Saturday, January 21, 2017

I.XXI.XVII. The Pomegranate (La Granada)

I've been woefully lax in updating this venue, but since I've embarked on a new project, it's time I resumed.

I've always been fascinated by language and when I discovered that the word in Spanish for "pomegranate" and "hand grenade" was the same, I just couldn't resist illustrating it.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

In My Dream, part 56.01

In my dream, I was in a large, glass walled restaurant. It was some kind of huge, fancy corporate dinner. I asked the woman in the short haircut at the executive table, "How long does it take to develop a new candy?"

I was expecting the answer to be something like six months. "You can't develop a successful new candy in anything less than two centuries," she said.

I then stood and spoke long and eloquently about forecasting consumer candy-eating habits and concluded with, "Creating a new candy is not something I can help you with -- I'm no cook -- but forecasting what confections consumers will be eating in two years? I'm all about that."

I sat down and the room broke into long, loud, and spontaneous applause.

I turned to my companion (I have no idea who she was) and said, "They're clapping for me?"

And they didn't stop before I woke up either.


Now, a little commentary here: I worked a long time ago as an inventory analyst for Musicland before it became defunct and loved the forecasting element of the job, trying to predict what CDs and cassettes (yes, it was that long ago) would be selling for any of the 1000 stores up to four weeks into the future. It was both fun and challenging.

I have since made several stabs at trying to be an analyst -- and even a programmer! -- since then and have come to dislike and even hate analytics of any kind. Mostly because what managers want to know from the data is...boring. Oh my God, so boring! So many possibilities to learn and the people with the power to know don't want to know anything useful that they might glean from the endless stream of data pouring in!

Sometimes I'm just embarrassed for them. So I'll take the dream applause for my career that wasn't. 

Thank you, Academy of Dreams!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Childhood's End: A review from 2002

Syfy Channel is airing a mini-series in December based on Arthur C. Clarke's brilliant novel, Childhood's End. I originally wrote this review for in 2002:

Even though the novel has never been made into a film, we've all seen the beginning scene in Arthur C Clarke's masterpiece, Childhood's End. It was also the opening scene for the greatest science fiction genre thief ever made: Independence Day.

Clarke has always been an advocate of mankind's pursuit of science and space travel, but this novel takes such a contrary path that the author felt the need to include a disclaimer at the beginning: "The opinions expressed in this book are not those of the author." You see the great alien spaceships that have taken positions over earth's cities are not here to help us to the stars. In fact Overlord Supervisor Karellan says directly, "The stars are not for man."

The Overlords, who do not reveal their physical selves to humanity until more than 50 years after their arrival, are here on a mission. The first stage of this mission is to prevent us from destroying ourselves and to end our senseless cruelty. Even though a number of humans consider the Overlord enforcement of these quality-of-life enhancing initiatives a tyranny, they are soon routed out and rendered powerless.

Childhood's End was written in 1953 and many of the predictions of the novel are accurate (like the production of animated films of photo-realistic quality) while others are not (such as certain racial epithets becoming common vernacular). In addition, it retains a certain period ambiance all the way through even though the story ends some 150 years after it's beginning. I could very easily picture a Father Knows Best style in combination with The Jetsons. The writing is concise, typical of Clarke, my large format paperback is a mere 237 pages.

The story takes place in a triptych beginning with the arrival and intervention of the Overlords in our society, a document of the sweeping cultural changes that they instigated and resulting in the ultimate goal of humanity for itself: The Golden Age. Act II begins with a party to celebrate Rupert's new marriage and ends in a post party seance. In attendance is Rashaverak (Clarke employs the best alien names in sci-fi history in this novel!), an Overlord who has been studying Rupert's enormous paranormal library. At the conclusion of the seance, conducted on a marvelously described future Ouija board, the actual home star system of the secretive Overlords is revealed! This fuels a plot on the part of Jan, Rupert's new wife's brother to be the first and only human being to enter space.

The concluding Act III: The Last Generation, describes the true intentions of Supervisor Karellan and the Overlords, Jan's tour of their home world after the successful execution of his plot, and the ultimate fate of the human race itself. The scope of the story is as terrifying as it is brilliant. Even the physical appearance of the Overlords, succinctly described by Clarke and not to be revealed here, is of tremendous significance to us, so much so that they dared not reveal themselves until the generation living at their arrival had passed into dust.

The ending of the story is both tragic and glorious, fulfilling humanity's most vivid dreams and plumbing its most tragic fears. But the greatest tragedy remains the fate of the Overlords, who want so badly to discover the secrets that humanity holds but knows nothing of, can never express, and will take with it where it ultimately goes.

In my opinion, Childhood's End is the finest science fiction novel ever written. Its concept is exquisite, it's pacing is perfect, it's characters are interesting and deeply motivated. It gives cause for consideration about what our real place might be in the universe and how nothing, nothing may ever be able to prepare us for it.

This novel is Science Fiction 101 and recommended for anyone starving for genius, a quality lacking in millennial age sci-fi.

As an addendum: I have read recently that Childhood's End is at last to be made into a film, though Clarke says in the introduction that he sold the rights almost 50 years ago. All I can say is that it's about time.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

In my dream, part 55.02

In my dream, I am at a banquet meeting in a fancy corporate dining hall that reminds me more of one that might be found in a castle. I am at the head of the table and the department director is sitting next to me on my right. He is dark-haired, cut short, with a pointed, almost devilish-looking beard or goatee. Another, older man is standing behind us, giving a presentation. He is a tall man wearing a gray suit. As he is speaking, he puts a small salad plate in front of the director. It is full of colorful food, like cherry peppers, only smaller. As the man in the gray suit continues to speak, the director eats. When the director finishes eating, the man in the gray suit removes the plate.

Later, as the man in the gray suit continues to speak, he puts down another plate, this time of sliced pickles, in front of the director. Then one in front of me. Then the servers place one in front of everyone else in the hall. We all begin to eat. They are sweet pickles, like the bread and butter variety of which I am most fond.

As everyone eats, the man announces: "This is a sorting round!"

I suddenly realize this meeting is to determine who will be dismissed from the company. The room bursts into a rumble of excited exclamations and conversation. Then the man in gray says, "There is something that you should remember!"

I look over my shoulder at him, then at the director, then back to him and say, "One of us has had one more course than the others." The director's eyes bulge a little and the man in gray smiles.

"Tell them," he says, nodding to the rest of the people, still abuzz. "Tell them," he says again, loudly enough to get their attention.

"One of us has had one more course than the others," I say again, loudly.

The room bursts into outrage. Someone shouts that it was someone in particular, not the director, but I don't catch the name. Several men stand up from their places around the table and bolt from the room through the doors behind the foot of the table. They are going to another building on campus.


I long ago learned that if I remember a dream, my sleeping self is trying to send my waking self a message. There is something I've discovered that I need to know.

I don't know what to make of this, except that there seems to be some kind of "moment of truth" coming -- probably in my job -- and I should be watching out for it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

In my dream, part 55.01

In my dream, I am in the cafeteria at a mall and my friend Aaron is giving me a bunch of hand me down clothes. They are size XXL, but Aaron has never, ever, in the history of the world been that size in real life. I unfold a maroon polo and see on the black tag in the collar that its size is X(G). As I'm refolding a pair of khaki trousers, Stephen Fry and his wife come up to the table at which I'm sitting. I tell him that I hope he doesn't mind that Aaron gave me the clothes that he had given to Aaron.

Later, I'm entering the mall through one of the anchor stores -- it's a swanky store like Macys or Bloomingdales -- with my boyfriend on my way to work. He is wearing a white shirt and dress pants and has short blonde hair. (I have no idea who this man is in real life.) I walk past a mirror and see that I am wearing a short-sleeved white shirt with a silver name tag that identifies me as "John" and "Assistant Manager" of Musicland. As we're about to cross out of the store into the mall proper, I remind him that he will have to come pick me up after work at 12:45 in the morning. As we part, he turns around and walks back to through the store the way we came. He seems aggravated.

I walk down the mall; it is more like a library or city hall common area. As I start to pass a group of people sitting on benches on the left side of the mall, I recoginze one of the men as a former President of the United States. He is aged and has yellowed, stained teeth. He speaks with a Southern accent. I can't seem to place him though, eventually settling on President Humphrey for his identity.

At the far end of the mall is a throng of people listening to a man with a long beard, in black suit and black broad-rimmed hat speaking. He is talking about a murder trial and is remarking to the crowd -- who are apparently reporters and who are dressed for cold weather in 1940s fashion -- about how it didn't make sense for the murderer to use wax as the substance would easily imprison evidence.


I must be losing my mind.

Monday, July 14, 2014

In my dream

In my dream my ex-wife comes to visit, but she doesn't appear until the end. She has brought boxes containing many disassembled mechanical objects, but there is no explanation as to what they are. I begin assembling them while I watch TV. Once or twice, I try to turn off the TV, but there is an errant audio signal that remains for which I cannot find the source. It is dark out when I begin.

Later, because I'm rearranging furniture in my apartment -- not my current dwelling, I might add -- I have to partially disassemble one component, a tricky, complicated assembly that looks like it goes under something else to make it work.

Later still, when my ex-wife appears, she is mysterious. It is clear that she is ill, though she seems very robust. She says that what the device is will become clear and then spreads a large number of golden gear-like ornaments across the table. I'm still mystified of course, but then she produces a small wheel and affixes one of the ornaments as a covering for the hub bolt. It is a golden skull. I remark that I like it, and she says that she knew I would. 

With the introduction of the wheel to the picture, it's now clear that all of these components are part of a baby carriage. The gears are ornaments for the sides and hood. She asks me what I think the pattern should be, so I start o draw a very futuristic looking pram. She says, "That's enough!" at several points, half joking that my drawing is ludicrous, which it in fact is. It's also pink and blue.

I never got so far as drawing the pattern that I envisioned, but I knew it was going to be the Big Dipper and Polaris.


There were also a lot of fragments from last night: a gigantic interior space like a stadium, trying to drive home after what ever event I'd gone there for, going over a waterfall in the car. There were also many more details in the dream about my ex-wife, colors and textures, and furniture. Electronics stacked on a table. Writing on my computer on a desk that faced out the window of my living room. All of it was cast in a bluish, greenish light and felt sterile.

I have no earthly idea what I'm trying to tell myself this time. Any ideas?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dragonfly and Horse

In my dream, Dr. House is sitting with a young boy at a child-sized table and chairs. They are drawing pictures. House proclaims his to be a dragonfly, although it bears no resemblance to one -- or to anything, for that matter.

The boy replies, "Well, mine is a horse."

House then tells the boy, "Yours is a horse because a horse is a strong animal. You've also drawn the horse rearing up, so it's strength is apparent to anyone looking at it. Also, and this is important, if you add imagination to strength, the horse can fly. That's why you drew it with wings."

I awakened from the dream with a clear image of the boy's horse picture. House's drawing was just a scribble and -- because he's a pretentious ass -- he christened it with the most unlikely description he could think of.

Clearly, I'm watching far too much House on Netflix.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Twitter is dumb

Twitter is very, very dumb. I've been doing my very best to help it along over the last few days too. 

Every now and again (read: at least daily, oftentimes much more often), people tweet things that I think are ripe for parody. So I parody. While your mileage may vary, I am mightily amused. And easily.

Follow @Spinoolean and @JGabarronIV. No profanity!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beati omnes idibus Martiis

If people can go bonkers for ridiculous observances like "Pi Day," I can celebrate the orgy of blood and death that occurred in 44 B.C. when Julius Caesar was brutally murdered and the great Roman Empire was born.

What kind of tree does one decorate for this occasion? What cookie does one bake?

You know, but you won't tell me!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Fairy Feller

"He's a fairy feller."
~Freddie Mercury, "The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke," from Queen II

I had an idea to illustrate a favorite song's lyrics as a storybook. The song, written by Freddie Mercury for Queen, appeared on Queen II and is called "The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke." It is a delightful song, based on a painting of the same name by Richard Dadd. The painting itself is lush, filled with delightful fantasy figures caught in the act of celebration and debauchery.

I may yet go through with the project, but I'm caught in a lingering moment of doubt and strangeness. To create illustrations based on a song based on a painting seems...redundant somehow. I suppose artists have had stranger notions than this one though.

For the moment, that's all I have to say.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Stoner Superbowl

I draw a commemorative poster for every Superbowl, but historically they've always been in the future. However, the potential for this year's model was just too good to resist.

Two states legalized marijuana for recreational use last year. Those same two states' football teams have achieved the Superbowl this year.

The Latin on the poster means, "Eat everything."

Go, team.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

In my dream, version 12

In my dream, I was touring a neighborhood near my dwelling. It was a bright and sunny day. The street was lined with neatly kept, single-storey homes, well-trimmed lawns, and middle-aged trees that were full, healthy, and green. There were a few people about, and a few cars parked in the street. I traveled first downhill on one street, turned right for a block, and then right again. This street was curved like an "S" and was uphill.

I was riding a unicycle.

Later, after dark, I came to a busy, four-lane street. I mounted my parked unicycle and darted across the street, being narrowly missed by two cars, one of them yellow.

Still later, I came out of a pub with my friends and, like you do after an evening at the bar, began scampering up and down the roof peaks of downtown residences. The other three got ahead of me and I fell down a skylight into the bathroom of a townhome. The skylight was about one foot square.

I came out into a hallway and surprised a woman who was home with her young son. She thought I was an intruder with malicious intentions, but I managed to say something that calmed her immediately down. I offered to draw her son a picture.

As I was contemplating the art I was about to make, the woman's husband came home and, seeing me, was outraged. I told him the first part of my story, about falling through the skylight, but he wasn't having any of it until the woman offered him an explanation that defused him. I thought, "Well, that's how I got in explained. Now for the rest."

After this, I became obsessed -- still in the dream -- with the picture I was going to draw: a gigantic Brontosaurus-like dinosaur surrounded by tiny, tiny trees.

When I left my new friends, my pub friends had just pulled up outside in their car, intent upon rescuing me from whatever trouble I'd gotten myself into.

When I woke up this morning, I thought that I should write these down. They were quite vivid. But between my bedside and the lavatory, they were gone. Forgotten. Then, a few minutes ago, I saw an image from the production for an opera where two men and a woman were on stage in their underwear, and that caused me to remember my dream, because also last night, after the events above...

In my dream, there was a young man in only a dress shirt, necktie, and socks on a stage.

Dreams are weird.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Monday, January 6, 2014


For a couple of years starting in 2007 or so, I decided to have a 15-minute creative action every day (please see Carol Lloyd's Creating a Life Worth Living). The project was to create a collage from found images on the internet to illustrate Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day.

The rule that I set for myself demanded that the only search term I could use was the word for that day, even for the text used in the image. This led to some later amendments for words that resulted in unusable images or no images at all, especially for the text ("grandiloquent" was one that I had to break up by syllable to find images of text). My searches also sometimes led to some unforeseeable ickiness: I don't remember the word, but my first search netted nothing but photos of open surgical wounds. Delightful.

I didn't miss a day for over two years, and at the beginning of the third, I decided to start creating my own images.

This change resulted in some interesting typography designs, a lot of them resembling Art Deco, of which I'm very fond. They were also often shockingly literal, which was and still is disappointing. But every now and then my imagination would fire in an unexpected way, as it did when the Word of the Day was "engender."

I'd forgotten about this illustration. I giggled a little when I saw it again after all this time.

Being easily amused is its own reward.

*Blogger didn't allow me to put the superscript "n" in the subject. Yes, I'm bitter.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Dark Knight

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Noo Spinoolean Tarot - Darkness

I don't usually stay up this late, but I thought I'd see 2013 out and 2014 in. So far, I'm having trouble telling a difference.

This year, I pledge to:
  • Read the biographies I bought and take notes.
  • Fill my technical pens with ink and draw with them.
  • Say "Twenty-fourteen" instead of "Two-thousand-fourteen."
  • Get younger, thinner, richer, and taller.
That's good enough for starters. In truth, I have a ton of plans and lack the discipline to achieve them. But I aspire.

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Noo Spinoolean Tarot - Seventeen of Christmas

This is the last of the Christmas-themed drawings I did this year. I'd originally planned there to be 55 leading up to the Holiday, then a dozen more for the 12 days of Christmas which, it turns out, happen afterward leading up to Epiphany. I'm not sure if I'll wait until next year for the other 37, or if I'll intersperse them throughout the year, whenever I feel the need for "a little Christmas, right this very minute." I rather like the idea of a complete deck of Christmas playing cards, with a Greater Arcana composed of the 12 days. I've got plenty of time to work it out.

I don't know if I'll make it back here before the next holiday. If I don't, Happy New Year, Everybody!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Noo Spinoolean Tarot - Eighteen of Christmas

In all of our haste and panic in the last month -- just like every year -- we forget what today is supposed to be about. We don't remind ourselves often enough what a treasure belief is, and what the birth of a baby thousands of years ago would ultimately mean for the world.

Even for those who are not spiritual (or whose spirituality has lapsed, like me), no other day of the year speaks so loudly to the power of one person to change the world. No day speaks so loudly of the value of our children and the endless, hopeful potential that they represent. Of all of the days of the year, this one says that we can be better than we are, that we can rise above the noise and desperation and hate and soar like angels. 

This is the Day of days. And we get one every year just like it.

I wish there were two.

Merry Christmas, Everybody.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Noo Spinoolean Tarot - Sixteen of Christmas

Any excuse to smooch is a good one. 'Tis the mistletoe season. Pucker up!

Like me on Facebook. Follow @Spinoolean.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Noo Spinoolean Tarot - Fifteen of Christmas

Honest to goodness, some of the supposed "ugly sweaters" that turn up around this time of year really aren't. This one is, but that was the plan. So, anyway.

My Christmas cactus has buds on it and will soon have flowers. My Mom's two plants were already in unbelievably vivacious bloom with dozens of blossoms on each.

I'd like to say that I'm glad to be home after two weeks, but I've had revelations and epiphanies and some things have got to change. I walked in, set my bag down and said out loud, "I hate it here."

Fa la la la la, lala la laaa.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Last night, this blog crossed over 25,000 views. It's only taken three years. Wouldn't it be cool if I got another 25,000 by next year? According to Google Analytics, 80 unique people will look at this blog in the next month. Tell your friends to visit, please. I'll love you all more than I already do. Besides, it's my birthday in a few days. Sharing my blog with your friends is a great, low-cost gift!

To celebrate, I give you the following bullet list stream of consciousness for your morning. Think of it as Twitter in bulk:

  • Right now, the mountains are pink. The sun is just coming up. It's beautiful.
  • A couple of small rabbits just made their way across the yard. 
  • Yesterday, we watched two buzzards glide on the exceptional winds, barely moving their wings. Then I watched a bunny on a nearby hillock. Then the two buzzards tried to acquire the bunny for breakfast. A moment later, two coyotes visited the hillock. More happens in this place before nine in the morning than in most cities. But for the wind, it happens in total silence.
  • For the entire week so far, the landscape has been enshrouded in thick clouds with intermittent snow and howling winds. This morning, it's clear as crystal and the mountains are freshly whitewashed.
  • I love it when I'm the only one awake in the house. I feel like it's just me and the world. I could live like this forever.
  • With the sky clear, I should be able to get a look at Comet ISON. There's another comet going around the sun right now too. That's interesting, isn't it?
  • My dreams have been vivid, but I'm not remembering as many as I'd like. Last night I dreamt that I was in the midst of aliens and they were all green. Being more informed on events in the universe -- as most aliens are -- I discovered that green is the most common color of intelligent alien life, and the the green guys are fascinated by us non-green guys.
  • My Mom and I just had a brief conversation about climate change. Alas, she is a mouthpiece for Fox News.
Today's takeaways: share my blog and Like my Facebook page because you love me. Follow me on Twitter @Spinoolean because I say things and sometimes they're interesting. 

But mostly, thank you for helping my blog to 25,000 views. You're awesome!