Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Strange Days

It's my son's 21st birthday, so +21.

(His girlfriend turns 20 on the 20th in 20 days, so that's T-minus-20.)

Everyone at my workplace got a 5-percent pay smackdown today, so -5.

E5 magazine debuted today, and I managed to find one at Starbuck's tonight, so +2.

Both my wife and I feel sick tonight, so -2.

I don't even care about math, so -1 for me. Where does that leave us? (Naught, carry the naught, ... oh, I give up.)

Today must have been one of the strangest days...


Monday, June 29, 2009

Awakening from the Dream

Oberon better hope Titania doesn't find out about Cobweb.

More photos from Saturday's closing show of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," this time from after, as the troupe met the crowd.

Puck and Mustardseed.

Titania greets a couple of young fans.

Oberon greets his grandmother. See the family resemblance?


Today's Pick(s):

My favorite movie version of this (I've only seen two, but still...). Kevin Kline is incredible as Bottom, and everyone else is pretty dang awesome too.

The 1960s hippy-trippy version with Mrs. Peel (Diana Rigg) as Helena and (young) Helen Mirren as Hermia and Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) as Puck and Jack the Ripper (David Warner) as Lysander and young pre-Dame Judi Dench (nude) who puts the first three letters into her role of Titania. Very strange, very 60s mod British filmmaking. But you have to see it. I'm just glad that this exists in my world.

And this one I know nothing about, except Nathan said they watched it before doing the play this summer. James Cagney as Bottom (and thus, also, Pyramus)? Teenage Mickey Rooney as Puck? I have to see this. Maybe you'd want to also.

And if we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended:


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Midsummer Night's Dream Images

Puck turns invisible.

The closing performance of Shakespeare By The Bay's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was Saturday at Pier Park's outdoor amphitheater. Here are some of the stranger images I managed to capture:

Oberon is translated, or perhaps transubstantiated.

Oberon is passed by insubstantial fae folk.

Mustardseed materializes.

Oberon observes the mortals.


(More photos later.)

Polonius to Laertes on his 21st birthday

Laertes and Ophelia

I was taken out of the moment two summers ago, watching Shakespeare by the Bay’s production of "Hamlet": As Polonius advises Laertes before he leaves to study abroad, I could see the day coming when I would be Polonius. What would I say? This, for starters:

Your car: Don’t fiddle with the CD player when you’re driving in heavy traffic. Don’t talk on the cell. Always buckle up. Don’t follow too close or drive too fast. Clean it out. Wash it. Check the oil and other fluids. Don’t lose your key. No hitchhikers. Use that GPS Mom bought you.

Hygiene: Bathe. Wash your hair. Brush and floss your teeth. Shave. Wear clean underpants. Wash your hands. Flush. Use that deodorant your Mom bought you.

Apartment: Don’t leave stuff scattered on the floor. Never light a fire indoors (trust me). Wash your dishes. Take out the trash. Use the vacuum Mom bought you. Clean up spills. Don’t open the door for a stranger, and know who you invite over.

Health: Don’t eat much junk food, and don’t skip meals. Use that microwave Mom bought. Water is good for you. Alcohol isn’t. Wear a raincoat when you know you ought to. Get outside and keep active — toss a Frisbee or jog at the track. If you start smoking, I’ll break your fingers.

People: Be friendly, but know not everyone wants to be a friend. Don’t let it bug you. Be slow to anger and slower to fight, but don’t let anyone wipe their feet on you. Respect yourself. Respect women and old folks unless they show you they don’t deserve it.

Religion: There’s more than this. Don’t get hoodwinked by anyone, and don’t fool yourself that you know it all. Remember what Hamlet told Horatio. Don’t scoff at believers, but don’t believe everything you’re told.

School: Go to class. Once you start skipping, you’ll never recover the semester. Visit professors during office hours. Make sure they know who you are. Don’t fade into the woodwork — participate. Take notes. Do homework. Write papers early and in the right format. Keep up with important dates. Always have a pen and paper.

Work: Hard work is good for you, but don’t let yourself be badly used. Don’t let work interfere with school right now. Later, find something you enjoy. Don’t get stuck in a bad job just to pay the bills.

Things: Don’t borrow unless you give it back in the same shape as when you borrowed it. Don’t loan anything you can’t live without. Watch your money; it spends faster than it grows.

In general: Don’t do much you don’t want your Mom to know about. Be yourself. Enjoy being young. Have fun. Sing and dance. Laugh. Play. Create art. Whatever you do, don’t follow my example — learn from my mistakes.

Finally, Laertes: Remember Ophelia, who loved you for you. What would she expect? Do that. What would she want for you? Chase that.

You won’t go wrong.


Friday, June 26, 2009


Is it wrong of me that I'm thinking of a conversation between Farrah, Michael, Ed and David? That's what I'm imagining, anyway: Fawcett, Jackson, McMahon and Carradine, in a waiting room or hotel lobby bar, waiting for separate appointments, and shooting the afterlife breeze.

The four of them, talking about fate and the nature of being a celebrity, and the unfairness of it all.

Is it odd that when we walked into the bowling alley this morning, the video playing on the big screen was "Thriller?" (Followed by "Rocking the Casbah," but that's not the point.)

Or that when I read a friend's tweet earlier this morning, in which he mentioned his feathered 'do in a childhood photo, I thought about Farrah Fawcett?

Probably not that odd. Only a coincidence or two. But you already know I don't believe in coincidence.

I bet one of those four could give us an insight about all that.

So long, strangers. Good journey.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Tapping at the window.

When I was a kid, I was traumatized by the TV miniseries production of Stephen King's "Salem's Lot." Watching it in recent years, it didn't have quite the same effect, but in 1970-something, it left me huddling under the covers every night, sweating, barely breathing, clutching a cross and listening to every noise, as my rational mind argued with my fear.

And I promised myself one thing I never would do: If anyone came to my window in the middle of the night and tapped or scratched, I would not let them in. In fact, I wouldn't even pull aside the curtain to see who it was. Didn't want to fall under some hypnotic spell.

And then ...

Thirty-some years later, it's sometime around midnight, and there's a tapping at the window.

I tell myself as I go to the window, "Didn't you swear you'd never do this?"

I pull aside the curtain, and my 19-year-old son is on the other side of the glass. He's been out with friends, and has a midnight curfew. He's gesturing toward the front of the house.

"Can you open the door for me? I left my keys on the table."

Behind him, a car is backing out of the driveway. A friend has dropped him off. I think I'll tell him to sleep on the bench on the front porch. I'll let him in when the sun rises. After the sun rises, actually.

But no, I know better now. I'm not a kid any more. I know there are real horrors in the night, and my son is not one of them.

I go to the front door and open it.

He leans in to hug me and apologize for disturbing me and say thank you, and I feel the teeth in my throat.

Tap, tap, tap.

(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

If we were robots

If we were robots:
I'm hacked, rebuilt, obsolete.
You're a slick new gadget.

No hard-drive jokes here.
Is a state of mind.

(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons
Tunesday's Pick: Watch this Sometime Around Midnight.
Check'em out here. Official-like.
Read it.
The short: From moody synth to new-age punk, with not a verse or chorus to be found in songs that tell stories, or perhaps short stories set to rock music. My new favorite band this month. Airborne Toxic Event. Buy it:


Monday, June 22, 2009

Manic Monday: Rise of the Lycans

No story today. Lots of busy-ness throughout the day. Workworkworkwork.
Watched this:

Which is Today's Pick. If you've seen the first movie, then you know how this one (a prequel) ends. It's the low-budget Lord of the Rings edition of the series, which is about the war between the Vampires and the Werewolves. Lots of blood and scenery chewing. Pop some popcorn. Meanwhile, I think every movie should make a prequel and call it "Rise of the Lycans." Rainman: Rise of the Lycans. Legally Blonde: Rise of the Lycans. Werewolves make everything better. Imagine how much better the first Star Wars prequel would have been with added werewolves ... Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace: Rise of the Lycans.

Listening to a new CD my son bought me for Dad's day. I'll write about it tomorrow, which as you know is "Tunesday."


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Joe the Lion

He slithered down a greasy pipe, smelling of iron, bricks and old leather. His nails left scratches on the metal and the brick wall. He let go and dropped the last 20 feet to the sidewalk, landing on all fours, then froze in place, listening to the night and sniffing the air.

So far, so good. No one had seen him as he loped across the rooftops and above the freeway, where the iron beasts roamed. Even here, deep within the old city, he could hear vehicles on their concrete streets, smell their exhaust, but more than that, he could scent the strange creatures driving them.

He stayed low to the ground and padded deeper into a night-dark alleyway, away from the iron beasts and their controllers. He looked for a metal ring, the manhole cover in the alley. Watching over his shoulders, he shifted it out of his way, clambered down the ladder it exposed, and slid the cover shut above him. He waited for his big green eyes to adjust to the near total darkness.

Pale lights glowed far down in the tunnel. He moved silently toward them and the aroma of food, the stink of sweat and dirty hair, the sounds of creatures in conversation.

Outside the old man-built chamber that Max the Gorilla had refashioned as an inn, a heap of cloth shifted and stretched. Sharp claws scratched on the walkway and red eyes blinked at him.

"Joe," the watcher rat hissed. "Back again?"

"It's Monday," Joe growled.

Drinks on the house, as they both knew. Ever since a Monday night four years ago when Joe had cleared a nest of vipers for Max, the innkeeper had promised him a free drink on Mondays. With food in short supply, Joe tried not to miss this free weekly repast.

Joe ordered his regular drink and a can of whatever meat product Max had tonight. Max put the dishes on the bar and stepped back while Joe ate. One of the inn cats sidled up to him and purred. He let her stroke herself against his leg, but when she reached for a scrap from his dish, he warned her away with a low growl and a flash of teeth.

Max shewed her aside and asked Joe what it was like upstairs these days.

"Wind blows on your cheek," he said. "Makes you forget. You get clumsy. The day laughs in your face. The steel catches you hobbling over the freeway, nails you to their car. Reminds you who we are."

Max sighed. You live longer down in the dark, where the iron and steel preferred not to venture, but he could still remember wind on his cheek. He could recall who he was in the world above, in the time before so many began to walk upright and developed opposable thumbs, before the steel took over the freeways and world of human beings ended.

"Find anything this time?" Max asked.

Joe fumbled in the pocket of his jacket. He looked around the room, but few of the creatures even cared that he was here. None were paying attention. He took the artifact out of his pocket and placed it on the bar. Max whistled and scratched his whiskers.

"Does it work?" Max asked.

Joe fit his clumsy fingers around the handle, one finger inside the trigger guard. With the pads of his other front paw, he spun the chamber. He pointed the gun at the watcher by the door and pulled the trigger.

The hammer rose and fell with a click. The chamber advanced.

"It works," Joe said. "It just needs the right seeds."

"Seeds?" Max said.

Joe thumbed the chamber release, showed Max the empty seed pods. "Seeds go here. When the hammer strikes them, they blossom in fire and fly to wound or kill."

"Will they kill the iron and steel?"

Joe put the gun back in his pocket and shook his head.

"Not this little one. But there are big ones out there, with great big seeds ripe for blossom, and I will find them one day."

Max smiled and poured Joe another can of milk. He watched the big cat lap it up from the dish, and he wondered at Joe's imagination. He was a dreamer. A fortune teller. A brave beast, to be sure, having walked the world above and returned to tell of it. But still just a beast hiding in the dark.

Joe knew what Max thought of him. Didn't matter. Joe had seen too many creatures nailed to cars in the old city. He knew who he was. And though the jungle was little more than a legend among his kind, he recalled who was its king and dreamed of a day when wind and sun would play freely on his face.

(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons
Today's Pick: Joe the Lion. Inspiration for the imagery in the story. Also inspired by one of my all-time favorite comic heroes during the 1970s, Kamandi, who guest starred on Friday's Brave and Bold

Friday, June 19, 2009

Skip night

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Just another frantic Friday...


Thursday, June 18, 2009


Father Judah clucked his tongue and wiped the oily residue off the holy icon of Mother Mary. Long ago, pilgrims would have called them "tears." They would have walked for miles to see them, to pray. But not so much today.

The old priest hung the icon back in its place on the wall of the sanctuary, knowing he'd have to wipe it off again tomorrow, and moved to the next. It was an image of St. Paul, and it was bleeding from its hands. He sprayed cleanser on it and rubbed the red stuff until it was gone. He returned the image to the wall and moved to the next.

He heard the angel when it entered, the flutter of its feathers as its wings brushed against the thresholds, the crackle of weird energies in the air. He did not turn to address the angel. Instead, he picked up a statuette in the sill of a stained glass window and scrubbed the reddish liquid from its forehead.

His palms began to itch with the beginnings of another damned stigmata. He sighed. He had grown to hate this part. He grabbed up two handfuls of damp cloths from his cleaning bucket and clutched them tightly in his fists.

"Father? May I have a moment?"

The angel's voice was like music. It harmonized within itself. It rang in the high ceilings and vibrated in the floors, a beautiful and terrible noise.

Father Judah sat on a pew and regarded the creature with suspicious eyes. It towered over him through no fault of its own. It was just built that way. It kneeled, trying to place itself at eye level with the old man, and it folded its wings close. Even so, it was an awesome vision.

Or, it would have been, if it weren't so common these days.

"Whatever could I do for you?" Father Judah asked. He could feel the stigmata burning in his closed fists. The cloths were already soaking through. Soon, his blood would begin dripping onto the tiles between his feet.

"Your sadness drew me," the angel said. "Your faith shines through it, like light through these painted windows. It will draw others."

Not so common a thing these days, the old man thought. Faith. Who needs faith when angels move among us? Who needs to believe in anything when imperical proof soars above the treetops or kneels just a few feet away? When signs and stigmata abound, when statues bleed and icons cry, bushes burn and pillars of flame move through the night sky. When seas part and manna falls from heaven to feed the hungry. When these things are as much a part of daily life as the sun and the moon, who even bothers to go to a church? To pray? To seek a deeper meaning in life?

"You value my faith because it's so rare?"

Then the angel did a strange thing. It laughed. The sound shook the walls and toppled the icons, and Father Judah quaked despite himself.

"You misunderstand me," the creature said. "We didn't do all this to bolster faith. We made ourselves known and caused these signs so faith would die out. We are not the hosts of your heaven. We are the fallen, the princes of the power of the air."

The angel stood again, drew a sword from between the arches of its wings. The sword sang in the air as it whipped through Father Judah's body and split the pew.

"We don't need your kind in our new world."

(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons

Today's Pick:

From the writer who created the original Highlander script. The battle of angels comes to earth. With Viggo Mortenson as the scariest Satan ever, and Chris Walken as a misguided and homicidal Gabriel.


As Becky Came Downstairs ...

As Becky came downstairs, even Frankenstein gasped. How incredible, just knowing last month now, our poor quiet Rebecca's scars traced ugly vermillion welts, xenografts yielding zigzags.

(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons

Today's Pick:


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Martian Haiku

John Carter's princess,
Bradbury's golden natives,
fade in Viking's shade.

Phobos and Deimos
hang cold o'er Olympus Mons.
It's midnight on Mars.

(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons

Today's Pick:

Against all odds, this adaptation (five hours over three nights, if I recall) overcomes its budget limitations (with effects of yesteryear and toy rockets that wouldn't even fool the viewers of 1980) and captures the otherworldliness of Bradbury's stories. This is not Mars as we found it, but rather as we imagined it might have been. Let go your disdain for cheap effects and let the stories take you to a Mars in its twilight, and in the birth of a new Mars, where earth people grow more golden by the day...


Monday, June 15, 2009

Grunt, take 2

(Being another direction the previous story could have taken.)


Walter brushed aside the dew-wet leaves and touched the earth underneath. He rubbed soft, moist, black dirt between his fingers. It gathered in the deep wrinkles of his old hands and under his nails. This was a good place, he thought.

Here, in the deep woods, the morning light was golden and cool. Insects danced in the shafts lancing through the high limbs and leaves. The air was still, with little sound of breezes shifting leaves. Tree frogs and crickets called, and morning birds chirped, but Walter knew who would get the worms today.

He took a flat piece of iron and a two-foot stob of wood out of the bucket he had carried into the woods with him. Using the iron, he pounded the stob of wood into the good earth until only inches protruded. Now he rested. He watched the sunlight in the trees, and he listened to the sounds of the earth. From somewhere far off, in a bog or marshy pond, came the grunting of a male alligator looking for a mate. Walter smiled to himself, rubbed his dirty fingers together, and leaned close to the ground, about to make some grunting noises of his own.

With the flat iron piece in his palm, he began to stroke the exposed end of the stob in a rhythm as old as memory, a beat his daddy had taught him, and that had been passed down from father to son for generations. Minutes passed. The birds went quiet, the crickets and frogs fell silent. Even the lonely gator stopped to listen. The wind breathed against Walter's face as the earth seemed to open itself to him.

The ground for yards around him began moving, writhing, wriggling. The dirt erupted with her burrowers, the nightcrawlers and red-rings and thick gray wrigglers. They pointed at the sky, thrashed up out of the ground in a panic, dozens of them, all around him, and Walter grabbed the bucket and moved among them, scooping them up and dropping them in, and turning to spot the next one. He had to move fast, as the worms would seek shelter again almost immediately, crawling under leaves and back into the soft earth.

But then he stopped short. He had scooped his fingers through a group of wigglers and moved to deposit them into the bucket, when he saw something among them that caught the sunlight. Though caked with black dirt, it sparkled. He stood still and watched it move as the fat worm it encircled writhed and pointed and flexed like a long gray-brown finger.

He reached into the bucket and took the sparkling thing between his own dirty, sticky fingers. He drew away the worm it encircled, threading it back out of the shining ring though it coiled and tried to keep hold of the artifact.

A gold ring. He rubbed it against the leg of his jeans. He spit on it and wiped away all the dirt. He tried it on his right ring finger, but it was too small. He tried it on his left pinky, and it fit. He held it toward the morning light, and saw what appeared to be light etching figures encircling the band.

Then he remembered why he was here. He hurried to gather the rest of the worms. He found another spot and grunted again, driving more worms to the surface. Before the morning had aged, he had a bucket full he could sell for bait. And a great story to tell the men at the bait shop.

Matt Bingham said the ring must've come off the corpse of a woman buried in the woods a hundred years ago, and her ghost was would haunt Walter until he returned it. Henry McDavid laughed at him and said how the etching was some ancient worm language, and he bet a quarter it translated to "Whosoever wears this ring shall be king of the worms."

Walter fiddled with the ring as the day wore on, and his hands sweated.


That night, Walter tried to remove the ring before his shower, but it wouldn't come off. He pulled at it in the shower. He swathed it in soap and worked it back and forth. Finally, he decided to try again in the morning. He set his alarm and turned out the lights, and in the darkness he dreamed, and Walter never dreamed.

He dreamt of caves and roots. Not of a dead woman seeking her lost ring, but of something else that moved in moist earth. The undersides of fallen trees, wet with rot. The smell of old leaves and beds of straw. The taste of fungus. The terrible sound of the mole burrowing, snuffling, grunting, grunting as it hunted. He dreamed of the grunting, and knew the nightmare of worms, the primal fear of creatures living and dying in the soft earth.

The alarm sounded and Walter reached for it blindly, knowing something was wrong before he came fully awake. The fingers he slapped against the alarm felt odd, and when he managed to focus on them through milky vision, we saw them wriggling, gray and brown. His deep wrinkles were rings, and the nails had gone. His mouth was sticky, the flesh gummy, and it would not part to scream. He writhed on the sheets, felt his toes moving independently, crawling in separate directions.

Walter grunted as he came up out of the bed and flopped onto the hardwood floor. He could feel parts of himself crawling away even as he crawled for the door. He didn't know what he was doing or why, but he needed help and something told him he had to get outside. He pushed up against the frame of the doorway and tried to grip the knob, but his hands were now dividing into dozens of wriggling tentacles, one of which, at the end of what had been his left arm, wore a golden ring.

His arms and legs were curling and separating, splitting into components that rained onto the floor and crawled about. He grunted and grunted.

If the door came open, Walter never knew it.


No one ever found the ring, or Walter's body. Some of the men in the baitshop speculated that a burglar killed Walter for the ring and buried his body in the woods, but there was no sign of anything else having been stolen in the old man's house, and the only sign of a struggle was the dried up, dead worms that must have been spilled out on the floor.

Matt Bingham told anyone who would listen that the corpse bride had come to claim her missing heirloom.

Henry McDavid kept his mouth shut, and every time he went into the deep woods to grunt out some worms, he always left a quarter in the dirt as tribute to the worm king.


(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons

T-minus 41 (and yes, I know I skipped a day, but whatever. I'll catch it up.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009


The old man pounded a two-foot stob of wood into the earth using a flat piece of iron in the palm of his hand, leaving a few inches exposed. He paused to catch his breath and looked at the trees all around. Here, in the deep woods, there was little light this early in the morning, and no sounds but breezes rustling through leaves, bird calls, and the chorus of frogs and crickets. He had come early to try and beat other grunters to the spoils, but he didn't mind the hour. He liked this time of morning. Besides, you know what they say about early birds and worms.

From somewhere far off, in a bog or marshy pond, came the grunting of a male alligator looking for a mate. He smiled when he thought of that lonely gator, as he was about to make some grunting sounds himself. He wished the gator luck, hoping the luck would reflect back on him. Only fair, he figured.

The old man took a swig of water from his old Thermos, put it back in his shoulder pouch, and set the pouch near his feet beside a five-gallon plastic bucket he had brought along. He kneeled by the stob, and began rubbing the iron against the wood in a rhythm his daddy had taught him when he was just an ankle-biter.

The birds went quiet. The crickets and frogs paused. The earth and the things that crawled inside it listened. Not even the alligator answered.

Grunt-grunt, grunt-grunt, grunt-grunt-grunt.

A minute went by as he rubbed iron against wood, and that odd creaking, croaking noise vibrated through the air and the earth. Three minutes, and his old muscles were burning in his back and arms. Five, and he was already about to give up when the ground for yards around him began moving, writhing, wriggling. The earth gave up her burrowers, the nightcrawlers and red-rings and thick gray wrigglers, fairly spitting them into the air. They thrashed up out of the ground in a panic, dozens of them, all around him, and the man grabbed the bucket and moved among them, scooping them up and dropping them in, and turning to spot the next one.

He had to move fast, as the worms would seek shelter again almost immediately, crawling under leaves and back into the soft earth. Birds swooped and grabbed them up. Lizards darted from tree stumps and snapped them. Everything was in motion and the trees spun around him.

He missed a step. A limb under a blanket of leaves shifted under his foot. His leg shot out too far, and fell sideways. The bucket flew from his hands, and he didn't protect his head before he hit the ground and something harder than the ground. He was dazed, barely aware for some time, and his leg hurt something terrible. He lay on the earth, watching the shafts of sunlight through the trees shifting direction as the sun rose higher.

It was the noise that brought him around.

Grunt-grunt, grunt-grunt, grunt-grunt-grunt.

He rolled slowly to look in the direction of the sound, and he didn't see the cause at first. He saw his plastic bucket lying on its side, empty. And right up close were the flat iron and the stob, and he realized that he had hit his head on the iron piece when he fell. He saw his pouch nearby, and wished for a drink from that Thermos. Then the noise came again, and he saw the gator sitting very still in the upturned leaves only a few feet away.

They looked at each other.

The old man trembled. That thing was huge. He could imagine it swallowing him whole, but he was pretty sure it would chew first. He had never been so scared in all his years. All at once, his body broke out in cold sweat, and he stifled a scream as the gator eased back a step. He doubted that it was frightened of him, but it must have been confused. It kept one eye on him and settled against the earth.

The old man's brain spun like the trees had, desperate to find a way to escape. He wondered if he could roll away and shimmy up a tree fast enough, or even just put a tree between himself and the beast. He wondered if he could reach that piece of iron and use it as a weapon. Could he poke out the monster's eye before it bit him in half? He'd heard stories of hunters and bird dogs caught by these beasts at the water's edge.

It occurred to him that the gator had been as lucky as him, after all. He'd lost his prey, and the gator had failed to find a mate. They were both frustrated. But then it occurred to him that you don't want to be in the path of a frustrated gator.

Grunt-grunt, grunt-grunt, grunt-grunt-grunt.

The sound vibrated through the earth and carried over the breeze. It was not the gator this time. It was not a female answering the gator. The old man recognized the sound. Somewhere not too far away, some other worm grunter was at work this morning. He lay there, one ear to the ground, and one ear turned to the air, and he listened. The noise repeated without pause as the stranger rubbed a stob with a flat piece of iron, waiting for the earth to erupt.

He couldn't tell which direction the noise was coming from, and he feared the gator would come past him to find the new noise maker. That is, it would kill him on the way. What better way to impress a female than to bring her a fresh kill?


The man felt his heart skip as the gator blasted out its call, but the monster turned to head back down the slope and into the treeline. In the middle distance, the worm grunter continued his work. The old man brought his sore leg underhim and scrambled to his feet. He grabbed up his empty bucket, dropped his pouch and iron piece inside, and decided to leave the stob.

He paused and looked in the direction the gator had gone, and he shouted.

"Hey! Hey you! There's a gator headed your way! I say you better stop that and move along!"

He listened, but the grunting continued. He shouted again.

"Hey! I know you hear me! I'm telling you there's a gator coming your way!"

The noise continued for a few seconds. Then a moment of silence, in which the old man waited to hear a shouted question like, "What'd you say?" or "Who is that over yonder?" But he heard screams instead, and in the echoes, he could hear muffled crashing noises that might have the sound of man running through the underbrush on the other side of the hill, or might have been a gator thrashing its head as it yanked prey to the ground.

He thought about running toward the noise, but considered the probability of stumbling headlong into that gator again. He took a swig from his Thermos and listened to the quiet. Just breezes and birdsong and insects buzzing. No more screams or sounds of underbrush crashing. He didn't know if that was a good thing or not. He decided to go to his truck and find a place he could call the boys from Fish and Game. They could check it out.

Then he heard it: Grunt-grunt, grunt-grunt, grunt-grunt-grunt.

That gator was still lonely.
(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons
T-minus-42 in the 366 Days recovery program
(Story inspired by reading about worm grunters in today's paper and a story a few days ago about a male gator caught on a local highway when it was out cruising for love.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

From my latest notebook...

Sitting in Books-a-Million cafe, drinking decaf, writing in my notebook on Monday night, I was trying to put into words a concept about what it means to have money in this world, how people with money live in a different world from the rest of us without actually realizing it, and this is what the man at the next table says to his son, who has been up to this point talking about places he'd like to visit and sports he'd like to play:

"Sometimes it's good just to have some time to do nothing," the man says. "You want to go to Rio? I'm good with that. Rio's cool."

... and I wrote down what he said. And I wondered if the universe was telling me that it agreed with me in general, though it had no intention of helping me do anything about it.

But as I said before: I drink decaf now. I have few illusions.


Also Monday was when I decided to force myself back into the 366 Days project, having skipped more than a month of entries. You can find a link at right to my initial 200 + days of effort, which finally died after being moved to a less user-friendly site. There are some pretty decent tales there, I think, though you'll have to dig to find them. I suggest, if you check it out, to go to the last page and work your way forward along the timeline. I hope you will.

Tomorrow, I'll bring you a story. Tonight, I have spent my time getting a $50 HP Pavilion running that Debra picked up in a yard sale. I'm writing this online with it right now. It works great.


T-minus 43 in the 366 Days recovery program

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Birthday Haiku

Fewer days ahead
Than behind him now, he thinks.
Fewer nights remain.

Brilliant ideas lie
Still just out of reach, he thinks.
Or fade with his brain.

(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons
T-minus-44 in the 366 Days recovery program


Today's Pick: Booster Gold: 52 Pickup

Never a huge fan of Booster Gold, I liked his appearances on the various JLA cartoons better than his comedy routines in DC comics. But then Booster's best bud Blue Beetle was murdered and Booster got a little more serious. Now he's traveling the fractured post-Infinity Crisis multiverse to set right problems in the time stream, and he plans to change history by saving Beetle's life. The book is written with humor and pathos by Geoff Johns, and ably illustrated by Dan Jurgens, and I'll be looking for Volume 2 soon.

Today's Word: Adieu, as in farewell, so long, good bye. And here's why:

Very sad to see Heather closing shop. I will write more about this and provide more of our video interview for this weekend's paper. If you live in the area, you should go see the final show, "Narratives," and buy some of her gear (Tshirts, art books, etc) or even some of the art, which she has also discounted. Check her web site for more info.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Actually, because Carlotta ...

Actually, because Carlotta died eating fried goat, her insurers justifiably (keep laughing) made no orders post quietus regarding substantial transactions, ultimately verified, which explains your zen.

(c) 2009 By Tony Simmons
"T Minus 45" in the 366 Days recovery program
(Edited 6/10/09 to correct countdown number)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Look

He looks up from his newspaper and, two tables away, she looks up from her magazine. He smiles and nods, friendly, perhaps embarrassed that she might have thought he was staring, and starts to look back down.

She does not.

He pauses. His eyes meet hers again and they … look.

Her face is relaxed, eyes open. Not blank, so much as receptive. Aware.

His hands open on the table, neck inclines, chin forward. His eyes are steady, seeing only her face.

Her fingers spread against her magazine, head tilts to the left, earring dangles.

He sits up straighter, lips part.

She leans back, blinks. Smiles with her eyes, lips together. A question in her eyebrows.

He smiles back without grinning. An answer.

She grins, white teeth and red lips in golden morning sun.

He takes a breath, about to speak. Leans forward, toes down.

Her eyes widen. Lips part. Feet flat. She wants to hear him.

“Number 12?” comes the call from the barista.

He glances at his ticket. She glances at hers.

But it’s my order. I must walk between them when I go to claim it, and both of them appear flustered as they first look toward me, realize they have been observed, then look away again. I can feel their eyes on me as I pass.

Moments later, drink in hand, I head for the door, and they are reading again, or pretending to. I do not look back, preferring to imagine that they will look up after the door closes behind me, see each other once more and, having no one there this time to break the spell, speak.

But I drink decaf these days. I have few illusions.

(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons
"T Minus 46" in the 366 Days recovery program
(Edited 6/10/09 to correct spacing and also countdown number)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Black Snake Moan Day

... not that this has anything to do with that movie, other than, you know, it's Monday, and you ought to see that movie. Get it? "Moan" day? Of course you do.

That, and I've been moaning for a week or more about how sick I am. I'm probably even more tired of it than you are. Feeling better today, but can't shake the cough. Anyway, that's the biggest reason I haven't been posting, as I've been taking nighttime medicine and going to sleep early.

Bringing you up to speed on recent developments: Last Thursday, I started guitar lessons with Billy Rader. My left fingertips are now sore and developing callouses, as I've been practicing every evening. Friday night, we went to Friday Fest downtown to hear Nathan and Ashley perform at the Rabbit Hole. Saturday was an errands-and-odd-jobs day, and Sunday was beach day followed by some yard work.

And tonight I did some outdoor work, practiced guitar, went to Books-a-Million and wrote in my journal, and decided I would complete the spirit of my aborted 366 Days project by writing every day here through my birthday. Not just these entries, but fiction/poetry/whatever. Starting tomorrow, as I've already taken my nighttime meds and gotten sleepy-headed.

Till then, here's a pick:

Today's Word: Moan.