Narcissa
This bit from a piece on the upcoming WFC (at the online half of Weird Fiction Review) was rather nice to see: "Beloved weird author Caitlín R. Kiernan was nominated for The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories – a fantastic collection that validates Kiernan’s role as one of weird fiction’s most talented living writers." Every now and again I need a little word or twelve of kindness. I hope you'll understand that failing in me.

I'm so far behind, I've become the proverbial Ouroboros. I'm choking on my ass, and the deadlines tower like a leaning Mount Everest, ever ready to lose the war with gravity and bury me. Which, actually, would be a goddamn blessing.

I got nothing written yesterday on "The Green Abyss." Today? I don't know. There's a Nor'easter on top of us, and the wind has me even more on edge than I was yesterday. I am not a beast of the wind. I am a beast of warm, still atmospheres. Currently, here in Providence the temperature is 55˚F (with a "RealFeel®" of 46˚F, thank you Accuweather). The steel-grey sky is spitting mist. The aforementioned wind is blowing at 20 mph, with gusts up to 34 mph. More of the same tomorrow.

Fair warning: If you have any interest whatsoever in sky-watching, do not move to New England. Will we be able to see tomorrow's partial solar eclipse? No, because of the weather. By my reckoning, we're unable to see nine out of every ten astronomical events because of clouds (eclipses, meteor showers, auroras, etc.). Though, to be fair, we're so far east that tomorrow's eclipse would hardly have been visible to us anyway.

And yesterday, a squirrel took out the electricity to approximately 5,000 "customers" here. Boom. Crispy squirrel. We were lucky, because we love squirrels. Especially with gravy and dumplings.

Anyway...

These days, I'm doing good if I can write two hours a day. Which doesn't come close to cutting it.

I wish someone would invite me to a fancy dress ball. Or a tea party. Or an orgy. Anything would be better than this monotony.

Remember when I used to post photographs of Providence?

Queen of One-Sentence Paragraphs and Poor Eyesight,
Aunt Beast (like a rhino)
Shaw
Cloudy today. Currently, it's 59˚F.

Yesterday I wrote a little over one thousand words on "The Green Abyss." It's a dream piece, which is to say it isn't a story in the commonly accepted sense. But it seems to be coming along well. I hope to finish it this afternoon.

I was beginning to think maybe I was reading too much into Sons of Anarchy, that maybe I was only imagining all those elements of Macbeth and Hamlet. Then we reached the end of Season Four, which has a two-part finale titled "To Be, Act 1" and "To Be, Act 2." Turns out, it seems to be public knowledge that the show's creator, Kurt Sutter, was inspired by Shakespeare, especially Hamlet.

But to my mind, — though I am native here
And to the manner born, — it is a custom
More honour'd in the breach than the observance.


For those of you who have been able make neither heads nor tails of the Benjanun Sriduangkaew/ RequiresHate/ Winterfox/ Etc. kerfuffle, here's a handy FAQ. Then again, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're a fortunate soul indeed and shouldn't follow that link.

Well, hello Sunshine. I wasn't expecting you today.

You're Not Alone; You're On You're Own,
Aunt Beast

"Up in the morning, up and on the ride."

Shaw
Sunny today and the sky a wide and carnivorous blue. Yesterday, I wrote "... the sun is mostly back, after some rain yesterday." Then the weather, that traitorous bastard, made a liar out of me. It turned cloudy, with only intermittent shafts of sunlight reaching the ground. There was a little rain. At least the tree outside my window is still green.

This morning I was reading over blog entries from 2008, 2009, 2010, and I saw in them, heard in them, a more active, more alive person. A more engaged person, someone who'd not so completely distanced herself from the world. Someone who took the time to discuss films, late night trips to the observatory, an MMO. And who had the energy to write about them. By comparison, this LJ has become a sad, anemic thing. My mind is so fuzzy and my body so tired, and I am so preoccupied with the ultimately futile effort of anything like keeping a public, daily journal, that I find it almost impossible to focus for the length of a decently long paragraph.

It's a symptom....

---

Yesterday, I began a new vignette for Sirenia Digest #105, "The Green Abyss." I wrote 1,007 words. It's a dream that I had a few nights ago, a deep green pool and what I saw there.

---

The eBay auction for Frog Toes and Tentacles ends in about three hours. Please have a look, if you've been looking to find a copy of this rare and long out-of-print volume (since May 2005). Thanks muchly.

I've got to get out of this house. First, I have to write. But then, soon, I have to get out of this house.

Stunned,
Aunt Beast

"Am I just a spark?"

Mars from Earth
1. Twenty years ago today Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction opened in theaters. That seems pretty much impossible. The impact of that one film on my own fiction was enormous. I saw it nine times in the theater, at a time when I didn't have money to spend on movies. I was astounded. The dialogue, the gleeful mayhem and profane twists and turns of the plot, the dark comedy, the boldly non-linear storytelling – all of it blew me away. I was only thirty. And it still feels like a new film.

"Ezekiel 25:17.The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee." ~ Jules Winnfield

2. It's cold today, and the sun is mostly back, after some rain yesterday.

3. At 2:27 p.m. EDT, Comet Spiding Spring will pass within 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of the surface of Mars, moving at a speed of 56 km/s (35 mi/s). That's three times closer to Mars than the moon is to Earth. It will be a glorious light show from the crests of those red dunes. The comet will like leave the Martian atmosphere dancing with brilliant auroras. Though now an actual impact is considered highly unlikely, in March 2013 the risk of impact was calculated at 1 in 1,250. The impact would have been measured in the tens of billions of megatons. I'll be watching the clock.

4. I didn't get much of anything done yesterday. Today, I absolutely have to write.

5. Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, which include a copy of Frogs Toes and Tentacles.

6. "Requires Only That You’re Fake" by Robert N. Lee.

And that's all for now.

A Day of Close Shaves,
Aunt Beast
Shaw
Today the pain is probably at a 5. It isn't cold, but it isn't warm. The clouds come and go, intermittently hiding the indecent autumn sky.

Four days ago (counting today) – And what day was that? Wednesday? Tuesday? – I finished Part 1 (of 5) of Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird. My editor loves it. I'm not sure what to make of the thing. Mostly, having finished 1 means now I have to write 2. Though, first I should probably stop and do Sirenia Digest #105. I needed to have the Dark Horse work done my October 31st. That's not going to happen. If all goes well, I'll have it finished by the end of November, instead.

On Thursday, we went down to South County, to Spooky's parents' place, because they're away in Germany. We were going to visit Moon Stone Beach yesterday, before heading back to Providence. But for one reason or another, we didn't. Something stopped us that wouldn't have stopped us two or three years ago. Likely it would be more accurate to say that something stopped me. I am developing what seems almost to be a dread of the sea, a strange 180˚ turnabout from where I once was that I am at a loss to satisfactorily explain. This is hard on Spooky, who misses our once-regular trips to the shore. Spooky took photos at her parents', but I don't have any edited and uploaded.

I really think this blog is dying. It's not as if I have nothing to say here. It's more like I haven't the energy I used to have. And...it rarely seems worth the trouble. And, too, pretty much anything I have to say will be controversial, and that brings me back around to the lack of energy. I haven't the energy to argue in an increasingly contentious and trollish environment.

November 21st will mark my twelfth anniversary as a blogger.

I really should not have come back after I shut this LJ down on April on April 15th (it's tenth anniversary). But the spirit was weak.

So is the flesh. I think it's imploding.

TTFN,
Aunt Beast

"Nobody's dying if you speak double-speak..."

Shaw
Warmish today, windy, mostly cloudy. Currently, it's 76˚F. I really have to get out of the house today. I've not been out since Saturday.

Yesterday, angry at my lack of progress, I actually managed to finish Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird. I wrote pages 17-22, which actually meant writing a lot more than six pages. So, Chapter One is mostly behind me. I need to read over it, make some corrections, get all the photo-references together, and write out a few other things for Joëlle, and email everything away.

This morning, the pain's at least a 7.

Happy National Fossil Day. I gotta wake up.

Later taters,
Aunt Beast
SteveDancy1
Too cold to open the window, so I sit here in my stale air.

I've been outside only once in the past...what? The past week? I lose track.

I've never made a secret of the fact that I dislike writing. But there are the aspects of writing that I dislike, and then there are the aspects of writing I very, very much dislike. I very much dislike writing comics. And every time I quit, I swear I'm never going to do it again.

I'm not entirely sure I can explain. I mean, yes, I can explain. Were you sitting here, I could explain it to you quite well. But I'm not entirely awake, and one-on-one conversation and being articulate in the LJ are two different beasts. Largely, it's about constraints. My voice is hugely constrained in comics. But it's also about tedium. On a good day when writing comics, I may spend as much of 75% of my time describing panels for authors. Not writing, just trying to get the artist – whom I likely never will meet in person – to understand precisely what I mean, so that she or he can draw it. That's not writing.

So far, Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird has proven spectacularly tedious. I'm taken it apart and started over three times now. And I'm not much more than halfway through the first of five issues.

This isn't writing.

---

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Two items in particular: an ARC for Cherry Bomb (which comes with a monster doodle, the first I've offered in over a year) and the very first copy of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart that we've ever offered. Both come with a free Alabaster "Because Bird" pin.

Now, back to work

Doing This Thing Instead,
Aunt Beast
Shaw
Rainy, cold, and generally shitty here in Providence. 50˚F, and it's 28˚ warmer in Birmingham.

Yesterday, I managed only two pages of The Good, the Bad, and the Bird. At this rate, I'm fucked.

But hey, gay folk can get married in North Carolina.

The Fun Never Ends,
Aunt Beast

"Come with me to the forgotten lake..."

Dancyphoto
Sunny and only 59˚F out there.

Yesterday was a tedious, tedious writing day, as writing days often are when I'm working on comics. Because I have to try to be sure that the artist will see exactly what I mean them to see. I only managed to get two pages done, which means I'm six pages into a twenty-two page script, the first chapter of Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. I'm offering an ARC of Cherry Bomb, which means the winner can read it four months before it's release date! The winner gets an Alabaster pin with the book, PLUS I'm including a monster doodle, the first I've offered here in well over a year. So, get to it Windows! Get to it! And here the link to all the auctions.

I want to clarify something regarding the Benjanun Sriduangkaew problem. I do not advocate boycotting anthologies containing stories by Sriduangkaew. You do that, you're hurting the other authors, the editor, and the publisher. Buy the books. If you feel the need to be heard, it's far more constructive to write the editor or publisher with your concerns.

And I guess that's all for now. I need to wake up.

Groggily,
Aunt Beast
SteveDancy1
Today, it's a wide carnivorous sky, and I have no mountains to hold them at bay, no tall, tall trees to keep me safe.

Several days ago, Nick Mamatas, for reasons I will not even begin to try and fathom*, outed Benjanun Sriduangkaew (via Mamatas' Ello account) as the troll better known as @ requireshate. I've known their identity since August first, but, to my surprise, I find that I hardly even give a shit, despite the things Sriduangkaew ("Bees") said about me and all the harm they've caused others. Two years have passed, and I've mostly moved on. But I can't help but hope that the exposure of Sriduangkaew as such a profoundly petty, hateful, hypocritical individual puts a nail in the coffin of her nascent career. She has hurt people, many far, far more than the insults she aimed my way. In a just world, no editor would dare touch her, for fear of guilt by association. Fair is fair.

Yesterday I wrote the first four pages of the first fifth of Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird. It went well, I think. I also answered a pile off email.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. The taxes are bearing down on us, and I had a stupid doctor's thing yesterday – and those aren't free. So yes, here's a link to the current eBay auctions, and there's also Kathryn's Etsy shop. She has new stuff up. Thank you.

Last night, we finished Season One of Sons of Anarchy. While the final two episodes hint at promise, overall I found the season, in general, to be an exercise in mediocrity. Mostly, Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal kept me watching, even though Perlman is pretty much on autopilot. We may eventually come back to the series. Later, I watched The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), for reasons that should be obvious. It had been a while.

Now, to the breach and all that rot.

Well, That's Because You Might,
Aunt Beast

* Mamatas has long professed to be an admirer of @ requireshate's, hence my confusion. He has tried to explain his motives via Ello, but the explanation is as baffling as the rest of this shit. Maybe it's all a very, very poorly conceived publicity stunt.

"Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild..."

Narcissa
The thing about not making a journal entry for many days on end is that, well, when you finally make one you have created – in geological terms – an unconformity, a break in sedimentation, a black space in the record, a gap – and all gaps yearn to be filled. Nature abhors a void and what have you. But, I don't have the time, and my memory's ain't what it once was, and who really gives a good goddamn, right? But, yeah. That's the problem.

Maybe I never should have resumed the blog after I ended it in April. The Age of the Blog is surely dead, after all, as lost to us as the Silurian and trilobites. Too many characters, too much time required to read, and who has the luxury of enduring all those words? Someone asked me to summarize a summary today, a summary I'd spent a whole day synopsizing, and he said of it, "tl:dr." I thought that was a typo, so I asked. Nope. "Too long; didn't read." So, I said, "I already wrote a summary, and that's a much as the thing can possibly be simplified. That's what you get. I can't do any better." And, of course, he who made the inquiry was offended. Fuck him. Moron.

Yesterday, I received my comp copy of the Centipede Press volume A Mountain Walked: Great Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos*, which includes my story "John Four." Alas, the book is already sold out, but it's a beautiful volume. I've heard that Jerad may publish a more affordable second edition of 700 copies, sans signatures and slipcase, that would sell for only $50.

Also, I finally, finally got my comp copies of the Turkish edition of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, and I suppose we'll be offering on of those on eBay soon. Oh, and the ARCs for Raisin' Hell arrived on Friday (I think it was Friday; it might have been Saturday).

Today, I'm going to try to write the first four or five pages of Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird, Part One (of Five).

---

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. The taxes are bearing down on us, and I had a stupid doctor's thing yesterday – and those aren't free. So yes, here's a link to the current eBay auctions, and there's also Kathryn's Etsy shop. She has new stuff up. Thank you.

---

We spent the weekend in Woodstock, New York, the guest of Mr. Gaiman Himself. It was a break from Providence that I badly needed, a gasp of rejuvenating air in the mountains. The surprising thing is how at home I felt in those far northern limits of the Appalachians, when I grew up in their southerly foothills. But, there in the Catskills, I became aware of a commonality, in the stones, in the geology, in the height and taxonomy of trees, in the proper way the ridges and the branches hold the sky at bay. I was even able to enjoy autumn, to a degree. We'll be going back for two or three weeks in November, and I hope that will be time enough to truly heal a bit. I expect to begin the next novel there, among the mountains. The next real novel, because those Quinn things do not count.

It was a good three days. We talked about the things you talk about, given the circumstances. There was ice wine. We watched herds of chipmunks scamper through the bracken and rotting pines logs. There were grand discourses on the history of folk rock and beat poets. I saw the beautiful new edition of Neil's The Sleeper and the Spindle. Long walks in the forest. Rumors of Ursus americanus. Thank you, Neil.

Here are a few photos...

4-6 October 2014Collapse )


The window's open in my office. The sun's out, proving the weather forecast a lie. I ought to be Outside today.

Later,
Aunt Beast

* Not to be confused with my short story, "A Mountain Walked."
Shaw
The cold is back, as it's opened the door for the evil, insane, black shit that hides, always, behind my eyes. I don't know – I honestly do not fucking know – how I'm going to make it through another Rhode Island winter. No, actually, I don't know how I'm going to make it through another Rhode Island autumn.

I haven't left the house since Monday. It's rained for days, now.

There's been nothing of consequence, nothing worth mentioning except that my two contributor's copies of the Centipede Press edition of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir arrived on Tuesday. I can honestly say that no edition of any book I've ever written has ever been even half this beautiful. Thank you, everyone who made it happen. Please note that Subterranean Press has sold out of the edition, and it will likely sell out completely by the end of October. So, if you'd like a copy, you should order directly from Centipede Press very soon. I have two photos from the Opening of the Box:







Photographs Copyright © 2014 by Kathryn P. Pollnac



And, frankly, I have nothing else to say. It would only come out mean and shitty.

If You can't Say Something [ ],
Aunt Beast
Narcissa
So, yes, the unexpected warm weather came and left again. There were two comfortable days; this morning I needed the space heater again (I didn't actually get it out).

Kathryn and I both felt cruddy for a couple of days, mild side effects of our flu shots. But we went to Brown and Thayer Street on Sunday. There was an art's festival of some sort. And aliens.

I spent yesterday at the Providence Athenaeum, because it was a pleasant enough place to have to go over the page proofs for Raisin' Hell, to make sure all the STETs had been noted and my changes made and so forth. Fuck, but this novel has an ugly cover. A cover with no redeeming qualities. I can't even say it's my worst cover. But holy fuck, it's bad. You want me to sign copies of that novel, the first you'll have to let me rip the cover off. I can't even fairly say this book has cover art. It's just cheesy, by-the-numbers, cut-and-paste pararom shit. Which is a million shades of ironic.

Anyway, this afternoon I'll type up the notes on the page proofs and send them to my editor, and then, kittens, then I will be done with Siobhan Quinn forever. What started three years and four months ago – give or take a few days – will be over. And it's a great relief. I wish I could say the experience hasn't been a nightmare, but it has. Someday, maybe I'll write "tell-all" essay about it for Sirenia Digest (but I doubt it).

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions and also at Kathryn's Etsy shop. Thank you. The extra money is needed just now. There's a copy of The Dry Salvages, which we haven't offered in a very long time, and a couple of the hard-to-find chapbooks.

And that' all the time I have for now. Today, I mean to clean my damn office.

Later,
Aunt Beast
Shaw
Sunny and the sky too blue.

Yesterday, I needed to be out of the House. That may or may not be the same thing as needing to be Outside. We got out flu shots. The we stopped by Paper Nautilus Books, where, thanks to the Great Purge of 2014, we still have over $500 in credit. I picked up three books – Walking on Eggs: The Astonishing Discovery of Thousands of Dinosaur Eggs in the Badlands of Patagonia by Luis Chiappe and Lowell Dingus (2001), Unraveling Piltdown:: The Science Fraud of the Century and Its Solution by John Evangelist Walsh (1996), and the 1962 Canaveral Press reprint of At the Earth's Core (1914). We went by Eastside Market, then home. Spooky and I played a couple of hours of The Secret World together, and then we got an absolutely superb pizza from Fellini's (roasted red peppers, fresh garlics, mushrooms, ricotta, feta, mozzarella, and meatballs). We watched two movies and the most recent episode of Project Runway.

The first film, Anthony DiBlasi's Dread (2009) had its moments, but, in the end, too few of them to add up to a genuinely worthwhile whole. It could have benefitted greatly from the "less is more" approach. A little subtly. Also, I don't know why, but axe murders bore me. The second film, on the other hand, was very good, David and Àlex Pastor's Los últimos días (2013; English title, The Last Days).

That was yesterday.

---

There are things that writers learn to take for granted. One of them is readers who insist in telling us that our work is hard to procure. It doesn't happen to me nearly as much as it used to, and there's a good reason: My work is absolutely not hard to find. If you can't find my books in actual bookstores (including used bookstores), every one of them can be purchased from Amazon. The small press volumes may be purchased directly from Subterranean Press and Centipede Press. Yes, almost all of those are out of print, and yes, you do need a credit card or a PayPal account to order books off the web. But most people have those. Oh, and if the books are out of print, there's always EBay, where often my books can be found at a discount, and where they are sometimes expensive, but where they can always be found. But, if money is an issue (and it is for me), there are LIBRARIES. Many libraries actually do carry my books, including hardcopy, ebook, and audiobook versions. Yeah, you can actually check out ebooks and audiobooks. It's freaky. And if your local library doesn't have a book of mine, pretty much any book I've ever written can be acquired via interlibrary loan. Library's are very, very happy to do interlibrary loans. And, with a few clicks, anyone can subscribe to Sirenia Digest, as long you have an email and a credit card (and we even work out other payment arrangements, on occasion). Lastly, finally, if you have no money and you're terrified of libraries, and if you're ethics are a little flabby, I doubt there's anything I've ever published that can't be acquired online illegally, whether from BitTorrent or some other place that entitled weasels go to steal shit. Oh, and Google Books has stolen some stuff, too. So, there's that.

Almost all my books are, sadly, available as ebooks. Yes, I fucking loathe ebooks.

So, to summarize, no, it is not hard to find my books. Not anywhere on earth with an internet connection. Period. The end. Let's not ever have this talk again, please and thank you.

---

Today, I actually am going to put together Sirenia Digest #104.

So, later taters.

TTFN,
Aunt Beast
Shaw
Cold and cloudy here today. Week after the bomb weather. Month after Chicxulub. Cold. But I'm refusing either sweater or space heater. Not yet. Not this soon. There's talk of eighties this weekend, some crazy breath of Saint Martin's summer after the first wave of chill. It's all a fever in New England. Wish you were here.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,343 words, beginning and finishing the third section of "A Birth in the Wood of Self-Murderers." You get Dante, Blake, Conrad, and Dylan Thomas, plus dryads and keys to Hell. And a spaceship adrift. Thank me later.

And it has me in the frame of mind to read The Heart of Darkness again.

Today, in theory, I pull Sirenia Digest together. We shall see, shall we not?

Another Decade Getting High Until You're Free,
Aunt Beast
Shaw
The second day. Two hundred and forty days until summer. Give or take.

That's a long, long time, from where I'm sitting.

Yesterday was a good writing day. I did 1,845 words on "A Birth in the Wood of Self-Murderers" and finished the second section of the story. Today, I have to find THE END of the whole piece. It's looking like it'll come to a respectable 5,000 words, total. And for those of you who've been missing the profoundly weird and twisted "smut" of the early years of Sirenia Digest, this piece may make you smile. So to speak.

Ebay and Etsy! Please bid and buy, respectively. Thank you. Plus, there are those bonus Alabaster buttons.

Last night we finished Season Seven of Californication. Rarely has an initially brilliant television series plummeted to such abyssal depths as did Californication in it's last two or three years. Seasons One through Three are truly brilliant, and Season Four is good. After that, the series descends into surreal chaos, that, in this last season, became what seemed an unscripted travesty. Truly, truly awful. And sad to see something so good turn so bad. There was a story to tell, and it was essentially told by the end of Season Three. But the series just kept going...and going...going. Presumably, the ratings were high enough and enough money was being made to keep it going, and any concerns about quality were jettisoned. All fine writers know that when you've had your say, you get off the fucking stage.

We also saw the first episode of Season Four of Boardwalk Empire, a series that continues to stung me, with it's writing, direction, acting, costuming, set design, art direction, makeup, and cinematography. When I can look a show and find brilliance in pretty much every visible aspect of it's production, I'm impressed.

And I gotta write...

Counting,
Aunt Beast
Shaw
This won't be much of an entry, just something to mark the day, which is the first day of autumn, even though a lot of Wiccans evidently thought yesterday was the equinox. Fuck, I hate autumn.

That was the shortest, coldest summer of my life.

Day before yesterday I began something titled "A Birth in the Wood of Self-Murderers." I wrote 1,169 words on Sunday, and yesterday I wrote another 780 words. No, yesterday was not a good day.

Please note again (again): We're getting eBay back up and running. And every winning bidder gets a FREE Alabaster "Because Bird" pin. Also, the same deal applies to sales from Spooky's Etsy shop, while my limited supply lasts.

And that's all I have.

Living in the Sprawl,
Aunt Beast

"And drowning is no sin."

Shaw
The weather is not unpleasant today. It was considerably less unpleasant before I realized that this is the last day of Green Autumn (some other parts of the world might have Summer), that tomorrow is the equinox. I have no idea why my Wiccan acquaintances are calling today Mabon, by the way. Because tomorrow is the equinox. This is one reason why I made such a lousy Wiccan. I needed things to make sense.

I was up at the uncommonly early hour of 10:30 a.m.

I keep waiting for Peter Capaldi to click, and he keeps not clicking. Last night we watched "Time Heist," and it was a muddled, chaotic mess that finally came together in the last few minutes. Without Clara Oswald, the season would be, so far, an utter loss. Even Matt Smith clicked for me. I could believe him in the role. He just didn't click enough that I could see past the Ponds to enjoy him. Note that I said "Ponds." I was usually fine with Amy. Once Clara showed up, I loved the Matt Smith episodes. These episodes just drag on, with Peter Capadi looking lost and muttering all but incoherently in whatever that language is he speaks while Jenna Coleman looks, by turns, bored and frustrated. Oh, and Clara's grown the apparently necessary boyfriend, which is helping nothing whatsoever. If the writers can think of no other way to give a character depth but to stick them in a relationship outside their role as Companion, they might at least have given Clara a girlfriend. Or is that only allowed when we're talking about lizard women from the dawn of time? So, I say again, maybe next week.

Please note again: We're getting eBay back up and running. And every winning bidder gets a FREE Alabaster "Because Bird" pin. Also, the same deal applies to sales from Spooky's Etsy shop, while my limited supply lasts.

Yesterday I began a story that used neither of the titles I posted here yesterday, because it's an altogether different story. I hope it will be called "A Birth in the Wood of Self-Murderers." And hopefully I'll be able to finish this one, because I'm out of time.

Somehow, I squandered.

Fuck.

TTFN,
Aunt Beast

"If again the seas are silent..."

Narcissa
It's cloudy, but at least the wind isn't blowing today. The wind here makes me want to crawl under the bed.

Nothing was written yesterday, though I did try. I have a title that may or may not grow into anything: "Little Red Cap in the Hall of the Yellow King." I think it probably sounds better than "Rotkäppchen in Carcosa," but I might be wrong.

Please note: We're getting eBay back up and running. And every winning bidder gets a FREE Alabaster "Because Bird" pin. Also, the same deal applies to sales from Spooky's Etsy shop, while my limited supply lasts.

The page proofs for Rasin' Hell arrived. I've not opened the envelope. I may hurl it out the window and report back to NYC that everything is fine and honky, dandy and dory.

My contributor's copy of The Madness of Cthulhu, edited by S.T. Joshi, arrived. It includes "A Mountain Walked," a previously unpublished story of mine and, to date, my only Western.

Speaking of which...

We saw a superb film last night, David Michôd's The Rover (2013), with Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. It would be hard to recommend this film strongly enough. Though nominally post-apocalytic, The Rover is, essentially, a Western, in the mold of various Clint Eastwood films, with healthy doses of Cormac McCarthy. It's a marvelously bleak, soft-spoken creation, the quiet desolation of the Australian outback punctuated by sporadic bursts of violence. It's been a long time since a film has made me so anxious or, in the end, left me with such a feeling of...I'm not even sure I put my finger of the word. The soundtrack is perfectly matched to the landscape, and the cinematography is gorgeous. Robert Pattinson's performance is especially noteworthy and put me in mind of Montgomery Clift in The Misfits (1961). See The Rover as soon as you can.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

"Summer I was fearless."

Shaw
It's cold in my office. Actually cold. And I'm dreading dragging the space heater out. We've reached that point when the weather's too cold to open the window and still be comfortable, so I'm trapped with stale air and skies that are too blue. There's sunlight, but even the stingy warmth of a New England summer is fading from it.

And I'm not getting anything written. And I'm running out of time.

It's a tiresome and familiar refrain; I'm sick of hearing it.

On Wednesday, we drove down to Spooky's parents' place in South County, had questionable Chinese takeout, and watched all of the most recent season of Nurse Jackie in a single binge. The next morning was bright and chilly.

And we came home.

And here I am.

We're getting eBay back up and running. And every winning bidder gets a FREE Alabaster "Because Bird" pin. Also, the same deal applies to sales from Spooky's Etsy shop, while my limited supply lasts.

Now, I need coffee.

Cold,
Aunt Beast
Shaw
Okay, so, here's the state of My Little Ring-Tailed Lemur World:

1. On Sunday, I wrote 1,011 words on "Protoreaster nodosus (NYC 2014)" and realized that it's broken and needs to be gutted and reworked. It is, in fact, two short stories trying to be one. There's a story I was working on in, I think, December, "Oranges from Africa," and part of that story has made it's way into this story, and I can't see it working. And I don't have time right now to rip apart "Protoreaster nodosus (NYC 2014)" and try to rework it. This is why I don't rewrite. It's always, always earlier to just start over, from scratch, than it is to rewrite. I need to get Sirenia Digest #104 out by the 20th, so that I'll have nine days to work on the first script for the new Alabaster mini (my deadline is September 29th). So, I'm taking my 2,987 hard-won words and shelving "Protoreaster nodosus (NYC 2014)" until, maybe, next month. Or, more likely, November. Maybe it'll make #106.

2. This means I need a new story, a new idea, and I need to find that concept today.

3. We're getting eBay back up and running. And every winning bidder gets a FREE Alabaster "Because Bird" pin. Also, the same deal applies to sales from Spooky's Etsy shop, while my limited supply lasts.

4. Last night we watched "Robot of Sherwood," which was incredibly silly and by far my least favorite Doctor Who episode since the departure of the Ponds. Seriously, let's keep Paul Murphy and Mark Gatiss away from the toy box from now on, please.

5. Yesterday, needing to clear my head, and because we won't get many more vaguely warm days, Spooky and I went to the zoo. It was a pleasant couple of hours, despite the raging migraine I had yesterday, and my goddamn rotten feet. I'm getting moderately good at dealing with chronic pain. The elephants are almost always my favorite, though the Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) and the Giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyl a) and its nursing baby were pretty goddamn cool. Spooky took a bunch of photos. Here are a few, and I may post a few more tomorrow. This was much better than our last zoo visit, which, I think, was early in 2009. There was snow on the ground that time.

15 September 2014Collapse )


Which is all I have for now.

TTFN,
Aunt Beast

"The city sunset over me."

Shaw
We've had our first cold snap, on the heels of my return from Alabama and summer. On the one hand, the cold makes me sleepy; on the other, it makes it hard for me to actually sleep. The sky is that shade of blue today. I haven't left the house since Thursday.

Yesterday, "Protoreaster nodosus (NYC 2014)" finally seemed to gain some momentum. I wrote 1,022 words.

Alabaster fans take note: If you attended San Diego Comic Con this year and happened to stop by the Dark Horse booths, you might have been lucky enough to pick up one of these buttons. Designed by me, produced by Dark Horse, I have a few and will be including them free with upcoming eBay auctions and sales of items from Kathryn's Etsy shop, so...pay attention and keep watching the skies.



While in Birmingham, I made a "CARE package" of food I can't get in Providence, boxed it all up, took it to the post office in Leeds, and mailed it here. Included were:

1. 2 bottles Texas Pete pepper sauce (tiny tobasco peppers in vinegar), 4.5 fl. oz. each
2. 1 bottle Crystal hot sauce, 6 fl. oz.
3. 1 box chocolate Moon Pies, 12 count, 24 oz.
4. 2 boxes Luzianne tea bags (total, 62 tea bags)
5. 1 jar Bama apple jelly (16 oz.)
6. 1 can Café du Monde coffee and chicory 15 oz.

There were other things I'd have liked to gave included, but it was only practical to mail myself just so much. So, no Buffalo Rock ginger ale or Cheerwine.

Okay. Gotta do that thing.

TTFN,
Aunt Beast

Detroit Gothic

Bowie3
In the last decade there have been three truly great vampire films: Tomas Alfredson's Låt den Rätte Komma In (2008), Neil Jordan's Byzantium (2012), and – I can now say – Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive. We missed this amazing film when it showed in Boston, and the once unannounced, unadvertised week it came to Providence, but last night we finally saw it. I'm not good with reviews. I can rarely move beyond a few superlatives. So, I won't belabor the point. Only Lovers Left Alive is brilliant, beautiful, funny, terrible, sorrowful, and smart. It shines from a shadowy place. It's like Eve's white dwarf diamond, spinning in the blackness of space, sounding out across the void like a gong. It's spooky action at a distance. It's one of those films whose every frame is a work of art. It must be seen.

The writing is not going well. I struggled yesterday with "Protoreaster nodosus (NYC 2014)" and managed 307 words. In a week, I've written only 859 words.

I have to hope that today will be better.

It's gotten cold here, and there's no sun shining. Why has no one sent me the gift of Oxycodone? I'll gladly give an address...and a reciprocal gift.

Please have a look at the fine and shiny things in Kathryn's Etsy shop. She's raising money for new tattoos, and, I'm giving away an Alabaster button with every purchase.

By the way, in November I will be attending the World Fantasy Convention in D.C., my first WFC since 1996 in Chicago.

All For Now,
Aunt Beast
hallways
The week has raced by, and between resuming the drudgery of daily life in Providence and recovering from train-induced weariness and just trying to get back into the goddamn habit, not a lot's been written.

Wednesday, I began a story that I'm presently calling "Protoreaster nodosus (NYC 2014)." I wrote 544 words, 544 good words. And then I hit a brick wall.

Yesterday I was swept up by one of my increasingly rare manic spikes, my racing, rambling, roller-coaster brain working faster than my mouth was able to translate, and far faster than my fingers can manage. I spent a big chunk of it talking (too fast) to Kathryn about the trouble with "Protoreaster nodosus (NYC 2014)," which turned into a general discussion of the evolution of narrative structure in my fiction, from about "Andromeda Among the Stones" to now. And why Certain Other Writers who are far less skilled than I, and who have not been publishing nearly as long, are quite a bit more popular: Because they are – here's that word – accessible. There's nothing I can do about this. Or, maybe, there's nothing I will do about this.

All that matters to me is being good.

I caught up on email.

I've been working crosswords.

Please have a look at the Spooky's Etsy shop. She's raising money for new tattoos, and, I'm giving away an Alabaster button with every purchase.

I have photographs from Manhattan, taken during our three-hour stop at Penn Station on Saturday. All were on West 31st Street, views to the southeast, northwest, and west, between 1:22 p.m. and 1:28 p.m. The last two shots were taken from the train as we left Manhattan, at 4:10 p.m. and 4:11 p.m., the views more or less westward:

6 September 2014Collapse )


Black and White,
Aunt Beast

"Every sailor knows..."

octoheart
Every breaking wave on the shore
Tells the next one there'll be one more.
And every gambler knows that to lose
Is what you're really there for.
Summer I was fearless,
Now I speak into an answer phone.
Like every falling leaf on the breeze,
Winter wouldn't leave it alone.
Alone.

If you go?
If you go your way and I go mine,
Are we so,
Are we so helpless against the tide?
Baby, every dog on the street
Knows that we're in love with defeat.
Are we ready to be swept off our feet
And stop chasing
Every breaking wave?

Every sailor knows
That the sea is a friend made enemy.
And every shipwrecked soul knows what it is
To live without intimacy.
I thought I heard the captain's voice.
It's hard to listen while you preach.
Like every broken wave on the shore
This is as far as I could reach.

If you go?
If you go your way and I go mine,
Are we so,
Are we so helpless against the tide?
Baby, every dog on the street
Knows that we're in love with defeat.
Are we ready to be swept off our feet
And stop chasing
Every breaking wave?

The sea knows where are the rocks,
And drowning is no sin.
You know where my heart is;
The same place that your's has been.
We know that we fear to win,
And so we end before we begin.
Before we begin.

If you go?
If you go your way and I go mine,
Are we so,
Are we so helpless against the tide?
Baby, every dog on the street
Knows that we're in love with defeat.
Are we ready to be swept off our feet
And stop chasing
Every breaking wave?
~ U2, from Songs of Innocence

To my surprise, I'm really liking the new U2 album, Songs of Innocence, produced by Danger Mouse. This is certainly the best thing they've done since Achtung Baby and harks back to their earlier sound. The whole album may be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes store until October 13th.

So,
Aunt Beast
Roy Batty
I didn't think coming back would be this hard. I genuinely didn't. I thought the visit would give me strength that would help me endure. Help me abide in the coming cold. The cold that is here now. As with very many things, I was mistaken about that. If anything, the trip to Alabama only served to drive home how profoundly alien this place is to me and the sense that in no way do I belong here. It may be that it was a very bad idea, going.

I've been back three days, and, beyond a little email and a conversation with my agent, I've gotten nothing done.

And the anger is coming back at me. I've been living in role-play scenes, sleeping in between, trying not to think about it. But the role-play inevitably leads me to anger all its own, because people piss me off. Sooner or later, almost everyone pisses me off.

I need to find a way to push back the anger and work. Just work. Shut out everything else, but, really, there isn't anything else for me. I need to write a new story for the next issue of Sirenia Digest, which is #104. I need to find enough of the story for Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird that I can get started on it as soon as the digest is out, because, as it stands, the script for part one is due on the twenty-third. The page proofs for Cherry Bomb will be arriving any day now.

More and more, the journal seems utterly fucking irrelevant.

Here's a series of photographs I took our last night in Leeds:

4 September 2014Collapse )


Regretful,
Aunt Beast
Shaw
How is it I actually feel worse after sleeping eight-plus hours in my own bed than four-plus hours on the train? And then there's the migraine.

We finally made it home last night at (precisely) one twenty-one a.m., several hours late. On the last leg of our trip back to Providence, as our train was passing the Fairfield, Connecticut station, it struck and killed a man. The incident might have been a suicide, but it was probably just a terrible accident. No one has much in the way of answers yet. The police detained the train for over two hours. When they finally disembarked (quite a few were on the train), we made it only as far as New Haven when we had to stop for another forty minutes or so to be sure there was no damage to the engine from the incident. Then, somewhere near the Connecticut-Rhode Island state line, the train had to stop a third time, because a drawbridge had been raised and couldn't be lowered.

I'm not even going to try to describe the hell that was getting stuck on the "party train" between Birmingham and Atlanta, but the blaring booty music and drunks dancing in the aisles and screaming "Who Dat!" made me long for the power to make people's heads explode. Kathryn shot video, and we will both be lodging complaints with Amtrak.

But, two weeks later, I'm back in Providence.

I've come home to a lot of neglected work. And also to my author's copies of the Brazilian edition The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. It's a very handsome trade paperback, far sturdier than almost all US paperbacks.

There was a long dream this morning that involved me dating Joan Jett. Also, lecturing to a group of the Carboniferous geology of Alabama. Also, Kathryn yelling at me about drugs.

I have this photograph from our last night in Leeds. Kathryn and I went out for a long drive through the late summer night, and we ended up parked in the vacant lot between 1st and 2nd avenues NE. When I was a kid, this is where carnivals set up, where tent revivals were held. The air was warm and sticky and sweet; the insects were loud. The smoke stacks of the Lehigh Portland Cement Company loom up above the field (when I was young, it was the Standard Portland Cement Company), less than three hundred yards to the south. This is the landscape of my youth, and that field and that factory underscore how much I miss the "dirty old town" that Leeds once was. What Leeds has become, too much of it, especially off towards Moody, is a hideous post-Wal-Mart, bloated, sprawling, fast-food addled, gaudy subdivision-scarred consumerist nightmare. But in old downtown, you can, thankfully, still see what Leeds was when I was growing up. I have lots of fine photos from that drive, which I'll post later. For now, I leave you with this one, me in that vacant lot, beneath the waxing moon, gazing fondly towards the cement plant.



Perhaps the strangest part of the trip – well one of the strangest parts – was Mom giving me my Gradpa Ramey's old shotgun and my Grandma Ramey's revolver. I left them both in Leeds, of course, but now I'm the owner of two firearms. I have mixed feelings about this, but I am grateful to have them. Does this mean it's time for me to join the goddamn NRA?

Already Missing Alabama,
Aunt Beast
sol
Tomorrow we head back to Providence, another long ride on the Crescent Line. I just wanted to post something short this afternoon. I thought, very much, that today I'd be ready to head back, and I'm surprised to find that I'm not. The sun, the sky, the heat, the clouds, the quality of light, the trees, the mountains – modest Appalachian foothills though they are – all are conspiring to make me wish I could stay.

This afternoon, late, we drove past the old junior high school (there's now a new junior high school), the school I attended for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, 1975-1978. These days it's being used as a sort of community center, though, looking through the windows, it seemed completely unchanged since that day I last set foot in it, thirty-six years ago. The old lunch room was empty, missing all the tables and chairs and serving lines. But the rest seemed unchanged. Too many things have changed, so that was a comfort.

The next entry I make, I'll be back in Providence.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast
sol
And here it is September, and here it is Tuesday, and on Friday afternoon we board the train back to Providence. When I left it home, it seemed I had a very clear idea of what I was coming here to do. But as every day has passed, as the time has slipped away from me, I have become less and less certain. This morning I awoke and realized not only did I not know why I'd come, but, regardless, time was almost up. Three more days. That's all I have. And then it's back to Rhode Island, and I have no way of being sure how long it will be until I make it back south again.

So, presently, I'm a little frustrated.

This afternoon, we'll probably head back to Birmingham, though I cannot say that I'm entirely certain why. It doesn't help that I'm coming off a three-day migraine, which is a sure way to screw up any trip anywhere. I suspect the air conditioning is to blame, the AC and the dry air caused by the AC. Back home, there's really no air conditioning to speak of, and...I'm rambling.

I need to have the broad strokes of Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird in my head, and I don't.

Yesterday, we had barbecue for Labor Day, and my Aunt Pat and Aunt Joanne (my mother's sisters) came over, and also my my cousin India (Pat's oldest daughter). It was good seeing them, as it had been many years since the last time. I meant to get a group photo before they left, but then I forgot.

Now that I'm typing, I really don't think I'm up to this entry. Maybe I'll try again this evening.

Uncertain,
Aunt Beast
Shaw
After that last entry, I essentially gave up the idea of attempting to keep a running journal of this trip. Perhaps I'll regret it later, but, as I was saying, the observer effect comes into play.

And so, here I am, since last Sunday. I've been here a week, and I'm fairly certain I've not done even half the things I intended to do. I've spend many hours going through old family photographs, dating back to the first decade of the twentieth century, because I wish to know and not forget. I wish to learn and preserve. And so much of that information, my history, has already been lost. It's all become foggy half memories, and if it isn't recorded now, it will be lost. Though my aunts Pat and Joanne (my mother's sisters) are doing a lot of genealogy work, and my mother is doing some, I have this feeling that if it's ever all gathered in one place and written out, that will fall to me. And the piles of photographs are unlabeled, uncataloged, and not stored in archival sleeves, boxes, albums. But it's many months of work. I've been able to do little but survey what's here at my mom's house in Leeds. There's a lot more than I expected.

I've been scanning photos of me, my sister, my mother, my father, from 1964 through the late seventies. I've posted a few to Facebook.

Here's a rough and skimpy breakdown of the days:

Sunday, August 24th: Arrived in Birmingham about noon. Mom picked us up at the station and drove us around Leeds, and we had utterly delicious barbeque from Rusty's Church of the Tasty Pig.

Monday, August 25th: Let's not discuss the trip to Wal-Mart with my mother. But after that, which didn't happen, Kathryn and I drove out to Moody and Trussville to see and photograph two houses I lived in as a kid and my old high school (Hewitt-Trussville). See this entry for details and photos. And we had Rusty's again. I blame Kathryn's love of fried okra.

Tuesday, August 26th: We rested. Then Mom drove us out to Kendricks Cemetery in Dunnavant, over the mountain to the south of Leeds, where my Grandma and Grandpa Ramey are buried, along with much of my mother's side of the family. It was late in the day, I photographed headstones for reference, and the day was beautiful. We watched Sunshine with my mom, because she'd never seen it. See this entry.

Wednesday, August 27th: Not an exciting day. I scanned photos and made a blog entry,nothing much memorable, therefore, I've already forgotten much of the day. This is why I blog. Anyway, we did some exploring downtown, old downtown. I won't even acknowledge the nightmare of Leeds' unchecked eastern expansion, where it's melded with the cancer of Moody, forming this great melanoma of consumerism. Mom made chicken and dumplings, and we watched Firefly with her, because she'd not seen it, either.

Thursday, August 28th: We braved the heat (fortunately, the humidity was very low) and went into Birmingham to explore places where I've lived. We began with the Southern History wing of the Birmingham Public Library. Then on to Liberty House, where I resided from 1997 to 2002, the big loft down on Morris by the tracks. Also, the old apartment complex on 16th Avenue South, built in 1923 and originally called Grandview. I lived there from late 1989 until April 1994, when I moved to Athens, Georgia. We visited Charlemagne Record Exchange at Little Five Points, which I was ecstatic to see has survived the destructive gentrification of the neighborhood. In one of the bins, Kathryn found a copy of the ultra-rare 1984 Harlan Ellison Reads "On the Downhill Side." I'll call him when I get back to Providence to tell him I found it. I also picked up a used copy of the Cowboy Junkies' The Caution Horses (1990), which I only have on vinyl. We visited the house on 19th Street South where in lived from 1987 to 1989. At the end of that dead-end street is the block house that's the entrance to the old water works tunnel, as seen in Threshold. Back home, Mom made lasagna.

Friday, August 29th: A laid-back day. I scanned photos and had a long conversation with my my mother, mostly about mental illness and transgender issues. It was a good talk. Late in the day, Kathryn and I visited the house on 3rd Avenue Southeast here in Leeds, where my family lived from 1976 until 1979, four years, the longest we ever lived anywhere when I was a kid. It sits in the shadow of the cement plant, at the end of the street. I loved that house, and it was used as the model for Spyder Baxter's home in Silk. We also stopped by the house, two blocks over, at 8344 1st Avenue Southeast, where we lived, briefly, in 1975. Mom made enchiladas for dinner, and we went out again after dark, because I wanted to see the darkened streets. In Leeds, streets are still allowed to be dark after sunset. The cement plant is like an industrial Christmas tree. Back home again, we watched Project Runway and the two new episodes of Defiance, including the season finale. We ate Moon Pies.

Saturday: Lots more photo scanning, and we drove down 119, past Lake Purdy (dry and muddy from the ongoing drought, black stumps jutting from the mud) and visited the only Whole Foods in Alabama, out of 280. I needed ramen. Afterwards, we stopped for doughnuts at Krispy Kreme. I'm eating far, far too much sugar on this trip. Mom cooked a beef roast in the crock pot. I broke down and did some RP in The Secret World.

And that gets us to today. My mom's at a funeral, my Aunt Evelyn Hartsfield, one of my Grandfather Wright's many sisters, who died on Thursday. Kathryn and I went out and drove about for a couple of hours, around Leeds and down 119, some of the roads off 119. The day is beautiful, and the mountain is a glorious green, shaded by thunderheads that may or may not give us rain. Later, we'll go out again.

There's this from Facebook, which I posted today:

It's not bad enough that there's goddamn SHOPPING MALL in Leeds now. No. That's not bad enough. Some douchebag decided to call it "The Shops at Grand River." Now, there is no fucking GRAND RIVER in Leeds. There is a TINY little thing called the Little Cahaba River, hardly more than an ambitious trickle. We used to call it "the creek" when I was was a kid. HOWEVER, "the Shops at Grand River" aren't even on the Little Cahaba. They're at Stinking Creek. No, really. That's it's name. So, what the fuck, assholes?

Here are a few photos, a bit of a random selection, I'm afraid:

Birmingham and Leeds, Alabama, August 2014Collapse )


Down South,
Aunt Beast

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