Sunday, November 18, 2012

Brain work: HBO's Thiller Epitafios and Haikasoru's Belka (& the WWII Aleutian Campaign)

I overslept an hour, perhaps all those waking-but-frozen body nightmares tire me. That kind of nightmares/non-sleep is mindtrap hell. To lie semi-conscious and focusing everything mentally to try to move an arm, a little finger, or to just scream, in what seems an enternity, is a mind draped in terror. I've been awake but unable to move, and that sucks, but to be trying to claw out of a dream state in a body that will not respond, not even a whimper when I'm screaming inside, that's horror.

There is no work like brain work. And speaking of horror, the best way to reboot a brain is to feed it, which is why in the last few days I’ve watched an Argentine award winning show Epitafiosin Spanish. Part of HBO Latino (partnered with Disney), Epitafios first season is about a serial killer who abducts people, buries them alive with a ‘epitaph’ grave marker, indicating who will be snatched next (a mind game for viewers and police).

 Add Martina, a cop who plays Russian Roulette for cash to get an insight into her dead father (and is a lesbian in a relationship with the case psychologist), plus a story line and actions of creepy that makes the film Se7en look like a kids show. Highly recommended.
It helped with my spanish, too. I try to learn languages with each show/film. The Killing taught me a lot of Danish, though not sure how useful it will be (Killing Season 3 out in a month - and for those who like Nordic Noir, try the Swedish/Danish series, The Bridge). I also re-watched some BBC ‘bests’ including Luther and Sherlock, who Linda agrees has fun making Watson and Sherlock into a couple. Probably the reason the US imitation Elementary had to turn Watson into a woman. Why? Because there are no gay couples in America. Silly, it is what 50% of Americans refuse to know.

Belka, Why Don't You Bark?is what I have been reading today.
 I try for a book a day. It takes me longer than two hours to finish a book after all the strokes, but not by that much (as long as I keep reading). Like most of the Haikasoru (High Castle) series of the best Japanese cult and speculative fiction translated and published by Viz, it defies description.

Belka starts with the facts: about the Japanese invasion of the Alusian Islands, from Japan's view. It tells how Attu was invaded by the US in May 1943 by a force of 11,000 US troops against 2,850 Japanese. The US suffered significant casualties: 550 killed, 1148 wounded, 2,100+ disease and exposure plus 220 aircraft and three warships lost.

The Japanese ended with a Banzai charge that Japan claims killed all Japanese, the US claim killed all but 29. The second island, Kiska, had twice the Japanese, but a rescue was sent.
Long range subs (including the one who torpedoed a ship leaving Victoria, BC – sub I-25, I-27) took the wounded, and a rescue boat took the troops during a fog bank. The allied continued for weeks to bomb and shell Kiska, an island the size of Tokyo, which had only four dogs left on it. Then 35,000 Allied troops including 5,500 Canadians invaded. The book tracks the four dogs, and talks about the military use of dogs, including which countries started first, the numbers used and how. One of the Japanese military dogs was a ‘taster’, which was trained to find edible plants, and helped the Japanese troops avoid scurvy while in Alaska. One of the four dogs stayed in Alaska and ended as a sled dog, a lead on a winning team whose pups went for hundreds of dollars. One of these pups was sold to a guy who decided to breed it with a wolf (tied to a tree and left to mate), to make the best team, which he then tried to take to the Arctic Ocean and back.

The book, Belka, is engaging, brutal, direct and funny:

The attempt to the arctic circle went horribly wrong.
“..These four dogs lay in a circle around their master’s corpse. They couldn’t have run away if they wanted to – they were still tied to the harness. They survived for four days on their master’s flesh.

And then they were saved.

They were hunters, members of one of the tribes of the Arctic nations that would later come to be known collectively as the Inuit. …dogs were still their only means of transport. They could see what had happened. Some stupid white guy had died. An adventurer who fell victim to his own incompetence. Leaving the dogs behind. Four of them!

I try to read all the Haikasoru line, though the are released months apart. Hiroshi Sakurazaka is a favorite author, writing, All You Need Is Kill is a Science Fiction book to surpass Stormship Troopers.
 He also wrote Slum Online, a representation of the secrets and puzzles in both human interaction and virtual environments; this co-view is the experiences of those born in the last 30-40 years. I favor the writer Project Itoh, writing from hospital while fighting cancer (died 2009): his book, Harmonyis about the medical overmind, which surpass governments, individuals and free will in determining the best choices become the only choices and societies end up talking about ‘workouts’, ‘oxidants’ and ‘heart plaque’ instead of social change or personal interaction.

Work the brain, work the body. I am trying to get to the Y to tone up, now that my kidneys worked for five days. I focus on a goal and keep trying until I make it. Exercise makes me feel better about myself and gives me back an iota of control in a situation with little to no control. I didn’t make it today, but I will try again tomorrow, then work on going out to a movie, hopefully Tuesday or Wednesday.

As the book Harmony says: In a perfect world, there is no escape.


Anonymous said...

Dear Beth,

It's Sharon MV. I love the perfect world line. I'm a big science fiction reader. Read many of the classics when i was a kid. Robert Heinlen actually lived near our town (Santa Cruz) and I was very excited when I learned he had bought my Grandpa's tent at his garage sale. Sadly, there was no receipt or anything signed for me to save.

I switched to mysteries almost exclusively (always read some)in my mid-thirties, after I became ill. But for the last year or two I've come back to sci-fi Started with free books online (Baen library) and now I've got a kindle. Reading all the cheep stuff - old classics. Often one book has thousands of pages and a number of authors. I read a bunch of "golden age" (1930s -1950s) when i was a kid, but there is much more available now. Some, early work of authors I know and new authors that I had never read.

I hope this bit of my reading history has entertained you. Right now, I'm not reading at all - not for several weeks. I expect it's due to my Lupus as it affects my brain in various & sometimes odd ways. Also , I'm obsessed with my arts & crafts. I set up my Etsy shop & have a few things there. You can look at & search for my shop Chloesflowers.

I'm cheering for you to get back to the Y! And no encounters with intolerant Y employees. I hope they are being nice to you.

Love, Sharon

Linda McClung said...

Thanks for the history lessons - where did you find the black and white pictures? I had never heard of the battles on the Allusions before.

Interesting reading about the four dogs. I always get shivers when I read about someone going on arctic expeditions. I've experienced arctic conditions and wouldn't want to spend any extended time that way. When reading stories you know there's a good chance the person is going on a one-way trip, never to be seen from again.

Slum Online - I'm hoping to finish that one this week. It has really drawn me in, even though online virtual reality games are not my thing.

GirlWithTheCane said...

You rock. :)

- Sarah

Neil said...

Beth, my dear friend: I have always loved reading, and speculative fiction has been my favourite since the 1960s; I read the book "2001: a Space Odyssey" twice during the first afternoon after I bought it - somewhere in BC while we were on holiday.

I'm afraid Epitafios doesn't attract me. I very seldom enjoy horror; but I love reading your descriptions of it. Does that make me weird? :)

I'm not sure about Belka, but I will try to find All You Need is Kill.

I hope you get to the Y and get some control back of that body of yours.

Love and zen hugs,

Elizabeth McClung said...

All you need is Kill is being made into a big Hollywood summer film in 2014. So interest will rise.

I have liked speculative fiction since around age eight. Then at 18, getting a job in a bookstore and being in charge of science fiction with a 'borrowing' and 'stripping' policy, I learned a lot of new authors. Of course, being the closest bookshop to Cal Tech probably helped our selection.

I've liked mysteries as well, Edwardian and Victoria writers, US and British. Later the 50's pulp style and the British interwar like Cameron.

Even tens of thousands of writers writing every year still do not complete the human experience as described in words.