mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Prince)
One of the things I loved about being in college was the chance to explore. I would set out when the mood stuck me to find where my curiosity would lead. So one evening in 1996 I had just seen a movie in the ever expanding psych building's auditorium. Being inside late at night I decided to take the opportunity to see how far down inside I could get. The building had already consumed two other buildings and been elevated to the height of six stories about ground. I head heard rumors that it extended that far or lower below as well and the construction continued.

I went down the hall and nipped into a stairwell I found unlocked. That took me down two levels before running out. I took a hallway westward under the courtyard above. I could smell the moist dust smell of curing concrete and after a turn I found an area still under construction. I walked into a largish room still just bare concrete and felt like I was in a set for Star Wars or perhaps some supernatural thriller. The center of the room was a octagonal area surrounded by bare concrete levels. There were dim lights giving a blue white glow that illuminated and cast into deep shadow parts of the room. It could have been an archeology site left by some alien civilization with the tools of the excavators abandoned for the night along with their shut down lights. It was a very cool thing to see.

I found a newer stairway and went down again past three doors and then there were twice as many stairs before I cam to the final door. Locked with nothing to indicate what it might, not even an "Authorized Personal Only" sign. I knew the steam tunnels were far above this deep place and I still have no idea what might be down there. So I went back up and was very pleased to find the next to last door off this stairway unlocked.

I wandered back in a generally easterly direction; down silent halls with white linoleum floors with the faint smell of decay and chemicals coming from behind laboratory doors. After a few turns I found myself in an older section with terrazzo flooring and a general 1950s look about it. I guessed this was one of the building psych had consumed in recent years, though I'm not sure where I was. I found a old bomb shelter sign next to a short and dark side corridor and I went to check it out. This door was unlocked as well, perhaps due to ancient arcane regulations about bomb shelters. Or perhaps it was just forgotten and behind it was stairway leadning down into cobwebs and darkness.

I could not resist going down to check this out. Down I went and I found dusty shelves and foundation pillars at the bottom, illuminated by my pocket flashlight and a few of the simple incandescent bulbs behind their metal safety cages , but also thought there might be an alarm system linked to the lights. So I walked amid forgotten furniture and square pillars with flaking paint.

Near the back I found the iron door. Riveted and rusty I didn't think I would get it open, but using a discarded chair leg to help lever it open. I found a tunnel twice as tall as wide, just a bit taller than me. It was lined with something that might have been poured cement that was now disintegrating in the darkness into sand.

I came out in moonlight in snow after about 300 meters. An icy stairway going up not nearly as far as I had come down. It looked like some sort of abandoned cloth mill, red brick buildings of an old design. The buildings were not falling down, not damaged, but they had an empty haunted feel. I did go over to one and peek cautiously in the window, but I did not dare go further. I was only wearing a light windbreaker because back on campus it was a cool, but not cold, fall evening with low hanging clouds. This was no place to wander about unprepared, I saw some bits of cable sticking up through the snow and occasional ice pool. Beyond the buildings there were dark trees, but I turned back.

It was harder than just retracing my steps to find my way back to my dorm room. I went back the next night, but I could not find the bomb shelter again.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Prince)
There is a faded wraith that "lives" near Denver Civic Center where his home once stood. I do not remember what his given name was, but he called himself The Lord of Cables. He was a wizard in the Masonic tradition that was expelled from the local covenant and his Masonic Temple for some decidedly strange and disturbing beliefs. He believed that man was creating machine gods in the giant works of the cities. These new idols of steel and turning wheels could be awakened, made into a sort of life through blood and worship. Then their followers would become part of or like the divinities themselves, gaining great power.

Denver was just the sort of place for this bizarre idea in the last decades of the 19th century. The state was abuzz with new inventions, including the first industrial site powered by Tesla's alternating current at Ames in 1891. And Denver had the biggest and most extensive system of cable cars, trolleys, and horse drawn carriages on tracks in all the world. Most important to the tLoC Denver had the longest cable car line ever built at 7 miles in length. This was his project, he used influence over the cable car company to have it built and he operated one of the cars on the line until his disappearance in 1892. It is believed by many that several other local lunatics, including Arlie Grosman thwarted a midnight sacrifice by the Lord of Cables on the tracks at the corner of Broadway and 17th Street. But that was not the end of him.

I've seen him myself a dried up old husk of a man with a sour expression wearing a decaying cable car operator's uniform. He can most often be seen around where his home used to stand before it was demolished in the 1900s. I even had a disturbing conversation with the old spook one evening in 1999. He complained about people walking over his bones not even knowing they are there, which leads me to believe that the victors in that battle, however it was fought, buried him in his own backyard. Fortunately for all of us he's slowly fading away and his dreams of a living engine of cables, tracks, and gears to cover all the earth will then stay buried with him.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Prince)
A New Definition

§ Whereas as I, Mishalak, the Minister of Memory and Culture for the incomparable City of Denver have noted that the need for a word meaning to know a person, but not well enough to call that person a friend.

§ Whereas using the word acquaintance to describe such persons is cool, impersonal, and awkward.

§ I do hereby declare that the world Frood coined by the extraordinary author Douglas Adams in his book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to be used to describe such personages and relationships.

§ Given under my authority this day the 9th of December in the year Two-Thousand and Three.

   Mishalak

Got Busy

Oct. 16th, 2003 11:26 pm
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (scruffy)
So here is the deal. I want something closer to my usual content for the journal rather than all these god write-ups I got myself busy with. I'm determined to work through them all, though if it gets more than six ahead of me I'm going to cut it off.

First there is this bad guy talking to me at night. He's the self styled Lord of Cables, a nasty piece of work who lived in Denver in the streetcar era. I'm thinking he's the sort that Arlie Grossman might have to go up against. He's whipcord thin, not like me, I'm just thin, while this guy looks like his nom de guerre. He's moderately short with an unpleasant sneer always near to the surface. I think I'll have to write about him before he does something nasty to me for not telling his story.

Oh an for anyone who's not read about Arlie and the rest I've put a lot of my posts into a sort of index in my memories section. I think most of the titles there like conreports are pretty self-explanatory. The only two that might not be are Ministry of Memory and Culture which is all my Denver stories and fans win which are just memorable stories by or about other fans.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Prince)
A story for my friend [livejournal.com profile] enginoshouzoku because she felt blue.

If you turn and look quick (because otherwise it is dangerous) when crossing the Broadway Bridge over Cherry Creek you may briefly see a truly fascinating sight. North of this point the Creek actually runs uphill towards downtown Denver. Most of the time the human mind refuses to register this fact on a conscious level and so only by looking quickly from a few bridges can the western water phenomenon be seen.

It is a well-known axiom that in the West water flows uphill towards money. What most people don't realize is this phenomenon can occasionally happen outside the controlled conditions in a water system and result in astonishing natural events such as uphill streams and even the occasional mass relocation of water.

Until the arrival of the white man in the region there was not anything like the concentrated masses of M-1, the money supply, needed to displace large masses of water. So the creek flowed downhill to the Platte as it had for centuries uncounted. Soon after the discovery of Gold enough was refined into true money that a great tragedy resulted from its accumulation in Denver. In 1864 the creek jumped its banks and began wandering towards the human banks.

It was an startling seeing weathy miners wading through the flood with small hills of water around them. But the force has its limits and as the residents fled with their money the water was forced to once again to resume its previous course. Though some nervous residents suggested that lead weights be installed to prevent the sleepy creek from rising again.

But nothing terribly organized was done for years and several more floods struck Denver. Indeed until the administration of Mayor Speer no one had even realized that the junk choked was ascending slightly as it passed Broadway. This caused the city to realize it had a major problem. To help the Mayor cleaned up the creek and tried to attract more wealthy business to the area to somewhat counterbalance the pull of the downtown area.

More importantly he had a number of devices involving spinning lead and silver flywheels, and not buttered cats as some have suggested, placed inside his flood control walls. Along with several dams to control flash flooding we no longer have to worry about the Creek or even the River jumping its banks seeking people will large bankrolls.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
In Denver there is a bridge officially called the Millennium Bridge by the city government. However to many of the residents of the city it is known as Webb's Yacht Mast. It is named for Wellington Webb, who was mayor of Denver from mid 1991 until 2003. The Mayor was obsessed with the idea of making Denver "world class" and embarked on many projects to this end. No one was quite sure what being a "world class city" actually meant, but in Denver when the mayor wants something chances are he can get it.

Midway through his term the mayor was visiting a city somewhere exotic as he liked to do, calling these vacations trade missions. Well it seems that the local potentate, some sort of city ruler for life in Frankfurt or Lagos, has a rather impressive yacht. The mayor upon seeing this was totally enchanted and came back to Denver saying the city needed one of these to impress foreign dignitaries with the world-class qualities of our city.

As with most of these engineering projects it fell to our city Chief of Mechanical Wangling and Special Contracting (commonly called the Chief in Grief because of all the problems mayors give to the holder of this office to solve or make), Joseph Milligan to build the flight of fancy out of steel and cable. Mayor Webb gave Mr. Milligan a single vague directive about building his ship and meeting venue.

The Chief decided it would be impractical to build an actual ship since Denver does not have anything resembling a navigable waterway. So he took the directive to mean build a hall with a ship like atmosphere and look including mast. He did a phenomenal job, really. The SS Denver looked very impressive as it appeared to sail near the Plate River opposite Paris on the Plate, a rather nice bookstore.

Unfortunately the Mayor had rather different ideas and perhaps not as much common sense, and Milligan was in the mountains busy repairing the skyline. Discovering the ship nearly done after another extended trade trip Mayor Webb decided to take it for a test spin. Finding that the ship was not actually floating he ordered two units of fire fighters to get enough water under the ship to slide it into the river.

The volume of water was enormous, but it only succeeded in creating an enormous volume of mud. Despite being a building and not a ship the S.S. Denver began to move rather in a ship like manner after three hours of pumping. The mayor stood at the helm as the ship's sail caught a favorable breeze... back towards the city. The building-Ship slid along nicely through the railroad tracks and then began to go down. In less than five minutes nothing remained of it except the 100 foot mast pointing like a dagger back towards the city.

The Mayor slunk away, rather embarrassed, and uncharacteristically without much commentary or assigning of blame for the mess. He thought it best to try to pretend nothing happened. To that end our Chief in Grief used the mast as the support for a rather too stylish bridge over the repaired railroad tracks.

But it didn't entirely succeed as I noted earlier many still call Webb's Yacht Mast.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
I feel way too keyed up. I needed caffeine to get going this morning, up too late reading again, so I'm sort of manic right now.

I feel like writing. There is a tree at the corner of Ohio Avenue and University Boulevard. It looks like a fairly ordinary silver maple with a silvery trunk and leaves that flash green and off white in a breeze. Though if you take the time to cross the street from the Bonnie Brae Ice Cream Parlor you'll soon realize this is something more than just another silver maple. Its trunk totally fills the space between the sidewalk and curb. This is the Arlie Maple planted the city was still young by Arlie Grosman, the kindly madman who talked to trees. He was quite a character. He called himself the Secretary of Jupiter (or possibly Juniper) and apparently believed that trees keep the cities sleeping.

He planted widely and frequently, saying that he taught the trees to sing in harmonies. It is certainly true that he was often seen putting an ear to the trees he planted and could be heard humming something halfway between a lullaby and a chant as he went walking among them. In his blue green suit with the instruments of his vocation hanging out of the pockets he went tramping about Denver and nearby towns for close to 60 years. When he finally died in 1921 he wanted to have his body stuffed inside the hollow bole of an oak, but instead he was cremated by some of his friends in the eccentric community.

So why then is this tree the Arlie Maple out of all the hundreds he planted and cared for? Because it is a survivor, it is well over a century old now and no one knows why that might be. Luck, magic, something planted among its roots? None can say, but it is definitely a fantastic tree and if you heard it singing it would probably have a full rich voice of an elderly aunt singing a strange hymn.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
A publication from the Denver Ministry of Memory and Culture.

If you were to drive along Denver's beltway, C-470, on the west side of town you might notice a strangely straight line just barely visible about halfway up the ridge that is the easternmost battlement of the Central Rocky Mountains. Now if you asked a historian he might try to confuse you with all sorts of "facts" about scenic roads or some such nonsense.

The true story started back in 1910, a boom year for super villainy. Grand Junction crackpot and mad scientist Joshua Hardscrabble set out to ransom the city of Denver and State of Colorado through theft of Dinosaur Ridge. Even then it was famous as the first major find of dinosaur fossils in the West. Hardscrabble figured that by stealing such a famous landmark he would gain fame and fortune and thus finance a trip to the moon. Not very clear thinking, not one for planning, but he was fantastic with designs.

So he created a blimp (yes it was a blimp, he didn't want the dead weight of a frame, now don't interrupt) with a mountain grabbing gondola. On the evening of April 3rd he figured the weather conditions were right, cold yet calm enough that he could generate enough lift with his mile long craft to steal Dinosaur Ridge. Under cover of darkness he inflated his craft and set out for the unsuspecting metropolis.

From the very start he was in trouble. He had not remembered to pack a map, but where a lesser man (or a more sensible one) might have gone back for one he decided instead to demand directions from people on the ground. Joshua's bellowed demands for directions to people met with limited success. At least one drunkard, Mr. Abram Smith of South Park, was reformed by the vision of "a demonic beast of enormous size descending from the heavens to eat me while screaming for Dinosaurs in a dreadful voice."

Eventually the craft arrived near Morrison and the grappling hooks and saws descended to remove a section of the Dakota Hogback. Unfortunately his trip had taken considerably longer than expected and the work was slow going so as the sun rose he had a number of curious spectators watching his progress. A Mrs. Clousau from the town was brave enough to climb up and ask what he was doing. Hardscrabble obligingly told her he was stealing Dinosaur Ridge for a ransom of one million dollars. She laughed and told him he was going to have a bit of trouble on that, since he was south of town and the famous Dinosaur Ridge was north of Morrison.

Well at this point we think that Joshua got a little bit flustered. It is thought he wanted to move his operation to steal the correct mass of sandstone, but in his haste he forgot to properly release the cables. Mrs. Clousau may have intended just this, she was noted in Morrison for outwitting unruly individuals. So he tried to take off and instead tore several giant holes in his craft and shifted the whole top of the hogback several feet backwards. Combined with the tailings of his cutting operation it made for a nice trail on the face of the ridge. As for Joshua Hardscrabble he managed to light his craft on fire trying to heat the gas for greater lift when he was almost home again. He parachuted to safety in the town of that name and thereafter took to supplying super villains rather than trying to be one himself.

Thus ends the little known tale of the Great Dinosaur Ridge Robbery.

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mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
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