Monday, March 30, 2015

Avoiding Sex With Shoshanah


The professor is shocked to find his portrait on page 76. Shocked!

Avoiding Sex with Frenchmen
(A Picture Book for Adults)
By Shoshanah Lee Marohn

   Another book by a blog-pal! A travelog/bildungsroman by the irrepressible author of Diary of Mindless Minion Number 2703, most of this illustrated novel was featured on her blog in 2014. This version's 117 pages are filled with a cornucopia of illustrations, digressions and even a separate portrait of every Frenchman who propositioned Shoshanah and her friends on their trip to Paris in the early 1990s.

   Better travelogs relate not only the external events and locations of a trip, but also illuminate the (usually) stranger interior landscapes of the the author. This book doesn't shy away from the tribulations of a young woman, on the cusp of adulthood, who finds herself in the situation of reality crushing a long held dream. Not that it is a tragedy—it is very amusing—her unfettered takes on France, Frenchmen and friends is based in reality (although it has fictionalized elements.) It certainly jibes with the stories I've heard from the women I know who explored Europe when they were in their late teens/early twenties. Perhaps someday I'll be able to persuade the Weaver to write down her travel memoirs (including the night she and her friend spent in a French Army barracks!) Shoshanah's previous book, A Murder of Crows and Other Woes, was for children but this book is definitely not (although it would be perfect for a teen-aged girl with a bad case of wanderlust.)

   You can get the book (paperback or Kindle) on Amazon.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Friday, March 27, 2015

Seventy Year Itch



   In the morning, Mary was up, dressed, and out of the house before Sean awoke. She went to the spot in the meadow where she had seen the apparition of Emily. After reading the Book of Power, she could sense the center of the ‘spot’ quite easily; all of her experiences had begun to merge into a coherent whole. They didn’t make ‘sense’ in the strict sense of the word, but Mary felt much more comfortable in exploring the aspects of her new-found powers. She stepped into the locus and immediately felt the same coldness which had previously happened when she had been inhabited by Emily. This time, however, Emily was ‘talking’ to Mary, not through her.

   "Welcome to the Matriarchy," thought Emily, “I see that you have unlocked the secrets of the Book of Power. You have proven to be most receptive. I am able to communicate with you, but only for a limited time.”

   “I am grateful for your assistance,” thought Mary, “There is so much to know.”

   “And time is short. Listen now, I will tell you how the situation we now find ourselves in has come to pass,” thought Emily, who then began to relate the story:
   “When I was a child,  I learned the Secrets of the Matriarchy from my grandmother.  Seeing that I was a receptive she instructed me, in secret, in all the powers as well as giving me the rings. She was the victim of a witch-hunt by the local minister, and was taken away to an asylum. I never saw her again. I kept these things to myself, and when I came of age I went to New York City, a place where my grandmother said I would find like-minded people and be able to live without the threat of persecution from the provincials in Iowa. I landed in Greenwich Village, and fell in with a group of struggling artists who would soon become successful. Although my artistic talents were great, I soon learned that cultivating the interests of rich men in power was far more lucrative. The Regelind tobacco dynasty had grown enormously in the twenties, and I became the mistress of its founder, John Regelind, Sr., and was ultimately impregnated by him. A scandal would be bad for his marriage and reputation so, by mutual consent, I returned to Decorah and gave birth to Tina. After a suitable time, I left her with Henry and Alice, who were childless, and returned to New York City and took up with John again, right where we had left off.

   After the 1929 crash, Regelind Tobacco was only slightly affected; people couldn’t give up their smokes. It was one of the few industries to actually grow during the depression. When World War II broke out, John Regelind was consumed with government work, but by then I had became consumed with his son, John Junior. He was in the military, but stationed in Virginia, where we could discreetly continue our affair. Again I became pregnant and again I returned to Iowa, where I gave birth to Sean’s mother, Marylin. While I was there, I tutored Edwin Duddle. When Tina found out about our intimacy, I went back to New York. John Sr. had died of a heart attack, and John Jr. was now the head of the company. Our relationship was strained. He said he wanted to make up with me and brought me to his home in Virginia. On this pretext, he lured me into a strange round building in a remote area of the estate. When I was inside, several men grabbed me. I used the power of suspended animation—you’ve read about it in the book—and I was immobilized. I have been trapped in this state since then—never aging, but immune from all harm. The group of men call themselves ‘The Brotherhood’ and through the years have used their power and influence to oppress the masses and destroy any manifestation of The Matriarchy.

   Although my physical being is in a state of suspended animation, it is possible for me to communicate with ‘sensitives.’ Your awareness of the Matriarchy was triggered when you became pregnant. There are other ‘sensitives’ throughout the world. Their time is coming soon, and you will be their prophet. Sean’s children will be leaders of the new generation who will release the world from the dark grip of The Brotherhood.

   “How will I know what paths I should take?” thought Mary.

   “Make the ‘sensitives’ aware of their powers,” thought Emily, “Protect Sean and his children from harm. Find me and release me from bondage, for that will begin the destruction of The Brotherhood.”

   “Sean and I will have more children?” thought Mary.

   “You and Sean will have a daughter. Sean’s son has already been born, in the tribe of Auður the deep.”

   Mary began to feel the coldness lift from her shoulders; she knew her time with Emily was coming to an end.

   “When will I speak with you again?” thought Mary.

   “At the time of my deliverance,” thought Emily, “When we share a naked kiss.”

                    ———————————————————

   When Sean woke up, sunlight was streaming into the bedroom. He walked over to the window and, looking out, saw Mary standing in the meadow with her head bowed. He watched her until she raised her head and began walking back to the farmhouse.  By the time Sean was dressed he heard the kitchen screen door slam. Going down the stairs and into the kitchen, Mary and Tina were preparing breakfast.

   “You were with Emily?” said Tina.

   “She was here,” Mary said, “We had a conversation. She told me about what happened in New York: about her life, about The Matriarchy and The Brotherhood, and about Sean’s children.”

   “Children, as in the plural?” asked Sean.

   “The boy in Iceland is yours, Sean. And he’s part of this as well,” said Mary.

   “Oh dear,” said Tina.

   “Emily told me that her body is in a state of suspended animation. She is imprisoned in a ‘round building’ on the Regelind estate in Virginia,” said Mary.

   “Regelind, of the tobacco dynasty?” asked Sean.

   “Yes.  The Brotherhood is affiliated with it,” said Mary,  “She told me who your father is, Tina, and who Marilyn’s father was.”

   “Do I want to know?” Tina nervously asked, “This is all tied together, isn’t it?”

   “John Sr. was your father, Tina. He was the one who wrote those love letters,” said Mary, “But John Jr. was your mother’s father, Sean. No wonder they didn’t want it to become known—you are both heirs to the Regelind fortune.”

   “And, for that reason, my mother was killed. I suspect that she had found out and was threatening to expose the Regelinds. Is there a John the third?” said Sean.

   “It wouldn’t surprise me if he is the current leader of The Brotherhood,” said Mary, ”All the secrets will be soon revealed. Emily has been waiting seventy years to tell them.”

                    ———————————————————

   After breakfast, Mary and Sean went into town to check in with developments in Seattle.  Then Sean took Mary to visit the final power center.  It was in a churchyard, not far from Tina’s place. The church was on a windswept hill. Adjoining it was a small cemetery dotted with gravestones. Most were new, but there were also a sprinkling of older ones as well. Mary found the ‘spot’ with little trouble. It was behind one of the larger monuments. She sat down in its shadow. Sean wandered among the rows, at a distance, keeping an eye on Mary.

   Mary began her trance.

                    ———————————————————

    Molly Berenson, in Seattle, hesitated a moment before phoning. She felt as if she was signing her own death warrant. She did press the ‘call’ button, however, and when Sally O’Donnell answered, she simply said:

   “Coffee today?”

   “Same place, same time?” answered Sally.

   “Yes. See you then,” said Molly. She hung up. And then she threw up.




Fiction 

By Professor Batty




Monday, March 23, 2015

Freaks



   When I was about eight I was allowed to see some of the sideshows at the State Fair.  Even at that age, I knew that some of the freaks at the fair were fake or augmented in some way. Some, like Voltara, were just hoary illusions from the 1920s. One show I do vividly remember featured conjoined twins. They were boys, a few years younger than me, and unlike some of the acts, these 'freaks' were real.

   They had their own show, with a separate admission. They were exhibited in a room about 12 feet square, furnished with a TV set and toys. There they sat, attractive children, normal in appearance except that they had four arms and two heads. It disturbed me greatly. I was at the age when I had just begun to figure out that all creation was not perfect. My little brain thought long and hard about them. It may have even given me a touch of empathy.

   I have wondered, from time to time, what became of them.

   The other day I found out.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, March 20, 2015

The Book of Powers

 

   When Sean and Mary returned to Tina’s, Mary went straight up to their bedroom. Sean went to the kitchen where Tina was beginning to prepare supper.

   “Can I help?” asked Sean.

   “Certainly, you can peel the potatoes,” said Tina, handing him the peeler, “How did your trip into town go?”

   “Well, we’ve got some news from Seattle, it appears that we’ve had a stroke of bad luck—we have to go back to work.”

   “Really? Your retirement didn’t last long.”

   “It isn’t really a new job, it’s just some things at ADR which need attention. We thought they might have a rough transition period, that’s why we hid out here, so we could have a couple of weeks to ourselves,” said Sean, “On a more serious note, there have been some developments in the Billygate affair—some information about who tried to kill me in Virginia.”

   “Are they going to arrest someone?” asked Tina.

   “No, Roger Ramsen is dead. There is some other information about the connection of him with a group of men who were probably behind my mother’s death as well. They are very dangerous.”

   “So, when you are back in Seattle,” said Tina, “Will they try to attack again?”

   “I don’t know, but we intend to to find out more about them when we get back,” said Sean, “We’ll let you know what’s going on. We plan on heading out Wednesday morning and driving more or less straight through, with only one overnight stop.”



   Back in the bedroom,  Mary had opened the book that Edwin had given her. The session at the park bench had made her aware that she now had knowledge of the symbols and hieroglyphics contained in them. The cryptic signs, which had been hitherto meaningless, were now understandable. Mary read the first page:

            The Matriarchy and the Fulfillment of Human Potential

   Throughout the millennia, there has been an underlying current of greater awareness, sustained by a matrilineal succession, emerging from time to time in Women of Distinction. Sappho, the Oracle at Delphi, Mary Magdalene, the great women mystics of the middle ages, Auður the Deep, as well as the thousands of unheralded seers and witches: all have nurtured the secrets of this understanding in the face of massive hostility. This is The Book of Powers, which describes the applications and responsibilities bestowed upon those who have the capability to use these forces. The companion volume, The Book of Keys, will allow the holders of this awareness to utilize the powers described here. In that you, the reader, are able to understand these words is proof that you hold these powers. Use them wisely.

    There was a list of 17 chapters; the titles were indicative of many of the things Mary had already experienced: The Animal Mind, The History of the Organism, Speaking Through Others, Heightened Sensation, Vision of the Past, Thought Transference. Other chapters concerned things she had yet to undergo: Suspended Animation, Material Discorporation, and, the most intriguing of all, Birth and Death.

   She began to read.



   Þora had been watching her son Vilhjálmur carefully since his episode early Sunday morning. He had calmed down after she cleaned him up, he had no fever and otherwise seemed to be normal, even taking a long nap Monday. That evening her uncle Hilmar had stopped in. Over coffee, she had told Hilmar of the odd behavior which the child had exhibited. Hilmar took a keen interest in her comments.  When Vilhjálmur toddled into the kitchen he picked up the child and held him in his arms.

   “Yndisleg drengur,” said Hilmar, as he gazed into the child's eyes, “hvað er leyndarmálið á bak augunum?” *

                    ————————————————————

   At dinner, Mary was ravenous.

   “I’m afraid that I’ve been possessed by Mr. Creosote,” she said, after her third helping of mashed potatoes.

   “My goodness, who is that?” said Tina, “Is that one of Emily’s lovers?”

   “No, it’s a character from a Monty Python film,” said Sean.

   Tina drew a blank: “Monty Python?"

   “I’m sorry, it is an old British comedy troupe. Mr. Creosote was a patron in a fancy supper club, who ate everything on the menu.”

   “And what happened to him, dear?” asked Tina.

   “He blew up,” said Mary, “I don’t plan on following in his footsteps.”

   “Don’t forget the projectile vomiting,” said Sean.

   “That doesn’t seem to be very humorous,” said Tina, “It must be an English thing.”

   “What were you doing upstairs?” asked Sean, “Besides developing an appetite?”

   “After this afternoon’s session, I found that I am able to read Emily’s books,” said Mary, “They confirm what I’ve been going through. If the ‘magic’ is as powerful as it appears to be, it has almost unlimited powers. I’ll be visiting the last two sites tomorrow. There are some things I still don’t fully understand.”

   “Use the powers carefully, dear,” said Tina, “We wouldn’t want you to explode.”

                    ————————————————————

   Molly Berenson opened her email to find Mary’s return message:
Hi Molly, OK to proceed, be careful. Pick a neutral site for the data exchange, upload the info to the dropbox and then return the media to Sally. The less you know, the better. We'll be back Saturday, and will contact you after we examine the data. Thanks for sticking your neck out on this, it could be a life-saver for us, and perhaps put an end to this affair.

Mary







 
*"Lovely boy", "What is the secret behind your eyes?"



Fiction

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Alda Among the Hidden People

The Little Book of the Hidden People:
Twenty stories of elves from Icelandic folklore
by Alda Sigmundsdóttir

   This short eBook from Alda is another in her continuing series of informal yet almost scholarly works about Icelandic culture.  As with her previous efforts, the only fault I can find with any of them is that I'm finished too quickly.

  This book is a welcome respite from 'cute' and sanitized folk stories. There are lots of sexual escapades, some very peculiar Icelandic customs, as well some touching tales of love ending in grief. Alda does a great job in filling in the background on the stories, some of which would be real 'head-scratchers' without her explanations.


UPDATE: It's now available on Amazon.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Monday, March 16, 2015

Among My Souvenirs



   Clearing out my desk jetsam; a mess of unclassifiable miscellany. I seem to attract microfiber cleaning cloths, old wallets, computer dongles, even a pet rock! The letter openers are almost an anachronism, although the one in the shape of a naked lady was designed by the legendary Gil Elvgren. A watch with a dead battery, ditto for the calculator, a variety of Icelandic mementos, some class reunion memorabilia, and even the old Flippism is the Key key!

   It wasn't too bad this time, it has been much worse. I spared you the sight of miscellaneous screws, tacks and paper clips. I did find a couple of things I had been looking for—tools which belonged in my workshop—but that cleanup is for another day.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Friday, March 13, 2015

Touching Base



   “Would you care to tell me about that experience?” asked Sean. He and Mary were walking back to Tina’s from the old Duddle place. He was amazed at her rapid recovery. He had experienced only a moment of what she had been going through and was still a little shaky.

   “I was indulging my curiosity. I found out that infinity is not a toy. I’ll be more careful from now on,” Mary said, “Thanks for being my Prince Charming or, more accurately, my Prince Uncharming,” Mary looked Sean over: “Your hair is a mess, you need a shave, your complexion is an ashy gray, and your shorts are wet. I’d say it looks like you’re ready for another session.”

   After Sean nodded feebly, Mary continued: “The old train station in town is on the list. We should stop in the Magpie first, I haven’t checked my emails since last Wednesday.”

   “That must be a record for the longest time you’ve gone without,” said Sean as they approached the creek, “Sure.”

    “Give me a piggy-back ride—your shorts are already sopping wet already,” Mary said as she began to remove her shoes, “I’ve been naked here once already today.  I wouldn’t want the glimpse of my classical form giving you any ideas.”

   “I had wondered how you had gotten over the creek with getting your clothes wet,” said Sean.

   “Occam’s Razor. Up I go,” Mary said as she hopped up on Sean’s back.

   A fox, trotting along the shore, looked up in wonder at the strange two-headed beast wading through the water.



   The Leader of The Brotherhood read his emails with a nervous agitation. The private eye they had hired in Seattle had nothing to show for his thousand-dollar-a-day effort; it had been over a week without a single sighting of Sean Carroll or Mary Robinson. His contacts who were in charge of credit card reports had nothing on the couple either. What really bothered him was not knowing the extent of Sean’s knowledge of The Brotherhood. If it was limited to those materials which had been leaked to the Congressional hearings, The Brotherhood's secrecy would be maintained. Their contacts in Congress and the State Department had done a good job in defusing a potentially volatile situation. Billy, in his research, had been on the verge of discovering The Brotherhood but he had let his hatred of his father blind him to the real power behind the man.

   The potential expiration of the Homeland Security Act was troubling him as well. The Tea Party anti-government congressmen in the house were voting against every government program they could. There was a real possibility they could unwittingly dismantle the structure which The Brotherhood had built. 9/11 had been a part of that. The dividends that accrued to The Brotherhood from its 9/11 plan were massive.  

   The Brotherhood’s latest effort, the Seattle-Kitsap Plan, was almost ready to be deployed. The plan would involve a ‘terrorist’ attack on the nuclear weapons holding facility at the naval base west of Seattle. Hundreds of warheads, exploding in a messy chain-reaction, would obliterate the base and make large parts of the Pacific Northwest uninhabitable for years. It would, however, give a massive boost to all the income sources that The Brotherhood depended upon: weapons manufacture, supplying and supporting military actions, and the funding of covert intelligence activity. It was risky but no riskier than 9/11 had been. Sean, if he had the information to connect the dots, might be able to expose them all.

   There was no way around it. Sean Carroll would have to be eliminated, as well as everyone else who had been directly involved with him: Mary Robinson, Sally O’Donnell, and even Sean’s old girlfriend Molly Berenson. Sean’s relationship with Emily was another threat. The Brotherhood’s power was based in part on maintaining Emily in her state of suspended animation. There was little chance of anyone finding her body but were she to be awakened somehow… He thought about the consequences and muttered to himself.



   The afternoon crowd at The Magpie Coffeehouse had already begun to disperse by the time Sean and Mary came in. Sean went to the counter to order, while Mary sat down and began to check her email. She had over thirty items in her inbox, most of it inconsequential, but a notification from the old ADR drop-box caught her eye. The account hadn’t been used since the Billygate affair; she was surprised that it was still active. She logged in and opened the message:

Hi, Sean and Mary, 

Molly here. I used the dropbox because I couldn't get a hold of you any other way. I had a meeting with Sally O'Donnell who said that she has important information concerning you two. She said that she used to be the mistress of a man named Ramsen, who died last week.  Evidently he was part of a bigger organization, the real group behind the things Billy was looking into when he died. She thinks that your lives may be in danger. Contact me. 

   When Sean sat down, Mary showed him the message.

   “So Ramsen was behind it,” Sean said, “And now Sally O’Donnell wants to change sides. Can we trust her?”

   “It’s all starting to come together, but I still can’t figure out how Emily is at the heart of this. When we get back to Seattle we’ll have our work cut out for us,” said Mary, “If this group is as ruthless as it appears, we might have to go underground.”

   “Anything else of interest?” said Sean to Mary as she scrolled through her messages.

   “Put your ring on,” Mary replied. After Sean did she thought: “The lawyers say we’re needed back in Seattle to attend to some issues from the ADR transition. It would give me an opportunity to be able to use the old ADR network for a little ‘private’ research on this ‘Brotherhood‘ group.

   “I would think that we could use their secure facilities to ‘hide out' from any prying eyes,” thought Sean, “Did the lawyers mention anything about new Congressional hearings? I keep waiting for that other shoe to drop.

  “No. Hopefully, we’ll have a couple of weeks to work on this. Too many questions, not enough answers,” thought Mary, “What do you think I should I tell Molly?

   “If she can get the information, have her upload it to the dropbox, we can look at it on the trip back to Seattle,’ thought Sean, as he finished his coffee, “If we leave Wednesday and drive back with only one overnight stop, we would make it back before Saturday. That will give us a couple of days to get settled before we have to go back to ADR.“

   “I’ll tell the lawyers we’ll be available Monday, and I’ll write Molly as well,” thought Mary, “Then we can check out the train station.



   The train station, which was no longer in use, had been preserved and was being used as an office space. Sean and Mary walked up to it from the back of the building. Mary hadn’t picked up any ‘vibes.’ When they walked around to the front, Mary spotted a plaque that stated that the station had been moved to its current site from its former location, a few blocks away.

   “That explains why I got nothing,” said Mary, “The ‘doors’ must be location specific and not tied to any particular structure. Let’s check out the area down by the park, the trail there was built on the old rail line.”

   As they walked down the trail, Mary began to receive sensations. There was a park bench located at the epicenter of the phenomenon, so Mary and Sean sat down. Mary went into a trance. Sean kept an eye on her and, apart from a slight tremor, Mary appeared to be in full control. After about ten minutes she stood up and simply said:

   “I’ve got a couple of books I need to read. Let’s go.”


Fiction


By Professor Batty




Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wanda Gág Day!

   It's that time of year again, the day to celebrate the birth of Wanda Gág: artist, writer, translator and free-spirited inspiration. Yesterday I returned to her archives at the University of Minnesota where I finally was able to see the files which had been unavailable on my previous visits. There was a ton of material, including drawings, leftist magazines and numerous photographs.

   First up is a panel from "Wanda in Wonderland", a short-lived syndicated newspaper activity page for children (circa 1925):



   Then I found this exquisite detail on a 'puzzle box' Wanda designed, the area pictured below was only about 3 inches wide:



   Here's a 1918 glimpse of a young Wanda exploring a new "look" on the rooftop of her New York apartment, she hasn't yet committed to her signature hairstyle:


                                            Wanda Gág                           Lucile Lundquist

   Next we see a different side of a much older Wanda, enjoying the company of fellow printmaking heavyweights (note that she's sitting between two of her lovers), probably at the MOMA Art in Our Time opening in 1939:


                  Rockwell Kent                         Carl Zigrosser                 Wanda Gág                   Adolph Dehn

                               Happy 122nd Birthday Wanda!



                               All photographs by Robert Janssen, except rooftop image

   Much more on Wanda here…

   UPDATE: Check out today's installment from Brain Pickings, it's not a coincidence…

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Monday, March 09, 2015

Woman Lake - 1980



   The weekend party at a rented lake cabin was winding down. I was standing on the dock with my camera, anticipating a dramatic sunset as it neared the trees on the western shore of Woman Lake, a fair-size body of water in Cass County, Minnesota.

   "Hey mister! take my picture!" It was the girl from the cabin next door. She was on the verge of puberty, an age where she still retained childish enthusiasm and unselfconscious grace. Her legs and arms were covered with marks from mosquito bites. I suspected that she was a little bored as there weren't any other children around. She had been 'spying' on us "grownups' all afternoon. We were younger than her parents and she seemed fascinated by our behavior.

   "O.K., where do you want to be?" I said, interested in how she would present herself.

   "Right here!" she said, standing stiffly with her arms at her sides. I almost laughed when she thrust her chest up, but I just smiled and snapped.

   "Why don't you sit on the dock," I said, and she eagerly complied. The sun had gone behind a cloud and the light had become softer. I talked with her a little: told her my name, asked her what name was, did she come here every summer? She seemed happy that an adult would have a regular conversation with her. She began to relax, we talked some more, and when her 'natural girl' appearance returned I took a picture:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Friday, March 06, 2015

In the Loop



“ohgodohgodohgod… machin pye pye… nowisthenow… fanm nan… kóman ou fé pale… godohgodoh… mother… li te manje… ohgodgodgod… nou te pale lontan… god oh god… li ta bliye w si ou pa t la… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… maryhelpmemary… ohgodohgodohgodohmarymotherofgod… ”
   As the room pulsed around her, Mary found her mind filled with chants, some of them in languages that she couldn't understand. Her previous experiences were nothing compared to this. At first, she resisted their seductive call, but after awhile she felt her resistance beginning to fade away as she tried to understand the chanting. Some of it sounded French but was more primitive: “li ta bliye w si ou pa t la… ” At least the words “ohgodohgodohgod… ohmarymotherofgod… ” were understandable.  Who was calling for her help? Who was it that needed saving? Was she the Mary who would become the mother of god? And the most chilling of all was the phrase in what sounded as if it was being spoken in an ancient tongue:
“guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk…


   “Mary around?” said Sean as he walked into Tina’s kitchen, “Is she still in bed?”

   “No, she got up right after you left,” said Tina, “She said she was going to visit one of those ‘power sites,’ the one at the old Duddle place. I told her it was probably a ruin, but she was keen on going. She left about an hour ago, I would think that she’d be back by now.”

   “Where is this place?” asked Sean, as he unloaded the groceries.

   “Go out back behind the barn—there’s an old cow path that leads to it. It’s a mile or so. You’ll have to ford the creek.”

   “The cow path, huh? I’m going to go and check on her.”

   Sean found the path with little difficulty; it was easy to see where Mary had walked through the grass. When he got to the creek he noticed that there was a wet spot on a boulder on the far side, with the trail continuing past it. Holding his shoes and socks over his head, Sean waded through the creek with only the bottom of his shorts getting wet. He followed Mary’s trail until he reached the old Duddle homestead. He stepped into the run-down house. As he waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, he called out:

   “Mary? Mary are you in here?”

   There was no response.


“guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… godohgod… li ta bliye w si ou pa t la… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… mary… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… marywhereareyou?”
   Mary had spent what seemed like hours hearing the ancient phrase stuck on repeat in an infinite loop. When the references to Mary’s name began to reappear she was annoyed yet curious. In her trance state she felt peaceful, guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk had become her personal mantra, the presence of her name felt as if something was trying to break the spell. She thought:  “This is what eternity is like.”
“guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… godohgod… li ta bliye w si ou pa t la…guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… mary… mary… mary… mary… mary…”


   Sean entered the wrecked living room and saw Mary standing very still, with her head down. Her mumbling of strange phrases was barely audible.

   “Mary… Mary… Mary, can you hear me?” he said. Mary made no response. Sean was afraid to touch her in her trance state, uncertain of her reaction to being interrupted. If she were to jump or try to flee she could be seriously injured by falling through the room’s missing floorboards. “Mary… Mary… Mary… ” he repeated. She continued her chant, oblivious to Sean’s presence. Sean remembered the ring in the key pocket of his pants. After carefully positioning himself between Mary and the most dangerous part of the floor, he slipped the ring on his finger. He nearly collapsed from the sensory overload as he was enveloped by Mary’s trance-state. He continued to try to make contact with Mary as the chants became deafening and the room throbbed around them.

   Mary remained enchanted:
“guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… god oh god… li ta bliye w si ou pa t la… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… mary… mary… come backmary… mary… mary… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… god oh god… li ta bliye w si ou pa t la… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… mary… mary comeback… mary… can you hear me?”

   Finally, as he felt he was about to be overcome, Sean reached for Mary’s body. It was cold but put up no resistance to his holding her. Sean moved closer and, as the pulsing shapes and colors of the room whirled about them, he kissed Mary gently on the lips. The kaleidoscope of sensations collapsed around Sean as the room regained its former appearance. Mary opened her eyes. “Kiss me again,” she thought.

   “Welcome back,” Sean thought, and he obeyed her command.





Fiction

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Hekla

One of the persisting joys I receive from attending Iceland Airwaves is that of seeing an unknown artist emerge years later with a new EP release. I last saw Hekla Magnúsdóttir playing theremin with the Icelandic surf band Bárujárn in 2009. Outside of being the only theremin player in the festival, she also stood out for her fearless playing on a difficult instrument. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she now has a collection of her solo compositions available on line, some of which even have a video as well. Hekla is definitely on her own 'island' of eerie electronica; she describes it as being a bit 'horrible' at times, but perfect for the moods she is trying to create. It would make a suitable soundtrack for the recent installments of The Matriarchy. The inverted cover art is Flippism at its finest. I got a big kick out of her in 2009 and an even bigger one from the six tracks on this short album. She has also supplied music for a dance piece video.

Here's a little video feature on Hekla from the Reykjavík Grapevine:



You can preview the album and order it as a download from her website.

Hekla rocking out in 2009 with Bárujárn:


What a sweetheart!

UPDATE: She'll be performing at Iceland Airwaves this year.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Monday, March 02, 2015

The Campbell Brothers' Love Supreme


February 26, 2015

   The 'sacred steel' sounds of the Campbell Brothers transformed the post-modern Walker Art Center's McGuire Theater into the Gospel according to John Coltrane last Thursday evening. Steel guitars are the "weird uncle" of the guitar family, their emotive and sometimes otherworldly cries can reach places in a listener's subconscious that are usually the province of vocalists, violinists, and theremin players. The Campbell Brothers are the world's foremost practitioners of this esoteric discipline. When they set out to interpret John Coltrane's masterpiece A Love Supreme, music aficionados took notice.

   This was a refreshingly honest concert: no light shows, costumes or other gimmicks, just the Brothers and the music they love. Even the sound was unaugmented, although the amplifiers and drums were being miked, it was for a radio simulcast, not for the PA system. Starting off with a few of their 'hits', a captivating groove was set from the beginning, Wade in the Water, Hell No, Heaven Yes, and an emotional rendition of Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come. The centerpiece of the show was, of course, A Love Supreme, nearly forty minutes of inspired play/worship. Transcendent at times, driven by Phillip Campbell's driving chords and his son Carl's inventive drumming and the soaring sounds of Chuck and Darrick's steel playing. It isn't often that such merging of styles is so seamlessly integrated. Bassist Daric Bennett was exemplary as well, holding down the groove with a minimal style, yet also opening up on an extended solo.

   A welcome break from the midwinter blahs, a restorative for mind and spirit.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0