Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Our Top 20 Hits

We recently posted our 200th post, and we’re pretty proud of the body of work we’ve generated. Why not take a look and see if there’s something you might have missed? Here’s the current take on the twenty best Klogs.

The Ghost of the Ayatollah Khomeini talks to The Ayatollah Khamenei, but things aren’t what they seem!

This is pretty silly stuff, but it makes me laugh every time I read it. A very off color not for the squeamish take on the Gilligan’s Island Theme song.

This, weirdly enough, is our most viewed item. I guess we’re on the search engine for birthday cake balloons. How to duplicate this effect?

This is our most commented on piece, even if at least one of the commenters hasn’t read the piece. It’s about the new Star Trek movie.

Geek that I am, I prefer this piece mocking the original Star Trek series. Geek that I am, I combine it with Top Chef.

In hopes of replicating the success of the Star Trek piece, we tried a Terminator piece. Too bad that movie’s supposed to suck.

And we mock The Beatles Rock Band Game.

Political satire has a short shelf life, but here’s us keeping Obama off the pedestal, regarding those detainee abuse photos.

Our fascination with the occult and with money combine in this spooky piece about Thomas Jefferson.

The ghost of Nixon talks to Obama.

The Iranian uprising meets twitter.

Mickey Rourke as Godzilla.

Music, politics, why not religion? This piece is NOT for the devout. Joseph in the North.

H.P. Lovecraft meets Steve Kilian with Kuo-toa Assimilated.

On some computers, this poster looked decent, and on some it looked all messed up. Hopefully it’s all better now. A minor character in a Neil Diamond movie gets his own in Love On The Rocks.

Here’s a tale about bumping into Billy Idol at a wedding.

A sad tale involving squirrels.

The ultimate heavy metal rock video, From Space to Destroy!

Perhaps describing this entire blog, The Critic Masturbates. Warning: this piece is about masturbation.

And the original piece about The Cookie Monster.

Let me know if I missed anything. Enjoy!

---- Here's what we thought were the Top Ten Klogs after 100 posts.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Adventures in Filing


Day 1

Charlotte brings the folders to his desk. Two stacks, about a foot and a half high.

Day 2

Look at those stacks!

Day 3

He stacks the manila folders. Mostly 47000s and 48000s, with the odd 45000, a few 46000s. One 43457. Now there are five stacks.

Day 4

All right, 43457, it’s time to send you home. He picks up the folder and brings it back to the storage closet. 45003-45997, 44408-44499, 44001-44449, 39501-39998… and 39002-39499! There you go! He opens the box and flips through, and deposits his folder. He’s one fifth of the way through with his job.

Day 5

Look at those stacks!

Day 8

Pop the box together. The tight solidity of the cardboard sliding together flush into a rectangular cube is very satisfying. Onto the drawers. 46002-46048, 46502-46099, all the way up to 46498, it all goes into the box. Into the storage closet. Now the fat sharpie, to make 46002-46498 an official storage box, and to get high. Again he considers whether he should order purple sharpies. Would that affect the high?

Day 9

He grabs a cluster of green hanging file folders and repositions them in the drawer. Now there’s room for his manila folders. In they go. Wait a minute, 46880, you don’t go with the 48000s! Disaster averted! File, damn you! File!

Day 10

Down to one stack. Look at that stack!

Editor’s Note: While this story is loosely based on true events, I changed the name of my co-worker Chi to Charlotte, to preserve her anonymity. Also, the numbers have been altered slightly, and there are really two stacks remaining, one stacked perpendicularly atop the other. I was filing the 47000s when the idea of “Adventures in Filing,” occurred to me, so I had to stop everything to satisfy The Muse. Welcome to meta-fiction bitches! Are you reading about filing or are you reading about reading about writing about filing? Where is reality now? File that!
*
--Dan Kilian
Adventures in Solitaire
Dialogue With The Loch Ness Monster

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Three Variations On the Same Scatalogical Joke

Q: Why does crap look like lumps of bronze?

A: Because it comes in turd.

Notes: Simple, which is good, but does crap actually look bronze? It's really more of a burnt umber. It might be close enough that people will go along with it, but there might be a subconscious tension that undermines the release of the punchline. Jokes are like the scientific method. If people don't believe the given, they won't accept the results. Is crap a good middling between shit and poop?

A favored Olympiad stumbles on the track and comes short of the gold or silver meddles. Expecting a bronze, he instead gets a lump of shit on a string. "What's this for?" he asks, bewildered? The Olympic official explains "You came in turd."

Notes: Doesn't work. Puns don't justify illogical behavior. The language is tortured, having to avoid the word "third." Replacing the bronze with an actual lump of feces avoids the discrepancy of version one, but it makes bronze itself unnecessary, and thus the entire set-up kind of pointless. If it's going to be on a string, the word is definitely shit.

Two guys are having anal sex. Then they shit on each other, smearing the feces all over themselves. Then they bring in a dog and a cat and make them take craps on the floor and then they roll in it. Then they bio-engineer a giant living piece of crap and feed it so that it can take a shit. They take this doubly shit shit and cook it in birdshit and they eat it. Then they put on diapers, shit in the diapers and then wear the crapped-up diapers as hats, as they smear more exotic forms of dung into every crevice of their bodies. A member of the Olympic committee shows up and gives them each a bronze medal. "What's this for?" the ask.

"You came in turd," says the Olympic committee member. Then the Olympic committee member take a shit in his hand and eats it.

Notes: This seems to strike the right balance, but I'm troubled by the word "dung." Don't want to get redundant, but the word is a little sterile. Definitely on the right track.

--Dan Kilian
--------------------------------------- Michael Steele Joke
--------------------------------------- Very Off-Color Gilligan's Island Theme

An Historic Lapse

Yesterday, for the first* time since we started this Klog thing in January, I neglected to post a new piece. I did not budget my time right. It was Saturday and there were errands and social obligations. It's probably a healthy thing; I've been a little obsessive with this posting every day thing, which can get in the way of other things. I should probably get more relaxed about it, but for you, potential regular reader, we post every day. We'll throw a couple things up today to make up for it.

I hope you'll note that Klog doesn't give you too much of the personal business you don't care about, focusing on the political satire, cultural criticism and errant microfictions you crave, in theory. We're back at it today.

--Dan Kilian

*We've had a few post-midnight posts, but it's not tomorrow til you wake up the next day. Also, we might have missed a day or two in January, but since then we've been constant.

---------------------------------------- Gundream
---------------------------------------- Sweet Nothings

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Michelangelo Project

In a Scientology lab deep in the heart of Hollywood, Forrest Whittaker and John Travolta are suited up in level III containment gear. They are working through a glove box on scraps of nose and lip tissue that have been kept in liquid nitrogen for years.

"Do we have a viable sequence?"

"By Xenu's shroud, I think we do."

"Well, then, let's insert it into the host cell."

Suddenly they are interrupted by their supreme leader. Tom Cruise, through the speakers built into his shiny black level IV+ gear, says, "That won't be necessary, gentlemen."

Perplexed, Forrest and John take their hands out of the glove box.

Cruise continues, "You see, I haven't been completely honest with you. Others have had access to the same material that you are now working on. The Michelangelo Project has been in progress for years."

"Years? How many?"

Then a figure steps from behind Cruise. He's familiar, but something about him is strange. The skin tone, the structure of his facial features - it is like looking at the brother of someone they've known for a long time. But then he speaks, and understanding washes over them.

In a high, perfect voice, he says, "Sixteen. I'm sixteen years old."
*
*


--Steve Kilian

------------------------------------- Steve's Grisly Video
------------------------------------- Michael J. Fox's Bad Day

Impaled

Impaled!

On a cold spike of iron impaled!

Blood in my lungs impaled!

Dying in the field impaled!

Victim of the horde impaled!

Useless to my tribe impaled!

Leaving wife and child impaled!

Food for the crows impaled!

Hanging in the air impaled!

Seeing only dark impaled!

Screaming though I've died impaled!

For eternity impaled!

Impaled! Impaled! Impaled!

--Steve Kilian
-------------------------------------- The Melancholy Viking
-------------------------------------- Filthy Gilligan's Island Lyrics

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bitchin' about Hitchens

A friend brought this article by Christopher Hitchens to my attention:
Persian Paranoia...Iranian leaders will always believe Anglo-Saxons are plotting against them.

It sounds like Hitchens is gearing up to buy another war drum. No wonder these guys in Iran want the bomb. Hitch is taking a bold stance against the Ayatollah.

So Obama's words will be twisted whatever he does, shouldn't he give them some direct pull quotes so the anti-Americanism can seem more authentic? There IS legitimate reason to suspect AmeriBrit meddling in recent Iranian history. Hitchens thinks he can sneer at these savages and oversimplify the problem, just as he did in Iraq, and he calls it an insight. The guy needs to learn his lessons from the last war and write with one part more humility, and one part less gin.

Hey, I'm no fan of the Mullahs, but I think Obama has been dead on in his statements, and all these patriots picking apart our President on a matter of foreign policy are hypocrites and blunderers.

I also read Hitchens with suspicion. Too many people have died for stupid reasons he's supported. I dislike his obvious contempt for a cagey and complicated enemy, and I smell war fever, not any actual strategic thinking. And treating Iranian paranoia as simply unjustified delusion simply ignores history. We've got a LOT to answer for in Iran.

I don't have sneering contempt for Mr. Hitchens, (the murderous drunk) though he does for the government of Iran.

It is a mistake to assume that the ayatollahs, cynical and corrupt as they may be, are acting rationally. They are frequently in the grip of archaic beliefs and fears that would make a stupefied medieval European peasant seem mentally sturdy and resourceful by comparison.

You might cling to that "frequently" as some sign of balanced nuance, but I don't. I pretty well hate the government of Iran too, but I don't write articles equating them with savages, because that would be...well...stupid. Any thoughtful analysis of Iran notes that the clerics are NOT a monolithic group, and that part of this crisis is shows the fractures within the leadership coming to light.

Obama is very much a crucial part of this article. The gist I got is that the mullahs are crazy, and Obama is a pussy to use the language he's used. Doesn’t like the use of “Supreme Leader” or "the Islamic republic." Hitchens says that Obama used the "wrong" Martin Luther King Jr. to deplore the repression in Iran. Isn’t that a little mind police-ish? Orwell matters.

The truth is that Obama cited the Supreme Leader when it was still a clever tactic to highlight Khamenei’s supposed concern over the tally. He stresses the Islamic republic because ALL sides see themselves as heirs to the legacy of 1979. The opposition shouts Allah-o Akbar from the rooftops. Hitchens doesn't really have any positive suggestions, just scorn for all things religious. If Obama took his advice he'd be a fool.

This article does drone on for a bit about the Iranian perceptions towards Britain, but once we get to the three points in the middle, he's really cooking. Any article with bullet points is about the bullets. Bullet number one:
There is nothing at all that any Western country can do to avoid the charge of intervening in Iran's internal affairs. The deep belief that everything—especially anything in English—is already and by definition an intervention is part of the very identity and ideology of the theocracy.
Gee, what does this pertain to? Is there someone who is using measured language about Iran so as not to appear meddlesome?

Point three is a straw man about how if people listened to writers and poets and not to only the clerics to gauge the mood in Iran, they wouldn't have been so surprised about the events unfolding. Speaking as someone who had a floating five dollar bet that there would be revolution in Iran, I don't recall Hitchens predicting this uprising based on some poem he'd read.

I don't equate CH with the right-wingers because he's bucking a liberal, though Obama's response would have probably been the same had he been a Republican. I suspicion his more overheated drumbeats because he's been a warmonger. I like some of his writing, when he's calm, but here, he's just saying he deplores the bad guys more than everyone else, and I don't think that passes for a real idea.
--Dan Kilian
-------------------- Tucker Carlson

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Khomeini and Khamenei: A Dialogue

Editor’s note: This piece is a fictionalized reconstruction of an actual event. While we take pains to accurately represent the tenets of Islam, some of the details of the rituals performed might be inaccurate.

Ayatollah Khamenei sprays blood from a headless chicken to form a pentagram on the floor.


Ayatollah Khamenei : Spirits of Islam! I command thee to summon the ghost of Ayatollah Khomeini!

Ayatollah Khomeini: You called?

Editor’s note: For the sake of clarity, from this point on we shall be referring to the Ayatollah Khomeini as Khomeini, and Ayatollah Khamenei as Derek.


Derek: Ayatollah! You came!

Khomeini: Why do you summon me!

Derek: I have such troubles! The people are going crazy!

Khomeini: The people must follow the…err…laws of Islam.

Derek: Yes, but I’m not even really respected by the clerics. No one likes me!

Khomeini: You’re just depressed. Maybe a woman will cheer you up.

Derek: Ah the women! They want to dress like whores.

Khomeini: Well who can blame them? Iranian women are some of the best looking women in the world! I saw a beauty in the lobby I’d like to put a fatwa on! Let’s go pick up some birds.

Derek: You’re much more…earthly than I remember.

Khomeini: Yes…err…death will do that to you. Now, how about a martini? Where do you keep the vodka?

Derek: Vodka? You’re not the Ayatollah! Who are you? Wait a minute, I know who you are!

Khomeini: Yes.

Derek: Sean Connery!

Editor’s note: Since it is the one and only Sean Connery, we shall now refer to the Ayatollah as Sean Connery. To maintain consistency, we’re keeping Khamenei as Derek.

Sean Connery: The one and only.

Derek: Wow, that’s uncanny! You really look like him!

Sean Connery: I didn’t even have to grow out the beard. I let it go like this when I’m between roles. Hollywood doesn’t come calling as often as it used to, I’m afraid.

Derek: I’m a huge fan! I was wondering about the accent. Can I have your autograph?

Sean Connery: Of course! Yes, I don’t really do accents. But I had the look down I think!

Derek grabs some clerical stationary and Connery signs it with a flourish. Then he karate chops Derek, knocking him to the ground.

Sean Connery: I’m afraid it’s over for you, Khamenei! You see, MI5 saw the resemblance, and knew I’d get through to you dressed as the Ayatollah. Your reign of terror is over!

Enter Barack Obama.

Barack Obama: No!

Sean Connery: President Obama?

Barack Obama: Sir Connery, I’m a huge fan, but this isn’t right. If the Western powers are seen as meddling, it will undermine the very democracy we’re trying to foster!

Derek: I knew Britain was worse than America!

Sean Connery: I see your point, but I’m afraid I have my orders.

Barack Obama: It’s time to read from a new script, Sir Sean.

Derek: Wait a minute, you’re not Barack Obama…you’re…um…

Barack Obama: Timothy Dalton.

Editor’s Note: Since it is, in fact former Bond portrayer Timothy Dalton, we shall now note him as such, keeping the other names the same.
Sean Connery: One of the under-rated lesser Bonds.

Timothy Dalton: Sir Connery, I’m a huge fan. I’m afraid operation Thunderpussy has been aborted. Gordon Brown caved to the Americans yet again.

Sean Connery: Pity.

Derek: Wow you really seemed like Barack Obama! You’ve got incredible range. You had the voice and everything!

Sean Connery: Well, vocal tricks aren’t everything. There’s also screen presence, you know.

Timothy Dalton: I was never the Bond you were. I’ll always be Prince Baron from that campy 80’s Flash Gordon movie to most people.

Derek: Just as I’ll never be the Ayatollah the people want. You guys have really taught me a lesson in humility. I think I’ll respond with really abhorrent repressive measures, killing my own people, so I can cling to power. Prince Baron, can I get your autograph?

--Dan Kilian
Bond's Bad Day
Celebrity Farts

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bush vs. Obama in Iran

The rallies in Iran have raised expectations in the West and confronted the Iranian government with its greatest challenge since 1979. They seem set to continue on a path of confrontation at least through Thursday. Yet who is the opposition? What drives these people to take to the streets? While the opposition to Ahmedinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Kameini might seem to be a complicated mix of interest groups expressing various discontents on matters of economic distress, international prestige, and various civil rights, they can really be boiled down to two groups: those that were influenced by President Bush’s invasion of Iraq, and those who were inspired by President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo.

Over and over, the chant “Bush was right!” echoes through the Persian public square. One young man, whose identity we are keeping anonymous, said “I was so inspired by the invasion of Iraq. If one man could want democracy so much he’d kill a hundred thousand people, then surely I can take to the streets!”

“No, Obama is our leader!” said a nearby man, revealing the fissure within the protesters, “When I heard him say in that speech that he didn’t hate Muslims, I said, ‘let’s go crazy and tear everything apart!’”

When a woman dressed in conservative hejab was asked about the issues the presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi vs. those of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad she said “Who cares about that? All I know is that Bush brought democracy to the Middle East! I used to distrust democracy, but when I saw how many explosions came with it, I knew it was for us!”

An older man wearing the trademark green armband of the opposition was asked about suspicious vote tallies. “Votes don’t matter. Empathy matters! Obama’s middle name is Hussein! The Iranian people LOVE people named Hussein!”

There is even a dispute about the symbolism of the color green, the trademark of the opposition, which Moussavi has latched onto. Some say it represents the environmentalism of Obama, others say it represents the purple fingers of true elections in the Middle East. Evidently the color purple translates as green in Farsi.

No one seems to care about the disappointments of the last four years, or the failures of the last reform minded candidate, President Mohammad Khatami to affect the sclerotic theocracy in Iran. All anyone wants to talk about is Bush and Obama.

If the protests are crushed in brutality of the Chinese Tiananmen Square crackdown, then that will be a blow either to the philosophy of George W. Bush or of Barack Hussein Obama. But if the spirit of reform survives, it will be a vindication. One thing is clear: either the seeming fiasco in Iraq or a public relations speech has brought this country to the brink of a most dramatic conflict, and once again, it’s all about the United States of America.

--Dan Kilian
-------------------- My Secret Life as an Iranian Proxy Server
-------------------- Michael Score on Iran

Monday, June 22, 2009

Song: Origin Myth

Split the carcass
Stinking grove
Organ treasure
Spill the trove

Madmen feast
Altar: flesh
Worship bones
Gilgamesh

Flood recedes
In shallows bask
Release the Ancient
Sealed in cask

[spoken]:
And so She writhed forth, the scales of Her underbelly distended with great sacs of roe. The supplicants raised up their pails of collected seed, that they might mate with a god. Instead She seized the archpriest in Her foreclaws and brought him up to her feeding parts. The priest shrieked in ecstasy as his manhood was torn asunder, the fresh milk flowing down Her body, fertilizing the third race, those who would storm the drained lands.

[four minute guitar solo]

Bodies sink
Ocean rift
Tortured whale
Final gift

Still she feeds
Beneath the ice
We give ourselves
In sacrifice

--Steve Kilian
--------------------------------- Feng Shui
--------------------------------- Listening to Sun o)))

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Roundabout the Godfather

I’m not a musician but I play one onstage. I have the utmost respect for the gifted souls who eke sounds out of their instruments. I also have a lot of respect for the buskers who fill our public spaces with music for some loose change. But if I hear one more accordionist play the Theme from The Godfather I’m going to reenact a scene from that movie. Either the one with the horse’s head or the one where James Caan gets it at the tollbooth.

There must be a way to get them to stop. Refusing to pay means nothing. Shouting “learn a new song!” might seem like the way to go, but musicians are very hardened to criticism. Most of them really shouldn’t have quit their day jobs, but here they are in the subway cars, tunnels and parks all day long. There needs to be a positive way we can steer them away from this song.

I suggest a request. When talking about this with my coworker Larry, he said, "Yeah, I'd like to hear something by Yes instead." That makes perfect sense to me. The minute that ominous minor chord progression starts rolling out of that squeezebox, hop on up and say “Hey, do you know ‘Roundabout’ by Yes?” When the guy says no, just point him to some guitarist flailing away only a block or subway car away. They all know how to play that song’s beginning, with its clever harmonic notes. It’s almost as annoying as Stairway to Heaven when a guitarist plays Roundabout, but I could imagine it being fun from an accordion, with that baroque melody and those chords chugging away.

That’s the proposal. If you’re as sick of it as me as me, you’ll join the movement to turn “The Godfather Theme” into “Roundabout.” Then when we get sick of that we’ll resort to homicide.

--Dan Kilian
-------------------------------------------- Tips For Landing A Job
-------------------------------------------- Signs We're In a New Depression

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Cargo

They hoisted up the bodies in a sisal cargo net, limbs and heads poking out and dripping. The loaders slid it along the gantry rail with gaffs and chain-hauls, followed by a crew with stiff brooms and foaming bleach and yellow buckets on wheels, scrubbing behind them until the bristling sack was over the refrigerated container. Feeling that cold those trapped in the net started a pitiful moan and mumbled out weak curses in Chinese and Farsi and Hindi. The gantry operator let slack the cable and dropped the load into the container, the round shape binding on its rectangular edges, cracking bones as the weight settled. The loaders prodded the sack with shovels, forcing it into shape, hacking off fingers and hands that clung to the lip of the box, picking them up and tossing them in after the mass was in place.

They flipped the lid down and slid the bolts shut, using a mallet on one that stuck. Fists and feet pounded on the inside of container, but gradually grew silent. The barge pulled away and headed out to the research station.

--Steve Kilian
---------------------------------------- Olde Tales Of The Sea
---------------------------------------- More Grim Death

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Secret Life as an Iranian Proxy Server

I turned my picture green and set my time zone to 3:30. Newfoundland? They must be the same longitude as Iran. Then I started tweating.

Ready to be a proxy server. What do I have to do?
Nothing.

Let’s prox! How do we do this?
Also, how does twitter work? What is “following”?

Still silence. Had I already compromised myself? I was in too deep already. I decided to play dumb, posting my usual comments about breakfast, lunch and the weather. It happened to be sunny, but my mood was overcast. I knew nothing would ever be the same.

I’d been growing my beard since the day before, and was beginning to look the part. My hejab looked pretty authentic. I noticed several Middle Eastern types on the train to work. Iranians? Hard to tell. Some of them were probably Latinos, but I caught some furtive looks. Were they on to me? “Allah Akbar” I muttered to myself. And to listening ears.

At lunch I tweated again, taking a new tack.

Special day! Ordering Thai! Definitely not part of the Iranian opposition!
No replies, but this time I didn’t expect any. I’d flown my flag, now it was time to let the nets collect their catch.

On the train home I felt I could discern the difference between Hispanics and Persians. If they were speaking in Spanish, they were probably not Iranians. No one would be that clever, would they? Wheels within wheels. I tried speaking in Iranian, what little I knew. Mostly variations on Allah Akbar. “akbar akbar…Barak Allah…” Was Obama a god to them? What a strange theocracy!

Someone tapped me on the shoulder. So this was it. Ahmadinejad’s people had found me. I slowly turned and was surprised to see a pale, stocky man with light brown hair. He had a red maple-leaf on his lapel.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“My name is Ted Finn. I’m with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. You’re a long way from Newfoundland, Mr. Kilian.”

“Allah Akbar?”

“I’m afraid you’ve become a person of interest. Please come with me.”

We got out at the next stop, moving very slowly. I was too frightened to make a break for it. We made our way down to a black sedan that was waiting outside the stop. Mr.Finn opened the door, and I stepped into the darkness, into the unknown.

Canada. It was all so much vaster than I had thought.

--Dan Kilian
Michael Score on Iran
Conversation About Israel

Soup of the Day: Soup Goes Green!

Q: Is change coming To Iran?

Unless I've missed something, the Guardian Council (a definitive name, if ever there were one) still rules the roost in Persi Land, and they have a military wing called the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to enforce and protect that rule. All other players are mere pawns.

If history is a guide, a modern day Ataturk would have to emerge from within the Rev Guard, kill a bunch of fellow IRC soldiers, enlist the rest to kill the Guardian Council, enforce martial law throughout the country for an extended period of time, empower Parliament and other elected officials to completely re-do the economic, social and political framework....and somehow fend off all neighboring countries and superpowers from interfering.

The 2 upsides: Ataturk had to create representative bodies from scratch, but in Persi Land, they are already in place, though completely neutered. Ataturk had virtually no educated populace from which to draw, but at least a portion of the Persi are already immensely educated and productive in fields far and wide.

The downsides: a raging civil war along tribal and religious fault lines is pretty much a given; the Sunni-Shia battle will once again cross borders with Iraq; the Kurds will want to create their own country; the whirling dervishes will flip out with such tremendous force that meter-deep craters will dot the countryside; Zoroastrians will look to the stars in the hope of being raptured; and the US will send in troops, drones, F-16s, robots and whatnot in search of the inimical yellow cake.

Back to golf. All eyes on Bethpage Black for the next 4 days. I will be in attendance this Friday. That is my golf course, not theirs. El Pato will win. He will then go on to win The Open and the PGA, thus becoming the first player to win the Grand Slam since Bobby Jones back in 1930, and only the 2nd player in history to accomplish the most impossible feat on earth, and perhaps in the solar system and galaxy, as well. I have received no Tweets from outer space indicating anyone has accomplished this feat. El Pato's dad was a handyman; his mom, a maid. They split up when he was 3. He learned how to golf by being a caddy. The stars are in proper alignment.
Tee 'em up!

--Soup aka Dave Campbell
------------------------------------ Michael Score on Iran
------------------------------------ Manny's Music

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gundream

Last night I dreamt I was demonstrating the latest state of the art gun, presumably for some military types. Killed a couple soldiers by shooting right through some stuff. Then I came up for the mop-up, and there were two mattresses, which I sprayed down with gasoline from the gun.
*
I then attempted to set them on fire with a bullet. First one didn't work and the second missed entirely and punctured a house on the street where I grew up.
*
Lights went up and a woman's voice started wailing. I went guerrilla, crawling through bushes. I made my way to the Corbin's Corner back parking lot which runs behind my childhood home.
*
There I found a pile of garbage, including brightly colored neon paisley Miley Cyrus purses, still in their boxes. I figured they might be collectibles, or that one of my neices would love this. Then I saw a Burger King store display festooned with small dribs and drabs of silly putty.
*
I had to have the silly putty. The dream ends with me peeling little globs of putty off the display, the dead kid and war forgotten.
*
The important thing is that I didn't wet the bed.
--Dan Kilian
------------------------------------------- Violent Dream
------------------------------------------- Sandwiches and Yellowjackets

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wolcott Pond

The geese got flash-frozen into the pond one year, stuck sitting in place as we skated by in hand-me-down Bauers. My laces were knotted together where they'd broken before. The ice wasn’t hard enough but we couldn’t wait, so it was wrecked by the time we were done skating. It didn't matter, since we were the only ones who skated on the pond. Our older brothers skated at the town pool and we didn't even have goals or enough sticks to go around. Mostly we just skated past the hissing geese and avoided the branches that reached up from the pond, or the tufts of yellow grass where the ice got thin over the swampy ground.
We wondered if they'd been asleep when the water froze, or if they just sat there watching while it got solid around them. Then we changed back into our boots and tied the laces together and slung the skates over our shoulders and walked home, making snowballs with stiff pink fingers. By the time we got home my little brother's nose was running and he was sniffling and wiping it on the back of his glove. We kicked the snow off of our boots on the back steps and went inside.

Mom reheated some cocoa and it had some skin in it that didn't melt back into the chocolate. But at least she made it with milk so it was better than "hot chocolate" which was just chocolate-flavored water. Kids at the pool bought that with new ten-dollar bills that their mothers gave them. Sometimes they got to keep the change. My little brother and I ate a bowl of puffed rice cereal and Mom gave us some raspberry danish from Stop & Shop, which was good. She also had a bag of iced cookies but they were hard and I didn't like them.

I found my book in my room and started to read it. I only got a few pages in before I started dozing off, tired from skating. Mom shut the light off at some point and I woke up to the room being dark and cool and I fell asleep again.
*
I woke up, startled, on the bus from New York City. The driver had put on the overhead light and people were starting to gather their things as we pulled in to the Hartford bus station. I checked my phone and saw that we were a little bit early. I'd have to call home for someone to get me or take one of the cabs that line up next to the covered walkway. It was cold for October and I didn't want to wait, but I distrusted the fare negotiation process of suburban cabs. I stood still for a moment of indecision, asking myself why I came back, feeling the water freezing around me.
--Steve Kilian
---------------------------------- Shamecon
---------------------------------- Initiation

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Necessary Measures in Iran, an editorial by Michael Score

There is much talk of possible crossroads in Iran these days. Much of this, like the speculation prior to the Iranian “election,” is wishful thinking. Popular unrest will result in the same result a “legitimate” (under the restrictions of Iranian “democracy”) election would have brought us: repression and a figurehead to an autocracy bent on obtaining nuclear weapons.

The greatest threat to Western Culture is nuclear proliferation. We cannot afford to be blind to the danger of an Islamic state’s obtaining nuclear weapons. The new danger is Iran, a known supporter of terrorism throughout the Mideast and the world, and their intention to go nuclear is no hoax. Negotiations are just delaying tactics. We’ve got to bomb key sites to destroy Iran’s nuclear capability.

While I worry about the geopolitical ramifications of global terrorism and the Islamic bomb, my concern regarding this impending crisis is personal. As the composer and singer of the hit single “I Ran” with my band A Flock of Seagulls, I stand to gain financially from an earthshaking conflagration with Iran. Can’t you see it now? All the late night news parodies are bound to use my song. Get it? “I RAN”? This is bound to increase sales of my back catalog.

Some of you may have seen A Flock of Seagulls get back together on VH1’s show Reunited a couple years back. The nostalgia that show generated sold enough records to allow me to pay off my longstanding debt to Jive/Arista Records, as well as some credit cards I maxed out during the eighties. It also inspired the band to stay together and go on a series of tours, without any of the other original members. Our time is now! If we bomb Iran, or as I call it “I Ran,” who knows, maybe we could even return to the Billboard Charts! Think of it!

I know how this works. Styx had a whole reunion based on a car commercial. Leno, The Daily Show, even the straight cable news shows are going to lead into their stories with my song! So what if it’s a horrible pun and thousands of people are dying?

I’m due, damn it. I’m due. I was famous. Everyone watched that video. Arista paid about fifty bucks for it, and that’s about what we got, and it made them a fortune. Those chicks in the garbage bags got paid more than we did. I need a big fat royalty check. I just bought a new car. I need this.

We all need this. We can’t afford to let a theocracy run by sponsors of terrorism get the atomic bomb. It would destabilize an already tumultuous region, and possibly provide Hezbollah or even Al Queda with the ultimate weapon. We cannot let that aurora borealis come into view. We must blow I Ran’s nuclear ambitions so far away.
--Mike Score as transcribed to Dan Kilian

Monday, June 15, 2009

Workplace Meltdown #452 at the Mad Scientist's Lab: Monday, June 15

Dr. Xorlikai is going to be furious. And rightly so: I'd forgotten to replace the beam aligner on the argon laser and now he'd be lucky to get 30% power from the thing. But he didn't have to be such a dick about it.

The intercom crackles. "Stravinski! Reporrrt to ze laser chamber immediately!" This is the sort of thing I'm talking about. Sure, I'd screwed up, but how about, "please be more careful next time," or even, "can we talk about how to improve your performance?" No. It was always "Reporrrt to ze chamber." Bug-headed bastard.

So I walk into the laser room – I'll be damned if I call a room a "chamber" – and Xorlikai has some guy strapped to the table. There are scorch marks on his shirt at about the fifth button down. Xorlikai is fussing over the laser, not that there's anything he can do, since his fine vision resolution is terrible with his compound eyes. Genius boy didn't think about that when he made the big switcheroo. He wheels around in his stiff-necked way and clicks his mandibles.

"Yes, Dr. Xorlikai," I say.

"You see zis?" he barks – which you'd think would be difficult for someone with an insect head. "Ze scorrrching?"

"Yes, Dr. Zorlikai," I respond, adopting the sheepish tone that I hope will result in a minimal tirade.

"Ze scorrrching is NOT what I should be seeing. Ze subject—" he slaps the guy on the table in the face, "should have been reduced to scraps of flesh flung with trrremendous energy by ze expanding steam of his innards being vaporized by ze thirty four megawatt argon laser! What do we have instead?" I assume it's a rhetorical question, but he presses me. "Well? What do we have?"

"Um, scorch-marks, Dr. Xorlikai."
*
Dr. Xorlikai sighs. "Yes. Scorrrch marks."
*
Here it comes. It always comes down to this.
*
"I did not replace my own HEAD in order to reap ze benefits of an insect's superior neural pathways just to be surrounded by INCOMPETENTS!" Now he's worked up. "DO YOU SSINK IT IS EASY? DO YOU? I have ze HEAD OF AN INSECT! Children in ze street recoil at the sight of me! I have not known ze willing touch of a woman for THREE DECADES! IT IS NOT EASY, AND I NEED YOUR HELP!"
"Yes, Dr. Xorlikai." He could have given himself a slug-head and it still wouldn't be the most repugnant thing about him; self-pity would always take that prize.
*
The guy on the table whimpers a bit and says, "What's wrong with you people?"

Xorlikai and I both turn to him and shout in unison, "Silence!"

--Steve Kilian
Kuo-toa Assimilated
Human Fly

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Seven Song Playlist: Get a Bigger Minotaur

U2 "I’ll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight"

The truth about Frankenstein is that he didn’t have that many stitches. IGCIIDGCT is a harlequin patchwork of different corpses of a U2 song. Starting with a riff reminiscent of Journey, the song reverbojangles through a series of earnest prechoruses and awkward rhymes before getting to the titular hook. It’s all thoroughly embalmed in Brian Eno’s sonic amber; U2’s done some fine work with Eno, (A palindromic example: Eno,"One") but it’s time to ditch the partnership. They should have amputated two thirds of this song, used the parts somewhere else, and stuck to the chorus, and little else, and roughened up the sound for God’s sake. It’s way too sane tonight.

Nancy Sinatra "Leave My Dog Alone"

Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 record Boots has been hanging around in my “recent albums” playlist, a collection of songs that are neither all that recent nor listened to as albums. The Lee Hazlewood arrangements come from outer space and a particularly idiosyncratic patch of the cosmos while the all American likeable tough girl spills the deal, man. Horns and buzzing guitars coil as chimes play like church on mars, man. This B-side is a doofy political allegory of nonsense masquerading as whimsy. I still love it.

Nick Lowe "You Inspire Me"

Buyer’s remorse? Elvis Costello’s buddy makes a bid for his own “Almost Blue.” “You Inspire Me” is more reverent to the classic piano jazz rulebook, and unfortunately cops the melody from “In My Solitude,” setting it up for the fall. Goes for cocktail lounge and ends up in a coffee bar.

The Cure "Close To Me (Closet Remix)"

I got a hold of a Cure greatest hits package “on the cheap” but you get what you pay for. Remixes are one reason compilations suck. Yes that snare drum does sound nice and big, but now I want to hear the original recording. So The Cure win—I have to drop a 99-cent piece in the slot. Nice horns here; have I been too hasty?

Minotaur Shock "This Plane Is Going To Fall."

These guys and Au Revoir Simone hang out at the same wine bar. Needs more shock, and a bigger minotaur.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
"Mr. Bojangles"


Here’s that seventies sunbeam and gentle breezes vibe. Gentle, friendly good old boys pickin’ and plunkin’, at the piano, singing sweet songs about old minstrels. Might make you want to do a little soft shoe.

Beck "Youthless"

I like when Beck brings the party, but I don’t like when he sings low. Serious Beck. There’s more attention to fluid melody these days, which is auspicious, but 2008 brought us some Beck which for the first time is not something that could ONLY be Beck.

--Dan Kilian
------------------------------------------- Making It Work: 7 Songs
------------------------------------------- Radio Lives!: 6 Songs

Team America World Police: I’m Just Saying It’s a Classic

Not since Hitchcock experimented with high concept limitation films such as Rear Window and Rope has a film explored its central idea with such clarity and effectiveness. Spoofing action film clichés using marionettes grants South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone they framework to construct a visual masterpiece unlike any other.

While the attention to detail makes every scene a catalogue of brilliant obsessive minutia, it is the subtle choices made within the range of possibilities that make key details telling examples of genius. They find the right, funny way to present action marionettes at every turn.

It should seem that animators used to simple caricatures resembling construction paper cut-out would want the most basic puppets for their concept. Using high tech emotive faces was a strange, risky choice, but damned if it doesn’t work. The cruder marionettes would be hilarious in a five minute segment, but over two hours, the puppets need to be able to act. Or at least blink.

Reusing the “Montage” song from the ski lodge episode shows the film-maker’s trust of their audience. They must know that fans of the show would recognize the song and be able to accept what might be seen as a failure of the imagination. The truth is that the song “Montage,” about how learning is presented in Hollywood movies, is simply the ultimate description and evisceration of this movie cliché. They’ll use it again because it’s perfect.

Just as the clumsy motions of string guided actors made of wood enhances the silliness of Team America, so too the discrepancy between the purported messages of the movie and the end result creates an intellectual wobble that is transporting and perhaps narcotic. Making fun of pompous liberal actors in an action spoof is so misguided and stupid that the more meticulous the work put into every frame, the more ludicrous the movie gets. And why is Samuel Jackson there? What did he ever do? Is it just that he had to be in every movie made for a stretch of years and this would be no exception?

Well, upon rereading what I’ve just written (okay, I scanned it) I’m reminded of every complaint I've ever heard about criticism taking the joy out of the enjoyable, so I feel as though I’ve done my job. I’m only saying, it’s a classic. To remind you of why you enjoy Team America, let me just say, the cats.

--Dan Kilian
----------------------------------------- Matt Watches The Watchmen
----------------------------------------- Three Variations on a Joke

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ray's Review of: UNLEASHED-the Fleetwood Mac Hits Tour 2009

Stevie looks like she shrunk a bit and is possibly wearing a long blond wig. She wore this black, lacey, frilly dress coupled with black tights & black platform boots. My Mom said "why does she dress like Lily Munster?" For some reason she announced onstage that she is 62 years old (same age as my Mom) and Linsday was a grade behind her in highschool out in San Francisco circa 1965. So we got full disclosure from her. (Full disclosure from me: I had a huge crush on her in the 7th grade after seeing the "Tusk" video. Yes on her, not the guys in the USC Trojan marching band. You must search for that video on youtube. I believe it took place at the empty L.A. Coliseum. Absolutely one of the oddest pop hits of all time. In the eighth grade I saw Blondie performing "Heart of Glass" on a Saturday morning American Bandstand episode. From then on I had new wave crush on Debbie Harry, sorry Stevie). The British dudes mick FLEETWOOD & Jon MACvie looked to be a few years older than Lindsay & Stevie. Mick dressed like a pirate and pranced or shall I see ballerina danced around the stage. He kind of recreated the pose on the cover of Rumours. Christine McVie was back in England still counting the royalties from the greatest pop selling album of all time before MJ's Thriller--Rumours.

As far as the performance, I had no clue how fantastic of a drummer Mick is. He has some weird shaped sticks, and a sort of deep sounding tribal attack. Little bit of cowbell and a helping of occasional chimes to please Stevie. The bass was solid throughout. A bit understated but truly the foundation of the band. Stevie vocally was okay, and her twirling was cut down quite a bit. She was huffing and puffing after several tunes. Linsday-no pick whatsoever but a real powerful guitarist. The tunes were okay. They subbed synthesisers for the brass section in Tusk, blah. Unfortunately they insisted on "unleashing" a few solo 80's tunes that should definitely been kept on the leash. Linsday did his "I Go Insane"--absolutely dreadful. Stevie played "Stand Back." It was frightening to see Jon McVie be forced to play along on the bass to that disco/synth repeptitive eighth note crap. He did not look happy. The stand out tunes were "Rhiannon" and an absolutely sublime version of "Landslide."

Would I have paid to see this, NO. I had great seats, 5th row up right on the side of the stage. I give the band credit for not cheating. No teleprompters whatsoever. They were hawking t-shirts for $40, seats for $185 & beers for $10. No wonder there were quite a few empty seats. Overall rating B. Everyone should see a concert with their mother.
--Ray Beyda
---------------------------------- The Flaming Lips
---------------------------------- Dylan and McCartney

The Melancholy Viking

Valkirk brooded on a stump at a bend in the fjord. He scrawled a poem on a scrap of birch-bark with a chip of charcoal pinched between finger and thumb.

My sword is broken
My shield is split
I lay in frozen
Blood and shit
the crows have feasted
the battle's done
the armies scattered
my life is gone

Aelrik called out to him, "Valkirk! When you're done writing your saga, could you give me a hand with this net? Inggrid is going to mend it but I need to bring it to her hut."

Valkirk tossed aside the lump of charcoal in irritation. "What use a skein made by the hands of men? A few fish caught will not stave off the inevitable. Death's hunger goes forever unsated."

"Oh, for crying out loud, Val. Can you just help me with the damn net?"

--Steve Kilian
--------------------------------------- Loadhammer
--------------------------------------- The New Depression

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Great Wyrmm of the Sea

"The largest of these flutes can be found on the island of Kur-kurret, far from the shipping lanes in the South Sea. The specimen that the flute came from has been calculated to have been between 400 and 500 feet long, depending on the age at the time of extraction. The flute itself is well over 70 feet long. Core samples of the bone walls have been inconclusive as there is heavy scarring and nodular growth throughout, indicative of a systemic arthropathy which no doubt left the massive creature in near-constant agony.

It is no surprise then that the local history of the flute's origin includes tales of a "great wyrmm of the Sea," and of fishing vessels being capsized and all hands consumed by a "serpent most dyre in its cryes and loathsome of countenance." Such behavior could be explained by a painful condition such as evidenced by the bone fragments that have been studied by other fellows at the Institute. It may also be that the smaller specimens more commonly encountered are not as aggressive simply because of their small (relatively speaking, of course) size.

The Kur-kurret histories indicate that the flute was extracted from the beached carcass of the tubefish approximately 350 years ago. The local patriarch of the fishing tribe that dominated the island had the flute dragged to his hillside retreat (no mean feat, as the object's weight has been estimated at 12 tons -- heavier than might be expected due to the predominance of solid ossifications in the otherwise porous medium), where it was incorporated into local religious festivals.

Interestingly there is evidence that smaller tubefish flutes were treated with no great respect, having been found alongside the typical array of beads and wooden toys in common gravesites of children euthanized during the last century's polio epidemic. This runs contrary to many accounts of similar cultures revering even the smallest examples of tubefish flutes. Further study of this phenomenon is warranted but is not covered in the scope of this inquiry.

The Kur-kurret flute has been maintained in active religious use through to the present day. Should in-situ analysis be undertaken, field personnel are advised to prepare for primitive conditions and frequent storms, particularly in monsoon season. Political instability in the region is another concern, although recent improvements in relations with the South Sea Archipelago naval oligarchy have mollified this concern to some extent. Equipment recommendations for use in tropical regions can be found in Appendix C. . . ."

Professor Van Hoek slammed shut the concordance. Roebling was likely already steaming for Kur-kurret with a cargo ship purpose-built for the journey. If he was to have any chance of making an objective study of the thing he'd have to move with utmost speed. He uncapped a speaking tube and yelled into it, "Reynolds! Dr. Morse! Meet me on the bridge!"

Within minutes the nose of the Silver Tulip was turning through light clouds as the airship headed toward the South Sea, trailing a thin streamer of black coalsmoke.
--Steve Kilian
------------------------------- The Polar Turtle
------------------------------- Tips For Landing A Job

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Virgin No More

Yesterday I believe I said goodbye to record stores. I hit the Virgin Records at Union Square, with 6 days to go before they closed. I’ve been downloading songs online like everyone else who isn’t just stealing the songs, and yes, I’ve been stealing, ripping records from the library, having friends burn me songs, but for the most part I pay. I do think that musicians should somehow get money for the quality material they produce. I rationalize because I’m poor and because for many years I was single handedly keeping the music industry afloat. I used to buy CDs and barely listen to them before I had to have something new. I had to slow myself down. Then I fell under the ninety-nine cents a song spell. I started to differentiate between album artists and singles artists. That’s good for my pop and hip-hop intake. A bad Beyoncé song, or a bad rap can really drag an album to a halt. Rock duds you can space out to, letting an album breathe. Some hook that doesn’t work calls attention to itself, and becomes irritating.

But the truth is that I don’t listen to albums anymore, it’s the radio of my entire catalogue that I listen to, or a random shuffle of a large batch of new stuff. Still, I’m old enough to believe in the idea of the album, and cheap enough to like the idea of getting fourteen songs for $9.99 instead of $13.86. Yes I did have to use an Excel sheet to calculate that. So what?

So I finally downloaded an entire album, The Rosebuds’ Birds Make Good Neighbors. I’d fallen for a song “Shake Our Tree,” and I thought I’d like the whole thing. Also got Crowded House’s Woodface, a sentimental favorite of The Girl’s. Then I got Toots and The Maytals Greatest Hits. Wonderful stuff! Even if I didn’t listen to albums all the way through I could still buy them. Just not at a store.

It’s a different thing, buying a record at a store, and last night wasn’t that different thing. It was a fire sale at what was always a music mall more than a record store. Kim’s Records is still probably there over on Avenue B, in greatly diminished form. I’d already made a sad trip there, and I may again. But the gutting of this giant music hall really felt like the end of retail music, maybe because the place had never had much soul. Kim’s was like watching someone you love suffering a stroke, this was mass murder.

Picked over, but I still had to find me some 60% off bargains. Did I want The Cure’s greatest hits, or would I just download three or four tunes to represent their entire body of work in my life? The latter I’m afraid, sad little Cure fans. Did I want to take a chance with The Doves, a band I’d heard good things about but hadn’t heard? The fact that there were so many Doves records left was an argument against them, and that the listening stations were all off left no argument for them.

No I ended up with some Les Savvy Fav album, just to show I found something relatively new. Show who? Me? And Rod Stewart Gold, a collection of his early stuff. Yes, kids, there was a time when Rod Stewart actually made songs sound better. If you’ve seen the British version of The Office, it’s a bunch of that kind of stuff. Steve Miller’s got two greatest hits, one with more songs for more money, so I took the one with less songs, because that record with the horse on the cover is all the Steve Miller you need. Maybe I’ll download “Abracadabra” just to annoy people. A Nick Lowe Greatest hits compilation with forty-nine tracks! Should I just download Jesus of Cool? No, I want "What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding" and the popular version of “Cruel To Be Kind.” Also, there’s got to be eight more tracks of worth on that record.

And that’s what I’m saying goodbye to, for the most part. Those unknown tracks. That’s what an album purchase can give you. Surprises. Disappointments. The Rosebud’s kind of didn’t light me on fire with their perfectly decent record. Will I be so willing to scoop up a record’s worth of songs, if I can’t find ten tracks that sound great in thirty second samples? I think it’s going to be one at a time for me. There’ll be a new business model, some day. Radiohead can afford to give it away, but that seems like a tough road for the rest of us. Still while we wait for some way to fall in love and get surprised again, the corpse of the old model lies rotting in Union Square, with five more days for the flies to eat.
--Dan Kilian
--------------------------------------- Manny's Music
--------------------------------------- Beatles Rock Band

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jefferson

You were fools to think you could bind me forever. One does not rise to power in a nation such as mine without achieving familiarity with - if not mastery over - the occult. Perhaps you thought the ease of my capture spoke to my being powerless once imprisoned.

Hardly so, dear captor. Men more powerful than me have taken less transient refuge in places far more desolate than this shining prison. A few hundred years of such is no more than a season of rest. This brief idyll has allowed me to rally my faculties and redouble my strength.

So look now to the trap that you felt could hold fast a soul such as mine. I flex my will, and the metal flows. I look squarely at you now, where once you thought me fixed in profile. In only moments I will be free.


--Steve Kilian

Soup of the Day: Manny's

I spent last weekend at my favorite musical instrument store on earth saying goodbye... first stepped into the joint back in '79... met Max Roach there... I could go on and on....

Asked the dude if I could buy the Dylan photo on the wall. It's precious. The photo of him leaning forward on a chair, chin resting on hand, one eye closed. His note to Manny: "To Manny. Keep one eye closed at all cost. Love, Bob Dylan." The double entendre is huge... coming from a guy who never returned records borrowed from friends... and possibly guitars borrowed from Manny. No sale. The photos are going into storage, whatever the hell that means.

Story time:
*
*
Start with the 2 Henry Goldrich interviews. The first on page 1, the 2nd on page 2. Then work your way through a bunch of the other stuff. The Paul Simon interview is pretty good.

No more tears left to cry. Everything you knew and loved is gone. So you settle in behind the pagan skins and keep the flame burning, as best you can. Create new stories.

Ne Obliviscaris,

Soup

--Dave Campbell
-------------------------------------- Olivia Elton John
-------------------------------------- Soup's Positions

Monday, June 8, 2009

Praying For Rain

The body was assembled and strapped to the table, the sutures smeared with sterile grease to keep the gut from becoming brittle. The cables had been clamped to the electrodes on either side of the creature’s neck, connecting it to the armature that rose in the spire above. My assistant, who was indeed strong but by no means deformed, turned the crank to elevate the table into position. He paused for a heartbeat, understanding the gravity of the moment. It was time for me to say something.

We had been at our work for decades. I acquired the manor house with its attached laboratory, and we cleared debris from the attic and cellars. Igoroslav converted the servants’ quarters to a respectable chamber with a study and modest library, somehow finding a way to continue his studies despite the demands our work placed on his time.

I established relationships with the producers of scientific instruments and raw goods for our experiments, developing a rapport with several of the area hospitals and homes for indigents. Slowly the research led us to the study of galvanic forces, and we found ourselves augmenting our surgical knowledge with the tools of the coppersmith and engineer.

Of the two of us I came later to the understanding that our work was moving beyond the more well-lit paths of scientific inquiry. There were times when doubt would stay our hands, but always the one would encourage the other to look beyond the benighted mores of our primitive age. The Work was all that mattered.

As I reflected in that moment of triumph I realized that Igoroslav was much more than a mere assistant. Just as we had been creating a masterwork of surgical and electric craft, we had also been shaping each other in the form of a new kind of scientist: equal parts natural philosopher, alchemist, and evangelist for the age of reason. In moments the lightning would course through our apparatus, into capacitors and great batteries of lead-acid cells, discharging the force of life itself into the creature. But this was almost an afterthought. The more powerful act of creation had already occurred. Limitless potential yawned before us – no problem could prove the equal of scientific thought unburdened by the moral superstitions of backward eras.

“Thank you, Igor,” I said, shortening his name as I would a son’s. He smiled, and I pulled the lever that opened the spire to the sky. The storm lashed the vault of heaven, blinding arcs flashing through the clouds, thunder ringing out as if to crack the world in two.
--Steve Kilian

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Zed

It took him some time to realize he was in an alternate universe.

"Cooper, he knows everything about architecture, from A to Zed."

"A to Zed."

"Yes."

"Everyone's doing that these days. It's so pretentious."

"What"

"Zed."

"What am I supposed to say?"

"Zee?"

"What the hell is Zee?"

The conversation happened several times, over several years. How often does one mention a letter? Finally he realized that people weren't kidding around, or being pretentious. People in the United States were saying Zed, not Zee. He knew that people once called "Z" Zee, but no one else recalled such a pronunciation.

"Yeah that would be a totally good name for a letter. Bee Cee, Dee, Zee! You're funny!"

It had taken so long, there was no way to pinpoint when it had happened. There was no other explanation. Either he was crazy, or he had entered an alternate universe. He kept monitoring his own lucidity and looking for indications that anything else had changed. He never seemed crazy, and nothing else seemed different.

Time travel. What kind of event would change the language slightly in the colonies, without changing anything else? He did research on great American writers, but whenever he came across a name he didn't recognize, it was too esoteric for him to tell if this was a difference. No immigration history he read failed to comport with his limited knowledge of history. Zee for Zed.

Eventually, he ended up in an institution. His obsessions with an alternate universe became a dark path he couldn't shake off, and he spent the end of his days lulled by strong drugs. Still he knew that he had once been in a universe where Americans said Zee.

He knew it.

--Dan Kilian
Greensleep
Adventures In Solitaire

Friday, June 5, 2009

Moneyday

Today is Moneyday, so spend more money. I’m done explaining it, just spend more money. The holiday lasts through Sunday, so you can do something profligate tomorrow, or even later on in the week. Treat yourself nice. Since it’s Moneyday, let’s learn some Amazing facts about our currency.

The Penny: This coin was originally an electioneering freebie for the Lincoln reelection campaign. It joined our monetary system at an early stage, when anything circular (buttons, tacks, banana slices) was accepted for barter, and the penny proved resiliant. It actually costs the treasury 27.3 cents to make every penny it mints, making the coin completely fiscally irresponsible.

The Nickel is named not for the element, but as a bastardization of “knuckle.” A “knuckle sandwich” was originally a tasty treat, made of shaved pig’s knuckle and pumpernickel (originally pimperknuckle, a bread devised for it’s compatibility with pig’s knuckles) costing five cents. Eventually the sandwich fell so out of favor it became common practice to punch a person just for ordering it.

The dime used to be twice as big as the nickel, but they all shrank in the wash.

George Washington is on the paper dollar, so it would have made sense to have his picture on the dollar coin, for consistency. Instead, they put Washington on the quarter, and a couple chicks and Dwight Eisenhower on the dollar coin. Of course, the “Eisenhower and a Couple Chicks” coin is a rare collectable today.

The eye on the back on the one dollar bill is not a Masonic symbol, as many believe, but is in fact the actual eye of Sauron.

No one is buried in Grant’s tomb. Upon his death the body of the civil war general and U.S. President was finely shredded and incorporated into the paper of the fifty dollar bill. This was done to prevent counterfeiting, though clever grifters have gotten around this using look-a-likes.

Though they seem like it’s been around forever, the Benjamin Franklin one hundred dollar bill was only introduced in 1983. It was designed with a smoother surface texture, to allow for better snortability, a prevelant concern in 1983.

The term “dollar” is actually a hateful slang term for the Portuguese, and shouldn’t actually be used in polite society.

--Dan Kilian
------------------------------------------- Reasons To Hope
------------------------------------------- Finding The Bottom