Thursday, December 29, 2011

The White Sheik, 1951

Watched Federico Fellini's first film
at 5 A.M when the house was asleep.

Pottersville Public Library

Finished the new Stephen King book
on Christmas day. Great read, ends
with a James Stewart moment in
alternate present, looking for library
when this exchange takes place:
"Ma'am, I just want to know if
the library is still--"
"It's been closed for years and
all the books are gone! They have
Hate Meetings there now." (p.804)
As usual, King has it pegged.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blue Cliff King

For the past couple months
I've been reading a chapter
a night from The Blue Cliff Record.
It's a centuries old collection of
koans and a good door to dreamland.
However, as of yesterday I opened
Stephen King's new book on
time travel. Everything else
has come to a tick-tock stop.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lights in the Sky

JGenius sent me this photo his friend took.
Some lights floating by in the sky last week.

Mental Magic

Mental Magic

“Only fourteen more days until it snows,” he said

through his false teeth. They clicked in his mouth like

river stones. Cornlin Farrot also wore a fake moustache

and a coarse black wig, with a yellow baseball cap

perched on top.

The bus driver said, “Is that so?” The bus

drivers knew Cornlin. Anyone riding the 150 route

at this time of morning had seen him at his perch,

the first seat to the right. The drivers had even

given him a nickname, Mental Magic, for Cornlin

had an amazing knowledge for numbers, he was

like an almanac.

He pointed the thick sleeve of his green

rain jacket straight ahead out the sheet of windshield.

“The pancake house is closed. It was open for 22


With a grin, the driver asked, “How many

days is that?”

“8,030,” Cornlin replied. “Soon it will be

a Mexican restaurant. When it opens I’ll have to go.”

As the bus passed the blank concrete building, Cornlin

turned in his plastic seat to watch. The thick tinted

glasses he wore hid his eyes. The sight of it seemed

to remind him of something else, something that

quieted him.

Some mornings Cornlin would go on and

on like a radio, but now he seemed preoccupied,

weighed down by a heavy thought he wouldn’t share.

For the rest of the ride he remained silent, clutching

his blue cloth shopping bag on his lap, staring at

the window. When the bus stopped and the door

clacked open, he stood up and left without even

saying goodbye.

The driver watched Mental Magic get

lost in the streetlights and shadows. Maybe

tomorrow he’d ask him if he was doing okay.

Cornlin’s shuffling walk across the

damp stone pathway of campus began to change

the moment he opened the glass door of

Accounting Services. Once inside, it was like

another pair of legs was walking him, taking

him swiftly down the hall, around the corner

to the men’s restroom, out of sight. True,

he used to worry about being spotted, but it

was always early when arrived and some time

ago he had taken the precaution of informing

the custodial staff to clean this floor last.

He could make decisions like that. Corlin

Farrot was the director of Accounting Services.

He shuffled past the sinks, the wall

of mirrors, and entered the furthest stall.

He set the bag on the tiled floor. He took off

his yellow cap and wig and hung them on

the silver hook of the door. Then piece by piece

he removed his bus riding disguise, replacing

it with the carefully folded suit in his blue

shopping bag. The false teeth he tucked into

a pocket of the rain jacket. The transformation

was complete. The tennis shoes were gone too.

Instead, he wore expensive leather wingtips

with tassels.

As he left the stall, gone too was the

shuffling gambol, now he walked as if he had

been starched, rolled in a fresh American flag.

He stopped in front of the row of mirrors and

cleared his throat.

“Redefining the academic workplace…”

he said. It only took that long for him to find his

voice, it was deeper, grating as an asbestos panel.

“Necessarily, it has become strategically imperative

at this time…” His face was set between

thoughtfulness and a frown. He slipped one hand

in the pocket of his suit, the other he used to jab

the air. “I know we’re all aware of the severity

of the budgetary climate…” He paused again,

rose on the tips of his shoes and settled again.

He still had an hour before the staff meeting

when he would announce the elimination of two

staff positions. “I see this as an opportunity for

reshuffling responsibilities at the job core…”

He did enjoy the sound of his voice. He smiled.

Then he heard something move over

in the stalls.

Cornlin caught terror in the mirrored

eyes staring back at him. Someone was in here,

had been in the stall next to him the whole time,

and knew about his disguise.

If it was one of the cleaning ladies,

he would fire her on the spot. But what if she

threatened to tell? Walking towards the stall

Cornlin actually considered murder.

He stopped at the first stall. His hands

had become fists. “Who’s in there?” he growled.

The silver latch scratched and the door swung


Cornlin took two steps backwards.

He was facing a gorilla.

Actually it was someone in a gorilla suit,

but the scare had been just as real.

“Look…” the gorilla began, “Don’t get

any weird ideas, I didn’t mean for anyone to find

me in here…”

“Who are you?!” Cornlin demanded.

The gorilla sighed, bowed and took off

his head. A red faced and sweaty man in his fifties

blinked at Cornlin. “Name’s Marty, Marty Brickles.

This is the first time I ever come in this building,

Mr. Farrot. Usually I hang around the Steam Plant.”

“What exactly are you doing?”

Marty shrugged. He chuckled, “Ahh, I

don’t know…I like to put on this costume and stomp

around in the woods before work. I never hurt anyone.

Every once in a while I give someone a scare, that’s

all. Hey, you’re not going to turn me in, are you,

Mr. Farrot?”

Cornlin glared.

“I know you’re a big man around here,

Mr. Farrot, but you don’t have to say anything…

Besides…” he turned the gorilla mask in his hands,

stroked it like a rabbit, “I guess you got a secret too.”

Annotated Mental Magic:
Of my hundreds of unpublished short stories
(add this one to the parade) every once in
a while, a guy in a gorilla suit appears.
That source would undoubtedly be all
those 1940s/1950s black & white movies
seen on Saturdays back in the 1970s.
The gorilla suit was also a fixture of
television variety shows and cartoons
of the day. Besides, what else could
possibly confront Cornlin Farrot?

bus drawing & writing:
allen frost December 9, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

100 Years of Kenneth Patchen

Kenneth Patchen born 100 years ago today.

This is his handwritten introduction to

"An Astonished Eye Looks Out of the Air"



















Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stick Chart of the Marshall Islands

It's ironic that the last project
for repair in the Mendery is
a Stick Chart of the Marshall Islands.
"The charts of the Marshall Island
navigators are made, generally, of
narrow strips of the center ribs
of palm leaves lashed together
with cord made from locally grown
This is for my friend Eric,
supervisor of the Mendery
a true craftsman who was
the shepherd of Wilson Library's
collection for many years.
From him I learned invaluable skills
for repairing books and also making
books. Many thanks from me and
the still living soul of this library.
"The stick charts illustrate spatial phenomena
of infinite importance to the native
inter-island navigator, but of little
significance to most other people."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

movie time

I can't stop thinking about this movie
I watched last weekend, Mr Hulot's Holiday.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Air Travel: 11

Chapter 81

In fact, upon returning to hovering

over land, he descended and parked

his boat beside a lamppost on the shore.

Chapter 82

He tossed the rope around the pole

and hopped out. Five minutes later,

he returned with a bouquet of daisies,

it was a present for the ghost.

Chapter 83

His house was fluttering all its big

and little sails on the invisible walls.

He could see his rocking chair going,

though by the time he tied his boat to

the tree and turned to look again,

the chair was still as a painting.

Chapter 84

He never had any trouble with the ghost.

He only noticed it passing a few times

in the day. Sometimes he wondered if

it was giving him dreams, when he saw places

from long ago where he had never been.

Chapter 85

He made sort of a big show as he entered.

“Hello!” he called. He walked slowly like a

deep sea diver. “I brought you a present…

I want to say thank you…”

Chapter 86

Albert stopped in the kitchen and listened.

Nothing. He reached into an invisible cupboard

and took down a vase. He reached for the

invisible faucet on the invisible sink and filled

the vase with water.

Chapter 87

The house was still quiet. He settled

the flowers into the invisible water

and held it up to the air.

Chapter 88

“I just wanted to say thanks for scaring off

that fish…I guess it was getting on everyone’s

nerves…” Nothing happened. “I don’t know if

you like flowers, I don’t know what ghosts like.”

Chapter 89

Nearby, someone laughed and someone else,

closer to Albert said, “We’re not ghosts.”

Chapter 90

Albert stood there and listened to them.

“This used to be our house,” another unseen said.

“We didn’t want to leave,” said a girl’s voice.

Chapter 91

“Ohhh,” Albert said, figuring it out,

“You’re from The Invisible City…”

Someone corrected him,

“It’s only invisible to you.”

Chapter 92

“You’re not ghosts?” Albert stumbled on.

A laugh, “That’s what you people call us.”

From the sounds of their voices, there were

four of them. Albert asked, “You’re a family?”

“That’s right.”

Chapter 93

Albert sat in his rocking chair. On the table

where the fish used to be were the flowers.

Outside, which was all around him, leaves

were blowing, falling and swirling on the

jagged grass, rain was hissing, the yellow trees

were bending and waving.

Chapter 94

“I lost my job,” Norman Withers told him.

“We ran into some hard times. We lost

the house. We had nowhere to go.

What were we supposed to do?

So we stayed with the house.”

Chapter 95

“We didn’t think you would notice us,”

said Doris. “We tried to be quiet.”

Her children were near her, Albert

could hear them too.

Chapter 96

So there was an invisible family

in his invisible house. Now that he knew,

it was better. He let them have their rooms back.

They could live the way they were used to.

Chapter 97

He tried to give them space.

He had a little room in the attic,

a bed and a light, creaking floorboards…

basically Albert Roselli became a ghost.

to be continued...
Next, Part 3: The Bees

Drawings by Rustle
'listen, talk, walk
every tries
out of this world'
Photos of birch trees taken at my job

Annotated Air Travel:
1. If you drive across Lake Washington,
you may notice the floating bridge is
named after governor Albert Rosellini.
2. Here is Rustle's complete
knock-knock joke:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Air Travel: 10

Chapter 71

He had been aware of this sound in the house,

a sound without a visible source, he could only

assume it was a ghost. His invisible house

was haunted.

Chapter 72

After sharing the house with Albert for

weeks (relaxing like a television image

in a pool of clear sea water that Albert replaced

twice a day, with gourmet minced kelp to eat)

it took this quiet October morning for the fish

to finally notice the ghost too.

Chapter 73


He opened his eyes.

“What’s that noise?”

Albert sat and listened to the ghost

turning pages.

Chapter 74

“There’s a spook in your house!”

“Yes,” Albert told the fish. “I know.”

And then something miraculous

occurred. The fish chimed,

“I want out of here!”

Chapter 75

On the journey back to the sea,

the fish went on and on about it.

“That’s one thing we don’t have to

put up with in the ocean. If there’s

any ghosts, the tide takes care of them

and washes them away.”

Chapter 76

The October wind was picking up

and it was hard rowing but even

the cold blowing couldn’t drown out

that fish’s talking.

Chapter 77

Albert stopped in the same place

that used to be lucky for him,

the bed of brown kelp leaves.

Chapter 78

The sea parrot was back in the bucket

waving its fins. It took its own little white

cast off—that’s how much a hurry it was in.

Albert lifted the bucket by rope and began

to lower it hand over hand.

Chapter 79

The sea parrot was going in reverse,

taking the exact opposite journey

on a line back to the water, hopefully

for forever.

Chapter 80

He let the bucket sink into a wave,

he could see the fish flap out and

blur away into the murkiness, then

he pulled the fresh weight of water

back up again. It was heavy but to

Albert it felt so much lighter.

to be continued...

(Ghost with Fish picture by Rustle)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Air Travel: 9

Chapter 62

Waking up was rough.

As soon as the night began to fade

into dawn, the sea parrot’s voice

would turn on like an alarm.

Chapter 63

“Albert…Mister Roselli…” He could

hear his name being thrown at him.

He was a floor away but it didn’t matter.

Chapter 64

He opened his eyes. The day was

a dull colored clay. He had to get up.

Chapter 65

Yes, he thought of draping a cloth

over the fish tank, the way people do

with their canaries at night,

but the sea parrot wouldn’t allow it.

It wanted natural light. It was an

early bird.

Chapter 66

And as long as it stayed in his house,

slowly mending, Albert couldn’t go fishing.

He had to take another job to make ends

meet. He made origami. He got paid

by the swan.

Chapter 67

Albert had been making them for years.

It wasn’t difficult work. He could make them

in his sleep. And it paid. Believe it or not,

there was always a demand.

Chapter 68

So he was lucky to have this job.

After all, there couldn’t be too many

people making an origami living.

Chapter 69

After he fed the sea parrot, Albert sat down

in the rocking chair. He pulled the blanket

over his legs and closed his eyes. Sometimes

the fish let him sleep for a while. Listen to

the popping sound of the fish eating and

the creaking of the slow rocking chair

levitated in the middle of a dark early morning.

Chapter 70

While he was half awake, Albert also heard

the movement of something else. It was

prickly, like a ball of newspaper blown

gently across the floor.

to be continued...

(Photo of fake origami taken today

in woods where this novel ended.

The leaf below is also from there.)

unmurked display

Regarding W.W.U library's Special Collections display
featuring a selection of my publications, a certain
prominent Seattle composer of horror films found
the photo on the previous post to be "murky"
so here's a better look:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Air Travel: 8

Chapter 54

Anyway, a year ago or so

he bought a house there

and towed it back to the yard

where he parked his boat.

Chapter 55

Back then, when the house

settled down, crushing a big square

into the grass, he was a little worried.

Chapter 56

With a ladder, he went all around

the invisible corners of it, wrapping it

with a rope. It did look weird to see

a lasso in the air holding nothing.

Chapter 57

Then he hung flags, clothes and rags

so nobody would run into the house.

That also gave the house a sound,

when there was wind.

Chapter 58

He didn’t have to worry about

animals running into the house.

They seemed to know it was there.

Chapter 59

Birds would fly around it,

bees would veer on their paths

to flowers.

Chapter 60

For him, there were some things

to get used to—knowing the rooms,

doorways and invisible stairs…

Chapter 61

Sleeping was easy though.

High off the ground, being in bed

it was just like floating along in his boat.

to be continued...

(House pictures by Rustle)