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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. I stuffed them in…

The Best Birthday Gift Ever is a Story - guest post by Bill Goodell

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Songwriter Bill Goodell is the originator of West Coast Folk Rock, meaning the genre title, and the owner of a Seagull 12-string guitar. Bill's also a fan of my blog, to the extent that he had a story for me. I'll tell it in his words. Sorry about all the caps, but it was my birthday and I was excited.
Bill: Ok, I have a very odd*...but then that's why I think you might appreciate it...story for you. I'm sharing it in the spirit of a birthday gift, though it's certainly a paltry offering. I'll preface the long version with the short...I had a dream about you a few days ago...now for the longer, including back-story.
Me: oh STORIES ARE THE BEST GIFTS!
Bill: Back story...I used to go to Taiwan for two weeks every year on business, visiting about two dozen yacht makers. I learned a lot about the seedier, manufacturing areas of Taipei and Kaohsiung. One thing that stuck in my mind was that the concrete floors of some of the shops would be covered in purple stains. I a…

The Mechanic - a fable in six parts - Part Five

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The Mechanic begins Here.Rather than risk an accident, the Mechanic looked for other manuals to read when the sun came up. The best one was also archaic; it showed pictures of machines with parts that seemed impossible. This manual was labeled LEONARDO DA VINCI. The Mechanic found another manual of the same name, and this one took him aback.With his chest-plate lying on the worktable, and an ubrrarnhil sticking out of his midsection, the Mechanic sat on the padded bench to look more closely. This manual showed schematics similar to those he'd drawn in his manual, but the author of LEONARDO DA VINCI seemed to have disassembled a human. Each schematic was carefully drawn, parts at angles that surely would have been uncomfortable for the human. The Mechanic wondered if these humans had been put back together, and whether they functioned after disassembly.Maybe this was the purpose of drones, he thought. Maybe humans, when their glitches failed them, cannot be repaired. Maybe their pr…

Cakes - a history of birthdays vs. mine, tomorrow, during pandemic

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Today, at the market, I almost cried at cakes. I circled the refrigerated single-slice section at the grocery store. I just wanted one slice, for celebrating my birthday. I didn't want to make my own, though I did that most of my life - traditional Angel-food, eggs separated; sculptured dragon made from a Bundt pan; doubled-inverted Bundt cakes dressed to look like a pumpkin. I was an ambitious baker in my teens. I thought about a multi-layer chocolate cake with thick, fudgy icing. But that's the Cake of Public Acceptance - the one you bring to potlucks. Everybody loves chocolate, and so do I, but no. I'm the only one at this party so I don't have to worry about impressing anybody.Red velvet is the Cake of Sharing - I used to show up at my friend Meg's house with two red velvet cupcakes, because she liked the ones from the bakery near my house. But that's Meg's cake.German Chocolate - this is the Cake of Childhood Expectations, my mom's favorite; I used …

The Mechanic - A fable in six parts - Part Four

Part Three can be found here.
Inside the cabin, he found no sign of recent human or drone activity. A work table was in the center; that was familiar. The Mechanic's attention was drawn to other items inside the cabin, strange things that might give him a clue what it meant to be human. A device against the wall, a container of glass - did it pertain to human sustenance? A dark stain in the bottom like liquid settled into nothing. Storage cabinets at face-level held metal cans and cardboard boxes with their contents escaping through jagged holes. Cloth he knew to be  human coverings hung from pegs in the wall.
In the corner he found a soft pad on a low bench - is this where humans rest? - with a manual lying on it. A manual might bring comfort where everything is unknown, the Mechanic thought to himself. He lifted it carefully, in case it might fall apart. Its name was written large across the cover: THE WIZARD OF OZThe illustration on the cover of the manual included a small human f…

The story of Debbie's Parking Spot vs. Bunty the Cat - an example of why I'm divorced.

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There are things you need to know before I proceed with this story: Bunty was a unique personality by cat standards. I was once gifted a sign that said DEBBIE'S PARKING ONLY. All Others Will Be Towed. We lived on the 2nd floor of a DC rowhouse converted to apartments. And my husband was a chronic liar.
He lied about things there was no reason to lie about, like saying his parents were very tall. They were both taller than he, but in reality very average. He once avoided answering his phone for a week because he'd told people he was going to London for The Ashes test cricket series. He once kept me awake all night trying to convince me that his female friend wanted him to be a surrogate father but needed my permission. She did not appreciate being called at 3 AM to verify this shit.
He was never happier than when he got someone all wound up.
At the time of this event, I was house-sitting in Silver Spring and also working at the hotel in downtown DC. I'd stop by our house on my…

The Mechanic - A fable in six parts - Part Three

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Part Two is here. "Meh, this bastard again. Ain't seen you in a while, eh?" Bits of oil-cooked particles sputtered out of the dirty human's mouth when he spoke - this is how they feed themselves, the drone surmised. "Hey, Yo, bring that chicken over here while I see what's wrong with'm. And my drink." The drone so badly wanted to shudder. The human called Yo came over, piece of chicken in hand, and peered into the drone's open interface."Yer funny when you talk to 'em," said Yo with a giggle. "Ain't no ears nor any mouth. They mindless, them. Oops, I dropped a bone in there...you see it?" Yo let out a big laugh."Lazy do-nothing!" The mechanic who had hold of the drone's faceplate was laughing, too. "Keep it up you're gonna be out there with'm. Fey that chicken bone - it won't hurt him none." And he put the protective plate back into place.Mindless! The drone was outraged. Among his …

The Mechanic: an Interview via Facebook Messenger ***Spoiler [ REDACTED] Edition***

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Thoughtful questions are the best, and they aren't easy to come by. These Thoughtful Questions came to me via Facebook, proving social media doesn't have to be evil. This interrogator has read The Mechanic in its entirety. He's a friend of my guitar player, and now a friend of mine.
All three of us read the short story Exhalation by ****ing Ted Chiang, and you should, too. His book by the same title is exponentially mind-blowing. I have to keep putting it down because I can't take the heavy doses of reality.
On the side, I'm editing Mel's amazing story Sum. I've been writing letters to her main character, and sometimes he writes me back. Her character and I discussed similarities between my little story and his.
I have yet to meet Melinda Smith face-to-face, but we are friends and team members.  She fires my dopamine and oxytocin, too. This is not an endorsement of Facebook but a pulling-back of the curtain. I think it's important to understand how the tec…

The Mechanic - A fable in six parts: Part Two

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Part one is here. The Shop operated overnight so the work chain wouldn't be interrupted. Managers rarely popped in to see what the mechanics were doing. Thus, these humans didn't take steps to present themselves well. They were shaggy and disheveled; they were loud, and casual about their duties. While being casual was reprehensible from the perspective of work chain, the drone-to-become-mechanic found these humans fascinating to observe. "Yo, get me that hyperstereoscope...no, the other one," bellowed a mechanic who had a cigarette in his mouth and a tiny screwdriver stabbed into the drone's foot. Ashes fell between metal joints. "That can of air, too, heh. Thanks, Yo." Compressed air blew the ashes into the workspace - reprehensible by work chain terms."Whaddaya think caused the glitch? You think he's trying to get out of work?" The other mechanic laughed at his own joke."We better watch it or he'll be after our job next!" T…

The Mechanic - A fable in six parts - Part One

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In days long gone, which also could be called days of future yet unseen, a certain robot drone went missing from a local factory. News articles ran briefly on page four; people in coffeeshops and pubs speculated on who could have pulled off such a masterful theft, leaving no shred of evidence. These learned people agreed it must have been an inside job.The bot in question had a short file of maintenance issues: it was prone to falling out of sync, and sometimes Quality Assurance inspections found it to be missing some redundant part. Tech mechanics would either find a replacement for the lost hardware, or fashion one, or sometimes put the bot back together without the missing piece. Quality Assurance placed the mechanics on probation and ordered remedial training (if they were caught.)Eventually the missing drone's space in the work chain was filled with a newer model drone and an insurance claim was filed for the missing equipment. Page four went back to reporting power outages a…

If you miss me... Twitch vs. Live Guitar in my Studio

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Good News: One of the side-effects of social distancing is that we're learning internet savvy (hashtag amirite?) It's good for us old dogs to learn new tricks. Thanks to the DanFam™ I'm now visiting Twitch several times a week...     You: But that's a gamer thing...Me: Oh, but that's not all! Last night I watched @glassMoonman make glass pipes...I've been watching Dan Navarro live-stream from his living room on Saturdays. In an effort to convince myself that this is a gamer thing, I also found @Lauzeta Folk and visit them a few times a week for Garrotíns.  I also regularly leave @GuitarShreda practicing while I work - Twitch is a place where a lot of classical guitarists stream their practice. And then there's @JonComposer, who doesn't sing but composes live with his interactive audience. Right now I'm hanging out with @ThirdFretCapo and it seems to be a holiday - everyone's gifting subscriptions to each other. I finally got what I wanted - a gui…

Yardwork Zen: Making Progress vs. Looking like Progress

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You take a few in-between moments to check social media,{current news/facebook rants/stats on Medium} to see if you're (still) relevant. It's readily-available dopamine. Over time, those stats equate to oxytocin synthesis if they continue to mount.
I check my business email regularly while I seek a paycheck; I'm online to find editing clients, pimp out my illustration skills, work out logistics for another art exhibit. Between moments I tend the yard. 
I'd do it anyway, but I'm compensated by a rent reduction and I am grateful. There's a lot of work that needs doing here. While the mower was out of commission, we received 2 weeks of rain and the grass got almost calf-high. I had to make several passes of incrementally closer shave to get it back to normal maintenance level. Some areas of the yard grew tall weeds, and these need to be taken back manually. I know there are boulders and stumps in those areas. And bees. I got stung twice this week. The poison ivy ras…

Patreon vs. Learning to Read - A Trifecta.

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I'm sinking in Blursday, y'all. I want to make the best use of my unemployed time; at the moment a lot of that is deprogramming from the last day job. I will be fresh and malleable by the time I find a new gig. I'm also trying to re-structure (because o-r-g-a-n-i-z-e is a scary word) the "projects" I hope will segue into respectable work: editing, painting, sculpting, writing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. I've got a really big plate.

Patreon is a great way to support artists if, as Diana Gonzalez says, you don't want or are unprepared to purchase their work. Going forward, my Patreon account will be family-friendly and focus on my creative endeavours. All the bullshit will be here
Hey, mom! I'm learning to c-o-m-p-a-r-t-m-e-n-t-a-l-i-z-e. At least that's the direction I'm aiming the mower.
All this juggling means my toggle is broken again; hence the blur. I know that input and output need to be balanced, so I've cleared a space on my…

Did I Just Overshare? Who Cares...

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I just had an interesting conversation about oversharing - something I've always been told I do - something everyone seems to be doing as social distancing continues.
I do it because I don't understand where the lines are or why truth shouldn't be shared. I always thought I was reporting, and that honesty is supposed to be, well, honorable. How did this get difficult?

I think oversharing should be normalized. Maybe we need rules. If someone overshares with you, there is no action required on your part. Acknowledge that you heard them. If you don't understand how the overshare relates to the conversation being had, ASK. Every conversation leaves several people holding things that desperately need to be said, and the things need to be included in a conversation for context. There are thousands of millions of stories out there waiting to be told. You can't know whether they're important (to you.)
Get used to accepting things that don't fit your narrative. Leave …

On Slop in Genre: A Letter to All Industries

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Fusion is perhaps the greatest love of my life - right next to Tamarindo and letterpress chapbooks. By fusion I mean the fuzzy area where any two things collide: Asia and Europe, death metal and bluegrass, Latino-Indian cuisine (it is hard to find; you should seek it out.) Intercultural marriages. Family dynamics. Psychology, both ab- and normal.

I realized something today which I think is hilarious: I understand the concept of genre as pertains to music (I create for myself a great visual of record store bins) but when it comes to literature I'm flummoxed - or so I just said to my guitar player. She loves playing with my crazy brain.

Mötörhead was formerly known as Hawkwind. Based on their name, Hawkwind got filed in the Country & Western section of the record store - I'm told sales were not so great*.  At the local level - local being me - occasionally I'll write something that I know is a country song. It first happened in 1985 when I was living in Mississippi, in ac…

Permutations: My time with Kenajuan (classic literature c* word notice - you've been warned.)

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Kenajuan remembers me. This is important because I move around a lot; I worked in hotels for decades, so I've met legions of humans and made at least transient connections. It's important because I remember almost everyone I meet, but that's how I'm wired. It's surprising when others remember me, and those who do matter.

Health or aging is taking its toll, and honestly I'm not sorry I can't remember which year it was when Buck Dharma accidentally left a penny in the vending machine across from my office. I'm not sorry I can't remember the name of the guy I gave it to (you want to be a better guitar player? You have to practice - but here, take this magic Buck Dharma penny.) I do remember he said, "Who's Buck Dharma?" and I took it back.

Kenajuan and I worked hotel front desk in Kalamazoo - this was around '98. He wanted a suggestion to read for an audition, so I gave him something by Henry Miller from Tropic of Cancer:
“At night when…

This Blog Post Has a Soundtrack - where you got yourself

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why does pain so familiar feel so good?  I play the same song over & over opening the same vein over & over recounting the crossroads where
the path could have been different
mighta been
coulda been
shoulda been

woulda been
never matters anyway
It's not regret I'm feeling, no I'm playing Physical Graffiti to remember a particular permutation of me.
The me who helped break a puppy out of dog jail. ...the one who once took a bunch of the blinky traffic signs and put them in someone's yard like their front door was blocked off...and then another day did the same thing but blocking off Douglas, one of the main streets in Kalamazoo. THERE WASN'T ANYTHING ELSE TO DO.