Last year I learned terrible news. If I had learned of Molly’s passing earlier, it might have destroyed me.  Instead, I took responsibility and danced. For a whole year I have held a candle and sung a song of hope and peace.

Now I square the circle and complete the grieving.  The time has come to let go and forget, so that the universe may continue to spin a spiral of love.

Keeping and releasing. This is how we find an experience of being alive.

I think now of how we go through our lives and miss so much, waste so many chances to make a connection, and this is okay.  The universe is generous and this is harsh on us.  We who are limited by our smallness.

It’s funny, but there’s a part of me the universe revealed that belongs to myself and only I. This secret can never be replaced or duplicated to my knowledge. That mystery knows Molly now and will remember if the other parts of me forget.

Caring transforms our darkness into the light of sorrow and suffering so that we might know ourselves and the human depths and heights of our unknown nature.

I imagine ecstasy, seeing my friend and almost lover in the ways she might have been and may yet be beyond the realm of our Mesozoic understanding. She is released from the obligation to carry the torch of life through the darkness of precipitous living.

I rejoice, knowing I have made meaningful some small part of her brief course in the span of time and space. That is, after all, what our calling often is as human beings.

She is free to travel, and I am released to continue on my small and winding night of the body for as long as is needed by my barely glimpsed destiny.

I love you Molly Kleinman.

Okay, so a long while ago I swore I would level up on the knitting power. It’s pretty sad news that a category on this blog has been limping along at only one entry for such a long time. Can you guess my undeveloped side here?

No longer! Unpacked (again), re-learning my skill (again). I will get back in touch with this and make myself the very scarf that Kimaroo mentioned I need in this day and age of psychic blizzards.  Everybody needs an advanced tool of civilized multi-purpose function in this era of Road Mutants In Training.

But hey, sometimes the trove comes up extras on the bonus round. Lo and behold at the store, an array of potions such that K and I thought were relegated to an age of history sadly written. Just goes to show that anything can reappear when the world turns with a subtle flavor.

Behold, potions of healing goodness! K loves this beer, swears by it and has sorely missed it. We plan to stock up before those Roguesy weirdoes turn off the emergency damage repair spigot accidentally again.  For now though, it is exceedingly cool to run into an old friend of tasty character and refreshing vitality. Times are tough!

Of course, scrolls of revelation are included in the package as well. For my roleplaying game group I do maps and tokens as part of my full Game-mastering package of goodies.  Here’s a picture of one such map that I created, of the village where the characters begin their adventure.

Yes, full on detail and color of the highest order.  These things help my players imagine the scale and scope of the area they find themselves in. I was telling Kimaroo about this very thing, when I realized I ought to show her what the Hek I was talking about.

Yes, magic items are everywhere. Because we need them.

For the last few months, I’ve found myself at a high degree of stress factors with diminished creative activity. You could say all sorts of components and clusters of energy have been blazing hot and ashen. Then, the downslide into long periods of rest and dulled, zombie-like shuffling about to no particular aim. Whatever’s going on in the deep unconscious, I’m pretty much surfing it as best I can.

No doubt, this last year I’ve been processing and working out an avalanche of dislodged material from my brain connections. I’ve truly felt like this was not for the faint of heart or tender of spirit, yet I’ve managed to keep the trans-warp drive going on jury-rigged plot devices.  Work, relationships, artistry; all on the hopper alert main panel with flashing jewel studded lights.

The past returning along the elliptic, the future looming across the event horizon, and the present busting a move on the loudspeakers and display panels as fast as I can render a thought.  Still, I’ve found fun where I could and helped people along in whatever manner I could find the wisdom and strength to do so. Really, there are long periods where all you can do is hope, and wonder, and dream your way through these blizzards of the soul.

Back in the college days of yore I encountered a mighty strange phenomenon.  In the student center there was a dining area for all the students on the generic meal plan (which at the time was called SAGA, or as it was nicknamed in fun, Soviet Attempt to Gag America; ironic since it was a liberal arts college).

Basically, you’d be sitting there eating your meal (usually dinner) and someone would say, “Rat-hump.” Someone else would say a little louder, “RAT-HUMP.” Then the real contest would begin: There would be a rush to see who could say “RATT-HUUMP!” the loudest without being embarrassed.

These things happen.

Just the other day on the FaceCrook channel my colleagues in college were doing the still-alive-but-past-life analysis in order to revisit this strange irrational gift from the beyond.  Alas, like all mysteries we could not find a suitable answer.

Where did it come from? Who brought it into being? The seed of this break in so-called well-behaved discourse must have come from somewhere reasonable and rational, right?  Right?!

I talked to the “cool” people of that time period, and they refused to say.  Maybe they know too much! In any case I got nothing on that angle.

I spoke with the folks from the period before where it might have manifested. They knew nothing.

The rational minds of the crew came up with some interesting (NSFW) origins of the word, but not quite the practice:

  • This blog provides general analysis.
  • Google Books references placing clues in 1922.
  • Democratic Underground digs up the popular culture graveyard.

My initial rant went as thus in the discussion:


Rat-hump is used in an escalating declarative sense to achieve a conscious recognition.

  • Step 1: “There is a rat-hump, hello!”
  • Step 2: “No, there’s a rat-hump, HELLO!”
  • Step 3: +1 until consciousness raising achieved.

At which point someone recognizes that yes, there is a rat-hump and someone’s face is red. In other words ritual re-enactment of “shock the monkey”, in which we all participate in the recognition of “crap thru a goose” life.

So the definition is rat-hump as a state of mind in which one realizes one is rat-humped, or someone you know is rat-humped.  QED: we are alive and life is rat-hump, Gloria Et Domine or Kyrie depending on where you stand on the rat-hump wheel at that particular moment


Spontaneous affirmation of life through a subversive exclamation of experience? Such things are among us now, refusing to allow our mere reason or tyrannical infant-services to repress them.


Nowadays Anime and Mecha (giant robots piloted by humans) are no big deal.  While I was still in high school though, many a moon ago, any appearance on television was a huge event. Of course, the concept of television was not the endangered species it is today either.

You had to get up early to catch this kind of stuff, like many shows that were barely allowed to show in the backwaters far from prime time slots.  But Robotech blew my mind with its character complexity and ongoing story.  Like Speed Racer, Marine Boy, and Starblazers before it I would be exposed to new ways of thinking and civilization would move forward in microscopic ways.

The premise is this: An alien vessel crash-lands on earth, filled with advanced technology and a brand new fuel source—protoculture.  The event causes the earth to unite under a world government and rebuild the alien ship into the flagship of a military organization called the Robotech Defense Force (or RDF for short).  It is believed that the aliens will come looking for the ship and earth wants to be ready to repel them.

Turns out that’s a correct assumption.  On the day of the maiden voyage of the flagship (known as the SDF-1 or “space defense fortress”), the aliens (giant humanoids called the Zentraedi) appear with the intention of capturing the flagship and returning to their home planet.

In the first series, known as “Macross” (named after the island the SDF-1 crashed and was rebuilt upon), we follow the adventures of both the humans and the Zentraedi involved in the struggle over possession of the SDF-1.  During the initial attack to recapture the ship, the humans discover not all of the modified-for-human-technology works at they believe.  Despite their superior forces, the Zentraedi find the behavior of the humans confusing and are constrained by orders not to destroy the SDF-1.

The Macross series really begins in earnest when the humans use the SDF-1 to execute a “space fold”, but botch the process.  They end up transporting themselves and most of Macross Island to outer space, at the far end of the solar system.  They are forced to rescue the 50,000 or so inhabitants of the island along with as much supplies and material as they can, then try to return to earth.  The Zentraedi attempt to stop them as the SDF-1 makes its way back home.

All a decent enough back-story for what happens, and in many cases that would drive the action of most television shows. What struck me as most powerful though was the idea that you could have a vast array of different iconic characters that included the “bad guys”.

Who it turns out aren’t as bad as first thought. The Zentraedi are controlled by the Robotech Masters who have stolen the fuel source of protoculture from another alien race—the Invid.  Protoculture, the source of immense power that fuels all the giant robot machines in battle, is a life form that belongs to the Invid.

The second series would examine the Robotech Masters and the third the Invid—and their effect on humanity.  In the second series the main protagonist is a woman.  That was another cool thing; how different kinds of women could have important parts in the drama.

The Zentraedi find the human culture awesome and exciting and many eventually elect to “micronize” themselves to human size and assimilate into humanity. The show evolves from a struggle for survival to a question of integration among different cultures.  This is handling the big stuff folks.

It isn’t perfect. There’s bias creep in the stories, not all of which holds up today.  But back then it was like advanced technology.  Cool characters dying? Questions of gender identity? Complexity in villains?

It was hard, getting up to watch this show.  Remembering to program my folks’ Beta VCR to record it wasn’t easy either.  Sometimes there’s only so much willpower available to a teenager, even when the stakes are something you really care about. This wasn’t the first or last show I had to fight to watch.

But sometimes that’s what young people have to do, fight for the things that matter for them.  Their very education is at stake. I would argue the future of civilization itself is at stake.  For where else will you learn the important lessons of culture if not through the hard-to-reach treasures of artistic pronouncement?

I still have my die cast metal SDF-1, bought on discount from Kaybee toys for ten bucks. My symbol of the adaptability of human transformation and the ability of new forms of thought to disrupt even the most ingrained forms of coercion and repression.

Nothing belongs to us; it is all borrowed on the backs of someone else.  Yet in a sense we are stealing from each other because we need to separate ourselves from truth, believe we are special above all others.  This is the dilemma of our civilization, the ability to recognize our limits and accept our indebtedness to others’ lives, yet still celebrate the individual who dares to speak with an honest need.

The stories are there now—alive—as we speak. What secret wonders are being revealed to youthful and eager eyes beyond our imagining?

Maria WebsterI’ve known Maria since the day she wandered into my dorm room and hung out, chatting sagely about what I could look forward to as a newbie student.  She’s still that insightful, hard-working, outspoken and charming woman from those days.  Only now she’s more powerful.

She’s had an album for a while. If you’re really lucky you have a copy of one of her bootleg cassettes from back in the day before the internets made music a telepathic experience.  Now she’s got a new song available, and I hear tell there’s more in the hopper to come.

So what is she about and what do you, her listener, do?  Maria sings about relationships using her voice and an acoustic guitar.  She explores intimate and personal experiences, confessing and declaring more to you the listener than she might be willing to admit to herself or those she knows.  You are the privileged stranger, witness to the satisfaction and frustration of her proud, vital, vulnerable self.

08-24-10 Update: A PDF of the complete novel has now been moved to the Gimmie Stuff page.

After three years of semi, self-directed nonlinear exploration, the current novel is ready to be shared.  I’m not abrogating any of my rights by posting this material.  I’m exercising them by making a creative statement in this fashion.

This is as good as I can make it given my present resources, circle of contacts, and skill level. I’ve striven to attain a level of readability that allows general standards of understanding, though I recognize and expect there will be gaps sharper and more experienced eyes will notice.

I dispute the position that if you’re not a published writer, not making a living at what you’re doing, and not up to the standards of professional markets then you’re a failure and what you’re doing is a complete waste of time.

Before you read, keep in mind that in my writing I have consciously chosen complexity over accessibility, introspection over immersion, and innovation/subversion over conventionality.

After starting with a PDF of the preface and first chapter, I’ll post a link to a chapter every few days.  After the whole thing is posted, a few days later I’ll post a PDF of the complete novel.  A link to that PDF will go in the Gimmie Stuff page.

This is the text for people who want a story.  For those who want an object, I plan to make a physical book available by way of POD as yet to be determined.  For the interested, there will likely be a limited special edition with a map, black and white illustrations, and a glossary.  I’m still working on those extras.  I’ll look into an ebook version too, what the hek! And if I can get my courage up I’ll make an audio file in addition, whee!  All stuff, all the time.

Diamond of Darkness is a young adult fantasy adventure, teenager coming-of-age story during a time of magical upheaval.  You get to hang out with Rordan the protagonist and know his thoughts while he struggles with his destiny.

As my friend Turtle would say, “Enjoy your meal!”

066_candleAs you once shined in my darkness with your goodness Molly, I shine in your darkness with my caring. My thoughts are prayers of light winging to you that you will find your way home.

With merry heart I pour libations upon the woken spring ground and down the hatch in your honor.  The inspired happiness of my innermost passion reflects a glow from the heavens no night may dim.

From the peak of my diamond island I flash a thunderous tumult for all to know that Molly Kleinman is my friend.  This humble candle brighter than any lighthouse I hold aloft and sing a song of returning to my lost friend.

Let her know peace!  Let her know home!  Let her know joy!  I ordain this under grace, thank you.

I haven’t finished formulating my disclaimer policy and category yet, so here’s a little aside.  There’s a random drawing associated with doing a review of the music I’m about to rap on.

I asked Solarbird to leave me out of the drawing.  I’m doing this review because she put out the request and I dig her style.  Freedom of expression is a big deal for me, and I want to be as honest and upfront as possible without any nagging thoughts of “a winnar is me” syndrome.

Free is a very good price for the personal touch of music, a novel or a picture of cats; but nothing is what I work for at times and this is one of those times.

Now, on with the show!

I’ve followed Solarbird from long distance sensor scans.  She’s intrigued me with her busking at outdoor markets and fairs in the Northwest.  There was a video of her performing which I thought was pretty good.  Hey, performing in front of crowds on the wind’s good humor is no mean task.

For a while now she’s been getting serious about sound and recording quality, doing a lot of preparatory work herself while working double time on her music.  Whoa, this could be a special treat.  I’ve been waiting like a coiled eel to strike when the yummy morsels are released for tasting.

062_crimeandtheforcesofevilSo, what do we have here?

I have to say that the name Crime and the Forces of Evil is a pretty powerful and awesome name.  The title of the CD, “Sketchy Characters” conjures images of bold-faced loonies and not-eating-with-both-hands oddballs of questionable habits.

The music is essentially four songs of a folk instrumentation with an elf singing vocals.  Not much crime or evil though, and only one sketchy character—but she’s enough!

The mere fact of vocals caught me off guard. The expectations I built up for myself were that this would be instrumental.  Shows you how pesky one’s preconceptions can be!

I dislike the vocals.  They totally kill the music for me.  The singer’s voice just doesn’t blend well with the instruments.  The sound drowns out the music and even the singer’s own lyrics.

In all honesty it might be my creative agenda talking here.  With a different sound or approach this singer could work for me.  She sounds detached from the rest of the ensemble and out of sorts with herself—which might be the point!  Maybe a Frank Zappa angle would work better.

I listened through again to pick up the lyrics and they held up—I like them. Maybe with a different approach they’d pack more punch.  See, my creative agenda is about extremes of emotion and atmospherics—I want to be thrilled and have an out of body experience.  Songs like “Artefacts (You’ll Never See)” and “When You Leave” could hit any number of nerves with the right delivery—the absurd, the bitter, or the heartfelt.

The last track, “Cascadia (How I Have Missed You)” is purely instrumental (whew!).  Without that annoying elf eating into my brain I could see what’s going on inside the meat and potatoes.  I enjoyed this one.  Reminded me of meaningful, passionate times.

Maybe it’s my own nostalgia for the Northwest (a deeply personal thing for me) as telegraphed by the title that is influencing me.  But on another level, instrumental pieces with a title allow for those who wish only to dream and experience their own inner strength.  I think this is the musicing direction Solarbird should explore.

In other words, what if crime and the forces of evil is about the supreme crime—daring to feel and inspire others to find their own introversions of discovery?

Solarbird has mentioned before in her website that confidence is her boogey.  Maybe; I’m unsure of that—It takes a crumb of confidence at least to stand up on stage, to release one’s work out for all of us to respond with our own lifeforce.  Rather, I sense that there’s a vein of dirty, angry, elemental energy waiting to be recognized to unlock a latent passion.

See, I understand self-doubt as it refers to Cascadia—wanting to belt loose and express how I feel yet not knowing fully in the back of my mind if I have a right to those feelings.  How to remove that blockage and respond with clarity how I have missed that place from the bottom of my pond.  No easy thing.

Is that cranky elf a guardian? A guide? A foe?  I’m looking at my sylvan friend and striving to hear her words more clearly.  Oh, if she were only less sketchy!  What if I the listener am of the aforementioned forces of evil and don’t deserve to enter the glades and hear the words?

Yet then there is the lone musical piece that says nothing and therefore need not say anything else.  An invitation? Surrender? A confession?  Hopefully the full-length album will offer a more complete picture. This four-piece set is still in The Dip.


Way back in the days of great doom there used to be this crazy cable station that played music videos all the time.  For those of us too poor to afford access to this fountain of culture, there were television shows with videos.  That is, when you didn’t have to pay cable companies for the privilege of television with commercials.

One such television show was Friday Night Videos. They showed many if not most of the popular videos, along with a handful of oddities.  Had a rockin’ intro too.  It was like a weekly ritual with my folks and me for a while.

Friday Night Videos disappeared. But it was okay because the crazy cable station moved down to the level of “standard fare” and I could see videos galore. It was a golden age of seeing what was happening in music for me.

Then a strange thing happened–the cable channel began mixing shows in with the videos. At first it was edgy programming like Beavis and Butthead and The Maxx. But slowly, those videos faded away until all that was on were fake reality programs and weird attempts at gameshows.  The videos disappeared.

Rumor had it they’d moved to a clone station somewhere.  They lost me.  See, this thing called the Internet had become the place to hang out and hear the latest.  I remember when I first heard of MP3—I thought it was crap and would never catch on (dial-up was still the rule then).

My folks got rid of their cable subscription.  The free channels are awesome, because they aren’t beholden to the big corporations (there’s no money in “only commercials TV”) and you can see things you don’t normally see anymore.  Local stuff.  Personal stuff. International stuff that isn’t whitewashed with Hollywood phony baloney culture.

I don’t miss the cable.  The other day, Comcast came through the neighborhood with a two-man team.  They sent one guy one day and the other guy the next day—my guess is to wear down resistance and get past first-impression blocks due to psychology incompatibilities.  They were hyper aggressive and refused to take no for an answer, trying to barge in and sign us up.

See, when I had Comcast their service was horrible and their product stunk.  I’ll never go to them again, even if it means no television.  All these tactics do is remind me how much I hate them and never want to hear from them again.  It also makes me laugh because if this is their new tactic—they are desperate for cash and just don’t get why.

The new economy is about consumers getting what they want, when they want it.  You can’t ram stuff down our throats anymore.  Unwanted, irrelevant, inconvenient come-ons and advertising gets NO PLAY with me.  And from the attitudes of these guys, and the look on their faces when I said I only watch Netflix or the Internet, I can tell I’m not alone.

K, the folks, and I sat down on Friday and watched a free television program come on.  Two hours of videos, from mainstream acts to obscure weirdoes and local artists.  It blew our minds how cool this stuff was.  Friday Night Videos is gone, but its spirit is back and better than ever.  We sat down as a family and watched with an excitement we haven’t felt in years.

Rock on UFO Girl, rock on.

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