Fascinating courtly intrigue and bloody power games set on a generation ship full of secrets―Medusa Uploaded is an imaginative, intense mystery about family dramas and ancient technologies whose influence reverberates across the stars. Disturbing, exciting, and frankly kind of mind-blowing.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous

Monday, February 5, 2024

Michael's Chronicle: Boxhead Dogs


Michael Thiele is a woodsmith who makes musical instruments and playable furniture. He spends most of his life either in the shop or out on the road buying wood and selling his work at craft shows. In recent years, his travels have begun to inspire his own writing, so he sends me his thoughts.

Jan 30

Gripper Beds Nd Boxhead Dogs

Some person or some entity phoned ahead to this motel and told them I was coming. There was, I am now sure, some mention of the fact that I had averaged just four hours of sleep over the past six nights. Four hours mind you. Not none. First day of the St. Armand’s show I was not a zombie - just a walking, talking nothing. Anyone who attempted to engage me in conversation will attest to this. The show was not particularly fruitful monetarily, but it wasn’t just I. The sleepwalking didn’t hurt sales.

Friday night before the show I got an additional four hours of sleep after that long travel day, but the bed had been pre-instructed to release me on demand to go set up my show. It complied. Same deal Sunday. But after all, I had been in hibernation for ten hours since supper after the show, so the bed respected my need once again to go to work.

Then comes this morning. The damn thing is in gripper mode. Literally. I’ve tried everything - sticking limbs off the edge, announcing my intent (out loud) to get up and shine……..I’ve given it my physical and mental best, rest assured (Hush. Don’t use that rest word). The bed is listening.) It must be eight a.m. Things to do. You know the drill. Gotta shine my sneakers and torque my kneecaps. The bed won’t cooperate. It is in gripper mode. 

The thing is comfortable enough - hard enough (don’t like soft ones). There don’t seem to be any restraining straps. But I can’t get up. Gripper bed, that’s all it could be. I am sure it is some kind of A.I. electronic trick. I don’t care for it. I am one of those free will type of guys. The motel damn well better not be charging me extra for this indignity and the story damn well better not end up on some Facebook page: “Thiele’s Ordeal. Sooner or later, it’ll get tired of my weight and smell and let go of me. Maybe I should fart. Multiple times.

I always spread the curtain when I get up, to see what weather has shown up. I have a suspicion about today. There will be a guard dog outside my door. Some kind of boxhead thing whose job is not to keep intruders out of my room. His job is to not let me leave. He has been trained to say four words in English and bare his teeth. “Go back to bed.” Nice, you little jerk. You gonna pay for the extra day? I’m going to throw my hands up and steam a bit from my ears.

About the dog thing. I do know breeds. I’ve simplified the naming system. For good reason. I’m tired of people standing in front of my booth and asking some stranger with a whack looking animal, “Oh how cute. What breed is that?” The stranger always throws out some exotic name that sounds like it’s off the Starbucks menu. “Chocolate Frapparuzu.” Don’t get me started on coffee names. Black water, oil slick and bubbles. That’s coffee. A buck at the gas station if you have your own cup.

Back to the dog naming system (I should be paid for this.) They’re all Boxheads, OK?

Let’s just agree up front. Right there you’ve got the anchor term. Boxhead. From there the rest is easy…..You got Longhair Boxheads, Pointy Nose Boxheads, No Tail Boxheads, Clipped Ear Boxheads - endless varieties and, of course, sub-varieties: Shorthair Smashed Face Boxheads, Short Legged Cigar Shape Boxheads. It’s easy. Someone should pay me. 

There. I’ve done my job. Maybe the gripper bed will release me now. Gotta brush my ears.


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