Thursday, 26 May 2022

Take on The Role of The Encourager.

Wong :
She's breaking free! Hold her! 
Strange! Take America's power. There's no other way. 

Strange :
Yeah. This is the only way. 
It's me, in other me's body. 

America :
You're gonna take my power, aren't you? Before Wanda can. 
It's okay. I understand now. 

Strange :
No, America. 
I've come here to tell you to Trust Yourself, Trust Your Power. 
That's how we stop her.

America :
I can't control it... 

Strange :
Yes, you can
You have been all along. 
Every time you opened a portal, 
you sent us exactly 
where we needed to go. 

America :
What about the first time? 

Strange :
Even that led you to this moment —
You are gonna kick that witch's ass. 
I've got you!

Take on the role of The Encourager.

If you are The Worrier or The Skeptic, 
who warns yourself and others 
against going through with things 
(who warns against forward movement) 
you are suppressing 
The Divine Masculine. 

Don’t warn people around you off the path they are headed towards. 

Instead, encourage them 
towards their fears; 
encourage them to 
make the attempt. 

Honor their process. 

Allow them to make mistakes 
without rescuing them. 

The Rescuer is not a function of Manhood; 
it is a function of Boyhood. 

The Rescuer is a boy 
trying to prove himself. 

A Man does not need 
to prove himself. 

Divine Masculine is all about growth and encouraging others towards growth. 

Encouragement is the most divine manifestation of the masculine expression of love.

Monday, 23 May 2022

Cosmos - Carl Sagan - 4th Dimension

Strange, Dead and Evil

The Princess :
Did that Kill it? 

Evil, Dead Strange :
No. That, THAT will Kill it :
The Book of Vishanti! 

We can't let it Take Your Power. 
Get to The Book!

The Princess :
How do we get across? 

Evil, Dead Strange :

Evil, Dead Strange :
It's Too Strong! 
I can't hold it...!! 
....I'm So Sorry. 
This is The Only Way. 

The Princess :
What are you doing?! 

Evil, Dead Strange :
We can't let that thing 
TAKE Your Power. 
You can't Control it. 

The Princess :
But We're Friends
You'll Kill Me! 

Evil, Dead Strange :
I Know.... 
But in The Grand Calculus of The Multiverse, 
Your Sacrifice is worth MORE 
than Your Life.

Doctor Strange and The MoM


Dr. Christine Palmer :
Glass of red, please? 

Strange :
Allow Me, Miss. 
(with a wave of His Hand, Stephen 
transforms Her Water into Wine)
A little too on the nose? 

What, for You, at My Wedding? 
Nah. It was Perfect.

Strange : 

Dr. Christine Palmer :
Thank You. There's Charlie. 
I have to introduce you 
because he's kind of... 
It's embarassing, but he's 
a BIG fan. So... 

Strange :
Hey, uh, Christine... umm... 
I should have... 
I wish it had been different. 

I never stopped caring about Us, but 
I Had to Make Sacrifices
To Protect You. I'm Sorry. 

Dr. Christine Palmer :
....It was never gonna work out between Us. 

Strange :
Why Not? 

Dr. Christine Palmer :
Because, Stephen... 
You have to be The One 
Holding The Knife

And I always respected you for it, 
but I couldn't Love You for it. 

How long have you had 
that one in The Barrel...? 

Strange :
Long time.

 Dr. Christine Palmer :
Yeah. I bet.
Strange :
Truly, I'm just Glad 
that You're Happy. 
I am. I really, really am. 

Dr. Christine Palmer :
Good.  Are You? 

Strange :
I'm Happy. 

Dr. Christine Palmer :
Good. You Deserve it. 

Strange :
Thank You. 

Look out! 

Sunday, 22 May 2022

American Dreams

Do You Talk? 
You know, Talk? Me human. Boy. Elliott. Ell-i-ott. Elliott. Coke. See, we drink it. It's, uh... It's a drink. You know, food? These are toys. Little men. This is Greedo. And then this is Hammerhead. You see, this is Walrus Man. And then this is Snaggletooth. And this is Lando Calrissian. See? And this is Boba Fett. Look. They can even have wars. Pffz! Plzzaz! Plzzaz! Aah. And look. Fish. The fish eat the fish food, and the shark eats the fish, but nobody eats a shark. See, this is Pez. Candy. 
You see, you eat it. 
You put the candy in here, and when you lift the head, the candy comes out. 
You want some? 

This is a Peanut
You eat it. 

But you can't eat this one 
'cause this is Fake

This is Money. You see? 
We put The Money 
in The Peanut. 
You see? Bank

And then... 
This is a car
This is what we 
get around in. 
See? A car

Hey! Hey, wait a second. 
No. You don't eat them. 

Are you hungry? 
I'm hungry. 

Stay. Stay
I'll be right here
OK? I'll be right here.

She's under restraint.

What? Who's restraining her?

There are many arms about her.
She thinks it's Safe

Quickly! Who is she more threatened by,
You or Your Husband?


Steve decides The Punishment.
The Children know that.

That's not fair. I've never hit her.

Fight later!

Steven, make Carol Anne answer you!

Carol Anne? 
It's Daddy.

Be cross with her —
Be angry with her,
You'll never see her again.

Carol Anne, I Want You to Answer Me!

Tell her if she doesn't answer you, 
she'll get a spanking.
Come on, I've never 
spanked The Children.

Honey, please, just tell her.

Carol Anne?
Answer Your Parents 
or You'll get
a real spanking 
from both of us!

Help Me!

She's away from Him.

America’s Nightmares

“The inspiration for the story of the movie written by Steven Spielberg 
(the part concerning to a suburb built over a cemetery) 
comes from an actual occurrence 
in Denver, Colorado. 

In the late 1800s, when Denver was expanding, there was a graveyard where The City Government wanted to put in a grand City Park like the one that New York City built and that cities across the country sought to emulate; Central Park. 

The City put out notices for bids to relocate the cemetery and decided to go with the lowest bidder. 

About a third of the way into the project the contractor realized that he had seriously underbid The Job and, long story short, started moving just the headstones. 

He completed The Job and The City started building the slated structure, 
and was actually getting close to finishing, 
when one of the contractor's employees spilled the beans. 

The Contractor was arrested but the damage was done. 

The City, not being able to afford to tear down The Building and dig up The Cemetery again, 
left it as it was and just 
finished the project, 
leaving the unmarked graves as they were

The Park is named Cheesman Park
and the graves sit under The Greek Pavilion on The East End of The Park 
and extend South 
to 8th Avenue.

This House, has many Hearts.

The Star-Spangled Avenger is sent to go find 
the son of Ray Coulson, who has recently 
joined a biker gang. 
It is here that Captain America learns that 
Doc Ock has been following him. 

Can Cap defeat the Doc Ock and the gang 
without his shield?

“Parapsychology isn't something
you Master in.

There are no certificates of graduation, no licenses to practice.

I am a professional Psychologist, who spent most of my time engaged in this ghostly hobby...

Which makes me, I suppose, the most irresponsible woman of my age that I know.”

“ I thought, 
"Where is The Mythic Heroine’s Story?" 

In Ishtar Rising, Wilson talks about the myth of Inanna, and how she goes down into Hell and has to give up •everything• of •herself• to gain the Wisdom and Experience she can 
Bring Back to Her Tribe. 

Which is The Story of Alice in Wonderland, actually. And, of  Star Trek : Discovery 

Privileging The Network 
rather than 
The Sovereign Individual.

And so, as I thought about the differences between The Hero’s and The Heroine’s Journey, it gave me a bunch of different modes to work in. 

Finding ways to avoid telling The Boy Hero story again was quite liberating. 

It just gave me a bunch of new ideas, an interesting new way of telling stories that didn’t rely on the framework of The Hero’s Journey that Campbell talks about.”

There is no Death. 

There is only a transition to a different 
Sphere of Consciousness. 

Carol Anne is not like those she's with. 
She is a Living Presence in their Spiritual Earthbound plane. 

They are attracted to the one thing about her that is different from themselves - 
Her Life Force

It is very strong. 
It gives off its own illumination. 

It is A Light that implies 
Life and Memory of Love and Home 
and Earthly Pleasures,
 something they desperately desire 
but can't have anymore. 

Right now, she's the closest thing to that, and that is a terrible distraction from the real light that has finally come for them. 

You understand me?

[Diane shakes her head] 

These souls, who for whatever reason are not at rest, are also not aware that they have passed on. 

They're not part of Consciousness as we know it. 

They linger in a perpetual dream state, a nightmare from which they cannot awake. 

Inside The Spectral Light is Salvation, a window to The Next Plane. 

They must pass through this membrane where friends are waiting to guide them to new destinies. 

Carol Anne must help them cross over, and she will only hear her mother's voice. 

Now... hold on to yourselves.

[brief pause] 

There's one more thing. 

terrible presence is in there with her. 
So much rage, so much betrayal
I've never sensed anything like it. 

I don't know what hovers over This House, but it was strong enough to punch a hole into This World and take Your Daughter away from you. 

It keeps Carol Anne very close to it and away from The Spectral Light. 

It lies to her, it tells her things only a child could understand. 
It has been using her to restrain the others. 

To her, it simply 
is another child. 
To Us
it is The Beast.

[long pause] 

Now — Let's go get Your Daughter.

Saturday, 21 May 2022


"The project that I've been working on, which really began with my term paper in the fall of 1960, and has gradually become something far larger, is now intended as that Unifying World -- so it would be a storage mechanism and indexing structure by which anyone can add documents to the ever-growing pool, IN their OWN style of indexing....

This depository needs to be a place that we can all reach electronically through telephone, perhaps through laser-beam and satellite, but through various electronic means, so that through our computer screens, we can bring the material that we want, as fast as we need it.

And this has to be available to everyone, everywhere --

And of course, because it's literary tradition, and because it's the magic place of literary memory, it HAS to be called XANADU."

— Ted Nelson.


(There's some very passionate kissing going on.

I must say, Apollo, the way you ape human behaviour is remarkable, but there are some other things I must know. 
Your evolutionary patterns and your social development. 

My what? 

I'm sure they're unique. 
I've never encountered a specimen like you before. 

I am Apollo. 
I've chosen you. 

I'm sure that's very flattering, but I must get on with my work now. 

Your work? 

I'm a Scientist. 
My particular specialty 
is ancient civilisations, 
relics, and myths. 
Surely you know I've only 
been studying you. 

I don't believe it. 
You Love Me. 

Love You? Be logical. 
I'm not some simple shepherdess you can awe. 
Why, I could no more love you 
than I could love a new species of bacteria. 

Carolyn! I forbid you to go. 
I order you to stay. 

Is that the secret of your power over women, the thunderbolts you throw? 

(She walks away, and a strong wind begins to blow. Thunder rumbles.)

Friday, 20 May 2022


Stephen King's Keynote Address 
Vermont Library Conference
VEMA Annual Meeting
May 26, 1999

The Bogeyboys by Stephen King

When I speak in public, a thing I do as rarely as possible, I usually don't speak from a prepared text and I hardly ever try to say anything serious; to misquote Mark Twain, I feel that anyone looking for a moral should be hung and anyone looking for a plot should be shot. Today, though, I want to talk about something very serious indeed: adolescent violence in American schools. This outbreak has become so serious that a bus driver from Conyers, Georgia, interviewed last week on the CBS Evening News, suggested that the slang term “going postal” may soon be changed to “going pupil.” I suggest that a great many parts of American society have contributed to creating this problem, and that we must all work together to alleviate it...and I use the word “alleviate” rather than “cure” because I don't think any cure, at least in the sense of a quick fix--that is what Americans usually mean by cure; fast-fast-fast relief, as the aspirin commercials used to say-I don't think that sort of cure is possible. This is a violent society. Law enforcement statistics suggest it may not be as violent now as it was fifteen years ago, but it's really too early to tell; we may only be witnessing a blip on the graph.
America was born in the violence of the Boston Massacre, indemnified in the violence of Bull Run, Gettysburg, and Shiloh Church, shamed by the violence of the Indian Wars, reaffirmed by the violence of two world wars, a police action in Korea, and the conflict in Vietnam. Most of the guns carried in those armed actions were carried by boys about the age of the Littleton killers and not much older than Thomas Solomon, the Conyers, Georgia, shooter. These wars-as well as the Star Wars of the future-can be fought at the local mall's video arcade for fifty cents a pop.
History aside, we suffer from road rage, fear home invasion, and enjoy watching Jerry Springer's guests mix it up on afternoon TV. Once the burglar alarm is set, that is. We like guns, and too many unstable folks have access to them. Some, we are learning, aren't even old enough to shave yet. It is these young killers-- these young guns, to use the title of a popular movie of about twelve years ago--who trouble us. And they trouble us a lot. Hundreds of kids kill themselves on America's highways each month, but even when a large number of them die together, it rarely makes national news. We understand the underlying causes, you see--usually these boil down to the same lethal mix: inexperience, alcohol, and that adolescent belief, both endearing and terrifying, that God put them on earth to live forever. When the deaths come as a result of gunfire and explosions, we either don't understand or tell ourselves we don't. Our fear spawns a creature with no face, one I know very well: it's the bogeyman. When kids die on the highway, it's sad but not nationwide news. When the bogeyman strikes, however...that's different. Then everyone, even the politicians, take notice.
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were eighteen and seventeen respectively when they blew their dangerous, unhappy brains out, neither one old enough to buy a legal sixpack, or rent a car, or get more than simple liability coverage on an automobile of his own. Not old enough to be bogeymen, in other words, but they are genuine frighteners, all the same. They have closed schools in many states and caused massive absenteeism in others, where not even an outright threat of violence is now needed to unsettle children, teachers, and parents; vague rumors (“a guy I know heard about a guy who's got a gun...”) or an anonymous e- mail is enough.
As the most recent incident in Georgia so clearly illustrates, Harris and Klebold will continue to participate in the American educational process between now and the end of the school year. Harris and Klebold, too young to be bogeymen; call them bogeyboys, if you like. I think that fits them very well.
That I feel pity for these bogeyboys should surprise no one; I have been drawn again and again to stories of the powerless and disenfranchised young, and have written three novels about teenagers driven to murder: Carrie (1974), Rage (published in 1977 under the pseudonym Richard Bachman), and Apt Pupil (1982). In Carrie, a girl who is ceaselessly tormented by her classmates murders most of them at the senior prom after one final, gruesome trick pushes her over the edge. In a sense she was the original riot girl. In Rage, a boy named Charlie Decker brings a gun to school, kills a teacher with it, then holds his algebra class hostage until the police end the siege by shooting him.
In Apt Pupil, a boy named Todd Bowden discovers a Nazi war criminal living on his block and brings the old man back to a dangerous vitality. On the surface, Todd is the perfect California high school kid. Beneath, he's fascinated by the Holocaust and the power wielded by the Nazis; a member of the Trenchcoat Mafia, in fact, without the trenchcoat. After a long (and increasingly psychotic) dance with his pet Nazi, Todd is found out. His response, not shown in the movie which played theaters briefly last year, is to take a high-powered rifle to a nearby freeway, where he shoots at anyone who moves until he is killed. His death is, in fact, what police now sometimes call “blue suicide.”
I sympathize with the losers of the world and to some degree understand the blind hormonal rage and ratlike panic which sets in as one senses the corridor of choice growing ever narrower, until violence seems like the only possible response to the pain. And although I pity the Columbine shooters, had I been in a position to do so, I like to think I would have killed them myself, if that had been the only choice, put them down the way one puts down any savage animal that cannot stop biting. There comes a point at which the Harrises and the Klebolds become unsalvageable, when they pass through some phantom tollbooth and into a land where every violent impulse is let free. At this point, the societal issues cease to matter and there is only the job of saving as many people as possible from what seems to me to be actual evil, in the Old Testament sense of that word. Although the pundits, politicians, and psychologists hesitate at the word- -I hesitate at it myself--nothing else seems to fit the sweep of these acts and the wreckage left behind. And in the presence of evil, any pity or sympathy we feel must be put aside and saved for the victims.
This point of no return can almost always be avoided before the shooting and killing begins, and it usually is. Violence on the level of that committed at Columbine High School is still rare in American society, although it may well now become more common; there is a powerful reverb unit hooked up to the already- amplified teenage culture-politic. In that amp-cult, things like huffing, tattooing, and body-piercing spread almost at the speed of e-mail; the lure of the gun may spread in much the same way. And the guns are out there. As I said in The Stand, at some tiresome length, all that stuff is out there, just lying around and waiting for the wrong person to pick it up.
To some degree, what happened at Columbine happened because of what happened in Jonesboro, Arkansas (five murdered), Paducah, Kentucky (three murdered), and Springfield, Oregon (four murdered, two parents and two kids at a school dance). Similarly, the shootings and rumors of shootings in the weeks and months ahead will happen because of Harris and Klebold and Columbine High; because of T.J. Solomon and Heritage High. It's an amp-cult thing. Harris & Klebold may be dead, but they're going to be mighty lively for awhile. Believe me on this. I know a good deal about spooks, and more than I want to about boys who play with guns.
In the wake of the shootings, film and TV and book people have pointed the finger at the gun industry and at that ever-popular bogeyman, the NRA. The gun people point right back, saying that America's entertainment industry has created a culture of violence. And, behind it all, we are bombing the living hell out of Yugoslavia, because that's the way we traditionally solve our problems when those pesky foreign leaders won't do what we think is right. So who is really to blame? My answer is all of the above. And I speak from some personal experience and a lot of soul-searching.
I can't say for sure that Michael Carneal, the boy from Kentucky who shot three of his classmates dead as they prayed before school, had read my novel, Rage, but news stories following the incident reported that a copy of it had been found in his locker. It seems likely to me that he did. Rage had been mentioned in at least one other school shooting, and in the wake of that one an FBI agent asked if he could interview me on the subject, with an eye to setting up a computer profile that would help identify potentially dangerous adolescents. The Carneal incident was enough for me. I asked my publisher to take the damned thing out of print. They concurred. Are there still copies of Rage available? Yes, of course, some in libraries where you ladies and gentlemen ply your trade. Because, like the guns and the explosives and the Ninja throwing-stars you can buy over the Internet, all that stuff is just lying around and waiting for someone to pick it up.
Do I think that Rage may have provoked Carneal, or any other badly adjusted young person, to resort to the gun? It's an important question, because it goes to the very heart of the wrangle over who's to blame. You might as well ask if I believe that the mere presence of a gun makes some people want to use that gun. The answer is troubling, but it needs to be faced: in some cases, yes. Probably it does. Often? No, I don't believe so. How often is too often? That's not for me or any other single person to say. It's a question each part of our society must answer for itself, as each state, for instance, must answer the question of when a kid is old enough to have a driver's license or buy a drink.
There are factors in the Carneal case which make it doubtful that Rage was the defining factor, but I fully recognize that it is in my own self-interest to feel just that way; that I am prejudiced in my own behalf. I also recognize the fact that a novel such as Rage may act as an accelerant on a troubled mind; one cannot divorce the presence of my book in that kid's locker from what he did any more than one can divorce the gruesome sex-murders committed by Ted Bundy from his extensive collection of bondage-oriented porno magazines. To argue free speech in the face of such an obvious linkage (or to suggest that others may obtain a catharsis from such material which allows them to be atrocious only in their fantasies) seems to me immoral. That such stories, video games (Harris was fond of a violent computer-shootout game called Doom), or photographic scenarios will exist no matter what--that they will be obtainable under the counter if not over it--begs the question. The point is that I don't want to be a part of it. Once I knew what had happened, I pulled the ejection-seat lever on that particular piece of work. I withdrew Rage, and I did it with relief rather than regret.
If, on the other hand, you were to ask me if the presence of potentially unstable or homicidal persons makes it immoral to write a novel or make a movie in which violence plays a part, I would say absolutely not. In most cases, I have no patience with such reasoning. I reject it as both bad thinking and bad morals. Like it or not, violence is a part of life and a unique part of American life. If accused of being part of the problem, my response is the time-honored reporter's answer: “Hey, many, I don't make the news, I just report it.”
I write fantasies, but draw from the world I see. If that sometimes hurts, it's because the truth usually does. John Steinbeck was accused of gratuitous ugliness when he wrote about the migration of the Okies to California in The Grapes of Wrath, even of trying to foment a domestic revolution, but most of his accusers--like those who made similar accusations against Upton Sinclair when he wrote about the corrupt putrescence of the meat-packing industry in The Jungle--were people who preferred fairy-tales and happily-ever-afters. Sometimes the truth of how we live is just ugly, that's all. But to turn aside from these truths out of some perceived delicacy, or to give in to the idea that writing about violence causes violence, is to embrace hypocrisy. In Washington, hypocrisy breeds politicians. In the arts, it breeds pornography.
My stories of adolescent violence were all drawn, in some degree, from my own memories of high school. That particular truth, as I recalled it when writing as an adult, was unpleasant enough. I remember high school as a time of misery and resentment. In Iroquois trials of manhood, naked warriors were sent running down a gauntlet of braves swinging clubs and jabbing with the butt ends of spears. In high school the goal is Graduation Day instead of a manhood feather, and the weapons are replaced by insults, slights, and epithets, many of them racial, but I imagine the feelings are about the same. The victims aren't always naked, and yet a good deal of the rawest hazing does take place on playing fields and in locker rooms, where the marks are thinly dressed or not dressed at all. The locker room is where Carrie starts, with girls throwing sanitary napkins at a sexually ignorant girl who thinks she is bleeding to death.
I don't trust people who look back on high school with fondness; too many of them were part of the overclass, those who were taunters instead of tauntees. These are the ones least likely to understand the bogeyboys and to reject any sympathy for them (which is not the same as condoning their acts, a point which should not have to be made but which probably does). They are also the ones most likely to suggest that books such as Carrie and The Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace be removed from libraries. I submit to you that these people have less interest in reducing the atmosphere of violence in schools than they may have in forgetting how badly some people--they themselves, in some cases--may have behaved while there.
And still...for a' that and a' that, as Robert Burns says, the amp-cult atmosphere of make-believe violence in which so many children now live has to be considered part of the problem. We may like our Jackie Chan movies, Walker Texas Ranger on TV, and the ultra-violent survivalist paperback novels--not to mention the pseudo-religious novels in which the Tribulation Days promised in the Book of Revelations are depicted in gory detail--but we need to recognize that these things are hurting us, just as so many of us had to recognize that our cigarettes were hurting us, much as we enjoyed them.
Yet there are other touchstones of the bogeyboy environment, and many of them have little to do with books or films. Bogeyboys are profoundly out of touch with their parents, and their parents are likewise out of touch with them. They gravitate toward groups run by adults and along quasi-military lines: scouting groups, karate and martial arts clubs, military and paramilitary groups, collector-clubs. The biggest exception has to do with sports. Bogeyboys rarely win school letters...except of course, if the school they attend happens to have a rifle-shooting team.
Bogeyboys come from families where the other sibs have been singled out for recognition in sports activities, academics, performing arts, church, or community service programs. Parents or other close relatives are often career military personnel. Bogeyboys do not win foot-races, get kissed by the Homecoming Queen, or garner blue ribbons. They are profoundly inarticulate and don't date much (Eric Harris was turned down when he asked a girl to go to the prom with him). At home, they stay in their rooms. If pressed, the parents of bogeyboys will often admit that they were afraid of these children long before they broke out and committed their acts of violence. If they add that they can't say exactly why they were afraid, no one need be surprised; these parents, often bright, nonabusive, and community-active, are rarely skilled at communication within the family. One wishes such families would read together, let some writer who is reasonably articulate do their talking for them, but of course this rarely happens.
Bogeyboys make few friends, and those they do make are often as crazy and balefully confused as they are. Their mutual attraction, sometimes homoerotic, has its own amp-cult effect as the friends begin to harmonize their lives, duplicating each others' favorite clothes, records, movies, video games, and Internet chat-rooms. (Books, violent or otherwise, are rarely a bright color in the Bogeyboy entertainment spectrum.) These cultural touchstones, from Metallica (“Exit light/enter night,” is how the chorus to one song begins) and Marilyn Manson to films such as Scream, create a language for those who cannot speak otherwise. For awhile it may suffice; it may suffice long enough, even, for something to change before terrible, irrevocable acts are committed. In some cases, however, the pressure becomes too great. Unable to internalize their feelings of anger and inadequacy, unable to externalize them by talking freely to anyone, the boiler finally ruptures and the steam shoots out sideways. Anyone in the way gets scalded. In Colorado, twelve of them were scalded to death.
Bogeyboys, it goes without saying, also always have access to guns. But in America, doesn't everyone, when you get right down to it? Isn't it fair to say that in America, one of the great religions is The Holy Church of the Nine-Millimeter? The gun people don't like to hear it, but I think it has to be said. And if we in the arts are willing to own up to the blood on our hands, I think they need to own up to the blood on theirs.
But I repeat that it is useless at this point to get into the whole bad-culture versus gun-availability argument; it has degenerated to the point where one almost expects to see bumper stickers reading GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, AC/DC CDS KILL PEOPLE. And in any case, both camps are operating not out of any real thought but out of two powerful fears. The first is that they will be blamed...and that they will deserve to be blamed. The second is more primal, and that is the fear of ghosts. Bogeyboys, drifting through the hallways of Everyhigh, U.S.A., whispering to the disenfranchised and the spat-upon that there is a way to even things up, that there is a lot of potent get-even medicine in a Tec-9 or a pipe bomb.
May I be blunt? This fear is that the violence isn't ending but only beginning. It isn't completely rational, but I think I also understand that irrational fears are often the most powerful of all. In this case, the unstated idea is that we have lived well while most of the world lives badly, eaten well while too much of the world goes hungry or actually starves, dressed our children in the best, much of it made by children in other countries who have little but their dreams, many of which are the violent American dreams they see on TV. We have had all this, some of us--maybe a lot of us--seem to think, and there must be a price. There must be a payment. Perhaps there must even be a judgment. Then into our uneasy minds come the images of the bogeyboys, who shot so well because they had trained on their home computers, and on the video games down at the mall.
President Clinton has made a few feeble swipes at addressing this issue, but one can only gape at the unintentionally comic spectacle of this man chastising the gun-lobby and America's love of violent movies while he rains bombs on Yugoslavia, where at least twenty noncombatants have already died for every innocent student at Columbine High. It is like listening to a man with a crack-pipe in his hand lecture children about the evils of drugs.
There are solutions, and there is also a calming sense of perspective that needs to be brought into play. The perspective begins with realizing that most kids in school are not bogeyboys but plain old good kids, interested in getting educations and having pleasant social lives, not necessarily in that order. The long-term solutions lie where they always have, in family lives which emphasize love, communication, and a knowledge of what the kids are up towho they're seeing, what they're saying, and what they may be using to get high on come the weekend.
One immediate solution, or a step toward it, lies in the guidance offices of American high schools, where a better, stronger effort has to be made to identify potential Eric Harrises, Dylan Klebolds, and Thomas Solomons; there needs to be a quantum shift of emphasis from job guidance to psychological guidance (although sometimes they are the same). When such guidance is rejected, there needs to be a process to remove potentially violent children from school environments. The ACLU won't like it, but I don't imagine such Columbine High students as John Tomlin and Rachel Scott much like being dead instead of at the Senior Prom. And if we are going to restrict the right of liberal Constitution-watchers to get innocent kids killed, we need to restrict the right of the gun lobby to get them killed, as well; this country needs to restrict the sale of handguns much more strictly than it has up to now been willing to do. Background checks at gunshows is only a first step.
And yes, there needs to be a re-examination of America's violent culture of the imagination. It needs to be done soberly and calmly; a witch-hunt won't help. Never mind burning Marilyn Manson's records in great fundamentalist bonfires or removing Anne Rice novels from the local library because they might give a few unempowered dweebs the idea of donning Goth clothing and powdering their faces white; let's go beyond the question of whether or not the next crop of natural born killers are currently honing their skills in Arcade 2000 at the local mall. It's time for an examination of why Americans of all ages are so drawn to armed conflict (Rambo), unarmed conflict (World Federation Wrestling), and images of violence. These things are not just speaking to potential teenage killers, but to a great many of us. Their hold on the national psyche has progressed to a point where the Columbine murders dominate our headlines and possess our thoughts to the exclusion of much else, including the mass exodus of a million Kosovars and the world's most dangerous armed conflict since Vietnam.
Harris and Klebold are dead and in their graves, but we are in terror of them all the same; they are the Red Death in our richly appointed castle (where, as the twenty-first century approaches and the stock market daily bops its way to new highs, the party has never been more feverishly gay). They are our bogeyboys, and perhaps the real first step in making them go away is to decide what it is about them that frightens us so much. It is a discussion which must begin in families, schools, libraries, and in public forums such as this. Which is why I have begged your attention and yourindulgence on such an unappetizing subject.
Thank you.
Copyright 1999 by Stephen King.

Bachman Exposed - by Steve Brown 

Steve Brown is the man who discovered that it was King that had written the Bachman book. Here he tells the story of how it happened.

When I read an advance copy of Thinner, I was no more than two pages into it when I said, "This is either Stephen King or the world's best imitator." I began to ponder that maybe this *was* King. More or less as a kind of game, not real seriously, I took the subway over to the Library of Congress to look up the copyright documents. All but the oldest were copyrighted in Kirby McCauley's name - - a big clue, as KM was King's agent, but not conclusive. McCauley had many clients. I almost gave up at this point, as the oldest book was copyrighted before the LC changed to an easy computer system. But, just to be anal about it, I insisted the clerk go off and manually hunt up the document. She came back and handed it to me. There it was: Stephen King, Bangor, Maine. I xeroxed all documents and went home.

I admire and respect King and had no desire to do something that might hurt him. So I made copies of everything and wrote out a letter explaining my research. I told him I'd love to write some little article about this, but that if there was some sort of problem involved, to let me know and I would promise to keep quiet. I mailed the package to King c/o Kirby Mccauley. I expected at most some little note in return.

Two weeks went by. Then I heard a page over the intercom at the big bookstore I worked in. "Steve Brown. Call for Steve Brown on line 5." I picked it up and a voice said, "Steve Brown? This is Steve King. All right. You know I'm Bachman. I know I'm Bachman. What are we going to do about it? Let's talk."

It hadn't occurred to me he'd call, so I hadn't bother to give him my number or even the name of the bookstore. He had spent a whole afternoon calling every bookstore in DC trying to find me!

Anyway, we chatted for a while and he gave me his unlisted home phone and told me to call him in the evening. I ran out and got a tape recorder with a telephone attachment and interviewed him for three nights straight over the phone. He was very relaxed and very funny throughout. He didn't seem at all upset that I had found him out. He was extremely gracious and said that he wouldn't talk to anyone else but me (outside of simply admitting it), that mine would be the only lengthy interview on the subject.

It took a while for me to get it in shape and find a publisher. During this time King kept in contact and told me that more and more people had read Thinner and were coming after him. Finally I published it in the Washington Post. From there, it went everywhere.

My interview (with all the dirty words the Post made me take out) has been reprinted in the Underwood/Miller collection of essays on King, "Kingdom of Fear," for those interested.

I stress that there was never any hint of blackmail, that King talked to me of his own free will and gave me a lengthy interview at his suggestion, not mine. I think he knew that the truth was going to come out anyway, and he liked the idea of this nobody book clerk in Washington getting the story instead of the New York Times or something.

I should also stress that I did all this out of simple respect for the man and because, to me, it was a wild weird and kind of cool game. I did not "cash in" at all. King mentioned me by name in the intro to the original edition of the Bachman Books, but this has vanished in the current edition.

Copied from Lilja's Library:

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

The Masque of The Red Death

The Masque of the Red Death

by Edgar Allan Poe

The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince’s own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress nor egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the “Red Death”.

It was towards the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence.

It was a voluptuous scene, that masquerade. But first let me tell of the rooms in which it was held. These were seven—an imperial suite. In many palaces, however, such suites form a long and straight vista, while the folding doors slide back nearly to the walls on either hand, so that the view of the whole extent is scarcely impeded. Here the case was very different, as might have been expected from the duke’s love of the bizarre. The apartments were so irregularly disposed that the vision embraced but little more than one at a time. There was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each turn a novel effect. To the right and left, in the middle of each wall, a tall and narrow Gothic window looked out upon a closed corridor which pursued the windings of the suite. These windows were of stained glass whose colour varied in accordance with the prevailing hue of the decorations of the chamber into which it opened. That at the eastern extremity was hung, for example in blue—and vividly blue were its windows. The second chamber was purple in its ornaments and tapestries, and here the panes were purple. The third was green throughout, and so were the casements. The fourth was furnished and lighted with orange—the fifth with white—the sixth with violet. The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the same material and hue. But in this chamber only, the colour of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes here were scarlet—a deep blood colour. Now in no one of the seven apartments was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof. There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp or candle within the suite of chambers. But in the corridors that followed the suite, there stood, opposite to each window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire, that projected its rays through the tinted glass and so glaringly illumined the room. And thus were produced a multitude of gaudy and fantastic appearances. But in the western or black chamber the effect of the fire-light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all.

It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to harken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation. But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and then, after the lapse of sixty minutes, (which embrace three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies,) there came yet another chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before.

But, in spite of these things, it was a gay and magnificent revel. The tastes of the duke were peculiar. He had a fine eye for colours and effects. He disregarded the decora of mere fashion. His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre. There are some who would have thought him mad. His followers felt that he was not. It was necessary to hear and see and touch him to be sure that he was not.

He had directed, in great part, the movable embellishments of the seven chambers, upon occasion of this great fête; and it was his own guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders. Be sure they were grotesque. There were much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm—much of what has been since seen in “Hernani”. There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions. There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust. To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked, in fact, a multitude of dreams. And these—the dreams—writhed in and about taking hue from the rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to seem as the echo of their steps. And, anon, there strikes the ebony clock which stands in the hall of the velvet. And then, for a moment, all is still, and all is silent save the voice of the clock. The dreams are stiff-frozen as they stand. But the echoes of the chime die away—they have endured but an instant—and a light, half-subdued laughter floats after them as they depart. And now again the music swells, and the dreams live, and writhe to and fro more merrily than ever, taking hue from the many tinted windows through which stream the rays from the tripods. But to the chamber which lies most westwardly of the seven, there are now none of the maskers who venture; for the night is waning away; and there flows a ruddier light through the blood-coloured panes; and the blackness of the sable drapery appals; and to him whose foot falls upon the sable carpet, there comes from the near clock of ebony a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic than any which reaches their ears who indulged in the more remote gaieties of the other apartments.

But these other apartments were densely crowded, and in them beat feverishly the heart of life. And the revel went whirlingly on, until at length there commenced the sounding of midnight upon the clock. And then the music ceased, as I have told; and the evolutions of the waltzers were quieted; and there was an uneasy cessation of all things as before. But now there were twelve strokes to be sounded by the bell of the clock; and thus it happened, perhaps, that more of thought crept, with more of time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among those who revelled. And thus too, it happened, perhaps, that before the last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk into silence, there were many individuals in the crowd who had found leisure to become aware of the presence of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of no single individual before. And the rumour of this new presence having spread itself whisperingly around, there arose at length from the whole company a buzz, or murmur, expressive of disapprobation and surprise—then, finally, of terror, of horror, and of disgust.

In an assembly of phantasms such as I have painted, it may well be supposed that no ordinary appearance could have excited such sensation. In truth the masquerade licence of the night was nearly unlimited; but the figure in question had out-Heroded Herod, and gone beyond the bounds of even the prince’s indefinite decorum. There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made. The whole company, indeed, seemed now deeply to feel that in the costume and bearing of the stranger neither wit nor propriety existed. The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. The mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. And yet all this might have been endured, if not approved, by the mad revellers around. But the mummer had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in blood—and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror.

When the eyes of the Prince Prospero fell upon this spectral image (which, with a slow and solemn movement, as if more fully to sustain its role, stalked to and fro among the waltzers) he was seen to be convulsed, in the first moment with a strong shudder either of terror or distaste; but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage.

“Who dares,”—he demanded hoarsely of the courtiers who stood near him—“who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery? Seize him and unmask him—that we may know whom we have to hang, at sunrise, from the battlements!”

It was in the eastern or blue chamber in which stood the Prince Prospero as he uttered these words. They rang throughout the seven rooms loudly and clearly, for the prince was a bold and robust man, and the music had become hushed at the waving of his hand.

It was in the blue room where stood the prince, with a group of pale courtiers by his side. At first, as he spoke, there was a slight rushing movement of this group in the direction of the intruder, who at the moment was also near at hand, and now, with deliberate and stately step, made closer approach to the speaker. But from a certain nameless awe with which the mad assumptions of the mummer had inspired the whole party, there were found none who put forth hand to seize him; so that, unimpeded, he passed within a yard of the prince’s person; and, while the vast assembly, as if with one impulse, shrank from the centres of the rooms to the walls, he made his way uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn and measured step which had distinguished him from the first, through the blue chamber to the purple—through the purple to the green—through the green to the orange—through this again to the white—and even thence to the violet, ere a decided movement had been made to arrest him. It was then, however, that the Prince Prospero, maddening with rage and the shame of his own momentary cowardice, rushed hurriedly through the six chambers, while none followed him on account of a deadly terror that had seized upon all. He bore aloft a drawn dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to within three or four feet of the retreating figure, when the latter, having attained the extremity of the velvet apartment, turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer. There was a sharp cry—and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet, upon which, instantly afterwards, fell prostrate in death the Prince Prospero. Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revellers at once threw themselves into the black apartment, and, seizing the mummer, whose tall figure stood erect and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped in unutterable horror at finding the grave cerements and corpse-like mask, which they handled with so violent a rudeness, untenanted by any tangible form.

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.