Monday, August 21, 2017
Between the cannibal, the aliens, and the long-distance romance, this gold miner has his hands full.
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
JOHN WILLIAM CALDER
Being of sound mind and such, I, John William Calder, son of James Zechariah and Rose Elizabeth Calder, do solemnly write these here accounts from my own life, some of which are sure to be real rip-snorters, and all of which being true as anything.
I figure on writing this here autobiography of me since I already got the implements handy from having to keep records mining for gold. I am now the sole proprietor of the Buckwourth mining camp a good ways up Little Miss River and right on the edge of Indian territory. Regarding gold mining, or mining of any sort, it is true that I know next to nothing on the subject, having never had occasion to undertake the occupation prior to my mother's brother kicking the bucket and me thereby falling into it. But seeing how life as a clerk fits poorly on my disposition, plus taking into account Uncle Luke's certainty of the mother lode about to show, that I am plum willing to give the venture a go, and reckon I can say the same for this here autobiography writing that I am fixing on doing.
In San Francisco I met a man who told me he had been to Sutter's Mill early in '48 and found a fortune in four hours. The biggest chunks filled his fists! Buckwourth being northwest of the Sierra Nevadas, I am nowhere near Coloma, yet cannot say I would too much mind if I was, because at the train station I also met a woman who said she was bound for that very destination, and except for Miss Felicity she was about the loveliest and most enchanting creature to ever trod soil.
I have cooked up a mess of beans, and they are very good. What with flour, coffee, salt, tea, tobacco and a deal of venison I picked up at the trading post for one of my three fifteen dollar beaver traps, I am feeling fairly well-provisioned. My nearest neighbor is a devoutly religious man by all accounts--most of those coming from the trading post--a trapper and a miner whose piety is reputed to be matched only by his delight on practicing cannibalism. And he's done that at least twice. But the last white man he killed and ate was fifteen years ago, and even though he is older and slower, he has passed up plenty of chances in favor of savages picked up at the post. So with my .40-caliber rifle courtesy of the Hawken brothers of St. Louis, I am not too concerned.
My Dearest Miss Felicity,
I have fixed my mind on writing my own autobiography, and would certainly be a good bit into it were it not for the hardships of daily life. Amenities-wise, the outhouse appears in distressed circumstances. After gnawing off a deal of venison this morning by way of breakfast, I have come to learn through hard tribulation to never trust a man trading venison again.
It being spring, the river is bracing and brisk. I have tried my hand at panning. You cannot believe how cold a man's hands get holding a pan in the shallows. Yet this biting cold was made less bitter by the image of your divine visage there to sustain me. Looking at the water I'd see your face floating there. Or if with a crick in my neck from being all hunkered over I looked up, why there you'd be again. I confess I felt a most marked and shameful embarrassment in wondering exactly how much of my hardships of the morning the hovering image of you had seen, but your vision sweetly reminded me in the most angelic manner that I was still working off the ill-effects of the tainted meat.
The bulk of the day went toward repairing the sluice, which I have done as best I can. When I have made my fortune and come calling on you proper, I will share with you this letter along with my autobiography so that you can come to understand the warm ardor with which I regard you as I remain now and forevermore your devoted admirer,
John William Calder
A week has slipped along since I last wrote. Though the days pass filled with toil, still I do not lament. I shall persevere in my endeavor to secure my fortune or perish in the attempt. I find the load of my drudgery lightened when recalling amusing incidents which I yet intend to pen. The plain fact is, however, at end of the day, I find both body and mind so beset with fatigue as to preclude all possibility of any sort of further pursuit.
I have discovered an additional neighbor, by all appearances a deformed albino native child. The wretch watched me from over yonder rise while I worked in the river this afternoon. The feeling I was being stared at suddenly washed upon me. On my word, I have never in my life seen a waif half as white as this poor malformed native entirely destitute of clothing.
My Dearest Miss Felicity,
I have been cooking up a mess of beans this evening and thinking on that fateful day I first seen your beatific visage. A man gets powerful lonesome with hardly no companionship to speak of other than a family of otters upriver that sometimes chase each other down here and splash around a bit.
On two occasions now I have seen a malformed waif, the slenderest child with the whitest skin and hugest head you ever saw. The wastrel wears not a stitch of clothing, and likewise has no hair. As on the first occasion, I did not achieve a satisfactory view of the elusive creature, but rather glimpsed it when retreating from me in the denseness of a thicket. I am pretty near certain I have a fix on where within the thicket the creature most often resides. If it appears any closer to camp, I am prepared to rout it out.
The evening sky, profusely bedecked with a myriad of stars, shines in great magnificence, but next to thoughts of you it stands hardly even better than the rear end of a green apple mule.
Your ardent admirer,
John William Calder
Today my nearest neighbor, a disagreeable man and thoroughly wretched in most respects, stopped by for a visit. "Name's Red Meat Bob," he said while I was fixing the slough. "Reckon you prolly heard I et white folks back when."
"Yep," I says.
"Well, I'm plum done with that. Been done these seven and a half years. Whaddaya call this operation?"
"This here's the Buckwourth mining camp, mister."
“You play cards?”
“Ain’t no hand at poker,” I says.
“They say the beginners have the best luck.”
Regarding Red Meat Bob, beyond all doubt he has shown himself to be of less than any use where work is to be done, but verbosity has its benefits. The old coot jabbers away rain or shine. Upon occasion, I confess, I have found myself not entirely averse to the sounds of social company. Half the time, what comes out of the pious old sinner's hairy head sounds almost like a kind of singing. Often he says to pardon his French, but then he goes ahead and says it all again louder.
Upon my word I was like to knock Red Meat Bob sideways into the river just this very afternoon, on account he refused to shut up, except for he scampered off easy enough with me up on the sluice. I will tell the world I was plum angry.
Come suppertime he shuffles round closer.
"Them beans smell good," he says. Couple crickets chirp by way of reply. "Coffee smells good too," he adds.
By way of reply with my Hawken at my side I told Red Meat Bob he could go to hell...
NOTE: Several new pages of the story are ready to go, and more will be written by Thursday to appear here.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
"Also Sprach Zarathustra".
Stanley Kubrick used Richard Strauss's music in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Elvis Presley used it as his own concert introduction theme. But before it was Strauss's music, Thus Spoke Zarathustra was Friedrich Nietzsche's book.
He's the German philosopher in the 1880s depicted with the giant mustache who says, "What does not kill me makes me stronger."
Misrepresented in death by his sister, who altered a book he had abandoned and gave it to Hitler as an all-purpose excuse for evil in a moral vacuum, for decades the misplaced idolatry of the Nazis for Nietzsche ruined his posthumous reputation, but in the 1950s scholarship revealed the error and his thought has been widely used ever since by disparate groups and individuals for varied ends.
In the excellent 2016 BBC documentary "Genius of the Modern World--Friedrich Nietzsche", engaging host historian Bettany Hughes cogently distills Nietzsche's often notoriously elusive ideas. And she visits scholars with their own observations.
For example, one scholar responds to the question of who is a Nietzschean Ubermensch or Overman, "An Overman is one who is no longer reliant on external goals." It is someone "who is able to commit to goals that you set yourself."
The documentary travels to the areas in Europe where he lived, showcasing the panoramic views of Sils Maria, Switzerland, the forests, rivers, and snow-capped mountains that inspired a philosophy of celebrating this life here and now and finding joy in overcoming obstacles and thereby reaching new heights.
Born in Rocken, Germany, in 1844, the philosopher who said, "I'm not a man, I'm dynamite!" began life as the son of a Lutheran minister in a household that, according to Hughes, "lived and breathed Christianity." It has been said of Nietzsche that he did not speak until he was four. It was at that age that his father died, an early event which shook young Nietzsche's faith.
In his early twenties he decided not to follow in his father's footsteps, but instead became a professor of Philology (Linguistics today) at Basel, Switzerland, the youngest professor in the university's history.
At this time he met Richard Wagner. Wagner was thrilled to have the young philosopher as a fan whose academic stature lent the composer additional weight. But after the opening of the new theater in Wagner's honor at Bayreuth and the production of his opera, The Ring, Nietzsche was deeply disappointed.
Itching to spread his wings, Nietzsche cited ill health (accurately enough) and resigned from the university, crisscrossing Europe and spending "the rest of his adult life in a state of nomadic solitude."
But he had, as Hughes observes, "his mind for company."
Part of a highly informative 3-part series focusing on great thinkers of the late-19th century whose ideas resonate today.
Freely available online.
Stewart Kirby writes for
And I also write short stories, short novels, and a couple of screenplays.
Check out my Nietzsche screenplay by clicking the link to OVERMAN below:
Can't get enough Nietzsche action?
Check out my story MOTHERS WITHOUT MASTERS, wherein we learn that Nietzsche never died at all, but actually went on to form the world's foremost fighting team...
Thursday, August 17, 2017
In addition to writing short stories, novellas, and short novels, and sharing them sometimes in part and sometimes fully here, plus a great many other activities, I also love one Gorgeous Goddess, and am so excited about her, I have to share this:
MY BLACK BRIDE
MY BLACK BRIDE
Sunday, August 13, 2017
It's not a "lost" documentary. Nor was it banned. Nor is it even a documentary.
"Alien Encounters From New Tomorrowland" aired briefly in 1995, then got promptly shelved.
Written and directed by Andrew Thomas, "Alien Encounters" features narration by Robert Urich taking a decidedly unprofessional approach for a documentary by treating the subject as established fact.
Plucked from obscurity, Thomas followed directives and presented Disney with the product as requested. Strangely, the Disneyland ride ostensibly promoted received scant attention.
After being randomly aired in a few cities in only five states, Disney pulled it. Strange way to conduct a marketing campaign.
Especially considering that then-CEO of Disney Michael Eisner surprised Thomas by getting his own camera crew to film him introducing "Alien Encounters". Apparently Eisner thought the show was important. So why did it get pulled?
In the late-1950s, promoting Tomorrowland, Walt Disney had Wernher von Braun appear in three space-related films. Von Braun, a former member of the Nazi SS, invented the V-2 rocket. But he died in 1977, so in 1995 Disney went with likable, trustworthy Robert Urich.
It does seem a tad askew for Urich to state as fact through Disney that beings vastly more technologically sophisticated than ourselves regularly visit, and the government lies about it in order to stay in power. Particularly when the material was written by someone with no prior knowledge of the subject.
By contrast, UFOs: Past, Present, and Future (1974) does the job right. Based on the book by Robert Emenegger, the documentary attempts to uncover proof of the existence of aliens. Presented by Rod Serling, and narrated by Burgess Meredith and Jose Ferrer, the film was re-released a few years later due to the popularity of the subject with films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).
It wasn't a "publicity stunt". If the director had pretended to be abducted by aliens in order to draw attention to the Disney ride before the show aired, then that would be a publicity stunt.
And the 40-minute film has nothing in common with Orson Welles' radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Orson Welles altered the book by H.G. Wells significantly, and started the Halloween broadcast with a disclaimer that many listeners failed to catch.
"Alien Encounters" is nothing like that. It's not particularly well done, but it does feature information found in more reliable sources. And it remains a mystery.
Freely available online.
Stewart Kirby writes for
Monday, August 7, 2017
Charlize Theron ignites the screen in this stylish action flick.
Lorraine Broughton, the MI6 agent she plays, relays to higher-ups details regarding events five days prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.
Some movies work extensively on accurate details bringing to life a certain time period on screen. The Ice Storm, for example, or American Hustle.
Atomic Blonde isn't one of those.
The soundtrack alone will probably make Theron, who is also one of the film's producers, a tidy fortune.
But the main event in Atomic Blonde is Theron herself, beating the crap out of guys convincingly.
Of course, lots of movies from way back try to do it. Some succeed admirably. Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 is convincing. So is the woman who plays Trinity in The Matrix. Charlize Theron is all that and a bag of chips.
She gets about as bruised-up or better than Christian Bale's Dark Knight. And you can see she's pretty dang sturdy. The fights are so well-choreographed, and she's so good at it, we get to clearly see the action. The filmmakers needed to not rely on special effects or edits.
And the payoff: On the heels of Wonder Woman--and in high heels--Theron proves that a woman can have a good butt and kick butt good.
Additionally, she's a lesbian. Plus there's another lesbian, too. And they're both just two really good-looking lesbians together. So, that's exciting.
Meanwhile, there's James McAvoy as the annoying guy, and John Goodman as the sturdy backup actor.
Great use of music.
Lots of memorable bits.
Because of certain obvious (and less obvious) similarities with James Bond, it would be interesting to see Lorraine Broughton crossover with 007.
Tangentially, this calls to mind an entire franchise of heavily retro Bond flicks.
Until then, this.
Starring Charlize Theron,
Directed by David Leitch
Based on the graphic novel series "The Coldest City"
written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart
Runtime 115 minutes
Stewart Kirby writes for