Monday, July 31, 2006

The First Arktoi

"Don't tease the bear."
"Don't get the bear drunk."
Two variations of the same admonition. Did we children listen? Most did. I did not. This is why I stand before you blind and maimed.
My brothers were appalled by my mauling and carried clubs and spears to its den. There they quickly had it slain. This raised the hackles of Artemis, goddess of all things wild and lunar. She called upon all young girls to become little she-bears - arktoi - for one earth orbit cycle, so that they may atone and commiserate.
I was the first to act the bear. I now worship Artemis and do not tolerate intolerance.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Old Gods

Those old gods were bad gods but they were our gods just the same.
They were good enough to allow the crops to come in, they were good enough to let them grow.
Their gifts were bountiful but their wrath was stern.
They allowed us a harvest the one year, brought locusts the next.
They were god enough to bestow and god enough to turn angry and deprive.
Without malice they starved and drowned and smote the innocent.
Offerings were made to placate them.
These were accepted and expected, though often rejected and ignored.
These were not your predictable gods.
But they were our gods.

Just the same, had they accepted our petitions and granted our prayers,
bestowing bounty in plenty upon the lot of us,
wouldn't we recall fondly the doing without? The going about without?
Wouldn't we miss drawing down, battening hatches, digging for or bailing water?
Shouldn't we light a candle for them now?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Evolution









Perhaps because we are born and later die, we perceive life all wrong. In Erutan, our parallel universe, death comes first, and so evolution proceeds from the advanced to the basic. There, men go from complicated organisms that are so estranged from their environment they destroy it, to simpler childlike lifeforms that live in harmony with their surroundings. Go far enough forward and see man become single-cell organisms, atom clusters and eventually black matter, the life force of the universe. Could be ours is the shadow world, ours the abberation.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Diary Entry 4

Today a woman came into the store, she was a tiny little thing, no bigger than three feet tall, couldn't have weighed more than 50 pounds, though I didn't lift her, mind you. She was needing batten for some bunting she was sewing. Anyway, all the other clerks went their own ways when they saw her coming, so I had to wait on her. Wasn't no problem to speak of, except sometimes, she gave me a funny look on account of I was looking at her a lot. Anyway, it turns out she wasn't with the circus or anything, she was just a small person. You coulda knocked me over with a goose feather, but I had no idea there were such things outside of the circus or the Wizard of Oz. If that don't beat all.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Drusus

With a brother like Caligula and a mother like Agrippina, you might think Drusus Caesar had bad things in store for him. And you'd be right. That is, if being thrown into one of Tiberius' dark dank dungeons is bad, if being forgotten there is bad, and if it's bad that you dine on your mattress stuffing until you starve, yeah. You'd be right.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Captain Death vs. the Zombie Cretins

The brand of justice Captain Death meted out seemed a tad harsh to the Administerial Board, but nevertheless, they approved his plan to preemtively engage the natives of seventeen minor planets in Sector J. One of those seventeen, Emplofamia, was overun by a freakish race of zombie cretins. As fate would have it, the overwhelming flaming z-ray firepower of the forces mustered by Captain Death proved useless in battle with the Zombie Cretins of Emplofamia, for the Zombie Cretins were already dead and hence, somewhat immune. Conquest of Sector J was thus postponed.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Motel the Tailor

There's noting else to say but this is Motel, formerly of Anatevka, fabric stitcher, husband to Tzeitel, nemesis to Lazar Wolf the butcher, and son-in-law to Tevye.
A good egg.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mosaic

Detail of mosaic using Arkansas River stone and opalescent glass.

Installed at New Hope Baptist Church, Sparkman, Arkansas.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006

True Story 7: My Ghost TV

I spent much of my youth in involuntary servitude. First, to my father, who put me to tending the lower forty and digging holes in order to fill them in again after removing the rocks, which I moved by wheelbarrow from one place to another. For this I received a lousy two bucks a week and a desire to avoid manual labor for the rest of my life. I got another two bucks a week from Mr. Dixon down the street, for whom I'd mow a lawn that went on forever each Saturday morning, a sacred time of freedom for most kids. I clearly remember working one spring and summer week after week for Mr. Dixon and foregoing the usual payment in order to trade for a portable tape recorder his son had grown tired of playing with. Dixon must have thought of himself as a wheeler-dealer, but I became a collector of sounds, so I got the better deal.

There was another benefit to working for Mr. Dixon; he made periodic trips to the local dump.

Our local dump was a cut above most. They didn't take garbage. They wanted your junk. This was a time before lawyers and litigation ruled the land, so if you paid your way into the dump, you were allowed to climb up on the mountain of junk, grab what you wanted and take it home with you. In this manner I procured my first radio and later, my first television set.

The radio was like any radio, except that it was mine. I used it to tune in Jean Shepherd on WOR when I was supposed to be sleeping. It's secondary job was to bring in the Good Guys of WMCA. But the television, it was something else again. When you turned it on, you'd hear the tubes crackle to life and smell the unmistakable odor of electrical ozone. But the screen would stay black. This I surmised was the reason it ended up in the dump. The poor people who used to own it never realized or else never appreciated the fact that in order to get the machine to work, you had to wait faithfully for it to get in receiving mode. And if you turned it on any time of the day, it never got there. It only worked at night.

Some nights I'd half-wake up at midnight or two in the morning and turn it on. I'd get the crackle, the ozone, the black screen, then, slowly, dark gray stars would appear here and there, becoming static in gray and black, pale gray and black, and finally stark white and black. This process could take 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or seven weeks in kid time. The curious thing about black and white static is that to the human eye, especially eyes that are watching intently, colors are perceived. Eventually the static created fields that coalesced into moving shapes. All this time the sound was going from white noise to static-y pops to snatches of dialogue and music within the static curtain.

It didn't occur to me at the time - and I doubt it still - that late night TV signals out of New York City in the 1960s were the result of programming decisions made by rational people. These signals seemed to come from somewhere beyond the realm of normal reality. They were one third strange old movies, one third the voices and images of ghosts, people now dead but living odd lives on the tube still, and one third the garbled audio hallucinations of an almost sleeping eleven year old.

The only movie I actually remember watching on my ghost TV was Fellini's La Strada. I fell in love with Giulietta Masina's perky little clown face. I couldn't read the subtitles for all the snow, but I didn't need them to figure out the primal plot line. I think what inscribed the film into memory was the way it evoked feelings of both joy and sorrow in me. That was new and a far cry from prime time on my parents' TV.

Night plus static plus faith plus lack of sleep equals feeling emotion, seeming the only one alive.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Minutemen Most Wanted









Borderland Patrol has issued an all points bulletin for these three aliens on the loose somewhere in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Be advised, these illegals are armed with laser rays, so should be considered armed and dangerous. Do NOT, under any circumstances, hire them for landscaping or kitchen duties. They are also known to be shape-shifters, so also be on the lookout for coyote, jackrabbits, cacti and rocks.
That is all.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Flarb & Kwips

It's not that Flarb was cognizant of overmuch, but he knew a ratchethead when he saw one, and Kwips was a Royal Ratchethead. Bounding all about the quay, Kwips lifted barrel lids and sniffed under canvas, disturbingly perplexed. Flarb tailed him from a distance until his curiosity got the better of him, and so approached.

"Whatever has engaged you thus? quoth Flarb.
"Never you mind. I'll find it."
"Find what, pray tell?"
"It's here someplace." And off he kwipped in the direction of all ratchetheads, downwharf.

It was time for Flarb to draw the line. Give a wharf rat an inch, he'll get you re-assigned to alley patrol.

"Here now, I say..." Flarb cornered Kwips, grabbed him by the scruffneck and hoisted the little petard. Kwips wailed, or rather rattled and spewed, then, suspended, went silently eye to eye with Flarb. When off to the left, in no one's line of vision, Kwip's quarry, the plot kernel, skulked away on tippy toes.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Saul

Best I understand it. Israel was itching to have a king. Why is another matter, because no good comes of one. It was plain they wanted one, though, so Sam was on the spot. Divine or profane intervention told Sam to make Saul the king of Israel, so he did. As being king meant you had to go out and smite thine enemies, Saul did so. First the Ammonites, who had it coming for horning in on the fossil trade. Then fell Moab and Zobah and Edom and all manner of Philistines. It wasn't easy being Israel's first king.

But he overstepped his bounds with the Amalekites. Smote them too, but kept some of the spoils what was supposed to go to the Corporation. Sam and Yahweh didn't like that, so made David king. David was up and coming at that time. There was that Goliath thing and all. Anyway - Saul became possessed - or obsessed, both being one in the same in those days, and attempted on several occasions to besmote David., who made for the hills to wait the thing out.

Saul, figuring he was still king, went on killing. But when he went up against that Philistine horde, he wished he'd listened to the prophesy of the Witch of Endor. Oh, I forgot to tell you about the prophesy of the Witch of Endor. Well, you can imagine. It wasn't good. He stood his last stand on Mount Gilboa. Vastly outnumbered, all three of his sons bought it. His army fell. Saul took an arrow but wouldn't die. He tried to find someone to finish him off but got no takers. Finally did the dignified deed; he fell on his own sword. His last words were "This being king shit sucks."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Goodbye Latrobe






It was a snappy little nip of a number. It was tendered for our enjoyment as a tribute to our good taste.
First the ponies ran out. Now the mountain springs run dry.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Zeke Lincoln

History books have little to say about Ezekial Lincoln, Abe's older brother. And for good reason. He was one of the most lowdown, no good, lyingest, cheatingist, two-faced, three-toed varmints you ever did see this side of Topeka. He was always dishing out crap to his little brother, he couldn't help it. He used to stuff Abe's library books into the damp cabin chinks. Turned the axe heads blunt side out. Abe would read by candlelight, so Zeke would carve out the wicks and replace them with firecrackers. Just mean things.

There followed many fruitless years as Springfiald's town drunk.

It was Union revisionists who decided to write Zeke out of the history books after he won seven slaves - two bucks, two mammies and three pickaninnies - in a questionable round of Montana Red Dog down at the Marquette and Jolliet Grog Shop in the summer of 1858. Three years later, Abe was in the White House, rallying Republicans and Democrats alike to the Union cause when Zeke, his wife, kids, hound dogs and slaves all dropped by for a visit. This didn't go over too well. The entire entourage was rounded up and escorted by wagon to the Chesapeake Bay, spirited on board a fishing vessel and bid bon voyage for parts unknown. The war went on in peace.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mammon Provides

When your nefarious dealings pan out beyond Wall Street's wildest speculation, you may rest assured your family will be ensconced in the same voluptuous lairs they have come to expect. You, vacating in Vail, will wish you could be there with them, but what with the pending house arrest, you need your space.

A sudden shudder racks you asunder and you hammer your heart to get it going again. Your weeble wobbles and you fall down. As breath leaves your lungs for the last time, you take stock of your achievements and draw a momentary blank. Fade to black and a smile comes to your lips. The dumbfounded look of all those bilked. There is that.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Phoenix

Came upon what looks to be a phoenix built into the rock wall of a shed/firepit in Cushman, Arkansas. Enlarge it to see a face near the tail and another under its wing. Okay, they're not really there.