August 7th, 2007

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Todd Schorr: The Spectre of Monster Appeal

Putting a point on his claws with the wall-mounted sharpener, Furry Hackerman began pasting up the latest issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. He employed his claws to spike various articles in anticipation of immediate need. At one point in his compositional routine, when all his claws held multiple articles, and other gluey snippets had stuck accidentally to his hairy form, Hackerman the editor looked as if he had fought a battle with the Sunday edition of the MONSTERVILLE TIMES and lost.

Hackerman's furry, fanged, fiery-eyed face wore a look of intense concentration. He was trying to decide which piece would be the lead this issue.


The first item focused on the new Roger Goreman film, CORPORATIONS ATE MY FUTURE! A real thriller-diller, starring those hairless apes which had suddenly become Hollywood's latest monster of the moment. Of course, no hairless apes actually existed any longer in Hackerman's world. The players in these films were all shaved werewolves (Hackerman's own species) or giant salamanders with many prosthetics and much makeup or trolls in rubber suits. But the very memory of these so-called "humans" and their incredibly bizarre society as it had once existed in genetic isolation on the island of Madagascar was still potent enough to generate boffo box-office.

The second item related to John Carpenter-Ant's LEGISLATURE OF HELL! Another hairless ape spooktacular. There were some really effective scenes here of humans drooling as they affixed their signatures in blood to the deadly legislation. Those shots would play well with Hackerman's juvenile audience of young ghouls and goblins.

In the end, Hackerman went with LEGISLATURE OF HELL!

Hours passed as the editor continued to paste-up the issue. Around eleven, his secretary entered, bearing a steaming cup of grue. Trixie Frankenstein's tall column of lightning-streaked hair barely cleared the doorframe.

"Furry, it's time for your break. You'll work yourself senseless if you go on like this."

"Hey, baby, life's short. I'll sleep when I'm undead!"

The Lemon Houses

I'm writing a story set in and around Lake Garda in Italy called The Lemon Houses--lemon houses are these curious constructions built to house individual lemon trees, made of stone with high pillars, enclosed by walls on three sides. You see their ruins all around the lake, standing in crumbling rows, usually high on a hillside. I imagine they were built to give the trees some protection against the harsh winters (Garda is the most northern place where serious citrus crops were cultivated and the Alps are only a few hours' drive away). My landlady told me something about how the lemon houses did something more for the trees, the combination of sun off stone being good for lemons...or something. She only spoke Italian and I had Spanish. We managed to communicate about the basics, but explication was beyond us. It's not important--the main character in the story is, like me, not a stickler for detail--but I wonder if I'm not missing some ttick. Anyway, it's a fun story to write, and Lake Garda has to be among the most beautiful lakes in the world, turquoise water surrounded by rugged, much-folded hills, where the wind blows constantly--a wind surfer's paradise. Too many tourists right down on the shore for my taste. We had an apartment high in the hills above the water. I'd like to go back in the spring or early fall.

Writing another story set in Semana Negra...about this sidewalk cafe ffrom which, if you sat near the door of the place, you had no view of the sky. The way the city of Gigon bunched around you, the buildings set along old cow- or goat-trails, allowed for all sorts of weird perspectives, and since I only have one working eye, this made perspectives of the sort even odder. I asked my kid, an architect, why these perspectives seemed so foreign, and he gave me the idea for the story...kind of based on a Magritte painting entitled, The Blank Cheque, and on the way things were perceived during the Middle Ages.

It's so weird being back in the States. I was only gone three weeks, but I feel like I did when I was 19 and blowing around Asia Minor fpr a couple of years, winding up in Afghanistan, and then, on a whim, flying from Kabul to Munich and Munich to NYC, and feeling absolutely like an alien visiting a new planet. I wonder why I feel so disoriented--maybe this trip was the straw that broke the camel's back and finally broke through my defenses andmade me aware of stuff I'd only been giving lip service to...I don't know. What I do know is that I can't get the country to fit back aound me yet and that's a buggy feeling,

Ok, I've babbled long enough. Next week I have to go see the Invasion, the third (or is it the fouth) remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It's possible that this steaming pile of celluloid will smack me in the face and drop me back in my old shoes, bu if that doesn't work...