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Ptim Callan

We Built Things

We built things.

In the early days. We built things. We did not take from others. We did not live on that that had come before. We built the things we needed in the world.

There were no things in the world to speak of. Certainly we needed things in the world, and we had to build the things we needed. I for example built the sparrow. I sat down with my drafting pencils and came up with a sparrow right there on paper. Made a prototype. Tested, made changes. Hired a designer to consult on colors. You know how it goes.

A buddy of mine headed up the project to built the Andes. Big job, the Andes. Took them quite some time to put that one together. As you would expect, they subcontracted out most of the particulars of the Andes job. Some mountains were put together far away as North Dakota and trucked in. They flew in the llamas from Taiwan.

I also built the transistor radio, the letter N (uppercase only), Greta Garbo, pork chops, and malaise. I was hardly a major contributor, but Iím proud of my accomplishments. In the wildly creative atmosphere of those days it was hard not to build things.

Iím working on a thing right now in my garage. Iím not sure exactly what itís shaping up to be, but Iíve got some good vibes about it. Some of the most respected people in the industry have seen my sketches, and some of them liked them quite a lot. Certainly theyíve been adequate to my needs.

Itís not like it was in those days. Itís a lot slower, more deliberate. Fundingís harder to secure these days, and a certain level of professionalism is expected by the investors. Gone are the days of wild improvisation and the drunken all-night inventive orgies. Gone are the salad days of the inventors.

Itís not like I really regret it. I have my thing in the garage. And we couldnít have kept up that pace anyway. Iím just glad I had the chance to be around, to see things first hand as they were being put up. Itís not the same for the kids these days. Theyíve repaired and built upon and squabbled over the things that were already here for them. They have a wonder and mystery for the things in the world. We just look upon them as something we slapped together one day because we needed it.

A recent Pushcart Prize nominee, Ptim Callan's fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in over twenty literary magazines including ZYZZYVAThird Coast, and Fiction International. His independent films have been screened at major film festivals. He took his English degree from UCLA where he studied writing under Robert Coover and John Barth. His name is pronounced "Tim."  Read more at

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