Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Dream -- An Attempt at Poe-esque Narrative

My 14-year-old self hopes you will forgive the emulation of the more stereotypical aspects of Mr E A Poe's style.

Of course, one way to prevent this problem is to not get drunk!  Worth a bemused notice is the way the narrative trails off, signifying the overwhelming approach of sleep ... which bodes ill for our bathetic narrator.

'Tis a bit of an imaginative stretch to imagine that a typed manuscript could taper off its story in such fashin.  Pray tell, if the typer had fallen into the arms of Hypnos, who then removed the paper and collated the pages, presenting them to the reader?

Nonetheless, Is it any less patently unbelievable to imagine that a typed MS could taper off in such a manner, than to accept such a practise in the set type of a volume of eldritch prose penned by the Dreamer of Arkham?

This enjoyable communion of minds shall resume on Monday.  Return hence, ye!


Friday, October 02, 2015

1970s Paper Ephemera, 1

On Fridays this Blog-O-Ween, we're going to look at some Halloween decorations from the 1970s that have been in my family since .. well, the 1970s.

Here we have a Frankenstein Monster that's obviously based on Glenn Strange's portrayal of the monster.  Of course, It wasn't until long after adulthood that I made the mental connection between the Monster of  Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein and Sam, the bartender at the Long Branch Saloon, in Gunsmoke

This scarecrow-and-moon is one of those non-threatening images that can be interpreted as Harvest, Fall, or Thanksgiving, as well as The Real Thing.

The non-specificity was probably an asset in the era of devil-fearing that engulfed my twentieth decade.  To me it's always been pretty pathetic for a team member to focus more on fear of the opposite team captain, than emulation of your own leader!

Halloween isn't "from the devil" any more than Big Band music or Survivor.  But it can be more fun than either one!

See you tomorrow with some of my teenage attempts at scary-story writing.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

MA-77 - Monsters on Parade

            This year’s anthology of music for the Hallowe’en season features those lovable misfits … MONSTERS!  Our cover art features a line-up of many favorites.  The majority of the critters’ images came from various online coloring-book pages.
            However, the Leader of this Pack holds a special place in my heart and memory.  Yeah, that pile of garbage in the bottom right corner.  That isn’t just ANY pile of garbage, It’s The Heap!
            The Heap was featured in Mad #5, back when it was a full-color comic book.  The story, “Outer Sanctum!”, was written by Harvey Kurtzman, with art by the ever-lovin’ Bill Elder.  It’s as much a parody of EC horror comics as it is of the anthology radio show “The Inner Sanctum.”  Look up the entire story of “The Heap!” from its various (probably illegal) postings online.
            My encounter with Heap came about because my big brother had a copy of the 1959 Signet paperback The Bedside Mad.   “Outer Sanctum!” is the first story therein.  So thanks again to my big brother Robert for this part of my joyfully corrupted childhood.
            As an added bonus feature, the “I smell something stinky”-faced moon -- in the sky in the CD cover art --  is ALSO from this classic Mad tale of science gone wrong.

            Back to the present compilation.  Here’s our musical line-up:

01. The Monster Attacks (from "Creature from the Black Lagoon") Dick Jacobs and His Orchestra - Bob McFadden, narrator (2:29)
02. Big Foot - Googie Rene (2:33)
03. King Kong - Tarantula Ghoul and Her Gravediggers (2:13)
04. Gwendolyn and the Werewolf - Hutch Davie and His Honky Tonkers (1:56)
05. Dracula - The Zane Brothers (3:02)
06. Dr  Jekyll and Mr  Hyde - The Who (2:38)
07. Don't Meet Mr  Frankenstein - Carlos Casal, Jr (2:16)
08. Monsters Are Coming - Jonathon Roberts (1:38)
09. (I Was a) Teenage Creature - Lord Luther and The Kingsmen (2:46)
10. Skunk Ape - Donny Lee (3:24)
11. My Mummy - Mel Cavin and the Kokonuts (2:28)
12. Dracula's Daughter - The Woggles (2:06)
13. Abominable Snow Creature - The Corillions (2:48)
14. Monster Meet - The Creed Taylor Orchestra (1:51)
15. Frankenstein of '59 - Buchanan and Goodman (2:31)
16. Frankenstein Returns, Pt  2 - Buchanan and Goodman (1:02)
17. Vampire Girl - Jonathan Richman (3:33)
18. Were Wolf - Carl Bonafede and The Gem-Tones (2:11)
19. Monsters Rule OK - The Viewers (2:47)
20. Gila Monster - Joe Johnson (1:40)
21. Monsters Lead Such Interesting Lives - Mel Tormé (1:28)
22. Frankenstein Walk -  Gene "Bowlegs" Miller (2:25)
23. The Monster - A Pair of Kings (1:51)
24. King Kong - Albert Elias (2:25)
25. Curse of the Mummy's Tomb - The Coffinshakers (1:52)
26. Monster Hash - The Toyes (3:20)
27. Bigfoot - Don Jones (2:35)
28. Date With a Vampyre - The Screaming Tribesmen (3:47)
29. Creature of the Black Lagoon - Lord Melody (3:07)
30. Monster Shindig - Danny Hutton (1:57)
31. Bride Of Frankenstein - The Squalls (3:04)
32. Igor's Party - Tony and The Monstrosities (2:24)

If you’re familiar with some (or all) of these songs, forgive an old ghoul’s inability to dig up some fresh meat.  Look upon the selections as old friends … who came back from the dead … and smell like it ….

Join the parade!

Now that you know the way, don’t be a stranger!

 See you here every Monday and Thursday for silly, scary stuff all during Spooky Spock-Tober!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Farmer's River of Eternity and Riverworld

I’ve always enjoyed Philip José Farmer’s Riverworld tales.  It’s one of those big concepts that’s also full of clashing, introspective characters, with the added bonus that some of these folks are recognizable from history.

In a nutshell:  Everybody who ever lived on Earth is resurrected bodily at the physical age of twenty-five, along the banks of a river which has apparently been terraformed to surround an entire planet.  People from all societies and times of Earth life are mixed up; material wants are provided by a matter-transmuting bucket strapped to each person and “magically” refilled several times a day.  And, if you die or are killed, you wake up the next day, hale and hearty somewhere else along the river.

The series follows several movers and shakers of history as they try to figure out their circumstances, and then try to ascertain why and how this all happened in the first place.  Since the characters are intended as a crosscut slice of humanity, knaves and saints clash, along with the majority who are in between.

I came across the first book, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, in 1979.  The next time I read it will make a dozen times.

A few years ago I was able to buy a copy of River of Eternity, which was published in 1983.  This is one of the two first printings, from Phantasia Press.  One set was boxed, numbered, and autographed.  The other version of this “First edition” is a typical hardback.  My copy is an ex-library copy of the more widely distributed version.

By the way, none of the websites that mention the book seem to show the entire wraparound jacket art by John Pound, so here it is:

(Generally speaking, this cover art, with its scenes of impending rape and present torture,  is not dissimilar to a lot of thud-and-blunder tales.)

In the Author’s Introduction, Farmer tells a little about the genesis of the Riverworld concept, and explains how this version, River of Eternity, is probably the earliest version extant.  This 205-page story takes us to the end of the River and explains all (sort-of), in a manner amplified and extended in the book series.

When I read River of Eternity for the third time in September 2015, I noticed a couple of amusing ( or bemusing) things.

But first, a detour!  (Did you expect any less from my twisted psyche?)

I was visiting longtime friend Larry Nemecek, in fall of 1987 for a Star Trek: The Next Generation season premiere party, and we had to make an ice run.  I rode in the car with Larry and his roommate Cody.  On the car tape deck was the soundtrack album to the movie The Atomic Cafe.  Hearing this music inspired me to find a copy of the soundtrack myself, which I encountered at a Salvation Army Thrift Store.

Now, the opening cut of the album is "Atom and Evil" by The Golden Gate Quartet.  This is simply a dynamite song.  So, when I came across a CD compilation from the group, entitled Swing Down, Chariot, I snapped it up.  This album contains 20 songs, one of which is as different performance of “Atom and Evil” than included in the Atomic Cafe album.

 Perhaps my favorite song of all is Track 2, “No Restricted Signs,” because it joyfully spells out the truth that the Lord doesn’t care what color you are, if you love and serve him (by serving the people around you, here on Earth).

This site has the song’s complete lyrics.  But pertinent to our narrative (FINALLY! you say) is the chorus;
“There are no restricted signs up in Heaven,
There’s no selected clientele.”

  Now, What do you suppose I came across on page 97 of River of Eternity?  Why, I would maintain that here we have proof that Farmer was also a fan of the Golden Gate Quartet!  While narrating the life of a background character, the character comes to the conclusion that “if this was Heaven, it had no selected clientele.”

Now, that phrase can’t be a coincidence!

While we’re on this page, look at the top page header.  That’s right, the title of the book:

That’s right, on every odd-numbered page of this printing, the name of the book is misspelled River of Eterntiy.

This goes to prove one of my observations, that sometimes big mistakes get ignored more easily than small ones.  When you come across a newspaper with a big honking typo in the headline, that’s this principle at work.  We gloss over the big stuff, looking for “little” mistakes.

I’m sure there are plenty of those in the work I crank out!

See you next time, on Thursday, for the first instalment of Blog-O-Ween!

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© by Mark Alfred