A little child was leading them...

They all sat at my table.

And the man said:



Time Gate - 4

The Resurrection Machine
AD 2135

by Robert Sheckley

There was no way of telling time in the silent Russian house. Cicero and Bakunin drifted like ghosts down its corridors, through its bedrooms, in and out of its provisionless kitchen. Sometimes Bakunin would tell Cicero about his hopes for mankind, his distrust of Marx, his admiration for Hegel. He would speak of the necessity of anarchism, the need to abolish the aristocracy, and the bourgeoisie, and, at last, the proletariat.

Cicero did not attempt to debate with him. Bakunin seemed impervious to reasoned argumentation. His sense of logic was nil. Yet Cicero sensed something desperate and pure and childlike about this tortured and desperate man...

Still, Cicero preferred to keep his own company. He began spending most of his time in the spacious upstairs apartment.

Bakunin took long walks in the woods at frequent intervals. When he returned he would throw himself on the couch and look out the window at the snow-covered birches.

Hanging on the wall facing the couch was a long mirror in an elaborate gilt frame. One day, as Bakunin lay on his couch, he saw the mirror turn cloudy. Then it became suffused with light, which faded and gave way to a black and white image of a man's face.

"Well, Michael, how are you getting along?" Murchison asked.

"Fine, fine," Bakunin said. "But isn't it time we got to work?"

"What are you talking about?"

"I've put things together. It's obvious to me that you are from a future that has finally reached maturity and recognized the inevitability of my doctrine. Rest assured, I am ready to advise, though, true to my principles, I refuse to lead or participate in any government."

"Is that what you think this is all about?"

Bakunin's eyes glowed. "I know that I am recognized at last! My great doctrine has come to fruition! Exonerated, justified, at last!"

"I'm afraid you have it all wrong," Murchison said. "As a workable political doctrine, your anarchy is about as useful as a snowmaking machine at the North Pole. Anarchy is something our political science students study in school. This may seem harsh, telling it to you this way, but it's better to get the position straight."

"If my doctrine is unimportant, why did you bring me back?"

Murchison couldn't tell Bakunin the real reason. The simulacra wouldn't understand the strange mixture of government and business interests that governed their selection.

"You are of historic interest to some of our scholars," Murchison said.

"I see. And what is it you want me to do?"

"It's nothing much. Just talk to some people."

Bakunin laughed. "That's all you people ever want. Just a little talk. Just tell us a few things. But the questions continue, and do not end until you have betrayed yourself, incriminated your friends, and violated all your principles. Yes, I know quite a lot about interrogations."

"It's not like that," Murchison said. "I'm talking about some nice chats with pleasant scholarly men and women."

"Of course they would use that type. You think I can't see through it?"

"Who is this they you keep on referring to?"

"The Cheka, of course, the Czar's secret police."

Murchison groaned. "Listen, Michael, you've got it all wrong. And anyhow, all that stuff is in the past."

"So you say!

"Damn it, Michael, you know that we brought you back to life directly from your head. You realize that, don't you?"

Bakunin thought about it. "Yes, it seems likely."

"Then why not cooperate with me?"

"No," Bakunin said.

"Why not?"

"Because I am Bakunin. I lead, or die, but I do not cooperate."

"Great," Murchison muttered. "That's just wonderful. Look, Michael, this is important to me. If you helped, I could do you a lot of good."

"I realize that you are powerful. Apparently you can, in some fashion, call the dead back to life."


"Then I will cooperate with you," Bakunin said.

"Thank you, I knew you'd——"

"If you will bring back my Antonia."

"Beg pardon?"

"My wife, Antonia. I don't suppose you ever heard of her. She was only a girl from a small Siberian village. But she made my life bearable."

"I'll see what I can do," Martin said. "Meanwhile, get ready for your first interview."

"Not until Antonia is here."

Murchison was out of patience. "Michael, I could turn you off as easy as I turned you on. From your point of view it would be death."

"You call this living?" the Russian said, with a sudden burst of hard laughter. "No, go back to the Czar or whoever you work for. Tell him that Michael Bakunin, a ghost lying on a couch in a place that doesn't exist, defies him in this new life as he did in the old one."

(to be continued on 20090501 )

This extract, recopied here as a tribute to Robert Sheckley, is part of the 1989 Time Gate Anthology edited by Robert Silverberg.


A State of Mind

A strange thing happened on my way to The Wulfshead today.

I was reminiscing this morning about A State of Mind, a 2004 documentary film, which casts an unsettling look into the lives of North Korean families, two in particular, and the lengths they go to so as to "please" Kim Jong-il during the Mass Games, and fulfill their "mission" to be good patriotic citizens.

I was thinking about how some of the people there have radios in their apartment that are always on. The radio can't be turned off, only turned down, and the lowest volume is still 25 decibels!

Imagine that: it would be very much like having FOX News on all the time, and not be able to do anything about it. "How dreadful," I was thinking to myself...

And then it hit me!

Every so often, I take MetroBus, like I was this morning on my way to The Wulfshead, and, well, most of those buses now have flat screens TV installed inside them. Passengers come and go aboard the buses and those TVs are always on, playing a variety of things (including ads) that apparently the MetroBus's sponsors seem to think the passengers should hear and see.

And those TVs can't be turned off either!!!

... And then I didn't wake up, and it didn't turn out to be all a dream.

Judging by the look of the people around me, I don't think anyone else had awaken either.

It is a Brave New World.



Not again!

I don't care how much of an oddball she is. Most of the patrons, here, are, er...eccentric in one way or another---you know that! (And don't get me started on the staff.) Didn't you notice the engagement ring? The lady is practically a bride---she's getting married in April! You know how that is. Would it have killed you to show some courtesy, for a change?

The next time a bride shows up here...

And I mean any bride...

Never mind how kooky she looks or how off-the-wall her order seems to you, just serve the lady what she asks, will you?


1, 2, 3...

And now, for the gentlelady from Malibu, all together now...


... Yes, there have been occasional side effects associated with the consumption of Lightning Grass.

They are subjective and can be quite unpredictable.

Why do you ask, sir?


Well, This is a Fine How-Do-You-Fluffernutter-Do?

I have been waiting and waiting for my fluffernutter sandwich and I demand service, people! I hate to eat out in public by myself and I was counting on the comfort of a fluffernutter to keep me company, but that rude waitress told me that the kitchen couldn't make me a fluffernutter. The nerve! I told her to go get her manager and she said that she is the manager and that I have five minutes before I have to leave. I just hope I can get my fluffernutter in that time. I hate sitting here all by myself. People may not be able to see my engagement ring and see that I am here by myself mostly by choice.

Crap. (Pardon me.) It's been five minutes and no sandwich. There is no way I'm leaving a tip. In fact, I think I'm going to steal that tip off a neighboring table and go buy my fluffernutter sandwich elsewhere.


Lightning Grass

It's not alcoholic at all.

It is far more potent than that: it's tea!

There is a sophisticated yet simple violet flavor to it.
But do "not o'erlook the modest flower
That makes the woods of April bright."

Many places will use artificial flavorings to flavor their teas,
not The Wulfshead.

The bartender says it was collected from
"a bank whereon the wild thyme blows
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania some time of the night,
Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight:
And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in."

I think he was putting me on.

Be that as it may: it is a most entrancing drink.


It is easy to be a philosopher in academia...

...but it is very difficult to be a philosopher in life...


It don't mean a thing...

© Dan Piraro



Just To Let You Know I Wish I Were Here


Rising to the challenge of our uncertain world

Take heart!

Help is on the way................

Now revised and updated for the 21st century!

Because Ethic matters !!!

Get yours, while supplies last.



Sexy Cyborgs from another dimension?

I mean, I don't know this for a fact, but it would help explain BV's ongoing fantasies preoccupation with the waitress and the washroom attendant and whatnot.

A word to the wise: the way I heard it, those sexy cyborgs are not all what they're cracked-up to be...


I have a question about the barber service here at the club...

It seems to go along with my concerns about the waitress and the washroom attendant...



Wealth of a Nation

Get yours, while supplies last.



Now that's refreshing!


The sacred geometry of chance

Astrology... If you ask me, I'd say it's all in our mind...

Today's birthday (March 20): Don't be surprised if the following year brings many uncontrollable fits of giggles. You decide it's your job to feel good, and you create circumstances in which it's easy for you to do so. April brings new friends. Cancer and Libra adore you. Your lucky numbers are
39 and 17.

Utrum fiat tibi gaudium aut dolor, iterum talos iace
Life offers joy along with pain, so take the dice and throw again



VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22). A problem may be solved by throwing a few dollars at it, but the fix is only temporary. Don't think money, think ideas. You have more resources available to you than will first come to mind. Dig deeper.



A walrus will fuck you over every time.


Getting Away With It

Remember that time we smoked a bowl on Wall Street and got away with it? Those were some good times. Good times.


Ageing - Misbehaving

Today is my 29th birthday, so the drinks are on me tonight.

Bartender: I would love a celebratory chocolate martini if it's not too much trouble, but the yin/yang aspect is optional.



Do you know where your walrus is?

Ren and Stimpy: The Salesmen - A funny movie is a click away

Party On!

AIG dudes conferring a couple years back at a hideaway in Georgia.

Folks at the morning radio news program The Takeaway are asking listeners to call in their ideas about what AIG stands for---or what it should stand for. Hey, don't think I'm biased: these people manage our health and retirement plans. Small-minded but too big to fail.
Here are some so far~~~

Amigos in Gold
Amateurs Implementing Guile
Anti Inflammatory Geeks
Assholes Invoking God
As If God
Appalling In Greed
Absolutely Insufferable Greed
Angry Investor Gross

Add Inventively, Gentlepeople!


Somewhere over the rainbow...

Try as I may, I don't know that there is a proper moral to this story. If there is one, it may be best left to the hearer or viewer to determine for themselves.

Just a word of caution, though...

Don't think it couldn't happen to you!

"Words are slippery and thoughts are viscous..." So, choose your words carefully on Saint Patrick's Day.

And, most of all, do use some good solid common sense. For one thing, grow up people, everybody knows that there is no such a thing as a Golden Leprechaun.



Where does your world end?

We interrupt the Wulfshead's regular program for a couple of ads by Century Travel:

Source: 1, 2


New Model: follow-up

The way the management looks at it, what patrons and visitors do outside of the Wulfshead is their own business. Why, rumor has it that last time Harry Fabulous was in, he was offering pirate DVDs of Muppet films from another dimension: Citizen Kermit and Miss Piggy Does Dallas.

As far as I recall, it is a rare event that The Wulfshead objects to anyone's presence here. Apparently they feel like even some of the most atypical visitors give the place character.

However, while The Wulfshead enforces a strict neutrality, I must caution the gentleman that GENOM corporation is not to be trifled with. They are not known for their tolerance, sir, nor are they very forgiving.

What I am getting at, sir, is... I don't want to alarm the gentleman from Oregon, but the word is out that the gentleman has come into possession of an artifact that belongs to First Androids Synthetics Humanoids.

Don't look at me that way, sir. It's not like the gentleman has been very discreet displaying the synthetic artifact at his table for all to see, and bragging about it.

Oh, the gentleman has nothing to concern himself about, so long as he remains at the bar, gentleman keeps away from the restrooms, and other more secluded areas of the Wulfshead. But, as I said before, once the gentleman leaves the Wulfshead, whatever "unpleasantness", the gentleman might run the gentleman's own business.


It is me. I've just been abbreviated.


It wouldn't be the first time I've changed my identity.



Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of Fire

Admittedly, most flaming drinks you can order in a bar today were concocted in the first place for no other purpose than the pleasure of the eye.

I am an uncomplicated man and my tastes usually go to the simple things. Contrarily to a rumor peddled by a recent visitor from Toronto, I, for one, certainly don’t think myself a revolutionary, but I do consider whiskey-drinking serious business. I will, however, willingly concede that people who do take their whiskey seriously, have been known, when circumstances warrant it, to take up arms in the defense of the cause, as demonstrated in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, I am not sure whether this qualifies them as revolutionaries or not.

In any case, the bartender here always keep a bottle of Rye Whiskey for me, which is one of the many reasons I keep dropping by The Wulfshead---Rye Whiskey can be a bit hard to come by these days.

Like most Whiskey drinkers, I enjoy the straight stuff---especially the good stuff. But I will also on occasion allow the bartender to play with matches and fix me his Tom the Toe (also known in some parts as The 1794). The bartender claims that he has met Tom the Toe in person, do you know that? The drink is essentially a combination of Rye Whiskey, Campari and sweet vermouth, with an orange peel garnish. Think of it as a Manhattan with an Italian Twist, if you will. I do not know what the exact proportions are. I have been leaving the details to the discretion of the bartender and I have had no reason to complain. It is always a captivating experience to observe him take the orange peel and warm its outside skin gently with a match.

He lowers the flame directly above the drink and squeezes the peel with its outside skin pointing downward. The essence then hits the flame and sparks up.



A friend wrote today reminding me just how terribly old we've both gotten


Picture Book

I like picture books. They tell the story both with words and pictures.

Some of the best-known picture books include Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Robert Mccloskey's Make Way for Ducklings, and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. All these have texts written by their illustrators... More here >



A New Model

Given the recent, um... unpleasantness... in the men's room, I thought I'd offer this new model urinal. Guaranteed to confuse terminators. But, ah, be careful when you flush; I'm not sure where the water actually... goes.

The rest is silence.

If you need the backstory, read this.


The Boulevard of Broken Dreams

I have been writing about the broken dreams of my middle daughter, and so...



Out of Time?

Happy Birthday, Mr. Carlson!

So good to see you here, sir.

What can I do you for?

What about them Copperheads? They say that Mike Florak has created a nearly limitless potential for the 2009 team. Is that so, sir?

I heard there is a 30% chance of rain in Athens, Ohio, today.

How do you feel about the new President? That Barack Obama guy. What is it going to be, sir? Do you think he's got the right stuff? Can he do it? Can the rest of the world?

Or is it too little too late, already?