The Gyroscope Is Burned Out

Kage Baker, or at least the part of her that lives in my head, has apparently been spending a lot of time in the Next World Bar. And the mojitos must be really good … I’ve been dreaming through so many weird places and layers and memories, I ran into the wall this morning trying to go into a kitchen that I haven’t been in for 30-odd years.

Like I mentioned, I have been dreaming of Kage lately. Especially by daylight, as I am stalked by intermittent narcolepsy and keep falling into unplanned naps. (I suppose it’s actually increasing age, but hell – narcolepsy sound so much more interesting.) I lay down for a brief nap this afternoon, and promptly found myself in a dream with Kage. We were starting a day at some Faire, in the usual delightfully crude and jury-rigged wooden building – and the box bed we were sharing fell off the wall and rolled over-and-over down the incline of the Inn Yard to spill us out into the street. We were unharmed, but Kage was swearing mightily that she always knew that was going to happen!

Note: It never did. Cots folded up with us in them, air mattresses deflated, the roof blew off as we slept, and one memorable morning I missed the ladder leading down from the loft above the Tap Room, and stepped 6 feet straight down into the jockey box for the beer – ice! – but the bed, whatever it was, never unrolled under us like a rug.

Anyway, later in the dream – with the nonsensical scene change normal to dreams – we were driving along the narrow roads of the Hollywood Hills in my first LUV truck. (LUVs were infinitesimal 1/4 ton pickups made by Ford in the 80’s. I drove a couple of them when I started getting my own cars –  I could get in without a ladder, and you could fit an uncut 4 x 8 sheet of plywood in the back. ) We were searching for a new route up the hills to somewhere we could get access to the famed and legendary Spiderpool.

The Spiderpool, details of which I will recount tomorrow, is a real but highly bizarre place literally hidden in the Hollywood Hills. It hasn’t been accessible by car or foot for decades. But we always knew roughly where it was, because when the wild oats were low you could see the thing on a hillside two canyons across from our backyard. Kage was enthralled by it her whole life.

Anyway, we were following a new route, which she was sure would get us there. We could see the gleaming top of one of the white-tiled walls peaking over a ridge … however, following her directions, I took us round a curve into a sudden cul-de-sac: and I tried to back us around, and the truck promptly slipped over the edge of the street and rolled over-and-over down the hillside.

Note the Second: this never happened either, though we came damned close several times. Probably because, in my hare-brained youth, I often drove with an ice cream cone or a carton of Chinese food in one hand …

Curiously, there was no fright. There was just a sense of annoyance in the dream as we went arse-over-teakettle down through the oats and mustard, a feeling of “Oh, not again!” I remember thinking it was a good thing I’d disabled our internal gyroscope (Huh?) because it would have burned out otherwise. And then we landed right side up on a curve of road 20 feet below where we had begun.

And we brushed off the weeds and we went and got the hood (which had popped off partway down) and stuck it back on and we just drove away. Kage was already planning our next angle of attack, speculating on where we might get a winch …

And she enthused, as we drove off, “Man, that’s weird to have that happen twice in one day! First the box bed and then the truck! What a day!”

“Let’s not do it again, though, okay?” said me the craven.

“Well, I don’t mean to make a habit of it. But – wow. What an amazing thing!”

She wants me to do something, I am sure. Something that may turn my world topsy-turvy:  though how she can top dying is beyond me. Or maybe that was just Kage disabling my gyroscope. But I’ll figure it out.

And when the truck stops whirling round and round and the golden granite dust settles back on the road, I’ll figure out where Kage means me to go, and I’ll go there.

Tomorrow: some Spiderpool

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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4 Responses to The Gyroscope Is Burned Out

  1. Mark Shanks says:

    At least you didn’t do your hillside roll in real life…
    Or in an enormous and poorly maintained LHC water truck nicknamed “The Red Dragon…”
    You know, like Ed did at Northern Fair. When the front tie-rod broke on the uphill hillside switchbacks, he slammed on the brakes to keep from going over the side… and forgot that the baffles in the full water tank were none too sturdy, and they ripped out, causing the back slosh to turn the truck right over the edge he was trying to avoid, and roll it neatly down back on its wheels facing downhill… level lower. The truck’s cab had one smashed corner and a bit of token damage…..but not much for rolling down one of those freaking Northern hills. Which is why the motto appeared on the truck, “Roll over and play Ed.”


  2. Kate says:

    Mark – ah, I remember that well. For years it also bore the legend “This Side Up” with the appropriate arrow on the left rear flank. Good old water truck. I also remember Bobby McGowan trying to reverse the flow on the pipe so it would work like a vacuum cleaner, one morning when we were trying to clean up a flood in the Serpentine. I was part of the bucket brigade that morning.


  3. Luisa Puig Duchaineau says:

    Please, please, please, tell me about Spiderpool!

    Oh dear, excuse me (or at least the ‘inner kid’ of me): yes, Mark, I remember the Rolling of Big Red, too. Still giggle whenever I see a packing box with the infamous ‘this side up’ arrow. Also the ‘Great Flood’ of the Serpentine, when an ancient fire hydrant was sheared off below the safety valve (if the poor old thing ever had such a valve) and it took hours for anyone to find, and then manage to actually close, the just as ancient shut-off valve to the entire system. Amazing we were even allowed to open the Faire the next day.

    Does anyone have a photo of the ‘Steak on a Lake’ booth? I think they were the absolute lowest part of the entire Faire site. How did they manage to survive the Faire day? Did they build a bridge to the counter? Punt customers over the water in shallow-draw boats? I just remember the parades had to circumnavigate the area until at least Sunday.

    But back to Spiderpool! This is the first I’ve ever heard of it. Oo-oo! (She jumps back and forth from one foot to the other, eager to hear of yet another wonderful Hollywood Hills Legend). Please, please, please … (etc).



    • Kate says:

      Luisa – ah, the flooding of the Serpentine was a wonder. A horrible wonder, but still – it was one of those moments when the modern facade thins and you might be in the 16th century. Because the Serpentine was on a peat ground, and methane was bubbling up through it, and the hose on Big Red could not BE reversed, and we ended up filling buckets in a long line and passing them up to be dumped in the water truck by hand … and we were all in either our nightclothes or costumes, depending on where we were in our morning routine when the emergency happened. Amazing morning!

      Steak on a Stake was indeed the lowest point of Faire. They managed to function that morning with a hastily built causeway of dirt and straw. Across the way on my teeny tiny rise, I could only sympathize and give thanks that the Inn was on a mound.

      Details on Spiderpool will be forthcoming – as soon as I get my computer working properly. Right now I am at a borrowed machine and on my way t the computer store. Aaaargh!



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