I wrote down everything I read and began writing my own first novel...

This blog aimed to contrast what I was reading in in 1975-79 with the same month, week and day, 30 years later in 2005-2009. I'm leaving the blog up in archive mode, blogging in real time on Live Journal--and still writing novels.

Lynne Murray's Live Journal and Bride of the Dead Blog

Saturday, September 16, 2006

T'ain't funny, McGee…or is it?

A short essay just posted on my web page was inspired by the recent death of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. I started thinking about the alligator in my life--My Pet Alligator. It's a true story. When I do a web page revamp in a month or so, I hope to post more short essays, and make a more prominent place for them.

I've been thinking about what people find funny. One young humor essayist posted a rejection he got from an editor who said essentially "humor is a knee-jerk reaction" and I agree with that. Humor is fragile and ephemeral and can get lost in translation or in time.

Oddly enough, the catch phrase "T'ain't funny, McGee" popped into my head. It's from the 1930s to '50s radio show Fibber McGee and Molly. (Lots more info on a great Wikipedia entry linked below.) I must have heard the radio show in its latter days in the 1950s because the famous closet-contents-pouring-out sound effect is burned into my memory. And it's still funny to me. Maybe because my closet is in a similar state--don't stand too near when you open the door. I love the burglar idea described below!

[N]one of the show's running gags was as memorable or enduring as The Closet---McGee's frequently opening and cacophonous closet, bric-a-brac clattering down and out and, often enough, over McGee's or Molly's heads. "I gotta get that closet cleaned out one of these days" was the usual McGee observation once the racket subsided. . . .

Exactly what tumbled out of McGee's closet each time was never exactly clear (except to the sound-effects man). But what ended the avalanche was always the same: a clear, tiny, household hand bell, and McGee's inevitable postmortem. Naturally, "one of these days" never arrived. A good thing, too, in one famous instance: when burglars tied up McGee, he informed them cannily that the family valuables were in The Closet. Naturally, the burglars took the bait. And, naturally, they were buried in the inevitable avalanche, long enough for the police to come and cuff them and stuff them.

Wikipedia entry.

The entertainment landscape, and the internet in particular are littered with would-be funny stuff, and that adds to the anxiety of those of us who try to write things that make people laugh. We spend a lot of time wondering if we're playing the Main Ballroom in the USS Titanic, while the real action is in the Lifeboat Lounge.

September 10 to 16, 1976, I read:

Hustling, Gail Sheehy
I liked this book, which was an investigative reporter's exploration of prostitution.

When I searched online, I found this quote from the book:

There is no more defiant denial of one man's ability to possess one woman exclusively than the prostitute who refuses to redeemed. (The quotation site where I found this didn't give exact details of book, page number, etc., but I'm guessing it's from Hustling rather than Passages)

If you look at Sheehy's website, you can see that her mega-bestseller Passages kind of put her into the "passages" business, and that word is used somewhere in the description of every one of the books listed on her site. I don't know if I've got Passages on my 1976 books read list--it was published that year, and for a long time I had trouble having a dialog with other women who kept citing chapters of it. I know I tried to read it, and I don't think I got far. I've got nothing against pop psychology but for some reason I couldn't get through that particular book. However, it seemed to have helped a lot of people feel good about themselves, which is good. Hustling isn't mentioned on her website, I personally think it shows diversity, but I guess it might alienate some who would enjoy all her other works.

The Brain Changers, Maya Pines
My note was: shuffled thru, clumsy, rather irritating read

Wasted: The Story of My Son's Drug Addiction, William Chapin
I remember this as a sad but powerful book. I hadn't realized it was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize till I read the link below.

Modern Science Fiction, Norman Spinrad, Ed.

Science Fiction today and Tomorrow, Reginald Bretnor, Ed.

September 10 to 16, 2006 I read:

Thief of Time, Terry Pratchett

Thud, Terry Pratchett

Once again a Terry Pratchett orgy is coming to an end when the books run out. I know when I buy more I will be back on the Pratchett express to wherever he decides to go. No frequent flyer miles, alas!

<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Terry+Pratchett" rel="tag">Terry Pratchett</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/William+Chapin" rel="tag">William Chapin</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Gail+Sheehy" rel="tag">Gail Sheehy</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Maya+Pines" rel="tag">Maya Pines</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Fibber+McGee+and+Molly" rel="tag">Fibber McGee and Molly</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Steve+Irwin" rel="tag">Steve Irwin</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Crocodile" rel="tag">Crocodile</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Alligator" rel="tag">Alligator</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><br />

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Books to escape with and into...

The names change, but reading to escape remains the same. All these books were fun to read.

August 30 to September 9, 1996

In Search of Wonder, Damon Knight
web site

Eaters of the Dead, Michael Crichton
Interesting that Crichton used historical materials from the 10th century explorations.
web site

Norstrillia, Cordwainer Smith
The only novel by Cordwainer Smith, pseudonym of the late Paul Linebarger, a professor and part-time spy, but it portrays the same future world as his amazing short stories.
web site

This was a pretty cool Virtual Reality Tour of the 160th century worlds Smith imagined.
web site

Shogun, James Clavell
Like Chrichton, Clavell wrote about an actual historical situation--a handful of Europeans in isolated 16th century Japan.
web site

August 30 to September 9, 2006

Only You Can Save Mankind (Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, 1.), Terry Pratchett

Johnny and the Dead (Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, 2.), Terry Pratchett

It might be awhile before I get to 3 of this trilogy, because these are very slight books, more like a Terry Pratchett sample compared to one of his full-length books. I probably will eventually read it though, because I'm fairly solidly addicted to Pratchett's work and eventually I'll run out of books to read…it's getting down to the last few already…

Dates From Hell, novelettes Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Kelley Armstrong, Lori Handeland

I hate to say it, but after a few days I remember some of these more than others.

"Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil" by Kim Harrison is a prequel to Harrison's Rachel Morgan series (Dead Witch Walking), in the form of a story of vampire Ivy's point of view. This one I liked and remembered, and felt it added to the "witch" series.
web site

"The Claire Switch Project" by Lynsay Sands. This uses a "molecular destabilizer" plot device, allowing the heroine to morph into different forms simply by looking at a picture. Paradoxically it was way too giddy to be funny to me, and an early scene establishing that most of the lead character do experiments on "bunnies" threw a bucket of ice water on me that chilled the rest of the story so that it was neither funny nor cute to me. (I couldn't quite "get to" the website for Linsay Sands, the URL links didn't work for me, sorry.)

"Chaotic" by Kelly Armstrong was a very strong read for me, introducing Hope, who is half demon, with an ability to see and an appetite for chaos that allows her first to apprehend and then to bond with jewel thief and werewolf, Marsten there are some interesting twists and turns in the story. I'll definitely check out more of Armstrong's books. web site

"Dead Man Dating" by Lori Handeland was enjoyable, featuring Kit Morelli, whose hot date winds up with her nearly dying in an alley at the hands of a demonic life-draining entity. I guess we haven't really all been there, but sometimes it feels like it. Rescued by demon hunter, Chavez, she finds that to save herself she has to get involved in his mission to hunt every kind of monster and demon there is--talk about a workaholic boyfriend.
web site