lost time incident 46 – kick a wolf in the FACE


lost time incident 46
This week, we’ve got less reading than normal! Finally, I can hear you saying, a break from the burden of literacy. Well, not so fast. I mean… there’s still reading involved. Just… less.

It hasn’t been much of a writing weekend for me. Yesterday, I put together a new Signal mix, for those of you interested in global music, curated by yours truly, that lasts exactly 45 minutes long.

This morning, while going through old image files for the header of this very newsletter, I came across some old comic panels and decided my time would be well spent going over how to convert image files into animated GIFs again.

So that’s what you get this week instead of the usual nonsense.

Also, there’s some of the usual nonsense.


nonsense from twitter

This last week, I’ve been reading through a collection of short stories called 18 Wheels of Horror: A Trailer Full of Trucking Terrors. Yes indeed, decades after America’s brief, brief, brief interest in trucking stories, we have a chance to see what would happen if Smokey and/or The Bandit were to encounter ghosts, or be unaware that they’re crazy killers, or get hired to use their refrigerator car to transport a mind-reading alien that absorbs DNA.

This is why readers of last week’s LOST TIME INCIDENT got to read about what would happen if a truck became a vampire.

It’s also the genesis for the tweet above.

Seriously. You’ve already been murdered while hitchhiking. Now all of a sudden you’re expected to keep hitchhiking even after death? Just to freak out people on the anniversary of your death? What do you get out of it?

Too many ghost stories break down when you consider they’re from the perspective of the frightened. Entirely too much of the horror genre features antagonists with no motivation beyond “be something to be scared of.”

And don’t get me started about the shortcoming of the trucking genre. Yeesh.
moving pictures
I must not be much in the mood to write this weekend, because I’ve constructed animated GIFs from old comic strip panels I’ve got on the computer.

Here’s one from a comic Amanda drew years back:


And one of my own comics, also years old, alchemically improved via animation:



Not all of our old comics cry out for animation. This one of mine is fine pasted into a 4-panel square:



for them what’ve got ears to hear
The weather was surprisingly nice yesterday. I got some leg-stretching in, wandering the neighborhood, visiting a local taco truck for lunch and reading Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction as counter-programming against what’s in the news. I’m finding comfort thinking about how humanity once survived a bottleneck event that reduced our numbers to maybe 10,000 humans worldwide.

I also visited my favorite local record shop, Down Home Music, to look through racks of jazz, blues, country, Americana, Cajun, border music, etc. as typified by the tastes of owner Chris Strachwitz, whose Arhoolie record label is run out of the same building. As physical media becomes less enticing to consumers, it seems like the prices are going up for those old-timers still willing to pick up discs for their at-home laser-machine-players.

But I found some relatively affordable options searching through Blue Note releases for albums that were part of the Rudy Van Gelder collection. Van Gelder was a hugely influential recording engineer and he put out a run of remastered/reissued albums of classic mid-last-century jazz. (I just did some reading and found some jazz heads complaining about his remastering, but honestly, I have nothing to compare them to, and I just seek out Van Gelder’s name as a sign of an album I’m probably really going to like.)

Which is a long way to go just to say that the album I’ve been listening to while working on this is Art Blakey’s “Free For All” and you can listen along.


ending theme song
Since we just linked to Art Blakey, I feel like “ending theme song” duties are taken care of, so I’m going to sign off early and leave you to it.

—Michael Van Vleet

The Signal: EP130


The Signal: EP130 – Mesmerizing sounds from beyond the stars. You know. In the sense that we’re all from beyond the stars, made of star stuff, Big Bang-kinda business. We base all of our hyperbole on science around here. It’s 45 minutes of music from around the world, available for download for a limited time only.

This time out, we’ve got global bass/trap from Chicago, grime from the UK, religious music from Ghana, afrobeat from Nigeria, ska from Spain, retrosynth, vaporwave, rock tinged with depression, and a guided meditation. What more could you want?

As with all of our previous mixes, the track list is embedded in the file itself, in its id3 tags, so you can look up the original artists. Alternately, if you want the best experience, you should sign up to join The Tuned In. Members of that mailing list are the first people on the planet to know there’s a new mix. Plus, they get the playlist, a permanent archive link, and secret behind-the-scenes knowledge.

lost time incident 45 – gol’dang vampeers


lost time incident 45
Spent a long weekend doing very little. There was a tiny part of me that thought that I should undertake the next big writing project with all this free time, but it lost out to the part of me that said “What’s the absolute least amount of anything I can do on the day after Thanksgiving?” Answer: It’s very little. Very little. Today may follow the same pattern, besides putting this thing together.


Making the rounds on Twitter this week is a website that allows you to name two Twitter accounts, and it’ll then look for structural similarities in tweets and try to mash them together. Most times, the grammar is broken or the result is nonsense, but sometimes it works. Which is how I got to stand (briefly) on the same ground as America’s greatest oddball erotica writer, Chuck Tingle.


Or reclusive and missing-from-Twitter weirdo @utilitylimb:


I still write original tweets, though. It’s not all Dr. Moreau-style grafting around here (he writes while his monstrous tweets drag him onto a funeral pyre).



a list of things that could be martial arts moves or a weird description of a circus disaster
Flaming Breath Tornado
Elephants Smash the Peanut
Three Ring Circus Fire Flower
10 Clowns Punch
No Refunds Monk’s Palm


18 wheels of terror
Terry “The 19th Wheel” Wheeler steered his 18-wheeler truck down the great American highway, Miles Davis playing on his 8-track player. “It’s the notes he doesn’t play,” he said to himself, echoing something he had heard somewhere about why Miles Davis was important.

But what he didn’t realize was that at the last truck stop he visited, while he was inside using the showers and buying a new tire thumper, plus stocking up on jerky, his truck had been visited and seduced by a LOT VAMPIRE!

These supernatural denizens of the highways and byways, the asphalt rivers that flow hither and yon in this great nation, were once men and women like you and me. Well… like you.

They had jobs, they had families. But one day, something happened to them. Something… evil.

I couldn’t tell you what it was. They don’t like to talk about it. Secretive types, these lot vampires. Someone should do a study.

But once that evil thing happens to them… hoo boy. There you go. You got lot vampires. They haunt parking lots at truck stops and, when no one is looking, they use their hypnotic gazes to approach the average 18 wheeler and lure it to its doom. Then the lot vampires bite ’em. Right on the bumper.

It’s gotta taste gross. But that’s evil for ya. Evil don’t give a DAMN about being gross.

And one of these lot vampires had bit Terry’s truck. Now he’s inside this truck, and doesn’t even know it’s going evil. UNTIL NOW!

The Miles Davis 8-track warbled a bit and was then replaced with a spooky voice! It said “Terry! This is your truck speaking! I am now… a truck vampire!”

“Dang!” said Terry. “Double dang!” Every trucker knows the dangers of truck vampires.

  1. Truck vampires don’t like crossing running water, which limits your delivery options.
  2. You can’t deliver garlic for independent farmers anymore.
  3. Truck vampires run on blood, not gasoline.

“Are you sure you’re a dang vampire?” asked Terry.

“Yup,” said the voice from the 8-track. “Gimme blood.”

“I guess there’s just one thing to do,” said Terry.

If you think that Terry drives to the hospital to get enough donated blood that he can complete his current delivery, then will drive to a church and get a priest can exorcise the vampirism (because Terry confuses possession with vampirism, like, all the time), turn to page 17.

If you think that Terry is the sort of guy who would rig up a jagged people-murdering scoop on the front of his rig, and set up a series of tubes and hoses to feed the blood from run-over pedestrians directly into the fuel tank, the end result being a blood-soaked cross country murder tour, turn to page 28.


ending theme song
Doot do doo do doot-doot. Zap ah dah dap dee-deet. We made it, we made it. Let me know which page you turned to. The power is in your hands.

—Michael Van Vleet

lost time incident 44 – hoohee hee huh hoo hee ha


lost time incident 44
This is a celebratory week. I’ve managed to publish something for the first time since the release of THE SPIRIT LEFT ME, which was over 2 years ago now. (Yeesh.) Some of the credit has to go to this “lost time incident” project. It’s got me setting aside weekend time for creative pursuits that had previously been going to idle entertainment.

There’s hours and hours of time left in FALLOUT 4, waiting for me to finish saving the radioactive wasteland from… uh… someone. Now that I haven’t played for a while, the plot’s slipping away. Good rule of thumb, though, is anyone shooting at me is an enemy. Don’t worry about my wasteland persona. She’ll be fine, whenever I get back to her.

The election has left a stick in my spokes, though, creatively speaking. My Twitter account has just been political retweets. The shift to self-promotion is a welcome change of pace.


a shift to self-promotion
I wrote a short work of fiction for Horrible Vacuum Industries and it just came out this week. Horrible Vacuum, as publishers, are dedicated to putting out “word-movies.” It’s an invented term that essentially means fiction with a catchy high concept, a pun-based title (ideally), and then written with an amateurish charm. Characters have stupid names, the writing is clunky, metaphors collapse under their own weight and conversations go nowhere. It’s as close to a b-movie as you can get in text form.

Honestly, I wanted to work with them just to see them design a cover for me, because all their ebooks have covers designed to look like VHS movie covers, complete with genre names in a tiny circle. All works are released under a pseudonym as well, should their authors ever need to distance ourselves from our dumb stories.

On the off chance you somehow missed it on social media, my ebook is called SWAP MEAT, written as George G.G. George. For only 99 cents, you can read one of the oddest things I’ve ever written. It’s about a small town swap meet that serves as a cover for some murderous cannibals.

(Those are worst kind of cannibals. The kind that don’t murder, but still eat human flesh, are a distant second. Cannibals who’ve never actually eaten another person, but think about it a lot, are an even more distant third place.)

Anyway, if you’ve enjoyed the nonsense you’ve seen as subscribers to this newsletter, you should dig it.


Jaffid the pilgrim kicked a rock into the middle of his barren field. “Aw, nuts. The Devil has cursed this rotten land. Nothing I’ve planted grows here. Not vetches, or rape. Not a sugar tree where I buried that Hallow’s Eve candy that I had told my children was taken by witches. Not a grove of sturdy young worker trees grown from where I buried my sugar-mad children, which in turn lead me to tell the remaining children that their siblings had been taken by witches. It’s eighteen kinds of awful. I wish I had never sought religious freedom.”

“Hey, what up,” shouted Tisquantum. “I couldn’t help but overhear that you were regretting ever coming here. Cool, cool, cool. You need help packing?”

“Please don’t talk to me,” said Jaffid. “I know that all you’re here to do is to slip the Devil’s words into my ears under the guise of friendship.”

“We’re not friends,” said Tisquantum. He squinted at the sinking sun. “Hey, uh… shouldn’t you have a harvest by now? Me and my boys have a harvest festival planned, so I came all the way over here to tell you how much better it’s gonna be than whatever you have planned.”

Jaffid sighed. “We don’t have a festival planned. Right now my plans are to either starve to death after snow starts falling, or go back to England.”

“Huh,” said Tisquantum. “I thought they hated you there.”

“They do. But there’s food.”

“Yeah. Hey, you keep mentioning this Devil who you say has a lot of power. Have you considered asking the Devil for help?”

Jaffid’s eyes narrowed. “Did he put you up to this? To asking? ARE YOU ONE OF HIS MINIONS?”

“Totally. You got it, good job. So hey, if you’re not doing anything, about mid-day tomorrow? Wanna stop by? We’re having corn cakes and stuff. Big feast. Bring the wife and unburied children. I’ll even tell you about farming. Why not.”

Jaffid took off his ridiculous buckled hat. “That sounds nice. Maybe we’ll be there.”

In an explosion of brimstone, the Devil appeared between the two men. “Hey, guys. I heard that there was no planned way to end this bit, so … uh… Happy Thanksgiving? The end? We’re done. Go read the next bit. Okay, thanks, I’ve been the Devil and you’ve been great.”


ending theme song
Well, well, well. A little glimpse into actual American history there. Like a window through time.

Can you believe there’s been 44 weeks of this goofery and nonsensification?

—Michael Van Vleet


lost time incident 43 – kissing the metal mask

lost time incident 43

The numbness and shock haven’t exactly worn off yet, but in between thinking about all the skills I lack to survive a proper end-of-empire tumble, I’ve been finding time to think about plenty of stuff. Like what Kurt Vonnegut said in an interview about the effect of artists against Vietnam:

“When it became obvious what a dumb and cruel and spiritually and financially and militarily ruinous mistake our war in Vietnam was, every artist worth a damn in this country, every serious writer, painter, stand-up comedian, musician, actor and actress, you name it, came out against the thing. We formed what might be described as a laser beam of protest, with everybody aimed in the same direction, focused and intense. This weapon proved to have the power of a banana-cream pie three feet in diameter when dropped from a stepladder five-feet high.”

A lot of experts and artists are feeling like dropped pie at the moment.


normally twitter nonsense goes here
On the day of the election, I was positive things were going to be great. I was relaxed. Whistling. Amusing myself by tweeting voting updates from a fantasy setting.

I don’t really want to revisit them at the moment.


some jokes
Q: Why do elephants paint their toenails red?
A: Within 100 years, climate instability could lead to open conflict over access to fresh water.

Q: Have you ever seen an elephant in a cherry tree?
A: Actual racists and fascists are about to take power and if anything, not enough alarm bells are going off.

Q: Why do elephants have baggy knees?
A: We’re in the middle of an enormous mass extinction.

Q: Why do alligators never hang out under cherry trees?
A: Because the elephants kept landing on them. Squashed ’em flat. They used to be much taller, as a species.


ending theme song
Maybe I should have taken this week off.

About the best I managed was I made a music mix. So you can check that out immediately after deleting this email.

—Michael Van Vleet