Times May Change, But People?

We accuse our politicians of not listening to, or talking to each other, but are most of us much different than that and are we different now than when this country was founded and launched? French historian-political philosopher Alexis de Toqueville visited the US in 1831 and in 1835 and 1840 published a two volume report Democracy in America. According to Marshall McLuhan in Gutenberg’s Galaxy, “Alexis de Toqueville, whose literacy was much modified by his oral culture, seems to us now to have had a kind of clairvoyance concerning the patterns of change in the France and America of his time. He did not have a point of view, a fixed position from which he filled in a visual perspective of events. Rather he sought the operative dynamic of his data. Wrote the Frenchman, “But I go no further and seek among these characteristics the principal one, which includes almost all the rest. I discover that in most of the operations of the mind each American appeals only to the individual effort of his own understanding. America us therefore one of the countries where the precepts of Descartes are least studied and are best applied…Everyone shuts himself tightly up within himself and insists on judging the world from there.”

Mea maxima culpa. Have we changed so little in almost two centuries? Are we less self-minded and self-focus now vs. then?

Par For The Course

I’m working on the next collection of short stories, this one featuring all female CO protagonists and today I realized I’ve lost one of the manuscripts. So here’s what the lineup looks like, including the MIA Number 18. Ignore all the counts in Parens. I offer this as a lesson of how one can keep track of a story collection. The Title for this book is HARDER GROUND, STORIES FROM THE DISTAFF PLANET.  A third collection UNCHARTED EDGES, is also underway, with eight stories in that portfolio. I could send them out one at a time to various mags, printa and electronic, but it’s more practical to put them all in collections. Over.

  • T#1 First Day of the Last Day of The World. (10-16-13) [W-1,806] [T = 7/7]
  • #2  Gravy (10-17-13) [HW=6/13]
  • #3 Working the Problem (10-19-13) [HW-/xx]
  • #4 The Roadrunner Should Make You Laugh. (10-19-13) [HW-9/34]
  • #5 Static Line (10-19-13) [HW-8/42]
  • #6 Poachers in the Dell (10-20-13) [HW-11/53]
  • #7 Scenario (10-20-13) [HW-6/59]
  • #8 FTO (10-22-13) [HW-8/65]
  • #9 Midsummer Day’s Night (10-23/13) [HW-15/80]
  • #10 Tom Mary Robert Frank (10-23-13) [HW-6/86]
  • #11 Like Hymens and Soap Bubbles, Balloons Can Pop With Unpredictable Results (10-24-13) [HW-14/100]
  • #12 Fishing For Glory (10-24-13) [HW-4/104]
  • #13 Even the Queen Mother (10-25-13) [HW-5/109]
  • #14 The Gulf of Goths (10-26-13) [HW-12/121]
  • #15 Heads, Tails, and Other Vague Body Parts (10-26-13) [HW-7/128]
  • #16 Dancing Hula in the Felony Forest (10-27-13) [HW-17/145]
  • #17 Trailer Fly (10-27-13) [HW-7/152]
  • #18 Three Hours in the Chair of Wisdom. (10-28-13) [HW-9/161]
  • #19 Mary’s Little Junkyard Dog (10-29-13) [HW-7/168]
  • T#20 Mile-High Humble Pie (11-6 -13) [W-5,404][T-19/187]
  • T#21 Facing Perfection (11-6-13) [W3,318] [T-11/198]
  • #22 Flier’s Club (1-16-14) [HW-19/217]
  • #23 Hard As Nails (1-17-14) [HW-10/227]
  • T#24 Just One More Second (1-23-14)[W2,410] [T-11/242]
  • T#25 Omaha! Blue! (1-21-14) [W 4,077][T-17/259]
  • T#26 Dogskin, The Olympian (1-23-14) [W-1,756][T-6/265]
  • T#27 Game for Names (1-27-14] [W-2,611][HW-11/276]
  • T-28 Camelflage [W1,500] [T-6/282

T = Typed, HW = Handwritten

Gonfalons For The Gone

Nobitchuaries from the participants going through the door. I’ve been collecting obituaries from newspapers for decades and it struck me as I was cleaning my office today that the headlines tell an interesting story of a strange and wonderful kind of global diversity. I list them as follows and hope it gives you a moment to pause and think about how many folks have done great or strange things and we have hardly known them. Most of these are out of NY, Detroit, Kazoo, and London papers.  Seems to me that all sorts of short stories, novels and poems reside beneath these headlines.

 Majel Patten, 111, matriarch of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and believed to have been the last living Apache to have known Geronomo, died Dec 12 in San Carlos, Arizona.

Randolph Scott, Hero
Of Western Films, Dies
Enoch Powell, An Enigma of Awkward Passions
Rational and
Romantic were at
War in him, and it
Was not always the
Romantic that won
The sharpness of
His glance was like
A snake striking;
Here was a
Dangerous old man.
Tim Flock, 73, a Successful
And Colorful Nascar Pioneer
He won 40 races,
and sometimes rode
With a monkey


Mae Questel, 89, Behind Betty Boop and Olive Oyl

Arkady N. Shevchenko, 67,
A Key Soviet Defector, Dies
Halldor Laxness
Icelandic Writer who won
The Nobel Prize for
Literature in 1955,
Died on February 8 aged
95. He was born on
April 23, 1902
Carl Gorman, 90, Navajo Word Warrior, Dies
A Marine code
talker who befuddled
the Japanese

Athelstan Spilhaus, 86, Dies; Inventor With Eye on the Future

Lawrence Treat, 94, Prolific Mystery Writer
Esther Bubley, Photographer
With a Sober, Poetic Eye, 76
Tenzing Norgay, 72
Conqueror of Everest 
Edward Lansdale, Prototype
For ‘Ugly American,’ Dies

Wray McKenzie, Stalag 17 survivor

Hideo Shima, A Designer of Japan’s Bullet Train, Is Dead at 96
A fabulous and
Speedy train system
And lots of red ink to
Show for it.

Camille Henry, 64, Small but Skillful Ranger

Paul R Smith, 86,
Artist Who Taught
Celestial Navigation
A Kenyan Comes Home Again
Tribe Buries Lawyer, Ending 5-Month Battle With Wife for His Body

Dead rabbi is a legend in Brazil

R.V. Jones, Science Trickster
Who Foiled Nazis, Dies at 86

Uzi Narkiss, Israeli Army General, 72

Ion Cioaba, Self-Styled King
Of All Gypsies Everywhere, 62

Clyde W. Tombaugh, 90, Discoverer of  Pluto

Bricktop, August 14the, 1894 – January 31st, 1984
The last dawn for the one, the only,
world queen  of nightclubs
Lincoln’s ‘last kin’ Dies at 81
William McElroy, Researcher
Of Fireflies’ Flash, Dies at 82 
Eugene Stoner, 74, Designer
Of M-16 Rifle and Other Arms 
Gen. Noel F. Parrish Dies;
Trained Tuskegee Airmen
W.S. Arbuckle,
Authority on
Ice Cream, Dies

Age Was No Handicap for Gamblin’ Rose, 105

Naomi Uemura, February 12th, 1941 – February 1984
Mt. McKinley defied an explorer
Who despised impossibilities 

Albert Wolff, last of the ‘Untouchables’

J.M. Oesterreicher, Monsignor
Who Wrote on Jews, Dies at 89
Air Force Officer returned medals

V. Galvani, 89, Designer of A-Bomb Trigger

Ruth Robinson Duccini, 95, Last Female Munchkin from ‘Oz’

Col. Gains Hawkins Dies;
Westmoreland Case Figure
William D. Montalbano, 57, Los Angeles Times Bureau Chief
Robert Switzer, Do-Inventor
Of Day-Glo Paint, Dies at 83 
Hallie C. Stillwello, a Rancher
And Texas Legend, Dies at 99
Byron MacNabb, 87, an Atlas Rocket Leader
Paul Schmidt, 65, Translator, Poet and Actor
A Slavic languages expert known for his
Collaborations with
Leading experimental
Theater directors 
Quach Tom, 65, CIA Agent Who Became a Prisoner of War


Frank Lloyd, Prominent Art Dealer Convicted in the 70s Rothko Scandal,
Dies at 86
Promoting the work
Of contemporary
Artists to avoid
Running out of stock. 
Galina Ulanova is Dead at 88;
A Revered Bolshoi Ballerina 
Joseph Sobek, the Inventor
Of Racquetball, Dies at 79
Edmund Asbury Gullion, 85,
Wide-Ranging Career Envoy 
J.Blan can Urk, 95, Lover of High Life, Dies
He held many jobs
And made a fortune,
But usually had
Better things to do.
That Tough Nut, Rickover
‘You [Bleeping] Idiot, Get the [Bleep]  IN HERE RIGHT NOW!’
Sidney Stewart is Dead at 78;
Bataan Death March Survivor
Harold E. Wilson, 76, Hero of the Korean War
Vladimir Prelog, 91, Is Dead;
Swiss Chemist Won the Nobel
Colonel Bill Cook
MC, MBE, King’s Own
Yorkshire Light Infantry,
‘died on January 23 aged
79. He was born on
January 18, 1919
Eleanor Shuman, 87, Passenger on the  Titanic
Aboard the last
lifeboat to leave a
sinking ship.
Raymond-Leopold Bruckberger,
Priest and Author, Dies at 90
A worldly cleric who
Was a leader in the
French Resistance
Edgar Kaplan Is Dead at 72;
Top Bridge Player and Writer
Eberhard Rees, Rocketry Pioneer, Dies at 89

William Schanz, 70;Founded a Cruise Line 

Gold miner’s daughter used
Talents as milliner, inventor
Dance Teacher believed In praising her students

Handicapped fire buff dies and fire fighters miss him

Bridge Builder
Was firm enough
To care for others.
Ford statistical analyst was proud of his Marine record
W. Averill
Dead at 94

Chris Farley, 33, a Versatile Comedian-Actor

Milton Berger, Flamboyant Soul of Coney I, Dies at 81
John Hoagland, June 15th, 1947 – March 16th, 1984
The last of an angry man; a war
Photographer’s affair with danger
Marcine ‘iggy’ Wolverton; Designed arcade games

Books, Writing, and Medieval Universities

Sunday morning  neuronal impulses (incomplete thoughts). As an aside, MSU played for crap last night, allowed a slow game which killed them in the end. Congrats to U of M.

 Today, I am condensing a  whole heap of non-basketball stuff for blog purposes. Though the basketball game got me to thinking about our universities, how they came into being, and what they are now: Athletic scholarships? Weird from all perspectives except thinking of the university as some kind of capitalist machine aimed at providing learned laborers to the overall system. On to more interesting stuff.

 Until Gutenberg developed moveable type, books had to be handwritten and most of us think of cloistered monks sitting in a scriptorium copying away on vellum and other materials. Before Gutenberg, and even after. there was another way books were created and that was by students who would attend lectures and their teachers would read from their own books in a slow process like dictation. The students would copy what the teacher was saying so that by the end of the “course” or period of study, the student would have his own book. Indeed one of the reasons for attending university was to create your own book holding and indeed when one was finished and thinking of a career, the gatekeepers often required students to present their books, presumably of proof of the learning they were claiming. [Huh, I wonder if that’s why some old fogeys like me keep huge book collections?]

 Most teachers,  then as now, of course, wanted to leave their own imprint on the knowledge  subject matter they were passing along so that while teacher A and teacher B might be talking about the same thing and even working from the same approximate text, each would be constantly modifying  his own text as he went along, so that the students of A ended up with something distinct and different than they might have gotten with B. All of this was done in Latin, and until the printing press came along, all reading was oral, which is to say out loud.

[I still read everything I write out loud as a means of judging punctuation, story continuity and other factors. ]

Put a little differently by Istvan Hajnal (L’Enseignement do l’ecriture aux universities medievales), “Writing in the mode of dictation did not constitute a copying exercise as simple as might at first appear. It is a curious fact but it is precisely owing to this system that studies had been able to revive and a new literature was born in the heart of these Faculties. For every professor strove to give the matter taught a new form suited to its own assumptions and inherent conceptions; and mostly he dictated to his students the results of these personal insights. That is how the university movement, from its inception, appears to us now as really modern.

In essence books were thought of as “chained” to a particular individual, the professor or dictator of the information and, of course, to all the others who contributed to what the current professor was passing along. Marshall McLuhan wrote in The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), “It is uncanny that the modern phone booth should also reflect another aspect of the medieval book world, namely the chained work of reference. And he then makes an interesting comment, “But in Russia, until recently quite oral, there are no phone books. You memorize your information – which is even more medieval than the chained book. But memorization presented little problem for the pre-print student, and much less for non-literate persons. Natives are often bewildered by their literate teachers and ask: “Why do you write things down? Can’t you remember?”

Reading this reminded me of samizdat, that it the hand-rendering of manuscripts by writers operating outside the reach of the Soviet nomenklatura. Books were written in hand and passed around like weed, and copies made, and those passed along. In many ways Russia USSR was still trying to emerge from the Middle Ages in the Twentieth Century. It is always said that the Russians were paranoid, that the three greatest events in the national memory were Ghengis Khan, who caused Russians to miss the Renaissance, the invasion of Napoleon, and later, in our time, the invasion of Hitler’s armies.  Probably not germane to this little blog, but of interest.

As I understand it, we are talking about a sort of tutorial model with classes of one teacher and one student and this approach with writing had multiple purposes: scribal training, practice for composition, and introducing minds to new concepts and reasoning and ways to express these things. The student created his own text for future use as he learned what was going into it. Things are sure a lot easier today, but are books valued less because they are so common? Probably.

There are some who contend that perhaps the original cause that university teaching in the Middle Ages was more and more characterized by the practice of writing. It is not strange that in the fourteenth century (Quatricento) the practice of writing was considered the essence of university life in Paris. 

Many great teachers did not commit their own thoughts to writing. They spoke and others copied, and Thomas Aquinas tells us that Socrates and Christ fit this category, that is, they did not connect any of their teachings to writings. Aquinas wrote in Summa Theologica, “…it is fitting that Christ did not commit his teachings to writing. First on account of his own dignity; for the more excellent the teacher, the more excellent his manner of teaching ought to be. And therefore it was fitting that Christ, as the most excellent of teachers, should adopt that manner of teaching whereby his doctrine would be imprinted on the hearts of his hearers. For the same reason pagans Pythagoras and Socrates, who were most excellent teachers, did not want to write anything.” Compare this to the modern publish or perish dictum that drives the academic life in some outposts of higher learning.

McLuhan tells us, “The story of writing as oral training helps to explain the early age of entry to the medieval university. For the proper study of the development of writing we must consider that the students began their course as the university at ages 12-14. In the Twelfth and Thirteenth centuries a student had to know Latin grammar, all courses being taught in Latin, and the Latin used had to be precise and according to the highest standards of use. “Latin grammar served above all to insure oral fidelity.” Oral fidelity, writes McLuhan, “was to the medieval man the equivalent of our own visual idea of scholarship as involving exact quotation and proofreading.”

There came a time then when books became more plentiful and available (and affordable in another sense). This would have made it possible for professors to move at a faster pace, but dictation remained in vogue. (Universities are not always bastions of change.) According to Hajnal, under a new approach, “the professor should speak fast enough to be understood, but too fast for the pen to follow him.” Students did not take kindly to this change for straight dictation where the prof spoke slowly and clearly and repeated everything 2-3 times so the students could capture the words. Some students naturally opposed this change and shouted or stamped their feet (or had their servants do the same) and such students were expelled for a year.

 McLuhan says there are reports of students under ten years old in universities, no doubt the Sheldon Coopers of the Middle Ages) Enough “whimsy.” Anon, let us to work, or breakfast, whichever may be more easily assembled.  Over.

Looking at the Past

I love reading histories from various Michigan locations. The good old days, don’t ever stack up as good. Just old. But nostalgia wears rose-colored glasses, that is sees what it wants to see or thinks it remembers, not what actually was. Enjoy these.

Hunting Season Reports From the Past – from the Houghton Lake Reporter/Roscommon County Herald-News.

Dec 4, 1913 — The hunting season which closed Sunday did not prove very successful for the large number who have been hunting deer in this vicinity this fall. Less than 20 deer were shipped from this point this season.

December 8, 1938 – Game Law Violations in Dist. No. 11: 54 hunters were arrested, 24 rifles and two shotguns were confiscated, and most of the violators were assessed fines and court costs during the recent deer hunting season as a result of the work of conservation officers of District 11. Working out of the Roscommon district headquarters are: COs John Lee, Thomas White, Charles Hicking, Earl Kinsman and Paul Lance, who arrested game law violators in Roscommon, Crawford, Missaukee and Kalkaska Counties.

December 4, 1958 – Deer Kill reported normal; winter weather ends season. Michigan’s 1958 deer season that started off with an above-average  opener slowed down in this area as the season progressed and came almost to a standstill when winter weather appeared on the scene the last couple of days. Reports from other areas indicated the same conditions, with the opening two days record-breaking crowds failing to repeat on the following weekends. Fatal accidents totaled 10 this year, compared to four in 1957, while 28 non-fatal accidents have been reported to date, as compared to 17 last year.

Dec 8, 1988 – Vandals went through Roscommon village recently during the night, tearing down Christmas decorations on and in front of stores. The Ace Hardware had its lights cut in several places, the Herald-News building had its Christmas tree knocked down and its decorations stolen. Fred’s Dining had  its light bulbs unscrewed and Travel Information Services had its decorations stolen and its trees broke (sic) in half.

Remembering a Long TimeGame Warden

Last summer (2013) on August 24th, Boardman Township re-dedicated a park honoring CO Charlie Hicking, who was THE Kalkaska County Game warden from 1913 until 1958 (45years).  Hicking, 1890-1970, passed away at age 80, after working from age 23-58, a long and glorious haul. There is a 40 acre Township Park on Boardman Road that was dedicated in the 1960s to his service to Kalkaska County and Boardman Township. Many of his Grandchildren and Great grandchildren attended. Some news items from Office Hicking’s career follow, and some pix if I can get them to transfer. 45 years for Hicking, I guess I don’t have to be in a hurry to retire Grady Service who’s been at it less than 30 years although he’s close to Hicking’s retirement age. But let’s not confuse fiction and reality. Charlie Hicking was the real deal.

18 November 1930 — State Trooper Shoots Guide; Deputy Is Run Over by Automobile KALKASKA, Mich., Nov. 18.—The first week-end of the hunting season in Kalkaska county brought a dozen arrests on charges of violating the game laws, five of them made after chases in which a guide was shot in the shoulder by a state trooper and a deputy game warden was run over by an automobile. The wounded man, who was taken to a hospital at Cadillac, is Wake Sherood, 60, veteran guide, whose automobile, officers alleged, failed to heed a halt order of Conservation Officer Glen Easterly, Deputy Warden Charles Hicking- and State Trooper Gerald Harris of the East Lansing post. The officers tried to stop the car. which they said contained two does, at Sharon Saturday night. The second chase began at the same place later in the night when Lawrence O’Neal of Kalkaska failed to stop. He was alleged to have run over Hicking. Harris again gave chase, and forced the pursued car to a ditch. Officers said O’Neal admitted throwing a slain doe, which was recovered, from the car. 

27 November 1942 — So seldom seen that some persons have doubted that it ever occurred is the death of deer from locking antlers in their mating-season battles. Conservation Officer Charles Hicking and William Dorman, the found these dead bucks north of Kalkaska, here examine the tangle of antlers that proved fatal to both fighters. This was down in the neighborhood of Whitefish Point. I am suspecting that these were the days when COs moved all over the state to help other COs during the firearm deer season.

The Leader and Kalkaskian, 1944 — KALKASKA, TRAVERSE MEN LOSE LIVES. Two men drowned in Crawford Lake, seven miles southeast of here Sunday noon, when the boat in which they were fishing apparently capsized. The victims were Roy Lounsberry, 54, who operated a convalescent home near here, and George Davis, 50, of Traverse City. Residents at the lake said the men had been fishing in a borrowed boat and that when cries suddenly were heard witnesses who ran to the shore saw nothing but the overturned boat floating 150 feet from shore. Roiled water hindered dragging operations and the bodies were not recovered until several hours later. Deputy A. F. Wilson, state troops and Conservation Officer Charles Hicking assisted in dragging. The bodies were brought to the Berg funeral home here. In addition to the widow, Marie, Mr. Lounsberry also is survived by three brothers, Howard and William of Spencer and Ray of Flint.

Record-Eagle (Newspaper) – May 16, 1958, Traverse City, Michigan, in KALKASKA — Two fires, both one from sparks from a train, burned I over about two acres of grass and trees Thursday evening south of here along the Pennsylvania right- of-way. Conservation officer Charles Hicking reported this was the llth fire started along the railroad this season. The fire was controlled by tho Kalkaska volunteer fire department and conservation department firefighters.      


Hocking Gravestone Hicking Park

Inviting the Reader Into the Story

Winter is a time to relentlessly pound away on (or is it at) manuscripts, and yet there is time to also sit and think and read, and try to conjure thoughts outside the particular story of the moment. To think about the making of the work and some of the elements that go into the creation. In Shakespeare’s time in the playhouses playwrights would speak directly to the audience through the structures of prologue, epilogues or the chorus, in part a borrowing from the Greeks. Take the Prologue to Henry V as Shakespeare talks directly to people in the wooden “O (one letter describing the shape of the playhouse, The Globe Theater perhaps). Consider this:

Can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? Or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air in Agincourt?
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts:
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puissance.
Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ th’ receiving earth;
For ‘tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings

Our illustrious Dear Old Willie-boy seems to be saying is, “Dear audience, blend my thoughts  with yours and you will create your own pictures and supply the details as I provide the main  plot and narrative of the story.” This is only one small sample of the great bard’s genius, to anticipate, to invite, nay, to expect, the audience to participate as a way of getting them to suspend their disbelief, which is the first need of all fiction and make-believe. If people don’t buy in quickly, the story never gets taken aboard. And as old as it is, this sixteenth century approach still holds true.  

People will use the life experiences and mental images they carry with them in watching a play or movie, or reading a book, or listening to music. Everything external goes through an internal strainer, screen, colander and every creative person needs to be aware of this, not by painting every damn detail so as to create a single static images (as if this was even possible), but to create a format with minimal details to allow the participant-receiver to create his or her own images.

As near as I can tell you can’t much do this with plot, but you can with character creation and to some extent with scene-setting and location descriptions.

Nothing earth-shattering, just some early morning thoughts on a snowy winter’s day.


Omnium Gatherum

Overheard, imagined & out of context, life as we live it in the shadows of others, known and unknown.

* Poet Donald Hall tells us: “Specificity, the descriptions of surroundings, the bits of remembered conversations are essential for the poet.”

* Chichi, neufyfood: “Grass-fed bison patty on gluten free bun, topped with cage free fried egg and sunflower pesto”  Waiting for you at Yeah Burger, Atlanta.

* Two old ladies: “Think apricot, not orange. Pale yellow, not phosphorescent.

* “I found Jim lost mom, those hours, those big hours, I just. Menopause is crying in the dishwater.

* On NPR: “The prodragonist in the story.”[and the anti-dragonists?]

* On NPR: “I’m very not mathematical.”                

* On NPR: “All Muslims ain’t up to something.” [Didn’t know that. Thanks.]

* On NPR: We can expect two inches of new snow. (not old stuff?)

* On NPR: “I was a former teacher.” [Wow. Of what the science of dethawing ice?]

* On NPR: It’s not the model, it’s the miles.” [Catchy.]

* On NPR:”We are in for several days of sunshine.” [In for?”Sounds ominous]

* Among halfsies, selfies, and falsies where resideth truth?

* The Bubble-Wrapped generation thinks total safety is everydayness.

* Music promo: Wm Parker helps you get to music you can’t get to alone. [I can’t begin to parse this baloney]

* Wondering why people are kicking buckets by the millions while dog hospices prosper in America. Priorities?

* There ain’t no tickets for the Poor People’s Venison Train

* Of Yoopercrats and Yoopublicans. Grand falsies.

* In Atlantic Monthly: “Memory is a mosaic broken.”

* Ad for the channel Animal Planet: Surprisingly Human. [From the school of targeted Bambification]

* Lions versus Eagles, 12-8-13: Commentator says, “They want to use every ounce of space.” [What does an ounce of space actually weigh?]

* Billboard in Texas: “Urgent message – Yes you can know for sure that you are going to Heaven.” (Neither sponsor nor source cited.)

* In a restaurant: “Then she ain’t got no way to get holt of nobody.”

* In a bar: “Back when I was a kid there weren’t no lights off on Halloween. Didn’t have to worry about nothing.”

* Coffee klatch in Noobs: “The old phone don’t work like the new one they give me.”

* In Meijers on a Saturday Night: “That’ the stuff over there, but you don’t use that stuff.”

* Picture god swinging to ska and boot scootin’ with the boot-cut booty brigade.

* Wisdom has been short-changed to game show trivia.

* In the bakery, an article from the The New York Times. “The Effect of Sugar on the body.” (Based on one small study…being in the NYT it will now become cannon.)

* également dans la boulangerie: “I bought tomatoes, thought I might like a BLT and then I forget what else. The tomatoes had no flavor at all.”

* “Tomorrow night, Jack cooks!

* Breakfast at Bucky’s: “Heather, Heather, tell Josie never mind!”

* “I didn’t volunteer to take him but I coulda and woulda if she asked.”

* “Okay, you see what I’m up against here? So she made E.T. out of Cheerios and apricots and so she colored the Cheerios brown, so it was awesome, yup. One year, Jud mailed a branch to somebody, called it a family tree. That was cute. A ladybug seems quite ordinary.”

* Basketball commentator on a player getting hit below the belt: “I think he got hit in his future.”

* Walmart, the largest low-wage employer in the world. Not there’s something to be proud of but you don’t see it in Walmart’s Love-Our-Ass corporate puff ads.

* BBC, “It’s 35 minutes before the hour, and almost half two.”

* UNK, “You can’t put the smoke back into a cigarette.”

* Terry Gross, on NPR’s  “Fresh Air,” 1-17-14 to author guest, “Tell me about the photo on the cover of your book.” [Talk about a photograph on the radio. Am I missing something here?]

* Kalamazoo Gazette Headline: “Kalamazoo is More Joyful as a Running Town.” [As opposed to being a bankrupt, abandoned one?

* NPR commentator talking about state affairs: You think the 2014 election is hanging over their heads like the Sword of Damocles?” [Is this reaching, or what?]

* NPR: The SAT is like sticking a dipstick in the brain.

* Leonardo de Brezek’s driveway sign: KCUS SBUC = Cubs Suck

* Chickens can hear, but can they listen?

* Willpower most often shows up as won’t-power.

* Bookend words: Okay and Nokay.

*Red baseball cap, embroidered in white script: I Play Jesus Ball.

* Note small difference between loco and locavore.

* The flippety-flapedy-flap over Obama’s birth certificate: Has anybody seen paper on Jesus? Not El Biblico: That’s hearsay and therefore inadmissible.

* From a British Account of 1772, the Kalamazoo River is identified at Pu-saw-pa-ca Sip-pi, or “Iron Mine River.” There was once a foundry at what is now Riverview * Drive and Mt. Olivet.

* How to shit in a bomb shelter, Cold War style: “Line trash can with plastic, shit and piss in container until full. Cap it off, hold breath, open door, run outside and leave it. Do not breathe until you are back inside. Speed is important.”

* “I said to Jack I’m so afraid I’ll forget what day it is.”

* James Carville: “The dog won’t eat it.”

* NPR: “I’m a former product specialist…I like to put people in their place.”

* NPR: “I’m a priceless option.”

* In Bronson Hospital Emergency: “I know dat I send some to ‘em.”

* Wandering hospital halls a woman poured into jeans, her hair chemically light, on a cellphone, “She has blood clots, blood in her brain, one  stroke when she was inside me and another one when she got outside. When she pulls through this I want to know if she’s mentally challenged. I mean, I’ll always love her, but I want to know if for those few months she was normal.”

* Dunes Restaurant, Grand Marais: “Serving lunch? “A little bit.”

* Woman at King’s in May, in Naubinway: “There ain’t no spring yet and summer will be short.”

* Back to the hospital hallway, a fat guy sashaying, right hand holding cell phone to left ear, “Dude, it ain’t gonna change.”

* Asian woman in Lexus pulls up across foot of driveway, signals me to lean over, says “Garrarsarehyrr?” I said, “Nope.” She drove away.

* Res nullius: A thing with no owner and first possessor becomes de facto owner. Legal problems inherent when thing is human.
Sterquinarium is Latin for dunghill. Think Congress, Dead language, dead place.

* Mamihlapinatoapai is  that look shared by two people, each wishing the other ill and to  initiate something, but which neither one wants to start.

* Conservative radio show. NC restauranteer says he puts up sign, NO ENGLISH, NO SERVICE. Tells reporter. “It’s not about ethnicity.”

Weekly horseshoe pitching league standings in the Newberry News.

Obit says a woman died at the Golden Leaves Living Center. Is the irony not clear?

Michigan has the 10th largest Native American population in the country, 55,000 NAs live in the Detroit area. Report out that some NAs were offended by Code name GERONIMO used for Usama Bin Laden. Consequently, American Indian Health and Family Services is offering counseling for anyone feeling offended. (Detroit News, May 20, 2011)

Progress: 1887: Richest 1 % of Americans owned 51 % of the nation’s wealth. Today the top 1 percent owns 35%. (NYT, May 23, 2011) A possible interpretation: the American Middle Class managed to sweep up 16 percent of the nation’s wealth over a century and a quarter. Wow.

From ATLANTIC, June 2011: “Detectives are gossipy; That’s the nature of being a detective; We all want to know.”

Did you hear about the Yooper cowboy? Died with his boots on in eight feet of loonshit.

Real name from the Kalamazoo Gazette,  December 2008: Florencio V.Macadangdang.

Missing Shakespeare Play: “A Most Licentious Episode.”

I know people who have photo albums of the dead from funerals they have attended.

Archie MacLeish liked to say, “A poem should not mean, But be.”

Map this: From Peter Handke: “The innerworld of the outerworld of the innerworld.”

We swim in gibbershite, and have for a long time. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “The looking at a woman sometimes makes for lust.” He didn’t end this with an amen, only a blank stare and trailing voice….Or ululating, I imagine it.

And so it goes. Over and/or out.

Night at the Libes With The Tribe

Work all day on short stories,  we eat early (Nigerian Stew), load the dog and head downtown to the Kalamazoo Public Library where I once spoke in snowstorm and drew a crowd of one, not counting staff. Invited back many years later they called yet again to cancel, said they didn’t have the money because their budget got cut. Memories, like some sort of howley from Cats. We found a parking spot by the park, left Shaksper in charge, hoofed down to the libes, crossing two ways both times with some sort of electronic voice counting the seconds until the light would turn, nine and then, eight, what would, seven. Happen, six, if we failed to five be across four at three, zero, two ah, one buzz. Do you get a jaywalk ticket if the crossing is outside time allowances? Up the elevator we thought, only it went down and we were paying no attention and up we trekked only to find ourselves back to where we began, and into the yaws of the mirror-laden lift again, including mirrors on the ceiling and we both wondered what that was all about, randy night staff? Libraries feel like home. Novels grow in the dark into the author’s hand, onto paper and end up in the library lights, awaiting selection, likes slaves at auction. Poets gathered in the third floor room, mingling, grazing with guests from  the eaty-treatees on the sideboard, costumed all around, inflated informality, carefully calculated laid-back, winter leggings on nubile legs and lots of oldies, mostly sixties detritus, the inflated air of a tribe gathering, mwah kisses in the air and faux hugs, heads put past other heads like some sort of chook rituals, no touch, shadow wrestling of the blind, the carpet is made of muted gray checks, houndstoothy  herringbones, leftovers from the sixties frat scene, another kind of detritus, like a sport coat I once wore when such costume was de rigeur, a uniform of the day in the day, not this one, at least not here in the night of now. I watch the dance of mingle-dingle gaggle kiss-kissing greet-greets, all done with deliberate tribal gestures, like secret handshakes and secret words, it is always so, expected, owned by one poet calls (not complimentarily) the Po Biz, like Vaudeville, you either on the circuit or you ain’t darling. Perfume skeins linger in the artificial oxygen (defined as dephlogisticated air), trailed by mincing vixens, soft voices preggers with tainted grace, the song whisperers, all of us letter-ferits, I think of jumping horses, desultarii equii, this poem thing is as the Italians put it parsa parola, literally word of mouth, rassemblement de la tribu, congregatione tribus, et al, et al, tid genus, all that scribe-tribe, versificantibus, we possess collective bottom, the anointed ones seize the weather gauge, troop to the lectern, begin the ritual, words jamming out like rectal thermometers, seeking depth for heat. Ahead a blondy with silver flecked nail polish and a thumb ring, nose rings around too, sparkling in the florescence, I am sure I hear typewriter keys thumping inside the institutional walls, trapped creators, trying to write their way out to proximate freedom, at least in certain choices. Hats stay on the whole time, etiquette stillborn  or previously executed, this is a place conservatives would find confounding. A poet with two tours in Falluja, countenance of Charlie Chickenhawk, awes the crowd with real shit, among little reality in the night, a young man of future, like other marines I know of recent vintage, slight, ferocious warriors of the crotch, he is good to go, good to go, they tried to keep him with sergeant stripes, without success. There are questions the usual drivel do you write for the ear, well yes, I can’t quite find a way to write with the ear, with pencil or keyboard, a physical feat beyond my ken, and do you find your writing therapy? No not me, nor me, nor I it’s play you see, play not work, not confession, you need a tuning fork for your ear, inner music seeking outer souls, whatever you write, it must work on paper no matter who reads it, must be written starkly and sharply on the page so that it will teach the reader how to perform it. Poetry should sound like someone talking to someone, my old Pal Arnie says. I wrote a play for him back in the times of yore, shite-work, he suggested it might be something more and it turned into a novel, he who gave me the right compass heading, the kind of debt you never repay and seldom mention, but carry close. A conversation of words shoe-horned onto paper, read inny outward, pushing them up to a cloud , homing to it like pigeons, you build dreams and images day by day, stacking and nailing them become a grind-stoner of words, someone says you have to write to find out what you’re writing, someone famous, of course I can’t remember his name. One fella talks officiously of pow-tree, which brings up the gorge, poh-tree you see, three syllies down to two, yet drawn out to seem longer, artificial inflection, the art-institute theater folk-tawk, I  taste the air of  primitive church without instruments or choirs, and no sense of communion, being together in a room close enough to that, reality buried in muted politeness, a sheepvention kind of Occupy-Whatever with unkempt silverbacks on bony legs, a chopper whines over the building downtown, blast-blotting all sound and thought, swallowing it, turbines doing their high-cost screams on a night meat-flight. It was shortly thereafter I noticed giant paper snowflakes hung by monofilament from ceiling tiles and turned like lazy fans in the superheated furnace air, this gathering so damn polite mere air-pushed words skin tongues and knees simultaneously. A loudspeaker superimposed, imposing, interrupting. THE LIBRARY WILL BE CLOSING IN 30 MINUTES, we are done sharing and digesting inner and outer landscapes  on our collective GPS, Pow-tree night  be over, some quip about coastal Pacific narcissism I want to tell them the story of the legendary Corporal Colonel and the Camp Pendleton rattlesnake, but time is up, announced, as down on the street, in God we trust the written word and I am think the beauty and power of the short story lies in how much you leave out. What could be simpler? Get out much? Not really, consider this a gift to the outside world. Over.

Da Boyds and Da Woyds

Pounding away on short stories, finishing up new collection, HARDER GROUND and setting sail with another collection I’m calling UNCHARTED EDGES. The latter is not about Conservation Officers, but it does look at folks in some extreme situations in a wide variety of settings around the world. Lots of fun. Some stories have churned in my mind for 30 years or more, but today a whole new one popped into mind and woke me up and I came downstairs and wrote the first draft of “First-Time Fliers Club.” No idea of word count. 19 pages handwritten, which is how all my drafts begin. Typing comes next, at some point. The one that’s been lingering for close to 30 years is called “Dufour’s Star,” set in Ypres (Flanders, Belgium) two years after World War I ended. Not a game warden story. Meanwhile the dog is in and out of the house multiple times daily and the birds are ripping away at the suet. MSU Laxman Ted Swoboda sent along a new set of photos of a Snowy owl he ran across, prolly a female. Boda’s pix follow as do some from Da Boyd Feedah. Hinjoy da pix, eh. Over.

ArticO 187 copy ArticO 191 copy ArticO 248 ArticO 272

Downy woodpecker
Hairy woodpecker
Northern flicker
Redbelly woodpecker