23 Roads to Mythville
An apocalyptic journey across America and meditation on the imposition of order in space, both cyber and dirt real. By experiential author Douglas McDaniel, who explores the mysteries of American networked life. Read more

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

One Quarter Now, One-Click Wars to Come
A collection of essays on the media arts during a time of war, the book looks at everything from cyberwar to video games, as well as technology and violence in the new century. Read more

Ipswich at War
A few days after Sept. 11, 2001, poet and essayist Douglas McDaniel moved to Ipswich, on the North Shore of Massachusetts. A collection of poems from that period of fear and anxiety, as well as the polemic essay, "Media Arts and War."
Read more

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Glasnost Lost
As an act of defiance after the botched election of 2000, experiential author launched himself into a journey into the underworld of American life, or, what he calls: The Science of Descent. Read more

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Godz, Cars & Cannon
Experiential author Douglas McDaniel launches drives into the networked thickets of American life, looking for signs of myth and romance in the age of automotive machines.
Read more

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Many Moons the Mythville: The Collected Road Poems
Poetry written during a 10-year span of criss-crossing America in a roving-eye view of the turn-of-the-century landscape of Mythville, or, as the author puts it: "It's all a bunch of Mythville." With work from four separate books by Arizona-based author and poet Douglas McDaniel, the bard-inspired voices of Milton, Blake and Yeats, as well as the saturnine streak of early beat poesy, ring through this collection of poems and essays. From the southwestern deserts to the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, "Many Moons to Mythville" is a foot-to-the-floor blast through the mythical roads of American life.
Read more

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Human Search Engine

The journey continues as the quest for myth in an age of information overload leads to online life as an editor for Access Internet Magazine. A story about all human search engines as they chase the ghost in the machine.
Read more

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

William Blake in Cyberspace

Experiential author Douglas McDaniel takes on the visionary art and poetry of William Blake, comparing an otherworldly worldview to that revolutionary, romantic era to our own wild, wired, mythic world.
Read more

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

The Kachina's Son

Poems about the Four Corners area written while author Douglas McDaniel was living in Telluride, Colorado.
Read more

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

The Road to Mythville
A collection of poems on the new millennium in America, drawing from decade of bouncing across the country as a journalist and Kerouac-style poet, from the Southwestern deserts to the shores of New England and back again.
Read more


Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

"Think Surface, Wallpaper"

And that's the situation with the magazine business in Phoenix, all expressed oh so confidently by Desert Living editor David Tyda, who was trying to elucidate what kind of fill goes between the ads at his publication.

Print journlalism in America is so far removed from the First Amendment it can scarcely raise a mute defense against "surface, wallpaper." The skin-deep marketplace dictates all. Economic forces shape the printed word in order to appear before the overpopulated media frenzy to promote "surface, wallpaper."

Read more:
Forty Days of Fire Forty Days of Rain
Noplacia was once my name,
That is, a place where no one goes.
Plato’s Republic now I claim
To match, or beat at its own game;
For that was just a myth in prose,
But what he wrote of, I became,
Of men, wealth, laws a solid frame,
A place where every wise man goes;
Goplacia is now my name

- Thomas More,
from Utopia

To continue reading
Click here:
Greetings from Mythville
A lot has been happening in Mythville for the past full year. First off, a number of Mythville contacts have been successfully self-publishing their books. See:


Jack, Jill, The Hill and What Tumbles After

She opens her eyes
as the red glow
behind Chipeta Peak
shines for me

Dive into her bossom
Feel her warm breath
on top of my Hopi head
as light undresses
her mountain throne

Coffee, banana bread,
Telluride sangrael,
a musical bead in her bed

From afar, they are white-
capped pyramids of snow,
but these mountains
are not white at all --
they are not purple, either,
though majesty they define,
they are silver-shadowed
ribs and vertebrae,
blue stone mixed milky,
like a pearl that forgot
its roundness
Soft hollows next to
proud, broken peaks,
if whiteness means purity,
then where did the white go?

Look inside, my love, to your heart

Pointing proud and lusting up
at the belly of this paradise
A trickle of the senses
perhaps a frost-induced

Is this what an echo looks like?
What happens when clouds
become solid?

Sweet purple pearls in a bed
afloat on dreams?

Dreams that take care
to trust
in the tossing seas
of love

Your embrace. Your trigger,
moist and alert.
In the moonlight, starlight,
your skin is alpinglow
as you sleep

Waiting for the last musket blast
to pour me out of the city
like a dry wine, aged, and restless
for drinking this desertscape,
unbecomes me quickly,
my vanity, the snow,
calls into blood
a fast pace, this tempo,
a slow burn, steadying the shifting
eddies of wind at my back,
by a mountain tree marked
and bonded to the land
through red drapes fillled
with hemoglobin, oxygen
and eros to a time
just around the bend

Sunset shoulders
across my back, a blow
peached rosy with violet
blue-seeded brightness
aflame with the glory
of the day as it passes
to bray at the moon
from afar

The sun sets in a skin
so vain, so knowing,
like the dark flowers
of sunset, in bloom,
closing to the tides
of right watchfulness
a gaze sets, too,
on her brow

The Sun Ra comes and goes,
the heart remains true

Song of songs,
Song of Solomon
He who by twin angel
cast the dice

The way of love
is the way of climbing
up the truer chambers
of the soul

The harvest of the spirit
looms like that moon

Mellow mountain,
music a melody
John Denver's yoddle
down the highway

Winter's western dreamtime
sings your name
Western dreamtime,
San Diego, Kansas,
Cleveland and Maine

Eastern star,
order of the Golden Dawn
These are the haunts
we're hunting down

Slow going,
by the window,
strength in tires
water over
the brotherland
Navajo beauty beings
along the golden path,
a snake in the water,
born in the earth,
a cool shuffle of cards,
a smile

Water born in the desert,
died again in a flutter
of ecstasies and denial

Come winter, snow rises
on the high country,
your country,
where your histories unfurl
like long flags
symbolic and won
through sacrifice

I am aged past knowing
upon the bride of a bold
new dawn, when my
circle of the night
wraps around our sleeping
cold lands

The perfect stasis
is the yearning of the years
In turning, the winter
comes to spring

Joy, a fountain, under ice,
waits for our warmth
to come

The sky, as interpreted
by Stevie Ray Vaughan,
says so


Birds, sounding their song,
in a tree by the city
center of consumer America,
where a cool breeze
winds through the corridors
sighing by shop windows
through which hundreds
and thousands of bodies pass,
eyes wide open, stoic, blank,
or perhaps they are shut blearily,
seeking a stimulant mind bath
to improve
the sense's perceptions

Density soars, like those birds,
on air

Late fall, light behind shades,
winter's unequal
is a desert season
when warmed light
fuses with the muse

Plato's power is temporary
but true

The information we seek
is within me,
within you

Baubles hanging from trees,
red, almost fluorescent dangling things
defying gravity, they wait
for a gust of wind,
to rise on a blanket of air
to vibrate with currents,
sound, undulating eddies,
defying pavement, flickering
in the twinkling ebb of the new
evening ...

The somber wail made me glad,
alive, at brightness, lingering
in the dark while the white-winged
angel hovers over the city,
the air currents
as comfortable to those
feathers as the land
we walk upon,
hot waters from beneath
the surface
to percolate
into a dream of you

The water is blue,
the sun, light red,
tinged in rosy glass,
orange blossom scents
in the open passages,
mingling with honeysuckle,
sickening sweetness,
absorbed essence into ether,
beyond time, in space, beyond
temporal, spatial coherence
to bring pollen to you, old bee,
signs of springtime,
in this winter of the desert,
which is more like fall
in Iowa, the sweet smoke
of life burning the eye

Can't keep me from feeling you

Intimacy inside this tree house
is just beginning

In justice, trust,
simple phantoms of light
cross these eyes, these nights,
when the Scorpio moon is full

She tires when the city closes in

The course womb of technological
chains sap the strength

The clock ticks off time
with Zen patience,
wild escape ...
One is for frame,
the other, wings

Doubts are just stars
passing in the sky

At these times
one must remember
to keep the eyes
focused on the ground,
the thing that doesn't move,
your own deceived dreams

The question of standing solid
is eternal
since the world is ever
in flux, and love, the binding
goes hand in hand
with being ever present:
The head resting on me,
the perfume of tender,
temporary embrace,
the lock on love
is breezy and free
to challenge the atoms

The space is sad and true,
the welling up in the poisoned eyes
is moisture misspent
in the fullest expression
of tossed trials of us

Within this scattering
of principle fact,
the flower
as the highest vibration
of perfection,
folds and dies

Then the rules
of unity are a secret,
leaving just reasons
and no role,
no well-beaten path,
no free will,
just heaviness, loneliness,
a vacant presence,
unwound by a mere moon
that's bigger than me,
bolder than you


How is it possible
William Blake
had no children?

How is it possible
I no longer miss
lost treasures?

How is it possible
I've come so far
but feel so short

How are Santa Claus
and Jesus Christ?
Only poets shape
religion now

Hiding Place

Beneath the stairs
the chair

On the steps to the stairs
cusps of dog hair,
hair of the dog

By necessity
the form follows function,
the words fill in as needed,
but why debate?

Sagittarian answers
anticipate Capricorn
doubts to follow,
and so the star chart
is sewn into the sky

She cooks a Martian meal
as acid rock rolls overhead
making a bead
toward a Spaniard sea,
rolling home, a teal green
reason to roam

The bowels, thrown out
of Promethean Safeway aisles
swim the the Hummers,
as a million bits of music
stop at the coast, suddenly

Betrayal of the Senses

Rehearsal night
wound up tight
Hiding from the light

She puts on a dreadful fight

Laughing till it's right
One moment in her light

The traffic trough
is thrown aloft
The tossing game
is in the wrist,
the choice, the gift,
the rift and lift

Sweet sensations bend
our insides, the morning
is a shadow wide
as the time creatures we are

Burned purple, burned into glories,
abounding with starlight,
dead as pearls, the shimmering
medleys of open space,
the snaky road, the river canyons,
the shifting sea

Get out of the children's way,
she cried, the hibiscus
blooming beneath the sun,
powered by the sun, seems
to be awake, but necklaced ladies
in the city street sweeper scene
roll on toes of lost dust, memories
of great barbecue bins
of baby blue ribs

We are the icy fires
of cigarette stares

Man with the Book
next to us just don't care

Come summer, maybe even before,
the creature comforts will become
barren, a lizard's breath
of contagious fumes
and furies

High heat, pressure, will rush
across this desert floor
and the ungainly winds
of the dust devil,
foul of feeling and terminal,
the terminous, the gate,
the gate through the imperfect
primrose path

Prometheus seeks the light,
then gasps for friends,
associates, who, for lack of
a better purpose,
shatter their wine glasses
and move on

To be lost in all of this glory
parts well with this story:
She's cross-legged in a chair,
in blue jeans, lost in a Valley
of pizza boxes, neon, tortolini
and light


Receive a free PDF of “Many Moons to Mythville”

Poetry written during a 10-year span of criss-crossing America in a roving-eye view of the turn-of-the-century landscape of Mythville, or, as the author puts it: "It's all a bunch of Mythville." With work from four separate books by Arizona-based author and poet Douglas McDaniel, the bard-inspired voices of Milton, Blake and Yeats, as well as the saturnine streak of early beat poesy, ring through this collection of poems and essays. From the southwestern deserts to the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, "Many Moons to Mythville" is a foot-to-the-floor blast through the mythical roads of American life.

”Many Moons to Mythville: The Collected Road Poems,” by Douglas McDaniel

“Cool, modern beat poetry/prose the likes of which would make Kerouac and Burroughs proud. Douglas McDaniel's images make me want hop in my car and take a road trip to some mythical psychedelic diner in a lonely Southwestern town. "West Coast Storm Warning" and "What Would Water Do" are particularly effective poems.”

-- Philip Hardy, “Kingdom of the Hollow: The Story of the Hatfields and the McCoys”

Bards of Mythville Books
Forty Days of Fire, Forty Days of Rain
Automous Author
New Media Shredder
Radio Free Arizona
Enviro Digita
Come, See Jerusalem
The Bard of Artville
Baseball Dot Lit
Ipswich in a Time of War
Willy B in Cyber S
Telluride Sang Rael
Time Enough for Smoke
Mythville Books


Telluride Sang Rael
New Media Shredder
Automous Author
Radio Free Arizona

Google Search: Mythville

Participating Bookstores

Borders Books and Music

William Blake in Cyberspace

23 Roads to Mythville

The Road to Mythville

Northern Arizona Poets

Bob's Beach Books
Lincoln City, Oregon
Bob's Beach Books

The Book End
4095 A Logan Road
Lincoln City, OR 97367
(541) 994-9393

Belsian Sands Oracle
#220 Aquarium Village
P.O. Box 404
South Beach, OR 97366
(541) 867-4777

Bloomsbury Books
Ashland, OR
290 East Main
Ashland, OR 97520

Filthy Cabbage
Lincoln City, OR
(541) 996-2390
The Filthy

The Well Read Coyote Bookstore
Sedona, Arizona
Well Read Coyote

The Book Store
Cottonwood, AZ
885 S. Main St.
(928) 634-5658

A Step In Time Books & Gifts
Main Street, Camp Verde, AZ
(928) 567-4377

Mama Java's Coffeehouse
Phoenix, Arizona
Mama Java's

Creative Authors Bookstore
CAB Online Books

New Literature Storytellers
New Lit Online

UK Authors Online Bookstore
UK Books Online
Greetings from Mythville



She leans into the sea
keening a song
from the Madonna vagina
of the deep as hailstones
ring white pins honed from Hawaii
and a tide of low pressure
rounds up upon the shore
of the Forty-Fifth parallel,
a crowny curtin of thorns

Unknowing from the unquiet
slumbers of lost ships
still melting in icy currents
below the surface,
the seagulls scatter
and defecate upon her:

Rise, O rise, storms across America
Your plastic passions await you
as cars stream in from the Orient
and gas passes through your ports
of entry, pleased, as they are
from the total penetration
of the perfect plan

Star of India, our captains
catch colds in the bowlegged
polarities of warm seas
and freezing skies
The sun, well-timed,
is a clock-face ticking,
hidden from our view

America, may the tilted jet stream
blow a gale of goth up your nose
May the ocean rise and plaster
a new continent where truth,
chased in the wind, wakes
the ghost dancers from
the Pacific to the Atlantic
before the living dead
can get out of bed

Shipwrecked sailors
found lost at sea
discovered homes
in their own faces,
in bindles of woody words
crushed to hand-length bits

After forty days of fire,
forty days of rain,
the northwesterly El Nino
sheared shanks of wind
off the Oregon coast,
then brought a low blow
to slap the soiled temples
of the City of Angels

Driftwood is piled fore desire
against sandy beach stumps
and stop gaps, infinite and wise:
Infinity stopped here for a day,
a deluge for the dead,
so I could admire
our wood chips,
our broken bones

A winter-long windshear
plucked the breath
from my pressurized lungs,
turning my fire to water.
I floated some, then burst,
mounted a floating oar
then sank into an orb
of sand

The sun, beyond the grey wail,
shaped a man inside here,
inside this calamity of clams;
one-part plastic,
one-part fishhook,
a bonney redwood mast,
a skull & crossbones flying,
walking the plank on dry land
without an anchor, who cares?

Setting of these banalities
of life aside, let me perscribble:
Glass floats on the beach,
I've found, and the ebb-tide
of the avenues are a roar
of trucks in the rain

On tuesdays, Great Food
is closed in a seaside town;
and what a tree lacks,
the wind whispers;
and loving couples
strand tennis shoes
on the frosty morning shores
as missiles are clicked
into load in the underground
caverns of Iran

Also this: The electric truth sheds
the oil slick skin off the CIA
and sickened seagulls
reel in the ninety mile winds
and Pennsylvania miners
with black lung bibles
defuse the threat
with another tragic
mind blast

The sun goes up
and Mercury goes
into retrograde
as our satellite's
telescopic echo fades
and techno-pop
becomes the sea
in which we wade

The camera's eye
is just a catch
for this cuckoo cluck house,
our mourning latch
and what is least
is that which lasts
as buzzard gulls sift
through black morning trash
and I try to unlearn
this noisy cache
of highway moms
speeding by bullet blasts
and taxi driver Thanatoss plants
look like gods in camouflage pants

Glass floats on the beach,
it's endless, at last!
The end is coming near
and it's coming here fast
It's time to drink
from the pirate's flask
and toast a tune
to all of that glass,
to the sun, the sky,
the nuclear smash,
the currents, the past,
the pounding surf,
the manic search
for meaning and gas,
the molten glow,
the melting snow,
the rivers that run
through those who know ...

Glass floats on the beach,
the ebb is endless,
it's here, at last


OK, we get it. The big ape climbs up the Empire State Building and swats at 1920s era bi-plane aircraft. It's just like "The Titanic," with the most horrible thing imaginable happening at the end.
Why should anyone need to see a remake of "King Kong," this time directed by Peter Jackson, who won a warehouse worth of Oscars for his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy? Is the trick for success in this kind of endeavor simply doing the most horrible thing imaginable with more visceral detail than the predecessor?
Yes, the 1933 original with Faye Wray as Anne Darrow is an icon of American cinema. But the 1976 version, the Jessica Lange in the Anne Darrow-dress version, already spiffed up the possibilities, in terms of our cinematic appetite for pseudo-erotic destruction in technicolor. About six months ago, another remake, “War of the Worlds,” succeeded in rendering the most horrible thing imaginable to audiences, and considering the world-weariness of our eyes tuned to the 21st century, that’s a pretty neat trick. But “War of the Worlds” didn’t make as much of a splash last summer during a season awash in action films.
However, in this version of “Kong,” the director has managed to subdivide a lot of new territory into the story, transforming it into a world-class “Moby Dick” on American life, a tragedy for the ages, a veritable MacBeth for the McCulture.
Rather than just relying on amazing action, Jackson sets the stage with useful character development in the movie's first hour or so, building the tension. A fly-by-night director (played by Jack Black) pulls together his movie production team in the 1930s to film scenes on a mysterious, uncharted island. Returning the original story’s period and character styles to the 1930s restores that “Lost World” classicism film buffs will love.
Thus, to find an actress to fit the Ann Darrow dress, we are led to “discover” and fall in love with a new “Kong” heroine, Naomi Watts, who plays this role with tenderness and athletic panache.
Jackson hammers the viewer over the head with the idea, but it fits: “King Kong” is, if rendered with a hand sensitive enough to show the story’s tender side, worthy of Joseph Conrad's “Heart of Darkness.”
And so man-as-movie-director is a parallel to the beast, a Kurtz-like paramount ego. In a perverse demonstration of man’s ability to Disney-fy the environment to meet his own greedy desires, a super-sized ape capable of winning a brawl against the most terrifying of all creatures, the T-Rex (take that, Steven Spielberg), is as vulnerable as anything else to the worst beast of the jungle: man as mortal creator.
Of course, this symbolic brainstorm notwithstanding, let’s just say the action is so intense, you’ll come out of the theater covered in popcorn, as if the bucket had exploded in the back-draft. Guys, if your date doesn’t weep, get a new girl.


Human Search Engine

Go ahead, give it a try: At Google.com, if you ask the question right, you can find and download the entire script to the oddball British comedy classic, “Monty Python & the Holy Grail” in just a few clicks on your mouse pad.
But remember this, fair knights and damsels of the information age, as they have always said about computers, if you put garbage in, you will get garbage out. When using an Internet search engines, you have to know something first. Because with these magical machines called meta-search engines, if the question is too broad or any part of the information is misspelled, there is a very good chance you will end up in the information abyss, swimming in a sea of sales pitches, pop-up boxes and who knows what else.
So do a “Boolean” search on “Monty Python & the Holy Grail” and “What is your favorite color?” which is just the name of the film and a line from one of its best scenes. Forget about who or what Boolean is (or was). He was some kind of 19th-century mathematician and why they call this kind of search that is “much too silly” to think about right now (to borrow another line from the movie). Just remember to put the question in quotes (or forget about it because you might find a better result without them).
Now click. A series of links will appear. And so will the “Holy Grail.” The entire script of the film, in fact, uploaded to the Web at some point, no doubt, by some film devotee with way too much time on their hands. The 2,000-year trail of one of the bloodiest, most legendary, most mythic quests in human history is reduced to two clicks on your computer’s mouse.
For the moment, let’s set aside the arguable fact this is not the actual “Holy Grail.” But, keep in mind, it is most likely the wrong one (or just a series a clues to the fabled relic), for later.
Now, during the film, “Monty Python & the Holy Grail,” the misfit knights and Arthur, King of the Britons, come to a crossroads when they meet an odd, grimace-faced old man who guards a bridge that crosses a gorge. This is the “Bridge of Death.” It is also, for the purposes of our story here, the passage across the information abyss. Standing in our way is the “Old Man from Scene 24!” He is the keeper of the Bridge of Death. If you are a researcher of any kind, you must face this curmudgeonly troll. He may appear as a schoolteacher. Or, as a woman at the window at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Or, what stands between you and that delicious recipe to Raspberry Torte. But surely, at some time in your life, you must face him, her or it many times.
He will ask you three questions, perhaps, the film debates, five. If you get the three questions right, you may pass safely. If you get any wrong, you are cast into the Gorge of Eternal Peril.
Let the quest begin!

Alice Duncan is neither a king or a troll or a knight, but she is a traffic cop for a lot of questions asked at the crossroads to the information abyss. She is a reader’s advisory specialist. What is that? Well, somewhere between the burning down of the great library of fabled in days of yore B.C. Alexandria and the birthday the very first Dewey decimal, but well after Dewey had formulated a system for library categorization, Duncan became what they used to call a reference desk librarian.
“A lot of libraries have changed from calling it a reference desk librarian,” said the reader’s advisory specialist at the Driftwood Public Library in Lincoln City.
The Internet, for example. That faceless digital troll at the edge of the Gorge of Eternal Peril, in the fabled age of Google.com, has a counterpart with a human face at the library.
A face that’s happy, eager even, to help you.
“People have interesting questions,” Duncan said. “One local writer might be looking for the origins of an Indian word, or want to double-check on some information.”
Indeed, on the Internet, a great deal of information is splooged together into an amorphous mess. A universe, if you will, of unconscious data. You might be able to find a fact, but it will be in the form of numerous secondary sources. The real McCoy is often going to be buried in there, if it’s available at all, at a specific single location.
It takes a human mind to navigate and decide which bit of info is authentic, and which is from the source.
The trick is knowing what to ask. That’s the role of the human search engine.
“Sometimes people don’t know how to phrase the question,” Duncan said.


The “Holy Grail” film opens with the king traveling with a man clicking together two coconuts behind him in order to simulate the sound of horse hooves. He comes to the gate of a castle and already, in Scene 1, he is frustrated by two guards asking impertinent questions by two sentries to the gate of the castle about his so-called horse, and where he got the coconuts.
Now, a king has gone to school and knows knowledge is power. If he went to proper king school, he’s learned in the classics of Greek literature, and knows of Plato’s allegory of the cave, and its metaphor that he who rules sees the flame of the fire in the cave, while his subjects only see the flickering of the firelight from the shadows on the wall.
One of the guards suggests to the annoyed king that the coconuts could have been carried from Africa by a swallow. The king, irritated by the debate, is warded away, but a key to information needed in the movie is given away. First, there are two kinds of swallows that are relevant: African and European. Second: Only one migrates. And three: Lectures the guard: “Listen, in order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings 43 times every second.”


A reader’s advisor, like a king of the information age, needs to know things. Indeed, Duncan is a master researcher.
“I’ve had lots of interesting new questions. Here's one of them: ‘What is ambergris, and can we find a picture of it?” ” she said. “I've had a vague idea of what it is, ever since I was a kid ... Weird chunks of a waxy substance chundered up by whales, bobbing around in the ocean and washing up on beaches, and had heard that people once collected it for concocting exotic perfume. ...”
When the library visitors asked about it, she looked it up in several whale books and encyclopedias and articles, and learned that it's a “biliary concretion” formed in sperm-whales' intestines, thus helping protect their digestive tracts from sharp objects – such as indigestible squid beaks (... This may sound funny, but it isn't to the whales.)
“Ambergris has been used for ages as a stabilizer in perfume-making, to slow down evaporation, although many modern makers of perfumes use synthetic substances instead,” she said.
“Apparently freshly-ejected ambra-grisea smells whalishly fecal – but sun-exposure and sloshing about in the salty sea makes it oxidize, and the scent mellows out to a sort of mix of musk and rubbing-alcohol.”
They even found a picture. It looked like “a cross between oil-blobs and horse-poop clumps, although it also can look like slabs of beat-up wax or chunks of concrete; sometimes pieces are found that weigh 100 pounds.
“One source estimated the current price at $20 a gram. So dogged beach combers may want to keep an eye out for it ... though it's said to be more common in the Atlantic ocean, and the shores of Asia and Africa and New Zealand and the Bahamas and South Seas ... (almost everywhere but here!)”
With such good service, the library visitor is satisfied, getting more than a chunk of both experience and information by asking to the right question from the right person.
Now, that’s service.

At the Bridge of Death, each knight is asked a series of questions. The results vary. Sir Launcelot of Camelot is only asked “What is your favorite color?” He answers it and is allowed to pass. Sir Robin is next, and gets a tough question and, failing to respond correctly, is thrown into the abyss. Sir Galahad is asked about his favorite color, waffles on his answer, and is thrown into the pit, too.
Indeed, it’s a lot like Google.com. And you can wind up wasting a lot of time, and energy, in the process.

At the library, Duncan is a multi-tasking reader’s advisor.
Students ask a lot about the Periodic table. Kids want to find books proving or disproving whether “dragons are real,” she said, since for whatever reasons the legends of yore are still very much on their minds. People who rent their homes often ask about locating information about landlord / tennant laws. Builders are often pointed to the “Construction Estimator,” a popular set of books and CDs for building projects. A lot of the information and assistance she gives out has as much to do with how to use the computer as where to locate information.
“The Internet is great, but my job is leading people to the books,” she said. “There’s a feeling you get in the brain ... there’s just something that happens with a book. At a computer, it’s just hard for many people to read for too long online.
“People are overwhelmed by the amount of information that’s on the Internet, and they prefer to speak to a real person.
“Sometimes you need to ask me a question before you need to know what to look for online.
“You need an answer back before you can ask the real question.
“If you help people find a piece of information, they will thank you for helping them find it. It feels good to help them to find it faster.”
Indeed, a reader’s advisor is a way to put a human face on the information age.

Completely annoyed, King Arthur faces the old man at the Bridge of Death.
He is asked, “What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”
“What do you mean?” he responds. “An African or European swallow.”
The keeper, not knowing, is thrown into the information abyss himself.
He’s asked, “How do you know so much about swallows?”
“Well,” Arthur answers, “you have to know these things when you are a king, you know.”
During the 1960s, the world was asked to take a “sad song, and make it better” by the Beatles. And by another high-water mark from the era, “The Graduate” we learned from the iconoclastic film that if you were a young man looking for a career, there was one thing, and one thing only, to look into: “Plastics.”
The director of “Rumor Has It ...,” Rob Reiner was a member of that generation, and the first place we saw him was as the hippie dippy “Meathead” in the show, “Archie Bunker.” In this film, the creature of an age of questioning values and of outright revolution asks us the question, can a good film be made about an even better film?
Well, it certainly plays homage to “The Graduate,” which starred Dustin Hoffman as the post-college graduate trying to come to terms with the new plastic world, and Anne Bancroft as a seductress twice his age. The real-life legend of the Pasadena, Calif., pair that inspired a novel by Charles Webb, is “the rumor” addressed in “Rumor Has It ...”
And the screenplay by Ted Griffin is pretty darn good. It’s a good story with a number of witty lines and surprising turns. Even better, Shirley MacLaine makes the most of the part, overcoming the fact Bancroft is no longer with us to reprise the role, by delivering one of the supporting actress perfomances of the year. Her portrayal of the real “Mrs. Robinson,” made famous by the Simon and Garfunkel song usually associated with “The Graduate,” is completely believable. And Kevin Costner is a warm friend to have around in the film, too.
One critic for the Boston Globe slammed the film because Reiner has political inclinations in the Democratic Party. The reviewer, Wesley Morris, wrote Reiner chose a pre-millenial, “Internet Gold Rush” era setting only because he “couldn’t stand to set the picture during the Bush administration.” Maybe. Maybe not. You could make points either way, since the Bush era is about crushing a revolt, and both the “Graduate” and the Internet are about revolution. But this film doesn’t work for one reason, and one reason only: “Plastics.”
Such as the performance by Jennifer Aniston, everybody’s sweetheart, yes, but with no more range than the pre-packaged nervous nelly we all know and love (or is that loathe?).
Which is why this film may inspire a new motto for these troubled times. And that motto should be: “Brad, we forgive you!”
Promotional Rescue

Want to talk about an apparent act of genius in marketing, a total reinvention of the pop process? Think “American Idol” had taken the idea as far as it could go, to excess, even. Think again.
Yes, “American Idol” improved upon the way a star can be invented in the post-MTV world with grinding, repetitive shows that hatched new stars with the up--and-coming buzz by marketing them in a “Survivor”-like series of elimination rounds.
In the end, after a televised season that was more like a truncated baseball campaign with a glitzy, overexposed finale, you came up with a “star” who had yet to even record a single note of music, other than a promotional jingle or two. Once the show was complete, the winner of the “Idol” title was handed over to the big wig music producers, who are now, even as we speak, marketing a new generation of performers who mostly sing other people’s songs, thus making the idea of a “cover” song hip again.
Maybe it was somewhere during the rising appeal of long-haired and barefooted southern rock “rebel” Bo Bice, who placed second in the most recent “American Idol” pageant but changed the game all the same, that the genesis of the “Rock Star: INXS” show was born. Though it had less appeal and appeared to be an obvious copy cat, the show had one thing working for it “Idol” may never achieve: INXS was already a name-brand act. With a serious, proven backlog of material to perform. A huge, dedicated fan base that, even after the death of lead singer Michael Hutchence due toan apparent suicide on Nov. 22 1997, continued to live on in the form of an extensive and sophisted Webring of fan sites.
Yes, the band had lost a lot of momentum. The Australian acts best days appeared to be locked in the 1980s, despite recruiting ex-Noiseworks lead singer Jon Stevens in 2000 to attempt to replace Hutchence, who, at his best, was a phenomental frontman during the band’s heyday.
He was a hard act to follow. Even though the core of the rest of the band remained remarkably intact with the Farriss Brothers still at the helm in after 23 years of playing music together as INXS, something was missing.
Seven years after Hutchence’s death, the lead singer job for INXS was available again, like a for sale sign in front of the fabled mansions of post-New Wave, pre-alternative pop-rock. Enter the show, “Rock Star: INXS,” which included 15 contestants vying for the job last summer in an extended televised audition.
Fortune, a Canadian, was actually chosen in a controversial move for the band. To replace Hutchence at all and keep the band alive was rather like trying to replace a Mick Jagger or Bono. It tested the credibility. In fact, to seek a replacement under such tragic circumstances may remain anathema to many hardline fans of INXS’s legacy in Aussie-bred rock.
But bassist Garry Gary Beers believed all the signs were right to bring the mouthy, charismatic Fortune to the mic for another round on the road. As he recently told E-Online:
“At Michael’s funeral, it was a clear day. As we were putting the coffin into the hearse, there was a lightning strike ad defeaning thunder clap out of nowhere, and it poured rain as we drove.” Then, two years later, a sudden thunderclap struck again as they were scattering Hutchence’s ashes in the Himalayas. “Let’s put it this way,” E-Online reported last week, “if Michael’s spirit was against us, he would’ve made his voice clear during the auditions.”
If there has been any echoes of thunderclaps at all, it has been in the resurgent popularity of the band, which comes to Lincoln City’s 1,300-seat Chinook Winds Casino venue for two sold-out shows Jan. 20 - 21. According to Matthew Mingrone, marketing director for the casino, the booking staff took a shot at bringing the band to town for the second stop of its tour, just as the “reality show was in its final week.”
“We’ve always looked at different acts for the younger customers that haven’t been here in the past,” he said. But this was too good to pass up, a band with a popularity base going back to the 1980s, thus, appealing to the perfect demographic, adults in their 30s and 40s. “That’s a good core group for our casino,” he said. In a way usually reserved for the likes of Wayne Newton, announcement on Oct. 15 of the INXS shows here melted down the lines for reservation ticket sales in three days.
Thus proving INXS, too borrow a line from one of its songs, “New Sensation,” is now a view sensation.


Pedestrian Blues

Three miles from Costdale
Half a mile from home
Got everything but the girl
I guess, and, of course,
that’s not enough

I’m three miles from Costdale,
half a mile from home
Got a coat, a hat & vest,
Gonna test the West,
a road that’s rough, I guess

Forty four on Indian School,
Forty six on Highway 101
All the while time’s clicking
on my heels wondering:
What would running water do?

I’m fifteen-hundred miles
from Costdale, Arizona,
but a hundred miles of gas
will do. Gonna do what lasts,
the past is past: Ninety more
miles will do

Clipper Ship

Overlooking a seawall
cracked silly open by
a storm with ninety
mile per hour winds,
the fourth one in forty days,
eighty nights

I crawled on the floor
covered with newspaper
sports, scores and more,
scrambled for my glasses,
when the pressure dropped

I gasped for air, a coal mine
canary who could breathe
the bubbles of God’s
invisible clipper ship,


And when your hear
the sucking sounds
And fear the rain
between your coats
Go on out, row your boats

The pirate of porn walks
the land, regretting, since
he can’t see his spyglass
he’s peering through,
can’t see you, combing
your hair, back there

Don’t worry:
You looked fine

Mormon Book of the Dead

People in hell
want ice water

People in heaven
want a cup of Joe

Thoughts Written on a Canyon Map
During a Coffee, Bidi and Piece
of Some Kind of Prettily Made Bread
While Gazing at a Hummer-Covered Parking Lot
at a Gentrified Surbuban Republican Bistro

I charted this course
with a red string
on a map of black chalk

The roads are many,
the final choice, new
I climb up the cafe canyon
walls to get a better view,
to see over the trees
and see my way to you

Having returned like Prometheus
to my city in pretty chains of light,
the rains have stopped like Porches
braking in the sun, which burns,
big and bright, drying this coffee stop
tabletop with its eviscerating truth

Gathering force, moving toward
the majestic and mysterious,
the merely merrily whimsical
snowcapped peaks of Ouray,
just a day away, as Latin horns
are piped through soccer moms
in sweatpants and motors purr

Is this city immune to war?

This cream of violence
rises to the top
For what they eat and taste
and buy and like,
they will not stop

Mechanized sweet, sweet soap,
the umbilical sword of the clean,
is the last potable hope
of water for the healing
and giving peace a hearing

And while the danceworld cult is searing,
I advance across an asphalt clearing:
In my heart, the key is just the start,
this language of escape
is now my art

West Coast Storm Warning

The world’s end wind
is just a frantic curtain call
of polarizing sun, oceans
rising before the fall

The world’s end wind
is you, watching TV,
swearing me away
as if tea and Tiffany
were a mortal plug

I know I’m going mad
The world’s end wind
is shaking sense into the house

The world’s end wind
has blown me off the tracks
The world’s end wind
puts the cat in heat asleep

The world’s end wind
is you on a bucking final horse
breathing sweet acetyline

What Would Water Do?

The water would run to work,
but turn, gone amok at the work corner,
toward the One-O-One
to drink a red eye and puff a smoke
in the early morning Ra

The water would pick up
trash along the way
but wait for more force
to finish the job

The water would arrive
on time and unplanned,
feeling out each empty
bottomland space
since every handmade
space is disorganized

The water would percolate
in the apocalyptic heat,
catch the wind
and go fly a kite

The water would commit
murderous rage and recede,
unpleased, unsatisfied,
moving on the moon