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Essence.

Long-time readers will recall yr. correspondent’s abiding disdain for Grover “Bathtub” Norquist, which has occasionally bubbled over to an embarrassing degree; how nice to once more be reminded nothing changes:

“There’s a moment when people say, ‘Did you notice what percentage of this agency was viewed as nonessential?’ ” said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

(Well. One thing’s changed: as I’m now an employee of the federal judiciary, I get to take his bullshit personally.)

—I mean, it’s no “drown it in a bathtub” but hey, you can’t knock it out of the park every time you spit on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for a pithy soundbite. —And of course he knows that’s not what “essential” means, not in this context: it’s merely the all-too-cold equation being jerry-rigged all over the country to tell the difference between people who must show up and work, without pay, and those who’ve been furloughed—sent home, without pay.

“It’s inconvenient that they’re not getting paid,” Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser, said of the furloughed workers. “But it’s for time they’re not even going into the office.”

(I realize these think-tank apparatchiks have never worked a day in their fucknugget lives, but do they ever have even a glancing contact with the world the rest of us live in, paycheck to paycheck?)

Hopefully it never gets to the point where I can no longer afford the first secure job I’ve had in years. —But if it does, and planes start falling from the sky of his libertarian paradise, I can at least console myself with the thought of Norquist racing to the bathroom to heave his e. coli-infected guts into a bathtub he’s only just drained.

Domesticity, with cats.

Domesticity, with cats.

(That would be the redoubtable Beezel above, Fennec below, known also as Gentleman Marmalade, and the Spouse embroidering in the midst.)

It’s getting odd out there.

“Kip Manley Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the City of Roses Season One: Autumn Into Winter book, this is one of the most wanted Kip Manley author readers around the world.” —I’m not gonna link the source, for obvious reasons. Here, go read that Max Read article instead.

To yelp, or not to yelp.

“What happens to our notion of humanity if Hamlet just takes out his smartphone and asks Siri what to do?” Nothing. Not a goddamn thing. —Christ, where do they find these people?

Bhat kachang.

“First put on the peas, and when half boiled, add the bacon. When the peas are well boiled, throw in the rice, which must first be washed and gravelled. When the rice has been boiling half an hour, take the pot off the fire and put it on coals to steam, as in boiling rice alone.” —Worked out pretty well, so far, 2019, but this year, this is the year I’m gonna remember to properly source my rice and beans ahead of time.

2018’s over, if you want it.

Ha ha ha, what a year! What did I do, what did I do: burned Twitter to the ground, fucked off Tumblr, dumped Chrome and backed slowly away from the rest of Google, I never trusted Facebook or cottoned to Instagram, so what’s left? Linkedin? Good God, has anyone ever successfully extricated themselves from that?

—So now I get to sit here and wonder why, with all this time I’ve managed to free for myself, I somehow managed to not write a novelette all year.

Let’s see, what were we up to: lost a cat, gained a cat, stepped from third grade to fourth grade, went freelance, started burning more candles, and I went and found myself a job, and I’ve all of a sudden learned what it means to give a shit about what you do, and maybe that’s what’s become of some of that free time?

Maybe. —Anyway, I’m almost done with no. 32. I’m still blogging here (I liked this one; this one was fun). —I’ll probably keep waking up at four in the morning to feed the cats and light a candle and see what I can accomplish by setting one letter down after another while it’s quiet. Further bulletins, etc.

I think that just about covers it.

“I do not regret the incident. I will not apologize, given the opportunity. I don’t plan on doing anything like this in the future but to be fair I didn’t plan the initial incident, I just found them and decided to go through with it.” —NathanTheHicc

A new world.

So the ten-year-old is getting into D&D, so I went and made a world for her.

The Fedhir Nation.

(It gets easier, as you get older, making worlds. —I merely filed incriminating details off of this, and added a sprinkling of these. —Voila!)

Of course, almost all of this will never be seen; it’s all just airy atmosphere. Ambience. From the notices sent forth to candidates:

No Dwarves! No Elves! No Half-Anything! —Otherwise, whichever Bob you like might be your uncle. —You’re newly minted adventurers headed for the city known variously as Ossrond, Othronn, Ethrynn, Ndu Kemen, Sunso, or, most formally, as Nueämbar—a fantastical outpost of the Elven Empire (the Fedhir Nation), anchor of commerce and urbanity on the great green Coast of Flies (the Gnat Palastor)—and site of the Elves’ great and terrible defeat of the Dwarves, mumblety-mumble years ago. —It’s the darkening days of autumn, and great huracanoe-storms are building out in the Circled Sea to herald winter with tree-lashing rains. Fisherfolk, merchants, coffee-farmers and tea-distillers, brontosaurus-herders, mountebanks and mendicants, the landless houseless peoples all along the Coast of Flies are streaming to the fabled groves of Nueämbar and the vasty caverns within—or rather, the fabled caverns, and the vasty groves within—for shelter in the coming cold wet wind-tossed season. And you are there, among the raucous hordes! —If you’d like a glimpse of this wondrous city before we arrive, look up images of the Son Doong cave system, and imagine a dozen Rivendells tucked here and there, like kudzu creeping into Khazad-dûm.

So: pants-seated night-flown Adventure in dragon-adjacent dungeons! —Further bulletins as events (and the dice) warrant.

Remember, remember.

Huh. —This is my first election night without, as the kids call it, the Birdsite in quite some time. I wonder how this used to work?

Go, read:

back in the good old days, the before-times, we used to spend a whole blog post on nothing more than telling you to go and and read somebody else’s blog post, so: while I’m elsewhere otherwise occupied, go you then and read about the time Maria Farrell debated Ted Cruz into the ground.

#notallC.A.B.

A look at what the retired horses of Portland’s no-longer Mounted Unit have been up to, a year after they were disbanded:

Murphy went back home in southern Oregon where he’s competing in dressage, a highly skilled form of riding, while Red, Monty and Asher are with families who wished to keep their locales private. Major found his place in Prineville, while Diesel went back home to Port Orchard, Washington. Olin aids people with mental or physical barriers as a therapy horse at Forward Stride in Beaverton, and Zeus lives with a former mounted patrol stable attendant at the Lake Oswego Hunt Club.

But why, as the kids say, do you have to go and make this political.

Even though she has friends living in the city, Mack said she remembers her years there with the horses so vividly that she can’t bear to visit Portland anymore.

“Honestly, it’s sad for me to go there,” she said. “I mean, I look around every corner and remember when a horse was walking there.”

And she still wonders, she said, why the unit was disbanded yet again.

“It’s pretty hazy to me as to why, after 20 years of blood, sweat and tears, I was told it was a budget issue when it didn’t appear to be a budget issue.”

She said they were told the mounted patrol would be replaced by community service officers, but she never saw that happen.

“There’s all this talk about community policing,” Mack said. “Well, you cut the best community policing tool you ever had.”

If nothing else, one might idly muse over what might’ve become of recent antifa and fascist clashes had they been met with crowd-control officers on horseback, and not barely-less-than-lethal SWAT troops looking for a fight.

(And I know why the mounted unit was disbanded: it’s because I mentioned them over there once, and as with anything I work into the story like that, once I’ve done so, it must then be demolished, destroyed, forgotten, erased from the city.)

You an’ me both, kid.

“As soon as he left, Velásquez spoke and said, ‘I have tried in vain to concentrate all my attention on the gypsy chief’s words but I am unable to discover any coherence whatsoever in them. I do not know who is speaking and who is listening. Sometimes the Marqués de Val Florida is telling the story of his life to his daughter, sometimes it is she who is relating it to the gypsy chief, who in turn is repeating it to us. It is a veritable labyrinth. I had always thought that novels and other works of that kind should be written in several columns like chronological tables.’” —Jan Potocki

Filled from crown to toe-top full of direst cruelty.

So the nine-year-old saw a neat little card at Movie Madness that had a cartoon of donkey-headed Bottom in a referee’s shirt and a list of ye olde First Folio titles and some dates, and it was for something called OPS, which apparently stands for Original Practice Shakespeare, and you can go read about that later because the important thing right now is she saw the item in re: the Gentlewomen’s show, a Macbeth played entirely by a cast of women and non-binary actors, and said I want to go see that, so we did, up on Mt. Tabor on a cool August night that was lovely until the fog rolled in and then the rain with Birnam Wood but still, I mean, the Scottish play, so anyway, that’s how the nine-year-old’s first Shakespeare was Macbeth.

Lady Macbeth; the Macbeths.
Duncan and Lady Macbeth.
Macbeth soliloquizes.
The Macbeths.
Macbeth and Seyton.
Me and Her.
Grass.

Why do you rob banks, Willie?

I mean, what happens when he loses clients and can’t really network within the comic book community because he’s suing them for two and a half million dollars?

A gifted mimic, he nonetheless eschew[ed] regional accents for comic effect.

They’re waxing utopian, over at mastodon, and who wouldn’t really, nowhere to go but up, but somebody went and posted a link to a ca. 2003 Dave Winer pæan to the power of the link, and while it’s perfectly inoffensive and utterly unfalse, still: one wishes for a sour snap, a bite, something not so blandly self-congratulatory as a dig at the New York Times (even then). If we’re reaching back fifteen, seventeen years, why not go for someone with panache, like—

—and here I admit I googled, because one does like to be sure, and I was right, about the spelling, but what caught my breath was the past tense in the little Wikipedia preview over to the side, there—

Dean Cameron Allen was a Canadian typographer, web developer and early blogger—

Back in January. —I’m just hearing about it now because we live in the future, where we are all wired together and interconnected and no news of any import escapes our sight.

Everything here and at the city runs on Textpattern, which he began, but it’s no exaggeration to say that every time I think about how to write on the web, and how to present that writing on the web, I think with Dean Allen; I think my way through what I picked up from how he went about what he did, clean and simple and rigorous; a way of being online that was what I wanted to be when I grew up. (Even down to such fine points as the use of en-dashes in the flow of the story over there, rather than the usual em.)

People who knew him better have said better things about him, and the Globe and Mail’s obituary was achingly personal, but maybe it’s best to let him have the last word.

The worth of dirt.

Example: The ongoing fight to save the 125-year-old Wayne Apartments, better known as the block containing Shorty’s, the “clown bar.” Residents rallied for the building because it forms a sort of funky heart to the core of Belltown. They had seemed to win three years ago when it was granted historic protection on the grounds that it predated the regrading of the city in the early 1900s.

But the landmarks board recently voted to relax that protection, because the building is in such a poor state the owner said he couldn’t do anything with it.

“Dirt is more valuable than this building,” one of the landmarks board members said, expressing frustration with how the superheated real-estate market is overwhelming any intangible value like culture or community wishes.

That’s from up in Seattle; meanwhile, here in Portland, we’re kicking out a wildly successful food cart pod to make way for a 5-star 33-storey glass tower with plenty of hotel rooms for all the people who come here to eat at the quirky food carts they’ve heard so much about.

The ground floor includes several retail storefronts, including space for a potential food hall, which [Walter] Bowen[, chief executive of BPM Real Estate Group,] said would be similar to downtown’s Pine Street Market.

Five stars, thirty-three storeys.

“This project will be a development for the ages and a catalyst for international commerce,” Bowen said. “We believe that the next generation of real estate investors and developers will compare their projects to this one due to its high standards for design, construction, community and elegance.”

I don’t know; if anybody ever writes songs about this place, I don’t think you’ll like them.

The spectre, of this superheated market, before which we must all bow, and unto which we must all do what (almost) none of us want; take steps (almost) all of us regret: the original grand algorithm, this first Von Neumann machine: fiduciary duty! Which thoughtlessly heartlessly eats up the world to make of it shareholder value—the original grey goo.

When they came for the music, they finally pushed the limit. Maybe we’ll snap when they come for the pink Elephant.