Monday, September 28, 2009

Diversions: Autumn 2009

Of all the seasons, Autumn is my favorite. Some may prefer Summer's heat or the new-sprung freshness of Spring, but to me nothing beats the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness." In my current home (where we divide the year into "hot" and "hotter"), Autumn is but a memory. So if you live in a place where harvest is more than a mark on the calendar, be sure to enjoy it. Pour yourself a pint of cider, savor the chill in the air and enjoy these diversions on me ...
  • We genre aficionados have a great deal of fun mashing together discordant sorts of stories -- Lovecraftian spaghetti western, anyone? -- but I only recently realized one can derive the same sort of joy from combining radically different musical styles. My epiphany came from the now-defunct band 16 Horsepower, which blends old-time and white gospel with art rock and punk. The end result sounds simultaneously incendiary and ancient, with lead singer David Eugene Edwards' voice wavering as eerily as morning mist over an Appalachian hollow while guitarist Pascal Humbert lays down searing riffs. Standout songs include "Brimstone Rock," "For Heaven's Sake," "American Wheeze" and "Black Soul Choir."
  • While speaking at Point Loma Nazarene University in 2001, Ray Bradbury suggested that you need to write a short story every week if you want to become a good writer. Nathaniel Lee of Mirrorshards does the old master one better by penning a 100-word narrative each and every day. These super-short shorts (what he calls "flitterfic") tend towards fantasy, horror and the occasionally pun-centric tale. Interestingly, Lee seems to be proving Bradbury's supposition true, because the consistency with which he writes his stories is almost always matched by their quality.
  • Ah, Prohibition! That time in American history where it took bribery, extortion and blazing hot lead in order to pour you a glass of hooch. Artist Tracy Butler taps the period's spirit of free-wheeling roguery in her Web comic Lackadaisy -- only all her characters are anthropomorphic cats. If that sounds a little too cutesy for the subject matter, well, it almost is. But just when you start thinking the zoot-suit wearing felines are too dewy-eyed for their own good, out come the shotguns and hatchets, and the tone goes from adorable to downright cutthroat. (Hat Tip: Ollwen)
  • Nothing completes a cold evening like listening to well-read story -- particularly one that happens to be scary. Pseudopod: The Sound of Horror runs weekly audio versions of mostly original shorts. Its readers are professional and it pays authors handsomely, so the podcast's quality is generally high. Newcomers to the genre should be warned that Pseudopod publishes "highly literary stories reminiscent of Poe or Lovecraft as well as vulgar shock-value pulp fiction." Which is another way of saying, "Be warned: Some of these stories will curl your toenails." (I prefer the former category over the latter, in case you were wondering.) Check out "Regulars," "The Worm that Gnaws" and "Hometown Horrible."
Go to Diversions: Summer 2009 ...

(Picture: CC 2006 by
Anders B.)


Ana S. said...

I love David Eugene Edwards, particularly his work as Woven Hand!

Loren Eaton said...

I haven't gotten into Woven Hand yet, but 16 Horsepower floors me. You wouldn't think that such diverse kinds of music would work together, yet somehow they do and powerfully.