Poetry Corner – The (Other) Raven

RAVEN, from the dim dominions 
    On the Night's Plutonian shore, 
Oft I hear thy dusky pinions 
    Wave and flutter round my door- 
See the shadow of the pinions 
    Float along the moon-lit floor; 

Often, from the oak-woods glooming 
    Round some dim ancestral tower, 
In the lurid distance looming- 
    Some high solitary tower- 
I can hear thy storm-cry booming 
    Through the lonely midnight hour. 

When the moon is at the zenith, 
    Thou dost haunt the moated hall, 
Where the marish flower greeneth 
    O'er the waters, like a pall- 
where the House of Usher leaneth, 
    Darly nooding to its fall: 

There I see thee, dimly gliding,- 
    See thy black plumes waving slow,- 
In its hollow casements hiding, 
    When there shadow yawns below, 
To the sullen tarn confiding 
    The dark secrets of their woe:- 

See thee, when the stars are burning 
    In their cressets, silver clear,- 
When Ligeia's spirit yearning 
    For the earth-life, wanders near,- 
When Morella's soul returning, 
    Weirdly whispers "I am here." 

Once, within a realm enchanted, 
    On a far isle of the seas, 
By unearthly visions haunted, 
    By unearthly melodies, 
Where the evening sunlight slanted 
    Golden through the garden trees,- 

Where the dreamy moonlight dozes, 
    Where the early violets dwell, 
Listening to the silver closes 
    Of a lyric loved too well, 
Suddenly, among the roses, 
    Like a cloud, thy shadow fell. 

Once, where Ulalume lies sleeping, 
    Hard by Auber's haunted mere, 
With the ghouls a vigil keeping, 
    On that night of all the year, 
Came thy sounding pinions, sweeping 
    Through the leafless woods of Weir! 

Oft, with Proserpine I wander 
    On the Night's Plutonian shore, 
Hoping, fearing, while I ponder 
    On thy loved and lost Lenore- 
On the demon doubts that sunder 
    Soul from soul for evermore; 

Trusting, though with sorrow laden, 
    That when life's dark dream is o'er, 
By whatever name the maiden 
    Lives within thy mystic lore, 
Eiros, in that distant Aidenn, 
    Shall his Charmion meet once more.

- Sarah Helen Whitman, something of an interesting character in and of herself.

Frazetta Friday: Fire Women

Poetry Corner – The Gates of Damascus

    FOUR great gates has the city of Damascus
       And four Great Wardens, on their spears reclining,
    All day long stand like tall stone men
       And sleep on the towers when the moon is shining.

This is the song of the East Gate Warden 
When he locks the great gate and smokes in his garden. 

Postern of Fate, the Desert Gate, Disaster's Cavern, Fort of Fear, 
The Portal of Bagdad am I, and Doorway of Diarbekir. 

The Persian Dawn with new desires may net the flushing mountain spires: 
But my gaunt buttress still rejects the suppliance of those mellow fires. 

Pass not beneath, O Caravan, or pass not singing. Have you heard 
That silence where the birds are dead yet something pipeth like a bird? 

Pass not beneath! Men say there blows in stony deserts still a rose 
But with no scarlet to her leaf--and from whose heart no perfume flows. 

Wilt thou bloom red where she buds pale, thy sister rose? Wilt thou not fail 
When noonday flashes like a flail? Leave nightingale the caravan! 

Pass then, pass all! "Bagdad!" ye cry, and down the billows of blue sky 
Ye beat the bell that beats to hell, and who shall thrust you back? Not I. 

The Sun who flashes through the head and paints the shadows green and red,-- 
The Sun shall eat thy fleshless dead, O Caravan, O Caravan! 

And one who licks his lips for thirst with fevered eyes shall face in fear 
The palms that wave, the streams that burst, his last mirage, O Caravan! 

And one--the bird-voiced Singing-man--shall fall behind thee, Caravan! 
And God shall meet him in the night, and he shall sing as best he can. 

And one the Bedouin shall slay, and one, sand-stricken on the way 
Go dark and blind; and one shall say--"How lonely is the Caravan!" 

Pass out beneath, O Caravan, Doom's Caravan, Death's Caravan! 
I had not told ye, fools, so much, save that I heard your Singing-man. 

This was sung by the West Gate's keeper 
When heaven's hollow dome grew deeper. 

I am the gate toward the sea: O sailor men, pass out from me! 
I hear you high in Lebanon, singing the marvels of the sea. 

The dragon-green, the luminous, the dark, the serpent-haunted sea, 
The snow-besprinkled wine of earth, the white-and-blue-flower foaming sea. 

Beyond the sea are towns with towers, carved with lions and lily flowers, 
And not a soul in all those lonely streets to while away the hours. 

Beyond the towns, an isle where, bound, a naked giant bites the ground: 
The shadow of a monstrous wing looms on his back: and still no sound. 

Beyond the isle a rock that screams like madmen shouting in their dreams, 
From whose dark issues night and day blood crashes in a thousand streams. 

Beyond the rock is Restful Bay, where no wind breathes or ripple stirs, 
And there on Roman ships, they say, stand rows of metal mariners. 

Beyond the bay in utmost West old Solomon the Jewish King 
Sits with his beard upon his breast, and grips and guards his magic ring: 

And when that ring is stolen, he will rise in outraged majesty, 
And take the World upon his back, and fling the World beyond the sea. 

This is the song of the North Gate's master, 
Who singeth fast, but drinketh faster. 

I am the gay Aleppo Gate: a dawn, a dawn and thou art there: 
Eat not thy heart with fear and care, O brother of the beast we hate! 

Thou hast not many miles to tread, nor other foes than fleas to dread; 
Homs shall behold thy morning meal and Hama see thee safe in bed. 

Take to Aleppo filigrane, and take them paste of apricots, 
And coffee tables botched with pearl, and little beaten brassware pots: 

And thou shalt sell thy wares for thrice the Damascene retailers' price, 
And buy a fat Armenian slave who smelleth odorous and nice. 

Some men of noble stock were made: some glory in the murder-blade; 
Some praise a Science or an Art, but I like honorable Trade! 

Sell them the rotten, buy the ripe! Their heads are weak; their pockets burn. 
Aleppo men are mighty fools. Salaam Aleikum! Safe return! 

This is the song of the South Gate Holder, 
A silver man, but his song is older. 

I am the Gate that fears no fall: the Mihrab of Damascus wall, 
The bridge of booming Sinai: the Arch of Allah all in all. 

O spiritual pilgrim rise: the night has grown her single horn: 
The voices of the souls unborn are half adream with Paradise. 

To Meccah thou hast turned in prayer with aching heart and eyes that burn: 
Ah Hajji, wither wilt thou turn when thou art there, when thou art there? 

God be thy guide from camp to camp: God be thy shade from well to well; 
God grant beneath the desert stars thou hear the Prophet's camel bell. 

And God shall make thy body pure, and give thee knowlede to endure 
This ghost-life's piercing phantom-pain, and bring thee out to Life again. 

And God shall make thy soul a Glass where eighteen thousand Æons pass. 
And thou shalt see the gleaming Worlds as men see dew upon the grass. 

And sons of Islam, it may be that thou shalt learn at journey's end 
Who walks thy garden eve on eve, and bows his head, and calls thee Friend.

- James Elroy Flecker

Ride Lonesome (1959) – Movies With My Mother (repost review)

“He’s a bounty hunter?–I got no use for bounty hunters. He’s like a mercenary!”

“What are all these other saddles?”

“What! What is he doing!?”
“He’s dead.”

“But Indians don’t come out at night.”
“They should leave now!”
“No, if they leave now, the Indians will get them when they’re out in the open at night.”
“But Indians don’t come out at night! Or is it in the day that Indians don’t come out…”
“They can’t leave now.”
“Why not?”

“Who’s he? This guy.”
“That’s James Coburn.”
“What! He! He is very young! What is he in the movie?”
“He’s the dumb sidekick.”
“….he was very young.”

“Why is this fool going out at night! There could be Indians! Yes! It could be them making that noise and you can’t tell! They do, you know!”

“Still, she could have held it together.”

“Who are they? Mescaleros again? They don’t want to talk this time?…they might not even give a horse this time.”

“Ooof, that guy looked like the horse came down on him.”

“They went away? Too many of them dead?”

“To get a what?”
“A woman.”
“No, he said something else. To–”
“Get a woman.”
“No, he said something else before that.”
“To get his hands on a woman.”
“There no Indian women?”
“She’s blonde.”
“If there was dye, back then, people could dye their hair!”

“Why don’t they build a fire?”
“They could build a smokeless fire.” [The Mother of Skaith has also read her Louis L’Amour.]

“Amnesty? They had amnesty for killers?…haha, maybe he got the wrong word it’s some other word.”

“What’s with the feather in his hat? What kind of foolishness is this? Is this to tell us something about his character? I’ve never seen anybody like that. Psssht!”

“What! If the leg is broken, I thought you can’t do nothing for the horse!”
“It’s not broken, it’s just hurt. He doesn’t want to stand up, because it’s hurt, so he just wants to lie there and he thinks he’s dying.”

“Maybe they just need to rub the leg. And put comfrey on it.”
“They don’t have comfrey, Mom.”
“They can find comfrey!”

“What’s he doing? He’s fixing to do something. What’s he doing?”
“He’s moving to go get that gun over there.”
“Oh. Why?”

“He should not have done that! Even if he lied, he should not have proven that he lied! Now no one will believe him, even when he’s not talking about guns! What did he prove!?”
“Billy is a coward, though. That’s why it worked.”
“It doesn’t matter that the boy is a coward! You should not lie to him!”

“That’s Lee van Cleef!”

“What’s she doing?”
“She’s doing her hair.”

“What’s that?”
“A tree.”
“Yes, but what–oh, it’s a hanging tree? What is the point of a hanging tree? I didn’t hear what he just said, what did he say?”
“He said, Brigade used to hang people from it.”

Shoot ‘im!”

“There are very few platinum blondes like her, you know.”
“Probably not natural.”
“That’s what I said, they’re rare.”

“So he gon’ tell her, fool, and she’s gon’ tell him! Not very bright!”

“…Oh, you mean she’s not a natural blonde. Probably.”

“Why would he hang her!”
“He was young and getting revenge.”
“But why would he hang the man’s wife! That’s not revenge, she’s not the man!”
“He wanted to hurt him, that’s why he went after her.”
“But he didn’t need to do that!”
“But he did it because he was bad.”
“Oh, he is a bad man.”
“Yes, Mom.”

“Is he joshing him?”
“He’s gon’ make him a partner and he’s a half-wit?”
“He’s a good guy!”
“–and a half-wit!”

“Does Coburn get killed?”
“Oh. I’d be sorry to have that.”

“Is that a threat? Not a threat…a…what’d you call that?”

“What are they looking at?”
“What is the smoke for?”

“Oh, he’s burning the tree? Why?”

“See, I told you it was a good movie!”
“And you didn’t even want to watch it!”
“It was five out of ten.”
“You are mistaken, it was nine out of ten.”

Poetry Corner – Recompense

I have not heard lutes beckon me, nor the brazen bugles call,
But once in the dim of a haunted lea I heard the silence fall.
I have not heard the regal drum, nor seen the flags unfurled,
But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world.

I have not seen the horsemen fall before the hurtling host,
But I have paced a silent hall where each step waked a ghost.
I have not kissed the tiger-feet of a strange-eyed golden god,
But I have walked a city's street where no man else had trod.

I have not raised the canopies that shelter revelling kings,
But I have fled from crimson eyes and black unearthly wings.
I have not knelt outside the door to kiss a pallid queen,
But I have seen a ghostly shore that no man else has seen.

I have not seen the standards sweep from keep and castle wall,
But I have seen a woman leap from a dragon's crimson stall,
And I have heard strange surges boom that no man heard before,
And seen a strange black city loom on a mystic night-black shore.

And I have felt the sudden blow of a nameless wind's cold breath,
And watched the grisly pilgrims go that walk the roads of Death,
And I have seen black valleys gape, abysses in the gloom,
And I have fought the deathless Ape that guards the Doors of Doom.

I have not seen the face of Pan, nor mocked the Dryad's haste,
But I have trailed a dark-eyed Man across a windy waste.
I have not died as men may die, nor sin as men have sinned,
But I have reached a misty sky upon a granite wind.

- Robert E. Howard

This misses out being my favorite Howard piece because, evocative and strong as it is, but it ends weak without pulling the strands together. Who speaks? Where–beyond the realms of imagination–is he? I, too, wish to know of the road to this far, fantastic place…

Poetry Corner – Bugle Song

The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, 
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying. dying, dying.

O, hark, O, hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O, sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river;
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (part 2) – just the good stuff

So…I’m not exactly sure where the switch flipped, but somewhere along the line, I stopped watching this movie to critique and review it and just started watching to enjoy it. Here’s my review: It’s…it’s quite good, actually.

Now, I don’t know how well it will hold up to repeat viewings. I agree that it has its flaws and excesses. It had moments that fell flat or didn’t really hold up.

But overall and I think the thing that redeems it, is that: Zack Snyder aimed for greatness with this movie. He wanted this to be an epic, yet meaningful story. He wanted this to be a story about larger-than-life heroes fighting a larger-than-life foe for the highest of stakes against a backdrop of the world in chaos. And if anyone had suggested 1,000 elephants to him, he’d have put them in, too.

The thing about aiming for greatness, is that sometimes you’ll hit it.

Plus, there are lots of little bitty moments that just work, like Diana shooting Barry Allen a tiny, reassuring smile (whilst obviously worried about the Bruce/Cyborg situation currently going down); or Cyborg’s mental image of the stock market manipulations being a bull and bear fighting. Or AquaMomoa angrily pointing at Flash after the latter has knocked them both to the ground. At super speed.

And, the fights in this one are a lot more epic. Like, a lot more. And it’s really awesome. Like, by the time all the heroes + Superman are done whaling on Spikywolf you feel kind of sorry for the guy. And something I never thought possible became possible: Soyboy Flash manages to have a scene where he is serious and commits to it, is heroic and goes beyond his limits–and it is touching and meaningful and it’s properly set up and builds on what came before and as the action climax of the movie, it’s marvelous.

Are the four epilogues completely unnecessary and even counterproductive? Yeah. Turn the movie off after Flash visits his dad in jail. Are there jarringly unnecessary and aggravating salutes to the holy flag of political correctness? Yes, but only a couple. You can hard-reset your brain back to enjoy mode by smacking it against a wall or something. I only needed to do that twice and I enjoyed the whole rest of the movie!

Or maybe I was watching the microwave. Anyhow.

Rated: I watched it. I quite liked it.

Son of the Black Sword – Larry Correia – Book Review

sons-of-the-dark-sword-send-to-larry-c.-2Son of the Black Sword is Book 1 of the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior trilo…oh wait no people actually like this so let’s make it a five…wait are they still buying it? What, after book 3 didn’t wrap everything up? Multi-part series instead.

I complain, but it’s in good humor. This series showcases Correia’s strongest writing, because it plays to his strengths: exciting combat scenes; honorable men; fight scenes; violent men; battle scenes; emotionless but charismatic men; chase scenes; beautiful women, and you may have gotten the gist at this point: he writes fight scenes really, really well. There’s a one-vs-many fight at the end of this book that is just a work of art. What’s more, this book avoids his weaknesses: self-insert characters, silly humor, and bashing of political opponents in juvenilely amusing ways.

It’s a damn good book. Fight scenes with a purpose are exciting, charismatic protagonists with inner depths and meaningful journeys are memorable and enjoyable, and beautiful women who have personalities, motivations, and effect on the plot, are good characters regardless of what they’re wearing. Son of the Black Sword has all of those. (Note: with the exception of a ditzy librarian who tries using a romance novel as a how-to spy manual, all female characters are dressed quite appropriately for their circumstances.)

As mentioned, SoTBS was originally #1 of 3 books, before Trilogy Creep Syndrome set in. I hope the story doesn’t get stretched out too far, because I want to find out how it ends, damn it! There is the distinct impression that the story Correia is telling is going to be epic enough to withstand the expansion, but…I really like this story. What is the story?


20-year veteran, Senior Protector Ashok Vadal is one of if not the most dangerous men on Lok. Not only is he a scion of the powerful and respected Vadal House, a Protector gifted with superhuman abilities, not only trained to the peak of physical ability and combat skill, not only above the law and tasked with enforcing it as the most famous member of an order of right hard bastards–Ashok is also the wielder of the mighty ancestor blade Angruvadal. Ancestor blades, made of the mysterious black steel, can cut through steel and demon hide, cleave all four legs off a galloping horse, and, moreover contain the memories and instincts of every warrior who has borne them previously and can guide the muscles and mind of its present wielder to victory….or can savagely punish the unworthy who dare set hand on it.

Ashok was judged worthy as a small child and has lived his life in the Protector Order ever since. How could a man who never lies, who never feels fear, who is wholly devoted to the Law, be unworthy? And why could his mentor, the man whom he trusted and loved as more than his own father, tell him that his life is a shameful falsehood, a disgraceful lie.

Ashok is given a choice: become Lord Protector, head of the Order and continue to live a life of fame, valor, and value…or open a letter that will reveal his past to him and reveal the truth.

Ashok chooses honesty. (Ashok, it transpires, didn’t have a choice).

The disgraceful secret the Protectors have kept for twenty years? Ashok isn’t a man. Ashok isn’t even a human being. Far from being son of the First Caste, the rulers, movers, and shakers…he is actually a casteless. Legally, less than the tools used to till the fields; practically, of less value than the animals used to pull the plow. Although Angruvadal chose him, the utter shame of the choice meant that House Vadal had his mind magically wiped to remove all memory of his casteless origins, deep compulsions implanted in him–rendering him literally fearless and utterly devoted to the law–and he was sent to the Protectors as a mere child in hopes that he would soon die. Oh, and his mother was murdered as part of the cover-up.

Ashok, after delivering a fairly gory reckoning to the people who have committed this injustice and this sin, checks himself into the nearest prison to await trial and sentencing. (Remember what we said about devoted to the Law? Ashok walks the walk…not only because he’s been brainwashed for his entire life.)

Unfortunately, what Ashok gets instead of justice is Omand, the Chief Inquisitor. Omand is seriously bad news. For one, he’s planning a genocide against the casteless…as a stepping stone to whatever his evil plan actually is. Step 1 involves creating a reason for his genocide to continue. Step 2 is ordering Ashok to join with the casteless rebellion and make it into enough of a threat to justify continent-wide genocide.

The implication is that Omand is going to get a horrible surprise about just how clever he isn’t a book or two down the road.

Ashok obediently escapes from prison to find and join the rebellion. He finds–or is found–by Keta, Keeper of Names, and his hostile bodyguard Thera. They have been sent to judge his worthiness before he can be allowed into their ranks, or to meet the mysterious Prophet whom the rebels have rallied about–the Prophet who speaks with the voice of a Forgotten god and testifies that blood, seas and messes of it, are incoming…

But that’s not really a prophecy so much as an accurate observation, really.

And anyhow, yeah. I’m out of time and I need to put some content up that isn’t cat pictures.

Rated: It’s really good. Get it and read it and then tell all your friends.

Poetry Corner – Always Comes Evening

 Riding down the road at evening with the stars or steed and shoon
 I have heard an old man singing underneath a copper moon;
 "God, who gemmed with topaz twilights, opal portals of the day,
 "On our amaranthine mountains, why make human souls of clay?
 "For I rode the moon-mare's horses in the glory of my youth,
 "Wrestled with the hills at sunset-- till I met brass-tinctured Truth.
 "Till I saw the temples topple, till I saw the idols reel,
 "Till my brain had turned to iron, and my heart had turned to steel.
 "Satan, Satan, brother Satan, fill my soul with frozen fire;
 "Feed with hearts of rose-white women ashes of my dead desire.
 "For my road runs out in thistles and my dreams have turned to dust.
 "And my pinions fade and falter to the raven wings of rust.
 "Truth has smitten me with arrows and her hand is in my hair--
 "Youth, she hides in yonder mountains -- go and see her, if you
 "Work your magic, brother Satan, fill my brain with fiery spells.
 "Satan, Satan, brother Satan, have known your fiercest Hells."
 Riding down the road at evening when the wind was on the sea,
 I have heard an old man singing, and he sang most drearily
 Strange to hear, when dark lakes shimmer to the wailing of the loon,
 Amethystine Homer singing under evening's copper moon. 
- Robert E. Howard


hank_icon_no_logo3-scaled-e1602884287144BEGIN TRANSMISSION


ADAPTED AND DIRECTED BY JEFF NICHOLS AND STARRING THE VOICE OF MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY incidentally there is an audio trailer at the link and he does a really good job sounding like a dumbass farm dog who thinks he’s badass but he’s a good boy to the bone really