Monday, August 29, 2011

Jim Gordon 4VR!

I'm going to say this while holding up a riot shield for protection: I did not like The Dark Knight.

Let me wipe the rotten tomatoes off my face before I continue.

The Dark Knight was full of exciting action and cool props. But most of the characters fell flat for me. The Joker in particular felt like a waste; he existed to simply shake things up on-screen, and there was no attempt to create a unified persona for this strange and iconic character. (Which in some ways was cool. He was essentially all chaos, all the time. But that was *all* he was.) Also, I just have to point out: that tongue-spasm-licking thing is SO over. David Tennant totally killed it in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Batman/Bruce Wayne and the minor characters Lucius Fox and Alfred Best all suffered from Boringly Perfect Character Syndrome. They're never wrong. They're brilliant at everything they try. And as far as I can tell, none of them has a sense of humor. Christian Bale's Batman is icy cold and blandly good looking; I almost miss George Clooney's endless mugging. (Of course, who I really miss is Michael Keaton, who could take Batman's heroism seriously while gently mocking Wayne's role as a millionaire playboy.)

I might have mimicked my husband, who fell asleep during the film, if not for one character: Jim Gordon.

Every moment he was on screen, I believed in him. Gordon's struggle to balance his faith in Batman and his bitter fight to keep a crooked police department in line felt heartfelt. His actions were believable, his choices grounded. The character created in the Christopher Nolan re-launch of this franchise has many of the rich nuances of the character built in Frank Miller's Batman Year One. If you want to build a complex character within the framework of a simple action story, look to Jim Gordon.

This is just an off-the-cuff response to a movie that I wanted to like very much. I'm hoping to flesh out my Jim Gordon luv after another viewing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Road to Hell

The highlight of our trip to Reno was a hike through hell--Bumpass Hell. The hike down into this remarkable region of mud pots and fumeroles was intense, with large portions of the trail buried beneath packed snow & slush. All three miles stank, because the hidden hot springs lurked just out of sight, sending up blasts of fragrant sulfur. The actual "hell" (which is the crater of a collapsed ancient volcanic giant) was so overpoweringly foul-smelling I finally understood the origins of the Bog of Eternal Stench.

But it was awesome!

The ground was baked dry and crusted with yellow and white mineral salts. Steamed poured from tiny cracks in the ground, spilling around rocks and carving out mouths opening into the super-heated depths.

Larger cracks, like this massive fumerole called Big Boiler (the hottest in the world!), send up huge clouds of steam and can be heard rumbling a good quarter of a mile away.

I'm sure I'll have more photos and Reno stories tomorrow, but this place was so cool I had to share it first. (Jee, it only took me three days. But it took that long to find the camera cord!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Feeling convivial!

WorldCon approaches!

Really, that's all I got this week. There's other stuff I want to tell you, like how much I can't wait for you all to see the October issue of Fantasy (tentacles! monsters! best use of a tiny detail ever!), but obviously I can't give too much away.

So on those happy notes, I leave you with the recipe for The Best Pumpkin Muffins. This is the only muffin recipe I ever follow (honestly, I usually just make up muffins as I go), because they turn out so incredibly delicious. The texture is just phenomenal. Today's batch turned out a little bit too sticky (they welded their little orange bottoms to the wrapper), but that was entirely because I ran out of cooking oil in the middle of the process. Doh.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Delightful week...

I've had a great time reading slush this week. Sometimes you get nice stories to read, and that just puts a smile on my face.

But of course the real excitement comes from the land of the living. Next week is our big trip to Reno! And that means packing lists. Oh, swoon! Honestly, half the joy of the trip is making up my packing list.

Needless to say, this blog post by Gail Carriger really spoke to me!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Rounding up the scraps

[Note: I added this picture after I wrote the first paragraph, but I have to say, it represents a certain kind of excellent day. Like if I was a flesh-eating fiend in the nation's capital today, I'm sure I'd be just as cheerful as I was when this picture was taken.]

I gotta say, I was having a good day before I read the news. Anybody else as certain for the demise of the American way as me? It's like we've hit the iceberg and the shoddily crafted rivets are starting to pop down in hold. And they said she was unsinkable!

Anyway, we'll leave the doom and gloom for the papers. Here in the Opera Buffo world, we are enjoying the enjoyable things in life. Like solipsisms! (Insert wryly grinning emoticon here.)

Last week was actually brilliant. I took the family to see my fellow zombie-loving-hating pal, Tony Faville, read at Powell's. Since those wonderful booksellers were hosting a costume contest, I rope the kid into dressing up as a zombie--our first! I'm usually on the zombie slaying side of the equation, but I have to admit, staggering around undead was highly enjoyable. The Kid won the contest (we were the only two zombies, but she easily beat me with her distinct creepiness). Of course: there's nothing more frightening than a child zombie!

Here's a pic:

So cute and yet so creepy!

Of course the pants-wettingly good part of the week was the wonderful news that the story I co-wrote with my brother Jak has been sold to a really cool anthology! Getting to be part of another John Joseph Adams antho is kind of mind-boggling. And since this is a pro-level science fiction sale, this means I am halfway to the Science Fiction Challenge I posed myself a few months ago. So now I only have to sell half of a story someplace great. I also only need to sell half a story to qualify as an Active member of SFWA. I'd be even more thrilled, except that I have the hunch selling half a story is even more difficult than selling a whole one, which is pretty damn hard.

How hard is it to make a pro short story sale? Well, according to Duotrope, the acceptance rate at a magazine like Fantasy Magazine is right around 0.5%. And for the super-exclusive Asimov's, Duotrope reports a 0.09% acceptance rate!

(There is no rating for acceptances of half stories. I'll have to do some research on that one.)