Openers: THE BLUE NIGHT OF INFINITE SPACE
We are moving upward into a region where the blue is lighter and clearer.
A SINGLE STAR
It becomes visible high up and far away. It grows large, more liquid, a golden drop. Soon it assumes a form like that of a comet, its head uppermost, its lengthening tail streaming downward.
Two rays of light diverge horizontally from the comet's head.
We hear sounds so deep we scarcely recognize them as sounds. It could be the regular thudding, more felt than heard, of the heartbeat of some enormous animal.
Waves of light pulse through the blue around us. The whole endless void is quaking. It might be a tank of highly eplosive liquid becoming mysteriously agitated as it approaches flash-point.
The golden star is still increasing in size. Now we see the most minute, yet diamond-bright, points of light winking here and there on the surface of the til tht streams dowm from it. These bright flashes appear at the same intervals as those between the sounds, and between the pulsations of light in the blue.
We are accelerating our approach to the star. The horizontal rays spread wider and wider on each side. We sweep upward at a tremendous speed, and then more slowly as we approach a point on the ray which extends to our right. This point is far from, and soon out of sight of, the streaming tail of the comet.
THE RAMPARTS OF HEAVEN
What seemed like a ray of light is an endless line of precipices rising from an unseen base in the deeps of space and extending as far as the eye can see. The face of the precipice is of the whitish-gold colour of some auriferous rock. Along the top of the cliff, huge blocks of this rock, roughly hewn, are built into battlements.
-- John Collier, Milton's Paradise Lost: Screenplay for Cinema of the Mind (197
And so the scene is set for the expulsion of Lucifer and his followers, wjho come pouring from the heavens, distorted and wracked with pain, to land in a torturous ocean of fire. Slowly Satan makes it to a small island, followed by his minions, to regenerate and regroup. There they built their headquarters, Pandemonium and plot their revenge. To strike against God once again is foolhardy (although many of the demons are in favor). But Satan has heard of God's other creation -- two beings whom he loves and has placed in a special place somewhere in the void, a place called Earth. Now, if Satan could get these two to rebel against God, His sorrow would be great. Satan then searches for Earth to tempt Adam and Eve.
Eve appears to be a lesser creation. God and the angels talk to Adam but not to Eve; the angel Raphael mis especially dismissive of Eve. Adam loves Eve and has to admonish her time and again that they are forbidden the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. For her part, Eve loves Adam but is torn by her thoughts and dreams -- the essence of female differs greatly from the male; Eve is a creature who questions. Eve is eternal feminine: she nurtures. When told of the two horrid monsters, Sin and Death, who guard the gates of Hell, Eve renames them Love and Life, Eve sees deeper into things that Adam cannot.
We know what will happen. Satan enters Eden and tempts Eve into disobeying God. Torn between his love of God and his love for Eve, Adam joins her in eating the forbidden Fruit. The two become aware, then carnal, then ashamed. They are led from Eden by the Angel Michael using his flaming sword as if it were a cattle prod.
Milton's epic poem is ine of the great masterpieces of English literature, a saga that draws the reader in with a fierceness of wonder and power. Certainly it is one of the greatest poems ever written. In writing this "screenplay," John Collier is not trying to improve or amplify Milton. Here he celebrates the blind poet, bringing his epic to the modern age by way of a cinema that could never be filmed. The scope of the story and its cosmic background can only be described in vague terms of the imagination, The characters -- heavenly and otherwise -- share human foibles. Satan himself is often sympathetic. God can be cold and unbending. (After all, He knew everything was going to happen, from the revolt of the angels to the fall of man. He is God.) Eve is a creature meant to create life within her. Adam is a kind-hearted man determined to obey God's will, while also wary of Eve's weakness. (But is it really weakness?)
Collier's bit of "pilferage" (as he puts it) from Milton allows to see Milton's epic in a contemporary light. It's a powerful work of a master fantasist and thoroughly enjoyable. Collier's concept is daring but he makes it work, and work well.
John Collier (1901-1980) began as a poet, but not a very successful one. His first novel, the fantasy His Monkey Wife, was well-recieved critically but, published in 1930 during the beginnings of the Depression, sold only moderately. It did enhance his reputation enough to allow most of his short stories to be published. Collier's only book of poetry was published the following year. his spocalyptic novel Tom's A-Cold: A Tale was published in 1933 and a third novel, Defy the Foul Fiend; Or, The Misadventures of a Heart followed in 1934. Collier then went to Hollywood and began a screen and (later) television writing career. Among his films were Sylvia Scarlet, Elephant Boy, The African Queen (uncredited), The Story of Three Loves (writing two of the three segments), and I Am a Camera. For television he wrote (among other things) three scripts for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Collier is best known, however for his short stories, notably those collected in Fancies and Goodnights (1951), which won the International Fantasy Award for fiction. His stories have been adapted 26 times for radio and television, including a 1966 television musical by Stephen Sondheim. Among his most reprinted short strories are "Evening Primrose," "Wet Saturday," "The Devil, George, and Rosie," "Back for Christmas," "Thus I Refute Beelzy," "Green Thoughts," "The Lady on the Grey," "Pictures in the Fire," and "The Touch of Nutmeg Makes It." Collier has influenced several generations of writers, including Ray Bradbury, Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, and Michael Chabon.
- "George Bagby" (Aaron Marc Stein), Honest Reliable Corpse. An Inspector Schmidt mystery, the 37th in a series that totalled 51 novels. 'She was beautiful. She was Geneva. That was all the smitten Bagby knew for sure -- besides the fact that she was immune to his blandishments. Now why, he wondered, would a girl like Geneva shoose seclusion as a dedicated paid companion to wealthy, ancient Mrs. Carpenter? Why would she fail to return from a quick shopping errand around the corner? Why had a handsome gigalo been seen with the arthritic old lady? Why did the body of a woman found in Central Park have no face? Bagby and his friend Inspector Schmidt had to find the answers -- and a murderer -- before he struck down his next victim. a top puzzler by this popular Crime Club author." Stein (1906-1985) piublished 114 fourteen mysteries as "Bagby," "Hampton Stone," and under his own name. He was named a MWA Grand Master in 1979.
- Fletcher Flora, Whisper of Love (originally published as Desperate Asylum). A noirish, sexed-up crime novel from a paperback master. "Lisa Sheidan...a beutiful woman, alone and unfulfilled, driven by unconventional desires...Avery lawes...only half a man because he never loved a woman...They met, and each saw in the other a chance for escape. And so, in a frantic search for normalcy, they were married. But they could know the terrible depths into which their union would plunge them. They could not know that theris was a marriage made in hell!" In addition to many short stories, Flora published 16 crime novels under his own name and two as "Ellery Queen."
- Donald Hamilton, The Frighteners. Matt Helm's 25th outing. "BLOOD WEDDING...One thing Matt Helm never worries about is the mission ahead. Even this one doesn't faze him. Pose as an oil-rich Texas groom to a bride half his age. The object: Pick up the trail of an illicit arms shipment deep in the heart of Mexico. If Matt fails, the whole country could blow hot and high in the inferno of revolution, right ar America's doorstep. But he doesn't know yet that he's not only the point man, he's the number one target..." Forget the insulting Dean Martin movies, Matt Helm is the real thing!
- You know that Matthew Leatham, 22, of New Port Richey, is a Florida Man because he has the outline of the state tatooed on his forehead. Therefore, it was of no surprise that he has been arrested for calling 911 twice to request a ride. When asked why he did not get a taxi, Leatham said he had no money. Marijuana may have been involved.
- An unamed Florida Man is in critical condition after being shot by an Orange County deputy during an exchange of gunfire. Details are hazy, but evidently the man choked a woman, left the area, returned and set fire to her house. He had left the scene before deputies arrived, but in true Florida Man tradition he returned once more and opened fire on the deputies. The third time is supposed to be charm but it wasn't for him.
- I have no idea how I missed this blast from the past. In 2015, a Florida Man piloting a private plane "drew" a 20-mile long giant penis on radar. Look for yourself, but be warned: It is a giant you-know-what: https://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2015/3/13/8207583/pilot-draws-giant-penis-flight-radar-florida
- Florida Man Demetris Lewis tried to add a little spice to his bond hearing for attempted burglary by flirting with Broward County Judge Tabitha Blackmon. It didn't work and the silver-tongued Lewis is being held on a $5000 bond.
- 47-year-old Florida Man Guillermo Negron Roque was arrested for shining a laser into the cockpit of an airplane attempting to land at Orlando Executive Airport. Because he is a Florida Man, the plane just had to be a police deprtment airplane. Negron Rooque insisted that he did not mean to shime the laser into the cockpit. But then, why did he do it twice?
- In Collier County, Florida Man Christian Lee Hunter is accused of decapitating a hamster and leaving the body in a box by the side of the road. The woman who found the body said that she had found five other boxes containing similarly mutilated small animals of the past year. Hunter, who provided a false name on the pet store sales records when he bought the hamster, was arrested. Perhaps he'll be sharing a cell with Florida Man Bryan Werner, 39, of Fort Myers. Werner was arrested for setting an opossum on fire. The opossum was still alive when deputies found it but, despite efforts from a local veterinarian, it died.
- What is with Florida Men and animals? At a Miami convenience store Florida Man Fernado Caignet Aguilera tried to exchange a live alligator for a 12-pack of beer. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservtion Commission spokeman Jorge Pino said, "I think that anyone who would conceive this scheme is not thinking properly."
- Kenyan woman's startup recycles plastic waste into bricks that are five times stronger than concrete https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/young-woman-in-kenya-makes-plastic-bricks-out-of-recycled-waste/
- World's first all-civilian mission to space will raise awareness for St. Jude Children's Reserch Hospital https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/inspiration4-space-mission-announced/
- Listen to a giant xylophone in a Japanese forest uses gravity to play ethereal Bach music https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/wooden-xylophone-in-japanese-forest-plays-bach/
- Chicago man goes around buying all of vendors' tamales during frigid weather to give them to the homeless https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/takorea-cocina-owner-buys-tamales-feeds-homeless/