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Mourning in America

It's cold here, 37˚F, with the windchill at 30˚F. There's only the greyest evidence of the sun.

I tried to write yesterday, but nothing much came of it. The facts of the hour caught up to me and shut me down.

And now there's today.

I'm fasting today. It's the least thing that I can do.

Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast

Today is the last day of President Barack Obama's second term, and dark days lie ahead of us all. Today, we stand on the threshold of the unthinkable. But President Obama has been, I believe, the greatest president of my lifetime, which begins with Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. I pray that we will have a future history to remember Obama as the great man that he is. I pray that we will survive these grim mistakes, and that there is far side to the nightmare that begins tomorrow. I pray that one day we will find our way again and America can be America once more. I pray that posterity will forgive us. That is my atheist's prayer.

----

Today is the 208th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birth.

---

The sun came back today. Currently, here in Providence it's 42˚F, with a windchill of 37˚F.

Yesterday, I managed only a paltry 356 words on "Tupelo" before work was thwarted by an attempt to medicate away my cough. I won't make the same mistake again. I also signed the signature sheets for the deluxe edition of Lynne Jamneck's anthology, Dreams from the Witch House, which includes my story "Our Lady of Arsia Mons."

If you've not already preordered Dear Sweet Filthy World and Agents of Dreamland, I hope that you will remedy that soon. Thank you.

Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast

Bowie, Outside

So, I have this Bowie icon that I've been using here for many, many years. It's the one on this entry. I can't recall where I got it. I found it somewhere. A week or so ago I got curious enough about the provenance of the image to do a Google image search. Turns out, it's detail from a photo from a Steven Klein/Bowie shoot that appeared in L'Uomo Vogue back in September 2003. I'm including most of those photographs, behind the cut, below. The first one in the series is the source of my LJ icon:

Klein/BowieCollapse )


The idea was basically a mashup of Blade Runner (hence Priss) and Bowie's Outside (1995). Now, where this all gets really interesting for me is when these images are cross-referenced with the deeply disturbing, recurring dreams I was having in the winter of 2007 that led to me writing first "A Season of Broken Dolls" and then "In View of Nothing" (as detailed in the chapbook B is for Beginnings; Subterranean Press, 2009). At the time, I noted the connection between those stories, the dreams, and Outside, and Kathryn pointed out at the time that I'd been sleeping to Blade Runner. Now, I don't remember ever actually seeing this photo spread before last week, but I can't swear that I didn't. Regardless, the parallels are there, and it was an eerie sort of jolt, seeing the images.

Submitted, for your consideration. I just wanted to share.

Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast
I'm still coughing. I must be expending more than half my energy every day just fucking coughing. By late afternoon, early evening, I'm exhausted, day after day.

And it's still overcast here. Currently, it's 38˚F, with a windchill of 31˚F.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,101 words on "Tupelo." On Facebook, I posted: "The new Dancy story, "Tupelo," has reached 5,000 words, and it's hardly started. I fear it's developed novella ambitions." Which is true. It's impossible for me to imagine this story coming in under 10,000 words. However, if I use SFFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) standards, 10,000 words will actually only make it a novelette, a word I find somewhat precious and annoying. Anyway, I'm going to need several more days before the story is done, regardless of what you call it.

I haven't left the house since the 13th.

Right now, this is the world outside the Red Room:



Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast
Overcast today. Currently, it's 37˚F, with a 33˚F windchill.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,076 words on "Tupelo," the new Dancy story. It will be included in Sirenia Digest #132.

I don't have much more than that. So, see you tomorrow.

Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast

It's cold and sunny today, but unseasonably warm weather and rain are on the way. Currently, it's 31˚F.

My favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quote is most likely, “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” I admit, though, I have a lot of trouble living up to it. The natural human reflex is, I believe, to return hate with hate, and too often I am human.

I didn't write yesterday. I erased everything I wrote the day before, then had no idea what to replace it with. Today, I try again.

Rezistenţă, pace şi compasiune,
Matusa Fiarei
Cold and sunny today. Currently, it's 33˚F, and the windchill is at 23˚F.

I awoke too soon, in a panic because I haven't made more progress on "Tupelo," and here is is already the 15th of the month. The first month of 2017 will be half over at noon today. I lost the first ten days to this crud that I'm still not 100% recovered from, and so far I'm only about 2,500 words into a story I imagine going to at least 8,000 words. That needs to be finished by the 21st or so. yesterday, I only managed only 431 words, and I have a feeling that none of them are keepers.

Good morning.

And I hate winter. I hate this cold and that sky and the grey landscape.

---

A few days back, I ran across this in my entry for January 12, 2014:

Yesterday, I spent about three hours reading over "The Prayer of Ninety Cats," which will be appearing in another forthcoming "year's best" anthology. It's a story I can look at and be proud of what I've done. It's one of, say, ten things that I've written that I know are well and truly very, very good. Decades of work went into creating that story.

I had no memory of having written that. But on November 9th of the same year I received the World Fantasy Award for "The Prayer of Ninety Cats," so I suppose maybe my judgment isn't so bad, after all.

---

Last night, we watched Beeban Kidron's To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), because Spooky had never seen it, and I likely had not seen in since about '97. It's a sweet little fairy tale. Pun intended. I'm sure the film is now somehow entirely politically incorrect. But the sight of RuPaul clothed in the Confederate flag as she descends into a ballroom of drag queens is an image for the ages.

My birth certificate might say I was born in 1964, but this morning I feel at least sixty-seven.

Widerstand, Frieden und Mitgefühl,
Tante Bestie
Cold and sunny today. Currently, the temperature in Providence is only 24˚F, with the windchill at 17˚F.

Yesterday, on a sudden whim, and because I'd not left the house in almost a week, we went to a 1 p.m. showing of Gareth Edwards' Rogue One (2016). When I got got home, I posted the following to Facebook: "I absolutely LOVED Rogue One. Hey, George Lucas, *that* was the Star Wars prequel I waited so long to see. Wow. Just...wow. My face hurts from smiling." Except, I think I liked it more than that. Really, a wonderful film. I've been a fan of Edwards since Monsters (2010), though you may remember I didn't like his Godzilla reboot (2014). But Rogue One hits all the right notes, and it's an actual Star Wars film about the actual war, and it's raw and gritty and dirty and very dark. It is, dare I say it, brave. And Darth Vader has never been as menacing as he is in this film. In his review of the film, setsuled wrote: "Rogue One was designed to be more of a war film, a team war film like The Dirty Dozen (1967) or Where Eagles Dare (1968)," and yes, this is exactly correct. I would also name The Guns of Navarone (1961) and Force Ten from Navarone (1968) as important touchstones. The casting and acting were excellent throughout. I loved The Force Awakens, but I have to say that I actually think Rogue One is the superior film. Surprsingly, I wasn't really bothered by the CGI versions of Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher, though that's the sort of thing that very often does give me the willies. Also, Rogue One stands as another example of the alt-right Nazi brigade's complete incompetence at orchestrating a boycott of anything.

Afterwards, we came home and I reviewed an errata sheet for Dear Sweet Filthy World, then sent my responses to those questions, along with Spooky's corrections, to Subterranean Press. And if you have not yet ordered the book, please do.

Today, I have to get back to work on "Tupelo."

On the one hand, news that Caitlin Jenner has accepted Trump's invitation to appear at the inauguration gives me one more reason to loathe Jenner. But on the OTHER hand, I get a joyous wash of schadenfreude thinking about how much it'll piss off the alt-right and many others of Trump's followers (who still don't know what they've voted for).

I have a photo from the theater, a view of the city to which I am not accustomed (4:36 p.m., view to the west, towards the Woonasquatucket River):



Resistencia, la paz y la compasión,
Bestia de tía
Sunny today. Currently, it's 45˚F, with the windchill at 39˚F. Yesterday was freakishly warm, with the high reaching 59˚F. Towards sunset, I went downstairs and outside for a few minutes. I hadn't been out of the house since the 7th. I was able to comfortably be barefoot on the sidewalk.

I'm still coughing.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,462 words on the new Dancy story, which is now titled "Tupelo," even though it's set in Birmingham. Spooky finished with the page proofs for Dear Sweet Filthy World, and today we have to send our notes to Subterranean Press.

I think that's all I have for now, except for this photograph of an apocalyptic sky hanging over our street yesterday afternoon.



Résistance, paix et Compassion,
Bête de tante
Overcast today, and it's currently 54˚F, with the windchill at 50˚F. There was more rain last night, and now I can see very little evidence remaining of the snow.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,088 words on the new Dancy story. I changed the title to "Saint Joan in Babylon," but I'm pretty sure that's not the right title, either. I may change it to "Tupelo," even though the story isn't set in Tupelo. Meanwhile, Kathryn spent most of yesterday doing a last minute check through the page proofs for the collection, trying to make sure all the billion changes I marked on the galley were made. She has to finish that today, because the deadline is tomorrow.

Please note that yesterday Subterranean Press revamped their website, and the links I've given to preorder Dear Sweet Filthy World are no longer valid. Please use this one, instead, and please do preorder.

Yesterday, setsuled made a post about Osgood Perkins' magnificent I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House, and it's a fine review, and there's a bit that I'd like to quote:

Director Osgood Perkins does such a good job at putting us in Lily's perspective that the unresolved clues feel like a realistic mystery that forces the mind to come up with its own inferences. In films, as in many other forms of storytelling, the more you can get the audience to use their own imagination for you, the more effective your work of art will be.

This is absolutely true of prose weird fiction, but it's probably the hardest thing to sell to contemporary readers. I've spent my career struggling with readers who don't want to do the work, who are offended when I ask them to think for themselves and mistake my insistence that they do so as a deficiency in my writing. Moviegoers are the same way, of course. Just look at the IMDb rating for I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House. It's a 4.8/10, for what is quite probably the best "horror" film of 2016. Of course, the brilliant slow burn of the film's pacing is another thing that works against it, as it is forced to be judged by a population that has largely been left with only the most vestigial excuse for an attention span.

While I was writing this entry, the sun came out. That's a relief.

My pajama pants were made in Vietnam. The Red Bull I'm drinking was shipped here from Austria. I'll never see either place.

Here. Have a kitten. A very large kitten who sleeps in a dog bed that's too small for him.



Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast
On this day one year ago, I learned of the death of David Bowie. And what followed was the shortest year of my life.

It's sunny today. Sunny and presently 49˚F (!). A hard rain came last night and washed away most of the snow.

Yesterday, I wrote out three pages of notes for the new Dancy story, which I will begin today. I also cleaned out my file cabinet, which resulted in another box and a half to go to storage. The effort didn't exhaust me, so I'm assuming that, except for a lingering cough, I'm free and clear of the crud that hit me New Year's Eve. It cost me about ten days.

If you've not yet preordered Dear Sweet Filthy World, please do so ASAP. Thank you.

My Vicodin script can't be refilled until Friday, so I'm high and dry until then, getting by on kratom. Okay, more dry than high.

Yesterday afternoon, Spooky made molasses and ginger cookies, and for dinner she made andouille sausages, collards, and mac and cheese. Comfort food. We spent the evening with the television and GW2. In Lornar's Pass, Nellis Rose Snow reached Level 53. I have not left the house since the 7th.

Have a cookie.



Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast
The sun's out, and it will be much warmer today. So, the snow will begin to melt. Currently, it's 19˚F, no windchill. That's a damn heatwave.

Yesterday, I spent maybe an hour talking with Spooky about the Dancy story, and then I signed the signature sheets for The Weight of Words, the forthcoming collection of short stories based on Dave McKean images. It includes my story "Objects in the Mirror," and if you haven't preordered you should; it will likely sell out before publication.* After the signature sheets, I got my old drag box down from the top of the bedroom closet and opened it up for the first time in about a billion years. Well, at least since sometime in Atlanta. At least a decade. An assortment of ancient makeup and other artifacts, a one dollar bill that I got as a tip during a show in 1991 or 1992 or maybe 1993, a lone false eyelash.

And there really wasn't much else to yesterday.

I took photos to prove I'm not just making all this excitement up.







That round pink sticker on the end of the Caboodle, that's from the April 25, 1993 GLB march on Washington, which I attended with Jada Walker, Katharine Stewart, and Jennifer Caudle. We drove up from Birmingham.** And yes, back then, the initialism was much shorter. The name of my drag persona, Aleisha Palance, is written on the top of the box in black Sharpie, but it's mostly rubbed off. This is only one of my two drag boxes. The other seems to have vanished.





Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast

* And in fact, I see that both the lettered and limited editions have already sold out. But there are still copies of the trade hardback edition available.
** To quote Wikipedia's article on the march, "The March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation was a large political rally that took place in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 1993. Organizers estimated that 1,000,000 attended the March. The D.C. Police Department put the number between 800,000 and more than 1 million. The National Park Service estimated attendance at 300,000, but their figure attracted so much negative attention that it shortly thereafter stopped issuing attendance estimates for similar events."

Four Vicodin

No photograph today. It just didn't happen. Maybe that's because I'm still not well, though I spent yesterday trying to pretend that I am. Or maybe it's because it's only 15˚F outside, with a 5˚F windchill. Last night, the low was 6˚F, with a windchill below zero. This impresses no one who lives in Ontario and Quebec, but my ass is from Alabama. So.

I was trying to wake up enough to write yesterday and decided to pack up a bunch of short-story files for storage. An hour later, one box of files later, I was breathless and drenched in a cold sweat. And there was no writing. Which was me realizing I'm not quite yet well. Today, I have to either crack the resistant outer shell of the new Dancy story or move onto something else. I lost a week to this bug, and that means I lost a week that could have been spent finding my way into this story.

Spooky made molasses cookies last night.

Happy birthday to Morgan M. Page, my daughter in another worldline.

Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast

"Sending me so far away, so far away."

Bitter cold here. I'm not sure how much snow we got yesterday and last night. A few inches. Currently, it's 17˚F, but the windchill is at 6˚F. However, the sun has come out, at least for now. There may be mores snow showers this evening.

Today would have been David Bowie's 70th birthday.

I sat here yesterday trying to find the opening paragraph of the Dancy story. Ironically, as unhappy as I have been with almost all the Alabaster comics since after the original Wolves miniseries, this particular story would be a lot easier to tell as a comic. Not for any reasons that people might expect. There are no action scenes, for example.

Let that be cryptic, Caitlín.

I have this photo from last night, after midnight, looking down at the street from the front parlour:



Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast

Call from an Ice Planet

It's been snowing all day. It's still snowing. The world is blanketed in white. And I spent the day trying to get the new Dancy story started and doing some handwashing and taking a hot bath and trying hard to ignore the lingering effects of the crud. I'm still tiring far too easily. Spooky made chili for dinner, with fresh lime and jalapeno. And now I'm trying to stay warm. Currently, it's 20˚F here in Providence, but the windchill is at 4˚F.

There's frost on the inside of my office storm windows.

"If she asked me to I'd murder..."

I awoke to snow. This one sort of snuck up on us. We have a couple of inches now, with much more on the way tomorrow. Currently, it's 27˚F, with the windchill at 20˚F. An hour ago it was overcast, but now a sun that brings no warmth has come out, to mock us all.

Happy birthday to one of my favorite authors, Kathe Koja.

There's still snot. I sound like Froggy from the Our Gang films. I get weak easily. But I've come through the worst of whatever that was. I need a bath. I feel like I need to burn all the bedding and the clothes I wore while I was sick. I have that urge.

I need to begin the Dancy Flammarion story I put on hold in December. I've lost a week, almost.

Yesterday, I managed to sit here from about 10 a.m. until about 4:30 p.m., and then I got woozy again and spent most of the evening on my back. But, you know, not in a fun way.

Last night, we watched The Purge: Anarchy (2014). And, yeah, it's better than the first film, but it's still reaching for something that is clearly out of James DeMonaco's reach. This is not really an awful movie, but it is, at best, soundly mediocre. A better filmmaker could have done something much more interesting with this concept. The second film does take much greater steps to show us the America of the Purge, which is one of the major improvements. And the protagonists are a bit more human. And there's Michael K. Williams, even if there's too little of him.

Okay, I gotta go figure out what's what. I have photos, below, behind the cut, snow and Hubero in a puzzle box.

Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast

Today, Last NightCollapse )
Today, the sun is back. It came back for a hour or so yesterday, but was soon hidden by the sun again. We have snow on the way, but for now, we have sun. Currently, in Providence it's 31˚F, with a windchill at 21˚F. This is a bit more seasonable than was yesterday.

I'm better, much better. And maybe it isn't the flu. Or a strain of flu, I should say. It's also possible that it is the flu, but I'm being spared the worst of it because I got my shot in October. I certainly have all the symptoms and all the discomfort. Many studies indicate that influenza vaccines lessen the duration and severity of the infection. The older I get, the more I am a proponent of flu shots, regardless of the fact that their efficacy varies from year to year.

Today, I try to get back to work. I've lost three days.

Yesterday afternoon, I finished the Alice puzzle and watched an episode of Nova about the discovery of wreck of the HMS Erebus in 2014.

Last night, I could once again taste food and so Spooky made spaghetti. Then we watched James DeMonaco's less than entirely successful The Purge (2013). It's ambitious, but gets lost in its own violence. That is to say, rather than spending most of its time examining the world that has made "the annual Purge" acceptable, it spends 90% of it's running time on what is, essentially, a story about a family defending itself from intruders. It sort of recovers at the end, but by then the damage has been done and many opportunities have been lost. But it does have its moments. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey are not entirely wasted in their respective roles. This is more true with Headey than with Hawke. It left me wondering if Shirley Jackson started all this in 1948 with "The Lottery" or if there's some older incarnation of this theme. In the sixty-nine year since Jackson's short story, we've seen it again and again and again, from Thomas Tyron's Harvest Home (1973) to Stephen King's The Long Walk (1979), from Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games (2008) to James DeMonaco's The Purge. Of course, ultimately, this is simply the story of the virgin sacrificed to "the dragon" to save the whole village, an innocent sacrificed to the gods, Theseus and his Minotaur, but I'm wondering more in terms of when the meme (in the unfortunate parlance of our times) entered into Western literature and the pop-culture consciousness. I should know these things. You'd think I would. I'd add, regarding The Purge, the film would have felt a lot more like science fiction before the Horror Clown was handed the presidency two months ago. The unthinkable becomes ever more thinkable. I'll probably watch the two sequels.

I leave you with my "sick pajamas," which are actually Spooky's, but she's let me wear them while I'm ill:



Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast

Howard Hughes Wheezes

Needless to say, this is not how I intended the year to begin.

But after being pretty much too sick to move yesterday and last night, I woke this morning feeling much, much better. My fever broke last night. Now, I just have to force myself to take it easy and hope there's no relapse. Probably, that means it'll be another day or two before I can really get back to work. That's a week lost. Last night, I slept on the air mattress in the front parlour, so that my tossing and turning and getting up and down wouldn't keep Kathryn awake. I think I slept four or five hours, which was a vast improvement over the two nights before.

Still no sun. Our third consecutive overcast day. Currently, it's unseasonably warm here in Providence, 42˚F, with the windchill at 37˚F, and the high is forecast at 48˚F. There are seventy-five days of winter remaining to suffer through. I just have to make it seventy-five days more. There's some sort of snow on the way.

Anyway, that's the report from the plague house.

Resistance, Peace, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast

Entry #4,854

It seems that even though I got my flu vaccination in October, that I have the flu. This is the first time I've ever come down with it in a year I got the shot. Anyway, this is also the first time I've really been able to sit up since yesterday afternoon. I just worked on a jigsaw puzzle for about half an hour, and now I'm doing this, and then I'm going that lie down again. I've had a fever for two days now. Last night it went to 100.4˚F, which might not seem to bad is your normal body temperature in 98.6˚F. However, mine is 97.7˚F. I've hardly slept the past two nights.

The weather is rainy, overcast, cold. Currently, it's 43˚F, with the windchill at 36˚F.

I'm really lousy at being sick.

Peace, Resistance, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast

Howard Hughes and the Snot Monster

Cloudy today. Currently, it's 35˚F, but feels like 31˚F. And I'm sick. As I said on Facebook about an hour ago, I am sick as the proverbial dog. First bad cold I've caught since the autumn of 2013, which is pretty unbelievable for someone who takes such shitty care of herself. My throat's so bad I sound like Santino Rice. Ugh, the snot. The aches. The fever. The nasty, damp Kleenex everywhere I look.

Yesterday, I worked on a jigsaw puzzle and made the mistake of going outside for about five minutes. Walking up and down stairs wiped me out. I spent the rest of the night lying on the floor in the front parlor watching TV. Given that feel worse today than I did yesterday, I'm thinking there's more of that floor in my immediate future.

Spooky made black-eyed peas and collards last night, but, thanks to the bug, it all tasted kind of like paste to me.

Here's the photo I took when I went outside yesterday. I had a point to prove about the sky.



Peace, Resistance, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast
The cool thing about singing along with the Pogues, it's a lot easier to do when you're sick and your throat is full of snot. Which is to say, yesterday I caught Spooky's crud. Hopefully, if I pamper this husk I call a body, I'll be okay in a couple of days. It's sunny today, we have a wide carnivorous sky, carnivorous blue, but that's better than a rainy New Year's Day I cannot in good conscious wish anyone a happy new year. I don't have the hope for that. I can only wish that you all live to see 2018 and that the calamities to come are minimal.

NIN's Year Zero (2007) will be my album for the Horror Clown years.

Perhaps my greatest accomplishment during 2016 was that I managed to make a LiveJournal entry for every single day, all 366 days of it. Go me. Whether I shall do that again this year, who knows. It was a lark.

Spooky and I spent New year's Eve playing GW2 and watching (again) Season Six of RuPaul's Drag Race

I have three books coming out this year, and I have a novel to write. But we'll talk about that when I feel better.

Peace, Resistance, and Compassion,
Aunt Beast

Postscript: Oh, and here's my last photo of that spiteful, shitty, murderous year, dusk on the final day of the calendar:

And here, the last day of this foul year. It's appropriately overcast here in Providence, 32˚F, windchill at 25˚F. It should be overcast the world over, mourning 2016 and the fear of 2017. This year, the ball drops on an entirely different variety of uncertainty.

On the one hand, I feel like this was an unprecedentedly unproductive year for me, thanks to a prolonged spell of writing difficulty, pretty much the beginning of April through the beginning of September, five months during which I was able to finish only a single story, "Whisper Road (Murder Ballad No. 9)." And yet, when I tally the year's stories, I am surprised to see that I did better than I did in 2015:

"Eurydice Eduction" (Sirenia Digest #119, December 2015)*
"Study for an Electronaut's Ovid (AD 2052)" (Sirenia Digest #120, January 2016)
"Pillbug" (Sirenia Digest #122, March 2016)
"Objects in the Mirror" (for Dave McKean and William Schafer's forthcoming The Weight of Words)
"When Even the Darkness is Something to See (A Fragment)" (Sirenia Digest #123, May 2016)
"Epithalamium (A Fragment)" (Sirenia Digest #123, May 2016)
"Whisper Road (Murder Ballad No. 9)" (Sirenia Digest #125, July 2016)
"The Chartreuse Alphabet (Parts One & Two)" (Sirenia Digest #128 and #129, September 2016)
"Animals Pull the Night Around Their Shoulders" (Sirenia Digest #128, September 2016)
"M is for Mars" (novella for Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales)**
"Antediluvian Homesick Blues" (Sirenia Digest #129, October 2016)
"The Line Between the Devil's Teeth (Murder Ballad No. 10)" (Sirenia Digest #130, November 2016)
"Untitled Psychiatrist #1" (Sirenia Digest #131, December 2016)
"The Sick Rose, Redux" (Sirenia Digest #131, December 2016)

* Written in January 2016, though it appeared in the belated December 2015 Sirenia Digest #119.
** Built from the bones of The Dinosaurs of Mars, but mostly new prose.

I should say also that I spent an enormous amount of energy in 2016 (that could have been spent writing) editing three collection, Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales, Dear Sweet Fithy World, and the stillborn Cambrian Tales: Juvenilia.

Meanwhile, yeah, a lot of famous people died in 2016, and some of us felt like the year was in a vendetta kind of mood as regards our personal heroes. I lost an uncommon number of heroes to this evil year, including musicians (David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, for fucks sake), actors (Alan Rickman, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and Gene Wilder), and authors (Katherine Dunn and Harper Lee, Pat Conroy and Umberto Eco and Richard Adams). There are fucking lists of the dead all over the fucking place, and I'm not gonna attempt anything like that here.

There were some good films, though I saw fewer than I usually did. Here are some favorites, unranked:

01. Arrival (dir. Denis Villeneuve)
02. Hail, Ceaser! (dir. the Cohen Bros.)
03. Hell or High Water (dir. David Mackenzie)
04. 10 Cloverfield Lane (dir. Dan Trachtenberg)
05. Midnight Special (dir. Jeff Nichols)
06. Café Society (dir. Woody Allen)
07. Captain Fantastic (dir. Matt Ross)
08. Green Room (dir. Jeremy Saulnier)
10. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (dir. Oz Perkins)
11. The Neon Demon (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)
12. One More Time With Feeling (dir. Andrew Dominik)
13. Zootopia (dir. Byron Howard et al.)
14. Elvis & Nixon (dir. Liza Johnson)

Probably the only reason that Rogue One isn't on this list is that I haven't yet seen it. And a special honorable mention of the marvelous Stranger Things, created by Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer.

Yesterday was spent moving 4,849 entries over to Dreamwidth. You can find them under The Real Aunt Beast (therealauntbeast). It's a work in progress. It's still unformatted and the 65,421 comments haven't yet made it over. However, LJ is still the main journal. That's just a backup, in case something happens to LJ.

And here is my last photo of 2016. Well, no, probably my next to last photo of 2016. I was not yet quite awake when I took it:



Ta Ta Until 2017,
Aunt Beast
12.

Happy 70th Birthday, Patti Smith

"Just the ghost, the ghost of a smile."

Sunny today, and it's currently 40˚F, with the windchill at 31˚F.

Today, Elizabeth would have turned 46.

I need to get clean again, starting today.

Sirenia Digest #131 went out to subscribers this morning, so if you're on the list, it ought to be in your inbox. Yesterday was spent proofreading the two stories for this issue, then pulling the layout together. And working on an Alice in Wonderland puzzle we're doing.

I'm very much hoping that the sanctions against Russia don't mean the demise of LiveJournal. I've had a home here since 2004. But it's best to assume the worst and then prepare for it. So, I'll be backing everything up to Dreamwidth again, maybe with a new account. I don't like Dreamwdith, but there aren't a lot of choices.

Last night, I made spaghetti for dinner. I got Nellis Rose Snow to Level 28. And I read "Osteology and affinities of Dollo's goniopholidid (Mesoeucrocodylia) from the Early Cretaceous of Bernissart, Belgium" and "Sabinosuchus coahuilensis, a new dyrosaurid crocodyliform from the Escondido Formation (Maastrichtian) of Coahuila, Mexico." Whee.

TTFN,
Aunt Beast

Overcast today, 33˚F.

One day, Carrie Fisher dies. The next day, Debbie Reynolds dies. That's 2016.

Somehow, I slept eight hours last night. Or somewhere in the neighborhood of eight hours. I've been averaging five to six.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,517 words and finished "Untitled Psychiatrist #1," which will be appearing with "The Sick Rose, Redux" in Sirenia Digest #131. I'll be proofreading and assembling the issue today, and it will go out to subscribers either tonight or tomorrow. So, keep watching the skies, kittens.

I am told that Weird Fiction Review #7 includes an article titled "Haunted Perceptions: Fear and Trembling in the Works of Caitlín R. Kiernan." I have not yet seen the issue.

Also, yesterday our thermostat blew out, and we had to get an electrician dude to come in and replace it. Lest we freeze or something. And Spooky's been sick since just before Xmas Eve, and if she doesn't get well soon and make it to the market, we're going to have to eat the cats. Last night, I made fettuccine with pesto and sweet Italian sausages, but that was officially the last of the "good" food.

Last night, we watched episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race that we'd already seen. I find Season Five imminently rewatchable. And I played with my pretty little illusionist Tyrian drag boy, leveling Nellis Rose Snow to 25. And I RPed on Etherpad with stsisyphus. And that was yesterday.

TTFN,
Aunt Beast

My Princess, My General

Sunny today and 38˚F, with the windchill at 32˚F. Which makes it a bit more seasonable.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,018 words on what I'm calling "Untitled Psychiatrist #1."

----

When I was in eighth grade, I read Watership Down eight times. I read that book until the cover of my paperback copy fell off and had to be scotch taped back on again (I still have that copy). In eighth grade, Star Wars was released, and I fell in love with Princess Leia Organa, one of my very first movie crushes. So, that was 1976 and 1977, and for the past thirty-nine, forty years both Richard Adams and Carrie Fisher have been part of the landscape of my imagination and part of my world. On Christmas Eve, Richard Adams died, and yesterday Carrie Fisher died, two more deaths at the ass end of the bloody calamity of a year. Adams was 96. He'd had a fine, long life. But Carrie Fisher was only 60. To quote sovay, "People who are in the middle of making new art are not supposed to be stopped. Planets aren't supposed to get blown up, either, but here we are." RIP Richard Adams and Carrie Fisher. You both gave me heroes. You taught me that both rabbits and women can be heroes.

And the "stop blaming 2016, it's just a date on a calendar" people are just being pedantic little, contrarian shits, and they need to shut the fuck up. Thank you.

----

I have the first major review for Dear Sweet Filthy World, from Kirkus, and it's a very fine review, indeed. I've been sitting on this one since December 22nd, almost a week ago now, when Bill Schafer sent it to me, but said I had to keep quiet about it until after the 27th. Well, it's after the 27th, and here it is:

DEAR SWEET FILTHY WORLD
Author: Caitlín R. Kiernan

Review Issue Date: January 15, 2017
Online Publish Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher:Subterranean Press
Pages: 304
Price ( Hardcover ): $40.00
Price ( e-book ): $4.99
Publication Date: March 31, 2017
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-59606-819-3
ISBN ( e-book ): 978-1-59606-820-9
Category: Fiction

Horror blends with love, obsession, transformed bodies, and terrifying mysteries in this collection of stories. Kiernan's surreal and often unsettling fiction derives much of its power from the way it causes characters and readers alike to question reality via a shroud of narrative ambiguity. The best stories in this new collection channel this mysterious and haunting quality by invoking other creative disciplines. The protagonist of "Workprint," a moody narrative abounding with menace, receives a mysterious film still that leads her to explore the world of special effects in the 1980s, hinting at a secret and unsettling cinematic history. A painter confronts inexplicable weather—indoor snow, specifically—in "Three Months, Three Scenes, With Snow." Here, too, the protagonist searches for the answer to a question that defies logical explanation—always a warning sign in the realm of the uncanny. And opener "Werewolf Smile" brings together seemingly disparate elements—the legacy of the Black Dahlia murder, the slow dissolution of a relationship, and a centuries-old legend of lycanthropy—to produce a slow-building, genuinely disorienting work of horror. Other stories explore more fantastical realms. "— 30 —" follows one writer's quest to overcome a severe case of writer's block, which leads her to investigate supernatural remedies. In the end, though, the most memorable aspect of the story isn't its foray into the paranormal but the elegiac quality it takes on as it explores questions of memory and sacrifice. And "Another Tale of Two Cities," in which the narrator is transformed into a city by a microscopic civilization, brings together elements of body horror and science fiction in an unpredictable way. At their best, these stories are sinister and beguiling in equal measure, tracing the border between fear and obsession and asking powerful questions about desire along the way.

----

Yesterday evening, I left the house for the first time since Friday. I took this photograph on Broadway:



Later Taters,
Aunt Beast
Overcast, rainy, and currently 55˚F, same as when I went to bed last night at about 4 a.m. In late December. This is the weird weather that happens when you combine global warming with a coastal New England climate.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,020 words on something new that's currently wearing the title "Untitled Psychiatrist #1." It will appear alongside "The Sick Rose, Redux" in Sirenia Digest #131.

Despite being one of the most LGBT-friendly games out there, maybe the most, with gay, lesbian, and trans NPCs, Guild Wars 2 restricts avatar creation to a strictly binary gender model. And it's hard as hell to make a feminine human male, but last night I finally managed it. Meet Nellis Rose Snow, a young drag queen from Divinity's Reach (he's also a mesmer, but that's a secret):






I played about eight hours of GW2 last night and leveled Nellis to Level 18, questing in Queensdale, Wayfairer Foothills, and Snowden Drifts. Nellis is my fourteenth character in the game. All the others have level capped at 80. I suspect Nellis is going to be my favorite for a while.

And now, work.

TTFN,
Aunt Beast
Currently, it's sunny and 32˚F here in Providence. The windchill drops us to 27˚F.

Almost against all odds, I actually had a good Christmas. But I worked hard at it. The fifty-two cards I received from readers helped a great deal. Fifty-two, from all around the world! When I requested cards, I never imagined that so many would arrive. So, I think that will be a new annual tradition. I'll make the request again next year. Thank you all so very much, all fifty-two of you.

Spooky and I stayed in all day and worked on an Alice in Wonderland jigsaw puzzle. There'd been talk of going out to see Rogue One (to which I'm very much looking forward), but she's been fighting a cold, so we did the puzzle instead. She gave me Darin A. Croft's delightful book on South American fossil mammals, Horned Armadillos and Rafting Monkeys, plus a Tylosaurus proriger T-shirt (!) and a tiny compass. Her mom gave me the Penguin Classics collection of Charles Beaumont's short fiction, Perchance to Dream, and Kenneth Carpenter's Acrocanthosaurus: Inside and Out. I gave her a wooden jigsaw puzzle, Anthony Bourdain's Appetites: A Cookbook, a Shirley Collins CD, and sock monkey mittens. For Xmas dinner Spooky made a marvelous fried hash from leftover Xmas Eve fingerling potatoes, walnuts, Brussels sprouts, apple, and mushrooms (all of which had been cooked with the Cornish hens on Saturday night), and we had some kielbasa and mac and cheese with it. We watched Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), just like pretty much ever year. It was a good damn Xmas.

Today, I need to begin a second piece of fiction of Sirenia Digest #131, a short vignette to accompany "The Sick Rose, Redux."

I have three photos:







Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

"Oh, oh, when I was younger..."

It's cold and sunny here in Providence. which is at least better than yesterday's cold and cloudy and wet. Currently, it's 45˚F, with the windchill at 39˚F.

Yesterday, I wrote 864 words on "The Sick Rose, Redux" and found THE END.

Last night, after an enormous dinner, Spooky and I did what we pretty much always do on Xmas Eve. We watched Bad(der) Santa (2003) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1969). It occurs to me that I first saw How the Grinch Stole Christmas on my sixth Xmas.

No photo today, just a quick post to mark the word count and say "Happy Holidays," whatever that should mean to you.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

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