New Acquisition

A beauty, no? I got it on ebay for $1.04. This isn’t the actual photo, but a stock image from the net. The ebay photos don’t seem to be jpegs and I haven’t received the item yet. My mother had one of these in the 70’s and I remember they were quite good machines. Maybe not an IBM Selectric level of awesome, but still very good machines.

Last year I had bought a manual Royal Epoch manual typewriter. It seemed to be put out to prove the epoch of the typewriter was dead and you should give up on it. It was pretty crappy, clunk and you needed powerful fingers indeed to get out coherent sentences.

Last Thursday I got off work and went to Staples and purchased one of the last still manufactured electric typewriters, the Royal Scriptor Electric Typewriter. This thing was a hot mess from the start. First the margins couldn’t be set to where the paper was to be inserted, but insisted on starting and inch off paper even though the instructions clearly marked where to insert the paper. Then (and get this) no key hit produced that mark on the paper. You hit ‘Y’ and you would get & or p or ? or anything – M was e or 5 or whatever. Completely scatological. Called Royal and guys says “Yep, defective, return it to store.” Which I did for a refund.

So I await my SC Electra.

I found a Remington Quiet-Riter in good working order at an antique store today, but I am holding out for this baby.

Olivetti was the Lamborghini of typewriters until the retardation of man through computers. I know, I know, I say this from behind a computer screen, and if I didn’t have it you would never read me saying this. I don’t care, I say it anyway.

Regardless, that is a beautiful machine right there. I hope to slowly amass a small fleet of them keeping at least a couple functional for writing until I can’t get away with it anymore. I write a little with a computer, but it simply isn’t the same. I’ve tried for years but I can’t get around it.

I am too Catholic, I require the body as well as the mind. The book, the idea, the spirit is already in my mind. Typing to a computer keyboard is really the experience of it going from spirit to some other spirit. It is like a wish unfulfilled. The thought not made flesh. Yes, you could hit the print button after a session, but it is already too late. None of it is really physical until the printer barfs it out. I seek an immediacy, a physicality like ink from a fountain to a page.

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What? Where Have I Been?

I am having a hard time connecting my life to this blog. I go weeks forgetting about it altogether. I think it is a general disconnect from moving shock. After all, outside of family and friends, there was no continuity with my other moves (Arizona to Wisconsin, Wisconsin to Washington). This, my blog, would be a continuity.

I am still adjusting to living in North Carolina. It is a bigger cultural change than I have done before.

Although Asheville, NC is really just a small version of Portland Oregon. They have the drum circles, the unbathed hippies, the homeless, the skanky vegan chicks, the hoity-toity eating and reading establishments. And it is so “woke” in its bullshit progressiveness. Indeed I think this place may be more wretched than the posh districts of the Seattle area and Portland. After all, it was not until I moved here that I encountered bumper-stickeres that read “Vaginatarian” That would be someone that EATS PUSSY. The cars are not owned by men.

It is actually just the downtown area that reeks so. I live in the south end of Asheville. More normal. There are a few things I like about the area. The thing I like most is the Basilica of Saint Lawrence Deacon and Martyr.

Current reads are Bishop Barron’s: To Light a Fire on the Earth. Thomas Ligotti’s: Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe. G.K. Chesterton’s: Father Brown Crime Stories: 24 Short Mysteries.

And, lastly, Chris Fox’s Six Figure Author. This last one is interesting and worrisome. It is sort of exciting that one could actually write and steer their own career. but if one reads it closely, one gets the feeling you hit this level of sales by being mediocre. The starving artist inside me rages against the indignity of being a barometer for what other people want. It doesn’t seem to be a formula for success.

That depends, though, on how we define success. If it is measured merely by the means of money, then being the middle of any ground will get you there. And then it will get you out of there as the crowd moves on. And what are you stuck with then? Not a work of soul. Then again, the popular entertainment hasn’t moved in over a decade so maybe the same old shit sells as good today as it did a generation ago. Things appear to be in a hold and repeat pattern. Just look at all the remakes or reboots.

Current Reading

First, I finished Sophia House. If you haven’t read the excellent Father Elijah then there is no sense in reading this first. Sophia House is a (sort of) prequel to Father Elijah that would not work if read sequentially.

Since this is the day and age where you can find out everything yourself with a click, take my recommendation, read up on it in Amazon, decide for yourself. I thought the payoff way well worth the read. Don’t the long philosophical discussions turn you off, they serve the theme at the end.

Now, onto NOT TO MENTION CAMELS. I have owned this book for four years and, being depressed over missing the third LaffCon, decided to go ahead and jump into what some say is his most bizarre and impenetrable book.

I take that as a challenge, sir. I still can’t say what some of the stuff I’ve read of his is about!

Current Reads

Quick post about current reads.

Prequel to Father Elijah: An Apocalypse that I read last year:

So far at 80% done there is far too much talk and not enough things happening. But I shall wait to the end.

Next is a bit of theology. It is a high school text from the 1930’s, and while simple on that level the questions at the end of each chapter are really antiquated. Meaning, they require that you have digested the material and require you to look further.

And lastly, after I finish up Sophia House, I am getting into this one. I saw it at Mr. K’s Used Books in Asheville last week. I remember it being mentioned by someone somewhere and I had mentally marked it and forgot about it.

Count to Infinity

Finished COUNT TO INFINITY the other day. I didn’t think Wright was going to be able to pull off any cathartic ending. But he did! For all the info dumps and the super technicality of the whole thing (the hard science fictional nature of the material) he managed to pull off an emotionally satisfying (albeit too brief, imho) ending.

If you like far out hard science fiction, you can now read this whole series. I read it and it was good!

Finally Decided on a Bible and Those Clowns! Clowns!

For awhile now I have been seeking to acquire a reading Bible that I could call my own. I say a reading Bible as opposed to the Douay-Rheims & Clementina Vulgata edition, an old 70’s family bible (it has wonderful script in it and art) and the numerous other versions I have through Verbum software. The first two are large sized books and thick. The others are digital and I usually use them for reference. And a couple of them are not even in English.

Part of the search was easy because you can disregard a large number of modern versions that make for terrible reading. And while the KJV (with apocrypha, of course) sounds the most impressive, it is really only because of the arcane language.

I had spent some time trying to find a nice old one with the nice leather but usually those found were from individual churches from Nebraska in 1846 and they usually smelled like mildew. That, and they are usually written in, “To Martha, God Bless.” Well, I’m not Martha.

It turns out the people who published my DR-Clementina Vulgata, Baronius Press, also put out a nice pocket size Douay-Rheims in leather, smythe sewn, head and tail bands, gilded pages, decorative endpages and satin ribbon markers. I chose the burgundy. Because I like it.

Another important feature that I required was the artwork inside. I had bought a pocket sized NAB translation (not my first choice, btw) about a year ago. If it had not been sealed, I would have seen the “artwork” inside and not purchased it. It looked like the hokey artwork I remember from bible camp as a child. It shouldn’t look like those nutty comics that used to circulate in the 70’s for children with the cheesy Jesus in artwork that was borderline cartoon.

I like the black and white sketch work in this one. Here’s a sample. You have to click on it to see (I don’t know why).

That book only cost me $10 and its quality showed. My new one is $40 – and I think it’s a steal.

I had to sacrifice a little. I prefer some wording more than others. I never liked 2 Timothy 4:1 stated “the living and the dead” when “the quick and the dead” is simply better. I mean come on, people, get a dictionary. But the Douay-Rheims is still a good translation.

CLOWNS!

On the writing front I’ve been revamping my clown story from 2015. Those wascally clowns are going to cause a little more mayhem than we anticipated! The actual writing for that is scheduled for tomorrow.

I also went through all my past unfinished writing projects and came up with ways to get them to the finish line. Funny thing is, almost all of them had potential for further work. If I shrink the amount of time I leave them in the drawer by 7 or 13 years, I could get some regular stuff out the door. However, The Five Deaths of Horace Gumble still has several months to wait in the brine.

The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard

Most people know Robert E.Howard as the guy who wrote the Conan stories. Most people have only seen the Conan movie. I hadn’t read anything by the man (at least I can’t remember reading him growing up). So I thought I would read some of his horror stories as I am a horror fan.

I have only read two stories and a poem in it so far. But so far I like it. There is definite Lovecraft-like feel to the material, but I think more substance. He has that knack for creating imagery like Poe. Take this narrative example.

Look, Messieurs, I draw a map on the table, thus, with finger dipped in wine.

Such a simple sentence and such a stark image. One needn’t the room the person, nor anything else, althought that is already there. This single sentence forms a lasting image brilliant in its simplicity.

This will be fun times!

IT – Postscript

SPOILERS!

I finally finished IT by Stephen King tonight. Took almost a solid month. But at 1477 pages that is about four regular sized novels in a month so… not bad.

First the bad. I could have done without the chapter with the prepubescent gang bang. I think King must have put a giant rail up his nose that night. The kids lost in the underground sewers after thinking they have defeated IT but they have lost their “magic” upon defeating their foe and cannot find their way out of the maze of tunnels. So Beverly, eleven years old, suggests a different sort of magic. And coaxes her six male friends to take turns fucking her one by one. This serves as the reinvigorated magic that leads them out of the sewer system.

I am not joking. Oh sure, he makes it sound “nicer” than my brief description and uses the word ‘love’ and I suppose they all loved each other in their child-like ways.

But dude, these are eleven year-olds! Six boys taking a ride on single eleven year old girl. One of them is actually mature enough to achieve orgasm. And I had to read how sticky and sore Beverly’s thighs were.

That’s fucked up right there. I could have done without that.

The theme is both in the vein of C.S. Lewis and King’s familiar refrain of the importance of friendship and love (which would have stood perfectly fine without the kiddie orgy I talked about above). The Lewis vein is basically the kids defeated IT as children but did not destroy it. They defeated it as children open to magic. However, twenty-seven years later IT has healed or reawakened and by a promise they made they are sworn to come back to their small Maine town of Derry to try and destroy it once and for all. But now they are of middle-age. Can they destroy it now that their childhood magic has left them?

This plays out as best as one can do I suppose. What really worked for the book is the length, so you really got seeped into the town, the history of the town (all tied, in the crazy King way, with the clown Pennywise) and each of the characters. Also the multiple storylines that converged on the climax and the multiple storyline/time shifts so you were following two or three separate storylines paralleled decades apart. I read on Amazon reviewer complaints about this and that it was confusing and messed up the story. Stick to Green Eggs and Ham, kids. That was easy to follow and added tension.

I also liked the way he made the time shifts flow into one another. So, perhaps a chapter ended by one of the characters in 1958 calling, “Eddie!” and the next chapter, starting with Eddie turning around but in 1985. It was not time-travelling merely shuffling between two different points in time. I liked that.

Along with such books of his like Christine and The Tommyknockers King repeats his thematic accent on the importance of friendship and the pain of its loss. Here the touch was bitter sweet because (SPOILER!!) the loss was through amnesia after the defeat of IT. I also like how the amnesia was so woven through both timelines that when the final forgetting and the loss of the friendships started at the end it seems natural, inevitable, and, therefore, sad.

It was a good, long read. You have to be a reader of faith however because the journey is long. I have faith King would pay me off and he did. Even if he turned my stomach with the kid sex thing.

Addendum to Prior Post and more IT

Despite my prior post denigrating much of the 20th century literature, I must say that there is much that I did like. This didn’t really occur to me until further into the day after my doses of caffeine started to kick in. But most of what I did like was the second half of the twentieth century, the first half I still regard as pretty sad.

As a lifelong bibliophile who goes through books like Michael Moore goes through buckets of KFC, I simply forget a lot of what I have read. Because even more than the stories themselves, with exceptions, I enjoy reading as an activity.

I dislike intensely the icons of the early and mid twentieth century. Hemingway bores me to tears, as does Steinbeck and Lewis – Sinclair, not C.S. Even Ayn Rand (who I was an ardent fan of for years) is of this strict realism school. Her saving grace from the world of boredom was her attempt to produce the ideal man – indeed The Ideal.

So I did like Rand, and I still think that The Fountainhead was an excellently written book even if full of some heinous ideas (and some good ones). So there is her. And I like Flannery O’Connor. I remember liking Aldous Huxley’s After Many a Summer quite a lot. That book, however, was not full of your run o’ the mill characters, nor was the plot. There was some Australian author who I liked also from the mid 20th century whose name escapes me at the moment. I liked Margret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. I am sure there are others I am failing to drudge up.

But there was little that compared to 19th century literature. Much like painting and art in general, it just wasn’t as good. No one compared to Hugo and Dostoyevsky, nor Dickens or Austen. It is like van Gogh to Caravaggio – I mean, come on.

For the most part. But I am of the opinion that the twentieth century belonged to the genres. That is where the imagination, the speculation, went to live. And I got more reflection out of Frederik Pohl’s The World at the End of Time than in most anything else of the twentieth century literature I read.

That said.

I will sometimes scan reviews of books I am about to read or am in the middle of reading for curiosity at times. And I did that with Stephen King’s IT. Five star reviews I never read, what one loves another can hate. I always go for the one star reviews.

Among the complaints is that it is too long and that King goes into too much detail. It is a 1200 or so page book and at page 133, he is not yet done introducing the cast of characters. Not that there are an overwhelming number of them, nor is the character sketches entirely deep, but King likes to put a lot of concrete detail about one’s youth, family, childhood traumas, and what is in one’s medicine cabinet (not the most telling detail, but it can tell something, no?). It took about twenty pages to get done introducing one character only to have him slit his wrists in the tub upon receiving the phone call. Bye bye.

Now despite this it is Stephen King, people. He is my guilty pleasure read because I like horror and you can slam through one of his books (no matter the size) pretty quickly. After reading some esoteric chapter on ancient Jewish conceptions of the afterlife, or trying to figure out some Lafferty story I just read, King is a relaxation. And he has a way of connecting with a reader that almost never fails. They are usually through common human bonds that only a misanthrope would fail to register. I mean his book Christine (and for that matter, The Tommyknockers) is about friendship not really about some demonically possessed car.

But I cannot believe some people simper that the book is too long and King doesn’t “get to the point.” These kids (and I suppose they must be of the iPhone generation) would never be able to read, for instance, the unabridged Les Miserables. I think, if memory serves, there is even a thirty-some page description on glass manufacturing in it that has no bearing on the story itself. I think there were quite a few asides in there like that that I skipped over after awhile. Or the two and a half page paragraph, or seventeen pages of description (talking of books in general back then) with absolutely no dialogue.

They couldn’t do it. Could they keep reading long enough for Raskolnikov to commit his heinous crime? Or how about all that book that comes after? How boring! Oh shit, How about The Idiot? What the hell is that about when you are on page fifty? Anybody?

Tolstoy’s War and Peace? They would glaze over by page six, “Oh dear God! Will a Transformer please show up or something! I’m so bored right now!”

If Stephen King is too long and plodding for you, put down the book, go watch the movie. Leave the reading to the readers.