Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Interesting links: Auditory hallucinations, autopsies and Victorian death rituals


This is an interesting video that simulates the experience of auditory hallucinations. When I've had auditory hallucinations it was quite like this, but usually I can't understand what the voices are saying.

A guide for writing autopsies
I so far don't have a use for that link, but I find this quite interesting.

Morbid Anatomy

Morbid Outlook's article "Funerary Practices in the Victorian Era"

Victorian Funeral Customs and Superstitions 



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Poem: Pussy

Here's one of my poems just in case you were missing out on some crazy cat lady/black widow action.


Pussy

I will have twenty cats and just as many lovers that I’ll keep lined up on a wall,
Not the cats, they don’t stand at attention as urns with ashes do, and pictures in frames
They always found others, but never quite moved on
a bit of them would rather be with me
if only dust in a jar to occasionally stumble over
with marabou trim, pedicure, and a leopard print dressing gown
oh, it’s not that obvious, is it?
No, lust is something more than planning,
they learned; that they like being helpless
tasteless is a flavor all it’s own and can be anything
strawberry, vanilla, handcuffs, secretary,
naughty nurses them back to health,
they find a vitality in the taboo, that I expose and conceal
like a dagger, blood-reddened lips, each kiss a bit of them inside me
falls away with a fluid wrist motion,
nothing is missing, but I’ve taken them
all the pieces are here, waiting in the doorway
I smile at the chance opening before me
As the mailman slides another letter into the brass box

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Medicating the Darkest Darkness

I've been in a foul, but reflective mood the past month or two. I found some medicated clarity and don't like my surroundings. I'm going to figure out how to change that. Right now I'm at a loss beyond making some superficial changes, so join me in listening to some happy music.







Thursday, November 1, 2012

Queer Fish 2 (goodreads giveaway), and Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe.

Another quick update:

Queer Fish 2 is out now. That anthology includes my story "Lost at Sea."

And the publisher is hosting a giveaway.
Enter to win a copy on goodreads!


It's opening night for Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe at Stuart's Opera House in Nelsonville, OH.

Here's an article, and some pictures

Tickets can be purchased here!


Also, NaNoWriMo started today. You can find my NaNo profile here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I declare myself a bit crazy

So...I'm moving to Pennsylvania in early November, but that doesn't explain why I've been scarce in blog world. Let me explain in list form:

Well, I am packing up my current house, trying to sell it, and closing on the new house, and then physically moving. So there is that.

I'm helping with costumes and other projects as needed for the play Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe. On stage November 1st through 4th at Stuart's Opera House in Nelsonville, OH.

I've been interning with Musa: Erato. Follow them on Twitter, it's like following me part of the time. Also there's the Erato blog, and the main Musa blog. We're launching the Pan GLBT YA imprint on the 19th.

My story "Lost At Sea" will be in Queer Fish (Vol. 2) anthology from Pink Narcissus Press due out October 28th.

I'm helping organize a reading at Amethyst & Ivy as part of their Strange Days promotion (You can also shop online if you can't make it to the store).

I'm working on an article for the Columbus Creative Co-Op's Selfless project.

And Columbus Creative Co-Op has their 13 anthology submissions open until November 2nd. Not sure if I'll finish something to send to that, but I'll try.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Electricity, Gardening and Whims

My place didn't lose power as badly as expected. We were only in the dark for a few hours--and it started before the storm even rolled in...which means that it also happened as I was one page away from proofing a story I wrote and halfway through writing the submission cover letter...bah! Other than that I've been busy packing my house up and working on painting the office. I also don't remember when we finished putting the new flooring in the living room, but that room is finished now. I'll probably be ready to list the house for sale at the end of the week.

I've been working on emptying out the garden, too. I canned tomato sauce (3 quarts and 1 pint) and made salsa (7 pints) on Monday. I don't like salsa, but I also don't like wasting food. It apparently turned out good enough, @cielwilson took one jar and it appeared to be edible and smelled like salsa. It's also unfortunate that I'm not a big fan of raw tomatoes either because I picked about two dozen more tonight.

A couple days ago I purchased some boxed sets of books on a whim.I bought The Lord of the Rings set, complete with The Hobbit. I'm sometimes afraid of reading Tolkien for whatever reason, but I will read it now that I own it.
I also bought The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod based pretty much on the cover design alone. It's YA, so probably a quick read, and the cover design is so sleek and fun that I hope it is indicative of the interior contents. I also like vampire stories...most of the time.

So, it just rolled over to midnight and I have my August schedule planned. I'm so much happier when I'm busy...and, since the house-related projects are mostly settled, I can get caught up on editing photos.

Also, I'm involved with another play...
From the ABC Players--AUDITIONS for Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe will be held Saturday and Sunday, August 25 and 26 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Stuart's Opera House. 3 males, 1 female, 8-9 gender independent roles.  Please be familiar with Poe's “The Raven” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and “The Tell Tale Heart

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Genitals and Bad Weather

I was going to do this nicely thought out post about how I've been busy because I got a part-time job. And I'm also preparing to move to Pennsylvania.
Instead I found this on WTF Fanfiction tumblr--
Words Used to Describe Genitals
It's just awful, but I'm a sucker for dirty euphemisms.
My favorites include: glossy rod of muscle and blood, fuck stem, rippling sausage, Throbbing lavender man-fruit thing, cherry splitter, flaccid love truncheon, whispering eye, assular regions, magic toothpaste of love, love spuds...

Oh and also during the time I've been away there was a week without electricity...and poor cell phone service. Apparently, tonight, there's supposed to be a storm much like that one. So, I'm enjoying electricity while I have it. And will be sending out submissions early.
Because the last storm prevented me from doing that altogether.
And my laptop has a bad battery and must be plugged in in order to work. So, that's going to be fun.

On the bright side, though, most of the trees were knocked down in the last storm, so there's far fewer branches to fall on our neighborhood.

...the last storm got my grandmother's car. When the insurance company totaled it out they said it had the nicest interior that they had ever seen in a 20 year-old car.



And I don't have pictures of the rest of the neighborhood, but many other cars were more impressively crushed. That included a truck with the cab completely flattened. I'm sure the people whose porches were smashed by trees, or their roofs ripped apart by the wind are looking forward to tonight's storm. 
My neighbors across the street just got their roofing materials delivered the other day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Columbus Arts Festival Observations Part 1

I've been trying to catch up on sleep (which can be a full-time thing once an insomniac hits the wall of irrational annoyance/anger/frustration/brain no work good...crap), also doing the Insanity work out (Exactly as advertised), working on writing projects (Pinboards: A sunny romance with thieves and Story of an Unknown Title-- not their actual titles) and went to the Columbus Arts Festival over this past weekend. So, I've put together some commentary on things I overheard at the arts festival. This is Part 1:

Hipster girls-
"Oh, these are cute. Makes me want to sew"
"I have a sewing machine."
"Oh really? Does it work?"
"I think so."

They were looking at some very intricate Peruvian cloth projects (I can't find the artist's name in the listing or I would post it). I only remember the Peruvian part because I read the artist's information page at the booth, but still can't remember the name. The textile projects (can't think of a better way to describe them) looked like tiny figures and animals and objects sewn onto these scenes made from fabric. The figures and animals looked like they have a little batting in them so they stand out from the backgrounds like little pillows. It's all brightly colored and festive-looking, but you know, in the wild, it is the brightly colored creatures that will kill you.
So, the two girls are talking about making these things.
I like the idea of competition, even when I'm not really involved in it, so I took a close look at one of the pieces. I didn't see any construction stitches. The dolls all have their little details sewn onto them. It's so folksy, tiny and perfect like a kitten in lederhosen.
As I look at the fabric, I start to believe that I, too, could make such a thing. I've done my time sewing small details onto fabric projects...maybe not details this small, but definitely a tedious amount of sewing by hand.
I begin to imagine my future sewing projects...with their tiny little faces and perfect details that I would likely lose blood over. (I have sewn through my fingers with a sewing machine on a couple occasions, and have also fallen victim to my own hand sewing short-comings--one time, while sewing ivory lace onto a pastel-colored corset...of course. Don't worry, I just put tape on my finger and kept sewing. The corset was fine, and done on time.)
But a strange thing happened as I left that booth of fabric wonders.
I looked back.
And decided that there was no way in hell that I would make one of those things.

There must be Inca magic embroidered into them...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memorial Service, Hop Against Homophobia Winner

The memorial service I went to was pretty intense because I had tried to put aside my emotions to deal with later, and that was apparently the later. The part that got to me the most was the fact that she had been cremated and her jewelry had not. So, in the pitcher of ashes was a watch that I had always seen on my Nana's wrist. That made it real. The presence of her watch made it undeniable that those ashes were once a body, and not something I could explain away as something else.

Other than that, I've been trying to finish a few projects this week, and had a job interview. During my current job hunt, it struck me that something massive has changed about me as a person and I'm not sure what it is. It's good, but interesting. If the current incarnation of me had met the me from about ten years ago, I wouldn't have liked me.

In my giveaway for the Hop Against Homophobia, wulf was the winner. I will get that sent out Friday or Saturday.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hop Against Homophobia: Giveaway, Iran, The Suicide Grove

Hi. Thanks for stopping by. I'm J. Lannan and it may not be the best time to host my first giveaway and be involved in a blog hop when my first m/m romance-type story won't be out until later this year-- I also have a job interview this morning, and will be out of town for a memorial service for a couple days-- but this is the time I have so I might as well use it.

May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and this blog is participating in the Hop Against Homophobia.Click on the picture in order to visit the other blogs involved.





Each blog is doing a giveaway of some sort and here is mine. Since I don't have any extra copies of magazines with my poetry and essays in them I am giving away some random LGBT swag. (Note: I'll probably find something else to add before the hop is over and will add that to the list, or just include it as a surprise)

One Pack of Meiji Hello Panda cookies--they're cute, strawberry-flavored and could be considered snacks that pair well with reading-related activities...
One Rainbow Wristband--I notice a 50% increase in flirting when I wear my rainbow wristband so it must be imbued with magical powers of some kind. (Blog owner not responsible if your wrist band does not have magical powers)
Two Badges--One has a hot dog in a raincoat with "always protect your weenie" printed on it, and the other says "Deal With It" in rainbow lettering

That list almost made me sound orderly...almost. So, in order to be entered to win my giveaway leave a comment on this post and include your e-mail address, or twitter info so I can contact you. When I get back in town on the 21st I'll randomly pick someone and send you a message to get your info.

Here are my two comments on homophobia since the blog hop tackles that issue. The first section discusses Iran's death penalty for homosexuality, and the second is a look at bullying and suicide through imagery I pulled from Dante Alighieri's Inferno. Intermission is exactly as it sounds.

Iran Executes Gay Men 

I've been told that I have a gift for shining a different kind of light upon dark subjects, but as I write this I realize that I have trouble bringing my kind of light to a situation that is so horrific and extends far beyond the harassment, name-calling and rock-throwing that I've personally been on the receiving end of.

In college I majored in History and studied Iran's judicial system. It's a sad and corrupt system that often forces confessions via torture. I've always found myself drawn to the study of injustice because I have grand schemes about making the world a better place for everyone. I know that's a Miss America World Peace kind of statement, but it's true. One of the only things I kept around from being raised Catholic was the concept of do unto others as your would have done unto yourself, but even that is a pretty common sense concept.

Several years ago Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that there were no gays in Iran. His American audience laughed. While his delusional nature may be amusing sometimes, the treatment of gays in Iran is no laughing matter. It may surprise you, or may not if you know the region, that consensual sex between men is punishable by death in Iran (and in other parts of the world). During my research I even watched an interrogation video in which a man had kidnapped another man to keep as a sex slave. One was obviously a victim (his teeth were bashed out), but when punishment was handed out both men were executed.
The Iranian judiciary just determined that four men will be executed for consensual sexual activities. The Jerusalem Post has that article.
In 2005 two gay teenagers were executed for the same crime.

These events are happening in this day and age, and I feel stranded on an island of inability because I can't do anything substantial about it other than pass the information along wherever I am able. So this is the information I give to you.

Intermission

Being a Historian left me with this empty feeling of inability. I've heard stories about Historians being epic alcoholics for this very reason--well, that, and no one listens to Historians and History repeats itself if left forgotten...it's a frustrating field. So, where does an angsty, detail-obsessed person who harbors a compelling case of nascent alcoholism turn? Yes, become a writer. It was so obvious.

I still write essays, but now I write other things as well because I want to explore topics instead of theories. Writing gives me a platform, and if you're going to stand on a platform you better have something that you want to say.

The Grove

As I've mentioned before, I was raised Catholic and you can probably guess where I'm going with this...or not. Where earning a History degree left me frustrated with my lack of ability to change History the conformity of Catholicism I attempted to force upon myself left me with a lack of identity. It took me a long time to figure myself out after being told that everything I did could send me to the hell fire. Catholics are a little more subtle than other denominations, but the hell fire is still there. And it can give you quite a sense of hopelessness to live in a constant state of internal and external scrutiny that is simply incompatible with what you feel is true about yourself and the world. I now bring you to the universal topic of bullying and suicide that plagues so many kids in the LGBT community as well as those kids who are just different. I was twelve when I first attempted suicide. I don't really want to discuss the why, or how, or what right now because they're not part of this story, but this next section is the story.

Due to my long-term intimate relationship with suicidal thoughts, the Catholic belief system, and my Italian heritage I took a morbid solace in Dante Alighieri's Inferno. In the middle ring of the 7th Circle of Hell the people who committed suicide exist as gnarled and bleeding thorn bushes that are terrorized by harpies. The suicidal will never regain their bodies after The Final Judgment, but will have their corpses hung from their thorn bushes. (I told you it was morbid) This is the imagery I always return to when thinking about suicide, but I think of it differently because my relationship with nature is stronger than my relationship with the concept of hell.

I invite you to walk with me through the grove of the suicides. At first I feel peace because there is the notion of a quiet comfort in death. The struggle is over, it's true, but that's it...death is the end. We can just keep walking, though. We're not staying. The trees are all thorns and scabs. It's a sign of obvious pain, and the trees now bleed when injured, but in life the pain is not as obvious as a twisted mass of bleeding thorn branches. The scabs reopen old wounds, and the thorns harm those who get too close. It is a desperate situation. Depression puts up barriers or causes people to lash out, but suicide creates a death with painful memories for those who longed to be closer to the victim. Each memory doesn't simply contain the sadness of loss, but also an added nuance of pain because they could not reach the victim.

To me the harpies represent the reasons and torments that lead people to take their own lives, but as you'll notice the harpies are alive and still active to continue their torment. And even trying to understand this torment assails those left behind. Schools do too little, people don't care enough, and pain goes unrecognized, but after another life is lost everyone looks back and points to incidents and people. What good does it do now? Maybe we can stop them from tormenting anyone else, but I think the most important approach is to teach love and compassion. I think people don't love enough.

I want you to know that if you've wandered through the grove of the suicides you should know that you're not alone even though the path seems empty when you're there.


Wow, that was more of a downer than I expected... and I wanted to end with some love.


Here's "Pure" by The Lightning Seeds

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review: Queer Fish: An Eclectic Anthology of Gay Fiction


Edited by Rose Mambert and Margarita Bezdomnya
Published by Pink Narcissus Press

This anthology was easy to enjoy because the whole collection is really solid. My favorites were "Mike Dies at the End" by W2, "Baker Boy" by Thomas Fuchs and "Dark Entries" by Michael C. Thompson.  Okay, so I'll just move onward to the summaries:

Incubus-Ex by Ashley-Renee Cribbins
I could kind of see where this one was going from the beginning, but I like the inclusion of an incubus. Okay, so the main plot points would be sister has a relationship with an incubus, Sully, but wants to go to college unburdened so she puts up a hex bag to bind him to the house. Her brother, Austin, is the only one who can pull down the hex bag and set Sully free. He decides not to...as to why he doesn't, that's up to you to find out. 

Mike Dies at the End (A Parody) by W2
First, I just have to say that I love the idea that mystical powers are sexually transmitted. I love all the well-placed absurdity of this story. The line the squirrel says near the beginning, and the fact the fries sing...yeah, you see where I'm going with this-- uh, no you don't. I don't even know where I'm going.
Anyway, the characters are fun and have lots of personality. The situations are crazy, but well-written so that makes them believable in a surrealist on acid kind of way. The descriptions of Real Dolls; horrifying. The solution to the puzzle; quite entertaining.
In final review I love this story. It speaks to me.

Monsters So Fair by Lyle Blake Smythers
This is a fantasy story about fate and prophecy. The narrator, Agib, has first been told that he is the person who can end the curse over a stretch of ocean by destroying the bronze statue on top of Bent Mountain that keeps destroying boats with magnetism. Droo, the son of a merchant, has been told that if the statue on Bent Mountain falls he will be killed by a false Prince named Agib by the time he turns eighteen. The two end up on the same island, but there is no animosity between them, so how can the second prophesy be fulfilled if there is love and not war? In a way I was kind of dreading getting to the ending because the moment that Droo and Agib have together is quite perfect.

The Song by Rob Rosen
Somewhat scary in the build up to the siren, and I enjoyed the treasure hunter's determination to thwart the siren's song. The basic story is that a treasure hunter goes on a quest for gold where he knows that others have failed due to reports of sirens luring the adventurers to their death. Despite his preparations the siren manages to get his attention anyway, but not as he was prepared for.

Dark Entries by Michael C. Thompson
This story is rather twisted and made me want to listen to Bauhaus while reading to get the full effect. The couple, Jonathan and Lawrence, in this story already has a lot of issues with drug problems and paranoia just being the icing on the cake. Lawrence's nightmares and reality start to blur together, and things get even more disjointed around the time he meets a strange, but beautiful man on the beach. The strange man appears to be mocking him, and claims to be named Peter Murphy. Lawrence sees Peter as teasing him, then he sees him as a disturbing fish creature in his nightmares, and then Jon's paranoia sees them as entirely something else. The ending of this story is rather shocking as it is revealed that both men end up with their wishes fulfilled.  

Welcome to Anteaterland by Nathaniel Fuller
I kind of felt like I was missing something as I went through this story. It was like something bigger going on behind the scenes, which I guess is kind of what happens in Anteaterland so maybe that all works out.  

Blood Sugar Sex Magic by Geogina Li
This story is interesting because it reads like a prose poem with influences of city life, and I also get this sensation of contrast between night and day. I had to read this one a couple times to pay attention to everything that's going on around the characters. The rhythm of the words is interesting. I also like the idea of James reading the signs and believing that there are meanings and then other meanings. This story feels like a series of images and has a pace that reminds me of wandering around cities at night after the bars are closed and everything is kind of disorienting.  

Baker Boy by Thomas Fuchs
I love how this story looked at temptation, and it was strange enough that I had to tell a friend who has a culinary arts degree about it right after I read it. References to Baker Boy have been added to our dialogues about food. So, good job.
In this story a man in the best shape of his life gives into the temptation of a mysterious bakery, and to the allure of the baker boy who tempts him with food among other things. Sure, the main character gains a lot of weight that the sexual escapades can't work off, but the end results were not quite as expected.

The Zombissager by Colleen Chen
Sir Zomablot is out to conquer Peaceville with his army of undead cocks that he has packaged and sold as Zombissagers.  Super boyfriends Coolman and Awesomeman can't let that happen. If the names are any indication this is a silly story, but it is pretty entertaining.

Shudder by Alice Fox
This is a cute little graphic novel-like piece that involves an exiled noble and the headless apparition of a minstrel who has a demon problem. The demons look like stretchy cats, which I suppose would be quite horrifying to see in person. After the demon problem is remedied the exiled man can stay in the castle and you can cue true love's first kiss, or something like that.

Mondeval's Heart by Rose Mambert
Ash and Tamaril are companions by chance or fate, but they are loyal to each other and prepared to die on their quest. Ash is human while Tamaril is a ferlik who is also Cursed with a powerful magic that can only be used at a high price. Tamaril trades his memories or blood for magic, use of the power in the past has destroyed his memory to the point that he doesn't remember even his original name. This story throws your from the heat of passion into the heat of battle and makes you wonder what all will be lost and gained once the fight is over.

Zombie Hunt by Danielle Renn
In a post zombie apocalypse world zombie infectee James Hunt protects a settlement of survivors in exchange for shelter and feedings of blood to sustain him. A young man named Evan who lives in the settlement latches onto Hunt and follows him around. Evan is quite curious and in awe of Hunt and wishes to forge any sort of connection that he can between the two because they have a relatively simple past, and within the settlement connections between people are not as simple as they seem. In this world the ugliness of the created society in the settlement is hidden behind the fa├žade of civilization. Evan's actions indicate that he is looking for a sort of salvation and an escape from the settlement, but how far away can he get? And at what price?

The Hollow Hills of New Hampshire by Frank Muse
This was an amusing horror story about a young man named Derek who becomes the owner of a brownie--a short, hairy, naked house elf of lore. (Side note: brownies creep me out already and I rarely encounter them in my usual reading...so that got to me right away.) At first the brownie makes sure the apartment is clean, food is prepared and the place is comfortable to the point of creepiness, but then he starts to cause a bit of trouble when he panics at the realization that his new owner really has no interest in women or reproduction...and the Brownie kind of needs him to have an heir in order to survive.

This Won't Hurt a Bit by Thomas Kearnes
The narrator first hooks up with a guy named Harrison, and is annoyed by Harrison's show of consideration over whether or not he was enjoying their encounter. Soon after that the narrator admits that he's used to getting in between couples and at the moment is trying to be involved with Blake, who is already living with Sam. Blake and Sam are a train wreck of a relationship, but Blake has obvious feelings of complacency and fatalism towards his situation. When the narrator is given a slight chance with Blake it isn't quite what he expected, but from that he garners a sort of revelation.

 The Golem of Rabbi Loew by Johnny Townsend
As I read this I noticed that the pacing of the story feels similar to a biblical story. I enjoyed this retelling of The Golem of Prague, and found it easier to read then the version of the original story that I was supposed to read for a Survey of Jewish Culture class. Anyway, the golem in this story not only defends the Jewish population of Prague, but also serves as a companion for Rabbi Loew who feel that his desires for other men would lead others to sin, but since Joseph lacks a soul there's no concern for him sinning. The story is quite bittersweet.

Fools in Love by Chelsea Crowley
Gus, the court jester, insults the court wizard, Horatio Metorimax, and as punishment the jester is forced to assist him in order to better appreciate the wizard's work. Horatio is surprised to find that he can relax around Gus and they both get along better than expected. Gus turns out to be a more complex character than he initially seems and he confesses that he has been hurt by magic before. This is a cute story and I enjoyed the explanation of Gus's background, and I think Horatio learned a lot from Gus.
Super Love by Chris Helton
This story deals with the everyday frustration of dating a super hero, which is a profession with a highly irregular schedule. Odd schedules are a rather relatable feature of relationships in general, and I enjoyed seeing how Maddex tried to bridge that divide in order to spend more time with Greg.
Starpoint Rendezvous by E. Craig McKay
Simon and Jeremy work together as prospectors and play together in the Melia Starpoint space hotel that can provide all varieties of tantalizing sexual experiences. They spend most of the story indulging in what each other, and the hotel, has to offer, but also discuss their newly joined business endeavors and the trouble of transporting asteroids. I must admit that my mind kept wondering off while reading this story because I kept imagining what all could possibly be at such a hotel. So, I generally enjoyed the lazy, sexy and indulgent nature of this tale, and the excitement of the trials of hauling asteroids through space kind of took a backseat to the entertainment at the hotel.

Color Zap! By Sam Sommer
The Genofacility allows two people of any gender to have children, and produces those children in a regulation manner in which they are prepared for a drab world, but Spencer was born with periwinkle blue hair. His parents force him to cover his hair with a hat, and then begin shaving his head as he gets older. He decides for himself that he wants to show off his hair, but on his first time out in public he is given an unfair amount of abuse. He soon finds more people with colorful hair including his boyfriend, Gavin, who has bright green hair. The people with brightly-colored hair form a society to promote the acceptance of them in the general population. I found the story interesting and inspiring and think it was a good note to end the anthology on. The feeling I got from this story was that even though some progress is made there is still room for equality, and sometimes different groups get left behind during the quest for acceptance.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Didn't punch a single hipster. And a basic publishing guide.

I went to CD101 Day Side A on Saturday and I didn't punch a single hipster. I didn't even find one person that I would consider that annoying...so that was good. Maybe it was too cold that night. As far as the show went I liked the set by J. Roddy Walston and the Business (Link to their song "Don't Break the Needle"), and Of Monsters and Men (Link to their song "Little Talks"). Left before Kasabian because it was too cold outside.
Before the show we walked over to the Three-Legged Mare and had a couple beers. It's a pretty nice place and the bartenders are cool, so I think I will definitely go back there in the future. At the LC I can't believe people pay $8 for a giant cup of horrible beer. Recently I have begun to examine my hatred of Bud Lite and Miller Lite, and then realized that I drink PBR sometimes so I have little room to talk... but I never drink it ironically.

The review of Queer Fish will be posted later today. I had to go back and reread several stories and that has slowed down the process. I don't mind rereading them because I like the book.


This is a basic intro to publishing that I wrote for a writing group I'm involved with on VampireFreaks:


Big Publishing Guide

GET SERIOUS
Publishing can be a heartbreaking process even for the best of writers. You create a concept for a story, your characters live on paper--or in your head, or maybe they're a part of you...maybe they talk to you-- and you give them an adventure, then you revise that adventure to make it perfect, and you locate a magazine/anthology/etc and send your story off into the unknown...just to get a form letter in return "I'm sorry, but we're going to pass." There really is no arguing with it, and all you can do is to hope to understand the process.

KNOW THE MARKETS
Researching markets in advance will save you some time, and possibly rejection, if you generally know what a publisher is looking for. It does help to read the publications as well. I've been researching markets for about a year now and still haven't figured out all of it because there are a lot of publications and then there are anthologies, too. If you have a particular piece that you're interested in sending to a publisher I may have a lead on who might be looking for that sort of thing, so reply to this post or send me a message.

What are publishers looking for and where do you find that out?
Duotrope
Make an account here, I'm serious. This page is easy to use and they send out a weekly digest of market updates including new markets, dead markets and temporarily closed markets.

Poets & Writers: Tools for Writers
This page has listings for publishers, magazines, contests and agents. They also list grad school programs, jobs and grant opportunities.

Writers Market
Web page for the book by this name. Requires a subscription fee.

COVER LETTERS--JUST COPIED FROM A PAST POST I DID:
I personally hate writing cover letters, but it does seem to get easier each time. A cover letter is likely the editor's first interaction with you and your writing so it should be professional and courteous. It's okay to be a little clever in tone, but don't be obnoxious. A cover letter is like a sales pitch, so you want to sell yourself and your work as best as you can. It's similar to a pitch letter, but a pitch includes more information on a project and is usually done before the project is finished.
When I worked as an editor on a university-related Arts magazine most cover letters we got said:
"Hi, my name is------- and this is my submission"
And in that situation it was fine to have such a short message. It really depends on where you're sending your work. We didn't refuse to read any submissions due to poor cover letters.
Other places are a bit different. I've seen one place that wants the official cover letter as the first page of the submission, but most places just want the cover letter in an e-mail and the submission itself attached to that e-mail as a word document (or other document type, I know one place that only works with PDF). Pay attention to the individual publisher's guidelines.

When writing a cover letter include:

Editor's name, if you can find it, or just say editors of (whatever the publication is).

Your name--should be obvious.

Publishing history, or if you lack publishing history, but have Creative Writing education you could list that. When it comes down to it most places will only be judging on the merit of what you send them and not your publishing history--unless you are a big name that will help move their publication's sales.

Title of piece, approximate word count and brief synopsis.

Acknowledge where you are submitting it--the magazine, anthology, book, etc.

The fact that you think it will fit what they're looking for.

Thank them for considering your work.

Sometimes the publisher asks for specific things in a cover letter--where you're most easily contacted, where you're from, a short bio in 3rd person, etc.


I figured that the best way to give you an example of a cover letter was to post one that I actually sent out--they rejected the story, but gave me good feedback, (I'm reworking the problem they had with the story and will try submitting again later)-- I just deleted a lot from it.


Dear editors at -----------,
My name is J. Lannan and I'm most easily contacted at (e-mail address here). I've previously been published in Shawnee State's Arts magazine (Silhouette: Spring 2011), the Dylan Days Publication (Talkin' Blues: 2011), and Ohio University-Lancaster's Arts magazine (Station: Spring 2011). "Hey, You Never Know" is my submission to be considered for inclusion in the -------------- anthology. Its complete word count comes in at just a little under 17,000 and has a summary that goes a little something like this:

In "Hey, You Never Know," Ian Winter picks up the missing persons case of Conrad Blum as a favor to a family friend, but has trouble getting any of the homeless people around the park where Conrad was last seen to talk. In fact they seem a little scared of him. With the reluctant guidance of shelter worker Brend, Ian concocts a new identity---------------------In this quest of disappearing bodies, a silver shuttlecock to a quasar, clandestine yard work and political intrigue everyone has a past.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

J. Lannan

BE PREPARED TO WAIT
I currently have submissions in at a magazine that takes up to a year to reply. I think I sent it out in November and obviously I'm still waiting. My fastest rejection came in at a number of hours after sending the e-mail out, and then there are some that never reply. Some places will not allow you to simultaneously submit your story to them and other publications, but some will. Make sure to keep track of these things.

GET REJECTED
Rejection happens. And, if you know the piece is of a good quality, the rejection usually happens because an editor did not like your style or it was just not a fit for their publication. Send it somewhere else. I had a piece rejected last year--personally I think it was too edgy for that publication now that I've actually met the group associated with that anthology-- but I read the story again and made a couple minor revisions and it was picked up by another publisher that is more interested in the sort of things that I write. I currently have plenty of rejected stories that I'm revising at the moment.

ACCEPTANCE
After acceptance you'll have to do a contract of some sort, or sign off on it. For the arts magazine that I worked on we were pretty relaxed and just wanted first rights, and we had each writer sign off on how their piece would look in the magazine. That's when they signed the agreement. I didn't sign off on anything for one of my poems to be included in another university's arts magazine. Currently I'm waiting for my contract for a short story publication. It seems like it will be pretty official and legally binding.
Usually you will get contributor copies. If there is money involved it seems that a lot of small publishers pay through PayPal. I haven't worked with any big publishers. I also have no experience with royalties at this time.

PUBLISHING A NOVEL
This is an addendum because novels are different. I have not pitched a novel, yet, but I've watched my friend go through the process and so far that story is not published.
1. The novel must be complete before it is pitched.
2. Smaller presses will let you pitch the novel directly to them if they are accepting novels, but the really big publishing houses will not accept unsolicited manuscripts--meaning: you need an agent.
3. For novels I suggest getting a copy of the Writer's Market book because they do include statistics on how many novels that a publishing house publishers per year where the novel was represented by an agent or not.
4. The Association for Authors' Representatives is a good place to start looking for an agent. Poets & Writers Literary Agent Database. The Writer's Market also has listings of agents.
5. Whether pitching to an agent or directly to a publisher you will have to write an effective synopsis of the novel and a query letter. (Note: figure out the name of the person you're sending the letter/e-mail to) Some accept e-mail and others do not. There's a lot that depends on the publisher's or agent's preference--they have submission guidelines on their web pages. Query letters pitching the novel should go out much like cover letters for other submissions, so take note of the guide to cover letters I posted in this publishing guide. A synopsis seems like a more common request, but some publishers want the whole novel attached to that e-mail. In general the synopsis itself determines if the publisher or agent wants to read any more of the story. If you only sent a synopsis and the agent or publisher liked it, then they will ask for the first three chapters. If they like those, then they will ask for the whole novel. Here is a link to a successful query letter, so you have an example other than my lack of novel pitching letter experience.
6. Much like other forms of publishing once the letters are sent out, you just wait.
7. If it's rejected: Look for more feedback, reread it yourself, make repairs and try somewhere else. If it’s accepted, good for you.


Even if a piece is accepted by a publisher make sure it is a place where you actually want to be published before you sign a contract. You do not want to be published where they accept everyone because that doesn't speak very highly of the quality of work that they accept.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Style Grids

Apparently Blogger felt the urge to put a little padding around my grids, and I'm not sure how to make that go away right now, and I assume it was a default that I put into the design elements. Anyway, here are some style grids with links...hopefully links that all work.
Under $25

Clad in Chrysanthemums NecklaceFramed Coin RingMarrakech Your Eye Earrings
Shimmer FlatsVelvet Burnout Maxi SkirtTrue Love Will Find You In The End T-Shirt
Black Gold Glass BanglesPoint d'espirit camiCrepuscule T-Shirt


Under $75

Vanessa Bruno BroochCorner Coffee Shop CardiganStyle Tryst Metallic Feather Earrings
Black Widow Drop EarringsTea Leaves DressVanilla Milk Top
J.R. Nites Tiered SkirtStylish Selection SkirtTime and Lace Dress

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An update like many others

I was sick off and on for about a week, and I've been playing catch-up since then.
So, I'll have a book review for Queer Fish up as soon as I finish writing it out coherently. I have notes right now.
I will also post a basic publishing guide that I wrote for an online group, but I think it's rather useful so I'll post it here as well.
And I'm working on an essay about how to use criticism.
You should check out Columbus Creative Co-op's next anthology theme-- Bicentennial Columbus
I've been filling out many job applications, but got rejected from Saks Fifth Avenue this morning because apparently they heard I'm more likely to have skeletons in my closet rather than designer labels.
I'm going to the CD101 Day Side A show this Saturday. I hope to avoid fighting with drunk hipsters.
So, that's the update. I'm working on a sci-fi story and since I've been making progress with that today I plan to work on it until I get bored or fall asleep.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: Playing With Dolls by I.G. Frederick

I was given the opportunity to review an erotic novel by I.G. Frederick, so here is what I thought of it:

Playing With Dolls by I.G. Frederick has an intriguing plot and brings insight into the realm of male submission. Jesse has always been led to believe that he should be gay just because he prefers to wear women's clothing and enjoyed playing with dolls as a child. His exposure to gender identity and sexual preference has been dictated to him by his therapist who fails to separate expression from orientation, and the theory is rather forced upon him by his parents because gay is an easier answer on the surface. His father accepts him, and his mother expects him to be a gay rights activist.
Over time Jesse explores his sexuality starting in a lackluster relationship with David, where he loses his virginity on his 18th birthday in a scene that is written in a way that easily conveys his disappointment with the encounter. He is then introduced to BDSM by a lesbian couple (Ashleigh and Rachel) that more or less accepts him unquestioningly, but thinks that they know what is best for him much like his parents believed. He does enjoy the experiences of "flying" that they provide. Ashleigh and Rachel pass him off to Tony, a leatherman who further brings him into a Dominant and submissive relationship. Jesse is unsure of this arrangement, but goes along with it and continues to let others decide for him. It's entertaining to watch his attempts to make the best of some scenes that he finds to be not quite the right experience for him.
In general I found the progression of encounters to be appropriately more exciting and sensual as Jesse discovers what he enjoys. The book is oddly insightful in regards to the main character's slow revelation of finding himself through gender expression and sexual exploration. He begins to assert himself by choosing a career and life path that he wants rather than appeasing his parents. I enjoyed the varying degrees of information on the BDSM community, and even the fact that some of the characters didn't quite know the proper guidelines that go along with BDSM, but that's also an aspect of Jesse's education. This book is a delightfully sexy read that effectively evolves into Jesse pursuing possibilities for himself rather than just accepting what others have planned out for him.

Playing With Dolls can be purchased on Amazon.com and All Romance ebooks, and will be available on SmashWords later this week.
I.G. Frederick can be found online and on Twitter

Friday, March 9, 2012

Late Night Editing Thought: Dirty Candy

I've been revising a story that was rejected by a publisher. I think it has good bones, but could pack more punch (I also think it may have been a little too dark for their purposes).

Okay, so from this little project I'm learning that the sections of a story should be concise or compact... like a fun size candy bar, and it should all be in a neat little wrapper. You don't want to eat the candy bar that got caught in the machine and didn't seal right. You know...it has caramel and chocolate hanging out of the end. Which might seem like a bonus because there is technically more candy there, but it really only serves to attract rats and dirt. We don't need that.
So, pack your story neatly. (covering it in chocolate could possibly help, too)
Also, know where to seal the wrapper at the end. That extra smooshed rat food candy...yeah, that's a poorly concluded story right there. You really don't need those extra words that kind of squished out of the conclusion. Don't be scared to cut off your dirty candy.

Maybe that sounds extra dirty, and maybe it doesn't make any sense, but I'm revising a story at 2:30am and this is my thought.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Flash Fiction: Deaf on the Right

Needed time to recharge, so that's why I've been rather scarce online recently.
I participated in Columbus Creative Cooperative's Flash Fiction Smackdown on March 1st. Didn't win, but that's okay because the final round involved writing another story in 15 minutes based on a prompt, and then presenting that story. Scary, yes?

So, here is what I read that night--


Deaf on the Right
By J. Lannan

Spending summer at home was boring. But I kept seeing this guy. Hiding in bushes. Standing behind garages. So, like I said I was bored. That afternoon I snuck up and snapped him in the back of the head with the stupid rubberband on his Halloween mask. I hadn't been expecting that falsetto scream. I took off down the street even though I wasn't scared. Why was he even wearing that when it was ninety degrees out? And he had to be way too old to be creeping like that.  I felt justified. He ambled after me groaning like a constipated walrus.
"Really?" I could walk backwards and he wouldn't even catch up. So, that's what I did. "Are you seriously such a spazz that you're following me? Look at how you're dressed. Who do think you are the next member of Slipknot?"
I stopped on the sidewalk. He lurched forward with his hands aimed at my neck, but he didn't know that I played soccer. I corner kicked him in the junk and ran for a friend's house.
Now, no one had seen any of them for about a week, but maybe they went on vacation. Without telling anyone. The door was unlocked. Inside, the place smelled like road kill. Like big roadkill.
You know, in these situations most people try to rationalize that the creepy guy who showed up a week ago and the house that smells like week-old death were somehow not connected. I wasn't one of those people. 
I knew they had guns. The downstairs cabinet was locked. I knew about the loaded pistol in the nightstand. But that was upstairs, and there are rules against that.
Serving as a reminder of the rules I encountered Colleen laid out on the stairs with a knife wound to the chest. "You never run up the stairs." I yelled at her, but that was pointless.
So the gun wasn't in the nightstand, it was on the bed by Colleen's dead dad. The psycho was faster. He gripped my throat. But I had the gun. Put it up near the side of my head. Pointed back. Heard him breathing. Pulled the trigger.

And that's why I'm kind of deaf in one ear. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

This week is probably going to be kind of busy

I need to do my weekly writing prompts for Scribes of Lancaster.
Do the facebook events postings for Scribes.
Write one review, since I finished reading a book
And start reading that novel I'm supposed to have reviewed by the end of the month.
Format and send out one group of poetry submissions.
Work on a story combining Aztec traditions with modern politics.
Do the world-building for my feminist science-fiction piece.
Start thinking about Columbus Creative Co-op's Flash Fiction Championship.
I also wanted to work on the novels that I've been working on forever, and re-do a story titled "The Cheeto Oracle."
*sigh*
And I have a ton of laundry to do because I was sick/and or playing Skyrim last week, and went out this past weekend--but slept most of the day Sunday even though I felt better.
I hope to get most of this stuff done today...I hope.
And I also had this cool idea for a photography project...
maybe I should just stick to the original list.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Poem: May I have of you this favor?


This is a poem I wrote as part of a contest for an online writing group. We were to write a piece based on a picture we were given, and my picture was of a knight and a lady in the woods. She had a blue scarf wrapped around his neck like he was trapped by it and her gaze. Pretty sure the gaze would have held him there. Anyway, the scarf itself reminded me of this blue Armani scarf I had just bought that same day. I didn't feel compelled to write about my scarf, though. I think it's interesting to post this without the picture to see how it stands on its own, but it was inspired by a picture...


May I have of you this favor?

To the woods, to slip away with me
Caught up in shivering silk and a gaze
The hint of perfume, traced pleasures and intermingled sweat
From yearning, starlit blue and piercing steel
Daggers as Shakespeare hinted at
Chivalry sanctioned arousals between courtesy and a kiss
Of an arms-length love in hearts that cannot say forever
Because love was made evanescent
Like filtered sun through the leaves
Or a breeze dispelling swelter upon those things laid bare
By taking a chance encounter in the woods

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde and the Victorian Class Perception Extravaganza

I lied...there is no extravaganza here, but there is an essay on Victorian class perception as viewed through Literature so just try to enjoy it. Last year I took a class that covered Victorian Gothic novels and this is one of my essays from that class. Disregard page numbers and acquire a copy of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde online if you are interested. I don't remember the edition that the following page numbers are from.
Also, I've been reading On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writer's Association and this has made me think about taking old horror-inducing scenarios and reinventing them. Horror is basically a building of anxieties and the Victorian middle class had a lot of anxiety about defining itself into a position in proper society. Basically through defining the classes by strict stratification Victorians felt that they could look at someone and judge their character, mental health, and sexual proclivities upon sight. Before the emergence of the middle class the main concern in England was nobility vs not nobility, but since that new middle class didn't have pedigrees they inscribed identity in the human body and outward expression itself to know who properly belonged to the middle class.
You'd be naive to think that these snap judgments don't exist in the real world on such a scale in this progressive year...or maybe you just aren't strange-looking enough to have experienced it first-hand. I'm of the belief that the Victorian era wrapped its bony white-gloved hands firmly around society and has refused to let go since its inception.




funny pictures history - I SAY, SMEDLEY.  THIS MAY BE THE WORST CASE OF SYPHILLIS I'VE EVER SEEN.
see more Historic LOL
Or maybe that was tentacles that it wrapped around society... Anyway, there are a lot of attempts to get people to stop judging others by how they look. In fact you should check out the movie Tucker and Dale vs Evil to see this concept, along with a lot of slasher movie staples, really twisted about.

Onward to the academic paper:

"Class Portrayal and Societal Anxiety in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
by J.Lannan

In Late Victorian Gothic novels interest was given to the theme of degeneration of society and character. This theme played out in a variety of ways, but in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” the theme was most curiously portrayed through an upper class anxiety directed towards the lower classes. This anxiety comes to a point in the chapter entitled, “The Carew Murder Case,” where Mr. Edward Hyde carries out a vicious unprovoked attack on Sir Danvers Carew. Hyde’s disregard for what is proper behavior, unprovoked violence and the ways in which Hyde is described when compared to other characters are all representative of Victorian society’s distrust and fear of the lower class, along with a general discomfort in the loss of order and proper behavior in society.
The maid who viewed the attack from her window described Mr. Carew and Hyde in different styles. While describing Carew she focused on him as “. . .an aged beautiful gentleman with white hair. . .” (59). This attention to detail in Carew’s style and mannerisms indicates that the maid paid more attention to him because he appeared to be of some status. Hyde is often described as small, and less noticeable, but when they do notice him they generally dislike him. The maid relays to the police officer that the attacker is ‘Particularly small and particularly wicked-looking. . .’ (61)
Hyde challenged the ideals of Victorian society with his general bad manners and poor disposition, even before he turned to unrestrained violence. Upon Hyde’s exchange in the street before the attack he is rude, impatient and angry. The maid described Carew’s manners as “innocent an old-world kindness of disposition, yet with something high too, as of a well-founded self-content.”(60) Earlier in this passage it is implied that Carew made a request of Hyde, possibly asking for directions, and Hyde reacted in a fit of anger and unrestrained rage. Hyde is described as an animal at times, and is often depicted as ape-like in behavior, for example, “with ape-like fury. he was trampling his victim under foot and hailing down a storm of blows. . .”(60)
The violence of Hyde towards Carew is an attack on the upper class and upon the constructs of society. The murder is especially horrifying in its unprovoked nature and in the irrationality of the act. It was a violent act brought on by rage and nothing more. The crime was not a robbery, which at least would offer some explanation, but everything of value was left on Carew’s body; “A purse and a gold watch were found upon the victim. . . .”(61) This crime was also not about revenge of any sort, which could provide some sort of rationale for the bludgeoning.
Crime itself is representative of a less civilized society, and these were precisely the dregs that Victorian properness attempted to hide. This murder scene is a representation of an interaction of a lower class character with an upper class character where the lower class person is in a non-servile position. The maids and butlers of the story are all providing a service to their employers, while Hyde is his own man. Dr. Jekyll has provided Hyde, and himself as he is Hyde, with money and opportunity to roam unrestrained by polite society. Dr. Jekyll cannot indulge in rude, violent or self-gratifying behaviors as himself, so becoming Hyde allows him to explore these urges that challenge society and every construct that he would typically be held to because he was a member of the upper class. Hyde has a lot of freedom and unrestrained emotional energy and this freedom from society and proper behavior translated into violence and disregard for the world.
Hyde is free from the restraints of polite society and is not represented in a servile position except for when he runs errands for his alter ego, Dr. Jekyll. The representation of Hyde as a lower class man who is not restricted by proper behavior and not serving the upper class can create a certain anxiety in the wealthy characters because they do not have control over him. Hyde’s rudeness and violence show a general disregard for everything that upper class Victorians held dear in the constructed society and bonds of properness that the society enforced. The lower class did not care as much for these mannerisms and were not as compelled to hold to the etiquette of upper society.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jehovah's Witnesses, Funeral Biscuits and the Sandworm

As had been expected my Nana passed away on Friday evening. Here is her obituary. On Thursday when she looked pretty bad I made a prediction that the Jehovah's Witnesses that I can't seem to break up with would stop by that day because they usually show up on Thursdays, I hadn't seen them in a while and they ALWAYS stop by to read scripture when I'm incredibly stressed out. And their readings are always applicable to that day. It's eerie.
Saturday morning...there they were. And their scripture reading was about predicting the future. I kid you not.
So, I smiled nervously as they did their reading, handed me their little magazines and went on their way.

In addition to that strangeness I have been researching Victorian funeral customs and I really like the idea of funeral biscuits. And I discovered why opening an umbrella while in a home is considered bad luck-"Dropping an umbrella on the floor or opening one in the house means that there will be a murder in the house." That was from the Friends of Oak Grove Cemetery's post about Victorian funeral customs, superstitions and fears.

I'm debating if I'm still in shock over the death of my Nana because it seems surreal as to how fast it happened, but I think I accepted it so readily because she was always an active person and I don't think she would have wanted to hold onto life in a nursing home while in pain from an illness that was taking over from the inside. It's unfair, it's horrific and I never got a chance to say goodbye because she was unresponsive so quickly...but life can be disappointing and doesn't always go as planned. You could drive yourself crazy trying to get a firm hold on the things you cannot control, or you can just let go and see what happens.
And now I have this mental image of that sandworm from the Beetlejuice movie stuck in my head...
I guess if a sandworm is what we're all going to encounter on the other side I suggest you punch it in the nose...
like a shark, or an uppity dolphin



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Decline and Distractions

I've been dragging this week due to the impending death of a family member. I had been thinking about making the trip up to see my Nana one last time, but she has been unresponsive and I'd rather my last memories of her be associated with when I visited after her surgery in October. During that surgery a tumor had been removed from her jaw and the side of her face was stitched up vertical below her eye. Even though she was unable to talk at that time, she was awake and wrote on her dry erase board, "I bet I look like Halloween."
Her rapid decline has been quite shocking because everyone had just found out that the cancer had spread on Monday morning.
So, I've been doing my best to distract myself which so far has involved sleeping, clearing my desk and playing Skyrim instead of working on my writing. I have submitted two things to publishers this month so far and I'm trying to finish up two more flash fictions by the end of the month, but we'll see how that goes.

Here are some images that are also kind of distracting. Not last weekend, but the weekend before I went to Sexapalooza. It's a consumer sex show and there were a lot of Burlesque performers and dancers of various types. Also included were seminars and opportunities to buy various products of a sexual nature. I wasn't impressed with the museum of sex because it was pretty much posters with some facts printed on them, and then some vintage underwear hanging up that wasn't all that inspiring (I've done more risque google searches), but here are pictures of some of the performers.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Poe's Birthday, 203 Years Spooky


It's Edgar Allan Poe's Birthday
Born January 19th 1809

Do some reading, here's Ligeia to get you started. 
And drink some cognac, or absinthe...
Hell, just drink what you've got he wouldn't care.

funny pictures history - Nevermore?
see more Historic LOL

These are a few of my favorite words: Simulacra

Simulacrum (pl, simulacra): Likeness, or similarity.

From The Blackwell Guide to Literary Theory simulacra,simulation is defined as, "Associated with the work of Jean Baudrillard, these terms refer to the idea that "signs of the real" substitute for reality. The "orders of simulation" extend from simple mimetic copies (i.e., exact representations of an external referent) to copies that have no referent at all, that create the illusion of reference and, thus, of reality." (from page 322 of the copy I have)

In John Barth's The Literature of Exhaustion the main message is that literary topics and devices are so used up that there's nothing original to write about so writers must rehash old ideas in order to make something new. This may be discouraging at first, but it provides a concept itself that can create some interesting ideas as well. I'm just adding this because I like Post-Modern stories and this also goes along with simulacra.

Well, this is just Post-Modern Literary theory at this point so what does it matter to me?

I'm glad you asked because the more you look around the more you should realize how much of the world as it is now is part of simulacra. The easiest place to find simulacra in a natural environment would be those shopping centers that often spell shop as "shoppe" for old timey effect. These shoppes are usually strip malls or collections of big boxes all in one general location, but sometimes the facades are manufactured to make the businesses look a little old-fashioned. 

Lifestyle Centers are the next step in this evolution where upscale shopping centers have developed a place to spend your money in a location made to feel like you're shopping in an old (possibly European, definitely "fashionable") city where you'd walk from shop to shop and the buildings are obviously much older...but in these cases you're really in a manufactured experience that was built specifically for that effect of deception. The buildings are new, but look historic or quaint on the outside--they look like any other mall-based boutique on the inside-- and there's the park-like atmosphere of brick walk-ways and fountains and small garden areas and it's different than shopping in a real old city because, well, the authentically old places were not planned in the way in which a Lifestyle Center was planned. The old cities that these shopping experiences were based on were built up prior to cars, they were kind of utilitarian in the nature of planning, and the design of the buildings were generally fit for that time period.

So, what we have now are shopping centers with conveniently-located stores, (and parking garages nearby) with layouts based on updating older shopping mall designs into a design based on an interpretation of how old storefronts were before there were malls to organize shopping for the purpose of convenience,(also with market research and planning), but exterior designs based on the aesthetic of historic buildings which are pretty awesome to look at (architecture nerd). Then there's the functionality of modern retail-oriented interior layouts paired with the manufactured atmosphere outside provided by a simulation of a park in which they even have speakers piping in classical music and effective lighting solutions to make sure it's all safe, and a cleaning crew comes in and...well you see where I'm going, it's a real place, but it's not authentic... 

Is the simulation better than the original?

Shopping centers that provide a manufactured atmosphere are one thing, but one of my favorite places to visit for simulacra is Disney's Epcot theme park (Magic Kingdom, and just about any theme park, would also be good for this). Go to space, play with sciency things (not simulacra exactly, but it's fun), then just walk around the pond and visit a number of countries without ever boarding a plane. Walk from China to England to Morocco like it ain't no thang. Yeah, I said it.

Pay for the park ticket and you can experience a general feel of what a typical tourist might want to see, all in a shrunk down and extremely confined space as far as the size of countries would go. It's like a cultural hors d'oeuvres tray. You can even move between night and day in some parts--the Mexico exhibit has a fantastic star-lit sky over one of their indoor restaurant areas, there's also a "river," desert scenery and a cool evening breeze courtesy of the HVAC system. It's all fake, though...well, some of it's pretty real like the food and trinkets and the line at the French pastry shop, but the experience is falsified and processed. It's cleaned up...I don't even think you're supposed to spit on the ground at any of the Disney parks, but outside in the real world there are different things, ugly things. 

Countries have their own experiences, drama, and history, good and bad...you're not going to see a ride called "Experience The Great War" in the England and France portions of the park (also no cartel wars in Disney's version of Mexico), but you will find a a park where a group of Beatles impersonators play every couple hours. Really, how cool is that? They sound convincing enough and all those dudes are, you know, alive and on speaking terms. Also, the version of China that you get is old China, not the modern Post-Communist Revolution China we actually have in the world... but Orientalism is a word for another day.

So, what we get at Epcot is all the adorableness of ethnicity without the drama of political conflicts, and the best authenticity that research can provide of a created world that was made safe for mass consumption of an ideal. Disney has looked at everything that represents a country and decided what is intended to create this "authentic" experience of another culture at their park. (note, England, England)
If all we experience is Disney's version of the world do we know the authentic? Do we even want to look for it if we've already been given the "perfect" version? It is easier to think about Germany as one big Biergarten with Oompah bands (okay, well maybe no Oompah bands if you find them to be painful), rather than  let the specter of Hitler ruin everything.

What is authentic and does it matter?

I can't really answer this because I believe that the experience you have is what makes the world authentic to you. You should just be aware that when you go to Epcot you're seeing a version of the world like it's written in a one-page tourist guide. It wants you to go there, it's kind of superficial, but it can still be fun. It's by no means a "real" experience of the countries represented, but you can have an authentic experience of Epcot, but not of China through Epcot for example... no matter how good their research is.
These locations are planned, but experience should be felt and reacted to as you encounter it. What's the point of faking an experience? Or faking an emotion for that matter? 

So, I leave you with a song by Marilyn Manson. This particular song is "Ka-boom Ka-boom" from The Golden Age of Grotesque  which is a musical interpretation of the historic debauchery of the Wiemar Republic. I particularly like the line "I am a big car and I'm a strip bar. You call it fake, I call it 'good as it gets.' Nothing in this world in for real ..." it has Disney references as well.
And since I've written about Simulacra you can expect me to apply this concept to other posts in the future...Steampunk, I'm thinking of you in particular.





Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back from the winter holiday dead...

So, if you wondered what I've been working on the answer would be "Everything." I'm trying to finish about six writing projects by the end of the month and I'm trying to come up with something that doesn't seem cliche, but apparently I haven't been able to drink enough to get to that mental boundary where fresh ideas lurk in order to catch anything good. I did drink two glasses of absinthe the other night and was unable to stop giggling for about ten minutes. According to Oscar Wilde the 2nd glass of absinthe makes you see things as they are not. And there was nothing all that funny about trying to go to sleep.

I sent out one story last week, and have two in the works that I hope to send on their way this week.
I'm also working on sketches and toying with the idea of turning a portion of my novel project into a web comic instead...if I can remember how to draw good. I'm going to start with tracing and maybe my fingers will remember what it's like to not be so stupid.

Also, I reorganized my bookcase and kind of cleared my desk...which was quite a feat.