Friday, July 31, 2015

Dangerous Journey



   Sean thought that the group of travelers waiting in the Keflavík airport was more of a mix than the last time he flew—when he was pretending to be his half-brother Billy. There were more tourists now, of course, it being the high season.  Sean’s emotional state was different now as well. Then, he was still reeling from the death of Billy as well as the hardball tactics of the U.S. embassy staff and the FBI. Now, he found himself involved again, albeit in a different role, but still part of the same plot. Then, pretending to be Billy, he had made love to Þora and quickly managed to insult her with his gift of Billy’s money. Now, he was now the father of Vilhjálmur, a two-year-old with a substantial source of child support. Sean shook his head slightly—he was more than a little amazed at the turn of events in the last thirty months.

   Sean looked over at Mary, who was dozing. Pregnant with their child—the ‘goddess’—Mary was radiant in her slumber.  Looking out the window to the tarmac, a transport jet was being loaded with what Sean took to be cartons of fish. “A never-ending cycle,” he thought, “eat or be eaten.” He turned back and looked at Mary. She opened her eyes.

   “You look troubled,” she said.

   “It feels as if we’re heading into the heart of a storm,” said Sean, “I’m apprehensive. About The Matriarchy, The Brotherhood, The FBI, and about the future of my children.”

   “It’s all part of evolution. We’re a part of it, but we don’t have any voice in the matter. Whether we triumph and prevail, or fail and are destroyed, it doesn’t matter. It’s as if we’re on an invisible chain gang, trudging on, waiting for the chain to break, so then we can… ” Mary paused, then continued, “… so when the chain breaks we can rejoin the chaos from where we emerged. As long as we live we can’t escape it. But we can make the chains lighter.  When they are finally light enough, the needless suffering of humanity—the cruelty and barbarism that we are so good at institutionalizing—will end. This will come to pass. Will you and I be part of this change? Will your son and our daughter lead us out of the darkness? It will happen, someday, if not to us, to others in the future. Perhaps the human race will have to die out and be replaced by other sentient creatures before this happens. We’ve had glimpses of it in the past, your grandmother has seen it, and I can see it. When it happens next will be as big a change as the discovery of language.”

   “So we can’t escape our fate,” said Sean.

   “By definition of the word, no,” said Mary, “But we can make the most of the journey on the way. Speaking of journey, they’ve started boarding our flight.”

   The flight was full. Mary and Sean’s seats were near the back of the plane. Mary took the window seat. Sean took the center and the aisle seat was taken by a man in a suit. When they reached cruising altitude Mary pointed to her ring. Sean put his on.

   “FBI?” thought Mary. “Or The Brotherhood?”

   “Maybe that’s why they didn’t put us in first class,” thought Sean, “Shall I try to start a conversation?”

   “That’s a good idea.  Find out who he is. I’ll keep quiet,” thought Mary.

   “First time in Iceland?” Sean said, addressing the man.

   “No, I’ve been here several times. I enjoy the culture,” said the man, “The name is Miller, George M. Miller. Did you have a good visit?”

   “I’m Sean, I had some family business to attend to, this was my second time.”

   “If I may be so bold, what do you do for a living, Sean?”

   “Data systems, and you?”

   “Data systems as well: I’m the sales manager of Tripping the Light Fantastic, a ride-sharing app. We like to think of it as Uber—with a heart. We’re in D.C., Baltimore, and Richmond, soon to be in NYC. Here’s a card; it’s got a $20 credit on it, call or text.”

   “I’m just passing through, on my way to Washington State.”

   “Hang on to that card anyway, we’re working on our West Coast roll-out, early next year.”

   “Thank you, Mr. Miller, I’ll do that.”

   “Just a hunch, but I’d say he probably isn’t with The Brotherhood or the FBI,” thought Mary. “I never thought I’d enjoy sitting next to a salesman.”

   “I’m inclined to agree.” thought Sean.

   “I’m going to ‘power nap’ now, you might want to take your ring off,” thought Mary.

   “I’ll take it off so I can get a chance to get some sleep—if Mr. Miller here doesn’t mind,” thought Sean, “I suspect the Feds will want a lengthy debriefing when we get there.”

   Mr. Miller was already engrossed in spreadsheets on his laptop.

   When the flight neared Dulles, the captain made an announcement:
We are now beginning our descent, there is some inclement weather in the Washington area and we may have to adjust our flight path. Please remain seated, with seat belts fastened and seats and trays in the upright position.
   The rain had already begun pelting the window. Mary woke up and looked out. She touched the fingertips of her hands together. She then slowly pulled them apart and as she did the rain stopped and the clouds parted before the airplane.

   “This isn’t the storm you have to fear, my love,” she said to Sean, “That’s still to come.”

   They landed, deplaned, got their luggage, and made their way to customs. Two customs agents and a man in a suit were waiting for them.

   “Ms. Robinson, Mr. Carroll?”

   It was the Richmond agent.

   “Please come with me.”





Fiction 

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review



This is not a review of Bob Dylan’s latest Bootleg Series Album but, rather, the contents of the little (7" x 5" x 3") bag pictured above hiding behind it:



My new camera outfit, designed for my upcoming Iceland trip. The aim is to travel light: all my clothes and accessories in one carry-on and one handbag. My camera outfit will consist of two 12MP camera bodies and four lenses.  Not pictured: two spare batteries, an optical viewfinder and lens shades.

Tiny. Up to one sixth the size and weight of the corresponding full-frame camera lens.

I've already posted some images from this setup; what the small sensor camera loses in ultimate image quality to a larger sensor is made up for in its increased depth of field and its ability to be hand held, especially for close-ups.

             The Lenses                                35mm Equiv. Field of View
  • 5-15mm f2.8-4.5                                        23mm-70mm
  • 9mm   f1.4                                                42mm
  • 24mm f2.8                                                110mm
  • 50mm f2.8                                                230mm


Time will tell how this set-up will work out. I've got over two months to test it, with several major photo-ops coming up.


By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Monday, July 27, 2015

When I’m Sixty-Four

Today: The last day I’ll be able to say that honestly.

Tomorrow: I attain my seniority.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 5 




Friday, July 24, 2015

Going Back

ill

   Mary and Sean were walking in Hljómskálagarðurinn, the park near their apartment. There was a light mist. Although it was nearly 11 P.M., the sun had not yet set but, because of the thick overcast, it was quite dark. Some of the lights along the path had turned on.  As they neared Tjörnin, Mary stopped and put her hand on Sean’s arm.

   “Something is happening,” she said, “I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’m sensing that there is a big change—something concerning Emily. It’s a good thing we’re going back tomorrow.”

   “We’d better check in with our lawyers when we get back to the apartment,” said Sean as he looked at his watch, “Something may have come up, there should still be someone working there, it’s not yet 4 in Seattle.”

   At the apartment, Mary opened her laptop and went to her inbox, there was a message from her lawyers:
Your flight destination has been changed from Seattle to Washington, D.C.. Exchange your tickets at KEF tomorrow. Your flight will leave at 1400 hours. Situation in Seattle is unstable. Your friend Jo killed an intruder who was probably an enemy agent. Molly was also targeted but managed to call police. FBI says there is a break in the investigation and needs you in Washington. The present situation in Seattle is too dangerous for you to return.

   “So it appears as if my feelings were right,” said Mary as she stood up, “Something is going on. We’ll still have time in the morning to say goodbye to Þora and Vilhjálmur.”

   “I suppose I’ll have to testify to congress again,” said Sean, “When will this end?”

   Mary walked over and laid down the bed, stretching out and closing her eyes.

   “Sean… ” she started, and then gasped: “It’s Emily!”

   Mary became rigid and her voice changed to that of Emily’s:

   “Listen to me, my children. The time has come to end The Brotherhood and my captivity. On the next full moon, The Brotherhood will meet again. Midnight at The Chamber House. Be there, free me, end the curse, or else we are lost.”

   Then, as quickly as it started, the possession was over.

   “When is the next full moon?” asked Mary.

   Sean did a quick search on the laptop. “Tuesday,” he said.

   “We've got three days to find The Chamber House, and somehow get Emily out of there. Do you think the F.B.I. will believe us?” asked Mary, rising up to look at the message on the laptop.

   “Not likely. I fear that we’ll be in ‘protective custody,’ the way I was held before. They want to arrest someone they can prosecute—not to free my grandmother and enable the return of The Matriarchy. They probably don’t want us in the way. It would look bad if we happened to get killed.”

   “Let me have that, I’ve got an idea.”

   While Sean got his things together for the flight tomorrow, Mary worked on the laptop. First she looked in her Ramsen files for information on John Regelind III, then she opened a map app. After a time she stopped and stared at the screen: there, in a clearing in a woods,  isolated from any road, was a round building. The resolution was only fair, but as she toggled between the satellite and 3D modes, she could just make out a heavy door on the north side of the building.

   “This is it Sean, the chamber house. Where Emily is being held,” she said.

   “All we have to do is just walk up to it and open the door?”

   “I’m sure the perimeter of the estate has a security system,” Mary said, “But I can deal with that. The trick will be in getting there at the right time. If we go along this river, here, we can probably bypass most of it. You don’t mind getting your feet wet, do you?”

  “If we aren’t being held in some maximum security prison, it looks like it might work,” Sean said, “You aren’t afraid of anything, are you?”

   “I am afraid of what will happen to all of us if we don’t stop them.”



   John Regelind III sat in his study. He was tired, exhausted from his preparations for the next meeting of The Brotherhood. He was drunk, and he intended to stay drunk, at least until Tuesday night.  After then, it wouldn’t matter what he did.




Fiction

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Shitstorm in Iceland

The cartoon on the right (by Halldór for Vísir) says it all. Two of Iceland's most revered personages—statesman Einar Benediktsson and poet Jónas Hallgrímsson are depicted rising from the dead as tourists crap on their graves in the churchyard behind them. There has been a lot of commentary in Icelandic media lately about a situation which is rapidly becoming intolerable: there are too many tourists and not enough facilities. The tourist site Discover the World called it “Mass tourism of the worst sort.”

Another tourist problem manifesting itself is the proliferation of hotels in the central city. Many of the charming old buildings are being torn down or re-purposed from nightclubs and other interesting venues into new hotels. The not inconsiderable charm of Reykjavík is rapidly disappearing into a fortress of brutalist architecture:



The music scene has been under concerted attack for years. It is one of the main reasons I started going to Iceland, I really enjoy the atmosphere of their off-beat venues. I don't want to go sit in a sterile hotel lounge. Modern Icelandic pop music, starting with The Sugarcubes, did more to promote the idea of Iceland as a cultural destination than any other factor. Interestingly enough, Björk and her pals started making their name in a wild series of punk shows in the Hotel Borg, which has since been upscaled into a preserve for the rich. Other legendary venues such as Faktorý, Sirkus and NASA are already gone. Several nightspots will be closed to make way for what have been derisively called ‘puffin shops.’ More crap (most of it not made in Iceland) to sell to more tourists=less culture. Change can be good, but it needs to have an artistic component. Harpa is stunning, but it was wisely built a short distance away from the city center. The new designs I've seen are plunked right into the middle of the old town and heartless; a successful building must have some ‘soul’, not just be a package surrounding a money machine.

More troubling than these issues is a poll of Icelandic 10th graders, most of whom see themselves leaving the country in the futrue. Finally, to top it all: another sleazy American corporation is bullying its way into Iceland. I'll be in Reykjavík in October—hopefully there will be at least a few places remaining where I can hear some Icelandic music, get some Icelandic culture, as well as some authentic and uniquely Icelandic places.

This sign could be taken two ways, for both the despoiling of of the natural and the cultural landscapes:



What am I getting myself into?

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Monday, July 20, 2015

Loss of a Pet


Tommy, 1968

And here, my brothers and sisters, is the sad and weepy part...

A recent blog post about the death of an Icelandic cockatiel triggered in me an unexpected flood of emotions and memories about every critter with whom I've ever had the pleasure to share a roof.

Polly the cockatiel was just a bird, but I knew of her, and about her personality. Because I (and many others) had read about her she had unwittingly enriched not only her owner's life, but the lives of hundreds of others. I've had a dog, more than a few cats, and even a couple of lizards (although the reptiles weren't exactly chummy) while growing up and when our kids were young. One cat, in particular, was the closest. An ordinary tom, who moved in with us when I was about 8, who lived with me throughout my childhood and teen years, and even survived into my young adulthood. We did things together; we explored the backyard and the neighborhood (he would actually walk with me) and if I was troubled (or high) he could always tell. Still, he was just an ordinary cat, a cat whose favorite pastime was sleeping. In his old age, when he was suffering, I was the person who took him to the vet to be put down.

In this world filled with human death why is it that the loss of a pet can be so devastating? The answer was eloquently stated in the post I referred to:
... with animals, there is a complete absence of guile. They’re just whole and complete in who they are and they give of themselves unconditionally. And that is rare with people.

~Alda Sigmundsdóttir


So here's to Polly, Tommy, Skipper, Betty, Booger, Terry, Bodkay and all the other critters who have touched our lives. Love can be hard, it can be messy, it can be sad.

But it also can be perfect.




First posted 3/25/10
Re-posted, with edits, for Little Z

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Friday, July 17, 2015

Meetings



   “Have you been to a doctor yet?” asked Þora.

   Þora and Mary were talking in Þora’s apartment. Sean and young Vilhjálmur were nearby at a small park, a trip that was Vilhjálmur’s idea. Þora was glad to get a little respite from her childcare duties.

   “I really should have, I’ve been sort of busy lately,” Mary said, with a rueful grin, “I have been taking my vitamins. Outside of some morning sickness early on, and being tired and hungry, and absorbing the wisdom of the universe, I’ve been doing alright. Is there anything you’d care to share with me about the experience?”

   “Do you have any family history of difficult childbirth?” said Þora, “It’s different for everyone, of course, but I think there is something to be said for the experiences of your female relatives. My mother, and especially my grandmother, helped me a lot.”

   “I don’t have any blood relatives of which I am aware. I was adopted.”

   “Have you ever tried to find you birth mother?” asked Þora.

   “My adopted mother never talked about it. I was kind of anti-social when I was younger. I was my own person and didn’t want to pursue it,” Mary paused, “I’m still that way, to some extent.”

   “Sjálfstætt fólk…” said Þora, “… independent people. It’s both a blessing and a curse. You might say that it is the one trait which defines Icelanders the most. I was reluctant to ask Sean for help, but… well, you know as well as I do the Vilhjálmur Stefán is no ordinary child.”

   “I received a book of spells which Sean’s grandmother had. In the last few days, I’ve been working with Hilmar, preparing a group of spells for an app for his society. Some of the spells concern children,” Mary said,  taking out her phone, “Can I send them to you? They are in Old Norse, Hilmar has made phonetic translations.”

   Þora gave Mary her email address and Mary forwarded the spells.

   “I can use all the help I can get,” Þora said, “How do you know they will work? Do I have to understand the words in them? I’m ashamed to say that my knowledge of old Icelandic isn’t what it should be. I’m part of the young generation, I really didn’t study the sagas the way my ancestors had.”

   “Trust me—they work.”



   John Regelind III had arranged to meet with FBI agents in Richmond. When he hadn’t want to take the risk of being seen with them at their Washington D.C. headquarters, they suggested the old Richmond train depot. It was usually deserted in the afternoon. The agent in charge of Sean’s case had just returned from Seattle and would personally conduct the interview. At the appointed time Regelind arrived at the station. Walking up to the portico, he found the agent in casual attire. Regelind had been instructed to dress that way as well.

   When Regelind sat down, the agent introduced himself, shook hands and, after making sure they were alone, displayed his identification.

   “Thank you for coming. We have a lot to discuss. You and I both understand that this is a most unusual case and that we are dealing with a dangerous situation.  Although I am in no position to guarantee immunity from prosecution, your willingness to come forward and cooperation in this investigation will be taken into account.”

   “I… I understand,” Regelind said,  speaking softly and slowly.

   “Before we begin, I’d like to ask you a personal question, if I may,” said the agent. After Regelind nodded his consent the agent continued, “All of this—the business with Sean and his family—has been going on a long time. Why did you decide to come to us now?” There was a much longer pause before Regelind answered:

   “I can’t live with myself anymore. There was a time when I thought I was doing the right thing; that I was entitled to the privileged life I enjoyed. I don’t feel that way anymore. I can’t stop thinking of the suffering I’ve put people through; the degradations and perversions.”

   The agent remained impassive but inwardly was somewhat surprised. This would be no ordinary confession. There was so much to cover. According to Mary and Sean’s testimony there was at seventy years worth of interaction with The Brotherhood and Sean’s family.

   “Tell me what you know about Emily Carroll,” The agent said.

   “That’s where it all begins. Emily had power. My father and his father before him knew that and used her powers to enrich themselves. I’m guilty of that myself.”

   “How is that possible that you are involved?” said the agent, “She’s been missing and presumed dead since 1946. When you were only a child.”

   “She’s not dead. I’ve seen her, I’ve touched her. I know where she is,” said John Regelid III, "She’s not alive, but she isn’t dead.”



   At the small park, Sean and his son Vilhjálmur were sitting on a bench. Vilhjálmur was giving Sean an informal lesson in Icelandic. Sean would point to an object and Vilhjálmur would give Sean the name. When Sean would repeat what the child had said, Vilhjálmur would laugh. An elderly woman, one of Þora’s neighbors, walked up to the pair. She knew Vilhjálmur but had never seen Sean before.

   “Hver er þessi maður?” the woman said—asking the boy “Who is this man?”

   “Það er pabbi minn!” the boy cried excitedly. “Það er pabbi minn!”

   The woman looked at Sean intently.

   “So you are the father?” she said.

   “Já.” said Sean, who was still in his basic Icelandic mode. Shifting to English, he added: “Yes, this is my son.”

   “Sum börn vaxa upp í sérkennilegu hátt,” muttered the woman as she walked away. 
 



Fiction

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Amy


Image: The Guardian

A documentary, directed by Asif Kapadia

This long (128 minutes) film is a fascinating yet flawed look at the late singer. This is one of those films with a lot of ‘common’ English; it would have benefited in having subtitles. Amy grew up in London, and there was a fair amount of footage of her when she was a teen and young adult before she became famous. The early footage is rough, lots of jpeg artifacts and fuzzy images. As it progresses the quality of footage becomes progressively better: by the end, it is almost all in HD. Conversely, the amount of the ‘real’ Amy begins to recede as she is devoured by the press, drugs, drinking, and bulimia. But even towards the end, she had her moments—the sequence shot shortly before her death (with Tony Bennett) is superb

Amy Winehouse was a stylist, a singer who also had the ability to write strong lyrics and possessed an unerring knack for composing melody. It would be hard to project what she would have become if she had lived: the film gave me the impression that she wasn’t a particularly deep person. The men in her life were abysmal. The film tried to make her parents’ divorce as life-shattering; I'm sure it was traumatic. But she did have a full family life, spending time with both parents (as well as having a very strong grandmother.)

You should really be in the mood for a film like this, there is no humor in it, and the depictions of her ‘down’ periods are harrowing.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Monday, July 13, 2015

Big Hersh


Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School Speech Team, circa 1956, seated: Big Hersh. Photographer unknown.

Big Hersh was a venerated and feared teacher. I was recently at Fourth of July celebration and his name came up, one of the people there had taken English from him. She had some good stories. By the time I studied under him, about ten years after the above picture was taken, Big Hersh had slipped out of sync with the times. His teaching career started in the early thirties when he was employed as a principal/teacher/coach in a small town in out-state Minnesota; he came to Minneapolis a few years later where he taught, drove cab,  and raised a family.

The late sixties were a time of turmoil and our school was not spared from the unrest of the times, indeed, I was responsible for some of it. Still, Big Hersh never lost faith in me. After graduation, I would visit him from time to time. Each time I stopped over he began talking to me—continuing our conversation as if I had only stepped out of the room for a moment. He finally did retire in the early seventies, I don’t know how he made it through those last few years when the students were often high or drunk, or otherwise out of control.

He would talk to me about his early days, how the students were respectful, and how they had a thirst for knowledge. “We had scholars then.” he once told me.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 4 




Friday, July 10, 2015

Tricks and Treats



   It was a little past seven P.M. when Hilmar dropped Mary off at her apartment. Hilmar and Mary had spoken little on the two-hour trip back to Reykjavík. Sean, who had been going over Vilhjálmur’s paternity papers, rose up from the table where he was working and greeted Mary warmly with a hug and a kiss. He could sense from her body language that Mary had experienced another major ‘incident.’

   “How did it go today?” Sean asked.

   “Deep,” she said, “Very deep. I‘ll talk about it later. I’m starving.”

   They left the apartment and walked down Fríkirkjuvegur towards the old harbor, where Sean knew there were several good restaurants. As they neared the waterfront, Sean felt a wave of nausea and stopped to regain his equilibrium.

   “What is it?” Mary asked with alarm.

   Sean looked up at the street sign: Geirsgata.

   “This is where Billy died.”



      Back in her apartment in Seattle, Molly Berenson had just finished reading about the death of Sally O’Donnell when a knock at the door startled her. She had been warned about opening the door and, after the latest news, was terrified. The knock was repeated, followed by the words: “FBI, can we have a word with you, Ms. Berenson?”

   Molly didn’t believe it. She quietly went into her bathroom and, after locking the door, called the police.



   John Regelind III pondered his options. He knew that the FBI had renewed its investigation of Sean’s stabbing. He also knew that The Brotherhood had too much power to be challenged directly. In another week, it would be the full moon again and with it another ‘session’ with Emily in the Chamber House. The Brotherhood’s new leader was sure to use the event as a way to solidify his power as well as a justification of his ‘doubling down’ on the use of lethal force. John knew that that would be the ideal time to break with the group and end its murderous rampage. He picked up the phone and called the FBI office in Washington, D.C.



   After dinner, Mary and Sean walked past Harpa, the new concert hall complex, and then along the bay to the Sólfar sculpture.  Although it was early June, the air remained quite cool. Mary stood at the edge of the site, facing the sea, entranced by the vista. With a background of Mount Esja looming across the bay behind her sunlight hair, she looked every bit the Goddess, thought Sean.

   “Aren’t you getting cold?” asked Sean.

   “No, not in the slightest,” she replied, “I feel as if I’m burning up—in a good way if that makes any sense to you. We can go back to the apartment if you’d like.”

   “We should check in with our lawyers in Seattle. There may have been some developments,” Sean said, looking discouraged.

   “It’s been a long day for both of us,” said Mary, “I hope you aren’t down about the paternity case; just how bad was it?”

   “Remember the good old days, when I was a millionaire?” said Sean, ruefully. “I’m going to have to get a job.”

   “If I am going to be Mother of the Goddess, I’ll need a housekeeper.”

  They walked back to the apartment via Laugavegur; most of the shops were open, and had throngs of tourists walking in and out of them. Sean thought their aimless meandering was akin to Brownian Motion. He continued his prior conversation with Mary:

   “I don’t begrudge Vilhjálmur a thing. I’m a little bummed about not being able to be much of a father. Þora is conscientious, and Hilmar seems to be aware of what’s going on. You spent the day with him, what do you think of the man?”

   “I’m afraid I gave him a bit of a fright. I ‘left’ him for a time, that is. I was in a different realm of reality. I’m changing again. I have new powers.”

   “Such as?” said Sean.

   “See that car, the red one, across the street?”

   “Yes, I see it, The one with two wheels on the curb?”

   Mary stood still and stared at the car. It quietly rose a few inches and slid toward the street where it ‘landed’ in a proper parking spot. The action was so subtle and smooth that the people walking on the sidewalk next to it failed to notice what was happening.

   “That’s a good trick.”  said Sean.

   “There’s more. A lot more.” said Mary, as they walked up to their apartment. “Watch this.”

   Mary stood still for a moment, then waved her hand at the door. It unlocked itself and swung open. After they entered, the door shut and locked itself behind them and the room-darkening shade rolled down. As Sean was grappling with what he had just seen, he turned to speak. Mary motioned him to be silent. She smiled and then reached out and touched her fingertips to Sean’s.

   Sean saw that their clothes were now lying on the floor and that they were naked.

   An hour later, Sean was again able to realize who he was.




Fiction

By Professor Batty




Monday, July 06, 2015

Saturday in the Park…

… I think it was the fourth of July:



The centenary of the Waseca band shell was celebrated with a Chautauqua. Arts, puppetry, and music mixed with cheap food and drink. You could actually get drunk on a ten dollar bill!

There was a Mariachi band playing lively tunes:



Volunteers in vintage clothing added to the festive air:



Karen and Rich get real:



THE WORLD’S BIGGEST DOG was there as well:



And a splendid time was had by all!

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, July 03, 2015

Iceland Underground



   Mary found her visual field filled with multicolored lights. As the colors danced before her, she became aware of chanting, coming from what seemed to be a massive choir, its voices ranging from basso profoundo to the highest sopranos. The colors began to differentiate—they were poorly defined at first—but soon coalesced into what appeared to be amorphous shapes arranged on a barren plain. As the vision progressed, the shapes began taking human forms. Multitudes of people, all with delicate features and wearing diaphanous garments, stretched to the horizon. The group appeared to be in a random arrangement but, after a time, a gap appeared. Into this gap strode a woman—tall in relation to the others but only slightly taller than Mary. Mary realized that a trick of perspective had made them appear to be of normal height—in fact, they were no more than two feet tall. As the tall woman walked up to Mary the voices became quiet. The woman clasped Mary’s hands and greeted her warmly in archaic Icelandic:

   “Velkomnir. Ég er Auður. Þeir sem umkringja oss eru ‘falinn Folk’ í goðsögn. Þetta er tímabundin heimili okkar, þar sem við búa þar til við getum skilið þetta tímabundna ástand og ferðast á til Summerlands. Þú ert blessuð, ávöxtur kviðar þíns mun vera hjálpræði mannkynsins og losun okkar úr ánauð. Leit þín hefur verið horft vandlega, hefur þú fengið mikla þekkingu og skilning á þeim heimildum sem liggja undir spónn af skynja veruleika. Ert þú tilbúin til að taka næsta skref, skref sem mun leyfa þér að sigrast málið og orku?” *

   Mary realized that she could understand Auður perfectly, and simply said: “Yes.”

   With that, Auður raised her hands and she and the ‘hidden folk’ vanished in a blinding flash of light. When Mary recovered her vision she found herself back on the glacier, but the day had turned to night. Hilmar was nowhere to be seen. Above her, flickers of green aurora danced across the sky. Mary concentrated on the lights and realized that she could shape them to her will. She conceived of a glowing orb—at first green, then red, then white—forming a small sun, which she willed to descend. When it reached the glacier, vast quantities of steam arose from where the sun touched the glacier. Mary was filled with the awareness of a new dimension to her powers. She shut her eyes and when she opened them again she was back on the glacier, in the daytime, with a startled Hilmar staring at her in disbelief.

   “Don’t believe everything you see,” she said, “How long have I been gone?”

   “You were here one minute, then you vanished,” said Hilmar, “You must have been gone for at least thirty minutes. I looked around to see if you might have fallen into a crevasse. I didn’t know whether to get help or just wait. I was ready to leave when you returned. Where had you gone?”

   “I was with the hidden folk.” Mary said.



   The Brotherhood, with its new leader, was meeting for the first time since John Regelind’s ouster from power. The mood at the table was somber. Another of the group’s agents had been killed; if he were to be connected to The Brotherhood all of them would be ruined. John grimly listened to the reports: Sally McDonnell and the fortune teller Tara had both been ‘neutralized’ to prevent them from telling what they knew about The Brotherhood. The Agent who had killed them was later, in an unforeseen incident, shot to death by a woman known to have been with Mary when Tara was killed. Sean and Mary had evidently left the Seattle area again. The new leader wanted to expand the killing; if they couldn’t find Sean and Mary, they would send them a strong message by ‘eliminating’ everyone connected with the couple. It was only a matter of time, the new leader intimated, they would bring Sean and Mary out of hiding.

   Sitting at the table with the others, Regelind had been having second thoughts about the whole “Brotherhood” mission. Four people dead, five if you count the truck driver who died in a crash while hauling explosives, six, if you count Sean’s mother, Marilyn. None of it had helped solidify The Brotherhood’s shaky hold on power.  He could end it all, but at what cost? If he went to the FBI, they would hardly believe the story of an occult group holding Sean’s grandmother in a state of suspended animation for nearly seventy years. Also, the FBI had been in the Senator’s pocket during the investigation of Sean’s stabbing. It would be difficult, but not impossible, for The Brotherhood to ‘neutralize’ Regelind. One thing Regelind did know for certain was that he was thoroughly disgusted by the man he had become.



   The head agent at the Seattle field office of the F.B.I. had been trying to make sense of the latest killings. The information and testimony Mary and Sean had given them concerning The Brotherhood had meshed with their own investigation into Sean’s stabbing but it was so far from hard evidence as to be almost useless. The deaths of ‘Madam Tara’ and Sally were strange: no sign of violence in either case. The coroner’s report simply stated ‘cardiac arrest’. The intruder shot by Mary’s acquaintance Jo did, however, give them something to go on. The man was obviously a professional hit-man, probably Russian, and he was carrying some of the same equipment as the man who had been hit by lightning.  The ‘inhaler’ he tried to use on Jo was being analyzed. If its contents were capable of causing death it would be yet another thing to tie the cases together. But the motive still remained unclear. Why would The Brotherhood kill people who were only remotely involved with Sean and Mary? Sean and Mary were in Iceland, presumably out of reach of The Brotherhood, and there was some evidence that The Brotherhood had been in Iceland before, trailing the Senator’s son Billy when he died.  Mary and Sean couldn’t stay underground indefinitely. It might be time to lean on John Regelind III a little, the agent thought. Before anyone else was killed.



   Sean’s meeting with the lawyers concerning the paternity and support status of his son had dragged out all day. With an Icelandic lawyer, an Icelandic to English translator, Sean’s lawyer, and an English to Icelandic translator, even the simplest points took a long time to agree on. Sean wondered how long it would have taken if it had been a hostile proceeding. In the end, Þora and Vilhjálmur would just about take all the remaining money from his share of the ADR buyout.

  “I might actually have to get a job,” thought Sean.



*"I am Auður the deep. Those who surround us are ‘the hidden folk’ of legend. This is our temporary home, where we inhabit until we can leave this interim state and travel on to the Summerlands. You are blessed, the fruit of your womb will be humanity’s salvation as well as our release from bondage. Your quest has been watched carefully, you have gained great knowledge and understanding of the powers that lie beneath the veneer of perceived reality. Are you prepared to take the next step, a step which will allow you to overcome matter and energy?”




Fiction

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Wanda Wednesday

A tip of the Professor’s beret to Shoshanah and her Wanda Wednesday feature for today’s inspiration. I’ve been working on some of Wanda Gág’s old photo album pictures, restoring them as a way to stoke my infatuation.

Before:



After:



I was going for a hand-tinted tintype look. This picture was taken at about the time she lost her father, circa 1908.

Bringing her back, one image at a time…

By Professor Batty


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