Donovan’s Brain?

Photo by Roman.

Donovan’s Brain is the title of a 1942 sci-fi / horror novel by author and screen writer Curt Siodmak. According to Wikipedia, it’s been made into movies more than once, including a 1953 production that shares the title. I saw the movie once ages ago and actually have a 1969 re-issue of the book, but I remember almost nothing about it except that it probably could also be classed as detective fiction.

Disembodied brains have been a constant trope of horror and fascination in the sci-fi and fantasy genres probably as long as folks have been writing such stuff. It would be an interesting compare and contrast of the treatments of that plot device by various authors. I mean, consider on one hand the heads preserved alive in C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength or the intelligences embodied in light in Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars and Against the Fall of Night. In the face of the mighty productivity of the authors of popular fiction, the bibliography alone would be a significant project.

And, of course, what do zombies want? Brains…

One lunch time when my Dad was working a day shift, Mom asked if I’d like something different for lunch: baked calf brains. Dad was one of those meat and very salty potatoes sort of guys so this was not something he’d have cared for… But I was game. No, it did not taste like chicken. As I recall, Mom’s production tasted like meatloaf, a meatloaf of sincerely alarming appearance.

I think I finished my serving but I’m certain I did not ask for more.

I was inspired to suspect that many of my fellow children had meatloaf for brains and alas that nothing since has challenged that prejudice.

Though to be fair, we all have meatloaf brains. *

On the other hand, maybe the photo is of a very large wad of used chewing gum…

But really, the photo above is not someone’s discarded higher or lower functions but what looks to be the result of maybe a full can of spray foam, the kind of stuff used to seal rodent holes. Was that the intent here? They could have done as well with less, especially if steel wool also blocked the hole. But this overkill makes for a much more interesting photo, yes?


* For an interesting perspective on this, see “All People Are Created Educable, a Vital Oft-Forgotten Tenet of Modern Democracy” over at Ex Urbe.

Flying Tigers

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Photo by Roman.

From July of 2018.

My Dad and I flew kites now and then. These were built by my Dad mostly from stuff around the house. On one windy day, we went to the local high school to loft a large box kite. It took all our string and asked for more. We fastened another spool of twine to the end of the first string and played it out. The kite kept going until the new spool was more than half done when — the string broke somewhere aloft. And yes, the kite kept going, going, gone while the remaining string floated to the ground.

Maybe ten minutes later (the string had hardly stopped falling) a helicopter flew low over the roof of the school, headed in the direction of the receding kite. It was probably coincidence, this being before the routine use of doppler weather radar, but my Dad wondered if the kite hadn’t popped up on some air traffic screen prompting a look-see. We’ll never know, not to even mention the question of where the kite ended up.

About a dozen or so years later, the school was levelled by an F5 tornado.

Let Go

The munchkin voice cries in outraged pride, “Oh Daddy! Let go! I can do it myself.”

But Daddy teaches, Daddy strong, Daddy protector, Daddy provider. And Daddy is not much beyond a child himself. His daughter, most dear, dear beyond life, totters on two wheels. The bicycle handlebars yip left then right in busy overcorrection. Daddy’s heart careens after, slamming a wall, skinning a knee, cracking a head, each swerve a secret panic.

“Oh Daddy! Let go! I can do it myself.” The dream evaporates to a lonely 3 AM awakening. The memory is decades old but the guilt is as fresh as the morning. Had he only let her fly on that day, on so many days, where would she be today?

Oh Daddy. Let go. Children do so much of it themselves.

— Yip

The Mysterious Arrival of an Unusual Letter

A video by Scott Wenner based on a poem by Mark Strand:

This could almost (but not quite) as easily apply to mothers. Regardless, it certainly applies to many adult children for whom their parents are something of a cipher apart from being… parents. And of course, despite being firmly imprinted by the behavior of said parents, the same children could easily end up being something of a mystery to the parents. Remember the “Generation Gap”?

The Answer

The turbulent wind of an open convertible at highway speed rattled the envelope in his hand. It shook and bobbed like a leaf on a tree. From the driver’s seat, Maeve looked across the car. Soft spoken, her voice was hard to hear against the wind: “It’s from your father. Aren’t you going to open it?”

Was he? Dad could have called. He could have emailed. He could have knocked on their door. And he could have done that months ago. But now, a letter? What could that mean? With Dad, the medium was often the message; did he really want to know? Instead of answering, Dan sighed. After a moment he awkwardly torn the end off the envelope and extracted a sheet. It said:

Danny:

Four months have gone by since we last spoke. I am doing something that I hadn’t planned to do, and that is, to make one more try if you will do the same thing also. I shall offer you what you wanted for a starter, so here goes. I apologize. Now, I expect you to come through with your part, namely, a two way, one on one, thoughtful, equal, sensitive and not insulting start at communication with an end goal of bridging over the gap which separates us. Agreed? Otherwise, J’ai fini, this time for real.

Dad

“What did he say, Dan?” Maeve asked.

Dan held the letter between two fingers while it gyrated in the wind. After a moment he let go and it flew away.

“Nothing,” he replied.

— Yip