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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This Blog Needs More Orange

13 02 2010

I Know Just the Thing

Pauly D uploaded another picture of himself on Guys with iPhones. More than a few not-quite-household names have been self-commodifying on that shallow, filthy site of late. A recent Gawker article speculates on this gay-for-display phenomenon, so I won’t launch into any theories here. But yes, I do think that the placement of his pics on GWIP is as cold and calculated as the stony stare in the picture itself, and in this case no, I don’t think that Pauly D is the one doing the calculating.

I love the design of this website but hate that this website exists.

3 Things I Really Like About Pauly D

  1. Despite (or perhaps in part because of) the narcissism and the posturing, he oozes hypermasculinity. I realize a lot of that’s the pecs and the guns—but it’s also, for some reason, the idiolect. I loves me a good old-fashioned colossal ego, especially when it’s often-voiced. It’s like watching a cartoon.
  2. The bulletproof blowout (may or may not be an extension of #1). Oh, like you’re not stuck at one place in time with something? His hairstyle is a talking point that detractors revisit time and time again, but I’d be surprised if he ditched it. It’s become a part of his brand. Personally, I think excessive product is hot in guys’ hair. Pauly D’s blowout is amazing.
  3. His motorcycle’s wheels have spinners. Enough said.

Precedent. Oh, did you think there was none?

3 Things I Find Regrettable About Pauly D

  1. The excessive grooming and preening. The orange tan I don’t mind at all because his hair, eyes and complexion are all dark enough for him to get away with it. But unless they’re so hirsute that their eyebrows connect over the nose, dudes should not tweeze. At all. You can always tell, and it makes them seem girly.
  2. The Cadillac tattoo. Does Cadillac own him? Are they afraid he’ll get cattle-rustled and re-sold to another ranch, like the Lazy Kia or the Double Hyundai? If we’re going to be totally honest (and we are), getting a reality television personality to tattoo a brand logo on their body in exchange for a large check would probably net somebody a promotion. It would also be less disturbing than somebody voluntarily wearing an enormous car logo on their skin forever. I think tattoos of any kind betray an incredible insecurity, but this one is particularly egregious.
  3. In one of  the back-to-back series premiere episodes—I think it was the second of the two—he casually mused on the fact that it “only takes nine pounds of pressure to break a nose”. I mean, testosterone is hot and all, but I don’t care to have people who keep track of things like that anywhere near me.

Everything is connected to everything else.