kestrell: (Default)
Alexx: We haven't watched "Ironman 2" or 3 yet.
Kes: I can only take so much Tony Stark. How about "Doctor Strange"? Which one is he?
Alexx: He's the surgeon [insert more red kryptonite description here].
Kes: That doesn't sound very interesting. Who is the one who has mystic powers and transforms his girlfriend into a book? I mean, negative points for killing his girlfriend, but turning her into a book, that's kind of hot in a bibliophile bondage way.
Alexx [sighs]: That's Doctor Doom, and he turned his girlfriend into armor.
Kes: That's not very hot.
kestrell: (Default)
One of my narrative fetishes is occult mysteries, especially if they were written in the 1970s or early 1980s. While _The Corpsewood Manor Murders in North Georgia_ by Amy Petulla is categorized as true crime and was published in 2016, it has all the earmarks of the trashy occult fiction I love: the overblown language, the almost inseparable tangle of fact and supposition, and the Dionysian mishmash of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll (or, in this case, Renaissance harp music)).

The book examines the December 1982 murders of Charles Scudder, a former pharmacology professor, and his companion, Joey Odom, who had moved from Chicago to the wilds of northern Georgia, where they charmed and befriended many of the local straight residents, while also throwing scandalous secret baccanales for semi-strangers.

The two men had built their own quite literal castle, complete with drawbridge, in the wilderness, and they filled the castle with Renaissance-style furniture (the author claims these were authentic priceless antiques). At times, the author seems to want to paint a picture of a gay Camelot in a fairytale wildwood:

begin excerpt
Dr. Scudder owned a golden harp that he sometimes played from the tower deck at night, when the full moon would reflect the moonlight from their pond onto the pink gargoyle [a statue set over the entrance to the castle], purportedly making it glow neon. The unearthly tones seemed to draw forth a time when castles, lords and magic might be waiting behind every hill.
end of excerpt

While the savage murders of the two men is never trivialized, the author is prone to freely throwing about wild speculations like a drunken partygoer might toss around handfuls of confetti on New Year's Eve.

This is where the story becomes Agatha Christie country house mystery meets _Rosemary's Baby_.

Because the two gentle gay men who grew their own vegetables, baked their own bread, and made their own wine, were also devil worshippers.

The same old sources get dragged out, Eliphas Levi's _Transcendental Magic_, Anton Levay's _Satanic Bible_, the _Necronomicon_ (though this seems to exist in two forms, one being the fictional book written by H. P. Lovecraft, and the other being the ancient text translated by the alchemist John Dee...or maybe they are supposed to be the same book? I don't know--that part was pretty confusing.).

But there are some new faces, also. William Blake in his guise as Satan worshiper gets a lot of love, but here is my favorite:

begin excerpt
It is no great surprise, given their philosophies, that the self-indulgent Church of Satan was founded by Anton LaVey in the tumultuous, "If it feels good, do it" 1960s. Specifically, it was founded at midnight on the dawn of the auspicious May Day (May 1) 1966 in San Francisco. It is interesting to note that the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) was founded the exact same day, a few miles away in Berkeley. The society is the group known for reverting to the Middle Ages by dressing in medieval garb and cavorting in the woods or, if one can be found, a castle, eschewing modern conveniences and utilities, often drinking homemade wine and incorporating period items, like harps or even renaissance furniture, into their revelries. Many also eschew Christianity in favor of pagan rites that they believe were practiced during that era.

Sound familiar? It could not be determined whether Charles Scudder participated in the
SCA, due in large part to the fact that SCA members operate under different character names and usually do not share their actual identities.... Besides sharing a founding date, calendar (beginning for both on their founding date, year I AS) and initials with the Church of Satan (which is referred to by some as the Satanic Church or the Satanic Church of America), the SCA surely shared some founding members, as both drew alienated college students from the Berkeley/San Francisco area.
end of excerpt

...Wow...Just...wow.
kestrell: (Default)
Is there a difference between a
contact language
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_contact
and
Macaronic languge
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macaronic_language#History
?

Is it that a contact language is spoken and Macaronic language is more likely to refer to a written or sung creative work? (Except the Macaronic language entry refers tot he Sublime song, which I love.)To give this a more specific context, I'm thinking of Salvatore's speaking style in _The Name of the Rose_ and of the minions language in the movies, both of which I have read referred to by linguists as examples of contact languages.
kestrell: (Default)
The title is _The Far Forests_, and I found it in digital format on the library for the blind Web site. It's a digital recording made from an audio recording, done in mono, and in the '70s, so I'm getting a paper version to scan.

About the book: These are possibly Aiken's darkest stories, darker even than _The Green Flash_, my other favorite collection, which probably accounts for why this collection doesn't get a lot of love. It's definitely not for read aloud to children, but would probably appeal to young adults who like spooky stories. Another aspect to these stories which probably account for it being one of her scarcest to be found collections is that many of the stories feature middle-aged or just plain old characters. A number of these older characters (who, in the way of Aiken stories, may or may not possess uncanny abilities) is that they are very content with their definitely eccentric lives, something which is hard to find in modern fiction. I love the way these people with their small magicks go about making the world, not dramatically, but quietly, a slightly better world to live in.

My favorite story, which I have described to other Aiken fans, none of whom ever remembered reading it (doesn't that make you crazy? it's as if you are a character in a Borges story, reading a slightly different edition with one extra story no one else has ever laid eyes upon; okay, that actually sounds pretty cool when I describe it that way)...
Anyway, my favorite story is about a young woman who sits in a storefront window and is paid to destroy any paper documents that the customer wishes to get rid of (yes, this is before paper shredders ertr a commonplace office item). This story is more of a screwball comedy--there are a couple of thse in this collection--and the title is "Safe and Soundproof."

so, ta-da! There you have it, my long lost Joan Aiken story collection, soon to be scanned and available for sharing.
kestrell: (Default)
While my cataloguing system for ebooks is quirky but efficient, organizing my paper and ink books remains an annoyance, mostly because the braille labels I make for the books keep flaking off.

The really irksome part is that these same labels have no problem sticking to the bottom of my socks.

I probably should not have named my armarium The Closet of Mysteries.
kestrell: (Default)
There was an out-of-print paper book not available in ebook format that I really wanted to read, so I ordered a paper copy intending to scan it, but it's been a month since it shipped, and it still hasn't showed up (I blame this ont he fact that the title is _The Wandering Scholars_).

So I did a little more googling and found out that there is an online collection which had it available for reading online, but, as I am not a member of the university collective it offers access to, I could only read it one page at a time.

I just spent the past three hours copying and pasting the etext together, page by page. It is 330 pages long, so that's about, um, a hundred pages an hour.

Am I the only person who commits this kind of insanity?
kestrell: (Default)
cvirtue and I have been talking about scanning books, and this reminded me of a question I wanted to ask.

What is your favorite book that you haven't been able to find in digital form, either as an etext from a source such as Project Gutenberg or as a commercially available ebook?
kestrell: (Default)
Just in case you hadn't heard of this yet:
_William Shakespeare's Star Wars_
by Ian Doescher (2013)

Synopsis:
Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas's epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare's greatest plays. 'Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome Stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter--and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations--William Shakespeare's Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you're looking for.
kestrell: (Default)
The blurb mentions lesbians, the title is _Torchlight to Valhalla_, so why aren't there Viking lesbians? Am I the only one who thinks Viking lesbians would be awesome with extra awe on top?
http://www.amazon.com/Torchlight-Valhalla-Gale-Wilhelm/dp/1447455789/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371157697&sr=1-1&keywords=torchlight+to+valhalla
kestrell: (Default)
This is the epigraph to _The Encyclopedia of the Dead_ by Danilo Kis; I am including the translation given by Google, but it doesn't entirely make sense to me, so I wanted to make sure the translation was correct before I banged my head against it some more.

Ma rage d'aimer donne sur la mort comme une fenetre sur la cour.

["love my rage faces death as a window onto the courtyard"]
kestrell: (Default)
So there is this new Lovecraft book just out with the catchy title of _H. P. Lovecraft's Dark Arcadia: The Satire, Symbology and Contradiction_, which I have been anticipating for some time.

However, in looking at the Amazon page for the book, there is no book description, but there is a bit about the author, who lives in Florida.

I realize this is really really petty of me, but I find myself doubtful regarding the abilities of an author to really get the mood of Lovecraft right when that author lives in a state that completely lacks gothic ambiance. I'm trying to imagine a Floridian Stephen King, and it just isn't happening.

And then I noticed that there is no publisher listed for the book.

How does that happen? I know I've come to regard self-publishing with some skepticism, but listing no publisher at all does not convey a sense of confidence, either. And why not just make up something if you don't have an actual publisher? I kind of like the ring of Infernal Publishing, Inc.
kestrell: (Default)
Drunk, Jane spoke as though she were Nancy Drew. I was a fool for a girl with a dainty lexicon.

Michael Chabon, from _Mysteries of Pittsburgh_
kestrell: (Default)
I like to think that I am not a total Torquemada when it comes to historical accuracy in novels set in the medEvil period, but there are some clankers which set me to brooding.

Just as a for instance: it is highly unlikely that an English monk living in an eighth-century monastery would be able to see his reflection in a glass window.

Also, it is just as unlikely that a medieval woman would show a guest into her living room.

I know, I know-- I am just a cranky elitist snob throwing the cold water of historical continuity upon some poor author's creativity, but I can't help feeling that authors should make some pretense of not gratuitously crossing over the yellow line while blithely barreling down the highway of poetic license.
kestrell: (Default)
...with fighting monks, no less; damn, how I want the historical novel version of this, especially as it makes the death toll of _The Name of the Rose_ look like a complete sissy-fight.
http://opensource.com/law/11/6/story-st-columba-modern-copyright-battle-sixth-century-ireland
kestrell: (Default)
Did you know that Mark Twain was a fanboy for Helen Keller? What is it about curmudgeons and blind women?

Here is a letter from Twain to Keller
http://www.braillebug.org/hktwain.asp

My favorite bits:

1. block quote start
I must steal half a moment from my work to say how glad I am to have your book and how highly I value it, both for its own sake and as a remembrance of an affectionate friendship which has subsisted between us for nine years without a break and without a single act of violence that I can call to mind. I suppose there is nothing like it in heaven; and not likely to be, until we get there and show off. I often think of it with longing, and how they'll say, "there they come--sit down in front." I am practicing with a tin halo. You do the same.
block quote end
I expect that it was this sort of encouragement which resulted in J. Edgar Hoover keeping a file on Keller...

2. block quote start
Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that "plagiarism" farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernel, the soul--let us go farther and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances in plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second hand, consciously or unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them any where except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing.

When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten thousand men--but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington's battle, in some degree, and we call it his but there were others that contributed. It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a telephone, or any other important thing--and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite--that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.
block quote end

3. Oh, and here is my favorite Mark Twain quote about Keller:
Blindness is an exciting business, I tell you; if you don't believe it get up some dark night on the wrong side of your bed when the house is on fire and try to find the door.
- quoted by Helen Keller, Midstream
from this page on Mark Twain quotes about Helen Keller
http://www.twainquotes.com/Keller_Helen.html

4. And last, but not least, here is an online exhibit about Twain and Keller, their friendship, and parallels in each of their lives
http://www.historyofredding.com/epl/twain-keller-exhibit.htm

What if...

May. 7th, 2013 04:32 pm
kestrell: (Default)
The Malleus Maleficarum turned out to be all true and Heinrich Kramer, instead of being a complete crackpot, was actually right about the powers possessed by certain witches?

Heinrich Kramer, sitting at a wooden table, glares at the three female witches standing before him.
HK: Do you confess?
Witch 1 quakes in fear.
Witch 2 attempts to look even more pitiful than she is.
Witch 3: Whatever. Guess what I have?
HK: You will answer the question!
Witch 3: Okay, I totally confess...I actually do have your penis.
[Pulling penis from behind her back and waggling it at HK].
Witch 3 [ in a squeky voice]: Heeeeelllllp me, Heiny!
Witch 1, who was not quaking in fear, cackles with laughter.
Witch 2, who may or may not be blind, runs to the other side of the room: Over here, over here!
Witch 3 tosses penis to Witch 2, who pauses to examine it: It doesn't look very hammer-like...
HK is too busy checking his pants to offer a counterargument as Witch 2, wiggling her nose to make the shackles disappear, says: I still don't get why we couldn't just leave it in a tree on the way out of town, like all the other times.
Witch 1, who has gotten a Sharpie from somewhere, is drawing a face on the penis, completing it with an eye patch, and merely replies "Arrrrrrrrgh!"
HK is still staring disbelievingly down his pants.
Witch 3: Okay, girls, enough fun, let's get this time-traveling show on the road. I want to be back in 21st century Salem in time for half-price margaritas at The Witches' Brew.
kestrell: (Default)
Again, from Umbie, regarding his review of a book on modern art which he seems to think may have been a bit narrow-minded and reactionary:

"If you are clever enough at this point to skip several chapters of the book, many traumata of reading will be eliminated..."
kestrell: (Default)
is that, while other authors would fall back upon the paltry phrase "Words fail me," Eco takes up the challenge to create truly fantastic images. This is Eco describing a tacky tourist trap in California after he has been on a pilgrimage of tacky tourist traps.

block quote start
The poor words with which natural human speech is provided cannot suffice to describe the Madonna Inn. To convey its external appearance, divided into a series of constructions, which you reach by way of a filling station carved from Dolomitic rock, or through the restaurant, the bar, and the cafeteria, we can only venture some analogies. Let's say that Albert Speer, while leafing through a book on Gaudi, swallowed an overgenerous dose of LSD and began to build a nuptial catacomb for Liza Minnelli. But that doesn't give you an idea.... No, that still isn't right. Let's try telling about the rest rooms. They are an immense underground cavern, something like Altamira and Luray, with Byzantine columns supporting plaster baroque cherubs. The basins are big imitation-mother-of-pearl shells, the urinal is a fireplace carved from the rock, but when the jet of urine (sorry, but I have to explain) touches the bottom, water comes down from the wall of the hood, in a flushing cascade something like the Caves of the Planet Mongo.
block quote end
kestrell: (Default)
Is there a way to tell if these are an older and newer edition of the same text, or whether the newer text has been changed from that of the older edition?

1. _The School of Peter Abelard: The Influence of Abelard's Thought in the Early Scholastic Period_
by D. E. Luscombe (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: New Series)
Publication date: October 2008
ISBN: 97805210888a24

http://www.amazon.com/The-School-Peter-Abelard-Scholastic/dp/0521088828/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=1I7K4AKE6CO1B&coliid=I1JDHLUTEO5FN3

2. Same title, same author, same series, but different publication date and ISBN
Publication Date: July 1, 1969
ISBN-10: 0521073375 ISBN-13: 978-0521073370

http://www.amazon.com/The-School-Peter-Abelard-Scholastic/dp/0521073375/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=1I7K4AKE6CO1B&coliid=I32G10YGABUAPK
kestrell: (Default)
And yet, somehow, I can't find it in myself to deny that this sentence makes a weird kind of sense to me...

The aim of literature ... is the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart.
Donald Barthelme

April 7, 1931: Postmodernist short story writer Donald Barthelme was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 82 years ago today.
from GoodReads quote of the day

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