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October 30, 2016

Sunday Morning Book Thread 10-30-2016: Stranger Things [OregonMuse]

Del Toro library 1_525.jpg
Library of Guillermo del Toro

Good morning to all of you morons and moronettes and bartenders everywhere and all the ships at sea. Welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, where men are men, all the 'ettes are gorgeous, safe spaces are underneath your house and are used as protection against actual dangers, like tornadoes, hurricanes, IRS audits, Donald Trump grabbing some mish, and special snowflakes evaporate in hot sunlight. And unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it's these hideous things.

Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.
--Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

Pic Notes

Both photos on today's thread came from this NY Times piece on horror-film director Guillermo del Toro. You should read it because it will give you some idea of what a good newspaper the NY Times can be when its content is not warped by progressive political hackery.

About Mr. del Toro's library

From the NY Times piece:

The cream-colored paperbacks in the center shelf are the first scary books that Mr. del Toro bought as a child, including a “Best Horror Stories” anthology from 1971, when he was 7. “It’s by my hero, Forrest Ackerman. I wrote him to adopt me, and my dad found the letter and beat” the heck “out of me,” Mr. del Toro said, using stronger language but laughing at the memory.

And the man in the shot? "It's H. P. Lovecraft. He’s reading one of his own books; he’s checking that they did it right.”

To be clear: that is a Madame Tussaud-type wax statue specifically commissioned by Mr. del Toro and he's got it permanently standing there in his library/living room. Also, as you can see in the photo below the fold, he's got another one of Edgar Allan Poe sitting in a chair.

Because H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe are the two guys you want hanging out in your living room.

I had never heard of Forrest J. Ackerman and I thought maybe he was some early horror writer I had never heard of, but I was wrong. Actually, according to his wiki page, he was

...an American magazine editor, science fiction writer and literary agent, a founder of science fiction fandom, a leading expert on science fiction and fantasy films, and acknowledged as the world's most avid collector of genre books and movie memorabilia.

So it looks like Mr. del Toro is doing his best imitate him. Read his wiki page. Ackerman And he wasn't so much of a writer (although he did write some stuff, about 50 stories in all) as he was an editor, compiler, anthologizer, promoter, and sci-fi/horror fanboi. Probably the best way to describe him is that he was a pimp. That is, he made his living by taking what he liked (stories, movies, writers, etc.) and showing/selling to those he thought might like it.

Which is kind of like I do here, only I do it on a much smaller scale.

Here's an example, Ackermanthology: 65 Astonishing, Rediscovered Sci-Fi Shorts:

He's the guy who coined the term "sci-fi" and is recognized the world over as the father of science fiction. Now, Forrest J. Ackerman, "Mr. Sci-Fi, " presents the greatest little-known sci-fi short stories of all time, featuring works by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and many others.

Another one is Gosh! Wow! (Sense of Wonder), a 1982 anthology of nineteen science fiction pieces from the 1920s and 30s that make Ackerman say "Gosh! Wow!"

As a literary agent, he represented over 200 writers, including Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, A.E. Van Vogt, Curt Siodmak and L. Ron Hubbard.

He also did bit parts and cameos in a number of movies.

Ackerman was also one of the creators of the pulchritudinous comic book character, Vampirella

Ackerman died in 2008. I wonder what happened to all of his sci-fi/horror memorabilia?

Del Toro library 1_525.jpg

Guillermo del Toro's Living Room. Seated: Mr. E.A. Poe

A Tale From The Crypt

CRYPT-KEEPER: Welcome to the Halloween edition of the Sunday Morning Book Thread, boils and ghouls! I hope you're in the mood for a little bit of scary fun this morning.

(reaches up into dusty bookshelf, pulls out book. It is Glimpse Vol. 1 by Lisa Mathisen)

Today we have a short story of mind-boggling narcissism and shameful self-indulgence. And no, I'm not talking about this year's Democratic Party Convention. EEEHEEHEHEEHEEEHEEEHEEEHEEE!!! This is something almost as bad, a tale of a clueless young woman who is about to find out the beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone.

(camera zooms in on open book, open to an image of an attractive woman holding out a camera at arm's length, pointing at herself)


Oh yeah. That one is so hot. I can’t believe that new mascara and photo app made me look even better than yesterday. #workit! #onfleek!

MarieKah was pleased yet again with her daily devotion: the selfie. It took two hours every morning to plump and color her entire being for this moment. The one she lived for. When she looked at her phone and loved what she saw. It had become a kind of worship service. Prepping, fluffing, taking and viewing. Ritualistic.

It was not unnoticed by the world, either. She was incredibly popular on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Her blog was nothing but her. I mean, what did she need to write about? The pics got 1000 likes and hundreds of flattering comments. Oh, she did post the occasional inspirational quote about believing in yourself, or fashion tips. Some people really needed help. She was happy not to be one of them.

Scrolling on Facebook one day she saw a post from her annoying cousin back home in Missouri. Something about Jesus, as always. It is better to give than receive...or something. The meek shall inherit the earth...#lame. Her cousin obviously didn’t live out here in L.A., or anywhere in the real world where people were more intelligent and #onpoint. She was happy to have left her hometown for a city more appreciative of her attributes.

Later, driving down to Santa Monica to take a #beachselfie, she was looking in the mirror fixing her lipgloss and didn’t see the traffic had come to a complete stop 100 feet ahead of her. She slammed into a BMW and flew out the windshield. Her gorgeous body came to a skidding stop against a truck tire after scraping across 20 feet of hot asphalt.


As MarieKah came to, she was strapped in a chair in a small room, with candles burning everywhere, hundreds of them. Or maybe the wall was on fire? It was dark and really, really hot. On the wall were glossy photos of every single #selfie she had ever taken. Above that was written in huge black text:


MarieKah choked out a sob. Confused but intrigued, she instinctively grabbed for her phone. It wasn’t there of course.

In her peripheral vision she could see a glowing figure to her left. Ok, now this is creepy. It began to move toward her. It was giving off a ton of heat; and was changing colors like an LED lamp: red, orange, yellow, red again.

It took her by the shoulder, put its face down to hers and stared into her eyes. She would have peed herself had she been alive. Then the figure turned its head to the left and put its gnarly hand in the air...


(camera loses focus, then refocuses as it pans out to CRYPT-KEEPER combing what's left of his hair in front of a cracked mirror)

CRYPT-KEEPER: Well, kiddies, I hope that was a lesson you'll not soon forget. Remember what the good book says: Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. And shed a tear for poor MarieKah, who found out too late that everything she thought important in her life was as fleeting as the wind, and the problem with the religion of self is that in the long run, your church will never have very many worshipers. EEEHEEHEHEEHEEEHEEEHEEEHEEE!!!

(fade out)

Thanks to moronette author Lisa Mathisen for her kind permission to reprint one of her stories. She has published four collections of such stories (Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3, Vol. 4), that all are very short, and many of which have a delightful Twilight Zone-ish twist to them.

Readers Wanted

I received an email this week from a lurking moron who is almost finished with his very first novel and needs some fresh eyes on it. This is how he describes his book:

It's called The Luckiest Man. It's a comic novel with a strong love story and it's fairly short, about 42,000 words. I'd estimate it to be about 90% done. I welcome anyone willing to read, but I would definitely appreciate a few female readers.

If any of you 'rons and (especially) 'ettes are interested in reading this novel and offering opinions and suggestions, you can send an e-mail to the author at wallyinbrooklyn (his AoSHQ nic) 'at' gmail 'dot' com.

The FAB Who Would Be President

My mind is numb. That's how I feel after I hit the three-quarters mark in Dinesh D'Souza's latest, Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party. I don't agree with everything in it, and in many ways he's preaching to the choir, but I just finished his section on Hillary's corrupt financial deals, and I can't believe (again) that she's got a chance of occupying the White House. And that's the trouble you get into when explaining Hillary's financial skullduggery to LIVs. The sheer volume of shady and out-and-out criminal activity she is responsible for is, well, mind-numbing. It is very tempting to think "oh, come on, it is just not possible for one person to do all of that in a single lifetime. She can't *possibly* be this bad." But D'Souza just lays out fact after fact after fact until you're smothered by the sheer weight of the evidence, and it goes back all the way to her days as an Arkansas governor's wife. Hillary! has not changed in 30+ years. Everything she's doing now, she did back then.

A lot of D'Souza's material comes from two books from Barbara Olson. The first one is Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton:

She begins with this intro quote: "Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed; he who fears corruption fears life." - Saul Alinksy, "Rules For Radicals."...I especially enjoyed her analysis of how Hillary, far from being a passive "Tammy Wynette", actually commanded the team of "secret police" (Dick Morris's term) who's job it is to humiliate, intimidate and destroy the countless women who have over the years come in contact with his Crooked Willy.

And I think the title comes from a memo that surfaced during the 1993 "Travelgate" firings:

Written by Clinton aide David Watkins to chief of staff Mack McClarty, the memo noted that five days before the firings, Hillary had told Watkins, “We need those people out—we need our people in—we need the slots.” Watkins wrote that everyone knew “there would be hell to pay” if they failed to take “swift and decisive action in conformity with the First Lady’s wishes.”

And this is apart from the cussing out of the Secret Service detail, or the throwing of weighty objects at Bill's head.

Olson wrote a follow-up book, The Final Days, where she documents all of the outrageous "pay-for-play" style pardons Bill passed out like (expensive) candy and the Clintons' systematic looting of White House artifacts that they were later forced to return when they got caught.

Barbara Olson was one of the murder victims aboard Flight 77 that was flown into the Pentagon on Sept. 11th, 2001.

Here's another, more recent, book that caught my eye: Guilty as Sin: Uncovering New Evidence of Corruption and How Hillary Clinton and the Democrats Derailed the FBI Investigation by Ed Klein:

When FBI Director James Comey announced in July that Hillary Clinton would not be indicted for mishandling classified information, America was stunned...There is far more behind Comey's shocking press conference than meets the eye -- and a minefield of email evidence between Hillary and the White House.

And Klein supposedly has an explanation as to why Comey did what he did. Meh. I don't think I care anymore. Because these "investigations" always turn out to be useless: a bunch of underlings get immunity deals, the investigation goes on for months, and then they recommend against prosecution. So nobody is held accountable, everybody gets to keep their jobs, and the status remains quo.

Moron Recommendations

"To robbe Petyr & geve it Poule, it were non almesse but gret synne."

That is the first recorded use of the phrase "rob[bing] Peter to pay Paul" and it appeared in the 1450 treatise "Jacob's Well: An English Treatise On The Cleansing of Man's Conscience". Which is a perfect description of what we know as the Ponzi scheme, i.e. paying early investors with the money provided by later contributors. Carlo Ponzi wasn't the first to devise such a scheme, but he has become the most famous.

My #2 son recommends You Can't Cheat an Honest Man: How Ponzi Schemes and Pyramid Frauds Work and Why They're More Common Than Ever by James Walsh, which advertises itself as

A keen insider's guide to investment rip-offs, scams and con artists. This book takes an investigative look at the reasons why Ponzi schemes and pyramid frauds are thriving everywhere. It closely examines why over 100,000 Americans are suckered into the schemes every year. Tips are offered to detect schemes and respond when they occur. The purpose of the book is to educate consumers and make them aware of how scams work.

Son says he learned a lot from this book.

I haven't been hit up with an invitation into a pyramid scheme for many years. I was thinking maybe they had fallen out of fashion, but according to this book, not so. I made the mistake years ago, on one of the Christian mailing lists I used to subscribe to, of criticizing multi-level marketing (coughAmwaycough) as a de facto pyramid scheme, and was greatly surprised at the number of MLM supporters who suddenly de-cloaked and roasted my butt. Not that it changed my mind at all, but the sheer volume of the frothing-at-the-mouth vehemence in attacking me was quite a shock.

What I'm Reading

I'm about three quarters through The Lion and the Cross: A Novel of Saint Patrick and Ancient Ireland, by Joan Lesley Hamilton, first published in 1979. It was a Bookbub $1.99 special a few weeks ago. I was debating whether to buy it when I read a 1-star review that claimed it was "too devout", so I immediately snapped it up. The novel is told as a flashback. The narrator is St. Patrick as an old man recounting his life, beginning when Irish raiders first carried him off into slavery at the age of 16. Not much is known for certain about St. Patrick and his life, but the novel does a good job filling in the blanks in a plausible manner.

I agree with the 1-star reviewer that this book is "devout", but it's not devout in the hagiographic sense. In Hamilton's retelling, Padraic is actually quite a d-bag, and often not very pleasant to be around. No, this book is "devout" in the sense that it treats Patrick's spiritual struggles against his own sinful nature and also against the surrounding pagan culture as real.

And by "pagan culture", I mean stuff like this:

"The whole nation of the Gauls is greatly devoted to ritual observances, and for that reason those who are smitten with the more grievous maladies and who are engaged in the perils of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow so to do, employing the druids as ministers for such sacrifices. They believe, in effect, that, unless for a man's life a man's life be paid, the majesty of the immortal gods may not be appeased; and in public, as in private life they observe an ordinance of sacrifices of the same kind. Others use figures of immense size whose limbs, woven out of twigs, they fill with living men and set on fire, and the men perish in a sheet of flame. They believe that the execution of those who have been caught in the act of theft or robbery or some crime is more pleasing to the immortal gods; but when the supply of such fails they resort to the execution even of the innocent."

--Julius Caesar, The Gallic Wars, Ch. 16

I know there are idiots running around these days claiming to be "pagan", but they don't know the half of it. They have no idea what pagan cultures were actually like, i.e. slavery, war, and death. They're like college students from affluent families railing against "capitalism". "Paganism" is the religion of spoiled brats.


Don't forget the AoSHQ reading group on Goodreads. It's meant to support horde writers and to talk about the great books that come up on the book thread. It's called AoSHQ Moron Horde and the link to it is here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/175335-aoshq-moron-horde.


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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