Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The lecture on flatulence

Okay. Dreams can take us to funky places. I don't mind the nightmares, but sometimes there are all-out comedy moments there, too. Some of my favorites come from the body trying to tell me something.

For me, when I have to take a leak, my dreams fill up with mysterious tons of water. Elevators full, airplanes full, waterfalls in the desk drawer, suddenly pulled out of a car and dropped into a river. Sometimes they seem to go on for hours, drenching wet, until we finally get the message.

Here was a funny twist on this phenomenon. I woke up for a moment, had a spot of gas, rolled over, and my dream changed from something on a train to:

Boring lecture hall. Emotionless professor who looked like a character from a Monopoly game card, going on and on:

"Some primitive cultures would say a wish when they felt a fart coming on. And then they would blow extra hard to try and get the message up to Grandfather. I'm not sure these people really expected an answer, other than to be hit with whatever their wives had in their hands at the time. But the women would do the same thing in their secret huts, reciting cryptic spells and then blowing hard while their sisters beat drums to cover up the audio evidence. They could walk outside after a degassing ritual and actually appear innocent of the whole ordeal. The men didn't want to know what went on in those huts, I assure you. According to Al Gore, this was the beginning of the end of the ozone layer."

And there you have it. Dare I say it? My brain fart of the week.

Happy feet, sad reminder

We went to see "Happy Feet" last week. Figured it would just be goofy, probably some top-tapping in there. I was good to see a film that wants to entertain. There were serious bits, and the expected ecological theme later on. What was odd was that they put so much work into the graphics. If you can sit through the orca scene or the blizzard scene, or the chase scenes without at least thinking "Wow," I recommend checking your vital signs. Singing penguins with attitude? They could have been just funny sketches if that's all they were going for.

Oddly, one of the big walruses was voiced by Steve Irwin. I wonder if this is the last piece of new work he did? What a guy. I still miss him, but it's not the same when watching the Croc Hunter just makes me feel bad, now that he's gone. And where does that feeling come from? It's not like we knew the guy, but yeah, he took us places and showed us a good time. It's a little odd knowing that he's not out in the wild somewhere, cooking up a new adventure.

Still, I can conjure those Happy Feet when I need them, and mourning does go more quickly for these imaginary friends.

Friday, December 15, 2006

game madness

The past few months, I have been trying to do something other than fiction. But I find that nonfiction just bugs me -- I feel like whatever I'm saying is readily available elsewhere. It's an odd sort of dissatisfaction.

So I've been going for the middle ground: trying (again) to do some writing for the gaming markets. But the typical role playing game has so many rules, and I've finally come to the conclusion that there isn't a system I'd actually want to run a game in. Every system has some crazy problem, either too much detail or not enough, so I'm stuck again. The open calls for writers almost always require buying some new book, even though I already have a zillion of them, and they're not cheap. Likewise, a guy would have to be insane to try and introduce a new system at this point in time. A gaming book needs about a thousand killer illustrations before anyone will look at it.

I did send a bunch of work in to a project using the Savage Worlds ruleset, but the project itself seems to have fizzled.

It seems like it would take a computer to keep track of all the tiny little rules now. But when I start to sketch out code, it grinds up against needing thousands of little graphics ... or being a text-based adventure thing, which is old, old, old. Personally, I'd like an online game that allows a huge range of actions, instead of ones that are all pretty but only let you fight.

So, my endless quest continues. Madness for the holidays.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

an odd kind of blowout sale

The local Humane Society was having a fundraising craft fair this weekend, and we had a table. It was an outdoor thing. We wrestled to get the canopy and tables set up on Saturday, and there were some gusty winds. Someone's whole canopy blew over and knocked an old lady down, then the society sent out volunteers with huge bags of dog food to use as sandbags to keep us from blowing away. We had a whiteboard to write a sales blurb on, and drew a blank at first, but then we realized it was an honest old-fashioned BLOWOUT SALE!

There was a funny mellow Persian cat in a chair at one of the tables. When whole displays were blowing down and things were breaking, it barely looked around to see what the fuss was about. Cute. Where do people find these mellow cats? Ours bounce off the walls for no reason at all. Forget about taking them anywhere.

We got out for a horse & carriage ride down on Grand Avenue saturday night. When the horses came around each time, they brought a strong odor with them. It took a while for it to register. It smelled like Iowa! When the guy asked which carriage we wanted to ride in, I had to shrug. "Don't care. They both smell like Iowa." Was a nice little community thing, and shops were open, families walking around. Finally some life in our little downtown. The place was like a ghost town 5 years ago.

Sunday morning 8:30am, there was about a 40 mph sustained wind with some nasty gusts, and nobody even tried to setup their stuff. In fact a few people had (duh) left their displays up overnight, and they blew away or got trashed. Not too smart. So we gave up & went home, watched some football, went back over there around 11am and it was still windy. But we got a little spot against the side of the building, and the wind went around us. Seemed like a good spot. Until we realized we were next to the raffle table, and people thought our stuff was part of the raffle -- but once we made a gap it went okay.

Not many customers. The weather probably kept the wimps away. But the Humane Society did raise some money, and people were going in and out adopting animals all day, so it worked out good in the end.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

tangled up in goo

If there's one thing nobody wants a pop quiz in, it's gymnastics. So when the professor started singling people out and making them do athletic moves on the spur of the moment, I tried to sink into the floor. When it was my turn, I instinctively went into defensive mode and showed everyone how to wield a quarterstaff and a broadsword, using the broom handle by the door. Still, the guy complained it wasn't technically "gymnastics." Again, defensive: "Bite me, this isn't a gymnastics class. It's physics."

To which the other students gasped. They were all wearing tights, and what I had taken for the science lecture hall was, in fact, a gymnasium. But what was the proper defense for being in the wrong reality?

The building shook, the ground trembled and split open. The desks and stupefied students tumbled down through the crack one column at a time. Then there was no solid earth beneath me, either. It was about eight feet down into a stream of boiling goo. It wasn't "hot" boiling, just agitated. We watched the professor fail to make any athletic moves and within a minute or so only his hand was sticking out. Another crack opened and drained the goo away. Firemen came to rescue us, even though none of us was one fire.

Just one of those days in imaginary college.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

two comedy shorts on YouTube

Here's a change of pace ...

I just posted two of our older short films on YouTube.

Check out
the Siberians
Psyched out

These two are quirky comedies. Enjoy!

Monday, November 13, 2006

talk is cheap

Communicating is a lost art. Just sit there and hear the words pouring out of people's mouths sometimes. It's a source of endless wonder. Now, try to identify the statements one by one, actually count the claims being made. Amazing, huh?

Here's one I heard recently: "The Knights Templar came to Canada in the 1640's and brought the Holy Grail with them -- it's buried in an old-style rock tomb in Seabury. I saw it on the Discovery Channel."

Seems simple enough, right? Believe it?

In fact, this statement claims ALL of the following:

1. A group named the Knights Templar once existed (okay)
2. The Knights Templar were still around in the 1640's
3. They came to Canada in the 1640's
4. The Holy Grail exists in some form.
5. They once had the Holy Grail
6. They still had the Holy Grail in the 1640's
7. They brought it with them
8. A town named Seabury exists somewhere in Canada (probably on the east coast)
9. There are "old-style rock tombs" (whatever those are) near Seabury.
10. The Grail is buried in such a tomb.
11. The TV show actually exists (instead of being used as a fake attribution)
12. The TV show was stating facts and not just perpetuating a fiction.

The problem with this example is that each statement is hard to prove. Instead of setting out a string of facts, it's just a lot of guesses. If any one guess should fail, the whole argument must be dismissed as false. You can look up Seabury easily, and search the web for tombs of interest in the area -- but you need to ignore any pages which tell the same story, because repeating a story does not make it true. Look for supporting stories, additional facts and clues, and then keep looking.

One trick with language is that it's easy to make big sentences. Lots of words must have lots of meaning, right? When we speak to one another, it's easy to get distracted or lose our train of thought, or have ideas come out in the wrong order. But the overall quality of information we hear is actually fairly low.

Sadly, even when we read written "facts", we often get caught up in the flow and fail to apply the proper analysis, though the statements are right in front of our faces. Practice breaking down some of the things you hear into logical components. If our goal in communicating was to share facts, this would be a skill everyone had. But in fact, most conversation fills a social need, and the "truth" of the words is not the focus at all.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

dark road and missing time

Coming home from a Halloween Party in Long Beach, it was clear driving for the first 50 miles or so. Then the world got moody. There was a serious marine layer, with waves of clouds passing in front of the yellowish half moon. Looked like smoke at first, but it went on for too many miles. We stopped at a rest area to switch drivers, and there was the moon, low over the Pacific ocean, with it's reflection shimmering off into the distance on the sea that never ends.

We hit highway 78 and it was a wall of brake lights, then twenty minutes of merging lanes and selfish people not giving an inch of room, even though cooperation would actually SAVE time. Lost the two left lanes. The stink of flares. Bored highway patrol officers waving us over. We must look like an endless stream of idiots to them, but we didn't have the luxury of knowing what was going on. The whole highway was closed, and we were forced to exit. We got a glimpse of some line of emergency lights under one of the bridges, cutting across all lanes. Probably a ghost or two sitting on the median that night.

So we took back roads home, and there was a wall of fog covering San Marcos, waves of clouds scraping the ground, looking for souls to consume ...

... if only we could remember the spirit of Halloween, not just buy buy buy all the crap we can get. And not plastic masks and cheap scares? How about breathing some of the old spirit and realizing that we're powerless fleas on the skin of the earth, and there are secrets all around us?

I don't know. Maybe the magic is truly gone. The cure for cancer is probably waiting in plain sight, in some kind of crab grass that we never pay any attention to, because we're only looking for the big thrill of the moment.

Friday, October 20, 2006

boils, bugs, bird

A rare "dream inside a dream" event: We found ourselves in an upscale senior center on another planet. I couldn't sleep, because I kept dreaming that I had a horrible rash and all my skin was falling off. Not in the red, soupy radiation-sickness way, no -- that would be too normal. Instead, it started as white spots, which became white rings, then turned into hard cake frosting and flaked off. So I'd wake up screaming, with that alien world beyond the window. So they'd drug me back to sleep. My dream-dreaming mind got revenge by giving everyone the cake frosting boils one time, but then I woke up and there was nobody left on the planet to get drugs from.

So I woke up and walked around the dark house a bit, to clear my head.

Fell asleep, and dreamed that I was helping a park ranger turn an abandoned gas station into a tourist info house. It was in a rocky place, with a small town like Quartzite visible in the distance, and the ground had just as many antique bottlecaps as pebbles. I knew something was up when she handed me a six-foot pole before we went inside. The place was overrun with giant bugs. There was a knee-high praying mantis guarding the garden, chasing mice under the house. Inside, it looked like a Halloween spiderweb store, except that the webs were real, the spiders were chattering and covered with a pink jelly of baby spiders. After a while, leeches started appearing out of thin air, and that was it for me. I almost ran away, but ended up chasing a 12-pack-sized grasshopper across the desert.

Carmen woke me up then, because there was a bird in the house, and the cats were going nuts trying to kill it. So she herded the carnivores into the sun room, and I chased the bird as it bounced and flitted all over the house. Finally, I threw a washcloth on it and it calmed down. It weighed about half an ounce, was about three inches long, and had a nectar beak. Don't know why critters can't tell when we're trying to help them...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

the 6-run homer

There was baseball on all the big screens. Fermius said he once hit a triple and knocked in three runs at a company softball game. But the liar was also at pizza that night...

"Nyeah, I once knocked in SIX runs. Yeah, six. You ask how? It was Canadian rules baseball. They've got six bases, a hexagon, yeah. But the exchange rate killed it off. It got to where those six Canadian bases were only worth four American bases, see? So they started laying off shortstops. You know, shortstops ain't necessarily short. They used to be regular joes, all shapes and sizes. And when the shortstop's over six foot three, you don't call 'em Shorty, you call 'em Sir! Yeah, those were the days ... a guy could drive in six runs, fair and square."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Say Jeez!

I just don't like photographs with people in them. Of all the things in the world to take pictures of, why focus on people? I mean, people are everywhere, swarming in huge numbers, getting on each other's nerves ...

What about taking pictures of people to remember them by? You will remember the important ones, and others will fade away. Photos won't change that.

What about taking pictures of ourselves with famous people? Those are the worst. Why do we idolize people for their success? How annoying it must be to have strangers come up to you and want their pictures taken with you. Does that make them better? Is the fame supposed to rub off? I often see pictures of people with Mel Gibson or Stephen King or whoever, and the people are always so happy, the celebrities either bored or with a big false smile. Same with autographs. When I run into someone well known, my only instinct is to thank them for all their work, or their performances. I don't need to pretend that I can take a piece of them home with me, or ch-ching some scrap of paper for cash.

Okay ... historical moments make good photos. And we can't tell if a moment is historical until after we're dead (j/k). And little moments may be a part of our personal history. But give me something other than "Bob and Jo" and "Bob and Jo with baby". I'll take stars and mountains and distant lands -- places I can escape to. So many of the photos online are the equivalent of the floor of a taxicab.

Okay, hold it right there and say "Jeez!"

Sunday, September 17, 2006

offbeat places

From a simple trip through noplace special ...

There was an Odd Lots next to a pawn shop. So, I guess people can pawn their beloved junk, it goes through a hole in the wall and you can buy it back at a big discount right next door?

There was a place called Crazyburger. Maybe not such a great choice of names now, with potential Mad Cow Disease out there. I'll have the crazy special with extra meningitis?

We passed a friendly looking place: the Angel Animal Hospital. Now, what kind of smart-ass things could anyone possibly come up with for this harmless name? Surely, nothing comes to mind. Having just seen Criss Angel walk through a plate glass window last week, here goes ... the Criss Angel Animal Hospital. He can astound your pets, make them chase ghosts and do card tricks, then levitate them home happy. And when he tells them to SIT, they'll sit for 36 hours on a giant pedestal in the middle of New York City.

Later in the day, before walking into a place called Penny Lane, I swore I heard a voice say this:

"His phone went dead. Or, maybe his brain went dead and his phone just said, 'No signal!'"

Oh yeah, the voice was me (again).

Brains at work. Hardhats heartily recommended.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

writing news Sep 2006

Time flies, summer is gone, days are getting shorter but still rather toasty outside ... here's my latest writing news.

Naturally, if you don't want to receive these occasional newsletters, just email me and I'll take you off my list.

=====> BOOKS:

New story collection ("Blank Spaces & other dangers") now available from
Rage Machine Books. You can grab a copy here:
or I'll send you a signed one for $14 plus $2.50 shipping, just email me.

I still have a few copies of "Afterlife 9" available for $5 postpaid in the USA.

Poetry chapbook "Jane Doe Discovered" coming in 2007 from


I have had works in Scifaikuest, Bondage, and Star*Line recently. I recently judged a poetry contest at, limerick contests at, and finished editing a short book of limericks for

I was a guest at Leprecon (Phoenix) in May.

I went up to Worldcon in Anaheim in August where I got to hear Ray Bradbury do a quick talk -- always inspiring. I got to say hi (again) to Stan Schmidt of Analog, and keep send him weird, offbeat stories, hoping for the best.

I will be a guest at ConJecture in San Diego at the end of September. Looks like I will have to skip Milehicon in Denver again this year -- these trips get expensive.

Recent book cover art and/or design:
- a trilogy by Christopher Sloan for RageMachine Books
- Ecotastrophe anthology (SamsDot)
- Wondrous Web Worlds 6 (the "Best of 2005" collection for SamsDot)

Flash: "Radio Disconnect" recently appeared in FlashShot

=====> NEW SALES:

Two articles about poetry will be appearing in Star*Line.

Flash fiction "Harrod runs his mouth" and "Other monsters" to appear in FlashShot

Audio story "Lost at Sea House" to appear in the Late Late Show (web)

Story "Coral Morning Blue" accepted by 5th Story Review

Poems accepted by Illumen, Diagram, Amaze, Appalling Limericks, Esperance, Between Kisses

Audio poems to appear on virtual poetry slam

Audio drama serial "Nightbeat 2,3,4" in production at PhillipsFilms

=====> MY SITES:

My active blogs:
"writer's life" blog ...
Unfuture Chronicle ...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

surreal estate

The rate at which we kill is alarming. Homeowners try to cash in, make the most they can on the insane inflation, kill all their bushes and plant whatever they think will get them the best offer, then the new owners come in and kill all that stuff and plant what THEY want to see. Then not leaving enough time for irrigation, all those plants suffer and die, or maybe the guy gets a new girlfriend who wants camellias out front, so all the jade plants have to die ...

Trees which try to shelter us, shade us, keep us comfortable -- they get hacked down so we can have a better view of the beach instead. Then those people complain about being hot all the time.

A strange diversiona few months ago, I was looking at real estate in Alberta. Sure the houses were affordable but that usually menas there are no jobs in the area. How odd to see whole pages of listings, photo after photo of houses buried in snow. Just one white lump after another with only the descriptions to tell them apart. Is that really where I want to be?

That made me think about the Moon. Thinking, if we could figure out how to make lunar adobe without choking on the dust, how would that play out? I wonder about the effect on property values if there's no atmosphere, if you step outside and your head just explodes. Will these lots also sell for a quarter million dollars per acre someday? Will the insanity go on forever?

Friday, August 25, 2006

audio oddities

I just posted three odd audio pieces I thought you might enjoy ...

The Killer Sandwich (funny flash fiction)

Overshadowed (poem)

Moondust (wild sci-fi story)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

train escape & astro accident

From a two-dream night ...

First we were running through a forest, skipping down overgrown slopes, trying to get away from the wizards who were chasing us. They were wimps, but they could set our clothes on fire from a few hundred feet away, so we didn't want them getting too close. The woods ended at a gorge, crossed only by a narrow railway bridge. We heard the ancient locomotive huffing closer, then leapt out and caught the caboose railing as it rounded a sharp turn. The antique train took us across the gorge and away, and we knew our foes would never pick up the trail.

I don't know what we did to upset them. Apparently just visiting their secretive town was enough to get chased off and set aflame. Anyway, we enjoyed the short train ride, through a tunnel, and dodging the conductor who expected riders to have tickets. Security chased us around the terminal, but we caught another train through some rocky foothills and ended up at a roadside attraction in Arizona. Apparently, we'd parked our cars here about a week ago, got on the little cheezy wild west train ride, and somehow found another dimension ...


I was filming a documentary about an astronomer from about 1910, who built an observatory on the roof of his old Victorian house, only to have the roof collapse under the weight and kill his whole family. Only a daughter survived, and the granddaughter still owned the house, now an old lady with the sad story to tell. I found a time capsule beneath a flagstone by the back porch, and it had old photos of obscure scientists, including the great Bernard Apocalypse or Cambridge.

Something about the photos and the man's old notes -- so many nights spent, so many numbers captured, looking for meaning in an infinitely vast universe.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

eye on the hill

There's a jewel in the eye of the thing on the hill. It
drips sweat and bleeds sin. It lies in the hole, waiting for
night. It suffers thru midday, but the children didn't know. A
boy and a girl walked up the hill, the pail in his hand clunking
along. He cranked up the bucket from within the hole, but no
wanter came up. Instead came a huge eye which glared at him from
the bucket. Then followed a sticky limb from below which swatted
him away, and something flowed over the lip of the hole and
became a man. This man lashed tentacles about the girl and cast
the boy from the hill. His screams were caught up in the air,
muted, repeated, then digested as his head hit a rock below. The
girl screamed, but the man took her and forced her down. Jill
went tumbling after.


a dream found in a journal dated 10/17/1983

Monday, August 07, 2006

So you want to be a stuporhero?

I never really got into superheroes. Or supervillains. That whole hidden identity thing, and then having to put on the silly spandex costumes before doing battle. What kind of freakish mythology is that anyway?

I have no problem with mutant powers. In fact, they could be a lot of fun, when they're not a complete curse. So the X-Men were a bit more realistic, except that they turn funny colors or dress in cool tailored leather to show the world how different they are, while trying not to be different. Yes, they'd probably be hunted down by the silent majority if they ever got too public.

Right now, Smallville has is doing a fine job of showing life as a young superhero. In fact, it's more effective for me if you don't know who has powers. Well acted, too.

Then there's "So You Want to be a Superhero", which I promised I wasn't going to watch one minute of. But it's cute, a bit satirical, and as Fermius said, Stan Lee really is a legend to those people, and they really do appear crushed when they let him down. But I don't want to be a superhero, and those folks are mostly just posers, and I can't believe one of those bums is going to get a saturday night movie of their own.

So we have a media engine that creates celebrities, and a mass audience in a stupor waiting to be told what to think, who spend more time watching other people's lives than living their own -- I think this is the point in history where the only thing that can save us are a bunch of bright blue mutants. But nobody wants to step up and drink the toxic goo, or zap themselves with gamma rays, because 99.999% of the time it kills them.

So Big Brother kicks our asses, and the mythos endures.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Crossed on Malta

We were vacationing in Malta, tracking along rugged coasts and through ancient weathered ruins. There were jagged black cliffs dotted with old pottery shards. At one spot there was a melted trickle from a Roman-era lead mine, but the sky grew dark and I was hit with lightning.

We went to a salt pan, where fingers of black primeval stones poked up from an unknown civilization. But the sky grew dark and lightning chased us away.

There were temples from the dawn of time, sandy stones baking in the centuries; traces of artwork, and the heads of bulls looking blankly down over altars that hadn't seen action in ages. Darkness fell and the electrical storm blocked our way.

There was a sign boasting about the oldest known human habitation, but when we got there it was just a crack between two slabs of granite, filled with water and covered with a tarp. The sky grew dark and I was jolted again.

Private planes became whooping cranes. Cars turned to turtles. People became savage things, splitting skulls with heavy rocks. In the end there were only stones, studded with the fossils of things to come.


A dream from sometime this week. I've never been to Malta, but it's on my list of things to do. Just enjoy the vision. The lightning storms seemed to be a carryover from a vacation Fermius just took. They became a sort of politically correct guardian -- any time I looked at something that might give insight into history, it chased me off.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bog Man

Bog Man
by s.c.virtes

Maybe this story was never told.

Of how it began and how it developed,
I suspect you know naught.

The ending which might have shocked generations
you cannot reconstruct from the brain tissue
you stole from our bog, from my head.

How you pulled me from my days of rest
and proved that I was one of you,
this story you proudly
but mistakenly tell.

But the true story, the one my father told me,
I told it to my flesh which
delivered it to the earth
from which all stories begin.

But the more you scrape my bones
the more I hesitate and wonder
if I was ever told at all.


Written 11/20/86, just found in an old notebook & revised 7/21/06.
A story version of this was written but never published.

least exciting medical mystery ever

I have to admit, I enjoy watching medical mystery shows. The fictional ones are okay, but the factual ones keep showing that the real world is stranger than we can make up easily. Things like "Mystery Diagnosis" or "Medical Incredible", where people may have all their skin fall off or their eyeballs explode, or get crushed by elephants and survive.

It's partly research -- what are the limits of the human body? And partly fascination or a grim curiosity. But there's a big relief factor. If you think you had a bad day, here's a guy whose lower legs are on backwards, or whatever. It's encouraging to know that these things can be survived and overcome.

Trouble is, in real life, I have a bit of a medical mystery. Dizzy spells, and if I spend too much time around people, I can end up fainting. Seems like it's mostly acid reflux; just enough of it at times to make me nauseous, and then if I don't pay attention to the little symptoms they can turn ugly. But I've given up soda and caffeine and tomatoes and some other things; no snacking 2 hours before bed (it's worst at night and in the morning), allow extra time to get up and chug water in the morning. Other things. Odds are, some diet will keep it under control.

But when I do go to a doctor they just get everything all confused. Diabetes? Sleep disorder? Liver problem? Thyroid? I had some extensive blood work last week, part of a physical. The results came back. Everything normal except that my bad cholesterol is good and my good cholesterol is bad. Yeah, that solves it. I just need to drink one small fish every day ...

Frankly, this is the least exciting medical mystery ever. They write weird shit in our charts and then we have a hard time getting insurance to pay for them to write more weird shit in our charts. It's probably nothing big in the end, although I should be at Comic-Con this week but I'm worried that I'll crash just waiting in line for those three hours to get inside.

Monday, July 17, 2006

free world collapsing

I regularly hear wild arguments that all art should be free. It's obviously consumers talking here. Easy for them to say! How's that supposed to work, exactly? Who is going to write books 20 years from now if there's no way to make money doing so?

Aside from being purely selfish, some of this comes from common delusions about how writing (or other arts) actually work, from a business standpoint. Maybe they think all writers are greedy bastards who make millions of dollars by overcharging for their work. Then I'd agree that some things could change. The few successful artists get all the media coverage, painting a completely reversed image of what it's really like. The vast majority of artists are struggling to make ends meet, just hoping to be seen among the glut of products cranked out every day. And if they succeed in getting a book deal or distribution deal, they end up getting just a small percentage, while publishers set the prices and control everything.

If anything, it would be fair to ask that creators get a bigger cut of the money earned by their work, and all the middlemen settle for less ... but I know that's unrealistic, because it's an industry, many roles interlocked into a beast that just barely functions.

If all art was free, then an appalling gloom would set in. We'd never get away from our crap jobs. We'll never be able to do what we love to do full time. We'll always be somebody's slaves. There will be no hope of success anymore.

But I suspect these rabid consumers wouldn't care. There's plenty of stuff already written. Why bother creating any more? You may think that "anyone can do it", but you'd be surprised ... anyone can make a half-assed attempt at creating art. But is that what we should set our sights on?

Artists should be free to do their best, and consumers are free to choose what they will or will not buy. But this arrogant grabby attitude of people wanting work handed to them for free ... no. Maybe they should work a few weeks at their regular jobs without a paycheck and see what that's like. Maybe their jobs are the ones with no value in the end.

Monday, July 10, 2006

a real telescope eye

I'm an amateur astronomer who has never been able to afford a telescope. I have many other ironic failures to share, but let's stick to this one. Luckily, there's a boom in astronomy right now, with a mind-boggling array of surveys and catalogs and tools available online. In most other ways, the 21st century has been lame so far. According to the sci-fi classics, we oughta be much further along than we are, but the world continues to be 99% dull, and hardly anything seems to change. The internet itself is almost entirely drivel, but there are some astronomical gems if you know where to look.

And don't forget to look away from time to time ...

This weekend I was up at the 60" telescope on Palomar Mountain. An unexpected invitation and twisty road trip into darkness. Okay, if it was dark, the astronomers would have been too busy to see us, but the full moon was out, the deer were lurking, and there we went.

Comically, since the real astronomers never actually look through the scope with their eyes, when there's a tour they only have a really, really old eyepiece to slap on there. Looking through this telescope is like having a volkswagen suspended over your head, but looking through the tailpipe you can see millions of light years away. That, and zero emissions. And those precious moments where you feel you can touch the universe in some way. A vehicle of sorts after all.

Of course, there was a little control room full of computers. Every time they opened the door, this insane blue glow came pouring out. No wonder we can't find all that dark matter -- our eyes have become accustomed to the radiation.

A very interesting trip. Including the discovery that there is more than one road up on that mountain, and the other one doesn't go anywhere. A brief shift in reality, and then we were gone.

Thanks, Mike.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Shatner rules & Earth escapes destruction

I have to say, I enjoy watching William Shatner, no matter what he's doing. He could be doing some weird "Worst Songs of the 80's" show on VH-1, or narrating something about comets, or trying to sell me a hotel room. heck, there was even a 2-hour special recently called "How William Shatner Changed the World." He's older now, but seems to enjoy himself so much more. Sometimes he's lampooning his old characters or just hamming it up. I don't care. He's friendly and entertaining.

And then there's Denny Crane, his trigger-happy larger-than-life character on "Boston Legal". He could just walk through a plate glass window at any moment. You never know with him. Brooding, strange, flamboyant, dangerous. We can't take our eyes off him. Like it or not, he can perform.

Just now I had to go outside and look up. It was cloudy (again) but it was sobering to think that an asteroid was zipping past the earth at that very moment -- a near miss this time around. Naturally, the silent event was narrated by Mr. Shatner. "Tumbling through ... the cold depths of space ... an insignificant rock hurtles towards a blue ... planet."

It just wouldn't have been the same without him.

Friday, June 30, 2006

stoopid human, clever animals

First, some entertaining animal news ...

A cat chases a bear up a tree?
See photo here

A new snake was discovered in Borneo that can change colors like a chameleon.
Read it here

Thanks to my dad and National Geographic for those items.

Now for the stoopid human ...

It's funny how our brains can be temporarily shut off, or paying no attention to what our hands our doing. I was smashing open a coconut last night. Normally a hammer does the trick and a flat screwdriver it the optimum tool from getting the meat off the husk. Except when you slip and ram the screwdriver between two fingers and leave a little hole that stays open for a few seconds before figuring out, "Oh yeah, I should be bleeding now."

I'm pretty careful about always cutting away from my body with sharp things. It's the blunt ones you gotta watch out for. I had a funny slip last year which left the entire blade of an x-acto knife in the webbing of my thumb -- luckily that was such a perfect cut it went away like nothing had happened. Just felt neat, and I had a recording session right afterwards where I was flipping dials and pushing sliders while trying hard not to move my hand at all.

Make sure you tie up the loose ends at the end of any story.

During lunch we saw an episode of Andromeda where Dylan was playing with a kitten in one scene, then the ship started throwing people around in classic Rodenberry style, and the episode ended 40 minutes later with no hint about where the cat ended up.

And on Ripley's, one of those stories about a guy driving down a country road and ending up with four feet of rebar sticking out of his skull. Except that there were no bridges or trees or anything -- his medical story was great, but I wanna know where the projectile came from!

Now to leave a loose end of my own ...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

around the block

There's a place in town where the propane trucks drive on the wrong side of the road. Witnessed 3 times now. Near a very flammable lumber yard.

Was walking around the block, pretending to be fit, and some neighbors were sitting out front of their house with a barbecue going ... except that it smelled like Band-aids.

Last night just before 9 there was a luminous blob of goo in the sky. Another launch from Vandenberg, about 150 miles north of here. Some kind of spy satellite. Yay, the world needs more spying.

Tonight we found someone's wallet, a big fat shiny thing strangely devoid of cash and credit cards. Found some contact info, called her, she's already making it a pain in the ass to return the thing to her. then she'll probably accuse us of stealing her money. I wonder if it's worth it trying to help folks anymore.

I got $10 for filling out an interminable survey about how biased the news media appears to be. Oddly, people trust the internet more, even though any given page is just as likely to be complete fiction. And now, people trust blogs more than the internet in general (recent blurb in Science magazine). Is it because blogs are more personal, and people never lie or make shit up when they're speaking to you in confidence? Apparently there are about 11 million blogs now, with a new blog created every second. Talk about hopping on the bandwagon. At what point does copying everyone else become the height of lameness? Digital sheep. Baaaa.

Unfuture chronicle?

Well, the blog went and mutated on me. I don't spend as much time pondering the future, since I can barely keep up with the present day. And much of the present day is distractingly weird and unbelievable, so that's where the flow is.

In a way, it's about weird viewpoints. And not the kind of "viewpoint" you see on the news, which is just people stuck with their own opinions of things. I'm talking about "viewpoint" in terms of where you put your mental camera and look at things. Looking down from the ceiling is a fresh viewpoint, especially if there's a ceiling fan.

What is "weird"? All we can really say about it is ... it's a weird word. After all, there's that pesky rule:

"'I' before 'E' except after 'C'."

Anyone remember the second part?

"Unless pronounced like 'A' as in 'neighbor' or 'weigh'."

I don't remember if there's a third part. If not, it should say,

"Except of course for 'weird', which is just plain 'weird'."

And that's how it is. I don't spend all day trying to be weird. I just sit here open to possibilities, and I don't discard them just because they're a little bit odd.

Finally, I've been staying on the light side. Silly bits. Since I'm sick to death of hearing about crime, I've nixed the "Underworld" part of the blog. It's now my personal "Unfuture Chronicle".

"Meet the new boss ... same as the old boss." (love that song!)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Weirds of wisdom

Things overheard or almost said out loud recently ...

You can't do #2 on a golf course.

Did his business card actually say, "Strawberry Orgasm Engineer"?

The problem with burning your trash, if it's full of cat poo, is that the nearest teenagers will complain that it smells like barf.

The castle was old, dark, and backlit in an ominous way, with three kinds of celery growing in a small patch right out front by the plastic gnome.

Meet Pus Bucket, the rather mean ogre.

I wouldn't say his hair is greasy, but the only thing missing are the croutons. (Okay - this was from Kolchak, the Night Stalker. He had some great sarcastic zingers, didn't he?)

Quit staring at those girls, they're nothing but trouble. Here's a paper towel already ... go wash behind your ears.

I think back to a lunchroom at a big company in Iowa ... everyone was complaining that if the corn doesn't grow fast enough, their marijuana plants could be seen from a mile away.

And the freakish PHP error of the year:
Parse error: parse error, unexpected T_PAAMAYIM_NEKUDOTAYIM on line 0 of ...

Yeah, that's what life is like right now.

Gerald Ford.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

s'not funny already

We were driving home from somewhere odd. About four hours out of Paducah, we saw a curious sign at the side of the road. "World's Largest Booger - next exit." Now, who could resist that?

It turned out to be a monstrous thing in a glass case at the back of a convenience store. It even showed signs of intelligence -- when the caretaker pulled out a plastic separator, the thing would navigate through a small wooden maze and then the man would reward it with a few sprinkles from a cardboard tin labeled "POLLEN".

There was a donation bucket by the door. The guy asked us each to spit into the bucket as we leave. It was once of those things you probably shouldn't ask about, but I asked anyway. The guy said that once the bucket was filled, he'd tip it over, and the contents would shamble off into the wilderness and later run for Congress.


dreams are funny. you just have to let them do their thing.

comically, I was coming down with a cold that night. and the maze thing was a weird anecdote I'd read about years before, showing that slime molds can navigate small wooden mazes looking for food. my brain is apparently a crock pot just waiting for spuds.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

gaming strangeness

Some comic moments from a game session with Fermius ...

Beware of the vorpal doberman.

Any time a bad guy starts to lecture, just hit 'em with the nearest table.

A sorceror optimist: "I keep dying and coming back -- life is good."

Jeff's vampiric goat of doom.

New spell: Transmute rock to puppies.

And ...

According to U.S. postal regulations, the only way to ship an eldritch horror is in a stone tube with magical seals.

(who says these games aren't creative?)

Monday, May 22, 2006


If you've ever driven through the Mojave or Arizona Desert at night, you know there are some windy places. Sand blows across the road, cars drive in crooked lines, things fly by that you can't focus on. And there are usually piles of tumbleweeds at the side of the highway. Every now and then the tumblers all leap out as a group -- yaaaaaaaah!

In fact, the tumbleweeds hunt in packs and pick off the weakest cars in the herd, those which are running on empty. You can see the cars at the side of the road, their windows bashed in and no clues to where the drivers went.

But it doesn't stop there. Cactus roots slowly drag the empty cars further and further from the road. And though there's never any rain, the carcasses rust quickly and sand creatures strip their paint away with digestive acids. Eventually the dead vehicles sink into the sand completely, and nothing is left but a mound of earth with a ring of agaves raising their spectacular stalks up to the heavens.

It's best to just drive on. Even if the little blue signs say there is food and gas at the next exit. Some of those towns are just rusty skeletons, picked clean by even larger monsters.


Hi - eek, ugh. What happened?

Well, I was out in Phoenix at Leprecon on May 5-7, drinking warm Morgans with fake pirates and I meant to login and post some stuff, but forgot the password.

Then I left my brain in a suitcase for a while.

Then I worked a few long days down at Stu Segall Productions as a production assistant on what turned out to be a soap opera drama thing. Still, I'm oddly at home on a film set, too bad most of the work pays scrap.

Then I turned 40. Dammit.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

fishy frogs

Frogs are nature's meter for water contamination. At the first sign of heavy metals or invading germs, they start sprouting extra legs. First a spare to help them get away, then another spare to trip them up, finally legs and nubs from the middle of their heads. Yet people will say that mutations don't happen, nothing can evolve into something else without going through some kind of silly phase that has never been observed in the "real world" ...

I love those old reports of when it used to rain fish on villages miles from the nearest sea. Maybe a waterspout was playing tricks, or an updraft of freakish proportions. Maybe they were just swimming upstream to spawn, decided to turn UP and got lost in the atmosphere. The reports used to point out that what made them most unbelievable was that it would only rain one species at a time. So ... there's some kind of angelic cannery at work, stuffing sardine tins but throwing out the baby mackerel. Or maybe some kid chucked a barrel full of kippers out into the field when nobody was looking, only to laugh at the adults as they crawled around with their Sherlock Holmes' magnifiers having what they could only describe as spiritual experiences.

Are you allowed to eat fish in heaven? Maybe the cows will give you a ticket, then go back to munching their cloud grass ... which, if you listen reeeeeeallly close, can be heard screaming.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

earth day weird

Today was Earth Day, and there was a big festival down at Balboa Park. Naturally, it attracted thousands of gas-burning stink machines (cars) that had to fight for parking. There were lots of little booths everywhere, mostly with overpriced food. A few outdoor stages with music; some good sounds, some international sounds, and a few crooning husband and wife hippie duos (of course).

I don't understand why the environmental movement got all tangled up in dumb New Age baloney. There were booths where you could pay people to teach you how to meditate. The Scientologists were there with a one-stop massage and brainwashing booth. There were some local temples recruiting tomorrow's Hindus and Krishnas. All kinds of delusions out there, few of them helpful. I'd say about 30% of the booths were actual environmental stuff, and those were good.

There were some super hybrid cars on display, even a hydrogen-burning truck developed by folks at Camp Pendleton. Trouble is, we couldn't afford any of these vehicles if we wanted to, and even if we could, only the dealers know how to service the things. Gone are the days of being able to fix your own cars. Yet it's impossible that they need to be so damned complicated. A power source turns wheels, and there are flashy bits. But no, they all have to be computer-controlled megatech monsters. And I guess we could take on a massive debt for this luxury, but that's really not a good idea.

There was a lot of info on local parks and conservation projects. Thanks. And a fun area for kids, even a table where they could make their own paper (a.k.a. the world's messiest hobby). There was an area where kids could arrange old book covers of all different colors on the grass to make pictures - or throw them at each other. Nearby were the stinky generators that were producing much of the electricity for the event. One could hope that by the time all the gasses reached the stratosphere, the diesel had been subdued by all the yummy kettle corn and funnel cake fumes.

There was plenty of info on recycling, but with a clear demonstration that people won't walk an extra 20 feet to recycle their crap if there's an overflowing trashcan right at hand. They had big recycling station set up, yet all the regular trashcans were overflowing with paper plates and plastic bottles ...

Some solar and wind power companies were there, trying to make a mark. New ways to heat your water. Low-power desk lamps. And the Kashi people are always nice, with tasty cereal and crackers. Though I have to say soy milk still tastes like regular milk that had someone's sock in it overnight.

But my favorite bit was the Japanese man whose two kids (about 5 and 6) were chuggin Rockstar energy drinks. After much pondering, I could come up with only one explanation ... he must have a giant hamster wheel at home to harvest their energy.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

scurrying dreams

Dreams scurry around the bedroom like mice. Only half as nice. Wake up, think I hear them scratching, but it's nothing, or is it? Stucco ceilings shouldn't be allowed in bedrooms - look up at 4 A.M. and the whole blurry surface is crawling, triggering images of spiders and beetles. Roll over, knowing there are microscopic things chewing on my legs, or partying between the weave of the cotton sheets rejoicing in the dead skin snowfall.

At least we're in a quiet neighborhood. No more hearing the people in the apartment across the hall - just beyond the wall - screwing or shouting or crying. Although one time I got even, accidentally. I was a kid and had found a small garter snake outside, brought it home in a cardboard box. Looked in the box before bed, and it was gone. Heard screams from across the hall, snake under the fridge, kid comes out holding it my the tail. I wanted to say, "Hey, that's mine." But we all know we can't own those things. I'm just glad they didn't kill it ... people are just so heartless ... kill first and bitch about it later. Now that I think back, it wasn't getting even with anyone, just freaking out the wildlife.

Snakes under the bed. Lizards in my head. Late nights are the best.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

cleaning like zombies

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned soap? Soap was working fine for centuries. But now there are thousands of cleaning products, with millions of dollars dumped into scientific and consumer research and testing every year. Now we have whole lines of hair care products full of truly noxious chemicals, and funny little wipes that leave only the toughest germs behind, and soaps with perfumes and moisturizers ... bath scrubs, bath oils, scouring powders, scrubbing bubbles ...

Yeah, we need cleaning products. But we're just "consumer" zombies with targets painted on our chests, and we buy whatever "they" throw at us. So we end up with whole piles of swiffers and wonder brooms and gobbledy goop that we never needed. Some of it seriously toxic. If only we could think before we swipe those cards ...

Who would've thought that the first household robots would be little disc-shaped thingies that quietly bounce off the walls. In theory their mad meanderings should end up cleaning the whole house, or at least scaring the cats on a regular basis. I hope they have the laws of robitcs programmed in ... I'd hate to have them come after my ankles when I'm headed for a midnight snack!

Monday, March 27, 2006

real zoo experience

We see only the fluffy pretty stuff when we go to a zoo. I was thinking of all the other things that might be going on, maybe some new events to show a wider range of animal behavior than just pacing around and sleeping all day ...

How about:
- the meerkat petting zoo (ankle armor recommended, and count your fingers when done)
- hand feeding the porcupines (they don't actually shoot those quills, you know)
- limbo in a leech pond (get down, get funky)
- a wildcat hugging contest (they look like comfy pillows but it's more like hugging a cuisinart)
- elephant scat scavenger hunt (never know what you'll find)
- lorikeet halloween (they're not just noisy and hyperactive, they're also vampiric ... just hold out your arm & say your prayers)

Yeah. Something like that.


From a chat at the WAP with Andy F. 3/26/06

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

pop star & meltdown

Had a dream that I was someone else, some guy dating a pop star. She was pretty by day, but by about 2am she had melted down to a bubbling pink lump. There were gutters at the side of the bed to catch the goop. At the first scent of coffee in the morning, she would slurp back into shape, smile a big white smile, and blast through another action-packed day. Leaving me behind to face a completely ordinary nothingness.

Had a dream that I was crashing airplanes for fun.

Had a dream that I was building a forest out of a truck full of two-by-fours and a billion nails. My power tools spit out batteries like a machine gun spewing shells. I hadn't been able to read the assembly instructions, since they were written in Aramaic. In the end there was a sorry excuse for a forest and a mountain of dead batteries, leaking shiny green toxins into the ground. A swarm of disgruntled wind-up squirrels chased us off so they could wallow in their agony alone.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

time, numbers, whip

Time goes cruising by again. Editing a novel - I think I finally have the "perfect" ingredients. Mainly I wanted to shoot a few numbers in here, to let you know I haven't been doing nothing ...

Writing Summary: so far in 2006

Stories Written: 10
Stories Word Count: 3,955
Poems Written: 22
Poems Line Count: 495
Nonfiction Written: 0
Nonfiction Word Count: 0
Current Novel Revision: 102 pages

Submitted works: 45
Works accepted: 11
Rejections: 15
Still waiting: 17

Last updated: 3/17/06

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

video delusions

Video games ... what a weird market.

20% of them won't install.

Maybe 30% will install but won't run.

40% of the ones that actually run are repetitive and boring, or they're just like a game you already have.

And if you're really unlucky, you'll get a super-wonderful game that you get addicted to, and it ends up eating whole months of your life.

I used to love video games.

Now it seems best to leave them at the store, all shrinkwrapped and happy, where they can't get into my brain.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

down with power windows

As a long-time sci-fi writer, I used to write about all the wonderful gadgets we'd have someday. Now, everything comes out as deconstruction and "back to basics". The gadgets themselves are fine. I'm bothered by the way companies churn out junk and advertisers convince us we can't live without them.

We're surrounded by buttons, but we don't know what any of them really do.

Last time I bought a car I wanted regular roll-up windows, not the stupid electric windows that stop working when the car shuts off. I bet you can't find a new car with manual windows anymore, and that's lame, any way you look at it. Are we really too lazy to crank a handle? We let the machines take over, just like in the old sci-fi stories ... and now we wait to see what happens next.

BTW ...

Some extra fancy cars have electric windows that will still work when the engine is shut off. But that's a "feature" they can charge extra for. A bonehead remedy for that other convenience they used to charge extra for.

If your car ends up in a lake, you're supposed to exit through the windows because you can't open a door against the weight of the water. With the engine swamped, odds are you can't roll down the electric windows either, and the glass is supposed to be harder to shatter now, to protect you during accidents. Talk about drowning in our own solutions. Eek.

big words from tiny heads

I was talking with a friend, and the subject of "big words" came up. He had never heard of antidisestablishmentarianism ... for a long time it was the longest english word in the dictionary. Not counting self-propagating chemical names.

In a funny bout of tongue-twisters and bad etymology, we came up with these totally useless phrases:

Antiaccomplishmentdisciplinarian -
One of those parents who will smack their kids if they do anything out of the ordinary

Antiestonianditzplanetarium -
A place where anyone who's not from Estonia can go and watch an airhead talk about stars

And my favorite:
Antiestablishmentdiscoplanarian -
A little flatworm who hates to be told what to do, he just wants to dance.


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

atom people

Private notes, though what is secrecy but fear? The trouble is that so few wish to understand people. So many will only speak at the surface. So, many will fall apart not knowing what they should have been. In the face of trial. An error.

There is a streak of sunlight across the page. A relic of distances beyond conquest. As I write toward it, the tip of the pen throws grainy ellipses out of the light. There are 4 distinct bands. As I toy with them I am reminded of complexity -- of numbers & components & chaos. Of what the world is and why it is most amazing if it stands on its own without gods. People always oversimplify things: I see scant difference between the motions of a society and the motions of cells, or the chance crashings of atoms. Look at a highway. Stare at it for hours. What is its pattern? It is blood, carrying oxygen (people) to tissues beyond the exit ramps. Conversely, from the smaller standpoint, wouldn't a blood vessel be a highway to some cellular observer? Only the dimensions are different.

People are just as reactive as oxygen -- where is the line between analogy and accidental truth? Strange, how humans pair off for stability (O2), but divorce under stress & run off seeking new reactions. Look at the instability of O3 ... how long can secrets be kept? One bright ray of light shatters the triad into unsatisfied units.

Secrecy -- to avoid judgement we shy away, content to be ions, never showing our electrons for fear of having them stripped away forever.

Some are more like carbon -- they like things in pairs. Some are hydrogen, always giving what little they have. Xenons live in the mountains in snowy cabins. The list goes on. Eventually we will discover that atoms have shapes ... nervous systems ... hairstyles ... secrets ... and diaries of their own.


I was going through an old journal, looking for something I had lost. Found this piece, dated 2/6/88. A fun heap of analogies for any (no) occasion. And I just heard this echo through my head: "Up and at 'em, Atom Ant!" Tanks full of memories.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

afterlife 9

Just a quick news flash -- I have a new chapbook available: "Afterlife 9". It's a disturbing parody of afterlife, citylife, social life and hungry machines.

Yes, I printed it myself, after a personal record of 18 years of delays -- deaths, burnt things, publishers imploding, and all that jazz. It's $5 postpaid in the USA. I'm getting the vibe that the color cover is worth 50 cents all by itself.

It's home page is here:
Afterlife 9


I hope you'll check it out. Thanks to all who support my work.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

rpg my other pants

A room full of zombies? No problem. Oh, wait. Crap. I left my grenades in my other pants. Hang on! My other pants are right here in my backpack. Okay ... who swiped my backpack? I need to find seom friends for are not losers, clowns and thieves. No, Jacob, don't mess with that!



In related role-playing news, it has been determined that nothing lights up a pitch-black cave quite as nicely as a flaming elf.


2/19/06 - Odds & ends that come to mind during quick visit to a Fermius RPG session.

Monday, February 20, 2006

weekend oddities

Whoever said it's fun to put Snap, Crackle, Pop into your morning ... obviously didn't have neck problems.

Someday all entertainment will be mere background noise, at which point nothing will be entertaining anymore.

If all information is supposed to be free, then nobody can be allowed to make a living creating new content, so in the end there's no choice but for reporters to make up shit as fast as they can so they can get back to their dayjobs. At which point there will be nothing worth reporting anyway.

Yet there are people who can fall down mountains and win big prizes, either in ski competitions or by suing the lodges and lift operators and travel agents. What do you mean there are ROCKS underneath the SNOW -- those things can HURT people.

Reminds me of way back when: snowball fights with the neighborhood bully. Sometimes you get a good shot in, so he starts pushing little pebbles into his snowballs and they crush your nose. Pretty soon you're just throwing rocks because they make more of a statement. Eventually a window breaks - that's enough statements for one day.

So .. that's enough statements for one day.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

paid in full ... in copies

A recent study at U.C. Berkeley has shown that jobs which offer no cash compensation do, in fact, help our economy by boosting the sales of Quaker oats and Top Ramen products. A participating poet claimed that he could survive for forty days on a single jumbo carton of Quaker oats, and if twenty of those carboard containers are glued together, the resulting hovel is worth at least $249,000 in the California housing market. As we all know, Top Ramen is created in orbit by space monkeys who shower the stuff down on central China for reasons unknown to us. Their manifesto clearly says that if we fail to appease them with inane sitcoms they have the power to make all our national debts real and payable in full. Our experts have informed us that this would be bad, and it's best left for our children's children to deal with.


This was actually my response to what sounds like a great writing opportunity that pays in copies. But it sounds great. But I'm so behind on paying for stuff. But it sounds cool. Anyway, it's fun to see what comes out when prompted with various real-life twists & turns. This made me think of all those other things I've done for copies. And they worked out okay.

Right before that I wrote a flash fiction about a guy who gets held hostage by a sandwich.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

my Amazon Shorts

Big news! Two of my short stories are now available at, as part of their new "Amazon Shorts" program. These are two of the funniest tales I've written yet, and I hope you all enjoy them. They're just 49 cents each.

One Mistake at a Time - a time travel fiasco


The Goblin Saint - a tongue-in-cheek fantasy

I hope you'll check them out. I think you'll get a kick out of them. Thanks.

Monday, February 13, 2006

downhill slump

What's up with the olympics? I know, we're supposed to be all excited about it, but the coverage just seems to get more lame every time. We get profiles of the Americans, then interviews with them, then we get to see their performances and maybe a Russian or Chinese person or two. Doesn't feel like an international event at all.

The new scoring system for skating is bugging my wife. But I never did get the old system. I can't stand events that are scored by starting off perfect and bitching and whining and criticizing and scrutinizing and deducting. Bleah. Give me a sport where you have to finish with the best time, or with a score based on discrete events, something tangible and less subjective. The coverage suggests that we should be eager to put other people under a microscope and tear them down.

Screw that.

I want to see athletes from all over the world getting together, having a community, doing their best, shaking hands when it's all over. Instead, I get to watch what's-his-name running one feature after another trying to pump up Apollo or poor Michelle Kwan as some breed of super hero, and I'm reminded every half hour that I can buy the damn jackets and buy other olympic logo crap at such-and-such a website.

Today we got to see some nasty skiing and luge accidents. If we can find the events in between the commercials, that is. There's a sense that if anyone hurts themselves trying to do this impossible stuff then "Oh well, on to the next hero."

We got a brief chuckle over a piece about curling. So it's an odd sport. It obviously takes some kind of skill. At least it's different. It's not like just changing the length of a sled to make a whole new sport. Let's have more eclectic, more alien events.

Here's an event I'd like to see: chase the announcers around with a pointy stick, and poke them until they sound like they care.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Great escapes

I was out at pizza night with Fermius, and we came to an odd piece of chat about escaping reality by romanticizing other historical times. But we forget all the crappy bits to make them all sound wonderful.

It's the 21st century, and many people fantasize about being pirates (stinky mostly-starving criminals) or living in the wonderful Middle Ages (with all the dirt & disease, tyrants & vermin).

But the people in the Middle Ages were probably fantasizing about living in ancient Rome, with things like plumbing and flying go-carts. Maybe that's not so bad.

But the people in Greek and Roman times were pining for an earlier day, a simpler age, where men could be men (and attack their neighbors) who could be men (pawns of the gods). And get attacked by their neighbors.

Civilized people may have cursed the invention of farming and wished they were free to graze among the daffodils.

Iron Age people wished they were living in the Stone Age.

Stone Agers must have dreamed of the good old days, living in their caves, eating popcorn with bears.

Cavemen must have dreamed of swinging from trees and saying "Umph."

Apes fight all day and throw their poo around.


2/1/06 - a conversation gone awry, then captured (for better or worse)

now, future people can dream of the lovely month of January 2006 where Exxon-Mobil just posted astronomical profits by a consumer ripoff of epic proportions.

reading the soup

on divination
by s.c.virtes

The misguided notion
Of separable fortune, misfortune,
Each travelling in clusters,
So that anything good implies more good;

These ideas are the babble of children,
From start to finish, my day speaks how:

There was an extra flavor packet
In my 23 cent soup today ...
Does this mean I'll meet
The "girl of my dreams",
Or that I will suddenly begin
Having such dreams,

Will all goodness fall at my door,
So I need never worry, need never fear,
Will people give up their fighting
And find quieter songs,
Or does it mean nothing more
Than a strong bowl of soup?


Poem from 1988, unpublished

Friday, January 27, 2006

stink or no stink

I guess I signed up for the Stink of the Month Club without realizing it. You know how those clubs advertise impossibly great deals then start sending you stuff you don't want, and you have to pay to ship the junk back, and they charge you anyway?

Well maybe it was the chunk of graveyard funk I ordered from that guy in Romania. But no, that was Romania. Doesn't matter.

I need to remember to read the addresses on the mail before opening it. This month's selection was "ammonia headache" and "tijuana toilet". Almost scalded my eyes opening that one. There was a brief memory of playing "the ammonia game" in high school chem class -- you know, the one where you put a little water in two beakers and an equal amount of ammonia in another, then find some freshman and tell him if he can figure out which beaker has peppermint schnapps he gets to drink it. They usually get grab the ammonia on the first whiff, and their eyebrows shoot right off their heads.

So I sent back the stink. It may have been funny in high school, but now I'm older and I'm not going to pay $9.95 for the dubious pleasure.

Though I did notice that next month's featured item is "rancid cranberry surprise"...


from a dream 1/26/06

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

library falling

I was at the university library. They really packed the books in there. The shelves were jammed together so you'd have to turn sideways to go around corners. While they must have spent a fortune on the books, they only spent about a dollar fifty on the shelves. When I tripped over a hundred pound copy of The Fermius Guide to Extrasolar Diseases, and reached out my hands to stop my fall, I hit a shelf and could feel the vibrations. The particles inside the shelf were trying to decide if today was a good day for a paper disaster ...

The shelf went over an inch too far. The books slid back and dropped out the downside of the shelf, whispering as they headed toward total chaos. The wave of books and metal hit the next shelf, then another, and it was a devlishly glorious game of dominoes after that. When it was all over, there were some groans from underneath the ruins of the anthropology section, all kinds of pages flapping in the air -- trying to escape the carnage -- and I could only wait until the perfect comedy pause had ticked down before letting out a primal, "Doh!"

Monday, January 09, 2006

4th and Z (audio)

A quick comedy homage, in audio form.
Listen to it here.

I did the audio direction and editing, but only a minor voice role ("whoop whoop whoop").
To find out more about the voice talent, see
the Actors Playground.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

2006, huh?

It's 2006 and there are no jet packs or flying go-karts. Then again, imagine those things in the hands of the typical commuter ... every ten seconds someone would crash into a hill or flame someone else's eyebrows off.

Flash Gordon would not be impressed. Just goes to show that sci-fi writers really ARE optimists, crediting us with these great advances. But in the real world the advances sneak up on us and the whole world changes with hardly anyone noticing.

Must ... avoid ... politics. The US Gov keeps getting more psychotic, doing everything we don't want them to do, making the whole world hate us. The news keeps us comfortably isolated. We're just little pawns. I do hope that the corporate-run cyberpunk world isn't the next big change to sneak up on us, but maybe we're already there and just don't hear about it. Damn. Things just don't add up the way they're reported.

Scratch that. Oh darn, the backspace is just too much of a hassle. Then I'd be playing along.

I'm still annoyed by the fantasy "Net" you see in movies. Where the internet is a pretty world of lights and zappy data, and you can walk around in it. At the moment, it's just a lot of disconnected text and pictures and stuff, with the potential to work wonders ... instead, we get victimized by dumb-ass spammers and our machines spend all day updating our virus definitions and spyware lists. I even have spammers attacking the guestbooks and order forms on my business websites. They just have to send me incoherent and obscene links to shit no halfway intelligent person would ever click on. But I'm trying to run a business! To survive, you know. It's insulting. They must think we're all stupid little marks just waiting to cough up money. Well, fuck them.

It's sad, trying to run an honest life, trying to do the right thing, knowing that there are people doing better than I am by being assholes and thieves.

Hmm. Not the Happy New Year I was thinking. But then again, it really isn't.

Monday, January 02, 2006

nose-thing and not-so-fast food

Had an odd dream last night, just a bunch of commercials for stupid products. The only one I can remember was Wal-Mart's new compendium of barely-useful information ... the Walmanac.

Every now and then I'll be eating dinner out, and a few booths away, a hostess is asking Neil Diamond what kind of veggies he wants on the side. He bursts into a chorus of "A yam, I said! A yam, I cried ..."

We went out for some steak tonight. Had that low-protein, low-iron feeling. Yum. So the Neil Diamond gag came to mind again. Nearby was a girl with the tiniest diamond I've ever seen, sticking in her nose. Of all places. Probably fake, but that doesn't matter. I just saw a nose with a shiny bit, and figured it was a booger. A fine investment there!

I've had a few meals in '05 where the service was just too darn slow. I mean, at first there's stuff to talk about, maybe a little cup of soup. After a while, it's "Okay, I'm ready to eat now." Which progresses to an urge to wave hands around or bang silverware - "Am I still here?" Finally, there's just a gut-wrenching "Now I'm hungry again, which is abnormal and has totally confused my system. Still, I see no signs of life in the tundra they call a kitchen ..."