She Who Lurks By Day|
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|Wednesday, September 28th, 2016|
|And a very good time it was too
Cross-posting from Facebook; apologies to those seeing this twice:
I started watching "Once Upon A Time." Hoo boy... I like it. Sweet Mother of Mary Shelley, what's come over me?! Usually I'm too much of a folklore snob for this sort of thing.
Well, OK, I know what got me started. (a) I need a fluffy distraction show right now, and (b) I like Robert Carlyle and his strange little fox face. "Ravenous" was apparently my gateway drug to watching everything he's ever done. Actor crushes take you to some weird places.
|Monday, September 19th, 2016|
|It's lonely being a cannibal. Tough making friends.
I got to show Ravenous
(1999) to kestrell
yesterday. It was delightful. Zelda, you were one hundred per cent correct about me and this movie. I keep coming back to it. It has all sorts of things I love, and the way it unites them is beautiful. For a movie about human flesh, this is damn good-looking. Blood pouring down window glass with the light behind it is a gorgeous color, of course, but I also like the contrast between attractive human bodies and devastated corpses, bleak snow or acres of mud versus gorgeous clothing, fine horses, stark mountains, bright blue skies, the sun through branches. (This movie has a fucked-up reason to show you the sun through evergreen branches. Of course it would.)
Alexx and Kestrell wondered how I took the cannibalism, since I'm a vegetarian. I was less bothered than you might think by the human flesh--by the time the camera lingers on the act of eating, the flesh has been made into a delicious-looking stew with chunks of carrots, potatoes, and onions. (I feel the urge to make something similar, using seitan.) The disturbing part for me was the coercion--either tricking a person into eating human flesh, or placing them in a position where they have no choice but to eat or die. There are circumstances where cannibalism isn't necessarily evil, e.g., if you're starving to death in extreme circumstances and you have access to a human body which you didn't personally murder. But one person coercing another to eat something vile... that makes me angry. Antonia Bird dug down to a deep nerve in my morality.
This time around, I noticed how fond I am of Colonel Hart
. Of course I like him. He's a burned-out old guy who still tries to be a decent person and look after the poor jerks assigned to Fort Spencer; he retains a sense of humor even as he drinks and desponds. He's played by Jeffrey Jones, who looks like a big sad fox and does a good Dad Voice. The movie does well at giving you the sense that all the characters would turn out to be complex people if the story had a reason to find out about them, which it doesn't. Total, ruinous spoilers from here on in. I'm going to spoiler cut a post about a seventeen-year-old film because, if there's someone out there who hasn't watched it and wants to, trust me, it'll be more fun to go in without knowing the twists.( Collapse )
|Friday, September 16th, 2016|
This is just to say that:
I GOT MY QUESTION ANSWERED ON ASK LOVECRAFT
RIGHT HERE: "Employment
SENPAI NOTICED MEEEEEEEE
Of course the question was me fretting about the job hunt. Of course he realized I was looking for moral support more than advice, and said some very cheering things. I feel very lucky right now.
If you've never watched this series, here's the YouTube intro
, with a good welcome speech. And here's the Patreon for the series
, which offers a lot of goodies such as poems read aloud by the show characters.
The premise is exactly what it sounds like. H.P. Lovecraft has been resurrected from essential saltes and is an advice blogger. He is prissy, cute, and avuncular, and alternates between giving legitimate good advice which is helpful, and terrible advice which is cathartic to ignore. He has a doppelganger or something, we're not sure what, called P.H. Lovecraft, who has a Southern accent and the personality of the fox from Pinocchio
, and who may be an actual demon but who also calls HPL out on his racist bullshit and is the moral compass in the family. Carl Sagan also makes appearances, just because.
They all apparently live in the basement or walk-in closets at the home of one Leeman Kessler, who started all this because he played Lovecraft in a (much more serious) play, beginning some years ago, and wanted to keep the character around. (I saw the play last year at Necronomicon; it's based on HPL and Sonia Greene's marriage, so you know it's going to be a chuckle. By the time I saw it it was titled Monstrous Invisible
, though that may have changed. It was all right, but I'm just here for the comedy factor, which allows Kessler to talk about some pretty rough stuff while we're laughing about it.) He's wildly prolific--the show's been running for years with at least one short video per week, usually more, and I find them consistently high in quality and as addictive as salt-and-vinegar potato chips.
|Friday, September 2nd, 2016|
|remembering something complex as treacle is quite a common bad habit
I enjoyed this article in Strange Horizons: Boucher, Backbone, and Blake - the legacy of Blakes 7
, by Erin Horakova. I've never watched Blakes 7
; I like the article for a variety of reasons. It's written in a funny and observant style, the sort of thing I'm aiming for and never feel I quite achieve in my movie and theater reviews on here. It's about the story the writer(s), cast and crew were telling, and the sometimes different story the fandom heard.
It's also got smart things to say about the "extreme communal cognitive dissonance" where a fandom collectively decides to foist an oversimplified misinterpretation on a character. Not only that, but the same
oversimplified misinterpretation. To take a minor example, no one person ever stood up and said to the Patrick O'Brian novel fandom, "About face, everybody, from now on Stephen Maturin is a sex god who is confident in bed and has good hygiene and is way more stable than Jack Aubrey!" but it happened nonetheless.
|Sunday, August 21st, 2016|
|It's Deep Ones that we must appease
Oh, and speaking of Providence: the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's performing wing, Dark Adventure Radio Theatre, is offering a free download of their radio play of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth."
It'll be free only till the end of August 21, so if you happen to see this post before midnight, and like weird radio theater, jump on board.
(And it can be your gateway drug and you can join me in this tiny fandom. I need more people to fangirl with. Admittedly their recordings don't come cheap, so it's not like I can go, "Join ussss! It's easy and free!" but sometimes there are freebies and this is a particularly good show.)
|How unlike the home life of our own dear Queen
Went to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival (Providence, RI). Excellent weekend: met a lot of interesting people, had good conversations, and bought books.
( Collapse )
We watched a lot of films. "Feed The Light" was certainly one of them. If Heaven is merciful, it will someday efface from my consciousness the scene where
|Wednesday, August 17th, 2016|
|Wednesday, August 10th, 2016|
|Saturday, August 6th, 2016|
|He wrote for so long and with such intensity that when he stopped he felt quite sick.
I accidentally a story. No, scratch that, I laboriously and intentionally a story. See subject line. I feel ill, but it was worth it. I am so happy to have finished this story, you have no idea. I haven't managed to finish prose fiction of any length for years.
I'm out of touch with short story markets, because see above. Anybody want to recommend places to send a short spec fic story that will probably be about 6000 words after rewrites? I know the real answer is that I need to do my own damn research, but I'm up for suggestions too.
It's a story about two giant radioactive cockroaches in the far future who are friends and go on a hike together. The tone is upbeat, the style is light and chatty, and gruesome but exciting events happen. I'm not sure whether to call it horror, SF or fantasy. Probably the last one, because "fantasy" is what you call things when you're not sure what else to do with them.
|Song: "The Creepy Little Girl"
I found this in my neglected word documents when I was looking for something else the other day. It needs a tune, and then a rewrite based on how singable it turns out to be.
Lost track of the date I wrote this, but I'm pretty sure it's from last summer at about this time, after I attended NecronomiCon, bought a bronze hand pendant from Hibernacula
, and thought it looked like something Wednesday Addams would wear in her college hippie phase. I was also thinking of Thora Birch's performance as Dani Dennison in Hocus Pocus
. They arrive at the same kind of power by different routes. Wednesday Addams was born weird, and she instinctively knows how to carry herself in horrifying situations. That becomes useful when she's confronted with seemingly normal events--a relative getting married, a summer at camp--and sees the horror in them before anybody else does. Dani is a sweet and irritating little "normal" horror protagonist, but she adapts to her story so well that before long she's declaring herself a witch for self-preservation, falling in love with a ghost catboy, and adopting a zombie like it's her big dorky son.
The Creepy Little Girl
She is so pale
Watching all night and then going to school in the day.
So small and frail,
Anyone flying could grab her and bear her away.
Wide are her eyes:
She's too young to know of the evil that people may do.
She is so wise,
She knows it regardless and wishes that she never knew.
Don't call her, for God's sake,
The creepy little girl;
Bad nights and lies make
The creepy little girl.
She'll stare you down:
Worse things than you are awaiting her later by dark.
Hard is her frown,
Hoping she won't have to dig one more grave in the park.
Young though she's old,
We all look like kids to her, maybe we're worthy to save,
Her hands are cold:
She's reached to a dead man and drawn him up out of his grave.
You won't hear her deeds,
The creepy little girl;
Yet humanity needs
The creepy little girl.
Mary Janes and dress in black,
Pigtails, kneesocks, old knapsack.
This is Sarah my pet snake,
This knife's real and this knife's fake.
Life is never dull or tame.
What is real? Let's play a game.
It's called, "Is There A God?"
Shiver at seeing
The creepy little girl;
Thank her for being
The creepy little girl.
|Tuesday, July 26th, 2016|
|Da da la da
Marlon Webb: Band of the Bold
. Don't ask questions, just watch this video. It will refresh your spirits, clear your head, heal your ingrown toenails, and make you realize there is still some good in the world. Also it is the highest and best possible use of that song by The Proclaimers.
|Sunday, July 17th, 2016|
|confined to fast in fires
Well, that was disturbing. I dreamed--just now, a few minutes ago I woke up and am still close enough to this dream to reach back and touch the feelings of dread that it gave me--that I was at a huge gathering of people in a country club or convention center or huge private home. I could not tell which. If it was a public function building it was unusually fancy and comfortable, with big windows and fireplaces, and lots of books and soft furnishings.
I was with people doing touchy-feely stuff like yoga, and they all seemed overwrought, with the sense of false intimacy that you get when doing something difficult together. There was a handsome woman of about forty and a lean gray man of about seventy who kept getting close to me. The man was creepy and kept staring at me, but when we were flung together by an exercise we were doing, he didn't try anything nasty, just leaned his arms on my shoulders in a circle with several other people while we did stretches together. They kept making extravagant promises that we'd never part and be friends all our lives.
Then I was summoned to another part of the building by an old man whom I knew and liked--possibly my uncle or an old employer, in the dream. I had to go outside on a well-lighted verandah, at night. It was a carriageway, with cars constantly arriving and people getting out, and well-dressed men running to and fro with baggage. There were other people with me who hated the place.
At that point, I heard people singing a song, or else I saw it written over the door of the building like "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." I'm not sure which. It was terrible. I remember thinking even at the time that it was something I'd heard in an inappropriately-gruesome "kids movie" that was only appropriate for adults. It sounded like something that should be sung by the cursed men from the first Pirates of the Caribbean
movie, starving and parching endlessly yet unable to die or be healed. There was a lot more to it than this, and I had the whole thing in my head only a few minutes ago, but I only remember that it sneered at some past promise made to the speaker as being a big lie, and then went on,I've labored here for a thousand years
And I'm still no nearer the throne of God.
...to a jaunty tune.
I went to help my uncle in the big theater attached to the building. He was a cheery old man in evening attire, making sure the caterers brought coffee and the corsages/buttonholes of flowers were handed out to the people pouring into the theater. I tore up a sugar packet in my fingers but didn't really provide much help to my uncle. The corsages were of poppies. Of course they damn well would be. And then I woke up.
I think I just dreamed myself into either Purgatory or the fairy realm. I'm not sure which, and either one has problems. The fear that came over me when I heard that song, or saw it on the wall, is difficult to convey. I want to run screaming, but I'm not sure from what.
|Saturday, July 16th, 2016|
|I'll set my foot on board of a ship and sail all over the sea
First seen on Tumblr earlier today: Utsuro-bune
, the urban legend/folktale of a "hollow ship" that washed ashore in 1803 on the coast of Hitachi province in Japan. Illustrations here
. There are several different versions reported by historians and ethnologists of the 1800s; the details that remain constant are these.
A hollow vessel washes ashore. It's not like a ship; it's variously compared to a rice pot or an incense burner. It seems to be watertight, made of strange materials, and banded with "fine iron" (possibly steel?). When people investigate, they find that inside is a young woman, under five feet tall, clothed in an unknown style of garments made of fine fabric, with long hair of a red or blonde color, possibly shading to white at the ends or extended with white fur or fibers. She has some water and provisions with her. She also has a box, which she will not open or set down. No one gets a chance to see what's inside. She speaks a language no one understands, and after some time and repeated failures at communication, she goes away in the hollow ship again.
I like everything about this. It's like a UFO story with a ship instead of a flying saucer. Everything is unanswered. What's in the box, to coin a phrase? The most elaborate story version has an elder speculate that it's the head of the man she loved, who was executed for her sake. Then again, there's a similar story about a Wake-hime ("Princess Wake") who brought the silkworm from China in a hollow ship all by herself, so maybe it's silkworm caterpillars. What do her clothes look like? Is she wearing powdered white hair like Marie Antoinette, or has she bleached her hair white, or braided it with animal fur? Where the hell is she from, and what language is she trying to speak, and who made that damn hollow ship and why was she inside it? And why would she ever get back into it?
In one version the people who find her put her back into the hollow ship and push her out to sea again, because they think it is her fate. In another, her fate is not revealed. The wiki article has a line about the Wake-hime version, where she stays, gets married, and becomes the founder of the Kawano dynasty. That one's the most upbeat, but it also has explanations and justifications and is much less eerie as a result.
I love finding stories like this that I've never heard before! It doesn't fit neatly into any category--you can't exactly call it a folktale, a historic incident or an urban legend. Mostly, I just want her to be okay and get where she is going safely.
Maybe all our ideas about her being a Danae-like victim of a terrible punishment are off base. Maybe she's a daredevil like Reza Baluchi
, whose story I located by Googling "floating hamster wheel guy." Back in 1803 there wasn't really a Coast Guard to pull her over and yell at her, so she could have bobbed around in her absurd little floating incense burner boat to her heart's content.
|Wednesday, July 13th, 2016|
|I'm perfectly clam
17th-century-and-earlier revenge tragedy rewrites of famous narratives are becoming A Thing on Tumblr. Why should they have all the fun? Here
is my current favorite, a summary of the deeply gruesome and nihilistic "The Madman's Tragedy" with discussion questions.
|Thursday, June 30th, 2016|
|Song: "The Concrete Frog Murder" (co-authored with arrogantemu)
Back about a month ago, arrogantemu
and I wrote this song while on a camping trip, in a burst of mutual inspiration, and I've finally had a chance to type up the words. It was such a collaborative effort that I can't even remember who wrote which line, but we contributed equally. The tune is "Five Nights Drunk." It's based on a true story: Leigh Anne Sabine's murder of her husband John Sabine
, which happened sometime in 1997 but which only recently hit the news after Ms. Sabine's own death.
The Concrete Frog Murder
While strolling out one evening
All to the church bazaar,
To see our friends and neighbors
And ask them how they are,
We met with Mrs. Johnson
A-sitting in the sun,
She said, "I've killed my husband,"
We said, "Pull the other one."
"Oh no, you must believe me,
My husband Frank is dead,
I hit him with a concrete frog
And put him in the shed."
When I went down the stylist's
For a shampoo and set,
My hairdresser said to me,
"Have you heard the gossip yet?
Mrs. Johnson's husband left her,
He must have gone away."
"Well, that explains the tasteless joke
She made the other day."
Mrs. Johnson lived all lonely
As the years went rolling on,
If you ask my opinion
She seemed glad that he was gone.
If Frank was ever mentioned
Down the pub on Friday night,
She'd always make the same sick joke--
We laughed to be polite.
Now amateur dramatics
Are a longtime love of mine,
I said, "I'm directing Hamlet
Mrs. Johnson said, "That's fine,
I've got a skull that you can use,
It's in the garden shed,
It belonged to my dead husband,"
"Not this again," I said.
Now Mrs. Johnson passed away
Quite peacefully in bed,
We called a cleaning service
To clear out her garden shed,
They found a body in a tarp
All rolled up like a log,
And in the forehead was a dent
Shaped like a concrete frog.
Whoever would have thought it?
She never even said!
That sweet old lady frogged poor Frank
And put him in the shed.
|Sunday, May 22nd, 2016|
|"We regret that we cannot prepare poached eggs."
Well, I was looking up addresses for [part-time job], and in trying to confirm the address of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, I found:
--It's in the theater district, aka the Tenderloin, known to me as the Wretched Hive, the petty-crime-and-drug neighborhood of downtown San Francisco, right around the corner from the street where I stayed in the youth hostel on my trip this past winter. It was a fun but nervous-making time.
--It's next door to the Pinecrest Restaurant, a 24-hour diner which looked lovably big and seedy and old-fashioned to me. I wanted to eat there, but they were always packed with a line down the sidewalk on the days I had time to go there.
--The Pinecrest was the site of a freak crime in 1997 that is the stuff of legend in San Francisco. It's worth of a Tim Powers novel in its down-to-earth details and random nature suggesting deeper meanings.Here's the full story
. To sum up: on July 24, 1997, a woman, whose name is unknown to me but who is invariably described as an "attractive woman" by the later reports, sat down in the Pinecrest Diner at the counter and ordered poached eggs. The chef, Hashem Zayed, made them for her despite their not being on the menu. Helen Menicou, whose position is given as "waitress" in the news but who had been daytime manager of the Pinecrest for years
, yelled at Zayed and told him not to make poached eggs. This much is known to multiple witnesses because the Pinecrest has an open-plan kitchen and food prep takes place in full view of the customers. It is unclear whether the Attractive Woman got her food.
Following this, Zayed went on an all-night gambling binge, during which he lost thousands of dollars, including money Menicou had lent him. At what point she lent it to him is unclear, but she lent him gambling money regularly and might have given him money during/after the shift where they fought about the eggs. The next morning, he came to work with a .380 semiautomatic handgun, announced he would shoot Helen Menicou, and shot her five times. She died in the hospital half an hour later. Zayed went to prison, where he died of a brain tumor three years later, without ever having offered an explanation about why he had gone so far as to murder his co-worker as a response to her yelling at him.
If I'd known all this, I would have made the Pinecrest a priority during my visit, because I am ghoulish and want to see where it happened. I also find this a very scary story because massive overreactions are fearsome. Like the fear of a co-worker going postal or one of your fellow students showing up to school with a gun: work together for twenty-plus years in relative ease, and then one day your co-worker responds to your yelling at him by taking a gun and shooting you to death.
I think people read about this and want to make a complex or supernatural explanation for the murder. You could make the Attractive Woman an active factor in the murder. Maybe she shows up and looks you in the eye and strips away all your inhibitions, and you lose the repression that makes you able to function in human society. She's like the Santa Ana in "Red Wind
" by Raymond Chandler. Or maybe Hashem Zayed and Helen Menicou were secretly lovers (unglamorous middle-aged food-service-industry lovers, but still), and this was a Frankie and Johnny crime of passion. Or maybe this was Hashem Zayed's initiation into the bad-guy club, and the Attractive Woman was there with a message from Bad Horse saying that if he was so evil, he had to murder his co-worker within twenty-four hours.
But it's also true that people who spend a lot of time together are capable of nasty, deep, stewing rage and hate, and 90% of accidents happen in the home, so I'd write this off as a domestic-violence-level murder.
|Sunday, May 8th, 2016|
|New-England bore you
I found this among my papers from a few months ago, as I was tidying up just now. I recall I was trying to create the most generic weird horror protagonist/Call of Cthulhu PC ever.
Name: Lloyd Freeborn
Vital stats: 5' 5 1/2", br/bl, receding hairline
Residence: 12 Acorn Street #3, Boston, MA
Occupation: independently wealthy poet-manque
Club: St. Botolph's
Personal life: repressed
Hobbies: biblophily, swooning, table tennis, nighttime city walks
Personal aesthetic: subpar J.C. Leydendecker
Health issues: migraines, depression, anxiety, insomnia
Pets: 1 cat ("Lydia Languish," tabby)
|When I first saw the City of the Labyrinth, it was standing in all its glory
Looking up road signs for an unrelated task, I came across this streetview of a road in Buenos Aires
that looks like a setting from a Borges story. I've no idea what went on here, but something scary and under-described and full of knife fights and old grudges and reminders that humans are only mayflies on the cosmic scale.
On a side note, I wonder what logic Google uses to blot out signs and address numbers in streetview. It seems to happen erratically, and solely in English-speaking countries plus some parts of Europe.
[Subject line is not actual Borges. Subject line is my recollection of that line from Bridge of Birds
by Barry Hughart, at the point when I realized they were going on a quest to the lair of a Borges-themed supervillain.]
|Wednesday, May 4th, 2016|
I have NEW PANTS! I have never spent this much on one pair of jeans before. But they've turned out to be one hundred per cent worth it. They're the height, length, breadth, and color I wanted, and the surface even feels pleasantly smooth and downy.
I have some unusual sizing requirements of jeans. I'm tall, and have very long cylindrical hips, so high-waisted pants on me look like mid-rise pants would look on a medium-sized person. Also, I require the cuffs to hit the tops of my feet, because there were periods of my youth where none of my pants ever came all the way down my legs, and I never want to dress like Milhouse from "The Simpsons" ever again. Also, I require the material to feel nice. I require also that as long as I'm making the effort to wear jeans, they should be fitted and flattering, and not have any trendy fake wear patterns or attention-getting marks.
I hate low-rise jeans because they make any wearer's torso look shapeless. Seriously, better we all hike our pants up to nipple level like old men. Actually, I grew up hating jeans, overall (uh, as it were). Every pair of jeans I put on until like the early 2000s was a horrible hard stiff raspy unforgiving prison for the skin, which hurt the backs of my knees when I crouched, and which never got any softer no matter how much I tried to wash it and "break it in," and you all must have hated jeans as much as I did, but pretended to like them and tortured yourselves to be Fashionable. That's the only explanation I can think of. I am onto you all. (I feel about my first twenty-five years of jeans the way some other friends of mine on Tumblr feel about booze: "it tastes like bug spray why are u all pretending to like the taste of bug spray.")
So, I got along with corduroys, loose cotton pants, and formal wool or pressed linen pants. Then fairly recently I encountered the concept of jeans that were stretchy and smooth and didn't feel like a Brillo prison for my legs. But I've also been relentlessly short of money, and hard to fit, and reluctant to go in big department stores because they're an assault on the senses. So for the last year or so I've had one really presentable pair of jeans that I could wear to a business-casual work day, and one that is visibly slightly worn and baggy, and that's it. Until recently.
A salute to the anonymous Toast commenter who mentioned looking for tall long-waisted jeans, and the other anon who suggested Madewell jeans. My order just arrived, I tried them on, and, well, I'm not going to post photos anytime soon because that would require effort, but please picture a fantastically well-dressed woman marching back and forth in front of her mirror going :D
In conclusion PAAAAAAAAANNNNTS
|Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016|
|Sing a roundelay: Traditional Song Swap, Sunday, April 3, 1:00 p.m.
You're all invited--RSVP and come sing!
From the Facebook announcement:Come and share your songs! Let's have a lot of good choruses and participatory songs, plus solo songs and ballads. This swap is for unaccompanied singing. The focus is on traditional songs, but I won't say no to recent songs too.
For directions, please comment here, message me or send me an e-mail at aprilcatherinegrant at gmail dot com. I live right near Powderhouse Square; parking in my neighborhood is free on Sundays.
I'll provide tea and soft drinks. Bring snacks if you feel like it, but this isn't a potluck, so all you need to bring is yourself and some songs.