I was reminded of this timely song when discussing an odd 7th century burial at Norsborg with my friend Dr. Ing-Marie Back Danielsson. The buried individual has been murdered, which triggered the association.
I seem to be on a poetry roll here, kids.
When I was 14, Citadel Miniatures put out a small run of a novelty pewter miniature named Sanity Claws: a tentacled menacing monstrosity for the festive season. And now Norm Sherman of the Drabblecast, whom I do not hesitate to call a genius and an Elder God, has written a Lovecraftian poem on the same theme (in all likelihood quite independently of that 1986 pewter giggle-shudder item). Hear Norm perform the poem on the Drabblecast’s Christmas Special!
‘Twas the Night
By Norm Sherman
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the edifice
Not a creature was stirring, neither mouse nor St. Nicolas
The stockings were hung by the aperture gaping
Where smoke, in its wisdom, had ere been escaping
Downstairs my uncle was strapped down in bed
While visions of ichor danced round in his head
His nightmares of late had been growing much stronger
And sense dared not trespass his mind any longer
Once a learned professor at Brown University
My great-uncle had often, in secret, conversed with me
In his study at night, over manuscripts moldering
With a pipe at his lips, always lambent and smoldering
All that research of his, into cults esoteric
Strange symbols and glyphs and arcane numerics
Of that Dutch survey crew and their frenzied report
Of a vast arctic city filled with sunken-faced dwarves
And that journal recovered from one ‘Ensign Lamar’
Which references “He that rides beasts through the stars”
Gloaming and heaving with corpulent dread
Bloated, batrachian and covered in red
And there’s the relic in my uncle’s display
A four-sided top carved of wood, or some clay
With symbols engraved into each of its sides
That surely must tell of coming end time
I was pondering this manifold doom that would smite us
When out from my window shone a miasmal brightness
How the pale gibbous moon shone down on his back
Which bulged with the throngs of some hideous sack
With some alien ululations in a primordial tongue
He froze me in place, and unable to run
I was forced to be witness to things vile and foul
So unspeakably horrid I can scarce speak them now
He summoned his steeds by their blasphemous names
And with his gangrenous grasp he pulled down on their reins
Then suddenly upwards that noxious horde flew
That red-bellied nightmare rising up from my view
Cacodemoniacal laughter I heard from my roof
And the lumbering clomps of thick octopoid hooves
Then repugnant and hoary, his stench filled the air
While he writhed down my chimney as I watched from the stairs
He spoke not a sound as then off from his back
He heaved up that thick throbbing cyst of a sack
And from it a stench came so charnel and dense
That I nearly passed out when he drew from it thence:
An Amazon Kindle, and a few pairs of nice socks
A sweater, a tie, and Call of Duty: Black Ops
Law and Order Season V on Blueray DVD
And an espresso machine (hope he kept that receipt)
Then all at once swung round this tenebrous being
And with dark ancient eyes of unfathomable seeing
Their biliferous blackness spanning eons extinct
Revealing my own maddening fate, with a wink
Then into that monolith of chimney he lurched
With the gelatinous frenzy of invertebrate birth
Ripping free to the roof he launched into the night
With a vow to return when the stars are just right
Miniature by Bob Naismith, painted and photographed by Steve of the Bleaseworld gaming blog.
When I turned 25 my friend Sanna gave me a little poetry anthology that I have since treasured. Kathryn & Ross Petras’s Very Bad Poetry (1997) is a lovely read. One of the versifiers most voluminously represented there is W.T. McGonagall (1830-1902). After quoting his words, “The most startling incident in my life was the time I discovered myself to be a poet”, the Petrases comment, “Many people in his native Dundee, Scotland, apparently disagreed with his discovery.”
Here is McGonagall’s “The Death of Lord and Lady Dalhousie“.
Alas! Lord and Lady Dalhousie are dead, and buried at last,
Which causes many people to feel a little downcast;
And both lie side by side in one grave,
But I hope God in His goodness their souls will save.
[I omit eight stanzas that cover Lord Dalhousie’s CV.]
‘Twas in the year of 1887, and on Thursday the 1st of December,
Which his relatives and friends will long remember
That were present at the funeral in Cockpen churchyard,
Because they had for the noble Lord a great regard.
About eleven o’clock the remains reached Dalhousie,
And were met by a body of the tenantry.
They conveyed them inside the building all seemingly woebegone
And among those that sent wreaths was Lord Claude Hamilton.
Those that sent wreaths were but very few,
But one in particular was the Duke of Buccleuch;
Besides Dr. Herbert Spencer, and Countess Rosebery, and Lady Bennett,
Which no doubt were sent by them with heartfelt regret.
Besides those that sent wreaths in addition were the Earl and Countess of Aberdeen,
Especially the Prince of Wales’ was most lovely to be seen,
And the Earl of Dalkeith’s wreath was very pretty too,
With a mixture of green and white flowers, beautiful to view.
Amongst those present at the interment were Mr Marjoribanks, M.P.,
Also ex-Provost Ballingall from Bonnie Dundee;
Besides the Honourable W. G. Colville, representing the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh,
While in every one’s face standing at the grave was depicted sorrow.
The funeral service was conducted in the Church of Cockpen
By the Rev. J. Crabb, of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, town of Brechin;
And as the two coffins were lowered into their last resting place,
Then the people retired with sad hearts at a quick pace.
Update 18 January: Dear Reader John Tierney has posted this blog’s first audio comment, where he mentions that he actually excavated at Cockpen churchyard 20 years ago, using “a long-handled Irish spade”. Here’s the site report.
A Gambian moment.
We’re in an extremely dilapidated taxi that has stalled at the roadside, just a stone’s throw from Tanji village’s main taxi hub. Before getting into the car, my wife and I had to haggle for ten minutes with the drivers assembled there under the dull gaze of the village idiot. And then we were accused of rich white chauvinism by an angry man whose whole family the assembled drivers forced to change cars because of us. But now the car has stalled, and no amount of joining the two wires dangling under the wheel will get it to go.
All the windows are open in the afternoon heat. The driver is filling gas into the vehicle from a battered plastic container. There is a smell of fish and gasoline.
Tanji is a fishing harbour where the catch is smoked, dried and packed. While we wait for the car to possibly get going again, a white-bearded fellow in a pill-box hat comes up to my window, dignified and in no hurry, and asks me, “Do you need a fish?”.
Thanks to Dear Reader Kate L.
Last night I attended Junior’s school concert in the church of St. Catherine in Stockholm. Here are some of the lyrics sung by the 13-14-year-olds in front of the altar.
Because the world is round it turns me on
Because the wind is high it blows my mind
“Because”, Lennon & McCartney
Night-time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon their defenses
Slowly, gently night unfurls its splendor
Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender
Turn your face away from the garish light of day
Turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light
And listen to the music of the night
Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before
Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar
And you’ll live as you’ve never lived before
Softly, deftly, music shall caress you
Hear it, feel it secretly posses you
Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind
in this darkness that you know you cannot find
The darkness of the music of the night
Let your mind start to journey through a strange new world
Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before
Let your soul take you where you long to be
Only then can you belong to me
Floating, folding, sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me savor each sensation
Let the dream begin, let your darker side
give in to the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night
You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night
Charles Hart, “The Music of the Night”, from The Phantom of the Opera
Welcome to the Church of Sweden!
A buddy and namesake of mine has a father who is a literature scholar. He wrote his thesis on absurdist drama, Beckett and Ionesco, that sort of thing. This influenced his son’s vocabulary. Once about 1970, when the scholar was out on a walk with his little boy in a stroller, they passed a large tractor and a group of people. The boy was greatly impressed by the tractor, pointed to it and exclaimed, “Absurd tractor!”. The bystanders stared in amazement.
One of the perks of keeping a well-visited blog is that you get to spy on people using search engines. Extreme Tracking keeps a list for me of the latest search terms which have led people to Aard. It turns out that they’re always largely porn surfers. My entry about the German locksmith who has four children with his long-lost sister / common-law wife attracts continual interest from people who are probably really disappointed to find nothing prurient there. And there’s always the people who mistype “big booty” and end up at my entry about Iron Age war booty found sacrificed in bogs.
Before we move on to the sex advice, here are a few good search terms I’ve collected lately. Remember, all of these are actual phrases that somebody searched for, and which led them to Aard.
- “statistically fucked” (What are my chances?)
- “maximum times woman want be fucked” (The public demands to know!)
- “rude photos of viking goddess freya”
- “brother and sister together we’ll make sex”
- “girl console oneself picture” (Lovely way to express it.)
- “is sweden nude” (Yes)
- “free orgies in medicine hat” (Is that a place or a garment?!)
- “masterbation disembodied entities”
- “why do humans have sex like animals” (Oh, why!?!)
- “lego star wars girls having sex”
But the other day I happened upon a sex-related search term that was more about someone with a problem looking for help. And feeling that I should offer what assistance I can, I’ll give some free amateur’s sex advice. I’m placing it below the fold to enable you, Dear Reader, to skip it if you’re not interested in frank discussion of what bits go where.