Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cleansing the mental palate

After being tempted by some of my European friends into watching bits of the Eurovision contest on YouTube, I felt the need to cleanse my mental palate. There's just so much you can take of moonwalking bagpipers, faux-leather man-boats, and Hammer-pants-wearing Colin Farrell-lookalikes before the earworms literally start to eat your brain. Fortunately, the jerky movements of Hammer-pants' dancers reminded me of a video I like much better.

This clip from Chicago might give you an earworm, too, but at least you'll have some pleasurable puppet action to make up for it it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

This woman is magnetic

I just found the video below in the roundabout way you find things on YouTube. While there's nothing MC'ish about it, it's certainly as sexy/creepy as the other stuff I like; and I just can't stop watching the woman's face, even when what's going on with her hands becomes just as riveting as what's going on with her eyes.

Yes, that is a tease. ;-P But take a look and see if you don't agree with me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

And now for something completely different

I recommend this next clip only for those in both a weird and an indulgent mood, but if you meet the criteria you might get a nice little Lovecraftian MC buzz out of it.

For the last several days I've been having a conversation with my slash-loving email friend about our different tastes in music. I like rock, punk and alternative; she likes musicals from the '50's and '60's. Somehow we got on the subject of an overblown Richard Harris (yes, that Richard Harris) album from 1969 that she described as being incredibly awful. Well, I just had to hear it for myself, so she sent me a link to the following video. What she didn't realize, since she was focused solely on the melodrama, was that I'd actually enjoy it because the lyrics were right up my MC-loving alley. This abomination is called "The Hive" for good reason.

If you choose to listen, just go with the melodrama. Imagine it's Lovecraft himself telling you an Elder Gods story, the kind where he gets increasingly strident until he bangs you over the head with the last sentence by putting it in terrifying italics. Yeah, it's like that. ;-P

You had me at "Lovecraftian"

I just found this trailer over at Ain't It Cool News, by following the headline "The French Get Lovecraftian." I suppose this is yet another cool-looking film that will never find its way into wide release, but at least I can enjoy the tentacular, spidery squick of the trailer:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

This is what it's like to have my brain

Maybe you've already seen the video below; it's the latest viral hit (I saw it on io9, myself). According to marine biologists, the answer to your inevitable question of "What the fucking blue hell is that thing?" is, it's a rare kind of jellyfish. But here's what I think, when I look at something like this.

Right from the get-go, I know it has to be an Old One; and since it's in the ocean, that narrows it down (mostly) to Cthulhu and Dagon. Then again, it could be a minion. The point it, this is definitely a Lovecraftian monster, and that means all kind of unspeakable horrors...and, if your mind works like mine, speakable kink.

Now, since I'm such a fan of EMC, my next thought is that it's obviously a Lovecraftian monster designed to MC unsuspecting divers. Obviously, it billows like that to mesmerize its prey.

At this point, my old-school-Stephen-King-fan joins the party, reminding me of an short story called (IIRC) "The Raft." In it, a group of teenagers gets stuck on a wooden raft in the middle of a lake, corralled by some sort of oil-slick-like monster that tries to lure them into its clutches with flickering lights. In one of the few scenes I still remember, a pretty girl is leaning over the edge of the raft, staring right into the predator's metaphorical eyes but too far gone to realize what she's doing.

Sadly, King's monster only kills its victims. But the video below makes me think of all kinds of other possibilities. Maybe this Lovecraftian monster embraces its prey and sucks, not the life, but the will out of them. Then perhaps it coats them in its own squicky effluence, creating a sort of Cthulhian pearl. Something that appeals to its own very specialized sense of aesthetics.

After that, the only question remaining is whether the monster hoards its pearls in some deep-sea treasure hold, or whether it sends them back to the surface to lure more recruits.

But why don't you answer that question for yourself?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A question of betrayal

I just got an email from Uzo Bono, who's running a series over on MCcomix, asking what makes an EMC story about betrayal really work. I gave Uzo a quick answer via email, but it was such a great question that I decided to give it a fuller answer here.

Pathos is the key to a betrayal story, and in order to have pathos, you have to start with characters who have a believable relationship. They don't have to be lovers - friends or family members can also work - but they have to have affection for one another. And trust. You want your readers to feel the same sting as the betrayed character, when the MC'ed character betrays that trust. For me, it's even hotter when the MC'ed character is so far gone that s/he doesn't even remember there was a relationship, but that's just my personal kink. It's not necessary for the MC-ee to be completely mindwiped; s/he just has to be far enough gone to place obedience ahead of relationship.

So, how do you do that? Well, whether you're writing a story or doing something with a visual element, the same basic rules apply.

Start with body language. The key here is subtlety. If your characters are lovers, don't show their lust for one another; show their love. Have them caress one another gently - on the cheek, perhaps. Show them holding hands and smiling softly at one another. If you really want to put them in bed together, be at least semi-discreet about it. Show them cuddling, legs wrapped loosely around each other, that sort of thing. The idea is to make them more than just fuck buddies. Being betrayed by a fuck buddy doesn't hurt nearly as much as being betrayed by someone you love.

There are other ways to show relationship with body language: ways that are just as appropriate for non-sexual relationships as sexual ones. Have your characters stand or sit close together. Give them eye contact. Position them so that one person's hip leans toward the other's. Place a hand on a shoulder. Let them smile at each other, or even better, give them a legitimate excuse to smirk. There's just something about smirking that implies closeness.

Now let's move on to dialogue. What is it that the characters share? Suppose they're longtime friends and coworkers. Don't tell your readers they're longtime friends and coworkers; show them. And again, make it subtle. If these were real people, they wouldn't say things like, "You know, we've been with this company for twenty years now and you're the best friend I have here." (Well, they might, but it would sound really clunky and artificial in a story). Let them talk about something more personal while they're working, or let them talk about work while they're doing something more personal.

Now suppose your characters are lovers. You can let them call each other pet names like "honey" and "sweetheart," but that alone won't sell their relationship. What do real-life lovers talk about? Ordinary, everyday things. Their relationship comes through in the way they do things together. For instance, maybe they're talking about buying a new house, or planning a party, or visiting one or the other's parents. Again, strive for subtlety and naturalism.

This technique is easier to demonstrate than explain, so let me give you an example from one of my favorite Tabico stories, Allegiance. This bit combines body language and dialogue, so I want you to notice both as you read:
They looked at each other, drinking with their eyes.
Finally, her guest sighed, and looked at her glass. She swirled it around, clinking the ice, and looked back up.
“Tetha. I’m... I’m so happy to see you.”
“I’m glad to see you, Ellibree,” Tetha replied. “It’s been so long.”
“Twenty years,” Ellibree replied. Spoken, the number hung in the air, heavy and accusing. Ellibree shook her head.
“A very... long time indeed,” she began again. The words felt false, brittle. Flimsy boards over a tempestuous cavern, unable to hold for long. “How have... you’re out of the Service?”
Tetha nodded. “A month ago. Retired as a Colonel.”
Ellibree smiled. “Higher than me.”
Tetha’s answering smile didn’t touch her eyes. “Rank doesn’t mean so much, what I’ve been doing.”
Ellibree nodded, suddenly sober. “Can you... are you allowed to talk about it?”
Ice glittered in her glass as Tetha turned it, seeking something inside. “No. But I’m going to.”
Notice how much Tabico has told you about the characters' backstory without spelling any of it out. They're soldiers. One's retired, and the other one's still active. They're lovers who haven't been together in 20 years, they're aching for each other, and yet - this is critically important - their relationship isn't just about sex. If it was, they wouldn't be talking over drinks; Ellibree wouldn't be probing so gently about Tetha's hurt; and Tetha wouldn't be willing to spill classified information to her. They'd just be screwing.

But you wouldn't have nearly as hot a betrayal story.

I hope you all enjoyed the tips here, and that you can use them in your own work. Thanks to Uzo Bono for asking the question. And if anyone else out there wants to know more about the writing process, I'd love to hear from you - and maybe address the topic in my blog.