Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dog walks: 8/28/11

1:00 PM

The power went out in our house around ten AM, so no television, no radio, and no internet. So I did what I usually do when I'm cut off from the world: I went to sleep.

When I woke up at one PM, my options had expanded slightly. The rain had paused, so I was able to walk the dogs. (Trying to walk a basenji in the rain is like trying to drive a car with the parking break on. You can do it, but you'll wish you hadn't.) The dogs didn't seem to mind the gusty winds, so we were able to make our way through town like it was a normal walk. Newport was even more deserted today than it was yesterday. All the tourists had cleared out, and only we townies were left. The power was off throughout Newport, so the few businesses that hadn't chosen to close had the choice made for them. The only exception was Benjamin's Raw Bar on Thames Street, which had managed to keep busy by attracting everyone who was still in town and was looking for a place to go.

While I was passing by the hotel where I worked (which was closed for the weekend due to the storm, and now also due to the power outage), I noticed a man struggling to close one of the gates. As the dogs and I passed by, I recognized him as the hotel's general manager. I asked him how the building had weathered the previous night's storm surge, and he told me that the sea hadn't quite made it over the sea wall, and everything was still unflooded. However, there would be another storm surge during the next high tide, and it was expected to be higher.

The dogs and I went on our way, passing through the wind-tossed trees, which were shedding leaves and twigs at a fantastic rate, with the occasional good-sized branch thrown in. When we got back to the house at two-thirty, the power was still out.

7:30 PM

If you can't watch television and you can't surf the internet, you can still read books, and that's how I spent most of that stormy Sunday afternoon, perched in a chair next to my bedroom window. I finished Murray Leinster's Twists in Time and started Edmond Hamilton's Battle for the Stars. I was four chapters into Hamilton's space opera when the light from the window grew too dim to see by. It was seven-thirty in the evening, and I decided to take the dogs for another walk.

I walked the dogs through the dimming light. Most of the street lights were out, but apparently the city has a few that are hooked up to an emergency generator, and those provided an occasional island of artificial light. More light was shed by the headlights of passing cars, which acted like moving spotlights running through the otherwise almost-unlit city. Perrotti Park fronts on Newport Harbor, and as the dogs and I were passing through, I could see the sea, which was heaving like a freshman at his first kegger. We must still have been a few hours from high tide, because the sea was at least three feet below the top of the sea wall. I thought then that there was a distinct chance that the hotel would make it through the hurricane unflooded.

We were going up Thames Street towards Washington Square, and it was all dim night, lit by occasional car headlights and even more occasional street lights, and then . . . suddenly, there was an island of light and noise. The Brick Alley Pub had its own emergency generator, and it was lit up like Times Square and open for business. The sheer normality of it made it the strangest thing of all on that strange night.

Eisenhower Park was so choked with fallen branches and so dark that I passed it by. The dogs and I made our way up Broadway entirely by the light of passing car headlights, until we reached City Hall, which also had its own generator, and was also lit, though not as extravagantly as the Brick Alley. The dogs and I paused there for a minute before starting on the final leg of our journey home. Back in the house, I fixed dinner for the cats by flashlight, then went upstairs to my bedroom with the dogs, lying down in the dark room and listening to the gusting wind and the occasional emergency vehicle rushing through the night.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dog walk: 8/27/11

Hurricane Irene seemed reluctant to start raining on Newport this afternoon, so I decided to take the dogs on a final pre-sucky-weather walk through the town. The sky is overcast, and there's some fog hanging around parts of Aquidneck Island, and it's really muggy, but temps are in the mid-70s, so it's actually not bad dog-walking weather.

It's the weekend before Labor Day weekend, and normally a Saturday afternoon would see Newport swarming with tourists. Today, the sidewalks were practically deserted. In the course of our walk, I only had two different groups stop and ask me what kinds of dogs these were, and only two children asked if they could pet the dogs (the answer is always yes, because the basenjis always enjoy being petted). Most of the businesses were closed, and had their windows boarded up in anticipation of the storm, though there were exceptions like the Barking Crab restaurant. One of the plywood boards I saw had been spraypainted with the message GOODNIGHT IRENE.

I stopped in at my workplace along the way, and discovered much to my astonishment that it was shutting down today. I knew that we were going to be closed tomorrow night, due to fears that it would be flooded by the coming storm surge, but I thought I would be working tonight. Not so, and nobody had thought to inform me. So, for the next two nights, it'll just be me, the basenjis, and Irene.

"The Menace from Andromeda" by Schachner and Zagat, part 2



This is the second installment of "The Menace from Andromeda", the third published story by Nat Schachner and Arthur Leo Zagat. It originally appeared in the April 1931 issue of Amazing Stories magazine, and has never been republished.

As we join our story, the brilliant young astronomer Donald Standish has discovered that a planet in the Andromeda nebula he named Alcoreth is actually composed of living matter. However, since Alcoreth has disappeared, he is unable to prove it to the scientific community. He decides instead to discuss the matter with his fiancée Mary Cameron and her brother Douglas, a cancer researcher in Colorado.




* * *

Alcoreth heaved herself in long undulations that caused a plashing of luminous vibration in the surrounding ether. For Alcoreth was hungry. Eons of slow starvation stretched everlastingly ahead. Already huge vacuoles were dotting her interior, as the plasmic matter shrank and shriveled away. The food supply was disappearing -- no more did rocky crags of green and purple hue rise above Alcoreth's bosom. Only the inner core of minerals remained -- and that was wearing dangerously thin over vast alcorethean fires.

Never to be forgotten was that frightful time when, questing for food to still the retching hunger, she had greedily absorbed too large a section of life reaching bottom rock, and torn through the thin layer.

In an instant, the devastating flames had leaped and seared through the protoplasmic tissue. The very thought of it caused vast shudders to course through Alcoreth. For ages, the hellish fire spewed and roared -- devouring, incinerating -- bringing the tortures of the damned to her viscid frame. In agony, she heaved and twisted, but to no avail. Her sister spheres gazed on in helpless pity, but could render no aid. That final period -- when annihiliation seemed imminent -- and almost welcome -- a slipping of the rocky substratum had miraculously closed the gap, and once again imprisoned the ravaging fires. Slowly, painfully, and with difficulty, Alcoreth recreated sufficient plasma to cover the wounded surfaces; but her marvelous powers of reproduction were lessened. Since that fateful time, she only nibbled gingerly at the food rocks, and the pangs of hunger grew and grew.

Message after message for assistance was sent on ethereal vibration to her sister spheres in that vast universe, and ever and anon some being kindlier than the rest would disrupt a fragment of the precious mineral, and cast it meteor-like through space towards the starving world. But these were mere sops. Alcoreth foresaw the inevitable. Already had protoplasmic worlds come to the end of their food supply, and either broken through to the central fires, and flamed through space like blazing torches to imponderable dust; or, cannibal-like, devoured their own substance -- until the last pitiful bit of plasmic intelligence curled up on itself and died.

Alcoreth was determined to avoid either of these fates. But how? For an eon her highly developed intelligence, diffused throughout her structure, brooded over the problem. Speculatively she vibrated in unison with the etheric waves from the galaxy of the Milky Way, of which Earth was so minute a member. A quiver ran through her -- causing a strange luminescence to run riot over the surface of her body. The solution was found -- desperate, fantastic -- failure meant annihiliation -- but then, so eventually did the present state. So Alcoreth set to work to do what was needful for the great adventure.

In this strange universe, electrons and protons had whirled just as naturally into the rhythmic forms of life -- protoplasm -- primitive plasm, as in our universe they had danced into the common rocks and minerals. Here, the first bits of plasma were causal in their beginnings; taking sustenance out of the abundant mineral elements; slowly and laboriously evolving and growing more and more complex through differentiation of structure and function; and culminating in highly complex man. There the cooling mist of electrons patterened overwhelmingly into diffused plasm, with enough of other elements to create a normal food supply. Each world was a living entity; there was no necessity for differentiation of parts; intelligence was inherent and diffused throughout the entire mass, just as is found in the primitive unicellular animals and plants on earth.

The early forms of terrestrial life were able to absorb and digest mineral matter directly. In the universe of Andromeda, evolution had advanced further in that direction. Solid rock was ingested and digested rapidly and easily. Through eons of time, the vast inchoate consciousness of the mass developed into a highly energized intelligence, that could grasp intuitively problems far beyond our highest flights -- and could communicate with other life-worlds by etheric vibrations. Mental states were marked by tremendous luminosity over the surface of the plasma, which in turn set the ether into rapid vibration.

Alcoreth was busily at work. All over her body, she was rolling up into globules of protoplasm. The surfaces of these hardened into cell walls or cysts. Alcoreth was now dissociated into countless trillions of spores -- as we call them. Each spore was in itself a unit of life, in a state of suspended animation; capable of resisting the frigid cold of space; capable of existing thus through countless ages; and expanding into life anew under favorable conditions.

Clerk-Maxwell, the great English physicist, toward the latter part of the nineteenth century, proved that light had a definite propulsive force, and that particles of matter, if minute enough, could be propelled through the ether with tremendous velocities by the electromagnetic rays of light. Svante August Arrhenius, the eminent Swedish biologist, used this discovery as a basis for bold speculation. Was it not possible -- he argued -- for minute spores of life to pass through interstellar space from world to world, and germinate anew on barren, uninhabited worlds?

All this Alcoreth knew as elemental truths. If only some of her spores could land on some far-off world, unaccountably and strangely formed of mineral matter solely -- there to burgeon and grow with lightning-like rapidity in the midst of such plenty -- what a marvelous rebirth! For inherent in each spore was the intelligence of the mass, and Alcoreth would exist anew in the alien universe.

Finally all was in readiness. The time for the perilous emprise had come! The teeming aggregate of spores concentrated their mighty intelligence. They heaved and swelled. Weird radiances played over their surfaces. Huge luminous masses propelled themselves into space. Cloud after cloud of spore forms tore themselves loose, and shot forward. The tremendous journey was begun! Never in all the history of the universe was there a stranger migration!

Criss-crossing the illimitable void were innumerable light vibrations. Instantly the spores were scattered in all directions, caught up by onrushing waves, carried along with the speed of light, scurrying towards the uttermost confines of space-time.

On -- on -- through the illimitable void! Ages -- eons -- thousands and hundreds of thousands of light years -- never ceasing -- never slackening in their headlong flight! Past mighty suns -- past strange planets -- past pale nebulosities -- past pallid shapes of interspacial denizens -- past rushing comets with hair afire -- past meteors, debris of uncounted worlds -- on -- on! Whole universes waxed great and waned to pin pricks in the darkling void! On! On!

The Milky Way -- a bend of light waves past the Sun -- the earth planet loomed vast -- a gravitational pull was exerted -- and a cloud of spores had reached the end of their tremendous flight. Slowly through the warm air they settled and floated and dropped to the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.



Friday, August 26, 2011

"The Menace from Andromeda" by Schachner and Zagat, part 1

It's been way too long since the Johnny Pez blog revived a lost-and-forgotten science fiction story from the Gernsback Era. Starting today, therefore, we will be posting "The Menace from Andromeda" by Nat Schachner and Arthur Leo Zagat, from the April 1931 issue of Amazing Stories.

Schachner and Zagat were a pair of lawyers who decided to start writing pulp fiction together. Their writing partnership only lasted two years, after which both continued to write pulp fiction separately. Schachner eventually branched out to writing historical novels and biographies until his death in 1955, while Zagat remained a pulp writer until his own death in 1949.

"The Menace from Andromeda" was the pair's third published story, and their first appearance in Amazing. In the eighty years since its initial magazine publication, it has never been reprinted. As always, the story will be posted in a blog-friendly multi-part format. And now, without further ado, part 1 of:



The Menace from Andromeda
by Nat Schachner and Arthur Leo Zagat


With a puzzled frown, Donald Standish looked up from the photographic plates in front of him to the patch of dark blue heaven visible through the half-opened dome of the Mt. Wilson observatory. There floated the enigmatic nebula of Andromeda -- the huge telescope probing directly toward it -- as if to pluck out the very secret of its being. He arose, and paced the confines of the huge room. Under thirty, clean cut in features, he had already earned an enviable reputation as an astronomer, which had won him a coveted place in the world famous observatory. From the very beginning, the great nebula had exercised a peculiar fascination over him. In some inexplicable way Standish had always felt that there lay the secret of the universe waiting for him in the rôle of a Perseus to deliver and bring forth.

In truth, many other contemplative observers had speculated about that faint, dusty patch of light sprawled athwart the enchained and enchanted body of the legendary daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia. For centuries men had pondered in vain, seeking the nature of the faint light-cloud which so persistently evaded their probings. It was not until recently, with the great advance in the manufacture and use of precision instruments and telephoto lenses, that the astounding truth had been revealed to startled astronomers -- this faint glimmer in the skies is a great island universe of stars; far beyond the confines of our own galaxy -- millions on millions of suns and attendant planets, careening through the outermost reaches of space-time, so inconceivably remote that a ray of light traveling 186,000 miles per second would take nearly a million years to reach the earth.

Standish turned once more to the sheaf of photographs. Yes -- there was no doubt about it, the faint pin-prick of light labeled on the sky charts as 12478, which he had himself named Alcoreth, showed an unmistakable increase in brightness in this most recent of his photographs.

For over a year, on every clear night, he had photographed the great nebula. The minute pin-pricks of light, representing huge stars, had been laboriously ticketed and compared. This queer behavior on the part of Alcoreth, hitherto a placid, ordinary star, aroused his interest.

"Something interesting happening to the constellation of that old lady," Donald remarked to himself, meditatively stroking his chin. "I'd better turn the prisms on her and see what's going on in her innards to account for it."

Deftly he adjusted the great spectroscope, and swung it on the errant orb. As he gazed, a startled "Whew" escaped him. These were not the spectral lines and bands customarily associated with hot gaseous stars in eruption.

"This is becoming more interesting -- better verify it," he thought. Quickly he took out his series of comparison spectra. None of them checked with this spectrum.

Again he arose, and paced the room. This was evidently not a burning sun. Apparently it was a relatively cold mass. What then was it? Was it shining by reflected light? But, he argued with himself, there was no sun within billions of miles to produce such a vast outpouring of reflected light. There must be some other cause for its luminosity. Excitedly Standish paced about. Luminescence -- phosphorescence. This must be a world composed of some radio-active mineral! He strode back to the spectroscope. No, these were not the characteristic lines of any radio-active mineral known to science. Again he took up his restless pacing. The word phosphorescence brought to his mind pictures of the fields at night alive with the darting sparks of fireflies -- of the forests, and the glow of rotting fungus and decaying wood -- of the tropic seas under the Southern Cross, criss-crossed with pallid witch-fires.

He stopped in his tracks. By George, that was it! Life forms -- protoplasm -- under certain conditions would become strongly luminescent. But no -- that was too fantastic for serious consideration. And yet -- and yet. Try as he would to dismiss the thought from his mind, it occurred again and again, until it obsessed him. He must check it, and that this very minute.

In the course of his researches, Standish had discovered that by causing the light of luminiferous protoplasm to pass through a series of gases, the spectroscope was capable of resolving the constituent elements. As yet the process was a guarded secret, but the material was at hand.

With trembling hands the astronomer set up four thin walled transparent chambers, put into each a definite quantity of a rare gas -- different for each chamber -- attached them in series to the great spectroscope in such a fashion that the light from Alcoreth passed through them, before reaching the prisms that would cause it to yield up its secret.

"What an idiot I am to waste my time on such a crazy idea!" he scoffed aloud, at the same time looking around guiltily. "It's damn foolish, all right, but what's the odds. Let's take a look-see." He inserted a comparison spectrograph of the organic elements, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur and phosphorus -- the essentials of life as we know it on this planet.

With elaborate carelessness, hardly masking his inner trepidation, he gazed into the aperture. The spectrum appeared. A quick look, a longer one, then a concentrated stare -- a feverish scribbling of calculations -- then he arose with a mighty shout, that echoed from the great white dome. "Eureka, I have found it!" The cry of Archimedes on making his famous discovery. The impossible was true. The life elements were all present on that distant star, and what was infinitely more, its spectrum showed the peculiar arrangement of lines and bands which his research had shown was invariably associated with living protoplasm.

His immediate impulse was to broadcast his discovery to the scientific world. But then a thought sobered him. So fantastic a theory would never be accepted unless supported by impregnable proof. Premature publication, and he would become a laughing-stock. No, he must wait until his spectroscopic research was perfected. In the meantime, keep on observing this strange new world.

For three weeks he took innumerable photographs, barely pausing for sleep and food. The star increased in brightness, then tiny streamers shot forth intermittently, then slowly it waned. From a fifteenth magnitude star it passed gradually down the scale, till finally a last plate failed to show any trace of it. Alcoreth was gone, and with her, Standish's hope of everlasting fame.

The astronomer was in despair. How now could he convince the scoffers that he had witnessed the impossible -- a world of living protoplasm! His proof was gone.

Yet, when he pondered over it -- it did not seem impossible. Life -- protoplasm -- was only a particular combination of five or six elements. These elements are found throughout the universe. Was it inherently impossible, or even wildly improbable, for these elements to combine in some other world to form living matter, just as on our own earth various elements combined to form the rocks that constitute the structure of the world?

So Standish argued, and thought wistfully of Douglas Cameron, his chum of college days, now a research worker on cancer in an isolated laboratory in the fastnesses of Colorado. He thought of Douglas and his sister and assistant Mary. Those two would listen to his tale of discovery. How he wished Mary was with him now! Well, another month and she would be with him always, his wife and helpmate. He could see her now, the laughing eyes, tilted nose, puckered lips. She was fair to look upon, his Mary, but wiry and strong, and behind that clear brow was a brain which made her fit sister to one scientist and wife to another.

"Well, to work again," he sighed, and continued the search for living worlds.


(continue to part 2)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Prophecy 7

The Prophecies of Johnny Pez resume, as I am once again seized by the prophetic trance. Will this nightmare never end?



The days grow dark and the nights last for years
When the demon sun blights the telescope
Radio waves are shedding tears for fears
As nations ride down the slippery slope

Awful as these quatrains may be to contemplate, rest assured they are even more awful to compose.

(continue to Prophecy 8)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rocky Jones Chapter Nine

My ongoing project to novelize the 1954 television space opera Rocky Jones, Space Ranger continues. Chapter Nine is now up at the Rocky Jones blog. This chapter covers episode two of the series, "Beyond the Curtain of Space, Chapter II" from the 15:08 mark to the 17:36 mark.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Turn the dial

Time for an embedded music video. Today it's "Whirring" by The Joy Formidable.



UPDATE October 4, 2011: because I just can't get enough of TJF, here's "The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade" recorded live at WFUV New York on March 1, 2010.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dog walk: 8/21/11

I took the basenjis out for a walk yesterday afternoon, as I always do when the weather permits. There were the usual comments from passers-by, but a couple stand out, and I thought I'd mention them.

I was passing by the People's Cafe on Thames Street, and two women sitting at a table out front asked me what kind of dogs I had. I brought them over for the women to see, and one of them took out her iPhone and began to take pictures of them. It turned out that she had lost her own dog to old age the month before, and she was looking for another dog to replace her. I sat down at the table with her and talked about where the basenjis were from, where I had got them, and what it was like to own one. Every few minutes, a passer-by would stop and ask what kind of dogs they were, which the woman found charming. Klea spent the time trying to get at a bag of kettle corn in the woman's purse, while Louis became bored and kept trying to get out of his harness (and succeeding once), which the woman also found charming. By the time I left her fifteen minutes later to resume my walk, she had just about decided that she would be getting herself two basenjis.

Later during that walk, I was on William Street, and a woman who was just getting out of a parked car said, "Are those basenjis?" It turned out that she had owned a black-and-white basenji back in the 1950s, and she still had fond memories of the breed. She was very pleased at the chance to stop and pet Louis and Klea, and to reminisce about her own basenji.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lost in Camelot

Because there isn't enough Laverne & Shirley fanfic on the internet (and because I've always had a thing for Penny Marshall), I now present a sample of the genre that a wrote about ten years ago:


Lost in Camelot

by Johnny Pez


Washington, D.C.
September 9, 1961

Laverne De Fazio and Shirley Feeney were the last two members of the tourgroup to enter the White House. Laverne, who believed in travelling light, had her purse slung around her shoulder. Shirley, who tended to go overboard, was weighted down by her own purse, two different cameras, and half a dozen bags full of recently-bought souvenirs. Laverne's efforts to listen to the tour guide's spiel were being drowned out by her friend's enthusiastic gushing.

"LaVERNE! Can you beLIEVE it? We are actually standing in the WHITE HOUSE!" She was snapping pictures of the furniture, the walls, the ceiling, the potted plants, everything.

"Could you put a cork in it, Shirl? I'm trying to hear the tour guide, here!"

Shirley, momentarily deflated, paused long enough for Laverne to make out the words "--burned by the British on August 24th, 1814, it was--". Then Shirley started up again.

"Gosh, Laverne, do you think we might see President Kennedy?"

"Grow up, Shirl, they ain't gonna let us get anywhere near him."

"You never know, Laverne, he might decide to come downstairs for a snack!"

"Shirl," said an exasperated Laverne, "he's the President of the freaking United States! If he wants a snack, they'll bring him a snack!"

"Why do you always have to be such a pessimist, Laverne?"

"I'm not being a pessimist! I'm just telling you--"

"You are too being a pessimist! Whenever I try to bring a little romance--"

"--that John F. Kennedy doesn't need to get his own snacks--"

"--you always have to make some mean little--"

"--and you get all huffy with me--"

"--comment when you know--"

"--like I'm trying to--"

"--how much I--"

"..." Laverne reached up a hand and covered Shirley's mouth. Shirley continued making indignant "mmm mmm" sounds for a few seconds before falling silent.

The two girls looked around. The rest of their tour group was gone. They were alone.

Laverne removed her hand. "Shirl, did you see where everyone went?"

"No. Did you?"

"No."

"Oh, Laverne," Shirley whined, "what if they catch us here and they think we're Russian spies? They'll send us both to PRISON!"

Laverne's mind had turned to more practical matters. "If we can find our way back to the front door, we should be all right."

"Or maybe they'll even EXECUTE us like they did the Rosenbergs!"

"Would you snap out of it, Shirl?"

Oblivious, Shirley continued, "And then our names will go down in history as traitors! They'll call us Laverne and Shirley Arnold!"

"Shut up about executions, will you Shirl? Try and remember the way back to the front door."

Shirley shook the visions of electric chairs from her head, and looked around. They were standing in a T intersection. Shirley pointed down one of the corridors and said, "I think we came in that way."

"Right, let's go," said Laverne. She grabbed Shirley's hand and led the way down the indicated corridor. That ended in another T intersection, and Laverne led the two of them down the left hand passageway. Unfortunately, after turning a couple of corners, that led them to the bottom of a stairway.

"I don't remember coming down any stairs," said Shirley.

"Right," said Laverne, "we'll go back the other way." The two girls turned around and threaded their way back the way they came. Somehow, though, instead of reaching the last intersection, the corridor led to another upward stairway.

"Do you think we could have gotten turned around?" wondered Shirley.

"I don't see how," said Laverne. "I guess we got no place to go but up." So saying, she started up the stairs.

"Laverrrrrrne," Shirley squeaked as she followed her friend, "we can't go up there! The President lives up there!"

"Maybe we can get Jackie to show us the way back to the front door," said Laverne.

After three or four turns, the stairway led up to a closed door. Laverne shrugged, turned the doorknob, and went inside. Shirley, her mind assaulted by fresh visions of electric chairs, followed.

They were in a dimly-lit bedroom with a large four-poster bed. Sheets were draped over a couple of chairs, and heavy curtains drawn across the room's only window kept out the afternoon sun. Shirley automatically closed the door to the stairway, then panicked and tried to open it up again. It refused to budge.

"Laverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrne," she squeaked again, "we're trapped in here!"

"No we're not, Shirl," said Laverne. "There's another door on the other side of the room. See?"

As soon as Laverne had pointed out the other door, its doorknob began to rattle. Someone was coming into the room! They would be caught here and executed as Russian spies! Without thinking, Shirley abandoned her bags of souvenirs and dove underneath the bed. Laverne quickly joined her there.

The two girls heard the door open, and two sets of footsteps entered the room. A woman's breathy voice said, "Jack, what if someone finds us here?"

A man with a familiar Boston accent said, "Don't worry, Marilyn, there hasn't been anyone in this room since the err Hahding administration. Now come heah you little err vixen!"

Two bodies crashed into the bed above Laverne and Shirley.


(probably not to be continued)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Skeptical Drunk

We continue our taxonomy of inebriates with a specimen I call the Skeptical Drunk. The Skeptical Drunk wants something, is absolutely certain you have it, and will utterly refuse to believe that you don't. It might be more alcohol, an available room, or the name of a restaurant that's still open in Newport at three in the morning. Whatever it is, the Skeptical Drunk wants it, and won't take no for an answer. A conversation with the Skeptical Drunk will usually go something like this:

SD: Have you got a room for the night?

Me: I'm sorry, we don't have any rooms available tonight.

SD: Come on, you must have a room.

Me: No, we're completely booked up. We have no rooms.

SD: You're telling me that you don't have any rooms?

Me: That's right, we don't have any rooms.

SD: Come on, you must have a room.

Me: No, we don't have any rooms.

SD: Hey, I know how you guys do business. You always keep a room open for the owner.

Me: No, if the owner wants a room, he has to book in advance, just like everyone else.

SD: Come on, you must have a room.

Me: No, we don't have any rooms.

The conversation can go back and forth like this for another dozen exchanges before the Skeptical Drunk finally gets it through their befuddled brain that whatever they want is really, truly, unavailable. I've never quite had to call the security guard to throw one out, but it's been close a couple of times.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ami's Safe Space Project

Ami Angelwings is a Toronto feminist blogger best known to readers of this blog as the creator of Magyc: The Gendering, on which my recent Second Gender War stories are based. In real life, she's a consultant for various Toronto social service agencies, and in the course of her consulting work, she's noticed that many domestic violence and rape crisis centers that were originally created for cis women and their children have now expanded their services to include cis men, trans men & women, and genderqueer people.

Unfortunately, due to bureaucratic inertia, many of these centers have documentation or websites, or even names, that still indicate that their services are directed solely at women. Ami has therefore decided to launch a project she calls Ami's Safe Space Project, which will gather together information on agencies in the US and Canada that support cis and trans men, trans women, and genderqueer people, and create a comprehensive list of such agencies.

Ami's blog does not have an extensive audience, so she is calling on her friends and readers to spread the word, and learn what they can about agencies in their own areas. Hence, this post, and the below list of member organizations of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center
Serving: Northeast RI -- Albion, Central Falls, Cumberland, Greenville, Harmony, Lincoln, Manville, Mapleville, North Providence, and Pawtucket.

Only open to cis women and children.

Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center
Serving: Central RI -- Coventry, Cranston, Garden City, Greene, Hope, Johnston, North Providence, Warwick, West Warwick.

Does not accept men. Only accepts trans and genderqueer on a case-by-case basis.

Sojourner House
Serving: Northwestern RI -- Burriville, Centerdale, Chepatchet, Clayville, Fiskeville, Fortsdale, Foster, Glendale, Greenville, Harmony, Harrisville, North Scituate, North Smithfield, Pascoag, Scituate, Woonsocket.

Does not accept men, trans, or genderqueer.

Women's Center of Rhode Island
Serving: Greater Providence, RI -- Barrington, Centerdale, East Providence, Greenville, Harmony, North Providence, Providence, Riverside, and Rumford.

Only cis women and children.

Women's Resource Center
Serving: Eastern RI -- Barrington, Warren, Bristol, Little Compton, Tiverton, Portsmouth, Middletown, Newport, and Jamestown.

Does not accept cis men or trans men, but will put them up in a hotel and provide services. Accepts trans women and genderqueer on a case-by-case basis, depending on comfort level of other clients.

If you would also like to help increase the reach of Ami's Safe Space Project (and I encourage you to do so), please call around your area, and post the results on your blog (if you've got one), and/or in the comments section of Ami's blog, and/or email Ami at ami_angelwings at hotmail dot com.

This has been a public service post of the Johnny Pez blog.