Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Today's Word for Today's Word of the Day

Polyisocyanurate (STYE-ruh-FOAM)

From the Latin "polyiso-" meaning "fake," "cyan" meaning "blue," and "-urate" meaing "stuff."

Used as roofing insulation. R-19 is about yay thick. It comes in colors besides blue, as well.


I'm sick of being sick. I wake up every morning with a sore throat and a cough. That's it. That's all I have left. And I'm sick of it. For the past week, I've been sleeping propped up with a bunch of pillows to drain the passages, but I'm just about getting bedsores from sleeping in one position so much. So I don't. So I turn over on my side during the night and lo and behold that's the side of my throat that's the most sore in the morning.


Green Desert - Chapter 5.2.2 - Bhanar

Séara must not have ever taken a life before. Neither had I, but I wasn’t a cop. She cried onto Pí‘oro’s chest, her body spasming with sobs.

I was getting thirsty. I had to help her, though.

Zhíno watched as I walked over to beside Séara, hunkered down, and laid my arm across her back, squeezed her shoulder. “It will be okay, Séara. Everything will be okay.”

She kept crying.

“He was about to kill me. You did your job. You saved my life. You did what you were instructed to do.”

She jerked upright, throwing my arm off her, and glared at me from less than a foot away. Her red eyes flowed angry tears down her contorted face. “I was instructed to disable a threat, not kill him. I was instructed to shoot his leg. I aimed for his leg.” She collapsed into my waiting arms and cried into my bare shoulder, her face warm and wet against my skin.

I hugged her tight, rubbed her back. “It will be okay.” Wow. She’d aimed for his leg and hit his guts. With that kind of aim, how had she ever gotten out of training? “It will be okay.”

Over Séara’s shoulder, I looked at Zhíno, but he wouldn’t meet my gaze. He stared at the dirt.

Séara’s sobs quieted down to a whimper, only crying. I patted her back gently. “Let’s go sit in the shade. Rest.” We stood up, me supporting much of her weight. As we walked, I said over my shoulder, “Zhíno, bring the body.”

Monday, January 30, 2006

Go figure: Hamas wants money

From the "well, duh" page of the newspaper: Hamas urges continuation of funding.

Did you really think they'd say, "Oh, no. We have plenty of money. You can keep those billions of dollars." The PA is flat broke, but even if they were rolling in gold bullion, do you really think they'd turn down money?

Green Desert - Chapter 5.2.1 - Irézí

“That’s right, Taíséma!” I gave the camera smile number seven––pensive excitement. “I’m standing in front of the home of Pí‘oro and Vata Kılímo, where the police are inside at this very moment questioning Mrs. Kılímo about her recent run-in with the prime suspect in last night’s killing of State Patrol Officer Vakıgéda.” I switched my smile to number two––heartfelt sorrow––but only momentarily.

Past Nıléké and his camera, I saw the two stupid urbanites crowding closer. At least they were silent now. Behind me, a patrolman wandered around, feet crunching gravel.

On my headphone, I heard the idiot deskjockey ask, “Have you seen any indications that the suspect is in the house or nearby?”

I knew Taíséma––and the viewers––could see the patrolman. Did she think he looked worried about a nearby gunman?

Smile number seven remained. “No, Taíséma. He appears to have fled the area. But I’m sure he gave Mrs. Kılímo quite a fright today.” Smile three––knowledgeable friend. “This is the same house where the suspect had a shootout with a sheriff’s deputy last night after the murder.”

The patrolman’s footsteps grew louder.

In my ear, the bitch asked, “Do you have any new information to give us?”

“Excuse me, miss.” The patrolman.

I turned to face him, briefly flashing smile twelve––happy with a hint of sexy. Nıléké walked sideways to capture both of us better on camera. Before I could ask the officer anything, he said, “Could you move your van?”

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Happy New Year!

How many times have I said that in the past few months? It seems like every week, there's a new New Year's to celebrate. . .

But this one's different. This one has a billion people shooting off fireworks. This one is the Lunar New Year. Sunday begins the Year of the Dog. The Fire Dog! Year 4703!

Up until a few minutes ago, I thought it was the Year of the Wood Dog, but I checked and found out I was wrong. Apparently the 60-year cycle doesn't go through all the animals each element, but instead does them in pairs: Earth Tiger, Earth Rabbit, Metal Dragon, Metal Snake, Water Horse, Water Goat, Wood Monkey, Wood Rooster, and now Fire Dog.

Hm... I was born in the year of the Fire Dragon. Pretty impressive, huh? Just picking a couple other years at random, 1948 was the Earth Rat and 1974 was the Wood Tiger. I wonder if Chinese astrology somehow makes those sound as good as Fire Dragon. . .

Green Desert - Chapter 5.1.5 - Fírí

“No, should I have seen them?” Whoever Séara was, they’d apparently gone chasing after us. They’d taken the horse. But why no saddle? That was just stupid.

“Bhanar went out the window after you. Séara––Deputy Nulıpésha––ran out the front door but I don’t think she’s here any longer. Not from what Deputy Laparıpasamı said.”

I nodded. The police had hunted us, tracked us down. If the deputy had been on the horse, that meant she’d captured Pí‘oro and Zhíno. Served them right. I hoped the fat bastard resisted arrest and got shot. That would serve him right for raping me.

Vata turned away, shuffled back toward the house.

“Please hurry,” I whispered loudly. “This toe really, really hurts.” But I didn’t think she heard me.

I sat down on a sturdy footstool. The horse in the other stall flicked its tail.

Okay. So how was I going to get the police to return during the sacrifice? If I was out cold on the slab, I could hardly be the one to call them. That would leave too much to chance. The old woman may not have a dick, but she could still violate me.

The plan wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t rely on Vata. I had to do it myself. I had to tell the police my story––the whole thing. Well, except for the gun smuggling. They didn’t need to know about that.

I stood up and limped out of the stable. Across the yard, the screen door slammed shut. The animals ignored me as I stumbled through their midst.

“Hey!” I hurried toward the door. “Police! Hey!”

Friday, January 27, 2006

Fire in the Sky

I messed around with the balance and contrast on some of my photos that I use for desktop images. Here's my first and favorite:


It's from the Hyak snow camping trip four weeks ago. You can see the other ones I kept at my Flickr page. I've dubbed them "album covers" because . . . well . . . because that's what they look like to me.

And, just for kicks, here's the original of that pic:


Katrina hurts non-poor hardest!

A Brown University professor cross-referenced FEMA damage maps with U.S. Census data and discovered these data: "the storm-damaged areas had been 75 percent black, compared to 46 percent black in undamaged areas of the city" and "29 percent of the households in damaged areas lived below the poverty line, compared with 24 percent of households in undamaged areas."

Of course, the news article proclaims that Hurricane Katrina hurt blacks and the poor much greater than non-blacks and non-poor. But really, now. 29% and 24% are statistically equal to each other, at least when compared to the 75% vs. 46%. The hurricane didn't hit poor neighborhoods. It damaged majority-black neighborhoods. Maybe the mayor and his cronies made those levees break because he's a racist. . . Nah. Well, yes, but no.

Anyway. . .

The point that I'm trying to make is that even if you claimed all the poor in the whole city were black (absurd), the storm-damaged areas would be 29% poor black, 25% non-black, and 46% non-poor black. The non-damaged areas would be 24% poor black, 54% non-black, and 22% non-poor black.

So Hurricane Katrina actually singled out neighborhoods with above-average levels of non-poor blacks!

Maybe somebody is trying to keep them down, after all. . .

Oh, and by the way, not many of any of them are moving back anytime soon. But who can blame them?


The high temperature today for Fairbanks, Alaska, is predicted to be -35 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, I typed that right: negative 35! For a *high*! Why do they even bother measuring at that point? If any non-Americans are reading this, that translates to -37 degrees Centigrade.

Maybe by February, it will get above -20 F.

. . . Remind me why anybody lives there?

Green Desert - Chapter 5.1.4 - Bhanar

The policewoman leapt to Pí‘oro’s side, knocking Zhíno out of the way. She immediately started chest compressions, stiff-arming all her weight onto his heart, over and over and over again. A rib cracked.

Zhíno lay sprawled on his back. “I told you it’s not going to work. Even if you get his heart going for a second, he’ll just die again a second later. His veins have no blood.”

Séara kept pumping, her face a stiff grimace. Another rib snapped. “Séara, please.”

She looked up at me, still pounding Pí‘oro’s dead body. Her face was contorted with rage and exertion. Sweat ran down her cheeks.
Zhíno grabbed her shoulders. “Séara!” He pulled her backwards and they tumbled over.

“Let go of me!”

“He’s dead, Séara. Let him be.”

“No!” She wrestled free, put a hand to the old man’s neck. It had to be cold. There couldn’t be a pulse.

She collapsed onto the body, her long ponytail falling across Pí‘oro’s immobile face. “I’m sorry,” she sobbed. “I didn’t mean to.” Her whole body convulsed.

I looked at Zhíno. He started towards Séara, hands reaching for her shoulders, but he stopped. He bit his lip in a snarl and threw up his hands in a violent shrug. I didn’t know how to console her either. All I wanted to do was thank her.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Marketing Marketing Marketing!

When word-of-mouth isn't cutting it anymore, what are you going to do? How about handing out business cards?

That's what
one crack dealer decided would be a good idea. He got them printed up with his phone number, address, slogan ("For a quick hit on time call the boss."), and even a logo of a boxing glove hitting an alarm clock (Get it? "Hit" on "time"!).

After arresting him, the police had these wonderful words of wisdom: "It makes our job considerably easier when they advertise and let us know where to get ahold of them."

Australia Day, part 2

And, to continue the celebration of Australia Day, here's another bit of Aussie culture. . . Monty Python style:

Wine Expert: A lot of people in this country pooh-pooh Australian table wines. This is a pity as many fine Australian wines appeal not only to the Australian palate but also to the cognoscenti of Great Britain.

Black Stump Bordeaux is rightly praised as a peppermint flavoured Burgundy, whilst a good Sydney Syrup can rank with any of the world's best sugary wines.Château Blue, too, has won many prizes; not least for its taste, and its lingering afterburn.

Old Smokey 1968 has been compared favourably to a Welsh claret, whilst the Australian Wino Society thoroughly recommends a 1970 Coq du Rod Laver, which, believe me, has a kick on it like a mule: 8 bottles of this and you're really finished. At the opening of the Sydney Bridge Club, they were fishing them out of the main sewers every half an hour.

Of the sparkling wines, the most famous is Perth Pink. This is a bottle with a message in, and the message is 'beware.' This is not a wine for drinking, this is a wine for laying down and avoiding.

Another good fighting wine is Melbourne Old-and-Yellow, which is particularly heavy and should be used only for hand-to-hand combat.

Quite the reverse is true of Château Chunder, which is an appellation contrôlée, specially grown for those keen on regurgitation; a fine wine which really opens up the sluices at both ends.

Real emetic fans will also go for a Hobart Muddy, and a prize winning Cuivre Reserve Château Bottled Nuit San Wogga Wogga, which has a bouquet like an aborigine's armpit.

Australia Day

I suppose I should've posted this yesterday, because it's almost tomorrow in Aussieland, but oh well. Happy Australia Day!

Fourth Bruce: Gentleman, I'd like to introduce a man from Pommeyland who is joinin' us this year in the philosophy department at the University of Walamaloo.

Everybruce: G'day!

Michael: Hello.

Fourth Bruce: Michael Baldwin, Bruce. Michael Baldwin, Bruce. Michael Baldwin, Bruce.

First Bruce: Is your name not Bruce?

Michael: No, it's Michael.

Second Bruce: That's going to cause a little confusion.

Third Bruce: Mind if we call you "Bruce" to keep it clear?

Fourth Bruce: Gentlemen, I think we better start the faculty meeting. Before we start, though, I'd like to ask the padre for a prayer.

First Bruce: Oh Lord, we beseech Thee, Amen!!

Everybruce: Amen!

Fourth Bruce: Crack tubes! (Sound of cans opening) Now I call upon Bruce to officially welcome Mr. Baldwin to the philosophy faculty.

Second Bruce: I'd like to welcome the pommey bastard to God's own Earth, and remind him that we don't like stuck-up sticky-beaks here.

Everybruce: Hear, hear! Well spoken, Bruce!

Fourth Bruce: Bruce here teaches classical philosophy, Bruce there teaches Haegelian philosophy, and Bruce here teaches logical positivism. And is also in charge of the sheep dip.

Third Bruce: What's New-Bruce going to teach?

Fourth Bruce: New-Bruce will be teaching political science, Machiavelli, Bentham, Locke, Hobbes, Sutcliffe, Bradman, Lindwall, Miller, Hassett, and Benaud.

Second Bruce: Those are all cricketers!

Fourth Bruce: Aw, spit!

Third Bruce: Hails of derisive laughter, Bruce!

Everybruce: Australia, Australia, Australia, Australia, we love you amen!

Fourth Bruce: Crack tube! (Sound of cans opening) Any questions?

Second Bruce: New-Bruce, are you a Poofter?

Fourth Bruce: Are you a Poofter?

Michael: No!

Fourth Bruce: No. Right, I just want to remind you of the faculty rules: Rule One!

No Poofters!

Fourth Bruce: Rule Two, no member of the faculty is to maltreat the Abbos in any way at all -- if there's anybody watching. Rule Three?

Everybruce: No Poofters!!

Fourth Bruce: Rule Four, now this term, I don't want to catch anybody not drinking. Rule Five,

Everybruce: No Poofters!

Fourth Bruce: Rule Six, there is NO ... Rule Six. Rule Seven,

Everybruce: No Poofters!!

Fourth Bruce: Right, that concludes the readin' of the rules. Bruce.

First Bruce: This here's the wattle, the emblem of our land. You can stick it in a bottle, you can hold it in your hand.

Everybruce: Amen!

Green Desert - Chapter 5.1.3 - Fírí

I hobbled over to the horse stable. Vata noticed the bloody bandage around my toe. Maybe I could use that against her, get her to sacrifice a chicken or something and have the police see what she’s doing.

What was I thinking? I couldn’t let her kill and innocent chicken. Absolutely not. My stomach roiled at the though.

I stepped into the shade. Cool relief. But maybe if the cops found out just before the chicken was hurt and they stopped Vata from killing it.

The old woman finally made it over to me. She looked worried. Her cheek twitched. Her eyes were slits.

“Can you help me with my toe?”

“Where’s Pí‘oro?”

“Back in the gully. I tripped on a rock and pulled back a big flap of flesh right by the nail. Lots of blood.”

She glanced at my foot. “The police are here. They’re looking for you. I told them you and Zhíno went east. Is Pí‘oro coming back, too?” The old woman shook slightly. Her voice seemed weak.

I decided she needed to hear a lie. Get her motivated. “Yes. I took the horse. Pí‘oro is walking. We left Zhíno there.” Another lie: “He woke up.”

Vata breathed a sigh of relief, her whole body relaxing. “You stay here, dear. I’ll get the police to leave. Stop Pí‘oro when you see him. They were asking questions about him, too.” She started turning, but stopped and looked back at me with her steel-gray eyes. “Did you see Séara or Bhanar?”

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

French homicide solved . . . sort of

French police have been working on a homicide for the past couple years. A woman's skeleton with a large gash in its head was discovered on a Brittany beach in December 2003.

They've finally pinpointed the time of death to somewhere in the range of A.D. 1401 to A.D. 1453. Yup, it happened centuries ago. They're blaming pirates.

What I want to know is this: Why doesn't the French government force the descendants of the pirates to pay reparations to the descendants of the victim? I think it's the only fair thing to do.

The dreaded Viscusablutia virus

It seems like everyone I know has or recently has had the same thing I've got. Apparently I have a month of runny nose and coughing ahead of me.

But no! I won't let it happen! I'll drink hot water. I'll suppress my urge to cough. Coughing just makes the tickling throat worse.

At least I got my hearing back. . .

Green Desert - Chapter 5.1.2 - Bhanar

I climbed up the slope, tucking Zhíno’s handgun into my shorts. I wouldn’t let it out of my sight again, that was for damn sure. Two of these fuckers had tried to kill me in the last twenty-four hours and it was not going to happen again.

A loud rustling in the bushes, branches snapping, trees shaking. I got to the top and saw Séara struggling with an inch-thick tree, trying to push it over, step on it, break it. It bent.

“What are you doing?”

She looked at me, stomping on the tree. “Poles for a stretcher.”

Wishful thinking. Pí‘oro looked dead. Ghostly. His gut, where it showed around the bandage and spilled blood, was dark purple. His face, though, was white. I had an urge to shoot him in the head, put him down. Zhíno knelt beside the old man. I had an urge to shoot Zhíno in the head, too. He got me into this mess. It was all his Pétíso-damned fault. The bastard’s apology wasn’t worth shit.

The naked man looked toward Séara, who was still futilely fighting the tree. “He’s dead.”

I smiled.

Séara froze, he black boot atop the horizontal tree trunk. “Are you sure?”

“No pulse. No breathing.”

“Try CPR!”

Zhíno sank back on his heels. “It won’t help.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

For your next roadtrip

Here's a good idea for your next roadtrip: adult diapers. No need to stop every 200 miles! Just keep going and . . . going.

Apparently, the Chinese are
buying them in mass quantities for their journeys home this holiday season.

Ow! My eyes!

The sun! It's so bright! My eyes! They hurt! Where'd I leave my sunglasses?! Oh, right! They're at home!

And my right ear is clogged up today. . .

Green Desert - Chapter 5.1.1 - Fírí

The ride was taking forever. The horse was getting tired, I could tell. I should water it before I did anything else, when I got where it was taking me.

Eventually, over the scattered brush, I spotted the top of a stucco house that looked a lot like that of the Kılímos’. Was this their horse? It must’ve followed us. Did we leave the gate open? Soon I saw that the gate was closed. It was the Kılímos’ house. Same menagerie.

I slowed the horse to a trot, then a walk. “Good horsey, good horsey.”

It stopped near the gate and I slid off its back––careful to land on my right foot. A pig and a couple dogs came to the gate, watching me. A smaller pig joined them, snorting and whimpering.

I unlatched the gate, pointing my finger at the animals within. “Stay.” A dog walked forward. “Stay!”

The horse crowded me from behind, breathing hot on my neck. I could almost taste its slobber.

I shooed the dogs with my bandaged foot and stepped aside for the horse to squeeze through. It walked directly to a trough and started drinking.

The house door opened. Vata stared at me, glanced back inside and said something I couldn’t hear. She stepped outside, closing the door behind her and leaving her slippers on the stoop. She pointed toward the horse stalls but said nothing. Who was inside? The cops? They must be looking for me and Zhíno. But maybe if I told them about the Kılímos, they’d let me go. If I told the cops about the kidnapping, the drugging, the animal sacrifice, and the raping, they might just let me go.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Green Desert - Chapter 4

(back to Chapter 3)

4.1.1 - Bhanar
4.1.2 - Fírí
4.1.3 - Bhanar
4.1.4 - Fírí
4.1.5 - Bhanar
4.2.1 - Sétıpímo
4.2.2 - Fírí
4.2.3 - Bhanar
4.2.4 - Sétıpímo
4.2.5 - Vata
4.2.6 - Fírí
4.3.1 - Bhanar
4.3.2 - Sétıpímo
4.3.3 - Vata
4.3.4 - Fírí
4.3.5 - Umo
4.4.1 - Bhanar
4.4.2 - Sétıpímo
4.4.3 - Zhíno
4.4.4 - Vata
4.4.5 - Fírí
4.4.6 - Umo
4.5.1 - Bhanar
4.5.2 - Sétıpímo
4.5.3 - Séara
4.5.4 - Zhíno
4.5.5 - Vata
4.6.1 - Fírí
4.6.2 - Umo
4.6.3 - Bhanar
4.6.4 - Sétıpímo
4.6.5 - Séara
4.6.6 - Zhíno

On to Chapter 5!

Don't trust fortune cookies

Last week, I got a fortune cookie that said, "Health and happiness are coming your way." And then I got a cold. Blech.

Happy Unhappiest Day!

Psychologists have discovered that today, the Monday closest to January 24, is the unhappiest day of the year. Reasons include "post-Christmas blues, the return to work after the holidays, mounting bills to pay for the parties, the challenge of keeping New Year's resolutions, the slender prospects of fun in the weeks ahead and chilly winter temperatures."

But don't worry. It's only five months till the happiest day of the year, June 23, which is a Friday, of course.

Green Desert - Chapter 4.6.6 - Zhíno

“No fucking way,” exclaimed the foreign kid. He started setting the old man down and I had to, too.

“We have to try,” I retorted. “We can’t just leave him to die.” I knelt beside him, pressing on the bullet wound.

The dark-haired guy pointed down to the gully. “He tried to kill me, you know? I am not . . . inclined to help him now.”

Pí‘oro’s face was growing pale. Even if we ran with him, he’d die at the current rate.

The brunette just stood there. The kid turned away.

I was glad my life wasn’t in his hands after he shot me. After I shot at him. To his bare back, I said, “I’m sorry I shot at you. I’m sorry I got you into this mess.” I was, truly. I didn’t mean to get him involved. He had nothing to do with any of this. Then again, neither had Pí‘oro.

The foreigner ran back down into the gully.

“Bhanar!” shouted the cop.

“Forget him. Help me with Mr. Kılímo.”

She looked down at me. “What do you need?”

I couldn’t hold this wadded-up tshirt there forever. “I need something to tie around his waist, hold the bandage on.”

She knelt down opposite me. “Let’s use his shirt.” She started unbuttoning the cotton shirt.

I had to lift up the tshirt briefly to get Pí‘oro’s shirt off. A mess of bloody, torn, indescribable organs stared up at me from the hole.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Semi-Intelligent Poetry

All y'all like those fridge-magnet poems, right? Here's an interesting idea now in development: a computerized version that can be taught rudimentary grammar (good or bad). So instead of "Man fry seven mouse," it will change itself to read "Man fries seven mice" or maybe "Man fried seven mice" or "Men fry seven mice," depending on how it's been taught by your previous word choices. Mmm... fried mice...

And they also hope to have a way for different sets to talk to each other and riff on what the other one says. Pretty soon, you won't have to move the words around at all. Well, except to force a piece to show a random new word. For that, you have to take it off the fridge and shake it.

Happy Martian New Year!

Don't forget that tomorrow is the Spring Equinox on Mars. Thus, depending on what Martian calendar you're following, today is New Year's Eve!

Or maybe tomorrow is New Year's Eve, depending on the leap year scheme of your calendar, and *Sunday* is New Year's Day.


Whether it be year 211, 0003, or 17, may the next 669 sols be good for you!

Green Desert - Chapter 4.6.5 - Séara

The horse wasn’t there. I spotted her tracks, wandering eastward. I followed carefully. Human footprints––bare feet. Right by a big rock, right by where the horse started cantering.


The girlfriend, the blonde. I’d ignored her and look what happened. We’d never get Mr. Kılímo to a hospital in time. “Pétíso-damned idiot.”

I breathed deep, repeatedly. We had to save Mr. Kılímo. I couldn’t let him die. I shot him. I couldn’t let him die.

I turned and ran back. Stabilize him. Improvise a stretcher. Something, anything to keep him alive and get him out of the desert.

The two men had him halfway up the slope.

“Do you need any help?” Through clenched teeth, Zhudıro said, “We got him.”

They each had their shoulder under an armpit, the old man’s feet dragging. Zhudıro pressed his hand on the bloody cloth over the wound. The wound I caused. The wound that would take a life.

I stepped back as they got near the top. Both men panted heavily. Mr. Kılímo groaned.

Bhanar looked up, around. “Where is the horse?”

“Gone.” I shook my head. “The blonde took it.”

Zhudıro glanced at me sharply. “How do you know it was her?”

“I don’t. But the horse is gone. We need to carry Mr. Kılímo back to the highway.”

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Vicusablutia is the new name for Washington. We are Vicusablutians now. Vicus = town, abluo = to wash. Geddit?

Think it will catch on?

Green Desert - Chapter 4.6.4 - Sétıpímo

I flipped on the siren and the dashboard red-and-green lights as I turned out of the station parking lot. Main Street was almost empty, as usual for late afternoon. Drivers got out my way and I raced down the street at seventy kilometers per hour.

Eyes on the road, I turned on the radio, picked up the microphone. “Dispatch? This is Detective Marıdarı. Has Deputy Laparıpasamı checked in yet?”

A blat of static came out the speaker, followed by a scratch voice. “Yes. Deputy Laparıpasamı is at the Kılímo residence. The state patrol are there, too, he said.” Another blat of static.

“Thank you.” I hung up the microphone.

With the state patrol there, maybe he and Nulıpésha didn’t need my help. But I sure wanted to be there when they brought in Zhudıro. I hoped nothing serious was going on, but nothing else explained the delay.

I passed the last gas station. I never remembered how far out the Kılímos lived. It was like they didn’t want to associate with anyone. No, that wasn’t fair. Vata played bridge with Hérına and the girls every week.

I saw their small stucco house off the road ahead of me. Enough cars sat in the driveway and along the road, it looked like the bridge game was here today. I turned left into the driveway, right at the Channel Six News.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Mandatory recycling is against my beliefs.

Mandatory recycling is against my beliefs. What beliefs are those, you ask? What doctrine could possibly be against saving the planet?

I'm a Captialist.

First off, I'm not against recycling, just against mandatory recycling, such as we now have in Seattle. Our authoritarian government has seen fit to dictate our behaviors without regard to the cost inflicted upon the region's economy, society, and environment.

Either recycling paper and plastic and aluminum is a viable business, or it isn't. If it is, and the recyclers are actually making money from selling raw materials to producers, then why aren't they paying *me*? They're getting everyone to do the garbage sorting for them, for free! Surely if this trash paper, etc. is worth something, they'd be willing to pay for it.

But why should they pay, when the Environmentalists have brainwashed everyone to believe that recycling is good?

If recycling isn't a viable business, why are we throwing so much money/time/energy/petrochemicals/pollution into such a boondoggle?

Either way, I'm not impressed.

Assisted Suicide for Everyone

Go read what Mr. ScrappleFace has to say today. Funny stuff about killing people. No, really.

Green Desert - Chapter 4.6.3 - Bhanar

I wasn’t dead. I hadn’t been shot. I was alive.

“Help him!”

I turned toward the voice. Zhíno, still facedown on the ground. Séara standing with feet spread, gun in both hands and pointing at the ground.

Pí‘oro lay bleeding in front of me. His hands glistened crimson. I dropped the gun away from him and bent over to look at his wound. Right in the gut. Right in the side of the gut. Sideways through him. Nasty wound. Massive internal bleeding. He needed medical attention now. “Why did you shoot his guts?” A leg wound would have stopped him. Or a shoulder if possible. But never a gut shot.

Séara stood over me. “Apply pressure to the wound.”

I took off my shirt––Zhíno’s shirt––and lifted Pí‘oro’s hands to press against the gaping hole. “It will not be enough. He needs a hospital.”

The old man groaned.

“Lift him. We’ll put him on the horse.”

There’s no way I was going to lift a man Pí‘oro’s size by myself. “Zhíno, come here.”

The scruffy-looking blond scrambled over to us, still as naked as a newt. Then again, I was only underwear and shorts ahead of him. I grabbed Pí‘oro’s lower shoulder and pushed him to a sitting position. He moaned loudly.

“Twice in one day,” I muttered. Always carrying Pí‘oro.
Zhíno grabbed his other shoulder. Séara had disappeared.
“On three. One, two, lift!”

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oh my god*

A guy gets sent to prison. He gets sick. Rumors of his death reach his family. They have a funeral for him. He gets out of prison. He returns home.

And his family kicks him out because they think he's a ghost. I don't understand it. He even has his feet on forward!

Yama, in this case

Pluto rocket launch

NASA will be launching their New Horizons probe to Pluto in a few minutes (1:34 p.m. EST). APL (who's running the science part) has a webcam of the launchpad. Go watch!

It'll be several years before anything else interesting happens on this mission. . .

UPDATE: Make that 2:30 p.m. EST. . .

UPDATE 2: Any moment. Any moment . . . now.

UPDATE 3: Okay, maybe tomorrow.

And now for a joke

I don't really like jokes that involve stereotypes, but this one is good. Apologies in advance.

TigerHawk has a link to the best blonde joke ever.

Happy Vítí Day!

I'm sure you knew, but I thought I'd remind you that today's the Holy Day of Vítí, the Goddess of Snow and Ice. Which must be why it finally stopped raining.

May it always be cold and wet.

Um. . .

Today's also Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday. Way to go, old man! Oh? He's not still alive? That's so sad.

Green Desert - Chapter 4.6.2 - Umo

Three police cars, a tan sedan, a white minivan, a blue pickup truck, and now the news van turning up the gravel driveway. I didn’t see a house number or a mailbox, but this had to be the place. I pulled off the road and parked behind the sedan. The news van stopped behind two of the cop cars, blocking them nicely.

“Act curious,” I told Lango as we got out.

A family car heading into Tuhanı slowed as it passed us, everyone inside gawking toward the house and the Channel 6 van. I crossed the road slowly, hands in my pockets, head cocked to the side, a slight smile on my face. Lango looked his normal self, which would have to do.

Way up by the house, a state patrolman strode briskly to his cruiser. The Channel Six crew set up beside their van, cameraman fussing and newsgirl primping. Two men raised the tall antenna.
The patrolman got in his car. I hoped he didn’t think he could leave––not unless he could navigate through the brush and boulders. His car was closest to the house.

The newsgirl saw me and Lango first, when we were twenty yards away. Her shoulders slumped.

As we kept walking, I called out, “Hello!” and waved. “What’s going on?”

She gestured to the cameraman and turned away. The skinny man with the big video camera looked at us. “We’re about to start filming, guys, so can you just stand back and be quiet.” It wasn’t a question.

“Why do we have to be quiet?” asked Lango.

I hissed, “I said to act curious, not stupid.”

Monday, January 16, 2006

Be careful what you ask for

A couple in Chimacum, Washington, were trying to fix a problem with their 2003 taxes, so they asked the IRS to send them a copy of the 2003 1040 instructions.

What they got instead was 24,000 copies of the 2005 1040 instructions. And two days later, UPS had another 24,000 copies to deliver to them, but thankfully caught it at the warehouse.

Oh, and the boxes were addressed to "Chimacum, DC."

Your tax dollars at work.

Green Desert - Chapter 4.6.1 - Fírí

I had no clue why the horse was there and I didn’t care. I needed to get back to civilization and I for damn sure wasn’t going to limp the whole way if I didn’t have to.

“Good horsey, good horsey. Don’t mind me.”

I hobbled up to it. The bay horse looked at me with big brown eyes. I patted its face, down to its nose.

“Over to this rock here. Good horsey.” A nearby rock, almost knee-high, a good stepstool.

The horse followed my coaxing and I soon sat astride its back. My feet thanked me profusely.

I leaned forward and put a hand on either side of the base of its neck, patted it. “Let’s go.” And I kicked it sharply with my heels.

It responded quickly, cantering toward the start of a trail through the brush. This horse might just know where it’s going.

I kicked its ribs again. It galloped. The hot air turned into a cool breeze. The desert flashed past, gangly bushes missing us by centimeters. Trails branched off this way or that, but the horse knew where it was going.

What would I find when I got back to the house? Vata would still be there. She would’ve moved her car and then the towtruck driver would’ve taken our car away. I hoped to Pétíso those last two boxes weren’t important. And that nobody had found the other boxes in the garage. I could still get good money for them, probably.

Of course, I had absolutely no idea who I could sell illegal weapons to, but I couldn’t just leave them for the cops or the raping Kılímos.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Go Steelers!!!

Ha ha!! Who said the Colts were the best in the NFL? Who said Pittsburgh couldn't win in the RCA Dome? Guess what? Not even a horrendous fumble by the Bus in the closing minutes could ruin the Steelers' game. Yay!!

And, um... Go Seahawks!


Let's go hiking! Sure it cold and wet out, but if you get high enough up in the mountains, the rain turns to snow and you can just brush it off your sleeve, no problem.

Or so the theory goes.

So I went on a snowshoe hike up the Mountain Loop Highway to three lakes: Coal, Pass, and Independence. We drove up the road until the drivers didn't like how their tires were sliding sideways, and then we stopped and started walking.


Wait for me!

Eventually, we turned off the road and found ourselves at Coal Lake, covered in ice.


I tested the viscosity of the ice by throwing a snowball at it. The ice waved. So it's actually slush.

Here's a shot of everyone else on the hike:


Our next destination, Pass Lake, was at a slightly higher elevation. Hence, snow-covered.


And here's a few more pics, to finish off the day:




This was definitely the longest snowshoe hike I've ever done. I think I'm getting used to it. I just have to remember not to kick my foot out so the snowshoe flips over to heel-first. That causes trouble (and tumbles).

Green Desert - Chapter 4.5.5 - Vata

“I’m sorry, sirs. He isn’t here. He came back, yes, but he left on foot with his girlfriend. It looked like they were going east, but they must have turned off the road by now.” I hoped the patrolmen believed me. They had to believe me. Who wouldn’t trust a little old lady?
I had no idea why my husband was helping the criminal and his girlfriend. It was one thing to heal wounds, but this was something different. Not that it mattered, though. Pí‘oro was helping them and that’s all I needed to know.

The two lieutenants whispered to each other, then one of them hurried away. I heard the front door open, but not close. Very well, we’d cool the entire desert.

The remaining patrolman looked toward the door like he was listening, but I heard nothing.

“Let him in,” he called.

The front door finally closed. The tall blond man turned to face me. “Did Zhudıro or his girlfriend give any indication where they might be headed?”

Before I could answer, Deputy Tépíto Laparıpasamı came into view and stopped beside the taller man. The young deputy smiled at me. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Kılímo. Go ahead and answer his question, if you don’t mind.”

I nodded and took a breath. Had they said anything to me about their intentions? I didn’t want to lie if I didn’t have to. “I. . . I do not recall them saying anything about that.”

The lieutenant frowned. The deputy nodded.

Friday, January 13, 2006

online dating leads to online wedding

Taking long-distance relationships to a whole new level, two lovebirds have gotten married online, having never met each other. The groom lives in California and the bride in Malaysia (although she travelled to Indonesia for the ceremony).

Green Desert - Chapter 4.5.4 - Zhíno

Someone fired a gun, but it wasn’t the cop––I didn’t get hit. I finished rolling over to my stomach and looked up. Pí‘oro and the foreign kid were fighting over a gun.

The cop yelled, “Drop the weapon!”

Neither did. Pí‘oro was going to get himself killed.

“Drop the gun, Mr. Kılímı!” Did he think he was protecting me with this suicidal action? Because he certainly wasn’t. But he was helping himself even less. The brunette policewoman had her gun leveled right at the old man.

She had another gun in her holster. Did the old fool expect me to take it? To shoot the cop? To shoot the kid? Sure, the foreigner shot me twice, but I was healed now, so that didn’t matter anymore.

The cop fired. Pí‘oro lurched backwards, holding his gut, and fell down on his side. Blood seeped around his thick fingers.

The dark-haired teenager froze, kneeling upright, the big man in front of him.

I stayed where I was, but said, “Somebody, help him. Kid, help him.”

The foreigner’s head jerked towards me at “kid,” but then he set the gun down and crawled to look at the wound.

The policewoman turned to point her gun at me. I stayed motionless.

The teenager exclaimed, “Why did you shoot his guts?”

The cop bit her lower lip and tried to holster her gun, unsuccessfully. She spun to face the other two and ordered, “Apply pressure to the wound.”

Oh gods.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Outhouses on Wheels

Do you have a spare outhouse sitting around the house? Is it on wheels? Maybe you'll want to take it to Conconully, Washington this weekend for the 23rd annual outhouse races. If you win, you'll get a neato trophy!

For those who don't know, Conconully is near Omak and Tonasket. It used to be the county seat, a hundred or so years ago.

Clean-Off-Your-Desk Day!

Today is Clean-Off-Your-Desk Day. So clean off your desk!

The only problem is that once I cleaned off my desk, the floor beside my desk was suddenly quite messy. . .

Green Desert - Chapter 4.5.3 - Séara

I had my gun on Zhudırı and was unclipping my handcuffs from my belt as he obligingly rolled over onto his stomach. He didn’t seem nearly so dangerous as everyone made him out to be. I wondered if he really was the right guy. He seemed much too peaceful to have shot a patrolman in cold blood.

A scuffle broke out behind me. A gunshot. I spun to see Bhanar and the old man wrestling over the gun. I raised my gun and shouted, “Drop the weapon,” hoping at least one of them would listen. If Mr. Kılímı let go, good. If Bhanar let go, I’d shoot Mr. Kılímı. But neither paid attention.

Mr. Kılímı yanked on the gun and the foreigner fell to his knees.
Behind me, Zhudırı shouted, “Drop the gun, Mr. Kılímı!” But the big man didn’t listen to his captor––his friend?––any more than he had listened to me.

I knew I should do something. But what? My gun covered both of them. I watched where their gun pointed. Not at me or Zhudırı. Moving towards Bhanar. Mr. Kılímı––the weak, out-of-shape old man––was winning the struggle. And yet Bhanar looked so strong.

Their gun pointed at Bhanar’s head. I aimed for Mr. Kılímı’s thigh and fired.

As the blast echoed in the gully, the big man let go of the gun and crumpled over, clutching his stomach.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Massive Deforestation Reduces Global Warming. . .

Here's one more reason to burn down all the forests (besides the fiscal policy of the Golgafrinchams): Trees cause global warming! According to a study published in _Nature_ magazine, plants may account for "between 10 and 30 per cent of all annual global emissions of methane."

And here I was blaming it all on the cows.

Burning Love leads to Stabbed Love

The next time you feel like listening to one song over and over again to celebrate the King's birthday, you might want to rethink it lest your girlfriend stabs you six times in the head with a pair of scissors. I guess she just didn't think he was a hunk a hunk of burning love. Go figure.


I'm really quite sick of having to get up while it's still dark out. Why can't our clocks be set to the sunrise time? You know, so civil sunrise is always at six o'clock no matter where you are.

Ah, for the good ol' days before reliable clocks.

Green Desert - Chapter 4.5.2 - Sétıpímo

“Zhíno Zhudırı will be in the jail in fifteen minutes.” I slammed down the phone. “Pétíso take the state patrol.” Nulıpéshı needed help. Laparıpısamı should be there by now. They both needed help. I should never have let the brass put those two kids on the dayshift together.

I considered waking up Mupí and Émıkangı––it was almost time for their shift anyhow––but I was already halfway to the front door.

The phone rang.

I cursed, “Pétíso!” and went back to answer it. “Tuhanı Precinct.”

A woman’s voice. “Sétıpímo? This is Hérına at the Temple of Vuzhí.”

“Good afternoon, Hérına.” I hadn’t seen here for several days. “What warrants giving me the pleasure of hearing your beautiful voice?”

“You’re too kind, Séto. There’s a strange car in the parking lot here. Broken window. I heard voices and car doors and looked outside, but they were gone.”

Zhudırı’s car. “A brown Sonla sedan?”

“Um. . . I think so. It could be. Should I go check? It’s definitely brown.”

“No need to check. You’ve been a marvelous help. I’ve got to run, but could you please call Tamé and have him tow it?” I had to get to the Kılímıs’.

“I’ll do that.”

“Thank you, Héra. Go in Her name.”

“Go in Her name.”

I hung up the phone and jogged to the front door.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I think Del Monte has gone too far. Just look at their marketing ploy they got going now: They're putting fruit stickers on real twenty-dollar bills *during* the printing process! I mean, come on. That's hardly legal, is it?

New camera, new pic

Here's my favorite picture so far with my new camera:


It's from my business trip to Spokane, coming in for a landing at Sea-Tac.

I can almost figure out what streets those streaks are. . .

Springtime is nigh

It's time to take down your Christmas decorations. Really, take them down! Now. Today. . . . I took mine down last night.

Green Desert - Chapter 4.5.1 - Bhanar

Séara ignored Pí‘oro, stepping quickly to the right with her gun pointed down. I exited the bushes into the clearing, keeping an eye on the old man. He kept his hands raised. He wasn’t wearing pants.

The policewoman ordered, “Roll over.”

I raised my handgun generally toward Pí‘oro and glanced Séara’s direction. Zhíno lay face-up and naked on the grass and weeds. He slowly started to roll over, away from the brunette.

A flash of motion and someone had my gun wrist––Pí‘oro. I fired but it missed him, the blast deafening in the small canyon. He grabbed the gun with his other hand and I did too, twisting to break free. Pí‘oro’s hands nearly crushed mine.

“Drop the weapon!” Séara, sounding like a policewoman. I knew she didn’t mean me. Pí‘oro didn’t let go.

My wrist and my fingers throbbed where the big man’s hands dug in. He jerked the gun and I fell to one knee as I clung to the weapon.
“Drop the gun, Mr. Kılímı!” Not Séara. That was Zhíno. When did he become a good guy?

Pí‘oro twisted the gun barrel closer and closer to me, his finger over mine on the trigger. He was simply overpowering me. An inch till my shoulder was in the line of fire. My arm muscles burned. They had nothing left in them. I was going to lose. I was going to get shot.

I slipped my finger out from between his and the trigger, shoved it behind the trigger. The muzzle loomed large in my face. Pí‘oro grimaced. He squeezed the trigger. A shot fired.

Monday, January 09, 2006


The clouds here in Seattle are moving northward almost as fast as the cars on I-5!

True, the traffic is only going 25 mph, but still. . .


The more often I bite my lip, the more likely I am to bite my lip. The chance of an occurance goes up exponentially, you see, as the lip swells. Even if I concentrate on not biting my lip, I still chomp down on it. And it's always the same spot, lower lip caught between my right canines. Well, I suppose I've bitten other bits of soft flesh in my mouth, but for some reason, my right canines seem to attempt a piercing of my lower lip at least twice a year.

It certainly makes eating apples and carrots a dangerous proposition. )-:

Green Desert - Chapter 4.4.6 - Umo

I threw the gardening supplies in my trunk and slammed both hatches. “Get in the car.”

Lango knew which car I meant: my car. We slammed the doors and we were off. I turned left out of the temple parking lot, headed for Main Street. We needed to track Zhudırı down, get the weapons from him, and kill him. It was that simple.

Lango wheezed in a breath and said, “We should stop at a payphone, call to see if any new police reports have been filed.” He swallowed. “You know, in case they found Zhudırı.”

What we really needed was a police scanner. Gogzhuè thought they’d be too conspicuous, but maybe I’d be able to convince him after this fiasco.

The last known location of Zhudırı was the Kılímı residence. That’s where he left the fake car. He wouldn’t be there anymore, but maybe Mr. and Mrs. Kılímı would have a clue where he went.

Stop sign at Main Street. A news van crossed in front of us and I turned the same direction. The back of the van proclaimed, “Channel 6 News––local news, local heart.”

“Um,” said Lango. “If they’re going where I think they’re going, we really don’t want to follow them the whole way there.”

Oh, we were going to the Kılímı house, whether the tv reporters were or not. I had no other option. We’d just have to play it different.

“Get on your curious-tourist face, Lango. We have questions to ask.”

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The King

Don't forget that tomorrow is Elvis Presley's birthday.

All hail the King!

Green Desert - Chapter 4.4.5 - Fírí

I tore the khakis, starting at a hole the thorns had made, and wrapped the loop of thin cloth around my throbbing, bloody toe as best I could. It didn’t stay in place very well and every time I touched the nail, a stab of pain shot up my leg. I finally got my already-bloodstained, makeshift bandage to stay by squeezing it between my toes.

I stood and limped up the gully, only letting the heel of my left foot touch the ground. The creek was no more. I’d ran past its source. I needed to get out of that gully, out of the desert, out of the sun. My forearms were pink.

A side gully led up to the right. I took it, using my hands for balance as I climbed up the steep slope, mindful of my toe. We’d probably come from this way. Pí‘oro wouldn’t have carried us across the creek, would he?

My bladder was really starting to tell me I needed to piss, so I did, right there in the gully under the open sky. I’d drunk too much from the creek. I buckled the belt and resumed hobbling up the rocky ravine.

The top. A view of sparse vegetation and rocks, flat desert as far as I could see––except for the trees by the creek to my right. I limped in that direction, hoping to find the trail Pí‘oro had taken.

The brush at the gully’s edge got denser as I walked. I just about thought I was back even with the clearing when a horse came around a large bush at me.

Friday, January 06, 2006


So today's the day when the three magi arrived from the east to give gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Mary and Jesus. Or so the story goes. Whose story? Saint Matthew. It's only in the one Gospel, written 60 to 90 years after the events described. It's not as if he was there. . .

From Wikipedia:

According to his account, the Magi first visited Herod (appointed as a vassal king of Judea by the Roman Empire), asking him where the new King could be found. Herod, showing his knowledge of local prophesy, sent them to Bethlehem, and asked that they return when they had found him Matthew 2:1-Matthew 2:8). There, they appeared before the infant Jesus, noting that they observed his star -- the Star of Bethlehem -- rising in the east (other possible translation: his star in the ascendant), and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). The Magi were warned in a divine dream not to go back to Herod, and so returned to Persia by another route. This infuriated Herod and resulted in his massacre of the Holy Innocents (Matthew 2:12, and 16-18).

Matthew's Gospel does not mention their exact number, but since three gifts were mentioned, they were thus often entitled the Three Wise Men or later Three Kings. Alternate traditions have as few as two and as many as twelve visiting Jesus.

If Matthew is our only source, is it possible that he made it up?


The magi were from Persia. They were basically high priests of the Zoroastrian religion, one of the dominant religions of the time and region. So what better way to give some oomph to your own cause than to have powerful spokespeople? "Hey, the Zoroastrians believe he's the son of God. Why don't you?"

Then again, it's entirely possible that the whole Christmas story was made up decades after the fact, as well. These guys had a religion to sell, after all. It makes me wonder what L. Ron Hubbard's teachings will look like in two thousand years. . .

Green Desert - Chapter 4.4.4 - Vata

I stood alone in the chapel, beside a dead cow. The braziers sputtered. Névazhíno had left me floating on air but with my mind reeling. Zhíno hadn’t possessed my husband. Pí‘oro had acted oddly of his own accord. But where had he gotten the sudden strength and agility? Where had he gotten the sudden compassion and effervescence?

The doorbell rang. My feet sat solidly on the dirt floor. I wiped the knife on my red dress and set it on the stone altar. The doorbell rang again as I crossed the dark chapel toward the hallway door. I stepped into my slippers, opened the door, and climbed the remaining two steps.

I heard the front door open. A man’s somber voice called, “Hello? This is the police. Is anybody here?”

“I’m coming.” Kids today were always in such a hurry. I closed the chapel door.

Before I reached the corner in the hall, a uniformed policeman appeared. Tall, short blond hair, thin face. “Are you Vata Kılímı?”


“I am Lieutenant Nıgédızí and this is Lieutenant Vorısí.” Another tall blond stepped into view behind Nıgédızí. “We’re looking for Zhíno Zhudırı.”

Lieutenants. They must be with the state patrol. “He. . .” He was carried away from the sheriff’s deputy by my husband. I couldn’t say that. I couldn’t lay any blame on Pí‘oro. “He isn’t here.”

Both young men frowned, their blue eyes growing dark.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

a black thing about yay big with this metal stick coming out one side about so long

I bought an umbrella this morning. I'd always said that no true Seattleite owned an umbrella, but it would be quite unprofessional of me to arrive at work each morning completely drenched. And as Seattle has a tendency to have rain in the morning and not in the afternoon. . .

Totally soaked, I stopped at the drug store halfway to work. The sole employee said, "Good morning. How are you doing?" To which I replied, "Wet."

They had an umbrella stand right beside the door.

Windy and rainy today, but at least I'm starting to dry out.

Green Desert - Chapter 4.4.3 - Zhíno

From the nothingness emerged Névazhíno. He snapped His several rows of teeth at me as He circled, but I knew He wasn’t serious. His tail wagged.

I lowered my head in greeting, maintaining eye contact. “Hello.”

“Good day, Zhíno. Are you well?”

“‘Well’? I have no pain, thanks to You. I have no sorrow, thanks to You. I have no worries, thanks to You.”

He flicked His antlers at me, tossed His head. “You have no hope, thanks to yourself. You have no joy, thanks to yourself. You have no life, thanks to yourself.”

I shrugged and coiled around myself. “We all must live with our decisions.”

“You are avoiding yours.” The words echoed in my head. Névazhíno’s spiked tail swung towards me, four razor-sharp spikes aimed to gore.

I burrowed deep and quick, but not quick enough. The God of Animals grabbed my hind leg with His powerful jaws.

No pain. No bones cracked. No flesh tore.

Instead, a jolt of energy washed through my body, electrifying each and every cell.

The wave subsided and I felt a warm breeze on my skin from head to toe. I opened my eyes. Green leaves fluttering against a blue sky. I tried to soar into the air, to fly above the forest, but my body didn’t respond.

A policewoman stepped into view, gun pointed down at me.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Green Desert - Chapter 4.4.2 - Sétıpímo

The phone rang as I re-entered the station. I hurried over to my desk and picked up the receiver. “Tuhanı Precinct.”

“Detective Marıdırı?” A young man with a slight waver.

“This is he.”

“Hello, this is Deputy Sıvíhı calling from Sémı’ıréíso. I’ve got the state patrol on the line. They want to talk to you.”

One of theirs had been killed last night here in Tuhanı. The only suspect was Zhíno Zhudırı. Had they heard he returned to town? “Put him through.”

The line clicked. “Detective Marıdırı?”


“This is Lieutenant Shémı. We received the report that Zhudırı returned to the Kılímı residence. Is he in custody yet?”

I hated not having the answer to yes-no questions. Hopefully Laparıpısamı had called in. Hopefully he was assisting Nulıpéshı at this moment. Hopefully Zhudırı had not killed them both. “Deputies Nulıpéshı and Laparıpısamı are currently at the residence. While they have not reported to me, I am confident that they have the suspect in custody at this time.”

“Well, I just wanted to let you know that two of our officers are arriving now to assist you in the questioning.” He paused. “Or should they assist in the apprehension?”

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Movie

Since nobody out there seems to have a script or an idea for a script or a rumor of plans for an idea for a script for a sequel to _The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy_ movie, I'll throw my own idea out into the aether. Copying the book wouldn't make for a good movie, I don't think, since for a good bit of the time our heroes Arthur and Ford are in Zaphod's pocket and completely out of the action. So my concept would include action bits from the radio series that were left out of the book.

We'd start where the first movie left off, with Arthur, Ford, Trillian, and Marvin on the Heart of Gold, heading for Milliways. And let's put Zaphod and the Vice-President on the ship, too, because they never quite said on what ship they left Magrathea (although the big Z did say "just you and me"). So everyone is arguing about how to best make the time jump to the restaurant or even should they go get Zaphod's other head from Mr Sneeze first. Basically, it comes down to Trillian saying they need to get Zaphod back to "normal" and the Veep (who is a woman, by the way) who likes el Presidente just the way he is and therefore wants to go straight to Milliways.

Arthur gets bored and goes looking for tea. And here's where the real story is. No matter the pretty pictures, you need a good character-driven storyline. In HHGG, it was Arthur and Trillian falling in love. In REU, it sadly has to be them falling out of love (or else the further stories are impossible). Trillian wants a man who's an explorer, and Arthur ain't it. He's much more interested in finding his cuppa than seeing what the end of the universe looks like. Throughout this movie, Trillian has to gradually realize who Arthur is and that he won't change.

Back on the bridge, Zaphod takes Trillian's side in the argument. In the galley, Arthur yells at the Nutrimat machine and manages to tie up all the ship's computers with the question, "And do you know *why* I want boiled leaves in water?" So when the Veep kidnaps Trillian (out of jealousy of Zaphod's affection for Trill) in the solitary red escape capsule, they are unable to pursue.

And then the Veep sends the Vogons to destroy the Heart of Gold. Ford, Zaphod, and Arthur hold a seance to channel Zaphod's great-great-grandfather, who gets them out of the mess because he doesn't want them in heaven with him.

So they improb out of there and wind up in a huge marble cave thirteen miles above the surface of a planet. Thus follows the bit from the radio series on Brontitall with the giant statue of Arthur and the smelly bird people and much cliff-hanging and cliff-falling, but in this version it would be on the Frogstar. Perhaps Arthur could even learn to fly (temporarily) on his way down to being caught by a bird. Seeing a fifteen-mile-high statue of yourself is likely to make anyone forget about falling.

Meanwhile, Trillian is learning the truth about her semi-alien ancestry (whatever that might be) when the Veep does some DNA testing on her. Oh, and by the way, the Veep is taking Trillian to the Frogstar to put her into the Total Perspective Vortex.

Ford and Zaphod also fall out of the giant cup ("Belgium!") and land on the back of a passing bird ("Look, this is utterly ludicrous."). Marvin falls out of the cup and crashes a mile deep into the subterranean corridors of the Vortex complex. After a talk with the bird people, Arthur travels down to the ground and starts getting shot at by Frogstar robots. Lintilla the escort-agency clone archeologist rescues him. She is, of course, excruciatingly beautiful (which puts further strain on the Arthur-Trillian relationship).

Trillian, who is quite clever, escapes from the Veep and her Galactic police.

After a bit about shoes, the Frogstar robots find Arthur and the three Lintillas. And then Marvin finds them. And then Poodoo, the Priest, and three anti-clone Allitnils find them. ("Excuse me, but I have three impromptu weddings breaking out behind me!") One of the Allitnils is shot, but the other two cancel out two of the Lintillas. Poodoo and the Priest escape, but Arthur, Lintilla, and Marvin are captured.

Frogstar robots capture Ford and Zaphod as well. So now we have Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, Marvin, and Lintilla in captivity -- with the Veep standing beside the Frogstar robots. But she wants Zaphod to love her, so when they put Zaphod in the Total Perspective Vortex, the Veep fiddles with the knobs so it goes easy on him and tells him that he's the most important person in the universe ("something he hitherto only suspected").

Trillian rescues them. Zaphod acts heroic while Arthur cowers. They outrun Marvin. Shooty and Bang Bang (Galactic police) corner our heroes behind a computer bank which proceeds to explode and send them hurtling through time to Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. After realizing they're not dead, they finally get a chance to relax and have a decent meal, or at least a good drink. Ford talks to Hotblack, they meet the meat, Marvin calls from the carpark, Zarquon appears, the universe goes "foom." In the carpark, Ford and Zaphod want to steal a cool black ship, but Arthur comments on the "Disaster Area" logo and they decide to steal the next one in line, which happens to belong to the shape-changing Haggunenons. Trillian somehow manages to ditch Lintilla.

Of course, things go badly (with much cinematic shape-changing), and our heroes are forced to use the escape capsules. Trillian goes with Zaphod instead of with Arthur and Ford, which totally bums out Arthur. And then Arthur and Ford see that there was not, in fact, a second capsule and thus Zaphod, Trillian, and Marvin are all dead (or so they assume).

Arthur pushes the big red button (hoping it's "reverse") and they wind up with the Golgafrinchams on prehistoric Earth, whereupon they discover that the whole Ultimate-Question-of-Life-the-Universe-and-Everything computer program got messed up by their arrival. And they play Scrabble with cavemen. ("What do you get if you multiply six by nine?") Ford consoles Arthur about Trillian. Cue Louis Armstrong. Not a happy ending, but perhaps it can be sanguine.

And Zaphod doesn't get his head back. But I suppose he would, off-screen, before the start of _Life, the Universe, and Everything_.

Green Desert - Chapter 4.4.1 - Bhanar

We’d found them. The only question now was, “What are we going to do?”

Séara checked her gun. “I’m going to go arrest Zhudırı. I don’t think the older man or the woman will pose much of a threat. They cooperated last night.”

Things seemed to have changed since last night. But maybe not. I whispered, “What do you want me to do?”

She stood motionless for a few seconds, her full, naturally-dark lips hovering in a semi-pursed shape. Finally, she replied, “Just stay behind me.”

I hoped for something a bit more vital to the mission than hovering behind her, but this was her show. I nodded.

Séara turned and crept back to the bushes. I followed close enough to hear her breathing. She pushed the branches over her head without letting them snap me in the face. I did the same, as quietly as possible. No warning for Zhíno.

The trail suddenly descended steeply, Séara’s head near my knee level. Pebbles and dirt skittered down the slope ahead of us, into the duff under the dense brush. How far down did this go?

I slipped on the loose soil, my feet almost hitting Séara’s ankles. When I looked up, we were at the bottom. Pí‘oro stood facing us, a brook behind him.

He put up his hands.