greygirlbeast: (twilek1)
Comment today, kittens. It'll help.

Three years ago, on December 24th, I wrote these lines:

"Last night, as I tried to find sleep, Spooky and I talked about having a farm. I would give up writing, I said, except for those things I wanted passionately to write, and we would have goats and chickens and an old horse and sheep and bees and rabbits. Orchards of apples and blueberry bushes behind fieldstone walls. We would have an enormous garden. It would be hard, hard work, but we would be as self sufficient as anyone can hope to be in this odd millennium. We'd only need to buy grain and sugar and coffee and such. We'd have a windmill for electricity, and a well. It was a pretty dream, no matter how impossible, to have before sleep and the inevitable nightmares, a dream of dirty hands and sweat and not sitting in this chair every goddamn day, worrying about sales figures."

Three years later, I still resurrect the daydream, now and again. Or Kathryn will. It's not dead.

---

Last night, [livejournal.com profile] mizliz (in response to my second entry yesterday), expressed her confusion over the meaning (to use the word loosely) of Z'omglol. Not wanting to dig too deeply into the politics and semantics of the more asinine denizens of MMORPGs – which would be, depending on the game, 75%-90% of the players – I'll toss out the quick answer, cribbed from that most tiresome of sources, the "Urban Dictionary." To wit:

zOMG is a varient of the all-too-popular acronym 'OMG,' meaning 'Oh My God'. The 'z' was originally a mistake while attempting to hit the shift key with the left hand, and type 'OMG.' Also used in all-caps, 'ZOMG' is generally used in a sarcastic manner, more often than not a humiliating fasion [sic]. It is also used as a device for stating the obvious.

Which is to say, in gaming, it shows up in the "too cool for school" crowd, the faux rebels who believe themselves so above it all (especially the concept of RP) that they choose these ironic names. Even though, for the most part, they couldn't define irony if their weaselly little existences depended on it. Because, you know. When there's no room in hell the dead will walk the earth. You're welcome, kittens.

---

Yesterday, though. I am neglecting yesterday. We'd planned to watch the original Star Wars trilogy, but got started too late and only made it through Star Wars (that would be – ahem – "Episode IV: A New Hope") before dinner (leftover meatloaf with Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes, Precious). I saw Star Wars when it was first released in theatres back in 1977, thirty-four years ago. I was in eighth grade. And I thought Star Wars was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. Until The Empire Strikes Back came along in 1980, a film I loved so much I saw it twenty times in theatres that summer. Looking back at Star Wars (1977) yesterday, it seemed astoundingly quaint. I know that there was an intentional innocence that Lucas was trying to capture, but the quaintness goes far beyond that. And, too, the acting is often terribly wooden, a fact I blame on Lucas, who simply is incapable of good direction. One reason that The Empire Strikes Back is so much better than its predecessor is that the directing reins were passed to Irvin Kershner. Anyway...playing the SW:otR MMORPG, I wanted to revisit. And it was...odd.

I can also say that I have settled on a title for the second "best of" volume (which will not be out until 2014, so please don't ask ridiculous questions about pre-orders). I'm liking Weave a Circle Round Her Thrice: The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan (Volume 2).

Also, I read Wilum Pugmire's rather enchanting "The Fungal Stain." And then, having managed to get into bed before two-thirty a.m. (!), I proceeded to watch an amazingly creepy film, Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton's Yellowbrickroad (2010). I know that critics pretty much brushed this one aside, but by the time it ended (about four-thirty a.m.) I was so disturbed I had to switch the light on to get to sleep. I find no shame in admitting such a thing. Yellowbrickroad is clearly very heavily influenced by both House of Leaves and The Blair Witch Project (and were I not writing this, I'd say The Red Tree). It is one of those stories about a Wrong Place. Or...well...the less said the better. It's a slow burn, quiet with sudden moments of horror, whispered impossibilities, and a marvelously surreal ending. The ending (and pacing) are likely why so much of the slasher crowd couldn't wrap their brains around this film. Anyway, this is my recommendation. See it (it's streaming free from Netflix).

And I should go. Because, even though this is my vacation, I have work to do. January is beginning to look like the worst train wreck in history.

Quasi-Vacating,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Jayne Dork)
In SW:toR we're on a strictly RP (not even RP/PVE) server, and most names are appropriate, and people RP. But, here and there, you spot the morons. Because they want to be spotted. They fashion themselves rebels and wits. Anyway, from last night, the "name," spotted by Spooky, Z'omglol.

The idiot was gone before I could even tell him what a fucking idiot he was.
greygirlbeast: (twilek1)
Skimp on one journal entry, everything piles up. Outside it's very cold. Well, very cold if you're me. 43˚F, and the low tonight will be 22˚F (-5.5 C). This might come out all higgledy piggledy (double dactyl!), but at least it will be a higgledy-piggledy list.

[One-hour pause to install iTunes 10.5.1, which should have been easy, but wasn't.]

1. Yesterday we saw Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Marvelous. If Ritchie's making Holmes purists uncomfortable, more power to him. A Game of Shadows was at least as smart, and funny, and as fine a box of eye candy as Sherlock Holmes (2009). Oh, and lots of deftly inserted (cough, cough) gay innuendo, so booya. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law, I love you. Great chess, too. Eight tentacles up.

2. Last night, late, I finished with Stephen Jones' A Book of Horrors. All I had left to go was Robert Shearman's very good Machenesque "A Child's Problem," Dennis Etchinson's pleasantly odd and wistful piece "Tell Me I'll See You Again," and Richard Christian Mathenson's somewhat delightfully sadistic "Last Words." The latter might have served as a fitting bit for Sirenia Digest. I don't read much contemporary horror, but A Book of Horrors is a solid volume (plus, you get my piece, "Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint").

3. Thursday evening was cold, windy, and the sky spat rain. That would have been the first day of the vacation, yes? This day is the third. But I sort of did some work during the day, unless I misremember...which is always a possibility. Later, we visited the RISD Art Gallery (and got our nephew, Miles, a very bow-tie book for Solstice), then went out to get supplies (for both Spooky and me) at Jerry's Artarama*, then stopped near Brown and got delicious food from Mama Kim's Korean BBQ for dinner. It was worth huddling under my umbrella for.

4. Yesterday, UPS brought my copy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I recreated my Twi'lek Sith inquisitor Herazade and began leveling again. Made it to nine. I really am loving this game. Utterly bow tie, despite my initial predictions and impressions. However, a caveat: Why can game designers not rid us of the ubiquitous MMORPG silly hop? Have they never noted how humanoids jump? Generally, pushing off and up with the ball/toe of one foot, then landing with their opposite/s. Simple anatomy. Hopping up and down with bowed legs looks idiotic, and it's everywhere, except in console games, where a better knowledge of functional anatomy seems to prevail. The standing jump, of course, would be an exception, but, in most situations, standing jumps are rare, and may not serve here as an explanation or excuse.

5. Tonight, we see Brown Bird play at the Met in Pawtucket, and our Honourary Gentleman Caller, [livejournal.com profile] readingthedark, will be joining us for the musical shenanigans. Gonna rock.

6. Since we'd let our Audible.com credits back up, I downloaded three books the other day: first, Harlan reading his own Edgeworks Volume 1 – which is a delight – William Gibson's Neuromancer; and Paolo Bacigalupi The Wind-Up Girl. The last is the only I've not read, but I have great hopes. Of course, I'm not reading here, but listening, which is a distinctly different experience. Since I was a very, very small child I have savoured having stories and novels read to me. Unlike ebooks, audiobooks are bow tie.

7. Right now, plans are that the "teaser" trailer for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir will go live at 12 ayem EST (1 ayem CaST) on January 1st, New Year's Day. It will appear at that moment on my LiveJournal, as well as YouTube, Vimeo, etc. I will ask people to repost and embed it and link to it and spread it far and wide. I need the front page of my website redesigned for this book, but presently have no options. If anyone is willing to offer their web-fu for a FREE signed and inscribed copy of the book, email me at greygirlbeast(at)gmail(dot)com and we'll work something out.

And that is all! No more words! Vakayshun!

Leisurely,
Aunt Beast

* In The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, Imp works at Jerry's.
greygirlbeast: (twilek1)
0. Sometimes I have to quote myself: "Sex is not a pole in a hole. Sex is a banquet."

1. Yesterday, I put nose to grindstone and wrote pages 18-22 of Alabaster #3, and finished the issue. Today, I make a few corrections and send it to my editor at Dark Horse. This evening or tomorrow, I'll begin the new short piece for Sirenia Digest #72, and as soon as that's done, I have to get Alabaster #4 written before my vacation begins on the 15th.

2. And, kittens, please don't forget Question @ Hand #5! Thank ye.

3. As promised, here is the final cover layout for the trade paperback edition of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, to be released by Penguin on March 6, 2012:

A Cover That Doesn't Suck! )


And if you wonder why "A Memoir" isn't on the cover (I think I discussed this earlier), it's because my publisher worried doing so would cause "consumers" (shutter quotes!) to mistake the novel for an autobiography. And knowing how stupid most "consumers" (shutter quotes again!) are, I agreed. Thing is, this novel is an autobiography. It's India Morgan Phelps fictional autobiography, which, in large part, is drawn from my actual life, making this (like The Red Tree before it) a very autobiographical book. A complex, fictionalized autobiography. Also, I draw a distinction between consumers, readers, and smart readers, hence the derogatory shutter quotes.

4. By the way, for anyone who really didn't understand what the whole 0.003¢ hoopla was about yesterday, think of it this way: Imagine you have a job that you work at for nine hour a day. But you're only paid for three of those hours. And, on top of that, you're only paid one third of one third of minimum wage. Ergo, the hoopla.

5. There was a spectacular dream this ayem, and one that was very disturbing, even if I can't explain precisely why it disturbed me. First, I was deep in the Everglades, walking along a stone wall that lined green waters, clear as crystal. The water was choked with eelgrass, especially where it met the wall. A woman walked with me, and we talked, but I have no idea who she was, if she were anyone at all. There were gigantic cottonmouth moccasins in the water, and huge fish, and alligators, and a bizarre aquatic species of babirusas. All that life in the water, astounding. And then the cypresses and Spanish moss parted and we walked down onto Moonstone Beach. A single enormous wave, the bluest wave I'd ever seen (but shot through with foamy white), rose above us. It must have been at least thirty feet tall. We turned and ran, and when it broke against the sand, only our feet got wet.

6. I shall no longer put off the summation of my feelings regarding SW:toR. That is, my feelings as gleaned from my three days at the end of the beta, the impression I was able to form over three days, twenty-plus hours, and 14.3 levels with my Twi'lek Sith, Herazade (the Merciless). And these I will not belabor. If you don't like running, and running a lot, and running a lot over the same ground, this is not the game for you. The running didn't bother me, but that might be that because my first MMORPG was WoW back when you had to make it to Level 30 before you could get trained for a mount and buy one. The only major drawback for me was that the game – while, on the one hand, being generally very friendly to solo players – absolutely requires grouping for "flashpoints" that cannot be skipped (without screwing up your character's progress through the story). And I will never, ever cease to resent and find angrifying the attempt by anyone or anything to require that I socialize. That said, it's pretty simple, grouping for the flashpoints (I only had to do one): you stand outside the instance until someone asks you to be in their group. Even I was able to endure it. Essentially, these are little "dungeons" or episodes on starships. So, that's my One Big Criticism. Difficulty wise, it's a nice balance between, say, the witless grind of WoW and the unfathomable clutter of CoX. And unlike those two games – and this was a big selling point for me – the Sith truly are Evil. They're not the brutish, misunderstood Horde, and they're not a bunch of whining players afraid to get any darker than antihero. You are constantly rewarded (now, this all applies to playing Sith, of course), for being very, very bad. And penalized for the smallest acts of kindness. Though, the game world's techno stagnation still bugs me.

To me, SW:toR plays like a cross between an MMORPG and a good console game. Lots of people have complained about the frequent (interactive) cut scenes – which are present even during those flashpoints – but I like them a lot. Some of this is that the writing and voice acting are both superb, best I've ever heard by far in any MMORPG. As I said before, during these scenes, the animation can fall into the Uncanny Valley, with rubbery faces and all (not in a movie, but in a game), and I was surprised to find that good voice acting can salvage such stiff animation. Actual gameplay animation is quite good, though not as good as Rift**. I had no problems with the UI. That's something else I saw people whining about. Things do get a little complicated when you have to learn to mod equipment and such, but it's pretty intuitive, unlike, say, CoX, wherein forms of convoluted logic unknown to any sentient species are required, and unlike EVE Online, which pretty much requires of its players a Ph. D. in Engineering and Advanced Astrophysics. All in all, I found it a very intuitive game, and intuition is very important to me. I dislike manuals; I like to be able to teach myself. And while SW:toR does require you study the occasional "codex" to learn about this or that, the act of playing is, itself, intuitive. I've only played five MMORPGs, but SW:toR and Rift are, by far, the best of the five. Right now, my plan is to continue spending most of my gaming time on the latter, but to use the former for those times when I need a break from Rift. And that's about all I have to say. I feel like there are people deeply disappointed I didn't hate the game (as I'd expected to), but these are my honest impressions. I had fun. I was delighted. This is the story I've been waiting for since The Empire Strikes back, and I get to play along with it.

And remember, if you're one of the Watchers of the Unseen, tonight is RP night! Oh, and [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus, check your email!

Okay. This has grown much too long, and I have email, and work, and I have to go to the bank today (gag), so the platypus says to shake a leg.

Shaking,
Aunt Beast

** By the way, MMO Crunch (www.mmocrunch.com) voted Rift "Best New MMORPG for 2011," as well as "Best Overall." WoW was a runner up.
greygirlbeast: (white)
I don't think I have anything in me today worthy of an actual entry, than to note The Day, and perhaps a couple of other minor this or that.

Yesterday, as regards those who are too cool for school, and who, on general principle, cannot possibly enjoy a film like Cowboys and Aliens, [livejournal.com profile] opalblack wrote:

Everyone's too Hip and Cool to enjoy fun any more. It's like the whole world is an uptight teenager trying to impress everyone with how grown up it is, by smoking behind the toilets, looking bored, and mocking everything. Balls to that. I invoke The Law Of Awesome in this place, none of that bullshit here, thank you.

Indeed. Though, the word awesome, overused to a state of wearisome threadbareness, is beginning to grate.

And yes, I came to westerns very early in my life, and I've loved them ever since.

As for that "variant" spelling of Siobhan, it was a typo (which may appear throughout the manuscript, I don't know), though there are very many variants of the name, which is the feminized version of the Gaelic appropriation of John.

Also, I'm discovering I hate MMORPG culture. A lot of immature, ignorant, dick-measuring, pigheaded motherfuckers.

And.

Today marks the sixteenth anniversary of Elizabeth's suicide. She would be 40.

And there's this, which is a song we shared, and which she loved, in a time and place that is gone.

I still have this.

greygirlbeast: (Default)
As I have said in the past, I do not recognize Veteran's Day. Rather, I recognize Armistice Day. This is not just a streak of contrariness. See Kurt Vonnegut for my rationale.

A sunny day here in Providence. Sunny, but cold.

Nothing was written, though there was a lot of talking about the story I was trying to write. In the end, I've decided to put "Romeo and Juliet Go to Mars" back on the shelf, and write a somewhat different Martian story. Truthfully, I think I'm not a good enough writer (yet, and maybe I never will be) to pull off what I wanted to accomplish in "Romeo and Juliet Go to Mars." If the best I can do is a half-assed job, better I do no job at all. Some will disagree, but in the realm in which my stories are written, I am the sole goddess. So, I have this other story, that I need to make serious progress on. I haven't written anything since finishing Chapter One of The Drowning Girl on Sunday.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thank you.

I feel as though I have forgotten how to sleep. Last night, Spooky was reading me Kelly Link's "Magic for Beginners," and Hubero came into the bedroom and proceeded to lay on my face and purr. It was all I could do to stay awake. As soon as Spooky finished reading the story, I was instantly and completely awake. Story ideas racing through my mind. (Do not try to solve this problem; this problem is seemingly insoluble, and certainly resistant to any simple remedies). I took Ambien for the first time in months. I slept something like six and a half hours, which is good, the way things have been going. As for "Magic for Beginners," I loved it. The whole thing with The Library made me think of the best sort of bizarre and whimsical television fantasy: Doctor Who, Farscape, etc. The characterization in this story's especially poignant. It has all the awkward innocence and too-often unsuspected depth of youth.

There was an amazing sunset last night. The sky in conflagration. There are photos below, behind the cut. And Spooky went to the Knight Memorial Library on Elmwood Avenue to see Kristin Hersh read from Rat Girl and sing. I wanted to go, but knew I shouldn't. When we first saw a flier for the reading taped to the door of What Cheer, I said, "No, I can't go." Crowds just freak me out too much these days. Crowds and fluorescent lights. Spooky got home about 9:30 p.m., and she said "It's a good thing you didn't come. There were too many people, and fluorescent lights. But she sang 'Fish' and 'Your Ghost,' and read about Fish Jesus, and talked about Betty Hutton." Which made me sorry I'd not gone, despite the fluorescent lights. Again, photos below, behind the cut.

You know, I wouldn't be so annoyed at how WoW and CoX and pretty much all MMORPGs force socialization on their players if there were only a good, Mac-friendly MMORPG that took into account those players who just want to solo. Sure, I enjoy being part of a VG in CoX, put sometimes it would be nice to have the option of going it alone.

I have, in fact, begun to wonder if loners are being systematically weeded out of the population, culled from the world. At least in America. Can loners survive in a world of texting, twatting, and virtual social networking, where you can be alone with a thousand other loners? Where words like "shy" and "introvert" are being replaced by psychological disorders (highly suspect psychological disorders, mostly manufactured by pharmaceutical companies that can then manufacture cures to treat them) like SAD (social anxiety disorder) and AvPD (avoidant personality disorder)? You would think we loners posed a threat. I'd say it's a fear we slow production, but America's no longer about production. We outsourced all that, and now we're a nation of consumers. Maybe there's a belief that people in groups consume more than loners. I see far too little emphasis on individual effort and accomplishment, and far too much focus on teamwork. But I ask, why be a cog, when you can be a whole machine, entire and realized?

Six acronyms in only two paragraphs. But, I prattle on.

Gotta write. Here are the photos:

10 November 2010 )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Hurricane Earl has come and gone. We braced ourselves for a Category 3 or 4 hurricane. We got a low-grade tropical storm, and only a tiny bit of rain, and virtually no wind at all. So, we have candles and jugs of water and cans of nonperishable meat stuff, which we'll consume, by and by. I am assuming this odd feeling I have is relief, and not disappointment, after all that build up. I genuinely was a little scared this time. Down around Florida and the Carolina's, that bastard looked like a monster.

So, yeah. We're fine, except I have a headache. But that's neither here nor there.

Yesterday, as we were realizing there would be no hurricane, and I'd discovered that I could upgrade my iMac's OS to 10.6.3 without putting out $169 (thank you [livejournal.com profile] seismickitten and the Cult of Mac website for setting me straight) for the software bundle I didn't want or need and could not afford, we made a trip to the Providence Place Mall, which we tend to avoid at all cost. But that's where the Apple Store is, so that's where we went. I got Snow Leopard, and we also picked up a copy of Kristen Hersh's book, Rat Girl, at Borders. I came home and spent hours updating. Well, an hour or two.

College Hill was pretty below the clouds, in the drizzle. Today, I think we're going to Narragansett to watch the surfers.

About the closest I got to actually writing was suddenly discovering how I think The Dinosaurs of Mars should be structured (which really is no small breakthrough).

Spooky made pasta and sausages for dinner (the sausages were chicken with spinach and feta). But it was really too hot to enjoy eating in the kitchen, or in any other room. The House was still in the 90sF well into the night, though the temp Outside was in the high 70s. It finally cooled off in here this morning.

I would like to end this entry by saying I have not fallen for another MMORPG. But that's not the case. Last night, I tried out the trial version of City of Heroes and Villains: Going Rogue. On the one hand, the game design's not even halfway intuitive, it lacks WoW's eye-candy appeal, and the controls are clunky and excessively complex. But only the other, character design is extraordinary, it's more amenable to rp than WoW, and it's just kind of cool in a ridiculous, campy, oh-look-I'm-a-supervillian way. And I have ice powers. And hurt people. How can that not be fun?

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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