A New Edition From Strange Particle Press . . .

Thursday, September 20, 2018

IN MARTIAN UTAH



Utah changes as you head southeast. There’s less of a Mormon influence, and it becomes less of a contrivance to give European and Asian tourists a taste of the Wild West myth. It gets more Indian as you approach the Navajo reservation, and new age/hippy-dippy influences have bubbled up from Sedona.

There was an icy breeze in the morning. A big relief after months of the Phoenix heat. We were in overshirts, while the locals were showing off their tanned legs.


At the Capitol Reef Inn & Cafe, they played flute-dominated Native-style music, and the waitress showed her new tattoo to a regular customer.


Emily left her camera around her neck as we drove through Capitol Reef itself. We stopped a lot for her to take pictures of the fantastic, Martian-looking landscapes. Hoodooistic mountains looked like buried cities. I fondled the red, silky sand. 


This was close to where Disney filmed their John Carter of Mars movie. I’ll probably never make it to Mars, but I’ve lived most of my life in Aztlán, and that’s pretty damn good. “Welcome to Mars” from Cory McAbee’s musical space opera Stingray Sam got stuck in my head.



You could film a low-budget movie about truckers on Mars there. I filed the idea away. Who knows what it could become? The Paco Cohen, Mariachi of Mars universe came from me getting an idea about a sci-fi spaghetti western that could be shot around Phoenix.


Further along Utah State Route 24, we once again had to stop at Carl’s Critter Garden, and take pictures of mechanoid monsters, and their messages of mystic wisdom. It had changed since we last saw it. Carl must be busy with new creations. Long may he keep this roadside wonderland alive!


We finally saw a real, live Indian crossing the street in Blanding, while we were looking for the Dinosaur Museum that we drove past.

We found the Edge of Cedars Park Visitors Center/Museum where more sacred datura grew in the parking lot. The museum was small, and mostly about the Navajo/Diné, rather than the other tribes of Utah, but had some impressive sculptures.


A real standout is “Ant Man on Kiva Ladder” by Joe Pachak. The ant man isn’t the Marvel character, but a reference to the insect-like figures that appear in petroglyphs all over the southwest. Yes, humanoids with antenna were part of Aztlán long before the white man invented sci-fi. They probably depict the insect people of Native mythology, but who knows?

I won’t even get into the three-fingered lizard men . . .


Two young Native men worked at the museum, and a Native woman came in as a customer.


On our second pass through Blanding, my hunter/gather eagle-eye spotted the Dinosaur Museum, which is a real find, worth the pilgrimage into the cinegenic wastes. Not only does it have fossils, and flesh and feathered replicas, but it includes artifacts of dinosaurs in popular culture, the movies, and displays about the artists who brought the ancient beasts to light long before CGI.


Later we made another trip to Bluff, built on the site of a pueblo established around 650 AD, over which an Anglo town was installed in 1880. The Navajo tacos at the Twin Rocks Cafe were great as usual. Indians seem to be taking over the town, which is a good thing.

The next morning, at the complimentary breakfast at the Kokopelli Inn, tourists spoke French while the women in the office discussed Navajo politics.


There were still election posters in the Rez as we cut through it into Arizona on the way to New Mexico. A lot of women were running for office in this place where Red Mesa High School had a team proudly called the “Redskins,” and a RED MESA EXPRESS T-shirt features a flying saucer.

Aztlán can’t help being its own kind of sci-fi.

Monday, September 17, 2018

IN HOLLYWOOD/MORMON COWBOY COUNTRY



We couldn’t wait to get out of the air-conditioned delusion of Phoenix. Going north on I-17, I saw a lot of sacred datura blooming by the roadside. When we hit the Navajo Rez a billboard proclaimed: PROTECT OUR FUTURE. STOP METH ABUSE, while outback murals provided alternate vistas.

As we made it into Utah, toward Kanab (“A Western Classic” according to a sign), I mused that “Nabbed in Kanab” would make a good title, bit couldn't think up a story for it.


The Lone Ranger posters decorating our motel fit in with the the Hollywood Wild West decor. Here, John Wayne and other celluloid buckaroos watched like patron saints.


After I found MSNBC so Emiy’s mother could find out, “what that idiot in Washington did today,” we realized that we forgot to pack her box of wine. Where can a 98 year-old woman get her evening glass of wine in a town where our motel was across the street from the Mormon temple that was sandwiched between two banks? The streets were full of Caucasian tourists speaking Teutonic tongues. The young man gathering up shopping carts at the pioneer daze mural-festooned supermarket looked nervous as he explained that they only sold beer and the liquor store was closed Sunday.


Luckily, we found the Wild Thyme Cafe, where she could have a Chardonnay with dinner.

In the morning, I saw Asian tourists and white-haired, middle class bikers as I crossed the parking lot to the complimentary breakfast bar.

On TV there were news stories about Utah’s opiod crisis, and how recent immigration restrictions were hurting the state’s economy, as well as a commercial for a place called Chick-A-Rama that bragged about their mac and cheese.


We packed up as Trump was getting ready to talk about the new NAFTA, filled up at a gas station wrapped in faded cowboy murals, and soon Emily was saying, “Oh my! This sandstone is fabulaire!”


Past more roadside sacred datura, we took a restroom break at a gas station with murals with more of an Indian theme that sold coonskin caps and buffalo jerky. Japanese and German tourists milled about like a deleted scene from The Man in the High Castle.

A town had the Orwellian name of Orderville, and there’s a Glendale, Utah.


Soon we reached Parowan, on the Old Spanish Trail, as opposed to an old Mormon one. A sign in a store window told of PAROWAN, UTAH’S PUBLISHED AUTHOR, as if only one were permitted per town. The State Liquor Agency (Utahan for liquor store) was closed on Sunday and Monday. Fast food joints sold tacos and burritos as well as hamburgers and hot dogs. We even found a Mexican restaurant where Emily’s mother could have a sangria with her taco salad.


We got going bright and early the next morning to find that the State Liquor Agency was still closed at 8 AM.

So it was off through eerie, abandoned-for-the-season, snowless ski-country that looked like a transplanted stretch of Switzerland. Then the hills were full of lava and dying trees. Some deer pronked into the middle of the road, but Emily was quick with the brake pedal.


A huge photo portrait of John Wayne watched over us as we got coffee and danish at a Panguitch gas station.

"I don’t like Utah much,” said Emily’s mother.


As we headed toward Bryce canyon, the forest gave way to red rock hoodoos, psychedelic/Barsoomian landscapes, burned and beetle-devastated forests.

We finally found wine for Em’s mother at the State Liquor Agency in Bicknell, ten minutes from Torrey, past some grazing bison. They were playing a bluesy version of “Summertime.”

Friday, September 14, 2018

CHICANONAUTICA LOOKS OUT FOR AZTLÁN




Chicanonautica focuses on the Aztlán-oriented part of my summer vacation, over at La Bloga.

We're talking experiences from the road:


In the Southwest:


And/or, the Wild West:


Otherwise known as Aztlán:

Thursday, September 6, 2018

BLOWING IN EXTRATERRESTRIAL WINDS



Ron Cobb, the cartoonist who is best known for designing the spaceship and most of the hardware for the movie Alien, once said that, “Science fiction has always been a verb to me.”

Sadly, most sci-fi products these days just want us all to keep being good, hungry, passive consumers. Buy, don’t do. Consume, don’t create.

Ugh!

Extraterrestrial Organology: The Study of Future Wind Instruments by Ronald J. Wimmer, on the other hand, says, “May this inspire you to make your own musical instruments.” Don’t just read, or watch entertainment about exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life, and new civilizations, and boldly going where you have never gone before, but create the instrumentality of the future. Create new culture. Make the future.

It is inspired by Jesus Christ, who allowed Wimmer to hear, “For approximately five seconds . . . angelic music.” He immediately realized that the sound would be impossible to replicate. “That is when I had the realization to make musical instruments.”

He also lists as inspirations: Antoine-Joseph Aldolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone,René Stapp, inventor of the Jupiter land speed record car, a Japanese Zen haiku poet and a Buddhist monk. Photos used show that he is familiar with funky TV and movie productions from the black&white era. Talk about cultural diversity.

He also looks like a classic science fiction fan. One photo shows him with ufologist Dr. Staton Friedman and Kathleen Mardeen, niece of Betty Hill of the well-known Betty and Barney Hill UFO incident.

It’s a slim book, but is packed with actual content, as well as spaceship paintings by his wife, Luela, and lots of color photos of historic, weird instruments, and those created by Wimmer, often with him holding them and wearing an impressive array of sci-fi regalia.

In the text, facts blend with science fiction. “I suggest you research orgone and its discoverer Dr. Wilheim Reich . . .”

Wimmer’s instruments have been displayed in galleries and art shows in Arizona. The art form has incredible possibilities. I’d like to see more people creating such wonders.


Friday, August 31, 2018

CHICANONAUTICA DREAMS OF AN INTERGALACTIC BARRIO



These dreams are to help out those entering the the Somos en escrito Extra-fiction Writing Contest. They're in Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga.

We're talking visions of Aztlán:


Mutating Latinoid literature:


Sci-fi en La Cultura:



And the future:

Monday, August 20, 2018

ALTERMUNDOS WINS THE AMERICAN BOOK AWARD

Image result for before columbus foundation

Barrios of the planet, start partying! Altermundos: Latin@ Speculative Literature, Film, and Popular Culture has won the American Book Award, that is given by the Before Columbus Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1976 by Ishmael Reed, “dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of contemporary American multicultural literature.”


With a fascinating array of materials that will bring you up to speed on futuristic/fantastic culture in the Latinoid continuum, Altermundos features my own, “Chicanonautica Manifesto,” where I discuss how “Chicano is a science fiction state of being,” and other important revelations.

There's also an essay: “From Code to Codex: Tricksterizing the Digital Divide in Ernest Hogan's Smoking Mirror Blues” by Dacine S. Bachran.

And my work is discussed in “Chicana/o Cyberpunk after el Movimiento” by Lysa Rivera.

But, wait! There's more!

Some of my artwork is reproduced, in black and white, but here they are in living color:


My omnipresent logo/alter ego, “Calacanaut.”


"Invading Kafakazona,” inspired by living as a Chicano in Arizona.


And “Western Vision,” a sci-fiization of Aztlán.

In all, I'm proud to be part of an award-winning team.

Friday, August 17, 2018

CHICANONAUTICA MEETS INCREDIBLY GAY PRINCESSES

Chicanonautica reviews a novel about incredibly gay princesses, at La Bloga.

Disney take note:


These princesses are more in the tradition of Khutulun:


And actor/director Pearl Cheung Ling:



It's fantasy that isn't ridiculously Anglo:

Thursday, August 9, 2018

MONSOON INTERLUDE


It's been the craziest, busiest summer ever for Emily and me. After several (I lost count) conventions, and both of us slammed with writer biz, we needed a break, a real vacation. Our nephew Miles, flying in for some post-high school graduation, writer mentoring, and bookstore crawling seemed what we needed.


The monsoon, with humidity and unpredictable downpours, arrived at the same time.


At the airport, a woman's T-shirt caused a Disney-style cartoon version of Minnie the Moocher--complete with opium pipes--to spontaneously play in my head. A young man's shirt simply said NARCOTICS. And a mysterious security bell kept ringing.


This was early in the morning, so we took off to Prescott, where we had breakfast at the Lone Spur Cafe. Buffalo and elk heads, cowboy art and artifacts, and a photo of Calamity Jane watched over us.


Later, in an antique shop, Minnie the Moocher—the original, Cab Calloway version—played.


At the Peregrine Book Company, I found a paperback reprint of a Buffalo Bill dime novel, and books by Ishmael Reed and Harlan Ellison. After dinner at El Charro Restaurant, we had to drive through heavy rain, thunder and lightning to the motel, where the wi-fi sucked, but somehow, I managed to post Calamity on Twitter and Facebook.


Next morning we got breakfast at the Dinner Bell Cafe. Emily was so impressed she bought the T-shirt. I liked the Divorciado Omelette. Miles liked their chicken fried steak.


Then we crawled through two thrift stores, and a bookstore. Grabbed Walt Kelly's The Pogo Stepmother Goose, William Eastlake's Castle Keep, among other goodies.


The next morning Miles and I checked out writing markets online. Then we cruised some Goodwills—a lot of lost treasures end up there, the last stop before the landfill (I found Samuel R. Delaney's Hogg, LeRoi Jones' Home: Social Essays, and Ronald J. Wimmer's Extraterrestrial Organology: The Study of Future Wind Insturments) -- and some local bookstores, including Bookmans, where I found Max Evans' Bluefeather Fellini in the Sacred Realm.


We had dinner at Phoenix's hot spot for recombocultural cuisine, Chino Bandido. If they ever expand into a nationwide chain they will need to have a comic book, like Bob's Big Boy.


Next day we had breakfast at Kiss the Cook, in Glendale, Arizona. I recommend the New Orleans Cajun Omlette.


Then, one of our tires went flat. Luckly, AAA saved the day.


We still managed to get to some more thrift stores, bookstore shopping, and burgers at Moe's, through the alternating monsoon blazing sun and rainy clouds before putting Miles back on his plane to California. Hopefully, our wisdom as professional writers will help him. At the very least, he had a good time.

Friday, August 3, 2018

CHICANONATUICA ADVISED MEXICANXES ABOUT WORLDCON


In Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga, I offer advice to the Mexicanxes are going to WorldCon:


WorldCon is where they give out the Hugo Awards:


They will meet science fiction fans:


Good thing crossing borders is our culture:


Thursday, July 26, 2018

LATINX ARCHIVE BUYS AN ERNESTO STORY


I've received the all clear from headquarters, so: Hey everybody, I just sold another story! Let the celebrating commence!

It's called “Those Rumors of Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice Have Been Greatly Exaggerated,” a Xicanxfuturistic romp through Wild, Wild Aztlán, inspired by my travels in the region, and certain, recent political developments.

It will appear in The Latinx Archive, a follow-up to Latin@ Rising.

Stay tuned for details and developments. Meanwhile, feel free to dance in the streets, and practice rituals in honor of Xochipilli.