Saturday, October 03, 2015

Uh oh.

This can only mean that the Idiocracy has achieved its ultimate goal.

It has what plants need.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Constant Struggle

There are some things that I will never completely understand. I try to figure them out, but in the end they make no sense whatsoever.

Probably the finest thing the US nation has ever done was to establish National Parks and wilderness areas. As far as I know, it was an original idea that was born in this country. Part of the reason could be that we actually had unspoiled places that were worth protecting. There was a time when these Parks and wild places were delineated and placed under the sheltering wing of common good.

But those days seem to be over.

And I cannot figure that out, no matter how hard I try to understand how we can all be manipulated to the contrary.

For some years now, there has been an effort to create a new National Park in the state of Maine. It has been some time since a large, new National Park was dedicated in the USA. Some smaller ones have been named, but these have almost all been mere transfers of title from National Monument status to that of National Park. Most of these have been rather small areas, very fragile, and with little in the way of infrastructure.

The proposed Park in Maine has been called "The North Woods National Park" and sometimes the Maine Woods National Park. It would encompass over three million acres of mainly roadless forests, rivers, ponds, lakes, gorges, valleys, bogs, and mountains. Almost none of it is virgin territory, since Maine has pretty much been logged from side to side, end to end for lumber and pulpwood over the past couple of centuries. So there's not really anything there in the form of untouched lands.

What this area does have is the potential to be a set of recovered environments, and a place where "rewilding" can take place. Mother Nature repairs Herself if left unmolested by the hand of Mankind's exploitation. Everything that lives on the planet needs places like this. As long as we have wide areas of wilderness, then the ecology that birthed us and sheltered us and provided us with clean air and water can continue to do so. These are facts that are self-evident.

But whenever such an effort to create something like a National Park is raised, there is always a push-back against them. The people who earn vast amounts of cash wrecking these spots never fail to rally their forces to prevent the establishment of Parks and wilderness. Generally, they get their ignorant minions to scream about "government land grabs" and other such nonsense. Grabbed from whom? Given to whom?

The proposed North Woods National Park is something that this nation needs. It has been far too long since a large, new national Park was added to the eastern USA. Here is the acreage. This is the place where forest ecosystems can be restored; where wild  creatures that have been eliminated from the land can be repatriated.

Let's have it. Now.


The Woodland caribou, which used to live in Maine but which has been extirpated from the area. It could be restored to the area within the proposed Park boundaries.

Even the folk who promote the proposed Park are afraid to mention the Timber wolf when discussing the effort. This is because one of the main arguments against the Park come from brainless hunting and gun rights morons who are among the most effective weapons of the corporate elite who don't want to see a new National Park created.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sharing the Trail with a Critter

I took this on what I call "The Sick Hike" when I was hunting for the Sag Branch Poplar tree and in the middle of the hike I was suddenly hit with the flu. I've recounted it before (several times). It was a completely miserable experience. However, the forests of Cataloochee were particularly gorgeous that day, and the views from the overlooks were spectacular. I was just far too sick to enjoy them.

Early in the hike--before I got sick--I noticed that a coyote was also using the trail. No one else was in this part of the Park that cold, snowy morning. My tracks were the only ones...except for those being made by a wandering coyote.

Mr. Coyote was sharing the trail with me.

This was still early on in the elk restoration days.

A last view as I drove home with a high fever.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Light Hearted Fun

One of my favorite musicians from my youth was Nick Lowe. Among the many reasons that I liked him was that he had a kind of jaded attitude toward pop music, even though he created the same kind of material. He was sharp enough that he could make light of it in such a way that he could produce mocking, but brilliant pop music. Even while laughing at it and throwing confetti he managed to create amusing tunes.

One target of his inspired irony was the old flash-in-the-pan pop band, Bay City Rollers. Somehow, and for reasons that aren't quite clear to me, Lowe managed to fashion two excellent songs that poked good-natured ribbing at the Rollers, while at the same time crafting a pair of songs that are a lot of fun to hear.

Lowe seems to have left pop music far behind in his later years, these days crafting a much more introspective kind of art. I still tend to follow his career.

Good ol' Nick Lowe.

From his amazing album, PURE POP FOR NOW PEOPLE. I don't think there's a tune on this album that is disappointing.

The earlier "Bay City Rollers, We Love You" which perfectly captures the treacly sound (and attitude) of bubblegum pop.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Sometimes I find the Internet to be way the hell too much. Lately it has proven to be this way more than in the past.

One of my great regrets in life was that I never had a formal college education. I was too poor on the one hand, and too confused on the other. A lot of people I know who have good college educations tend to belittle the years they put into getting a degree, but for someone like me who never had the benefit of a discipline of ordered learning, those sentiments are not appreciated.

And so, over the years, I have tended to overcompensate for that lack of a disciplined education by reading. And I have read a lot. Not as much as some mutant intellects I have encountered, but more than most. The problem is that I have read widely and with absolutely no focus. I am familiar with a broad range of concepts and know a tremendous amount of superficial facts, but have detailed knowledge of few subjects.

Thus, my regret at having had no formal post-high school education.

I do have that Associate's degree that I earned by taking a class here and a class there at a local community college. But there it ended. Lack of funds and the responsibilities of a family stopped it there. Even that small accomplishment took me many years.

Because of the way that I tend to study (scattershot reading), the Internet has been a shiny toy for me. 'Ooo! Look! There! Yow! What's that?! Amazing! I didn't know that! Wow!' A sad and slapstick learning process that leads me to have just enough knowledge about things to piss people off and earn a reputation as a "know-it-all" (aka "smartass").

Recently I was looking at my newsfeeds. I consume a lot of news, but none of it domestic. (I find the various news sources in the USA to be stunted and laughable propaganda.) At one point recently I was perusing a little over 100 English-language news sites every day. Even I had to admit that this was pretty damned outrageous. I wouldn't actually read each of them every day, but I would skim them all and look for articles that interested me. Finally, I decided that 103 news sites was too much. So I pared them sixty-one. Yeah...that's still wild.

I think I need to shift back a few gears on the old Internet. It long ago became a pretty radical time-sink for me. It has helped me in some ways, but has proven to be a barrier in others.

Stepping back for an objective look is in order.

"Ooo! Shiny!"

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Here's a brief excerpt from my novel, BEAUTIFUL BOY, making the rounds.

     Something was terribly wrong.
     Billy Sothern had sat and pondered this single fact for hours leading into entire days. It had been on his mind ever since he’d gone up on the ridge with his dogs.
     Dirty, unshaved, his hair wild and golden whiskers covering his young face, he suddenly became tense at the thought of his dogs. Where were his dogs?
     “I killt them all,” he said to no one, for he was alone in his house. “Naw, naw,” he whispered. “I couldn’t have killt my dogs. Not my very own dogs. How can a man run a decent hunt without dogs? I love my dogs.” Sothern closed his eyes and tried to remember.
     “I did,” he finally said. “I killed all of them. They attacked me. Why would they do that? Why would they turn on me like that? I had to do it.” He turned in his chair and looked down at the big mug of coffee on the dining room table. The coffee was thick and black and had gone completely cold. He’d brewed it that morning—hours before—and now it was all cold and unfit to drink. The sun was almost gone in the sky.
     “What the hell?” He asked no one. How had he sat there in the kitchen of his little house for so many hours? Had he even called in sick to work? He couldn’t recall.
     “They attacked me,” he said again. “I was just minding my own business, and all of the sudden they were on my ass. I had to do it. Nobody can blame me for defending myself.” He stood--as if to make a point to some absent jury. “Right? See? It was nothing but self defense. Anyone could see that.”
     “It wasn’t me they were attacking,” he whispered. His right hand, dry and dirty, went to his mouth, taking his chin and feeling the hard stubble. “It was something else, but it wasn’t me.”
     Sothern stumbled away from the table and he walked down the short hallway to his bedroom. The lights were all off and the sun was going down and only the reddish light of late afternoon filtered through the trees and over the high ridges that loomed over the tight little valley in which his house was located. Outside, the nearby creek gurgled relentlessly—he could hear it plainly through the open windows. Air that had gone from cool to cold, bordering on bitter cold, was filtering through the rooms.
     “How did I kill them? I didn’t shoot them. I didn’t even have my gun with me,” he said. “I don’t remember having a gun. How did I defend myself, then?”
     Suddenly, the room was very cold. Far colder than the wind coming in through those windows. Colder even than the water in the creek flowing outside.
     “You didn’t need no gun, Billy.”
     Sothern spun and looked back to the table from which he’d just risen. Someone was sitting there, someone he recognized.
     “Oh, shit,” Billy said. Sitting there at his table was Phil Rickley, and waiting silently on the other side of the room, just as he had always done, was Phil’s brother. “You’re dead,” he said to the ghost.
     Rickley smiled, his teeth rusty with dried blood, his eyes still bugging from the pressure of the impact of his car against earth. “Well, heck yes, I’m dead! Don’t I look dead?”
     “Yeah. You damned sure look dead, Phil.”
     The ghost got up from the seat and walked the few steps separating him from his host. He smiled again. “You don’t flinch, man. I like that. You always did have guts. Even back when we was in high school. I never could make you jump.”
     “No, I reckon not,” Sothern said, looking past Phil to the silent brother who merely stood, facing in the other direction, apparently looking out into the forest through the open window.
     “Yeah, I had to admit in those days that you had guts, Billy. You know, I wanted you to run with me and the boys. Tried like hell to get you to ride with us. But you never did.”
     “No,” Billy said. “I never did.”
     “Why is that, Billy? Why didn’t you hang with us? Me an’ the rest?” His face had taken on a more serious shade.
     “Well, look how you ended up, Phil.”
     The ghost snickered. “Hell, you do have a slight point. But look how you ended up. How you like your own current situation? How’s that workin’ out for you?”
     “I don’t know what you mean. What situation are you talking about?”
     The ghost came up very close to Sothern, and still the other man did not flinch, did not step back. Those golf-ball eyes peered into the face of the living fellow, examining him, measuring him. Rickley was so close that Billy should have been able to smell him, but all he could smell was the forest around the house, the water flowing down the creek, the drying and fading scents left by his dogs, who were all now dead and gone.
     “I almost believe you don’t know what situation I’m talkin’ about,” the ghost whispered. “But you do. You know goddamned well what I mean.”
     “I don’t.”
     “First of all, you see a ghost sittin’ at your dinner table and what do you do? Do you run? Do you scream? Do you question your sanity? No. Your senses are all wired up just right, and you damned well know it. You know it better than you would have known it a couple nights ago. And what happened then? What happened, Billy?
     “What did you do to your dogs, Billy? I know you loved them dogs. Where are they? What did you do to them? What’s that up there on old Tater Patch Mountain rottin’ away? All scattered on the ridge where you left ‘em?”
     “That was…self defense. They went crazy. I had to do it.”
     For an instant, it seemed as if Rickley was going to raise his hand and place it on Sothern’s shoulder. But he didn’t do that. The idea passed between the two—man and ghost—but nothing happened. “Of course you had to do it. Of course it was self-defense. But them dogs was bound to go after what you are.”
     “What I am? What are you talking about?”
     “Come on, goddamn it! Admit it! Admit what you are.” The expression on the ghost’s face had passed from mildly amused to something bordering anger. His scarred and bloody brow knitted into a frown. The mask was dark and hideous.
     “I’m just a man,” Billy Sothern said. “I’m just a man. I don’t know what got into my dogs. There’s no explanation for it, I tell you.”
     “I’m here to tell you, Billy. Don’t pull that holier-than-thou crap on me like you used to do in high school. Like your shit don’t stink or somethin’. I’m telling you that things have changed. You ain’t no better than me, now. In fact, you might even be worse.”
     “No!” There was something in Billy that wanted him to strike out at the dead man standing impossibly in his house, but his arms were frozen to his sides, his hand limp and not clenched into the fists he wanted to throw into that bloodied face. “I’m better than you.”
     “Hell no, you ain’t. Not now, if you ever was. You’re somethin’ else, now, boy. Like how you didn’t used to see a nigger when you looked at that fuck Ben Whittaker. It was only us Rickleys who could see that! It flat ate my daddy alive that nobody else could see those apes for what they was. It was witchcraft, Billy. And now things are goin’ to be different. Now there’s somethin’ to be done about it. And you’re goin’ to help do it!”
     By now, the sun had set. The skies were dark, save for the bare indication of pale light filtering over the ridge that stood watch over the deep valley in which Sothern’s house was couched. Sothern wanted to talk, to argue, to explain himself. But his throat was suddenly unsuitable for speech. His lips were now incapable of forming coherent syllables. His tongue was not then needed for making human sounds.
     “There’s a reason for this, Sothern! There’s a reason for everything. You’ve got a purpose in this life, now.” He raised his wet arm and pointed toward the window, cold wind blowing at the simple yellow curtains there.
     What had been Billy Sothern was now on all fours, tearing at the floor, eyes burning like embers, his face twisted into a snout, his teeth now tusks suitable for tearing. Hands were no more, gone to paws, Fingers were claws. His mind was missing in action. In place of coherent thoughts there were only images of rage, of violence, of crimson moments of assault, of attack, of bloody murder.
     Phil Rickley stood aside to let the huge thing roar past him, through the open window, into the moonlit night.
    “That’s what you are now, Billy Sothern. That’s what you are.” The ghost glided out of the house, his brother in tow. “Go do your work, Sothern. We all have our parts to play.”

Monday, September 21, 2015


Migraine day. Going to hibernate.

Posting this mockup for a project-in-progress.