lost time incident 42 – vote for me, fish

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

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.


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

The Signal: EP129


The Signal: EP129 – 45 minutes of music from around the world, shouted back at the world with technology.  A secret garden for those having a rough time. There are a lot of rough times going around.  We’ve got dubstep from the UK and movie information from Wisconsin’s past, bedroom pop from Paris and vaporwave from… the internet, I guess? We’ve got drum and bass and rhythm and blues, gospel and hip hop, beats and questions.

As with all of our previous mixes, the mp3 file is going to be available only for a limited time, so if you want it, grab  yourself a copy. 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.

Thanks for listening!

lost time incident 41 – escape is beautiful


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


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

lost time incident 40 – words words words


lost time incident 40
The crows by the train station know me now. They know I’ve got peanuts in my pocket and all they have to do is get my attention on mornings when I’m not awake yet, stumbling along, a podcast in my ears. Swooping above me seems to work, or landing nearby.

Other than firming up those neighborhood relationships, I don’t know that much happened this last week.

This weekend did include some walking around. A bit of grocery shopping. Visited the Himalayan/Indian grocery and got some spices that might lead to making a chickpea dish in the near future… once I get some chickpeas.

But mostly I’ve been writing.

Last weekend, I finished the first draft of a secret writing project. My Monday morning was made as the folks I’m working with started giving plenty of positive feedback and great suggestions for improvement.

So this weekend, if I was on the couch, I was expanding, rewriting, clarifying. We’re working against a mid-November due date for the publication of the e-book so it shouldn’t be too long before I feel comfortable talking about any details.

It actually hit 7 p.m. here before I realized it was Sunday and I hadn’t done a single thing for this newsletter, so this is being thrown together as quickly as I can manage.

But something good is coming!

And I’m going to get right back to it as soon as this goes out.

Bonus photo of my occasional writing companion using one of my typing hands as a pillow:

twitter nonsenseastro_urine
I think about astronauts a lot. About how badly space messes you up, even when you’re in a high tech protective cocoon. Bone loss. Muscle tone. You have to be more aware of when you should have used the restroom, because much of the process whereby your body tells you “it’s time” requires gravity as a catalyst.

We are products of the gravity well we grew up in and space doesn’t like us much.

Do you know the TV show “Steven Universe”? It’s about a little kid whose mom was some kind of gem alien. She and her friends teamed up to protect the Earth, despite not being from here. Steven grows up dealing with his mom not being around and wanting to be involved in the dangerous work of his mom’s gem alien friends and, as a half-gem alien, it seems like at some point he’s going to be a great help to them.

Anyway, it had me wanting to see a story where the entire premise is flipped. I want to see a show about some humans on an alien world where they’ve decided they should protect the local population. They hang out with a weird half-human kid who one day is going to have their innate powers, like… what… what do humans do that would seem like superpowers?

I guess it depends on the aliens.

If they don’t use speech to communicate, then talking is like telepathy. “You mean you make those weird noises and the other humans know what you’re thinking? Or it can make them DO STUFF?”

Seems like fiction is full of outsiders who want to protect humans. Just thinking it would be interesting to see the opposite. The amazing humans who can walk, protecting an alien town full of sponges who are stuck to rocks.

Might just be me.

ending theme song
Sorry to keep things short, but India is coming online in just a few hours, and I have a daily check-in with a work colleague there. Pretty soon my weekend is going to come to an end. But I still have a final act that could use some padding, a surprise twist that needs to be inserted, and a fake PSA written warning kids about an activity that, to be honest, they shouldn’t much be interested in.

Back to work!

See you in a week!

—Michael Van Vleet

lost time incident 39 – still not back


lost time incident 39
Still working this rainy weekend on my top secret writing project. The weather’s been a great help, enabling me to not even feel remotely guilty about not stepping outside. Instead I can stay in front of a computer every waking moment, listening to music and occasionally adding a few sentences or paragraphs to the work in progress.

I did, however, put some stuff on Twitter this week, so we’ve got that. The election was a big creative driver. Obviously.


stuff from Twitter


While I’m doing all this writing, I’ve been exploring soundtracks that work for me. I’ve been finding that my current project goes well with vaporwave and retrosynth. With vaporwave, I have hints of the familiar, with R&B structures washed out and pitched down, so my brain has some rhythms it knows. And when I need energy, the retrosynth propulsive sound sets a good pace.

VA-31 – “A Night On the Town” – With this album, I can listen to Michael Jackson’s PYT slowed down over 15 minutes, the vocals pitched down a soul singer’s romantic baritone.

In Love With a Ghost – “let’s go” – Last night, when I ran out of steam, I went digging through Bandcamp’s tagging system, looking for subgenre names that sounded interesting, or checking geo tags. This is how I found myself wondering what was going on musically in Slovakia. Turns out someone there is running a cassette-tape label where they put out bedroom pop artists, which is how I found this little EP of domestic sound-sampling.

ending theme song
Anyway. That’s something. Gotta get back to that other waiting browser window that still needs more words in it.

—Michael Van Vleet