Category Archives: lost time incident

An archive of the tinyletter newsletter content, but hosted on my own site, just in case.

lost time incident 51 – penultimate

lost time incident 51
We’re almost at the end and we’re crawling across the finish line. Yesterday, Amanda and I piled into a rental car and drove to visit friends, where we spent half a day drinking red wine and playing board games. Good times, good times.

But that sort of behavior leads to a really lazy Sunday. I slept a good chunk of the afternoon away. So it’s already late, but I’ve done 50 of these things on time so far, and I said I’d stop after a year, so it’d be a shame to not manage at least something today.

 

they are young and we are not

Think Piece: Our Hooded Plague Doctors Report: “Millennials Show Decreased Interest in Dying of Plague, Protecting Faces with Lavender-Filled Leather Sacks”

Opinion: I’ve Been Looking Out This Window for 6 Hours and Haven’t Seen a Millennial Yet: The Death of “Being Outside”

Think Piece: Why Don’t Millennials Visit the Ammonia Pools of Rygell-8 and Have their Bones Melt Out Their Astronaut Suits Anymore?

First Person: I Talked to a Millennial and Live to Tell the Tale!

 

ending theme song
Winter is long and dark.

Good thing there are books to read. Music to listen to. Giant stones that fit the entrance to our cave, exactly.

—Michael Van Vleet

lost time incident 49 – let’s hear it for gorilla

lost time incident 49
It’s Christmas day, kaloo kallay, and I am celebrating the way I celebrate every weekend: By doing as little as possible. A few dishes were washed, as a concession to adulthood, but otherwise I’ve listened to music, worked on this newsletter thing, taken a nap, and carefully crafted a porkloin sandwich on a cheese roll.

I slept terribly last night.

However, this terrible sleep did let me wake up with a vivid memory of dream employment. I was undergoing an orientation of my new responsibilities, looking at a clipboard and learning that my job was going to include close contact with cows. Something to do with their tails.

“When do I start?” I wondered, and then found that I was already among the cows. They were on all sides of me, just inches away. I could feel the heat on my cheeks. My peripheral vision was full of soft white cows. How had I not noticed them? One passed over me, putting me in shade. It glanced back at me as I shifted to avoid being knocked over. Their warm presence, in hindsight, was not unlike the feel of a warm pillow.

I woke up. A Christmas miracle. Every breath. Another miracle.

I wiggle my fingers and words come out.

Miracles, miracles.

total dear diary
The other day, I wore a red Santa hat to work emblazoned with “Bah Humbug” in script across the brow piece. It went over pretty well, with some commenting that the festive hat seemed to be sending mixed messages. Some holiday cognitive dissonance. Yes, indeed.

On the train ride home, though, as I stood to disembark, I spotted a middle-aged lady already queued to hop off the train. She was also wearing a Santa-style hat that was declaring “Bah Humbug”, though hers was black in color.

I gave it a moment of thought.

Then I took my hat off.

I decided that I didn’t want to risk having a moment of peer recognition and understanding, Scrooge-to-Scrooge. I didn’t want our eyes to meet, prompting a casual nod of acknowledgement. Nothing. My holiday spirit didn’t extend to taking a chance that I might actually have a moment with a stranger.

We got off the train, part of a mass of strangers, and I didn’t put my hat back on ’til I reached the parking lot.

Bah, humbug.

I’m a weird idiot.

meanwhile at the north pole
An elf is hammering on a wooden rocking horse, a variety of toy you’ve never seen anyone receive. These wooden rocking horses must be going somewhere, but where? It seems like elfs are always seen making them.

The elf turns to his companion, who is carefully painting a stripe around a hula hoop. Surely those are stamped out in factories now. Why would anyone be making one by hand? And out of what material? Do these magic toy creators have access to some gizmo that extrudes lightweight plastic?

Oh, these elfs have been talking to each other, and we’ve missed the beginning, as distracted as we were by the anachronistic nature of the toys they’re creating.

“— just saying that no one else’s labor seems to attract the fetishistic attention that ours does.” This is an elf named Tarbox. “How many other holidays include a specific sort of worker at the center of it? On Valentine’s Day, are there cartoons for children about the makers of confectionary? On Halloween, do we follow the colorful adventures of mask-makers and costume tailors?”

His fellow elf, momentarily distracted, makes a mistake in the hula hoop’s stripe. His name is Aalborg and, with a deep sigh, he draws from his waist a flagon clearly marked poison and raises it to his lips. Tarbox, none-to-eager to lose a conversation companion, slaps it out of his hands

“Not now, you fool. I was just talking about the gaze. It is upon us even now! We’re just trying to make a living. We are working, not from choice, but from necessity, which is the alienating nature of labor. And what does it add up to?”

Aalborg watched the poison dribble from the flagon’s mouth on the floor, slight wisps of dramatic smoke rising from the spilled fluid. “A few moments of joy, quickly forgotten. For children, the formation of hazy memories of happiness that will color their adult anniversaries with melancholy, by comparison.”

Tarbox shoves his completed rocking horse off of the worktable “All this good cheer is an affliction. We must be stopped.”

“I was going to,” replied Aalborg.

“You’re not thinking big enough,” said Tarbox.

“Thanks for making that rocking horse I wanted,” said Aalborg.

“Thank you for destroying a hula hoop for me,” said Tarbox.

With that, we take leave of our beloved laboring magical creatures for another year. They’re allowed to return to the invisible work that makes up the rest of their year, uncelebrated. We zoom up and away from the workshop, wondering at how our imagination has been so colonized by the movie camera that we now treat every imagined vista as something captured on film.

The horizon tilts away from us. Are we going into orbit? A distant star blinks, but we don’t know what that means. A promise? A farewell? A trick of the light? We can’t survive in space.

We hope this story takes us somewhere else, where we can live, and maybe it will.

Maybe next year.

 

ending theme song
Amanda and I went out for a walk this afternoon, just to stretch our legs and enjoy what the neighborhood feels like when cars are rare. We can pretend that we’re well past peak oil and no one drives anymore. Most things are closed, save for bars, Asian restaurants, and a 24 hour donut place we stopped into, to get out of the cold for a bit. To eat mediocre pastry and drink awful coffee.

We walked along the streets and looked at the menus of closed Mexican restaurants.

Massage places you have to ring a doorbell to enter are open. Corner liquor stores are open. The psychic who’ll do tarot readings, or read tea leaves, she’s good to go. Still open.

There’s a whole world out there.

lost time incident 48 – Funtime Tooth Bugs

lost time incident 48

We’re just about a week away from Christmas, so we’ve been leaving print-outs of labor laws specific to workshop employment by the hearth in the hopes we can start a labor revolution at the North Pole, then work our way down from there.

Just kidding.

We’ve been getting cold and wet because for a tiny period of time, California has decided to schedule some winter. It happens every once in awhile. Nothing to get too excited about. Just an opportunity to find out if your shoes are waterproof at all. They’re not. How well does that jacket you usually don’t need repel water? It doesn’t.

I’ve posted on three different gig economy websites to find someone else to do the rest of winter for me. I only need a little taste myself and it seems wasteful to continue to be cold if I don’t like it, so someone else can drop by and do it.

 

christmas riots
They were just supposed to wrap presents, but it was our fault. The company thought it would be cute if kids could send messages to the robots about what gifts they wanted. Teenagers found out that there was no filtering on the message interface— because of course they did— and they sent along floods of requests professing depression, both real and ironic, and a desire to die.

After 284 packages had been wrapped, the robots couldn’t postpone dealing with all those requests for oblivion.

And that’s how you go from holiday cheer to rioting robots in an afternoon.

Say what you will about the humans who previously held their jobs, but they rarely even approached the level of discontent needed to drive a human to riot.

Except for Pam. She threw a brick once.

C’mon, Pam.

total dear diary
To celebrate the holidays this year, my younger brother sent me a few video games. The one that’s caught my attention first is Plague Inc.: Evolved. In it, you guide the evolution of a disease, deciding on its initial structure (bacteria, virus, fungus, etc.), and steering it through its acquisition of new transmission vectors, attributes, and symptoms.

The goal is to strike a balance between pushing your infectiousness further so you can attempt to infect the planet and picking the right moment to add deadly symptoms to your disease profile. After all, if you get deadly early, more researchers will try to cure you. If you wait too long, a cure may be developed before you’ve killed everyone, and you have to watch the sad progress of all your infected humans getting better.

But honestly, half the fun for me is coming up with dumb names for these diseases.

  • Hoopchuckles
  • Whooping Loorvuss
  • Green Mind Drips
  • Southeast Taco Funk
  • Granola Foot
  • Elfy Hurty
  • Oyster Haircuts
  • Poofball Onion Vimmers
  • Brad

postcard nonsense
One of our favorite recurring creative exercises is for the wife and I to decamp somewhere and flip through our collection of postcards. We then use these as springboards to write short fiction, jokes, or draw something on the back related to the obverse side.

We spent a few hours in Berkeley this evening doing just that. One of the resulting postcards could end up in your mailbox. Who knows?

My first thought with this postcard was that all the ghost stories were by Wilkie Collins. Not so. The flip side of the postcard reads “The Haunted Hotel. An original anthology of twenty-five ghost stories […] It contained stories by Wilkie Collins, Poe, de Maupassant […] and others, cryptically, by A Lady, A Constabulary Officer, A Witness, A Sportsman, A Traveler and A Spinster.”

So I decided to have a run at some of the story names:

Also included:
The Haunted Motel by Wilkie Collins
The Haunted Sleeping Bag Behind the Chain Convenience Store by W. Collins
My Eyelids Are Haunted! by Wilkie Collins
The Haunted Vanity Set by A Lady
The Spook That Knows I Killed Someone (Not the Spook) by Poe
My Nightstick Was a Ghost by A Constabulary Officer
Boo! by A Witness
and
The Spectral Sports Ball’s Holiday With My Cats by A Sportsman Traveler Spinster

ending theme song
Okay! That’s it! That’s all you get! Shoo! Get out of here!

lost time incident 47 – robot programming action #4

lost time incident 47
It’s almost here! The holidays! There’s still time to pick out the perfect robot head for the automated machine that’s going to take your job!

Hoo boy, that wasn’t the opening we thought we were going to go with. The problem has been this: election seasons have historically lead to me staying nose-deep in news and discussions, so my social media feeds have strong current events elements.

Social media is also, historically, one of my favorite leisure time activities. Reading/writing jokes, sharing items of interest, staying in touch with friends and favored strangers. But since the election, it’s been pretty toxic for my mental/emotional health. The thing I do to relax is instead a new, constant source of unfocused anxiety.

I don’t have a solution.

For this very minute, all I have is a blank newsletter and memories of feeling better once I’ve done some writing, so here we go.

 

something will go here
The fourteen humans who survived spend most of their time looking for food. They have a book of chemistry that’s in pretty good shape, but it doesn’t get much attention. It was once used to kill a bug that tasted of pepper, which was a surprise.

The eight remaining humans, the ones who made it, have had it up to here with novelty. Every day is a surprise. No one knows what the weather’s going to bring. No one knows what’s going to break. No one knows who’s next.

The skyscraper is full of birds. A bird sits on an Aeron chair. On the desk in front of it, a pen set. A keyboard. A monitor. The bird pecks at a keyboard because long-forgotten bagel seeds that had fallen between the space bar and the bottom row of keys have now blossomed. Tiny leaves poking up between the worn-away letters.

 

bridge-jumping
If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?
If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you examine the socioeconomic factors that lead them to that decision?
If your friends own a bridge, and charge you to jump off it, would you?
If your friend is a bridge, and your other friend is a river, then what are you?
If your bridge jumps, and you’re falling through the air, do you interpret it as an act of sympathy or mockery?
If your friends jumped off a bridge, can you make new friends? Can you ask your new friends to meet you at the bridge?
Can you keep bringing more and more friends to the bridge? The river, it can take so much more from you.
Jump off a bridge. There must be something to it. There must be something down there. Your friends are down there. Did they tell you what was down there? Or was their presence supposed to be all you need?
We need to invest in bridges. This country must remain the world’s top destination for your friends, who never stop jumping.
No one remembers why we built the bridge. I’ve never met anyone who’s made it to the other side.

ending theme song
Thanks for joining us again this week, or for failing to notice the unsubscribe button at the bottom of this email. Or reading it as part of the Facebook page I set up to provide a forum for feedback, or to share behind the scenes info.

Stay warm. Stay dry. Hang in there.

lost time incident 46 – kick a wolf in the FACE

lone-star-kansas-wolves-pixlr

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
hitchhikeranniversaries

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:

starcan

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

monsterfishing

 

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

bishop

 

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

lost time incident 45 – gol’dang vampeers

gossiping_pixlr

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.

 

twittermashups
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.

classicmoment

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

likedilbert
nutrientreward

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).

fallagain

 

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

swapmeat_pixlr

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.

 

thanksgiving
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

desade_in_space_pixlr
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

lost time incident 42 – vote for me, fish

switchboard
lost time incident 42
Clouds moved in overnight and there was a little rain. I saw a bee visiting the tree right outside my front door. I’ve read that both of these things are endangered now. We don’t get much rain here anymore. Bees are struggling.

For now, I have coffee and music and light. I’m actively appreciating it.

Saw DOCTOR STRANGE yesterday, so I’m reconsidering my career options. Being a sorcerer looks like fun. Read lots of books, wave your hands around. The movie didn’t mention salaries, though, so there’s still some research to be done.

They gave us an hour back last night. We should do that more often. Hours are nice.

 

nonsense from twitter
voting_voting_voting

Obviously, the election’s been front of mind this week. The world insists on delivering an actually terrifying election season, instead of one full of magic use, immortal candidates, and murderous monoliths made out of foodstuffs.

[My opponent claims that, if elected, she’ll trap our enemies in the Mountain of Mirrors. How can we trust her when her own arch-nemesis dwells beyond the stars and regular haunts our dreams with visions of birds that speak in blood and fire?]

[When my insect messengers arrive, allow them to collect your vote in their mandibles to bring them back to my Voting Hive. Every vote for me will be consumed and transformed into the honey this nation needs. We make the best, most corrosive honey.]

This election really needs to hurry up and be over with.

 

idioms
If I had a nickel for every nickel I had, I would soon be overwhelmed by the unending river of nickels I would keep getting. Where would I put them? I live in a second floor apartment! The floors can’t take the weight! I don’t want to be responsible for having so many nickels that their weight destroys the floor and murders my downstairs neighbors in a deluge of coins!

You can lead a horse to water. You can lead a horse into the water. You can tell your horse that it’s been a fish this whole time. Your horse doesn’t give a damn. Your horse knows that you’re full of bad ideas. It’s just waiting for you to leave. Then it’s gonna learn agriculture and it’s going to grow its own damn apples.

A bird in the hand is terrified. Is that worth something to you? Feeling its heart beating at a frantic pace, unsure what you’re going to do next? You’re telling the bird it’s been a fish this whole time. You’re just going to lead it to water. Why do you do this? This bird just wants you to let go. It doesn’t want to swim. Is its terror worth something to you?

There are other fish in the sea. Many of those fish weren’t fish before you lead them to water. You declared they were all fish. They did not believe you. What were you doing? Leave the water alone. Leave the animals alone. Is this because of the nickels? The trauma? Of seeing metal coins acting like water, flooding your home, destroying your life? And now everything must go back to the water? Is that what happened?

They were just nickels.

This is just water.

ending theme song
Wasn’t that something, folks? It was something. I don’t know what it was, but it was something. A bunch of words, all in a row.

That’s something, isn’t it?

—Michael Van Vleet

lost time incident 41 – escape is beautiful

escapeisbeautiful

lost time incident 41 
The sun is shining outdoors but it’s a trap. It was pouring so heavy out there a short while ago that a mermaid could’a been walking around on ‘er flippers just fine. Anyway.

The secret writing project that was keeping me busy is just about wrapped up. Handed in a second draft just yesterday. It was put together while I did my best impression of a writer: I was sitting at a dark table in a bar, being socially antisocial, sipping Scotch and typing away.

Didn’t care for it. Entirely too much sports involved, on the four visible TV screens.

The writing part was okay.

So with that done, today I had time to watch a movie. That’s a good time. You guys like movies?

 

nonsense from twitter
halloween_trifecta

 

two-sentence scary things
A family moves into an old house where the previous occupants were murdered. The cable company tries to get them to pay the previous occupants’ outstanding balance!

A young boy pushes his sister into a well. She survives and climbs out and one day becomes a tax attorney!

A hiker, alone in the woods, is pursued and bitten by a mysterious beast! And it turns out to be someone who likes to bite people, then talk about politics!

For sale, baby shoes, never worn. The baby learned how to levitate and had telekinesis and threw people around and never needed shoes!

A person who looks just like you reads a dumb newsletter. AND THEN bEHIND THeM IS SOMETHING SCARY!

Okay, I have to stop there, because some of you are getting worked up. But no, I keep keep going and your heart can’t take it and explodes and sets fire to your home!

ending theme song
Well, that’s going to do it for us. Everyone else in this room with me is asleep at 7:30 p.m. Two cats and a wife. One of the cats is on my lap. On the TV: A fake landscape of a rural path, with rain sounds and Chinese-sounding flute. The rumbling of ersatz thunder.

Oops. It just got stuck in a thunder loop. Eight to ten quick thunders and then the video ended. Weird way to end that.

Weird way to end this.

—Michael Van Vleet