Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Graveyard Blues

This is chapter 16 of Window Weather, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Sean and Billy were walking amid mossy lava formations. “The moon is made of green cheese,” thought Sean, before returning his attention to Billy’s question.

“I guess I don’t, know what is going on.” said Sean, “Fill me in. Was that really your daughter back there?”

“I’ll get back to her in a minute,” Billy said, “What do you think you know about my activities here?”  

“What do I know? Nothing,” said Sean, What do I think? If I know you at all, you’re probably running some kind of scam, not necessarily illegal, but sketchy enough to be questionable. Something with the Russians, something with the locals, getting your money from an ATM, fucking women. Geez, do you realize how many people have been looking for you?”

“You mean The Senator and his minions, of which you are one?”

“Bill, look, I’m just a data miner, I’m like you in a sense, but unlike you I get a W-2 at the end of the year. How long do you think you can go on like this? All the rogue sites you used to use for your scams are being busted, Wikileaks is virtually defunct, you have become obsolete… you’re the ‘Kid Charlemagne’ of cyberspace.”

“You just don’t get it, do you Sean?” said Billy,  “The world is in conflict. Money is the lubricant. Rebels, rogue states, tin-horn tyrants—their power all comes from the barrel of a gun. They can’t buy this stuff at Costco. Deals need to be done under the table by someone, someone who knows how to keep it all invisible. The Senator knows how it works and he gets a taste of it—almost all of it.”

“You do realize that if this was true and it got out it would ruin your father?” asked Sean.

“That information is my insurance policy. He won’t touch me, or my daughter, because he knows I would release it,” said Billy,  “He’s a bad man. Worse than you can imagine. He’s backed by an organization which never lets anything, or anyone, get in its way. That’s why he must not find out about Maria. That’s why you should leave, Sean. The Russians heard you outside the embassy last night and they didn’t appreciate it. You’d better be sitting on that flight tomorrow or you’ll be going home in a box. We’re dealing with the dark soldiers of the new order. Never underestimate their power.”

Billy was becoming more agitated, with beads of sweat forming on his upper lip and forehead. “High,” thought Sean. He had better calm him down or he wouldn’t be able to get anywhere with him.

“You hungry Billy? If I’m going to go back tomorrow, I’ve got a kitchen full of food and wine. It would be a shame to let go to waste. I won’t bug you about going back.”

“Not hungry, but I will drink some of your wine.”

“Yeah. A little wine, just the way it used to be.”

They were walking past a swampy area when Billy pointed to a wall on the other side of the highway.

“Your place is by the Russian Embassy, right? Let’s cut through Hólavallagarður, it’s right on the way.”

“Through what?”

“The cemetery. Just down the street from your place. It’s quiet and a lot more private than walking in front of a bunch of houses full of peering eyes. Don’t cross here—go up a little.”

Sean thought that the cemetery was nice. Old enough to have a pleasant coat of moss in places, yet well-kept with a system of elegant brickwork paths. The damp smell of the place was of life, not decay. The sun had broken through, brilliantly illuminating the tombstones with a golden shafts of light. Billy led Sean to a plot that had a wall they could sit on.

“I still don’t get it, Billy,” said Sean,  “You could go back home and do some basic campaigning for your father, he gets elected, you get an NSA job. You’re set for life—maybe even traveling the world as a special envoy—you could probably even get a post back here in Iceland if it means that much to you.”

“If it were that simple I might think about it, but it isn’t,” Billy said, “I am the proverbial black sheep, the prodigal son, living with the mark of Cain.”

“Now you’re just being ridiculous. Look. I’ve known you like a brother. I know that your father is a… well, let’s just say that he’s another gasbag politician,  better than some, worse than some, but he is an effective legislator and quite probably the next President of the United States.”

“Like a brother, Sean. Like a brother. Think about it. We’re nearly dead ringers, our mothers were similar in appearance, your mother was living in D.C. at the time of your conception, we were born within a couple of months of each other. It would never do, now would it, for a rising young politico to have children by different mothers. Think of how you made it into college, lost your mom, and how my mother died a few months later. ‘She OD’ed on alcohol and barbiturates’ they said, ‘tsk, tsk, too bad, so sad, so sorry, poor Billy.’  Then, a year later, it’s ‘Billy meet your new mother’—a younger, sexier, richer mother with real connections. Sean, listen to me. You are my half-brother. He knows I know, and he knows that we’re the only things between him and the White House. Your mother was his lover. She had you. He bought her silence and then found a way to keep her quiet forever. And now, why he’s got you in his pocket! The good son Abel sent to redeem the bad son Cain.”

“Give me some time to process this,” said Sean, “Are you saying that he killed our mothers to advance his political ambitions?”

“Oh no! No one can prove a thing—your mother’s car crash, a terrible accident. Did you ever read the police report? The real one? Or how about my mother’s death? I’ve done some research on that too. It isn’t that hard to kill a drunk, bless her heart, and she was definitely a drunk. Just get her a prescription for sleeping pills from the family doctor, and then, one night when she’s really hammered, see to it that she takes a triple dose.”

“You have any proof of this?”

“I have enough,” Billy continued, “Look. I’m not out to destroy my father. He can do what he wants, but I’m not going to live in his shadow. I’m just crazy enough to believe that I should be entitled to a real life. I can’t be around him, I’d kill him—if he didn’t kill me first.”

“Let’s go open that wine,” said Sean, “I think we could both use a drink.”

“Right on, brother.”

Next Chapter: Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee

By Professor Batty

Monday, July 30, 2012

Baby Work Out!

Hey, you!
Come out here on the floor
Let's rock some more
Come out here on the floor
Honey, let's rock some more, yeah!

Now when you get out here
Don't you have no fear
Put your hands on your hip
And let your backbone slip
And work out!

Now it's plain to see
You put a hurtin' on me
But it's a natural fact
I like it like that
So work out!

Yeah, baby work out (work baby, work out)!
Honey, work out!
Ah, baby work out!
Shout and turn the joint out!
Work out!
Work out!
Work all night long!
Yeah, yeah! (round and around and around and around)

Baby, round and round we go
Don't you know, don't you know?
Round and round we go
Where we stop, nobody knows
The band is swinging on the stand
We're moving in, we're moving out
Then we'll step back now and end this dance with a shout
So work out!

Baby Work Out ~ Jackie Wilson

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sharon's Interference

"When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries
disappear and life stands explained"
~ Mark Twain

Sharon. Shocking. Fridays. FITK.

Used by permission.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lois Laurel

Growing up watching the films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy on TV, it was easy to take them for granted. When my boys were young, they weren't on TV nearly so often but fortunately there were occasional theatrical showings, some of which even included live music for their early silent shorts, films which I had never seen before. Seeing a new 35mm print struck from the original negative was a revelation—some of them looked as if they had been shot by Ansel Adams, their tonality was that good.

The last one we went to featured a guest appearance by Stan's daughter, Lois (also in the home movie clip above, which is the last footage of Laurel and Hardy together.) She was introduced by John Gallos, a local TV personality who had long been a champion of L&H. Lois was elderly, but full of life and obviously appreciative that Stan and Ollie could still pack a theater. She told several stories about what it was like growing up with Stan as a parent—heartfelt and sincere. After the speeches were over, they played several films.

And all of us, young and old alike, roared with laughter.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rite of Passage

"Out in Old Maine", 1915, class play, unknown school

The high school class play offers a chance for young people to practice being "grown up" in front of peers and parents. The play chosen is usually a farce, is based on courtship and deception, and ends with TRUE LOVE triumphant.

Not many loves turn out that way, and the ones where love does triumph, it does so in small increments which accumulate over a lifetime, not at the end of act III.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sharon's History

The comfort of reliable chirps turned to embers.

Com'on Sharon, Light my fire.. Fridays at Flippism is the Key.

Used by permission.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Too busy to write. Fixing up the Master bedroom, the room we spend the most time in, hasn't been finished for 27 years!

It will be- by this weekend.

The walls and floor are done.

Trim tomorrow and Friday.

Put everything back, Saturday... hopefully.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 9 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

File Under NOS

"Weed's Improved Cut - Special Temper"

Arcade File Works, Anderson Indiana

10" rat-tail file, new in a box, circa 1920.

Price on box: 90¢ each.

Paid $2 at garage sale.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Playing Doctor

When I recently ran across this relic from a simpler time it made me smile. I remember playing with one of these as a child; it wasn't mine but I remember thinking that it was pretty cool—even if it didn't have anything in it that could shoot projectiles. I had some vague idea of what "playing doctor" really meant. I had to see for myself what was the deal with naked girls.

Even in the most innocent use of these play sets, there was a potential for sadism. For reasons unknown it felt good to give someone a shot, to hurt them and, just as importantly, to have power over your "patient." When the set ran out of candy pills, however, playtime was over. Some of us would get into real pills when we were much older, with a few of us even "graduating" to hypodermics.

Eventually, and without the help of of a "little country doctor" kit, I finally did manage to learn what was the deal with naked girls.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sharon Wordless

With a gleeful point of whimsy counterpoise to the tippy toe of delight Sharon mime says it all.

Curtsy and out.

Sharon's speechless in Seattle, and everywhere else as well, Fridays.

Used by permission.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Pearl

This is chapter 15 of Window Weather, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Sean showered, dressed and left the pool. There was still some time before he was to meet Billy, so he returned to the apartment and checked his email. Nothing from Molly. Sean didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing. Mrs. Robinson was still concerned about the Russians. If Billy was involved with them, he had evidently covered his ass well—covering his ass was Billy’s real major in college—the crew at ADR couldn’t find any links connecting him with foreign agents.  Sean emailed Mrs. R. back, telling her of his plan to meet Billy that afternoon. Her reply was immediate. She had just learned that the Senator’s people needed Billy back ASAP, preferably delivered to the United States Embassy in enough time to return to the States for a family photo-op the following Sunday. Sean wrote that he’d do what he could, but that he thought that Billy was dead-set against the idea.

Around 4 p.m. Sean headed out to Perlan, the big spaceship-like structure that the taxi driver had pointed out the night before. Sean was feeling energized from his afternoon at the pool and was looking forward to the short hike to the complex. After his reception at the nightclub the night before, Sean thought it wise to alter his appearance at least a little; a pair of half-tinted driving glasses and a dorky cap that he picked up on the way (in the Salvation Army store near his apartment) was hardly a disguise but Sean hoped it would be enough to keep him from attracting any more unwanted attention. His route skirted the town center, going around the south end of the big pond and then along a highway. The wind had died down a bit and the sun would occasionally appear between the clouds. The air was cool and fresh, the city had the appearance of a picture postcard. As he climbed the long path to the summit, he could see that there were many vehicles on the road leading up to it. Numerous children were getting off a bus and were being herded into a queue. They walked into the building in pairs, holding hands.

The inside of Perlan was spectacular; the space between the tanks rising several stories above the atrium. A tiered stage had been set up and the children were filling the risers—evidently Sean was in for a show. Video lights made the already brilliant scene even more dazzling.  A trio of television cameras was taking it all in. Sean retreated to a corner behind the tech crew’s station (where he wouldn’t be caught on camera) as he looked at the crowd for Billy. The place was filled with people of all ages: mothers, fathers, toddlers, numerous grandparents of course,  even some teenagers. Sean didn’t see Billy in the throng. When the children were all assembled, the MC began to introduce the program. Sean couldn’t understand a word; it was all in Icelandic. The choir director set the pitch and then nodded to the pianist. The children began to sing.

And it was glorious. The children sang singing folk songs and hymns that were unfamiliar to Sean. The haunting harmonies of the songs seemed, to Sean, to be quite melancholy. The children’s clear, high voices were multiplied by echoes from the curved tanks. The whole effect became ethereal, almost seraphic. Sean stopped thinking about Billy and allowed himself to become lost in the music. He hadn’t felt this kind of joy for a long, long time.

Suddenly, he became aware of someone standing behind him. He sensed that it was Billy, even before he heard him whisper:

“I wanted you to see this.”

Billy put his finger to his lips in a shushing motion, then pointed to the stage. One of the younger girls, with straight blond hair, wearing a Lopapeysa above a short pleated skirt worn over matching tights, had stepped forward from the group and began to sing as the choir wordlessly crooned behind her. The crowd became still, and as she continued to sing, even the littlest children in the audience stopped fidgeting. The choir then joined in again behind the little soloist as the piece reached its crescendo. The director’s gestures became more animated and, after raising her arms to their maximum height, she lowered them, palms down. The little girl sang alone. She finished with a repeated refrain that brought tears to Sean’s eyes. After a moment of silence, the crowd erupted in wild applause.

Sean looked back at Billy.

“She’s why I’m here, Sean. She’s my daughter.”

Billy motioned toward the rear exit, from where he had evidently come in unseen. When they were outside, Billy headed Sean down the back side of the hill, toward the city airport. The path snaked through an area that had the appearance of a lunar landscape.

“Sorry to give you the runaround, but your barging in here without knowing what’s going on could have had disastrous consequences—for the both of us,” said Billy, “You really don’t have a clue as to what you’re doing, do you?”

Next Chapter: Graveyard Blues

By Professor Batty

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Amp Porn II

I found this forlorn little amplifier in a garage at an estate sale a few weeks ago. Mis-matched knobs, low output and a nasty 120Hz hum when I fired it up. Not good. Opened it up, replaced a tube and a cap can (the silver cylinder on the left in the picture below) and it started to sound pretty good:

The wiring looked like new- not bad for a piece of gear nearly as old as I am:

Cleaned it up, fitted it with matching knobs and a suitable speaker and there it was:

A beauty and a cutie, suitable for bass guitar (at moderate volume) and the whole project was completed from spare parts, not bad for five bucks and an afternoon of tinkering!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Monday, July 09, 2012

Ghost World

Minneapolis, 1976

Living on your own, without a family or significant other, can be liberating—but it has a price. Having a shared set of experiences makes them seem more real. The interior monolog is a phantasy existence. It is a place where memory's constructs are free from any checks or balances; distortions are inevitable.

Looking back on the memories of my years spent "wandering in the wilderness", I am struck at how ephemeral they seem, more so than those of my childhood or teen years. As my current friends drift away or die, it may be that someday I will once again inhabit a "ghost world" of solitude.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, July 06, 2012

Uncle Sharon

Sharon rules the roost every Friday, at FITK.

Used by permission.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Meaningful Data

A library card, found in an old book.
Obsolete data from seventy years ago.
The card was a replacement.
Perhaps Mr. Lee's original card is in another old book.

How much of your personal data will survive to 2082?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, July 02, 2012


The latest Sigur Rós album, while not exactly a departure, opens with a familiar blend of intense art-rock laid over a simplified classical music background with Jónsi's urgent falsetto riding on top, almost as if it is an out-take from last year's Inni. But then the album starts to devolve into gentler, more open orchestration and comes into its own. I won't go into a track-by-track analysis— this is a work which should be listened to in its entirety, preferably with the lights out (psychoactive augmentation optional, but not necessary.) In the world of pop music Sigur Rós has carved out its own genre. One downside of this is that they have become a bit of a "cult" band and, as is the the usual situation in a case such as this, you are either in or you are out.

Count me in.

Another aspect of the groups' success is the adaptation of their music to film and television scores. The group has offered film and video directors carte blanche in the use of individual tracks of Valtari as a score in a "Mystery Films" competition.. The latest entries are here and are well worth a look. (Some NSFW)

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

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