Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Third Bear

The Third Bear is a short story by Jeff Vandermeer. I found this shared by Vandermeer's Twitter account. He also posts delightful wildlife photos there. You can read this story online here. It begins,
It made its home in the deep forest near the village of Grommin, and all anyone ever saw of it, before the end, would be hard eyes and the dark barrel of its muzzle. The smell of piss and blood and shit and bubbles of saliva and half-eaten food. The villagers called it the Third Bear because they had killed two bears already that year. But, near the end, no one really thought of it as a bear, even though the name had stuck, changed by repetition and fear and slurring through blood-filled mouths to Theeber. Sometimes it even sounded like "seether" or "seabird."

The Third Bear came to the forest in mid-summer ...


(Image at the top of the post by Free-Photos from Pixabay)

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Fistful of Dynamite

A Fistful of Dynamite is a 1971 Zapata Western film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Rod Steiger and James Coburn. Coburn is one of my favorites. Ennio Morricone did the music. Looking for something fun to do? This is it!

from Wikipedia:
Set during the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s, the film tells the story of Juan Miranda, an amoral Mexican outlaw, and John Mallory, an ex-Irish Republican Army revolutionary.

The Arts Desk calls it a "glorious Mexican revolution epic". Pop Matters says it is "Now recognised as an idiosyncratic masterpiece".

Senses of Cinema says, "If I were forced to choose one Leone film from his oeuvre to take with me to a desert island, A Fistful of Dynamite would usurp the magnificent Once Upon a Time in the West" and
for me it is Leone’s portrayal of the growing friendship between Sean (James Coburn) and Juan (Rod Steiger) that makes this film such a treasure. Its deep exploration of character “for character’s sake” as opposed to pure narrative exposition is unprecedented in Leone’s work up until this point – a genuinely loving, intriguing tale of male friendship that generates its power and pathos more from gestures, silences and exchanged looks than “action”. It is a remarkable recipe gives it a rating of 9 out of 10 and says, "In all, Leone has captured another classical film. It's different to the others, and more political. But it surely does have the Leone spirit." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 91%.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Still Life with Cup II

Still Life with Cup II:

by Inge Schiöler, who died on April 27, 1971. I'm offering this to join the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. There's another cup at the bottom of the post.


The Urban/Rural Divide

photo from the Flickr stream of The Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC)

It's been pointed out to me that the divide in our country over the mis-handling of the current pandemic is mainly a rural/urban one. People located in more rural areas haven't (so far) been affected to the degree our cities have.

Memphis, Tennessee is an urban area. The 2018 city population was over 650,000, making Memphis the largest city on the Mississippi River, the second most populous city in Tennessee, as well as the 26th largest city in the United States. The Memphis Metro Area is the 42nd largest metropolitan area in the United States, with a population of well over 1,000,000 in the 2017 count. Some counties around us are rural and have no hospitals, or have hospitals without the capacity for intensive care for certain patients. Patients in need of that kind of care come to -you guessed it- Memphis, whose taxpayers prop up the rural areas in many ways.

Our response to this pandemic has been measured and reasonable, not driven by fear but by concern for the public health. You can see Memphis-related Coronavirus information at the city web site. We are continuing to see increasing deaths, though the increase is at a slower rate, and we have more than 2,000 confirmed cases. This for a contagious disease with no treatment, no vaccine, and which perhaps confers no immunity after recovery. And shall we talk about the Covid-19 patients who were sent home from hospitals who are being re-admitted with complications like kidney failure or stroke? That's not like the seasonal flu at all.

Our governor (Republican Bill Lee) had a stay-in-place order effective through April 30 and won't extend it, even though our state does not meet Trump's own guidelines for re-opening. Our county, among several others, is not included in his effort, and our mayor has announced an extension through May 5. Our city has made every effort to be prepared, getting field hospitals ready and opening numerous testing sites which are now available for some asymptomatic people. Testing is key.

Tipton County (with 95 Covid-19 cases when I checked the numbers, which continue to rise) is to our immediate north and has a population (as of the last census) of just over 61,000 and a population in its largest city of just over 9,000. There is a hospital in their county seat.

Fayette County (with 52 cases) is immediately to our east and has a population of just over 38,000 and a population in its largest city of just over 30,000. There used to be a hospital in the county seat, but it has recently closed, another one of many rural hospital closures caused by the governor's refusal to expand Medicaid here in Tennessee.

Desoto County, Mississippi (with 266 cases) is the county directly to our south and has a population of just over 160,000, with much of that being in the area adjacent to the state line bordering Memphis. The county seat has a population of just over 6,800. There is a hospital just over the state line in MS.

Crittenden County, Arkansas (with 164 cases) is the county directly to our west just across the Mississippi River and has a population of almost 51,000. West Memphis is their largest city with a population of just over 26,000. Their county's hospital closed in 2018.

Just look at the differences in case numbers across our state of Tennessee:

Our issues here in this large urban area are different from those of folks who live in small towns or out in the country. I've lived in all these sorts of places, so it's not like I don't know what it's like. If I can walk to the nearest 5 grocery stores and 3 drugstores and you have to drive 30 minutes to get to the closest shopping, our concerns are not the same.

When you drive into the city to enjoy your dinner and a movie or lunch at a favorite restaurant, because there aren't movie theaters and restaurants in your community, think about this:
Air-conditioning spread the coronavirus to 9 people sitting near an infected person in a restaurant, researchers say. It has huge implications for the service industry.
So when you do get out, refusing to wear a mask because you know better than the medical professionals, and then you get sick but there's no hospital in your community: Thank the urban taxpayer for making your medical care possible. While you're at it, thank the urban taxpayer for most of your shopping, dining, and entertainment options, too.

If you made it this far, I'd just like to say this: If you don't watch the news and so don't know what's going on with the coronavirus anywhere else except maybe NYC and in your individual community, and all you see is Trump suggesting that disinfectants taken into the body or used on the hands might be curative...  please don't tell me this pandemic is #FakeNews, that people die all the time anyway, and that our city should just get back to business as usual. I'm tired of being judged by people who aren't interested in looking for facts or seeing beyond their own personal situation, and I'm tired of the patronizing attitude of people who claim I've bought into some conspiracy intended to hurt the president they still believe in. If you want to open up your county, fine, although I've heard it said opening up some counties is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool. Our county isn't ready yet. And it's not because our Business-Friendly mayor doesn't want to see all the businesses hopping. Trust me on that.

There are real public health issues involved with this disease. We're dealing with those as best we can. I'm glad you're fine, really happy for you, but we are not there yet. Quit judging us.

P.S. Memphis had one of those "Liberate" protests downtown at the courthouse. It was strangely led by a man from Fayette County. His county is reopening this week as part of the Governor's plan. Why was he here?! He had 6 fellow protesters with him.

End of rant.

I have equally spirited rants on crape murder and lawns. Perhaps another time?


Caveat: I'm having this discussion on Facebook as well as other online communities like blogs. This isn't directed at any one of them. The divide is a general one, not related to what any one person on Facebook or the general internet has said.


Now, I need a soothing cup of hot, strong, black coffee. Please join me,

and I'll listen to your rant on your own subject of choice.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Cthulhu (2007)

Cthulhu is a 2007 film inspired by a novella by H.P. Lovecraft. I tried to watch it but gave up half-way through having given up hope that anything would ever actually happen. It got some good notices, though, so I'm sure it would reward a complete viewing, but I'm not going back to it. Your mileage may vary, as they say.


Dread Central gives it 5 out of 5 stars and says, "The experience of watching this film was as perfect a translation of modern times through the lens of Lovecraft as I have ever seen attempted". Rotten Tomatoes had 62% of their critics give it positive reviews.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A Time to Reap

A Time to Reap is a science fiction novella by Elizabeth Bear. I found it via the Uncanny Magazine Twitter page. I read it online here. It begins,
“This is a true-crime tale?”

Two reporters sharing the shuttle with us, and of course I got the one who hadn’t done her homework. I suppose I should have been flattered that they were there—a Broadway musical spun off the previous year’s multi-player total-immersion virtual reality hit was news, and I’d never acted in anything this big before—but the one who’d attached herself to me was a career fluff-story type who squealed at a higher pitch than my cat.

I couldn’t remember her name. I was confident it wasn’t actually Bambi, but I thought it probably should have been.
There's time travel in this one, and that's not my favorite thing. But it's a good story.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Solomon Kane

Solomon Kane is a 2009 fantasy adventure film inspired by the Robert E. Howard character. Imdb has this description: "A ruthless mercenary renounces violence after learning his soul is bound for hell. When a young girl is kidnapped and her family slain by a sorcerer's murderous cult, he is forced to fight and seek his redemption slaying evil." If you like fantasy/adventure films you'll like this.


The Hollywood Reporter calls it "a powerful, high-spirited romp". The Guardian says, "This 16th-century sword and sorcery epic is action-packed and commendably serious". has screenshots and says, "The film is well done and nicely paced for any fan of action, adventure and fantasy."

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Rival Ghosts

The Rival Ghosts is an 1896 "humorous ghost story" by Brander Matthews (pictured above). It can be read online here. You can have it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,
The good ship sped on her way across the calm Atlantic. It was an outward passage, according to the little charts which the company had charily distributed, but most of the passengers were homeward bound, after a summer of rest and recreation, and they were counting the days before they might hope to see Fire Island Light. On the lee side of the boat, comfortably sheltered from the wind, and just by the door of the captain's room (which was theirs during the day), sat a little group of returning Americans. The Duchess (she was down on the purser's list as Mrs. Martin, but her friends and familiars called her the Duchess of Washington Square) and Baby Van Rensselaer (she was quite old enough to vote, had her sex been entitled to that duty, but as the younger of two sisters she was still the baby of the family)—the Duchess and Baby Van Rensselaer were discussing the pleasant English voice and the not unpleasant English accent of a manly young lordling who was going to America for sport. Uncle Larry and Dear Jones were enticing each other into a bet on the ship's run of the morrow.

"I'll give you two to one she don't make 420," said Dear Jones.

"I'll take it," answered Uncle Larry. "We made 427 the fifth day last year." It was Uncle Larry's seventeenth visit to Europe, and this was therefore his thirty-fourth voyage.

"And when did you get in?" asked Baby Van Rensselaer. "I don't care a bit about the run, so long as we get in soon."

"We crossed the bar Sunday night, just seven days after we left Queenstown, and we dropped anchor off Quarantine at three o'clock on Monday morning."

"I hope we shan't do that this time. I can't seem to sleep any when the boat stops."

"I can; but I didn't," continued Uncle Larry; "because my state-room was the most for'ard in the boat, and the donkey-engine that let down the anchor was right over my head."

"So you got up and saw the sunrise over the bay," said Dear Jones, "with the electric lights of the city twinkling in the distance, and the first faint flush of the dawn in the east just over Fort Lafayette, and the rosy tinge which spread softly upward, and——"

"Did you both come back together?" asked the Duchess.

"Because he has crossed thirty-four times you must not suppose that he has a monopoly in sunrises," retorted Dear Jones. "No, this was my own sunrise; and a mighty pretty one it was, too."

"I'm not matching sunrises with you," remarked Uncle Larry, calmly; "but I'm willing to back a merry jest called forth by my sunrise against any two merry jests called forth by yours."

"I confess reluctantly that my sunrise evoked no merry jest at all." Dear Jones was an honest man, and would scorn to invent a merry jest on the spur of the moment.

"That's where my sunrise has the call," said Uncle Larry, complacently.

"What was the merry jest?" was Baby Van Rensselaer's inquiry, the natural result of a feminine curiosity thus artistically excited.

"Well, here it is. I was standing aft, near a patriotic American and a wandering Irishman, and the patriotic American rashly declared that you couldn't see a sunrise like that anywhere in Europe, and this gave the Irishman his chance, and he said, 'Sure ye don't have 'em here till we're through with 'em over there.'"

"It is true," said Dear Jones, thoughtfully, "that they do have some things over there better than we do; for instance, umbrellas."

"And gowns," added the Duchess.

"And antiquities,"—this was Uncle Larry's contribution.

"And we do have some things so much better in America!" protested Baby Van Rensselaer, as yet uncorrupted by any worship of the effete monarchies of despotic Europe. "We make lots of things a great deal nicer than you can get them in Europe—especially ice-cream."

"And pretty girls," added Dear Jones; but he did not look at her.

"And spooks," remarked Uncle Larry casually.

"Spooks?" queried the Duchess.

"Spooks. I maintain the word. Ghosts, if you like that better, or specters. We turn out the best quality of spook——"

"You forget the lovely ghost stories about the Rhine, and the Black Forest," interrupted Miss Van Rensselaer, with feminine inconsistency.

"I remember the Rhine and the Black Forest and all the other haunts of elves and fairies and hobgoblins; but for good honest spooks there is no place like home. And what differentiates our spook—Spiritus Americanus—from the ordinary ghost of literature is that it responds to the American sense of humor. Take Irving's stories for example. The Headless Horseman, that's a comic ghost story. And Rip Van Winkle—consider what humor, and what good-humor, there is in the telling of his meeting with the goblin crew of Hendrik Hudson's men! A still better example of this American way of dealing with legend and mystery is the marvelous tale of the rival ghosts."

"The rival ghosts?" queried the Duchess and Baby Van Rensselaer together. "Who were they?"

"Didn't I ever tell you about them?" answered Uncle Larry, a gleam of approaching joy flashing from his eye.

"Since he is bound to tell us sooner or later, we'd better be resigned and hear it now," said Dear Jones.

"If you are not more eager, I won't tell it at all."

"Oh, do, Uncle Larry; you know I just dote on ghost stories," pleaded Baby Van Rensselaer.

"Once upon a time," began Uncle Larry—"in fact, a very few years ago—there lived in the thriving town of New York a young American called Duncan—Eliphalet Duncan.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Man of La Mancha

Man of La Mancha is a 1972 film adaptation of the musical play by the same name. That play is in turn based on the book about Don Quixote by Cervantes who died on this date in 1616. This is my favorite adaptation. I remember when it came out, and it was quite popular through my college years. People are often familiar with it because community theaters often present it (or used to back when I kept up with such things). It's sad and sweet and funny and touching and even inspiring, and the music is delightful.


You are well-advised to read the book here or here first if you haven't already. It's a classic, one of The Greats. Or have it read to you compliments of Librivox:

volume 1:

volume 2:

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Persepolis Rising

Persepolis Rising is a 2017 science fiction novel by James S. A. Corey. It is book 7 in the Expanse series, which is one of the best science fiction series to come our way in, well ever. I'm a huge fan both of the book series and of the TV adaptation. These should be read in order.

from the back of the book:

In the thousand-sun network of humanity's expansion, new colony worlds are struggling to find their way. Every new planet lives on a knife edge between collapse and wonder, and the crew of the aging gunship Rocinante have their hands more than full keeping the fragile peace.

In the vast space between Earth and Jupiter, the inner planets and the Belt have formed a tentative and uncertain alliance still haunted by a history of wars and prejudices. On the lost colony world of Laconia, a hidden enemy has a new vision for all of humanity and the power to enforce it.

New technologies clash with old as the history of human conflict returns to its ancient patterns of war and subjugation. But human nature is not the only enemy, and the forces being unleashed have their own price. A price that will change the shape of humanity -and of the Rocinante- unexpectedly and forever....

The Verge calls it, "A tightly plotted adventure with new challenges for the crew of the Rocinante". Locus Magazine concludes a positive review with this: "The Expanse is proving to be one of the most appropriate series titles around – a sprawl­ing, subgenre-devouring world that integrates the close-up and the wide-screen in its vision and makes both equally riveting."

Elitist Book Reviews concludes their positive review saying,
If you haven’t read this series yet, you seriously need to start. Great writing. Brilliant character. Structured story. And A NOVEL EVERY YEAR. I mean, seriously. Who else will give you that? Not many, I’ll tell you. Not many. Grab it up, people, and never let go.
Publishers Weekly calls it "thrilling" and closes with this: "Corey’s tense, tightly plotted story is stuffed to the brim with intrigue, action, awesome alien tech, multidimensional characters, and provocative ideas."

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas is an award-winning 1973 science fiction short story by Ursula K. Le Guin. She died in January, 2018 at 88 years of age. You can read this story online here. It begins,
With a clamor of bells that set the swallows soaring, the Festival of Summer came to the city Omelas, bright-towered by the sea. The rigging of the boats in harbor sparkled with flags. In the streets between houses with red roofs and painted walls, between old moss-grown gardens and under avenues of trees, past great parks and public buildings, processions moved. Some were decorous: old people in long stiff robes of mauve and grey, grave master workmen, quiet, merry women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked. In other streets the music beat faster, a shimmering of gong and tambourine, and the people went dancing, the procession was a dance. Children dodged in and out, their high calls rising like the swallows' crossing flights over the music and the singing. All the processions wound towards the north side of the city


I'll be having a cup of Ugly Mug Hardy Passion coffee with The Husband this morning, and I have plenty of cups and mugs if you'd care to join us. I can even offer tea.

I'll be checking in at Elizabeth's T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.


A word about sources for news:

Keeping up with current events is crucial in these days. I watch the daily briefings offered by our joint Memphis/Shelby County task force, and I regularly tune in to see what the state news is from Tennessee's Governor Lee. I used to watch Trump's mini-rallies live but stopped doing that after he bragged about his ratings. It's important to watch him in action, though. Clips and transcripts just don't give the full effect. C-Span's Youtube channel films them live and keeps them available. This one from April 13 is a doozy:

The day after that he said he would adjourn congress so he could make recess appointments. Saturday he said, “I really believe it could have been billions of people [dead from Covid-19] had we not done what we did". He continues to use these briefings as substitutes for the rallies he can't have. It's a disgraceful display.

Y'all know I'm not a Trump fan (and that predates his political career by decades), but he is the president and it behooves us to keep an eye on what he and his crew are up to. We're dying here, literally dying.

I don't have cable, so I can't be tempted by the 24/7 shows they offer. But there's a variety of reliable news sources that I do have access to. You do have to be willing to fact-check even your favored sources. I watch press conferences live as much as I can, but none of us should expect these people to fact-check themselves. We need to read reports and analysis and be aware of the context of what is said and done.

It's important on TV programs to distinguish news coverage from commentary. In written sources, news articles and editorial content are completely different things. Don't condemn the commentators because they're not news. I can't emphasize this enough.

Here's my list. I'd welcome your suggestions.

The Associated Press (AP)
The Atlantic
Foreign Affairs (here's their U.S. coverage)
The New Yorker
The New York Times
The Washington Post
Christian Science Monitor
The Guardian

There's news coverage on ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News (I like Lester Holt).

There's a chart here that might be helpful.

It's not true that all news is #FakeNews or that reporters just make stuff up. It is true that some sources are biased, and that sometimes there are mistakes. A good way to judge a news source is whether or not they issue retractions when they make mistakes.

I find it easy to get a news overview on Twitter by following several reliable sources and scrolling through them. Here's a Twitter list that includes all the ones listed in this post. I don't discuss politics on Twitter, but I get a lot of information from sources there. And it's Trump's favorite venue.

I enjoy discussing politics on Facebook, but I don't get my news there. I think it's important that we talk about these things with people who don't already agree with us -not to convince, but to understand and be understood. Sticking our head in the sand doesn't change what's happening. Refusing to listen to the opposing side just makes us ignorant of all we don't already agree with.

Compare the news coverage from several different sources. Please don't just take Trump's word for it, or the word of any one person for that matter. Like I said, you can't expect these people to fact-check themselves.

November is coming, and the Trump faithful are truly faithful. He was right when he said, "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters." The least we can do is stay informed.

If you stuck with me to the end, thanks for giving me a hearing. Sometimes we just need to have our say. Feel free to have your say in the comments. I'm an equal opportunity political ranter.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The House on the Borderland

The House on the Borderland is a 1908 supernatural horror novel by William Hope Hodgson. It is a well-regarded book that according to Wikipedia signaled a radical departure from the typical Gothic fiction of the late 19th century. Hodgson created a newer more realistic/scientific cosmic horror that left a marked impression on those who would become the great writers of the weird tales of the middle of the 20th century. You can read it online here or listen to the Librivox recording here. It begins,


Right away in the west of Ireland lies a tiny hamlet called Kraighten. It is situated, alone, at the base of a low hill. Far around there spreads a waste of bleak and totally inhospitable country; where, here and there at great intervals, one may come upon the ruins of some long desolate cottage—unthatched and stark. The whole land is bare and unpeopled, the very earth scarcely covering the rock that lies beneath it, and with which the country abounds, in places rising out of the soil in wave-shaped ridges.

Yet, in spite of its desolation, my friend Tonnison and I had elected to spend our vacation there. He had stumbled on the place by mere chance the year previously, during the course of a long walking tour, and discovered the possibilities for the angler in a small and unnamed river that runs past the outskirts of the little village.

I have said that the river is without name; I may add that no map that I have hitherto consulted has shown either village or stream. They seem to have entirely escaped observation: indeed, they might never exist for all that the average guide tells one. Possibly this can be partly accounted for by the fact that the nearest railway station (Ardrahan) is some forty miles distant.

It was early one warm evening when my friend and I arrived in Kraighten. We had reached Ardrahan the previous night, sleeping there in rooms hired at the village post office, and leaving in good time on the following morning, clinging insecurely to one of the typical jaunting cars.

It had taken us all day to accomplish our journey over some of the roughest tracks imaginable, with the result that we were thoroughly tired and somewhat bad tempered. However, the tent had to be erected and our goods stowed away before we could think of food or rest. And so we set to work, with the aid of our driver, and soon had the tent up upon a small patch of ground just outside the little village, and quite near to the river.

Then, having stored all our belongings, we dismissed the driver, as he had to make his way back as speedily as possible, and told him to come across to us at the end of a fortnight. We had brought sufficient provisions to last us for that space of time, and water we could get from the stream. Fuel we did not need, as we had included a small oil-stove among our outfit, and the weather was fine and warm.

It was Tonnison's idea to camp out instead of getting lodgings in one of the cottages. As he put it, there was no joke in sleeping in a room with a numerous family of healthy Irish in one corner and the pigsty in the other, while overhead a ragged colony of roosting fowls distributed their blessings impartially, and the whole place so full of peat smoke that it made a fellow sneeze his head off just to put it inside the doorway.

Tonnison had got the stove lit now and was busy cutting slices of bacon into the frying pan; so I took the kettle and walked down to the river for water. On the way, I had to pass close to a little group of the village people, who eyed me curiously, but not in any unfriendly manner, though none of them ventured a word.

As I returned with my kettle filled, I went up to them and, after a friendly nod, to which they replied in like manner, I asked them casually about the fishing; but, instead of answering, they just shook their heads silently, and stared at me. I repeated the question, addressing more particularly a great, gaunt fellow at my elbow; yet again I received no answer. Then the man turned to a comrade and said something rapidly in a language that I did not understand; and, at once, the whole crowd of them fell to jabbering in what, after a few moments, I guessed to be pure Irish. At the same time they cast many glances in my direction. For a minute, perhaps, they spoke among themselves thus; then the man I had addressed faced 'round at me and said something. By the expression of his face I guessed that he, in turn, was questioning me; but now I had to shake my head, and indicate that I did not comprehend what it was they wanted to know; and so we stood looking at one another, until I heard Tonnison calling to me to hurry up with the kettle. Then, with a smile and a nod, I left them, and all in the little crowd smiled and nodded in return, though their faces still betrayed their puzzlement.

It was evident, I reflected as I went toward the tent, that the inhabitants of these few huts in the wilderness did not know a word of English; and when I told Tonnison, he remarked that he was aware of the fact, and, more, that it was not at all uncommon in that part of the country, where the people often lived and died in their isolated hamlets without ever coming in contact with the outside world.

"I wish we had got the driver to interpret for us before he left," I remarked, as we sat down to our meal. "It seems so strange for the people of this place not even to know what we've come for."

Tonnison grunted an assent, and thereafter was silent for a while.

Later, having satisfied our appetites somewhat, we began to talk, laying our plans for the morrow; then, after a smoke, we closed the flap of the tent, and prepared to turn in.

"I suppose there's no chance of those fellows outside taking anything?" I asked, as we rolled ourselves in our blankets.

Tonnison said that he did not think so, at least while we were about; and, as he went on to explain, we could lock up everything, except the tent, in the big chest that we had brought to hold our provisions. I agreed to this, and soon we were both asleep.

Next morning, early, we rose and went for a swim in the river; after which we dressed and had breakfast. Then we roused out our fishing tackle and overhauled it, by which time, our breakfasts having settled somewhat, we made all secure within the tent and strode off in the direction my friend had explored on his previous visit.

During the day we fished happily, working steadily upstream, and by evening we had one of the prettiest creels of fish that I had seen for a long while. Returning to the village, we made a good feed off our day's spoil, after which, having selected a few of the finer fish for our breakfast, we presented the remainder to the group of villagers who had assembled at a respectful distance to watch our doings. They seemed wonderfully grateful, and heaped mountains of what I presumed to be Irish blessings upon our heads.

Thus we spent several days, having splendid sport, and first-rate appetites to do justice upon our prey. We were pleased to find how friendly the villagers were inclined to be, and that there was no evidence of their having ventured to meddle with our belongings during our absences.

It was on a Tuesday that we arrived in Kraighten, and it would be on the Sunday following that we made a great discovery. Hitherto we had always gone up-stream; on that day, however, we laid aside our rods, and, taking some provisions, set off for a long ramble in the opposite direction. The day was warm, and we trudged along leisurely enough, stopping about mid-day to eat our lunch upon a great flat rock near the riverbank. Afterward we sat and smoked awhile, resuming our walk only when we were tired of inaction.

For perhaps another hour we wandered onward, chatting quietly and comfortably on this and that matter, and on several occasions stopping while my companion—who is something of an artist—made rough sketches of striking bits of the wild scenery.

And then, without any warning whatsoever, the river we had followed so confidently, came to an abrupt end—vanishing into the earth.

"Good Lord!" I said, "who ever would have thought of this?"

And I stared in amazement; then I turned to Tonnison. He was looking, with a blank expression upon his face, at the place where the river disappeared.

In a moment he spoke.

"Let us go on a bit; it may reappear again—anyhow, it is worth investigating."

I agreed, and we went forward once more, though rather aimlessly; for we were not at all certain in which direction to prosecute our search. For perhaps a mile we moved onward; then Tonnison, who had been gazing about curiously, stopped and shaded his eyes.

"See!" he said, after a moment, "isn't that mist or something, over there to the right—away in a line with that great piece of rock?" And he indicated with his hand.

I stared, and, after a minute, seemed to see something, but could not be certain, and said so.

"Anyway," my friend replied, "we'll just go across and have a glance." And he started off in the direction he had suggested, I following. Presently, we came among bushes, and, after a time, out upon the top of a high, boulder-strewn bank, from which we looked down into a wilderness of bushes and trees.

"Seems as though we had come upon an oasis in this desert of stone," muttered Tonnison, as he gazed interestedly. Then he was silent, his eyes fixed; and I looked also; for up from somewhere about the center of the wooded lowland there rose high into the quiet air a great column of hazelike spray, upon which the sun shone, causing innumerable rainbows.

"How beautiful!" I exclaimed.

"Yes," answered Tonnison, thoughtfully. "There must be a waterfall, or something, over there. Perhaps it's our river come to light again. Let's go and see."

Down the sloping bank we made our way, and entered among the trees and shrubberies. The bushes were matted, and the trees overhung us, so that the place was disagreeably gloomy; though not dark enough to hide from me the fact that many of the trees were fruit trees, and that, here and there, one could trace indistinctly, signs of a long departed cultivation. Thus it came to me that we were making our way through the riot of a great and ancient garden. I said as much to Tonnison, and he agreed that there certainly seemed reasonable grounds for my belief.

What a wild place it was, so dismal and somber! Somehow, as we went forward, a sense of the silent loneliness and desertion of the old garden grew upon me, and I felt shivery. One could imagine things lurking among the tangled bushes; while, in the very air of the place, there seemed something uncanny. I think Tonnison was conscious of this also, though he said nothing.

Suddenly, we came to a halt. Through the trees there had grown upon our ears a distant sound. Tonnison bent forward, listening. I could hear it more plainly now; it was continuous and harsh—a sort of droning roar, seeming to come from far away. I experienced a queer, indescribable, little feeling of nervousness. What sort of place was it into which we had got? I looked at my companion, to see what he thought of the matter; and noted that there was only puzzlement in his face; and then, as I watched his features, an expression of comprehension crept over them, and he nodded his head.

"That's a waterfall," he exclaimed, with conviction. "I know the sound now." And he began to push vigorously through the bushes, in the direction of the noise.

As we went forward, the sound became plainer continually, showing that we were heading straight toward it. Steadily, the roaring grew louder and nearer, until it appeared, as I remarked to Tonnison, almost to come from under our feet—and still we were surrounded by the trees and shrubs.

"Take care!" Tonnison called to me. "Look where you're going." And then, suddenly, we came out from among the trees, on to a great open space, where, not six paces in front of us, yawned the mouth of a tremendous chasm, from the depths of which the noise appeared to rise, along with the continuous, mistlike spray that we had witnessed from the top of the distant bank.

For quite a minute we stood in silence, staring in bewilderment at the sight; then my friend went forward cautiously to the edge of the abyss. I followed, and, together, we looked down through a boil of spray at a monster cataract of frothing water that burst, spouting, from the side of the chasm, nearly a hundred feet below.

"Good Lord!" said Tonnison.

I was silent, and rather awed. The sight was so unexpectedly grand and eerie; though this latter quality came more upon me later.

Presently, I looked up and across to the further side of the chasm. There, I saw something towering up among the spray: it looked like a fragment of a great ruin, and I touched Tonnison on the shoulder. He glanced 'round, with a start, and I pointed toward the thing. His gaze followed my finger, and his eyes lighted up with a sudden flash of excitement, as the object came within his field of view.

"Come along," he shouted above the uproar. "We'll have a look at it. There's something queer about this place; I feel it in my bones."

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Man with the Gun

Man with the Gun is a 1955 Western starring Robert Mitchum. Mitchum is one of my favorites. Angie Dickinson has an uncredited role.

DVD Talk calls it "entertaining," says it "it works and it works well," and concludes, "Nicely shot with some great sets and locations and set to a really strong score from Alex North and this one is top tier entertainment, a classic western well worth revisiting." TCM has information.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Gathering

The Gathering is the Booker Prize-winning 2007 novel by Anne Enright. There are reviews linked from that Wikipedia article. This one can be painful to read in places as she explores this family.

from the back of the book:
A dazzling writer of international stature, Anne Enright is one of Ireland's most singular voices. Now she delivers The Gathering, a moving, evocative portrait of a large Irish family haunted by the past. The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan are gathering in Dublin for the wake of the wayward brother, Liam, who drowned in the sea. His sister,l Veronica, collects the body and keeps the dead man company, guarding the secret she shares with him -something that happened in their grandmother's house in the winter of 1968. As Enright traces the line of betrayal ad redemption through three generations, she shows how memories warp and secrets fester, As in all Enright's work, her distinctive intelligence twists the world a fraction, and gives it back to us in a new and unforgettable light.

Friday, April 17, 2020

White Heat

White Heat is a 1949 film noir directed by Raoul Walsh and starring James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, and Edmond O'Brien. You can watch it online at this link.


Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and concludes, "Magnificent examination of the criminal mind and Cagney's finest moment." Slant Magazine discusses the psychological aspects.

Deep Focus Reviews says,
Cody’s awareness of his own psychological volatility transforms the character from an unsympathetic criminal into a tragic figure, more so because the burden paints him as a boy incapable of letting go of his attachment to his mother. White Heat so effectively bonds us to Cody’s emotional makeup—and yet, amazingly, does this without romanticizing his criminality—that the audience feels a sense of antagonism about Fallon and a strange sympathy toward Cody

Rotten Tomatoes has a positive critics consensus of 100%.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Liking What You See: A Documentary

Liking What You See: A Documentary is a 2002 short story by Ted Chiang. You can read it online here. It begins,

Tamera Lyons, first-year student at Pembleton:

I can't believe it. I visited the campus last year, and I didn't hear a word about this. Now I get here and it turns out people want to make calli a requirement. One of the things I was looking forward to about college was getting rid of this, you know, so I could be like everybody else. If I'd known there was even a chance I'd have to keep it, I probably would've picked another college. I feel like I've been scammed.

I turn eighteen next week, and I'm getting my calli turned off that day. If they vote to make it a requirement, I don't know what I'll do; maybe I'll transfer, I don't know. Right now I feel like going up to people and telling them, "Vote no." There's probably some campaign I can work for.

Maria deSouza, third-year student, President of the Students for Equality Everywhere (SEE):

Our goal is very simple. Pembleton University has a Code of Ethical Conduct, one that was created by the students themselves, and that all incoming students agree to follow when they enroll. The initiative that we've sponsored would add a provision to the code, requiring students to adopt calliagnosia as long as they're enrolled.

What prompted us to do this now was the release of a spex version of Visage. That's the software that, when you look at people through your spex, shows you what they'd look like with cosmetic surgery. It became a form of entertainment among a certain crowd, and a lot of college students found it offensive. When people started talking about it as a symptom of a deeper societal problem, we thought the timing was right for us to sponsor this initiative.

The deeper societal problem is lookism. For decades people've been willing to talk about racism and sexism, but they're still reluctant to talk about lookism. Yet this prejudice against unattractive people is incredibly pervasive. People do it without even being taught by anyone, which is bad enough, but instead of combating this tendency, modern society actively reinforces it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Curse of the Crying Woman

The Curse of the Crying Woman is a 1963 Mexican horror film. A witch and black magic and killings in the remote countryside. The Great Danes are the best part.

Horrorpedia has quotes from reviews, screenshots, and a trailer. Weird Wild Realm has a review.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

A Dinner Table at Night

A Dinner Table at Night (1884):

by John Singer Sargent, who died on this date in 1925 at 69 of heart disease. You can see more of his work here.

Please share a drink-related reference and join us at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.


I'm staying in still -haven't been out for two weeks- and am putting off a grocery trip as long as I can. We've had 26 deaths in my county but no new deaths in the last couple of days. I'll be glad when supplies of toilet paper/eggs/meat/masks/bread/etc. are available on a regular basis, when the promised testing is a reality, when there are better treatment options and a vaccine, when mail-in voting for the November election is established, and when the gardens re-open for public visits.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Zamboni Driver, 42

It was all over my social media feeds back during the winter, even on sites that don't cover sports. Here's how ESPN covered it:
Zamboni driver, 42, stars as emergency goalie for Hurricanes


Ayres, a Zamboni driver and arena maintenance worker for the Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, has been the regular practice goaltender for the Marlies and has appeared at Maple Leafs practices and skills sessions this season. As the emergency goalie, he was available to either team, if needed.

"It was awesome. I had the time of my life out there," Ayres told the Sportsnet broadcast after the game.


Ayres' hockey career was derailed by a kidney transplant in 2004. His mother, Mary, was his kidney donor.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Dark Matter

Dark Matter is a science fiction television series from 2015-2017. We watched the first two seasons on the Sci-Fi channel back when we had cable and the third season when we took advantage of a free trial month on Netflix. from Wikipedia:
A group of six people awaken in stasis pods with amnesia aboard the starship Raza. They have no memories of who they are or their lives before awakening, so they assume the names One through Six, in the order in which they left stasis. They stabilize their vessel and set about trying to uncover their identities and what happened to them.

episode 1:

It's worth looking for if you like science fiction.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Phantom Rickshaw

The Phantom Rickshaw is an 1888 ghost story by Rudyard Kipling. You can read it online here or have it read to you at the bottom on the post. It begins,
May no ill dreams disturb my rest,
Nor Powers of Darkness me molest.
— Evening Hymn.

One of the few advantages that India has over England is a great Knowability. After five years’ service a man is directly or indirectly acquainted with the two or three hundred Civilians in his Province, all the Messes of ten or twelve Regiments and Batteries, and some fifteen hundred other people of the non-official caste. In ten years his knowledge should be doubled, and at the end of twenty he knows, or knows something about, every Englishman in the Empire, and may travel anywhere and everywhere without paying hotel-bills.

Globe-trotters who expect entertainment as a right, have, even within my memory, blunted this open-heartedness, but none the less today, if you belong to the Inner Circle and are neither a Bear nor a Black Sheep, all houses are open to you, and our small world is very, very kind and helpful.

Rickett of Kamartha stayed with Polder of Kumaon some fifteen years ago. He meant to stay two nights, but was knocked down by rheumatic fever, and for six weeks disorganized Polder’s establishment, stopped Polder’s work, and nearly died in Polder’s bedroom. Polder behaves as though he had been placed under eternal obligation by Rickett, and yearly sends the little Ricketts a box of presents and toys. It is the same everywhere. The men who do not take the trouble to conceal from you their opinion that you are an incompetent ass, and the women who blacken your character and misunderstand your wife’s amusements, will work themselves to the bone in your behalf if you fall sick or into serious trouble.

Heatherlegh, the Doctor, kept, in addition to his regular practice, a hospital on his private account — an arrangement of loose boxes for Incurables, his friend called it — but it was really a sort of fitting-up shed for craft that had been damaged by stress of weather. The weather in India is often sultry, and since the tale of bricks is always a fixed quantity, and the only liberty allowed is permission to work overtime and get no thanks, men occasionally break down and become as mixed as the metaphors in this sentence.

Heatherlegh is the dearest doctor that ever was, and his invariable prescription to all his patients is, “lie low, go slow, and keep cool.” He says that more men are killed by overwork than the importance of this world justifies. He maintains that overwork slew Pansay, who died under his hands about three years ago. He has, of course, the right to speak authoritatively, and he laughs at my theory that there was a crack in Pansay’s head and a little bit of the Dark World came through and pressed him to death. “Pansay went off the handle,” says Heatherlegh, “after the stimulus of long leave at Home. He may or he may not have behaved like a blackguard to Mrs. Keith–Wessington. My notion is that the work of the Katabundi Settlement ran him off his legs, and that he took to brooding and making much of an ordinary P. & O. flirtation. He certainly was engaged to Miss Mannering, and she certainly broke off the engagement. Then he took a feverish chill and all that nonsense about ghosts developed. Overwork started his illness, kept it alight, and killed him poor devil. Write him off to the System — one man to take the work of two and a half men.”

I do not believe this. I used to sit up with Pansay sometimes when Heatherlegh was called out to patients, and I happened to be within claim. The man would make me most unhappy by describing in a low, even voice, the procession that was always passing at the bottom of his bed. He had a sick man’s command of language. When he recovered I suggested that he should write out the whole affair from beginning to end, knowing that ink might assist him to ease his mind. When little boys have learned a new bad word they are never happy till they have chalked it up on a door. And this also is Literature.

He was in a high fever while he was writing, and the blood-and-thunder Magazine diction he adopted did not calm him. Two months afterward he was reported fit for duty, but, in spite of the fact that he was urgently needed to help an undermanned Commission stagger through a deficit, he preferred to die; vowing at the last that he was hag-ridden. I got his manuscript before he died, and this is his version of the affair, dated 1885: ...
You can hear it read to you here:

Friday, April 10, 2020


Genevieve is a 1953 award-winning British comedy about a car race. This is delightful, good-humored fun

The Telegraph calls it a "delightful confection, which feels as fresh today as it did when it was made". BFI has a positive review. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 80%.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Last Night

Last Night is a short story by Laura van den Berg. You can read it online here. It begins,
I want to tell you about the night I got hit by a train and died.

The thing is — it never happened.

This was many years ago.

I didn’t think about that night, my last night, for a long time and then one day I woke up and it was all I could think about.

Let me try and explain — I’ve spent years cultivating a noisy life. I live in a city riddled with unending construction projects, in an apartment above a bar. I see student after student during office hours; I let their words replace my thoughts. I volunteer at a women’s crisis center in my neighborhood. I listen to the women tell me what’s happened to their lives. Recently, though, silence has snuck in. For one thing, the bar closed the day after Thanksgiving without any warning at all, casting the whole block in quiet.

I blame that shuttered bar for the return of my last night.

I was seventeen and I had been in this place for ten months, receiving treatment for my various attempts to kill myself. My parents had mortgaged their house to keep me there and it was only in my last two months that I agreed to talk to them on the phone and even then it was mostly out of boredom. I was that angry they wanted me to live.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

The Merchant of Venice (1973)

The Merchant of Venice is a 1973 television adaptation of the Shakespeare play starring Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, and Jeremy Brett. I love the cast, and especially Jeremy Brett in one of his Shakespeare roles.

BFI says,
Widely regarded as the most convincing screen adaptation of The Merchant of Venice to date, this ATV production was sourced from Jonathan Miller's acclaimed 1970 National Theatre staging.

Aside from its artistic merit, it's also a valuable historical record, preserving Laurence Olivier's farewell to stage Shakespeare...

Tuesday, April 07, 2020


Feed is a young adult book by M.T. Anderson, read because the book challenge I'm engaged in directed a young adult book for March and this is the only one I could find free online that I hadn't already read. I got lucky and enjoyed this. It's is a strange story. You can read it online here. It begins,
We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.

We went on a Friday, because there was shit-all to do at home. It was the beginning of spring break. Everything at home was boring. Link Arwaker was like, “I’m so null,” and Marty was all, “I’m null too, unit,” but I mean we were all pretty null, because for the last like hour we’d been playing with three uninsulated wires that were coming out of the wall. We were trying to ride shocks off them. So Marty told us that there was this fun place for lo-grav on the moon. Lo-grav can be kind of stupid, but this was supposed to be good. It was called the Ricochet Lounge. We thought we’d go for a few days with some of the girls and stay at a hotel there and go dancing.

We flew up and our feeds were burbling all sorts of things about where to stay and what to eat. It sounded pretty fun, and at first there were lots of pictures of dancing and people with romper-gills and metal wings, and I was like, This will be big, really big, but then I guess I wasn’t so skip when we were flying over the surface of the moon itself, because the moon was just like it always is, after your first few times there, when you get over being like, Whoa, unit! The moon! The goddamn moon! and instead there’s just the rockiness, and the suckiness, and the craters all being full of old broken shit, like domes nobody’s using anymore and wrappers and claws.

The thing I hate about space is that you can feel how old and empty it is. I don’t know if the others felt like I felt, about space? But I think they did, because they all got louder. They all pointed more, and squeezed close to Link’s window.

You need the noise of your friends, in space.


It's getting quite nice, with sunshine and highs in the 70s, and it's perfect patio weather. Please join me for T Stands for Tuesday, and we can enjoy a cup together:

I'll show off the flowers I have right now. Pink Dogwood:

and native honeysuckle:

My little Eastern Redbud tree is beginning to leaf out:

If it weren't for my patio, and screaming into the void on Facebook, and exploring new-to-me Twitter I think I might go mad!

After Trump tweeted about how proud he was of the ratings he was getting for his briefings I quit watching them. I do watch as much as I can of Dr. Fauci and other folks who know what they're talking about, but honestly I don't want to be part of any ratings boost he's bragging about *sigh* I leave you with a couple of coronavirus images for these dark days:

Truth hurts. Maybe that's why so many people won't accept it.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Riders of Destiny

Riders of Destiny is a 1933 John Wayne western with Gabby Hayes. If you like John Wayne or old westerns, you'll like this. It's just under an hour long, and sometimes I long for the days when you could get a feature-length film at an hour.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Black-Eyed Women

Black-Eyed Women is a short story by Viet Thanh Nguyen. You can read it online here. It begins,
Fame would strike someone, usually the kind that healthy-minded people would not wish upon themselves, such as being kidnapped and kept prisoner for years, suffering humiliation in a sex scandal, or surviving something typically fatal. These survivors needed someone to help write their memoirs, and their agents might eventually come across me. “At least your name’s not on anything,” my mother once said. When I mentioned that I would not mind being thanked in the acknowledgments, she said, “Let me tell you a story.” It would be the first time I heard this story, but not the last. “In our homeland,” she went on, “there was a reporter who said the government tortured the people in prison. So the government does to him exactly what he said they did to others. They send him away and no one ever sees him again. That’s what happens to writers who put their names on things.”

By the time Victor Devoto chose me, I had resigned myself to being one of those writers whose names did not appear on book covers. His agent had given him a book that I had ghostwritten, its ostensible author the father of a boy who had shot and killed several people at his school. “I identify with the father’s guilt,” Victor said to me. He was the sole survivor of an airplane crash, one hundred and seventy-three others having perished, including his wife and children. What was left of him appeared on all the talk shows, his body there but not much else. The voice was a soft monotone, and the eyes, on the occasions when they looked up, seemed to hold within them the silhouettes of mournful people. His publisher said that it was urgent that he finish his story while audiences still remembered the tragedy, and this was my preoccupation on the day my dead brother returned to me.

My mother woke me while it was still dark outside and said, “Don’t be afraid.”

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Urashima Tarō

Urashima Tarō is a 1918 Japanese animated short film adaptation of a folk tale about a fisherman who travels to an underwater world on a turtle. It's less than 2 minutes long. You can watch it here.

Friday, April 03, 2020


Light is a 2015 award-winning short story by Lesley Nneka Arimah. You can read it online here. It begins,
When Enebeli Okwara sent his girl out in the world, he did not know what the world did to daughters. He did not know how quickly it would wick the dew off her, how she would be returned to him hollowed out, relieved of her better parts. Before this, they are living in Port Harcourt in a bungalow in the old Ogbonda Layout. Her mother is in America reading for a Masters in Business Administration.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Light the Fuse... Sartana Is Coming

Light the Fuse... Sartana Is Coming (also known as Cloud of dust... cry of death... Sartana is coming and Gunman in Town and Run, Man, Run... Sartana's in Town) is a 1970 spaghetti western. The names of these movies are only one of the things to love. has a plot description. Their review begins:
The fourth and last Sartana movie with Garko, and no doubt the most crack-brained of them all. Sartana is equipped with a new array of weapons and gadgets, including a miniature robot in the form of a totem, called Alfie, who can be programmed to kill. Sartana is looking for half a million of gold and two million dollars of counterfeit money, embezzled by a former friend...
Here's Alfie:

Wednesday, April 01, 2020


Berenice is an 1835 short story by Edgar Allan Poe (pictured above). Ah, true love... You can read it online here. It begins,
Misery is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is multiform. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch, -as distinct too, yet as intimately blended. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow! How is it that from beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness? -from the covenant of peace a simile of sorrow? But as, in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been.

My baptismal name is Egaeus; that of my family I will not mention. Yet there are no towers in the land more time-honored than my gloomy, gray, hereditary halls. Our line has been called a race of visionaries; and in many striking particulars -in the character of the family mansion -in the frescos of the chief saloon -in the tapestries of the dormitories -in the chiselling of some buttresses in the armory -but more especially in the gallery of antique paintings -in the fashion of the library chamber -and, lastly, in the very peculiar nature of the library's contents, there is more than sufficient evidence to warrant the belief.

The recollections of my earliest years are connected with that chamber, and with its volumes -of which latter I will say no more. Here died my mother. Herein was I born. But it is mere idleness to say that I had not lived before -that the soul has no previous existence. You deny it? -let us not argue the matter. Convinced myself, I seek not to convince. There is, however, a remembrance of aerial forms -of spiritual and meaning eyes -of sounds, musical yet sad -a remembrance which will not be excluded; a memory like a shadow, vague, variable, indefinite, unsteady; and like a shadow, too, in the impossibility of my getting rid of it while the sunlight of my reason shall exist.

In that chamber was I born. Thus awaking from the long night of what seemed, but was not, nonentity, at once into the very regions of fairy-land -into a palace of imagination -into the wild dominions of monastic thought and erudition -it is not singular that I gazed around me with a startled and ardent eye -that I loitered away my boyhood in books, and dissipated my youth in reverie; but it is singular that as years rolled away, and the noon of manhood found me still in the mansion of my fathers -it is wonderful what stagnation there fell upon the springs of my life -wonderful how total an inversion took place in the character of my commonest thought. The realities of the world affected me as visions, and as visions only, while the wild ideas of the land of dreams became, in turn, --not the material of my every-day existence-but in very deed that existence utterly and solely in itself.

Berenice and I were cousins, and we grew up together in my paternal halls. Yet differently we grew -I ill of health, and buried in gloom -she agile, graceful, and overflowing with energy; hers the ramble on the hill-side -mine the studies of the cloister -I living within my own heart, and addicted body and soul to the most intense and painful meditation -she roaming carelessly through life with no thought of the shadows in her path, or the silent flight of the raven-winged hours. Berenice! -I call upon her name -Berenice! -and from the gray ruins of memory a thousand tumultuous recollections are startled at the sound! Ah! vividly is her image before me now, as in the early days of her light-heartedness and joy! Oh! gorgeous yet fantastic beauty! Oh! sylph amid the shrubberies of Arnheim! --Oh! Naiad among its fountains! -and then --then all is mystery and terror, and a tale which should not be told. Disease -a fatal disease -fell like the simoom upon her frame, and, even while I gazed upon her, the spirit of change swept, over her, pervading her mind, her habits, and her character, and, in a manner the most subtle and terrible, disturbing even the identity of her person! Alas! the destroyer came and went, and the victim -where was she, I knew her not -or knew her no longer as Berenice.
You can hear it read aloud by Vincent Price: