Book Log: First week of March
We’ll Always Have Parrots by Donna Andrews,
Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharon McCrumb
Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharon McCrumb
Amanda and I have been to a few Buffy related fan conventions, but we’ve only ever asked “the talent” a question once. Well, once each, one right after the other to James Marsters. It was the Whedonverse and Beyond Convention, Sacramento, CA, summer of 2005. For some reason, we were not escorted forcibly from the building, most likely because in both cases, no one had any idea what the hell we were talking about.
Amanda’s question was in response to James Marsters’ assertion that there was nothing that anyone could ever ask him that would embarrass him…Immediately, my sister’s hand shot up. I knew we were in trouble. Her reluctance to speak in public is only bested by her inability to resist a dare…James Marsters looked her in the eye and pointed at her, “Go on honey, ask me your question.” I might have tackled her, but I had to hear what she’d come up with. Of course, I never expected feltching. It’s like the Spanish Inquisition. No one expects it, but then, SURPRISE! There it is…“What about feltching?” Her voice is slightly more credible then mine, but still in chipmunk register, so it took me a second to realize that Alvin had just gone there. To be fair, it’s a word I might have taught her. I learned it from Sam Porter, who used the word in the receiving room at the music store where we worked and then refused to tell me what it meant, leaving poor rabbijeffty to explain. There might have been diagrams. I’m pretty sure there were sound effects, though it was certainly me who made them, since Jeffers is much too dignified for such a thing. I’ve got nothing against feltching, just to clarify. It’s not my cup of er…tea so to speak, but I would never begrudge others. However, in the context of where we were at the time, it seemed a bit specialized. “I’m sorry darlin’, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that one before.” Says Marsters. To myself, I thought, yeah right! But then again, he is from Modesto originally, so maybe…I turn to look at Lenny Bruce sitting next to me, and notice she looks like a pomegranate with pony tails. Oh great. Now she’s embarrassed. “Tell me what it means.” James demands. In a barely audible cough, Amanda splutters, “Nevermind!” Too late. Marsters is off the stage and leaning across me for Amanda to whisper the definition in his ear. It’s a proud moment for a big sister. I was surprised how long it seemed to take her to explain. There were some vague hand gestures and if possible, she turned a bit more red. JM chuckled and into the mike said: “Well, I think that when two people love each other, anything goes and there’s nothing to be ashamed about.” Sure, for him, but I was now officially +1 with “The Feltcher” for the rest of the con.
Of course, you would assume that any rational human would have learned from the example of her sister, but apparently Keiser’s aren’t happy until the last of the line has gone down with the ship. So barely was JM back on stage, when he turned around to find “Friend of Feltcher” with raised hand and determined glare. He probably assumed it was a follow up debauchery, but it was far less whimsical. I was still steaming from earlier in the evening, when JM’s musical stylings included a “blues” song about Robert Johnson walking off hand in hand with Jesus at the crossroads instead of Satan. Since Amanda had boldly gone, I figured I should too. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus is an automatic must have crush for any self-respecting ex-Catholic school girl, especially one from San Francisco. A hot, semi-dirty hippie into love and forgiveness, what’s not to like, but I also take Satan very seriously. Milton gave him all the good lines for a reason. To give Mr. Marsters’ credit, he dove right back into things and pointed to me, no doubt expecting a question about the Plushies lifestyle or high-colonics. “Regarding your song about Robert Johnson’s crossroads mythos, don’t you think reducing the story to an invention of the “white devil” is to ignore the possibility that it is an original African-American fable with Faustian elements that attempts to describe the symbolic demonic pact that artists make by becoming ‘creators’ in defiance of 'God' as the sole creator?” The look on his face indicated he was longing for the days of feltching, so he said, “Well, you may have a point there. But Jesus is a cool cat and I’m sure that Robert Johnson is with him right now.” The next questions were about his favorite color and whether or not he’d ever play Hamlet. For the Keiser’s he came up as a draw. I’d still do Spike though.
But what you are asking yourself does any of this have to do with We’ll Always Have Parrots by Donna Andrews, Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharon McCrumb & Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharon McCrumb. Well, they all deal with sci-fi fandom! I can’t resist a good pun (or a bad one for that matter) so when I spotted the bright blue spine with white letters and a tiny African parrot announcing We’ll Always Have Parrots by Donna Andrews, I could not leave Green Apple without it. Upon further inspection I discovered that it was a murder mystery set at a sci-fi con which sealed the deal. The book is relatively fun, brisk and contains copious monkeys and parrots, so that’s a bit of alright. The book is set at a convention to celebrate a fictional tv show called “Porfiria-Queen of the Jungle.” Donna’s a bit hard on fans (though as you’ve seen, they can be unpredictable), but a bigger issue for me is that the solution to the mystery is one of those last minute, unforeseeable character reveals that seem sort of like a cop-out. The main effect of Andrews’ book was to make me want to re-read: Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharon McCrumb. I still like Bimbos (and bimbos), but it was one of those books that seemed funnier in retrospect, like Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. When I reread Bimbos it just wasn’t the same as the first time. I’d never read Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharon McCrumb which is the follow up to Bimbos so I threw that one in there too. It had some very interesting facts about the origins of sci-fi fandom, but all three of these made me long for actual sci-fi instead of mysteries set against sci-fi backdrops. (On a total other side note, if anyone is still reading this blather, Tom Sharpe is an author whose books I always remember as being unbearably funny, and the several of them that I’ve read multiple times Wilt, Riotous Assembly, etc. really do hold up and I strongly recommend them.)
Book Log: Second week of March
Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest
I’ll try to be brief(er). An abandoned sanatorium, three ghostly women, a raving religious assassin, voodoo…good times. I can’t remember exactly why I picked this one up, I seem to remember there being some LiveJournal connection. I found the book to be rich in detail and plenty creepy. The slightly confusing familial relationships and twisty plot aren’t distracting enough to take away from the lovely spooky writing, and are actually what I expect from a Southern Gothic.