Friday, March 27, 2009


It may be my cookie disease but whenever I see the logo on my YAKIMA roof box, I see VANILLA. I don't like vanilla cookies, so perhaps it's one of my other diseases. The roofbox was a last minute addition to the adventure and an invaluable one. There's 16 cubic feet in there and it's full. All the stuff used to be inside Hobox - no fun at all.

I can't reveal all of the mysteries of the Vanilla Box, but here are some of the contents:

And then there's nighttime. When in urban settings, it takes a bit of planning to get into warm sleeping clothes, brushing teeth, and related activities. When away from nervous eyes, I can deploy the curtains, originally designed to keep Solomon cool inside the car when I'm off galavanting in the brutal sunlight.

Their better use has come as light reflectors for working in the car at night. A bit of velcro on the car and curtains, and instant bright room.


This is the hot neighbor's cat, cruelly named Tobias for a coloration that paints a permanent pair of cutoffs on his leg. He and Solomon had a stare off when they met.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

HOBOX TOUR - PART TWO: the bed, OR Springtime in Colorado

I've been skiing plenty of times, been in snow a lot, but having grown up in Miami and living the other half of my life in Los Angeles, I've never greeted the day in a quaint little town to a foot of snow. It was sunny yesterday, the weather report said it would be colder, but I had no idea. I woke early and was working for a while when Solomon bothered me to look out the window, so I open the blinds and POW! SNOWBOX! Clearly I was rooming next to Persephone (making the devil baby-faced).

Since this feature is about the Hobox bed, I imagined what it would have been like to wake up as usual inside there, total darkness, probably a nice warm igloo effect, and utter panic.

The bed is extremely simple, and can be taken out and put back in securely within a minute. Originally Dean (the co-designer) and I were going to run the base of the bed with leg support all the way to the middle of the passenger seat, but the seat is secure enough to act as it's own base and I still get a normal car if I want. So we got a 2' x 6' nice sheet of pine, stapled a yoga mat on it, then wrapped and stapled down this fabric. Then I put a bizarrely comfortable REI sleep pad over the whole thing and I get almost 8 FEET of sleeping space with room for Solomon's bed at the far end. The legs are 10" pipe with flanges bolted to the underside and free standing on the bottom. Element's aren't completely level from backdoor to the front seats, so I bought 6 rubber coasters and put them under the front legs. Then a short piece of 2' x 4' near the middle under the bed with an eye hook and a cinch between that and the metal support bar for the back seats (which are in a closet in Los Angeles) and the bed is as secure as anything. I can leap onto the bed from outside though I do not.

Next up - HOBOX TOUR Part 3 - the Vanilla Box and Nighttime

Here's a little tableau from my morning snow walk ...

and back to business, Solomon Fink Pin-Up #6 :

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Since there is an ancient Greece component to the novel, I've been doing a bit of thinking about Greek women, naturally. I had the pleasure of meeting one yesterday and had a lovely chat about nothing in particular.

Here is a helpful note for other middle-aged writers: There is nothing more distracting after being taken off the frigid Colorado streets into an idyllic one bedroom apartment than having a wildly attractive, pajama-wearing undergraduate Greek neighbor who looks like this: EXCEPT when she is prematurely taken away on a ski trip with her sweet, baby-faced boyfriend. Try to avoid this situation.


No Solomon pin-up today! (I'm that distracted)

Monday, March 23, 2009


Boulder, Colorado. This last one took three looks before I was convinced it was real. I kept seeing these great signs and finally started snapping, but I couldn't re-discover the first batch.

Full disclosure, I'm a fan of liberal enclaves, though I'm so far left that I've come back around the other side. I want everyone to have their own planet but also be wholly dependent and considerate of each other and be obliged to take care of kids who aren't theirs.


Observation - in twenty years this kid will be deeply miserable to the bottom of his soul that he didn't ask her to marry him.


There is but one sadness I've noticed in our King and I can't believe it took me so long. My vet tells me Solomon's proclivity which I will divulge in a moment is unique to him in all the cat kingdom. When I let him out of the car, several times daily, he ends his quests a little crestfallen, and he goes to places that seem out of character for the world's greatest killing machine (miniaturized). Finally, following him under a stairwell, I recognized the behavior from home - - He's looking for spider webs. He eats spider webs like they are cotton candy, and he misses them dearly. We have yet to find any up here!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


This is where we woke after the night of horrors. It was pitch black and I decided to just go straight over to a familiar city in New Mexico and Taos was the closest one. This was a rest area a few miles from town and when I woke, I was shocked to see we were a hundred feet from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

When we left off last time, what I saw was a herd of Elk who were completely unimpressed with the ton of metal hurtling 50mph at them over the otherwise lonely mountain road. It would have been game over for Hobox and most likely Solomon. For the rest of the journey I was dodging deer, coyote, and gopher-esque creatures.

Next day, we blew through Taos, not terribly inspiring, and I decided to go into Colorado and have a little cheap motel rest, clean Hobox out, have a few showers. Cheap motels are also a favorite place of mine to work.

This was the view towards the Rockies on the way into Colorado City, small town south of small city Pueblo, CO.

A little background on the reason for this locale. I am of the video game generation, from the archaic Pong to the side-scrolling wonder, Mario Brothers, and though I enjoyed them and was fanatical about Asteroids at the local bowling alley, I never got into the consoles that followed. I make a better game voyeur. I wrote and designed them briefly in the 90s, and I think they are a powerful medium for any number of positive or negative ends. For the last couple decades there have only been two games I played with any real interest, and one of them, GTA, I play the way I'm currently driving around the country. The similarity is eerie in fact (I do not spend time stealing cars or killing prostitutes, I played GTA like an urban planner who occasionally likes to get the police on his tail). The other game is something called Galcon and is a game of inspired genius. I think of it as a dynamic modeling for studying the role of power in resource competition. I can't recommend it enough. I won't explain the gameplay except to mention that chat is built into it and as with any social game, you make new acquaintances, the game is global and I chat with Argentina, Kuala Lumpur, Poland, and Missouri every game. Colorado City is the home of the creator of Galcon and his wife, a bad ass player herself, who has horses, a cat called Cat, and a magical goat called Cuzco. Solomon had the pleasure of meeting him (photos on the way).

They took me to a local, crazy wonderful place built by one person who started in 1965, fighting the government the whole way, Bishop Castle. There are much better images if you do a google search. The topmost spire's platform was not built for those over 6' but still worth the death-defying feeling going up there. The Galcon folks were generous and sweet and fun. We watched Buster Keaton, ate waffles, and walked Cuzco around the lake. Oh, and Happy Birthday, ***.

Then it was time to get Solomon some supplies and for me to watch Arsenal, and I couldn't find any city in Colorado other than Denver who played live games, so north we went. I've been working a lot lately fortunately and though the beautiful Rockies beckoned, I had to fight off the sight-seeing for now. We slept here in front of Union Station and watched the game today at Fado's Irish pub where the Six Nations Rugby tournament was dominating the screens so they put us football people outside. We'll be in Denver and Boulder for a bit, working, but I'll try to share any exciting discoveries.

Until next time ...

Solomon Fink Pin-Up #4 (oil change)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Here's me trying to get into the Four Corners Monument at 9:30 pm. I would have leaped the fence but I had no idea how far from this gate it was. Oh well, screw your arbitrary yet compelling terrestrial intersection !

That was in the middle of a very surreal drive away from Page, Arizona yesterday. I have a meeting in Colorado City tomorrow, so I thought I'd see what was between the two points, expecting to rest in Farmington, NM. My evening was two hours across the Navajo Nation, and it was beautiful, but clearly moving away from the majesty of canyon country. There are only very small towns from Page to where I am now, and as night came, I got a strange feeling. I didn't know anything about this territory, I saw a sign saying I was leaving Navajo Nation, and then I was in I Have No Idea Netherworld Near Four States Simultaneously Land.

Now, I've been living in the woods, deep in the woods, in strange neighborhoods, in sketchy parks, in very black nights and very bright ones, I've been woken by alien police, and I've heard the cries of strange beasts, but I have yet to feel the least bit nervous or frightened until last night. There was absolutely no reason, but all of a sudden the car behind me was clearly Satan's charioteer ready to eat me, slowing and speeding exactly the way I was, refusing to pass, until he just disappeared and I was on the road for hours without another car in either direction. I ran through The Hills Have Eyes, The Mist, any number of twisted road stories, like when the nude woman covered in blood runs hysterically at your car in the lights a hundred feet ahead, who you of course HAVE to stop for but is obviously either bait set by the locals who will kidnap you, then grandma skins you and serves you to the family AFTER they've all raped you, or she's a horrible demon who stays totally silent until you've been trapped in a loop of driving forever and she turns into a derisive 95 year old naked woman, OR she's actually escaping from some form of monster which you must now be devoured by.

And speaking of family rape, as the night grew longer and Farmington approached, all these little mining towns started sprinkling the freeway's edges forcing you to slow down. By the time I reached Farmington, I was convinced this was the anal rape and/or serial killer capital of the west (just like northern Florida is in the east) and the night fears just worsened. The worst is the person in the backseat feeling. I didn't stop for six hours or so, so the only way a person could possibly have been inside the car behind me was from teleporting, which would have made it really cool. Then I thought about the logic of the person behind you fear, and in every scenario it's only the creep-out discovery phase that's troubling, I mean it's either some deranged person who will kill you by strangulation which will in turn kill him, or a robber, which is incredibly boring and not scary. It would have to be a deep breathing mental patient whose intentions are totally unpredictable that could sustain the creep factor. Well this took me right out of the fright mode, until I looked up and saw ... (to be continued)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Subtitle brought to you by the men's room wall of Page Library, Arizona. This is the view out one wall of windows (like all photos of this area, it just can't come close to the grandeur) :

I am so overwhelmed with data and inspiration for 1 of the 3 LaB projects that I have to leave here before I totally switch off The Protagoras Paradox onto the related book. Here are some of the things I've enjoyed while in the area of Lake Powell AZ/UT ...

After a day or so here, I decided to complete that visit to Zion and/or Bryce, but on the way I saw a sign reading $25 entrance fee per park, so I looked around and said screw it, there are endless wonders right off the road. This was some baffling abandoned playground?, I jumped the fence, said hi to the scrawny (abandoned?) horses, fed them my apples, and found nothing else but the really cool spiral staircase that leads up to a path to a rope across the pond. Down the road from here was a cave for tourists but they were closed and no one else in the area knows what I'm asking about when I mention this pull off.
This is where the King and I are. I jumped in Lake Powell though it is still winter and before my body lost all sensation, I jumped out. As soon as I drove in and saw the lake I of course planned to travel the length of it but there are no roads other than a small Wahweap Bay inlet. The entire southern border of the lake is Navajo Reservation and the northern is National Monument (created by Clinton in 1996).

And this is exactly where I jumped in, near Antelope Canyon, another incredible site that charged $26, so I shot it from the road ...

This is Powell Lake snaking away from the bay: in the distance is a cannon for shooting at alien ships in space, and also a Navajo owned and run mega coal plant.

Here's a view of Mahweap ('bitter water') bay. There was/is big controversy over the dam that created Lake Powell, the second largest man-made lake...

This is the view of both sides from the bridge over the dam. There are boats on the left side way below doing tours - THAT's the water I should swim in - though I'll constantly imagine the dam breaking.

Then we shot over to Tattoine, I had a meeting with some Jawas (they wouldn't let me photograph their ride). This is another shot from my adventure to come in a movie, but you are looking at what was a shoreline 70 million years ago. Not the bottom of the water, not a random shoreline along a lake or something ...

This is the only part of the world where the earth has worn away enough to expose coastline from the day of this funky dude on the right, NOT a triceratops. They are discovering 80% new species with every dig around here !

On this seashore, I found gazillions of fossilized sea shells, mind blowing experience walking across here.

I could go on and on about the geology and paleontology stuff after my invasive interviews with everyone I could grab in the area, but I'll wrap up. Here was a mini-adventure which started with me photographing bulls outside the fence, and then a very cool hand was zooming inside on a souped-up go-cart and asked if I'd like to take a ride while he fed them. It didn't occur to me until he yelled for me to get back into the cart that bulls running at you might be something bad.

This was our front yard until today. Several houseboats sit about ten pool laps in from the water's edge (I counted about 50 laps across, where I was desperate to get to - and is the subject of the coming movie).

Here's a contraption I planned from the start and finally found a great little campground to try it, but Solomon was not happy and we went back to supervised walks. This area was lousy with jackrabbits that were twenty percent taller than Solomon. He tried to chase them but they ran away laughing and painting eggs at the same time.

And here's a special triptych: SOLOMON FINK PIN-UP #3