gwynnega: (Ernest Thesiger)
I am hennaing my hair in the midst of a heat wave. (It was supposed to be 97F today, but it's 101.) On the bright side, I will be at Readercon during next weekend's LA heat wave. Meanwhile, I have air conditioning and cool henna on my head. And tonight is James Whale night on TCM!
gwynnega: (Default)
It is Henna Day, on a mild Los Angeles afternoon. I finally got my hair cut yesterday. I last got it cut the weekend after the election. What a long, strange time it has been since.

Last night I watched Gargoyles, a 1972 TV movie, on Svengoolie. It stars Cornel Wilde as an anthropologist who encounters the gargoyles-come-to-life, but the highlight of the movie is Grayson Hall, chewing the scenery as a boozy motel owner. I'm pretty sure she has a drink in her hand in every scene she's in (except for the shot of her after she's been killed off), including a scene in a police station and one in a car.

Wiscon is less than two weeks away, and I'm really looking forward to it, though I still have tons of prep to do.
gwynnega: (Default)
It is Henna Day, on the warmest, sunniest day we've had in awhile. (We're supposed to get more rain and cool temps this week.)

Yesterday I saw the long-awaited Hidden Figures at my local movie theater. It made me cry a few times. As Lisa Bolekaja said on Twitter, the film "shows how racism (plus sexism sprinkled in) holds America back. Although a historical drama, it's really talking to 2017." The film seems more necessary than ever just now, with Trump's inauguration (I can barely type the words) less than two weeks away.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on an unseasonably warm Los Angeles November afternoon.

I keep composing blog posts in my head about the election and all its possible horrible ramifications, but I seem to have too much to say to say any of it at the moment. Yesterday I got my hair cut, and everyone at the salon (me included) was talking about the awfulness of the election. Then I went to the Iliad Bookstore, and the owner was talking with customers about the international implications of the election. As they wound up their chat, the owner said, "I was doing okay, but then you started talking." I know what he meant. At least I got to see the bookstore's two cats snoozing peacefully on top of cardboard boxes, and I bought Boris Karloff and His Films by Paul M. Jensen (1974).

I keep thinking of appropriate music for the moment--songs like "Save the Country" by Laura Nyro and "People Have the Power" by Patti Smith. But the music that seems to help me the most right now is Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band (1970) and Yoko's live version of "Don't Worry Kyoko" from Sometime in New York City (1972). I've tended to prefer Yoko's more melodic work, but now it's her screaming that resonates.

gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a warm Los Angeles afternoon. We had a few lovely fall-esque days. Now another heat wave looms. We'll probably have a few of those before actual autumn sets in.

The other night I watched Tomorrow, the World! (1944) on TCM. I joked that it's "The Bad Seed, Hitler Youth edition," but the two films have some striking parallels. Both are based on Broadway shows; both feature electrifying performances by child actors recreating their Broadway roles; both center around "bad" kids. Unlike Patty McCormack's Rhoda, Skip Homeier's Emil wasn't "born bad"; a German war orphan whose father died opposing the Nazis, Emil has been thoroughly steeped in Nazi ideology (including a giant helping of misogyny). He comes to live with his American uncle, a university professor (played in the film by Fredric March; Ralph Bellamy played him in the Broadway production). When Emil learns his uncle's fiancée is Jewish, he remarks, "That is...regrettable," and things go downhill from there, as he wreaks havoc at home, school, and in the neighborhood. Emil is clever and calculating, both mature beyond his years and an insufferable brat; his repudiation of his father masks a grief he's stuffed so far down, it seems nearly irretrievable. The film hinges upon Homeier's performance, and it's a remarkable one. (It doesn't look like the film is available on DVD, but it's showing on TCM On Demand through September 23.)
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, and we are currently not having a heat wave, though I wish it were cooler.

I am very happy with the results of the 2016 Hugo Awards (The Fifth Season!, Binti!, Uncanny!, etc., etc.), aside from the ways the Puppy shenanigans impinged on the ballot. I hope the Puppies give it a rest next year, though I said that last year.

I'm reading Shirley Jackson's The Lottery and Other Stories. Also I'm rereading Chris Kraus's I Love Dick, which I last read when it came out in 1997. Friday night I watched Jill Soloway's Amazon pilot loosely based on the book and disliked it rather a lot, though everyone else is praising it. I immediately reached for my copy of the book, which made me dislike the TV version even more. (Since it's such a loose adaptation, I might have been able to appreciate it on its own terms more if Soloway had gone whole hog and changed the title of the show and the characters' names.)
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, and we're having another heat wave. Tomorrow I'm going to see Planet of the Apes (1968) on a big screen. I've never seen any of the original series of films in a theater, and I would love to see the whole series that way (except perhaps Beneath the Planet of the Apes, which I have a grudge on because it features a different actor than Roddy McDowall as Cornelius).

I'm trying not to be entirely consumed by politics, but it isn't easy these days.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a fairly hot day in Los Angeles. But 91 degrees F doesn't feel like much compared to last weekend, when it was around 112 degrees in my neighborhood. I hope we don't have any more extreme heatwaves this summer.

I have watched season four of Orange Is the New Black. Until the last couple of episodes, I might have said it was my favorite season, but I had issues with the storytelling decisions towards the end of the season. I wasn't spoiled, but I was prepared for Something Extremely Upsetting by nonspoilery reactions on Twitter. I'm not sure whether the storytelling decisions were warranted or merely gratuitous and ill-advised, but I'm leaning towards the latter.

I'm reading and loving the final volume of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan series. I've tried to space the books out so I wouldn't finish the series too quickly. I suppose eventually I can try Ferrante's earlier work.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a cool May day in Los Angeles. WisCon fast approaches, and I have So Much To Do. Fortunately, some of what I have to do involves watching Jane the Virgin for a panel.

Last night I was watching The Incredible Shrinking Man yet again, and I consulted Cinema Cats to find out about the cat that appears in the film. I was pleased to learn that the cat who menaces the Shrinking Man is none other than veteran cat actor Orangey!
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a hot Los Angeles afternoon. We've had cold (for LA) weather, along with some rain, but now it's hot and bone-dry. Yesterday I finally got a long-overdue haircut, which I'm especially pleased about now that the weather has veered into summer.

I mentioned in a previous post that I have a poem in the latest issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone, but when my paper copy arrived the other day, I read Julie Phillips' essay "'I Begin to Meet You at Last': On the Tiptree-Russ-Le Guin Correspondence," and it's fantastic. (It looks like you can watch Phillips read the essay here; there's also a link on the page to video of Ursula Le Guin reading the letter she wrote to Alice Sheldon after she "came out" as Tiptree.)
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair a day early, as tomorrow we're supposed to have a storm (after a few weeks of bone-dry, unseasonably warm weather). Since the last time we had a big storm, my power went out, I figured it would be best to get Henna Day over with ahead of time, just in case. I hope the power stays on this time.

Later I will get back to reading Elena Ferrante's The Story of a New Name, which I am loving.

(Also, I am still obsessed with Hamilton.)
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is the first Henna Day of 2016, and since we've in the midst of LA winter (i.e., a high temperature of 60 degrees today), I'm a bit cold with the henna on my hair. We had massive rain last week, which we really needed. Fortunately my windows stayed dry.

Yesterday Mythic Delirium Volume Two showed up in the mail, featuring my poem "It's a Universal Picture" and work by Sonya Taaffe, Virginia M. Mohlere, Rose Lemberg, Dominik Parisien, Shveta Thakrar, and many other terrific writers. Plus the cover art is gorgeous.

I've been reading The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was one of the books I most enjoyed last year; this one is utterly delightful and makes it clear I need to read all of Karen Joy Fowler.

Last night I watched Phase IV (1974) on TCM. It's a movie about ants plotting to take over the world, directed by Saul Bass. It's visually stunning (though the plethora of ant closeups wigged me out) and deeply weird. It was also weird to see Michael Murphy (who I knew best from movies like Manhattan and The Front) playing an ant-battling mathematician. I think I might need to see it again.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is the final Henna Day of 2015, as the year rockets towards its conclusion. It's a chilly day (by LA standards), so I've had to crank the heat to offset the cold, wet henna on my head.

Here, have a Hanukkah song by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.

gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a cool Los Angeles afternoon. We might even get some rain. The henna on my head is a bit chilly, rather than refreshing. I am glad we've been having some actual autumn weather.

My car battery has been less thrilled by the cool weather--i.e., it died yesterday. But at least I was at home when that happened, and now I have a zippy new car battery.

Last night I watched Abar, the First Black Superman (1977) on TCM. It's a blaxploitation film about a black scientist who moves with his family into a white, ultraracist neighborhood in Los Angeles and ends up creating a wonder drug which gives a neighborhood activist super powers. The film apparently had a beleaguered production history. I was particularly taken with the 1970s LA location shots, especially the fight scene filmed at Watts Towers.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a mild, overcast afternoon. We have had heat waves galore, but now Los Angeles seems to be contemplating autumn at last. (It does this every October here; it is annoying every year.)

Since it's October, I've been enjoying TCM's Friday night horror marathons. This Friday they focused on Scary Kids. They showed (along with classics of the genre The Bad Seed and Village of the Damned), a couple of films I'd never seen: The Nanny (1965) and Children of the Damned (1964).

All I knew about The Nanny was that it was one of Bette Davis's 1960s horror outings. I hadn't realized it was a Hammer film (written and produced by the awesomely named Johnny Sangster!). It's a battle of wits between a 10-year-old boy and his nanny; he claims she killed his sister and is planning to kill him, but he's given to playing nasty practical jokes and may well be the dangerous one. The film kept me guessing almost until the end. Extremely well done.

I had expected that the sequel to Village of the Damned would feature another bevy of blond children, but to my surprise Children of the Damned's superintelligent telepaths hail from various parts of the globe (China, India, Nigeria, the Soviet Union, the USA, and England), so we actually get a multiethnic cast of kids in 1964. The children are a lot more sympathetic than in the first film, only using violence in self-defense, but swirling Cold War paranoia makes a peaceful outcome impossible.

TCM also showed the beautiful The Curse of the Cat People (1944), though it does not qualify as a scary kid film: the little girl protagonist is adorable and (aside maybe from Roddy McDowall's childhood roles) is the movie child I would most like to give a hug. This film affects me more each time I see it, to the point that I need to be armed with Kleenex when I watch it.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, and we're having another mini heat wave (typical of Los Angeles in September). My kitchen is stocked with Trader Joe's pumpkin products, but it doesn't feel quite right to consume them in 99 degree weather. (However, I have made a pot of pumpkin spice coffee and eaten some pumpkin-ginger ice cream cookies.)

Fortunately I got my hair cut yesterday, which is helping me cope with the heat.

I am currently reading several books, including the new Shirley Jackson collection Let Me Tell You, Dodie Bellamy's new book of essays When the Sick Rule the World, and C.S.E. Cooney's Bone Swans. I'm planning to read a bunch of ghost stories in October.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, and I am bracing for the heat wave we're supposed to have this week. I am heartily tired of heat waves, and if I could make autumn happen in LA before late October, I would.

I'm relieved that the Puppies were shut out of the Hugo Awards, but frustrated that so many good authors were shut out as a result of their shenanigans (especially the authors in their second year of Campbell eligibility). I was pleased to see a novel in translation winning for Best Novel.

I really hope the Puppy shenanigans don't happen again next year.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a rare Saturday Henna Day. (On Sunday I'm going to read a couple of poems and listen to a lot of great music at a friend's birthday bash.) It is a far too summery summer day. As usual at this time of year, I am longing for autumn weather, but we probably won't get it until around Halloween.

Later today I will watch The Vanishing (George Sluizer, 1988) for the first time in a number of years. Cable keeps taunting me by showing the crappy American remake from 1993 (made by the same director, but pretty much a textbook example of how Hollywood wrecks brilliant foreign films), so I ordered a Netflix DVD of the proper version.

ETA: My new favorite website: The Horror Cats: A Celebration of Felines in Horror Movies and Television.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a summer afternoon in Los Angeles. I'm not thrilled with the hot weather, but oh well.

Readercon is less than two weeks away, and here is my schedule!

Friday July 11

1:00 PM
The Works of Joanna Russ.
Gwynne Garfinkle, David G. Hartwell, Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Scott Lynch.

Joanna Russ (1937–2011) was, arguably, the most influential writer of feminist science fiction the field has ever seen. In addition to her classic The Female Man (1975), her novels include Picnic on Paradise (1968), We Who are About to… (1977), and The Two Of Them (1978). Her short fiction is collected in The Adventures of Alyx (1976), The Zanzibar Cat (1983), (Extra)Ordinary People (1984), and The Hidden Side of the Moon (1987). She was also a distinguished critic of science fiction; her books include The Country You Have Never Seen: Essays and Reviews (2007). Of her works outside the SF field, she is perhaps best known for How to Suppress Women’s Writing (1983). Join us to discuss her works.

4:00 PM
Joanna Russ: Critical Importance Then and Now.
Gwynne Garfinkle, Lila Garrott (leader), David G. Hartwell, Barbara Krasnoff.

How has the importance of Joanna Russ's critical work changed over time, and in what ways? Younger writers and readers are still discovering How to Supress Women's Writing and finding that it resonates, but what of her other work? We'll discuss the writers she's influenced, the availability of her nonfiction, and the resonance of her work today.

7:00 PM Reading: Gwynne Garfinkle. Gwynne Garfinkle reads from an ongoing series of poems inspired by classic films, TV, and pop culture.

Sunday July 13

1:00 PM
A Visit from the Context Fairy.
Kythryne Aisling, Stacey Friedberg, Gwynne Garfinkle, Kate Nepveu, Sonya Taaffe.

In a blog post at Book View Café, Sherwood Smith writes about the opposite of visits from the "Suck Fairy": going back to a book you disliked and finding that the "Win Fairy" (to coin a term) improved it when you weren't looking. Are the Suck Fairy and the Win Fairy really two faces of a unified Context Fairy? If context is so crucial to loving or hating a work, how does acknowledging that affect the way a reader approaches reading, or a writer approaches writing? How does one's hope for or dread of the Context Fairy influence decisions to reread, rewrite, revise or otherwise revisit a written work?
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day on a pleasant warmish LA afternoon. Yesterday I had another fun afternoon on Vermont Ave.: a browse at Skylight Books (where I succumbed and bought the new Penguin edition of Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber with introduction by Kelly Link, even though I already have Carter's collected stories), followed by a matinee of Mad Max: Fury Road, and dinner takeout from Juicy Burger.

Frenetically explodey films aren't usually my cup of tea, but Fury Road won me over with its awesome, mostly female characters and its fire guitar, to the point that I think I need to see it again.

August 2017

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