greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
On this day, sixty-five years ago, the dismembered body of Elizabeth Short was found in Leimert Park, Los Angeles.

Bitterly cold (but no snow) here in Providence. We had single digits last night, and the temperature Outside is currently 15˚F.

Here's a link to the full text of the starred (!) Publishers Weekly review of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Also, my thanks to Elizabeth Bear ([livejournal.com profile] matociquala) for the very kind things she said about the novel a couple of days ago.

Yesterday, I realized that I'd done a very peculiar thing Friday while working on Albaster #4. I'd written pages five, six, and seven. But...this is going to sound so stupid...with seven I'd jumped ahead to a spot very near to the end of the book, only a few pages from the end. It was strange, yeah. I always write from "beginning" to "end," in a straight line, so it was a very odd thing for me to have done. Anyway, yesterday, I set that seventh page aside (I'll use it at the appropriate time), and wrote a new page seven, along with eight, nine, and ten (manuscript pages 14-19, 1,403 words). I stopped in the year 1864 – November, to be precise. I'll resume there today. Oh, it'll all make sense, trust me.

After the writing, I used the iPad to stream a rather dubious documentary about the Snowball Earth hypothesis. I don't mean to say that the hypothesis itself, though still somewhat controversial, is dubious. It's just that the Discovery Channel (I can't believe they haven't shortened the station's title to Disco) seems incapable of making coherent, accurate documentaries that don't drag everything down to the level of "Bat Boy" and the Weekly World News (By the way, you know you're old when you remember the days when the Weekly World News took itself seriously.). The documentary almost managed to reduce a respectable (and very likely) scientific model to nothing more than the latest Roland Emmerich blockbuster.

Later, we played SW:toR, forgoing RP in favor of leveling. We both reached Level 28. And then we watched Craig Gillespie's remake of Fright Night (2011). Now, given the fact that I'm an admirer of the original (1988) and the fact that I hate 3D, I will admit I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder going in. But I was quickly won over. Yeah, the 3D is gimmicky as fuck, and annoyingly intrusive at times (Oh! Look! Blood spurting at the film! Scream!). But the film is both a lot of fun and filled with genuine menace. Most of the casting is superb – Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell (I never would have believed it), Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and (drum roll) David Fucking Tennant. The show really belonged to Tenant and Farrell. I do wish a little more care had been taken casting female roles. Imogen Poots? That was supposed to be an in joke, right? And Toni Collette....well, we know she can act, but I guess the fact that she's comatose for the second half of this film meant she didn't have much incentive to try during the first half. I was disappointed that we didn't get some of the wonderful creature effects from the original – the werewolf and the amazingly creepy bat thing – but still, very good and highly recommended. Even with the annoying 3D shots trying to jump out into you lap. Oh, it also scored points for mentioning Farscape.

After the movie, I read Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Silence of the Asonu" (1998), a fine bit of SF anthropology (also collected in Lightspeed: Year One). And then I finally slept.
greygirlbeast: (stab)
Hallelujah, Noël,
Be it Heaven or Hell...


That's the best part of the Greg Lake song, so that's the only part I'm quoting. And that's being generous. Fuck you, Xmas, and the manger you rode in on.

I ought be working, as that's my usual Xmas Eve tradition, but I'm supposedly vacating. Maybe I'll clean my office. I know I'll spend the evening posting Xmas cheer, like Tom Waits' "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" and the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York." And, of course, Spooky and I have our one and only Xmas Eve tradition: watching Terry Zwigoff's Badder Santa (2003), in which Billy Bob Thornton teaches us the true meaning of Xmas. "Fuck me, Santa. Fuck me, Santa. Fuck me, Santa." Well, that and wooden pickles. And theft. And booze.

Yesterday...er. After all the intoxicants, do I even remember yesterday? There were emails with publicity at Berkley Publishing Group/New American Library, because, you know, I'm on vacation. Only writers don't get vacations. Not true vacations. And there was a huge breakfast of ham and eggs and tomato and sautéed mushrooms. Oh, look. LJ can only spell sautéed if you leave off the acute accent. Fucking illiterate fucking internet. I read John Langan's "Mr. Gaunt." I took Vicodin for recreational purposes. Hey, my psychiatrist said it was okay, as long as I don't develop a dependency (flash back to my notorious Xanax addiction of 1988-1991). I thought about cleaning up my office, but it was too much work. I wanted some "candlelight yoga," but I was too stoned...and too sore from the fall at West Cove. I spent three hours on an LJ entry, which is sort of pathetic. We watched the last two episodes of American Horror Story (bow tie!!!), then played SW:toR (and I murdered a Darth! Also bow tie.), and I dozed while watching a documentary on how Earth's collision with a planetoid (Theia) led to the creation of the moon 4.53 Ga (4,533 million years ago, ten to the sixth, etc.). I guess that was yesterday. Oh, except for the Tiger Balm patch and two Red Bulls.

Maybe, late tonight, I'll go out and give all my money away to street crazies, and vets we can't be bothered to take care of, all the freezing and the homeless and lost and forgotten and forsaken and as good as walking dead. But not crack whores. I do not take pity on crack whores, kittens.

And now? Well, we shall see, won't we. Keep watching the skies.

Filled With Happy Juice,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
This morning might almost be mistaken for June. Sunny. Warm, if you ignore the breeze. 74F.

Speaking as someone who has (and continues) to cope with addiction, I remain forever...how shall I say this nicely? I remain forever at odds with NA and AA. I've seen so many sane, decent, rational, likeable drunks and addicts turned into unbearable, self-righteous zombies obsessed with abandoning personal responsibility and shifting it to their so-called Higher fucking Powers. Once upon a time, back in the late 1980s, I had a therapist in Birmingham. I can't even recall her name. But she tried to get me on the twelve-step bandwagon. There was a day she grew (no shit) absolutely livid because I refused to "surrender" to any "Higher Power." She accused me of "not even trying" and threatened to stop seeing me. "Can't you at last pretend?!" Hell, let us here note the success rates of these programs are crap. And here's the thing, it's not that I don't recognize that the universe is filled to overflowing with that which is more powerful than the one little organism of me. I do recognize that. Humpback whales. Hurricanes. Volcanoes. Plate tectonics. The sun. Whatever. I'm just one little bug. But I refuse to make up – or buy into other people's made up – sentient "Higher Powers." Trading one drug for another, in effect, one dependency for another. Though, in retrospect, maybe I should have claimed my Higher Power was a female Black Lectroid leader named John Emdall (from Planet 10, natch). Sorry. Rant ends here.

---

Workwise, yesterday was a bit of a nightmare. As I was about to begin the next section of Chapter Four, I realized there was a huge continuity error, and that its roots lay far back in a conversation I'd written in Chapter Two. I refused to rewrite the conversation, and sat here until I found a way to progress, resolve the continuity problem, and keep the conversation. All that led to a somewhat lowered word count, "only" 1,034 words.

There's something about Blood Oranges that I hope people will understand. This book is "just for fun." Spooky calls it a "popcorn book." Which is fairly accurate. It is in no way meant to be received the way I hope people have received The Red Tree and will receive The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. This one's just for shits and giggles.

Anyway...

I've felt so lousy the last few days (much better this ayem), we splurged last night and went to the 6:30 screening of Terrence Malick's Tree of Life at the Avon on Thayer Street (I half made up for it by have PB&J for dinner). Malick is in the tiny handful of directors who can, in my opinion, pretty much do no wrong. I'd love to write a review expounding just how amazing and beautiful and brilliant Tree of Life is, but, as I've said many times, I have no talent for reviews. But...you have to see this if you can. A film that manages to place the everyday life of a Waco, Texas family in the 1950s within a universal context, within the context of deep time. From the formation of the galaxy to the prebiotic earth to a Cretaceous forest...to the emptiness of an architect's life decades after his brothers death...to the nova of our star and, then, earth as a burnt out cinder. Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are both perfect. Indeed, this is about as close to perfect as film ever comes. There's not much I can think of that's comparable to Tree of Life, except Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Only Tree of Life is a better film. No film has impressed me this much since Synecdoche, New York (2008). Tree of Life goes on my "Top 50 Films Ever" list. Not sure what gets bumped off.

---

Later, back home, I played Rift. A lot of Rift, while Spooky played the new American Mcgee Alice game (which is gorgeous). My thanks to Tracy T. for a combination of superb rp and helping me survive two enormous fire-rift events in the Droughtlands. Ah, Maelforge, chaos incarnate, dragon ruler of the Plane of Fire, you are a right bastard.

Then Spooky and I finished reading Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants (this month's selection in Aunt Beast's Book of the Month Club - hint, hint). A marvelous novel, though I actually think the film may be ever so slightly better. That actually does happen from time to time, the creation of a film that bests its source material. Oh, our mathematician's dice came yesterday! And I read "Cranial osteology of a juvenile specimen of Tarbosaurus bataar (Theropoda, Tyrannosauridae) from the Nemegt Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of Bugin Tsav, Mongolia" from the January JVP.

Oh, and I think I've decided that Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart will be dedicated to Henry Darger.

Also, all of Round 2 of the Big Damn eBay Auction has ended except this.

Okay. Must write now, and must not wish (too hard) that I were at the sea.
greygirlbeast: (Vulcans)
This morning I am tremendously grateful to a particular editor, who has extended the deadline on my next short story from May 15th to May 31st. The last two days have been passed in the panic and cold sweat that comes when the words won't, and the deadline looms, indifferent to my inability to tell tales. And, actually, I'm going to set this new story aside, let it steep a few days, and write a couple of pieces for Sirenia Digest #42.

At least a small portion of my present writing anxiety stems from the fact that human exploration and the ensuing cartography has rendered it all but impossible to tell "lost world" stories. Sure, I do love Google Earth, and Google Mars, and, for that matter, Google Europa. I spend hours pouring over satellite photographs. They fascinate me. But, I also miss the blank spaces on maps, those "Here Be Dragons" voids. And, in particular, I miss the opportunities they afforded writers of weird and speculative fiction. These days, there's nowhere left on this planet to halfway convincingly hide (and then discover) a Caprona, an Erewhon, a Brobdingnag. But, at least we can still turn to deep time, which is what I'm doing in the story that's presently giving me fits. The mapping of Deep Time will likely never be complete, or even halfway so, and, hence, I may freely populate it with any number of heretofore unsuspected microcontinents and atolls.

---

Yesterday afternoon, we made a matinée of J. J. Abrams' Star Trek, and I found it entirely and unreservedly delightful. Yeah, the science is pretty much junk, stem to stern, as has always been the case with Star Trek. But so what. It's Star Trek, and Abrams has given the story the reboot it needed after the obscene farce of Star Trek: Enterprise (and Star Trek: Nemesis, while we're at it). I loved the film. Crazy-good space opera. Breathtaking sfx. And the casting is superb. I already knew that I'd love Zachary Quinto as Spock, but I was almost as pleased with Karl Urban as McCoy, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, and John Cho as Sulu. I've never been much for Kirk, but Chris Pine did just fine. And casting Simon Pegg as Scotty was a stroke of pure brilliance. This one's a winner, and, while the film is utterly satisfying, I'm a glutton and was left wanting much, much more, please.

Last night, we watched Abrams Cloverfield (2008) again, because it just seemed the right thing to do. Though, of course, Cloverfield was directed by Matt Reeves, and not Abrams. They do, however, share the same creature designer, Neville Page.

---

Having fun with WoW the last few nights. Shaharrazad and Suraa both made Level 67 last night, while trudging through the swampy wastes of Zangarmarsh.

And now, says the platypus, it's time to wrap this up. The dodo concurs.
greygirlbeast: (chi 5)
I feel as though I slept all day long yesterday. In point of fact, I did not. I actually managed to write a very decent 1,300 words on The Red Tree, beginning Chapter Three, which I'm liking more than I liked Chapter Two. Mostly, I was left with the conviction that if I can force myself to write on a day like yesterday, I can force myself to write on almost any sort of day. As for today, so far I mostly feel disoriented.

Anyway, my reward for writing (and resting) yesterday was a 10:55 ayem matinée of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. I'm not going to say much, because I don't want to risk spoiling it for anyone. But I loved it. It manages to be beautiful, terrible, and fun, and keep a sense of humor the whole time. The creature designs are, of course, superb, as is Danny Elfman's score. I keep waiting to Guillermo del Toro to disappoint me, and I just don't think it's ever going to happen. I may have more to say, after thinking about it a bit. I will say that I suspect Princess Nuala is my new infatuation...

Back to yesterday, I finished reading "Marginal Creatures in a Marginal World," Chapter Six of Nicholas Fraser's Dawn of the Dinosaurs: Life in the Triassic. It covered many of my favourite enigmatic Triassic beasties —— including Drepanosaurus, Megalancosaurus, Longisquama, Sharovipteryx, and Langobardisaurus. I also started Chapter Seven, "The Enigmas of Texas and the U.S. Southwest," which deals primarily with the Chinle and Dockum faunas.

There was a trip to the market, and there were hot dogs for dinner. There were fresh strawberries in our weekly bag from the farmer's market. There was a little Second Life. But the prison sim in which Nareth is serving a fourteen-day sentence, while at first promising, is proving rather dull (and not in the ways a prison stay should, fairly, be dull). And I'm really, really getting tired of people who use emoticons and lolspeak during rp, and those who seem to have taught themselves to write dialogue by watching anime. After Second Life, there were some "soft, soft drugs." And more sleep. It's very, very rare when I'm asleep long before Spooky. Oh, that reminds me. [livejournal.com profile] acephalemagic sent me this quote from an E.M. Cioran interview, regarding insomnia. It comes very near to describing the state of mind I call "dreamsickness":

Weiss: Do you still suffer from it [insomnia]?

Cioran: A lot less. But that was a precise period, about six or seven years, when my whole perspective on the world changed. I think it's a very important problem. It happens like this: normally someone who goes to bed and sleeps all night almost begins a new life the next day. It's not simply another day, it's another life. And so, he can undertake things, he can manifest himself, he has a present, a future, and so on. But for someone who doesn't sleep, from the time of going to bed at night to waking up in the morning it's all continuous, there's no interruption. Which means there is no suppression of consciousness. It all revolves around that. So, instead of starting a new life, at eight in the morning you're like you were at eight the evening before. The nightmare continues uninterrupted in a way, and in the morning, start what? Since there's no difference from the night before. That new life doesn't exist. The whole day is a trial, it's the continuity of the trial. Well, while everyone rushes toward the future, you are on the outside. So, when that's stretched out for months and years, it causes your sense of things, your conception of life, to be forcibly changed. You do not see what future to look toward, because you don't have any future. And I really consider that the most terrible, most unsettling, in short, the principal experience of my life. There's also the fact that you are alone with yourself. In the middle of the night, everyone's asleep, you are the only one who is awake. Right away I'm not a part of humanity, I live in another world...


My thanks to everyone for the kind words yesterday. They were much appreciated.
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)

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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