December 10th, 2006

bear by san

Here's an FYI. You're all going to die screaming.

They're playing the theme from Star Trek on NPR this morning, as the lead in to an interview with Niklas Hedman, a representative of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

In other news, I rock so much today that I would have to charge you a quarter if you wanted to touch me.

Not only is David Bowie my bitch (and it is one of the reasons for the vast regard in which I hold truepenny that when I sent her that news in email last night, she immediately knew that it meant I'd managed to get all the way through "Seven," chord changes and strum patterns and all, although I did not try to sing it), I also managed to get a Bm chord that rang last night. Um, one. In a half hour of trying. And my left forearm still hurts.

But still.

Also, yesterday eve, I conceived of a need, no, a passion for a croissant. Since it's pretty much impossible to buy good croissants, I pressed my finger to my forehead and said, "How hard can these possibly be to make?"

The answer is, not very. Although they are exceedingly time-consuming. So I started them last night, and just, for breakfast, enjoyed the spoils with butter and hot pepper jelly. I overbaked the first trayful (I think I made them smaller than the recipe assumes) but the second batch were perfect. (I substituted half whole wheat flour in the recipe, because, well, I always run out of white flour. It's traditional.)

Also, I have the first season of Criminal Minds on DVD, and yanno, it's one of the best things I've seen on TV in years. There is the occasional tremendously bad episode (the first season ender being a case in point), but when it's on, it's on. And actually draws an honest emotional reaction (other than irritation) from me more often than not, which is something that I really don't get from television often. (Not since early Buffy, I think, and maybe third-season Farscape. And there were two episodes of the 2005 season of Doctor Who that got me--"The Doctor Dances" and the season ender.)

The cool thing about Criminal Minds--other than, you know, an exceptionally cool cast and scads of geeky characters--is that it's not ashamed of being chock-full of smart characters. And it's not afraid to let them be wrong--and being wrong isn't presented as the End Of The World--and moreover, it's not afraid to present them with impossible moral choices. Or to be compassionate and ruthless simultaneously.

(One of my favorite episodes is "Derailed." The delivery of Reid's line "Can I get an ambulance here?" just kills me. Frustration and resignation and determination all at once.)

Anyway, the show hits all my kinks.

It does suffer from the flaws of the 40-minute format, of course. The plots require a fair amount of contrivance and coincidence, and every so often they have the screenwriter tensioning problem--the thing where the textbook says, "add a deadline! and then shorten it!"

But yeah. A TV show I actually like. Wow.

varianor reviews Carnival, and likes it a great deal.

(A couple of factual clarifications: seven, in New Amazonian terms, is closer to thirteen in Earth years, and they actually have a pretty good idea of how to program House, which I think is demonstrated in a couple of places.)

If anybody else is confused about utility fogs, the Wikipedia article is pretty good.

Oh, and communicator reviews the Rich Horton Year's Best Fantasy, although I have a hard time taking criticism by somebody who doesn't know that The Last Unicorn was a book very seriously.

Did I produce today's Weekend Edition and they didn't tell me? So far we've had Alton Brown, moon colonization, Jonathan Coulton, and a thing on actors playing dead bodies on TV.

See, you knew you would get to the content eventually.  I've discovered something interesting, which is that I write better when I have more alone time, or mostly only hang around with people I don't like very much. (Day job coworkers are good.) If I have too much of a social life (which is defined as seeing people I enjoy more than a coupld of days a week) the people in my head sulk and don't want to talk to me.

How much of a pain in the ass is that?

I also hate it when people IM me or telephone when I'm trying to work. Man. Totally breaks my concentration.

Email, for some reason, does not. And chat rooms are all right, possibly because they are there when I want them, and out of the way the rest of the time.

Scalzi's talking about sex. Yanno, I write a lot of sex. (Actually, I have entire novels with no sex whatsoever. It's true!) and I never seem to run into this problem.

Somebody over in Scalzi's blog opined that sex should always be funny, and I don't agree, literarily speaking. Real sex should usually be funny, but real sex, we hope, is good. Much as we hope that real food is good.

Literary sex? Should probably quite often be bad, awkward, violent, self-destructive, needy, hopeless, despairing, resigned, and so forth. It might be a bargaining chip, or a convenient arrangement, or what have you. It's probably often more interesting if fictional characters are having lousy sex than good sex.

Some of it is funny--there's one scene in the Elizabethan books that mostly consists of the persons in the clinch punning at each other (it also contains a discussion of the etymology of the word "buggery," because, well, it would)--but yanno, I mostly don't write sex scenes that in any way attempt to elicit arousal in the reader. That's not what I'm here for. (I also don't write fight scenes to elicit fear or violent reactions in the reader, or love scenes to elicit love, or long diplomatic dinners to elicit boredom. I do write them all to elicit tension, to illuminate character traits I hope the reader will find fascinating, and so on.)

I always find it a little confusing, actually, when somebody tells me a sex scene is hot. *g* Because I'm always thinking, when I'm writing them, about the narrative tension and catharsis and character and thematic development and so on.

I said over in John's blog that I write fights, sex, and conversation the same way--and it's true. It's all about the flow of energy, the give and take of tension. Action, response, reaction, response.

So why do I write so much sex?

Because people in extremis are interesting. They are revealed. The masks are stripped away--or, if the masks are more firmly in place than ever, that's fascinating too. Perhaps even more fascinaing. A mask can reveal a great deal, in the manner in which one wears it.

I am interesting in writing about people who are at the edge of their resources, physical and emotional and moral and intellectual. That's my kink, right there.

Well, that and gentle, ruthless geeky people.

Well, it's ten o'clock. On to guitar practice and then to get my words for the day.
bear by san

Did it ever strike you that "Apollo" is a deeply ironical name for a moon landing project?

Look! very cool counting bracelets for knitters.

*g* So I have old TV programs on in the background while I'm trying to write....

[15:36] matociquala: Kelly: "Look, you got frostbite, you got a lot of bloodloss, you got
 no brains at all--"
[15:37] matociquala: Scotty: "Well, at least I got my health."
[15:37] katallen: heee
[15:37] matociquala: Oo, Robert Culp is taking his shirt off.
[15:38] katallen: o.o
[15:40] matociquala: He's not wearing anything but a shoulder holster underneath it. *g* Somebody hold me
[15:40] matociquala: Can I have one of those to take home?
[15:41] katallen: ::fans::
[15:41] matociquala: heee
[15:41] matociquala: he has freckles on his shoulders.
[15:41] katallen: (they really should do take-out)
[15:41] matociquala: oh yeah
[15:41] matociquala: vending machines
[15:42] matociquala: Illya looks better climbing scaffolding though
[15:42] katallen: he has a talent for it
[15:42] matociquala: Mm.
[15:43] matociquala: And a stunt double with an even nicer body than David had.
[15:43] matociquala: Which was saying something
[15:43] matociquala: Although, hello, I could about read Kelly's serial number through those white jeans.
[15:44] katallen: ::grins::
[15:44] matociquala: Yanno, one thing I love about sixties TV.
[15:44] matociquala: It makes absolutely no bones about exploiting the hell out of the male actors, either. *g*
[15:45] katallen: heee
[15:45] matociquala: *g*
[15:46] matociquala: Oh look, another gratuitous crotch shot.
[15:46] matociquala: Where was I?
[15:47] matociquala: Oh, yeah, everybody dies.
[15:48] matociquala: More corpses than the last act of Hamlet.
[15:49] katallen: ::blinks::
[15:49] katallen: it's amazing how much can happen while you're... distracted
[15:50] matociquala: And Kelly's chick turns out evil, and Scotty strikes out with his girl. Another typical episode of I Spy comes to a close.
[15:51] katallen: poor boys

And it appears that Mission: Impossible is coming out on DVD.

I may never work again.
bear by san

The jingle of a dog's collar would be good right here

Regarding Carnivalathenais didn't like it over much, and thought Vincent and Angelo weren't very interesting characters. Fair enough, and I've got no quibbles with anything she says (I mean, most of it is personal aesthetic, and dude, not only is she entitled to her aesthetic and her opinion, I fully support her having it.) Except there's one assumption that rubs me the wrong way on a personal and political level, rather than an artistic one.****

There's a way she phrases something that echoes a construction a couple of other reviewers have also used--the reviewer in particular. What I'm talking about is the attempts I've seen to define the novel as slash, or yaoi, or something, because one plot element is a m/m love story, kind of bothers me. *****

It's just a love story.

There are two of them in the book.

One ends better than the other.

That's all. It doesn't, to my mind, need to be categorized any differently because one of the love stories is same-sex and the other is opposite-sex.

Yanno, when I said earlier that some of my books have sex scenes and others don't, I was maybe a little disingenuous. Because I don't write romances, really* at least, not in the HEA sense. But I think every novel length book I've written contains some kind of love story. A love story isn't a romance, in a technical sense.

I was bothered by the assumption that the Jenny books were some sort of polemic for polyamory, and I'm bothered by this description of Carnival as slash. Not because I have any problem with homosexual erotica. But I dunno, if two page-long m/m sex scenes turn a 120,000 word book into slash, then that's suspiciously close, to me, to the "one drop" criteria of determining race. And it seems to me to reveal a pretty profound heteronormative assumption--and I suspect it's a societal assumption rather than one that's particular to these two readers. Because I think if Vincent had been a girl, say, and there were as much relationship content in the book as there is, nobody would be calling it a romance.

But, yanno. I'm guess I had better get used to it, as I knew when I was writing it that people were going to worry at that particular thread, and Whiskey & Water is going to get Teh Gay on people too**. (OMG! LESBIANS!)

...okay, so those lesbians are the only sane and healthy couple I've ever written. And all the actual smut in the book is hetsmut.

****Well, I mean, I think Angelo and Vincent are interesting people, especially in comparison to Lesa and each other. Their sexuality doesn't have much to do with why I find them interesting, though. I like the ways in which all three of them hide and reveal themselves.***

*****And god, I Spy slash? Oh, god, no. The concept of Bill Cosby with his pants off is a little too much like finding out your grandparents had sex for me.

*a few things come closer than others--I mean, okay, "Follow Me Light" is a Lovecraftian category romance. But I'm using the romance tropes to dissect some of the ickier racist implications in Lovecraft.

**although not as much as Ink & Pen will. Or, dog help us, A Companion to Wolves. And the Eddas. La.

***and I'm still really sad I didn't get to make Angelo eat a caterpillar. Because I was gonna, and it was really the worst thing I could think of to do to him.