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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

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 exact

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."

Me-shaped hole* vs. Pandemic Exhaustion

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If my math is correct, and I'm not sure it is, I'm looking at four years since moving into my Tiny Cottage. Four years post-divorce. The years I've been alone are many more than that.  Through January of this year I was caught up in creative mania; just when I wasn't sure I could keep up the pace, we got locked down. Every aspect of my day changed into a new pattern I had to learn. Neuro-diverse people don't usually do well with change, especially when it's sudden and drastic and mandatory. Change is exhausting. Then there was that election that had all our hackles up, and now COVID-19 numbers are on the rise again . Solitude is welcome right now. So much alone-time makes for so much introspection. More than ever, I'm cognizant of negative space, like that empty spot beside me where I'd thought a partner would reside. I understand that space - in fact, it's shaped like me. We take care of each other. I surprise me with flowers or rocks, sometimes ma

The Bronze Star - A Posthumous Award to Alexander Curry Ewing, WWII Glider Pilot

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Family is a funny thing. For me, it's funny like a congealed salad mold, or maybe those tiny canned hot-dogs usually meant for babies. It's a novelty with dubious beginnings and we're not so sure we want to hand down the recipe. AC Ewing was my father's father. I remember meeting him once at his home in Kansas. He had two matching dogs and a dining room that was open at both ends. I remember being asked firmly to Go Sit Down, and stop going in circles like a train (which is what I was doing in my mind.) I remember leaving with the impression that AC and his second wife didn't like kids much. But this story really begins with my father. He took us to Oklahoma every summer to visit his grandparents, but not AC. He took us to Texas with his second wife, but ultimately lost custody. Eventually he severed ties with all of us, but I got his phone number through a genealogy contact. My dad asked me if any of his kids had graduated high school, and he sent me $50 for the ph

Forget the Bottleneck - John Timaeus on Amazon POD and other things...

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I recently had a conversation with ex-theatre board member John Timaeus about a lot of things. Adjunct to my role as blog editor at Igneus Press , I'd been researching publication fulfilment options and... Okay, I'm just gonna dive in and let you see how we ended up talking Linux , indie publishing, and cooking soup. JT:  This (pandemic) has been such a mind expanding time. It's been a PITA , but I think maybe we all needed the push to do something different. me: EXACTLY.  I've been frustrated with the big publishing bottleneck forever but not quite willing to go indie. New things are evolving and it's amazing to watch. JT:  Forget the bottleneck. Amazon self-publish works. me: It does, and yet it allows every level of quality through. Curation is still needed. I learned some stuff over the weekend. PAUSE: Turn the lights back on a minute. Let me tell you about The Author Encounter  and their #IndieAuthorDay, in which I learned about ISBN numbers; about how many edi

The Mechanic - a fable in six parts - Grand Finale

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Part One of The Mechanic begins here .  Against the side of the cabin leaned a pile of wood, once carefully stacked but now riddled with holes and falling to sawdust. Here is where the Designer found an axe, like the one in the OZ manual. He hefted it; there was an interesting balance to this tool. The Designer swung its chiseled edge against a tree, and the axe stuck there.  He pried loose the tool and found another tree, one that looked about to topple, and plied that with the axe until the tree fell to the ground. Then he cut the felled tree into similarly-sized portions and stacked the wood against the cabin.  The repetition of axing and stacking soothed him; it was nice to have a routine again. It was nice to create a routine for himself, rather than being handed a set of instructions, with no team members to monitor for glitches. A Manager? No, a Woodsman. A surge of energy welled up in him, the way he'd felt when his team had won awards. He decided to walk back to the road

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 stain