I'll be away in Seattle from Friday October 10 through Monday October 13, attending the launch party of my new novel, Cosmocopia. But I've stacked up four posts in the queue, all new FOLLIES OF THE MAD MEN. Enjoy!
This article in today's NEW YORK TIMES tells us about "Street Wars," a game played in urban environments by players determined to "kill" each other. Several precedents for this game are cited in the article, but the writer misses the most important and primal one: A 1953 story by famed and beloved SF writer Robert Sheckley, titled "The Seventh Victim."
The story was later filmed as THE 10TH VICTIM. Its most famous scene: Ursula Andress using guns concealed in her bra, as seen in the second clip below.
I started thinking about contortionists again when I happened upon a feature on them in an old issue of Life. In my novel Spondulix I had a character who was an "enter-ologist," a great term I found in Ricky Jay's wonderful history of sideshows and freaks, Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women. Enter-ologists get into impossible places, rather than escape from impossible places.
In any case, a short search of the web turned up lots of online contortionist info, including the Contortion Home Page, which is where I found this pic of April Tatro. That's her in the video below as well.
Here's another strange book I purchased but have not yet read. The real author is Joseph K. Heydon, using the pen-name of Hal Trevarthen. Time has swallowed up all details related to Heydon and his book, leaving us only with the text itself.
Here's the description from the amazingly ugly dustjacket.
Here's the title page, followed by a sample of the actual bafflegab inside.
A few years ago, visiting the island of Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast, I learned of Nancy Luce (1814-1890). An eccentric loner artist who self-published her own poetry--mainly devoted to her beloved pet chickens--and buried the birds with fully engraved headstones, she is the subject of a biography still available on the island at various gift shops: Consider Poor I by Walter Magnes Teller. You can read what The New York Times had to say about the book here. You might even be so moved as to purchase a lovely woodcut print of Luce here.
Perhaps we should commemorate Luce with a sample of her poetry:
POOR LITTLE HEARTS
Poor little Ada Queetie has departed this life,
Never to be here no more,
No more to love, no more to speak,
No more to be my friend.
O how I long to see her with me alive and well,
Her heart and mine was united,
Love and feelings deeply rooted for each other,
She and I could never part,
I am left broken hearted....
Researchers at Collins Dictionaries have identified some of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language. At the top of the list is supercede, closely followed by liquify. The correct spellings are supersede and liquefy. I confess I've been misspelling those two words my entire life.
In other misspelling news, Loren Coleman suggests that an early clue the Georgia Bigfoot body was a hoax was that the hoaxers consistently misspelled Bigfoot, spelling it "Big Foot." One of them had a towing company called "Big Foot Towing." Loren writes:
When someone is alluding to “Sasquatch,” but then spells it using two words that tells you something about that person. Perhaps they don’t really know too much about Bigfoot, or they only are trying to capture the power of the legendary stories but are not familiar with the history and research of the creatures.
Unfortunately for Loren, he himself didn't notice this clue early enough. (Thanks to Sandy!)
How weird is it that there are still Confederate Widows alive? Although one named Maudie Hopkins died just recently, experts claim there are still other women alive who were once married to men who fought for the Confederacy. Obviously this bestselling novel will still have relevance for some time yet.
In my 'Odds and Ends' folder on my computer I've got a file called "They Never Said It." In it I put every example I come across of a famous line of dialogue that was never said by the fictional character it's attributed to. It's a fairly short list so far (a list of misquoted real-life people would be much longer), but this is what I've got:
"Beam me up, Scotty."
Never said by Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek television series.
"Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts."
The signature line of Sgt. Joe Friday, lead character of the 1950s' television drama Dragnet. The closest he ever came to saying it was, "All we want are the facts, ma'am."
"Elementary, my dear Watson."
Never uttered by Sherlock Holmes in any of Arthur Conan Doyle's writings (though Holmes does, once, say 'Elementary'). The phrase was first used in a Sherlock Holmes movie in 1929.
"Play it again, Sam."
The actual line said by Ingrid Bergman's character in Casablanca is, "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By'."
"What is it, girl? Timmy's fallen in the well?"
It's the signature line from the Lassie TV series, but it was never uttered. Timmy never fell down a well.
"Greed is good."
Attributed to Michael Douglas's character Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street. The actual line is "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." Though in the trailer for the movie the line was shortened to "Greed is good."
"You dirty rat."
James Cagney's most famous line that he never said. The actual line from the 1932 film Taxi! is "Come out and take it, you dirty, yellow-bellied rat, or I'll give it to you through the door!"
"Judy, Judy, Judy."
Cary Grant's most quoted line. The closest he ever came to saying this was in the movie Only Angels Have Wings, in which his character's former girlfriend was called Judy and he said things such as, "Hello, Judy" or "Come on, Judy."
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.