everything i do is so fucking amazing that sparks are going to shoot out of your eyes

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The most important thing anyone’s ever said to me about art

Another post of some writer talking about art in general is probably the last thing that the world needs, but that has never kept anyone from writing a blog post before, and it sure as fuck isn’t going to stop me now.

You’d think that after spending most of my late teens and all of my adult life hanging around other artists and writers that I’d be about to launch into a moving tale about some time when I had a heart-to-heart with another creator. NOPE, NOPE, NOPE. Like so many things in my life, this learning experience was a result of me being a little shit.

I was in middle school, and probably about 12, and taking seventh-grade art. In that class, we would dutifully work on drawing and shading techniques, spend hours with rulers trying to get three point perspective right, and look at famous paintings. (Of course, I drew floating 3D text that said “THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE” over the X-Files symbol, y halo thar late 90s.)

So, here’s where I admit that about 99% of all abstract art I looked at as a kid was completely lost on me. I was like IF THERE ARE NO PEOPLE IN IT THEN WHAT IS THE POINT??????????????

One day, I came home from school, pissy, as usual, and went off on a tearing rant about one piece of art or another that I thought was completely stupid. I was possibly talking about Jackson Pollock’s drip painting, but most likely I was reacting to Mark Rothko’s “Orange And Yellow” which our seventh grade art teacher had shown us while explaining that it had sold for millions and millions of dollars.

"Orange And Yellow" - Mark Rothko - 1956

“Orange And Yellow” – Mark Rothko – 1956

I ranted to my father about it. After all, I was smart and clearly knew what good art was, so obviously he would agree with my outrage. People pay millions of dollars for two squares!? TWO SQUARES!? Here I was, slaving away with a set of cheap pencils, getting graphite all over my fingers and hands trying to make a photorealistic drawing of my ragged old sneaker, and some dude paints a couple of rectangles!? And that painting is worth more money than I could ever imagine having, EVER? RIDICULOUS!

“I mean,” I said, “it’s not like that’s hard! ANYBODY could do that. Even I could do that!”

My father looked at me, and all he said was:

“Ah, but you didn’t.

HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! (no, seriously)

Well, kind of.

FIRST, another one: HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! is out in Lightspeed Magazine and you can read it with your eyeballs.

SECOND, that story is ALSO going to be reprinted in an anthology. Which is why I’m plugging another Kickstarter. I KNOW. I KNOW, okay. I KNOW.

HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Kickstarters.

I hope you like the story, aaaaand I hope that the Kickstarter funds gloriously so all those awesome people listed on the page for it get paid. Also, so that then I can read the ALL the stuff.

But now I think I’m going to go back to bed, because this is all so very meta.

Enjoy the story!

What Fates Impose is OUT!

Just a quick note: WHAT FATES IMPOSE (edited by Nayad Monroe) is now out, so if you missed pre-ordering it through the Kickstarter, you can buy a copy now. The print copies are $15.99 and e-books are $4.99.

Here’s the Alliteration Ink page, which provides multiple links to buy the book. Choose a bookseller! Buy direct! Fork over your filthy, filthy money!

WFI cover

This book contains my story, “Gazing into the Carnauba Wax Eyes of the Future,” which is about divination via vomit. (Also, I slapped a queer stuff tag on this post because MY story is gay. I’ve been lazy and thus can’t tell you how much of the rest of the book is, though.)


I could re-iterate stuff about the story, but instead I’m going to link to the post that I made when I was flogging the Kickstarter project: here.

Also, here’s the Goodreads page, where you can still write reviews for the anthology, probably, unless Goodreads helpfully deletes them for you.

Worldcon Monday: GET UP! GET UP!!!

GHABRGHgh gh ahrbg blarhg so early…

I have a reading this morning at 10am! COME TO IT!

My flight home leaves San Antonio at around 7pm, so I’ll probably be hanging around the convention until mid-afternoon.


Today I will be at a panel at noon, and then from 2-4:30pm, I will vanish to critique some people. I was a last minute addition to this panel:

Saturday 12:00 Gender in SF

How has SF influenced and reflected the changes in gender and gender roles over the past half century? As we look back to the work of writers such as Ursula LeGuin and Joanna Russ in the sixties and seventies, what can we say about their impact and that of their heirs today?

Moderator: Vylar Kaftan Participants: Jonathan Oliver, Tili Sokolov, Lezli Robyn, Keffy Kehrli

Theeeen….. PARTIES!!! I should be making an appearance at the Authors with Drinks, and possibly at the Glitter and Mayhem skate party.

(Reminder: best way to contact me during the con is via Twitter, @Keffy.)

Worldcon Friday: WHERE AM I!??!?

No. Seriously, WHERE AM I I HSHGAHA AAAH AAAH AAAAAH AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH oh. I’m just stuck between the bed and the wall. No biggie. I’ll just… hang out and blog here for a bit, I guess.

If you’re at Worldcon, you can see me on a panel at 7pm. If you don’t come to this panel, I will just have to conclude that you don’t really love me. Or that your supposed friends buried you in a pile of barbeque and you’re going to have to eat your way out.

My Dragon Torched the Prince and other Plot Problems
Friday 19:00 – 20:00
How to survive after discovering you’ve painted (written) yourself into a corner….
Stina Leicht (M), Keffy Kehrli, Mary Robinette Kowal, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Moshe Feder.


If you’re looking for me at the convention and REALLY can’t find me AND you don’t have my phone number, the best way to get in touch with me is via Twitter. @Keffy. If you DM me, I will get a text.

(If you just at reply me, I’ll probably still see it reasonably quickly, since I’m glued to my fucking phone like the rest of you.)

leveL the Comic (a webcomic!)

I’m writing this IN ADVANCE because today is Thursday which means that I’m flying to San Antonio today*, so I’m probably on an airplane when you’re reading this. Or thinking about getting on an airplane. Or whatever.

In theory, another update for leveL has gone up at today. It’s a webcomic by artist Nate Swinehart and is a re-boot/re-imagining of a webcomic that I was reading 5-10 years ago, up until I lost touch with webcomics entirely, buried my own, went to Clarion, etc etc, etc. The previous version had artwork that… well, it was good enough for a webcomic. Ahaha. The original version is still on his site if you want to compare now vs. then art styles.

BUT, he went off and got an art degree. And a job doing artsy things.

And now it’s so pretty. So, so pretty. It’s nice when you’re reading a comic and the characters are expressing awe at something they’re looking at (a landscape, whatever), and you take one look and agree with them. My general response to most of the landscape/cityscape images in this one has been, “Whoooooooooooooooooooooa.”

leveL page 9 thumnail

It’s been long enough that I don’t remember the storyline for the original comic. The current iteration is just getting started, and includes a “utopian” metropolis with a highly stratified class system (hehehehe, smash it!), mysterious dream sequences and BRIGHT PINK SOLID HOLOGRAMS. Or whatever the floating blocks are.

Anyway, I recommend checking it out if you like comics and don’t mind waiting a couple of weeks between page updates. You can follow him at @leveLtheComic if you’re worried about missing updates. 🙂

I love finding out that my internet acquaintances from “back in the day” have been busy making cool stuff.

*The plane gets to San Antonio around 6-7pm TEXAS TIME, so I don’t know. I’ll probably be at the con just in time for the parties. WOOOOooooooo.

Machine Washable

I’ve had people ask about this one, so I thought I’d put it up where people can actually read it. The story was originally published in Sybil’s Garage no. 6, and there was an audio reprint in Podcastle. This was my first short fiction sale back in 2009.

Machine Washable
By Keffy R. M. Kehrli

Dear Mom,

Instead of washing a load of clothes, I keep going to the store and buying more underwear.

I know you don’t even believe in weird things like monsters or ghosts, and neither do I, but


Okay, look. There is a zombie half of a zombie in my washing machine, so I can’t do any laundry. Part of me feels really bad about not alerting you to this earlier, Mom, but it sounds crazy. I would have called you, but I think that I accidentally dropped my phone in the washing machine. I would just email you, but I know you never check yours.

I don’t really know where to go from here. I mean, it’s kind of like being the kid you thought was so responsible, and then I smash up my your car. Except this is worse because it looks (and smells) nasty.

I mean, it’s not like I haven’t washed any clothes at all. I washed my jeans out in the bathtub last week. In a way it would be better if the zombie was in the dryer, because at least I could hang things up to dry. Then again, can you just imagine how bad that would smell if I turned it on? Okay, so that’s a shitty idea.

The only way I can keep the damn thing quiet is if I turn the washing machine on. I figured that if I put in some detergent maybe it wouldn’t smell so bad and Andrew could come over so we could study. The detergent didn’t help the smell enough, but I keep putting it in since I have to run the washing machine all the time anyway, and it’s not like I can use the detergent on my clothes. It uses a lot of water, though. I guess that’s something else. I know that the idea was that you’d pay for the apartment and I’d pay utilities, but I think I’m going to need some help with the water bill.

I know you’re probably going to wonder how I got half of a zombie into my washing machine, and also which half. It’s the head. The head and one of the arms and part of the shoulder, so maybe less than half but it’s the scarier half. You know, because it’s not like a pair of rotting dead legs are all that scary.

I also have to say that having the laundry machine in the kitchen? Was a really bad idea. When the only thing in there is some dirty socks or maybe my sports bra it’s not that big a deal. When you’ve got to listen to a zombie’s skull go WHUNK-THUNK WHUNK-THUNK, well, then it’s just gross.

Basically, I’m writing you because I need a new washing machine and my water bill is pretty high. You can send a check if you want.




“No, I am not pulling your leg! After last week, I’ve had enough leg-pulling. There is seriously, for real, an honest-to-God zombie in my washing machine. I don’t understand why you can’t just look at the YouTube video! Anyway, I got a new phone, so call me back. Also, oh my God, could you change the answering machine message sometime? We recorded that when I was, like, five.”


Date: 11-13-08
Time: 18:45


I already told you, I didn’t answer the phone last time you called. That was my old phone and it’s still in the washing machine with the zombie. I mean, seriously how many times do you call and I just breathe at you over the phone? Never!

And, no, I don’t need you to come over. It’s not like getting the zombie out is going to fix anything now anyway. I can’t wash clothes in the washing machine ever again — it’s had rotting dead things in it! I started going to the laundromat but it pisses me off, you know? I mean, I used to have a perfectly good laundry machine at home and now I don’t.

And what, call the police? “9-1-1, Night of the Living Dead is happening inside of one of my appliances? I’ll say zombie, they’ll say corpse. I know washing machines aren’t cheap, but I had to spend all my money on the Anthropology 101 text. Please, please, PLEASE help me out!

Yes, I did get your message about the stuff I left in the garage. I don’t really have time to deal with it right now. I’m sorry that Dad wants to clean out the garage this weekend, but it’s not like I have any room in my apartment. Tell him to hold his horses. I don’t see why the boat can’t just stay in the shed a little longer.



Date: 11-14-08
Time: 08:32

Get a job! Are you kidding? I don’t have enough time to go looking for a job and study. Would you rather have a few hundred dollars if it means that I might fail? I don’t think so. I don’t understand why you’re being so difficult about this — it’s not like you guys don’t have a lot of money. You were just telling me about how Dad put in a new hot tub!

NO, I didn’t get rid of the zombie yet, and it scrabbles around and moans if I don’t turn the washing machine on. Like I said, I can’t just open the door and let it out. I’m pretty sure there are laws against letting zombies go free.

Plus, it’d really suck if I opened the door and it ate me or something. It doesn’t have a stomach anymore, so it’d just be chewed up Krystin pieces all over the floor.

I broke up with Andrew, by the way. He kept wanting to come over, and I was afraid that he’d think the wrong thing if he saw the zombie. He comes from a nice respectable family where parents don’t force their nineteen-year-old daughters to live in apartments with zombie infestations.

Since you asked, I’m getting okay grades in everything except for Pre-Calc. I think maybe it’s all the time I have to spend going to the Laundromatlaundromat. It’s ridiculous! It doesn’t matter when I go, there’s always some asshole using all the machines and I have to wait like two hours! Last time I went, this guy was washing about ten huge blankets and a giant teddy bear! Who washes a teddy bear, anyway? It was about the size of a St. Bernard.

I guess I’ll see you over Thanksgiving.



Date: 11-30-08
Time: 17:11


I don’t know where the zombie is! It got out sometime this weekend. I’ve been looking everywhere — under the beds, in the cupboards — everywhere! I even checked the basement of the building, you know, I figured maybe that it went down there because it’s kind of like a tomb.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep the washing machine door closed so it can’t get back in there. Ugh. I’m just going to assume it’s not in the apartment because I’d smell it otherwise, right?

By the way, I still need a new washer. I don’t think running it a few times is going to get this smell out. Before you even ask, Mom, I did think about using bleach. It didn’t work!

I hate zombies.



Date: 12-30-08
Time: 09:57


I found the zombie, Mom. I don’t know how to tell you this, but I need a new fridge, too.



(Illustration by Victor M. Rosas II.)

I am not evolutioned to eat worm!

I spend way too much time on Twitter, which mostly has to do with how easy it is to check on my phone. This is also something that I tend to regret if/when I wake up in the morning and immediately check my feed, to find out that, yet again, everything in the entire world is bullshit, and therefore, why are we even bothering? WHYYYY.

Anyway, here is an extremely short list of some of the feeds I follow on Twitter that make me laugh.

It’s also a bit of an experiment to see what the crosspost to LiveJournal will do with this formatting.

I love @ProBirdRights. First, because it occasionally mocks the MRA crowd, and second because it’s frequently hilarious even without context.

@forexposure_txt is a collection of quotes ripped from various forums and job-listings in which people ask for free creative work — usually art. I was never a particularly good artist, but I knew enough good artists that I’ve heard a surprising number of the things that get tweeted through this account. So many tantrums when artists won’t work for free. So many.

Which, as a side note, authors… I know that part of the big deal with self publishing is that you’ve got to pay for your own cover, but I wince every time I hear authors talking about how you can get REALLY CHEAP ARTWORK from people on Deviantart. I just hope you’re paying the artists you dig up fair rates* for the right to use their artwork (and more, lots more, if you’re paying for a commission.) Also, if you’re doing comics? Just writing the comic is considerably less than half of the work. Sorry!

I don’t think I need to say anything about @fanfiction_txt.

*Although, I also understand that sometimes it’s really hard to get those assholes to actually take the money you promised to pay them. WHAT. WHY. STOP IT.

In which I blather about science and probably embarrass myself

Somewhere the the middle of researching a paper I’m supposed to write for this biology class, I started to distract myself by thinking about the differences between the biology classes I’m taking now and the physics classes I was taking 5-10 years ago during my real undergraduate career (I don’t even know how it’s been that long, let’s not even go there).

The impression I keep getting is that the biological sciences are more EXCITING!1! on the research side of things than physics was. Physics always felt a little bit dead, as though the point of the entire exercise was to figure out the math equations that modeled the nature of the universe and then call it good and go home. If we can’t figure it out (probably, we can’t), then we’ll just tweet about spooky action at a distance on our smart phones. This isn’t actually true, but modern physics seemed sandwiched between Philipp von Jolly telling Max Planck not to bother with physics because it’d already been figured out, and, and then 130 years later, my inability to understand the crushing strangeness that is pretty much everything in physics after 1900.

But then again, that could just as easily be an artifact of the differences between what sorts of research gets reported, or teaching styles at UW as at WWU, or the fact that I’m more aware of current research now than I was back then (and if I had more time to read into what’s going on in the parts of physics that still interest me, I’d see that actually there’s quite a lot being done that isn’t impossible to understand).

Caveats aside, biology feels newer. Genetics/genomics (especially once we consider the epigenome, and all the other omes… there are so many omes now. It seems like every time I turn around, I trip over another ome) feels like it’s a field in the process of exploding.

Maybe it’s not so much that there’s more going on in the biological sciences, as it is that it feels more accessible to me than what’s going on in physics.

My educational regrets are poised somewhere between, “I miss physics, I wish I’d been better at it… I wonder if I’d have done better if I hadn’t been working 30-40+ hours every week.” and “I should have been a bio major.” Either way, it’s kind of awkward to have this disconnect between what I “know” on paper (physics degree) and what I actually know about (at least I feel like I know a lot about genomics right now…).

Just in case anyone is still reading this nonsense, here’s an 11 minute video about X chromosome inactivation:

Also, it sort of explains what epigenetics is if you’re still sitting there going “wtf is this epigenome stuff” the too long; didn’t watch version is that epigenetics looks at small molecules that get stuck onto DNA, proteins, DNA related proteins, etc as markers. So, for example, some epigenetic markers are little methyl groups — a carbon with three hydrogens stuck on it — that get attached to the C in some DNA and basically say “DON’T TOUCH THIS GENE, LEAVE IT OFF! OFF!!!1”. There’s a lot of other stuff going on there, too, though. That’s just one example.

X chromosome inactivation is what happens if you have more than one X chromosome LIKE SO MANY OF US DO. Gene dosage is fairly important (if you only have one copy of a gene and are supposed to have two, or have more than one copy of a gene when you’re only supposed to have one, that’s generally bad). You only need one copy of X chromosome stuff, so if you’ve got two, then one of them gets shut off in every cell.

But I like this video because the combination of animation and sound effects make me think of open chromatin as a giant necklace of evil candy. Also, it makes the proteins super creepy. OH GOD IT’S COMING LOOK OUT IT’S A TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR OH GOD A HISTONE MODIFYING ENZYME RUN aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

The RNA polymerase is kinda cute though. Look at it chugging along there. You MAKE that RNA, little polymerase. Good job.

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