Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Incomparable Couch of Death

Last call for Katherine Halle, who won the second octopus! Aidee received hers, and was kind enough to send me a picture of it getting acquainted with her cat:

Those two are going to be excellent friends, don't you think? ;-)


I wasn't sure what I would talk about today -- I've been writing some, but only a tiny bit. I'd blame it on how terribly busy I am, but the truth is that I've gotten rather obsessed with crocheting lately. Specifically, crocheting amigurumi (as the octopi contest would rather make obvious). And even more specifically, in the last week, bunnies. I even made a Bunny Doctor Who:

(My particular favorite Doctor is the 10th reincarnation, played by David Tennant. But the fez and bow tie are a lot easier to render into crocheted form.)

But then today, I was listening to John Green's latest vlog post, wherein, in celebration of the official (calendar) arrival of spring, he read a poem by e. e. cummings which blew me away.

I'm not really into poetry, as a rule, but this one was amazing. It managed to be intellectual and a little political and sexy all at the same time, and it did it quickly -- I don't think John's reading of the poem takes more than about forty seconds. I had to go hunt it down so I could re-read it a few times (good poetry always makes you dig) and it continued to be amazing. And since it was so sexy, I thought I'd share it with you, too. Not all erotica has to be lowbrow, after all. Enjoy:

O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have

          fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched

,has the naughty thumb
of science prodded

      beauty      .how
oftn have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive

to the incomparable
couch of death thy

          thou answerest

them only with


I'm not usually a huge e. e. cummings fan, but really, such fantastic imagery. Discussion, anyone?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Octopi and Lost Children

First up: winners of the crocheted octopus contest! Since I have two octopi finished, it only makes sense to have two winners. The fine random number generator at Random.Org selected Aidee and Katherine -- you guys please email me at liz (dot) brooks (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know what address you'd like me to mail them to!


After a few months of saving up my editing paychecks, I was finally able to buy myself a new iPad. It arrived last week, and I've spent several days happily playing, enjoying the brighter colors on the new screen, making Siri perform random tasks for me that would probably be easier to do myself, and poking through my old files and stuff as I reorganize.

I loaded up Pages (which is, at $10, the most expensive app I own, but worth every penny when the writing bug strikes) and as the iPad started uploading all the files to the cloud, it began shuffling their display order. Which brought to my attention some files I had completely forgotten about -- stories begun and then set aside or even abandoned.

For instance...

"Next Thursday Night" -- This is a project I keep meaning to go back to. It's about a pair of guys who have a sort of friends with benefits deal going, except they're not even really friends... until one of them is severely hurt in a homophobic hate crime, and they discover that maybe there's a little more than they'd thought about their arrangement of convenience. I put this on hold because I wanted to do some research on injuries and pain medications, but I never got around to it.
Mark woke, blearily. He was lying on a cot in a tiny space, made even smaller by the presence of the cop sitting next to him. The cop was indisputably hot, but as soon as Mark noticed that, his attention was immediately drawn to the burning pain in his groin. Mark had a sudden, vivid memory of a steel-toed boot arcing toward his privates; his balls tried to tighten and draw up, but they were already so swollen and bruised that the protective twitch served only to make Mark whimper with additional pain.

The sound drew the cop's attention. "Woke up, did you?"

"Between Cycles" -- a sort of cyberpunk story about characters from wildly different times and places meeting in a virtual reality.
Joel opened his eyes to dull nothingness, as if he stood in a void of unreflective grey, the world around him leached to the color of unprinted newspaper. Even the ground under his feet, if you could call it ground when there was nothing there. Had he taken some drug? He couldn't remember.

He couldn't remember much of anything, in fact. Just a few lines of poetry. And Terry. Of course he remembered Terry. But nothing else.

His heart began to race, but then suddenly the nothing around him hiccuped, and lurched, and Joel was standing in what looked like the countryside. Emerald grass swayed gently under a bright sun, mountains sulked on the horizon, and the sudden babble of a nearby brook served to underscore how silent it had been before. Far out, Joel thought. He still couldn't remember anything, but now that the world was back, he wasn't so worried.

An untitled piece about a woman who is mugged and the man who comes to her rescue, that at its core is about challenging stereotypes.
It was a white man who stole Mary Ellen's purse, completely counter to Grandma Owen's dire predictions. Not even a disheveled, homeless man or a gangbanging teenager, either, but a tall, handsome man in his thirties, wearing a button-down shirt and khakis, the sort of man Mary Ellen's mother was always nagging at her to date. She'd smiled at him as he passed her, and had even begun to wonder if she could contrive to stop him and talk to him, when suddenly he snatched her purse from her side and took off at a run.

Another untitled piece that's pretty thinly-veiled fanfic (and desperately, pathetically MarySue), but which actually has a nifty opening about time travel that should really be peeled out and used in a real, publishable story.
Another week or two later, we got some more ancient animals, and then some more, and by that time the language barrier was finally crossed, and what the future scientist told us was that the future end of the door had basically snapped backward like a rubber band, and was now closing in on its resting state of just leading to, you know, the now.

It wasn't long before our first human came through, some sort of aborigine. We'd been ready for him, sort of, but he wasn't ready for us. His brain snapped and he went crazy, and then later they reported that he was in custody and under sedation, but then his immune system collapsed under the weight of all our weird future germs and he died of pneumonia. It was sad, and after that, they tightened up security a lot more and were way more careful with the poor, unwitting time travelers who came through the rift.

"Taming the Dragon" -- My first attempt at writing BDSM, and it's all wrong, but I actually rather like the story itself. Maybe one of these days, I'll be able to recover the good parts.
"Good," Zhan said. "And how will you report the incident to Lord Pan?"

Wen Fai looked directly at Zhan. It was so quick that if Zhan had not been watching for it, he would have missed it, but it was enough to confirm his suspicions. "This one would not think to trouble the lord with such triviality, master."

"No? Not Lord Pan, then. But someone. It's why you're here."

"This one is here to serve you, master."

"Perhaps," Zhan allowed. "But your chief mission is to spy on me for the White Dragon."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tentacle Contest

I didn't post last week, I know -- bad writer.

My excuse is that I was sick. Not really sick -- I barely broke a low-grade fever -- but I had that congestion/cough/bricked-up sinuses feeling that goes along with your average head cold (and possibly minor sinus infection). I kept waiting for it to morph into the flu my kids'd had the previous week, but it didn't. I was mildly miserable and barely able to maintain half-intelligent conversation for the best part of three days, and then it cleared up and turned into a cough that is apparently going to stick around to see the spring.

So not only was I not really coherent enough to write a cogent blog post, I also pretty much took the week off from everything requiring intellectual endeavor -- I managed to squeeze out a promptfic for my project with Lynn, but didn't even do any editing. I hate to tell you how backed up my slush pile got.

(That's not a euphemism. Oh, how I wish it were.)

Luckily, I'd gotten ahead of schedule, so I had some wiggle room to take some time off. (Except for that damned slush pile, which just never stops.)

Anyway, I feel like I owe you something special as an apology for having missed a week. So I think I'll have a drawing for a handmade (by me!) octopus. You know you want one! Tentacular cuteness! All you have to do is leave a comment -- on the blog, on the LiveJournal, or on the Facebook page. Not sure what to say? Tell me your favorite cold or cough remedy! (And leave me a way to contact you; the last time I had a contest, the LJ winner never got their prize!)

I'll draw a name (or maybe two -- you never know!) in time for the next week's entry!