Saturday, October 31, 2009

Seahorse Lighters, Among Other Things

Hello, readers.

It's Halloween eve. Very soon there will be multitudes of miniature monsters, ghosts, devils, spongebobs, and, erm, whatever else the kids are into these days, running about various streets, demanding candy lest their be dire consequences. This tradition dates back, of course, to prehistorical Irish times, when leprechauns dressed up like other, scarier, even more imaginary creatures, in order to dupe poor farmers and laborers into handing over shiny things. Leprechauns love shiny things, you know. They're like small birds. I don't know why they ate Jennifer Aniston.

In other news, Aimee Bender wrote a story about a significant object which may or may not be a lighter containing an ancient seahorse, possibly from Irish times. Apparently there's a whole project surrounding this story, wherein writers make up stories for random objects. Shelley Jackson wrote about a crumg sweeper. Read what Maud says about it here.

Also, Anthony Hopkins is Odin.

Nanowrimo gears up November 1st. Try not to binge too much on candy the night before.

Peter Berg leaves Dune. Neill Blomkamp, he of Distract 9 fame, is mentioned as a replacement.

Little Brother makes me want to want to be a hacker again.

Stay free, readers.

Happy All Hallow's Eve Eve.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some Things About Some Things

Hello, readers.

Today used to be Tuesday which, as we all know, was named after the Old English god, Tiw, who was really just the Norse god of war and law, Tyr, who had the habit of sometimes wearing a monacle and pretending to be British.

It also happens to have been the day a story of mine went online at the Interstitial Arts website, here.

The Interstitial folk asked everyone to write an essay about their story, interstitialness in general, or what have you. And so I did. It ended up not being very much about the story, exactly, so much as about monsters and porn. This was surprising. You can read it up there where here is.

I tried at first to actually write about the story and why I wrote it and it never quite worked. It felt indulgent. It's occured to me, though, that for someone who writes a blog and occasionally argues with themselves, indulgence obviously doesn't bother me overly much. I think, more likely, I was just writing it wrong.

One morning, a couple of weeks ago, while in the middle of trying to write something else, something made me try again. Probably the fact that the something else I was writing wasn't quite working. Every scene kept ending with my characters being killed by meteors. That didn't seem right.

So I wrote about a story I already wrote, instead. And then I wondered what to do with what I wrote. Then I remembered I had a blog. Here is what I wrote that morning.


This story was written, for the most part, in the early morning hours after a concert featuring Jenny Lewis and Connor Oberst. The show took place at what was then a fairly recently opened venue in Oxford, Mississippi called The Lyric. It was the kind of place with chandeliers and diamond-patterned wallpaper in the foyer. It was the kind of place that had a foyer.

I got there early, stood in line, made a few new friends who had traveled to every show so far, and then we went inside, through the foyer, under the chandeliers, and we stood together at the stage, waiting for something to happen.

Eventually, something did. Something usually does.

Ms. Lewis came out wearing a fedora and a flower-print dress. She sang songs of love and bitterness and was, in turn, mysterious, goofy, sarcastic, sexy, and adorable. At one point, she touched my hand. Mr. Oberst appeared next with his Mystic Valley Band and sang songs of grief and purpose. He did not wear a fedora or flower-print dress. Nor did he touch my hand. He did wear a tuxedo, though, and he did sing as if his life, maybe all of our lives, depended on it. He's an excitable fellow.

It was a good show. It’s possible that some things came from this.

It’s also true that, at the time, I was enjoying a hopeful sort of broken heart and listening to a lot of Lou Reed's Transformer. I suppose it’s possible some bits of the story came from this, too.

You never know with these things.

Stories, like love, are a kind of magic, even to the writers and lovers. Especially to them, maybe, because some part of them, like the magician, knows that everything around them is an illusion, a carefully orchestrated system of smoke and mirrors and forevers designed to conceal the truth—that the woman is still in one piece, that the flying man is held up by wires, and that love, however true it seems, sometimes lasts for only a month, a year, or a day.

Audiences, readers, and the friends of lovers, know all this, too, of course. But they still watch. They still read. They still hope.

Maybe because being in on the act is part of the fun for both audience and magician. Knowing and believing anyway is its own kind of magic.

But maybe also because, on some level, everyone realizes that the greatest and scariest thing about magic, love, and stories, is that sometimes they’re true. Some women really do get torn in two and made whole again by the same man. Some men really do learn how to fly. And some days, some loves, really do last forever.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you different.

Unless they’re wearing a monocle. Those folks usually know what they’re talking about.


I feel, at this point, a little like those people who do commentaries and, at the end, congratulate those that listened to the whole thing for being interested and geeky and cool. So, congratulations. Way to be cool.

Happy yesterday, readers.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Magnelephant Pie Crust and The End of the World

Hello, readers.

This weekend I discovered a previously undiscovered cable channel that Comcast offers as part of whatever package it is that I have. It's a station called "This." This name "This," strikes me as a name like The Who, or The Guess Who, as being designed to cause confusion and Abbott and Costello routines. Regardless of its indeterminate pronoun name, though, it plays many magnelephant movies such as David Lean's Brief Encounter. Everything should be as black and white and full of trains as that film.

In other news, I made a sweet potato pie using a variation of this gluten free crust. It was, as the subject suggests, magnelephant.

Sometimes you need to use the name of your blog in your posts, otherwise it gets sad.

Other things:

Neil Gaiman's graveyard party count reaches 33 locations.

Some people claim to have spotted magnelephants in Sweden. They also claim magnelephants are magnetic elephants, something previously claimed by this blog without any knowledge of any other people existing with similar claims. These people design mugs.

People wonder if the end of the world is the new vampire.

Jonathan Lethem talks to Salon about madness, obsession, and genius. His novel is not about mad scientists, which is too bad, as they seem to be on my mind of late and sometimes I'd like to believe I have the power to bend the world to my will. Sometimes that goes horribly wrong, though, so maybe not.

Tomorrow a story I wrote, "Some Things About Love, Magic, and Hair," will go online at the Interstitial Arts Foundation Annex. If you haven't read the other stories you should go do that.

Happy Monday, readers.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

More on kangaroos

As reported previously, sometimes kangaroos are tough guys. Sometimes, though, they're like this guy here, 'roos who can't hold their liquor except in the literal sense. He will almost certainly suffer from a kangover tomorrow. Kangover is our new favorite word as coined by friend Jack yesterday in the comments section.

And now having created this post so that I could use word kangover appropriately in a sentence, my job here is done.

Good work, me.

It was nothing really.

Too true. Real work involves pretending to go to Mars. Or defending your home from zombies using zombie-zapping plants. You should do something worthwhile like that.

You're right. I've wasted my life.

No, not at all. You've only wasted the last ten minutes or so you spent searching for that picture and imagining this imaginary argument between imaginary yous.

I guess.

You know I'm right. I'm you.

Yes, you are. I guess we know what we're talking about.


Should we move on then?


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kangaroos, Hangovers, and Con Men. New York, I love you.

Hello, readers.

I'm in a dick sort of mood. Which is not the sentence I meant to write exactly, but it is true that I just finished reading Jonathan Lethem's Gun, With Occasional Music and have started his later, more award-winning novel, Motherless Brooklyn. The first featured a sometime-in-the-future setting and evolved animals, like Joey Castle, a tough guy kangaroo with a wicked left kick and a surprising hesitance to shoot our hero. One of my favorite bits of the book was how it was a musical. The radio news broadcast in tubas and trumpets. Later, certain guns pulled from waistcoats triggered ominous violins.

Motherless has less kangaroos so far, but might be more satisfying. We'll see.

In other New York news, BB over at Facebook directed me, and everyone else who reads his wall posts, to Ephemeral New York, a blog of the city's history and, well, ephemera. Ephemera, by the way, is a friend of this blog. I use it in sentences all the time. For example, I might say, "I found the movie's ephemera, quite ephemeral."

On the blog, there are two stories of literary interest. One, is about Jack London's days of hobo-ing in City Hall Park.

The other is a story about the greatest con artist of 19th century New York. His name was Hungry Joe Lewis and one day he ran into Oscar Wilde. Who won? Were there witticisms? Go read. Find out.

Happy Friday. Don't forget Dollhouse.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Animated and Other Matters

Thursday, once Thor's Day, is now today and it's very blue and not very likely to thunder. Poor forgotten gods. Someone should write a book about them.

Holly Black wrote a book about faeries. It's fun.

In other news, here's a list.

1) An open letter to Joss Whedon asking why not continue being awesome in places that aren't named Fox who sometimes decide not to air your show during November sweeps? It makes some good points, considering the success of Dr. Horrible and The Guild in going the non-network route. Joss responds on Whedonesque. He's slightly less silly than usual. Hope he's okay.

2) A map of bookstores throwing Graveyard Book parties. The best one gets a visit from Neil himself.

3) Asterix, that lovable comic about Gauls and Romans and the French superiority/inferiority complex, is celebrating it's 50th anniversary. Bleeding Cool has a picture of the Portuguese version of the special issue being put out to commemorate the event. Here's an English cover if that's your thing.

4) French villages fight over who was the inspiration for an important village in Asterix. In place of actually fighting, though, the article says mostly villages do a lot of "claiming."

5) A collection of classic comics put together by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly. Most of the work collected comes from the funny books of the 40s and 50s. No word on whether any villages in France are fighting over this.

6) Thor at the bus stop.

7) ttfn.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

E-book Madness

Hello, readers.

As has been pointed out, the future is here. It may already be the past.

Barnes and Noble unveiled today their e-reader the Nook. It retails for $259, the same price as Amazon's Kindle. The Wall Street Journal has a write-up about it. Among it's nifty features include, unlike the Kindle, the ability "lend" your e-books to other Nookers. This lending is limited to 14 days, and only one person may read the e-book at a time, but still, fairly nifty and similar to how inkies are lent. No word on whether after fourteen days the lent book reverts to the owner or remains the property of your friend.

Also, Barnes and Noble plans to have specialness happen on your Nook when you wander into their store. Presumably, things like coupons, recommendations, and hopefully a scan-in app so that you can scan the bar code of books you'd like to buy or sample chapters.

In other e-book news, many things.

Thing 1) An e-book price war between Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Target.

Thing 2) The Times wonders whether people are reading more because of e-books.

Thing 3) Stephen Marche coins the term "transbook" as a more poetic term for e-readers. He gets a little Borgesian in his dreams of "a book that contains all books."

Thing 4) At the Rumpus, a small publisher writes about their reluctance to embrace digitial literature. He's not sure the future is all that now-ish just yet.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Miscellaneous Monday

Hello, readers.

This weekend, besides seeing the wild and run-filled wonder of Where the Wild Things Are, I caught a screening of Copyright Criminals. It's a film about music and sampling and the failure of copyright law to not be dumb.

You can read about the film here.

It was shown at the Nashville public library as part of the Independent Lens series. Afterwards, a panel discussed the film and took questions. The panel consisted of copyright lawyer, Lynn Morrow, the filmmaker Ben Franzen, and DJ Super Pimp Daddy. The panel was so arranged so that Ben sat between Lynn and Pimp Daddy. It happened that in the discussion this seemed particularly apt.

Fun fact: It's cheaper and easier to cover a song, than to sample it.

Good places to go and read about the issues include Lawrence Lessig's blog, Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Go here to see if Copyright Criminals is coming to a city near you. Of course, you can also wait until January when it will come to your house. But really, getting out is good for you. There are people and sometimes free coffee and cookies.

Oh, and also, Joss Whedon is directing one of the back 9 episodes of Glee. Guess I should watch that.

Happy Monday.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

And so you just ran...

Yesterday, Where the Wild Things Are opened. It is a story about a boy named Max that has adventures with muppets. A large part of this story is taken up by Max running, a montage of which appeared, along with Arcade Fire's "Wake Up," in the film's trailer. It was considered by many, by which I mean me and one of my friends, to be possibly the greatest trailer ever.

Thankfully, the movie doesn't disappoint. Max does indeed do a lot of running. And it is quite poignant. It occurred to me, somewhere about the fourth or fifth scene of Max running, that there's something of a tradition of meaningful running in film. I thought it would make a good blog post. And so, in no particular order, a look at a few cinematic jogs that fill me with a certain happy sadness, and one that makes me laugh.

1) Forrest Gump

"That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run."

2) Immortal Beloved

This one takes a bit to get to the running (~3:00), but be patient. The stars are worth the wait.

3) Chariots of Fire

The film that inspired otherwise sane people to break into slow motion running whenever they hear classical piano.

4) 400 Blows

I saw this in a cinema class in college. The movie didn't quite click until this happened. It is, I suppose, a spoiler, in that it is the end, but that's okay. It's just running. You don't learn who framed the rabbit or anything. I might be thinking of the wrong film.

5) Where the Wild Things Are

The aformentioned trailer featuring the aformentioned montage. Soon after this came out, I met the aformentioned friend at a bar. He said did you see the Where the Wild Things Are trailer. I said yes. And he said, "The running killed me. What is it about the running that kills me?" I said, I didn't know, but that it killed me, too.

I still don't know, and now I'm dead again. Alas.

Happy weekend, readers.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Of magicians, elephants, and the undead...

Hello, readers.

Very recently a book festival stopped by Nashville. It was the Southern Festival of Books. The thing took place at the state capitol, pretty much overtaking the legislative plaza, various serious looking committee rooms, and at least one War Memorial Auditorium. Many exhibitors were there, of which several I chatted to about, among other things, zombie superheroes, job openings, and the prevalence of verse in young adult fiction.

The New York Times Review and Oxford American booths were memorable for the very memorable sunglasses their boothees wore. The New York Times man wore a pair very sleek and shiny. The Oxford American girl wore a pair very big and slightly fluorescent.

Many cool authors attended the festival. Kevin Wilson, author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, wore a very Dilbert like outfit (patterned shirt, thin red tie) and read a funny story about late night hand-jobs and mayonnaise. Alex Beard and Elizabeth Dulemba, a pair of illustrators/writers, talked about iPhone apps, connecting with readers, and the proper amounts of ego and stubborness necessary to be a successful writer. Buzz Aldrin (a man who was on the moon!) was also at the festival, but I got lost in talking to Bob of The Tennessee Writer's Alliance about the aforementioned zombie superhero.

The best bits of the festival, though, were Kate DiCamillo and a panel called, "Young, Fanged, and Undead: Novels Teens Can Sink Their Into."

Ms. DiCamillo spoke in War Memorial Auditorium. It is a big place. It was full.

She read an essay about the first magic trick she ever saw. It involved her being very sick in a hospital, trees outside being very scary, and her father being the bearer of a model village made entirely from wood. There being a wooden church, a wooden moon, a wooden cow, and so forth. Everything was brightly colored and the same size. This made sense to her, Kate said, in her feverish state. The rooster being as big as the church, the pig as round as the moon.

"What if," her father asked, "if the rooster fell in love with the pig?"

"I don't know," Kate said. She didn't want to answer incorrectly.

"What would the farmer think?"

Kate thought about this. "He would be happy."


"Yes. He would want them to get married."

And so it went, Ms. DiCamillo making up a story in answer to her father's questions until he left and she was alone again, sick in a hospital outside of which there very scary trees. But it was okay now, because the whole world sat on the bed with her and she could ask herself as many what if's as she wanted. She could tell as many stories as she could imagine.

That was the first magic trick she ever saw.

She said her new book, The Magician's Elephant, was a book about a magic trick, which is to say it was a book about love, the greatest magic trick of all.

And then she finished her essay and people asked a lot of questions and Ms. DiCamillo answered them with a modicum of self-deprecation and just a hint of sarcasm. She was lovely.

A great many people, myself included, stood in line for an hour or so, waiting to say hello and thank you and have her sign our book. Come to think of it, this may have been the real, non-zombie related, reason I missed Buzz.

It was worth it.

Ah, and then there was the Young, Fanged, and Undead, a panel consisting of Daniel Waters, Melissa de la Cruz, and David MacInnis Gill, not to forget introducer Alethea Kontis who warmed up the audience with author bios that only occasionally bothered to be all that biographical. Little known fact about Daniel Waters, he once served in the Revolutionary War.

The audience was a fair mixture of kids, teens, parents, and adults of indeterminate origin (of which, I suppose, one could include myself). They asked many questions ranging from who's your favorite character to, "Besides Stephen King, which classic book is your favorite?"

"I didn't realize Stephen King was such a classic book," David MacInnis Gill said. "I'm too old, I guess."

Their answers. Mr. Gill: To Kill A Mockingbird. Mr. Waters: Infinite Jest and Cather in the Rye. Ms. de la Cruz: War and Peace.

Escapist fun, as you would expect.

It was light-hearted. The panel comradic. They riffed off each other and the questions in a manner I hadn't noticed at other panels. Perhaps that was because people here were not burdened by literariness and life, or maybe it's because I'm biased.

I asked the panel why they had an affinity for monsters.

Ms. de la Cruz mentioned Stephen King (as they all did), as well as the many fantasy and genre-ific books she read. Mr. Gill spoke of genre, as well, of what boundaries you could cross, what rules you could break. "You get to make up your own world," he said. He also admitted, as Mr. Waters, had earlier, of the satirical possibilities. "I put a message in my books and then hide it under demons and humor. Adults don't get it. They think it's escapist. But kids understand."

Mr. Waters responded that, at one point, while trying to write a book about the cruelty and violence of teenagers, he stared at the ceiling. He felt depressed. Burdened, you might say. It occurred to him that if zombies existed, they would not fair well in high school. The old Romero zombies, the voodoo zombies, he said, were slow and dumb and easily picked on. "If you had a baseball bat you were fine."

And so he wrote about zombies as his book's "Other." He found a way to be funny and serious at the same time. He was less depressed. "Zombies were a coping mechanism for me, I think," he said. "Also, they're cool."

Well, said, Mr. Waters. Well said.

Happy Friday, readers.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Boys and Balloons

Hello, readers.

For a brief period this afternoon, most of the twenty four hour news networks displayed footage of, purportedly, a six-year old boy trapped, or perhaps very purposely flying away, in his father's UFO shaped hot air balloon. It also took over Twitter. It reminded me of Flight of the Navigator. It reminded someone else I know of The Little Prince. That someone else garned six awesome points for this.

It happens that the balloon landed and the boy was nowhere to be found, which would lead one to believe, most likely, that he never got on. Perhaps. Some people believe it was a hoax, possibly involving the boy being part of a family featured on Wife Swap. Hopefully, wherever he is, he is safe and sound and, if at all possible, will have adventured many adventures worthy of illustration or 80s nostalgia.

Here are things of interest, and slightly less hot air.

The National Book Awards were announced. Fiction finalists include Colum McCann, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Marcel Theroux, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and Jayne Anne Phillips.

Kansas City Star interviews Michael Chabon about Manhood for Amateurs.

Mythmakers and Lawbreakers: Anarchist Writers on Fiction collects variously magnelephant writers like Alan Moore, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Michael Moorcock to discuss politics and fiction. "Basically, anarchy is in fact the only political position that is actually possible," says Alan Moore in his interview.

Charles Stross does not like Star Trek. He doesn't like that, as Ron Moore has pointed out, for the most part, the technology of warp drives, dylithium crystals, and hilariously malfunctioning transfomers, was beside the point. Apparently many scripts simply inserted the word "tech" as a noun, adjective, and/or verb (much like another four letter word) and waited for the science consultants to replace it with something appropriate. This doesn't bother me, though. Star Trek, like Star Wars, are essentially fantasy stories--speaking generically, that is. Same as Dune or Muppet Babies. Speaking sensically, of course, every story is a fantasy*.

Especially the ones with balloons.

Happy Thursday, readers.


*Yes, yes, I know. In Star Trek, Roddenberry had an idea of the future, of utopia, and the ideas of anti-matter and so forth are all, in some sense, possible, whereas, so far as we know, no matter how much we believe we can, we'll probably not be able to lift an X-Wing with the power of our mind. Except, of course, there is this.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Amusing and brief

King of an Endless Sky, for example, is amusing and brief and appears weekly. It's an online comic hosted by Tor. It's kind of like The Little Prince, if the little prince had a robot friend and lived on a planet with utopian-minded gerbils.

For another example, there is this.

ttfn, readers.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

So many things...

Things to do, to watch, to read, to listen to, to laugh at, to cry over, to repair, remember, lose, and then forget, and oh, look, a nice young girl has brought me food, what now I should eat.

Yesterday, Colbert sang a duet with The Mountain Goats. Sometimes he listens to Neutral Milk Hotel during commercial breaks what to psych himself up.

I just finished Maus, which has me saying "what" in places what are irregular.

It's chicken salad, slightly curried, plus other things I don't remember on a toasted sourdough bun. It smells nice.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chesnutts, Devils, and Other Holiday Favorites

In honor of October, and Tuesday, and the curly-haired girl who is currently sweeping around me with something very un-broomlike(it resembles a small box on wheels), here are magnelephant things to click on.

A.O. Scott discusses Three Kings, a film which came out ten years ago (1999) during one of the greatest years in movies in ever (Matrix, Fight Club, Sixth Sense...). Three Kings is one of the reasons why it was such a good year. It was directed by David O. Russel who went on to existentialism, and starred George Clooney who went on to be George Clooney. Marky Mark, Spike Jonze, and Ice Cube, also appear, and also all went on to become, more or less, who they are, except for Ice Cube who, sadly, became water.

The A.V. Club interviews Vic Chesnutt. Saw him live once in Oxford. He played with Elf Power. It was pretty cool.

Hilary Mantel wins the Man Booker Prize for her novel Wolf Hall, a nigh 600 page novel about Thomas Cromwell and the era of Henry VIII. The judges cited the "bigness of the book," among other things, as something they were impressed by.

Jenn Grant, whose Orchestra for the Moon is in my laptop and ears, at the moment, released a new CD on September 29th, called, Echoes. New obsessions, however fleeting or lasting they may be, are always fun.

House of the Devil, a film beloved by Harry at Ain't It Cool, is available at Amazon's On Demand for, as far as I can tell, free. If you're okay with commercials.

And that, I think, is that.

Happy Tuesday, readers.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Hello, readers.

It's gray out there. Or is that grey? I know one of them is British and one is not-British but I can never remember which one and also, I like British things so probably "gray" is British. Let's see...nope. Gray is the U.S. form. I've been assimilated at last. Oh, well.

Speaking of assimilated, saw District 9 yesterday. Was quite impressed at how they created a movie about "otherness" and "monsters" by crafting a patchwork movie equal parts horror, Frontline-esque documentary, sci-fi action/adventure, and love story. My sister expressed reservations to me about it before I saw it, but she didn't tell me why. I would imagine it was the action/adventure bit. She has trouble with stories that end in hero versus bad guy scenarios when she expects something more nuanced. (See end of Fellowship of the Ring: Aragorn versus Head Uruk-Hai.) I was wrong about gray, though, and could be wrong about this. Perhaps she has something against documentaries.

Elsewhere, Maud Newton posted a while back about the evolutionary, and possible writerly, advantages of depression. This person disagrees. Myself, I find depression a useful, greyish-tinged, troll who says dumb, sad, sometimes wise things about the universe. He speaks in a British accent, of course. He also lives under a bridge, as most depressed people do. His name is Steve.

This is what Douglas Adams' depression looked like.

Finally, free books! One of which has a maimed rabbit on it's cover.

Happy Monday.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Alex Was Born Blue

Two nights ago, I ventured out to Vanderbilt, for a film called XXY. It was a about a transex teenager named Alex who identifies, for the most part, as a girl, though she's beginning to wonder. Her mother asks a surgeon to come, which complicates matters, as it seems she's suggesting something be surgeoned--a course of action neither Alex, nor her father, are entirely comfortable with. Also, the surgeon complicates things because he brings a son.

XXY is a very beautiful, very quiet film. It takes place far away from anywhere, near an ocean and some trees. Alex spends a lot of her time wandering about the beach, and the woods, and only occasionally hiding under the porch, peering at incoming surgeons and their sons, looking for all the world like a bright-eyed, oddly thin, troll.

Alex is curious about herself, about visitors, and, being a teenager, about sex. She approaches the surgeon's son on the beach and discusses masturbation with him. She asks if he jerked off recently, and when he asks how could she know, she says she can tell. That she jacks off, too. The boy seems baffled a bit--though, to be fair, he possesses the sort of long, indrawn face that projects a sense of constant befuddlement with the world--but, eventually, he finds himself taken with this long-limbed, thin creature, who is not afraid to discuss masturbation with strange boys.

Alex's father is named Krakken. The movie begins with a person stalking the woods with a sword intercut with images of sea creatures. There is a subplot of giant sea turtles being caught in nets and sometimes killed (illegally) or mutilated (one presumes this is illegal, too). The movie lets these things be. It knows that much of the world, and Alex, too--who says as much at one point--believes people like her to be monsters. The sort that have been chased into hiding, sometimes killed, sometimes mutilated, because people would very much prefer things to be normal.

The movie has few true villains, though. There is the surgeon, a man dedicated to fixing people's flaws, whether they be crooked noses or scarred lips. He does not mind cutting people up, in response to Alex's question, because, he says, "It's my job." He later says something to his son that perhaps cements his being possibly an asshole, but the movie does not make a point of this, either. It is content to show people as people, more or less, who sometimes act like human beings and sometimes act, in the case of the surgeon's callous remarks to his son or a mob of boys on the beach, like monsters.

After the film, there was a long discussion led by Monica Casper, former director of ISNA, current teacher at Arizona State, about monstrosity, identity, sexuality, shame, the frequency of oddness, and what we mean by terms such as "condition" or "normal." When a student mentioned the father's name, Krakken, and wondered whether the movie wanted us to view Alex as a monster, Monica asked if he was a religious studies major. "Philosophy, actually." Monica said, "That makes sense."

It was a good discussion.

At some point, I think, I had meant to mention in this post something about Montreal's stop-motion film festival, and, perhaps, something about possible cinnamon rolls. Maybe next time.