greygirlbeast: (Default)
Cold this morning. Cold, but sunny, 37˚F. Very, very windy.

Yesterday, I began a second pseudo-vignette for Sirenia Digest, and right now I'm calling this one "Apostate," though I'd like to come up with a better title. "Apostate" is appropriate, I just don't like it. One-word titles can get irksome, and I just finished "Camuffare." Anyway, I did 1,302 words yesterday afternoon, and I'll likely finish the piece today.

By the way, after the writing yesterday, I did some math. "Apostate" will be the 105th piece of short fiction I've written for the digest since December 2005 (vignettes, short stories, novelettes, novellas, what-the-fuck-have-you). That includes the three parts of The Alphabetos Triptych, each considered as a single work. To date, about a dozen of the pieces have been reprinted elsewhere. Twenty were collected in The Ammonite Violin & Others (2010), and another twenty-five will appear in Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart. Oh, and four appeared in Tales from the Woeful Platypus (2007). That's only forty-nine. Which means a mere 46.6% of the stories from the digest have been collected to date. Even assuming that Subterranean Press continues to publish collections of them, given that I keep adding more each month, it's going to be quite some time before everything from the digest is in print. It would require the digest be discontinued, and I don't see that happening any time soon. I found the numbers sobering. One-hundred and five stories. If you like my short fiction, and you're not a subscriber, this certainly ought to be an incentive.

Also yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy, [livejournal.com profile] briansiano, and the intrepid Sara Murphy convened in the wilds of Pennsylvania to shoot more video and stills. More scenes from The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. I should have been there, but the continuing headaches (yes) and my deadlines made the long trip impractical (to say the least). But, here's the thing. Excepting the top-tier donors (3 people), the shots from this session is not available to those who donated to the Kickstarter project. And given we went a bit over budget, we're hoping to cover more of the overage by offering some of Kyle's prints for sale. I'll post the information here as soon as he's set up for the sale. Which should be very soon. The photos are gorgeous. [livejournal.com profile] kambriel* made the gorgeous "Le Petit Chaperon Rouge" dress that Sara wears. And, while I'm at it, the novel's release date is now only thirty six (!) days away.

Last night, on the recommendation of [livejournal.com profile] andrian6, Spooky and I watched Joel Anderson's Lake Mungo (2008). Except for Cloverfield, I'm fairly certain Lake Mungo is the best "mockumentary" (I fucking loathe that "word") since Myrick and Sánchez' superb The Blair Witch Project in (1999). Lake Mungo is quiet, eerie in all the right ways, and deeply disconcerting. In the end, it's what all "ghost" stories should be – it's sad. Set in Australia, it's sort of like Peter Weir did a ghost story back in the 1970s. You should see it.

And, with that...time to make the doughnuts.

Wishing She Were On the Way Home from Pennsylvania,
Aunt Beast

* If you want to see many of her beautiful designs on her retail website, just go here. Kambriel has made several custom pieces for me over the years.

Addendum (2:29 p.m.): Just heard from my agent that my Publishers Weekly interview is now out, in the January 30, 2012 issue of the magazine. Apparently, no one in Rhode Island sells the magazine, so if you can get me a copy, I'll show my gratitude in some very nice way. Thank you.
greygirlbeast: (river2)
Cold and sunny here in Providence. Tonight, we are promised it will be colder, but still mostly clear, for the Steel Yard annual iron pour. Meanwhile, we have a winter storm watch set to begin tomorrow at five p.m. and run until early Sunday morning. The first nor'easter of the year, and early. Looks like most of New England's going to get hit, but it also looks like we're in a narrow band that will escape the worst of the weather. Yay, us. I'd really like to have another six weeks or so until I have to worry about the blizzards. Anyway, as long as weather predictions are being made, I predict this is going to be a long and bad, bad winter.

Yesterday, we made it through the last two chapters of Blood Oranges. What a weird book. But, also, what a funny book. How did I do that? It's pretty much Buffy the Vampire Slayer directed by Quentin Tarantino. I think maybe the more interesting question is why did I do that? Was I trying to purge the deleterious effect that writing The Drowning Girl: A Memoir had upon me? That seems to be the popular opinion, but I can't say for sure. But it does hold up, and that's a great relief. I shall think of it as a belated tonic against the waning ParaRom market. I won't even dignify "ParaRom" with the sobriquet "genre." Not even "subgenre." It's just a market. You know, like varieties of porn. No, wait. I like porn. Porn is useful, and has dignity. Especially the creepy stuff from South Korea.

Oh, and I'm thinking of calling the obligatory sequel Fay Grimmer. No one will get the Hal Hartley reference who isn't meant to get it.

Today, it's back to work on Project Arrowhead for the MiBs at No Such Agency. As I said to Spooky, it's going to be the first long day of a long weekend at the beginning of a long winter.

Last night, in the rain, sleet, and snow, we went forth into the darkness to run errands. I got two new (and badly needed) pairs of shoes for the winter. I went all last winter in my Cros, coupled with New Zealand bedsocks. Which is really no fit state of affairs. Anyway, and the cat food/litter place, we had to go there, too, and also get dinner, and it must have been nine p.m. by the time we got home.

After dinner, there was RIFT. Mostly, dailies and world-event stuff, and then we watched Michael Tolkin's The Rapture (1991). I'd not seen it since the video release in 1992 or whenever, but after seeing Red State, and discovering that Spooky had never seen The Rapture, I very much needed to see it again. Well, I could have done without David Duchovny's mullet. But the rest of the film has aged very well. There are few better examples of the "Christian horror film." It's sort of Red State turned inside out, and the horror isn't so much what people are willing to believe (though that's bad enough). The horror lies in the objective existence of a sadistic "god" who demands it be loved, like a spoiled child demanding attention. It will be loved, or you will be damned. It will be loved, and you will destroy yourself for it's love, or you'll spend forever alone. Even if you are a "good" person, it will still damn you, unless you love it. In the final moments of the film, the film's protagonist redeems herself by finding her own salvation simply by telling the Bully in the Sky that no, she won't love it. "Who forgives God?", a question asked moments before the climax, is especially apt. So, yes, this is a keeper. A film which doesn't so much question the cartoonish Biblical eschatology, as it questions the ethics of a omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who would subject its creations to a living hell, just to get its ya-yas off. You know, just because. Like any shitty parent or schoolyard bully. See it, if you've not already. And if it sounds like the sort of film that would piss you off because you're a good Christian, then you especially need to see it. If you're that sort of person, this film was made for you. It won't change your mind. But, nonetheless.

We read more of Wildwood.

And now, I see the black van has pulled up outside.

Off to the Airbase,
Codename: Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Comment!

Spooky just quoted the Agricultural Commissioner of the state of Florida to me. "This snail is one bad dude," she said. Well, she said, he said. These are our mornings.

Yesterday, I didn't work. My body isn't exhausted. I've actually been getting more sleep than I did for a long time (finally having discovered the effective anti-insomnia cocktail...for me), but I've been working so much. For a long time, I was truly too ill to take on more than...this gets sort of funny. Even when I was very ill, I was working a lot. I'm making a living as a freelance, and so there's no choice but to work. Health is not relevant, not really. Regardless, about a year and a half ago, I began getting better, and taking on more work, and conceiving new ideas, and, at this point, I go to sleep working out problems in my fiction and wake up doing the same thing. Okay, more the former than the latter. But it's catching up with me, and my mind and nerves are tired. All thus fucking work. So, I didn't work yesterday.

I suppose autumn is here. I haven't spent much time outside, but it must be here. I feel it. It isn't looking in. Why would it bother? But I feel its dry brown eyes upon me, if only because I'm in the way. Not that I believe the autumn is something that can literally have eyes. And speaking of the autumn, and Hallowe'en, Spooky is having a Hallowe'en Sale (!!!) in her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries. 20% off on everything! And if you don't buy something, she'll get sad, and when she gets sad.... Well, trust me. You don't want her sad. So, please...buy something. The necklaces are truly amazing.

Actually, I hate that word. Sad*, I mean. It's a child's word. There at least twenty synonyms in the English language that are far more suitable to mature vocabularies. Of course, if you are a child, by all means, good word. Use it till the wheels fall off.*

I'm having a great deal of frustration as regards futurism at the moment. I don't mean the artistic movement that arose in Italy about 1910 (including Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, Antonio Sant'Elia, Tullio Crali and Luigi Russolo, plus the Russians Natalia Goncharova, Velimir Khlebnikov, and Vladimir Mayakovsky). I mean futurism in the many senses that it is employed by those who wish to analyze trends and then forecast. But I don't mean those looking for better futures (there are none), and I don't mean those who believe the future can be accurately forecast (that's almost impossible; not quite, but almost). What I have in mind is far simpler: communicating to people that the future will be alien, just as the past is alien. That is, alien to us, from the Here and Now. And convincing people they do not currently live in some incarnation or portion of the future (excepting that this came after that; well, that's bloody obvious, and now you're even older). I mean, the future will be different, and the farther you move into the future, the stranger (less like now) it becomes. That everything evolves, and not just technology, but culture. SF writers have an especial problem with evolving culture, economics, biology, medicine, politics, and especially with evolving language. But...I'm not actually concerned here with writers. Even the worst SF writer is ahead of the curve in this regard. I'm talking about...oh, never mind. You can lead a horse to a fine Bordeaux, but it's just gonna want the oogy, muddy, stinking water in the drinking through, where all the rodents poop. Some will know of what I speak; others will not.

Did I mention that Spooky is having a Hallowe'en Sale (!!!) in her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries. I did? Just checking.

Last night, we happened to see a rather good movie, Christian Alvart's Case 39 (2009), with Renée Zellweger, Ian McShane, and Jodelle Ferland. I went in not expecting much, and was pleasantly surprised. You could call this a "horror movie," and maybe it is. But I find it more interesting to think of as a film about terror and horror (and those aren't the same emotions, you know, regardless of how linked they may be). Also, while this film clearly comes from the demonic child/possession tradition, it immediately struck me as a story about a fairie changeling, and (though the word demon is tossed about a couple of times, and we see a crucifix and a Bible, the Xtianity thing is almost absent). So, it may be Alvart had something far less concrete than a "demon" (sensu Xtianity) in mind. It may only be that he understands the American mind, needing something familiar, would fix on "demon." Anyway, Case 39 is not a particularly original movie, so if you're that sort (and I hope you're not), don't waste your time with it. It plays old tropes, but it plays them well. It's not brilliant, but it is good, and it's stuck with me. There are elements it borrows from better films, but it borrows them well. And, even in an ending that might seem hopeful, step back, and you'll see the overwhelming bleakness and horror still in play. It's streaming free on Netflix.

Later, I read a truly awful story in the Halloween anthology, Lyllian Huntley Harris' "The Vow on Halloween." Never heard of Lyllian Huntley Harris? Well, neither had I, and with good reason. The anthology's editor (who freely admits this tale is "pure pulp and quaintly romantic") notes that the story was, in a 1985 anthology, mistakenly attributed to the Irish novelist Dorothy Macardle. Turns out, though, it was published in Weird Tales in 1924, by a Georgian woman (that is, Georgia, USA), and her name was Lyllian Huntley Harris, and she couldn't write for shit. Virtually nothing else is known about her. She died in 1939.

Oh, we saw the first episode of Season Four of Fringe, and...wow. More, please. I am impressed and pleased. There are points I could get picky about, but I'm not going to, because the show is just too much fun.

Also, here's an interesting bit of trivia. My first rejection slip ever came from the late, lamented Twlight Zone magazine in 1982 (at least, I think it was '82). The story was a stinker, and it deserved the rejection, believe me. Anyway, at the time, the editor was T. E. D. Klein, who wrote the excellent and surprisingly (to me) successful Machenesque novel The Ceremonies (1984) and the shorty-story collection Dark Gods (1985), and, sadly, very little else. But, yeah, my first rejection slip came from T. E. D. Klein, who, turns out, wrote the introduction of the forthcoming Hippocampus Press collection of Arthur Machen stories, which will feature the afterword I wrote in 2008 for a different collection of Machen stories. It's an odd little twist of fate.

Um...well...I have gone on haven't I?

Inveterate,
Aunt Beast

* Then again, there's really nothing wrong with the word sad. Not intrinsically. The problem is people who use it childishly, habitually, with marked naïveté. Usually, these are people with a stunted world view.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Comment, kittens!

I can't remember the day we closed our World of Warcraft accounts. Must have been back in, I'm thinking, early May. So, about four and a half months ago, right after we did the Rift Beta and decided it was such a vastly better game. Anyway, I don't think too much about WoW these days. True, I have my Shaharrazad mousepad I must see...well, all day long. And the erotic dreams involving Sylvanas Windrunner, My Dark Lady. And all my action figures, and...okay, so I probably still think about WoW more than I think I think about WoW.

But, this morning I was thinking about WoW, and some of its really magnificent absurdities, and perhaps the greatest of all those are the Taurens. I was imagining a bunch of Blizzard geeks sitting around a table (cluttered with boxes of doughnuts, bottles of Mountain Dew, and whatnot), and they're sitting there thinking, "Okay, so, what about cow people? Hey, that would be cool, wouldn't it? I mean, think about it, dudes. Cow people. You know, like minotaurs?" And someone points out the problem with females and udders, and someone else says, no, no, don't worry about the udders, these cow people, the females have breasts. Also, it'll keep the furries pacified a while longer. Do you know what percentage of our demographic self-identifies as Otherkin?

"OH, and we need more ethnic diversity among the races of Azeroth," someone says, "because we keep getting these angry letters about the Rasta trolls (pause here as the 'think tank' devolves into a three-hour argument about pussy liberals and the merits of Libertarianism, and how orcs are green, and night elves are blue and purple and grey, and...), and it would be good PR if there were more ETHNICITY." "Wasn't that covered in the last company retreat?" asks someone. Sure, sure, says someone else, and hey, cows are sort of like bison, another interjects (here we pause for yet another to explain how bison are related to cows, and some cow nerd goes off on the domestication of cattle, the evolution of the modern cow from the aurochs, Bos primigenius). "Okay," says the guy who started all this. "So, cows are like bison, and Native Americans hunted bison, so...the culture of the cow people will be Native American culture. You know, all teepees, totem poles, peace pipes, dreamcatchers, and stuff, right? Oh, and, since they're like Indians, they'll say HOW, instead of hello!" There are cheers and self-congratulation all round, except for the cow nerd, who keeps trying to point out how Native Americans hunted members of the genus Bison, not the genus Bos, and that modern cows are not derived from Bison; he is roundly ignored).

Yes, it was probably just that stupid and offensive. And out of an entire planet of possible animals to pattern a new race on (let's set aside the issue of novelty; WoW finally figured that out with the space goats), from all the terran bestiary, Blizzard chose...cows.

---

Today, I am waiting to hear from TPTB how well Phase One was received, and where we go from here. Then, I'll proceed to the as-yet-unopened CEM of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Oh, and I should mention, my publisher's marketing gurus decided that "A Memoir" should not appear on the book's cover (or, it seems, on the Amazon page). Why? Because, then people might think it's nonfiction, and it would be shelved under biography. Yeah, I did that o.0 emoticon thing, but I didn't argue. Friends who've worked in bookstores assure me this really would happen. Um, okay. I truly do give humanity too much credit. I must take solace knowing that the title page will bear the novel's actual full title. Anyway, I'm not opening that "bubble envelope" containing the CEM until I know if Phase One nuked the launch site or not. I have until the 23rd to get the CEM back to NYC.

---

Also, you should read this entry by [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna. Because Amazon.com might have thought up the best way to steal from authors since the Great Google Books Rights Snatch of 2010 (or whenever). The rise of ebooks cannot be predicated on the perpetual fucking-over of authors.

---

Yesterday, when I was done with this, that, and the other, we took in a matinée of Soderbergh's Contagion, and we both loved it. It's bleak, artful, terrifying, beautiful, and I highly recommend it to all. I'm not going into details, because it would be too easy to drop spoilers. But don't dismiss it as some Irwin Allen or Roland Emmerich overblown schlock-fest. Because that's what it's not. It also isn't science fiction, but that's a discussion for another time.

---

Please have a look at the goodies in Spooky's Etsy shop (Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries), where there are two new necklaces - reasonably priced - and you must buy them, or you won't be allowed to read my next book. Honest Tauren.

---

Okay, please excuse me now. I'm going to listen to Neil read The Graveyard Book to me until I get that call from the NSA...I mean, um...that call from McDonalds. Oh, and good RP in Insilico last night. Thank you, Joah.

Not Bovine,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Okay. I am awake. No, really. Just ask the platypus inserting bamboo splinters beneath my toenails.

First, stuff from Friday:

I wrote 1,308 words of Chapter Six of Blood Oranges, in which a new troll – Otis – makes an appearance. I really do not know what to make of this strange, strange book. It is what it is.

Also on Friday, there was a Telephone Conversation of Great Importance, which I am not free to discuss (and let me tell you, these things I can't talk about are driving me fucking nuts).

I received a package from Stephen Lubold containing, among many other wonderful things, two Penguin Classics collections – Algernon Blackwood's Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories (and LJ can't spell the plural of sorcery) and Lord Dunsany's In the Land of Time and Other Fantasy Tales (both edited by S. T. Joshi) – and Denise Gess and William Lutz' Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, It's People, and the Deadliest Fire in American Hitsory (2002). I immediately began reading the latter, as the Peshtigo Firestorm (and associated fires on the night of October 8, 1871) have long been an obsession of mine, but I haven't read this book. So, thank you again, Stephen!

The package also included a copy of Huan Vu's (German, 2010) film Die Farbe, which I now know is the most faithful adaptation of HPL's "The Colour Out of Space" that anyone has made thus far. I did not even know of this film's existence. It moves the events of the story from New England to pre-WWII Germany – which works far better than it has a right to work – and the climax to WWII itself (which really doesn't work). That is, the narrator's story is cut in two, and framed by an American searching for his lost father. As strange as all this sounds, and despite what must have been an almost nonexistent budget, most of it works very well. The move to film in black and white was smart (I've always said I'd do "Colour" in b&w), with a very judicious use of a color effect, that was smart. The acting is decent, the casting good, the cinematography so-so, the SFX uneven, but sometimes very impressive. The sound was awful. I don't know if it was a bad transfer to the DVD, or trouble with sound editing. But...if you're a fan of HPL or the story, it should be seen. It is at least a one-hundred percent improvement over the two previous attempts at filming the story – the laughable Die, Monster, Die (1965) and the unspeakably laughable The Curse (1987).

Oh, I'm also adding a photograph of the "pregnant plesiosaur" to yesterday's entry, for posterity (because it's an amazing fossil, and sometimes links go poof). And thank you, [livejournal.com profile] corucia for sending me the full paper from Science.

---

And now...yesterday.

Whoa, David Bowie flashback. No, I'm better now.

More hookey. Inexcusable, I know. No, it truly is. But, and still, Spooky and I went to Moonstone, because how many more days of summer are left? Not many, that's how many. And it rained all June, and we didn't have a car in July, and...anyway, we went to Moonstone. The air temperature was around 80˚F and the water somewhere in the 60sF. I swam. A lot. I've regained so much strength so quickly that I'm sort of astounded. I floated and dove in deep green water. The sky above me was blue with the white brush stokes of cirrus clouds and contrails and with gulls. There is utter peace, only fifty yards offshore. There were virtually no swells, the water was so calm (except when some asshole in a motorboat roared past). The only slightly spooky moment was when I found myself in a riptide that moved me twenty or thirty feet south in just a few seconds. But I stayed calm, swam to the east, and was immediately out of the current. Back on shore, we saw another osprey fishing. Likely the same one we saw back on July 30th.

I so need an underwater camera.

As we were leaving, I spotted the blackened and sun-shriveled remains of a very young dolphin or porpoise – possibly a newborn calf. The dorsal fin had an orange plastic tag that had been attached by researchers from the Mystic Aquarium, and, oddly, what remained of the carcass was tied to a tiny raft made of driftwood. The aquarium's tag noted it had been dead when tagged...which could have been weeks ago, based on the degree of decomposition. The skull, flippers, and tail fluke were missing (not surprising, as these tend to be taken quickly by scavengers). I wanted to take the whole thing away with me for what was left of the skeleton (in excellent shape), but I took only a single anterior thoracic rib. Anyway, there are photographs from yesterday behind the cut:

13 August 2011 )


Also, some decent RP in Insilico last night, as Grendel enters the yakuza.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yeah, so. Somehow, we didn't wake up until almost one o'clock today. I swear to dog. This is what happens when I'm not broke and desperate. I get lazy. I relax. I let things slide. I oversleep. It's fucking stupid. There's an unspeakable amount of work to be done, and I'm suddenly going all juvenile delinquent on myself.

We even played hookey yesterday! Bad kids!

I've wolfed down breakfast, and am trying to, as they say, marshal my thoughts. Likely, that won't be possible until about two hours from now. I have this fantasy of being awake by 11 ayem every morning, but this is what's happening, instead.

FIRST! To quote [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy, "Sweet barking cheese, it's launched!" That is, the Kickstarter page for The Drowning Girl: Stills from a Film That Never Existed. The page is pretty much self-explanatory. This is going to be so cool. It already is cool. Thank you, Kyle!

On Tuesday I only wrote 608 words on Blood Oranges, but that's all that was required to reach the end of Chapter Five. And I might have gone straight into Chapter Six yesterday, but I didn't really know "what happens next" (in the parlance of the Idiot Gods of Plot) until about 2 ayem this morning. Today, I'll begin Chapter Six. Though there is a great deal of "action" in this novel, I am doing everything possible to sabotage every semblance of action. Yes, on purpose; it distracts.

I also need to send the proofread .rtf of The Yellow Alphabet to Subterranean Press (it will be the chapbook to accompany Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart). And...other stuff.

Yesterday evening, I previewed the new website for Sirenia Digest, which was created over the past several months by [livejournal.com profile] jacobluest. He has done a wonderful job. Anyway, eventually the pages will be relocated at my own website, but, technically, the site is live and functional as it stands. We're hoping for a few new subscribers. Certainly can't say we're not fishing with a pretty lure (and this does give people a clear indication of what the digest is about).

---

So, yeah. Yesterday there was hookey. Spooky's been wanting to see Rupert Wyatt's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Personally, I've never had much interest in the "franchise" (*shudder...sorry, I loathe reducing films, books, whatever to "franchises"), though I was taken to see the original version of Planet of the Apes in April 1968. At a drive-in. I wasn't even four years old! Anyway...Wyatt's film is actually terrific, and cleans up after Tim Burton's 2001 fiasco. Hell, the film's worth ticket price for the scene on the Golden Gate Bridge alone. The one very notable flaw is the human actors. As in, they don't. Act. I'm seeing this a lot in live-action films wherein the most important characters are created via CGI motion capture. It's as though the director just can't be bothered to direct anyone else, he's so freaked at getting his paws on all this tech. Sure, Andy Serkis does marvelous things – as always – but James Franco is about as interesting as a bowl of cold oatmeal. John Lithgow is the only "human" actor who rises to the occasion (Tom Felton included). So, yes. I do recommend the film. Spooky cried a lot. It's that sort of film. It's triggery!

Oh, and after the movie we stopped at Target for a new tea kettle. And at Newbury Comics, where Spooky bought me the remastered special two-disc edition of R.E.M.'s Life's Rich Pageant (1986) as a belated birthday gift. Now, I have to find one for her.

Oh, and Tuesday, I read "New poraspids (Agnatha, Heterostraci) from the Devonian of the western United States" and "Evidence for sexual dimorphism in the stegosaurian dinosaur Kentrosaurus aethiopicus from the Upper Jurassic of Tanzania," both in the May JVP. Time for July.

And time to get to fucking work! Comment, kittens! I'll be here all damn day.

Belatedly,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Eli1)
Yesterday, I wrote 1,397 words on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges. I also reached page 200 of the manuscript. The revision of my revised schedule puts me finishing the novel sometime between August 31 and September 3, if I can write at least 1,150 words per day. Oh, and I'd love to hear thoughts on Chapter Two from those who've had time to read Sirenia Digest #68.

It's raining today. The rain began last night. It'll be a little warmer tomorrow, but the rain will become thunderstorms.

I'm running so very, very late. There were many things I was going to discuss in this entry that are going to have to wait, if I want to get anything written today. And I kinda, sorta have to get something written today.

Last night, we watched Christopher Smith's Black Death (2010), and wow, this is the film that Season of the Witch tried to be and pretty much failed utterly. And it's a surprisingly complex film. On the surface, Black Death seems to be only another entry in the recent resurgence of the fear-of-pagans genre of film. And it would be easy to walk away from this film with the impression that it's pro-Christian and anti-pagan. But...it's only easy to do that if you don't stop to think about what's actually being said. A lot of this stuff isn't even subtle. It's a film about how power is wielded through belief systems, about fear and obsession and love. About exploiting ignorance and superstition. About egotism. And in the end, the Church, the "witch" Langiva, the monk Osmund – none of these are portrayed as virtuous. All are victims, and all create victims of their own. All are hungry for one thing or another, and all, ultimately, are rapacious in their quest to have this thing, be it power or revenge or whatever. The film does present "good" men and women who mostly exist beyond the boundaries of this power struggle – Wolfstan, Averill, and so forth. But even they are not genuinely innocent. Because the film tries hard to be a true film, and this world is all but devoid of innocent human beings. Black Death is a film about people who try to do good – Ulrich and Langiva are both trying to protect "their" people from the plague, but both are deeply flawed. Anyway, yes. Good movie. See it. Right now it can be streamed from Netflix.

And I must go meet the Word Monster.

Jousting,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (CatvonD vamp)
Because I very much want people to see this movie:

greygirlbeast: (white2)
Perhaps we've entered the cool descent to autumn. It's too early yet to tell, but the highs have dropped into the upper 70sF. Cloudy today.

Yesterday was entirely consumed by email and putting together the text for the Kickstarter project to help fund the trailer/photo shoot for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. And I think this is only happening because [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy did the number crunching. I certainty don't have the patience for it at the moment.

I'm hoping that Sirenia Digest #68 will go out before midnight. I just need to get Vince's illustration for "The Granting Cabinet" and have the whole thing PDF'd.

I think my triggerpunk proposal went over well yesterday. The only potential problem I foresee are readers who think they're buying books about guns. Because, you know. Readers think things. But consumers...consumers think the worst things of all, much worse than the things readers think. I have often marveled that people who are comfortable being called consumers (or who so name themselves) are able to think at all.

Oh, and may I just say: Anne Hathaway as Catwoman? Mrrroow....

---

Last night we saw Jim Mickle's Stake Land (2010), and as it was yet another entry in the parade of post-apocalyptic vampire films, I went in with lower than zero expectations. And...surprise. It's, I shit you not, fucking brilliant. Imagine The Road crossed with I Am Legend, and that's not right, and sort of demeaning (reducing everything to the Hollywood pitch), but it puts you in the neighborhood. The vampires are terrifying, but Mickle presents an Aryan Christian doomsday cult as an even greater threat, and his cinematographers use the landscape through which the characters wander to create the most quietly terrible menace of all. It is, in fact, a marvelously quiet film, punctuated by sudden bursts of violence. Very good film score. The vampires are the absolute antithesis of the "sparkly" foolishness. For that matter, they're the antithesis of any image of the vampire as a romantic figure. This film highlights the very thin line between vampires and zombies. Remember, kittens: George Romero was inspired to make Night of the Living Dead (1968) by Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, a novel about a vampire plague, not a zombie plague. Actually, Romero said "I had written a short story, which I basically had ripped off from a Richard Matheson novel...", and "I couldn't use vampires because he did."

Anyway, with Night of the Living Dead, Matheson reinvented the zombie, just as writers like Anne Rice would go on to reinvent the vampire. In Stake Land, Mickle yanks vampires violently, splendidly, with beautiful horror, back towards their roots. And if anyone dare complain this feels more like a zombie movie, that's only because they've never read I Am Legend and/or don't know of the origin of Night of the Living Dead. Truly, Stake Land is the first vampire movie in a long time*** that made me a little less ashamed of my fascination (nigh unto fetish) for bloodsuckers. But, a caveat: if you're the sort whose put off by artistic triggerpunk – and we are talking major fucking "triggery" shit here – then you may want to sit this one out. Stake Land is art, and it is beauty, and it is hideous, and it is trauma. It's despair, almost, almost eclipsing any hope. Unless you can simultaneously embrace all these things, it's not a film for you. But I fucking loved it.

So come to me.
Come to me now.
Lay your arms around me.
And this is why,
This is why,
We fight.
Come Hell.
Come Hell.
Come Hell.
Come Hell.
–– The Decemberists

Needing Red Bull,
Aunt Beast

*** The last, of course, was Tomas Alfredson's Låt den rätte komma in (2008).
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Better late than never. Well, that's always been a dubious adage, but whatever.

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

---

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

Up to Here,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Er...okay. LiveJournal seems, at the moment, to actually be live. Oh, and by the way, as I expounded on Twitter yesterday (good girls wander when the necessity arises), it's utterly boneheaded to be blaming LJ for this, when the DDOS attacks are the result of hackers almost certainly backed with funds from the Russian government. Of course, things could be worse. Six Apart could have licensed LJ to North Korea...

Anyway, I got some good news this morning, and I'm going to try as best I can to not indulge in the sort of morose rage that has been so in evidence in the last couple of entries. This is a little like putting a Band-Aid on an amputated leg, but I'm trying.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,711 words on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges. I seem to have found the book's rhythm again, and I'm feeling much better about it. Much, much better. I hope to have this chapter finished by Tuesday, August 2nd, at which point I have to immediately jump back into Sirenia Digest mode, in order to get #68, out by the evening of August 5th. Then, I'll be switching right back to Blood Oranges, and have set a new target date for finishing the novel on Saturday, the 27th of August. At this point, 39,202 words (or 179 pages) of manuscript have been written; since the estimated total word count is 70,000 words, I'm well past the hump and headed down the other side. Which I should, indeed, be able to reach by the 27th. And then...well, then there's the next thing, which, sooner or later, I'll be able to announce.

I'm salvaging the plan.

The weather here in Providence remains mild. Highs around 80˚F, which is a great relief after the swelter of last week. We could use more rain, though.

Last night, Spooky and I watched Gore Verbinski's Rango (2011). And wow. Truly, there was no moment of this film I didn't love. Without a doubt, this is the most beautiful CGI animation I've ever seen. Every frame is marvelous. But let's pretend, for a moment, that the animation was lousy (even if it was brilliant). This film would still be so unexpectedly funny and smart I'd still give it very, very high marks. It's sort of hard to even imagine it as a children's film, as most of the humor is clearly pitched at adults. Then again, as a friend suggested, Rango can be viewed as the sort of trick turned by so many of the classic Loony Toons: animated films functioning on at least two entirely different levels, managing, in the same moment, to speak to both children and adults, saying different things with the same words. Think "What's Opera, Doc." Only in a desert, with lizards and rodents. And with Los Lobos, instead of Wagner. Regardless, yes, great. See it.

Oh, the van's out of the shop. Again. It was in the shop almost every day of July (beginning July 5th). Also, things have been chugging along well in Rift, as our guild recovers from the shard transfer and the RP picks up again.

Cracking My Knuckles,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Oh my fucking dogs. We didn't get to sleep until 4:30 ayem, then woke at 10 ayem. I woke from a hellish dream (thank you, both of you, you who know who you are, you and that fucking day in October 2005) into the mouth of an overheated water buffalo. More on that shortly. The overheated water buffalo, not the hellish dream or heat-induced sleep deprivation. Our heat index is already 97˚F.

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

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

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

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

---

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

---

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

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

---

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

John Carter:



The Thing:



---

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

I have no tribe.

Okay...gotta try to be productive.

Hotter Than Hot,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (sol)
The heat inside the house has become almost unendurable. This is not a melodramatic affectation. It genuinely is that hot. Spooky just showed me a map of the country, and I see that much of it is gripped by a heatwave. So, we're going to try to find a cooler place to wait for nightfall.

But a few things first.

My grateful thanks for all the comments yesterday. They're much appreciated.

Several of you suggested I write the entries each day, then post them when I get back. This doesn't work. For one, to keep the promise I made to myself, the entries have to be made on the day they were written, otherwise there will be no entries on those dates. This suggestion would sort of work if LJ would let you backdate entries, but it won't. I'll have no blank spots on the archives calendar. But thanks for the suggestion, regardless.

Also, I'm very glad 1990 was good to some of you, but I don't see where pointing that out to me is in any way productive or considerate.

At this moment I find myself "debt poor." When I was a kid, we'd talk about people being "land poor." That is, they owned a lot of land, but had virtually no income, and couldn't afford to live, much less pay land tax. I'm not "land poor," I'm "debt poor." About half a dozen publishers owe me money, collectively totaling thousands of dollars, and the checks are mostly delinquent. Ergo, "debt poor." NOTE: Subterranean Press is not one of these. They pay me on time. Anyway, I suspect this is true of many freelancers. Increasingly, it seems that publishers feel they can pay authors whenever they finally get around to it, after books have been printed and sold. Oh, and anthology editors are often in the same boat as us freelancers. Until they're paid, we can't be paid. And we are all at the bottom of the food chain, so far as many publishers are concerned. Recall, any food chain collapses if it's bottom (say, zooplankton) collapses. Anyway, not gonna name names, but to quote Malcolm Reynolds (ever quotable Mal), "We're close to gone out here."

Oh, hello acid reflux!

Last night, we finished Season Two of Criminal Intent. We were too hot to move, so we also watched Philip Kaufman's Twisted (2004), which was dull and shot like bad television. This is especially sad, given this is the director who brought us the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1979), as well as The Right Stuff (1983), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), Henry and June (1990), and the brilliant Quills (2000). Anyway, afterwards, we watched Jennifer Lynch's Surveillance (2008), which I will, unreservedly, call terrific. The most wonderful film of it's sort since Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects (2005). Trust me. See it. Oh, be warned, it's mighty darn "triggery."

I have declared war on the putrescent neologism "triggery" and all those simpering shits who whine about anything being "triggery" and how they go on about it being the responsibility of OTHERS to protect them from that which they subjectively deem "triggery." I say to them, "Fuck you. Take some responsibility for yourselves, or fuck off." And as I've said, I say this as someone currently on meds for PTSD.

Yesterday afternoon, I finally passed out on the chaise in the middle parlor, which was only hot, and slept for an hour and a half, comforted by the desperate whir of the sadly ineffectual Dr. Muñoz. We all remember how "Cool Air" ends, right? (A hint: it's "triggery.")
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Running very, very late today. First, insomnia last night, and then I "overslept" (that is, fell asleep at five, awakened by a honking car at ten thirty, awake again at eleven thirty, so maybe six hours of sleep), and woke to email of the stress-me-out-first-thing-in-the-day variety. So, yeah. Quick entry.

Yesterday, I took half the day off. Having finished Chapter Three of Blood Oranges on Monday, I figured I deserved it. So, Spooky and I went to a 1:40 matinée of J.J. Abrams' Super 8. And I say, without reservation, this is the best movie I've seen this year. It's a rollicking fusion of The Goonies (1985) and Cloverfield (2008), and it's unreservedly marvelous. Abrams nails 1979 with a deft, but not precious, accuracy. I love when I have no complaints about a film, when all I can do is say, "I fucking loved this," and all I can say is "I fucking loved Super 8."

Back home, the half of the day that was a day off ended, and work resumed. We read through the first three chapters of Blood Oranges (127 pages, 28,035 words) – for typos and continuity and anything else that might be off. It works, I say with great relief. The voice (the hardest I've ever had to sustain) is the same throughout. Anyway, the book is somewhere between 42,000 and 48,000 words from THE END, and I'm right on schedule. We finished up about nine p.m. Today, I begin Chapter Four (of a projected eight chapters).

Also, we splurged and had Kentucky Fried Chicken (no, not fuckin' KFC) for dinner, which was as disgustingly delicious as I remembered. First time we've had any sort of fried chicken since coming to Rhode Island.

Round 2 of the Big Damn eBay Sale has begun. Please have a look. You also must see this, as you will see nothing more beautiful today.

Okay...if I'm forgetting anything it can wait until later. Hold on! Is that sunshine?!
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
The tree outside my office window is finally greening.

It's Saturday, and I'm locked inside. Please comment.

And this is one of the days when I chafe at the tyranny of my pill bottles and boxes. I'd like to open the window and drop them out. Fuck you, defective brain chemistry. Let the pieces fall where they may, but at least they'd be my pieces. Not a pharmaceutical hybrid always telling me that's my face in the mirror, when I know better.

Fuck you, 47.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,599 words on Chapter One of Blood Oranges. My plan is to have the first chapter finished by Wednesday, and then set the book aside until September. Which is, I know, a weird way to write a book, but another book needs to be written in between. And maybe when I come back to Blood Oranges at the end of the summer, I'll have figured out everything that happens after Chapter One.

---

I've made it almost all the way through the latest JVP, articles on Cenomanian squamates in France, the skull of the Early Triassic parareptile Sauropareion, saber-toothed cats from the Pleistocene of Venezuela, the therapsid Promoschorynchus, and a new Lower Carboniferous xenacanthiform shark from Australia.

---

Night before last, we watched Tony Scott's Unstoppable (2010), which is the other movie about trouble with trains he made, immediately after having done the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009). Both, of course, star Denzel Washington. Anyway, Unstoppable is good, and Washington is always a joy to watch. But, Chris Pine is dull as engine sludge, and it's a different sort of film than The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. As much as I enjoyed Unstoppable, I found myself wishing for the electricity that had sparked back and forth between that film's antagonist and protagonist. But the presence of Rosario Dawson (who played Abernathy in Death Proof) helped.

Last night, we watched two "horror" movies. The first was an entirely enjoyable and stupendously ridiculous Joel Schumacher film, Blood Creek (2009). Rednecks in Virginia fight a zombie demon Nazi occultist in a big scary house where time has stood still since 1940. And there's a zombie horse that, honest to fuck, is one of the scariest things I've seen in ages. I expected nothing from this film, and liked it a lot. It's much more artful than it has any right to be. See it.

We also watched Kevin Costner in Luis Berdejo's The New Daughter, which is very remotely based on a short story by John Connolly. All that said, it really isn't very good, which should surprise no one, as Kevin Costner hasn't, to my knowledge, been in a good movie since 1993 (A Perfect World, directed by Clint Eastwood). However, the sad thing is, The New Daughter has a lot of isolated effective moments, and it could have been brilliant. But the pacing's off, the film's about half an hour too long, is filled with actors who can't act, and feels like it wants to be a television mini-series. In fact, the uninspired cinematography absolutely screams old-school network TV mini-series. Essentially, it's a fairytale. More specifically, a changeling story and an animal groom story. But it fails to mine the riches of that fictional territory (if, indeed, the film is even that aware of it's fundamental nature). The archetypes and opportunities are left to die on the vine while Kevin Costner flails about and pouts and fails at being a single helicopter parent. A bright spot, however, is Ivana Baquero (Pan's Labyrinth), who makes the best of a bad situation and rocks the fuck out of what little she's given to work with. The film's final shot might have been brilliant, but it gets mucked up by ham-fisted "horror" clichés. See this one if you're bored, or enjoy picking apart bad films that ought to have been better.

---

You know, I really do love Rift. In terms of a fantasy MMORPG, it's the best there's ever been. It's beautiful to look at, usually fun to play, and all that. It's even queer friendly. But the more I play, and the more the shiny wears off, the more I see how much better and smarter it ought to be. Look, here's the thing. I've said it before. Trion, are you listening?

Writer's work cheap.

Especially fantasy writers. We very often do our best work for a few pennies a word. It's obscene, but true. And it's entirely relevant here, Trion, because you didn't have to do this wrong. The plot holes, almost complete lack of internal logical integrity, faulty world-building, and so on and so forth, all that stuff could have been avoided. And you wouldn't have to be posting what is essentially poorly written fan fic to your website, mucking things up even more. You could have done this right, Trion, and either you were ignorant of that fact, or you just didn't give a shit. But it's not about money. Because, like I said (REPEAT AFTER ME), writers work cheap. And even moderately incompetent hacks who never aspired to write anything more ambitious than a twelve-volume epic – following the adventures of a Drow anti-hero with a name that makes me laugh – can do better.

This is my message to the whole goddamn world right now: You can do better. Yes, you can. And if you know this, and you continue on about your sloppy, lazy, half-assed ways, well...people will love you and shower you with riches and you'll win awards. Because this is the way the world works.

But some days it makes me more nauseous than others.

---

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

Venting Spleen,
Aunt Beast

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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