Log in

Trying to wake up. It was after sunrise before I got to sleep, though I'm hazy on how long after sunrise. Sometime between five and six. We've had a string of days that have only just sort of qualified as hot, but the house gets dreadfully warm if the temperature nudges over eighty. So, lots of cold dinners and lying very still at night and the whirring of fans. There's a cool down coming, though, this weekend, and we'll be back into the seventies and sixties. I do not welcome it.

Because business drags its feet and takes its own sweet time, we're looking at mid or late September for the move back to Birmingham, instead of August.

I've not really made any progress on the screenplay. Almost all my work has been focused on proofreading and correcting the manuscript for Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales. And we've been doing that at the Hay, because there's air conditioning, and, too, because if one must waste days of one's life proofreading at least it can be done amid grandeur. While I proof, Spooky's been transcribing the text from old typescripts into MS Word, so I can assemble the ms. for the volume of juvenilia that Subterranean Press will be publishing in 2016. I do not envy her. There are four photos from Tuesday.

A Day in JuneCollapse )

Spooky says she had a good birthday yesterday. We went to Warwick for a 40th anniversary showing of Jaws. I was one of those in the audience who saw it in theatres in the Summer of '75. I was eleven. After the movie, we stopped at Newbury Comics so Spooky could get one of her gifts, a special pressing of Violent Femmes on green marbled vinyl. Then we drove back to Providence for Thai food at Bee's over on Ives Street, and then we got cake and ice cream for Spooky. Back home, we played a little Guild Wars 2, then watched Jeff Preiss' wonderful film Low Down (2014), which I strongly recommend. A look at the life of jazz pianist Joe Albany from the eyes of his daughter.* An amazing cast, including Elle Fanning, John Hawkes, Glenn Close, Peter Dinklage, Flea, Lena Headey, and Caleb Landry Jones. See it.

And then I tried to sleep. And watched the sun rise. Which is what I do. It's my secret job.

Aunt Beast

*The film is based on her 2003 book, Low Down: Junk, Jazz, and Other Fairy Tales from Childhood (Bloomsbury).

The Nagging of the Subject Line

Currently 81˚F in the house, and 82˚F outside the house. Our multitude of fans are spinning. But at least I'm not cold. I might have slept two hours last night. The Seroquel has been leaving me both foggy and tense, and I didn't take it last night. So, no sleep.

I dozed off sometime after dawn, and then I awoke an hour later with my hair drenched and matted with sweat.

There's not a lot to report. I've been trying to make progress on the screenplay, and when that doesn't work, I'm turning to the Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales manuscript. Proofreading, editing. Trying the undo mistakes I made in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002. It's goddamn tedious and depressing work. But this is how I react to reprints, always. Reprints mean revision. I wonder if anyone's ever compared the 1998 text of Silk to the 2007 text of Silk? Or compared each of the dozen or so incarnations of the "The Steam Dancer (1896)"? No piece of prose is ever "finished."


From Facebook, yesterday:

I strongly recommend Paul Thomas Anderson's 2014 adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's novel Inherent Vice.

Yes, I'm saddened at the news of Hannibal's cancellation, but I've said since the start that it's too smart, weird, and dark for a Big 4 network. So, I'm grateful for the three marvelous seasons (no. 3 amazing me the most, thus far). And perhaps it will be picked up by another network (Showtime, Netflix, Amazon, etc.), though I get the impression that Fuller will be devoting most of his effort of American Gods for Starz.

The "to read" stack beside my bed: Brian Evenson's The Open Curtain, Jeff VanderMeer's Area X (second reading), Stephen Puelo's Dark Tide: The Great Molasses Flood of 1919, Mark Z. Danielewski's The Familiar (Vol. 1), AND Elizabeth Kolbert's Field Notes From A Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change.

My copies of the special edition of the Portuguese translation (Brazilian edition) of The Drowning Girl (A Menina Submersa) arrived today. I have to admit I'm a bit pleased at the love this edition is getting. Never thought I'd be big in Brazil.


Geoffrey visited Sunday night, and we watched the first episode of Season Two of True Detective. I was extremely pleased with it.

I'm managing to simultaneously read "A new metriorhynchoid (Crocodylomorpha, Thalattosuchia) from the Middle Jurassic of Oregon and the evolutionary timing of marine adaptations in thalattosuchian crocodylomorphs" and "Purranisaurus potens Rusconi, an enigmatic metriorhynchid from the Late Jurassic–Early Cretaceous of the Neuquén Basin." There's a lot of overlap.

I think that's all for now.

Aunt Beast

A name, a date.

So, to answer my question as to the identity of the sculptor who did the Poe bust at the Hay, I realized the answer was right there under my nose, that you coiuld see a name and a date on one of the photos I took. So, I enlarged it:

A.B. Cianfarani

Aristide Berto Cianfarani (1895-1960) was an Italian-born sculptor who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design. Mystery solved.

Aunt Beast

"Make me a beast half as brave."

No entry since Tuesday. I hadn't realized it had been so long. Well, there you go. It wasn't a very notable week. Chilly New England summer days, difficulty working, sour, black moods, half a dozen or so movies, and so on and so forth. The weather was better yesterday. We actually reached 85˚F. Today the chill is back. Currently, it's only 71˚F and cloudy. Tomorrow is Midsummer, and it's going to be rainy and low seventies.

The best part of the week was spending two days at the Hay, in the Willis Reading Room, proofreading the ms. for Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales (Centipede Press, 2016). All these years I've been here and I had no idea that marvelous space existed, which is what I get for not thoroughly exploring my surroundings. It was closed for renovations from June 2013 to September 2014, but I've been here since May 2008. So, I've only myself to blame. I'd never have found it had Brown University not asked for my papers. Anyway, yes, a fine and quiet place to work. The Willis Reading Room is almost as good as sitting beneath the Ezra Winter murals in the Linn-Henley Research Library in Birmingham. I've made it through only 131 pages (the ms., without the unwritten novella, is nearly 600 pages long), because I'm the slowest reader alive. I hate proofing, but at least I now have a comfortable, pleasant place to do it. There are a few photographs from Thursday, behind the cut:

The HayCollapse )


Abstract from "Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction," Gerardo Ceballos et al., Science Advances 19 June 2015 (Vol. 1, no. 5):

The oft-repeated claim that Earth’s biota is entering a sixth “mass extinction” depends on clearly demonstrating that current extinction rates are far above the “background” rates prevailing in the five previous mass extinctions. Earlier estimates of extinction rates have been criticized for using assumptions that might overestimate the severity of the extinction crisis. We assess, using extremely conservative assumptions, whether human activities are causing a mass extinction. First, we use a recent estimate of a background rate of 2 mammal extinctions per 10,000 species per 100 years (that is, 2 E/MSY), which is twice as high as widely used previous estimates. We then compare this rate with the current rate of mammal and vertebrate extinctions. The latter is conservatively low because listing a species as extinct requires meeting stringent criteria. Even under our assumptions, which would tend to minimize evidence of an incipient mass extinction, the average rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century is up to 114 times higher than the background rate. Under the 2 E/MSY background rate, the number of species that have gone extinct in the last century would have taken, depending on the vertebrate taxon, between 800 and 10,000 years to disappear. These estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way. Averting a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services is still possible through intensified conservation efforts, but that window of opportunity is rapidly closing.


The sun's out. I should go.

Aunt Beast

"Wanting to Die"

Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.
Then the almost unnameable lust returns.

Even then I have nothing against life.
I know well the grass blades you mention,
the furniture you have placed under the sun.

But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.

Twice I have so simply declared myself,
have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,
have taken on his craft, his magic.

In this way, heavy and thoughtful,
warmer than oil or water,
I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.

I did not think of my body at needle point.
Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.
Suicides have already betrayed the body.

Still-born, they don’t always die,
but dazzled, they can’t forget a drug so sweet
that even children would look on and smile.

To thrust all that life under your tongue!—
that, all by itself, becomes a passion.
Death’s a sad bone; bruised, you’d say,

and yet she waits for me, year after year,
to so delicately undo an old wound,
to empty my breath from its bad prison.

Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,
raging at the fruit a pumped-up moon,
leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,

leaving the page of the book carelessly open,
something unsaid, the phone off the hook
and the love whatever it was, an infection.
~ Anne Sexton

Summer in Retrograde

Happy Bloomsday.

We had a few days of warm weather. And now Cold Spring is back full force. High sixties yesterday, and today we might reach 78˚F, but I sort of doubt it. Currently, we're at 68˚F. In my sleep, I visit dazzlingly torrid places.

I worked on The Screenplay yesterday. I wrote about five pages to Clint Mansell's score for The Fountain and Cliff Martinez' score for Solaris. It's slow and tedious work that in no way resembles writing prose.

Today, I have to fight through the mood crash that the temperature crash brought on. Yesterday's high was more than twenty degrees cooler than Sunday's high.

Kathryn's mom is having knee surgery today.

Yesterday I read another turtle paper, "A new dermatemydid (Testudines, Kinosternoidea) from the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, Willwood Formation, southeastern Bighorn Basin, Wyoming." And we watched the new episode of Halt and Catch Fire. We tried a couple of episodes of Mike Judge's Silicon Valley, but I found it tiresome and annoying and unfunny. It's the sort of thing that actually needs a laugh track, so you'll at least know what was meant to be humorous. So, we watched Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997). I've seen most Tarantino films more times than I can count; I'd only ever seen Jackie Brown once, in the theatre. And Kathryn had never seen it. It's much better than I recall.

Spooky's birthday is very near now, and she has a wish list at Amazon. (hint, hint)

Aunt Beast
This is going to be another sad and ribsy excuse for an entry. I slept maybe four hours. It's still summer, but that could always end at any moment. Currently, it's 81˚F.

I actually got virtually nothing done yesterday. It was the sort of day that – well, never mind. All that matters is that I do better today.

Yesterday, I read "Late Triassic tanystropheids (Reptilia, Archosauromorpha) from northern New Mexico (Petrified Forest Member, Chinle Formation) and the biogeography, functional morphology, and evolution of Tanystropheidae."

Aunt Beast
I'm almost unaccountably homesick today, as I was yesterday. It leaves me disoriented and anxious. But at least the cold is gone, for the moment. Currently, it's 78˚F and cloudy.

Yesterday, I finished the rough layout of the ms. for Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales and then printed all 506 pages. This is not, however, the complete manuscript. I still have to add the excerpt from Daughter of Hounds and write the 25k-word novella (the latter won't happen until next month).

I'm thinking I'm not in the mood for this, writing a blog entry.

Maybe later.

Aunt Beast

"A part-time thing, a paper ring."

Today is the ninth anniversary of Sophie's death. Time just hemorrhages.

It seems that summer has finally arrived in Providence. Eighties the last two days and a projected high of 86˚F today. It's a welcome respite from the lingering chill of Cold Spring. And I slept well for three consecutive nights. But last night wasn't one of them. So, I'm a little foggy today.

We lost Christopher Lee. I met him in London in October 1997, and he borrowed a pen from me. What a fine fellow was he.

Wednesday was spent in the storage units in Pawtucket, sweating and sorting through both the dust and newsprint detritus of my life, putting together the second lot of material for the John Hay Library. This included Pandora, my MacIntosh Color Classic, my first Mac and the machine on which I wrote Silk, Threshold, and every one on my short stories that was "penned" between July 1993 and September 2001. Also, several manuscripts and hand-corrected CEMs, the keyboard that The Drowning Girl and The Red Tree were written on, a copy of pretty much every novel, chapbook, collection, and comic that I've ever published (there are a few gaps left to fill), one of my two copies of the Death's Little Sister demo tape (The Regrets and a Curse), and the last of my DC/Vertigo files (Box 2 of 2). Yesterday, we met Christopher Geissler at 2 p.m. and unloaded the van onto a big hand truck. I think it was all even stranger this time around than last, handing over so much of my past. Pandora, that was the strangest part of all, but she'll be safe with the Hay. Kathryn and I will be delivering the third lot of material in early July. Christopher says that there will, at some point, be "an event," including an exhibit and lecture/s, probably timed to coincide not with this coming Necronomicon but the next, in 2017.

After two days staring at the past, I need to turn my attention back to the here and now. To wit, I said on Facebook day before yesterday:

Really close to announcing very, very big news, related to the screenplay I've been working on since January. I think what will surprise people is how big this news actually is. Me, I'm just tired of keeping the secret. Even my mom doesn't know what's up! Hopefully, the announcement will come by the end of June.

Soon now, kittens. Soon.

When we got home I did some work on both Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales and the volume of juvenilia (title soon TBA). Last night, after a cold dinner of pasta salad, we gorged on the new season of Orange in the New Black. Well, I suppose the parlance of our times would have me say that we binged, but isn't it the same thing? Sure it is. Also, I read "The first soft-shelled turtle from the Jehol Biota of China," a description of the new Early Cretaceous genus Perochelys.

Aunt Beast

Entry No. 4,356

I slept at least eight hours last night and awoke to sun. Which means today is already a vastly better affair than yesterday. Currently, the temperature here in Providence is 79˚F, and they say it feels like 88˚F out there. We'll find out soon, as we have to head to the storage units in Pawtucket.

“I don't reveal skeletons that would hurt anyone. They may hurt the dead, but the dead belong to me.” ~ Anne Sexton

Yesterday I decided that I'd prefer the stories in Centipede Press' Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales be arranged chronologically, by year written, which meant I had to not only ditch the partially complete ms. file (all my mss. are compiled in MS Word), it meant I had to sit down and figure out the order these twenty-eight stories were written in, twenty-eight stories going all the way back to 1999. The oldest of the bunch is "Valentia," written in July 1999 and only ever collected once, in To Charles Fort, With Love (2005). Anyway, I managed to get the new Table of Contents done, and then I spent two hours actually compiling the rough ms. It now has to be printed (500+ pp.) and proofread. I also still have a new novella to write for the collection (25k words), and it will also includes excerpts from Daughter of Hounds, the only of my novels that can genuinely be said to tread "mythos" territory.

And I repeat, after the novella for Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales I will be writing no more Lovecraft stories.

There was a bizarre kerfuffle on Facebook two days back, because I wrote:

Please, please, please...as I have said a hundred times here, DO NOT USE THE ODIOUS "LOL" in your comments. NOT EVER. Thank you. And don't ask why. And if this post inspires you to be a smart ass and use "lol" in reply, you're banned.

Seven people "unfriended" me. I banned no one, but I do wish to point out that my Facebook page is private, not a public space. A lot of people whom I've "friended" seem not to understand that (the shudder quotes are there because I dislike how Facebook uses the word friend). Telling me what it's okay for you to do there is unacceptable.

Yesterday, I read "A new species of Ichthyosaurus from the Lower Jurassic of West Dorset, England, U.K," the holotype description of I. anningae. There are now four recognized species of Icthyosaurus; in 1900, there were more than fifty.

We saw a delightfully bizarre little film last night, David Guy Levy's Would You Rather (2012), a black and bloody bit of camp. Anyone familiar with the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Man from the South" (1960), based on a Roald Dahl story of the same name, then I you know the basic conceit of the film. Jeffrey Combs steals the show and helps the director keep Would You Rather clear of the torture porn ghetto. It's certainly a lot better than it's 5.8 rating on imdb.

And I need to brush my teeth and get dressed.

Certified Genuine Beast®,
Aunt Beast
Yesterday managed to be exceptionally grim, and I suppose I'll blame the weather. Today's an aftershock. But at least it's a little warmer, currently 73˚F. Still cloudy, though.

Sitting here, just before I began this entry, it occurred to me that babies born the day that Elizabeth committed suicide will soon turn twenty. Which utterly fucking blows my mind.

Yesterday was spent on Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird, checking over art, proofing the letterer's lettering, etc. Today I hope to finish compiling the manuscript for Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales. Tomorrow will be spent at the storage unit in Pawtucket. Thursday will be spent with Christopher Geissler at the John Hay Library.

The March issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology finally showed up yesterday.

It's an exciting goddamn life.

Yes, An Actual Beast,
Aunt Beast

"Go down. Go down."

I'm not sure how much I slept last night. But it can't have been more than four hours, at the most. Four hours clogged with nightmares. I suppose that was the price of two consecutive good nights sleep. I awoke to sun, which is something, at least. More than we'll get tomorrow, apparently. Currently, it's 69˚F. We may reach 73˚F.

It was a decent day yesterday, and my mood was decent all day and night. I spent several more hours working on "Our Lady of Arsia Mons," then pronounced it fairly well tinkered with and sent it away to the editors of Dreams from the Witch House. Next on my "to-do" list is assembling the ms. for Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales, so that I can begin the arduous task of proofreading that monster; it's going to be near to 200k-words long, and I have to get some notes to Dark Horse about the art on issues two and three of The Good, the Bad, and the Bird. And after that, it's all about the screenplay for at least two weeks. Well, except I have to go to the storage unit on Monday, and on Thursday I deliver the second batch of my papers – along with Pandora, my Mac Color Classic – to the John Hay Library.

I have too much to do to have fucking insomnia. But I've had it since we came back from Woodstock on March 31st.

Have I said yet that I'm only ever writing one more Lovecraftian "mythos" tale? Well, it's a fact. My last will be a novella written for Centipede Press, for Houses Under the Sea. After that, no more shoggoths or Mother Hydra or Elder Gods for me. People will ask me to explain why, and they won't like any of my answers. But here's an answer, anyway: It's become too easy.

Just after I started writing this entry, Selwyn settled into my office window, and I took a photo. A crappy photo, but here you go:

Last night, after a dinner of mushroom and cheese ravioli (mystery cheese) with sausages, we played a shit-ton of GW2. I'm enjoying it again, after leaving the game for so long. And then we began our fourth viewing of Season One of True Detective, in preparation for the beginning of Season Two on the 21st.

And now...fuck, I have no idea what I'm doing today. On only four hours sleep.

Aunt Beast

"Hello ruby in the dust."

Cloudy here, though they say a wind will come to blow these clouds out to sea. We dare to hope for 72˚F today; it's the best we'll get.*

I spent four hours editing "Our Lady of Tharsis Tholus" yesterday, and it became "Our Lady of Arsia Mons," which was, in fact, it's original title. I'll be spending at least that much time on it again today. Reading over it, I found various ways that it can be better. This is one reason I try not to read my own fiction once it's published. I rarely see anything but the places where I fumbled.

Kathryn and I find ourselves missing Woodstock and the cabin almost all the time. For some reason, I'm missing it a little extra today. Those woods must be beautiful in summer. We've only seen them in autumn and winter. Oh, and I miss being awakened by crows, instead of garbage trucks.

Yesterday was profoundly wretched.

The first episode of the new season on Hannibal is superb, likely one of the best of the series so far. Unfortunately, we followed it with the first episode of the Wachowski's Sense8. I was stunned by its unrelenting awfulness. As I've already said on Facebook, I found it bland as bland can get, ill conceived, poorly acted, with a dash of lousy writing and a side of directorial mediocrity. Think Whedon's Dollhouse. It was that bad. And I tend to count on the Wachowskis to produce, at the very fucking least, something that's pretty to look at. Even the horrid Jupiter Ascending managed that much. But not Sense8. I want to go back to Cloud Atlas and a world where the Wachowskis did great things.

And I need to work. The sun just came out.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

* Actually, we hit 74˚F.
Sunny today, though we're supposed to lose the sun soon. It's 67˚F, which is at least an improvement upon yesterday. Another good night's sleep last night, at least eight hours.

Workwise, yesterday was mostly frustration. Today, I hope, will be marginally less so. I have to read over "Our Lady of Tharsis Tholus" before I send it to Lynne Jamneck for the Dreams in the Witch House anthology. It's a long tale, almost ten thousand words, so that will likely take me all day. There's also Alabaster related business – I keep trying to forget about it. I'm not good at intentional forgetting.

This entry is beginning to look as anemic as I feel.

Last night we watched – finally – Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (2014), the only one of Jackson's six Tolkien films I didn't see in the theater. I'm honestly not sure what to say about it. It's the sort of thing that leaves me deeply conflicted. It was, for me, a thing that could only be enjoyed in spite of itself. When the needs of the 3D gimmick are placed before the interest of cinematography, a film is crippled from the outset, and Jackson crippled all three Hobbit films. The 48 fps format creates such a garish, disorienting, overly lit mess that it can be hard to see past. Nothing here has the splendor of Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. Like 3D, the "hyper-real" effect bestowed (probably unintentionally) by HFR works against the suspension of disbelief, the creation and maintenance of illusion. But, I knew all this going in. It's why I put off seeing the final film for so long. Still and all, I have to say that The Battle of Five Armies is the best of the three films. I enjoyed the fight at Dol Guldur, though I wish it had been handled more as Tolkien wrote it, as "the Battles of Lothlórien and Mirkwood," instead of "two elves and three wizards open a can of whup-ass on Sauron." I was surprised found myself caught up in the story of Kíli and Tauriel, and I liked Lee Pace as Thranduil. It didn't hurt that the Elvenking rode into battle on a what looked an awful lot like a Megaloceros.

Okay, I could go on, but I need to wake up and get to work.

Aunt Beast
The fight for sleep and summer continues here, and both a pretty much losing battles. Currently, it's 58˚F in Providence. Sunny and 58˚F. I slept for shit last night, though I slept very well night before last. At least eight hours, the best night I've had in ages. My body tells me that eight hours is ideal, that's the amount of sleep I need to function. My body also tells me that most nights it's incapable of sleeping more than five or six hours.

The days have been consumed by worry and stress and telephone meetings with agents. My editor at Penguin has announced that she's retiring on July 1st, and that cast a pall of uncertainty over everything. All is uncertainty.

I'm not awake enough to be writing this. Honestly, this spell of insomnia, spanning – so far – the past two months, is the worst of my entire life.

And it's cold here.

Yesterday, I read over "Rats Live On No Evil Star," which is being reprinted somewhere online (I actually cannot, off the top of my head, recall where). It's a story I wrote in 1998, I think, and it's very odd reading back over it seventeen years farther along. It is, I think, one of my better early stories. It holds up, especially given that I've managed to root out all those unfortunate "compounderations." And speaking of reprints, Clarkesworld has reprinted "Riding the White Bull," and you can read it for free, because this is The Future, god bless its shitty little heart. The story wasn't meant to be read with those huge spaces between paragraphs, but that's how we do it in 2015, you know.

Life is currently a blur of disappointing weather forecasts, stress, work, Guild Wars 2, insomnia, and movies. I'm pretty sure we've watched at least forty movies in the last months. I lay on the floor in the front parlour and watch these simulacra of life, these easier-on-my-eyes, unwritten fictions. In just the past three nights: Thomas McCarthy's The Station Agent (2003), David Chase's Not Fade Away (2012), Robert Benton's The Human Stain (2003), Tony Mahony and Angus Sampson's The Mule (2014), and Ben Ketai's Beneath (2013).

I'm impressed that I remembered all that. My eyes hurt.

I haven't left the house since Friday.

Aunt Beast

Grey Blue

Increasingly, the Seroquel simply isn't putting me to sleep. I've no idea why. The sky begins growing light at about 4:45 a.m., and the panic sets in. And now it's all but dawn, and I've still not slept.


"Believe me, the sun always shines on TV."

No sign of sun over Providence today. Sure, the sky's brighter than it was a midnight, but not by much. Currently, here in Cold Springland, it's 52˚F and feels like 49˚F, and the clouds rule the heavens. On the first day of June.

Yesterday, I wrote 762 words and found THE END of "Le Meneur des loups." It will appear in Sirenia Digest #112, which I hope will go out to subscribers tomorrow. I thought, back at the beginning, that the title (borrowed from Alexandre Dumas) would be changed. But having finished the piece, I see that this title is the proper title after all. Thank you, Mr. Dumas. You're a righteous dude.

I was going to write something more, but I think I'll wrap this up here. I admit I'm still a bit breathless from the climax of last night's episode of Game of Thrones. Brilliant. Also, last night's episode of Penny Dreadful includes quite possibly the hottest transgender sex scene ever on TV. Just thought you should know.

Aunt Beast
I shouldn't have dared to describe Friday's weather as "summerish." Though it's currently 80˚F in Providence, the forecast for June 1-2 calls for highs of 57˚F. My mood will follow the mercury down.

Yesterday, I wrote a little more than a thousand words on "Le Meneur des loups." I began compiling the manuscript for Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales. As it stands, this is going to be a huge book, approaching in length Two Worlds and In Between and Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea.

There's not much else to be said for yesterday. But we did finish Season One of AMC's Halt and Catch Fire. It's a worthy successor to Mad Men. I'm now eagerly awaiting Season Two.

Aunt Beast
Warm today. Warm yesterday. Currently, it's 78˚F and sunny, and the sky is far too blue for my eyes to look at for very long. But at least Cold Spring is slowly becoming something summerish.

Though I ought to have spent yesterday working on "Le Meneur des loups," I'd only slept about four hours, and there was no way in fuck that a coherent sentence was going to make it from my head onto paper. So, instead, we drove down to South County, to Moonstone Beach. We'd not visited Moonstone since May 12th of 2014, which seems very, very strange, given how often we went there during our first few years in Rhode Island. For a long time, it was "our" beach. And then, inexplicably, I fell out of love with the sea. Anyway, it was about 4 p.m. when we reached the shore. The sun was high and hot, despite a cool breeze. There were a few other people, all seeming various shades of bored and sun-addled. We didn't stay long, about half an hour. We likely spent two and a half hours driving, there and back (and there was back traffic heading back into Providence), for half an hour on the sand. Which is bullshit. But it was my fault we didn't stay longer. There are a few photographs, behind the cut:

29 May 2015Collapse )

We saw the pilot for Aquarius last night, and I'm sad to say I was very disappointed. David Duchovny is charming, because David Duchovny is always charming. But he hasn't much more to do here but wander about like Hank Moody in Joe Friday drag, delivering one liners and forgetting to Mirandize people (Miranda was new in 1967). His partner is played by some guy named Grey Damon whose douchebro haircut is one of the show's most annoying anachronisms. I saw a reviewer somewhere say that the show wears the sixties like an ill-fitting costume. Indeed. Anyway, the central storyline – the hunt for Charles Manson – is almost immediately sidetracked by an off-the-shelf "crime of the week" plot. As for Manson, Gethin Anthony plays him with absolutely no trace whatsoever of the killer's nightmarish charisma and lunacy. In the age of The Wire, Fargo, and True Detective, I expect a lot more from a detective show, even one airing on NBC. After all, this is the same network that's bringing us the far darker, far edgier, infinitely more artful Hannibal. Did I mention the lackluster writing?

On the other hand, we watched the first five or six episodes of AMC's Halt and Catch Fire. Unlike Aquarius, this series nails its period setting, which happens to be Dallas ca. 1983. The writing is sharp, and the actors bring passion and conviction to their roles. One of my personal litmus tests for great storytelling – no matter the medium – is the ability to fascinate me with something that, normally, doesn't interest me in the least. In this case, it's the development of the personal computer. I was very pleased to see that its been renewed for a second season.

I need to try to work.

Aunt Beast
Halfway through yesterday, a cold wind blew in and the temperature dropped. That happens here. By four p.m., I finally had to shut my window, the air was so chilly. Today's supposed to reach 80˚F, though we're currently at 72˚F. And while the humidity feels about 90%, it's actually only 73%.

I want to be at the shore. Or in Boston.

Yesterday, I managed a decent word count on "Le Meneur des loups," a little more than 1,000 words. I'm having to rework some of the beginning, much more than I usually do in the way of revision. On a very much related note, I've cut my gabapentin dose from 1500mg a day to 1200mg a day, hoping to clear my mind a little. It's become hard to work, and that's utterly fucking terrifying. Yesterday my head wasn't quite so muddled, and I was able to see some of the trouble with the story. I'm going to try to drop down to 900mg.

June is going to be a nightmare. There's the screenplay that I've hardly touched since February. There's the short story I have to write for Dreams from the Witch House,* and, so far, nothing appropriate has occurred to me. I'll have Sirenia Digest #113. I've got to get together the manuscripts for Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales (Centipede Press) and the volume of juvenilia (Subterranean Press). I have an introduction to write (for another author's novel). I'll be needing to spend time at the Hay, transferring more of my papers and helping get the stuff in order. So, yes. It's going to be a fucking dreadful month.

Having written that paragraph, forget Boston and the shore, I just want to go back to bed.

"Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige." ~ Mike Shiner, Birdman

Last night we watched Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Birdman (2014), which deserves every one of the four Oscars it received. If there was a better film last year, it must be an amazing thing, indeed. Afterwards, we watched Brett Morgen's Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015), which was as brilliant and as sad as I'd been told. One night, two incredible films. How's that for incisive, probing film commentary? Whatever. I have to save what precious little clarity I have for the writing that pays the bills.

Aunt Beast

* As I've said elsewhere, this is the last time I'll be writing for a "women only" anthology.

"Low bridge, everybody down ."

It's sunny today, and the temperature is currently 76˚F. This appears to be the first day this year that the house will be uncomfortably hot. It simply doesn't breathe, and there's no AC, and a day doesn't have to be sweltering for the house to become a sweat box. Currently, it's 80˚F in the middle parlour (where the thermostat is located). We'd head for South County and the shore today, but I'm months behind.

Today, Harlan Ellison turns 81.

I was going to write yesterday. But I didn't. And that was likely a wise decision. Yesterday was the best birthday I've had in years, almost certainly the best since I've come to Rhode Island, and when compared to the nightmare that was last year, it was one of my best ever. We went out for breakfast at the Classic Cafe, and then I opened the gifts people had sent (Spooky gave me two Neko Case T-shirts and the Decemberists' The Hazards of Love on vinyl). After deciding it was too warm in the house to make lasagna, we got cold cuts at Eastside Market. Back home, I listened to music and read. We played a little Guild Wars 2. After dinner, there was cake and two movies.

The first film was Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler 2014, the sort of film that probably falls under the ill-defined "neo-noir" umbrella. A truly splendid and disturbing piece of cinema. Jake Gyllenhaal's performance was both unexpected and unsettling. I was pleased to see that the screenplay was nominated for an Oscar. The second feature was Kevin Macdonald's Black Sea. I love submarine movies. I'm a submarine movie geek. As a submarine movie, I found Black Sea very satisfying. If you take Das Boot, Alien/Aliens, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and combined them into a single film – minus aliens – you'd have something not very different from Black Sea. MacDonald hasn't made a great film, and I think the ending flinched, but it is a very enjoyable film, especially if you're into submarine movies. Starring Jude Law.

My thanks to the five hundred or so people who, via Facebook, wished me a happy birthday yesterday. The future is fucked up.

Today would have been my Grandma Mary Ramey's 101th birthday.

Last night, I skipped the Seroquel and slept for shit.

Today, I have to try and work. Please have a look at the current eBay stuff.

Aunt Beast

Because I can't go backwards.

On Saturday, Ireland granted gay couples the right to marry. On Sunday, Tanith Lee died.

This little box of light brings me the world.

And here it is, Number Fifty-One.

Yesterday, I wrote a measly 425 words on "Le Meneur des loups." These half-assed days have to stop.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks.

I was promised sun today. Mostly, we have clouds. But it's warm enough (currently 77˚F) and humid. And this has become one of those annoying entries of short paragraphs. It looks like a goddamn CNN article.

My thanks to the following folks who were kind enough to send gifts (and if your name isn't here, it might be because I haven't been to the p.o. box since Friday): Kate Savage, Steven Lubold, Brian Evanson, Setsuled, Margaux Shaffer, Cheryl Porter, Jada, Jörg, and the Mighty Gordon Duke. These are welcome distractions.

There's really nothing profound that can be said about a fifty-first birthday.

Last night, two films, both of which I'd seen before: first, Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994), which is the same gloriously hallucinogenic nightmare I remember, and the second, Neil Jordan's In Dreams (1999). I'd forgotten that In Dreams is such an awful mess, in just about every way a film can go wrong. It's a strange misstep in a brilliant career.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

The Last of Fifty

It was supposed to be sunny today, but it's overcast. They say we'll reach 80˚F, but it's current only 72˚F, and it was 77˚F half an hour ago, so...whatever.

Yesterday, I wrote another thousand words on "Le Meneur des loups."

This morning at 5:30 a.m., lying awake, I made a decision to take steps to remedy a certain, shall we say, lifestyle choice. It won't be easy, but I've grown disgusted with myself, and here I am at that place that I've sworn three times before – 1989, 1992, 2001 – I'd never let myself go again.

A very satisfying Game of Thrones last night. But no spoilers from me. At the moment, Sunday is "new episode night," since we get new Game of Thrones, new Penny Dreadful, and new Nurse Jackie. And speaking of Penny Dreadful, Eva Greene is just about the sexiest thing on the planet, except for Vanessa Ives, but since Eva Greene plays Vanessa Ives, it all works out.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Because contracts take forever, but bills don't give a shit.

Or was it walking upon the sea
That wore your two fine legs away?

Aunt Beast
It's warmer today, currently 77˚F. My windows open. It helps.

Yesterday, I wrote 380 words on a piece for Sirenia Digest #112 that I'm calling "Le Meneur des loups" (named after the Alexandre Dumas novel). With luck, it's a sturdy beginning. It's likely I'll change the name, but I needed one to get started. It's always like that. I cannot write an untitled story.

Last night, I slept about seven and a half hours, my best night in a long while. But the sinus headache I've had since Friday is still here.

Last night, we discovered that it's not only possible for there to exist one scary Bigfoot movie, but two. The second, Bobcat Goldthwait's Willow Creek (2013), is actually scary as hell. We also watched Michaël R. Roskam's The Drop (2014), which was better acted and more smartly written than your average neo-noir, crime drama, heist film. Tom Hardy's performance was especially well turned. The Drop was James Gandolfini's last film.

There's a little haze today, to tone down the blue and make the sky less alarming. Rhode Island is suffering a "moderate" drought, and there are fears of forest fires.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions.

Aunt Beast

"Sometimes, I take a great notion..."

Sunny today, and a wide, carnivorous sky, and the temperature is a paltry 59˚F.

I left the house yesterday, despite the nip in the constant breeze. We drove over the river to Wickenden Street and spent an hour or so browsing through the bins at Round Again Records. I spent ten bucks I probably shouldn't have and came away with Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967) and Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run (1975).

Photograph Copyright © 2015 by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Back home, I lay on the floor in the front parlour and listened to them, trying not to hate this decade.

I feel as if all I'm really doing these days is watching movies. Last night we had a proper Kindernachct and watched DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014), followed by Disney's Big Hero 6 (2014). The former was very enjoyable, but pales in comparison to the latter. I have a feeling that neither Hubero nor Selwyn will be called anything but "hairy baby" for some time to come. Night before last we watched three horror films, starting with Adam Green's mockumentary Digging Up the Marrow (2014), which was fun, mostly thanks to Ray Wise and decent enough creature effects. The second feature was Conor McMahon's From the Dark (2014), an extremely effective Irish vampire film. This one I strongly recommend. I would go as far as to declare it creepy as hell. Niamh Algar plays Sarah, a beleaguered protagonist of whom Ellen Ripley would be proud. The last of the three films was Eduardo Sánchez' Exists (2014), which proves you can make a pretty scary movie about Bigfoot, even if it's populated with insufferable twenty somethings.

That's all I have for now, except I would ask that you please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks.

Later Tots,
Aunt Beast

The Shiver in May

Currently, it's 61˚F here in Providence.

No writing yesterday. I informed one of the editors of the anthology for which I was trying to write "Three Kisses" that it just wasn't going to happen. There was a lot of email with my lit agent, Merrilee, about...stuff. Complicated, irritating, annoying stuff. I proofread "Riding the White Bull" for Gardner Dozois; the story will be appearing online at Clarkesworld soon. I'd not read it in many years.

Today, I'll likely do a hell of a lot less than that.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thank you.

It was too cold yesterday to comfortably open my office window.

Last night we watched gangster movies. First, Fisher Stevens' Stand Up Guys (2012), a funny and adorable film starring Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, and Alan Arkin, and we followed it with Guillaume Canet's Blood Ties (2013), in which Clive Owen and Billy Crudup reenact that Cain and Abel thing in a marvelous simulacrum of a 1970s police film.

And that's all I have. Move along.

Aunt Beast
Nothing was written yesterday. I'm shelving "Three Kisses," the "Snow Queen" retelling, and withdrawing from the anthology for which it was being written.

It's sunny and chilly, currently 62˚F – on May 20th. I just want to be in Birmingham. Or Athens. Or New Orleans. Or Jacksonville.

I've not left the house since Friday.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. I'm waiting on a large check I should have received months ago, and right now eBay is making ends meet. Thank you.

Aunt Beast

Waiting in the Wet and the Cold

Currently, here in Providence, it's chilly and damp. This would make for a decent March, but in a few days it'll be June. Currently, it's 57˚F and overcast. In Birmingham, it's a respectable 78˚F (with a heat index of 88˚F).

I'm not sure I've ever had as titanic a struggle with insomnia as I am now experiencing, and I've suffered from insomnia all my adult life. I'm drifting through the days, half awake, then I can't sleep at night. Despite the Seroquel, I didn't get to sleep until 5 a.m.

Yesterday, I said no to a BBC exec. That's gotta count for something, right? I said no to other people, too, but that's the one that sorta stands out. Otherwise, I struggled with "Three Kisses." I wrote 429 words. I proofread "The Cats of River Street (1925)" for Lois Gresh's forthcoming Innsmouth Nightmares anthology.

All the good in the world
You can put inside a thimble
And still have room for you and me.
~ Tom Waits

From my Facebook yesterday: There are actually people who don't see the contradiction inherent in this statement: "X should never be used as a plot device, but I oppose censorship." You cannot stand for free speech and grouse about, say, rape scenes in Game of Thrones. Or calling for a "trigger warning" on Ovid's Metamorphosis. Period.

Last night, we watched Henry Hobson's Maggie (2015) and Tommy Lee Jones' adaptation of Glendon Swarthout's The Homesman (2014). Unfortunately, the casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a straightforward dramatic role cripples Maggie, a film that in all other ways is quite good. Abigail Breslin gives it her all in the quietest, most thoughtful zombie film I've ever seen, but she's fighting against Schwarzenegger's woodenness every step of the way. If, say, Matthew McConaughey had been cast as her father instead of the Governator, this film could have been stellar. The makeup effects and David Wingo's score are superb. As for The Homesman, it's probably the best western since the Coens' adaptation of True Grit (2010). Both Tommy Lee Jones (in the title role) and Hilary Swank (also in the title role) deliver wonderful performances. Two thumbs up and all that.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thank you.

Aunt Beast

"She was an unknown legend in her time."

This time yesterday it was 75˚F. Today it's 59˚F. Yesterday was warm. Today is not. But we have sun.

Day before yesterday, I managed to write 977 words on something called "Three Kisses," which is, in theory, hopefully, the retelling of "The Snow Queen" that I'm supposed to have finished by June 1, the best writing day I've had since April 25th, when I finished "Dancy Vs. the Pterosaur."

And here, behind the cut, is the cover of, Fată Înecându-Se, the Romanian language edition of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir*. It's a homely thing, to say the least.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thank you.

Aunt Beast

* Translated by Alton Abraham
1. Partly cloudy out there, and that beats yesterday. It looks like today will be warm, before – once again – the temperature drops out from under us. Currently, it's 75˚F, and the projected high is 82˚F.

2. Day before yesterday, Kathryn and I went to a matinée (Remember when those were cheap?) screening of George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road, and I'm pretty sure that the reason I didn't do an LJ entry yesterday is because I'm tired of being the only person on earth who's seen this film and didn't enjoy it. Well, actually, my reaction is far more complicated than that. How about, I'm tired of being the only person on earth who's seen the film and doesn't think it's brilliant. I avoided reviews (I always do), and when we returned home from the theater I was genuinely stunned that it's been so positively received by pretty much every major film reviewer. Anyway, I've said a lot on Facebook and Twitter ("One lesson we learn from Mad Max: Fury Road is that the climax comes at the end for a reason," etc.), and, for now, I'm not getting into it here. I'd like to see the film a second time (Remember when seeing a film twice was prohibitively expensive?) to give it a second chance, but I'm pretty sure there are other films far more deserving of the precious little money I can afford to spend of movie tickets.

3. Going through old papers, notebooks, etc. for the John Hay Library has dredged up a very unpleasant and entirely unresolved ghost, one so upsetting that it's adding considerably to my insomnia. And a question I have not yet been able to answer, even after seven years: What does one do when she discovers that portions of her unpublished research have been published by a former colleague, based clearly, in part, on notes that she shared with said colleague – lines are "quoted" verbatim – without permission, with no credit given, nothing. My work is credited to others. My conclusion is claimed as theirs. Without even a mention in the acknowledgements of the paper. Yes, I have written records. I have my notes. I have old email. Everything's dated. But I have no idea what, if anything, I should do. Accusing a scientist (and actually two) of plagiarism is nothing to be done lightly. Reputations are at stake, theirs and mine. And I have no institutional affiliation. At this point, there are even some who would not consider me a "bona fide" paleontologist. I sit here and stew. I feel fucking sick about it. It's almost inconceivable to me that any scientist would do such a thing, much less do such a thing to a person whom they once considered a friend and colleague.

I've said nothing for a long, long time.

4. Geoffrey's coming over this evening, and I only managed about three hours sleep last night.

5. If you haven't seen the Spierig Brothers' Predestination (2014), based on Heinlein's "All You Zombies," you really, really need to do so. A very cool film.

6. Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thank you.

Aunt Beast

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