greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday was a lot like today, if you only kept your eyes on the sky. Grey.

There's something grim hanging over me this early afternoon. It's familiar, but nothing that's been keeping me company lately. Maybe it's only because tomorrow is Cephalopodmas and Solstice. I need to go to the sea and make an appropriate offering. The weather is so cold and shitty, but I never used to let that stop me before. We're making octopus- and jellyfish-shaped sugar cookies, and I'll make a simple beef stew, beginning with a roux that includes a good stout. Probably not Guinness, though that's what I usually use. Maybe I'll make a huge breakfast on Friday morning. None of this is helping me lose weight.

Yesterday, I painted again. It would be soothing, I suppose. A soothing diversion, were my painting not, by necessity, such a violent act. Then again, maybe I find the violence soothing. Oh, and I have a postcard from Scotland in an antique Salmgundi Whitman's chocolates tin; that is, I just put the postcard in there so I wouldn't lose it. My office is an utter cacophony of paper and manuscript boxes, and it's easy to lose things.

Between now and mid-February, I desperately need a web monkey who'll work for all but free. I can offer inscribed, autographed books as remuneration. Mostly, I need the front page of my website converted from something that features The Red Tree to something that features The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, including the "teaser" trailer, which will later be replaced by the full two-minute version. The pages for The Red Tree would be placed elsewhere on the site. Easy stuff, yeah? But beyond my 1995 html skills. Hell, I'll even throw in a FREE one-year subscription to Sirenia Digest. If you want the job, say so here, in a comment, or email me a greygirlbeast(at)gmail(dot)com. I'm sort of desperate. My publisher is useless on this front.

There was an appointment with my psychiatrist yesterday evening after dark. The appointments are much less unnerving after dark, and she's a very pleasant woman whom I can talk to about almost anything. I'm always surprised at her forbearance.

I'm trying to listen to William Gibson's Neuromancer on audiobook, because it's been years since I read it. But the reader (remaining here nameless) has this annoying Southern accent, and he ends almost every sentence with an odd...how do I describe it? His voice dips and fades at the end of sentences, and, while he's good with Japanese and Russian accents, his attempts at reading female dialogue sounds like Monty Python drag. For dog's sake, just read the goddamn book, and stop trying to dramatize, even minimally. I'm very pleased I have so much control and say-so in the recording of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. I've already made it plain I want not one whit of dramatization. Just a good reader, who will sound like Imp and simply read.

I cannot help but sing Death Cab for Cutie's "Someday You Will Be Loved" as a serial-killer song, always singing "Someday you will be loved" as "Someday you will be mine." Either way, it's a pretty harsh song. A killer or a cad.

Far too much SW:otR last night*. Spooky got the game yesterday, so now we're playing together. I rolled my second Sith inquisitor, and gods, she's adorable. Adorable evil. Like a half Nebari girl-child in Japanese schoolgirl mode, though she's actually human. Yes, I'm playing a bloody human, and liking it. Her name is Varla. Spooky's playing a Zabrak Sith warrior named Aisimetra. I didn't get to bed until 4:30 ayem (you tell yourself it's a bloody vacation, so it's okay to be bad kids), and only slept 6.5 hours.

And now I ought go and do vacating sorts of things. Except, today is a day of errands, preparing for tomorrow and ol' St. Cthulhu.

I want to see The Adventures of Tintin, but it's in blasted, fucking 3D motherfucking EVERYWHERE here, unless you can make an 11 ayem show (noon CaST). Yeah, right. That's gonna happen. Pretty much the same situation with Hugo, and Scorcese ought know better. When the hell is Hollywood going to accept that ticket sales on 3D movies have plummeted to about 20% of box-office revenue, mostly because of the more expensive tickets, and they're only throwing bad money after good (and destroying cinematography in the process)?

In the anti-holiday spirit,
Aunt Beast

* Oh, and no Xmas shit in SW:otR! Clearly, the Baby Jesus never reached either the Republic or the Empire. Woot!
greygirlbeast: (wookie)
Both my feet feel like blocks of wood this morning. Since I began taking Gabapentin, and the neurological problems in my feet began to improve, this doesn't happen so often. Only sometimes. Regardless, it's a very unpleasant sensation (or lack thereof), and can make walking tricky (which is why I used a stick for so long).

A great comment to Wednesday's entry, which was largely concerned with the decline of LJ, care of [livejournal.com profile] opalblack : "It's (LJ's} drawing me back more and more because it isn't so instant, and many of the smaller minds have drifted away for shallower waters." Smaller minds and shallower waters, that's the bit I like.

---

Sort of chilly this morning. Storms passed through Providence yesterday, in advance of the cold front, and now it feels nothing at all like summer.

---

Yesterday, there were some last-minute adjustments to the flux capacitor, which was only managing a paltry 1.02 gigawatts, when 1.21 are required for optimal performance. But, as soon as that was dealt with, I finally opened the envelope containing the CEM of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir (which actually arrived here on September 8th), and we made it through Chapter One. We'll do Two and Three today. Which seems, at the moment, a lofty fucking goal. But I will say this. With The Red Tree, I got the best copy-editor I'd ever had, one who didn't try to rewrite, and who actually caught genuine errors I'd missed. I seem to have lucked out again, or – though it seems unlikely – NYC's standard for copy-editors has gone up. (And yes, I think "copy-editor" ought to be hyphenated).

Oh, and I answered far too much email yesterday.

---

Please have a look at Spooky's Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries Etsy shop. The Halloween stuff is up, as it's that time of year again (well, sort of). And a couple of wonderful new necklaces.

---

Last night we played Rift, wandering about Gloamwood on our najmoks, working on achievements for the region. Then we watched the last couple of epsiodes of Season Five of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, which means we'll now have to "resort" to the mail for Season Six (perhaps the Athenaeum, if they have it), or go back to Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. When all is said and done, the latter is actually the better of the two, even without Vincent D'onofrio. But the "rape of the week" plot template gets old fast. Still, there's Richard Belzer. Anyway, then I read a couple more stories from The Book of Cthulhu, Michael Shea's "Fat Face" and Brian McNaughton's "The Doom that Came to Innsmouth."* Shea does a great job of capturing a particular and especially seedy side of LA. McNaughton's story is good, but would have been a lot better if he'd turned the volume down just a little near the end. A little goes a long way, a lesson it has taken me the better part of twenty years to learn.

Platypus, what's wrong with this picture? Where's my sugar-free Red Bull!

In the Gloaming,
Aunt Beast

* An interesting note. The antagonist of McNaughton's story is named Dr. Isaac Mordecai Saltonstall. And in The Drowning Girl, the painter who painted the titular painting is named Phillip George Saltonstall. For the record, before last night, I'd never even heard of "The Doom That Came to Innsmouth" (which originally appeared in Tales Out of Innsmouth, 1999, Chaosium Inc; oddly, I don't even own that anthology). I found the name in a Rhode Island or Massachusetts cemetery, where I often find names. I'm combing through my Moleskines, trying to figure out which cemetery it was. Anyway, only a curious coincidence.
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
I'll make no apologies for the tone of yesterday's post. There are no regrets. I will only offer an opaque excuse, that I have been made a party to what is, in my estimation, a sickening tragedy. One that could have easily been prevented. One I tried to prevent. And now I will carry the fact of it in my head for years.

And so, yeah, the fury's going nowhere soon. So, do not attempt to console me. It's amazing how many people on the internet are unable to comprehend that trying to calm a rabid animal only gets them bitten. Oh, and then they whine about how unfair it is they've been bitten. Poor fucking idiots.

---

Today there is work, which part of me needs badly. Never mind my having finished a novel day before yesterday. It's not that I love the work; it's that the work keeps me sane by filling a void. So, yes, work, important work, then my psychiatrist before dinner. There's a prescription.

And speaking of work, I have begun to realize there's presently confusion over the two books I've written this year, The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and Blood Oranges. The first – The Drowning Girl: A Memoir – took me about a year and a half to write, and is, by far, my best novel to date. The second – Blood Oranges - took me forty-five days to write, and if you think of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir as, oh, let's say a gourmet meal, then Blood Oranges is the tasty, but fluffy and insubstantial, desert that comes afterwards.

The Drowning Girl: A Memoir will be out from Penguin in March 2012.

Blood Oranges hasn't yet sold.

And while I'm at it:

Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Me (Volume One) will be out, I think, in September (or maybe October) from Subterranean Press. If you've not ordered, you need to do so.

Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart will be released by Subterranean Press sometime in 2012.

And there's a lot more, and it's awesome, but if I told you, I really would have to kill you. No joke.

---

Yesterday, I read two stories from The Book of Cthulhu. Used to be, I never read the anthologies my stories appeared in. Don't know why. I just never wanted to do it. But, the last year or so I've been reading some of the books with my stories. Anyway, yesterday I read two of the twenty-seven (I think it's twenty-seven) stories in The Book of Cthulhu. The first, John Langan's "The Shallows" is actually quite brilliant. It's unexpected, and fresh, and comes at you sideways. It's not what you think it is. These are all good things. The other was Thomas Ligotti's "Nethescurial," a very Ligottian take on the Lovecraftian found manuscript and the Lovecraftian malign artifact. And of course it was brilliant. It was Thomas fucking Ligotti.

But I fear there's a lot of this book I'm not going to like, stories I'll skip over. Because the author has chosen to use parody in her or his approach HPL, and that's just not my thing.

---

Yesterday, after a lot of work and email, the "day off" began about three p.m. We drove south and west almost to the Connecticut state line, to Westerly and on down to Watch Hill. To the lighthouse at Watch Hill. We took the narrow, winding road out to the lighthouse, and sat on the sea wall. To the west, the protected waters of Little Narragansett Bay were still and quiet. A flock of cormorants sunned themselves on rotting pilings. On the east side of the point, though, the waves were still wild. Now and then, the sun through the spray off the tops of the waves created the briefest of rainbows behind them. We watched surfers a while, then drove east to Moonstone Beach.

As I've said, Moonstone has many moods. And I saw another new one yesterday. I'd expected piles of pebbles and all manner of unusual strandings and flotsam. My expectation is irrelevant. The beach looked stripped raw. I can think of no other way to describe it. There's been a tremendous amount of erosion during the storm. The tide was coming in, and there were odd sandbars and eddies, and the crashing waves – some easily six to eight feet high – were coming in from the west, the east, the southeast, the southwest, in no discernible (gods, the English language is retarded) pattern. The air reeked overwhelmingly of dead fish, though not a dead fish was in evidence. The usual cobbles were almost entirely absent. The waters in the breaker zone were an ugly greenish black, loaded with sediment and all manner of...well...dead things. Mostly plant matter. Only the Piping Plovers seemed to be happy with the state of things, dashing about madly at the water's edge. I could see that the waves had overtopped the dunes and the sea had reached both Trustom and Card ponds. It was the sight of a place you trust as being the incarnation of calm, seen after terrible violence has occurred. But the error is mine. Panthalassa has no interest in my moods, impressions, or needs, and if I thought otherwise, I'd be a fool. Moonstone will heal, in time.

Between the ponds, there were birdwatchers, and we had our monoculars with us. We spotted a Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) and three Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus), both new to us.

We drove on to Narragansett, but there was no power. So we couldn't get dinner at Iggy's or at George's (which is actually in Galilee). We did manage to piss at a Cumberland Farms. Their power was out, but they let us use a Bic lighter. It's amazing how dark a women's room can be. At sunset, we drove past Scarborough Beach, and Narragansett Beach. The surf was heavy at the latter, but not as heavy as I'd expected. There were dozens of surfers in the water, most seeming a bit disappointed. All in all, we saw far less damage than I'd expected. And then we came home.

And that was yesterday. Oh, except for three wasted hours in Second Life. If you tell me you like it dark, and then bale when it gets rough, and without so much as a "good night," you're a simpering weasel, and it's really as simple as that.

Wrathfully,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
So, no Great Trailer & Photo Shoot for The Drowning Girl this weekend. Thank you, Hurricane Irene. Early last night, watching the grave weather forecasts, Kyle and I made the decision to postpone the whole affair. Which means postponing it until early October. Even if we could have reached Moonstone Beach (the area will likely be evacuated), I'd have never asked Sarah (who plays our Eva) to walk towards that surf, much less into it. So, there you go. But I do not argue with forces of Nature. They were here first, and will be here long afterwards. Forces of Nature have seniority.

But yeah, it's looking pretty bad here in Providence, and we'll spend part of the day laying in supplies for the impact. Fortunately, we have storm windows, and the walls of this old house were built with a crisscrossed lattice of steel to protect against this very thing (though it makes hanging pictures a bitch).

I got virtually nothing written yesterday. There was far too much commotion. Confusion. Calamity. All those good "c" words. Mostly, having to figure out, at the last fucking minute, what to do about the Great Trailer & Photo Shoot. Thus, I only managed to write a paltry 698 words on Chapter 8 of Blood Oranges. Nonetheless, I intend to have the book (plus epilogue) finished by the end of the day Tuesday (August 30).

I now have both of Vince Locke's illustrations for The Drowning Girl, and they're marvelous. Sirenia Digest subscribers have seen the first of the two, but no one (outside my publisher's offices) gets to see the second until the book is released next year.

Yesterday, my contributor's copy of The Book of Cthulhu arrived. As did the very beautiful edition of Shirley Jackson's The Sundial I'd ordered. Also, a care package from Madison Colvin in Savannah, Georgia, which included, among many other things, a copy of Angela Carter's Love (one of the few books by her I didn't own). So, thank you, Madison. Very, very sweet of you.

Last night, once the dust of difficult decisions had settled, there was some not exactly very good RP in Insilico, but it had a Season Five Dexter chaser, so everything worked out well. And I think the problem that caused the not exactly very good RP has been identified, so that it won't happen again. Then Spooky read The Stand, and I listened. We reached Chapter 38. And, for fuck's sake, I hate Harold Lauder. Sociopathic, maladjusted, plain ol' disgusting behavior aside, he makes me want to bathe. Oh, back to Dexter, Peter Weller is becoming William Burroughs. Has anyone else noticed that? Meanwhile, Deb Morgan is my latest profanity crush (I know most people don't get those, but I definitely have a profanity fetish; my last profanity crush was Al Swearengen). To wit:



And that was yesterday.

Battening Down the Hatches,
Aunt Beast
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greygirlbeast: (Default)
Overcast and dreary here in Providence.

Another very good writing day yesterday. I did 1,670 words on The Drowning Girl. Keeping this book's voice on course is a matter of always having to remind myself that I'm writing a book by a schizophrenic, not a book about a schizophrenic. At any rate, the Word Bank grows.

Nothing spectacular about yesterday. It was just a decent day, and those are always welcome. We lit the fireplace for the first time this year. There was a problem with the oven not lightning, but the repair guy came and fixed it. Spooky made corn muffins to go with the second night of chicken and andouille stew. Lately, I love days strewn with mundane events.

---

Before anyone else gets this wrong, I need to clarify the matter about Rhode Island electing its first independent governor. Lincoln D. Chafee is not a Libertarian, sensu the Libertarian Party. He is a civil libertarian, but that's another thing altogether. I would imagine he's many of the things Libertarians hate. For instance, he opposes eliminating the federal estate tax and, on November 17, 2005, was the only Republican to vote in favor of reinstating the top federal income tax rate of 39.6% on upper-income payers. Moreover, I am not a Libertarian. Moreover, I detest the Libertarian Party and have since college. Were I to categorize myself politically, I'd probably say I'm a far-left leaning Democrat. So, hope we're all clear on that now.

---

I've been playing lots of City of Heroes and Villains lately. Too much really, which is what happens when I'm having too much fun. I'm not so much crazy about the game part of the game, which I find clunky and unnecessarily tedious. What I love is the huge pool of actual roleplayers who know how to, you know, roleplay. But there is one thing that's begun to wear on me, and it came up again last night, for about the umpteenth time (LJ can spell "umpteenth," but not "LJ"?). When I created my character, I wrote some very particular Lovecraftian stuff into her background. What I did not realize was how much CoX players rely on the "Call of Cthlhu" rpg for their understanding of Lovecraft, rather than relying on Lovecraft's actual writing.

The problem with this is that the rpg is drawn from the "Mythos" invented by August Derleth, and not from HPL. Yes, Derleth likely saved Lovecraft from oblivion, but in the process he managed to mangle the basic Cosmicism if HPL's work. I'm not going into all the whys and wherefores right now, though I'm thinking of devoting a post to it later on. I would refer people to Richard L. Tierney's essay, "The Derleth Mythos," only it's pretty much impossible to find****. I'd refer people to S.T. Joshi's The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos, only few people are going to take the time to read what is, essentially, an entire book on the problem of what Lovecraft actually wrote vs. how Derleth rewrote Lovecraft, and how it's the revisionist stuff that has embedded itself so deeply in pop culture (including the "Call of Cthulhu" rpg).

But no, you cannot ward off Nyarlathotep with an elder sign, any more than you can fend off a cometary impact with a Hostess Twinkie. No, elder signs are not like Raid to the Old Ones. No, the Lovecraft Mythos (as opposed to Derleth's "Cthulhu Mythos") is not a battle between "good" and "evil," which is, to quote Derleth, "basically similar" to the Christian Mythos. No, the "Elder Gods" (mostly invented by Derleth and successors) are not powers of "good" at war with the "evil" Great Old Ones. And so on, and so forth.

Mostly, it's becoming clear to me (and Joshi points this out in the aforementioned book) that many who utilize various elements from Lovecraft's writing have never actually read Lovecraft. They've come by his "gods" and various entities and elements and fictional texts secondhand, via such wrongheaded sources as "The Call of Cthulhu" rpg or writers who followed Derleth (such as, ugh, Brian Lumley). Now, I can be very naive, I admit, and this comes as a shock to me. And I will not rp pseudo-Lovecraft. It squicks me out. But I love CoX, and pseudo-Lovecraft is everywhere...so...I don't know. Maybe I'll just drop all the HPL elements from Erzsébetta's backstory and steer clear of the silly stuff.

I don't want to be off-putting to other players, almost all of whom I've enjoyed rping with, but also can't, in good conscience, as a writer, Lovecraft devotee and HPL scholar, take part in the propagation of the bastardized ideas I've spent so much energy trying to dispel.

I imagine maybe five people who read this blog will give a give a rat's ass about all this. I just had to vent.

---

Anyhow, donuts and all...

**** My thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jreynolds for pointing out that Tierney's essay is, in fact, online, so it's not hard to find, and you may read it if you so desire.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday is a vicious blur of words. I did another 1,113 words on "The Maltese Unicorn." I'd hoped I'd be finished by Friday. I'm going to Boston on Sunday (the long-delayed birthday dinner), and I very much wanted to put this puppy to bed beforehand. I fear, however, I won't be finishing until maybe Tuesday. I've already spent twelve days on this story, not counting all the research I did back in May. It is becoming a vast and moody thing, this tale.

My thanks to everyone who bid in the most recent round of eBay auctions. New auctions will begin very soon, maybe as early as this afternoon.

My author's copies of The Ammonite Violin & Others should be along any day now. If you've not yet ordered a copy, I hope you'll do so.

What else to yesterday? It was such a long stretch of writing (as was Monday), I wasn't up for much when it was over. I signed contracts for a reprint of "The Bone's Prayer." I proofed the galleys for the author's note section of the forthcoming The Red Tree mass-market paperback.

I read a paper in the new JVP, "A new basal hadrosauroid (Dinosauria, Ornithopoda) from the Turonian of New Mexico." After dinner, Spooky and I watched an episode from Season Five of Deadliest Catch (because I'm a crab-fishing nerd), and then she trimmed my hair, which was very badly in need of a trim. Then we played four hours of WoW, and Gnomenclature and Klausgnomi both reached Level 26. I think when they reach 30, we'll be switching back to our blood elves, Shaharrazad and Suraa, to finish up Lich King. Then we'll likely spend the summer on our space goats...um, I mean our Draenei...before switching back to our blood elves in the autumn. It's good to have these things planned out, I think. Later, when I tried to go to sleep, all I could think about was work, and I had my first bout of insomnia in a couple weeks. I finally had to take an Ambien, which i am increasingly loathe to do. I read Patton Oswalt and Patric Reynolds' Serenity: Float Out, a nice one-off from Dark Horse. And finally, about four, I got to sleep (only to be awakened before ten by construction noise).

Last night, someone wrote to thank me for my part in the documentary Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown (2008). But he also brought up the fact that I was the only woman interviewed in the film, and the way that, in general, women are scarce when it comes to Lovecraft criticism and Lovecraftian anthologies. There's no way to not agree with this. The problem is readily apparent, and, in fact, I was a little uncomfortable watching the final cut of the documentary, the absence of female commentators is so conspicuous. This is one reason I was very pleased with [livejournal.com profile] ellen_datlow's Lovecraft Unbound. There are stories by twenty-two authors, and eight of the authors are female, which is far more than average for an anthology of Lovecraft-inspired stories. Consider, The Song of Cthulhu (Chaosium, 2001): twenty authors, one woman (me). Or Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth (Fedogan and Bremer, 2005): twelve authors, only one woman (me). Or The Children of Cthulhu (Del Rey, 2002): twenty-three authors, three women (including me). Or Cthulhu 2000 (Arkham House, 2000): eighteen authors, but only three are women. Or Black Wings: Tales of Lovecratian Horror (PS Publishing, 2010): twenty-one authors, two women (myself included). I could go on, but I'll wait until another time. This is a very complex subject, and one I should return to some day when I can do it justice. However, yes, I do see a definite gender bias at work here.

The platypus is eager, so...I should get to it.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
I think Spooky and I just unintentionally wrote a Muppet sex ed film. And I'm afraid those images will be with me forever.

Yesterday, well...yesterday was a very strange writing day. I sat down to get back to work on "The Maltese Unicorn." I read over what had been written so far, and suddenly the whole thing felt terribly off kilter. For starters, I was only a third of the way into the story, at best, and yet I was about halfway to the maximum word count. Truthfully, as the story was being written, the way I was writing it, it wanted to be a 30,000-word novella. It has to be, instead, a 10,000 word short story. The biggest problem was the frame, set at the Drancy Transit Camp outside of Paris in 1941, six years after the events of the story proper. When I began work on the story, I thought the frame was necessary. But suddenly it seemed utterly superfluous. Worse, the front end of the frame had already devoured almost 2,000 words, and there would still be the back end of the frame to cope with at the end of the story. I knew that would need, at minimum, another 500 words.

I spent about an hour talking to Spooky— well, it was more like ranting madly at Spooky —trying desperately to figure out how to "fix" the story as quickly and efficiently as possible. And, finally, I made the decision to, in essence, decapitate it. Lop off the frame, the first section, then surgically remove all references back to the frame. I have never really done anything of this sort, and it's an understatement to say I found it terrifying. This morning, it's still terrifying. Late yesterday, I shortened the story by about 2,500 words, and smoothed away most of the rough edges left by the edit. I read it through to Spooky again, and it seemed to work better— though the tone had been altered, and the story was suddenly not nearly so dark as it had been (not a good thing). Today, I'm going to sit down and expand the opening paragraphs, restoring some of the set up that was originally in the "frame" section, before proceeding with that part of the story (the middle and ending) that has yet to be written.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks.

Last night, we watched the new episode of Glee. It's the first episode that really hasn't worked for me. Too many "what the fuck" moments, and it wasn't the good sort of "what the fuck." It was more the sort that left me wanting to wash my brain. Though, Brittany wearing her cheerleader uniform backwards, that almost made up for it. Oh, and Sue Sylvester. Later, I finished reading the graphic-novel adaptation of "The Call of Cthulhu," illustrated by Michael Zigerlig (with an introduction by H.R. Giger).
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Yesterday...

Well, I learned that December is Cthulhu month at Tor.com, and [livejournal.com profile] ellen_datlow has included both Threshold and The Red Tree on a list of selected Lovecraftian fiction (you can get a discount on the books via Tor.com, I think).

Also, Sirenia Digest #48 went out to subscribers late last night. Comments welcome (mostly).

But yesterday was mostly an unexpected trip to Boston. For a week or so, we'd been planning to see John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road on December 1st. Little did we know that immediately before the November 25th release date, The Weinstein Company decided to radically scale back the number of theatres where the film would be screened. There's all sorts of confusion, apparently, about what's happened. But what it amounts to is that instead of getting a wide release, as planned, it opened in only "31 markets" across the US. And none of those were in Rhode Island. Yesterday morning I discovered that the nearest easily accessible theatre to us showing the film is Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

So...yesterday we went to Boston.

And I am not sorry that we went to such trouble to see The Road on a big (well, biggish) screen. All last night, I tried to decide how to write about the film, but I don't think I can say anything that will do it justice. I can say that it does McCarthy's novel justice. It is far more faithful to the book than I'd expected. It is, possibly, a perfect adaptation. Perfectly cast, perfectly acted, perfectly scored (by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis), just damned near perfect all the way 'round. It is one of the most terrible, beautiful, and true films I've ever seen. And no, I'm not ashamed to say that I was in tears through most of The Road. Viggo Mortensen (Man), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Boy), Charlize Theron (Woman), Robert Duvall (Old Man) all give pitch-perfect performances. Indeed, there is no miscast actor in the film. Hillcoat has translated McCarthy's film...well, I just don't have the words. I said that much at the start. You need to see this movie, not hear me talk about having seen it, even if seeing it means you have to go out of your way. It is not just art. It's important art. We should not be reluctant to inconvenience ourselves for important art. In this film, man confronts the face of all gods, which is Mortality and Extinction, Loss and Despair and Endurance. This film will hurt you, if you're still alive, and it will remind you that the best art does us harm, in one way or another. Harm we need to feel to know that we're alive, and to understand, fully and without reserve, how brief life is, and how frail.

As we left the city, the almost-full moon rose over the Charles River, and it looked as cold and empty and distant from the world as I felt.

Nothing lasts forever
That's the way it's gotta be
There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea
For me
For you
For me

("Black Wave," Arcade Fire)
greygirlbeast: (white2)
Yesterday I began a new vignette for Sirenia Digest #48. I wrote 1,012 words. For the moment, I'm calling it "Exuvium," but that might change, as it could be confused with the epilogue of Silk.

Otherwise, yesterday was fairly unremarkable. Last night, though, after dinner, Spooky and I played eight frakkin' straight hours of WoW. I think that's our record. Shaharrazad and Suraa finally completed Dire Maul, and then, for some reason known only to them Elder Gods what waste their time with addictive MMORPGs, I rolled a new character (my tenth) on the Venture Co. server (we have friends over there). An undead named...wait for it...Shaharrazad. Spooky already had an undead on that server (Artemizia), though she was still at Level 1. So...we were up until four a.m. and made it to Level 7. This is my first time to play an undead, and there's actually a perfectly rational explanation for this whole thing. Okay, maybe it's not exactly perfect or rational. Sure, there's not much in the way of RP in this MMO[RP]G, but we still make up backstories for our characters, as we sit here playing. Shah and Suraa's have become rather complex. And...no, I'm not getting into this, maybe some other time. But yeah, eight hours of WoW.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, and also at Spooky's most excellent Cephalopodmas ornaments (only five remaining), inspired by New England headstones, and featuring everyone's favorite Old One.
greygirlbeast: (white)
On this day in 1859, 150 years ago, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was first published (by British publishing house, John Murray). If any single book charted the course of my life, this is likely it. So, 150 years ago Darwin proposed a theory of evolution to explain the fact of evolution, and, of course, the theory is still evolving, which is the nature of science. And the creationists still don't get it. Maybe in another 150 years...well...let's not go there. My inner pessimist always wins. It's enough to marvel that so many years have passed, and we've made countless discoveries that would have dazzled, delighted, and humbled Mr. Darwin.

Also on this date, in 2001, a mere eight years ago, I began this blog. It was over at Blogger at the time. So, here I have eight years worth of online journal. When it began, I was living in Birmingham and just getting started on Low Red Moon. And I thought I knew how my life would go. I could never have imagined all the things that the coming eight years held in store.

So, there you go. Two anniversaries in one.

Yesterday was mostly spent tweaking "Sanderlings." I also made notes for a new vignette, for Sirenia Digest #48, and that hardly ever happens. Oh, and my contributor's copy of Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown arrived a few days back, and I spent part of yesterday watching the extended interviews.

Last night, Spooky and I were trying to get Shaharrazad and Surra through Dire Maul, but there was some sort of cataclysmic server breakdown. I think at least a third of the WoW servers crashed all at the same time. So, we were forced to stop killing ogres and seek intellectual stimulation elsewhere. So, we watched Peter Askin's documentary, Trumbo (2007), which was very good and almost made me glad for the server crash. I spend far too much time on that damned silly game.

I will not be writing today, because I have a doctor's appointment.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. The copy of The Five of Cups that we're offering is the lettered edition, filled with extras. Also, Spooky has sold all of her non-winged Cthulhu ornaments (Cephalopodmas is just around the corner!), and only has the winged version remaining (the one I happen to prefer). Five of those remain. You can see them in her Dreaming Squid shop.

Now I'm going to finish my coffee.
greygirlbeast: (tentacles)
On Thusday, I began reading Michel Houellebecq's essay on Lovecraft, "Against the World, Against Life" (1991; 2005 English translation by Dorna Khazeni). I finished it yesterday afternoon. While I found it very readable, I also found it rather thin and frequently offensive, and am surprised it has received so much attention and praise. There are a number of factual errors, including Houellebecq's assertion:

"If an author were to be defined, not by the themes he addresses, but by those he avoids then we would be forced to agree that Lovecraft's position is rather unique. In his entire body of work, there is not a single allusion to two of the realities to which we would generally ascribe great importance: sex and money. Truly not one reference. He writes exactly as though these things did not exist." (p. 57)

However, one need only look so far as "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" to begin to refute this two-fold exaggeration. Much of the story's intended horror hinges on breeding between the Deep Ones and the inhabitants of Innsmouth, as well as mentions of more prosaic interracial sex. And there are other stories, such as "The Lurking Fear" and "The Dunwich Horror," that I can point to in order to find sex (specifically the wages of "profane" sexual acts, including miscegenation, incest, and bestiality) not only mentioned, but present as a crucial story element. HPL's racist phobias of genetic degeneration and evolutionary backsliding as a direct result of these couplings is often at the heart his work. Now, it would be fair to say that Lovecraft never wrote anything overtly erotic, but that's not the same as to make the absurd claim that he made "Truly not one reference" to sex. Quite the opposite, I am tempted to say that he was, on some level, obsessed with sex, as part of his revulsion at the inherent messiness of nature.

As for money, consider again "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." The narrator considers taking the train, "when I demurred at the high fare," which leads to him learning about Innsmouth. He's told that the bus driven by Joe Sargent is "cheap enough." Indeed, the narrator explains that he is "always seeking the cheapest route" in his sightseeing trip of New England (reflecting HPL's own impoverished travels). Houellebecq's essay is replete with these mistaken generalizations, leading one to question his familiarity with the stories and author he's discussing.

Throughout, Houellebecq seems intent on celebrating the worst aspects of Lovecraft's fiction, and goes so far as to cite as "Indisputably great Lovecraftian prose" (p. 107) an especially painful (and purple) racist screed in a letter from HPL to Frank Belknap Long. Houellebecq repeatedly praises HPL at his worst, both artistically and morally. In the end, Houellebecq bizarrely concludes (p. 119):

"This is the profound secret of Lovecraft's genius, and the pure source of his poetry: he succeeded in transforming his aversion for life into an effective hostility. To offer an alternative to life in all its forms constitutes a permanent opposition, a permanent recourse to life — this is the poet's highest mission on this earth. Howard Phillips Lovecraft fulfilled this mission."

Leaving aside, for now, the assertion that a hostility towards life should be the goal of all authors, to claim that it was HPL's goal is simply to dismiss much of his life and his letters, or to speak out of ignorance. In the end, Houellebecq comes off as a crank who hasn't even bothered to do his homework. Or, perhaps, a crank who is willing to either ignore or distort the facts in order to advance his deeply cynical worldview. Regardless, it's lousy scholarship, and he certainly does Lovecraft a disservice. It is also worth noting that may of the quotations Houellebecq attributes to HPL could not be verified by the translator.

---

On Thursday night, after our drive up to Salem and Marblehead, we finally had the chance to see Dan Gildark's 2007 film, Cthulhu. I was pleased, overall, though there's some unfortunate acting (or directing) here and there, and a sex scene that only serves to derail the story. It's pretty much a very loose retelling of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," moved to the Pacific Northwest, with the Esoteric Order of Dagon serving as a sort of doomsday cult as the world succumbs to the ravages of global warming, war, and civil unrest. What works most about the film is its unflinching adherence to HPL's cosmicism, and its skillful use of mood (largely accomplished through Sean Kirby's cinematography and Willy Greer's unnerving score). The film wisely chooses to suggest rather than show, and takes full advantage of the bleak grandeur of coastal Oregon. The final ten minutes or so are, I think, close to brilliant. No, it's still not the Lovecraft adaptation I'm waiting for, but, in many ways, it's one of the best to date.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
Meant to post this link this morning and forgot. I suspect this film is one of those extremely rare events, a genuinely good film based upon the work of H. P. Lovecraft. Behold, Cthulhu. Tori Spelling aside, I am impressed by what I see so far (and the Joshi quote doesn't hurt, either).

Also, I think I underestimated the force of this virtual hangover, so I think it's time to start drinking again...
greygirlbeast: (ammonite)
So, if like me, you're being driven slowly insane by the canned Xmas music which bombards our senses from all directions, boring its way inside of brains, infecting us with good cheer and the urge to spend, there's a cure. Why go slowly insane, when you can cut to the chase, unleash Cthulhu, and go quickly insane! The kind folks at the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, makers of that marvelous "silent" film version of The Call of Cthulhu, are now offering two CDs of carols perfectly suited to those of us who have chosen to embrace our inner cephalopod — A Very Scary Solstice and An Ever Scarier Solstice. You can even download sample songs for free. Well, one whole sample song, anyway (lyrics below).

I'll have a blue Solstice, Cthulhu.
I'll be so blue thinking what you'll do.
Sacrifices of red on the blue open sea,
Won't mean a thing until you're here with me.

Until your blue nightmares awake me,
And all my blue angels forsake me,
You'll be down in your tomb, in cyclopean gloom,
And I'll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Solstice.

(spoken) Oh Cthulhu, baby, c'mon up out of that tomb. I can't stop thinking about your huge flabby claws, them little wings of yours, that grotesque scaly body, and them big ol' tentacles wrapped around me. Oh darlin', I can't go on without you.

You'll be down in your tomb in cyclopean gloom,
And I'll have a blue, blue, blue, blue, Solstice.


(Really. It's only November 28th, okay, and already the frelling Xmas carols have me thinking extremely antisocial thoughts...)

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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