Hook.

Mar. 25th, 2009 02:57 pm
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Hook was not his true name. To reveal who he really was would even at this date set the country in a blaze; but as those who read between the lines must already have guessed, he had been at a famous public school; and its traditions still clung to him like garments, with which indeed they are largely concerned. Thus it was offensive to him even now to board a ship in the same dress in which he grappled her, and he still adhered in his walk to the school's distinguished slouch. But above all he retained the passion for good form.

Good form! However much he may have degenerated, he still knew that this is all that really matters.

From far within him he heard a creaking as of rusty portals, and through them came a stern tap-tap-tap, like hammering in the night when one cannot sleep. "Have you been good form to-day?" was their eternal question [...] Most disquieting reflection of all, was it not bad form to think about good form?

[...] To tell poor Smee that [the children] thought him lovable! Hook itched to do it, but it seemed too brutal. Instead, he revolved this mystery in his mind: why do they find Smee lovable? He pursued the problem like the sleuth-hound that he was. If Smee was lovable, what was it that made him so? A terrible answer suddenly presented itself--"Good form?"

Had the bo'sun good form without knowing it, which is the best form of all?
-- J.M. Barrie, Peter and Wendy (or Peter Pan, if you must)

I've read a handful of translations of the Tao te Ching, several commentaries thereon, a few books of koans ... but this passage, right here, by a Scottish author no less, still articulates the central idea in a way that's dearest to my heart.

Lovecraft.

Mar. 23rd, 2009 04:09 pm
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For years I've been wanting to go see the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival down in Portland, but I never had the money or the time. But this year, it actually came to me! A special "best-of" compilation of their short films is now running at the The Grand Illusion Cinema, a lovely little theater in the U-District.

It's playing every night until this Thursday, the 26th. If you have any appreciation for Lovecraft's unique brand of science-horror, you owe it to yourself to go to this.

Here's what I thought of each short:

Casting Call of Cthulhu was a nice cute little bit of fluff to start off with, and does exactly what it says on the tin.

Late Bloomer was the tale of a 7th-grader discovering the true horrors of reality in Ms. Lovecraft's sex-ed class, and it was -- pretty amusing, but I think ultimately wore on for too long.

The Book Dealers was a nifty little piece of animated steampunk unpleasantness with interesting characters. Felt like something I would have seen on Liquid Television back in the '90s. Check out the link -- you can watch the whole thing on-line.

Eel Girl was the first piece that really made me sit up and take notice. It looked great -- the makeup effects were by Weta, if that tells you anything. The acting was a little bit stiff, but otherwise, a nice short sharp shock -- unearthly, beautiful, sexy, disgusting, disturbing, all at once.

Legend of the Seven Bloody Torturers reminded me of Monty Python, and I mean that in the best possible way.

The Canal is the one I felt the most lukewarm about. It's a dramatic reading of a Lovecraft poem with some interesting and kind of experimental animation. There's nothing wrong with it, really, it was just not nearly as interesting as the other shorts on offer. (You can watch that one online, too, at the link provided, if you feel the need.)

Maxwell's Mind was pretty decent. It was slightly let down by some mediocre acting, but that kind of enhanced the 1940s feel they were going for here. Great sound design here -- the distorted electronic voice from the dead brain being kept "alive" scared the hell out of me.

Experiment 18 -- "As the Third Reich crumbled, a Nazi Occultist performed one last, desperate, ritual. This is his story. These are his words." This had a great documentary feel to it, which was helped by having the narration in German. (It's subtitled, natch.) The combination of black magic, the undead, and Nazis put me in mind of Hellboy, I have to admit, but that didn't really hurt this film at all.

Between the Stars is based really loosely on an unfinished Lovecraft story, and really, it doesn't tell a story -- it sets a mood. But what a mood -- stark, obsessive black-and-white, it put me in mind of Pi and Eraserhead.

Call of Cthulhu was the one I really wanted to see, and it didn't disappoint. Made by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, it's a note-for-note perfect attempt to create an adaptation of his most famous story that looks and sounds like an authentic 1920's silent film. Really, really great.

~ intermission ~

The Outsider was another dramatic-reading-plus-some-animation piece, but the crucial difference is that this one featured the distinctive voice talents of Doug Bradley, best known to horror fans as Hellraiser's Pinhead. Getting to hear that great rich voice read my absolute favorite Lovecraft story was a real pleasure.

Cool Air I have mixed feelings about. In the end, I have to say it was an incredibly well-acted adaptation of a story in which not much really happens. I was simultaneously riveted and wondering how much longer it was going to be, which was a weird combination.

AM1200 was great, and my only complaint about it is that I wish it had been longer. There's enough set-up here just begging to be further explored at feature-length. This was easily the slickest, most professional production of the whole evening, and a hell of a strength to go out on.

Single.

Feb. 10th, 2009 11:37 am
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.... Okay, let's try this again. Last week's Tunes for Tuesday was met with a deafening silence, so I'm going to assume that I just dumped too many songs on you at once.*

Here's just the one, then: a song that's the clear heir of bands like The Smiths and Joy Division, but still unmistakably twenty-first century in its sound and outlook, fighting sadness with a cheerful and distant indifference.

Datarock - See What I Care

_______
* .... On the other hand, my Steamcon site launch announcement only got one comment. Ummm, is anyone still reading this?

Steamcon.

Feb. 3rd, 2009 03:19 pm
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And now for a long overdue announcement:

Several of you already know, I'm sure, about Steamcon, a steampunk convention right here in Seattle this October, with special guests Tim Powers and Paul Guinan.

You might not know that I'm on the committee for it -- specifically, I'm handling the website and publications.

Our registration system is finally finished, so the website went live today. There will be more to it in the next few months, but I'm quite happy with our launch version.

So with no further ado, for your entertainment and edification, ladies and gentlemen, may I present:

http://www.steam-con.com/

Please tune your aetheric receivers accordingly.

You can go ahead and purchase your membership at the introductory price; even more important, go ahead and book your room for it -- I have a feeling the room block will sell out early for this con.
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Been a while since I did a Tunes for Tuesday post.
  • David Byrne and Brian Eno are both kinda brilliant, really, and the new album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is their first collaboration in almost thirty years. Byrne calls the album familiar but completely new as well," and that's a fair assessment. You can hear the whole album at the website, but here's a track I cheerfully stole from the KEXP Song of the Day podcast: David Byrne and Brian Eno - Strange Overtones

  • I don't want to tell you too much about this song, but I will say that the first time I heard it, I nearly drove off the road laughing. It's a smooth, sexy Barry White style track. Well, almost. Flight of the Conchords - Business Time

  • This one's a little hard to describe. Little bit glitchy and techno-y, it's got a relentless wind-up toy quality to it, and underneath all the bright and spangly, there's something unpleasant going on. Give it a listen. Man Plus - A Ghost Is A Ghost Is A Ghost Is A Ghost

  • This one is mainly worth listening to if you're familiar with the original version by Rihanna, because the way it takes that dance number and deconstructs it into something slow and sad and unsettling, is really kind of impressive. But even if you haven't, it's worthwhile in it's own right. Sharif - Disturbia (Raw Version).mp3

  • Here's an old one. I realized yesterday that I hadn't listened to The The in a long time, and they used to be one of my favorite bands when I was an angsty young man, so I dug some out. This is one of their best -- only slightly angsty, but mainly just beautiful and hopeful. A good song if you need to be reminded that Spring is on its way, in either a literal or metaphorical sense. The The - Love Is Stronger Than Death

  • And if Spring is coming, then surely Summer isn't too far behind. Here's a little piece of it right now, in the form of an incredibly catchy, bouncy, irresistable little indy pop song. I've been a huge fan of the Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels since the first volume. I knew that our eponymous protagonist, a clueless young man who's met the girl of his dreams but has to defeat her seven evil exes first, was named after this song, but it had never dawned on me to track it down and listen to it. I'm glad I did. If you've ever known that a completely hopeless crush can actually be exhilirating fun, this song is for you. Plumtree - Scott Pilgrim

Vertigo.

Jan. 27th, 2009 02:53 pm
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Vertigo is one of my favorite Hitchcock movies ever -- and one of my favorite movies ever, period. If you've never seen it, and if Jimmy Stewart mainly makes you think of It's a Wonderful Life, then you really need to see this one. It's a beautifully shot story of obsession and betrayal; to tell you much more would be to give too much away.

It's playing at the Cinerama this Thursday at 8:00pm. I've never seen it on the big screen at all, and I can't wait to see it there. You should come with me. Go on, buy your ticket now.

Inaugural.

Jan. 19th, 2009 12:45 pm
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So, I hear we're getting, like, a new President tommorow, or something. What's the haps, peeps? Anyone going to any cool inauguration parties?

MMVIII.

Dec. 31st, 2008 04:52 pm
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This was .... a hell of a year, really.

I left a job that was slowly killing me even though I had no fallback plan for it. I was more broke than I've ever been, getting by on ramen and peanut butter sandwiches. I put together a spiffy redesign of webmutant and starting shopping my resume around, and now I'm paid quite well at a job I really enjoy.

They turned on the proton beam in the Large Hadron Collider, and the world didn't end. An exploding star halfway across the visible universe became the farthest known object ever visible to the naked eye. The SpaceX Falcon 1 was the first privately-developed spaceship to make orbit, and India launched Chandrayaan-1 to the moon. A woman in Spain became the first person to have a successful trachea transplant with a lab-grown replacement. We found snow, real snow, falling on Mars.

We lost George Carlin. And Gary Gygax and Edmund Hillary and Heath Ledger, Arthur C. Clarke and Forrest J. Ackerman and Stan Winston. And Boeing Surplus.

I had my first migraine. That's a club I was perfectly happy not being a member of,

The Merchants of Deva had to cancel our annual party at Norwescon, thanks to untenable new rules and regulations at the hotel. I joined the committee for Steamcon, and made it to an Orycon for the first time in years; it was pretty laid-back and uneventful, but it was nice to have a room at a con for just me and Ahna for a change.

I started using the jQuery Javascript library, and it finally made coding Javascript fun and easy.

I finally got to go to Florida for Halloween Horror Nights, and I got to take [livejournal.com profile] windbourne with me, and we went to DisneyWorld and Epcot while we were at it. I fell asleep on the plane and woke up to find my fear of flying was suddenly, inexplicably gone.

We saw Avenue Q and Phantom. And I saw English Beat, Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, Goldfrapp, Cold War Kids, We Wrote the Book on Connectors, Vixy and Tony and Tricky Pixie (about a million times), and probably some other bands I'm forgetting. David Tennant announced he was leaving Doctor Who. Steven Moffat was tapped to be the new head writer, which I couldn't be happier about.

.... I got published. I have a story in a book, from a real publisher, a real book I can take down off the shelf and hold in my hands. And best of all, it's a Doctor Who book -- I'm finally, really genuinely a part of my favorite thing in the world. A small part, a footnote of a footnote, but still.

I bought myself a completely adorable little laptop. Used it to finish revisions on my fan-film script, write a new story for Halloween, enjoy having wireless Internet access practically everywhere I went, and now I've fried it stone dead. A short in either the power supply or the motherboard, most likely.

I put together lots of props for the Mercury's Doctor Who night, and everyone's amazed and delighted expressions made all the work totally worth it. That same weekend, my condo burst a pipe and had a terrible flood, and I've been living with a bare concrete floor in my dining room ever since.

The price of petroleum hit $100 per barrel for the first time, this year. Gas reached $4.00 a gallon. Our economy tanked, taking everyone else with it, but at least that brought oil crashing back down to $40 a barrel. Seattle was crippled by the most massive snowstorm in years.

I wasted hours and days of my life on someone I thought was one of my best friends, who turned out not to really be a friend at all. It's the first time I've ever had to explicitly tell someone I was done with them, and the first relationship of any kind I've looked back on with the sense that it was all just -- pointless. I let a lot of my other friendships fade during this time, and I wish to God I could just have that time back again.

I donated money to a political campaign for the first time in my life. I watched in horror as John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, the most calculated and cynical and anti-intellectual such choice I've ever seen, and even deeper horror as so many voters seemed to take her seriously. And then Barack Obama was elected, the country finally waking up from one long post-9/11 nightmare of hate and fear and choosing love and hope instead. Barack Obama didn't get the country to just believe in him -- he gave us a chance to believe in ourselves again.

I literally danced in the streets that night, with thousands of people, thousands, who could finally believe in their country again, who were laughing and crying and cheering and everyone was a friend, that night. It felt like we'd won a revolution without ever having to fire a single shot. It was, honestly, the most joyful and meaningful and profound night of my life and I will never forget it, not ever.

We reached the deep minimum of a long solar cycle, but after a slow start, it looks like Solar Cycle 24 is finally beginning. Maybe the future will be a little brighter.

You've been -- interesting, 2008, I'll give you that. Still, I won't be sorry to see you go tonight. Even if you do cling to life for one extra second.
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Okay, so, this is *slightly* late notice, and if you've found other things to do come New Year's I totally understand, but:

There *will* be a New Year's party this year, after all, despite SIXBOX being out of commission. My friends [livejournal.com profile] endorphan and [livejournal.com profile] saffyre_dragon have stepped up to volunteer their apartment as a venue.

If you can read this, you're invited. Yes, really. Please bring: yourselves, drinks, any snacks you'd like to share. Show up around 8:00.

8516 196th St SW
Unit 216
Edmonds WA, 98026

Press the intercom for "Lonergan" for entry.

Hope to see you there!
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After five days of being trapped in SIXBOX -- those of you who've been there know it's at the bottom of a steep driveway, and is therefore damn near impossible to walk out of if there's snow and ice -- I decided I was getting out of there if it killed me.

SIXBOX is less than habitable right now. The carpet in the dining room was torn up after the flooding, leaving cold bare concrete; I've taken everything off the walls, getting ready to paint; I've torn out my crappy old bookshelves so I can paint that wall, too, and replace them with something better, and consequently, there's an enormous pile of books in the middle of the floor; all the rest of my belongings are scattered around in disarray; and I haven't really tried to keep the place clean otherwise, because Jesus, why bother? So it looks kind of like London after the Nazis were done with it. And with the piles of snow outside and the overall feeling of isolation, I was beginning to feel like the 'BOX had turned into the Overlook Hotel. (If my cat had started talking to his finger, then I would know I was in trouble.)

(Oh, also, my job would really like to have me come into the office one of these days. Apparently, my boss wants me there badly enough that he said he'd pay for a hotel room if I got stuck on the East side -- which, yeah, is exactly how I want to spend Xmas Eve. What do I look like, Bob Cratchit?)

So, yeah. Getting the hell out of Dodge. There's supposed to be even more snow tonight/tomorrow morning, and if I didn't want to be stuck there during Xmas, I figured this might be my last chance. *dramatic music*

One of my neighbors saw me heading determinedly toward my car, and asked in horror, "You're not trying to get out, are you?" Apparently, he had tried earlier this evening. Shoveling himself out, maneuvering out of his space, trying to get up the hill, burning rubber, failing, and maneuvering back into his space took approximately an hour and a half.

I ignored his doomsaying and piled my car with food and Xmas presents, and took a snow shovel to its exterior. Never had to do that before.

God bless my little Subaru. I might miss my truck sometimes -- okay, often -- but it never could have made it out of the driveway in these conditions. The Subaru, with its low center of gravity, and its all-wheel drive, had a couple of minor false starts, but otherwise managed it just fine. That was, as I knew it would be, the worst part. Streets were not terrible and the freeway was pretty clear, so I made it to the U-District just fine. I'm meeting Ahna here at the Sureshot, and we're gonna go have dinner at a restaurant, so I can eat something that didn't come out of a can. I can't wait. I'll be staying at her place tonight, natch. It'll be nice to have someone around who can do more than meow.

My family have postponed their celebrations until the weekend, so I'm going to actually get to spend Xmas with Ahna for the first time. That kinda makes all this worth it.

Oh, yes, and to everyone who gave me their address so I could send them Xmas cards -- I'm so sorry, but I just haven't had a chance to mail them; I'm sure you understand. I will almost certainly be making them out on Xmas day and sending them out on Boxing Day.
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Hmm, never posted a video before -- let's see if this works:


A little something to tide you over while you're waiting for the Doctor Who Christmas special. :) It's pretty amusing.

Cards.

Dec. 12th, 2008 05:17 pm
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Not only have I never done this before, but I've never even *tempted* to do this before, but --

If you would like a Christmas card from me, please post your address here.  (Comments screened, natch.)

Standards.

Nov. 18th, 2008 12:29 pm
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Of all the myriad ways in which Life Is Horribly Unfair, one that vexes me the most is this:

Are you an artist? Do you sell your own work directly to the public? Then you're an entrepreneur who should be rewarded for your creativity. It's a long, uphill road, but we're with you all the way!

Are you a musician? Do you sell your own work directly to the public? All right! There's that punk, fighting DIY spirit! Screw the labels, man, they're nothing but leeches anyway!

Do you create comics? Do you sell your own work directly to the public? Let me buy you a drink! Indy all the way!

Are you a writer? Do you sell your own work directly to the public?

..... Ha! Loser! Not good enough to get published, huh?

Floodland.

Nov. 13th, 2008 01:14 pm
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For those of you who haven't heard yet -- Sunday morning of Halloween weekend, a pipe burst in my kitchen and, well, more or less destroyed the condo below mine. Their insurance seems to be taking care of it, thank God, and I'm paying their deductible out of pocket, so that's covered, at least. I'm going to be seeing if the condo board's insurance will cover the damage to my unit or not.

This really couldn't have happened at a worse possible time-- I had spent most of the past month working on all those props and decorations for the party at the Mercury, so all of my materials were out and scattered everywhere, and I hadn't had a chance to clean up after making everything. I had to just shove everything aside and start tearing up soaked carpeting and the carpet pad to stop any further water damage. Then I spent many, many days trying to turn the resulting wreck into something vaguely livable, while still leaving room for workmen to come in and tear up the floor if that still turns out to be necessary.

Anyway. Yeah. So to anyone I'd promised to hang out with soon -- [livejournal.com profile] chemicallace, [livejournal.com profile] rivendellrose, anyone else I might be forgetting -- I'm not trying to blow you off, honestly. I've just been insanely busy and distracted. (Which, I realize, is arguably my normal state. But I mean, even more so.)

I'm trying to look at this as an opportunity. I've been needing to replace the carpet, and I've been needing to repaint the walls, and that will be easier to do with the carpet taken up. There's any number of projects I've been wanting to tackle -- replacing the shower and dishwasher, for example -- and this clearly feels to me like a sign from the universe that it's time to start doing it.

The downside of all this is, I have no idea what state my condo will be in come New Year's, so I don't know if I'll be able to host a party or not. I'll keep you posted.

Elect.

Nov. 4th, 2008 09:56 pm
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.... You know what makes me incredibly happy?

The thought that right now, most of the country is thinking, "Oh my God!  Obama is actually going to be President!"

And two little girls are thinking, " .... We're getting a puppy!"

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So, yeah, last Thursday I went to that Doctor Who party I'd mentioned, and set up all the decorations I made for it, and it was .... Hmm. I don't know if it was the best night of my life? But it's easily in the top five.

I've posted pictures and build notes of everything to the [livejournal.com profile] crafty_tardis community -- enough of it that I had to split it all into two parts. Check them out and let me know what you think.

Part One: Monsters and Villains
Part Two: The TARDIS
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(Just posted this to the [livejournal.com profile] doctorwho community -- thought I'd put up a reminder here as well.)

----
Hey, Seattle people, here's a quick reminder of something going on tonight to help chase your post-casting-announcement blues away:



.... As [livejournal.com profile] evaleastaristev posted last month, The Mercury is a private club at 1009 E. Union, and Doctor Who is the theme for our pre-Halloween celebration this year. This event will be open to the public, 21 and over, with ID. Please bring cash for admission, and for drinks and tips.

Hope to see as many of you as possible out there tonight in your best costumes. For those of you who can't make it, we'll have photos up of all the cool props we've been making as soon as we can. Thanks, and whether we see you or not, have a great Halloween!

Targeted.

Oct. 29th, 2008 09:25 am
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Well, holy crap, I think I'm actually going to meet my self-imposed deadlines, despite feeling run-down and ill for most of the month:
  • Looks like I am going to manage to have one new story, at least, in time for the reading on Friday. (I've gone some years on nothing but recycled material, but I've always felt bad about it.) After a lackluster start of 900 words on Saturday, I had a marathon session last night of 1,900 words, and it's shaping up very nicely. I should be able to finish it pretty easily tonight.
  • I should manage to finish all the decorations I'm working on for tomorrow's Doctor Who theme night at the Mercury. When I heard they were doing it, I absolutely had to get involved, and I've been doing a frankly ridiculous amount of prep work for it. SIXBOX is a complete disaster, but it's going to be worth it. I'm hoping to put the finishing touches on one last major prop tonight, to go along with the three other life-size props I've made. I went a little nuts here. You have to come out tomorrow and see what I've been working on.
  • My Halloween costume is done. Along with everything else I was working on, I had to decorate me, too. I'm really pleased with my costume and I bet I'll be the only one there who's thought of it.
Good times. Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible both Thursday and Friday.

Laptop.

Oct. 28th, 2008 09:49 pm
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I should mention that I'm writing this on my new laptop. I went out and got myself an HP 2338 MiniNote, which I promptly christened "DeathNote." It's uber-tiny -- about 10 inches by 6 inches. Light, too, so it's totally easy to carry around.

When I first saw these, I assumed such miniaturization would be expensive, but it's not -- this ran about half the price of a "real" laptop.

I ostensibly bought this so I'd have something super-portable to write on, since I write better out in public and since my handwriting is like the tortured scrawling of children in hell. This is the first thing I've actually written on it, though, even though I've had it over a week. I've mainly been using it to explore the new joys of open WiFi hotspots.

[edited to add: Oh, hey, I never posted this. I've had it for over three weeks now, and I am slowly starting to use it for its intended purpose, with the goal of having something new written in time for Friday.]

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