Saturday, September 29, 2007

Annual Worst Colored Helmet Awards

Big day here. I just received the Annual Worst Colored Helmet Award. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Acceptance speech included below.

OMG!!! OMG!!! I can't thank The Hammer or the judges enough for this prestigious award. OMG.

(pause for tears and nose blowing)

I want you all to know that The ECOVLGQTIFIMBY will never end up in my garage. It will always be under the auspices of Maneki Neko and sit proudly on my window sill next to the now petrified chip from a flying saucer radiator that I found in the desert.

But actually I cannot accept this award for myself alone. I stand here tonight on behalf of all those brave souls who risk scorn and ridicule to wear their hideously colored helmets in public. Furthermore they do this in spite of helmet laws that many of us feel are an invasion of the rights of idiots everywhere to willy-nilly smash their brains on highways and byways and die free or live on as vegetables at the expense of the hearts and pock books of family and state. And we fervently hope that our example serves as a reminder to spectral bikers everywhere to wear your helmet dammit, and stop playing chicken with LARGE MARGE!

Ps. After reading eccentric recluse's comment that the The ECOVLGQTIFIMBY may be more than an Enormous Chunk Of Very Low Grade Quartz, I want to publicly remind you Hammer that that rock is mine!

Day in the life.00

It's only been one day but I don't know how much longer I can stand seeing M. Corbeau endure the insults of nature. Yes, he would grow hoary and wonderful after years of frost and snow and layers of poop, muddy prints and scratches from the hand snatchers (Maniraptora) but this morning he was covered with a thin layer of frost and even that was almost too much for me. I know it violates some obscure poetic principal that is compromised even by mention but before winter sets in he may have to join me on this side of the glass.

Charlie the Crow is also here this morning, cawing his signature 4 caws - pause - 4 caws - pause - 4 caws - pause ... on and on. Even I have gone out on occasion and asked him to put a sock in it. I don't know what's with that guy, must one of those loud mouth, first to arrive, last to leave reporters.

In other Bird Park news, the graying magpie with the scars under her jaw is also out there enjoying a Sunday brunch. She's a loner and smart, comes early then makes a second swoop mid-morning and doesn't panic when I toss out seconds on the peanut chips but instead flies to the roof of a nearby house and waits for to me to go away.

Quiz of the day: What do Swatch, Rebecca Taylor, Nicole Miller and Burton Snowboards have in common? Answer here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Quail groupies

It's afternoon and the moon is 93% full and visible in its waning Gibbous phase over Africa, Paris, the Atlantic and all that, no place I can see, although I did rise early enough this morning to see it shining in through two small windows in the front part of the house and onto the row of cactus's by the door in pots which, I feel certain, made them very happy because plants love moonlight, and a party of quail just now came streaming through the Bird Park on their way to check out the finch spillage on the ground under the seed tube. This is not unusual. They visit the park several times a day for goodies, ending with one final swoop at twilight after everyone else is tucked in for the night, head under wing.

What is unusual, at least around here, is that finches, lots of them, have taken to hanging out with the quail, following them around the yard imitating everything they do. They sit on the fence with them and, when it's time for the quail dirt bath party, the finches are right there wallowing along side them in the soft warm dirt, something I never noticed them do on their own, not that they don't take dirt baths elsewhere. They probably do. I've just never seen them take one here. And they crowd into the butterfly bush when the quail are there doing whatever it is they do, nibble bugs maybe, tasty spiders or ants. They graze the weeds with them, and they bathe in the baths and drink together and, in the writing of this rather pointless post, the whole lot, quail and finches, have scooted off, probably back to Dwayne's for dinner. The only thing the finches don't do with them is the twilight snack. And the quail don't seem to mind the company. I did a quick search and found out that there is actually is an African Quail Finch. I have to say, they do look a bit alike, cousins maybe, same colored feathers anyway. You know what they say about feathers.

That's it. I just needed to write something.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bill and M. Corbeau

Meet M. Corbeau. He just took up residence in the Bird Park this afternoon and startled the hell out of me every time I notice him today. Also I think he freaked out a lot of birds. Generally the last visitors to the park are the quail. They drop by in the evening to clean up the day's finch spillage but tonight only one made an appearance and, on seeing M. Corbeau, beat it. I went out just after that and took this photo. I wanted to see what M. looks like from a bird's point of view. I say ... scary.

It was twilight which is atmospheric in itself but of course to my delight, M. Corbeau is decidedly Edgar Allen Poeish on his own plus he is a gift from my daughter and her husband which even increases his panache. M. Corbeau is here to stay. The birds will have to get used to him. In fact, I fully expect to see one sitting on his head before long, or perhaps leaping up and down challenging him to a fight.

And in case you missed this, Bill Clinton had some very precise harsh words for the Republicrites who censured MoveOn this week for that General Betrayus ad, plus a nod to the few who refused to play their dirty little game. If you haven't already, have a listen. This guy is a born storyteller. I'd love to hear him cut loose at a rip roaring bullshit session.

Oh that's right. He's a politician. It's always a rip roaring bullshit session but you know what I mean.

Bill Clinton:
MoveOn ad condemnation classic bait and switch


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pics of the day

Curious about what's going on elsewhere?

Here's yesterday's selection of photos from //STATic.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Front fell off

Check out this interview of an *Australian Senator discussing an oil spill. Hilarious. If you haven't seen it, you are in for a treat.

The front fell off


* Just did a little more checking. More on the Australian Senator and his interviewer here.

And the winner is....


In case the question is keeping you awake at night, here's an update on who won the $100,000 cash award in ReZoom's summer A Better World contest. Remember? You were supposed to vote for the Elephant Sanctuary. Well, ReZoom is just now grinding its way to announcing the Big Winner. So you don't feel bad, all the contestants have already received $5000 just for being good guys but the Elephant Sanctuary is one of the top two final contestants along with the Wounded Warrior Project. Damn. Didn't pay much attention to the list before. No other group could override my loyalty to the elephants. Of course the Sanctuary depends on piddly donations from people like me who send a couple of bucks every now but my own son was recently discharged from active duty. And veterans with limbs blow off, shattered hearts and minds? Well, the contest is closed. Thanks for voting, if you did. Which ever way the gavel falls, my heart will be with it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bonobo see, Bonobo do

These Bonobo apes are pretty amazing. If you got a few extra minutes this documentary on Susan Savage-Rumbaugh's work with primates is definitely worth a watch.

Orangie helmet and roving eye

Roy requested documentation that my helmet is, in fact, the Ugliest Colored Helmet in the World. Now you see. I exaggerate not. It is a good helmet but just a I described, a horrible "overly orangie shade of deep turmeric".

And as this post is filed under Local News, I'm including a couple of photos of things that recently caught my eye during my adventures around town.

Mother and son enjoying a shopping break goodie .

Sad Jane Doe.
I'd hate for my head to end up in a load of junk bound for the dump
but actually, that is what happened at one point in my life.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Parallel world

I'm melancholy tonight so I came here to sit under the palm fronds and tangled wisteria vines embracing the cafe terrace just off the boulevard. I am barely visible to others but from here I can see the street and the beach and the stars and for the moment I have found a measure of peace among the nuanced conversations wisping in the breeze.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Titles and nonsuch

Roy got me to thinking about titles with his post Cement Blocks and now I feel compelled to confess my scandalous past with them (titles not cement blocks) and therefore waste what began as a lovely Saturday morning full of promise. Thanks a lot Roy. They say confession is good for the soul but fail to add that it can be a little hard on the reputation, in this case the legend that I am in my own slavering and slavish mind. I'm going to make this as brief and painless as possible. Just the facts, mam.

In the days when I labored over a typewriter and burned through bottles and bottles of whiteout to come up with the ever illusive Perfect Copy, SkyRiver was a letterpress operation and I would sit amidst the half ton of antique machines and dream up titles for the books I was going publish on them, by setting my poems one backward, upside-down letter at a time. Actually I hated typesetting. The task made me very nervous and therefore the prospect of setting a page required a lot of alcohol to ready myself for the ordeal. As I prepared to begin, I enjoyed a delicious reverie over how I would slab thick black ink over the old black rollers and indent wonderful thick paper with my words. Unfortunately, by the time I felt ready to charge, I was often too drunk to focus. After a few years of that, my then partner and I split and sold the presses. I had only managed to print a few pages with a couple more set and ready to go that never got inked. But, I'm great with titles.

At the same time I had an acquaintance by the name of Cosmo who read at the same open mikes I did. He liked my writing and one night leaned over and muttered that he had recommended my name to some Who's Who list that he was on. I, of course, thought that was appropriate and showed my approval by a quick nod and mumbled something like Cool. Thanks. A few months later I got an invitation from a publisher in the UK. I was to submit my bio and list of published works for inclusion in two separate upcoming editions of Who's Who, I think one for poetry and the other women writers. I can't remember clearly.

And I don't remember who the publisher was. They were in Cambridge and their presentation was nice but I figured that if they were willing to include me sight unseen, it must have been a scam; one of those offers where they put your name in their big expensive book and then sell it to you so that you can leave the garish, gilded volume laying casually on your coffee table so your friends will notice it. I filled out the forms anyway and I'm sure you have already guessed my dilemma. Should I be a literalist and include only the things that have already made it into print (at that time individual poems mostly published in the local alt newspaper) or include titles of upcoming books I was planning to publish on my letterpress? I did wrestle with the question for at least minutes and then decided that, after all, I need to demonstrate faith in myself and so hurriedly jotted down the future titles and dashed the letter to the box before I could change my mind. So titles I've got.

To date in ... um .... reality? ... I do finally have a (draft) edition of a chapbook titled After Hours. I printed it years after SkyRiver Press died and resurrected as a digital entity but those old titles for the Who's Whos are a wash. I listed several but only remember one, Watch Fire, and cringe as I write it. Obviously, I was not on the moral high ground at the time but what the heck? That is proven slippery ground for mortals such as I.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ah...somebody worse than me

Unless you are a regular reader here, you might not be aware of just how much I agonize over the irritation my Bird Park causes Mr. Lee. I feel bad. I really do. It's too much for this kind of neighborhood. We should move to a funky place in the country. I even feel bad for my fussy neighbor when he runs the birds off so recently I cut the seed back by 2/3s to reduce the visitors I get in a day. So far, I just can't bring myself to stop feeding them altogether. I would be very lonely without them hopping around looking for goodies, feeding their squawking babies, taking cold tubs, dirt baths, singing. Even the little skirmishes that break out are entertaining because nobody really gets hurt. Now Mr. Lee has stopped bitching so much and I haven't seen old Dick out there shooing everybody away so, for the moment, we are back in a groove.

I don't want to sound like a bad neighbor but I'm not too worried about Dick anyway. He lost the moral high ground while we were gone by doing his own bad neighbor thing. He nailed an ugly towering pole to his side of the fence and it is directly and exactly across from my office window. It has to stand at least 12 feet above the fence. Tacky. This is not the first time Dick has infringed on the fence line in our boxed in, back to back little piece of burb heaven. A few years ago the people over his back fence demanded he take down the row of corny brilliantly colored faux birdhouses that he builds in his garage for god knows who. They are the kind of thing you might consider cooling a friendship down over just to avoid getting one as a Christmas present and certainly no self-respecting bird would ever consider living in one.

At first I thought the stick was some kind of rattle that he could shake from his back porch and scare all the birds out of my yard whenever he felt like it but now I don't think so. I suspect it's just part of his ham radio operation. Okay. Fine. He used to use a frequency that broadcast over our computer speakers. At random hours of the day and night we'd startle to a crackly "This is Lazy Dog in Northern Nevada, Northern Nevada" ... (always very drawn out on the Northern) ... over and over again blindly groping the airwaves for someone to talk at. The guy is an incessant talker. Even his own wife avoids him. That was annoying. I wish he were the deaf one then he wouldn't notice the birds so much but the deaf neighbor lives on the other side of us.

Anyway, I just learned today there is at least one person in the world who, when it comes to feeding wildlife, is more incorrigible than me; the wife of a friend of ours who recently turned her backyard into a Bear Park.

He always complained about how crazy she was and how hard he worked to contain her obsession with feeding everything that walks, crawls, or flies within a half mile of their place. That's why it was a bit surprising when he told us that she told him that the local rangers told her to put nuts and berries squirted with fish oil out for the bears and he is going along with it. Now bears are cavorting around their backyard all day long, lounging and napping and waiting for the next meal and, of course, more and more bears are showing up all the time. I sympathize because it's been a bad year for the bears, not enough berries, and they are starving and getting killed by cars as they wander further and further down the Sierra in search of food ... although a friend of mine who works for the Nevada Highway Division assures me that, in general, the garbage bears are doing well because people don't bother to get bear-proof garbage cans like they are supposed to ... but this ... the Bear Park ... this cannot end well.

Blumenthal on Bush's decadent perversity

Sidney Blumenthal's article on Pres. Bush's decline into decadent perversity (I suppose from sheer madness and hubris) casts interesting dramatic footlights on the players, Bushie, Big Daddy Bushie, Rummy, Cheney, Prince Bandar etc. and made me lament that Shakespeare isn't around to write a play about them. Although Bushie himself plays The Fool, the chemistry of the overall angst and internal conflict and what is at stake for us all is the stuff nightmares and great theatre. In lieu of such a delicious treatment, you'll have to let your own imagination do the work. Bush's stairway to paradise.

Further on down the road

Here are a few more photos from our recent camp trip. For awhile we were on the Extraterrestrial Highway and I insisted we stop at the Little A'le'in in Rachel, Nevada. It's pure alien kitsch and yes I'm a sucker. I bought a carnival grade Fischer space pen; you know the ones developed for astronauts so they could write in zero gravity. I've had two other better ones but what the heck? Good to keep by the bed. When a midnight inspiration strikes it won't stop working if you jot it down while laying on your back.

We had a long way to go before camp the first night but a few miles down the road we made another stop, this time so I could (again) photograph the world famous Black Mailbox (recently replaced by a bulletproof White Mailbox). Medlin has the distinction of living off of Groom Road which is the way into Groom Lake and Area 51. Lee tolerates my obsession and I his lack of, oh shall we say, enlightenment. Poor fellow. It's not his fault. He's never seen a UFO. Notice that Medlin included a collection slot with his new box. Smart. People from all over the world visit it.

Taken through the jeep's dirty windshield.

Lee wanted to hike in the next drainage over from
this very lazy wild fire but, chicken that I am, I refused.

Defunct apartment building in Caliente. Since I
was a kid I have been fascinated with abandoned buildings

and, when I discovered them, abandoned charcoal kilns.

View of all three kilns and an abandoned windmill
from inside an abandoned stone house.

I am also fascinated by prickly pears,

I think they are amazingly lovely,

petroglyphs in tuff,

and desert rigs.

Still life in the desert.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tonopah time out of time

Update: Sal at Views from the Hill has a brilliant idea for the Mizpah, (find someone to) buy it and turn it into a writers' collective/retreat (parentheses mine). Thanks Sal. Lovely plan. She kindly provided the link to the Realtor's PDF pitch on the place. $1.5m. A steal! Most places in the country, $1.5m will only get you a cheesy McMansion.

Sounds perfect for a writers' retreat, doesn't it? Out in the middle of nowhere, halfway between Las Vegas and Reno. Two bars. (for those convivial evenings) Two restaurants. (soze you don't have to go far to find eats). No gaming license. (fewer distractions for you) Gutted and rebuilt in 1976.

56 rooms, including 6 parlor suites, all with private baths and thermostatically controlled heating and air conditioning. Fine Brussels carpeting was laid throughout, new stained glass windows were hand-crafted for the first floor and the finest of wall paper was hung on all of the walls. The exterior was given a face lift and park benches and iron lighting fixtures installed along the sidewalk. The old bowling alley and other buildings were also incorporated into the expansion.

On the National Registry of Historic Places. Resident ghosts! Wyatt Earp tended bar here! Dempsey worked as a bouncer!

Only in Nevada,
babeeee! As our new state motto says, WIDE OPEN.

Here are a few photos from our recent camp trip. Tonight, Tonopah, yes again if you're keeping track. The town prefers being known as the Home of the Stealth or #1 Stargazing Destination in America.

I like the ruins.

Half the town, including Main St. is boarded up. The Mizpah hotel/casino, the grand old relic from Tonopah's glory days, has been closed and on the market for years.

Shop on Burro Avenue, behind Main.

I found the polaroid of this man in one of the dirt and stone shanties on Burro and have been watching its disintegration ever since. This trip it was outside on the ground but for all the years, weather and neglect he still stares proudly and stubbornly back at the world.

The watch was up here, two tiers above where I found the photo this time.

I slid the photo between a couple of stones in the front wall. The watch I left out, a proper resting place for each.

The whole town is built on tailings.

Miner's burrow on Burro Avenue. Home sweet home.

Another window on Burro.

Main St. from Burro Ave.

Tonopah night life.

I finally got around to peeking into the Mizpah. A few lights are always on at night. The hotel is for sale and I'm guessing that the owners don't want the place to look like a tomb. I wish someone would restore it. I would love to stay there for a while. It's a wreck but I'm a romantic. The town is quiet and even in autumn Tonopah's nights are warm.