Friday, December 30, 2005

unusual funky object

Okay, someone asked me about the "UFO" non-sequitur in the last post.

We were at a rest area on I-10, between Quartzsite and Tonopah. There was this weird bunch of lights up in the sky, so I snapped a photo:

A fine example of a thing out of context. Skeptics unite!


Thursday, December 29, 2005

deserted & not-so-deserted ruins

Just had a quick roadtrip to Phoenix for xmas. An odd combination of ancient ruins, desert sand, and finding clean bathrooms in outlet centers in the middle of nowhere.

Along the 8, there were homes, miles apart in the pitch blackness, sad little things with a strand or two of icicle lights. They were almost like a cry for recognition. "Hey! We're stranded in the desert!"

For Christmas spirit, I thought how nice it would be to have lots of extra money, so we could just drop in on strangers and give them stuff to make them feel better. But knowing our luck, our first pick would be some kind of mafia safehouse. Guns would come out. "Get the hell in here and close the door." End of story.

There were real ruins, like Casa Grande. Yeah, it looks like one big building under a metal canopy, but if you care to look around, there are ruins knee-high or chest-high as far as the eye can see. Outlines of buildings, mounds, even one of those perplexing "ball fields" nobody can figure out.

There was a freaky UFO at a rest area. But it wasn't real.

Love those midnight truckstops. I wonder why so many of the trucks are left idling, stinking up the place, lights off, nobody home. If they're leaving the engines on just to run the air conditioner or heater, that's pretty lame. They can't all be in the shower at the same time.

There was a life-sucking couch. You know how those work.

There were whole malls being built just to annoy people. Mostly empty, especially for the holidays. At one such wasteland only the ceiling fan shop was open, and the big fountain outside was urping up a toilet-cleaner kind of ultra-blue water.

On one urban hike there were all kinds of loser lottery tickets on the ground outside an AM/PM. And what loser those people must have been, too. They just drop the tickets on the ground, thinking they will burst into flame or something, but it don't work that way, folks. Clean up after your frigging self.

At one point, there were swirls of cotton blowing across the road. Cotton fields everywhere (near Florence). I got an almanac for $3 at a discounted discount book shop, only to find that the #1 agricultural export from Arizona is ... cotton. I never would have guessed. I would have guessed cactus or something with spines on it, like artichokes.

Scattered thoughts from a tired brain.

Friday, December 23, 2005

myths wearing thin

where have all the werewolves gone?

myths wearing thin, splitting the seams, they lost their bite when plastic toys came along.

banished by streetlights, their habitat -- the shadows -- fainter every year, then nowhere left to hide.

Awareness out of fashion, video smiles prevail, we have sterilized our fables, swept the beasts under carpets, left them to die on the cutting room floor.


published in Absinthe, by Aurealia Nelson (2002) (poem form)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

the Network, act I

patterns on the ground
    ground shifting with lights
lights from the air
    air of the night
night weaves the Network
    the Network unique
night casts the backdrop
    for these city streets


For fun, this is the oldest poem of mine to ever get published.
Written in 1983 (age 17).
-- accepted by Midnight Wine (folded)
-- published in Starsong #7 (3/89)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Telescope Eye

Daniel Brayson swept the headset from his brow in a vaguely stunned, awkward motion, then he flipped his forehead jack closed and drummed his fingers on the console. What had he just witnessed?

It was vertigo, coming through the link, even though all the systems said they were ready. He had tried again and again to clear the strange sensation from the equipment. Now it was time to wonder if what he was sensing was truly outside the Eye, if it was inside the circuitry, or a figment of his mind.

He was testing the view through the new telescope base, the Carotene Alpha. The base was designed after the human eye, with thousands of hexagonal focusing plates at the cornea and over a hundred sensor stations arrayed within the retina. Scientists could set up their experiments at any station and get incredibly sharp images across most of the upper spectrum. The scope was the most ambitious ever designed, some four kilometers across. In theory, it might just be able to detect the absolute edge of spacetime.

Was this the feeling in his head? Was the cold, lifeless falling sensation coming from out there – was his mind registering the turmoil from which the Universe was formed?

He put the headset back on. He would ride the sick feeling and see what was at the other end. He cycled the systems back to standby. Processor banks accepted the incoming data and translated it through the neurocircuits. Daniel closed his eyes and plugged in. The data streamed into his optic nerves ... into his mind ...

The falling sensation was violent, deathlike. He was vageuly aware of his limbs thrashing in the energy cushion. Then he was past it, suddenly, as if he had been pursuing one of his own thoughts and it suddenly snapped into total clarity. He never let machinery be his master, and his willpower had prevailed yet again.

Beyond the vertigo, beyond anything he could rationalize, there was a strange greeting.


excerpt from my unpublished novel "The Taking of the Eye" (2000),
excerpt published in Expressions newsletter (04/2001).

Friday, December 16, 2005

Keeper of all things

Lok stood guard at the Tower of Ro-zan. No infidels or unworthy fools would get past him to see the Tapestry of the Ages. The secrets of life itself were contained in the subatomic weave of the Tapestry, and the secrets must be protected. Imagine if any fool on the streets could learn the transmutations!

He stood unmoving. He took his role seriously. If the life-signs along the Road tripped his alarms, he would swoop down and blast the area. None would survive.

Over the years, he turned to stone, as his own thread within the Tapestry played out. The world beyond the Valley had changed. The secrets were still there in the Tower, but their language had been lost.

When the infidels finally stormed the Valley in force, they found the Tower empty, except for some cobwebs up near the vaulted ceiling. Those cobwebs had once been so much more. The mob left, infuriated. They burned their witches on the way out.

New spiders began work on a new Tapestry, and the Ages wore on.


fresh from the brain stem 12/16/05
Image drawn/rendered by me, for AlphaDrive 001 (1997)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

into the golden

The Redding House was a marvel of golden hallways, warmly lit, each room showing collections of rarities from around the world. African swords in one room, Babylonian tablets in another. A wondrous private museum, a privilege to behold. Even the nooks along the hallways were full of goodies, from tiny perfume bottles to painted agate slabs behind laserglass, even a collection of hand bells from Santa Barbara's early years.

I was a friend of a friend of a rare coin dealer. I once delivered a package here, on my way through town. Dean Redding gave me a tour, proud of every relic in his vast domain, and he never forgot a face. When I got my invitation to the holiday party, I could hardly believe my eyes. The darn thing was a lovely old-fashioned card with gilded calligraphy, a reminder of how everything was finer, more detailed, more lively in centuries past.

At first the house was full of laughing guests, marveling at the wonders, buttering up the host. But I lost track of time. Every piece looked so damnably real. They had to be real. They almost spoke to me ... and another half hour would pass, and fewer voices could be heard, further away in the depths of the mansion. Soon the place was totally silent, and there was no longer a way out.

I look the glass elevator up, but Dean was nowhere to be found. There were dozens of bedrooms, each one a shining display which had never been used. Barbara, the wise old hostess with her bottomless martini, was also gone. There were only artifacts, pricelss books and comfortable reading rooms. Soft sunny lights came on as I moved from chamber to chamber, they shut off when a room was no longer occupied.

I was totally alone, but happy to be lost in this place. I could spend years here. Lifetimes. Every few rooms there was a wet bar or a little dining room, always well stocked. There was no reason to leave.

After a while, I took the glass elevator down, pausing at the ground floor. The door opened to a lonely silence. Before I could come up with a search plan, the doors eased shut and the elevator went down another level. I had heard folks chatting about wine cellars and a world-class collection of liqueurs. Seems like the party had been days ago, maybe weeks, but I had been surrounded by the warm glows of a million rooms, and had not slept. Maybe the party had retreated to some undiscovered set of rooms, but none of that mattered anymore.

Below ground, there were vaulted galleries stretching far down into the mountain beneath the mansion. That's where the dead things began to appear. There were displays of medeival armor, then funerary art, and actual bodies. From bones to mummies, to robed things from some distant corner of history, to people with their seeping blood still fresh and shiny. It was all part of the display. If you're going to collect things, might as well collect everything. The dead did not bother me. They were like any other artifacts in this wonderful place, except that they had once been alive.

I found a row of small theatres where ghosts and forgotten souls put on passion plays like nothing ever seen on earth. I found myself seated, enraptured, as whole lives flashed themselves before me and were gone. After one lively dead performance, I went to clap my hands and saw that they were trasparent. I was just another body in this bush of ghosts. I thumped the vapor of my chest, proud to be a part of the spectacle.

"Encore! Encore!" I cried to the spirits of the world.

Show me more.


recent dream 12/14/05

Sunday, December 11, 2005

chop chop

slice of the guillotine
  tumbling away
    hard-headed, thinking
one one-thousand
  two one-thousand


Published in Scavenger's NL #218 (4/02).
A cute one - hard to resist.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


I was at the Chargers/Raiders game today, of all places. Jon ended up with an extra ticket, so it was a family day. Of course, he's a Raiders fan, but the good kind. We just wanted to see a good game. Hard to believe how some people get so into it, even at home, a zillion bouncing signal miles from where the action is. It's always an experience, with that many people thundering and screaming, enough energy to level a building, and hardly any room to move their arms. Yeah, let's serve them beer! Chaos all around. I won't talk sports -- that's already been on the news and gone. The people were an outrageous variety. When they all got howling and whistling, my vision started to tremble; if they kept it up, a vertigo would begin ... but it never went too far. (This time.)

I thought the Raiders fans would be the problem, but I was mistaken. Two rows in front of us, some guys were waving the Mexican flag, having a good time. That's fine. Have a good time. It was a bit annoying because when they stood up and waved the thing, we couldn't see the game. A guy behind us yelled, "F--- Mexico, go back home!" And of course, a large chunk of the audience was latino. Put that on your list of this to NOT say in a crowd. So it almost turned into a fistfight. We tried to shuffle aside, out of the way, and watch the game. But they just kept going at it. The flag dudes started shouting about how they're gonna take over this f---ing country and we all better f---ing get used to it. We're trying to look around them, over them, at the GAME.

That was something. Immigration is a tricky issue. It would be nice if folks followed the rules, but we're just too busy to care who does what. In the end most people work too much and mind their own business, and society goes on. If we're looking at a future world full of gangstas and dickheads, then I'm not voting for it. I actually do vote for things, though it hurts my head to try and figure out what the hell the lawyers are saying. Mellow Folks of the World need to unite. We let ourselves get pushed around, and the dickheads often get their way, though we're still okay with it, as long as they agree to go be dickheads somewhere else.

Now, I might be dense, but if you call America "this f---ing country", you've got some kinda f---ing problem. Somewhere a ball is being thrown, and guys are crashing together in a heap. It's all so tiny and so huge, and nothing at all. And someday the sun will swell up and swallow the whole world. Take that, humanity fans! No overtime. Now that I think about it, a big ballgame is not a good place for a sci-fi thinkaholic to be. But they're a spectacle for one and all.

In this case, it was just a bunch of guys who seemed pretty decent on their own, getting infected by the mob. Giving into the mob is a tangible line, there's cheering, there's hootin' & hollerin', and then there's the guy with the big plastic lightning bolt head shaking his thunderbolt at the audience - I know he's inside the helmet screaming with his eyes ready to pop out...

At one point I was thinking how antiquated the cheerleaders were. But they're kinda cute to have around. Yeah, yeah. Then my sci-fi brain kicked in and thought, hey, you know, if they were 24 feet tall then everyone could see what they wanted to see. But us reasonable guys would be looking around the boobs, trying to see the GAME.

Then, crammed on the trolley with armpits in my face and nothing to hold onto, I jammed my hand against the ceiling like Spiderman to avoid falling into people when we went around corners. Someone asked if there was a raygun that could shrink us down till we got where we wanted to go. How odd that would be. But hell, they'd just squash us into a 3-foot-long bus powered by hamsters, while all the big people drive Hummers.

Which reminds me (journals don't have to be linear): On the trolley ride to the stadium, we spent a few minutes stopped at one station for no reason, and there we were, a hundred armpit buddies getting restless. Jon & I were talking about mass transit a little earlier, so now I pointed out, "We've got the MASS, now we just need the TRANSIT."

Thanks, Jon. Was a fun trip.

dreams from 93

Had a dream that there was a submarine at the pier. I climbed
aboard -- always wanted to see the insides of one of those
claustrophobic things! -- and the crew were all people I knew,
except that I didn't recognize any of them. Their crew uniform
was a tattered t-shirt with a big "We are the Enemy" logo on the
It was all downhill from there.

Had a dream that I was in some kind of accident, and a steel
rod went through me. It was about an inch in diameter. It went
in just below my ribcage, and came out just under my hip (i.e. the
butt area). The doctors couldn't figure out why I was still
alive, but since I had no insurance, they wouldn't take out the
rod: they just sawed it down a bit and let me go.
The dream went on for hours, while I learned to walk with this
thing sticking out. Sleeping was probably the worst time, because
I kept stretching and tearing and bleeding. No matter how I
tried, I could not walk naturally: I had a stiff, bent-over gait
which kept me staring at the ground all the time.
Toward the end, I learned to deal with it. I ended up playing
basketball with some guys on a dirty street corner, but it tore up
my insides, and I bled to death.

-- from my journal 6/3/93

Gummy, Velveeta, Mr. Gates

I think we need more Gummy food. We have the technology to Gummy just about anything. I want a Gummy Eiffel Tower or Gummy Ghostbusters or Gummy Cheap Toupee. Hmm. Maybe not.

This was a brain-damage day when it comes to pieces of songs occupying my head. First, there was "Nikita" by Elton John, except the in-head version used "Velveeta" instead. "Velveeta, you'll never know ..." I don't know if this was an actual Weird Al song or just scrambled neuron mash. The other song of the day started (believe it or not!) "You're a mean one, Mr. Gates ..." One of the spoken lines was something like, "You're a low-density 5 1/4-inch floppy disk with bad sectors galore."

--- from my journal 1/22/99

Thursday, December 01, 2005

phonebook freaks

Those silly phonebook names
from Amy Admire
to Ziggy Zykowski --
you flip through looking
for a gritty name
for your private eye,
but all you find are freaks
and comic relief.

Then you can't find the number
of that wacky writer
who gave you the idea
in the first place.

Oh well, back to lonely
Max Something-or-Other --
maybe he'll tell you
his real name if you
listen hard enough.


accepted by San Diego Writers Monthly (2002).
A gag about naming fictional characters. Some say to look in the phone book, but there are some weirder-than-fiction names in there!

stress diet

zero the perfect weight, she diets and frets and dances her days in denial, anxiety;
from size eleven down to the head of a pin; a paradox:
an anemic angel calling out for the glory day when she turns sideways & is never seen again.


published in "KatBox #8: Setting Worlds" broadside by s.c.virtes