Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why Clowns Scare Me





The last few nights, I've skirted around the Bobo doll experiment, and it seems as if, in yet another example of collective subconsciousness of, well, the insane, G. W. was posting on similar childhood fears after discovering a website called KinderTrauma. All kinds of crazy stuff on there, but nothing beats real life, folks. I am afraid of clowns, and I have been since I was a kid. I can accept them as a productive part of society, I certainly can tell you that clowns will not really eat your brains like a zombie will, and I'd probably even let a clown touch me by accident in a crowded gimp dungeon, well, if I ever went into one of those places. Now Chicago has its clown history. Bozo started here, he was on television continuously for almost fifty years. John Wayne Gacy was Pogo the Clown. But my trauma goes back to when I was a kid, and it goes back to an event NO ONE ELSE CAN REMEMBER! I had recurring dreams of the event long into my twenties, much as I have a certain cityscape of sorts that inhabit my nights, from el stops with different names, strange intersections where real ones do exist, and even this odd pink building far north in what I perceive to be the city, its like a parallel Chicago that I dream about. And so perhaps this clown event happened on Earth-14. I KNOW this happened, I know the smells, the colors, the movements around me. And yet, according to my folks, and as I've said before, I grew up poor so I believe them, we never went to the circus, any kind of circus. Yet, I recall with crystal clarity a clown in a burnt sienna and white suit, three big floppy buttons and pirate-clown sleeves get blasted out of a cannon to land in a net not far away. Only it didn't happen that way. The clown shot into the air and exploded and then was gone. Just smoke. I always dream of the smell of that particular smoke. The crowd reacts horribly, as do the performers. There is a terrible explosion about halfway between the cannon and the net, the smoke is dirt brown and then grey and then white and the clown is gone. And EVERYBODY who works for the circus knew something went horribly wrong. I remember faces in the crowd, men and women still were dressing formally for the event, suits and dresses, kids with pink and green balloons more than the regular red and blue. I stopped having the dream in its entirety in the mid 1980s, but it might have just been bumped back by the newer, crazier dreams. So now I've put in down and judge me how you will. I was never at a circus but I saw a clown explode and a woman with a red hat next to me shrieked.

Doll's boy's asleep





Doll's boy's asleep
under a stile
he sees eight and twenty
ladies in a line

the first lady
says to nine ladies
his lips drink water
but his heart drinks wine

the tenth lady
says to the nine ladies
they must chain his foot
for his wrist's too fine

the nineteenth
says to nine ladies
you take his mouth
for his eyes are mine.

Doll's boy's asleep
under the stile
for every mile the feet go
the heart goes nine

e.e.cummings, 1923

Friday, August 29, 2008

Maypole Street & Ashland Avenue







Awhile back I went down the Lake Street el to Ashland, then walked up a block to Maypole, one of the city's ghetto streets in between more kept up streets nearby. More like a wide alley than a street. I went there because I knew that new condos would soon be filling the blight, and that street is where the final scenes happen in Nelson Algren's THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, to me the best book ever written. Frankie Macjinek--Frankie Machine--is on the run after spending most of the novel in the vicinity of Division & Hermitage, the Humboldt Park my parents knew. The book is set throughout 1947 and Frankie finds himself running to Molly Novotny's apartment on Maypole, even then a street where the very poor lived, and then ends up in a fleabag hotel. I may very well have photos of both the apartment building as well as said chicken wire ceiling SRO right here. No one around to tell me on Maypole Street. But I have the photos, within a year these buildings will be into the erff, brothers and sisters.

I've just taken my hardcover copy that is completely falling apart but its a hardcover copy from 1950, not some new release, from my shelf between a 1942 hardback of The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce and Who's Who In Chicago 1926, because its a nice summer's night and it seems right to type in the epitaph of the book:

It's all in the wrist,with a deck or a cue,
and Frankie Machine had the touch.
He had the touch and a golden arm--
"Hold up, Arm," he would plead,
Kissing his rosary once for help
With the faders sweating it out and--
Zing!--there it was--Little Joe or Eighter from Decatur,
Double trey the hard way, dice be nice,
When you get a hunch bet a bunch,
It don't mean a thing if it don't cross that string,
Make me five to keep me alive,
Tell 'em where you got it 'n how easy it was--
We remember Frankie Machine
And the arm that always held up.

We remember in the morning light
When the cards are boxed and the long cues racked
Straight up and down like the all-night hours
With the hot rush hours past.

For it's all in the wrist with a deck or a cue
And if he crapped out when we thought he was due
It must have been that the dice were rolled,
For he had the touch, and his arm was gold:
Rack up his cue, leave the steerer his hat,
The arm that held up has failed at last.

Yet why does the light down the dealer's slot
Sift soft as light in a troubled dream?
(A dream, they say, of a golden arm
That belonged to the dealer we called Machine.)

Maybe I'm the guy with the arm that will one day fail, maybe Algren's prose is better than his poetry (the lines are jarring to me at first, but they grow on you. Its like the pot calling the kettle bald, as I have 1100 poems in print). But I'll say one thing, this kind of writing is how people used to talk in Chicago. Some of us still do, as if in the misty mother fog of another dead poet's troubled dreams.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Room 18




I'm adding this strange checklist thingie because I wouldn't be surprised that the bastards, i.e., the clinical psychologists who ruled my first thirteen years would have been doodling on such a card while they were watching my struggles. For three days a week, until May of 1972, I was in Room 18 at the Cook County Clinics, actually right next to the burn ward, which was pretty damned traumatic in itself. But on those three days I would learn to walk (when I was four), climb stairs, and did my best to use my right side. When I was older, I was put in a white room and timed while I performed dexterity experiments. Watched from behind one of those window/mirrors like you see on a cop show. They'd let the clock tick and watch me even after I cried from the pain. These memories come to mind because of a few articles I'll be writing for a book on psychology, similar to MacGill's. I'll be writing about the "Bobo doll experiment" where kids played with tinker toys as an adult hit an inflatable Bobo doll with a mallet, the same kids than being tested for aggression, and you can guess how. Then there's the "little Albert experiment," where a kid who was not yet 4 years old was kept on a table and tested for fear by such things as a white rat placed on him, then a sealskin coat draped over him, and at one point being startled by a lab assistant in a fake Santa mask with cotton balls glued to it. I might be doing an article (you kinda ask for them in order, and if no one else snags one, its yours)on Milligan. He's the bastard who had his test subjects decide how much voltage (though it was fake, and acted out by others) they would/could/did administer via the crank of a dial and a glance through a window at the fake victims. And these are examples, much like those of my early life, of why I despise clinical psychologists. I hope someone got an A+ off a paper they wrote about me...I remain, your chattel, Wayne

Story Tellers Unplugged 08/28/08




Into My Own Hands
Hey, everyone. I’ve been sitting here for twenty minutes trying to think of a title and gave up. I went to my list of unused story titles. Because at the very least the title needs to be catchy. I’m notorious for needing a title and the last line of a story in my head before I can go on and write the damn thing. This is the case with my Richard Matheson-esque story “The Night of The Two Moons.” Yes, I received another email last week reminding me–wrongly–about Mars being closest to the earth tonight, which started as an email back in 2003. Its a decent story yet I can’t end it with the right turn of the phrase. Its what I get for trying to emulate Matheson. Look for it before the turn of the decade. Along with my H.P. Lovecraft redneck story “The Sumbitch Horror.”

I turn 49 next week, which means I’m dangerously close to outliving Rod Serling. I’ve outlived David Janssen, The Fugitive himself, and Elvis. An aside here, just because its damn weird, there’s this thing you can look up on Wikipedia, “The WOW! Signal.” The only type of possible radio transmissions were recorded overnight at an observatory in Ohio. The guy who checked the printout in the morning saw the 72 seconds of activity–the length of the telescope arc– wrote WOW! and circled it. The date: August 16th, 1977. The day Elvis died. I postulate that he simply went home. My friend Harry Fassl put it quite succinctly, the radio waves were the sounds of a dinner bell. I never once thought about the fact that I’ll be 50 on 09/09/09. That’s the day that the new version of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE will hit theaters. One of Beth Massie’s old cronies, Lee Snavely, and I are planning a ridiculous YouTube called PLAN 9 FROM MySPACE. We’ll film it both here in Chicago and at Lee’s secret lab in Richmond, have one of the cops be a computer repairman instead, pretty much riff on the entire film. I think the flying saucers will be old Microsoft Word CDs. I may get my nieces’ corgi to be Bela Lugosi. We’ll see. (Lee and I were responsible for the FISHNETS FOR VIGODA “meme” in the hopes that we could get the phrase high up on the Googleometer,and we at least got it to New Zealand).

Yes, you read that correctly. I can make YouTubes now, I’m no longer on dial-up. I have Comcast, and the night after it was hooked up, I was relacing a light bulb in my closet, the bulb broke and I couldn’t help but touch the filament. Trying to balance myself, I then put my right hand on an old hard drive on my shelf. But I then was able to kick away the stool I was on and fall to the floor, the remainder of the bulb shattered and I lost all power for the next 40 hours. So, yes, I have high speed, when I’m not busy blowing up things. I’ll tell you, though, one of these days an accident will give me those super powers I’ve been wanting. Just what the world needs: Half-Century Man, the oldest hero alive.

So its the end of summer and I have no lessons to tell anyone, other than how NOT to change a light bulb, so I hope you’ll just let me ramble on like Laird Creiger in HANGOVER SQUARE, only its not a piano playing in the background, rather Sandy Nelson hitting the tubs in LET THERE BE DRUMS. I’ve been out looking for work again, and last week in the Loop I ran into Rockabilly Dave. Quite a few homeless people sell STREETWISE, and they keep half of every dollar issue they sell. Dave usually stands at the corner of Monroe and Clark, he has that early 60s look, the sideburns and thinning floptop, but his eyes are sunken and he is always pale. But back in the days I worked downtown, I’d spend half my lunch hour jawing with him about Sandy Nelson, Link Wray, Dave Brubeck, obscure bands like The Hondells and the Del-Rays, and all kinds of cool stuff. I’m at my best, writing and thinking creatively, when I’m on the train or writing in my commonplace book by the water filtration plant, Lake Michigan on three sides of me. I’m not the same me when I walk through the front door, maybe because I’m in the suburbs and the big, bad city is behind me and to the east. Dave will be MIA for days at a time because he gets day labor. He’s not into drink. I think he and I share the fact that we want the street running through our veins, the dankness of the subway tunnels clearing our sinuses (mine, at least). I applaud him for not expecting a handout by sitting in front of a boarded up storefront with a White Castle cup saying ‘gimme change’ every three seconds like an off-key bell in a church tower. Here’s to Dave for being happy, while I’m here trying to tie this up into something that will fit with the title I’ve posted.

Hrmm. Nope, I got nothing. I’ll keep going for the 1000 words if I can. I ACTUALLY am working on one of those stories-that-might-be-a-novella called “Into His Own Hands,” and deals with a few loose ends someone needs to take care of before he leaves town for a new job. So this weekend I’ll be spending the night at these fleabag called the Diplomat, which would pretty much be listed under Crack Houses in the city guide. Wire netting for ceilings, chairs with one arm, that’s all you need for shooting up. Razor blade marks on the top of the television. I know this because a friend from Canada stayed there one night in 2000 but I need to see it for myself. And its only four blocks from Wrigley Field. So if I go “into the erff” per street cop terminology, someone reading this can give a heads up, but I wouldn’t wait for any reward money to be posted. Whoever finds my body can finish the story, how’s that? Take the pen out of my cold, dead hands.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pulp Fiction





Haven't had much to say lately. Maybe filling out that SS/Disability thing got me down. I wanted to post my essay from Storytellers Unplugged but of course Comcast isn't letting me do it correctly. I might have it up tomorrow. So I offer you several books I truly wish I owned, the middle one obviously a tell all by Jessica Alba about me, and the top book is pretty much a recurring nightmare of mine, fighting giant ants in white BVDs. Well, the ants aren't wearing them, you know what I mean...

In My Own Hands




Haven't been too talkative of late, have I? Well, here's my rambling post for STORYTELLERS UNPLUGGED, August 28th.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Grasping The Obvious



Daniel Faraday, mathematical genius. Short term memory from overexposure to Kerr Metric time travel. And to the right, me. We both have instruments that we need to use, but whereas Faraday is making a strong time paradox argument, I am simply staring at my palsied hand. You think my look there is bad? Think about when its time for the old man to shave. Picture the scene of Robert DeNiro's character brushing his teeth in AWAKENINGS. (The photo above is one of dozens Greg Loudon took in preparation for FIENDS BY TORCHLIGHT. His wife Darcie just gave birth to their third child on Wednesday. Gives me random moments of happiness). Summer winds down. I cannot type without clenching a toothpick between my teeth. Later I'll take my border collie out and while he takes a piss standing up because he grew up in a box at Pet Luv and doesn't know any better, I'll be searching the stars for blessed redemption....your chattel, Wayne

Friday, August 22, 2008

Two Moons, Moo Cows, & The Printers Ball






And I just stuck that Japanese thing in to see if anyone notices. Earlier today, I received my yearly announcement that has circulated the Internet longer than that the Nigerian lottery, the reminder that August 27th is (yet again) the Night Of The Two Moons. Of course, the actual night was back in 2000 AND THREE, when Mars was at its closest to Earth and its ascension coincided with a full moon. This year on August 27th, we can see a much dimmer Mercury and Venus, with the moon already waning. As Not From Michigan Mike said, it resembles an Islamic Flag. So get those telescopes out, people.

My buddy HEF is funny, aside from the fact that his house address is one of those 1111 numbers that will one day cause the downfall of Western civilization. Going back to my post about the Wow! Signal and Elvis going home, HEF commented that the static from space was really a dinner bell. One night, he, I, Jeff, and Andrew smoked pot in his basement and I exclaimed "I am Emily Dickinson!" to which the other men choked down the goodness and of course I meant to say that I was Spartacus. And to this day I am reminded of this event.

Last night, I awoke in the wee hours (they are called this not because old men like me have to go wee, rather the it is the time that the little grey aliens from Zeta Reticuli are yanking on my little toes, telepathically telling me "this little piggy went wee, wee, wee all the way home" at the same time as singing the theme from The Banana Splits) to a sudden and frightening realization. I dream about a flaming cow as a sign of impending doom. But I am linked forever to Bubbly Creek, and what is at the bottom? Cow Ghosts. Rotting Cow Ghosts. Then it was time to get up at urinate like a banshee.

Tonight was the Printers Ball, a yearly thing. This time around it was at the MCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art. The photo above is from last year's event in Bridgeport in which the police were called because Bridgeport is full of @$$holes. I can type those words about Mayor Daley's old neighborhood and get away with it because NOBODY in Bridgeport is smart enough to use Google and type in Bridgeport Is Full Of @$$holes. So there, you Irish hillbillies. It was a neat little event and I soon realized that most everybody there was half my age. I caught up with the aforementioned NFM Mike and Becky Who Can Evidently Afford To Drive From The Northside And Park In A Garage Off Michigan Avenue and we hung out for awhile, Becky passing out flyers for Twilight Tales while NFM Mike and I questioned if we should tell a fellow his fedora was on backwards. One guy had this cool teal sport jacket and we were the same build and I got into wondering if I should trade him...then I realize I had nothing to trade. I was wearing a kind of tealish Hawaiian shirt, but I'd look pretty silly wearing my jeans and just the jacket and my three chest hairs. Silly there, but fashionable in Wrigleyville. I also got a whatever kind of look girls give guys twice their age from this Claire Danesish gal as I refilled my water bottle. She was by herself but I had nothing to say because I AM AN IDIOT. I could be with her right now, holding hands over deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's before sneaking out the back way because I only have $22.37 and a giant Pope coin to my name. Maybe she was into Hawaiian shirts. There was also this adorable black girl with an afro and she looked to be all of about 85 pounds. And, to be fair, I caught the eye of a guy who looked like young Kurt Russell, like from THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES days, and everybody knows about my not-so-secret man-crush on the actor, and the guy gave me a chin nod to which I chin nodded back and it was like I had been transported into a George Pelecanos novel. It was a fun night, after Becky left us boys for our trek to the lowly subway, NFM Mike and I discussed porn while waiting for the Red Line and a young waif flipping through a magazine moved ever further away as I discussed such grand titles as THE NEIGHBORS SUCK AND SO DO WE, and the book I swear I will one day find again and one day own, I can see the cover as if it was 1979 all over again, MY DACHSHUND, MY LOVER. (I know if I keep mentioning the book, it will come to be in my possession.) And that was my last, oh, 18 hours or so. One more week of summer. I felt sooo old at that party tonight.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Screwing With The Man





The Man in this case being the SS/Disability Board. I am STILL filling out the online form, mostly because I keep getting pages where I am repeating the same thing. Where I am repeating the same thing. I'm better today, as the evening has worn on. I'm in fighting mode again. But, I tell you, this damn form--now I'm up to my employment history, Christ knows if they want info from 1977 as they did with my medical info, I think I was a night dishwasher at a Golden Bear off State Road--this form, this THING, its as if Charles has ordered me at gunpoint to transcribe the history of the Green Lantern Corps. That's really what I should do, go back to the beginning and list my doctors as Batwoman, Green Lantern Tomar-Re from the planet Xudar (and don't ask why I have this in my head already), and Ultra, the Multi-Alien as my psychiatrist. I have no idea if they have a rubber stamp for my folder if I sent it that way. Wayne Al-Sall, Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Every Man Has A Flaming Cow



I should have posted this photo last night, straight across the street is where Dave stood, but not this day. Back in the day, we had painted cows all over the place. Then other cities did strange things like put painted bunnies and ducks around their own streets. The best variation of the theme I saw in Omaha: someone would paint a bus stop bench and a poet would add words only after the art was completed. Kind of like my man in the moon poem. At one point I had photos of several cows that had been scattered across downtown, and even in upper floors of certain buildings. Moo Are Here. A cow jumping over a moon, one with a transit map painted in exquisite detail on it. This is the only one I've saved. And it was the only cow that was stolen. It has been a hellish day, folks. One of those deep dive days that I get from my bipolar meds. I'll be better tomorrow and I'd rather be like this now than to be hallucinating about suicide windows for three days straight. Been filling out online forms for filing for SS/Disability. There should be a YouTube of my screaming at the computer screen because of the quirks of each particular section. Can I not just TYPE my state initials instead of typing IL and having it change to LA because you are supposed to SCROLL to find your state. Its two fucking letters, people. Like typing BTW for "by the way." C'mon now. Anyhow. This cow has helped me through bad days in the past, physical, mental, electromagnetic, gravitational, you name it. Wayne's Unified Theory of Bipolar Conductivity. Elvis once starred in a film called FLAMING STAR, and the title held a meaning, one of...doom! And so I will sometimes see the photo of the cow or think of it and sing (usually loud enough to frighten my border collie) Everyman has a flaming cow, a flaming cow over his shoulder, and ever man who sees that flaming cow, he knows his time, his time has come... and that's my anecdote for the night. Thanks for visiting the asylum. Leave the rubber mallets where you found them and the invisible night shift will take care of things....Your chattel, Wayne

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rockabilly Dave




There are two kinds of down and outs--the cops here call them meltdowns, the ones on drugs--and its either the kind that just do not give a shit, an example being a guy that sits by the boarded up Waldenbooks barely shaking a cup and just yelling "gimme chaaange!" over and over. If the guy was next to me and I heard him speaking anything but those two words, I might not recognize him. He's not missing a limb, nor is he mentally deficient. He is just too lazy to work, otherwise he would be making an effort to actually exist past two words and a plastic cup from White Castle. He's not an alcoholic like the guy in the second photo, which I took way back in 1990. He is actually flat on his face outside a voting parlor. He's not a drug addict, like the short dude I posted on a few weeks back. I looked for work more than White Castle guy while I still HAD a job downtown.

Then there is Dave. I ran into him after must be four years easy, I was having lunch with Greg, so he snapped a photo of us. We were eating outside, just near where Dave usually hits the lunch crowd, by the Walgreens on Monroe & Clark. See, people know Dave by name, he sells STREETWISE, which is a weekly paper about homeless people and certain Chicago events and every dollar copy they sell the person gets fifty cents of it. Might've been my Elvis tie that got Dave talking to me about old times, and I'd see him often after that, though sometimes not for weeks at a stretch because he found work of some sort. Not just Elvis, but our town's answer to Jimmy Ellis, Ral Donner. Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. As we talked people would come by and drop a few quarters in a box thing he has just because they knew he was cool. Always acknowledging him by name. He was interviewed in the paper once, not offering his last name, just asking to be called Rockabilly Dave. He'd lived in L.A. a lifetime ago, and I doubt Chicago allowed him a tabula rasa on its' bastard streets. He can talk about certain concerts the way some writers use their knowledge of cars or old wax platters, examples seen in any George Pelecanos novel. Maybe there's something that keeps him from holding a job. It sure isn't drink. Maybe Dave can't deal with the public in private, or maybe the employers are assholes who don't like it if he scares the clientele. Rockabilly Dave deserves more.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Baby, Let Me Take You Where The Action Was





The joint up top is right off Southwest Highway and Central Avenue, and the place was likely there in some form before SW Highway (Illinois Route 9) was conceived, because the diagonal street kind of straightens out for a bit before becoming diagonal again, heading out towards old Route 66. (I write this as I listen to Jimmy Ellis, a CD mix that Bob sent me last year, kinda fits my mood). Its a tavern right now, no name on it and the Old Style sign is gone. I was there maybe twice in the early 80s, and the story around here is that the place was a brothel decades ago. I can believe that, because before big buildings started popping up all over this century, this place was by far the hugest building (it stretches far back to the other side of the lot), and it wasn't that long ago that where I am writing this from was nothing but farmland. Before it was torn down, the place next door to me was built in 1946 and it covered lots on the next block. Its still a cool building, but I'd dig getting a look at the upstairs layout, but I wanted to do that when I was at Graceland, too, where I'd expect to see a mummified Gladys Presley). And then...there's the De-Lux Motel at, coincidentally, SW Highway and Cicero. Years ago, a sign like a sideways cross read UNIQUE LOUNGE. I was there in the mid-80s also, and its been cleaned by the cops pretty good. Twenty years ago, you knew damn well why there were motel rooms in the first place. I'm trying to think of a movie that could help you imagine the inside of this place, the closest I can come is TRUCKSTOP WOMEN, and that still isn't it. Faded green stools by the bar, burgundy love seats and women that looked garish with most of the light coming from the juke box selection signs. It was the time of New Wave and no meth or crack. Just a room full of unfiltered cigarette smoke and men and women who worked hard at their jobs, the men likely truckers on their way for the long haul the next day.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Elvis Has Left The Planet, Thank You And Good Night!




"Elvis has left the building!" is a phrase that was often used by public address announcers following Elvis Presley concerts to disperse audiences who lingered in hopes of an Elvis encore.

Al Dvorkin, the guy who always announced that line, was killed in a car accident a few years back. Sixteen years ago at this very minute, I was at Graceland, holding a candle on Elvis Death Day. For four hours. Yes. As the crowds walked the entire length of the driveway, past the house, stopping by the graves, and then walking back out the other way. The entire time Elvis gospel music playing from speakers in trees lit by teal spotlights from beneath. But I'm not going to dwell on that. Fours hours! (NSA Note: It was actually three hours and forty-seven minutes--Donald Rumsfeld) No, I'm going to mention the WOW! Signal, so called because the guy who saw the printout of possible radio waves from another planet wrote WOW! in the margin. I'd just mangle the facts, so I'm cut & pasting the article from Wikipedia:

Wow! signal
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The WOW! Signal
Credit: The Ohio State University Radio Observatory and the North American AstroPhysical Observatory (NAAPO).The Wow! signal was a strong, narrowband radio signal detected by Dr. Jerry R. Ehman on August 15, 1977, while working on a SETI project at the Big Ear radio telescope of the Ohio State University. The signal bore expected hallmarks of potential non-terrestrial and non-solar system origin. It lasted for 72 seconds, the full duration Big Ear observed it, but has not been detected again. It has been the focus of attention in the mainstream media when talking about SETI results.

Amazed at how closely the signal matched the expected signature of an interstellar signal in the antenna used, Ehman circled the signal on the computer printout and wrote the comment "Wow!" on its side. This comment became the name of the signal.

Contents [hide]
1 Technical details
2 Searches for recurrence of the signal
3 Speculations on the origin
4 Location of the signal
5 See also
6 References
7 External links



[edit] Technical details
Wow! signal

The Wow! signal received in 1977. The signal bore expected hallmarks of potential non-terrestrial and non-solar system origin.

Problems playing the files? See media help.
The circled letter code 6EQUJ5 describes the intensity variation of the signal. A space denotes an intensity between 0 and 0.999.., the numbers 1-9 denote the correspondingly numbered intensities (from 1.000 to 9.999...), and intensities of 10.0 and above are denoted by a letter ('A' corresponds to intensities between 10.0 and 10.999..., 'B' to 11.0 to 11.999..., etc). The value 'U' (an intensity between 30.0 and 30.999...) was the highest ever detected by the telescope. The intensity in this case is the unitless signal-to-noise ratio, where noise was averaged for that band over the previous few minutes. [1]

The bandwidth of the signal is less than 10 kHz (each column on the printout corresponds to a 10 kHz-wide channel; the signal is only present in one column). Two different values for its frequency have been given: 1420.356 MHz (J. D. Kraus) and 1420.456 MHz (J. R. Ehman), both at 50 kHz of the frequency of the hydrogen line, which is at 1420.406 MHz. Two possible equatorial coordinates are given:

R.A. = 19h22m22s ± 5s
R.A. = 19h25m12s ± 5s
Both coordinates give dec. = -27°03´ ± 20´ (epoch B1950.0).[2]

The Big Ear telescope was fixed and used the rotation of the Earth to scan the sky. At the speed of the earth's rotation, and given the width of the Big Ear's observation "window", the Big Ear could observe any given point for just 72 seconds. An extraterrestrial signal, therefore, would be expected to register for exactly 72 seconds, and the recorded intensity of that signal would show a gradual peaking for the first 36 seconds -- until the signal reached the center of Big Ear's observation "window" -- at which time it would show a gradual decrease.

Therefore, both the length of the Wow! signal, 72 seconds, and its shape would correspond to a possible extraterrestrial origin.[3]


[edit] Searches for recurrence of the signal
The Big Ear telescope used two feed horns to search for signals, each pointing to a slightly different direction in the sky following Earth's rotation; the Wow! signal was detected in one of the horns but not in the other, although the data was processed in such a way that it is impossible to determine in which of the two horns the signal entered. In any case, the signal was expected to appear a mere three minutes apart in each of the horns, but this did not happen.[3] Ehman unsuccessfully looked for recurrences of the signal using Big Ear in the month after the detection.[4]

In 1987 and 1989, Robert Gray searched for the event using the META array at Oak Ridge Observatory, but did not re-detect it.[4]

In 1995 and 1996, Gray also searched for the signal using the Very Large Array, which is significantly more powerful than Big Ear.[4]

Gray and Dr. Simon Ellingsen later searched for recurrences of the event in 1999 using the University of Tasmania's Hobart 26m radio telescope.[5] Six 14-hour observations were made at positions in the vicinity, but did not detect anything similar to the Wow signal.[3]


[edit] Speculations on the origin
It has been speculated that interstellar scintillation of a weaker continuous signal — similar, in effect, to atmospheric twinkling—could be a possible explanation, although this still would not exclude the possibility of the signal being artificial in its nature. However, even by using the significantly more sensitive Very Large Array, such a signal could not be detected, and the probability that a signal below the Very Large Array level could be detected by the Big Ear radio telescope due to interstellar scintillation is low.[4] Other speculations include a rotating lighthouse-like source, a signal sweeping in frequency, or a one time burst.

Ehman has stated his doubts that the signal is of intelligent extraterrestrial origin: "We should have seen it again when we looked for it 50 times. Something suggests it was an Earth-sourced signal that simply got reflected off a piece of space debris."[6]

He later recanted his skepticism somewhat after further research scientifically relegated an Earth-bound signal to be astronomically unlikely, due to the requirements of a space-borne reflector being bound to certain unrealistic requirements to sufficiently explain the nature of the signal. Also, the 1420 MHz signal is problematic in itself in that it is "protected spectrum" or bandwidth in which terrestrial transmitters are forbidden to transmit.[7][8] In his most recent writings, Ehman resists "drawing vast conclusions from half-vast data."


[edit] Location of the signal
The location of the signal in celestial coordinates was, at (epoch J2000.0)

Right Ascension (On the positive horn): 19h25m31s ± 10s

Right Ascension (On the negative horn): 19h28m22s ± 10s

Declination (Is the same for both horns): -26d57m ± 20m

This region of the sky lies in the constellation Sagittarius, roughly 2.5 degrees south of the fifth-magnitude star Chi-1 Sagittarii.


[edit] See also
Quasar CTA 102, believed by Dr. Nikolai S. Kardashev to have an alien signal encoded in it.
LGM-1

[edit] References
^ Ehman, Jerry. "Explanation of the Code "6EQUJ5" On the Wow! Computer Printout". Retrieved on 2006-06-12.
^ Gray, Robert; Kevin Marvel (2001). "A VLA Search for the Ohio State 'Wow'" ([dead link]). Astrophys. J. 546: 1171–1177. doi:10.1086/318272.
^ a b c Shostak, Seth (2002-12-05). "Interstellar Signal From the 70s Continues to Puzzle Researchers", Space.com.
^ a b c d Alexander, Amir (2001-01-17). "The 'Wow!' Signal Still Eludes Detection", The Planetary Society.
^ Gray, Robert (2002). "A Search for Periodic Emissions at the Wow Locale" (abstract). Astrophys. J. 578: 967–971. doi:10.1086/342646.
^ Kawa, Barry (1994-09-18). "The Wow! signal", Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved on 2006-06-12.
^ "Frequencies Allocated to Radio Astronomy Used by the DSN", NASA.
^ Committee on Radio Astronomy Frequencies Handbook for Radio Astronomy, European Science Foundation, 3rd edition, 2005, p. 101.

Well, as most of us know, some people out there think Elvis faked his death. Case in point, his opening theme at concerts was "Also Spake Zarathustra, heme from 2001: A Space Odyssey." He died on 8/16/1977 and if you do the math, 8+16+1977=2001. Of course, this proves he must have been the guy at the Qwik-Mart selling me Ray-O-Vac batteries earlier this week.

I know the real thing, and it wasn't the 2001 part it was the Space part of the theme. The Wow! Signal occurred on August 15th, 1977. Elvis's girlfriend, Ginger Alden, didn't find Elvis in the bathroom until long after he'd been dead. My theory: at some point the day before he was discovered ass up in rigor mortis (I"ve since used the term Elvis Mortis in a story), I think that the alien consiousness that had inhabited Elvis's body fled down the Graceland toilet for Tau Ceti or Wolf 359. The Wow! Signal has never been deciphered, but I'll bet in some language like Skrull, or Kryptonian, it was the final chorus of "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You..." And that's my story, and I'm sticking to it....Wayne

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And Why Didn't I think Of This?



Or G.W. Ferguson, for that matter. Incidentally, its my 350th post. So why isn't anyone commenting anymore. Is it my choice of cologne? Does my breath smell of vanilla NyQuil? Or did everyone discover the YouTube of me involved in a moment of sweet, sweet octopus lovin'?...Wayne

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sleeping Off The Vertigo





I've been brief in the last posts as I've concentrated on my fiction for a change, and today my brevity must continue because I have cadged myself a pair of reading glasses that are too weak and giving me a headache. Earlier today, I was on the porch reading a Mister Terrific story in my ALL-STAR HEROES archive when my dog knocked over my Honey-Nut Cheerios, I took off my good glasses (i.e., the ones I paid a dollar for at Dollar Tree) and then as I picked up the cereal, the ants already converging, my dog proceed to stick the glasses up his ass, causing much sympathy from me, as I imagined the same kind of pain that I had back in the 90s when I was changing pants in the back of the comic store and sat on a case of Mountain Dew bottles in my underwear (of course, there is a much longer story to be told here, but not tonight). I mentioned standing on the el platforms and taking photos of the random demolition, as well as sneaking peeks at the pretty young women of summer. The top photo is who I saw when I got to the bottom of the steps at Wabash and Madison, the other two photos are of what I saw near the top of the stairs at the same platform. I tore my name off a few business cards and tossed them into the daylight abyss to confuse future generations.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Frosted Mug





The south borders of Chicago are strange, further east it stretches to about 139th Street, but The Frosted Mug is at 115th and Pulaski, with Alsip just past that. There is a portion of St. Casimer's Cemetery at Pulaski, but the bigger portion of graves is further west towards Cicero Avenue ( my usual haunts). Now this place wasn't no Dog 'n Suds, no one can beat those joints. But the Mug is ready to be torn down, another casualty of entropy's gradual win over Chicago's past. The root beer they sold was from a place called Philbert's, over on Archer Avenue, and that place is closed, as I found from my trek last month. I do like the pleasant surprise of the car that was for sale being there for my photo, the last time I passed by on the bus, the car wasn't there. I can't tell you much about the food here, because anything you ate was overshadowed by the Philbert's root beer. Odd little logo for the place, too, something from those whacked out 70s, I guess...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Circus Must Be Back In Town: Psuedocon






Well, so far, my last post...well, at least its out there until the sun ignites and fries everything or until I inadvertently delete the Internet while programming my Comcast TV remote. Beth Massie (in b&w, above, from Beth Gwinn's DARK DREAMERS) posted Abe on her Skeeryvilletown blog, and we are mutual friends of this GW Ferguson. (CapCom also posted on her blog, which I assume will confuse many viewers of the TV show LOST). Yes, the same GW who wrote about me knowing the lyrics to "Do You Think I'm Psycho, Mama?" Well Beth and GW have known each other since grade school, but I didn't meet him until the early 90s. It falls out like this: World Fantasy was going to be held in London in, I think, 1988, and a bunch of us, being basically new at writing and pretty much broke, said screw that. I said I'd watch BBC when Chicago cable finally gets it in the year 2000; I'm a visionary that way. Well, Beth decided to host the first of many Psuedocons on a billion-acre stretch of land with her house, her sister Barb's, a bunch of talking cows, and Beth's bro-in-law Charlie's collection of VW Beetle models (visible from space, actually). Where to start. Any and every writer and/or artist was invited and there was a rotating attendees over the years. Each year we took a phrase to use for the following year, and the second time I visited, as we took our trek to the Kroger's for a bunch of crap to eat while watching USA's Up All Night or MST3K, this quaint little woman in tiny little Waynesboro, Virginia (where quaint little women are really fat Wiccan demon-whores who have collections of everything HP Lovecraft ever wrote hidden in their pantries. No, pantries. I said pantries!)muttered to her husband that the circus must be back in town. I'm sure she just meant it as a jolly jape, just as I'm certain that now that she has likely died that another jolly jape is that she has to smoke a gigantic turd the size of a blunt in purgatory before she can get anyplace else. But the crazy things we did back then! Lip synch. Charades. Marshmallow mumbles! Driving Go-Karts! One year, there was karaoke which the guys gave up on, but the women just kept on singing until dawn. This, THIS PLACE, is where I met Mr. G.W.Ferguson. Most everybody else I knew, Yvonne Navarro was still living in Chicago (that's me carrying her at World Horror in Toronto last year), and there's me, Brian Hodge and Kurt Wimberger in front of one of those VW's I mentioned earlier. Man, the kinds of crap that went on over 72 hours. One year Jeff Osier and Cathy Van Patten up and got themselves married (that's them fretting over a picture book of myself, I think), and the whole ceremony was in this huge cavern of bats of quaint little vampire women who shop at Kroger's in a town called Grottoes and half the people were scared of Dracul's and Am'tyville haints. All fun eventually comes to an end, even after ten years of Beth Cons and ten without, well, there are still plenty of memories, many I haven't mentioned here. But, anyhow, those summer weekends were better than most real cons I've been to, my only real regret is that there wasn't a better pain medication for me back then, and it was the only time I dressed in drag, the year we had to sing wedding songs to Jeff and Cathy, and I sang the Kinky Friedman-written "Throbbing Python Of Love." I'm certain that if our trips to the Shenendoah Valley had continued, next year's Psuedocon's catch-phrase would have been Fishnets For Vigoda.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Fishnets For Vigoda!





As I mentioned in my mass email earlier today, G.W. Ferguson and I have decided to get an Abe Vigoda Posse going, and by having as many people post "Fishnets For Vigoda" along with the photo above, well, maybe we can get a huge hit on the Googleometer. The guy deserves the fame, folks. I've got a link to his personal blog, which is updated every day just to state that he is still alive. Mind you, I was sad when Jerry Orbach died, and I'm certain Sid Ceaser will go soon. But I wish the best to Mr. Vigoda, that he makes it another fourteen years, hits the age of 100, and is guest of honor at the Chicago Summer Olympics in 2016 along the way. (On the downside, I can say that I'm more than HALF Abe Vigoda's age. The humanity!). Please read this, pass it on, and tell all of your personal commenters to post FFV on their blog. Thanks, gang. I have photos from this week's Twilight Tales readings and will post them tonight or tomorrow...Wayne