Friday, October 02, 2015


   “Have you heard from Emily yet?” asked Sean, as he was putting on his shoes.

   “No, she told me that she’d let us know when she got back—” said Mary, “—that she intended to stay for breakfast. She is a grown up, after all.”

   “She’s the only grandmother I have.” said Sean, rising, “I’d feel terrible if something happened to her.”

   “She knows what she’s doing. She’s old enough to take care of herself. By the way, did the lawyers say why they wanted to meet with you this morning? Did they give you a reason why they didn’t need me?”

   “All they would say is that it concerned my family relationships. Tina will be notified after I speak with her.” Sean turned and looked back at Mary from the bedroom doorway. “They did say that what they had was extremely sensitive information. When Emily arrives, would you text me?”

   “Will do, o man of mystery.”

   Mary was more concerned about Emily than she let on. Mary, through the time spent with her in deep trances, had learned a lot about Sean’s grandmother. There was a darker side to Emily—a ruthlessness which even surpassed Mary’s not inconsiderable drive. Although Mary hadn’t talked to Sean about Emily’s inevitable death. If she continued aging at her accelerated rate it would be coming soon.  Emily had no identity in the modern world and were she to be exposed no one would believe that she was 115 years old. Her death or, more precisely, her corpse, would also complicate the birth of Mary and Sean’s baby.  The birth was yet another thing. The clinic offered what they termed ‘birthing options’ but Mary was leery of an institutional setting for what might prove to be a most unusual event. She had begun to explore midwives, some of whom were adjuncts of the clinic, and others who had a reputation of being on the ‘fringe’ of respectability. Seattle had no shortage of ‘alternative’ practitioners.


   The lawyers that Mary and Sean had employed had done a good job throughout the ‘Billygate’ affair, the sale of ADR, and the various dealings with the FBI and The Brotherhood. They were normally very serious, but as Sean faced them this morning he thought they were as close to being giddy, at least as giddy as such a dour group was capable of being.

   “What’s this about then, gentlemen?” asked Sean.

   “We've been in contact with the agents for the estate of the late John Regelind III. After his fragmentary remains were determined to be him, a death certificated was issued and his will was read.” said the lead lawyer, “His will had been amended shortly before his death. In the will, as well as in accompanying documentary proof, you and your aunt Tina are named as the only living relatives of the Regelind fortune, Tina is the daughter of John Regelind I and the presumed deceased Emily Carroll, you are the grandson of John Regelind II and the aforementioned Emily Carroll, through your late mother, Marilyn. The estate, although quite large, is a relatively simple one. It consists of certain properties in Virgina, and a portfolio of well-managed mutual funds.”

   “And this means?” asked Sean.

   “Well, after the property has been sold and depending on the actual value of the funds on any given day, I would say that you and your aunt would share a figure in the range of the mid to upper eight figures.”

   Just then Sean’s phone buzzed. He glanced at it; it was Mary. Emily had returned.

   “Tell me everything.” said Mary, who had just poured Emily a cup of tea.

   “Well, I’m not one to kiss and tell, but I will say this: M. DuPage was an attentive and unselfish lover." Emily said. She was wearing a sweatshirt and running pants, courtesy of Marcel. Her Schiaparelli was in a garment bag, also courtesy of ‘M.’

   “I really can’t imagine experiencing intimacy on a first date, much less with someone I just picked up.” said Mary. “Wasn’t there even some awkwardness, some… friction?”

   “Nothing a little coconut oil couldn’t overcome.” Emily smiled. “He must have been a boy scout—he was prepared.”

   “Erica Jong’s zipless fuck.” said Mary, shaking her head.


   “I’m sorry, she was an author from the 1970s. I read her when I was a teenager. I was totally aghast.” said Mary. “I didn’t date when I was younger. I didn’t date when I was older either.”

   “Well it was hardly a ‘date.’ By the third dance the outcome of the evening was quite well known—to each of us.” said Emily.

   At that moment Mary’s phone rang. Mary looked at the caller’s ID on the screen and she made an involuntary look of disgust. “It’s my stepmother” she said as she pressed ‘talk’.

   “Hello Harriet.” Mary said in a non-committal tone of voice, “You’re in town?” Mary paused and listened, then said, “Yes, you can come over.” Mary gave her the address and said, “See you soon.” and then hung up.

    “Shit.” she said.



By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Obscure Track of the Month

Basement tape from the Explodo Boys, circa 1977, unedited NSFW version.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sic Transit Gloria Batty

   If you had been reading this on the afternoon of 9-28-15, there is a good chance that I am currently 38,000 feet above the western United States on my way back to Flippist World Headquarters, returning from a family week-end in Seattle (more on that later.)

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Last Dance

   The final leg of the return to Seattle was uneventful. Emily settled into Mary and Sean’s spare apartment. Mary finally made a visit to the clinic for a pregnancy check-up and evaluation and was found to be in excellent health; her pregnancy proceeding normally. Sean began using FaceTime to check-in with Þora and their son. He was pleasantly surprised to discover that Þora was a sensible and pragmatic woman with a good sense of humor, especially in light of the bizarre circumstances of their meeting  and Vilhjálmur's conception (Sean learned that he was Billy’s Kviðmágur). Þora, with the aid of her uncle Hilmar, was also learning more about the ‘old religion’ and using some of Emily’s spells to help manage her son’s behavior. Hilmar had his hands full with the meteoric rise of the spells app and also spent a good deal of time conferring with Mary. Mary and Emily’s personal relationship grew stronger: they spent several hours each day together, bonding in the trance-state and exchanging knowledge and deepening their understanding of the ancient forces which they shared. Mary’s friend Jo had successfully terminated her relationship with her ex, (‘with some help from the spell app’). Molly Berenson’s career in Insurance took a turn for the better—her experiences with the FBI had given her personality a bit of a ‘hard edge’ and a ruthlessness which was not a disadvantage in her profession.

   Back in Decorah, Tina and Edwin finally left Edwin’s apartment and moved into an assisted living facility—together (although Edwin still kept his shop open on weekends). The Carroll family farm was finally sold, and the house torn down. Everyone involved with The Matriarchy felt a great sense of relief that The Brotherhood had been destroyed.

   Emily had some adjustments to make to 21st century life and culture. She began to use the internet to see find information about what had happened to her old Greenwich Village friends. She found a surprisingly large number of books about the era and Sean helped her order some of them on-line.  Emily was amazed at how quickly she received them. Television didn’t interest her much (‘So vulgar!’), and she was somewhat afraid of the numerous homeless people she would encounter when out with Mary and Sean ( she called them ‘empty souls’). Her accelerated aging continued.  She ‘breezed’ through menopause in less than a month (“The one positive thing to be said about my rapid aging!”.) Her health remained good, by the fall she had the appearance of a well-maintained 60-year-old. One day, while out shopping with Mary for things for the baby, she noticed a poster advertising swing dances at The Century Ballroom.

   “I’d like to go to that.” she said to Mary, “I love to dance. Did you know that when I first went to New York I worked in one of those ‘dime-a-dance’ halls?”

   “Really?” said Mary, “I’m not much of a dancer, especially now, but I think Sean is pretty good. That would be a fun thing to do.”

   “It’s tomorrow night.” said Emily. “I’ll need a fancy dress, of course.”

   “We’ve got your old dresses in our storage unit!” exclaimed Mary. “I would think that any of them will turn some heads. That’s a plan!”

   When the women returned to the apartment they went down to the storage unit and brought the box with the dresses up to Emily’s apartment. As they went through the dresses, Emily told Mary the story behind each one. Finally, at the bottom of the box, was a silk and lace dress which Emily carefully unfolded and help up to her body.

   “My Schiaparelli.” said Emily, “This is the one. Help me put it on, Mary. I hope it still fits.”

   Emily removed her top and skirt while Mary spread the dress out on Emily’s bed.

   “It looks to be intact,” said Mary, “My God, it’s absolutely stunning!”

   Emily carefully steeped into the dress and Mary zipped up the back.

   “It fits! It fits!” Emily said, as she did a little pirouette in front of the dressing-mirror, “I’m going to break some hearts tomorrow night.”

   “The power of The Matriarchy expressed in haute couture!” said Mary, laughing.


   The next night Emily and Mary and Sean went to the swing dance. There was a slight drizzle, so Emily’s outfit was completely covered by one of Sean's large rain jackets. They entered the ballroom’s crowded lobby unnoticed and went over to the coat check. Sean helped Emily with her wrap, then aided Mary with hers. They stood for a moment and then began to walk arm in arm, with Sean in the middle, toward the ballroom.  As they walked, the characteristic of the sound of the people talking changed—what was an undifferentiated roar became a murmuring. This change of tone caused a another change in the crowd’s behavior. People began to stop talking and as they did they turned toward the trio. Mary and Sean had a limited notoriety in the Seattle area, especially in the tech community, but all eyes were on the stunning gray-haired woman on Sean’s left arm.

   The dance was beginning, and Mary gave Sean a nod while looking at Emily. Sean had taken ballroom dancing while in college as a way to meet girls, he had given it up when he actually started meeting them. He was competent but soon realized that he was out-classed. Emily seemed to be floating; anticipating Sean’s every move and adding graceful flourishes to each action. As the couples around them whirled Sean got the sense that they were checking out the ‘newcomers’ as much as they were enjoying dancing to the music.  After the first number ended a distinguished looking older man in a tux came over to Emily and Sean and held his hand out to Emily.

   “May I have the pleasure of this next dance?” he said.

   “Of course. ” said Emily, “You don’t mind, do you Sean?”

   Sean smiled and nodded, and Emily and her new partner were off. Sean rejoined Mary who was sitting on the sideline looking at a brochure describing the swing dance program.

  “That didn’t take Emily long.” said Mary, pointing to a picture in the brochure, “Marcel DuPage. Her partner is the top dog at this kennel show.”

   Marcel had met his match, and knew it. When the second number ended they danced through the third, and fourth as well. Emily then begged off, although she was far from tired, she knew that sitting out would only increase the man’s desire.

   “Not a bad performance for a little old lady.” Emily said to Mary. “I'll let him think about it for a while.”

   Sean and Mary got up and joined the throng on the dance floor. A few of the other women at the dance came over to where Emily was sitting.

   “That was wonderful,” said one of the women, “and your dress, it’s fabulous! Is that vintage? Where did you get it?”

   “It has been in the family for a long time. It’s a Schiaparelli.” said Emily. “Are you regulars here?”

   “Oh, yes,” said another, “We’ve been coming ever since Mr. DuPage began Swing Night at the Century, but I’ve never seen anyone dance with him the way you have. Are you a professional? You’re new to Seattle, yes?”

   “I learned to dance in New York City, but I’ve been out of the scene for a while. It’s good to see that younger people still doing these dances.” said Emily. With a twinkle in her eye she added: “What should I know about Mr. DuPage?”

   “A gentleman, but faithless.” said another. “Some might call him a cad. He really is a nice man, but he will never allow himself to be tied down. Just giving fair warning.”

   “I see. Thanks for information.” said Emily. “If you’ll pardon me, it appears that Marcel is coming my way. I’ll be careful.”

   And Emily and Marcel danced.

   Later on Sean and Mary went home, without Emily.




By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Fall Season on FITK

I’ll be in and out of out of town a lot in the next three weeks causing my  posts to be even more haphazard than usual. In light of that fact I’m giving an update on my link-list (featured in the sidebar) in case you are looking for some more sustenance from your usual blog-fodder.

Culture: Starts off with All Dylan, which some might call Too Much Dylan. Still, it is a wealth of information and innumerable concert videos of Bob as well as those of related artists. Sheila O’Malley’s The Sheila Variations is a movie and pop-culture review site with an occasional foray into literature and a serious infatuation with the music of The Troggs, extremely well-written. Tyler Cowen’s MarginalRevolution economics blog is often incomprehensible to me but has great links and interesting cultural side trips.

Literati includes Azizi’s pancocojams which offers an in-depth look at a wide variety of culture descended from African roots. Jono’s Otto’s Son occasional blog has been on a roll lately, with interesting excerpts from his father’s WWII diaries and photo essays on life in the arrowhead region of Minnesota' 'North Coast'. Over on the East Coast, Karen Newton’s I COULD GO ON AND ON really does just what the title implies; I wouldn’t miss a single day of this Joie de vivre blog from Richmond, Virginia. Like Nabokov, Karen is, above all else, a first-class "noticer". Shoshanah’s diary is the chronicle of a kindred spirit’s quest to make sense of life, art, child-rearing and animal husbandry; she is a true Flippist Master.

Iceland: Alas! My Icelandic connections have been fading lately, the notable exception being Auður's stellar I Heart Reykjavík. She has managed the extremely rare feat of turning her blog into a successful commercial enterprise without losing her personal touch. Her Twitter feed (in the TNT sidebar link) is great as well.

Tech: A more technical offering, but also somewhat "Flippist", is Bob the Scientist’s Science matters.  Often obscure but always astute.

TNT includes two twitterers of note: Aparna Nancheria, who is a stand-up comic and writer, has a great feed. I often find myself laughing out loud at her koan-like pronouncements on modern life. I don't have any idea who Mike Ginn (not the actor) is but I find his twitter feed hilarious.

Of course you are welcome to peruse all the links in my sidebar (you can even check out my depressing sitemeter). I use them as sort of a personalized RSS feed (remember those?)

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Monday, September 21, 2015

No Flash Please!

   I recently removed the Flash Player from my operating system. It was easy to do, and I've enjoyed the freedom from the constant barrage of Flash updates which I had been experiencing, as well as the FUD that comes with Flash security issues. Granted, there are many sites which still rely on Flash player, but I have found that I really don’t need to watch every single adorable kitten video. If there is some content which I feel that I really must see, I can check it out on The Weaver’s iPad,  a device which has never supported Flash (Thanks, Steve Jobs!).

   Outside of a few technical sites, I find that I've been using the I've been using the Internet less and less; is this a trend? I've been know to be a trend-setter in the past. Who knows? Perhaps we’re all on the verge of a Post-Web era.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, September 18, 2015


   Sean had planned on doing all the driving on their trip back to Seattle. Mary and Emily sat in the back seat, exchanging thoughts via Sean's ring. Sean had plenty of time to think as well—wondering what, if anything, the collapse of The Brotherhood would mean for Mary and him.  With the threat of an attack over, Sean and Mary could stay in their old place while Emily would stay in the other apartment in the building. A more subtle concern was Emily’s influence on Mary. The two women were on a different plane from Sean, and he had more than a touch of resentment of the way Emily monopolized Mary’s attention.  But if Emily’s statement’s about her aging were correct, Sean wouldn’t have long to worry about her.

   “What a horrible thing to think!” thought Sean. “I should be grateful for the chance to spend time with her.” 

   A more pressing concern for Sean was Mary’s pregnancy. She was nearly three months along and still hadn’t had an exam or done any other preparation for the delivery, although it didn’t seem to bother her. That train of thought led back to the question of Emily. She wasn’t exactly what Sean would consider for a role model for motherhood but  it was good that Mary had made a connection to someone who had been through the experience. Mary’s past was still a blank, perhaps it would be a good idea to get in touch with her adoptive parents, although that was still a touchy subject for Mary. It was a distinct possibility that it could do more harm that good.

   As they approached Rapid City,  Sean looked for a place to stay. There was a strip of hotels and restaurants just off the freeway and he pulled into a Holiday Inn that had an adjoining steakhouse. After they registered the trio walked over to get something for supper. The steakhouse was part of a national chain; it was busy but the host said they could eat in a booth in the bar. While they waited for their food Emily became distracted by the river of images flowing across the television screen that was mounted above the bar. It was a cable news show, with images of wars and disaster, full of talking heads providing commentary.

   “It doesn’t seem real at all.” said Emily. “It’s a bad dream, worse than that, it’s a senseless dream. ”

   “You’ll learn to tune it out.” said Mary, “The biggest problem is that they write the stories before they shoot the footage. Everybody knows that—knows that it’s all fake.”

   “Well, tell me, what is the point?” asked Emily. “How does anyone know anything about anything?”

   “If it’s on the internet it must be true.” quipped Sean.
   “I’m still in the dark as to how that works,” said Emily, “I’ve seen you two use it, but who runs it?”

   “A lot of it is by the big corporations that run the media networks, but a fair amount is
by the people who create their own content for it.” said Mary, “It’s unique in the way it allows anyone access to publishing. That may not always be the case. There are plenty of special interests which can’t stand its openness and would love to have full control.”

   The newscast shifted to images of glaciers and volcanoes.

   “Look Sean, Iceland!” said Mary.

   The landscape scenes shifted to an interview with a man wearing a knit sweater.

   “It’s Hilmar!” said Sean.

   “You know this man?” asked Emily.

   “Hilmar is the man heading the group who came up with the application that promotes the old religion.” said Mary, I’ve donated some of the spells from your books to the cause.”

   The TV showed a group of people standing in a square with the title ‘Reykjavík’ superimposed on the screen below them. There were shots of people holding smart phones and chanting. The camera broke away to more talking heads, evidently discussing the situation.

   “I wish I knew what they are saying.” said Emily.

   “We'll watch it back at the hotel.” said Sean, “They repeat these shows every hour.”

   After dinner, back at their suite, Sean fiddled with the TV's remote until he found the cable news channel. When the broadcast cycle returned to the feature on Iceland, Sean turned the sound up. Over a background of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, the announcer began:

   “The latest hot app comes from the land of fire and ice—Iceland. A neo-pagan group has been promoting itself with a smart-phone application which purports to offer actual spells, Here is its leader Hilmar Steinarsson, leader of the group, talking about the app and its explosive growth:

   ‘Já, this app has been growing exponentially each day in the two weeks since its release. The spells it offers are intended to allow the user to be more in tune with the natural world, and to ease some of the problems of modern existence. There are people all over the world who have incorporated these simple chants and have found them helpful in their daily lives.’

   Here are a few testimonials from its satisfied users:

   ‘I’ve found that the chants have helped my dealing with others, and improved my relationship with my husband immensely.’

   ‘My children are better behaved and my eldest daughter has found them to be helpful when doing her homework.’

   From Iceland, this has been Peter Nicols reporting…”
      “Behold! The power of the Internet!” said Mary, with a flourish. “Your spell books have gone viral, Emily!”


By Professor Batty

Comments: 2