Friday, August 22, 2008


#36 -- "Ghost Story" by Peter Straub

One of my favorites when I was a kid, and something I've been meaning to re-read for some time now, ever since I read "Turn of the Screw" and finally understood some of the references/homages. I'm pleased to say that it holds up extremely well -- the "town cut off" theme is perhaps the most effective in horror fiction, and this is up there with "Salem's Lot" on top of the heap.

I'm pleased to note that it wasn't just chilling -- Straub writes extremely well, and this is so much better than most of the stuff I was reading when I was 15. Back when I was actually getting paid to review books, I got called out by a local store-owner for tossing the old "transcends the genre" line around like a limp penguin. He was right, but sometimes things do transcend the genre, and this is one of them.

I fear most of the stuff I liked back then wouldn't hold up today -- I've been thinking about, and then rejecting, the idea of giving Ramsey Campbell a read -- but this does. It'd be better if I could read this with about five feet of snow outside, but that's unlikely for now. It's great anyway.

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In the "trying new things" category, I got past one of my culinary taboos yesterday and had a beef tongue taco at a little joint out on Buford Highway. Two observations:

1) "tongue taco" sounds horribly obscene -- seriously, go tell a co-worker that you're having "tongue taco" for lunch and see how long you keep your job. I made an effort to say "lengua taco," probably pronouncing it horribly and causing merriment for the staff. I always associate "lengua" with Los Crudos, not tacos.

2) for something so daunting (to me, at least), I'd expect tongue to be more exciting... either mind-blowingly tasty or horribly, life-changingly awful. But it was just kinda ... bland. Compared to the other tacos I got (barbacoa and pastor pork) it didn't make much of an impression.

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I haven't been paying attention to the Olympics because I'm a bad American, but I have been following my new adopted hockey team, HC Kometa Brno. And I'm pleased to see they're doing well. They're undefeated in preseason play thus far, and in the Tipsport Cup, which is some sort of Czech preseason club championship, they finished on top of Group D (beating out three Extraliga teams!). They'll now face BK Mlada Boleslav in the next round, on Wednesday, I think. Then real-life Czech league play begins on September 10th.

Also, in case anyone from the Czech Rep. stumbles upon this, I've been e-mailing HCKB, trying to find out if they'll sell me a Kometa t-shirt despite my being in the U.S. -- no response yet. So if anyone out there cares to buy me one and send it over, you'll be rewarded somehow or other. Drop me a line.

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