greygirlbeast: (Walter1)
Well, fuck. It's almost 2 p.m. (CaST), and somehow the day is slipping past on filthy little cat feet – fuck you, Carl Sandburg, you sentimental twatwaffle. Okay. Definitely didn't mean to begin this entry that way. But, as Longbaugh reminds me, "I think a plan is just a list of things that don't happen."

Yesterday, I wrote nothing. I sat here and thought about things I should have begun writing two days ago. Finding stories. I also made a flaccid attempt at cleaning my office. I decided that if snow is the dandruff of Ceiling Cat, dust is the dandruff of Basement Cat. I stacked up manuscript boxes that need to go to storage (various incarnations of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, typescripts and galleys). I shelved a couple of books, and then I gave up.

I read Jack McDevitt's "The Cassandra Project" (2010) and Vylar Kaftan's "I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See You in Reno" (also 2010). Both had kernels of magnificence trapped deep inside. Both were far too short, felt like outlines, and were almost entirely devoid of voice. I'm not sure if it's true that "Science fiction is the literature of ideas" (not sure, either, who first said that, and if you can figure it out for me, you get a banana sticker), but I don't think they meant that all you need is an idea*. At least, I hope that's not what he or she meant. I look back to Philip K. Dick, William Gibson's early work, Ray Bradbury, Jack Vance, Robert Silverburg, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Michael Moorcock, Harlan Ellison...long, long list...and there is style. Voice. Good writing. Not this no-style style. From recent samplings, I fear that too much of contemporary science fiction has all the flavour of a stale communion wafer, and is just as flat. Sorry. Gratuitous (but true) Catholic reference. Where are our prose poets? Why doesn't the language used to convey the idea matter? It's not entirely true to say it's completely absent from contemporary sf. We have the brilliance of China Miéville, for example. But for fuck's sake, the short fiction I'm reading...communion wafers.**

I only just learned that Etta James has died.

I think my diet is killing me.

The snow is so bright out there, I had to shut the curtain in my office. It's getting better, though, as the wide carnivorous sky is being decently obscured by clouds. I didn't leave the house yesterday, but Spooky did, and she took photos, which you can see behind the cut (below), along with a photo from the day before of a typical Providence grey squirrel, all of which have become absurdly obese of late, in this oddly snow-free winter. Oh. By the way. Yesterday was National Squirrel Appreciation Day. I shit you not. Let’s hear it for Sciuridae.

Last night, we watched last week's episode of Fringe. A marvelously tangled web. And yeah, it's not great science fiction, but it doesn't claim to be, and, even so, it does have a flavour.

Fat Squirrel + 21 January 2012 )


I Taste the World,
Aunt Beast

* Possibly, it was Pamela Sargent. Or, possibly, she appropriated it from Isaac Asimov.
** Near as I can tell, this has always been the case with "hard" and "military" sf.
greygirlbeast: (Chiana 6)
The first day of my vakashun, is cold and cloudy...which figures. But good things are in store, so I am told. And rest. And travel Outside. And, most importantly, NOT WRITING.

A peculiar thing last night. Not coincidence. Or maybe not so much coincidence. But something. I haven't watched Farscape, to speak of, in years, and last night Spooky and I sort of decided to start at the beginning and work our way through all four seasons. Anyway, we'd just finished "Exodus from Genesis" (1:3), when I saw [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's entry about the death of T.J. Bass, author of the sf novel The Godwhale (1974), at the age of 79. It may be that not many of you've read The Godwhale...or even seen Farcscape. But the former concerns, among many other things, the creature of the title, the Rorqual Maru: (French, from Norwegian rørhval, from Old Norse reydharhvalr: reydhr, rorqual (from raudhr, red; see reudh- in Indo-European roots) + hvalr, whale), plus you will recall that it is Hakudo Maru, the Japanese Celestial God of War, who taught men to build ships. The Rorqual Maru is a bioengineered Blue Whale, and...well, in Farscape you have the biomechanoid ship Moya (also, in Japanese architecture, the word for the core of a building). I'm mucking this up, aren't I?

Point is, having just started watching Farcsape again, then reading of Bass' death, something clicked. I read Godwhale in high school, maybe three years after it was released (it's out of print), and doubt I've consciously thought about the book in a quarter of a century or more. But I had to pause and wonder how much Godwhale might have influenced the creators of Farscape (Jim Henson Productions/Hallmark Entertainment) when they conceived of the sentient ship Moya, who is, after all, a member of a species known as leviathans, from leviathan (late 14c., from L.L. leviathan, from Hebrew livyathan [לִוְיָתָ] "dragon, serpent, huge sea animal," of unknown origin, perhaps related to Tiberian liwyah "wreath," from base l-w-h- "to wind, turn, twist"), a word which in Modern Hebrew, and in general, has come to mean, simply, whale. Bomechanoid whales of the sea and of outer space. And it just seemed...curious, our going back to the series the day after Bass' death, which Elizabeth Bear didn't blog about until yesterday, a blog entry we didn't read until after watching Farscape. But my mind does that, same as it plays word games. It plays games – not with cause and effect (though it does that, too) – but with the frivolity of happenstance.

Oh, and Soulcrusher, he crushed the soul of Spooky's computer. Sort of. Turns out, the "People of WalMart" website is infected with a piece of especially pernicious computer malware, "Vista Home Security 2012." Which we spent much of yesterday trying to expunge from her machine. This morning, it seems we were, unexpectedly, successful. So, we don't have to give the guys at the Geek Squad $200. But – DO NOT GO TO THAT WEBSITE. The Soulcrusher will reach out and crush the soul of your computer. Yesterday's entry has been locked (my eyes only; I can never delete an entry – never have, never will).

Work-wise yesterday was sort of choatic, what with the spawn of Soulcrusher and all. We made it through the first 146 manuscript pages of corrections on Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (by the way, some work has to be done while I'm on vakashun....like this. So, please pre-order a copy, to make it worth my while, the sacrifice of those precious hours of leisure). Also, I spoke with my editor at Dark Horse. Alabaster steams headlong towards an amazing launch.

And Spooky says I have to go now, and pretend I'm not working...
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
1. Dreams give us another reality, realities that are, more often than not, terrible or horrific or surreal. But, always, those dream realities are brilliant. The are radiant, even if they radiate darkness and seethe with violence and fear. Then we awake, and we're back here again. Here, where the world is banal, and all is shit, and there is nothing. (A thought more perfectly realized in the instant of its conception, but, like a dream, it began fading as I tried to write it down.)

2. I have been sitting here contemplating measuring the speed of time as a physical constant. If not in this worldline, then in some other. Light's easy, that c we take for granted, a simple 299,792,458 m/second, but what if time moves? How does one state the speed of time without resorting to circular reasoning?

3. Yesterday, I did only one new page on Alabaster, Page Fifteen, because I realized that I'd set the plot on the wrong pivot (so to speak – pivot, fulcrum, whatever), and the first half #3 was the last chance I'd have to set it straight in the first series, and if I didn't set it right then the wrongness would echo down through many issues to come. Writing comics, plot is one of those things that are first and foremost. When I'm writing prose, I almost always let plot worry about itself. Usually, it accretes naturally out of characterization and mood and theme, those things I prefer to write. Actually writing plot is, I find, agonizing. Like picking buckshot out of your own flesh, then putting it back in another way round, but finding that configuration just as "wrong," and starting over and over and over. Life has characters and moods and maybe even themes run through it, but it has no plot. Which is why a plan is only a list of things that never happen. Like my proposals and synopses for unwritten stories. Anyway, I'll still hit my deadline on #3.

4. Apologies for not posting the "Question @ Hand" last night. Tonight, for sure. I'm dithering.

5. Played more of SW:toR last night (though only about a third as on Saturday), and, as promised, I was going to attempt to explain my thoughts on how it might be that video games make lousy movies, but Star Wars: The Old Republic is the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back (1980). But, [livejournal.com profile] slothman has saved me the trouble:

When you get 3000 years away from the main setting, you can ignore 95% of the issues of continuity with the stories from the films and the vast majority of Expanded Universe fiction. That frees up the creators to tell entirely new stories, using the familiar ingredients of lightsabers and the Force and a hundred sentient species. In my opinion, the best Star Wars work takes place at least 1000 years before the films (the Knights of the Old Republic games and comics), and the second best over 100 years after (the Star Wars: Legacy comics).

Which is essentially what I was going to say.

I'm going to play again tonight, then summarize my thoughts on the beta tommorow. But I am still loving it mightily, but also allowing myself to see the blemishes. The one that bothers me the most (she jumps the gun!) is that SW:toR takes us three-thousand years into the past, roughly three-thousand years before A New Hope, and...all the technology is essentially the same. The starships, the shuttles, the weaponry, the speeder bikes, the droids, and so on. Now, this would be akin to watching technology on earth having failed to evolve significantly since, say, the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt (roughly 1060-664 BC), or...well..pick another culture – China, Persia, the Mesoamericans, etc. – they all work in this analogy. Maybe, if I were a bigger Star Wars geek I'd know some bit of lore to explain the reason for this technological stagnation spanning millennia. As it is, I find the phenomenon baffling. Were the creators too lazy to fashion a genuine history for this galaxy long, long ago and far, far away? Do they fear fan backlash? It can't be that. Not after LucasArts unleashed Jar Jar fucking Binks on an unsuspecting world. Sure, later we get death stars and light sabers fall out of favour and whatnot, but nothing really changes in the course of three-thousand years.

6. I just got the news that Ken Russell has died. Truthfully, I hated almost all of his films, with the only notable exception of Whore (1991). But still...damn. As Russell said, "“Reality is a dirty word for me, I know it isn’t for most people, but I am not interested. There’s too much of it about.”

7. Part of last night was spent catching up on "television" (id est, streaming via Hulu). Very good episodes of both Fringe and American Horror Story. And I read chapters Five and Six of Barnum Brown: The Man Who Discovered Tyrannosaurus rex before sleep, which didn't come until about four ayem. I was in bed at two, but my mind (despite a literal handful of pills) had other plans.

Here For Now,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
This is the unusual, infrequent sort of day when I'd actually prefer to be writing, instead of all the busyness of writing that will consume the day. More and more, it's actually hard to find time to simply write, because there are so many different projects, at so many different stages of production. I imagine this time next year I will look back fondly on November 2011, and I'll think, Wow. I had so much time to just write back then.

---

Day before yesterday, we got the news that Spooky's maternal grandmother, Ann Hanon, suffered a stroke and heart attack. She's ninety-seven and a half, and a recovery is not expected. She's not regained consciousness. She gave instructions she was not to be placed on life support. So, now everyone's waiting. The air is tense with that waiting for news of an inevitability, and with sorrow people cannot help but feel, no matter if a loved one has lived a very, very long and full life. As I said of my own maternal grandmother who, at ninety (almost ninety-one), died in 2005, I can't stop thinking how this amazing person lived through so much time, so much time and so many worlds. So many incarnations of this world. If I live another fifty years...well, I'd prefer not to, but if I did...I cannot even begin to imagine the changes I would see. I think one of the hardest things for Kathryn and her immediate family is that none of them are with her grandmother in Wisconsin, as we have become this nation of latter-day nomads.

---

Yesterday, I began writing "Sexing the Weird," my introduction to Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart. I have grown to strongly dislike writing nonfiction, and especially nonfiction about my own work. After twenty years as an author, I fear I've sunk far too deeply into the bogs of my own work to speak about them...and no, that's not what I meant to say, but my difficulty articulating my thoughts on this subject should serve as an illustration of what I'm trying to say. Nonetheless, I made a good beginning, I hope, and I hope to have the introduction finished by tomorrow evening.

This month, I also still have to get the galley pages for The Drowning Girl back to Penguin (by Monday), write Alabaster: Wolves #2 for Dark Horse, work on promotional material (my publicist just emailed) for The Drowning Girl, and get Sirenia Digest #72 written and out to subscribers. I think the only thing keeping me moving ahead right now, besides the stubborn momentum of life and the pills my psychiatrist prescribes for me, is the determination that I will take two weeks off in December, a sort of Solstice/Cephalopodmas vacation. I've not had a vacation of any sort since December 2008. But other people seem to do it, so why the fuck not me?

---

A very nice interview at SFF Chronicles with Elizabeth Bear ([livejournal.com profile] matociquala), in which she just happens to make a very kindly mention of The Drowning Girl.

---

And here's a particularly articulate bit of commentary on The Ammonite Violin & Others, which I very much appreciated seeing this morning. Towards the end, there's this paragraph I found especially apt:

A note of caution, though, the stories within this book are mostly excellent and there is no denying Kiernan’s ability and distinctive voice. However, if you read a number of these in quick succession, they do start to cloy and the depth and intricacy of the tales can become treacle thick and hinder the progress of the reader. This is something to enjoy in bite size morsels.

Yes. This is true. Well, I think it's true. I can no longer bear to read a great chunk of my own short fiction any more than I can eat more than a couple of pieces of Turkish Delight at one sitting. Or a few bites of baklava. But it's interesting, because of something someone asked in the comments to yesterday's entry, regarding the caveat lector that opens Harlan Ellison's Deathbird Stories. [livejournal.com profile] faffinz asked: "Did your copy of Deathbird Stories come with the warning note from Harlan that it should not be read all at once? If so, did you read it all at once?" It did, as that notice appeared at the beginning of all copies of the book (including the recent superb Subterranean Press edition). The caveat reads:

It is suggested that the reader not attempt to read this book at one sitting . The emotional content of these stories, taken without a break, may be extremely upsetting. This note is intended most sincerely, and not as hyperbole. ~ H. E.

To finish answering the question asked by [livejournal.com profile] faffinz, no, I didn't read the stories all at once. On the one hand, being possessed of only one functional eye, I have always been a rather slow reader. Also, I like to make good books last. But, also, I first encountered the book in 1981, and I didn't take the warning as a dare. I actually did find the stories too intense to be read without several breaks in between. In fact, I had to stop halfway through "Shattered Like a Glass Goblin" and come back to it later (by the way, it remains one of my favorite of Harlan's stories). But this was in an age before Saw and its seven sequels. Which may or may not be relevant. But I am always a little disappointed to hear that someone has read the entirety of one of my short-story collections or novels at one sitting.

Yesterday, I left the house for the first time in a week. Just a trip to the market, and a stop at Mama Kim's, a local Korean food truck, for dinner.

Questioning Relevance and Relativity,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (apple)
The first computer I ever used wasn't an Apple. This was June 1986, and the computer was something or another manufactured by the Kaypro Corporation. Looked like it had been yanked from a control panel on the Nostromo, that eighty-column, nine-inch green phosphor screen, 64 KB of RAM, the 2.5 MHz Zilog Z80 microprocessor, and so on and so forth. Drives for 91 kb 5¼ inch floppy disks. Remember those? Floppy disks? Anyway, I'd moved to Boulder, Colorado to go to school, and I was typing a paper for a conference—the umpteenth draft, dabbed with liquid paper—and James Kirkland (the first friend I made at UC; he was finishing his PhD) walked in and was like, "Jesus, you're still using an electric typewriter? You've gotta be kidding me. Come over here. Let me show you something." So, he introduced me to the Kaypro (in its all metal chassis) and a horrid, deafening little Okidata dot matrix printer. And it was a weird sort of love at first sight. I was using a computer. Just like on, you know, fucking Star Trek. I was fucking Lieutenant Uhura on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, writing about extinct marine reptiles! It was fucking cool.

Then, later that same year, I met the Apple IIe, with it's large screen and amber letters. It didn't look half so science-fiction, but was some how less annoying to work with. And then, in 1987, I met the Mac SE with its big grey screen, and diskettes, and a MOUSE (!!), and it was all modular and sexy and friendly and intuitive, and I fell instantly, utterly in love. It the thing broke, even I could usually get it up and running again. The computer lab became a glorious place to be. I made up excuses just to be there. Need someone to input all your data on the relative dimensions of the ammonite phragmocone, with possible relevance to sexual dimorphism? Sure, I'll do it free, and, besides, it's a chance to skip an organic chem lecture.

But it wasn't until 1993, back in Birmingham, Ala. that I got a special Apple student loan to buy my own machine, an Apple Color Classic. Of my very own. That I could take home! And here was that lovely 10″ Sony Trinitron color monitor, 512×384 pixel resolution, and sure, it only had 4 megs of memory, but later I was able to bump that up to 10 megs. I named her Pandora. And everything from "Persephone" to "Apokatastasis" on that lovely machine. I used AOL and Usenet and played SimEarth. I took it to Athens, Ga with me (1994), then back to Birmingham (1997), then to Atlanta (2001) and right back to Birmingham the same year.

But while I was in Atlanta, in October 2001, I bought a reconditioned Mac iBook, and slowly transitioned from Pandora to that machine, which I named Victoria Regina. I used this laptop until April 2007, when I took part of the advance from my shitty little Beowulf tie-in "novel" and bought the iMac I've been using ever since. She's named Arwen, and memory is measured in gigs, and there's over two hundred thousand colors on her huge LCD screen. That's only three Macs in twenty-five years, with virtually no crashes or trips to the service guys or anything. So don't tell me Macs aren't wonderful machines. Don't tell me they don't work for shit. Because I have the experience to know otherwise, a quarter century of it.

Oh, and I've also had two iPods (Moya and, then, Inara) I'd still be on my first, but it had a run in with an unfortunate very powerful magnet on the trip to Oregon a year ago). Pandora needs work on her screen, and Victoria still runs just fine, and I expect to be using Arwen for many years to come. The only reason I don't have an iPad or iPhone is that I cannot present afford either on my freelancers income.

And yesterday Steve Jobs died. It's messed with my head in ways I can't articulate. He was my Tesla. Something like that. He spawned wonders that changed the world, for better or worse. To quote [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy, who I hope won't mind being quoted: [Jobs took] those thing that Apple had -- the weird idea that you'd want to have a sort of electronic Rolodex you'd carry around, that you can take notes on, that would schedule your appointments, the idea that you'd want to be able to talk to your computer and have it do things, the idea that a computer didn't sit on your desk, but that it belonged in your pocket, the idea that you could read a book on your computer and it could have sound and it could have video -- he took those things and he made them work.

It is very safe to say I never would have had a writing career without Apple. I can't even begin to fathom the Microsoft boxes and their unintuitive Windows interface (a creation stolen from Jobs and Wozniak by that ferret Bill Gates, then mutated into something nightmarish). I never would have had the patience to learn to use PCs, and my style of writing, I fear, isn't conducive to typewriters. Am I member of the so-called "Cult of Apple"? Maybe. I really don't care. But I would have liked to see Jobs get a little more time, and I am grateful for his work. It's safe to say I'm going to be mourning the loss of him for a while.

----

I can't tell you what I worked on yesterday, or what I'll work on today. But it's a crazy-lot of work, and it's going to be awesome beyond belief. Oh, and Sirenia Digest #70 went out late last night.

Late, I read Thomas Ligotti's "Conversations in a Dead Language" (1989), which I'd managed somehow never to read, and which I found oddly disappointing. I all but worship Ligotti, and hardly expected the disappointment. Most of the tale is fine, and I loved the twins in their gender-reversed wedding attire, but then the whole thing is spoiled by a silly "horror" story ending.

And now I gotta so. Many, many words before I can rest. Oh, there are typos in this, I'm sure. Spooky, she'll help me fix them later.

Goodbye, Mr. Jobs,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Eli2)
Earlier, I said that yesterday I added one sentence to The Drowning Girl, and [livejournal.com profile] thimbleofrain asked what it was:



This isn't precisely an answer, but I'm nowhere right now that lends itself to precise answers. Still, it is an honest answer.

Cause there's no comfort in the waiting room,
Just nervous pacers bracing for bad news.
And then the nurse comes round, and everyone will lift their heads,
But I'm thinking of what Sarah said,
That "Love is watching someone die."
– Death Cab For Cutie
greygirlbeast: (sol)
Someone should really tell whatever moron/s started using "baby bump" that it sounds like a disease. Then again, we are referring to pregnancy.

---

The heat is unrelenting. Yesterday, we were essentially confined to the middle parlour and bedroom, as the temperature in my office exceeded 90F. In the "cool part of the house" the temperature reached 86F. Somehow, in the haze of heat and being too addled to get work done, we stupidly managed not to flee for to a library or some other AC-protected place. We stayed here. All day. And around 7:30 p.m., my body temp went up to 100F, and I stopped sweating, and I started slurring, and...yeah. So, I spent the whole evening cooling my body down as best I could. The fever broke quickly. The meds that make me sensitive to heat were likely responsible. At least we head out to Readercon 22**** tomorrow and get three nights of AC. Also, if you are owed an eBay package, we apologize, but it won't go out until after the convention. Monday or Tuesday. It's just been too hot to pack books and get them to the p.o.

---

A terrible, strange dream just before I woke. I lived in a house at the end of a small lagoon or inlet. I was younger, maybe a teenager. There was a thin and frightening man outside our screened-in porch (side of the house, an old house) speaking Yiddish. I called to my mother, and when he spoke to her, he spoke English with a Russian accent. There were great trees, like pecans and oaks, all around the house. Later, we went somewhere, and when we returned home, and I saw that there were men in the water "walking" dolphins, the way one does with sharks or dolphins, trying to revive them. There was a sort of turn around, and as my mother used it to point the car towards the driveway, I saw more dolphins far up above the shoreline. They were tangled in a fence, though the fence was really fishing net, and the dolphins there were actually ichthyosaurs. Thick underbrush grew all around the netting. I wanted desperately to help. I got out of the car, and, looking back at the inlet, saw that the water had become violent, a great frothing, sloshing mass, churned by the trawling nets of gigantic factory-fishing ships that hardly even fit into the tiny body of water. The snap-on heads of yellow rubber ducks were washing up onto the shore. There was a child greedily gathering them. An orca had stranded itself, and I tried to help it, but was afraid, and never went very near. In the foaming white water, orcas and sharks and dolphins and ichthyosaurs all struggled to stay clear of the nets that were pulling up great mountains of fish. And this is all I can remember.

---

My thanks to everyone who left comments yesterday regarding "triggery." Some were quite good. I was especially amused by [livejournal.com profile] lady_theadora's:

I first saw these trigger warnings when Coilhouse began to use them all the time, as you've previously mentioned, and I think they're pretty damned redundant. I mean, really, you're on the fucking internet people. You're always one click away from porn, snuff, and/or Nigerian royalty. If you haven't figured that out yet, maybe it is time you learned.

Indeed. And the thing with Coilhouse posting those warnings, it was almost enough to make me stop reading the zine; Coilhouse posting "triggering" warnings is like the Sex Pistols apologizing for...well, anything. Absurd. Anyway, yes. I have a story, which I've never told publicly, and which might be too personal and TMI and all that, but I think I need to tell it, as partial explanation, and in response to [livejournal.com profile] lm. Unfortunately, there's not room here to post [livejournal.com profile] lm's entire comment (this is going to be long, as it is), but you can see her/his full comment appended to yesterday's entry. I'm also dropping paragraphs from the quote, to save space (and I apologize for that). There are slash marks where graphs end and begin. In part, [livejournal.com profile] lm writes:

...I have definitely been in a situation where it would have been incredibly helpful to be warned about potentially "triggery" things./Namely, when my mother hanged herself several years ago, I frequently found myself watching films with unexpected scenes of someone being hanged or committing suicide. This was something I was working very hard NOT to picture or think about, and as a result, I basically stopped watching new visual media for about a year - and because my primary social outlet was a film night, this turned me into a hermit, which also really wasn't great for me at the time./I did actually search online to see if there was an online database of non-friendly-to-suicide-survivor films, but there was none./I really didn't expect any handholding through this problem, and the only time I was genuinely annoyed was when people who knew my recent history recommended movies/shows to me that ended up containing said "triggery" material...but on the other hand, I wouldn't have complained one bit if the media had contained a disclaimer!

Okay. Now, that said, here's my story:

On Christmas Eve 1995, five months after the suicide of Elizabeth, the person whom I loved most in all the world, I was alone in the carriage house (where I was living) in Athens, Georgia. I'd spent the evening writing one of the last scenes in Silk. It was an especially graphic and disturbing scene, and I finally said fuck it, I can't do this, not that night, not alone. I drove to a nearby theatre (I was still able to drive back then), and bought a ticket to the first movie on the marquee, which was the vapid Jumangi. When it was over, I still didn't want to return to that empty house, and so I bought a ticket to see the midnight screening of Heat, with Al Pacino, which turned out to be a halfway decent movie. Anyway...

Near the end of Heat, Pacino's character's daughter, played by Natalie Portman, attempts suicide by slitting her wrists in a hotel bathtub. This is precisely the way that Elizabeth had committed suicide (the big difference was that the Natalie Portman character lived). The scene was graphic and well-played and emotionally sort of devastating. Maybe not to everyone, but to me. I watched it. I didn't look away. I cried through the rest of the film. When the movie ended, I went home and went to bed.

Now, was the film "triggery"? Well, yeah. Certainly, in that it put me right there at the moment of Elizabeth's suicide and elicited an intense reaction from me. But was that something I should have avoided? Should I have been furious or resentful (or whatever) that no one warned me? Should I have complained to the theatre management and demanded my money back? Should I have posted to Usenet, warning everyone? To all these questions, my response is an unqualified "no."

Seeing the scene, being forced unexpectedly to confront it, making it real for me in a way it had not been, was the true beginning to my road to learning how to live with a pain that I knew would never, ever go away. Oh, it would dull with age, and with other relationships (though it was almost a decade afterwards before I found myself in a meaningful relationship), but I will always, always be haunted by the event. And, by the way, I'm not a suicide "survivor," because I didn't attempt suicide. I'm a bystander. I'm someone who dealt with the consequences. Maybe that's just a matter of semantics, but I feel it's an important distinction.

In the years to come, I would spend a lot of time in therapy dealing with her suicide. I would spend almost all my writing time writing about it (and I still do); suicide is a primary theme in my fiction, especially the novels. And it was by these means, by persistently and directly confronting the greatest horror in a life that had had no shortage of horrors, that I reached a place where, usually, finally, I no longer wanted to follow her. Not by flinching or avoiding or staying away. By facing the truth head-on. And I'm not an especially strong person. At least, I don't see myself that way. I did what my therapists advised, and what felt right to me, and by happenstance, beginning with accidentally seeing that scene in Heat. Oh, it fucking hurt, yeah, sure. But it was also my path to recovery.

So, my point is simple. I do not - will not - accept that we recover from the tragedies of our lives by avoiding the fact of them. We do it by confronting the fact of them, and art - in all its forms - is one path by which we can do that. I don't see this as a "your mileage may vary" thing, either. You look into the abyss, and the abyss looks into you, and you keep looking and don't dare turn away. You tell the abyss, "You can't have me yet." (to murder and bend the words of Friedrich Nietzsche) You learn to understand and cope. But you don't flinch. You don't look for warning labels so you'll be protected from the truth. You develop calluses, scars, and this changes you forever, and it makes you stronger.

Oh, and my thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kaz_mahoney for this quote from Akira Kurosawa: To be an artist means never to avert your eyes.

And this is long. And that's enough.

Not Ever Flinching,
Aunt Beast

Note: I have requested NOT to participate in an official signing at Readercon this year, so if you want stuff signed (and I'll sign as many books as you bring), I'll be signing after my reading and my How I Wrote Two Worlds and In Between solo talk. And, if you catch me in the hall, that's usually okay, too. Common sense dictates when it's not okay to ask me to sign (restroom, when I'm eating, when I'm having a conversation, when I'm rushing to get to or leave a panel, etc. - yes, all those scenarios have actually been played out).
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: (mucha)
This is a post I meant to make a couple of days back, but better late than never.

Thursday May 19, 2011, the woman that Frank Frazetta once called "the greatest living painter," Jeffrey Catherine Jones ("Jeff Jones"), died. If, like me, you grew up in the 1970s and '80s, reading magazines like Heavy Metal and novels by the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fritz Leiber, Andre Norton, and Robert E. Howard, then you are likely familiar with the work of Jeff Jones, even if you have no idea who she was.

In particular, a lot of people don't know she was a transwoman. She also suffered from mental illness, and to quote Wikipedia, "In 2001, she experienced a nervous breakdown and lost her home and workspace. In 2004 she had her own apartment and started producing work again."

And now another visionary is gone from the world, and we are poorer for the loss. There are some examples of her work behind the cut.

Wondrous Things )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Diana Wynne Jones has died. She was born on August 16th, 1934.

"Pretending was like that. Things seemed to make themselves up, once you got going."
Fire and Hemlock (1985)

---

Just read an article online about the increase in the US Hispanic population, now the second largest ethnic group in the nation (50+ million, accounting for 16.3 percent of the U.S. population of 308,745,538). And then I made the mistake of glancing at the readers' comments, which, in the main, consisted of racial slurs and cries of alarm about impending white extinction. My favorite, some idiot blaming abortion and gay rights for the "fall of the white man." What do you say to shit like that?

---

Spooky and I thank everyone who helped to make our first Kickstarter project an enormous success. When the donation period ended last night, we had 212% of our funding. So, The Tale of the Ravens will happen, and Goat Girl Press is born. Thank you all.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,125 words on "Random Thoughts Before a Fatal Crash." It's a strange start to a strange story. It may not even be a story, precisely. But then, the title says that.

There was also a lot of non-writing writing busyness. And I signed contracts. And stuff.

I'm loving Markus Zusak's The Book Thief.

And I'm tired and dreamsick, and just want warm weather and the sea.
greygirlbeast: (starbuck1)
My favourite song du jour. Two official videos. I love that the first strays towards House of Leaves:




...and the second version, which puts me in mind of Watership Down and the Black Rabbit of Inlé:



In darkness and light,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Neytiri)
The Dancy Box went up yesterday at 2:23 p.m. CaST. It is going...well, it's amazing how well it's going. My thanks to the bidders. Also I should note that the proceeds will be going for an eye exam and new glasses I've needed for years. Also, there are a couple of other items up on eBay, and I would feel remiss not mentioning them.

Yesterday was a pretty fine day, in almost every way that it could be (except I didn't go to the sea or have lasagna). I finished up the layout of Sirenia Digest #60, and did a little last minute tweaking on "The Prayer of Ninety Cats." I reworked the Table of Contents for Two Worlds and In Between, the "best of CRK" collection (this is the fifth version, by the way). I have decided that the book will now be limited to stories written between 1994-2004. If Volume One does well, Volume Two will cover the years 2005-2015. Which means I'm halfway there. I also located a new cover artist for the book. I also also spoke with my editor at Dark Horse, and that's what I'll be working on today. Spooky and I read all the way through Chapter One of The Drowning Girl, and I'm extremely pleased with it. I'll be starting Chapter Two at some point in the next few days.

Yesterday, the mail brought my contributor's copies of The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2010 (edited by Paula Guran), which reprints "The Bone's Prayer." Opening the box, I almost stabbed myself in the right leg. Which I take as a hint that my hands are now trembling too much (meds side effect) to continue using my old butterfly knife as a letter/box opener.

Last night, we watched Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman's 2009 documentary, Cropsey, which should stand as an example of how not to make a documentary. Bad, stupid film. Afterwards, we leveled our orcs— Garóna and Margdah —to Level 27. I've got this goofy idea of getting Garóna to Level 40 before our guild's Goblin-a-thon, which will begin on December 7th. By the way, if you're a guildless player planning to roll a goblin toon, we'd love to have you on Cenarion Circle. In particular, we're currently seeking a goblin who will tank. By the way, post patch 4.0.3a, the Horde is so much...Hordier. It seems that the days of unlikely alliances are gone, which makes things much more interesting.

Afterwards, we read more of Shirley Jackson's The Bird's Nest.

Tuesday night, Spooky and I watched the extended cut of Cameron's Avatar, which adds sixteen minutes to the film's running time. Often, I find that "director's cuts" or "extended cuts" do little in the way of bettering a film. Other times, I'm amazed the shorter version was released. The extended cut of Avatar falls into the latter category. Not only does the film open on Earth, which provides much needed contrast for what is to come, there's some crucial characterization in these extra sixteen minutes. For that matter, there's a whole subplot that was absent from the theatrical release. I'm speaking of the story of what happened at Dr. Augustine's school and to Neyteri's sister, Sylwanin (a character who isn't even mentioned in the shorter cut). These scenes inform much of both Augustine and Neyteri's actions (and happen to include Sigourney Weaver's best lines). Also, we get Tsu'tey's death scene, which is handled very nicely, and, again, adds depth to the film. So, highly recommended. The extended release only made me love the film that much more. Four out of four stars. It's a beautiful film, an earnest film, and a good film (which, of course, makes it an easy film to mock and deride).

Very cold and sunny here in Providence, and it looks like that's our forecast for the next few days. I've begun looking forward to snow.

I learned this morning that [livejournal.com profile] dragau, who frequently posted to the LJ, died on September 22nd. The news came via [livejournal.com profile] xjenavivex. People stop by here, and they says things. Only very rarely do I know when one of them dies. And it's a strange feeling. And I don't know what to say, except we all make ripples in the fabric of the world and the lives of those around us. There are big ripples, and little ripples, but no ripple is any more or less significant than any other.

Time to make the doughnuts.
greygirlbeast: (chi6)
I'm become such a wikipede of late, you'd think I wouldn't be one of the last folks on/in the dratted "blogosphere" (hate that "word") to do this meme. But there you go.

Three events, two births, one death: May 26th

1828 - Mysterious feral child Kaspar Hauser is discovered wandering the streets of Nuremberg.

1897 - Bram Stoker's novel Dracula goes on sale in London.

1917 - A powerful F4 tornado rips Mattoon, Illinois apart, killing 101 persons and injuring 689. It was the world´s longest-lasting tornado, lasting for over 7 hours and traveling 293 miles, spreading death and destruction along its path.

(Maybe you don't see a pattern here, but I sure do.)

---

1799 - Aleksandr Pushkin, Russian author (d. 1837)

1955 - Masaharu Morimoto, Japanese chef

---

1995 - Friz Freleng, American animator (b. 1905)

One down...

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greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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