Showing posts from October, 2020

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

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 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

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

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.

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

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 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***

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

The Mechanic - A fable in six parts: Part Two

Mussel-eaters ,  debora Ewing Part one is here.        The Shop operated overnight so as not to interrupt the work chain.  M anagers 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, 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'

The Mechanic - A fable in six parts - Part One

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 sometimes put the bot back together without the missing piece. Quality Assurance would then place the mechanics on probation and order 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 filed for the missing equipment. Page four went back to reporting power outages and meat-pr