Archive | October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Go forth and scare the bejesus out of children.

Arthur Machen’s “The White People”

While drinking my beer in an empty bar this weekend I read Arthur Machen’s “The White People”. That’s a creepy book. CREEPY. Once you get past the standard Machen frame of two Victorian weirdoes talking about “evil” and get into the found manuscript, the story gets weird.

Very, very weird.

That part, The Green Book, is written by a girl remembering her encounter with “the White People”. (And yes, haha, I get it, funny funny, but even that joke might make for an interesting postcolonial story riffing on this story.) Who or what the White People are is left confused. Maybe they’re fairies, maybe they’re Roman statues hidden away in the English woods, or maybe they’re her nurse and others using/abusing the girl. You don’t know, and the girl isn’t specific. But something happened, and, what’s more unsettling, the girl is in collusion with it. She’s not a passive victim, nor a dupe, but a willing victim, working with these unknown forces, and you’re swept along by her rambling, run-on narrative, and lost within it.

All these are most secret secrets, and I am glad when I remember what they are, and how many wonderful languages I know, but there are some things that I call the secrets of the secrets of the secrets that I dare not think of unless I am quite alone, and then I shut my eyes, and put my hands over them and whisper the word, and the Alala comes. I only do this at night in my room or in certain woods that I know, but I must not describe them, as they are secret woods. Then there are the ceremonies, which are all of them important, but some are more delightful than others–

It’s a disturbing little story no matter how you read it. You can see it as mundane sinister (the nurse “corrupting” the girl) or as supernatural sinister. Either way it’s well worth a Halloween read.

5 For Friday

– My students have been pestering me for candy and it’s not even Halloween yet. I’ll likely make some blood and guts Samhain Neopagan powerpoint illustrated with Large Marge animated gifs (… or something) for Monday and we’ll make origami pumpkins (… or something). Chance of mayhem? High.

– Speaking of classroom mayhem, I had a dream Johnny Cash was in my class. He sat in the back, wore black, and was a shitty student, making fun of every word I said.

– Why’s it that when someone tells you a ghost story it’s always a rambly twitchy guy? I suspect it’s for the same reason my cousin who saw the banshee also saw snakes crawl out of his TV during an attack of the DTs.

– I started reading The Last Wish, the first of Andrezj Sapkowski’s Witcher novels. It’s more a collection of loosely framed short stories than an actual novel. My wife loves them and has wanted me to read them. This one works as a sword & sorcery Spaghetti Western with the occasional twisted fairy tale added into the mix. He just killed Snow White (after sleeping with her, of course).

– We have a home scanner now so I’m likely to make a heavily illustrated post about Andy-si.

I Went Hiking Again

I’ll spare everyone the stories of bus karaoke. Let’s just say I have new found fear of some of my coworkers. This hike was part of a school trip where all the teachers rent a bus and have “fun” together. “Fun” meaning hiking, meaning walking up a mountain and down again and then eating so much food as to be near to bursting.

That’s “fun”.

Anyway, we went to Mungyeong and walked through the mountain gates would-be Confucian scholars would have to pass through when on their way to Seoul to take their civil service exams. The whole area makes much of its pre-20th century Korean history, which isn’t surprising considering its 20th century history might not be so cool.

Help Me, Ken Watanabe. You’re My Only Hope.

I still get stressed out whenever I have to get my haircut.

Last year I made the mistake of going to one of my student’s mom’s place to get my haircut. This was a bad idea. The woman’s “face” ended up being on the line, so basically she cut two hairs, fled across the room, made me some coffee, and then ushered me out. After that I stuck with the woman who kept the place beside the headstone seller. She was not related to any of my students and didn’t have to worry about what might happen if *gasp* the English teacher got a bad haircut.

The guy I go to now looks a bit like Rick Hunter from Robotech except with glasses.

I start panicking when he hands me the “Style Book”. The book’s full of handsome guys like this:

Hmmm. Maybe next time I'll ask for the Tony Leung.

And, when I need a haircut, I sort of look like this:

But I’ve figured out a method now. So when Rick hand’s me the book I pretty much flip through it and find the picture of Ken Watanabe. This is my go-to haircut at the moment. It’s not bad and as it grows out it becomes like two other decent haircuts.

Though I’m still lazy as shit about getting my haircut regularly and spend far longer looking like Robert Donner than any guy really should.

Oh, Look. Pretty.

Hand-colored Lumiere Brothers film from 1896 of Loie Fuller dancing with (modern) music by Raph Regan.

Things I Learned From Watching Public School Musicals All Day

  • Save the planet by remembering the three Rs: R-something, R-something, and Recycle!
  • Never give up on your dreams even when your father beats you.
  • Husbands wouldn’t kill themselves if their wives cooked for them more often.
  • Don’t be a jerkface especially if you’re Cinderella.
  • People listen to reason. It’s really quite simple. Like this:

Villain: I’m going to do this evil thing.

Hero: Don’t do that evil thing. It’s bad and will hurt people.

Villain: Oh, you’re right. How foolish of me. Let’s sing and dance together instead!

  • Everyone loves kids with nunchucks!

Everything I Know About Science Fiction I Learned From Reading Comics


I’m having a weird fit of nostalgia. Most specifically for late Bronze Age Space Opera/Post-Apocalyptic comics. Off the top of my head I can remember reading:

1. Dreadstar (My dad read this comic and didn’t want my brother and I to know.)
2. Atari Force
3. Scout (going to put Dragon Chang here too.)
4. The Marvel Star Wars Comic (Do you remember Den Siva?)
5. The Micronauts
6. Stark Future (Has anyone else heard of this let alone read it?)
7. Alien Legion (really should be #1 on this list. Never got into the reboots.)
8. Rocket Raccoon (Like the Secret of NIMH with laserguns and early Mike Mignola artwork. Also the Boba Fett character was a black rabbit with red eyes…)

I’m not counting manga, Legion of Superheroes, or stuff I didn’t read like Grimjack/Border Worlds or found later like Kamandi and Magnus: Robot Fighter.

Anyone else remember others?

El Hombre

It’s a strange courage

you give me ancient star:

Shine alone in the sunrise

toward which you lend no part!

– William Carlos Williams