Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kung Fu Puppetry

I bought brown paper lunch bags to make puppets for my kid. They only come in packs of 100 so I thought, "What the hell do I do with 100 paper bags?" Well, obviously...make 100 puppets. Here are puppets # 1 and 2, Pai Mei the evil white eyebrow priest and Shin Wong the shaggy-haired kung fu hero. I tried to make Shin Wong look like Bruce Lee but making a paper bag look like Bruce Lee is harder than it sounds. I originally just made Pai Mei, but when I informed my son he is a naughty guy, he demanded a good guy so they can fight.

I have 64 more ideas so far as I make more I will post them as well!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Short Stories III

1. Vintage/Anchor Books is giving away a crapton of nice Dickens novels in a sweepstakes on Facebook. 7 in all, including my favorites Bleak House and A Tale of Two Cities. Head on over and enter, and I'll try to be happy for you if you win and I don't.

2. I just had a short piece accepted into an erotica anthology (I know, I know!). I'll let everyone know when it's out. Also, Earthbound Fiction's anthology Dark Stars should be out soon. My short story "Christmas Eve in New London" is in it! Cover art should be available soon.

3. You may be interested to know that I am a regular on The Yellow Menace Podcast. It's me and 3 guys and we get together and bullshit about things and talk about a movie every time. The newest one just came out; we talk about Irma Vep (starring Maggie Cheung, who is stunning) and why the PS Vita isn't selling well in Japan (I think because it is ugly).

4. I love this video. It is Werner Herzog- or a reasonable facsimile thereof- reading Curious George. There is a whole series of videos of this guy deconstructing children's books as everyone's favorite crazy-ass director, but this is my favorite. Although The Night Before Christmas is pretty damn funny too.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Usurper

Ugh, I took out my t-shirt drawer to organize it and just look what happened.

She sat in there for 8 whole hours without moving once.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Boy Named Charlie Brown

My toddler has been on a Charlie Brown kick lately. I am pretty sure that over the past month I have seen every Peanuts special made between 1960-1990. And here's the awful thing:

I no longer enjoy these shows. Not because I am a jaded adult, but because I just end up feeling awful for poor Charlie Brown at the end of every single one.

Here's this poor kid who has some kind of genetic disorder which prevents him from growing hair (possibly the same one from which Calliou suffers), and everyone hates him. He has one friend, who is the constant target of bullies and is hopelessly immature. He is bullied by his friend's older sister, never gets a single Valentine in the mail or at school, has a rotten Christmas, gets rocks from total strangers at Halloween, and his fucking dog can't even remember his name. His parents seem helpless to do anything about his terrible life, and his teachers are no better.

And all he wants is for the little red-haired girl to notice him.

I'm so depressed right now, thinking about poor Charlie Brown. Time to go stuff my face with cupcakes until I feel better.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Inheritance" is Live!

Got a new story up on the very awesome Lovecraft e-zine! Lovecraftian fiction is hard to write (I know; I did three stories before "Inheritance", and it's the first one I thought was halfway decent. But somehow editor Mike Davis attracts amazing writers who can really write some mythos-tic stuff; I'm halfway through Issue 11 and am sad I have to go to bed and finish it tomorrow!

"Inheritance", like a lot of my stories, started out as one thing and became something else. It was intended to be straight-up horror with mythos elements; by the final type-up it was a noir-ish romantic tragedy with mythos elements and (I think) some pretty deep characters.

At any rate, it's free to read or listen to (!), unless you want it for your Kindle/Nook/iPhone/whatever, then it's a whopping 99 cents- well worth every one of those 99 pennies, I might add. And if you read my story, leave a comment please, no matter what you thought of it. I can take it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Crazy Thing Called Love

Because it is Valentine's Day, I am going to post a short film my best friend made a few years back. It's about a lovers' spat, so it's kind of relevant.

A Crazy Thing Called Love

Damn, that dialogue is amazing. I wonder who wrote this film? They deserve a fucking Oscar. Seriously, it's outstanding.

Oh, look at that. It was me.

Love Stories

I am no good at writing love stories.

In nearly all my love stories, at least one half of the couple ends up dead or turned into a monster.

It's not that I don't like happy endings. Actually, it is. I hate happy endings. At best I want my endings to be bittersweet. Happy endings make me want to puke a little. I don't know why. I can't stand romantic comedy films either; I've never ever seen a single one I liked. I guess I was absent the day God handed out girly genes or something. Although I am happily married, I don't like to see other people happy.

I like love stories though, as long as they end tragically. Even better, I like stories about people who are in love but can't be together for whatever reason. When the torment is palpable, I'm in Heaven.

Take my favorite TV show, The X-Files. For 8 years Mulder and Scully solved mysteries and chased aliens and gazed at each other longingly, and everyone loved it. Then they hooked up, even though they didn't tell the audience about it right away, and the show went down the toilet. I didn't even watch the final season, it was so bad (I admit I dragged my husband to see the movie that came out a few years back. It was awful, except for AD Skinner, who showed up near the end and did something sort of badass that I can't entirely remember).

I've already mentioned a couple of my favorite love stories in my "A Few of My Favorite Things" posts: The Persian Boy (dead) and Shogun (also dead). I'll also add Kazuo Ishiguro's novel The Remains of the Day (and the excellent movie adaptation). It's of the 'tormented, unadmitted love' variety, and is an elegant, heartwrenching read.

I'm not exactly a Jack/Sam fangirl (Stargate SG-1), simply because I haven't watched the series religiously, but I always liked their understated relationship. I especially loved when the writers included an episode where Sam realizes, with no doubt, that nothing can ever happen between them; then, in the very next episode, Sam is hurt and Jack puts his arm around her. So not only did the writers crush the fangirls'/boys' hopes, they then taunted them about it.

Then there's Ghost in the Shell. It's one of my favorite anime franchises, and both the movies and television series give a nod to the unspoken affection between the kickass female main character and her almost-as-kickass right hand man. But they also make it clear it's never going to happen, which lends just enough anguish to make me happy.

Speaking of anime, I lied about hating happy endings. The manga and anime of Emma: A Victorian Romance, is happy. SHUT UP I'M STILL A GIRL. Even if I hate rom-coms.

Tonight the husband and I will do what we always do for Valentine's Day: sit on the couch, eat junk food, and watch the goriest, most violent movie we can find on Netflix. Happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Famous Book Game!

I'm not actually even sure what Pinterest is, but one of my Facebook friends put this picture up on my wall. It's pretty neat; see how many of these books you can guess!

The ones I can't figure out are: the dinosaur/dragon with the little car in the top row, and the goody pink one with a crown between Watchmen and The Wizard of Oz. If anyone knows what they are, drop me a clue please!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things Part III

Gateway – Frederik Pohl

Frederik Pohl is a grand old master of science fiction; he written hundreds of novels and stories, and edited hundreds more. At age 90-something, he keeps a blog,, filled with his canny views on modern society, pictures from his cruise vacations, and wonderful stories about the old days with all the other great Golden, Silver and New Wave writers he knew and worked with.

Gateway is a perfect example of Pohl's signature style; imaginative, far-flung science fiction with realistic human characters at its core. Despite Robinette Broadhead's vast wealth and success, he's a tragic, sorrowful figure, and Pohl really makes you feel for him. His style is simple and easy to read, but Pohl can turn a phrase when he wants too, and his trademark humor and courage- he shies away from no subject- is brilliantly evident in Gateway.

Note: Gateway is the first novel in Pohl's most famous series, The Heechee Saga. So be warned, if you read it you will most likely find yourself sucked in for the long haul.

The Suicide Club – Robert Louis Stevenson

As much as I love Stevenson's swashbuckling adventures in the lowlands and on the high seas, The Suicide Club (a collection of stories) remains my favorite of his works. Stevenson brings his observant eye and sharp wit to early 20th-century society, tackling a topic that's still relevant today: people run down by the routine, who long for something different but can't make it happen, but who don't have the means or courage to make a change. The Suicide Club brings together men who want to die but are too cowardly to do it themselves, so they draw lots to kill each other, sometimes in original or ineffective ways.

Note: Yes, that's a camera flash on the cover. It's an incredibly shiny cover, despite being a Dover Thrift Edition.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rough Around the Edges

My friend has some books coming out this year from a division of Harlequin. She writes erotica. I have read her work. She's a talented writer with a lot of skill, but I can't stand her work. More accurately, I can't stand her characters.

Her characters are all fabulously rich. They are stunningly attractive (normal for erotica, I suppose). They are all highly educated and well-read. Most of all, they are masters of snappy dialogue. To me, what they are saying is drowned in their terribly witty exchanges.

I'm not saying these are bad characters. But I doubt anyone actually appreciates them for who they are. I suspect most readers who like books with characters like these want to be these rich, beautiful, smart, witty people. That's why they'll read them, and like them. There's nothing wrong with this, nothing wrong with liking these sorts of characters.

But I prefer characters that are more realistic. People who stutter and misspeak and get frustrated when others don't understand. People who can't quote Shakespeare, or who didn't even graduate high school. People with scars, weirdly-shaped noses, bad acne, dry hair. The poor, the broken, the angry, the sullen.

Case in point: Annie Proulx's long-form story Brokeback Mountain. Generally considered an amazing story and a heartbreaking tale of love lost. The two main characters in Brokeback Mountain are uneducated. They're not gorgeous. They're inarticulate. All-around rough sorts.

Writers, especially writers who are just starting out, tend to write characters that are similar to themselves ( in my college creative writing classes, there were zillions of stories about young, educated, terribly intelligent people having to work crappy jobs, and feeling contempt for everyone else in the mediocre rat race) . But we have to remember, stories don't just belong to people like us. They belong to everyone. So reach out and explore all those others and learn their stories as well.