Friday, December 10, 2004

The Kaitaks swarmed in like a cloud of migrating geese, wheeling and arcing madly on their whistling horses.

Friday, November 12, 2004

The sad state of plastic surgery c.1455:

Dmitri passed out in the forest whilst enjoying a wide bowl of mulled cranberry vodka. Upon waking up, his face had completely fallen off and was in the bowl, useless to him. He worked on this issue with his paramour, Baba Yaga, and the best they could come up with was a wooden face.

With pewter eyes.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Fana and Foma, the idiot, are waiting out a blizzard, perched in a birch tree in a vast expanse of wasteland.

Fana is inside the tree, peering thoughtfully out from a hole in the trunk, smoking his pipe and resting his head on his forearms like Linus at the brick wall. Foma, the idiot, is hanging upside down like a vampire bat. His eyes are glowing and he is very taken with himself as a scout or something.

They are stuck in this tree en route to Moscow to see the new Grand Prince Ivan III and do some trading at the bazaar.

Unbeknownst to them, there is a strange character also taking a breather in the same tree. This character, who to all appearances is an adorable little girl with a freckled cherubic face, introduces herself as Tsvetok (the flower). She has lost her steward, Uncle Vanya, in the snow, and because this scenario registers deeply with Fana he can see no other way around taking the swee’pea under his wing.

Foma, the idiot, smells a rat immediately and his eternal enmity and distrust of Tsvetok dates from this very first scene. However, Fana has built his entire career on doing the opposite of what Foma, the idiot, says, and is all the more reassured that he has found his mission in life safeguarding this l’il angel. Tsvetok is, we shall discover, actually Perkin Warbeck - the internationally despised pretender to the throne of England, now working as a spook for Dmitri Shemyaka, the arch-nemesis of Ivan III, who is teamed up in preposterous fashion with Baba Yaga. Thus, by taking this adorable little ragamuffin into the inner courts of Ivan III, Fana is unwittingly boring a political hole in the defenses of Mother Russia!

Perkin/Tsvetok is just like the wee Melissa Gilbert, utterly sincere and adorably saucy by turns. Luckily for the readers of this brand-new story, there is a strange medium in the form of Glun, a bedbug who also accompanies the spook and relays messages back to Dmitri and Baba, so that we can eavesdrop occasionally as Perkin assumes his real identity (a moaning, narcissistic little putz) and debriefs with the bedbug.

There are occasional murderous tussles between Foma, the idiot, and Perkin, but Fana of course takes Perkin’s side and kicks the stuffing out of Foma, the idiot, as usually happens. Foma, the idiot, finds Perkin’s moneybag and takes off into the woods to find some vodka and prostitutes. Fana and Perkin climb trees and look around for the idiot, but are called away by the sudden opportunity to hitch a ride with a military caravan headed into the city.

Foma, the idiot, sobers up and realizes he has spent all of Perkin’s money and has had four of his teeth punched out. He is in a dresser in a brothel, and the owner is looking for him. He slips out thru a window and runs immediately into Alnus Rugosa, who is vending his kvas and playing the flute in front of the brothel.

Alnus instinctively stops what he is doing and begins beating Foma, the idiot, with his flute. Then he repairs Foma’s teeth with goat teeth, and gets the story of Perkin and Fana. He checks out Perkin’s leather money pouch and immediately pegs Perkin as a wily German (by which he means anybody not from Rus). Alnus sends out the batsignal, which is a jar of incredibly odorous fermented kvas grounds and fish organs, and Foma, the idiot, and Alnus settle down for a few drinks whilst the batsignal works its magic.

Within a week, both Haji-Girei and Ali Qushji have responded the legendary odor. They work out a plan with Alnus and Foma, the idiot, to waylay Fana before he reaches Moscow.
Meanwhile, Fana is reclining in the back of an army sledge, smoking his pipe Khoshchey the Deathless, and singing gently to the halo of bees who cloud admiringly around his head. Perkin and Glun the Bedbug have poisoned his tobaccy, and Fana slips into an hypnotic trance.

Baba Yaga appears in Fana’s fevered dream in the form of a sensuous, gorgeous Hindu goddess and informs the smitten Foma that he must convince Ivan and Maria to adopt the charming moppet that he has befriended, so that he can inherit the kingdom....
Fana and Alnus leaned uneasily against the mossy heap, watching the snow churn, wriggle and collapse as the unseen creature moved about underneath. Whatever it was, it was too large to be a snow-worm or an ermine, and too completely covered to be a dog or a bear cub. The real head-scratcher for them was the totally erratic path it was following, moving from one stand of trees at a good clip, then doubling back and then pausing, then doubling back again. It seemed like the handiwork of something that evolution would have eliminated many mutations ago, it was so clearly self-defeating and inefficient.

Of course, the more Fana reflected on the uselessness of it's movements, the more clear it became to him that it was just Foma, drunk and tunneling through the snow again, getting frostbite and muttering to himself in the dark.
It's a marvel how bad Haji-Girei's teeth are. They are pustulent and aglow with flavor waves, beetles and pumpkin seeds from last harvest.

He carries a satchel of Agaric to share with criminals.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Afanasy Nikitin used to be an itinerant wrestler with a lovely wife Olga. Olga disappeared into the Russian tundra in questionable circumstances several years ago. Was she kidnapped by Tatars or Kaitaks? Did she go off on some spontaneous pilgrimage without telling anyone? Did she just run off with some rival wrestler??

Well, I'm not telling.

But that was the end of Fana's wrestling days. He just wandered the forests for a few months, calling her name and climbing trees for a better look around, until he befriended a bee colony and began his present career as a wax merchant/adventurer. Needless to say, he is not looking for love in another lady, and there is no hokey-pokey with Olga's sister Anna, who is nonetheless a stalwart companion and advisor.

The romantic angle is only complicated by his recurring dream vision of Parvati the Hindu love goddess. Of course he has no idea what this dream is, and has no knowledge of India or the lands where Parvati holds sway. He is only tormented by her languid lines and bewildered by the thought that this steamy tropical Valhalla may be where his beloved Olga has gone...

Thursday, June 24, 2004

"John Cage Bubblegum"
(Theme Song to As Far As The Eye Can See)

C'est le plus beau
et c'est le plus triste
C'est le plus beau
Paysage du monde

It's the most beautiful
and it's the saddest
It's the most beautiful
Landscape in the world
- Stereolab

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Coffee originated in the highlands of Ethiopia
where its beans were originally chewed
rather than infused
for their invigorating effects.
It spread into the Islamic world
during the 15th century
where it was embraced as an alternative
to alcohol
which was forbidden (officially, at least)
to Muslims.
Coffee came to be regarded
as the very antithesis of
alcoholic drinks
sobering rather than intoxicating
stimulating mental activity
and heightening perception
rather than dulling
the senses.
-The Economist
Obviously he has orangutan arms. they swing and there is a long pause before they make contact with the object, who may have long since forgotten that he was in danger. A regular knuckle-dragger.

In regards to the early importation of "coffee" from Islamic world... perhaps that kvas ain't really kvas after all, eh?? That would draw in some roubles, non?? Maybe Fana himself can get an angle here.

Fana has a stout heart, which we see via x-ray periodically à la Popeye's biceps, what with pistons and Sherman tanks and whatnot that make it immediately clear that his mind is made up.

His renowned relationship with bees: a devoted horticulturist despite veneer of antipathy to his surroundings. Perhaps some romantic allusions to Queen Bee, who may provide him with salty dialogue (NOT imagined). In addition to breath vapors and random Specks hovering about his person, Fana sports a halo of loving bees.

Foma is a jaded mall rat who ran away from Dal-Tokyo because it did not provide his with enough stimulation. He is not very deep, but not simple either. Interested in meaningless relationships and sensory stimuli. Has continual monologue with anyone in earshot, or talks to himself like the pimply adolescent he is. Boogery woodland punk, sticks with Fana because of change of scenery, monsters and money. There is no sentimental bond whatsoever. Who likes Foma? Princess Maria thinks he's cute. Olga has lascivious thoughts about him, only because she has a crush on all of God's creatures. Alnus has no problem drinking with him, although that's not much of an accomplishment either. Haji-Girei and Scand in particular think he is a hopeless cad who should be fed to the wolves. Poisoned, shot and drownded as it were. Friends include Perkin Warbeck.
Brotherhood of all believers... plus um, others. Fana sneaks into Dmitri's hideout and plays tricks. Flaming leather pouch with wolf poop in it.
These cloaks should never leave the forest.
Thumb sized bully with giant moustache.

Balaban Pasha.
Whittling on a birch branch, Dmitri Shemyaka listens attentively to the report by his drone Mahmudek, whilst the twin brothers Kasim and Yakub look on menacingly. Their spy is infiltrating the court of Ivan III and will finally poison the pretender

Monday, January 12, 2004

Foma ignored everyone around him and continued crouching over the icy puddle, disturbing the water periodically with his thumbs, and daubing the manure onto his face. He appeared to be making the letter L, or a sideways smile, or some kind of imaginary scar.

ANNA: You don't know where that manure has been, Foma. That could irritate the skin, or

FOMA: This is going to make me a WARLORD, man. A WARLORD.

HAJI-GIREI: It will keep the flies away from the rest of us, which I look forward to.

F: You have no IDEA how many powerful people wear these markings, to distinguish themselves from zombies like YOU. HA! This is probably the best day of my whole life!!

AFANASY: Foma, do you mind getting some firewood together? I'm going to incinerate you.

F: What's that?

AFANASY: Nothing.
Afanasy pensively unwrapped his right foot. As he afternoon sun passed cheerfully through the clouds, he made a mass of scraps of fabric, twine, gum and fur that had kept his beloved foot warm for the past three months. Sure enough, he had lichen again. Monak began to bark convulsively, and vultures began to whistle approvingly to each other and convocate overhead. Afanasy leaned back onto his elbows, grinned and waited for the lichen to unfold into the Russian spring.
AFANASY: She hangs around with him because she thinks he's going to get rich.

HAJI-GIREI: He has way better interpersonal skills than you, yozhik.

A: He's a psychopath who kills for sport. He ate one of my old girlfriends and made pants out of her. Doesn't that count for something?

H-G: Not if she doesn't know about it.

A: I told her about it.

H-G: She was drunk. Tell her when she's sober.

A: When is that? At church? I'm supposed to tell her this stuff while the priest is talking?

H-G: Have Maria tell her.

A: She doesn't believe most of what Maria tells her anymore, cause I told Maria to tell her all that nonsense about the civet salesman from Tashkent.

H-G: Send her a letter!

A: I can't write. Except for numbers.

H-G: I'll write it for you, yozhik.
It appeared to Afanasy that all three of them were moments from asphyxiation, what with Furtwangler throttling Mathis der Mauler, and Mathis garroting der Krusher with a filthy towel. Der Krusher was just stepping on Furtwangler's purpling face. They were humming in unison, some solemn teutonic lied. Afanasy, thinking quickly, dipped into Mathis' cloak pocket and disappeared into the howling snow with the Fernstrom of Power.
Only Ali Qushji appreciated the humor in the situation. He gestured to the moon, whispering lovingly as if to a spurned lover, and began working the dart from his neck.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Afanasy's brows creased into a tangle of gulleys, like unto a parched saltbed. He was swinging with inhuman focus and intensity, back and forth, from the unlikeliest branch of a frightened birch, and was moments from swinging himself completely around.
He blamed his discomfort on the impertinent ladle and began to throttle it, pinching it murderously between thumb and forefinger with both hands. GGGGGGGK! he croaked. The poisonous gas sauntered disinterestedly through his clenched teeth and trachea, and nestled approvingly into his alveoli.

Foma thought he may have blacked out entirely, but it was difficult to judge with any certainty given the notable want of light at the bottom of the well.
So, Foma fell for a long time and no time at all. He landed on a gauzy mound of mosquito bodies, bruising his duodenum.
Afanasy told Foma again about the thick acrid gas coming out of the well. Monak growled disgustedly at the cloud, as mosquitoes dropped, confettilike, into the dirty snow. Foma immediately grabbed the kvas ladle from Afanasy's hand and leapt, wordlessly, into the stone-lined well. The occasional ring of the ladle striking the walls would periodically carry up through the mist. Afanasy turned to Haji-Girei and asked what sort of taverns were close by, as he was feeling a little ready for supper.

"That boy is asking for trouble. Got less sense than a bear cub." announced Haji-Girei.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Haji-Girei then reappeared on the haystack, his right pinky extended coolly as he held the bowstring taut and quivering, moments from releasing the arrow into Potsherd's skull. "Do you have anything of value that might dissuade me from ending your sad little life?"

Potsherd rolled his eyes in two different directions and put his fingers into his ears. The frosty wind blew his badly-trimmed hair back and forth across his balding head. His pig, rooting vigorously, bit his toe.
"My belly has ticks on it, and they roam in ever widening circles like a Busby Berkeley movie."