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Post-op update +Preliminary Stoker ballot +Twisted Ladder review
I had my post-op checkup on Monday and everything is healing fine, although there is still a bit of achiness and some slight bleeding. I made an appt. to get my new pair of prosthetic eyes made in mid-March, after LJ user alexx_kay gets back from GDC. A. did a bunch of online research so he is armed with all srts of pictures and descriptions of the Delirium eyes that I want, so we will find out if my ocularist is going to stop being such a mundane about this.
Mostly I have just been reading and sleeping--Elizabeth Kostova's _The Historian_ (2005) was my favorite book to nap to, hundreds of pages in which nothing happens, and considering it is about Dracula and evil books, that is quite an accomplishment.

Ellen Datlow has posted
but I have only read two of the books on it: _The Writer's Workshop of Horror_, which I highly recommend, and _Twisted Ladder_, by Rhodi Hawk, about which I feel really conflicted. I'm including my review below the cut, and if anyone is interested in having my print copy, I can bring it along to Boskone. I'm also culling the fantasy section of my print library and, if I remember correctly, will bring the results to Boskone and add them to the free books table. I'll post a list of what I am bringing next week, in case anyone wants dibs.

Kestrell's review of Twisted Ladder by Rhodi Hawk (2009) [scanned myself]

It's rare that I feel this conflicted about a book but, while there is plenty to recommend this novel, it also has some serious shortcomings, which probably would not stand out so much if the overall quality of the writing wasn't so well done.

What I liked:
Rhodi Hawk does an outstanding job at portraying the richness and diversity of New Orleans and Creole culture, and includes an impressive amount of detail on everything from the food to the various and varied forms of architecture.
The novel has a great premise:
continued below cut )
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Okay, I was planning on getting this anyway because Cecil Castellucci has a story in it, and I pretty much read everything she writes, but then yesterday I got to talk with LJ user Shadesong at the final showing of the Code Monkey musical, and found out she has a story in it, too. Today I find that it is not only available in an accessible ebook format but Henry Jenkins wrote the introduction, so it's a done deal.
It's edited by Delia Sherman & Christopher Barzak and you can purchase it on Fictionwise for the low price of $9
Also, for those who were at the infamous JoCo concert, Fictionwise seems to have a new ebook titled _That's What She Said: Women Reveal What Men Really Need to's like some sort of conspiracy.
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It's so nice to see that
the FTC has finally entered the 20th century
and is sparing no effort to catch up with 20th century publishing.

Every time a representative of the United States government speaks on the subject of the state of media I just feel safer ans safer, knowing that my well-being is in the competent hands of a truly knowledgeable and experienced professional.

Thus, I submit for your consideration,

Quote 1
block quote start
Cleland informed me that the FTC’s main criteria is the degree of relationship between the advertiser and the blogger.

“The primary situation is where there’s a link to the sponsoring seller and the blogger,” said Cleland. And if a blogger repeatedly reviewed similar products
(say, books or smartphones), then the FTC would raise an eyebrow if the blogger either held onto the product or there was any link to an advertisement.

What was the best way to dispense with products (including books)?

“You can return it,” said Cleland. “You review it and return it. I’m not sure that type of situation would be compensation.”

If, however, you held onto the unit, then Cleland insisted that it could serve as “compensation.” You could after all sell the product on the streets.
block quote end

Quote 2
block quote start
But what’s the difference between an individual employed at a newspaper assigned to cover a beat and an individual blogger covering a beat of her own volition?

“We are distinguishing between who receives the compensation and who does the review,” said Cleland. “In the case where the newspaper receives the book
and it allows the reviewer to review it, it’s still the property of the newspaper. Most of the newspapers have very strict rules about that and on what
happens to those products.”

In the case of books, Cleland saw no problem with a blogger receiving a book, provided there wasn’t a linked advertisement to buy the book and that the
blogger did not keep the book after he had finished reviewing it. Keeping the book would, from Cleland’s standpoint, count as “compensation” and require a disclosure.

But couldn’t the same thing be said of a newspaper critic?

Cleland insisted that when a publisher sends a book to a blogger, there is the expectation of a good review. I informed him that this was not always the
case and observed that some bloggers often receive 20 to 50 books a week. In such cases, the publisher hopes for a review, good or bad. Cleland didn’t
see it that way.

“If a blogger received enough books,” said Cleland, “he could open up a used bookstore.”

block quote end
My own experience as a blogger and online reviewer completely supports this obviously well-thought out statement--because if there is any business which promises more financial reimbursement for your time and energy spent as an online book reviewer, it is owning a used bookstore. I've known many a young and penniless but hardworking lad who began his existence as a poor book reviewer and then managed to earn his fortune and become one of those gentlemen used bookstore owners who may take their ease. Really, the only thing simpler is finding a rich girl to marry.
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can be found here
and if you are a fan of the ghost stories of Dickens, Melville, Hawthorne, and James, I encourage you to pick up this book, which I think is bound to win a number of the horror literature awards over the next year.

Amongst other new offerings
is a review of
Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb
which involves one of my favorite supernatural presences, the Wild Hunt.
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The Pirates' Dilemma: How Youth Culture is Reinventing Capitalism
by Matt Mason, available for download at

This book was a pure delight to my little media studies soul, and I give it five stars. If you are interested in cyberculture, remix media, and the subversive uses of technology, you should read this book. If you purchase it through the author's Web site, he's only asking $5 for an accessible PDF version (I think this requires PayPal), but you can also find it on Fictionwise, granted at a higher price.

I originally read about this book on the TeleRead blog, which described it as "an interesting tour through the disruptive effects youth culture has had on society through the last few decades..." The big surprise for me was that Matt Mason begins his story with a discussion of punk music which he connects to the DIY movement. Later chapters discuss connections between such topics as the hippie counterculture and computers, hiphop music and street fashion, graffiti and virul marketing, even disco and remix culture. You might think that some of these connections sound pretty unlikely, but Mason knows his stuff, and he includes hundreds of links to online articles to verify his sources. In addition, he has done a lot of reading from academia, although he makes the process pretty painless.

Another source for Mason's text is his work as a music journalist, and many of the quotes and comments which pepper the book were originally from interviews Mason himself conducted with the musicians. In addition to these conversations with the musicians, Mason includes interview material from street artists, pirate radio DJs, club MCs, and more.

A lot of these technologies and media have been around for a decade or two now, and yet a lot of the mainstream remains ignorant about how the tech works or the motivations the artists and fans have for adopting these subversive modes of creating and sharing media. What's more incredible is that a lot of the people who are making the laws regarding media technologies are still ignorant of what precisely they are creating laws for.

block quote begin
In the United States in March 2007, Congressman Mike Doyle
made a speech defending remix culture in the House, schooling his fellow
politicians on the new rules of twenty-first-century creativity. He
said at a hearing discussing the future of music:

I hope that everyone involved will take a step back and ask themselves
if mash-ups and mixtapes are really different or if it’s the
same as Paul McCartney admitting that he nicked the Chuck Berry
bass-riff and used it on the Beatles’ hit “I Saw Her Standing

Maybe it is . . . or maybe mixtapes are a powerful tool. And
maybe mash-ups are transformative new art that expands the
consumers’ experience and doesn’t compete with what an artist
has made available on iTunes or at the CD store. And I don’t
think Sir Paul asked for permission to borrow that bass line, but
every time I listen to that song, I’m a little better off for him having
done so.

The speech was inspiring. It seems the powers that be are beginning
to get to grips with the Pirate’s Dilemma. But to illustrate how much
work needs to be done before politicians everywhere understand how
valuable the remix can be, consider the opening remarks of congressman
John Shimkus of Illinois who spoke after Mr. Doyle. He said:
“Hey, Mr. Chairman, I was just trying to figure out half of the words
that Mike Doyle just mentioned. I am clueless.”
block quote end
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I requested that Bookshare try to acquire this book fromt he publisher and encourage other Bookshare members who are interested to also make a request. The $100+ price tag and the language issues make me think this book would be difficult to acquire and scan for myself. There's a link to a fascinating NY Times article about teh book at the end of this post.

The Red Book
by C. G. Jung, Sonu Shamdasani, Mark Kyburz, and John Peck (Hardcover - Oct 7, 2009)
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. (October 7, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0393065677
ISBN-13: 978-0393065671

The Holy Grail of the Unconscious
Published: September 16, 2009
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Cracked Media
The Sound of Malfunction
By Caleb Kelly
[includes sample chapters and table of contents]

How the deliberate cracking and breaking of playback media has produced experimental music and sound by artists and musicians ranging from Nam June Paik and Christian Marclay to Yasunao Tone and Oval.
September 2009 ISBN 978-0-262-01314-7
$24.95/£18.95 (CLOTH)

And here are a few links on assistive tech and accessible cell phones from
Top Tech Tidbits Page

1. Main Menu this week features three parts: a demonstration of the Magic Jack Internet phone service, an interview about Serotek's Accessible Event, and an interview about the forthcoming Orator screen reader for Blackberries. Main Menu airs at 01:00 GMT both Saturday and Wednesday, and programs are speedily archived for streaming or downloading if you miss the live airing. In the archive is a two-part series on using Facebook.

2. This Fred's Head post discusses a shareware screen magnifier which is regularly updated and is said to work better than similar products: Magnifying Glass Pro

3. Listen to SeroTalk Podcast 20 - $69 iPhone GPS Solution, TechShare 2009 and Ten Accessible Radio Apps for the ipHone

4. Listen to SeroTalk Tech Chat 27 on iTunes for Windows
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Note that I review a couple of academic collections on themes in Shakespeare lit and film in my "Books read in June," whic follows this entry.

1. Icarus: The Magazine of Gay Speculative Fiction edited by Steve Berman (Issue 1, Summer 2009) [etext available upon request]
I'm really excited about this new journal, since genre fiction seems to have such a strong intersection with queer fiction. My favorite piece was a nonfiction article, “Watching Dark Shadows” by Jeff Mann, which seems like a particularly timely piece as I hear that Johnny Depp just agreed to play the role of Barnabas Collins in the film remake of the series. The issue also contained short stories, interviews, and a brief section at the back which mentions new and soon-to-be-released gay genre fiction.

Here's the blurb about the journal:
"a periodical dedicated to gay fantasy, horror, science fiction, as well as weird stories that fall through the cracks-between" Lethe Press

2. Dead Reckonings Issue 5 Spring 2009 edited by (2009) [scanned myself]
In my opinion this is the best literary horror journal around and one of the few periodicals that I await with impatience. It points me to the good stuff, helps me avoid the tedious stuff, and often prompts me to reread the classics. In addition, it offers the occasional wtf? surprise such as this issues list of best horror muisc, written by Ramsey Campbells (and just in time to update my gothy classical music selections for Halloween).

3. Locke and Key by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (200) [read aloud by LJ user alexx_kay]
Continuing the creepy chronicles of what happens when the Locke siblings move to the old family home located in Lovecraft, a small town in New England. Hill is writing a fast-paced yet intricate story, and Rodriguez is providing some wonderful illustrations.

4. Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death by Deborah Blum (2006) [scanned myself]
This is a fascinating book written by a science writer who follows the development of the spiritualism movement in America and Britain during the lifetime of William James and a dozen or so other famous scholars and scientists, many of them Nobel Prize winners. I'm not so much interested in spiritualism specifically but as a general case study in how individuals used it as a means for resisting the despiritualization of the world after Darwinism became widely accepted. I'm intrigued with how people who were for the most part integrated into the scientific and academic communities provided theories which resisted scientific declaration that there is no such thing as god with either an upper or lowercase g, no such things as spirits, or anything other than what can be perceived materially through the senses. As pointed out by the historian Ronald Hutton _The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft_ (1999), spiritualism was just one of an ongoing series of counterculture movements against materialism which had been occurring since the Enlightenment and, as in the case of Romanticism in Germany and Britain, these resistances were expressed in art and literature as well as in nonfiction writings. The people creating modern paganism were also reading the scholarly writings in the fields of not only science but of folklore and archeology, and what got published became adopted and integrated into what participants and practitioners of these counterculture movements insisted were older unbroken traditions dating from prehistory, thus not so much denying the theories of the sciences as finding ways to reinterpret them.
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Yesterday Alexx and I trekked out to the Lahey Clinic in Burlington for my post-op checkup. While we were sitting in the waiting room, Alexx described an object sitting on the receptionists's desk. It was a beaker filled with knitted eyeballs with variously colored irises and a small sign saying "Rude patients." This was so cool, I wandered up to the desk and mentioned that I have a crazy knitter friend, and I would love to show her one of the eyeballs, so could I please have one? This brought upt the question among the receptionists and nurses of who, exactly, had made the knitted eyeballs, and after determining that no one was going to admit to having put it there, the head receptionist said, sure, knock yourself out.
So now I have a knitted eyeball, basically scaled to lifesize and complete with a little dangly optic nerve in the back. It has a purple iris because I'm thinking of getting purple prosthettic eyes next time.

After the doctor's assistant showed us into an examining room, she said, "The doctor told me I was supposed to check your vision--how blind are you?"
So I proceeded to tell the story of how I was as blind as a person could get, 0/0 vision, removable eyeballs, prosthetic eyes, to which the assistant said, "Wow! You have prosthetic eyes! I've never seen one of those before!"
So then I proceeded to let her stare deeply into my prosthetic eye (the one which wasn't swollen shut, that is), and we had fun talking about prosthetic eyes and I told her about the YouTube video showing how prosthetic eyes are made
and all kinds of groovy things like that until the doctor showed up, poked me in the eye a few times and told me I was doing great and could go home now, but I should come see her again in six weeks after which I would probably be able to get my prosthetic eyes version 3.0, as LJ user Jesse the K refers to them. I know I had an eyepatch somewhere in the aerye, but of course now I can't find it.

I like to keep a few spooky books about for days like today, when it's all stormy and raining, and today's selection was _Supernatural Fiction Writers: Volume I_ edited by E. F. Bleiler (Apuleius - May Sinclair). The entire volume is a little over five hundred pages long and frankly, I will probably skip Volume II as most of the authors fall into the category which I refer to as N.D.E. (Not Dead Enough). It's a wonderful reference work, providing a basic biography of each author, along with a critical overview of the author's most notable works and a selected bibliography which includes criticism. Each entry is written by a notable critic in the genre of supernatural fiction, critics such as Jack Sullivan and John Clute, who writes the entry for Walter de la Mare (it's hard to think of a critic other than Clute who could do the rather esoteric and ineffable writings of de la Mare justice). At least for this period, it's 1985 publication date does not make it noticeably out-of-date, with the exception of the occasional comment such as when the editor mentions in the introduction that interest in Tolkien's _Lord of the Rings_ seems to be fading.
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I'm stealing this from Paul Di Filippo (pgdf) who posted it to the Inferior Four LJ community
I was pleased to hear Michael Dirda and others, including Charles Brown, speak about reviewing at ReaderCon, and I will be posting my brief notes from that panel later. For now, I want to mention my latest case of book lust, which I discovered through a review from The Washington Post Book World site:
The Annotated The Wind in the Willows (2009)
A review by Michael Sims
It occurred to me while writing this post how often one can indulge in a little game of 6 degrees of Lovecraft. How do I get from Michael Dirda to Lovecraft in this post? Michael Dirda gave the speech I linked to above, and he also reviews for Book World, which posted the review for _The Annotated The Wind in the Willows_, in which the reviewer mentions his own childhood copy of
The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, written by William S. Baring-Gould. This Baring-Gould was a grandson of Sabine Baring-Gould, who was one of those eccentric antiquarian scholars who wrote the classic _The Book of Were-Wolves_ and a book about the castles of the troubador country and a book about medieval myths admired by H. P. Lovecraft (refer to Steven J. Mariconda, "Baring-Gould and the Ghouls: The Influence of Curious Myths of the Middle Ages on 'The Rats in the Walls'",
The Horror of It All, p. 42).
So there!
Also, acccording to Wikipedia
William Baring-Gould, when he was creating a biography of Sherlock Holmes, based Holmes early life upon that of Sabine Baring-Gould, and this has led to much intertwining of SBG's biographical details with those of Holmes.
Project Gutenberg has a number of SBG's works online
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Publisher Steve Berman, of whom I am a big fan, just released the
premiere issue of Icarus, his new gay-themed speculative fiction magazine
I have already ordered my copy.

Here is more about Icarus:

block quote start
Icarus is the first magazine devoted to gay-themed speculative fiction and writing - from fantasy to horror to science fiction, and all the weird tales
that fall between the cracks. Our first issue features short stories by Jeff Mann, Joel D. Lane, Jameson Currier and Tom Cardamone; interviews with Dan
Stone and graphic artist Peter Grahame; poetry by Lawrence M. Schoen; plus book reviews, an article about the Gaylactic Network, and brief happenings in
gay publishing. Icarus is published by Lethe Press.

Please Note: Icarus comes from MagCloud in a clear plastic mailer. If this is a problem for you, please contact
block quote end

As far as other things which are being added to my to be read pile, I'm going to be grabbing a copy of "The Tiger's Wife" by Téa Obreht in the Summer Fiction issue of the New Yorker (June 8), which is getting a lot of rave reviews from the Interstitial Arts crowd as a brilliant example of magical realism and fairy tale/folklore.
More about the story here
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Aside from all the hard work they do to make the books happen, they tend to produce useful comments on the topic of language and grammar. The following example turned up in my newsletter from
Juno Books

block quote start
[Tangent: It *is* "trouper" not "trooper." A trooper is a soldier and they can, indeed, be troupers, but the idea of a real trouper comes from the theatrical world. A trouper performer -- originally a member of traveling "troupe" - who knows the show must go on no matter what. Whatever the circumstances, despite the odds, a real trouper perseveres without complaint.]
block quote end

I also really want the Wisconsin Badger cap being given away in the contest for
AMAZON INK by Lori Devoti

Also note that if you have a manuscrpt in the paranormal romance, urban fantasy, or related genre, Juno Books is looking for submissions.
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I've been reading lots of articles on horror film criticism which I am not going to exhaustively list here, thus the somewhat low total number of books read this month, but I do want to mention this book which just sounds all sorts of fascinating to me:
The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience by Jennifer M. Barker
Product Description
The Tactile Eye expands on phenomenological analysis and film theory in its accessible and beautifully written exploration of the visceral connection between
films and their viewers. Jennifer M. Barker argues that the experience of cinema can be understood as deeply tactile--a sensuous exchange between film
and viewer that goes beyond the visual and aural, gets beneath the skin, and reverberates in the body. Barker combines analysis of embodiment and phenomenological
film theory to provide an expansive description of cinematic tactility.

1. The Skylark by Peter Straub (2009) [scanned myself]
Read for review.

2. Philosophy in the Twilight Zone edited by Noel Carroll and Lester H. Hunt (2009) [scanned myself]
Read for review.

3. Various stories from Bound for Evil edited by Tom English (2008) [scanned myself]
A book about evil books! I *love* this book, and I think I love Tom English for producing it, even though I think he must indeed be a Tom O'Bedlam to have done it (it's quite the tome of doom and could effectively if not easily be used as a blunt weapon).
More about Bound for Evil here

4. Midnight Movies by J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum (1991) []
The main focus is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, although this is also used to introduce a cultural history of the midnight movie which includes a lot of interesting material; it also contained way more discussion of Waters and Lynch than I was up for, but it's a very browse-worthy book.
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From The Writer's Almanac comes this description of an author whose work I have managed to totally miss, a sad fact which must be addressed in the near future.

block quote start
Today is the 44th birthday of memoirist and journalist Jim Knipfel, born in Grand Forks, North Dakota (1965) but raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He's best known for his humorous and sarcastic "Slackjaw" column, which has run weekly in different publications for more than 20 years. He's written a thousand weekly columns, a trilogy of memoirs, and a couple of novels.

Knipfel is legally blind due to a rare genetic eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. It first appeared when he was about 11 or 12, when he could no longer see in dim restaurants or see at night. When he was in his early 20s, an ophthalmologist finally diagnosed his disease and told him that he'd be blind in a few years. About five years ago, he told an interviewer that the way he viewed the world was "kind of like peering through two toilet paper tubes all the time."

He'd been writing his Slackjaw column for about 10 years when a Penguin Putnam editor approached him with a book deal to write a memoir. The memoir, entitled Slackjaw like the column, came out in 1999.

When the book came out, the publishers sent him on a 10-city promotional tour. Knipfel later said, "Putting a blind man on a plane to 10 cities he's never been to before struck me as cruel and funny." At promotional book events, he had to read from photocopies of his book that had been hugely enlarged, and had to use a magnifying glass and have a strong lamp shining right there on his paper to read, and even then, his eyes would give out after a page or two, and he'd make the rest up.

Knipfel is fond of his parents and has said that he had a great childhood, but he also suffered from very severe bouts of depression in his teens and young adulthood, and tried committing suicide a dozen times. When he was 22, in his final suicide attempt, he tried first to hang himself and then swallowed two fistfuls of pills and a fifth of Scotch. He stumbled out of his Minneapolis apartment, he recalls, into the hallway and "made such a commotion that the cops came and they ended up beating me up. As suicide scenes go, I thought it was pretty funny."

He was put in a psychiatric hospital in Minneapolis for the next six months, and he wrote about his stay in the Minneapolis psychiatric hospital in his second memoir, Quitting the Nairobi Trio (2000). He finished the first draft of the book in 10 days.

Knipfel says that when it comes to writing books, he prefers to write "in marathon fashion." He says, "Before I begin, before word one is typed, I need to have the complete story in my head. That's the important thing. Then I'll take what vacation time I can get from the paper, parcel out what needs to be done given what time I have available, lock the apartment door, sit down and type eight to 10 hours a day (with regular cigarette breaks). I start with the first chapter and drive straight through to the end. I guess this comes from a deep love for the pulps."

His third memoir, Ruining It for Everybody (2004),begins: "Whenever I hear the word 'spiritual' I reach for my revolver.'"
block quote end


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