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Archive for the ‘23’ Category

23 skidooooo

Posted by Mike on February 23, 2007

Today is February 23rd and the day “The Number 23” comes out in US theatres. My friend Tom send me this link today which demonstrates one part of the problem of the new popularity of 23. The other is the preliferation of geniuses coming out and saying things like “But I was 23 once, everyone was” or some similar sentiment. So for all those who are asking the looming question, “What does this all mean???” (clue: not 666) I refer you to the

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My little tribute to RAW

Posted by Mike on January 12, 2007

Been sitting here virtually stunned since I heard the news of RAW passing on. It’s very difficult to explain why the man’s writing means so much to me. He’s mostly best known for cowriting the Illuminatus trilogy, although for me it’s works like the Cosmic Trigger books and Prometheus Rising that were more influential. Wilson called himself, at times, a guerilla ontologist, which I took to mean someone whose writing could literally change the way you think and see the world. For someone who had great difficulty in leaving the religion of my upbringing, it was RAW, more than anyone else, who helped to clarify my thoughts, to show me clearly the way my thinking had been modified and altered by a rigid set of dogmas and beliefs. In fact I probably credit him more than anyone else for relieving me of the fear that goes along with such a process and to bring mystery back to the universe, to become comfortable with not knowing the answers to the big questions and most importantly to hint in the direction of LVX. He was the first person whose works I could say affected a sort of alchemy in my head. You probably could sum this up under the concept that he helped make me more free.

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RIP Robert Anton Wilson

Posted by Mike on January 12, 2007

http://robertantonwilson.blogspot.com/

I can’t think of any single thinker who was more influential on me than RAW. He had been in deteriorating health for quite a while due to, I believe, post-polio syndrome and had run into financial trouble in the last months of his life, when a large number of people donated money to him to allow him to live his final days at his home.

More:

http://hostgator.rawilson.com/
http://www.boingboing.net/2007/01/11/robert_anton_wilson_.html

RIP Robert and thanks.

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The Number 23

Posted by Mike on January 8, 2007

It’s a movie. I kid you not. Don’t blame me.

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Book/CD Received; Richard Laymon – The Cellar; Jack Cady – The Sons of Noah & Other Stories; Neil Gaiman “The Monarch in the Glen;” The Prestige; Torchwood

Posted by Mike on November 27, 2006

Book: Philip Jose Farmer – The World of Tiers
CD: Alan Sorrenti – Aria (x3)

Thanksgiving vacation was awesome, probably the best one I’ve had in years, I saw family, I got work done, and I relaxed and read all in about equal measure. Oh, I should probably mention Popcap.com and the game Alchemy, which managed to steal quite a bit of time as well. Those familiar and/or sympathetic to my esoteric interests will likely find it fun and amusing. It’s a bit off from the Tetris family, with lots of planetary and astrological glyphs used as symbols (although they must be saving Virgo for the higher levels ;)). It was my old man who turned me onto it, to which I mentioned that the Baptists would not have approved. Suffice it to say, I did not want to get out of bed this morning, partially because it was so cold, even with my heater running.

Anyway, onto the books and stuff… Laymon’s _The Cellar_ I believe I found out about on some Best 100 Horror novels ever list, it’s supposedly a cult classic of sorts. Having finished the Brian Kenne duology at a fast rate, I went at the Cellar at a clip, before realizing I was quickly burning out on the plot-heavy, cliche character sort of deal (which is basically about a woman and daughter on the run from a child molesting husband/father who just got out of jail and a creepy house that is supposedly the lair of a murdering beast). Perhaps the reputation of the book hinges on what daring feats it accomplished at the time of its original release, but as quick moving and fun as it was, it was also terribly shallow. The main male protagonist of the book could have been Steven Seagal in a movie, with his short, megamale way of going about things and nearly every character was something of a cliche. What wasn’t trite were the plot twists at the end. I kept expecting there to be something of a showdown with the main antagonist, and although the encounter happened, it didn’t go as I suspected, including no scenes like “I think he’s finally dead” only for him to get up for another round. Thankfully.  I suspect the ending might have been what garnered the novel its cult, but that would be tough to talk about without spoiling.

Jack Cady’s rather brief short story collection was far more erudite than this, and the comparison fits, as Cady’s work, though ostensibly interstitial, has elements of horror, especially the collection’s longest story, “By Reason of Darkness.” The writing is top notch with an instantly identifable and unique voice, by a man who seems acquainted with both the rural and urban. My favorites were the aformentioned novella and the shorter, powerful title story, about a religious community living in a remote valley who receives a visitor who brings bad news to the people. Even though no monsters show up, the flavor is somewhat Lovecraftian, with a nice, somewhat magically realist, denouement. “Darkness” might have been the book’s best piece, a story that draws characters together under conditions of (I believe the Vietnam) war and then has them meet together afterwards for unfinished business. The protagonists, including a wonderfully drawn, is-he-sane-or-not, Indian mystic, really imbue the story with several layers of meaning, tied together by vague, supernatural goings on. The remaining five stories are all much shorter, but nicely drawn with a language that seems both erudite and wordly.

Neil Gaiman’s novella comes from Legends II and is a sequel to his novel American Gods, so I wanted to read it before starting Anansi Boys, which just came out in paperback. Monarch follows Shadow to Scotland where he’s hired as helper at a party way up in the mountains, only to find out that he’s there to be more than hired help. It was nice to visit with Shadow again and the story had the usual mythic resonance that Gaiman handles so well. I believe the story is also in Fragile Things, his new collection.

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Books Received; Brian Keene – The Rising; City of the Dead

Posted by Mike on November 20, 2006

  • Brian Keene – City of the Dead
  • Bentley Little – The Revelation
  • Richard Laymon – The Cellar
  • Kirsten Bakis – Lives of the Monster Dogs

The two novels listed by Brian Keene are two halves of a whole. The end chapter (no. 23 no less) of The Rising and chapter 1 of City of the Dead are basically identical, the latter having a bit of explanatory editing to introduce people coming half way in. Keene’s work, unsurprisingly, owes a great deal to the horror genre through Stephen King. The Rising and City are both zombie novels, although the zombies in Keene’s work aren’t the Romero kind, but are basically demons inhabiting corpses.

In fact Keene’s work is more or less a B movie put to a book. You get non-stop, pulse-pounding action that only really lets up for a bit in the second of the two books. The writing at the sentence level is a bit awkward and the book revels in cliches, the father who wants to save his kid (almost identical in goal to the Lebbon novella I read a few weeks ago), the tough ex-prostitute, the preacher man etc. In fact, it wouldn’t be too difficult to pick these books apart at the seams, but it would be ignoring the fact that they’re really great fun.

Perhaps the reason why books like this work is because the prose is somewhat invisible, it’s designed to keep the plot moving fast and one isn’t inclined to reread sentences except when you’re trying to figure out something clumsy. The plot, as mentioned before, starts in an underground bunker after the dead has started rising. Our protagonist Jim Thurmond gets an unexpected phone call from his young son living with his mother and stepfather several states away. Already about to give up, it gives Thurmond the courage to go after him.

Thurmond’s exploits remind me a bit of the episodic nature of Lansdale’s Drive-In books. Bad things happen, people are traumatized, worse things happen. Thurmond meets up with survivors, realizes that demon-possessed cadavers aren’t the only bad thing about the apocalypse, and tries to figure out a universe that seems a weird mishmash of Christianity, new age and magic.

In fact there’s one message that seems pretty clear throughout the book. Science is responsible for the apocalypse. Magic might have saved the world had it not been totally forgotten (eh?). Faith is the only recourse, characterized by the preacher man, who quotes bible verses and declares they’re on a mission for God. It gets stronger as the picture grows bleaker and bleaker.

I don’t want to go too much into detail about events and can say very little about the second book, except that the first book ends on a cliffhanger and you need book 2 to see if Thurmond saves his son. Apparently this cliffhanger really bothered the fans at the time, but not enough to deny The Rising its Bram Stoker Award for First Novel. I found myself a little distracted by the books’ theology and the awkward prose, but for the most part it’s one long action romp through a nightmare that keeps getting worse, each episode making you want to know what happens next.

The other thing about these books is you can read them fast. 300-350 page books disappear in a night or two. Which may be why I’m trying to knock out Laymon’s _The Cellar_. At that point I’ll probably need something a little more edifying. Or maybe a lot.

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Update on Robert Anton Wilson

Posted by Mike on October 16, 2006

http://www.boingboing.net/2006/10/05/note_from_robert_ant.html

Great news at this link. Hope someone has bought him a Dr. Pepper.

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23 in Marketing

Posted by Mike on October 15, 2006

Gotta love it. 🙂

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Robert Anton Wilson in financial trouble

Posted by Mike on October 5, 2006

http://www.rushkoff.com/2006/10/robert-anton-wilson-needs-our-help.php

Was really sad to hear about this, as RAW’s work has had a major impact on my brain (as can be seen by all the 23s around here).

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Books/CDs Received; Updates; Grant Morrison – The Invisibles: Volume 3 Anarchy in the U.K.; Richard K. Morgan – Altered Carbon; Lucius Shepard “On the Border;” “Delta Sly Honey;” etc.

Posted by Mike on October 2, 2006

Books 

  • Neil Gaiman – Sandman Vol. 5
  • Neil Gaiman – Sandman Vol. 6
  • Stephane Grabinski – The Dark Domain
  • Alan Moore – V for Vendetta
  • Grant Morrison – Invisibles Vol. 4
  • Zoran Zivkovic – Seven Touches of Music
  • Fritz Leiber – The Sinful Ones
  • Fritz Leiber – The Second Book of Fritz Leiber
  • Flann O’Brien – The Third Policeman
  • Richard K. Morgan – Broken Angels
  • Fritz Leiber – Gather, Darkness!

CDs:

  • Hank Mobley – Workout
  • Lee Morgan – The Gigolo
  • Lee Morgan – Tom Cat
  • Blue Mitchell – Boss Horn
  • Andrew Hill – Smoke Stack
  • The Mars Volta – Amputechture
  • Meshuggah – Catch Thirtythree
  • Mastodon – Blood Mountain

Massive update time. Going backwards in time from this morning, I’ve spent a lot of my free time doing a second viewing on the new Battlestar Galactica series, thanks to picking up seasons 2.0 and 2.5 for $30 a pop at Costco last week. It’s difficult to decide what my favorite drama on TV is, but right now it’s BSG at least until I watch Deadwood or the Shield again. It’s even better the second time around, and I had apparently missed one episode entirely in 2.0 and bits and parts from many eps making some of the viewing like the first time.

Most of this viewing came in between various other activities, including the usual life errands like shopping and laundry. I also was drafted as bartender at my mother’s retirement party this last weekend. Was more or less slammed blending margaritas all evening, less fun because I’m on the tail end of a cold or flu that dates back at least a week and is hanging on tenaciously. My multitasking skills were maxed, to say the least, as I spent the time bartending, catching up with people I haven’t seen in years, and being part-time babysitter for my nephews (one of which ended up with my “tips” for bartending) usually indicated by “It’s your turn!”

So, reading time has been way down, although I’ve managed to finish some things anyway. The Grant Morrison volume is the end of the Invisibles’ first story arc and was my favorite of the collections to date. Morrison is something of a Robert Anton Wilson fan, so it’s fun to see some of Wilson’s ideas come up in the comic, including, of course, the plentiful number 23. Other than that it’s hard to say more without spoiling much of the series to date.

Also finished Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, which is something of a ripper, a hard-boiled noir story meets future science fiction, with the main idea being that one’s personality can be transferred to a new body with new technology. What’s neat about the book is the way so many of these ideas are thought through in their implications, without bogging it down with the “is the copy the same as the original?” sorts of debates that come up with the subject. While I thought the book slows down in a couple places, at least in that I could put it down without anxiety, for the most part it was a very compelling read and a lot of fun, certainly 11ish on the Gnosis scale.

A couple more Shepard shorts from The Ends of the Earth, including “On the Border,” which posits a near future Mexico with an energy border between the United States and Mexico, a subject very pertinent given today’s immigration issues. The protagonist has found himself a “gringa” and decides what to do with her which is to take her back to the United States. “Delta Sly Honey” is an unsual Vietnam War story about a broadcaster who comes into contact with a legendary unit.

Mostly trying to share time between Nabokov’s delightful and bizarre Pale Fire, Jack McDevitt’s archaeology-in-space opener “The Engines of God,” and am nipping at Jeff VanderMeer’s book of essays called “Why Should I Cut Your Throat.” And to finish up BSG 2.5, so I can get to the new podcasts before Season 3 starts Friday night.

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