Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Million Dollar Bash

Ev’rybody from right now
To over there and back
The louder they come
The harder they crack
Come now, sweet cream
Don’t forget to flash
We’re all gonna meet
At that million dollar bash
Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
It’s that million dollar bash
My childhood friend Rich Lewis has been the nucleus of various musical groups for over forty years. Recently he has been throwing year-end bashes at Whitey's—a landmark Northeast Minneapolis bar. Last Sunday he really outdid himself with an amalgamation of musicians and singers performing to rapturous friends and family in the densely packed nightclub.

He even persuaded a couple of "the girls" to join his daughter on the chorus of one number:



Rich's daughter Faye stole the show from her father on a stirring rendition of Wilson Pickett's Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You:



Thanks Rich, for a lifetime of memories, musical and otherwise!


Million Dollar Bash lyrics by Bob Dylan

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Monday, December 28, 2015

Mondays in Iceland - #42


Hólavallagarður cemetery, Reykjavík, October 11, 2015

I've posted about this place before and used it as the basis for an illustration. One particularly sinister capture of it was used by a Goth Finnish blogger. But, in reality, it is a very nice place, particularly when the sun breaks through.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Birthday

 

    As Sean was lighting candles, there was a knock at the apartment door.

   “That would be Jo,” said Sean, as he went to let her in, “Hi, Jo, we’re glad you could come. Are you alright?”

   “I'm OK, but I think Rainier is erupting,” said Jo, entering,  “Are we safe?”

   “I don’t know. It looks as if Mary will be stuck here. Her labor is proceeding very quickly. The city looks like it is paralyzed, how did I-5 look from your place?”

   “Bad, but still standing. Do you think this building will collapse?” said Jo.

   “It should be good, at least up to a seven,” said Sean. “It was built to the latest earthquake codes.”

   “Fill the tub, would you, Sean?” Mary said, between gasps, “We’ll need all the water we can get if the city’s infrastructure goes down.”

   “I’ll fill all our pitchers too,” said Sean, “Jo, the childbirth supplies are already in the bedroom, Mary, can you make it there?”

   “Yes, oof, give me a, unh, hand, would you Jo?” said Mary.

   While Sean saw to the water, Mary and Jo went into the bedroom.

   “Jo, let’s be clear about this. You don’t have to be here. I won’t think any the less of you if you leave,” Mary paused to catch her breath, “This is my struggle, I’ve already been the cause of too many problems for you.”

   “Hey, I’m in,” said Jo, as she began to sort out the things Mary would need, “You and Sean have done a lot for me, too. You got me out of Spokane.”

   Sean came into the room.

   “I don’t think we’ll be going anywhere soon,” he said, “It’s gridlock out there. All the streets are full of cars. There are fires starting up around the city and the traffic will be a big problem for any first responders. What I could see from the balcony is that Elliot is completely jammed. Most of the city is dark. There are still lights on Bainbridge however.  I can’t see Rainier from the balcony. Did you see an actual lava flow on Rainier?”

   “I think so,” said Jo, “There was a bright red glow on its peak.”

   “That might be a good thing—it hasn’t done a Mount Saint Helens,” said Sean, “If it had exploded we’d already be toast. How’s it going, Mary?”

   “My labor is in fast-forward. Strong contractions, a minute on a minute off. Jo, would you check my dilation?”

   Sean put his phone in flashlight mode and gave it to Jo. Jo bent down and looked between Mary’s legs.

   “You’re at about six centimeters, wow, it is really going fast.” said Jo, “Sean, get me a pan of warm water, it won’t be long now.”

   Mary’s gasps had turned to grunts and by the time Sean returned Mary was growling.

   “Sean, support Mary’s back,” said Jo.

   “I’m right here with you,” Sean whispered in Mary’s ear as he climbed up on the bed behind her, “Is there anything I can do for you?”

   “The ring,” gasped Mary, ”Put on the ring.”

   Sean took the ring from his watch-pocket and put it on his finger. He was immediately engulfed in Mary’s thoughts.
I am the world, bursting with life, birthing the goddess incarnate…
   “Hang in there, Mary, it’s going good, still at six… ” said Jo.
From the seven portals by the seven seas, the new age of humanity begins tonight…
   “You’re at seven, it’s good, breathe… ” Jo said.
The light, the light… 
   As Mary’s contractions shook her body Sean began convulsing in sympathy. Mary’s grip on his hand began to hurt, bringing his consciousness back to the bedroom. Sean saw the flickering light from the candles reflected in the beads of perspiration on Mary’s face.  The glow from the phone between Mary’s legs reminded him of a religious painting of the baby Jesus in the manger. A new contraction brought his consciousness back to Mary’s thoughts.
As the solstice approaches, so does my deliverance, the longest night will be replaced by day…


   Dick Merrit and Elly Nelson, reporters for techcreeper.com, were speeding North on the Alaskan Way Viaduct when the big quake hit. Dick lost control and their car swerved into oncoming traffic. There would be no further installments of the techcreeper.com exposé of Sean and Mary.



   Hilmar tried to appraise the situation. He tried his phone but got no reception. He knew that any volcano was extremely dangerous but so far the prevailing wind was blowing any harmful gasses away. The lava flow was still sluggish. If the flow did increase he could see where previous eruptions had discharged—right where the group was standing.  With the disabled tour bus on its side in a ditch, he had to do something. Hilmar began to talk to the group, urging them to hike down the road, away from the volcano. There was a small settlement about four kilometers past the church, if the group started now they could reach it in and hour, hopefully before hypothermia began to set in. A small explosion at the peak convinced those few who wanted to stay to change their minds. As they began their trek, the volcano behind them began to erupt in earnest.



   “Ten centimeters,” said Jo.

   Mary had been in hard labor for about twenty minutes. Sean’s mental state began to change. He was aware of Mary beside him, but her thoughts no longer appeared to him. Instead, a black limbo presented itself. He could sense inchoate forms, but could make no sense of them. He was becoming deeply disturbed by what he was going through, but he resisted the impulse to take off his ring.

   Mary’s consciousness was fully engaged in the childbirth process. She could feel the changes in her cervix as she became fully dilated. The contractions had become fully integrated into her being, they were no longer there, they had become her.

   “Here she comes…” Jo said softly.

   With a loud cry from Mary, the baby slid out: a girl, covered in vernix, perfectly formed, with a little halo of fuzz on her head.

   The baby was not breathing.




Fiction 

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Proustian Dilemma


Jan, John, Colleen, Abby; Minneapolis, March, 1976 

Looking through these old images, I’m struck by how much 'baggage' each one carries, not the baggage of the people pictured, but my baggage—all the things I've 'known' about each of them. Truth is only a part of the equation. My own impressions are hopelessly colored by imperfect knowledge and memory. A photograph containing people creates an involuntary reaction in the viewer. The human mind is quick to impart meaning to a scene—a short-cut to understanding—no doubt useful in real life when assessing a new situation. But the moment passes and, as the river of time rolls on, its original import is forgotten; the image must stand on its own.


The truth of the picture remains inscrutable.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Monday, December 21, 2015

Mondays in Iceland - #41


Seawall near Fiskislöð, Reykjavík, October 11, 2015

This is part of Reykjavík that is seldom featured in tourist publications. A few dog-walkers and joggers use the path along the seawall. It is a pleasant, if somewhat austere, place to escape from the traffic and bustle of the city.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Friday, December 18, 2015

Red/Rauður



   “Our final childbirth class, ” Sean said, driving south on Aurora, “Are we ready?”

   “I’m ready, God, am I ready. I was due yesterday,” said Mary, “We’ve got all the supplies we need for a home birth.”

   “And we’re all set with The Swedish Medical Center, as a backup?”

   “If it comes to that,” said Mary, “The midwife said they had the best birthing suites. Jo said that she could help out too, she was a doula for her sister, twice.”

   “How are you and Jo getting along?” said Sean, “You have been spending a lot of time together.”

  “She’s the kid sister I never had,” said Mary, “She’s got the gift, she just never had the chance to explore it until now.”

   “You’re being careful, aren’t you?” said Sean, “She’s been through a lot.”

   “She’s tough. A hardened killer,” Mary said, “Like me.”

   Sean didn’t reply.

   “Are you making any headway with Emily’s artwork?” said Mary.

   “Some,” Sean said, “I’m correlating her activities with the art events described in the books she bought about The Modernists. Emily had already made numerous notes and so far they mesh with her diaries. My next step is to get into the archives of the authors of those books. I need to find photographs from those times, perhaps some letters or even eyewitness accounts. Everyone who experienced those events is long dead, but I’ve been in touch with some archivists…  Whoa! Deer!”

   Sean braked hard to avoid hitting a trio of deer that had emerged from Woodland Park.

   “Let me out, at the corner, something is happening, I need to be outside,” said Mary, “Drive around the block, pick me up in five minutes.”

   Sean pulled over and let Mary out.

   “Are you sure you’ll be alright?” said Sean.

   “It’s OK,” said Mary, as she walked into the park.

   Mary went in about thirty yards, just far enough to minimize the sound of the traffic. Standing still, she could hear rustling in the undergrowth. Then came a sharper noise, a sound of claws on asphalt footpath, she looked up and saw a large coyote padding toward her.  Her rational mind began to shut down as her animal mind came to the forefront of her consciousness. She gazed into the eyes of the creature and nodded. It bounded away and Mary returned to the street where Sean was pulling up.

   “Let’s get home, we don’t have much time,” Mary said, stepping into the car.

   “Sure thing. Is it the baby?”

   “No. Earthquake. Soon.”



   Jo had gotten off her shift at the coffeehouse and was in her new apartment, preparing a light supper. She found that after being surrounded by coffee and pastries all day, a salad could change her outlook towards food.  She had the laptop that Sean and Mary had given her, the log-in said that it was Emily’s MacBook Pro. Jo thought it sweet that it had been named after Sean’s grandmother. Sean told her that it needed a different log in name to differentiate it from the other computers on the local network. He didn’t tell her that Emily had actually used it when she stayed in the apartment. Sean would let Mary decide when and if Jo would learn the story of Emily’s ‘resurrection.’

   As Jo ate, she scrolled through her news feed. One headline caught her attention. She stopped scrolling and clicked through to the story:

SEATTLE'S BEST NEW-AGE SECRET ROMANCE

The strange but true story of death, deception and mystery behind the rise of Sean Carroll and Mary Robinson, his Witch-bride.

The world first heard of Sean Carroll in the “Billygate” affair, how he was “coerced” into pretending to masquerade as his dead half-brother. The story faded from the public eye, but it has only grown weirder in the last couple of years. netnewszine.com has learned that Sean has recently received a settlement worth millions from the estate of Virginia multimillionaire. Mary Robinson, his wife, is the force behind the wildly successful SpellApp, put out by the Icelandic “New Religion” internet church. How these two came to their present position of power, and the stories of the secrets they’re hiding, will be covered in a continuing series exclusively on techcreeper.com…


   The first tremors hit as Mary and Sean walked into their apartment. They were noticeable, but not terribly strong. As they subsided Mary felt some discomfort in her abdomen so she went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet. Her water broke.  Then the second wave of tremors hit. The lights flickered and then went out.

   “Great timing,” said Mary, as she groped her way back to the kitchen, “My water broke.”

   “Phone service has been knocked out,” Sean was using his phone as a flashlight to look for matches and candles, “Can you make it down twenty flights of stairs?”

   “Oof,” Mary paused to catch her breath, “No. Is the internet still up?”

   Sean opened his laptop. “The local network is still active—it’s got a back-up—but the router isn’t getting the internet.”

   “Can you message Jo?” Mary gasped, “This is going way faster than it should. She should be in her place.”

   “Sure.”



   Hilmar cursed his success. He was standing with a group of ‘true believers’ in a field at the base of Snæfellsjökull, the dormant volcano located on the west coast of Iceland. It was cold and dark. And it was four A.M. There had been a demand for a December Solstice gathering at this ‘sacred portal’ so he had put together a tour package; it quickly sold out. The actual solstice wouldn’t occur for nearly another hour, but everyone seemed glad to be there. There was some chanting, and several of the people were repeating the ‘SpellsApp’ chant for ‘fire.’ A cry arose from the group and Hilmar looked up from the coffee he was nursing. Hilmar had to admit that the looming mass of Snæfellsjökull, silhouetted by the starry sky behind it, was impressive, and now that an aurora display had begun it was, to use an overworked word, awesome. He began to feel the ground vibrate a bit. A mild earthquake only made the scene more impressive. A murmur began to spread through the crowd.

   This is one trip they’ll never forget, thought Hilmar, hey, it’s getting pretty intense! 
As the ground began to heave, Hilmar thought: People in the open aren’t usually at much of risk in an earthquake…

   As he was thinking, there was an especially violent shock and, hearing a loud crash, he turned to see the tour bus had tipped over onto its side, slipping off the shoulder where it had been parked. Hilmar looked at the bus, this is some trouble, he mused. It will take several hours to get another bus here and people will need some shelter before too long. There was a small church just down the road, they could stay there if they had to. As he looked at the forlorn bus, he thought that his eyes were playing tricks on him—there was a red glow reflected on the top (now side) of the bus. A service vehicle already? he mused. A cry from the crowd got his attention and when he turned around he saw that at the top of the jökull a cloud of dull red steam was rising above the summit. A moment later the first tongue of fiery red lava appeared.

   “Skít,” said Hilmar.



   Jo’s laptop had also lost its internet connection when the power went out. She stood in front of the screen, pressing keys, frustrated and frightened. She was about to put her jacket back on and leave when she got a pop-up message from Sean’s computer:

Jo, can you come up? Mary’s in labor, we can use some help.”

   Jo typed “OK” and sent the message to Sean. She shut down her computer and picked her phone up. No Bars. She looked out the kitchen window—the streets of the city were already beginning to fill with cars. On I-5, the traffic was at a standstill, almost as bad as rush hour. The rest of the city was black. Looking to the southeast, she saw a large red cloud in the distance, hovering above a brilliant lake of fire.

“Oh My God, it’s Rainier!” she said.




Fiction

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, December 16, 2015

North Fifth Street Story


Minneapolis, c. 1978

Living on the fringe of an old warehouse district I found myself surrounded by the ghosts of the past. When the area was built up, in the 1880s, the primary source of moving merchandise within the city was by horsepower. This meant that there were numerous stables in the outlying areas along with modest housing for the teamsters who used horses to draw their wagons. Most of the houses were gone by the mid 70s, lost to redevelopment or highway construction. There were still a large number of stables remaining, however. They had all been converted to storage or light industrial use. With their tell-tale hay lofts, it was easy to spot them.

One day a car containing an elderly woman came by the house where I lived. She was on a visit to the neighborhood of her youth. She had her son, who was driving, stop so she could talk to the "young urban pioneers" who now lived in her old haunts. Her house was gone, but she remembered most of the buildings which remained.  She mentioned that the Fire Station (on the next block) was where a large horse barn had once stood. She said that her most vivid memory of childhood was when that barn had caught fire.

She said she could still hear the horses screaming.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Monday, December 14, 2015

Mondays in Iceland - #40


Reykjavík, October 11, 2015

The old harbor area in Reykjavík  has had an enormous amount of development in recent years. With its new luxury flats, dry docks and modern commercial buildings it is a mix of old, new and undeveloped real estate. It has become almost unrecognizable to me after being away for only a three years. The boat pictured above has been parked in an empty lot with severe apartments in the background overlooking it.

There are even car lots where one could pickup a used Range Rover for a cool 13.800.000 kronur:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Friday, December 11, 2015

Moving Day



   Sean was eating breakfast when Mary’s phone chimed. Mary was still asleep. He saw that it was from Jo and he picked up.

   “Hi, Jo,” Sean said.

   “Oh, hi Sean. ” said Jo, “Is Mary there?”

   “She’s sleeping. She had a rough night last night, the baby gets really active around midnight. I can pick you up if you are ready.”

   “Oh, I can get a taxi,” said Jo, “I don’t have a lot of stuff.”

   “It’s not a problem, Mary will probably be out for a couple more hours,” said Sean, “It will be easier to unload via the garage. You’re on Aloha, just off Aurora, right?”

   “1228, that’s right. I’ll be out front.”

   “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”


The skies were a dull red, with sinister black clouds fringing the horizon. Mary found herself standing on a mountain, looking down on the chaos below her—cities on fire, highways jammed with traffic—and she sensed that there was a wild animal near her. Turning around, she saw a magnificent mountain lion, its eyes lit from within by what seemed to be glowing embers. “Save us,” said the cat, and he bounded away. Mary began drifting away, higher and higher, until she could see the whole world. It was splitting apart, as if it was on the verge of total destruction. “I know what must be done,” she said to herself.
   “I know what must be done,” Mary said as she awoke. Putting on a bathrobe, she got up and went out to the kitchen. There was a note on the counter from Sean, stating that he had gone to help Jo move. Mary went to the bathroom to prepare for the day.



   “That’s it,” said Jo, after she had put her things in Sean’s car, “Two backpacks and a trunk—all my worldly possessions.”

   “Well it certainly makes it easier to move,” said Sean, “I didn’t have much more than that when I first came to Seattle. “Are you going to miss this place?”

   “Transitional housing?” answered Jo, “Not much. That’s why I had to get the trunk, I needed something I could lock. It only takes one bad apple to ruin it for everyone. That place had a bushel of them.”

   “Well, you’ll have a place of your own, for ten months anyway,” said Sean as they pulled into traffic, “We might have to get into the spare room once in a while, but we’ll give you notice when we need to.”

   “Mary mentioned that. There are some of your grandmother’s things in there?”

   “Right,” said Sean, “Some paintings, some of her clothes, papers… ”

   “Are they valuable?” said Jo.

   “That’s a good question,” said Sean, “The art world runs on its own peculiar logic. I’ll be contacting various experts over the next few months—after the baby comes—so I may need to take some of the paintings from time to time. I don’t want to store them where I don’t have control of them—there still might be some remnants of The Brotherhood who might have reasons for seeing them destroyed. I would prefer that no one is aware of their existence until we can release them with maximum impact.”

   “Now that you mentioned The Brotherhood, there was a reporter in the coffeehouse yesterday, a woman named Elly, asking questions about you and Mary,” said Jo, “She was fishing for information—she linked my attack to Sally’s murder. I acted dumb.”

   “I was wondering when the press would bring this up again,” said Sean, as they pulled into the apartment’s parking garage, “You handled that well. Both Mary and I feel somewhat responsible for what you experienced and we want to do everything we can to see that you remain safe.”

   “So, I take it that this apartment has security?” said Jo, as they entered the elevator.

   “It has a lot.  The building itself has an excellent system, and both our apartment and yours have additional measures. I’ll explain them to you later. Mary might be up by now, I’ll call her, she can join us for breakfast.”

   “Breakfast? I don’t have any food.”

   “Oh yes you do,” said Sean, “Life is going to be a lot easier for you from now on.”



   Dick Merrit and Elly Nelson, reporters for techcreeper.com, had been following Sean and Jo since Sean had picked her up. Dick had taken photos of Jo getting picked up by Sean.

   “You’re sure they didn’t see you?” asked Elly, “You were pretty obvious, standing in the middle of the sidewalk.”

   “I was across the street. Besides, I think our Mr. Carroll is too besotted with ‘la barista bonita’ to notice if it was day or night.”

   “You think they’re lovers?” said Elly, “Where does that leave Mary Robinson?”

   “Where is the mysterious Ms. Mary? Oh, do tell,” answered Dick, “She hasn’t been seen since she came back to Seattle,  barefoot and pregnant. It’s little wonder that Sean has arranged some action on the side.”

   “I think you are quite full of shit,” said Elly.

   “Think of it as manure,” said Dick, “If we want this story to grow it needs some fertilizer. They’re pulling into that parking garage under that apartment building. I’ll find out if Sean has an apartment there.”

   “I already know—Sean Carroll and Mary Robinson live in apartment 1012,” said Elly.

   “A three-way, huh?”

   “You never fail to imagine the most sordid scenarios, do you?” Elly said.

   “She’s not his sister,” replied Dick, “Although that would make it even kinkier. Whatever Sean’s game is, it has the making of a great story.”

   “Pictures or it didn’t happen.”

   “You’ll get your pictures, all right.”





Fiction

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Opportunity


Jan, Waverly, Minnesota, 1975

In the mid seventies, five young women I know had sort of a girl-gang thing going—they had been tight since grade school.  I got to know them when they started hanging around a band I worked with.  We hit it off in a low-key way. They started bringing me along on some of their adventures. At the time I was going through a horrible slow-motion breakup with a woman I had been living with. Being able to escape that situation, if only for a while, gave me an opportunity to interact with the opposite sex in a friendly, non-neurotic fashion. These day-trips were a lot of simple fun. We would go out to the country: sometimes hanging out in a local tavern, or spending time at the old farmhouse, or just driving around. We may have conducted some herbal experiments as well. I took pictures.

Last Sunday The Weaver and I spent the day with four of the women who had been in that group. We were joined by Dan and Mary, who had joined this circle of friends in the eighties. They run a restaurant which holds special art-related private events from time to time. We had been talking about those old times and Mary mentioned that I should consider having an exhibition at one of their events. When I told her I'd think about it, she said she'd like to schedule it for May.

Gulp!

Today I began to look at some of the image files from that era. My photographic technique was somewhat haphazard at the time, but I did manage to find some that might be good enough to show. A bigger problem was the personal nature of the images. An impartial observer might find them lacking in interest, but for those involved they would certainly have an emotional impact. One of the "girls" died years ago and is still sorely missed.

I'll have to think long and hard about this opportunity.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Monday, December 07, 2015

Mondays in Iceland - #39



Bæjarins beztu pylsur,  on Tryggvagata, near Kolaportið, has been at the same location* for nearly 80 years, faithfully serving their delectable and affordable Icelandic hot dogs to throngs of locals and tourists alike.  At 400 kronur (about $3) they are one of the few bargains in food to be found in Iceland. I won't say that they have the best hot dog I've ever eaten, but their pylsa are distinctive (made with lamb and pork, served with a special remoulade sauce) and memorable—I never fail to have at least half a dozen every time I visit Reykjavík (not all at once!)

Just thinking of them brings me back to the funky little shack near the harbour.

*Due to recent construction, they had to move the stand 10 meters!

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, December 04, 2015

Bell, Book, and Candles



   Mary kicked Sean out of bed and gathered the sheets up around her body.

   “It might be time to stop doing this for a while,” said Sean, taking one of the tissues.

   “Hmph,” snorted Mary as she left the room, “I’ll be the judge of that.”  

   “I defer to your judgement,” said Sean, “I’m going out to get some groceries.”
  
   Mary called out from the bathroom; “As long as you’re going to the store, would you pick up some things for Jo’s apartment as well? I wrote two lists, They are on the kitchen counter—one for us and one for Jo’s place. She really doesn’t have much more than the clothes on her back. I think it would really be depressing to have to move into an empty kitchen.”

   “If it’s that much stuff it will take me a while,” said Sean, pulling on his clothes, “Is this your nesting instinct expressing itself?”

   “Maybe. Just buy tons of everything, between the three of us we’ll eat it eventually. Hell, if I continue to be this hungry I’ll eat it all myself,” Mary said,  “I’m going to be on FaceTime with Hilmar at five, after I’m done I’ll come down and help you get Jo’s apartment ready.”

   When Sean left for the store, Mary got dressed and went back to the couch in the living room. She smiled to herself as she put the erotica away.

  “Emily’s drawings are definitely going to find an audience," Mary said, “I hope Sean realizes what he’s getting into.”

   At five, Hilmar appeared on Mary’s computer.

   “Hæ, hæ,” said Hillmar. “How are you tonight? Still expecting, I see.”

   “Big,” said Mary, “A couple more weeks. Ouch. The baby’s kicking. What’s new?”

   “Much. Very much,” Hilmar began, “The spell app is still going viral. We’re running out of material. We’ve been putting up new spells, in rotation, spreading them out so that everyone doesn’t get the same one at the same time. Do you have any more material that we can use?”

   “Some, I’ve got some more things to go through. I’ll try to get you as many as I can before the baby comes. Are you still getting positive feedback from users?”

   “Já. From thousands,” said Hilmar, “On the Facebook, the Twitter, pictures of people smiling. Some of them with cats. The cats are smiling as well.”

   “Haha! Start putting them on the app feed,” said Mary, “There is a social aspect to all of this, if we can do it without making it appear to be a power grab it will help immensely. The app is still a dollar ninety-nine a month?”

   “Já.”

   “Make it a dollar even,” Mary said, “It has to be available to everyone, and no funny business with selling user information. Make sure the people who use it know that all their information is erased monthly.”

   “An anti-business business model?”

   “Exactly. How about negative reactions? Haters gotta hate.”

   “Nothing directly,” said Hilmar, “Although it won’t be long. There’s another religious craze here that is getting all the negative publicity—The Zuists—a Sumerian religion that has been revived to foster the separation of church and state. It’s just a dodge to avoid the official church levies.”

   “Icelanders are taxed to support the state church?”

   “It has been a point of contention for a long time. It’s one of those Icelandic things which are hard to explain.”

   “I’ll have to look up Zuism. Sounds like they are my kind of people.”

   “Speaking of your kind of people, we’ve been getting a lot of people coming to Iceland, attending our events, some of them are asking about where the spells came from. You’d be a big hit here if you ever wanted to start a career as a preacher.”

   “Thank you, no. I’d prefer to stay behind the scenes,” Mary said, “Have there been any people asking for me by name?”

   “Yes, now that you mention it. There was a woman who said she was from an internet news service, Tech Creeper,” said Hilmar, “She got a hold of my email address somehow. She asked a lot of questions about Sean and Billy and you.”

   “Did you answer it?” said Mary.

   “No, I never answer emails. If I did I would never get anything done.”

   “Good. If you still have it could you forward it to me?” said Mary, “I like to know who I’m up against.”

   “Já.” Hilmar said, “Oh, there’s the bell, I’m expecting some people. We’re planning a big solstice celebration at Snæfellsjökull. Send me more spells, if you can. I’ll forward you that email. Bye.”

   “Bye, thanks for not telling anyone about me.”

   Mary’s phone rang. It was Sean.

   “I’m at the store. Do you really want all those candles you put on your list?”

   “I need them for some ceremonies I found in the voodoo book.”

   “O. K., Will do.”





  Fiction.



By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Darkroom


1142 North Fifth Street, Minneapolis, c.1972

   My old darkroom, in the attic of an non-insulated house, was usable only at certain times of the year. Hardly high-tech, even for that time. Still, it offered me a place to experiment, to escape from my squalid existence for a few hours. Woefully short on cash, I "made do or did without" (geezer talk.) I've still got most of the negatives (AKA The Flippist Archives), but very few of the prints and none of the gear. There are a few die-hards with wet darkrooms who still suffer with stinky chemicals and clunky equipment.

I don't miss it at all.

By Professor Batty


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