Favorite Things


Words & Music By Billy Joel

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense

And every time I’ve held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

And this is why my eyes are closed
It’s just as well for all I’ve seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows

So I would choose to be with you
That’s if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who kno

Retail Therapy; it works!

At least in the short term….

This, for example, would give me a great deal of immediate pleasure! Look how pretty it is!!

I think part of it comes from having such an utter lack of resources for most of my young life. There was never any money to manage, so I had no idea how to do it once I had some of my own. As I said before, I like to acquire things. I have a closet stuffed full of clothes, knick-knacks I’ve owned for half my life, and more purses than you can shake a stick at. I feel almost anchored by my belongings; as though their existence makes me somehow more corporeal. I am conforted when I look around me and see my stuff, ordered and set, each thing in it’s place.

The actual act of shopping though, well.

While going on an outing a few weeks ago with Lyza she lamented that she didn’t think she really had any girl friends who liked to shop. I was flabbergasted. Hodie hears this from the backseat and says

“You didn’t know she likes shopping?? Have you MET her?? I think she might like shopping as much as she likes ME!”

Which is of course, an exaggeration, but… well… you know, not a HUGE one.

Something comes over me. I walk into a store, doesnt matter what kind, I get this feeling in the grocery store too, of an almost narcotic bliss. I would not be surprised if my eyes glazed over in this moment. I become utterly focused and deeply intent on whatever comes to hand. I like to mull and reflect, choose and reject. Feeling fabrics, inhaling scents, picking things up and putting them back. It feels incredibly satisfying to have such power, such pleasure. Shopping is my heroin.

If I could only shop in five clothing stores for the rest of my life, I’d choose:

1) Banana Republic~ Part of the GAP empire, they are about the only place I can find t-shirts that will fit me properly.

2) J.Crew~ In the same way my mother didn’t want me to participate in Yuppie sports, she didn’t want me to dress like I was going to be summering in the Hamptons. Naturally I have always LOVED that style. Get me in front of an Argyle sweater and I positively swoon.

3) Ann Taylor~ Classic, stylish, incredibly comfortable and wearable stuff. Goods are of excellent quality and hold up for years with proper care.

4)H&M~ This is sort of the other end of the spectrum. Quality, not so great, but they are very trendy and the prices are quite low. It makes sense to have a foundation wardrobe of high quality pieces and then throw in some cheap shiny crap for variety.

5) Nordstrom~ Not just because they have excellent quality and selection, but also because they are the only department store in the states that carries lingerie that will accommodate my particular measurements. I used to have to go online and order garments from GB and if they didn’t fit properly, well, as the saying goes “tough titty”

It’s been a long time since I really had the means to go out and buy clothes in any real quantity, but I’m trying to learn to enjoy window shopping a bit more. Like methadone.

I don’t like snow. I don’t like it in town. I don’t like it in my yard or on the street. If I had my way, there wouldn’t even be snow in the PARKING LOT at the mountain. I don’t think it’s romantic or cozy; I think it’s wet and messy and unpleasant in every way except one. I only like snow under my skis.

But oh god, do I like it then.

I’ve only been skiing for about 12 years. I had always wanted to try it when I was younger, but my mother was fundamentally opposed to me doing anything “yuppies” would do (point of fact, my three favorite sports are now skiing, golf, and tennis. ha) When I became an adult and could choose for myself, I made it my new favorite thing to do. I was unemployed one glorious winter, but still drawing a weekly check. I’d often ski 3-4 times a week. God, those were the days. I spent most of my time at Skibowl, but did a fair amount of time at Timberline as well. I was pretty much terrible, but I loved it.

Motherhood put the brakes on my skiing career for a while. One ought not ski while preggers, and convincing anyone to stay with a shrieking infant for the better part of a day so I could go hit the slopes was not as easy as it might sound. Once Hodie was older and spent time apart from me, it was back up the hill for me. Even better, when I started taking college classes it turned out YOU COULD GET CREDITS FOR TAKING A SKIING CLASS!!! This was, and I try not to exaggerate, one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

I showed up for class all excited and ready to tear down the mountain. The instructor had other ideas. He asked me how fond I was of my skis. I was fond of them in the sense that they were mine and they allowed me to go more often than if I had to rent everytime. He asked if I was aware I was wearing skis that were both a) about 4 sizes too big and b) 10 years out of date. I was not, in fact aware of this. He told me it was impressive I had even managed to stay UPRIGHT on these relics, let alone get down the hill at all. I scampered right out and got myself some new skis that fit. Holy Mother Of God, what a difference. I had always LIKED skiing, but this was a whole new ballgame.

I could carve, I could hit turns super hard, I could manage any run at Timberline pretty much at full speed. It was a revelation. Music blasting in my ears, knees bent, body leaning into my skis as hard as I could manage. This was joy. Pure and cold and unadulterated. Joy.

And I rarely feel that. An all-consuming pleasure that brooks no competition. Something so absorbing that I cannot hear me chasing myself around in my head. Something that causes every part of me to be entirely engaged in enjoying the moment.

I am not well-rounded. I am more like one of those weird dice you use for D&D that have big flat sides to fall on that are kinda hard to roll. I don’t have a broad variety of skills, but rather a few things at which I am particularly good.

My mother tells me I could sing before I could talk. That nights when I was 7 or 8 months old, she could hear me making a sighing noise from my crib, little wordless tunes. Nothing else I can do gives me as much pleasure. It lights me up inside and dispels the darkness all around me.

When I am feeling especially in need of something beautiful I will go find a spot with the kind of accoustics you used to only find in church; echoing, ringing, enveloping. I will lift my voice until the sound rolls over and through me raising the hair on the back of my neck and sending shivers through my skin.

Heathen that I am, it’s rather ironic that my voice is best suited for the cathedral. Likewise, I am not much a fan of opera, but I have a Big Voice and a very high range. A vocal coach once marvelled that I could sing several notes higher than the higest not that anyone bothers to write. That capacity to reach those heights has diminished some with age, but a few years ago a friend of mine was making an album and asked me to sing for her. There was a particular sustained note that would overlay parts of the chorus and it was far too high for her range. She had been very generous with her time and helping me record some of my own music, so I was more than happy to oblige. Later, after she had mastered the whole record she presented me with a copy, she told me that all the while she was sequencing the vocals, hers would come through the mixer as a somewhat jagged and uneven line but that when she put my voice through it made a perfect sine wave. This made me giddy.

I sing in the car, I sing at work, I sing at the gym, while I shop, and when I’m riding the bus or walking down the street. Occasionally people look at me with a quizzical or annoyed expression, but for the most part I am happy to say, other people seem to enjoy it when I sing too. Lucky me.

So, where shall we go then?

The Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway

Apart from the sheer beauty of this drive, it is also a sentimental choice. I spent six years living in Gresham, and one of the only ways to entertain yourself was to get in the car and go for a drive in the gorge. Turn up the radio, flip on your headlights, and pile 3 or 4 friends into the car. We’d get out at Multnomah falls and climb up the path in the dark. Or cruise up to Larch Mountain and mount the stairs up to the viewpoint. Crown Point was also a favorite; all lit up at night it is especially romantic.

The road itself is windy and curvy and demands constant attention. One night I was in the car with a fellow who was trying to impress me by taking the curves at a speed I found terrifying rather than exhilarating. He came around one turn so hard that the car fishtailed and the rear end slammed into the cliff face on the passenger side. I was not amused, but I also wasn’t hurt. He did slow down after that.

There are multitude waterfalls, waysides, and scenic spots along this highway. Oneonta gorge requires you to get out of your car and scramble over a giant logjam, but then you are treated to a lovely waterfall tucked far back into the crag. Horsetail is right next to the road, but lovely and worth pausing for.Multnomah falls is certainly lovely, but having seen it more times than I can possibly count, I mainly get out there for the soft serve.

Highway 26 to Cannon Beach and Highway 30 to Portland

I like to take this drive as a loop. Highway 26 west out of town, 101 north through Astoria, and then back along highway 30. Once past Banks, the rolling pastures become a forest replete with Douglas Fir. The trees sometimes grow thickly enough to shade the road almost entirely. This is another windy one, but it’s a broad expanse of road in most cases so doesn’t feel quite as treacherous.

Once you reach the coast you head north on 101 and get to see a fair example of what coastal towns in Oregon can look like. Cannon Beach has more of a village feel. Its shops and restaurants are cozy and quaint and just slightly more sophisticated than some of the other options. Seaside is bustling, but feels like what it is; a tourist town with a rather depressed economy. Astoria has managed to retain much of its vintage charm. Many of the houses are intact perched there on the cliffside. After you’ve been that long in the car it’s nice to get out and climb the 164 steps to the catwalk of the Astoria Column. The vantage on a clear day is stunning. You see the confluence of the Columbia river and Pacific. Looking south Saddle Mountain is prominent, and north you can spot Cape Disappointment on the Washington shore.

If you’re hungry by this time I cannot recommend Fulio’s strongly enough. It is a tiny and intimate Italian bistro right in the midst of downtown Astoria. Every meal I have had there has been phenomenal and both the atmosphere and service are excellent.

Heading north out of Astoria sets your wheels on highway 30. Winding around Oregon’s thumb, the highway leads back to Portland via Ranier, St. Helens, and Scappoose. It also passes the old site of Trojan. The cooling tower is no longer in place, but I always giggle at the notion that Mr Burns might be lurking up in one of the still extant office buildings.

Skyline Boulevard to Germantown Road

For a shorter jaunt, I like to head up Burnside and swing around onto Skyline. This is definitely a windy drive, and not for the inattentive or those prone to motion sickness. The two lane road wends its way across the summit of the west hills. There are beautiful views to the west and down into the Tualatin valley. There are houses grand and humble all perched on the slopes on either side. Most of the best real estate is taken up by the several cemeteries along the way, which are undeniably lovely, but I feel like the view is wasted on dead people.

This route is also a favorite destination for bike riders so caution is crucial when coming around corners. It is all too easy to take a curve too quickly and suddenly find yourself bearing down on a cyclist. Many drivers tend to be altogether too cavalier about this possibility, and I have seen more near misses than i care to think about.

The Skyline Tavern is along this stretch of road, and I am sorry to say, it doesn’t come close to living up to it’s potential. The building is of old weathered clapboard and looks like a rustic cabin from the street. Inside however, it’s pretty much just a typical dive. It’s unfortunate, because with their location, I feel they could do something really amazing. Some decent food would go a long way toward remedying the situation, but they meet OLCC guidelines for serving edibles by stocking microwave corndogs and bags of Fritos. There is a horseshoe pitch in the back as well as a ping-pong table and a fire pit. I would TOTALLY hang out there if they just put a little more effort into offering some kind of snackables that were even remotely palatable.

Skyline stretches all the way out to Scappoose where it intersects with highway 30, but I rarely go all the way out that far. Typically, I like to turn right at Germantown and follow it down through the canopy of trees. There are several places to pull off and gain entrance to Forest Park from this end, and it’s usually less crowded for a hike than some of the portions closer in to downtown. When you wend your way down off of the hilltop, you are treated to a view of the St John’s bridge.

Of course, there are lots of other drives in the area I love to take, and I am especially fond of road trips, but these are the drives I most frequently take; the ones that cure my restlessness, satisfy my desire to be on the go, and give me the chance to feel the pull of gravity in my body when I take those turns just a little faster than I ought.

I am an unabashed lover of all things car.

 From the time I got my first car when I was 16 up until this very day, driving has always been simply one of my very favorite things to do. Grumpy? Go for a drive! Bored? Same! Date? Drive in the Gorge! Sad? Drive to the beach! It’s the first answer to almost any emotional state I am in. It makes me feel adventurous and free, safe and in control all at the same time. It is almost the perfect venue for listening to music as it keeps me occupied but allows me to really attend to the music in a way I would not if I had other tasks to distract me. Most of my best stories are adventures from when it was time to go for a drive…

My Cars:

I’ve had a few, no lie. In chronological order:

#1 Old Blue 1965 Plymouth Valiant. Hand me down from dad with a slant six. He was super fast, but a total death trap. No reverse and the brakes went out on me while I was driving it. A clear head and the awareness that an automatic transmission shifted into 1st WILL slow you down if all else fails probably saved me.

#2 Godiva 1981 Datsun B210 Coupe

She was brown and shaped kinda like a chocolate chip. Starter went out and had to arc the ignition manually from under the hood with a screwdriver for the better part of the year. Powershifted that bitch through the clutch going out for almost that long. She just kept running, until one day, she stopped.

#3 This Car Had No Name 1983 Mazda GLC

That alone should tell you something. It was a nightmare from start to finish. When Godiva died, I decided to go FINANCE something and went to what was at the time the WORST POSSIBLE CAR LOT in town. Seriously, they got sued and lost HARD. They managed to talk me into this POS for something like $3500 (I had NO idea what I was doing, clearly) at 58% interest! Sweet deal huh?? The heat didn’t work, it wouldnt pass DEQ, 5th gear just sort of disappeared after a few days. At this point I was totally fed up. They started coming after me for payments and I was like, you can come get the thing. They threatened to sue me, I said Bring It On. They came and towed it away and I never heard another word.

#4 Lyrica 1989 Toyota Corolla Coupe

I loved this car. It was the first “nice” car I ever had. It was cute as hell and drove really nicely. It had a sporty stance; very low to the ground, and even though it was only a 4 banger had totally decent pickup. After the disaster with the GLCbeast, the  people at the Toyota dealership were really nice and were giving me a FANTASTIC deal at only 39% interest!! God, I was young and had never had parents with credit of any kind… This one had to go by the wayside after my former spouse crashed it into a curb at about 30mph during an ice storm. I contend to this day he did it on purpose cause he hated that car.

#5 Opal 1989 Honda Accord

The next car I had that was truly mine wasn’t until after aforementioned spouse ceased filling that role. This was another hand-me-down, but in this case it was from the boyfriend at the time. It was in fairly good shape, but he’d just bought a Stealth and had no use for a sedan anymore; he was all set with his flesh-colored PenisMobile. Anyway, it was a very nice car to drive most of the time. Apart from when the moonroof collected about a gallon of rainwater that would pour down my back when I took off after a shower without thinking about it. That wasn’t so great. Nice handling, liked the ride a good deal. This car was mostly great because at the time I lived over in Felony Flats and all the Asian kids drove around in souped up Hondas. This one (when it came into my posession, thank you) had an aftermarket spoiler and windows tinted with what appeared to be roofing tar. I put a giant purple daisy sticker in the rear window to alert the police that I was not in fact, an Asian gang member of any kind, I have never been pulled over so many times in my LIFE as when I owned this car. It happened CONSTANTLY. What’s more, the officer would invariably approach my window with a very stern look only to see me and become immediately kind of crestfallen as though inside they were thinking

“Dammit, that is just a white girl and her baby.”

#6 Datsy 1980 Datsun 510

Oh, Datsy.

Remember how I said I loved my Toyota? It was NOTHING compared to how much I loved Datsy. I OWNED this car. I bought it all by myself for $250 and then drove the CRAP out of it for about 5 years. I personally repaired the brakes, dash pad, replaced the instrument cluster, plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor, headlights, replaced a broken window, swapped out the battery, and helped put in a new radiator. That’s RIGHT!!!

I was totally irrationally in love with this car. But she was super fun to drive. Nimble and quick. Stopped on a dime and got me everywhere I needed to go. It wasn’t til I betrayed her by moving to the top of Sylvan hill that she began to remind me she was only 3 years younger than I was and wasn’t really all that keen on hiking up that goddamn hill everyday. Having done it once (just once) on my bicycle, I kind of see her point.

#7 Klaus 1998 Volkswagen Passat

Remember how much I loved Datsy? Well, I loved Klaus even more. He was and is my favorite car ever.

I had a serious crush on this car. I got him custom plates. I put a roof rack and gear atop him. I cried then they crahed into me and broke into him (more than once, thanks much) He was the apple of my eye, and I miss him still.

He was beauiful and drove like a dream. Road hugging, agile, comfortable suspension. The interior had nice appointments, he had a moon roof. I took him skiing and up logging roads, camping and surfing. I drove him to Bend and California, around the Olympic Peninsula, and took him to Reno to see Neko on what remains the most amazing adventure I have ever taken.

And then, because I didn’t know anything about having a nice German car, I killed him. I didn’t know the timing belt would just… break. When I was a kid all the cars would start running like crap when they needed attention in the timing department. Klaus ran great right up til he started making a horrid noise. Then, I drove him for a few more days thinking “I should get to that” but unlike Datsy who I had some hope of actually being able to work on Klaus was too fancy and computerized. Even still, when he finally did die, he did it at home. He wouldn’t leave me by the side of the road, not my baby. Sniff. A testament to how much I loved this car is that I kept it, with fantasies of reparing him, for almost THREE YEARS after he died. I only finally gave up and faced reality in September of this year when I had to explain why I still had a car that didn’t run, but not one that did. And even after all that time, i still cried my head off when I had to let him go.

#7 Sven 1984 Volvo 240

This was only meant to be my emergency back up car while Klaus was waiting to get fixed. I kept him for almost 2 years, but hated him pretty much the whole time. The only thing I can say in favor of this car was that it always started and went. Oh and it also had AMAZING cargo capacity. Other than that, plththftht. Drove like crap, handled horribly, Thing was a tank, had no get up and go. Heavy and cumbersome with ungainly stiff suspension. I really really didn’t care for this car one bit. Hodie agreed. I could, and did, work on him, but it lacked the joy of working on Datsy, cause I didn’t feel that way about Sven.


Ironically, as much as I didn’t really like him, he’s a popular model and brand, so when I sold him with non-working windshield wipers, no overdrive, and a clutch that was going out, I got almost as much for him as I spent on my next much nicer and current car.

#8 Colgate 1991 Subaru Legacy Wagon

Unlike most Oregonians, I am not a Subaru fan, per se. I bought this one mostly because it was a REALLY good price on a car in such good condition and with such low miles. That, and the boy I like really likes Subarus. Ahem. He is toothpaste colored,(the car, not the boy) and a little beat up on the outside, and kinda tempermental about starting at times, but he he solid on the road and was a screaming deal for the $800 I spent. I like him well enough. He has personality, and he’s old enough I feel like I can and will enjoy working on him. His brakes are grinding a bit, in fact, so as soon as I find a relatively warm dry spot to work on that I will. I’m actually even sort of looking forward to it.

Driving is so much a favorite thing of mine, that I haven’t yet exhausted it. After all this talk about cars, I have yet to discuss my favorite drives to take in a car. Tune in tomorrow…

Soon My Precious, Soon...

November 10th, 2010Updated 4:30 PM


WIND: SE @ 1-6 mph

NEW SNOWFALL (in past 24 hours): 11 in.

SNOWFALL (in past 72 hours): 27 in.

BASE DEPTH: 31 in.



NOTES: Bruno’s and Pucci scheduled to operate tomorrow from 9am-4pm! We have a rails only park set up on Thunder!

Poor Irulan.

Being an intergalactic pawn must be awful. She is never allowed to have her own destiny, it was hijacked at birth by the Bene Gesserit breeding program. Her husband sees her as a necessary evil and won’t lay a finger on her. Her father never valued her as anything more than a political tool. Really, I pity her. She does little to endear herself to anybody, I’ll admit, but I still think she deserved better than she got.

But I digress…

Frank Herbert created a universe unto itself. There are echoes of Earth, but they are distant indeed. The feudal rule enacted across galaxies is perhaps the most romantic, but the Orange Catholics also hearken back quite clearly. An enthralling admixture of politics, mysticism, social commentary, and psychedelic journey, Dune manages to touch some of the most deeply meaningful aspects of human reality all while offering a thrilling adventure story in the offing.

This book is, however, a challenge. It is dense and byzantine in the truest sense of the word; the political maneuvering and machinations of various clans, houses, factions, and religious orders is dizzying at times. Herbert manages to stay flawlesslyconsistent in his details, and this alone could stand as a mark of his genius. Even the most determined reader might occasionally balk at the laberinthine course of this tale.

For all of that, it is nevertheless compelling enough to make one press on. Reading this book never feels like a chore so much as a complete departure from reality. The details are rich and engage all the senses. The way Herbert describes the arid landscape of Arrakkis, our Dune planet, surpasses anything a human from our gloriously hydrated world could ever truly relate to. It makes one conscious of the tongue sent out to wet the lips; we are parched by proxy. I am profoundly aware of the luxury of submerging my bare flesh in a substance so precious, the Fremen would kill for the portion of it left inside my skin.

This book has fans who are not only devoted, but in some cases, rabid. Just as easily (perhaps even more so) as L. Ron Hubbard turned Dianetics into a cult, so too could have Herbert. His own ethics caused him to dismiss this notion as rightfully absurd (though someone once pointed out that we could easily call them the Bene Jesuits) but it was by no means because there was insufficient passion for the notion, or fodder for the purpose to be gleaned from the novel. 

It’s capacity to do so marks it out as a true classic of literature. Science fiction is often sidelined as trivial and not worthy of status equal to Dickens or Austen. However, in the best examples of the genre, the human imagination is unhampered by the bounds of reality, yet can reveal more truth about the universe we can see as well as what we can only imagine. It is liberating and deserves as much reverence as any other form of truth revealed upon the page.

Ayn Rand was kind of a crazy bitch. I do not say this to dismiss her, I say it because although I find many of the themes she champions to have a profound resonance for me, I find her sort of personally repugnant.

I read a biography called Goddess of the Market By Jennifer Burns and though it is clear the author is not much in sympathy with Ayn’s views, she turned a fairly dispassionate eye on her life and actions. Ayn was a bit of a megalomaniac, and being one myself, I can relate to that part, but her absolute certainty that her own rationale was the only evidence she needed to support her sometimes outlandish claims flies in the face of sound decision making.

All that being said, The Fountainhead is a truly engaging novel about the ways in which well-meaning people with an overdose of white guilt can undermine the efforts of genius. And also, masochism.

The female lead in this story is utterly unlike any woman I have ever met. I understand she is meant to represent Ayn’s feminine ideal, but it is a truly fascinating experience to read a female character, written by a woman who also happens to be a raging misogynist. I can relate to her feelings; some women are wretches. But her wholesale conviction of the female of the species seems, like many of her views, partially justifiable but wholly overwrought.

Dominique fails to convince as a person, let alone a woman. In almost every instance she behaves in a way the defies reason, let alone natural human feeling. When she realizes she loves our protagonist, she forces herself to marry his rival to punish herself and him, for reasons that really don’t make bunches of sense. Ayn subjects this character to a rape that she romanticizes to the point where rather than feeling violated, Dominique feels freed of her pesky virginity and liberated to abuse herself some more, if that was what her attacker thought was best.

Howard Roark is more of an archetype even than his lady love. But he manages to seem more feasible than her because Ayn invests him with some vulnerability, even if it’s hard to see at first. He truly is a genius, thwarted by circumstance and jealousy, as well as his own unwillingness to compromise.

All of the forces and folks arrayed against the protagonists are caricatures meant to make a point about what Ayn saw as the terrifying slide of our capitalist system toward a socialist/communist nightmare like the one from which she fled in the USSR. Her fear and loathing of the type of  “government” serving as a legitimizing force for the abominations that Stalin enacted on his people is understandable, but her slippery slope mentality was a classic fallacy of logic and unlikely to amount to her dire predictions. 

Now, you might be a little confused so far, as this book is listed as one of my favorites, and thusfar I’ve kinda taken it to pieces. I did this mainly because I like it to be clear that I love it in spite of it’s rather glaring flaws. I am not unaware of them, I just see the entire as worthwhile and rewarding even with all of these things in mind.

Despite the extremity of her position, and the exaggerated tendencies of her characters, Rand manages to point out some rather disturbing undercurrents in American political ans social culture. She mocks the entrenchment of the intellegensia, and their fear of  accepted wisdom being challenged in significant ways; this classically because their position is assured by the conventional wisdom, and where would they be without it? She also points out the fundamentally patronizing and frighteningly persistant attitude that government is somehow better equipped to dictate the structure of it’s citizens lives than they might do themselves. She cunningly illustrates the frightening potential of mob rule, and questions why utilitarianism has become just cause to deprive individuals of their rights and the products of their toil. 

Whatever your political bent may be, her critique of the nanny state has moments of luminous clarity, and is phrased in evocative language which has captured the imagination of generations. And though I do not agree with everything she says, I owe her a debt of gratitude for being a voice that could articulate the dignity of the human spirit in the face of oppression, and explicate the value of a reasoned struggle against political forces that serve to undermine liberty.

If you haven’t seen The Sixth Sense, some of the ranting in this post won’t make sense. Even if you HAVE seen The Sixth Sense, it might not, but I feel like it has to be said: Somebody’s a Fuckin Thief. More on that later

This book is actually composed of two novellas. The first is called Sabella: The Bloodstone and is a gothic sci-fi mystery romance. Sabella is the preternaturally beautiful and seductive focus of the tale. She narrates the course of her life in vignettes and outtakes slowly revealing that on her far space colony of Novo Mars, she is in fact one of the old inhabitants reborn; She’s a vampire.

It has it’s advantages, but she’s fairly paranoid all things considered. As she puts it “I’m a lady who’s past is all littered with dead gentlemen callers” She didn’t start out as a vampire, and what happened to her is part of the mystery, but she carries around a palpable sense of guilt for her feeding habits and tries in various ways to repent for her sins.

Ultimately she finds herself with a nemesis, Jace. He’s hot on her trail and seems to have a good idea of what she’s been up to. Jace is determined to make her answer for her actions. As she runs away from her pursuer, she runs toward the remnants of the Christian faith, imported from Earth. She finds herself sitting in a church whispering in Latin

De profundus clamave. Ad te domine. Domine exaude voca meam

Out of the depths oh, lord I have cried to you. Hear my voice.*

When Jace finally catches her, he does not punish her as she expects, but shows her a truth that sets her free of her guilt and teaches her a new way to live. And rather than being based on religion, it’s all about sex. I’m for it.

The second novella is Kill The Dead

In this story Parl Dro is a famous exorcist who travels the landscape leaving his legend to grow as long as his shadow at dusk. His history is melancholy and mostly solitare, but when he does come into contact with other people, his energy and seventh sense tend to impact the course of events rather profoundly.

We begin on a hillside on the outskirts of a small village. When Parl comes down out of the mountains, he can sense the presence of the undead in a leaning house by the wayside. It happens that unlike in some cases, where his services are welcome and wanted, here the ghost in residence is there due to the conjuring of her still living witch-gifted sister. She was called back from the spirit world as means to assuage the guilt the still living sister Ciddy felt after she killed her sister Cilny in the first place. She’s a charming girl, really.

When Parl sends Ciddy on her way to the next world, Cilny is incensed and driven to a mad rage that no human means of revenge could ever satisfy. She goes to the length of drowning herself to exact the particular brand of retribution she has picked out for the ghost-killer.

Meanwhile, back in the village, Parl has made the acquaintance of one Mayal; a minstrel who’s skills mark him as singularly gifted, but leave him generally despised. He hopes to write a song which will make his fortune, and when he sees the famous Dro, he decides to follow him about and try to make a ballad from his exploits.

Less than thrilled with this addition to his journey, Parl attempts to leave Mayal behind more than once. Somehow though, Mayal manages to find him nevertheless. After he catches Parl up a second time, it become clear that not only is Mayal following him, so too is the vengeance bent Ciddy. Dro attempts to exorcise her in the customary manner, but for some reason fail to send her away entirely.

Worried that Ciddy has latched on to Mayal as a source of ongoing energy for her weird pseudo-life Parl keeps the minstrel with him to try and rid them both of her presence once and for all.

Various and sundry transpires, but the ultimate confrontation reveals that Parl is no ordinary ghost killer; no indeed much to his own and everyone else’s surprise he too is a ghost**
There are other revelations I’ll spare you, but it is an engaging tale with more twists than I just gave away for the sake of the following rant…
The Sixth Sense is a move about a kid who is having a hard time because he has the uncanny power of being able to see the spirits of dead people. He has various adventures in the course of coming to terms with this truth. Like when he goes into a church, and in the background we hear the following phrase in Latin:

De profundus clamave. Ad te domine. Domine exaude voca meam

Out of the depths oh, lord I have cried to you. Hear my voice.

Huh. Okay. “But Autumn,” you say “Latin phrases appear everywhere! This isn’t that unusual!”
We are forced to remember that the person who is most crucial to the process of saving the charming young fella much to his own surprise, he too is a ghost
When I watched this film, I SCOURED the credits for ANY MENTION of Tanith Lee (the author of the book that is herein reviewed) and there was none. Therefore, someone is a fuckin’ thief. Because even though there are lots of differences and plot elements and blah blah blah, there is CLEARLY some inspiration drawn from this book, and no acknowledgement of same and that pisses me off. Plus, anyone who goes by M.Night is a wankjob anyways.

But, despite the ranty digression, I do love this book.

*This will be important for the ranting

**This too.

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