Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, This Is How You Fail To Ghost Him, by Ash Reynolds

“Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.”

― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Flora Street, Dallas, Texas

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Monday, February 15, 1999. It is so weird to read about my reaction to technology from (only) twenty years ago.

Eyelid rub

Shit, what a long, tiring day. Oh, look at the top of the page, it’s a Monday. No wonder.

I sat the morning through a two hour Lotus Notes class, a professional trainer, twenty years younger than me explained in excruciating detail everything I already knew and displayed his ability to scrunch up his nose when I asked a question.

Meanwhile, the hourly folks in the class had a lot of trouble. I really felt sorry for them, the instructor would rattle off, “click here, go back, minimize.” He would always say click when he should have said double click. Not that the poor hourly guys can double click anyway. They are used to terminal emulators with tacked up dog-eared Xerox copies of lists of odd key combinations. They’ll be alright, they’ll get gooey eventually. Those tough callused hands trying to push a mouse around, that look of confusion; it’s a difficult world.

I spent most of the class leaning slightly forward with my eyes closed rubbing the corners of my lids.

The rest of the workday was meetings. More lid-rubbing.

I didn’t really do anything, did I? I sure was exhausted when I came home. My head was splitting, my right ear isn’t working again, I should have gone to a cycling class, but I booted. I should have played with the kids, worked on the garage, written some stuff, read some chapters, but I didn’t.

All I managed to do was flounder around horizontally, watching some sports on TV.

And rubbing the corners of my eyelids ’til the headache finally went away.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

This Is How You Fail To Ghost Him, by Victoria McCurdy

from Monkeybicycle

Victoria McCurdy Twitter

A Pendulum Day

“I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”
― Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

But if fell later as they tried to move another piece. Note the rare “suspended section” of blocks. I’m not sure of the physics of leaving a few behind for a handful of microseconds.

Along with my Difficult Reading Book Club I’m plowing ahead through Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum – ten pages or so a day. It’s enjoyable, though truly difficult. I feel I should be looking up every odd word – searching out details on every unique concept – but there are pages to get through so I soldier on. Have to come back later. I’d take notes – but they would be longer than the tome itself.

One concept that haunts my dreams is the eponymous swinging orb. I knew about the Foucault Pendulum, of course. I have even seen one – a big, famous one – at the Smithsonian in Washington (though it looks like it isn’t there any more). I knew the theory, that the pendulum is actually always going in the same plane, but the earth moves under it. The more I thought about it the more I realized it isn’t that simple.

What follows is some boring, technical crap. If that doesn’t interest you, here’s some cute cat photos.

Ok, I can imagine a Foucault Pendulum at the North Pole. I can see it moving around in 24 hours.

But, I thought, what about one at the equator? Wouldn’t it be stationary?

So I looked it up online and I was right. It would not move.

But what threw me off were the latitudes in between. Because there is an angle between the string of the pendulum and the rotation of the earth – it rotates, but slower. The closer to the equator, the longer it takes to go around. The precession period for an ideal pendulum and support system is 23.93 hours (a sidereal day) divided by the sine of the latitude. In the middle of the US, this is about 32 hours. This period of time is called a pendulum day.

sidereal day(23.93 hours)<solar day(24 hours)<pendulum day(varies by latitude) (though I guess there is a latitude near the north pole where the pendulum day is the same as the solar day….)

The problem that I have is this: imagine the pendulum at our latitude… it goes through a 24-hr. cycle… now the pendulum is in exactly (more or less) the same spot that it was at the beginning… yet the pendulum, because the pendulum day is longer than 24 hours, is not at the same spot.

If the pendulum is truly staying the same… and the earth moving beneath it… why doesn’t it return to the same relative spot in 24 hours?

I spent way too much time thinking about it. I kept thinking about cones.

I’m not sure I’ve completely worked it out – but this site helps. Here is the meat of the text:

The ‘plane’ of the pendulum’s swing is not fixed in space

It is worthwhile correcting a common misunderstanding about Foucault’s Pendulum. It is sometimes said (perhaps poetically) that the pendulum swings in a plane fixed with respect to the distant stars while the Earth rotates beneath it. This is true at the poles. (It is also true for a pendulum swinging East-West at the equator.) At all other latitudes, however, it is not true. At all other latitudes, the plane of the pendulum’s motion rotates with respect to an inertial frame.

It is easy to deal with this misunderstanding. Consider a pendulum at the equator, swinging in a North South plane. It’s obvious from symmetry that the plane of this pendulum doesn’t rotate with respect to the earth and that, relative to an inertial frame, it rotates once every 24 hours.
description

Alternatively, consider the motion of a point on the earth at a place that is neither at the poles or the equator. During a day, a vertical line at that place traces out a cone, as shown in the sketch at right. (If the earth were not turning, the half angle of the cone would be 90° minus the latitude.) During each cycle of the pendulum, when it reaches its lowest point its supporting wire passes very close to the vertical. So, at each lowest point of the pendulum, its wire is a different line in this cone. This cone is not a plane, so those lines do not all lie in the same plane!

For yet another argument, consider the motion of the pendulum after one rotation of the earth. With respect to the earth, the period of precession of the pendulum is 23.9 hours divided by the sine of the latitude. For most latitudes, this is considerably longer than a day. So, after the earth has turned once, the pendulum has not returned to its original plane with respect to the earth. For example, our pendulum in Sydney precesses at a rate of one degree every seven minutes, or one complete circle in 43 hours.

(I apologize for emphasizing this rather obvious point. I only do so because a correspondent has pointed out to me that many web pages about the Foucault pendulum – and even, allegedly, a few old text books! – make the mistake of stating that the pendulum swings in a fixed plane while the earth rotates beneath it.)

So, what is the path of motion of the pendulum? Remember that the point of suspension of the pendulum is accelerating around Earth’s axis. So the forces acting on the pendulum are a little complicated, and to describe its motion requires some mathematics. (Indeed, even talking of a ‘plane’ of motion on a short time scale is an approximation because even in half a cycle the supporting wire actually sweeps out a very slightly curved surface.)

Now my head hurts. Unfortunately I can’t relax. I have my reading to do.

Sweet dreams.

Lake for Sale

“The lake of my mind, unbroken by oars, heaves placidly and soon sinks into an oily somnolence.’ That will be useful.”
― Virginia Woolf, The Waves

A quick sketch I made of the Balmorhea campsite.

When our kids were little, we had a popup camper and would go camping almost every weekend, in addition to longer trips a couple times every year. Texas has some really nice state parks – a varied assortment arranged in a ring around the Dallas Metroplex and we could choose our direction and type of park.

One of our favorites was Fairfield Lake State Park located a few hours south of Dallas, right off of I45. It was a heavily wooded lake and was a very, very picturesque and uncrowded spot. The lake had a power plant at one end (which didn’t interfere with the camping – it was only visible if you hiked around the lake a bit from the camping spots) and I understood that the main reason for the lake was cooling for the plant, which ran on locally mined coal. The warm water was supposed to be very good for fishing – and the woods were full of wildlife (you had to be very careful driving at night to avoid hitting deer).

We haven’t been there in a long, long time.

So today I saw an article in the newspaper. Over the decades, the coal has been given up and the power plant closed. And now the entire lake is for sale (apparently the state only leases the land for the state park).

From the article:

Property features include:

  • Recreational lake, estimated to be 50 feet at its deepest point, good for fishing, water skiing, boating activities, and swimming
  • Mature hardwood forest with array of wildlife including whitetail deer, armadillos, river otters, beavers, squirrels, foxes, bobcats, songbirds and bald eagles
  • Pristine lake water with a thriving trophy bass population as well as catfish, bluegill and sunfish
  • 10 acres of wetland ecosystems
  • 8+ miles of highway grade blacktop two lane roads and bridges
  • Three concrete boat ramps with truck and trailer parking
  • Combination of underground and above-ground power throughout the property
  • Massive 4,350-foot earth-fill dam with Low Hazard classification from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Blake Hortenstine, Broker/Partner of Hortenstine Ranch Company, says in a statement that “a water asset of this magnitude is virtually impossible to find anywhere in the lower 48 states, and combined with the land development possibilities and amenities, is the only offering of its kind.”

I have this fantasy of buying the property. I would, of course, allow the state to continue leasing the park for a dollar a year in perpetuity. I’m not sure what I would (other than build a nice weekend house) do with the rest. It might be a good place for an eco-friendly development….

It is a fantasy. I only need one hundred and ten million dollars or so…



I checked the archives of my old blog and found a record of a trip we made down there over Thanksgiving in 1996 – a quarter of a century ago.

Wednesday, November 27, 1996

Beer bait liquor and gas

I spent the first half of the day packing – I made a list of stuff to put together – I couldn’t have done anything without the list.

Toys

Baseball gloves and ball
one basketball
one soccer ball
one football
one box of toys
one box of kids books
kids tapes to listen to 

Writing Material

Black cloth covered loose-leaf notebook.
Small spiral bound notebook.
Pens 

Music

Boombox
Headphones
CD's (two little carriers full) 

Clothing, and cold weather gear

Long johns
Sweat suits (2)
Gloves
Knit hat
Sleeping bag 

Shaving kit

Shampoo
Shaving cream
Razor
Deoderant
Ibubrofin
Nose drops 

Dutch ovens(3)

Candy worked until one – we had planned to hit the road quickly and get to the campsite about 4PM.

We left town on time but ran into a huge traffic jam north of Corsicana. This is the same traffic jam were caught in a year ago. Because of construction the interstate narrows to one land each way for 11 miles. On most days it is no problem but this was the day before Thanksgiving. The hundreds of thousands of people going to Aunt Sara’s house for turkey and fixin’s clogged the highway.

On a one lane road – no one can get through faster than the people before them. Slowly the traffic backs up farther and farther until it is stopped for twenty miles. It is so much more frustrating to be stuck in stopped traffic for hours out in the middle of the country than it is in city rush hour. We crept along. I sat there staring at a sign that said:

Bennies Burgers
Beer Bait Liquor Gas
We’ve got it all!

I have this image of hordes of rednecks hauling ass in their pickups around central Texas eating some greasy burgers from Bennies out of paper bags trying to decide if they’re too drunk to fish.

Finally we reached Corsicana, the kids needed to go to the bathroom so we pulled into a McDonalds- with playland. Soon after the traffic broke up and we made good time on into Fairfield. It was well after sunset and I didn’t want to mess with cooking in the dark after we set up camp so we bought some fast food in town. Our first two meals on our camping trip were Chicken McNuggets and Taco Bell Bean Burritos.

As we were driving the last few miles down the pitch black park access road the kids discovered reflectors – attached to signposts, shining back red yellow orange at us as we moved along. One sign had the silhouette of a deer on it. Nick, of course, asked what it meant. As soon as we had explained it to him a large buck with a full set of antlers bounded out into our headlights. We stared as he marched out into the center of the road, then accelerated into a gallop as he disappeared into the dark woods. The deer was beautiful and ghostly – bleached white by the glare of our headlights.

We reached Fairfield State Park and I set up the popup in site #99. This wasn’t the one we had intended to get, but it was a large site, and turned out to be fine. I started a campfire and we sat around it for awhile, then it was time to go to sleep.

The night was cold, Candy, Nick, and the giant killer dog slept at one end of the popup under an electric blanket while Lee and I huddled at the other. Lee would roll out from under the covers and get cold and wake up. Then he would curl up in a little ball next to me until he warmed up – turned into a hot little BB next to me under the covers.

Thursday, November 28, 1996

A cold, rainy day

It was cold when I woke up so I dragged myself down to the public restrooms for that most decadent of camping luxuries – a hot shower. We have been to many state parks and other campgrounds but Fairfield State Park is our favorite. Candy says it is the trees and the deer, but for me it is the showers. This park was built before the days of energy conservation and the water comes out scalding and steaming.

The morning was fine – cold, cloudy, but bearable. I set up our large tent next to the popup for the kids to play in. The kids rode their bigwheels, clattering and chattering along the park road, to a playground. The made a huge fuss along the way. Lee and I found cattails by the water, the kids called them corny dogs. Lee likes to play the “hot dog man,” pretending to sell sticks from under the popup’s wings – he’ll tell you what your stick/hotdog has- mustard, ketchup – he tells me mine has hot sauce. With the cattails he now sold corny dogs.

Around noon it started to rain – a cold drizzle which put a damper on everything. I overheard some campers talking, the Cowboys beat the Redskins. I didn’t even try to get the game on the radio. Camping – even in the faux wilderness of a state park – I don’t miss such trivialities as sports on TV.

A kid and his teenage sister came over from a campsite across the road and played with Nick and Lee all evening. Lots of raucous fun. I cooked chicken with tomato sauce in my medium Dutch oven and baked some corn in the small one. That was our Thanksgiving dinner. Not too bad, not at all. The only problem was the cold rain, it especially bothered Candy.

We ran the heater in the popup so it wasn’t cold sleeping. The ceramic heater with its fan is noisy in the quiet of the woods, but with the load sound of rain on the roof all night, the heater wasn’t noticeable.

We turned on the radio to get a weather forecast. It said thunderstorms tomorrow and Saturday. It that’s right and it’s raining again tomorrow we’ll give it up and go home. I can deal with the rain, but for Candy being cooped up with two wild kids and a wet smelly dog in the little popup is no fun at all.

Friday, November 29, 1996

We give up

Woke up in the popup, it was warm, we’d run the heater all night. The rest of the world was a cold, wet sea of mud. It had rained hard all night, was still raining, with no sign of letting up. So we decided to bail, to get the hell out of Dodge, to make like a tree and leave, to make like a hockey player and get the puck out of there. Better luck next year.

Packing up was no fun. The tent was soaked, it rained particularly hard while I was gathering everything up. We managed to wrestle everything into the van, the rooftop carrier, and the popup itself. I even managed to pack the firewood we hadn’t burned. So off we went, back home, two days early, but no worse for wear.

Drove back home through the backwoods. The best sign going north was for Bubba’s Bar-B-Q in Ennis.

You Never “Sausage” a Place
Bubbas
Serious Bar-B-Q
ATE miles

National Taco Day

“Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer.”
― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

Taco Selections at Taqueria Tiquicheo
Lengua Tacos from El Padrino

The kids went out for tacos from one of the new “gourmet” taco places that have vomited out across North Texas (and I assume every other city). You have:

Taco Bell/Fast Food—Authentic Taquerias—Tex Mex—-Gourmet Tacos—-Taco Food Trucks….

A whole world of tacos.

But I am an old, fat, diabetic loser trying to eat as few carbs as possible… the world is slipping away from me. I had to get tacos wrapped, not in a delicious tortilla of some kind, but in a piece of lettuce. One beef and bacon and one hot buffalo chicken.

Still, it was pretty good.

Sunday Snippet, Tiny Courtesies by Bill Chance

“You have carjacking back in old England?”

“Carjacking?”

“People walk up to you, steal your car.”

“No, but thanks for asking. We have people who clean your windscreen against your will, but, er…”

Joe barked with contempt.

“The thing is,” explained Dirk, “in London you could certainly walk up to someone and steal their car, but you wouldn’t be able to drive it away.”

“Some kinda fancy device?”

“No, just traffic,” said Dirk.”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Highway 75 at Sunset (click to enlarge)

Tiny Courtesies

The end of the week, danced around plenty o’ disasters (mostly rain related) at work, he feels alittle lucky. But sooner or later the bear’ll getya son, so he had better keep a keep eye out.

Driving in to his place of gainful employment was a springtime storm adventure. The faithful AM radio traffic newspeople (no choppers up today, though) talked to him from the waterproof clock radio in the shower, warning of accidents on the I635 loop and at La Prada & Gus Thomasson (his two direct routes into work) so he mazed his way through middleworkingclass two bedroom neighborhoods. Lots of running water, had to be careful, flash floods will kill ya. Looking through the blurrr of defective needreplacing rubber oscillating blades, his eyes gauging depth of street rapids, waves, rills, whitecaps where only asphalt should be, alternating the ventilation from too hot defogger as long as he can stand to cooler direct blowing outside air ’till the windshield fogs and he can’t see, back to the heat. Cycles oscillating: blades, ventilation, radio stations (The Edge, Classic, Stern, Talk, News, Sports).

At Motley and Gus Thomasson he had to make a bad left in front of Fazio’s Discount Emporium. It’s a left into six lanes of traffic, no light, only a red octagon. In front of him was a school bus. Now a little disposable paidfor dented car can inch out dodging through a turn like this (who wants to live forever). But a school bus has to wait for all six lanes to clear, there isn’t enough room for them to wait in the median. They sat like that, he was watching four kids in the back window, for twenty minutes. He wanted to yell, “Go for it, they’ll stop, nobody’ll ram a schoolbus for Christssake!” But he didn’t cut to the left, go around, though he wanted to and thought about it. He waited his turn though he was late for work.He began to realize that little bits of civilization, tiny courtesies, are what are missed, are important.

Especially when nobody knows (though I guess that y’all know now, don’t you).

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Thankful, by Ash Reynolds

“Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night.”

― Irving Berlin

Thanksgiving Square, Dallas, Texas

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Monday, March 01, 1999.

Lunchtime

It’s lunchtime on Monday, the first day of a new month.

The calendar might say it’s still winter but you’d never know by looking around. The temperature might get to eighty today but it’s ’round seventy-two right now, as perfect as can be. Candy gave me a dollar and I found seventy -some cents in the floorboards so I could afford two bean burritos. So I drove to the little park near my work and am sitting at my green picnic table. The winter sun burns down through the leafless trees, warm on my skin. It also washes out the screen of the laptop, hard to see, hard to type; but that might be my only complaint. Even my pager, my ever present belt-bee, is quiet today, I hope he stays that way for awhile.

Two little girls are at the new playground with their mom. It’s sort of a cheap, little playground, but the girls don’t seem to mind, they’re giggling up a storm. There is this green spiral pipe, set vertically around another central pipe. I think it is intended to be used as a ladder. The girls are small enough that they can slide down this spiral, spinning ’round and ’round.


“OK! Here I go!” one calls out and twists down, spinning like a loose wingnut on a bolt.

I wonder what about this day these little girls will remember when they are my age. The spiral will be a tall tower, not a six foot piece of pipe. Will they remember the weather? Of course not. I never thought about the weather when I was little, never thought about if it was hot or cold or raining or snowing. Well, I guess I thought about it if it was snowing. That was something special.

I splurged yesterday and bought myself an insulated-stainless-steel-spillproof-tapered-on-the-bottom-to-fit-most-cup-holders drinking cup. It was an impulse purchase, on a display in the aisle when I went out to buy some drain cleaner. When I found out it cost twelve dollars I almost put it back. I can afford it, but I’ve been well conditioned to the “thousands of starving third world children that can’t even afford a plastic spill-proof mug, let alone a stainless-steel one,” feelings of guilt about spending more that five dollars on something that I don’t actually need.

But I bought it anyway.

There’s a little blue paper, a flyer, on the ground by the trash can, let’s see what it is.

It’s from a local church, the Praise and Prayer Notes from yesterday. The scripture on it is from Revelation which is usually not a good sign, but this little note is fine.

A list of things to be thankful for:

  • C… N… is back from Russia and feeling better,
  • D…K… is recovering from a triple bypass,
  • J…A… has been accepted at Multnomah Bible College,
  • B…E… says that L… has been seizure free for 6 months and is driving again.

This is followed by a list of things to pray for:

  • M…S… is six months old and may need surgery, pray for the doctor’s appointment on March 15th,
  • R…P… has had an asthma flareup,
  • S… W… needs sale of property and finances for a wedding,
  • J… B… died in a skiing accident ten days ago.

I think I’ll praise this warm, quiet hour. The feel of the sun, the sound of the birds. The cheap, spicy burrito. My steel cup of ice and Dr. Pepper that doesn’t leak.

I think I’ll pray for those two little girls, pray that in forty years they remember how happy they were sliding down that green spiral. I pray they don’t lose those giggles.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

Thankful, by Ash Reynolds

from love letters magazine

What I learned this week, October 1, 2021

Paths, 2014, by Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, Hall Sculpture Collection, Arts District, Dallas, Texas

Strangers less awkward, more interested in deep conversation than people think

After the shitstorm of the last few years, we are all looking to make some new friends, or at least new connections. It’s a daunting thought, especially for people my age. Maybe there is hope.


Perforations in the roof of the Pavilion in Pacific Plaza Park, downtown Dallas, Texas

National CD Player Day – October 1, 2021

The first CD player was sold on October 1, 1982. I bought my first player not long after that… a couple years maybe. It was an amazing piece of tech to me… I was amazed at the fidelity. Only recently (because of Spotify) did I finally move my rack of precious audio CDs into a closet for storage.


Vietnamese Pickled Carrots & Daikon Radish Recipe (Đồ Chua)


The trail runs through thick forest near the south end. While I was taking this photo – my tire was losing air.

Secret, hidden gem’: New Dallas forest refuge was once the Elm Fork’s most notorious illegal dump

Frasier Dam Recreation Area


My coffee thermos.

How to Make Better Coffee


We’ve Reached Peak Wellness. Most of It Is Nonsense.


The Most Important Device In The Universe Is Powered By A 555 Timer

Foucault’s Pendulum

“I love the smell of book ink in the morning.”
― Umberto Eco

Half-Price Books Clearance Sale, Market Hall, Dallas, Texas

It’s that time again, my Difficult Reading Book Club has started to tackle another tome.

It started with Gravity’s Rainbow. I saw this sign, a couple of years ago, at The Wild Detectives bookstore in Bishop Arts. We met there (a bit of a trip for me) every Wednesday evening for several months as we slogged through the difficult, but fantastic, book together.

Sign at The Wild Detectives bookstore, Dallas, Texas

Then came COVID, and a long pause.

But, using Zoom, we started up again virtually, and read The Brother’s Karamazov and then Murakami’s 1Q84 together.

I’m not sure how I think about the whole Zoom meeting thing for book club. I miss the one-on-one, of course. But it is such a long trip to the book store, and there is something interesting about the dynamic of talking to those little heads in boxes. I think everybody being at home, in a place they are comfortable, makes the conversation interesting. Still….

And now we’re doing another. Last night we had our kickoff meeting (no reading yet) for Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum.

I’m stoked. I have never read Eco before – though I bought a copy of The Island of the Day Before and prepared to read it a couple decades ago – never started. There are some familiar faces in the Zoom and some new ones. Some of the folks are particularly interested in Kabbalah – and are reading it for that reason. We discussed conspiracy theories in the opening meeting (as an icebreaker everyone told their favorite conspiracy theory -mine was that Any Kaufman faked his own death).

I mentioned that there is a real Foucault Pendulum in Downtown Dallas, in the lobby of the Hunt building near Klyde Warren Park. A field trip is in order.

We discussed challenging vocabulary and decided that each meeting each person is to bring a word they learned from that week’s assigned reading. We discussed reading translations vs. books written in English.

Now I’m stoked again. I need to go read.

Short Story of the Day, Poetry, Billy Collins, by Erren Geraud Kelly

“The mind can be trained to relieve itself on paper.”
― Billy Collins

This woman was waving a turkey leg out of her food trailer. When someone came up to buy one, she said, “Let me get you a fresh one hon, this is my demo model, I’ve been waving it out this window for hours.”

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Saturday, September 29, 2001. Exactly twenty years ago.

Sidekicks

Nicholas had accumulated two free tickets and a two-for-one coupon for the Dallas Sidekicks indoor soccer team game tonight. He asked a kid from his team to go with us and Candy and I used the two-for-one.

Dallas has built a new sports arena – but the Sidekicks, practitioners of a non-major, second or third tier (for Texas, anyway) sport remain in the old, smaller, less tony, and luxury skybox-less arena. Fine with us. The smaller place is more intimate and you can see the game better.

Most important of all, the nachos (actually a skimpy paper holder with some stale chips and two tiny plastic cups – one full of motor-oil-like fake cheese sauce, the other loaded with some sort of brown bland bilious chili-resembling substance) are sold sans jalapenos, but there are condiment stands nearby with all the sliced peppers you can pile on. I piled on plenty. As a matter of fact, I made two trips from our seats up and back to the condiment stand for more hot peppers. I was going to buy a Diet Dr. Pepper but while I was in line the guy in front of me ordered a beer and it simply looked too good to pass up. The beer and nachos came to nine dollars and fifty cents.

That’s what sports is all about, isn’t it. I was sitting in a cramped plastic arena seat drinking a five-dollar lukewarm beer and eating grease laced with so many hot peppers the top of my head sweated. I had to keep rubbing my hair because so much capsicum-induced heat was rising up and shooting out the top of my head.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

And a piece of poetry for today:

Billy Collins, by Erren Geraud Kelly

from West Texas Literary Review

A Descent Into the Mythos

“There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

From my old web-site – from 2003 or so.

Since my porcine companion, Portobello Poblano, (we call him “Porto” for short) and I had a grand day of adventure planned, we decided to have a hearty lunch at the restaurant in our hotel, the Akimbo Arms. Porto had the fried chicken and cream gravy which is too greasy for me, so I ordered the fruit plate.

The mangoes, strawberries, and plums were wonderful. The melon balls, green, yellow, and fleshy orange were passable, cool yet a tad slimy. I was horrified to discover there were no grapes on my plate (and they are in the prime season now!).

I complained to our waitress, a stoic, statuesque woman, until I was literally blue in the face. Finally she left to fetch a bunch.

Where is she? She is the slowest waitress I have ever seen! It is as if she is made of stone!

The young man aged before our eyes. The day darkened, he changed. His painting, though, became developed in color and enveloped in light. This is art. The artist grows old but the years of experience are preserved in the bright colors on his canvas.

We are approaching the heart of the Mythos.
The Dallas “Sacred Can”
A mural, a memorial to the creators of it all.

The Rhinos were being overrun by their mortal enemies, the Hephalumps. Their horrible Hephalump claws were penetrating the inner perimeter defences. It would be only a matter of minutes until the Hephalumps were dancing their victory jig over the corpses of the enemy. Soon it would all be wails, horror, the grinding of horns into aphrodisiacal teas.

The only recourse available to the heroic, if dim-witted, Rhino commander was to call in an air strike on his own position. On his command the orange-flamed lead finned death screamed from the green afternoon sky.

The only victor on the field of battle today would be the angel of death and her minions of buzzing flies and conqueror worms.

We came to a door.

Adventure

A door, a door to where?

Electric Frankenstein (“Takes on Texas!”)
Chumps
Huge Peter
Orbit Room
BARFeeders
Pump ‘N Ethyl
Spazmis
Urine Trouble
The Murderers (on tour) (all ages)
Hi Yah!

Visa and MasterCard Accepted

We had credit cards, so we went in.

The yuppies were advancing on the Mythos. Buiding their condominiums, their gated communities.

In self-defence, the denizens built this moat. Lined its walls with the most effective totems in their arsenal.

The spiked foot
The burning bathtub. (Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans).
The crazy old man.

That’ll hold them yuppies, keep the barbarians at the gate.

We were now past the paintings and the only remaining clue to the mystery that was the Mythos were the Cylinder Mounuments. These were everywhere, lined up, these wooden shafts. The local denizens decorate these poles with metal and paper. They are studded with small strips of steel, hammered in or shot through by spring loaded guns. Starnge cryptic messages are sometimes attached, extolling the virtues of various mysterious meetings, shindigs.

What strange ceremonies lead to the decorating of these poles? What goes on in these promised parties?

We came around the corner and there it was. Up high, next to a drawing of the king’s head and crown. The roundear king’s grubby hand reached up towards the words. Small print, yet legible, the words, the words. We had walked so far and braved so many dangers to find these words, this phrase.

But what did they mean?

This is a place that in which you are in a joint of pleasure and pain. A possible everlasting joy of never reaching the end.

Ah was watchin’ mah TeeVee when this voice comes on and says that it was time to activate the ‘Mergency Broadcast System. The voice said it was only a drill, but I decided not to take any chances. I ‘membered that there was this place where the street goes under the railroad tracks, an underpass, I ‘membered that there was one of them yeller ‘n black deals, fallout shelter signs. So me ‘n Ol’ Paint, we walked down to the spot. Ol’ Paint is too old for me to ride ‘er, so we both walked.

Ah saw what I thought were rooskie planes flyin’ overhead so we giddyuped under those tracks as fast as we could. Ol’ Paint ‘n I huddled ‘gether in that there underpass, which smelled o’ wino piss somthin’ awful, I’m not afeared to tell ya, fer what seemed like hours and hours. We heared what we thought was the end of the world, this terrible rumblin’ and shakin’ and what not. We were plum scared, we was, I’m not afeared to tell ya.

Turned out out it was only a fast frieght out o’ Beaumont, carryin’ imported machine tool parts and tank cars of acrylic monomers ‘cross that bridge over our heads, but we didn’t know any o’ that, not at the time anyhow. So we were sorely relieved when that policeman told us nothin’ was goin’ on and rousted us otta there. He told us to move along and we went out the other end from the one we come in on.

And there he was. Painted up on the pillar ‘tween the two roads, one goin’ in, the other out. The darm Cactus Cat-Dog Angel, painted up there, pretty as real life. And twice as scary too. As relieved to find out the world wasn’t endin’ in a nucular holocaust, that Cactus Cat-Dog Angel shore gave us the willies, chillin’ right up our backbones.

We’d both heard the stories. ‘Bout the Cactus Cat-Dog Angel showin’ that day out in Abeline, ’bout how the sun had turned red and the wind blew hot, and all the birds flew off, squakin, in fear. Folks don’t talk ’bout much mor’n that, they’s too skeered. In Fort Stockton, ‘n Monahans, ‘n Tulia too, all those towns where nobodys got nowhere to go ‘cept out into the open land with the sagebrush and mesquite when the scary things come.

Since that day, Ol’ Paint ‘n I go down to those tracks and check on that ol Cactus Cat-Dog Angel, makin’ sure he ain’t up to nothin’ bad. Sometimes I leave a little beef jerkey, or a half a plug of chewin’ ‘baccy there by the wall, Ol’ Paint ‘l leave a hank of fresh hay or a piece o’ salt lick. Just to be sure.

Don’t hurt nothin’ to stay on the good side. Y’all know what I mean?

The Giant showed up out of the blue. Pulling his wheeled cart he tore through the parking lots, grabbing cars left and right.

He chose carefully, not the most expensive or most exotic vehicles. He picked certain ones because he liked their colors.

The police were overmatched, they were forced to call out the big guns, the army and Toho studios.

But as the tanks were assembled, as the planes took to the air, the Giant decided to leave, as suddenly as he arrived.

“I think I hear my Mommy calling!” were his only cryptic words as he left.

At the edge, we found the artists working on the Mythos itself. A young man, painting. Extending the wonder, the art, the legends on and on, into the darkness.

Porto and I climbed up through the crack, hammering steel pegs into the rough rock as we went. We used our trusty sisal ropes to pull our bicyles and other provisions up after us.

We were afraid the Mythos would be extinct on the surface, but as our eyes became used to the sunlight we spotted a sign that indicated we would have a clear view ahead.

One look at the wall, with its Atlas and winged globe, fantastic preacher, and purple eye creature, showed us that the Mythos was alive and well in these here parts.

We were now at the end, the last door. Set behind one of the mysterious metal encrusted cylinder monuments was the nondescript entrance. As Porto and I were examining the portal, a dirty man shuffled up to us on the street.

“Cain’t y’all read! It says there to Leave yer rad’ators outside!”

Properly warned, we leaned our radiators up against the monument, pulled open the door, and passed through.

She was handsome, he was beautiful. They were in love. They were doomed.

The dark slick night, red hotel sign blinking vacancy, reflected in wet asphalt of the parking lot. He sat in his car outside room 15, idling the engine. A cold, hard mist continued to fall.

On the dash was an empty bottle of Jonny Walker Red, on the seat beside him was a loaded 38. She was inside the room, excited, expecting romance.

“Sorry, honey, not tonight” he said to nobody in particular as he backed out into the night.

Porto and I were worried that we would be lost in this savage land. The symbols and streets were mazelike and confusing, promising unknown pleasure or death around each blind corner.

Luckily, the denizens of this place had provided a map, applied with cunning dexterity and accuracy to an side wall. My companion and I stopped for a pull on our refreshment flasks and discovered the map.

As a matter of fact, I practically leaned my bicycle upon the very lines before I was able to decipher the ‘glyphs and determine its meaning.

Lady luck and her elusive lover, Good Fortune, have both smiled upon us this very day.

A crack a creavase.
Tremendous hideous strength.
Sound of rumbling, steel and rubber thunder.
Through the crack of light
giant luminous buildings, floating on air
and green green cash

Down here the lost wander
sleeping unseen in the open
smells of filth, smells of alcohol
Shanty smells, in the clear, yet dark

Climb, climb if you dare
If you can
Don’t forget us
Thought we know you will.

We’ll forget you too.

There is no way that I can put down in this humble notebook all the wonders that Porto and I saw, heard, and smelt on our perilous journey through the Mythos.

At the end though, as we were returning to the paddle boat, was a surprise for me. A very personal surprise.

Totally by accident (dare I say it – by Chance?) we met up with Betsy, a woman I was in love with a long, long time ago. It was a youthful, torrid affair, but I was soon put off by her sometimes coldness, and the terrific differences in our backgrounds. So I grew proud, and resentful, and then came that one terrible, regretful night, when I drank too much cheap wine, and said things that should have been left unsaid.

We have drifted far across over these years, but meeting her again brought the memories back. Her regal air, that precious spit curl on the side of her head, those firm naked breasts.

Betsy and I will meet again next week. What will happen? I don’t know. I’m wiser now, I can see clearly what I gave up for pride long, long ago.

Here in the Mythos, the tales and stories of the real world filter in. But they become distorted, warped by the peculiar needs and desires of the people here into lessons for their own place and time.

“The little engine that could” is a mural in honor of the little steam train that almost made it over the mountains, bringing toys for the deserving girls and boys. He almost made it but needed help from Arcturus, the eagle, and Wilbur, the strongman of the mountains.

But when the engine reached the city on the other side, he didn’t mention Arturus or Wilbur and took all the credit for himself. He was hailed a hero; songs, books, and films were made in his honor. Parents would tell the fable to their children in a pitiful and futile attempt to spur the kids on to a purposeful and brave life.

At night though, the engine would hear the caw, caw, of high and distant eagles. When he rolled past the woods, it seemed that someone would throw mudballs and faint curses from the deepest forest.

It wasn’t long before the little engine was replaced by diesel-electrics. He was left to rust on a siding, croaking out his tale to any unfortunate passersby. His story lives on, but he is known now by the few that know him as a pitiful old loser, whining away on lost glories.