Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Mehmet looks like his cousin MODOK and weighs hundreds of pounds. He has his own gravity, with tiny specks of moon. No one can lift him.

Sunday, July 27, 2003


Afanas'ev - Russian Fairy Tales
Aksyonov - The Burn, Island of Crimea, Destuction of Pompeii
Alden - Royal Persia
all the Mark Leyner books
Arabian Nights (ill. Earle Goodenow)
Ascherson - Black Sea
Belinsky, Chenyshevsky, Dobrolyubov - selected criticism
Bely - St Petersburg, The Dramatic Symphony
Berdyaev - The Russian Idea
Billington - The Icon and the Axe
Blurton - Hindu Art (it's Jill's copy)
Branch - Sabres of Paradise
Brothers - Louis Armstrong in his Own Words
Bulfinch's Mythology
Bulgakov - Diaboliad, Master and Margarita, Heart of a Dog
Channon - Penguin Historical Atlas of Russia
Chaucer - Canterbury Tales
Dabars/Vokhmina – The Russian Way
Dostoevsky - novels, stories, notebooks, diaries
Drake et al - The Drake Manuscript
Eisenstein - Potemkin, Ivan the Terrible
Faure - History of Art
Ferris - Coming of Age in the Milky Way
Florensky - The Pillar and Ground of the Truth
Ford - Three Plays
Gallardo - Among the Orangutangs
Glas vols. 2,6,21
Gogol - collected stories
Grace - Apes
Grey - Ivam III and the Unification of Russia
Grigorev - My Literary and Moral Wanderings
Grossman - Diary of Valery Bryusov
Hingley - Russian Writers and Society
Khlebnikov - The King of Time
Klucina - Tricetileta Valka
Longman History of Russia vol's 1-3
Malory - La Morte D'Arthur
Massie - Land of the Firebird
Mcevedy - Penguin Atlas of Medieval History
Melville - Moby-Dick, Tales, Poems and Other Writings
Mickiewicz - Pan Tadeusz
Milner-Gulland, Dejevsky - Cultural Atlas of the Soviet Union
Miyazaki - Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind
Morton – A Harvest of Russian Children’s Literature
Napier & Napier - Natural History of the Primates
Opie - Classic Fairy Tales
Peeke - Americana Ebrietatis
Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse
Pushkin - Plays, Prose and Letters
Pynchon - Mason & Dixon
Rabelais – Gargantua and Pantagruel
Rowling - Life in Medieval Times
Runciman - The Sicilian Vespers
Schmemann - Echoes of a Native Land
Schoonover - The Spider King
Seamon/Zajonc - Goethe's Way of Science
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Smallwood, Reveley, Bailet - New Biology
Soviet Villages and Old Russian Towns
Spengler - Decline of the West
Spenser - Faerie Queene
Sturluson - King Harald's Saga, Egil's Saga
Time/Life Books - The Emergence of Man
Tolstoy - stories
Travels of Marco Polo
Turgenev - Fathers & Sons, Rudin, Home of the Gentry, Sportsman's Notebook
Vollmann – You Bright and Risen Angels
Yevtushenko - Selected Poems
Zeldin - Peter Chaadayev
Zenkovsky - Medieval Russia's Epics, Chronicles and Tales

Saturday, July 12, 2003

On Wednesday, there was an ax-wielding competition a la Egil's Saga between Afanasy and Scanderbeg

Afanasy was en route Moscow to renew honey/wax contracts with his salesmen/distributors in the city. Hasan Beg. Hasa Beg warned of shaky relations between Shirvanshah and brand-new Ivan III. If Afanasy can't pull some strings he should work through Pasha and Subasi of Trebizond.

Afanasy and Foma decided to make the trek right into the Kremlin (about to be rebuilt by Italian architects) to contact cousin Maria, Ivan's bride to renew contacts.

Today's Lunch Menu:

AFANAS'EV: Baldak Borisievich is a seven-year-old warrior will 29 youths who do his bidding. Aliosha Popovich (p67). Mehmed II's talking cat (p90). The iron wizard (p79). Horseback vodka/drinkin' lady (p131). Prince Ivan and Princess Maria (p146) Cockroach milk (p168) The keg of money (p159) the thumb-sized bully with the giant moustache (p202) Maria, Olga i Anna (p553)

MASTER and MARGARITA: Behemoth, Azazello and Koroviev (p92, 127, 176, 222, 273)

IVAN III: Mahmudek and his brothers Kasim and Yakub, the wrestling triplets from KHANATE OF KHAZAN (p32)

Snappy and Foma navigate thru a snowdrift. There is nothing around except snow and snow and biryozi and Foma, dragging a sort of rickshaw. We can see his breath. Foma is having a conversation with a Bee, to the effect that Snappy (and, by extension, Foma, who seems to think he is Snappy’s son or something) will soon be extremely wealthy due to the freight that they are bringing to Novgorod. Foma playfully alludes to the description of the precious goods, which seem to be felt (cloth) in various brilliant colors. The Bee goes off to inform the other bees.

CUT to interior of the rickshaw, where Snappy is dozing with his Satchel as a pillow. There is snow piling up on his hat, and a crude fireplace at his feet seems to have ignited his boots (feet wrapped in cloth) as he sleeps.

CUT to Snappy’s dream: A steamy swamp with giant ferns and dragonflies. The rickshaw is moving through 2 feet of water; there are threatening sea-creatures peering at the rickshaw from the water. There is a face peering in at Snappy from the window, a staggeringly lovely woman. A giant stinging beetle eclipses his vision, biting his nose. Snappy dives from the rickshaw, crashing into the swamp. He looks around and sees only insects, heavy flora, steaming fetid water. There are bubbles rising from the water to his right (farther from the abandoned rickshaw) and he throws himself at the bubbles, a sign that the lovely apparition is still nearby, perhaps drowning?? He dives underwater (unable to swim) and encounters a sea monster. The sea monster tries to gouge out his eyes; he throttles it and awakens.

CUT to Foma thrashing Snappy with switches; he needs money for a toll. Snappy awakens and offers Foma some change from his Satchel, along with shrunken heads, arrowheads, pelts, paintbrushes, etc. Snappy is astonished by the frozen placidity of the Russian countryside.

CUT to Perkin as douanier, delivering lethal blow to actual representative of local official. Takes official poncho and scepter and assumes role of gatekeeper, whistling merrily.
Scanderbeg: AHOY THERE YOZHIK! Koshchey! You, old man! What's news in Tashkent!

Ali Qushji:Well, actually, I've...

Scanderbeg: When's the kvas truck?

Ali: Scanderbeg, count your money a moment while I explain to our guest... As I was saying, most of us in these parts are passing through. Scanderbeg, Albania's greatest general, is seeking allies and funds here, before returning to the mountains of his country, while I have called from my home town to Istanbul to serve as court astronomer to Sultan Mehmed II. Of course, we could move along more quickly if Muscovy weren't such an exciting place to tarry these days. As a matter of fact, it's...

Scanderbeg: KVAS TRUCK!!!! [bells tinkling in the distance]

[Ali Qushji, Scanderbeg, and the kvas guy hunker down on their haunches around a fire, puffing on pipes and quaffing kvas, and swapping stories as night falls.]

Friday, July 04, 2003

1. FOMA stealing a beehive. Crashing thru snowdrifts, bees swarm around him, stinging his face. What a knucklehead! he says.

2. Closeup of his face, determined and pleased with himself. I know where he will not find me at all! A bee is stinging his eye. His shoe is careening off.

3. Leaps into a puddle, disappearing except for his bare foot and a stream of angry bees.

4. The puddle, with his shoe next to it and hovering bees.

5. His forehead emerges from the puddle.

6. He sits up in the puddle, covered with mud and bees, and begins sucking honey from his hands a la Pooh bear. Bees take up stinging his ears and neck again. What a baffled old knucklehead! he says.

7. Ahoy Alnus! says Afanasy, waving from his wagon. The wheel is off. Afanasy and Haji-Girei are poking around in the grass. Silhouette of Alnus in the background.

8. What’s this. says Alnus, cupping his hands to his mouth. Wheel off. they yell back. Need wood. Monak the dog comes pounding over.

9. Monak arrives, knocking the wagon over. Wood splinters everywhere.

10. Anna saunters over, kicking the remnants of the wagon, and clothes. Where’s your honey, sweetheart? It’s here. Says Afanasy. Sure isn’t, says Haji-Girei.

11. How hard is it to build this again? asks Alnus, sitting on Monak. I can’t imagine, says Afanasy, It’s from China. Anna says There’s no way this moth-eaten wreck was from China. Haji-Girei is scratching his head: where did Foma end up?

12. I think Foma is hiding underneath the broken pieces of the wagon, he’s scared. Says Afanasy. Foma is sitting in a freezing cold puddle, eating your honey and being stung by your bees. Says Anna.

13. Foma is unrecognizable beneath all of the bee stings and mud. He is lying on his side, moaning.
There is an enormous bear sniffing curiously in the distance. This is the best day of my life. He says.

14. Afanasy is hammering a sign into the ground, made of pieces of the wagon. YOU’RE FIRED YOU IDIOT. Haji-Girei and Anna are heaving the remains into Alnus’ kvas truck. Alnus is looking around in the snow, a few paces from the scene.

15. Don’t waste your time, I’ll just hire somebody else at the next pub. I never liked him anyhow. Says Afanasy. I’m not looking for anybody, I’m hungry and there’s mushrooms near. Says Alnus. Plus I might find wood to repair your wagon.

16. I’d rather use Chinese wood, says Afanasy. Shh! I hear bees! Says Anna.

17. They are quiet, looking in different directions. Haji-Girei is smoking a pipe.

18. BLAAAGH! Says a voice off-screen. There’s the idiot. Says Afanasy. There’s whats left of your honey says Haji-Girei.

19. Rear view of Foma, bees still swarming around. Afanasy and Haji-Girei are wide-eyed with fear and amazement, staring at him/the reader. A m-m-monster! BLAAAGH he says.

20. They charge into the puddle and attack the swollen Foma from both sides. Foma is perfectly round and his tongue is the size of a horseshoe crab. His arms flop uselessly as he is pummeled in his puddle. The bear steals off with the beehive in the background.

21. GIANT ROCK MOVE! Shouts Haji-Girei. Afanasy gives the thumbs up, and they run off screen in opposite directions. BLAAAGH! Says Foma.

22. Anna appears. Foma, you’ll get sick in that puddle you know. BLAAAGH! Says Foma. Hah! That I’d like to see. They’ve never really been able to pull off the giant rock move.

23. Afanasy and Haji-Girei appear, rolling enormous boulders towards the “monster.” BLAAAGH! There are still bees swarming about. Anna watches, bemused. What happened to the beehive?

24. Lightning strikes over the hillside, stopping all activity. Everybody glows and jumps, or something.

25. Hey come over! I’ve got chicken feet! Comes a voice from over the hilltop. Hey, Alnus must have chicken feet! Says Afanasy. Hey it’s Foma says Haji-Girei.

26. Alnus is standing, pulling up his robe and looking down at his feet, which are chicken feet. I was kicking that piece of wood, when lightning hit me. It’s itchy. Now I smell like a chicken. Haji-Girei is dragging Foma by his ankle. Afanasy is not. Wow, you found wood!

27. No, it’s not wood, it’s a domovoi. A rotten one, probably from a witch or a villain of some stripe, says Haji-Girei. Baba Yaga! Says Afanasy. Probably says Alnus. Haji-Girei passes Alnus his pipe.

28. Lets get Alnus into his truck and see if he finishes turning into a chicken. I need kvas says Alnus. Yes, says Afanasy, lifting Alnus onto his shoulders. Foma says BLAAAGH.

29. Anna is loading the beehive onto the truck, Monak is barking at a bear fleeing into the distance. Afanasy asks her how she got the beehive back. I will tell you later. She says. Why is that piece of wood following you?

30. Closeup of the domovoi on little feet, skulking thru the snow.

31. Haji-Girei and Anna leap onto the truck. Afanasy tosses Alnus onto Monak. Rear view of domovoi, framed by terrorized Russians. BLAAAGH says Foma, writhing on the ground.

32. Afanasy picks up Foma and begins to swing him around. Get Monak hooked up, there! He cries.

33. Terrible idea, Afanasy! Says Anna, as he clonks the idol over using Foma as a croquet mallet. THUNK!

34. Lightning crashes! Every body glows!

35. Ha! Now look who has a chicken face! Laughs Afanasy. You idiot, the dog ran off. Now we have to pull the truck ourselves! Says Haji-Girei, Kvas! Says Alnus from inside the truck. Foma has a chicken face.

36. Get OUT of the truck! Lookie! Says Afanasy, pointing. Now there are five domovoi, marching expressionless and kind of cute. Like little salt shakers or something.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Afanasy, Anna, Foma, and Haji-Girei sliding down a snow-covered hill. Tumbling, throwing snow in great billowing clouds. Screaming, pursued by domovoi. They are sliding thru the snow, silently unrelentingly closing in. Anna clocks one with a stone, it rolls past them on its side.

Afanasy picks up Foma and hurls him, spinning like a bolo, at the pins. They scatter. Alnus' wagon comes crashing down the hill, rolling faster than either the heroes or the domovois.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Scanderbeg is a Frank Frazetta survivor. He is a blood-drinker and a meat eater; the prehistoric warrior that crowds pay to see. He bites the ears off his opponents like Mike Tyson; he vomits down their throats and tears their tracheae out with his teeth. He’s from 1000 AD!! What do you expect?

Hanuman is just Bootsy Collins. Because he has the banana peel.

How complicated is Perkin Warbeck? He is a Richard Scarry character. He is the screw-up farmer’s assistant. He is Madeleine made flesh. He is a smoker in secret. He has numerous patrons in several countries and will be a lot of fun. He is just a sunflower. OK?

Ivan III is serious, because his father was blinded by Dmitri Shemyaka. He is a smelly, hunchbacked disaster who ultimately forms Russia out of a bunch of little nothing forest villages. He’s got vision, dig? He’s ugly and convinced of his role in history. He married Snappy’s cousin or something and so we like him. Car mechanic from WV

Dmitri Shemyaka is the Baron Karzai. He’s so evil we don’t even identify with him. Asbestos lead asbestos. UBERdomovoi, easter island statue
Snappy fires Foma for eating honey. Foma wanders off, distraught, and they are beset by Teutons. Mathis, Furtwangler, der KRUSHER. Mood music from Alexander Nevsky. Snappy feels remorse for firing his idiot and takes to the woods with Anna and Haji-Girei to find him. Alnus distracts the Teutons and gets them drunk, sends his BEAR to go get Scanderbeg and/or Scand’s posse (Moses of Dhibra, Count Vrana, Tanush Thopia).

Perkin and arch-enemy Baldak Borisievich are stranded in the primeval forest as the sun sets. They have eaten their last fish, and are scavenging for mushrooms and owl scat. There are howling, starving wolves encircling, and vultures wheeling overhead, etc etc. They stumble across the snow-covered body of Scanderbeg, sleeping off a 2-week bender. There is a family of birds living in his enormous nostrils, and a yozhik in his trousers. The stranded foreigners recoil in existential fear and horror as they experience the withering blasts of Scanderbeg's morning breath. The birds drop from the air and writhe as their carbonized feathers are reduced to cinders. Barvat lovingly wraps the birds in muslin. The biryozi crackle with flame and there is the steady sound of rain as all the forests' insects evacuate their cloacas*. The snow hisses, melts and feeds the tender shoots of brown wheatgrass with warm toxic antifreeze.

"One of these snowdrifts has Teutons in it. Maybe more. I clubbed 'em good but I passed out before I could kill em." The lads poke into the drifts with sharpened stix. Scand uses his Morning Breath as Godzilla would, incinerating a swathe with each heave, sweeping methodically from left to right.
No wepins!

Logs and twigs, Flintstones wepins. Braonze age krapple. Birds beaks and klubs with rox tied on with catgut.

mathis der mauler breaks bones, lives in a decrepit castle like baron zemo. painter! lowgrade dentures or baleen. skulks around his mountaintop and pines for his faraway love like rainer maria rilke.

the swiss krusher is l’eminence grise. Qui est-ce??has long bony fingers a la nosferatu. and multiple rows of pogues teeth. keeps spiders in a leather pouch.

der Furtwangler is der vater der mathis. max von sydow. stony glare for one and all. das ist leben man musst immer kampfen

* Look, I stole that line from Mark Leyner, so kill me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Afanasy Nikitin: I would love to eat a hot fat potato right now.

Alnus Rugosa: I think I have some potatoes in the back of my truck, if you want to look around for them.

AN: Foma!

Foma: Hey boss.

AN: See if there's any potatoes in the back of the wagon. And no drinking by yourself, right?

AR: There's bugs back there, I think. They probably got into the potatoes, you think?

AN: Well, what kinds of bugs? Worm bugs? Flying things?

AR: Mites. Really big orange mites. From Turkey. They come in with the salt bags.

AN: Whyn't you just leave the salt bags out? It's for eating?

AR: Selling. Goes with the kvas and bread, for some folks.

Foma: I'm bit!

Foma appears with a mite the size and color of a nerf football attached to his neck.