My Backyard

I left my bed today for the first time in many months. Bruno helped me downstairs and out into the backyard.

The sun was high. The day was warm. I sat in a garden recliner.

The yard slopes down a mile through light woods to the river. A ship with all sails set passed heading south as I settled.

So much air. So much space outside. Breeze in my hair.

A band of Roma camp in the woods. The police and then the army asked me if I wished their removal. Let them stay. I see the smoke rising from their fires.

The dogs stay close at first, then begin to roam, then to course across the hillside. They flush a few rabbits but these dogs are not the old borzoi. They can chase but they cannot catch.

To die outside of that damned room, this is an end worthwhile.

The Homeless Blogger 1/28/18

Out on the street again. That place I had was too good to be true. The renter laws in this town totally favor the landlord. Run a little late, bounce a check or two, and you come home to find all your possessions – in my case, stashed in three grocery bags – out on the sidewalk.

The good news is that I never actually paid the old woman anything. She comes from a time long ago when a man’s word was his bond. My bonds are all of the bail variety.

So I’m sitting in the Bush Street library, the ritziest in town. Except, just one computer. The head librarian does not want his patrons online. He’s another old one.

Now I’m at the Garden Branch library over by the university. Some kid is giving out free weed in front. I came here because the long line for the computer at Bush was getting pushy. Rich folks, don’t want the hoi polloi putting dirty fingers on their keyboard.

That grass is going right to my head. Now that it’s legal, who knows what street scenes will befall us.

The grass wasn’t exactly free, but I didn’t have to pay anything for it.

Now I’m down at the East First Street Branch. The university students at Garden Branch are a lot more fastidious than I remember college students being. Nobody is going to complain about that sort of thing down here. The busiest room in the place is the bathroom,  where the homeless clean up.

Now I’m off to look for the old Dale Carnegie book I used to read while waiting for the soup kitchen to open.

Anniversary: Battle of the Giants

Today’s the day, back in 2002, when the internet’s two largest like/follow spammers tangled.

It happened by accident and at its peak, the Web ground to a halt.

BeEnlightenedNowSir and GetRichLikeMe are now little remembered, but back in 2002, 80% of all blog posts were liked by one or both of them, and more than 90% of all blog sites were followed by one or both of them.

How the two got into an automated like/follow loop may never be known, but all like/follow stats were blown away before they were done that day.

BeEnlightenedNowSir was living at the time in a cold-water walkup on the south side of Brommist-on-Earm. GetRichLikeMe resided in a yurt on the hill with that water tank, overlooking Possum, Montana.

Banned from the Web, the two met in St. Moritz and blew through their wealth in epic fashion (they both made a billion online, from bloggers paying them to get lost). The couple died in each other’s arms from what the post mortems described as “extreme insults to the body.”


What is “Fake” Fake News?

This is the most common question I get these days on the blog (dark-net edition).

What it’s not:

  • Fake fake news is not un-fake or non-fake or true news.
  • Fake fake news is not very fake or extremely fake or awesomely fake news.

What it is:

  • Fake fake news is written or spoken material for which an individual or organization is paid in good faith, with the understanding that the product is genuine fake news, which it isn’t.
  • Fake fake news can be true or false; it can be news or nothing new; it might further the goals of directed fake news or have no effect whatsoever. Who the hell knows!?
  • Fake fake news is produced to make a buck (which is taken directly out of the pocket of the honest fake-news writer) or for a larf. It may be plagiarized from any source (in several cases the Bible). It may be generated by a random-word app or typed by a roomful of monkeys – no, the monkeys would never do that.

Don’t read it. Don’t listen to it. Do not abide it.

And that’s the truth. Or honest fake news.


Wednesday Weeks

Mrs. Weeks named her children Monday through Sunday, respectively. She stopped after seven, for obvious reasons.

Each child was required to minister to Mrs. Weeks specially on his or her day, taking on extra, onerous chores for the twenty-four hours. Consequently, Sunday Weeks came to hate the Church, Saturday Weeks came to hate social dancing, Friday Weeks came to hate fish, so forth.

Wednesday night was bingo night and due to her fatigue at the end of that day each week, Wednesday Weeks came to hate bingo. Nevertheless, in later life, she won a new Prius at the game.

[100 Word Challenge]

…you bought her what…

You bought her what?”
“I, as I told you, bought her what she needs.”
“Well, I bought, unlike what you bought, her what she wants.”
“Humph. I bought her, unlike what you bought her, what was best for her.”
“Tell me what you bought her. What?”
“Ha. I will tell you. Bought her…” What?”
“For her dog. Better than what you bought.” “Her what?”
“Her dog Betsy. Remember when you bought her? What a pet.”
“So wrong. You bought her what her pet wants.”

[100-Word Challenge for Grownups]

A Critique of “Drowning (A Story)” for the 100-Word Challenge

A link to Drowning (A Story).

A link to this 100-Word Challenge.

Reminder: A critique doesn’t have to be negative, which is good, because – I would not presume.


To the author: well done.

“Drowning” is an excellent 100-word story, assuming that it doesn’t bother you to read about someone going down in a plane and drowning.

A nit: Aquamarine waters swallowed the aeroplane as it descended.” Would not the waters swallow the plane after it descended, not as it descended? Of course, once immersed, the plane must still descend to the bottom, to become a tourist snorkeling-attraction once the bodies have been removed.

Also, a woman gets her neck wrung (she survives) and vases get broken, which might render the story inappropriate for younger readers.


Life in Hollywood: Advertising

Screenwriters sometimes write ad copy. An Australian friend asked me to have a go at something new for Aeroplane Jelly. He had been paid a big advance for a draft now due, but after a week with me in Hollywood, he was too drunk and disoriented to write anything. The subject came up as we drank at the Pole Cats Lounge in East L.A. A dancer there uses aquamarine Jello onstage. After she finishes, she comes down and acts innocent while administering lap dances to patrons aghast at the glob of it she still holds in her hand.

98 words. An entry in the 100 Word Challenge.


When I jogged, back in the day, I was alone with my thoughts. I’d think about work. I’d think about what I was writing. I’d practice moving meditation. I’d occasionally trip and fall. This was before running shoes were available on the market and the toes of my Keds would wear out, causing the soles to droop in front and catch in cracks in the sidewalk.

Then came the transistor radio, and if a game was on, it took precedence over thinking.

Then came the Walkman, and thinking was dealt a mortal blow. AM/FM and tape cassette, on a belt. I kept a list of the books on tape that I listened to, just for fun. By the time that I lost the list, it had more than 500 titles on it.

And then came the nano, and iTunes. Books joined thinking as activities several clicks down in my hierarchy of cerebral activities in which to be engaged while out on the hoof.

I still want to think. I want to listen to books. I do listen to a little music. I’m out there for more than two hours a day. But, just as I’ve got a list of Web sites to surf to every day, I’ve also got a list of podcasts that I don’t want to miss. Naturally, the list changes, evolves. It includes 50+ titles.

Uh oh. Metaphor-for-life alert. Time misspent, observing rather than doing? Listening rather than thinking? Ironically, I’m thinking now, but only about thinking. Is that productive thinking? Rats. Now I’m thinking about thinking about thinking, and what you’re thinking. Or wait, am I just observing myself? I tell myself, Listen to yourself! What the hell are you talking about? But that’s not lving life, it’s just analyzing it. Whew. All of a sudden I understand why I like listening to podcasts.

My current favorites:

Sports: Baseball Today; Bill Simmons; Hang Up and Listen

Movies: Filmspotting; The /Filmcast; B-Movie Cast; Kermode/Mayo

Politics: To the Point; Slate’s Political Gabfest; Left, Right, and Center

Other: Slate’s Culture Gabfest; On the Media; Comedy Bang Bang

I’ve also been listening to David Blight’s Yale lectures on the Civil War (iTunes University).

My Favorite Blogging Topics

I was born and raised high up on the side of a mountain where the sheeps eat their grass. I was quite grown before I met other people. Because of this, my main interest has always been other people and their ways.

My first blogging topic was my family. I wrote all I knew. I got my Uncle Louie arrested and sent away. This was when my folks told me I was dead to them, but I could still live in the house.

My second blogging topic was the neighbors. I wrote a lot about them, until the police made me stop hanging around under their windows.

My third blogging topic was the other kids at school. I wrote a lot about them. When the tragedy happened, I was accused of “bullying.”

My fourth blogging topic was when I was in prison. I wrote about the prisoners, especially the men on death row and what I learned and heard about them. Three of them were executed early because of my blog.

My fifth blogging topic was my wife. Because of firewalls or government laws and regulations or church groups or some other reason, my writings about our sexual life caused protests about behavior “that shamed nature.” My service provider threatened my life.

At this time, I am looking for a new topic. In fact, I’d like to write about  you.