READ THE TERRIBLE TWELVES VIA TAPASTIC!

READ THE TERRIBLE TWELVES VIA TAPASTIC!
A YA fantasy by Emily Devenport and Ernest Hogan

Monday, June 30, 2014

BRAINPAN FALLOUT: 12- BODYJACKED







©Ernest Hogan 2014

My body refused to obey any command. When Vampiko bounced by, ready to go to work at the tittie bar, I couldn't check her out. That hurt.

"Flash, you've taken channel surfing to a new dimension." she said, then gave me a tonsil-tickler kiss -- and I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. "Well, the least you could do is sit down."

I tried. After a while I managed to make my knees wobble.

"Are you mad at me?" she asked.

With great effort, I could say, "Naw. Can't move."

"Oh dear," she said, helping me onto the couch, "you must be really hurt under those bandages. Sacre-bleu! I wish I could stay, but the sun is going down, and it's time for my shift at Global Delights." She kissed me again, I responded a little.

"Oh goody," she said, "you should be all right. Tah-tah!"

The blood drained from my button finger, I fell asleep, or into a sort of trance. The chip didn't need my attention to suck up the information. Deep down inside, I was screaming.

Then a crudely animated cockroach -- like the ones on the library computer -- walked across the screen.

The chip then reminded me that in the last twenty minutes four news stories had flashed before my eyes about the Kafka virus -- first it fills a computer with electronic cockroaches, then all memory blanks. There's also a rumor that one user who turned his computer off before the cockroaches could do their thing somehow was transformed into a giant cockroach. A sound byte of a hysterical little girl describing her encounter with the giant insect was offered as proof.

Suddenly, a strange buzzing filled my head. I popped up off the couch, dropped the remote without bothering to turn the set off, and headed out the door. Something was calling the chip, and it was using my body as a vehicle. I was lucky that I got the door open before crashing through it.

The spectacular Phoenix sun blinded me as I stumbled my way through the maze of the Big Ugly Peach Apartments West complex. Nobody noticed me except for a lizard the size of a pit-bull and a saguaro that made a quick call on its cellular phone and disappeared.

I was weaving through the ring of parking lots when an ancient primer-gray Chevy van came to a screeching halt within splitting distance of me. Two guys leaped out, and began working me over with a stun gun and a cattle prod.




Friday, June 27, 2014

CHICANONAUTICA AIN'T AFRAID OF DIVERSITY



So this time, Chicannonautica, over at La Bloga, looks at fear of diversity.

It seems like the whole world is hot for diversity there days:


But people can take it the wrong way, like this one from South Africa's answer to KFC:


And the EU had to apologise for this one:


Remember what happened when Coke tried to update its global village image?


So welcome to the 21st century:

Monday, June 23, 2014

BRAINPAN FALLOUT:11- CALL OF THE INFO-HUNGRY










©Ernest Hogan 2014

"They're watching me,"  I said, "Here. At Big Ugly Peach Apartments West. Of course, it makes sense."

I almost didn't hear my messages playing:

"Flash, this is Obeah X15, something went wrong with the Huevos Rancheros Microondas. I think something is happening. Something mondo hardcore weird, weirder than the reptile conspiracy. I'm going to scan for televoodoo on the internet. Catch me one via one mode or other.  Bye."

"Burnout here. Flash, there's some stuff going on that you have to watch out for. We may be on the brink of some kind of crackdown or breakout or something. The Nigerians are in on it, so let me know if you have any dealings with them. Don't touch any computer if animated cockroaches appear on the screen -- it's a new virus. And have you noticed how saguaros seem to be walking all over town?  I'm going out, but I'm not taking my pager for security reasons.  Don't try to call me -- I'll reach you."

"Hey, you the kid who delivers stuff on his bike? I know a lotta people what needs things delivered without a lot of silly questions. I could get you a lot of jobs, if you just gimme sixty percent. I don't wanna leave my name or number, but I'll call back."

"There's no answer, I mean, it's a machine. Maybe they got him. Oh well."

When the machine clicked off, I felt cheated. The chip didn't like being cut off from an information stream. It gave me an instant headache.

"I need more," I said.

"What?" asked Vampiko, who was retouching her makeup for work. "More messages?"

"Information. I need more. Gotta have it."

"Why don't you watch TV or something?" she said, blending some shadow into her cleavage.

I leaped across the room, grabbed the remote, and had the tube glowing faster than I ever had before.  I didn't look for anything to watch, just held down the upchannel button and watched the entire cable system flash by in fast blips. And I could follow it all. Megabytes of information flowing through my eyes, ears, and brain into the Krell chip.

It was happy. It jolted my brain into an endorphin dump. Then I was happy too.

I wanted to sit down, but couldn't. My finger hurt from holding down the button. I was a prisoner of information.




Thursday, June 19, 2014

ARIZONA AFTER ANOTHER FIRE


Near Arcosanti, datura bloomed on the roadside. Arcosanti was Paolo Soleri's 20th century dream of the future. Sedona is the real 21st century with a vengence: spectactular nature and red rocks with New Age pretentions and all the modern conviences, plus familiar franchises brought to you buy corporate sponsors you know and trust.

Fires had blackened nearby mountains, adding texture and drama to the contrast between red rocks and the blue sky. Not so many tourists, but still people were getting their pictures taken with a statue of Smokey the Bear.

This was Arizona after another fire. I was reminded of former Sedona resident Max Ernst's painting Europe After the Rain.







As we drifted into Sedona, Em said, “I love the pink sidewalks.”

We passed the King's Ransom Hotel – was that a name or a warning? Then art spilled over onto the pink sidewalks – pretty graven images that glittered in the sun, and twisted in the wind. Who buys this stuff? Does most the the money come in from the palm/tarot reading joints with neon signs? How much does packaged spirituality go for these days?

We had out usual lunch at Oaxaca, one of the few Mexican restaurants in town. How can this be in Arizona? Is it okay for me to be here with my pigmentation?

They offered cactus tacos, made from the pricky pear/nopales cactus. I was tempted, but knew I needed fuel for some hiking, so I went with more traditional shredded beef instead.







Sedona is what the tourist industry wants the Wild West to be: more a theme park than a place where people can be seen are doing the dirty work they have to do to get by. Ugly history burns off like dry underbrush, making way for colorful fantasy where white people and Asian tourists can feel safe and almost inspired. And it's clean and pretty.

Overhead, helicopters, hawks and owls patroled.

And in my head, the Firesign Theater's Back From the The Shadows kept playing.



Beyond Sedona, we started seeing FIRE DANGER EXTREME TODAY signs.

Nopales were blooming in the hills. Was this going to be the cash crop for the vegetarian tacos of the future? Or just the desperation filler for post-apocalypitic meals?



Photo by Em

Oak Creek was low. Where ever we see ruins, there's usually a dried riverbed not far away. It was more remarkable than the scorched mountains and naked trees.

There were also a lot of THANK YOU, FIREFIGHTERS! signs.


Another photo by Em

But then, forest fires are part of the natural order of things, reestablishing the sacred balance.

Like the Firesign Theater sang:

Where the veg'tables are green,
And you can pee into the stream!

You are truly one with the universe when you pee into a stream. Also when you are watching televison, walking on the moon, or reading a blog. Nature includes black holes and dark 
matter. You can't really escape from nature – it's like getting out of the universe.

There's some spirituality for you. Not the kind you can sell for big bucks on the global market.

Better get back to the shadows . . .

Monday, June 16, 2014

BRAINPAN FALLOUT: 10- UNSAFE AT HOME










©Ernest Hogan 2014

I threw the ticking, beeping package as far as I could, which in my weakened condition was about fifteen feet. It plopped down on a patch of green grass and just sat there, while Vampiko and I held our breaths. Sat there beeping and ticking, that is.

Suddenly, the beeping and ticking sounded familiar. I ran over, picked it up and tore the package apart while Vampiko screamed, "Flash, don't! You'll be killed!"

Inside was just what I had figured. I held it up and yelled, "It's all right folks, it's just my wallet, watch, and pager!"

The crowd gave a collective groan and dispersed.

"It sure was nice of them to send your stuff back to you," Vampiko said once she got the Undead Volkswagen and its precious air-conditioning going.

"Yeah," I said, "Nice. Whoever they are."

The air-conditioning soon had my kneecaps feeling like they were icing up. So cool, man. I felt like I was made of ice, and melted in the percentage of the diabolical Phoenix sun's rays that made it through the Undead's tinting. Melted. E. Vap. Or. Ated . . .

Suddenly, I was in a cavernous climate-controlled environment. The Krell chip had me running toward the heart of a humongous computer, like out of some ancient cornball sci-fi movie. The central memory bank glowed a warm, pink neon. The chip was so happy and hungry that it chewed its way through my brain, out of my skull, and zoomed at the information source like high-tech kamikaze mosquito. It exploded, a scalding, overwhelming nuclear blast that had my Hiroshima-fried skeleton disintegrating as it flew back, head over heels, like in an old Cold War nightmare that my mother told me about, years ago.

Then Vampiko's tongue was cleaning out my ear.

She giggled and said, "You fell asleep, mon cher. Don't worry. We're home now."

Home. Big Ugly Peach Apartments West. I could feel at least eight sets of paranoid eyes focused on us. One of them belonged to an oversized lizard. And there was a saguaro near our apartment where none was a few days ago. Wonderful.

"You look like you could use a siesta," said Vampiko. "Why don't you use my coffin?"

I wanted to, but the chip made me check for messages.

"Congratulations," a digitally-distorted voice said when I hit the play button. "You made it home.  Remember, we're watching you."



Friday, June 13, 2014

CHICANONAUTICA EXPLORES THE NEW WHITENESS



There's a new kind of whiteness out there, and Chicanonautica looks at it over at La Bloga.

Seems that “Hispanics” have been declaring themselves white:


For some of us, it may take more that filling out a form:


But, look out:


What is utopa for some is dystopia for others:

Monday, June 9, 2014

BRAINPAN FALLOUT: 9- TRAIL OF THE UNDEAD VOLKSWAGEN






©Ernest Hogan 2014

I caressed the velvet claw with my own hand.

It was Vampiko in her full-body anti-radiation suit. She had designed the esthetic features -- like the all black velvet shroud and veil. Doc Burnout and I helped with the insulation layer and the hat with the built-in fan to which we added a micro-misting system.

"Oh, mon cher," she said, her accent pure San Fernando Valley, "it is you." She turned me around and looked me over. "Mon deiu, is this an accident or some kind of fashion statement?"

"Accident," I said.

"Good!  You've had some lapses in taste before, but this ..." She shook her not-quite transparent veil.

"Yeah," I stood up, let her hug me, gritted my teeth, let out a groan. "It hurts like hell."

"Oh, mon amour," she said, "we must get you home then. And we must be careful. The anti-vampire people are all over. I swear a car followed me all the way over here. And with those big lizards all around . . . And now, my beloved hurt! I don't feel safe. It's as if the world has gone mad."

Mad indeed. We must have looked like the son of the Mummy and Dracula's daughter making our way through the magnetic sensors, arm in arm, the ancient guard glaring at us, and me fighting the chip that wanted me to read everything in sight. This sure wasn't no Age of Reason going on here.

"Look," she pointed a velvet-shrouded finger, "those people!  They're looking at my car!"

I didn't have the energy to say that maybe it was because it was an all-black Volkswagen Beetle with black-tinted windows and a vanity plate that read UNDEAD. Maybe it was better for our relationship that I kept my mouth shut.

"People have been trying to get in touch with you," she said, "those machines of yours have been going berserk . . ."

Something was ticking, the chip soon had me focusing on a package on the back seat.

"What's that?" I asked.

"Somebody put it on our welcome mat a day or so ago. It looked important, so I brought it along."

"Was it ticking before?"

"Why, no. I don't think so."

I carefully picked it up. It was a big, padded envelope with TO: FLASH GOMEZ -- IMPORTANT! scrawled on it in a thick purple marker. It wasn't very heavy.

Then it began to beep.




Monday, June 2, 2014

BRAINPAN FALLOUT: 8- INTERZONE CENTRAL LIBRARY








Soon I had to run to stay ahead of the saguaro. Then I -- or maybe the Krell chip -- got fed up. I stopped, turned around and said, "Who are you?  What are you?  What do you want?"

It just stood there. Didn't move. Didn't talk.

A white homeless man, with his hair and beard in crude dredlocks, whose sunburn seemed to be breaking down his DNA as he sat in lotus position on the sidewalk said, "That's right young fella, we're all cacti under the skin -- learned that from peyote!"

The chip had me bee-lining it to the library. The saguaro didn't move. Mr. Dredlock Peyote cracked a beatific smile.

With my blood-stained bandages and bunny-suit, I didn't stand out at the Central Library among the unconscious homeless, the migrant workers, Native Americans with French-braided hair and Budweiser bandanas, Indians in sports shirts and saris, Nigerians in mirrorshades speaking Yoruba into cellular phones, a low-rider girl with a Virgin of Guadalupe T-shirt, and an Anglo nerd with a gun and knife on his belt and a NUKE 'EM FROM ORBIT T-shirt. "Phoenix is the new Interzone," as Doc Burnout says.

The chip didn't know where to start at first, but soon had me keying away at a computer terminal, making random stuff flash on the monitor.  A primitively animated cockroach scurried across the screen followed by HELP!  I'M BEING HELD PRISONER IN A BULGARIAN VIRUS-FACTORY! Soon I took charge, found some books I was interested in, and got them off the shelf.

I'd been trying to get through The Satanic Verses ever since Rushdie got the death penalty for it.  Now I finished it, and went through the Koran so I could better understand all the references, in less than a half hour. Reading is usually a slow-go for me that can cause drowsiness. Somekinda brainpan fallout here!

Next I went through The Hacker Crackdown, which Doc Burnout had recommended, in about four minutes, chuckling here and there; if only Chairman Bruce knew what was really happening! Then I read Carlos Fuentes' Christopher Unborn(about 20 minutes), and I could see why my dad liked it so much. Ishmael Reed's Japanese by Spring (3 min.) was just as dead on about postmodern multicultural relations and as funny as Obeah X15 had said.
I read all the day's newspapers (18 min.) and was in the process of pulling the complete works of William Burroughs off the shelves when three-inch nails in a black-velvet glove like the claws of the Aztec goddess Itzpapaoltl dug into my shoulder.