Wednesday, August 29, 2007

unreality in the unreal

It occurred to me (one of those late-night wonderings) that if there was modern day magic a la Harry Potter, the bulk of the craft would be about image. I mean, come on, you have several hundred hormone-raddled teenagers and not a single one changes hair color, whitens teeth, or masks the acne? (Tonks doesn’t count; she’s out of school.) Why can’t Neville just give himself a better haircut?

Furthermore, witches would not be hiding, they’d be raking it in as serious competitors to Lancome and the thousand other Muggle makeup companies the writer cannot name off the top of his head. Magic is a broad field, and from that would spring something on a par with Japanese multi-industry corporations, providing cosmetics, couture, foundation garments, hair replacement, and safe alternatives to cosmetic surgery and weight loss. They would also make dishwashers and clean-energy vehicles. Services would include package delivery, gardening, and construction. They could eliminate net meetings, replacing cameras with portraits, and engender the return of the paper letter.

In short, in ten years they would own most of the world. Or at least the Slytherin would.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I wake far too early, blankets kicked aside,
Cold but not cold enough
My hand on a stack of clothes:
Blue soaks into my hand, denim
Smooth leather yields, tender,
To a fine cotton almost silk soft

I open my eyes

Silverspun blur of dark and dappled leaves
The dry speaks the sky’s clearness
The moon at a third, small, away
Will only farther as the night draws on
Yet from distant leagues, all,
All is frosted in growing light

Saturday, August 18, 2007

look straight ahead

While heading out to go hawking I saw an interesting thing on the bridge: a oldish man in the passenger seat of a car, looking through a video camera like he was taping the drive. He seemed very concentrated on the task. I found it pretty funny that for several miles, there was this car pacing his with a hawk in the back seat, and he never saw it. On our way home I got caught up in traffic jams twice, both for about two-mile stretches, both stop-and-go. Out of all that, only one person noticed the hawk in the front seat: a boy, about 10. Everyone else was talking on the phone or being bored or concentrating on the car ahead.

Actually, this should be no surprise to me. A decade ago, when the mate wanted people to see hawks and learn about falconry, we used to take the bird out for coffee (they like theirs with cream generally, and the accipiters take lots of sugar. Sorry -- falconer joke.) It was entertaining to see how many people did or didn't notice. In my hometown we usually got a lot of hits, but in yuppie/boomer Palo Alto, hardly anyone noticed or were curious enough to talk with us.

Friday, August 17, 2007

passage 3

In the living room is a picture of the two. They look pleasant at the first few glances, but the photo doesn’t bear scrutiny if you know them. He tends to be hard to read, but here his smile is too stiff at the corners, his eyes slightly hooded; he looks uncertain. The woman is not all she seems either; she’s leaning forward, chin lifted and brows raised like she’s eagerly watching a competition, but her shoulders are dropped, and the lines around her mouth are too straight to qualify as smiling. The story is at the bottom of the photo, where you can just see their hands on his knee. His is clasping hers a little tighter, but these hands are comfortable, familiar with each other. These are old, deeply etched looks, but their hands counteract it with their happiness.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

her children ate her brains

I went to see Order of the Phoenix today. Pretty good movie, though I found it somewhat choppy, it felt like Selected Scenes from the Novel. It was assumed you remembered who everyone was, which I didn't.

About 45 minutes (45 minutes?!) into the movie, a woman came in with two or three kids and took a seat at about four o'clock. One boy kept repeating "Harry Potter" and the other kids were talking, none too quietly. Several people shushed them, self included, which was effective for all of one minute. After about ten minutes, they left.

About half an hour later, they came back and took a seat on the left side. What the fuck? Worse yet, they sat at 9 o'clock, but fortunately several seats away. They were almost as noisy as before and the retarded one was still repeating "Harry Potter." I found myself involuntarily shrinking away.

After ten minutes, they left again. Fortunately, they did not return.

I'm totally at a loss to find a reason for this behavior. Yes, I understand HP is a children's movie and I expect a certain amount of enthusiasm (although I did choose a weekday matinee for a reason -- the audience was nearly all adults.) Coming in so late, then popping in and out is just plain weird, annoying, and very rude.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I don't worry about the authorities. They've always treated me well; I talk like a reasonable, educated person and I don't have aggressive body language. It's when a guy has a chip on his shoulder that things escalate, and the cops have the guns and the authority. No, it's mostly the annoyance factor of having to answer questions that keeps me from wanting to see them. Second is the fact that very few know falconry very well, even those ostensibly overseeing it, since their attention is taken primarily by gun hunters and fishermen and their respective catches. Sometimes you find yourself teaching them the laws.

Most state fish cops are cool. The first two I met when I was getting my first license. With a nudge and wink he said I couldn't hunt with my bird in a county park, but I could fly it. And well if the bird caught something in the course of being flown, what a shame, but it's only following instinctual behavior. Then he proceeded to tell me of a spot with jackrabbits.

A few years ago a fellow falconer told me a Fish said he didn't consider falconry to be hunting. Now that's going a bit far, but to a degree it's true. Falconers generally don't catch anywhere near the volume that gun hunters do. Those of us who try can release a fair amount of game unharmed. Hardly any of us tear up the countryside on ATVs because we need the silence to hear and sneak around. We tend to fly solo, so we don't leave big camping messes behind. Our quarry is small, so field dressing remains disappear from sight under a handful of grass or down a dibbled hole. In short, we have all the fun, but we tread a lot more lightly. It's a pleasant surprise to have this acknowledged, even if backhandedly.

The feds are much more hardcore. The only ones I've had to deal with are the paper people, for license renewal, but I know falconers who have had to deal with being assumed guilty, being interrogated, being lied to in order to get them to incriminate themselves or worse yet their friends. A lot of dirty tactics. I hope my acquaintance stays exclusively with the paper people.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

new season

I take the hawk out today. The first chase becomes first catch of the season. Taken in the air – all those vertical-jump exercises during molting season pay off. Awesome. A Harris hawk will never have the wing power of a goshawk, but he fights wind and gravity and directs his feet into a quarry desperate to keep its life, and makes success look effortless. The excitement is there: the knee-shaking delight, the wings laid over possessively, the glazed look, even the fumbling and forgetting.

A touch of paranoia rises as I notice two people in a car watching me. They’re driving in broad circles around the parking lot, looking at me and the hawk. They look like they might be foreign, and are definitely too shy to indulge their curiosity in the American manner: driving up and asking what the hell I’m up to. They’re not Filipino security (the best kind to deal with, since they’re firm but mellow and do just what they’re paid to do; white security usually has a chip on its shoulder, being failed police candidates, and is desperate to bust you for something, anything.) I drive away hoping they didn’t phone anyone, that I won’t have HS or the police or F&G knocking on my door.

I’m not prone to paranoia. I don't know why I feel it.

passage 2

The hollowness grew. Intellectually, Diana knew she was feeding it: her phone deliberately left on a table slowly discharging, a string of appointments canceled due to tiredness, her computer full of searches for answers to crossword puzzles that she never completed. The company of women had always bored her. In men she found more camaraderie and individuals she could deem friends rather than acquaintances, but she maintained a thoroughly platonic demeanor on the grounds that she would not debase herself by “throwing herself” at one.

When asked, she was always “fine,” but she hungered for a touch, a smile beyond the professional, required smiles she saw daily. Somewhere along the way, the ground gave out beneath her, taking her guts and heart with it, and everything stopped mattering.

Friday, August 10, 2007

passage 1

In the granite castle Adest dozed uneasily, one hand still clutched around his cooling dick, sweating the drink out his pores, his hair poking him in the mouth. In that nebulous place halfway between waking and sleeping, notions tumbled and merged, grand declarations founded upon nothing materialized, words disengaged from their subjects. Unknown people faded in and away, familiar faces didn’t acknowledge his presence, and the castle had grown metal spars that pinned ideas in place like mounted butterflies. Silhouettes of physically impossible machines, sculpted, dark and spiky, came dragged by shadow men, set into position to kill dreams of ideas, or ideas of dreams.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


That's how I've been feeling. Intellectually the facts are obvious: the mate's not walking in the door anytime soon. Yet I've kept myself pretty much housebound. The bird is molting, so no hawking -- everyone's birds are molting -- and there have been no outside events that particularly interest me. But some part in me still thinks that she's just away for a bit. It's habit and perhaps a little wishful thinking.

I don't know when I'll get over this. But I'm in no hurry, either. When I look at people they seem like nonentities. I can be friendly on the surface but they don't interest me at all; they're benign ghosts taking my money and bagging my groceries or whatever.

Friends break the emptiness for a short while. We talk about current stuff, but the future seems very abstract. I feel lonelier now and can't explain why. Perhaps I'm beginning to acknowledge the finality of death.