Lake Whillans, one of hundreds of subglacial lakes and waterways in Antarctica, contains microbial life.
Considering conditions in such areas are meant to be similar to those found on Jupiter and Saturn’s moons (Europa and Enceladus, respectively), this could have interesting implications for exobiology as well.
Marred brilliance (a post in which I bitch about Les Mis).
I saw Les Misérables today, and had I not gone with Toby I would probably feel as though I’d wasted two and a half hours of the day.
The performances? Brilliant. The singing? Thoroughly enjoyable. The songs themselves? Good lord, I loved them.
But something was wrong. The initial wide landscape shots conveyed a vastness that I hoped would last through the movie—because, in a story spanning such a length of time, there needs to be a sense of scale. Themes have to be put across with the right emphasis; atmosphere needs to be built through, among other things, a setting which the audience is given time to appreciate via stillness and wide shots.
None of this happened, and I don’t know if many people noticed but personally it really dampened what could have been one of my favourite movies.
Those of you who walked out of the cinema feeling oddly disappointed—perhaps remarking quietly that the film went on for too long, or dragged in places, or simply felt off—may want to read Film Crit Hulk’s article on cinematography in the film (among other things). It’s a brilliant read.
I saw it yesterday and was surprised by the amount of added content. On one hand, things like Azog’s survival gave the film a nice sense of urgency which the book lacks, since there’s no atmosphere of impending doom as in the Fellowship; on the other, it all felt a little drawn out due to the amount of stuff going on.
The book always seemed to be telling a simpler story—or at least one smaller in its scope—than LotR. Having a trilogy of three-hour movies made sense there, since even then there was too much content to include everything. In this case, it’s adding bits to a story shorter than any one of the LotR books to make it fill the same format.
I suppose staying completely true to the book would’ve lent a lighter tone to the movie, since The Hobbit was written for children, and turning it into a full-blown epic trilogy is injecting it with some darkness—which actually balances its moments of levity very nicely, as opposed to being overbearing.
It may be an attempt to wring more money out of the franchise, but to be honest—as honest as I can without having seen a vaguer, lighter rendition of the movie—I prefer the end result here. Bring on the sequel.
I’ve considered deleting, but don’t want to lose my dashboard since I really do love the vast majority of blogs I follow. If your blog isn’t in that category, I suppose I just like your posts a lot. Boo hoo. Either way, know that I think you’re brilliant.
I will be deleting all of my posts, possibly omitting a few here and there depending on how I feel about them. This blog will then serve as a place for my personal posts, with less reblogged content than I currently have.
My writing will be kept in another place (which already hosts my recent work); if you’d like the URL before I’m finished deleting posts, picking a new theme, stopping halfway through one of those tasks and sleeping, and so on, send me an ask. Otherwise, my new description will probably link to the writing blog.
He stood alone on the balcony, scanning the empty street below for signs of movement. If the air had been wetter, well, it might have been a beautiful summer’s evening—which was odd, naturally, since the man’s watch read ‘25.9’. Or at least, it probably did if it was still working, the same way his calendar would corroborate it if he’d been home to flip the last page.
It was a cheap watch anyway, well worth the water he’d traded it for. Sure, it looked gold, but wasn’t worth enough to merit a visit to the police if he was, say, mugged. Or taken downtown, with an ambulance in tow that cradled the corpse of said mugger, for that matter. The man blinked twice, hard. It’s hard, thinking straight when your throat’s so dry. Idle thoughts and daydreams bred like mosquitoes over water you wished you had. He’d set up a system: whenever jumping off the balcony looked strangely appealing, he’d take a sip.
Trying to ignore the sandpaper glued to his insides, he cleared his throat loudly. A featherweight failsafe rested at the base of his bag: his last bottle, one-quarter full. It was for emergencies, he’d told himself for the last day—but what was this, if not an emergency? A tired old man, too close to seventy for comfort, slowly dying in an apartment.
He’d already searched the place twice over; the block hadn’t been much to look at before, and most of the flats he’d broken into were bare, their taps dry and toilets empty. Through a haze of thirst, it had seemed ideal, a place where he could rest for a few days. The firing started that night.
It’s late, and I plan on sleeping soon—as opposed to lying awake, and waiting, wondering at the masses of stardust in our blood and how thoroughly unremarkable it makes us. Anything, anyone, will glow and glimmer if you’re desperate enough.
So you present your arm, to a beguiling vampire, and their teeth pass clean through flesh only to pierce the soul and suck it til you’re frigid. And when they call, after that first time, the light all but dies in your irises without a glance at the sun and stars.
It was twilight, when the darkness fell like smoke to bleed across the horizon and saturate the dying sun, and I could barely stand with her face clamped to my forearm like the best kind of vice. She filled me with her blackness as the faintest breath of a new moon tore itself free of the light and into the night, sucking life away from my heart. Her pulse shone out from her lips, straight into my veins themselves, as her kiss stole me away to velvety bliss with my own scarlet droplets. And it burned, deep inside, with a naked warmth I could liken only to love.
A man and woman, whom I saw in a mall once, have buried themselves inside my head. They’re cunningly entrenched, close enough to the foreground for me to know their presence, yet too far for me to understand it—like some dimensional chimaera etched by Escher himself, contrived to be slicked over by presumptuous eyes.
He stood close to seven feet tall, and next to him the woman looked small, and frail. And yet an onlooker couldn’t help but wonder how her child-like bones remained unshattered by whatever roaring dynamo powered them, for she moved with a terrific sense of motion, eyes straight ahead. The man, by comparison, meandered, lumbering left and right behind her as a great pack of muscle tore at his shirt with each gentle turn. He kept up with her violent stride by virtue of his legs, which were almost twice as long as hers.
Once, when their paths aligned momentarily, I looked at them and mistook him for a silhouette, his great black body a mere extension of her deathly-pale one, imprinted upon the air she left behind. And, in a way, there was some truth in that.
You saw it, every time he looked at her: a longing betrayed by his eyes, his suddenly-softening eyebrows and undecided mouth, twisting into a half-smile without the happiness or humour that smiles are made to frame. His eyes followed her as if she was already gone, an apparition of what he needed—as if she was fragile enough to shatter with a misplaced step, raining glass down on his desolation.
I sometimes wish I’d watched longer, or even worked up the courage to talk to one of them, just to find out what had made them so, and how they’d found each other in the first place. It seems like a more interesting story than any I’m capable of writing. No matter how hard I think about them, I still can’t invent a plausible tale. Who could?
It was a sight more beautiful and lonely than every shitty shot of sepia-scented rain in the world. He was a Colossus—one of the most physically-imposing men I’ve ever seen—made downcast and powerless by a glass figurine.
He’d wanted to be a pianist, in the same way small children paste their likenesses into sports stadiums. That is, the dream had popped into his head fully-formed one day, when he was too young to know what ‘conviction’ meant and too poor to afford school shoes, let alone a piano.
Somehow, it had stayed in his head long after the other children’s pitches had turned into offices and the screaming fans on their bleachers gave way to Occupy Wall Street. Then again, it wasn’t that surprising. There’s a pull, when you’re from a comfortable household, towards the dusty, musty and white-collared—no household, no pull. And with no cubicle-bound future lined up for him, all there was to think about was music. In many ways it was a blessing, the piano in his head—when the realisation hit that he’d never do better than waiting tables, there was no room for sadness amongst the harmonies.
With blackest eyes buried inside ditches of jelly, wonderful white-grey jelly dotted with flecks of manganese oxide like tiny land mines, the face above the trench coat smiled its sleepy little smile. It radiated the kind of beatific happiness achievable only by the dreaming, the insane and the intoxicated—and in a funny sort way, the puny man in his ragged clothes was all three.
Nothing could mesmerise him like this, like blending delicately-flavoured molecules with the exacting flair of a culinary perfectionist. Each compound had its own bonding, its own behaviour and purpose, and the man knew them all well enough to interleave their reactions as complex aromas in expensive restaurants, one flowering out from the centre of another.
And yet, even crowned with hydrogen-sulphate jus, his little cylinders with their monochrome filling couldn’t dream of matching what went on in the man’s own body. He’d always wondered how people could live without marvelling at the hypnotic flows of chemicals inside them, carrying out intricate functions in infinite loops. The world, he often concluded, was a strange place.
The little man—who was not technically dwarf, but could pass for one while wearing flats—pressed a layer of platinum foil over the top of each one, and secured it with a rubber band. Two bands, in fact—better to be safe than hurtling through the air in at least four pieces. Finally, he covered the cylinders with grey plastic caps, such that they resembled large film canisters to the naked eye.
Flashing one last, bright smile through yellowing teeth at his creations, the man carefully packed each one in its own paper bag before entrenching the bundles in a worn satchel. His hand was still gloved when it landed on the doorknob. Leaving prints wasn’t an option, if he planned on enjoying home cooking much longer.
The candlelight fell across her face in golden flecks, rising up to roar in her face as the flames caught. Leaving the pile of dry twigs and paper to be consumed, she ran out onto the balcony. The ladder was half-rotten, almost beyond use—it was a miracle the wind hadn’t taken it away—but luck was with her tonight.
A smirk sparked across her mouth, caught on something inside her. Fire had always done that for her. Nothing else could light up her tarry irises; nothing but flames could draw the warmth in that smile up into her eyes and heat her heart to its flash point.
Her precise little battery of fire starters couldn’t have spread flames across the dusty floorboards so quickly, but she could’ve sworn, before slinging her leg over the balcony rail, that she felt the heat at her back. Some thoughts are beguiling enough to reach straight into the soul; the fire was like that. The thought of long swans’-necks of heat reaching up to the stars, spreading white-hot wonder through every room of the abandoned house, kept her warm.
She began the climb down, testing each rung with her foot. Once she reached the bottom, the girl sat at the edge of the garden, curled into her knees against the chilly wind, hands crowded around her candle. A light in an upstairs window caught her eye, and she smiled.
When words can be appointed and sentences strung with minimal effort by the phenomenal and the insane, it’s awfully sad that none of us can completely define ‘writing’.
Because we like to play God, in both senses: to feel omnipotence in one’s veins and fulminate chains of crackling, white-hot phrases onto each page—and to escape, become invisible; in effect, to cease existing for a time. Again, like God, who must be an awfully important idea for its name to coerce a capital ‘g’ from the fingers of a stoic heathen.
Because writing will take on your face and your tongue, encapsulate your comparatively fragile mind and strip it of intention, of fervour, of every trace of your being lining the face of your cells, and stamp it in deadpan rows across blank paper, whether you like it or not.
Every mind is miles beyond and behind its adjacents, occupying different planes in different ways—and the sour-faced corporate buzz-word here, boys and girls, is ‘different’. However tired we are of hearing it, there’s no disputing it—and yet nothing stopping sad little teenagers on the internet—well, one sad little teenager—from harping on about it all.
If one sought to plot each brain on some sort of ineffably complex graph, it would likely have more axes than there are conflicts and confluences between molecules in the universe.
And that leads us to the most satisfying irony of language. Every word can be defined and used precisely, yet each interpretation from a stupidly huge number of places is new, in ways too tiny and subtle for human eyes and gigapixel surveillance cameras to pick out. So, in short, we’ll never be able to agree on anything, bloody anything, let alone what writing is.
There’s stillness pervading the darkling air, hanging heavy, enough to smother each serrated susurration, through jackals’ teeth, each stillborn sigh through tall grass’ hair; with break of day, the whispers cease, wind pinned under the stark sun’s glare.
And with the rising sun there bleeds, a touch of tone and vibrancy into the ageless, age-old scenery; who knew such hues of blues, yellows and greens could lend themselves so well to drudgery? (Befitting the surrounding plains, it seems: too grey for even meek idolatry.)
And with the waxing of midday, the ebbing dawn, retiring under mothy veils, relents, content to blow away —on minute wings, too small to loft its weight— a butterfly in Oscar-winning grey.
Perhaps something of interest might occur? Some wondrous collision of circumstance and the will of nature? Outside of our vision, perhaps.
For in the frame of meter’s eye, all we might see is hopelessly mundane —too empty for the risen sun to bring about some commotion; one’s moved to sigh, and wonder why you’d string verses ‘round sleepy plains.