Jack-o’-Lantern

“For these beings, fall is ever the normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth….Such are the autumn people.”
― Ray Bradbury

My son Lee came over to visit last Saturday – to hang out and watch Tulane win a football game (both his school, Tulane, and mine, Kansas are 3-0 on the season – which doesn’t happen very often). He brought a pumpkin and, although Halloween is still a bit off he carved it up into a skull. Candy loves skulls. He still has his artistic talent.

Lee’s jack-o’-lantern, with candle inside, out on the back porch.

The Pulp Tarot

“I stayed up all night playing poker with tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died.”
― Steven Wright

Box Cover from Todd Alcott’s Pulp Tarot

I guess it started when I was in college. A friend of mine, a woman I had more than a little crush on, offered to do a Tarot card reading for me. Now I am not what you would call a mystical person, I don’t believe in any supernatural power of a Tarot deck (or much of anything else, really) but I have an open mind. I don’t remember any of what she said… but I do remember enjoying the reading, enjoying it a lot.

So over the many (too many) intervening decades I always had a soft spot for the Tarot cards. As I learned more about the world I came to realize that there can be power in the cards that have nothing to do with supernatural influence. There is wisdom in mythical archetypes… and a set of cards can be a tool to help draw truth out from the subconscious fog.

And then I stumbled across a book at the library – The Creative Tarot by Jessa Crispin. It opened me up to the idea of using a Tarot deck to generate ideas for stories or other fiction. I bought a Rider-Smith-Waite traditional deck and found that it worked surprisingly well.

In the meantime, I discovered an artist, Todd Alcott – that did work I really enjoyed. His most common work are fake pulp book covers based on music. I haven’t bought anything yet – mostly because I like all of it and can’t decide. Take a look at his Etsy Store – there is some great stuff there.

Then I discovered that he had a Kickstarter and had done a Tarot deck in his personal style – The Pulp Tarot. I wanted one, wanted it bad – but I was too late – all the copies were sold.

Card Zero from Todd Alcott’s Pulp Tarot

Then, not too long ago, I was monitoring Todd Alcott’s Instagram Page and discovered he had a second printing of his Tarot deck out. I ordered it immediately.

My deck came in the mail today. It’s pretty damn cool. It’s like having seventy-eight little paintings in a cool box.

I can see myself collecting Tarot decks – I hope not… but maybe….

Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Foondball by Bill Chance

The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.

—-Walt Whitman

Lee, trying to pull the ball loose.

Foondball

Craig’s son called him at work – he was home from school and a friend, George. was at the house. He wanted to know how to type on the computer. Craig gave him quick instructions on how to start up Word, how to save his work, and how to print it out when he was done. It turns out his son and George had an idea for a new sport, which they called Foondball and they wanted to type out a list of rules.

When Craig came home he found his desk littered with sheets of notebook paper covered with crude drawings of athletic fields and different dimensions, markings, and goal layouts.

On the screen was their rules for Foondball:

  • The game can only be played with 6 to 12 players.
  • You may use your hands to throw the ball and your feet to kick the ball and the goalie may use a hockey stick to block shots taken by the strikers.
  • The goals are at opposite ends of the playing field the field is 75 yards in length and is about 25 to 30 yards in width
  • The winner of the most rounds wins the match there are three rounds lasting 20 minutes and 5 minutes of rest between rounds
  • In the case of a tie the winner will be decided by a 10 minute overtime if no winner is decided then it is a draw
  • The goals are about- 6 to 7 feet high and 10 to 11 feet wide
  • The game begins with the thrower throwing the ball and the whacker hitting the ball the seekers catch the ball if the seeker on the whackers team catches the ball he may keep running to the goal if the seeker on the throwers side catches the ball he may run it back and try to score
  • Each goal is worth two points
  • If there is a foul the ball goes to the place where the foul was committed and thrown from there.
  • If a foul is committed within ten yards of the goal the person whom the foul was committed against gets to take a free shot he can throw the ball into the goal or he can kick the ball into the goal
  • If one team wins the first two rounds of the game then they automatically win the game
  • At no time during the game is play ever supposed to stop unless a foul is committed
  • There is a ten minute half time in between the 2nd and 3rd round
  • If a person scores on a foul then the goal only counts as one point
  • After a goal the team that scores is to throw the ball and play resumes
  • Helmets are to be worn
  • For each team – 1 goalie, 2 whackers, 1 seeker 2 throwers
  • The goalie may never come out of his 10 foot box
  • If a player is on concrete he may dribble the with his hands
  • The player may throw or kick the ball to one of his fellow teammates

Someday, maybe, kids will dream of glory on the foondball field, and trade photos, cards, and stories of who their favorite whackers, throwers, and seekers are.

Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Hot Rod On Mars by Bill Chance

“We earth men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things.”

― Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

A painting I bought at the For the Love of Kettle event at Kettle Art in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas. The artist is Jeycin Fincher

Hot Rod On Mars

After a hundred years of terraforming the air on Mars was finally breathable. The colonists had developed their own culture – often seen as odd and ridiculous from the point of view of their friends and relatives left on earth.

One of the most inexplicable cultural oddities was the popularity of hot rods on the red planet. All kinds of replica American muscle cars from the fifties, sixties, and seventies became the ride of choice across Mars.

Craig was very proud of his replica 1970 Dodge Challenger. I was white, like the car in the ancient film, Vanishing Point – one of the few classics that survived the great purge. Craig couldn’t resist though, and had a garish red and blue lightning bolt painted on the room.

But Craig’s testosterone was more powerful than his driving skills – plus he never understood that late-20th century muscle cars were designed for pavement and were dangerous and unstable on cross-country jaunts. The designers never intended their cars to be driven across the rocky plains of Mars.

It was inevitable that he would find a steep ditch and plunge the front end down into the gap, bury it in the dust that filled and hid the furrow. Craig climbed up onto the elevated back end to get a bit better satellite cell reception and decided to stay there as he waited for the star-shaped tow drone to fly to where he was. It was going to be an expensive accident… Maybe he would learn from this.

Probably not.

Returning to… if not normal then what?

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart;

the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

—-William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming

The line to buy artwork immediately grows to fill the gallery.

I forget how long it has been since the world has gone mad. When I go out, I am astonished to see how mad it has gone.

Every year I like to go the the For the Love of Kettle competitive shopping event at The Kettle Gallery in Deep Ellum

The best way to understand this is to read my 2014 Blog entry, The Weird and Wicked World of the Singing Cowboy

The Weird and Wicked World of the Singing Cowboy by Clay Stinnett

I went every year, sometimes successful, sometimes not so… I didn’t write about it every year, but sometimes I did.

2016 Getting A Ross

Tethered to an Upside Down Giant by Richard Ross

2019 A Competitive Shopping Event

Painting #1 – by Brad Allbright
Day of the Dead skull by David Pech.

2020 A Very Human Way of Making Life More Bearable

“How We Measure Our Days” by Lisa Huffaker

Last year, of course, they did not have an event. I was excited this year to go back again.

Candy looked over the paintings that were listed on the facebook page and gave me a list of four to look for – pick one. There is no guarantee.

The DART ride down there was awful. Post COVID – the trains are overrun with insanity. I used to enjoy riding public transportation, but not any more. The cars reek of weed. Every car and every stop has at least on lunatic screaming and cursing.

There is track maintenance going on so the train had to empty and one stop, load onto a shuttle bus, ride to another stop, and get back on. The trip downtown took me almost two hours.

The worst was at the Lover’s Lane station. A lunatic roared across the platform pushing a stolen shopping cart full of shit – mostly broken pieces of plywood – cursing and screaming. He stopped a few yards down the line and stood there screaming and throwing stuff onto the tracks. When the train arrived, loaded and left, it paused at a street, waiting for the bar to lower, right next to this guy. He continued to scream the most awful obscenities while beating on the driver’s window with a big hunk of plywood. The train held several families on their way to the Mavericks basketball game – I doubt they will take the train again.

I made it to the gallery about an hour before the event was to begin – later than I planned, but I still was about the tenth person in line.

Line in front of the Kettle gallery starting up, an hour before the doors open.
The rules of the competitive shopping event, posted in the window.

I always enjoy talking to the people in line and the hour went quickly. Luckily the weather was good – only a little chilly.

We all ran in and I chose my artworks. Unfortunately, the numbers were small and black on silver, and my ancient eyes could not make them out. I had trouble finding the artworks Candy had picked out – this slowed me down and by the time I reached the counter, three-quarters of the artworks were already sold. I discovered that I had written a number down wrong, and had purchased a random artwork (this has happened to me before – my handwriting is so bad when I’m rushed).

In the end, I had a good time, though I’m not completely satisfied with the two artworks I bought. But they will go onto the wall where my choices from the past are arrayed… and will look fine alongside the others.

But I still have this frightening feeling that everything is spiraling out of control… the world is going to shit.

Broken and Reassembled Every Day

“All the animals, the plants, the minerals, even other kinds of men, are being broken and reassembled every day, to preserve an elite few, who are the loudest to theorize on freedom, but the least free of all.”

― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas