Kenneth Hite's Friends|
[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the most recent 25 friends' journal entries.
[ << Previous 25 ]
[ << Previous 25 ]
|Thursday, December 12th, 2013|
|tomorrow's schedule involves meetings, quilts, and stamp fridge magnets
Barring it miraculously going away overnight, I do believe I have a cold.
... I am trying to convince myself that this is a positive thing, or at least not wholly negative, because with any luck it should be gone by Christmas.
It could be worse. There is Lemsip. And coffee. And lots to be doing.
|Wednesday, December 11th, 2013|
|Wednesday Quick Notes
A few years ago, my boss instructed me to write a two-page film treatment of one of our novels, All You Need Is Kill
, to help our LA office VIZ Productions maybe sell it to the movies. Well, a few million bucks and five screenwriters (including a $3m payday for Dante Harper for the initial spec script, which was actually fairly close to the book) and innumerable drafts and then Tom Cruise's input and some reshoots and the introduction of new characters and a name change, we have this:
It's not terrible. Pretty neat, actually. Less boom-boom than I was worried about. I joked on the dayjob blog that rather than "based on All You Need Is Kill
", we might say that the film is "thematically adjacent to All You Need Is Kill
." Yes, it's whitewashed, but given the sales of the books and the orders coming in for the mass-market tie-in edition, the film remains a great commercial for the novel!
In other news, I have a new essay up on BullSpec, about my new novel Love Is the Law
(which is under eight bucks, and fits in Christmas stockings, btw), in which I explain why it's actually like The Alchemist
Prognosticators seems to agree on a cold and snowy winter for us this year. From what I've so far, it looks like we're well on track even if last night's "winter storm" fizzled. I awoke to maybe a centimetre or two of powder. On the way into work after my teeth cleaning, there was a brief and lovely sunflurry. Tonight the mercury is supposed to plunge to -18℃ (that's zero Fahrenheit, monshu —
Speaking of extreme weather, Dad e-mailed me the other day to ask if I remembered what year our house in Finksburg was flooded. As it happens, I'd been researching this back in the summer and determined that it was Hurricane Eloise
(probably downgraded to a tropical depression by the time it reached us) which dropped over 14" on our little corner of Maryland. According to Dad, the owner's motivation for selling to us was getting washed out by Agnes in '72, which dropped 15" on Carroll County, earning it the designation of "Storm of the Century". If you compare maps, you'll see that the storms followed very similar trajectories, dumping most of their precipitation when they collided with the northern end of the Blue Ridge (which form the western boundary of Frederick, the next county over).
He's recently started plugging away on his autobiography again and is finally into the years I have some dim memory of, which should prompt some interesting discussions between me and my siblings this Christmas. He's been treading gingerly on events involving our mother and has even offered her the chance to review those portions before he shares them. He apologised to her for some of the dumb stuff he did while they were married, which prompted her to do the same. It cheers me to hear them coming to terms with those years after all this time.
|Roo: Daughter Knows Best
Monday, for assorted boring reasons, I was the one to drop Roo off at daycare, instead of her mother. We walk up to the door, and I ring the doorbell.
"I rang the bell, sweetie."
"Daddy, haveta knock."
"No, dear, that would be rude, I just rang the bell."
..."Okay, it's been a minute, maybe you know something I don't." [knock, knock]
Daycare teacher opens door, "Oh, good morning! Did you know the bell is broken?"
"No, but my daughter did..."
|Doses and Don'tses
For the record, per the Chicago Manual of Style
(via this webpage
), the only times you use an apostrophe to pluralize are:
- Lowercase letters: "Mind your p's and q's."
- Uppercase letters only if there would otherwise be confusion, such as with I and U (but in that situation, be consistent across all uppercase letters).
- Abbreviations that have mixed case or interior periods. "Too many Ph.D.'s."
- If you are using something that is not usually a noun as a noun, it's very occasionally the right choice, such as "maybe's".
In all these cases, the apostrophe is strictly there to avoid confusion, not for decoration.
Useful day at work: finished it with a busy evening where I more or less (barring further comment) completed edits on book 1, made a necklace and earrings as a Christmas present for my aunt, and assembled a dozen memory wire bracelets for selling at work next week. Not too bad.
What's more worrying/irritating is that I have a familiar tickle behind my throat, combined with a certain uncomfortably squishy sensation somewhere between the ears and the nose. This had better not be an oncoming cold. I am far too busy to have a cold now.
(Yes, I know that never works, but I can hope.)
|Tuesday, December 10th, 2013|
|In the can
Everyone talks about the claustrophobia of being inside of an MRI scanner; no one talks about the noise. So when the tech warned me to "expects some bangs and clunks", I was not at all prepared for the first blast of heavy thumps. You can feel them, at first they sound like they're coming from all around. Then earphones they give seem to be doing little or nothing until you accidentally knock them loose and get a brief taste of the undampened aural assault.
If the sound was way louder than I expected, it was also more rhythmic. There was a familiar quality to it. When he pulled me out for a moment to attach the IV, I asked the tech, "Do you ever listen to any Krautrock?" I rattled off some names, but he still had no idea what I meant. "You mean like Frank Zappa?" Um, not exactly. I became eager to get home and listen to some Can or Cabaret Voltaire.
Once I began to treat the experience as some kind of avant-garde immersive noise composition performance, the only difficult part became controlling my breathing. I was looking forward to forty minutes of taking deep relaxing breaths. But I had a pad with cameras draped halfway over my midsection and if I inhaled too deeply if moved out of alignment. "Just keep it nice and shallow," he told me. For some scans, I had to hold my breath, generally on inadequate notice. I eventually learned that when the tech said, "Take a breath" it really meant "Exhale NOW!" because the command to hold was coming only two seconds later.
I'm still not convinced all this was medically necessary but I guess the clinics need to make a profit off the clients with the good insurance while they can. (And I guess it makes sense for me to make full use of the good insurance while I
can.) And however much MRI technology has dropped in price over the years, it's still clearly bloody expensive. All I needed to confirm that was to step into the lobby, nicer than most hotel lobbies I've been in. And that's before
they take you back to the private waiting rooms. From mine, I could gaze out the window to the street corner below where the Old Man was ensconced in a Starbucks waiting for me.
Coco Pazzo, which he remembered fondly from his days at Northwestern Law, was just across the street so I talked him into taking me there. I was still a bit dizzy and disoriented and dehydrated and wanted a sit-down meal where my water glass would never run dry. (It never came close.) It wasn't cheap, but it was one of the more reasonable eateries around, and, I think, good value for the money. It felt like everything Piccolo Sogno had been trying to do, Coco Pazzo was actually doing right
The mushrooms in my starter were well cooked and well seasoned. They had a Ferrarese pasta dish (cappellaci di zucca
[*]) that I'd seen and been intrigued by at the other place but was glad I hadn't ordered. (Given how overcooked my gnocchi were, it would've been a disaster.) Here the raivoli-like wrappings were perfectly al dente. It's a sweet dish, even without the garnish of crumbled amaretti, but not too
sweet. The only thing that didn't wow was the apple pie, though the dollop of fresh whipped cream was quite lovely.
At the next table were a couple from Prince Edward Island. Before you think this is a credit to my Higginsesque gifts, let me say that the way I knew this was that when the waiter said the piatto del giorno
included P.E.I. mussels, the one said, "We're
from Prince Edward Island!" Well, at least she was; his vowels were as Aussie as they come. I was entertained by their accents and monshu —
was amused by the content (at least to judge from his eyerolling). Sadly, though, we left before hearing their verdict on the mussels.
[*] Or, in "frarese", caplaz ad zuca
|Tuesday quick notes
My LitReactor writing class, Start to Finish
, begins January 9th. This is an online, asynchronous workshop-style class with "lectures." Four weeks, easy to squeeze in! Good if you're working on something specific. Do sign up.
My contributor copy of Caledonia Dreamin'
came in today. See?
It's a nice-looking volume. My story is "Drive the Warlike Angles Into the Sea!!!" and I hope people read it. It was a labor-of-love type story, in that I was eager to be in this book for, among other reasons, the chance to write some Yes
propaganda (the book itself is neither for nor against). I also only got £20 for it. But these days, I feel that a lot of anthologies are fairly cynical, with themes designed either for Kickstart friendliness (e.g., Twenty Authors With Blogs!), or being created via mix'n'match—Steampunk Zombies! I liked that this one is focused closely on language and place, and was wide open as far as storytelling goes. Check it out.
Colin Wilson died last week—we wondered if it wasn't a hoax when only the Times
(of London) had an obit. It took all weekend for the other papers to get their file obits together. The UK press is playing one last round of "Bash Colin" as well, as in this sort of concern trolling into the afterlife.
Haven't seen any US newspaper obits for Wilson yet at all. The New York Times wrote about him...
back in 2005. Don't wear yourselves out, Gray Ladies!
|Numenera and the History of Plunder
I had a wonderful time at Dragonmeet and in London with the Pelgrinistas. One of the happy discoveries on returning home is that my 13th Age co-designer has a a guest blog ready to roll. Over to Jonathan.Now that Bruce Cordell’s and Monte Cook’s Kickstarter campaign for The Strange is over, we can once again pay attention to Numenera, Monte’s new RPG about exploring the mind-boggling world of the far future. Numenera is remarkable for, among other things, its emphasis on loot. The game is explicitly about exploring the mysterious world and recovering wondrous artifacts from ages past. Many of these devices are powerful enough to influence the course of a game session or campaign. They’re game-changers. In some ways, this emphasis is a return to original D&D and a reversal of a general trend in RPGs away from loot.
In original D&D, there was precious little to differentiate one fighting man from another, other than magic items. Fighters had no skills, powers, or tricks, just stats. But loot found in the dungeon made one fighter different from another. An elven cloak made one character invisible, while a necklace of missiles let you throw fireballs. Magic items dropped randomly, based on big percentile tables, so they could be disruptive. The level of a treasure determined the chance it included a magic item but did not influence which random of magic item you found. If a low-level character randomly found a big magic item, it changed the game’s dynamics. The party could now take down monsters that had outclassed them or avoid obstacles that would otherwise have stymied them. Our campaigns were thrown off-balance, but it sure was fun to cut loose with overpowered magic items.
With 3rd Ed, Monte, Skip, and I rationalized the random tables, categorizing magic items as mundane, minor, medium, and major. The idea was to reduce the disruptive effects of magic items, making loot less of a factor in differentiating characters. Even so, there were plenty of ways for magic items to have a big impact on play, especially anything that let you go invisible, fly, or otherwise substantially change the fundamentals of combat and dungeoneering. In 2007, Fourth ed took normalization even further. Magic weapon abilities, for example, were all made modest enough that each one was less valuable than an additional +1 on attacks would be. A +2 weapon with no ability is better than a +1 weapon with the best ability. That approach ensures that the weapons’ special abilities can’t disrupt game balance. Thirteenth Age follows this logic as well. Outside of the F20 tradition, loot has generally been even less important. My own RPGs (Ars Magica, Over the Edge, and Everway) have little loot to speak of, and you see much the same in Champions, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire, Feng Shui, and other significant RPGs.
An exception that proves the rule was my slim RPG Omega World, a d20 take on Gamma World. I created that game specifically to recapture some of the disruption that had been balanced out of 3rd Ed. Omega World was meant as a change of pace, without the balance necessary to handle campaigns of indefinite length. Random good luck and random bad luck were built into the game’s DNA. Like Gamma World before it, Omega World was about characters with strange powers exploring a mysterious, fallen world, hoping to find powerful artifacts from ages past. Which brings us back to Numenera.
Numenera takes loot to the next level. The very title of the game refers to the unfathomable technology left over from eight past “worlds.” Here, game-changing loot isn’t a problem to be moderated. It’s the core of the game. How do you get over-the-top loot without knocking the campaign off-balance? Monte squares this circle by giving each item limited uses, often one. Using crazy loot is part of the game, but the action doesn’t spiral out of control. Monte has preserved for us something that most RPG designers have left behind—preserved it and advanced it. It’s exciting to see Monte bucking a nearly universal trend and giving players an experience that’s hard to find elsewhere. Numenera successfully advances classic roleplaying tropes in ways other than loot, such as character identity and dungeon crawling, but discussion of those will have to wait for future posts.
- Mon, 14:03: BNAT is following me home: this truck stop has Haunted Gold on DVD. (@ Love's Travel Stop) http://t.co/2MoJRSQXxz
- Mon, 16:01: Reminder: A Reel Education will be screening Vertigo at the Parkway on December 14th! 2-for-1 tickets are only $5! http://t.co/tIECkqJRo1
- Mon, 19:26: I AM BECOME DEATH TO SNOWGLOBES. [clerk appears with broom and dustpan] (@ Love's Country Store - @lovestravelstop) http://t.co/ILSCcgN10X
- Mon, 22:10: Halfway point! WOOOOOO! (@ Knute Rockne Memorial) http://t.co/mDwLKUNpwQ
- Tue, 01:05: Oh, Missouri. I love your non-icy roads. (@ Pilot) http://t.co/2V1kqxj1ld
- Tue, 03:49: Have delivered @dmann11 to his home in Des Moines. Minneapolis, pleases turn up the heaters for me!
- Tue, 06:14: Finally in MN! 95 miles from home. Stepped out to refuel and OH GOD THIS WEATHER SUCKS. (@ Trail's Travel Center) http://t.co/w7XyQ5xdLF
- Tue, 08:15: HOME. FINALLY. Golly, that drive kinda sucked.
|well, that was fast
Took in two pairs of nice-fake-fur-fabric fingerless gloves to work today. One coworker took a look at them and bought them both on the spot. Another inquired about the possibility of muffs.
Now where did I leave the website address of that place where I bought the fake fur fabric...
|Monday, December 9th, 2013|
|On the Question "Do You Take Reprints?"
A few years ago I met an online acquaintance for a face-to-face lunch. He was a writer and wanted the inside scoop on playing essays with The Smart Set
. A genre fiction person, he was not very familiar with querying non-fiction magazines. (Hint: it's usually the managing editor or section editor.) So I gave him a few tips and a name. Then a few weeks later we met again and the guy told me, "I wrote to the editor and asked if they took reprints. He didn't write back." I didn't say anything but I did have a thought, and a prediction:
place anything with The Smart Set
And indeed I was correct. I don't know if leading with the question of reprints was really the reason, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was. TSS pays real money for real essays; why would they want second-hand material? Even in the field of service journalism, where evergreen material is constantly recycled and occasionally reconceptualized, material isn't often simply reprinted. (Reblogged, for free, by the lowlifes at Huffington Post
, sure.) You have to rewrite, localize, whatever.
And in fiction, reprints are generally worth less than original material.
Now, it is true that we are living in what I called a golden moment
for reprint anthologies. It's fairly easy to sell a reprint these days, even for the non-famous, but the markets themselves are generally reprint markets.
What I've been noticing lately is that when I make a note about wanting to see submissions or pitches for various projects I'm working on: The Big Click
, or my day job anthology Phantasm Japan
, people have been asking right away, "Do you take reprints?" Bigger names have simply been sending me
Is this a bit of advice people are getting now? "Always ask if the editor wants to see reprints before offering anything new?" Because if so, it is terrible advice. As far as I am concerned, asking this question is like tripping the editor, dropping trou, squatting over him, and easing out a big snaking turd onto his face, while shouting, "This is what I think of you! THIS IS WHAT I THINK OF YOU!! YOU LIVE TO EAT MY SHIT!"
And needless to say, those authors just talked themselves out of consideration for those projects. If I wanted reprints, I'd ask for reprints. Hell, if I wanted reprints, I wouldn't need to make even semi-public calls. I'd read in the field I wanted to buy from, and contact the authors privately to solicit the reprints. My checkbook is large enough and my projects prestigious enough that I want new material, and I want excellent new material. It's even fairly easy for me to get—when I open things up, it's partially because I'm a little dissatisfied with the material I am seeing, and partially due to the same romanticism that made Haunted Legends
the first Ellen Datlow project with open submissions, and that made Clarkesworld
a magazine with no form rejection letter.
Now some editors may disagree with me about being asked about reprints before being offered new material. Almost surely some editor will pop up and say that they like any sort of question, professionally asked. And I'd like to say: consider the source. I note that the more mental energy editors put into some notion of fairness to writers, the less concerned they are about readers. That is, they don't have very many readers. POD anthologists with 1c a word budgets, CreateSpace publishers with convention dealer's room-only print distribution, micropresses with a 1000-book list with each title selling fifty copies...they may love being asked fancy business questions like "Do you take reprints?" Then they get to give fancy business answers like "Only if it's very good!"
And some of the poor semiliterate dears will even say, "But reprints have a place in publications!" or "What about that reprint you ran once!?" as if I said anything about reprints being unnecessary or forbidden. If you are confused, go back to the top of this entry and read it again until you hit this sentence. Repeat as necessary.
I, on the other hand, am working in a buyer's market. I don't like that kind of thing, and when I was starting out it was made very clear that absent specifics one should submit or query new material, not reprinted material. It should go without saying that of course when you have an opportunity open up before you, you grab at it with both hands! And that means having something ready to go, or making time and space in your life and schedule to produce something new. "Would you give me two weeks?" is a perfectly fine, professional initial question. "Do you take reprints?" is just a way to lose an opportunity so far as I am concerned.
|No place like home
With any luck, I'll be casting about for some new reading tonight after finishing off the Su Tong: Sixty pages left and an hour of idleness ahead of me. In the meantime, I stumbled over and polished off a couple of short novellas by Yuasa Katsuei (湯浅 克衛). I remember complaining to the Old Man that I was getting tired of Japanese aestheticism and was craving something set in Korea, but most of the Korean fiction I had was either something I'd read already (e.g. Hwang Sun-wŏn) or hopelessly mediocre (e.g. my short story collections).
Yuasa filled the gap nicely: Although born in Japan, he relocated to Korea at a young age and set many of his works there. The first of the two translations included in Mark Driscoll's critical edition, Kannani
), reads in places like a Sunday travel supplement on Korea for colonial Japanese. It begins with an extended description of traditional Korean New Year's activities; later, there's a lovingly-rendered trip to a marketplace. In between, however, two Korean girls are viciously assaulted by a gang of Japanese toughs and it culminates in an account of the 'Manse' Demonstrations
following the death of Emperor Gojong in early 1919.
The second, Document of fire
), is altogether darker and pretty remarkable for the time and place in its description of the involvement of an aspiring bourgeoise (daughter of a sex worker turned colonial landlord) in leftist political activity during the 30s. It's not the best-written stuff and is pretty hacked up in places due to contemporaneous government censorship. The somewhat amateur translation also does Yuasa's text few favours. Once I read that the second work was a rush job for an academic course, it made it easier to forgive some of the clumsiness (such as some jarring jumps in tense which made it difficult to sort out what is happening in the present and what is reminiscence). Driscoll also doesn't seem at all familiar with the Korean language and generally follows Yuasa's phonetic renditions of Korean terms in the original text rather than transcribing them according to current conventions. So, for instance, yangban
is rendered yanban
. As a result, it took me a long time to track down that butchigi
referred to a variety of bindaetteok
made from soybean instead of mung bean (cf. 부침개 buchimgae
But I don't want to be too hard on a guy who's provided me access to something I hitherto had no idea existed. There's some valuable discussion in the preface (though no spoiler alerts!), notes, and afterward, although it's somewhat marred by academic fussiness. He overuses scare quotes, at one point stating "all names of countries
[his emphasis] are best placed in quotation marks" and asking us to "mentally make this correction to my text". I want to say to him, "Dude, we're all familiar with a radical social-constructionist viewpoint, put the bludgeon away."
It should come as no surprise that, although best remembered for the extremism of its final stages, Japanese colonial policy went through significant changes over the course of half a century and was initially more accommodating. Driscoll actually describes it as "post-colonialism in reverse", moving from inclusiveness and hybridisation to xenophobia and homogeneity. The initial response to the Samil Movement, for instance, was actually a move away
from violent repression to non-military policing and promotion of Korean culture. Yuasa similarly seems to have moved in the course of his career from a very sympathetic view of the conquered to something more in line with mainstream Japanese supremacist ideology.
I'm also still nibbling away at the Shōwa anthology
. I recently came across a mention of Inoue Yasushi which called him "the best writer you've never heard of". Well, I have
heard of him and, on the strength of what I've read so far
, he's not "the best" at anything--unless it's taking a promising scenario (such as the eruption of Mount Bandai in 1888) and making it over into something almost completely unreadable. Seriously, 子磐梯
is twenty pages of a tediously realistic tax-collector's itinerary followed by two pages of eruption. Fortunately, it's also the weakest story in the book so far.
The Obamacare website never had a payment interface written...
The PPACA law contains verbiage for the government to make direct payment to insurance companies to make up for shortfalls in enrollment in the first year...
Instant single government payer for everyone kicked off their insurance who can't get in their first payment by Dec 15 (the first deadline) or march 15 (The putative last deadline). The government will just pay for it all!
|Bears, bears, bears
Poor Scruffy! Most of the people in my circle--particularly those with a Jewish or RC background--are so comfortable talking about religion and their religious upbringing (if any) in such a detached even analytic way that I easily forget how the topic makes him uncomfortable. At cocktail night, he eventually fled to the front room to get away from all the talk of congregation hopping (wacky low church Prods!) and transubstantiation. (A couple of the guys were trying Lebkuchen for the first time and confused by the Oblaten
so I compared it to a communion host.)
At least he's still around. He got exasperated with me online several weeks ago and invitations to brunch stopped arriving, so I thought perhaps he'd dropped me. But we met up him at Sather's two weeks ago and Nookies the weekend after that and joked about his tendency to ascribe to malice those behaviours of mine which can adequately be explained by stupidity. (I asked him if he'd invited "Terry" from Big Tim's birthday party
and he had no idea who I was talking about because that's not actually the guy's name, so he thought I was somehow taking the piss.) I guess we're back on track again.
Somewhat ironically, here's something I wrote exactly a year ago when we had him and Graysong over for dinner:
It seems whenever I proclaim anyone in my social orbit a great new find, it's their cue to flip out on me and disappear, but they've been around long enough at this point that I think the curse may be off.
Graysong, as you may recall, is still friends but lives in Chattanooga now. And if his increased presence on Facebook is any indication, he's lonely there.
But my clever plan of using him to bring Big Tim & Co. into our orbit seems to be working. He arrived on Saturday with "Terry" (now his roommate) and another companion in tow; Hipster Doofus (the one who asked me for my penis size last time we met) came by later. The Embarrassing Acquaintance was also there and, true to form, showed up a half-hour early. I was very put out at first, but once I got over myself and started chatting, it was pleasant enough. Still, it was hard not to feel rescued when Scruffy came in at the top of the hour bearing almond roca.
Afterward at Touché, it was an odd mix of familiar faces. First I ran into Dale, who defriended me on Facebook months ago after a little spat and hasn't been in touch since. I took that with equanimity, since it's clearly his lifetime m.o., but I wasn't sure what to expect afterwards. Figuring that ignoring him would annoy him more than approaching him, I sidled up and found him more than happy to start filling me in on recent developments in his life. Shortly after, I ran into an A-lister from the old GLBs group and faced a similar dilemma but found him especially warm.
And that set the tone. clintswan —
walked in and insisted on buying me an "Xmas shot" since he didn't know if we'd see one another again before the end of the year. Later, I ran into Mr A-list again and we had a really sweet conversation about our past relationships and the songs we associated with them. (He also used the phrase "the guy who thinks he's dating me" which stood out to me as a brilliant artifact of Gay English.) But the real surprise was to find myself remembered by another face from the same era, a guy I'd hardly even talked to. And this just moments after being blown off by someone I'd bought a birthday cocktail.
At one point, I leaned over to non-sequitur clintswan —
with the observation "Men are weird". Last week, I was tidying downstairs and found a note from le Ragoton. I was pleased to discover it caused me no pain whatsoever; I just bemusedly shook my head (both at his extreme dysfunction and my willingness to participate in it), set it down, and moved on to the next thing. Men are
weird, but not so bad if you learn how to have no actual expectations of them and simply treat every good gesture as sui generis
and something to be enjoyed in the moment.
( Read more...Collapse )
- Sun, 19:22: I survived BNAT 15. Wolf of Wall Street is fucking amazing. Awesome lineup followed.Gonna fall over for a while now.
- Sun, 23:20: BNAT 15 Film 1: Wolf of Wall Street. My favorite of the night. DiCaprio turned up to 11 in a Goodfellas/Fear and Loathing mashup. WOW.
- Sun, 23:22: BNAT 15 Film 2: Harlequin, aka Dark Forces. Extremely odd Ozploitation retelling of the Rasputin story. An old face of mine.
- Sun, 23:23: BNAT 15 Film 3: The Hobbit 2: Desolation of Boogaloo. More of the same after the first one. I have Middle Earth fatigue. Has its moments.
- Sun, 23:25: BNAT 15 Film 4: The Agony and the Ecstasy, screened in 70mm. Epic movie about Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison bitching at each other.
- Sun, 23:26: BNAT 15 Film 5: secret movie. It was a joy though.
- Sun, 23:27: BNAT 15 Film 6: Popeye. Yes, the Altman musical, which exists because of Malta and a mountain of drugs. #IyamwhatIyam
- Sun, 23:29: BNAT 15 Film 7: The Dragon Lives Again, which is a martial arts fever dream with Not Bruce Lee, Not Clint Eastwood, and penis jokes.
- Sun, 23:30: BNAT 15 Film 8: Loves of Edgar Allen Poe. Seldom seen and quite fun.
- Sun, 23:31: Be right back...
|Sunday, December 8th, 2013|
|What I'ma gonna do?
It's snowing now and it's been snowing since I woke up this morning. Although it was heavy at times, it still looks like we'll only end up with a couple of inches. A great day to stay at home, you might say. But yesterday when monshu —
told me the prediction, I talked him into postponing his errands. For me, the choice between going outside when it's -7℃ and sunny and when it's -3℃ and snowing is a pretty easy one: Gimme snow! He wasn't so convinced, but he came around.
We divided up outside the liquor store; he went inside to buy smokes and I tramped over to Broadway to pick up more candles for the Advent wreath since it's pretty clear the four we bought won't get us through three whole weeks. They only had three in burgundy left so I gave into a certain nostalgia and bought a pink one for Gaudete Sunday
. The perky clerk took one look at them and asked, "Are these for an Advent Wreath?" Ah, Mother Church, you mark us for life.
After that, it was over to the Dominick's whose days are numbered on Sheridan in search of deep discounts. I didn't find them, but I did leave with all the sundries I'd been looking for. The 151 was pulling out right as I left, but in classic style, another pulled up two minutes later nearly empty. It soon caught up to the first and became trapped behind it, effectively converting two single busses into a discontinuous tandem. There was hardly anyone on it and I kept turning to the window to look at the snow. But the scenes were completely different here close to the Lake than they were further inland. The winds made the flakes dance across the pavements and for a moment I fantasised that I was driving them with my mind. When I got back near home, the streets were white and the snow was falling softly straight down.
We did the usual chores and then sat down to watch Ratatouille
. Being a fan of both Patton Oswalt and Brad Bird, I've been eager to see it, but I didn't think I could convince the Old Man to join me until a friend described it as a "love letter to Paris". He was impressed both by the spectacular nature of the animation and the many levels to the film. "I don't think it's really a movie for kids," he said and I have to say it pretty atypical for something bearing the Disney name. You have a lead (human) character who's an illegitimate child and who engages in some pretty steamy make-out sessions, a lot of discussion of the haute cuisine
, and a running time of nearly two hours. It's also pretty balsy to follow up the death announcement of your fictional chef who you based on Bernard Loiseau
with a scene of someone free firing with a shotgun.
I asked the Old Man who he identified with and besides the obvious answer (Remy) he surprised me by saying, "I liked the evil guy" (by which he meant the grim old food critic voiced--to my surprise--by Peter O'Toole rather than a voice actor mimicking
Peter O'Toole, as I thought at first). He certainly had a much more interesting story arc than you expect from a Disney heavy. Conversely, being a Disney mother once again seems to be a more fatal occupation than being a friend of either Mike Hammer or Jessica Fletcher.
My initial enthusiasm at the diversity in the kitchen waned as it became clear that the one brown man was a hectoring villain, the other was a nondescript token (giving him the line, "This is some bad juju!" was a particular low point), and the woman was there to provide a love interest/helper to the boys. (I'm also kind of wondering how French rats reproduce given that not a single one of the rodents in the film was voiced by a female.) The decision to have the human characters speak in outrrrageous axsants while the rats used various flavours of broad American was also a curious one.
Meanwhile, a stuffed pork loin was in the oven which we eventually ate with leftover trofie sauced with homemade pesto from my mother. (I wish I could say this was an evocative food moment on a par with Ego recalling his mother's ratatouille, but she's only been making it for a few years now and I'm always a bit leery of how safe it is to eat.)
|Monday, December 9th, 2013|
A beautifully quiet day. Ended up sewing (fake) fur gloves while watching Tosca
Have learned a lot about working with fake fur today. These important life lessons include:
a) nice fake fur sheds even more
when cut than cheap fake fur does
b) nice fake fur is bulky
c) no, really, let's just give up now and go and fetch the vacuum cleaner
d) on the other hand, nice fake fur lined with fleece would probably do for anything up to the absolute middle of a UK winter. (Though probably not for areas with more robust winters than the wimpy UK.)
May possibly have an oncoming cold: my nose feels a little blocked. I will self-medicate with Lemsip. (Which may be mostly psychosomatic, but I have been conditioned to believe in it.)
Wish the weekend lasted longer.
Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
compared to the pain,
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
the first one again.
-- Piet Hein
|Sunday, December 8th, 2013|
|Our Own Little People
ANy mythographers or ethnographers reading? I have just learned that American Indian people across the entire continent have stories and legends about a race of little people living around them. My ignorance of Indian myth and legend is nearly total so it is no surprise I should be surprised. But what amazed me is how the Indian stories and accounts of these people match with great exactness what might be called the etholology of the European little people -- elves, fairies, leprechauns. They stand about knee-high, mostly; they live in deep forests or in mountain caves; they can't be seen when looked at directly, but with patience they can be made visible. If they want not to be seen they can point a finger at you and cause you to be unable to percieve them, or root you to the spot while they escape. Leaving gifts of food or tobacco for them will bring you their help. Some are truculent, stone-throwers who move great stones around the territory. You must speak of them with respect or they will play tricks on you, and not speak of them at all in the summer when they are often about. In one story at least, a poor boy who helps them is taken by the little people to their land (he shrinks to their size when he enters their little canoe) and when he returns after a couple of days he finds that many years have passed.
Canit be that these stories are affected by European versions learned later by Indian story-tellers? I can see where any people might think up the idea of very small humans, but is that enough to generate all the other notions about them? (We don't see them commonly, so they must have a way of remaining invisible, etc.). It's enough to tempt me to think that once we did have small companion species, back before the Indians came to the Americas, and that the stories are part of a world story. I mean I'm tempted
, you know, not like convinced.
ANyone know these legends and can give me thoughts? References?
|No SMOFCon for me
Because of some things I'm contemplating, I had additionally contemplated (although it's likely part of the same... Never mind) attending SmofCon
here in Toronto.
It's a recurring travelling convention for convention organizers. I think it would be interesting to get perspectives from people who run events. But this weekend was a holiday one, with parties and screenings and planning of parties, so it just fell by the wayside. Such is life. Current Mood: contemplative
|though cut fake fur does shed fluff everywhere
Posted a number of parcels today. I will do the Joyful Dance of having hopefully got stuff off on time (not to be opened till Christmas!) combined with the Irritated Dance of current postal charges.
Experimented further with "fake fur fingerless gloves" project. First stage of getting sewing machine to work with fake fur fabric (cheap stuff - I'm not using the nice stuff yet) and fleece has gone comparatively well. Next stage (inner structure of fingerless gloves) may be more tricky. We shall see.
Sunday. Beautiful Sunday, beautiful sleeping-in Sunday.
|Saturday, December 7th, 2013|
|Friday, December 6th, 2013|
|Alle Jahre wieder
Apparently I've been a much better boy than I would've believed: Today's St Nick's day haul was a little crazy. When I came to my desk, there was already chocolate on it. My stocking at home had a pound of pralined almonds as well as more than half a pound of marzipan in various forms. And this is in addition to the bag of Godiva truffles the Old Man brought home yesterday not even remembering
what day it was! Recalling last year's Spekulatius surfeit (we ended up with a kilo of them), I strictly forbade him to buy any, so it looks like he compensated in other areas.
OGI has just begun learning who the Good Bishop is. Last night he called him "Peter Pan". Today he asked, "Who is that man again?" It gave me the idea of looking for a storybook for him, but pickings were slim on Amazon, at least for what I had in mind. The classics of Low Country child literature don't seem to have been translated so it's a choice between (a) smarmy recent American morality tales and (b) lots of accounts of "the real
St Nicholas", including everything from semi-scholarly works to picture books featuring Nicholas of Bursa. I even had a look at some Dutch-language editions (I've already bought them foreign-language books before and read them aloud, translating on the fly) but they all seem to prominently feature Zwarte Piet in all his racist glory.