Short Story: A Christmas Paradox

This is a short story I whipped up too late for Christmas. It features my two favorite robed heroes, Arthur Dent and Ebenezer Scrooge. Enjoy!

A Christmas Paradox

The Xylophone rang out, loud, clear, and piercing on a gray Thursday morning. Arthur Dent gropingly reached for his phone, knocking a glass of water over in the process and waking up in a way he’d rather not. It was hard enough getting used to using a cellular phone as an alarm clock, waking up wet made it that much worse.

Damn Thursdays.

Arthur swore softly to himself and walked to the bathroom to grab a towel. He paused for a moment and smiled at the towel as a pleasant memory crossed his mind. It soon turned to a frown as his pleasant memory was replaced with the real memory; a vast, unending loneliness of traveling though space and time in a quest to find his since destroyed home planet. Earth. Destroyed, blown apart by Vogons. All for an interstellar space highway.

He had eventually returned to earth. Well, some sort of Earth. It was the year 2013 on this earth, thirty-four years since Arthur had fled the Vogon destroyer fleet, and the key difference from Arhutr’s home earth was that this was still here. That was a good sign, Arthur reasoned upon returning home, but that optimism was short lived as Arthur found much to adjust to; cell phones and the internet being the most startling. He understood that they were better for most, but Arthur found it all too complicated and dizzying. He just wanted a cup of tea and the newspaper. And an alarm clock that wasn’t a phone that sounded like a xylophone. A xylarmellphone? Arthur sighed.

Back from the bathroom, Arthur put on his blue pajamas and his green and blue-checkered robe.

“Tea.” He murmured, and made for the door.

He was stopped by the ghost.

*************************************************************************************

“Arthur.” Ford panted. “Arthur!” he called. Doors flew past him like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.  He reached Arthur’s door, which, granted, looked a bit different, but Ford had no time for technicalities such as changing doors. He pounded the door knocker.

“Arthur!”

The door opened. “What!?”

Ford barged in. “The Vogons are back. They were… I don’t know, delayed or something here but they’re back Arthur. Listen, we’ve got to leave again.” He turned to his friend and shrugged. Arthur frowned.

Wait. Arthur?

“Who are you!?” Not-Arthur demanded. Yes, this was definitely not Arthur Dent. Ford was sure of it. Arthur had less ear hair and a smaller nose. Arthur was also about forty years younger. This man wore a permanent scowl and exuded coldness. Ford shivered just looking at him.

“Sorry. Um. Sorry?” Ford offered. He didn’t know what else to say. “You’re not Arthur, right?”

“Who the bloody hell is Arthur? And get out of my house!” the old man said testily.

“Um.” Ford said again. “Excuse me.” He pulled out a square, electronic book. On the cover the words “Don’t Panic” were written in large, friendly letters.

He pushed a button. “Where am I?” he asked the book.

Where am I?” the book repeated thoughtfully. “You are in the home of Mr. Ebeneezer Scrooge in London, England, Earth, in the Earth year 1843. Here are some local eateries and toilets you may enjoy.” A crisp animation brought up a map pointing out nearby toilets and food. A display in the corner showed Ford it was 11:23pm on December 24th. It was cloudy and 21⁰.

The man known as Ebenezer Scrooge scowled at Ford. He wore a rather fancy red dressing gown complete with nightcap. Ford smiled weakly.

“Wrong robed Englishman.” He managed. Scrooge looked at him quizzically and made to give Ford a good verbal thrashing when he spoke to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy again.

“I’ve accidentally time traveled.” He said to it. “Won’t take a moment to resolve.” He said casually to Scrooge.

“Help is on the way, Mr. Prefect.” The Guide said to Ford. He smiled wide at Scrooge.

Scrooge scowled harder.

*************************************************************************************

“Are you quite sure?” The ghost asked again. Arthur sat wearily on his bed.

“I’m quite sure. I may not know much but I know that I am and always have been Arthur Phillip Dent!”

The ghost frowned and looked forlorn. He was rather thin with a cloth tied around his head in the way toothaches were treated many years ago. Arthur didn’t want to know what would happen if the cloth came undone.

“But Ebenezer, you’re wearing your robe like you always do.”

“I’m not Ebenezer. Arthur. A-r-t-h, well you get the point. Now if you don’t mind, please leave. I’d like to make a cup of tea.”

“It’s me!” The ghost urged, desperate that Arthur was this Ebenezer fellow and that he had somehow forgotten him. “Jacob Marley. Surely you remember me Scrooge!”

“Sorry, no. Wait. Scrooge?” Arthur stopped. A thought struck him. “You’re having me on, aren’t you?” He demanded of the ghost. “Ford, is that you? Come on, who are you. Scrooge!? Come on, like the character in the Dickens novel?” The ghost stared blankly at him. He wasn’t a ghost, surely. But he had come through the walls…

“My friend, I am no character from a novel.” The ghost said.

Arthur brandished his phone like a weapon. “Here!” He said, pulling up the internet app on his phone. He searched ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’ in the browser and waited. He smiled at the ghost and waited.

“See!” He said, showing the ghost his phone. The ghost frowned at the device and looked at Arthur blankly. Arthur looked at the screen and his heart sank.

0 results. Did you mean Tweezed and Rouge?

“That’s… that’s impossible.” He murmured. He searched again, this time adding ‘Dickens’ in the search. Nothing.

“Well, at any rate, the ghosts are coming.” Marley said gloomily. Arthur  felt for the ghost and was beginning to feel bad that he was not, in fact, Ebenezer Scrooge which, he reflected, was not all that unfamiliar. He had often felt bad he was not someone other than himself.

“Dickens must not exist on this particular Earth. I wonder what that did to literature?” He said out loud. “Wait, sorry, excuse me, more Ghosts?”

“Yes. They’re on their way.”

“Here!?” Arthur asked.

Marley nodded.

*************************************************************************************

Ford sat awkwardly in Scrooge’s bedchamber. The old man was an expert at staring angrily, Ford decided. He deserved a medal. Or a trophy.

“I’m sure help will be here any moment.” Ford said again. Scrooge simply scowled.

“Good.” The old man said finally. “I want you out of my house.”

A bright light filled the windows. The light crammed Scrooge’s dark bedchamber beyond its capacity for light. It surged forth like an ocean wave, filling Ford like a breath of air.

“This must be it!” He called to Scrooge. The old man was shielding his eyes and muttering angrily to himself.

A white figure floated through the walls and the light dimmed to surround it. Ford saw it was a small child…wait no, an old man, now a child again? Its head resembled the flame of a candle and Ford watched in stunned silence as the face cycled through a myriad of ages.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.” The ghost announced. Ford frowned. Scrooge frowned harder.

“Past!?” Ford screamed.

“What!?” bellowed Scrooge.

“Er.” Said the ghost.

“I need to go to the future.” Ford demanded.

“Ghost? Nonsense!” Scrooge said.

“Let’s see….” The ghost said to itself. “Robe… uncooperative disposition. Yes, this must be the one. I have come, Arthur Dent, to show you your past. I have come to-”

“Did you say Arthur Dent!?” For said, cutting the ghost off.

“For the last bloody time, I am not this Arthur chap!” Scrooge yelled, dismayed that so many people were mistaking him.

The ghost said. “Wonder why I was sent here?”

“To help me!” Ford cried. “But a ghost of the past can’t take me to the future. Right?”

“I must find this Arthur Dent.” The ghost said and began to fade.

“Wait, wait! I need to get to Arthur! But he’s in the future -oh bloody hell.” The ghost had faded.

“Why must you find this Arthur fellow so badly?” Scrooge asked.

“Because, we don’t have much time before the earth is destroyed. Well, I mean, I have lots of time now, sure, but….” He trailed off. Could Ford just stay here? He’d be long dead before the Vogons came. But what about Arthur? They would kill him. Yes, but he was going to die anyway, right? Wasn’t he already dead? Ford had been in 1843 for over an hour, surely the Vogons had come by now in 2013. Or did time work like that? Ford sighed and kneaded his forehead.

“Do you have anything to drink?” he asked.

“Brandy.” Scrooge replied.

“That’s fine.” Ford Prefect said.

*************************************************************************************

“Does this seem familiar, Arthur Dent?” The Ghost of Christmas Past asked, gesturing to the brick building.

Arthur shook his head. “No.”

“Come.” Said the spirit.

Arthur felt a distinct lack of crunching under his slippers as he walked across the snow and into the building. He felt as much a ghost as the ghost before him. The second one today.

“Here. This boy. He is you, no?” The spirit said, floating above a small boy with thin, brown hair.

“No.”

“This is where you went to school.”

Arthur frowned and looked around. “Um. No it isn’t. What year is this?”

“This isn’t you?” The ghost asked.  Arthur shook his head. The scene faded around him into a large, candlelit room. People in Victorian clothing milled around. A band was tuning in the corner.

“And does this seem familiar to you? Look, there is Mr. Fezziwig.” The ghost said, indicating a rotund man with rosy cheeks.

“Listen, as I told the ghost before, you have the wrong person. You are looking for… well apparently the person you’re looking isn’t a character in a novel but a real person and I don’t know where to find him. But still!”

The scene faded around them and a young girl sat crying on a bench.

“You’re one true love?” Said the ghost hopefully. Arthur felt his temper rise.

“No!” he shouted.

“Oh.” The ghost said despondently.

*************************************************************************************

A jolly bought of laugher rang from the other room. Ford put down his Brandy and looked quizzically at Scrooge.

“I believe that is for you.” The old man said.

Ford stood and walked cautiously into the other room. The light seemed to grow around him as he walked though the doorway, encompassing him in a warm glow. The smell of pine and pies filled his nostrils and Ford stopped and smiled.

“Welcome!” came a booming voice. Ford looked up and saw what he perceived to be Christmas in human form laughing raucously. The Spirit was a large man with long hair and a flowing beard. He wore a green robe trimmed with gold and silver. Scrooge wandered in behind him, amazement plastered on his face.

“Come! And know me better man.” The spirit cried. “I am the Ghost of Christmas Present!”

“Damnit!” Fred cursed. The spirit and Scrooge furrowed their brows. “Present? I need to get back to the future!”

“The future? No, I am the Ghost of Christmas Present!” the spirit cried.

“Oh this is a great bloody mess.” Ford moaned.

“It is Christmas Morning! Come, let us see!” said the spirit. The room faded and Ford found himself in the middle of Victorian London. People bustled about, merriment on their faces and a Christmas glow in their hearts.

“Observe!” said the Spirit. He gestured to a group of cold, haggard men and women standing above a pitiful fire.

“I see spirit. And what of these poor souls?” Scrooge inquired.

“They have nothing, and yet they cherish Christmas.”

“Can nothing be done to help them?” Scrooge asked, tugging the Spirit’s robe.

The sprit’s face grew dark. “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses!?”

Silence hung in the air as Scrooge recoiled from the Spirit. The people still moved about them, completely unaware.

Ford waved his arms. “Okay, I feel I may have missed something and that’s fine. Seriously, that is fine. Clearly you two know each other but I would just like to ask if I could please, please get some goddamn help traveling through time!!? Is that SO MUCH TO ASK!?”

Ford breathed heavily and tried to count to ten. He looked up and saw the Spirit had left Scrooge’s side. The old man stared at Ford.

“Okay, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled. Oh there’s no need to look so aghast, I only lost my temper.” Ford shook his head, annoyed with Scrooge; annoyed with the accidental time travel, annoyed with ghosts and with Vogons and with traveling too much. He just wanted a drink. A big drink.

Ford looked to Scrooge, ready to say something else to him when he noticed that Scrooge was not looking at him but behind him. Ford turned.

The shadow grew.

************************************************************************************

Arthur found himself back in his room, sitting on the bed. The strange spirit was gone.

“Good.” He muttered to himself. “Now, for tea.” He opened the door and ran into The Ghost of Christmas Present.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present. You seem to have run into me!” The spirit said jovially.

“Not another one.”

“It is Christmas morning!”

“It’s April!”

“Let us take stock of this wonderful day!”

“It hasn’t been so wonderful for me. Please leave me alone, I’d just like tea.”

“Currently,” the Spirit said, placing his hands on Arthur’s shoulders, “within a four mile radius there are fourteen birds chirping happily outside, eleven people making love, one bubble bath, one hundred cups of coffee, sixteen beers, and one thousand Vogon ships ready to destroy the earth.”

“Eleven? Listen, spirit, as I have told your fellow-wait, Vogons? The Vogons are here?”

“Let us see Bob Cratchit on this fine morning.”

“No no no, wait! Spirit. Did you say Vogons?” Arthur rushed out of his bedroom and through the front door. As he stood on his lawn he saw the all too familiar large, blocky shadows that moved across the ground. Through the clouds, Arthur could see the Vogon fleet poised and ready to destroy.

“Shit.” Arthur said. “Shit shit shit shit shit.” Fourteen birds chirped happily around him.

“Did I mention I am the Ghost of Christmas Present?” the spirit said, appearing in Arthur’s front door.

“Ford.” Arthur breathed.

*************************************************************************************

The shadow grew into a tall, hooded figure. It wore a long black robe and floated slightly above the ground. Skeletal hands hung from long, drawn sleeves. Ford noticed the bony hands had sheen to them; he was reminded of pearls.

“The Ghost of Christmas Yet to come….” Scrooge said under his breath.

“Looks more like Death to me, mate and sorry to say but as the oldest one here, my guess is that he is here for you.”

“No, I know. Spirit, are you here to show us the things that have yet to happen?”

“Wait, yet to happen? Is that like the future? Can you take us to the future!?” Ford asked.

The ghost pointed at Ford and all went black.

*************************************************************************************

Arthur ran inside and grabbed his cell phone, holding down the button on the front panel.

“Call Ford Prefect.” He said.

“Here are some used For Prefects for sale in the area.”

“No. Call. Ford.”

“Here are some  local malls with swords for sale.”

“Bloody hell.” Arthur said, typing his password in the phone and dialing Ford’s phone manually. It rang for what felt like an eternity. No answer. Arthur cursed and tightened his robe. He ran outside and looked plaintively at the sky.

The crackle of a loudspeaker filled the air. “Attention Earthlings. Your planet will now be destroyed in order to make room for an interstellar space highway.”

“Noooooooooooooooooooo!” Arthur yelled at the sky. He felt a presence behind him and turned to see a large, hooded figure with skeletal hands. Arthur closed his eyes and opened them again, wishing the apparition before him was merely a hallucination brought on by stress. It was not.

“Well. That’s it then. The Vogons are here. You’re here. I can put two and two together. I’m dead.”

The figure pointed at Arthur then turned and pointed at the house.

“Arthur!” Ford cried, emerging from the house and rushing past the Ghost of Christmas Yet to come.

“Ford?”

“Arthur The Vogons are here!!” He stopped and glanced up at the sky.

“I know Ford.”

“Oh.” Ford breathed heavily like he had just finished a marathon. Or, more appropriately for Ford, a marathon of drinks followed by galactic women.

“Where am I?” Ebenezer Scrooge said, wandering out of Arthur’s house. “Spirit, is this my future?”

Arthur gave Ford a confused glance.

“Arthur, this is Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.” Arthur exchanged pleasantries with Scrooge, who didn’t notice, and tried not to eye the Spirit.

“What are those things in the sky? Are these the clouds of the future?” Scrooge asked.

“Ford. Can we still escape?”

The Loudspeaker crackled again. “You have ten seconds until destruction ,earth creatures.”

“Nope.” Ford rounded on the ghost. “This is your fault! I you had just come in the first place instead of creepy candle ghost and its bearded friend, I could’ve come back and we wouldn’t be dead!”

Arthur tapped Ford on the shoulder. “Wait you saw those ghosts too? Of course, Ebenezer Scrooge! You know Ford on this Earth, there was no Charles Dickens.”
“That’s’ so uninteresting, Arthur.”

The ghost pointed at Scrooge and pointed at the sky menacingly.

“No! Spirit No!” Scrooge yelled. “I can change Spirit. Please, let not this be our future! Let mankind live for eternity! I will honor and cherish Christmas in my heart! Please, spirit!”

“What the hell is he talking about?” Ford asked. Arthur shrugged.

“I can change! I can chaaaaaaaaaaaaange.” Scrooge moaned. Arthur and Ford braced themselves as the world went black for a moment. It flickered a few times then silence rang in Arthur’s ears. The menacing black shapes in the sky were gone, along with Scrooge.

“What happened?” Arthur said to no one in particular. Ford looked up from his position in ball form on the grass.

“We’re alive? We’re alive! Arthur! Arthur they’re gone! Fuck you Vogons!” Ford ran down the path that lead from Arthur’s house to town, yelling to Arthur to meet him at the pub for a large, well earned pint. Arthur turned to the spirit.

“So, because Scrooge learned the meaning of Christmas, the Vogons left?”

The spirit shrugged and watched the sky as if to say, ‘Bollocks if I know mate, I don’t make the rules.’ He reached into his robe and produced a large, steaming mug of tea.

“Oh, tea!” Arthur said. He took a long sip. “Oh come on that’s good.” He muttered.  The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come gave Arthur a small nod and disappeared, leaving Arthur alone on his lawn.

“Merry Christmas.” He said.

He licked his lips and finished his tea in one gulp. A large pint sounded damn good.

 

Andy Reads Books- February 2013

Back with more books! This month is full of more Moore, so I hope you’re ready.

If I hadn’t mentioned before (I’m positive I haven’t, I’m just being coy. Is it working?) I work in a bookstore. I really love my job. But business isn’t like it used to be. It breaks my heart a little to see books go by the wayside. Despite that, often times customers come in and lift me up a bit. It  warms my heart to see how many people still love a good book. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why someone would want an E-reader or that some people just don’t like books. I just smile when someone tells me they’re reading and that they’re looking forward to their next book.  Since I started at the bookstore and get a nice discount on books, I typically have at least 3 books that I’m reading at one time. I always try to read before bed. It’s something I’ve done since I was in high school. Even earlier most likely. I remember many nights staying up late reading Animorphs in elementary school.

Some of my first late night reading sessions were spent on these fine books…

I suppose I was doomed from the start to a love of Absurdist Fiction. I can’t place the blame entirely on Animorphs though, as I always loved tv and movies that had a bit of magical realism.

Well. Before I get into more books, I thought I’d give you a preview of what’s to come in my Blog posts.

Coming soon to this blog:

Andy Looks At Snow- January 2014

Andy Reads Menus- December 2013

Andy Plays Nintendo 64- December 1997-November 2013

Andy Beats A Robot At Chess, Take That!- June 2035

Now. Onto the books!

Come February I was working on a production of Much Ado About Nothing. As I read and collected my quotes, my castmates often asked why I kept writing in a little book as I read. I think they thought I was pretty weird. But I think they thought that I thought they thought I was a bit weird and tried to hide it. Thanks, friends!

1. Island of the Sequined Love Nun (image from goodreads.com)

We start off with a little Love Nun. This is low on my list of favorite Chris Moore books, which means I still love it quite a bit. Being low on my list of favorite Moore Books is like being low on my list of favorite Scotch. When I gave this a second read however, I found I enjoyed it much more. Our hero is Tucker Case, a handsome Pilot and an enthusiast of both women and drink (who isn’t?) He works for a cosmetics company, akin to Mary Kay, and after a night of too much partying, crashes a plane while having sex.

Yes, you read that right.

So Tuck, out of a job and strapped for cash, accepts an offer to pilot for a Doctor/Missionary in Micronesia. After a perilous journey, Tuck makes it to the island, only to be haunted by the ghost of an American WWII pilot the natives of the island revere as their God. Tuck soon learns that the Missionary Doctor and his attractive wife exploit the native Cargo Cult to harvest organs from the Native people. Oh, and there is a talking fruit bat named Roberto who wears sunglasses.

(This isn’t Roberto, just a hilarious picture of a fruit bat I found) [image from kachingle.com]

The plot of this particular Moore book is a bit complicated. The plot is like moving through a jungle; sometimes there is a clearing with an adorable fruit bat, sometimes it’s tough to navigate exactly what is going on. Like most Moore books, though, the characters are so charming tha they take a machete to the jungle plot. I particularly love Vinny, the ghost who haunts Tuck. He calls everyone a ‘fuckin mook.’ There is a clear villain in the character of the Doctor and his Wife and Tuck makes for a great, albeit reluctant, hero. I’m pleased that I found it so much more enjoyable on the second read.

Here are a few quotes I particularly liked:

“Why had he opened himself up to a future of failure, when he had been failing just fine already?”

“The bat had indeed changed from rhinestone glasses to aviators, but once you accept a talking bat, the leap to a takling bat with an eyewear wardrobe is a short one.”

“Go away. I’m tired and you’re insane.”

2. Fool. (image from chrismoore.com)

This adaptation of King Lear is one of my favorite books. Moore does a fantastic job spinning Shakespeare’s Tragedy on its head and making it very comical.

Our hero is Pocket: King Lear’s fool. After Lear’s daughter Cordelia snubs him, the old man revokes her fortune and gives it to her older sisters. They, in turn, divide the kingdom in half and kick Lear from place to place. He travels all over England and Scotland, Pocket at his side. Along the way, we discover bits of Pocket’s past. We learn that he was abandoned at a convent and raised by nuns. We also learn of his love for Cordelia- and even though she has gone off and married the French Prince Jeff (a ‘poofter’, Pocket remarks), Pocket remains convinced of his love for her.

Along the way, Moore takes bits and pieces from many different Shakespeare plays- including the Witches from Macbeth and a traveling band of actors who have… “been rehearsing a classic from antiquity, Green Eggs and Hamlet, the story of a young prince of Denmark who goes mad, drowns his girlfriend, and in his remorse, forces spoiled breakfast on all whom he meets.” Here is a selection:

“Green eggs, or not green eggs? That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to eat them in a box, with a fox-”

Pocket is haunted by a ghost who speaks in couplets, which annoys him to no end, and is followed faithfully by his apprentice Drool. All the characters from Lear are in the book- Edgar, the Duke of Albany, even Old Man! Like a good Shakespearean comedy, it even has a happy ending.

This book is well worth a read, even if you have no interest in Christopher Moore. Anyone who is a fan of Shakespeare should pick it up. Moore deftly uses the language and it reads somewhere between Shakespeare and a Monty Python sketch. Pocket is by far one of the most enjoyable protagonists of any book I’ve read. Like a true, great Moore hero, he is wisecracking, believes in love, has a great deal of sex, and is unfaltering in his quest to get what he wants, even in his darkest hour. Storm or no storm. If there is one book I cannot recommend enough, it is Fool. It was also great fun to reread while working on Shakespeare.

So many quotes I love, but here are a few.

“I’m relatively certain that (the prince of) France and Burgundy are buggering each other and would never let a princess come between them- although I’ll wager they’d borrow her wardrobe were it not guarded.”

“…that is the story of how St. Rufus of Pipewrench was licked to death by marmots.”

“Can’t a bloke find a straightforward prose apparition?”

” ‘But listen to the children of the night- what music they make.’ ‘Sounds like a moose trying to shit a family of hedgehogs.’ ”

3. Fluke- Or, I Know Why The Winged Whale Sings (image from bookreporter.com)

This was the very first Christopher Moore book I read. Previous to this, my dad had lent me his copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and I absolutely loved it. I’m fairly certain someone lent this to my dad who, in turn, decided if I loved Douglas Adams so much that I should give Mr. Moore a read.

The first part of this book is relatively normal in plot; Nathan Quinn is a marine biologist who has devoted his whole life to studying why the Humpback whale sings. He lives in Hawaii on the island of Maui and spends his time researching. One day, out on the water with his new assistant Amy, he sees a whale Fluke, or throw its tail into the air before it dives. As Nathan snaps a picture, he notices the words ‘Bite Me’ written on the tail.

Before Nate can get the film developed, his lab is destroyed and any evidence of the strange whale is lost. As Nathan searches harder and harder, Part I of the book ends with him swallowed by a whale.

As I made it to this point in the book, I was thoroughly enjoying it. It was a bit weird but the characters were fun and I wanted to find out what was with that whale. I had no idea what was in store for Part II. It would prove to be a great indicator of just how absurd and creative Christopher Moore could be.

After Nate gets swallowed by the Whale, he wakes up to meet the Whaley boys, Aliens who are basically humanoid Whales of different varieties (humpback, orca, dolphin, blue), piloting the Whale. He learns that a small percentage of whales are actually Submarines that pick up people lost at sea and bring them to the underwater city known as the Goo. There, Nate finds Amy again and finds out she was not only raised in the Goo, but is Amelia Earhart’s daughter.  He soon learns that the Goo is alive. Alive and basically God. In the end, Nate does solve the mystery of why whales sing.

Christopher Moore lived in Hawaii for a while it is evident that it inspired him when writing this book. He did quite a bit of research on Whales for the book and the details of Nate’s whale studies are very specific, which makes for a great read. When the little details make sense not only to the reader but to the characters, the book is enriched. This is one of the more sci-fiction style books Moore has written as opposed to his usual blend of absurdism or mythology, but he pulls it off well. Fluke was a very enjoyable reread as well.

Quotes!

“Confessions made over whiskey and campfires were privileged communication. Loyalty.”

“Shoes off in the whale! And don’t try to make a break for the anus.”

“Respectfully sir, you’re a fucking squirrel.”

 

As we move into March on my next blog, we move into more than just Christopher Moore books. That was February, however, and I was quite happy to reread his work.

An Added Bonus!

For anyone who has read Lamb, (check my last post for more info on that) I offer this:

The song “Iscariot’ by Walk the Moon is very interesting if you think of it from Biff’s point of view, it makes for a very interesting interpretation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8ba1CT4GoA

Andy Reads Books- January 2013

Somewhere, there is a line between collecting and hoarding.

If you ask my girlfriend, she’ll say there is no line and that I hoard. If you ask me, I’m merely a collector. I think perhaps the line is made up of the amount of different things one collects? Or, the line consists of whether you hate the thing being collected. I collect books. And CDs. That’s it. I swear. Don’t ask my girlfriend if I collect/hoard anything else. She’ll just lie and say I do.

Because of the fact that I have no intention to stop collecting hoarding books, coupled with the fact that I really, truly, love reading, when 2013 started I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to do: keep a record of my reading for the year. Along with that, I decided to set a goal for myself.

I wanted to read 10,000 pages by the end of the year.

I’m happy to report that I read 13,364 pages in total this year.

I averaged 4 books per month, making it to 48 books by the end of the year, The longest book I read was 474 pages and the shortest book was 100. The oldest book I read was published in 1925, the newest published in 2013. Well, technically one is set to be published later this year, so 2014? I also read no books written by a female author. I point this out only because I believe in examining one’s bias. This is disappointing to me, but not done out of malice or belief that male authors are superior. I have been re-reading two of my favorite authors, both men, and the rest are simply just books I encountered that sounded interesting to me. Reading is a personal hobby of mine. I choose books based on plot or character or recommendation from other authors. I don’t avoid female authors any more than I do third person narratives. Books are for fun, I’d welcome a book written by anyone as long as it sounds engaging. But I am disappointed because I believe there is much out there I missed. Opportunities abound! I must make sure I broaden myself.

Now, having happily accomplished both of my goals, I’m going to share, month by month, all the books that I read. Just a little blurb on each. Before I begin, I’d like to share a bit about my personal taste in literature.

My favorite authors include Christopher Moore, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams. Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Tom Robbins.I prefer fiction with a touch of magical realism, mythology, dark humor, and outlandish situations.

Without further ado;

JANUARY, 2013.

In January, I only read three books. One was a rediscovered love and two were a continuation of my effort to re-read and collect my favorite quotes from Christopher Moore’s works.

1: The Hobbit (image from literarylane.com)

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This particular work and I have a nice history over the past few years. Other than Part I of the Peter Jackson movie that came out in 2012, I was also in a theatrical version of the book in Rochester, NY where I used to live.

I quite liked the movie, but my thoughts on that or anyone else’s personal opinion are best saved for another discussion. To sum up, after seeing the movie I felt the book needed a re-read.

Let’s back up for a moment though. As I mentioned, I had appeared in a play version, and this acting endeavor came before Peter Jackson’s finished product. Why not re-read it then?  After all, I had a blast doing the show, appearing with puppets as the Goblin King, Maxwell (the master of Laketown) and voicing Smaug/ being Smaug’s ass (Tail).

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(photo by Nic Minetor) There is Smaug, you can see my bearded mug in the back there as the tail.

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(photo by Nic Minetor) There I am on the right as Maxwell, pleading with Bard to run. There’s fire Bard! Fire! And a dragon that sounds much like me! Am I the Dragon? AHHHHHH DEATH.

So why not re-read the book before my roles? Why not after the show was over to bask in Tolkien’s glow?

Well, the movie was set to come out and I have a rule with books and movies. If I’ve never read the book, I hate to see the movie before I read it. If it’s something I have read, I wait to see the movie then reread it. It gives me a nice juxtaposition between my vision and the moviemaker’s vision.

In reading the Hobbit again, I found I had forgotten just how much I love the book. It is so very different than The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I love it so much more than Frodo’s adventures. The characters in the Hobbit are more basic, yes, but they are more easily defined. The book really is an adventure, where as LOTR is like a long Shakespearean tragedy. The way Tolkien paces his chapters in the Hobbit is fun. Each chapter is its own story. They all blend together to make one narrative, but each has a climax and a resolution. Nothing is too serious and Bilbo makes for a wonderful main character and traveling companion.

I reread the book using my dad’s old copy (the picture I included is the cover of this version) and the spine of the book was falling off. I both loved and hated that. It added to the old feeling the story brings, but I love my books to be in good shape. They’re my friends! I don’t want my friend’s spines falling off.

I still haven’t seen part two of the movie but I am eager to. After last year though, I feel like the Hobbit really should be something I revisit every year or two. It’s just one of those stories that I will always have a soft spot for.

2. Coyote Blue (image from goodreads.com)

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When I was in High school, my father often gave me reading recommendations. I’ve read some of my favorite books because of him, including The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  and  A Confederacy of Dunces. When I was a junior, he passed along Christopher Moore to me. After reading Fluke, I went to my dad and asked for another. The only other work he had was Coyote Blue, so I took it and dove right in.

The book follows a Crow Indian, Samson Hunts Alone, who, because of an accident involving the possible murder of a cop when he was young, flees his reservation and begins a new life in Santa Barbara as Sam Hunter. He becomes a bigshot insurance salesman with everything he could possibly want. This life is soon interrupted, however, by the appearance of the old Native American trickster god Coyote. Coyote fucks his life up (figuratively and literally, as the god changes from human to canine form and humps both humans and canines alike) but not all for the worst. The book is, at heart, about finding oneself and never forgetting home. It also features one of my favorite Chris Moore characters, a seven foot tall black man named Minty Fresh. The Egyptian God Anubis also makes an appearance.

Written in 1994, the novel is an amazing blend of humor, mythology and heart. What I love about Christopher Moore is that his characters are such humanists. They are always given complicated, otherworldly situations but always find strength within themselves to overcome. In his books, humans are enough. I love that.

A few great quotes to share (remember, I have a book full of them now):

“You can’t just go around blurting out the truth like a prophet with Tourette’s Syndrome.”

“What gods do you know that are logical? Name two.”

“The monk said ‘Life is suffering.’ ‘You need to get laid,’ Coyote said.”

3. Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal (image from wikipedia.com)

Ah yes, Lamb. If I haven’t told you about this book yet, then we haven’t spent enough time together. It’s not my #1 Chris Moore book (I’m partial to Bloodsucking Fiends) but it is one I highly recommend to people. It’s often funny, always insightful and so clever I can’t handle it.

Moore takes aim at filling in the gaps in Jesus’ life that the Bible leaves, namely from the time he was 13 to the time he was 30. He starts, though, at the beginning. Jesus’ best friend Biff plays the narrator, as he was the messiah’s closest friend who, until the time he is revived in 2002, never got a chance to tell his story.

Jesus is referred to by his Hebrew name, Joshua (or Josh for short) throughout the book and his best friend Levi is referred to by the sound being hit on the back of the head so often by his parents makes, Biff. Together they navigate their way through childhood and life as Jews in ancient Israel together. When Josh and Biff are about 6 or so, an angel comes and announces Jesus’ birth as King. Why was he, Raziel the great angel, so late? He got caught up. Raziel plays a large part in the story, usually as a very incompetent clown, but also as Biff’s guardian in 2002 as he writes his Gospel. Everyone else got to, why not Biff?

I won’t give a play by play of every scene in the book, but in a few words (paragraphs? let’s see how this goes) as Josh gets older he needs more and more guidance on being the messiah, seeing as no one is offering much. He and Biff decide to seek out the wisemen that came to visit on the night of his birth. They find one living King Solomon’s old fortress with Chinese concubines and a terrible demon, another in a Monastery in the Himalayan mountains (favorite scene: Josh meets the Yeti) and yet another in India. They study the teachings of the far east, and Josh develops many of his famous philosophies based on these teachings. Oh yeah, there’s a love triangle as well. Biff is in love with Mary Magdaline (Maggie) who is in love with Josh who is not to know the pleasures of the flesh. Upon returning home, Josh and Biff gather disciples and spread the word, ending in- well you know how it ends.

I personally find much of this book to be hilarious, but that’s not why it is so great. Don’t read it to laugh- like all of Moore’s books, read it for the characters. Even the Son of God is a humanist. The way Moore blends eastern schools of thought with the teachings of Josh make for a great philosophical roller coaster. Moore spent three years researching and writing this book, so the places and events (the ones not from his zany noggin at least) are richly detailed.

Tom Knapp of Rambles magazine gets why the book is so worth a read, writing in a review “…if you can believe that Jesus of Nazareth not only had followers, but friends, then you owe it to yourself to enjoy this book. You’ll often find yourself laughing out loud and, if you’re not careful, pondering matters of religion and philosophy as you hurriedly turn the pages to see what happens next.” (Knapp, http://www.rambles.net/moore_lamb02.html)

A few favorite quotes:

“I’m wise enough to know that I don’t know shit.”

“We can’t go home with, ‘Hi, I’m the messiah, God wanted you to have this bacon.’ ”

“Love is not something you think about, it is a state in which you dwell.”

“Blessed are the meek, for to them we shall say ‘attaboy!’ ”

That’s it for January. Next: well I shouldn’t have to tell you, look at a Calendar. Oh, oh next in books? Three more Christopher Moore. More Moore!!

So, it’s a Blog.

Okay then! I suppose an introduction is in order.

Now, you may be thinking; Why should I read another thing on the internet? Particularly a blog? Doesn’t everyone have one of those?

If you are thinking that, then you obviously hate the internet. Just accept it. Then continue reading. Why? Because you’re already here.

My intent is for this to be less of a blog and more like a collection of essays. Think of it as an unpublished book of essays by me, Andy. Perhaps it has a cool title, like ‘The Whale and the Petunias’ or ‘Reflections of a life lived as a small Lithuanian Crossing Guard: Essays by me, Andy.”

Perhaps this is the Author photo on the back page:

(photo by Christopher Bacon)

(photo by Christopher Bacon)

At any rate, I, like many human beings on earth (or perhaps other planets, some Science Fiction authors may have you believe) have many interests. This blog/book of essays on the internet will reflect this.

In short: I have no theme. Just some things to write about.

Perhaps you’ll pick up on my writing influences. (Turn to page 261 for the answers!) [The answers are: Kilgore Trout, that monkey that can do sign language, Eddie Murphy, Eddie Murphy in Doctor Doolittle, and J.M.M Llewellyn.] My hope is that these influence shine through and make my blog/Hardcover #1 NY Times Bestseller Book of Essays a more relatable experience for all.

Oh, and some basics about me. My name is Andy. I live in New York City. I am an Actor.

And so it begins.