18th July 2014

Bravograndia: it is my feet that find the way

The Serene Realm of Bravograndia was born of pride and sadness. Its nationhood, and the love of its citizenry, is rooted in the blend of peoples and habitats, each necessary, inextricable, that gave rise, among others, to me. The sadness that called it to being is the sadness of a lover of people, a lover of creatures, of plants, a lover of all their communities and the community of which they are all parts, a lover’s lover mired in a society that has discarded or suppressed ideals that alone can redeem it.

Bravograndia thrives as a mental refuge, a redoubt of hopes and dreams unassailable by the polities that claim its landscapes. Its foundation is rooted in those landscapes, the life that inhabits them, and all the nations of the Bravograndian expanse. It is to Bravograndia that I belong. Homeland of my spirit and aspirations, it overlays, or perhaps interpenetrates, the territorial pretensions of imaginary (if heavily armed) republics.

Long before I could put a name to the Serene Realm, it called forth my loyalty. I was born in the imaginary nation of the United States, in the imaginary State of Texas, in the City of Houston, second child and second son of Donald and Rose, residents of the City of La Porte. Precocious, I understood from an early age that actual values shaping the world had little to do with values publicly expressed, and that if the latter were hollow, the former were horseshit. For better or worse, it was the hollow word that resonated within me. Despite the pressure of market and peers, I was inoculated with language meant to mouth but not hear. Unable not to hear, I made that language song and the song a ruler by which to measure the frontiers of emergent Bravograndia.

Traced on a map, the Serene Realm centers on the great watershed of the river known on one bank as the Rio Bravo and on the other as the Rio Grande. Its southern edge follows the Rio Panuco from mouth to source; its western border is the continental divide. The most northerly point of the Bravograndian expanse is somewhere on slopes in imaginary Colorado that drain to the source of its namesake river. More generally, its northern border follows Palo Duro Creek to the Prairie Dog Town Fork and east along the Red River proper until,  in the vicinity of Highway 910, in the imaginary State of Louisiana, it jumps to the Mississippi. The border jumps again to include the entire north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, grading finally into disputed lands east of Picayune, in the imaginary State of Mississippi. To the southeast, it is washed by the Gulf of Mexico. An epiphenomenal nation hidden in plain sight, these are the conceptual and material frontiers within which I formed.

The Serene Realm of Bravograndia is a parliamentary anarchy with no head of government and no head of state. Recent efforts to tally indicate that either thirty-six or forty-two parties currently hold seats in its single Chamber of Soliloquies. The count is complicated by the fact that I hold the proxy for every constituency, and some days distinctions between camps can be drawn more readily than others. Some allow for no distinctions at all. There are days replete with diplomatic missions to meadows and clouds, to lunatics and dreamers, and to numberless invisible worlds, upon which I, as Solitary and Unique Minister Plenipotentiary of the Serene Realm, am pledged to attend. Even those days, however, prove no inconvenience to tourist or immigrant. Bravograndia requires neither visa nor passport, no record of immunizations, no special currency, no minimum purchase. At any hour, from any point, travel with good will and generous spirit to the edge of what is taken for granted. With no backward glance, turn sharply into “What if….” Greetings and welcome to you who lift your sights, clear your mind, and wish.

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1st July 2014

From the patio this morning

The strawberry gives back

The strawberry gives back.

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21st June 2014

Tomorrow and tomorrow and now

Future vision of myself as a lonely old man trying to hold attention of busy folks came recently into focus. The experience was sobering. People’s eyes really do look like they glaze over when their interest strays. The eyes, that is, of individuals who hold still long enough. The eyes of those too quick to be caught simply see right past one. Right past me, at least.

This learning experience was not among strangers. Those who suffered my conversation, or who fluidly avoided it, were creative people that I know, like and admire. They are not unkind. To the contrary, their discomfort was a result of the fact that they did not turn and walk away.

Seeing the stress I caused others was sobering, but not really surprising. These past couple years I have had to confront the effect of my presence. I have had to rethink my place in the world because, with gray hair here and sixty approaching, behavior that was acceptable in a forty-year old—or even a fifty-year-old—is now creepy. As I have to keep reminding myself, the majority of interactions in any given situation on any given day are simply courtesy. Silly Robert constantly mistakes this for friendship.

The lesson underscores a direction increasingly indicated by the world in which I swim: stay out of the way, don’t bother people, and focus on art. I wish it were different. I wish I were as interesting as the things I create, but I am not. Fortunately, every project in development here at the HQ benefits from solitude. Rose Moon, for instance, waits even now for undivided attention. In that there is a kind of grace.

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15th June 2014

The Rose Moon, 13 June 2014

The Rose Moon in a handheld shot, about 5:30 a.m. on Friday the 13th of June, 2014. Actually a few hours past full, but in the night of fullness.

The Rose Moon in a handheld shot, about 5:30 a.m. on Friday the 13th of June, 2014, Austin, Texas. Actually a few hours past full, but in the night of fullness. Looking out from my front door, across Manchaca Road.

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1st June 2014

Next up, the Rose Moon

That’s right, dear ones, the full moon of June is the Rose Moon. Also known as the Strawberry Moon (when wild and heirloom strawberries really ripen—or used to, before climate change), but that’s imagery for different poeticisms. Because the action of my novella happens under a particular moon of a particular June lurking in a never specified future, I stole the term as a neon signpost of a title. The non-fictional Rose Moon of this year fruits on the night of June 12/13. Should you give it a look, ask yourself what it could possibly have to do with future tech, explicit sex, hallucinogenic drugs and ancient Mesopotamia. Look forward to announcement of an answer later in the year.

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11th May 2014

Once upon a day in May

Not that anyone will notice, but I’ve restricted some ability for readers to comment on this site. My in-box was overwhelmed with demands that I moderate trackbacks and pingbacks from spamming sites, suggesting a sudden failure of the anti-spam plug-in. Wham! No more trackbacks or pingbacks allowed. Likely this will prove no inconvenience for biological friends.

While I’ve got you here I should report on progress with Rose Moon, and other activity. Rose Moon progresses. I’ve penciled about a quarter of the manuscript, a few pages at a time because I remain lazy. The usual excessively purple prose that must be chopped from my early drafts is being chopped. I’m trying to make sure I get all of it, so nothing grows back before final draft, but you know how that goes. I’ve also begun reading a book called, “Learn FontLab Fast.” With an end to Rose Moon in sight, it is not too early to marshal resources for the new Dvarsh initiative.

I also find myself somewhere along the way with a new video project. Working title is Don Quijote/Lonesome Prairie. This project further explores the use of successive hand-drawn images a la [hands]. Like [hands], the new vid will feature an Irish bouzouki soundtrack. Estimated completion date is the same as for everything I undertake: whenever it can walk away on its own.

The time seems to be one of suspension. Moments feel pregnant with energy of something about to happen. I’m a plodder, passing the wait by attending to details. After all the investment, I’m going to have to live on this ark even if it never rains. That’s why I plant dill and strawberries.

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12th April 2014

Rose Moon draft 4 just in time for the Blood Moon

Last weekend I completed a fourth draft of parts 3 & 4 of the novella in progress, Rose Moon. After such a long time focused on other concerns, it’s nice to once again live inside an unfolding story. A fourth draft is sufficiently crafted to show the work’s eventual face through the rough, and I’m heartened by what I see. Like Entranscing, this novella provides foundation for my world that is assumed but never described in the originally planned core novels of The Hidden Lands of Nod; however, Rose Moon is better realized than Entranscing, which remains more a detailed plan for a novel than a finished book. A difference is that with Rose Moon I am doing a better job of keeping my role as organizing sensibility reined to appropriate gaits.

Since finishing the fourth draft of parts 3 & 4, I’ve mostly set the work aside to deal with non-art issues. I did shift all four parts into a single manuscript file, and decide that from this point I’ll revise it as a book rather than separate episodes. Also, the draft I completed last weekend ended with an epilog stuck behind part 4; subsequently, I realized the epilog is actually a scene from early in a future book. It has been removed.

I completed this draft of Rose Moon in time for the “Blood Moon,” which hype is not entirely mine. If you’ve consumed media in the past few days you know about the total lunar eclipse over the western hemisphere on Monday, April 14. All the talking heads are calling it a “Blood Moon.” I hope it is, and I hope the skies are clear for sampling. The current forecast for Austin predicts scattered thundershowers on the 14th. May they scatter elsewhere than around Stikmanz HQ, where the need for lunar red is practical. It’s a rare color, bright with magic.

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25th March 2014

Green Anole!

Beautiful lizard hanging around the invasive nandina I have yet to dig out.

A specimen of my favorite lizard hanging around the invasive nandina I have yet to dig out. Photo by R. Stikmanz.

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18th February 2014

3000 Weeks, a Celebration of Influences

An e-book anthology edited by Amanda Kimmerly from the 3000 Weeks project has been released.

An e-book anthology edited from the 3000 Weeks project by Amanda Kimmerly is now available.

The e-book anthology derived from the 3000 Weeks project has an official release date of February 17, 2014. Selected and edited by Amanda Kimmerly, 3000 Weeks, a Celebration of Influences draws a representative sample from materials contributed to the project. Additionally, it includes a biographical catalog of all the authors, artists and musicians who were the collective reason for this undertaking. A button for purchasing the e-book will appear on this site within a few days. Those already awaiting delivery should see it hit in-boxes sooner than that.

In case you do not make it to the last page, here is text of the afterword I contributed to the publication:

“The impulse that kicked off the 3000 Weeks project was my wish to recognize and honor the milieu from which I emerge as a creative worker. I sent requests for participation to a few hundred people who have had impact through inspiration and community upon the fruits of my own imagination. Not everyone I wish had taken part chose to do so; those who did, I thank and celebrate.

“While this anthology and catalog of participants has been assigned an ISBN and given a price, it is intended primarily as a keepsake of the project for all who made themselves a part, whether through contributions of words, sounds or images, or through profoundly generous material support. My thanks to all. May love and blessings shower each of you.

“The first section of this book is an anthology edited by Amanda Kimmerly, featuring her choice of material from the 3000 Weeks project. Had it been me, and had there been the means, I would have included it all, everything by everyone who answered the call. Amanda has chosen a broadly representative sample to convey the range and diversity of participation.

“The second section of the volume is a catalog of all the authors and artists who contributed to the project, with a brief bio of each accompanied by comment from me. These are the people who came together around the 3000th week in one individual’s life. Popular wisdom claims we are known by the company we keep. I stand revealed.”

-Robert Stikmanz

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17th February 2014

What is happening with the 3000 Weeks e-book anthology?

No one seems to be asking that question except imaginary readers whispering behind my thoughts as I try to bring this project to completion. Even so, the answer as of today is that the 3000 Weeks e-book is so close to done that it is done. Remaining are follow-through and wrap-up.

Last night, after a marathon session correcting the last errors I had identified and making final tweaks to formatting, I sent a hopeful e-mail asserting that the epub version of the book is complete except for the cover image. I could not, and cannot, get the cover image to display as a thumbnail. It is the final hurdle. I kept working on it last night until my head nodded as I dozed off between keystrokes. During one head-bobbing lurch toward sleep, I did something that appeared to corrupt about a third of the material I have spent hours and days over months wrestling into a semblance of credible form. It looked like the test epub I had exported—which would have been good enough if the cover displayed as hoped—was lost. It looked, in short, like I had lost all the work I had done yesterday, which was considerable. I dragged myself to bed mulling the language of surrender.

This morning I found the test epub intact, and—hurrah!—incompetent though I am, I managed to recover all my work. And then I decided that this is good enough. Week after week, I’ve given my limited creative time to this e-book not because I have an aptitude for it, but because there is no one else to do it. My own work has been neglected. No more. Last night’s dozing crisis was a wake up call. This publication is done enough to be done, cover thumbnail or no. Tomorrow, I publish the epub and take the necessary steps to render a mobi version for the parochial e-readers that require that format. Then I send it out to supporters and participants of 3000 Weeks, put a purchase button on my website, and put it out of mind. I have a novella to finish and an oracle to get back into print. Their time has arrived. Forward, into the mists!

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