Inhuman Swill : Page 122
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Pennydreadful Lane

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Confessed hobbit-lover Anthony Lane gets in some good digs at the expense of The Passion of the Lion in this week's New Yorker:

And so to the conceit that, for decades, has stirred both the souls of the faithful and the loins of professional Freudians: first Lucy, then Edmund, then all four children feel their way uncertainly through the folds of a deep, furry passage and into another world.

And later on:

And, if there is Deep Magic, as Lewis called it, in his tale, it resides not in the springlike coming of Aslan but in the dreamlike, compacted poetry of Lewis’s initial inspiration—the sight of a faun, in the snow, bearing parcels and an umbrella. That is kept mercifully intact in Adamson’s movie, its potency enriched by the shy, unstrenuous rapport of his two best performers: Georgie Henley, as Lucy, and James McAvoy, as Mr. Tumnus the faun. The dark joke is that Mr. Tumnus invites Lucy to tea only because he must turn his guest over to the enemy. Thus does Lucy, over toast and honey, learn the lesson known to the heroine of every horror flick: Don’t answer the faun.
Sorry, I don't know what came over me. Could you give me hand up?
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Make me ... a mai tai!

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I'm a MAI TAI!!!
Okay, you're a mai tai!

You're a Mai Tai!!
You're a classic and hard to replace. People love
you for your originality and appreciate your
kindness and good nature.

What cocktail are you? (With Pictures!!)
brought to you by Quizilla

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Nothing gets the ol' blood pumpin' like the strong smell of smoke.

Laura and I had just watched 13 Going on 30—the credits were still rolling—when suddenly I bolted to my feet. "Do you smell that?" I said.

"Yes," said Laura.

My pulse had sped up to about 200 beats a minute. We raced from one end of the apartment to the other, sniffing. Laura went downstairs into the basement to check things out—our downstairs neighbor has already moved out of the house—while Ella and I ventured out front, out back, around the side of the house, and ultimately to the apartment upstairs. I had the cordless phone in my shaky hand, ready to dial 911 at the first sign of flame. Nothing. But we could still smell smoke strongly in our living room, and I could smell it as well outside in the passage at the between our house and the next, near our living room window.

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Elder Skelter!

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Somehow, despite the fact that it played regularly at the Blue Mouse in Salt Lake City to midnight crowds, I managed to grow up without ever having seen the 1922 cult-classic exploitation flick Trapped by the Mormons, about scary Mormon elders with hypnotic eyes who lure nubile women into lives of sexual slavery.

But fate conspires to remedy this sad oversight. There's a remake! And it's coming to New York! Huzzah! Pay lay ale!

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Before it opens, I wanted to mention that Laura and I saw a preview screening of The Passion of the Lion last week. No, wait, I meant Narnia Wars Episode II: A New Hope. No, that's wrong too....

However you slice it, the movie version of the first (or second, depending on how you reckon it) of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is a reasonably engaging piece of entertainment. It's acted well, the special effects are in many cases astonishing (and sometimes not), and it must be said that Tilda Swinton makes for a scarily alluring White Witch, especially in her shaggy barbarian battle getup toward the end of the film. What it wasn't was particularly memorable. It sort of fizzed during viewing and evaporated outside the theater.

I'm not sure why this is. Probably to many fingers in the (fairly faithful) screenplay, and not a sure and compelling enough directorial vision. I was not a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies (which makes me something of an an anomaly in SF circles), but I will say this for Peter Jackson—I probably remember the sights and spectacle of The Fellowship of the Ring better four years after seeing it than I remembered TCoN:TLtWatW after four days. That said, I certainly wouldn't steer fantasy fans away from seeing it.

I had two interesting thoughts while watching the film. First is that, with all the outreach Disney has done to Christian groups, I wondered whether hard-core Christians would be a) more friendly toward fantastic literature after seeing it, or b) severely disturbed at the portrayal of such pagan and Bacchanalian figures as fauns and nymphs as good and friendly creatures.

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A primer of ice and fire

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I am greatly relieved, as I prepare to plow into both A Storm of Swords and A Feast of Crows, to have discovered a site that provides detailed synopses of all the books in the series. I read (and loved) the first two books when they came out, and I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be completely at sea if I jumped back in unprepared.

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A feast of crowing

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Did anyone else see the Time magazine article a couple of weeks ago in which George R. R. Martin was declared the "American Tolkien"? A startling and delightful thing to read in a magazine like that.

UPDATE: The article at is premium content, but I found a copy of it online here, at what seems to be a wholly unauthorized Time mirror site. Read it while it's still around!

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Hal Duncan, author of the (forthcoming, if you're in the States, and) highly praised novel Vellum and all around Righteous Dude, holds forth quite cogently on the distinctions (or lack thereof) between SF and fantasy. He calls them less feuding Campbells and Macdonalds than giant extended families that have long intermarried:

In truth, I think this whole division between SF and Fantasy is an illusion, an artificial dichotomy based more on claims of allegiance than on actual practice. Two small subsets of the field may live by their words, creating Hard SF or High Fantasy that do exemplify the warring aesthetics of Rationalism and Romanticism -- probably par excellence. But if you look around the drunken wedding party, ignore the two old maids sitting in their corners, that dusty old duality looks pretty irrelevant. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's fucking Modernism. Pulp Modernism, cheap, populist, balls-to-the-wall-and-entertaining-as-fuck Modernism, but still Modernism. We use mimesis on the one hand, fantasy on the other. We rationalise magic and romanticise science. We combine the exotic and the mundane. We experiment with literary conventions. This isn't the fiction of science; it's the science of fiction. We take metaphoric conceits, fantastic ideas, and we put them to the test with literature as the laboratory. Of course, when we get good results, we do have a tendency to go into mass production mode, churning out dodgy copies from the cheapest of materials for a consumerist market that loves our new toys for a few days before abandoning them for the next shiny doohicky... but, hey, that Big Corporate Structure keeps the R & D department going so I'm not complaining.  [full post]
In a way, Duncan articulates a thought I've had for many years, which is that SF and fantasy, at their best, are the disciplines that employ more of the tools from the writer's workbench than any other. At our best, we can pull off every trick in the "mainstream" writer's playbook besides stirring in half a dozen all our own.
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Not to be an insensitive jerk, but wouldn't a proper tribute to Rosa Parks involve not giving up your seat at the front of the bus?

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Twelve months of Ella

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Our close friend [info]ellapup has a 2006 calendar for sale. Check it out, and maybe pick up a copy and help her feel a little better about herself.

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