Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Off-Topic: TBR

Well, I'm almost finished with my 100 Wild Little Weird Tales book (finally!) and the pile of books on my nightstand isn't getting any smaller, so I thought now might be a good time to make up a "to be read" list. I have a slight problem with getting to books that I've owned for a long time and thought I might get to them more quickly if I put them down on a list. Also, perhaps having this up on net will help me refrain from getting books from the library for a while and help me concentrate on reading books I OWN.

Anyway, here it is, with the books listed in roughly the order I plan on reading them:

H.P. Lovecraft's Favorite Weird Tales - Douglas A. Anderson (ed.)
Island - Aldous Huxley
The War Of The Worlds - H.G. Wells
The Time Machine - Wells
The Island Of Dr. Moreau - Wells
The Invisible Man - Wells
The First Men In The Moon - Wells
The Food Of The Gods - Wells
In The Days Of The Comet - Wells
Splinter Of The Mind's Eye - Alan Dean Foster
Cthulhu's Heirs - Thomas M.K. Stratman (ed.)
The Histories - Herodotus
Utopia - Sir Thomas More
Complete Tales & Poems - Edgar Allan Poe
The Coming Of Conan The Cimmerian - Robert E. Howard
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis
A Wrinkle In Time - Madeleine L'Engle

I might change it up a bit and tackle Splinter Of The Mind's Eye (there's a real obscuro one for all you Star Wars geeks out there) after, say, The Invisible Man if I'm getting sick of Wells by that point (which I probably will be), but otherwise I think I'm pretty much gonna go in that order.

I'd also like to get my hands on the following titles, eventually (after I read all the stuff on the list above, of course):

Dreams From My Father - Barack Obama
To Your Scattered Bodies Go - Philip Jose Farmer
Behold The Man - Michael Moorcock
Crash - J.G. Ballard
A Harlan Ellison collection (I'd love to tackle the monstrous (1,200 pages!) Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective, but I'm thinking that something like Deathbird Stories might be a little more realistic - I love Ellison, but I don't wanna read just him for a year.)
The Haunting Of Hill House - Shirley Jackson
Rosemary's Baby - Ira Levin
Perhaps Lovecraft's Horror In The Museum or some other volume of classic weird fiction I haven't checked out yet.

What's on your list(s)?

Off-Topic: Boogie With Bob; On-Topic: Page 34, Paragraphs 5 and 6; Page 35, Paragraphs 1 and 2

Posting kind of late tonight, but I don't mind - I had the pleasure of seeing the great Bob Dylan in concert, courtesy of my friend (and fellow blogger) Doug Smith. I have to admit, it was a much more rockin' show than I was expecting, heavy on the rockabilly- and blues-flavored numbers and light on the introspective acoustic ballads. Bob's current sepulchral vocal stylings take some getting used to, but once you do, it's really kind of a groove, especially on the more sarcastic and cynical numbers. All in all, a great show - I'd recommend seeing him if he rolls into your town. (Caveat emptor: Some familiarity with the Dylan oeuvre is advised, as Bob's reworkings of his old tunes can be pretty radical at times.)

Okay. Back to business.

Page 34, Paragraph 5 (first paragraph after the break):

Now another strange thing comes. I hear a noise, and know it's my mother, hopping on one foot through the trees to find me -I open my eyes to look at her but don't see her. There's only the pigpen, quiet in the dark, and the noise is coming from behind the wall with the gate in it. I stand up to walk to the wall in the light of the moon, which has climbed high in the sky while was unaware. Now I'm by the wall, and I look across it.

Paragraph 6:

All around the rise, the reeds have become white and sharp, like ice in the moonlight. Walking in the grass, bent over*, is Hob, and a boy walks by him. Like the moon and the reeds, they're white, and everything is white, and I see now that Hob's face isn't black anymore except where the black is rubbed dark into his eye-sockets, so he can't wash it away.

Page 35, Paragraph 1:

The boy walks by Hob, and the hair on his head is black and cut short. I see that he doesn't have hair on his chin or face, so I think he's even younger than me. Out of the reeds now, their white shapes walk up the rise to the little thicket of trees, and Hob walks hand in hand with the boy. The moonlight falls whitely on their backs and their asses, which go into the trees and turn into pieces in the blackness of the branches, where I see no more.

Paragraph 2:

For a long time I look at nothing, and now I sit back down in the hay. I think that boy is Hob's son. I think of my mother, leaning on the tree and saying, "Where did my foot go?" It's a strangeness of the dark. The dark makes it so we can see spirit-dogs and dead people. The hay is warm. The dark presses on my eyelids now, as I don't have the strength to hold them up. And warmth. And dark.

*the best I can do with "low to he's belly"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Page 34, Paragraphs 2 - 4; Note

Page 34, Paragraph 2:

It looks like he's coming back here through the reeds, so I bend down behind the wall and crawl on all fours like a pig to the little branch-hut, but I don't go in. I pull the straw above me to get warm, and look to the sky, where the sun-blood has dried up and become all black, like with my knee.

Paragraph 3:

There is a path, off out in the dark, which is made of strange sayings. It goes from the edge of the world to the edge of the world, and many sons have been sacrificed to make it. Perhaps their bones are set beneath the path, all around the world, so that the bones make a ceiling for the world below us, where the shagfoal tread through the dark, with little Urks sitting on their backs to scratch the boy-meat off the bones that hang above them.*

Paragraph 4:

This world has become big and dark all around me, and the pigpen wall looks a long ways off. I hunger for the girl, for her to lie here by me, like my mother but better-smelling. The world makes me little, so that I'm so frightened I can't move or do a thing. I shut my eyes, and the sky goes away, and the world goes away, but the dark does not - it stays here by me. There's no way to stop the dark.

*That's the part that Benny was talking about several posts back. My God! What a startling image - like something out of Baudelaire's nightmares.

Page 33, Paragraphs 5 - 7; Page 34, Paragraph 1; Note

Page 33, Paragraph 5:

I don't move for so long that my bones start to hurt, so I crawl out of the branch-hut now to stand. I walk forwards and back to make my leg better, and look out across the wall of the pigpen and, likewise, across the world.

Paragraph 6:

I see Hob a ways off, and I stoop behind the wall so he doesn't see me. I peek out above the top of the wall now. He crosses the reeds to the thicket of trees opposite the river. The edge of the world behind him has become blood and smoke. Hob stands with the light behind him so that he becomes all black, like a shadow.* The antlers around his head are like thin black hands, scratching at the sky to catch all his thoughts so they don't fly away.

Paragraph 7:

He bends over, then stands up to walk, and then bends over again. I figure he's foraging wood, because now I see branches underneath his arm. Maybe they're for the mound of branches that stands before the aurochs hut. He walks like one who's putting actions to his thoughts and thought to his actions, which is something my mother used to say all the time, but not about me. He bends down here and then there, gathering more and more branches under his arm.

Page 34, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):

He turns around now, so that one edge of his frightening face is all lit up, and the sunlight is like wet blood on his antlers. I think that Hob is not of the earth, as I and my nomadic kind are, born of the earth and living by the earth and put to the earth. He is of fire. The fire's charcoal is around his eyes. The fire's blood is on his horns.

*I.e., our narrator is seeing Hob in silhouette


I'm now 30 pages into the chapter. I don't believe it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Page 33, Paragraphs 1 - 4

Page 33, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):

I think since my leg is healed I can journey on. If I stay much longer in the pigpen, why, Hob can't help but find me; it's better that I go away from here. But now I think that I can forage little if I go all alone, and I'll be hungry. I think about the girl now, about how little her feet are, and the thinness of her ankles and legs below her clothes. I think about her hair, all bright and wrapped around with white aurochs hide. I want to pull this wrap from her so that her bright hair falls down about her arms, and now I realize that to go away from her is to see her no more.

Paragraph 2:

In my belly my thoughts are all vexed, and they fall now to hit and bite one another like cats. There's no peace in me. I hear a noise by the hut, like a man speaking to a girl - I think Hob's come back here. I don't like Hob at all - all my thoughts are alike in this. They become quiet in my belly, where they lie and all think darkly about Hob.

Paragraph 3:

I chew on the soft, grey bread, and the sun goes down in the sky. My shadow, no longer afraid, rests his long black head against the pen, and puts his ear by the aurochs skin, as if to better hear what's being said [outside] there.

Paragraph 4:

Across the river, I can see that the sun is hurt as it sets. I think the sky-beasts have caught and tore at him, because his blood has fallen on them, so that the whole sky has become bloody. It's hard for me to hear, for I hear the cry of pain of the sun even though he's too far off to make noise.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Page 32, Paragraphs 4 - 7; Note

Page 32, Paragraph 4:

I reply, "Yes," and, "You're right," and so forth, yet there's a sadness in my voice so that she understands that I don't like it that she'll be away for a long time.* Ah. It's like she doesn't hear the sadness in my voice. She turns away from me to walk to the entryway and the gate, where she stops and turns back to me. She smiles at me now.

Paragraph 5:

She says, "Those clothes look good on you. You look better with them." Now she goes through the entryway and shuts the gate and goes away to where I can't see her, but as I shut my eyes, I can still see her smile in my mind.

Paragraph 6:

I lie under the hay and by the branch-hut and take my pants off so I can look at my knee. The leaf that the girl put on my leg has gotten drier, as has the mud that's holding it to my leg. I take the leaf between my fingers and lift it way up from my leg; below the leaf there's soft skin growing, and the injury on my leg is all but gone.

Paragraph 7:

Now I put the clothes back around my leg. She says I look better in them, and I think she's right, yet the feel of the clothes is strange to me. From the front of the white-skin hut I hear the girl go this way and now that, doing things I can't see, yet the smell of flowers is everywhere. With a hand inside my clothes, I scratch the soft skin growing below my knee. I chew on the bread while many thoughts come to me.

*I think it's interesting that he thinks that the next morning is a long time from now. Actually, I find most of the interaction between the narrator and the girl pretty charming. He's got it bad, doesn't he?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Page 31, Paragraph 4; Page 32, Paragraphs 1 - 3; Note

Sorry for the delay between posts - it was a busy weekend.


Page 31, Paragraph 4:

The men, far away, lift their hands - I do the same. The girl doesn't move. She says, "It's good that they see you with me." "How's it good?", I say, and she replies, "Since the men see that I know you, they're not going to throw stones at you anymore." Way off on the other edge [of the river?] the men walk into where the trees are, so we can't see them anymore. "Come on now," says the girl, "let's get back to the white-skin hut before Hob gets back from the village downriver where he went."

Page 32, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):

Walking back, we walk slowly on the wet wood. We come down the ramp from the bridge, and I think about the skeleton woman lying in the darkness below our feet - about all she thinks of in her thin and empty head.*

Paragraph 2:

Taking a long route through the trees at the river's edge and across the reeds, we come to the pigpen. I can tell by where the sun's at in the sky that it's noon. My shadow has become little and frightened - it's hiding beneath my feet.

Paragraph 3:

Resting on the dirt wall, the girl says she's going now to do work for Hob. She scratches at her neck like she has an itch, and says, "I can't come to the pigpen at night, because Hob wants me for a lot of things. I'll come see you in the morning." She says, "I have some bread that I made [for you] so you won't get hungry in the meantime."

*I love that sentence; I'm not really sure why.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Off-Topic: Take That, Cheney!

Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Ernest Hemingway, and... Barack Obama?!?

A link to the New York Times story, including the full citation:

In Surprise, Obama Wins Nobel For Diplomacy

I see there's already 400+ comments on it. Holy crap! I follow stuff like this pretty closely, and I totally did not see this coming (neither did Obama, apparently).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Page 31, Paragraphs 2 and 3; Note

Page 31, Paragraph 2:

"It's a woman," the girl says. The woman was put here alive, so that her spirit will stay by the bridge and make the bridge good, so that it doesn't fall or catch on fire." Now the girl stands up and says no more and walks up the ramp, onto the bridge; I follow behind her. As she walks she makes another saying, strange and like a bird's, but it's not the saying about the valley's edge and the darkness of the trees and so forth. She sings this quicker, and it sounds good. It goes like this:

Lie she there beneath the wood,
And bone is she, and bone is she
Lies she there my woman good,
And by the river go we.*

We walk across the bridge, stepping from log to log slowly so we're not slipping on the mold that grows on them, and we come to the middle of the bridge (where one edge is the same distance away as the other). The cold wind is strong now, and the river is so loud beneath us that we can't hear what the other is saying. The girl says something I can't hear, and I say, "How's that?", and she yells louder, and so on. Now above the noise of the river she says, "Look now! Look to the other edge!", and points with her finger to where she wants me to look.

Paragraph 3:

There across the water I see many settlers out hunting. They have spears in their hands and they drag a deer behind them. I'm afraid, because I remember that the girl said they might throw a stone at me - they're that rough. I tell her this now, and make to run off the bridge, but she says, "Hold on." She says, "They know me - they won't hurt you while I'm here. Look," she says, "those men are making a sign at us. Make a sign at them," she says, "and sign that all's well."

*I preserved the rhyme scheme and the meter this time. Yes, I know - that and a couple of bucks will buy me a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Page 30, Paragraphs 6 and 7; Page 31, Paragraph 1

Back at it.


Page 30, Paragraph 6:

She says, "How did you see the bridge in the dark?", and I reply by telling her about how I came here to take a piss, after which I went back to the pigpen. She looks at me as if she's thinking about this and smiles. "Come on," she says, "so we can stand on the river bridge."

Paragraph 7:

We walk the whole length of the path, and the river bridge gets bigger as we get closer to it; it's so big that I can't imagine how many trees had to fall to make it. Here by the edge of the bridge, there's a ramp that comes up to it to make the end of bridge higher than the river's edge. The girl lies down on her belly on the ramp up to the bridge, her nose pushed up to the black logs to look between them. Her clothes cling to her ass and show its shapeliness - it makes me think about lifting them up and looking at her, but ah, I'm not going to do it. "Come here," she says, "and look between the logs."

Page 31, Paragraph 1:

I lie down by her on the bridge and look where she tells me to, through the black logs into the darkness beneath them. For a little while I don't see anything, only darkness, but now I can see better, and I see a thin, white shape lying still in the dark. I can't tell if it's a man or a woman, but I can tell it's become nothing but bones and dried-up skin. Its clothes are holey all over, yet there's no hair on the skull, as if it was torn from them. Their eye-sockets look like they're staring at us, and set in its jaw is its teeth, smiling at me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Off-Topic: Poll Archive

Well, the right-hand column of my blog is getting pretty crowded up with closed polls, so I thought I'd archive them in a post.

7/09 Poll

What's your favorite work by Alan Moore?

4 Votes

Voice Of The Fire 0 (0%)
V For Vendetta 0 (0%)
Watchmen 2 (50%)
From Hell 1 (25%)
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen 0 (0%)
Other 1 (25%)

8/09 Poll

The term "magical realism" is basically horseshit.

3 votes

Agree 2 (66%)
Disagree 0 (0%)
Don't know 0 (0%)
The term "horseshit" is basically magical and realistic 1 (33%)

9/09 Poll

Which of the following authors is your favorite?

8 votes

H.P. Lovecraft 5 (62%)
William S. Burroughs 1 (12%)
Robert Anton Wilson 1 (12%)
Thomas Pynchon 0 (0%)
Michael Moorcock 0 (0%)
Haven't read any of 'em 1 (12%)

Please take a moment to vote in my current poll (in the upper right-hand corner of the page) while you're here. Thanks.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Off-Topic: ALA Banned Books

I saw this link posted at John Coulthart's excellent online journal {feuilleton} and thought I'd post it here as well:

ALA Banned Books

Here's an article on the same topic in the American press, if you'd like to compare.

Authors, banned books part of 1st Amendment salute

Before anyone accuses me of "getting all political", I need to state that I feel that freedom of speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution and should therefore be considered a non-partisan issue, at least here in the States. It occasionally seems to me that my friends on the Right forget that their speech is protected by the First Amendment, too.