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At Ian's Place - Part One, in which you may find a creature....

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At Ian's Place - Part One I got this house-sitting arrangement with Ian through a mutual. I live at his place when I'm in LA selling art and while he's on tour, which is usually. Like a hippie crash-pad with only two hippies, one at a time. I picked up his keys at one of Cosmo's parties; even then Ian was en route to the airport. "So you need my schedule? Should I email it?" I yelled a little over the music. I was super-thrilled about this arrangement, but the casualness and unknown variables perplexed me, especially in the middle of a party. Did my momma warn me about this? "Yeah, no, there's a guest room. Should be all made up, might be dusty." Ian seemed distracted, maybe feeling awkward, too. "That guy in the pink t-shirt is Jack. He's my manager. Get my address from him. Hey, take care, man, my ride's here. I gotta go. I like your boots." He handed me two keys, no keychain - one for a deadbolt, I assumed

At Ian's Place - Part XIII, in which we feel horribly invaded.

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At Ian's Place begins here: Part One Cosmo was pulling up to Arrivals just as I walked out the sliding doors. His car was immaculate as usual – like a commercial staging. Sometimes I wonder if he’s even real. “So, cool. Haven’t see you around in a while. How’ve you been?” Cosmo seemed perky, and kept looking at me while he wove his Lexus through the cars, scooters, donkeys, and chickens leaving LAX. Okay, it only felt like that.  If I‘d taken a car service, though, I could have buried my face in my phone and avoided small talk. Cosmo doesn’t small talk, which made this dialogue extra itchy. “What’s on your mind, Cosmo?” I sighed. “Can’t a guy be happy to see you? Okay.” He snapped his attention to the road. Whatever was on his mind was serious, and possibly awkward. “So I’m having a thing at my place on Saturday. You coming?” “Sure, yeah. What are you thinking?” “Excellent.” Cosmo's hands relaxed their grip on the steering wheel. “I have someone I want you to meet.”

Duck Bowling vs. Ill-timed Christmas Gifts

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*this is Annabelle, not a dalmatian. My mom used to give us our Christmas presents early because she couldn't wait, and then she'd buy something else to open on the holiday. She and I started a tradition some time ago, when we no longer wanted to exchange gifts, of mailing each other clipped advertisements. This game was called "This is what I'm not getting you for [insert holiday here]." T he best was an inflatable moose head . ...but then when I lived in Cali she mailed me a duck decoy with white spots painted all over it (to match my Dalmatian, she said.) Mom found the duck decoys tucked under the hedge when she bought her house (the one she moved out of without telling anybody.) A t one point she brought them to the house on Cabot street where I lived with Tim. W e lined them up in the yard and played bowling with his pro bowling balls. It was Tim's idea - an act of defiance against the brain tumor that prevented him from bowling, playing guitar, or anyth
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mycelium. is now available for Kindle at amazon.com . Paperback is coming soon.  I'll tell you all about it later; I'm tired like 30.  Thanks to everyone who had to look at n versions of this cover. I appreciate you!  

Duendes - Modern Folklore **PG LANGUAGE**

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Yeah, I'm between jobs, but I’ve got this car- it’s paid for. When I get a regular gig again I’ll finish painting that mural on the hood – sexy bitch riding a two-headed beast, yeah. Original design, by me. I went to art school back when I lived with my grandma. But Abuela died and they put me out on the street. Back then I had a job...kept working long as I could, living out of la Bestia here, but only so long the management gonna let you clean up in the washroom. Some dickhead walked in on me while I was shaving and told the manager. Fuck him. I don’t blame my boss, though. He let me park at his place for a while but it didn’t feel right. Guy’s gotta have some dignity, especially when he’s the only one left in the family. Last motherfucker right here. I get straight I'm going back to school. So this thing happened yesterday, it was weird. You know I keep my paperwork straight, I was a baby when they brought me over the border. Pa got shot and Mama got deported; I guess nobody

PEMDAS, the Ship's Accountant - A Fairytale.

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photo by Masreth Fatima P EMDAS was a sailor, or he wanted to be...in truth he wasn't a good candidate as he  had one short leg and wasn't older than 12 years. His mother sewed him excellent suits and sent him to the grammaticus for tutelage in exchange for her tailoring skills.  She never told her son that his father was Poseidon, whom she'd met once in the agora. The old god was drunk on mead and didn't seem very godlike at the time, or maybe his swagger was from lack of familiarity with solid land, not so much intoxication. He was alluring, whatever the cause, and she succumbed to his allure on a pile greens and potato peels behind stacks of chicken crates. "You're so smart, and so smart," she'd joke with her son, who also swaggered a bit due to his leg. "The grammaticus is very impressed with your mental acuity. And you have the best suits! One day you'll be accountant for a senator!" Pemdas did not want to be an accountant; he'd

Judg(e)ment Calls and Wild Pollinators

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I received an email invitation to Zoom with a new client just as I was about to mow the lawn. Instead of responding, I went on outside. She might not be thrilled to know that I chose yard work over speaking with her. But she does know that mowing is something I do to offset rent, and more importantly for catharsis. Mowing allows my brain some creative free roaming. I write blog posts while the catbirds give me dirty looks.  With deference to our bee friends, I mow around wildflowers, but not all of them. I have to gauge effort vs. expediency – how many extra steps will preserve how many blossoms for how many bees? When I make these decisions, I strive for balance. I’m lousy as a capitalist, because I keep shucking something to the little guy. That bee isn’t giving me any honey; I just want us all to win.  Bigger entities than myself make similar decisions every day:  Choosing where to draw state lines or voting districts Choosing whom to feed Choosing whom to vaccinate I know what’

Excerpt from upcoming book: That Internship I Didn't Take Is One of My Few Regrets

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As my guitar player got progressively ill, I tried to find ways to take care of myself, to keep alive what we’d built together on my own, on his behalf. One of the things we’d done together was learn to make  homebrew and engage with that community. Bell’s Brewery 's head brewmeister Mike had founded our homebrew club. Also, my hotel coworkers held “staff meetings” at Bell’s sort of monthly, so that venue was considered safe territory. A guy could let his girlfriend go there alone and not be worried that she’d meet weirdos or healthy musicians.  I was seated at the bar next to a couple of clowns I didn’t know and we were passing a magazine back and forth, laughing at some article. I don’t remember what it was about. But I yelled at one of them:   “YOU’RE TOO PARSIMONIOUS TO BUY ME A STOUT!”  A guy behind me turned and said, “Excuse me?!”  I half-apologized, because I was sorry for nothing, and told him I was yelling at the blokes on my other side.  Clowns, blokes. Whatever.

Another Fun Ride Murder - Flash Fiction

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"Open the gate. " The tall man in the disheveled tweed suit flipped open a badge and ID: Detective Robert Semones, Jackson, NJ Police . A nervous park attendant peered at the badge through the gate, then released the latch.  Semones ushered in his partner, Detective Grant Ambrose, and followed behind.  Ambrose touched his fedora and nodded to the attendant, who looked miserable. She latched the gate after them. "Which way, ma'am?" Ambrose asked.  The attendant waved a limp hand down a path already populated by police and Six Flags staff. Her eyes teared up; she made a croaking sound.  "Snake ride...follow them. Oh, gawd!" she wailed into her hands. Ambrose fumbled through his pocket for a handkerchief.  Semones slapped his arm.  "C'mon, Grant." Semones ambled up the path. Ambrose gave up chivalry and shuffled into step beside him. Camera bulbs flashed against the rosy sky of dawn like earth-bound images of the stars that were fading into

Getting the Cattle to Abilene as a Conceptual Skeleton - on Writing and Diversity

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Harry Youtt teaches a writing device he calls Getting the Cattle to Abilene. It means you can spend half a page on minutiae  –  the kettle falls into the fire, or Jim Bill shoots himself in the foot  –  but if you don't get the cattle to Abilene, your story has no raison d'etre , just a bunch of beef out among the tumbleweeds. Social rules and cues exist to herd us along the road to Abilene, in this case meaning where Society wants to go, the  marketplace where cattle will be deemed of some value. Cattle that never get to Abilene have no assigned value. Our protestations stand mute and don’t defend us in situations where we don’t want to be defensive:  We want so much, just this once, to fit in. So instead of jumping into the conversation, we run an eternal slideshow against the back wall, looking for a similar scenario with a positive outcome so we’ll have a template upon which to act. But if I’ve done my job right, there isn’t a similar scenario. I’ve tried to throw mysel

Emotional Diplomacy, and Where it Falters vs. Folk Music

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Our diplomacy suffers while it tries to defend patriarchal underpinnings. Maybe not explicitly excluding fat chunks of American society, but protecting the stability of a system built by and for elite white males who wanted to set up in the New World what they couldn’t have in the old . Those old white guys thought they were the oppressed; maybe they thought they were being fair. They literally didn’t see as peers all the people who didn’t look like them. There’s evolutionary precedent for that ( evolutionary sociologists will tell you all about it ) but there’s also empirical evidence that we’ve evolved the ability to get over ourselves. We don't need to serve that mindset. I'm attending  Folk Unlocked  online, an annual event which usually overruns a hotel with troubadours somewhere in North America. As a former hotel worker, I shudder but also want to join in. One of the panels I attended -  Anti-Racism: Setting a New time in Folk Culture  - included the voices of @joe_seamo

Passing the Torch: My Daughter is now The Mom Who Tells Stories, vs. Nobody Reads Dune.

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Alia's friends have always asked her:  How's your mom? Does she have any stories? I told her to refer them to this blog. It's not as fun as in person, but it uses all the same words.  Last night Alia did me to me:  AJ: Mom, did I tell you about Mackinac Island?  me: No... AJ: Okay, so when Polly and I were on Mackinac Island, we were just trying to get out of the sun and the heat... (me, internally: I did not know about this trip. I've never been to Mackinac Island.) AJ: ...and found a "strip mall" which was really more like a hallway with doors into 4 stores, and one of them was a book store. and we went in, and nobody was there because nobody goes to Mackinac Island to buy books... me: I would.  AJ: ::leans into the camera with a mom-face:: ANYWAY, there was nobody in there buying books on Mackinac Island. And there at the front was a display of the book Dune. So I yell, "Hey Polly, look! Here's the book where my mom got my name." And the tall,

Quick Update: Impossible Burger Again

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Since my first encounter , I've found myself thinking about Impossible Burger, which means I needed to try it again. I bought the chunk form, with the intention of making Shepherd's Pie. Usually when I buy a pound of beef, I fry it up and eat it just like that, sometimes with cheese & pickles, sometimes in a taco. Impossible burger is crumbling up correctly. My taste buds and my body inform me: This is not beef.  But they aren't complaining. It's not like the protest I feel when someone serves Imitation Crab Meat (which is fine if you want to tell me it's Scrod, because that's a decent fish.)  Shepherd's Pie may or may not happen; in the meantime, tacos are never wrong. These tacos gringos are great! Don't fear the Impossible Burger. Try it for yourself. Further Reading: Impossible Burger   Find out what's in it and how it's made. Dr. Richard A. Williams, Food Renegade   Richard is retired from the FDA but he continues to fight for us and for

Their Last Recovery - A Fable

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Marine anthropologist Dr. David Posey hefted himself from Mediterranean waters onto the deck of the Labyrinth  while his wife Patsy maneuvered the salvage net. “What on earth? So heavy…not just another urn…” Patsy mused. David was bursting with excitement as he untangled his find from the netting. “I think it’s gonna be a doozy, Pats,” he said. “Those aren't broken handles – more like horns. It doesn’t feel like marble, quite. We might just finally get out of the recovery business!” He scraped away a few barnacles and found an eye underneath. It blinked.  The Poseys took the minotaur home and set it up in their spare bedroom. They sold the Labyrinth and retired to take care of their last recovery. Fans of the classics, they called him Minos. When Minos was small, they visited the library and museums as a family, but the zoo seemed inappropriate. As he grew, he drew more attention; soon they avoided going into buildings and spent time on walks among the Botanic Garden's hedges.

I Tried the Impossible Burger and Lived to Tell About It

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FDA renegade & food economist Dr. Richard A. Williams  asked me to try the Impossible Burger. "Just try it," he said. We sometimes drink whisky & bourbon together; I know his taste and trust it. So I tried. In the package, it certainly looks like burger. They took the time to make something the viscosity and hue of fresh meat-juice (I say it like that in case it freaks you out that your food is bleeding.) I read the label carefully - it's made with soy protein and potato protein. The ubiquitous " Natural Flavors " is included - this could be MSG, or edible yeast, herbs, bark, buds, fermented dairy products, even meat or eggs according to this article:  Natural Flavors: Should You Eat Them?  Imagine flavoring your fake meat with meat...ingenious.  Editor's note: I've eaten turkey bacon for years because I don't like pork. It's better than it used to be. I don't know what they make it out of now; probably bacon. Following the cooking in

Diary of a Missing Blow-Up Doll Girlfriend

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from The X-Files Diary Entry: The UPS driver sheepishly handed over the box: It had been opened, and closed back up with both the original tape and black electrical; dented, stained with coffee and probably beer. A puncture wound through the corrugated cardboard revealed a bit of flesh and a mournful blue eye... ...as I opened the box, I realized: this was not the doll I ordered. She gave me a sullen glare, lipstick smeared across her vinyl cheek. Slowly, regrettably, I closed the box and dialed UPS. We'd meet again, that brown-shorted man and I. * Diary Entry: I've been waiting since before Thanksgiving. Shipping lines are jammed this time of year, I know. But I felt a shiver creep from the nape of my neck and settle in my groin when I saw that pink paper stuck to my door, flapping in the breeze: SORRY YOU WERE OUT. As I read fervently through the instructions - please let there be an option to leave a signature - I broke into a sweat. Yes! I signed the paper and left in exac

I Figured Out Why Men are Stupid - a dating manual

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If you came here to be outraged, I'll have time for your arguments after the show. I promise. Men try to build themselves up to an ideal and, man-style, hyperfocus on that archetype until they conflate it with reality. Reality, for our purposes here, means the entire world. Next, men pick an Ideal Woman. Here, Ideal Woman means a collection of parts - the usual boobs, thighs, but also brain, manners, talents, adoration from all who follow her.  But see, men are enumerating themselves as a collection of parts, too. This study is wrong: Our Brains do not see men as whole and women as parts. Hair (or not), physique, car, career... Our society is so visually-oriented; we all do it. But I'm not here to talk about society. click hear (ha ha) for an appropriate soundtrack by MC Mel Once Ideal Woman is chosen (and it's always the same girl for all the guys - no, it is) men start deciding what sort of man should deserve this Ideal Woman, and start "working on themselves."