Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Short Fiction Wednesday

Just a quick note this week, as I'm still trying to work through a backlog of stories I've been meaning to read. Last week's Fantasy Magazine story, "Logovore" by Joseph F. Nacino stands out from what I've read. I love the concept of someone literally eating the words out of people's minds, and the wine-snob-ish descriptions of various words was delightfully whimsical. Fun story.

Friday, September 24, 2010

More pirate ponderings...

We continue to listen to the Pirates of the Caribbean Swashbuckling Songs (over and over...my son says, "We've listened to the pirates CD sixteen times!" but I think he's off by a factor of ten...). There's this great, ponderous pipe-organ song, and it got me wondering where the connection between pirates and pipe organs comes from.

Alas, Google has not answered my question. The closest I could come to an answer is the suggestion that the connection between the movie's Davy Jones and an organ is a tip of the hat to Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, where Captain Nemo has an organ on the Nautilus. The problem with that, though, is that I remember cartoons having the same trope of pipe organs on sunken ships and shipwrecks. Even Goonies has it, doesn't it? A booby-trapped pipe organ? So if the connection is to Verne, then it goes back much further, and the movie is only continuing that earlier trope.

Unless...hmmm. The movie is loosely based on the amusement park ride. I have no idea how old that ride is or if it has the same Davy Jones/Flying Dutchman character. But if the ride is old enough and has a pipe organ (as a nod to Verne), then that could be the source of the trope. Lauren, you know all about Disney World. Come to my rescue here. Or anyone else with knowledge about such things, of course.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Short Fiction Saturday

Well, since I'm still trying to get back into a regular pattern of blogging here, I figured I might as well post this today instead of waiting until the usual Tuesday/Wednesday. Yoon Ha Lee's "Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain" in Lightspeed is a mind-bending story of a universe where the ending is certain, but the past is fluid and undetermined. Well worth reading.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reading Group

We met last night for our reading group. Every year a couple of the guys bid on a "Traditional High Tea" at a charity auction, so rather than the usual meeting at the pub, we met on the house of one of our members for Oolong and Black Pearl (yo ho ho?) tea and a couple of others, along with a big variety of scones and other foods. In past years we've combined it with a time to drink a variety of single malt Scotch whisky (my favorite last year was the Laphroaig), but this year our two experts on single malts were both out of town, so we decided to have that another night.

The person whose house we were at is also hosting a grad student in (micro-) finance/business who was born and grew up in a Tutsi refugee camp in Uganda. So he recommended the book Left to Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza as a good way to understand the 1994 genocide. Immaculée's story is a powerful one, and I was especially struck by the way it was neighbors and childhood friends who, convinced by the wild propaganda, turned on her family and so many others. It also made me ashamed that more wasn't done internationally to try to stop it. The discussion of the book was good, as was the chance we had to hear the student's own story.

One of our members, a psychology professor, is fascinated with memoirs of theologians apparently...so our next book is Lewis Smede's My God and I.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Arrr, me maties

We like to check out CDs of kids music from the library (by which I mean, my kids like to listen to lots of kids music, and I'd rather not own lots of it...), and recently we've been listening over and over to a Disney CD of swashbuckling pirate songs. It's actually a lot of fun and makes me want to write a pirate story. What I find especially funny, though, is one very peppy, upbeat song about...how lots of pirates are dead and under the water. "All good pirates have a friend or two / down in Davy Jones' Locker..." Am I corrupting my children?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Short Fiction Thursday

I haven't done this (otherwise regular) feature for a few weeks now. I've still been reading the stories at my usual ezines, and I've enjoyed some of them as well. The silence shouldn't be taken as a sign that the stories haven't been good...though it's true that none has jumped out as definitely one I want to rave about. I haven't been reading quite as many, though, because I've also been reading short fiction in print, sometimes at times when I would otherwise be reading them online.

One anthology I'm making my way through is the John Klima-edited Logorrhea. I'd read several of the stories before, and some of them received well-due praise at the time (Daniel Abraham's Hugo-nominated "The Cambist and Lord Iron" certainly deserves its nomination). A couple from those I've read over the past week jumped out at me, though, in part because I don't recall any discussion of them at the time the book came out:

Neil Williamson's "The Euonymist" is actually a reprint, having appeared in Electric Velocipede originally (which, of course, is also edited by Klima). Euonym means an appropriate name for something, and the titular character's job is to decide how to name newly discovered things, from planets to plant species, within the context of the many competing intelligent species of a galaxy-wide Bloc. And having a name chosen from your own cultural history is a great point of pride. A very well-crafted and entertaining story.

Tim Pratt's "From Around Here" appears to have actually gotten some notice at the time, including being reprinted in a Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, but it escaped my notice. It's the story of supernatural spirits who are deeply tied to a particular location. The narrator, Reva, senses something wrong in the neighborhood he comes to and tries to figure out what it is so he can make it right. The story actually reminded me of Octavia Butler's Patternist stories, which is a very good thing to be reminded of.

These are far from the only good stories here, and I haven't even finished reading all of them, but these are two that jumped out at me over the past week. Next week I'm hoping to get back into mentioning some of the stories in online zines.

Friday, September 03, 2010

An old soccer t-shirt

I was digging through my old clothes for something to wear running this morning and came across a shirt that was my favorite back in high school. The front is a big block of text, each line fully justified, but with a big variation in font size to make it work. Just thought I'd copy it here for fun:

It's been 90 minutes.
The score is tied.
You're sucking wind
& resting with your hands on your knees.
I am smiling & laughing.
'Cuz while you were sitting in front of the TV,
I was training.
So don't hang your head...it's too late.
just listen to your coach read you the riot act.
I'll be thinking about
how I'm gonna score on you.
On second thought, maybe you should hang your head.
At least you'll be able to see the ball
as I push it through your wobbly legs.
But don't let it get to you...
It's only a game!

I can remember wearing it to Cedar Point (or was it 6 Flags Great America?) and having people constantly tell me not to move when the line moved so they could finish reading it.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Reading group

Sorry about the brief gap in posts, there. It's been quite an adjustment to get into the rhythm of school days, now that my son is in school all day. It means earlier mornings, which none of us here are used to.

Anyway, we met last week for our book club to discuss Falkner's Light in August. The intent was to meet at a different bar in a nearby town, where a couple of our members live (they live in the town, not the bar). The type of bar, supposedly, where you don't walk in the main entrance, or they know you're not a local. Which is bad. The kind of place with $1 PBRs. Unfortunately (?) a flood in the bar meant it was closed that night, so we went over to a nearby, non-chain Mexican restaurant.

So after all that...beer of choice: Modelo Negra, a dark beer imported from Mexico. It was a good beer, much better than what I was expecting to have to drink (though admittedly more expensive).

The discussion of the book was book. I had to miss the beginning of it, because I arrived late, but I enjoyed the book a lot, enjoyed Faulkner's writing style more than in other books of his (not that I'd disliked it in Go Down, Moses, for what it's worth). In all a good time.

Next time we've got a special guest, a CSU grad student who was born in a refugee camp as a result of the Rwanda Genocide. He's staying with one of our members for the current school year, so we asked him to suggest a book to read to help us understand that event and the cultural history that led up to it. He picked Left to Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza.