Saturday, December 30, 2006

More bloodlust whee

Does the general gloating and exuberance over Saddam Hussein's execution squick me out? Oh you better believe it does. I'm not even going to include the usual mandatory "he was a bad person blah blah blah" caveats. I'm sure if you scour the internets carefully, you can already find trace amounts of that. I won't say anything about the reactions of anyone who lived under his regime, but I do think that the orgiastic celebrations here in the US are just another symptom (albeit a totally predictable one) that we live in a deeply diseased culture.

Update: this is a good summation of my feelings.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-19

I am going to keep this up if it kills me. Although then I'd have to stop. So hopefully after rather than before.

Frank is kicking around Mexico, not really accomplishing much of anything. He meets a guy named Ewball Oust, from a monied family, who is a metallurgist of some kind. They talk about methods of refining silver and shit. They also talk about the whole argentaurum/Iceland spar thing. Then, the two of them wander around some more. Doing what, is not exactly clear to me. Frank has vivid dreams of Deuce Kindred. Then, suddenly, they're taken into custody for reasons they don't understand. OH NOES! They get put in a prison camp for political dissidents. There, they meet a guy named Dwayne Provecho, who narrates apocalyptic visions to them. Ewball, mysteriously, has money, so the prison experience isn't that bad. There's a whole sprawling community there. Remember when the annoying hero in Cormac McCarthy's annoying novel All the Pretty Horses gets put in a prison camp/community place in Mexico? Fuck that was annoying. God I hate McCarthy. Anyway, this isn't much like that, but I thought I'd mention it for no good reason.

Dwayne thinks Frank is the Kieselguhr Kid. He had apparently spoken to Ellmore Disco, who also believed this. So did Bob Meldrum. Frank alleges otherwise.

So anyway, they eventually decide to go ahead and escape, because why not. They pass a bunch of corpses hanging up, but actually getting out is weirdly easy.

I don't understand the next series of events one hundred percent, so I'm just going to try to get through it. Apparently, although maybe not, Dwayne captures Frank and Ewball for some anarchist group led by some individual identified only as "El Ñato." Although it seems to be a weirdly non-binding sort of captivity. I guess they want Frank's explosive skills. There's some plan afoot to blow up a mint and steal silver but, Frank points out, the logistics of bringing along enough mules to carry enough silver to make such a venture worthwhile are really impractical.

From an overhead vantage point, they witness some Indians being chased into a cave by...people who want to kill them. Look, just GO with me here, okay? Ewball suggests that everyone else go on, and he and Frank will catch up later. Ewball is a crack shot, as it turns out, and, with a few non-fatal shots, is able to scare the assailants off. The two of them part ways. Frank goes down to check on the Indians, who are grateful and stuff. The man is some sort of shaman; one of the women is his wife; the other, her younger sister. Her name is Estrella, which is the same as the real name of Reef's erstwhile lover, Stray. For some reason, Frank is really, really struck by this.

In a mountain cavern, there is a large crystal. Look in, the shaman (called "El Espinero) suggests. Frank does, and sees a vision of Sloat Fresno. And this shows him exactly where Sloat must be. No Deuce, however.

El Espinero gives Frank a hallucinogenic cactus to eat of. It makes him violently ill, and then he has a vision of flying around, with an Estrella who is both Estrellas as his guide. In a cave where it is raining, she explains: the desert is dry to punish people who got greedy and misused all the water. So instead, it all goes in this cave.

They part ways. Frank goes north. In a small town, he enters a bar, and there's Sloat Fresno. With no delay, and in an emotionless, dispassionate way, he shoots him several times, and leaves him dead.

I'm sorry that this summary sucked even more than usual, but this chapter just never fucking ended; it wound around all fucking over the place, and it made me crazy. Things should be a little more normal now, other than the fact that I'm trying to work my way through a rather sizable backlog, so things aren't as crystal-clear in my mind as they ought to be.


Endless duckfuckery

Seriously, the nuttiness is coming so fast I can barely keep up.

I. Um. I. Fucking WOW. You've got to admire the chutzpah. I want to SAY something about this, but I'm afraid nothing I could come up with could possibly do it justice. And why does Pelosi look like Siouxsie Sioux? As with much Mallardiana, it is a mystery!

So which do you think is more likely: that Tinsley REALLY wanted to decry the shameful censorship of vegans and Marxists...or that he was so completely blasted while he was writing that he lost the thread of what he was saying between speech balloons, moving mid-thought from bashing academia to randomly listing people he hates? I know which side my money's on!

UPDATE: okay, okay--now I see that he must have meant "me" to be the first item in the list that includes "minorities," "vegans," and "Marxists." You can hardly blame me for not getting it, though. The way this little snippet of doggerel is written, it's counterintuitive to assume that there's supposed to be a comma rather than a dash separating the two. I don't know why Tinsley's been so obsessed with including horrible "poetry" in his comics lately, but he really needs to stop. He's even worse at it than he is at his usual shtick.

God knows what it is he imagines, in his diseased brain, that colleges are censoring to avoid offending Marxists and vegans (two great tastes that taste great together?), but what I'd *really* like to see is a series bemoaning all the racist things that he wants to say but can't for fear of offending minorities. What a barrel o' laughs that would be! And honestly, barely different than what he's been doing for years. Hey Tinz--your party's in the minority now. No need to bother with the thin veneer of PR-necessitated civility. G'wan and wallow in your hatred like a big fat piggie. You know you want to.

CORRECTION: a big fat drunken piggie.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-18

Reef Traverse is living an itinerant kind of life with Stray and their son, traveling around, card-sharping, engaging in unlikely get-rich-quick schemes. This, however, is all cover for his anarchist, blowing-stuff-up activities. Stray is none too pleased when she learns of this, although she indicates that she'll stay with him through thick and thin.

He heads up to Denver towards look for Frank, but only narrowly escapes being crushed in an avalanche that, he presumes, was started with the purpose of killing him. So he returns, but he doesn't feel he can stay where he is, so he leaves his lover and child and, disguised as "East Coast nerve case Thrapston Cheesely III" (367), travels around. He takes up for a while with a touring Englishwoman named Ruperta Chirpingdon-Groin, but in New Orleans, they fight, and that's that. The band in the bar where they're staying is "Dope" Breedlove and his Merry Coons. Reef introduces himself to them during their break, and it turns out--surprise--that they're all involved in anarchist activities of one sort or another. There's an Irish revolutionary named Wolfe Tone O'Ronney, and an explosives guy named Flaco. Wolfe is headed to Mexico; Flaco to the Mediterranean; he convinces Reef to come with him.

Man, I owned this section.


Against the Blog: 2-17

For the last few days, I've had no internet access but much Pynchon access, so I'm way behind here. So if these next few seem somewhat cursory, that may be the reason. Or, it may just be that I'm extremely lazy. Difficult to say.

Dally Rideout is off to New York. Soon after getting there, she makes friends with a waitress/aspiring actress named Katie, who helps her out by getting her a job as the "victim" in public enactments of white slavery tableaux--being captured by evil Chinese fiends. She meets R. Wilshire Vibe, who says she should be in his plays. She goes to his offices, where she gets a job from a guy named Con McVeety, holding up cards to introduce various acts. Con, it turns out, has a reputation for booking the absolute worst acts in the city. So she does that for a while.

Eventually, she is invited to one of R's parties, to which she invites Katie also. In order to make her more presentable, Katie brings her to a department store, where her mind is boggled by big-city things like escalators and mirrors. I have to call bullshit on that last one; it is impossible for me to imagine that, throughout her lengthy and far-ranging peregrinations with her father, she never encountered mirrors before.

At the store, she glimpses a woman who she is sure is her mother. But it's just a glimpse.

At the party, a man gets her drunk and tries to take her captive, but she is rescued by one of the party's acts, the great Luca Zombini--whose assistant and wife, Erlys, is, you will recall, her mother. With no apparent fuss, she is integrated into the Zombini family. Luca and Erlys have a bunch of kids, who are being brought up in the most magical environment possible.

We learn from Luca--a detail which will no doubt prove important later--that he has a technique where--using that good ol' Iceland spar--he can actually duplicate a subject; make one person into two. But reintegrating the two? He thought that would be easy, but, as it turns out, not so much. He has done this to "maybe two or three" people. Who? We don't know. I will note, however, that Scarsdale Vibe and Foley Walker have previously been talked about as if they are the same person.

At the end of the chapter, Erlys reveals that Merle isn't Dally's biological father; that honor goes to the guy he stole her from, the long-dead Bert Snidell.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More Mallard

Yes. Goldangit, the Republicans just weren't rabidly conservative enough. Maybe if they'd invaded the shit out of just one more random country, or interfered in the affairs of one more dying woman, things would have turned out differently. Sigh...dream a little dream. Of course, I have no doubt that Tinsley would be every bit as vociferous in his criticism of the goopers had they won last month. Can there be any doubt?

One more thing: Compared to some of the people at places like dailykos, my political junkiedom is pretty mild, but I still find it strange that I have no idea who the fuck this "Pence" person he wants for President is. Okay, that's not really true; a google search reveals that it's probably this guy. I assume this is Tinz's congressman, but seriously--what the hell is he smoking? When's the last time a representative has been elected President? Has it ever happened? I certainly hope that the fact that Tinsley is floating this random, unknown guy for President is an indicator of just how shallow the gop field is. Yeah yeah--not that the Dems are all that much stronger in that regard. Help us, Al Gore--you're our only hope!


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-16

Kit is not happy at Yale, having decided that the place is "no more really than a sort of high-hat technical school for learning to be a Yale Man" (318). Also, his own goal of becoming a vectorist (don't ask me. And google's no help either) does not dovetail with Vibe's goals for him--too abstract/unworldly.

He is awakened from a dream about his father because Professor Vanderjuice wants to see him. Vanderjuice has a letter for him, already opened by somebody, from Lake, bearing the tidings of their father's death. He feels like crying, but doesn't. None of the Vibes ask about his father or provide condolences or anything, even though they presumably are aware.

Gazing out at Long Island through a telescope, Kit sees a tower being built--by Nikola Tesla, Vanderjuice confirms. One of his transmitter thingies. Why was Vibe funding Tesla while at the same time paying Vanderjuice to sabotage him? It is a mystery! Anyway, Vanderjuice never really did much of anything per se, he reveals.

Kit wants out of all this--the longer the Vibes support him, the more he'll owe them. But how? They're trying to corrupt you, suggests Vanderjuice. If you want to get out, he further suggests, you should should try going to Germany--there are loads of cutting-edge mathy, physicsy things going on there you could get involved with.

He and Colfax Vibe sail over to see the tower and meet Tesla. A big ol' storm blows up, but they make it there in one piece. Two pieces, I guess. Tesla is cordial, and relates a story about how he was out in the mountains, and took refuge from the rain in a cave--but the rain never came, and he understood that it would take a precise electrical discharge to trigger it--and right then, all his transmitter-related ideas were complete; he only needed to wait.

They head back to New York. Kit is gloomy. Could Colfax, perhaps, say that he was killed in the storm and allow him to slip away? Not likely, because Scarsdale's agents are everywhere. Perhaps, Colfax suggests, you could claim that the storm was some sort of epiphany to you, and you vowed that, if you survived, you would go to study in Germany. "Kind of, I don't know, math pilgrimage" (329). Colfax knows that people hate his father, maybe for good reason, but still--he is his father.

Scarsdale, in spite of much sublimated rage, lets Kit go. Then, he gives an alarming speech about how the world is going to hell thanks to the anarchists and pagans and non-whites. What is to be done?

And on that ominous note...


This is NOT FUNNY.

Against the Blog: 2-15

The next day, Frank is looking to rent a horse to head up to see Merle. He encounters Ellmore Disco, who warns him that it would be wise to stay away from Bob Meldrum. Frank is unsure why Bob should have it in for him, as am I.

He meets Merle and his daughter Dahlia ("Dally") at the Little Hellkite. There's a lot of half-good-natured conflict between father and daughter about what exactly they're doing at a dangerous and not-that-pleasant place like this. Merle explains that he knew and liked Frank's father, and that he's sympathetic to Frank's desire for revenge. But, he says, word has gotten around that he's in town, and people want him gone.

Dally returns from errands, with the news that Bob is coming for Frank, and immediate egress is necessary. Merle sends her to escort him back to town through an escape tunnel. Exiting the mine, they ride an ore bucket back into town. Whee!

She takes him to a place called the Gallows Frame Salloon, where they have a dance. In the end, she takes him to a brothel called the Silver Orchid, where there's a vacant room where he can lie low for the time. At some point, Merle had decided that the best way to impart some sort of sex education on his daughter would be to send her to spend time there--I really can't tell if this is as an observer or participant, though I'm hoping the former. The other way's just too sordid. The Madame, Peg, imparts this useful advice: "Never, ever put money on the needs of men getting too complicated, least any more than, oh, say, the rules of blackjack" (303). During this sojourn, Dally buys a gun and become a crack shot.

Frank's "room" turns out to be a tiny alcove behind a false fireplace. He tries to sleep, until he is awakened around midnight by Merle, who wants to show him something. They go outside. There is, Merle says, a scientist named Dr. Stephen Emmens, in New York, who has a technique where he takes some silver alloy with just a tiny bit of gold in it ("argentaurum," it's called), and pounds on it until the gold content starts to increase. Merle has a small piece of this stuff--and also a thin, translucent piece of Iceland spar. He directs Frank to look at the argentaurum through the spar, and when he does, whoa--the nugget resolves itself into two nuggets, one of gold and one of silver. This process could completely cripple the world economy, Merle notes. Why, Frank wonders, are you showing me this? As indeed the reader might wonder. Merle only provides cryptic and unhelpful answers, however.

There are tommyknockers living in the mine. Having their own civilization. Stealing dynamite. A local physician, Doc Turnstone, is skeptical, but Merle shows him them. I seriously don't know what this has to do with anything. Doc's first name is Willis, and a small snippet of this chapter was the bit that Penguin released as a preview before the book was published. He was trained as a chiropractor, and on his journey west, he encountered Jimmy Drop and his gang, but was spared violence when he fixes Jimmy's bad back. He drifts around for a while, finally taking work at the Miners' Hospital in Telluride. That's where he met Lake, with whom he was romantically connected before she met Deuce Kindred. This throw him into a slough of despondency. Jimmy offers to get rid of Deuce for him, but he declines, on the basis that Lake would just end up moping about it forever. Women! So emotional!

So anyway, he tells Frank about his involvement with his sister, and that she ran off with their father's killer. As you can imagine, Frank is not cool with this.

Ellmore Disco suggests that Frank could go undercover by disguising as a Mexican musician in a band. I don't play any instruments, Frank notes. All the members of this band joined to get out of trouble, Ellmore tells him. Don't worry about finesse; just go for volume. I'm paraphrasing here. So Frank becomes "Pancho the Bassoon Player," and gets sort of not-bad at it.

Dahlia Rideout is heading east to New York City to, you know, make her fortune or some shit. Frank suggests she should look up his brother Kit if she needs any assistance while there. Somewhat poignant section ending about father and daughter:

Neither of them had ever had much interest in breaking the other's heart. In theory they both knew she had to move on, though all he wanted right now was to wait, even just another day. But he knew that feeling, and he guessed it would pass. (317)


Monday, December 18, 2006

Walking into walls and making "duh" noises: it's the Williamsporter's way.

We have so-called "leaders" in Washington who delight in undermining our president and insist we need only "sit down and talk" with the Islamic fascists and make a few "trade offs".

I suppose it's "not necessary" to point "out" this letter's "most awesome feature." It is, "however," deeply satisfying "to me."

We don't have a "Tokyo Rose" in this war. Worse, we have the New York Times, the liberal media, 3/4 of the Democrat Party, 1/4 of the GOP and half the faculty of our public institutions of learning, cheering everytime someone of "importance" declares "We are losing this war......We can't win this war. Bush is the evil one!". Literally, "Booing the home team."

I have to say, I'd reeeeeally like to see some sourcing for these "quotes."

During WW II, even announcing the daily death counts for our enemies to know, heralding them as proof that we should tell President Roosevelt that "...we could not win the war against three enemies, (Japanese, Germans and Italians), and should bring the troops home," would have been considered verging on treason. Today, our enemies need only pick up the New York Times or look at the political cartoons in almost any newspaper or watch the evening news on TV, to get top secret military information and encouragement that the USA is about ready to give up.

Shit, dude--top secret military information! I hate to interrupt a perfectly good paranoid fugue, but I have to ask: shouldn't the military itself bear some responsibility for revealing classified information (of which I'd LOVE to see some examples, but never mind) to whatever random cartoonists happen to wander through the door?

This could be one of America's last years to openly celebrate Christmas. The ACLU's war on Christianity may be the least of our concerns. May the Lord open the eyes of our people!

I love the way he simply couldn't bring himself to leave out the War on Christmas™, even though it has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of his "argument." I am in all seriousness really curious about what is running through this man's mind--whether he actually has visions of armed guards tramping through the snowy streets, forcibly subduing anyone who dares breathe the C word, dancing through his head. Will he have the decency to feel sheepish when his dire premonitions fail to come to pass? Don't bet on it!

Bryan Boss

More genius Sun-Duhzette letter writers

I’m sorry, Mr. Xavier, I tend to agree, along with many other folks, with the man’s t-shirt that reads “welcome to America now speak English. In America we speak English, and I’m sure most Americans who don’t have a second language don’t appreciate hearing jibberish in another language.

OH NOES! "Jibberish" in another language! Does this writer seriously think that his myopic aesthetic idiosyncrasies should be the basis for US policy? Why does he apparently believe he has the RIGHT to listen in on strangers' conversations?

I work with the public, and what upsets me most the time is getting multi- culture people in my line who are in our America and don’t understand English whatsoever.

On the plus side for these immigrants, if they only have to learn the language up to this guy's standards, it shouldn't be too hard.

That is the point of those kind of t-shirts. Americans welcomed the mix of culture, but we wish that you would speak our language, that’s all.

Soooo...the point is "hi, I'm a xenophobic dickhead!" That works.

I don't expect to move to Puerto Rico and speak English and have Puerto Ricans be happy about it or even understand my language; the same respect should go here in America.

Yes. Here in America. As opposed to in Puerto Rico, which, of course, is NOT America. Puerto Ricans are most certainly NOT American citizens. And they would definitely be EXTREMELY UNHAPPY if they heard people speaking English, because English is NOT widely taught in Puerto Rican schools, and the majority of Puerto Ricans are NOT bilingual.

That should be the first thing they test immigrants on when they take the oath.

Oh, I don't know. Maybe having some rudimentary idea of what the United States actually IS should also be a high priority, eh?

C.J. Johnson

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-14

The show must go on.

Frank arrives in Telluride. Due to the presence of the substance in question, the town smells terrible. There's a famous gunslinger named "Hair-Trigger" Bob Meldrum in town; he's mostly deaf, and he's shot a lotta people. So be careful!

Frank wants to see the man in charge, a fellow named Ellmore Disco, a man who gets extremely upset if anyone disrespects his taste in hats. What he wants is for Ellmore to get him an appointment to see Bulkley Wells, the leader--I think--of the mine owners' association, or something. From Bulkley, he thinks, he can find out about Deuce and Sloat. But this is not easily arranged. We learn also that there are Japanese delegates in town, sent by the Emperor to meet with Bulkley. I think we should all be keeping the Iceland spar connection in mind here. Frank alleges that he has a new system for concentrating gold ore, for which he wants to see the man.

Ellmore takes Frank out to a Mexican restaurant to eat; while there, they see Bob Meldrum's wife, nicknamed La Blanca. Men have been known to hit on her--not thinking someone like Bob could be satisfying her--but then they generally meet with unfortunate ends. Be careful!

Frank returns to his room at the Sheridan for some zzz's. Bulkley Wells has remained inaccessible. But not too many, because soon Bob Meldrum is pounding on his door in an enraged fashion. He's looking for one of the Japanese delegates, whom he thinks slept with his wife. His rage gradually subsides when he realizes his mistake, and they go out for a drink. There is little chance, Bob says, of getting to see Wells, but look--here's Merle Rideout. You should talk to him about your alchemical schemes. Merle is not sold, but invites Frank to come up to the mine at Little Hellkite where he works the next day.

Oh no! Then the Japanese delegation enters the bar. They all have cameras (ha ha!), and commence to taking pictures, which are confused with gunfire and cause actual shots to be shot and loads of chaos.

Anyway, that's about all.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Jim Steinman

I know some people--totally insufferable people--are far too cool for stuff like this. But...fuck 'em. The man writes great songs. Sure, "tasteful restraint" is more or less a foreign concept for him, but that's part of the point--if it were, Bat Out of Hell certainly wouldn't have sold eighteen trillion copies.

I was thinking the other day about what a great song "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" really is. It may be the first thing critics think about when they think--derisively--of Meat Loaf, but seriously: it's not just catchy; it's smart and funny, also. It's not just about some horny kid wanting to get laid and being roped into an eternal obligation; it's about every horny kid's worst fears. In a sense, it's a tongue-in-cheek piece of propaganda; the "will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?/will you take me away will you make me your wife" part (I can neither confirm nor deny rumors that I have sung along with this section. Loudly. In public.) is every finger-wagging moralist lecturing you about how casual sex is Very Bad. Look what will happen to you! If you don't mean it, you'll be forced into a commitment that will be so horrible that you'll literally spend your every waking moment loudly praying for the heat death of the universe to get out of it. Never mind that this doesn't exactly seem to fulfill the spirit of the promise; the whole point is that you'll be suffering like a mofo. And why would she WANT to stay with him under these circumstances? Because she's an inscrutable female. Although we want to fuck her, we have a hard time conceiving of her as a human being like us; all she wants (although "want" really isn't the right word, since it implies agency, when really she's just a kind of natural force)--for reasons we cannot comprehend--is to ruin our lives.

Throw in the baseball commentary section, and you've got something very near genius.

Another much-maligned song: "I Would Do Anything for Love (but I won't do that)." WHAT DOES 'THAT' MEAN HUR HUR HUR. Yes, very clever. Not that it's particularly relevant, but to respond, the things he won't do are as follows: lie to you (and that's a fact), forgive himself if 'we' don't go all the way tonight, do it better than he does it with you, stop dreaming of you every night of his life (no way), see that it's time to move on, screw around. Sheesh, people. Just LOOK at it for a minute.

The song is about as over-the-top as it gets, but it's not as though that's easy to do. Planets turning, stars burning--and "sex and drums and rock and roll." When I first heard the song when I was a dopey kid, I thought, hey, that should be "drugs"! Censorship! But clearly, it wouldn't flow as well that way--you can't drag out the 'g' like you can the 'm.' The artfulness may get lost in the sturm und drang, but it's quite plainly there. And COME ON MAN: "Will you cater to every fantasy I've got?/Will you hose me down with holy water if I get too hot?" Somebody please tell me: in what sense is that not totally brilliant?

Also: "Wasted Youth." Seriously hilarious. So I took my guitar! I smashed it against the wall! I smashed it against the floor! I smashed it against the body of a varsity cheerleader! If that doesn't make you laugh...

And man: "Total Eclipse of the Heart," let's not forget he wrote. That mix of resolution and desperation in "forever's gonna start tonight"--oh yeah.

Meat Loaf personally is pretty embarrassing, I'll readily admit. But who cares about that? I'M GONNA HIT THE HIGHWAY LIKE A BATTERING RAM ON A SILVER-BLACK PHANTOM BIKE!

Living Hell

Sometimes, for reasons that elude us, we read "Annie's Mailbox," the deeply unhelpful advice column by a couple of random women who apparently had some connection to the late Ann Landers. Why can't I be an advice columnist? It's obviously not exactly taxing work. Anyway, today--or a few days ago--who can keep track of this "linear time" thing, anyway?--we got the following horror show:

Dear Annie: I don't know if I'm the victim or the perpetrator, but I know what I'm doing is really bad. After 33 years of a lousy marriage, I am in so much emotional pain that I've been breaking things and throwing them at my husband, as well as punching, kicking and biting out of sheer frustration.

I am 55 years old and a size 4. In order to stay that small, I have to eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day. When I eat normally, I gain weight quickly -- sometimes as much as a pound a day. I've been to the doctor and have been told I'm fine. Of course, if I reach a size 6, my husband will say, "You could lose a few pounds."

I do feel better thin, but I think it's psychological. I've always been attentive to my appearance, always having little procedures done so I can look younger. That's because my husband married a brunette, but looks at every bottled blonde, young or old. He has also lied to me on several occasions as far back as our first year of marriage, which has made me abnormally jealous and controlling.

It would never occur to my husband to help with dinner or run an errand. He comes home when he feels like it, yet expects dinner to be waiting for him. He totally ignores me. I'm so unhappy, I've developed many health problems.

I can't leave because I don't have a good job or benefits. Most of the time, I want to die, but I'd probably blow that, too. It didn't help that my mother told me I was fat, ugly and stupid my entire life. Do I have good reason to lash out, or am I the problem? -- Trapped in Vermont

We are speechless. Regrettably, Ann's lackeys are not:

Dear Vermont: Justifying your behavior doesn't excuse it. The point is to change those things that are causing you pain, and to stop hurting yourself and others in the process. Your husband sounds like a bully, and you sound abusive, but you are smart enough to understand the underlying motivations, which means you can work on this. Ask your doctor to refer you to a good therapist. You need help.

Yes. Therapy. That will certainly make living with a sociopath much more bearable. Also, it's really cute that the writer is called "abusive"--we don't know the whole story, of course, but still: has a victim ever been more decisively blamed? Fuck you, Annie's Toadies, you callous bitches! It's too bad she didn't write to Dan Savage, who would have, straightforwardly enough, advised her to DTMFA--dump the motherfucker already. Lack of money, it doesn't matter--move in with whatever family members or friends you have, or if you don't have any, try a battered women's shelter or the like. That won't magically solve your body image problems, but it is a necessary first step. Jesus Christ. THERAPY. What is wrong with these women?

Against the Blog: 2-13

Frank Traverse, afraid that he is going to be targeted by the same people who offed his paw, is going around in limited disguise. He finds lately that he is approached by people checking on his well-being, who, he ascertains, are in fact clandestine agents of Scarsdale Vibe who would like nothing more than to secure his employment in Vibe Corp. Frank, thinking that Scarsdale very likely had something to do with Webb's death, consistently turns them down, but in such a way as to avoid letting them know that he suspects them.

He's sick of gold and silver, so he starts mining for zinc, which, apparently, is something one does in Lake County. While there, he meets a "girl anthropologist" (275), only recently out of college. She asks him to take her to a brothel--for purely anthropological reasons, of course. The ladies take a liking to her, and:

"We'll take good care of her," Fame assured him with a wicked smile. Which got Wren to detach form her self-admiring long enough to turn and seek the girls' eyes, with one of those looks of insincere dismay you saw in erotic illustrations from time to time. (276)

Sex was unbearably sordid in the last section; here, it's light and funny.

Wren originally came west to search for the fabled Aztlán. She shows Frank some photographs she took of rock paintings, including

people with wings...human-looking bodies with snake and lizard heads, above them unreadable apparitions, trailing what might have been fire in what might have been the sky. (276)

These creatures, perhaps, wreaked some kind of ruin on the people. I think it's safe to say that they are related to the thing that the crew of the Étienne foolishly brought back with them and which then wreaked devastation on the nameless city. Also, the thing that destroyed the Campanile in Venice.

Someone wants to see Frank in Telluride, allegedly. He's figured out the identities of his father's killers, and, somewhat reluctantly, feels he has to head there, both to see his sister and mother and, maybe, for some sort of revenge. So he parts ways with Wren, but not before they engage in some heavy drinking.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-12

Deuce Kindred and Sloat Fresno roll into Telluride. Deuce happens to visit the restaurant where Mayva and Lake Traverse are working, and he and Lake instantly fall into amour fou. Looking at her, he either knows or is reasonably certain that she is the daughter of the man he recently offed, but he doesn't care. She has a big fight with her mother, who tells her the story that's going 'round--that he is indeed this man--but this just makes her mad. She is going to marry him, goddamnit. At which news, Mayva packs her bags and leaves, to parts unknown, by train. And "she didn't ever see her mother again" (265).

So, they get married, and Sloat sort of moves in with them more and more, until ultimately, she's having really degrading sex with the two of them. Which she evidently takes some sort of masochistic pleasure in, but which was nonetheless distressing to read about. "Why don't you boys just leave me out of it and do each other for a change?" (269), she asks at one point, which does indeed seem to me to be the subtext of most such arrangements. Ever read Updike's second Rabbit novel, Rabbit Redux? Harry was obviously having sex with Skeeter with Jill as a proxy. Very strange stuff, and pretty surreal, given that the other books in the sequence all adhered to a more or less realistic worldview. Why did I bring that up? Because I felt like it, dammit!

Even though Webb is dead, stuff is still getting blowed up real good. Deuce's erstwhile employers call him in to ask him whether he's sure he killed the man. Deuce insists he did, but they remain skeptical. And it becomes more and more clear that someone is now trying to off him. He is scared and paranoid. Did Sloat betray him?

In the end, Sloat leaves town, and the two of them--Lake and Deuce--are alone again.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-11

Les Chums de la Chance are in Venice. They are working for a Sfinciuno family, who claims the right to Dogedom in Italy, even though this position has been abolished, and they had been banned from it years before then. So now they have a grudge against the Italian government. This family has established all sorts of colonies and trade routes and whatnot. The Chums' current objective: to locate the fabled Sfinciuno Itinerary, which charts various routes into Asia and is said to lead to the fabled city of Shambhala.

Chick ain't sure--and neither are we--whether this quest is entirely concrete, or whether we're getting all up in the allegorical shizznit. Their contact, Professor Svegli, tells them about anamorphoscopes, devices designed to make distorted images look normal. Naturally, this lead into the now-familiar idea of other worlds at ninety-degree angles from one another. The Itinerary is supposed to be a distortion that can be brought into focus by judicious use of specific anamorphic equipment.

Miles, wandering through Venice, has a vision of the city as it was before it was a city--when it was all marsh and whatnot. He sees some sort of being. After, he relates ecstatic prophesy, about how all of their travels are meant to lead to some greater, unimaginable glory. It's all very mysterious. As is much in this novel.

Chick is more into things of this world. He meets a young woman named Renata, who offers him a cigarette. He lights his and hers using a futuristic, radioactive lighter, which, he explains, has not yet been invented: he fished it out somehow from the river of time. Why not? Why not indeed.

She gives him a Tarot reading with miniature cards. He, it is revealed, is the Tower. She also predicts that the Campanile is going to collapse with two parties falling out. Huh!

Chick stays with her all night. It isn't clear to me whether they become intimately involved. Dawnish, Darby finds them having breakfast and is all like, dude, what the fuck? Back to the ship! Chick is dubious about this; about being in the Chums at all. "Chums of Chance were expected to die on the job," Pynchon writes. "Or else live forever, there being two schools of thought, actually" (254). But eventually, evidently, he gives in.

Pugnax the dog is also unsure about his role in the group; he has visions of running with wild dogs. He brings back a dog he's been hanging out with, Mostruccio, and asks Randolph if it can accompany them.

The Russians lead by Padzhitnoff are also in the area. Tension mounts, and there's a brief skirmish--but then, the Campanile collapses, as predicted. Which of them brought it down? Neither of them! How did it fall? Mystery! After, on Darby suggesting mockingly to Lindsay that the Russians can still be caught, Lindsay provides this entertaining riposte:

Or we might send in pursuit your maternal relation, Suckling, one glimpse of whom should prove more than sufficient fatally to compromise their morale, if not indeed transform them all into masonry-- (257)

Zing! Anyway, the meet with the Russians, who allege that the destruction was wrought by some other-dimensional thing. I hate to resort to calling it mysterious, but: it's mysterious.


Today's War on the War on Christmas Dispatch

Courtesy of some deep thinker in the Williamsport Sun-Duhzette:

To those of you who profess that the ACLU is protecting all peoples rights, I have a question. What if I feel that my rights have been violated because I believe there is a Christ in Christmas. Suppose I want to hear and say Merry Christmas. What if I want to see displays in stores, banks and schools. Do you think they would go to court in my behalf? Merry Christmas to everyone.

Harry Gerrish

And what if I feel that MY rights are being violated because stores and banks and schools and brothels refuse to acknowledge me as the Supreme Universal Sun King and pay me the tribute I think I deserve? What THEN, huh? Will the ACLU spring to my defense? Huh? Huh? HYPOCRITES!

...I do like the fact that, amongst a certain segment of the population, "Merry Christmas" has apparently become synonymous with "fuck you." Very festive.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


This makes me deeply and profoundly happy. I'll admit it: in the past, I was more or less joking when I accused Tinsley of cartooning while drunk. Now, there's some solid evidence to back me up. The best thing to ever happen to Duckfuckery! I feel like dancing around the room right now.


Then I saw his face/Now I'm a believer!

Why does God love me so?


Monday, December 11, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-10

Against the Blog never sleeps! Although it probably should.

Lew Basnight runs about investigating stuff. He is also searching for a source of Cyclomite, his explosive drug of choice. In this, he enlists the age of Neville and Nigel, who are inveterate users of every narcotic imaginable.

They pay a visit to a clandestine "war office" wherea scientist named Dr. Coombs De Bottle works, doing general scientific kinds of things. He tells of a terrorist known only as the Gentleman Bomber of Headingly, who tosses bombs disguised as cricket balls at matches, which release a drug--phosgene--which, depending, often leaves victims unaware that they've been poisoned until, forty-eight hours later, they die. He is only known by a single blurry photograph--from which Lew possibly recognizes him. I wonder if this bears any relation to the Kieselguhr Kid (who may or may not have been Webb Traverse).

Neville and Nigel present Lew with a supply of Cyclomite. How sweet.

Lew and the Cohen (NOOKSHAFT! LOLZHORS!) decide to go to Cambridge, in the company of Clive Crouchmas, to meet Professor Renfrew.

They talk to the Perfesser about the bomber. Also, about the Ottoman railway thing. Per Renfrew, Inner Asia is at the center of the Northern Hemisphere, so if you control that, you basically control the world. The Southern doesn't really matter, he says.

That's about it.


Against the Blog: 2-9

I'm tired, but Against the Blog MUST GO ON!

Lew Basnight is in England, working with these strange occult detectives--of a sort--called the True Worshippers of the Ineffable Tetractys (TWIT). The headquarters has a freewheeling, Dionysian feel to it. The Grand Cohen of this branch of the organization, Nicholas Nookshaft (that name makes me want to giggle, but it may just be lack of sleep) shows Lew around. Nookshaft suggests that Lew was in fact blasted into a different plane when he was explodified.

This chapter of the group has custody of a hawt chick named Yashmeen Halfcourt, the daughter of an army officer currently on some sort of clandestine assignment.

Later, Nookshaft (HAHAHAHAHANOOKSHAFT) explains to Lew that the group is responsible for, oh...surveying? Investigating? twenty-two "suspects," each of whom--you guessed it--represents one of the Tarot deck's Major Arcana. I suppose somebody will at some point try to identify the novel's characters with the cards, if they haven't already. Lew, like me, wonders what sort of crime we're talking about here, but Nookshaft will only say:

Alas, nothing too clearly related to any statute on the books, nor likely to, it is more of an ongoing Transgression, accumulating as the days pass, the invasion of Time into a timeless world. Revealed to us, slowly, one hopes not terribly, in a bleak convergence...History, if you like. (223)

I hope that clears that up. All I'll say is that that "invasion of Time into a timeless world" thing makes me think of the Chums of Chance, and the ambiguity as to whether they exist in real time and whether they actually age.

Anyway, lots of mysterious shit happens, as you'd expect. Lew asks Yashmeen about Nookshaft, but he turns out to be a pretty mysterious fellow. She observes that England, or the English language in general, is very centered around numbers and codes.

So Lew's observing Tarot people, yadda yadda. A bad emergency thing comes up. Nookshaft explains that it likely has to do with the Devil card, personified by two professors, Renfrew and Werfner, English and German respectively, who are experts on international affairs, especially concerning the Eastern Question. Also, bitter rivals. Nobody seems to like either very much.

Nookshaft and Lew pay a visit to a medium in the group's employ, Madame Natalia Eskimoff. Lew is enchanted with her. Eskimoff had recorded a previous séance, during which something strange happened. This séance was in pursuit of Ottoman railway concessions; a member of TWIT named Clive Crouchmas wanted to get in touch with an agent who was killed in the field. This here railway concession is a subject of much rancor, with both England and Germany vying for it, which is I guess why we think the professors are involved. During the séance, there's some sort of psychic explosion. What has happened? It's very mysterious.

Afterwards, they're having tea and cakes, and Nookshaft starts discoursing on the questions of what would have happened had Edward Oxford succeeded in assassinating Queen Victoria. Ernst August, Duke of Cumberland would have become King, and, Nookshaft suggests, the nation would have descended into a military dictatorship, and the entire world except for the US would have turned against it. HMM. Modern-day parallels? Nookshaft further suggests that, in fact, we may well be living in this reality; that our current alleged reality is just a thin façade. Very Philip K. Dick.

And that is that.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Make way for ducklings!

Update: here's the original, for context. The first text box in my remix really does sum up what he seems to be saying. I like the "you heard me, lefties: I said it" in the panel with the funny man. Like he wants us to go, Oh no you di'int! Yup, you said it all right, Tinz...maybe if you'd said it before you started hitting the bottle, we'd have some idea of what "it" entailed.


Randumbosity: I haven't forgotten!

Okay, maybe I did forget. But so what, man? You can't push me around. You ain't the boss of me. I doan owe you nuttin. God, it's like STALINIST RUSSIA around here, I swear!

01. Reverend Glasseye, "God Help You Dumb Boy"
Inarguably, this is the greatest song title ever. And the song itself ain't so bad either! Great apocalyptic chorus. 10/10

02. Joe Strummer, "Burnin' Streets"
This is a really good quasi-psychedelic thing. We lost Joe MUCH too soon. 8/10

03. Psychedelic Furs, "Imitation of Christ"
For a long time, I only knew the phrase "Imitation of Christ" from this song; I didn't know it was an actual thing. Obviously, here the word means "cheap knock-off" rather than "emulation." Sort of clever. 7/10

04. The Pogues, "The Battle of Brisbane"
Okay but fairly inconsequential little instrumental. 6/10

05. Simon and Garfunkel, "The Only Living Boy in New York"
Okay, I kind of like this; I'm just embarrassed because it's so utterly uncool. Shrug. 7/10

06. Dead Can Dance, "The Arrival and the Reunion"
It's shorter than one might like, but it's very ethereal'n'shit. What you expect from DCD. 7/10

07. Squeeze, "Farfisa Beat"
Not Squeeze's most compelling, but still pretty durnibly catchy. 7/10

08. Jay Munly, "Country Train"
A lot of Munly's early stuff is...not too impressive, but this is a good, twangy thing. 7/10

09. DeVotchKa, "This Place Is Haunted"
I've realized I don't actually like this band all that much. In theory, maybe I should. But the Morrissey-esque vocals really don't work for me, and the music is rarely very compelling. A few decent songs here and there, but this is not one of them. Quite boring. I should really just delete this stuff. 3/10

10. 16 Horsepower, "Neck on the New Blade"
One of their eerier songs, and that's saying something. High fiddle high fiddle low fiddle low! 9/10

Against the Blog: 2-8

Jeshimon is a town with a hell of a lot of debauchery as well as death. Often, the one leads to the other. Every single available tree or post in town has a corpse hanging from it. Having run out of places to hang bodies, the town started building these tower jobbies on which to place them. Like that Native American thing. Right! Reef talks about this stuff with a minister by the amusing name of Reverend Lube Carnal. The town's leader, referred to only as the Governor, who reigns over all this death. Reef finds his father's body, retrieves it from the tower it's on, and makes his escape. On the way back, reads aloud to his dead father a dime novel that he brought with him, The Chums of Chance at the Ends of the Earth. He also gets into semi-hallucinatory conversations with him.

Back home, the family--minus Kit--are the only ones at the funeral.

Reef goes back to Nochecita, where Stray gives birth to their child, a boy named Jesse. He plans on following in Webb's anarchistic footsteps, and is unsure about whether he should tell Stray about this, or try to keep it hidden.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-7

Frank Traverse is enrolled in "mining school." His brother Reef is basically a drifter/gambler. Reef wants Frank to come with him--for protection, or for advice, or just companionship; he's not entirely certain--to a town in Nevada where he has a woman. Frank accedes to this.

Reef's girlfriend is named Estrella Briggs, whom everybody calls Stray; she is very pregnant. She and Reef have had an argument, and now Reef is trying to fix things.

One night, Frank, unable to sleep, ends up hanging out with the schoolteacher who lives next door, Linnet Dawes. They end up preparing food together, and it's companionable. Frank is vaguely attracted to her.

The next day, Stray wants advice from Frank about Reef, but he's pretty unhelpful. He is also vaguely attracted to her.

Jimmy Drop calls on one of them new-fangled "tele-phones" to relate the news about Webb. Shit! Jimmy knows their headed to Jeshimon, although it's not clear to me how; Reef insists that Frank go back to look after their mother and sister while he deals with this. And they're off.


Against the Blog: 2-6

This section features the phrase "the light over the ranges." I don't know if that's important.

Webb Traverse has become a shift boss at Hellkite. He has a fight with his daughter, Lake, who disappears for a week, to Silverton. She come back with money, which she claims to have gotten from betting on prizefights, but which Webb surmises--correctly--that she's actually been turning tricks. He ends up disowning her, and she goes back for more of the same. Mayva (Webb's wife, if you remember) argues with him over this, and ultimately leaves to be with her daughter.

Webb is all alone now. He meets a young man named Deuce Kindred working in the mines, and starts thinking of himself as a father figure. VERY BAD IDEA. Deuce is a spy/assassin in the employ of the owners. He has a partner by the name of Sloat Fresno. They subdue Webb, capture him, and start breaking his limbs. He's not dead at the end of the section, but he's not in good shape either. They are going to take him to a town in Utah called Jeshimon, where, apparently, people go to dispose of bodies.

On their way through Cortez, they are spied by a gunhand named Jimmy Drop, who knows Deuce from past work. Jimmy sees what's happening and tries to stop them, but they get away.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Mallard Fillmore War on Christmas Special

Ya know, Tinsey-Winsey, if you would divert just ten percent of the energy you spend whining about people not sufficiently bending over backwards to pander to your seasonal totems to actually propagating seasonal cheer--you would have such a hardcore merryass Christmas, it wouldn't even be funny.

...oh, who am I kidding? I know damn well that Tinz's favorite thing about Christmas is whining about how he's being brutally persecuted by Yule Nazis wishing him "happy holidays." Carry on, my good man.

Against the Blog: 2-5

Lew Basnight, in Denver, is on the trail of a mysterious desperado known only as the Kieselguhr Kid, "kieselguhr" being a kind of fine clay used in the production of dynamite. The Kid doesn't use guns; he carries dynamite, and he's quick with it, too.

Lew is becoming more and more ambivalent about his work; more and more sympathetic to the anarchists. He fantasizes about committing minor acts of terrorism.

Nate Privett shows up for his annual inspection of the Denver branch; he reveals--not that Lew is particularly surprised--that, basically, the agent doesn't really care if Lew ever catches the Kid; as long as he's there keeping up appearances, the clients keep paying, and that's what matters. Lew gets indignant and more or less quits on the spot. He starts hanging around with the anarchists.

After accidentally ingesting an explosive compound with hallucinogenic properties, Lew starts making a habit of it. He starts to be able to sense even far-off dynamite blasts.

One day, he gets caught in an explosive blast set by unknown persons. It sort of knocks him out of his body, but then, with a will, he reenters. He has been found by a pair of British dandies named Nigel and Neville who are touring the American West. He starts traveling with them 'cause why not. They are taking a ship back to England from Galveston, and they want him to come along too, as a souvenir of authentic Americanness. He goes along with this because, again, why not? The day after the ship departs, there is an enormous storm that kills six thousand people.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-4

Kit Traverse is at Yale. His roommate is Scarsdale Vibe's son Colfax (he also has a third son, Cragmont, who has yet to appear in the narrative). Colfax is feckless; good at sports but not that bright. The two of them seem to get along well, however. Scarsdale wants to make Kit his heir, but Kit refuses on the grounds--so he says--that he would be unnable to manage all that wealth.

Colfax invites Kit up to the family "cottage," which turns out to be a large, ominous mansion which is clearly haunted in some way, although the Vibes do not like to talk about it.

Scarsdale's wife Edwarda show up. She doesn't spend much time with her husband; she lives in a townhouse in Greenwich Village, across from that of Scarsdale's brother, R. Wilshire Vibe. She has gotten involved in theater, and there are endless bohemian kinds of parties going on at her place.

Kit is accosted in the stables by cousin Dittany Vibe. She wants Kit to spank her, with which notion he eagerly complies.

Fleetwood Vibe is sullen about a racist little ditty about Africans composed by R. Wilshire for a show of his. He talks to Kit about the concept of "home," and this segues into his experiences in Africa.

We're not one hundred percent sure why he was there in the first place, but he met a Zionist agent named Yitzhak Zilberfeld who is travelling the world searching for a place that would work as a Jewish homeland. They get into feverish conversations about homelands vs. homelessness. One night: elephants charging. Yitzhak is completely freaked out, but Fleetwood tells him that the best thing to do is stand them down rather than run away, if one wishes to avoid the trampling and the goring and the whatnot. Yitzhak apparently takes this advice, and gives Fleetwood financial advice in return. Mainly, that South Africa is where it's at, getting-richwise.

Fleetwood ultimately takes him up on this. This South African stuff is strongly reminiscent of the chapter in V. about the German atrocities against the native Hereros. Anyway, he's in South Africa for a while, sort of getting by. An incident that becomes well-known and which haunts him: he catches a native stealing a diamond, and gives him a choice between shooting him or letting him step into a half-mile mineshaft. The native takes the latter. As this gets around, everyone starts hating him. And that's when he decides that the Etienne expedition would be a good idea. "There would be no gold, no diamonds, no women, no dream-inducing smoke, no coolies or blacks, though possibly the odd Eskimo. And the purity, the geometry, the cold" (170).


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Mallard Redux

So my kneejerk irritation with the "liberals, the early years" premise caused me to kind of gloss over the substance, such as it is, of yesterday's cartoon, but MAN. Just LOOK at this:

Seriously. Is there any possible interpretation, no matter how charitable, in which this isn't really blatantly racist? To be fair to Tinsley (just like he's always fair to his targets!), I do sort of suspect that this was unintentional; that he just sort of has these "politically correct liberals" memes bumping around in his brain that he's used to just picking more or less at random and spewing on paper, and this time he just chose a particularly unfortunate combination. But HOW did he not then notice it? Quite extraordinary...I dunno, man. Now I'm leaning more towards the "racist" hypothesis.

The "Virgin" Mary?

So why is it so important that she be a virgin, anyway? Two reasons, I reckon: so that there's absolutely no possible doubt that Jesus is in fact the son of God, and--more importantly, I'm thinking--because only a virgin is considered to be "pure" enough to bear mankind's redeemer. You've got to sort of admire Joseph's forbearance here, but it's hard to see how there wouldn't be a certain lingering resentment.

We are told that he "had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son," which isn't really a passage the fundies like to bring up, because they want her to have remained eternally virginal. But they lose! Ha ha! More importantly, though, we must ask ourselves: what would have happened if they had had sex while she was pregnant? I mean, presumably there was some reason for them not doing so, or why would they specify? Maybe they were just uncomfortable with the idea of pregnant sex; some people are, certainly. But my, superior, theory is that to do so would have knocked the divinity right out of Jesus. Somehow, the human sperm neutralizes the divine power. This is something that should probably be kept in mind if Jesus returns and you want to form a resistance movement, and aren't you proud of me for not making a "second coming" joke? Oops.

Against the Blog: 2-3

This section is short, with very little action. It describes the ruin left in the wake of the thing escaping. There was lots of fire during the event, and the city (now I think it's supposed to be vague where or what the city is. Either that, or I'm just stupid) was permanently traumatized.

Hunter Penhallow, wandering around aimlessly, come upon a group of people who are planning on traveling somewhere, possibly through time, on a subway. He joins them.


Against the Blog: 2-2

Against the Blogging is being slowed down by end-of-semester work. But rest assured, it will continue!

This section is pretty clearly meant as a Lovecraft pastiche. It's written as extracts from Fleetwood Vibe's journal.

As the Étienne heads north, the Chums of Chance accost them--only, in Fleetwood's telling, the Chums now appear to be adults. I think I know what's going on here: Remember Merle Rideout's theory that Morley and Morgan were the same person, split in two, sort of, by light beams? One existing in this reality, and one off somewhere ninety degrees away? And remember how Iceland spar is supposed to have that effect? And remember how this area is meant to be the Iceland spar motherload? I think I've made my point.

Anyway, the adult Chums invite them up in the Inconvenience, and warn them that it would be a very bad idea for them to continue their mission--that there's something dangerous ahead. On the viewscreen thingie, they are shown a...thing. A living thing or not? It's not clear. I'll just quote:

Though details were difficult to make out, the Figure appeared to recline on its side, an odalisque of the snows--though to what pleasures given posed a question far too dangerous--with as little agreement among us as to its "facial" features, some describing them as "Mongoloid," others as "serpent-like." Its eyes, for the most part, if eyes be what they were, remained open, its gaze as yet undirected--though we were bound in a common terror of that moment at which it might become aware of our interest and smoothly pivot its awful head to stare us full in the face. (140)

Foolishly, they decide, against the Chums' warning, to recover this...statue. Thing. While in this process, they encounter a native mystic, who gives them a cryptic warning about..."them." It is vague and ominous. One of them claims that people like this mystic exist outside of linear time. Like the wormhole prophets on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. That's my comparison, not Pynchon's.

Anyway, inevitably, the thing eventually escapes (driving those of the ship's crew who see it to gibbering madness, of course), and the city--possibly Washington DC, although I seriously can't tell--is in chaos, with people running around, terrified of invisible demons and whatnot.

A brief scene in the Explorer's Club--now I'm pretty sure we're in DC--where those present speculate that time itself has been disrupted, and god knows what's going to happen now...


Saturday, December 02, 2006

By popular demand...

(cross-posted here)