No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
Well if that’s not an opening paragraph that makes you want to read the rest of the novel, I don’t know what is. Published in 1959 by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House is widely regarded as one of the finest horror novels, and, in my opinion, rightly so. Continue reading →
Any list of recommendations for Hallowe’en reading would seem incomplete without an entry from Stephen King. I’ll forego some of the more obvious choices from among his novels though, and instead choose one of his shorter short stories: “Gramma.”
The premise is very simple: 10-year old George Bruckner lives with his 14-year old brother Buddy and their single mother Ruth. Staying with them is Ruth’s ancient, senile, bedridden grandmother. When Buddy breaks his leg playing baseball, Ruth goes to the hospital out of town to see him, leaving George alone to look after Gramma. Continue reading →
I love Hallowe’en, always have since I was a child. I loved the sense that the barrier between our reality and a mysterious, dangerous plane of existence might be opened for one night a year, and anything could happen. It was terrifying and exciting at the same time. And though now I don’t believe in the supernatural, I still love horror films and stories. So between now and Hallowe’en, I’ll share my thoughts on some of my favourite horror fiction.
I’ll start with House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000). Continue reading →
Yesterday evening at about 6.30PM I had a moment of panic. I realised that in my rush to leave, I hadn’t read over my post and italicised all the words I should have. I couldn’t go back, and wasn’t in a situation to do it on my phone. It would just have to stay in that condition for a few hours, which aggravated me. Letting something unfinished like that out into the world seemed so sloppy.
What needed to be changed? Not much really, just two or three cases where I was referring to words, and not using them, and wanted to italicise them to make that clear. For example: “I’ve been trying to use the word application…” instead of “I’ve been trying to use the word application…”
A minor change, really, and most of my stress was due to my being a stickler for detail. Because, the post was probably quite comprehensible without my revisions (which of course I still made last night). Putting the word before application made what I wanted to say clear enough. Given also the topic of the blog and the specific context of the post itself, there was probably little ambiguity in the post. And it’s great that language can make things so clear for us, do so much of the heavy lifting of comprehensibility with words alone. But still, I’m drawn to being precise as I can in my use of language, just to be sure… Continue reading →
I don’t need to tell you that one or two people have been playing and talking about Pokémon Go recently. Today, as it’s released here in Ireland, I came across a discussion online about whether people were going to play it (apparently my poor old phone isn’t sufficiently advanced enough to handle it, so I won’t be playing any time soon). What didn’t surprise me was that so many people were saying that they couldn’t believe that adults would play it, and that they themselves were far too mature for such childish pursuits.
I can understand they might feel like that based on the cartoonish trappings of the Pokémon games. But I also think it’s because they are just that: games. Or it’s because they’re called games. Modern videogames are much more technically sophisticated compared to the ones I grew up in, and there are a huge variety of them: from simple games for children to repetitive annual blockbusters, to small, mature adult-oriented indie games.
To me, they’re just as legitimate as other forms of entertainment, and yet people will always see them as childish pursuits simply because of the game part of videogame. Continue reading →
—Have you seen the new Monkey Planet film?
—Monkey Planet! You know the ones with the talking monkeys. That guy’s in this one, what’s his name, James Franco. It’s pretty good.
—Yeah, you know the first one, it’s from the 60s, with the astronauts and they crash land on a planet with talking monkeys!
—Are you ok?
—Monkey Planet, it’s a classic, how do you not know it!
—You’re talking nonsense, I’m leaving!
—Monkey Planet!! Ah, putain, attend, en anglais c’est Planet of the Apes!
Monkey Planet. Beneath the Monkey Planet. Escape from the Monkey Planet. Conquest of the Monkey Planet. Battle for the Monkey Planet. Tim Burton’s ill-advised Monkey Planet remake. Rise of the Monkey Planet. Dawn of the Monkey Planet. Untitled Monkey Planet Sequel.
How many of these films would you like to see (Battle for the Monkey Planet sounds like it could be good fun to be honest)?
They might all sound like fun, but aren’t they lacking the grativas of the title Planet of the Apes? It’s a good thing that the film’s producers went with that title then. But that wasn’t always the case… Continue reading →