greygirlbeast: (Default)
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Not a good morning, this. Instead, the sort of morning you just have to keep moving through. Not because there might be something better on the other side, but because the only other option is to stop moving. And somewhere along the winding course of my life, the irrational belief was instilled in me that stopping is a Bad Thing.

Anyway...

Yesterday, post-"vacation mistake" epiphany, I wrote and answered emails. I signed the signature sheets I mentioned. We worked on the line edits for Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart and The Yellow Book (and we're not too far from being finished with that). Today, more. Of everything. I think Kathryn's going down to her mom and dad's place. Would that I were going with her.

---

Yesterday, I was looking back over my Blogger entries from December 2003, and I found this passage, written on the 25th:

I will not get smarmy this morning, because I will not be a hypocrite, but I will wish you all the finest things that I can for the long year to come. Peace and freedom from tyranny and fear and repression, in all ways. The realization of dreams, or at least the luxury of the dreams themselves. The dignity that comes with pain that may not be avoided, and the strength to bear all the unbearable moments in life. Beauty and the eyes to see it. And perspective. And joy, which is a far finer thing than any passing happiness...Spooky and I have had the finest Xmas of any I've enjoyed since the late '80s.

I know why I wrote that, why I found an Xmas I could endure. What I spent a considerable bit of the day trying to puzzle out was exactly how things backslid so much between 2003 and now, what happened in the intervening seven years. Oh, I know the answer: a lot of bad shit. A fall. The whole affair left me sort of sick and confused.

---

Not much else to yesterday. I did manage a decent bit of reading. Three stories: Charles Stross' "A Colder War," Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette's "Mongoose," and Don Webb's "The Great White Bed." I don't think I'm ever going to "get" Stross. I believe he and I must simply exist on different points along the dial. But, reading him yesterday, that old chestnut about SF being the literature of ideas came to mind. Who said that? Pamela Sargent? I think it was her. Anyway, sure, "A Colder War" is a great bundle of interesting ideas. But there's very little in the way of characterization, and without solid characters, a "literature of ideas" is pretty much a textbook. Characters first, and then science. All the technoporn in the world can't save a story from the vacuum created by an absence of solid, believable characters. Also, the Burgess Shale fauna isn't Precambrian, it's Middle Cambrian. Sorry. I know it's poor form, one author publicly grousing about another, but Stross' stories always leave me feeling like I'm missing something that everyone else plainly understands.

As for "Mongoose," it's a beautiful, brilliant, and delightful story. Each of those adjectives was chosen with care, by the way. I'm not just heaping hyperbole. I can also use it to illustrate a point I was trying to make yesterday. I very much dislike Lovecraftian fiction that is parody and/or attempts at literary irony. Almost without fail, they fail, those sorts of stories. The author/s, having decided they cannot possibly take Lovecraft seriously, and that no one else can, either – not in this day and age, and probably not in any day and age – turn/s to satire (usually dimwitted satire). "Mongoose," on the other hand, manages to have a lot of fun with a futuristic extrapolation of Lovecraft's universe, and never once does it feel as if the authors are mocking the source material. It is, I think, a story HPL himself probably would have loved. The difference, I believe, is that "Mongoose" never stoops to parody or derision, but chooses wit and whimsy, instead. Especially whimsy. And it just works. Brava.

It took me forever to get to sleep, but I can't blame Monsieur Insomnia. Not when I didn't get up until one p.m. the day before. I think I finally found sleep sometime after five ayem, after watching the first half hour or so of Clarence Brown's The Rains Came (1939).

Slivy,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Eli2)
A band I knew when I lived in Athens (well, mostly Linda Hopper and Ruthie Morris) back in the nineties, in that other time and that other world. Coming home from the sea tonight, I remembered the song, and started wondering what happened to everyone. Of course, all I have to do is check Wikipedia. I sort of loathe the internet. The video was censored by MTV, because assholes don't want to hear the truth.



"Careful when you say goodbye..."
greygirlbeast: (Eli2)
0. Comments, please. Prove to me LJ is not dead (again). I'm sick to death of self-fulfilling prophecies. You comment, I'll reply. Cause and effect.

1. Never, ever tell people on Facebook that "A release date has been set for the release on my first studio CD since 1999, which is called LOVEAMOEBA (band of the same name). TBA." Because, while this looks, to me, like a very obvious practical joke, many other people will appear to take it seriously. C'mon, guys. Loveameoba? No. Anyway, apologies. This whole humor thing, this beast has yet to master it in any way as to please anyone but herself.

2. I dozed off sometime after four, and woke at nine. Ayem, that is. If there's a part of me that doesn't hurt, please write my brain a letter to that effect. Er...wait. No, if there's a bit of my anatomy that is not in agony, it needs to send a telegram to my brain. Oh, wait. I mean, it needs to phone home. Oh...shit. I mean, it needs to twat at my brain. Yeah, that's what I mean. Hold on. What year is this?

3. A long phone call with my agent yesterday, at 2 CaST (1 EST), regarding Blood Oranges, ebooks, The Drowning Girl, etc. & etc. The usual. It seemed like we talked for an hour, though I suspect it was more like twenty minutes. Still feels like an hour. Afterwards, I discovered I was still so disgusted with the travesty that is "Sexing the Weird" that I couldn't even think about writing. I went with Spooky while she ran errands, instead. Sometimes, even the bland light of late autumn in Providence is better than the light of this monitor.

4. So, yeah. A Question @ Hand will be posted here tomorrow. All replies will be screened and will be confidential. The ten responses that please me the most will appear in Sirenia Digest #72. Anyone with any last moment ideas should post them here today. You know, like "If a circle of Dante's hell were to be designed especially for me, what would it be like?" Or "If you were to choose me as the test subject for an experiment involving the effects of a genetically designed parasite, what would the organism be, and what effect would it have upon me?" See. That sort of thing.

5. If I cannot put it on my shelf, it's not book. And no, placing a Kindle or a Nook or a whatever on the shelf doesn't count. Call it a data-storage or media delivery device. I have no problem with that. But it's not a book.***

6. Later this week Kathryn will be beginning a new round of eBay auctions (the first in a long time), and we'll be including ONE signed copy of The Drowning Girl ARC. Be the first on your block and all that.

7. Last night we played too much Rift again, but this time with a new guild member, [livejournal.com profile] opalblack. I dusted off my Eth warrior, Indus, and it was pretty fucking cool tanking for a change. Watchers of the Unseen (Defiant side, Faeblight shard) is always looking for new members, especially those interested in RP.

8. I'm ending the Aunt Beast Book of the Month Club. Results were, at best, mixed. And I think I never recovered from that Carrie Ryan fiasco.

9. The postman just brought Nos. 1 and 2 (Fall 2010 and 2011) of Centipede Press' The Weird Fiction Review. No. 2 includes the first print appearance of my story, "Fish Bride." And, honestly, the Review is a gorgeous thing, more in the fashion of an academic literary journal than a pulp magazine. I'm very impressed. Oh, also, I've sold a poem I wrote last year, "Atlantis," to Strange Horizons. This is the first time I have ever actually sold a poem. Sure, I included "Zelda Fitzgerald" in Tales of Pain and Wonder, but that's different.

Epilogue:

Would you leave me if I told you what I've done?
And would you leave me if I told you what I've become?


~ and ~

You can't choose what stays and what fades away. ~ Florence + the Machine

Anger's Little Petri Dish,
Aunt Beast

*** Please comment on things besides ebooks. Thank you.
greygirlbeast: (Starbuck 3)
I didn't forget this morning's dreams. And more's the pity. I dreamed that the Eastern Seaboard had been destroyed in a nuclear war by the Japanese (????), and I was a child in Jacksonville, Fla. and all was soot and ruin, and I watched a television broadcast of a firestorm raging across Texas. A million little details in my head.

This is why I generally hope to forget my dreams. Also, just now, right this very fucking minute, I'm having to refrain from one of those "You kids these days! Get off my lawn!" tirades, this time about how much I hate the way that the abbreviations of the states were dumbed down (i.e., simplified) back in the 1980s or when the hell ever. Florida is not FL; Florida is Fla. Massachusetts is not MA, it's Mass. Michigan is not MI, but Mich. West Virginia isn't WV, it's W. Va. Yeah, okay. I'll stop now. But I haven't lost all the battles. For example, the Girl Scouts of America, at least in the state of Colorado, are now trans friendly. I still marvel at the emerging phenomenon of transgendered children being permitted to express and explore their gender identities as children. Sure, it's still not even close to being included in this society's "normative state," but its become ever more common in the US. Kids these days...

Yesterday, we made it through chapters Five and Six of Blood Oranges. Assuming the MiBs leave me alone today, we'll get through Seven and Eight, and all that will be left to be done to the manuscript is actually making the marked corrections (there are a bazillion, so it'll take at least one long day). And since tomorrow will definitely belong to the spooks, It'll likely be Sunday before those corrections can be made.

And here we come to a note regarding Sirenia Digest. I am very, very sorry, but #71 is going to be late, and by late I mean maybe as late as the 10th of November (whereas it's "due" out on the 5th). October was a monster, and here I am with four days of it left, and I've not had a moment to put towards the digest. But it will come as soon as I can pull it together, and I apologize profusely. I'll do my best to never be this late again.

Last night, Spooky made astoundingly yummy turkey legs (toss in mushrooms, apples, onions, garlic, etc.) with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts (a cultivar of the wild cabbage, Brassica oleracea). I had a hot bath. Oh, wait. The bath was right after I made my blog entry, which means I had to wake up twice, because warmth makes me sleepy. Anyway, after dinner, Rift, and after Rift I finished reading Steinbeck's "About Ed Ricketts" to Spooky. So much is quotable, but I'll settle for one. On religion and Ricketts, Steinbeck writes:

He has no religion in the sense of creed or dogma. In fact he distrusted all formal religions, suspecting them of having been fouled with economics and power and politics. He did not believe in any God as recognized by any group or cult. Probably his God could have been expressed by the mathematical symbol for an expanding universe. Surely he did not believe in an after life in any sense other than chemical. He was suspicious of promises of an after life, believing them to be sops to our fear or hope artificially supplied.

I love those words. And now, four more stills (by [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy) from the October 15th shoot at Rolling Dam (Blackstone, MA) and Thundermist Falls (Woonsocket, RI):

Beast on Location )
greygirlbeast: (white)
So, yeah. Yesterday evening, after the blog entry, I was alerted to the fact that Two Worlds and In Between and I were being spoken of reverently in the pages of The New York Times. To whit:

There’s also no shortfall of ghosts, revenants and otherness in Ms. Kiernan’s Two Worlds and In Between. What’s most satisfying, though, in this retrospective — more than 200,000 words covering 1993 to 2004 — is watching Ms. Kiernan progress from competence and promise to become one of our essential writers of dark fiction...Ms. Kiernan is a cartographer of lost worlds..."

(byline, Dana Jennings)

Follow this link to read the full review.

Yeah, it brightened my mood a tiny bit. I think this is the first time I've ever been mentioned in The New York Times. Sure, the whole world can see my name and my prose every day just by going online. But today, from Manhattan to Tokyo, from Munich to Bombay, people will read my name and prose in print. And, especially in this day and age, that makes me smile. Sure, tomorrow, those same papers will be used to wrap fish and line bird cages. But today...damn. I want to buy copies, cut out the review, and make sure it's read by every one of those assholes who swore I'd "never amount to anything." Alas, many of them are mercifully dead now. As my life unfurls and winds down, I understand it's not enough to outlive your detractors. You also have to do something worthwhile during that whole outliving them thing. Anyway, yes, I am allowed to slip out from beneath the black cowl, feel some vague sense of accomplishment, and gloat for a few hours. I'll duck back into the shadows afterwards, don't worry. Truthfully, it didn't feel real until this morning. Spooky's gone out to find copies of the paper (page C4). Seeing it printed with ink on actual paper will make it feel much more real, I'm sure.

The morale of our story? Simple: If you manage not to die long enough, someone will notice. Maybe.

And if you're looking to bring me down today, over this or anything else, take a number. The line starts over there. Don't call me, I'll call you.

Oh, and having reviewed Apple's return policies, I'm fairly certain the iPad will be returned. I just don't need the thing as badly as I need many other things. And I do need what it could take away. I might change my mind. The jelly-bean shiny may carry the day. Nobody's perfect. We'll see. I'm encountering this phenomenon referred to as "buyer's remorse."

Great new episode of Fringe last night ("Subject 9").

Ah, Spooky's back. Must go see. But first this comment [livejournal.com profile] opalblack made to last night's entry:

Do you know there are actually people out there who envy us that tearing, bottomless darkness? Mostly nooage middle-class-white types who run around campfires waving dead things on sticks and calling it shamanism. I would like to slap them. For a lot of things, really.

Oh, I know those people...and antidotes.

Look upon me! I'll show you the life of the mind! I'll show you the life of the mind! — Charlie Meadows, Barton Fink

Surprised,
Aunt beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Spooky says, [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy has tweeted "Rhode Island. It's not an island. Not even close. I have discovered this." He is a wise man. Oh, and he also just tweeted, "They really should change the name of that to A-Squid-Neck Island*. In honor of Lovecraft. Obviously. Fo shizzle." I think he's high.

Today, Hubero's name is Bill Murray. Just until midnight. This began when Spooky posted the following to Facebook: It's that kind of morning... discussing how funny it would be to change Hubero's name to Bill Murray. "Get down off that counter Bill Murary!" "Dust bunnies will kill you, Bill Murray!" Yeah, that one was for the Jim Jarmusch aficionados. Shit. Hold on. Bill Murray is eating coffee grounds out of the garbage.

Um...back now.

Yesterday, I worked. On, you know, The Secret.

And then I went to the Apple Store and bought an iPad. Yes, this may well mean the end of Western Civilization, and I am ashamed to the core of my being, and I apologize. But I'm going to need it for work soon, and it's tax deductible. Now, time was, writers didn't need Star Trek gadgetry to...write. They needed fingers and ink and paper and a quill. Later shit got fancy with pens and typewriters. Luxuries? Those were whiskey and cigarettes. This was the life of the writer, and they roamed the plains in vast and wordy herds. But now, writers must have gadgets. Yes, they must! Or the other writers make fun of them. Gonna have to get an iPhone soon, too...but that's gonna wait a few more months. Meanwhile, I will endure the peer pressure and limp along with my sad little 2009 cellphone. Anyway, yes. An iPad. And man, you wanna know how Sirenia Digest was meant to be seen? Look at #70 on an iPad. I had no bloody idea! Anyway, lest anyone gets too worried, no. I WILL NOT READ EBOOKS ON MY iPAD. Except magazines and newspapers and comics, because that's different. Why? Because I say so. Also, my basement is filled with cardboard boxes of National Geographic that a) weigh a ton, b) will never again be opened in my lifetime, and c) I can't bear to throw out.

My iPad's name is Kermit. First time I have ever given a computer a male name.

My thanks to Josh Cruz ([livejournal.com profile] subtlesttrap) for sending me the new Ladytron album, Gravity the Seducer. And to Melissa, for reminding me that I've fallen in love with St. Vincent. Sometimes, I forget my nouveaux amoureux (and that I don't actually speak French).

Anything else? Bill Murray, you are not helping.

Oh! I know. Since when did publishing start thinking that anyone who has a blog, seems to be able to read, and can write halfway coherent sentences qualifies as an actual "book reviewer"? You know, those people who write "book reviews." Once, we had real book reviewers, who wrote actual book reviews for newspapers and magazines. In fact, we still do. Not as many as we used to, and, sure, few of the reviewers can match the Golden Days of Reviewers, the likes of Dorothy Parker's "Constant Reader" in the pages of The Atlantic. But, every goofball with a WordPress or TypePad account? Really? Fine, call me arrogant. I don't care. Call me meritocratic. I can live with that just fine. I can't live with BookVoreLady's "review" of The Red Tree being quoted by my publisher (I made up "BookVoreLady," but you get the idea), and I diligently have those "reviews" removed when they turn up in the opening, promotional pages of my books. Maybe this is the wave of the future, an age when merely being able to read and write automatically grants one the status of being a bona-fide book reviewer. But I don't have to like it or go along with it. Reviews have always been a questionable affair, but at least when the reviewer has a name and a face and you know their educational and professional pedigree, intelligent decisions based upon their opinions can be made. I may disagree vociferously with reviewers, but I do at least tend to respect the opinions of the learn'd and experienced.**

But what do I know? I bought an iPad and named it Kermit.

So, without further ado, eight more "making of" photos (chosen at random!) from the past weekend's shoot for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir book trailer. These were taken by Ryan Anas, who was Kyle's PA for those three days. Ryan rocks the casbah, by the way. I'm not labeling any of these photos. You can all make a grand parlour game of guessing their provenance. Or not. Your call. Speaking of calls, Ryan took these with his phone, which sort of looked like an elephant had stepped on it, so he gets extra points for moxie. And speaking of moxie...

Hey! Bill Murray! Get away from the microwave! (This is why we can't have nice things.)

Ryan's Behind the Scenes, Part One )


*Aquidneck Island

** No, this is not–most emphatically not–any sort of condemnation of those of us (as I am included) who write about books, perhaps in great detail, in our blogs or what have you. But I've never yet written anything in my blog I'd dare have the hubris to call an actual review. The world, I think, needs a hubris extractor.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
The last few days, I've been thinking, What am I going to write? What am I going to say? On that day, which is this day. And looking back, I don't think there's much more, for me, to say than what I said a year ago, which is (modified):

Ten years have come and gone. And we have our memories of the horror of that day. And we have the legacy of that day, which is not only our memories of the horror of that day, and our memories of those who died.

We have war in Afghanistan. We have war in Iraq. We have the Patriot Act. We have Islamophobia. We have torture at Gitmo. We have injured and traumatized war veterans returning to a country that will not care for them. We have TSA's "guilty until proven innocent" behavior. We have new memorials, to those who were heroic, and to those who were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Everything has changed.
For in truth, it's the beginning of nothing,
And nothing has changed.
Everything has changed.
For in truth, it's the beginning of an end,
And nothing has changed.
And everything has changed. -- (David Bowie, "Sunday")


And my mind reels at the knowledge that children born that day are turning ten years old today, and they never knew the world before.

As for my personal memories of that day. I watched on CNN, unable to believe what I was seeing, terrified, crying because that was fucking New York City. It would be a week before I learned if everyone I knew in Manhattan was safe. I was living in Atlanta at the time. Kathryn was at a job interview, which was interrupted by the news. That afternoon, with fears of additional attacks and the nearness of the CDC, an obvious and especially terrifying target, we left Atlanta for Birmingham. The flashing traffic signs on the strangely deserted interstate that usually warned of accidents ahead were all reading "National State of Emergency Declared." I remember, most of all and for the first time in my life, seeing a night sky without airplanes.

(Also, you should read this post by [livejournal.com profile] kambriel.)

---

Everyone needs to read this article, "What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents," unless you already know how bad the schools in America are, and how much of that damage is being done by parents. When I was in elementary school, many – if not most – of my teachers had been teaching (I shit you not) for thirty or forty years. Many had taught my mother. "Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years..." And "we" wonder.

---

Good work yesterday.

--

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Kickstarter for The Drowning Girl: Stills From a Movie That Never Existed. We finished with 301% of the funding we were seeking. I promise you, we'll make the best book trailer in the short and sordid history of book trailers.

In Memoriam,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caveat: No one is going to read this, and no one is going to comment. (This is an expectation, not a command).

Bright outside, and warm. I'd be on my way to Moonstone for a day of swimming, if the passing of Katia (the hurricane that's taking a Norwegian vacation) hadn't left the whole Eastern Seaboard with dangerous rip currents. So, instead, I will sit and work. Weekends are for...people who aren't writers. Just like vacations (I'm looking at you, Katia), retirement, and health insurance.

And I had dreams that are nagging at me, even though I can't remember them. And I have a headache I've had since last night. But other than that, hey man, as far as I know, the motherfucker's tiptop.

I don't get a lot of headaches, and they make me extra not right. Sorry.

Yesterday, I worked. Let's be safe and leave it at that. Oh, I will add that I needed Spooky to help me, and she displayed magnificent restraint and didn't kill me.

No matter how much time I spend on the internet (and it's a shameful LOT of time), I have a fairly low opinion of it. But every now and then someone has a good idea, and that good idea actually works. This is the case with Kickstarter, which has made crowdsourcing a practical option for many of us who often cannot find a traditional, conventional source for funding this or that project. The success of mine and Spooky's Tales of the Ravens/Goat Girl Press Kickstarter astounded me. I never thought it would work. But we not only met our goal, we received 212% of what we'd hoped for. And now, with mine and [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy's The Drowning Girl: Stills From a Movie That Never Existed, as I write this we are in the Kickstarter's final hour, and its funded at 298%. So, not only will Spooky and I be producing this wonderful little book based on her raven paintings, but Kyle and I will be creating a set of photographs and a short film based on The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. A couple of years ago, none of these things would have happened. So, thank you, Kickstarter, and thank you donors. We will not let you down (though we may be slow as fuck).

---

Last night, rather impulsively, we decided to drive over to the Providence Place Mall (we avoid this place like all bad things that are to be avoided), because there's a Borders there. I sort of felt an obligation to see the end of Borders firsthand. And...it was sort of horrifying and sad and, yet, peculiarly gratifying. Looking at what seemed like, in some parallax trick, to be miles upon miles of empty shelving, it became clearer than it has yet been that we stand at the end of an old age of publishing. I don't want to admit it, and I have no idea what the next age will look like, but there's no denying this is a transitional event. The horror and sadness, that came from seeing books that had, essentially, been reduced to worthless chunks of paper, devalued, stripped of their supposed, inherent merit, 70%-90% off. The peculiar gratification (and I know this is petty), that came from seeing the fall of one of the monoliths that took out so many small and extremely valuable bookstores over the last two decades. What goes around...

But there was, of course, this other thing. This other thing, that was fear. I am a writer, and here is my livelihood, in part, here in the store, and it's dying. No, it's dead, and we were just hanging with the last round of vultures (the lions, hyenas, and jackals left days ago), as the maggot-riddled carcass was picked clean. Oh, I know my career will survive, however the presentation of the art I create might eventually be altered, whatever form it might take. But I'm 47, and bookstores, that sell actual fucking books, that's what I've known all my life. I didn't grow up wanting to write data, ones and zeros, for Kindles or what-the-fuck-ever ugly hunks of plastic. I wanted to make books. And, no matter how much of my income eventually is derived from ebooks, I will, always hate that format, and always cling to the past, which is my present. The book: which is an object with covers and binding and pages, something tactile, something with a wonderful odor, born of ink. This will all likely be swept away in a few more decades or less, excepting small specialty publishers catering to the antiquarian tastes of people like me. But I'll keep writing, and people will keep reading.

And Borders had it coming, just as Barnes and Nobles has it coming. Just as Amazon has it coming. In time, they all fall, because everything does. Because greed is an absolute with a single inevitable outcome.

Anyway, eulogies and nostalgia aside, there really wasn't much left to buy, which made it easy to be good kids. Oh, there were veritable fucking mountains of celebrity bios, especially books about Sarah and Bristol Palin. It was satisfying seeing how many of those were left. There were sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks that had no business having been published in the first place, and tons of YA vampire dreck. "Literature" was gutted, as was "Science," except for theoretical mathematics. We must have been there about an hour (it was very hot, and the fluorescent lights were making me woozy), and we spent about $45, picking those bones, and came away with:

The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars (2009), Christopher Cokinos
The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must (1996, 2011) by Robert Zubrin
Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks (2011) by Juliet Eilperin
The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created Alice in Wonderland* (2010) by Jenny Woolf*
Katharine Hepburn: A Life in Pictures (2009) Edited by Pierre-Henri Verlhac**

...and one DVD, the only one left worth a cent, the two-disc special edition of Tony Scott's True Romance (1993).

---

I'm oddly homesick.

---

Later, I had some decent RP in Insilico. I read Joe R. Lansdale's "The Crawling Sky" from The Book of Cthulhu. Now, understand – Joe is brilliant, 99 times out of every 100. I once had dinner with him on the Thames, a Chinese restaurant on a huge boat, restaurant with some fucking absurd name like the Floating Lotus. Anyway, that's a story for another time. But "The Crawling Sky" is one of those rare cases where a funny Lovecraftian story works. First off, understand that this is like Cormac McCarthy writing a Lovecraft story, filmed by the Cohen Bros., starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn. Now, understand that, no matter how fucking funny the story may be, the "mythos" elements weren't being spoofed, but were taken pretty seriously. Anyway, yes. One of the anthology's gems. This line, I must quote: "He had the kind of features that could make you wince; one thing God could do was he could sure make ugly." Lansdale is, among other things, to be lauded for keeping the "weird western" alive.

Gods, what a fucking long blog entry! Gotta work!

* Winner of the Most Absurd Subtitle Award.
** A beautiful "coffee-table" book. How will Kindle fill that gap? How will we have beautiful coffee-table books on iPads? Maybe we'll stop having coffee tables. They seem a holdover from some more civilized age, anyway.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Functioning on five and a half hours sleep right now (and no, I don't fucking want to hear some sob story about how you've subsisted on a mere twenty-five minutes per night for the last eight years. This isn't a goddamn contest. There is no prestige in the Land of Monsieur Insomnia).

Cause in my head there’s a Greyhound station
Where I send my thoughts to far off destinations,
So they may have a chance of finding a place
Where they’re far more suited than here.
– DCFC

Gods, I'm never going to get used to the fucked-up present, which used to be the future, and will, shortly, be the distant past. The weirdness, by turns, baffles, astounds, and makes me furious. Case in point: You may now preorder The Drowning Girl: A Memoir from Amazon.com, even though it won't be released until March 6, 2012, more than six months from now. I will not even pretend to try to understand this, but okay, whatever. Have at it. The goddamn CEM (copy-edited manuscript) hasn't even arrived yet. It was due on August 31st, but Irene waylaid it, to my relief. Anyway, hell, there are bits of this book that haven't even been written yet. But you can still order it. Oh! Hey. Let's have some fun. Follow the link and click the stupid little "Like" icon.

Anyway....

Yesterday, I wrote 1,250 words on an as yet-untitled Mars story (for Sirenia Digest 69). Most of my energy was spent trying to create a plausible voice. Not only the voice the story's being told in, but the voice of a woman who lives in a hardscrabble Martian society a couple of centuries from now. Maybe only a hundred years ahead, but still. It's a problem virtually no sf writer is willing to tackle, and that drives me nuts. The combination of multicultural and multilingual homogenization, normal drift in languages (cyclic long-term drift, unidirectional short-term, and also the creation of creole, possibly via catastrophic agents), accelerating technological advancement (even assuming the probability that this "ATA" will eventually plateau), and so forth – write good science fiction and take all this shit into account, and...well, you'd get a book or story as hard for an early 21st Century reader to understand as it is for them to understand, say, Beowulf in the original Old English (West Saxon and some Anglian). Sure, it's fun to play with nuts and bolts and gadgets, but if you want to convince me that I'm seeing a possible (but improbable) future, make an effort. It's no different than designing an alien ecosystem, but failing to take into account the innumerable variables that would shape the planet's atmosphere, geology, biosphere, etc. Actually, with both alien language and biology, and also with alien tech, the problem is so complex as to be unsolvable, as, we must extrapolate from a single data point: Earth. Give me a thousand data points, and we can begin to enter the realm of cautious certainty.

In short, sf is really fucking hard to write, unless you settle for hand waving, and pulling shit out of your ass, and not asking the hard questions.

And I admit that, very often, my sf has done all three. Look at "Bradbury Weather." I wanted zeppelins, of some sort, on Mars. This whole agonizing affair is recorded in my blog entries from sometime in 2003 or 2004, but I did the math, the aerodynamics, the physics, the chem, everything. And unless I wanted zeppelins that would crash, explode, or be the size of Manhattan, it just wasn't possible (this was based on a Martian atmo fairly close to the present condition). So, I said fuck it. Zeppelins on Mars will be cool. I want mind candy. And so I set the science aside and wrote a wonder tale.

There's nothing wrong with that. Not in the least. Some of the greatest writers ever to have written stories set on distant planets – Bradbury, for example, or Burroughs (E. R., not W. S.) – paid little heed to the problems of science, even as understood in their respective days. And the stories were none the poorer. And there are later writers who only went partway, like Ursula K. LeGuin and Frank Herbert, but again they have produced wonderful sf. Still more recent sf authors, even with short-term predictions – Gibson is a good example – almost always miss the mark, Gibson by his own admission**. The decision has to be made, a personal decision for each and every sf author – how hard do I want this to be on present-day readers?

But still, it drives me nuts. Especially the anthropological and linguistic angles. Some would say this is because I write so-called "soft sf." First off, this isn't really true, as my sf often employs biology and geology; a lack of focus on technology does not render sf soft (even if you buy into all that soft sciences vs. hard sciences malarkey, and I don't). Secondly, it ignores the effect that elements of so-called "hard sf" would have on elements of so-called "soft sf." Tech and language evolve hand in hand. You only have to look as far as the geegaws and lingo of our IT obsessed era to figure that out.

And, what's more, the future won't magically recall more of the past. No, not even with the internet or Google Books or any of that. In fact, given the transitory nature of much of the stuff you read on computers, people in the 23rd Century may have more trouble deciphering the common tongues and slang of people two centuries before them.

Oh, and hey...a hundred years from now, there will be no Twitter, no Facebook, no pdas or iPods or e-cigs or Kindles. There might not even be an internet that is recognizable as such. I know all this shit's shiny and makes you feel all Jetsons and shit, but the combined forces of capitalism, planned obsolescence, and actual technological "advancement" will insure that the shiny of today is the dull, rusty, and forgotten of just a decade or so. Eight-track cartridges, anyone?

Okay, now I must be a good honey badger, show the platypus my canines and the cobra stuck between my teeth, send the dodo for take out Mandarin/Abyssinian, and confab with the mothmen.

Swing out,
Aunt Beast

** Also, we should distinguish between that sf which seeks to be descriptive and that which seeks to be primarily predictive.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
No sleep yet. Well, about twenty minutes this afternoon. Currently, it's 82˚F inside, and frightfully muggy. I think I'm having New Orleans 1995 flashbacks.

Lying in bed, watching the dark that's already begun to fade, and reading about thylacines. Thinking about all the work that didn't get done in July and has to get done in August. Terrified at how fast summer is slipping past, and yet suffering summer. I've taken all my meds for the night (morning), but still no sleep and still this restless, tumbling mind.

I'm not even sure I'm sleep before dawn. We have, officially, 58 minutes before sunrise. But the sky will be bright in another ten or fifteen minutes. I've always been an alien, but here I am not even attuned to the sky.
greygirlbeast: (sol)
I awoke about nine p.m., hot and sweaty and sick from having taken a Valium and two Sonata, but then only slept five hours. I awoke to relive, it seems, an especially grotesque day from October 1990.

It's just me, or it's everyone, or it's only some people, but even after forty-seven years, I've no idea whatsoever.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,236 words on a new vignette, "The Granting Cabinet."

I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to keep up these journal entries during Readercon. Back in March, I promised myself I'd make an entry every day for six months. But I'm not about to pay the hotel's exorbitant charge for internet access, so I really have no idea how I'm going to make it happen. Not that anyone much still reads LJ – they're all too busy with the easy, instant gratification and minimal compositional prerequisites of Twitter and Facebook – but it's important to me, if only because it's a promise I made to me.

Maybe I'll spend the day lying on the kitchen floor. The view from there isn't so bad.

Here are the photos from Saturday that I'd wanted to post yesterday.

9 July 2011 )
greygirlbeast: (sol)
I listen to R.E.M. a lot, and it will always be the music of Athens, GA, though I actually first discovered their music in Boulder, CO many, many years before I moved to Athens.

Spooky says I'm homesick. I'm not sure she's correct. But maybe it's something akin to homesickness.

---

I find myself needing to be tactful, though, no matter how hard I may try, I am never the most tactful of beasts. I get a lot of requests from aspiring writers, requests for me to read their work and/or offer advice on how they can become better writers, find an agent, find a publisher, and so forth. I can't answer all of these requests personally. Not one at a time, I mean. So, I'm answering the most recent batch personally here. And it's a short answer. Or a short set of answers. Truthfully, I can't help you. It's been nineteen years since I began my first novel, and eighteen since I sold my first short story, and sixteen since my first fiction publication, fifteen since I finished Silk, and fourteen years since I sold my first novel. It's been sixteen years since I got my my first agent. Now, the point of all those 'teens is that during the intervening years, publishing has changed, and it's changed in ways I only just begin to understand. For example, I used to type query letters, mail them (in an envelope with a stamp and an SASE enclosed, from an actual post office), and wait weeks for a reply. Back then, books were either paper or recorded on cassette (a few books-on-CD recordings were popping up). I could give a lot more "for examples." But, what's even more important than the changes that have been wrought upon the publishing industry is the simple fact that I'm not a writing instructor, and only a critic in the roughest sense. Sure, you could show me a story, and I could tell you whether or not I liked it. But, for the most part, that's useless to you. My opinion on any given piece of fiction is mostly subjective (aside from correcting grammar and so forth). I might love it. I might think it's a load of shit. A lot of what I think is shit sells like hotcakes, and a lot of what I think is brilliant can't sell for shit. And that should tell you everything you need to know, right there. Finally, I simply don't have time to read your work, not if I'm going to get my own writing done and have some semblance of a life in between. So...I hope you'll accept these answers, and understand them.

---

I'm trying very hard to get myself back into the head-space that will allow me to finish Blood Oranges. But it's not going well. I tried to read Chapter Four aloud on Friday night, and I only made it a few pages in. The reasons are complex. My instinct is to shelve the manuscript and move on to the next project. But that would be ridiculous, if only because the novel is half finished. And it was coming so quickly before this wall.

We fall, or are knocked down, and we get up again. Or we stop calling ourselves writers.

---

Yesterday, Spooky and Sonya and I escaped the broiling confines of the house, and endured truly horrendous touron traffic to cross the Western Passage of Narragansett Bay to Conanicut Island. Beavertail was dazzling. The sea off the west side of the point was such a dazzling blue gem it might have blinded me. Not my eyes, but other portions of my self in need of blinding. There's been far too much stress, lately. Stress I am ill equipped to cope with. There were more people at Beavertail than I'm used to seeing, but it was still easy to find a relatively secluded bit of phyllite jutting out into the bay on which to spread our blanket. About a hundred yards to the north, a flock of cormorants perched on the rocks. Occasionally one would streak away, skimming just over the surface of the sea. Or one would dive in and fish. There were gulls and robins and red-winged black birds. We fed a gull a cheese cracker. Just north of us was a rowdy lot of college kids, swimming and drinking beer and using watermelon rinds as hats. Spooky and I lay on the blanket. Sonya waded in. We weren't able to stay even nearly long enough, especially considering the the traffic there and back, and how hot sitting in the traffic was (the loaner car has no AC), but Sonya had a 6:27 p.m. train back to Boston. Amazingly, neither Kathryn nor I are sunburned (we did use sunscreen, but still).

Back home, Spooky and I had tuna for dinner. We watched more of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and our Faeblight Rift toons reached level 18. It was a quiet evening, and we mostly managed not to sweat.

I think I'm going to spend the next couple of days sweating and writing something for Sirenia Digst #68.

There are photos from yesterday, but Earthlink is all whack-a-doodle, so I'll have to try to post them tomorrow.

No Sea, So Less Calm Than Yesterday,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (chi3)
A crazy, crazy morning. Too many emails and phone calls. But now I'm going to try to calm down and write a blog entry.

Yesterday, I didn't get a lot of work done. I only managed to copy edit two stories in The Five-Chambered Heart, "The Bed of Appetite" and "Untitled 31." The latter will have an actual title in the collection, though I don't yet know what it'll be. It's great to proofread the newer stuff I've written, because, mostly, I'm still in love with it, and I make virtually no changes to the text.

My thanks to "Moto" in San Francisco, whose sending me a first-edition hardcover of Angela Carter's The Sadeian Woman: And the Ideology of Pornography. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Remember when email was fast? When you wrote emails, and pretty much everyone responded to them quickly? And this was revolutionary? Lately, it's all iPhones and iPads. I know because it always says at the bottom from what sort of device the message was sent. Now, it seems people would rather speak by "texting." I'm sorry. I'm made the transition from "snail mail" to email in 1994. I'll not be doing it again (she says, knowing full well she will adapt, when it becomes an imperative).

A note to prospective and young writers: Be wary of editors a) offering 1¢/word who b) do not yet have a publisher for their anthology, c) want all sorts of electronic rights straight off, and d) despite the fact they have no publisher, already have a cover design and a marketing strategy involving selling the book as a PDF. Here, we have entered shady, sketchy territory.

Yesterday, as the heat inside mounted, we fled the house and (despite the questionable state of the car and the cost of gasoline) drove down to Moonstone Beach. Our first trip to the sea all summer! That's just...insane. As usual, Moonstone was pretty much free of tourons (you may know them as "tourists"), and we mostly had it to ourselves. I waded into the cold water up to my thighs, and it was wonderful. The sky was full of birds: cormorants (Phalacocorax spp.), both American and fish crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos and C. ossifragus, respectively), red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), chimney swifts (Chaetura pelagica), piping plovers (Charadrius melodus), grey catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis), and all manner of gulls. We made tiny cairns from granite and slate cobbles, and found those others had made earlier in the day. We stayed until about 6:30 p.m., and headed over to Narragansett for dinner at Iggy's (as a marvelous fog rolled in). I think we were back home by 8:45. It was an evening out I much needed. On the way down, and the way back up, I read Book 1 of The Stuff of Legend (written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, drawn by Charles Paul Wilson III). Brilliant comic.

I tried to play Rift for a bit, but got into some combination of a snit and a funk about the state of the guild and the game and players. My apologies to [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus for yammering my dissatisfaction at him for an hour. But really. On the one hand, I love the potential of MMORPGs. But on the other hand, I often loathe what they actually are. In the hands of most players, an MMORPG is like watching someone shoot marbles* with a particle accelerator. That is the degree of potential being squandered. Anyway, I gave up about 11:30 and wandered away. I'm not saying this is something wrong with Rift (though, in fact, I have a short list of things that are wrong with Rift), but with the whole gamer mentality. Note: I am not a gamer. I am a roleplayer. The game aspect to me is, at very best, secondary. And, please note, I am on what is supposedly an rp shard. Ergo....

Yeah. Blah, blah, blah. Later, kittens.

Kicking Against the Pricks,
Aunt Beast

Wait. There are photos from yesterday:

28 June 2011 )


*I have no idea if kids still shoot marbles. Me, it was one of my favorite things as a child. It was a very important playground sport when I was in elementary school (1970-1975). Much of one's reputation was at stake.
greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
I need to just stop making plans. I mean completely. I need to quit making plans altogether.

I should be in Boston right this very minute, with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy and Co., but I'm not. I'm home. Sitting in my stupid chair at this stupid fucking desk, typing on this stupid fucking keyboard. Because the car's acting fucking sketchy again (bad crankshaft). Kyle just called. He'll be meeting up with our Eva Canning this afternoon (as played by Sara Murphy)*, scouting locations and getting test shots for our sort of Secret Drowning Girl project. Oh, and Neil even went to the trouble to get us on the guest list for Amanda's show at the Mill tonight...but...no. I'm. Sitting. Here. Maybe I'll go back to bed and be done with it.

Tiddly pom.

Oh, and, here in Rhode Island, we're still having a wonderful March.

Anyway...yesterday, we had a very fine birthday for Spooky. I even made her the World's Most Strawberry Cake Ever. Maybe too strawberry. But it was appreciated. By Spooky, I mean. She spent most of the day playing American McGee's Alice: The Madness Continues, I think. There are photos below, behind the cut.

All the work part of my day yesterday was taken up getting material to [livejournal.com profile] jacobluest for the new Sirenia Digest website (which is looking amazing). I did that, but nothing much else. I did read a couple of stories in Supernatural Noir, Melanie Tem's "Little Shit" and Brian Evanson's "The Absent Eye." I played Rift. Selwyn made Level 50 and capped. Yes, this is the breathtaking excitement of my life. Maybe I just have everything backwards. Maybe it's a problem of perspective. In this Post-Modern Age, perhaps it is the digital experiences we ought to cheer as "genuine," and not those troublesome and inconvenient analog ones.

Looking at it all fucking backwards.

Here are the photos from yesterday:

24 June 201 )


And yeah, Peter Falk died. Which I think I'm just having trouble processing. Is that a computer analogy? Having trouble processing? If so, fuck it. Anyway, I grew up in the seventies, with Columbo, but I try not to think of Falk as that character, because too few people remember that he was a very good actor. For example, his role as "Der Filmstar" in Wim Wenders' Der Himmel über Berlin (1987). Here's a clip I love:



But on the brighter side, gay marriage is now legal in New York. So, we have New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. But I don't think it'll ever happen in Rhode Island. Too many goddamn Catholics.

---

Last night, we watched a genuinely exquisitely creepy film, Brad Anderson's The Vanishing on 7th Street (2010). Anderson also made such superb films as Session 9 (2001), The Machinist (2004), Transsiberian (2008), and also directed ten episodes of Fringe. Right now, The Vanishing on 7th Street is streamable from Netflix, and you really, really ought to see it. Cosmic horror wonderfully translated to film. Man's fear of the dark and the dissolution of self. An apocalypse of darkness and aloneness. Beautiful.

And now I should go. Sit in the chair. At this desk. Maybe I'll try to write the introduction to Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (Subterranean Press, 2012), which will be called "Sexing the Weird." HPL and sex. My own refusal to be apologetic for the seemingly explicitly brutal nature of so much of my erotica, etc. One woman's pain is another's pleasures and affections.

* Turns out Sara hurt her arm at an audition at an audition, and I may have another chance to make it to Boston tomorrow. By the way, that came out wrong. Don't mean to imply I might benefit from Sara hurting her arm.
greygirlbeast: (white)
Today, the meteorological violence of the past two days is gone. The sky is overcast, and the air is cool, presently only 77F.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,738 words on Chapter Three of Blood Oranges. Now, there's a troll in the book.

Much of the day was spent bracing for a storm that I'm pretty sure actually came the night before. But the weathermen freak out when something gets past them, so they were overcompensating, going so far as to warn people to stock up on food and water and suchlike...for a thunderstorm. Spooky did go out to the market, and there were trees down – some of them quite large – from the storm that hit us early on Wednesday morning. Some buildings in our neighborhood took damage from that storm, from the wind and hail. Anyway, here's how things looked about 5:30 p.m. yesterday:



About 6 p.m., as we were eating dinner, the red band swept over us, and it was a kitten compared with the night before.

---

Yesterday, something happened that I've been expecting ever since Colgate-Palmolive bought a controlling interest in Tom's of Maine back in 2006 – I opened a box of toothpaste and discovered that the old metal tube had been replaced with a squishy plastic one. And who the hell really knows which is "greener" than the other, metal or plastic. Point is, toothpaste ought come in metal fucking tubes.

---

I slept last night, at least. About seven and a half hours. But the Good Worker Bee Pills are making me fat, a side effect that is known and common, so it's not as if I wasn't warned.

---

Last night, though the air cooled dramatically after the storms, my office was still too stuffy for Rift, so we finished watching the Burroughs documentary (dir. Yony Leyser, 2010). It was very, very well done. Afterwards, though, we watched William Cameron Menzies' The Maze (1953). Menzies is credited with inventing the role of the film production designer and was involved in the creation of many wonderful films. The Maze is not one of them. It didn't help that it was shot for 3-D, during one of those other times Hollywood fell for that gimmick. Very likely one of the dullest films I've ever slept through. Okay, I only slept through about ten minutes, and apparently I didn't miss anything. It was almost worth eduring the whole silly, wretched mess for two lines:

Kitty Murray (played by Veronica Hurst): Look, there's a strand of seaweed!

Edith Murray (played by Katherine Emery): And a bowl of tomatoes (pronounced toe-MAH-toes).

Anyway, then we watched Christopher McQuarrie's The Way of the Gun (2000), which I love, even though it sort of destroyed the man's career. It shouldn't have. Spooky had never seen it. Yeah, that's a lot of watching. I wasn't in the mood for much else.

---

Rhetorical Question: How am I not to conclude that, in the end, I am, at best, a forgotten experiment and no one is watching?

Same As It Ever Was,
Aunt Beast

* From Wikipedia: "A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply. Rhetorical questions encourage the listener to think about what the (often obvious) answer to the question must be. When a speaker states, "How much longer must our people endure this injustice?", no formal answer is expected. Rather, it is a device used by the speaker to assert or deny something. (e.g.: "Why me?") While amusing and often humorous, rhetorical questions are rarely meant for pure, comedic effect. A carefully crafted question can, if delivered well, persuade an audience to believe in the position(s) of the speaker."
greygirlbeast: (sol)
And (whatever the calendar says) today is the first day of summer in Providence. Plus! For a limited time and at no added bonus, a massive solar flare is barreling towards Earth at some 1,400 kilometres per second! Whee! In the house, it's 85F and climbing! Outside, 88F and also climbing. Whee!

In Rhode Island, we don't have seasons. The climate has moods.

Lately, I'm realizing (and I should have realized this sooner) that, as an author, I am being expected to be a lot more computer savvy than I am. Not only that, I'm seemingly expected to be able to afford the software and gadgets. Publishers and editors assume I have iPhones and iPads, that I can use Adobe and edit in MS Word. Surprise! Nope. And I really don't see this changing anytime soon. I'm too poor and too stubborn and too disinterested. If anything, I'm perversely tempted to respond to the techno-pressure by composing my next novel on the 1941 Royal typewriter sitting on my mantle. Works just fine. I can get ribbons. It breaks, I fix it myself. Might have to use a screwdriver, worst-case scenario, I'll type it all out, the manuscript, saving electricity and making carbon copies as I go (remember those?), then send four hundred and fifty actual pages by parcel post to my editor. Oh, by the way. Books would, for the most part, get shorter again, and far fewer books would be written, if every one had to work in the Realm of Analog. This would be a good thing.

Writers need to be writing, not learning to use software and the latest bullshit app.

That's not the end of a rant. I'll come back to it, by and by. All my life, I expect I'll be coming back to it. Oh! On a related note, yesterday while shutting off Facebook's scary facial-recognition software (they don't ask if you wanna opt in; you have to opt out), I discovered how to shut off comments on FB. I don't care if it's a social network; I'm repurposing the bitch to my own ends.

A package from S. T. Joshi just arrived. Inside was a copy of Wilum Pugmire's The Tangled Muse (Centipede Press, 2010). Gods, this might be the most beautiful book I've ever held. Certainly, in the top ten. More astounding still, this is from the first printing of only six copies, after which, due to a dispute with an artist involved, the book had to be reset. Wow. Thank you S. T., and thank you, Wilum.

Yesterday, we caught a matinée of Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class, and I rather loved it. Some might pick nits, but I won't. It was too fun to ruin by nit picking. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were very good, and Jennifer Lawrence made a great Mystique. I loved Nicholas Hoult's Beast. Hell, even Kevin Bacon didn't annoy me. Anyway, yes. Wonderful.

Ashes and diamonds,
Foe and friend.
We were all equal in the end.
(Pink Floyd)

One day, I'll tell the story of how, in 2005, I almost wrote an X-Men mini-series. It's a sordid tale.

Fuck all, it's hot in here.

Before I forget, the Big Damn eBay Sale is off to a good start. Please have look, please. Also, just as helpful and worthwhile, see Spooky's Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries Etsy shop. All her paintings are on sale (limited time) for 20% off! Coupon code: ART20

Today, I go back to work on Blood Oranges, and later I'll be talking with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy (Talking, yes! On the phone!) about the trailer and other promotional goodies we're working on to aid in the promotion of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. That's likely the whole of my coming day.

Rift last night. Selwyn and Missya made Level 46, and were sent from Iron Pine Peak to dread Stillmoor, where once was the great Mathosian Empire, and now the eye of Regulos holds sway over the cratered land. Late, there was some truly grand and very grim rp with [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus. Thank you, Sirrah.

Okay. I go forth to broil...I leave you with wonderful new images of my favorite world.

Warmly (haha),
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (chi 5)
Whatever this entry might have been, it's going to be this entry, instead. And you can thank Monsieur Insomnie for that, for keeping me up all night and into the day with his deviant shenanigans. I said deviant, not devious.

Um...

Trip recounting Part Two. Yeah, well that's not really going to happen. Or it's not going to happen the way it would have, had I slept. Insomnia's sort of like time travel. Shit still happens, but it happens differently than it would have, because the worldline's been altered.

Day Two. We went to the American Museum of Natural History. I have many fond memories of the AMNH. The last time I'd been there was May 2001, and I was there as a paleontologist researching mosasaurs. I sat in the dusty attic, filled with cabinets of fossils and labels written in Cope's own spidery hand, and worked on a project that I was never able to finish. The museum's changed a bit in the last ten years. Mostly not for the better. And these are the two things that cycled through my mind repeatedly while we were there on Wednesday.

In the Hall of Biodiversity, I sat down and made some notes about how natural history museums are - partly by necessity, partly by way of wrongheaded educators - going the way of the dinosaurs they display. Funding continues to dry up, and museums have to find ways to stay afloat. So, they become more and more like theme parks. It's called "infotainment," which requires "interactive" gimmicks, instead of hands-off exhibits with, you know, words and stuff. Add to this a maze of gift shops. I gag on that sickly portmanteau, "infotainment." Anyway, in my little black notebook, I wrote:

More and more, the old museum has been lost to the ravages of "infotainment." And to that add hundreds upon hundreds of screeching children*. The sense of sanctuary has been lost, that secular Cathedral to Science and Nature that was once the hallmark of good museums. The quiet dignity. I watch the people, and they file past, hardly even pausing to actually look at anything. Video monitors everywhere, sensory overload. Very sad seeing this.

Okay, I feel bad enough without harping on the Death of Museums right now. I'll come back to it some other time.

---

"Fake Plastic Trees" has sold to Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling for their post-apocalyptic YA anthology, After. I suppose, at this point, everything that postdates tomorrow is post-apocalyptic.

Also, while I have decided to write Blood Oranges before Blue Canary, it's not what I actually want to do. Many factors come into play. Blood Oranges is a peculiar lark of a book. Blue Canary is my future (I hope). By the way, with my agent's blessings, I'll be writing the latter as Kathleen Rory Tierney. Or Kathleen R. Tierney. But the R will stand for Rory, whether people know it or not. Someday, I may write another novel like The Drowning Girl or The Red Tree. We shall see. Time will tell. Regardless, all this is a change of direction of my choosing.

Yesterday...um...yesterday, I signed 600+ signature sheets for Two Worlds and In Between (which required two hours and forty-five minutes). I emailed stories to two editors for two anthologies. I answered email. The REAL mail came, and there was a chunk of granite (brick red with grey phenocrysts) from Ryan Obermeyer, which he picked up on the shore of the Red Sea, at Hurghada, during his recent trip to Egypt. Actually, the stone came from out of the water of the Red Sea.

My foot hurts like hell. If hell hurts, and they tell us it will.

Last night, good rp in Rift. The guild grows, and its story begins to unfold.

And I'm going to hit myself in the face now.

Deliriously,
Aunt Beast

P.S. -- My birthday soon. Please give me stuff.

* Once, when I was young, children actually knew how to behave in museums. Now, the teachers chaperoning field trips have probably been bullied by helicopter parents to the point that they're afraid of telling kids to keep it down, for fear of lawsuits charging them with stifling self-expression or some bullshit. So, we get these fucking brats with a sense of entitlement.

May 17-18, Part Two )
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Comment, kittens!

It's not just the innate creepiness of the "praying hands" and swirly lights aspect of the present LJ banner, it's the nigh unto vomitous pale orange/melon-colored scheme. And I have to see it while I compose a journal entry. Someone ought to have to hurt.

Gagh.

Meanwhile, another bout of "not enough sleep" last night, despite my being a good little drone to the Queen Bee of 21st Century Pharmaceutical & Invalidism Culture and having refilled my "sleep aid" script. I think I almost, maybe, slept six hours. And it all just fucking figures. I'm working my ass off, and I'm mostly sleeping well. Often eight hours a night. Then, I force myself to take time off which is, essentially, necessary, and – KERBLAM – no sleep. Write or die. Dance until your feet bleed, or die. Don't stop dancing.

Yesterday was a Very Bad Day, and I don't have those very often anymore. Because I'm a good drone and take my meds and spend the day making honey and all. But yesterday, slip, and there's a Very Bad Day of the sort we've not seen in...quite some time. More than a year. We did leave the house and drive aimlessly about Providence for a while. The weather was too unpredictable to make an attempt at reaching the shore. Sunny, but a chilly wind. It's so green out there, but still it doesn't feel like May. I make the honey, like a good bee, and still the warmth doesn't come, and if I ever dare to stop and catch my breath, then there's no sleep, and the rage returns, and the noise, and the wish for self-annihilation, and no, no, no, you don't know what I mean.

Also, I just accidentally took my morning and afternoon pills at the same time. Booya.

The good news? Spooky just found my riding crop. It vanished when we moved here from Atlanta three years ago, and I despaired of having another so fine, without ponying up (hahahahahahahaha) a tidy sum at a tack shop. But no. Spooky found it.

While we were out, we stopped by Acme Video, and in a desperate effort to quell ye olde inner dæmons, I went hog wild renting comfort movies. Five of them. Movies where the wold is soothingly black and white and grey. Last night we watched two of them, George Cukor's The Philadelphia Story (1940, one of the most perfect films ever made) and John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). It helped, as long as the movies were playing. They ended, and the curtain came down again.

All I need is a reliable supply of opiates, enough for a couple of good doses a week. Paregoric would be perfect. Or laudanum. Or Vicodin. Anything.

In a couple of weeks, I turn 47. There are no words for how utterly fucking fucked up this is. Not just the "Woe is me, I'm getting old" part. That's obvious. No, it's the time dilation. The surreality of having lived from Then until Now, and through the shitstorm in between. It's a wicked sick excuse for a joke, and there's not even a god to blame it on. Only Chance and Probability and all those other rational, empirical anti-gods of Science.

I do have a wishlist at Amazon. You can look at it if you wish. I'm not adverse to gifts this time of year, even if they're of the non-opiate variety.

Oh, and you may now see the complete, final cover of Two Worlds and In Between, just by clicking here. Okay, it's not complete complete, as it still lacks the text of the flap copy. But it's mostly complete. Pay close attention to the book the painting me holds on the front cover. With a larger canvas, infinite regression could have been mimicked. Lee and Kyle are geniuses. They have wrapped my words in folds of zebra flesh and bergamot and vetiver and claret velvet.

Judge the book by its cover. Please.

Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus commented how Kathe Koja still has a thing for the "love is doom" motif we saw in Skin (1993) and Strange Angels (1995) and Kink (1996). Okay. He didn't name all those books. I filled in the gap. I don't know how Kathe feels about this (I may ask her), but, for my part, yeah...love is mostly doom. Exceptions are few and far between.

Listing to Starboard, Hardly Yar,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
I used to write,
I used to write letters. I used to sign my name.
I used to sleep at night,
Before the flashing lights settled deep in my brain.

But by the time we met,
By the time we met the times had already changed...
(Arcade Fire)

No, nothing special. Just sort of where I am right now. But, have you noticed? I mean, how it's much easier to find people with insomnia than without? See, it didn't used to be that way. I remember.

---

Yesterday was an assembly day, as I predicted. And Sirenia Digest #65 has gone out to subscribers. I very much hope you enjoy the issue. Thanks again to everyone who answered the most recent Question @ Hand.

Today, I need to do a small bit of editing/reworking on "Fake Plastic Trees," following questions from the editors. And I need to finish the updated FAQ for the new Sirenia Digest page. And answer email. And just maybe have energy left to start thinking hard about the two projects that need to be consuming May.

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

---

For months now I've been pondering something I usually call "virtual transgenderism." I started thinking about it a lot right after I started playing City of Heroes back in October (I stopped playing in January or so, for various reasons). I was part of a very good rp group, and most of the characters were ostensibly female. But after about two weeks, I put two and two and four and six together and, with a little help from people who'd been playing for years, realized that almost every one of our "female" players were guys, including lots of guys in the military. Like, you know, GUYS. At first, I was sort of baffled, the way you're baffled when someone plays an especially clever joke on you. But then, then I thought, "Hey, this is really fucking cool." And I thought that because, you see, all these guys were very good a playing women. All sorts of women (most of whom just happened to have super powers), from insecure, nerdy twenty-somethings to smugly confident queens of Faerie. They weren't playing caricatures of women. They were playing women. I was amazed.

See, I can be naive and slow on the uptake. I'm old. When I was in my twenties, we had video arcades with shit like Galaga and Joust and Pac-Man, coin slots and joysticks. We didn't have gaming technology that allowed people to, virtually, become other people. People of other sexes, genders, sexual orientation, races, species, etc. So, it takes some getting used to. But, of course, a large number of the female characters in WoW and Rift are male, and, I'm willing to bet this is true of all MMORPGS. On Second Life, I'm pretty sure 95% of women are actually men. And I'm sure a lot of this is simply guys who think their chick toons are hot and a lot more interesting – but, even then, we still have teenage boys and grown men playing with virtual paper dolls. Many of these guys, though, they're acting out female characters. I just think it's very cool. I think it's a step in the right direction. Maybe a very small step, but a step, all the same. It says something if guys can get together online and openly pretend to be girls. Last night on Rift I was thinking, It's like Fight Club for the trans-curious. This is why it's called roleplaying. You play a role that is not you. You step into someone else's shoes and look through their eyes.

I'm not even going to get started on how this leads to guys' female toons hitting up other guys' female toons (or male toons hitting up "female" toons) for erotic rp. Someone needs to write a Masters Dissertation. Actually, I'm sure several people have already done so.

Anyway, yes. I wholeheartedly approve. I also approve of the women playing virtual males, though I suspect that's a rarer phenomenon.

---

I think I might have given the wrong impression when I started this Aunt Beast's Book Club thing. I don't expect people to read these books on pain of public humiliation or something of that sort. These are just books I want to promote. And, too, it's a way to push myself to finish novels I start. That's all. No one needs to explain to me why he or she isn't reading one of the selections. It's entirely and utterly casual, optional, and so forth.

Over and Out,
Aunt Beast

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greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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