All posts by M Van Vleet

Tarot Reading

(tarot reading)

The medium flips a card. I lean over to read the label: THE FLIPPING CARD.

The card features a tiny illustration of a medium flipping a card and a tiny illustrated me reading the label.

“Is that good?”

The medium shrugs. “It’s accurate.”

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Familiar

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Familiar:

  1. Is it familiar? Don’t pick animals you don’t know or your mind can’t recognize b/c of an other-dimensional origin.
  2. Does it match your aesthetic? Or can you afford a wardrobe change? (e.g. a crow likes shiny… is your hair already threaded with reflective bits and bobs?)
  3. Price range: A small budget shouldn’t be an obstacle. Bugs and slugs are plentiful and free.
  4. Does it like magic stuff? A familiar that yawns a lot is distracting.

Friday Treats

It’s Friday and you know what that means! It’s time to put on your boots and head out into the deep swamp to leave treats for the Bog Witch! Seven more days of pleasant damp dreams for all of us! Seven more days of crocodile thoughts and slow mangrove vibrations! Hooray for the Bog Witch! Treats for the Bog Witch!

Blame the Goat

It’s Friday and you know what that means!

It’s time to shift all of the blame for the terrible things we’ve done to a goat. And then we have to parade the goat through the whole village and let the goat apologize to everyone.

The the goat is crowned and rules the village for the entire weekend. Hail Queen Goat! How you have suffered for us! Our souls are clean and you are damned to rule!

lost time incident 56 – say nothing about those voices

lost time incident 56
Ladies and germs, welcome, welcome. The world hasn’t ended yet, so here’s something else to read while we wait. It’s a gorgeous day. I’ve seen it. I was out there. I tossed a peanut to a crow who stared down at me from a power line, seemingly unaware of what its role in this transaction was supposed to be.

You’re supposed to eat the peanut, dummy.

And those words of wisdom are broadly applicable, so I hope you take them to heart, all of you. Wherever you are today: Eat that peanut, dummy.

Can you believe this newsletter is free? With advice like that? Dang. My hand reflexively opened a tab to Paypal to send myself all my money.

Anyway.
 

time keeps on slippin’

When I wrote this tweet, I was thinking about the fact that I had a paper route as a teenager. I can remember that I had these tiny envelopes, one for every customer on the route from whom I was supposed to collect subscription funds directly. Some would write checks, some would pay in cash. For some of them, I’d leave the envelope and they’d leave it for pick-up on their mailbox.

But for the life of me, I can’t remember what I did with those checks.

The cash, over time, made its way into my pocket to form my meager salary.

The checks, though… they must have needed to be routed to an adult on a regular basis, but I have no idea how I did that. I don’t remember dropping them anywhere… leaving them for pick-up somewhere… mailing them… nothing.

A friend on Facebook wrote up an autobiographical post based on some passed-around set of questions about one’s high school years. One question was: It’s Friday night… where would you be and what would you be doing?

I have no idea.

That young man, the teenage Michael… so much of him is gone. Irrecoverable. And that’s fine.

When I wake up in the middle of the night and am ambushed by the horror that at some future date, I will die, I try to remember that the toddler me, the school-aged me, the teenager me… in some sense, they’ve already passed on, and it didn’t trouble them much.

What am I, the current me, but one more collection of memories, not-yet-forgotten.

I have a cat who has decided to rest on the arms that are typing these words. His head jounces a bit when I hit the spacebar. His tail keeps hitting me in the face in perhaps a subtle protest.

This is nice.

I hope I remember this.

 

vroom vroom

Today, out of the blue, my mom sent me a photo of my father and I on the back of his motorcycle in San Jose, CA. Guessing based on my size, I must have been 2 or 3. It’s probably 1978 or ’79, somewhere in there. I do remember riding on that motorcycle with my dad. Once. Maybe this photo wasn’t just posed. Maybe this was it.

My dad fired up the engine and the motorcycle made an astonishing amount of noise… noise I could feel in my chest. He steered us down the block at a running pace, and turned onto the big road that had all the traffic. The road that I wouldn’t initially be allowed to ride my own pedal bike along during the early years of my self-propelled-on-wheels period. I had to have some experience under my belt before I graduated to being allowed to circle the entire block, attempting little front wheel hops on the shallow inclines of suburban driveways.

After we turned onto the big road, Aborn Road, it didn’t take long for the bike to get up to speed, roaring, the wind blowing on us, and all I remember is fear. I felt dangerously exposed on the bike, among so many cars, at a speed that would certainly hurt if we crashed. Just… gut deep fear that if I even blinked, I’d go flying off the bike and under the tires of a car.

You can see my tiny hands on the body of the bike. There was nothing to white-knuckle grip as the fear hit me.

We only went up and down the road once before slowing down and gliding back home. I think he expected me to be thrilled. I was not. Did I cry as I got set back on the ground, after we safely glided home? I don’t know.

The experience was never repeated. Maybe I refused future offers. I have no memory of it.

My preference, even at that age, was to spend a nice day like the one on the photo lolling about on my parent’s water bed, surrounded by picture books from the library, working my way through most of them the day I got them.

So now you know, in case you were wondering, why my adulthood did not include an ascension into the ranks of some Sons of Anarchy collective.

Not yet, anyway.

 

 

ending theme song
Thanks for reading for another week, or at least thanks for not going out of your way to reply and tell me you delete these things without reading. This was a good warm-up. Now I gotta get back to my current book project, now that these fingers have been limbered up and the cat stretched across my arms seems pretty settled. Don’t forget to shoot for the stars! Even if you miss, the stars will get the message! Watch your step, stars! We haven’t forgotten! We haven’t forgotten a THING!

Blending In

“I have also heard that one of us may be an alien, friend. Do you suppose it might be Carl? Note how he tugs his skeleton around with paired muscle sets. It’s weird, right?”

“Look, if one of us is an alien, then we all need to be tested. So let’s just line up in order by saliva color and we’ll get this figured out!”

“I can’t believe Carl wasn’t an alien. I thought for sure that an alien would definitely say ‘You guys don’t seriously think it’s me, do you? It’s obviously THAT GUY! Did you not just hear what he said about my skeleton?’ Just like Carl said. That just sounds so much like what an alien would say. Oh well.”

“I know we’re all under a lot of stress, but am I the only one a little concerned that if we burn every body we come across, that we’re kinda wasting nutrients?”

“I agree. We should ask each other questions that only humans will know the answers to. I will give my answers now: A sporting team. Kissing. You don’t bury the survivors. A different sporting team. The name of the President. Okay, now you go.”

lost time incident 55 – [unknown artists]

lost time incident 55
Yesterday, our landlord stopped by to fix some plumbing issues in the bedroom, so the majority of my day was spent adjusting id3 tags on my music collection and arranging for digital back-ups of the updated files. It was an easy thing to do while I sat around waiting, hearing the occasional tapping noises coming from the bathroom.

I was making the hard decisions, folks.

For example: [unknown artists] is more appropriate for some albums than “Various Artists” because “various” implies there’s many, but you know who they are. But if it’s an album composed primarily of songs recorded off the radio in Indonesia with no attempt made to discover artist names, or it’s field recordings made while walking around at night in Bali, then the artists are just unknown.

Also, if a DJ has put an album together, their name is used as Album Artist. That’s easy. But should they also be the artist for each track, even though the tracks themselves consist of music from other musical artists? And if you decide no, the artists whose work makes up each track the DJ selected should be listed, well then… you might be labeling only a partial version of the named track, depending on the DJ’s attention span.

My landlord had a heavy metal box of tools and visited two hardware stores in search of supplies for the project yesterday. I improved the resolution of the cover art of some digital albums. In 100 years, neither of our efforts will be remembered.

I did get in some shopping at Trader Joe’s as well, so… I’m not yet 100% a music troll who doesn’t venture out.

 

weekend gon’ be all


Two weeks ago, during the last lost time incident, I included a tweet with this format that referred to a cursed sword. A few weeks later and I decided to revisit the format and include a few more genres. People lead different lives. I can’t know what genre my Twitter followers exist within. Now, if they live in a fantastic and enchanted realm, or on a space station, or in a horrific monarchy of terror, they’re all set.

And the last variation is just a little joke for the rest of us who haven’t figured our genre out yet. An eternity called “the past” behind us and an eternity called “the future” ahead of us, none of us sure why we’re ticking along one second at a time in this constantly changing “present”.

 

looking and listening

Iron Fist – I won’t be the first to tell you, but this show is terrible. Don’t watch it. The writers never really figured out what our titular hero wants, but he’s rich and white, so we’re supposed to be interested no matter where he drifts. Also, one glance at the actor they picked to portray a world-class martial artist and any suspension of disbelief collapses like a … like an under-invested-in suspension bridge of disbelief. This pigeon-chested fellow (who apparently sometimes only got taught fight choreography 15 minutes before it was filmed) is not convincing as a fighter. Other characters even say he’s not a very good Iron Fist (which is a special kind of mystical punchy guy), which— okay. But he was still supposed to have earned the title by punching the heart out of a dragon, so “not a very good Iron Fist” should still be effing amazing. And he’s not. Ugh.

Legion – What if David Lynch collaborated on a superhero show that was barely a superhero show? What if all the sets were incredibly designed and the lead character might be insane, so you’re never sure what’s really going on, but it’s so pretty you’re happy to follow the journey anyway? Wonder no more, friends. You don’t even have to be interested in comics to dig this show. Very stylish. It’s got Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Rec) and Bill Irwin (one of the greatest living clowns in the world) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords). It should probably have you as well.

Little Axe Records – On Bandcamp, I’ve been spending some time looking through the offerings of this label out of Portland, OR. They don’t seem to know entirely what they have. There’s music from a few named blues artists and some named locations, but they also have albums posted with not tracklists… just Side A and Side B. Or compilations where old songs are shared without artist info, as if they just found some old vinyl and decided to share it with the world as-is. Mysteries to explore.

 

ending theme song
Okay! I’ve got a book I’m meant to be working on and a social engagement in a few hours, so it’s time to wrap this puppy up and ship it out.

Oh, almost forgot to ask: How was your week?

There. Pleasantries accomplished.

—Michael Van Vleet

lost time incident 54 – the art of procrastination

lost time incident 54

I should be writing fiction in a different browser window but I’m writing in this one because I’m having trouble getting started. Got off to a great start last Saturday, but by Sunday I was thinking I got some tone issues wrong. It’s too early to go back and rewrite the first section, but what if I just do nothing instead for a while and see how that works out?

How it’s working out is: I’m sending out this newsletter instead. That’s catching the ol’ bullet with your teeth. That’s taking charge, buddy.

The other thing I was doing— curating my mp3 collection and spiffing up id3 tags for albums I got from other people and never cared enough about to clean up before— is an easy way to lose a day. (I also spent time curating a set of tweets, which required a bit of Photoshop editing to line everything up.)

Writing, writing, writing.

In theory: We enjoy doing it.

In practice: We enjoy having done it.

This “actually doing it” step is a tragic prerequisite.

 

nonsense from twitter

Everyone says their weekend is going to be crazy, but I never feel particularly surprised by what they actually got up to.

Immediately after posting this, I wondered if readers would assume that the person taking ownership over the cursed sword would head off to challenge Skull Ape, or if it was assumed that the narrator has two tasks: fob off sword, then defeat Skull Ape (without a sword).

Is one funnier than the other?

It’s a good thing Twitter is free. I would not pay money to share these half-formed thoughts. You’re not paying money to be subjected to them. Capitalism has failed.

 

never too early to start planning
Hey kids! It’s March! You know what that means? Time to start thinking about CAMPUS PRANKS!

Feel free to use any or all of these ideas this Fall when you get to campus. If someone with a badge tries to stop you, use this simple trick: Scream CAMPUS PRANKS! Into their dumb face until their hat falls off and they flop out of their shoes.

Then leg it!

  prank – Knock on a random dorm room door. Shout that you’re sick of the lies and you’re drinking poison and it’s all their fault. But make sure you only drink liquor you’re not old enough to purchase. “Die” on their doorstep. Stay there until the resident advisor shows up. Rise from the dead and bite them. Hand them a flyer promoting THE WALKING DEAD. Collect a paycheck from AMC.

  prank – Sneak into either a sorority or fraternity house. Find where the underwear is stored for the Greek residents. DO NOT remove it. Instead leave a flyer for MeUndies, extolling the virtue of their 92% MicroModal® 8% elastane material, and their natural, sustainably sourced fiber. Then get the heck out of there unseen. If you’re spotted, just say you’re a podcast made flesh… an audio golem, cursed to wander the land until you can return to your RSS home.

  prank – Who cares. Glue something to something else in a way that makes someone’s life inconvenient. Be sure not to take their feelings into consideration. Think only of the joy you get from making an impact on the life of another, even if it’s negative, as proof that you’re still alive, and the college itself isn’t a dark dream. That you’re not actually in your middle age, and that you haven’t forgotten to attend a class all year, and now a test is due, and you can’t remember what building the class is hosted in. If you can prank someone, and make them even a little bit less comfortable in the world, that’s proof. This is real. Your teeth are really falling out. Why aren’t you wearing clothes. Are your clothes glued to the floor? Have you been pranked? Your childhood dog is here. Is this a prank? Scraps is dead. C’mere, boy! C’mere, Scraps!

 

ending theme song
Oh, dang, I forgot to get sponsors for this week’s newsletter. Maybe next week we’ll have some. I guess our pranks are giving sponsor shoutouts pro bono this week.