greygirlbeast: (cullom)
0. Comments would be very welcome today.

1. Chilly and sunny today. Our little Indian Summer has come and gone. All three days of it. I left the house only once, briefly, the entire time. I expect no more days in the eighties until June.

2. On this day, eighteen years ago, I began writing Silk. Weather-wise, it was a day much like today, though much farther south. Eighteen years, so that means babies born that day are, as of this day, old enough to vote. One of them picking up Silk today, would be like me, on the occasion of my eighteenth birthday, picking up a copy of a novel whose author began writing it in 1964. These are very strange thoughts. Silk is, lest anyone delude themselves into thinking otherwise, a snapshot of a time, culture, and place long vanished. I am not that person anymore. No, not really. There's a faint echo of her around here somewhere.

3. My mood is lower today than it's been in, I don't know. Months. These things happen, and we stay on our meds, and we speak of ourselves in the third person, and we ride them out.

4. Yesterday, you might have seen a news story with a sensational headline something like: "Giant 'Kraken' Lair Discovered: Cunning Sea Monster That Preyed On Ichthyosaurs.". People kept sending me links to it yesterday. And the best I can say about this affair is that if I were still teaching, I'd point to this as a sterling example of Really Bad Science. One does not find a peculiar pattern (in this case, the arrangement of ichthyosaur vertebrae) and invent an outlandish explanation with no evidence whatsoever. And call it something lurid and ridiculous like a "Giant Kraken." There's zero evidence for the existence of a giant Triassic teuthid (squid). Zero. No fossil evidence. So, to posit that one was moving ichthyosaur bones around is very akin to the Weekly World News having once blamed "Alien Big-Game Hunters" for the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs. In short, it's silly. I could write a long essay on this, but I won't. Even if Mark McMenamin could find fossil evidence for a giant squid of roughly the same age as Shonisaurus popularis, it would still be almost impossible to say it was responsible for moving those bones into that pattern.

5. Yesterday...I worked. Not as much as I should have, because...sometimes it's hurry up and wait. But I did work. Mostly, more planning for the book-trailer shoot this weekend. Only three days to go. And it looks like there will be rain on Friday, which is going to play merry havoc with our schedule.

6. Want to see the American Consumer at its least rational? Just look back over the recent fiasco with Netflix, and the damage its done to the company (a two-thirds stock drop since July, and still going down). Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has apologized for the proposed Netflix/Quickster division for rental/streaming services, which is absurd. That he apologized, I mean. People need to cut the entitlement bullshit. Better streaming services will cost more, and the industry is moving towards streaming. Period. I am far from being a financially stable person, but the original Netflix business model won't work forever, and it's wasteful, and is costing the USPS a fortune.

7. Frequently, people have asked me to blog my Second Life roleplay. Usually, I don't do this, because doing so leads to spending time writing that could be spent RPing. But I have begun keeping a journal of Ellen "Grendel" Ishmene's trials and tribulations in Insilico, the life of an illegal Level A clone/Class V AI. It's an excuse to keep myself limber with cyberpunk narratives. If you're interested, you can follow the journal here. Oh, and there are pictures. These days, about the only reason I can find to bother with SL is Insilico, and it's far from perfect. But the build is exquisite, and the RP is probably about the best ever in SL.

8. As for the non-work part of yesterday, I read two articles in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology: "Variation in the skull of Anchiceratops (Dinosauria, Ceratopsidae) from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of Alberta" and "A sauropod dinosaur pes from the latest Cretaceous of North America, and the validity of Alamosaurus sanjuanensis (Sauropoda, Titanosauria)."* And we read two more chapters of Shirley Jackson's The Sundial (we're nearing the end of the book), and played some Rift, and I read a rather awful short story by F. Paul Wilson, "The November Game," an extremely unfortunate "sequel" to Ray Bradbury's classic "The October Game." If you're going to attempt a sequel to one of the best spooky stories of the 20th Century, at least have the respect and good sense to mind the mood and tone of the original. And that was yesterday.

Twiddling Her Thumbs,
Aunt Beast

* Looks as though there's only a single species of Anchiceratops, A. ornatus, and that Alamosaurus is a valid taxon.
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
The weather is still sunny today, if a bit cooler. But I have the office window open anyway, because rain is coming tomorrow, and I want all the fresh air I can get before things get wet again. Spring comes so slowly to Providence, compared to Atlanta and Birmingham. Of course, it would be equally true to say that spring comes so quickly to Atlanta and Birmingham, compared to Providence. It's all a matter of perspective.

A good writing day yesterday. I did 1,358 words on "Houndwife." I am pleased with how this story is coming along, and where it's going. I did find myself wondering, yesterday, how Lovecraft would feel about someone writing a sequel to "The Hound" to the music of Polly Jean Harvey and Patti Smith, then someone on Facebook pointed out to me that Patti Smith had actually appeared at one of the Lovecraft Film Festivals in Portland, where she read some of HPL's poetry. This doesn't answer my question, of course, but it is cool as hell.

Yesterday evening, before dark, I went Outside with Spooky, as far as the markets on the east side, just to get out of the house. There was a grand sunset. All in all, my mood is much improved. I'm sleeping without Ambien (four nights now), which means the nightmares are worse, but I feel better during the day, not fighting against a zolpidem hangover while I'm awake. I think the warmer weather and the trip to Cambridge on Thursday have done me a world of good (my thanks again to Greer, Sonya, and Chris). I'm riding this peak as long as it lasts, and taking it for all it has to give.

I've been reading the new Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, which arrived sometime last week. So far, I've made my way through papers on the dolichosaur Acetosaurus tommasinii, the cranial anatomy of the basal ceropdan dinosaur Changchunsuarus parvus, and Late Cretaceous snakes from the Maevarano Formation of Madagascar.

Oh, and the octopus has now been sexed, and his name will definitely be Nemo. I suppose, when the name first occurred to me, I was thinking of Jules Verne and Prince Armitage Ranjit Dakkar, but there's also the word's Latin meaning ("no one" or "nobody"). And there's the Nightwish song of the same title, and Winsor McCay's dreamer, and the oceanic pole of inaccessibility, and...well, take your pick. They all work for me.
greygirlbeast: ("Dracorex")
A third consecutive sunny day in Providence, warm enough that I can believe spring isn't too far away. The willows are greening. There are a few flowers here and there. My office window is open again (it was open last night until I went to bed about 2 a.m.), and the temperature out there is a not unpleasantly mild 66F. We made it into the low 70s yesterday.

And as for yesterday, a marvelous day. Well, once we finally escaped Providence and made it to Boston. Greer ([livejournal.com profile] nineweaving) and I had resolved, on Wednesday, to meet up in Cambridge for a sort of impromptu mini-Triptree Award winner/honoree celebration. So, Spooky and I drove to Boston and met Greer and Sonya at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, which I'd not visited since July or August of 2006.

We didn't make it to the museum until a little after three, and it closes at five, so there wasn't much time to wander the galleries. We're planning to go back again one day soon, a day when we can arrive in the morning and spend the whole day just sketching and making notes. But even a short visit at the MCZ is grand. And we found Greer and Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay), and wandered the galleries, admiring fossils and taxidermy, formalin-filled jars of sea creatures and the iridescent shells of beetles. The MCZ is itself a sort of time capsule, consisting in large part of the cabinet of Louis Agassiz, who founded the museum in 1859. It is a monument to the way that Victorians sought to understand natural history, and the seemingly chaotic halls are likely to give those with more modern sensibilities all sorts of discomfiting sensations. It's one of the last museums of its kind, and is, itself, as valuable an artifact as the artifacts it houses.

Oh, and Sonya gifted me with an enormous plush octopus from the MCZ gift shop, which I have christened Nemo. Unless I change my mind and start calling it Scylla. I suppose that depends on puzzling out its gender. Sexing the octopus....

Despite my aching, rotten feet, after we left the Museum we walked to Raven Books, a wonderful, wonderful place situated in a basement below street level. I'd promised I would be good on this trip and not come home with a metric shit-ton of books. But Greer and Sonya kept finding things and showing them to me. Oh, and Chris Ewen (he of Future Bible Heroes) met us at Raven Books. We had dinner next door at a fine Thai restaurant called Nine Tastes. I had the beef larb, tart as tart could be and with just the right level of heat (hot enough to eventually shut down my taste buds). And after that, after dinner, we walked up to the Harvard Bookstore, and then back to a comic shop called Million Year Picnic, where Spooky used to buy her funny books back in the day. By this point, it was well after dark and my feet were screaming, so we said our good-byes to Chris and headed back to the van. We drove Greer home (and left Sonya to fend for herself or fall to the wolves...or seek public transit, or something). I think Spooky and I made it back to Providence about 10 p.m.

So, yes...a much needed day out and among other people and among the sorts of things that make me smile. And, by the time all was said and done, it was a bit of a book-buying orgy. I lost track of what everyone else got (and everyone bought books), but I came away with:

1. A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire (2008)
2. The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York by Matthew Goodman (2008)
3. The Lyrics of Tom Waits: The Early Years (1971-1982) (2007)
4. The Library of America Philip K. Dick volume, Five Novels of the 1960s and 1970s
5. Wise Children by Angela Carter (1991)
6. Moonwise by Greer Ilene Gilman (original 1991 edition, which Greer signed to me last night)
7. A Neil Jordan Reader (1993)
8. Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America by Eric Jay Dolin (2007)

So, yeah...books. There are sixteen photos behind the cut. Now, I must go decide which of two stories I will begin for Sirenia Digest #52.

18 March 2010 )
greygirlbeast: (Eli1)
We're heading back to Newport again today, more research for "As Red as Red." Unfortunately, the cold temps have returned today, after a warmish weekend. Anyway, I just wanted to get something down here before we head for Aquidneck Island.

Saturday was spent trying to find the story that goes with the title "As Red as Red." I wrote maybe 500 words over maybe four hours. This is the epitome of a lousy writing day. Hopefully, the trip today will help achieve liftoff for this vampire story that's really a werewolf story.

Yesterday, we had to go down to Saurnderstown. Spooky's parents are in New Mexico, at an anthropology conference, so we're looking after the farm while they're gone. The high was near 60F yesterday, and it was wonderful being away from the city. The late winter is so much less vile out in the Rhode Island countryside. Everywhere there's a pond or stream, there are verdant fringes, mostly moss. And the green briers are already waking up. We looked in on the chickens, fed the koi, walked the perimeter of the deer fence to make sure there were no breaks in it anywhere (it keeps the deer out of the garden, where the spinach is just starting to sprout). We also unloaded the "steamsquid" discovered at Moonstone Beach back in February, as we'd decided it was best off down at the farm. The trees were full of singing birds, which was heartening, as we're not hearing a lot of songbirds here in Providence. We turned over a couple of rotten logs, hoping to spot salamanders, but found none. There are buds on the apple trees and blueberry bushes. We hung out with Spider Cat, who has really gained far, far too much weight. He's over 18 pounds now, but has been placed on a diet. I wanted to spend the night on the farm, but we had to head back to the city.

Oh, on the way down we stopped at Newbury Comics in Warwick and got a copy of Låt den rätte komma in on DVD. By the way, I am not generally opposed American remakes of foreign films, not on principle, but I am cringing at the thought of an American remake of Låt den rätte komma in. It's already been done with near perfection, and I fear a US remake will inevitably veer the story away from the subtle atmospherics of Tomas Alfredson's adaptation. Sure, I could be wrong. But it just seems so utterly unnecessary, this remake.

Here are three photos from yesterday's trip down to Saunderstown (behind the cut):

15 March 2009 )


And, before I wrap this up, THE COOLEST VIDEO EVER— "I Am Murloc":

greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
So, it's official. Bill Schafer let me know yesterday that the limited edition of A is for Alien is completely sold out. My thanks to all who ordered the limited (and the trade, for that matter). Last I heard, there are still copies of the trade hardback available, but it's looking like there won't be for very much longer.

Spooky and I were just talking, and the subject of Stephenie Myer came up (like a bad penny). And I said that while it's true Myer can't write her way out of a wet paper bag, it's also true that she succeeded by merely giving the people what they want. I pointed out that this is a thing that I seem pathologically incapable of doing, even when I try very hard, as I often have. Anyway, stray bits of Sunday morning.

Yesterday, my author's copies of Fossil, the German translation of Threshold, arrived. This is the fourth edition of the novel, and the second foreign language translation (the first was Italian), and, to my eye, it's the most attractive of the lot. The cover has a nice retro feel, like a cover from the 1950s or '60s. I am especially pleased with the tiny Dicranurus trilobites used to divide the chapter sections. So, yeah, that was a nice surprise. The translation was done by Alexandra Hinrichsen.

Early yesterday, we managed to finish with the latest round of line edits to The Red Tree. We would have finished on Friday, but I finally reached the point where I'd corrected so many grammatical errors and word repetitions that I could no longer be sure I whether I was fixing things that were broken or merely changing things (and, thereby, breaking them). This series of line edits has been one of the most excruciatingly tedious in my writing career, I think. And I think I know why, and maybe I'll even go into it in tomorrow's entry. Now, I have to begin work on the issues raised by Anne in her editorial letter, actual revisions (though none are very significant). With luck, I can be done in another week. I'm not feeling very lucky.

We headed back to Moonstone Beach yesterday, to try and relocate and retrieve the iron squid we'd found there on Monday. Usually, I leave these things be, but something about the beached ferropetrateuthid called us back. It was sunny here in Providence, and there was at least a little warmth. But as we crossed into South County, the sun vanished behind clouds. When we reached the beach, the day had turned bitterly cold, much more so than when Spooky and Sonya and I were there on the 2nd. The tide was coming in, and there was a strong, stinging wind. Once again, we walked northeast, to the narrow inlet where Card Pond meets the sea at high tide. After a little searching, we managed to locate the iron squid, though it was now partially submerged in the pond. We bundled it up and walked quickly back to the car. Both Trustom and Card ponds were frozen solid, and the geese and ducks all seemed content with the sky. The only signs of life were signs of expired life: fish bones, gull feathers, clam and snail shells, the remains of a variety of crustaceans (Limulus polypehmus, Homarus americanus, Libinia emarginata, Callinectes sapidus, Cancer irroratus, Carcinus maenas, etc.), mermaids' purses, bits of seaweed, and so forth. A lot of the cobbles that had paved the beach on Monday had been washed back out to sea, and there were patches of ice and snow on the sand. The sky was like a lead weight, laid across the angry sea. No, the sea was not angry, but my mind perceived it as such. It was the first time that I've not wanted to linger on Moonstone Beach. The dead of winter, as they say. But, yes, the only known specimen of an iron squid is now in my keeping. The sun had almost set by the time we made it back to Providence.

Last night, we watched the latest Battlestar Galactica, which I found quite satisfying.

There are a few photos from yesterday behind the cut:

February 7, 2009 )
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
This morning, stuck in a dream I genuinely do not want to remember, I'm listening to ABBA. The hope was that ABBA was absurd enough to dispel the dreamsickness. But, so far, it's only adding a surreal fucking soundtrack to my recollections of the nightmare. Having written "The Z Word," you'd think I'd know better.

Yesterday, we made it to page 249 of The Red Tree. I'm not good with tedium, not good at all. We very much need to finish with this round of line edits today, so I can begin to address the more substantive issues raised in the editorial letter, but my mind reels at the thought of forcing my way through five more chapters of the most minute mistakes possible. We still have 148 pages to go. Argh.

So, the book that will include my comments on Second Life as a tool for fiction writers is Jeff VanderMeer's forthcoming Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for 21st Century Writers (Tachyon Publications, September-October 2009). As to exactly what I said, you'll have to wait for the book's release. Though, I will admit here, I didn't pull any punches, and that I continue to view SL as an untapped resource for writers, and, perhaps, as an inherently untappable resource, given the reluctance and/or inability of most of the "inhabitants" of SL to engage in fully immersive, simulationist roleplay, the sort that has the potential to create the interactive stories I've tried to foster there. As it stands, SL is, sadly, very little more than just another social-networking/dating service.

I'm getting reports that some people who've pre-ordered A is for Alien from Amazon are encountering problems with their orders. I've been told that some in the U.S. are being informed their orders will not ship until the middle of March, though subpress is shipping the book now. I've gotten word from a reader in England who pre-ordered the book months ago, but says that Amazon is now refusing to ship it to the UK. I exchanged email with Bill Schafer about all this an hour or so ago, and I am told more copies of the book have been sent to Amazon. But it takes time for Amazon to process and ship them out to buyers. Hence the delay. As for the UK problem, I honestly have no idea what's up. But I will reiterate that supplies are running very low, and there are presently no plans for a reprinting, so you should order now, directly from Subterranean Press. I'm disheartened that people are having trouble with Amazon, and I do apologize for that (though, obviously, I have no control over what Amazon does).

Also, I thought I should repost the link for the "A is for Alien in 60 Seconds" article at Tor.com.

As I said yesterday, A is for Alien is very near to selling out. The limited edition is down to less than 25 copies, and 75% of the regular trade edition's printing has now sold. And my very grateful thanks to everyone who has ordered the book.

Last night, we watched Wes Anderson's Rushmore (1998), certainly one of the most brilliant psychonerd movies in the history of film. And Shaharrazad reached Level 60.

It's getting late, and the platypus is giving me the hairy eyeball. But I thought I'd leave you with one last image from Monday's trip to Moonstone Beach. Here we have proof positive that the seas do indeed harbour a heretofore undescribed family of iron squid:

Ferropetrateuthidae )
greygirlbeast: (tentacles)
So, thanks to everyone who made sure that I didn't miss out on this tentaculous news item:

Curious creature caught off Keahole Point

It's a squid, it's an octopus, it's ... a mystery from the deep.

What appears to be a half-squid, half-octopus specimen found off Keahole Point on the Big Island remains unidentified today and could possibly be a new species, said local biologists.

The specimen was found caught in a filter in one of Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority's deep-sea water pipelines last week. The pipeline, which runs 3,000 feet deep, sucks up cold, deep-sea water for the tenants of the natural energy lab.

"When we first saw it, I was really delighted because it was new and alive," said Jan War, operations manager at NELHA. "I've never seen anything like that."

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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