Posts Tagged ‘ PR ’

Ghosts Don’t Interest Me

2010.10.31
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NOTE THE SPECIFICITY OF THE title — I didn’t say I don’t like ghosts, or that I shun their company or “disbelieve” in their “existence.” But they’re no big thing to me, any more so than the other amazing things about which I can do nothing but appreciate.

Like most people, I stand at the rim and center of diverse circles of friends: the local Jewish community, the local media community, my pirate buddies, college fiends, pagans, ol’ hippies and any number of peace officers, firefighters and clergyfolk, each of exceptional intelligence and veracity, all of whom trust their eyes and ears despite preconceptions, and whose only motivation in retelling some awfully weird goings-on was to understand their UFO sighting, religious vision, haunting, reincarnation evidence, Ouija session, telekinesis, missing time, seance, monster encounter or near-death experience. (Like I would know.)

Most of those friends who’ve experienced anomalous whoopdedoofery (including the author) seem to develop an essential reality-agnosticism and open-face-value acceptance of things beyond one’s personal ken. (To be honest, I also know a few people whose pre-existing dogmas were reinforced by experiential weirdness, so you never can tell …) Perhaps, as researcher Jacques Vallee suggests, these misty goings-on have been kicking us in the collective head for millenia to expand our notions and horizons. (Even vampires, the most pretentious of the undead, may have merit when seen in this light.) If so, then challenge your next Weird Encounter with the old wizards’ adage: “Come on in and set a spell*.”

_____
* Labored pun explicable on request, or, better yet, not.

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We’re All Clones (Except Me)

2010.09.23
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A RECENT FACEBOOK POLL (OF which I generally conduct one daily) revealed that few people have experienced the mindbreaking awe of encountering their own body double.

Let me assure you: No matter how often it happens, it is a very weird feeling, as it undoubtedly was for one such Other Me I spotted across the BART tracks late one night in the Walnut Creek station (we kept looking at each other nervously; he in sports jacket and briefcase, me in long hair and T-shirt). It likewise may be or have been weird for those other Other Mes I’ve seen in newspaper and book photos (mostly Afghanis, Pashtun and Russians, but once of a forced-smiling Jew in a Nazi-overseen road crew).

To date I have yet to converse with myself, although I once got into an argument with a fast-food cashier who swore I was the beverage guy “making fun” of her.

Perhaps an ancient ancestor was emphatically fecund, or otherwise genetically impressive. But I tend to think this communal physiology is more construction than consanguinity (a fine word, but of too-little conversational relevance, meaning “relation” ). My DNA was crafted among the Eastern Europeans on my mom’s side and Russia and Germany on my dad’s; on my dad’s side I’m also a Levite, those touchy servants of the ancestral Temple, and I sometimes wonder if the Other Mes are too.

But my bigger questions concern the fluidity of identity: How much of who “I” am depends on what I look like? Where I came from? And just how unique are we all, anyway? If someone looks like me and acts like me, I might be tempted, a la the mad monk Nasrudin, to tie a balloon to my leg to tell us apart, were it not for my inner sense that I’m the one wondering about him. But what if he thinks he’s me? Well sir, I should hope my friends would know the real me (the one who’s writing this now, or did before you read it) well enough to help me do the same when needed — especially in that waking fuzz when I don’t know who I am, only that it’s time to feed the cat.

As I say, few people have experienced this phenomenon, but those who know, know — as do, of course, those who only look like them. Everyone else will just have to take our word for it.

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Cosmic Shmuck Reveals All

2010.09.12
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JUST HAPPENED ACROSS THE FOLLOWING in Robert Anton Wilson‘s Cosmic Trigger III, and as it’s appropriate for Yom Kippur (beginning Friday night) here ’tis:

The Cosmic Shmuck Law, as stated in several of my books, holds that if you occasionally notice that you have said something or done something that qualifies as Cosmic Shmuckery, you might become, in time, less of a Cosmic Shmuck; but if you never notice any Cosmic Shmuckery in your own thinking/doing, you will become more and more of a Cosmic Shmuck every year.

This makes sense to me, and I especially like that RAW measures in years, likely because of the whole Yom Kippur thing which, just between you and me, I’m having some difficulty with this year. In short: We are supposed to seek forgiveness for the wrongs we have done each other. But from this perspective, they seem a bit bigger and scarier than I am.

Dealing with quasidisability and its related and interwoven consequents does not make me easy to live with — it makes me impatient, short-tempered, cranky, sad and occasionally sullen, none of which are easy either for Ann or me (or for every union’s invisible third partner, The Marriage), especially as I’m someone who takes up a lot of psychic space in any given room). I sincerely don’t know how to write about this pain in a way that doesn’t sound self-pitying to me; in any case, I’m saying this so I can tell you the next thing.

Because of all this, this sluggish grey heavy tentacled ick, I find myself sincerely seeking forgiveness from … pretty much everyone I know for the unreturned phone calls, emails, visits, invitations and general good will y’all have been beaming at me. (You know who you are.) There’s a weird despair-into-shame spiral: I mean to do something, then feel bad about not having done it, then paralyzed by embarrassment, et al, ad nausea, ad insanitum. And then it’s too hard to do anything but sigh.

It may be a long way back to the man I want to be; I have not been a good friend this past year, and in some cases have even been a bad one. It is not something I intended, but it happened and I want to fix it. And so I nakedly ask, and hope to thank you for, your forgiveness.

You know who you are.

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Come Out To Sonoma

2010.08.05
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HAVING MENTIONED THIS ON FACEBOOK yesterday in the wake of U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s 136-page ruling against Proposition 8, I’d better repeat it here:

Neal Ross Attinson offers his services as secular ULC minister to marriage-seeking gay California couples

My only balk is doing anything in Jesus’ name, since I’m both unqualified and uninterested. (“Bob” is okay, though; I’m biordanial.) And may I suggest this spring in Sonoma?

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Free Metaphor: “Lower North American”

2010.07.26
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0. CONCISION AND PRECISION ARE ESSENTIAL components of the modern metaphor. What your end-user metaphorager is looking for is light in the mouth and easy on the fingers, especially when describing social groups — you want something tight enough to express the point but loose enough to avoid looking like a stereotyping (and -typical) fool.

1. The challenge is greater when describing cultures within a geographical area. Specifically, what to conversationally call those of us residing between Mexico and Canada? “Americans” leaves out residents of those countries, as well as everyone south until the Patagonians (who, despite their patient excellence for crafting outdoor gear, are sticklers for self-affiliative accuracy). Likewise “USAtians,” which makes us sound like some exotic water dog; “USAers,” which is either a cheerleading squad or a reality-show; “Yankees,” which I object to as a diehard Red Sox fan; and “United States citizens,” whose formal appeal is outweighed by its clunkiness.

2. Therefore, I suggest “Lower North American.” It’s got a nice cadence (“LOWuh NORthuh MEruh Can”), easy informality and even compresses to a txtable “LNA” (which so far as I can see will only confuse us with amplifiers, shy nucleotides and members of the new Let’s Not Ask public-ignorance campaign).

So, friends, next time you’re stuck for a self-descriptive metaphor for hepcats, expats and diplomats, reach for smooth, satisfying Lower North America. Remember: Lower North America. It’s where we are now.

(Link here: http://metaphorager.net/lna)

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5 Thoughts: And On Your Left, the Pons Creamery

2010.07.25
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THE METAPHORAGER.NET VISITOR LOGS MAKE for interesting reading; it’s fun to see what rough edges of my prose snags on Google and other search engines; it’s nice to count the international flags and know that any Belgian with an iPhone can snatch up with digital fingers (pun) the latest dispatch from whatever lives in my brain. But it also becomes apparent that some items are missing out; thus, a guide to the un- or lesser-’phoraged pages of This Here Site.

1. Posse Commentatus: It’s long been an observation of mine that the same patterns are exhibited by the institutions and cultures of both the fandom and religious communities (i.e., those religions built around a central text). Posse Commentatus posits that the major difference between Jedi and Jew is about 3,000 years of backstory — and that the text isn’t as important as its message and its inspirations.

2. Clips: A small representation of my journalistic cred. (I mean, I wouldn’t read them either, but I have to put them somewhere; one of this site’s missions is aggressive self-aggrandizement.)

3. A Proposal For The Moon of Earth and/or Lunar Update: Back to the Redrawing Board: Perhaps the idea of looping Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece via lunar projector is a bit crazy after all. If you disagree, pick up a shovel and help.

4. Daily Gasp: This is in the sidebar right under “Wine Country Weather.” It links to NASA’s “Astronomical Picture of the Day” site which, if you haven’t see it yet, you must drop everything to click on. (“NOW, kid.” — Arlo Guthrie) I can think of fewer things more instantly awe-inducing than the view Outside, both for beauty and perspective.

5. Category: Writing See #2 above, except I actually would read these — and I invite anyone who wants to help make me a better writer to click away and start commenting. (On the other hand, if you’re looking for something nice to read over lunch, I’ll see you then!)

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5 Thoughts: Fiction- v. News-Writing

2010.07.05
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1. YOU STOP WRITING A NEWS piece when you run out of facts. But when do you stop writing fiction? When you run out of story, I suppose.

2. In news, the most important information goes up top. In fiction, it’s in the reader’s head — at least with genre pieces. There has to be some connection between the reader’s mind and the writer’s expression in terms of shared assumptions or expectations. A science fiction author knows his readers are unfazed by three-headed alien bankers, so doesn’t need to waste valuable real estate on justifying same beyond adhering to strict internal consistency. Someone writing for a general audience needs to adjust their bankers, but touch not the consistency!

3. Both news and fiction require a suspension of disbelief on the part of the writer. The newswriter must disbelieve her own narrowness of perspective; the fictioneer, the narrowness of his publisher’s pocketbook. And both must believe that they offer an important, if not indispensable, message.

4. The task/mechanics of newswriting can be visualized as assembling a Tinkertoy set: all the pieces are there, and it’s the writer’s task to assemble them in as compact and easily recognizable a form as possible. Fictioneering feels more like holding one end of a handful of ropes which fade into the misty distance; the idea being to draw in the slack and tighten the lines until the sails fill of themselves.

5. Dialog. In fiction, it advances the plot or builds character or atmosphere. In news … well, it can also advance plots and build (or tear down) character and atmosphere. Perhaps news and fiction are less dissimilar than they appear (no FOX or MSM jokes, please); the difference may be whether we corroborate with our senses or our emotions.

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Lunar Update: Back to the Redrawing Board

2010.05.06
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LAST OCTOBER, I POSTED “A Proposal for the Moon of Earth” — “a suitable solar-powered visual display in the lunar crater Tycho, for the purpose of looping Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film ’2001: A space odyssey.’” The original idea visualized a miles-wide JumboTron that could be seen through a backyard telescope (say, the 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain in my living room). The seemingly impossible logistics didn’t bother me — after all, it’s Only An Idea, and one for which I’m offering a spurious and very large reward to anyone who can complete it. I put out some feelers, made appropriate noises on appropriate websites, and figured we’d all have a good laugh and go on to the next thing.

Then I heard about the IPN Project, whose goal is “to define the architecture and protocols necessary to permit interoperation of the Internet resident on Earth with other remotely located internets resident on other planets or spacecraft in transit.” And it occurred to me that APftMoE might actually be possible: not by building a giant video display, but a smaller one — oh, say, large enough to fit inside a full-size monolith model and produce an image sharp enough to be transmitted to Earth by a moon-based webcam (see Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: TVA-1

Thus, and from this moment on, APftMoE is no longer dedicated to building a giant video display — we are now dedicated to building a rocket which will deliver and deploy the “TVA-1″ module consisting of a power source, webcam, transmitter and monolith with embedded HD display. This should give us a great view of the crater rim in the background, prove less costly of both time and money, and make it more feasible and attractive to potential backers and/or sweat-equititians.

I’ll make a few phone calls. Meanwhile, stay tuned to http://metaphorager.net/lunar-enterprise/ for updates!

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Thousand-Word Taskmaster

2010.04.18
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“FROM SPACE, OASINE WAS AN otherwise tan ball flecked and dotted with green – but none of its inhabitants had ever seen it.

“Few of them, in fact, had been outside their own birthplaces. These were oases of various shapes and sizes whose populations, separated by trackless desert, varied from savagery to the sophistication allowed by circumstance and caravan. In one of the latter, called Fint by its blithe and industrious residents, and on one of countless cloudless days, a crowd of gawkers, mockers and the curious gathered at Horolan’s Pier for the maiden voyage of the good ship Deeper.”

Thus begins Under Oasine, a science fantasy novel relating the adventures of three unlikely heroes (Twiz, Ij and Hapler) who discover that their world is a lot bigger than they had thought — and it (along with everyone on it) needs their help to survive.

I’m telling you this for two reasons: 1) partly to avoid through preemptive imprimature a repeat of the Matrix incident”, and 2) mostly to motivate myself (as with the Prosatio Silban stories) through risk of public humiliation should I flake.

Somerset Maugham once said: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately nobody knows what they are.” Although a skilled news reporter, I know nothing about writing novels save what I could glean from Stephen King’s On Writing, Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method and Simon Haynes’ How To Write A Novel. There is great advice to be found in each of these, but after mumbling it about my own muse is telling me to chart what I want each chapter to do and where I want it to end, write a thousand words a day until I reach 45-50,000, then look for an agent and a movie deal.

Blogging a novel may be dicey for aspiring writers who want to sell their works: the idea is still catching on, and while it can raise a persuasive buzz some publshers may see “blog” as “previous publication.” My task here will be to navigate the narrow path between these two extremes — and entertain the hell out of whoever reads what results. To this end, I plan to post the first two chapters, with synopses according to clamour. Your task will be to tell me whether or not I’m successful.

Deal?

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Lunar Immortality: Vote Today!

2010.04.15
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A PLAN TO LOOP STANLEY Kubrick’s 2001: A space odyssey in the lunar crater Tycho is now ranked 413th on the website http://www.goodideas.org — and Metaphorager.Net readers can help this dream become a reality.

Although the project originally offered as incentive a million-dollar prize, today anonymous reader David S. pointed out that since the prize money doesn’t actually exist, the purpose might be better served by an appeal to like-minded nerds visionaries through GoodIdeas.org, “a web site which gathers, tags, ranks and distributes good ideas.”

Despite that most of the ideas thereon are goody-two-shoes attempts at cheap desalinization, environmental survival and feeding the hungry, we’re hoping the maginificent frivolity of Lunar Immortality comes to the notice of someone who might actually build it. If you are one, or would like to become one, vote today for “Lunar Immortality Now!” at http://www.goodideas.org/a/dtd/37744-6782. (And don’t forget to sign our online petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/2001shot/petition.html!)

Vote Lunar Immortality Now! It’s not every day you get to save a million bucks.

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Perfuming Smacks (was Wadi, Inner Quay)

2010.03.15
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MORE ON THE EFFABLE FRAMING of ineffability: Back in November, I wrote a flashfictional fable (or, if you will, a flashfable [term (c) 2010 Neal Ross Attinson]) “Awe and Inquiry”. I called it that because it seemed an apt metaphor for one variety of spiritual experience (plus, I like the way it sets up the punchline).

Once it scrolls off the front page, I tend to forget what I’ve written. Imagine my pleasure to find “Awe and Inquiry” being read, not once, but several times — onvce a day for the last couple weeks, in fact. According to my .log files, it’s sweeping Eurasia one computer at a time: England, Sweden, Denmark, Ukraine, Moscow, the Netherlands, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran and, just this evening, Prague.

I have no idea why, but it doesn’t seem to be a series of globetrotting bots so much as a closed connection within the (real and original) Matrix. To everyone who’s wandered by here, including the Brit who found me while Googling “Robert anton wilson recipe golem” on his or her iPhone: thank you for reading. Really, thank you. After all — it’s why I write.

UPDATE (3/28/10): I just had a closer look at my logs; %$#@!ing spammers is what it is, bouncing off of various anonymizers. Which is still interesting, but more depressing in light of my original take … especially in the sense of my baby “Awe and Inquiry” being understood by anyone but me. Ah, well. Back to the keyboard.

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Introducing: Prosatio Silban

2010.02.24
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THESE FABLES CONNECT A NEED to tell a particular story with a near-lifelong habit of worldbuilding. They are self-contained excerpts from a picaresque novel-in-progress titled Around the Rimless Sea: Mystic Fables for Religious Misfits, and though set as fantasies, the Prosatio Silban fables are intended for anyone seeking the Divine in a day job, so to speak. Because the “Land of Two Names” is a big world of spectacular landscapes and ancient ruins, teeming with vastly different and occasionally commingled cultures, religions, prophecies, species and cuisines, all created in my spare time since 1978 or so, those curious to explore it may benefit from the following helpful words. (Otherwise, please enjoy an appropriate anagram.)

= – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – =

Beyond the sunrise lies the Land of Exiles, where dreams come to die – or so say the coffeehouse wits of Soharis. But they are a professionally cynical lot, thus fervent in their presumptions.

Here, by the southern edge of the Rimless Sea, two abler-than-wise peoples anciently fought each other to land-cracking dust, leaving their now-primitive Xao descendants wandering the shattered plains and scorched forests with no greater legacy than a few artifacts, mutual blame, and the hope of future redemption.

This hope was handed across the generations through tales of Rimless Sea-borne saviors who would restore their Land of Exile to lush pristinery before conveniently withdrawing. Some Xao believed this, others pretended to, and those who did neither made plans of their own.

Thus, when the Children of Huua washed ashore in three great fleets filled with agricultural necessaries at the mouth of the Great Bloody River (as it was then known), the indigines greeted them with a mix of joy, surprise and consternation. The Huuans were fleeing their own self-made catastrophe and, according to the Flickering Gods and their High Sacreants, had finally reached the Land Beyond the Sunrise — and where to show themselves repentful and worthy of returning to their own homeland renewed.

Heedless of their role in the local mythology, the Huuans could comprehend neither the Xaos’ initial amazement nor eventual irritation as they proceeded to restore the land and build the Three Cities and Thousand Villages of the Huuan Commonwell. While the Xao grew more perplexed, the Commonwell ripened into that state of elegant decadence without which no civilzation can honestly be called interesting. Still, despite all that had happened or was expected in the Land of Two Names, some (Xao and Huuan alike) continued to believe in their ancestors’ prophecies; others pretended to; and those who did neither made plans of their own.

One did all three, often simultaneously and sometimes successfully. His name is Prosatio Silban – former Sacreant, mercenary cook, and subject of these fables.

Prosatio Silban in his galleywagon / Illo (c) 2008 Alana Dill, http://youbecomeart.com
Prosatio Silban in his galleywagon / Illo (c) 2008 Alana Dill, http://youbecomeart.com

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