Orcs by Stan Nicholls

I’m reading Stan Nicholls’s series Orcs: First Blood. The three books have been packed into one as pictured on the right. It’s not the type of reading that grasps my interest so deeply that I find it impossible to put down, but I like it. I like that the female characters aren’t weeping, defenseless, stupid characters, but powerful, and seriously skilled. The fastest way to lose my readership is to sink female fictional characters into cliché molds.

(Which is one of the reasons I despise the movie Casablanca. “You’ll have to think for both of us.” Excuse me? “Where I’m going you can’t follow…” Fuck you, Sam. I’m sure she would have allowed him out of the cage every now and then to begin beautiful friendships with tiny French men.)

(I also love that movie. Can’t help but love it. But I hate those lines. I bet Ilsa would have rocked a Lee Enfield or an M-1. Or explosives. Or poison. Or a sharp blade to a palpitating Nazi throat. Or some lovely shrinking potion calmly delivered before hot intercourse with the enemy shortly before death by snu snu.)

(Anyway!)

I’m reading the last book of the trilogy, getting through a few pages in bed every night before I drift off to sleep. But a few days ago I read a passage that perked me up quite effectively, and made sleep impossible for a while. Here are some bits of it:

“The gigantic moon, just beginning to set behind the mountain range, had transformed into a face. It had the features of a female, and one he knew too well. Her hair was black, her eyes were unfathomable.”

“A hand rose from behind the range. It was of the same incredible scale as the face. its unnaturally slender fingers, tipped with nails half as long again, clutched some vast object. With an almost casual flip, the hand pitched its load toward the plain.

Stryke stared, dumbfounded, as the thing tumbled end over end and hit the ground at an angle. A massive plume of dust went up. The earth shuddered. Then the object bounced, spun in the air, came down and bounced again.”

“He was trapped like an insect, watching as a great boot descended to grind him to pulp.”

I know it’s not outright giantess fodder, but I like it. It reminded me of all those times I’ve fantasized about being that tall, and playing with a planet (and some really hot man standing somewhere on it) in very imaginative ways. And now to pester Stan Nicholls and demand that he writes something I can truly read with one hand. 🙂

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The Incredible Shrinking Man

Whats with the expression of deep concern
What’s with the expression of deep concern?

I think her facial expression should convey deep horn. In her fictional place I’d be adopting all manner of happy looks.

What concerns me (not really) is that I’ve never watched this movie. I’ve never even gone to any movie rental place to see if it’s available, because I feel it should be behind some curtain, in a dark room lit by a red light bulb; and despite the fact that logic dictates I shouldn’t think the rental store employee will know I’m one of those people if I rent it.

Louise and the dollhouse
Nnggaaahhh… doll house porn.

I might, one day, if Netflix has it when (and if) I decide to subscribe again. The last few times I checked before I closed my account, it wasn’t available. Otherwise it would have already put the lotion in the basket many, many times.

I did find an autographed hardcover copy of the book by Richard Matheson, but I purchased it as a birthday present, so I didn’t read it.

What to do with $10,000

Tall and tiny, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G
Tall and tiny, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

It’s 5:22 in the morning, and I can’t find my copy of The Bachman Books. I know I bought it years ago for $4.00, and I know I read it, but somewhere along the line it got gone. So I’ve been looking for it, and instead found a bag of bubble wrap I somehow have to recycle. Who takes bubble wrap? Apparently some UPS stores do, but anyway, that’s not your problem. Damn… where’s my damn book!?! I wanna read Rage again! And The Long Walk is practically part of my childhood. I’m thinking maybe the cable guy took it when he came in here to install cable so I could watch the World Cup. Except he said “Great book!” as he walked out the door and saw it on my table, so unless he was some incredible prestidigitator (in which case he wouldn’t be a cable guy), there’s no way…

Life is cruel.

Speaking of ways in which life is in fact cruel, I was thinking about those little boxer girls in Thailand. Someone told me a few weeks ago that the National Geographic Channel had a show called Taboo, and one segment of it was about girls that seemed to be about four years old, that had learned to box, and did it as a betting sport. At first I was disgusted, because I remember what I was like when I was four years old. I wanted to read books, and if my parents had put me in a ring so that greasy people could bet money on me, or on my opponent, I would have screamed bloody murder. Then I thought about it, and I continued to be disgusted by the idea. Muay Thai kickboxing, I think they call it, is becoming increasingly popular in England as something parents force their little children to do, and it can be found in the United States as well, except I haven’t seen footage of local little kids beating each other up while they move about in a sports ring.

That being said, I think it’s only cruel when the child doesn’t want to do it. If your little girl is wailing before every fight, that’s a pretty strong indication she might not want to be there. If I had a daughter, I still wouldn’t put her in a position where she’d possibly receive injuries to the head. That’s where she’d keep her brain. She’d be needing it.

But what does that have to do with the price of lemons?

Well, speaking of parental cruelty, decades ago there was this fabulous practice in South America that involved children and their parents. When a child had a birthday, her parents would throw her a little party, which involved her classmates and their respective progenitors. There would be cake, drinks, often a terrifying payaso

and after the screaming died down, the hostess would proudly announce it was time to break the piñata.

Now I will tell you something that perhaps you do not know. Piñatas back then were made of ceramic, a material that we children were supposed to hit with a stick as it hovered over our heads like a Death Star with breast implants, and that after it shattered in a million pieces, we were supposed to dive into a pile to try to gather as much as we could of the toys and candy that had exploded from its sharp innards. The parents? They stood back and smiled, and I would not be surprised if bets were placed and money changed hands as Fernandito elbowed Camilito in the face to get to that miniature fire engine, and Blanquita bit Carmencita‘s leg as she snatched candied almonds from her iron grip.

Years and a heartfelt rendition of “I Like to Live in America” later, I prepared to torture celebrate my firstborn with the same practice, once he proved he could stand on his two feet and hit acquired targets with a bat. Awesome, I thought. Now it’s my turn to watch him dive into sharp fragments of a breakable material have fun with his family and friends! But as I waded my way through Parties’R’Us, there were no decent piñatas to be found. Soon I discovered that in this country all piñatas are made of cardboard and paper. Do you have any freaking idea how hard it is for a small child to break a paper and cardboard piñata? Do you have any clue how difficult it was for me? The thing just sort of caved in like unbreakable rotten fruit, and we had to de-hang it and tear into it like a pack of hyenas.

It was very Lord of the Flies, and of course I blame J.R.R. Tolkien for it. It’s clear that parents, in a misguided effort to honor Gimli’s attempt to destroy the One Ring at the Council of Elrond, have chosen to emulate his behavior through their American children. Piñatas, just like The Ring, cannot be simply destroyed.

You need a Barrett M82, or a McMillan TAC-50, which brings me to the title for this post.

If I had $10,000, I’d get me one of those. Either would do. Them .50 BMG rounds can go through just about anything… so I was tweaking the image I posted above, the Sitting in a Tree one, and I got to thinking, If that tall lady there threw her little shrunken fella a party, then she’d have to provide an unbreakable piñata as well. Pondering what would be best to bring it to submission made me think of those sniper rifles, which I would love to own, being as I love guns.

Of course I’d need to sell one of my livers to get ammo, but hey, sacrifices.

I gotta go. Have a nice day!

When I love to get mail

When the year began I made the resolution of not buying any more books for a while. The foundation for that decision was the amount of books I already have that I have not yet started to read, and a desire to keep a bit more money in my wallet.

I have failed.

There’s always the “last book I will get”, usually a fiction temptation, or delicious reference material, or a biography about Prokofiev (I have nine of those), and yesterday the postman dropped off a box that contained the last six books I will get this year. My heart pounds with a slight sense of guilt that sits in the back of the bus, all the way back while the selfish pleasure I take in my purchases bullies it and calls it names.

The box came from Daedalus, a company that sells very cheap books, from which I will probably continue to order books even if I were to find out the owner puts puppies in his mouth or takes candy from babies.

List of guilty pleasures:

This is a book about a dog, and it’s a Christmas present for someone who has two of those creatures. Me? I’m more of a cat person, multiplied by three. I started wrapping this coming Christmas’ presents in July, so as to avoid the stress and rush of the end of the year. So far it’s working very well.

I only hope the recipient of this book doesn’t notice I’m wrapping it in paper she’s used to give me presents in the past. Another thing I am is cheap. As long as being cheap doesn’t involve books.

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I got this book for someone who will invariably give it back to me come Christmas Day, so I suppose I’m cheating… but my conscience will rest in peace as soon as I remind it that I’m so dedicated to giving loved ones the right present that I would never dream of gifting them with something I would not love to receive myself.

I know I’m including the Amazon.com link with every book, but they are all available at Daedalus for far less money, in all cases for less than half the price. What I like best is finding used copies, even library rejects that turn out to be in fairly decent shape. There’s something tree-saving about purchasing a book that would have perhaps ended at a landfill.

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Because I love music of all periods, especially the Modern and Romantic ones, and I love to learn all I can about instruments and sheet music, so I can eventually play the former and read the latter.

So this one’s for me. My mom plays the piano a bit, and she often played Classical music records as my brothers and I were growing up, but she seldom mentioned composers or names of the pieces, so it’s taken me years to retrace my steps and learn who wrote what, so as to add it to my own music collection. Listening to NPR helped with that.

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I own a book about insults found in all of Shakespeare works, and it’s in a flap format that allows you to combine words to form multiple affronts. It’s fabulous fun, so when I saw this little number, I knew I had to have it.

When I ordered it I convinced myself it’s another Christmas present for someone in my family as bored with the f word as I am, but now that I’ve received it, I think I’ll keep it.

Oh, you know you’d do the same, you inconversable kites!

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I love books about languages, from dictionaries to grammar and writing books, any kind will do. I probably have an etymology “fetish”, since searching for the origin of words—phrases, idioms, all that good stuff—is compulsive, the fun kind of compelling imperative that helps me understand a language more and more each day.

The accent is something else. You Americans and your funny ways of pronouncing words.

If Kansas is ‘kan-zəs, then how come Arkansas is ‘ är-kən- sȯ? What the heck is that about? It’s fascinating to find out, and amusing to learn how different ethnic groups happen to carry pronunciation responsibility.

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I repeat the above for this one. I read a very interesting article a few months ago about the importance of learning different languages. It’s impossible to dedicate oneself to truly understand the structure of a new language and at the same time avoid learning about the culture that speaks it, and the ties that form with the culture to which one belongs.

That’s what I found when I learned English, and it’s the same thrill I hope to find when I learn to speak German. There are people that have been hearing me say that for years, but hey, it will happen. The day I’m able to call myself a polyglot I’m gonna get such a big head!

Who knows, maybe my body will grow too, to match its enormous size. 🙂