Friday, July 29, 2005


Having seen 3 out of 4 of my "Viewing & Reviewing" links fade away I've decided to stop being so fussy. I changed the links heading to "Other Viewing" and signed up for BlogRolling. BlogRolling makes it a bit easier to add links -- I no longer have to edit the template and republish the blog every time I want to add a link. Thus I'm going to be promiscuous and add a bunch of links that no longer fit that demanding old criteria (Must Review Media in Relation to Personal Life) and just throw in a bunch of blogs (& maybe other websites, dunno) that I like to visit. I'll delete those that go belly up, which means I will be checking in on whatever I add to the blog roll. At present the blogs will be in no particular order.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rogue in Space, A Choice of Gods, or The Grave

These are three paperbacks from one of the boxes of books I brought home from my mother’s house. The books belong to my brother and eventually I’ll get them to him in Seattle. In the meantime I’ve been toying with the idea of reading a couple. (Like I don’t have ten zillion books lined up already!)

Which should I read? I pulled these three out because they were at the top of the box. Of the three only The Grave by Charles L. Grant is more than 200 pages. It’s the horror novel. (Natch!)

Rogue in Space is a science fiction novel by Fredric Brown. “A lone outlaw encounters a unique being in the classic novel of alien intelligence,” says the cover blurb. A man in a yellow jumpsuit stands on a sand & rock plain in front of a big ochre spaceship (said spaceship looks a bit like the Marin Civic Center).

Clifford D. Simak’s A Choice of Gods has this front cover blurb: “The message came: Leave Earth alone. It is part of the experiment. [italics in original]” A robot knight stands in a clearing in the forest holding a lance or probe.

I can’t recall having read a book by any of these authors. David seems to own a few books by each. (Brown & Simak, anyway.)

So, D, which?

Anybody else have a rec?

Friday, July 22, 2005

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Wednesday poet friend Tim and I went over to San Francisco to Smack Dab, a reading series with open mike in the heart of the Castro. D. Travers Scott was down from Seattle to read from his novel, One of These Things Is Not Like the Other.

The scene he read involved incest, murder, and animals eating human flesh. Or rather, talk about incest, possible murder, and mysteriously fresh dog food.

I bought a copy. On the train home Tim said he'd like to borrow it when I was finished. I handed it over. "I've got so many books going it's going to be a long time till I get to this one."

When I bought the novel from the author and he asked if I wanted it personalized, asked my name, and I told him, he perked up having recognized the name from comments I've left on his blog. So that was kinda fun, too, having kinda sorta already met him online then in the flesh. I kept thinking later that I ought to have said something like, "Want to go out for drinks?" Because Scott & his partner seemed nice and it would be fun to make friends. But I don't much like drinks and all the places for drinks are so noisy and I don't have a car and it was late and the later it gets the more problematic the trip back across the Bay becomes. So we just said, "See you online!"

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Another one of my Viewing & Reviewing links has up n quit. Mick Martin of Daily Burn lists a bunch of reasons for burnout. And they sound like good reasons!

Of my measly four V&R linkies two have bowed out (rhubarb is susan and now Daily Burn), one seems to be on extended hiatus (i eat books) and the other is averaging a post a month (Taze Files). If this is the company I keep no wonder I haven't posted since last Tuesday!

I've come to a place in my diary that corresponds to a really difficult time in my life. It's a place I remember too well and I don't want to go back there. I've been thinking of strategies to get back on track with DIR. One involves talking only about the books mentioned in the diary and not discussing what was going on in my life at the time. That may be the way to get going again. What else? Really delve into what I was feeling & thinking? I think that's what I was going to do. And balked.

I'll probably take a little more time to think about it. Meantime maybe I'll find some new V&R linkies.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Monday, July 11, 2005

cat pee

I discovered a box of books I’d brought home from my mother’s house has since been peed in by one of our cats. The pee dried. Cat pee is frightfully pungent. It’s not going to be pleasant reading a book impregnated with cat urine.

Some books I threw away:

Lloyd Alexander’s Taran Wanderer books.

A book of poetry by Jonathan London, a Sonoma County poet now best known for his children’s book Froggy Gets Dressed and its sequels.

Some Poems Heaped Up by another SoCo poet Jim McCrary.

An edition of Gulliver’s Travels I bought in England during my semester in London. I think we were in Cambridge and there was a church with a box of books on its porch. A sign above a slot in the wall asked 10p per book. It was a nice hardcover not ill-used and had a color plate in the front of giant Gulliver up to his waist in the sea pulling a fleet of ships.

A little collection of Federico Garcia Lorca’s folk song poems. Nice wood cuts of dancing crickets and such.

One of two copies of the one book by Helen Luster that I own.

A kid’s book about a boy who is banished by his caveman tribe and threatened by various prehistoric (and pre-human-era) beasts. When young I was fascinated not only by the great dinosaurs and such but by the boy’s almost-nudity (a furry black loincloth clung to him throughout his adventures) and by the enticingly cruel way the tribe tied him to a log (a sacrifice?) and threw the log into the river. I’d saved it up to now mostly to provide fodder for a blog entry. This paragraph will have to do.

All my Xanth books by Piers Anthony. Xanth is a somewhat Oz-like fantasy world in which magic is taken for granted. The pages abound with puns.

If I really miss them I can hunt these up again somewhere, I figure. Except for the poetry books. I did hold onto two books by Paul Mariah. I’m thinking about putting them in a plastic bag with potpourri or something. I don’t think a masking scent will make the cat urine stink undetectable or even non-noxious, but it may make it more weird than hideous. Who knows?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Blue Unicorn

From the diary: “Saturday November 23, 1985

“Today the issue of Blue Unicorn with my poem in it finally came. Been a year and a half since they accepted ‘Chaos in a Meadow Turned Cornfield’. But it’s sure nice to see in print. Though I’m ambivalent about the poem.”

The poem is in rhyming couplets (mostly). It’s a bit on the cute side. I wrote it in high school.

The UC Berkeley library had a subscription to Blue Unicorn. When I finally transferred to Cal it was fun to find one of my poems in the collection.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Little Wizard Stories of Oz

From the diary: “Friday November 15, 1985

“Last night I took advantage of the Moonlight Madness sale to buy an ink pad, three [Ruth Plumly] Thompson paperbacks and the new edition of Little Wizard Stories.”

L. Frank Baum wrote fourteen full-length Oz books. I didn’t even know he’d written Oz short stories until I joined the Oz Club. The Little Wizard Stories were originally published as booklets. Baum had tried to end the series with the sixth book, The Emerald City of Oz, but his non-Oz fantasies were not as successful so he wrote a new full-length sequel, The Patchwork Girl of Oz as well as these short stories aimed at younger readers. The stories were later collected in a hardcover which, by the time I was buying Oz stuff, was very expensive. There had only ever been one printing. I was thrilled to pieces when a publisher decided to bring out a new edition, thus making it possible for me to own (& read).

The text is on the web, but no pictures! A Google search suggests that you can download the text as an ebook and read it on your mobile phone. I’m sorry; I’m having trouble getting my head around that.

Del Rey, which had brought the Baum books back into print as mass market paperbacks also started bringing the sequels by Thompson back to print, though in a slightly larger format. They didn’t sell. So Del Rey never did get all the way through Thompson’s oeuvre. Some Thompson books are currently in print in handsome editions. Most aren’t, so are as expensive as ever, though, with the resources of the net, are a bit easier to find.

Friday, July 08, 2005

An Early Frost

From the diary: “November 11, 1985

“[S]ettled in for NBC’s AIDS drama An Early Frost. Hey. Was good. A tearjerker that actually brought tears to my eyes, made my nose itch. Glad [the protagonist] didn’t die in the course of the movie. Sure, it had its TV-movie-isms but blessedly they were few and lacking in virulence. Unfortunately the most sensual scene I’ve seen on TV between two men was in last night’s hokey vigilante movie when the leader of the bikers’ gang – a rapist, a real sicko – reaches through the bars into the next cell, takes a cigarette out of the mouth of the man sitting in the next cell, rests his hand there on his shoulder. The young man [one of the bikers] leans his face gently against the hand, touching it with his lips. That was nice. The two lovers in [An Early Frost] hardly touched. And Peter (the one without AIDS) proved that not all gay men are good dressers. Couldn’t they get him anything that fit? Also had a very likable character who dies in the hospital – he had a lot of funny lines – camped to keep his spirits up. Good movie. Had its problems – but good all in all.”

I’ve skipped over mentions of movies in the diary. Books! We do books here. But I remember the scene in the holding cells in the “hokey vigilante movie” better than I remember An Early Frost. Same sex sensuality is used as a signifier of evil. That was the problem Frost had. The moviemakers were trying to make the gay men sympathetic, but if the lovers were actually shown being physically affectionate they would be unsympathetic, they would be like those jailed biker creeps, they would be evil.

I still remember that jail scene as one of the tenderest, most erotic moments between two men on broadcast television. But maybe that had much to do with my needing to see something like that at the time.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Wonderful Cut-Outs of Oz

From the diary: “Friday November 8, 1985

“Got a letter yesterday from Doug Greene inviting me to review The Wonderful Cut-Outs of Oz. … Doug Green said John Fricke described me to him as ‘the new editor of The Oogaboo Review and a good writer.’ That made me feel good.”

Doug Greene was the book review editor for the Oz Club publication The Baum Bugle. John Fricke is a cabaret singer in New York City. He has published books on Judy Garland and Oz. I met John at the Winkie Convention.

I tried to write a this-book-is-good-because sort of review, but everything I wrote sounded dumb. What did I know? Rob Roy MacVeigh was working on an animated version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that would closely follow the story in the book. The MGM musical version is fairly faithful to the book, if one considers how unlike its source material a Hollywood movie often is. But if you’re a big fan of the book there are going to be things you wish had been respected. Dorothy is a little girl, not a teenager. Oz is a real place, not a dream. A big fan of animation and of Rob Roy’s art I was really looking forward to his movie. Rob created the cut-outs book partly as fundraiser (though I doubt it made much money) and partly as a showcase for the character designs. And partly, I hope, for fun.

I had fun with it. I cut out all the figures, affixed their bases, glued on the pennies (like it said in the instructions) in order to keep them balanced, and put them on display. They were on display for years on the top of a bookcase at my mother’s house. Currently they are in a paper bag upstairs. If I hadn’t been asked to review the book I probably would never have let scissors come near it. But once I’d cut out all the characters I felt like playing with them, like a kid with his new action figures. So that’s what my review ended up being, a little story about playing with paper dolls.

I think Rob told me he liked the review. It was different, he said.

We lost Rob Roy MacVeigh to AIDS.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Teen Titans

from the diary: “Thursday October 10, 1985

“Bot comics, stopped collecting Teen Titans.”

Teen Titans was sort of DC’s version of Marvel’s X-Men, well-written and featuring an artist that could really draw. I stopped collecting the comic a few issues after artist George Perez left the Titans.

They keep making and remaking Batman and Superman movies and TV shows but they seldom mine the rest of the DC universe. Of course it was long the case that the only media versions of Marvel superheroes were in videogames and TV cartoon shows. The rights to the Marvel characters were tied up in all sorts of legal knots that only fairly recently got loosed.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Dr. Fulton's Step-By-Step Program for Clearing Acne

from the diary: “August 25, 1985

“I’m reading an excellent book on clearing up acne that has told me so much I never knew.”

I have noticeable acne scars. If I’d found Fulton’s book a few years earlier I think I would have suffered less. Benzoil peroxide is his main recommendation, but make sure the cream is water-based because an oil-base, says Fulton, greatly cuts the medication’s effectiveness. I did find a water-based product, but it was a brand I sometimes had to special-order. And it was very helpful. Unfortunately it will bleach your clothes; it is a peroxide.

I don’t think the book I read is still in print. But Fulton has other books (and products).

Acne isn’t just ugly, it can be painful. I still get the occasional pimple but nothing like I suffered with in my late teens/early 20s. These days I find vitamin E oil helps heal a pimple quickly.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Black Water: the book of fantastic literature

From the diary: “July 13, 1985

“Yesterday Mom & I spent the day with the Averas at Caz. Lee finished his do-it-yrself awareness book and is trying to find an agent to handle it for him. Mom paddled about in the pool a bit. I dunked my feet – brr – read from Black Water: the book of fantastic literature. Damn thick brick of a paperback.”

I was much impressed with Black Water. It was the first anthology I remember reading that didn’t have a disappointing page in it. And there were lots of pages! I’ve piled up anthologies edited by Alberto Manguel, including his anthology of gay fiction. But, egad, have I really not read anything he put together since Black Water?

BW contained lots of classics, and famous authors from around the world. I read “The Monkey’s Paw” for the first time. (Stephen King’s Pet Sematery is a modern version of the story.) I was fascinated by “Lady into Fox” in which a man falls in love with a woman who turns into a fox; unlike a werewolf she doesn’t change back. But he still loves her! She, on the other hand, eventually finds love with another fox. Great stuff.

Jean Avera was an old friend of my mother’s. They’d known each other since second grade. Lee Avera was a chemist. He’d worked for Skippy peanut butter and I understood that he’d invented the hydrogenation process that kept the oil from separating. Because he was an employee at the time the company took the patent and Lee didn’t get rich. Didn’t that happen to the guy who invented the coathanger? Lee continued to invent new processes and products in his retirement, including DriWater.

Lee also investigated consciousness and esoteric knowledge. I remember him telling me about the third eye, that there was an eye-like structure in the brain that could pick up images when the eyes on our face are closed. Supposedly there are even light receptors somewhere in the skin of our backs. I remember once Lee got a flashlight and had me cover my eyes while he shown the light on my back. “Do you see any light?” he asked. My eyes seemed to see a thousand sparkles of reds and greens and yellows but they always seemed to do that.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Pride & Prejudice

From the diary: July 11, 1985

“Finished reading Pride & Prejudice.”

This was the first time I read Pride & Prejudice. I read it again three years later when it was assigned by an English professor at SRJC.

Women love Pride & Prejudice. Among the Stick questions was, “Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?” How many women answered, “Darcy!”

I’ll eventually work my way through Jane Austen. I enjoy her prose; she can be quite funny. I can’t say as I number Darcy, the available/unavailable suitor of P&P, among my crushes.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Dehumanization of Man

From the diary: Sunday June 23, 1985

Return to Oz is the dehumanization of Oz. I read The Dehumanization of Man by Ashley Montagu & Matson a few days ago – this movie fits a lot of the symptoms.”

Since I don’t remember The Dehumanization of Man and I talked about Return to Oz in my last post I’ll mention a few other things I’ve been seeing in my diary. I was working furiously on my first issue of The Oogaboo Review, hoping to have it ready for the Oz Convention. I videotaped my brother & his friends in their first parachute jump (sadly, there was some glitch and only the first blossoming of the chutes and the landing ended up recorded). I went to the gradnite party of a friend two years behind me in high school. I had bad acne and fought with my mother over going to a dermatologist – I still had no regular job so couldn’t pay for it myself and Mom was contemptuous of medical doctors. Mom was going to city council meetings about saving the Sebastopol laguna and stopping McDonald’s and other civic stuff.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Return to Oz

From the diary: “June 3, 1985

“I’m reading Joan D. Vinge’s novelization of Return to Oz [the Disney sequel to The Wizard of Oz]. This is rather too dark. The whimsy and simplicity of the Baum books is gone. The predicaments pound on & on with little humor. But then I hate movie novelizations.”

How many movie novelizations have I read? This one. Any others? A movie picture book or three, but any other prose novels? I’m not saying none but none I can remember. So this “hate” was mostly prejudice; I didn’t (& don’t) like the idea of movie novelizations. Aren’t they just redundant? And what sort of leeway does the author have to make the tale interesting prose, rather than a writing out of the screenplay with a few he-saids and glancing descriptions of the landscape? I’ve heard William Kotzwinkle’s adaptation of E.T. is worth reading.

The Return to Oz movie brings the 2nd and 3rd stories of the Oz series to the screen. Dorothy does not appear in the second book, The Land of Oz, but nobody’s gonna want to see an Oz movie without Dorothy (Baum found that out with the books), so the producers mixed Land together with Ozma of Oz in which Dorothy gets washed off a ship in a big storm and drifts off to fairyland. Although Return is not a musical the moviemakers knew they had to include elements from MGM’s Wizard of Oz. So they picked up the idea of Oz-Kansas analogs – to a fault! Just about everything (or everyone) that Dorothy sees in Kansas ends up in Oz in a new guise.

But the reason I found Return disturbing was the electroshock. They made an Oz movie in which Dorothy is to be tied to a table, her brain zapped with electricity? Why? So she’ll stop talking all this Oz nonsense? Brr.

The electroshock machine seems to have a face and makes a clock-like tick tock. After escaping from the sinister quack to which the concerned Aunt Em and Uncle Henry have brought her, Dorothy and another escaping little girl are swept away in a storm-swollen river. When Dorothy washes up in Oz the other girl has disappeared. But Dorothy comes upon a friendly clockwork man whose works go tick tock; thus his name, Tik-Tok. The scary electroshock machine has become our old Ozian friend Tik-Tok. Brr. And what of the other girl swept away in the storm? In Oz she turns out to be Princess Ozma. But in Kansas? A figment of Dorothy’s imagination? Or a girl who actually was lost and drowned in the river? When the story in Oz ends happily and Dorothy is returned to Kansas via Ozma’s magic why is it Dorothy wakes up muddy and disheveled on the bank of the river, as though she has dreamed the whole thing? If she weren’t crazy and Oz were a real fairyland why didn’t Ozma have the grace to return Dorothy clean and dry?