Monday, June 29, 2015

Two Creatures Great and Small



I’ve been experimenting with my newest toy, a Pentax Q-S1 mirrorless camera. Petite (the body is the size of a deck of cards) yet surprisingly powerful, it has the ability to use almost any lens ever made, with sensor-based shake reduction! The above shot was made handheld with a converted enlarging lens (Apo-Rodagon-N 90mm f4) at a distance of about three feet. The pic below is of the catbird who lives in our backyard. We have some kind of inter-species relationship (its complicated.) Same set-up, about six feet away:

By Professor Batty


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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Matinee - #26



Everyone’s favorite Icelandic Rockabilly band.

Iceland Airwaves, October 2006.

By Professor Batty


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Friday, June 26, 2015

Power Play



   The next day found Sean sitting in a room full of lawyers, negotiating paternity and child support issues for his son, Vilhjálmur. Meanwhile, Mary was in a SUV, being driven to Snæfellsnes by Þora’s uncle Hilmar.

   “The legendary center of cosmic energy.” said Mary, as the dormant, snow capped  volcano came into view. “I can feel something already.”

  “Já, one of the seven portals.” said Hilmar. “We'll be there soon enough, are you up to it? Many disbelievers and scoffers have been humbled in its presence. Is it all right with your man that you should be out here?”

   “My man understands.” Mary said. “He is doing what  needs to be done, as I am also doing what needs to be done. Tell me about your organization, Hilmar.”

   “We are a group of like-minded souls, people who share a respect for the old ways. There are several hundred of us in Iceland. There has been an interest shown by numerous groups outside of Iceland as well. We even have an ‘app’ now.”

   “What kinds of things do you have on your app?” said Mary.

   “Affirmations, essays on the old religion, a way to keep in touch without having to use The Facebook. We prefer to keep control of the app to ourselves. How about you? Do you have an internet presence?”

   “Outside of my naked pictures, no. Did you see them?” Hilmar shook his head and then Mary said: “Could you use some spells, in your app? Real spells that have power?”

   “Do you think that would be wise? There is no end to the amount of mischief that people manage to get into.”

   “That is the chance we must take. I have been given some powers, but for the change to happen there needs to be many more of us—one solitary person is only a shot away from oblivion.”

   “Are there forces that would do that to you?”

   “Yes, and they are highly organized. That was what Billy was on the verge of uncovering when he died. They will stop short of nothing to retain their power.” Mary paused, and then said: “One of the reasons we’re here in Iceland is to escape from their attacks. They tried to kill Sean’s aunt. I saved her life that time, but there others who I could not save.”

   As the glacier-topped peak grew closer, and Hilmar turned onto the road which led part way up to the peak.

   “This will take us about a third of the way up.” said Hilmar, “We'll need to walk the rest of the way.”

   “I’m so charged I think I could fly the rest of the way.” Mary said, with a fiercely intent look upon her face. “If I seem to lose consciousness, just let me be. I may be ‘out’ for a while.”

   Hilmar parked the car at the end of the road and they stepped out into the cold air. The sky was cloudy, but not threatening. Mary stepped away from the vehicle and stood still.

   “Everything OK?” asked Hilmar.

   “It’s… it’s… fantastic. Lead on.”

   The couple trudged up, Hilmar respected Mary’s ‘condition’ by refraining from unnecessary conversation. Only when they reached the glacier did Hilmar speak, and then to point out hazards. After a few minutes Mary spoke:

   “It’s very close.” she said as she moved back and forth on the ice. Hilmar kept a close eye on her movements. They were in a relatively flat area, free of crevasses, but Hilmar knew there was always the possibility of a mishap.

   “Here.” Mary said, and she stood still with her arms crossed over her chest.

   Hilmar watched as she closed her eyes and began to breathe deeply.

   “The power! The power!” Mary suddenly shouted. Hilmar became concerned when Mary began to shake. He considered trying to touch her but he remembered what she had told him about interfering. As he watched, it seemed as if a mist was forming around her.

   And then she was gone.

   “Mary!” Hilmar cried. “Mary!”

  

  
Fiction

By Professor Batty


Comments: 6 



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Reykjavík Nights



An Inspector Erlendur Mystery
By Arnaldur Indriðason
Minotaur Books, US edition 2015

   Hooray! Erlendur is back, this time in sort of a prequel to the other books in the series. Set in 1976, Erlendur is a young traffic officer who works the night shift in Reykjavík. To the usual mix of accidents, drunks and domestics is added the the case of two missing women and the apparent death by drowning of an alcoholic who Erlendur had gotten to know. As is usually the case in this series, apparently unrelated events have hidden connections. Erlendur’s stubbornness leads him through the city in a quest to find the answers to his questions, questions the police had given up on.

   If you are familiar with Reykjavík be sure to have a map of the city handy when reading, Indriðason provides street names to all the locations. The book features the city’s new building projects, giving a sense of the era between its World War II-era past and its modern incarnation. I found it fascinating, those readers without a special interest in the city may find it less so. Indriðason is exploring some aspects of his own coming-of-age in this book, with numerous seventies cultural references.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 4 



Monday, June 22, 2015

The Art of Asking

I first became aware of Amanda Fucking Palmer a few years ago; a local photographer needed several negatives scanned, printed and mounted on foam core for a Kickstarter party to be held in Berlin. I found out that she was married to Neil Gaiman, and that she had a successful punk/cabaret act, The Dresden Dolls. Her TED talk has been seen by millions. The book could be considered a ‘self-help’ title, but it is really a meditation on unconditional love. Amanda started her public performance career as a ‘living statue’; a seven-foot tall bride in whiteface wearing a Bettie Page wig and holding a bouquet. When people would put money in the donation hat she would break pose and give them eye contact and a flower. This morphed into a musical/cabaret act, which ultimately raised over a million dollars in a Kickstarter for her groups new album. Of course she was almost immediately vilified by the media, but as the book relates, she managed to overcome it. Whether you enjoy her music and performance art or not, it is hard not to be inspired by someone who gives and gives and who has found an audience capable of returning the gift.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Matinee - #25



Iola Wisconsin, 1970

Music: “Cottage Cheese” by Minnesota band Crow

By Professor Batty


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Friday, June 19, 2015

Family Reunion



   Sean could barely keep from gasping when he first saw Vilhjálmur Stefán as he emerged from his room. Mary and Sean where in the living room of Þora’s basement flat. Sean recognized features in the boy that were very similar to pictures of himself at that age. The toddler was shy at first, but lost his reserve when he looked at Mary, walking right up to her and lifting his hands in the universal sign for ‘up’. Mary obliged and when he was in her lap they stared at each other for several seconds. Þora, who until this point had been very uncomfortable, involuntarily smiled.

   “Someone’s found a friend.” said Þora.

   ”Mamma. Mary, mamma, Mary” said Vilhjálmur, pointing to Mary.

   “Now how did you know her name, litl one?” said Þora.

   “We are connected souls. ” said Mary, “He can read my mind.”

   The door bell rang and Þora answered it. It was Þora’s uncle, Hilmar, who had been aware of the child’s powers and was keen on meeting Sean.

   “You must be Sean—” said Hilmar, “—and you are Mary, of course. I am Hilmar, Þora’s uncle.”

   Hilmar removed his jacket. he was wearing a t-shirt which was adorned with the logo of an old on-line game.

   “If you tell me the name of your avatar,” said Mary as she pointed to his shirt, ”I‘ll tell you mine.”

   Hilmar was taken aback by this, and gave her a sheepish grin.

   “So you are familiar with The Other Realms?” he said, “I was known as Biggi Baddi, and you are…?”

   “You were a grand master. I was Alleystar.” said Mary, as she set Vilhjálmur down on the floor, “The Other Realms was my creation. ”

   “You are a legend.” Hilmar said, “What happened? Why did you disappear? The Other Realms turned to shit after you left.”

   “I received an offer I couldn’t refuse.” said Mary. “In real life. How about you? What are you up to?”

   “I’ve started up a branch of The Old Religion. Paganism. The time is right, the need is there. The Old Religion was suppressed by bloodshed. The New Order will come about with Love.”

   “You do understand that this child is part of this?” said Mary. “It is no accident that Sean and Þora met.” Mary could sense that Hilmar had some awareness of the New Order, but was not on the same level as her, or, for that matter, Vilhjálmur. “Will you excuse us? Hilmar and I need to be alone for a few minutes. Hilmar, come, we can talk in the kitchen.” They left the room, leaving Þora and Sean with Vilhjálmur.

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

     It was 3 A. M. in Seattle. Jo had not been sleeping well since the murder of Madame Tara earlier in the week. She was slated to start her new job as a barista that day and although she had to get up early she didn’t want to get up quite that early. She was also worried that her ex in Spokane may have found out where she had gone.  He had told her that he would kill her if she left. Jo took him at his word. As she was lying in bed, wide awake in the dark, she heard the the unmistakable sound of the backdoor lock being tinkered with. Her roommate was out of town and now that Madame Tara was dead, there would be no one else who should be trying the door. Jo felt under her pillow for the .38 caliber revolver that she had owned ever since her prior relationship went bad. She heard the lock click open and, holding her breath, could discern the sound of footsteps—faint, as if made with soft soled shoes—and she drew back the hammer on the gun: the sound of its cocking was muffled by the pillow. The sound of the footsteps came nearer. When they reached the carpeted hallway, Jo could no longer hear them. Her bedroom door was open, surrounding the darkness beyond it was the outline of its jamb.

   Suddenly, a black shape filled the doorway—a man—but one with a strangely shaped head. The head turned toward her and, with a rush, the figure was in her bed on top of her, placing his hands over her mouth. She felt a plastic rim pressing against her teeth, an a bitter taste entered her mouth. Jo emptied the revolver into the man’s midsection. The man’s body spasmed and, surprising herself with her strength, she rolled the man to the floor and leapt out of the bed. She ran out of the room and into the bathroom where she locked the door. There was a burning sensation in her mouth and she spit into the sink, and then rinsed her mouth with mouthwash. Only then did she take a breath. She could hear the man moaning in the other room, and then she heard a louder groan.  It was quiet. She waited for what seemed like an hour and then got the nerve to open the bathroom door. She quietly went to the kitchen and got the biggest knife she could find. Returning to the bedroom, she turned on the light and saw the man lying on his back on the floor, apparently dead, lying in a pool of blood. He had a night-vision apparatus on his head, and there was what looked like an asthma inhaler in his hand.

   It was not her ex.

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

   Mary had Hilmar sit across from her at the kitchen table. She began to probe his mind, gently at first, but as she realized that he was receptive, she began to communicate with him with her thought.

   “So, you possess the awareness.” she began. “You realize that we are part of of an enlightenment—you, me, Sean, the child. There are others, Our time is coming.”

   “Yes, is it really true, are you the chosen one?” thought Hilmar.

   “I am the vessel. The next generation will transform the world.” Mary thought, “We must prepare the way for the Goddess reincarnate, as well as her consort.

   “And how shall we know her, and where shall we find him?” thought Hilmar.

   “The consort is in the next room, with his father and mother.” thought Mary. “The Goddess incarnate is here, within me.

 

     

Fiction

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3