Tell It Like It Is

It’s not unlike in that song “The Future Soon” by the great philosopher Jonathan Coulton:

It’s gonna be the future soon
And I won’t always be this way
When the things that make me weak and strange get engineered away

Except that it’s not quite exactly like that. I’ll get to keep the strange. So, perhaps, RoboCop–the original nineteen-eightysomething version, not that remake–would be a better way to look at it: the alternative is less pleasant.

Not that they’re going to turn me in a robot. Or enhance my sight with X-ray vision, get me all weaponized or cool shit like that. In that way, it’s totally unlike another of mr. Coulton’s songs, “Better”.

What they are going to do, is pop open my chest (no, not quite like in Alien), cut out the section of my aorta that looks like a great big snake that has consumed but not quite digested a goat, and replace it with a piece of what my mind insists on calling a garden hose.

If you’d happen to think that, Jesus jumping Christ on a cracker, that sounds exactly like some major piece of open heart surgery, you’d be right. Because that’s exactly what it is. Some genetic defect haunts my family, and now it seems to have caught me as well.

C’est la vie.

Apart from every now and then when I think about it too much and the whole fucking thing scares the bejeezus out of me and I fall apart, except for those times, the operation doesn’t worry me that much: they turn this particular trick all the time, and the risks of anything (in the broadest sense of the word) going wrong is very small. All I can to do is lie down, count to ten, inhale deeply and wake up on the ICU, say, seven to eight hours later all fixed and stuff. The alternative is waiting till I officially have an aneurysm or it dissects and it all goes horribly wrong. And we wouldn’t want that, would we?

The part that I’m absolutely not looking forward to is the recovery. Reportedly, it takes your breastbone six weeks to grow back together, and during that time you have to take it slow. Like a glacier. Other than that, it is supposed to feel like a very bad case of sore muscles.

Oh, well. By the time this post appears online, surgery should be well underway. I’ll let you know how it went as soon as I’m up to it.

First Lines: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories

Included in the second Humble eBook Bundle, The Poison Eaters and Other Stories is a damn fine collection of stories by Holly Black. I knew that Black had co-written the Spiderwick Chronicles series–and the movie they made out of that was enjoyable enough.

Black can turn out a fine tale. There’s vampires, faeries, werewolves, enchanted libraries, unicorns and Bacchanalia. What’s not to like. As I progressed, I found myself liking her stories better and better. She’s made it on my ever growing list of writers I should explore some more.

Book read
Holly Black – The Poison Eaters and Other Stories
First line
Matilda was drunk, but then she was always drunk anymore. (from The Coldest Girl in Coldtown)

First Lines: Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten & Other Stories

Having finished Bradley P. Beaulieu’s The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy, moving on to his short stories seemed logical. So, I dived into Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten & Other Stories, got distracted several times, but finished it in the end.

Passage collects several short stories, covering a bunch of fantasy sub-genres and set in many different worlds. There are two more of tales of Anuskaya, there’s steampunk, Japanese influences, Middle-eastern settings, a tale that screamed “Romans!” at me, something vaguely Buddhistic and, perhaps my favorite, “Prey to the Gods”, where a man is forced to kill the Deer-god Itekwa.

As a bonus, I tacked on Upon the Point of a Knife, a (once free for download) story of demons and possession.

Book read
Bradley P. Beaulieu — Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten & Other Stories
First line
Al-Ashmar sat cross-legged in the tent of Gadn ak Hulavar and placed his patient, a spotted cat, onto a velvet pillow. (from In the Eyes of the Empress’s Cat)
Story read
Bradley P. Beaulieu — Upon the Point of a Knife
First line
As the sun set over Providence, Jonah Bloom lay at the end of Dorrance Street where the street gave over to the railroad tracks.

Cat Leaves Bag

LinkedIn mails me all the time. Mostly, it’s recruiters. This time, it was one of the founders of Blendle, “a digital kiosk selling individual articles from newspapers and magazines to internet users”. One of his developers noticed my profile, and he was told he should mail me, like, now. If I’d be interested in coming down for coffee and a chat.

I’d seen their vacancy for front-end dev. But, being the hip new platform they are, I figured there would be a line a mile long. (Not anywhere close, so I’m told.) And as I wasn’t looking for a new job, and given the other stuff I have to tell you about eventually, I didn’t act on it. But hey, with them being interested in me, I was both flattered and game.

Since they were incredibly busy, I was asked if I could do a little test first. Apparently I passed the test, and a meeting was set. That meeting was Wednesday, and didn’t quite work out. It was a bit chaotic, with the person who I was supposed to meet being sick and his stand-in not having seen my code before the interview. And besides, I was a rambling and incoherent mess and wouldn’t have hired me myself.

Oh, well.

I’ll always have that one time Blendle was interested in me and a Single Page Presentation App to show for it.

First Lines: Lof der Zotheid

One of the ideas behind my 40 books before 40 project was for me to challenge myself. To read something outside of my comfort zone. With Desiderius Erasmus’ Morias Enkomion, id est Stultitiae laus, commonly translated as In Praise of Folly or Lof der Zotheid in Dutch, I hit that squarely on the head.

Written in 1509 as an attempt to humor his friend Sir Thomas More, In Praise of Folly is an essay in which the goddess Folly praises herself and her gifts to mankind. It starts of light-hearted by praising self-deception and madness, but ends with a satirical put down of Roman Catholic doctrine.

Light reading matter, it is not. There are copious references to Greek and Roman myths, philosophers, and, of course, the bible. (This edition included some 370 end notes.) The language is long-winded, flowery, not quite to the point, and prone to endless lists of examples of the thing it is currently describing. Even though I can’t quite recall what I expected when I put this one on the list, but I’m quite sure it wasn’t what I got. I can understand why In Praise of Folly is a landmark in world history, but if you prefer your reading to fun, I’d steer clear of this one.

Book read
Morias Enkomion ofwel De Lof der Zotheid: Een stilistische oefening van Erasmus van Rotterdam (translated by drs. A.J. Hiensch, 1969)
First line
Hoe de mensen ook gewoonlijk over mij praten — want ik weet heel goed hoezeer de dwaasheid in kwade reuk staat, zelfs bij de allerdwaasten — ben ik het toch, en ik alleen die het in mijn macht heb goden en mensen op te vrolijken; een meer dan voldoende bewijs hiervoor is toch wel het feit dat zodra ik voor deze talrijke menigte naar voren trad om te spreken, onmiddelijk alle gezichten opklaarden tot een nieuwe en ongekende vrolijkheid, dat u onmiddelijk het gelaat uit de plooi bracht, dat u opgewekt en vriendelijk lachend applaudisseerde zodat het waarachtig wel lijkt of u — in zo groten getale van her en der gekomen — nu opeens dronken bent van de nectar der Homerische goden waarin lachkruid is gestrooid, terwijl u daarstraks nog somber en bezorgd zat te kijken alsof u net uit de grot van Trophonius terug was.