lost time incident 12 – yikes


lost time incident 12
In less than a week, I’m turning 40. Big round numbers hold a special appeal. And yet, I couldn’t think of anything I particularly wanted to do along the lines of a “big event” to celebrate. At a minimum, it’d be a good excuse for a party of some sort, but it seems like most everyone I know anymore I know more from whatever version of them appears on the internet. You can’t invite the internet over for dinner.

So I think the celebration is mostly going to be online. I’m celebrating by writing this and being happy about how this newsletter/writing project has so far lasted 12 weeks and included a good amount of new, original work. I’ll also celebrate by streaming some video games online and inviting folks to come watch and chat. I’ve been having fun editing highlight clips to share some of my favorite moments.

That’s what I’m up to, anyway. I’ve spent plenty of previous birthdays laying low, contemplating mortality, etc. and mostly waiting for the flood of messages on Facebook from people I only hear from once a year to abate. This year, I’m hoping that by focusing on personal projects, and living the sort of creative life I prefer, I can avoid some of that.

Not all of it. I’ve still been thinking about how much time I may have yet, and about recent deep loss, and about whether or not it’s crazy to think of one’s own childhood self as dead, in all practicality, what with all the changes one undergoes when one becomes an adult… or am I kidding myself when I think that my younger self was such a different creature from me? Some days it feels like I just share some memories with a small creature who shared some of my habits, but isn’t it strange to pretend we’re the same person? Me and this acorn-headed blonde kid?


camp switchblade
The police met with all the parents, in small groups, and at the end of the week it was decided that the juvenile delinquency problem could only be solved in one way. All the teens were told to pack their bags because they were going to spend three weeks this summer at camp.

The teens, of course, argued and wept. Clothes were thrown. Doors were slammed. Meals cooled on kitchen table tops and were later fished out of refrigerators by sulking teens under cover of darkness, muttering darkly to themselves in the kitchen as cold chicken is finally, resentfully, eaten.

The trees were green and the cabins were drafty. All was in readiness for the town’s teens and here they came, bangs covering their eyes, feet dragging, hands gripping crime paperbacks or romances, cellular phones playing music or pinging with the sounds of video game success, one teen in the back already on the ground, stabbed with a switchblade for showing too much enthusiasm for the wonders the camp had on offer.

The camp counselors have one job: to so encourage delinquency during the weeks at camp so as to brand any such activities permanently un-hip.

Sign-up stations collect names. Every morning, we’re going to get up and pick a free-standing building to burn down as part of Arson Club. Merit badges are available for those who prove their facility with gasoline. Lunch is either fast food or cigarettes and then we’re off to carve our names in things (for those who sign up for Graffiti Team) or sleep the afternoon away with the Recreational Drug Squad. Merit badges are available for those who can forget the most of their personal troubles. Finally, don’t forget to gather at nightfall at the camp’s bonfire, where we’ll be distributing flick knives to those unfortunates who didn’t bring their own, or have already have them stolen. We’ll give a few craft lessons for how to customize one’s hilt, how to select a lighter that reflects one’s “true self,” how to roll cigarette boxes into one’s shirt sleeve, and then we’ll break so that teens can disappear into the woods and thin the ranks. The morning’s decreasing headcount will let us know what sort of progress we’re making.

Every Saturday is a dance party in the rec center. The nurse’s poison cabinet will be unlocked all night for those couples whose parents would never agree to their union. We’ve got Romeo and Juliet costumes in limited supply for those interested, purchased secondhand from the town’s theater troupe, but still in great shape for dancing or for burial.

All teens will be provided with flyers outlining the virtues of unprotected sex. The sooner they get knocked up, the sooner they can move on to the next phase in their life, taking over vacant job roles in town. We still need two new gas station attendants to replace those two boys who got beaten up by a gang in a dispute over the pricing of dried meat sticks. The postal service is hoping to get some new hires from our pool of dangerous teens as well. Since there’s nothing like the need to keep a new baby in diapers to motivate a teen to go straight, we hope that no one at the dance will show any interest in the uncool prophylactics that we keep locked in the Head Administrator’s office.

And as a final note, Camp Counselor Ken would like to remind you teens that the merit badge offered in previous years for “sick burns” has been discontinued, so remarks about Ken’s weird pear-shaped body, his book-centric hobbies, or his fictional girlfriend who lives far away are no longer welcome or rewarded.

Too bad there’s no merit badge for Crying in Public, huh, Ken?

Maybe next year.


beach body season
It’s that time of year. Time to get your body into beach body shape. Time to wrap your head in seaweed and lay face down by the encroaching tide to ask Poseidon to swap every part of your body with sand so you can be pulled back and forth by the moon’s gravity the waves’ motion forever.

It’s that time of year. Time to get a beach body. Carve yourself a body out of the beach, fashioned like a human, your first true friend, true because it owes its existence to you. Seashell teeth and a hermit crab living in each eye. Its hair, a mess of starfish.

It’s that time. The years keep coming and the beach keeps calling. You know what’s waiting down there. That’s right. The beach body. You can forget about it for most of the year, but you’ll never truly be free of it. Look down there. In the moonlight. Do you see it? Looking back at you? The beach body you left behind?

Bodies on the beach. Bring all the bodies down to the beach. It’s the season. The only way you’re going to avoid returning to the sea is if you can somehow, some way, become a being of pure energy and mind, your consciousness floating out into the universe, pausing for just a second to short out all the laptops at every women’s magazine everywhere. Sparks flying.


eyes and ears elsewhere
Tami Neilson – DYNAMITE! – A singer from New Zealand whose 2014 album sounds like it’s decades older. Classic country/rockabilly. (Highlight: Honey Girl)

Still reading Charles Stross’ short stories from last week, but have added a book about railroad hobo lore to the reading rotation.

Also listening to: Bird song. Distant traffic.


ending theme song
That’s gonna do it for this week. The juvie camp above was expanded from a pair of tweets I came up with this year. The concept of revoked merit badges for terrible behavior is one I’m glad I circled back to. And how amazing are those JD merit badges? They’re courtesy of my wife, Amanda. They really look like they have stitches! Feel free to adapt them for your own arson, drug use, or defacing of property badge needs.

I had a lot of fun this morning trying to pick out highlights from my recorded video game streams, so I’m kinda eager to get back to it and record some new stuff… see if I can’t manage a better video quality as well. It may sound odd, but one of the most fun parts was using YouTube’s tools to add closed captioning subtitles to my clips. The interface is very intuitive and I enjoy trying to figure out how best to punctuate my ambling speaking style.

Time to go cook up some ravioli and refuel the tank so I can drop back into computer-generated prehistoric times. See if I can friends with some bite-y animals. See if any real friends want to drop in virtually.

See you sometime in the future… or the digital distant past. I’m easy either way.

–Michael Van Vleet

find me elsewhere
signalstation – home
TinyLetter – archive/subscription
Twitter – short nonsense
Tumblr – reblogging
Goodreads – reading
Bandcamp – listening