Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Sketch of the Circus

The circus is a mystery thing. A field becomes a city of gently swaying canvas envelopes. Why they visit us is a secret they will not tell, if they know. But go quickly into the magic darkness unafraid. Wish the unwishable, believe the unbelievable. Memorize the sights, the sounds, the smells—by dawn, the wispy city becomes a field again.

There were colorful posters and billboards on every flat surface available, advertising the Circus Mystique.


The black-and-white outlines were filled with red, yellow, and blue, showing each beast in highly unlikely poses—a joganot on a tightrope? A joganot was a large herbivore that ate its weight in vegetation each day. Many homes had a pet joganot instead of a kitchen disposal unit. They also pulled wagons if wearing a feed bag. The purple gross was a bird to be avoided because it had never been potty trained, and the long-billed snooze slept during the day and caught insects at night. Its wings beat so quickly that it could be heard as a whoosh above in the black sky.

This performance will include the following:

1. The Grand Entrance Parade. The Circus Mystique is proud to welcome each and every one of you.

2. Danger in the Cat Cage. In the center ring, within a cage of steel, these wild beasts perform amazing tricks such as jumping through a hoop of flame!

3. The Riding Gelatos. In ring number one, Papa Gelato oversees seven of the finest jackalopes doing superb dances, while in ring number three, Eve Gelato supervises her children riding bareback, doing flips and whirls on their jackalopes.

4. The Flying Maidens. High above you, our aerial chorus line dances and cavorts for your pleasure while dangling from ropes high above the arena.

5. Here Come the Clowns. Mayhem in the arena as our masters of fun amuse one and all.

6. Bring on the Dogs. In all three rings, watch and be amazed by their seriously silly antics.

7. The Elephant Shrews. In the center ring, these amazingly graceful animals will astound you with their dancing and high jinks!

8. The Wire of Death. In the stratosphere above the center ring, the Abasheds Quintet will defy the danger of the high wire for your approval.

9. Six Performing Joganots. These gentle giants, having astonishing dexterity, perform in the center ring.

10. Great Jumping Gerbils. In all three rings, watch these graceful beauties leap or climb through a variety of hoops,runs, and ladders.

Following the Intermission:

1. Clown Alley. Here they are again with more hilarious misadventures.

2. The Big Bang. Shot from a cannon in ring number one, watch Tony Toledo land in the net in ring number three! Do not try this at home!

3. The Supremes. This is the finest trapeze act of all time, right above your heads!

4. Rodeo. Throughout the arena, watch these trick riders try to outperform each other.

5. Ballet in the Sky. A lavish production of aerialists who defy the laws of gravity, accompanied by the world’s only performing goldfinches.

6. Menagerie Madness. You saw them in cages and dens, now see the unbelievable dexterity they have racing and prancing in all three rings. Cats! Dogs! Gerbils! Rabbits!

7. Ring Toss. In all three rings, we present the most famous jugglers of our day.

8. Scramble. Clowns, jugglers, rope skippers, chipmunks, and rabbits everywhere!

9. Mystique. The moment you’ve been waiting for. The one, the only Professor Mystique will perform magical spells and pose questions without answers in the center ring.

10. The Circus on Parade. In a fond farewell to you all, the entire cast and our beloved animals circle the arena.
Extracts from Lands of Inchoate Trilogy, 3rd Edition, by Edward J. Fisher, Xlibris 2014.
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Monday, December 22, 2014

The most important piece you shall read this year!

 December 22, 2014

Arthur Demarest: On the future of the U.S., or of Western civilization in general, I tend to be quite pessimistic. Perhaps that is simply because “collapse” is what I do. As an archaeologist, I have excavated single trenches, just a few meters deep, in which you can see stratigraphic levels of several civilizations. We find layers of artifacts and evidence indicating periods of great prosperity, but always separated by levels of burned earth, ash and artifacts that reflect the epochs of social disintegration, chaos and tragedy that seem to conclude the achievements and aspirations of every society.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Winter Solstice 2014

December 21

  At this rolling time of the year we look forward to the beginning of winter. This year it will occur in central Michigan on December 21 at 6:11 am. This is when the Earth’s tilt of 23.5 degrees points its axis directly away from the Sun. It is this tilt that causes our seasons. The sun will appear directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn, at 23.5 degrees south latitude. With the Earth’s North Pole at its maximum tilt from the sun, locations north of the equator see the sun follow its lowest and shortest arc across the southern sky. For the next six months, the days again grow longer as the sun spends more time above the horizon.

  Places on or north of the Arctic Circle will be in total darkness. Those on or south of the Antarctic Circle will receive 24 hours of sunshine. The sun will appear directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn, at 23.5 degrees south of the equator.

  December 21 is the shortest day of the year for us with about ten hours of daylight.  The earliest sunset for us was on December 7. The perihelion (closest point to the sun in our elliptical orbit) occurs around January 4th at about 147 million km. This is a little over 88 million miles.

  Astronomers have refined the degrees into minutes, seconds, and highly accurate decimal places. Because the Earth wobbles slightly on its axis, due to problems of indigestion (that magma rumbling around is a pain), the times and degrees change from year to year.

  In the Northern Hemisphere the Winter Solstice was taken seriously by the ancients, leading to a number of festivals to coax the gods into bringing back the sun and warmth. The Saturnalia was a major event for the Romans, with lots of drinking, gift-giving, bonfires, candles, and feasts. It lasted from three to seven days depending on the whims of the Emperor and economic conditions. Saturn was the creator of man in the Golden Age, where there was no winter. He was ousted by his son, Jupiter and life went downhill from there.

  Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means “the birthday of the unconquered Sun”. In what is now Iran, the Zoroastrians worshipped Mithras, who was created by the chief god, Ahura-Mazda, to save the world. This festival was celebrated in his honor by Roman soldiers who occupied the land. In 274 CE the Roman emperor, Aurelian, made it an official cult holiday alongside the many other Roman holidays.

  Brumalia was a Greek winter holiday associated with Dionysus and wine. By the time of this winter holiday the wine was ready to be poured into jars for drinking.  Although a Greek holiday, the name Brumalia is from the Latin for Winter Solstice. (N.S. Gill, www.About.com .)

  For one and all, enjoy the Winter Solstice!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Excerpts from Lands of In-KO-8 Trilogy, 3rd Edition

The book is about a dark-matter world. It involves space travel, many cultures, war and faith. Here are several of the characters:

He awoke from a terrible dream and found himself in the middle of a field covered with wheat stubble. The stubble had pierced his hands and face, and he was bleeding. A bell somewhere far away solemnly toned the hour: one, two, three. Dawn was still to the distant east, rushing toward him.

He went back to the mill and entered what he took to be an empty shed. There was straw on the floor and two animals, a feeding trough, and a basin of water. He recognized them as jackalopes, amiable creatures. They were used for pulling wagons and plows. They looked at him shrewdly.

There was early snow, and as it deepened, the pace slowed. John Narrowpath led his little group to a shelter, a wayside inn called the Flying Pig, with a good barn and as good a bar. The sign above the door indicated that the proprietor was Fiesta Rohling-Boyle. He took his wagon into the sturdy barn, unhitched his lopes, brushed the snow from their backs, and led them to a food trough and water basin. Fiesta was a jolly ample woman.

All had been tranquil until 930 AST. Sudlandt’s King Fugal IV had died, leaving his throne to his son, Fugal V. Fugal IV had been hard and trouble enough, but his son took all of his father’s worst traits and polished them until they sparkled. Grasping, unflinching, cruel, he had a temperature so low that Celsius himself could not measure it.

Dr. Hepatica Windblown was the monastery’s herbalist and an assistant to Dr. Cronkite. Tall as bamboo and lean as a reed, her nose formed a wondrous rudder. When she walked through a still room, she left a wake in the air.

One of the chairs was occupied by a man who was a stranger to Nathan. He was lean and hunched over like a rodent. He hadn’t shaved in days, leaving a wire stubble on his sallow cheeks and weak chin. His small shiny eyes glistened in the lamplight. He wore ragged clothes, and Nathan noticed that even the patches on his sleeves and knees were worn with loose multicolored threads on every one.

Willy Limpet was a small rather withered-looking middle-aged man with thin wispy hair, one who had missed out on the meaning of life completely. A widower with no children and few friends, he shuffled through each day wearing a furrow deepening in time.

Sylva Sylvaram was the one hundredth master of the Inchoate Polytechnic Institute (the Polytek) in Dolphene, capital of Nordlandt. He was tall, at least forty centimeters, stately, and immensely powerful. His was a presence such that when he entered a room, all conversation stopped and all eyes swept toward him. He had held his office for over fifty years, yet his face did not reflect the passage of time. His features were serene. His large forehead indicated his great intelligence. There was no friction in the machinery of his mind. When he moved his eyes to those of another, it was as if he could read the other’s thoughts. It would be unimaginable to lie to such a being; he would simply extract the correct answer if he willed to do so. His was a memory that never forgot; he could recall every detail of anything he had read and could quote whole passages of a conversation held years before.

For more go to www.GreatCreativity.net.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Some holiday spirit.

Crumbs for Christmas

He tickled pickles on his plate
He made burritos wet— he
Bent the lentils that he ate
And rolled in his spaghetti.

I cannot tell you why
Lord Nelson, with his singing
Made laughing gulls cry
With tales of his upbringing.

Hickory dickory dock
Three mice ran up the clock
The clock struck one
The other two ejected safely.


A Solstice Gift

  It was December 20. The chipmunks beneath the family room had three dimes to spend for Winter Solstice presents. Filbert, Hickory, and Wally (for walnut) wanted to get everyone something special. “Let’s get a barrel of pistachios,” suggested Filbert eagerly. The other two doubted that three dimes would be enough. “How about a case of peanut butter?” wondered Hickory. Wally was more practical, “Maybe we should go to Ric’s Market and price things".

  The boys didn’t realize how far away Ric’s was. They had heard Those-Who-Live-Above talk about it only taking five minutes. They started out in great spirits, each with a dime in a cheek pouch. The morning was pleasant; the air was brisk but there was a hint of snow somewhere out and about. Hickory had a fairly good sense of direction and they headed east. Morning past and so did the afternoon. “Are we there yet” was asked every couple of minutes and Hickory just gritted his teeth. Filbert became distraught when evening came, “Mom usually wants me in bed by now,” he fretted.

  They got to the market near closing time. They slipped in as a customer was leaving with a shopping cart. My, it was big in there! They scurried down each aisle, Wally looking at prices. “Way too much,” he said again and again. Finally he spotted something. Something wonderful. “There it is! PEANUTS!! By the pound. He did some figuring and concluded that each could take two cheekfulls. He left the dimes where the clerk would find them, and out they slipped.

  They were tired but determined. They headed west. On and on. It started to snow. A bit at first, but it increased as they continued. Crossing the street was dangerous, they knew, so were extra careful. A passing car flung slush on Hickory’s tail. Many of the homes had holiday lights to cheer the passers-by.

  The family room was close now. Somewhere a great clock struck the hour: TEN, ELEVEN, TWELVE! Cold and wet they found the tiny entrance and squeezed in. Everyone was there. When they divided the peanuts each had two. They sang chipmunk songs, wished each other good cheer and settled in for a long winter’s nap.