“Red Wind”, Raymond Chandler

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.

That’s the opening to Raymond Chandler’s “Red Wind“, a story published 78 years ago, back in 1938. I dug it up again for the opening quote and (re)discovered that it is very hard to stop reading at the opening paragraph.

Chandler wrote a lot of things worth reading, but for a quick like summary I’ll mention his short story “The King in Yellow“–no relation whatsoever to the play I usually geek about, but the title always makes me grin. He also wrote the essay “The Art of Murder“, which is an interesting read, as well as the source of the oft-quoted line “[D]own these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”

Image is “Jupiter Morning“, by merrickb, used under the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

Slow, sad, and mad

Bedlam vol. 1Bedlam vol. 1 by Nick Spencer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(written several months back, and published now that I am cleaning out my drafts)

…I haven’t been so hooked by a graphic novel since I picked up Uzumaki, Vol. 1. And exactly like when I picked up Uzumaki, I am swearing because the comic book store has closed for the day, and now I have to wait before I can see about getting the next one in the series.

Spoilers for the first twenty-odd pages follow.

Like it says on the tin: the generically utterly evil technically-not-supervillain-because-no-superpowers-but-come-on-now Madder Red has, after years of therapy, apparently been cured of his anti-social drive.[1] Now he’d like to do some good.

I picked it up expecting a crime story. In the first fifteen pages, it had me blinking a little at what was being depicted (villain cheerfully slitting a child’s throat in front of the hero), and then twisted the standard “ha-ha, holding the city hostage by means of threatening something terrible” schtick into an entirely new direction.

It’s a murder mystery, sure. It’s grim and fast-paced and makes a creepy kind of sense. It’s beautifully drawn; the story weaves along between modern-day (full-colour art) and flashbacks to various points in the past (black and white and red all over). I am going to go reread it, once I am done posting this.

But beyond that, it feels thoughtful in a way that comics about characters like this–characters that are like how Madder Red started out, I mean, he’s quite different in the modern day setting–usually don’t, and for “usually don’t” read “never have”.

Series was apparently cancelled after enough comics to make two graphic novels. I am saddened by this, but… I guess it ups the odds of being able to convince other people to read the whole thing?

[1] Dead kids. Lots of dead kids. And dead women. (He hurt and killed woman and kids by preference.) And dead cops. And along the way, dead cats. His backstory rap sheet is drawn in in relatively few pages, and remains the kind of thing which is jaw-droppingly violent in a way I cannot recall having previously seen in comics.

View all my reviews

Slipping away.

The week started with a post, actually. A post about how, when you were doing one job and learning another and trying to catch up on three days work besides, learning that you might need to tear out a wall of your home was just a cymbal-crash finale to the day.

(As I was writing that post, my bus home drove past me without stopping.)

Then I exited without saving the draft.  So there was no post that day.

Rest of the week was equally packed, and delicately spiced with such highlights as “double work loads” and “four hours of sleep.”  And the lack of posts continued.

Trying to pull myself back together and relax. Saw Boondock Saints II and picked at Fallout 3 a bit; I’m pretty close to finding Harold, I think.

Not getting any writing done. I keep being caught up in thinking about a co-writing project and the person I’m working with… Yeesh, just realized haven’t heard from her in a week. Trying to overcome my natural tendency to fret.

Settling on Sundays.

I want to say it’s been a long day, but it really hasn’t.  It’s been mostly a very pleasant day.  I’m just tired drained.  I’m anxious about work, and hoping it’ll be done soon.  And I ache, and I don’t know why I’m still hungy.  I made a decent dinner, even if it ended up taking nearly two hours from start to finish, and I was getting upset at trying to juggle everything.

I just want a day to stay home and sleep.  Instead I’m going to turn in early enough for a full night’s rest, show up cheerful and enthusiastic about the job tomorrow, and quietly count down the days until I’m done.  I believe this is called being a grown-up, or something, and is closely tied to finding work and making people not curse your presence.

(Meantime, the friend I’m writing a story with has been busy lately (which is fine!) and so have I, but from the time we’ve had to talk I can’t help but feel that while being busy she’s getting more actually done.)

Despite coordinating schedules, I am actually too worn to pay attention to American Horror Story or Walking Dead, so we’re catching up on Supernatural.  It’s nice to sit back and watch characters deal with a monster of the week, and I like the openly fake psychic who is pleasant and reasonable about her job.  It’s still clever rather than creepy, though, and I can’t remember when it last managed to be creepy–

(That said, the meta-commentary about brothers working together made me laugh.)

I suppose it’s hard to sustain tension, which is an essential element of creepy, when you know characters are either going to survive (Winchesters, Bobby) or else can’t be expected to be there for longer than an episode (everyone else).  Should keep that in mind when writing, I suppose.

I’m rambling, I know.  I think I’m about due to turn in.

Madness and the pet monster.

“I really need your help. I don’t want to be like this. I want to be a good person.”

Right, well, Tate has just gained a ridiculous amount of sympathy from me.  I have been there.  I mean, I haven’t nearly chewed anyone’s face off to make a point or defend my crush, but I have been there.  (Yes, more American Horror Story, although no spoilers this time.)

Knowing that there’s something wrong, but that even then the mind you use to understand that truth is off.  And knowing isn’t enough to fix it, thinking about it isn’t enough to fix it, wanting it isn’t enough, trying isn’t enough…

It’s hell, and there is no-one I’d wish that on. Continue reading “Madness and the pet monster.”

Marking time.

Light of my life appears to have gotten my Kobo working, which is wonderful.  My favourite short story on it came off Smashwords, and I was getting really frustrated with not having it handy.

(Oh, there’s a word count on this!  Handy.)

Taking advice on practicing time management; seeing if I can get down 200 words a day, reliably, until the end of October.

Other concerns ATM: very much behind on Excolo roundup, not enough sleep, top-to-bottom housecleaning due by Thursday night, work screw-up, general failure to write.

Writing a story with a friend, and between our schedules it’s bogging down.  Need to talk to her to find out how she feels about my writing pieces of it alone, or stories that use the set-up we’ve created.  I can see her disliking the idea, although I don’t think it’s likely.  I cannot see being comfortable with just going ahead with it without asking her.

Also for consideration: am I using this as an excuse to procrastinate?

I have a handful of ideas for Iolace, and two stories.  Unsurprisingly enough, neither of them is written yet.

Trying to coordinate my various journals, accounts, feeds, and any other ways that I track what people are doing online.  I like having them, but having them all over the place is not useful.  Not entirely sure how or if this will fit in with that; I’m hoping that if I organize everything else, this will naturally settle into its own niche.