Feb 16

Maiming a Player? That’s “just football”.

Watched a few minutes of NBC sports commentators talking about the coming Superbowl…what caught my attention as I was about to click past them was first one of them calmly acknowledging that it’s a common practice for players to target certain opposing players in a way that will seriously injure them, shatter their knees; that if you take them out of the game you instantly get paid extra for it, off the books, and everyone winks at you. That the drive to do this is stronger at the Superbowl. (Made me think of that very good science-fiction movie, Rollerball)…The other commentator said, Yes, every player knows that, and he added–”that’s just football.”

So maiming someone–quite possibly crippling them for life–is *just football*. And “that’s just football” excuses crippling a man. And of course it excuses causing concussive brain damage to a larger number of players…These were mainstream NBC commentators.

This procedure, this brutal, quite possibly crippling tacit tactic, has been discussed before. The New Orleans players engaged in it, in a precious Superbowl; there was a fleeting scandal. But now it’s casually talked about as a legitimate tactic. Because…”it’s just football”. Meanwhile this society is spending many, many millions on the Superbowl–to enrich a relative few–and indeed our government is spending millions protecting it. We should be so proud.

Jan 16


I was feeling dangerous. I was ready for some brinksmanship. Risk? Why not. I’ve always been a risk taker. But what should it be? Jumping a motorcycle between two high buildings? Juggling scorpions? Taking a weird new designer drug? No–I went a little crazier…I decided *to install Windows 10.*

People had warned about it, shook their heads grimly over the new OS. But I laugh at fear. And also I was bored with my computer set up. I surrendered to Microsoft’s plaintive entreaties that I download it…especially as it was offered free, if I downloaded now, for the life of the machine (they’re working their way into a fee system their new software, it’s a new model for such things).

I…did it. At the outset, they give you a set of apps to say yes to, and they advise you that it’s what’s best about Windows 10 etc. But most of the apps are based on your sharing heaps of preferences, browsing history, likes and dislikes etc, with them. Purchases, whatever. “You share with us and we’ll share the world.” Only to me–that’s intrusive and is likely to actually deny much of the world to me. They’ll notify, offer, show…and it’ll be based on my interests and biases and histories…and it’ll be a media echo chamber. Instead of offering the world they’ll filter it, really, in the long run. The the real risk here is that echo chamber…I want to explore the world without their prompting. And I don’t want to give them info on me needlessly, and I don’t want them looking over my shoulder, always breathing down my neck. So I bravely said NO to all that.. If you haven’t turned their intrusive stuff off, including their keystroke logger, go to Settings, then find Security and Advanced Security and turn all that stuff off. I also found a place to turn off their targeted Microsoft ads..Their “Siri” variant, Cortana (name from an imaginary female-seeming AI in Microsoft’s Halo game), also requires you to give her all your info before she can help you. You want her–you got to pay up, bruh. In data. . .So I said no to her pimp, too.

Alarmingly, after the OS was installed they warned me that a couple of my programs wouldn’t be working properly with their system–and one of them was a vital one for me: Final Draft, which is required by many production companies as a script formatter. I just used it for an animation script for Nick, and I used it for a spec horror script based on my story The Rubber Smile. I need it. But it turned out my Final Draft 8 still works FINE! It’s just that because of my preferences it’s not hooked up with “Windows Insider”; the app doesn’t get data from Final Draft so “Final Draft is not working properly”. This seems dishonest to me…All that matters is Final Draft IS actually working–and so is Windows 10. I’m all for its improved virus protection; my computer actually seems to be running a bit more rapidly now. Even facebook runs a bit better for me. So–I won. I jumped the motorcycle between softwares. I sneer…at fear.

Jan 16

The Character Under the Characterless Character

It’s intriguing–how the inner life of a person can be so rich, while their outer life might seem wizened and shabby…I was quite struck by something last night.

First I should tell you, I don’t often go to open mike poetry readings. They tend to make me wince (though there are good poets among those who are essentially vanity poets) and the hard chairs hurt my rump. I took my wife to a reading in San Francisco’s Haight last night because our friend Harry Scifres Robins was reading, and I had some of my new Weird Poetry along (written for ST Joshi’s SPECTRAL REALMS); Hal Robins always gives a fine performance. He recited classics including a favorite of mine by Thomas Hardy.

Most others read their own material, including a chunky older gentleman wearing a tall knit winter hat shaped like the cap of an ink pen. He mumbled–as so many do at these things; his intonation was especially feeble, and despite a microphone he was nearly inaudible. He had little outer affect of any kind. I pictured him talking to people out in the world, imagined their eyes glazing over as his general external blurriness smudged him out of their attention. Struggling to hear him, I made out a line here, a couplet there–several about love, and others evoking various sides of the human condition…and the words were strongly wrought, incisive, fairly original; his lines were the product of sharp observation, of compassion, and a genuinely poetic sensibility. But everything about his outer person and his manner was a blur, without distinction. His self expression seemed numbed. There was an incapacity for projecting to other people…

Thinking about it, I’m sorry I didn’t tell him that I liked his poetry; and I’m interested in the fact that *externally* he was a kind of caricature of the characterless; that he was the personification of blandness and poor speaking skills…I heard him say a few words offstage to others; it was the same–and their eyes glazed. . .and yet his poetry (when audible) reveals that his *inner life* is rich, energetic, vigorous…

And it reminds me that everyone we see has an outer life, and an inner life. And the inner life is another world entirely.

Dec 15

Everybody Must Get Schlonged

Be careful not to screw with Donald Trump or you might get SCHLONGED. He said that Hillary Clinton was “schlonged” in 2008, in the primaries, by Barack Obama. She lost the primary to Obama. She’s not a winner, see. She gets SCHLONGED. Unless you like getting SCHLONGED, and some do, you should be careful, in general, not to get SCHLONGED. You want to get SCHLONGED? I don’t think so. Hillary, he said, was “disgusting” because she had to go to the lady’s room, so they had to wait at the outset of the recent debate. Disgusting. So what’s going to happen? She could get SCHLONGED. I mean, please. You want a President who SCHLONGS–or one who gets SCHLONGED?

You could get SCHLONGED on this whole election thing, here. So be careful. Don’t get SCHLONGED. Although, as I said, some people may like getting…

Dec 15

My Sickness Diagnosed

These new fangled scientifistic physical men would have me believe that something called “micro-organisms” is the cause of my present illness, the underlying source of this catarrh, this inflammation of the sinuses and chest…What villainous flim-flammery! Are we now to believe in organisms one can’t even see? It stands to reason that no creature could live in such a state of minuteness, there being no room for internal organs. Where pray tell, would nature place the creature’s liver, or its spleen?

Good common medical sense, which I have aplenty–as indicated by the prominent phrenological bump of Cautiousness on the right side of my skull– attributes my catarrhic grippe to the falling damps, and an imbalance of humours. Indeed, an unsteadiness of the Four Temperaments can lead to a surfeit of yellow bile. A good bleeding, an application of chest blistering, thus producing laudable pus, together with the ingestion of ten drops of laudanum, would see me right I’m sure. I’ll soon be dancing a reel in the commons.

Dec 15

The NRA’s Self Fulfilling Paranoia

The fear, unjustified till now, that the government would “take away everyone’s guns” may CAUSE most guns to be taken away.

Because they resisted gun control with such absolute fanaticism, gun advocates have allowed egregiously dangerous people to obtain guns…and may have caused the very forcible siezing of guns they’ve feared. Their refusal of compromise may lead to their losing all their guns…

In the USA we may be forced to come closer to the NRA paranoiac fantasy…because of the NRA’s paranoiac fantasy.


Dec 15

If you don’t like…

If you don’t like the nightmarish availability of guns, then show up to vote at *congressional races* and vote Republicans OUT. Encourage your friends to register to vote; encourage your friends to put on their coats, encourage your friends to simply note: they must vote the Republicans out.

If you don’t like the crushing of the middle class and the poor, then show up to vote at *congressional races* and vote Republicans OUT. Encourage your friends to register to vote; encourage your friends to put on their coats, encourage your friends to simply note: they must vote the Republicans out.

If you don’t like the suppression of science and climate change truth, then show up to vote at *congressional races* and vote Republicans OUT. Encourage your friends to register to vote; encourage your friends to put on their coats, encourage your friends to simply note: they must vote the Republicans out.

If you don’t like the erosion of women’s rights, then show up to vote at *congressional races* and vote Republicans OUT. Encourage your friends to register to vote; encourage your friends to put on their coats, encourage your friends to simply note: they must vote the Republicans out.

Nov 15

Leaves of Brown Sugar

A carpet the color of cherry syrup has appeared uniformly on a neighbor’s terraced yard, each terrace covered as neatly as if it had been laid by a professional using measuring tape and sheers. I stare at it, as I walk the dogs. It is a fall of small candy red leaves from a series of ornamental plum trees, the leaves seem to have come down all at once as if coordinated to someone snapping their fingers to give the signal.

This time of year, when Central California finally, sniffingly, admits it’s no longer autumn, the sun is discouraged, hunches only a short ways above the horizon, and it throws shadows through windows that didn’t appear in most seasons: my own shadow on the wall, as I stand in the bathroom trying to carve my beard in some fashion that disguises the pouchiness a little more; the shadow falls on the wall in layers, me in the middle and around it a nimbus of other shadows roughly in my shape; they quiver like an aura that’s only in black and gray. It pulses around me in black and white. On another window the low sun throws shadows of shrunken leaves, truly intricate and detailed, every vein marked in black on gray; they pulse and quiver too.

But when I walk I think about what must going on under the coat of fallen leaves, a whole new biological response as they break down with the help of bacteria and damp; insects that only rise up and prod about at such times, bringing rodents to hunt them. Crows thrash in the leaves seeking the bugs out. I try to see the reflection of its prey in the black and gold eye of the crow as it tilts its head. There’s something there–could be me.

In a gutter a little further down the slanting light catches small, wet yellow leaves, piled up so that they look crystalline like brown sugar. It’s a fine sight. I think of the pictures I’ve seen of crystals spreading, and how they look like the branchings in cypress, and how cypress looks like branching crystals, and it’s like nature is pushing out this way and that way to see itself better.

Nov 15

SPECTRE review

We saw SPECTRE, the new James Bond film. It’s kind of a reinvention of a couple of classic Bond films, especially referencing LIVE AND LET DIE. It’s not the same story…yet it is in some respects. I quite enjoyed it, especially all the references and the pure-Bondian moments. Bond, you know, never says the wrong thing, ever. That’s one of the things that men low on self confidence (which is pretty much all men except psychopaths) like about Bond. He doesn’t say the wrong thing–anyway, in the context of the story it’s the right thing. Some of what the old Bond would say to women would be cloddish now–but the writing for Bond’s dialogue with women has evolved, and now he just plain says the right thing. And having Daniel Craig say it really helps, with his piercing blue eyes, brutish-but-handsome profile, and perfect timing. He’s a very good actor–probably the best actor to do Bond, though Connery had talent.

I don’t know what people expect from a Bond film now. This is a kind of superhero movie, actually, and it’s somewhat formulaic and WE LIKE IT THAT WAY and while this film is well directed and fairly nuanced, most of us don’t want it to be “art”…By the way, while some people dislike the opening song over the titles, I thought it was alright and, anyway, I was caught up watching the splendid computer animation that went with it…

SPECTRE has so much of the classic Bond stuff it does occasionally make one think of Austin Powers. A secret base in a crater, the smooth offering of drinks to Bond before he’s introduced to the villain in his lair, other elements…

But for me, SPECTRE worked. I didn’t think it was too long, as some did. I think it was about right. Great cinematography, Craig very good, enjoyable action. First scene especially fetching visually…

The movie makes a good point. While I have defended the NSA and the use of surveillance, to a degree, the movie early on (hence I don’t think this is a spoiler) warns that the wrong people could get hold of the NSA’s data…and of course, as you’re thinking right now, maybe there’s no right people. There’s also a bit of an anti-fascist message here…

It all culminates satisfyingly, for the fan of Bond books and films. I doubt Daniel Craig will be back…he’s getting slightly old for the part, and anyway he’s kind of too good an actor to be typecast as Bond…and this is a good finale for him.

Nov 15

GIANT WASPS! Run for cover–PaleoEntomologists Invade!

VANCOUVER – It was literally a huge discovery.

Bruce Archibald was searching for fossilized insects in British Columbia’s southern Interior when he cracked open a rock and found a beautifully-preserved giant horntail wood-wasp.

“I immediately jumped up and split my pants,” he recalled with a laugh. “Probably, the species should have been named Latin for pants-splitter, but we went with something a little more technical.”

My friend Bruce, here, and I, go way back to being in bands and the alternative — very-alternative– music scene in Portland. He was in Tu Tu band with Jim Baldwin and in other bands after that. But he is now a scientist; eventually became a paleo-entomologist. A professorial person finding giant primeval insects. He is known for having discovered a new ancient giant ant, too, amongst other things. And now…

“Archibald said the discovery gives researchers insight into how the modern world started to come together after the extinction of the dinosaurs. All the elements enjoyed by today’s giant horntail wood-wasps were in place 53 million years ago — including trees such as fir, pine, spruce, hemlock, sequoia and cedar.”

Read all about it: