research i have done

I was inspired by Brian Buckley’s post about the research he’s done for his work-in-progress Crane Girl, so I decided to post about all the research I’ve done over the years:

1) I picked two last names out of the phone book (Stiglianese and DiGregirio).

2) I looked up something about poisons on Wikipedia.

3) I read two articles about gender dysphoria.

4) I looked at some floor plans of Episcopal churches.

5) I watched two people on a Tori Amos email list argue about multiple personalities (disorder? not a disorder?). Well, okay, that wasn’t really research — that was more something I was seeing that gave me an idea. Similar to my “research” on royal rules of succession.

Okay. Real research….

I refer to the Chicago Manual of Style a lot — does that count? I did a lot of research on the question of “different from” vs. “different than” vs. “different to.” And there was the research on gerunds, and proper adjectives…

(When I was in college, I managed to go through my first three years without ever setting foot in the library. They got me in my final year, though. I don’t remember what I had to research, but I think it was something to do with psychology.

Of course, I very much like the idea of libraries, and I think it’s very important that there be libraries, it’s just that, apparently, I don’t enjoy actually being in libraries.)

Anyway, that last part was just vamping while I was trying to think of other (not grammar related) research that I have done for my writing. I’m not remembering any. If I think of anything, I will add it here:

(Good thing I remembered that part about the churches at the last minute.)

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final chapters can be okay

I like quite a few movie franchises. Some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are good. Some of the X-Men movies, too, (although the last couple not so much). I’ve enjoyed some of the Fast & Furious movies, as I’ve talked about before.

But when a new Resident Evil movie comes out, I really feel, “Okay, this is my franchise.”

The current one, which probably is “The Final Chapter,” as the title claims, has many aspects — some good and some bad.

1) It’s a very satisfying ending (with the door slightly open for more). This never happens in the superhero franchises, where the urge to keep the franchise generating cash outweighs any other considerations, you know, like telling a good story.

2) It includes two big revelations, one about the protagonist (Alice) and one about the antagonist (the Umbrella Corporation). They are satisfying, and I would imagine that Paul W. S. Anderson (writer, director, co-producer) has had them both in mind since at least the third movie (this is number six).

In fact, I was expecting one of those revelations to show up in the last movie, but obviously Anderson thought it was better to delay it until this one. I think that was a good decision.

I didn’t feel at all let down when it came, by the way. Sometimes when there’s a Big Reveal which you’ve been expecting for a while, it can be a disappointment when it finally arrives, but sometimes it can come as a welcome affirmation that you’re in tune with the story.

The other reveal, about the Umbrella Corporation, was a surprise, but it explains a lot that didn’t completely make sense before. (And it reveals — no spoilers — that there’s something in the world today which alarms Anderson almost as much as huge, multinational corporations.)

4) The Red Queen, the homicidal supercomputer that runs the huge underground complex called the Hive (where the whole story began, so it’s come full circle), has a major role in the plot. This may be related to the fact that she’s performed, as a hologram avatar, by Ever Gabo Anderson, who happens to be the daughter of Paul Anderson and series star Milla Jovovich.

And, yes, at a key moment she utters the Red Queen’s signature line, “You’re all going to die down here.” As I remember it, she almost throws it away, finishing a statement, turning away, then turning back to add, “Oh, and by the way…”

5) Iain Glenn, the best villain in the franchise, is back. Ali Larter, as Claire Redfield, the best of Alice’s partners, is back. Yay.

(By “partner,” I mean that, within the range of interesting women these movies always have, there is always another tough, competent woman for Alice to work with. In addition to how good both actresses are, Claire has always been a particularly good complement to Alice since she’s very much a leader, and Alice is much more a lone wolf.)

6) The fight scenes are definitely a step back from the best, though. Fast edits, shaky-cam, no idea what’s going on. Anderson has always favored fast cuts, but this is way beyond the earlier movies. This may be the first episode in the franchise where the dialogue scenes are way better than the fight scenes.

7) Some of the non-fight visuals are striking, though. Anderson is a master of the use of 3D to put the audience right inside claustrophobic interiors with the characters. Confined spaces, preferably underground, are his favorite settings. There is also a wonderful, almost medieval, sequence with gasoline and fire deployed as a weapon.

Here are some links:

1) This is a sentence I never thought I’d read in the New York Times:

Because their director, Paul W. S. Anderson, is an exceptional talent in action cinema, and because their star, Milla Jovovich, is a charismatic, exceptional and very credibly kinetic action performer, the movies in the “Resident Evil” franchise, of which this is the sixth, have always been a terrific time.

Wow. I guess it’s true, to paraphrase the movie Chinatown, that politicians, video game movies, and ugly buildings all become respectable if they last long enough.

2) From Slate, about video game franchises:

Where did Resident Evil go right where… so many others went wrong? The answer is Alice, whose rage and passion drives Resident Evil further than any female-led survival horror or science fiction action series before it. She’s a compassionate, wily heroine whose fury, once kindled, never lets up.

3) And here’s Ms. Jovovich, reminiscing about all six movies, including that the moment her husband fell in love with her might well have been when she sat him down and demanded that he give her back all the action scenes and stunts that had been hers when she’d signed on with the movie, but which had later been mysteriously given to Michelle Rodriguez instead.

One of the pleasures of the series is that Milla does virtually all of her own stunts, and she’s not giving up even one of them without a fight. 🙂

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there’s more than one “hallelujah”?

I’ve mentioned before how I’m sick of the Leonard Cohen song “Halellujah.”

I’ve always had a fondness for John Cale’s version, though, but I never realized until now that he’s actually singing different lyrics in places. I learned that from this article.

They’re still Leonard Cohen’s lyrics, but John Cale drew from fifteen pages of discarded lyrics that Leonard Cohen (a songwriter noted for editing and editing and editing his work) gave him in order to put together his own version of the song.

Cale’s version is, as the New Yorker puts it, “bloodier, less celestial.” I guess you can draw your own conclusions from the fact that this is my preferred version of the song.

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the word is “paltering” (apparently)

This article caught my eye: “When telling the truth is actually dishonest.”

The distinction between deliberately lying and deliberately making a true statement in order to deceive is — it seems to me — pretty arbitrary. Certainly if I was the person being deceived, I’d be pissed off either way.

But it does matter to some people. I remember that some of the Quaker jokes I heard growing up (Quaker jokes are only told by Quakers — who else would bother?) involved Quakers, usually businessmen, getting the better of someone in a business deal by paltering.

Maybe this is why I’ve used this with The Golden, who, as far as anybody can tell, always tell the truth, because in the story where they’re introduced they to this exact thing.

And it turns out there’s a word for it, which is cool.

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so, a blog post

Well, it’s been a while, obviously. Stuff in real life is particularly challenging right now, and will remain so for at least the next couple of months. Little time for blogging — particularly on any regular schedule.

So, what do I want to focus on, in my more limited time?

Really, I want to get back on track with my current story, “The Bus Station Mystery.” I just listened to the whole thing and made a few very minor changes (fixing bumpy sentences). So, now I’m eager to get on with part six and so on.

I think that will be my main focus for now. I like how it’s shaping up. Like my most recent stories, I think it stands by itself nicely — you could read it without having read anything else of mine before it. I’m really aiming for that these days.

Other than that, I plan to post links. Just one at a time, as they occur to me — rather than what I’ve usually done, which is wait until I have a few and post them together with some connective comments.

For example, there’s this: “A Small Point of Usage Concerning those ‘Alternative Facts,’” in which Mary Norris, the Comma Queen, points out that, whatever the other drawbacks of “alternative facts,” at least the term correctly observes the distinction between “alternate” and “alternative.”

Unlike, for example, “alternate reality.”

Oh, and up there where the links are (assuming you’re on a computer)? There’s a lot of stuff that shouldn’t be there, like “Lost Password” and such. (I seldom see that stuff because I’m usually on mobile.) That’ll get fixed at some point. Probably not soon.

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the bus station mystery — part five

This story started here.

Billy had been moving around the waiting room, bringing coffee and food to the passengers. When he heard Mr. Randall yell, he started to run to the office, but Stephanie got there ahead of him. He has always maintained that she picked him up bodily and moved him aside in order to get there first, but that’s not how she tells it.

Mr. Randall’s office was small and spare. There were no pictures on the wall, just a company calendar. A cheap desk chair behind a cheap desk, two straight-backed chairs that didn’t match, and a file cabinet. And a dead woman, lying across the desk.

Stephanie went and took her pulse, but that seemed to be a formality, since she had a knife sticking out of her chest.

Mr. Randall was sitting on one of the chairs, looking like he might be about to be sick. Some of the passengers were crowding around the doorway, as if there was a force field there preventing them from stepping into the room. Only Stephanie, Billy, and Kelly had come inside.

“Does anybody know this woman?” Stephanie asked. Mr. Randall shook his head, not looking up from the floor. Some of the others shuffled into the room, staying some distance away from the desk, getting just close enough to look and shake their heads and then back up again.

“Was she on the bus?” Stephanie asked.

The general consensus seemed to be that she hadn’t been, though nobody seemed to be entirely certain.

“The tickets that Cody collected are probably still on the bus,” Kelly said. “We can compare them to the stubs that the passengers have.”

Stephanie nodded. “That makes sense. First I’m going to see if she has any ID.”

She and Kelly looked at each other. In a moment, they both understood some things. Their conversation, unspoken, took but a fraction of a second, but laid out in words it would have gone like this:

Stephanie: If you don’t trust me why are you letting me be in charge?

Kelly: Because, with Mr. Randall here, I can’t be in charge. He’s my boss. And better you than him.

Stephanie: This is his office, right? Do you think he did it?

Kelly: No I don’t think so, but I know he shouldn’t be in charge. Not of anything important. If he gives you trouble, feel free to accuse him of the murder.

The dead woman was wearing jeans, a sweater, and a corduroy jacket. She did not seem to have a purse. Stephanie went through her pockets. and pulled out a wallet. She looked at the cards, and then she turned to face the others.

“Her name is Amelia Nugent,” she said slowly, watching for reactions.

This didn’t mean anything to the passengers, as far as she could tell, but Kelly, Billy, and Mr. Randall all reacted.

“Cody’s ex-wife,” Billy said, frowning.

“Wife,” Mr. Randall said, looking up. “They were separated, but not divorced.”

“He always called her his ex-wife,” Billy said.

“Wishful thinking.” He looked at Stephanie. “They hated each other.”

“He hated her…” Kelly said slowly. She shrugged. “We never heard her side of the story.”

“Nobody knew her here, except for Cody,” Mr. Randall said slowly. “And he did hate her…”

“But if he killed her, then who killed him?” Billy asked.

Stephanie shook her head. “The knife is here, and I didn’t see a knife on the bus. The wound in Mr. Nugent looked about the same size. Unless there are two knives, this murder must have happened second.”

“Somebody should search the bus more carefully…” Kelly’s voice made it a question.

“We have quite a few things to do,” Stephanie said slowly, looking around the room. There was another crash of thunder.

“And there’s going to be a lot of time in which to do them,” the older man said, turning away. “I’m going to go finish my coffee and have another donut.”

 to be continued…

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