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Fever Dream

I am  sick.

I would kill the parties responsible for giving me this plague, but they are my children, and I’d probably regret it later.

Plus I am too weak to hurt anyone just now.

I am not accustomed to this state of being. I take great comfort in believing I am able to hurt anyone I want on a whim. Now I just feel … nervous.

And woolly headed.

Somehow one of my spawn (or perhaps both working in tandem) managed to rename this computer ‘5’. I had no idea they were so proficient with Windows.

I should have bought a Mac.

If I’m not careful, they’ll find this blog and know I am too weak to stop them.

This makes me more nervous.

But not as nervous as this. It’s from a book for my kids: Just Go To Bed by Mercer Mayer.

The creepy dad, a.k.a. El Bandito Daddy-O

If I was a two-year old and I saw this man, I'd need a diaper change, stat!

It isn’t supposed to be creepy, in context, but if you only look at the bit I’ve got cropped above?

Now that’s creepy.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!

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Posted by on 21 November 2011 in Life

 

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The Great Alphabet Conspiracy – The Z Is A Lie

The alphabet is evil.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that.  But it is.  It is evil to the core and out to get you.  OK, maybe not you, not yet anyway, but it is definitely out to get me.

I should clarify that I’m speaking about the English alphabet.  Even more specifically, the American English alphabet.  The British English alphabet is safe.  (I mean, come on, how can any alphabet that ends in ‘Zed’ be evil?  Simply not possible!)

The American English alphabet is evil for one reason: it has a twisted and extremely irritating limitation on the use of the letter ‘u’.  Every year, because of its archaic rule system, developed over a hundred years ago in the darkest corner of Western civilization, we are forced to drop the letter ‘u’ from a myriad of words, which has a devastating impact on the biblio-diversity of our language.

As an example, look how flat and undernourished the words ‘humor’ and ‘color’ and ‘draft’ look when compared to their proper British spelling, ‘humour’ and ‘colour’ and ‘draught’.  (And hey, there’s another nasty little gotcha of this upstart alphabet – requiring the substitution of ‘f’ for ‘gh’ – it’s diabolical!)

When I say it’s diabolical, I’m not exaggerating.  The American English alphabet is a product of the Devil herself.  (Yes, herself.  Only a woman could be this evil.  Go ahead, write your angry comments about how sexist that remark is, but it’s true.  Check out Genesis if you don’t believe me – that snake was female!)  You see, bastardizing the American English alphabet was the start of a grand project to create a schism between the United Kingdom and the United States of America, thus leaving the whole of the Atlantic Ocean up for grabs instead of under the protection of a powerful and united alliance between two mighty nations that spoke exactly the same language.

It is the American English alphabet that is directly responsible for the furled brows and confused expressions found on Americans when they hear about spotted dick and jumpers and sticky wickets.  Oh, the tragedy of it all.  And hate this devilish scheme all you want, you can’t help but admire the seductive beauty of it.  “We’re just limiting the use of the letter ‘u’ to save time on type-setting and money on ink.  For every hundred pages you print in this way, you save two and a half pages of paper.  That’s good for the environment!  (The Devil is not red, as commonly depicted, but green.  Very, very green.)  An inconsequential change with vast economic savings over time.  What could be the harm?”  Of course, this question was posed while She was wearing a very low-cut, very form-fitting dress, thus confuzzling poor Man even more.  Because let’s face it, the Devil, she is hot.

What could be the harm, indeed.  Well-played, Satan, well-played.

And off we trundled, smiles on our faces as we thought about all the money we’d save (and the curves of that clinging dress), down the path of the damned to the village of the damned with all its bastard blond children of the damned.  There were some on that path who saw the danger, who stopped and turned back and tried to warn the rest of us as we passed by.  Jesus (he spoke English, I’m pretty sure, based on all the movies he’s been in that were in English).  Benedict Arnold (who died trying to keep our nations united).  George W. Bush (whose murderous crimes against American English can only be called downright heroic once you learn the truth about the Alphabet Conspiracy.)  And the most famous of the prophets (which isn’t saying much), George Bernard Shaw, who tried to tip us off with that completely misunderstood statement, “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.”  Now there was a man who knew about the treachery of immortal women forged in Hellfire and prancing about in extremely tight-fitting dresses.

And now, of course, me.

Which is why the American English alphabet is trying to do me in.  Me and anyone else who has gotten to the end of this entry, which means you too are in mortal peril.

There’s only one way to protect yourself so you can carry on the message.  Switch to a new alphabet.  Kanji, Greek, or, if you’re lazy like me, British English.

And you have to admit, those words look so much better with the extra ‘u’.

 

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Diaper Noir: Pulp fiction’s dirty childhood secret

What the heck is diaper noir, you ask?

I stop and count to ten. I must remind myself that not everyone is as scholarly as me, not everyone has spent years in the dark, dank basements of long-closed and long-forgotten libraries, failed institutions that still have copies of the now nearly extinct works. I must remember that most people are victims of the cover-up, the dark conspiracy to hide the truth about noir’s origins.

So.

Diaper noir is the precursor to noir. An immature form of pulp fiction. And an important part of literary history. (Yes, noir is literary. If you don’t agree, you can sulk over in the Historical Romance section of your local Borders and stay there while the empty building is razed.)

The famous noir writers like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler had to mature into the genre (Virginia Woolf also tried her hand at it, but her writing in the genre never matured beyond the embryonic stage). Before they cranked out those celebrated pulp fictions, they cut their teeth on diaper noir.

Properly known as petite noir (it was the pulp magazines like Black Diaper that popularized the more common name), the genre was not started by Hammett, Chandler, or their contemporaries. It was actually H.P. Lovecraft who started this genre, though he did not remain with it very long before moving into horror. Fortunately, Lovecraft’s bastard child was not left abandoned to cry alone in the night and slowly starve. Hammett and Chandler readily adopted the genre, making it their own and eventually growing it into the pulp fiction so recognizable today.

Critics and the buying public stayed away from le petite noir in droves, but I think the genre is worth revisiting, if not for the quality of the stories, then for the influence it had on le gran noir.

Still you ask, what is diaper noir? I have drifted into the history without delving into the actual mechanics of the genre. It is the noir we all know and love, but with toddlers and babies as characters instead of adults. Diaper-wearing sleuths, hence the moniker. It’s easy to scoff now, but without diaper noir, we would never have gotten Sam Spade or the Millenium Falcon or Ace Ventura.

In fact, Sam Spade’s first appearance was as a three-year old in Hammett’s novella, Toddler Trouble.  Who can forget that incredible opening?

It had been a long summer, the heat spilling over like my temper after mommy took away a favorite toy, and today promised more of the same. The fan wheezed overhead, pushing around the sticky air, thick like my favorite blanky, without providing any relief. I fumbled open my drawer, pulled out my bottle, took a hit. Burned going down. Whoever said warm milk goes down easy was a liar liar, pants on fire. Then I burped as she crawled in.

Couldn’t have been more than a week over eighteen months. Her diaper stank and she eyed my bottle. She looked hungry. Real hungry.

Hammett and Chandler, as evidenced by correspondence with friends, family, and each other, had a vicious rivalry going when it came to diaper noir, and were constantly trying to one-up each other. This resulted in a string of dark as a dirty nappy stories such as Terrible Twos, I’ll Nap When I’m Dead, The Poison Bottle, Buddy’s Feral Cat (the inspiration, incidentally, for Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat”), Dirt Nap, and Bad Baby, Bad!  Long forgotten now, but as the genre matured into the noir to come, with its adult characters but lighter themes, these ‘childish’ stories served as their templates.

But the undisputed father of diaper noir is H.P. Lovecraft, with his twisted short, The Nursery From the Shadows, followed shortly after by The Squid In the Crib.  Horrific mysteries that drove insane the handful of readers foolish enough to finish them. I can’t even provide an excerpt here, the contents are so dangerous in their non-Euclidean eldritchness. Which is a shame, because having read them, I can attest to their awesomeness.

So I urge you, the next time you pick up a Raymond Chandler or a Dashiell Hammett or an Erle Stanley Gardner or an L. Frank Baum, think about where they came from, what literary exercises and explorations spawned them. Think about diaper noir.

Does your library carry these titles? They’re worth a look (except for the Lovecraft stuff – just too dangerous, and I’m pretty sure the only copies are locked up in the Dark Arts research stacks at the Miskatonic University library, guarded by a very stern librarian with a Colt 1911 and a silencer (it is a library, after all)). If you can’t find them at your library, demand they get copies. Don’t let the librarians tell you there’s no such thing. If they’re saying that, they’re part of the conspiracy to bury this nascent work and it is your duty to stand at the circulation desk and scream at the top of your lungs for them to put these influential works back into circulation. Tell ’em ianmdudley sent you.

 
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Posted by on 19 May 2011 in Noir, Other Blogs

 

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