A little in the life

Before reading this, I must caution those who are duck sympathizers or apologists. This article may offend you. I have no sympathy for the muscovy. Especially when they begin attacking innocent humans. Yes, the case could be made that no humans are innocent, however, in this particular case, I don’t care.

It began more than a month ago. The large waddling creature I took for a regular duck, a bit on the homely side, appeared more aggressive than the others. He waddled up the hill along Sager Creek at the south side of the library as if he thought I had bread crumbs or crackers.

Nevermind it was 7 A.M. and I was on my way to work. The duck probably just wanted to be fed, I thought. Though there was something a bit more to his movements. A jerky belligerence, as if he were proving a thing. I quickened my step making it past him and to the other side of the road. I looked back and saw he had stopped at the curb, still watching.

The second time was approximately two weeks ago. The duck was in the yard of the Masonic temple that sat above Sager Creek, south of the library.

Walking to work again, I saw him as I stepped from the gravel walkway and into the road bordering the asphalt path that runs along the creek. This is part of the Dogwood Trail. A public access trail for bicycling and pedestrian traffic. It runs twenty-something miles around Siloam Springs and is used frequently. Siloam Springs could be said to be one of the walkable friendly zones in the United States. The trails border creeks, run through parks, through eye-popping landscapes and provide a challenge to even the most athletic of us. This part of the trail begins a run north-south along Sager Creek, through Bob Henry Park.

I noticed him because he made a show of it. Ducks don’t usually appear to run at a person, but this one was quite showy. Head up, neck stretched out, legs carrying him quickly across the lawn of the Masonic lodge, appearing more to swagger than waddle. I stopped in the middle of the road. There was no traffic this early in the morning so I wasn’t worried, but I did wonder what this crazy duck was up to.

Did he think I had food? What was he doing?

When he was within a couple yards of me, I feigned left, he turned and I ran to the right attempting to avoid him. He quickly corrected and stuck his neck out even further, hissing while I jumped and ran past him. Though he didn’t pursue, I thought it odd he would go to those lengths–actually run across the lawn to confront me.

Did he think I was invading his territory?

While considering, I came to the realization that this could not be true. The average daily traffic along the trail is dense. This part of the trail is traveled by children walking to and from school daily. Adults bicycling, local athletes.

The last attack occurred two days ago (4/18).

As I stepped on to the path behind the Mason lodge and noticed him heading in my direction. He had begun to run and I estimated the distance between the path and his direction to it. I thought I could sprint past him without effort.

Another muscovy nearby raised its head and began flapping his wings.

I ran down the path and almost immediately the duck heading in my direction changed his course. Instead of heading straight for me across the grass, he headed for the asphalt.

“No!” I thought. How could he know to head me off?

Fear took hold. I could hear his brief exhalations. Hissing. His body was not just wagging from side to side, it was tipping with the extra effort he put into the run.

A sound of frustration escaped me as I poured on extra effort. I moved past him, barely. He still came and did not stop until I was on the other side of the street. Then he stopped and watched me for several moments.

Shaking, I stood and watched him across the expanse of asphalt until he turned and waddled back to his friends, who swayed their heads from side to side, making strange noises akin to acknowledgement (Right on Brother! You got that human on the run!)

That night after work I told my daughter about the experience. She suggested I do a google search. “Can ducks get rabies?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I grumbled.

I googled ‘Aggressive ducks’, then ‘duck attack’ and came up with several photos of my attacker, or what looked very close to him. The muscovy duck.

This duck is not like other ducks. It is not related to the mallard, but evolved from a different branch. It sports large webbed talons, grows to about fifteen pounds and is incredibly intelligent compared to other birds. Unfortunately, on occasion it also becomes aggressive.

There was one report about a muscovy attacking a ninety-one year old man in the park with his grandson. A woman reported a muscovy flying upon her head and pecking at her face, tearing at her sweater.

That night Tania and I walked to the creek trying to find where the duck and his cronies were laying up. One of the articles said that muscovies sleep near water, though they are not really water fowl.

We found six of them laying along the edge of the creek. He stood on a large rock watching without making any aggressive move toward us.

The next day after work Tania and I found him behind the Masonic temple again. The video below shows a little, but we’re going to work at improving the quality of documenting this bird’s strange behavior.

Tania was laughing in the video, because we were actually prepared for this. I brought pepper spray (just in case) and she stayed far enough away to avoid him.

Anyway, we have picked out a name for him and future videos will dub him Danger Duck or D.D.


Borges on Sunday – Writer’s Life #3

Jorge_Luis_Borges Sunday I did absolutely nothing (but write this).

I decided, at some point, that I would take a break from worries and writing. That my attention would not be riveted to the page or problems therein.

I slept, drank coffee (decaf), sat out on the porch and ruminated about Jorge Luis Borges. His writing seems to be a continual source of internal conflict for me.

I like his work, then I hate it. A profound sentence or passage is replaced with a paragraph that makes no sense. Some of his work, I have to admit, I just don’t get.

Perhaps there’s a point. But there really doesn’t seem to be, in many of his stories. There may be a conflict (there are many), but the climax, followed by the conclusion is missing. Many of his works just end in a death of someone, followed by a brief statement like, “…On the 2nd of April 1898, he died.”

I laugh as I write this, because I wonder what other writer could get away with this today and still be studied so earnestly? No one. Not a single author could get away with the crappy endings that JLB leaves us with. Not any popular authors. We would stop reading. That would be the end of our relationship with that particular writer. Adios Senor.

But there is something compelling in JLB’s stories. The Library of Babel is a spell upon the reader. There is a tendency to want to figure it out. To solve the riddle of the structure.

Jose Saramago, though a student of Borges, is not as difficult. This author pushes through the wall of contemporary expectation and says, “the hell with you all. I will write what I must.” Then he does.

But the writing style, we know from reading both authors is from another time. These authors are not easy reads.

I don’t read them for style, but more because that kernel of story I must acquire. I must know the TRUTH of the work. I need to get to the meat of it, rend it from the bones, take it into myself and understand.

At the end of Saramago’s Blindness, I was not so much satisfied with that rending, as in love with words again. The story was told and I was grateful for it, though it was not an easy journey getting to that point. I worked for the understanding I found there.

Borges is difficult and I want to go through all of his work. The local library has his complete collection; I know, because I asked them to order it and checked it out when it first came in.

But I cannot get through it in two weeks. I don’t know if I could get through it in a month. Not because I could not read through it, but because I would not be able to UNDERSTAND it in that time. I must have a year, I think. Maybe two.

To go through one story at a time and linger on each. Though that idea is a bit scary. Borges’s work has a haunting quality, that speaks a little of mental instability. Or, perhaps it’s that he unmoors my understanding of reality.

[An aside here] My brother was enthralled by H.P. Lovecraft
for awhile (many years ago). A friend of his ran across a book (of Lovecraft’s) that someone they knew attempted to burn.

So when I first heard the story, I thought it came from the annals of Lovecraftian fans, or was something the boys made up from their readings.

The friend was another Lovecraft fan. Someone else had told him about the Necronomicon and another (unnamed) book that was the REAL Necronomicon. It was said (by these several boys) that anyone who read through it became infected with madness. They would go insane, killing those around them, attempting to destroy the book; but somehow, no one was ever clear how exactly, the book came through it and moved along to its next victim.

So the idea was that the book was haunted by something otherworldly. Something strange, yet pervasive and on a mission to destroy humanity or the reality we have constructed.

My brother’s friend ended up possessing it, but the story about the book, by these other people had so cautioned them that no one was willing to open it, much less read it. By the time I heard about it, the book (conveniently?) had moved to someone else.

The point to this little aside, is this: Borges work could be maddening, I think. Perhaps not to the point of insanity, but something close. That to puzzle his work too much, too intensely in a short time, could be damaging in some way. That I would be left haunted by the tales without the satisfaction of understanding them.

I do not enjoy his work (much), but have a feeling I must understand it.

Saramago, though difficult, is not Borges. His style is unconcerned with the reader, but compared to Borges, his ideas float across our minds. They do not work their way into misunderstanding and leave us unmoored. We are on firm ground throughout.

Borges Collected Fictions sits on my kitchen table. I read one story at a time, linger a bit and read through the notes. I have read Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius three times, going on my fourth. I’m working on all the notes and doing the research to see what I’ve missed about this story. There’s something, not obvious about this story. A key to understanding it fully.

I’ll read it just one more time. To get to the point–or the meat–or the understanding. Or perhaps to just finally be able to let it go.

That’s how I spent my Sunday.


Fishing for Ideas or Writer’s Life #2



I’m sick to death of the Broke-artist title, so I think the blog may change.

Possible options:


I know these names don’t sound quite as glamorous as broke-artist, but that’s okay. At this point, I don’t think anyone doubts I’m a broke writer who keeps writing, despite the lack of sales or attention generated to my work.

Is that crazy?

Perhaps crazy-making.

Anyway, if you have ideas for a name for this blog based upon the personality or content, go ahead and leave it in the comments. It may be awhile before it changes, as paypal let me know (through the very convenient monthly updates) that my balance is $1.42. [Thank you Paypal].

In more recent news: an editor for a NY publisher, I met on Twitter, sent me a DM recently and through email, I ended up sending him a copy of Nexus, along with a synopsis and all other relevant information. [Did I mention he’s from a NY– that’s New York–publisher?]

I don’t want to jinx this, but from what I understand, some of the new publishing ‘houses’ are more like PublishAmerica. BTDT.

They don’t offer advances to authors, require a long-term contract and don’t market well.

I’ve only seen a couple of blurbs about this particular company, but most of the information has been speculation. So for now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping this turns into a genuine offer.

The job hunt: I’ve applied to several different jobs in Siloam Springs and am seriously thinking about writing about this experience. It’s amazing how many companies paying minimum wage ask you to devote your life to the position.

In fact, an app I filled out this morning for a food service position had the little agree/disagree buttons you’re supposed to click on.

“I want nothing more than to work in a restaurant.”

I checked the disagree button. I know they want the agree to be checked, but I just couldn’t do it.

Next week, I may post a list of the different types of positions I’ve applied for, along with some of the crazy things they ask on the questionnaire/personality assessment.


Writer’s Life #1

Recently I read the book 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Though I’m usually a quick reader, it took me two week to get through this tome.

Why? Murakami writes densely. That is, he packs so much information into his sentences, economizing on verbiage, it takes a bit longer to get through more than 900 pages.

I liked the book, because the story truly transports the reader into another universe.

Another book I’m currently reading, Ghost on the Wall by Tom Lichtenberg, though much shorter, is much more enjoyable. I’ve just started the work, but already I’m hooked. This is the best of Lichtenberg’s work that I’ve read, and I’ve read quite a bit.

The language is graphic, symbolic, descriptive and raw. There are aspects of life that make us cringe when we see them, sometimes turn away, but Lichtenberg doesn’t allow it. He requires us to look at it straight on and deal.

Work hard and you’ll work hard, that was his own grim motto, and he did his share. He hauled and he lifted, he carried and he fetched, he stocked and he drove, he helped the products of the world find their way around in it, from factory to warehouse, from warehouse to store, from store to dwelling, from homes to landfill, the cycle of life in cardboard and plastic and metal.

The work is reminiscent of Saramago, though there is something reminiscent of Marquez’s, Love in the Time of Cholera there. But of course, I haven’t read through the entire work yet… More on this when I’m done reading.

In other news: I’m over 13,000 words on Taria and happily tapping out at least a thousand words a day. Hoping to find the right editor for Taria by the end of the month and still looking for an artist familiar with conceptual work.

More posts coming soon


Rainy days don’t last

UPDATE: I’ve finished the material for Kickstarter and just awaiting the review process. The video may hold up that process, because it is really amateurish. I’m a writer, but unfortunately not much of a film maker–yet.

I haven’t been writing many blog posts lately, because I really have been working hard at getting things done with Taria of the Dead.

Some of it has nothing to do with writing. I’m waiting to launch the Kickstarter project until Friday, so I have everything in order. Plus, I’m working on another video about the making of Taria of the Dead. It’s challenging, but slowly getting done.

Plus… I’ve been conducting an intense job hunt. I can’t even count how many resumes I’ve sent out at this point, or applications I’ve filled out at local businesses.

So, the blog has suffered for it a bit.

But more posts will be coming this way soon.

Reading Railroad: Rent Day

Monday is rent day. Every Monday.

We, of the — Apartments pay our dues weekly.

My suite, a lower-end, modern-day chamber of horrors, is without a bathroom. I use a common lavatory, of which, there are two. One bathroom has a shower at one end of the
second floor and the tub room is at the other end.

The second floor is for the less fortunate guests. The rooms with no bathroom are ninety-five dollars a week. The rooms with a bathroom are a hundred and twenty. On the
first floor are larger, well-maintained rooms, bathrooms and kitchens included.

On the way to the bathroom, one is always reminded of their circumstances: the tiled ceiling with holes drips when it rains. There are places in that ceiling where bubbles have formed, gravity pulling them ever downward. We skate around buckets placed in the hallway and take care not to walk under those bubbles.

There are spots on the floor where no bucket has caught the water to save it. Those are soft spots. Like a child’s fontanelle, these are fragile spots that must also be traversed. Step on them at your own peril.

Wednesday is pesticide day. That is, the manager comes to each room carrying an industrial sized, white plastic container and sprays bug killer. When I first came to the
hotel, she just showed up one morning and asked me to leave for an hour while she sprayed.

When I complained about the lack of notice, she began scheduling Wednesdays. So we can almost always count on her. But then there are the days she’s a no-show with no
explanation and in this case, we of the second floor know a knock may come at any time.

We are obligated to schedule ourselves around her activities. If we don’t like it, we can leave. Given the lack of affordable housing in this area, it’s not much of
an option. There is no one to report bad housing conditions to and complaints fall on deaf ears.

The landlady and her husband have purchased another building across the street from this historically registered monument we live in. That building is well- kept, though no one lives there. She said, they expect it to collect higher rents and there is a note of enthusiasm in her voice as she says this.

We are not without amenities. We have cable television and on Saturday morning they purchase a dozen donuts for the residents to share. We have running water and electricity. There is a basement, in case of tornado.

Despite these amenities, I am resentful at the intrusions into my life. I would like to pay the rent and be done with management. I don’t want the landlady dictating hours I’m not allowed into the room I’ve paid for.

There are also rules we must abide; otherwise, we are warned, our rent may be raised.

These rules include:

1. Unplug appliances when not in use. If we leave the room at any time, we should not leave coffee pots, cell phones, radios or clocks plugged in.

2. We may have no visitors after 10 p.m. After this hour, we will be charged an additonal $15.00 per guest.

3. The unspoken, but very well known rule number three is, do not complain about conditions. You are subject to immediate eviction if you do complain and I found this out
through first hand experience.

It comes down to this. I pay the rent every Monday, because I make a choice to stay here. The alternative is more unpleasant than current conditions. Choices are not
always between good and bad; sometimes they are between bad and worse. Life is not always fair, but on occasion things work out and I’m grateful for that. Hope looms, just as devastation does.

Pay your dues. Don’t complain. Be grateful.

What a life.

Note from the editor (Carla): Professor Ex… is a senior citizen and does have a regular, fixed income. I don’t think he meant for this article to be some kind of pity party type essay; but is more interested in seeing some kind of change in the housing situation and inspection of such in NW Arkansas.

You can direct all comments to the Professor at: professor_extraordinarius at yahoo.com