Thursday, May 31, 2012

Beats



    The club was larger than it appeared on the outside, its mirrored columns and an arched roof gaving it a cavernous appearance. The pulsing bass beat was evidently originating from a young man who was standing on the stage, gazing intently at a pair of laptop computers. From time to time, he would interact with this gear; Sean hoped that he was actually doing something and not just playing a recording. The music was loud and boring. Except for the brilliantly lit stage, the room was quite dark. Sean couldn’t really see much from where he was standing at the back of the room. He slowly made his way around the side of the hall toward the front where he thought he might have a better view.

    Ending up in a corner, Sean was able to scan the whole crowd. It was undulating in approximate synchronization with the heavy techno beats. As he scanned the faces of the dancers he sensed that someone was looking him over as well. Sean couldn't see Billy but when he looked across the room he met the gaze of a pair of tough-looking men, men who were in the process of making their way through the crowd to where he was standing. They weren’t dancing. Sean’s danger sense began going ballistic and he headed for the door. The men changed their trajectory. Sean began to move faster and by the time he reached the lobby he was almost running.

    Once outside, Sean went around the corner to a side street. Just when he thought he had lost his pursuers, he was stunned to find them standing in the alley directly ahead of him. The venue had a rear exit. Sizing up the situation, Sean knew that each man was bigger than him and certainly much stronger. He turned around and began running back toward the square. There was a big hotel on its far side, Sean felt that if he could make it there he would have a chance. As he neared the Hotel’s entrance, he bumped into a woman who was leaving.

    “Sean! My lucky night! Hahaha!”

   It was Sally, the wild woman from the plane. Of course—they were in front of The Hotel Borg. Sally had told him that she would be staying there. The thugs continued walking toward Sean.

    “Sally! Am I glad to see you!” He took her arm as nonchalantly as he could then whispered in her ear “I seem to have attracted the attention of some undesirables back at the club. Would you be so kind as to offer me sanctuary until they lose interest?”

    “But of course,” she said as they were buzzed into the lobby, “You do realize that now you are in my clutches, don’t you?” Sally said, smiling like the Cheshire Cat. The desk clerk, a young woman who had been reading an e-book, nodded to Sally as they entered the elevator.

    “You’re in the spider’s web now, fly-boy,” Sally said. Her smile was tighter now. The look in her eye was strangely piercing. Sean was still holding her arm. Sally took it as an invitation to move closer. Her scent was expensive and was complimented by a top note of fruity wine. Sean thought that she was drunk. The couple got off on the fourth floor and walked down the hall to Sally’s room.

    “Well,” said Sean, after they were in,  “I’m impressed by your taste.”

   Sally’s room had been exquisitely decorated with original art and expensive furnishings. Sean’s apartment seemed shabby in comparison. The room’s windows faced the square, where Sean could see his adversaries loitering; one was talking on a cell phone.

    “Let me take your jacket, Sean. Sit down, oh! Take off that silly sweater, too, don’t worry, I won’t molest you… Much. Hah! Excuse me a moment,” Sally said as she went into the bathroom.


    Sean reasoned that if he had to choose between Sally’s charms and a beating by a couple of goons, he’d take my chances with her. He thought it unlikely that she’d actually fight him, but Sean could clearly see that she was ready to wrestle.





Fiction

By Professor Batty

            —————————————————————————


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Student as a Nigger


Metropolitan Junior College, Minneapolis, 1970

In 1967 the LA Free Press published an essay in The Los Angeles Free Press by Jerry Farber titled The Student As a Nigger. It spread like wildfire, first through underground newspapers, then as handouts in College English and Communications classes. It has since been reprinted many times. The tone of the essay is more than a little polemic, but the idea that students are "slaves" of the powers that be is getting more attention these days. The recent case of the 17 year girl in Texas shows exactly what kind of master-slave relationship still exists. Even in "progressive" Minnesota, where a 12 year old girl was allegedly forced to give up her Facebook™ password to school authorities.

Sure, she's only a kid, but more employers are asking to see would-be employees FB accounts as part of their employment interview; I would suggest it is all part of the same continuum. This issue, along with many other problems inherent in social networks, will keep me out. I believe the operating phrase is "Anything you say will be held against you."

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

            —————————————————————————


Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer Reading - I

In my part of the world summer "officially" starts on Memorial day. A day which, in Minnesota, is often pretty cold and miserable. Especially if one is camping or at a lake cabin. Be that as it may, the coming of summer offers the prospect of languid days, long sunsets and warm nights. Perfect for curling up with "summer reading." Whatever that means. Light fiction to match light clothes? Breezy escapism to help escape the heat? With the rise of electronic books and the deluge of other e-media, one's options are broader than ever. After burning out on Faroese authors last winter I'm on a hiatus from weighty novels. I will, however, still be checking my internet favorites— short form writing that is a perfect companion for one's morning coffee or a no-calorie bedtime "snack." So here are four of my favorites, all of which brighten my world:


First up is I Heart Reykjavík, a one person guide to Reykjavík and its surrounding areas, by "Auður". Much more informative than the usual travel blog or guide-book fare, Auður's intimate approach (each post is about her personal experience) coupled with occasional glimpses of her own life makes this a must for anyone interested in a trip to Iceland. Her latest post, about a fascinating museum that I'd never heard of, is a good example of her insider information.

Auður is not just another enthusiastic blogger- she has years of experience in the travel industry and possesses an engaging writing style as well.

New material about twice a week.



Cafe Selavy bills itself as "An eclectic reflection about life in the present. Photography. Brief writings."

Created by a somewhat enigmatic professional photographer, this definitely NSFW site contains consistently excellent writing about the personal conflicts of an artist's life.

The pictures of masked models (often wearing little else) are pretty good as well.

Daily posts, with several years of writing and photography to peruse.



The Kasper Stromman Design Blog is, without a doubt, the most hilarious "Design" site in the history of the internet.

This Finnish designer is unafraid to poke fun at Finland, Finnish design ("without the birch veneer bits") and himself.

Wildly eclectic, sometimes just plain silly, Kasper's view of the world of design is definitely off-kilter .

Published several times a week.



A more serious site is wdvalgardson's kaffihus. Its author, "Bill" Valgardson is a professional writer and published author who specializes in the history of Icelandic immigrants in Canada.

This blog may be a bit esoteric for many readers, but the excellence of the writing and the humanity of the stories transcends genre.

New posts about twice a week.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 

            —————————————————————————


Friday, May 25, 2012

Sharon Said









Sharon exists in a universe of her own creation. Glimpse it, Fridays at FITK

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 

            —————————————————————————


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Big in Japan...

... or, the one that got away. My cherished Japanese "Bizarre Guitar", a 1965 Guyatone LG-200T, is rare in its native Japan, and extremely so in the U.S. It was never imported here (no 'Made in Japan' markings) and its somewhat outré appearance has kept it from being iconic. Imagine my surprise when I found one for sale on Seattle's Craigslist (pictured at right.)

   I was tempted to buy it (if owning one is good, having two must be great, right?) but the steep price ($600) for a fairly beat-up novelty was just too much.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 12 

            —————————————————————————


Monday, May 21, 2012

Art-a-Whirl 2012


Maison des Artistes

Another installment of Northeast Minneapolis' art crawl event has come and gone. Akin to a traffic accident, so I just had to look. Minute variations on a theme— perhaps the result of too much art education? I found that as I traversed one converted warehouse after another full of unfinished, lifeless canvases and just plain ugly artwork it didn't really bother me. For the most part, this is a world unto itself, with its own set of priorities that didn't include me.

These straw monkeys with cell phones in a steel-lined room said something about the human condition, or perhaps it was a comment on the bad reception:


Brian Sobaski

Some of the older buildings had equipment left over from their previous existences. I found these tableaux to be as compelling as the exhibits:



But there were some exceptions to the artifice. The Bright Blue Earth Studio was one of them, it was full of life:


Tortuga

And life is good:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 

            —————————————————————————


Friday, May 18, 2012

Sharon's Squirrels

Hats and purses for everyone.
Sharon's very own charitable goodness at work.
These rodents have never been happier.







Gather nuts while ye may, with Sharon at FITK

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

            —————————————————————————


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nightlife



   As Sean walked down to the old harbor he was trying to figure out his next move. The city was obviously too small to have two Billy Clarksons. He would have to change his appearance enough so he could go unnoticed, but still be able to impersonate him if needed. Wearing glasses and hiding his hair under a hat was the best solution Sean could come up with for the short term. He thought he might be able to find a costume shop in the morning.

   The buzz from Sean’s phone broke his reverie. It was a text from Seattle where his ADR crew was monitoring activity from Billy’s laptop. They hadn’t able to read the data but could tell that the device was being used in a wifi hot spot in or around The Hotel Holt. According to Sean’s GPS it was just a few blocks away. He made his way past the pond and then up the hill to the Hotel. After he looked around at an intersection at the top, he was able to see the hotel looming under the night sky. Its architectural style was definitely of the ‘Depressed Scandinavian’ school. Sean weighed his options. Should he wait on the street in the hope of intercepting Billy as he left, or should he just barge in and make a scene? If Billy was also wearing his Icelandic sweater, people would think they were twins. Sean checked his phone: Billy was still nearby. Sean went in.

   The lobby was infinitely more inviting: tasteful decor, large paintings, and leather chairs. Except for a clerk at the counter, it was empty. A quick scan of the restaurant and the lounge revealed a few more people, but not Billy. Sean couldn’t search all the rooms, obviously, Billy might not even be in the hotel. Was he nearby, outside perhaps? Sean went out to the street and walked around to the hotel’s service entrance. He looked at the properties near the hotel but saw no one. He was just about to check the lobby again when a buzz from his phone signaled an incoming text from ADR in Seattle: Billy had just terminated his access.

   Sean headed back to his apartment via a different route. He walked over the bridge which bisected the pond, then went past a row of houses facing the pond before he jogged over to the street where his apartment was situated. Sean needed more information than his phone could deliver. When he turned to go into his apartment, Sean noticed that the Russian Embassy across the street was dark, as if they weren’t expecting company. He entered his apartment and opened his laptop. After logging in he, opened the ADR file on Billy. There was a bunch of new stuff—they were building a database of Billy’s movements. They had overlaid the Wi-Fi connection points Billy had used onto a map of the city. There were even thumbnails of the photos they found of Billy but they hadn’t yet linked. Sean saw that they were tracking him as well: his trip to Karamba had already been noted. He went through a door that opened on the apartment’s small balcony. From the balcony he had a clear view of the Russian Embassy. A solitary figure, most likely a man, walked past the Embassy before retracing his steps. Looking around for a second, the man vaulted over the wrought-iron fence surrounding the compound.  He then disappeared into the darkness in the shrubbery that circled the Embassy building.

  The shadowy figure looked a lot like Billy.

   Running out of his apartment, Sean dashed across the street to where he had seen the man enter the Embassy grounds.

   “Billy... Billy... It’s me… Sean...”, Sean said as loudly as he dared.

   No response. The wind had begun to pick up. Sean, shivering, realized that he had left his jacket behind.

   “Billy... Billy… I know you’re there. Come out and talk. You know that I’m here for you? Just like it used to be in school—I’m there when you need me.”

   Sean thought about jumping the fence but he knew that getting caught in Russian territory would not only jeopardize his mission, it could possibly cause an international incident.

   “Billy, listen to me. I want to talk to you,” said Sean, “Whatever is going on, I don’t care. If you aren’t ready to talk now, email me—use my old address, it’s still good.”

   No response came from the shrubbery. As the wind began to really howl, a light came on in a window in the embassy. Reluctantly, Sean turned and went back to his apartment.

   Once inside, he turned off all the lights and looked out across the street at the Embassy. After a few minutes the light in the Embassy window was switched off; after a few minutes more, Sean saw the man, who he thought might be Billy, jump back over the fence and take off running, going past the Embassy and then around the corner. Sean grabbed his jacket and left the apartment.

   When Sean reached the corner, he crouched down and slowly peered around a fence. He could see Billy, or whoever it was, walking a block ahead of him. The figure reached a spot where street led to a square. Sean let the man get just out of his sight and then began to run in his direction.  Breathless, Sean arrived at the spot where the street opened up to the big square on his left. A somber government building was on his right. Just ahead stood a church, strangely glowing under the night sky. There was no sign of the man. Looking back to his left, Sean saw a group of people huddled around a doorway on the far side of the square. Perhaps his quarry had taken refuge there?

   When Sean got closer to the queue he could see that it was the entrance to some kind of music venue. Throbbing music emerged from its open door. A doorman stared hard at Sean as he approached—perhaps he thought he was seeing double? Sean didn’t see that he had any other option than to pay the cover and go in.





Fiction

By Professor Batty

            —————————————————————————


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Memories in 3-D


Anoka, Minnesota, 1989, Photo by C.C.      

Just a snapshot from a Nimslo camera. You could get your pictures made with the lenticular grid designed for the camera but I would just print them, cross my eyes, and then focus on middle image to create a 3-D effect.

That's me in the back, with one of my sons and his friend in front. I was a cold, rainy day in March, the Rum River is behind us and is still covered in ice. It was just a Saturday spent exploring the town, nothing really special, just ordinary special.

3-D doesn't make the memory of that day any more real. The relationships that constitute those memories are not spatial, but they are multidimensional. Will technology advance to the point where nearly any event deemed worthy of capture will be preserved in HD 3-D video, stereo surround sound and "smellovision?" And if it happens, will the recreation of the event supplant any human memories we may hold dear?

What would be the point?

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 

            —————————————————————————


Monday, May 14, 2012

A Life Together


I am strong in his hands, I am beyond me
On my own I'm human and I do faults
I do confess I feel you tricklings
Down my shoulders from above

I turn myself in, I give myself up
I volunteer, you own me, I'm yours
You have to trust it, I'm eternally yours
All that I gave them, I gave to you

So needy of comfort but too raw to be embraced
Undo this privacy and put me in my place
Generous palmstroke, the hugest of hugs
Undo this privacy, embrace embrace me

I am strong in his hands I am above me
On my own I am human and I do faults
She is strong in his hands, she is beyond her
On her own she is human and she does faults

She is strong in his hands
She is strong in his hands
She is strong in his hands
She is strong in his hands

~Generous Palmstroke, Björk

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

            —————————————————————————


Friday, May 11, 2012

Sharon Hulk

Eww.








Posin' with Sharon at FITK, Fridays.

Used by permission.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

            —————————————————————————


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Karamba



   Sean woke to the sound of a brilliant church bell. He had been asleep for nearly ten hours. He had been hungry before he slept and now he was starving. Mrs. Robinson had seen to it that his kitchenette was loaded with food: fruit, bread, various sliced meats, dairy products, dried soup mixes and, oddly, a six-pack of Pepsi Max. As he ate, he took out his phone and pulled up the images of Billy that the crew back in Seattle had uncovered. It was Billy all right, sitting in some kind of cafe or coffee house wearing a traditional Icelandic sweater. There was a sign on the wall written in Icelandic. The picture had been posted the week before. A woman with a severe blond hairdo was looking straight into the camera. The picture was captioned Helgi, Billy, Þora og Moi. French? Or just an affectation? Sean closed his phone and headed out. It was colder that it looked. Mrs. Robinson was right again; Sean realized that he should have brought a sweater. His windbreaker did help some, but he soon realized that he needed something more substantial. Across the street from a small square that was inhabited by skateboarders, he found a tourist shop selling handknits.

   “Perhaps Billy had bought his here,” Sean thought. One of them looked to have the same pattern as Billy’s. “Maybe they’re the same all over the country?” he thought, “When in Iceland, do as the Icelanders do?”  He bought it.

   Wandering the streets, Sean began to search for the funky bistro that was in the photo. Most of the places he walked by were swank, certainly nothing like the places he and Billy used to frequent in college. As he went up the main drag the places became more inviting. Number 22 looked funky enough. He went in and quickly saw that it was the same place as the one shown in the photo. It was still fairly early. The bar was nearly deserted. Sean walked up to the bar. The bartender nodded when he saw him.

   "Tuborg, já?"

   It was what Billy always used to drink. Then it dawned on Sean. The bartender thought that Sean was Billy. The sweater must have cinched it.

   “Yeah, thanks,” said Sean, slipping into the Billy-impersonator role he had used so often in college.

   “You looking for Silu, já?” said the barkeep,  “She’s mad at you.”

   “I know,” said Sean, acting as if he knew all about it.

   “She doesn’t like it when you flirt with her and then leave with her sister.”

   “Sometimes things happen,” Sean replied. It was one of Billy’s lines. Billy had always said it with an innocent smile. “Do you think she may be back tonight?”

   “Time will tell. Silu does what she wants. Listen to these words I say. You may be a big shot in the States but here, here you are just another tourist. Every day, all year long, they will come but they will always go. Every Icelander knows this. Some of the women, they think you might be the ticket to get them off the rock, but not Silu. She doesn’t need you. Þora, Þora is the one who thinks she needs you.”

   “Thanks for the warning.”

   Sean sat down in a corner and pulled out his phone to study the picture of Billy, Silu and Þora. It had been put through some cheesy filter to make it look blurry. Sean’s hair was long enough to pass for Billy’s and if he combed it down and over his forehead a little Sean knew that he could still pass for him. Neither Billy nor Sean had put on much weight since college. As Sean finished his beer, a DJ was setting up in the corner.

   He headed out into the night.




Fiction

By Professor Batty

            —————————————————————————


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Howie's



The old band would sometimes rent out a small ballroom above a Northside bar. A half-dozen kegs of cheap beer would be enough to make the crowd of teens happy; the drinking age was 18 then.



One time the floor shook so much that the bar owner told the band to stop. He thought the floor would cave in from the wild dancing.



After one gig, as we were loading the equipment, we heard a crash.

Then we heard sirens.

That was the last kegger the band threw.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

            —————————————————————————


Monday, May 07, 2012

Machine Music


Seeburg Stereomatic 100
You know she wiggles like a glow worm
Dances like a spinnin' top
She got a crazy partner
Ya oughta see 'em reel and rock
Long as she got a dime
The music won't never stop

~Roll Over Beethoven, Chuck Berry

The direct descendant of the 19th music boxes, the "Juke" boxes of the twentieth century replaced the mechanical discs (actually a form of multiple-track digital recording) with analog 78rpm disks, later replaced by the familiar "45's". Amplified to overcome noisy barrooms, the Juke boxes were an entertainment staple for years, still showing up in "retro" themed establishments. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys had a personal Juke box with every record a copy of The Ronettes "Be my Baby". The most visually appealing juke boxes even let you see the mechanism, to see the actual artifact producing the music.

Now most public music is stored digitally, there no need for a large mechanism to store records, tens of thousands of tunes can be stored in a pocket-able device, or even completely disembodied in "the cloud."

So where is the focal point? Where does the music come from? Is it just "there", disembodied, no friendly beast in the corner, no fireplace glow from the push-button selectors, having been replaced by... nothing?

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 

            —————————————————————————


Friday, May 04, 2012

Sharon Swatter

Swat not can your country do for you
but swat you can do for your country.






Sharon's just a little too fly, FITK Fridays

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 

            —————————————————————————


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Two Girls



Practicing life.

Almost from the time they can talk, girls engage in life-lessons.
No teacher needed.
Endless hours of constructive play.
Dress up, child care, socialization.
Boys are years behind.

Some never catch up.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 

            —————————————————————————