Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Neal Barrett

When I was 16 I bought an old Amazing (December 1963) at a used bookstore in Amarillo, Texas. It had a picture of some aliens approaching what appeared to be a giant okra. This cover was for Neal Barrett's "To Plant A Seed." I notice that Neal has the cover story of the current Asimov's. In fact this is Neal's 50th year of writing. Now Neal produced The Hereafter Gang, which John Clute called the "Great American Novel." Neal was born in 1929.

Barrett has also written under other names including: Victor Appleton, Chad Calhoun, Clay Dawson, Franklin W. Dixon, Rebecca Drury, Wesley Ellis, and J.D. Hardin.You can drop Neal a note, or buy a copy of a few of his books here:


Neal has poured out Westerns, SF, and Mysteries. I haven't been disapointed in anything I've read by him in 32 years. That's a pretty broad recomendation. One of great lights in Austin

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Recently I was invited by Kathy Spiers to attend the Cotton Festival in Hedley, Texas.

This is Hedley:


Kathy is writing a history of the town and I asked her the question that I had always wanted to know. My dad (Veron Llyod Webb) had always told me that my when my grandfather, Dr. James William Webb, delivered a child he would ask the parents "What are we going to name this baby?" If the parents did not have a name picked out, he would supply one. Dad said granddad like to give out the first name of "Webb" as well as names of his brothers and sisters -- Max, Thresa etc. (No that was not a spelling error) Thresa. My mom, Mildred Scott Webb, told me that one of the women in her Sunday school class had been named Thresa, and said to her, "You know where I got that name." Well Kathy told me that her mom Patsy Vernon Spiers could textify to the family story as she was both delivered and named by Dr. Webb.

The Romans used to day "Nomen est Omen.: That a name was an Omen. This was meant as a useful guide to parents. It has also become a German Metal song:


But what interests me is the number of parents that pick names wuth bad Wyrds for their offspring. Every year that I teach I have Cassandras -- and yes, nobody belives them. None of these girls have ever heard of the Princess of Troy, certainly none of them know the literal meaning of the name = "She who hang/entangles women." Even more to my surpise none of them care. A few kids always ask to look up their name on the Internet and scoff at the idea that I migfht know their names' meanins simply by having been on this planet for nealry half a century. Alsmot known of them know the biblical roots of James, Matthew, Juan or Abel.

The power of name is strong ju-ju, ask any school teacher about the beahvior of a Jesus, Angel, or Christian. These kids will do their damndest to be the Anti- from of these things. makes me wonder how Anton La Vey's last kid, Satan Karnacki La Vey turned out.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Set Animal

From time to time the icongraphy of the god Set is discussed in His temple. Now this is not a pressing theological concern, despite Plato's remarks about knowing a god. Various animals are suggested -- the mormyus fish, the seluki dog, even giraffes. I am a salawa man, myself. Many of these debates are just touch tounge in cheek.

Iconography ain't simple. Let's take Jesus. What are his
icons? The pretzel, the shamrock, a fish shaped doo-dad (based on a Latin-Greek pun based on a Hebrew contraction eing 'Greekified" to start with), a pine tree (from Jesus Quest for the Runes), some Renaissance cloth from Turin, his blonde hair/blue eyes yadda, yadda, yaddaand we are only looking at only two thousand years in a historical times .
. .


Oh Set.

Set's a toughie. Of course part of the (agreed-upon) iconography shows up at least 6,000 years ago. Is he a Mormyrus? Hmm, Well unlike most fish they use electricity and noise. "Hey, Chick Pea, I tried to pick up this fish and it shocked me and then it said 'Water' so I threw back in the river." (This is funnier in Egyptian). "Hey Chick-Pea you notice how it isn't raining like it used to? Let's go down to the old swimming hole and
mark up some petrogylphs for the god Dazzler to keep that creepy Osiris dude away when we die. I hear that them glaciers are almost gone in Europe. It's global warming I tell you. That damn ditch between here and Italy will fill the fuck up with salt water soon. You know my big fear is that people will forget the soul goes North when you die and start worshiping the sun,
and start thinking the soul goes west when you die -- by the way I invented calendars and astronomy over at that little playa where the buffalo wallow. I'll show you sometime. Sure is damn weird about that fish though. I don't fish should talk and use lightening. You know what god that has to be about. Last night I dreamt that a Hungarian named Laszlo Almasy will discover our
swimming hole in about 12 thousand years and make no connection between the image of Dazzler and those an English man named Petrie is going to discover. Instead -- get this he'll think they're fucking giraffes! I think I'm going to work some fish imagery into my petroglyphs today. I don't know what a Hungarian is, but it's just damn creepy. Tonight I have go polish the bull
horns on my dad's grave so his Bakha will still be be honored up in the Constellation of the Thigh. Hey Chick-Pea you know what Uncle Den found out? If you take a Bull's dick and turn it inside out and dry -- it looks just like the Dazzler's Head. He's giving them out for Christmas this year to all the other head men. I can't believe how early the Christmas stuff is being put in the malls this year. It's still Proyet and the Wind of
Breathing hasn't come. You know I'm tired of being a nomad (Month) all the time, I think I'll use that calendar idea to create agriculture. I mean I will always love cattle, but I like bread better than drinking cow's blood for my sugars. Here's another think Chick-Pea the headman of our Masai cousins now calls himself the King of the World, he believes his descendants
will get to meet Priest F---- some day, so he's acting all big and bad. I'm glad he's getting a bull dick for Christmas."





But then you got that great tail, which is birthing knife/circumcision/ Opening the Mouth tool, which was a symbol of Set in archaic times and the Empire. Dr. Ann Macy Roth makes a good case for that being where the tail comes from. Not a bad symbol for Imitation god. Birth, join your guild
(Phyle/ Za), join the Akhu. Very African (even today)

But Egypt being the great crossroads of the world, Set got wings from the Sumerian gods -- not many Sumerians around these days -- Sabaras folk in India and Zheng-zheng speakers in Tibet.

The local Bedouins had those great headless demons and that entered into the mix pretty early -- "I don't know Adbul something just grabbed me and I had all these weird thoughts, what do you think of that? Anyway what makes you think without a head of its own? You know I always have them dreams after a
meteor hits the sand. There's some connection with the night sky and Headless Demons I tell you, just the other day I was visiting Thebes and a Monthu Priest named Lives the Moon told me that he has been dreams about Headless demons too, in his next life he is going to check them out. He said he is coming back as a Greek god named Alastor. So I said, "What the frak is a Greek?" and he said, "Remember those pirates that Raesses III kicked out of the Delta?" yadda, yadda By the way, I had the goofiest dream last night that the Headless Demon tradition is going to go through a weird path of historical corruption and become something called a Barbara Eden."



However my bet is still the salawa.



There is a modern Salawa Information center in Armant(Hermouthis). They still show up there from time to time. There's a little problem with them though -- they vanish after you catch them -- in fact they seem damn similar to the stories of shaman that can make their bodies into dream animals. At
Heliopolis there were bounties posted against them. Now here's the Rub -- why Hermouthis. Well, the only other god to have a Set-head, Monthu was worshipped there:


So boyz and squirrels, there you have it -- the Bull Woshipping Nomads had a little trouble with werewolves as the desert moved in . . .

Friday, July 4, 2008

Bowling for Narrative

Dear Friends,

On this day where we celebrate the great working of Will that brought a secular Order to this land. I give three things, a little essay, some notes on writing, and some community service links.


Getting Drilled.

It was my first ball.

I hadn’t got into bowling until I was thirty-eight. When I was growing up I was a sickly child, more of a slug than a human being. I compensated for my mucusy life by being vastly well-read, and developing several snobbish opinions. Bowling was considered a low sport, and my only venture onto the lanes was during a Navy ROTC tournament in Tascosa High School, where I earned the “Most Gutter Balls” trophy. (If you took ROTC you didn’t have to take gym, and you got to mount a virtual amphibious assault against France -- beating the frogs at their own game as it were).

When a group of friends took to me to the Dart Bowl, I expected an evening of tedium, and (of course) gutter balls. I met a young grad student and we discussed Heidegger between rolls. I went away with two strikes, four gutter balls and a much better understanding of Being and Time. The Dart Bowl in those days was a great hold-over of 60s architecture. I felt like I was on the set of Lost in Space. The sounds, the equipment, the air filled with an inaudible vibration all took me back to an imagined future.

Much to my surprise I found myself urging us to return. It wasn’t hard to convince them. Some of them were “intellectuals” like myself hypnotized by the rolling black balls. The ambiance had changed, now it was all new millennium. There were fancy displays that gave you animations when you bowled. I hated it until one cartoon congratulated me on getting a spare. I found myself liking the little bowling pin that lifted weights when I got an eight, or wrestled with a gorilla when I got a spare – and dreading the one pin that became two pins when I got a split, with its terrible reminder of the Sorceror’s Apprentice of Lucian (and Goethe and Disney). Each alley had a radar detector that told you the speed of your ball.


I was back in school at this point, finishing up my BA in English after a twenty-year hiatus. The Sigma Tau Delta, which is the national English Honor Society, had a bowling tournament for Honor chords. Papers about Joyce and J. Frank Dobie and the Book of Thousand Nights had had to come into being, for this honor. I had been bowling for about a year and was able to win my cords. I marched through gym at UT wearing them in May of 2002, the second oldest graduate at the ceremony. Thank god, I thought, bowling and good handle of post-modernism have brought me here.

Christmas came and Guiniviere, my lovely wife, asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I said, “my own ball.” I was tired of looking through the scratched black public balls, trying to find the fourteen pound wonder for the night. I wanted a ball with pizzazz, style, magic. Sure enough on Christmas there was the gaily wrapped box with my fourteen pound beauty all red and orange and black like a comet. I was suspired that it had no holes. I didn’t know that new balls are drilled for the user.

I had (and have) a tough schedule. In those days, before they canned me, I work at the Writer’s League, I teach, I write. I couldn’t go to the Pro Shop until the day before the Super Bowl. Also it is psychologically hard for a man to go to his ball drilled. The nice lady with the big drill massaged my right hand and had me try various grips and gestures – I felt that I was being inducted into a strange Masonic order with a dozen secret handshakes. She made many notes and told me to come back in a hour.

There it was all red and black and orange and beautiful. I picked it up and it caressed my fingers. Surely I was some male Cinderella invited to a ball. I even got a free game coupon.

So I have my big moment. I bowled with the new ball. The flame pattern made the ball look slow, but the radar detector on the alley told me that my ball was flying faster than ever. I got strikes, picked up spares, even dealt with the four pen split. I had been initiated into a secret and wonderful society.

I know then that God bowled. The shiny balls of dirty ice we call comets are God’s bowling balls. My revelation was deep and profound certainly no Zen monk had had such enlightenment. I had a mission that I would take to all of Austin – the highest use of human being is bowling, all of our civilization reached toward this moment.

My games over, I put my palantir, my scrying ball, my holy bowler in its red bag and strode to return my rented green-and-red shoes. My cell phone rang, playing its strains of Beethoven. My friends wanted to play pool at Slick Willies.

Pool’s pretty good too, I thought.


A friend of mine wanted to take up the non-lucrative art of short story writing. He went to a site that told he had to read about forty stories to get started. Here is my Short Course in the Short Story:

In some perfect world we get to read everything we want.

In our world however I'd stick to a few stories. Read them and answer the questions for yourself. or do the follow-up reading. That's step one.

James Joyce's The Dead


A. By the end of the story, we feel what Gabriel feels -- a really complex mixture of sadness, acceptance, growing old, regrets, and a sense of the Bigness of the Universe. Joyce never tells us to feel these things, how does he set it up?

B. How does Joyce make us identify with Gabriel?


Shirley Jackson's The Lottery


C. Shirley never tells us that this is a story about women being oppressed by men, and we read every word as a suspense tale. What are a few of the ways she tells our subconscious?

D. When this surprisingly brief tale was in the New Yorker, it attracted hate mail and caused many people to cancel their subscriptions. How could you (like Shirley) use the idea of the Shadow in a story?



H. P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out Of Space


E. The "monster" of this piece is a color we have never seen before. Lovecraft prepares us for that by the visuals in the first few paragraphs. What "head games" does he play on the reader?

F. How does the use of the multiple voices change the effect of the story -- smart young man, shaky old man, and the farmer talking about his wife and son?


K. A. Porter's The Jilting of Grandmother Weatherall


G. How does Porter lets us know what is objectively going on in the room, yet still keep Grandmother Weatherall's point of view?

H. How does Porter tell us the big story, the story of the Jilting, with almost no details? The jilting happens in three or four sentences, yet we know it is the Shaping point of Grandmother Weatherall.


Step Two:

After you have given thought to the above, take stories that you know, or hear or watch and try telling them with any techniques you've thought about above. See what works for you and what doesn't. Feel free to draw from anything in you -- a Shakespeare play, the Jerry Springer show, awkward time when someone told a joke at a party and nobody got it.


Step Three

Just start writing. Pick a time everyday and pick a word goal and make it every day.


Community Service

How to make a natural Viagra using Watermelons


The Best Link You'll read on Cyrptolingusitics and Rubik's Cube


The best link on pork levitation: