This is still a blog …

… though from the slowness of my updating you wouldn’t think so. I’m not going to make any wild promises about more frequent posting in the new year until I can get this most recent batch of research work plus editing plus writing firmly under control, but it’s on my list of Things To Do Better. Until then, Twitter is where I’m most active (a short tweet is less of a guilty break from work than a blog post of any length).

Here are a couple of updates. Last week I had the honour of being a part of Lauren Beukes’s Recommended Reading Gift List Part 1, (part 2 is linked at the bottom; don’t miss it). These are some excellent recommendations for the holidays and any time of year, so go have a look and bookmark it. Today I’m showing off my Christmas black cake on Paul Cornell’s blog. Scroll right to the bottom – there it is. Black cake is my ‘thing’. I’m an average cook and I can bake simple things on occasion, but my black cake can be used to make friends, influence people and create world peace 😉 . Readers of Redemption in Indigo may even remember that I mention it in the book: ‘a festival cake that will turn the head of the most seasoned toper’.

Oh, and for those who might not know (all … what … two of you?) Lauren Beukes is a South African writer and one of this year’s World Fantasy nominees (she’s won some other awards too – go check out her work!), and Paul Cornell writes for Doctor Who, notably two of my favourite episodes, the Hugo-nominated  ‘Human Nature’ and ‘The Family of Blood’.

Podcast with Nalo Hopkinson and Karen Burnham

This is the second promised podcast! I chatted with Nalo Hopkinson and Karen Burnham while in San Diego, and it was fantastic. I caught myself listening to it all over again in the wee hours of the night. Do go check it out. Nalo’s brilliant, in case you didn’t know.

Nalo Hopkinson and Karen Lord in Conversation

Podcast with Charles Tan

So here‘s the first of the podcasts I promised you. Charles Tan, blogger, nominee for the World Fantasy Special Award (Non-Professional) 2011, intelligent critic and reviewer of speculative fiction, allowed me to babble on. And I warn you, I do babble. But there may be a few gems amid the dross. Go check it out.

AnimeKon Expo 2011

Tobias Buckell came to Barbados to attend AnimeKon Expo as guest of honour. I had a great time playing tourist for a day with him and his wife. There was so little time for sightseeing, though. They’re going to have to come back for a longer stay!

AnimeKon was fantastic. Our panel on fantasy writing and worldbuilding with Robert Edison Sandiford went really well, and we had great conversations with readers and budding writers. Tobias’s books were hugely popular – they sold out! But don’t take my word for it. Tobias has a detailed post here, with photos and video, that really captures the experience.

Make plans for AnimeKon Expo 2012!

The Coode Street Podcast

It is with a mixture of joy and fear that I direct you to the most recent episode of the Coode Street Podcast, hosted by Jonathan Strahan of Perth, Australia and Gary K. Wolfe of Chicago, USA. Joy because I had such a great time it makes me smile to remember it, but fear because Skpye laboured to connect Perth, Chicago and Barbados. The clipping, the drop-outs, the slowed then speeded speech – I really had to listen hard and fill in gaps most of the time, and even then I’m sure I was only firing on half my comprehension cylinders.

But we had a great discussion! Go check it out.

Things you should look at

Go right now to Shveta’s Livejournal where you will find I am Day One of Three Days of Fey (ooh, also on Dreamwidth). I get to ramble on about the djombi, those strange beings in Redemption in Indigo who are sometimes tricksters, sometimes guardian angels. If you ever wondered where I got them from, you’ll find out in that post. Thanks for inviting me to guest-post, Shveta!

Then go to Jeff VanderMeer’s blog where you will see that I am part of an upcoming anthology that he’s putting together with his wife, the award-winning editor Ann VanderMeer. I have written a story about the Counsellor Crow: a mundane name, an ordinary-seeming creature, but–

No. No more. I’ve said too much. You’ll have to wait until it comes out. It’s going to be illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic (more of his amazing work here). I’m really looking forward to it!

Top five movie scenes to watch over and over

The Thomas Crown Affair: Sinnerman (Spoilers!)

Why I like this scene:  The music and the motion!  I’ve never seen a soundtrack so well utilised.  Nina Simone’s voice is perfect for this.

Why watch the whole movie:  In my opinion, it’s better than the original, and that’s rare.  Rene Russo is amazing – tough and independent, and with a blazing sensuality that does justice to the original character (played by Faye Dunaway, who has a brilliant more-than-cameo in the remake, by the way), but she still makes the role completely her own.  Pierce Brosnan is a far more complex, thoughtful and clever Thomas Crown than Steve McQueen.  The core of the plot is nothing like the original.  It’s trickster thievery rather than thuggish thievery.

Hero: Nameless and Sky (Spoilers!)

Why I love this scene: That is some of the BEST fight choreography I have ever seen.  That is what happens when you take two actors who are top tier martial artists and put them with one of the best fight choreographers in the business.  It is more than fighting.  It’s a revelation of the characters of the two men.  There’s a story in there, a philosophy, a deep symbolism.  Again, there’s a very happy marriage of music and movement (include the falling rain in the music).  Then there’s the arrangement of everything … symmetry, colour, the shift to black and white when they fight in imagination only, the signalling of the climactic moment, the magic of the raindrops and the slowed motion.

Why watch the whole movie:  Just do it.  I don’t have enough space to write out all the reasons why this movie is a classic, but here are just a few: stunning cinematography, gorgeous costuming and visuals, brilliant fighting, excellent acting, complex plot, poignant yet satisfying ending.

Stormy Weather: The Nicholas Brothers

Why I love this scene:  Have you EVER seen dancing like that?  I am in awe of what they can do!

Why watch the whole movie: I have no idea.  I’ve never seen the whole movie.  I just keep coming back for this clip!

Singing in the Rain: Moses Supposes

Why I love this scene:  In contrast to the Nicholas Brothers, Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly are almost opposites.  Look at the relaxed, almost casual style of the former, and the more controlled, precise manner of the latter.  It’s more of a duel than a duet, and they both look like they’re having so much fun.

Why watch the whole movie:  Another classic, truly.  A glamorous star who’s a brilliant comedienne, the ordinary girl who gets the screen heartthrob, the buddy dynamic between the two main male characters, and a mini lesson in film history combined with the wry self-indulgence of Hollywood poking fun at itself.

Wing Chun: Tofu Kung fu

Why I like this scene:  It’s pure fun!  It’s the classic ‘non-violent master bests hot-headed troublemaker’ scenario, with added tofu!  And when she caught that tray of tofu like that I became a fan for life.

Why watch the whole movie: It’s pure fun!  It’s comedy, impossible fight choreography, and complete lightheartedness.  Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh are the cutest, most G-rated couple ever.