Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chicago Vienna

Just as we have our pizza, we have our hot dogs. At one time, there'd be as many Dave Berg signs hanging under the logo of a hot dog joint as there were ZIMNE PIWO signs beneath Old Style logos. I enjoy Gold Coast myself, because I can then eat the dogs as I'm walking up the steps to the el. Odds are, I'll finish my second dog just before I slap my fare card to the turnstile. You get a crapload of fries with each dog, so if I buy four dogs, I'll have a hefty bag of fries. I found a Google diagram of the perfect hot dog, Vienna-style. I miss the Dave Berg signs, though.

Six Degrees of I'm Not Certain

I will always manipulate the universe with scissors and tape. And so it was that I saved a photo of Jeff Osier from my infamous 4th of July party in 1996--infamous in that it stands as the coldest day of record, July 3rd barely hit 45 degrees--and made him hover over the two Superdawgs, which Rich has named in his comment on my previous post. Then Harry got an idea and a few years after the 4th of July AND the Amazing Colossal Superdawg photo, Harry mailed me (yes, via the USPS) what he called "Awooga," and so, when I scanned it into my computer, I kept the name intact. Now, I must tell you all that Jeff Osier is the number one believer in Superdawg's, he took his wife Cathy Van Patten there right after she moved here from Virginia, and I think they still have SD sweatshirts. I found the photo in a copy of Tribune magazine and thought, you know, I could cut around the edges of the building a slide in the photo of Jeff on the pool ladder. This is how my mind works nearly 90% of the time. What kind of goofy thing can I do next? Well, I think I'm done with Superdawg, but I thought it might be best to get these three images all in a row, for the sake of future generations.

Friday, January 30, 2009

John Locke Sees Superdawgs

"I don't care how I'm dressed, i want those Vienna hot dogs in steamed poppy-seed buns, and I want them NOW!"

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Urinating on Nazis

Seriously. Tell me that's not what is being implied here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Time Dilations

Here, again, my monthly post for Storytellers Unplugged.

Time Dilations
Wayne Allen Sallee
28 January 2009

I’m in the process of working on a book project for someone that, for the most part, takes place over the course of several hours. The meat of the book is sandwiched as a flashback between the expected setup as well as the eventual hint at a sequel. To help center the book, I put the middle part in lock down mode, quite literally, as the characters can not leave the building they have trespassed upon, and in doing so I succeeded in dilating time as well as space. Certain scenes allowed for a choreography, one I likened to the football games where a first down gets replayed in slow motion and a yellow marker draws arrows and circles amongst the players. I am enjoying how this plays out.

There is a character from the 1940s, he was actually created less than two years after Superman, named Hourman. Rex “Tick-Tock” Tyler, the Man of the Hour, worked for Bannerman Chemicals and developed the Miraclo pill, which gave him strength and stamina for an hour. And also made him comic’s first functioning drug addict. What made his eight-page adventures so enjoyable was that, after he popped a pill and started swinging his fists at thugs, a small countdown would appear in every other panel, reminding us of Hourman’s limit. 47:03. 24:00. Hourman usually beat the last armed robber with about seven seconds left on his internal clock. I often (well, you know) think of myself as Hourman, because of my pain medication. I can type pretty fast right now, but come see me around 2 AM. So, again I digress, but I really got a kick from that countdown.

The same can be said of the book I am working on, though it’s a bit more claustrophobic. Part of me wishes there was a way the book could be condensed into a twenty-four hour format, if only to have it fall into the category of “novels that take place in one day,” one of Wikipedia’s vague headings.

I’m currently reading Duane Swierczynski’s THE BLONDE. Duane’s the editor-in-chief of the Philadelphia Daily Paper and novel has a great premise (as does his current novel, SEVERANCE PACKAGE, check him out), and aside from a two page epilogue, the thriller does take place over the course of a day, each new scene giving us the time and location. The book moves along, certainly from the strength of Swierczynski’s writing, but the mention of the time in bold print works much better than starting the next chapter with “Three minutes later...” This guy has been doing some comic of late, maybe I should tell him about Hourman, if he doesn’t already know.

Most of my short fiction work by the “first 48" rule of police procedural, you gotta try your damnedest to solve the murder in two days or all bets are off. I wrote a novella about a plague, FOR YOU, THE LIVING, of which I’m thinking of turning into a novel (since zombies seem to be cooler than romantic vampires now), and that little love story covers about three months. For any of you reading this, I’m curious. What is the shortest amount of time that has transpired in any of your meaty pieces (not flash fiction or the tiny nibbles like I have in several anthologies)? Anyone?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Get Down With the Sickness

Got my anti-inflammatory shots again this morning, the last time was on election night. The doc's office is in an odd part of the city, not quite business, not quite bungalows, which gives that stretch of Pulaski a sense of desolation. Particularly when waiting for a bus and its zero. At noon. Sometimes I get one of the shots in the collarbone area, other times, when its bad like this, in the neck. Hope the webcam shot looks good, I felt it this time, the muscle right near my jugular was hard as a rock.

One of my friends down south just got over a week's worth of pneumonia, and I can honestly say that this is something I've never had to deal with. I despise having the 24 hour flu, with a passion. If I'm going to have pain, I want it to be something fantastical, not stomach cramps or a sinus headache. Bring it on! I moved to Burbank in June of 1999, roughly two miles west of where I had lived, off and on, since 1966. I got the 24 hour bug over the 4th of July weekend, then a week later, I fell and broke my right arm in three places (remarkably, the first damage ever to occur to my crippled right side) by toppling into my cousin's basement. I didn't know the arm was broken until after the drive home and I found that my arm would not bend. And so I spent the entire summer in a cast.

Well, on December 29th of that year, I fell on some patch of hard snow or something on my way home from the bus stop. My right arm hurt, but nothing like in July. Then it got red, so on the 31st I went to Advocate Christ, mostly scared because my watch face seemed to have gotten condensation in it and the hands stopped moving, plus my arm was radiating heat. I was sitting around for hours, no surprise there, what with it being the new year and the gang shootings and then the retaliation shootings. Somehow, presumably when I fell on the 29th, something had gotten into my elbow, dirt or oil, it is still a mystery. The surface temperature on my arm was 105. Whatever had infected me had gotten into the little nooks left when my broken arm had healed. I was given a shot, a week's worth of antibiotics, and it healed fairly quickly. I'm still creeped out by those photos, because I could never really position myself to see the elbow, not even in a mirror, due to how my neck moves and my right eye not being able to focus. But I'd rather go through that then have a stubbed toe any day.

And in this day of emails and Facebook, I still took the time to send my recovering buddy a postcard. Of course, I could have actually emailed him during the time he WAS sick, but I can be that way with emails.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What's Going Down In The 'Hood?

I'm not certain what is worse, my ten year old niece using that phrase her twin sister singing the Viva Viagra commercial. Well, I suppose that's as good a segue as any for the blog heading, and, you tell me, what exactly is going on the that drawing? No, not the rubber plant, though I'm sure accidents can happen there. And you know something is going on at the 666 Laundromat and its not laundry. I can't figure out if the woman is falling in the bathtub, falling OUT of the bathtub, or if that's even a strange open window and she's trying to sneak in through the fire escape and fell. Regardless, I'm applying for my license tomorrow. It has to be a better job than writing for as living.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dizz Knee Land

Whenever I hear this song again on a mix CD I have, I feel like posting about it. The song was recorded in 1992 by a band named dada and has lines like I just robbed a grocery story/I'm goin' to Disneyland/I just took out President George/I'm going to Disneyland. It's one of those songs that people dance to, and the first time I heard it I was sitting in Phyllis's Musical Inn at Division & Hermitage, eating a bowl of lemon rice soup and writing in my notebook. I had just started writing "Faded Dreams on Division Street" for Penthouse's Nightlife section, and I had been asked to contribute something and wanted to make it hit on all cylinders. 1992 was my most profitable year as I writer, thanks to my gigs at Penthouse at a buck a word, and I still believe that my article on Phyllis's, Rainbo Room, and The Bop Shop is me at my best talking about the neighborhood I grew up in, and this was years before my bitterness set in as everything turned upscale. I don't have a photo to go with it, but a few years later, I had just gotten some anti-inflammatory shots (which I'm due to get on Monday, and I cannot wait), and I was feeling as good as I can ever feel, even if its only for a few days. I was at the corner of 63rd and Kedzie, across from where the old Marquette Theater stood. The bus stop was in front of one of those nameless electronic shops with stuff piled everywhere in the windows, and all of a sudden I hear "Dizz Knee Land" playing from somewhere in the store. I let one bus go by just so I could hear the song play out. Its below zero again tonight, one of those Sprinsteen song nights I've written about, and whereas I appreciate the song being on the mix CD with the Ides of March and Blues Image and Mason Williams' "Classical Gas," I would much rather hear it the way I would Springsteen as I walked a bitter street. Hear it come out of a nameless storefront or hearing it inside an old polka bar as I sat close enough to the open door to hear the traffic on a late spring evening...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blue Green Boner Pills

I get maybe three spams a day, I never open them, but I'm often delighted by the subject headings. Case in point, earlier today. Blue Green Boner Pills. Better than the Nigerian lottery any day. I have no real image to post for my spam, so I'll instead go with Batman yet AGAIN finding Robin going too far with his auto-eroticism..

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Shape of Things That Were

Well, I had plans on discussing the latest film with the craziest title--I should write the copy, fer cry-eye, SHE'S UNDERAGE AND UNDEAD!--or exactly why Billy Ray Cyrus had his own Marvel comic in the 1990s. But earlier tonight I heard of yet more lay-offs at the print shop. Everything seemed to go to hell when the place moved from Alsip to Oak Forest. The place ran 24 hours 6 days a week, then slowly everyone saw their hours drop as the place closed at midnight, then 10 PM, and now, evidently, everyone will be gone by 5 or 6 PM. I have fonder memories of the printing plant in its old building, when I never really knew how long my shift would be on a daily basis. When I first started, it was for the 4-midnight shift, and I loved getting home at 1 AM and staying up until 4 or 5 because I knew I could sleep in. But that changed after about a year and, well, working days vs. nights is one thing, but working nights was like me and three other people, tops. And so it is that within the last year, I've seen everyone I once worked the night shift with gone, and it just makes me a bit wistful for 2006 and 2007 again. I add the photo of Wilson my roll of yellow paper at the bottom because the digital press I called my machine was the last one to leave the old building and so I was the last one to leave the old building, for two weeks last March, I was the only one at 128th and LaPorte, twelve hours a day. I needed something to keep me company, so, like Tom Hanks in CASTAWAY, I found me a roll of press paper and spent some lonely hours kicking Wilson around and practicing some skills I'd likely never use again. One of my favorite memories from the old building, it was right next to a small wooded area near the Cal Sag Channel, was when I walked out the back door at 2 AM and saw a deer beneath a full moon. I'll always remember that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mystery In Space

Well, since those magenta-hued fellows still can't believe the identity of our newly-elected President, I'll be off in space for the next few years, thanks to the combined power created by placing my Woodstock pendants on my neutron wave reverser. As I'll be travelling through the Earth-14 universe, I should actually be back sometime before the evening rush hour.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Brave New World

Just Plain Creepy

This set of photos I found on flickr, part of an abandoned building set, reminded me of a building I was stuck in, it was a dream I had as a kid, I was lost, lots of stairs with no railings and huge, bloated violet spiders swinging back and forth. At the end of a hallways was that Mr. Salty mascot, the pretzel in the sailor hat. Never knew if he was my ally or foe, as I always woke up when I saw him.

Sunset Castle & Unknown City

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This Is The End, My Friend

More of Steely Dan's shots, and there's a shot of the Archer bridge before the Orange Line was built, then the fantastic sight of the multiple bridges (Archer Bridge, Orange Line, and Interstate 55), and the nice shot of how the soupy water just slops against the wall. And, again, I cannot explain why there are new homes being built anywhere within the vicinity of the creek, though Rich suggests they might be transplants from Innsmouth, which does make sense...

Bubbly Creek Panoramic

Well, if I'm to believe the photo by Steely Dan posted correctly, then yeah, panoramic. See, at one point the South Branch of the Chicago River breaks away to become that little turdball we call Bubbly Creek, running roughly from 35th to 39th Street, not far at all. So, in answer to Bob's question, you can kayak through those fumes. Hell, they're putting a nice little group of houses up called Bridgeport Village and they more likely than not have no clue about the fumes because they only read the stock ticker or watch whatever the hell cable channel you watch when you are some rich guy's anorexic wife. Let them suck up those cow corpse germs at the next backyard BBQ. Going back to what I started and then promptly forgot, the panoramic shot will show the intersection. I stumbled across this 1905 photo of the Archer Avenue bridge being built and thought I'd slip it in here. Also, Steve. The north side wouldn't toss wine bottles in the river, they are too cool for that. No, they drink their beer out of bottles, MGD or Budweiser all the way.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bubbly Creek Via Kayak

OK, enough about comics and light bulb accidents. Yes, I flirt with death quite often. Sadly, I think I'm in Perdition. Yea, Steve, I've always thought I was the Bruce Willis character in UNBREAKABLE (more so in 12 MONKEYS), but a lot of people said I was more the Sam Jackson character. Quite a few people didn't "get" the film, I think because they aren't comic geeks. I always will be, though I am more often making my purchase based on a writer or an artist (examples being JG Jones and Alex Ross, as you by now know). Hell, I'm still geeked out over that last image of Superman & Batman, who, of course, is not dead. It's not a cop-out, though, if you are familiar with Jack Kirby's work, you'd get exactly what happened there.

Well, NOW maybe I'll get to talk about my favorite haint in Chicago. I was Googling images a few weeks ago and came up with some great posts, over thirty photos, a guy named Steely Dan took on an 11 mile kayak ride from downtown, past Bubbly Creek to about Western Avenue. I'll run maybe ten photos over the next day or so, as many of them are photos of downtown buildings. Posted here are an old radio tower, some weird square with a cannonball from the future in it, actual bubbles in the water, and the purest sign that we are on the south side of Old Style can discarded in the water. More tomorrow

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Final Crisis...Again

Issue 6 out of 7 arrived yesterday. This is the first issue that quite a bit of the artwork was not by JG Jones. For all intents, the last page is exactly as you see it, because for the next few years Bruce Wayne will not be Batman (Wayne will be back, but its confusing enough talking comics and keeping you interested w/o explaining everything, though I'll say, its not a cop-out or a sales ploy, there's a good reason why Wayne will not be around until maybe 2011). But check the final page (by Dough Mahnke) of #6 compared to JG Jones's final page in #3 (Wonder Woman, Catwoman, and Batwoman with a ball gag in her mouth), one can only imagine how Jones would have depicted the former. Something I forgot to mention in earlier posts, Grant Morrison created this wonderful Japanese superhero team led by Most Excellent Super-Bat and they are called the Super Young Team. Here is an entry from the sketchbook as well as from FC#2. I'm going to miss JG Jones's work on FC#7. Just compare those first two images, man. That second image is what my dreams look like.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Riding The Lightning

Well, I have come to the realization that I evidently cannot die. Earlier tonight I had another encounter with the dreaded Closet Light Bulb. You might recall my post from back in August, whereas I shattered the bulb with my superhuman polak/hillbilly strength and blew the electricity through half the house. A few hours ago I pushed the Mortality Envelope a bit higher (lower?)and, really, its not like I set out to do these things. The cord fell off the ceiling fixture last night, so I unscrewed the bulb and went to bed. Bought a new ceiling fixture, one of those circular things, from the Ace hardware, which constituted a half-mile walk when the mid-afternoon temps were at their highest, about ten below. So later, I'm listening to one of the CD mixes GW Ferguson sent me, and I'm on my little stool, ready to combat modern technology. I take the old fixture off, thinking, hey I'm fine, the last time I touched the filament in the bulb, and said bulb was gone. You can see where I'm going with this. I put my hand up with the new fixture and OF COURSE I touched the green wire and the red wire together. Last time, I kicked the stool over and dropped to the floor. This time, I just found myself on the floor, I had been listening to a song about Charles Whitman, the Texas Tower sniper, but then I was hearing "Do You Think I'm Psycho, Mama?" The song in between that I (kinda sorta thankfully) missed was "The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun". So there I was, maybe 6-7 minutes later and about five feet across the room. So, my theory is this: either I can't die, or every time I do, one of my alternate Earth selves is shunted over here. Wouldn't be surprised if that is what happened to PK Dick every time he OD'd on the 200 amphetamines he downed each day. I'm thinking of a story I might write and send to F&SF, where Earth-20 me, who is a very successful writer and still has all his hair to give him a David McCallum kind of look, ends up here and finds he has to suddenly be balding plus lead a pathetic and wretched life.

Speaking of PK Dick, I've also mentioned here about my joint venture with "Horatio Salt" @joymotel over on Twitter, the link to the blog (for those who'd rather read it chapter by chapter) is on the left. Well, it was mentioned today in the Boston Phoenix, by Mark Miliard, and in a second article, names @joymotel as one of the top ten Twitter novels-in-progress, with ours being the only one shared between two writers, and who have never met nor talked, no less. Here's the excerpt.

Novel idea: Twitter fiction
Post-modernism, post by 140-character post
By MIKE MILIARD | January 14, 2009 | Recommended By 2 People

Toronto ad man John Kewley — he writes concisely for a living — likens Twitter, teeming with constant updates, to a global "brainstream" where users can submerge themselves in others' thoughts, feelings, and existential particulars. So he's co-writing a language-dense, James Joyce– and Philip K. Dick–inspired Twitter sci-fi narrative, Joy Motel, the plot of which plugs the reader into the protagonist's stream of consciousness.

Kewley's writing partner, Wayne Allen Sallee, is someone he's never met. ("We've never even spoken on the telephone.") Nonetheless, they correspond online, and "share a wavelength," and one day, when Sallee tweeted Kewley with "a snippet of a film noir–sounding sentence," Kewley replied in kind. "I sent him one back, to sort of build on his, and we did about 20 of those."

The pair banged on back and forth, braced by the brevity and immediacy mandated by the medium. "You can just jump on there because you have half a thought, and then an hour later, Wayne will respond," says Kewley. "We don't know where this is going. It's real-time writing on Twitter."