greygirlbeast: (grey)
Though I slept eight hours or so, I feel like I didn't sleep at all.

And there's so much sun Outside. If I didn't mind a little chill–and I don't–I could spend the day swimming at Moonstone Beach. Same for yesterday. It was "supposed" to rain yesterday and again today. And the rain keeps running away from us. I think I'm going to write a paper titled "Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and New England Weather."

Yesterday, the CEM for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir was sent to my publisher from the Jamestown post office out on Conanicut Island. It should be in Manhattan by Wednesday. For the most part, it's now out of my hands.

We spent the afternoon, at West Cove, mostly beach combing. The water was very calm, only a few scattered clouds in the sky. When we arrived, there was a great deal of plastic litter (mostly old Clorox bottles–often used for floats on lobster pots–and soft drink and water bottles) along the shoreline. Spooky and I hauled a great deal of it up above the surf line, and then later someone else came along and gathered up still more. Lots of things wash up in West Cove. Sadly, a lot of it is refuse. It's hard to enjoy being at West Cove after such a futile task.

But we found some good beach glass. I only found one nice bird bone, which was unusual. There were kayaks, canoes, sailing ships, and other boats. We took a lot of photos, and I'll post some of them tomorrow. Just not up to the chore of Photoshop and ftp today.

Back in Providence, we dropped by the p.o. There was a box of antique porcelain doll heads Inzell, Germany for Spooky, and comp copies of the Lovecraft Annual (No. 5) were waiting for me. This issue reprints the Guest of Honor speech I gave at the HPLFF in Portland, Oregon last October. Oh, and there was also a resin cast of a raven skull for Spooky. Such is our mail.

There was pizza from Fellini's for dinner. As days off go, I've had worse. We did get more of The Sundial read, and finished Season Two of Mad Men.

---

Seems like I had more thoughts on The Stand, things I forgot to say yesterday, but now I've mostly forgotten them all again. I know I was going to mention how poorly paced the book is. Having read it again, I'm more amazed than ever that King released an "extended" version. The original is already too long. He could easy have cut out half the stuff in the Boulder Freezone, and it would have only helped. The novel all but grinds to a halt in the middle.

This is what a blog entry looks like when I really can't seem to muster the resolve to write a blog entry.

Anyway. I'll be over here, talking to myself.

Weary of the World,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Today, we drop the CEM off at the post office, and the deed is fucking done. The corrected CEM for The Drowning Girl has been photocopied (never return a corrected ms. without making a copy, because shit does get lost in the mail). Letters granting me permission to quote songs and stories are included, as well as a copy of Lewis Carroll's "The Lobster Quadrille." I'm thinking the ms. will probably be in NYC by Wednesday. Now, maybe I'll stop smoking again, but I sort of doubt it.

And today is a day off.

And tomorrow I have to get work on the pieces for Sirenia Digest #70. And why aren't you subscribed (I don't actually require an answer, please)? It's quick, easy, cheap, and we have a snazzy new website!

---

Last night, there was more Mad Men. We've almost finished Season Two, and I have very much fallen in love with this series. It's what television ought to be. There was also RP in Insilico, and Grendel lost the first digit of her left pinkie to yubitsume. But it was her fault. After all, she was out of contact with the oyabun for more than twenty-four hours, because she met a woman at the space port (I hate that. No one in this version of the twenty-fourth century would say "space port." At the port, let's say), and it had been a long time between fucks. And you know how that goes.

We also finished reading Stephen King's The Stand (the original, not fucked-up 1978 text), and I have many thoughts. I could make an essay of my thoughts, but I don't want to spend two hours droning on and on and fucking on about the whys and wherefores. Better I summarize. I didn't enjoy the book nearly as well as I did way back in high school and the eighties (I read it four times, I think). King simply isn't a good writer. He is a good storyteller, and he has a way with characters, but there's a lot more to writing than "Storytime with Uncle Stevie." And I think this has been the key to his success.

But I have deeper problems with the text. There's no denying it's sexist. Sure, we have Mother Abigail and the token queer, Dana, who gets sent off to die in Las Vegas (in one of the book's best scenes, by the way). Oh, and Nadine, who remains my favorite character. But that's pretty much it. Women are mostly there to be pregnant, and to fret, and to need men to protect them. And this seems a little much even for 1978. Maybe it would have seemed less out of place in a book written in 1948. And, trust me, I'm not a radfem. This is a very notable objective problem with the text. And, while I'm at it, Captain Trips seemed to have spared Caucasians over all other races. Well, there's Mother Abigail, who comes off as the "Magic Negro."

Another, for me, is that there's almost no getting around the fundamental Christianity of The Stand. It's steeped in it, with hardly room for any other interpretation, and we watch as a wicked god lays down his judgement, and war is waged against the forces of evil. Note: Tolkien did this in LotR without showing any evidence of religion whatsoever. And, like I said, this is a problem I have, the whole Christian fantasy thing, and likely it's not a problem for most people, especially, obviously Christians.

The whole thing after the epidemic just seems so...small. I recall it being epic, and it really isn't. It occurs on a much smaller stage than I remember. Of course, I'm forty-seven now, not, say sixteen, and I've read Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which has changed the stakes of postapocalyptic books forever. There is no god. Or God. Or gods. No one's coming to save us when the big fuck up rains down. And it'll be worse than Stephen King dared to imagine in 1978. The human spirit will not triumph, because those left alive will be too busy fighting over whatever happens to be left. So, for me the book also fails in it's incredibly naïve anti-nihilistic approach.

But all of this is not to say that it isn't still enjoyable on some level. And there are still some great scenes (though I was shocked at how flat the climactic Las Vegas scene seemed). Spooky enjoyed it more than me, but then she'd never read it. For my part, I'm not revisiting any more King texts. I'll only be disappointed, and I'd rather remember them as I do, even knowing those memories are, by and large, false.

And we began reading Shirley Jackson's The Sundial. Finally.

And now I go have a day off.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Um...what? Already? Oh, fuck. Okay.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,163 words on the final chapter of Blood Oranges. More bridge troll stuff – but Otis, not Aloysius. It's very, very weird writing a book of any sort this quickly.

One video, and then another, and now Spooky has me listening to Tom Waits this morning. Which is better than having "At the Hop" stuck in my head. Yeah, I just woke up, and there it was, in my head.

My thanks to Scott Pohlenz for sending me a copy of Subterranean Press' exquisite The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition. The slipcased and numbered edition! #49! And on Bradbury's birthday, even! Okay, that's enough goddamn exclamation points, but thanks all the same, Scott. You made my day. Originally, I wrote, "You made my day awesome." But then Spooky politely reminded me how we don't use that word around here, because all those AWESOME shit-wit hipsters and interweb dweebs have ruined it.

Here in la Case de Kiernan y Pollnac we're bracing for [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy and crew on Friday, and the possibility of Hurricane Irene on Monday. Boom.

Yesterday, I read "A fossil sperm whale (Cetacea, Physeteroidea) from the Pleistocene of Nauru, equatorial southwest Pacific." See, it's them little "hyperlinks" that make sense of the whole bloody world. Unless, like me, you've read too much obscure zoological, geological, and geographical literature.

Random comment: I hate having to be the sane, considerate, grown-up person. I'm ill-suited to the task. But not as much as I once was. Thank you, Mr. Lamictal and smart psychiatrist lady. You both rock.

Spent time last night thinking about the life and death of Robert E. Howard, and the sad mess that has been made of his literary estate over the decades since June 11, 1936. Somehow, it all culminates with a lawsuit filed by Stan Lee Media Inc. against the makers of Conan the Barbarian 3D (i.e., Another Sad Sack of Cinematic Shit Wherein Everything Jumps Out At You®). Trying to fathom the ins and outs of this legal circle jerk makes me want to do bad things to myself with a titanium spork. Also, it encourages me to be sure that my own "literary estate," whatever it may amount to, is in good hands when that time comes. I want it to be safe and out of the paws of weasels at least as long as the people I want to benefit from it are around. Then, whatever. Fuck it. The lawyers and con men always win. It's only a matter of time. Oh, the stories I could already tell. Except, I can't. Because that's the way it works. And, you know what? It works that way because of lawyers.

Hey! Mr. Stephen fucking King! You listening to me? Spooky and I were up until four ayem reading the original 1978 edition of your novel The Stand, and it's a damn swell book and all (oh, my godforsaken crush on Nadine), BUT WE WANT OUR SLEEP BACK.

Oh, and Patti Smith is writing a second memoir. Which makes me happy.

Probably, I should go now. Yeah, that's what I should do. Tomorrow, we'll talk again.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Sunny today, Again, I should be in the sea. This is a thing that will not happen, though, because even if it weren't for the writing, I've got a doctor's appointment this evening. Actually, doctor's appointments can be fun, if you go about them the right way. I have found most doctors to be horrified and/or stupefied at the notion that everyone doesn't want every conceivable test for every conceivable symptom which might lead to any conceivable malady.

Doctor: "But you might have X?"

Me: "So what? If I do, I'd rather not know. It's not like I could ever afford the treatments, and, besides, I'm chronically suicidal."

This is not a fiction. I have actually had this exchange. It was lovely. I'm pretty sure it's not a patient response taught at medical schools.

Or! If any cavity probing is involved, only agree to them if the doctor first agrees to say "Good puppy," at regular intervals.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,957 words on Chapter Seven of Blood Oranges. The book is moving quickly towards its conclusion. I'm pretty sure an old school bus filled with Swamp Yankee werewolves is involved. Some idiot is going to proclaim this a great "horror" novel. Or say something like, "Finally, Caitlín R. Kiernan has figured out how to write great horror." And me, I'll just sit back and laugh. The hardest part about this book is that most of what is perceived as "horror" became self-parody and comedy long ago, but very few people have figured it out. It's hard to parody a parody. So says the world's only triggerpunk, and she ought to know.

Spooky (on the other paw) went to her parents' place, to visit with her sister, Steph, and nephew, Miles, who are up from Brooklyn. Miles is three and a half, and he likes pirates. And he proclaims, "Brothers are sisters. Sisters are brothers." I wish they taught this shit in school. Anyway, Spooky took photos of a cute kid and a frog (behind the cut, below). I cry foul.

---.

This morning, Bruce Sterling tweeted, "Social media does not exist for you. You are the PRODUCT in social media. That's why it's free." Fucking brilliant. I'm going to have a stencil of that quote made and start tagging everything in site.

---

As for whatever else there was of yesterday...nothing that warrants recording, but I'll record it anyway. A little Rift (I'm trying to get the achievement for killing 250 centaurs in the Droughtlands; see, and you thought I was all like smart and shit). We read more of The Stand (1978 text, accept no substitute). There was some Second Life RP. Oh, furries are annoyingly little shit (just in case you didn't know). "It's not a fetish! It's a lifestyle! Do you think I chose to want to have sex in a fursuit!? I'm a Loony Toon trapped in a human body!" Milk and Cheese! Milk and Cheese!

Sorry. That wasn't nice, was it? I'm channeling Siobahn Quinn.

As for Ridley Scott directing and producing a Blade Runner sequel or prequel...I'm not sure how to react to that.

Hesitantly,
Aunt Beast

17 August 2011 )
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Thanks for yesterday's comments. Let's see if we can do that again. I like to see Frank the Goat all smiling and happy.

Sunny, and warm (high of 84˚F forecast) here in Providence, and I should go to the sea. Instead, I'll write.

So, after I propose a book as the month's selection, and after I discover it's a steaming pile of pink giraffe dung, then people step forward to tell me that it was a baffling choice. Better yet, that my choice of Ryan's book led them to doubt my sanity and the very fabric of time and space. Helpful lot, you are. Anyway, so I officially decry The Forest of Hands and Teeth as the waste of a wonderful title and a lot of paper, and move along. Yes, you heard me. I am breaking with my neurosis and not even finishing it. And there will be no other choice for the "book club" this month. Me, I'm reading The Stand (the original 1978 text) for the first time since the 1980s. And this be a lesson to you all. Even aliens fuck up sometimes.

Seriously, how does someone get to be an adult-type person and have such a dopey, sugary view of the world as Carrie Ryan? How is it that their ideas of human relationships remain so firmly rooted in the ninth grade?

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,349 words on Chapter Seven of Blood Oranges. Yes, I finished Chapter Six on Monday without having realized that I'd done so. I am approaching the book's climax. It's a very, very peculiar book. It's me taking a vacation. But, regardless, I can assure you that – whatever it might be – it's at least 1,000% better written than The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

---

I was very pleased to see this bit in John Clute's review (at Strange Horizons) of Ellen Datlow's Naked City:

And Caitlin R Kiernan's "The Colliers' Venus (1893)" (in a steampunk Denver here called Cherry Creek) is an engrossingly indirect narrative at the climax of which the eponymous figure—who is Gaia in bondage—turns to holy ash, which is coal dust that fills the lungs, which is to say she imprints us with our fate.

But the entire review should be read, as it speaks to the sad mess that has been made of the once respectable and promising label "urban fantasy." Seriously, if you value my fiction, or my opinion of fiction in general (the Carrie Ryan gaffe notwithstanding), you should read this whole review. But I will quote two passages:

"If it's the same story wherever it happens to be set," I wrote, "it isn't Urban Fantasy."

– and –

The best stories in both anthologies, being about our world, do not pretend to tell us that all will be well, that all things will be well if we listen, down to the last sweet-tooth detail, to the child inside. Paranormal romances told by sweeties no longer feed us joy or terror, not any more. They are yesterday's newspaper. If it is our fate to breathe dust, then let it be the dust of the world we live in.

Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes. Where have all our John Clute's gone?

---

So, as I was saying, casting about for something reliable to read last night, we settled on the original text of The Stand (1978). The 1990 revision/extension/updating, in my opinion, was mostly nonsensical and all but ruined the novel.* I'd actually wanted to read Shirley Jackson's The Sundial (1958), but couldn't find my copy anywhere (and fear it was lost on a move [dash] book purge). So, yes. The Stand. I was afraid we'd start, and this book I'd loved so much during my teens and early twenties that I read it pretty much once a year would have lost everything that made it dear to me. Kathryn and I re-read King's 'Salem's Lot back in 2004, and, frankly, I found it embarrassing. That is, I was embarrassed I'd ever admired that novel. Anyway...

Last night I was very pleasantly surprised to find that The Stand is still, to me, an enthralling, well-written book. Which means King's writing improved considerably between 'Salem's Lot and The Stand, between about 1973 and 1977 (approximate composition dates, not publication dates). I entirely stopped reading him after '89 and '90's supremely disappointing The Dark Half and the reworked edition of The Stand. For me, the high point had been Pet Sematary (1983), and I knew the party was ending when I read the atrociously bloated and silly It (1986). I've drifted off the point. So far, after the first five chapters and the first fifty pages, The Stand is what I remember it being. I'm just glad that I have a copy of the original text, and not the later, longer, and lesser edition.

And I should go. There's an impatient platypus.

An Old-School Urban Fantasy,
Aunt Beast

* Much like what Clute says about urban fantasy stories being about the places they're set in, and ceasing to be those stories if moved to a new place...a good novel is about its time, no matter how "timeless" the basic elements may be, and cannot simply be bumped ahead in time to make more money for publishers and authors. Just look at the mess that has been made of Lovecraft on film, because no one understands these are now period stories. Now, from here, The Stand is a story about the world thirty-one years ago (it's set in 1980).
greygirlbeast: (redeye)
Generally, I avoid talking about health issues on LJ/MySpace, as I usually consider that sort of thing firmly in the realm of the private. But I've been suffering from an apparent TMJ flare-up since mid-October, and the last two days, in particular, have been excruciatingly uncomfortable. Not sleeping well, and during the day, the pain makes concentration almost impossible. And there's all this work that absolutely will not wait for this thing to pass. Though I could ill-afford the time away from the desk, I took yesterday off, trying to recover a bit, but the way I feel this morning, I'm pretty sure it was a futile gesture. (And please, no suggestions for treating TMJ).

On Tuesday, I began the "reverse lycanthropy" piece for Sirenia Digest #24, which I am calling "The Wolf Who Cried Girl" (thank you, Spooky). I did 1,006 words, and hopefully I'll be able to pick up today where I left off, as I need to get this one written and away to Vince by Monday.

Yesterday, we attended a matinee showing of Frank Darabont's adaptation of Stephen King's novella, The Mist. I went in hopeful, but skeptical. I left the theatre stunned and duly impressed. As I have said so many times before, I'm not a film (or book) reviewer, but you can find a review that says a lot of what I feel about The Mist at "Aint It Cool News." My complaints are few. I do wish the film could have spent more time on build-up, showing more of the storm that preceded the coming of the mist, the water spout, etc. Also, I think Thomas Jane as David Drayton is a problematic bit of casting in a film that is otherwise very well cast. On the one hand, Jane has the sort of bland everyman quality that King so often brings to his protagonists, and I can't say that Jane's that far off from Drayton as written in the novella. The problem arises, I think, from Marcia Gay Harden's superb performance as the zealous Mrs. Carmody. Gay's Carmody calls for a more passionate counterpoint, someone with a lot more screen presence than Thomas Jane. That said, yes, I was impressed. This is a story I've been wanting to see filmed since I first read it in Kirby McCauley's Dark Forces almost thirty years ago, and I am very glad that it wasn't made until sfx technology was able to catch up with King's vision. The creature design, which includes work by Bernie Wrightson, is wonderful. But the most stunning thing about Darabont's take on "The Mist" is its ending (which I will not spoil). I went in figuring that we'd either get the ending from King's story or we'd get a much rosier ending dictated by test-audience opinions. Instead, Darabont takes away King's bleak and unresolved ending, and in its stead we are given an ending that is far, far bleaker, and perhaps equally unresolved. This is, I think, the first real post-Katrina horror film, and the blow delivered by the last five minutes of The Mist seemed, to me, very much a comment on the American government's too-little, too-late response to the flooding of New Orleans. All in all, a chilling, powerful film that's much more about the frailty of civilization and just how thin a veneer "humanity" is, than it is a film about the Lovecraftian monstrosities lurking in the fog. Strongly recommended.

And for everyone who's wondered what I mean when I speak of the Second Life town of New Babbage, here's a brief tour, including a few shots of the Palaeozoic Museum:



...and as long as I'm at it, I'll repost the clip from The Culture Show:

greygirlbeast: (dr10-1)
Yesterday was the sort of day that is endured, and that is about the best that can be said for yesterday. Well, no, it got much better after sunset. Byron came by, and we watched the entire first season of Simon Pegg's Spaced. I pretty much stopped watching TV comedy back in the early nineties, because I just didn't "get it" anymore. The characters, the situations, etc., it all seemed hopelessly alien to me. Lately, though, thanks to BBC America, I have been rediscovering funny on television.

I haven't worked on Joey LaFaye since Wednesday. Thursday was lost trying to catch up on a great barrage of email. I talked with Will Hinton, my HarperCollins editor on the Beowulf novelization, and he informed me that it's selling well and that it's being translated into Italian, Korean, Russian, Polish, Japanese, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Oh, and there's a UK edition. I hope the world will forgive me for being just a little bitter that it isn't one of my "real" novels getting this sort of distribution. I also spoke with an editor in the UK whose probably taking a story from Sirenia Digest for an anthology (details TBA). I talked with my lit agent at Writers House about whether the WGA strike will have an effect on my writing the "Onion" screenplay, and there's was a bunch of other stuff I can't recall. But no actual writing.

---

We finished reading "The Mist" Thursday night. I'd not read it since sometime in the '80s, and I was afraid I wouldn't enjoy it as much as I once had. But I did. It's a long way from being a genuinely good novella, but the things it does well, it does very well. I think the last section, "The End," remains quite wonderfully chilling. The long, slow drive from the Federal Supermarket to the Howard Johnson's where the manuscript is being written (and I appreciate that King had the good sense to give the first-person narrative that sort of "authenticity") — that is, to me, the cold white heart of "The Mist." I think King had the right attitude about this story in the notes section he wrote for Skeleton Crew, where he speaks of its "cheery cheesiness," and says "you're supposed to see this one in black-and-white, with your arm around your girl's shoulder (or your guy's), and a big speaker stuck in the window." It occurs to me that lots of folks born after this story was written (the late seventies) won't even understand, at first or maybe not ever, what he means about the speaker. At any rate, I do hope that the Frank Darabont adaptation doesn't screw it up, and most of all, that the bleak, unresolved ending of the novella has not been traded for happy-ending resolution in the film, as that would utterly defeat the purpose of the thing.

---

Thursday night, we went with Byron and Jim to see a late showing of Anton Corbijn's Control at Midtown. I don't often (or ever) write about Joy Division, because the band and, in particular, Ian Curtis were such a powerful influence on me at such a pivotal point, and the influence was deeply personal. Some things, it's just best not to go on about, I guess. I remember how much it shocked me when I saw Doug Winter's introduction to Tales of Pain and Wonder, and there was Ian Curtis in the first sentence of the first paragraph, though I had intentionally avoided Joy Division references in the stories. Somehow, it came through. Anyway, I thought the film was brilliant, through and through. Brilliant and beautiful. Certainly one of the very best films of this year. Oh, and here's a great article from the The Guardian by Curtis' daughter, Natalie, recounting her experiences on the set of the film.

And my thanks to everyone who sent condolences regarding CMP the Ham.

Okay. The coffee has arrived. As has the copy of Syberia II that Spooky snagged off eBay for cheap, so I guess I know how she'll be spending her spare time for a while...

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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