Saturday, February 22

A dark but subtly patterned bird, the kind that looks generic from a distance and like an aliform tapestry-piece close up, landed on the rail beside me as I walked across the bridge the other day. We looked at one another and I asked if he was a bird of omen, but I never got a satisfactory answer.

Today is not even March, but it's the first real day of Spring. It's in our blood now. The ice is breaking up. I am muddy and perhaps a little sunburned and I can smell the thaw mixed with exhaust fumes and a cold breeze from somewhere outside the city.

particulate matter & other little bits

That is not a cigarette in my hand. It is, um, a rolled up ticket stub.

Via Electrolite, Ephemera is a San Francisco photoblog with a set of pictures of the couples married at city hall on February 15th. Beautiful.

There is absolutely no guarantee that the everyday bigotry of "Dude that's just fucking gross." and "Nothin' against gay people, but..." will be overcome in any lasting way, but occasionally it is balanced with a little hope.

I had genre dreams last night.

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who wants some?

Last night I dreamt about zombies. You know, the old-fashioned sluggish but almost unstoppable moaning and lurching and brain-eating kind of reanimated corpses that have lately been out of fashion in favor of faster, prettier deadly things. The kind of zombies which in most situations have to be incinerated or take a shot to the brain or something before they're incapacitated. My zombies borrowed a page from the Highlander universe and required complete decapitation before you could really be certain - even a bullet to the head wasn't always a sure kill.

Most of the population had been converted unawares to the undead, millions of plague victims in an ever-expanding circle slaughtered and reanimated within hours of contracting some strange pathogen. Only a select few were immune. We found ourselves in an apocalyptic semi-urban landscape partaking equally of Omaha, Lincoln, and rural Kansas. As the dream progressed it became obvious that not all of the zombies were mindless drones - some were possessed of nearly their normal mental capacities, altered only by a rabid desire for human brain tissue. Others seemed determined to go about the normal routines of their lives, in their mumbling, crippled, stop-motion fashion.

For a time - weeks, or perhaps months, we holed up in a gutted house, food supplies dwindling. First the electricity died, and then the water. Occasionally one of our number would contract the plague, or venture outside and be overwhelmed. We all carried machetes or long, serrated knives like the kind of saw on the end of a long pole you use to trim tree branches, only heavier. Brutal skirmishes with packs of zombies became almost routine. There was enormous tension between the survivors - by the end we were almost as afraid of one another as of the hordes of prowling undead outside the house. Eventually it became obvious that the zombies were actually tunneling under the street and into the basement, and would break through at any moment.

After I escaped the house, alone as far as I know, I wandered the streets in the permanent twilight for some vast stretch of time. Humanity was effectively dead, and its reanimated corpse had settled into strangely familiar patterns of existence. Its activity was a horrible parody of the living social order; like some kind of giant decaying organic clockwork, slowly running down. Eventually, I ran into Steven Pinker.

Like myself, the author of The Blank Slate and The Language Instinct had been the last survivor of a besieged enclave of living humanity, had barely escaped with his life and now roamed the wreckage of civilization, destroying the undead like so many cockroaches. And yet, his movements possessed more purpose than mine. He never explained, but he seemed to believe that there was some kind of hope. Also, he had a car, and so I joined him. We drove through darkening gray streets lit only by the demonic red glow of stoplights. There were hills, and parks full of dying trees. Once we did battle in an empty parking lot somewhere in Kansas City. We rescued a little girl who had somehow had the strength to fight off the plague and escape being eaten by her zombified parents.

About then I woke up.