Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

Terry Gilliam Christmas Card From 1968

December 21st, 2011

I adore this!

Probably all the more since I haven’t been able to get my own cards out yet this year.

Dang three syllabi by Friday afrernoon, plus that grant Monday.

We’re tired.  It’s been one hell of a year.  People we adore want us to come up to their place on Christmas Eve.  It would be so much fun, and there’s nobody else I’d like to be with better. We’ll do better staying home together, however, eating my kickass moussaka, watching Julie Taymor’s The Tempest and reading Sir Gawain aloud to each other.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NL4D1PcgZd4

Happy Holidays you all!

 

 

Mary Poppins versus Cthulhu, a writerly parlor game

May 27th, 2009

I just attended BayCon, the San Francisco Bay area regional science fiction convention.  It was, as always, a good chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones, attend panels, and flex the brain muscles a bit.

While there, I invented a parlor game of interest to writers and fans in general.  It was inspired by this inspired blog post about matchups between heroes and villains to decide the eternal battle of good versus evil.  However, as the game evolved, it seemed a better name was needed than simply Good versus Evil or Heroes versus Villains.  Instead, taking the name from the most warped match-up that presented itself, let me present Mary Poppins versus Cthulhu.

The rules are fairly simple: You need two players, along with any number of judges and kibitzers to decide the fate of the battle for those cases where the contestants can’t agree.  Each player thinks up a hero or villain from the pages of history or literature, then on the count of three, says the name.  It is then decided which of them would win in a battle to the death, with all their powers and resources brought to bear on the problem.  Players alternate heroes and villains each round, and it’s of interest to writers because it gets you to think about characters strengths and weaknesses and the way things will logically happen in a plot. Continue Reading »

Publication basking: Busted Flush here, latest Wild Cards novel

December 9th, 2008

I got my author’s copies of Busted Flush yesterday, the latest Wild Cards novel which I wrote part of. I’d seen bits and bobs of the other author’s sections during the writing phase, for character approval and to see that we were on the same page, but this is my first chance to read the whole thing together and I’m enjoying it. So far I’ve read Melinda and Caroline’s sections at the beginning, then skipped ahead to reread parts of what I wrote (since there’s no plot surprises there, but there’s the fun of seeing your words in actual print).
Busted Flush cover shot
I’m not certain how many other authors do this, setting aside a day for enjoying the book when it comes out. Lots of times I know it hasn’t worked out, due to life, deadlines and other realities (and today not so much either, since I’m having a friend over to help install a new hard drive in the new computer and attempt to transfer what files were saved from the dead one), but when it happens, it’s nice to be able to just sit back and bask.

P.S. As a small update, there’s now an interview with me and the rest of the Busted Flush authors up at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist for anyone who’d like to read it.

Don’t You Wish You Lived Then? (Musings on Class and Fantasy)

December 4th, 2008

I used to get asked that question a lot in my Regency-writing days.  The short, simple answer: No.  No painless dentistry, eccentric provision for sewage, no penicillin and no concept of asepsis, and the condition of most women was not one that I aspire to.  But the women who asked the question usually had been complimentary about my writing, and I am weak, and did not want to blurt out the first thing that came to my mind (which would be: Whaddaya, crazy?) and so I’d say something like “Well, they sure knew how to dress, didn’t they?”  Because twenty seconds’ musing on why these readers of mine thought that the Regency might be a swell time to live returned the conclusion that they were talking about a fantasy of the Regency, in which they would be duchesses in pretty clothes, and always say and do the right thing, and they would get to marry a prince, and all their trials would be wrapped up by the end of the last act.

It was easy (particularly when I was younger) to see this as a rather childish wish; with the wisdom of age, give or take, I think that life is hard enough and if the fantasy of living in a magical then-and-there and being beautiful and clever and well dressed helps a reader get through the day, I’m glad to have provided that service.  For me, however, part of what I love about writing about the past, or the future, or fantastic societies, is the chance to play with the fallout from that most human of pastimes: organizing ourselves into castes.  

Continue Reading »

Caliban and His Mirror: a Guest Post by James Enge

November 11th, 2008

Commenter James Enge posted a rumination on fantasy and politics on his own blog, and I received his permission to repost it here for your reading pleasure (or for you to take issue with–we’re equal opportunity).

Herewith:

Caliban and His Mirror: Fantasy and Politics (or not):

by James Enge
Deep Genre has had a couple of interesting posts lately about political values in epic fantasy–specifically the old “SF Diplomat” question of whether fantasy is inherently reactionary. The first was (by Kate Elliott, and the next by Lois Tilton; both have provoked interesting comment threads, and with luck there may be more posts to come.)

In the comments to Kate Elliot’s piece, Mark Tiedemann (a sometime Black Gate writer, among other perhaps more notable things) suggested that fantasy was not necessarily interested in politics–he described it as an “added benefit” for fantasy but not essential. “Fantasy is not about systems but about the essentials of self, and the problems of the given story are designed to reveal those qualities of character which are outside of or beyond ‘politics.’”

I was going to just comment with something like “Word!” or “True dat!” but my experts tell me that no one says that stuff anymore, and they also refused to tell me what people do say. (“For your own safety,” they keep insisting, as if that arrest for misuse of “groovadelic” in mixed company hadn’t been expunged from my record years ago.)

So instead I wrote

Great post and fascinating comments. I especially like Mark Tiedemann’s point. Matters of governance in a fantasy novel are rarely about politics; they’re identity symbols. This can be bad (in an Iron Dream sort of way) or good, but it’s not necessarily advocating reactionary political values. It has more to do with the Freudian “family romance.”

Kate Elliott wondered, in a very civil way, what the hell we were talking about. I can’t speak for Mark Tiedemann, but here’s what I was talking about.
Continue Reading »

The Fortress of Solitude

September 23rd, 2008

Superman Flies Lois Over Manhattan

What do you think? Was the 1978 Superman the best movie made from a comic book, with all other attempts going downhill after that, with the exception of the first two Spidermans (2002 & 2004)? And maybe, Batman Begins (2005)? Oh, wait! There was also the excellent first X-Men (2000).

We shall not even mention the ludicrously exacrable awful X-Man ast Stand (2006) — which seems to be more generally the quality of comix-to-movies and / or video / computer games-to-movies, alas and alack-a-day!

Back to Superman, 1978, the past prophesizes the future. We begin not on the planet of Krypton, but in the Depression with voice over telling us specifically that this is the 1930′s and a world-wide economic disaster has taken place, while black-and-white comic book pages flip. One wonders why, since after that we get the credits, and then the movie properly begins and we’re on Krypton.

However, with the 1930′s global Depression invoked, the trial on Krypton of traitors to the state, and then the denial and rejection of brilliant Jor-El’s warning of coming planetary destruction by the same power elite that passed judgment of the traitors, it feels like today’s headlines.

It’s lovely how the director does not rush us through any of this. The film takes just the time it needs to set-up what needs to be set-up. It remains interesting to look at through this leisurely beginning, leisurely despite the tension and pressure of special effects planetary destruction. Partly this is because the Intro is mostly narrated by Marlon Brando as Jor-El, just the first on-screen member of this all-star cast.

Then we finally get to the best parts of the movie, Superman’s adoption by the Kents and his growing up in rural Kansas. The photography’s tenderness in recording the small details of that life provokes one to wonder whether the director or the cinematographer grew up there too. The glory of the wheat, gold and rose in the lingering sunset glow, sleeping with the bakelite radio tuned in to the local R’nR station, the paper window shades with circle string pulls, the vane windmills, the barns — I know all these details intimately also from my childhood. Then Clark must leave the warm, nurturing pastoral nest, to begin his adult super education via Jor-El’s technology, in the Fortress of Solitude, grown via that same technology out of the empty ice blades at the top of the world.

Next follows assuming a mask and courtship, simultaneously. Such cute bits: no phone booths into which he can change from Kent to Superman, the most extreme looking-up-a-girl’s-skirt scene ever, as Lois Lane dangles from the helicopter teetering at the edge of a skyscraper’s roof deck, x-raying Lois’s lungs through her clothes with his super vision when he advises her not to smoke.

It’s all foreplay and courtship from the moment Superman (not Kent, despite Superman’s Kent mask’s attraction to her) and Lois Lane set eyes on each other. Innuendo, double entendre, her interview of the man who saved her, giving him his name — Superman — gathering his vital stats, most importantly that he’s neither married nor has a girlfriend. She asks if he can, um, well, eat? Meaning, do you, can you fuck? Even better, there is no way that Margot Kidder can be described as anything but, well, homely. This is all lead-up to that marvelous overflight of New York City, which neither Vaquero nor I have ever forgotten. Seeing this movie again for the first time since 1978, seeing the Twin Towers — the flight is even more magical.

Continue Reading »

Rum & Comics

August 24th, 2008

In Cuba around 1863 the Bacardi family began to distill rum.  Their logo is a bat, modeled on the families of fruit bats that nested and swooped through the Bacardi cane plantations and distillaries.  Among Cubans, fruit bats are considered bringers of good luck.   The same bat logo is still employed today by Bacardi.

bacardi bat logo

Bob Kane’s Batman arrived in 1939 — he’s nearly 70. One wonders if there was any bit of subliminal influence from Bacardi to Kane’s Batman logo? There was an awareness of Cuba and things Cuban, particularly rum and music, back in those days that’s difficult for people who came of age in the post-embargo era to realize.

Batman Comic Logo

Forthcoming Vampire Films – London Times

August 17th, 2008

This article deals with vampires in the movie versions only, even if the movies mentioned were adapted from original novels.  It includes a brief chronology of vampires on film which can be a quickie refresher for those who have read any or all of the books published on this subject, and watched all the films.  Oddly, Buffy’s not mentioned.

This forthcoming film sounds interesting, so I’ll be watching out for it:

Meanwhile, although the vampire in Let the Right One In is altogether more dangerous, she symbolises as much the dark side of the human psyche as an external threat. “I was thinking about these two characters as though they are mirrors,” Alfredson, the director, says. “She is everything that he is not. She is awake when he is asleep: he is very afraid, she is very brave; she is strong, he is weak; she’s dark, he is blond. She is everything that he would need to be to survive. They are two sides of the same coin.”

The vampire craze shows no signs of abating. An English language remake of Let the Right One In has been announced. With three remaining books in the Twilight saga, there is potential for a vampire franchise. And although the Twilight books series is complete, Nash reveals that “Stephenie does have the bare bones of a chapter of a book provisionally titled Midnight Sun, which is the Twilight story but from the point of view of the vampire not the human girl”.

  Love, C.

For Love of A Vampire: Twilight & True Blood

July 30th, 2008

O noes!

Twilight’s got all the cooties: romance, girl and YA — no Harry Potter adulation for this series.   Shoot, it’s as bad as Sex and the City, except – it haz shoes? It should haz belly dancing.  Does it?  Myself does not know,  not being a romance fan nor generally a YA reader. (I am a fan of belly dancing, and for long time now.)

Salon dot com analyzes.

[   No wonder the media has heralded Twilight as the next Harry Potter and Meyer as the second coming of J.K. The similarities, however, are largely commercial. It's hard to see how Twilight could ever approach Harry Potter as a cultural phenomenon for one simple reason: the series' fan base is almost exclusively female. The gender imbalance is so pronounced that Kaleb Nation, an enterprising 19-year-old radio show host-cum-author, has launched a blog called Twilight Guy, chronicling his experiences reading the books. The project is marked by a spirit that's equal parts self-promotion and scientific inquiry -- "I am trying to find why nearly every girl in the world is obsessed with the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer" -- and its premise relies on the fact that, in even attempting this experiment, Nation has made himself an exceptional guy indeed.    ]This is an interesting piece, though, because it attempts to track similarities, if there are any, and contrasts, which there certainly are many, among Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the Harry Potter series and the Twilight series, and their audiences.


Another quote:

[  If Harry Potter has a vampire-loving, adolescent female counterpart, it's Buffy Summers. ]  Continue Reading »

“Mongol”

June 24th, 2008

Cross-posted with my LJ.  Mongol, the first installment of a Russian trilogy featuring Genghis Khan is currently playing in a single theater here in Manhattan.  Go here and here to see trailers, stills and more information.  The film is supposed to have a larger release here in the U.S.  It had terrific popular and critical reception in Europe.

The best parts:

–The locations, the vistas, the action, the people — none of them are digital.  This is all location and real people riding real horses.  It does look different, and so much better, I do say.

–The landscape, as one expects, has the leading role in Mongol.   You will not be disappointed.  Vistas of snow, of arid slopes, green rolling spring grass, doesn’t seem foreign to someone who grew up on the Great Plains, though, no we didn’t have mountains where I grew up.  But I did visit the Black Hills, which are really mountains, often on family summer vacations, and the Badlands, in both South Dakota and North Dakota.  The Missouri-Platt system meanders through parts of both these states on their way to the Mississippi, so I saw those too on summer vacations.  These are true vistas and landscapes, from my own life, and the lives of these characters in

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