Monday, January 09, 2006

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?


Have found that posting, sometimes, is not so much "what" but "which."
Could describe my renovations of my bathroom - the one with the secret window and the piss-yellow fixtures that you needed a flashlight to find.
Could have muttered more about Atwood's discussion of the plight of holy prostitutes. "Negotiating with the Dead" really is a good book.
Or wrinkled my forehead over the roadkill to publication of those "fifty outstanding authors" that I never heard of before. Reminds me more and more of the first book I ever bought - Fifty Famous Fairy Tales.
Of course, I could talk more about MY book(s), my paper cuts ( Sela), my eyestrain (M.G.) or my stereotype fetish (Ric) - see comments, yesterday and yon.
Or how I can program BVD's but not DVD's...
By the usual tangential association of words and ideas I came up with Alarm instead and the idea stuck with me like a dork at a party.
Alarm. The Alert. The Warning. The Signal.
That sort of alarm.
Not the silly bleat-bleat of the car alarm, not the insectoid burtz-burp of the carbon dioxide detector or the roadrunner back-up of some delivery truck.
The real thing.
The sound that prickles every atavistic hair on your head, that precipitates a cold, hard adrenalin rush, evokes the ancestral memory.
The war horn. The tocsin.
Police/firetruck/ambulance sirens are the contemporary equivalent, I suppose. I wonder, though, if urbans have become inured to that ululating wail of crying wolves, simply because it has become a familiar background noise, counterpoint to the subsonics of traffic, and they smother it in a mental silence. Like lambs.
Not me. Ever.
Color me primitif.
Our local ambulance response used to touch the trigger opposite our house when they came over a blind knoll. Always lifted me four inches off my seat.
I heard the last air raid siren go off in Toronto. In the middle of the night. It was a malfunction. It reminded everyone the system still existed and so it was subsequently removed.
But I knew, out of sleep, out of dream - immediately - what that deep, rising, bell- throated roar meant. Old WW2 movies notwithstanding.
To Arms! To Arms!
The Danes are coming!
Same with church bells. Not the carrousel carillon, but the now rare clamour of warning, of news. Gather ye villagers. Thank God for the Anglicans.
And it's a wall-banger for me when historical novels ignore it in a sort of anachronistic deaf dismissal.

22 comments:

Ric said...

Those war sirens should be kept oiled and ready.
Those sneaky Danes are planning yet another attack on Toronto.

Nice to start the week with a chuckle.

Bernita said...

So I'm silly.
You want a real laugh, Ric, go read Bonnie.She has another one of those incontinent posts of hers up.

Rick said...

Ah, the ringing of church bells!

In the first version of my book, I had a reverse version: All the church bells start pealing in celebration - striking my protagonist to the heart, because she is held in the enemy capital, and their triumph is her defeat.

The good news was that it was a false alarm; the bells were ringing on a rumor, and the Battle of Englehead actually went the other way.

The bad news is that I had to cut the book from 300,000 (!) words to 135,000. So battle, bells, and frozen heart all ended on the cutting-room floor, relegated to the strange neverworld of events that don't even happen in fiction.

Bernita said...

But you understood bells were important, Rick, the instant messenger of the day.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Bernita, Had you read the Bunion reporting of the standoff between Canadian and Faroese Fisherman right HERE you wouldn't be so flippant about Danes.

Mothers, hide yer children.

Bernita said...

I am pained.
Really pained.
Because I was serious.
Oh, Iago....
Must work on communication skills.
There's the hand-off, I mean stand-off over Hans Island, too.
But please thank the Bunion news crew, M.G., for their solicitous take on wet affairs ( we suspect the Bulgarians were involved) and the New Cold War, and also for the backgrounder on the Turbot Wars.
We still revere St. Brian of the Fish up here, you know.

R.J. Baker said...

Are you all speaking Swaheely?

Damn Bunions...

R.J. Baker said...

P.S. Berni, I really like you style...of writing. ; )

Bonnie Calhoun said...

ROFLMAO...Bernita, you talk about me....you make me laugh every day! If I haven't said it enough, those cartoons are priceless! They should be a book!

And last but not least, ROFLMAO, r.j., the word is 'Swaheli'...crack me right up, but I agree...what are ya' speakin' Swaheli...R.J. they always talk like that, I know the Bunions

Bernita said...

Thank you, R.J.
You have an interesting blog.

Bernita said...

WhadidIdo? WhadidIdo? ~fearful that it's "at" and not "with"~
Glad you like the cartoons, though, Bonnie.
But your blog is tremendous fun.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Thanks Bernita and everyone.The FOTWA News Service (Far Out and Thoroughly Wanky Alerts) takes its reporting seriously. We get to all the big stories...eventually.

Savannah Jordan said...

I've never read a historical romance, so I don't feel I should comment. Unless you are speaking in more general terms like wanting gongs at the appearnce of a god... :P

Bernita said...

Or flashes of light or something, Savanna, to indicate the transmutation.
"So let it be written; so let it be done."
Actually, I was commenting more on how we are threat- complacent and how that tends to reflect on historicals.

Robyn said...

In some areas those are still used, Bernita. Church bells brought families and loved ones running to hear the horrible news that their men had perished in the coal mine just days ago.

And thinking back on all the historicals I've read (and there are probably thousands) you're right. Not a single church bell. That's just wrong.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Robyn, for that example.

Some places used to use a factory horn or whistle as well.

Rick said...

Robyn - amazing and dismal that bells are so rarely used; they seem like a dramatic natural.

I did thumb through one recent book that uses them, The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory, starts with the bells ringing to signal Elizabeth's accession to the throne. As in my cut passage, they don't mark good tidings for the protagonist (Robert Dudley's ill-fated wife).

Bernita said...

I suspect that the fire beacons/watch fires get short shrift as well.

Rick said...

The fire beacons may get more notice. Though surely much rarer than bell tocsins, sources mention them in famous specific contexts, such as sighting the Armada.

Bell warnings might get less mention in the sources, precisely because they were not uncommon, and presumably were rung for fairly ordinary emergencies like a house burning down. And chroniclers might not follow our journalistic convention, e.g., "The first warning I had of [Whatever] was when the church bells all started ringing ..." More likely they'd just recount Whatever.

R.J. Baker said...

Oh, conditioned response. You Bunions sure beat around the bush to get to the meat. Geeze.

Are Amercians rampaging in Toronto, I can't keep up...

It sounds like there chasing Frankenstein to the waters edge up there.

Piss-yellow, prostitutes, where's the bouncing ball?

Bernita said...

Oh dear, that Sartre's, R.J...

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