Caught The Blogger

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Certainly one of the more interesting people in Freddie Beach is Charles LeBlanc…The Blogger. I’ve seen him camped out in a tent on the grounds of the Legislature to protest the use of Ritalin in schools. He had it right on that one. I’ve seen him walking the streets of Freddie Beach looking for things to blog and taking pictures of anyone who interests him. He’s a sort of Faces of Freddie Beach kinda guy.

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I was talking with him today outside my writing studio, Read’s (unlike Studio4Ward, the rent’s the price of a coffee), when this beautiful woman came outside for a smoke. Charles immediately said, “My life will never be complete until I take her picture.” Or something like that. He made polite small talk for 2.00001 seconds and off he went.

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I immediately went into Read’s, got my Canon G12 and finally, after all these years, captured The Blogger capturing another Face of Freddie Beach.

And this is what it looked like in the other direction. Nice to see a table and chairs set up outside.

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Searching for Peace (Anywhere but in my living room carpeting)

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Snow.

I’m sick of snow. The snow here is forever. At first, it’s beautiful, the brilliant whiteness creating Rockwellian images of trees and buildings covered in vanilla icing. But the beauty begins to fade after the third or fourth snow storm, when the snow banks grow into hills and the streets shrink into one lane passages rutted with ice holes.

With each snowfall, a sense of defeat spreads through the vitamin 3-robbed population, depleting our energy and ruining our backs from having to lift our shovels higher and higher.

And there’s nothing to smell but the cold as the unrelenting snow suffocates the scent, color and texture of life, transforming the world into a sensual void, a…

“So, Biff,” said the fox, “getting tired of winter? I seem to recall you in an earlier blog saying …winter, I love you.”

“I want to wear t-shirts,” I said.

“That was your first trip out on your snow shoes, remember?” said the fox.

“I want to wear sandals and shorts,” I said.

“You took pictures of snow covered trees,” said the fox. “It was beautiful in the woods…with all that snow.”

“I want to walk barefoot along a beach…feel water lapping at my feet,” I said.

“You read a poem to the woods…to thank the snow covered woods for all the beauty,” said the fox.

“I want to lie in the grass and watch clouds drift into shapes in the sky,” I said.

“Winter! I love you! you said,” said the fox.

“That was a thousand years ago, fox,” I said.

“Sounds like as long as this search for peace of yours is going to last, Biff,” said the fox.

“Then maybe we should get back on it,” I said. “Shave a few hundred years off the search.”

“No more talk of winter blues, vitamin D deficiency, suffocation?” said the fox.

“I’ll be in Cuba in a couple of weeks,” I said. “I’ll just keep that happy thought in mind.”

“OK then, Biff,” said the fox. “Where should be look for peace today? Maybe somewhere exotic? Somewhere warm and sunny, with beaches and Pina Coladas?”

“Maybe somewhere that doesn’t let foxes in,” I said.

“Maybe some place where they show a little more respect for foxes,” said the fox.

Oh hell.

A friend recently shared a post on Facebook. It went like this: The most dangerous phrase in the language is we’ve always done it this way.

I agree. It gets back to that whole matter of change and how we fear it. We get into cultural ruts. Political stasis. Religious inflexibility. We want to know what we’ve always known…and nothing else. We want to keep doing the same thing day after day, for the rest of our lives. And we want everyone around us to do the same thing…our way. Without change. Without growth. Like putting adaptation and evolution on hold.

We’ve always done it this way.

How many species of animals have perished because they always did it this way? How many empires have crumbled because they always did it this way?

We live in a world of change populated by a dominant species that refuses to change. We create borders to define our sameness and propagate that sameness with advice like: this is the way my parents did it, and their parents and their parents’ parents. We splinter faiths to create intolerant cults that are more political than spiritual and bind the believers into dogmas that will always be done this way…deep into generation after generation.

We’ve always done it this way excludes a better way. We’ve always done it this way dries the well of self-expression. We’ve always done it this way ignores the simple truth that will be the only thing to save our collective ass: maybe we should try something else.

“Like what, Biff?” said the fox.

“I don’t know, fox,” I said. “Just about anything other than what we’re doing to ourselves now. Maybe…get out of bed on the other side. Brush our teeth with the other hand. Say yes instead of no. Smile at someone we’d rather frown at because we don’t approve of their lifestyle, religion, political leanings, sexual orientation, clothing, hair style…you name it.”

“Grin?” said the fox.

“Please don’t grin, fox,” I said.

“Hey, Biff,” said the fox. “Look at me and smile.”

“I know you’re grinning, fox,” I said. “I’m not looking.

“ C’mon, Biff, try something else,” said the fox.

“I’m not looking,” I said.

“Be the proof of your own convictions, Biff,” said the fox. “Walk the talk.”

Damn fox.

I looked at the fox. It was awful. All sharp teeth and twisted mouth. Foxes weren’t meant to smile.But I smiled anyway.

“Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it, Biff?” said the fox.

But it was. One of the hardest things I’d ever done. Trying something else is hard. It goes against our grain. Like ritual is hardwired into our genes.

“But some people do change, Biff,” said the fox. “And it isn’t hard for them.”

“Reading my thoughts again, fox,” I said.

“Hey, Biff…if you weren’t such an open book,” said the fox. “But think about it…some people do change…they never say we’ve always done it this way. The say how can we do this better?

“But their numbers are small, fox,” I said. “So small.”

“Hey, Biff,” said the fox. “How big is an acorn?”

“This some kind of game, fox?” I said.

“How big?” said the fox.

“Not big, fox” I said. “Not big at all.”

“And what does it turn into?” said the fox.

I thought about this for a moment, knowing that I should have gotten it right away, knowing it was something I’d heard so many times…knowing I’d forgotten this simple truth.

It made me smile at the grinning fox.

(To be continued. With acorns.)

“So, Biff,” said the fox. “Whatcha going to do in Cuba?”

“Sit on the beach with my daughter and drink pina coladas,” I said.

“Away from the snow?” said the fox.

“Away from the snow.”

(BTW…these snow dune pics were taken today, just outside Fredericton. For all of you poor souls without snow…feel free to come here and take away as much as you want.)

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The War Bug

(Excerpt from my third novel, The War Bug. You can buy it at Amazon. Just do a search for crazy stupid book. BTW, there’s no giant ant in the book. The War Bug is a computer virus that causes a war between online city states…but turns out to be kinda nice when it helps the lead character get his virtual family back. I wrote a short story in which the cover artist get his for putting an ant on the cover. The publisher who published the book with the ant on the cover also published the story in which the cover artist gets his. Go figure.)

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The Great Nano Canyon

“Cold murdering bitch. Damn, just one night with her, one hour!” muttered Jeemo, as he wiped drool from his chin and took off the white robe. The orange spikes on his head stood straight up like sharp erections.

Jeemo Roosenvelt would gladly have taken the sexclone’s place if he could have fallen to his death with his brain fresh full of sex with Bella and the smell of her cruelty seeping into his gray flesh.

He stared at his naked body in the wall length mirror. “Perfection!”

Vast folds of flesh rolled over thick layers of fat. Seven feet, seven hundred pounds. Jeemo loved the symmetry of the numbers. Somewhere under that mass his penis twitched crazily. He could feel it. “Yes. Throb my hidden toy, throb for the goddess Bella, psycho lust kitten of the emerald palace.”

He turned sideways, looking up and down the bulk of his body, at the gray face bulging out of his shoulders, and the fan of orange hair spikes forming a line from one ear to the other. His hands and feet were small and delicate; his movement as he turned before the mirror, fluid and graceful. He loved to watch himself move. He loved to watch himself standing still. He loved to watch himself eat, sit, lying down. Every wall of every room in his mansion, except one, was a mirror. Through the mirrors he could watch his enormous girth stretch into an infinity of reflected images.

A tuxedoed serverclone—one of the lower orders of clones, bred without legs, but equipped with anti-gravity boots so that their footsteps would not irritate their owners—floated to his side with a glass of red wine on a silver tray. It was reflected thousands of times over in the walls. “Dinner will be ready in ten minutes, Mr. Roosenvelt.”

Jeemo whisked the wine glass to his lips with a single motion and the serverclone floated away. Sipping wine, Jeemo bounced lightly, mounds of skin shaking like sickly jelly, to an arched window. The glass in the window could withstand the force of an F7 tornado—and it had.

Outside, the moon spilled over a Mid-west gutted like a war zone, spreading into the darkness, deep into the New Tornado Alley leading right up to the edge of the Great Nano Canyon. In the distance, strange light played in the air over sections of the canyon, dancing in bursts of blue and orange. This was normal.

The canyon wasn’t.

***

Less than a hundred years into the new millennium, the human race came close to becoming cheese soup. It started with the world’s smallest computer, a computer so small, it could only be seen with an electron microscope. It was the first assembler nanobot, a concoction of seven atoms that had been circuited, programmed and instructed to build—though what the nanobot was supposed to build was never known. In the process of building, it killed ten million people, including the people who had programmed it, and the last communication with them had been from the project’s lead Nano-applications Specialist, Milton Nadd.

His pallid face had filled the phone monitor as he whispered, “My god, it’s cheese soup…”

Then the screen had gone blank.

No one will ever know why it was cheese soup, but here’s how the nanobot was supposed to work: it was supposed to visit neighboring atoms and nudge them around until it had built another nanobot exactly like itself. Then the two nanobots were to visit neighboring atoms and nudge them around until they had built two more nanobots exactly like themselves. Then the four nanobots…

It was much like E-bola, only faster. In fact, it was so fast that, by the time Milton Nadd had said “cheese soup”, he was cheese soup. And his videophone was cheese soup. The other researchers and scientists and administrators and computer technicians in the room with Milton Nadd were all cheese soup. Desks, computers, chairs, paper clips, Far Side calendars, pencils and papers and books were all cheese soup. A million dollar electron microscope shook twice then collapsed into a splash of cheese soup that turned most of the floor into

cheese soup. The walls literally flowed into the floor and the ceiling fell and bubbled into the yellow-orange liquid. Within minutes, the entire underground high-security maximum-containment, fool-proof, fail-safe, absolutely accident free and “Senator-Jonz-you-won’t-ever-have-to-worry-about-anything-escaping-from-this-place-or-my-name-isn’t-Doctor-Milton-Nadd” facility was cheese soup, and it was working its way up through the ground, turning layers of red granite, quartz schist and an elevator containing junior research assistant, Jaqui Wright, who, strangely, had always wanted to be cheese soup, into cheese soup.

Now the assemblers were in gear, revved up and ready to rock, rarin’ to chew into the atoms of igneous and metamorphic rock, bite into the neutrons of trees and grass and asphalt and spit out cheese soup. Highways, lakes and towns, swimming pools and rivers, airports and trains, canoes full of frothy cold beer, and entire cities all churned into cheese soup. Hundreds of square miles of North Dakota were cheese soup by the time the news began to spread. Around the world, people panicked and rioted while others prepared quietly to become cheese soup. Jerry Springer was thawed from cryostasis and hosted a special on people who had sex in vats of cheese soup. Leaders of the Unified Global Village pondered and debated over international chat forums and concluded that it was time to try something new, and soup was always OK. Just when the world was ready to accept cheese soupness, the assemblers stopped.

Just stopped.

There was no apparent reason. They just stopped, after having created a mass of cheese soup that stretched from Winnipeg to Fargo and from Williston to Duluth. The whole planet held its breath in unison, as the ocean of cheese soup trembled like gunky jello without advancing a single atom in any direction. It stayed like that for three days. Then the giant mass of cheese soup went “ping”—not a loud ping, but a barely audible “ping”, like two expensive champagne glasses toasted by ladybugs. By the time the “ping” had “inged”, the cheese soup was gone. In its place was a perfectly round bowl in the earth, its walls polished and smooth. Millions of people who had flocked to the edges of the cheese soup

stared quietly, their faces a wall of open-eyed non-expression around the massive hole left by the cheese soup.

Nobody knew why it disappeared. Nobody knew why it stopped. Only the handful of Nanotechnologists Milton Nadd had called just before he became cheese soup knew why or how it had started, and they later restricted all nanoresearch to space stations far from the Earth’s orbit until the research was proved safe. Or at least somewhat reasonably safe.

Of course, there were those who thought a giant empty bowl was a big improvement over the former landscape.

***

For the briefest flicker of time, Jeemo’s mind drew him back to the failure of nano-treatments to change his body, rejecting him like a bad odor. Then the rejection by his parents, as though he were an insult to their DNA, and then his childhood spent with serverclones and software. Other than his parents, he’d never been in the same room as a real human, never touched real flesh other than his own. But that was all he’d needed, to feel himself real and nano-resistant, so perfect even the bots couldn’t improve him. He was the new standard of human perfection, and he loved every cubic inch of space he occupied.

But he’d gladly die for just a brush of Bella’s cold touch.

“Hot damn! That crazy woman’s going to fuck my brains out and flush me into the ocean.” The throbbing between his huge legs went into hyper drive at the thought of plunging into the ocean with Bella’s acid love fluids burning into his body. All he had to do was get the woman and the girl for her.

He sipped his wine as he stared into the sky over the Great Nano Canyon. The pink hole that was his mouth curved into something like a smile. And there’s the key to it all, he thought, why didn’t I think of that sooner? I’ll move it later. He’ll never find them now.

A sweet aroma curled into his nostrils. Mmm, honey glazed ham. There would be Poinsettia Eggs en Gelee. Potatoes Savonnette and watercress soup. And none of it would taste like chicken. Oh, it might hint of chicken on the aftertaste—chicken was inescapable these days—but the glazed ham would taste like glazed ham on the first few chews.

Searching for Peace (Through the eye of a needle encore)

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“Whatcha doin’, Biff?” said the fox.

“Searching for peace, fox,” I said as I leaned into the carpeting on my living room floor, looking intently through the eye of a needle.

“Think you’ll find it that way, Biff?” said the fox.

“Nope. Not here, fox,” I said. “Finding about a billion dust mites and some cat hair from when Kiki and Gibson were visiting. And a bread crumb. But no peace.”

“Maybe you’re just not getting into it enough, Biff,” said the fox.

“Whadaya by that, fox?” I said.

Suddenly, I was falling into to the eye of the needle. I wasn’t any smaller, but the needle had taken on the proportions of a giant obelisk and I was heading straight for the eye, which seemed to be rushing at me as I fell toward it and the two edges of the eye rushed at me like two metal columns joined at the top to form a domed gateway that I fell through.

Did I mention I was screaming?

The fox did this.

I landed safely on the carpet, though upside down, surveying the jungle of carpet around me as I balanced on my head. It was kind of cool. The carpet fibers were of wavy and what everybody’s worst hair day would feel like. Something moved a few feet in front of me (which would be less than an inch in non-carpet distance) and I heard a voice calling out: “Hey, Biff!”

“Yeah?” I said, not really knowing who or what I was talking to but, as my vision cleared in the dimness of the carpeting, I started to see about a billion fat spidery bodies with plump double pincers instead of faces…like blobs with short blobby legs.

“Hey, Biff!” said the one in front of me. “We’re dust mites. We live on the skin you shed every day when you do Tai Chi and Qi Gong in your living room. Boy, Biff, you shed a lot of skin. Take a look around.”

I looked around and saw a lot of patches of skin. My skin. And these blobs were eating it.

Yuk..

(Note to self: Cure for dust mites…scrub harder in the shower.)

About a billion dust mites were making giggly sounds with puffy bodies wiggling like gelatin about to melt. They were hanging upside down from the carpet fibers. Standing on my head was starting to make sense.

“So,” I said. “I hope I’m not squashing you when I do my stuff in the morning.”

“C’mon, Biff,” said the mite. “Take a look around. There’s mites to spare. You keep the population down. Otherwise we’d be spilling out your windows and doors.”

“Guess I can find solace in that,” I said.

I was kind of relieved they weren’t pissed off and about to eat me. But…come to think of it…they were eating me. Sort of.

Didn’t see the fox anywhere. Must’ve finally hibernated. Strange thing though…I still had the needle I’d just fallen through in my hand.

“Biff,” said the mite, “we heard about your search for peace. How’s it going?”All around me, mites hanging from carpet fiber wiggled and giggled as they chewed on pieces of my skin.

“Not really sure, mite,” I said. “It seems to be coming in bits and peaces, like a giant jigsaw with missing pieces and pieces that should fit together but don’t.”

“Sounds like life, Biff,” said the mite. About a billion dust mites stopped wiggling and giggling and chewing and turned toward the mite that was talking to me…and I swear they seemed to be nodding in agreement.

So I thought about this. The mites turned their attention to me as I thought. I’m not sure how I knew this, but I did. Maybe I was developing some kind of mite sense. When you’re surrounded by about a billion of them…

“So…you’re saying life is like a fucked up jigsaw puzzle?” I said.

“At first glance,” said the mite. “Pieces will always be missing. And some parts will never fit together.”

About a billion mites bounced up and down hanging from their carpet fibers, making clicking sounds with their pincers.

Clicking sounds.

I’d heard that sound before, when I was doing Qi Gong in the morning. It was dust mites. Clicking in my carpeting. About a billion of them.

“So if my search for peace is like life,” I said, “then I’ll never find it?

“No, Biff,” said the mite. “I mean that you’ll eventually find something…something that makes the search worth it in spite of the missing pieces.”

“So,” I said, “the search goes on?”

“Missing pieces and all, Biff,” said the mite.

About a billion dust mites wiggled and giggled and bounced and made clicking sounds across the firmament of my living room carpet.

“Look into the eye of the needle, Biff,” said the mite.

I looked at the needle, right into the eye, and it grew to immense proportions all over my living room, and I was falling upwards through those gargantuan columns again and standing in my living room with the needle in my hand.

Did I mention that I was screaming again?

“So, Biff,” said the fox. “Did you find peace in your carpeting?”

“Not really, fox,” I said. “But I think I’m going to start walking a little softer when I do my morning workouts.”

The fox grinned. I felt a cold chill racing up my spine.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that, fox,” I said.

“So you talked to the mites?” said the fox.

“About a billion of them,” I said. “And I’m still not a hundred percent certain what really happened in my carpeting, but I think my search for peace is starting to make little more sense.”

“How so, Biff?” said the fox.

“Not sure yet, fox,” I said. “But I’ll figure it out.”

(To be continued. But not in a carpet.)

“You could have warned me about the needle, fox.” I said.

“Hey, Biff…what doesn’t kill you…doesn’t kill you.”