Thursday, November 27, 2003

Words of advice for Justin Timberlake: If your ex-girlfriend disparages your manhood, it does no good to have/let your grandmother defend you. That is all.

Authors writing about their pets can be a sugary-sweet thing, but I'm usually a sucker for it, especially when it's about a cat. And Jeff Vandermeer writes wonderfully about his cat, Pretty Ugly, which died recently. It's a nice story and he shows the cat, warts and all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Well, my novel for National Novel Writing Month is almost done. Actually, the story is done. It just came up about 8,000 words short, so I'm writing a long afterword about the writing of the novel. Kind of like a commentary track on a DVD, except more rambling. So I should be done in a day or two (it's much easier for me to ramble on about myself at length then it is to write a story that way.) After that, I should be back to more regular blogging.
I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving and eats a lot. I'll be seeing you after the holiday.

They have a first trailer up for Hellboy. It seems to have all the right elements: Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, big tentacled things, Rasputin, Nazis. But it also has this Xmen thing going on, something about hiding the facility from the public. That was something never dealt with in the comic book. But even that has its good point, Jeffrey Tambor plays the politico. So, here's hoping it's good.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

More than 100 whales and 10 dolphins beached themselves in Tasmania.

Monday, November 24, 2003

It's getting to be Christmas shopping season, so here's a little something everyone would like: A purple frogskin stereo theremin.

3 a.m. magazine has an interview with Michael Moorcock. (Link via Bookslut.)

Friday, November 21, 2003

Who knew the "B.C." newspaper comic strip could be so interesting. A controversy has erupted over one strip which shows a character enter an outhouse at night, slam the door and then say "Is it just me, or does it stink in here?"
The strip, when I read it, just seemed a rather unfunny joke, nothing unusual for comics pages these days. But some people have taken it as a slur on Islam. The image includes six crescent moons, which is a relevant symbol to Islam, and the word "slam" (which some argue seems unnecessary) is written upright, as if the word were an "I", therefore, somehow, translating to Islam.
The strip's author is an evangelical Christian and has done religious strips in the past. But he denies he put any anti-Islam message in the strip.
Personally, I just see it as an unfunny joke that unintentionally had a few too many symbols for its own good. But the article offers a lot of interesting insights on the issue, including the idea of ignoring authorial intent.
It's probably the most thought put into a "B.C." comic in ages.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

The Guardian picks the 40 best directors and David Lynch makes No. 1. It's a good list, whether you agree with it or not, and has a lot of interesting choices. They are especially conscious of directors outside the English-speaking world, people like Takeshi Kitano and Takashi Miike. Good stuff.

Margaret Armen, one of the first successful female TV writers, died. She wrote for both "Star Trek," "The Rifleman," "Wonder Woman" and "Land of the Lost," therefore I love her. Here's a listing of the episodes she wrote.

A woman is suffering: "'I looked at him in the face and said: 'How would you like to walk around on the verge of an orgasm every second?' And he shut up.'"

Terry Teachout gives a good account of the National Book Awards, in particular Stephen King's speech and the little acknowledged response to it by Shirley Hazzard.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Interesting story on a caretaker looking to preserve the Easter Island head stones.

There's an interesting thing going on. At twinkle twinkle blah blah blah etc., a blogger writes that an anarchists' party was broken up by police. At HereIType, another blogger gets a short firsthand account of what happened.
What's interesting about all this is that there hasn't been any report on this, except for a small one in the Daily News, apparently. So, really, bloggers are the only one doing the journalistic work on this thing. That's kind of exciting, if they follow through on it.
However, traditional alternative media have already gotten wind of the story. Here's an account from Pacifica Radio, which is a liberal (radical?) radio show played locally on WPKN. And here's a version from infoshop, an anarchist news source.
Now if there was only some reporting from straight media to give a more "official" account of the story.
I'm always interested in seeing first hand reporting by blogs, but I haven't seen too much of it yet.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Here's an interesting article on "Topsy Turvy" and its use of "The Mikado." The article goes into great deal about Gilbert and Sullivan's intentions with the opera and seems to get it right. But why question Mike Leigh's use of the opera? It seems obvious to me that it was a crucial time in Gilbert and Sullivan's partnership and that's why he chose it as the subject.
As for the racist aspect, the opera certainly has that in it. But Leigh doesn't hide from that. The movie offers up the musical without comment. He expects his audience to be smart enough to make up their own minds about the musical and its political intentions, aspirations or unintentional messages.
And Leigh makes it explicitly clear in the movie that England at this time was a very racist place, that racism was not only accepted but was considered common sense.
I just don't see the problem. The movie tells the story of how it was. The director obviously loves Gilbert & Sullivan, but he doesn't give them any free passes. I think the director expects you to make up your own mind without any heavy-handed politicizing.

Here's the classic tale of the exploding whale. You'll need Quicktime to enjoy the blubber blast.

Looking around on the Web, I just realized that Tuesday is the 25th anniversary of the Jonestown mass suicide. So let's see what Jonestown linkage we can find. This one is first up at Google and seems to be created by a former Peoples Temple member. Looks like it has a lot of info. Here's a conspiracy theory about the events that transpired in Guyana. Here's the FBI's version gathered from the Freedom of Information Act.
Here are the lyrics to Concrete Blonde's song "Jonestown." (For some reason, I can't find lyrics that include the words in the third line of the second verse. Odd.)
Anyway, spend a little time on it and I'm sure you could find a lot more.

How could you not read a story that starts like this: "Large groups of screaming women passing dildos between their legs may sound like a scene straight out of a porno movie, but it is actually a sight that is becoming more and more common in suburban homes nationwide."
I'm also curious how a newspaper allowed the phrase "cock rings" to appear in its pages. (I would also be surprised if "f-ckerware" got into my paper.)

Friday, November 14, 2003

Attention: If you go to Yale don't drink from the water fountains. I'll only warn you once.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

I've never seen a story so monumentally stupid. It's a guide to watching TV, starting with "1. Take the TV schedule and chart your viewing. You wouldn't wander into a movie theater without knowing what you're going to see. "
Who needs this? Is there anybody who looks at that box in their living room and is not quite sure what they should do with it? (Link via the great TMFTML.)

Here's a really interesting reflection by Jay McInerney on Raymond Carver as a writing teacher. The article makes me want to go back and read more Carver stories (which I do all the time, anyway.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor wrote your book. Not much escapes
your notice.

Which Author's Fiction are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wow, I'm Flannery O'Connor. It works for me, although I've only read a few of her stories ... and she's a woman ... and she's Southern. Still, can't complain.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Short interview with Michael Moorcock on his character Jerry Cornelius.

I should be writing my novel right now. I'm not, because I'm a filthy, filthy procrastinator. Bad me. I'm up at 16,024 words and I want to be at 18,000 by the end of the day. So I'd better get to it. The lack of posting continues at Weirdwriter.

I have soft spot in my heart for gentle manatees. It's always sad to hear they are dying at increased rates. It doesn't help to be slow moving, gentle creatures in waters infested with humans.

I took one of those obnoxious quizzes everybody takes and then puts a link to on their blog. (You know, like the Kaiju quiz I put on a month or two ago.) This one tries to determine what religion is right for you. I got Mahayana Buddhism, which is weird, I always thought I would be a Theravada Buddhist. You just never know.

Friday, November 07, 2003

This article at Slate is spot on about what was right about "The Matrix" and wrong about the sequels. Meanwhile, Roger Ebert has gone crazy. He likes the film, he hates the film, his sister, his daughter. He thought it was pretty, so he'll forgive all the other details.

Well, I saw The Matrix Revolutions, and I now realize the Wachowski Brothers have never seen a metaphor they didn't want to beat into the ground until it cries for mercy.
Here is what's good about it: It is exciting. Lots of beautiful battles and escapes and visions. And the message is not a bad one, if overly sappy and drawn out and hammered on again and again and again (and if I seem to be hammering that home, well I learned it from the Wachowskis.)
What's bad about it: It's drawn out. It could have been chopped by a half-hour. I don't mind sitting through a long film, I just don't want the same things to flash before my eyes over and over.
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss still have no chemistry. Nobody liked their "love" scene in "Reloaded" and I never liked the ending to the original "Matrix," though I could (barely) stomach it. But so many scenes between them is absolutely dependent on that chemistry and it's just not there. I blame this on Keanu Reeves, just because I want to.
Oh yeah, and the symbols were WAY TOO OBVIOUS. Not just the ending either. I loved the Merovingian and his wife in the first one, but in this movie, they just spell out what he's supposed to be. You know Trinity goes through hell to meet them, they're both dressed in red, etc etc.
And then there's the Train Man, or whatever they call him. He plays the same role as the Key Master in "Reloaded," a huge walking plot device. Ugh.
Enough, I was disappointed. The action scenes are still good. The message isn't all bad. But the movie disappointed in a major way.

Here's an entertaining account of Lou Reed's Book Party. Apparently, Lou Reed has a small dog and Salman Rushdie likes all of Martin Amis' stuff.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Fascinating post at Forager 23: J.R.R. Tolkien vs. Robert E. Howard. I'm particularly interested in this at the moment because I'm writing fantasy for Nanowrimo, but it has always been an issue I think about. Tolkien and Howard were my introduction to fantasy and my inspiration to be a writer. By necessity, the story I'm writing is more Howard than Tolkien (I didn't spend anytime creating a world; instead, I work episodically, trying to think up the wildest thing possible while I'm writing, a much more Howardian style of writing.) Be sure to read the comments on that post too, they add much to the discussion.

And you can hear the sound a herring makes here: New Scientist.

Scientists say they have figured out what the mysterious sounds herring makes are:
"But a team from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver say the noise matches bubbles coming out of a herring's anus." is running an interesting thread on what part of the body is your state? Of course, this being Fark, people have taken off in all different tangents. Here are my favorites for Connecticut:
Connecticut - We're bigger than Rhode Island
Massachusetts is the alcoholic rich uncle, and Connecticut is his gay boyfriend.
Connecticut -- The state that owns please return to work so we can go back to sipping cocktails by the Sound.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

OK, that's it. One man-nipple blog item too many. (That last entry comes from the excellent Twinkle Twinkle Blah Blah Blah by the way.) I have to go to work, my day has been eaten by Nanowrimo. See you.

You must see this gum commercial from Europe. Too bizarre for words. (You will of course need a Quicktime plug in.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Unfortunately, that's it for me today. It's Election Day, so I have to get into work early and start getting the paper ready. Also, I actually want to vote in the local election, so I need to get out and do that too. This is going to put me a day behind in Nanowrimo, but really what can I do?

Romanian doctors extract living plant from boy's nose. "As the boy didn't cry or tell his mother anything, it sprung to life and had little leaves when we found it."

Monday, November 03, 2003

If you haven't already noticed, my comments generator seems to be acting kinda funky. For a while, it was reading as if there were zero comments, when there was actually one or two. So I'm not ignoring you if you wrote a comment! Keep writing 'em, I love to see them. I'm going to have to start looking into another comments generator.
And to JCF: Thanks for the info on the Nova episode about JFK, sounds fascinating. What I really want to know is if the angle of the shot is really all that difficult. I remember some study suggesting that most marksman couldn't hit the target from that book depository window. Oswald was reportedly not that good a shot, so I think this is one of the crucial bits of information.

Nanowrimo continues. I'm at 4,000 words or so. And I realize, I really need to plot out some more of my story. I'm running into brick walls everytime I put fingers to keyboard. A farmer in my story is forcing me to come up with answers, he's asking a lot of questions I don't know the answers to yet. Uppity fictional farmers. Once I answer his questions, I'll probably be able to sail along in the story. (God, I hope so.)
The forums at Nanowrimo are abysmally slow. I think they've quadrupled the number of people taking part and it's just bringing their machines to a halt. Oh well, it keeps me from getting distracted.
Some of the other CT wrimos met tonight (Sunday night). I hope they had a good time. I hope to make it to a few more of these events. It seems like we have some interesting people and I'd like to get to know them better. I don't know enough writers in my life.
Anyway, I should be spending this time writing my story. But until I work out some plot points, that's not likely to happen. Alright, time to knuckle down.

So I picked up two of the Continuum - 33 1/3 books, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and "Forever Changes." If I had known the Velvet Underground book was out, I probably would have looked for that too. I picked these two because I actually own those albums. And to put my biases out front, I really love "Forever Changes" but I find "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" kind of boring (but I love, love, love the song "Astronomy Domine.")
But I really don't think that bias accounts for why I liked the "Forever Changes" book and didn't like the "Piper" book. They're both very different.
"Piper" was about the band. It explored who the band members were, what they were doing and what the engineers thought of them. It goes on and on about new techniques they used in the studio. It talks about how cool the shows at the UFO club were, you know, when everybody took acid, tripped out and danced maaan.
Much time was spent on the the minutiae of studio work. Most of the people interviewed were producers and engineers. There's some talk about lyrics and what the band was trying to say, but very little.
"Forever Changes," on the other hand, was all about the lyrics and the philosophies it pulls from and it offers up. It talked about the societal influences surrounding the album and the psychological influences of Arthur Lee (Love's chief musical "architect," as he's referred to several times in the book.)
The author, Andrew Hultkrans, makes references to prophecy, gnosticism, "Marat/Sade" and the Manson murders. Actually, if the book has a failing, it's that it could have been somebody's graduate class thesis paper.
That's not to say that the book is filled with jargon and deconstructionism and other boring academic crap that means nothing in the real world. Hultkrans never goes too far, he always keeps it grounded.
The main difference between the two is simply this: after reading "Forever Changes" I wanted to listen to the album again. After reading "Piper," I didn't.
There's my review, take it for what you will. I think the format of the books is great and if I see the others in stores (especially the VU, Jimi Hendrix and My Bloody Valentine books) I'll probably pick them up.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Despite the weird things the government did with her story, I don't think Jessica Lynch did anything wrong and she probably deserves the couple million she'll make off her biography. But it's nice to know that people are writing about the other soldiers who did the real fighting during that ambush. This Miller guy doesn't seem like the kind of guy I'd get along with, but he does seem like one brave man. Good to see he's getting some recognition for it.

Smelly grasshoppers have afflicted people with asthma in Sudan. How freakin' weird is this world?

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Well, I've gone and done it. The first 2,000 words of my Nanowrimo novel are done. I've given it a title: "A Brother's Duty." I don't know if I'll stick with it, but it focuses on one of the themes I thought about for this story.
I realized, as soon as I started, that I'm going to pay for not having thought out my plot more. I keep coming up short as I realize I don't have a name for this person or that city or this religion or whatever. If you don't have an obvious goal in mind, it gets harder to write towards one. So I'm going to try and think more about where this is going.
At least I managed to get ahead of the game. I need to do at least 1,600 every day to make 50,000 words by Nov. 30. Last year, I got stuck with trying to do 5,000 in one day. It was fun, but it was sort of awful too, trying to pound out that many words when you can't think of anything. I want to keep this at a more even pace.
I'll probably write some more tonight to get further ahead.