hydrogen sulphide layer that begins about 200 metres below the surface, and supports a unique microbial population which produces black sediments probably due to anaerobic methane oxidation.

... Below the pycnocline, salinity increases to 22 to 22.5 ppt and temperatures rise to around 8.5 °C (47.3 °F). The hydrochemical environment shifts from oxygenated to anoxic, as bacterial decomposition of sunken biomass utilises all of the free oxygen. Certain species of extremophile bacteria are capable of using sulfate (SO42−) in the oxidation of organic material, which leads to the creation of hydrogen sulfide (H2S). This enables the precipitation of sulfides such as the iron sulphides pyrite, greigite and iron monosulphide, as well as the dissolution of carbonate matter such as calcium carbonate (CaCO3), found in shells. Organic matter, including anthropogenic artifacts such as boat hulls, are well preserved. During periods of high surface productivity, short-lived algal blooms form organic rich layers known as sapropels. Scientists have reported an annual phytoplankton bloom that can be seen in many NASA images of the region. As a result of these characteristics the Black Sea has gained interest from the field of marine archaeology as ancient shipwrecks in excellent states of preservation have been discovered, such as the Byzantine wreck Sinop D, located in the anoxic layer off the coast of Sinop, Turkey.

Modelling shows the release of the hydrogen sulphide clouds in the event of an asteroid impact into the Black Sea would pose a threat to health—or even life—for people living on the Black Sea coast.

“Black Sea,” at Wikipedia

I’m a typewriter preserved from Roman times
because of the lack of oxygen in me.

Look out if I get hit by an asteroid.

A sheltered sea can develop chemistry
that couldn’t exist with deep water mixing.

But that chemistry can be counterfeited
where deep water mixing exists. Or is stopped.

Typewriters preserved from Roman times can type
in English if you change the Selectric ball.

An asteroid can be counterfeited, too.

All the well-dressed business people in Shanghai
type reports on computers. Or their cell phones.

There is a breeze blowing from the world ocean.

Maple White, lost in something like a jungle,
does sketches and watercolors, and types notes
on me, an old typewriter from Roman times.

I am the water and what’s preserved in it.

Watercolor Update!

Tuesday I posted a beautiful watercolor of oil rigs by Ian Sidaway and I speculated about some advanced techniques he may have used to create the image. Since then I’ve had an e-mail exchange with the artist himself—Ian Sidaway!—and he gave me a brief description of how he created the image, telling me, “The image of the rigs was far simpler to put together than you might think.”

Here is Ian Sidaway—in his own e-mail words!—describing the oil rig watercolor:

The image was worked out first on Layout paper and this drawing transferred to the support by tracing. The sky and sea were washed in first and once dry the landmass was added. The rig was then painted using a brush and ruler. Working from the top down I used the basic trace as a guide adding detail as I went. Once dry I worked back over the image adding more detail. The sea was painted last. I estimate six washes completed the image. As ever planning is everything and the easiest solution is often the best. Gum Arabic was added to the wash used on the rig which helped when painting fine lines as the surface tension of the wash is increased, this prevents the wash from creeping sideways making fine lines easier to paint. Remember keep it simple and think it through before hand. The idea is not to paint yourself into a corner.

That’s pretty cool. Such an extraordinary image and it’s just classic British watercolor techniques. Top-to-bottom. Back-to-front. Washes. Drying time. Fine brush work.

It’s really encouraging to me that such a great image could be created by such straightforward techniques. It doesn’t make it easy—of course!—but it’s one more reason for me not to go out and get a Wacom tablet and work directly in Photoshop and abandon the analog world completely.

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World Ocean at Wikipedia

Shanghai In The Epipelagic Layer

The Endless Death Of Maple White

Sheldrake: Orchestras To Planetary Systems

I Am Here

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Sitting Here Cruising Thousands Of Feet Down

All your love is gone
So sing a lonely song
Of a deep blue dream

quoted in, “All That’s Left Of The Atlantic Ocean”

The city streets are empty now
The lights don’t shine no more
And so the sounds are way down low
Turning, turning

The sounds that flow into my mind
The echoes of the daylight
Are everything that is alive
In my blue world

“Turn To Stone,” E.L.O.

I look at the USGS North America site almost every day. There are often quakes up in the Aleutians and there are often quakes along the West Coast. But I don’t remember ever seeing the map look quite like this—swarms up north, out west, down in Central America and scattered randomly across the US.

Rhonda caught me pretending my pencil
was a submarine and I was captain
and we were cruising thousands of feet down
studying the strange, dark, mystery oil
that doesn’t rise up like normal oil but
flows along bottom contours like lava.

“What’s this?” Rhonda asks. “Are you pretending
you’re captain of your pencil submarine
down in the Gulf of Mexico again?”

My fantasy crumbles like an earthquake
or a seaquake that sends the strange black oil
mixing with surface waters in whirlpools.

I surface quickly. As I come ashore
Rhonda sighs looking at the disaster.

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Tears From The Heart Of The Sea

The Point Of A Pin

Sunlight On Lidian Emerson

Whispering On The Moon

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Cockroaches From Space Redux

Shares of Barnes & Noble Inc. jumped in premarket trading on Wednesday, after the nation's largest traditional bookseller said it is exploring strategic alternatives, including putting itself up for sale.

Shares rose $3.26, or 25 percent, in premarket trading to $16.10.

But Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter said finding a buyer may be difficult.

Ahead of the Bell: Barnes & Noble on the block

I’ve read a couple of books recently.

I read the novel “Dimiter,” by William Peter Blatty, and I read the non-fiction pop science “Bursts,” by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi.

I didn’t buy them. I didn’t even check them out from a library. A couple weekends back I sat in a library all Saturday and read the Blatty book and last weekend I sat in a library all Saturday and read the Barabasi book.

I’m a big fan of William Peter Blatty but I didn’t much like Dimiter. And I thought Barabasi’s book was downright idiotic. ( “There’s not much difference between human beings and pollen grains suspended in water.” Yeah. Thanks for the insight, Albert-Laszlo. )

It doesn’t surprise me that nobody wants to buy books any more. And it certainly doesn’t surprise me that nobody wants to buy a bricks & mortar store that sells books


It has become popular to blame the death of editing and editors on the internet. But years before the World Wide Web even existed I got an earful about the modern profession of editing from some editor at a publishing house who was rejecting one of my novel manuscripts.

She predicted the end of editing and publishing as we know it but she based her prediction simply on the business dynamics of giant conglomerates.

When publishing houses, she said, were standalone companies they were run by businessmen who had some engagement with books and publishing. The businessmen to one extent or another took issues of quality into consideration when they made decisions about what books to publish.

When publishing houses become tiny, almost trivial divisions within giant entertainment conglomerates the businessmen making decisions about publishing have no engagement at all with books or publishing. Their only focus is getting their division to generate a profit for the next quarterly meeting.

If some market research says that a certain demographic wants to read a memoir from, say, Dolly Parton, the publishing division of a conglomerate will publish a memoir from Dolly Parton. If some celebrity has a high Q-score then the publishing division will publish a book by that celebrity—or by someone paid to write for the celebrity—containing any content at all, just so long as the celebrity agrees to put their name on the book. If the movie division of the conglomerate has a film coming out then the publishing division will publish a novelization of the film even if everybody knows nobody wants to read it because just having the covers out there on shelves is advertising for the movie.

People very quickly realized that “books” as the word has been traditionally used have ceased to exist. Books were replaced by targeted “product” designed to exploit this or that market opportunity. And people, for the most part, don’t want to get involved with that kind of crap.

So books have died and bookstores are dying.


So she rejected my manuscript but she said she liked it and she said were it up to her she would have published it. After listening to her monologue about the death of editing I couldn’t even point out that she was the editor for the imprint and I thought it was up to her because she had just explained to me that she was the ‘editor’ but all of her decisions were shaped by the business dynamics of the giant corporation around her.

It’s a weird fucking world when an editor rejecting a manuscript is sadder than the writer getting rejected.

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Editors Comma Having Been Cut Down Comma

In The Shadow Of The Mouse Ears

Meanwhile, In An Abandoned Strip Mine...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Thinking About Watercolors, Drawings And Photos

This is a watercolor painting by Ian Sidaway of an oil rig in Scotland:

I posted another watercolor by Sidaway a while back, of an English standing stone, in, People Become Things: Carreg Samson. His work appears in many art instruction books and I really like it.

I wonder a lot about watercolor as a contemporary medium. On a personal note I really love watercolors. A while ago I put up a watercolor by Berthe Morisot that may be my favorite painting of all time, in “A Vaguely Fantastic Truth.” But I wonder if the beautiful effects of pigment in water can really compete with photographs and photo-realistic drawing.

When I wanted an illustration of BP’s Deepwater Horizon burning for The Endless Death Of Maple White I considered doing a drawing from a news photograph and I considered doing a painting from a news photograph but I ended up just cropping and tweaking a news photograph.

It’s just so fast and easy to manipulate a photograph into something acceptable that I have a hard time devoting the time and energy to marshalling whatever skills I have at art to do a drawing or a painting that—I always fear—in the end will lack the visual impact of a photograph.

I was in a similar situation yesterday. I wanted something non-technical to illustrate the start of my post about calculators. I had that photograph of a yellow flower I took recently (it looks like it’s deep in nature but it’s right out front of a nearby library). It seemed, and seems, like a perfect composition to re-create in watercolor but I get the feeling that any painting or drawing I could execute of the simple scene would look trivial and amateurish.

That oil rig watercolor by Sidaway is an interesting example of how powerful and contemporary a watercolor can be. However that oil rig required some serious painting skills. The background and foreground are, for the most part, traditional watercolor techniques, washes and dry brush. But the oil rig itself has a lot of absolutely hard edges and absolutely straight lines. I strongly suspect Sidaway used some very non-traditional techniques to create the rig, such as using a liquid resist over a drawing made with drafting equipment. The almost marbled effect of the rig suggests that he may have used negative resist and some kind of wet-on-wet technique in an open area within a protected resist area. It’s beautiful and the final image is great, but it’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of work that requires very particular skills that take a great deal of time and effort to acquire.

I don’t know. This is the kind of stuff I’m devoting a lot of time to trying to think through. I personally like the simple and evocative look of even amateurish illustrations. But I also like the slick, professional look of a reasonably well-produced photograph. I want to do more posts like my story about Jenny & Zombie Sara and I like using graphics in almost all my posts. But I’m having trouble deciding on any final look & feel for this blog’s graphics. I guess I don’t have to choose, but I want to choose and create a consistent look & feel for all the images here.

At any rate, this post is an update on the kind of issues I’m considering.

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This post is updated here:

A Typewriter Preserved From Roman Times

Monday, August 02, 2010

I’m Thinking Of A Room With A Calculator

I’m standing at a broken window, my hand against the crack.
Outside, there are lights below in the darkness. Did someone throw
a stone? Was it a bird? Did some imperceptible earthquake
flex the frame just enough to fracture an invisible fault?
I’m standing at a broken window, my hand against the crack.
Should I go back to bed? Should I go outside and look around?
Should I be angry? Maybe curious? Concerned? Should I pray?
Should I nail boards over the window now that the glass is cracked?
I’m standing at a broken window, my hand against the crack.
Outside, there are celebrities and farms, animals and wires,
car crashes and flower gardens. In here there’s a bed and night stand
with a lamp, a closet full of clothing, a television,
a calculator, a guitar, some books and a doorway out.
I’m standing at a broken window, my hand against the crack.
The glass is cool under my skin. The crack is sharp. I didn’t
feel any pain but a drop of blood is running down the glass.
The blood is a dark shade of red running down against the night.
I wish some crazy serial killer would lure me outside
so I could go out for a big, dramatic fight. Or I wish
I was so tired I could flop back on my bed and go to sleep.
I’m standing at a broken window, my hand against the crack.
It’s night, I’m bleeding and I have no idea what to do.

I’m Standing At A Broken Window

I’m thinking of buying a new calculator.

I’m a numbers guy. I calculate everything.

A new camera would let me take better pictures
but for almost all the images I use here
I would rather put up little watercolors
or little acrylic paintings and post photos
only if a painting is based on a photo.

The guitar I’m using started out as a temp
but I’ve kind of fallen in love with the gypsy
and it plays everything I can think of playing.

The second generation Texas Instruments
Nspire calculators have a letters keypad
for building functions with letters and taking notes.

I don’t like carrying around a computer.

I don’t think of myself as a computer guy.

I’m a numbers guy. A calculating guy. But
I don’t think of myself as a computer guy.

Even if I bought a high-tech MIDI pickup
for my gypsy guitar I wouldn’t hook it up
to my laptop, I’d plug it into my keyboard.

I’m thinking of buying a new calculator.

I’m thinking of a room with a calculator
and paper flowers and a woman wearing lace.

It’s not a photograph. It’s a watercolor.

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Steam And Laughter By The Somewhere Tree

Is This A Junkyard Church

The Epistemology Of Stevie Nicks

TI-Nspire at Wikipedia

2nd Generation Nspire at Texas Instruments