greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
I've just been told that Twitter has taken credit for the Russian Revolution.

Today is Darwin Day.

Here in Providence, the smallest fraction of snow has melted. The cold hangs in the air, thick as soup. In the the house, the house I do not leave, I suspect the humidity is in the single digits. The air is crisp, and it crackles when I walk through a room. A migraine came to visit yesterday, and I'm better this morning, but it's still very close.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,281 words on the eighth chapter of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, despite the headache. Later, perhaps because of the headache, the final fifth of the novel occurred to me with almost perfect clarity, pieces falling into place, blindsided by revelation. Solutions to problems, problems I was not even sure existed. And this is why I detest proposals and outlines. This is how I discover a story, by writing it. I never could have imagined the end of the novel, because to learn that end I had to blindly travel the road of the book.

After the writing, we proofed "Night Story 1973," for Two Worlds and In Between. I wrote the story with [livejournal.com profile] docbrite back in 2000.

Answers to the current Question @ Hand— If you were to make of me— of my actual, physical body —a work of art, what would it be? —have almost all involved my death, a procession of postmortem art crimes. And that's entirely cool. But I'm beginning to wonder if I left readers with the impression that my death was a necessary part of their answers. It's not. You may actually work with the living flesh. Go ahead. I won't bite...

Last night, we watched Antti-Jussi Annila's Sauna (2008), and oh my fucking dog what a brilliant fucking film. I has been a long time since I've been genuinely disturbed by a film on the level that Sauna unnerved me. It's an exploration of the Wrong Thing, of the limits of human comprehension when faced with the unknowable. That which hides behind the back of God, to paraphrase the film. The cinematography is exquisite. There are five-second shots that communicate more dread and awe than most "horror" films manage in their entirety. Every frame of film is invested with quiet tension. Seriously, see this. If I made movies, it's the sort of film I'd be trying to make.

We also read the first six chapters of [livejournal.com profile] blackholly's White Cat. Actually, some time back, Spooky listened to the audiobook, read by Jessie Eisenberg, so she's already "read" it, but it's new to me. Very good so far.

A much appreciated package from Steven Lubold yesterday, which included a biography of Mary Anning, the most recent Mouse Guard hardback, and the new Decemberists album, The King is Dead. I already have a favorite track— "Don't Carry It All" –though I expect that by tomorrow I'll have a new favorite track off the disc. A box can brighten a day. Thank you, Steven.
greygirlbeast: (Bjorkdroid)
1. Kathryn and I were stunned and deeply saddened at the news of Alexander McQueen's death, at age 40. Far too fucking young. McQueen was an especially important influence for Kathryn, who told me, yesterday, that it was his work that first showed her that fashion could be art. But this is all we get from any artist, as much as they have to give, however little or however much.

2. Today is Darwin Day, of course. Viva la Evolución! I offer this quote from Carl Sagan:

The secrets of evolution are death and time — the deaths of enormous numbers of lifeforms that were imperfectly adapted to the envirnoment; and time for a long succession of small mutations that were by accident adaptive, time for the slow accumulation of patterns of favorable mutations. Part of the resistance to Darwin and Wallace derives from our difficulty in imagining the passage of the millennia, much less the aeons. What does seventy million years mean to beings who live only one-millionth as long? We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it forever.

3. Our "blizzard" of two nights ago was a bit of a bust. South County got quite a bit of snow, but most of it missed Providence. There's a little still on the ground, but not much.

4. Yesterday, I received what may be the best fan letter I ever have received. My thanks to Jennifer Roland and Sean Foley of the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Anthropology. It begins, "We are drunk. You are awesome...We are currently snowed into our department office, and have discovered that we both love your writing...Belly's Low Red Moon is playing RIGHT NOW, and we have found a typewriter to write you a letter. Of all the ways there are to be snowed in, this is one of the most agreeable." And it goes on, wonderfully, and came with two topographic maps, one New London, Conn-N.Y. quadrangle, and another of the Jackson's Gap quadrangle (Alabama; did a lot of fieldwork in this area, way back when). Both maps have monsters drawn on the back of them. A "Brogmotherium" (looks rather like an arboreal crocodylomorph) on the latter map, and a "Chrixptherium" or "Cephal-bear" drawn on the former. Anyway, my thanks to Sean and Jen, who made a Very Bad Day not so very bad.

5. I've learned that a wonderful review of The Red Tree has appeared in the January '10 issue of the New York Review of Science Fiction, penned by Pete Rawlik. I shall quote a short bit, to give you the gist:

It should be obvious to regular readers of my reviews that I am not a fan of Sarah Crowe’s fiction. I found her novel The Ark of Poseidon pretentious and derivative of the worst parts of Faulkner and Chappell. I believe I called A Long Way to Morning “a tragic southern gothic disguised as an urban, angst-driven, slow-motion train wreck that should be relegated to the dustbins of memory”. Her short story collection Silent Riots was a juvenile exercise in gender-bending erotica that despite its immaturity, likely garnished the kind of toxic attention that she so obviously was in pursuit of. In my mind Sarah Crowe had been set on the shelf with Hastane, Torrance, Ashbless and others who have afflicted the public with their overly dramatic and self-indulgent prose.

So it came as some surprise when editor Sharon Halperin asked me to review
The Red Tree, Crowe’s posthumously published account of her last days at Wight Farm. In a strange twist of literary, legal and financial entanglements, reminiscent of the legal battles between Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane, this book is actually published and copyrighted under the name of famed horror writer Caitlin Kiernan. Apparently, Crowe owed Kiernan a significant debt, and in settling Crowe’s estate, the family ceded rights to publish The Red Tree to Kiernan, on the condition that Crowe’s name would not appear on the cover or in any advertising. The fact that only Kiernan’s name and not Crowe’s appears on the cover may serve to confuse some readers as to authorship, but it does not detract from the quality of the work at hand.

Brilliant!

6. Spooky and I have been digging Caprica (even if it does derive from the Syphilis Channel). I think it's off to a great start, and I especially appreciate the cinematography (rarely, does TV cinematography catch my eye, and rarer still am I pleased with it). It helps that we get Eric Stoltz, whom I've always enjoyed, and Paula Malcolmson, who I loved as Trixie in Deadwood. We will spend today doing the proofing to "Sanderlings" and "Untitled 35," which we meant to do on Wednesday. And yeah, this paragraph is a mess as paragraphs go, I agree.

7. The Insilico rp continues to go marvelously. The story rapidly unfolds all about me. Well, that little corner of the grander story, the little corner I inhabit. Presently, there are three Xiangs, though it did not go quite as I thought it would. The Gemini Corporation has Xiang 2.0b (after extensive reprogramming) working the streets as an Internal Affairs investigator. Xiang 2.0a, the first to be awakened after the EMP, now inhabits an elaborate, exponentially expanding universe of her own creation, contained within the briefcase of Gemini cognate Molly Longshadow, who has convinced the X2.0a AI that it is a goddess. And where I thought X2.0c would be, there is, instead, X1.5, which Omika Pearl restored from Xiang's home terminal, using a back-up made several night's prior to the destruction of the original Xiang. X1.5 has been allowed to reenter the machine collective, unbeknownst to her owner, Omika (yeah, X1.5 is a liarbot). There's one screencap from last night, behind the cut (below). Oh, a few days ago, I replied to [livejournal.com profile] papersteven that I would not be posting a journal for any of these characters. However, I've decided last night's Molly/X2.0a transcript will be posted. It's just too surreal not to put up. Also, I'll be posting a complete biography of the Xiangs to the Insilico Ning, and I'll put links here tomorrow.

Silikhan and Xiang 1.5 inside the Construct )
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
First off, let me direct your attention to the auction that is being held to benefit the Shirley Jackson Awards. Appropriately, it is being called a "lottery." A lot of great stuff, and I've donated a complete, signed set of my novels: Silk, Threshold, Low Red Moon, Murder of Angels, and Daughter of Hounds. Tickets are only one dollar each, and the lottery ends on February 23rd. Check it out.

Yesterday, after attending to the morning's email, I decided that I could spare one day away from the keyboard, in honour of Darwin Day and the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth, and also to take some time to simply enjoy the release of A is for Alien. We toyed with the idea of going either to Boston, to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, or to New Haven, to the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History; either of which would have been perfect. However, Spooky didn't really feel like driving back from Massachusetts, and I really didn't feel like riding to Connecticut. So, we settled for a trip to the Roger Williams Park Zoo here in Providence (established 1872).

The day was cold, and cloudy, and the zoo had an odd air of desolation. Mud and melting snow everywhere, bare limbs, ponds still frozen solid, and many of the animals inside their winter quarters. But we still managed to see a great many living wonders of evolution, which seemed a very fitting way to commemorate Darwin's contributions to biology. Animals I can remember seeing: African elephants, Masai giraffes, dromedaries, Cape hunting dogs, a snow leopard, moon bears, a red panda, flamingos, grey-crowned cranes, a two-toed sloth, a Brazilian prehensile-tailed porcupine, harbour seals, Humboldt penguins, kangaroos, emus, a red wolf, emerald tree boas, some beautiful examples of Australian snake-necked turtles, a crested quail dove, elegant crested tinamou, gibbons, carpet pythons and green tree pythons, Barbary sheep, a babirusa, fruit bats, a giant anteater...and, well, various others. But those are all I recall offhand. It's not a large zoo, compared with the Atlanta Zoo, and the interstate is annoyingly near (almost directly on top of the elephants). I think I will like it better during the spring and summer. We were especially taken with the "Tropical America" exhibit, housed in an ivy-covered Victorian building. It was swelteringly hot inside, and the air was filled with the screams of monkeys and tropical birds. Two docents very eagerly pointed out to us that the two-toed sloth was lounging about outside her den, out in the open, which they said she very rarely does. She was only a couple of feet from us, with no glass or plastic or bars in between. Beautiful. So, yes, Darwin Day hooky at the zoo.

When we got home, another box of A is for Alien and B is for Beginnings was waiting for me on the doorstep. I opened it, and admired the books all over again.

Last night, we both reached Level 61 in WoW, but it was a rather dull, frustrating night of gaming. The Valentine's Day stuff is a bit much. And I'm growing weary of not being able to make it through dungeons until we're far past the level where we can get points for the kills in the dungeons. I cannot understand this attempt at forced socialization. Blizzard could easily have designed a solo mode for the games "instances" (I loathe the sterile misappropriation of that word for the dungeons). I won't play with strangers, generally speaking, and everyone we know who plays WoW is on other servers or much lower or higher than we are. It's a really baffling oversight on the part of Blizzard. But, yeah, Level 61.

And now, the work I should have done yesterday. Here are six photos from the zoo:

Darwin Day 2009 )
greygirlbeast: (Trilobite)
Today is not only Darwin Day, it marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, who was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England on February 12th, 1809. Viva la Evolución!

Yesterday, my comp copies of A is for Alien arrived, along with copies of the chapbook, B is for Beginning. I was a little overwhelmed; I still am. A is for Alien is a very handsome volume, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I sat down and tallied up all the books I've done with subpress since I first began working with Bill Schafer late in 2001. I've done twelve hardbacks (not counting hardback states of chapbooks) and something like fifteen chapbooks. In only about eight years. And here is this latest one, and I just want to take the day off and do something I pretty much never do when a new book comes out: bask in the satisfaction of having done a good job. But, no, too much work to be done, too many deadlines. My thanks to everyone who's ordered a copy, and to Bill for taking the book on, and a special thanks to Vince Locke. Also, my thanks to Elizabeth Bear and Jacek Yerka. Like I said already, I'm a litle overwhelmed at this one. My next release from Subterranean Press will be the new trade-paperback edition of Alabaster in April (by the way, I love that on a search for the word "alabaster" on Google, out of 4,880,000 hits, this book comes in at sixth place).

Yesterday, I wrote 690 words, adding a short scene to Chapter Eight of The Red Tree, at my editor's request. Unlike the new scene I wrote on Monday (and ditched on Tuesday), yesterday's scene doesn't feel dropped in. It blends smoothly with the whole, and creates no unsightly ripples. Today, I need to substantially revise the preface, primarily because I wrote the preface before the novel, and, thereafter, The Red Tree became a somewhat different book than I thought it would be when I began. So, the preface no longer quite works with the rest.

More books up on eBay, so please have a look at the auctions.

Much of the snow has finally melted. The temperature was in the high fifties (F) yesterday, and I was even able to open my office window and let some fresh air into the room.

A very busy virtual life last night. To start with, I'm in the process of tearing down the Abney Park Laboratory in the Second Life steampunk sim, New Babbage. It will be replaced by an Arabian Nights-themed "Ladies Social and Arts Club" (with a steampunk edge, of course), which is a nice way of saying an Arabian/NeoVic lesbian bordello. I finally got bored with the whole "mad scientist" thing, so, in Babbage, Nareth Nishi will be replaced by my new alt (created just last night), Scheherazade Muramabhad. Construction of the place will begin as soon as the laboratory is leveled. Nareth will continue to rp in Toxian City, but not in Babbage. And then, later, Shaharrazad and Suraa discovered that is is possible to rp in WoW. While questing in the Eastern Plaguelands, we happened upon a bloof-elf paladin named Sularyn, and together we took the four towers in the region back from the Alliance and held them. Shah and Suraa didn't make it to Level 61, but it was a good night, all the same. Well, except for the utter apocalypse of hearts and flowers and Valentine's Day bullshit that is making it impossible to move in Undercity.

The platypus and the dodo are pretty mellow today. Darwin Day, and the bicentennial of Darwin's birth, seems to have made them both somewhat less grumpy.
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
A day of relief and some small bit of rejoicing yesterday, as we learned that we got the apartment near the Armory district in Providence that we were hoping we'd get. It is very, very good to know, again, where we will be sleeping two months from now. We plan to leave Atlanta, probably, on Friday, May 30th, and arrive at the new place on June 1st, just about the time the movers arrive with our furniture. It's a wonderful apartment, in a building dating back to 1875. This is the move I wanted to make in 2002, when we landed in Atlanta, instead, so it feels like some long-delayed goal has been achieved. Our five (going on six) years in Atlanta have not been a total waste, just awfully close to a total waste, and I'll be glad to be shed of this city. Of course, now we have less than six weeks remaining to pack everything.

Byron will be driving up with us, to drive Spooky's car while she drives the van that will transport more fragile belongings (fossils, computers, Hubero, framed pictures, etc.) that we don't trust to the movers. It's good to know we won't be on the road alone. He'll take a plane back (though we have hopes that Providence will seduce him, as well).

A decent writing day yesterday, though it took me forever, or so it felt, to get started. I did 1,131 words on Chapter One of The Red Tree. As for the footnotes vs. endnotes thing, I think I have (after many comments from readers) come down on the side of footnotes. We'll see how it goes when I finish this chapter and backtrack to add them in, see if footnotes look and feel right.

Email yesterday from Frank Woodward of Wyrd Co., to let me know that the editing on the documentary, H. P. Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, is finished, and wanting to know if I'd like to be one of the first to see it. Of course, I said yes. And I cannot recall, offhand, who it was, back during the medical/dental crisis of February who bought letter "L" of Tales from the Woeful Platypus (plus Beanie platypus #4), and for whom I promised a letter "L" limerick, but I apologize for not having gotten around to it yet. Yesterday, Spooky shoved the Beanie platypus at me and threatened death if I did not take care of this. So. It's on the list for this weekend, promise, and I thank you for your patience. Spooky has decided, by the way, that there shall be no more eBay until after the move.

Last night, Byron came over for the premiere of Series Four of Doctor Who, and I thought it was a very excellent episode, indeed (of course, UK folks saw it about three weeks ago, I guess). A good start, though I would so have loved Astrid to have become the new companion, if we can't have Sally Sparrow or Martha Jones. I was not, however, impressed with the The Sarah Jane Adventures. Maybe if I were twelve. But the new episode of Battlestar Galactica was also quite good, with a nice tummy punch there at the end. Byron did not stay for BSG, as he still holds a grudge against the SFC for canceling Farcscape, and says that Doctor Who is one thing, since it's actually produced by the BBC, but BSG is another. I hold the grudge, as well, but fell in love with BSG on DVD and couldn't help myself. Later in the night, some good rp in Second Life.

Someone got me thinking that today was Darwin Day, when, in fact, Darwin Day was February 12th (his birthday). Today is actually the date of his death in 1882. However, since I missed Darwin day this year, I shall recognise it today:



I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.

—— Charles Darwin, from Autobiography (1958, edited by Darwin's granddaughter, Emma Barlow)
greygirlbeast: (Default)
So, yes, here we are once more at Darwin Day, and I just wanted to take a moment here to mark the 198th anniversary of the birth of one of the individuals most responsible for shaping our current understanding of life on Earth. It is also a very fine day to reflect upon the power of the scientific method as a tool for unlocking the mysteries of the natural world.

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
— Charles Robert Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1st ed., 1859).

the man himself )


Also, I would like to remind all interested parties that the Raven Red auction ends in less that two and a half hours. Please take a look. And, as I said this ayem, should you bid, I thank you, Spooky thanks you, Hubero P. Wu thanks you, and Herr Platypus certainly thanks you.
greygirlbeast: (new chi)
The secrets of evolution are death and time — the deaths of enormous numbers of lifeforms that were imperfectly adapted to the enviroment; and time for a long succession of small mutations that were by accident adaptive, time for the slow accumulation of patterns of favorable mutations. Part of the resistance to Darwin and Wallace derives from our difficulty in imagining the passage of the millennia, much less the aeons. What does seventy million years mean to beings who live only one-millionth as long? We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it forever. — Carl Sagan


Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
greygirlbeast: (chi3)
This is likely to be a somewhat rambley and unfocused entry, as I am neither particularly awake nor in particularly good spirits. Likely, there will be short paragraphs. Likely, maybe, perhaps, something unpleasant will be said. Or not. But I advise that you get off now if you're prone to sea sickness, hives, or sudden bouts of impatience. My hair hurts.

Yesterday, among other things, we made it though Chapter Eight of Daughter of Hounds, which, along with Chapter Four, has had me worried, as it's somewhat, shall we say, "action heavy." I don't credit myself with being especially good with action scenes, partly because I'm always thinking how much better they would work on film. But, low and behold and what to you know, I think it's actually very good. There's fire and any number of alternate realities. Chapter Eight is where the novel's two parallel narrative threads finally collide. It's the climax before the climax (before the final climax). This one comes with false bottoms, so you'll be having to mind your steps. I believe that I would also contend that it's a novel without a "villain," that it only contains characters which are at crossed purposes. Of course, I suppose the same could be said for any supposed protagonist/antagonist relationship. Well, okay, I can think of one good villain, but he doesn't get much "screen time." Today, we do Chapter Nine.

More pencils from Vince last night, a sketch for "Untitled 17." Very nice. I may have all the finished artwork for Sirenia Digest #3 by sometime this evening. And by the way, this is a very good day to become a subscriber if you're not one already. Just click here, read the FAQ, then subscribe. For the price of just two or three big cups of that bitter swill Starbuck's insists upon calling coffee, you can have two or three new pieces a fiction each month, plus illustrations and etc. For less than the price of a pizza. Come on. It's the right thing to do. Search your feelings. You know it to be true. If you only knew the power of the Dark Side. It is your destiny. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy, and...er...um...well, just frelling subscribe, okay? Do it today and you'll even get a free copy of the trade paperback of Silk.

A big thank you to David Kirkpatrick, who e-mailed me a PDF of the paper in Nature describing the holotype of the tyrannosauroid, Guanlong wucaii, thus saving me a trip to Emory. Also, these are much better resolution illos. than I'd have ever gotten from a photocopy. Freed from the need to go to the library, Spooky and I wandered about L5P for a while. It was really too cold, though, and we hadn't dressed for it, so we didn't wander for very long. We grabbed what we needed for dinner from the co-op (garlic, fresh basil, tomatoes, field greens, a bag of Newman's Own cinnamon-graham cookies) and headed home again. Warmish once more, I read a paper on a new Lower Cretaceous elasmosaurid taxon, Eromangasaurus caringnathus, from the Lower Cretaceous of Australia and began another on heterodonty in Tyrannosaurus rex. We spent most of the evening reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I fear both the PlayStation and the X-Box are feeling rather neglected this winter.

I think Spooky means to begin the letter S auction later today. I'll make a post when she does. Also, if you haven't yet pre-ordered Alabaster, you should, especially if you're wanting the limited edition.

Oh, and Sunday is Darwin Day. I musn't forget to make an appropriately Darwinist post on the twelfth. Tonight, of course, we get the opening ceremony for the 2006 winter olympics. I'm not one for any sort of team sports, but I do enjoy much of the winter olympics. Okay. I should think that's more than enough of me for one morning...

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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