Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

July 3, 2014

Periodic reminder that I yet live

I should be writing. This is my free time and I should be using it productively, because otherwise I won’t feel productive. Because all I managed to get to today was a job interview, a business lunch, a school presentation by six year old kids on ecological conservation, a stack of tax forms, a month’s worth of tax reconciliations and two loads of washing.

I don’t know if I’m doing this “time away from the workforce” thing right.

Speaking of which, a status update if anyone wants it – I’ve started properly looking for work now. Nothing so far. But quite a few more employment consultants (aka job pimps) now know my name. They all seem nice.

Anyway, I also managed to sock away twenty minutes to scrawl some notes for a short story which I’ll probably start writing in a few minutes, not that I’m warming up to the task. (Thanks for hanging around while I worked through this nonsense).

Here’s some things going on around the interwebs, just so you don’t feel like you’ve completely wasted your time by clicking on a link:

Apex Magazine has a poem by Rose Lemberg that sat just right with me. I don’t know much about poetry but…

Tansy Rayner Roberts is doing a science fictionalised retelling of The Three Musketeers (in Space!)  and it is fabulous. I am currently foreswearing all forms of crowd funding during my hopefully-temporary period of careerlessness, but Musketeer Space is on my to-patronise list when I feel free to spend money again. I heartily recommend this project to everyone – it’s just plain fun, and Tansy’s take on the Dumas classic doesn’t suffer from gratuitous padding in the way that the original paid-by-the-installment serial might have occasionally fallen prey to.

Another podcast that has assumed the loftiest status in my playlist, namely “play it the second it downloads” is the terrific Rachel and Miles Xplain the Xmen. It’s exactly what it sounds like – two highly engaging and cheerfully sarcastic X-fans attempt to clarify nearly fifty years of ridiculously convoluted X-men comics history in small, digestible chunks. All the temporary deaths. All the retroactive continuity. All the fashions (oh, the fashions). All the inexplicable love for Scott Summers and highly explicable love for Katherine Pryde. My favourite bit is their opening schtick where they briefly summarise some character’s ludicrous history, honing in with surgical precision on the exact moment the character jumps the shark 🙂  If you have any love for the X-Men, but like me and probably everyone else you’ve ever met would not have the slightest idea where to begin to understand their freakishly complex back story – or if you just like listening to people enthusing about something they love while still finding positive ways to engage with its most stupid and problematic elements – then I really can’t push you any more forcefully towards this show. But if you need encouragement, they recently interviewed one of my personal comics gods, Greg Rucka, about his current series about the young version of Cyclops having space adventures with his absentee father Corsair, who is an intergalactic pirate. COMICS ARE SO GOOD YOU GUYS!

And just while I’m on the subject of podcasts, Welcome to Night Vale just broadcast its two-part second anniversary story (a recording of a live show with a small army of guests stars, so slightly off-format from the usual). It’s really good, is all I wanted to say. I still love it to bits. I don’t really drink liquor, but if anyone wants to get me one of these “If You See Something, Say Nothing and Drink to Forget” hip flasks, know that I will love it and you unconditionally. (Don’t though – shipping is probably a killer).

And now I think I’ll go to bed, because my to-be-read pile is teetering on the brink of instability, and that’s before I even think about the fifty-odd unread titles on my kindle.

Next time, I promise to write something that’s actually about something.


October 20, 2013

TMoRP Day 4 – Welcome to Night Vale Podcast

Welcome to Night Vale is a bi-weekly podcast by Commonplace Books. It is presented as a radio program from small town America in the middle of a desert somewhere. If you remember the “Chris in the Morning” radio program from Northern Exposure, or Minnie Driver’s show in the deeply wonderful Gross Pointe Blank, it’s a bit like that – folksy, easy listening community news and chat.

It’s also flat-out some of the best surrealist comedy you’ll find anywhere. Because the eponymous Night Vale is crawling with absurd horrors – mysterious hooded figures, sacrificial altars, sinister and anonymous government agencies, angels, a dog park nobody may enter, look upon or know about, and a mayoral candidate who is literally a five-headed dragon. Presented with a completely straight face (so to speak) by the warm and thoughtful narrator, Cecil Baldwin, who would use the same intonation to describe an interdimensional incursion by bloodthirsty monsters as he would to outline the changes to parking regulations outside City Hall, Welcome to Night Vale is never afraid to take a crazy premise and run with it all the way.

A typical episode presents a bizarre, horrifying event descending upon Night Vale (or crawling up from its deeply unsettling past), escalating into chaos, destruction and usually mass casualties, and then more or less dying down again. Impressively, the show doesn’t discard the insanity of past episodes, but builds on it to create a consistent (if not especially plausible) continuity that rewards long-time listeners.

Look, I can’t really do credit to Welcome To Night Vale. It’s dark and unnerving, but once in a while it’s also genuinely moving and thoughtful. There’s a touching love story woven through the episodes. It’s almost always funny – I love the deadpan references to household blood stone circles, the way that local law enforcement is always referred to as “the Sheriff’s Secret Police” and the nightmarish reality of municipal buildings in Night Vale.

It encompasses comedy, existential horror and the banal brutality of unchecked authority, all against the backdrop of small town America. It’s wonderful, and I’m going to go and listen to the latest episode right now. (And I might also queue up Grosse Point Blank to watch sometime, because damn I love that movie).

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