July 14th, 2008

Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes and the Lobster Women of Planet Glort

This is one of those mornings when I'm not awake, but there are things I need to remember. So, I made a list, and I have to hope I left nothing important off the list. Not a bad day yesterday. I wrote 1,104 words on Chapter Three of The Red Tree. Today may go quite a bit slower, and may yield fewer words, as I have to do some on-the-fly research into Puritanism and Rhode Island in the early 1700s.

Subterranean Press has officially announced A is for Alien and has now begun taking preorders. You guys know how the subpress books tend to sell out, especially the limited editions, so I expect you'll want to act sooner than later, if you want a copy of the book. Each story will include an illustration by Vince Locke, and there is an afterword by Elizabeth Bear. Also, the KGB Fantastic Fiction Raffle began at midnight last night. It includes, among many delightful things donated by many delightful authors, my contributions of a full run/one-year subscription of Sirenia Digest (44 issues total!), back issues to be delivered on CD. Also, I have contributed a copy of the 3rd edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder (2008). Raffle tickets are only $1 ea. (more tickets you buy, the better your chances of winning), so please, have a look, and support a great reading series. Winners will be announced July 28th.

As for the rest of yesterday, it's already going blurry around the edges. I blame the pills that make me sleep. After the writing, I helped Spooky hang more pictures, and then we drove over to the the Dexter Training Ground and the Armory on Federal Hill, and walked about the park (photos below, behind the cut). She made spaghetti for dinner. Harlan called, but I missed him and need to call back today. Spooky baked a pie with six of the apples from our CSA bag. We watched Michael Haneke's shot-by-shot remake of Funny Games (2007; his original version was released in 1997), and found it impressive. Quite apart from the torture porn of films like Hostel and Saw, Funny Games forces the viewer to confront and consider hisherit's fascination with (and complicity in) violent cinema. The fourth wall is breached repeatedly, and conventions are purposefully violated, keeping the voyeur constantly off balance. The film is even more powerful for consigning almost all the actual acts of violence and most of the gore off camera, sometimes just out of sight, again thwarting and frustrating expectation. It's not often that I find a film almost too grim to endure, but this one comes close —— in a good way. Highly recommended. Though, it still frustrates me to see evidence that Naomi Watts is actually a good actress, leading me to believe she simply wasn't allowed to act in Jackson's King Kong.

Spooky's going to get the eBay auctions going again today, and has asked me to apologize to the winners of the "cephaloflap" and "doodleflap" auctions, whose items still have not shipped. Your packages will be going out today or tomorrow. Blame the chaos that we can't quite seem to shake off. The chaos, it's rather like napalm, or getting gum in your hair.

There was an interesting comment yesterday regarding my roleplay travails (and my improv/method acting approach to rp) in Second Life, which I thought I would repost here, as it also concerns my writing. Chris Walsh writes:

Yes, and I know it's what I'd want my personal ideal RP to be, were I into roleplaying. I can appreciate the skills involved in improv and acting, though I don't have those skills (nor the inclination to develop them; I'd rather write as a creative outlet), and it seems having those skills would make RP inherently more interesting. Out of curiosity, how long have you been into RP? How much had you done before you got into Second Life? I've no idea if you were a D&D type growing up, for instance.

To which I replied:

I've been into rp, of one sort or another, since high school (D&D, etc.), though I'd say that the "pretend" of childhood is the true beginning of all rp (and theatre). So, lots, of one sort or another (and some acting), before SL.

To which he then replied:

Ah, childhood; that was when I would playact, and also when I was vaguely headed towards this writing thing. (I know I'm, at best so far, at the stage J. Michael Straczynski was when he called Harlan Ellison out of the blue asking for his words of wisdom for fledgling fiction writers. Harlan just said, "Your writing sucks. When it no longer sucks, it will sell." Straczynski took that in the spirit it was meant and endeavored to have his fiction Not Suck.)

I've sometimes felt I'm a "behind-the-scenes" performer, kind of like Howard Ashman when he'd record his interesting demos for his songs, as opposed to someone who'd feel comfortable on a stage or in a roleplaying environment. I don't have the in-the-moment ability to become someone different in those environments; I'd be a stiff actor. (Writing, of course, gives you more time to think Now if I were a completely different person than myself, how would I behave here?) What sort of acting have you done? Stage stuff? Filmed stuff? And any of it worth sharing?

And I replied:

Here's the thing (and I think this goes for writing and for rp): You do not think, "What would this person say?" or "What would this person do?" Rather, like method acting, you so completely immerse yourself in the mind of the character that their actions become your second nature, almost your first. Then there are no questions to be asked, no deliberations to be made, no hesitation (unless they hesitate). You can't be stiff, because you are the character in question, and you know how hesheit will react to any given situation, or better still, knowledge is replaced by instinct, and you are free to simply act. Oh, all of it was high school and college. Yes, it's true. I was a drama-club nerd.

By the way, it just came back to me, that this morning I dreamt I was in some sort of post-apocalyptic production of Romeo and Juliet. I have no idea what role I played, but there were blizzards and the most brilliant lightning.

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