Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Convergences: The Punctuation-Mark Exploits of Jack Pendarvis and Stephen King

I love Stephen King, and I love Jack Pendarvis, and the odds of finding anything in common between the two should be zilch. They're both huge fans of crime literature and crime movies -- they're notorious and encyclopedic in their appetite for undersung directors and authors in the genre -- but other than that their sensibilities seem pretty far apart. One does his own special brand of horror and works best when going long, the other writes short and funny. That said, they both do wonderful things with punctuation-mark abuse.

King's Mr. Mercedes features a creep whose messages are stuffed with character-revealing unnecessary !'s & "s:

And Pendarvis is the reigning champ of same:

King wants to creep you out, Pendarvis wants to you register the humor, but both do a pretty sweet job of assigning a kind of moral weight to the uses and abuses of punctuation, and to a certain clueless disjointed quality that comes with it. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Clotheshorse: The Great Hierarchy of 80s Jeans in Kevin Brockmeier's A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip

Photo from Michael Galinsky's Malls Across America
"Holes are cooler than no holes..."

From Kevin Brockmeier's searing, lovely A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade:

He sits down and gives his jeans another try. The coolest jeans are black or acid washed, followed by gray, followed by faded blue. Holes are cooler than no holes, buttons are cooler than zippers, Levi's are cooler than Lees, Lees are cooler than Wranglers, and Wranglers are cooler than Toughskins. It has taken him longer than average, but he is learning. (166)

(I love clothes, and I love books -- anytime I run across a particularly neat intersection of the two I'll post a short representative quote here, under the label Clotheshorse, with minimal commentary for maximum enjoyment.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Nabokovilia: Rebecca Makkai's The Hundred-Year House

From Rebecca Makkai's engrossing The Hundred-Year House:

"Here's my point: The administration should not be able to access the computers of tenured faculty. Let's imagine you were looking at some Web site of a communist politician, and then you're hauled in front of a committee. When the whole point of tenure is the freedom."

"I'm not tenured."

"You've heard what's happening, I'm sure."

Zee attempted to look bewildered, but he shook his head.

"You hear everything. You know what the deans ate for breakfast. You know when Blum takes a crap. And what I want to know is, when did we become afraid of sex? We ask them to read Lolita and Chaucer, but a nude picture is going to warp their minds? They're adults!" (87)

See also: More Makkai Nabokovilia.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Convergences: Maria de Zayas, Spain's 17th century exploitation filmmaker

Reading Thomas Pavel's Lives of the Novel right now, and this bit summarizing one of the tales in Maria de Zayas's 1647 Disenchantments of Love make me think that her stories could have been filmed by fellow Spaniard Jess Franco a couple of centuries later:

In "Too Late Undeceived," Don Martin sleeps with an unknown lady, falls desperately in love, and later finds and marries her. But a female slave falsely informs him that his wife has had an affair with her cousin. Don Martin burns the cousin alive and locks his wife in a kennel, forcing her to drink from the dead man's skull and eat only scraps from his table. As a reward, the slave becomes Don Martin's mistress, but two years later, gravely ill, she admits that she lied. Don Martin stabs his mistress to death and rushes to free his wife, who has just died of a broken heart. The man goes mad. (75)

You'll find the same mix of sex and revenge and bloody retribution in pretty much any Jess Franco movie. One of my favorites is 1971's She Killed in Ecstasy, which YouTube summarizes thusly:

A young doctor kills himself after a medical committee terminates his research into human embryos, considering it too inhumane. His wife then seeks revenge on those who drove her husband to his death by luring each member of the committee into compromising situations and then killing them one by one.

Hell, here's the whole movie:

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Goose Island's Lolita

According to the company, Lolita is "a pink rose colored Belgian style pale ale fermented with wild yeast and aged on raspberries in wine barrels. Aromas of fresh raspberries, bright jammy fruit flavors and crisp, refreshing body make Lolita ideal for beer drinkers fond of Belgian Framboise." It's been around for a few years, so the stock of underage-drinking jokes must already be exhausted, I'm betting.