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What are you reading?

Various (Editors: Murphy, Damian and Ghetu, Dan) - Wound Of Wounds: An Ovation To Emil Cioran

A collection of riches here, whether you are a follower of Mr. Cioran or an indifferent skeptic.
Snapshots include Thompson’s account of an encounter between Cioran and God (the Almighty wearing the skin of J S Bach) which brews cheerful cynicism with laugh out loud humor.
Mr. Isis exhibits the zoo of the extinguished and the malcontents, observed by an audience of the listless and the bored.
Rhys Hughes offers a suicide. An elaborate device of giddying complexity, and not without a fistful of chance. Rube Goldberg, shooting craps with the Reaper, would chuckle at this.
Wood’s “Dead Engrained Skin” left me reeling. Perplexed, baffled, I felt as if I were trapped in a stalled elevator with an overwrought madman philosopher. Gems of insight wash past in a cascade of words. To mangle the author, a tale best read, then “eschewed,” with the bitterest coffee.
The undead philosopher, one Mr. Cioran, debates meaning and existence in “The Funeral Cry.” He also acts as ferryman between the bigoted small town and the cruel metropolitan underbelly.
“The Infinite Error” catches a grand evacuation, poised before the selfsame ‘infinite error.’ Everything - nothing. Exuberant release, infernal blockage.
Charles Schneider mocks the writer. Frustration, indecision, doubt. He omits the joy during those rare times when words array in splendor. Then again, oh, how fleeting such joy is.

What are you reading?

Keene, Day - League Of The Grateful Dead

Collection of hard-boiled short stories written for 1940s era pulps.
Sharp paced plots, smart mouthed guys, dealing in hot lead and a quick uppercut.
Most were private eye cases, back when the job was glamorous and paid real dough.
A lot of fun, including some great titles such as “Dead: As In Mackerel.”
Beach read when you don’t want to plow through 700 pages of teenagers realizing they are turning into their parents and will live another 60 years, or enduring another memoir of some fossil griping about how painful their childhood was. Oops, was that the grown up teenager?
League Of The Grateful Dead was cheap entertainment, not enlightenment.

Day Keene had been popular in the 30s, as well, but under his own, very Germanic name.
Once WWII commenced, he shifted to a pseudonym and never went back to his original.
In an interview, Jerry Garcia once said the band had gotten their name from a forgotten magazine story.

What are you reading?

Dilke, Lady - The Outcast Spirit And Others

Long ago, a lady leaned over lofty balcony and beheld a company of knights.
Their upraised lances resembled a forest of ivory, and at the center was the most beautiful prince.
Behold the world of Lady Dilke, stories set in a romanticized Medieval era.
Nothing is fair in the kingdoms, however. Curses, dire prophesy and ill fortune are the lot of all.
Lady Dilke did not favor happily ever afters.
I particularly enjoyed the two longer tales, “The Hangman’s Daughter” and “The Triumph Of The Cross.”
In the former, a young noble matures with no estate, wealth or honor. Unknowingly, he forms a relationship with the hangman’s daughter, and all the ill luck that entails.
In the latter, a sorceress unthreads a royal couple, leading a kingdom to war.
Should you be in the mood for the morose fables, then these are for you.

What are you reading?

Cave, Hugh - The Mountains Of Madness

Old school horror by the last pulp master.
Cave was 93 when this came out, his final novel, and it felt like a throwback to the past.
Dan leases a coffee plantation in Haiti and stumbles into voodoo.
A female protagonist arrives, researching an ancestor and she gets the voodoo, as well.
Much was predictable, and the writing style reflected another era.
“What was Dan doing here?” or “Again and again, how did he get from New York to St Joseph?”
Cave does a nice job of pointing clues in different directions, and keeping the reader involved.
Short at 150 pages, but about right for a pulp novel back in the 40s.
Nice finish to a long, long career.

What are you reading?

Ghahwagi, Karim - The Liminal Void

Three souls wear witness to, and record, high crimes and atrocities.
While some crimes may be against the state, and others are vendettas or rivalries, the majority seem to have been inflicted by the authority. The Regime.
The tone is Kafka and Orwell, the domain utterly totalitarian.
How is the narrator even permitted to engage in the archiving of knowledge dangerous to the state?
Therein hangs the novella, as the trio journey from one secure location to one remote.
While broken into a handful of chapters, I still found this a churn to navigate.
The prose was … no, the syntax, the word arrangement and sentence sequence was what I found murky to read and interpret.
On reflection, I decided this must be by design, as other works I have read by Ghahwagi were easier.
If deliberate, I wondered how thin is the border between stylistic flourish and mannerisms.
Sammy Hagar fans, take note: I did not count, but the word “crimson” must be used forty times or more.
Should someone suggest leitmotif, I will shrug and agree.
I was not so much disappointed as puzzled by my reactions to this.
Other Ghahwagi works I have enjoyed greatly.

What are you reading?

Brewer, Gil - A Taste For Sin

Jim works at a liquor store. To make ends meet, he boosts cases now and then, hoping his boss doesn’t notice.
Enter customer Felice. Nothing but firm curves under a black shirt, hitched high. White blouse, mostly unbuttoned, beckons with more moist delights.
Felice and Jim begin to yield to the electric charge between them, even though Jim knows she’s poison.
She’s 17, she’s reckless, she has a temper, she has a husband.
Yeah, that husband thing. Still, he works at the bank, he works nights, he has keys.
Jim is another of Brewer’s male losers. Guys transfixed stupid by hot snatch.
Oh, Jim comes up with a plan! Details and timetables so nothing - nothing - can go wrong.
The book hurtles at a frenetic pace, matching the Jim and Felice‘s activities every time they rip each others clothes off, which is often.
For tales of low rent lust and insane capers, Brewer is my go-to favorite.

What are you reading?

Insole, Colin - The Rhododendron Boy

Childhood remembered.
For many of our adult years, our early days seem buried, if not forgotten.
In old age, those ghosts often return unbidden.
For the blissful, the shroud of nostalgia deceives with lollipops and laughter.
Others recall with startling clarity, ugly behavior, suffocation, and the brittle veneer of happiness.
In this, our narrator is in his 60s, perhaps older, revisiting events – an event – when his course took the errant path.
This is a terrible story of building unease, as misremembered characters saunter and stumble in a young girl’s rambling sing song.
Almost from the onset, there are shadows. Off in the corners, out of focus, their shape ungrasped.
And yet, like all horrors, more may be exposed by the end. Because you want to look.
They will crawl down your throat and disgorge their secrets.
Even on a first read, this is powerful and disturbing.
The book itself is a gorgeous piece of art. Deceptive, however, a siren who beckons into a bleak world.
The fragrance of Helen Vaughan lingers in this.

Last web series/tv show seen

Thanks, guys.
I have the remaining Witcher episodes of S01, so I’ll probably watch.
Being based on a series of books tempts me more. Original series based on writing rooms, I shun.
Don’t know about Witcher S02 and beyond. Looking at Wiki, it appears the books have concluded.
Usually, I stick with shows one season, maybe two.
I watched all of Game Of Thrones, and God do I wish I hadn’t.

Last web series/tv show seen

The Witcher
I have watched one episode of “The Witcher,” and it seems like a YA version of “Game Of Thrones,” albeit heavier on magic and monsters.
I’m on the fence with this, and would appreciate comments from other OT members who have finished S01.
One song in particular drew me to the series and it has become stuck in my head, so some of you may want to beware.

Last movie seen

I would be happy if someone could excise the Rico-Ibanez-Barcalow triangle.
Nothing satirical there, just teen pap.
Not sure what bonus footage was in the DVD. The “extra” I returned to was always the commentary.
The third film has the power suits, but, if I recall properly, insufficient budget to show a company of troopers wearing them.
No, I never had an issue with the satire.
Moreover, should someone incorporate 45’s “space command” comments into an edit, then excellent, most excellent.

Last movie seen

I hesitate posting reviews here, which would resemble a flood
Nonetheless, this is a recent one and a suggestion for editors.
Believe me, I have searched for no-nonsense version. Where is Maniac when you need him?

Starship Trooper - 1997 - 6/10

Near-future Earth finds itself at War with planet Klendathu.
A few whisper we were the provocateurs, infringing on Klendathu territory.
Hardly cause for them to annihilate a major Earth city!
Patriotism surges, high schoolers enlist, and, whether they remember their training or not, few soldiers survive.
Intense battle sequences coupled with black satire aid this flawed SciFi.

I saw this theatrically and I remember how, at work, we jeered the soap opera romances, clichéd boot camp, and the deadly accuracy of bug farts against the sneering fleet.
Aside from Rasczak and Carl, most characters are ignorant fools, including the top brass.
Still, over the years I’ve rewatched this … what …a dozen times? More? The pezhead and his guilty pleasure.
I speed through the Rico-Ibanez-Barcalow twaddle, linger over Dizzy, and ask myself why, oh why, oh why, has no one in the fan-edit world ever given this gem an adult overhaul.

What are you reading?

Bukowski, Charles - The Captain Is Out To Lunch And The Sailors Have Taken Over The Ship

Publisher John Martin persuaded Bukowski, very late in his career, to keep a journal.
This came out posthumously.
Lot of comments about the racetrack, his neighborhood, ailments.
Some repetition, and there would be long lapses between entries (can’t tell if that was Bukowski or the editor).
One gets the feeling the writer knew his time was winding down, and he seemed to find less enjoyment in everything. Not that he was ever the beacon of merriment. As always, his observations are merciless, and skewer the facades we hide behind.
A quick read - no Chinaski - may prove better for hard fans.
Fabulous drawings by sympathetic soul, Robert Crumb.

What are you reading?

Various (Editor: Morgan, Robert) - The Pale Illuminations

To be fair, Robert’s overview on his website captures these tales concisely.
Four longish stories that land within the “folk horror” category.
Bell’s “Labyrinth” tracks a graduate student, researching a paper on pagan sites dating from pre-Roman times, specifically the worship of Proserpina. As she pushes deeper into back country, she begins to wonder if a lingering trace survives.
Valentine’s “A Chess Game At Michaelmas” catches an unexpected match with the king.
Although set around a wooded French area, Oliver’s “The Old Man Of The Woods” seems the least folk tinged, and is more a cursed tale.
“Cropmarks” by John concerns an abandoned church, now used for Wiccan purposes. While I read, absorbed throughout, I had scant sympathy, let alone empathy for any of the characters. Their behavior borders on antics.
As with most Sarob Press titles, this quickly went OP. Copies can still be found at more or less reasonable prices from the reputable dealers.
Excellent book, this.

What are you reading?

Dick, Philip K - Collected Stories: Vol 1 The King Of The Elves

After being disappointed by writers that tried hard to impress, yet seemed incapable of “storytelling,” I pulled out a thick tome from a master.
The earliest stories shine forth on a gleaming future, as humankind builds perfection.
Across this initial collection, however, Dick’s output darkened and SciFi utopia became dystopia.
“The Little Movement” catches a diminutive, would-be dictator before the reign.
An assassin is sent back in time to liquidate a future problem in “Expendable.” To his peril, he slowly sees rifts in the ordinary world.
“The Variable Man” is accidentally brought to a future of deadly conflict, and his presence upsets the space/time continuum.
The title story finds one Shadrach James as he befriends the weary king of the elves and his battered entourage and army. In gratitude, the king bequeaths honors and burdens.
“Colony” is a black gem of colonists and a perfect world.

What are you reading?

Smith, Farah Rose - Of One Pure Will

Early on, this book irked me and I had difficulty reading it for enjoyment.
In the Introduction, the guest writer attempted to give insight and background details.
Puffy intros are common enough, yet this elaborated, giving pointers to “how” and “what” to read.
“As you are reading, ask yourself the following questions …”
I was in back in English 101, listening to a condescending professor.
Some may view this as illumination, others as spoon-feeding. I was of the latter.
How about the stories themselves? The majority are not stories per se, but prose poems.
Most detail dystopian alternate realities of pain, blood and dissolution.
If aiming for the Aesthete style, the writing is dense, though not particularly beautiful, with imagery that alternately enhances and detracts from the proceedings.
Elegant dream fragments, akin to a fractured diamond, but not classic storytelling.
The one that comes closest is “Sorcerer Machine,” though the finish was so dissatisfying I wanted to toss the book across the room.
As is often when I have such a negative reaction, I check other reviews afterward.
Mixed. Even Mr Lewis’ comments struck me as carefully chosen.

Guide to Downloading Projects from Usenet

Update -
OK, I still don’t know jack about free-usenet.
Online reviews have proved to be elusive, or in my case, non-existent.
Yeah, and I know the Fight Club rule about Usenet. Tell that to Reddit or any open forum joint (like OT).
Anyway, for you curious souls, speed for freeloaders works out to 100 kb.
You got a three hour time limit until it expires.
Beforehand expiration, you better hit PAUSE on NZBGet or you’ll receive fails.
These affect the “health” of the file. Once health falls below 90%, it’s all over, Barney.
That said, I’ve been doing OK. I’ve nabbed a few items that were 2 years old.
The retention for free-usenet is damn good.
By comparison, I had tried XSUsenet several years ago.
Their retention for moochers went from 1000 days to 100 to 10.
I went back to more reliable eMule and private tracker torrents.
All in all, my experience with free-usenet has been alright, although I would still like to hear others’ interactions with this outfit before I pony up cash.

Guide to Downloading Projects from Usenet

I have played around with the NZBGet + Free-Usenet set-up.
Fairly straightforward. Thank you, Bluto.
I have had a high fail rate, however, and I wonder about if the 3 hour time limit affects this.
(I’m seldom around when the expiration hits, and then the warnings mount.)
Free-Usenet has extremely reasonable prices for Block accounts, and I am tempted.
I cannot find any sort of review for this news server.
Has anyone used something beyond the free account, and can you provide feedback?

Guide to Downloading Projects from Usenet

Sigmoid said:

Hey dear people. Thanks for the great information, I was under the firm impression that usenet as a thing has been shut down a few years back.

I am a big user of Emule, which many also assume is dead.
Both Usenet and Emule are off radar, to me a very good thing.
Bluto, could you talk a little about “retention”?
I was a free user of Usenet back when Mysterbin was around, but retention limits finally pushed me towards Email and private tracker torrent groups.

Who Have You Met?


I once met Roger Ebert in the middle of the Atlantic, trapped somewhat.  I cornered him in a bar and walked up.  Doubtless, he braced himself for a round of questions about CITIZEN KANE, which he had lectured on earlier that day.  Or he wondered if I would ask why Gene Siskel had been acting so peculiar.  This was when Siskel was showing effects of the undisclosed brain tumor.
I inquired about neither.
"Say, on the audio commentary of FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL KILL, Russ Meyer said you and he were developing a new script."
Ebert's wary smile shifted to an expression of utter horror.  "I ... I don't know anything about that,"  he stammered.
Behind him, a woman, his bride it turned out, swiveled round on a bar stool.  "Someone talking about Mr, Meyer, honey?"  she grinned.
Ebert, the influential critic, trapped in a bar, on a boat, between a merciless spouse and a trash aficionado.
"Have you ever seen VALLEY  DOLLS?"  She gave me a wink.
"BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS,"  he muttered.   She winked again.
"Actually,"  I hesitated,  "I own it ... on VHS ... and laserdisc."
"A connoisseur!"  she clapped her hands and laughed aloud.
"Anyway, Russ said the new film was going to titled THE JAWS OF LORNA.  Is this going to be a sequel?  What's the plot?  How is Russ, anyway?"
"He's a crazy old man.  Look, I gotta lie down,"  Ebert excused himself.  And yes, he did look unwell.  Alcohol did not mix with rolling swells.
So staggered off my golden opportunity to discuss Russ Meyer, King of the Girlie Flicks.
Two days later, Ebert joked about his lurid screenwriting past in a round table discussion, so perhaps I simply caught him in off moment.