Title - Kevin Michael Vance - writer/musician/purveyor of raw materials
Kevin Michael Vance
Writer - Portland, Oregon

When creating this spot for my web page I was trying to think of how I might best not come off as the biggest buffoon on the forehead of this great, big, planet. Then I realized something... I am human. For me this bespeaks volumes. It means that I am fallible, that I am not perfect. I have made mistakes, am making mistakes even as I write this, and will, inevitably, make mistakes in the future. When I wax romantically about myself and my role in this cosmic-shit tub we all dubiously call life I like to think of myself as the warrior- strong, loyal, full of discipline and honor. In reality, there are parts of me that follow those codes, but more to the point, I am a worker, and very proud of that. I finish what I start. I relish the journey. And I live... as well as any 38-year-old white male could hope to live in this world of skewed ideals and twisted attitudes (holy crap! I wrote this drivel five years ago. How time light speeds).

Suffice it to say, here within these "random thoughts" I will contradict myself, I will be wrong in some points and right in others, and I will make mistakes. However, as always, I hope in a small way that you, the reader, might garner a modicum of enjoyment.

Hell! I know I do.

January 31, 2018
Never forget...
Happy birthday, Dad. I will always miss you.

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October 28, 2017
My dad...
I will always love and miss you, pop.

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October 16, 2017
Dave Vance Day
Today is a special day, a day of remembrance. Some forty odd years ago it was officially coined "Dave Vance Day" in my hometown of Missoula, MT; because of my pop's exemplary work with the federal government. It is awesome to have your father recognized for his achievements.

So, happy freaking Dave Vance Day. May we all live up to the level of professionalism and dedication my father displayed on a daily basis.

I love and will forever miss you, pop.

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October 03, 2017
Ray (the master) Bradbury
It has been five years since we lost one of America's greatest authors. Five years without a story from the writer who transformed my childhood and lay the foundations for my adulthood. Every October I think of Mr. Bradbury, and I mourn his loss. For your pleasure, I have copied one of my favorite essays by him. Enjoy.

No part of what follows was created by me. It is the sole property of Ray Bradbury. It was printed in 1975 by Readers Digest.

Tricks! Treats! Gangway!

HALLOWEENS I have always considered wilder and richer and more important than even Christmas morn. The dark and lovely memories leap back at me as I see once again my ghostly relatives, and the lurks and things that creaked stairs or sang softly in the hinges when you opened a door.

For, you see, I have been most fortunate in the selection of my aunts and uncles and midnight-minded cousins. My grandma gave me her old black-velvet opera cape to cut into batwings and fold about myself when I was eight. My aunt gave me some white candy fangs to stick in my mouth and make delicious and most terrible smiles. A great aunt encouraged me in my witchcrafts by painting my face into a skull and stashing me in closets to induce cardiac arrest in passing cousins or upstairs boarders. My mother corrupted me completely by introducing me to Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame when I was three.

In sum, Halloween has always been the celebration for me and mine. And those Halloweens in the late 1920s and early ‘30s come back to me now at the least scent of candlewax or aroma of pumpkin pies.

Autumns were a combination of that dread moment when you see whole windows of dime stores full of nickel pads and yellow pencils means School is Here—and also the bright promise of October, that stirring stuff which lurks in the blood and makes boys break out in joyful sweats, planning ahead.

For we did plan ahead in the Bradbury houses. We were three families on one single block in Waukegan, Ill. My grandma and until he died in 1926, grandpa, lived in the corner house; my mom and dad, and my brother Skip and I, in the next house south of that; and around the block my Uncle Bion, whose library was wise with Edgar Rice Burroughs and ancient with H. Rider Haggard.

1928 was one of the prime Halloween years. Everything that was grandest came to a special climax that autumn.

My Aunt Neva was 17 and just out of high school, and she had a Model-A Ford. “Okay, kiddo,” she said around about October 20. “It’s coming fast. Let’s make plans. How do we use the attics? Where do we put the witches? How many corn shocks do we bring in from the farms? Who gets bricked up in the cellar with the Amontillado?”

“Wait, wait, wait!” I yelled—and we made a list. Neva drew pictures and made paintings of the costumes we would all wear to make the holiday truly fascinating and horrible. That was Costume Painting Night. When Neva finished, there were sketches of Grandma as the nice mother in “the Monkey’s Paw,” painting of my dad as Edgar Allen Poe, some fine grisly renderings of my brother as crump-backed Quasimodo, and myself playing my own xylophone skeleton as Dr. Death.

After that came, in one flying downpour, Costume Cutting Night, Mask Painting Night, Cider Making Night, Candle Dipping and Taffy Pulling Night, and Phonograph Playing Night, when we picked the spookiest music. Halloween, you see, didn’t just stroll into our yards. It had to be seized and shaped and made to happen!

My grandparents’ home, then, was a caldron to which we might bring hickory sticks that looked like witches’ broken arms and leaves from the family graveyard out where the banshee trans ran by at night souling the air with bereavements. To there house, upstairs and down, must be fetched corn shocks from fields just beyond the burying tombs, and pumpkins. And from Woolworth’s, orange-black crepe serpentines, and bags of black confetti which you tossed on the wind, yelling, “A witch just sneezed!” and papier-mâché masks that smelled like a sour dog’s fur after you had snuffed in and out while running. All of it had to be fetched, carried, touched, held, sniffed, crunched along the way.

October 29 and 30 were almost as great as October 31, for those were the late afternoons, the cool, spicy dusks when Neva and Skip and I went out for the Slaughter and final Gathering.

“What out, pumpkins!”

I stood by the Model A as the sun furnaced the western sky and vanished, leaving spilled-blood and burnt-pumpkin colors behind. “Pumpkins, if they had any brains, would hide tonight!” said I.

“Yeah,” said Skip. “Here comes the Smiler with the Knife!” I beamed, feeling my Boy Scout knife in my pocket.

We reached our uncles’ farms and went out to dance around the corn shocks and grab great armfuls and wrestle them like dry Indian ghosts back to the rumble seat. Then we went back to get the harvest-moon pumpkins. They burrowed in the cereal grass, but they could not escape the Smiler and his friends. Then home, with the corn stalks waving their arms wildly in the wind behind us, and the pumpkins thudding and running around floorboards trying to escape. Home toward a town that looked vulnerable under burning clouds, home past real graveyards with real cold people in them , your brother and sister, and you thinking of them suddenly and know the true, deep sense of Halloween.

The whole house had to be done over in a few short, wildly laughing hours. All staircases must be eliminated by grabbing leaves out of dining room tables and covering the steps so you could only scrabble and slip up and then slide, shrieking, down, down, down into the night. The cellar must be mystified with sheets hung on lines in a ghostly maze through which giggling and screaming banshees must blunder and flee, children suddenly searching for mothers and finding spiders. The icebox must be stashed with chicken viscera, beef hearts, ox tongues, tripe, chicken legs and gizzards, so that at the height of the party the participants, trapped in the coal cellar, might pass around the “parts” of the dead witch: “Here’s her heart!...Here’s her finger!...Here’s her eyeball!”

Then, everything set and placed and ready, you run out late from house to house to make certain-sure that each boy-ghost remembers, that each girl-become-witch will be there tomorrow night. Your gorilla fangs in your mouth, your winged caped flapping, you come home and stand in front of your grandparents’ house and look at how great and spooky it has become, because your sappy aunt and your loony brother and you yourself have majicked it over, doused the lights, lit all the disemboweled pumpkins and got it ready like a dark beast to devour the children as they arrive through its open-mouthed door tomorrow night.

You sneak up on the porch, tiptoe down the hall, peer into the dim pumpkin-lit parlor and whisper: “Boo.”

And that’s it.

Oh, sure, Halloween arrived. Sure, the next night was wild and lovely and fine. Apples swung in doorways to be nibbled by tow dozen hungry mice-children. Apples and gargling kids almost drowned in water tubs while ducking for bites.

But the party was almost unimportant, wasn’t it? Preparation was 70 percent of the lovely, mad game. As with most holidays, the getting set, the gathering sulfur for the explosion, was sweeter, sadder, lovelier than the stampede itself.

That Halloween of 1928 came like the rusted moon up in the sky—sailing, and then down like that same moon. And it was over. I stood in the middle of my grandma’s living room and wept.

On the way home across the lawn to my house, I saw the pile of leaves I had made just that afternoon. I ran and dived in, and vanished. I lay there under the leaves, thinking. This is what it’s like to be dead. Under grass, under dirt, under leaves. The wind blew and stirred the grand pile. Way out in farm country, a train ran past, wailing its whistle. The sound cut my soul. I felt the tears start up again. I knew if I stayed I would never get out of the grass and leaves; I would truly be dead. I jumped up, yelling, and ran in the house.

Later, I went to be. “Darn,” I said in the middle of the night.

“365 darn days until Halloween again. What if I die, waiting?”

“Why, then,” said my brother, after a long silence, “you’ll be Halloween. Dead people are Halloween.”

“Hey,” said I, “I never thought of that.”

“Think,” said my brother.

I thought: 365 days from now…

Gimme a pad, some paper. Neva, rev up that Model A! Skip, hunch your back! Farmyards, grow pumpkins! Graveyards, shiver your stones! Moon, rise! Wind, hit the trees, blow up the leaves! Up, now, run! Tricks! Treats! Gangway!

And a small boy in midnight Illinois, suddenly glad to be alive, felt something on his face. Between the snail-tracks of his tears… a smile.

And then he slept.

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