Friday, October 29, 2004

Article on horror writers

Although this article starts out with the obnoxious subhead "Horror is back, but this time with attitude and a sense of character development" and says things like "And some of those younger writers are telling stories in a hipper way, moving away from the standard widow’s-peaked vampires, moon-howling werewolves, and decaying zombies", it's actually a pretty good article profiling the prominent members of the Horror Writers Association New England chapter. Among the authors profiled: Jon Merz, Holly Newstein, Rick Hautala and Christopher Golden. There's also a brief look at the horror fiction business.
(Link via Bookslut.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Giant squid news

Well, I've nearly let a whole season of giant squid news get by me. So here is some quick links about giant squid and a few other creatures of the deep, enjoy.

  • A giant squid that washed up in New Zealand in August has been confirmed as one of the largest ever found.

  • Greenpeace is fighting to stop bottom trawling, a technique that uses nets to scour the bottoms of the ocean, destroying everything else in its path. Among the many species endangered by bottom trawling, according to Greenpeace: Giant Squid.

  • There's some unusual behavior by squid (with pic) in the northwest. Imagine a beach covered in dead Humboldt squid.

  • And most importantly, the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University in New Haven has the opening of the exhibition "In Search of the Giant Squid." It's going to be at the museum until January and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the giant squid. At the exhibition, I learned of another fascinating cephalapod: the Vampire Squid:
    William Beebe (1926) described V. infernalis as "a very small but terrible octopus, black as night with ivory white jaws and blood red eyes". Despite this horrific description, V. infernalis is a rather docile animal, and most often hangs motionless in the water column, with only slight movements of the fins for balance.

  • Not a cephalapod, but interesting nonetheless: scientists have managed to recreate an ancient sea spider, adding a link in the evolutionary chain. (with pic)

  • My girlfriend won this awesome poster of "Monsters of the Deep" recently, but the film (or show?) it advertises seems to have completely disappeared. According to the seller, "The film is so rare that it is not even listed in the Internet Movie Database, but my Library of Congress book shows it to be from 1932." Anyone know anything about this film? The poster of a giant manta ray is just too cool.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Films and the story of your life

Edward Champion follows up a post by J-Fly and comes up with something for me to blog about. Here's the two step process and my answers:
STEP ONE: Name your five favorite films off the top of your head and write brief summary.

GODZILLA: A giant monster attacks Tokyo. Only one man has the ability to destroy it, but he refuses to bring his invention into the world because it will only cause more destruction. He eventually gives in, but only by killing himself and with it, the formula for the devastating weapon.
CITIZEN KANE: A man rebels against his rich guardian, starts a newspaper and becomes a rich tycoon. In the process, he loses the ideals he once stood for.
ROYAL TENENBAUMS: An absent patriarch returns to his family to stop his wife from remarrying. In the process, he learns what he has missed and decides to make it up to them.
NIGHT OF THE HUNTER: Serial killer hides behind the word of God and tries to get the secret of hidden money from two children. They escape downriver and are only saved by the kindness of a true Christian woman who takes in stray children.
STAR WARS TRILOGY: (OK, technically not one movie) Young Skywalker is thrown into adventure and finds religion. In the process, he redeems his father who has been turned to the dark side.

STEP TWO: "Chances are, those films will tell essentially the same story. And chances are, your films will tell that story too. Because that is your story."
So here's what I see the common theme to be: People sin in some way and must take responsibility for their actions, otherwise they are destroyed.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The Fortean Bureau Blog

The Fortean Bureau, a great place for speculative fiction online, now has The Fortean Bureau Blog. It's a collection of weird links. You know, the kind of thing I used to do when this blog was updated on a daily basis. Or, more recently, what Professor Hex does so well.
And speaking of The Fortean Bureau, they've started running a column by Nick Mamatas, called Please Kill Me. The second episode is about the kind of literary writer that would appeal to speculative fiction readers. Well worth your time.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Writing: Avoiding it and new gadgets for it

Rick Klaw has written a fun article on the strategies writers use to avoid writing. Jonathan Carroll uses the word pochkey for the way writers find paper clips and dirty dishes far more fascinating at the moment they need to write. I also like Jeffrey Ford's justification for avoiding writing:

All that brain bubbling, day dreaming, loafing, is part of the deal. Actually, it's an important part of the deal. Show me someone who can't squander time sitting in a graveyard, drinking MD 20/20, or engage in a contest against a kid to see who has the truer aim with a dart pistol, training your sights on a wind-up penguin, or teach a dog how to sing Jingle Bells, and I'll show you a potential failure at the writing game. When my wife catches me on the couch, napping, I tell her, "Hey, baby, I'm the hardest working man in town."

All this is even more interesting to me because I've gone ahead and signed up for another year of Nanowrimo. I'm also trying to write a few other things before October is finished.
To facilitate all this writing I want to do, I've picked up a new gadget. The Alphasmart Neo is basically a keyboard with a word processing program attached. It's smaller than a laptop and hooks up to your computer through a USB cable to download your writings.
The good thing about this is the Neo offers nothing other than writing tools. No Internet connection. No games. And I won't be locked down to one room. So now I'll have no excuse not to write. I ordered the Neo last night and am told the company usually delivers in a week. I'll write my thoughts on it after I receive it.