Get Off Your Swizzleskid and Call Today

8 07 2010

WARNING: This Will Throw Off the Master Schedule By Seven Minutes

Today is the third and final day of “The Great Harlan Ellison Book Purge #3″. There are first-edition Harlan Ellison books, a ton of comics, some screenplays and even some ephemera—all at very reasonable prices. You can also have anything you buy personalized. So act now. There’s only one phone line and one operator (it’s Ellison’s wife, Susan, on a pre-paid cell phone), and the lines are only open (i.e., the pre-paid cell phone is only turned on) for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. I know; awesome, right? Here’s the catalog. The telephone number and hours are listed on page 4.

It is with reserved glee that I can report my success (on my 201st try—for real) in procuring two items that have an insane amount of assigned meaning for me: a 1965 1st printing Pyramid Books paperback of the short story collection Paingod and Other Delusions (Catalog #98), and a “Repent, Harlequin!” poster from the 1986 Harlan Ellison roast, signed by the artist, Frank Miller (Catalog #283).

L: Paingod and Other Delusions (1965); R: Guesstimate of what Frank Miller’s “Repent, Harlequin!” poster (1986) looks like, based on the scant descriptions and single, small image I was able to find online.

Susan was totally cool, by the way.

So I got Paingod because it includes “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman”. If you haven’t read it, then they obviously don’t have the 7th grade on your home planet (or else that was the day you were getting high with the bad-ass cheerleaders in that one lavatory on the third floor that no one ever checked). “Repent, Harlequin!” was the short story responsible for convincing me that the dystopia was the most important of all speculative fiction themes. In fact, this is pretty much my favorite future concept short story of all time, with the possible exception of Steven Vincent Benét’s post-apocalyptic “By the Waters of Babylon“—but they’re kinda apples and oranges, anyway.

Like any dystopian tale worth its stimcredits, Ellison’s has a rebellious protagonist who would rather perish than conform, an urban setting where the caste system has become quite literally vertical, and loads of neologisms. Throw in some candy beans, though, and we’re in seminal territory. Here’s an excerpt, which I hope doesn’t get me deleted:

Jelly beans! Millions and billions of purples and yellows and greens and licorice and grape and raspberry and mint and round and smooth and crunchy outside and soft-mealy inside and sugary and bouncing jouncing tumbling clittering clattering skittering fell on the heads and shoulders and hardhats and carapaces of the Timkin workers, tinkling on the slidewalk and bouncing away and rolling about underfoot and filling the sky on their way down with all the colors of joy and childhood and holidays, coming down in a steady rain, a solid wash, a torrent of color and sweetness out of the sky from above, and entering a universe of sanity and metronomic order with quite-mad coocoo newness. Jelly beans!

Yes, slidewalk (sic[k])! And only, what—five commas, is it? Not to mention the sublime assonance of his “solid wash” bigram, which is so painterly that I want to cry. The bookends are also nice—back in 1965, this device wasn’t cliche yet.

“Repent, Harlequin!” is one of those few short stories I could realistically end up rereading a thousand times before I die. Yeah. It’s a thing.

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Postmodern Gods Combine Forces and Officially Blow My Mind

12 09 2008

If My Previous Two Posts Ever Got Together and Made Babies, One of Them Would Look a Lot Like This

As if “Good Morning” weren’t awesome enough, witness as heterochromic Dropout Bear navigates superflat and futuristic Universe City. Empathize as he gets beat down, and savor his defiance of the crapitalist myth of paper as panacaea. I’m about as huge a Murakami fan as can be imagined, but I still wasn’t prepared for this. It’s cooler than a Louis Vuitton purse.

Vandal eyes.

Universe City’s university has neon signage, and only Murakami could send the capital of a Neoclassic facade into cute overload. Oh, and I’m especially fond of the football-playing gorillas.

You got D’s.

Long live KanYe. It’s hard to find a high-quality version for which the embedding hasn’t been disabled; this one’s not bad, and with any luck it won’t be removed for at least a few hours. Behold: