Back Porch Reading #4

Short reading recommendations, as you escape your house/office for a mug of joe on the porch–Sasquatch and Silver Lands folklore, a short story by Mark Twain, and a few comments about music.

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Sasquatch and the Bear

American Folklore is a favorite website of mine for short reading. It is a whole library of stories from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. What better break from the rigors of work than Adventure on the Rogue, retold by S.E. Schlosser? In this tall tale Sasquatch gets into it with a black bear. A slightly different version of this tale which is on the same site is called Sasquatch and the Bear, told by Captain Tim Brueckner, collected by S.E. Schlosser. I suggest reading both and enjoying the variations.

I truly recommend that you check out American Folklore. If you have an interest in stories about the beginnings of things, search these titles on the site: Coyote and the Colombia; Christmas Gift; and Sinks. Native American, African American, Asian American folklore, and more–all North American stories are collected.

Giants in Silver Lands

Speaking of giants, I must note that I am not a huge follower of some of the fantastical creatures in folklore like witches, werewolves, selkies, or vampires. I do like giants.

My love of folklore started with Tales from Silver Lands (1924) by Charles J. Finger  in paperback. The book’s corners curled up, the front cover fell off, and then the back did too.  Finger’s tales are collected from his travels in South America. Given my folklore preferences, there are stories in Finger’s collection which I would bypass. But, as stated, I have no argument with giants, nor with twins.

Chapter VIII is titled The Hero Twins. The twins are part of a greater band of young men called The Four Hundred. Twenty of The Four Hundred set out to conquer three hostile giants. One is outwitted by the twins with almost Odysseus level smarts.

Tales from Silver Lands is a great holiday gift for you (or a young reader in your home).

Mark Twain and Japanese Stiltgrass

As a teenager, I read The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg by Mark Twain, and the story has stuck with me. It is not a short short story, but you can read it in four parts.

In the first part, a stranger, who hates the town Hadleyburg, comes up with a plan to corrupt its inhabitants. Part 2 is about the effects of planting a seed. Imagine if someone went to her mailbox and found a free packet of seeds and planted them only to find that the plant was an invasive species. Perhaps, the plant is Japanese stiltgrass (microstegium vimineum), and before long it is creeping like wickerwork all through her flower beds.

How will she ever get rid of it? Well, you can’t let it go to seed, that’s for sure. Part 3 of Mark Twain’s story is about what happens when a town neglects its weeding.

The days drifted along, and the bill of future squanderings rose higher and higher, wilder and wilder, more and more foolish and reckless.

From Part 2 of “The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg” by Mark Twain

Sitting here on my porch, I can see some of that stiltgrass. Pardon me while I get that.

Part Four

I won’t tell you how the story ends, of course. You know what I say: read it for yourself. And that goes for Huck Finn too. It’s been banned a lot; that’s ever more reason to read it, and judge for yourself.

I’ll end instead with a note on music. I was sitting in my office this week, drudging along. I thought some music was what I needed, but I didn’t want to leave my office to find any. I have maybe three CDs in my office. One I had never played before. I remember getting it at a used record store for 99 cents.

Star Turtle

by Harry Connick, Jr.

My only previous familiarity with Harry Connick, Jr. is a Christmas album Ave Maria (1993). A friend of mine played it over and over. I’m not a big fan of the song itself “Ave Maria”, maybe because I am Protestant, but Harry’s version is #1 out of every version I have ever heard.

Star Turtle is not what you are thinking when you think Harry Connick, Jr. That’s probably why when I looked for reviews, the response was mediocre. And truthfully, it’s weird. Star Turtle is a creature from outer space who is trying to return there. The first song starts out “My hands are red”. Not what I was expecting.

But it’s funky, and it’s not all about love. Two pluses. Songs to give a listen: the featured song Hear Me in the Harmony; Boozehound; and City Beneath the Sea.

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Twitter @AnnMyer50744455

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