Note to self: Sin Titulo, by Cameron Stewart. Kind of like … an oddly light (in some ways) Donnie Darko/The Red Tree/Unknown Armies bastard love child. That will make sense to only a handful of people who stumble across this, I’m sure. Anyway, it’s brimming with really tasty ideas, although the ending was far too neat, in my opinion. When I mean a character who seems like he’s fallen out of one of the stories mentioned above … let’s just say my expectations were very different.
Still, worth a read. And the art is pretty sharp, too.
South Bend folks: We have our very own Banksy, y’all. CAD is my new hero. I was going to grab a camera this weekend and go hunting for all the easter-egg stencil art tags I’ve been seeing around town, but s/he saved me the trouble. All it took was a quick search for the signature “CAD flower bomb” I’ve seen in a few places. I just wish the locations were posted along with the pics, so I could watch for the ones I haven’t spotted yet when I’m out and about.
This – this is a thing that makes me happy.
Let’s be clear about this: I’m still no fan of D&D in any of its incarnations. However, a writer I quite like (Erin Palette of Curse/Or fame) has just published the first installment of her fantasy campaign setting in Claw/Claw/Bite magazine. Erin has posted previews of her Pellatarrum setting on Lurking Rhythmically, but I’m glad to see her RPG work paying off, too.
Go grab a copy of CCB if you can — issue 18 is on sale at RPG Now for $2.99 at the moment.
Also, if you haven’t been to her blog, you really should. Y’know, especially if you’re into “hot goth-girl beseeching action!” Or awesome modern mythic fiction. Or gaming. Or guns. Or Discordianism. Or sarcasm ++. Oh, hell, just go visit her already.
A brief break while I wait for the other computer to reboot. Again. (Also: Two updates in one day. Huzzah!)
So I was talking to Terling today and he made an off-hand comment about a “cheese doodle fingered basement dweller” that instantly made me think of a story I’d read a magazine years and years ago. It was not a happy thought. Turns out, he’d read the same story, and it had somehow managed to scar both of us enough that it had burned itself into our psyches as a Very Bad Thing.
After a few moments, I managed to remember the name of the story, which I almost never do — especially with my terrible memory and the fact that the story dates from over 20 years ago. So, out of morbid curiosity, I looked it up and found it online almost instantly:
I didn’t recall it being a GRRM story, but then, that would have meant little to me, I guess, since I’ve never read anything else by him. I don’t recall specific details of the story, at the moment, just persistently awful and vague impressions of fat, maggoty fingers covered in Cheeto powder, sick obsession, sexual threat, and stealing someone’s life. Even to this day, Cheetos give me a reflexive momentary twinge of uneasiness. Job well done, Mr. Martin.
Wait. Is it just me, or does that sound suspiciously like a MrFenris NPC? Hm.
In any case. Yes, so I would have been, oh, 12 or 13, I guess, when I borrowed the magazine from a friend and read this story on the long bus ride home after school in 1987. We were the last stop, of course, and by the time we got home, the bus was empty except for me, my little brother, and the bus driver. Normally I didn’t mind the ride, since I mostly just read anyway, but I do remember being strangely relieved when we finally escaped the bus and flipped on the TV to watch “Transformers” and “GI Joe” on the obnoxiously fuzzy Chicago station we could only get on cloudy days. At least then I wasn’t alone with that horrid story anymore.
I don’t really remember much else from 1987 except that it was a year full of pre-teen obsession over Lost Boys, Stand By Me, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was also the first year of junior high, and heralded the discovery and devouring of Dragonlance novels, the first and second chronicles of Thomas Covenant (what an ass … I’m still not entirely sure how I made it through six books of that), and Elric and the other eternal champions.
And “The Pear-Shaped Man,” apparently. /shudder
I suppose I’ll have to re-read the actual story at some point. If I’m going to be scarred for life by something, it seems that I should at least know why, right? It is amazing to me, the powerful reactions that a story can evoke, even 20+ years later.
Which makes me wonder: can you think of any similar stories you read ages ago that you can’t quite get out of your head?
So I’ve been getting CRK’s Sirenia Digestfor the last couple of months. It’s a monthly PDF containing new short stories and/or vignettes, written, produced, and disseminated by one of my favorite authors. (In addition to all the other writing projects she has going at any given moment.)
Last month I wrote a review of sorts for FlamesRising.com. I’m not a literary critic by any means … but I do love CRK’s writing. And I still find myself waking up thinking about “John Four” at least once or twice a week. Apparently that story really struck a chord. I suspect I ought to be very worried about that.
There are a handful of DVDs I keep at hand — my “comfort” movies. Some, I’ve seen so many times I can pretty much recite them by heart; some, I only dig out once or twice a year when a particularly black mood settles in.
One of the less frequently viewed movies is a modern fairy tale called Chocolat (2000), starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, and a host of other familiar faces. It has no spells or witches or dragons; no fairies or monsters. The magic it does have is mostly in the telling, and it features a Quest that still strikes a nerve 10 years later.
Vianne, the main character, is an independent spirit; she opens a chocolate shop during Lent, she wears brilliant red shoes and dances with river gypsies shunned by the rest of the town. And yet, she is always beckoned by the lure of the clever north wind. It leads her from road to road, from city to city, wandering even as there’s a part of her that desperately wants to belong … somewhere. It’s unclear from the narration whether the north wind calls to her at whim or only when she’s in danger of settling in one place for too long, but when the beckoning becomes irresistible, and the fight to belong too lonely and wearying, she packs up her daughter and heads to the next town to try again.
The story is nothing earth-shattering, but it’s one that comes to mind now and then, particularly when I’m feeling restless and apprehensive. Vianne can have her clever north wind, though — the south wind is the one that knows how to whisper to me. Not that I’m in any real danger of packing up and leaving town, not for a good long while, at any rate, but that tug of warm breeze, the scent of southern rain on the wind, it comes with its own kind of restlessness that whines and pricks and boils the blood. Throw in a hazy full moon peeking out behind racing clouds, and I’m at a loss to explain why the whole county isn’t out wandering the backroads all at once.
Last weekend the lure led me to Red Arrow Highway, to antique shops and art galleries and Turkish ispanak. Tonight it was the backroads of my old hometown, warped now by the landscaping for an invasive new highway, and lit by the tacky outdoor Christmas decorations now adorning the utility poles along the highway that passes through the town center.
We had talked earlier today of a dog who delighted in pulling children along on a sled behind her, and it called to mind a blizzard many years ago that shut down our county for a week or so. I remember walking with my mother, pulling our sleds along snowmobile ruts a mile down the country road into that tiny downtown to fetch groceries. Days after the blizzard, the roads had not yet been cleared, and we were out of milk and bread, so to the ancient-of-days Annis Food store we trudged.
One last thing. While I was out, I saw two raccoons, three deer, many cats, and a coyote with eyes that glowed yellow in my headlights. Apparently I wasn’t the only one wind-restless tonight.
So REALMS OF FANTASY died in ‘09 from lack of newsstand sales, and was bought by one of Warren Lapine’s new companies. Lapine, who ran a cheapo mini-empire of sf/f magazines that fell apart amid claims of financial impropriety, claims to have put more than USD $50K into the relaunch of the bi-monthly. And it died again a month or two back. And now it’s been bought again, by an operation called Damnation Press whose rep doesn’t survive even the most cursory of googlings. Tobias Buckell has collected a lot of them. If, for whatever confused reason, you’d like to submit your fiction to a magazine with the healthful glow of a 1970s Soviet premier, I would suggest you read Mr Buckell’s collation before making your mind up.
I was a huge RoF fan in its first incarnation. Less of a fan once I restarted my subscription with the second owner. I guess we’ll see what comes of this version.
Today I also discovered Faerie Magazine, via Heidi at SurLaLune. I’m tempted to subscribe just for her articles on fairy tales and folklore … and also because I do miss the heyday of RoF. It was always full of good stories, essays and art. /sigh
I’ve been following the SurLaLune blog for a while, now, and I have to say, Heidi usually offers some great tips and insight on new and upcoming books and media. (I also lust after their entire back catalog, and have for many years, now. Ah, to be rich…)
Still can’t shake the sinus headache, so mostly I just have a video to share today, found via GaS. 8BITS is a strangely nostalgic short, at least for me: part Nightmare before Christmas, part platformer mash-up, part Little Big Planet, part Matrix. No, really. Have a look.
Additional videos that have amused me in the last week or so:
OkGo: White Knuckles. Still not a big fan of their music, but I’ll admit to being a fan of their videos nonetheless. They continue to amaze with their one-take process, particularly since this vid involves dog wrangling.
In other news, Mabon is this Wednesday, the 22nd. In all honesty, I’m not particularly demonstrative when it comes to my practice, and prefer to mark the days of the Wheel simply — by making a point to enjoy whatever food I associate most with the season. For me, Mabon means apples and spiced cider and apple butter and … you get the idea.
Soon the air will turn chilly, and the sun will retreat behind the perma-shroud that is the winter sky in Indiana. Mabon is my reminder to pause and appreciate this season before it flashes past, to admire its beauty and enjoy the last few days of summer as they trail into autumn.
Ending on another happy note, my good friend Monica pointed out an awesome new review for her Queen of Crows eBook (which is on sale again for $2.99):
Excellent story, great art, and I absolutely loved the idea of the “DVD Extra’s” like bonus features. This just screams “fearless author” to me, someone who’s not afraid to say “here’s my story, here’s my inspiration, here’s some character notes, and here’s an early draft so you can see how far it’s come.”
Absolutely intrigues me with the authors Violet Wars world setting and her other works of fiction. Well worth the price; would highly recommend.
Author Caitlin R. Kiernan has been doing an intriguing series of posts on her blog showcasing music videos that embrace the unexplainable story nature of weird fiction. She’s chosen some stellar examples, to be sure. (Visit her “weird fiction” tag page for viewing and commentary.)
Those who have made the list so far:
Placebo – “Pure Morning”
Radiohead – “Just”
Bjork – “Oceania”
Damien Rice – “9 Crimes”
Fever Ray – “If I Had a Heart”
Radiohead – “Karma Police”
Tool – “Prison Sex”
NIN – “The Perfect Drug”
Depeche Mode – “The Perfect Caress”
I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness – “The Owl”
Aphex Twin – “Come to Daddy”
We never had cable, growing up, so it’s only been with the advent of YouTube that I’ve seen much in the way of videos. I’d seen two of these before, but it’d been so long, I’d forgotten them.
Interestingly, numbers 7, 10 and 11 reminded me of a couple of very specific Edige games — 7 and 10 made me think of Wayward nearly instantly, with a very distinct and terrible Keeper/Changeling vibe to them. “Come to Daddy” felt very much like a mashup of ”City of Ocean” and John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness. /shudder
And really, is I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness not the best band name ever? I’m really looking forward to more of these posts; I’d never heard them or Damien Rice before, so it will be interesting to see what else she comes up with.
This is the weekend I accomplished nothing. Well, nothing except burying my nose in a handful of books.
I took Mom home from the hospital on Friday, and so I stopped at the bookstore on the way, thinking I should pick up a few books to take along when I stayed with her. Strangely enough, after I got her home, we were both immediately exhausted for some strange reason and napped for a good three hours or so. She puttered around the house a bit, and after a good half an hour of testing things out with the walker, announced that I could leave. Which was not our deal; I was supposed to stay with her for the first few nights home, and she insisted that I should not — that she was getting along perfectly well and I’d only be sitting around watching her sleep, and she’d had quite enough of that, thankyouverymuch.
In the end, she had me go and pick up her prescriptions and then chased me out. I think she just desperately wanted to be alone for a while, after the constant worrying and wake-ups and phone calls and poking and prodding of the last few days.
So, instead of hanging out at Mom’s this weekend, I made myself utterly useless and had a reading binge the likes of which I haven’t done in years:
Roadkill -book 5 of Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series. Good, as usual, although I found myself a tad annoyed that it took Cal so long to figure out how to rid the earth of the Plague of Worlds.
Just Another Judgement Day – book 9 of Simon R. Green’s Nightside series. Fun, if only for getting to see old favorite characters again, and the latest twist on the odd relationships between John Taylor and Mr. Walker and Taylor and Suzy Shotgun. Possible hints that the terrible future glimpsed in Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth may come to pass. Otherwise … a fast read and sort of forgettable. (Also: John Taylor’s trademark snark just doesn’t even come close to Cal, Nikos and Robin from the Leandros novels.)
The Red Tree – Caitlin R. Kiernan. Builds slowly, takes an awful lot of autobiographical color from the author — which isn’t bad, just odd, to see it used so freely — and employs a few conceits I’m not particularly fond of. Even so, Kiernan manages to reinforce her status as the only author who has successfully managed to creep me out in a very potent and visceral way, and always makes me bone-cold afraid for her characters, even though I know going into the story that it cannot possibly end well. It never does — and in this case, we’re told as much before the novel proper even begins.
And now it is after 1 AM and I should go to bed, probably to dream about dark and endless caverns of muck and still black pools, snaking off from the basement, and dog people with red-brown eyes, and murderous red oaks, with their leaves falling everywhere…