greygirlbeast: (Default)
Please comment, kittens. I just spent almost three hours on this bloody entry.

"Deny your pettiest of foes the satisfaction of defeat, or even of recognition, by consigning them to oblivion." – Old Sith Proverb (even though I just now made it up). Then again, as Brown Bird reminds us: "We file down our fangs on the bones of our foes." It's a damned conundrum, it is.

This is going to be a long entry, I think. Because, firstly, there's yesterday, and then, secondly, there's Ridley Scott's forthcoming Prometheus.

Yesterday, we finally left the house about two p.m. (CaST), and headed south and east to Conanicut Island and West Cove (~41°28'46.27"N, 71°21'40.50"W), nestled in amongst the ruins of Fort Wetherill. Longtime readers will recall this is one of our favorite destinations. It seemed a fitting place to spend Yuletide. Speaking of tides, as the new moon is Saturday, and we had a storm on Wednesday night, the last high tide had been very high, indeed. All the way back to the treeline. Therefore, all manner of interesting things had fetched up on the shore. When we visit West Cove, we're always most interested in mermaids' tears (beach glass) and the bones of gulls, cormorants, and other birds (and mammals, but mammalian bones are rare). I try to ignore the profuse plastic litter, mostly left behind by the summer people. I try to imagine the shoreline pristine, but it's hard when you know:

Around 100 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year of which about 10 percent ends up in the sea. About 20 percent of this is from ships and platforms, the rest from land.

- or -

Since the 1950s, one billion tons of plastic have been discarded and may persist for hundreds or even thousands of years.

Anyway, by my admittedly casual estimation, the tide must have stranded hundreds of rock crabs (Cancer irroratus), along with all manner of other Mollusca and Crustacea, many of which I've never before seen at West Cove. There were the remains of numerous genera of crabs and lobsters (including Limulus, Homarus, Libinia, and the aforementioned Cancer), pelecypods (including Mytilus, Ensis, Aequipecten, Mercenaria, Spisula, Crassostrea, and an as yet unidentified cockle), and gastropods, mostly slipper shells and periwinkles. I found a few interesting bird bones, and we collected some nice bits of glass. The sun was brilliant off the water, until banks of low clouds rolled in towards sunset. It was warmish, in the fifties Fahrenheit, except in the shadows. When the sun slipped behind the clouds, the temperature dropped into the low forties within minutes. I sat and listened to bell buoys and the slap of the surf, trying to calm myself for many days to come. As soon as we'd arrived, we climbed a large granite promontory and tossed a single sprig of yew into the dark waters of the cove as an offering to Panthalassa. We saw three ravens and a very large murder of crows, but, oddly, only a few seabirds, a few gulls that swept by overhead. Despiute the fact that I took a pretty hard fall in the rocks (and have the bruises and aches to show for it), it was a good (indeed, a bow tie) day at the sea. We headed home about 4:56 p.m., and I dozed all the way back to Providence. Winding up our celebration of Cephalopodmas, we watched the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society's excellent adaptation of The Call of Cthulhu (2005) and Robert Gordon's It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955).

At least the first day of winter has come and gone, and now the days will grow longer.

Yuletide 2011 )


---

Yesterday, I saw the first official "teaser" trailer for Ridley Scott's forthcoming Alien (1979) prequel, Prometheus, to be released in June 2012:



It must be understood that I've been waiting for this film for many years, even before Ridley Scott ever decided it would be made. Perhaps before he even considered it might ever exist. Few mythologies are more important to me than the Alien mythos (excepting those silly AvP tie-ins), so...well, it's gorgeous, this trailer, and the cast sounds brilliant, and I was pleased to hear that Giger was consulted and at least marginally involved with the production, and the news that Marc Streitenfeld has scored the film. That said, Scott's decision to shoot the film in 3D is abominable, and has left me deeply disappointed and a little sick about it all. Yes, he's following some of the processes used in Avatar, a spectacle that manages to be marvelous in 2D, and I can only fucking hope that the same will be true of Prometheus. It's not like I can boycott this film. But, like Scorcese's decision to do Hugo in 3D, I can only shake my head in disbelief and say that Ridley Scott knows better. Even watching the trailer, you can see those "coming at you," pandering-to-3D shots that so compromise good (and great) cinematography.

It is, at best, a wait-and-see situation. But it's one I await with regret and a heavy heart. When our greatest directors resort to gimmicks beneath them, what are lovers of film to do? Turn away from the future of cinema and be grateful for its glorious past? In this instance, and despite what Scott may be saying, the decision to go with 3D was almost certainly one based on heavy pressure from 20th Century Fox. We'll wait and we'll see.

Dreadful,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Martha Jones)
Er...yeah. I just wasted half an hour searching for a Martha Jones icon. It's what I do. Well, it's the sort of thing I do. Sometimes. Like this morning.

Yesterday, was a bit like the day before yesterday, only less so. Still mostly the busyness of writing, and too much email, but not as much too much email, and with the added burden of waiting. Few things in the world are as evil as waiting. I'm pretty sure that there's a whole level of Dante's Unabridged Inferno (to be published in 2019) where the damned suffer an eternity of...waiting. Nothing else. Just waiting. Yesterday, the waiting mostly involved Alabaster, and deadlines, and the impending vacation. Oh, and I went through the thirty-second "teaser" trailer for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, literally frame by frame, then sent a few notes to Brian Siano. He's doing the final editing this weekend. It's almost perfect.

Then, just after dark, Harlan called to thank me for sending him a copy Two Worlds and In Between (he'd called and asked for one), and he went on and on about how much he loved Lee's cover. Which is cool, because I was inspired to go in that direction by several of Harlan's covers which incorporate him as an element of a fantastic scene (see The Essential Ellison, for example). And then he read me the first part of "Rats Live On No Evil Star," and...well, these are the moments writers live for, aren't they? When our literary progenitors, those without whom we would not be, speak our own words back to us, words they helped, without intention, to fashion? Yes, I think these are those moments. Anyway, Harlan was generous and sweet and funny, as always.

---

Demons run when a good man goes to war.
Night will fall and drown the sun,
When a good man goes to war.

Friendship dies and true love lies,
Night will fall and the dark will rise,
When a good man goes to war.

Demons run, but count the cost:
The battle's won, but the child is lost.
~ River Song

Which is to say we watched two more episodes of Doctor Who last night, two more from Series Six: "A Good Man Goes to War" and "Let's Kill Hitler." And I will just say that, wow, "A Good Man Goes to War" redeems Series Six and back again. Damn, that was some good Who. And, as [livejournal.com profile] ashlyme predicted yesterday, I truly am enamored with Madam Vastra and Jenny. But some actual Victorian lesbian lizard-on-human action, please. Unmistakable innuendo is nice and all, but full on...um...I'm losing my train of thought. It is an excellent, excellent episode, as is "Let's Kill Hitler." There might yet be hope for Matt Smith (but not for Rory, who is only Xander recycled).

Also, more Rift last night (as per usual), leveling (Indus to 37) in the Moonshade Highlands. Later, I read a very, very good story, Angela Slatter's The Coffin-Maker's Daughter. I'd never read Slatter, but the story was very good, and was, indeed, about a coffin-maker's daughter, Hepsibah, who was herself a maker of coffins, and also a lesbian. What's not to like? Oh, plus Slatter was inspired by two Florence + the Machine songs, "My Boy Builds Coffins" and "Girl With One Eye." Then I read a new Stephen King story, "The Little Green God of Agony." As I've said, I don't care much for King, but I liked the title. And the story has a certain strength, and wasn't bad, if only the ending hadn't veered off into such clichéd creep-show horrors. If your stories fall apart when the monster appears on stage, stop writing about monsters. I drifted off to sleep sometime after four ayem, watching Frank Borzage's 1932 adaptation of A Farewell to Arms, which really is better than Charles Vidor's 1957 version, and not just because Gary Cooper is cooler than Rock Hudson.

Also, because I was admonished in yesterday's comments by [livejournal.com profile] mizliz13 for using the recently overused and perverted adjective awesome, and admonished rightly so, from here on I shall use "bow tie" in its stead.

---

Today is an assembly day. I must pull Sirenia Digest #72 together, and try to get it out before midnight (CaST). By the way, "Question @ Hand #5" will be the last "Question @ Hand." Indeed, I've half a mind not to run it, but that would be a sleight to the few people who did write pieces (and the one who wrote two!). I think that the decline in replies (#1 had over 30, about a year and a half ago; #5 had 10 responses) is further evidence of the dramatic changes here on LJ.

And now, the platypus.

Don't Get Cocky, Kid,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (walkenVNV)
0. Not gonna write about SW:toR today. There's too much else. I'll come back to it tomorrow. But, in short, it's the best MMORPG I've ever played, though I will temper that estimation with some minor caveats.

1. I haven't had to mark any days L for a long time (thank you, meds), but yesterday was a lost day. There was very little in me but anger. I managed only a flury of email before having Spooky drive me to the Athenaeum. It was peaceful downstairs in the reading room. The comforting, soothing smell of old, old books. Ghosts beyond counting. I am only sorry I committed a blasphemy by using my iPad amid those shelves (I'm not being sarcastic). I proofed the pencils for Alabaster #1, pages 17 through 25, but they were almost perfect, so it wasn't much work.

2. Today is the third anniversary of the day I first saw wintry precipitation in New England. Today, though, it's 52˚F, sunny and windy.

3.* Gonna talk shop. The business of publishing that is. Frequently, people ask me for writing advice, and, almost without fail, I refuse to offer it. But here's something. If a magazine, especially a fairly prominent online science-fiction zine, isn't willing to pay more than 0.003¢/word for a reprint in return for (and I quote from the contract) "digital media rights," which said contract defines as "...all non-physical forms including but not limited to html, Kindle, iTune apps, Mobi, ePub, and others" (id est, everything imaginable) then you need to stay far, far away from these sorts of publishers. They have nothing to offer you. No, not even "visibility." But, though I ought to know better, I just signed such a contract, because I have mountains of stories available for reprint, and when I agreed to the arrangement – several months ago – I had no idea what comprehensive electronic rights were expected in return for the paltry $25 I'd agreed to as an advance. I only saw the contract on November 21st (this is for their December issue), though the reprint request was made by them two months earlier. In between, I had to stop them from rewriting portions of the story. Anyway, point being, I don't care what the online publication is, you and your "digital media rights" are worth more than 0.003¢/word. Last I checked, pro rates were still hovering between 3-5¢/word. And, by the way, this emphatically was not Subterranean Magazine or Clarkesworld, both of whom have always paid me very well for online rights. I feel like, more and more, we're working – all of us, not just authors – in an environment that aggressively discourages dissent, then punishes dissenters, those who aren't so happy to get any work that they'll work under any conditions and for any price.

4. Today, I will do my very best to finish Alabaster. That's just five pages of script.

5. Please don't forget Question @ Hand #5!

6. I lay awake night before last, in the arms of Monsieur Insomnia, and watched George P. Cosmatos' Leviathan (1989) for the third or fourth time. What sort of film do you get when you splice Ridley Scott's Alien to John Carpenter's The Thing, then set it at the bottom of the sea? Well, you get Leviathan, a film which shamelessly steals from both those other films in almost every way possible. When I first saw it in theatres, I was furious. Later, on video, it just sort of bored me. But Monday night, watching it, I thought, Well, if I give Alien and The Thing each an A+ for Astounding, then I ought to give Leviathan a C for Could Have Been Worse, or Competent, or maybe for Cause I'm Only Half Awake. As the film has aged, it's easier to forgive the blatant plagiarism. Leviathan has taken on a questionable charm all its own. Peter Weller is truly fun to watch as he swaggers and scowls and uses the performance to bemoan the state of his career as it swirls round and round the drain. I actually love Peter Weller, and here he seems to be giving Cosmatos a well-deserved middle finger. And, too, Meg Foster autopilots her way through the role of the Tri-Oceanic Ice Queen rep giving the crew the shaft. It's those blue-white eyes of hers. But the rest of the cast is boring as dusty zwieback, though the monster/s is/are pretty cool. The whole thing with the sunken Russian ship and the blurry photos from its infirmary, that's nice, too. The tech is amusingly quaint (but not a tenth as convincing as the "used futures" seen in Alien and Blade Runner). As for the ending, it's clear neither the director nor the screenwriters were even trying to make sense. Still. Watch it if you can't sleep.

7. Tomorrow, I'll post the final cover for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. (It's not the one up at Amazon).

8. Here are photos from a spectacular sunset on Monday:

28 November 2011 )


Counting Fractions of Fractions of Pennies,
Aunt Beast

* Postscript (4:47 p.m.): The editor of the unnamed magazine has contacted me and withdrawn his offer to reprint the story for 0.003¢/word. This is really the best outcome. I would have withdrawn it myself, but didn't want them left in a lurch (though they'd hardly treated me with similar considerateness), what with the December issue looming. Now, I only wonder who told them about my post, as I'm pretty damn sure he doesn't read my blog. And I wonder how far the news of my evil treachery will flow through the grapevine, and if I'll be blacklisted by others of this caliber. We take responsibility for the outcome of our actions, if we choose to act.
greygirlbeast: (twilek1)
1. Sometimes, I'm wrong. And then there are these times when I'm wrong on a cataclysmic scale. The trick is admitting one's mistakes, and I'm pretty good at that. So, without further ado, I have to admit that Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of the best games I've ever played. No one's more amazed than me. As you'll recall from earlier posts, I was impressed with neither the cut scenes or gameplay videos I was seeing online. Then, yesterday, my time in the beta finally came around. I did my work (I'll come to that later), and then started playing around four p.m. And...except for a half hour dinner break, I played SWtoR until four a.m. (!!!). And it was an utter delight. I solo leveled a blue Twi'lek slave girl until she was a Level 10 Sith Apprentice to Lord Vash. For a beta, the gameplay was amazingly smooth. The voice acting and writing are very well done, and I wasn't the least bit annoyed by the things that seem to be annoying other players (frequent cut scenes, lots of time spent running, etc.). So, because life is stranger than fiction, I unreservedly suggest others may also love this game. I'll certainly be buying a copy when it's released on December 20th.

Here's what baffles me. We know what lousy movies are made from video games. I mean, it's almost impossible to make a halfway decent movie from a video game. So...how is it that Star Wars episodes 1-3 were so unrelentingly awful, and this game is so good? It's the inversion of a truism. In another entry I'll come back to why I think this inversion was possible. But, for now, I'll just say the game I played last night...and this morning...that's the fix I've been waiting for since the summer I saw The Empire Strikes Back twenty times in theatres (1980).

2. Yesterday I wrote pages Twelve, Thirteen, and Fourteen on Alabaster. Only eight pages left to go, and, like I said, I'm thinking I won't be missing that deadline after all, which is sort of amazing, considering the chaos of late (and the damn fool gaming binge).

3. TONIGHT, kittens, I will be posting the Question @ Hand for Sirenia Digest #72. I want gritty, disturbing replies. The ten I like best will be "printed" anonymously in the digest. If you've been a part of this before, you already know that the answers will be screened, and that no one but me will be able to read your answers (unless it's printed, and then, as I said, anonymity). I have all my polyps crossed that there will be some amazingly unnerving answers.

Oh, and to repeat what I said a couple of days back, we're running a Sirenia Digest special. Subscribe now, and you'll get #71 free with issue #72. In fact, if you subscribed any time in November you get #71. This is to be sure people reading the alternate first chapters of Silk will have access to the entire manuscript. But we can't afford to run it beyond #72, so you only have until the 5th of December to get this deal.

4. If anyone ever says, "You can be a Time Lord or you can be a writer," for Dog's sake, tell them you want to be a Time Lord.

I'm coming platypus....

There Is Only Passion,
Aunty Beast
greygirlbeast: (Bjork)
On this day in 1965, the stars were right, and the Old Ones dropped some especially gnarly acid and, in the throes of their LSD-induced mischief, delivered unto Iceland the sparkly, polymorphous girl-thing duly named Björk Guðmundsdóttir. So don't tell me we don't have proof of alien civilizations. Hamingjusamur Björk Day!

Today is going to be weird. I feel it coming, like a great black tsunami.

As for yesterday, well...let's put it this way: Fuck me dead. After spending three days I could ill afford to lose trying to write "Sexing the Weird" I realized (about 6 p.m. last night) that I was writing shit and, at least, had the good sense to stop. Eighteen pages of shit. And if I'd kept going, I'd have wasted another day or two, and have thirty-two pages of shit. So, I've just emailed Bill Schafer to tell him there will be no introduction to Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, or if there will be, it will be very short. Something like, "This is my weird sex book about weird sex." Only I'll have it translated into Icelandic first. Or Finnish. Or maybe Basque. Basque is suitably weird. But yeah, washout. And throwing away words is among the most distasteful things I have to do as a writer, which is one reason I do not write in drafts. But better to know when you've made a horrid mess of things than to be such a moron that you just keep on keeping on.

Last night, I took a hot bath and tried to drown my horror at all those lost words in innumerable hours of Rift. Iron Pine Peaks was hit by the Endless Air Invasion®. No, really. I think one of the programmers spilled his Cheetos and Mountain Dew in a server. The baddies just kept fucking respawning, and there were no air rifts to close to stop the attacks, so an impromptu alliance of Guardians and Defiants were forced to band together to protect the imbued wardstone outside the Chancel of Labors against the merciless forces of Crucia's Storm Legion. This insanity continued about an hour and forty-five minutes before we realized the game had burped, and the "boss" was never comin' round to end the event. But, hey...stuff blew up. Thank you, Mountain Dew.

Just this second got word from Subterranean Press that preorders on Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart "will start soon, likely in a few weeks." So, there you go. Ba da pa pa. Oh, and signature pages are on their way to me. Whee!

Er...I guess that's it for now. But you should join us in Rift for RP and party favors, ice cream and yetis. Defiant side, Faeblight shard. Watchers of the Unseen. Our guild especially needs warriors. Bahmi make good warriors. But, yeah. Come. Play. You'll wonder how you ever lived without it. I shit you not, kittens.

Meanwhile, I have an obsidian tsunami to face.

Virðingarfyllst,
Föður–Eða Móðursystir Óþokki
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Ugh. Yeah, we're awake now, right? I've been chattering away like Robin fucking Williams for an hour, and I think Spooky's ready to murder me. But, then, she usually is. Ready to murder me.

Hey, let's get off on the right foot. Here's some depressing-ass shit: "Police Seek Escaped Exotic Animals in Ohio." And while we're at it, since when is it acceptable to only capitalize the first word of a headline and any proper nouns? Who decided that? It's fucking idiotic. I think I only noticed this about a month ago, but it seems to be a New Internet Rule. I'm sure some bunch of cocksuckers are responsible, like the authors of the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style, who have to keep making up "new rules" so people have to keep buying new copies. Linguistic evolution by way of capitalism, yes! Anyway, the proper way to write a headline...oh, never mind. World, meet hell in a hand basket, and you kids get off my lawn.

Yesterday, I worked. Can't say how or on what. I am told the beans will be spilled in only a few more weeks, you will all be happy, and I can stop keeping this particular SECRET.

Also, [livejournal.com profile] sovay reports having received her copy of Two Worlds and In Between, so folks who wisely pre-ordered (even the trade hb edition is almost sold out now, less than fifty copies remaining) should be getting it this week and next.

---

I was going to talk about Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). Yes, I was. I said that yesterday. First off, the pros. This is a good movie, and remember, I may have seen the Carpenter film more times than any living being (easily a hundred times, start to finish). It's a terrifying, fun, awe-inspiring tribute to the Carpenter film and, for the most part, it gets it right, because the filmmakers had the proper respect for the original and convinced the studio/producers to permit them to make a prequel instead of a remake. Though we do not need to know what happened before Carpenter's film, or what happens afterwards (this is part of the film's genius), the prequel doesn't provide some sort of infodump that ruins the original. Oh, and no SPOILER WARNING; if you don't want to read this, then avert thine eyes. However, rather than fawn over the good points (which are many), I'll point out those things I found annoying or disappointing. You know, like any good internet "reviewer." Overall, Heijningen gets the continuity with the first film right, and his scientific gaffs are minor (no one has ever found a prehistoric carnivore preserved in tundra, though we're shown Mary Elizabeth Winstead's paleontologist, Dr. Kate Lloyd, examining what appears to be a frozen Homotherium near the beginning of the film). I loved the microscope view of the alien cells consuming human cells and converting them, and the understanding that the alien was single-celled virus capable of acting as a multicellular organism. Wait, I'm saying good things. What kind of internet reviewer am I?!

Anyway, the delightful isolation of the first film is broken when we cut to Lloyd's lab at Columbia University, whereas maintaining that sense of claustrophobic isolation was crucial to the film's success. Bad filmmakers. Also, this film isn't nearly as quiet or as slowly paced as the 1982 film, but if it were, 2011 audiences would probably walk out, having been trained for constant, unrelenting action. One thing I love about the Carpenter film is the pacing, which took a cue from Alien (1978). Also, while the special effects and creature design were very good, I still prefer the analog effects in the original. Give me latex and methylcellulose over pixels any damn day of the week. I liked how we were shown the alien's ability to absorb and replicate via ingestion, but also it's ability to infect and slowly convert a human. I loved that we are shown so much of the inside of the alien ship, but was annoyed that the original means of its discovery wasn't preserved. The prequel does a pretty good job of being set in 1982 (thank fuck it wasn't updated), but I missed seeing 1982 computer technology. That would have been charming in the right way. There are too many characters, and except for Lloyd, they have a tendency to bleed together (no pun intended), one into the next. A wonderful thing about the first film was its carefully delineated characters.

The ending is handled well. I very much like the sense that we're given the impression that Lloyd, despite having survived, knows it's best if she sits there in that snowcat and freezes to death. Ultimately, we're left with the ambiguities and fatalism of the original, the sense of impending apocalypse, and you better stay for the credits, because that's where Carpenter's and Heijningen's fuse seamlessly together (no pun intended), with footage from the 1982 version. Again, DO NOT LEAVE WHEN THE CREDIT ROLL BEGINS, or you'll miss where 1982 meets 2011. Tentative final conclusion: I'll give it 8 out of 10; definitely worth seeing in the theaters.

---

We finished Shirley Jackson's The Sundial last night. It's a wonderful novel, with multiple interpretations and a marvelously inconclusive ending. I learned so much from Jackson. Is this a statement on the Catholic Church (the Halloran House) and Protestantism (the inhabitants; remember that Jackson was an atheist)? On human idiocy in general? The hysteria of crowds? Jackson's strong dislike for insular New Englanders (which she repeats again and again in other works)? We have to draw our own conclusions, or draw none at all. And now, I will announce (though I may have already beat myself to it) that the next Aunt Beast Book Club book is Collin Meloy and Carson Ellis' Wildwood. Note that this is a beautiful hardback, and if you purchase it as an ebook, you're shooting yourself in the foot and will miss at least half the pleasure. Also, last night I read Peter Crowther's "Memories." And played some Rift. I miss the house guests. I need more of them.

Speaking of whom, here are some crappy, blurry shots I took on Friday night at Spooky's parents' farm in Saunderstown, before we stepped out into the torrential fucking downpour to get the first round of nude shots of Eva, when Imp finds her at the side of the road. We were ordering pizza (thank you Spooky and Geoffrey) and playing with Spider cat, the feline basketball:

14 October 2011, Part 2 )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Better late than never. Well, that's always been a dubious adage, but whatever.

I begin to see a trend. When I was writing The Red Tree I became, in some sense, Sarah Crowe. When I was writing The Drowning Girl, I became India Morgan Phelps. And now that I'm writing Blood Oranges, I find myself becoming Siobahn Quinn. No, this didn't used to happen.

Yesterday, as predicted, was spent pulling the Digest together, writing the prolegomenon etc. Finding the cover image, and the ending for the back page. What the fuck is wrong with LiveJournal that is doesn't fucking know how to fucking spell "prolegomenon"? Anyway, I also took care of some last minute details regarding Two Worlds and In Between, which goes to the printer any day now.

Red Bull and benzodiazepines. Two great tastes that go great together. Oh, look! LiveJournal can't spell "benzodiazepines," either. Ah, the brilliant internet.

Hot Outside, here in Providence. Well, hot for Providence.

Good RP in Rift last night. Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus. You guys don't know what you're missing. If we're gonna let these computers ruin our lives, and change what it means to be human, we might as well have some fun with it, right?

---

Just back from a matinée of Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens. And I loved it. Almost unconditionally. You know what I said about how we need B-movies? Well, it's true. But this film unexpectedly transcends a category I expected it to fall within. It's simply a good movie. Maybe not great cinema, but a good movie. And, right now, I'll settle for that. The cast is marvelous, top to bottom: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford (who actually does more than play Harrison Ford), Clancy Brown, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine, etc. Someone was mouthing off on IMDb about (Oh, it can spell "IMDb"!) this being the "worst idea for a film ever." It is nothing of the sort. Why assume alien invasions would always come in the present (or, perhaps, the future)? Anyway, as to the central premise, to quote Stephen Hawking:

If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet.

A point which is touched upon in the film. The Native American bit, I mean. Obviously, the subject of the film is an alien race seeking to exploit the Earth, and willing to commit genocide to do it. Wait. There has to be another word, one for wiping out an entire, particular species to get what you need. Sure, the end result is extinction, but there ought to be a word for the process. Ah. Extermination. That will do.

Anyway, yes. A very, very good, fun, and moving film, working both as a Western and an SF film. I recommend it unconditionally. Unless you're too jaded for the fundamental concept and go into the theatre needing to be convinced. Here we are now, entertain us. If that's your attitude, save the price of admission and stay home. But I give it a solid two thumbs up.

---

I think Frank the Goat is feeling better. Now if someone would just teach him how to spell.

Up to Here,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
No sleep yet. Well, about twenty minutes this afternoon. Currently, it's 82˚F inside, and frightfully muggy. I think I'm having New Orleans 1995 flashbacks.

Lying in bed, watching the dark that's already begun to fade, and reading about thylacines. Thinking about all the work that didn't get done in July and has to get done in August. Terrified at how fast summer is slipping past, and yet suffering summer. I've taken all my meds for the night (morning), but still no sleep and still this restless, tumbling mind.

I'm not even sure I'm sleep before dawn. We have, officially, 58 minutes before sunrise. But the sky will be bright in another ten or fifteen minutes. I've always been an alien, but here I am not even attuned to the sky.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Oh my fucking dogs. We didn't get to sleep until 4:30 ayem, then woke at 10 ayem. I woke from a hellish dream (thank you, both of you, you who know who you are, you and that fucking day in October 2005) into the mouth of an overheated water buffalo. More on that shortly. The overheated water buffalo, not the hellish dream or heat-induced sleep deprivation. Our heat index is already 97˚F.

Where was I? No, where am I? Oh, here. Great comments yesterday, kittens. Let's keep it up, through another scalding day.

Just sold "The Prayer of Ninety Cats" to Subterranean Press for Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 3. Nope, don't know the book's release date yet, but I'm very happy with the sale.

As for yesterday, well...other than a LOT of email, the less said the better. Work that should have been done was not done. However, I have devised a way to recover. It calls for me finishing Blood Oranges at the end of the third week of August, instead of at the end of July. Fortunately, there was wiggle room. Now, I just gotta get back on that goddamn horse by Monday.

If you're reading this, Merrilee, I've not yet acquired a second coolerator. The one we needed was out of stock. AC units are crazy out of stock up here, which is hardly surprising. Our windows really aren't conducive to window units, so we need another (and smaller than Dr. Muñoz) portable unit. So, no longer broke, but still broiling.

---

One thing that has occurred to me is how little the "triggery" people actually know about human psychology. Sure, if you've been attacked by a dog and maimed, you're going to have issues with dogs. Obviously. Well, no. Many, but not all, people will react that way. Let us avoid oversimplification. Anyway, point is, there are going to be hundreds or thousands of other "triggers," most of them working on a subconscious level, that you'll never be able to guard against. Which leads to all the "unexplained" anxiety and panic attacks experienced by people with PTSD. Which brings us back to the problem of oversimplified pop psych. Mostly, I think the "triggery" folk are desperately trying to control their lives, when all our lives are, genuinely, all but completely beyond our control.

---

Last night, we watched Colin and Greg Strause's Skyline (2010). When I saw the trailer in the theatre, I was impressed and hopeful. But bad and lukewarm reviews kept me away. In truth, it's a perfectly enjoyable big bug sort of sci-fi invasion flick. Sure, it needs a script in the worst sort of way, and the acting's pretty off key. And talk about "unsympathetic characters," what a lot of sleazeballs. However, this is irrelevant, as the real stars are the SFX, which is how it works with the Bros. Strause. And the SFX and creature design, that part's exquisite. It's just a shame no one hired screenwriters who could, you know...write. Or directors that could direct people, and not just CGI programmes. But, like I said, it was fun to watch – quite a bit more than Battle Los Angeles. And unlike Battle Los Angeles, it had a pleasantly and more realistically bleak ending.

After the movie, we watched the first three episodes of Steven Speilberg's Falling Skies. Well, the two-part pilot and the first regular episode. Not bad, in that TV non-space opera sf sort of way. Watchable. Some good moments here and there. But it does feel like television. Which is to say that it feels constrained, and I don't believe for a minute all those people would be so clean six months after becoming nomadic refugees from an extraterrestrial invasion. Creature design is so-so. I find this sudden bloom of alien menace films interesting. True, it's a nice break from zombies. But I wonder at the cause. Probably just the usual Hollywood clusterfuck, especially given that both Skyline and Battle Los Angeles flopped at the box office. The only truly good film to emerge from this, of course, is Abrams' superb Super 8 (a joy, all round).

---

Two films I'm very excited about just now – excited about their potential – are Andrew Stanton's John Carter (US release date 9 March 2012) and Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing (US release date 14 October 2011). I do worry the latter could go horribly awry, but the trailer looks very promising. As for the former, I think I have faith in Stanton to do it right, and I love the trailer. I was a huge fan of Burroughs, and especially the Mars books, when I was a kid. Anyway, here are both trailers:

John Carter:



The Thing:



---

I'm living in an age
That calls darkness light.
Though my language is dead,
Still the shapes fill my head.
-- Arcade Fire

I have no tribe.

Okay...gotta try to be productive.

Hotter Than Hot,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (white2)
Another rough night last night. Is this becoming the insomnia journal? It has been before, so shall it be again. Spooky's calling my doctor in a bit to see if we can double the Prazosin tonight. Tiddley pom. Dreams I won't get into. I lay in bed until sometime after three, then took an Ambien (insuring I'd be a zombie this ayem), got up, and listened to the Audible.com version of Daughter of Hounds until almost four.

Yesterday (which followed a good night's sleep) was unproductive. I have a story due in at the beginning of July that must be both supernatural and noir. Which should be easy as pie for me. I've certainly done it before. But I'm having trouble finding the subject matter of this particular story, trying to avoid lame, done-to-death plots, like hard-boiled, world-weary male detective falls in love with femme fatale who, it turns out, really is a femme fatale (i.e., vampire, siren, succubus, werewolf, etc.). I am looking for the artful solution to this problem, one that won't make me yawn. Because I love the marriage of noir and dark fantasy, when it's done well. Last night, trying to sleep, thinking about potential stories, the title "The Maltese Unicorn" popped into my head. Gagh. No, I will not be writing a story called "The Maltese Unicorn." I wanted to punch myself in the face just for thinking of it.

My thanks to everyone who bid in the lastest round of eBay auctions. Another round will begin soon. Meanwhile, have a look at Spooky's sea-glass jewelery at Dreaming Squid Dollworks.

Last night we watched Olatunde Osunsanmi's The Fourth Kind, a film so stupid that not even Milla Jovovich could redeem it. And that's saying something. I actually enjoyed the most recent Resident Evil film, almost entirely because of the presence of Milla Jovovich. Don't get me wrong, I (obviously) love the "faked documentary" approach, when it's done well. Here, it's not. Never is it even halfway convincing. And don't get me started on the Sumerian ancient astronaut nonsense. Not a good movie, at all.

Anyway, enough for one morning. Comment if you dare. Lately, the number of those who dare has fallen off rather dramatically.
greygirlbeast: (Neytiri)
There was no time yesterday for a blog entry, as we had to drive to Massachusetts to find a screening of Avatar that wasn't 3-D.But, had I made an entry yesterday, I would have said that, on Thursday I somehow went from completely locked up (first half of the day, carrying over from Wednesday and Tuesday) to writing 1,106 words on "The Jetsam of Disremembered Mechanics." Which was a huge relief. I might survive this month, after all. Today, I'll go back to work on the story, and hopefully it will be finished by Sunday evening, and I can move along to Sirenia Digest #49.

---

So, yesterday we drove to Massachusetts for a 1:30 (CaST) showing of James Cameron's Avatar. And I think (given how many times I've said I'm not someone who can write actual film reviews) I'll just cut to the chase and say that this is a brilliant, stunning, and terrifying film. In some ways, it's a film I've been waiting my whole life to see. Not merely because Cameron and Weta have created such a convincing extraterrestrial biosphere, and not only because it speaks to my "parahuman" psyche, but because that "alien" landscape is merely one part of such a grandly sublime package. During and after the film, my head was crammed full of things I wanted to say here, and I should have written those things down, because now I can't seem to find the words. The film affected me deeply, and on a level I'm not sure I can articulate. Generally, reviews are either evaluations, arguments, or a combination of those two things. I can evaluate this film, and if I had a good deal more time at my disposal (and the requisite motivation), I could also argue why this film is not only a great film, but why it is an important film. They might even be convincing arguments for some. But I'm going to have to settle for something more to the point.

With Avatar, Cameron (and all those who worked with him) have created a film that places humanity in the role of alien invader, inverting Wells' War of the Worlds formula. Which is exactly what I was hoping to see. Indeed, I would say that Cameron inverts one of his own earlier efforts, Aliens (1986). In 2154, a joint military/corporate effort from a dying earth seeks to exploit the mineral resources of an earth-like moon circling a gas giant in a distant solar system. The problem, of course, is that a sentient race lives on the moon, one that is....well, we get into spoiler territory here, and I very much don't want to spoil this for anyone. I'm honestly not sure what to say (as I may have said above). Roger Ebert and other genuine reviewers have already said so much that needed saying about the film.

I'm not so much impressed that, with Avatar, Cameron was willing to make a film with such a strong pro-environmentalist and anti-war message. Lots of people are doing that (though none have risked this sort of budget in the process). What truly impresses me is that Cameron has made what is essentially an anti-human film. On Pandora, in the conflicts between mankind and the Na'vi, we see what we've seen on Earth for the entirety of human history. In general and with precious few exceptions, humans will go to any length to exploit Nature for short-term and short-sighted gains. And "contacts" between technological and not-so technological civilizations pretty much always end with the latter getting throttled, displaced, and often driven to the brink of extinction. Avatar says, as I have always said, that there's no reason whatsoever to think things would be any different were "we" to encounter another civilization on another planet. But there's more here than some hackneyed, naive fairy-tale of the "noble savage." At the core of this film is an ingenious sort of evolutionary surprise that gives the Na'vi a fighting chance.

I'll also say that Avatar impressed me as a profoundly pagan film, but I know that it's too easy to see what we want to see in art that we love. So I'm not going to dwell on that (though Avatar already has some Xtians in a lather for this very reason).

I could go on and on, but I won't. I will say that I thought the science was pretty decent. Sure, there are a few holes here and there, but they're nothing serious, nothing that interferes with the story. I could believe in the animals and plants I saw on Pandora, that I was seeing viable ecosystems. The creatures are as amazing and gorgeous as any fictional fauna and flora that have ever graced a screen, and I very much hope that we'll see a book from Weta Workshop like the "natural history" of Skull Island they released back in 2005, because I very much want to know more.

Go see this film. It's a damn good movie. Like The Road, It's terrible and beautiful and true. Which means that it's important.

* H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898)
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 2)
Most of yesterday was spent sitting here, not writing, simply trying to find the piece I need to have finished a week ago for Sirenia Digest #40. I have to find it today. I also looked over the CEM for The Red Tree with Spooky, and the copy-editors' marks are light, indeed, just as Anne (my editor) said. Which is a huge relief, time constraints and exhaustion being what they are.

I'm also pleased to see that there have already been two bids on the long-lost Monster Doodle sculpture.

Late yesterday afternoon, or early yesterday evening...whichever...Spooky pried me away from the computer, where I was not writing, where my fingers were not moving across the keyboard, where the MS Word "page" was still fucking blank, and took me to Warwick to see Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon's Monsters vs. Aliens. It was actually a lot of fun, despite what Roger Ebert says. Of course, we were smart and avoided the 3D nonsense. I thought it was big, goofy fun. Insectosaurus made me smile, as did Stephen Colbert's President Hathaway.

---

Turns out, after a lot of complaints, Magnolia Entertainment/Magnet are releasing a second version of Låt den rätte komma in, with the theatrical-release English subtitles restored. But, they refuse to offer exchanges to those of us who bought the butchered version of the DVD.

---

I have very mixed feelings about this whole Earth Hour thing. Yes, Spooky and I will be shutting off the lights (and other electrical appliances) between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. But I can't help but feel that this whole affair is little more than an empty gesture. If governments began requiring nightly blackouts, especially as regards nonessential lighting, it would be a very small step in the right direction, and we might begin to see a difference. Mostly, this is the sort of thing that strikes me as belonging in the "too little, too late" bin, no matter how many warm fuzzies it might inspire, or how many cramping consciences it might alleviate.

Anyway, time to think wicked thoughts...in the most artistic manner possible, of course.
greygirlbeast: (white)
An odd day yesterday. After breakfast, I sat down and did my journal entry. I emailed my editor at Penguin, and I emailed Andrew Migliore about the Lovecraft Film Festival. And then, suddenly, I felt as though I was coming down with the flu. Within half an hour, I was aching and could hardly sit up, much less think clearly enough to write and/or edit. Which was all rather terrifying, given what is left to be done on The Red Tree , and given it has to be back in NYC by the end of the work day on Monday. And that I immediately have to get Sirenia Digest #39 written and out to subscribers. No time for the flu. Or anything else virulent. So, I loaded up on elderberry and used zinc swabs in my nasal passages, then went to bed, hoping desperately to stave off whatever might be happening.

Spooky read to me from Let the Right One In. I dozed. And by late in the day, just before dark, I felt quite a bit better. I began to suspect it was only exhaustion, the way I've been pushing myself the last week, the stress, the insomnia. I sat up and tried to clear my head by doing some Tarot work (mostly with the Fool, the Magician, and the High Priestess). But I dozed again, and Spooky woke me just before dinner. I felt much, much better. We had a proper Kindernacht, which has been so neglected of late. Hot dogs for dinner, then two movies. The first, a Spanish film directed by Isidro Ortiz, Eskalofrío (2008; English title, Shiver). A murderous feral child story, that had a great deal of potential, hints of Angela Carter, and was almost a pretty good movie. But it kept stooping to horror-film clichés, including a dumb, tacked-on final scene to remind you it really was a scary movie. Still, worth watching. However, our second film was the direct-to-DVD farce Species III. Now, I hated Species, and I loathed Species II, and I only watched the third film out of a dim, misguided curiosity. It was even worse than the first two. If you can't make alien sex sexy, especially when you have Giger designs to work from, you should just pack it, forget about film making, and get a job flipping burgers or something. Lots of nudity. Lots of very mediocre alien effects. Actresses who delivered their lines with all the conviction of porn stars. Now, I have to watch Species IV, just to see how much worse it can get.

Anyway, I feel pretty much okay today, which leads me back to the exhaustion theory.

After the movies, there was about an hour of WoW. And there was one good moment, when the head of our rp guild ejected someone seconds after he or she or it had joined. Some bozo who asked in guild chat, in which we are only permitted to speak ic, "So what the !@#!*@ does rp mean? lol" Now, this is an rp guild, on an rp server. Our guild master then asked this person, named "whydoilive," why hesheit had signed onto an rp server, before bothering to understand rp. "My buddies told me to come." To which our guild master replied, "Wrong button," and immediately ejected whydoilive from the guild. Very satisfying, that. And, while we're at it, I begin to suspect that "lol" is becoming a new punctuation mark. Increasingly, I see it ending chat messages, whether the line calls for "laughs out loud" or not. In place of a period or exclamation point, there's "lol." I almost begin to believe it's some defense mechanism for an irony-obsessed generation incapable and afraid of taking anything serious. "My cat died lol" "onoes! i left teh baby in teh car like 7 hrs ago lol" Yeah, whatever.

Oh, and I finally bothered to pick up "Professional Master" in skinning.

Speaking on language abuse, tyransitiuon is now an official, full-fledged neologism. Congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus for defining it:

tyransitiuon: (noun) An object which steadfastly refuses to be dislodged, moved, or otherwise displaced from its established geographical, geological, or astronomical location, and in fact manipulates events and causality in communal non-consensual time-space as to actively prevent removal or disturbance. Certain esoteric sects and psuedo-scientists place considerable importance upon these rare objects, occasionally manifesting in hysterical and apocalyptic cults. Creation of a tyransitiuon on the subatomic level has been posited as one of the possible applications of supercollider technology.

Okay. Gotta get back to The Red Tree, as the clock is ticking. But, I will remind you to please have a look at the eBay auctions, if you have not yet done so.
greygirlbeast: (grey)
That is, the sort you cannot immediately place your finger on. But, looking at the image, you know that something's wrong. Beautiful.



Another Russian artist, of course.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
Yeah, well, me and Awake are not on speaking terms this afternoon. My gods, it is afternoon.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,440 words on "Untitled 33" and found THE END. The story came to 5,775 words, total, before any line edits that I'll do this afternoon. It's like a ride on a Tilt-a-Whirl, this one. Murder that might be only suicide. Suicide that might be only murder. The idea of "consensual" murder, which interests me greatly, except that there's always the possibility that the narrator is anything but reliable. And I do not know whether she is or not. I have had readers and editors and agents appalled before that I do not know such things, but why should I? The mystery is a mystery to me, as well.

Today will be spent proofreading "Untitled #33," and writing the prolegomena for Sirenia Digest, laying the issue out, sending it off to [livejournal.com profile] thingunderthest to be PDFed. This month, we have the new story, plus a long excerpt from The Red Tree, plus a new artist interview by [livejournal.com profile] readingthedark, and I hope people will be pleased.

If you have not, please do have a look at the current eBay auctions. Bid if you are so able. Thanks.

Still raining here in Providence. I've hardly left the house in a week.

Last night, Spooky made a very fine chicken stew, with eggplant, green bell pepper, mushrooms, potatoes, and so forth. Afterwards, I needed a guaranteed "comfort" film, so I chose the director's cut of James Cameron's Aliens (1986). My, but this film has aged well. It's hard to believe it's twenty-two years old. The girl who played Newt —— Carrie Henn —— is now thirty two. Wrap your brain around that. And she never appeared in another film. Aliens is still a beautiful, brilliant thing. A glorious, terrible spectacle of fire and shadow. Ellen Ripley stands as the archetype of the sf heroine. And Hudson is still as annoying as ever. It's almost impossible for me to say which of the four Alien films is my favourite, as each sets out to do such very different things. Alien is straight-forward Lovecraftian horror. Aliens is epic adventure. The criminally underappreciated Alien³ is possibly the most complex, harking back to the simple horror of the first film, but combining it with a skein of sociopolitical subtexts. And then Alien: Resurrection, a black comedy, of all things, and I love it, warts and all. I think I always forget that Aliens, aside from being a fine, fine action flick, is also a damn moving piece of cinema. Ellen and Newt deserved to make it back to Earth, of course, but, of course, how many of us ever get what we deserve?

After the movie, World of Warcraft, though not quite as much. I really, truly, am in love with the whole world of the Sin'dorei ("blood elves"), which is, by far, the most fully realised part of WoW that I've seen. And I got my very own imp last night, Volyal. So, I made it to Level 21 with Mithwen, the night-elf fighter, and to Level 8 with Shaharrazad, the blood-elf warlock. Working both sides of the street, as is were, Alliance and Hoarde. At one point yesterday, I began to wonder how many celebs have admitted to being WoW addicts. Robin Williams. Ben Affleck. Cameron Diaz. Vin Diesel, of course. Lots more. I may compile a list.

Okay...the work is waiting.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday, I wrote 1,461 words on the new piece for Sirenia Digest. Which, combined with the writing day I had on Wednesday, leads me to fear that the Forced March of January might have permanently upped my daily word count. The new piece still has no title. I've been more concerned with the narrative fabric than with finding a title. Titles are odd things. If anything harms "suspension of disbelief," I should think it would be the simple fact of a title. I like titles that are poetic and easy on the ears, but more than anything, I see them as an arbitrary means of easily distinguishing one story from another. Humans must name everything, fashioning some false but comforting sense of discretion and walls within a system which is by its nature continuous. Titles and THE END, brackets so one story does not bleed inconveniently into the next. I expect to finish this piece — and find its title — by tomorrow evening, and I need to have the digest finished by, oh, say Tuesday, if I am to avoid drowning in the month's responsibilities.

The new issue of Fantasy Magazine arrived yesterday. There's a review of Daughter of Hounds on p. 50. I believe that I am pleased, or at least somewhat satisfied, to be called "An iconoclastic writer whose work resolutely resists pigeonholing..." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition, 2000) defines iconoclast as 1) One who attacks and seeks to overthrow traditional or popular ideas or institutions, and 2) one who destroys sacred religious images. I wonder what my life would have been like had it gone another way. What's an antonym of iconoclast?

We walked yesterday, though it was a shabby thing compared to our walk on Wednesday. Hardly any sun and a bitter breeze. We walked some ways down Euclid. Spoke with two of the neighborhood cats, who both had feared me perished in the depths of January and were glad to see me alive and shivering.

[livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus asks, "Are expatriated extraterrestrials given more or less security clearance?"

More, but only because TPTB know no one is going to believe a word we say.

[livejournal.com profile] kiaduran writes, "I turned the final page of Daughter of Hounds last night and wept. It is a magical and unnerving book. Your language is beautiful, vivid and haunting; I simply cannot stop thinking about Soldier and what she found and what she gave up. This is a world I will treasure. Thank you."

You're welcome, and thank you, Rev. Margo.

Tonight is Kid Night, and Spooky has put her foot down and declared it will be Kid Night, so, alas, no lesbian-friendly titty bars this evening. No drunken me. No morning after regrets. It all works out in the end.

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greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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