Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2014

My partying and costuming will happen tomorrow.  I promised niece Emmy pictures of my ball gown for the masquerade I’m attending, so I’ll post those, assuming they turn out.

In the meantime, ’tis the season for All Hallow’s Read, and the recommending of scary books.  Some of mine:

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells.  My favorite scariest book, bar none.  Seriously wicked.

The October Country by Ray Bradbury. Possibly the greatest horror/supernatural short story collection of all time.  Includes the my all-time favorite story, “Homecoming.”  (In other horrifying news, in googling info for this post I discovered that the first hit for “The October Country Homecoming” is a link to Cliffs Notes for “Homecoming.”  For the single story.  Dammit people, just read it, it’s not that long or complicated!)

Sunshine by Robin McKinley.  This is truly the anti-Twilight.  Girl lives in small town, girl meets vampire — and things do not go well.

What are some of your favorite scary books?

 

cheap drama

October 29, 2014

This is the week I’m supposed to be doing all the stuff I was putting off until after MileHi Con (no more traveling this year!).  That’s not going as well as I’d hoped.  But — I got a really nice surprise last night because I had forgotten that I had tickets to go see Erasure at the Ogden.  Fortunately, I remembered, and went, and had a great time, because Andy Bell is a god.  He came out in sequined tails and top hat and opened with “Oh L’amour,” and I pretty much burst into tears, which makes me think I’ve been a little more stressed out than I realized.  Whew.  I danced for an hour and a half solid.  Nice, huh?

I caught up with last week’s episode of Arrow and it had a bunch of examples of why I like the show so much — most of them involving Ollie and Thea.  So Ollie flies to Corto Maltese to try to talk Thea into coming back home.  And it’s all very straightforward.  While another show might have tried to turn it into some big cat and mouse hunter-seeker thing, where Ollie has to spend the whole episode just looking for her, none of that happens.  He finds her working in a coffee shop, they hug, they sit and talk like adults.  It’s unexpected and it’s great.  Then, when Ollie apologizes for keeping secrets and that he wants to be open with her now, what is the first secret he reveals?  It’s not, “I’m the Arrow.” It’s that their father survived the wreck of the Gambit, but then killed himself so Ollie would have enough food.  It’s an awful story, it’s another bit of lore about their family, and it affects Thea.  Because now Thea is the one keeping secrets — that she’s been training with Malcolm Merlin — and that half the reason she’s doing what she’s doing is so she’ll have secrets of her own, and maybe that’s not a good thing after all.  It’s super clear that this brother and sister still love each other.

The reason I like these story beats is because they avoid low-hanging fruit.  They’re not obvious.  They don’t go for cheap drama — cheap drama would be Thea hating Ollie and them screaming and fighting.  But no, they sit and talk, and there’s a ton of stuff going on in subtext.  The guiding principle in scenes like this isn’t “Let’s get our conflict by having all our characters go after each others’ throats.”  These scenes are anchored on a premise that doesn’t change:  Ollie and Thea love each other, even when they hurt each other and keep secrets and screw up.  The drama comes from watching them try to work it out.

It’s refreshing and I’m really enjoying it.

So I got this idea after Phoenix Comic Con.  I go to conventions and there’s so much cosplay for anime shows that I don’t recognize, and am not familiar with.  I decided that one way to engage would be to make some anime costumes from the shows I watched when I was a kid — some old-school anime cosplay.  I decided this was a great idea, and my artificial deadline became MileHi Con.  A group of us did an Artemis Bridge simulator demo with James S.A. Corey on hand, and while everyone else was wearing Star Trek OS shirts, I was wearing this:

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I mentioned learning that turning a 2-D drawing into an actual outfit was a bit of a challenge — that’s because the lapels on this outfit make no sense when you’re trying to make it.  I’ve made jackets and collars before.  I was thinking of the rules I already knew about making jackets and collars.  Turns out, I had to look at the picture of the Robotech uniform and pretty much just physically cut and sew the pattern to look like the picture rather than trying to make it look like the lapels of a conventional jacket.  Lesson learned!

I had a lot of fun with this, but I also learned that at least among the MileHi crowd, Robotech was not instantly recognizable.  I’m super curious now about what would happen and how many people would recognize it if I wore it to Starfest or one of the comic cons.

(Update: I read over this and realized I forgot to mention that this is Lisa Hayes’ uniform from the original Robotech. Because that’s where my brain is right now.)

 

MileHi Con this weekend!

October 24, 2014

MileHi Con, Colorado’s longest-running SF convention, is in Denver this weekend!  I will be there, doing programming and stuff!  I also have a new costume, which I will be debuting tonight.  I’m excited because there was a point this week where it was not coming together at all and I didn’t think I would have it done.  But it’s done, and the lesson I learned is it’s really really hard turning 2-D anime outfits into 3-D wearable objects.  Massive respect to cosplayers who do anime cosplay on a regular basis.

Will I see you at the con?

Next item:  Let me tell you about the time Kevin Hearne sat me down and asked if I had accepted the Holy Taco into my heart as my personal savory.  What choice did I have at that point but to join the Holy Taco Church, a group of authors who like food.  Hey, I like food!  My first post is up here.

In other news, my health insurance sent me email about what I should do if I think I have ebola.  Better safe than sorry I suppose.

 

We truly live in an age of riches, don’t we?  At least on TV.  I can’t keep up with it all, but here’s what I’m trying to keep up with.

Castle:  Well, that’s a strange little storyline they’ve picked up with the season cliffhanger.  I’m glad they’re pretty much ignoring it for now and going back to fun one-off episodes.  This may not be my favorite show anymore, but I’m still enjoying it and the characters, and it hasn’t actively pissed me off yet, and I’m starting to wonder when that’s going to happen.

Arrow:  Still love it, but they’re not giving us a break, are they?

The Flash:  It’s just so goofy and earnest I kind of love it.  One thing I’m really liking:  setting Barry up as this very young, naive hero with two mentor/father figures who know who and what he is, who are protective of him (for different reasons) and at odds with each other.  I’m liking that dynamic.  They’ve also nailed the look and attitude.  Sometimes, voice overs work.

Sleepy Hollow:  I’m just along for the giant WTF ride.

Agents of SHIELD:  Yeah, the standard for superhero TV seems to be “Just throw everything at the viewer all the time yay!” and that’s okay with me.  I’m loving Kyle MacLachlan’s character, and loving that he’s on the show at all.  Adrienne Palicki has given us a hint of what that Wonder Woman TV show that failed to launch a few years ago might have been like if the people making it had known what they were doing.  I’m really liking her (and not just because she was also Lady Jaye in the last GI Joe movie).  In an alternate world, the makers of Arrow worked on Wonder Woman instead.  And now I’m sad about the whole thing all over again.

Face Off:  Still watching, it’s always pleasant watching good art, but this season has been low key and kind of predictable.  I will love it if the former cake decorator wins.

What I’m not watching, not caught up on:

Doctor Who:  I keep telling myself I want to watch this, then keep not watching it.  I know I saw the first episode with the new Doctor.  I can’t actually remember anything about it.  Oh — dinosaurs, right?  I think what I remember about it is that I really want a show starring Madame Vastra and Jenny.

Justified:  Fifth season is spun up and ready to go. No spoilers!

Penny Dreadful:  This is out on DVD now, and it’s the one I really want to see.  Victorian Gothic, with literary references?  This should be called “Carrie, Here Is Your Show!”

 

travel pic: Newgrange

October 20, 2014

This is the front stone of the neolithic passage tomb at Newgrange:

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I saw it, and felt like I was looking at one of the greatest pieces of artwork in the world.  Perfect abstraction 5000 years before actual abstract art became a thing.  (I usually try to take pictures of things without people in them, but I’m glad now that people ended up in this one so you can see the scale of it.)

The tours I took in Ireland were good because they put a lot of history in context for me — especially prehistory, because I kind of had no idea.  Newgrange is old.  Older than Stonehenge.  I kept thinking about the level of organization and sophistication required for a society to be able to put these things together, and it blew my mind, because I realized that there are thousands of tombs, forts, stone circles, and monuments scattered over Britain and Ireland, and that this extensive culture existed to support all that — some 3000 years before the Celts came along.  Everyone thinks of the the Celts when they think of Ireland.  But there was so much more going on before then.

Yeah, I kind of got obsessed.  And yeah, I wrote a story already.  We’ll see what more comes out of this obsession.

 

October 17, 2014

Hey!  So it turns out the first of the string of Wild Cards stories I have coming out went live this week!  “Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza” is up at Tor.com.  Check it out!  I’ve been wanting to do this topic for a while now:  deal with the Wild Card virus being passed along through the DNA of victims — people who’ve inherited the virus rather than been newly infected, and what it looks like to have a family with a Wild Cards heritage. (Very rare, granted, given the fatality rate.  But still, it happens.)

In other news:  I made part of my niece’s Halloween costume this year:

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I’m thinking back to when my Mom made me a Wonder Woman costume when I was about 5, and it was all felt because that’s what was available.  Now, we’ve got gold lamé, sparkly stickers, all kinds of fancy fancy things to make costumes with.  I’m wondering how much of the cosplay revolution is due to the availability of great materials — or if cosplay is driving the availability of great materials?  I don’t know.

Speaking of cosplay, I’m making a Thing that I hope to have finished by Mile Hi Con next week.  I decided to try to adapt an existing pattern, and it’s kind of kicking my ass — it’s just ever so slightly beyond my skill set.  Which I guess is good, because I’m learning something.  We’ll see if I can figure it out this weekend.  If I can just get the collar to work, the rest will be cake.  *rolls up sleeves*

 

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