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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

Table of Contents

Things to keep in mind:
The secret of confidence.

Using the last name of LaPlante, they lived on Commerce Street, a quiet, well-kept trailer park in a more run-down part of Dallas, from April 1949 until March 1950. Their neighbors regarded Sally as a typical 12-year-old living with her widowed father, albeit one never let out of his sight except to go to school. But she seemed to enjoy taking care of her home. She would bake every once in a while. She had a dog. La Salle provided her with a generous allowance for clothes and sweets. She would go shopping, swimming, and to her neighbors’ trailers for dinner. And while La Salle, as LaPlante, set up shop again as a mechanic, Sally attended Catholic school once more, at Our Lady of Good Counsel. (It, too, no longer exists, absorbed into Bishop Dunne Catholic School by 1961. The trailer park will be replaced this year by a posh apartment complex.)

A copy of Sally’s report card from her time at Our Lady of Good Counsel between September 1949 and February 1950 indicates she was a good student, with her only C+ grade coming in Languages in her final month there. Otherwise, she got primarily As and A-minuses, with the occasional B, the latter mostly coming towards the end of the school year. Her worst subjects were Geography and Writing. She also missed 10 days of school in September because she was hospitalized for appendicitis, spending at least three nights at the Texas Crippled Children’s Hospital (now the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children).

Sally’s apparently happy demeanor in Dallas grew more pensive after the operation. Josephine Kagamaster, the wife of La Salle’s business partner in the shop, remarked Sally did not move like “a healthy, light-hearted youngster,” and heard La Salle say the girl “walks like an old woman.” Otherwise, the consensus about Sally and her “father” was that they “both seemed happy and entirely devoted to each other.” Nelrose Pfeil, a neighbor, said, “Sally got everything she ever wanted. I always said I didn’t know who was more spoiled, Sally or her dog.” Maude Smilie, living at a nearby trailer on Commerce Street, seemed bewildered at the idea of Sally being a virtual prisoner: “[Sally] spent one day at the beauty parlor with me. I gave her a permanent and she never mentioned a thing. She should have known she could have confided in me.”

Sarah Weinman

—posted 126 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of incantations.

Max then goes on to make a point that I might well have made myself if I’d thought to put it so explicitly: while the technologies in our far-future SF now look more and more like numinous magical powers, our daily life is perfused by magical devices that obey relatively predictable rules—utter the right incantation and Siri tells you the weather. Which means we as readers are coming to expect an almost mechanistic causality to inform the magic in our fantasies.

Charles Stross

—posted 134 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of longing.

The 12th century was the age of courtly love: songs of courtship and admiration, tales of daring knights and worthy ladies. The courtly love tradition is thought of as quintessentially heterosexual, and yet a few works survive in which a woman addresses her sentiments to another woman, such as the lone surviving lyric of Bieiris de Romans. And during that era, in a convent somewhere in the vicinity of Tegernsee in Bavaria (Germany), a cloistered woman longed to be reunited with a dear friend. She poured her heart out in a passionate poem, written in Latin and, by some quirk of fate, copied into a collection of writings that survived the ages. Her name is unknown—she identifies herself simply as “A” and her love only as “G”, whom she addresses as “my only/singular rose.”

To her, G’s absence is “like someone who has lost a hand or a foot” and she laments, “I want to die because I cannot see you. What can I—so wretched—do? Where can I—so miserable—turn?” Her thoughts turn to past delights: “I recall the kisses you gave me, and how with tender words you caressed my little breasts.” And yet perhaps there was more to their story. “Come home, sweet love!” she concludes. “Prolong your trip no longer. Know that I can bear your absence no longer… remember me.” Shall we not imagine that G returned to the woman who found her “so lovely and full of grace [and] who… with such deep affection loves me”?

Heather Rose Jones

—posted 141 days ago


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Fall down seven.

So the first draft of no. 29 clocks in at 19,167 words, which I think is the longest first draft I’ve done (for as long as statistics have been kept, at any rate). And only a couple days past two weeks late on the initial deadline! —But there’s one scene that doesn’t exist yet, really, and one that needs to be radically uprooted and then maybe replanted upside-down, and there’s the one I decided to leave in its current form until I had a better idea of just how much off the leash I could let it get, which at least I think I might have now, but the overall point is this is also perhaps the messiest draft I’ve ever sat back and said okay, it’s done, let’s revise, but here we are.

The thing about this one is it’s the seventh of the volume, the seventh of the season, and like the first seventh it comes after an overture, an opening, a statement and initial elaboration of a theme, and so one might play a little, mess with structure, ring some changes, take a chance or two as one steps aside and contemplates for a moment where we’ve gotten and where we’re going. And it just so happened that iTunes decided to play a song from Merrily We Roll Along as I was sketching the initial outline, and, well, so.

(One might also note the seventh card of the Major Arcana is the Lovers, but I honestly have no idea why we keep bringing this up.)

—I wrote the draft from end to beginning, is the thing, and now I will revise it from beginning to end, and not having done it this way before I’m not sure what to expect, but at least it helps to explain the shagginess of the current circumstances. Let’s tentatively suggest that I might be done in January, with Patreons to receive copies at that point, and it might then appear here in February, but don’t let’s take that too seriously just yet?

—posted 213 days ago


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Portrait.

Now, I’m not insisting this is what the official portrait of Jo Maguire, Duchess of Southeast, Queen’s Favorite and King’s Huntsman, Widow of the Hawk and First of that Name, would look like…

Jo Maguire, Duchess of Southeast, Queen's Favorite and King's Huntsman, Widow of the Hawk and First of Her Name.

Sharnee Gates, styled by Dogukan Nesanir, photographed by Ronan Mckenzie

—posted 221 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of liberty.

Here; put on the red cap of Liberty; thrust it on your head. If you would be saved, you must come to Paris with me. There is a plot—a plot; but I will not forsake you. Madame Rouge et Noir and—others—others are in it, and you cannot escape. Come; come at once. I have discovered the secret entrance to the closet, and can take you down, and we’ll go to Paris with the mob. You shall lean on me, and I will carry you if you are tired. It is Lord d’Eyncourt himself who commands. You come with me to Paris. Ah, Mademoiselle—Madame, I mean—do not hesitate; for it is to prison our King goes, and our Queen; and you would be free, and you would help. Don’t hesitate, but come!

L.T. Meade

Redcap.

Redcap. One of the most malignant of old Border GOBLINS, Redcap lived in old ruined peel towers and castles where wicked deeds had been done, and delighted to re-dye his red cap in human blood. William Henderson gives a full account of him in Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties (pp. 253–5). He describes him as “a short thickset old man, with long prominent teeth, skinny fingers armed with talons like eagles, large eyes of a fiery-red color, grisly hair streaming down his shoulders, iron boots, a pikestaff in his left hand, and a red cap on his head.” Human strength can avail little against him, but he can be routed by scripture or the sight of a CROSS. If this is held up to him, he gives a dismal yell and vanishes, leaving one of his long teeth behind him. The wicked Lord Soulis of Hermitage Castle had Redcap as his familiar, who made him weapon-proof so that he was only finally destroyed by boiling him in oil in a brazen pot on Nine-stane Rig.

In Perthshire, however, there is a milder Redcap, a little man who lives in a room high up in Grantully Castle and whom it is fortunate to see or hear. The Dutch redcaps, or Kaboutermannekin, are of the true BROWNIE nature and typical brownie tales are told about them.

[Motif: F363.2]

Katharine Briggs

—posted 228 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of love.

Oh, I know the kind of love it meant. Fictions of the fourteenth-century jongleur. Friendship run riot. Pointless nestlings; sharings of tacky dreams and tawdry aspirations; promises of emotional dependency that pass for constancy; fumbling manipulations in the backs of cars; the sweat of the connubial bed. That kind of love may be thought free, and considered dear at the price. But in fact it is not free at all. One pays endlessly for the shabby amateurism of romantic love.

Maximilian Strange

—posted 243 days ago


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Six of the best.

So back in July I set down a marker, as I usually do, picking a deadline for drafting the next chapter, and knowing, as I usually do, that I’d hear it go whooshing by overhead, only to set another, as I usually do, and another, and maybe even another after that, and as I usually do I picked a deadline that would require an average of about 300 words a day, since I know myself, and my limitations, even if I’m not always as honest as I might be about it, with myself, as I’m usually not, but anyway, the math and the calendar worked out such that I ended up putting that pin in Saturday, the 17th of September.

Only this morning I went and wrote down the 17,817th word of no. 28, and finished off the first draft five days early. —I’m not quite certain what to do with myself.

—Oh, there’s the edits, and revisions, the laying out, the prep work for ebook and website and ’zine, the usual, and patrons should expect to see it in October, and paper copies too, and then everyone else in November, though I’m not making any promies yet, the cup not yet to the lip and all.

So! That’s the news from Rip City. —Expect more when there is more.

—posted 311 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of misdirection.

M Train is a self-portrait of the artist in late middle age, and it’s to her credit that she includes most of the everyday stuff other rock stars are usually afraid to mention. She potters, stares out of the window, does the laundry, reads; she buys, makes and thinks about coffee. (There’s a lot of death and coffee, but no sex or taxes.) This is not the ageing rock star à la Keith Richards or Lemmy, maintaining the gnarly crocodile-skinned persona to the bitter end. But though she gives the impression of spilling the (Arabica) beans, there are also signs of something more ambiguous—details that make you distrust the performance of homeyness, or least take it with a pinch of artisanal honeycomb. There is, for instance, her membership of something called the CDC or Continental Drift Club, which (allegedly) holds semi-annual conventions in places such as Bremen, Reykjavik, Jena and Berlin. “Formed in the early 1980s by a Danish meteorologist,” she explains, “the CDC is an obscure society serving an independent branch of the earth science community. Twenty-seven members, scattered around the hemispheres, have pledged their dedication to the perpetuation of remembrance specifically in regard to Alfred Wegener, who pioneered the theory of continental drift.” Reviewers seem to have taken this at face value, but even if such a strange little cloistered society did exist, why exactly would Patti Smith be asked to join? Note the “dedication to the perpetuation of remembrance”: is our allegorical leg being pulled here just a bit? And is it just coincidence that nestling in her book bag are authors such as W.G. Sebald, César Aira, Haruki Murakami, Roberto Bolaño, Enrique Vila-Matas and others, writers who purposively smudge the line between memoir and fiction? M Train, with its dot-dash series of woozy photographs, even looks like a Sebald text, and I got the same queasy feeling from it that I’ve often had reading him: half-admiring, half-sceptical; almost seduced, but finally left cold. As with a flawless magician, you know there’s some form of misdirection going on, and it chips away at your pleasure in the performance. (I was annoyed at myself for assuming her visit to a “place called Café Bohemia” was some kind of wink-wink sign, when it’s also a fairly common name in Mexico, where she happened to be.)

Ian Penman

—posted 351 days ago


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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of the stone in your shoe.

In his lectures, Teller explained that the trick did not originate with him. It is based on techniques developed by a largely forgotten man named David P. Abbott, a loan shark who lived in Omaha and did magic in front of invitation-only audiences in his specially built parlor. Houdini, Kellar, Ching Ling Foo, Thurston—all the great magicians of the era made the pilgrimage to Omaha and left baffled. One of Abbott’s tricks involved a golden ball that floated in the air around him. But rather than use a thread suspended from the ceiling, Abbott revealed posthumously in his Book of Mysteries, he ran the thread horizontally from his ear to the wall. By manipulating that thread with his careful hands, he could make that golden ball seem as though it were defying reality. Best of all, he could pass a hoop over it—what magicians call a prover—and eliminate a piece of thread from his audience’s range of possibility, because a horizontal thread had never entered their imagination. They were looking only for the vertical.

The real point of magic, Teller said during those lectures, is “telling a beautiful lie. It lets you see what the world would be like if cause and effect weren’t bound by physics.” It’s the collision between what you know and what you see that provides magic’s greatest spark.

So Teller rigged a thread in his home library, and he put Abbott’s ancient instructions on a music stand—pages that had been miraculously saved from a trash fire years before—and he went to work on making the impossible seem real. Eventually, he decided that the ball shouldn’t float but roll. That would look simpler, but it would be harder. He practiced some more at a mirrored dance studio in Toronto, and at a cabin deep in the woods, and on the empty stage in Penn & Teller’s theater. After every show for eighteen months, he would spend at least an hour, by himself, trying to make the Red Ball obey. (“Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect,” Teller says.)

Chris Jones

—posted 359 days ago


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