Unraveling (In a Good Way)

Here I am, living and breathing through another new spring. The remnants of my winter fog are breaking up & lifting, but trying so hard to remain. For the last few weeks, my anxiety has been persistently trying to remind me of how I felt during the darkest part of the cold season. Remember, remember how it felt like your brain was unraveling. Coming apart at the nape of your neck? What if it is still insecure? What if it comes apart right now?

One night, after a few hours of tossing & turning, I said, Ok, let it. & I made myself imagine my arms & legs & knotted tangled brain come apart like so much frogged crochet rows. Have you ever pulled the end of a piece of yarn on an unfinished piece of crochet? It comes apart easily, as one loop slips from the grasp of another. I pictured an excited cat playing with the thread & I let it chomp down on the end & go running toward some blank horizon.

Nooooooooooo, my anxiety moaned, nooooo, I need lungs to push down & guts to sicken & brains to fill with haze! No, don’t do this! I let my body disappear from my mind’s eye & replied, Sorry, but you said that this might happen, I guess I just can’t control myself. If you don’t mind, I’m gonna go see where that cat went. 

The last of my imagined body unraveled, the color of a pink skein I had used to make a scarf for a friend. & the excited cat, happy to be outside & exploring, ran forever along the shore of a placid sea. I slept well.

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Off the Shelf: Egg Cream #1

Egg CreamEgg Cream by Liz Suburbia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved Sacred Heart when it came out & have been checking Suburbia’s sosh meeds in anticipation of the sequel. Egg Cream breaks the fast with “Livin’ In the Future”, a time skip of 10 years from the original timeline which fills in all the missing details that Sacred Heart concealed. Why were the kids of Alexandria by themselves? What does Ben’s stigmata mean? Who survived the storm? This issue of Egg Cream answers all those questions & gives readers more to consider. I spent a whole day not just reading the new comic but holding both books in my lap, flipping back & forth between the two, comparing faces & illustrations, returning to Alexandria’s weird, familiar streets & Suburbia’s beautiful distinctive art. Support local comics & artists!

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What Is Even Happening?

So, if there’s one thing I love, it’s stories popping up on network TV about being obsessed with a fantasy series.  I’m not even talking about “nerd culture” shows like The Big Bang Theory; I’m talking about characters like AF Gordon Theodore in Party Down & the Skyfire Cycle books in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  When Terry Jeffords has a complete fan freakout describing the books to Jake Peralta, I felt a very real kinship to his excitement.

 

So here’s the thing: I’ve been reading Janny Wurts’s The Wars of Light and Shadow since I was 13 years old & I just finished her tenth book while on vacation a few weeks ago.  I was telling my best friend about being excited about plot points from early in the series finally paying off, as well as some general statements over how the series has changed over the years.  But I’ve never fully summarized the series to her, or really to anyone, because the books are dense & its kind of like trying to describe the entirety of Kingdom Hearts or Homestuck or the X-Men’s backstory.  You can do it, if you have a half hour & a person who really wants to follow you through those twists & turns.

(Which is not to say I don’t recommend it—I just wanna be sure that the person I’m talking to would actually be into it.  Because, y’know, it sucks when people are judgey.)

Over the weekend, after thinking about what I would say if someone would ask me what the series was about, I would ultimately say, “interlocking realities & an individual’s responsibility to deepen their knowledge of the world around them.”  An answer I only came to after making the following list, which tracks all of the nesting plots in a mostly linear fashion.  If you are curious, hit that “Read More” button.  If you have enough epic fantasy or impenetrable fandom in your life, I totally understand.

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Underworld Sabbatical: Scrap 3

Ok, so the last time I posted about my mockumentary Underworld Sabbatical, the post was a timeline that focused on the horror/thriller movies that made Thornton Infernal a star.  Which is sort of an interesting exercise, partially because when I first came up with it, this was a way to visualize a lot of stuff I was reading & also partially because I hate the horror film genre.  Truly, most horror films, for me, are discovering that the violent persistent thoughts I’ve tried to bury for most of my adolescence are out in the world & in other people’s heads.  It’s the opposite of finding comfort in literature—in words that verbalize stuff I’ve felt or tried to put into words for myself.  I don’t take joy from that fact that someone else has imagined sewing up someone’s mouth or pulling teeth the same way I have, especially since I’m female & that’s usually the gender that gets the most shit projected on it in horror movies.

Which is to say, what I do take joy in—what amuses me & comforts me in a lot of ways is spectacle, is soap operas.  Over-the-top melodrama that at its core acknowledges that truth is stranger than fiction but what the hell, we’re just going to parade it all over the place & just dig in honey!  Invite that dysfunction to sit on your porch, tell some crazy stories, & have some sweet tea!  Enter my author avatar in Underworld Sabbatical: Elyssa Corday, the head writer of the soap opera Decatur’s Crossing who has decided to try her hand at writing movies.  The following notes focus on her & how her rising Hollywood star intersected with Thorn’s when his career was, maybe, not so great.  Our cast of characters list is here & all current commentary from me will be in italics.  ***Content Warning: descriptions of a sexual act***
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Underworld Sabbatical: Scrap 2

So, here I am with another couple of notes from my unfinished mash-up satire of B-movies & soap operas: Underworld Sabbatical.  I did mean to update the blog with more posts around Halloween but I have so many old Post-its, memos, & half-written scraps that I had to sit & organize them in some sort of order before I could even put them up.  & It’s surprising how much I did write, considering this was something I was only making up for myself in-between working my full-time office job & going to school.  I kind of envy past me. 

This post is a rough timeline/filmography that I had sketched out.  Current comments are italicized.  If you are just joining us & don’t know what any of this is, you’ll find an explanation here.

The 39 Films of Thornton Infernal & Barker Santiago (incomplete)

The Beginning AKA “mostly crap”

  • obligatory vampire flick (it’s so obvious I didn’t even come up with a plot)
  • Feathertop starring both Thorn & No Tom Bones (an adaptation of Hawthorn’s short story done as period horror, a la AIP’s Poe adaptations)
  • Blood Musical (I loved Andy Dick’s Marilyn Poppins sketch)
  • Circle of Terror
  • As The Candle Burns (really leaning on the obvious soap titles here)

The Period period (menstruation jokes) AKA The Morrigan Period, “Gloom is Love”

  • Blue Willow (a Victorian tale of a depraved decadent couple)
  • Flowers of Evil (an impressionistic movie inspired by the life & poetry of Charles Baudelaire, the rivalry with Van Von Jean starts)
  • something either Arthurian (Mordred & Nimuë) or from the Mabinogion (I had just started reading the Mabinogion at the time, so I hadn’t picked out a tale; still have no idea what.)
  • something with Poe & his fantasies coming to life with Morrigan as gypsy-temptress-muse-raven-goddess (Thorn’s character doesn’t even have to be Poe really, this could actually now be a vehicle for Morrigan as this vague folkloric character & it could cause tension for them either because it’s not a very defined role & she’s pissed or because she is taking the spotlight instead of him.  & at this point in 2018, there have been a couple of badly done Poe-as-Creator movies anyway, so this isn’t the best idea now.  Ooooh, maybe Morrigan could do something about Eliza Poe’s life & living with her husband’s fantastical creations.  2018 me, you’ve done it!  Get 2005 me on the phone!)
  • The Black Irish (a retread of Blue Willow but with some House-of-Usher-ancestral-curse-anxiety going on. Desmond Diehl plays the mad matriarch/patriarch living in the attic)
  • Suger’s Glass (a story about a priest who tries to control his congregation though the theory of light manipulation & how the colored glass affects other’s moods/states of mind) (I had not yet seen Heart of Glass at this point, but it was on my list—can you tell?)

The Alone & Angry Period (when Thorn broke up with Morrigan, met his current wife & Barker went through a divorce)

  • Lilith (an adaptation of the Salamanca novel, with Thorn playing both Vincent & Warren) (perhaps this is where Hazel Asher comes in?)
  • Heretic Lover (this production is where Hazel introduces Thorn to the woman he would marry & have kids with.)
  • Our Lady of Darkness (an adaptation of Lieber’s story) (a lot of these movie ideas are just me daydreaming what certain things I had read would look like.  Also, Barker fancies himself very well-read, moreso than most people he works with; he’s kind of a dick that way.  Meaning I’m kind of a dick that way.)
  • The Heart of Every Nice Girl (a film about a metal rock star with possible ties to Satan; a cautionary tale for the “young people” but is actually Barker’s attempt to make a subversive case FOR heavy metal.  This is the film that cements the loyalty of fans like Dane.)
  • an 80s slasher about a patient who suffers head trauma & whose hands work independently of one another, wreaking terror (y’know because movies like Body Parts & Idle Hands haven’t already done this.)

The Claustrophobic Period (I have a note here that this is when “Jake Norway” started working with Barker Santiago but I have no idea who this is because he’s not in my cast of characters notes & I’ve forgotten who he was supposed to be.  I’m guessing he was some sort of collaborator like a writer, cinematographer, or a producer that helped shape the look of the films, because I have scribbles that say these movies look Edward-Gorey-esque, but I can’t remember anything else.  & yes, my character Hunter Gorey is named after Edward Gorey, so I’m going to type out full names in order to not confuse myself.)

  • Claustrophobia: another flick taking place in an asylum, except it all takes place in the head of a catatonic Thorn, reliving his trauma & reinterpreting what is happening around him as drama. (One of the best movie industry jokes to me was the running plot of “The Three” in the movie Adaptation, which of course got even more hilarious when it was de-fictionalized & made in real life.  This idea is basically me reminding myself how funny I found the whole thing.)
  • Verdant Fall: a loose adaptation of “Rappacini’s Daughter” that borders on a sexploitation film made all the more visually interesting because it most utilizes Edward Gorey’s restrained austere style.  (And if you’ve ever seen an Edward Gorey drawing, you know there is little that could be considered conventionally sexy, unless you have specific fetishes, so what I’m saying is that this pretend-movie would have a huge fetish following.  Also, this one one of my more blatant gestures to the Corman-Price Poe adaptations: Verden Fell (pronounced verdenfell by Price off-camera) is the main character’s name in the mash-up that is named The Tomb of Ligeia.)
  • The House of Seven Gables: a pretty faithful adaptation with Desmond Diehl as the Judge & No Tom Bones as a dissipated relative.
  • The Star Building: a Deep South murder mystery that takes place in an oppressively huge old plantation/manse.  Takes place nearly entirely in one building & members of the production lived in the house while filming.  (Shout-out to my hometown.)
  • Azure Aspect: something with the opera or a ballet company where Thorn is a menacing director holding back an unearthly power.  (Again, a blatant gesture to Blue Aspic, one of my favorite Edward Gorey mini-books.)
  • The Weary Wicked: a meta-piece that focuses on the world-weariness & ennui of evil masterminds at an informal reunion (Seriously I’m just making fun of myself at this point.)

Also, around the time of filming this mockumentary, Thorn & Barker are talking about working again, this time on a project called Murder Ballad which few know the details about, but which singer Dane of Suicide Butterfly will be contributing a cover of “Down In the Willow Garden.”  (Wouldn’t you want to hear a metal band doing crazy extravagant versions of folk tunes?!)

And to close out this timeline, a quote from Thorn about working with Barker.

Soundbite THORN: “Part of the reason why I loved Barker’s films & working on them were that they were great therapy.  When I was in love with Morrigan, I could get out all the emotions I couldn’t tell her.  When I got married, I could take out all my frustrations ‘at work’ on learning to build a life with someone.  And then, when I had kids and had to be a role model, I could go on-set and lose control.”