Sunday, March 31, 2013

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

More from Luella Busch, circa 1910:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, March 29, 2013

True Story from My Misspent Youth

Neighborhood news by “R.A.”, circa 1967

This isn’t the only piece of “literature” from that place and time to survive.

It isn’t the strangest either.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Time Machine #3

More from Luella Busch, circa 1910:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Friday, March 22, 2013


This is chapter 32 of Window Weather, a serial fiction novel on FITK

A mild winter had left the roads in the rural areas of the Reykjanes peninsula in better shape than usual. Þora had decided, against her family’s wishes, to hold the Christening in the old church, the church which her great-great-grandfather had helped build. As per the Icelandic custom, the name of the infant was kept as a secret—to be revealed only at the baptism. Þora refused to name the child’s father although everyone believed it to be Billy Clarkson—the U.S. Senator’s son—who had died in a traffic accident the year before. Her sister Silja was there, of course, with her daughter.

The ceremony began. The assembled family and friends sang an old hymn as the organist pumped the wheezy harmonium in the corner. As the minister performed the baptism tiny Vilhjálmur Stefán began to cry.

“Sally, come here, I want you to look at this,” said Roger Ramsen. He was in Maryland, in his home office, seated in front of a computer monitor. Sally O’Donnell walked in and saw, on the screen, a picture of Sean Carroll walking along a street in Seattle, arm in arm with an attractive black woman.

“More reconnaissance, Roger? Who’s the woman?” Sally said, “She’s stunning. I would have remembered her if I had ever seen her before.”

“Her name is Mary Robinson. She’s the owner of Applied Diffusion Research, the outfit we hired to find Billy Clarkson. She’s Sean’s boss.” Roger clicked through the slideshow he had put up—all images of Mary and Sean: on the street, in restaurants, at public events.

“They look as if they are in love.”

Roger Ramsen frowned.

“I should have finished the job on Sean when I had the chance.”

Now it was Sally's turn to scowl.

“Drop it, Roger.”

“I, I... ”

“Roger, listen to me. The Senator isn’t going to be president, your daughter won’t be First Lady, your grand-daughters won’t grow up in the White House. You were lucky not to get caught. No matter what you do now, it won’t change that reality."

Ramsen idly flicked through the slide show on his computer screen, breathing loudly through his nose.

“It sickens me to see him like that, with her.”

“Because she’s black? Roger, the miscegenation laws were repealed a long time ago.”


“Is it because they’re young? Because they’re young and happy? Why do you even care?”

“There’s more to it than that. I don’t like to lose. And when I do lose, I always get even.”

“You sicken me.”

“Get out.”

Sally made her exit, closing the door quietly behind her. Roger Ramsen clicked through the slide show again. Then  he picked up the phone.

                                                     THE END

The sequel to Window Weather is The Matriarchy.

By Professor Batty

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pascal Pinon's Quiet Revolution

Pascal Pinon, October, 2009
“... the Icelandic duo known as Pascal Pinon create luscious, minimalistic audible soundscapes that are fiercely intent upon dazzling those who are fortunate enough to stumble across the intimate nature of their work.”  ~ Broden Terry, Made of Chalk
I’ve lived with “Twosomeness”, the new album by the Icelandic duo Pascal Pinon, for about a month now. It has grown on me, in ways which are hard to explain. Putting usual musical categories aside, the music it contains appeals to this listener more on an emotional level than an intellectual one. It also has a strong spiritual element, not in any formal religious sense, but rather as an exploration of sub-conscious archetypes. It is an unashamed celebration of girlishness but not frivolous or juvenile; it meets Robert Graves’ definition of poetry: “That which cannot be improved.”

These twin sisters have been described as having ...a lovely relaxed intimacy about this album, as if you’re overhearing the siblings exchanging whispered secrets.” Another reviewer noted that their music “... is reminiscent of the sacred secular choral music crafted by the brilliant Julianna Barwick.”

Stacey Pavlick, writing in Spectrum Culture, elegantly summed up Twosomeness' appeal:
Twosomeness nestles into the conceit of an album that is populated by just two people – but in doing so they nurture another dyad, that of sender and receiver. To hear it properly, you don’t so much turn up the volume as approach the source: it doesn’t get big, so get small, if you please.”
Tad Machida, writing on the UCLA Radio website, goes even further:
“... Pascal Pinon’s masterful manipulation of “moments” when melodies, mood and rhythm all come together to give you an experience that can only be described as otherworldly. Twosomeness is a sensually wonderful album to listen to. Having listened to this album, I cannot give anything other 10.”
Finally, Juraj Kušnieri, writing for Reykjavík Revisited, started his review of the group's recent show in Bratislava with this intriguing teaser:
“Pascal Pinon’s delicate gig at the main hardcore-anarchistic club in Bratislava was unusual experience of charm and beauty.”
And ended it it with this:
“Pascal Pinon brought much beauty into The Intergalactic Monster. It is going to be one of those gigs that are long remembered. I would not be too surprised if in few years, when Ásthildur and Jófriður – together, or each on her own – will be “really great”, we will, like old veterans, tell our younger friends: “Yes, we saw them at Obluda in 2013, a club with no backstage area, and it was very beautiful!”
   The revolution has begun.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Stylin' with Luella - Time Machine #2

More from the Luella Busch photo album, circa 1910.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Luella Busch's Fabulous Time Machine

This album of old photographs (over 200 images)  recently came into my possession. It had been found in an attic many years ago by an acquaintance when he moved into a house.

Circa 1910

The people seem to be happier and more vivacious than most of the old snaps I see (and believe me, I have seen hundreds of thousands in my professional photo-scanning work), perhaps because many of them were taken before WWI.

Circa 1924

Luella Busch and her sister Clara (twins?) graduated from Algoma Wisconsin High School in 1910. This was evidently Luella's album of photos of her family and friends, her name is writ large on the frontispiece. She married a certain Mr. Dean Cornam and moved to Minneapolis in 1915, where this album was discovered many years later.


I'll be featuring some of these images here from time to time and when this project is complete I'll contact the Kewaunee County Historical society and see if they would be interested in this charming archive of a young woman who had a sense of humor and a pretty fair eye for composition.

Circa 1924

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wanda Gág Day!

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall,
Who's the fairest one of all?"

"Queen, thou art of beauty rare
But Snow White with ebon hair
Is a thousand times more fair."
Today is the anniversary of the birthday of my favorite Minnesota artist.

Yesterday I picked up an original edition of her 1938 version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Wanda did the illustrations and the translation. The story is similar to the Disney version, but more nuanced. In it, Snow White is a child of seven, not a grown woman. Sheis tricked three times by the wicked queen. All’s well that ends well, for after she took a bite of the poisoned apple she slept for many years until a handsome prince is entranced by the princess in the crystal casket the Dwarfs have made for her. He persuades the Dwarfs to let him safeguard the princess, but when the casket is dropped the bite of apple falls from her throat and Snow White is restored to life, she marries the prince and, at the wedding dance, the evil queen is made to wear red hot shoes which make her dance until she perishes.

More on Wanda…

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Questions and Answers

This is chapter 31 of Window Weather, a serial fiction novel on FITK

The congressional hearings on what the press had lamely referred to as “Billygate” were a bit of a letdown. Sean had the top billing, of course, but it felt to him as if his presence there was only for its marquee value. There was no talk concerning his stabbing—it remained ‘under investigation’—and very little about Billy. ‘Professor’ Shallbetter, the would-be academic who Sean had met in Iceland, was the real star of the hearings. He was the one who published Billy’s ‘evidence’ concerning Senator Clarkson. Sean had learned from Mrs. Robinson that she had deliberately kept the copy of the files that Sean had mailed to her from going public. Her reluctance in releasing them allowed the focus of the investigation to shift away from Sean—as well as keeping ADR out of the spotlight.

The hearings focused on Billy and his relationship with his father, especially when a subsequent blood test proved Billy’s assertion that he and Sean were half-brothers. Sean was not surprised at that line of inquiry; he thought it had been instigated by enemies of the Senator. The big surprise, however, was the blood test that was performed on Silu’s daughter. Billy was not the father. Sean suspected that Billy’s ego had blinded him to the fact that he had been nothing more than a ‘fling’ as far as Silu was concerned. No wonder she despised him. Silu’s sister, Þora, wasn’t mentioned at all. Sean was glad that she had been left out of it, anything that would have been brought up concerning her and Sean would have been humiliating for both of them. There was a possibility that the Embassy staff, in the chaos around Billy’s death and the subsequent cover-up, hadn’t even been aware of Þora, outside of her having had coffee with Sean in the diner. She made no effort to contact Sean.

After the hearings, Shallbetter came up to Sean in the hall. He suggested that they go for dinner. Sean, who was finally free of being under house arrest, readily agreed. He still had several questions about the whole affair and suspected that Shallbetter knew some of the answers.

They took a taxi to a Thai restaurant in a suburban D.C. shopping mall.

“It’s one of Tyler Cowen’s favorite places!” Shallbetter said as the men walked into a small, nondescript restaurant. Sean’s stab wound had healed enough so that he was able to eat solid food again but, after looking at the pepper icons which sprinkled the menu listings, Sean went with the mildest option available. Throughout the meal Shallbetter kept up a steady stream of patter between is gobbling of the spicy cuisine:

“So you see, Sean, we were both in Iceland for the same purposes—to meet Billy and to find out what he was hiding. We ended up with different results, It's too bad that you had to suffer they way you have.”

“How did you get the information which Billy had compiled?” asked Sean. Outside of Mrs. Robinson, there was no one else who knew about the files. Sean didn’t mention that he had the files as well. He thought it best that Shallbetter remained in the dark. The FBI, having thoroughly searched Billy’s computer and phone, had found nothing about them either.

“I already told you—when we met in the Flybus on the way into Reykjavík,” said Shallbetter excitedly, “The ‘newly discovered manuscripts.’—Billy’s ‘evidence.’ I needed that information. Billy needed cash. We made the deal the morning before he was killed.”

“Three thousand dollars?”

“Exactly right. How did you know, or did Billy tell you more than came out in the hearing today?”

“I knew that he had the money but I didn’t know how he got it.  It isn’t important.”

“No Sean, I guess it’s not, not now. What is important is that the Senator’s presidential campaign has been derailed, and the unholy alliance behind it has been exposed.”

“And why is that was important to you?”

“I have my reasons.”

“Is one of them Sally O’Donnell?”

“I have my reasons.”

“You were with her in Reykjavík, weren’t you?”

“Sean, my boy, you will find that certain types of espionage operations are classified under the heading of sleeping with the enemy.”

As the 737 touched down at the Sea-Tac airport, Sean realized that it had been two months to the day since he had left. He was returning to Seattle with only a scar and a carry-on suitcase to show for the experience. Molly’s on-line breakup wasn’t unexpected, but it didn’t hurt any less than a face to face would have.

My break-ups are always the same,” thought Sean, “Anger, confusion, feelings of failure, doubts about self-worth.” He was still troubled by his ordeal.

The one big difference between this time and the others was that Sean knew exactly why he felt so bad: he really deserved to be dumped. Although Molly had never discovered his tryst with Þora, Sean could empathize with her desire to distance herself from the ugliness of his political espionage. It was, as Molly had written, the Sean returning to Seattle was a different person from the one who left. He felt broken and unlovable.

When he walked out of the secure area, Sean saw Mrs. Robinson was waiting by the exit doors.  Smiling, she walked up to him. He could see that she had tears in her eyes.

“Welcome back Sean,” she said softly while embracing him timidly. Except for a handshake, Sean had never touched her before. It was his turn to tear up now; the emails and Skyping they had exchanged while he was recovering in DC had deepened thir relationship. Although he sensed it before now, when he held her in his arms, he realized how much she had felt the same way.

“Mrs. Robinson, I… I can’t thank you enough,” stammered Sean. She looked at him closely, but with a different kind of smile.

As she continued to hold him, her embrace became more than friendly. Then she kissed him.

“Mrs. Robinson, I think you are trying to seduce me.”

“Yes I am.”

“What about Mr. Robinson?”

“Sean, there never has been a Mr. Robinson. He was a fiction I employed for professional purposes. Please, call me Mary.”

In that moment, Sean felt his life-path taking an irrevocable turn. He had always been attracted her—right from their first meeting in the Pub a year ago. He had always known that she was the brains behind ADR. Her handling of the Billy case had been brilliant—she even managed to get the Senator to pay for Sean’s hospitalization! Her poise under pressure was astounding, and she was always a few steps ahead of everyone else on the team. Sean finally managed to gather his wits enough to be able to form a coherent sentence:

“Since the position of Mr. Robinson is open, Mary, I’d like to apply for the job.”

“Let’s conduct an in-depth interview at my place,” Mary said. After kissing him again, she whispered: “Welcome home… your things are already there.”

Next Chapter: Epilogue

By Professor Batty

Monday, March 04, 2013

Thin Mints and a 7-Up

Found image, circa 1960

I have my own ways of satisfying my indulgences.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

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