The War for Evermore

Unrequited Love

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February 4, 2015 Posted by | Hodgepodge, Imagery | | Leave a comment

Finally …

voyager-popupDifferent things hit us different ways. Today has been a biggie. I’ve been reading sci-fi for … well … probably longer than most of you have been alive. I watched the space race from its inception, watched primitive probes live on TV as they were intentionally crashed into the moon, paid attention as we flew by the inner planets and out to Mars, was listening and watching as we first orbited the earth, performed the space walks,  and then orbited the moon. And then we landed people on the moon – and brought them back! I gathered with friends to watch the Jupiter flybys in color, and then the swings past Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, followed the Viking landing on Mars … all the while reading sci-fi and dreaming galactic empires and interstellar adventures.

Today it’s official: Voyager 1 entered interstellar space.
Voyager Bubble

We’re so jaded, I think, spoiled by technologies that are universally beholden to the science that made the moon landings and robot explorers possible. It seems quaint, old school … a by-our-standards hopelessly obsolete spacecraft that is doing things no one dreamed.
voyager-1024x791

I dunno if we’ll ever get a second act, given the way we are treating our planet and environment, but it remains amazing that we went from a time when chiseling an axe-head with stone was considered high-tech, to reaching the realm of deep space, leaving there an artifact that will wander the ink black night between stars far past even the memory of our species.

As long as Voyager survives, something of us will, too.

I think that is pretty amazing. Haunting, maybe a little sad, but amazing nonetheless.
Animation of Voyager 1

September 13, 2013 Posted by | Hodgepodge, Telling Stories | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In My Life …

6.3 decades, in your face.

Enjoy.


Another orbit done and here we are again, a little older, not much wiser, but still chugging’ along and taking it as it comes …

.. so … once again …

… This one goes out to the ones I love … random, oft incoherent thoughts and memories of music, people, events, movies, places and whatever else … with a dash of air-headed cerebrations … and a cookie or three … with an understanding a life is meant to be savored, occasionally pondered … and never, ever taken too seriously …

… but first, Have You Been Experienced?

… Lemon Tree … The Sound of Silence … Wild Thing … Eve of Destruction … Gloria … Dead Man’s Curve … A Summer Place … Love Me Do … Happy Together … Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In … Street Fighting Man

… walking in a thick, damp San Francisco fog, the dripping sound of water, thick splats of noise as you move through an invisible city that is more rumor than reality, hidden by the obscuring mist … a city … dream of a city … muted … lost in another time …

… Linda … Florita … Leslie …

... It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World … Star Wars … Out of Africa …. Helen of Troy …. The Music Man …. Help … 101 Dalmatians …. Casablanca … The Graduate …

… sailing with the 40th Avenue gang on Greg’s ketch, coming out off Sausalito heading across the mouth of the Golden Gate toward the Presidio … none of us ever having sailed before … Greg deciding to head back until a oil tanker passed, but when we execute the maneuver, yanking lines, swinging booms, ducking and tying down, in classic Keystone Kops tradition, somehow we turn a full 360 degrees, ending up still headed for San Francisco … Greg, muttering something likely unrepeatable under his breath, shaking his head … “Okay, I guess we run for it, then – and hopefully we’ll figure out how to do this right before we run ashore” … we made it, of course, and it was a Wonderful Day … tacking against the wind to actually go under the bridge (what a hell of a lot of work that was) … then running with the wind … the ketch tacking at 45 degrees as Jimmy held her on a steady course while Greg ran up and down the mast …

… touch …

Peter Gabriel, 1987, Oakland Colisium …

… Stuff I really miss: … 6 … San Francisco State U. … a new Beatles album … being an outside person … motorcycles … Carl Sagan … running … being a kid in the Academy of Sciences … Tom … seven years old and getting together with the whole neighborhood and marching to Golden Gate Park to play war all day …39th Avenue … John Lennon … paper routes and all the stuff we should have gotten into trouble for with our Sunday morning antics … being innocent … barking at Playland at the Beach when I was in high school (sadly, as a Carny, I had something like Michael Valentine Smith’s problem ) … Michael OB … Herb Caen, who somehow meshed the old San Francisco with the new … the 40th Avenue Gang … Frank Frazetta … my knees … Granddad …

… Maggie … Marian …

… Worst year of my life – tie: 1983 & 1993 …

All Along the Watchtower … Norwegian Wood … Going to a Go-Go … Barbara Ann … Gloria … Brown-Eyed Girl … The Boxer … Dandelion … Ball ‘n’ Chain … Quicksilver Girl … Somebody to Love … Puff the Magic Dragon …

… Most important year of my life – tie: 1983 & 1993 …

Lena Olin in The Unbearable Lightness of Being

… Sitting in my car, looking through the open windows of the dojo, watching my daughter (her unaware), as she works with her master, a 2’ sword in each hand, dancing through her movement with grace and power, a look of utter seriousness on her face … and on the radio that warm late-winter day March Madness is underway, and I’m watching her and thinking hardwood and jump-shots and bookmarking this moment in my small stretch of existence …

Mary Poppins … the Unbearable Lightness of Being … Metropolis …  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid … Airplane … Fly Away Home … 2001: A Space Odyssey … Alien …

Alien – I still remember sitting in the Northpoint Theater, suddenly looking around to see literally everyone – long rows of people – sitting on the edge of their seats … and then the Alien jumps out and everyone slams back …

… The Tree – Sunset Blvd, SF – Jimmy and me climbing the sucker, sitting at the top, watching the sun set over the Pacific … sitting and jawing for hours …

… stimulation …

… I wonder if the idea of looking at one’s life as almost fated to happen as it does is an illusion (and delusion) of perspective, and nothing more, built into our DNA …

Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Mongo Santamaria – ’68 or 9 at Winterland

… floating in a raft with my lover on a hot summer day  on Lake Tahoe, staring down through the crystal blue depths, whiling away the hours, making love as the sun disappears beyond the horizon, under a canopy of twilight stars …

… Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band … Dark Side of the Moon … Blue … Surrealistic Pillow … So … Pirates … Days of Future Past … December … Aliens Ate My Buick … Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere … I, Robot … Crown of Creation …

A time it was
It was a time
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

… Favorite things about where I live, both in the here and now, and in my memories: walks through Golden Gate Park late 60s and free Sunday concerts in the Speedway Meadows, just a quarter-mile or so from where I lived … renting a boat and rowing around Stow Lake; Japanese Tea Gardens; Fisherman’s Wharf; Ghirardelli Square; North Beach and China Town; DowntownVesuvio’s, City Lights Bookstore …  driving around the city endlessly, seeing things, being seen … San Francisco International Airport,  when you could still wander loose down every terminal wing … Sausalito …motorcycling Mt. TamStinson Beach, Pt. Reyes … all the small bookshops and record stores that no longer exist, especially that wonderful bookstore on Geary with the best selection of SciFi in the city; the Cliff House (the old one); the Veteran of Foreign Wars Bar at the foot of Golden Gate Park, facing the Pacific (now Beach Chalet – much, much different; VFW was a seedy joint, lots of fun, exuding a character missing for most modern drinking & eating establishments with that kind of view …) … Moss BeachSanta CruzBig Basin Pfeiffer Big Surthe Russian River … Rogue Valley, Oregon

… 1968 and head shops with bitchin’ day glow posters under black lights …

… Jason and the Argonauts … The Seven Voyages of Sinbad … Forbidden Planet …

… I worry for my child, for her future; for the future for today’s children in general … I think they shall grow to hate us, the generations that came of age in the last half of the 20th century, for what we are leaving them …

... You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling … Twist and Shout … Good Lovin’ … Feelin’ Groovy … Casey Jones … Close Your Eyes … Last Train to Clarksville … I’m Free … I’m Losing You … Mona/Maiden of the Cancer Moon … Imagine … Nights in White Satin … White Rabbit … Dance to the Music …

… humanity’s legacy, that one bothers me, too … a lot … the idea of its survival, I mean … funny how our poetry – Homer, the Classic dramatists; the poets: Cervantes; Virgil; Ovid; Dante; ChaucerShakespeare … and I’m only speaking the Western influences – there is so much more in other cultures …

… but funny how that poetry speaks more to the soul of who we are, how we define ourselves … read the exchange between Hector and Andromache in the Illiad, and witness the intimacy of family … and abiding love …

… Raiders of the Lost Ark … Back to the Future … The Hunt for Red October … Shakespeare in Love … Platoon … Betty Blue … the Hunger … Schindler’s List … Reds … Nowhere in Africa …
… living in the house where the lights never went out … shining on like crazy diamonds …

… Space Patrol … King of the Rocket Men … Commando Cody … the late Dave Steven’s Rocketeer

… Paul McCartney & Wings, ’75 or ’76, Cow Palace

… I sometimes wonder what would have happened to my life … had I a normal childhood (whatever that is) … if I hadn’t wasted my years in Europe … if I’d not been creative … I’d not gotten to raise my daughter … or if she’d had two parents … coulda, woulda shoulda … didn’t …

…Rossi …

The Ultimates

… The Fantastic Four … The Justice League of America … Captain America … The Sub-Mariner … Iron Man … Supergirl … Thor … the Hulk …The Amazing Spiderman … The Avengers … Challengers of the Unknown …. The Ultimates … The X-Men …

… Ben Grimm, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing …

… was it just yesterday that elements of the 40th Ave. Gang took this or that trip to Cynbad’s or Michael’s cabin for a weekend on on the Russian River, went on road trips to nowhere, threw parties and closed bars … the Halloween costume party at Liz’s in `75 … midnight movies on Ocean Avenue with the gang, hooting and hollering as Janet Leigh got slashed in chocolate syrup or the living dead were on a zombified rampage … Sunsets watched from the dirt parking lot (now paved like a drive-in) above the ruins of Sutro Baths …

… Pat, Liz & Linda – oh so Chekovian …

Get Together … Suite: Judy Blue Eyes … A Day in the Life … Rattlesnake Shake … White Room … Gold and Silver … Suzi Q … Days of Future Past … Want to Take You Higher … Daydream … Cowgirl in the Sand … Roundabout … Lay Lady Lay … Band on the Run … 40,000 Headmen … Darkness, Darkness …

… Stan and Jack … the Merry Marvel Marching Society … Not Brand Ecch!!! … True Believers … the Bullpen …

… a No-Prize …

… sharing an apartment with Geoff in downtown San Jose while Old Dead Bug was being formed and I was working at a small local theater …

… the now-defunct One Act Theatre Company on Mason Street, S.F., where I met my daughter’s mother …

San Jose State U., where I met one of my best – and I hope life-long friends … Semper Fi …

… I really never wanted to be a teacher … the times I did teach, I was passable, little more … I always worked better – and was more comfortable – in the role of a coach … that’s sort of how I looked at directing stage shows: as coaching actors …

… Elektra Dione …

… in truth, I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up … still don’t …

… impassioned loves and lovers …

… Sunsets … Full Moon nights … Indian Summer in San Francisco … Autumn … walks on the beach … stopping in the everyday flow to take in something beautifully unexpected … friends … lovers … teachers …

Libraries

… walking through the farmlands of Germany on a warm Autumn day, a bottle of wine, some fresh bread, cheese and salami and good friends to share it and a whole day of nothing before us … a lifetime beyond that …

… Garth and Donna, who examined my science and pronounced it good …

… I wonder now and then, after the audition I didn’t realize was an audition, if I should have taken her up on the offer to work for her service as a male escort  … could have been interesting, no doubt …

… Sam … Sienna … Melanie … Charmayne … Thomas … Meadow … Bethany … Madeline … the Wanderer … and all the other characters taking up residence in the theatre of my imagination …

… guilty pleasures … Underworld movies … Bianca Beauchamp … Resident Evil movies … cheesy SciFi disaster flicks like Deep Impact and The Core … … Suicide Girls … Keanu Reeves movies … whipped cream … Dita Von Teese … whipped cream & Dita Von Teese …

… arousal …

… one moment I’d like to have back: I mentioned elsewhere I went to Space Con 3 and attended a talk given by Robert A. Heinlein. What I didn’t mention was what followed. The Heinleins were promoting a blood drive at SciFi conventions – a novel idea in 1977 – and to get an autograph from Heinlein, you had to give up a pint. Now, as I also mentioned, I worked the midnight shift at Mission Emergency. I’d also been up most of the previous day, so I was pretty exhausted and in need of sleep.Instead, I gave a pint of blood … but, wait, it gets better … I never thought to bring a pen or paper or, like most of the people there, one of Heinlein’s books to have autographed …

Robert A. Heinlein – To Sail Beyond Sunset, Royo cover art

… so there I was …

… anyway, the pint was given and me, thinking I was done, and being young and healthy (outward appearances notwithstanding) went to sit up, which freaked out the nurse, thereby setting off something of a commotion and – embarrassment of embarrassments – Heinlein, sitting at his table, in plain view, looked up and saw this semi-out-of-it longhair – and something about the expression on his face had a deflating quality, sort of “Oh, am I going to have to sign his book?” … so I laid back down until the nurse let me go … and I slunk away …

… *sigh* …

Boz Scaggs & Quicksilver Messenger Servicethe Family Dog, 1970 – we listened to Scaggs through the backstage door, then helped carry the equipment to the trucks and they let us in for Quicksilver‘s set … got to stand on the stage next to the amps and rock out while our ears bled … Steve Miller Blues Band, same venue, that time from the side balcony … great show from the Space Cowboy/Your Saving Grace days …

Alice’s Restaurant on KFOG every Thanksgiving …

… Contact … Blue (movie) … Spirited Away … The Wizard of Oz … The Matrix … Starship Troopers … The Lord of the Rings Trilogy … Stardust … Jurassic Park … Schindler’s List … Pulse … Thin Red Line … Sirens …

… I regret all the many times I was small, the accumulated sins of being less human to my fellows than I could have been, less responsive of their needs, of not listening to Lincoln’s ‘better angels of our nature’ …

… Amelia … Moonshadow … Learning to Fly … Long Time Gone … Madman Across the Water … Baba O’Riley … Yours is No Disgrace/Starship Trooper … Time of the Season

Our Mascot

… I don’t regret walking away from the Theatre … It wasn’t necessarily voluntary, but once it happened, I realized I was happier. Don’t get me wrong: I loved the time I spent in my muse’s embrace, I think I did some decent and sometimes wonderful things with that harsh mistress … and nothing says “home” to me like memory of the years spent in the SFSU Theatre Arts department, but ultimately this wasn’t what I wanted to do … regardless, it was a gift , a wonderful time that continues to inform my creativity in wonderful ways … and, yes, there remains a faint longing for the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd … though the longing is faint, and grows fainter as time goes by … … though it will never fully go away, I think … and that’s okay … I’ve made my peace …

…  The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds … A Midsummer Nights’ Dream … The Trojan Women … Moby Tick … When You Comin Back, Red Ryder? … Uncommon Women and Others … Fool for Love …

The Forum …  it’s website, Erotique … and a couple of marvelous years and a real friend, in the bargain …

… Words. Words. Words. … “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”“That’s one small step for Man, one giant leap for Mankind” … “I have a dream…”

… I don’t miss religion, at least, not the theological/philosophical part of things … I think I pretty much got that whole concept early on, why it didn’t work … the social thing … yeah … and it was fun to sing in the church choir  … but I never suffered through that second loss thing … when people go, they go … I’m not going to see them again … and you won’t, me … in the meantime, though …

… I think the Beatles are the most amazing creative phenomena I witnessed in my life … these very hardscrabble boys who, with some luck, a lot of hard work, and bright people around them resonated with the youth of the Western world. They influenced so many that followed, and that is a big reason for the regard. But more important … but most important, they were really talented, lightning-in-a-bottle kind of talented … and we got to watch that talent develop, deeper, more sophisticated, but never losing the understanding of the simplicity of what they did – and they left us with a wonderful library of music that continues to please, long past their time …

… similar feelings about Joni Mitchell’s long and varied body of work, and her talent that evolved across decades …

… A Case of You

… Bob … Could give Beelzebub lessons in subtle motivation, and Yahweh lessons in patience  …

… Mikey … who read it all … .

… the wonderful actors and actresses I was privileged enough to get a chance to work with over the years …

…  catch and release … 27 … three months sequestered in a downtown apartment in San Francisco … schooled by a beautiful, self-assured femme who taught me things I needed to know … and who then tossed me back, never to let me back in  … all good …

Randomly & varyingly influenced: E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith … Bill Bryson … Phillip Jose Farmer … 60s music … Verne & Wells … Carl Sagan … Neil Gaiman … Robert E. Howard … Stephen Jay Gould … Andre Norton … Karen Armstrong … Robert Fagles … J.R.R. Tolkien … Robert A. Heinlein … Terri Gross … comics… Eric Frank Russell … Susie Bright … Granddad …

… 1975 … a gorilla suit, shoulder pads and a Halloween party … rare form at Liz’s …

… I do miss new Peanuts strips in the daily comics … new Far Side, too … And Calvin and Hobbes, of course … Bloom County or Outland or Opus …

… and am thankful for Non-Sequitur, Doonesbury and 9 Chickweed Lane for their smiles, thought and sometimes bittersweet sadness …

… coaching basketball …

… Tiff … Nancy and the Critters …

... Red Rain … Tea in the Sahara … Vogue … Route 66/Behind the Wheel … Born in the USA … Under Pressure … Who Can It Be Now … Tear in Your Hand … Dreams … A Girl In Trouble … Walking on the Moon … Burning Down the House … Rapture … In Your Eyes

… sitting on the side of dunes at Ocean Beach, watching thin ribbons of clouds stretching north and south across the Pacific move onshore, passing overhead, moments of cold shadow on a bright, windy day …

NCC-1701

… there are a lot of wonderful things in life, but amongst the most wonderful are women in all their infinite variety … just sayin’ …

… 1971, so many years ago just yesterday … fresh out of high school … an endless summer, where I said to Rossi before he left for Hilo that I wanted it to never change, that I wanted that summer to go on forever …

… and it ended all the same and I left for the Army and Tom the Navy and then the past became more and more something you cherished and less and less something to be lived …

the San Francisco Sound was special, one of the last real offshoots of creative originality in Rock ‘n’ Roll … don’t care what anyone thinks to the contrary … but you knew that …

… the sad part of Rock ‘n’ Roll is during its run in the 50s and 60s the recording quality of the music was generally crappy (this is true for Motown, as well) … the Beatles had George Martin … but most of the recorded music from that time was made on the cheap – the record labels, for the most part, relegated rock to the worst of their studio equipment (classical music got the good stuff) … so much of the catalogue, particularly what we heard on AM radio, barely has an bass line you could feel, and the bass guitar is everything in rock … to understand that unvarnished truth, just listen to the live studio recording of Voodoo Chile (Electric Ladyland) where Hendrix jams with Steve Winwood on the organ (yes, Virginia, there was a time before electric pianos and synthesizers … and auto-tune) and Jack Casady of the Jefferson Airplane … Casady’s bass soars right along with Hendrix’s guitar – and then dives to the deepest reaches of the audible spectrum to counterpoint …

And It Stoned Me … White Bird … Cloud 9 … I Am a Child … Who Do You Love Suite … Shaft … Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door … Cactus Tree … Crystal Ship

… but there are gems … Crown of Creation is probably one of the best stereo albums ever mixed – if you have access to a good stereo, it’s worth a serious listen – you hear two-channel at its warmest and most inventive … I miss that in music, an effort to shape the listening experience, to replicate sound to that it was somehow warm and human … not an overarching wall of sound that was often cold and detached … and to which modern sound seems to have gravitated to …

… not that I have anything against large walls of sound … hel-loooo Pink Floyd, Yes

… cuddling …

… The Dead, again, this time with Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Northern California Youth Choir – ’69 at Winterland

… I worry no one will like my book, even though I hear very positive things from folks who donated the time to read and comment (and to whom I am extremely grateful to for that favor) … and I know it is good. It’s a pervasive haunting that lives with me as part of the process, an insecure monkey on my back …

Uncommon Women & Others

… Doug & Bruce …

…I like women … other things, too, of course. But women are definitely in the top ten … like, items one through nine … maybe one through ten … I like being alive, knowing they are there, women, I mean. In part, what I write is a homage … mortal goddesses …

… but I do like being alive … not necessarily a frivolous idea, this, when you consider how many people seem unhappy with their existence …

… Chinese … def like Chinese food, even if it’s bad for me … a little bit of beef, too (sorry all you veggies out there) …

Close Your Eyes

… clear days, rainy days … hazy days when the sun would set into the Pacific against a blood-red sky …

… my Grandmother’s garden …

… The music, the movies, the concerts … all history … good history … except 1975, maybe, the Snack Sunday concert that ended with Neil Young and Bob Dylan doing a set together, while I, at the other end of Kezar Stadium, had my head in my lady’s lap, enduring an eight-on-the-Richter scale migraine, so lost in the pain I was zombified – and not in a good way … all I remember is the pain … and the unintelligible sound of Neil Young’s voice … and longing for a soft place with no sound or light …

… 12-14 years old … lying awake in my room, in the darkness, my small radio barely turned up to a whisper so my dad can’t hear … listening to all of it, all the energy, the wildness of it … and the poetry … Van Morrison … the Beatles … the Stones … Motown … top 40 at its best, cycling through the playlist … hearing Nowhere Man or Happy Together or Respect … and it all sounded so good …

… also, lying awake, listening to television sound tracks, movies I couldn’t see, only imagine in fleeting snatches of dialogue …

… DJOB …

… Bonnie … Laura … Rae …

California Dreaming … Dock of the Bay … The Rain, the Park and Other Things … Hold On, I’m Comin’! … I Fought The Law … Standing in the Shadow of Love … Magic Bus … Expecting to Fly … Good Vibrations

…trips to the zoo and the wharf, riding tugboats and fireboats, all thanks to Granddad … visiting Steinhart Aquarium and the Academy of Sciences with him, my favorite place in the whole world at the age of 6 to forever …

… daydreams …

… Loreena McKinnett at the Paramount, Oakland, 2008 …

Land of Make-Believe

… photographs of my extended family before I was born … sort of a private Ken Burns documentary … now lost to me through the vagaries of time and family dynamics …

Tear in Your Hand

the Schlock ShopOdyssey Records on Geary… the Family Dog and its neighbor, Playland at the Beach WinterlandMagnolia Thunderpussy’s … the Filmore West …all gone …

… Granddad & Grandmom …

Rome … Band of Brothers … Firefly … Battlestar Galactica

… almost any nature documentary with Richard Attenborough’s name associated with it …

… I can be painfully shy, even now …

… I was alive when man landed on the Moon. I was. Many of you were, too. Something that can never be taken from me, from you, that memory …

… and Woodstock happened the same weekend, in many ways marking the beginning of the end of two eras at the same time … years counted in millennia for the former, in single digits in the other …

Comin’ Back to Me

… I imagine a time – should the American Experiment last that long – a time when the last citizen who was alive when we landed on the moon passes, leaving us a nation with no living memory of that great moment, arguably the greatest in our history …

… good beer …

Let’s Dance … The Ability to Swing … Silent All These Years … Ice …

… my biggest regret: for eight years I was a single, full-time parent, the last thing anyone I knew growing up would have guessed to be a fate for me … I don’t know how I did it, but I wish I could have done better than I did … every child deserves the best …

… Music …

… Why I love San Francisco: think of yourself as an R. Crumb character (if you don’t know who R. Crumb is, I’m sorry) … you’re in a truck, all nuts ‘n’ bolts ‘n’ squeaks ‘n’ groans, bouncing over the hills and through the dales that are the neighborhoods of this fair city, and every time you crest another hill you seem to enter a new culture and place, divorced-yet-still-connected to the larger metropolis … different people, different cultures, worlds … delight beyond delight …

… loving …

… Christmas Season, when you believe in magic as only a child can believe in magic …

… Danger Grrls … (you know who you are) …

phanthom1The Phantom Tollbooth … Milo … Tock … The Humbug …

… She Blinded Me With Science … First Train Home … Be Here Now … 2-1 … Santiago … The Kid …

… of all the sad things about the human condition, I think, with rare exceptions, being lonely is the saddest …

… J …

… smiles, grins & laughter …

… Things I still want to do … I used to camp, got distracted; want to do it again – and I still have most of the equipment … learn to slow down, maybe even just a little, relax, let things go a bit … a telescope, maybe to take camping … publish … finish my books, my fictional ‘history’ of eternity …

IMG_2138… each moment … each moment you are alive and take the time to be aware of that special condition …

… in those moments we most understand why art is a nourishment to our souls…

… Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you …

… absent friends …

… waking up to her smiling eyes …

Rolling in the Deep … Into the Mystic … CrazyCaravanserai … Tomorrow Never Knows … Canvas

… my fondest wish beyond good for friends & family … that the human race could populate the solar system and then reach the stars and continue … dunno … guess it’s a weird conceit … I want us – our species – or whatever it would evolve to be – the descendants of our DNA – to survive … to witness … to stand there, deep in the corridors of time, and bear witness, finally, as the last star winks out …

… Susan …

The War for Evermore

Our Solemn HourStop MeCarnival

Broken Artemis …

… and in my mind’s eye, in a San Francisco lost somewhere down the corridors of time past and imperfect memory, as the warmth of an Indian summer night gives way to the chill appearance of enveloping fog, I look about me, turning carefully left and right, then slowly face the direction of home.  In the distance, a foghorn moans, the sound muffled. I walk slowly, quietly, listing to the night, mind roiling with unceasing energy as the thick mist closes around me until I fade into the gray shadows, wishing and dreaming things that will … and will never … be…

Time to start another orbit …

April 15, 2013 Posted by | Hodgepodge, Imagery, Telling Stories | , , , | Leave a comment

Pretty Smile

“When your brains are gone, what nobler substitute could there be than wine?” ~Supervert, ‘The Necrophilia Variations’

Stop.

Do not scroll down.

Do not read past the picture of the sweet lass, below. I have a link you should watch. Before you do, there’s probably a couple of things I should say. There are some things going on in this video, including the reading of an excerpt from the Necrophilia Diaries, read by the beautiful woman with the delightful smile you see below. I should note the reading is pretty adult in a NSFW/NSFF sort of way.

I should also say this picture is part of the story of how that smile came about.

Now, having said this much, I think I can assume what some of you might be thinking regarding where that happy expression came from, and what this means in terms of what you are about to see.

No. Sorry to disappoint, but I can can assure you there is no real suggestion – let alone presentation – of nudity, sex acts, or much of anything of an overtly visual nature.

Nothing. Except for that smile. And to quote the young lady making that smile: “Wow.”

Just wow.

Now, go watch, right here, watch the progression all the way through, no skipping, nothing, just listen to her, watch her … and then we’ll take a smoke break, calm down a little and talk about stuff, as Stu is fond of saying.


===

“Why do you watch me so intently?” she asks.

Feeling pretentious, he replies:

“To see you.”

Questioning expression.

“When it happens, when you let go. I see you, a part of you you don’t share with anyone else. There are no inhibitions, there is no restraint … well, no inner restraint. You allow yourself out. A very private part of yourself.”

“Really? You judge your experience with women by the intensity of their orgasms?”

“Um … not judge. More like enjoy.”

“What if I told you that you were full of shit.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily argue.”

“Good.” Pause. “At least you didn’t say you were looking into my soul.”

“I was thinking about it.”

She snorts.

“There’s an upside to this, though, if you give the idea some thought.”

“And that is…?”

“Obviously, if you have a lover with this sort of voyueristic fetish, wouldn’t it follow that your lover would wish to better learn how to help make things happen for you, and that he or she might thus be well-practiced in the art of getting you off?”

“You are really having this conversation with me? Really?”

Shrug.

“Dunno. But it’s an interesting thought, don’t you think? If you want to get someplace, it follows you have to figure out how to get there.”

“But what is the ‘there’ you are getting to?”

“The visual thing?”

“Yeah.”

“Hell, I don’t know. Maybe its peeling back the layers to get at the uninhibited joy that lurks beneath. Maybe that thing that scares men about women, the idea they can reach a place men can’t.” He grins. “Maybe this is what ancients were referencing when they talked about the ‘Goddess’ in women. I think I can see that. In you, for example.”

She looks horrified.

“Do not start describing…”

“Self-conscious, too,” he offers, and gets a punch in the shoulder and a dirty look for his trouble.

===

Back to our story …

Clayton Cubitt is playing with female things.

He says he’s making art.

Okay. I can buy that.

The art he is making is short films.

Of Orgasms.

Orgasms as art, as one interview characterized what Cubitt is about.

The concept is simple: a young woman sits at a table with a book she has selected to read from and proceeds to do so.

What happens next is filmed, all in one take.

The tension of each piece is the element of resistance. The reader is instructed to ignore what is happening to her as long as possible until, as they say in all the best Star Trek episodes, resistance is futile.

Shot cleanly in black and white, the womens’ skin and the flat table stand out in stark contrast against a black background, ensuring focus on the reader, and the expressions on her face.

And those expressions are the real art here.

Stoya

Beautiful. Open. Unambiguous, hiding nothing, sharing everything.

There are five videos released so far, with five different readers. In each one, the young woman is brought to orgasm, slowly, inextricably, by what we assume – and are told –  is hidden manipulation.

All the while they read on, resisting giving in to sensation.

In each of the videos, the women succumb.

I use the term ‘succumb’ intentionally.

It doesn’t hurt that the first video features the beautiful Stoya, perhaps one of the most beautiful actresses in porn. Stoya is fresh-faced, her light skin flawless in the black and white medium. As one person remarked to me, she looks like that prototypical girl next door.

In the Stoya reading, something else about her stands out – there is no sense of anything unusual conveyed, not subtle hesitations, signs of discomfort, self-consciousness. She is, as we might say in the acting profession, in the moment. Except she’s not acting. She’s reading. She will read until she can’t read.

So you – the viewer/ voyeur – know the setup. You know what is supposed to happen. So you wait.

It really is about the expression, I think. What happens to the face – in this case, a woman’s face during that special moment when nothing in the world matters except that moment.

Speaking of moments, there is always the question whether this is a ‘When Harry Met Sally’ moment.

Personally, I kind of think Cubitt’s films underscore why that scene was both true, and pure bullshit – ’cause either Stoya is one of the best damn actresses you’ve ever seen, easily kicking Ms. Ryan’s ass in the fake orgasm department  – or this is about as true a moment caught on film as you could ask for.

I think the real truth of  what WHMS told us is a lot of men are stupid when it comes to women. How stereotyped that perception is will have to be your call. Beyond that, the scene was bullshit, at least in the sense that if you are talking about real lovemaking, the kind that goes on for a long time, (as opposed to the two minute slam-bam-thank you ma’am stereotype comedians have done to death) there’s a certain point where the thought of things being faked do not follow (i.e.: Time + Making Love = Truth).

But, hey, what do I know? I’m a guy.

What I do know is I don’t invest a lot of time in things I do not like.

I doubt women do, either.

And that the converse holds true.

But I digress …

===

For more:

Stoya’s thoughts on the session are here.

More Hysterical Literature here.

November 18, 2012 Posted by | Hodgepodge, Tastes, Telling Stories | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Scheme of Things …

“It is a natural human impulse to think of evolution as a long chain of improvements; of a never-ending advance towards largeness and complexity – in a word, towards us.

“We flatter ourselves.” ~Bill Bryson

=====

Stephen Jay Gould and friend …

I was listening to the audio edition of Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” wherein the author discusses how one of the more common occurrences in the history of  life is that of species extinction. Very few species last a very long time. If fact, he points out, it is shown that the more complex a species, the quicker they go extinct.  That, in turn, got me thinking of something related.

Sometime back I was listening to Terry Gross’ “Fresh Air” on NPR. They were replaying an interview with evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, who had recently passed after a long struggle with cancer. During that interview, Gould discussed varying aspects of the Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium, which he developed with Niles Eldredge (as well as talking a little about his love of baseball, as I recall – he was quite the knowledgeable fan, and his books of essays are peppered with thoughtful observations of the game).

During the interview he got around to talking about where homo sapiens fits into the grand scheme of Evolution. Essentially, one of the interesting conceits of science in regard to Evolution in general, and Darwin’s proposals for its functioning in particular, is the perception that Man represents some sort of pinnacle of evolutionary development. (One can’t help note the parallel with the religious concept/projection of man being “created” in God’s image, a rather anthropomorphic element of the psychology of religion.) The idea of Gradualism, Gould felt, completely misrepresented what Darwin had observed. (For gradualism, think of those progressive illustrations that portray the evolution of man from a slouching, shambling creature to the upright, handsome devil he thinks he has become, and you see the idea in its most simplistic presentation.)

Gould offered that evolution was a development of fits and starts, a reaction to sudden changes in the biological status quo. (In keeping with Darwin’s observation’s of the variety of evolutionary changes witnessed on the Galapogos in the same species.) He pointed out that the most powerful evolutionary stories were not those of the singular complex flora or fauna that we mistakenly perceive as the height of evolutionary development of a species, but instead tales of diverse creatures like bats and rodents that blossomed into multiple evolutionary variations on the original theme. He felt that the most successful species were the ones that continued to adapt and diversify, not rarify into a few or even one branch of flora or fuana, like man and his simian cousins.

He suggested that homo sapiens and his cousins are not pinnacles of evolutionary development but, at best, twigs on the tree of life – not just man, but primates in general. Happy accidents (for us) of evolutionary change, that for all intents and purposes are in a perilous position from an evolutionarily perspective, particularly when compared to “lesser” animals like beetles and rats and even cockroaches in all their diversity.

Rather humbling, that…

=====

Postscript

Bacteria ‘R’ Us, by Valerie Brown

Killer summation:

… it is clear that bacteria are not what the general run of humans thought they were, and neither are humans. Bacteria are the sine qua non for life, and the architects of the complexity humans claim for a throne. The grand story of human exceptionalism — the idea that humans are separate from and superior to everything else in the biosphere — has taken a terminal blow from the new knowledge about bacteria. Whether humanity decides to sanctify them in some way or merely admire them and learn what they’re really doing, there’s no going back. And if there’s any hope of rebalancing the chemistry of a biosphere deranged in two short centuries by humans, it very likely lies in peaceful coexistence with the seemingly brilliant, deceptively simple life-forms comprising the domain Bacteria.

November 7, 2012 Posted by | Hodgepodge | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Starter Library of the Fantastic

This is one of those lists where you can be author specific, or title specific. We’ll have a little of both, I think. We’ll be adding to it from time to time. Also, this is just me. These aren’t reviews, aren’t even recommendations. They’re just the books that come to mind when I think of this.

These are big sci-fi/fantasy movers and shakers in terms of my life … no particular order.

We’ll start with the kid:

Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth.
Milo, Tock, the Humbug, Rhyme & Reason, the Awful DYNNE, the orchestra that plays all the world’s colors, the Soundkeeper, the Senses Taker … It really wasn’t sic-fi, or fantasy, but – for me – an allegory for realizing the wonder of imagination. Feiffer’s illustrations are beautiful, magic. From Wikipedia: In episode 13 of New Girl, Schmidt states that The Phantom Tollbooth is one of his desert-island books. Cece says that she also loves the book, to which Schmidt replies, “Of course you do. You’re a human being.” Captured my heart the first time I read it and remains the most remembered – and cherished – book of my childhood.

Dandelion Wine– My grandfather. This book makes me think of my grandfather. Of his world, a world I know of only in history and story, but which he knew with the immediacy of being there, watching it unfold. This books conjures that world for me, and a sense of a time lost to us in a way that seems, corny as it might sound, American in the way it speaks to us.Dandelion Wine is a story of imagination, giving substance to the waking dreams of childhood, the perspective of wonder and amazement that color a child’s view of his or her world.

Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers – Total military, reeking of testosterone … yeah, maybe not so politically correct to some ears, but a story well told, creating its world and staying true to it. A story of honor, duty, obligation. And Bugs. Lots of Bugs. Big, smart ones.

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings… all of a piece: the Hobbit, different in style and substance, is the child’s prelude to the War of the Rings. The former makes possible the latter … and the latter ruined fantasy forever for me, as nothing touches it. Nothing.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress– more Heinlein … A world more special than most I’ve read, immediate, dry, wry, and laced with practical, in-the-moment views of the human animal.

The Illiad and the Odyssey* – What can I say? These books are the core of the soul of Western Civilization. No other characterization is possible. Here, at the end of the day, is the home to which we return, the lost dreams of myth that still stir us, 2700 years later … Preferred translation: Robert Fagles.  “… in the end, the rage of Achilles is stilled only in the bed of Penelope.” – Thomas Cahill

The Hyperion Cantos.Dan Simmons is known to many for his deft touch with terror. And this series … and to a degree its sequel duology … channels a good deal of it. But these two books are more than that, perhaps one of the best SciFi stories ever told… Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion – if you love SciFi, it’s hard to believe you’d be disappointed.

The Mote in God’s Eye is hard sci-fi at its absolute hardest. Larry Niven and David Pournelle created what might be the most perfect First Contact story imagined. Interesting anecdote: edited by Robert A. Heinlein…

Men, Martians and Machines … more than any SciFi I have read, the four novellas collected in MM&M communicated the pure fun possible in the genre, In the years since, I’ve always looked for the fun in the narrative, that the writer is having a party in the middle of their creation. Eric Frank Russell had a gift for dry, self-effacing machismo unparalleled in SciFi story-telling. (Heinlein does pull it off in Glory Road.)

The Last Planet – Andre Norton. In a sense, you could point to any of the stories this prolific sci-fi writer wrote over the years. Her books always delivered, providing incredible adventures for stimulating young imaginations. But this story was special, almost heartbreaking, in an odd way bringing home the concept of loss in a way I could never of imagined….

Cosmos – This is the non-fiction piece. Carl Sagan at his most brilliant and poignant. This book (and companion PBS series) remain current, immediate, making difficult science concepts accessible. An examination of the history of human discovery, this is one of the most optimistic discussions of science – and the human animal – you will ever read.

========

More:

Heinlein. Yeah, he’s got two up there, and I could throw in more without having to think about it. Seriously, almost 50% of his library of writings qualifies, even works as late as Friday and Job. He simply understood. No other way to put it.

John Varley’s complete works. Probably the most important sci-fi writer the mainstream has never heard of (or, at least, seems to have forgotten). His Eight Planets short stories are simply outstanding fun, and the Cirrocco Jones trilogy – Titan, Wizard & Demon – was one of the strongest stories written in the era of its publication, featuring probably one of the greatest, if not THE greatest female heroine in SciFi.

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman 75-issue series of comic books – graphic art and storytelling unparalleled. Brilliant writing, a gallery of different artists of varying style and substance, all made perfect by the story being told …

Notable:

Phillip Jose Farmer’s “Riverworld” series, absolutely mind-bending: everyone who ever lived is reborn on the banks of a river that literally covers a planet. Adventure with Sir Richard Francis Burton, Alive Hargreaves, Samuel Clemens, Herrman Goering, Cyrano de Bergerac, King John and a cast of billions…

Ditto Anne McCafferey and her Dragonriders of Pern stories. The first decade was amazing, and the second was not bad, but after it seemed someone went to the same well too often …

Yes, I know I left out Assimov and Clarke and Silverberg … sorry … More to come…

September 12, 2012 Posted by | Hodgepodge, Tastes, Telling Stories | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Running

After a five month hiatus of somewhere in the neighborhood of 140,000 words, we’re back, sort of, having downshifted into editing mode for the release of Siren later this year. More on that later. 

In the next few weeks there’s going to be a bit of housecleaning, some updates to old posts, like the Best Erotica piece, some fun new stuff, some chat about the gentleman doing the cover art for Siren, as well as the art of orgasm and who knows what else. In the meantime, stay tuned …

Now, an older piece from our sister site, which is undergoing changes of its own since editors Stu and Reg were reported lost on their trip to Antarctica last February. More on that later, as well …

===

With one breath, with one flow
You will know synchronicity…
~Synchronicity, The Police

Heat Wave …

I stepped out of the garage Monday morning, took a moment and inhaled the city.

It’s an odd scent for this odd, crazy season of weather.

A scent of warmth.

We’re not used to that here, this year, around the City by the Bay, or the entire Bay Area for that matter. We been under a gray haze and unseasonably cool temperatures for months now, with occasional short periods of clear skies and even shorter blink-and-you’ll-miss-it heat waves … or what passes for heat waves in my magical metropolis. Truly a summer without sun.

A lost summer …

We’re having a heat wave.
A tropical heat wave.
The temperature’s rising
It isn’t surprising…

~Heat Wave, Irving Berlin

I dreamt of running last week.

Funny, that. I haven’t dreamt of running in all the time since my spine and knees finally told me “Enough!” long years ago. And now I’m reminded of that dream on this new, warm morning as I breathe in the fresh day. Synchronicity at play. Lots and lots of synchronicity this day, this odd, disconnected, want-to-throw-it-all-away day. Right now, in this moment within the dream of a moment, I think of running, of reasons for running. I long for running with an ache that eclipses the sadness I felt when I woke from that odd, wonderful dream of a run.

A little while later I’m listening to the Police on the drive to work, scent of fresh coffee filling the cab of the Buddhamobile. The sun is rising, emerging blood red from behind the San Bruno mountains as I head south on 280, thoughts roaming another time, remembering similar feelings of hurt and loss, of steady orbits thrown out of kilter …

… dreams of running.

Blue

Joni Mitchell sings a beautiful song on a sometimes melancholy album called, simply, Blue. This was my real introduction to Ms. Mitchell, whom I’d heard many times over the preceeding years but first really listened to while I was stationed in Germany back in the day, 18 years young and lonely and cut off from the familiar, but that is a tale for another time. Suffice to say she has since supplied a significant portion of the soundtrack of my adult life.

Blue came together after Mitchell’s breakup with Graham Nash and, if the content of the album is any indication, the split was deep and painful. And as the album illustrates, this is also one of the side benefits of this kind of angst – if you want to refer to it them as ‘benefits’ – of having creative talent: the ability to focus your anguish into a creation.

I digress. This song I’m talking about is called River. And as I’m writing this and thinking about that song I experience another of those moments, one of those soundtrack events from the unfilmed movie of my life. River is the song we were listening to when it became apparent that my first wife and I were going to go our separate ways, and in the remembrance of that instant the echo of its sad melody provides a nice … no, not nice … the word… phrase … I’m looking for is … a synchronically poignant … counterpoint to how I felt as the realization sunk in that our life together was drawing to a close. Of course, that was before the insanity set in and things really went to hell and the moment’s memory lost all of its resonance but that, too, is another story.

River is about getting away from pain. It’s also about causing it.

I’m so hard to handle,
I’m selfish and I’m sad,
Now I’ve gone and lost the best baby
That I ever had
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I made my baby say goodbye

More important – at least, from this Monday morning perspective – River addresses the complexity of living life, how the choices we make, conscious and unconscious, can often cause as much pain as joy, for ourselves and for those we love. And with that understanding comes the underlying need to escape, to throw off all the associated angst and skate away …

Problem here is skating away on a frozen river in these parts, even in the winter, is out of the question, and a downright insane concept in the summer.

But, then, insane is one of those things I do so well …

Walking in Your Footsteps …

But I’m not listening to Joni as I think on dreams, these dreams of running.

Soundtracks.

I had a several soundtracks I ran to, back in that lost time before the steady accumulation of age, motorcycle mishaps and long falls from heights worked their inexorably dark magic on my body. In this bygone era the Walkman was still a relatively new contraption, and I had mine, the small, hand-sized hunk of metal and plastic providing a rhythm and pattern for my runs while muting the sounds of the city, allowing insulation from the outside world. (Now, my good friend, Bob, who is still a runner at his *cough* advanced *cough* age would scoff at the idea of the music while running, I’m sure; but, then, he has the wide open spaces where city sounds do not intrude.) There were different soundtracks for different courses I ran, but the best all-around running music for a run anywhere, any time, was the Police’s Synchronicity.

I remember all of this … not from the dream but, instead, from its wake … and in the subsequent days I move through the here-and-now with this faint ghost of a past keeping pace with my life. Of course, memory is a fickle repository. What happened and what you actually remember of what happened are often two different things. So, too, likely  the immediacy of what is happening to me now shall change and reshape itself …

Synchronicity I through Synchronicity II. A continuity, a flow. The first song would kick in and I’d take off, working out a good stride, a sudden shock to the system and the heart rate goes up and the blood and oxygen flow and I’d lose myself to the next 25 minutes or so. And by the time the run was over it was always good, even when I had to work for it.

I’d like to be able to work for it right now …

Dreams

… there’s a (running) joke about runners that asks: “Why are you in such a hurry not to go anywhere?” ...

I miss the running … there’s the cathartic effect, for one thing, the ability to take yourself out of your life for a little while and just focus on the intimate immediacy of the biological machine that is your body as you go through the experience of exertion. There’s no time for thinking about crap on the run, stupid or otherwise … at least, not right away, not until you settle into your stride and stop thinking about what it is you are doing: running. That varied, of course. Some runs were tough – you never got in sync, never found a happy place where the run takes care of itself and instead it seems you’re constantly working it, searching for that happy spot where you hit your personal cruise control.

Other times you settle into a groove without even realizing … you’re just there and suddenly it’s just you in that random state of mind, a place of free-association and ADD, playing things out in the landscape of memory and imagination.

1983 was a pretty messed up year. Lot of stuff went on I’d just as soon not think about … and rarely do. But then come days like today, where I’m feeling the way I’m feeling, and it’s hard to keep the memories – good and bad – at bay. Even more interesting to me in an odd, almost detached way: I find I don’t want to shut these things out, that I’m almost embracing this odd, recurring empty feeling in my gut, like there is something there telling me I am alive with a forceful immediacy .

So I let the memory of that time wash over me this Monday morning, let myself rekindle the experience of me nearly 30 years gone – has it really been that long? – and feel my breath catch. It’s a big “Wow!” moment all over again, just like the night before. And then it’s on, and I hop in the Buddhamobile and head on out to greet my day, the first good weather day since I can recall for weeks, and I’m thinking and remembering and it is all good. Momentum: for all the negatives I noted in an earlier posting, it can be your friend, keeping your mind off things you don’t want to deal with, still another reason to long for the run. By the time I stop at the coffee shop in Daly City I’m living in two realities, and the longing for the one I can’t step into is surprisingly compelling and almost urgent.

Everything comes and goes
Marked by lovers
And styles of clothes
Things that you held high
And told yourself were true
Lost or changing
As the days come down to you…

~Down to You, Joni Mitchell

1983. I found a place on 10th Avenue, in the Inner Sunset, at the tail end of a nomadic summer of loss and homelessness, a near-death experience, borrowed couches and patches of rug to lay out my sleeping bag. This, of course, garnered a deep appreciation for good friends in hard times that remains in my heart to this day. By the end of that beautiful, terrible season I landed a job that paid me enough to get by and settled into pursuing a career in the theatre I was already having second thoughts about. And I eased into the process of gestating the new bits and pieces acquired, the knowledge of things I’d garnered about myself that I’d been long overdue in discovering.

Bittersweet growth and revelations, aches and pains and joys and laughter …

Life.

It’s a process.

I started running that fall. Geographically, I was perfectly set up for it – I lived a block from Golden Gate Park, near the the (old) Academy of Sciences and the (older) De Young that didn’t look like the grounded starship … … that rests upon the site in these modern times. That part of the Park was/is special to me, a recurring local in my life story. And as I recall these things on this Monday morning, within my waking dream of memory I delve deeper, almost another quarter of a century, remembering a child, wandering, rapturous and amazed through these places with his granddad, falling in love with planets and stars and dinosaurs. Being in this place again, living so close: in some respects it was like coming home. And back in 1983, running through the fresh, early morning light, breathing in the crisp, cool air that carried with it the hint of the warmth of the day to come, there came a healing comfort that worked its way inside my wounded heart and settled deep in the hidden house of my spirit.

Thats my soul up there …

Everyone runs, even when they don’t.

Running is something we are geared to do, an evolutionary, protective function built into our DNA.

Fight/flight.

Fear.

Fear is a biggie: when fear takes us we run, even when we’re standing still, ’cause when that fear of something, anything, becomes so great, we have no choice but to flee, to leave it behind, to save ourselves. We run from predators, from responsibilities, from strangers and friends, from anger, from rejection, from pain, from grief … from love.

It’s like that so often with a lost or broken love, this running, this longing for a river upon which one can skate away upon, away from owning up to the commitment of giving and taking hearts. The slipping on of the running shoes of the heart, leaving the wounded affection behind.

The reasoning –  why we run – can be confused and muddled – and maybe the runner doesn’t even understand why it was they ran. Oh, there are surface “reasons” we all can come up with, like the understanding that few couples love each other with equal intensity and suddenly, one day, the lover of lesser heart awakens and understands it’s time to go and before you know it the shoes are on and they are gone with barely the whisper of a breeze to mark their passing. But to the person left behind, this perception is often magnified, because they are left with nothing but the memory, with their heart in their hands, with the rain in their eyes, to paraphrase a favorite poet.

So why are we in such a hurry not to go anywhere?

=====

Many miles away there’s a shadow on the door
Of a cottage on the shore
Of a dark Scottish Lake…

~Synchronicity II, The Police

Sabotage...

There was a girl.

There is always a girl in these stories of lost love. Or a boy. Someone. Someone you cared about, often more then you realized.

You gave your heart to them, and they to you and, one day, they return it. Or you do. Something ends. Gets mangled. Dies. In that discordant summer of ’83, I was never sure which happened. Amidst all the other crazy things in my life that year, the loss of family, the end of school, friends disappearing down the varied pathways of their lives, the home I’d loved like no other lost forever … details got lost in the ebb and flow and I guess now, decades later, the specifics really don’t matter.

Suffice to say there were a lot of endings. A lot of loss. After a while, they tend to roll over you, becoming obscured in the actuality of the experience.

And the loss lived on … for a long, thoughtful, aching time …

I don’t pretend to know what motivates people to do some of the things they do. Heck, I’m not sure half the time why I do some of the things I do. But there are clues, stuff I’ve watched as I witnessed people dance a certain dance during the journey of my own existence. Most of the time the dancers aren’t even aware they are dancing. But they are. Maybe it’s about survival, an innate need for self-preservation of something. Much like the running DNA, this is probably an offshoot of that fight/flight gene our ancestors developed in the distant past, that special instinct that kicked in when impending change loomed on the event horizons of their lives.

An avoidance gene.

Or, as I’m thinking of it in the here and now, the sabotage gene.

It works like this: we undermine things when we want out of something we’re afraid of committing ourselves to, situations where we don’t trust our feelings. We just do. Often without even being aware we are doing so, let alone understanding why. Other times, maybe not so much. Something takes hold of us, a momentum (there’s that word again), and we’re carried along until we find ourselves standing alone in a cold and empty place, half-wondering how the hell we got there.

But the wondering does us no good. There are no answers because of the two people that can answer the questions one is gone … and the other stares back at the mirror with nothing to say.

That’s when we really run, if we’re not running already. We feel that pain and the loss and the end result of the fears that informed us … and we run. We run, trying to put what we feel or think we feel or thought we felt behind us, try to leave the pain and the uncertainty on and beyond the increasingly distant horizon. The farther we run, as the reasoning goes, the further behind we leave the wreckage and ruin of that sabotage.

The good part of all this is also the bittersweet part:

Eventually, we succeed.

(Originally published on Dark Puppy, August, 2010.)

September 12, 2012 Posted by | Hodgepodge | , , , , | Leave a comment

Moebius

Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius, passed today. He was 73. Neil Gaiman has a wonderful memory piece about the artist on his blog you can read here.

My first exposure to Moebius was similar to Gaiman’s, in my case while in college, when I first came across the early Heavy Metal (Metal Hurlant) magazines. His art was so unlike anything I’d seen prior, beautiful, otherworldly, featuring elongated characters and alien panoramas. His vision of the characters in American comics was equally unusual, giving them a dimension that seemed outside the reality of their normal portrayals. His work was also seen in a number of films, nowhere more pronounced than in The Fifth Element.

That said, ’nuff said.

Moebius - Iron Man

The Fifth Element

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Imagery | , , , | Leave a comment

Advice


The thing with a Muse is she can be a fickle bitch, here one moment, gone the rest and there you are, all alone and void of inspiration. And waiting for her to come back is only asking for more sorrow – she’ll make you wait as long as she damn well pleases, and fuck you very much if you don’t like it.

But you know how to get her attention?

Edit.

The last thing, the VERY LAST THING your Muse will stand for is you fucking with all this good shit she gave you. Edit, and she’ll come running and help you along. Every time. And the next thing you know, it’s like a friggin’ honeymoon all over again … until the next time …

December 29, 2011 Posted by | Hodgepodge, Telling Stories | , , , | Leave a comment

The Sasquatch Deconstructions: Rabbit Hole

“A novel: A long piece of prose with something wrong with it.” ~Neil Gaiman

It’s part five, and we’re in the Magic Theatre, in Nevada City.

“I have an opinion,” Sasquatch offers.

“Okay,” I return.

“You mentioned earlier you didn’t select Wonder Woman or Supergirl for your top ten.”

“He didn’t?” CJ is sitting between us, turning from Sasquatch to look at me, expression skeptical. “Why didn’t you?”

Pause.

“And why are we discussing this?”

“We’re trying to figure out Mc’s heroines.”

She looks at her spouse, then turns to me. “Well?”

“Too perfect.”

CJ turns to Sasquatch. “Too perfect.”

Sasquatch: “There’s a problem, then.”

CJ and I look at him, waiting.

“Your girls seem too perfect.”

I nod, and sit back. “You’re only talking the surface things.”

“Being politically incorrect, are we?” CJ teases.

“One way of looking at it. I could always say, ‘Hey, this is my story.”

“You could. That would be impolite, of course.”

“Yup. Which is why I won’t.” I change the subject. “I’ve been looking forward to seeing this flick ever since you suggested it.”

“You’re changing the subject,” Sasquatch observes.

“I am, aren’t I?”

“That’s what it looks like from where I sit.” CJ offers me popcorn.

I munch. “Would you believe I don’t really give it much thought?”

“No.” CJ replies. “I wouldn’t. Sometimes you think too much, I think. You not thinking is unthinkable, actually.”

Magic Theatre, Nevada City …

“You think?” We both laugh. “I don’t. Think, I mean. At least, not when I’m writing, not about much. The characters – the ‘girls’ – and the guys, of course – are who they are; they couldn’t be anyone else, so thought isn’t really necessary in that regard. They tend to tell me how it will be.”

“Which is right and proper,” CJ smiles. “Bad outcomes are associated with arguing with a woman. Ask Bob.”

Sasquatch rolls his eyes and I pause, thinking about the conversation. “Okay, this all started as something much different than what is has become.”

“Yes, I’ve heard,” CJ smiles. “A five page …”

“No, not that. Well, okay, but what it became, in retrospect, is really not much of a departure.”

Her expression is patient.

“It’s rumored I like women,” I offer. “Strong, self-assured women, particularly of the kick-you-know-what variety.”

“Yes. It has been remarked.”

“So the thing started. I started. Writing the story. One guy, one gal, one wild night. Sizzle.”

“Yup.” Bob munches absently on the popcorn, staring at the empty screen. “Sizzle.”

“I wrote a second story, same characters, with several more thrown in. Thing is, there’d been stuff percolating in my imagination for years before that.”

“So you were thinking about where you were going?”

“Yes. No. Maybe. Kinda-sorta. I knew I was going somewhere, knew what that somewhere was and what would happen – sort of. What I didn’t have was a good idea as to how. Only touch-points, scenes I saw in my imagination, snapshots of moments of significance. I just had this story – these stories – and stuff was growing, percolating. And a lot of ideas and concepts started to flow. Not all at once. Things didn’t coalesce all at once, not even vaguely. But I had all these things out there: ideas, rough drafts, several chapters of something here, a few chapters of something there.”

“Okay …” CJ lets it hang.

“Third book changed everything. Dunno what it was, exactly. Each part of this was originally supposed to happen in a 24-hour stretch … and the stories do, mostly … but the third was different. More characters, more thoughts, ideas … and things started to suggest themselves … not earlier stuff, not exactly … I started touching on myth, things I’d picked up through time, in college, stuff that’d tickled my fancy, waking creative things up … and one night, smack in the middle of the narrative I sat down and began a chapter where a character was going to tell a story … and I had no idea what that story was going to be.

“Think about it a moment. Up to this point, the focus of the stories was informed by the tension between Sam, Sienna and Melanie. They were the through-line of the action, the story was invested in their story. And then Obsidian Raine tells his story and everything changes. Only I don’t realize  – at this time – there is a change – I just keep telling the story.

“And maybe it really wasn’t a ‘change’, not when I first conceived it. It’s only later I start getting how Obsidian’s story has opened a door – the door, actually. It set the beginnings of the story’s underlying mythology. Suddenly all the earlier sketches and writings – all sort of began to orbit and gravitate to a universe where this weird construct that came to be known as The Worldship existed – started to shape themselves, work themselves into the ‘story’, building a history, a mythology.” I look at her. “Before Sam and Sienna and Melanie were ever written, I realized, I’d done a first draft of the first few chapters of the final age … and they became part of the final series because I made a conscious decision all these little sketches and drafts were events in a history I was looking for that would make this all much more than a romantic triangle.”

I pause, catch my breath. I note the woman sitting to my right is eyeing me suspiciously. “It’s a weird process,” I offer, smiling at her. Her return smile is tentative.

I think a moment.

“Maybe it’s what I imagined writing to be, basing what I thought to be its process on reading comics during the Silver Age, where you detected a seat-of-the-pants quality to the continuity of the growing universe of characters and their common history. You’d read a story and sense the writer and artist got together, trying to McGiver or McGuffin their way out of a jam they created for themselves and start incorporating references to other stories and fictional events, making them relevant and urgent to the story being told, changing elements of context. ‘We already have this great idea, so let’s add it to …’ Or someone really stinks up the joint, taking a book in a direction that is at odds with the continuity of what follows and you watch these guys develop story arcs that would correct the discrepancy, smooth out the wrinkles. Next thing you know, the world building becomes more complex, more sophisticated. Pretty soon it seems to be a self-perpetuating process.

“That’s sort of what happened with me, I think. I was filling in the blanks, fitting pieces into a jigsaw puzzle and seeing the big picture slowly revealed itself. Is still revealing itself, but now I’m at a place where I am very confident what the finished image looks like, and I am assembling the pieces with greater and greater surety.”

Next: The Adventure Continues

November 24, 2011 Posted by | Sasquatch Deconstructions | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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