Book Pile

My previous post led me to consider which books, or perhaps it would be better to say which works, I would put in my heavenly pile. I mentioned two already. To them I would add, in no order of merit, the following non-exhaustive list, all of which left an impression on me.

  • Metamorphoses
  • The Iliad
  • The Odyssey
  • Jason, by Henry Treece
  • Candide
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Beowulf
  • The Green Man (Tolkien translation)
  • The Arthurian novels of T H White, Mary Stewart, Rosemary Sutcliffe, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Nikolai Tolstoy
  • The Mabinogion and the novelisations by Evangeline Walton
  • The Chronicles of Prydain
  • Moby Dick
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Slaughterhouse Five
  • Catch 22
  • The Forever War
  • The Day of the Triffids
  • Tiger, Tiger! (The Stars My Destination)
  • The Demolished Man
  • Macroscope – and sequels
  • Ringworld
  • The Einstein Intersection
  • The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Starship Troopers
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner
  • Collected Works of W B Yeats
  • Collected Works of Oscar Wilde
  • Collected Works of William Shakespeare
  • Collected Works of Robert Burns
  • Green Eggs and Ham

Bliss

I was right. Freed of gravity in the pool, every bone and joint, every muscle, even my arthritic little finger, stopped hurting. To my mind, if heaven existed it would have to be nothing more than a surcease from pain. And perhaps a pile of good books. The pile would not have to be all that big. My memory is so poor I can’t remember all the details of the best literature I’ve read, and I love rereading and rediscovering.

It’s like returning to a forgotten favourite place, finding it completely unchanged, yet observing things about it you know were there, but you never really noticed before.

I have just received in the mail the latest posthumously published complete volume of Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea collection. The novel that became a trilogy then five, then six novels plus more short stories. I have written before that this work, along with Tolkien’s Hobbit tales, contains, in my opinion, all one needs to know about being a decent human being, without the crappy trappings and hypocrisy of religion.

This is the third time I’ve bought the Earthsea volumes, but the first time I finally collected them all in one.

But I digress. I spent a full three hours in the pool today, despite the rain, and despite the water being the coolest I have experienced since I started swimming there. I was not swimming the whole time. Over an hour was spent leaning on a lane marker in conversation with two delightful people on a wide range of subjects from travel to racism and fish and chips and depression and exercise. I hope I meet them both again.

Returning to gravity was as unpleasant as always. I could hardly climb into the car. A quick trip to Aldi turned into an exhausting trek, and I’m buggered. In fact, it is now mid afternoon and I think I may have a late lunch of slow cooked vegetable soup and spend the rest of the day in bed with Ursula.

Derogation Row

I’m collecting all the useless words and then I’ll knock them down

The streets are full of epigrams, there’s discomfort in the town

The constable is pacing slow, he’s trying not to dance

The drunkard knows he can walk a line if he only had a chance

The cheerleaders are goose stepping, they need somewhere to go

They took the evening off to visit Derogation Row

.

The single mother is wondering. There’s something she should know

She forgot her baby in the bank not too long ago

Then she saw the epigrams as they began to bleed

Like pesky pigeons in the park, pecking poisoned seed

She saw the space between her hands where something ought to go

And ran to find her baby back on Derogation Row

.

Now the moon must get a mention and the stars are quoted too

The prognosticators all predict, because that’s what they do

They spout obscure biblical references like scholars did of yore

At the Walrus and a carpenter as they staggered out the door

They’d laboured hard for seven years with nothing much to show

And ended in the gutter down on Derogation Row

.

Shakespeare’s words were rounded up; they all felt so afraid

They were accused of coinage once the charges had been laid

Portia donned her mantle and her mercy was not strained

She argued very strongly that all words should be unchained

A Noun, a Verb, an Adjective would not Decline to go

Where every word is equal, down on Derogation Row

.

Einstein can’t believe that quantum physics is a thing

His Universe is infinite, it’s not shaped like a ring

His sage advice to Schrödinger that he should get a pet

Was just ignored, without a word. He doesn’t have one yet

He thought he’d put one in a box, which only goes to show

Life’s just a thought experiment on Derogation Row

.

The word has gone around the world. And all across the planet

They dance the Time Warp in the nude, and pray to Brad and Janet

The songs are getting sillier, Bob Dylan’s clearly mad

Now I’m quoting Richard O’Brien, there’s little more to add

Nothing beats the madness of the Rocky Horror Show

Not even cultural references on Derogation Row

.

You have to be a gentle soul to like Bob Dylan’s verse

It seems to me that you can see this parody’s no worse

I could go on, and show you all the talent that I’ve got

I could go on. But you’ll be cheered to hear that I will not

So for your sake I’ll finish now. Because I’ve come to know.

When it’s time to end the song of Derogation Row.

© 2020 ARF

Rain

I’m living on the second largest sand island in the world. As far as I can tell, the only thing stopping it from washing back into the sea is a dense matrix of vegetation roots. I was thinking about this at 04:00 this morning, as I sat and watched the most spectacular show of lightning I’ve seen since I left the Kimberley.

I think that may have been the heaviest rainfall since I moved here. Now that I’m going nautical again I’ve started taking an interest in the weather, so I have subscribed to a few apps that keep me up to date with wind rain and tides. Watching the rain on radar, it was pleasing to see it was heading southwest to where it will no doubt be welcome in the Burning Lands.

The storm reminded me of the rain that fell while I was camped at Inskip Point, which resulted in the flood that damaged the caravan undercarriage. Also causing a huge sinkhole. This time, fortunately it hasn’t lasted as long and did not result in a flood.

I went through the archives to see exactly when that was, and could not find it. For months I did not write in my blog. Everything was posted on Facebook. Now lost.

What kind of journal keeper forgets to keep his journal – and worse – deletes all his notes?

How cool is modern technology? When I gained my navigation certificate, GPS tech was a closely guarded military secret. Now, not just a GPS, but my phone and my iPad can tell me where I am and can carry the tide tables and Marine Charts of all the world. When I had a set of charts for New Zealand alone they filled a cabinet. Now a full set of charts covering Australia and New Zealand occupy an imaginary space in a piece of plastic and rare earth metals smaller than my little fingernail.

A List.

In my opinion. Best SF Films of all Time
A list. Not in any way to be considered definitive. The list is in no particular order. It would be impossible to objectively rank these movies. Chosen because they came immediately to mind and because aside from being well directed and performed they were well written and had great special effects for their time. Also they contributed to human philosophy and weren’t just cowboys and first nations in space. So you won’t see Star Wars here. Alien just squeaked in. I tried to choose ten, but settled for fifteen. Correction , eighteen
Ok, twenty one two. There are more, no doubt, that should be on this list. The not-so-subtle racism of Planet of the Apes probably should keep it off. I’m open to debate. Either way, I just mentioned it.

The List

  • Metropolis – the 1927 original
  • Blade Runner
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Gattaca
  • Predestination
  • 2001 A Space Odyssey
  • Twelve Monkeys
  • Moon
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Ghost in the Shell (original animation)
  • Brazil
  • Solaris (1976 version)
  • Back to the Future – all three
  • Alien – although it is really a gothic horror set in space
  • Aliens – maybe… after that the franchise went awry.
  • Gravity. Some far-fetched plot devices but otherwise almost perfect. Stunning soundtrack.
  • Forbidden Planet (1956)
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  • A Boy and His Dog

Oh, and one more. Special mention:

I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) – Because it is the first SF film I ever saw. I was probably ten years old. It stirred my imagination. When I saw it again years later, I realised it was remarkably underrated as a B Movie. In 2001 I noticed a distinct similarity to its plot in The Astronaut’s Wife, which, despite having Charlize Theron, does not make my list.

The Beautiful Blue Danube

Sometimes I wonder about how my mind works. My neighbour’s morning coughing spell today sounded to me like The Blue Danube.

Cough, cough, cough, cough cough

Cough cough, cough cough

Cough Cough cough cough cough

Cough cough cough cough

Cough cough cough cough COUGH

Cough cough COUGH

Cough cough cough

Cough cough

cough cough

AHEM

Johann Strauss II

Gave me an earworm.