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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 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, who knows what else; 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 pa

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

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. Ma

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

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. The manual seemed brittle; he lifted it carefully, in case it might fall apart. Its name was written large across the cover: THE WIZARD OF OZ The illustration on the co

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 o

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 outrage

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

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skeletal crow I left in a parking space for no reason 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