January 2012


As consistent as the flowing tides are
Is that frail thing some call the human mind
It is a catch-all, a spiritual jar
Look through it–you can’t imagine what you’ll find
I find, when i look deep into myself
Objects forgotten, people and places
All waiting for the right time to be heard
This same time last week i spoke with a soul
And the conversation got out of hand
Our words took root and our heads took to flight
And we spoke out our minds ’til dawn’s first light
From policies to fallacies and more
From jarred daffodils to gold dill pickles
From the weather report to the whether retort
Of hearts broken, aching, sometimes attacked
Of knots and ‘not-to-be’s, and honeybees
One idea melting into the next
I’m always surprised at where we end up
But I never regret what I’ve said
Talks like these let you see the inside
Of another person; what makes them tick
You’ve shared a part of yourself; they have too
But I don’t have many talks like that anymore.

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“Well,” Jennie sighed, “they sent us ‘Tigger’ again.”

There was no surer indication of the low esteem with which the administration regarded the women’s field hockey team than their transportation. State law and Title IX demanded that it be a vehicle from the school motor pool, and the team was too large to be accommodated in even the largest van.

So a bus it was, the same bus that had once transported the football team back when the school had played in Division II. The motor, running gear, and just about everything else hadn’t been serviced since the 1970’s, but the real problem was the suspension. It was incredibly loose and wobbly, meaning that the slightest road bumps were magnified into a terrifying roller-coaster ride in the back. The movement was so great that anyone trying to sleep with their head against a window would inevitably get a sharp crack on the skull for their trouble.

And that’s why the girls called it ‘Tigger’–that damn bus loved to bounce.

People still talked about how he reportedly stood on a hilltop and held off the twister of ’65, the one that laid waste to a good bit of the surrounding countryside. Even those who didn’t believe for a minute that the tornado had altered course for any supernatural reason respected him for his courage.

As a result, Bull was one of the rare few community members respected by natives and Anglos alike. And it would be lying to say he didn’t cultivate that reputation a little; why else would he serve as deacon for the local Methodist church while at the same time acting as medicine man to those who sought it?

To be honest, people had always been a little sketchy on the details of his biography. But when conflict arose between the two sides of East Street, as it always did, Bull was one of the few with the respect to defuse things.

Getting one-time broadcasting rights was a whole different kettle of fish from getting home viewing rights, especially when the original agreement was inked in the 80’s when digital downloads weren’t even a spark in Steve Jobs’ eye.

“Episode 2×13, ‘Heavy Medals,'” Karrie said, keying the safety copy up on the movieola. “Original airdate, March 15 1987.”

Gary flipped through the cue sheets. “Looks like only two songs for this one. One’s just in the end credits.”

Karrie fast-forwarded. End credits songs were always the easiest to swap out, as they didn’t usually impact the story in any meaningful way. “What do you think? Send it to the house composer for an original piece?”

“Nah, just drop in the instrumental theme he wrote for 1×21,” said Gary. “The fans will bitch, but they’ll still buy the DVD. Next is ‘Through the Window’ by Power of Silicon.”

Karrie keyed through the episode, script in hand. “It’s mentioned in dialogue at 2:27, 8:17, 13:00, 14:58, 20:09, and 22:11.” She squinted. “Each of those is actually 1-2 mentions apiece, very close together.”

“Holy shit,” Gary said.

“They built the whole episode around the song. It’s about Carla coming to terms with her hatred of electronic elements in music and ends with Ferg swapping one of her reels, on-air, so she accidentally plays a bunch of hardcore techno. That piece, thank god, was by the house composer.” Karrie rubbed her forehead. “How much does Power of Silicon want for home viewing rights?”

Gary consulted his sheet. “1.2 million dollars plus residuals. Apparently the former lead singer’s getting a divorce.”

“Why don’t you want to see the movie? I thought you said you loved movies.”

“I said I like 80’s sci-fi/fantasy. That’s a very different thing, a discrete subset of all movies.”

“What?”

“Oh sure, there are some outliers, like Forbidden Planet and Lord of the Rings. But the movies made after motion control, animatronics, and makeup got really good–around Star Wars–and when cruddy modern sci-fi/fantasy started–around Independence Day–and everything became cruddy CGI crap-fests.”

“What’s wrong with sci-fi today? I think Destructors IV: Depths of the Earth looks fun, even if it is CGI.”

“I’ll tell you the problem with CGI: it doesn’t require any discipline to attain. No models, no makeup…they standd on the shoulders of computer geniuses to accomplish something as fast as they can, slapped it on the big screen, and sell it!”

“Is that a Jurassic Park quote? If you’re going o go all movie-nerd, you might as well quote a movie that fits your hypothesis.”

When they first put him in the corner office, Raymond noticed that the building’s orientation left the winter wind howling on two sides, making it frigid. There were no windows to let in a little solar radiation, either, but Raymond put up with it because he was lucky to have a job in the economy circa 1979.

When they put Jarvis, who was technically Raymond’s junior, in a better office, Raymond didn’t complain. He put up with it because he had a growing family to feed, and it would be silly to risk his wife and child’s livelihood over an office that was chilly 9 months out of the year.

When Mulligan, who was by far Raymond’s junior, was promoted to a nicer office above, leaving Raymond in his chilly old office (and also the only one in his department), he put up with it. After all, retirement was coming and there wasn’t much to come home to after the divorce.

Eventually, when the building was slated for demolition, they finally moved Raymond out of his drafty office–onto an unemployment line. They were able to get a college kid to do the work for half the pay, not to mention all the cash saved on the company retirement plan.

Then, and only then, did Raymond refuse to roll over.

I got into contact with a professor at the University of L├╝deritz, who serves as a go-between for many of the local maritime operators in addition to managing the archives. He was able to confirm the story through local sources: the MV Isabella did in fact run aground on the Skeleton Coast during inclement weather on June 17, 1974. By the time rescuers arrived, half of the crew had died.

At that point, however, there was an interesting divergence in our records. My sources had indicated that the men had died of exposure or injuries sustained during the grounding. The university and newspaper archives, on the other hand, claim that the survivors were found some distance inland, near the coastal road. The casualties were scattered all over the area between the coast and the Isabella, and no cause of death was listed.

“Why would the press release that went out worldwide disagree with what people on the ground knew to be true?” I asked myself.

My answer came in an email a few days later. “For the same reason behind any false information: fear.”

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