June 8th, 2013


Howard Hughes vs. The Wide Carnivorous Sky*

Fortunately, there are some wispy white clouds up there this afternoon. It's 69˚F, and I opened my office window because I could no longer stand the stale air. Last night, I thought it would rain forever. We've had 3.23" inches in the last twenty-four hours (according to Accuweather). The sunlight is dappling the leaves of the tree outside the window. It's a wonderful March day out there.

Hint: If you're going to write a "review" for Amazon stating – in the title – that you are unable to recommend a book, it helps it you at least know how to spell "recommend." (Van; "I don't reccomend it"; May 12, 2013)

Try to imagine this, all you Millennials (and everyone else who has forgotten): an age, only a decade and spare change back, when it was illegal for the Federal government to listen in on your phone calls, or peek at what library books you'd checked out, or open your mail. As in, very, very, very illegal. Without due process. Without warrants. Privacy guaranteed by the US Constitution. Can you wrap your digitized brains around that? Now, imagine that people actually cared about violations of their privacy. Wait, first you have to fully understand the concept of privacy....

No work yesterday. Frankly, I'm impressed I survived yesterday, so I'm not going to go hard on myself for not writing. I think I answered maybe two emails (all to my editor at Penguin), while I watched others piling up. I'll get to those today.

Bad insomnia this ayem; I didn't get to sleep until after five. I'm supposed to go shopping for a new clothing today, and new shoes. I loathe shopping.

Last night, Kathryn and I watched Simon Hunter's post-apocalyptic Mutant Chronicles (2008), a film with a title so silly it would fit on just about any anime series. However, once you get past the title, it's a fairly enjoyable and visually engaging film. Okay, there are other caveats. Like John Malkovich's snoozefest of a five-minute cameo. And the fact that Ron Perlman is miscast as a monk, and spends most of the film muttering in a bad Irish accent and hulking about like an ape peeping out from beneath a red table cloth. But the film itself is admirably ambitious. It manages to transcend its inspiration: a 1993 pen-and-paper RPG of the same title, and delivers a curious sort of steampunkish homage to old-school WWI/WWII films, shot in the style of far more expensive and high-profile films such as 300 and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. If the characters seem cardboard (though they often don't), it's because they're intentional archetypes, and this in no way detracts from the film. If the acting occasionally seems wooden, again, it's clearly an intentional conceit. Anna Walton was especially nice as the monk Severian; you may remember her as Princess Nuala in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. But the real star here is the world the film creates. Mutant Chronicles is by no means a great film, but it's definitely worth a look if you can find a copy. I'd never even heard of it until last night (it got virtually no US release, but seems to have been moderately popular in Russia).

Now, gotta see if this day will be as bad as the last two (I seriously doubt it can manage that).

I used to write letters; I used to sign my name,
Aunt Beast

* Not a John Langan reference; I coined that phrase in 2006.