03/30/11

Demented zombie child

So, I thought I’d make a minotaur giving a little girl a piggy-back. No sweat, right? The minotuar himself isn’t a problem. He’s still in a rough state, but I know I can finish him ok. The girl, on the other hand…

wax_mino1a

wax_mino2

wax_mino3

I tried to fix her face and think I just made it worse:
wax_girl1

wax_girl2

She was definitely better when her mouth wasn’t open so far. I want her to look happy and excited, but not so much like she wants to eat brains. Stu suggested I play to my strengths and just have her as a zombie — a minotaur giving a little undead girl a ride. I know the green wax isn’t the problem, since I’ve seen figures in green wax that don’t look like zombies at all…

Added teeth and played with the mouth:
wax_girl3

wax_girl4

Well, at least now she can bite and chew.

Now I’ve painted her face with turps (a tip from my teacher) to smooth it out. It looks better, but I think I need to redo her eyes. They looked better with the shape they had before, or at least one of them did. She’s pretty small — her face is about 2cm across, so it’s all fiddly. I’ve ordered some tools, including a pointy dental tool, so maybe I should wait until they arrive. Hopefully they’ll be better than the toothpick and paring knife I’m using at the moment — though I think the problem is more with me than the sticks and picks!

Eddyway, the turps fumes seem to have helped clear my nose.

ETA: I think that instead of continuing to fiddle with this head I should make another head and see if I can make it any better, and if so, swap them.

ETA2: Well, I didn’t take my own advice, I fiddled with the eyes some more. I got them into a better position, not so buggy. Now she looks perhaps a little like Anthony Hopkins. Evil! But maybe a girl riding a minotaur should look evil? In which case I could stick a bandit’s mask and scarf on her, and be done with this facial farnarkling!

03/28/11

The shrine

It’s confirmed, I asked a neighbour and the shrine at the end of the street is for the god of the local land, who brings happiness and good luck to the households on her turf. The neighbour referred to the god as “she”, so maybe Chinese land deities are female? I’ll try to find out. This woman’s English was pretty good, so unless I learn otherwise I’ll assume the god is a lady.

The weather’s been weird. The forecast for today until Wednesday is unbelievable for summer: 16-22, 17-21, 18-24. Those would be cold days even in winter. On Thursday it’s meant to get back to 33. I’ve had flu. I thought I’d beaten it, but it has ideas about coming back as a chest infection. I’m trying to make that not happen, but I’ve already hoicked up some fine celadon-green gunge this morning and my ribs hurt. On the other hand, I feel a lot more at home here when the weather’s cold and dry. It’s surprising what a difference it makes!

Last night I dreamed I was eating chips made of magic mushrooms that would cause, among other effects, hallucinations of cane furniture. And sure enough, they did. I hallucinated a white cane chair in my dream.

I was listening to so much music yesterday that when I lay down in bed all the songs I’d been listening to seemed to spawn new songs in my head, which was fun. On the subject of songs, the other night Stu heard Metallica lyrics at 4 a.m. No music, just the lyrics, apparently sung well, as if someone was playing the album but somehow only the voice was audible. Strange, as is the fact that I’m about to slouch out in a coat and scarf to buy cough medicine. I don’t even know why I have a scarf in my wardrobe here. I must have bought it as a souvenir somewhere.

Some time later: well, the medicine did nothing, but an asthma spray produced results. And not green, either, which is encouraging. My mystery plant has a mystery fruit, and I’m craving pizza. Horse guy has gone to the foundry to be turned into hard wax that I can fiddle with a bit before casting in metal, and I’ve got five or six other figures sitting around in various states of incompletion. They’re all smaller than horse guy, as I want to try to sell my work, and smaller and thus cheaper seems the intelligent way to go.

It’s cold out there. It’s almost cold in here. I keep sneezing. The frangipani looks sulky. I wish I wasn’t sick, so that I could go out again and frisk around in the unwontedly fresh air, which is the colour of the aspic my cat’s sardines used to be in.

ETA: Well, I think I avoided the chest infection. But I’ve got a disgusting cold and it’s too late in the day to take the magic sinus blaster. To quote the ever-quotable Withnail, I feel like a pig shat in my head. I should stop pretending that by sitting here I’m going to eventually, by some natural progression of events, start doing some work. I shall stop complaining and slink off to curl up with Kindle and cuppa, with a spare cup for spitting in, and hopefully I can manage not to confuse them. Either that or sit here like a scallop watching highlights from 80s movies.

03/27/11

The Bible-black grave

I’ve had a bit of a thing for dark and spooky country music ever since I was a kid listening to Johnny Cash at my grandparents’ place and I heard Ghost Riders in the Sky. Of course, let it not be forgotten that Australia’s favourite folk song is a yarn, frequently set to sweet and swollen strings with the national flag flying in the background, about a bloke who drowns himself rather than be caught for stealing a sheep (and whose ghost lingers on, pining eternally for the sheep, a magnificent ram with balls like this. Anyway…)

Christian Read turned me on to Ghoultown, from which I waltzed to some other bands in the gothic country vein, or whatever you call it. Here’s 13 variously melancholy, vengeful and batshit songs that I recently found and liked:

Sons of Perdition:
Blood in the Valley (I can’t stop listening to this)
All He Wants Is My Blood
Anhelo
Burial at Sea

Those Poor Bastards:
Sick and Alone
Swallowed By Sin (my new favourite song for in the shower)
Glory Amen (Hallelujaaargh!)
At the Crossroads

Ghoultown:
Walkin Through the Desert (with a crow)
Drink with the Living Dead
These guys get harder and more metall-y, but I like their country-horror stuff.

Lonesome Wyatt and Rachel Brooke:
Someday I’ll Fall
Crippled Farms

Redwest (spaghetti western metal!):
Fistful of Dollars

And I might have to post another 13 soon.

Band/artist websites
Ghoultown
Sons of Perdition (one man band, Zebulon Whatley)
Those Poor Bastards (two man band, Lonesome Wyatt and The Minister)
Lonesome Wyatt
Rachel Brooke
Redwest

03/26/11

Aurealis and Ditmar short lists

The finalists for the Aurealis and Ditmar awards have been announced. Thrilled to see Baggage on the Ditmar short list for best collected work, and Tessa Kum’s great story Acception, from Baggage, in the best novella/novelette category. Trent Jamieson, my original awesome editor on The Etched City, is on the list for a best novel Ditmar and both a best fantasy novel and best horror novel Aurealis for Death Most Definite. I’m also chuffed to find The Heart of a Mouse in the Aurealis best science fiction short story category. Congratulations to all the nominees!

03/26/11

Bangkok 8.30 a.m.

Because you asked for more!

It’s one of those quiet sleepy mornings. No weather dramas, and a little on the cool side. Summer so far has had less bite than usual. There’s an ancient, comfortable smell in the air: charcoal burning in a pot. Sometimes the morning air smells of incense, as there’s a little shrine at the end of the street. The shrine is red with gold Chinese writing outside and in (except us and another Westerner, everyone in the street seems to be Chinese, whether Chinese-Thai or recently arrived), an incense pot, a vase of bamboo, and cups for offerings. It’s also decorated with pretty little gilded paper objects, and peacock feathers. I had been assuming that the shrine was for ancestors and departed loved ones, but I’ve read that the similar shrines you see in houses represent the god who controls the land the house was built on, so perhaps the one in the street stands for the whole street’s divine landlord. I’ve seen a few of these little closed lanes, each with its shrine — they’re like little communities, and I think they used to always have gates. Some still have the gates; ours just has the posts left. There’s still a lot I don’t know about how people live, and used to live, here. So far I’ve been too shy to bother the neighbours with questions, but I really shouldn’t be, as the neighbours are quite talkative, especially the old ladies who seem to make up half the population of the street.

The market by the skytrain station is busy. Food, clothes, jewellery, knick-knacks. A lady comes down the pavement pushing a trolley with a box on it. On the trolley and in the box are three small dogs and a cat. One or two of the dogs are in coats, and the cat, standing on its hind legs next to a dog in the box, is resplendent in a knitted leotard and a strand of pearls. Its expression seems weary and bewildered, as if in its head is the thought that reincarnating as a pet cat seemed like a good idea at the time, and it can’t understand why things went so wrong. But maybe I’m projecting incorrectly and the cat’s demeanour is merely one of aristocratic ennui.

Unrelated quote of the day: “One does not simply headbang into Mordor.”

03/23/11

Bangkok 6 a.m.

The sky’s the colour of a TV tuned to a dead channel and covered in more sawdust than a saloon floor (well, you’d need more sawdust than that to cover the sky, wouldn’t you?). Suddenly the stagnant hot-season air gets off its sweaty arse and starts to move. I’m wide awake because some depraved individual decided that 4.30 in the morning was an appropriate time to use a power tool, and I didn’t get back to sleep. Warm wind, humid like a dog’s breath, rips the frangipani blossoms off and throws them at the neighbours. It rips blossoms off the neighbours’ plants and throws them at us. Plik, plik, tender vanguard of rain. Then it’s time to get indoors as the sawdust washes off and the rain falls like watery rocks and the thunder bangs pan-lids in the sky. Up on the roof-space for about 20 seconds to feel the cool mist of the rain blowing over the balcony before fear of lightning drives me indoors again. I don’t know what happens if you’re under a tin roof with metal supports when lightning strikes — maybe you just see all the metal light up — but I don’t want to find out. Expecting the power to have gone off by now, but it hasn’t. (Why couldn’t it have gone off at 4.30?)

6.30 and the sun is up somewhere out there. The clouds are eau-de-nil and the lightning’s pink. I check the balcony to make sure the dranpipe isn’t clogged, but it seems to be fine. Open the balcony door, since I don’t think mosquitos are going to be flying through this. The rain blows past the window, rippling like the coat of some ghostly grey beast. Outside again. Nope, there’s an insect hovering under the eves. Shut the door. At least the windows have fly wire. Water droplets slide down the pergola on a conveyor belt. The light is cyan, like someone fiddled with the colour balance.

The storm’s moved on. I’m going up on the roof to take the air. It’s only supposed to hit 30 today, but it’s already 29, so not sure about that forecast. But we had a weird cold snap a week ago — found myself wearing a jacket and socks.

And the air is good. More pink lightning, a spiky curl that looks like one of these. But distant. Birds and neighbours emerge. Looking down onto the balcony below, I see that one of my mystery plants is getting flowers again. Here’s a photo in case anyone knows what it is:

plant1

Then there’s this one — the flowers aren’t showy, but they smell divine:
plant3

And the frangipani still has plenty of blossom left. Pink, yellow and white flowers — very pretty. The rain’s a steady patter, the light’s a lovely frail green, and there’s a medium-sized cockroach on the wall. I’ve never seen one that size before, only little or huge. Maybe it’s a baby huge one. In any case, it’s above the termite tunnel, so I’m leaving it there unmolested in case it’s a special cockroach sent by God to destroy the termites.

03/18/11

Horse guy

My time has been divided between writing and sculpting (aka playing with clay) lately. This figureĀ  is almost ready for casting — I just need to fix a couple of details and do a bit more with the surface texture, and hopefully it will be ready to go to the foundry next week.

clayhorse03

clayhorse04

clayhorse05

Just out of the freezer! (The wax clay goes hard in cold temperatures, so you can freeze it and lie it down to work on feet or whatever)
clayhorse06

I just started this 4-eyed monster/angel made of mashed-together horses:
clayhorse02b