Out of Bondage

by K.C. Collins

I bring you gifts
I come bearing visions
Of translucent aquamarine brilliance
Wrenched straight from the stained glass windows
Of that sheepfold someone herded you into.

Can you find me
Inside the pain I bring you?
Can you hear any ring of truth in your belltower?

Or do you only see your childhood god
shatter
and fall off his altar….

© Copyright 1999, 2013 by K.C. Collins

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Déjà Vu Revue

by Patrick Redding & Erin Abernethy

Everyone’s familiar with déjà vu, the feeling you’ve seen this before, and some of you may have seen amusing variants such as déjà doodoo (the feeling you’ve stepped in this before). Here are a few more…

déjà clue: the nagging thought that once upon a time (but you can’t remember when) you used to know what was going on

déjà snooze: the feeling you’ve slept through this before

déjà Pooh: the recognition that you’ve overeaten again, possibly so much that you’ll get stuck in the doorway as you try to leave

déjà screwed: the realization that you’ve just gone to work for a company even more horribly mismanaged than the one who fired you last week

déjà tutu: the feeling you saw these same children galloping around onstage in tights and ruffles at last year’s recital

déjà moo: the feeling that the steak on your plate might be the cow you saw grazing in your neighbor’s pasture last week

déjà Mu: the feeling you once lived in Atlantis

déjà choo-choo: the feeling you’ve missed this train before

déjà muu-muu: the feeling you’ve worn this dress before and forgot just how comfortable yet hideously ugly it was the first time

déjà glue: the embarrassing realization that you’ll be making another trip to the emergency room to get your fingers unstuck from the superglue cap again

déjà poodle: the feeling your leg’s been humped like this before

déjà LePew: the uneasy feeling that you’ve been stalked before by this same hormone-crazed French skunk

déjà loo: the recognition that you’ve thrown up in this restroom before

déjà boohoo: the feeling you’ve heard this sob story before

déjà review: the feeling you’ve studied this page of exam notes before and they don’t make any more sense now than they did then

déjà stew: the suspicion that the contents of today’s vegetable soup special might be the leftovers from last night’s salad bar

déjà Who: the awareness that you’re watching yet another CSI spin-off with yet another theme song recycled from a certain aging British rock band

déjà news: the suspicion that nothing at all happened today and you’re watching a rehash of last night’s top stories

© Copyright 2004, 2013 by Patrick Redding & Erin Abernethy

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Not Coming Anytime Soon to a Theater Near You

by Erin Abernethy & Patrick Redding

Pirates of the Carob Bean
Marauding health food nuts cruise the high seas in search of chocolate substitute.

Weasels on a Plane
Air Force One is hijacked by a vigilante demanding that the President and his cabinet come clean about election fraud, 9/11, and their ongoing deception of the American public. Can the President tell the truth to save his life?

The Rubens Code
An unlikely pair of sleuths follow clues hidden in the 17th-century master’s paintings of fleshy beauties to reveal a secret pact between the American Medical Association and the weight-loss industry.

My Super Ex-Wife
(Sequel) When a regular guy marries the super-hero girlfriend he tried to ditch in a previous flimsy plot-line, the honeymoon is over all too soon. Enter Super-wife’s Super Divorce Attorney.

The Fast and the Furry
Animated merriment and mayhem as a gang of wise-cracking squirrels terrorize spoiled children by stealing their toy cars for joyrides.

Miami Nice
Crockett and Tubbs are back, but when they discover the biggest drug ring in town is run by the senior citizens at the Sunny Sands Retirement Center, they must enlist the help of the Golden Girls to go undercover.

The Pope Wears Gucci
Small-town girl, big-city fashion magazine, yadda yadda yadda.

Semi-Final Destination
Let’s face it: you can’t really keep calling it “final” when there are already 4 sequels, can you?

Lord of the Fries
Prep school kids stranded when their bus breaks down must go to work at a fast-food joint to survive until their parents bring the minivan to pick them up.

Jowls
Thirty years later, the great white shark isn’t quite the menacing creature he used to be but he can still gnaw on your leg until you’re too tired to swim. Better not go back into the water.

Daytona Daze
It’s hard to parody something as ridiculous as watching a bunch of cars drive around in a circle for hours. Go, Johnny Hank, go! Run over somebody and make Uncle Dale proud.

© Copyright 2006 by Erin Abernethy & Patrick Redding. Republished 2011.

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The Procrastinating Photographer (or… “Dude, This Film Is OLD!”)

by K.C. Collins, P.L. Miller & Graham Ballantine

Way on the back side of the film box, so small it can hardly be read (and hence must not be terribly important, right?), is a suggestion from the manufacturer: DEVELOP PROMPTLY.

“Prompt” is, of course, a relative term. After all, when one considers the billions of years that have gone into the making of what the world is today, five or ten of those years really isn’t that long, is it? No. Not unless you’re talking about that roll of film in your camera that just might have a grainy shot of Abe Lincoln delivering his Gettysburg address. (You can bet he didn’t get those goofy looks like certain modern-day politicians – of course, he might have and you wouldn’t know, would you, because that roll of film’s still in your camera, waiting to be finished and developed. Maybe it’s better that we don’t know.)

Since several of us have worked in photo labs and darkrooms, and have had the privilege of seeing really old film on a regular basis, we’ve compiled for you some real-life examples of film left just a bit too long in the camera. (You’d never do that, of course. We know you. You always develop your film promptly.)

However…

You know your film might have been in the camera too long if…

…the kid hanging upside-down from the swing-set at his fourth birthday party in frame #2 is attending his high school graduation in frame #23.

…you’re proudly wearing your “New Kids on the Block” t-shirt, and it’s not from a reunion tour.

…the sporty new car in the pictures is the same one you had taken away to the junkyard last year because they no longer make parts for it.

…the kitchen appliances come out a sickening shade of avocado green no matter how much the lab tries to fix the color.

…in the living room shots, you can see the Watergate hearings in progress on the TV set in the background.

…your long-haired hippie brother in frame #4 is bald by frame #20.

…your house progresses through three different colors of trim during the course of the roll, and none of those are the color the trim is now.

…your size 4 girlfriend in frame #3 is your very pregnant wife by frame #22.

…the children in front of the Christmas tree are opening some large square things called “albums” instead of CDs and video games.

…as the roll progresses, you can see your husband’s entire weight-loss program: “before,” “after,” and “I swallowed a whole keg in one gulp.”

…your teenage goth-chick daughter in the Halloween shots on the end of the roll was a daffodil in the kindergarten play at the beginning of the roll.

…more than half the relatives on the roll have been dead for over five years. Some have now been dead longer than they were alive.

…at the beginning of the roll you have a two-car garage; by the end of the roll you have an SUV parked in front of an oversized storage building.

…most of the clothes you’re wearing in the pictures just sold for a quarter a piece in the neighborhood yard sale last week, and that was to a theater group who got all excited about finding “authentic period costumes.”

…the couple in the wedding pictures have divorced, are on their second marriages to other people, and you can only share these special photo-memories with them if you feel like getting slapped.

© Copyright 2005, 2007, 2011 by K.C. Collins, P.L. Miller & Graham Ballantine

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The Man in the Muckmobile

by Erin Abernethy

It’s 11:15 a.m. I’m sitting in line at the drive-through of my favorite local fast-food place. The car ahead of me looks as though it might have been recently dredged up from the bottom of the lake – mud caked over the entire thing, a few unruly weeds sticking to the wheel rims and rear bumper. There could be a body in the trunk, for all I know.

The driver sounds as though he’s probably the one who managed to get it into the bottomless sludge-pit (heaven knows how he got it back out – maybe the water level dropped). He has that loud, drawling voice that people get when they’ve been drinking heavily and their ears have become so numb they can’t hear themselves but they still have just enough wit to know they’re being misunderstood.

“I neeeeeed… four… no, three… three shaw… saw… show… SOFT-shell tacos… with hot sauce… and-a extry-large cuppa ice,” he manages.

The loudspeaker crackles something unintelligible, and the man stares at it intently. There is silence for a moment, and then another crackle that sounds vaguely like a question or a request for clarification. He begins to repeat himself, leaning out the window far enough that I can see his bright-red face. “I SAID… I need… THREE SOFTSHELL TACOS… with…”

This time I can hear the girl on the speaker all the way back where I’m waiting. “Sir, we don’t have any tacos.”

“Huh?”

“We don’t have any tacos.”

“You done run outta tacos?” he howls pitifully. Fumbling with his shirtsleeve, he peers at his watch. “Why, it ain’t but a little after eleven in th’ mornin’, an’ you done run outta TACOS?!”

“No, sir, we don’t HAVE tacos.”

This obviously throws him for a loop. He sits there dumbfounded for a moment, his arm hanging limply over the side of the mud-encrusted door. “Well, how can you be a Taco Bell… an’ NOT have TACOS?” he demands belligerently.

“This isn’t Taco Bell. This is McDonald’s,” the voice on the loudspeaker informs him.

This news seems to come as another surprise to him, as he twists around, leaning out his window in search of a sign. Evidently he’s missed the huge yellow “M” on the speaker he’s been staring at and conversing with so intently. “You’re kiddin’ me!” he exclaims.

“Sir? Could–ah–could we get your order, please?” I can see the girl in the drive-through window as she takes note of the line of cars starting to form behind the misguided taco lover.

“Well, shoot. I need me some tacos, an’ y’all don’t have ’em,” he mutters reproachfully, as though this is entirely her fault, as though they changed the menu just before he pulled into the parking lot. “Tacos an’ hot sauce helps settle my stomach,” he adds, as though this explanation will magically fix everything wrong with his world. “Oh, wait – y’all got them breakfast burritos, don’tcha?”

“Yes, but we stopped serving breakfast at 10:30.”

“Oh. Dang, I sure do need me some tacos an’ hot sauce. Whaddya got that’s sorta like that?”

“You… could… um… try a cheeseburger with some of our new chipotle barbecue sauce?” she suggests.

“Is it hot? That-there sauce you’re talkin’ about?”

“It’s… well, it’s spicier than our original barbecue sauce.”

“Allrighty, fix me a couple o’ them, then. And-a cuppa ice, extry-large.”

“Two cheeseburgers, with chipotle barbecue sauce packets, and an extra-large cup of ice. Your total is $2.61, please drive around to the first window.”

“Is that all? Hey, I gotta come here more often,” he hoots, creeping the muckmobile around to the window. It could be my imagination, but I think the drive-through girl turns just a little bit paler.

We wait while he digs around in various parts of his car, searching for loose change. Eventually the line moves, and as we pull around to the pick-up window, a leaking garden hose strung across the parking lot sprays water over the back bumper of his car, rinsing off just enough of the mud for me to make out the bumper sticker underneath.

It says “Jesus Is My Co-Pilot.”

© Copyright 2005 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2007, 2011.

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Changing a Light Bulb by Astrological Signs

by Steven Valentine & Patrick Redding

Aries: Won’t change the bulb. Keeps poking irritably at the old one and insisting that it’s just a short in the wiring & will come back on any time now. Then manages to set the house on fire while trying to rewire the thing.

Taurus: Eventually changes the bulb (once he’s convinced himself that it really has burned out and is never coming back on) but can’t bring himself to throw the old one away.

Gemini: Sweet-talks you into changing it because he’s way too busy talking on the phone. Both lines.

Cancer: Informs you that it’s your job to change the light bulb because vertigo runs in his family and makes it impossible for him to climb ladders.

Leo: Spends several hours first announcing to everyone present that he’s going to change the light bulb. When he finally gets around to actually doing it, he does change the light bulb but also angles the socket so that the light cast on him is more flattering. Spends the rest of the day making certain everyone knows he did it.

Virgo: Changes the light bulb as soon as it burns out. Before it even has a chance to cool off. While he’s at it, he also cleans the lamp globe, the cobwebs, the top of the dresser, the stepladder he’s standing on, the tops of those door frames (dust mites, you know, they’re terrible), and does anyone have a Q-tip and some denatured alcohol to get the rust off the mounting screws for the globe?

Libra: Goes to the store to buy a new bulb. Gets distracted by all the different colored bulbs and spends the next three hours choosing one to buy, then changing his mind & running back to get a different one, repeating over & over. If he actually makes it home with a purchase, it will be one of every bulb the store had, and you’ll be expected to render an opinion while he tries each one in the socket to see which one suits the room best.

Scorpio: Would rather sit in the dark anyway. It keeps people from wanting to look into the windows.

Sagittarius: Wants to play rock-paper-scissors with you to determine who has to change the bulb, then (if he loses) tells you that you shouldn’t use such cheap bulbs anyway.

Capricorn: Changes the light bulb himself (making certain to replace it with an energy-efficient cost-cutter bulb) because he knows no one else will do it correctly.

Aquarius: Mobilizes a community-action group to hand out fliers about the energy-saving benefits of using only one light bulb in a dual-socket ceiling fixture.

Pisces: Will change the bulb, but will also subject you to the pitiful tale of how they didn’t have electric lights in the house where he grew up and had to make their own candles.

© Copyright 2001 by Steven Valentine & Patrick Redding. Republished 2007, 2011.

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Rafting on the Stream of Consciousness

by Erin Yes

[Editor’s note: This is an an early excerpt from the novel Tally: An Intuitive Life. I would recommend reading her article “Living Alive” first, simply to acquaint yourself with the ideas and characters that appear in this piece. –RC]

I asked him what he meant by “living alive.”

“Living alive, in its simplest form,” Tally said, “is a matter of consciousness, specifically of the experience of living as it occurs.”

I was so concerned with carrying on his work, his legacy, being his living inheritance, that again I had lost sight of my own perspective and beliefs.

In the spring I had a dream in which I saw my stream of consciousness.

“I had a dream about the stream of consciousness,” I told him. “I was at the top of a hill, watching people get into small boats and raft down a stream, and I became more intrigued because they seemed to be so gleeful, and people kept encouraging me to try it. So I got into this little skiff and started down, and the stream crisscrossed the hill going downhill faster and faster, but even though I was going fast I could see everything below me in the water, and on the river bottom, as if in slow motion. I felt like I could pick out each individual thing. The water was extremely clear and there were living things in it, and a feeling of being completely alive in the moment but knowing it’s passing. It was beautiful.”

As I glided from the top of the hill where people stood talking toward the bottom in a sinuous track, looking into the stream I saw and experienced and apprehended things as they went by. Mysteries began to be revealed through a voice speaking, the speakers’ revelations and reasoning following me downstream, but affecting me less and less as all sorts of beautiful and unusual objects and living things were in the stream, and I was mesmerized by them, by my connection to them without physicality, each as it passed by. I woke up with a feeling of amusement at the experience/analysis and an overwhelming awareness of beauty.

“Rafting on the stream of consciousness.” He laughed, and I was glad to see the pain in his face and body ease.

“In retrospect even though I saw many things,” I said, “I don’t think I had the time to take in a lot of them. They were vivid and wonderful, though, and more than just impressions. I don’t think I had any inclination to reach out and capture, to possess any of them.”

This dream made me conscious again of myself as separate from Tally/TE, and that I am more of a poet and he more of an intellectual. They reminded me that I am not like him, not his identical twin. I experience the world differently. Since then, I have been able to work with him.

We worked on this:

One tries to penetrate one’s stream of consciousness as much as possible, for there are layers and levels and aspects to it (as with all things).

We can attend to only so much of what is happening in our lives at any one instant, so we unconsciously select from the great array, and these fragments become our memory.

Becoming conscious of one’s life as one lives it, or as nearly as one can, is the aim of the intellectually perceptive person.

Tally had been referred to a young female psychologist. His descriptions of her visits were amusing. He had a different concept of the mind from psychiatry’s concept.

“In one case,” he clarified, “you have the stream of consciousness running continuously in your consciousness, not your mind.”

“Do you think consciousness is separate from the mind?”

They are connected, he said, but one is cosmic and the other individual and limited. “Most people think that the mind directs their actions and words, but the mind has almost nothing to do with it, whatsoever, and that’s the reason the whole psychological system as taught is fallacious. Dr. M. is a nice young woman, except that she has old-fashioned prejudices that are absolutely unbearable to me. She asked me, you’re a fighter, aren’t you? I said, No, of course I’m not a fighter. I’ve never fought for anything in my life. If I have to fight for it, it’s not worth getting.”

I knew he would say this, because of the time lost in hostility and the cost to his innocence.

“What were you supposed to be fighting for?”

“I was supposed to be a fighter for my own life. Then she brings on this: where is your faith? I said, What do you think I’ve been going three years and ten months on, if not faith? Her ideas are very old-fashioned and cut and dried.”

Tally called Rogue and got Bardette.

“Listen, B, I’ve misplaced my paranoia. Looked everywhere. Can’t find it.”

She giggled.

“Rogue was here yesterday, may he know where I lost it?”

“Rogue is downstairs. I’ll have him call you when he comes up, in a few minutes. Maybe he can help.”

A little later Rogue called back.

“Mission accomplished.” Tally smiled at me.

I answered with my own smile.

“I thought of Rogue and his contribution because it was very strong,” Tally said. “We spent hours and hours and hours of word play, back and forth talk. Many of my ideas were developed through ideas which he indicated to me were worth developing.”

Memo to Eyes arrived soon after. “If she thinks she can outwit the tender thread of human relationships, the old man wonders what she has to learn.” And then cryptically, “Love has far more potency, even if a delusion, than any other human experience.” It was signed, “The Writer.”

“I know you want the Company to succeed,” I told him, “but why are you hanging on to it like life itself?”

“Three of us formed the company; one leaves. But the company is in tune with the universal stream of consciousness.”

“I’m not sure I feel that.”

“When we work together, we reaffirm it. Rogue has grown separate in his freedom from the two. The new world begins for the company.”

Immediately he wrote to Rogue: “You know, Rogue, the old man well knows your personal relation (separate) with Eyes, hers with you. Separation at this time is obviously necessary. In separation, we three live, reaffirm and have a future together until the old man goes underground, then Rogue and Eyes will continue. The eternity of human relationships.”

© Copyright 2011, 2013 by Erin Yes

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