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Monday, December 27, 2010

Labyrinth Trifecta

Recently, I've been looking at movie posters from the 80's, sending my brain on a spinning spree of warm, nostalgic, bunny feelings.

I've always liked seeing posters from different countries/releases for the same film, so here, let me present the first of what I will aim to make a more regular occurrence.

Jim Henson's Labyrinth, in three-form.



While I like the dark and shadowy feeling of the first one, the middle version will always be my favourite for two reasons: 1) the beautiful detail and design, and 2) the poster adorned my bedroom wall for several years.

The third one suffers a bit from Poster-Floating-Syndrome -- a lot of disembodied floating heads and a giant Sarah-carrying crystal ball, floating, while Jareth's floating head seemingly floats out of a black hole.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What's That In The Sky, Bro?


A recent poll suggests that the amount of Kiwis who believe in UFO's just outweigh those who don't. This comes on the back of recently released government documents, New Zealand's own X-Files.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Short Story At World SF Blog

‘Magique’ is a short piece set in the world of The Strickland Diaries.

As I’ve been working on the novel, I’ve discovered characters within the city of Juno that didn’t necessarily play a part in the story (not yet anyway), but stuck in my head. This story is a result of that. The novel's protagonist, Alex Strickland, makes an appearance near the end of the story.

Magique - World SF Blog

Sunday, November 21, 2010

At Some Point I Am Going To Have To Read Season 8 Of Buffy...

...if only because of the gorgeous artwork on display


































[all images © Dark Horse Comics]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Impropriety and Profanity: That's What I'm All About. Secretly.


Recently, I've been thinking about what it means to be a writer. I've resisted thinking about it in the past because it screws with my sense of identity. This has less to do with me thinking about myself as a writer, and more with my general ideas about what it means to have a static sense of self. While writing has long been a part of who I am, the identity alongside that has been modulated many times. So how does this one aspect of my personality make itself fit into the overall package?

The short answer is—I have no idea. It's also a lazy answer, because I have some clues, of course. One of the ideas I find most intriguing is whether my identity has shaped my writing, or whether it has been the other way around. I was doing that thing the internet seems to have been made for—browsing Facebook—and read something someone recently posted which inflamed my easily flammable temper. This promptly made me to set my status to something which contained a volume of profanities. In retrospect, that instinctual retort made me wonder: do I consciously separate my idea of who I am with my identity as a writer?

I admit it, my writing personality thinks it can say anything. It frequently does. Things that might get me arrested in some countries, or other opinions that incline people who don't know me to look at me with cemented concern. Others, like family—I think they're just used to the things that have been coming out of my mouth for a long time. I sometimes question if I should continue saying these things; politically incorrect jokes, remarks about topics like sex and gender that I sometimes think might make people think I have no sense of morality. And then there's that old chestnut Religion. God knows, I've earned the right to make a stink about that topic. I have the Reformed Protestant scars to prove it. Do I say these things because I want to make someone care, or am I just venting?
Should writers speak?

Such vexing questions, and no half-drunk wine in sight. It makes it harder, having to think about this sober. Hemingway may have had a point.

For the time being, I might have to make peace with the fact that I don't feel entirely comfortable thinking of my self without taking into account the 'writer-identity'. Maybe that's lazy in itself. Or maybe it's a way of validating whatever it is I feel like saying. Validation—another tricky subject. Do I write because I want to be justified? This is definitely not going any further without the presence of alcohol. But it does make me wonder about the motivations behind the physical act of writing. Clearly, it is something that some are better at than others, that some have preposterous talent for, and still others use to produce drivel of the highest calibre. But I can't help but think that writers may just have a different kind of guts, a kind of chutzpah that they think renders them in a light where anything they say or do elicits a particular reaction. You know; oh—it's because she/he is a writer. That might not be such a bad thing. It lets us get away with a lot of strange shit. However, sometimes I can't help but feel people aren't really listening.

Maybe that's why I don't always offer information about myself as a writer when making new acquaintances. On the other hand, that might just be me imposing upon myself a type of identity I think others will inflict upon me based on what I tell them. You can see the conundrum, can't you? All of this might not matter in the end. The real question is really whether I like to think of myself as a writer. Do I accept the clichés, the preconceived ideas about "people like me"? Yes. Because strangers, be default, will never know you. They can (and will) form opinions on first impressions. Some of them will even say stupid and irrelevant things to you. But as A Writer, I have the right to respond however irreverently or improperly and without propriety and blame it all on the fact that I'm One Of Those People. And that suits me just fine.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Know What I'll Be Doing Over My Summer Break This Year...

...catching up on all my telly! Yes, while all the cool kids stumble past my window to town to get drunk, I'll invite the cat and a cup of Milo to get brainless with me (except for those sneaky mind-altering Horizon episodes!)

WHAT I'M CURRENTLY WATCHING/HAVE BEEN WATCHING:
















WHAT I NEED TO WATCH:


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting Things Off Your Chest Is Good.

Something's been on my mind lately.

Recently, I've begun feeling guilty. Not about the fact that my diet still has way too much sugar and sodium, or that I blissfully lose myself in writing make-believe stories when I should be studying for exams. Nope, it's none of those. Rather, I've been feeling guilty about not being more ... activisty. Yes, you heard me. Activisty.

I did all of that stuff when I was twenty-two. I was angry and angry and angry. At the world, my parents, some of my friends and all the dicks that didn't know me but felt the need to tell me what I could and couldn't do, who I could and couldn't sleep with. But the anger dissipated; I grew up, got a little zen, and somehow stopped being angry at the world—even the pricks who still wanted to tell me how I was supposed to lead my life.

Lately, though, that angry part of me has been simmering. Why have you suppressed us for so long? When will you realise you need to shout, to kick, to punch and create a furore? Don't get me wrong—I see what goes on in the world. These days we see it in high-def; it's pretty difficult to miss. But how exactly are you helping people if all the news does is make you feel angry and helpless? Perhaps I have spent the last years approaching life from too analytical point of view. This from the teenager dressed in black, hiding behind her closed bedroom door, listening to music so as yo drown out a world that made no sense. Where black and white lived segregated and no-one questioned the status quo. I think I felt so much that I couldn't bear thinking about it. Now, seemingly all I want to do is think about it, because it keeps me from feeling.

Someone showed me the FCKH8 video recently, and I realised again: kids are killing themselves over being bullied about their sexuality. Being queer has been a part of my identity for such a long time I no longer think about it. I'm not really into seeing every single movie with a lesbian in it because, let's face it, most of them are solidly crap. The L Word went in.fucking.sane pretty much right after it started. I just don't feel the need to proclaim myself as gay at every possible opportunity. And then I remember again: kids are killing themselves.

In the face of this, why am I not making a noise? Why am I not piercing my nipples, colouring my hair blue and spray-painting empowering graffiti about my lady-parts on downtown walls? I'm not sure. Becuse there is a significant part of me that would really like to do that. Would like to walk into the face of some homophobe and tell him/her exactly what it is us queers get up to; that no, not all of us go clubbing on the week-end sniffing copious amounts of drugs (but some of us do, bless); that some of us enjoy having our fucking dinner and a glass of wine in front of the TV watching the latest episode of Fringe (my favourite). That sometimes we have to work late nights, look after children, catch up with friends, play soccer or whatever—normal things. Like straight people.

I don't feel like ranting, and I'm not going to. But something in me needed to say this. It's unlikely that I actually will turn into a blue-haired lesbionic feminist (at least, not overnight). I guess I needed to get something off my chest. I haven't nearly said it as eloquent as I can because I'm writing an exam in two days and my head's kind of swimming with the facts regarding Messrs Coleridge (awesome) and Wordsworth (boring). But I'll say this: stop it. You are killing children. How is that worth the insecurities and uncertainties you carry around with you? Does it make you sleep better at night?

I may not be the most activisty person on the planet, but I see what's going on. Cowards feed upon the misery of others. For the love of god, stop listening to what your asshole friends tell you to do and start thinking for yourself.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Prof. Dr. Christiana Estella Rowbotham III – Reading Recommendation.

I have in my hands the forthcoming anthology edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded.

Featuring stories by amongst others William Gibson, Margo Lanagan, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Marc Laidlaw, Tanith Lee and Stephen Baxter, this second volume leads us further into the realm of gears and gadgets, following on the success of the preceding volume.

One of the best things about Steampunk Vol.2 is that it contains not only fiction, but non-fiction essays and observations about Steampunk as a genre and a mode of writing. As someone who is interested in the intersection between creative writing and academic analysis I think that more (particularly genre orientated) anthologies should be amalgamating themselves like this. The reading of well-written fiction is of course a pleasure unto itself; however, the more informed we are about how and why certain aspects of a particular mode of fiction appeals to us, the more we are able to enjoy the work on several nuanced levels.

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded will be released October 2010.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Onion - Making News Worthwhile

Mysterious Crate Arrives From London

DOCKSIDE, NEW ENGLAND—Witnesses were reportedly baffled by both the provenance and contents of a mysterious box which, constructed of stout heart-of-oak and bound in cold iron, was brought the quay Thursday night by the H.M.S. Redoubtable, arriving from London after a passage fraught with misadventure.

The crate, standing roughly high as a man's chest and somewhat wider than a span of arms, has instilled in those who spoke to reporters a sense of great disquiet and foreboding, with many alleging the object to be possessed of strange properties that defy easy reckoning.

"Be right glad to be shut of that, whatsoever it may hold," said the captain of the Redoubtable, pointing to the box, about whose odd geometry a fog had curled in unclean tendrils...

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

ek het jou lief, my soetkoekie!

VIA OEDchocolate-cupcakes

soetkoekie S. Afr.

(sut'’kuːkiː)

Also zoete-koekie, soet-koekie.

[Afrikaans, lit. ‘a little sweet cake’, f. Du. zoet sweet + koek cake + -ie dim. suff.]

A traditional South African spiced biscuit.

1910 D. Fairbridge That which hath Been ix. 115 Juffvrouw wanted very bad to help hand zoete-koekies.

1939 ‘D. Rame’ Wine of Good Hope iii. iii. 368 They ended their tea and the thin bread and butter and soet-koekies of Grim's ceremony.

1949 L. G. Green In Land of Afternoon xii. 165, I have heard of a special ginger beer which is brewed during Christmas week and served with soetkoekies.

1973 Fair Lady 7 Mar. 23 With visions of my Voortrekker ancestors embarking on hazardous journeys with tinfuls of ‘mebos’, biltong, and ‘soet⁓koekies’, I scratched through my recipe book.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

There Are No Facts, Only Interpretations.

Thank you, Nietzsche.

reality, hyperreality

The term reality perhaps most often refers to that which “constitutes the actual thing, as distinguished from what is merely apparent or external” and “underlies and is the truth of appearances or phenomena."

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Source: The University of Chicago :: Theories of Media

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Here We Go Again

Today I decided to give myself a kick up the butt; I’ve started banging out a proposal for my Masters thesis. I am both terribly excited and petrified when I think about it, so that’s a good thing. Yes?

It took me the better part of the whole day to get out about 500 words, but I think it went well. I’m happy that I’m able to include aspects of undergraduate Religious Studies as well, even if it ends up meaning that I might have to have dual supervisors from two different faculties.

I need to remind myself to breathe. I have a lot on my plate, but it’s all good stuff. I just wish there were more hours in the day and that my brain could function at at least twice (thrice would be nice) the capacity it is currently capable of.

Picture courtesy of Brian’s Guide

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dragons, Fires And Hornets



I'm almost through Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. When I was younger I used to read crime novels obsessively, but eventually, for whatever reason, found myself discarding the genre. After numerous enthusiastic friends kept telling me that I had to read Larsson's novels, I gave in. The trusty secondhand bookshop down the road happened to have all three books in stock. I had no excuse.

I'm going to say upfront that, one of the reasons I found the books so compelling is because of the setting. Larsson manages to combine remote Swedish settings with finely detailed (but not overwhelming) descriptions of Stockholm, adding to the mix the danger and excitement of journalism with one mission only: to expose corrupt individuals and governments - something I have a soft spot for.

Then there is Lisbeth Salander. Somewhere inside me a perverse pleasure bubbles up whenever a male author creates such a fantastically complex female character. I can't explain it, neither do I wish to. Larsson creates between Lisbeth's actions and the details of her traumatic past an unspoken dialogue between reader and text that can be approached on so many levels that the potential for discussion is endless. Whether you choose to approach the themes of the trilogy from a philosophical, moral, social or psychological context, you're bound to come up with some uncomfortable questions. Isn't that what good books should do?

This is one of the key functions of Larsson's series; through Lisbeth Salander, the novels aim to communicate our perceptions of not only individual responsibility, but the effects our decisions have on those who are denied the same rights.

Lisbeth's actions throughout the three novels are based on one thing: self-preservation. Having suffered unspeakably for most of her life at the hands of the very people who should have been protecting her, she trusts no-one. Her methods are for the most part against the law. What sets her apart from an ordinary "grab-and-dash" kind of crook is that Lisbeth always takes responsibility for her actions. She lives by her own moral code, but it is a code that nonetheless has consequences . When one starts weighing up the difference between what Salander does to get her way and what has been done to Salander to turn her into the person she has become, things get very muddled from a moral and ethical perspective.

Perhaps the most admirable aspect of Salander is that, despite everything she has endured, she never comes across as a victim. Her experiences are of the kind that could easily break the strongest constitution, both mentally and physically. Lisbeth Salander never uses this as a defense for her actions. She merely does what she thinks is right. Whether those beliefs are shaped by the experiences she has had to endure is another of the intricate themes contained within the novels.

A note of interest: The first installment in the trilogy, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", was changed in name from its original Swedish title, "Män som hatar kvinnor – "Men Who Hate Women". I'm not surprised at the change. Make no mistake, these books are brutal in their depiction of the violence perpetrated by men against women. But I wonder if a novel - and particularly a film - would have been as successful in the oh-so-Hollywood-obsessed English mainstream market if the original title had remained. It implies that society, for all its constant patting-on-the-back about gender equality and equal rights continues to fail not only women, but everyone who doesn't allow themselves to be pigeonholed.

Elegantly Wasted





I want to be this cat right now.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Continuing On A Gothic Note...

Next up in the audio book line is Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. I'm having a great time reading (or listening) to these texts from an academic/analytical perspective.

Poe was a strange man. I wish someone would find out what happened during the last few days of his life. I also wish that he had Lovecraft could have collaborated on a story. Can you imagine?


Image by Sophy Tuttle

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Good News Everyone!


More like bloody terrific news! Guillermo Del Toro is finally set to direct Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness.

Audiobooks Challenge

I spend 45 minutes every morning walking to the waterfront and back home via the city. As of today I'm using that time to catch up on some books I haven't read in a while or have always wanted to read. First up, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. What I like most about the novella is the way Stevenson manages to portray Hyde as both monstrous and pitiable. The relationship between Jekyll and his dark side is not so much conveyed between what Jekyll says and what Hyde does; it's altogether more sinister somehow. It has more to do with what Stevenson has not written than what he has.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Awake For 25 Hours Straight --


...finishing the final draft of my research essay, "Jungian Archetypes and Mythic Narrative in Michael Ende's The Neverending Story. Going to sleep now.


Friday, June 18, 2010

The Stubborn Child

After I'd flung my study notes to one side last night before going to sleep, Jen read me this tiny story from The Annotated Brothers Grimm. It was so wonderfully bizarre, the imagery so superbly surreal that I had to share.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Update: Storm and Stress

Yikes.

It's that time of term. I've handed in all my essays, papers and whatnot. Next week I'm writing two exams, Monday and Friday. After that I have 6 weeks to complete my research paper. After that - hello Trimester 2! One paper only. Sweet bliss.

I'm supposed to be studying but my brain feels as if it has reached saturation point and simply won't take anything else in. One of my friends remarked how Honours is really chilled throughout the term and then all of a sudden becomes really scary as exams approach. It's not so much a matter of whether you know the work, but rather, are they going to ask questions in such a way that you will be able to apply what you know to it?

I always panic myself into a state about exams and then end up doing fine. But the ante has been upped now and there is always that little bit of doubt at the back of your mind. Then again, if you didn't have that bit of doubt I think you'd be rather stupid. And so all of it is capital indeed and I've just got to get through this coming week without my head esploding.

In other news: Fuck you, BP. You are a piece of shit. You're dragging your heels, trying to find a "solution" to your monumental fuck up when you have all the money in the world to solve it. Why don't you stuff that leak with all the investors you are so desperately trying to placate?
(Picture by Michael Trahan)

Can't wait to get back to writing the second half of Book One of the Strickland Diaries after exams are done.

Watched the opening game of the World Cup between Bafana Bafana and Mexico. The Boys, whilst getting off to a shaky start, ended up playing a hell of a game. Hero of the day was Siphiwe Tshabalala who fired a tremendous goal straight past Mexico's goalie into the top corner of the net. Ladumaaaaa!

If they can build on what they gave us in their first game, I don't see why we can't win another one or two matches. That would be a great result for South Africa. We sure have come a hell of a way in sixteen years. Thank you Madiba, and bless the Rainbow Nation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Because Girlfriends Are Awesome


Yesterday, due to insane tiredness, I had to break my writing streak at 750words.com thus missing out on my 100-day streak phoenix badge. Jen, being awesome, made me a Jeckle to make it all better :D



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

...

"I opened my eyes and saw the careful eye of a blue whale, its gigantic body sliding by languidly. A huddle of bell jellies bobbed below in the wake of the trailing current."

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Something Like...

Reality and the Mind
|
LANGUAGE
|
Produces In the Mind A Reality --> Understanding Facilitated By Interpretation
|
Interpretation = Biased
|
LANGUAGE: segregates or unifies --> Language as Terrorism?

Saturday, May 1, 2010