Tag Archives: blogging

Make Everything Pretentious #1: Blood on the Dance Floor’s “Bewitched”

23 Aug

A college acquaintance of mine who falls into the social category of “I don’t know him extraordinarily well but it’s okay to comment on his fb posts if you can reasonably assume that he is posting something outrageous for the explicit reason that he wants people to comment ” (laugh, but I know you know what I mean) recently shared a link to a very strange music video.  And for this … thing (I’m not sure I’m comfortable calling it music again — the first time was iffy enough), outrageous might not be a strong enough adjective.

Take a watch.  And unless you can by some incredible feat of mental strength survive 4 minutes of inanity — in which case, my wide-brimmed Palm Springs summer hat is off to you, sir or madam, because I am not one of those people — I imagine that 30 seconds is about enough.

This is Blood on the Dance Floor’s “Bewitched.”

I think this merits our friend Liz Lemon saying, for all of us:

The strangest thing about this video (how do you disturb me? let me count the ways…) may be that these Blood on the Dance Floor, Lady Nogrady (no comment), and director Patrick Fogarty really tried.  I mean, they really tried.  They just threw in so many clichéd lyrics and such overwhelmingly hackneyed special effects that the end result was anything but bewitching.  More like a curse.

Unconnected as this may seem at first, the “Bewitched” video reminds me of nothing less than some of the academic articles I’ve been reading this summer to prepare for grad school in T-minus 8 days.  These authors (oh Saint Cassion of Imola! pray that I become not one of them in future days!), like Blood on the Dance Floor, are too concerned with being a part of “the scene” than producing quality work (the buzzwords, oh gods, the buzzwords!)

Which leads me to my latest project — Operation: Make Everything Pretentious!

What would happen if some scenester academic wrote a review of “Bewitched”?  Let’s take a whack at it!

From the Journal of New Media Academese

Beyond Heaven and Hormones: Romantic Attraction Reconsidered as Diabolical Eroticism

… thus, clearly, [the singer’s] repeated allusions to the supernatural are a challenge to modern scientific understandings of “love” as, in part, biologically determined, as well as rejecting the current culturally euphoric attitude surrounding romance by appealing to the more ambivalent connotations of sex in relation to the occult.

Notably, the female sex partner–described by the male singer as a “witch” holding him in thrall–holds the dominant position of power within the relationship, by means of her (albeit allegorical) allegorical theurgy, a descriptive characterization that serves to engender (pardon the pun) an incisive challenge to societal assumptions of heteronormativity, a not uncommon theme within the hermeneutics of artistic discourse.  And so in summation–

It’s totes obv.

Save this video for Valentine’s Day, folks.  Or maybe Halloween.

No one’s ever accused me of being “sweet” before

21 Aug

… so I guess this proves that there really is a first time for everything.  Imagine that.

Just as I was resigning myself to neglecting my little second-tier science fiction review blog as I (in contravention of the traditional American mythology) head East to find my fortune (because I’m still pretending that there’s fame and fortune involved in being a history grad student, if only for my parents’ sake), I find that a fellow blogger with the quite distinguished handle of Lord David Professor has nominated me for an award.

Because nothing says “meritorious” like long, syntactically-impenetrable sentences with lots of parenthetical digressions and hyphenated adjectives (see what I did there? (see what I did there?)).

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how this Internet award nomination chain thing works.  But from what I can gather from my gracious nominator’s own blog post, I have to answer some questions and make nominations of my own.

So, without further ado, proof that I am truly not worthy of

The Super Sweet Blogging Award

1. Cookies or Cake?

If my parents are to be believed, I had about half a dozen pacifiers when I was a toddler.  I slept with them in my crib.  One was my clear favorite–it had a twin, a “bippy” (as I called it) with an exact twin, same color, same non-Newtonian viscous rubber composition.  But they tasted different, and I could tell with one lick which was the preciousssss and which was a counterfeit.  One night my favorite bippy fell out of the crib and rolled under my sister’s dresser.  My mother says I cried and cried, and she tore the room apart to find it.  We were re-uinted, but in the interim I found I had a taste for my thumb.  I bit my nails to this day.

2. Chocolate or Vanilla?

All that thumb-sucking did something to my tooth growth patterns; when those glowing white baby teeth fell out, my mother saw with dismay that my “grown-up teeth” were a grotesquerie of fangs and overbite and overlapping ridges of enamel.  We have no pictures from that time.  I got braces young–age 10, fifth grade.  The orthodontist gave me headgear to wear at night.  I tried, I tried to wear it, but how can I be blamed for what happened in the middle of the night?  When I woke every morning, I found my headgear had been thrown across the room, to land under my sister’s dresser.  She still wears her retainer.

3. What is your favorite sweet treat?

They sent me to a special dentist once, an expert in root canals.  He was not our usual dentist, the sinister man who play golf with my father sometimes, when Jerry and Mike were unavailable.  He was, they said, the best.  I still had my braces.  These were the days of full metal bands around the molars, the days when fillings were metallic, when biting down on foil sent electric shocks down to the tips of your nail-bitten fingers.  The braces, they said, were moving my teeth (dramatic changes took drastic measures), and somehow that had created an abscess at the root.  Well that was bad, and the expert was supposed to fix it.  He told me: “Wave your left hand in the air if you feel any pain.”  Then he numbed me.  He touched my chin, and my cheek, and even my ear–I couldn’t feel anything, not even the pressure.  But when I began to drill he touched a nerve too, and I felt that.  My left arm jerked into the air, but he didn’t stop.  I called out incoherently, his hands in my mouth.  I bit his latexed hands.  “I felt that!” I said.  He looked at me strangely.  “No you didn’t,” he said.

4. When do you crave sweet things the most?

I drink my water room temperature, my hot chocolate lukewarm.  I’m told that in a root canal the dentist removes the nerve entirely, but if that’s true then I have a phantom nerve, and sometimes it twinges, and 12 years later I’m afraid to tell anyone.  I have insurance.  I don’t care.

5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?

Please, please … please don’t make me think about this anymore.  The pain– THE PAIN!

Thanks for the nomination, Lord David Professor!  I totes should win.

Anyway, in the grand tradition of chain mail and FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD subject lines, here are my nominations:

2. She’s reviews indie SF at a crazy rate, and does it more efficiently and more diligently than I ever did, and, most importantly, may or may not have a unibrow.  She’s Frida Fantastic of Adarna SF!

1. He’s a prolific author, a fellow Lostie, and sings non-religious songs about Christmas.  He also may or may not have a clone who also writes sci-fi and let me be a beta reader for a forthcoming book.  It’s … B.C. Young of The Time Capsule (and, on this blog, of Miscorrection fame)!

(I’m letting them know on their respective blogs right. this. second.)

To finish up, I’m pretty definitely completely sure that I did this totes wrong, but guess what?  It was fun!  Wow, all this sweet talk made me really hungry for some spaghetti.  Off to cook — everyone else can eat cake.

In Defense of Well-Read Internet Trolls*

10 May

I learned something yesterday: If you’re going to write a blog about as contentious and controversial a topic as the characterization of classic characters in American fiction (and do it with alliteration), you’ve really got to grow a thick skin.  Everyone has the right to disagree.  And that is something I will defend unto my last keystroke.  I, Isabela Morales, the Scattering’s sole author, do so swear.

See what I did there?  I used my name.  I did that because I personally believe that if I’m ashamed to put my John Hancock to something I publish, then it isn’t really worth publishing.  But hey, we can’t expect everyone to follow that rule.

Come now, does this look like the face of a “brutish faux intellectual” to you?

Anonymity is a valuable and important part of our online experience.  Why then do we, as a culture, tend to despise, denigrate, deride, and disdain people who post more-than-moderately critical comments without revealing their names?  I am here to say that I believe every would-be Internet troll has the right to write unnecessarily aggressive things about academic blog posts without inspiring offense on the part of the author.  Which is why I want to post this not-at-all-spiteful public letter of apology for forcing my objectionable prose on last night’s anonymous commenter.  You see–

In spring 2009 I was taking a course on American humor and satire at my now-alma mater the University of Alabama.  Every week, our professor assigned us brief writing assignments—analyzing either a chapter or character from the book we were reading as a class.  The essays from those classes that I’ve posted on the Scattering have consistently been some of my most popular for years now (maybe because they’re possibly the only useful things I’ve published here), and if anyone can explain why my paper on Mark Twain and religious satire has been translated into Spanish more than it’s been read in English, that would be kind of cool to know.

In any case—the last book we discussed that semester was Catch-22, the bleakly funny (anti-)war novel by Joseph Heller.  The short essay I posted from class was my comparison of leading man Yossarian and his glum number two, Dunbar.  I flatter myself that I provided a few good pieces of evidence to support my claim that Dunbar is Yossarian’s foil; and of course, like a good little college student, I used in-line parenthetical citations for all my quotes (this was before the history department converted me to CMOS).

This all seems like a very long time ago to me, but how easily we forget that the Internet is eternal: once on Google, always on Google.  And it would seem that someone found my little essay today and didn’t find it useful at all.  In fact, he/she seems kind of pissed off that it exists.  I hope, with this letter, written as a public post for completely non-self-indulgent reasons, I can assuage some of Anonymous’s worries.

Ahem.

Dear Anonymous,

I just wanted to let you know how very appreciative I am that you took the time to peruse my “ancient” blog posts until you found one worthy, or perhaps unworthy, as you would have it, of comment—and this especially because reading my character analysis of Dunbar in Catch-22 so clearly caused you great mental agitation and psychic pain.

As an avid reader myself, how acutely do I know the distress that comes when one is thrown into collision with unpalatable prose!  Please know that I extend to you my greatest admiration and, indeed, perhaps even awe, for setting yourself at the vanguard of the Internet’s blog writing style soldiery!  I don’t think that anyone who read the remarks you left on my post of 17 March 2009 could possibly imagine you as anything other but a white knight of wordpress—charging down the RSS feeds of book reviewers with the same courage and conviction that the chevaliers of old (dare I say, of olde?) charged down the jousting lists.

But because I fear that the weight of public opinion might come down against someone who hands down breathtaking accusations and criticism under the name “Anonymous,” I have decided to publish your comments more broadly—for the sake of showing every one of my readers just how much I care what they think about my writing style.

Despite this article being ancient, the following bothers me and so i’ll comment here. I hope you have relaxed your prose by now, but I’m not going to put myself out verifying.

“second only to Yossarian as a character introduced in the book” – this is annoying. Stop trying to sound pretentious when you simply mean “the second character introduced in the book.”

It doesn’t work and is appalling. Had several complaints leading up to this point, but after this sentence I stopped reading.

That being said, it’s your prerogative to write as you will. You simply come off brutish in your faux intellectualism.

Cheers

Me being pretentious in front of a picture of UA’s founding librarian, my role model in all things, including 19th-century prose.

Anonymous, I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to put yourself out verifying whether or not I have relaxed my prose by reading any more recent posts, considering how dreadfully my writing style irks you.  In fact, I must now regretfully inform you that my prose, if anything, has only grown more contrived, affected, and overblown in the last two years.  And now that I will be entering a doctoral program in history next fall, I can only sigh and resign myself to the fact that I will doubtless be swept away by the currents of stilted academic prose by the time I’m through.

Alas!  Alack!  I should probably leave it at that, to spare you any more agony, but there’s just one thing–

I wonder how you found this post to begin with?  Were you searching for essays about Catch-22 online?  Because if that’s the case, I would trouble you just one more time to ask whether the actual substance of the essay had any bearing on your research.  I hate to think that my grandiloquent diction is getting in the way of my ideas.

Oh, and if I can keep your attention for another moment (and I only make this extended reply because your browser history certainly does not include the search “cliffnotes catch 22”), I’d like to say something about that particular line that you quoted:

Educated people like you and me have probably come across the literary technique of “parallelism” before—you know, constructing your writing in such a way that the grammar of one phrase, say, echoes an earlier sentence.  That’s what I was going for what I started my sentence with “Second only to Yossarian in alleged insanity, Dunbar…” and ended it with “… is also second only to Yossarian as a character introduced in the book.”

Clearly, I failed in that.  Oh well, we all try these things when we’re young, don’t we?

And last of all—hopefully I haven’t taken up too much more of your time or left the taste of poor diction in your mouth, giving you that fuzzy feeling on your tongue that comes when you go to sleep without brushing—I’d like to say a few words about your word choice.

You are indeed a master wit!  I don’t think I’d ever be clever enough to call a complete stranger “pretentious” while myself using terms like brutish and faux intellectualism.  I can only surmise that you wanted to use satire to comment on an analysis of satire.

Which is why I love you, Anonymous.  And how I do love you for this.

Cheers! —IM

* If you can make it through my stilted prose and pretensions to some modicum of literacy, this, Dear Anonymous, is what we faux intellectuals like to call “satire.”  Or perhaps it’s just what my mom likes to call “passive aggressive.”  Why don’t you let me know.

WWJAT: What Would Jane Austen Think?

4 May

I was intrigued when Hank Green of Vlogbrothers fame announced last month that he was writing/producing a youtube series based on that most popular of all public domain novels: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

It’s an interesting idea — setting the story in the modern day, changing some names around (from Mr. Bingley to Bing Lee the med student), and making Elizabeth Bennett a communications student vlogging about her life (and, of course, the marriage schemes of her Southern Belle mother).

It’s not like we haven’t seen plenty of adaptations.  The movies, the fanfiction-esque spin-off series of books, the zombie apocalypse version by the author of soon-to-be-film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (clearly, some of these adaptations have been truer to the book than others).

About this “The Lizzie Bennett Diaries,” however, I have mixed feelings.

The youtube series is cleverly written and entertaining.  The actress who plays our heroine is gives us a great sense of the original Elizabeth Bennett’s rebellious (and occasionally sullen) streak; Lydia’s s preening flirt (a coquette, as Austen would have said); and Jane is sickly sweet.  In terms of characterization, all is well with the world.

Nevertheless, Jane Austen’s novel wasn’t chick lit or paperback romance.  The emphasis on marriage, expectations of women in 19th-century England, and class dynamics in a stratified, straight-laced society made Pride and Prejudice a pointed social commentary.  As of the latest episode, I’m not sure that Hank Green’s version has that yet.

Still, it’s worth the watch: check it out on youtube and decide for yourselves whether anything has been lost in translation.  I’d love to hear what y’all think (and I say that completely non-sarcastically).

50 Watts: Book Illustration Blog for the “Hyper-Literate”

30 Apr

Today I was introduced to a wonderful blog via twitter (apparently it is good for something) — 50 Watts, succinctly described in 140 characters as:

Books / illustration / design. Mostly related to collections and blogs of bibliomaniac Will Schofield.

I’m supposed to be studying for finals (ha. ha. ha.), but for the last hour I’ve been scrolling through 50 Watts’s staggering collection of bookplates and other bizarre illustrations.  It’s certainly a blog that, as the About page will tell you, caters to “that hyper-literate relative you plan to have committed.”

I am that relative.  I suppose most of you are too.

Here are some of my favorites:

"Chimpanzee, holding in one foot a caliper, sits on a pile of books contemplating a human skull;. On one book spine: 'Darwin'; on an open book: 'Eritis sicut deus' (You will be as a god)." Circa 1900.

"Ruth Marten, Une semaine de bonté"
If you read my previous post, THIS, friends, is what John Smith looked like.

"Rafael Barradas for Las aventuras del diablo by Juan Buj (1916)."
Apparently the devil gives people allergies? And flowers are the work of Satan? This must be why Claritin's behind the counter now: For Sinners Only.

How To: Drop Off the Face of the Earth (and come back again)

17 Feb

Hey folks, just wanted to check in and let everyone (all 4 or 5 of you) know that I haven’t died, or worse, given up the Internet because I got religion in a really big, really Luddite way.  I have, in fact, been writing my senior thesis here at the good old University of Alabama, and applying to graduate programs, and generally stressing out about both.  BUT!  I have good news:

1. Good news for me: I’m going to grad school.  Can’t say where yet, but it’s happened, and soon I’ll be saying things like “why, that calls for a mention of reductio ad absurdum…” or “it’s Dr. Morales to you.”  In any case, nobody cares.

2. Good news for the blog: I haven’t stopped reading or reviewing, and while grad school might put me out of commission again, I have a few months of grace period between now and then, so I may have some more regular updates.

In any case, I have been writing more conventional (ie. not indie) reviews for the campus paper.  I’m including the link to my byline and such right here: http://cw.ua.edu/author/isabela-morales/ 

I’ll be re-posting those as well, and they include such titles as:

The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides (they made me write it for Valentine’s Day)

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel (I made them let me do Thomas Cromwell)

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (read it before the movie comes out, you hipsters, or you never will out of pride, I know it!)

Oh, and also look for more television reviews coming up.  I watch so much tv, you see, so so much.

3 (Way Cooler) Alternate Explanations for Grant Cochran’s Resignation

24 Sep

Facebook and Twitter were on fire when I woke up today, after the University of Alabama’s campus paper the Crimson-White broke the shocking, shocking, oh so shocking news that UA’s SGA president, Grant Cochran, has resigned.

Wait… what?

UA students are weaned on ghost stories of “The Machine,” the shadowy Greek organization that supposedly holds the Student Government Association in the palm of its hand, rigging elections and keeping independents from winning major offices.  A nobody like me, for example, can be appointed Ambassador to the Libraries probably only because nobody else applied.  I’m so bottom-tier, I get left off email lists.

Which means I really don’t know what I’m talking about.  BUT, I do think that if something this dramatic had to happen, it should at least be for reasons less mundane than what the CW reported at 3:27 am–that “SGA President Grant Cochran has resigned amid allegations that irregularities occurred in the selections process for the SGA’s First Year Council, a freshman leadership forum within the student government.”

Come on people–booted from office because of freshmen?  How terribly banal.  In the interest of totally unfounded conspiracy theories, here are my 3 Way More Interesting Explanations for El Presidente’s Resignation:

1. The Illuminati

Everyone knows that Alabama’s practically the buckle on the Bible belt.  The shiny, happy, hymn-singing buckle.  But what you probably don’t know is that the Illuminati have a strong presence in campus affairs as well.

That’s right.  Albino, self-flagellating monks a la DaVinci Code forced UA’s SGA President to resign.  Probably, they pressured him into putting their Catholic First-Year Council applicants at the top of the list, thus furthering their hegemonic control over campus politics.  I would suggest the Homecoming Queen watch out.  She’s next.

2. British Alien Malleteers

No list of conspiracy theories could possibly hope to be complete without positing something, anything, about extraterrestrial life.  But I don’t mean just any aliens.  I mean a creature like that British sci-fi show alien Doctor Who.  There’s a reason so many Malleteers walk s0 jauntily around campus in their TARDIS shirts–and it’s not just because they’re fans of the show.  That would be lame.

It’s because they know it’s based in reality, and that the Day of Judgment has come.

I’ve been doing some close reading of the Mallet gospel, that mystical piece of 1970s literature called “The Book of Marvin.”  Let’s look at Chapter One:

3. And the Priests raised their voices in a great wail, saying, “O Mallet, why hast Thou abandoned us? Where be the Strength of Mallet, which saveth the seat of Power, which dismayeth the Greek, which shunneth the way of conformity, which maketh us to be honored above all Men?”

5. And Mallet said, “Yea, my Priests do suffer grievous pain, at the hand of the Greek and the cockroach, of the administrator and the Department of Health.”

6.”Lo, I shall send down a new Spirit, who shall have all Power over the enemies of the Priests of the Spirit Mallet; and he shall be called Marvin.”

7. “And He shall have dominion over the fowl of the air and the beast of the field, and the Greek and the jock shall He lay low; then will the Priests of the Spirit Mallet be honored above all Men.”

Obv, that speaks for itself.  The writers of the Book of Marvin propesied THIS VERY DAY.  The Greek has been laid low–at the hands of a spirit “sent down” from space.  A spirit named Marvin.

Naturally, keeping people from seeing the connection between Marvin and the popular tv series based on his spacetime adventures, is why we talk about Doctor Who instead of the true name, Doctor Marvin.

3. Vampire Takeover

It seems curious to me that this news story was released at 3:27 am… until I considered who exactly was doing the releasing.  Quite clearly, vampires–strictly nocturnal, remember–have taken over the campus media.  If you recall, earlier in the year the CW ran a large number of articles and opinion pieces on the policies (or lack thereof) regarding student organization seating.  The point of all this was doubtless an attempt to distract from the real drama going down this football season:

Vampire attacks.

If students could be kept riled up over the unfairness of block seating, letters to the editor about blood-sucking monsters attacking fans could be kept out of the papers.  Those people you see passed-out drunk tailgating might not be drunk after all.  They might be half drained of blood, struggling for life and their humanity as hundreds of mindless students and alumni carouse all around them.

Hey, why do you think we call it the Crimson Tide?

5 Probably Horrible Science Fiction Plots I Dreamed Up This Year

23 Sep

So, there are a couple important reasons I’m studying history instead of, say, creative writing:

Cite your sources or die!

One: The stories practically write themselves.

Two: The characters are usually more interesting.

And three: I’m a wizard with footnotes.

But there’s always been a part of me deep down inside that wanted to write fiction, yearning to go all crazy second-person, present-tense, steam-of-consciousness on readers’ asses.  (Actually, in the first major original research I did for history a couple years ago, I did try to write the intro in the present tense.  My professor sighed sympathetically and simply said: “I tried doing things like that when I was starting out too.”)  I’m cured of that delusion now, but sometimes, on the dark, stormy nights of REM cycles, my subconscious rebels.

I’ve been writing down my dreams almost every night since fifth grade.  That’s… 12 years now.  Which is kind of messed-up in itself.  BUT, it also means I have a fantastic record of what I’d write if I weren’t sane.  Personally, I think they’d be awesome.

NOTE: These are actual excerpts from my current dream journal.  Otherwise known as Volume 23.

1. “Prepare to Suffer”  (Nov. 14, 2010)

Abe Lincoln says to the boy, as the kid puts on his floppy straw hat, long beige canvas-like coat, and picks up his staff in preparation for his journey—“Prepare to suffer.”  Lincoln has taken this trip before, and I think to myself, If I didn’t know better I’d say Lincoln’s read some Nietchze.  I am going on the journey then, and there’s a copy of a hardcover book (an old book with a spine that’s not very sturdy anymore) which says something to that effect.

Lincoln takes us to this man/prisoner being interrogated in a room.  His name is “Nikator.”  He’s calm and nonchalant, and tells one of the men in there (there are a number of FBI agents) that he could kill him and escape if they were alone—and says all of this with a smile and a laugh.

I have to leave because I’m an actress who gets these bit parts in some murder mystery show, where I’m stabbed with a sword in an elevator.  Of course it’s fake, but I still dread the part when it plunges in and then comes out the back, because I feel the pressure.  Then I fall over backward and the point coming out my back balances me above the ground.

Afterward, I realize that there’s a flap of skin missing on my stomach, and my intestines dangle out a bit.  I hold them in as I look for the doctor, who isn’t wearing pants and has an unbuttoned short-sleeve pint shirt in lavender and blue.  He’s been drinking, and doesn’t want to sew me up.

NOTE: I envision this as an alternate history sort of psychological thriller, with a lot of gnostic philosophy between chapters.  Kind of like a cross between Philip K. Dick and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

2. “Diarfa eb ton od, alebasi.”

Pronounced: “DARE-fuh eeb ton ood, al-EB-uh-zih.”

NOTE: Backwards, this reads “Isabela, do not be afraid.”  Obviously it would be incorporated into my novel as a not-that-cryptic-at-all message from the heroine’s (obviously Isabela’s) historical doppelganger Rose Hawthorne (daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne), who keeps appearing to our heroine in vivid mystical visions.  Not that this has actually happened.  But compare pictures of us as children, and you’ll totally see what I mean:

Spooky.

3. F8

On vacation somewhere with mom and [my sisters], and we’d been there previously.  I find things I left for myself: like hints in a live-action game of Clue we played, only this time it was really serious.  I pass this little hill of rocks and bricks and sticks I’d been working on the year before, painting them blue to mark for future-me to find.

There are directions above an arch like a doorway without a door or walls outside.  It says to go over the “Giants’ Path,” and then a certain number of steps past a nail on a post, or sthng.  I go the direction indicated, through some trees, barefoot, and hit a pitch black lake.  [My sister and cousin] are with me—I ask her: How do we get across this?  We walk, she says.  But I’m up to my neck quickly.  She is out far into the middle really quickly, but I try and gesture to her—it’s near the shore, to the right, submerged in the water at this end: the Giants’ Path.  We go over a great royal blue plank bridge I’d forgotten was there.

Across the bridge is a house, very old, that’s like a library.  There are scrapbooked pages propped on a dresser, news clippings on pink and yellow floral paper.  The pictures from the newspapers, however, are of King Henry VII ordering the execution of someone.  This is the answer to a mystery, I realize.  And the picture shows Henry looking at the camera with his tongue stuck out, like that famous picture of Einstein.  I realize Einstein must’ve been photoshopped from this one.

The message above the arch had given a jumbled code starting F8.  I immediately knew this was Library of Congress cataloguing code.  The books are numbered so in the house, but the F8 one indicated isn’t useful.  On my last trip there, I hadn’t found the newspapers.  In the piano bench, though, I do find my sister’s Level 2 Spanish book—which she hasn’t done, even though now she has Level 3.

NOTE: I’m sure you already realize where this is going, but it seems obvious to me that the house at the end of the Giants’ Path will be my portal to Narnia, where I’ll either find religion or else go all Golden Compass and kill God.  I’ll ask my editors what they think.  A major subplot, of course, will be my decision to get a Masters in Library and Information Sciences.

4. The Traveling History Circus (that’s my title of choice)

Penta is a young girl with short blonde hair and a small braid on the right side; talking to her grandmother Penta, about the little green bugs that used to live on flowers, aphids, and the yellow stems coming out of the center of the petals covered in pollen.  Penta is also the name of the place where they live, now completely submerged in water, so they’re amphibious people.  They are a people of oral history, and every year they send two children to a workshop.  Penta is one of them; she leaves at night, choosing the steepest and fastest of three paths up the mountain.

Its purpose is to seek out the talented young of these people and turn them into mobile historians—visiting other places and telling the stories of their culture.  This was one of the projects instituted by the new king of one region, whose power extends to influence over others nearby.  The king is bearded and made this announcement over a dam that was being worked on and should be ready “in two weeks” (which wasn’t true—it’s more like a month or more).  They are all water creatures, and Penta’s people live completely underwater.  One man came to the dam—he was a charcoal-gray color over his whole body and the narrator says: He was pale and wouldn’t have been noticed (in the water).

Penta is already unique, though few seem to realize it yet—she “remembered” aphids and pollen, wven though she’d never seen or heard of them before.  It was a sort of psychic collective unconscious.  Her grandmother, blind, sitting under a tree, had listened with a sense of wonder.

NOTE: This is one of those classic “coming of age stories,” with an Asimovian The Gods Themselves kind of twist regarding the lives of the alien people of Penta.  Naturally, there will be an incredibly complex background mythology, and the historians will ultimately foment rebellion across the countryside against the bureaucratic king.  Because that’s what historians do, am I right guys?  Shoot, I really need to think about what I’m posting… I’m applying to grad school this semester…

5. Terson Bragg

NOTE: Prepare for it.  This one’s seriously meta.

I suddenly remember that long time ago, I wrote a science fiction novel (unpublished) in which the hero was a man called Terson Bragg, who became a machine.  I have forgotten this book until recently.

Now, the technology is available to place human consciousness into a machine—I am to be the second to do it; My uncle was first.  The thing is that, for two seconds, the mind is placed in a machine way out in space, one of those out by the asteroid belt and Saturn, taking pictures.  So, this transfer can be done at a great distance.  And for two seconds, a person’s mind will be there, seeing what the machine sees, and all the vastness of space.  Uncle John says it was beautiful, so great and awe-some.  I am nervous, and worry that the two seconds will seem like such a long time, like a lifetime (Uncle John said it felt longer than seconds), and that I’ll be blinded by all the stars and celestial bodies.  But I know it is an opportunity I cannot miss.

I go to the front desk—the reception room all chrome and glass—of the company where this will take place.  I am holding my kindle, which is circular and about the diameter of the inner circle of our large Frisbee.  The woman at the desk uses that to ascertain my identity, but says that next time I should bring the proper paperwork [it had a name—sounds like ubiquitous], which looked like dark blue-green x-rays.  All the time I am frightened, like on the way up to the first drop of a rollercoaster, thinking all the time that I want to get off but knowing I can’t, and knowing I had to take this opportunity.

I return home.

Mom and my sisters and Uncle John and everyone ask me how it was, but I find—I can’t remember.  I literally can’t remember, and Mom suggests—maybe I didn’t do it after all.  Maybe I backed out.  But I don’t remember doing that either, and I know, I couldn’t have.  I was frightened, but determined.  I try so hard to remember, but I can’t.  I can’t.  And then they suggest—well, do you remember it four years ago?  Because four years ago I wrote the Terson Bragg book, and this robotic-mind technology is analogous—and perhaps when I shifted consciousness back the memories went to the place they thought they should be.  And I was panicked and said no, no, but I do have an image of space from a rotating spot, black but bright with a golden light, with stars and colors everywhere.  And beautiful.

Then the future.  The world has strange collapsing tendencies, and people sometimes float down from buildings I see on the empty streets.

FINAL NOTE: Besides the fact that the science is off, I kind of think I wrote that one pretty well, even half-asleep at my computer, probably not wearing my glasses.  And besides, when did iffy science ever stop science fiction writers?  And Terson Bragg is a badass character name.

Gangster Thomas Cromwell #historymajorlife

3 Sep

So!

A friend of mine recently introduced me to the awesome tumblr of history major memes: Fuck Yeah, History Major Heraldic Beast.  Just figured I’d share one of my own creation:

T-Crom grew up on the wrong side of Putney, yo.  He ain’t never been nothin’ but a gangsta.

***

Earlier this summer I reluctantly sent out a mass email to some great indie authors, telling them that I’d be scaling back my science fiction reviews for the simple reason that HISTORY HAS TAKEN OVER MY LIFE.  And it’s true.  Grad school apps are looming oppressively, the senior thesis is infiltrating my dreams, and the sheer amount of reading for classes is almost more than my nearsighted eyes can handle.  But I miss the blog, so I’m saying to hell with niche audiences–I’m going to write about indie science fiction, and mainstream science fiction, and all sorts of history major things that nobody wants to hear about purely because I can and I want to.

Updates from a Horrible Review Blogger

17 Jul

Okay, so you know how whenever I post a review calendar I write something like this?

The reviewer reserves the right to be dishonest, off-task, irresponsible, untrustworthy, unscrupulous, untruthful, mendacious, perfidious, snarky and sarcastic at any time.

While I always intended that in itself to be nothing but superfluous snark, the last few months of nonexistent updates (when I was supposed to be reviewing, like, a dozen deserving novels) have proven that I really am unreliable, irresponsible, faithless and inconstant.  And because I am so terribly devoid of integrity, I’m going to tell you who’s to blame.

You.

You are to blame, you smart, funny, creative indie authors who send such nice messages requesting reviews.  You with your clever blurbs and quips.  You who get me all excited about new fiction to read until I can’t help but agree to review every single book that passes through my gmail.  It was fun while it lasted, but it can’t go on forever.  Because I think I just explained really well why it’s not me: it’s you.

Anyway, to make a sob story short, I let things get out of hand. By May, I was booked up into March of 2012, leading to delays that piled up into uber-delays, leading to me hiding from my blog because I  didn’t know how to catch up.  Reviewing had gotten more stressful than fun, which is a bad thing, considering the only reason I started doing it was for recreational purposes.  And considering that in March of 2012 I’ll be preparing to start a doctoral program in history, that sort of stress is not going to work.

So ignore the review calendar I posted for 2011/2012.  I’m cleaning house.  And because it’s all your fault for being smart and funny and creative, I had to dump a number of indie authors’ books.  This is the new the Scattering, and guess what?  It’s going to be fun again!

For me, anyway.

Check the About page for new submission standards.

Here’s what I’m still reviewing off the old list:

Heroes Die Young, by T. M. Hunter

Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum, by Stephen Prosapio

Shard Mountain, by Joe Mitchell

Outies, by Jennifer Pournelle

Encrypted, by Lindsay Buroker

Exchange, by Dale Cozort

Welcome to Gehenna, by Darren Scothern

Take the All-Mart, by J. L. Greco

Two-Fisted Tweets, by James Hutchings

The Valkyrie Project, by Nels Wadycki

Gods and Galaxies, by Aaron Smith

Keepers of the Rose, by D. J. Dalasta

Reich TV, by Jeff Pearce

Peace Army, by Steven L. Hawk

Deja Vu, by Ian Hocking

Stockholm, by Kian Kaul