Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Two For One

I keep casting about for themes for story ideas. Just looking for something that crackles and energizes a plot. Last night, looking at myself in the mirror, I gave consideration to the old concept of the doppleganger. Good enough for Poe. Good enough for me.

A doppleganger is defined as

Etymology: German Doppelgänger, from doppel- double + -gänger goer
Date: 1851
1: a ghostly counterpart of a living person

2 a: double 2a b: alter ego b c: a person who has the same name as another

This concept of duality deserves a greater examination than is about to be offered on a blog, but it's intriguing to think of how fascinated we have been with this concept through history. Good and Evil. Christ and Anti-Christ. What would happen if when looking in the mirror we thought that there was something different about the image staring back at us, something unaccountable?

Is there horror to be found in this concept? Not overtly. But I think the idea mines discomfort from the need for individuality. If there is a doppleganger out there, then perhaps we aren't so unique. And perhaps everything we thought we knew about the nature of existence, or at least or place in existence, can be called into question.

Some folk truly believe in the idea of their double being out there somewhere. Some have explained it as a manifestation of out of body travel.

Consider if you will the case of Emilie Sagee. With thirteen students looking on, this 32 year old French woman was writing lessons on a classboard when her exact double appeared next to her, writing as she wrote. I think the documentation on this is questionable, probably an 1800's version of tabloid journalism, but it still captures the imagination.

And although we don't know of Sagee, we do know the names Guy De Maupassant, Percy Byron Shelley, and Queen Elizabeth---all three claimed to have seen their double at one time or another.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tim Curran

I went to another convention and another book signing. There I had the opportunity to meet Tim Curran, author of "Hive" and "Dead Sea". And while the picture to the left is definitely of someone called Tim Curran, it isn't the Tim Curran I met.

A resident of that distant place in Michigan's Upper Peninsula called Esconaba (funny, he didn't sound like a 'Yooper'), he was also at the convention to promote his work. High forehead, round cheeks, dark brown hair with reddish highlights, playful eyes and a devilish goatee, Curran was a pleasure to talk to. He is funny and down to earth. Wry wit.

One thing that impressed me was Curran's passion about his writing and his research. " Hive", a sequel to Lovecraft's "At The Mountains Of Madness", is set in the Antarctic. Curran had contact with numerous people currently engaged in work at different Antarctic weather stations to make sure that his descriptions of the landscape were correct as well as his understanding of the science in his work.

I'm still looking forward to having an opportunity to meeting Stephen Mark Rainey, Charles Gramlich, or Sidney Williams some time. You never know where the flow of writing and promotion will carry you.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Dead Beat

I have kids in school who are only there so they can collect social security check. I remember one kid who received money from the government who would run out and buy large boxes of beef jerky to cram them into his locker. On one shelf beef jerky, on another a box of condoms.

I'm not criticising people who need a leg up, but sometimes what people will do in the name of fraud is worth noting. For instance, the Associated Press is circulating a story about two men who were busted for wheeling a corpse into a Pay-O-Matic to cash the dead guy's social security check. According to the article: "The witnesses saw the two men pushing a chair with the deceased flopping from side to side." I immediate thought about "Weekend at Bernies".

Apparently the two men left the body outside and went in to cash the check. As they did so a group of people began gathering around the corpse (go figure) until they attracted the attention of a police officer lunching at a diner across the street. The two were arrested for fraud while the dead guy, not charged, was released to the morgue.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Amazing Tatas!!!

As I read a projection that gasoline prices were likely to rise to four dollars a gallon in the U.S. this summer, I became depressed. Then I thought about Tatas. Tatas always cheer me, but more so when I read an account in Business Week and the BBC detailing that the Tata Motor Company is going to be producing a car which will cost about three dollars a tank to power. The vehicle, you see, is powered by air.

Air. Compressed air. Want to read more? Check out these Tatas. And these.

True, I can fume over Bush's past decision to cast a blind eye to this technology, looking instead to ethanol, an expensive alternative which is driving up food costs. I can fume that the Big Three have ignored such options, whining instead about energy standards and labor costs. But I won't. I will instead take heart at the development of a technology that will make a tremendous splash internationally, forcing automakers to re-examine their priorities. If the Air Car can be embraced and properly promoted, marketed and supported by American corporate know-how, the Middle Eastern stranglehold on oil can be reduced. Not eliminated, but reduced.

So here's to the future and to ingenuity borne of necessity.