Thursday, June 30, 2011

je propre la nuit, part 20

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part twenty of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"keep on passing me by. that's right. keep on passing me by."

"here comes another one. and another."

"but you can't get left behind on an endless highway."

part 21

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 82: loaded

Larry Winchester (“...makes Cormac McCarthy seem effete.” -- Harold Bloom) now turns the Panavision lens of his prose to Enid, tooling down a desert road in her truck some several miles outside of a town called Disdain...

(Click here to read our previous episode; go here to return to the mist-shrouded beginning of our epic.)

Enid came to the top of the rise and down there on the road about a mile away she saw the lights of the Motorpsychos, circling in a silvery cloud of dust like a pack of cocaine-crazed lightning bugs.

Fabulous, just what she needed to run into on her way home, and blasted out of her skull on peyote to boot.

She stopped the truck, put it in neutral and cut her lights.
She popped open her glove compartment and took out a pair of binoculars that she used for scouting the desert for interesting boulders for her sculptures. She focused in to the center of the circling motorcyclists and there she saw Hope Johnstone, sitting on her black pony Whisper.

Great, just great.

She shoved the binoculars back into the glove compartment and took out her father’s heavy old army .45. She checked the magazine, it was full, she shoved it back in and jacked a round into the breech. Unfortunately the gun only held seven rounds, and there were about twenty-five Motorpsychos down there. Well, what the hell.She stuck the gun into the waistband of her jeans, and, keeping the lights off, she put the truck in gear.


Moloch stood in the center of his circling men with one hand on the reins of Hope’s pony. With his other hand he stroked the animal’s mane. Through his mirrored shades his one good eye looked up into Hope’s eyes. She was beautiful. She looked young and good and innocent and intelligent, and so, reflexively, he wished to defile her. He also now wished that he had not wanked off back there in the cave. He might not be able to achieve an erection right away, or possibly at all. He supposed he’d have to let the other fellows go first whilst his wretched seed regenerated itself. But perhaps it would be better that way.

“Do you know who my father is?” asked Hope.

“No,” said Moloch. “Richard Nixon?”

Hope rolled her eyes.

“No, asswipe. He’s Big Jake Johnstone.”

“Oh. Really?”

Moloch had met Big Jake on various occasions and had often done drug business with him. But he couldn’t say he liked the fellow. But of course Moloch didn’t like anyone.

“If you hurt me,” said Hope, “he’ll have you killed.”

“Oh, no doubt, no doubt. And you must be,” said Moloch, brightly, “oh dear, what is it? Faith? Charity?”

“Hope,” she said. “Well, originally it was Esperanza, but Papa calls me Hope.”

“No matter. But tell me, how are those new guests at the hacienda? That Ridpath couple,” he added, as if casually.

“How did you know their real names?”

“Are they at home now?”

“I’ll never tell you where they are. You can pull my toenails out.”

“Don’t give me ideas.”

“And even if I did tell you and you found them, Dick would kill you.”

“Oh would he now?”

Moloch quickly took out his knife and in one swift motion drove it into the pony’s neck up to the hilt.

Hope felt the horse collapsing under her and she leapt out of the saddle and stood and watched as Whisper slumped down and then turned over on his side, dead.

The Motorpsychos all stopped their machines, and the belching and farting engines grew silent, as silent as the men themselves.

“You’re a dead man,” said Hope to Moloch. She turned full around, addressing the rest of the Motorpsychos: “You’re all dead. Every one of you.” Now she faced Moloch again: “You’re dead.”

“Oh,” said Moloch. He wiped both sides of his blade on his leather trousers, then slipped the knife back into its sheath. “Are we now?”

Then came the sound of a heavy motor roaring down the road and everyone turned and saw the dark hulk of Enid’s truck barreling straight toward them.


(Continued here; an American International Production.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011



what's cool: secret agents,
double agents, traps, cars, exotic
weapons and tamarisk trees, savannah sunsets and

canvas tents at the purple dusk  just  before a night battle; four-prop
globe masters  dropping off tanks
at a deep-buried  base  in the desert
where  technicians  service
secret  aircraft
love, swimming in a  glass pool   forty stories  over Rio  with a
jungle  spilling   out the
sides of the skyscraper
 a leather chair, straps
attached for wrists neck and ankles: The Manager's
Seat. A tugboat
as  R V: aboard,
an old man  with
secrets to keep and many surprising skills: strong, he is a killer.

a couple, assassin and drug dealer, transformed to

an alien being that sends out a
of dreams from its crash site

that last is where we start: tonight,

ANT LION ('s spell)

Begin:    Two Rangers,  driving 4x.



My first attempt at serialized fiction is running at 1889 Labs. It's another historical fabrication, swords, blood and muscle in a world not unlike your own, which began with the contemplation of Plato's Critias and Timaeus.

I was looking at his idea that the perfect democratic society would maintain a military caste separate from the rest of the community. If they were esteemed, as Plato would have it, it would be one thing, but if, as with the first century Celtiberians, a fighting force was sent out just to keep the numbers of restless young men down, that would be another.

In a caste society I thought, it would serve to limit the lower classes, it would keep the rest of society in a state of constant vigilance, and as long as trade could continue unhindered, it would do no harm to the economy.

Hypothetical, of course, but I had fun with the idea.

Here's an extract from the first chapter:

Sitting on the balcony palisade, turning his back on the cold beauty of the early morning tarn, Dragan sipped the mug of bitter tea. It needled at his gut, but after a few moments the soothing effect of the opiates seeped though cramped muscles and cooled the pain behind his eyes. The only concession he made to the cold was to hold the mug up near his face so the steam curled gently under his chin and across his cheek. Bare-chested he sat, the rough cloth of his cloak tied and belted at his hips, broad back proffered as a single defense against the elements.

Freya paused in the shadows. After twelve years of teamwork, her partner’s formidable physical presence could still check her stride. She watched him sitting, silent and still, like part of the stonework on which he balanced, as hard and solid and impervious as rock.

There was nothing in him small or mean: the spirit of the man was what you saw. He was in all things constant. Stable. Firm. Immovable. She smiled; after so many years she had relied on that strength too many times to recall, or chaffed at his stubbornness, or thanked the fickle gods for his patience. He was everything she knew she could not be, and that was good. It served them well. It always had.

He didn’t change, or changed so slowly the small erosions went unnoticed. In a world where nothing lasted, where there was nothing she could hold that would always remain, he was her one sure thing. In this world, he was the only one, the only thing she trusted without question.

His hair too, would have to be cut. It fell forward like a wreath of rusted wheat that knotted around his ears and bunched into ringlets on his shoulders. When they’d first met it was long, hanging halfway down his back in a thick, sun-bleached swathe over dense auburn curls. It had been the first thing she noticed, the beautiful hair. Then the shoulders. Then the butt; wrapped in black leather with easily twenty pounds of studs and buckles. Unnecessary weight in battle. Even now she smiled at the vanity. Back then it didn’t seem to matter as long as it looked good.

Shaking her head at small regrets, she silently wished for days like those days again. Days when her knees did not crack when she bent and her joints moved without complaint. Her hair had been longer then, too, and the poppy tea she sipped as she walked didn’t wreak such havoc on her gut.

“You need a haircut.” She threw a sheepskin onto the bench and sitting, adjusted it up behind her shoulder, her own small concession to the cold of the stone. He didn’t answer, didn’t even open his eyes, so she continued. “Are you going to tell me why you’re sitting here like a shipwreck, sipping dope instead of eating at the mess and getting ready for Roll Call?”

He lowered his mug to between his knees, raised his face enough to look at her straight and said, “I’m not going.”

If you would like to follow the story, click here.


ps. There are no vampires, sparkly or otherwise.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

je propre la nuit, part 19

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part nineteen of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"how did i get here?"

part 20

Fate and Free Will

by francis scudellari and nooshin azadi

All plain words by francis scudellari

All italic words by nooshin azadi

you are all alone when you hear a voice
a voice in you tells you to commence a journey
a journey starts along a long long path
a path that takes you to an unknown place
a place where your path intersects with a line
a line on the palm of a hand
a hand that belongs to you

Love came, and she didn’t
ask me to stake it,
the imbalance. I had
mistaken not choosing
for the choice, unwilling
to chance it and be
cheated by the distance.

I’m compelled to take a hand offered so tenderly, willing me

perchance chosen as my fate and freely fated as my choice
The nimble tongues of my unaccounted decisions speak me a destination
a destiny i will distance from with each decided step

included in the book "meeting through the wall" , available from lulu

Monday, June 27, 2011

je propre la nuit, part 18

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part eighteen of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"phone? no, miss, i don't have one."

part 19

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 14: "Aunt Caroline"

by Horace P. Sternwall

edited by Dan Leo *

illustrated by rhoda penmarq and roy dismas

*Ass’t Professor of Classics and Geography, instructor in Home Ec., Olney Community College; editor of Hitting It Hard: The Memoirs of Horace P. Sternwall, Vol. 3.

Conrad Collinson was not quite sure exactly when it dawned upon him that his Aunt Caroline Charlton (actually his great aunt) was certifiably insane. 

Was it really not until that time she came to visit him at the end of his second year at Andover, on Boat Race Day? Arriving in her burgundy red 1922 Duesenberg Model A Phaeton convertible? (A car she still to this day took out on the odd excursion to Coney Island or Atlantic City or even all the way down to Cape May to visit Mrs. Biddle.) 

Not that she was the one driving the Duesenberg. Conrad wasn’t quite sure if she even knew how to drive or if she had a driver’s license. No, she always got one of her cronies to drive, and on Boat Race Day it had been that Lord Wolverington fellow, another resident of the St Crispian, although Conrad had serious doubts about whether the man really was a Lord. 

Aunt Caroline had worn a flaming red scarf and she had flirted shamelessly and drunkenly with all of Conrad’s pals and just about all of his teachers too, and the headmaster and the chaplain to boot.

for complete episode, click here

just when you don't expect it...

this is the seventh

of a series of poems by nooshin azadi

derived from drawings by rhoda penmarq


just when you don't expect it
somebody arrives

somebody arrives
and leaves
sooner or later

but everything changes


even you and i

and the distance
between us


Sunday, June 26, 2011

you are not my boundless blue sky...

this is the sixth

of a series of poems by nooshin azadi

derived from drawings by rhoda penmarq


you are not my boundless blue sky
encouraging me to forget the land and fly

you are not my hot blazing sun
warming me with care, joy and fun

you are not my silky floating cloud
carrying me away from the madding crowd

you are not my tall proud tree
teaching me how to be free

you are not my vast green meadow
showing me that life can be sweet and mellow

you are not my endless winding road
leading me to secret seeds my soul once sowed

you are
just you
a song
that's new

i listen!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

je propre la nuit, part 17

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part seventeen of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"you'll never find her!"

part 18

le ciel et le soleil...

this is the fifth

of a series of poems by nooshin azadi

derived from drawings by rhoda penmarq


le ciel et le soleil
l'amour est toujours en éveil
la nuit est perdue
je cherche mon sommeil


Friday, June 24, 2011

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 81: the Pack

Previously in this cosmic comic cavalcade of catastrophes, our author Larry Winchester (“One part Homer, one part Rabelais, two parts The Three Stooges” -- Horace P. Sternwall) introduced a character no one was expecting, none other than South Philadelphia’s own Mr. Joey Bishop...

(Go here to read our previous episode; click here, if you must, to return to the very beginning of this
third place prize-winner of the Herman Melville Sprawling Epic Award.)

Dick, Daphne and Harvey entered a large pink and chartreuse room with yellow shag carpeting, “1950’s Modern” furniture in various pastels, an oval stainless steel cocktail bar, and large paintings of sad but stylish young women with enormous eyes.

Matt Munro’s version of "Born Free" played over invisible speakers.

Joey Bishop, wearing a short-sleeved yellow Banlon shirt, now stood behind the bar preparing some drinks.

Richard Conte, in a shiny grey sharkskin suit and a skinny black tie, came over with cigarette in hand to greet the newcomers.

“The boss’ll be out in a minute. Christ, you people look like you’ve been through a war. You wanta shower? Change? Mr. Ridpath, you look like you could fit into one of my suits. You like sharkskin?”

Joey, shaking a silver cocktail shaker, said, “Does he look like a dago?”

“Shaddap, borscht-brain,” said Richard. “Harvey, you look about Joey’s size. You like yellow Banlon shirts? He’s got a million of ‘em.”

“What the fuck’s wrong with yellow Banlon shirts?” said Joey.

“Fuckin’ guy’s brother-in-law heists a Mack-truckload of yellow Banlon shirts back in ‘58, and now it’s all he ever wears,” said Richard.

“Hey, fuck you,” said Joey. “I wear ‘em once and throw ‘em away. I still got six boxes of ‘em.”

Dean Martin -- wearing a “western” jacket, a white ten-gallon Stetson and hand-tooled cowboy boots -- came in from another room, lighting a cigarette with a shiny gold lighter.

“Where’s the boss man?” he said.

“Takin’ a crap,” said Joey.

Dean turned back to the room he had just exited and drawled, “Come on in, Pete. They’re here. Where’s Sammy, anyway?”

Peter Lawford entered smiling, holding a cigarette in a tortoise-shell holder and wearing a burnt-orange six-button double-breasted suit with a red silk print tie and a gold chain with a gold peace-symbol pendant.

“Sammy,” said Peter, “is uh otherwise engaged at the moment.”

“Hey hey hey,” said Dean. “That cute high yella gal from the Copa show?”

Peter, chuckling, said, “I think it be no other than e’en so.” And to the newcomers: “Dear god, you people are a mess. Would you care to change into something more comfortable?”

“Yes,” said Daphne, “I would, thank you very much.”

She looked down, with widespread hands, at her blood-spattered clothing.

“I think that could be arranged, ma’am,” said Dean. “Richard, go see if Cyd’s got something to lend the lady.”

“Sid?” said Daphne. “Do I look that dykish?”

“Cyd is a lady, lady,” said Dean.

“And a very classy broad she is, too,” said Joey.


“Cyd Charisse,” said Peter. “The celebrated danseuse.”

“She’s headlinin’ the T&A show ‘cross the street at Caesar’s,” said Joey.


A toilet flushed loudly somewhere, and everyone fell silent for a few moments.

Joey, a shaker in each hand, poured out martinis into a row of cocktail glasses.

Another door opened and Frank Sinatra came out, a cigarette dangling from his lips, and wearing a white turtleneck shirt, white slacks, and white duck loafers. He finished buckling his white belt.

“Greetings and salutations. How’d all these people get in my room?”

“Cocktails are ready, Frank,” said Joey.

Frank went to the bar, picked up a martini, sipped it, licked his lips, and then paused for an appraising moment.


The mood somehow relaxed then, and Frank nodded, smiling at Dick and Daphne and Harvey.

“You people look like shit. You also look like you could use a drink. Come on over and help yourselves and then we’ll get you cleaned up.”

“I”m gonna run over to Caesar’s,” said Richard, “see if Cyd’s got an outfit for the lady. You know, a nice trouser-suit or --”

“Fuck that noise,” said Frank. “What are we, pikers? Run down to Saks and get the lady a nice evening dress. And some shoes -- with heels. Then stop in at Brooks and get the fellas a couple of suits. And shoes. Black shoes.”

Frank put down his drink, reached into his front pocket and took out an enormous wad of money in a gold clip. He peeled off a sheath of crisp new hundred-dollar bills.

“Yo, boss,” said Richard, “what the hell do I know about buyin’ ladies’ evening dresses?”

“You’re gonna learn,” said Frank.

Richard came over and Frank handed him the money and then said, “Come on, folks, the cocktail hour has arrived, and not a moment too soon.”

Dick, Daphne and Harvey came over to the bar.

“Tell him your size, sweetheart,” said Frank to Daphne.

“My size? Gosh, I’m not sure.”

Richard, Dean and Peter all came over to the bar and took drinks.

“Leave it to me,” says Joey.

He pulled a tape measure out from under the bar, grabbed a pencil and a notepad, came around and started measuring Daphne.

“Joey learned a valuable trade doin’ three-to-five at Joliet,” said Frank.

Joey wrote something on the pad, then visually appraised Dick and Harvey. To Dick he said:

“I’m thinkin’ a 42 long. 32 waist? 34 inseam.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Dick.

Joey scribbled on his pad again, then squinted at Harvey.

“38,” said Joey. “No, 36, regular. And 28-28.”

Harvey shrugged.

Joey wrote something on the pad, ripped off the sheet and handed it to Richard. Then he turned to Harvey again.

“Sure I can’t interest ya in a yellow Banlon?”

Richard picked up a shaker and poured himself a refill.

“Hey,” said Frank. “I said go shop, not go drink. Now blow.”

Richard swallowed his martini in a gulp and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“I’m blowing, I’m blowing,” he said, and he headed for the door.

Frank shook his head.

“So hard to get good help these days. But please, speaking of help -- help yourselves.”

Dick and Daphne and Harvey each picked up a martini.

Harvey would have preferred a beer. He’d never actually had a martini before.

Frank raised his glass.

Cent’ ann’. Welcome to Jilly’s West.”

Petula Clark’s Don’t Sleep in the Subwaycame on in the background.


(To be continued for no good reason.)

the penultimate hit, chapter 5: conspirators

by horace p sternwall

editorial consultant and executive producer: dan leo

illustrations by rhoda penmarq and roy dismas

nurse johnson pressed the little cigarette lighter type object and the car pulled off the road and headed across a dusty field. at the end of the field was an even flatter field and the car headed across that.
neither brock nor nurse johnson spoke. nurse johnson began humming a little tune.
"what's that?"
"that you're humming."
"it's 'who put the benzedrine in mrs murphy's ovaltine'. it's an old song. probably not too many people remember it."

"do you remember it?'
the car finally stopped beside a twisted little sagebrush. nurse johnson pointed the cigarette lighter at it.

for complete episode, click here

je propre la nuit, part 16

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part sixteen of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"no more, hogan, no more."

"no more what, clyde?" hogan called after him.


part 17

you only see...

this is the fourth

of a series of poems by nooshin azadi

derived from drawings by rhoda penmarq


you only see
one side of the moon
i live
on the dark side


Thursday, June 23, 2011

je propre la nuit, part 15

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part fifteen of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"look at this dump," ricky muttered as she waited for the door to open.

she knocked again.

the door finally opened a crack. barnabas looked at her.

"got a phone?"

"that all you want?"

"that's all."

part 16

travelers come...

this is the third

of a series of poems by nooshin azadi

derived from drawings by rhoda penmarq


travelers come
with their sunburned suitcases
and surviving souvenirs
they twinkle
on the guilty way
oblivious to the green
odyssey of a tree


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

je propre la nuit, part 14

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part fourteen of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

up to the window she came, closer and closer.

she put her face up to the glass, then glanced at the door.

she knocked on the door.

part 15

when you left...

this is the second

of a series of poems by nooshin azadi

derived from drawings by rhoda penmarq


when you left
night fell
like the curtain
at the end of a play
we sat there
and the tree
holding a wake
over the past memories


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

you left ...

this is the first

of a series of poems by nooshin azadi

derived from drawings by rhoda penmarq


you left
i didn't ask why:
as long as there is a path
there is an urge to move
to leave
i watched the clouds floating high
i watched the sun sinking down
i watched you flashing by
then i went to the tree
and said,
" i follow your path"

je propre la nuit, part 13

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part thirteen of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"just keep riding me, hogan. keep riding me."

"i will, clyde. don't worry."

part 14

Monday, June 20, 2011

Intact and Broken

by francis scudellari and nooshin azadi

All plain words by francis scudellari

All italic words by nooshin azadi

the whole panorama of the world was
reflected flawlessly on my little marble
as it traveled at will on the paths
without ever being violated by a possessive hand
all gains were painless
the glass didn't know the stone
my heart was not acquainted with love

The seen-through pane whispers
hardship's lessons
with fine spider-web cracks.
A hungry orb weaver
reflecting on this --
spiraled glass, brokenness --
stitches it better.

the first stepping stone stopped the marveling marble in the kaleidoscopic web of
a fragmented reflection

Untouched, it had felt indestructible held close, it sees the creep of crevices
opening a myriad intact windows in a single broken window
Each different facet perfectly depicting its wholly woven worlds

included in the book "meeting through the wall" , available from lulu

je propre la nuit, part 12

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part twelve of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"very impressive, clyde."

"yeah? impressive how?"

"the way you whipped that rod out - had it pointed right at the sky. gonna shoot some little birdies, were you?"

"ha,ha,ha!" the two cops laughed.

part 13

je propre la nuit, part 11

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part eleven of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

as he watched the young woman walk up the road toward his shack, barnabas felt a premonition that his whole life was about to change.

she stopped. there was no light in the room, but had she seen his shadow at the window?

part 12

Sunday, June 19, 2011

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 13: jake gets ideas

by horace p sternwall

illustrated by konrad kraus , roy dismas
and rhoda penmarq

for complete episode, click here

Friday, June 17, 2011

je propre la nuit, part 10

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part ten of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

barnabas cottonwood awoke suddenly.

it was after midnight.

he heard and felt someone outside, walking down the highway.

he got up from his cot and crept to the window of his shack.

part 11

je propre la nuit, part 9

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part nine of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"everybody hates me."

part 10

Thursday, June 16, 2011

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 80: Joey, Joey...

(Click here to read our preceding episode; go here to return to the very beginning of what Harold Bloom has called "our great patriotic American epic".)

Our three adventurers Harvey, Dick and Daphne have finally apparently landed their flying saucer.

But where have they landed? To begin to answer that question our author Larry Winchester turns the microphone over to that international charmer Dick Ridpath:

Okay, so Daphne pulls us out of this port, green foul smoke churning all around us, no idea where we are, we all tumble down this ramp, and then well, here’s where it starts to get weird -- or weirder I should say.

We’re in this sort of institutional short grey hallway, lit with fluorescent light, and now this hallway is filling up with this horrible smoke pouring out of the port behind us, so we rush forward and there’s what looks like an elevator, I mean a closed elevator door, with a button there, a single button, so I put my thumb on it, and the doors slide open, we all pile in amidst this churning fog of vile smoke, and there’s only one button on the inside elevator wall, so I press that, the doors close, we feel the elevator going down, we’re all hacking and coughing, and after a minute the elevator stops, the doors open again, and outside is this pale blue hotel corridor.

We step out into the corridor, a small cloud of the green smoke billowing out with us.

The elevator doors close behind us.

Wisps of smoke being sucked quietly into ventilation grills.

The little electric sign above the elevator says we’re on the forty-third floor. Okay.


All right.

Daphne and Harvey are looking at me. As if I know what’s going on.

“It’s my fault,” says Daphne.

“No it isn’t, sweety,” I say.

“Yes it is,” she says. “I had to pee. I couldn’t find a ladies’ room. So I peed in this grill. And that’s when all that vile smoke started coming out.” She turned and looked at the elevator. “I completely ruined that flying saucer.”

“Well, you didn’t know,” I said. “About the grill, I mean.”

Harvey took out a pack of Tareytons.

“When ya gotta go,” he said.

He looked awful, covered all over with blood. And then I looked down at myself and saw that I looked just as bad if not worse. My blood, Hans’s blood, plus I had little bits of Hans’s brains all over me. Daphne was somewhat less liberally splattered with my blood and the little spaceman’s phosphorescent green blood.

Harvey lit a cigarette.

“How you feeling, Harve?” I asked.

“Well, ‘ceptin’ I feel a little like I been mule-kicked in the gut, I feel fine, sir.”

“Yeah, me too,” I said.

“We look a fright,” said Daphne. “And by the way, doesn’t it look weird somehow in here?”

She was right, it did look weird. It was the color of everything. Not just the pale blue of the walls but the quality of the color of everything, including our own gory selves. It all looked somehow like a movie, like Technicolor.

Then a door opens down the hall, and Joey Bishop peeks out. Or at least someone who looked a hell of a lot like the Joey Bishop of, say, Ocean’s 11. And he turns back into the room and says, “Tell the boss they’re here.”

He gave us a “come on over” wave of his hand and said, “Come on in. The boss is waiting.”

And he goes back into the room, leaving the door open.

Harvey turns and stares at me.

Daphne turns and stares at me.

“Okay, let’s go,” I said.

They’re both just standing there looking at me.

As if I had even the slightest idea.


(Continued here; filmed on location and at the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, California.)

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 12: "Farmer" Brown

by Horace P. Sternwall

edited by Dan Leo *

illustrated by rhoda penmarq and roy dismas

*Ass’t Professor of Classics and Religious Studies, Olney Community College; editor of Days of Despair, Nights of Ecstasy: The Memoirs of Horace P. Sternwall, Vol. 2.

Mr Phineas “Farmer” Brown had come to the city well over thirty years ago when he was a young man, ostensibly to seek his fortune. He had moved into his current rooms at the St Crispian during that first year, back when he still at least made a pretense of seeking his fortune or indeed any sort of paid employment at all. His monthly bills at the hotel were paid by his family’s banker back home in Peru, Indiana. The banker also remitted to the hotel the sum of three hundred dollars per month for Mr Brown’s “personal” expenses, with strict instructions that he was to receive no more than ten dollars of it on any given day. Mr Brown laughingly referred to this daily remittance as his “salary”, and he picked it up, in the form of nine or ten crisp one-dollar bills, at the front desk every morning at eleven-thirty on his way to the coffee shop for his breakfast. 

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and the bloodiest battles take place on paper...

by nooshin azadi


stop it you dear poets
poetry is not your personal wrath
poetry is not the sword of retaliation
stop it please

don't summon your words

to shed more blood on the streets of life

don't shoot at agitated emotions
with your literary devices
don't rape ignorant minds
with your pompous pens

put an end to your empty revolutionary songs

your trojan horses end up only in another animal farm

freedom withers between your dogmatic lines
let the eagle of your ego do prometheus no harm

with your words
weave a basket
to pick the apples of patience for the readers
make them pause

with your words
build a labyrinth
to trap the distracted attention of the listeners
make them ponder

with your words
craft a mirror

to show the beauty entrapped in the beast
make them love

stop it you dear poets
stop it please

don't sacrifice the readers
to save your monarchy


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cape May memories: Daphne & Mary Elizabeth

Found some more of the old pictures, in a hatbox on top of a stack of old issues of the Catholic Standard & Times, up in Mrs Biddle's attic.

This was the day that Daphne drove Sister Mary Elizabeth back to the convent out at the Point to get Sister Mary Elizabeth's stuff...

After they packed her stuff in the car, Mary Elizabeth and Daphne walked over to look at the lighthouse.

Then they bought ice cream cones, and strolled over to look at the concrete ship. Daphne had never seen it before. She said it gave her "the creeps"…

Before driving back to Mrs Biddle's the girls decided to go rowing on Lily Lake.

Mary Elizabeth could see the red roof of the convent through the trees and the foliage.

"I won't be going back there again," she said.

Somehow Daphne took a wrong turn on the way back, and they were all the way up to Cape May Court House before either one realized they were on the Garden State Parkway.

je propre la nuit, part 8

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part eight of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"i don't hear anything."

"it was in the back."

"if you say so."

"get out and take a look at the rear tire. on your side."

ricky knew what was coming. she opened the door and got out.

she closed the door behind her. the car accelerated and took off.

part 9

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

je propre la nuit, part 7

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part seven of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"quigg will be pleased."


"yeah, pleased. you did a good job. i'll tell him you did a good job."

"so he'll be pleased."

"how many times do you want me to say it?"


"did you just hear something?"


lefty slowed down, stopped the car.

"i didn't hear anything."

part 8

Cape May memories...

Found this picture in an old Thom McAn shoebox of the whole gang of us on the beach in Cape May. Steadfastly ignoring those threatening storm clouds. That's me with my legs sticking out. We were crazy for canasta that summer...

For Marcia and Mary Ellen that was a very special summer...

We'll never forget the day Arnold lost his Ball railroad watch, and everyone on the beach helped out trying to find it...

There was always that awkward time sometime in the late afternoon. Thank God for Uncle George, who always spoke up first, saying what was on everyone's mind: "What say we head across the street to Sid's for a cold one?"

Sometimes after the morning round of badminton no one really felt like going to the beach. After a brisk shower for everyone Tommy would make up a fresh batch of his "special" iced tea, and Mrs Biddle would break out the fresh canasta decks...

Sally was so proud of herself the day she caught that sand shark.

The stillness in the air was palpable the day of the big canasta tournament at the Colonial...

Christmastime was always special at Mrs Biddle's. Tommy's special mulled cider. The pock-pock of the balls from the billiards room. And as suddenly as the canasta craze had taken over the previous summer all at once now it was fan-tan, every day and all day, on the big dining room table, and everyone took their meals in the kitchen or else in the parlour...