Wednesday, May 25, 2016

FEATURED ARTIST: SQUID MCFINNIGAN

He's Irish.
He writes.
And he has the coolest name in the world.
Check out Squid McFinnigan: http://squidmcfinnigan.blogspot.com/

I'll have to find a picture for this post (and delete this comment) later on, 'cause right now I gotta jet.
He's cool though. You'll like him.

Monday, May 23, 2016

WHY I'M THE HUMBOLDT-IEST WRITER EVER







































It's not because the moniker is so deeply coveted. I'm not vying with anybody when I point this out. It's not a competition. It's just a fact, and fairly empirically interesting, that I'm the Humboldt-iest writer ever. No one else even comes close. Nor do I think anyone ever will. Nope, it's me all the way.

It isn't only because I set all of my stories in an alternate Humboldt which I call Humbaba County. I did that because it felt right. I don't favor stories with one-to-one correspondences. Making connections livens reading. I did keep the name Avenue of the Giants. No way I was gonna change that. It serves as the title of one of my books. Most of the rest though adheres to the figurative. REDWOODLAND, HIDDEN SPRINGS, LOST COASTER--I've got stories set all over the county because I've had a shit ton of experiences all over the county for a whole long time.

I read LOST COASTER on KMUD for half a year as a radio show. I've also had chapters serialized in THE TRADER. I've got my books selling in stores all around the county and well into Oregon. Particularly because I've been writing for The Independent every week for the last 14 years, I'm recognized everywhere I go in Southern Humboldt, and lots of places in Northern Humboldt, too.

All of my formal education, from Redway Elementary to Miranda Junior High to South Fork High to College of the Redwoods to Humboldt State University, all right here. I regularly get paid to make redwood burl products. And split wood. I've even been paid to clip bud. I've sat down on the Garberville sidewalk and interviewed transients. I've written about Bigfoot, I've written about surfing. I've been interviewed on the radio and in print multiple times. I've even been mentioned on TV.

I've been paid to act in a play at Ferndale Repertory Theater, and then years later been paid for a print book, THE MESMERIZER, set in the Victorian Village of Fernden with action culminating onstage at the theater. Now that's Humboldt-y.

Not only do I write about levitating hippies battling the forces of globalization, I helped build the Redway car wash. I wrote the grant that got Tooby Park the playground equipment twenty years ago. And with the band I was asked to lead, I even got the first song I ever wrote on the radio: "We Went to Town (On a Bigfoot We Found)." It don't get more Humboldt-y.

I've taught Creative Writing for College of the Redwoods. I've worked for a fishery, a liquor store, a bike rack factory, a Tri-City Weekly offshoot called This Week News and Review. The list just goes on and on.

You couldn't find anybody more iconoclastic or Bohemian than me if you tried. I write the stories that make the whole world high. It's what I do.

Ain't braggin', just the truth. For better or worse--probably worse--I'm the Humboldt-iest writer ever. Didn't set out to do it, but I like it fine, anyway. And appropriately enough, it all keeps right on a-growin'.

Thanks for checkin' in. Should have another installment of STRONGBOT in the next couple days.
 







RESUSCITATING THE BARON OF BOTANY


























         
Two hundred years ago, he was the world’s most famous man, second perhaps only to Napoleon, although according to his contemporaries, that opinion was debatable. For a long time he was considered by many the smartest person who ever lived. Rivers, mountains, deserts, counties, wide varieties of animals and more are all named after him. Today, however, he is largely forgotten, and when many people hear his name, the first thing they think of is pot.
         
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt—the Shakespeare of Science—the Alexander of Science—more than any other individual shaped our concept of nature. Charles Darwin said he would not have boarded the Beagle, and thus would never have written Origin of Species, were it not for Alexander von Humboldt. Goethe, Jefferson, Emerson, Thoreau, Muir, and more names than can be feasibly listed all cite Humboldt as a major influence. Genius, visionary, Renaissance man, Humboldt is the father of environmentalism. Because of his work, we see nature as an interconnected web of life.
         
To search him on the web, one finds a dearth of material. There is no great Alexander von Humboldt movie, and yet we can still find his presence. Last year, Andrea Wulf published The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, and one can find her presentation and panel discussion at Washington College online. Humboldt’s most famous work, Kosmos, is naturally available through YouTube on audio book. And a serviceable BBC documentary, “Alexander von Humboldt – Natural Traveler,” also merits interest.
         
Born to wealthy Prussian parents in Berlin in 1769 (the same year as Napoleon), he died in Berlin at the age of 89, with his memory perfectly intact and vigor unabated. His parents called him “the little apothecary” because he liked to collect herbs. That’s right, Humboldt County. And when he started traveling around the world at age 29, even his name grew like a weed.
         
Botanist, geographer, explorer, and Germanic Virgo, Humboldt’s restless mind was obsessed with meticulously measuring every aspect of observable nature. From his observations he extrapolated general principles. In one of his finer moments, fascinated by the work of Luigi Galvani, Humboldt cut open his back and stuck wires into his wounds in order to study the effects. This was only one of many shocking experiments. He also captured and dissected electric eels.
         
Strong anti-German sentiment beginning during WWI probably has something to do with Baron von Humboldt being largely forgotten in the English-speaking world. But because he was a generalist in a world of increasing specialization, he was also overshadowed by the people that he most influenced soon after his death.
         
Be proud, Humboldters.
         
To learn more about our county’s once well-known namesake, freely observe the online world.












 Stewart Kirby writes for

Saturday, May 21, 2016

FREE FORM BURL























Hi, I'm Zen Mendosa.

You know, here at the Burl Barn in the simple backwoods village of Madrani, embedded deep in the heart of the very serene, very majestic giant coastal redwood trees so ancient and all on the Avenue of the Giants, we take big old dirty chunks of wood, often resplendent with spiders, rocks, millipedes, crappy whatnot and bugs, then make them become art.

Yesterday I put in some more hours on several pieces. I hit them with the grinder, plus a couple wire brushes and a screwdriver to prod out bitsies, then I hit them with a wheel sander, and then an orbital sander at a few different grits so far.

On these occasions, with my dust mask on, I become virtually indistinguishable from the great Dark Knight villain Bane.

Stay, reader! They'll be expecting a body.

By the way, this particular free form burl sculpture is an exact representation of the brain of a mutated Venusian.

Thanks fer checkin' in! Settle on back, kick up yer dogs. We got weird stories on the stove, lotsa chainsaw renderin's from the Nietzsche screenplay out in the wood yard. Ever last thing a body could want, reckon.

I'm so glad to have you with me. We'll always be together now.

Much obliged, and
HAIL, VENUSIANS! HAIL!





Wednesday, May 18, 2016

STRONGBOT - 2







































"HEY ROBEO." Robokilrain nudged.

The Strongbot looked up. There she was.

"You boys ready to order?"

She had what they called a million dollar smile. And she didn't treat bots different from anybody else.

"You go on ahead," John L. told Jake. "I haven't decided yet."

"Yeah, you work on that decidin'."

"What'll it be, sweetie?"

The Strongbot's chair groaned.

"Did you hear that?" said Jake, turning his bashed face toward John L. "Never mind. Let's see, can I get a pint of Durasell?"

"Will that be all?"

"Yeah, that'll do. Didn't make as much today as I'd hoped."

"And what can I get you, sweetie?"

Sparks crackled as Robokilrain chortled. "You heard it. She called me sweetie first."

The Strongbot's fist slammed into Jake's face so hard, it knocked him off the stool and into the wall several feet behind. The imprint of John L.'s fist was left in Jake's demolished face. The sprawled body of Robokilrain lay lifeless on the floor.

The boy pleaded with his parents to watch while the Boston Strongbot bashed open Robokilrain's head to get the chip inside, but they wouldn't let him. They turned him away and shielded him so that all he got to hear were a couple of thunks and the loud crack when the head burst, followed by the robust cheers of the Civil Warbots.




"Make that just the one Durasell," the Strongbot told the waitress, pocketing Jake's chip.

"Are you gonna put that chip in a new robot?" said the boy.

"I won't be the one to do it. But yeah, that's what'll happen."

While the Strongbot watched the waitress work, he imagined driving her. Together they could drive out to the beach. He could see his reflection in the sliding glass door of the beer fridge. In the right light his eyes glowed laser red. He imagined being tender with her. Of gentle places to touch her. The small of her back, behind her ear. He imagined touching her face. What must her skin feel like? So soft, so tender. He would be so careful. But it wasn't just touching her he wanted. She was exciting, yes, but in the end he wanted to give her something real. He wanted to take care of her.

"Busy today," the Strongbot said as the waitress passed by. Packed to capacity, the cafe rang with a cacophony of multiple animated conversations and the clinking sounds of people eating. Music from out on the patio blended with the noises of the televisions inside.

She smiled and nodded. "They keep me hoppin'!"

Her voice was like music to him.

A lot of people had a hard time telling which was which these days. Organic life and artificial life crossed over in so many ways. Legal cases kept cropping up where you couldn't tell one from the other. Sometimes people took on roboparts, and sometimes the other way around. Generally speaking, if you saw a celebrity, it was actually artificial. Then of course you saw people dressing up in costumes so that tourists would think they were androids. Fleshbums and robohobos alike equally eking existence, finding shelter in the woods wherever possible...
















Coming up:
Competition with the waitress arises
in the dapper form of a fighting bank clerk...
Gentleman Jim Corbot!

MORE
SOON



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

STRONGBOT - 1



























THE BOSTON STRONGBOT'S naugahyde-like skin, durable as a truck bed liner, reflected the midday gleam of the chemtrail sky with a dull vinyl glow. Robokilrain pounded away, but nothing could stop the Strongbot's onslaught.

A clubbing left crushed Kilrain's nose, smearing wiring everywhere.

"Goddam you John L., rot in robohell."

"Eat roboshit, Jake," the Strongbot replied, delivering a blow to his opponent's midsection--the solar plexus, they called it--with the force of a horse's kick as the crowd roared.

The majestic serenity of the towering redwoods remained intact. Especially in the groves where every square inch sparkled in protective spray-on plastic like a vast department store Pompeii.

After the fight, when they had gotten paid, John L. and Jake stopped off at the cafe. Used to be the place didn't have anything to offer. Then a local contractor hired a bunch of androids. After that, the cafe started offering android-friendly energy items. But that wasn't what brought the Strongbot.

"Hey Robeo," Jake jeered, smashed parts of his face still shooting occasional sparks, "you gonna show some nuts this time?"

The town was crawling with tourists. Used to be hover cars were the rare ones.

"Must've hit you harder than I thought," John L. said. "You just mind your own business. That means you know them wires floppin' out your face? Shove 'em."

It was true, though. The waitress. She was a woman. A real woman. How would she react? Would she see that he was for real? As these thoughts passed through his artificially intelligent mind, the Strongbot, so closely resembling the long ago flesh-and-blood John L. Sullivan, first heavyweight boxing champion of the world, called in his day the Boston Strongboy on account he was from Boston and he was a very strong boy, noted a genteel contingent of Civil War re-enacting androids on loan assembled upon the patio beneath the welcome shade of the table umbrellas. The Civil Warbots called out heartily to John L. and Jake--John L. in particular--and praised them for the entertainment they had recently provided.

Upon receiving this information, a little human boy who had been watching asked his little human parents if that man over there really was the Boston Strongbot.

"Why don't you go ask him?"

The boy went over.

"What the hell do you want?" the Strongbot said.

"You don't sound like you're from Boston."

"You don't look like you'd know."

"What makes you so great?"

"Everything about me," the Strongbot said. "You always like this?"

"Everything like what?"

"Sonny boy, you just happen to be looking at the world's greatest fighting machine."

Sparks flew out of Robokilrain's face as he laughed.

"And the reason for that," the Strongbot went on, not noticing, "the one main reason even more than my piston-powered punches and durable, easy-wipe skin, is simply knowing that, eventually, everybody hates me. It's in my programming. Makes me a better fighter that way. The best."

"It's in your programming?"

"It's in my programming. When they made me, in order to get my personality just right, they studied the psychology of the toughest dudes ever prior to me."

"You mean not just the Boston Strongboy only? What dudes?"

"Well, this one samurai. Mind your business. Dammit, where's my sword?"

"Can I have your autograph?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"If you were a real robofan you'd know I'm completely illiterate."

"You mean you can't even write your own name?"

"Did I stutter? Don't be stupid. Of course I can't write my own name. I just told you I'm completely illiterate. It's in my programming."

"Why does not being able to write help?"

Robokilrain spoke up. "Because if he was writin', then he wouldn't be bustin' folks in the ch-ch-ch-ch--" The Strongbot slapped Robokilrain on the back. "--Chops."

The boy returned to his table. Swivel stools groaned as the bots sat down at the bar...
 







MORE
SOON


Monday, May 16, 2016

"ANCIENT ALIENS" MONOLITHIC TV


















ANCIENT ALIENS
Starring Erich von Daniken,
Giorgio Tsoukalos,
David Hatcher Childress,
George Noory,
Robert Clotworthy


         
You probably never even knew, but the show has been with us all along, guiding us since 2009.
         
“Since the dawn of civilization, mankind has credited its origins to gods and other visitors from the stars. What if it were true?” So runs Robert Clotworthy’s narration during the opening of the first season of the History Channel show which wonders whether extraterrestrial visitors had anything to do with human origins.
         
Produced by Emmy award-winning director and screenwriter Kevin Burns, the show focuses primarily on megalithic structures, mysterious artifacts, and other anomalous physical evidence around the world. From the ancient alien perspective, the idea that Stone Age man went overnight from living in caves to constructing pyramids using incredibly sophisticated mathematics, in perfect alignment with the compass and the stars and resembling the constellation Orion, among a whole of other things, is ridiculous.
         
There had to be outside help. And indeed, this is what all of the world’s ancestors say. Sumerian cuneiform tablets, our planet’s oldest-known language, records that the Anunnaki—“they who from the heavens came”—created people and invented civilization. All around the world, the message is repeated.
         
At an ancient site in Bolivia, Puma Punku, gigantic blocks of one of the world’s hardest stones stand perfectly flat, perfectly smooth, perfectly fitted. The Incas moved into the structures, but they didn’t build them. Again and again, what we see is physical evidence of an ancient, global lost high culture, dating back approximately 12,000 years ago and much further, evidently originated by visitors not from this planet.
          
Central to the series is the work of Zecharia Sitchin (one of the few scholars able to read and interpret ancient Sumerian and Akkadian clay tablets), author of The 12th Planet, and Erich von Daniken, author of Chariots of the Gods. The seriousness of those who dedicate their lives to the study of “forbidden archeology” is generally overshadowed, however, by the seriousness of those who dedicate their lives to producing great television.
         
In his extensive career, Kevin Burns, who produced such long-lasting hits as A&E’s Biography, has probably learned that he’s not an archeologist as much as he is a TV show producer. Probably, he also has a pretty good sense that one draw to the show is inviting rebuttal from the viewers at home. Just because human history is the backdrop of the show on a mainstream channel doesn’t make it mainstream history.
         
Consequently, superfluities obstruct. Von Daniken’s protégé, Giorgio Tsoukalos, sports a godly coif to make Don King cringe and Albert Einstein cry. Giorgio and another of the show’s main talking heads, archeologist and author David Hatcher Childress, are both great TV men, but we let ourselves get distracted by the way one guy wears his hair and the way another guy talks at our otherworldly-knowing peril.
         
Did you know that about a hundred years ago a 2,000 year-old analog computer was pulled up from an ancient Greek shipwreck? Yep. X-ray analysis of the Antikythera Mechanism reveals inside the rusty chunk the complex gears and working parts of a device that seems to have computed astronomical positions. Can’t forget the Long-Head skulls in Peru, Egypt, and other places which were not the result of head-binding because the skulls have greater thickness, weight, and volume than human skulls, have only two parietal plates instead of the three found on humans, and were definitively shown through DNA analysis to not be human. And these were skulls of royalty.
         
Nazca Lines, Phoenix Lights, the Astronaut of the Spanish Cathedral. Boom, boom. Thanks to Ancient Aliens, the hits just keep coming.
         
Past episodes of the ongoing endlessly fascinating show freely available online.









































 Stewart Kirby writes for