Reading, Short And Deep #322
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Professor Kate by Margaret St. Clair
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.
Professor Kate was first published in Weird Tales, January 1951.
Talked about on today’s show:
1988, Prime Evil (New Stories By The Modern Masters Of Horror), the movie, The Running Man is a powerful book, was Jesse wrong about Stephen King?, Salem’s Lot, he’s long, faithful, killing Dees?, lean and mean and sharp, essential goodness, cute, where It was set, All You Zombies, Predestination (2014), Marissa really loves his writing, creeped-out again, how bad writing happens, translates thought onto the page, Elmore Leonard, Donald E. Westlake, not enough there?, maybe Jesse is wrong, depth?, evidence that Jesse is wrong, social commentary, the flower children of the 1960s became the cannibals of the 1990s, real cynicism, pushing hard, the depth is in the characters, caring about characters, hard to film, what’s missing is its all a metaphor for something, the story in the telling, apart from the obvious metaphor: journalism bloodthirstiness, fake journalism, having the story in their minds, tabloid newspapers, what’s that about?, the social phenomenon, analogies to blood (and guts), typical Stephen King, a depth of connection, part of the appeal, feeling these things happen, we know him, we get him, the Weekly World News, on the edge of reality, Kolchak crossed with Lou Grant, “You’re real!”, backward and forward in time, anticipating what he’s going to see, a Cessna Skymaster, you sleep in the belly of that thing, don’t publish what you believe, finding evidence, Maine, small aircraft at small airports, a story idea, who is the titular character?, he’s more real than anyone else, he pointed to it right there, Dwight Renfield’s aircraft: the Toyota of aircraft, a push-pull, a bit like a bat, Dee’s aircraft: Beechcraft 55 aka the Baron, their “crosstown rival”, Cessna vs. Beech, Wichita, Kansas, playing up that parallel, extending the ending, anticipatable, creating the creature for his story, the writer spinning his story, soft human emotions, “Reader’s Digest emotions”, Miguel Ferrer, the anti-hero, a kind of bloodthirsty dude, he’s the vampire, to exploit the trauma of other people’s lives, lying, he glamours them, practicing, “a little boid”, is that what makes King so popular?, he does humans well, problems with endings, unlike the movie, vampiric traits, that ending, there’s no evidence of a vampire, did he get framed, making explicit the metaphor that’s going on in the text, take the film out, if that’s true…, why does Dwight let Dees go?, chasing a phantom, self mutilation for fun and profit, we are supposed to infer Dwight has glamoured the folks at the airfield, following but not with, was Dees doing the killing, an X-Files episode, very Kolchak, an asshole as the main character, we know he’s a bad actor, comparing him to the monster that he’s chasing, practicing in the mirror at hotels (his true home), the fake human emotions he doesn’t actually feel, a Tim Powers lecture, Dracula as a statement on feminism in the 19th century, the horrors are real int he context of the story, The Turn Of The Screw, the comparison is valid, our position, persuaded by the editor, good instincts, he’s losing it, a fracture in his mind?, taking photos, enough, seeing himself from outside himself, super-powerful stuff, dual personality, Stephen King’s world, the monster is a monster (not just imagination), what Jesse likes: very ambiguous stories about what might just be a madman, The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe, the scene with the mirror, I like your work, Dees as the fall guy, a reset button, the ending of the movie, he’s alive and the vampire’s out there, horrifying stuff, he might deserve it, traumatized for the rest of his life, Julie Entwisle, as cold as he was, a good moment, more powerful ending, Stephen King worked with the film-makers, more time seeing than describing, “STAY AWAY” in blood, a dog, the album, more concrete evidence that he’s a real guy, the graveyard and the tombstone, he’s not creating the story out of whole-cloth he’s spinning it he’s framing it, the National Enquirer, reading this now in the wonderful era of fake news, readers like dogs, the cynicism, it’s right, cynicism is dangerous, cynicism’s etymology, he’s done this, Salem’s Lot, The Strand, a peaceful Dracula, a kind of psychopath, muted feelings, it came out, the wall was broken down, 1408, John Cusack, making stuff up, Frank Muller, we have evil inside of us, deep honesty, he has the model of that, doing it in real life and doing it in fiction, a horrific way of being, that’s what jokes are, if I said very rude about one of you, a joke is a thought, the evil angels inside of us, bad impulses, humanity, princess and happy cartoon creatures, “oh shit, this is what adults think!”, they do fight and they are unfair, the exact same feeling, a revelation, a clown with a balloon doesn’t appeal, anybody who writes a lot, thinking about what other people don’t have to think about, his job is to think hard about real things, why is this phenomenon so pervasive?, what’s behind it, what’s underneath it?, a different kind of truth, undercurrents vs. facts, the insights by the editor and the author, poking at the why, bad boob jobs, alien abductions, not interested in the why, interested in the what, more honest than other kinds of newspapers, at an instinctual or animal level, an indictment of humanity, ratings, Gawker and Peter Thiel, the online equivalent, Inside Edition, Bill O’Rielly, a horror of a human being, Geraldo Rivera, wjhat got Gawker got in trouble for, breaking real news stories, National Enquirer has broken real news stories, unpopular facts, Nightcrawler (2014), the monsters are all human, making a story, the movie was so low budget that the editor’s office doesn’t have a desk it has a dining room table, he’s too short, Jesse forgives The Night Flier (1997) a hell of a lot, crappy little movies that do a lot with what they’re given.
Posted by Jesse Willis
In research for another story I came across a cool podcast along the lines of BBC Radio 4’s The History Of The World In 100 Objects. Except that instead of it being a history of the planet it’s just the history of Kansas. The first epsiode of the KSHS’ Cool Things podcast to strike me (out of my chair, through the floor, and then into a shallow grave in a nearby field) was an episode on “The Bender Knife”. Here’s the setup:
Two men settled a claim near the town of Cherryvale in southeastern Kansas in 1870. John Bender, Sr., and John Bender, Jr., built a one-room timber cabin with a trap door that led to a stone cellar. Once the lodging was complete, the Bender men sent for the rest of the family, a mother and a daughter, both named Kate. The family outfitted the house with furniture and supplies, and hung a canvas curtain to divide it into two rooms. The Benders turned the front half into an inn and grocery store where travelers on the nearby Osage Trail could find rest, supplies, and a warm meal. Ma and Kate planted a garden and small orchard near the house. By all appearances, the Benders were like most area settlers: a family of German descent who came west for a fresh start.
Business at the Bender inn would have been brisk. The southeast corner of Kansas had recently opened to white settlers, and men regularly arrived with money to purchase land and livestock. This available cash made the area a dangerous place to travel. Settlers were easy prey for robbers, and it was not uncommon for people to go missing. No one took note of people looking for their family members. This changed when locals started disappearing.
You can read the full story HERE.
And here’s the Wikipedia entry on the Bloody Benders.
Also check out their “Space Age Stove” episode (featuring a very cool Frigidaire Custom Imperial Flair stove).
Posted by Jesse Willis
At 110 years old The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz (aka The Wizard Of Oz), is one of the few children’s classic novels, that children read, and that WAS a children’s novel from the very beginning. Today a tour through the kids literature section of your local big box bookstore will probably turn up a dozen or so “classic novels” that purport to be ‘kid lit’ of some sort. For publishers what makes them ‘children’s classics’ is that they are public domain and they have recognizable titles. Few were written with actual children in mind, and due to the age many can use an English language that’s so archaic as to be hard for many adults to read. Not so with The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. Sure it’s public domain too, but unlike most it was actually written with children wholly and completely in mind, unlike say, The Call Of The Wild, Frankenstein or Dracula.
In a 1975 essay entitled The American Grimm, comics legend Roy Thomas describes L. Frank Baum as the New World’s successor to “Hans Christian Anderson” and “The Brothers Grimm”. Writes Thomas:
“After trying his, hand at both acting and journalism, Lyman Frank Baum decided to create a unique Americcan fairy tale which did not owe its entire existence and background to the European tradition of goblins, witches, elves and the like. To do this, he set the beginning and ending of his story (which was originally called simply The Emerald City and at one point even From Kansas To Fairyland) in the heart of the American prairie. Of course. he didn’t completely keep out the witches.”
The Free Listens blog rates LibriVox’s audiobook version, as narrated by J. Hall, rather highly! Consider:
“J. Hall narrates the book with a pleasant American accent that would be at home at NPR. This isn’t a professional reading; Hall has several minor stumbles and he doesn’t attempt distinguishing voices for the characters. However, these minor faults can be easily overlooked when one considers the excellent pacing and emphasis with which Hall reads. The recording is free of any background sound, but has a compressed sound when played at higher volumes, perhaps due to noise filtering. All in all, this is a excellent choice if you’re looking for a recording of The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz that comes without silly voices or overacting.”
The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz
By L. Frank Baum; Read by J. Hall
1 |M4B| File, 25 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 3 Hours 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 10, 2007
The timeless story of the Wizard Of Oz. Follow Dorothy as she leaves Kansas for Oz on a cyclone. She meets many strange, and wonderful people and creatures along the way. Enjoy it again with your children and family.
iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|
[via Free Listens]
Posted by Jesse Willis