I had a great Christmas with the family! We did the big dinner and presents on Christmas Eve (I got a Tofu Xpress!!), then a low-key Christmas Day with just my mom and John. I made cinnamon rolls and Gardein sausage for breakfast and then we took a few walks in the nice weather, relaxed, and gobbled up leftovers for dinner which was fine by me. I’m exhausted after a week of partying with John’s family (not one, but two pallet-based bonfires in the back yard!), a trip to Busch Gardens for their Christmas Extravaganza, and everything else. Also, John got me the Blu-Ray of Re-Animator which I’m too excited about. Deleted scenes! Jeffrey Combs’ winsome faun-like face in high definition!
But! Christmas was also awesome for other reasons: A Pretty Mouth now has a brand-new Kindle edition that’s for sale on Amazon for the low, low price of $6.95. I’m really excited, as folks have been asking and asking about an ebook, and now there is one for purchase! Indeed, several friends were kind enough to let me know they bought it last night, so a big thank-you to those people. You know who you are!
AND … omg so yeah, just look at this:
HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS. Just behold the awesome that is “Herbert West in Love,” (the illustration) by Miko. Apparently my Blu-Ray was some sort of trumpeting angel of amazing Re-Animator stuff. Re-Animatormas. I couldn’t be happier—indeed, as I had no idea my story would be illustrated, I am doubly happy. The skull in the lamplight! The crotch bulge! The lace-up club shirt! Oh, Herbert.
Oh, and duh, I should mention that this illustration means “Herbert West in Love” is now available for your reading pleasure over at The Lovecraft eZine. People seem to be enjoying it so far, which is exciting! Thanks to Mike Davis for selecting it for the 20th issue. You can read it for free, which rules! And/or you could wait for the Kindle/Nook edition in a few days and support the eZine which would be awesome of you, as just look at the work they’re doing. It’s awesome. I also hear there will be a podcast edition of the eZine, including “Herbert,” which I plan on downloading and listening to on the plane when I fly back to Colorado. This marks my very first audio edition of anything I’ve published, which is … anyways, yeah, I’m a little emotional. I love this story—it’s about Herbert West kissing boys, of course it’s a favored child—so the fact it’s receiving the deluxe treatment is pretty goddamn awesome.
SO! Merry fucking Christmas to me, me me me me me. But so as not to be totally selfish, here’s something for you, dear readers: A Re-Animatormas cocktail. Top shelf shit, this. Sweet, herbal, nutty, citrusy, and boozy enough to lower your inhibitions when it comes to reaching out and inappropriately touching that special dead someone . It’s a Christmas miracle!
2 oz Armagnac
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 tsp Disaronno
Pour all ingredients into a mixing pitcher. Stir vigorously with lots of ice until cold, then strain into a small snifter. Float a lemon wheel on top. Inhale. Sip.
I have to blog (read here: brag) on this fine sunny Monday, because I just saw this review of “The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins” (my novelette which is extremely available for purchase in both Historical Lovecraft and the brand-spankin-new The Book of Cthulhu) by none other than the magnificent and mighty Caitlín R. Kiernan:
“Last night. . . I read another story from The Book of Cthulhu, Molly’s Tanzer’s “The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins.” And wow, this one’s a keeper. I’d never encountered this author before, but … imagine H. P. Lovecraft refracted through the lenses of Lemony Snicket, Edward Gorey, and any number of Victorian authors, and you get this wonderful and delightfully perverse short story. Brava, Ms. Tanzer … “The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins” is very, very good, and I’ll be keeping my eye open for additional work by that author.”
Holy shit? Holy shit! I loved Lemony Snicket’s series, read the whole thing from A Bad Beginning to The End, and, well, it’s not for a want of affection for Mr. Gorey’s work that I have a tattoo on my wrist of Beelphazoar from The Disrespectful Summons. It’s hard for me to imagine more lovely comparisons.
Many, many thanks, Caitlín! And thanks again to Ross Lockhart for reprinting “Infernal History” in The Book of Cthulhu, and to Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles for allowing my story to make Historical Lovecraft an infinitely less classy project. The Twins remain my favorite creations to date, and seeing they’re giving pleasure to others is a wonderful feeling.
Jesse linked me to this review of Running with the Pack, from prolific and awesome reviewer Nancy (AKA temporaryworlds on LJ) in which. . . OK, you know what? This is my first sale and my first review and so I’m going to selfishly pull out the pertinent quote and just put it up in all its glory:
“In Sheep’s Clothing” is a sci-fi/dystopian short story about the downfall of our society, and what happens after that. Reading this story reminded me a lot of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. The werewolf aspect is not obvious at first, but it’s done quite well. Tanzer has created a fantastic voice in “In Sheep’s Clothing,” and the twist at the end is really well done. If you’re going to only read one story in this collection, read this one. I think it’s my favorite. Five stars.
Tag this under “totally thrilled” because. . . well, OK. I mean, you read it.
Nancy reviews each and every story in the anthology and gives it an overall ranking of four and a half stars (which means, according to her system, “very enjoyable book. Any flaws were minimal and did not diminish enjoyment). I have to say, from what I’ve read so far, I have to agree. In particular, I have to say that Jeffrey Ford’s “The Beautiful Gelreesh” and Jesse Bullington’s “Blamed for Trying to Live” are worth the cover price alone.
I’ve been holding back on talking about RwtP until I finished the anthology, but I had to jump the gun as a result of this review and thus am certainly neglecting some worthy stories. But, uh, I couldn’t resist.
Tomorrow the all-new Films of High Adventure will go up (I am having PTSD just writing the entry for this one), but for today, mellow out with Rainy Mood. Seriously, do yourself a favor. As a mood-lift or a writing aid, it’s amazing!
Personally, I’m enjoying the combo I’m rocking right now: rain + Aufs Lautenwerck, an album of Bach’s lute and harpsichord music. I’ve heard, via J.T. Glover, that the Goldberg Variations are also awesome.
OK, yeah. My husband is awesome. He just read a book and posted a reveiw of it on GoodReads, and I laughed and wanted to re-post it. Full disclosure: I have not read this book. Further disclosure: had I read it, I have no idea if I would agree with these sentiments. I just liked it, and wanted to share. So there.
Excession, by Iain M. Banks: A review by John
God damn do I love a good space opera! My hat is off to Iain M. Banks for the Culture series. I read my first Culture novel a while back when my good buddy Jesse gave me Consider Phlebas (the first novel in the Culture series) and I read it and it was good. But this book, the fourth in the series (I think), is just incredible. It’s one of those books with a million characters that you can’t keep track of doing a hundred things that don’t have any real impact on the actual plot but is just awesome because it is in outer space and involves sentient fucking spaceships battling tentacled monsters in hyperspace. Or something like that. I honestly couldn’t keep track of it all but loved it anyway because Banks writes the kind of sci-fi in which everything is possible. Everything. Sentient spaceships with cool names like “The Steely Glint”? Check. Being able to change your biological sex, grow wings, live forever? Check. A talking bird? Check. Growing a sample of your own skin in a vat and then sending that skin to a tailor so that tailor can make a stylish suit for you to wear? Check.
Actual plot? I’m not really sure. There were the tentacled things, called– seriously– the Affront, and there were the sentient spaceships, and there were some normal people for some reason that I think involved a baby. And there was the Excession, of course. What is an Excession, you ask? It’s something that’s excessive. In what way? I have no idea. It pretty much just sits around in space for the whole novel.
Do you love space opera? Do you think the only thing missing from Dune was more weird shit that didn’t make any sense? Then you should read this book, and the Culture series in general. Just look at the god-damned cover: a space ship that looks like a big gun floating around a dark sphere with binary code faintly playing across the background. I can hear the space Valkyries singing.
I’ve been quiet over here due to my recent concentration on personal projects (though watch for tomorrow’s Films of High Adventure installment, we’re reviewing Red Sonja!), but just for yuks, I’m posting this Daily Show clip.
I don’t usually watch the Daily Show, and I admit to being less amused than I used to be by Mr. Stewart’s zany mugging, but this. . . oh my. Perhaps it’s just that (like everyone else) I am occasionally spammed with dreadful, insane conservative propaganda “fair and balanced” email forwards which reek of the sort of paranoid hand-wringing Fox News’s “reporting” tends to inspire in certain segments of the American population espouse views different than my own, but this really made me smile.
Jesse Bullington and I have (perhaps foolishly) decided to embark upon a quest: watching “classic” fantasy (and, for today, “science fiction”) movies that informed one or both of our childhoods. We’ll be posting one every Friday. . . at least, that’s the goal.
The Film:Barbarella (1968)
Also known as: Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy
WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS??? Jean-Claude Forest source comic strips, script by committee but notably Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove), directed by Roger Vadim (…And God Created Woman), swinging soundtrack by Michel Magne, “acting” by Jane Fonda, John Philip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Milo O’Shea, and Marcel Marceau
Quote: “I’ll do things to you that are beyond all known philosophies! Wait until I get my devices!”
Alternate quote: “De-crucify the angel or I’ll melt your face.”
First viewing by Molly: As an impressionable late-teenager
First viewing by Jesse: A few years ago?
Most recent viewing by both: Last week.
Impact on Molly’s (late) childhood development: Astronomical. My friend Daniel Blair showed this to me during my first semester of college and it blew my fucking mind. I had never seen such a vibrantly campy, unabashedly sexy film. The film (in conjunction with said Mr. Blair’s vigilant tutelage) launched several of my more unwholesome obsessions, like vintage erotica, corsetry, and costumes as elaborate as they are raunchy.
Impact on Jesse’s childhood development: Negligible. Aware it existed, not much else. If only…
Random youtube clip that hasn’t been taken down for copyright infringement:
Molly’s thoughts prior to re-watching: I have watched Barbarella every few years since my first viewing, including showing it to many uninitiated folks. When Jesse and I started toying with the idea of this project, I had a hard time immediately coming up with influential fantasy films I saw as a kid, mainly because I never really watched that many fantasy movies, barring a late-high school anime craze. I saw Legend (which we’re definitely doing for this), The Neverending Story, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, as well as some animated bizarro-fests like The Maxx and The Last Unicorn and The Secret of NIMH. I also sawa few other things that appealed to my nascent sensibilities (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, omfg), but it was college before I really started discovering what made me tick in terms of stuff I’d seek out, if that makes sense. Barbarella was the first film that I knew we really had to do, for my part, just because, well, when I think of things that really made a younger me sit up, prick-eared and bushy-tailed, Durand Durand and his Excessive Machine immediately jumped to mind. This viewing promised something new for me, as well, as I’d just recently discarded my beloved VHS copy for a widescreen DVD.
Jesse’s thoughts prior to re-watching: Molly expressed incredulity at my never having seen Barbarella at some point in our friendship and so a screening was arranged with her husband John and my wife Raechel. Previously the extent of my familiarity consisted of a scene I had caught on television where Barbarella is menaced by parakeets:
And that was it. I anticipated something along the lines of Flash Gordon but Barbarellawas actually a high-booted step closer to Flesh Gordon only, you know, watchable. I remember enjoying the film more than I expected when the four of us screened it but John is something of a savant in the ways of mixology and so the pan galactic gargleblasters (or maybe they were Long Island iced teas) he was administering may have helped. Going into the re-watch with Molly I was sober as a parson and thus afraid, very afraid.
Molly’s thoughts post-viewing: I still love this film, every minute of it, even the overly-long psychedelic space/mathmos/dream chamber scenes. Also, widescreen makes a ton of difference! I mean, it always does, but damn! So awesome. Watching it is seriously like hanging out with an old friend, re-telling stories you’ve both heard a million times but they’re still hilarious. Even though I know it’s coming, when the wicked twins put Barbarella on the ice-toboggan and she says “But I haven’t skied in ages!” I laugh every time. The scene where the Catchman takes off his furs to reveal what must be the inspiration for Austen Powers’ chest-mane, still so good. The very “explanations” of things are amazing (the plummeting spaceship telling Barbarella “I’ve been repaired in reverse!” What? When Professor Ping shows Barbarella some mustached man with a hole in his chest, he just says “That is one of the Grand Grotesques—that’s the classic way of ending life in the Labyrinth.” Okay?). And the costumes! Oh, the costumes! And then there’s the whole subplot of How Pygar Got His Groove Back, which is outstanding, especially the scene of Jane Fonda in his nest, post-scromp, just covered in feathers.
I think the brilliance of the film is its camp—sure, the special effects are dated, but when you watch it, the utter lack of CGI gives it this amazing quality of “holy shit, they made all these props/set pieces by hand, with love.” The sinister Excessive Machine, the Catchman’s Ice-Wind-Craft (or whatever), the cityscapes of SoGo. . . glorious. And, unlike The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which, if memory serves, kind of slows down in its third act, Barbarella just keeps going, building upon itself, until it’s just hitting you in the face with awesome: Barbarella encounters larésistance only to find it woefully understaffed and headed by a sex-obsessed weirdo named (seriously) Dildano! Barbarella escapes only to be captured by Durand Durand who puts her in The Excessive Machine, which breaks because it simply can’t keep up with Barbarella’s ability to take pleasure! Barbarella is put into the Tyrant of SoGo’s dream-chamber only to release the concentrated evil of the Mathmos! Barbarella is protected from the Mathmos because of her innocence! Which looks like a bubble! Pygar rescues Barbarella and the Tyrant, and when Barbarella asks why he saved the Tyrant, he just answers “an angel has no memory.” And that’s the end of the film! Fucking shit! Yes! What?
Not to make too much of this terrible fucking movie, but really, as problematic of a cosmic-space-bimbo as the titular character truly is, there was, for younger me, something very liberating about her attitude to sex. I’d not really seen anything like it. She is active and enthusiastic about it, aggressively soliciting sex from males by the middle/end of the film. She’s not just an object of desire for the intended viewership (though the visual thrill of Jane Fonda in skimpy costumes is not to be denied, esp. as you see her nipples)—she turns the tables by demanding consideration as a subject. Sort of. At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Jesse’s thoughts post-viewing: Whooooooooa. Barbarella psychedela. First off, I’ve gotta say that watching this movie sans inebriating beverages was a big ol’ mistake, because the sober millennial mind just cannot handle the visual overload of this late-sixties film without recoiling. Just. . . Jesus, they were not even fooling around with this. The colors, the colors. . .
Molly’s right about the costumes, and definitely right about the camp. In contrasting it with Flash Gordon, which shares its lavish sets, costumes, and overall look, I think the main things missing here are Brian Blessed and Timothy Dalton, and a soundtrack by Queen. If the two films could be fused into one I think you’d have a serious contender on your hands but alone Barbarella, like Flash Gordon, falls short of perfection; perhaps it was not seen quite early enough in my life for me to really love it. It’s fun, definitely, and has some stunningly ridiculous sequences, but overall never becomes more than vintage eye candy—which is of course just fine when all one wants is something sweet and colorful.
A note for anyone calling shenanigans on Barbarella qualifying as fantasy—you’re right, it isn’t. But if we didn’t also do science fiction than Molly would never let me pick Krull, as she insists it’s sci-fi and not fantasy (Molly says: It is!!). She’s wrong, of course (bullshit!), but we’ll get to that in due time. Oh, and apparently his name is Durand-Durand, but tell that to the architects of “Hungry Like the Wolf.”
Some quick Barbarella highlights: killer dolls, killer kids, Barbarella smoking a dude out of a hookah (!?), candy coated decadence, playful debauchery, wanton wantonness, mutants, freaks, pervs, angels, and, of course, Jane Fonda’s skunk tail.
molly says: i totally had this image as a poster over my bed all during college
Final Verdict: A film so awesome it doesn’t matter that the actual plot makes no sense whatsoever.
I’m seriously closing in on the end of The Book. Like, less than five chapters away, probably more like three and a half, and I’ll have a draft. Seriously, omfg.
But! I’ll be taking some breaks over the next few days, tomorrow to post the next installment of Films of High Adventure, which will be on Barbarella, Queen of the Universe (yes!), and Monday, my review of Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy.
I haven’t said a lot about the content of my in-the-works novel here, mostly because I am insane and superstitious, but in celebration of that just-in-sight finish line, I’m posting three songs that have really gotten me through the tough spots in the writing. But with no explanation of why, of course. Enjoy!
Belly’s “Slow Dog,” for the ultimate in 90s song-writing technology:
Lizzie West’s “Chariot’s Rise,” with incredibly distressing footage from the Harry Potter movies featuring Ron and Hermione, but it was the only version I could find with the sound enabled:
Susumu Hirasawa’s “Forces,” from the Berserk soundtrack: