Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Faster Than Vampires With Less Show

It's all Anne Rice's fault I suppose. She moved the vampires out of their stuffy old castles into fashionable San Francisco apartments where they started making money. It was only a matter of time before every monster was chained to Rumpelstiltskin's wheel between a heap of straw and a flinty-eyed editor holding a pointed stick. There's a commuter train that runs from Elfland to Poughkeepsie with a station at the corner of Romance and Fantasy. Bad Boys with all-over five o'clock shadow rub shoulders and other body parts with twenty-something witches (pretty, urban, fashionable, tough, unencumbered by children). Unbearably sexy vampires sit next to aristocratic elves fresh off the Wynne-Jones Celtic Tour. For the kind of person who likes that sort of thing, that must be just the sort of thing they like. Let's leave it at that.

A little further down the line the less stylish unquiet dead shamble to their acting gigs in post-Industrial districts redone in Cold War post-Apocalyptic. They're getting work these days. Thanks to Romero, Russo and Max Brooks they are Big.

It's easy to see why. Outbreaks mean that the all the rules are off. Need supplies? Break into the Mall and take what you need. Find a zombie? Grab a gun. Start blasting. It's Total War and every survivalist fantasy you ever had run through The Paranoid Style in American Politics. There's no love in wartime, just a carnographic orgy of muzzle flashes and bloody axes soaked in a heady perfume of adrenaline, testosterone, lactic acid, putrescine and cordite. Teller huddles in an abandoned Vegas club shooting not-dead-enough tourists and the other half of his famous act. Scientists find a compound that temporarily freezes zombie brains but reliably stops working just before the corpses are destroyed. The magic zombie gas will always get out of containment. The soldiers drafted into World War Z train for individual head shots or get handy with shovels and machetes. And let's not even get started on the fast zombies. It's whack-a-mole with shotguns and just as inefficient. The survivors just can't kill zombies as fast as the zombies can eat brains or infect the living.

Think Like a Farmer

"What did you do about the dragon?"
"We put out some poisoned sheep."
From The Sword of Bheleu by Lawrence Watt-Evans

That's because it isn't a war, and zombies aren't an enemy which needs to be defeated. They are classic biological pests which need to be managed. Mad Scientists and Lantern-Jawed Heroes need not apply. What you need is Cow College Agronomists and the County Extension Agent to manage a troublesome infestation. Once you start looking at zombie survival as an exercise in Integrated Pest Management it gets simple, and the poor brain suckers don't stand a chance. Toss out the Army Field Manual. You need Debach, Ruberson and Pickett and Bugg. Oh, there's a place in Biological Control for picking individual bugs off of lettuce leaves. And you need cultural practices that discourage the pests and encourage their enemies. But it comes down to food and sex, not bullets and bayonets.

What's important to know about zombies?
  1. They eat people
  2. Their flesh is poisonous
  3. Their bite may be contagious
  4. They communicate with each other
  5. They don't learn
  6. They aren't quite alive
  7. They rot
  8. Some of them move quickly. Some of them move slowly.
  9. They don't stop until the brain or body is very heavily damaged
Taken together this means the poor undead SOBs don't stand a chance.

The Recipe for Rabbit Stew

First, catch a rabbit. I know. Most of the zombie movies are full of people hiding from the restless dead. That's Lone Survivalist Hero thinking. That's defeat sold retail. When a farmer has an outbreak of Tomato Hornworm or there is a *shudder* Gypsy Moth outbreak (may Leopold Trouvelot burn in Hell for all Eternity) you want the pests where you can dispose of them. Sometimes you send the solution out to find them by itself. We'll get to that part in a little bit.

Another strategy is to call them together where you can get rid of them efficiently. That's why there are pheromone traps for all kinds of pests. Zack probably doesn't use pheromones. But we know that he's all about eating people. There must be something about us that attracts his attention. And there's a reason zombies don't eat each other. If they did, the movies would be a lot shorter. It might be motion. It might be sound. It might be smell. There's something that attracts them to people and warns them not to go after other zombies.

In some stories zombies can communicate simple things to each other like "Come here" and "Fresh brains this way". If it's physical it can be measured. If it can be measured it can be copied. If it can be copied we can probably get them to square dance.

If it's the way we move that should be easy to figure out.

If it's sound then no worries. Signal processing software is cheap. For a few hundred dollars you can build an entire recording studio complete with spectrum analyzers. If it's smell, it won't be long before we have the chemical equivalent of the undead dinner bell and "I'm a zombie. Don't eat me" perfume. With speakers and spray guns it won't be long before we can walk around them safely.

Maybe the patented undead fishing lure will be an animatronic dummy wearing dirty underwear playing the mating call of the American Short-Faced Blonde "Imzode runk!" and "Haybay bee!". Whatever. It won't take long before we can attract the local zombies. What we do then is another matter. Shooting, dropping safes on them or even "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like Victory to me," are gratifying but inefficient. Fill pit traps with Old Spice and Chanel Number Five and come by a week later with ten yards of six-slump concrete. Hose a crowd of them down with eau de gym socks and play the right sounds. Then it's just a matter of sitting back while they tear each other apart. Beating up zombies is hard work. Let zombies do it for you.

Fill moats with lye or quicklime and put a zombie-lure on the other side. Get formations of them to square-dance. Funnel them between big microwave dishes. Even the restless dead stop moving when their muscles are too cooked to contract. The point is to stop thinking of zombies as the enemy who you have to fight or escape. They're nasty dangerous biological pests. You want them where they can be disposed of as efficiently as possible. If you want efficiency it's best to start tiny.

The Incalculable Power of Small Hungry Things

They rot. That's the most important thing about zombies. Even though dogs die when they bite them something can denature whatever toxins Zack produces.

Kitchen Chemistry

The simplest way to get a zombie-killer is to let someone or something else do the hard work. Since a microbe has already figured out how to do the job all you really have to do is help it wax and grow fat and make trillions of little microbes.

In May 16 year old Daniel Burd cultured two strains of bacteria that eat plastic bags. He didn't use anything more complicated than yeast, dirt and household chemicals. After that it was just a matter of a few weeks and some careful high-school biology lab technique. The same techniques apply to zombies. Find some rotting zombie meat, a culture medium, and a few other bits and pieces you can find around the house. If you want to get really fancy you can go to Cash and Carry and steal a sack of sugar, a pound of yeast, the same chemicals in the handy ten gallon drum and a fifty pound bag of unflavored gelatin instead of agar.

Zombie meat shouldn't be hard to find if there's an outbreak. The rest is dead simple. In a little while you will can churn out pure Zack-eating germs by the pound. Once you have that you have classic biological control by microbes. Spread it everywhere. Sprinkle it on zombies. Dust everyone you know with it. As the rotting hordes shamble along they'll spread it to each other. And they will rot a little more quickly. Just a little adds up to a lot when you're talking about bacteria reproduction times. When it has an exclusive food source and no competition the growth rates are astronomical.

If you have quick-moving 28 day zombies they'll spread it even faster.

Two Girls, One Cup of Synthetic Base Pairs

The table-top biology approach is cheap and easy. But it could be more efficient. You have to get the bacteria where they need to go, and you don't know how long they will take to do the job. Biological control works best when you have several species that do the job different ways.

When Night of the Living Dead came out in 1968 there weren't but a few genetics labs in the world. By today's standards they were primitive, just a step above witch-doctoring. Now there are seven scientific supply houses in my home town that can sell you state-of-the-art equipment. There's a world-class medical school not five miles from my house which spins off biotech companies almost every month. It probably has a couple dozen labs which could do the job. And that's not counting all the colleges and universities in the Metro area. Multiply that by every med school, every Ag school, all the corporate research labs and the military.

Scientists can make their own virii from scratch. In a couple years undergrads will do it under supervision. Artificial plasmids aren't rocket science anymore. Artificial Bacterial Chromosomes are leading- but not bleeding-edge. They're grad-school stuff. Protein characterization is well-understood and easy to do. OK. Not every problem is easy. But given the equipment, motivation and some money it's mature technology. There are thousands of places just in the US that can do the job. And if the Internet is down they can coordinate by Ham Radio if they need to.

And what will they do?

They'll look at whatever is making the zombies rot and breed it like the kid from Waterloo. Then they'll figure out what proteins make the zombies poisonous. And they'll figure out what sort of enzymes the bacteria are using to denature them. Once the proteins are characterized they'll be turned into a plasmid that synthesizes them. You'll have your choice of zombie-eating biological control agents.

Mixed-function oxidases are probably the first place they would look. A lot of organisms, most famously herbivorous insects, are in constantly-evolving biological warfare with the things they eat. The insects have developed a whole class of chemicals which denature many different compounds. Maybe there's something that will chelate the bad stuff with a mineral ion. Who knows? There are probably many biological pathways to breaking down the poison. A smart scientist will use a bunch of them in several different organisms. If one doesn't work so well in the field another will.

First off the assembly line will be microbes. Bacteria breed quickly and are easy to study. And with the help of a friendly virus or good old-fashioned conjugation they can start spreading their helpful mutations far and wide. Flesh-eating staph is a terrible thing. But if the flesh is undead I'm cool with it.

Then there are fungi. Most of the nutrients in the world are carried by soil fungus of one sort or another. The trees and the grass are just the parts you see. The real action is down in the mycelium where water and minerals and proteins are passed around. And genes are passed around, too. Once the soil has been infected with a zombie-phagic strain it will get everywhere. And the undead won't be safe anywhere there is dirt. It might take a while for a fungus to evolve to the point of Entomophthorales Muscae which makes ants climb so that they will spread spores more efficiently or the Cordyceps fungus, but don't count it out. Zombie behavior is really pretty simple.

Inoculate the soil. Spread the bacteria with aerial spraying - Zack still doesn't have anti-aircraft capabilities. Dust insects with it. Spray it directly on the pest and let the target move it around for you. Farmers have been doing all of these for years. It's not even an engineering problem. It's a routine industrial process.

Once fungus really gets going everything turns white and fuzzy. It's just a question of how long it will take for the shambling horde to turn into a twitching, furry leftover. Soon it will stop moving. Then it will sporulate. The zombies will be nothing but mushrooms and the next generation of mold.

Fungus porn courtesy of You Tube...

and here's a zombie snail that serves its part in a more complex parasite's life-cycle

Gruesome, isn't it?

But that's nothing. Once they start working with insects the zombies will wish they had just stayed in the ground.

When dead flesh begins to putrefy the beetles are first on the scene. Some of them eat fly larvae. We don't want those. Some of them like the classic Carrion Beetles and a few of the Scarabs have strong jaws that can chew through tough zombie flesh. A few of them even specialize in eating tendons and ligaments. All that undead strength doesn't do you any good if the muscles aren't attached to bone. All you can do is lie there and twitch while the beetles creep closer, jaws chewing, ovipositors getting ready to lay eggs...

Then there are flies. Some of them eat dung. Some of them eat fruit. Screw Worm Flies caused horrible damage to livestock until entomologists figured out how to control them be releasing hordes of sterile males. Some of them, and here's the fun part, only eat dead tissue. On a zombie that's umm like pretty much everything. We already use them to debride wounds where they do an incredibly fast clean job.

The beetles and flies will lay their eggs in Zack. The zombies will move around and take the hard work of traveling away from the things that are eating them. In time the insects will mature and go on to infest more of the unquiet dead. If they are quick-moving 28 Days Later zombies they will spread their own destruction even more effectively. Sucks to be a zombie when something hungrier thinks of you as dinner.

The Ravenous Sea

In a lot of zombie stories the ocean is an eternal reservoir for the hungry dead. They don't drown. They wash or walk up on shore all over the world. Terrible, isn't it?

But death is always close in the ocean. Every sailor knows that there is nothing more terrible than the sea. And it is always dreadfully hungry.

First of all, you have to wonder how the zombies will move. If they sink on the Continental Shelf there's a good chance that some will walk onto land some day. But the ocean floors are big. You could wander a long, long time without making much progress. If they end up in the silty parts of the sea bed they will be stuck in the muck until Judgment Day. Down in the Utter Depths they will move very slowly, if at all. It's terribly cold down there. There isn't any light. And there's not much to eat.

If they float or have neutral buoyancy they will drift with the currents. Even a dog paddle is more efficient than walking. Most of the zombies will end up circulating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or one of the other oceanic gyres. There might be a few surprised Saragossa Eels, but I can live with that. If Zack gets wound up in kelp or plastic bags he'll never get loose.

Just like the fungus in the soil and the bacterium that causes rot the ocean is full of tiny plants and animals and all sorts of microorganisms. They breed quickly and in incalculable numbers. Sooner or later a few will figure out how to digest the undead. See the last section but death will be wholesale, and we won't have to do the hard work. A lot of fish will take a nibble and die. That will be sad. But the zombies won't last long enough for it to make a difference.

One of the most painful, tedious, backbreaking jobs in the Age of Sail was scraping barnacles off hulls. A ship that is at sea for a few months will get slower and slower because of them. They don't eat the things they attach to. They just glue themselves on and filter the water. In a year or two a lot of zombies will look like abstract sculpture. And they'll move just about as well.

The ocean can take care of itself. It's a much scarier thing than a bunch of meat that doesn't know when to lay down.

Epidemics and Evolution

A Virgin Field Epidemic is a horrifying thing. When a completely new pathogen makes its appearance nothing has any resistance. It spreads like wildfire. If it's deadly it kills off everything it infects.

A zombie outbreak is like that. Whatever eats them dies. Whatever they eat dies or gets turned into more zombies. We have no natural resistance. If they really were that bad they'd destroy their food supply wherever they are found. Contain and cauterize is ugly but it works.

Real epidemics follow a predictable evolutionary path. An organism that always kills off all of its hosts goes extinct. The Black Death was terrible when it first hit. It wiped out, well, we don't know how many. They used to say a quarter of Europe, China and Turkey. Now they think it could have been a third. But each outbreak was less severe. By the Seventeenth century it was remarked on but didn't wipe out cities or cause widespread panic. The pest had evolved to avirulence. And anyone who had some natural resistance had passed those genes on because nobody else had descendants.

The 1918 Influenza Epidemic killed millions. In a perverse twist it was more deadly to the young and strong. Some years back I remember hearing about a team of researchers who carefully drilled down into Flu Graveyards in the Scandinavian permafrost. They took enough samples to be absolutely sure. The Killer Flu was Swine Flu. It's nasty, but it's no Plague. Everyone who would die from it did.

Maybe the Zombie Plague would evolve that way. In a few hundred years it might be nothing to really worry about.

But that's not the important part. You see, zombies don't evolve. That's why they're doomed.

And that's why Birds do it, Bees do it,
Even educated fleas do it,
Let's do it, let's fall in love.
With apologies to Cole Porter

Zombies reproduce, but they don't have sex. At least if you don't count some very bad (Really Really NSFW) movies. They don't recombine their genes and pass on their biological advantages to the next generation amplified by reinforcement with other zombies' special traits. When a Zack-eating beetle or a zombiephagic fungus comes along they won't develop resistance to it. But the things that eat them breed quickly and recombine their genes promiscuously. Darwin trumps Design when the designer only gets one chance. What makes it worse is that humans will learn what works and pass on the solutions directly. Cultural evolution, unlike biological evolution is Lamarckian.

It's not even a Red Queen's Race. Zack started out ahead, but he's not moving. Even if it runs slowly Life will catch up.

The Fatal Flaw

The real problem with this rant is the screen. Doing science is exciting to the people involved in it. It's deadly dull to watch. Scenes of sweaty and artfully disheveled people running from monsters and killing a few of them are exciting. The Ag School approach to surviving the Zombie Apocalypse is more like this:

[Cut to half a dozen people watching petri dishes]
Pale blond guy puts down his coffee cup, smiles, scratches his head, writes something in a lab notebook.

Mark:"Miz Jackson, strain 72 is growing 15% faster than anything else."

Everyone: Yay!

Short woman wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a humorous platypus smiles and writes something down in another notebook.

Professor Jackson: "Great Mark. Split that culture and save twenty grams for PCR. The mycology lab has some spare Polymerase."

Science is full of great stories but precious few action films.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A picture for one of Tiel's poems

Tiel's recent poem A Postcard From God tickled my visual cortex. Here's what emerged

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This is Just Wrong

There are some memes that just shouldn't be in the same room. These are two of them.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

No. Not Even. No Way.

The Wendigo Lodge in Grand Rapids, MN
There's something for everyone at Wendigo.
Whether planning the wedding of your dreams,
a corporate retreat or a weekend getaway,
we'll keep you coming back with our excellent
service, charming atmosphere, superb food


Bring someone special for a fine dining experience

I'm sorry. Anyone who goes there has been given fair warning. If it's run by a chain you have to wonder about their other properties. The H.H. Holmes Hotel? Dahmer Arms Apartments? The Donner Party Restaurant? Ed Gein's Backwoods Cabins?

Update 11 December 2007

I just had to call. The "guest services representative" said that yes, they had a pamphlet about the legend of the Wendigo and knew what it was about when the owners chose the name.

I'm speechless.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Misty Blue

There are stories everywhere that should be told.
This is one of them.
If it seems a little confusing don't worry.
When A Day in the Life comes out it will all make sense.

This is a story that my older brother told me before he moved away across the Western Mountains. He was very wise, my brother. He played with me and taught me to hunt. He showed me how to find food in the Winter, how to steal from the demons and how to tell good water from bad.

At night, after the singing was done, he would lie down with my sister and me and tell us stories until we went to sleep. Some of them were funny, like the time that Rabbit chased Viper up a tree to impress Rabbit Woman. Some of them are about our people, the Ó'kôhomeho, and our ancestor, the hero Ó'ôhóme. He told us about the Greater Men, the giant Ho'néheo'o who traveled in large bands and hunted us like animals. They were not clever enough to survive among the demon vo'êstaneo'o, so they are gone. Only a few live up in the mountains.

One of his best stories was the story of the Hótame Misty Blue.

The Elders say that a long time ago the Ho'néheo'o, the Hotäme and we Real People were one.

The Ho'néheo'o were proud and fierce. They ate their own pride and grew huge on it. Ó'ôhóme whom even the demons call clever helped us steal food from the five corners of the land. We became wise and can live anywhere. The Hotäme were offered food by the vo'êstaneo'o and became their slaves. The máhtáme mâsêhámâhta'sóoma or demon food took something from them so that they are like children inside no matter how long they live. And most of them are stupid. Some ate much of the magic food and became huge. Others ate only a little and shrunk to the size of newborn babies.

We know this story is true. To this day the Ho'néheo'o, the Ó'kôhomeho and even the ugliest Hotäme can have children together. Hotäme women can have eight or nine children at a time. But the Hotäme can not live like real people anymore. They depend on the demons for everything. Ó'ôhóme taught us to steal and live anywhere, so we can eat their food without losing our spirits. But we must be careful. Sometimes they leave poisoned meat for us to take.

Most Hotäme are easy to avoid. You should stay away from them. If you can not, then remember how to fight wisely as a team. Most of them are easy to kill that way. The clever ones are very dangerous. Since the eat the demons' food they do not have to find their own and can spend more time hunting us. It is good that most of them are very bad hunters.

Misty Blue was one of the very dangerous ones. He was the size of a small man, not like the Hotäme who live a few miles away and are as big as any five of us together. His hair was dark and light in patches, and his eyes were an unsettling pale blue. He was wise and patient and could understand the speech of the vo'êstaneo'o and of men. Misty Blue was as good a hunter as one of the Real People. He hunted everything from snakes and birds to deer and the tiny póesono, the little cougar demons that follow the vo'êstaneo'o. The only things he would not hunt were bear, badgers, the terrible Rogpóesono who dies and returns, and the herds of strangely altered buffalo the vo'êstaneo'o keep.

What was the Rogpóesono? That is a different story. Full grown vo'êstaneo'o acted like it was an evil ghost, and it feared nothing. It aided Misty Blue in many things. If you are very good I will tell you more tomorrow.

The vo'êstaneo'o castrate most of the Hotäme men and do something to the women so that they can not bear children. Misty Blue was an intact man. He had children among the slaves of far-flung vo'êstaneo'o clans and even by some of the women of the Ó'kôhomeho. He did not raise any of them, because that is not the way of the Hotäme. But he helped raise three of the young he-demons as they grew to adulthood. He taught them to stalk and to hunt, and they were better at it than most of their kind.

The oldest was strange even for a vo'êstane. He hunted at night. Unlike his litter-mates he did not hunt the Real People but enjoyed tricking us. Many times a hunter would think he heard a small animal only to see the hetane jump up and screech at him.

For a long time there was a truce between Misty Blue and our clan. We hunted on his land but did not take the demon buffalo or build homes inside his boundaries.

We had many years of mild winters and plentiful rain. There was food enough for everyone. New clans moved in. Families were large because almost all the children lived, grew up and had children of their own. There was no need for young men to travel far to find wives and places to live. There were more demons every year, but that did not matter. There was enough for everyone.

Then one year the winter was terrible, so cold that the Heávohe came out of the mountains. Game was scarce, and many died. That spring there was no rain and everyone was hungry. Children and Elders died. Young men and women stayed to care for their siblings long after they should have had families of their own.

Hunger makes people desperate. Desperate people do stupid things. Some hunted the demons' buffaloes. This was dangerous. They are strange to look at, but they are still huge and powerful. One day a group of starving men ate a demon hatchling. Then the vo'êstaneo'o killed us wherever they could find us. They killed us with fire and with strange magical weapons that roared and chattered. They hung our bodies from trees so that we could not sing the Mourning Ceremony for them. They killed nursing mothers with their children and men who had kept the truce.

Some of the Real People began to break the truce we had with Misty Blue. They began to kill póesono in front of his lodge and showed their knives to him. They said “Don't step outside the cave, Hotäme. We are many. You are one, and we can kill you.” Most Hotäme would have run away or cowered and bowed to us. Misty Blue just laughed and said “I am not afraid. Those were my póesono. This is my land. And you should have behaved. Now you will learn to fear the Hotäme.”

That was when Misty Blue began to hunt us like we were rabbits.

He was clever and wiser in the ways of the land than we had known. He found our hiding places and laid in ambush for us. He started killing single men. He killed brothers out hunting together. He tracked families for many miles. When he killed he brought the bodies back to lay at the feet of the vo'êstaneo'o. In better years we would have avoided him, but there was nowhere to go. Every day he would take another one of the Real People and destroy another family.

The Elders said we should stay away from Misty Blue. The young men and women wanted to kill him. Finally the Elders agreed.

Ó'ôhóme taught us to learn new things. A long time ago he stole the secrets of the Ho'néheo'o but warned us not to use them too often or the Ho'néheo'o spirits would be angry. But they are gone and will not return, so we have been using their tricks more and more. The Elders talked to each other and decided to use one of the most dangerous Ho'néheo'o magics.

For weeks they sang a special song. Everyone heard it for many days' journey around. People came in ones and twos. They came in groups. They traveled terrible distances to answer the call and become something the Ó'kôhomeho are not – a war band.

I told you that Misty Blue knew the speech of the Real People. As they arrived he stayed closer to his lodge. He didn't hunt. The Warriors, because that is what we had become for a little while, explored the boundaries and drove him closer to his home saying “Stay close to your masters, Hótame. Our babies will be weaned on your blood before we kill you!”

He grinned showing all his teeth and said “I see you, and I am not afraid! If you go away I will only kill a few of you. If you come closer you will be destroyed.”

Everyone thought this was what a man says to give himself courage and frighten his enemies. Only a few of the Oldest were uneasy. They did not trust the Ho'néheo'o magic that made the air taste of blood and bitter roots. But the time for talking was over, so they held their tongues.

One day there were enough Warriors. Dozens maybe hundreds of us surrounded the demons' cave that he guarded. The whole war band ran right past the vo'êstaneo'o in broad daylight to attack Misty Blue. He did not run. He charged screaming and got one before the rest of us were on him.

Then the air was full of thunder and fire shot from the demons' arms. Warriors died as wounds appeared on them from nowhere. The brave ones who stayed died in tens and dozens. Many who ran died. The last thing that my uncle's uncle saw as he looked back was Misty Blue. He was covered with terrible wounds and disemboweling a woman who ran too late. As we ran he yelled at us “Come back! I am Misty Blue and fear none of you!”

How many Warriors died? We don't know. The Ho'néheo'o magic had called them from far away. Every family lost someone. Some families lost everyone. It will be many years before we are frightened enough to use it again. And in a terrible way things were better. With so many of the Real People dead there was almost enough game for those who were left.

Misty Blue lived. But the magic had worked at least a little. He disappeared for a long time. When he returned he did not hunt us anymore to lay at the feet of the vo'êstaneo'o. We observed the truce and so did he. If some young hunter was not cautious or killed any of the demons' buffalo Misty Blue would lead a hetane, a male demon, to kill him.

Misty Blue lived many years. They say he lived twice almost twice as long as a man. Finally he was old and could barely walk. Then the oldest hetane he had raised took him from the lodge and killed him near the boundary of its land next to the territory of another clan of vo'êstaneo'o. A strange thing happened. The demon was singing a Mourning Song for Misty Blue when one of the young hetaneo'o of the neighboring clan pointed at him and began to laugh. In a moment the first demon had crossed into the other's territory and was about to kill him when an older mâsêhámâhta'sóoma arrived bristling with authority and curled his lip. We knew the clans were enemies, but the second demon, the one who had laughed, cowered and ran and was never seen again.

That is the story of Misty Blue. That is why we do not kill the demons, even hatchlings, and why we only take their animals when we are starving. The vo'êstaneo'o are dangerous. But we are the Ó'kôhomeho, the Real People. We are not as big or fierce as the Ho'néheo'o. We do not need to beg like children the way the Hotäme do. We are clever. We can live anywhere. Now go to sleep grandchildren.
A couple days ago Bobbe found a quiz that shows what planet you should rule or are most in tune with. He's got an affinity with Mars. Me? Well, let's just say that nobody was surprised...

You Should Rule Yuggoth

Yuggoth is the cold planet at the edge of the Sun's protective gaze. It is the abode of Things too horrible to name.

You are perfect to rule Yuggoth because you are crazed, amoral and motivated by vast cyclopean forces that have shredded your puny illusions of sanity.

Your enemies fear you. Your few friends never let you get between them and the door.

You look great in tentacles. Or tentacles look great in you. Or something like that.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Self Portrait

A photo of Pavarotti plus one of the Promacoteuthis Sulcus from this page

gives a pretty good image of my Inner Eldritch Self:

Todd Erven has a somewhat different take...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tentacled Joy! Cosmic Horror! The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival

Doom may have come to Sarnath. Every year the highly-regarded H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival comes to Portland's Hollywood Theater. I've been going for a few years back when it was still at Portland State University's 5th Avenue Cinema. It's been good and getting better ever since. A few years back it outgrew the PSU digs and move to the Hollywood Theater. Lots of eldritch horrors. Plenty of films (three days, three screens). More swag than you can wag a pseudopod at.

This is the Hollowod. It really does have just the right look of baroque genteel decay for the King in Yellow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mental Dredgery

Stories, pictures, maybe the odd animation or even a poem or two. We'll see what gets pulled up out of the depths. More run of the mill stuff will end up in the other blog.