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Howard Hughes and the Last Dodo

Here in Providence, it's only 60˚F. The wide sky could not be bluer. Nor could it be hungrier. A good day to stay in and keep my head down. I went out for a brief walk yesterday, the first time I'd left the house in two days.

Yesterday, I added 1,357 words to the novella, which I may give up and call M is for Mars, unless some better title presents itself at the very last moment. I did not, however, find THE END. I stopped for the day with likely no more than a hundred words to go. But after five hours of writing and editing, I was fried. So, today I finish. I'd hoped to be done by Thursday (Sept. 22), but this thing does what this thing does. It ain't rocket science.

My grateful thanks to everyone who commented yesterday. We are an exclusive group, those who still attend to LiveJournal. Yes, I have Twitter and Facebook accounts, but this is my home on the web (Since 2004).

Probably, the best part of yesterday was watching Fuzzbox videos with Spooky. Otherwise, it was all work and lowered expectations.

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

Time to make the doughnuts. But I bet you knew that already, natch.

Aunt Beast
Sunny and 62˚F here in Providence, and the first genuinely cool weather of the autumn is on its way. Tonight's low is forecast at 46˚F, and tomorrow's high may be only 64˚F. I hope I'm ready for this. Last night, my sinuses ached as the weather shifted and the rain began. But the rain is always one of the best sounds, just like Edna St. Vincent Millay promised it would, even to those of us still above ground.

Lately, I am longing for the days when people had time to read blogs. When they took the time to comment, so I knew I wasn't speaking to an empty room. But ain't it a fine echo chamber? And the world moves on, right?

Yesterday, I added 1,241 words of new prose to the Still Untitled Mars Novella (SUMN) and did a shit-ton more editing. Five hours. I'll very probably finish it this afternoon, and find a title. I'll likely need one more day to polish the text, but then it will be finished, and the manuscript for Mythos Tales (Centipede Press, 2017) will be whole again.

The very definition of disheartening is receiving my advance for the Brazilian edition (Portuguese language) of Two Worlds and In Between and discovering that a whopping 23.5% was taken by agent commissions and foreign taxes.

There are new eBay auctions. Please take a gander.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

"But honey pie, you're not safe here."

The NWS says it's going to be 87˚F today, but currently it's only 70˚F, so Spooky and I are passing skeptical. And, anyway, Autumn the Second doesn't need to be that warm.

Yesterday was all editing. I don't write this way, not in any normal situation. But here I am restructuring, rebuilding, retrofitting, making fins from feet, and what have you. I'm speaking of the Still Untitled Mars Novella (SUMN). I have begun to feel as if I'm a scab director brought in to complete an unfinished film, scrapped way back in venerable 2007 after the original director was canned for going disastrously over budget. She was an utter fucking auteur, putting her hookers and black tar on the studio tab, constantly rewriting on set, calling for thirty takes of every scene – and the like. Now, the primaries have been called back to shoot All New Scenes, and I'm trying to turn straw to polyester. And all is tedium and chaos.

And in the chaos of the last two days work, the stress was a great reason to fall off the wagon, which I did. So, today is Detox Day #1. Again. Back to the kratom (soon to be illegal).

I've aged ten years in four.

From Facebook: "Okay, I'm sorta looking at Merricat Blackwood, Elenore Vance, and Boo Radley. But this will probably change. Maybe. (Me in #threefictionalcharacters)" Hubero says he's Zorro, Tarzan, and Superman.

Last night, we watched Marjorie Stürm's The Cult of JT LeRoy (2014). I can't help but feel that it's a far more honest look at the whole sorry mess than was given by Feuerzeig's film, which, in the end, was essentially a long interview with Laura Albert, which she used to attempt to con her way out of the consequences of her earlier confidence jobs. It's hard to come away from Stürm's film with anything like even half a charitable thought for Albert. Still, I'm going to read Sarah and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. I avoided the books when they were new. I can never bring myself to read whatever everyone is clamoring Must Be Read (!). This why I was unable to read House of Leaves until 2004.

Also, I re-read "Dagon." Honestly, Lovecraft. "Fantastically gibbous?" Seriously? What the fuck does that even mean?* Also also, I read about the pterosaurs of the Solnhofen.

Oh, and I have to get around to the doing the first interview I've agreed to give in almost forever.

I gotta get to work. Doughnuts don't make themselves.

Aunt Beast

* To be fair, that was written in July 1917, and he was only 27. He got a little better about that sort of thing. Towards the end.
Crisis mode here, but what else is new?

It's a sunny day, the sky too blue, he first day of Autumn after a miserably failed summer. Currently, it's 80˚F.

Yesterday was spent realizing that I took the wrong path to try and find The End to the Still Untitled Mars Novella (SUMN). So, now I'm throwing out 3,389 words of text, two days of work, and beginning over from the end of Section Four. This has to be finished by Monday. Kathryn and I are about the read aloud through everything that isn't being tossed out, and I hope to fuck the answers come to me.

Last night, we went to the Cable Car to see Jeff Feuerzeig's Author: The JT LeRoy Story. What a sad, sordid, absurd mess. I almost walked out partway through, sick of watching other people's dirty laundry. This film could stand as a best argument against authors becoming celebrities. The lure of celebrity is always fatal. Fame is anathema to art.

Aunt Beast
Detox Day 5, and at some point this is supposed to get easier, but I have clearly not arrived anywhere near that point. I'm through physical withdrawal, for the most part, but, truthfully, this thing on the other side is far, far worse.

Sunny and a wide carnivorous sky. Currently, it's 77˚F, 50% humidity.

Yesterday, I did 1,255 words on the Still Untitled Mars Novella (SUMN), and I think it was going fairly well until the final two or three paragraphs, when everything collapsed into an infodump thinly disguised as conversation. One reason so little science fiction works for me is that too many authors of science fiction are in love with data. But the truth is, data is my enemy. Data chokes prose. It smothers good writing. It's the reason we have encyclopedias and textbooks, not the reason we have novels and novellas and short stories. When I'm writing science fiction, the trick is revealing as little as possible, nothing more than absolutely necessary. So, today will begin by fixing the mess I made yesterday.

I haven't looked at the news in two days. I no longer see the point.

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

Has anyone else ever noticed that Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio" and the Smith's "What Difference Does It Make?" are almost the same songs?

Also, today is the 78th anniversary of the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.

Last night, I finally got to see Frank Pavich's 2013 documentary on that most famous of unmade films, Jodorowsky's Dune. What a brilliant, beautiful thing might have been. Imagine David Carradine as Duke Leto Atreides, Mick Jagger as Feyd Rautha, Orson Welles as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, and Salvador Dali as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, with a soundtrack by Pink Floyd, brought to life by artists like H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, and Jean "Möebius" Giraud. It would have been glorious.

Time to make the doughnuts.

Aunt Beast
Detox day four. I think, cautiously, that I have come through the worst of the withdrawal. The dope sick has faded to a nagging, dull nuisance. Knock on wood. Thanks to kratom and 10mg of Klonopin, I slept well last night, maybe even seven full hours. I'll have another dose of kratom in an hour or so. I've stockpiled the stuff against those inevitable future tumbles off the wagon, thank you very much, sadistic DEA fuckwits.

It's still overcast today. The NWS had predicted the skies would clear today, but now they've changed their minds. Currently, it's 72˚F in Providence, 91% humidity.

A good writing day yesterday, despite the aches and snot and whatnot. I did a great deal more editing on the Still Untitled Mars Novella (SUMN), and by the end of the day it was 2,119 words longer when the day began. I'm on schedule to finish it on Friday, even if I'm still hazy on just exactly what happens in the final quarter of the story. It is unbelievably weird, going back to a manuscript set aside more than nine years ago, trying to recapture that voice, having no idea what the fuck I was thinking when I wrote it. I've never done anything like this before.

Also, Spooky delivered five boxes of papers to the John Hay Library. Now, all that remains is for me to sign all the paperwork, the deed of transferal or whatever they are called, and the Caitlín R. Kiernan Archive will be all official like.

Please have a look at the current eBay goodies.

And today, Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird hits the shelves in whatever precious few bookshops and comic shops see fit to carry it. But you're best off ordering directly from Amazon. And I suppose now is as good a time as any to say that I'm going to be doing a four-part, 32-page Alabaster story next year for Dark Horse Presents, serialized over four issues. I'm thinking it will be Maisie and the Bird, no Dancy. She's earned some a rest.

Also, today is the fifteenth anniversary of Firefly and the thirtieth anniversary of This Mortal Coil's Filigree and Shadow.

Last night, we watched all six episodes of the new Amazon/BBC series, Fleabag. Really hilarious, brilliant stuff. Oh, and I leveled Morda Corpsewright, Hamster in a Can, to Level 80. It only took her four years. An Asuran necromancer, she's my third oldest GW2 toon, but for some reason I didn't get serious about leveling her until recently. I now have thirteen Level 80 toons. Instead of a life. Go me.

Time to make the doughnuts.

Aunt Beast
Detox day three. I thought the worst was over yesterday. I was mistaken. But I got a little sleep. I awoke to twilight, to overcast skies, to spitting rain. It's 70˚F here in Providence. The humidity is 90%.

I need a shower.

Yesterday, we had to sort through more boxes for the John Hay Library, as Kathryn is meeting with Christopher today at 4 p.m., to deliver the final lot of papers. And then I tried to focus and work at getting some editing done on the vintage 2007 text I mentioned yesterday. I cut some stuff out. I nipped and tucked. I spent an hour or so trying to find a title. I don't think I have.

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

I really have manage to write today. I can't afford to lose momentum. Right now, momentum is the most precious commodity.

Aunt Beast
Cloudy and warmer today. Currently, it's 83˚F.

Yesterday was a strange sort of work day. I dusted off this manuscript from the summer of 2007, over thirteen thousand words – and then I just gave up and walked away. Kathryn read it aloud to me, and it's really pretty good. I'm not at all sure why I abandoned it. But now I'm finishing it, to be the novella that concludes Mythos Tales. It's an odd feeling, setting out to finish something left incomplete for nine years. Really, it only needs maybe four or five thousand words to reach The End, not much more than that. And it needs a title. So, yeah. We read it, then I worked on line edits. To stay on schedule, I need to be done with this before the end of September. I'd like to be done with it by Friday, September 23rd.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions.

Aunt Beast

Howard Hughes Goes to Mars

It was chilly last night. One day soon I'll look out my window, and all the leaves will have fallen. Currently, it's sunny and 69˚F.

Yesterday, I proofread The Chartreuse Alphabet (A-M) and "Animals Pull the Night About Their Shoulders," and then Sirenia Digest #128 went out late in the afternoon. Today, I go back to work on the novella that will complete Mythos Tales (Centipede Press, 2017). Currently, I have 13,269 words, but no title and no ending.

By the way, if you're not a subscriber, Sirenia Digest #129 is a great place to become one.

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

Last night, I read and watched John Huston's Across the Pacific (1942). Now, I need to wake up; that Red Bull didn't do it.

Aunt Beast

"Nothing but static and 'Heil Hitler.'"

I woke with a headache, and it's still here, worsening, but I cannot allow it to slow me down today. After that huge fucking Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday temperature roller coaster, I shouldn't be surprised my head hurts. Last night, it was actually cold, lows somewhere way down in the low fifties, I think. Today, the high will only be 73˚F.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,337 words and reached The End with "Animals Pull the Night Around Their Shoulders." This is the first short story I've been able to finish since I finished "Whisper Road" back on July 2nd, so it was a huge relief. Having now managed to write the first half of The Chartreuse Alphabet and all of a new short story, I begin to hope that the crisis is passing, but it is a very cautious hope. If I can keep this up for six months, then I will allow myself to believe I'm out of the woods. For what it's worth, I suspect "Animals Pull the Night Around Their Shoulders" is one of the better things I've written in the past two or three years; it's certainly one of the most disturbing.

Today is an assembly day. I have to put together Sirenia Digest #128 and send it off to be PDF'd. It will go out to subscribers tonight or tomorrow.

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

Last night, I made a double feature of Zoltán Korda's Sahara (1943) and Lloyd Bacon's Action in the Atlantic (also 1943), both starring Bogart, neither of which I'd ever seen. The latter rarely rises above the level of a ham-fisted, if well meaning, OWI mouthpiece, while Sahara is undoubtedly one of the better films about World War II made during WWII. And in the Sudanese Sergeant Major Tambul (played by Rex Ingram) it includes a dignified, heroic Islamic black man as a main character treated as an equal by white men, and it did so at a time when such things were few and far between.

Okay. Time to make the doughnuts.

Aunt Beast

"Behold, behold, the heaven-bound sea."

I might actually have slept seven hours. I woke up ill sometime after five thirty, took a pill, then went back to sleep. It's cloudy today, except where the painfully blue skies showing through. Yesterday, unexpectedly, the mercury shot up to 90˚F. Then, towards sunset, storm clouds – but no actual storm – blew in from the southwest, and by midnight the temperature had fallen into the mid sixties. Currently, it's 67˚F.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,312 words on "Animals Pull the Night Around Their Shoulders." With luck, I'll finish the story today. Worst case, I'll finish it tomorrow.

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

If America elects Donald Trump president, we will have reached a point where it is undeniable that this nation, as a whole, is simply too goddamned dumb to be trusted with democracy. Then again, if America elects Donald Trump president, it likely won't be burdened with democracy by the time Trump is done with the country. Kathryn and I are talking seriously about Montreal. It's only a few hours away, an easy day's drive. That will be our port in the storm, if Clinton should lose. I don't think I've ever been the sort who cries "If X is elected, I'm leaving the country!" But now I am. This is not normal election cycle. A terrible rot that has long festered, just below the surface, is spreading like wildfire, feeding on the the hate and lunacy Trump is spewing. It's a hot zone, kiddos. We'll put everything in storage and rent a small apartment in Montreal and try to wait it out. Of course, first I'll vote. And hope.

Aunt Beast
I don't think I even got five hours sleep last night, and I woke confused and angry. Now I have to try and set all that aside and work. I'm not awake, and the sky is much too blue. I can see it through the limbs and leaves outside my office window. Another two or three weeks, at most, and those leaves will be gone, and there will be no green remaining to protect me from the hungry, empty-bellied Rhode Island sky. The worst of it, of green autumn and of winter and of cold spring, is not the chill. The worst of it is the sky. Currently, it's 80˚F in Providence.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,442 words on "Animals Pull the Night Around Their Shoulders." And the mail brought my contributor's copy of Black Wings V: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, edited by S.T, Joshi, which reprints "Far From Any Shore."

Last night, I watched Stuart Rosenberg's The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984). It's sort of inexplicable that I'd never seen it.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Bills must be paid and so forth. Thank you.

Aunt Beast

"That bonobo needs some lipstick."

Currently, it's 76˚F here in Providence, and we have a wide carnivorous sky.

Yesterday, I did 1,319 words on "Animals Pull the Night Around Their Shoulders," a new piece for Sirenia Digest #128 (September 2016). The title is borrowed from a Nick Cave song, "Anthrocene." Well, the title is taken from the song. It's not like I'll be giving it back.

We have great stuff up on eBay. You should have a look. Thanks. And I'll remaind you that Subterranean Press is taking preorders for Dear Sweet Filthy World.

Yesterday afternoon, I finished Aljean Harmetz' Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca – Bogart, Bergman, and World War II (1992). I think the book's closing paragraph says it all:

"Casablanca potent blend of romance and idealism – a little corny and mixed with music and the good clean ache of sacrifice and chased down with a double shot of melodrama – is available at the corner video store, but Casablanca couldn't be made today. There is too much talk and not enough action. There are too many characters too densely packed, and the plot spins in a hard-to-catch-your-balance circular way instead of walking a straight line. There is no Humphrey Bogart to allow the audience a permissible romance without feeling sappy. And the studio would insist that all the ambiguity be written out in the second draft."

So, I watched Casablanca (1942) last night for the first time in a couple or three of years.

And now, I gotta make the doughnuts.

Aunt Beast
Cooler today. Currently, it's only 70˚F. Green autumn in full sway. This year, I think I may actually be welcoming autumn. Given the state of my health and our ninth summer trying to stay cool in this sweltering house, fuck it. At this moment in time, I'm grateful for the cooler weather.

No writing yesterday, no I finished the revision on "Ex Libris" that I began back on July 11th. There's still a lot wrong with the story, to my eye, but it is now at least presentable.

Subterranean Press has just announced Dear Sweet Filthy World, by the way.

And please, look over our current eBay auctions. Thank you.

Also, here's a sneak peak at Piotr Jabłoński's superb cover art for Mythos Tales, coming in 2017 from Centipede Press:

Aunt Beast
Overcast today. Currently, it's 78˚F in Providence. Last night, late yesterday afternoon, fogged rolled up from the river and out across the city.

Yesterday was exactly the sort of day off that reminds me I'm neither temperamentally or situationally well suited to off days. The less said about it the better. Today, I go back to work.

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

Aunt Beast
It's cloudy today, and yesterday's heat has gone. A last gasp of summer in green autumn, I suppose. Currently, it's only 79˚F here in Providence, humidity at 58%. But my feet are still swollen from yesterday. God, how I miss my twenties, my thirties, even my goddamn forties.

I suppose this is going to be a short entry. Yesterday, I wrote 1,133 words, did K, L, and M, and finished the first half of The Chartreuse Alphabet. Now, I have a vignette to write, but first I'm taking a day off. Which means I'll likely just tag along on Spooky's errands. Whee. Though I think we may try to find a copy of the new Nick Cave album, Skeleton Tree. And I have a book I need to finish reading.

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

Aunt Beast

"The Garden needs sorting out."

The heat is back for a last gasp today. We're supposed to get to 91˚F, with a heat index of 100˚F.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,516 words on The Chartreuse Alphabet, and made it through H, I, and J. Today, I'll do K, L, and M. Then I'll be setting it aside to write a new vignette, which will appear along with the first half of The Chartreuse Alphabet in Sirenia Digest #128. It was a good work day.

I also saw the final cover design for Dear Sweet Filthy World *, and Subterranean Press began taking preorders. The release date is listed as March 2017. I don't think I've said this anywhere, but to my mind this collection is the last third of a loose sort of trilogy that began with The Ammonite Violin & Others (2009), then continued with Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (2012). The love letters. Something like that. Anyway, yes, it will sell out long before publication, so reserve your copy now.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Comics! The Dreaming! Alabaster! Thank you!

Last night, we went to the Cable Car and saw Andrew Dominik's One More Time With Feeling, the film that's been made as an accompaniment to the new Nick Cave album, Skeleton Tree (out today). After the writing yesterday, my mood took a nosedive. I don't know why, but it led to me almost staying home and sending Spooky to the cinema alone. I'm glad I didn't. The film is beautiful and brilliant, and I would have deeply regretted not seeing it on a big screen.

And now, it's time to make the doughnuts.

Aunt Beast

* This collection, like my blog, takes its title from Elvis Costello's song of the same name, which can be found on The Juliet Letters (1993).
Some clouds today. Some sun. Some blue sky. It's 76˚F, and it's supposed to go to 82˚F. Hello, green autumn.

No writing yesterday, not really. Nothing usable. I thought I'd come up with something very clever for H, but then decided it was contrived and silly. Which is what I get for trying to be clever. I gave up and went to the market with Spooky.

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

Last night we watched Marnie (1964), a film that was came out when I was about two months old. It marks the end of an era for Hitchcock. Marnie was his last film with composer Bernard Hermann, as well as with editor George Tomasini and director of photography Robert Burks. It's an uneven affair, and, ultimately, I think it gets lost in psychobabble.

I have to do better today than yesterday.

Aunt Beast
Coolish today, and some sun, some clouds, after our days of Hermine. Currently, it's 77˚F in Providence.

Yesterday was sort of a train wreck, and I wasn't able to keep my appointment at the Hay, which has been rescheduled for the 19th. The only work that I managed to do was writing copy for Dear Sweet Filthy World. Subterranean Press will be announcing the collection any day now. Today, I go back to work on The Chartreuse Alphabet.

Last night we continued the Hitchcock marathon with Vertigo (1958). I don't hold Vertigo in quite as high esteem as do many Hitchcock fans. My chief gripe is the great infodump known as the "letter writing scene," which comes about two thirds of the way through the film and dispels any sense of mystery in favor of letting us inside Judy Barton's head. The scene's a grave mistake, and Hitchcock knew it was a mistake and tried to cut it out, but the scene was retained at the insistence of Paramount exec Barney Balaban. Regardless, it's still a remarkable film, just a bit messier, less polished than I'm accustomed to seeing from Hitchcock, lacking the level of visual and narrative cohesion I expect from the director.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions.

Okay. I should try to work.

Aunt Beast

Howard Hughes is not even a thing.

They brought back our tropical storm warning last night, but now it's gone again. Hermine has been one of the most peculiar storms to which I have ever been privy. But I think that it's just about spent. We had some fairly fierce winds yesterday, and the streets and driveways are carpeted with leaves. We had a little rain last night, but not enough that it's going to make much impact on the drought. Currently, it's overcast and 68˚F here in Providence.

Yesterday, I wrote E, F, and G, which came to 1,051 words. Today, I set The Chartreuse Alphabet aside, as I have a meeting at the John Hay Library at 4 p.m., but I'll come back to it tomorrow.

Yesterday evening, it occurred to me that November 1st will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the publication of Threshold (though I didn't actually get my hands on a copy of the published novel until November 15). I feel like I ought, somehow, to mark the anniversary, but I don't know how I would.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Talibus laboribus lupos defendimus. Thank you.

Last night, there was roleplay (well, there is most nights), and then Spooky and I watched Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954), which is very possibly my favorite of his films. It is, to my mind, close to being a truly perfect film. The set alone, that massive, ingenious soundstage, I can just stare at that for hours.

Insomnia again last night, but that's pretty much the norm.

Aunt Beast

"I drove all night..."

Our tropical storm warning was cancelled, and Hermine is, so far as Providence is concerned, a dud. I don't think we've even seen any rain. But it's chilly, currently only 67˚F. I was hoping that the storm would bring some relief from the drought, and maybe it will yet.

So far as sleep was concerned, last night was rough, but not a total waste.

Yesterday, I did 1,196 words on The Chartreuse Alphabet, B through D.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, which now include, as I mentioned yesterday, a complete six-issue story arc from The Dreaming. Thank you.

If you think of Earth as the Jackass TV show of the galaxy, everything really starts to make a lot more sense. ~ Duncan Jones

Happy birthday, Werner Herzog.

Aunt Beast

"Small as a wish in a well."

There's a nip in the air today. At least, there is inside the house. The NWS says it's 74˚F outside. It's sunny. We're looking at possible "tropical storm conditions" over the next four days, thanks to that truly weird storm they've named Hermine.

I didn't write anything yesterday, partly because of the lack of sleep. Today, I tackle B, C, and D.

Last night, I slept at least seven hours. I think. I was briefly awake about six a.m.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. They now include something we've never offered before, issues of The Dreaming, specifically the Nuala story arc that ran from #44 through #49 (Jan.–June 2000), the one that got me into trouble with people who think rape has no place in fairy tales (revealing how little they know about fairy tales, or maybe only how little they care). Anyway, have a look, and thank you.

Time to make the doughnuts.

Aunt Beast
I think the drought here is going to play havoc with any sort of fall color this year. Since sometime in August, the leaves have just been turning brown and falling off the trees. The US Drought Monitor now places us in a zone of severe drought. The rain from Hermine will help a little, but it would takes months of good, regular rainfall to recover from this. One does not think of Rhode Island as being dry.

I might have slept three hours last night. Apparently, I was only allowed the one night's good sleep.

Yesterday, I wrote "A is for Ambergris," and today I need to do B, C, and D. I need to finish proofing "Ex Libris" for a reprint. I need to write up some flap copy (yes, I do that for my own books) for Subterranean Press, so that they can announce Dear Sweet Filthy World.

Yesterday's talk with Josh Boone went very well.

Continuing out Hitchcock binge, we watched The Birds (1963) last night, which film critic David Thomson has called Hitchcock's "last unflawed film." It certainly is one of his strangest and most powerful, and it is, of course, his only foray into science fiction and the only time that the malign force in his films does not arise from humanity, which makes it very remarkable, indeed. As a child, the film terrified me, and it still leaves me tense. It's based on du Maurier's 1952 short story of the same name (an excellent story, by the way), just in case you didn't know. My complaints are very small, like the film inexplicably insisting that all those ravens are crows. It's not like ravens aren't common to Bodega Bay. It's not like ravens aren't scarier than crows. But Hitchcock makes up for that bit of oddness by having Mrs. Bundy correctly date Archaeopteryx in the diner scene. That's the sort of thing directors are always flubbing.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Something special is going up later today. Keep watching the skies.

Aunt Beast
I broke down and took Benadryl last night, and I actually slept more than seven hours. My best night's sleep in weeks. I'm a little groggy now, but that's better than teetering at the edge of hallucinations from sleep deprivation, which was my yesterday.

And I awoke to a couple of gorgeous sketches for the cover of Dear Sweet Filthy World, courtesy Tran Nguyen.

I did not write A and B yesterday. Other things happened. Then I ended up making a trip to two branches of the Providence Public Library. And to the post office. And the market.

Last night, we watched Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940), one of my favorite Hitchcock films, based on one of my favorite novels. Joan Fontaine was only twenty-two when she played the second Mrs. de Winter, and she steals every single frame of film in which she appears. If I were the sort of person who wrote such things, I'd someday write an essay on the many ways the Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House (1959) and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1938) mirror one another. But I'm not the sort of person who writes such things.

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

I think that's all for now. It's a gorgeous day out there, 77˚F and 47% humidity at the moment. I want to be at the shore; instead, I'll sit here and write, which is what I do. Josh Boone is calling at four, and I have to make some progress before then. I'm unaccustomed to sleeping so late.

Aunt Beast

Entry #4,724

Rainy and cool today. Presently, it's only 72˚F here in Providence.

After about four hours sleep, I awoke to a pair of emails from John Bruton of Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, who writes,

I am about halfway through "Red Tree" and am having a difficult time moving forward. I had read your short story Pickman's Other Model (1929) in the collection "New Cthulu" and found it engrossing. I liked your use of real places and names in the story (I started looking them up as I read), a device you also use in Red Tree. The problem I am having is that your main character is so unlikeable it is hard to develop sympathy for her as she deals with the various suicides and her struggle with the supernatural. Also, I'm not sure why Constance would want to sleep with her. Why would anyone? Anyway giving you the benefit of the doubt I will continue to work through the novel. Thank you for your effort and art.

Two hours later, he added,

Check that- Sara Crowe is a flaming asshole! Yes, even assholes deserve a voice, but...

This business of "unlikable" characters will haunt me to my grave. But given the degree of autobiography present in Sarah Crowe, I am, at least, amused.


Today, I need to do A and B on The Chartreuse Alphabet.

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


Ten years ago today, Hubero came to live with us. Which seems utterly impossible, that so much time could have passed.

Last night, we watched Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), which is, of course, the director's remake of the same film from 1934. It isn't one of my favorite Hitchcock films, but it does have its moments.

Aunt Beast
I think maybe the summer's heat has passed. The forecast for the remainder of this week is low eighties and seventies. Currently, it's only 81˚F.

And Tor has done their cover reveal thing for Agents of Dreamland. Please have a look. The novella will be out, in bookshops and online, February 28, 2017. Keep watching the skies. The cover is by the extremely talented Christine Foltzer, by the way, and I doubt I could be happier with it.

Yesterday was divided between the sweltering heat of the storage unit and the sweltering weirdness of sitting here sorting through letters (you know, the kind on paper that come in envelopes) dating from 1980 to 1993. Hundreds of letters. Most of them from my time as a paleontologist, and from college, and even a few from high school. All but a handful of the most personal (and incriminating) will be going to Brown, when I deliver the "last" lot of boxes on September 6th. But now that's done, and I no longer have to dread doing it.

Also, Sirenia Digest 127 went out to subscribers yesterday.

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

Today, I try to begin something new for Sirenia Digest 128 and 129, which I'm calling The Chartreuse Alphabet. In part, it's a freeform writing exercise to try and help me get past this block, the aforementioned dry spell. Unlike my four previous alphabets, I'm considering linking the twenty-six sections into a very, very loose narrative. Or at least linking them by a common thread. We'll see. But I only slept about three hours this morning, so we're just going to have to see how the day proceeds.

I'm been wanting Hitchcock lately, so last night we watched Rope (1948) and North by Northwest (1959). In Rope, I do not know if Hitchcock intended us to see Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger) as a gay couple, but I find it impossible to watch the film any other way, and I think it very likely it was intentional on the director's part. Also, as it happens, Dall was homosexual and Granger was bi. From a purely technical standpoint, I never tire of looking at Rope. For example, the way the sun moves towards night across that cyclorama backdrop of the NYC skyline, just wow. And North by Northwest is just one of those perfect films, even if Hitchcock seems to have believed there were sea cliffs on Long Island and even if Cary Grant is disturbingly tanned through the whole thing.

And I end this entry with a photo, as I have every entry since May 10th. Indeed, a lot of those entries consisted solely of photos. Anyway, after this one I'm returning to the old format, so no more daily photos. But perhaps someone has enjoyed them, snapshots of my days and nights in Providence, all taken with my iPhone. Goodbye, Summer 2016.

Aunt Beast

"Mince the white part of..."

The humidity stayed low yesterday, and the day was quite pleasant, though the mercury went as high as 87˚F. Today will be cooler, only about 82˚F.

We have to make a trip to the storage unit in Pawtucket to find more things that are going to Brown. It's been well over a year since we made our first delivery to the John Hay, and on September 6th we'll drop off the last boxes.

Yesterday, my contributors copies of Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird hardback arrived. It has a handsome cover, to hide all my disappointments. So, thank you, Greg. Without you, there would have been no point whatsoever.

About the Big Dry:

I'm trying to convince myself it's simply a matter of hitting reset and moving forward, of not looking back over my shoulder at all the lost time and missed opportunity. It isn't working very well, but I am trying. Break it down. At the end of August 2015, on August 25th, I finished Agents of Dreamland and hit a dry spell that continued for about three and a half months*, during which time I finished no new fiction. I spent most of September and October working on the screenplay for The Red Tree for Josh Boone, but that doesn't count. Late in December, I managed to write "Excerpts for An Eschatology Quadrille" for Ellen Datlow's forthcoming Children of Lovecraft. At that point, things got better for a time. Between January and the end of March, I wrote, for Sirenia Digest, "Eurydice Eduction," "Study for an Electronaut's Ovid (AD 2052)," and "Pillbug," and for an upcoming Subterranean Press anthology I wrote "Objects in the Mirror." I finished "Objects in the Mirror" on March 28th.

And then things got quiet.

I wrote nothing else of note until I did "Whisper Road" between June 29th and July 2.

And then things got really quiet.

Oh, I was working my ass off, researching The Starkeeper, writing scraps that I'd hoped would become Chapter One, beginning short stories that would prove false starts – most notably "Beyond the Laughing Sky," which I worked at, fruitlessly, between July and August. It's not that I wasn't working. It's just that I wasn't able to produce finished prose. And so, the past year can be divided into a dry spell beginning on or about August 26th that didn't end until mid December, then a productive period from mid December to March 28th, followed by a second dry spell that lasted from the end of March until now, broken only by the brief respite of "Whisper Road" at the end of June.

I've never written so little in a year, not since I've called myself a writer. It's very, very scary. But, there you go, for anyone who might be curious. Oh, and a practical definition for "dry spell," as used here, is "a period of time during which I am unable to finish anything."

We watched two more episodes of Doctor Who last night: "The Woman Who Lived," which mostly worked for me, and "The Zygon Invasion," which mostly didn't (though I was amused at the attempt to pass the English moors off as Truth or Consequences, New Mexico).

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions.

Aunt Beast

* This roughly corresponds to the worst period of insomnia of my life, which, of course, must be at least partly responsible for the dry spell.

"The chicken is a world citizen..."

Currently, it's 81˚F in Providence, with an expected high forecast at 88˚F. The humidity is already at 62%, so I fear it may get unpleasant in here. The air may grow sultry.

Yesterday, we went to the RISD Museum, because Spooky's been wanting all summer to see the Todd Oldham exhibit, but, what with one calamity and another, we'd not made it. For the first few years we lived in Providence, we frequented the museum, but I'm not sure how long since the last time we'd visited. At least three or four years. Despite my complaining feet, it was good spending a couple of hours among the art and artifacts. Afterwards, we dropped by Paper Nautilus Books, where we still have credit from the Great Debooking of 2013 (Paper Nautilus took a lot of them, back when they were still Myopic Books), and we found copies of Rombauer and Becker's The Joy of Cooking (1931, though this is a 1953 printing) and Berolzeimer's The American Woman's Cookbook (1938, though this is a 1974 printing). The latter is the book I learned to cook from, in my teens and twenties, from my mom's copy. My feet aside, it was a good day out, and those happen only very rarely.

We started Series 9 of Doctor Who last night, and I was very pleased with "The Magician's Apprentice" and "The Witches Familiar." "Under the Lake," "Before the Flood," and "The Girl Who Died" I enjoyed less, but they were still vast improvements over anything but the final two episodes of Series 8. Finally, someone woke up Peter Capaldi and got him to spit the marbles from his mouth. With the interminable, wretched "Clara loves Pink" story out of the way, it feels like Doctor Who again. And Missy is one of the best things ever to happen to the show. Oh, and we watched the Christmas special, the one with Santa Claus, and it was just, well...peculiar.

I slept for shit, but no surprise there.

Aunt Beast

Howard Hughes, More Shit

Yesterday, I emailed the editor for whom I was trying to write "Beyond the Laughing Sky," and I bowed out of the book. The deadline was fast approaching, and I explained that, realistically, given this dry spell, this bout of writer's block, this What-The-Fuck-Ever, it was unrealistic of me to think I could actually complete that story now. I think I felt relief for about two minutes, and then I just felt like shit. There is no relief in admitting defeat. I hope to try and come back to the story, someday.

Cooler weather today. I think we're going to RISD.

On average, I spend a good fourteen hours a day in this room, which is about eleven feet by eleven feet. And, for the most part, that's the way things have been for the last eight years. Eight years and three months. Nine summers. I would imagine it's a bit like prison, only I do at least, in theory, have the freedom to leave this room whenever I wish. Still, I would imagine most prisoners get quite a bit more exercise than I do, and that most of them have more robust social lives.

We watched a bit of the Dresden Dolls show streaming from Coney island last night and reminisced about a Dolls show at the long-defunct Echo Lounge in Atlanta, twelve years ago, 16 October, 2004.

We finally finished Series 8 of Doctor Who last night. It's taken us two years to get through it. But, to my surprise, I actually enjoyed the final two-parter, "Dark Water" and "Death in Heaven." It helps that the former begins with Pink getting hit by a car. I took that as a step in the right direction. I desperately hope Series 9 is better, and I hope that the show recovers when it is finally free of Moffat. It has survived worse. Oh, and now it is canon that Time Lords can switch sex from one regeneration to the next, so there's that.

Aunt Beast

"And if you float you burn."

Stay in the shadows.
Cheer at the gallows.
This is a round up.
~ Radiohead, "Burn the Witch"

Low humidity here today, so far. Currently, it's only 40%, and that's good. Yesterday was misery. But the NWS says we're going to hit 91˚F; we'll just have to see.

I didn't write yesterday. There's a surprise, right? I was entirely too sick from not sleeping. I managed to doze off about 5:30 this morning, and I might have gotten five hours, which, honestly, is as good a night's sleep as I've had in a week or more.

I used to know that face in the mirror. Now, it's just a face I'm wearing.

I've been putting Ridley Scott's Prometheus (2012) on just to have something to soothe my eyes at night. It really is holding up well. It's such a better film than a lot of people seem to believe.

Aunt Beast

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