greygirlbeast: (Default)
The snow's still out there. Most of it. The sky is cloudy, and that's a relief. I feel sort of shitty for not having gone out in the snow when it was still fresh and powdery and clean.

Have you ordered The Drowning Girl: A Memoir? And Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart? No? Well, Herr Platypus says that if you do it today you can ride the pterosaurs for free when you get to heaven. And he's a monotreme of his word.

---

Yesterday, for Sirenia Digest #74, I began a new science-fiction short story, "The Diamond Friendly." Sort of crime noir circa 2056 (I think). I've been wanting to write this piece for about a month, and yesterday I said fuck it and got started. Oh, and I should say, up front, I wouldn't being doing the story without [livejournal.com profile] corucia as a consultant. This one isn't art crime. This one's biocrime. Gene hacking. I'm still looking for the word that would fit the deed. Regardless, hard story. Slow going. I wrote only 1,007 words. Here's an excerpted paragraph (you're welcome):

They named him, in the grid-slicks, the wordless, spare-no-blows spill across the plex and subplex, they dubbed him Zoo. Of a certain, not the prime serial interspec alteration “artiste,” only the most elusive and, possibly, the most fecund (setting aside the likelihood that many re: at large, unapps skidding neath the radar, by hook and by crook). Zoo, he got hisself infamy and fame and phat martigen straightaway, possied up quick as light. Fuck All My Enemies, F/A/M/E. Ah, but. Mistake to think Zoo cognates along those straights. Or, maybe mistake, as we do not know Zoo’s motives entire. He claimed others, >.>, but maybe the ZOhBee lied it all before going ocultado, thant you. This agent, she don’t think the dick was in it for F/A/M/E, cult, spots, the gory smooth outs transmitted (which, note, did not come from the criminal, but all from the plex-subplex yellows. Each and all, god bless us everyone.) In his subtle not so subtle way, Zoo never advertised. He gave the chota fucks just enough to know he was out there, and catch me if you can. Like Monsieur Leather Apron of old. Tease, you are. Nuff to keep the peep on, Dear Boss, but nowhere near enough to tune up and apprehend. Part of me, she admires you for that. d(^_^d) Oh, and not being all about the mass-celeb chinaal after the fashion of so many others, and predecessors, and copeekats (we have cause to suspect he planted most of those, btw).***

---

A note to everyone who contributed to the Tale of the Ravens Kickstarter: Yes, we'd hoped to have finished it many, many months ago. But our schedule sort of exploded when so many thing started happening with Alabaster and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and...other stuff. And suddenly I needed Spooky fucking constantly for all the things that a wealthier writer would have hired a personal assistant (Is secretary no longer PC? If so, that's a bloody shame.) to tend to for me. We're talking LOTS of annoying shit. Shit that just happens, and if I'm going to get any writing done, someone else has to attend to it. Anyway, this is my apology for monopolizing all her time. The project was conceived a year or so ago when I was far, far, far less busy. That said, we hope to have it finished by the end of March. Soon, the rewards to contributors will begin going out, pinkie promise. But they will be going out in stages, likely the postcards and prints first. But I just didn't want anyone to think we were slacking off.

---

My career seems, for the first time in a decade, to be sorting itself out. Now, I just have to keep the rest of my life in check. Or get a grip on it. Whatever. The diet's part of that. I've got to start exercising regularly, and sleeping more. I'm playing much too much SW:toR. MMORPGs will kill you, Bill Murray. More reading. Less time at this desk. More contact with human beings who are actually in the same room as me and aren't wielding lightsabers. This is what I have to do. Resolve, that's all it takes. Not that this winter's helping.

Last night, I did manage to read a chapter of Christopher McGowan's The Dragon Seekers, a very fine book on Victorian paleontology. I also read Rhoda Levine's Three Ladies by the Sea (illustrated by Edward Gorey), which seems like a metaphor for my entire life. Spooky made an excellent dinner of black-eyed peas and collards. But now, to sloppily paraphrase Laurie Anderson, the day stretches out before me like a big bald head. It's Sharkey's Day today. Sharkey wakes up and Sharkey says: There was this man... And there was this road...And if only I could remember these dreams...

Daily,
Aunt Beast

***Copyright © 2012 by Caitlín R. Kiernan (Steal this and I will hunt you down, slice out your innards, and feed them to you before you die that slow painful death you've spent your sad, sick life trying to avoid.)
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Comment!

Spooky just quoted the Agricultural Commissioner of the state of Florida to me. "This snail is one bad dude," she said. Well, she said, he said. These are our mornings.

Yesterday, I didn't work. My body isn't exhausted. I've actually been getting more sleep than I did for a long time (finally having discovered the effective anti-insomnia cocktail...for me), but I've been working so much. For a long time, I was truly too ill to take on more than...this gets sort of funny. Even when I was very ill, I was working a lot. I'm making a living as a freelance, and so there's no choice but to work. Health is not relevant, not really. Regardless, about a year and a half ago, I began getting better, and taking on more work, and conceiving new ideas, and, at this point, I go to sleep working out problems in my fiction and wake up doing the same thing. Okay, more the former than the latter. But it's catching up with me, and my mind and nerves are tired. All thus fucking work. So, I didn't work yesterday.

I suppose autumn is here. I haven't spent much time outside, but it must be here. I feel it. It isn't looking in. Why would it bother? But I feel its dry brown eyes upon me, if only because I'm in the way. Not that I believe the autumn is something that can literally have eyes. And speaking of the autumn, and Hallowe'en, Spooky is having a Hallowe'en Sale (!!!) in her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries. 20% off on everything! And if you don't buy something, she'll get sad, and when she gets sad.... Well, trust me. You don't want her sad. So, please...buy something. The necklaces are truly amazing.

Actually, I hate that word. Sad*, I mean. It's a child's word. There at least twenty synonyms in the English language that are far more suitable to mature vocabularies. Of course, if you are a child, by all means, good word. Use it till the wheels fall off.*

I'm having a great deal of frustration as regards futurism at the moment. I don't mean the artistic movement that arose in Italy about 1910 (including Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, Antonio Sant'Elia, Tullio Crali and Luigi Russolo, plus the Russians Natalia Goncharova, Velimir Khlebnikov, and Vladimir Mayakovsky). I mean futurism in the many senses that it is employed by those who wish to analyze trends and then forecast. But I don't mean those looking for better futures (there are none), and I don't mean those who believe the future can be accurately forecast (that's almost impossible; not quite, but almost). What I have in mind is far simpler: communicating to people that the future will be alien, just as the past is alien. That is, alien to us, from the Here and Now. And convincing people they do not currently live in some incarnation or portion of the future (excepting that this came after that; well, that's bloody obvious, and now you're even older). I mean, the future will be different, and the farther you move into the future, the stranger (less like now) it becomes. That everything evolves, and not just technology, but culture. SF writers have an especial problem with evolving culture, economics, biology, medicine, politics, and especially with evolving language. But...I'm not actually concerned here with writers. Even the worst SF writer is ahead of the curve in this regard. I'm talking about...oh, never mind. You can lead a horse to a fine Bordeaux, but it's just gonna want the oogy, muddy, stinking water in the drinking through, where all the rodents poop. Some will know of what I speak; others will not.

Did I mention that Spooky is having a Hallowe'en Sale (!!!) in her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries. I did? Just checking.

Last night, we happened to see a rather good movie, Christian Alvart's Case 39 (2009), with Renée Zellweger, Ian McShane, and Jodelle Ferland. I went in not expecting much, and was pleasantly surprised. You could call this a "horror movie," and maybe it is. But I find it more interesting to think of as a film about terror and horror (and those aren't the same emotions, you know, regardless of how linked they may be). Also, while this film clearly comes from the demonic child/possession tradition, it immediately struck me as a story about a fairie changeling, and (though the word demon is tossed about a couple of times, and we see a crucifix and a Bible, the Xtianity thing is almost absent). So, it may be Alvart had something far less concrete than a "demon" (sensu Xtianity) in mind. It may only be that he understands the American mind, needing something familiar, would fix on "demon." Anyway, Case 39 is not a particularly original movie, so if you're that sort (and I hope you're not), don't waste your time with it. It plays old tropes, but it plays them well. It's not brilliant, but it is good, and it's stuck with me. There are elements it borrows from better films, but it borrows them well. And, even in an ending that might seem hopeful, step back, and you'll see the overwhelming bleakness and horror still in play. It's streaming free on Netflix.

Later, I read a truly awful story in the Halloween anthology, Lyllian Huntley Harris' "The Vow on Halloween." Never heard of Lyllian Huntley Harris? Well, neither had I, and with good reason. The anthology's editor (who freely admits this tale is "pure pulp and quaintly romantic") notes that the story was, in a 1985 anthology, mistakenly attributed to the Irish novelist Dorothy Macardle. Turns out, though, it was published in Weird Tales in 1924, by a Georgian woman (that is, Georgia, USA), and her name was Lyllian Huntley Harris, and she couldn't write for shit. Virtually nothing else is known about her. She died in 1939.

Oh, we saw the first episode of Season Four of Fringe, and...wow. More, please. I am impressed and pleased. There are points I could get picky about, but I'm not going to, because the show is just too much fun.

Also, here's an interesting bit of trivia. My first rejection slip ever came from the late, lamented Twlight Zone magazine in 1982 (at least, I think it was '82). The story was a stinker, and it deserved the rejection, believe me. Anyway, at the time, the editor was T. E. D. Klein, who wrote the excellent and surprisingly (to me) successful Machenesque novel The Ceremonies (1984) and the shorty-story collection Dark Gods (1985), and, sadly, very little else. But, yeah, my first rejection slip came from T. E. D. Klein, who, turns out, wrote the introduction of the forthcoming Hippocampus Press collection of Arthur Machen stories, which will feature the afterword I wrote in 2008 for a different collection of Machen stories. It's an odd little twist of fate.

Um...well...I have gone on haven't I?

Inveterate,
Aunt Beast

* Then again, there's really nothing wrong with the word sad. Not intrinsically. The problem is people who use it childishly, habitually, with marked naïveté. Usually, these are people with a stunted world view.
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: (Narcissa)
0. You'd think there's a limit to how dry sinus passages can get, but you'd be wrong.

1. Yesterday, I wrote 1,044 words on "Random Notes Before a Fatal Crash." I didn't get to THE END. There were too many distractions, mainly in the form of email. Ever heard of being "driven to distraction"? Maybe that's a Southern thing.

2. Never rely on spell check. No, not even then. No, not then, either. There are these things called dictionaries. There are even versions of these mysterious dictionary things online. Use them.

3. To wit, someone should tell whoever writes ad copy at Amazon.com about the value of dictionaries (see above). I just saw this ad on Facebook:

"Do the men in your live [sic] drive you crazy? Buy this book and laugh about it, or dump him and get a puppy."

Ignoring, for the moment, the sexism and heterocentrism, focusing only on the text, you'd think that a twenty-two word ad that's going to be seen and read by millions of people would be proofed for misspellings and proper word use. Sure, I make mistakes in my blog. But I have far fewer readers, and my entries are usually about a thousand words long, not twenty-two.

4. I was sort of...I don't know...perplexed at how many people wanted to know yesterday why I hate Facebook. I mean, on the one hand, the transgressions of Facebook are the stuff of internet legend. On the other hand, it's my prerogative to hate Facebook, with or without Cliff's Notes (Really, once upon a time, CliffNotes were Cliff's Notes; the future cannot afford apostrophes or spaces between words; they're so pointless.). And, for what it's worth, I hate Twitter, too, though not as much as FB. Most days, I don't hate LiveJournal. The key is likely substance.

5. New Radiohead! (No, I don't have it yet.)

This town's so strange.
They built it to change.
And while we're sleeping, all the streets they rearrange.

(Arcade Fire)

Off to Fuck the Bozos,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Great bit over at the Coilhouse blog, "Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die.”, referring to Patton Oswalt's recent Wired article of the same name. Here's an excerpt:

Both essays make the point that “we’re on the brink of Etewaf: Everything That Ever Was—Available Forever. But where Joshua Ellis suggests that we’ve won the culture war by essentially remaking the world in our image, Patton Oswalt argues that ”with everyone more or less otaku and everything immediately awesome… the old inner longing for more or better that made our present pop culture so amazing is dwindling.” This, he warns, produces “weak otakus” – not a generation of artists, but one of noncommittal pop-culture consumers. “Why create anything new,” he asks, “when there’s a mountain of freshly excavated pop culture to recut, repurpose, and manipulate on your iMovie?” The proposed solution to this problem steers the essay into a weird, fantastical place. In order to rebuild geek culture, Oswalt argues, we must first bring about the “Etewaf Singularity.”

Here a link to Oswalt's Wired article. Food for thought.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Thanks to the new (very expensive) medications, my insomnia is vastly better than it's been for years. But last night, I was awake until sometime after four, and then only got to sleep because I'd taken Ambien (which I dislike doing). Then I woke from a nightmare at eight, to construction noise from next door. And that was it. No getting back to sleep for me. I got up so the tossing and turning wouldn't wake Kathryn. So...now I have to manage to stay awake until tonight.

Yesterday, I did as little work as possible. But I did do a small bit of last minute editing on "The Maltese Unicorn" and sent it away to the anthology's editor. But mostly it was a "day off," after the insanity of Sunday and the big push to finish editing the short story.

I read Chapter Four of Gaining Ground by Jenny Clack ("Setting the Stage: The Devonian World"). I read the first part of Tales of the Slayers (Dark Horse), and especially liked "Righteous" by Joss Whedon and Tim Sale. Spooky made chili for dinner. Afterwards, we watched two short films by Nacho Cerdà, who directed The Abandoned (2006)— Genesis (1998) and Aftermath (1994). Both were very well done, though I was far more impressed by Genesis. Then we played WoW, leveling Gnomnclature and Klausgnomi to 30, before switching back to our main toons, Shaharrazad and Suraa, who we left stranded in Icecrown a couple of months back. That was yesterday. Oh, and the toilet broke. No, wait. That was day before. Night before last. Whichever.

Spooky got the new Rasputina CD yesterday, Sister Kinderhook, though I've yet to listen to it.

I know it's the future, and the world sucks extra hard now and all, but...my life would be at least 3% less annoying if the internet were not plagued by idiotic emoticons. Right now, I think the worst offender is— XD —though, I have to admit— o.0 —is a close fucking second. Oh, and— <.<, >.>, and >.< —are also nigh unto unbearable. These emoticons pretty much brand the user a total moron, even if the user is, say, Stephen Hawking. I actually sort of miss the days of ;-P and :-) and :-(. Things were so much simpler back then.

There are people on Earth, right now, who honestly believe all sentences should end with "lol."

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, which end this afternoon. Thanks.

Er...and I have a few photographs from the Museum of Comparative Zoology, before the day went to crap:

13 June 2010 )
greygirlbeast: (Walter1)
1. I began yesterday's entry with the following line: It's a dream-kill-dream world in here..., which I attributed to David Bowie. Then someone asked which song, in particular, I was quoting, that they'd googled the quote and come up with nothing. I had it in my head the line was from "Get Real," which was originally meant to be part of Outside (1995), but didn't make the cut. Turns out, I was wrong. Indeed, I cannot presently trace the quote to anything Bowie has written— or anything anyone else has written, for that matter —and it's all gotten alarmingly odd. It's used as an epigraph in my chapbook B is for Beginnings (2009), where I thought I'd attributed the quote to Bowie. Only, I didn't. I did not attribute it to anyone. So, now I have no idea where it might have originated. Did I write it? Did I find it online somewhere, on a page that has since vanished? At this point, I can't say. But if anyone should happen to solve this mystery, I would be grateful.

2. Yesterday, I began a new vignette, presently called "Untitled 35." I wrote only 624 words, for a number of reasons. Mostly, I got started very late in the day, around 3 p.m. (CaST). However, another problem goes back to what I have often said about science fiction (yes, "Untitled 35" is sf), the problem of linguistic evolution. Very few authors have ever managed to deal with this convincingly when writing about future societies. In my eyes, even Anthony Burgess' excellent A Clockwork Orange (1962) falls short in this regard, and Burgess was a trained linguist. Anyway, point being, in this new piece, a first-person narration, I am struggling to create a somewhat plausible "future language" for a late 21st Century Boston.

Of course, it needs to remain comprehensible to readers in 2010, which hobbles me considerably. But I am always galled by futuristic sf (even the stuff I like) that doesn't at least make some effort to deal with linguistic drift and evolution. Stories set two or three hundred years in the future, in which everyone speaks perfectly understandable English, and so forth; I consider this a far worse offense than "getting the science wrong" (though, technically, this is a matter of anthropology). Ideally, films and stories set that far ahead would need subtitles and glossaries. Think of it this way: Imagine you're living in 1820, in England, and somehow happen across a copy of William Gibson's Burning Chrome. Just how much sense would it make to you?

3. The final cover design for The Ammonite Violin & Others is now up at Subterranean Press, though I've neglected to post it here. Another great piece by Richard Kirk:



4. And now, another day begins. I apparently have no say in this, which seems odd.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
1. I've been reading the reports coming out of Haiti. In a nation where so many buildings are not built to withstand strong earthquakes, a magnitude 7.0 is very bad. The earth moves, in some places more than in others.

2. I see that the Vatican does not approve of Avatar, and I'm wondering why this is even news. Did anyone think they would approve? More importantly, why the hell should I care? I don't, of course. But I am annoyed that the media is treating this as relevant.

3. Yesterday, no work of any sort was done, not really, because I had to brave Outside, to reach the wretched fucking Providence Place Mall. The time to buy a few shreds of clothing had come. I loathe shopping. And I especially loathe shopping for clothes. Few things have the power to make me feel worse about myself than trying to find new clothes (which is why I only shop for them maybe once or twice a year). Finding clothes that will fit, clothes that will fit that I like, clothes that will fit that I like and can afford...I could go my entire life without ever having to shop for clothes again, and I'd be a happier woman. But, that said, there were sales, and enough useful items were found that the trip into that howling maelstrom of consumerism could be justified. So, I won't be forced to do the Lovecraft Unbound reading at the Montauk Club in the nude, which is a good thing, given the weather.

4. On the way back home, we stopped on Wickenden Street so I could get some photographs of the old I-195 overpass that's being torn down this week. I'm not sure why, but somehow it's an important Providence landmark for me. I remember it from my first trip up here, back in 2000. There are photos below, behind the cut. The support structure of iron girders that you'll see, those were added as the bridge became structurally unsafe sometime back. I'm going to try to get more photos later in the week, as the demolition progresses. I hope to get better shots of the murals and graffiti on the walls of the overpass before it's all reduced to so much rubble.

5. I have been very fortunate with The Red Tree, in terms of Amazon "reviews." From August 4th until this morning, it stayed at five stars, which is the longest any of my novels have managed that. However, when the book was included on Amazon's "Top 10 Books: Science Fiction & Fantasy" list and then the holiday sales spike, I predicted more negative reviews would begin to be posted. And I was right. Two or three are the sort that I struggle not to complain about publicly: readers who can't relate to and don't like reading about lesbians*, readers who don't like reading about flawed or unpleasant characters, readers who take issue with the book's extensive use of older texts by other authors, and so on, and so forth. However, I am more experienced, and very slightly wiser, and I understand that those reviews will likely have no impact whatsoever on sales. Sure, the stupidity and small-mindedness and what I suspect to be homophobia eats at me...but I need to look the other way. And also thank everyone who loved the book and has already posted a positive review.

6. Last night, we went to the Avon on Thayer Street and saw Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Gods, what a brilliant film. I see I was entirely justified in including it high on my list of the best fantasy and speculative films of 2009. I'm wondering, though, if it ought to be tied for the number one slot with The Road, with Avatar staying at #2. Yeah, I loved it that much. It flawlessly speaks the language of dreams, never wavering from dream logic, never succumbing to the "needs" of narrative or exposition, and it allows our eyes to roam among indescribable marvels. I was pleased that it was grimmer than I'd expected. Tom Waits is delightful. Really, there's nothing here to complain about. Nothing at all. I won't say for sure that it's Gilliam's best film, but it's certainly now one of my favorite Gilliam films. It was a perfect end to a pretty decent day (despite the fact that we almost froze on the way home).

7. Just something I scribbled in my Moleskine last night, a stray thought I want to remember: "Here is the future, and the future is ugly, and poisonous, and filled with wonder."

8. While we were in the wretched fucking Providence Place Mall yesterday, I heard The Sundays' "Here's Where the Story Ends." Back in the early 90s, the Sundays were one of my favorite bands. They were also one of Elizabeth's favorite bands. Something we shared. After her suicide, I could no longer bear to listen to the Sundays. But hearing the song yesterday, I began thinking I would like to try to "reclaim" the Sundays. I've managed to do it already with The Cure's Disintegration (but not with the Cowboy Junkies). So..we shall see. Few things are as poignant, for me, as music.

9. Today I have to go over production notes on The Red Tree for Audible.com, as a number of things that worked great on the page need revising for the forthcoming audiobook. They are small problems. I'll post more about this tomorrow.

10. I did promise photos, didn't I? Well, here they are (not great photos, but they get the point across, sort of):

12 December 2009 )


* If you are one of that sort, be warned: The central characters in my next novel, The Wolf Who Cried Girl are lesbian and (maybe) transgendered.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Some interesting Twitter data has been brought to my attention today. Chiefly, a new study by a researcher at the Harvard Business School (Piskorski, Mikolaj Jan. "Networks as covers: Evidence from an on-line social network.") which used a random sampling of 300,000 Twitter users during May of 2009. Among other things, the study shows that "...the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets," and that, in this respect, "...Twitter's resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network." Here's a link to the online report on the study.

Pikorski finds "Twitter's usage patterns are also very different from a typical on-line social network. A typical Twitter user contributes very rarely. Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one. This translates into over half of Twitter users tweeting less than once every 74 days." And there's some very intriguing stuff in this article on gender and Twitter.

Also, there's a piece at CNet on the lack of loyalty displayed by Twitter users towards the service, as compared to MySpace and Facebook: "Twitter Quitters Post Roadblock to Long-Term Growth" by David Martin, Vice President, Primary Research, Nielsen Online.

Martin writes, "Currently, more than 60 percent of U.S. Twitter users fail to return the following month, or in other words, Twitter’s audience retention rate, or the percentage of a given month’s users who come back the following month, is currently about 40 percent."

Curious stuff. I also was unaware that Twitter got a 100% boost from an Oprah mention, though the boost doesn't appear to be translating into repeat offenders.
greygirlbeast: (chi2)
Exquisite bits from 1st Avenue Machine, with Sirenia Digest subscribers in mind. Yes, they are car commercials. You're welcome.







greygirlbeast: (blindchi)
I think the worst of this bug has passed. I gradually began to feel better yesterday, and by last night, much of the discomfort had abated. This morning, it's mostly post-nasal drip and sniffles. So, that could have been a lot worse.

I wrote 1,371 words on "At the Gate of Deeper Slumber" yesterday, and reached THE END. Today, I'll read through the whole story, and I think I'll be doing a lot of polishing and tweaking afterwards. It seems a little more rough than usual, what with me having written it while sick and all. Remember, this one will appear in Sirenia Digest #41 at the end of the month.

Also, the first-pass page proofs for The Red Tree arrived yesterday. I have until May 7th to get them back to NYC. It's starting to look like a novel, this thing that I'd hardly begun writing this time last year. That never ceases to throw me a little. I was talking to Kathryn about The Red Tree late last night, mostly about how it's not really connected to all the other novels, and how I intend to push it the way I pushed Silk, way back when. I have some hope, some small hope, that it might reach a wider audience than my earlier novels.

Last night, Spooky went out and got a pizza, and we spent the evening binging on Season 6 of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, including one of my favorite episodes, "Once More, With Feeling." We watched that one twice, actually, because we let it play a second time with Joss Whedon's commentary. We had the bedroom window open until late, and the air smelled marvelous.

You know, I'm genuinely beginning to miss the world where "google*" was a relatively obscure mathematical term, where "yahoo" referred to "a crude or brutish person" (derived from the Yahoos of Swift's Gulliver's Travels), where "Amazon" referred either to a South American river or to Ἀμαζόνες, a nation of fierce female warriors. When a "blackberry" was a fruit, and "twitter" was just a noise that birds made. When phrases like "bluetooth" and "facebook" and "livejournal" meant nothing whatsoever (well, there was Harald Bluetooth Gormson), and to send someone mail, you needed a stamp. I've been feeling even more nostalgic than usual. Also, I'm beginning to have trouble properly allocating the resources I have available for worry, between the economy, Pakistan, melting ice caps, and now the swine-flu outbreak in Mexico. Is this the darkness before the dawn, or the calm before the storm? I'm guessing the latter.

* Okay, yeah, I know, technically that was "googol" (the digit 1 followed by one hundred zeros), but, fuck it, it was such a great way to begin the paragraph...
greygirlbeast: (white)
Here in Providence, it's snowing again.

Not up to a genuine entry right now, however I need to say that the FREE gift to Sirenia Digest subscribers will be going out TODAY. As I said before, it's a 12M+ file, but only two people have asked that we not send it, so I must assume that everyone else has an email account that can handle the file. And it really is something cool, even if I do say so myself (and I just did). However, we expect problems. If you don't get it, let us know (here's fine), and we'll try to work something out so that you will get it.

A reader emailed me last night imploring me to get a Twitter account. And my response was something like, what, isn't the crap I post my Facebook account trivial enough? Which is to say, no, I shall not Twitter. I did find this bit from an MSNBC article by somebody named Helen A.S. Popkin on "Twitter hate" (the "new black") rather well put, though (the general upshot of the article is that "old" people hate Twitter, because of this whole Logan's Run vibe, which I figure has at least a shred of truth to it):

Twitter hate )

But yes, I do hate Twitter with a passion that makes me froth at the mouth and snap the heads off songbirds. I hate Facebook almost as much, but one day I got bored and had a moment of weakness. I simply cannot fathom this obsessive need for constant and inconsequential connectedness*. But, then again, I also have no idea who Jack Bauer is. And, yeah, it's getting hard to deny the "old" factor at play here. You can only catch yourselves bitching about "kids these days" just so many times before you have to own up to the fact that you're no longer the hip, young zygote you once were. But that's okay, too. And now, I'm going to watch the snow....

* Keep in mind that not even once in my whole life have I ever "texted" anyone, and I hardly even use the phone anymore.
greygirlbeast: (sleeps with wolves)
It's over. And it's just begun. Then again, any sense of actual stopping and starting is likely only our need to divide a continuous world into discrete, discontinuous quanta. But, either way, Ex-President Asshole has flown away home to Texas, and President Obama is, if nothing else, a good damn reason to hope that there is hope. Today is the first time in sixteen years that I've watched a presidential inauguration, and I am genuinely glad that I did. Sure, there was that bastard Rick Warren, but it finally occurred to me that he was selected so that we would all have a chance to turn the sound off, a chance to leave the room, a chance to get up and take a piss. And the Reverend Joseph E. Lowery's benediction more than made up for whatever I didn't hear Warren say. I wish I had something to write here that I felt was truly the equal to what I have seen televised from Washington today, but I don't. I am amazed, and, beyond that, well, let's see how this thing plays out. For my part, I am not ashamed to say this man, President Obama, is presently a hero in my view.

About half an hour ago, I removed the green rubber 01/20/09 bracelet I've had on since sometime in June. I'll now put it away in a drawer or a box somewhere. It's history.

---

Yesterday, I finally sat down and composed a rather longish email in response to my editor's suggestions regarding revisions to The Red Tree. But, though wordy, it was not a very contentious email, as she and I largely seem to be in agreement regarding the manuscript. Or maybe it's just that I'm becoming more agreeable in my old age (Spooky says "No, it's not that.")

The snow has begun to melt. It's a white, slushy world out there.

Thanks to a suggestion by Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay), I've decided that Sirenia Digest #37 will be an Edgar Allan Poe tribute issue. Which opens up all sorts of fascinating possibilities.

We watched Carlos Brooks' Quid Pro Quo (2008), which I went to with very little in the way of expectation and was quite impressed. I was especially impressed by Vera Farmiga. I'd strongly recommend this film (and ignore the description of it on Netflix, because it is much more than a little inaccurate).

If you've not yet ordered a copy of A is for Alien, hey, why not do it right now? That way, you can say, "This is the book I bought the day that America started picking up the pieces and working together to move on." Well, at least, that's what I'd say.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
—— President Barack Hussein Obama, January 20, 2009
greygirlbeast: (chi3)
I did manage to determine yesterday that a) I spend far too much time on the journal (1.5-2.5 hrs. per day, on entry composition alone, so say 45-75 hrs. per month), but b) it has become indispensable as a means of self promotion. Without it, the books would get little support, and without it, Sirena Digest, which has become my "bread and butter," the thing that pays the rent, would likely not exist. This re-evaluation of the time I spend on the journal was prompted by word of a new study regarding the amount of time that Americans spend "working" vs. "playing," which shows a substantial drop in leisure time since 1973. I largely blame excessive connectivity.

Yesterday, I sort of went back to work. It was time for the "vacation" part of the semi-vacation to end, and I was in such a foul mood, and it was so cold out, I figured that I might as well work. First, I tried to make sense of all the anthologies I've been asked the write for. I see I have stories due in May, June, and July, and that's going to be a crunch, what with Joey Lafaye coming up. Afterwards, Spooky and I started reading over "Emptiness Spoke Eloquent," which is being reprinted in The Very Best of the Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, as the story representing Volume Nine (1998). Now, this is a short story that I wrote in November 1993, fifteen years ago. Well, actually, it's more complicated than that. The first half was written in November '93, and then the second half was written in the summer of '97. It hasn't been reprinted since it appeared in my collection From Weird and Distant Shores in 2002. Which means I've not looked at, much less read, the piece in about six years. And, being me, I couldn't just send it off to Steve without going over it. And here's the me of Now reading the me of Then, and I'm not awfully happy with what I see. So, yesterday was spent reworking much of the language in the first part of the story. I still have the second half to go. It feels like utter madness, when I'm so tired, and there's so much else to be done, and I could have just sent in the story as is. But "Emptiness Spoke Eloquent" was only the third short story I wrote for publication (we're not counting the genuine juvenilia and college crap), and it bears very little resemblance to the writer I have become. It's an artifact (all the stories are, but this is an old artifact), and I can't help but "fix" certain things before I see it reprinted again (this will be it's fourth appearance in print, since Autumn 1997).

Of course, this is not an isolated case. I virtually never allow a story to be reprinted without making at least minor edits. Usually, they are more than minor.

Unexpectedly warm today. Warm and very windy. It's 60F as I write this.

Elsewise, yesterday was that black mood (which is only very little improved today). I did get some reading done. Chinese for dinner, fried rice and wonton soup. We watched two more eps of Doctor Who (Series 4), the two-part Sontaran invasion story. And then we watched the latest episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which I thought was quite a bit better than usual (maybe it was the absence of Thomas Dekker). Then we played enough WoW that Shaharrazad and Suraa both made Lvl 38. Booya. My black mood was well matched to slaughtering ogres in the Alterac Mountains and humans in that little Syndicate hovel along the shores of Lordaeron Lake. The humans make better sport.

Okay. Enough of this for now. I've been at this since 11:28 ayem, and now it's after noon.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 2)
Very, very not awake this morning, and stricken with dreamsickness. It's become an issue again. I wonder if Sarah Crowe is to blame. Of course, if she is, that means I'm to blame.

I suppose I'm over the hump as regards my self-imposed "catching-up" trick of doing at least 2k words per day for three consecutive days. Yesterday, I did 2,190 words on Chapter Eight. I'm thinking, at this point, I am no more than six thousand words from the end of the book. That's probably 4-5 days, which will just leave me enough time to get Sirenia Digest #35 done. Maybe in November I can take a very short breather. But, more likely, not until December. I have to get all the final corrections to A is for Alien off to Subterranean Press sometime in the next two or three days, because the book goes to the printer late in November. The time just melts around me.

---

Theres a problem; feathers, iron,
Bargain buildings, weights, and pulleys.
Feathers hit the ground before the weight can leave the air.
Buy the sky, and sell the sky, and tell the sky, and tell the sky.


---

I think I failed to make myself clear when I made the addendum entry yesterday regarding time displacement. For one thing, I wasn't saying that this is a new phenomenon. And, looking back at the bit I took from Wikipedia, I think that's fairly clear (though the wiki article only carries it back to television, really). I would say this is, obviously, a process that has been at work for millennia (Why the hell does LJ not know how to spell millennia?), so long as human beings have been devising ways to employ technology to fritter away "spare" time and alleviate boredom. Before the internet, television. Before television, telephones, movies and radio, before movies and radio, mass-printing books, and so forth. But, to me, it seems as though there has also been a process of acceleration at work, and that the problem is not so much one of kind as one of degree. The Culture of Distraction has been with us for ages. However, it is, I think, experiencing a sort of exponential growth now. The internet, I suspect, changed the rules a bit. And I was certainly not pointing any fingers yesterday, unless I was pointing one at me.

I do not wish to live my life in mass media, or on the web, taking social interaction via virtual contact. I wish to live it in the world. However, the world is very, very hard for me (and we need not go into all the whys), and here is this great seduction, making it so easy for me not to make the huge effort required to step out into the real, external world. And, for that matter, not to buy clothes that aren't rags, or get enough sleep. This is my journal, and here I am speaking most emphatically to me. I spend far too much time online, hiding from the world. I am striving to do better, because I would like to see myself consciously work against time displacement in my own life. I do not see it as an acceptable alternative. It is nothing I desire. For my part, I'll take beaches and city streets, libraries, forests, crowded bars, and comfortable parlors filled with genuine conversation between people I actually know. Those are the things I have to find my way back to, and those are the things that this computer so successfully serves to substitute. But, in my eyes, it is no fit substitute. It's a tool that needs to be treated as a tool, and as an occasional source of entertainment.

As for others, as regards time displacement, I am not here to either validate or invalidate how other people choose to live their lives. Maybe I should be, but I'm not.

And that's what I meant to say.

---

We have eBay auctions ending today. Please, please take a look. Thanks!

---

Postscript (1:40 p.m.): I was pleased, by the way, to learn of Colin Powell's strong support of Obama's bid for presidency. I was also pleased by this bit I just read in [livejournal.com profile] curt_holman's blog: Colin Powell seemed particularly angry about the accusation, stoked by some McCain supporters, that Obama is a Muslim--and not only because it's inaccurate: "The correct answer is 'He's not a Muslim. He's a Christian.' ... But the really right answer is, 'What if he is?' Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is 'no.' That's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she can be president?" Booya!
greygirlbeast: (Bowie1)
I was an old woman, a very old woman. In my eighties, perhaps, and I had, at some point, inherited a squalid little flat in Boston that had been left to me by Quentin Crisp. I don't know how this had been accomplished, as Crisp died in 1999 and tended to live in squalid little flats and flop houses in Manhattan, not Boston. But there I was, and he had willed it to me, regardless. I had a very clear sense, not only from my advanced years, that this was happening decades in the future (2047ish?). The apartment was cold and dingy, but there was a fireplace (bricks glazed green) with a small fire, and I sat in a ratty armchair not far back from it. There was a party going on in the apartment, and there were very pretty boys in drag, and women with insect heads in elaborate latex and chrome dresses, and there were a few others, just people in Edwardian clothes, if Edwardian clothes were designed for a William Gibson novel.

My hands were so cold, and I sat before the fire, rubbing them together. Outside, it was snowing, and one of the boys kept shouting about the zombies, that the zombies were back again. Someone explained to me, very patiently, that the zombies were not zombies at all, but merely people who'd suffered severe brain damage during a long ago, brief fad of attempting to have one's mind uploaded to the internet or mainframe computers. I thought this very oddly funny, and when I laughed I had the unpleasant sensation that my dentures were loose.

There was Radiohead coming from an antique Victrola.

No one I now know was there, not even Spooky, and there was a terrible aloneness, despite the crowd in the flat. "This is what happens," I kept telling anyone who would listen. "You live this long, and this is what happens. It's just you."

At one point, I looked up, looked back over my shoulder, and Nar'eth was sitting on a chaise in one shadowy corner of the room, talking with one of the insect-headed women. She glanced at me, smiled, then went back to talking with the woman. This is the first time I've ever dreamt of Nar'eth when I was not actually Nar'eth. She'd not aged at all. I recall (it's in my notes) feeling two things upon seeing her: first, jealousy that she'd not aged and, secondly, relief that I was not entirely alone after all.

I was wearing velvet, and I think it was red velvet, but I'm not sure of any more than that, as regards my own clothing.

And then I was approached by one the cyberEdwardians, a man who looked just like a young Aleister Crowley, and he was carrying two hardback books. Both were quite old, and I asked him who read books anymore. There was a joke I can't recall, only that it was very funny, and the two of us laughed so loudly that other people stopped their conversations and stared at us. "Sign this one to Tesla," he said and handed me a copy of the black leather-bound edition of Frog Toes and Tentacles. So I signed it to Tesla. I didn't use a pen. Somehow, I wrote with my fingertip. My index finger. "Now," the man said, "sign this one to me," though I did not know his name. The book had a paper dust-jacket which was in bad shape and held together only with yellowed Scotch tape.

"Where did you find this old thing?" I asked (or I asked something very similar). I could hardly recall having written the book. The title on the cover was Post-Industrial Paganism (Spooky and I discussed just such a book a few nights ago). The man told me that he'd had it since it was published, and he told me how important it had been to him, that he was so glad I'd taken the time to write it. I opened the book and the copyright date was 2015, but it was copyrighted to Nar'eth ni'glecti Mericale, not to Caitlín R. Kiernan. I told him that she was here, at the party, and it would really be more appropriate if she signed it.

No, he insisted. You sign it. I want you to sign it, but I kept stalling and flipping through the pages while he talked.

I noticed a large green parrot sitting on the hearth, nibbling at a muffin.

"Isn't there the sense that American history has ended?" someone said. "What else could possibly happen?" I muttered something to myself about that being bullshit.

There was thunder and lightning and more talk of zombies, and the man who looked like Crowley told more jokes, and at some point someone brought me a neon-blue martini.

"The war can't go on forever," one of the insect-headed women said. "People won't stand for it." And I closed Post-Industrial Paganism and gave it back to the man, unsigned. And sometime right about here I woke up. My mouth was so dry I couldn't speak and had trouble swallowing. I found my notebook on the floor (Spooky had moved it from my side to a stack of books on her side, fearing I'd stumble over it in the night) and wrote down everything I could remember. This is only slightly more vivid and coherent than my dreams usually are. This evening, I've forgotten most of it, thanks to the Ambien (otherwise, I'd probably still be hazy and "dreamsick") and only have the notes to remind me. Make of it what you will. It's had me baffled all damned day.

Maybe my prayer stalker needs to pray a little harder...

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greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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