Entry 0105: Xmas Conan Reviews

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7-inch: Long Distance Lovers by Huggy Bear

1994 Gravity, Gravity 9

Favorite Track: Tuff Lovin

 

Happy holidays and anti-holidays to all of you crazy people out there! I had a wonderful trip to visit family down in the Carolinas. There was plenty of family photos, the traditional watching of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, cookies and other good food, presents, and, of course, time to bond with my nephew, an expert in insects, birds, and Jenga destruction. Also, I picked up this sarcastically wonderful head cold. But that gave me some time to catch up on my Conan the Barbarian stories, so let us see what he was up to this time! Spoilers below, of course.

“The Frost Giant’s Daughter” – 4 out of 5 broken skulls

Robert E. Howard

 

How long I have waited to read this tale? This is the tale that inspired The Sword to write a song about (and probably other bands as well). This is one of Fran Frazetta’s best Conan pieces and is the cover of the book (and an album cover for Dust). When I first started to show interest in Conan the Barbarian, it was the first tale whose name I learned. So how did it stack up? Quite well. Conan has found himself with an AEsir war party who has been slain in a mighty battle that leaves Conan all alone. A semi-nude woman appears and taunts him which drives the battle-weary barbarian into a lusty anger (how rude Conan! What are you a barbarian or a gentleman?) and he pursues her deep into the winterlands. Conan can never quite catch her and she sends two Frost Giants, her brothers, to attack Conan, which leads to an excellent fight. At the last moment, the woman calls upon her godly father’s name and a blindly bolt of lightning causes Conan to pass out (something he does a lot. I should have kept track of that.) When he wakes up, he thinks it was a dream until he sees her veil in his hands.

The tale is based upon Bulfinch’s version of Atalanta mixed with Apollo’s chase after Daphne after having been struck by Cupid’s arrow. This may be the mythological justification for Conan’s pursuit with intent to rape, but that aspect of the story is problematic. Now no one should be reading Conan and thinking he is a good guy and modeling their life after his behavior, but this action is too far wrong even for an “anti-hero”. In fact, Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter added Conan’s code of honor towards women in the very next story, stating specifically that Conan would never rape a woman, which I think was their (perhaps lame) attempt to gloss over this story. The rest of the story, however, is brilliant. It contains some of Howard’s best landscape descriptions and the battle with the Frost Giant’s is vicious. Also, it was a nice break from all the treasure hunting. A man overcoming the powers of nature and some gods before ultimately being humbled by a very powerful god, reminding Conan that even he has limits.

“The Lair of the Ice Worm” – 5 out of 5 broken skulls

L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter

 

This title excited my brain to no end. I wanted to just pull out a piece of paper and draw what I thought the Ice Worm looked like and its lair. The story did not disappoint. Conan is traveling through the mountain ranges at the beginning of spring. A woman’s scream alerts him to some cave people circling a strange woman, so Conan begins to impale them upon his lance until it breaks. But his war axe handles the rest. The woman hardly knows a word Conan can understand, but she follows him into a cave so they can stay warm. Soon, they make love–okay, I did roll my eyes at this. While Conan slumbers, the girl sees two giant eyes. When Conan wakes up, he finds her missing and his honor shamed that he did not protect her. He follows the Ice Worm’s tracks to its lair and uses an ingenious idea (Conan understands science!) to defeat the Worm. I loved this story because the descriptions were just like out of a movie or an excellent D&D campaign. I love stories set in cold mountains during the winter. The Ice Worm was a great villain: a giant mouth with thousands of teeth to eat the flesh off the skeleton, but also a freezing breath to save food for later. Perhaps the plot is a bit too simplistic, but it show cases Conan as a maser fighter against even the most vicious of beasts.

“The Queen of the Black Coast” – 4 out of 5 broken skulls

Robert E. Howard

 

The first epic Conan tale. Some people rank this as the best Conan tale. Although I disagree, it certainly is a strong one. But like “The Frost Giant’s Daughter” even its lush language and large-scope plot cannot hide the sexism and racism in the story. The story starts with Conan fleeing a crowd by leaping on a barge and quickly befriending the captain, Tito. Conan admits he does not understand civilization: he had been called into trial as a witness (this may be the third time Conan has gone to court; is this another thing I should be keeping track of?) and frustrated at not understanding why he was there, Conan broke the skull of the judge and fled. What is interesting about this is you have the typical American “anti-hero” attitude against the Man (court system, police, government, etc.) which is commonly thought of as happening in the ’60’s, being presented in a Conan story written in 1934. Unfortunately for Tito, Conan is a bit of a curse of his companions as they are almost immediately attacked by Belit, the Queen of the Black Coast, which is exactly the groan inducing title you think it is: a white woman considered a goddess by superstitious black natives, who come with tom-toms, spears, and circular shields. By Crom, Robert E. Howard! She is also topless although maybe because she is also sailing around the hot southern oceans that would make a little sense…okay, looking at all the ladies glaring at me, nope, nevermind! Tito and his crew are killed and Conan leaps aboard Belit’s ship expecting to die, but Belit is sexually turned on by his savage nature and she asks him to become her mate. The sex hinted at suggests BDSM. Thus, Conan becomes a pirate and makes raids along the Black Coast until Belit decides to find a fabled lost city full of treasure. Okay, people have to stop doing this around Conan. It is definitely bad luck. As they travel down a lonely river, a giant snake eats one of the crew members. I suspect the Weird Tales editor said to Howard: “It has been five paragraphs since someone has died. Kill someone quick!” Then we get to the real meat of the story where they find the treasure, Belit issues some bad commands maybe under a curse, a winged creature has destroyed their water supply, Conan leads some troops into the jungle only to pass out at the touch of a black lotus. There he hallucinates the eons of history of the forgotten city: where superhumans lived but devolved into winged apes and other humans were turned into hyenas. Then comes a lot of death, including Belit who is hung from the yardarm. Conan’s final showdown expertly combines brutal wartime with the supernatural, which makes these Conan tales so special.

I really appreciated the scope of this story. It takes the normal Conan tale and stretches it into three distinct sections, pushing the limits of what Howard could get away with. A movie could be made out of this tale alone. Belit is a bit hokey as a character, but a better woman character despite her nakedness and immediately sexual attraction to Conan. Had Howard wrote out her background and how she become Queen of the Black Coast, this may have earned another broken skull in my ratings system. The dialogue between her and Conan feels comfortable and sort-of believable despite how fast they seem to pair up. Besides there is a jump-cut of time between sections one and two of the story, where obviously the two love birds would learn about each other. We are treated to Conan’s inner thoughts about gods including Crom. I did not expect this sudden religious contemplation at all! Then you get a Lovecraftian ancient history lesson followed by a bloody fight and a mourning Conan who gives Belit a Vikings funeral. Like I said, the scope of the story is impressive and had Howard only fleshed it out just a little bit more–say another 3,000 words–this would be contending with the best (minus the sexism and racism, of course). That being said, I would recommend this story to people first picking up Conan as an introduction besides “The Tower of the Elephant.”

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Entry 0104: Mix Tape 2016

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7-inch: She is Beyond Good and Evil by the Pop Group

1979 Radar Records ADA 29

Favorite Track: She is Beyond Good and Evil

 

2016 was a terrible year. I shed many tears, clasped many a friend to my shoulder as we tried to hold each other up. However, 2016 was a great year in music for me. I discovered two bands that I binged on, finally got Hex Enducation Hour by the Fall, found some of my favorite punk albums as originals, discovered the groove in Veneuzuela during the 70’s thanks to Soul Jazz Records, and, like every one else, enjoyed the Stranger Things soundtrack. In fact, after making this list, I discovered this year I spent a lot of time listening to early electronic/industrial music–a good bit of it instrumentals. Needless to say because of the size, I am not going to put them in any particular order. You are going to have to be your own DJ (or just use the shuffle button).

2016 Mix

Song ————— Artist

  1. No One Can Find the War – Tim Buckley
  2. Carnival Song – Tim Buckley
  3. Pleasant Street – Tim Buckley
  4. Hallucinations – Tim Buckley
  5. I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain – Tim Buckley
  6. Once I Was – Tim Buckley
  7. Phantasmagoria in Two – Tim Buckley
  8. Get On Top – Tim Buckley
  9. Strange Feelin’ – Tim Buckley
  10. Buzzin’ Fly – Tim Buckley (Now in my top ten favorite songs of all time)
  11. Gypsy Woman – Tim Buckley
  12. Other – S U R V I V E
  13. Dirt – S U R V I V E
  14. Copter – S U R V I V E
  15. Angels and Demons – Echo and the Bunnymen (another favorite!)
  16. Erotic City – Prince (I already loved this song, but I rediscovered it)
  17. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Lee Ving
  18. Another Christmas Beer – Fear (a classic!)
  19. Soldier of Love – Arthur Alexander (also knew about this one but was excited to get it on vinyl)
  20. She is Beyond Good and Evil – the Pop Group
  21. Mind Your Own Business – Delta 5 (also just super excited to get on vinyl)
  22. I Remember – Suicide
  23. Radiation – Suicide
  24. Mr. Ray – Suicide
  25. Touch Me – Suicide
  26. Harlem – Suicide
  27. Breath the Fire – the Soft Moon
  28. Circles – the Soft Moon
  29. Out of Time – the Soft Moon
  30. Parallels – the Soft Moon
  31. Insides – the Soft Moon
  32. Want – the Soft Moon
  33. Black – the Soft Moon
  34. Wrong – the Soft Moon
  35. Deeper – the Soft Moon
  36. Rainbow Demon – Uriah Heep
  37. Sunrise – Uriah Heep
  38. Spider Woman – Uriah Heep
  39. Rain – Uriah Heep
  40. Sweet Lorraine – Uriah Heep
  41. Tales – Uriah Heep
  42. The Magician’s Birthday – Uriah Heep
  43. Green Machine – Kyuss
  44. Le Coeur Au Bout Des Doigts – Jacqueline Taieb
  45. Laisser Tomber Les Filles – France Gall
  46. Roller Girl – Anna Karina
  47. Je Suis Folle De Tant T’amier – Arlette Zola
  48. Black Star – David Bowie
  49. Lazarus – David Bowie
  50. I Can’t Give Everything Away – David Bowie
  51. Nine Plan Failed – Adam and the Ants
  52. Never Trust a Man (With Egg on his Face) – Adam and the Ants
  53. Paralysed – Gang of Four
  54. What We All Want – Gang of Four
  55. In the Ditch – Gang of Four
  56. Song I – Wire
  57. Internal Exile – Wire
  58. Dead Weight – Wire
  59. Still – Wire
  60. I’m on Fire – Chelsea
  61. Decide – Chelsea
  62. Blank Reflection – Nots
  63. Inherently Low – Nots
  64. Entertain Me – Nots
  65. Ha Ha Ha – the Julien Ruin
  66. Just My Kind – the Julien Ruin
  67. Cookie Rd. – the Julien Ruin
  68. Lookout – the Julien Ruin
  69. I Decide – the Julien Ruin
  70. Mr. So and So – the Julien Ruin
  71. Time is Up – the Julien Ruin
  72. Calverton – the Julien Ruin
  73. Araguaney – Vytas Brenner
  74. Amor en Llames – Pablo Schneider
  75. Machu Picchu – Un Dos Tres y Fuera
  76. Polvo Lunar – Miguel Angel Fuster
  77. Basheeba – Angel Rada
  78. Son De Tambor y San Juan – Un Dos Tres y Fuera
  79. Dame de Comer – Miguel Angel Fuster
  80. Caracas Para Locos – Ofrenda Vytas Brenner
  81. Panico a las 5 a.m. – Angel Rada
  82. Deny Everything – the Circle Jerks
  83. Back Against the Wall – the Circle Jerks
  84. What’s Your Problem? – the Circle Jerks
  85. Nine Million Rainy Days – Jesus and the Mary Chain
  86. April Skies – Jesus and the Mary Chain
  87. Stranger Things theme – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  88. Kids – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  89. This Isn’t You – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  90. The Upside Down – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  91. Hanging Lights – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  92. Over – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  93. Danger Danger – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  94. Making Contact – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  95. Breaking and Entering – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
  96. Baby Please Don’t Go – Budgie
  97. In the Grip of a Tyre Fitter’s Hand – Budgie
  98. Jumping Someone Else’s Train – the Cure
  99. Plastic Passion – the Cure
  100. Fire in Cairo – the Cure
  101. Dusseldorf – La Dusseldorf
  102. Time – La Dusseldorf
  103. Rheinita – La Dusseldorf
  104. Geld – La Dusseldorf
  105. Miss Fortune – Faust
  106. Der Garten Sandosa – Amon Duul
  107. Ein Wunderhubsches Madchen Traunt von Sandosa – Amon Duul

 

Whew, enjoy. It could have been longer.

Entry 0103: The 27 Active Cults and Conspiracy Theorist Groups

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7-inch: Ca Plane Pour Moi by Thee Headcoatees

1997 Sympathy for the Record Industry, SFTRI 485

Favorite Track: Ca Plane Pour Moi

 

I made a discovery last night that had me rolling on the floor. It was an unfinished book, a sequel actually, titled the Turdian Shithouse Revelations. It proposed to be a book about the truth, the Turd, and how life is harder to pin down than by simply being alive and observing it. It also has a fourth grader’s sense of humor, but one that is surprisingly refreshing. I won’t tell you how I got in contact with the authors on the spiritual plane (but it did involve a chicken egg, three stalks of celery, and short hairs of a well-known movie star) and was granted permission to copy my favorite section! Enjoy!

There are 27 current conspiracy groups and cult memberships that tell the truth in today’s universe. If you join any of these, your life will be short and abnormal. You will regret learning the horrible truth, however, your mind will be unlocked from the state-wide conditioning it has been put through. Good luck finding them. I told them never to call you back.

  1. The Turds – Assholes and philosophers. Status: Easily avoided. Membership: 7 billion.
  2. The Tubians – Fanatic, lustful. Status: Lightning strikes twice. Membership: Probably 4.
  3. Moon Nazis – Fascist, mooney. Status: Can be seen on a clear night. Membership: 144.
  4. Space Whalers Association – Slick, spermy. Status: There she blows! Membership: 36.
  5. Teenagers – Moody, anti-social. Status: Always hungry. Membership: 2 1/2 billion.
  6. Controlled Bigots – Silent, hateful. Status: Medium rare. Membership: 77 million.
  7. Faggy Poets – Desperate, needy. Status: You never who is and who isn’t? Membership: ?
  8. Psychotic Mind-Readers – Irate, ornery. Status: More than you think. Membership: x>?
  9. Porno Jihadists – Duty-bound, well-hung. Status: Making more everyday. Membership: x>? + x>? squared + x>? cubed + etc.
  10. Carpetbaggers – Folksy, traditional. Status: Extinct. Membership: 0.
  11. Joggers – Athletic, paranoid. Status: Sun risers. Membership: 200 million.
  12. Hallucinating Baptists – Holy, high. Status: Coming down. Membership: <
  13. Apocalyptic Astronauts – Weird, thin. Status: Mostly Russian and American. Membership: 27.
  14. Diabolical Grabbag of Fetishes – Inquisitive, gay. Status: Neon lights. Membership: Debatable.
  15. Unbalanced Librarians – Nerdy, Eccentric. Status: Overdue. Membership: 501.
  16. Magnetic Sterilizers – Loose, edgy. Status: Hospital parking lots. Membership: 100,000 thousand.
  17. Spirited Atheists – Contrary, nocturnal. Status: Potential. Membership: x=x.
  18. Careful Readers – Bookish, blind. Status: Page-turning. Membership: 6 billion and two.
  19. Degrading Street Performers – Untalented, broke. Status: Avoid subways. Membership: 1 million.
  20. Corporate Tax Lawyers – Evil, type A. Status: Submitted to IRS. Membership: Being recounted.
  21. Virginal Venusians – Hot, bothered. Status: Dying out. Membership: > or equal to 100.
  22. Jurassic Mathematicians – Scaly or feathery. Status: Ancient. Membership: Riding a comet somewhere.
  23. Assailing Asseyes – Anarchic, valuable. Status: Unlimited. Membership: Infinity.
  24. Full-Moon Psychologists– Thoughtful, temperamental. Status: Once a month. Membership: 28-31.
  25. The Twenty-Five Masked Fat People – Fat, masked. Status: Dwindling. Membership: 19.
  26. New Age Illuminati – New, aged. Status: Bavarian, like a pretzel. Membership: Fortune 500.
  27. The Truth – Liar, pants on fire. Status: Determined. Membership: 0.

Entry 0102: The Mythic Thief

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LP: Chelsea by Chelsea

2015 Daily Records, DAY.07VS, reissue

Favorite Track: Decide

 

Last night, after a boisterous concert, I crashed on the couch of my friend’s cold living room. The cool air must have acted upon my imagination because I had one of the most vivid dreams in my lifetime. Plus, the dream was a completely thought out and intricate plot unlike the typical dream logic where walking through walls is normal. It also involved a ridiculous romantic subplot, but I will get to that later.

The dream had a title: The Mystic Thief. It has a title because it is a novel I wrote. It begins during the end of the Regency era of British history, but the Victorian era that is emerging is much more advanced in technology and cruelty. From the common people to certain royals, people have fallen in love secretly with a censored book called The Mystic Thief. When people read the book, they are sent to a sensual fantasy game world where everyone lives out their wildish inner desires: heroes rescuing damsels in distress; damsels saving heroes in distress; sexual freedom; murderous revenge; etc. But the main goal of the game is to learn who the Mystic Thief is. The Mystic Thief is treated as if a god.

The problem is if you are caught playing/reading The Mystic Thief, you are horribly punished. Men and women are locked into high-tech iron maidens that cut off and grind up genitals that are sucked out of a clear tube protruding from the front of the maiden, so every one watching knows what is it store for them if they think about playing. Then there is the Emerald Maiden: saved for the most dangerous of thought criminals that has rumored to have never been used or used once on King George the III.

The protagonist of the dream successfully learns who the Mystic Thief is. The Mystic Thief is a god who steals time, controls fate, is both the cause and effect. It is herself, the reader of the book. She is caught and put in the Emerald Maiden where she hallucinates. It is there that the readers of my book are confronted with a mirror. They are Mystic Thieves too.

This book becomes so popular, it is turned into a movie. I am invited to the movie premiere and take my nephew Miles along. It is in the lobby of a grand movie theatre that I run into the star of the film, Emma Watson. She is beautifully dressed and I compliment her on it all the while wanting to flee to some cave when Miles asked me who I am talking to. I answer “Hermione” and he goes all-kid mode and demonstrates her casting spells, making her laugh and causing me to blush. Then she shakes hands and when I reach out with my right hand, I spot her checking my left hand for a ring. This little action gives me the confidence to smoothly ask her on a date and she agrees.

Then I woke up.

And there is no movie coming out about a book I have never wrote and Emma Watson is certainly not waiting for me somewhere. Also note that I find it weird that my brain picked Emma Watson as I normally are not drawn to actors and I’ve seen her in movies since she was 11. Then again, nothing was really normal about that dream anyways.

Now will I actually write this novel? I find the reveal to be a little gimmicky, but maybe when I start writing it, I will change what happens instead of following the plot of my dream. But as Shakespeare said, “A dream itself is but a shadow.”