May 10, 2008


After nine months of blogging unscathed, I’ve been tagged, dammit, for a meme (rhymes with “mean”), a fancy word for “Tag, you’re it!”.

I am usually wary of these things. The word “viral” puts me in mind of Nigerian money scams, but I overcame my apprehension considering that I was tagged by the inestimable Richard Harland Smith of Movie Morlocks, and the great company I fell in with: My fellow tagees are Kimberly Lindbergs of Cinebeats, Final Girl Stacie Ponder, Video WatchDog Tim Lucas, and Marty McKee of Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot.

The challenge posed is as follows:

1) Pick up the nearest book.

2) Open to page 123.

3) Locate the fifth sentence.

4) Post the next three sentences on your blog and in so doing...

5) Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

I was game. And I was about to enter the Twilight Zone…

Sitting at the computer, the books immediately at hand are those I use as reference for my blog. The one on top of the pile, currently, was Master Movie Monsters, from 1965, a lightweight celebration of classic horrors, by Brad Steiger. Unfortunately, Mr. Steiger ran out of things to say ten pages short of the magic 123 number, so I moved to the next book, which was Focus on the Horror Film, a longtime favorite of mine, a collection of serious articles on horror films, published in 1972. The cover features an Oliver Reed Werewolf, Lugosi’s Dracula, and The Monster and The Bride holding hands.

I flipped to page 123, counted down and read the three target sentences. I was knocked for a loop. The passage dealt with Hammer’s The Mummy, describing Christopher Lee’s formidable creature as a hollow crust, dusty and cratered with gunshot wounds, comparing it with Mary Shelley’s description of a “degraded and wasted” monster.

For all the randomness of the exercise, the sentences I landed on were perfectly appropriate for my Frankencentric blog!

Delighted, I roughed out my post, set it aside to be polished later, fired off 5 invitations as prescribed, and I turned in. 

Back online Friday afternoon, prior to posting my contribution, I clicked through the links on my menu, landing on a daily favorite of mine, Arbogast On Film, one of the blogs I had tagged. And there, somebody pinch me, was Arbo’s meme entry… from Focus on the Horror Film!

I don’t know what the chances are that both Arbo and I would have the same out of print, relatively obscure, thirty-six year old book within immediate reach. I contemplated probabilities, fate, happenstance and telepathy. I am not normally paranoid, but I checked for hidden microphones.

I had to rewrite my post. This time, I went to another table piled with books waiting to be read or re-read. The book on top was from the second category. I regularly pick books off my shelves to revisit. They are always somehow different each time around.

The book is True History of the Kelly Gang, by Peter Carey, one of the most gripping novels I have ever read, a literary tour-de-force told in the legendary Australian outlaw hero’s “voice”.

Based on a famous letter written by Ned Kelly himself, Carey uses its rythms, its archaic expressions and peculiar writing style devoid of punctuation, save for periods. The words rush together, breathlessly. Seems every sentence in the book is supercharged. Here’s the passage dictated by the meme:

Bill Frost has carked it he said he has bled himself to death.

Now it is many years later I feel great pity for the boy who so readily believed this barefaced lie I stand above him and gaze down like the dead look down from heaven.

The traps is out for you sonny Jim.

There. Now I have to read the book again, like right now.

As per instructions, I tagged, in turn, five other bloggers. I largely shied away from horror blogs (I couldn’t take anyone else quoting from Focus on The Horror Film!) and tried to make my list as eclectic as possible. I came up with the aforementioned (and decidedly troublesome) Arbogast on Film, whose blog — warning! — may prove to be addictive; Max Cheney of The Drunken Severed Head whose blog — warning! — may cause coffee to shoot out of your nostrils; Rob Kelly, who should be posting on any one of his countless comics-oriented blogs, probably Hey Kids Comics! or maybe All in Black & White for 75 Cents; Thom Ryan, the formidable film spelunker at Film of the Year; and Joe Thompson, an expert and enthusiast of rolling stock, I kid you not, holding forth at The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion.

I’ll be clicking through all the links peppered throughout this post to see what everyone is reading.


ARBOGAST said...

Mwahahahahahahahahahahahah! (Takes breath) Ahmwahahahahahahahahahah!

rob! said...


Anonymous said...

What a great read, Pierre. Are you a fan of Tony Richardson's film Ned Kelley (1970), then?

My own meme post is up now too. Thanks for tagging me, pal.

Pierre Fournier said...

Arbogast: Bastard!

Thom: I saw Ned Kelly when it came out because of Mick Jagger. Didn't think much of it, but I was fascinated by the character and have been ever since. I'd love to see the Heath Ledger version from 2004, but it never played here. There's a early silent version, too, that looks interesting.

The Peter Carey book is outstanding.