Showing posts with label squid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label squid. Show all posts

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A single protein found on the surface of squid egg capsules will instantly transform a placid cephalopod into a eight-armed undersea terror, scientists discover.


To be fair, I was never that placid. Link via JWB.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I WANT TO LIVE IN A BATHYSQUID: OK so I have inchoate problems with "steampunk" as a thing--even though you could argue that the fantasy novella was influenced by that whole aesthetic, since it's kind of late-nineteenth-century England with magic and without colonies, which is four whole kinds of problematic--but this specific movie... this is something I predict that I will love with a stupid love.

Via DLB.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"That squid is there for one reason, and that's to push its right-wing conservative agenda," Denver, CO viewer Mary Foley said.
--The Onion, "900-lb. Giant Squid Joins Cast of 'The View'"

Friday, October 10, 2008

THE SQUID STAYS IN THE PICTURE: Comics reviews! These are a) not all the comics I've read lately--I really don't have anything to say about Cable & Deadpool except "that was fun!" or Deadpool Classic except "wow, Rob Liefeld is really as awful as everyone said!"; b) not all the comics I've read lately--the very best one will get its own post; and c) in order of how well they satisfied the expectations with which I approached them, from least to most. So this is a mix of superheroics, art comics, and in-betweens.

Let's go!

Iron Man: War Machine. As Edward Gorey says, "About the Zoat, what can be said? There was just one, and now it's dead."

I thought this comic was from the early 1980s--you know, the part where it was still kind of the '70s--until someone dropped a reference to "Hammer Time" and I checked the dates and sat there gobsmacked that this kind of tomfoolery was still going on in the 1990s! The art is action-superhero standard, the exposition is in that awful no-fun place in between Stan Lee wigginess and Grant Morrison/Fabian Nicieza-style pseudo-science macguffinry, there's just no style or flair to this at all. Also, when they go to Asia? The Japanese corporate type has a carved dragon on his desk. For reals. You can almost hear the gong in the background!

Ultimate Iron Man. Orson Scott Card pens a rather strange origin story, involving genius children (you're shocked I know) and what I think is a doomed attempt to get around the racial-politics problems of the "Iron Man and his black sidekick War Machine" setup. It isn't awful, but I don't think there's anything here that I want to incorporate into my own personal fantasy version of what an awesome Iron Man origin story would look like. (And Tony's alcoholism gets a cartoonish "Jekyll and Hyde via pseudoscience" treatment--I'd almost prefer the usual maudlin angst!)

The art is fine. It's sleek. It's not great.

The Museum Vaults. A comic commissioned by the Louvre (for real), exploring the nature of art, art history, collection, copying, and similar museum-related concerns. I think they were aiming for somewhere in the Steven Millhauser-to-Borges spectrum, but fell into that trap where people think that because you're saying something in comics, you don't have to be as innovative as if you were doing prose--the perception that the medium itself makes something innovative. I don't think I got anything from this really.

On the other hand, it really did handle a lot of interesting topics, if only glancingly. It's entirely possible that I was reading this too shallowly, and a more enthusiastic reader would find it more provocative. Maybe leaf through it in your local comicopia and see what you think....

Catwoman: Crooked Little Town. I... had no investment in the Catwoman mythos/brand, going in, and I still don't. So I'm not sure how to review this really. It did not convert me? If you don't need that, maybe it's awesome?

The pictures are faboo, especially the very lovely ladies! Tons of eye candy, in that neato keen animation-y style you can see on the cover. The story is a reasonably satisfying pulp crime tale. There's one unexpected twist at the end where Catwoman was surprisingly ruthless. (Surprising to me, anyway.) There are bonus lesbians if that helps.

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, Dangerous, and Unstoppable. This is Joss Whedon's X-Men, which means if you want to read them you probably already have. I'll say that they haven't replaced Morrison as my intro-to-X-Men comics. They're interesting while they last, and yes, a lot of the dialogue is fun. And I like Emma and Scott as a couple, so that particular aspect doesn't bother me, although I don't know that Whedon really gets the most out of the two of them. If you are one of the people who are troubled by the way Whedon dispatches his female characters who aren't Buffy, AXM will give you a fairly important additional piece of evidence there, via a really startling plot twist which seems to give one X-Woman a truly awful send-off. (This being the X-Men, she might already be back for all I know--I'm not caught up.)

Anyway, for me, that plot twist was definitely not a reason to complain about the series. It was the most memorable thing that happened in these volumes. It's a shocking twist with a real old-school sf/horror feel to it. So I am going to get over my general unsympathy for Whedon's work, and especially his brand of feminism, and say that I liked this twist a lot.

That Salty Air. Another one I'm not entirely sure how to review. It's a deeply personal fable about grieving, set in a poverty-stricken seaside area and on the sea itself. I picked this up because several things about it were evocative for me: the rough-hewn faces, the title (which I really love), the idea of grief as the sea--you have to go out there, you can try to attack it, in the end you must be reconciled to it, and even when you appear to have returned to land its salt and sharpness still pervade your life.

The problem is that I knew all of that going in, and I'm not sure how much the book added to it. Given how personal this project clearly is, I may just have been the wrong person to read it--again, I'd suggest checking it out if you are interested. But for me... the ocean-monster scenes, especially, weren't unearthly or horrific enough. I didn't get enough sense of the sea as somehow both familiar and alien, the sea creatures as monstrous and yet not really malevolent. I wanted more squid, is what I'm saying.

I only just now realized, typing this, that the fisherman and his wife in the book stand in parallel to the artist, making a profession of the journey out onto the sea of grief. That's kind of awesome.

The Order: The Next Right Thing and California Dreaming. The best new superteam since the X-Statix! So, of course, it was swiftly canceled. I hate you too, Marvel.

Anyway, these are two very fun volumes, featuring a California-based superhero team led by Tony Stark's AA sponsor; Pepper Potts; and a scary PR lady. The situations are fun and interesting, the dialogue improves even cliched storylines (the Britney-a-like who gets empowered [get it? get it?] could've been painful to watch, but instead she gets awesome lines like, "Oh my God, I'm fighting a bear, y'all! I'm punching a bear in the face!"), and the characters are extra double super sympathetic. I liked all of them, I think. This comic earns its "ordinary people are the true heroes" shtik. (Also, the AA stuff doesn't feel fake to me and definitely isn't maudlin or exploitive--cf. the title of the first volume--which is more than I can say for some people's comics, Orson Scott Card.)

The art is fine; you won't notice it, but you definitely won't hate it.

Mad Night. A ridiculous, creepy romp! Murders are taking place on an isolated college campus, and the only people who can solve the crimes are a foul-mouthed girl detective and her wimpy photographer sidekick! Add in lady pirates, youth elixirs, owls, dungeons, evil puppets, evil children, and really awesome character designs (from the Betty-and-Veronica pinup chix to the shivery warped features of the baddies), and you have a very fun little genre cocktail. Yum yum.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Fiction that unlike New Weird, Steampunk, or Slipstream, is at its core not only about squid, but about the symbolism of squid as color-changing, highly-mobile, alien-looking, intelligent ocean-goers. As a powerful ecosystem indicator, the squid is a potent symbol for environmental rejuvenation. Squidpunk is almost exclusively set at sea and must contain some reference to either cephalopods or to anything that thematically relates to squid, in terms of world iconography and tropes. Squidpunk is never escapist or whimsical. It is always serious and edgy. This combination of a hard punk aesthetic with the fluid propulsion system common to the squid has produced a unique literary hybrid beloved by Mundanes and Surrealists alike.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

MEMORIES OF THOSE SWEET YESTERDAYS, SPENT WITH SQUID: Oh hey! My short story, "Retroactive Continuity," is online!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

SCHRODINGER'S SQUID IS THE GAYEST SQUID. I have a short story, "Retroactive Continuity," in the current issue of Doublethink. It's the one about the netsuke squid. (Inspired by an anecdote from Maggie Gallagher's Abolition of Marriage, by the way.) The story doesn't seem to be online, but I'll let you know if that changes.

(something vaguely resembling an explanation of the post title here)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

KITCHEN ADVENTURES: PACK YOUR KNIVES AND GO! OK, so I'm a total geek, and decided to do modified, cheapjack versions of some of the challenges from "Top Chef." Thus far none of them have turned out ridiculously well, so I'm also giving you guys a bonus adventure at the end, from several months ago....

season 1, episode 1, "signature dish": I... don't have one, you know? I just cook stuff. So I made spicy squid with capellini. I blanched 1/4 lb. squid (boil water, dump in squid, cook 30-40 seconds, dump into colander and rinse in very cold water--yes, should be ice water, but as we've discussed, my freezer doesn't work). Then sliced the bodies into rings, melted butter in a pan with lime juice, cooked the squid in the lime butter with minced garlic, chopped plum tomato, cayenne, black pepper, possibly cumin?, and a hint of cinnamon, and ate it with the angel hair pasta and more butter.

the verdict: Better luck next time! I think the problem here was that I made too much pasta, and/or didn't cook the pasta in the sauce. When I could taste the lime and squid and cinnamon, it was delicious!--but those flavors got overwhelmed by the starch. I'm terrible at judging how much capellini to make. Using a broth of some kind, ideally something like lime-garlic-jalapeno(-shrimp?) stock made with a cinnamon stick, might also have helped.

s1, e4: gas station: The challenge was to make a dish using only things you could buy at a gas station, plus dried herbs and spices. My apartment building has a very well-stocked convenience store, so I raided that, but tried to confine myself to things I might plausibly find at a less-well-stocked gas station.

So I made a croissant sandwich with Munster cheese and spicy black beans. I cooked canned beans with cayenne, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, a bit of curry powder, and I think a bit of chili powder, then cut the croissant in half lengthwise, topped the halves with cheese slices, and toasted it in the toaster oven. Then filled the sandwich with the black beans.

verdict: The beans were great! But I knew they would be. That combination of flavors is hard to ruin. The croissant, on the other hand... didn't work, at all. I'd hoped it would crisp on the bottom, with the melted cheese on top. Instead, it got soggy and limp.

s1, e2: fruit plate: This was really supposed to be a challenge about "knife skills." I have the hand-eye coordination of a monkfish. So I just tried to use fruits and cheeses that would taste good together. I used a pink lady apple, an Asian pear, some goat gouda, some Parrano (a nutty, grainy, delicious yellowy-orangey cheese), and some Morbier. I also tried out black pepper and balsamic vinegar on the fruit.

verdict: Hmmm. The fruit went really well with the Parrano (and also the pepper; not so much the vinegar). Fruit + goat gouda was okay. The Morbier was too stinky for me, and not nearly stinky enough for my cheese-loving snacking companion.

I think the leftovers here would've been really good in scrambled eggs. I ended up not doing that, but I think if you diced the fruits, the Parrano, and the gouda, you'd be ready to go.

and now, success: Whiskey Pork with Apples & Onions. I made this a while ago, as I said, so I don't really remember how long I cooked everything. Besides which, my oven doesn't always seem to work the way recipes think it should--sometimes it cooks much faster than predicted--so I tend to play it by ear, check up on the food and stir it and so forth.

Anyway, this is what I did: Turned oven to 375. Thickly sliced a red baking apple. Covered a baking tray with foil. Laid the apple slices on the tray, doused them with Jack Daniels, peppered them, added cayenne I think (possibly I only added cayenne to the pork--as you may have noticed, I'm crazy about it), and cooked for maybe ten, twenty minutes. Then stirred the apple and added two pork loin... chops? The things you get at the store that say "pork loin on sale." A bit more whiskey, more pepper, cayenne. Back into the oven. Cookity for ten to fifteen minutes, while chopping a peeled medium onion into big chunks. Turned the pork, stirred the apple, added the onion. Cookity for fifteenish minutes more. Stirred, tasted; it was ready. Consumed!

verdict: Oooh this was good. Moist, porky, whiskeyed, peppery, sweet. I microwaved the leftovers for lunch the next day and it was still fantastic. This is obviously more of a wintry, comfort-food dish, but I'm going to keep it in the repertoire, for sure.

I received some help from Cooking with Booze.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"THUS WE KNOW THE SQUID'S SECRET GENDER.": Sexual Personae. I'm developing a theory that you can tell more about a work of literary criticism by what doesn't appear in its index than by what does. One tendril of this theory posits that any lit-crit work is fundamentally unsound if it devotes more than two sentences to de Sade and not a one to Pauline Reage (our true nouvelle Heloise). I find both the theory and its subtheory ( to speak) vindicated by Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae, a big, weird, brilliant, silly book that sometimes seemed more lacuna than presence.

This is a big-idea book, revolving around the opposition of mother-nature-chaos and son-reason-linearity-order. (And yes, I know that's an oversimplification, but I'm trying to give people some sense of what they're getting into, here....) Each of the sexual personae turns out to be one attempt among many to negotiate or conquer this opposition.

If you want to get the best of this book, I'd suggest starting with the chapters on Spenser and Dickinson and then seeing if you want more. I really love both authors, and was not sure I wanted Paglia getting her lipstick all over them, but her readings in those chapters are terrific--violent, erotic, brash, but always rooted firmly in the awesome texts. I think there may have been one minor problem with the Spenser chapter--it's been almost a month since I finished the book, so I may be misremembering, but I vaguely recall insufficient attention being paid to The Faerie Queene as a narrative progression rather than a series of episodes or incidents--but in general, these were fantastic, challenging chapters.

Paglia is better at picking her battles than many academics working the same Everything Is Either Phallic Or Vaginal territory. Several times, I found myself saying, "Oh, c'mon, you're just being trendy with that reading--this bit really isn't about daemonic lesbians or whatever"... but then she'd quote a few more passages from the same work, and I'd have to say, "Uh... you know, she's kind of on to something here." That didn't always happen--her reading of De Profundis as Wilde's sentimental return to his mommy is just infuriatingly bad, more on this in a moment--but it happened often enough that I'd say she earned the benefit of the doubt with me.

My real problem with Paglia, I think, is that she and I consider different things interesting and important--worth taking the time to explore on their own terms and as fully as possible. I summarized this to Ratty as, "She'll go to the mat for the belief that cats have rich inner lives, but she doesn't seem to think the Crucifixion is worth talking about."

I'm pretty sure her lack of attention to the Crucifixion is related to her disdain for King Lear ("obvious"--well, yes, Camille, torture is generally obvious, that's kind of the point of torture) and to the bathos of her utterly annoying misreadings of Wilde. (I will say that her take on The Importance of Being Earnest is fun and mostly right. Her failure, which is large but not devastating, is that she doesn't take the play as a narrative of conflict and resolution. Paglia points out lots of interesting things about that conflict, but she swerves around the fact that it is resolved, and that it would be a much less satisfying play without that resolution.) Paglia's unwillingness to consider suffering and powerlessness as points of view is as ideological as any Randroid's. You can see it in her oh-so-edgy approving use of the term "fascism"--seriously, lady often sounds like a repressed homosexual with a crush on a skinhead, and it's not a good look for her--and it genuinely warps her criticism.

I feel like I should mention the strenuous overwriting, so... here I am, mentioning it. "The real honeyed crotch in which we all drown is the womb-tomb of mother nature"--that's a completely random example from the page opposite the squiddess--there's one of those on every other page, and you just have to resign yourself to it. I'm tempted to say that this stuff got into the book because Paglia was trying to import the techniques of classroom performance into writing, and written lit-crit requires different performance techniques; not sure if I'm giving her too much credit, there.

...Finally, the title of this post is entirely within context. Respect, y'all.

Comments, criticisms, howls of execration? Email me with your chthonic and/or fascist insights....