Friday, 28 September 2012

Reviews Of Books I Have Read

Contusions & Confusions by Lipsy Narvin
Just looking at this image of the author, one immediately knows they're in for some great humour. With a twinkle in his myopic eyes and a chin that quivers like jellied calf's liver after each hefty guffaw, Lipsy Narvin is a delight and national treasure, both at parties and on the literary scene. "Hurrah, Lipsy's here," is the most common refrain when he walks into a room and "Aww, Lipsy's gone," can be heard from the saddened gathering when he leaves.
My tastes in reading have always leaned towards the more serious and heavyweight leaders of the literary arts and their highly-efficient silverfish killing works (hit a silverfish with any edition of Don Quixote, War and Peace, Harold Robbins' The Carpetbaggers or any of Proust's volumes of A Remembrance of Things Past and you'll be hard-pressed to find any evidence of the silverfish's previous existence on planet earth), but I have been known to occasionally whack my funny bone on humorous writing and the odd end table and sometimes it's not my funny bone but my boner that I whack on a piece of furniture, deliberately I might add, to deflate the unexpected erections that befall me at the most unlikely of moments like during the Lord's Prayer, the national anthem, images of Muuamar Gaddafi's offspring playing polo in Leipzig or reruns of Murder She Wrote that I sometimes watch with my landlady while she darns her support hose. Either way, I find humour energizes the mind for more serious pursuits, especially after I've squeezed the last laugh from my belly and all the other places that last laugh may hide, for example in the sphincter muscles, prostate gland, urinary tract and occasionally the upper parts of the nostrils near the sinus cavities. In fact, it's this practice of extreme laughing that has led to my use of adult diapers as sometimes laughter is not the only thing that streams from my body copiously when the moment catches me, but it's of my opinion that any release, whether auditory or bodily, is good for the body, mind and soul, though perhaps not so good for the carpeting or upholstery.
I call these protective undergarments "soul catchers." As laughter floods from the body, so do some of the body's earthly essences, a completely natural expression of the body's reaction to humour and an indicator of the healthy soul that lies deep within. I've always felt to lose these precious juices and liquids is such a waste, not to mention costly because of the constant cleaning to get the stains out of your pants, but I feel the moniker, "adult diapers" does no justice to the essential and life-affirming function these undergarments perform as the soul is invigorated and the bowels and urinary tracts cleansed when laughter, such as that induced by the works of Lipsy Narvin, reaches its crescendo.
But enough about my undergarments, my undercarriage and my unconscious. Let's get on with the review and to do that we must first examine the source of Lipsy Narvin's humour. They say every great comedic mind is born out of tragedy, depression, self-loathing, rage, low self-esteem, bad diet and ill-fitting shoes. The effects of corns and bunions on a person's psyche cannot be underestimated, especially if they're already predisposed to the other conditions mentioned. Add a bunion to a person already primed to fly off the handle at a moment's notice, especially one who has been fed only corn chips, corn dogs, burgers, bratwurst and canned chili and you have a recipe for disaster and a probable roundhouse to the old schnozzola. But with Lipsy Narvin, as befitting a great humorist, the psychological makeup runs deeper than that and the bunion and bratwurst and burger on a bun is just the tip of the iceberg for below the frigid waters of a tumultuous sea of the human psyche lies the foundation of Lipsy's inspiration. For Lipsy was born a girl, lovingly named Lipodestra upon birth, coddled and cuddled and cared for as any beloved daughter would, but alas, Lipodestra was not to be. For Lipsy felt the calling, the yearning the urging, even at the earliest age, before full consciousness and motor controls and potty training had set in that she was a man at heart, regardless of whether there was anything to circumcise. As Lipsy has said in his great, rib-tickling essay, Penis Prima Donnas, "We judge so much of a man by his penis when really it's all about the neck muscles, nostril hair, preference for stubby heels and sweat glands that may demand more than just a light feminine product to mask the musk of a male trapped in a woman's body as in my case, so that, if one has a vagina rather than a dingdong for instance, and the above criteria are a match, well, so long sister and hello brother and you can stuff your pink ribbons and bow ties up your keister because this girl's going places in a man's world, with or without an Adams Apple or scrotum-cradling underpants."
Does the woman on the far right remind you of someone? Yep, that's right. It's Lispy Narvin before the sex-change when he was the beguiling Lipodestra and a singer in a religious trio. Their number one hit, Jesus, Use Me Like A Hooker In Bethlehem Behind the Dumpster Of An Olive Garden, took the Bible Belt by storm, causing many a man to loosen his belt when the wife wasn't looking and give a little squeeze to Jesus' staff before whacking it on a bible to expel such demon thoughts. As an added twist, once the sex-change was complete, Lipsy married the woman on the far left, Gladdis Lorbog, known not only for her formidable beehive hair-do but also her lilting soprano voice that was said to be able to drive the rabies right out of a mad dog frothing and convulsing on the pavement.
It was not long after Lipsy's sex-change that he hit his stride in the world of humour writing, regaling community center audiences both small and large (larger audiences usually turned out on $1.50 hot dog with a juice box or pop nights), with his painful, poignant, piquant but always funny observations. Borrowing from both his personal life and from the lives of his friends, enemies, strangers, his dentist, tax accountant, butcher, Vietnamese masseuse at the Grateful Endings Massage Parlor he liked to frequent and the one-armed man named Fred that he played tennis with every second Friday, soon publishers were breaking down the door of his basement apartment trying to get first dibs at publishing his essays. It's been many books later but Contusions & Confusions still remains his seminal work, maybe due to the fact of youth being on his side at the time and thus his semen production running at full tilt, not to mention the willingness to take risks that's an inherent trait of the young. Then again, maybe it was due to his new penis and the freedom of knowing that with it he could pee anywhere he liked, either incognito or just waving it around in a public display of power and urine spray. But as he writes in the title piece, all this new strutting around and cock-of-the-walk behavior was not without its setbacks. The opening paragraph says it all and each time I read it I weep, I laugh, I even emit a little gas, such is the power of a Lispy Narvin sentence and the degrees of depth his humour hits, like the submarine in Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea that's always getting in trouble and sinking to the ocean's bed.
After my first contusion I was very confused. I awoke in the gutter lane of a bowling alley wearing a beehive hair-do and clutching a rolling pin. Not a bowling pin mind you, but a rolling pin. Like I'd just come from Satan's kitchen and dead kitten sausage was on the menu. This contusion had me completely confusioned. And if that's not a word so be it, I'll eat my delusions and the inserts in your bowling shoes too. After they've been deodorized of course. Not that I mind stinky feet. My feet smell like old meat. Vultures circle me constantly thinking I'm some decomposing carcass. I'm just a hop, skip and jump away from being floated down the Ganges. Anyway, my forehead was black and blue from where I had been struck with a nine-iron and my blood had clotted, covering my face in what I perceived, upon first lick, as a very tasty crust. But pizza this was not. It was all coming back to me or maybe I was coming back to it. Or maybe me and it were meeting somewhere in between, some kind of neutral common ground where the barbed wire didn't catch our pants so easily. Either way, I knew I'd double-bogeyed on the 16th and my partner had gone all methamphetamine Arnold Palmer on me. Not that I blamed him in the least. A double-bogey, especially on a par 3, can drive any golf partner crazy and it's a good thing it wasn't a triple-bogey or you could've fed my innards to the gophers after I'd been gutted like a pig on the green and putted my testicles into the cup from a good eight feet. But I'm a bowler and not a golfer so I had plenty of excuses but excuses are only for the weak or those who can't lift a bowling ball with their scrotum.  
Here's a couple of Lipsy's pals sharing a laugh at the scene of Lipsy's bowling alley contusion experience. From left to right, Al Horstein, Reggie Botswold, Frank Yuntsmeyer and Seymour Kakinfrance. You can just make out Lipsy's hand and foot behind the pin setting machine, re-enacting his delirious state as the bowling balls rolled down the lane relentlessly.
In his next essay in the collection, Daughter of a Ditch Digger, Son of a Bitch, Lipsy vents a little spleen, spits a little venom and spritzes a little aftershave on his confused upbringing and the inability of his parents, Fritz and Gertie Narvin, to understand and deal with the masculine yearnings surging beneath his prettily flowered dress and pig-tailed head. Fritz, a ditch digger with the county and winner of the Pickle Lake Ditch Digger's Award for Exemplary Service to the Community, does have a moment of illumination when he realizes that the son he never had actually resides in his daughter's body and might turn out to be a ditch digger like himself and carry on the family tradition (the Narvins come from a long line of ditch diggers dating all the way back in their ancestral family tree to Bulgarian gypsies that settled in 16th century England and were soon digging ditches for royalty and stealing their poultry). Gertie, meanwhile, secretly blames the whole thing on her affair with Morty DeMarco, foreman at the local meat-packing plant and who is actually the father of Lipsy/Lipodestra Narvin. If you compare the picture of Lipsy today and the image of DeMarco in the photo below, the resemblance is uncanny as is both of their insatiable cravings for goat meat and the fact both men have prized hacksaw collections.
Here is Morty DeMarco, the real father of Lispy Narvin. Foreman at the Calypso Meat-Packing and Rendering Plant, one of the major employers of most Pickle Lake residents, DeMarco is also a meat home hobbyist and is seen here with his patented goat and lamb meat-shaving lathe and his treasured hand-forged knives made by the blind Albanian monks of the St. Galoobian Monastery. Don't let his intimidating appearance fool you. DeMarco is very popular in the Pickle Lake community and he and his meat-shaving lathe are frequent guests at children's birthday parties where the kids are allowed to shave as much meat as they can eat from the ample carcasses DeMarco so generously donates to the family's birthday festivities. He's also been known to set up his captivating slideshow illustrating how he smuggled his beloved knives out of Albania by dressing as a Russian prostitute in fetching hot pants and supplying free hand-jobs to border guards. Though these experiences still give him nightmares and he's been know to wake up screaming out the names of obscure Albanian villages, Morty never regrets the choices he made and treasures each of his knives as if they were his own children.
As Lipsy recounts in the essay: Once I found out that Morty DeMarco, that gourd of a human being was actually my father, I was just happy that my other father, Fritz, was dead by then (by the way, as a celebrated ditch digger he actually dug his own grave only days before he died in some kind of strange premonition of the brain aneurysm that was to take his life), and didn't live to learn the truth about Gertie and her whoring ways. When Morty DeMarco, on hearing of my father's death, offered to put Fritz on his meat lathe and take off some of his body weight as to make him more presentable for an open-casket funereal, I almost spat in DeMarco's face. But then I remembered that I was the son of a ditch digger and had a reputation and my father's legacy to uphold in the community so I simply grabbed DeMarco's testicles, gave them a hard squeeze and muttered, "Give me a light, shrimp, and make it snappy," as I waved a long, Cohiba Lanceros Cuban cigar in his face. Let me tell you, I've never seen a man drop a hacksaw faster than DeMarco did at that moment, except for my friend Muncie who cut off his thumb in wood shop in the 7th grade. I actually found the severed thumb under the vice bench but I quickly hid it in my pocket, dried it out and to this day I wear it like a talisman around my neck and occasionally kiss it, like you would a picture of a saint or the toes of Jesus Christ on the cross or the Virgin Mary's image baked into a breakfast croissant, to bring me inspiration. In fact, I truly believe that if it wasn't for that dried-up old thumb, I'd still be lingering like a moldy old odour or my Uncle Glutzy on the pull-out sofa at Thanksgiving, in my basement apartment rather than living in a swanky penthouse suite with my cheese emulsifiers and antique hacksaw collection, having my pick from any of the women with unwanted body hair that I meet at the laundromat I frequent to keep myself grounded and in touch with the proletariat class from where I once came and still come, but in vaginas rather than in old dollar-store dishcloths or lint-covered athletic socks that I find under my Louis IV canopied bed which I bought with my first royalty cheque. But back to DeMarco. He couldn't get his hand under his blood and meat-grease smeared apron quick enough fishing for a disposable lighter and when he finally found one and lit my cigar with a trembling hand, sweat beading his balding, gourd-shaped head from fear and my unrelenting grip on his testes, I hissed in his face, close enough that he could smell the rotting goat meat between my teeth, "One day I'm going to turn you on your own meat lathe while you're still alive and once you're flayed I'm gonna make you dig your own grave and line it with used gauze from the hospital trauma ward and then throw you in there and make you sing an Olivia Newton John medley while I cover you with dirt until you're buried alive." That was the second-to-last time I saw Morty DeMarco. The last time was when he was squeezed back into his hot pants and working a truck-stop glory-hole outside of Ethelsville, Alabama, after being run out of Pickle Lake due to a tainted goat meat scandal at the Calypso meat-packing plant. Need I say I succumbed to the temptation, especially with my new penis in place and though Morty couldn't see whose penis he was fellating due to the wall between us, I somehow felt this avenged my father, Fritz, for being deceived by Morty and my whore-mongering mother, Gertie, and subsequently going to his grave not knowing the travesty played out behind his back by Morty and Gertie on a wide range of stained and squeaky motel beds while Fritz slaved away unwittingly in the cold ditches of Pickle Lake. The oddness of being given a blowjob by my own illegitimate father was not lost on me and the added strangeness of my recent sex-change making this event even possible in the first place really was a bit of a brain twister but hey, that's why we have guys like Sigmund Freud and I realized I didn't have time to decipher such things. I had places to go and people to see and a blowjob from my backstabbing father through a glory-hole in an Alabama truck-stop wasn't going to stop me from achieving my dreams. 
In the above passage, Lipsy makes mention of calling Morty DeMarco a 'shrimp' and this is no coincidence. The DeMarco family, for generations, have all been dwarfs and midgets, as evidenced in the above photograph taken at the annual DeMarco family reunion seance and picnic. Morty was actually the first in the line not to be born a little person and for this he has garnered both the admiration and disgust of his extended family. Some felt he should have been drowned in the river at birth, others have been only more than happy to use him to reach items on the higher shelves at the grocery store on their shopping trips. As an added note it is amazing how much food these little folk can put away at the dinner table.
Whew! That's all I can say when Lipsy Narvin starts laying down the words like he's driving home railroad spikes into the brains of unsuspecting readers. The above selection carries all the poignancy of a baby seal being clubbed to death on a barren and icy Arctic sea and yet the humour shines through because if you don't get a chuckle out of that last little scenario in an Alabama truck-stop then maybe you should have your funny bone examined. Or possibly removed. Honestly, stuff like this doesn't grow on trees and if it did I wonder what fruit it would bear and whether you could even make juice out of it or a nice compote or jam or jelly. Nevertheless, fruit-bearing or not, Lipsy is mining the fruit of his loins or someone's loins and it's loin chops and loin cloths for everyone as far as this reader is concerned. The final essay in the book is a fitting denouement to Lipsy's many adventures and astute observations. Entitled, Hacksaws and Rabbit Paws, it's truly an insight into Lipsy Narvin's go-getter attitude and his refusal to take 'no' for an answer, even when surgeons told him he'd make an even uglier man than a woman. It's also a wonderful testament to his entrepreneurial spirit, even if a few hundred cute bunnies had to lose their feet so Lipsy could fulfill his dreams. But let's let Lipsy tell it best in this side-splitting excerpt.

As well as being a preeminent humorist, Lipsy is also know for his authoritative works on hacksaw techniques. The top diagram is from his manual, Hacksaw Do's & Dont's, A Primer For Beginner Hacksaw Enthusiasts, and whether you're a neophyte or a pro, this volume is filled with indispensable information for all your hacksaw needs and queries. Felcher Blangford, president of the North American Hacksaw Society, has stated that no one should even be allowed to handle a hacksaw until they have read this book. Pictured directly above is Lipsy's revered hacksaw collection, framed, for display purposes by large, machinist's hammers. Once a year Lipsy opens his collection to the public and line-ups form around the block of the condo development where he lives as hacksaw lovers from around the world gather for a glimpse at this hacksaw mecca.
 All I knew, even at an early age, smart child that I was, was that penises didn't grow on trees so if I wanted to ditch the old hoo-hah and get myself a ding-dong, it was going to take a little more than wishes made while blowing out birthday candles or asking Santa for a shiny new schlong with a purple bow tied around it. What I really understood, as a ditch-digger's daughter, was that you had to work hard for your money, whether you wanted to buy a Thanksgiving turkey, a pogo stick, a carpet sample book or hormone treatments. No one was going to hand you a penis on a silver tray although I do believe in the surgery, it did lie on a stainless steel silver-hued tray for a while before they attached it to my body. Anyway, one day while out foraging for flugleberries and fungus in the woods near my parent's place, I realized, after hearing so much rustling and bustling about in the surrounding shrubbery, that Pickle Lake was rife with wild bunnies. At that moment I had a brainstorm that hit like a spark from a downed power line and I thought, "Hello rabbits, goodbye penis envy or goodbye rabbits, hello testes," and so my fortune was made. The residents of Pickle Lake are a superstitious bunch and banking on that and the fact that people everywhere were probably pretty much the same, I decided to start my own lucky rabbit's foot business and make ends meet while adding the meat to my end and in the end the end justifiying the means as the dead, footless rabbits started piling up around me. Truth be told, I did shed a bit of a tear each time a little thumper met his or her maker, pink noses twitching in anticipation of the carrot I dangled in front of them while my other hand located a ball-peen hammer for stunning them and then a hacksaw to finish the work. It turned out my lucky rabbit's foot business was a hit and the orders were keeping me hopping, even though my quarry could no longer hop but that's the cost of free enterprise. It wasn't long before I was branching out to neighbouring townships and counties as I had decimated the local Pickle Lake rabbit population but ambition and penis envy drove me forward through the slaughter like a Viking trying to achieve Valhalla. Do I regret the little bunny lives it cost in order for me to realize my dreams? A good question but the answer is best left for another time because I'm having too much fun melting urinal pucks with my steady and copious stream.

There you have it. Lipsy Narvin at his best. It's no wonder the man is so revered for both his hacksaws and his humor because when you're an original everything is second best and no doubt made overseas, whether it be a rabbit's foot, a penis, an adult diaper, a hacksaw or a humorous essay. All I can say is Lipsy's words will leap right off the page, land on your pants and give you a lap dance, albeit one from an overly large and very hairy man but you won't notice from all the gas-passing and laughing you'll be doing. Kudos to you Mr. Narvin, kudos to you. May you live another day to suffer another contusion so that your legion of fans everywhere might bruise their funny bones on the sofas and end tables of your despair and confusion.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Reviews Of Books I Have Not Read

The Selected Poems of Wallace Stevens
I found this book on the free shelf of my local community center and it's no wonder someone gave it away when presented with this author's photo on the cover. With a mug like this who wouldn't give you away. Except your mother maybe. Nevertheless, here is Wallace Stevens in all his latter year glory, finally come into fruition like a rotting pear on a Sunday morning, as the full-blown renowned poet whose enigmatic work could, in the words of Stevens scholar, Prof. Phil Runts, of Nibster's Community College of Omaha, from his essay, "Bird Songs and Droppings in the Poems of Wallace Stevens,""make a nightingale sing loud enough to erase all traces of Maurice Chevalier."
Let it be said that the photo of the author adorning the cover of this volume shows a smartly dressed but dour man and the image does not betray the reality. For dour he was, toiling away for years at the Mutual of Omaha head office, upset that he didn't get the role of host on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and instead was left at a desk adjusting insurance premiums while Marlin Perkins got to cavort with very personable chimps and all manner of wildlife he encountered on safari. Meanwhile, Stevens lived a dullard's life and, ironically, it was this routine that was the impetus for him becoming the great poet that we remember today. His words took us to places we'd never been, nor had he for that matter, holed up in Nebraska most of the time except for the odd occasion when he traveled out of state with his bowling team. They were the mid-west bowling champions of 1964, eliminating Moe's Milwaukee Marauders in a nail-biter that required a recounting of every frame. Stevens composed an epic ode to the event, "Gutter Ball of Bathsheba." Here's the first stanza.

Gutter ball screamed the parakeet;
How often its disgusting little feet gripped the
glint of false light
of morning,
heroics left to the shadows of
naked dwarfs bulging with
the rocking of ramshackle clouds
after the railroad train
pulls out of Peking
and the creamery shutters
bang in the piebald heat.

One might say this stanza is exemplary of Stevens' poetry. Personal and yet detached, the embracing of the everyday but in abstract thought, contemporary and yet classic, all contextualized with an underlying sense of revulsion for life that makes one think Stevens must have thrown up after finishing each line. In fact, the Smithsonian has, in its archives, some vomit splatters attributed to Stevens on Mutual of Omaha letterhead paper upon which were the jottings of an early poem, The Bananas of Doctor Horst. This poem is famous amongst lovers of Stevens' poetry because it documents his first foray into cosmopolitan life after a rare visit to New York to see a highly recommended podiatrist for his severely fallen arches. Is he the Dr. Horst to whom Stevens alludes? And what is the connection between podiatry and bananas. The poem vaguely answers this in Stanza Six although Doctor Horst still remains a bit of a mystery as does his relationship with bananas. Doubt me? Read this!  

Back at the Waldorf
The world hummed in his handkerchief,
Naked tragedy clawing at the tunky-tunky-tunky
planks of bananas, masculine and feminine crowded like poodles under parasols.
Oh, mother, do not enter the foliage
where paratroopers with unhealthy appetites
bear barren fruit of bleak illusion,
and an old man on a mountain is only the anatomy left of tragic puppet spray.
Plinky, plinky, plonk, piano keys of loquacious salad beds,
never were the sounds so unsmelled
than in the labial gardens of Dr. Horst and his bananas,
the arches of Minneapolis fallen in the savage debris of disillusionment.

The great sweep of Stevens' philosophical questioning, his charm and wit and irony are all as evident in this piece as the melanoma moles upon his face and his stoicism is surprisingly derailed by an underlying fecundity as lusty as overripe breadfruit that hang like the well-suckled breasts of a mother of sixteen (Stevens had sixteen siblings and so this simile is not so far off the mark of Stevens' impressions of his own mother's breasts, especially since he was the last born and those breasts were ready to fall from the tree, in a manner of speaking, by the time he got his little lips around their life-giving, albeit, somewhat hairy and saliva-eroded nipples). On the subject of his mother, Clutchy, Stevens' love of her was so great that in later life he sought a marriage partner who could have been his mother's doppelganger. Thus his betrothal to Tilly Svenson, a loathsome girl from his old neighbourhood where he grew up, who blossomed into a loathsome woman with strong-as-an-ox buttocks from her obsessive-compulsive butter-churning disorder and a fetching smile that many storekeepers and trolley car operators always said could've landed Tilly in the moving pictures industry if she'd only stop carrying her butter-churning bucket clutched to her hefty bosom, was a marriage made in heaven from Stevens' perspective. Her cool, Nordic blood turned out to be a good match for Stevens' deeply buried lusty urges, which he was usually only able to release through alligator-wrestling.
The loathsomely fetching Tilly Svenson (on the right), seen here posing with Stevens' mother, Clutchy and his grandmother, Yeggdrasil (sitting). Three peas in a pod? You betcha and it's difficult to say, if I hadn't told you, which of these women was not born into the Stevens family, so alike are their features. It's as if Tilly Svenson could have been sprung from the very loins of either of the other two women in the picture. The photo, incidentally, was taken at Tilly's engagement party where she churned butter relentlessly while reciting ancient Nordic sagas about the death puffins that line the fjords of Bjornvalhallagoothen and carry the souls of great Viking warriors across the water to Jornsen's Furniture Outlet and Broadloom Emporium.
On the subject of reptilian roughhousing, it was Stevens' talent for alligator wrestling that he was sure was going to secure him the spot as Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom host. For Stevens, wrestling alligators was like a kind of poetry in motion, so it's no great mystery that when the 'gator wrestling didn't pan out, Stevens turned from reptiles to rhyme. Still, that didn't help to lessen the blow when he wasn't given the Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom host position, even after providing upper management with breathtaking photos of himself wrestling these fearsome beasts and demonstrating his own special move that would later, in 'gator wrestling circles, be dubbed the Stevens Gator-ator Sleeper Hold.
In his younger years, Wallace Stevens was a formidable alligator wrestler, a difficult pursuit when you realize Nebraska is not an alligator epicenter. It was this photo that Stevens submitted to Mutual of Omaha when they were launching their Wild Kingdom TV show, figuring the skills displayed in this image would make him a shoe-in for the host of the program. After losing out to Marlin Perkins, whose mustache Mutual of Omaha was taken with not to mention he looked better in a safari suit, Stevens turned his back on wildlife and the foliage it liked to hide in and embraced poetry in the great sorrow that was to shadow his life until he died. Hence, one must only witness the constant references to parakeets, goats, rattlesnakes and mating orangutans to understand that his initial dreams never left him, but were transferred, and, one might add, transcended, the commonplace into beautiful poetry in a voice so modern, many critics could only shake their heads in bewilderment, disbelief and occasional bouts of ptomaine poisoning.

In fact one of Stevens' most famous poems, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, was originally composed as Twenty-Nine Ways of Looking at and Rasslin' an Alligator, but he was convinced to change it by his friend and fellow insurance agent, Mortie Shugmeyer, who felt the alligator imagery might dissuade readers from enjoying the more lyrical passages and subtler metaphors of the piece. Amazingly, some of the original stanzas still exist on a waxed paper sandwich wrapper found in the back of Stevens' desk at the insurance office where he toiled until his death. Here's a sampling.

A man and a woman and an alligator
Wear sagging pantaloons
And smell of summer fields, skeletons and meat gravy,
Their shadows traced by blotchy blackbirds with grim hallucination.

I was of three minds,
The alligator, the blackbird and a discarded mouth-organ
Left on the shore of a blobby sea
Dark marine with the hems of beggar's capes,
Happy fecundity
You phantom glass-blowers of North America.

Yowzah, yowzah, yowzah
O thin tailors of Vesuvius,
Your warbling is like the blindness of ground beef,
The inescapable rhythm of newspapers blown by the coughing
That brings poetry
To the pineapples of artifice.

Is that an alligator in your pants
Or do you just want to rassle me
Under the sassafras tree
Greased with the jelly of a perplexed machine.
The alligator rests but the blackbird is wary, taciturn,
A paper mache ventriloquist dead on a sofa near Lake Geneva
Knows this and remains as bitter as a dried leaf
Pressed between the pages of a nudie picture book
Begetting tubas and purple prunes of engorgement.

The above diagram illustrates the four essential steps for performing the Stevens Gator-ator Sleeper Hold that has been adopted by 'gator wrestlers from the Everglades to the Louisiana bayous. Little did Stevens know that as his poetry would gain immortality so would his famous alligator wrestling move. Circulating amongst and influencing these two cultural circles, one could say, was Stevens' greatest accomplishment, bringing poetry in all its forms to both the common man and the higher spheres of learning. Many's the time Stevens was quoted as saying, "Any poet that can't wrestle a 'gator is a poet I'll never understand."
Again, Stevens' acuity and versatility with language makes one forget that he was raised in a chicken coop as a child and until the age of ten could only scratch in the gravel with bare feet and cluck whenever pleasure or pain was visited upon his body. But if it's true that childhood provides the most formative years, one can only wonder if he wouldn't have become as erudite and philosophically far-reaching if he hadn't first lived among the chickens and gained a sense of nature and its disharmonious relationship with the growing modern world, understanding that one day chickens and insurance agents would never see eye to eye despite the fact that in the past they both pecked happily from the same overfilled trough. But then reason flies out the window with poetry, as well it should, because if you've ever tried to shove the two of them through one windowpane, well you'd end up with a lot of broken glass, splintered wood and a repair bill that would seriously deplete your beer and pickled egg fund. And yet, paradoxically, Stevens was able to meld the two realms, reason and poetry meeting on uncommon ground as his insurance acumen and poetic perspective and embodiment, right down to the socks and boxer shorts he wore, pushed the boundaries of verse and provided policy holders with something to think about when their houses burned down or their property was stolen while they were having martinis with the Lundquivsts at the tennis club. Circumstance, happenstance or just part of the cosmic dance, all questions one has to ask as it has been rumored Stevens was prone to burn down the homes of policy holders to teach them the hard lessons of poetry. There is a cruelty to his beauty and god help anyone who dismissed him, especially if there were any sharp objects or flammable materials around. And yet Stevens was not above the lighthearted and lyrical touch as evidenced so well in his famous poem, The Emperor and the Ice Cream Truck, reprinted without permission below.

Roll out the barrel,
And yell hap-hap hallow,
For the wench is but a horny-footed cataleptic polymathic hierophant vassal
Born of Mrs. Pappadopoulos.
Ice cream, ice cream, we all scream
With gawky beaks
And the emperor rubs himself
With weak facts and an old fantouche,
Lacking a personalia and a dog-eared vocabulary,
It's just booming vulgarity
In vanilla or chocolate.
So don't even ask for coconut
You lewd opiate of chastity and musty teeth.

So affix your fuzzy wig
To your swollen and knobby head,
And inhale the odors of the fantails of Oklahoma,
And then ask yourself with trembling lip and palaver of hand
what do you want, a rifle-butt or sugar cone?
Beep, beep,
Don't touch my bumper of doom
You concupiscent curd of an excuse for a human,
for I am the Emperor of the ice cream truck
and no, I don't have any pistachio.

Here is Stevens displaying the full range of his poetic maturity, or as Stevens scholar, Prof. Phil Runts of Nibster's Community College of Omaha, has put forth, it's this poem above all others that makes him itch as if he were being eaten alive by fire ants. This simile proves to be all too apt for it's this discomfort evoked by images of comfort that makes Stevens' poetry the equivalent of sleeping on an old sofa bed where the springs protrude and the mattress is stained with urine and withered cherry blossoms. Such beauty cannot be held in the hand or mouth or even kept in an old shoebox in the back of the closet with the mothballs and silverfish. It can only be felt and held in the heart except if you have a pacemaker, in which case you might need a good-sized piece of Tupperware, preferably with a properly fitting lid. Or in the case of Prof. Phil Runts, the full impact of Stevens' poetry can best be enjoyed by employing his patented Wallace Stevens Head Harness. Either way, Wallace Stevens is here to stay and if you have a problem with that, well, then, go wrestle an alligator and see if you don't get your head chewed off. Then maybe you'll understand the greatness of this man who had the soul of a poet, the heart of a reptile and a face not even a mother could love.
Pictured here is Prof. Phil Runts demonstrating his patented Stevens reading device. The volume of poems is strapped to each side of the head as Prof. Runts has discovered that the poetry is best enjoyed and deciphered using extreme peripheral vision. How he has come up with this theory remains a bit of a mystery but I have tried the device out myself and can only say am wowed by my new understanding of Stevens' work, although I did get a splitting headache and was wall-eyed for a few days.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Reviews Of Books I Have Read

The Gloxpusian Chronicles by Morton Clancy Snitzler IV
I'll guarantee this. The next time you're at an all-you-can-eat baby shrimp buffet you'll never look at these delicious creatures in the same way after reading this wonderful book of speculative fiction. Now I'm usually not one for fantasy or science-fiction but this book knocked my socks off, no mean feat when you realize my socks are so old and crusty, most nights I have difficulty peeling them off my feet. For the record, I keep my socks this way on purpose in order to cure my athlete's foot. By attiring my feet in lazy, unwashed socks I'm attempting to stifle my feet's athleticism, leading by example, so to speak, encouraging my feet to become sluggish, lethargic, almost lifeless and thus drive every element of their athletic fungus from the core of their being and the strange bit of webbing between my toes that I've been blessed with. I guess you could say it's a sentiment such as this, feeling blessed by an abnormality that makes a good segue into the heart of this novel.
The author posing with one of his detailed diagrams that helped him to better envision his creations and keep track of the many intertwining plot lines that make up his magnificent novel of the future. The diagram shows the highly advanced vacuuming device that the Gloxpusians used to suck up all the baby shrimp from the earth's oceans along with storage container-like constructions used to transport the baby shrimp back to their planet.
For the Gloxpusians, a highly-intelligent race of beings from the Frederick R. Gladstone galaxy, six hundred million light years away, are crazy for baby shrimp. How they became this way is a cause for speculation but the author hints at an abnormal biological trait and a series of stray enzymes that cannibalize their host bodies unless subdued and eventually satiated by tiny crustaceans. The enzymes go rogue speeding up the Gloxpusian metabolisms and soon all the baby shrimp in the universe are threatened. Either way, Gloxpusians crave baby shrimp, need it, yearn for it so much so that the vast quantities they consume actually alters their body chemistry, much like that of an opiate addict, until they cannot live without ingesting at least two pounds of baby shrimp per Gloxpusian a day. The author himself has admitted to a dangerous periwinkle habit and in an interview has revealed consuming up to fifty of these sea snails daily and so is not stranger to these kinds of urges or this type of subject matter.
Here's the baby shrimp in all its glory. Even if you're not a Gloxpusian what's not to like about this delicious little creature. In my younger days when I was still filling out my britches, I could eat a bucket of these crustaceans, carapace and all. And contrary to what people might tell you, there's a lot of meat in those spindly little legs but you have to suck them just right to get it out.
As the story unfolds we learn the Gloxpusians have been visiting earth for some time, quietly and discreetly pillaging our oceans of their baby shrimp bounty but as the Gloxpusian's need for this delicacy grows, soon buffets all over the world are feeling the baby shrimp depletion. First to sound the alarm is Ardolfo Hispalari, banquet manager at the famed Borshines Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas strip. When his baby shrimp supply runs dry and he's subsequently told by his supplier that he's not even sure if he can procure any more, Ardolfo goes crazy, pulling out his mustache hairs one by one, a painful process that takes him most of the afternoon and part of the evening, so great is his reputation aligned with Borshines renowned all-you-can-eat shrimp hour that he's willing to exfoliate himself in this manner. Next, in Vargasburg, California, at the esteemed Mendel's Mollusk Barn, Mendel Johnson throws himself from the roof, breaking a wrist and losing his toupee after learning that there's no more baby shrimp for his Shrimp Gorge Festival Days. As Mr. Snitzler piles tragedy upon tragedy with the good citizens of earth trying to take their lives or at least harm themselves in unusual ways as the shrimp news hits them hard, we, the readers, feel their pain, so strong is the characterization and descriptions Mr. Snitzler conjures up in his oddly perfunctory yet almost baroque style that reminds me a lot of a young Flaubert before he had that accident where a monkey mistook his head for a coconut at the Jardin du Palais Royal, twisting and twisting at his cranium causing severe whiplash, a concussion and acting as a catalyst for post-monkey-mistaking-head-for coconut stress syndrome that forever cast a pallor upon Flaubert's future work.
Oddly enough, Flaubert befriended the monkey that mistook his head for a coconut and with no hard feelings between them, they soon became inseparable as evidenced in this photograph. They would often go out on the town, visiting the Folies Bergere or dining at Les Maggots du Morte and became such a pair in Parisian high society that Toulouse Lautrec immortalized them in a painting that hung in a brothel on La Rue Couchon, frequented by wealthy patrons, many with wooden legs, glass eyes and toupees made from the wings of bats. The monkey was also known for his impeccable dress and in later years even Coco Chanel was known to ask his advice on certain occasions and the monkey was particularly taken with her because the first four letters of her name were the same as those in the word coconut.
 As usual with novels of a genre nature, there is always one bad guy, willing to align him or herself with the invasion forces that menace society with the promise of great fortune, power, infamy, a place in history and a pick from any fish in the sea, and by fish I don't mean shrimp or fish or anything that lives underwater and eats plankton for sustenance or in the words of Mr. Snitzler, "I'm talking about a broad with luscious lips and shapely gams and bazoombas that could stop an elephant in his tracks."  In this case, the villain in cahoots with the aliens is one, Sgt. Milton Dewlap, of the Utah State Police who meets the Gloxpusians one summer night while out patrolling the desert looking for illegal ground mice. Here, things get a little convoluted in exactly how Sgt. Dewlap's role in the great Gloxpusian shrimp takeover works, especially with Utah being a landlocked state with nary a shrimp to be seen, but it all has to do with Dewlap's ability to astral project his body, only when he's wearing his magic hosiery, and in this invisible form penetrate NATO Command Defense Centers, shutting down air and ocean radar systems so that the Gloxpusians can safely descend, virtually undetected and vacuum up all our shrimp. The plot thickens when the Gloxpusians become dissatisfied with Dewlap's assistance due to a few Portuguese man-o-war incidents that I won't give away but, suffice to say, Dewlap is beamed aboard the Gloxpusian ship and given a good talking to.    
On board the Gloxpusian ship, the Gloxpusians accusing their only ally earthling, Sgt. Milton Dewlap of the Utah State Police, of not sufficiently alerting them to the dangers of the Portuguese man-o-wars they inadvertently sucked up with their supply of baby shrimp, causing many Gloxpusians to be stung into coma-like states (the Gloxpusians are far more susceptible to Portuguese man'o'war poison than human beings due to their double bladder system and over-active mitochondria).
Feeling the Gloxpusian heat, Dewlap escapes from the ship using his astral projection techniques (his astral body acting as a kind of placeholder fooling the aliens while his real body beats a hasty retreat), and back on earth goes directly to the CIA to report on the Gloxpusian shrimp cloak and dagger thievery. The CIA then enlists Dewlap as a spy to run a counter-espionage scheme, promising him immunity from prosecution for helping the Gloxpusians in the first place if he can report on all their nefarious plans and help aid the CIA in launching their own diabolical plan to counter-attack the Gloxpusian High Command.
Sgt. Milton Dewlap's astral projection technique is not some whimsical flight of fancy that one would read on some nut-pants' website, but rather founded on hard, scientific fact as demonstrated here in these revealing photos from Dr. Natasha Onklure's Institute of Phenomenonological Research, based in Beaverton, Ontario. Located kitty-corner to the Wal-Mart and right next door to Fledgling's Love Shop & Marital Aid Emporium, the Institute has been furthering investigative techniques into paranormal sciences as well as doubling as an end-of-the-roll carpet warehouse to fund its various experiments. In this series of images, Dr. Onklure, demonstrates sensory transference between the subject and his astral body using her specialized navel swabbing method and measuring responses via her patented feedback helmet and astral-vision goggles.
In this final section of the book the plot really picks up steam with all sorts of devious endeavors from both the earthling and alien parties, culminating in one of the CIA's most successful campaigns, waged with the help of state trooper Sgt. Dewlap and the U.S. Marines. Dewlap, still working undercover, notifies the Gloxpusians that there's no more shrimp in the sea but that he's found a new food source that they're sure to enjoy with equal fervor. Sweet baby chick meat is the solution and once the Gloxpusians taste this lovely and savoury delicacy, they go baby chick meat crazy and the feeding frenzy is under way. The CIA then puts its plan into full swing using bearded mannequin heads that attract the baby chicks who believe the bearded plastic heads to be their various mothers (Snitzler lays out some hard evidence as to why this natural phenomenon occurs but I remain skeptical, but nevertheless, grant him fictional license in this plot twist). In this manner, the CIA is able to attract thousands of baby chicks to various mannequin head hotspots across the country and inside each head is a surveillance camera and high explosives ready for detonation. And detonate they do, blowing Gloxpusians to smithereens as they attempt to gather the baby chicks (by hand this time as they haven't perfected a baby chick vacuuming device), the CIA watching their every move via the mannequin head surveillance cameras so that the Gloxpusian death and casualty toll is maximized. It's this kind of efficiency that makes you take heart and equally makes your heart skip a beat with pride in the secret organizations that protect our countries from purported alien species. I will not spoil the book by giving away the nail-biting finale to this amazing novel but I will say the Gloxpusians are no pushovers and when push comes to shove the Gloxpusians are more than able to give the earthlings a taste of their own exploding medicine. 

In this photo, only recently released from secret CIA files, we can see that Snitzler's baby chick/bearded mannequin head attraction equation is founded on some groundbreaking experimentation. Snitzler again demonstrates his veracity in all things scientific, grounding his work in some of the most covert exercises practiced in underground laboratories worldwide. In this example, the KGB had been experimenting with baby chicks and Bolshevik heads for what devious means only those in the know know for sure. 
Does this all seem a little too far-fetched? Well, look around you or don't look around you because you probably won't see anything anyway or if you do see something you won't know what you're really seeing, so set and mired down as you are in your earthling ways, and if you aren't and have acute eyesight, like me, I suggest you still don't look around because you won't like what you see because there are those who walk or slither among us who have combination tentacle-pincers where other people have ears or arms or knees. That's the lesson Snitzler hands down to us through this science fiction parable, a work of such expansive thought and shocking concepts that its time is perhaps too soon and yet long overdue. It's no wonder Ray Bradbury's brother-in-law, Fred Lingshorn, states, with no doubt wavering in the voice-box that is his voice (after a rabid squirrel claimed his larynx), that next to The Martian Chronicles the Gloxpusian Chronicles is the finest book of speculative fiction with the word chronicle in its title that he's ever read and he'd even go so far as to say it's the best except his brother-in-law, Ray, just bought him a new car so he's obligated to side with Mr. Bradbury, especially since Cadillacs don't grow on trees. I, for one, have not received a Cadillac from Mr. Bradbury so I have no qualms in saying this chronicle would make even Mr. Peanut drop his monocle in astonishment at this vision of things to come. Enjoy your baby shrimp now because tomorrow you might have to skimp and save just to limp through the lineup at the all-you-can-eat algae and barnacle buffet. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Reviews Of Books I've Never Read

A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin
Few people know it was actually Heckle and Jeckle, their hilarious antics and love of corn-on-the-cob that were the main inspiration for Mr. Martin's writing of this magnificent tome.
First off, I know I should have begun with the first book in Mr. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones, but I have an aversion to the word "thrones" plus I found this fourth volume of the series left behind in a bus shelter, albeit a little soggy and with a used condom that was either used for a bookmark or else carelessly thrown in post-coital haste that strikes those who engage in urban outdoor sex. The fact that it landed between the pages of this book is one of those eternal mysteries. Why do I have an aversion to the word "thrones" you might ask. Well, number one, if the word is not pluralized I have no problem at all. Throne is fine, but "thrones" causes me to break out in hives. I asked my good friend and fellow associate, Dr. Mitford Peebler, (although he doesn't practice anymore after a liposuction accident in Minnesota that forced him to flee the state and find a new vocation as a plumber in Regina), what is the connection between the word "thrones" and my hives? And why, if the word is not pluralized, do I only get a few sniffles and a bit of bleeding from the ears, which really, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing because I can get that just from watching The Price Is Right with my landlady. Dr. Peebler, after some quick counseling over the phone, interrupted only by the sound of dropping quarters and the operator's incessant nagging, informed me that the whole "throne phobia thingamajig" as he so aptly coined it, stemmed from an early childhood memory of me sitting on Santa's knee and being terrified, not by the red-suited and heavily bearded man who's breath smelled like urinal pucks, but by the huge seat he sat upon, a throne as my guardian for the afternoon described it, and which I still associate to this day, with a figure of authority who runs a dwarf factory. "Yes," I exclaimed to Dr. Peebler. "But that's throne in the singular and it's only the pluralized word that bothers me. How do you explain that?" Dr. Peebler chuckled with the simplicity of it all and then I heard a choking sound followed by a gurgling and then the line went dead. I'm sure his explanation would've been fascinating but I imagine he was called away on some important plumbing business. Anyway, I have no problem with the word "crow," singular or plural so I knew I was going to enjoy this read. Now, Mr. Martin is renowned for his highly detailed and convincingly drawn up worlds, castles in the sky so to speak, except these ones are on the ground and full of really repulsive people most of the time. He has a tribe called the Bloodwarts, another called The Knights of Bladder Leaks and an ancient king in the land of Vigorador who waits to be vanquished by the Falubian People, who live deep in the forest of Schnutzschnutz and have exploding feces, which they use to knock down the ramparts and barricades of the Castle of Hipskebob. This guy's imagination knows no bounds and not even a chain link fence and a couple of cans of pepper spray could stop his Hounds of Fermentathol, methinks. Although it did stop me during an altercation with some dumpster divers behind a factory and a Smithrite full of recently spoiled McCain Deep'n'Delicious cakes.
A rare photo of the enigmatic and rarely photographed author, taking a well-deserved break from writing his hefty tomes. It's amazing such large works come from such a small man, but some critics have claimed he writes so much simply to accommodate  for his diminutive size. Although, judging from the way he fills out a thong, not all things on this man are as tiny as they might seem. Ladies, be forewarned. The King of Glornworth might play upon you much like minstrels upon your fallopian tubes and his hose is better used for something more than filling a kiddie pool.
On the silverfish killing front, never fear, because all of Mr. Martin's books are extraordinarily thick and put together, perhaps with masking tape or twine you've saved from one of your taxidermy experiments, entire civilizations of these repugnant vermin can be wiped out with one strike. And singly, each book can at least destroy a silverfish city. But in this case, I'm only concerned with one volume, A Feast For Crows, but I could pretty much say it's not only crows who would enjoy this feast. I enjoyed it for one but I also think it could be a feast for manatees, home insurance salesmen, cell-phone manufacturing plant workers, carnival employees (especially those who work the Tilt'a'Whirl) and even endangered marmosets who are known to be finicky eaters, at least after their habitats have been razed. And although some of the descriptions of battles and murders and villagers defecating and milking emaciated goats might stick in your craw, Mr. Martin's attention to detail makes these disgusting and horrific details necessary to bring reality to his imaginary realms.
It's goat-milking techniques such as these that Mr. Martin describes so aptly, leaving little to the imagination so that the imagination may run free, much like some of the goats that escape the clutches of the defecating villagers so that they may again feed upon the green, green grass of Vongortalflob in the foothills of the Plorky Mountains.
Is there a plot at work amongst all these nefarious dealings? You better believe it though you'd be hard-pressed to find it but that's exactly Mr. Martin's intentions. By creating so many different worlds and characters and the horses that these characters ride when say, they journey from the Forest of Niblung to the River of of Zortoz, not to mention the dogs they like to eat along the way, a kind of literary subterfuge is employed so that before you can finish milking an emaciated goat the dwarfs of Glockensputz are upon you, raping your womenfolk and stealing your strudel. And you are living every moment through the words, as if you are really there and being raped by a dwarf or eating crow brain stew with the Secret Society of Knights of Dungshire while being nuzzled by a a ram in rutting season. So, the Niblungians go to war with the raping dwarf army of Borflindiog, led by their evil queen, Hamstring Fenestra, whose only wish is to produce a child to take over her monarchy even though her womb is as barren as a recently logged hillside. For this pursuit she has set her sights upon the hapless knight, Sir Eyre Titsshmitzfelton, who harkens from Zugmudder's Landing, a tiny nation known for its decorative gourd production that are used in the Festival of Calderean, the one-eyed god of war and butter churning and who is worshiped by the neighbouring village of Ingmanbrootvanhoofen, as the menfolk spill their seed into the emptied gourds, which is then used to douse their womenfolk and poultry before the men are whipped into a frenzy and go pillaging nearby villages and towns and the women baste fat white worm larvae in the blood of she-goats to prepare for the return of the marauding men and bring bounty to their gourd-growing season.
As this nefarious plot unfolds, three-hundred miles away as the crow flies over the carnage of the Gorvilian Tentacle Zombies under the Order of King Leopold Gwenavere Humphreys, a beautiful princess by the name of Lady Melanoma is being kidnapped by Vishtmar, the seer of the Hairy Tree Tribe, who, when not foraging for roots, nuts and berries, like to mate with humans to produce golden-haired offspring which they then sell to various caravan travelers who make their way along the Old Mutton Trader's Route.
Members of the George R. R. Martin Fan Club, the Saskatoon Chapter, re-enact the kidnapping of Lady Melanoma by Vishtmar, seer of the Hairy Tree People in the Forest of Enchanted Charred Pork Rinds.
As if these intrigues weren't enough, Mr. Martin further complicates the plot with the arrival of the warriors of Moldor, known for their high stink emanating from their unwashed flesh and the colourful war paint they decorate their testicles with. Looking to expand their territory to the east, they ally with the Gorvilian Tentacle Zombies and traveling by camel back, they are able to cross the Desert of Blattsworth, sucking the water from their camels' humps to survive the arid wasteland and using strips of dried wolf livers (a technique they picked up from the ancient Argolians whose eyes were actually located on their knees) to protect their eyes from the blistering sandstorms.
Argolian war-strike position. Notice the knees begin to bend down low, giving greater sight-lines to the Argolian warriors as their eyes are now closer to the ground, encased in the knee cavity and should their head get lopped off, they are still able to see their enemy.
Needless to say a massive and bloody battle ensues between so many factions and villages and tribes I lost track not long after I removed my bookmark and soon had to place a cold ham steak to my head as a restive from all the plot-twists and action. I'll say this. The book should really be called A Feast For Crow's Eyes because that's what you'll have by the time you finish this thing. Your life will fly by. It clocks in at a whopping 1060 pages and that's not counting the various maps at the beginning illustrating the many lands Mr. Martin's creations live or scavenge upon. And like a good Hollywood producer, but using words instead of wampum, Mr. Martin leaves plenty of breathing space in his finale to suggest not quite a cliffhanger, but more like a castle rampart hanging ending as the Great Bulgogi, sage to King Mitzi of Grandgloomen, foresees in his magic crystal sphere the invasion of the City of the Three Ugly Sister of Hamentashen by the Imperial Army of Floofenspire, led by Prince Guttock, he of the baboon-hued buttocks and penchant for one-eyed virgins in canoes.
Here, another Song of Ice and Fire fan, Dwight Vonder of the Sudbury Chapter, plays the part of the Great Bulgogi predicting the invasion of the city of the Three Ugly Sisters of Hamentashen.
If there's anything you'll take away from this book it's Mr. Martin proving the old adage "you can't go home again," because if you do the dwarf-raping, brain-sucking, intestine-eating, tentacle-wrapping
Legion of the Gritrilion Mobobos will get you, performing all the above actions upon your person as well as peeing in your bouillabaisse.  
These Gritrilion Mobobos that make their entrance near the end of the book may look benevolent at first glance but don't be fooled by their lustrous hair and circle of admiring baby heads. Beneath their robes are hidden their poisonous tentacles and they'd just as soon suck the brains from your skull as give you the time of day or babysit your family pet. Notice they have no compunction about using baby heads as footstools.
All I can say is this book is almost Falstaffian in its Caesarian ways and by Caesarian I don't mean the salad or the emergency birthing procedure but more along the Ides of March, but in this case, closer to the gales of November when the great north wind blows across Lake Superior and the barking of wayward sea otters drives mariners mad with fear and desire. Et tu, Mr. Martin, et tu.