Sunday, December 31, 2006

00:00 01/01/2007

I was sitting alone on a train between Heidelberg and Rosanna, on my way home from work. A minute prior, random play on my iPod had brought up The Weeping Song by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.

We can only ever hope for different a year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cornelius's Sensuous Showcase

I nearly didn't go to this concert. Grief.

Cornelius was opened by Mountains in the Sky and Crayon Fields.

I'd been curious about MinS for a while, but I'm not sure why. On thinking, I was probably crossing wires with Explosions in the Sky, a rather awesome prog rock group. They're playing in the same musical field though, so I wasn't disappointed with my unrelated expectations. They play electronica, a lot of found sounds involved, and were quite good at bringing up a catchy beat. Unfortunately, the set they performed this night was plagued by technical difficulties, which they could have hidden, but instead showed their panic on stage, which I found painful to watch. Regardless, I bought their CD. Not that I've been able to listen to it yet, what with having a dead iPod, stupid bloody iPod.

CF, in contrast, played a fantastically tight set. They were a bunch of adorable dorks, trendily untrendy nerds, if that makes sense. I have no idea what genre they'd be slotted in. Some of their music reminded me of the Beach Boys, and some of it not so much. Good stuff, and I would definitly recommend catching them live, even if it's just to check out Mr Funky Xylophone man.

The Cornelius show, because it wasn't a gig, it was a whole show, started as they were setting up, with a teeth-grindingly annoying ever-so-slightly out of sync
'bip...bop...bop...bip' ping-ponging from one speaker to another. This continued for half an hour or so, until the lights came on, putting four colour bars on the white screen set up behind the stage. Each time a speaker bipped, a different colour bar came on. By this time, the crowd was a little restless and drunk, and started cheering every time a bip/colour change happened. Except for blue. For some reason, blue was booed quite vehemently.

And then, yes, at last! The band came out, tiny little Japanese people doing tiny little Japanese bows, and took up their instruments.

The bipping then controlled not just the colour bars, but the musician that stood in that colour. Turn by turn they played little bits and pieces, dribs and drabs, a tinkle of super mario, faster and faster until the chaos became a coherant piece of music, and they proceded to perform the greatest show I've ever seen.

The music was accompanied by a light show which was not just flashing lights, or random images thrown up on a screen to fill the space while the audience stares at the band, rather the opposite. The band were as unobtrusive as possible, directing all attention to the great show around them. One song was accompanied by a constant scrolling animation of birds, silhouetted against a twilight sky as trees and buildings whirled past. Another with perfectly and disturbingly syncronised mouths popping up everywhere. Drop was played to some astonishing footage of water, another a surrel montage watching someone walk their fingers through a mundane desk top. Unfortunately, I don't have a set list handy, and the internet doesn't know either.

The animation and the playing was so intricately linked, it was down to slivers of seconds, and it was perfect. Stunning. Faaaaaaaaaan-bloody-tastic.

I don't imagine they'll be back for another handful of years, but when they do, keep them in mind. Even if you don't know the music, they're more than worth seeing. I ran home full of delight and squees.

And I'm sorry for booing at the blue. That was the bassist. Didn't know. Really sorry.
Passion - Emminence Online

This was the first of a new line of concerts for EO; neither solo piano or symphony orchestra, but somewhere in the middle. Two violins, a piano, guitar, and drummer. A sort of orchestra rock band.

I found, as with the solo piano, the music adaptations a bit hit and miss. Some pieces left me cold and hearing nothing but what was taken out. That said, when they hit, they hit.

The theme to Super Mario Bros just goes OFF. I mean, OFF. That just rocked the whole house. The theme to Chron Cross (I'm not sure if the game was ever released in Australia) was also a piece of brilliance.

But the high point - they played Danse Macabre! This is neither anime or game music, it was written for an orchestra to play for the sake of being played. I love this piece; I played it on violin in high school. Badly. They tore the building down with it, it was just brilliant and amazing, and only one violinst and the piano slamming away... I suggested Danse Macabre at the last concert, in a survey I filled out. Happy conincidence or not, I loved it.

It's funny, how music that makes me that explodingly delighted also makes me cry.

I still prefer the full orchestral concerts, but I'll keep this series in mind when the next round comes up.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

HOLY SMOKE, BATMAN! BATMAN, HOLY SMOKE! CORNELIUS DIDN'T JUST ROCK THE KAZBARHI-FI BAR, THEY BLEW IT OUT OF THE WATER. CORNELIUS SUNK MY BATTLE SHIP!

WHAT? YELLING? SORRY, I CAN'T HEAR ANYTHING. WOO! YEAH!

WE LOVE YOU! GOOD NIGHT!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

So...

Exactly why do you read this?

Friday, December 01, 2006

WANTED: a pony.


(What? It worked last time.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

WANTED: one proofreader. Now. As given a recent reminder that I suck at proofreading, I do not trust myself. Story at 3,500 words, and involves privateers.
Fourteen Years Ago I Thought-



The year before I finished grade 6, my primary school started a tradition of giving the graduating grade 6 students a wall, and letting them paint something of themselves on it. For my year, they gave us the theme of what we wanted to be when we grew up.

For the state election last weekend, my area's voting centre was at my primary school. I brought a camera along, just in case my painting was still there, and it is.



Yeah. All girls want a pony.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Subterranean Gold Pirates!

(When I'm at work, I'm usually doing my best not to work.)

I for one am not sure they warrant the application of the word 'pirate'. They're thieves and trespasses, but I don't sense pirate vibes from their activities.

I am also not sure how they do it. Underground for that long? My skin crawls at the thought. How do they not die of rickets? How do they not utterly destroy their eyes?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

THE PRESTIGE

That is a film well worth seeing. I won't write any sort of review, as I know the blogsphere has already munched it through, and better munching than I could provided. I do like that neither of the central characters are particularly likeable people, yet this is made irrelevant by the fact that they are fascinating.
Here I dreamt I was an eagle,
and could fly where I would,
but some evil bad guys had all my friends hostage at the top of a building in a very Bladerunner-like city,
and I rescued them instead,
and the eagle went away.


Here I dreamt there were bears trying to get into the house,
that no one else could see,
and they kept opening the doors,
and I am not quite so strong as bears
who force open doors,
and I didn't want to be eaten.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

And the world sings

Yesterday, while bored out of my mind at work, I stumbled across this article on the age website: Mystery humming sound captured. Apparently, Auckland hums. For no easily discernable reason, and at a low frequency, so not every one can hear it. There's a sample at the end of the article. It's rather ominous, and I imagine for those who can hear it and live in Auckland, really bloody annoying.

The article also linked to another about singing dunes, on a physics site. Me and physics, we're not friends, and I don't care. How utterly fascinating! I don't want there to be a scientific explanation, I just love the fact that the sand sings! (So of course now I want to go to somewhere in the world that has such dunes and play with them.)

I like it when the natural world gobsmacks me. *petpetpet*

Friday, November 17, 2006

DTE? GSOH? WTF?

This morning's copy of The Age came with a supplementary magazine that was nothing but introduction ads, and because I find these creatures fascinating reads, it consumed my morning. After such a concentrated exposure, I couldn't help but start composing my own ad in my head.

I: moody, anti-social, difficult, overly-imaginative, contrary, silly, two-faced, contradictory, too-sensitive and will not return your calls. You: either really like a challenge or have murky motives. Give up now.


Hmmmmm. Maybe not.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Vampire Hunter D: The Stuff of Dreams - Hideyuki Kikuchi, Kevin Leahy (trans)



Lookit'im. Look at that face. What a prissy boy.

This book contained the sentence of ZOMGWTFBBQ, only two men hitting on D, and NO THREAT OF RAPE TO THE MAIN GIRLY.

I feel I must state that again; the 17 year old girl in this book was never under threat of rape. By anyone. At all. Ever.

I was amazed, and pleased. It made the book more fun, less infuriating. But I still don't think there was a point to fighting the giant chickens or the floating blood bubbles that appeared after them. Methinks Hideyuki realised that unless he forced the issue, there weren't going to be any big scary weird monsters slain in the book.

Here, D dreams, and when he wakes, finds the village he visited in the dream. Everyone is expecting him - they all dreamed about him in return. No one knows why he has been called, or what he is supposed to do. The only hint he has is in the keeping of a sleeping girl, who has slept for thirty odd years after being bitten by a vampire.

It is about dreams, various sorts of dreams, and dreams within dreams, and after a little while becomes terribly confusing, until the end - one of those lucid moments dreams occasionally grant you, when everything becomes clear.

This is definitly one of the better D books so far. It poses an interesting question; if vampires dream, what do they dream of?

Verdict: If anyone actually reads these things, then you already know what I think about these books.
Passage - Connie Willis



Willis is one of those authors I've been meaning to read for a long time, but never quite got there. After hearing her read an except of her current project at worldcon, I went and grabbed the first copy of this I found in the dealer's room. What a mind! What amusement! What amazing dialogue!

I started reading it while standing in line for her signing. Very nearly ignored the author in favour of her own book.

Joanna Lander and Richard Wright work at the Mercy General Hospital, researching the phenomenon of near-death experiences (NDEs). Their investigation is geared towards what an NDE actually is, in terms of the human body's functions, and thus they spend a significant amount of time reproducing the brain-state in others. Mandrake, another working in the field, looks after all the angels and golden light and departed dear ones.

Their research isn't going well, however, and Joanna finds herself volunteering to go under and experience and NDE for herself, with strange and not altogether pleasant consequences.

Although the majority of the book consists of Joanna powering from one part of the hospital to another, asking questions and not quite getting answers, this book turned out to be one of those dangerously addictive books. I kept sneaking it out to read at work, every couple of minutes I'd grab it and dip in for just a little more. It was such a different idea, NDEs, and something I knew nothing about. The characters were incredibly engaging and with such depth, especially Maisey. At once a remarkable simple and gob-smackingly complex book.

Despite the intensely distracting story, I couldn't help but spend time pondering Willis's writing technique. This book is, for the most part, talking heads. Nothing but talking heads tossing theories at each other, questions, answers, pushing the story and reader onward, always onward, with nothing but a couple of people standing around arranging and organising and discussing. With all the criting and editing I've done and had done, and all the workshops I've attended, it's been standard to be warned away from talking head stories. Why, I wonder? Perhaps they're easy to to badly. Willis makes them look easy and intriguing and fascinating.

Another interesting aspect was the utter dread and fear she managed to inspire in me. Having not read much on horror, I'm not sure what it is the horror genre tries to provoke in a reader - fear, horror, or a romp with the gruesome and ghastly that has little to do with either. This book scared me something fierce until I figured out what was going on, by careful application of fear. Fear is contagious. If a character is afraid, truly afraid, the reader can and will pick up on that. Lovecraft uses the same technique, only he uses it like a sledgehammer; "YOU ARE AFRAID AND AGHAST AND HORRIFIED." Willis is far more insidious.

I found the ending satisfying, although I've yet to conclude on exactly what it is that Willis is trying to say. I drew my own conclusions, and that appears to be enough.

Verdict: The general consensus is that Connie Willis is a brilliant writer, and everyone should read her. I agree.

Monday, October 09, 2006

So Yesterday - Scott Westerfeld



Another piece of worldcon booty. In reality, I should have bought it ages ago, as it's available out here, and has been for ages.

Hunter is a Cool Hunter; his job is to go out, sus out what the next cool thing will be, and the big companies out there pay him for it. This is a legitimate job, just in case you were wondering.

He meets Jen, a rather awesome girl, takes her to a cool tasting, and after finding his boss's phone (but not his boss) in an empty warehouse along with some hot shoes, thing start getting interesting.

Jen and Hunter make a good team, with a great dynamic that is easy to get caught up in. Suprisingly, for a story about cool, what really hooked me in was how very geeky it was. All the fiddling with features on phones, wifi, wizz computers - it made me giggle. Nerds will always be considered nerds, but the territory is slipping more and more to the front, rather than the back, of fashion.

That said, the geekery didn't stop at the technology. While there is nothing geeky about Jen, Hunter smacks of nothing but geek. It isn't the trappings of his life, but the person he is. It's part of being a cool hunter, I suppose. A watcher, an observer, at the edge, not the centre. That slight rumpling around the edges which means he'll never quite fit in properly, because he's not that comfortable in his own skin.

I'm inclined to think that is the only prerequist for 'cool'. Being comfortable in your head.

This is a great fun book - you know how I'm a sucker for fun - and surprisingly touching at the same time. Image, fashion, style; they're all a big deal these days, and with the amount of money involved, it's a big corporate industry and a big deal of superficialness, if you let it be. While Jen and Hunter are running around playing at being private eye (which is where the fun is) there's a thoughtful look at what trends and images, our images, can mean. This book could have been shallow, and it isn't. It's honest. We all tailor our images; clothes, speech, music, how we laugh. It's about what we try to show, how much we really show, how much control we let others have over what we show, and perhaps most importantly, what we don't show. There is a lot that Hunter thinks he doesn't show, the key word there being 'thinks'.

...and as a slight tangent: it is great to see a mystery/crime book understand the incredible phenomenon that is the mobile phone, and pump it for all it is worth. Yes! Score many many points!

Verdict: This is a great book. It's fun, engaging, warm, and will make you think. And if you use the 'young adult' tag as a reason to pass this book over, you're an idiot. And a dweeb. And totally not cool.
Dragon America - Mike Resnick



Spoilers. But not really.

I bought this at Worldcon. I have the vague feeling I'd heard of it sometime before, because when I saw it I had an 'oh yeah,' moment. Alternative history with red coats and dragons, why don't mind if I do.

I came at it with some high expectations; Resnick seemed to be all over worldcon. Everywhere. Mile long queues for his signings. Too many Hugo nominations. He was a happening man.

Alas, his book wasn't.

The story is set during the War of Independence, witn Washington sending Daniel Boone of into the wild west to find some way of winning the war, be it by recruiting natives or taming dragons. Boone decides to tame dragons.

And that's what he does.

And Washington holds the English off just long enough.

And the day is saved.

And that really is it.

I scrummaged around looking for a sense of depth, a message, a point, anything to make this book other than 'this happened, then this happened, then this happened', and I couldn't find anything.

The writing was simple to the point of being boring, although the banter between characters was fun. And...that really is it.

It probably didn't go in the book's favour that I started reading it at LAX, terminally exhausted and with 20 hours of flight looming over me. That said, the fact that it didn't distract me from my circumstances says something as well.

Still, I wish I hadn't ripped the cover. That's how tired I was. Careless with my books. And too tired to care as well.

Verdict: This is a nice light bit of fluff, but there is better fluff to be had.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Someone just hit this blog by googling the phrase "space sphincter".

My life is complete.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I, Claudius & Claudius the God by Roberg Graves, and Vampire Hunter D vol 4: Tale of the Dead Town by Hideyuki Kikuchi, translated by Kevin Leahy

Yes, this is cheating. I'm bad, I know. I read these books before my holiday, and to be honest, what impact they had has been knocked out of my head.

The Claudius books are brilliant. They were wonderful to read, Claudius being an excellent and amusing narrator, although he second guesses himself far too much in Claudius the God. Graves demonstrates his skill as a writer by taking a story for which the ending is already fortold, and keeping the reader entertained and entranced regardless.

I found them hilarious, although when I mentioned this to a rather big name editor at the Tor party, said editor looked taken aback. Yes, the books containing an incredibly ruthless and bloody story, a story which happens to be absolutely chock full of absurdities, and I do love an absurdity. I near fell in love with Caligula. He nearly destroyed the Roman Empire, and I don't think I would have wanted to live within two centuries of him, but what a mad man! He waged war with Neptune, and had his army wade into the ocean and stab the waves! Fantastic. Just what I want in a tyrant.

These books are more than worth your time. They're not good books, they're great books.

I can't say the same for Tale of the Dead Town. As I've said so many times, the Vampire Hunter D series is one of those so bad it's good addictions. This book, was so bad, it was just bad. It had no point. He arrived at a town, some shit was going down, the town was doomed...and so the town was doomed. That was it. He left. At least there was no rape/threat of rape this time around, for which I am very thankful.

That's all. Talk amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

THE SIR TESSA USA ’06 TOUR – DAY 1
Melbourne -> Auckland -> Los Angeles -> Seattle

Ugh.

If there is a hell, if hell is personalized for the individual needs, if I am going to hell, then it will involve being several thousand feet above the Pacific Ocean, in a tin can, suffering motion sickness, with no relief in sight.

Let me rewind.

They slotted in a nightshift before my annual leave kicked in, to minimize the number of days I had to apply for. Working ten days in a row means getting six days off afterwards. Some of you may remember that that particular nightshift kicked my arse. Even after several days of sleeping and resting, the day before I flew out I was still very FUBAR. I was stressing about the long flight and motion sickness that I knew awaited me, so of course I did not sleep that night. I wasn’t really expecting to.

As I was due to flight out of Melbourne with Air New Zealand at noon, I had to be at the airport by ten, (this being before the English caught those smuggling liquid explosives on board, with check-in times still something reasonable). That meant leaving home at nine, which meant getting up around eight for a shower. I was up a bit before seven.

From the carpark to the check-in counter was the first time I carried my rucksack for any length, and with the strap around my waist secure, the weight was off my shoulders, and it was surprisingly comfortable. Black Wolf make a good sturdy bag.

But of course, my flight was delayed by an hour.

There was time to sit around the tiny food court, and notice just how banged up Melbourne airport is getting. She’s showing her age; the lights aren’t being replaced, the tables are chipped, the grills fallen out. The poor old dear. We drank tea, shared a Danish, and watched the painted Qantas jet take off.

I’m not very good at waiting when my nerves are up. Hear that stomach churn.

Finally, I told my family to go home. They hadn’t intended to wait with me the whole time as it was, and the extra hour was just more time staring at the walls. It was, in my mind, a step towards going – I hugged and kissed them at the wailing wall, and passed through The Sliding Doors of Doom. Through Customs, to be pulled aside by the most unsettling security worker I have ever met. It was a standard explosives swipe, but his manner, the way he spoke...he was either high as a kite, or dumb as a rock. Possibly both. And he was unsettling. According to mum, they’re independent contractors. Make of that what you will.

After an airport-priced sandwich, I sat, and waited, and waited, and churned.

The flight from Melbourne to Auckland is on a smaller plane (2 seats by 3 seats by 2 seats), and takes only four hours. Air New Zealand has great food in my experience, and given the sandwich was all I’d eaten, I was looking forward to lunch.

Tip: airline stewards will not, if you are sleeping, wake you up for food.



Morris ze Dinosaur. On a plane.

We came up to New Zealand in dusk, with the sun behind that famous long white cloud. I hogged the window, and watched as New Zealand drew closer, and closer- and then we passed over it in thirty seconds, to come around for another pass. I could imagine the pilots crying, “crap! We just ran out of New Zealand! Go back, go back!” It was pretty, with the lights coming on, dotting the islands and hills. I will get there in a more than transitional way, one day.

At Auckland I changed planes, not flights. The leg from Auckland to Los Angeles is 12 hours in the dark, and after an accidental nap, I didn’t like my chances of sleeping through it. Churn, churn. I sat in the waiting lounge on the floor, by a family who were reading books to their daughters, one of whom was a Tessa. This little Tessa had an enormous pink shiny unicorn stuff toy. It had wings. And pantaloons.

Thankfully, the Fates, Destiny, Chance and Luck decided to take pity on me, and I was granted a window seat as well as an empty seat next to me.

Tip: if there’s an extra pillow, claim it. Right now.

And thus began my ascent into my private hell. New Zealand vanished in seconds, and then there was nothing but plane.

I felt yuck.

The exact magnitude of ‘yuck’ will be lost on any of you who haven’t experienced motion sickness. Imagine you are sick, a minor case of food poisoning, for example. Normally, a decent vomit will result in you feeling much better. Not the case with motion sickness, as what is making you sick is not what’s in you’re stomach, but what you happen to be sitting in. There is no way to alleviate motion sickness without stopping the motion, which needless to say, wasn’t an option.

Still, when you get to the point of vomiting, it’s better to have something to bring up than nothing at all. Once the dry heaves start, they don’t stop.

Tip: for those of you who get plane sick, eat everything they give you. Just do it.

Further tip: chew lots. Masticate that sucker into mush. That way, it won’t hurt so much on the return trip.

I discovered during dinner that moving made me feel worse, and so after a very nice dinner of roast chicken and vegetables, and some absolutely wonderful ice cream, I curled up with my pillows and jumper, pulled the blanket over me, put the chair arm up, put my feet up, and tried not to move for the next 12 hours.

The extra pillow comes in there. The chair arms against the wall don’t move, so if you want to lean against it, you’ll need some padding. I didn’t sleep. I spent those 12 hours very awake, very ill, very miserable, and very focused on my misery. There used to be a display in the Air New Zealand flights, showing where the plane was on the map, and how many hours to go. They’ve replaced it with a very fancy entertainment system that I can’t use for aggravating my motion sickness. This misery had no known end.

I remember being that upset with my circumstances, that I decided I was never going to leave Australia again. Flying was just too bloody awful, and no destination would be worth the journey.

The sun came up. The blinds came up. They served breakfast, and I chewed well, and moved little. We began our descent into Los Angeles. The end was finally well and truly nigh. About bloody time.

The descent also destroyed the intense willpower I’d exercised during the whole flight, and just before we touched down, I hurled dinner and breakfast into a wax paper bag. We landed at noon, and I felt ever so much better.

Tip: two chuck bags are better than one. If you’re stuck holding it, well, it’s only waxed paper, you know.

The Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave. Or the other way around. I left my chuck bag on the seat, and fled the plane, dreading the return trip. I was rank with vomit-induced sweat, having stewed in my clothes for a good day already, and more than a little wobbly on my feet, and damn I was happy to be on solid ground.

No, wait. Possibly my personal hell will involve dealing with the Los Angeles International Airport, again, and again, and again.

I, and a few hundred other souls, rolled down the corridor, to meet up with a few hundred souls from an Air France flight that had arrived at the same time, and we headed to the immigration line-

-which was staffed by eight people.

I remember it taking a long time to get through immigration last time I visited the States, and since then they’ve ramped up security measures to include taking everyone’s finger prints and photos. It took me well over an hour to get through immigration. The immigration works were trying to be proactive, shuffling the queues around, which only extended my wait. I watched the minutes tick by, and tried not to think about my connecting flight to Seattle, which was down on my itinerary as 1530. It was close to two when I finally hit the line. My impatience must have worked its way to my fingers, as my prints went through first time. Now, if I resort to a life of crime in either Australia or America, I’ll have to do it with gloves.

I grabbed my bag, shouldered it, and wobbled my way to domestic transit. American Airlines flight to Seattle at three-thirty.

Except, the woman working the terminal said, checking her sheet, there was no such flight.

This isn’t exactly what I wanted to hear.

Did I mean Alaska Airlines? They had a flight to Seattle at four-thirty. I had no idea. I didn’t want to know. A check of my itinerary didn’t help.

You mean Alaska Airlines, she said firmly, terminal four.

Okay, I said, and went. There comes a point when you stop fighting back (generally after 12 hours of motion sickness), and can’t even work up the energy to be worried, stressed, frightened, or frustrated. Zombie mode can be your friend at times.

There isn’t much difference between inside and outside LAX. It swelters. I staggered my way to terminal 4 – my bag really is a comfy bag, despite the weight – and found Alaska Airlines. As I had nothing in the way of a confirmation number, I couldn’t check-in electronically, and had to go via the service desk. There was a queue. It took an hour. There was a small child with a remote control car that he insisted on driving into every obstacle around him, including me. I have mad jedi skillz when it comes to patience. LAX = standing in queues in the heat.

Yes, it was Alaska Airlines, not American Airlines, and yes, the flight was at four-thirty, not three-thirty, and yes, everything was as it should be. I was too zonked to be relieved.

After proceeding through security, which aside from having to take off my boots and show my boarding pass five times was no different to any other airport security, I ducked into the toilets and tried to clean up.

Tip: it’s not just emergency undies/socks/bra you need, it’s an “I really smell” t-shirt.

I took my tee off, and just wore my jumper. I sprayed deodorant everywhere. I wiped my face, neck, bits I could reach. It made very little difference. The best I could do was not move, and thus keep my aroma to myself.

Next order of duty was to find food.

Melbourne Airport might be showing its age, but in comparison, it shines. LAX is a shithole. It’s nothing more than a bunch of portable buildings which should have been replaced years ago, and each terminal has maybe two places to eat. In the case of terminal four, you can choose between Burger King – a great big lump of greasy might-be-meat – or Starbucks - cakes.

All I wanted was a piece of fruit.

But lo! There was a chicken Caesar salad sitting in the Starbucks fridge, and even though it was pretty ordinary, it was the best Caesar salad I’ve ever had. Food has a wonderful way of making you feel better. The zombie wore off, and something resembling normalcy returned. Salad is best for those with a twitchy tummy and another flight to go. Nevertheless, chew that sucker into oblivion.

I watched as business glass and special member passengers were allowed on first, and watched the rest of us plebs mill about and edge closer to the queue. They let me on, and yes, the last leg! The end was almost nigh! I’m not sure flying business in a USA domestic airline is worth it – the seats are a bit wider, but that’s about it.

Saw the painted Qantas plane as we took off, and left bloody hellfire LAX behind.

I can’t say I remember much of this flight. I know I was trying not to move, as I was in a middle seat and thus wanted to keep my smell to myself, and that’s about it. I roused when we landed.

First impression of Seattle; gosh, that’s a lot of green trees. Actual green trees. I never realize just how grey/black/brown gum trees are until I look at something else.

Picked up my luggage without issue, and wandered around like a lost dog until I found a shuttle bus – any shuttle bus – that would take me downtown. The Greyline folk were very helpful, and called in a connecting shuttle to get me to my hotel.

The ride from the airport to Seattle proper was spent re-emphasising the tyranny of absolutely green trees, and staring at planes. The Boeing plant takes up most of the highway, and makes for interesting scenery. There’s something amusing about seeing bits of plane lying around like a do-it-yourself kit. The hotel had information about tours which run through the plant and aviation museum, but I didn’t go on any. I’d had enough of planes.

Perhaps it was because I was so exhausted, perhaps it was because it wasn’t my first time in a foreign country alone, but there was no fear to be had. The last time I visited the States, and I had to find a shuttle bus to my hotel for my one night in Los Angeles, I was terrified. I was alone, and nothing worked quite the way I expected it. This time, I didn’t even freak out when the bus started driving on the wrong (right) side of the road.

Probably because I was so exhausted, I forgot to tip the driver. Sorry, mister.

I was dropped of at the Days Inn on 7th, and on check in discovered that all non-smoking rooms had been taken. I didn’t care at the time, I just wanted a room. As soon as I got to said room, I cared, oh boy did I care. If you book a non-smoking room 6 months in advance, make some noise when they don’t give you one. It reeked. There was some fierce stench ground into the carpet. I stopped smelling it after a while, thank goodness.



After 24 hours travel, you'd look green and blurry too.

It took me 15 minutes to figure out how to work the shower. Don’t laugh – it was the one thing that had kept me going since LAX. It nearly broke my heart. To save you the same torment, I shall impart the secret bit of wisdom to you.

Secret Wisdom: Pull and hold the knob thing in the tap up, until the water diverts to the shower. Water must be running while doing this.

There. Look, it wasn’t obvious at the time, okay? Greatest shower of my life.

Clean, and with clean clothes, the only thing left to do was get some dinner. Unfortunately, by the time I’d made myself human against, it was getting towards ten at night, and nothing was open. The receptionist directed me to a service station a couple of blocks up the road. There were police cars and families every where, due to a torchlight parade. I felt, with my inability to cross roads without a lit crossing and inability to press the right crossing button – like everyone could see the great neon flashing sign on my head, crying “foreigner!” It was a lovely night for walking. Coming from Winter to Summer is a bit of a shock. I’m not a Summer person by nature, but I do love a warm balmy night for walking.

Service stations don’t tend to offer much in the way of decent food. I found a hard bagel with cream cheese, a piece of banana bread (BANANAS!), and I figured I’d be safe with a Kit-Kat. I was terrible bemused that a meal which would have been around $7-10 at home cost a mere couple of dollars, and that I was getting change in 1 cent pieces. With my great bounty, I headed back to my rank abode.

At this point, I discovered that while my phone would work, my carrier wouldn’t, and no other mobile network wanted anything to do with me. I’d promised to give the family a buzz to let them know I’d arrived without hitch, which left me with the hotel phone. There was an 85% hotel surcharge tax on international calls (oh my freaking-), but I figured, a 5 minute call couldn’t cost that much.

All the stress and exhaustion piled up when I heard their voices. I nearly cried, I don’t know why. It was a relief to know that despite the fact that I’d woken up in another place and another time and I’d vomited in front of strangers, they were still there, normal, sane. Touch base, children, touch base.

I channel surfed. I find foreign TV fascinating, especially so given that so much of American culture appears to revolve around the TV. I was stumped to see there was a channel just for asian programs, and that it was actually called AZN. That tickled the gamer in me. I caught Tokyo Godfathers just as it was starting, and watched till I couldn’t watch any more.

Friday, September 08, 2006



Morris Ze Dinosaur surveys the Mountains of Puppy Dogs

I had a bed, once.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

PLUTO WILL ALWAYS BE A PLANET TO ME.
I wandered out to find a flat head screwdriver, and when I came back, my DVD tray was open.

Apparently my computer can read minds.
Hydrate or Die

I have remembered how to use my computer. I have remembered all my passwords. Photos have been downloaded, but I'll need to go about resizing them all to something swallowable before I can put them online. There are something in the realm of 1300 photos, so this might take a while.

My computer decided to partially break itself (because not being turned on for a month is such hard work), and my DVD drive will not respond. The tray won't open from the physical button, or from software commands. Bloody Evil Pixies hath found the Decepticon. I have no idea how to fix this, other than to get a freaking crow bar and tear up some plastic. It puts a dent in my photo plan, as I was going to burn the pictures to disk and so free up some hard drive space.

My desk is, as always, a huge mess. Not all the creative shuffling in the world can save it.

The dogs picked up their habits immediately, and as soon as I sat down here, both demanded to be up on my bed, and went to sleep.

This all feels very strange. I know you all want stories, but I'm too lost to give them to you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hello, my freaky darlings.



I am home.

<3

Friday, July 28, 2006

two shirt sleeves waving as we go by

Got Dinosaur?

Everybody, this is Morris. Morris, this is everybody. Morris will be accompanying me on my travels, acting as stand in for a garden gnome as a projection of myself. Being as I'm going to be the one taking the picture 90% of the time, Morris will be my stage double. You can see the likeness, yes?

This is it, kids. I have packed for the last time, and remove enough stuff that I might need, but will make do without, that there is now space to spare. Most excellent.

I don't know how much internet access there is in the mountains (not much, methinks), and even whilst in civilsation, I'm not going to put a lot of priority on sitting in front of a computer. I'll check in when I can though. If for any reason you need to contact me, use the email address on the right there. I'll check it at some stage. Those of you who might need my number, have my number. Let's hope it works. (Miiru, you've already given me yours. Twit. :P)

I'd take a photo and blow you all a big sloppy kiss, except I'm busting out a coldsore. Yes. I KNOW.

I'm flying out tomorrow at noon. Don't break the world while I'm gone.

<3 Sir Tessa

Hey, you've reached Sir Tessa's journal, not Sir Tessa herself. She can't come to the internets right now, so please leave a message after the yo. Byeeee!

Yo.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Untitled (Working Title)

I hate packing. Not that I haven't said that before.

I have packed one and a half times, and tomorrow, I'll take everything out, and pack again. Why? Because that's just the way I ween out all the things I won't need, but have shoved in "just in case". "Just in case" is the bane of my life right now. I know I can ween out one of those windcheaters - heat wave and all that. Cold nights I can deal with via the sensible application of layers.

Shit. I keep thinking of all this stuff I need to leave room for. Like thongs (that's flip-flops, NOT underwear). Craaaaap. I forgot all about them. And books. Shit. I've limited myself to two, which, considering how many I could take, is a mighty effort and triumph on my part. Except I suspect one of those books has been packed away, and I'm going to have to break my back to find it. Wait! I tell a lie. It is merely behind other books. Most excellent. At any time now, I will stop browsing the panelist list to see who ELSE is going. Closing the window...now.

Right now, I've swung away from "zomg excited squee!" to "zomg what have I got myself into?" something I did last time as well. Imagine how I'll be next year, when venturing to a country whose language I do not speak (but the food will be so good).

Despite having done only three and a bit nights of nightshift, my sleeping pattern is still severely fubar. I wake up at 4am, go back to sleep at 8am, and this happens no matter when I go to bed. Guh.

You know what scares me the most? The 17 hour flight. Having to wait 4 hours in LAX suffering from motion sickness. That's some very special misery, waiting for me right there.

One of the things that perks me up is the thought of venturing out of the hotel in Seattle and seeing a mountain. At least, I assume there's a mountain to see. Google images indicated as much. A BIG one.

Don't ask me what my thing with mountains is.

Of COURSE, now that I shall be away from my computer for a month, I've had the great urge to write. Three novels. The one I'm currently working on, it's accidental sequal and another totally unrelated have all had thinking breakthroughs in the last week. Ah, timing.

Again, tell me what I've forgotten.

Going to watch some TV now. Calm my nerves.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fuck. This. Horse. Shit.

I don't deal well with being sick, because it's very rare that I am. Headaches, I know exactly where I stand with them. They're horrible, but old hat. However, when the rest of me decides to go wrong, my coping mechanisms go to pieces.

Nightshift has the added bonus of taking my depression, which is normally passive, and amplifying it x 100. PMS has nothing on nightshift.

So in the past couple of days, I've randomly burst into tears three times and been unable to stop, I've had one single on-going tension headache, permanent nausea, aching muscles and bones, and I had to come home at 2 in the morning on Saturday. I was so wrecked I couldn't hold my head up; I was resting my head on my hand, and typing with the other hand. My body was that stressed out my period came two weeks early, and now I can't eat.

I've had bad nightshifts, but not THIS bad.

Suffice to say, I'm pretty fucking miserable. The third bout of tears was an hour ago, because I went to the doctor, and he was rude and didn't give a fuck, and I couldn't handle that.

And now for some sleight of hand; Yunyu's new album is now available at earshot and will soon be available at cdbaby. Her film clip for Lenore's Song can be seen here and it is awesome.

This is all the typing I can handle right now. I have to go concentrate on not vomiting.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Learning Sometimes Sucks

Discovery: Stress-induced periods suck.

1. Periods suck in general.

2. Unexpected periods, say, two weeks before you're due, suck even more.

3. The shit you have to go through to actually inflict a stress-induced period on yourself makes the period itself about as incidental as a side salad.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Answer To That Question I Didn't Mean To Ask

I need to stop posting at 1am. I need to stay up till 4am at the very least. Can't see that happening. Not without some random don juan climing in my window and keeping me awake, and let's be honest, if any one were to try and climb in my window now, they'd get a hockey stick in the face before they could say "Mon amie! I'm here to be your love pony!" And then I wouldn't be able to go on my trip, because I'd be in the remand centre, waiting for my court hearing, and trying to not get shanked by some scary butch woman's shiv.

The answer is: yes.

The question was "Am I writing because I write? Just as couples stay together because they're together and it hasn't occurred to them to go their separate ways."

All the workshops I've attended, all the little introductions I've had to adlib, I've said the same thing. I never started writing. I just never stopped. It's something I've always done, it's always been the larger part of my identity, and so trying to imagine myself as 'not a writer' is a bit like trying to imagine myself as 'not female'. Its fundamental in just that way.

Writing is the comfortable option. The easy option. I know writing. I can even kid myself that I've acquired one of the first few levels of skill and technical knowledge. I'll never be great, but I can aim for good.

Which can't be too different from settling for second best.

Because there are alternatives, sharking around the edges. They lean against walls with a thumb hooked in their jeans, showing of their sexier than thou hipbones, and giving me 'come get it' eyes.

I could write...

...or I could draw.

This isn't as new as it sounds. Drawing was a large part of my life as well, for a good while there. I doodled on everything in highschool, did pretty well in my art subjects, and made the greatest birthday cards ever. I don't know where the drawing went. It just...slipped away while I wasn't looking.

I want to draw. I want to be great at drawing. If I'm honest with myself, and I'll let myself be honest with myself, I want to draw so I can draw my stories. I should be writing comics instead. The accustations of writing too visually and too video game-like are regular visitors.

Part of me wants to turn away from words and catch the world with lines instead. Teach myself a new way of seeing things. A new way of catching stories. A new challenge.

Another part of my thinks this is just...excuses. To give up before I get anywhere. I think I'm afraid of success.

Don't take that statement as arrogance, it isn't intended that way. Failure doesn't daunt me. If I fail, there's anger and disappointment and my god, I throw myself at it again till the damn thing is conquered. But success? That's a scary thought. I aim for success. While I keep my expectations realistic, I don't see the point of chasing a dream unless it's a really big fucking dream. I'm trying to catch the sun with my own two hands. I'll probably fail, but I might...

I think it was Clarion that trigged this. There were too many compliments. People were paying attention to my fun little ditties, and suddenly they weren't little anymore.

A couple of weeks back I dreamed that Daikaiju 2 was finally published. I walked into a bookstore and there it was, big and garish on the shelf. At first I was delighted; at last! After two years of waiting, the story was in print. But then, as I stood there holding the book and staring at the table of contents, the implications of publication started to sink in. People were going to read it. Oh yes, people were going to read my story, and some of them might like it, and some of them might dismiss it, but gods, people were going to read it. The story wasn't mine anymore.

I woke up feeling anxious and mildly panicked. The book isn't even out yet. I can't be the only writer afraid of publication. But hey, I am. It's taken me a while to admit this. On an intellectual level, I'm laughing. I'm afraid of the very dream I'm chasing, but then, maybe the best dreams are the ones that frighten you.

I don't want to be good at a lot of things. I don't want to drift from medium to medium in my life, and master none of them. I want to master something. I want to be able to say, without a doubt, 'hell yes I'm good, and this many people agree." I want to catch the sun, this sun, with my own two hands.

And I will.


When I stop sabotaging myself.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Spartacus - Howard Fast



That cover is incorrect. The gladiators were made to fight naked, and Varinia is blond. Nor, I might add, does Kirk Douglas look like a sheep. Several times throughout the book, Spartacus is described as having a face like a sheep. I've yet to figure out exactly what is meant by that.

I enjoy all the books I read, but it has been a long time since a book left me utterly heart-broken and bereft simply because I finished it. Perhaps I read too much, too fast, too lightly. Perhaps I'm becoming immune to books - now there's a frightening thought. But Spartacus left me wandering around the house, grieving, because I will never be able to read this book for the first time ever again.

It isn't true to say this is Spartacus's story, but the story around Spartacus. It unfolds after his rebellion has been crushed, he has been slain, and the Appian Way is lined with crucifixions, an example of what happens to those who dare defy the might of Rome. What we see is the rammifications of Spartacus's actions on the Roman world, in terms of its society and politics. Through the eyes of a noble born youth, the general who finally defeated Spartacus, and the senator who saw what the slave uprising might trigger, the reader is given insight into what Spartacus represented.

He is only portrayed in the light of legend, as no one knows what sort of man he was. They talk about stories they'd hear, ponder on rumour and fact, and will never understand Spartacus, because they are free people who believe that it is the natural law for some to rule, and some to obey.

While they were busy trying to get inside Spartacus's head, I was putting all my effort into trying to get into theirs. The Roman mind is a strange thing, and while they couldn't fathom how Spartacus had the means, will, intelligence to do what he did, I couldn't fathom how they couldn't see it coming. It took a lot of work, but they presented their justification for slavery, and on such a scale. Something to do with a total disregard for life; the Romans appeared to be in love with death, courting it where ever and when ever; with their gladiator games, the many campaigns they waged, their politics and schemes and terrible, terrible terrible diets (tit lark tongue pastries?). They go to such great lengths to distract themselves from life, not unlike the current world.

The slave is afforded none of these distractions, and can do nothing but lay down and die, or live, and live.

There is a passage, which of course I can't find now, which described why the slaves defeated the romans so many times; they would not be defeated because they could not afford to be. They weren't fighting for land - they had no land to run to, no place to retreat, no safe haven. They fought for their lives, and so they fought with their lives. Because there was no other path open to them.

It was interesting to watch the story change focus, from being on Spartacus, to his wife, Varinia. Spartacus was doomed from the beginning, and although his ripples would last for ages, he, his comrades, and the slaves contempory to him were consigned to misery. That close in, it's hard to see the change. But Varinia was hope, and it is comfort to know hope lives on.

Fairtrax, hanging on a cross, said "I will return and I will be millions."

Verdict: Brilliant. Mind-catching. Wonderfully written, with fantastic characters and such wonderful passages. I should have marked down everything I wanted to quote. I grieved to finish this book. I wasn't ready to leave yet.

Monday, June 26, 2006

London Revenant - Conrad Williams



So my mouth and nose aren't the same shape, and my eyes are open. And I'm not the cover of a horror book. Thankfully.

One day, I will pay attention to my reading history, and learn from it. I will not, for example, start vampire books in the middle of the night. Or, in this particular case, start a horror book that concerns itself with people on trains, while standing on a near empty platform in the middle of a night, waiting for the last train to arrive. The first chapter of this book concerns someone sneaking around platforms, pushing people in front of trains.

Riding trains alone at night is threatening enough, even though I've done it for a year now, and absolutely nothing has happened. My imagination is a busy creature. I had to stop reading.

London Revenant follows Adam Buckley through his every day life, and in doing so explores the urban decay of the city, and the inner decay of its inhabitants, and the slippery nature of identity. Adam himself is a lost soul, although I'm not sure he realises this until he isn't.

It's wonderfully written, full of grit, dirt, and harsh language. His take on the city is complex, being full of life, yet hollow and near dead as well, and he pulls it off well. The city is quite a frightening creature. It actually curbed my desire to visit London.

I was disappointed that, for a book with the Underground logo all over it, that started on trains, and talked about subways and ended underground, not a lot of time was spent actually on trains. Adam fears the Underground, he can feel it in the souls of his boots, yet rarely visits, and when he does, Williams keeps his travels short. Adam spends more time walking and driving, each a different mode of transport with separate evils and trials. Being a heavy train and foot user, I'm constantly aware of what a journey with either will entail, something I missed from this book.

Williams uses London Above and the Underground as a means of exploring identity, with the Underground acting as London's subconscious. It isn't a flattering reflection. Adam moves between the two, struggling with his own identity as the city struggles as well. To be honest, I'm not sure this aspect of the book quite fell in place for me. I reached the end, and was not clear on what Williams was trying to say. Nor was I particularly clear on Adam's reasons behind his own decision. Neither of the two identities he wavers between appear to bring him any comfort. One is always trespassing on the other, yet he is afraid of both.

This might reflect more on my own ideas about identity. Identities are fluid creatures, and we only have limited control to exercise over our own. For example, there is the me no one sees but who sees everyone else, the me I try to be, the me I actually am, and the hundreds of mes that everyone else sees. Memory will step in and influence identities. Mood will too - identities fluctuate, they shift from one to another. It is not possible to choose an identity, and that decision to be static. Identities don't stay still.

Perhaps I missed the point, and the book is less about identity, and more about finding the place you belong. Finding home.

Now that I've typed it, I'm sure that's it. The book makes a lot more sense now. The two aren't separate concepts; we try to change our identities to force ourselves to fit where we think we should fit all the time.

Piece of the book worked more than others. I never quite bought Adam's uber-alter-ego, nor the arch-villain. In contrast, Yoyo's finding of streets that weren't on the map and places of rot took my breath away. There are pieces of genius in this book, which are occasionally distracted from by chase scenes in the dark. The final climax felt anti-climactic to me, and after all the brilliance of the preceeding book, a tad cliché.

Williams is an excellent writer, and this book was, despite the willies it gave me, begun, read, and finished while travelling on trains. As it should be.

Verdict: Very cool, very fresh tasting, with wonderful likeable and loathable characters. You should see what he does to London.
Shadows and Ice: Kicking Arse Comic Style

'Shadows and Ice' was an internet moniker I made up when I was 16. In the throes of adolescent angst and misery and woe. It was probaby accurate at the time, which doesn't stop me cringing slightly now. Oh, drama.

Still, it stuck for 8 years. You can still see it hanging around here and there - my login on the Voyager Online forums (which I should really check more often), my livejournal login, various utility logins, my actual Shadowmarch login, it was my previous domain name and email address - it was well loved.

And now it has a brand spanking shiny sparkling twinkling new aura of coolness, by being used as the Super Villain name of a web comic character. Michael (aka The Microphone on the Smarch boards) even gave her my nickname's nickname; Shads. And she rocketh muchly. There are only two strips up at the moment, as he's just starting, but have a gawk anyway. The sparklies compel you.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

And so it was that on the 25th day of the 6th month, 20 days after her 25th birthday, Sir Tessa found her first grey hair.

Nay, let it not be grey. Grey is such a lackluster word. Let it be silver.

The reaction, in three parts;

GLEE
Proof that I am, in fact, aging.

SHOCK
Proof that I am, in fact, aging.

MEH
No one can see it anyway.

You realise now that once I grow a few more, I'll have to grow my hair long again, so I can swan around like Sephiroth.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Where ever I may roam

I arrive in Seattle 6pm on the 29th of July. I'll be sick. I'll spend that first night crawling between bed and toilet, and generally feeling miserable. My tour leaves Seattle at 7am on the 1st of August, so I have Sunday and Monday in which to roam about Seattle and do touristy things.

At this point, all I've decided on doing is the underground tour, which will only take a couple of hours. Any suggestions of stuff to do, preferrably in the inner city, will be much appreciated.

Even more appreciated would be recommendations of comic/book stores.

I get into Los Angeles the evening of the 21st of August, and Worldcon starts on the 23rd, so I have the 22nd, a Tuesday, in which to do touristy things in LA. I'm staying in a hostel on Melrose Ave, in West Hollywood, so anything in that area, or close to public transport, preferred. I don't have any real desire to see Disneyland.

And again, recommend comic/book stores. Please.

I figured I'd take the train from the hostel to the con hotel, as there's a line that runs straight to Anaheim. If trains are for some reason supremely dangerous, however, let me know. (Bare in mind I catch the train alone at midnight 50% of my work shifts.) (For that matter, if anyone can take a stab at how much it will cost to take a taxi from, say, LAX to West Hollywood, let me know.)

Jaime, Nadine, we still have to find a place to stay on Sunday night.

I'm serious about the comic/book shops. I want to spend half my money on books.

It's a month away. Argh.

I've managed to narrow myself down to taking only three books with me to maybe get signed. There's no way I'm carrying a Tad book around, so I'll just have to buy something there for him. Say, Otherland in hardcover. Phwoar. I wish. But Simon R. Green (I've had and reread Blue Moon Rising since primary school), Tim Powers and Naomi Novik, well...you know. They're not big books.

(I've bought my membership to Nippon 2007, and if you're planning on going, just keep in mind the price goes up at the end of the month, and it's already pretty expensive.)

GIVE ME YOUR SUGGESTIONS.

Currently listening to: Three blank characters, by three blank characters. I really need to get around to installing the asian character fonts on my system. Regardless, it's Chinese rap, and cracks me up.

Monday, June 12, 2006

WHAM! YOU ARE ENLIGHTENED! SUCKA!

(ZZZ hunting. Skip as necessary.)

The dream started normally. I was some wizard scubadiver from a wooden submarine, and we were trying to lose a large galleon that was chasing us. I don't know what I was supposed to achieve, except that everytime I looked at the hull of the ship, some sort of illusion was flung up, and it turned into a giant fish with very big teeth, which is a rather alarm thing for a diver to see. But I foiled the illusion, and floundered my way back into our submarine with my three, er, companions. Party members would be accurate. It was very much a role-playing party feel.

As my party flounded out of the waterlock (like an airlock, only not), the captain, or someone of authority, came to greet us. My companions froze, and the captain proceeded to tear apart everything I thought my life was. My friends were actually figments of my imagination, people from my childhood who'd died, and whom I had kept alive by projecting them into the world, thus they became demons of sort. This was a terrible shock, but still pretty standard dream fare.

And then....wham. All of a sudden, I was enlightened. Although I had, and still have, no idea what terrible thing it was I'd actually done, I had done a terrible thing, and realisation of it floored me. I lay on the concrete beside a pool with the autumn leaves blowing around me, and I couldn't move I was so stunned. With this, came an entirely out of the blue piece of enlightenment.

Rebirth, for those who do,
Darkness, for those who don't.


The meaning of which was the opposite of Buddhism. It meant that you only ever had one chance to get your life right. If you did, you would be reincarnated. If not, then nothing.

For some reason, knowing this was killing me. And as I lay there, dying, I couldn't figure out if I was glad that I wouldn't have to go through reincarnation, and another life, or grieving that I'd failed, and that everything I was would end utterly.

The whole thing was very startling, what with enlightenment and death (which is what happens to other people in my draems), so I woke up feeling unsettled.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hair In The Now Frontier

:: It's REALLY COLD.

:: Short hair merely means irritating in new and unexpected ways.

:: The general reaction at work is wide eyes, grab the back of my head, and cry "Oh my god your beautiful hair!" And then a very quick "But it looks good." The addon is making me paranoid, and I'm starting to think it looks shyte.

:: BEDHAIR. WHAT BRIGHT SPARK THOUGHT UP THAT IDEA. I LOOK LIKE A RUDDY GREAT TRICERATOPS.

Further Adventures With Dot Points

:: Racoons are cute and heartbreaking.

:: I had a week off. I was so relaxed. Two days of typing for 8 hours and my shoulders are killing me. It alarms me that I've been walking around with muscles this stiff and sore and thinking it natural.

:: It's really cold.

:: Amazon, if I specify 'few shipments as possible', I do NOT mean ship them one at a time. Within 40 minutes of each other. I have to pay for every single one of those transactions, plus the exchange rate conversion fee. Bad Amazon, bad.

:: NO! I AM SPARTACUS!

:: All you kids going to Conflux, remember to always use protection. All you kids running Conflux, remember to always use protection. And lube. You'll need plenty of that for things to flow smoothly.

:: Don't look at me like that.

:: It's really cold.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hair, or Hair Not

I was going to hold of with the pikchurs, as I've already run down the batteries on my camera, and it's too cold for me to seriously consider walking outside to buy some more. You'll have to be content with shonky webcam pikchurs instead.

Before:



I didn't realise my hair was that long till I saw this photo. I mean, wow. That's a lot of hair. What are you supposed to do with a mop like that? Do monster impressions on request -



- or strangle myself -



- the possibilities aren't endless.

After:





I have emo hair! Or anime hair. And every now and then, I look like a boy (if you ignore those things on my chest).

Things I've learned:

:: I have a back of the neck? I do? I do!

:: Damn it's cold in here. That's what having a back of the neck and not having your own personal hanging blanket does.

:: You can't towel dry your hair, that's just dum- OMG I CAN TOWEL DRY MY HAIR.

:: I turn my head, and I can't feel it in my scalp. My hair isn't moving.

:: 25 years my hair has dictated my movements. The way I put clothes on, the way I sit down, lie, roll over - all these things I do in a certain way to work around my hair. Now I don't have to. Which doesn't stop me reaching around to pull half a metre of hair out of my jumper when I first put it on.

:: Short hair won't stay tucked behind your ears. Dammit.

:: I have too much brush now.

:: Hairdressing salons are strange places. An entire world I've never walked in. I felt like an alien, and sitting in the waiting room weireded me out more than the snip of scissors.

:: My head weighs a quarter of what I thought it did.

:: Product? Oh you're kidding me...

In my head, it was a really big deal. I had short hair when I was born. There are photos of me as a child with shortish hair, only because I hadn't yet been alive long enough for it to grow. 25 year of long hair. No, my whole memory of long hair. No one has ever seen me with short hair aside from my parents. As much as we try not to make our identities physical, I was my hair. People who haven't seen me since primary school recognise me because I haven't changed. Ever.

But when she cut it, and cut and cut and cut it, it wasn't a big deal. I stepped outside, and it really truely was not a big deal. It just felt strange.

So, there you go. I didn't die after all.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tessa New Year

And lo! It was the Fifth Day of the Sixth month of the Twenty-Fifth Year Of Tessa. Twenty-five years of Tessa On Earth. What a waste of air. Every birthday I reach, I'm suprised I'm still here, moving around, making strange noises. It feels like a triumph, but over who or what, I don't know.

Still, quarter century. Go me.

I spent some time pondering on how to mark this occasion. Chinese New Year involves lion dances (which would be cool, but I have no lions), fireworks (I have no fireworks), red pockets (I have no red pockets), food (hell yes!) and a lot of noise.

Australian New Year seems to involve fireworks (I have no fireworks), barbeques (IT IS SERIOUSLY FUCKING COLD RIGHT NOW), getting utterly smashed and throwing up in the street (I do have some dignity), and lots of noise.

But hey, I like doing things my way, and so to sing in the new year, I indulged in a fair amount of self-mutilation;



I, uh, cut my hair.

Happy New Year.

(I may not have red pockets, but I can give you all this: Drop - by Cornelius. It makes me happy in a playing in the bath sort of way. If you like, JB hi fi are selling the album for $14.)

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Monkey - Wu Ch'eng-en, translated by Arthur Waley

This translation was first published in 1942, and this particular reprint in 1979. You can see proof of its age by looking at the colour difference between the spine and the cover. Ah, the poor thing, it's faded despite being kept well out of the sun. The recommended retail price on the back is $4.95AUS. I wish.

After finishing Shadows Bite I'd run out of vampire books, so had to turn to the supernatural in general, still seeking out books that wouldn't in any way tempt me to alter my current writing world. I remember just staring at my bookshelves, when I should have left for work a couple of minutes prior, seeing this, and just grabbed it and running. I've been meaning to read it since I was a child. People of my generation talk about growing up on Transformers, Voltron, He-man and She-ra, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - I remember them all, but what I adored was the Monkey series that was on ABC after school. Monkey could have kicked all those wannabe cartoons easily (and then be told off about it).

For those of you who aren't familiar with the story (you're not?) Tripitaka is a priest on a mission from Go- Buddha to fetch the holy scriptures from Thunderclap temple in India, and save all the lost souls in China. To aid him in his incredibly long journey, he has King Monkey, Great Sage, Equal of Heaven, Pigsy, Ex-Grand Marshal of all the Heavenly Hosts, and Sandy, Ex-Supreme Commander of the Heavenly Hosts. While the three of them possess all sorts of magical abilities, Kuan-yin, the Compassionate Bodhisattva, couldn't have picked less suitable dweebs. Along the way, they're beset by all sorts of demons and monsters, and Tripitaka has is work cut out for him making good buddhists of his disciples.

Unfortunatly, the first thing I discovered upon reading the introduction was that this particular version was not a complete translation - the entire of Journey to the West is some hundreds of chapters long, whereas this is much abbrieviated, being a mere thirty chapters. Oh well.

I read it anyway, and the cheekiness I thought was a modernisation designed to pander to a current TV audience turned out to be taken straight from the original story. Oh my goodness. All folktales need to be like this. It's so rude and immature, no wonder I loved/love it.

(On second thoughts, most folktales are gruesome and cleaned up for a modern audience. But gruesome is an entirely different kettle of fish to immature/cheeky/mischievious/omigod did he just DO that?)

For example, at one point Tripitaka and his disciples come to the kingdom of Crow-cock, which has come under the sway of three spirits, who in turn have outlawed Buddhism and raised Taoism high. In the middle of the night, Monkey, Sandy and Pigsy decide to sneak into the Taoist temple. They stick the portraits of the Taoist Trinity in the toilet, eat all the offerings, and when the Taoist monks come to investigate all the noise, pose as the Taoist Trinity come to earth. The three spirits see this visitation as a prime opportunity to ask Lao Tzu for some of his life elixr. The disciples decide to oblige them, and on sending them out of the room, piss in three jugs, and hand that over. At which point I was just about in tears laughing, because that wasn't the first time urine featured in the story.

The greater part of this translation concerns itself with Monkey running amok in Heaven. Heaven being something of a great celestial bureaucracy, is in no means prepared to deal with the Great Sage, Equal of Heaven, and falls apart much as bureaucracies do. The Jade Emperor's complete lack of leadership made me giggle, and their inability to do anything other than send more people to fight and lose to Monkey made me giggle more.

Interestingly, while it is evident what unwholesome qualities both Monkey and Pigsy are supposed to depicte, I'm never quite sure what the go with Sandy is. Neither, it turns out, was Waley. The TV series made him something of a wannabe-intellect, a know-it-all who doesn't, but the others are guilty of the same often enough.

(I did love Tripitaka in the book. Every time they come to a river, or mountain, or something that might be difficult to cross, he bursts in to tears and gives up all hope there and then.)

Reading this, combined with an impending nightshift, led me to go out and buy the complete Monkey series on DVD.

Alas, while there was no feeding pee to Taoists, it stands the test of time, and my god, is possibly the greatest TV series EVAH. It has a mad genius that allows for Buddhist teachings among non-stop bickering between the three.

Now I need to get myself a copy of the full translation of Journey to the West, as the transition between Cheeky Monkey to Enlightened Monkey is far too fast in thirty chapters.

Verdict: Great, great fun, terribly amusing. You'd have to have a pretty unfit sense of humour not to enjoy this, and even if you did, there's still a lot to learn about both Chinese culture and history.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Shadows Bite - Stephen Dedman



Now, if I'd know this was the sequel to The Art of Arrow Cutting I would have held off reading it. But I'd run out of junk books, and was still on a vampire kick, and the blurb just rocked, so my reasons not to read it weren't particularly pressing.

Still, it was a stupid thing to do. One day, I will not just know, but understand, that vampires scare the willies out of me, and so NOT start a vampire book in the middle of the night. I got the willies in the first chapter, and got them bad. I slept with the light on.

The basic plot is; a powerful sorceror's son goes and falls for a girl who really wants to be a vampire, becomes one, is kept around because powerful sorceror likes to indulge his son, and because vampires run amok, the vampire runs amok. Los Angeles suffers for it. An attorney, stuntman and photographer who are totally badarse find it up to them to save the day. It's incredibly fun.

Dedman's characters are fully fleshed and potty-mouthed (just how I like them), sad and hopeless and pathetic, and megalomanic and world-domineering, and even those housemates who only flittered briefly through the paragraphs were fascinating creatures all on their own. Everyone is the star of their own movie, and Dedman makes this true.

I was particularly taken with his vampire lore, and the many different types of vampires available. In this particular case, the vampire can feed by drinking her own blood, which in turn takes blood from those she shares blood with, like her parents, or anyone she'd had a transfusion from. It enabled her to kill and create without even going near her family, and came with all sorts of horrible implications that made it worse than just another vampire story. How many of you know who your blood came from? The other side of the country? Eeeee, and so it just spreads and spreads.

Unfortunately, while the whole book was great fun and more than well written, it never quite lived up to those first few chapters detailing The Photo. That photo was creepy as fuck, and I never recovered from it. Creepiness of that magnitude is hard to follow up with, and when it came down to shotguns in a cafe, the creepiness was sadly irrelevant.

(I still believe shotguns are purely for zombies.)

I'm going to have to hunt out the first book now. Drat.

Verdict: Yah, I know these aren't great write ups, but I'm reading faster than I'm noting, so I need them done. This book is great fun, a fantastic oddball take on a vampire story, and fantabulously written.
Boogiepop and Others - by Kouhei Kadono, translated by Andrew Cunningham



It's a weird name, I know. Boogiepop is a secret saviour, a knight who comes to the protection of the world when such protection is required. He doesn't exist outside these circumstances; he is a split personality. In his own words, he's bubbles. He floats to the surface now and then. Hence, he's a boogie...pop. Like soda.

It's a weird name.

In this particular case, he floats the the surface of Touka Miyashita, a highschool girl, who does not and never will know of Boogiepop's existance, and all the time she looses to him. As if adolescance isn't hard enough.

I first encountered this in anime form. We were sending the DVDs back to head office in an overstock recall, and I thought 'why not?' and grabbed them. Good call on my part. While the production was lackluster, the storytelling was incredible. Each episode was from the point of view of a different character, detailing an incident that was important to them. Some of the episodes overlapped, and some just passed each other by, so that three episodes later I finally understood what the two seconds of random stranger screaming on a corner actually meant. The story was a jigsaw puzzle to piece together for yourself, and by the end, I had the larger picture. Most of it, anyway. It was different, and challenging, and my god I loved it.

I've been waiting for the novels to be translated ever since then, because there were points I wasn't sure about that I wanted clarified, so I ate this book as soon as I saw it. (And also because I was still on a junk book kick.)

The anime, as it turns out, was following the same storytelling method as the book - each chapter is from a different character's point of view, and not necessarily following them through the same time period. Again, this was occasionally confusing, but the challenge of teasing out the chronology of the narrative was intriguing. It didn't turn me off, it made me work harder.

The writing style/translation was plain and simple, neither a work of art or something to be mocked. Although I would like to state that 'gotten' is not a word. Dammit. Unfortunately, for a book in which there are several POVs, and each of them key, there was no discernable difference in voice between them, something which felt like an enormous wasted opportunity.

One day, I will figure out why japanese school kids are forced to save the world so much.

Did I get the rest of the larger picture? Yes, and no. Turns out, this is one of many novels.

Verdict: Although it isn't the greatest of art works, it will offer any writer an interesting study on storytelling, and what you can get away with not saying. For everyone else, well, you probably already know if anime/manga type works are your thing.
Oh. My. God.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Vampire Hunter D vol 3: Demon Deathchase - by Hideyuki Kikuchi, translated by Kevin Leahy



Don't worry, that's not D on the cover; he's too cool to wear something like that.

You probably know the drill by now; wobbly writing + wobbly translation = awesomeness. There is a special genius to these books. They have 'it', that infectious creative flare that blinds me to all the other flaws. Some of the time. That flare can't be faked, you either have it, or you don't.

This particular volume was the basis of the movie Bloodlust, where I first met D. (I thought he had no personality then too.) It was interesting noting the differences between the two, and there were a lot.

For example, in the book Leila, current female lead, is much the same as every other female lead so far. She's beeeeautiful, she's turrrf, she's full of sass and attituded and she don't take no crap from nobody, except D, because she can't help but fall madly in love with him at first sight. She's also in continual danger of sexual horrors, except this time, such threat doesn't come from whatever monsters they may be facing, but from her brothers.

I kinda choked when this came out.

The Marcus clan consists of four brothers and Leila. One night, they all decided to rape her. I have no idea why. I don't know many brothers who find the idea of boning their sisters appealing, so to find four such people in the one family is a bit high. Nevertheless, they do this. Instead of, I don't know, LEAVING THEM, she stays, and they go around hunting vampires with a happy family dynamic that is not the least bit messed up, and she can't have been that scarred from the ordeal.

Fine, maybe it was a one off, only not. They jump her every single time they need to give Grove, who has mad super powers, a seizure. And she still sticks around. They say they need her: why exactly? If it's arousal, wouldn't any woman do? Why don't they just give him handjob?

So, yes. Insert a fair amount of disbelief and disgust. This guy does NOT know how to write women, and I worry for those in his life.

In the movie, all that has been taken out, and Leila is a more solid and structured character. Who hides her love well.

I actually found this very hard to get past. The rest of the book receeds behind that ridiculous bit of characterisation, if that's what it was.

The heart of the story is a vampire and a human woman have fallen in love, and are making an escape to a fabled starport, where they hope to find a ship still functioning, and make for the stars. D and the Marcus clan are hunting them due to a comission from the girl's father, although they're not exactly for working together. Thrown into this mix are a few demons of Barborois, who are all for killing everyone, and there you have the essence of the story: everyone fights everyone else.

This felt like the weakest of the three I've read, even taking into consideration that the last one was full of fog that I never saw through. Here, it was all just one excuse for a supposedly jaw-dropping fight after another, over and over. By now, I'm well aware of exactly how cool D is, and I really don't need it demonstrated this often. At least in the last there was something of an interesting dynamic between characters.

I did prefer the ending in the book over the movie. Much sadder, with much less hope, but it felt right.

And to finish on a random tangent, at some point one of the Marcus brothers and Mayerling, the vampire, have a show down in an ant nest. These ants (at least, I thought of them as ants) were especially savage flesh eaters, who would strip your bones before you knew it. But they were called 'mints'. I couldn't help seeing the two of them covered by minties and screaming.

Verdict: One day, he'll have a female lead that isn't a mere device for getting his joneses on.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Vampire Hunter D Vol 2: Raiser of Gales - by Hideyuki Kikuchi, translated by Keven Leahy



HE CAN SEE YOU.

Look, this book sucks. It's badly written, and not particularly well translated, and I totally utterly love it. Some shit is so bad it's brilliant. I know it isn't good for me, just like chocolate, but do you think I can stop?

In this book, strange things are happening in the frontier village of Tepes. Ten years ago, children vanished up by a ruined castle, and returned a week later with no memory of where they had been or what had happened to them. Now, vampires plague the village (which is to be expected when reading a book about a vampire hunter), only these vampires can move about in daylight.

Shock! Horror!

I have no idea why it's called 'Raiser of Gales'. As much as that is a great title, it has bugger all to do with anything. It rains a bit, but not because anyone made it rain.

D wanders in, and takes the job. There's a pretty girl involved who (to me) is a right irritating brat, but never the less has this astonishing power to, OMG!, make D at loss for words. 'cause she's pretty. And terrible intelligent. And pretty. She (as with all female leads in these books) is in constant peril of being raped (because all males apart from D are rapists at heart), and is regularly taken advantage of by her foster father. I'm not sure whether or not this is rape, because apparently despite hating it, she can't help but be terrible aroused. I call BULLSHIT. This relationship also does not fuck her up, which I find hard to believe. Her greatest act of rebellion, when being confronted by all these sexual predators, is to stick out her tongue, which must mean something quite different in this world, as it is often more than enough to drive the person having the tongue stuck out at into a VIOLENT RAGE OF INDIGNATION. Seriously. Racial slurs don't have the same affect.

This girl, Lina, is one of those children who went missing, and is of course the key to everything.

Beyond that...this is one hell of a muddled story. It shambles around like a sad lost little zombie, not entirely sure of where it's going but finding some monsters to fight along the way anyway. I believe the end message is that these failed experimental vampires that walk in day were supposed to be a way of saying that even the Nobility knew they were dying out, and were trying to further themselves, but to create a new perfect race of human-vampire hybrids with all the strengths of both and none of the weaknesses, to make everyone happy, because vampires are essentially nice people.

I call BULLSHIT.

It's never really clear who was responsible for what. There are too many mysterious shadows that whisper little secrets but never reveal their identity, so I'm not sure who's what.

Everyone takes the hue of paraffin again, which instead of making me think 'pale', makes me think 'lamp', which isn't a great look. D is gorgeous this, gorgeous that, so pretty that all these red-blooded hetrosexual rapist men want to get in his pants too. In fact, at one point, a band of brigands are frozen at the sight of this "gorgeous God of Death", which had me in tears.

Thankfully, everyone dies. Except D. Because, you know, he's too cool to die.

I will say this; the illustrations are beautiful. Yoshitaka Amano is a striking artist, and his pictures are eye catching, not in the standard anime way. He'll be at Worldcon in Japan, which may or may not have been a deciding factor on my attending.

Verdict: THE SHIT IS BANANAS. AND BANANAS ARE DAAAAAMN GOOD.