Jan 9, 2008

Bi-Polar Bear

Been doing a little reading since the Christmas Holiday, as the long nights of Winter dictate. And I have a lot more on my night table to get me through the next few months. Andrew Vachss (my favorite eye patch-sportin' author), Stephen Hunter (my favorite film critic turned author) and some nice non-fiction stuff as well.

My current fascination is Dan Simmons' The Terror, a fictionalized account of the real-life ordeal of the H.M.S. Erebus and the H.M.S. Terror in the Arctic Circle in the mid-1800's. He adds a supernatural element to the whole tale to make it a fun Horror read to boot. If you aren't familiar with Simmons' work, he may be the only guy out there who is equally adept at the Sci-Fi and Horror genres. Summer of Night and A Winter's Haunting are great Horror tales out of the Ghost Story and It mold. Hyperion and it's sequels are truly unique in the Sci-Fi field, with some going as far as claiming that the main concept of machine vs. Man in The Matrix was lifted from it. I dunno about that. And if someone were going to steal the story from Hyperion, I would hope that they would make a better series of films out of them. 'Nuff said.

This novel, however, is really gripping me. It's a slow read, jumping from personal diaries to third person narrative back and forth through a three-year period, but a fascinating one. It plays right into one of my other obsessions too. I love, absolutely love, reading about expeditions to the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica. Can't get enough of that shit. I have often thought about actually going to Antarctica via New Zealand just to be a part of that vast, unrelenting wasteland on the bottom of the world. Gia thinks I'm crazy, especially since I hate Winter, yet I have these crazy yearnings to go to very extreme cold weather locales. I wanna sleep in an ice hotel, drink in an ice bar, see the Aurora Borealis or Aurora Australis. Feel a cold colder than any I have ever experienced in NY State.

I can't explain it. I don't want to drive in it, shovel it, or spend a particularly long amount of time in it. I just want to be able to experience it. Once. As much as I normally hate the Winter, I can take the cold. Better than almost anyone I know. I have ridiculous circulation...my hands and feet are never cold, and my Winter coat is usually half-again as heavy as normal folks. I know that it wouldn't matter in -30 degree temperatures or worse, but still...

So I read this book, and my adventurous heart soars. I can only take an hour or so of reading before I am on the Internets to satisfy my curiosity. Looking up obscure islands above the Arctic Circle, trying to find the Northernmost settlement (it's Alert, by the way. Way up high on Ellesmere Island in Canada), deciding that is too remote and settling for the Northernmost town I would like to visit (Longyearbyen in Norway), tracing the various routes of the Northwest Passage, reading about a couple stranded in Antarctica by a vicious storm. I love this crap!

I've gone as far, years ago, to inquire about job opportunities in Antarctica. It was right after I left a stuffy bank job, and before I started working from home. Way before I met Gia, obviously. I almost did it. Did you know that the US Military can give service medals for living/working in Antarctica with special attachments for those who winter over? Neither did I. Until reading about it on the Internets last night.

I want one!

Polar update #1 - I turned on the TV and Eight Below, the story of a scientific team and their sled dogs in the Antarctic, was airing on the channel that came on. Weird.

Polar update #2 - Looking at the suggestions on our NetFlix account, and one of the two main suggestions is Michael Palin's documentary mini-series Pole to Pole. It documents his journey from the North Pole to the South Pole. Really weird.


madge said...

Two words.

The Thing.

badgerdaddy said...

How very strange.

Your post title reminded me of something hilarious a psychologist friend of mine said. I'd been talking about shorter winters in Alaska, with little or no snow in some areas and no freezing. I said it had been confusing animals that ordinarily hibernate, and they'd been out early.

She replied, in all earnestness, : "Oh no, there would be loads of bi-polar bears everywhere."

It works on so many levels - especially as she didn't realise what she'd said for a few seconds.

Verdant Earl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elise said...

The book sounds really interesting. I like reading unique styles. I'm not familiar with Simmons but I like how you described his writing; jumping from third person to diaries.

I may have to purchase....


Slyde said...

"pole to pole" is the name of the next gay porno you have on order...

Kat said...

This sounds like my kinda book...but I doubt I'll get around to it any time soon. I'm way behind on my reading. Probably because I have a brutal habit of starting books when I'm not finished others first. Then i forget what the hell I was reading. It's a little bi-polar.

Bruce Johnson said...

Michael Palin's travel series, Pole-to-Pole, Around the World in 80 Days and Pacific Rim are great travelogues. Sort of like Monti Python goes on Holiday.

Verdant Earl said...

Elise - It's pretty good thus far...can't wait to see how it ends.

Slyde - The full title was "Slyde goes from Pole to Pole", to be truthful.

Kat - I try to never start a book without finishing the last one, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.

Lotus - I've seen Around the World in 80 Days. Looking forward to Pole to Pole.

Anonymous said...

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madge said...

pole to pole with michael palin is one of my favorites, seriously! he's the best.

FourLeafClover said...

I loved The Thing... and now you've made me really, really want to read The Terror!

jiggs said...

i think reading is for losers

Verdant Earl said...

crescenet - urm, Thanks?

Madge - It will have to wait until we are done with 7 seasons of the West Wing, unfortunately.

fourleafclover - One of Carpenter's best films, and that's saying a lot from the guy who made Halloween.

Jiggs - No, reading is fundamental. I'm sure I've heard that somewhere. ;)

elizabeth said...

Holy comments... urm yeah. It's friggin COLD there. So I'm thinkin it's a good thing you met Gia ;-)

TK Kerouac said...

I'm making a new link list
do you want to be linked?

my blog is private

tkkerouac.blogspot.com (private)
tkcensored.blogspot.com (new)

link if you wish

Verdant Earl said...

Liz - see what happens when I post a story about the frozen Canadian wastelands?

TK - link away! ;)