greygirlbeast: (Martha Jones)
Er...yeah. I just wasted half an hour searching for a Martha Jones icon. It's what I do. Well, it's the sort of thing I do. Sometimes. Like this morning.

Yesterday, was a bit like the day before yesterday, only less so. Still mostly the busyness of writing, and too much email, but not as much too much email, and with the added burden of waiting. Few things in the world are as evil as waiting. I'm pretty sure that there's a whole level of Dante's Unabridged Inferno (to be published in 2019) where the damned suffer an eternity of...waiting. Nothing else. Just waiting. Yesterday, the waiting mostly involved Alabaster, and deadlines, and the impending vacation. Oh, and I went through the thirty-second "teaser" trailer for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, literally frame by frame, then sent a few notes to Brian Siano. He's doing the final editing this weekend. It's almost perfect.

Then, just after dark, Harlan called to thank me for sending him a copy Two Worlds and In Between (he'd called and asked for one), and he went on and on about how much he loved Lee's cover. Which is cool, because I was inspired to go in that direction by several of Harlan's covers which incorporate him as an element of a fantastic scene (see The Essential Ellison, for example). And then he read me the first part of "Rats Live On No Evil Star," and...well, these are the moments writers live for, aren't they? When our literary progenitors, those without whom we would not be, speak our own words back to us, words they helped, without intention, to fashion? Yes, I think these are those moments. Anyway, Harlan was generous and sweet and funny, as always.

---

Demons run when a good man goes to war.
Night will fall and drown the sun,
When a good man goes to war.

Friendship dies and true love lies,
Night will fall and the dark will rise,
When a good man goes to war.

Demons run, but count the cost:
The battle's won, but the child is lost.
~ River Song

Which is to say we watched two more episodes of Doctor Who last night, two more from Series Six: "A Good Man Goes to War" and "Let's Kill Hitler." And I will just say that, wow, "A Good Man Goes to War" redeems Series Six and back again. Damn, that was some good Who. And, as [livejournal.com profile] ashlyme predicted yesterday, I truly am enamored with Madam Vastra and Jenny. But some actual Victorian lesbian lizard-on-human action, please. Unmistakable innuendo is nice and all, but full on...um...I'm losing my train of thought. It is an excellent, excellent episode, as is "Let's Kill Hitler." There might yet be hope for Matt Smith (but not for Rory, who is only Xander recycled).

Also, more Rift last night (as per usual), leveling (Indus to 37) in the Moonshade Highlands. Later, I read a very, very good story, Angela Slatter's The Coffin-Maker's Daughter. I'd never read Slatter, but the story was very good, and was, indeed, about a coffin-maker's daughter, Hepsibah, who was herself a maker of coffins, and also a lesbian. What's not to like? Oh, plus Slatter was inspired by two Florence + the Machine songs, "My Boy Builds Coffins" and "Girl With One Eye." Then I read a new Stephen King story, "The Little Green God of Agony." As I've said, I don't care much for King, but I liked the title. And the story has a certain strength, and wasn't bad, if only the ending hadn't veered off into such clichéd creep-show horrors. If your stories fall apart when the monster appears on stage, stop writing about monsters. I drifted off to sleep sometime after four ayem, watching Frank Borzage's 1932 adaptation of A Farewell to Arms, which really is better than Charles Vidor's 1957 version, and not just because Gary Cooper is cooler than Rock Hudson.

Also, because I was admonished in yesterday's comments by [livejournal.com profile] mizliz13 for using the recently overused and perverted adjective awesome, and admonished rightly so, from here on I shall use "bow tie" in its stead.

---

Today is an assembly day. I must pull Sirenia Digest #72 together, and try to get it out before midnight (CaST). By the way, "Question @ Hand #5" will be the last "Question @ Hand." Indeed, I've half a mind not to run it, but that would be a sleight to the few people who did write pieces (and the one who wrote two!). I think that the decline in replies (#1 had over 30, about a year and a half ago; #5 had 10 responses) is further evidence of the dramatic changes here on LJ.

And now, the platypus.

Don't Get Cocky, Kid,
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: (HelloSquid)
Okay, so this is not an actual entry-type-entry. I'm making this now because of my oath to make at least one entry every day for six months. And as the hacker buddies of the Kremlin have been so busy, again, launching DDOS attacks against LJ, I'm taking advantage of this window of opportunity.

Just glad we're not trying to do eBay at the moment.

Now, Spooky and I are going to watch Rango, because lizards, like bow ties, are cool.
greygirlbeast: (chi (intimate distance))
Yesterday, by some miracle (I don't actually believe in "miracles," sensu loaves and fishes, etc., so what I actually mean is by some statistically improbable, but not impossible, turn of events), I wrote a measly 869 words, and finished the preface for The Red Tree. The preface is written by the fictional editor who has come into the possession of Sarah Crowe's manuscript. The editor is strangely fond of footnotes, some of which are rather pedantic. Today, no writing, but, instead, Spooky and I will read back over what I've written of Chapter One to be sure it jibes with the preface. Already, I've caught one inconsistency. In Chapter One, the "red tree" grows on "the Old Jenks place," but in the preface, it grows on the "Battey Farm." I'll be going with the latter.

My thanks for the many comments and emails yesterday, though, of course, that's not why I said the things I said. I wasn't fishing for pep talks. And all the attention and well wishes in the world cannot change what I know to be true. I cannot go any easier on myself. Indeed, I am not going hard enough on myself. It's a goddamn hardscrabble life, pimping the playtpus, selling my dreams, growing corn on bare stone, making all these blasted words. It's not likely to ever get any easier. There is no retirement plan. There are only the words, from here until The End. One reason I am so reluctant to describe these times when it goes from bad to worse is simply because I have this inherent fear of being seen as weak, or whiny, or whatever. But I also loathe not telling the truth. Anyway, yes, thank you for the sentiments, because it's good to know someone cares, but nothing changes. Not unless the big space rock comes tomorrow, or Panthalassa rises up to stomp us all flat with tsunami paws.

I re-read Salman Rushdie's introduction to Angela Carter's Burning Your Boats yesterday, and he writes:
"...but the best of her, I think, is in her stories. Sometimes, at novel length, the distinctive Carter voice, those smoky, opium-eater's cadences interrupted by harsh or comic discords, that moonstone-and-rhinestone mix of opulence and flim-flam, can be exhausting. In her stories, she can dazzle and swoop, and quit while she's ahead."

And I think I know exactly what he means, for so often have I wished that I could make a living writing only short fiction. I do it ever so much better than novels, with their absurdly drawn-out plots and contrived twists and turns. I have never written a novel even half as good as my best short story, but, in the end, this is about the pay check. Of course, I should also note, to be fair, that Rushdie adores Carter's novels, and bemoans the werewolf novel she never wrote. It's just, as an author, I think the short story is the better form, and poetry better still. Distillation, as it were. Less usually is more.

What else to yesterday? I re-read "A new aigialosaur (Squamata; Anguimorpha) with soft tissue remains from the Upper Cretaceous of Nuevo León, Mexico" in the March 2008 JVP. We live in age of riches, when it comes to the discovery of basal mosasauroid lizards — Dallasurus, Hassiophis, Tethysaurus, Haasisaurus, Judeasaurus, et al., and now Vallecillosaurus. Anyway, I packed many boxes of books. My office is looking bare. Spooky has been craving Tom Baker, so we watched the four-part old-school Doctor Who, "The Hand of Fear" (1976). Mostly, Baker's Who is just too hokey for my tastes, and I find Sarah Jane unbearable. But I like that steampunky old TARDIS, and Eldrad was a pretty cool alien. Christopher Eccleston will always be my Doctor, and David Tenant's not so bad, either. After four eps of Doctor Who, I wandered into SL for a rather nice rp with Omega and Pontifex. I was in bed by 2:30 ayem, I think. Seven hours sleep. That was yesterday, pretty much. Oh, very fine thunderstorm last night, late. I sat here at my desk, the window open, trying to hear the thunder over the Xtians who were wailing and hooting (at 11:30 p.m.!) like they were trying to summon Great Cthulhu. Beautiful lightning. I feel asleep to the rain.

Ah, and a screencap from SL, another one that may put some readers in mind of "Flotsam." These days, Nareth sleeps beneath that old tanker:

Nareth in the sea )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Maybe six hours sleep last night. And this morning, which is actually well into afternoon, I cannot concentrate, and I cannot focus.

Yesterday, I did 1,330 words and finished "In the Dreamtime of Lady Resurrection" for Sirenia Digest #20. The story comes in at 3,643 words, which may seem short, considering all the trouble I've been having lately keeping anything under 6,000 words. But it is the length that it needs to be, no more and no less. Today, well, I do not know what today will be. In a sane world, there would be time to catch my breath.

I meant to mention the other day and forgot, the Beowulf novelization includes an introduction by Neil. Also, it can now be pre-ordered from Amazon.com.

As expected, the page proofs for the mass-market papberback of Silk arrived yesterday. I have not yet opened the envelope, and will delay that moment as long as I possibly may.

My thanks for all the comments to last night's entry. I wish I were up to individual responses. Also, if you have a moment, please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thank you.

Yesterday, a large male Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) visited Spooky while she was finishing up the latest owl doll. There was a noise, and she looked up to find it staring in at her. Though I grew up with anoles, they seem rare here in Atlanta, and this is the first one we've seen here in five years. She got her camera and went out to get photos, three of which are behind the cut:

a scaly visitor )


Maybe 8 inches long. freshly shed, and carrying the scars of many battles, this old guy was convinced his reflection was another male anole, and he must have spent more than an hour making threat/territorial displays at the glass. The bright pink dewlap is prominent in two of the photos.

Later, after dark, we had a walk down Sinclair Avenue, and that was nice. The night ended with the final episode of Season 1 of Deadwood, "Sold Under Sin." This episode is possibly the best hour of television I have ever seen, and I continue to be confounded that the series was canceled, for no other clear reason than that HBO wanted David Milch working on a different series, one that would be cheaper to produce. There seems to be some doubt as to whether or not the two Deadwood films will ever be made, the ones that are supposed to finish up the story. I don't know if I have the heart to watch seasons 2 and 3 again knowing that. Anyway, I spent most of the evening laying the foundation for the Palaeozoic Museum in Second Life. We now have a floor, and it's mostly even. Oh, and I planted three dogwood trees. Babbage is a wonderful place, but it sorely needs more trees.
greygirlbeast: (chi6)
Paleontologists who don't specialize in dinosaurs or hominins have long since learned that, so far as the popular press is concerned, new discoveries rarely get much, if anything, in the way of media coverage. It isn't surprising, therefore, that the lay impression of prehistoric life and evolution generally involves that which is either titanic and scaly or somewhat furry and humanoid. Witness, for example, the recent attention received by new dinosaurs such as Erketu, Mapusaurus, Guanlong, and Juravenator. Likewise, the new hominins Homo floresiensis and Sahelanthropus tchadensis. Exceptions generally involve taxa which can be touted as dramatic "missing links" or examples of macroevolution and be used as fodder in the supposed evolution/creation "controversy."

And since such creatures make up only a tiny fraction of new fossil taxa described, most everything gets overlooked. For example, the truly wonderful lizard Bahndwivici ammoskius from the Eocene Green River Formation of Wyoming. The cover of the new issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology went to the baby Triceratops, which truly is a wonderful thing, but no less wondrous is this 20-25 cm. lizard:


FMNH PR 2260, the holotype of Bahndwivici ammoskius. I accidentally cropped the end of the tail when I scanned the image.


One of the most exciting things about this remarkable fossil is that it's almost indistinguishable from the semi-aquatic present-day Chinese crocodile lizard, Shinisaurus crocodilurus. Jack Conrad, who describes Bahndwivici in the new JVP, writes that "Bahndwivici and Shinisaurus share morphological details in nearly every aspect of their known osteologies, despite being separated by more than 48 million years of time and living on separate continents. This is a remarkable degree of stasis within a clade." Indeed.

Conrad also states, in a particularly cogent and honest bit of scientific writing:

Generic separation of any two morphologically similar taxa is a sticky undertaking and the current case is no exception. Taxonomy is a tool for discussing clades of organisms, a tool that will be used differently by different systematists. Shinisaurus and FMNH PR 2260 are similar in all known aspects of their osteology [skeletons]. The differences...are morphological features that may be used to identify and distinguish the two taxa. Geographic and temporal distance further help to separate these species and to justify their separation at the generic level. In the end, however, some researchers are likely to refer to both these shinisaurids as Shinisaurus and others will adopt the recommendation of generic distinctiveness given here.

Oh, here's a shot of a modern-day Chinese crocodile lizard:



By the way, the genus name of this new fossil lizard comes from Latinization of the Shoshoni Bah-n-dooi-vee-chee, or "handsome in the water." The species name is derived from two Greek words, Ammos ("sandy") and skia ("shade"). Hopefully, I have bored none of you to excess. It's just that sometimes I get very, very excited about these things. These stones and bones, this grand continuity of life, are my most reliable medicine against the black-and-white monotony of words...

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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