Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Wanda Wednesday


Thusnelda, Stella, Wanda, Dehli: four of the six Gág sisters. image by Robert Janssen, circa 1927

A friendly family race between sisters. Sisters who, in childhood, had been through hard times together.

Now that they were grown and things were good they had the luxury of this frolic in the meadow.

Wanda, of course, led the pack.


Posted in honor of Shoshanah, who is busy with back to school affairs.



By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 



Monday, August 31, 2015

Moving Sale

I went to a studio closing Friday.



Caitlin Karolczak, Minnesota’s most noted painter of Victorian medical procedure-themed oil paintings, was leaving her old studio space. The building which housed her studio,  located in a charming conversion of an old factory, is becoming a victim of its own success—first it added a thriving brewpub, and then a wedding reception venue. The artists, as usual, seemed to be getting squeezed out.



It was a nice place, I visited it several times: buying some of her art and even managing to have a few art-related conversations with her without coming off as a creepy stalker. Caitlin said she had experienced run-ins with ‘weirdos’ at previous open studios; I think her moving to a more private space may have been a way to clear out some of this excess baggage as well.



I did buy some of her artwork, and even some supplies.



Flippist World Headquarters now has a new painting in a position of prominence:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 



Friday, August 28, 2015

Background



   Emily and Sean and Mary were in the elevator lobby in the Hotel Winneshiek in Decorah, Iowa. Standing in front of an old theatrical background hanging they were on their way to meet Sean’s Aunt Tina who would be joining them for dinner. Sean had called Tina before they had come back to Decorah; Tina was reluctant to meet them at Edwin’s apartment, suggesting that they meet at the Hotel’s restaurant instead.  She had been staying with Edwin ever since the night of the storm, when an armed trespasser on her farm had been struck by lightning. The local police downplayed the incident, but Tina knew that the FBI had been involved and that it was somehow related to Sean and Mary, and to Emily and herself as well.

   “I remember this backdrop.“ said Emily,  “It was for a play about the life of Moses. I saw it here, upstairs in the old opera house, just before I left for New York for the first time.” said Emily. “It seemed so exotic at the time. Seeing that play… that was when I met John. John Regelind the first, that is.  I had won an art contest for the local paper and they gave me a box seat where I could do sketches of the play for use as illustrations in a feature article.  John was in town on business and had a seat in the same box. He was impressed by my ability and, after we talked at intermission, by my personality as well. It was his idea that I should go with him to New York—he said he had connections there—and could set me up with magazine editors and gallery owners.“ Emily paused.  “He set me up all right.”

   ”When I got to New York and became John’s mistress he got me an apartment in Greenwich Village, just couple blocks away from Washington Square. He lived on Lower Fifth Avenue, in the ritzy section, it was a short cab ride to my place.  The Village was a wild place then: a lot of Bohemians, artists, radicals, visionaries.”

   “That’s when you began to collect your book of spells?” asked Sean.

   “Yes, throughout the twenties, I got them from a variety of sources. They were mainly from fortune tellers, gypsies and seers, mostly from eastern Europe and Scandinavia, but some from the Caribbean as well.” Emily said, looking directly at Mary. “I practiced our magic in secret, and I learned what worked, what didn’t work, and what was too dangerous to use.”

   “When did you first become aware of your powers?” asked Mary.

   “I was very young. My mother often told me about my grandmother and warning me about how she had ended up in an asylum. I learned to keep my mouth shut about what I was experiencing.”

                    ————————————————————

   In Edwin Duddle’s apartment, Tina was having second thoughts about meeting Emily at The Winneshiek Hotel. She was at the sink in the bathroom, putting on her make-up. When she picked up her lipstick, she noticed that her hand was shaking.

   “I’ll just leave it at a little powder.” she said to herself, then walked out to the bedroom, where Edwin was struggling with his tie. “Let me help you with that.” she said. Edwin’s hands were trembling as well.

   “I don’t know if I can go through with this, Tina.” said Edwin.

   “Tell me about it.” said Tina, straightening his tie. “I’ve always had some resentment about the way she left me, twice. But there’s no use in trying to rewrite the past. We’ll go and be civil adults. It’s a miracle and we should make the most of it.  When Sean called me from Virginia and said that Emily was alive and that they were going to bring her to Decorah I simply refused to believe what I was hearing. It will be hard for her, too. When she left us we were young, and now… ”

   “Now we’re old. What do I have to show for my life?” said Edwin. “A bad back, arthritis, wrinkles, living above a junk shop.”

   “You’ve got me, Edwin. And I have you.” said Tina, “That’s someone else is something a lot of people would like to have. She won’t begrudge us our happiness.”

   “I suppose you’re right. That can’t erase my memory of what happened.” Edwin said.

   “It doesn’t matter anymore.” said Tina. “Let it go. It’s time to go.”

                    ————————————————————

   Sean and Mary were standing in the front lobby when Tina and Edwin walked in. Emily was in the Ladies Room.

   “Edwin, Tina, so good to see you!” said Sean, embracing Tina, then shaking Edwin’s hand. “Emily will be out in a minute.”

   “I’m so happy that you came back.” said Tina, “After all you’ve been through, I thought I’d never see you two again.”

   “It’s been… interesting.” said Mary. “But this is the beginning of a happier time.”

   “Those men… ?” asked Tina.

   “The Brotherhood? They’re gone. Blown to bits. The FBI said there were explosives stored in a building they were meeting and something, perhaps lightning, triggered a massive explosion.” Mary said, “They had been under investigation for some time, and were on the verge of being arrested anyway. You probably didn’t hear anything about it—it was kept secret in the name of 'national security'.”

   Emily walked into the lobby. She saw Tina and Edwin and walked up to them, grasped their hands and said:

   “Forgive me.”

   Tina burst into tears, and put her arms around Emily.

   “Mother.” said Tina.






Fiction.




By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

State Fair Fine Arts 2015



Another year, another State Fair Fine Arts Exhibit. This year was less than memorable, to put it charitably. Perhaps the phrase 'State Fair Fine Arts' is becoming an oxymoron. Perhaps I'm jaded. The worst offenders were poorly printed digital photos. It was like 1999 all over again: blocked up, pixelated, blurry lo-rez jpeg images. Not all, to be sure, but many—there shouldn't be any in 2015.

I did run into my old pal Nicole, so we commiserated over chocolate malts and selfies:




The best art was found outside the exhibit. This highly decorated stand, not yet open, was even more attractive in the twilight:



Even the kiddie rides took on a special patina in the gloaming:



Better luck next year!

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 



Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer Has Broken



A recent cold front has broken the back of summer with an emphatic statement. The blood red sunsets from western forest fires have been replaced with cool showers and brisk breezes. No more highs in the 80s; an inexorable slide to autumn. Good sleeping weather—the lows will be in the 50s—although I don't mind sleeping when it’s warm. It’s a good thing overall, however. The longer summer lingers, the stranger things get. I’ve had my share of strangeness in the last couple of weeks: odd things, sometimes several times a day, weird events so pointless that they wouldn’t even make good stories. Best left for another day. Or never told at all. Binge-watching the television series Fargo sure didn't help my equanimity any either.

But that was then, now August is nearly gone and September is shaping up to be a blast. I've got a new role to play, that of Father of the Groom (“Show up, shut up, and pony up.”), and I've been enjoying relearning photography with my new equipment. And then, back to Iceland in October.

I think I would go bonkers if I lived in a place which didn’t have regular seasons.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 



Friday, August 21, 2015

Rebirth



   Mary entered the inner room. The air within was akin to that of a greenhouse: warm and humid, almost suffocating. The room was illuminated by a feeble orange glow emanating from an overhead light fixture. A shrouded figure occupied a large table in the center of the room. Mary shut the door behind her. She then removed the shroud and saw the motionless body of a naked woman lying on the ancient table—Emily.

   “Emily, I have come to awaken you." said Mary, who then climbed up upon the table and straddled the body on the bier.  Mary began to recite a chant she had found in Emily’s book of spells:
Ahmen lonah, ethen gonar, rehan delah.
   Mary embraced Emily’s inert body.
Ahmen lonah, ethen gonar, rehan delah.
   As she continued, Mary’s embraces became more passionate.
Ahmen lonah, ethen gonar, rehan delah.
   Mary began moving her body rhythmically over Emily’s.
Ahmen lonah, ethen gonar, rehan delah.
    Fully aroused, Mary’s body became flush with perspiration. 
Ahmen lonah, ethen gonar, rehan delah.
   As she began to come, Mary kissed Emily on the lips, wetly and deeply. Emily’s body began to shake with small tremors, then larger ones, growing to match Mary’s convulsions. Emily took a deep breath and opened her eyes.

                    ————————————————————
 
   Outside, the storm had begun to rage in earnest, with nearly constant lightning and sheets of rain. Sean picked up Mary’s clothes and backpack and set them inside The Chamber House’s outer gate.

                    ————————————————————

   At the Regelind house, The Brotherhood was meeting, preparing for its full moon visitation to The Chamber House. John, who had been the group’s leader, was sitting at the far side of the circular table, across from the new leader. The discussion concerned the recent events in Seattle. The new leader’s policy of assassination had mixed results. Two potential problems, Sally O'Donnell and Tara, the fortune teller/agent had been eliminated by a covert operative. That operative had been on a mission to insure that Tara’s apartment was free of any evidence linking her to the brotherhood, especially her computer. When he had inadvertently entered the duplex apartment next to Tara’s he had been killed.  Regelind knew that even if he hadn’t gone to the FBI, things were deteriorating so quickly the FBI would have uncovered The Brotherhood’s plot anyway. All that he could do now was wait; his preparations that afternoon would ensure that it would all be over soon enough. The meeting adjourned, and the members went to the house’s rear foyer put on rain gear for the walk to the The Chamber House. The CCTV monitor positioned next to the back door, which showed the inside of the the chamber room, was blank.

   “Probably knocked out by the rain.” said John Regelind, when asked about it by one of the members.

                    ————————————————————

   Mary rose up from her position on Emily and cradled Emily’s face in her hands.

   “Welcome back.” Mary said. “How do you feel?”

   “Thank you.” rasped Emily. “Somewhat groggy. Help me sit up.”

   Mary got off the table and put an arm around Emily’s shoulder, lifting her to a seated position.

   “I’ve got some clothes for you outside. I’ll be right back.”

   A gust of cool air swept in when Mary opened the door. She saw Sean standing in the entry, looking out, with her clothes and her backpack lying on the floor behind him.

   “Any sign of anyone yet?” said Mary.

   “No, it's raining pretty hard. Is she…” Sean said.

   “We’ll be out in a minute.” Mary said, picking up her things.

   Back in the inner room, Emily had managed to get up from the table and was standing by her self. Mary helped her get dressed and then put her own clothes on.

   “Can you walk?” Mary asked, and when Emily nodded, Mary said, “I have someone for you to meet.”

   As the women walked out of the room Sean turned around.

   “Grandmother… ” he said, and tenderly embraced her.

   A flurry of yips came from the direction of Regelind’s house.

   “Company’s coming.” said Mary, “We’d better head out. I’ll relock only a couple of the inner door locks. That will keep them from entering the inner room for a while. By the time they figure it out, we’ll be long gone.”

                    ————————————————————

   The members of The Brotherhood walked single-file up the path to The Chamber House. As they approached the rain, which had been pelting, began to let up. When they reached the building the leader of the group motioned for John Reglind III to open the outer gate. Regelind, with shaking hands, opened the padlock and stepped back. The leader entered and reached for the switch to turn on the lights in the outer passage. The five sticks of dynamite embedded in five hundred pounds of anhydrous ammonia, which Regelind had hooked up to blasting caps connected to the light switch, exploded in an instant, and in that same instant the Chamber House, as well as The Brotherhood, ceased to exist.

                    ————————————————————

   Mary and Sean and Emily were already past the fence and several hundred yards down the creek bed when they heard the explosion and felt the shock wave. Debris began raining down a few seconds later, and they sought shelter under the overhanging branches of a large willow tree.

   When it was over Sean asked the women: “Was that your doing?”

   “No.” said Emily and Mary said, “Not me.”

   “Have we seen the last of The Brotherhood?” said Sean. “Here’s to The Matriarchy, may we live to see the new era.”

   “And here’s to my new family.” said Emily.

   “We’ll head out as soon as we can to Iowa; you've got a daughter who’s been waiting to see you for a long time.” said Sean.

   “And then we’ll go back to Seattle.” said Mary. “There’s a great grand-daughter on the way.”

   “Yes, that will be nice.” said Emily. “If I can live that long.”
  
   



Fiction

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Secret Vice



My needs are few, my desires simple. I enjoy partaking of a full-bodied stout on occasion—only with food of course. There are dozens to chose from, running the gamut from nasty (Rasputin) to the transcendent (Speedway Coffee). My latest discovery is very close to the "godhead" and readily attainable.

Night Tripper is from New Holland Brewing, which also makes the ridiculously over-the-top Dragon's Milk which, when paired with Ice Cream, is the ultimate in dessert beer. Night Tripper is very similar, but not as sweet and doesn't have the liquor overtones of DM. These brews are 11+% alcohol so consume with caution—they are very drinkable but a couple of these is the same as a six pack of regular beer. One is plenty for me, my teeth get 'comfortably numb' but I remain able to carry on a conversation. YMMV.

The deliciously perverse description on the label:
An abundance of roasted malts and flaked barley create a rich roaty stout with deeply intense, lush flavors. Layered, nuanced tones invite intrigue and reward a curious palate. Pairings: dark chocolate, stinky cheese, cayenne.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2