Sunday, July 30

book

Back in March, I started working on a dead-trees collection of poems from p1k3 + some poems of CarolAnn's + some random stuff we wrote one night while drinking Jameson. My idea at the time was that it'd be less than 50 pages and I'd print a bunch of copies using a cheap print-on-demand source and mail them to people.

I made a few notes about the process here.

As it turns out, the document is more like 76 pages, and every time I've had a couple hundred bucks to spend it's gone for frivolous crap like rent and groceries. (All right, you caught me: I also bought booze. And concert tickets, on no fewer than 3 separate occasions. All flesh is weak.)

Anyhow, it's more or less done. You can buy a copy here for ten bucks. I'm calling this a 1.0 release, although properly speaking I think it's more of a final beta, since I'm going to put an excerpt on the back cover and might change the title. Content-wise it's done, and I've got a copy on the way for purposes of Really Seriously Final Proofing.

If anyone's interested, all the source files are available.

Sunday, July 23

(fragmentary, posted much later)

Landscape: I just drove to deep southwest Kansas, the part of the state which most closely approximates the world's limited conception of what the word "Kansas" signifies. It contains, I suspect, some of the flattest landscapes on the surface of the planet. Utility poles and two-lane roads recede to vanishing points on a horizon studded with grain elevators. The edge of the world often dissolves into heat-mirage blur.

Along one hundred and sixty miles of highway: The towns of Garden City, Scott City, Sublette, and Liberal; two empty quonsets; three feedlots; the open sheds of a large dairy operation; a Doppler radar installation. Mennonite churches and women in plain dresses.

I think it is difficult to judge the true scope and scale of the human-built structure on America's surface. Western Kansas is vast and, in a sense, empty. The population density is low and likely dropping fast. Like nearly everywhere I've been on the rural Great Plains, small towns are abandoned along their edges and rotting slowly from within. Some seem to exist primarily because of their isolation — local lumberyards and low-end Wal-Mart analogues like Duckwalls surviving in that space just below the threshold of profitability for the big chain stores. Truckstops, co-ops, and farm supplies.

All of this is deceptive, in a way, because it becomes easy to ignore the vast changes imposed by settlement and agriculture on a landscape which was once drastically different. Heading south on highway 83 just after dark, we were puzzled by dozens of pinpoint strobe lights flashing in the middle distance and along the horizon. Eventually it became obvious: Each flasher marked the center point of an irrigation pivot.

Sunday, July 16

talking july nebraska blues

It's near hot as hell with no sign of relenting, and hasn't rained since early May. The well's going dry; pivots are running twenty-four hours everywhere. On a still day, trucks passing on the gravel road raise dust that hangs for hours, settling in grooves of bleached-out landscape like dirt in fingerprints. When wind picks up we all yearn to the north, like saplings planted ten years ago in a season of wild south wind.
This morning I found the fading body of a robin at the feet of an apple tree. He had stolen blueberries before he died, wings beating wide-alive at the morning when there was still dew.

— CarolAnn

saturday, july 15

it's after midnight
on the window screen, a mantis
tears the wings from a small moth
this is a land of things which catch
and devour
at least two species of wasp specialize
in the paralysis of spiders
there are many spiders
mornings, the grass is full of
webs silvered with condensation and
low-angled light
in the kitchen, a spindly arachnid
litters a corner of our table with
the wreckage of its prey
weeks ago there were many such spiders
now there is only one
which has grown much larger.

Friday, July 14

cultural conservatism

  • Microwave popcorn is an abomination.
  • The heavy white Ma Bell rotary phone had better sound quality than anything I have used since.
  • Emotionally, I do not really believe in forms of winter heat which do not involve burning pieces of trees.
  • Nothing in the ill-advised, mythos-betraying prequels looked cooler than the costumes, muppets, and models of episodes IV-VI.
  • Religiously motivated vilification of Darwinism was more interesting when its foremost practitioners talked about Loch Ness and argued from Job that man had shared the earth with dinosaurs.

Monday, July 10

amplitude modulation

Crackpot radio has been an occasional preoccupation of mine for years. When I was in highschool, I always felt a kind of horrified fascination at the work of James Dobson and his spiritual kinfolk. Even when the closest things I had to a political philosophy were contempt for authority and a certainty that the Communications Decency Act was a bad idea, Christian radio seemed like a channel of pure unreason and singular viciousness.

In college, I used to spend the drive home listening to things like Coast to Coast. Psychic vampires and spirit photography just have more depth and emotional resonance when you're driving county road blacktop at 1:00 in the morning in Nebraska, I guess.

The last month or so, bored on the way to work, I've come back to horrified fascination. Like the explicitly Christian segment of the market, "secular" talk radio has been a cesspool for as long as I can remember, but I think that some sort of threshold has been crossed. The Colorado AM dial is a thriving, cross-pollinating, constantly mutating ecosystem of evil thought.

It's like the relatively mainstream nexii of Dobson-Robertson-Wildmon-Kennedy and FOX-Limbaugh-Savage-Ingram are poles between which some dark current now flows through the rotting shit-heap of America's quasi-independent backchannel media, re-animating thousands of zombie ideologues and spawning more with each passing instant.

For much of this stuff to qualify as crypto-fascist, it would have to make a serious pretense at being anything else. The rest (Randroid Bible-thumping New World Order conspiracy theorists who hate the IRS? Can I get a what-the-fuck?) is too weird to pin down, but no less frightening for the jarring dissimilarity of its superficial elements.

Tuesday, July 4

some interesting things which have happened lately

  • A small brown lizard has taken up residence on the ledge just outside my bedroom window.
  • A praying mantis is living on the window screen by the computer desk, catching moths.
  • The other night, we caught this huge beetle with really long antennae.
  • This morning I saw a hummingbird.