Sunday, November 29, 2020

By the Waters of Babylon

Stephen Vincent Benét


By the Waters of Babylon is a short story by Stephen Vincent Benet. You can read it online here or here. It begins,
The north and the west and the south are good hunting ground, but it is forbidden to go east. It is forbidden to go to any of the Dead Places except to search for metal and then he who touches the metal must be a priest or the son of a priest. Afterwards, both the man and the metal must be purified. These are the rules and the laws; they are well made. It is forbidden to cross the great river and look upon the place that was the Place of the Gods —this is most strictly forbidden. We do not even say its name though we know its name. It is there that spirits live, and demons —it is there that there are the ashes of the Great Burning. These things are forbidden—they have been forbidden since the beginning of time. 
My father is a priest; I am the son of a priest. I have been in the Dead Places near us, with my father —at first, I was afraid. When my father went into the house to search for the metal, I stood by the door and my heart felt small and weak. It was a dead man's house, a spirit house. It did not have the smell of man, though there were old bones in a corner. But it is not fitting that a priest's son should show fear. I looked at the bones in the shadow and kept my voice still. 
Then my father came out with the metal—a good, strong piece. He looked at me with both eyes but I had not run away. He gave me the metal to hold—I took it and did not die. So he knew that I was truly his son and would be a priest in my time. That was when I was very young—nevertheless, my brothers would not have done it, though they are good hunters. After that, they gave me the good piece of meat and the warm corner by the fire. My father watched over me —he was glad that I should be a priest. But when I boasted or wept without a reason, he punished me more strictly than my brothers. That was right. 
...
You can have it read to you:


Saturday, November 28, 2020

Zero (2011)

Zero is a 2011 award-winning animated short film. from the IMDb: "Born into a world of numbers, an oppressed zero discovers that through determination, courage, and love, nothing can be truly something."

Friday, November 27, 2020

Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back

Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back is a post-apocalyptic science fiction short story by Joe R. Lansdale. You can read it online here. It begins,
From the Journal of Paul Marder 
(Boom!) 
That’s a little scientist joke, and the proper way to begin this. As for the purpose of my notebook, I’m uncertain. Perhaps to organize my thoughts and not to go insane. 
No. Probably so I can read it and feel as if I’m being spoken to. Maybe neither of those reasons. It doesn’t matter. I just want to do it, and that is enough. 
What’s new? 
Well, Mr. Journal, after all these years I’ve taken up martial arts again—or at least the forms and calisthenics of Tae Kwon Do. There is no one to spar with here in the lighthouse, so the forms have to do. 
There is Mary, of course, but she keeps all her sparring verbal. And as of late, there is not even that. 
...

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Gun for a Coward


Gun for a Coward is a 1957 Western film starring Fred MacMurray and Jeffrey Hunter. Chill Wills, Dean Stockwell, and Iron Eyes Cody are also in this movie. This is a traditional western about brothers who have a serious conflict with each other. I watched it online but can't find it now. I can't even find a trailer sigh. Reviews don't put it in the top tier Best Westerns Ever ranks, but it's worth watching for the cast. If you can find it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Fermi and Frost

image from Wikipedia

Fermi and Frost is a science fiction short story by Frederik Pohl. You can read it online here. It begins,
On Timothy Clary's ninth birthday he got no cake. He spent all of it in a bay of the TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy airport in New York, sleeping fitfully, crying now and then from exhaustion or fear. All he had to eat was stale Danish pastries from the buffet wagon and not many of them, and he was fearfully embarrassed because he had wet his pants. Three times. Getting to the toilets over the packed refugee bodies was just about impossible. There were twenty-eight hundred people in a space designed for a fraction that many, and all of them with the same idea. Get away! Climb the highest mountain! Drop yourself splat, spang, right in the middle of the widest desert! Run! Hide! — 
And pray. Pray as hard as you can, because even the occasional planeload of refugees that managed to fight their way aboard and even take off had no sure hope of refuge when they got wherever the plane was going. Families parted. Mothers pushed their screaming children aboard a jet and melted back into the crowd before screaming, more quietly, themselves. 
Because there had been no launch order yet, or none that the public had heard about anyway, there might still be time for escape. A little time. Time enough for the TWA terminal, and every other airport terminal everywhere, to jam up with terrified lemmings. There was no doubt that the missiles were poised to fly. The attempted Cuban coup had escalated wildly, and one nuclear sub had attacked another with a nuclear charge. That, everyone agreed, was the signal. The next event would be the final one. 
Timothy knew little of this, but there would have been nothing he could have done about it—except perhaps cry, or have nightmares, or wet himself, and young Timothy was doing all of those anyway. He did not know where his father was. He didn't know where his mother was, either, except that she had gone somewhere to try to call his father; but then there had been a surge that could not be resisted when three 747s at once had announced boarding, and Timothy had been carried far from where he had been left. Worse than that. Wet as he was, with a cold already, he was beginning to be very sick. The young woman who had brought him the Danish pastries put a worried hand to his forehead and drew it away helplessly. The boy needed a doctor. But so did a hundred others, elderly heart patients and hungry babies and at least two women close to childbirth. 
If the terror had passed and the frantic negotiations had succeeded, Timothy might have found his parents again in time to grow up and marry and give them grandchildren. If one side or the other had been able to preempt, and destroy the other, and save itself, Timothy forty years later might have been a graying, cynical colonel in the American military government of Leningrad. (Or body servant to a Russian one in Detroit.) Or if his mother had pushed just a little harder earlier on, he might have wound up in the plane of refugees that reached Pittsburgh just in time to become plasma. Or if the girl who was watching him had become just a little more scared, and a little more brave, and somehow managed to get him through the throng to the improvised clinics in the main terminal, he might have been given medicine, and found somebody to protect him, and take him to a refuge, and live. . . . 
But that is in fact what did happen! 
...

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

At Home

At Home - Intimacy - Towards the Day:


by Louise De Hem, who died on November 22, 1922, at the age of 55.

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Please join us at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering where we share a drink in our posts and enjoy some pleasant company.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Sunday, November 22, 2020

A House Divided

A House Divided is a 1913 short silent comedy film direct by Alice Guy-Blaché.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

North Of


North Of is a short story by Marie-Helene Bertino. You can read it online here. It begins,
There are American flags on school windows, on cars, on porch swings; it is the year I bring Bob Dylan home for Thanksgiving.

We park in front of my mom’s house, my mom who has been waiting for us at the door, probably since dawn. Her hello carries over the lawn. Bob Dylan opens the car door, stretches one leg and then the other. He wears a black leather coat, and has spent the entire ride from New York trying to remember the name of a guitarist he played with in Memphis. I pull our bags from the trunk.

“You always pack too much,” I say.

He shrugs. His arms are small in his coat. His legs are small in his jeans.

“Hello hello,” my mother says as we amble toward her.

“This is Bob,” I say.

...

Friday, November 20, 2020

Tusk

Tusk is a 2014 horror film. I watched it on Netflix. This won't be one I'll ever watch again. from Wikipedia:
Best friends Wallace Bryton and Teddy Craft host the popular podcast The Not-See Party, where they find and mock humiliating viral videos. Wallace announces plans to fly to Canada to interview the Kill Bill Kid, an Internet celebrity famous for severing his leg with a samurai sword. Upon arriving in Manitoba, Wallace is surprised to learn that the Kill Bill Kid committed suicide. Upset that he flew to Canada for nothing, Wallace decides to stay an extra day and find another person to interview. He finds a handbill from someone offering a room in his home for free and the guarantee of hearing a lifetime of interesting stories. His interest piqued, Wallace arrives at the mansion of Howard Howe, a retired seaman in a wheelchair. Howard tells the story of how a walrus, whom he named "Mr. Tusk", rescued him after a shipwreck. Wallace then passes out from the secobarbital laced in the tea that Howard made for him. The next morning, Wallace wakes up...
and the horror begins. I don't like films that feature torture and don't even begin watching if I know that's what the film is like. I also don't like slasher films in general but will watch them depending on what else is involved in the movie. I've never seen anything like Tusk, which seems to fall into a category called body horror. That sub-genre is now on my never-watch list right alongside torture movies.

trailer:


Roger Ebert's site doesn't like it, saying ""Tusk" is what you'd get if you wrote a comedy inspired by both "The Human Centipede" and Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe adaptations." Bloody Disgusting defends it and says, "“Is man indeed a walrus at heart?” That is the question that Kevin Smith posed to audiences in 2014 with his body-horror-comedy Tusk. Apparently, no one wanted to know the answer because the film flopped in theaters."