lost time incident 04 – I thought YOU were supposed to be the ghost.


lost time incident 04

I accidentally clicked CTRL-V in the subject line for this email/newsletter and my computer pasted the phrase “I thought YOU were supposed to be the ghost.” I have no idea what the context was for that, or how long it’s been saved in this computer’s clipboard. To the best of my memory, I didn’t think anyone was a ghost today.

Or… is it a message from my computer? Does my computer think I was supposed to be a ghost? Has a ghost been using my computer?

Quit using my computer, ghosts. Getting the keys all dusty.

In this issue, you’re going to:
) get kicked and/or get started
) explore the limits of reality television
) solve crimes with a Himalayan wonder


every kick has to start somewhere

Over the years, I’ve supported a number of Kickstarter campaigns with pretty good results, but the last time I was browsing the site, it recommended a Kickstarter to me just because it was started by someone in the same town I live in: El Cerrito, CA.

The Kickstarter was looking to gather funds to cover startup costs for a new subscription business.  Once the business was launched, subscribers could pay a monthly fee and in return receive a box filled with 15 random comic books. No theme to those books, mind you. No idea what you’re getting at all. 15 random comic books.

The campaign page did not contain any decent explanation, either, as to why you’d want to Kickstart the creation of this poorly-thought-out business plan instead of just waiting to subscribe when it’s already up and running… assuming you were the sort of oddball who agreed that such a subscription service was a good idea.

15 random comics. I have a strong suspicion someone was just trying to get rid of their comic collection.

Anyway, that Kickstarter nonsense is why I ended up brainstorming terrible Kickstarter ideas like the following, and sharing them on Twitter:

Thank you for supporting my Kickstarter to donate little hats to wild elephants. We’ve unlocked the support tier: TINY PROPELLER BEANIE!

And shortly thereafter:

Thank you for supporting my Kickstarter to rewrite PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and insert more pride. New support tier unlocked: LIONS LIONS LIONS!

Second one was more popular. Goes to show that everyone likes a pun more than they like a visual gag that entirely lacks its visual component. Note that down. Put it in your Moleskine®. Tattoo it on your chest backwards, Memento-style.

I’m quite fond of my follow-up to that Pride & Prejudice joke:

We’re sad to announce that our Kickstarter to include more prejudice did not reach its fundraising goal, and I think we ALL KNOW whose fault that is.

If you can’t add more pride, add more prejudice. Right there in the name.


must you see tee vee

[Camera swoops out of the sky and drops toward a commuter train, winding its way on a raised railway through the tall buildings that crowd an American metropolis. The camera passes through a train car’s window, flies over and around commuter backpacks, dodges newspapers being unfolded and flapped, picks up the tinny noise of someone with cheap headphones listening to techno music entirely too loud so all you hear is the high hat tz tz tz-ing, before coming to a stop in front of a business suit and briefcase. It then pans up to a tie at the neck, then further up to the dead cold eyes of an enormous fish, the head poking out of the top of the suit. There’s no motion in the gills. This fish is not alive. Title card comes up:  ]


[Montage of scenes from previous episodes: ]

soundtrack:  “Visions” by New Arcades

[In a break room, the business suit with the fish head sticking out of the top leans against a lunch table as employees carry on conversations around it.]

[The fish in a business suit bops its unblinking face against a vending machine’s button, causing the machine  to dispense coffee.]

[Executives sit around a conference table, patiently waiting for the fish in a business suit to start a presentation. Projected on a wall is a slide labeled Q4 Projections.  Executives are exchanging glances, impatient, and yet the fish in a business suit has made no motion to advance the slide.]


[Sharp zoom into the cloudy eye of the fish as theme song concludes.]

title card: This week: Undercover Fish joins a teacher’s union!

[21 minutes of a teacher’s union meeting (plus ads to fill the 30 min. show slot) while a fish in a business suit takes up a chair, contributing nothing.]


ice / cold

Two uniformed police officers are in a living room, taking notes over the body of a murder victim. The victim has a significant wound to his torso. The living room looks nice, otherwise. Couch looks comfortable. Probably easy to take naps on. These facts can be true AND not particularly relevant to the case at hand. Maybe pay less attention to the decor and more to the task at hand, huh?

“Hey, Lopez, take a look at that,” says one of the officers, pointing at a damp spot on the carpet. “I’m not with forensics, but considering the shape of the wound and the complete absence of a murder weapon, I have to think that an anomalous wet spot on the carpet near our victim may be of some importance.”

“I bet you’re right, Singh,” said Lopez.

“This rings a bell, in fact,” said Singh. “When I was a kid, I used to read these mysteries starring a kid detective called ‘Entire-Set-of-Encyclopedias’ Ernie. He was the smartest kid on the block because he owned and had read an entire set of encyclopedias.”

“Must be where the nickname came from,” said Lopez.

“You solved that mystery pretty quick,” said Singh. “That is correct. The only time he could be stumped is late in the year, if a crime were committed that was relevant to some new facts that had not yet been published– like the redrawing of national borders, or the discovery of a new species of insect. He was vulnerable until the encyclopedia publishers issued an addendum volume. As such, the teen criminals in his neighborhood were keenly interested in current events.”

Lopez made an affirmative noise to show he was still listening as he continued writing notes into a notepad.

“Anyway, this is familiar. I remember a case where the murderer had crafted a murder weapon made out of ice. Using same, the murderer was able to complete the murder and leave the weapon, knowing it would melt at room temperature, thwarting ‘Entire-Set-of-Encyclopedias’ Ernie. It didn’t work, and I forget exactly which encyclopedia entry allowed Ernie to solve the case, but since that time I’ve remembered the melting murder weapon. Never expected to see it in action.”

“Not a bad theory,” said Lopez.

From outside the door came the sound of a heavy tread and then an enormous, furry figure ducked through the doorway and into the living room. A creature, six and a half feet tall, covered in white fur, its peaked head mounted in front by a muzzle full of sharp teeth.

“Morning, Detective Yeti,” said Singh.

“Morning, everybody,” answered the mountain-dwelling beast. “What do we have here?”

Lopez read from his notes. “Murder victim here, seems to have been perished due to some sort of stabbing attack. Singh noted a wet patch on the carpet nearby. Current theory forwarded by Singh is that, with the murder weapon not in evidence, it’s possible the murderer crafted a stabbing weapon out of ice, which has melted here on the floor.”

“That’s impossible,” said Detective Yeti. “Ice doesn’t melt.”

“What.” said Lopez.

“Ice doesn’t melt.”

“At room temperature, it does,” said Lopez.

Detective Yeti’s enormous brow raised in surprise. “Uh, I don’t think so. As my mother used to say: ‘If ice is here today, it’s also here tomorrow.’ On the steep slopes of the Himalayas I learned all I need to know about ice. It’s permanent.”

Singh raised a finger. “It’s possible that you’re letting your personal experience overshadow–”


Windows rattled.

“I’ll never forget how I got this job,” continued Yeti. “Years ago, I had killed some Tibetan sherpas who had wandered too near my lair. I was captured and put on trial. From my experiences inside a Tibetan court… I learned next to nothing, actually. But in the prison where they kept me, they had a television that showed American police shows and that’s when I knew I wanted to solve crimes in America.

“When the judge put me on the stand to defend myself, I merely shouted, over and over again: I WANT TO GO TO AMERICA! I WANT TO SOLVE CRIMES! Attempts to silence me were met with a violence so horrible that they abandoned that courtroom, had it blessed by priests, then burned it down. They also gave me an airline voucher to come to America where I joined the police academy.”

Flashback: A row of young cadets cover their ears as a giant fanged monster shouts “I DO NOT HAVE TO DO PUSH-UPS. I HAVE TO FIGHT CRIME! YOU WILL CERTIFY ME AS A POLICE OFFICER!”

Later: “I WANT TO SOLVE MURDERS! YOU WILL LET ME SOLVE MURDERS!” A terrified police chief shoves a gun and badge across his desk before cowering under it. The newly appointed Detective Yeti throws both badge and gun out a window, howling in celebration.

Which brings us back to now:   “Ice doesn’t melt.”

“Okay, Yeti. So you must have another theory,” said Singh.

Detective Yeti’s face roils with thought. Like an ocean buffeted by a typhoon. Toothless gears skid past each other. A North Korean rocket streaks skyward before falling apart. A working class man carrying a box full of glass figurines slips on a banana peel. A souffle collapses. A star falls into itself, a black hole.


personal care

Found this device on Amazon today while waiting to see if I had a better ending for the Detective Yeti bit above:

Step 1 – Adjust screws to attach your device as firmly as you can stand.


Step 2 – Look at your reflection, you cyborg monster, and reflect on what brought you to this state.

Step 3 – Stop at 5 body goatees for best results. Now is not the time for fear.



ending theme song

Thanks for hanging around for another week. No real autobiography this week. Feels good to stretch the ol’ fiction writing muscles, though. To rediscover that I enjoy writing the most when it feels like a game and not when I’m trying to match what I consider to be “real writing” with actual characters and story arcs and planning … you know, the sort of thing you do if you write for a living. Which I don’t! Sweet freedom!

And no, I never came up with a better ending for Detective Yeti. So maybe I’m not done with that scenario yet. But for this week, I’m done.

Special thanks are due to my talented wife Amanda, who contributed the illustration of Undercover Fish’s presentation. Okay, now I’m done for real. More for real than the last paragraph lead you to believe. For really real this time.

Later, gators,

Michael Van Vleet