01:16 pm: 'An empty place'll always get dirt from somewhere'
Handful_ofdust having mentioned M.R. James and A Podcast to the Curious, I listened to a couple. The podcast for 'A Disappearance and an Appearance' reminded me that there is a ghost story, 'Christmas Reunion,' which is directly inspired by an idea tossed out by James in an essay. So I had to go look up the author of 'Christmas Reunion,' which turned out to be one Sir Andrew Caldecott, a former colonial civil servant. His collection, Not Exactly Ghosts is up in part on Google Books, and thus I was able to read 'A Room In a Rectory,' in which young Rev. Nigel Tylethorpe, newly-appointed to the Rectorate of Tilchington, will open up that room that's been disused since one of his predecessors died suddenly while practicing Satanic rites, and has it renovated as his new study....
It's the type of story where there is a possible non-supernatural explanation for everything -- which doesn't make the demons not-real, it makes them the classic type of demons that have no power over the physical world, but work entirely by tempting humans. I like that the effect of the room on Rev. Tylethorpe is not to turn him to the practice of black magic, but to make him into a fire-and-brimstone type (in a humorous aside, his new style of sermon briefly lures the local Evangelicals away from their own preacher, who rants that he always preached an honest Protestant devil and that these fallen angels are crypto-Papist imposters), utterly paranoid that he's done... something to damn himself, even if he's not quite sure what.
The other stories readable on Google Books are 'Branch Line to Beneston,' and 'Sonata In D Minor,' either of which might be considered dark SF as much as supernatural fiction. Not Exactly Ghosts is an accurate title.
05:15 pm: The Moon Is Slice!
For a couple of years, I've occasionally noticed a small piece of graffiti on a bus stop near my building that reads THE MOON IS SLICE! I've seen the phrase a couple of times in other places on the transit system, and always meant to look it up, but only just now did I get around to it.
As I half-expected, it's to do with a local band -- the only use of the phrase that turned up was as the title of a self-published album by a band called The Diamond Teeth. They're kind of a party/noise-rock garage band, not without charm. I'm not sure if they're still playing; I couldn't find anything else about them except their Myspace page; but I downloaded their song "The Moon Is the Coolest Planet On Earth."
10:50 pm: Actual Movie Review
Posted a few days ago on Facebook about seeing the Asylum's Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, and how, for a direct-to-video quickie made to cash in on the theatrical release of Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, it was actually pretty good. I've mulled it over for a bit, and find I want to write it up in more detail. Note that there are some spoilers.
First off -- this *is* a low-budget quickie. They managed to make a not-bad-looking production by a lot of location-shooting at historic sites, but the zombie hordes in untucked shirts and trousers (men) and untucked shirts and ankle-length but obviously modern skirts (women) break the spell. Except for Mary Todd Lincoln (Debra Crittenden), the only female characters are a couple of plucky prostitutes, one of whom (Baby Norman) is Lincoln's lost love, fallen on hard times. She's played as a true 19th-century heroine forced into a lousy life by society's prejudices, and she gets a slightly more believable costume than her daughter, who wears what looks like a repurposed modern prom dress/bridesmaid's gown, but lots of bigger-budget movies have costume designers (or more likely producers) who insist prostitutes were exempt from the fashion rules of their own era in order to put them in something modern audiences will perceive as sexy, so I can't really hold that against this film.
ALvsZ works as well as it does, because while the script does contain a tiny bit of humour (this is the kind of story where half the supporting characters are Someone Famous In Disguise/Before They Were Famous), it never makes fun of the central premise, which is that a terrible plague will spread and wipe out all North America if a handful of Unionists and Confederates can't put aside their differences and nip it in the bud. Some of the cast are more talented than others, but all of them are on board with playing it seriously, and fortunately Bill Oberst Jr. (Lincoln) is very talented. His Lincoln is strictly according to the iconography, but he's heroic and sympathetic; as far as Oberst is concerned, this might as well be a mainstream historical drama about the U.S. president coping with a crisis situation while struggling with his personal feelings. Even when he and Mr. Brown (Jason Hughley), a freed slave and one of his Secret Service, zipline away from an exploding fortress.
The other pillar of the movie is Jason Vail as Booth (yep, he shows up too), because zombie movies need at least one human villain -- you can fear shambling mindless corpses that want to rend your flesh and turn you into one of them, but you can't really get mad at them, because they're automatons. Booth is a preening villain, a secret agent fueled by fanaticism but constrained by his own ego + his acting background: he can't resist dropping hints as to his real identity, and at one point he sneaks up on Lincoln at prayer and refrains from shooting him basically because he's played in Hamlet. He survives the zombie crisis only because history says he didn't die at that time, and because the movie needs him for its tragic but satisfying final twist.
07:36 pm: Trouser Update
I took them in and that made them too small, so I had to let them out a bit. But I think they are proper little-bear-porridge now, so I just have to get Andrew to try them on one more time so I can hem them.
I'm grateful to Susie Bubble for always digging up such interesting clothes to blog about. Here are some dresses made from photos of different textured objects, blown up and printed on fabric, which is then sewn into simple T-shirt-like shapes.
02:24 pm: Actual Writing News
So, yesterday I finished reworking and polishing Nine, and sent it to Innsmouth Free Press with a caveat that it’s Weird, but not Lovecraftian per se (their guidelines page says they take both).
I think they pay one cent a word, which adjusted for inflation is much less than what Weird Tales paid its writers during the Depression. Oh well.
09:12 am: Sewing Update
I had Andrew try on the trousers last night, but it appears men’s patterns, too, are afflicted by Sewing Ease. See, I’m used to the vintage patterns, where if the envelope says a dress is for a 32” bust, the finished garment has a 32” bust (maybe a 32 ½”, so you gan get it on). The seam allowances are a good 5/8”, so if you need to make adjustments, that’s your wiggle room. If you’re between two sizes, you use the smaller one and let the seams out. Makes sense, right?
So, modern (post-1980s) sewing patterns only have a ¼” seam allowance, and 3-4” of “design ease” built in the pattern as a whole, i.e., the garment is a couple of sizes bigger than what it claims to be, and that’s where you’re supposed to make your adjustments. Except they don’t tell you this on the back of the envelope. I’d heard a lot of rants about this in sewing forums, and I should have risked making an L instead of an XL for Andrew. Now I have to figure out how to take 4” off the waistband.
It's particularly interesting because the writer did a hell of a lot of period research (there are notes at the end of each chapter), and in order to match it with the cannon version of Steve (i.e., small, skinny, but masculine in presentation) has to lampshade that fact that he doesn't totally fit into the gay subculture of the time either, since it seldom broke away from the butch/nellie paradigm.
Also, Steve ekes out a living drawing Tijuana bibles, though he gets to do a real comic book for a while, which features some oddly familiar heroes.....
I suspect the author also read (or maybe wrote) the "Things That Would *Not* Shock Steve Rogers" article from a few months ago -- the narrative points out early on that Steve and Bucky have grown up in the tenements of Brooklyn where there are usually at least half-a-dozen people to each tiny apartment -- they've both seen pretty much every aspect of human biology by the age of fifteen.