I will never again ask how come it takes people so long to write books. For here it is, almost a year from when I started the Sue project and I have months of revision ahead of me. I want to laugh and cry at the same time.

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Book Crap, the Oh, Crap-ening

Imagine you’ve built an intricate cuckoo clock with a mechanism that shines and sparkles as it clicks around and around and into place. The chains with lead pine cones are made of some mysterious but beautiful metal that looks impossibly delicate while being impossibly strong. The bird itself is a marvel of hand-painted beauty whose cuckoo is beautiful and haunting instead of annoying. You put your heart and soul into the cuckoo clock. And then, because you’re an artist you wanted to take it a step further. You suspended the cuckoo clock in a clear box using a web of delicate human hair, hair collected from your long-dead great grandmother, which now spreads taut in every direction from the cuckoo clock like a strange silvery halo.

You bring in your beta viewers. And they both are like “Wow. But… Oh, yeah, I like that and that and that and… I don’t know something’s not right here.” And then one of your beta viewers, let’s call her S., asks “shouldn’t the container be egg-shaped, not square?”

Impossible! How can I change the shape of the container? Did you not see all of the historic gossamer hair? Can we talk for even ten seconds about what a pain in the ass it’s going to be to undo all of that and not get it tangled and then redo it in an egg? No, no, no.

But then, the more you think about it, the more you’re constantly asking yourself if there’s any way to get across the feel of the egg without having to make the outer container egg-shaped.

And there is not.

And that’s where I am today. The cuckoo clock is perfect. The hair is weird but cool. The thing that gives it it’s larger shape is wrong and S. is right about the shape it should have.

I have been saying “Fuck” to myself repeatedly, but it hasn’t changed the fact of the matter.

It Works Better if They’re Nice

This story in the New Yorker about what grooming looks like–how child molesters test kids and isolate them in order to see if they’ll make good victims–is really something everyone should read.

It just reminds me of how homophobia also feeds into this–both in that it works superstitiously by keeping men who the molesters think might recognize what they’re doing as sexual out of the picture and in that it makes it doubly hard for boy victims to come forward, for fear they’ll be thought of as gay. Which is not to say that child molestation wouldn’t happen in a more tolerant society, just that this particular hedge would be mowed down.

The whole thing is deeply troubling to me, but I think it’s important to see how it works, how they test boundaries and cross lines, not just of children, but of the adults who should be protecting those children. Everyone is groomed to accept as okay something that, to anyone entering the situation with fresh eyes, is simply not.

The Cabin in the Woods

I have a question and the nature of that question may tell you more about the movie than you wish to know, if you’ve not seen it.

Okay, so we watched The Cabin in the Woods last night and we both thought it was terrific. But I keep seeing people say “Oh, well, it’s too bad that there couldn’t be a sequel, since the world ended at the end of the movie.” And this makes me think that either I am misunderstanding a basic premise of the movie or a lot of other people are. So, here is my question–is it not obvious that the people under the cabin are being fucked with in the exact same manner as the people in the cabin?

We see the people under the cabin changing the environment to manipulate the people in the cabin and we see that the people under the cabin encounter strange problems with the simulation this year–not just that no other place in the world has been able to do it, but that the wiring weirdly goes out on the landslide, and that dude’s pot made him able to see what was really going on instead of working on him how it should have.

Isn’t it then likely that, like clockwork, the sacrifices are designed to ratchet up? Every year, for years, the annual rituals work, but every… what?… thousand years or something, all the annual ritual fail and it has to go up a level–the ritual-holders must be sacrificed. And we are watching a movie about the sacrifice of the ritual-holders.

Another argument for there being a level above this one manipulating their outcome? The last shot. If everyone is dead and the camera room destroyed, from whose angle are we seeing the rising of the ancient god?

So, if sequels are, by definition, kind of terrible and ridiculous and more than and yet somehow less than their predecessor, isn’t it self-apparent that a sequel would just focus on the level of bureaucracy beyond the one we saw?

Anyway, I loved it. I thought it was really genius and uncomfortable and funny.