Airy Persiflage
Ubu Roi 2020 read project, Act 1, scenes 1-7

Ubu Roi 2020 read project, Act 1, scenes 1-7

November 21, 2020

Ubu Roi cover, New Direction Paperback version

Ubu Roi is one of the great theatrical works of French Absurdism and satire.  Written by Alfred Jarry in the waning years of the 19th century, it was performed in 1896at the Théâtre de l'Œuvre, causing such a controversial response in the audience it opened and closed on December 10, 1896.  Ubu Roi is a hard play to characterize-- at some points childish and other points sardonic, with a reliance on shock value to force his point.  Jarry made use of an overabundance of swearing in this piece so appropriate trigger warnings for over the top vulgarity apply.  I do all the voices here so I'm relying on the somewhat artificial instrument of narrating the characters, action and scenes before each scene.  I know it's clunky but I've never read a play out loud before, and it will have to do! 

How the World Was Saved, by Stanislaw Lem

How the World Was Saved, by Stanislaw Lem

September 10, 2020

Cyberiad Book Cover

This is a very short story by the Polish science fiction writer Stanslaw Lem.  Lem was a great writer that was capable of creating humorous short stories with noticeable themes.  This story was collected in he Cyberiad, a collection of stories about the robot "constructors" Trurl and Klapaucius. When they're not constructing machines for various marvelous purposes, they travel to other worlds in their universe, all inhabited by robots,many of which have medieval-like societies with kings, knights, and princesses, and which sometimes need rescuing from tyrants. Some of the stories parody traditional fairy tales and knightly romances, while some parody other aspects of traditional and contemporary science and culture.  Lem is a treat to read and easy to narrate out loud, although the rhythm of his sentences can get a little challenging.  I hope you enjoy this.  

The Unfortunate Lad (Traditional Folk Song)

The Unfortunate Lad (Traditional Folk Song)

September 2, 2020

This is a version of a very old song that probably dates to the 1740s in England (or so).  It is sung A cappella by your humble narrator.  If it sounds kind of chanty and familiar, there is some evidence that this song, "the Unfortunate Lad" or the Unfortunate Rake, or the Unfortunate Soldier or the Dying Cowboy.. or perhaps its most famous incarnation the Streets of Laredo, has been repeated for more than a hundred years, transmogrified to different settings and situations to fit the current year and popularized over and over again.  At the heart of it, it's a mournful little ditty about a man clearly dying of syphilis giving practical instructions for his burial to bury him quickly and bring flowers to distract from his corpse putrefying.  Cheerful stuff!  There are many versions of the lyrics.  I decided to give the version sang by Brendan Gleason in the recent movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs a go, for their brevity and feeling.  With your kind forbearance, here we go:

A Date in the City Room, by Talbot Johns

A Date in the City Room, by Talbot Johns

August 27, 2020

Two friends keep a weird rendezvous

Published in Weird Tales, January 1939.  A nice twisty ending story with some broad hints.  Trying out my new microphone mount.  Still getting a tinny sound, I have to work on that.  

The Tale of Satampra Zeiros by Clark Ashton Smith

The Tale of Satampra Zeiros by Clark Ashton Smith

August 26, 2020

Nov 31 issue of Weird Tales. Read it here

This is not read by Walter O'Hara, but by a Youtube channel called HorrorBabble.  I subscribe to them because their production values are very good and their narrator, Ian Gordon, has a voice that could make an angry wolverine purr.  I encourage you to subscribe.  I don't normally promote another channel but I really enjoy their work.  

The story, the Tale of Satampra Zeiros, is by another favorite of mine, Clark Ashton Smith, whom I judge to be Lovecraft's superior (albeit a near run thing).  I like reading CAS's literary output but he rarely wrote short short stories like this one.  This short story is the memoir of two thieves that break into the ancient capital of Hyperborea, and what horrors awaited them there.  Scary Tentacle-y goodness, that's what.  Enjoy, and subscribe to Horrobabble.  

 

The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl, by Ray Bradbury

The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl, by Ray Bradbury

August 25, 2020

picture from "Touch and Go" from Eerie Comics, a retelling of this story.

This is a memorable short story from Ray Bradbury, most notable as an influential science fiction writer from the 1940s through the 1980s.  I was reading "Choke! Gasp! The Best of 75 years of EC Comics" today and the story illustrated above, "Touch and Go" seemed incredibly familiar.  It took a little digging to jog my memory but I remembered the story and the source, a short story by Bradbury published in Detective Magazine in 1948 (as "Touch and Go", then renamed for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine as "the Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl").  Bradbury isn't credited in the EC Comics anthology, so I hope he got paid.  It's a great short story about paranoia and obsession.  

Read by Walter O'Hara, written by Ray Bradbury, 1948

The Fungi from Yuggoth, by HP Lovecraft, Tenth (and final) reading, Parts 31-36

The Fungi from Yuggoth, by HP Lovecraft, Tenth (and final) reading, Parts 31-36

July 14, 2020

And thus we come to the end of Lovecraft's epic poem, the Fungi from Yuggoth, which has ranged all over the place.  I've enjoyed this project, it's been ambitious.  Thirty Six Stanzas!! 

I apologize for some of the audio spikes here and there.. my older snowball microphone may be giving up the ghost.  Fortunately, I have a replacement.

XXXI. The Dweller
The narrator enters a dream city version of Babylon where he saw a series on unearthed tombs opening to release walked out and into a 'gate of eternal night'.

XXXII. Alienation
The narrator then describes a man whose body has passed across space and saw many planets including Yaddith and then came back unable to perceive the world the same way again.

XXXIII. Harbour Whistles
The narrator describes harbor whistles in a night-lit town to meet a shipping line of mysterious forces manifesting into cosmic drones, and left with little sign they were there after that.

XXXIV. Recapture
The narrator entered the gate and was lead down to enter a lava-covered monstrous mound that had stairs not fit for a man, shrieking at him.

XXXV. Evening Star
An evening star shined on the narrator from the shades of a meadow, grown bigger, showing him pictures that he depicts as calling from home.

XXXVI. Continuity
The narrator then enters an aether linked to all the laws of time and space, locking dimensions, and one beam of light sent him back home on old farm building set against a hill.

Previous Reads:

First Reading Parts 1 & 2: The Book and Pursuit
Second Reading Parts 3 & 4: The Key and Recognition
Third Reading Parts 5 & 6: Homecoming and The Lamp
Fourth Reading Parts 7-9: Zaman's Hill, The Port & The Courtyard
Fifth Reading Parts 10-14: The Pigeon Flyers, The Well, Hesperia & The Star Winds
Sixth Reading Parts 15-18: Antartakos, The Window, A Memory & Gardens of Yin
Seventh Reading Parts 19-22: The Bells, Night Gaunts, Nyarlathotep & Azathoth
Eighth Reading Parts 23-26: The Mirage, The Canal, St. Toad's & The Familiars
Ninth Reading Parts 27-30: The Elder Pharos, Expentency, Nostalgia & Background
Tenth (Final) Reading Parts 31-36: The Dweller, Alienation, Harbour Whistles, Recapture, Evening Star & Continuity

Thank you for your patience thus far.  This ends the reading.

PLAGUE READINGS

The Fungi from Yuggoth, by HP Lovecraft, Ninth Reading, Parts 27-30

The Fungi from Yuggoth, by HP Lovecraft, Ninth Reading, Parts 27-30

July 8, 2020

The Fungi From Yuggoth

I haven't recorded in a while and wanted to catch up with the Yuggoth Project.  The Great Plague reading of THE FUNGI FROM YUGGOTH is nearing an end.  In this 9th reading, I read parts 27, 28, 29 and 30.  Only one more reading to go, I think.

XXVII. The Elder Pharos
In the sight of Leng, the narrator sees a ray of blue light that is said to come from a pharos in a stone tower where the last Elder One lives and talks to a figure with a yellow mask.

XXVIII. Expectancy
The narrator views an alluring light in the horizon where a 'breathless vague expectancy' shines across city spires and forests, that he claims makes life worth living.

XXIX. Nostalgia
The narrator enters a shore where he describes birds flying off and looking for an old shore that was their home in an endless horizon of ocean, and the shore has actually been sunken by alien polyps.

XXX. Background
The narrator goes to a village after seeing a light there, and finds that it's familiar to him from an old dream, inhabited by wraiths, who all respectfully give him space 'for eternity', seemingly recognizing him.

Previous Reads:

First Reading Parts 1 & 2: The Book and Pursuit
Second Reading Parts 3 & 4: The Key and Recognition
Third Reading Parts 5 & 6: Homecoming and The Lamp
Fourth Reading Parts 7-9: Zaman's Hill, The Port & The Courtyard
Fifth Reading Parts 10-14: The Pigeon Flyers, The Well, Hesperia & The Star Winds
Sixth Reading Parts 15-18: Antartakos, The Window, A Memory & Gardens of Yin
Seventh Reading Parts 19-22: The Bells, Night Gaunts, Nyarlathotep & Azathoth
Eighth Reading Parts 23-26: The Mirage, The Canal, St. Toad's & The Familiars

Thank you for your patience thus far.  

PLAGUE READINGS

The Oracle, by Robert Bloch

The Oracle, by Robert Bloch

June 14, 2020

An Oracle

Robert Bloch wrote hundreds of short stories and over 30 novels. He was one of the youngest members of the Lovecraft Circle and began his professional writing career immediately after graduation, aged 17. He was a protégé of Lovecraft who was the first to seriously encourage his talent. However, while Bloch started his career by emulating Lovecraft and his brand of Cosmic Horror, he later specialized in crime and horror stories dealing with a more psychological approach.

Bloch was a contributor to pulp magazines such as Weird Tales in his early career, and was also a prolific screenwriter and a major contributor to fanzines and fandom in general.  Of course he is most easily identified as the author PSYCHO, the novel and screenplay, and sequels. ORACLE is a short story published in Penthouse, in 1971.  

The Abominations of Yondo, by Clark Ashton Smith

The Abominations of Yondo, by Clark Ashton Smith

June 12, 2020

 

Abominations Cover

I remain resolved to continue to add more Clark Ashton Smith material to Airy Persiflage.  Smith's wordplay has always delighted me; where his contemporary (and friend) Lovecraft could wax prolix page after page, Smith was both more economical in his word choice and more grandiloquent.  Both writers remind us of the potential and choices available in the English language, yet Smith, alone, always makes me scratch my head in wonder.  It's not every day I use fulvous, or hoary genii, or caparisoned.  In any event, here is Abominations, written in (probably) 1930 and often published in collections.  Forgive my sound quality.  I'm not using my favorite Microphone tonight.  

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