Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

From Maud: Literary spookiness.

Interesting discussion with Mike Allen about sci-fi poetry.

Dressing up for Halloween, Star Wars style.

And now, I'm off to buy ROTS on DVD at midnight.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Plunge

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So I'm going to go ahead and do it. My work habits with writing tend to favor me in this still slightly scary endeavor (I did write a 740 page novel in six months, which amounts to an average of about 123 pages a month, within range of 175), but I think the biggest challenge is writing a novella, which I haven't done before.

I'm glad Mandy clued me in to this. I've actually had the idea for this novella for quite a while. For a long time I've wanted to do something like The Maltese Falcon in space. But since this is me, that's just part of it. And this means setting the Angel Book aside for an entire month, which honestly doesn't bother me as much I thought it would. It went cold on me. I very a general sort of fatigue with writing in general and I kind of hope this challenge in November will recharge the batteries a little. Also, I'm going to collaborate with my brother and two other artists I met through his gallery on a multi-media project. I can't wait to do that, either.

I had lunch with Ben today, and I talked to my uncle in KC. He sounds good. I hope to hear from Sugu tonight, who celebrated his B-Day on the 26th. Happy B-Day!

The coolest car commercial ever.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Exhibit N


Scarlett Johanson, who embodies that old Hollywood glamour. And is only 20. Hmm.

He who smelt it, dealt it.

The Fantasy Novelist's Exam.

The worst lines ever from sci-fi/fantasy. These are laugh-out loud funny.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sox Clean



Cursed Teams 2, Curses, 0. Next year, it's the Cubs' turn.

From Maud: an interview with Dorothy Alison, where she talks about a lot of interesting stuff, including this little bit about the film they made of 'Bastard Out of Carolina':

"I hadn’t registered that they were going to do it well enough that it was going to feel to me and smell to me like my childhood — and make me want to go out in the yard and throw up."

I like this because I was thinking about books/films today. I've been thinking about this new story, maybe for the Novel In A Month thing, and I had two very distinct ideas of how to approach it. One is the novel way, which I like a lot. But it doesn't allow for the movie way, which I also like. This idea has as many fathers in films as it does in novels (actually some were books that became movies) and so I thought, what if I wrote both? A book and a screenplay of the same story. Different perspectives on the same tale. I haven't written a screenplay in years (except for the thing Sugu and I were doing and sort of shelved) so it might be fun.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Refund, Please


My blog is worth $564.54.
How much is your blog worth?



In other words, it's worth more than I am. Thanks to Ben for this (our blogs are worth exactly the same!).

Monday, October 24, 2005

Other Shoe Drops, Film At 11

The NY Times is reporting Vice President Cheney disclosed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to his Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, who told a federal grand jury it was reporters that did.

Two things: 1) Oops and 2) WOW.

Rosa Parks has died.

A nice article about crafting language in sci-fi/fantasy over at SH.

The last few days it's been very difficult to write. I walk around with a knot in my stomach about what may or may not happen with my uncle. In times like these I write to give myself a breather, but it's been too hard to concentrate. I have ideas and and the desire to write, but it sort of fizzles as soon as I start, usually because the phone is ringing constantly, and your mind is elsewhere. I have been reading, Aimee Bender (she has a story called "Motherfucker" which is about, you guessed it, a mother fucker), Dorothy Alison, M. John Harrison... I've been reading some Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard to wet my appetitie for this idea I have for the novella. Leonard I've always loved, but Lehane is mostly new to me (his story "Until Gwen" is still swirling around in my head.)

It occured to me today, looking at my stack of books, that I read mostly women authors. When I read men, they're either writing about women (like Micheal Cunningham or say, Joss Whedon) or when they're writing about men, they're 'crime' writers, whether it's Lehane, Leonard, or even Tarantino.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Thanks

Brad Lidge may be scarred for life now. Wow. This has to be the most ambivilent Series for me, ever. On one hand, I really want the Astros to win, because of Bags and Big. But on the other hand, the Sox haven't won since 1917 (fair, anyways) and it's Chicago, so... I end up rooting for both sides which probably makes the people around me wonder if I even know what's going on in the game.

Article from yesterday's paper about the downtown revival, and the 'Tour de Loo', which showed off all the new business down there, including my brother's shop. Features a pic of the gallery, too. I had hoped to write the original article on the gallery, but I couldn't, because Aaron is my brother. Sigh.

In one what has to be the coolest idea I've heard in a while, a new series of books has contemporary writers re-imagining old myths. This is one thing I would LOVE to be a part of.

And for what I really wanted to say: my uncle is still sick, but still pulling through, and I want to extend a big thanks to Sugu's brother Sajo who is going to give my uncle a ride to the hospital tomorrow for his blood check-ups. He really came through for us when we were all in a jam and I really, really appreciate it. Thanks, Sajo.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Exhibit M



Miranda Otto, who killed two ginormous elephants all by herself. For starters.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Write A Book Or Die

Jess Row referees Marcus Vs. Franzien and the larger realism vs. experimentalism debate over at Salon. This is a really good article and gets into the current state of literary affairs, so check it out. She says something very interesting:

'We need a vocabulary that can explain a novel like Edward P. Jones' The Known World, which at times feels deeply archaic and yet unfamiliar, rewarding the reader's expectations on one level and frustrating them on another.'

I think that's the problem in a nutshell; we don't have the vocabulary for explaining what's happening, or what may/may not be happening. The novel is not dead, but it may be lost in translation right now.

I was just reading some of Dorothy Alison's short story collection Trash this afternoon (it has probably my favorite short "River of Names" in it, as well as the incomprable "The Lesbian Appetite") when lo and behold I found this. (You'll have to scroll down a bit to find her.) So go vote. I mean, how can you go wrong with anal fisting?

And there's this, a selection of fake book covers. It made me think of my friend Mandy, who pointed out once that so many recent book covers featured shoes. And then I thought up this:

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And Mandy also told me about this November is National Novel Writing Month. Basically you have between 11/1 and 11/30 to write 50,000 words, which is 175 pages, or a novella. I'm writing the Angel Book now, but the idea is exciting, especially since I've had an idea for a novella length story in the back of my head for a while.

Shooting The Moon



The Hubble took an extreme close up of the moon, for reasons explained here.

Now this is a Series. I remember saying last year what enormous effect the Red Sox overcoming the 'curse' would have on the psychology of baseball -- there's no pro sport that relies on it more -- and look: we've got the White Sox in their first Series in 45 years, and the Astros in their first ever, after overcoming one of the worst suck-outs in the history of the game in Game 5 of the NLCS. If that had been the Cubs - well, we know what happened to the Cubs in that situation. But would it now? Are curses cursed? The Bambino spins in his grave.

And lastly, the new Powell's interview is Zadie Smith. There's a lady who rides the bus who looks kind of like her. But anyways, she had this to say about endings: 'My husband and I used to joke that if you get a novel in the post you should always check the last page. There's always a looking-out-to-sea scene at the end of a novel. If we see that at the end, we know we're not going to read the book. I don't want to read a book that ends with someone looking out to sea in that kind of contemplative manner.'

It made me laugh, because Sugu told me his sister does this, and then it made me cringe, because I realized this is essentially what happens at the end of the second book in the sci-fi trilogy. He isn't looking out to sea (it's disappearing before his eyes) but there's the faintest hint, so I literally dropped everything and revised it, because I hate those kind of endings too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Writing & Such

Somewhere in all this I did manage to do some writing since my last report (whenever that was). Not writing so much as polishing off. I'm into Chapter 13 now of the Angel Book, which is mostly knitting together stuff from the first draft to newer stuff, making it all synch up. I love how this book feels like the type of book you're either on with or off; there will be mountains of this someday at the clearnace table. $1.99, baby.

The American love affair with Brit fantasy.

Strange Horizons, based here in Iowa, is having their fall fund drive.

Some science with your fiction: Life. It's everywhere.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Good

My brother's gallery had its grand opening last Friday night. It went extremely well. About 400 people showed up, and there was wine, coffee, brownies, all of that stuff. There is lots of fantastic art and photography on display, including some of Aaron's. Ben came, and so did a lot of old friends. And it was great because it seemed all the artists in Waterloo came out of the Witness Protection program at the same time. "Is it safe to come out now?" The gallery is at the forefront of a artistic/cultural revival in downtown Waterloo, one that gets more steam every day and I'm glad my brother is part of that. He plans on doing a website soon, so I'll link to that when it's up.

I talked to a couple of people about 'zines -- I've had the idea of starting one for a while now, and I plan on discussing it more soon. I'd really like to be part of something that focuses on Iowa/the Midwest, and not just that, but the weird in all things. I sure won't have any trouble finding contributors for the first issue.

The Bad

My uncle John in KC is very sick again. His cancer returned (if it ever really left) and he's back in the hospital. It looked very bad until tonight, when after he got a lot of blood into him (the tumors are sucking up all his, I guess) he seems to have gotten a little better. There seems to be a lot of hope in this new drug that has worked wonders in these situations, and with chemo, there's optimism. The name of this blog was (is) "the terminal optimist" and that's where I come down most times. It hurts feeling so helpless, and of course there's the endless family bullshit, there like background radiation. Too bad it wasn't the chemo/healing kind.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Writing, 10/13

I did manage to get back on track with the Angel Book the past two days, and I clawed my way through Chapter 12, where I left off. I wrote around six pages of new material, and stitched it together with some existing stuff to fill a pretty big hole. I'll leave it sit over night and then see where we are in the morning. The trippy aspects of the book kick into overdrive at this point, and I suppose this where the book will lose some (and hook others), and I'm okay with that. It's a toss-up sort of book. Dead lesbians, remember.

The Fairy Review mentioned in the post below has got me thinking I want to try a shot at such a story. It's not too far what I'm doing anyway, but the idea of writing a short story expressly as a modern fairy tale excites me. I've had an idea lying around for something like this, so I may dig it out.

And Let There Be No Doubt

In possibly the coolest discovery of the week, astronomers have discovered that stars form NEAR black holes. I'm thinking this explains a great many things (like it's actually black holes that motivate galaxy formation).

You reap what you sew.

But the force is with us: Chewie's now an American.

Dig this: a new literary journal devoted entirely to contemporary fairy tales. I hear a bell ringing. And it has a new story by Aimee Bender.

Here I was yesterday complaining about not getting published (again) when there's so many more important things in the world. Sure, the money would be nice (since I don't have any of it) and so would the feeling I'm not just spinning my wheels, but it's nothing really in the scheme of things. My uncle in KC is sick again. It seems his cancer has returned, if it ever went away, but his doctors can't tell him because they prefer the month-on, month-off method. I don't know. You take the good with the bad. My brother has his grand opening tomorrow, and I'll have a report of that. I was there the other day as he made his first sale. Very cool.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Not Quite

Neil Gaiman next tackles the Eternals.

Speaking of which, once again, someone has just discovered that comics are not just for kids. How far behind is the 'leading edge' of the culture? 20 years.

I got about the worst kind of rejection letter you can get today, the one where they thought it was terrific, wonderful, genuine, but they didn't want it. This one sucked because I've gotten three of these in a row now, where I'm almost good enough to get published, but not quite. That seems the story of my life right now. Not quite. I appreciate the consideration, don't get me wrong, but even though this story is going right back out tomorrow, this one stung.

My brother opens his gallery tomorrow morning. Congrats and best of luck.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Grand Opening



My brother Aaron's gallery, Evan Kaiulani, has its grand opening on Friday. Come by and check it out if you can.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

God: "I'm Pissed"

Well, he must be. If you believe the likes of Franklin Graham (son of Billy), God has a list of wicked sinners and like New Orleans, like the tsunami, but not 9/11 ('cos Franklin ain't that fucking crazy) God has now rendered his judgement again. Is God checking his list twice? Is God the type of guy who doesn't get it right the first time? Seriously, if God was so pissed with the sin and immorality in the world (like Graham and his ilk say) then what the hell? Is his aim off? Does he like playing with his food before he kills it? Maybe he's just fucking with us. This God of many disasters just seems like a child throwing a fit, stomping his feet through the house and knocking all the china over. This isn't God. There's no sense to this.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Exhibit K



Enya, whose new album (FINALLY - it's only been five years) comes out 11/22.

Right In the Gut

I actually managed to get throught it at B&N the other day, but over at Maud's there's a nice condensation of the massive bitch-slap Ben Marcus excercises on Jonathan Franzien and all purveyors of 'narrative realism.' It's pretty funny, but if you got an hour, the real thing is interesting, too. In this month's Harper's.

Playing hooky from writing again tonight. Well. Mostly. I'm so far out of the Angel Book I'll probably have to read through it from the top before I move on.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

WANTED: Reflector Boardist

Beware prams.

The nameless dead.

Say what? Furthermore, when George Will spanks Bush, baby's been bad.

I helped my brother again at the shop today. It looks fantastic and is essentially done. Just a month ago it was another forgotten store front downtown and now it's part of this tidal wave of artistic revival in Waterloo. I think all he needs to do is hire someone to stand by the art with a reflector board all day, and he'll be set (still working out kinks with the lighting). I'm taking the night off from writing 1) because I'm worn out and 2) U2 is on Conan for the whole hour.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Grapes of Katrina's Wrath

Lalia Lalami (Moorish Girl) writes a great new essay about the absence of the poor in recent fiction over at Powell's. What she says is very true. I grew up poor in 'middle America' and that's mostly what I write about (sometimes, as we've discussed, there are dead lesbians and spaceships). This all kind of ties in with the new story I've been working on (AKA the hardest f'ing story I've ever written), which deals with these themes. But with a dash of weird.

Got my copy of Best American Short Stories 2005 the other day. I'm absolutely in love with Dennis Lehane's story "Until Gwen." It's like the most perfect stories; they go right into your memory, as evisceral as a smell or a sound.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Osama Wan?

'The Jedi philosophy does not lead to swashbuckling exploits but to Wounded Knee and Buchenwald, to young men flying airplanes into buildings.'

Uh. Um. Holy crap. Barn-burning essay on Star Wars. Read it. I think I'll have some more to say about it tomorrow, once I've soaked it in. Post reactions.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Zombie Lesbians Invade Mars

The Onion AV Club interviews Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.

Audio interview with the mind-bending Aimee Bender.

Bruce Sterling on the legacy of JG Ballard.

Apparently, the Quills Awards, or the 'people's choice' of book awards, just isn't catching on.

In the YES!!! Dept.: The complete score to "Fellowship of the Ring", all 180 minutes of it, will be released in November. I assume TTT and ROTK will follow.

I finished the first draft of the new short story tonight. It stands at about 3000 words, though that might change a little. Some time here I'm going to get back to the Angel Book, and the dead lesbians. Hopefully.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Warrior Moon

More lesbians: The 10th planet, nicknamed "Xena", apparently has a moon. Yep, you guessed it. "Gabrielle." Hmm.

The 'Big Baby' Galaxy. My sci-fi trilogy probably takes place in a galaxy like this, a fat, developed galaxy that shouldn't exist so close to the Big Bang.

And NASA has taken a gigantic leap forward toward finding extra solar planets by reducing glare. The future's so bright...

Been working on a new short story the past couple days. Not the one I mentioned in a previous post, something brand new. I just started writing it late Friday night (or early Saturday morning) on a lark, and I think it's coming to something. It takes on an old sci-fi trope (reluctant to say which it is right now) but I hope from a different perspective, one you could only have after Katrina. It's going to be on the shorter side for me, which is fine; it wants to be blunt, quick.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Exhibit J



Juliette Binoche. She's the only actress I've ever seen in a film, besides Garbo, who made me consider converting on the spot.