A bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a career in libraries almost killed my fiction consumption. I’d read a story here and there, but mostly, I was reading articles, and nonfiction manuals and analyses of library services, assessment and copyright.
Then, one evening, I walked into our dining room-library-office and looked at the shelves full of interesting books that we had, for various reasons, picked up over the years. I reached out and I grabbed one. Probably by design, I grabbed one that I knew wouldn’t be to hard to get through – an Agatha Christie Poirot mystery. I followed it with another Poirot, then a young adult ghost story, and then, the spine of the Conjure Wife winked at me from a short stack of books on the shelf one down from the top.
It was a book that Richard had picked up, probably because of the cover or the ‘Gothic Horror’ emblazoned on the front. Everybody has their own method of selecting unheard of literature…pleasure reading. My method is to allow the title, cover and description to grab me, then to open the first page of the first chapter and read. If what I read doesn’t grab me, I open to a random page in the middle and read. If what I read the second time doesn’t grab me, I put the book down. This is a luxury of selection that I was not able to enjoy while getting my English Literature degree, and am not able to enjoy while researching and studying for my work. When I picked up the Conjure Wife from our shelves and tried my method on it, I found myself standing in a dimming room, facing the corner of books, while I read several pages without being able to tear myself away.
It was fascinating and timeless, set within an envelope of academia that seemed so familiar and yet different from what I experience every day. Fritz Leiber writes so that you know every corner of a room and every freckle on a person’s face without tediously focusing on any one thing or bloating his work with never ending descriptions. The scene is laid out like the action, so that they are both one thing, inseparable. In the same way, Scriabin’s Sonata No. 9 was so tied to the emotional state of the character/narrator that I wasn’t always sure which was being described; that I was propelled to seek out the music to hear the story in another way.
But, I can’t tell you any more about the story because Richard hasn’t read it yet.
Levi Levi Chapter 3: Epic Problems at APPIC is posting! …every Thursday. I know it’s been a while, but the story of Levi’s adventures at the Amateur and Professional Private Investigator’s Conference is about to unfold.
Also starting up again are random comics on the Drawing board. They will be posting intermittently on Tuesdays and have all sorts of sarcastic commentary on libraries and copyright, fooling around by Carmine and Vinny, and bits and blurbs from movies, songs, and books.
No Evil issue one: Wherein we meet Clay Jackson, Ruby Sloan and Morton; three scarred and dysfunctional mediums who travel the country doing seances and spirit clearing at the behest of their boss, and carnival owner, Mr. Gary.
No Evil issue two – The Zombie: A co-production of yours truly and Richard of DoomedMovieThon. Richard sends our heroes, Clay, Ruby, and Morton to a little out of the way hotel to solve the mystery of an alarming and persistent zombie haunting.
Buy your copy of issues one and two at the LeEMSmachine Etsy store.
In my quest for author voices I found that John Philip Sousa, great conductor and composer, had also penned an impassioned and oddly prophetic argument about phonograph music as a copyright infringement and a harbinger of the death of amateur music. Looking further, hoping to find more comments on copyright, I found that he had written fiction as well.
Can you imagine my surprise? Marching band legend, and writer of marches that permeate pomp, circumstance, cartoons and popular culture (who I recently found out is not as well known as I expected) was also a spinner of yarns! The Fifth String is a story that seems utterly familiar: a man going to impossible lengths to win the love of a lady, a quest to attain the unattainable, a deal with the devil, etc. The writing is perfectly engaging and walks at a pace that you might expect from a story published in 1902, and it is, every now and then, peppered with perfectly lovely imagery and delightful vocabulary:
“blinking-eyed cabs came up the avenue, looking at a distance like a trail of Megatheriums, gliding through the darkness”
Just in case you haven’t heard any Sousa, here is the March of the White Rose (not as ubiquitous as most, but I like the beginning):
I’ve had this idea rattling about in my head for a long time. The basis for this life-size, life-weight dummy would be a burlap or canvas sack filled mostly with saw dust. The limbs and head would be solid wood. Inside the body would be a network of chains and armature that would make the marionette move only the way a slack human body would move.
For example, when you or I tilt our head to the side very quickly the should that we are tilting away from starts to rise, lifting the arm a little. If the head of a doll is just affixed at one point, perhaps as a socket joint like many popular dolls today, then it would be incapable of moving the way a human can. Though the plan for this dummy has a solid piece of wood as the neck, it is joined in the sack of the body to chains that anchor it to the ‘rib’ armature in three places making sure that it’s movements are connected to the movements of the chest and arm area.
This is only a snippet of how much I’ve thought about the mechanics of this thing. And, as a full blown project, a life size project, I think it would creep me out too much to ever make it. Though, perhaps a small sized mock-up?
A little bunny revenge post Easter. I worked up this pattern a very little while ago and did not know what to do with it. Well, here you go…
The repeating image:
I’m wearing fancy lederhosen style pants today, so I’m bringing this back. Ya’ll don’t mind a repost do you?
Inspired by a song, but not quite a song comic: Honey Comb… only slightly disturbing since all of her wonderful attributes are qualified by the fact that her head is a PIECE OF FOAM!
I did some online shopping and got an awesome new purse in the mail the other day. But there’s a mystery! All the packaging on the purse was in Chinese. The label plaque on the front says: MEDE DE ITALY – CIANMI VEASRGE GOUTUAH….Via dei Cesa 16 Milano. Google translate says the first part is Dutch, meaning “Also the Italy.” Google translate says the next bit it actually Chinese, but offers no translation. Finally, Via Dei Cesa 16 Milano is actually Italian. It maps to a Via Antonio Cesari, 16.
There is no doorway for number 16 on Via Antonio Cesari, but there is some graphiti on the wall which reads: Muri Puliti Popolo Muto – machine translated as “walls clean dumb people.” …Or, could it be, dumb people clean walls? There is a police station at Via Antonio Cesari, 20.
What does it all mean?