The Creature from the Blog Lagoon (ABC Wednesday, 1/29/14)

C is for Creature

We all know the creature.

The monster. The dangerous thing, stalking, creeping, hunting in the silence of the night. Hairy, clawed, savage. Less than human…or is it?

For me, and many others who grew up with Universal monster movies, the word creature evokes the Creature From The Black Lagoon. Who, when you get down to it, is clawed and savage, but not so hairy. The Creature stalks and kidnaps the gorgeous Julie Adams, mesmerized by her preternatural beauty, no doubt with thoughts of ichthyological rape and scaly little spawn cavorting in the lagoon’s dark waters. The movie he’s in is undeniably a “monster movie,” but is he a monster? No. But he is, obviously, a beast, an animal, an inhuman thing. A creature. He operates on instinct more than thought, and in his case, because he comes into conflict with anti-instinctual man, it proves his undoing. Had he stayed hidden, not tried to woo, in his way, the beauty (a common failing among beasts), he would never have been harpooned, brought to man’s world, had his gills sliced off (a clumsy attempt to make a man of him), and ultimately killed.

Stories often warn us that this is what will happen if we let our creature side out. Our instinct. Our wild. Our Id. We aren’t animals, right? Never mind the blood and bile, our often maddening emotional lives, our wonderfully messy means of procreation. The fangs in our mouths, the hair on our pelts.

I’ve always been fascinated with werewolves, and themes of transformation often manifest in my writing. Often the transfiguration is into a wilder state, like the werewolf, rather than an “ascended” state. But is it therefore a devolution? Or is it an imperfect call toward wholeness? I believe we are at our best when we are comfortable with both sides of our nature, the primal and the thoughtful, the rational and the passionate. Be a creature and be a man. Be a creature and be a woman. Be complete.

Evolution isn’t a paved road away from the creature, it’s a forest path toward a better creature.

C

I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter D. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.

For another fun ABC Wednesday post, visit the Carioca Witch here: Bringing Up Salamanders.

Find many more posts by others, and more info on ABC Wednesday, here: ABC Wednesday

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10(ish) Books

It’s one of those memes spreading across Facebook, but one that actually has some merit (to my mind) in that it is designed to engage folks in conversations about books they love:

Rules: In your status line, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard – they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you.

I like that. I like that it specifies “books that have stayed with you in some way” rather than your all-time favorites. “Ones that have touched you.” I wouldn’t even start trying to list my favorite ten books of all time, but I’m happy to list a few favorites that moved me and now come to mind.

I also like the exercise well enough to share it here, for posterity, rather than as just a mote of data washing by in the social media stream. And I won’t simply list the books, I’ll tell you something about them, and about what they mean to me. (This also fits in with my recent pledge to get back to regularly reviewing books I read).

And I’ll do it now. Here they are, in no particular order:

Something_wicked_this_way_comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury This one would be on my list of all-time favorites if I ever made it. A tale of two small town boys, friends, born on opposite sides of midnight Halloween night, facing the surreal and terrifying threats of a dark circus that comes to town one chill night. This is a book about childhood and magic and dreams and libraries and laughter and books. Ray Bradbury was the writer who inspired me to officially decide I was going to be a writer, and this is his very best. It also makes me think of my best friend of many years, Rusty, the Will Halloway to my Jim Nightshade in the dyad of our youth.

WintersTale

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin Another wonderful book, an epic tale of fantasy and magic realism which explores New York City and life from all sorts of whimsical and tragic directions. I don’t know much about Mark Helprin as a person (I do know he supported and wrote speeches for Bob Dole, which deeply disappointed me at the time but seems a nearly insignificant fault in light of the monstrous Republicans who replaced Dole on the national scene), but he’s a brilliant writer. This book made me laugh out loud (there’s a brilliantly cartoonish gang of ne’er-do-wells in its pages), fall in love, and cry. It’s an overflowing treasure chest of literary wonder. (Apparently it’s now a movie, but I guarantee you should read the book before, or instead of, seeing it.)

LookingForRachelWallace

Looking For Rachel Wallace by Robert B. Parker Many of you will know the private detective Spenser from the old Robert Urich TV show Spenser: For Hire, which, as such adaptations go, was pretty good; Urich was personable, growing into the character over time, and his costar Avery Brooks was the definitive Hawk. I wanted to have a Spenser book here because Spenser — and his creator — have been great personal and professional influences on me for years. But there are a lot of Spenser novels, so the question was, which to feature? I decided to go with the very first I read, in which Spenser, manly man with a poet’s soul, is hired to bodyguard a rabidly feminist lesbian writer who most definitely doesn’t like having a seeming brute like him around. The interplay between the two as they intelligently argue sexual politics, along with Spenser’s relationship with his beloved Susan Silverman and the easy action of the tale, hooked me for life. Spenser is the thinking man’s gumshoe, big and brawny but just as quick with a Yeats quote as he is with his fists, and Parker rarely fails to deliver the goods. Continue reading

For A Muse… (Song of the Week, 9/5/2012)

O Divine Poesy, goddess, daughter of Zeus, sustain for me this song…Make the tale live for us in all its many bearings, O Muse…    –Homer, The Odyssey

Happy is he whom the Muses love…   –Hesiod, Theogony

The ancient lass pictured above is Calliope, daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory), and the Muse of epic poetry and writers. She was mother to the great lyre player and singer Orpheus, and creative inspiration to Homer.

Now, thanks to the loving craft of my sweet friend Nydia Macedo in Brazil, Calliope has come to live with me in the Byrdcave, to inspire me in my daily writing. Nydia, whose work you can see (and purchase!) on Facebook under the name “Carioca Witch,” specializes in handcrafting poppets and ornaments based in spiritual and mythological symbology. She researches her topics, finding appropriate colors and design elements to incorporate and herbs to use for scents, then brings her own artistry to the task of playfully evoking these ancient resonances through beautiful stitching. Each piece is a labor of love, and photos don’t capture just how cool they really are. I encourage you to visit the Facebook page linked to above and surf through her albums to see the variety of things she creates, from gods and goddesses to Christmas and Halloween ornaments to superheroes…

Yesterday, I received the poppet of Calliope that Nydia made for me:

She’s beautiful and will have a permanent place of honor in my home.

As tribute to sweet Calliope, and sweet Nydia, I offer this Song of the Week from Django Reinhardt, “La Mer (Beyond The Sea)”…

Silhouette (A Poem)

I don’t write much poetry, and when I do, I do it sort of like I write my blog posts, off the cuff with little polishing. Years back, I took a poetry writing course in college, taught by the man who would go on to be Georgia’s Poet Laureate, David Bottoms, and one day, while suffering through some terrible piece by one of my classmates, I flipped my copy of the poem over and spontaneously wrote a poem on its back.

Later, I workshopped the poem, and Bottoms praised it highly. It was always one of my favorite poems I’d written, but at some point I lost any copies and didn’t feel I could recapture it by trying to write it anew. Recently, however, I dug out my folder of other people’s poems from that class (to share some particularly hilariously bad ones with a friend), and was thrilled to find the original, scrawled draft on the back of that other guy’s poem.

Here it is. I hope you like it.

The silhouette and
Me.

I must know.
Is it He?

I step forward
hearing my ankles creak
like old wood.
I feel the bones in my feet.
The silhouette, through watching,
glides toward me as well.

We approach each other through the mist
in this, my home,
my cold, damp, musty tomb. 
There is a jump in my heart
as I hear the clank of chain,
as I dimly see the blade
glorious at his side.

Then I see.
The silhouette, like a thousand times before,
is me.
In my own bloody mirror.
I, a master of illusion,
have deluded myself once again.

Above, beyond the frozen bars of my tomb,
my captor shrieks shrill laughter.
She knew, all along,
that it was not He.

And I, old fool,
broken stick of a wizard,
sink to my knees and cry. 

PETA Kills Pets

See that picture up there? That’s representative of the good that the organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) does in the world. When it comes to providing cleverly staged fap-material of celebrities, they’re very good.

Know what they’re also good at? Picking ridiculous battles, like trumpeting that Fishkill, New York should change the name of its town because the name was mean to fish. They are extremists, raging at humans for killing animals, eating animals, using animal products, training animals, exhibiting animals, even keeping animals for pets. They make a hell of a lot of money from people who contribute to their coffers because they simply equate PETA with, well, ethical treatment of animals. You know, kindness. Saving animal lives. That sort of thing.

But PETA are huge fucking hypocrites.

And they’re responsible for the cold-blooded slaughter of thousands of animals entrusted to them by people who don’t know any better.

A few weeks ago, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom reported that PETA slaughtered 96% of the stray dogs and cats it, ahem, rescued last year. Since 2005, PETA has killed over 90% of the animals delivered into its care. Since 1998, PETA has killed nearly 28,000 animals. As reported in the New York Post:

In 2010, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services discovered that fully 84 percent of the strays taken in by PETA were killed within 24 hours.

No wonder: The report concluded that PETA’s headquarters “does not contain sufficient animal enclosures to routinely house the number of animals annually reported as taken into custody.”

So, off they go to the gas chamber.

See? PETA sucks. Don’t give them any money. You can get a lot more info at the website www.petakillsanimals.com.

Little, Big

Need a little perspective today? Want to get a sense of where you really are in the fullness of reality? Interested in learning all kinds of cool things?

The app I link to below, which allows you to zoom in to the teeny tiniest bit of quantum foam or out to the fullness of the entire universe is one of the most astonishingly elegant scientific gizmos I’ve ever seen. It’s worth spending some time with.

The Scale of the Universe 2

The Deepest Truth…

Neil DeGrasse Tyson offers his “most astounding fact” about us and the universe. In it are the roots of a true spirituality, a spirituality that isn’t blind to the sheer scope and wonder of life and nature and the universe itself, a spirituality that recognizes the importance of all things and a true understanding of their interconnections: science.

As above, so below.