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Went to a club last night, a decidely ungothy Goth club with a Fench Punk band that didn’t play. Now that’s punk. Walking home Elvira (El-vee-ta) and I met the Only Black Man in the KKK (as he styled himself, loudly). After complementing my wife’s ass, he hit me up for a buck eighty so he could get a beer. I gave him two bucks because he was friendly and honest. I don’t buy the, “I just nead a doallar so’s I can get gass,” excuse or the bus fare excuse, either. If you’re poor and a beer will help make you happy, then by all means, man. Have one on me.

Though it occured to me when we got home that I’ve run into the Only Black Member of the KKK before, in pretty much the same place, at least once before. He hit me up for beer money then too. Oh well.

There is the chance that my good natured, hedonistic altruism could backfire and what he calls beer, I call crack. It could happen, though he was way to jolly and easy going for a crack fiend. Besides, I give money to the Government and they say they’re going to spend it on education and the economy and then use it to blow off the arms of Iraqi children. Which proves only that you never know where a night out on the town with the misses will end up.

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“listen: there’s a hell of a good universe next door; let’s go”

President Gore was on the news this morning applauding the progress being made by the Iranian reformers. He called them an example to other Muslim nations, saying that the ideals of Democracy are compatible with Islam and that these people are proof of that. It’s still too early to tell yet but in a few years, who knows?

I know a lot of people have been following the case with the nineteen men who were arrested back in September, 2001 for plotting to highjack airplanes and crash them into the Pentagon, White House and World Trade Center in New York. I for one have been very interested to see what happens and it looks like they are going to get life in jail. Some people on the Right, like Governer Bush are calling for the death penalty but killing foriegn nationals, even if they are terrorists strikes me as a little barbaric; I’ve always felt that American should be an example of liberty but hay, that’s just me. Besides, they’ll be spending the rest of their lives in prison and I’m sure their future cell mates who will have a few things to say to them about their intentions and ideas.

Ever since we broke ties with the Saud’s over the highjackers (since, you know, 12 of the 19 were from Saudia Arabia) the oil crunch has been a bit rough. I think the oil companies are purposely jacking up the prices just to spite Gore and his environmentalist supporters but hay, fuck ’em. I’ll pay a buck seventy a gallon if it means we don’t buy oil from people who support terrorists who try to kill us. Besides, not having any more troops in the Middle East is a Good thing; my Sister in Law is in the Army and I for ine don’t want her or anyone else being over there just so some rich oil Barons can get cheep gas.

Also, just let me say, I’m glad NASA has gotten more funding. There were a few tense monthes there, right after the Shuttle accident when it looked like the whole depatment would be scrapped. I don’t care what anyone says, we need NASA. I mean, the benifits of the International Space station and manned Space flight in general are, litterally, astronomical. New technology, new ways to lok at the world and plus, the posative beneifts it gives to dreamers like me who have always wanted to live on the moon, who look up at night and can feel like one day soon, we’ll be up there just like Buck Rogers, that is something.

It’s good to be alive in the twenty first century.

The Wars That Never Was

As someone who grew up watching the Original Star Wars Trilogy (I triple underline the word Original, lest you think I’m referring to that lifeless mess Lucas passes off these days, the Special Edition) I can’t help but feel a little let down by the prequels. While I realize this is a waste of time, here’s how I would have plotted the story, fixing all the holes and characterization. These are merely suggestions of course. I don’t expect anyone to agree with all my changes or any of them. I fully realize that to some I’m tampering with scripture. So put a fatwa on my head and call me Salmon. I simply offer these ideas as an alternative text, maybe one that a filmmaker, fifty years from now will consider when remaking the Star Wars sextology (hopefully taking a cue from Peter Jackson).

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Qui Gon Jinn and Obiwan Kenobi arrive at the lead Trade Federation ship to negotiate an end to the embargo of Nabu. Who arrives to meet them, not an ambassador but a lowly protocol droid by the name of C3PO. Jinn suspects something is amiss immediately, as does his young Paduwan. But it’s too late. 3PO unwittingly leads the Jedi into an ambush! Lightsabers fly, battle droids fall. Haughty Knut Gunray is scared so bad he pisses himself when he sees the door glowing white hot as the Jedi carve through it. Then the Destroyer droids roll in and 3PO is stuck with the Jedi when they escape (maybe his restraining bolt is blasted off?) Anyway, when they sneak on board the transport to Nabu, Obiwan convinces Jinn that a protocol droid might come in handy so they bring him along.

This shows just how keen Obiwan’s instincts are as 3PO informs them about the disenfranchised Gungans who live under water. Deciding to enlist their aide, Kenobi and Jinn don their masks and head for the underwater city but not before Jinn sends 3PO ahead to Theed with a coded message for Amidalla, informing her of what has transpired.

Upon entering the underwater city, Jinn and Kenobi are captured by Gungan warriors, led by the noble Son of the Chief, Jar Jar Binks. (The Gungans by the way are a proud race of poets and warriors, more of a cross between Sufi and the newts from Karl Capek’s book, War with the Newts). Binks takes them before the council of elders, led by his father who is none too pleased by his son?s refusal to kill these outsiders out right. But Binks argues that they are Jedi and thus are trustworthy and may be able to help the Gungans. Binks is obviously not in line with his father’s isolationist ideals and is looking for a righteous fight. When The Jedi cannot reason with the council and sway them to their cause, Jinn uses his mind trick on their feeble leader to get transport to the city. Binks volunteers his services to guide them through a shortcut that most other Gungans fear to use because it is guarded by a sea monster. Once reaching the city, Binks says farewell and wishes them luck and maybe a word of folk wisdom as advice.

As the Trade Federation take orders from Darth Sidius, 3PO reaches the gates of Theed and makes it past the battle droids because they recognize him. But 3PO has a momentary crisis of conscious: he has to lie to the droids to get them to let him pass. He makes it into the Queen’s room and apprises her of the situation and Master Jinn?s eminent arrival. Slightly impatient, Amadalla curses under her breath, something about Jedi always being on their own schedules. Cue loud explosion. Everyone rushes to the window.

Cut to the courtyard where the two Jedi are making scrap out of a garrison of battle droids. They free the pilots and the Queen and escape in her ship, which is damaged by the Trade Federation ships. C3P0 meets R2D2 when he is the only astromech droid to survive the firefight. 3P0 has to suffer the indignity of cleaning him up.

Jinn decides to land on Tatooine and haggle for the necessary parts to fix their engine. There they meet Anakin Skywalker, age 16 and his mother, Schmi who run a family owned salvage shop. Schmi and Jinn seem to recognize one another while they negotiate for parts. Schmi is about to just give them the parts for whatever money they have when in walks Wattu, the landlord. He works for Jabba the Hutt and is here to collect the rent and Schmi?s monthly installment of her Fathers extensive gambling debts to Jabba (who we find out killed her father and is extorting the money he owed Jabba at a hundred percent interest, meaning she will never pay it off). Thus, Schmi cannot afford to sell the engine parts for a song and some Jedi proverbs, not that Jinn would let her, seeing what a bind she is in.

Meanwhile, Anakin flirts with the Queen. Anakin is a smooth talking, charismatic and impetuous young man, (reminiscent of a young Han Solo) who has made a bit of a name for himself in the pod races. Schmi is afraid he?ll end up like his grandfather, falling in with a bad crowd or worse, smelted by a fatal pod race. If only his father hadn?t run off?

As it turns out, Jinn is Anakin’s father. We find this out during the sand storm when they all hide out in the Skywalker house (where Anakin shows off his mechanical dabbling to 3PO and Kenobi while R2 fixes them all dinner). It turns out Jinn met Schmi while on a mission to Tatooine 16 years earlier. They had one passionate night before he had to leave on secret Jedi business. But now that he’s back, he wants to help her and teach his long lost and heretofore unknown son how to be a good man, and maybe a Jedi. Obiwan obviously doesn’t like this idea claiming that Anakin is too old to start the training. And also because he’s jealous.

They decide to help solve all their problems by riding a long shot on Anakin in the Bunta Eve pod race. He of course wins, but only narrowly by using his instincts and some Jedi advice to overcome the cheating of a rival pod racer, Sebulba. Wattu, who was challenged by Jinn on a side bet to drop the debt to Jabba if the kid won, tries to squirm out of the deal. In walks one of Jabba?s henchthings and claps Wattu on the shoulder, whispering in his ear that Jabba wants to have a word with him.

Now that Schmi is free of her father’s debt and the Jedi have the necessary parts, they’ll leave. Jinn offers to take Anakin with him to Corescant. He jumps at the opportunity, even though he feels bad about leaving his mother. She tells him that he needs to go, to start his own life and fulfill his destiny.

On the way back to the ship Darth Maul engages Jinn and Kenobi in a double duel of both light sabers and words (maybe he could recite a Sith Hymn in praise of the bestial power of rage, and wroth poetic like Ricardo Mauntaban?s Kahn).

After narrowly escaping the Sith, they return to Corescant and present their findings before the Jedi Council. Jinn proposes to Yoda that he teach Anakin. There’s a brief argument between Jinn and Kenobi, left unresolved. Anakin and Amadala have a quiet moment alone, almost but not quite making an emotional connection. Kenobi interrupts them before they can kiss, informing them that they are to return to Nabu. While en route, they discuss possible strategies. Anakin hits on the idea of enlisting the help of the Gungans, whom he heard Jinn Talking to Obiwan about earlier. There is some doubt as to the sense in this but Anakin manages to talk them all into it.

They arrive at the Gungan temple and try to enlist their aide but the elders are still waffling. This is where Jar Jar Binks steps in and passionately argues that they cannot sit by idle while the rest of the planet fights for its safety. His father grudgingly agrees to the pact when Amadala steps forward and on bended knee, asks for their help.

Binks leads the Gungans and the Nabu security guards in a battle against the droid army. The battle begins with just the Nabu security forces facing off against the Droid army. They pretend to fall back, leading the battle droids out of the fields where they have the advantage and into the swamp. There, the Gungans ambush the battle droids, fighting in their element, Guerilla warfare style. Picture sinewy, black figures rising from the murk of the swamp like an army of Navy seals, only there are thousands of them. They drop bombs from the trees and sneak up behind the droids, severing heads with knives and hanging them from the trees with nooses made from vines. It is a gruesome battle, with swords and energy catapults and droids being mauled by nearly rabid Gungan warriors.

Meanwhile, Anakin leads the pilots on a sneak attack of the Lead Trade Federation ship to capture Knut Gunray. Anakin rushes in with the captured Trade federation leader just in time. The Battle droids, what’s left of them, are called off and so is the blockade.

In the city of Theed, Jinn and Kenobi track down Darth Maul. Maul kills Jinn but escapes, leaving Kenobi frustrated and angry, wanting revenge, despite all his Jedi training.

After this, he agrees to teach Anakin in honor of Jinn?s wishes. Yoda gives in but with reservations that he shares with Mace Windu, fearing that Kenobi?s unresolved feelings will taint the pupil.

A celebratory party is held at the palace in Theed. Amadala is too busy for Anakin as she is being shuffled around to shake hands with ambassadors. He’s miffed. A hand falls reassuringly on his shoulder. Anakin turns around to find that it is not Kenobi as he expected but Senator Palpitane, who introduces himself to Anakin and leaves off with an ominous remark about how much potential he shows as a Jedi.

***

Episode II: The Clone Wars

Ten years later. After an attempt on Senator Amadala’s life, The Jedi council assigns Master Kenobi and his Paduwan, Anakin to protect her. When Anakin shows up, he blows Amadala away. No longer is he just a brash kid but a smooth, cool-as-a-Summer-on-Hoth stud. But he does have a brooding aura about him, sort of like a Goth Jedi. Right away he’s working the Force on Amadala, much to Kenobi?s disappointment. Several times the Master has to break the two of them apart.

This is Anakin as a young man: a total Jedi bad ass, capable of doing what other Jedi do, without breaking a sweet. His superpower, besides being handy with anything mechanical is the fact that he can talk anybody into doing anything he wants. Anything.

Kenobi chides his young apprentice that night for his forward actions while they keep a watch on Amadala’s door, reminding him that a Jedi is stayed, calm, and collected. Anakin, instead of throwing a hissy fit for being chewed out by his master, spins Kenobi’s words and with a slightly ironic twist, turns them back on him. The argument is left unfinished when they both feel that something is wrong and rush into Amadala’s room in time to squish the giant centipedes and jump out the window after the bounty hunter.

Cue car chase through Corescant by night.

They trail the shape shifting bounty hunter to a bar. Obiwan buys Anakin a drink to calm him down. They catch the bounty hunter off guard, drag her outside only to have her killed by poison dart before she can give up the goods. Back at his hideout, Jango Fett reports to Darth Maul that there has been a slight snag in their plans.

Looking for clues, Kenobi visits his friend and finds out that the poisonous dart could only have come from one place, a little known world out beyond the rim. Kenobi goes to the Library but he can’t find the holocron he’s looking for and visits master Yoda whose pupils help him find the missing planet.

Obiwan sets off to visit the clone factory and fight Jango Fett.

Meanwhile Anakin escorts Amadala back to Nabu (with a stern warning from Kenobi to behave himself). Anakin plays it smooth on Nabu, turning Amadala’s summer palace into their own little love nest, much to 3PO and R2’s dismay and against their warnings. After seducing Amadala into bed, Anakin wakes from a nightmare about his mother. He then convinces Amadala to go with him to Tatooine.

Meanwhile, on Corescant, Ambassador Jar Jar Binks who has taken over for Amadalla while she is away, is strong armed into giving up the republic by a selection of Dark Side-friendly senators. Palpatine shakes his hand with a smile.

As soon as Anakin and Amadalla arrive on Tatooine, they rush to the family store to find Wattu (minus a few fingers) as the new proprietor. Anakin browbeats him into giving up Schmi’s last known whereabouts (he was going to charge them but Anakin gets it out of him for free): after Anakin left, Schmi met a moisture farmer named Lars and sold Wattu the shop. Wattu then makes a vague apology, saying that Schmi was really a good woman and that it was a shame what happened to her. Neither Amadala nor Anakin know just what he is getting at.

At the Lars family farm they meet Anakin’s new stepfather and his step- brother, Owen (and his girlfriend Baru) and learn of his mothers capture by the Sand people. Baru and Owen welcome Amadala in while Anakin goes off to find his mom. His new stepfather warns him not to get his hopes up and at the first sign of sand people, to hurry back.

When Anakin finds his Mother in the hut, tortured and bleeding to death he looses it. But he doesnt explode with rage. Anakin is detached from his emotions. Always calm and collected. This is where we get the first hint of Darth Vadar, the man who chokes admirals from a distance while casually planning a ground invasion. You see it in Anakin’s eyes, this is the guy who will one day boss Boba Fett around, reminding him not to disintegrate his prey this time.

Anakin steps out of the hut and methodically slaughters every living thing that comes within reach of his lightsaber. He betrays no emotion on his face as he goes about his gruesome business and when he’s done he simply walks away. He doesn’t go home and bawl his eyes out to Amadala. He never says a word.

Cut to Mace Windu waking from his meditation with the cold sweets. He runs out to find Yoda and they say nothing, merely exchange sad looks.

After burying Schmi on the farm, Anakin and Amadala set off for Nabu. Anakin calmly and almost lightheartedly broaches the subject of marriage. Amadala is unsure of the prospect as his duty to the Jedi forbids love and her responsibilities, as an ambassador requires her to maintain a professional sense of respectability. Everything they are working for would be undermined if she were to just run off and marry a Jedi. But Anakin almost has her convinced when they get the garbled message from Kenobi for help. They relay the message back to the Jedi council and set off to rescue Kenobi who in the meantime has been captured by Count Dooku.

Kenobi is startled to discover that Dooku, former Jedi and leader of the Separatists has as his right hand man none other then Darth Maul. Kenobi tries to reason with Count Dooku but the Count is clouded by idealism and Darth Sidious’s influence. He thinks the Jedi have been led astray and are in cahoots with the Sith. He?s all turned around and confused, and Kenobi realizes this is Maul’s doing.

Anakin, Amadala and the droids arrive and fight gallantly to free Kenobi but are captured and sentenced to the Ring of Death by the Insect King. As they are chained to the pillars, Amadala agrees to marry Anakin (she simply tells him the answer is yes, so Kenobi won’t know). Cue Jedi in the stands. Battle royal with droids, monsters and insects. The clone soldiers arrive, with Yoda at the lead in time to route the battle. Mace Windu takes of Jango Fett’s head. It is retrieved by a young and very pissed off Boba Fett.

Darth Maul battles Anakin and Kenobi. Kenobi is about to give into his desire for revenge but stops just short of killing Darth Maul. Anakin steps in and does it, almost as an after thought. Dooku then steps in and takes on both Jedi single handedly, taking off Anakin’s arm in the process. Yoda arrives and much ass is kicked. Dooku escapes to deliver the plans for the Death Star to Sidious and begins to realize that Maul and Sidius have been leading him to the Dark Side.

Yoda and Windu discuss briefly how the Dark side is growing as the clone soldiers board the star ships and take off. The rest of the Jedi are morose, except for Anakin who tells Kenobi about how he thinks Palpitane will be just what the Galaxy needs to restore order. They exchange cold words and Anakin walks away from the Jedi. Amadala, wearing a hood and robe to conceal her identity, meets him and together they run off, hand in mechanical hand to their secret wedding.

***

Episode III: Revenge of The Sith

Five years later. The clone wars are coming to a close. With Count Dooku dead, the separatists have splintered into numerous factions, most of which have already been wrangled back into the republic. Only a few remain but they are scattered and disorganized. The Jedi have been reluctantly leading the battles but there is disunity among the Jedi Knights for the first time in a thousand years.

At the coronation of Emperor Palpitane, word reaches the Jedi council that a number of Jedi Knights have turned up dead. This is part of a disturbing trend of Jedi deaths, many of which leave little evidence behind as their bodies are often disintegrated. Kenobi and Windu are assigned by Yoda to undertake a secret mission of the utmost importance: find the Sith who are killing the Jedi.

Palpitane makes several sweeping decrees during his coronation speech, the most shocking of which is to appoint Anakin Skywalker as supreme Commander of the Imperial Forces, over many older and more respected Jedi. Anakin is of course pleased and a little smug. Later he throws it in Kenobi’s face. Anakin accuses his former master of being a traitor, saying that he has grown soft and maybe secretly sympathizes with these rebellious splinter groups. Kenobi tries to reason with Anakin but realizes, to his horror that Anakin has taken on many of the same personality traits that he spotted in Count Dooku: paranoia, distrust and a confused sense of loyalty.

Amadala is very pregnant. Ambassador Binks visits her chambers but she senses that he is there for more then simply a visit, that he feels very much responsible for the state of the Galaxy. She tells him that no one person can bear the weight of the entire Galaxy on their shoulders but Binks, ever the proud Gungan, says that yes, one-person can and will. He leaves, fingering a knife thoughtfully.

Anakin is secretly organizing the hunting of Jedi that he and the Emperor deem traitorous. To keep their hands clean, the actual killing is done by an assortment of the most vile bounty hunters that Anakin can find. The star of this Jedi hunting squad is none other then a young Bobba Fett. This fact is discovered by Jar Jar Binks when he comes to confront Anakin. Enraged, he attacks Anakin but of curse he’s no match for him. Before Binks can even raise his knife, Anakin chokes him with his force power. Binks drops the knife and falls dead.

Count Dooku, present through this whole display is suddenly jarred to his senses. Everything becomes clear to him now and he makes a vane attempt to alert the Jedi Counsel of Anakin’s trickery. But Anakin catches him before he reaches Yoda’s chambers and takes him before Darth sidious. Dooku finally realizes he has been duped by Sidious and led to the Dark side. While the Emperor watches on, laughing, Count Dooku allows himself to be killed by Anakin (in the same manner that Kenobi does in A New Hope).

Amadalla gives birth to twins. Kenobi and Yoda arrive just in time to witness the event. But mother and babies have little time together. At a gesture from Yoda, Obiwan takes baby Luke and runs off. Amadala knew this would happen and Yoda tries to comfort her as best as he can. She tells Obiwan not to tell her ever where the boy is so that she cannot lie to Anakin.

Just as Kenobi leaves by a secret exit, Anakin arrives. He is overjoyed to see his new daughter but senses something is amiss. Yoda plays with the baby and dismisses Anakin’s suspicions. Anakin gives Yoda a dirty look and rushes out to satisfy his curiosity.

Yoda and Senator Bale Organa have a secret meeting to discuss the fate of the twins and the rumors of this new weapon that the Emperor is devising. Organa rushes off to alert his secret contacts on the remaining Separatist worlds of their new plans. The Rebellion is born.

Kenobi and Windu are ambushed at the space port on Corescant by bounty hunters but manage to narrowly escape with baby Luke. The hunters don’t know about the baby. They are simply there to kill the Jedi, a point noted to Windu by Kenobi as they blast their way out of Corescant orbit. Fast on their trail is a brand spanking new Star Destroyer and unbeknownst to anyone, Bobba Fett in Slave I. They manage to elude the star Destroyer but not Fett.

Bobba Fett confronts Windu in a cantina in Mos Iesley. While he acts as a diversion, Kenobi delivers baby Luke to the Lars farm. Owen and his wife Baru agree to raise the child but Owen has some choice words for Kenobi about the recklessness of Jedi and their dangerous lifestyle. Kenobi instead of putting up a fight, agrees.

Meanwhile, Fett and Windu are dueling and through dirty pool, Fett strikes down Windu with a Jedi Lightsaber. Fett surmises that Kenobi must have already skipped out, as he saw him climb aboard a transport earlier. He did not see Kenobi sneak off the ship though. Fett leaves Tatooine to report back to Anakin. In rushes Kenobi in time to find out from Windu’s dying words what has happened. Kenobi rushes off, trailing Fett to the volcanic world where the Death Star is under construction.

Amadala and Senetor Organa, on their way to Alderan with baby Leia are harassed by the Emperor’s newly appointed secret police, the Storm Troopers as they try to board the senator’s ship. Yoda shows up just in the nick of time to cloud the storm Trooper’s minds and let them pass. Yoda gives them some words of advice and encouragement. Amadala wishes that she could have seen Anakin one last time as she wants to say goodbye. Bale Organa tells her that Anakin is no longer the man she loved, he’s been changed by the emperor and that there are others who will help her now. You can tell that Bale genuinely cares for Amadala, maybe even loves her but she can’t deal with this now and instead, quietly boards the ship with her infant daughter.

As Yoda is leaving, Anakin steps out of the shadows and the two have words. Yoda gives Anakin one last chance to turn back from the Dark side but Anakin won?t hear it. He informs Master Yoda that the Jedi are dead and he is just a ghost now and then, mysteriously leaves without another word.

Kenobi tracks Fett to the control center of the construction facility, high atop an active volcano only to discover that it is a trap set by Anakin. Anakin dismisses Fett who doesn’t like being dismissed and comments to this effect but steps aside anyway. Kenobi and Anakin face off over the volcanic crater, which is being used as a foundry to build the Death Star. They finally air all their grievances. Kenobi manages to do so without giving into his anger. He lets it wash over him and offers Anakin one last chance to save himself. Anakin does not see that he needs saving and accuses Kenobi of being the one led astray by archaic traditions and an unfortunate sense of nostalgia for the now deceased Republic. Kenobi tells him he is no longer a Jedi but is now a Sith and they duel.

This is the duel to end them all. Force tricks, blazing sabers, all over a smoldering pit of lava and molten steal. Just as Kenobi is about to fall to Anakin, he delves into the last reserves of his strength, fends off Anakin’s saber attack and severs Anakin’s hand. Anakin looses his balance and topples over the edge but manages to grab a hold of a rock ledge with his cyborg hand. Kenobi reaches out to save him but instead Anakin lets himself fall into the volcano foundry. He is rescued from the slag pit by storm troopers who rush him to the infirmary.

Obiwan and Yoda meet on a Rebellion ship and Obiwan tells him what happened with Anakin. They make their final arrangements and then Yoda is dropped off on Degobah by Kenobi who then returns to Tatooine to watch over Luke from a distance.

Anakin, now mostly cyborg appears before the Emperor as the Darth Vader we have all come to know and love. He tells him that all the Jedi are at last finally dead. The Emperor gives a little speech about the cycle of the Force, how all things corrupt will fall before the grandeur of perfect order and that finally the corrupt Republic will give way to an eternal Empire.

*****

A few other suggestions:

Names. I’m a big fan of Appellation symbolism; where character’s names represent their personality traits. Judging from the first three Star Wars films, one would get the impression that George Lucas was too, at one time. (come on, a loner with the name Solo?) But what’s with all these characters with sci-fi gibberish names like Jar Jar and Dooku? Did Lucus hire kindergarteners as his consulting staff? And why is Dooku a Count? How does this further the story at all? It doesn’t. The fact that he’s a rogue Jedi is enough and he should have a name that reflects that. Maybe something along the lines of Devo Drak. As for Jar Jar Binks, any name would be better. Following the above revision of his character from bumbling, kid friendly fool to tragic noble martyr, I’d call him Ibn Kalil, to reflect the Muslim poet. But that’s just me. I’m all about allusion to source material (once again, Lucus used to be as well. Anyone else remember the three guards from Jabba’s Palace named Klattu, Barata and Nikto?). And while we’re talking about allusions, Schmi Skywalker is obviously a mother archetype, just go for the gold; Miriam Skywalker sounds better anyway.

Casting. When it comes to movies, the actors really need to fit their parts. Hayden Christenson, as far as I can tell, couldn’t act his way out of a Death star Detention Block. He’s just not Anakin. Jude Law is Anakin. Any other young actor could be as well. And while I admire Liam Neason as an actor, he never really gave much life to Jinn’s character. This is a radical departure here but given the fact that his name is obviously derived from Chinese, why not go that route? That’s right. Jacki Chan as Qui Gon Jinn. Tell me you don’t want to see him flipping around the screen with a lightsaber in one hand and a folding chair in the other. I dare you. If there’s any man on earth who actually has force powers it’s Mr. Chan. Just picture him and Ray Parks? as Darth Maul, dueling with lightsabers.

Dialogue. Some of the dialogue in these films could only be stiffer if it were carved out of wood. I know, Lucus took the old Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon Serials as his inspiration. I too love those serials and yes, some of the dialogue in them sounds like a four-fingered baboon wrote it with a broken typewriter. But come on! Audiences expect a little more naturalistic dialogue then some of the stiff little gems in Star Wars. Power converters be damned!

So there?s my Star Wars Revision. Pedantic? Yes. Fan boyish? Oh, you betcha. You see, I grew up watching Star Wars. I love science Fiction and it simply pains me to see something with such potential go to waste. Plus, for any of those would be writers out there, replotting a poorly conceived movie or book is a good exercise in stretching the imagination and working on those plotting skills.

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For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking about that silly new Jim Carry Movie, Bruce Almighty. If I were given the omnipotence of God, sure I might enlarge my girlfriends boobs and teetch my dog to use the toilet. On the first day. But then I’d start using some creativity.

Now, as I understand the premis, the only thing Bruce can’t do with God’s power is contrevene Free Will. But there are a lot of ways around this. First off, why not alter the chemical composition of gun powder so that it doesn’t explode? It wouldn’t generate world peace but it would simply make killing people harder, or at the very least bring swords back into fashion. Do the same to Nuclear bombs– add a neutron to every molocule of Plutonium so that it is no longer radioactive. No more nukes or nuclear power. Turn coal into rock candy and petroleum into chocolate syrup; or at least the geological equivelant. Then, appear in the dreams of scientists and help them dream up ways to make solar energy more eficient. Alter the formula of coke-a-cola in a subtle way so that it cures cancer; Dr. Pepper could be the AIDS vacine.

If I can come up with these ideas why can’t other writers? Is Charlie Kaufman the only writer with any imagination in Hollywood these days or are they all hiding out, plotting a filmic revolution that will blow our minds? Don’t get me wrong, I loved X2. As my good frined Mr. Jason Love said, it was the X-men movie he’d been waiting fifteen years to see. I have to agree. I seem to be one of the few people who liked Matrix: Reloaded. I hear there are some pretty cool movies coming up, but I’ll believe it when I see it. I really want Ang Lee to knock me down and stand me back up again with Hulk, but I don’t know, it looks kinda iffy. And frankly, November can’t get here soon enough; I wan tto see the Return of the King yesterday.

But seriously, people, if you’ve got a ripe idea like giving a mortal the powers of God, why drop the ball and make a piece of crap like Bruce Almighty? I mean, did a demon creep into your ear and say,”Hay! Make it a goofy comedy with Jim Carry!”???

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I just did a Google search for “The Invisible Library.” Got 752 sites. Which just goes to show that when you are going to title something and you want it to be unique, you need to do research BEFORE you name it. Though one of the other Invisible Libraries out there is a catalogue of imaginary books that apear in real books (like the Necronomicon in the works of Lovecraft). It’s pretty spiffy.

I’ve been fascinated by these meta-books for some time, ever since I first encountered the Necronomicon in Lovecraft’s stories. Borges has practically a whole Library of imaginary books in his stories which inspired me to add a few imaginary tomes to my novel. I think the appeal of this literary device is the ability to give the reader a bit of exposition that doesn’t feel like exposition. There’s nothing worse then when charactersin a book start explaining things to each other for the obvious benefit of the reader because no matter how well it is written it still feels like at the end the character should turn to the reader and say, “Did you get all that? Because I’m not going over it again.”

Another use of the meta-book idea is to give a sort of cracked mirror view of the story itself. I use this in “The Tragic Circus” in which there is a book purchased by Simon entitled “The Tragic Circus” which is about a wolf headed boy who joins the circus and has all sorts of wonderful adventures before dieing in a horrible fire. It alows me to make foreshadows and illistrate some of the themes in, what I think is a clever way. One of the best uses of this is by Kurt Vonnegut in Breakfast of Champions, in which Kilgore Trout (who is one of the greatest, most cranky imaginary authors ever) coments on everything through some really bizare Science Fiction stories, all of which for some reason are published in porno magazines.

Speaking of porn, over at suicidegirls.com they have some really amazing short stories by Barry Yourgrau, and others and interviews with Ewan MacGregor, Johnen Vasquez and other fun people. Also, they have nauty pictures of cute Goth girls. What could be better?

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The Tragic Circus

part two:

After retiring to bed at dawn, most everyone sleeps in late the next morning. Everyone but Soren. Nine strikes on the Norwegian Grandfather Clock in the living room (shaking awake the carved trolls lurking in the wooden corners, eliciting a hiss from the World Serpent encircling the clock face, tail in mouth) and Soren knocks softly on his nephew?s door. When no answer is forthcoming he pushes the door ajar. Peering in he discovers what he suspected, books and cloths strewn about, various odd paintings, a number of them by Lady Saturnine, framed and set on the walls in bunches, like surreal bouquet?s. Soren scrutinizes a particular lithograph of Don Quixote, signed by Salvador Dali (one of thousands, mass produced by the printer who had Dali sign the lithograph plate, backwards). He compares the infamous tilter of windmills to his nephew curled up in the middle of a great old creaking bed and finds the verisimilitude astounding. Add a Spanish goatee and a romantic fixation for a prostitute and here sleeps the Man of La Mancha, wearing a pillow for a helmet.

“Does your father know about this mess” Soren asks by way of announcing his presence. “You know how he likes to keep his castle ship-shape…”

Simon does not stir. Which is not unusual as it often takes great measures to rouse Simon, on the order of matches lit between his toes and cold glasses of water splashed on his face. But Uncle Soren is experienced at rousing the dead. He starts by nudging Simon in the ribs with his elbow. Nothing.

“Wake up you!” He shouts and bites him hard, on the arm. Simon bolts awake, rubbing his bleary eyes and a hand through his rooster hair, which is even more tousled then usual.

“Oh. Morning. Or is it afternoon” Simon looks around, tries to determine by the angle of light creeping in through the curtains just what part of the day he has found himself in. He wraps a sheet around his waist and dislodges himself from the disarray of the bed sheets, stumbling into the more general disarray of his room.

“It’s still morning but not by much.” Soren grins. “Come on you slothful slouch! We’ve got a busy day ahead of us!” He winks and then exits, shutting the door behind him.

A short shower and a shave later, Simon, now dressed in black T-shirt and checkered pants and someone’s letterman sweater he found in a vintage clothing store, descends the stairs to find Soren and Lilly waiting for him in the Fourier.

“Promptness is a virtue,” chides Lilly, fingering the oversized silver crucifix dangling between her young breasts. Today, she wears one of her less dramatic black dresses, knee high boots and a pair of black fishnet gloves, the fingers of which have all been torn out by her long nails, painted black.

Ignoring his sister, Simon asks, “So, what are we doing today?”

Uncle Soren answers by wiggling his eyebrows. He then escorts them out the kitchen door to their first stop, an old oak in the back yard.

The tree stands, gnarled and at an angle on the edge of a spacious garden. Simon had climbed that tree a thousand times as a child and lost his virginity one summer night in its shadow.

It had been one of those late July nights when the air hangs like perfumed curtains, stifling what little breeze manages to slip past the shore. The kind of night when fireflies wink at the moon. Simon had just turned fifteen and was courting, secretly and despite all reason, Fatima El Shahezred the youngest of the thirteen daughters of the Ambassador from Eschnapur. Fatima was a girl Simon’s age though you wouldn’t know it by looking at her, attired as most Muslim women from the Middle East in a traditional burka. She could just as easily have been thirty as thirteen. Covered from head to foot in a stylish midnight blue, it was her dark eyes, like two ripe figs that Simon fell in love with. And her hips, like a Genie’s who had swallowed the moon and wore the weight like a talisman around her pelvis. That night he had read from Baudelaire’s Le Fleur de Mar to Fatima under the tree until she couldn’t stand the heat any longer and peeled off her veil.

Frederick and the Ambassador found them, at their most glorious moment, stark naked except for a shadow that fell across them like a blanket tossed askew, cast by the street lamp against this very oak tree. In Simon’s opinion this is one of the reasons for the current chilly state of affairs between The U.S. and the kingdom of Eschnapur.

Today, Christmas lights droop like an electric clothesline from the eves of the house to the leaves of the tree. Several clocks, all set at different times hang from a number of the branches while the largest limb, the one that reaches over the center of the yard, bears a Chinese paper lantern. Soren strolls up to the tree, walks around it three times tugging on his beard.

“Yes, I think this is the one!” He pauses on his third rotation at a small hollow in the trunk and plunges his hand inside, headless of rabid squirrels, garden snakes and what ever else might lurk inside. He’s up to his elbow before he shouts, “Ahah!”

Simon winces and Lilly holds her breath as he maneuvers his arm out of the tree. Expecting a bare and bloody stump with an albino hairless mole gnawing on the end they are surprised to find instead Soren holding by its slender neck a bottle of whiskey.

Next stop is the end of a back alley, just behind the cathedral of Saint Thomas. Soren leads Simon and Lilly, holding her parasol erect, through the overgrown cemetery where ferns and aloe growing on the graves obscure some names and important dates while others are simply worn away by years of wind and rain. They pause briefly at the back of the cemetery by a wrought iron gate. Simon notices a freshly hewn headstone in the corner, bare of the pertinent names and dates. But before he can imagine whose life it will sum up, Soren pushes open the ivy -festooned gate (which whines a feeble protest) and leads them down a side lane. Here they find a disused square where once slaves and cattle were sold.

Today the square is in use for a more whimsical trade. Under the old oaks gather snake handlers, Gypsies, jugglers and a wondering band of mariachis who fill the lanes with a southwestern twang reminiscent of cilantro, cumin, tequila, sunlight and pi�atas. Before long the last troop of Carnival Freaks in the Western World march and caper into the square: tiny blue pygmies, a nine foot tall adolescent named Sven with a pipsqueak voice and a vocabulary made up entirely of bawdy limericks, Mr. Cyclops, Georgiana the hermaphrodite, Siamese triplets named August, Dieter and Stephan who are experts at throwing axes, Gilberto the Brass Man, The Mysterious Dragon Lady, a trio of polka dot-tattooed clowns and Cosmo the Magician looking dramatic as always in a top hat and red velvet lined cape leading the way, limping slightly with his lame knee and aided by an ostentatious cane, the head of which resembles a rearing cobra in silver. They slouch up to the courtyard where they unfold a canvas covered set tucked in the back of their truck. A huge banner is hoisted into the air, propped up on poles. It reads:

The Dangling Brothers
Traveling Side Show and Cosmic Emporium
Present:
Beauty and the Beast

Soren walks up to Cosmo and gives the man a great bear hug. They talk at length, about what, neither Simon nor Lilly have any idea but whatever the discussion it must have been important as Soren returns without his bottle of whiskey. Shortly thereafter, Cosmo hobbles onto the rickety stage to announce the start of the performance.

“Gentleman and Gentler ladies! Pursuers of the arcane and acolytes of the Secret Wonders, welcome to the Dangling Brothers Side Show and Cosmic Emporium!” Cosmo twirls his handlebar mustache, adding emphasis to his bombastic preamble in all the right places. “But what’s this you say?” He cups a white-gloved hand to his ear. “You say there’s no such thing as wonder left in this Sordid Old World? Well, then you?ve come to the right place to be proven Joyously Wrong!”

“Met him and his family in Prague, just after the Velvet revolution,” Elaborates Soren in a stage whisper to his niece and nephew. “Loveliest bunch of people I’ve ever met! Except for you two, of course!”

Simon asks, “Uncle Soren, how did you know about this place?”

“Oh I rode into town with yonder sideshow, hence the bottle of whisky. I was paying for my fair. As for the market, that’s a secret. Mind you, they don’t except money or travelers checks or credit cards here. Only exchange goods and services for goods and services. Barter only.” Soren opens his coat pocket, revealing several pieces of the Family silverware, a length of string, a combination bottle opener and corkscrew, three pens, Simon’s grandfather’s old pipe, a ceramic monkey from the mantle over the fireplace and a hand full of batteries, various sizes.

They stay to watch the show, giggling with the crowd made up mostly of homeless people, migrant workers who found none today (to their great pleasure) and a few lucky college students form the art school over in Knobville, who will for once have something interesting to talk abut at the caf� tonight. Especially when the get to the part about the dwarves who juggle an antique tea setting, three lighted candelabras and a poodle. After the clowns take their short bows, Georgiana the hermaphrodite plays the part of the Beast in a sable fur mask while the tattooed lady as Belle, illustrate the forbidden lovers consummating their affection in anatomical detail.

Afterwards the Said trio peruses the unexpected realm of commerce in mysteries.

“Tongues! Tongues for sale!” A stout woman yells in Simon’s ear. “Whisper sweet nothings for a small price! Good between two slices of bread! Can never go wrong with a spare tongue!”

Under a canopied table an old man sells keys of all shapes and sizes, some made to fit into hearts while others fit only doors that no longer exist or never were in the first place.

Simon stops to peruse a booth stuffed full of prosthetic body parts of all shapes, sizes and verities: gilded feet and brass knuckles, eyes made of glass and alabaster toes. A stunning pair of articulated silver plated hands catch Simon’s eye. He strokes his chin and does some mental arithmetic. At the next booth, a purveyor of fine superstitions is set on selling Lilly a broken mirror. She is more interested, however in his black kitten who crawls backwards behind a spare toilet in the corner, hissing.

At a booksellers cart, Simon rifles through an old steamer trunk full of lost and unknown classics. Most are in poor condition and unreadable either because of time, decrepitude or poor usage of illegible fonts. However, there is one that catches Simon’s eye, a small clothbound novella entitled The Tragic Circus. Opening to the first page he reads the first line, his tried and true method of testing the literary quality of any book. He is not disappointed as chapter one starts:

On August 30th, 1921, in the town of Avignon, France was born a boy with the head of a wolf.

The Tragic Circus chronicles the life of this wolf headed boy, Pierre Le Chen. His parents, who are the worst sort of superstitious and ill-mannered bumpkins inform the local paper that their son died after only five days when in fact they sold the infant Pierre to a passing Carnival Side Show for a pair of hens. The Bearded Lady raises him as her own son and teaches him the value of the human spirit, no matter in what shape it manifests.

Meanwhile his natural parents go on to have a gaggle of normal children, all of who die tragic deaths before the age of eighteen, some by childhood maladies common to the period, others by accidents of an unusual nature. Like second born Bertrand, running afoul of Pablo Picasso who challenges the poor boy to a duel by Absinth. The only child who lives to see adulthood is their youngest, Charles, who is retarded and must remain in their care well into his forties, making it impossible for them to ever retire or be happy ever again.

A Teenaged Pierre has a series of adventures, each more sublime and fabulous than the next, including a romance with Isabel the painted Lady, who gives him an intimate tour of her full body tattoo. Then there is the ingenious duel of wits against three Nazi naturalists who have come to capture Pierre for display in Der Feurer’s private zoo. After escaping the Nazi Naturalists, Pierre joins the Resistance, helping sabotage bridges and delivering Albert Camus? underground newspaper. Pierre becomes something of a folk legend to the people of France who refer to him as Le Chen Noir, The Black Dog who seems to be everywhere and nowhere, sapping roads and gladdening the hearts of children and adults alike with his acrobatic routine. To the Nazis however, he is Der Kr�nkenw�lfe, just some abominable Jewish subversion.

The author, Kevin Kaiser, who, according to the about-the-author note on the last page was a librarian and founding member of the short lived and often ignored neo-Fabulist school, delights in details of the Anarchism of Circus life, full of communal participation in the joys and tragedies of a life lived on the fringes of society.

A bittersweet, melancholic flavor asserts itself throughout the story but it achieves an almost palpable presence towards the end when Pierre, who has fallen in love with Anne Nagas, daughter of a famous Parisian bicycle enthusiast, discovers that the girl thinks him a grotesque amusement and was merely feigning affection for him. In spite of her betrayal, Pierre saves her from the machinations of a mad Priest (who was secretly a Nazi sympathizer) named Father Emanuel Basquiet who, through a circuitous and questionable bit of metaphysics, decides that the best way to get the wayward Parisians back into the Cathedrals is by putting the fear of God into them. He does this by setting fire to the Circus Folk whom he regards as the Henchmen of Satan. Pierre dies saving both the callow girl and his adopted family from an unholy conflagration on the west bank of the Seine and is swept away by the unforgiving river.

The part of the story though that really shakes Simon’s spine is when Pierre the wolf headed young man befriends an aging poet named Sim�n Voulezvou who has the most glorious speech in the whole book about how the most important thing in life is not duty to family, country or ideology but to find that which makes you happy above all else and pursue it unto death. And also, the best way to live one’s life is in accordance with classical wisdom: to eat, drink and be merry for we all soon will die.

Simon promptly exchanges one of his favorite poems for the book:

Galileo’s Telescope

Never much of a friend
To Old Occam and his Magic Razor,
Galileo through his Telescope saw
No crosses,
No swords,
No Platonic Angels
Dancing on the rings of Saturn.
Just the infinite reflection of
Bees Wings
And the Seventh Veil of Salome
And Ten Thousand Species of Beetles
Who will never submit
To the Learned Astronomer’s scalpel.

After the bookseller’s stall they pay a visit to the Mysterious Dragon Lady who has eyes like live coals and a forked tongue, which gives her a slight lisp as she reads the tarot cards one by one.

“The Knight of Swords next to the Empress: a lover for you!” She winks at Simon who smiles and nods his approval.

“The Knight of wands. Beware the Man who represents the right hand of the King. Three of cups, yes! I see passion and I see… the Tower, struck by lightning! Oh! And it crosses the female pope! Interesting?”

“Care to elaborate?” Asks Simon, flopping a pair of double-A batteries onto the table.

The Mysterious Dragon Lady hands them back to Simon. “This is no longer your fortune, dear. Hers!” She levels a long red nail at Lilly. “There will be an unexpected visitor. And something will remain. Two in one and the third, invisible to the instruments of science will forever leave its mark on you and your offspring…” She sucks on hot incensed air that smells like flowers and dragon scales and magic. And says no more. Simon and Soren exchange raised eyebrows. Soren pays the Dragon Lady with a ceramic monkey and a spare flashlight he found in the kitchen junk drawer.

They step out into the sunlight on the square again, spending the rest of the afternoon exploring stalls of vintage clothing and a varied selection of shoes.
The cryptic words of the Mysterious Dragon Lady will return to Lilly every so often, at least until dinner time when she will remember that fortune telling is a sin and besides, she doesn’t believe in that sort of thing anyway.

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The Other Noah

I heard about Noah’s crazy twin sister from an old Jazz poet, who heard it from his grandfather, whose parents were slaves and so knew a thing or two about crazy people and boats.

Her name was Baba Goldstein; not many people know that Noah’s last name was Goldstein, either.

Baba was a half forgotten Truth dictated by a cacophony of spirits into the ear of a mute. That is to say, struck bonkers by God as punishment for her not wanting to have babies like all the other women. Even before Old Nobodady hit her upside the head with his Gonzo stick, Baba wanted to be a sailor, to loose herself in the sea, drink rum with Phoenician pirates and make love on a pile of sailing canvas under the full moon.

Once his sister was struck start raving senseless, Noah did what any good brother would do: he locked her up in a closet and fed her dates and a little bit of couscous every day. Until the business with the flood came along. Once Noah was contracted to build a cruise ship big enough for polar bears and penguins and every species of mouse in the world, he didn’t have much time to care for his sister. Neither did his wife or sons or their wives. So Noah trained a spider monkey named Hennessey to feed his nutty sister dates and carry his hammer whilst building yonder ark.

Now, Noah was a compassionate man for his time and took Baba with him when the floodwaters started to hike up everybody’s Dockers. He built a little room at the top of a mast on the ark for his sister and there she sat, kicking her legs and shouting out nauticalisms and sea jargon from her roost, just tickled to finally be at sea!

But Noah had two of every cockatoo and cockroach to mind so that left little time for caring for his sister. Misses Noah was busy too, sweeping up after elephants and orangutans and so were his sons and their wives. So Hennessey was the only monkey on the ark that had a moment to spare for crazy Baba and he felt sorry for her, stuck up in the crow’s nest all the time with just two little blackbirds nesting in her hair, pecking at her ears.

On the thirty-ninth day of rain, Hennessey snuck into the broom closet and fetched the rope ladder. He waited until that night, when Noah and Misses Noah and all their sons and their wives were zonked from a day of bathing hippos. Then, Hennessey shimmied up that mast with the rope ladder and helped Baba down so she could stretch her legs a bit.

Baba was thrilled to finally have run of the ship and so she commandeered the Ark and made Hennessey her first mate and they charted a new course, which was only in Baba?s moldy, little mind. They sailed off into new directions and unknown latitudes, where they encountered amorous buccaneers and were the first people ever to become lost in the Bermuda Triangle. They even butted heads with the dreaded King of the Sea, Great Leviathan himself, whose scales are bright as the moon and who swallows the sea whenever he inhales.

Which is why it took them forty more days, even after the rain stopped to find land again.

And Noah waxed sorely pissed. He locked her up with the animals in the hold and even after they scuttled the Ark on Mount Ararat and the floodwaters drained off into the sewers, Noah left her there in the Ark with just Hennessey the spider monkey to keep her company. But Baba didn’t care. She had finally been to sea and had a head full of imaginary adventures, which she hung from the rafters of the ark, right next to the bird’s nests and spider’s webs; right where the moon could see them every night when it peeked through the window.

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I’ve been on manouvers with the Procrastination Army the last few days but i seem to have fulfilled my obligations for now (it’s sort of like the National Guard, one weekend a month sort of thing but only more sporadic and it’s always next weekend).

It occurs to me that I haven’t posted the plot Synopsis to so those of you out there don’t know what the hell I’m talking about when I refer to that novel. So here it is. And remember, tomorrow is Friday which means the next passage from the book will be up sometime tomorrow morning.

Also, as a warning, this is a working Synopsis, not a teaser, meaning that it does give away the plot. If that’s a problem and you want to be surprised by what happens next, I suggest not reading bellow:

The Tragic Circus / Synopsis
By Keith Kisser

Uncle Soren, in a fit of pique, goes out one night for a bottle of milk. Twenty years later, he returns to the Said Family home with wild tales of his journey traveling around the world with a Bohemian Sideshow in search of the meaning of life. During the weeks that follow he upends their domestic status quo, much to the amusement of Simon, resident poet of the Said family; his younger sister, Lilly, a devout Catholic with Gothic sensibilities and the Lady Imogen Saturnine, the eccentric old widow who rents the third floor apartment. While Frederick, Soren?s brother and the father of Lilly and Simon is pleased to see his brother again, he secretly wishes Soren would stay out of his kitchen.

One night over a few drinks, Soren gives Simon a journal, which is partly an account of his travels and partly a treatise on how Soren lived his life: with no compromises or regrets. The morning after, Soren overdoses on sleeping pills.

At Soren?s funeral, Simon meets Inez Vespertine, a clairvoyant Mortician. They fall in love and together, continue Uncle Soren?s search for the Meaning of Life. Finding very soon that life has no inherent meaning, they decide to fill the void with poetry instead. This takes the form of increasingly elaborate acts of poetic terrorism, such as gluing dildos to garden gnomes and whispering arcane musings at people from a transmitter placed inside of a statue.

Around this time, Simon?s younger sister, Lilly discovers that she is pregnant. This is a surprise, as she is well known to be a virgin. Is the father her amorous Priest, Jose Cabrera? Or was she made pregnant that night of the thunderstorm when a diffuse blue spirit light overcame her while Simon and Inez chanted erotic poetry and made love in the next room? Neither Lilly will not say and her Doctor can neither confirm nor deny anything. Everyone simply assumes that when the child is born they?ll just see whom it most resembles. When the boy is born with the head of a wolf no one knows what to think.

Meanwhile, Simon rattles loose Father Jose?s faith by pretending to be the voice of God talking though a transmitter hidden in the Cathedral Bells. When Lilly catches him in the bushes with a microphone he spends a night in a Haxan County jail cell where he is harassed by Henry Parsifal, a paranoid Detective who suspects Simon of being part of a Vast Satanic Conspiracy. Inez and Lady Saturnine manage to convince Father Jose to drop the charges and Simon is released, much to the Detective?s chagrin.

At baby Amadeus?s christening, Father Jose shows up drunk and declares his love for Lilly, causing a scene. This confirms what many already suspected, that the Priest is indeed the Father of Amadeus, though Simon and Inez still wonder a bit.

Father Jose is shipped off to a new parish but soon disappears. A few nights later he shows up in the tree outside Lilly?s window to apologize and say goodbye. He explains to Lilly how he?s lost his faith and has the sneaking suspicion that life might have no meaning. He finally understands her uncle Soren now and why he committed suicide: it wasn?t because he was depressed but because he had finished living his life and simply wanted to bow out gracefully, as the master of his own destiny rather then lingering on to grow old and disaffected with the absurdity of the world. Instead of blaming Simon for instigating this uncertainty, Jose is grateful, much to Lilly?s surprise. She kisses him goodbye. Then the former priest follows Soren?s example and sets off in search of something in which to believe.

Detective Parsifal still suspects that Simon is up to something Godless and flamboyant. So he tails Simon and Inez around town, ultimately following them and the rest of the Said family to the Circus. There, at a magical sideshow, The Detective is tricked by Cosmo the Magician into volunteering for a special trick. The Detective steps inside Cosmo?s Magic Cabinet and when the Magician opens the cabinet again, the audience finds that it is empty. Detective Parsifal is never seen nor heard from again.

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I can already tell I’m going to enjoy writing on this laptop. It’s so shiny and compact. Plus I can now write in the living room or bedroom or at work or anywhere, really. Unlike before where I was stuck in a small, dark alcove next to the bathroom. Which is better then the old apartment we lived in where my computer was actually in the bathroom. True story. We had to leave the door open when we showered so the steam wouldn’t frag the computer.

Anyway, besides playing with my new toy I’ve been working on some of the plot problems with my new bok, The 8th Veil. When I start writing I generally just let the words flow and build a plot as I go. Now I’m about a third of the way through the rough draft and I finally have a plot outline and can now fit what I’ve written into it and discard the unnecesary bits. This is actually harder to do then you might think because some of the stray bits that don’t fit into the story arew actually pretty fun and amusing. Maybe I’ll post these fragments here for the general amusement of mt vast audience.