Of the wide variety of articles in this week’s Common Room, one of the most fascinating is Laura Miller’s “Desecrating Poe,” posted over at Salon. Her scathing review of the new Fox TV show “The Following” includes commentary on art, beauty, and the artistic portrayal of violence. Sample quote:
Violence in popular entertainment is usually discussed in absolute terms: Either you think it should be reined in quantitatively or you defend it in blanket terms, as a matter of free speech. This bogus polarity obscures an important question: How is it used? Eyes are gouged out in “The Following” because the mutilated female corpses (all young and pretty in life) make a ghastly spectacle and enable Carroll to torment Hardy with talk of severing the victims’ ocular muscles one by one. Eyes are gouged out in “King Lear” to indicate that the play’s social order has descended to sub-human brutality as a result of the main character’s refusal to see the truth. It’s the same violent act, but in the latter case it is replete with meaning and induces an elemental despair, while in the case of “The Following” it’s just gleefully lurid.
Follow the link for the rest of the story, including many discussable points.
In other news and commentary:
Bloggers and C.S. Lewis fans: Review blog Pages Unbound is hosting a C.S. Lewis read-along throughout the month of February. Ways to participate include reviewing Lewis books or hosting discussions on your own blog, sending in guest posts to the Pages Unbound proprietors, and simply following along to read and/or comment on Lewis’ oeuvre.
We’re just days away from Halloween, and have a few good links well suited to the holiday. First, Fantasy Faction has quite the aggregation of SFF links and v
ideos, including information on how to zombie-proof your house and dress as a famous work of art for your Halloween party. Kirkus Reviews has a piece up on H.P. Lovecraft, Off the Mark imagines out a soft drink for werewolves, and all the Top [n.] lists of the week seem to be horror-related: 10 massively awesome giant movie monsters, 10 stereotypical horror movie victims, 8 things Hollywood can no longer make creepy, the 15 greatest mad doctors of nerddom, and–in a nicely meta twist–the top 10 lists about horror movies.
Excellent non-Halloween news for Tolkien fans: Mythgard Institute has announced Mythmoot, a Tolkien/The Hobbit conference in Maryland, running December 15 and 16 with a private screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. From the site:
Today being the 75th anniversary of the release of The Hobbit, and tomorrow being Hobbit Day, you’ll want to have Second Breakfast–and there’s a site dedicated to helping you do just that at 11 AM today. (Reading this a few hours late? It’s eleven o’clock somewhere. Go for it!)
If you’re hosting, you might want to check out Jana Riess’ delightful piece titled “Everything I Needed to Know about Hospitality, I Learned from Molly Weasley.” The rest of us will want to check it out just because it’s about Molly Weasley; who could stand to miss an article on every wizard and witch’s favorite mum?
Once you’ve read about Mrs. Weasley, if you’re hungry for more posts on Potter, you might try yours truly’s little “Harry Potter and the Writer of Fairy Tales,” guest posted over at the lovely fairy tale blog Spinning Straw into Gold.
And one more for the Harry Potter department: a little Voldy humor.
In other news:
It’s that time again–not just for a Common Room linkfest, but for the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Results, where, in honor of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton’s “It was a dark and stormy ni
ght”, judges have chosen and proclaimed this year’s winning attempts to write the worst possible opening line for a novel.
Much imagination goes into this contest every year. As a big fan of really bad puns, I probably laughed hardest over this one:
Professor Lemieux had anticipated that his latest paper would be received with skepticism within the small, fractious circle of professional cosmologists, few of whom were prepared to accept his hypothesis that our universe had been created in a marijuana-induced industrial accident by insectoid aliens; nevertheless, he was stung when Hawking airily dismissed it as the Bug Bong Theory. — Alan Follett, Hercules, CA
But there are many more to enjoy, all of them works of positively awful brilliance. Have fun.
In other news of literature and imagination:
From SmartPopBooks.com, How Star Trek Liberated Television. This piece contains some interesting thought that may appeal in particular to pub readers used to the marginalization of fantasy and speculative fiction in general:
It’s a lazy, overcast, rainy day where I’m at so I thought I’d post some random news stories for your perusal. Also, just a reminder about The Hogshead Forum. We’ve currently got around 133 members. Lots of interesting topics and threads are available, and you are free to start your own if you register. The forum was created to allow the patrons of the pub to expand on the discussion, so feel free to check it out and join here.
On to various news and articles. This one’s a bit old but if you haven’t heard by now, George Lucas is planning to re-release all of the Star Wars movies in 3-D starting in 2012 with The Phantom Menace. Despite the fact that every movie that was not originally made in 3-D & was then converted to 3-D has turned out bad, Lucasfilm assures us that won’t happen with their conversions. My question is, when will the peoples of the world rise up and say, “STOP IT, George Lucas!!! Leave the Star Wars franchise alone!!”
What do you get when you combine Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos with Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts? A twisted tale of hilarious horror, that’s what!
The Great Old Pumpkin, written by John Aegard, is such a tale. It takes the mind bending terror of H.P. Lovecraft and blends it into the beloved children’s classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
During this humor week, I invite you to either read the story or listen to it here. I prefer the audio version, performed by Steve Eley, the founder of the Escape Pod podcast. So read or listen at your leisure and comment about it here. But beware, your sanity may become a casuality. (Insert sinister laughter here.)
Tomorrow, August 20th, is the 120th anniversary of H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday. Lovecraft, of course, is well known for his writings in horror, science fiction, and fantasy, genres which I think most of us here at The Hogshead appreciate.
So, to toast the birthday of this noted author, let’s make tomorrow a “Read a Lovecraft Story” Day! Feel free to post what you’ve read here or make any other comments on Lovecraft that you like. Many of Lovecraft’s writings can be found on the Net. Here’s a place to start. If audio books are more your style, then try out LibriVox. Enjoy!
For our final week of A Hog’s Head Halloween 2009, we return to the godfather of modern horror, H.P. Lovecraft. If you’re not yet familiar with the master of fear, read Amy H. Sturgis‘s helpful post from last year, “Getting into the Lovecraft Zone.”
Since we haven’t talked about zombies yet this month, we’ll make the featured story for this week Lovecraft’s very short “In the Vault.” (HT to Amy, once again, for reminding me of zombies and this story at her blog today).
There’s lots of Lovecraft material already here at The Hog’s Head, since we’ve read 10 of his stories together over the past 2 years. We were smart enough to tag some of it, so you can find a lot of material here. For more, use the search bar on the right!