truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Sidneyia inexpectans)
Underfoot Cat and I have conversations in the early morning. Catzilla and I have conversations at night, which generally go something like this:

ME: [reading in bed]
CATZILLA: [materializing out of freaking nowhere] Kitty is adorable.
CATZILLA: Kitty is adorable.
ME: Kitty is walking on my book.
CATZILLA: Kitty is adorable.
ME: Kitty is walking on my hair.
CATZILLA: Kitty is adorable.
ME: Kitty is standing in my light.
CATZILLA. Kitty is adorable.
ME: Oh god, no. Not the tail-across-the face trick.
CATZILLA: Kitty. Is. Adorable.
ME: [through Catzilla's magnificent plumy tail, draped elegantly across my face] Mmmmhnmph.
CATZILLA: Admit it. Kitty is adorable.
ME: Yes, okay, okay! I give! Kitty is adorable!
CATZILLA: Le chat, c'est moi.
ME: [pets Catzilla]
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: problem)
1st BIPED1: What the fuck?
UNDERFOOT CAT: Is new toy!
1st BIPED: ... that's a mouse.
UNDERFOOT CAT: Is toy! See! [bats at mouse softly, no claws]
1st BIPED: Seriously?
UNDERFOOT CAT: Is awesome toy!
MOUSE: [escapes]
1st BIPED: Where the fuck did it go?
UNDERFOOT CAT: I will find!
1st BIPED: I wish you wouldn't.
2nd BIPED3: [emerging belatedly from the study] Mouse?
1st BIPED: [brightly] Adventures with nature!

INTERLUDE, in which there is much peering under furniture by UNDERFOOT CAT and both 1st & 2nd BIPEDS

2nd BIPED: [from under the piano] JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.
1st BIPED: [dryly] Did you find it?
2nd BIPED: It's on top of the radiator. I thought the cat was just on crack.
UNDERFOOT CAT: Toy! I has finded you!
1st BIPED: [advances with makeshift mouse-capturing device] Cat, you are as much use as a trapdoor in a canoe.
UNDERFOOT CAT: [being dragged away] But! Is toy!
1st BIPED: [captures mouse]
GHOSTS OF RICHIE, BEN, EMMA, & MIRANDA: Biped! No interfering!
2nd BIPED: [gets door]
1st BIPED: [advances to suitable mouse-release point and lifts makeshift lid of makeshift mouse-capturing device] Fuck, I don't have it.
2nd BIPED: [facepalm]

INTERLUDE, in which CATZILLA scoots anxiously through the living room & completely and utterly fails to notice the mouse

UNDERFOOT CAT: Toy is in radiator! Make it come out!
2nd BIPED: [attempting to pry mouse away from the radiator with a dowel] You're a strong little bastard, I'll give you that much.
MOUSE: [escapes]
1st BIPED: It's over here! Gimme the--
UNDERFOOT CAT: Where is toy?
1st BIPED: HA! [captures mouse in makeshift mouse-capturing device]
UNDERFOOT CAT: To-ooy! Where has you gone?
2nd BIPED: [gets door]
1st BIPED: [releases mouse at suitable mouse-release point]
2nd BIPED: This is not how I wanted to spend my Sunday morning.
1st BIPED: At least you're not the mouse.

UNDERFOOT CAT: [peering under bookcase] Toy? Is you under here?
2nd BIPED: Really, cat?
GHOSTS OF RICHIE, BEN, & MIRANDA: This is very embarrassing.
GHOST OF EMMA: Oh my god I can't even.
1st BIPED: I no longer wonder why he was found up a tree.
CATZILLA: ... Is something going on?

1Played by my lovely husband, [ profile] mirrorthaw
2a.k.a. the Orange Creamsicle Dream Cat, the Elder Saucepan, and the First and Second Ninjas
3This would be me.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
ME: Good morning to you, too.
CATZILA: we are perishing of starvation
ME: It's 5:30 in the morning. You have never once in your entire spoiled-rotten little lives been fed at 5:30 in the morning.
UNDERFOOT CAT: I'm sorry, did you not hear me? PERISHING. UTTERLY.
CATZILLA: besides it's lunch-time in Paris
ME: . . . Paris, France?
CATZILLA: le chat est adorable
UNDERFOOT CAT: Q.E.D., dude. Where's our breakfast?
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: nom de plume)
UNDERFOOT CAT: [on the bathroom sink] All right, where is it?
ME: [from the other side of the bathroom] It's not over there.
U.C.: Where the hell did it go?
ME: It's over here.
U.C.: Oh don't be ridiculous. How could it have gotten over there? It was right here.
ME: It's a bug. It has wings.
U.C.: [comes over to check] Wings?
ME: Which means you're not going to be able to catch it from the floor, either.
U.C.: [thoroughly put out] Wings is cheating.
(BUG: [from somewhere above our heads] Ha ha!)
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: problem)
ME: This is not a good time.
CATZILLA: [blankly] what are you talking about? every time is a good time for kitty
ME: Really. Not a good time.
CATZILLA: but kitty is adorable
ME: Kitty is in the way.
CATZILLA: kitty is adorable
ME: Kitty is standing on what I'm trying to type.
CATZILLA: kitty is adorable
ME: Did I mention this is not a good time?
CATZILLA: KITTY IS ADORABLE [sits down. pointedly.]
ME: ::sigh:: [pets kitty] . . . Kitty is adorable.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: problem)
CAT B: ::sleeps::
CAT B: ::sleeps::
CAT B: ::cracks one eye::
CAT B: ::goes back to sleep::
CAT A: ... utterly ...
ME: All right, all right, already.
[Cat A and I go downstairs and I put Cat A's food down]
[I leave the room for a minute to make a cup of tea and return]
CAT A: ::rampages merrily overhead::
CAT B: ::gives me a look and goes back to eating Cat A's food::
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
ME: Underfoot Cat, what are you doing?
UNDERFOOT CAT: I'm singin' in the rain, just singin'--
ME: Try again.
U.C.: Um. Your socks were lonely?
ME: My dirty and undoubtedly reeking socks that I just took off my feet after coming back from the barn?
U.C.: Yup! They're awesome!
ME: From the way you're treating them, you'd think I've been walking through the catnip mines.
U.C.: Um. I like horses?
ME: Have you ever seen a horse?
U.C.: . . . Maybe.
[UNDERFOOT CAT rubs his face lovingly against my argyle socks]
ME: You do realize this is not normal, don't you?
U.C.: It's not my fault! I was found up a tree! *
ME: Where all the horses wore argyle socks?
U.C.: It was an awesome tree.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
CATZILLA: [loudly from about five inches away] MROWWL
ME: That's not a very nice thing to do to a person trying to do balasana.
CATZILLA: Y'know, I really think you're over-thinking this whole stretching thing. It just goes like this [stretches forward] [stretches aft] and then you're done, see?
ME: Screw you, you smug asshole.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
ME: Underfoot Cat, what have you done with my glasses?
UNDERFOOT CAT: What makes you think it was me?
ME: Well, there's only the three of us in the house, and it wasn't me and it wasn't Catzilla.
U.C.: How do you know there's only three of us in the house? You could have gremlins! Poltergeists! A secret cat!
ME: No, I couldn't. Besides which, you were sitting beside them on the counter just before they disappeared.
U.C.: That's nothing but circum . . . circumstitial . . .
ME: Circumstantial.
U.C.: I knew that. Circumstantial evidence. Doesn't prove a thing.
ME: And yet, here are my glasses, under the bathtub, and there are you, the only creature in the house who could have knocked them there.
U.C.: Um. I plead the Fifth?
ME: Even if you had Constitutional rights--which you don't--that wouldn't be one of them.
U.C.: All right! All right! I confess! I did it! I did it! I repent!
ME: . . . Your repentance looks an awful lot like rolling around on the floor and picking a fight with the bath mat. And losing.
U.C.: 'S not my fault if interpretive dance is the best of my limited options for communication.
ME: [giving up] Yes, let's both just pretend that's what that was. Try to remember that my glasses are not a toy.
U.C.: You say that about everything. [exits grumbling] It was all the Secret Cat's fault anyway.
ME: [after him] We don't have a secret cat!
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (ws: hamlet)
ME: Underfoot Cat, why are you in the bathtub?
ME: What are you doing?
U.C.: Stuff.
ME: It looks to me like you're chasing your own tail.
U.C.: . . . Maybe.
ME: You realize this is a misappropriation of the bathtub.
U.C.: I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.
ME: That's you purring.
U.C.: Same difference.
ME: I could turn the water on.
U.C.: You wouldn't.
ME: . . . Maybe.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: nom de plume)
[tremendous, drawn-out, and clearly disastrous clattering noise]
Me: Oh my god, cat, what did you do?
Underfoot Cat: [looking innocent, if somewhat alarmed] I have no idea what you're talking about.
[I search the house with great and dour suspicion.]
Me: No, seriously, cat, WHAT DID YOU DO?
Underfoot Cat: This lack of trust wounds me greatly. Just for that, I'm not sayin'.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: problem)
Underfoot Cat: What are you doing?
Me: Taking a shower.
Underfoot Cat: Why?
Me: Personal hygiene.
Underfoot Cat: Wtf? Why don't you just use your tongue?
Me: Because reasons.
Underfoot Cat: ... You're not putting me on, are you?
Me: [getting out] No, really, this is how we--
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: airship)
ETA: Kirkus gives The Goblin Emperor a starred review. Please add exclamation points to taste.

My splendid editor, [ profile] casacorona, has an equally splendid assistant, who today sent me the dust jacket for The Goblin Emperor.

Fig. 1: My lovely assistant Catzilla* will show it to you:


Fig. 2: What do you mean, that isn't what you wanted?


Fig. 3: For somebody we only keep around for your thumbs, you're AWFULLY picky.


Fig. 4: Is THIS better?


Perfect, Catzilla. Thank you.

*No, Catzilla isn't his real name. It's his internet handle.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. [ profile] mia_mcdavid has discovered what it's like when moths get into your unspun wool.

2. An alert reader asked me to tell them that this isn't a Titan Clock. Unfortunately, I can't.

3. Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue could really use some help (scroll down just a little & be prepared for some distressing pictures of neglected cats).

4. In good feline news, the Jellicle Ninja's kidneys are functioning! Still not entirely sure what went wrong, but we are very happy and cautiously starting to taper back her meds.

5. [ profile] matociquala has some fabulous photo references for the horses in her Eternal Sky books.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (ws: castabella)
I apologize for the overly academic subject line, but it kind of did write itself. Y'see, I was recently in New Orleans for a week and a half (day job--trade show--nothing to see here, we are a hedge), which of course meant I had access to cable and occasionally a spare hour or so, when FRIED TO THE BONE after work, to watch it. Which meant, in turn, that I had the opportunity to watch trashy true crime tv shows. Case in point: the Oxygen Channel's Snapped (which specifically labels itself a guilty pleasure in its current opinion poll).

Snapped is kind of the epitome of my aversion/compulsion relationship with "True Crime" (a label which is in itself kind of iffy, as I'll get into below: the hysterical insistence on truth merely emphasizes the inherent falsity/fictionality (and do we think those two words are synonyms or antonyms or exist in some other relationship to each other entirely?) of the whole damn enterprise). I find it deeply, deeply problematic for its penny-dreadful sensationalism, its exploitation of both victims and murderers (and the double exploitation inherent in its chosen focus on women murderers, even though, if the sample I watched was representative, it has a little trouble finding women who actually committed murder themselves, as opposed to being accomplices before or after the fact--and please note that the show is not interested in why women commit murder; it just wants to wallow in the emotionalism of Women! Murderers! It's the Human Interest Story run amok). And then there's the whole thing about "reality TV" and how utterly repellent I find it.

And yet, I sat there for two hours and watched Snapped, and I would have kept watching if I hadn't had to be up at 6 a.m. the next morning.

I've been wondering, in a kind of appalled by my own bad behavior way, what the draw is--why I will stop channel surfing for true crime, even when I know it's morally questionable trash with which I have severe ethical problems--and this morning, as I was driving the hour round-trip to take a urine sample to the vet*, I think I figured it out. Or, at least, part of it.

(Part of it, you see, I already knew, because the character traits that make me a horror writer also make me fascinated by violence and death and, well, penny-dreadful sensationalism. You have to dance with them what brung you.)

The thing that fascinates me about true crime is the chance to see storytelling in its rawest form. Snapped is actually a brilliant source for this, because they do their best to interview both sides, so you get the alleged murderer or the defense attorny or the alleged murderer's family (or some combination thereof) and you get the prosecutors and the cops and/or the victim's family. Snapped doesn't make any effort to decide which story is true (and they're very bad about not giving the whole story, which drives me nuts), but they present both sides. And you can watch the competing stories being constructed.

Sometimes, the alleged murderer isn't articulate enough to put a good story together. Sometimes, you can only see what she's told her family and friends in the reflections she casts. Sometimes you get a smart, articulate, even funny alleged murderer, and she can tell a really compelling story. And then on the other side, you have the cops and the prosecutors, who are telling a story based on the evidence they found (and, in some cases, on the obviously prejudiced opinions they have formed). And on both sides, it's the same thing: here are the facts presented by the crime scene and the documentable behavior of the people involved. How do we explain them?

I love this stuff. I love it even when it's annoying me by how badly it's done or how manipulative the genre is. True Crime is, with rare exceptions, an utterly manipulative genre: the cards are always stacked before you sit down at the table. And that's because it's a forensic genre (to make another pun); if it isn't just sensationalism, à la Snapped, it's the case for the prosecution--as, for example, the essays in The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper--or the case for the defense. You can see the storytelling happening, even in very good true crime, and in bad true crime, you can see the storytelling fall apart.

Someone's Daughter: In Search of Justice for Jane Doe, by Silvia Pettem, is a good/bad example. I bought the book (because it was on sale, used) because it's all about a fifty year old cold case and the use of modern investigative techniques to . . . well, to not quite solve it. Or to maybe solve it. Or something, because that's where Pettem's narrative-building ability fails. What Pettem wants to do is write a story about how her search for the truth about the Jane Doe found in Boulder, Colorado, in April 1954, and never identified, changed her life and the life of the officers who agreed to reopen the case and the people who contacted her wondering if her Jane Doe was their missing cousin/niece/friend and on and on and on, rippling outwards in a beautiful Random Acts of Kindness sort of way. The truth won't go there with her, and she's not dishonest enough to force it, but she's not . . . what's the word I want? brave enough? clear-sighted enough? to let go of her cliché and either write a piece of existentialist despair about the people who go missing in America every year and are never found or write a straight up piece about the investigation of a cold case, how a theory about the victim's identity and the murderer's identity can be constructed, and about how tenable, or tenuous, that theory is. (Or, you know, no need for the false binary, a book that did both would be stone cold awesome.) Pettem, I think, really wanted her search to end with definitive answers, and when it didn't, she didn't quite know what to do with what she had.

ETA: also, as it turns out, her theory about Jane Doe's identity was wrong. The same year Somebody's Daughter came out, Pettem's candidate was discovered living in Australia and Jane Doe was positively identified as Dorothy Gay Howard.

Pettem and I were, unfortunately, fascinated by different aspects of her Jane Doe. I couldn't care less about the wonderful people Pettem met over the internet because of her search; she's not very interested in either the way people fall through the cracks or the forensic/historical grunt work of creating a pattern out of the facts that have randomly survived fifty years of entropy.

But the thing that compels me is still there, even encumbered by somebody else's narrative: Here are the facts. What can we make of them? And that's while I'll watch true crime, mesmerized, even when I'm appalled at myself.

*Tangentially, because I know people worry, the urine sample is from the Jellicle Ninja. She's actually doing extremely well, for a kitty with Mysterious Kidney Problems (she has gained! weight! and is now actually, once again, on the chubby side), and the sample is mostly just to see how that whole urine conentration thing is working out for her.

5 things

Dec. 6th, 2011 08:16 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. The ebook of Somewhere Beneath Those Waves is available from Weightless Books.

2. Apex 31 includes my Booth story, "The Yellow Dressing Gown" (originally published in Weird Tales by the fabulous Ann Vandermeer).

3. Over on the Whatever, John Scalzi is hosting threads for authors to promote their own works as holiday gifts. If you're looking for ideas, I commend the Whatever Shopping Guide 2011 to you.

4. The pictures of these African Sulcata tortoises and their progeny fill me with delight.

5. We are still worried about our Jellicle Ninja. Good thoughts appreciated.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. The Jellicle Ninja is doing much better. Thank you for all your kind wishes!
2. Brit Mandelo has reviewed Somewhere Beneath Those Waves for
3. Apex Magazine will be reprinting "The Yellow Dressing Gown" in their 31st issue.
4. I still like my job as a database thrall.
5. The horse continues to be a good horse. A goofy, exasperating horse, but a good horse nonetheless.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Please think good thoughts for our Jellicle Ninja, who is spending Thanksgiving at the vet's, getting IV fluids because her kidney numbers have gone wonky.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
First! Publishers Weekly gives Somewhere Beneath Those Waves a starred review. (OMG ELEVENTY-ONE!!!1!1!)

ETA: since a couple people asked, and since apparently I am drifting along, lonely as a cloud, without a clue as to the correct answer: YES, this book will have both paper and electronic versions, and the e-book should be available near to the release date for the paper book (which is November 22).

Lukacs, John. The Hitler of History. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.

There's a bit of a rant behind the cut-tag. )

Fountain pen geeks, what do you think about Pelikan inks, particularly the ones available in cartridges? I have been very disappointed in the royal blue, which is a nice enough color but fades horribly--and since I want my inks dark and vivid, this drives me nuts. Should I try any of the others, or should I just give in to my own geekiness and take a bottle of Noodler's Squeteague to live in my desk at work?

A reminder: [ profile] matociquala and I will be reading at Pandemonium Books in Cambridge MA at 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 19. Free and open to the public, so please come out!

And, for a fifth thing and happy Friday, have some lovely pictures of wet fishing cat kittens


truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)

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