Entry No. 4,214

Shaw
Day after tomorrow, we head back to Providence, and I'll be glad to see the cats. But I can't say I've missed that city. Not at all. I'll take these trees and mountains any day. I'll take the bogle in the attic over noisy neighbors any night.

I haven't missed the faintly sewage like odor of Narragansett Bay. And even on a Bad Day, the mountains and trees here keep the sky honest, narrow it, and hold that carnivory at bay.

Since I began keeping a blog late in 2001, the number of people willing, online, to take the time required to read 1,000+ words has plummeted. An attention-span mass extinction. So, I speak to the few of you who can still think thoughts that come of increments greater than 140 characters and without a "like" option. And I still have no fucking idea what Tumblr is supposed to be, even as the masses have moved along to the Next Hip Thing.

"Well, it's your fault. You should have kept up! Run! Run faster! No, no! FASTER!!!!! And don't look back! Okay, no...what can we spell wrong next? How can we individualize this word?"

There is no shortage of wonderful writers. What we lack is a dependable mass of readers. ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Today, I'm going to try and make a start on Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird #5 (THE END!). Five pages would be wonderful.

---

1. Xmas Eve: Not much, really. We had hellish rain. My foul mood, always expected, arrived. On Facebook, I posted videos by the Pogues, Tom Waits, William Burroughs, and Neko Case. I said, "I have a roaring fire, Murphy's, cheap bourbon, a pack of Camels, Neko Case, and Vicodin. It's Xmas Eve in Woodstock." That's how I got through the night, that and Spooky and our annual viewing of Badder Santa. Kathryn and I (well, mostly her), came up with my next musical project, and I posted, "My next band will be called Mormon Funeral Potatoes, and our first album will be Crummy Bunny Bottle Opener." I also noted that the second album would be Angry Black Meatball, followed by our breakout, Grammy-winning, platinum Magic Butter. Jonathan Strahan, Best Editor On Earth®, replied "Sure. But after that it's all drugs, recriminations and a downwards spiral until you break up after playing Wham's "Last Christmas" in a rundown bar outside a Holiday Inn in Dayton, Ohio." And you know he's right. Spooky and I also watched Oculus; more on that below.

2. Xmas Day: We got the fuck out of the cabin. My goal was to do a wee bit of geologizing and maybe spot some fossils. The first leg of the drove was NW up 212 to the intersection with 28, then west and north to Highmount (a ski esort sort of place). We crossed and recrossed Esopus Creek many times, the water gurgling and green brown, the snow on the peaks having melted and filled the streams. This is land shaped by glaciers during the Wisconsin Glaciation, a mere 85,000 to 11,000 years ago. Deep canyons and valleys carved into the Devonian sedimentary marine bedrock Catskills, rocks going back to seas and shoreline swamps ~395-360 million years ago. The sun was an on-and-off affair, and the wind was bitter. Once, an immense meteor stuck this area, during those Devonian days, and left an approximately 6 mile(9.7 km)-wide crater whose walls correspond to the courses of the upper Esopus and Woodland Creek today. I stopped once and looked at an unfossiliferous outcrop of the late Devonian West Falls Group. This leg was about 26 miles one way.

Then, we turned south, retracing our steps along 28 to Kingston, where we turned west and south to explore a geologic structure known as the Port Jervis Trough, on the backside of the Shawawangunk Range. We went as far as Stone Ridge, where I looked at a rather stingy outcropping of Helderberg Limestone (?), also Devonian. There were scrappy invertebrate remains, nothing worth collecting. This leg was about 10 miles of flat farmland. All in all, we drove more than a hundred miles. I want to come back in warm weather and travel as far as far western New York, where there are some dramatic Devonian fossil beds. Trilobites! Eurypterids!

3. I can't say I wasn't disappointed in Mike Flanagan's Oculus (2013). There was a setup for a supernatural thriller, with heavy undercurrents of psychological terror. The latter should have been allowed to carry the film. Instead, we got fairly comical looking ghosts (the mirror eyes did not redeem them). I mean, sure, they weren't creepy, cliché, tiresome Japanese/Korean girls with long black hair hanging in their face, but still. Then there was the gore, the very essence of gratuitous. The insertion of actual ghostly specters and the body horror material, in all but a few cases, detracted from the film's heart – that evil mirror, that wrong thing. Some of the performances, most notably Katee Sackoff's and Karen Gillan's manic, revenge-driven Kaylie Russell, were very, very good. All in all, I'd call the film a brilliant failure, a deeply flawed beauty. It should be seen, if only as a cautionary tale in ho not to tell ghost stories. There are, by the way, strong parallels with The Haunting. Just, The Haunting knows to whisper when Oculus screams. And by the way, will someone tell me why Robert Wise felt if necessary to change Eleanor's last name from Vance to Lance?

4. Lastly, there are some photos from yesterday, all from that first leg of the trip, Woodstock to Highmount:

25 December 2015Collapse )


Onwards, Bogle Soldiers
Aunt Beast
SteveDancy1
We woke to a dusting of snow. I didn't sleep well or much, but in all the times I was up in the night and after sunrise, I never noticed it was snowing. I'm an inattentive insomniac. About 9:30 a.m., I gave up, tired of tossing and turning while my feet throbbed and burned. I got up and watched a rafter of turkeys picking at the snowy ground. I'm going to miss sights like that when we head back to Providence at the end of the week.

Yesterday, I again managed five pages (13, 14, 15, 16, and 17). Fuck, I wish I could have shown this sort of determination back in May, when I originally sat down to write this series. Today, unless something stupid happens, I'll finish #4. I'm on the fence about whether I'm going to immediately begin #5 and attempt to finish the series before we go home. In theory, if I work through Xmas, at five pages a day I'd be done by Friday at the latest. But I hate that I've been in the Catskills since the 5th hardly left the cabin. If I delay finishing Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird until we're back in Rhode Island, I'll have a few days to enjoy Woodstock. But I want this thing over and out of my face. So, I go round and round.

By the way, Sirenia Digest #107 will definitely be late. I managed to get every issue this year out on time, until this month. Apologies. Eleven out of twelve isn't so bad.

I did get out for a brief walk in the woods yesterday, but the bitter cold soon drove me back indoors. I was once a hardy beast, and now I'm a shadow.

My copy of Roadside Geology of New York arrived yesterday. This part of the state is a wonderland of Devonian sedimentary strata.

Marco Polo came to visit us again this morning. I'd watched her frolicking in the snow, and I realized I'd never seen a cat play in snow before. Sophie hated the stuff, on those few instances she encountered it, and Hubero seems indifferent. Anyway, Marco came in, prowled about, got annoyed we had no cat food (or any suitable substitute), then left.



"Let me in, humans! The turkeys are coming!"


I haven't much else to say for the moment, not to say here. It's Solstice, isn't it? So, the days will grow longer again, and slowly the dark and the chill will be pushed back for another trip around the sun.

Later,
Aunt Beast
SteveDancy1
So, on Monday we drove back to Providence (I almost wrote Birmingham; make of that what you will) to attend to various matters that needed our attention (the bank, mail, pharmacy, cats, etc.), and yesterday we drove back to Woodstock. We'll be staying on in the guest house at Neil's until after Xmas, probably until the 27th. The trip is about four hours each way, and there's a stretch in western Massachusetts, in the Taconic Mountains, that was blanketed in snow and heavy fog, both days. Beautiful, those snow covered forests, the drooping spruce branches and stark grey birches. I'd like the chance to actually explore the Taconics (known locally in Mass. at the Berkshires) someday, those peaks formed at the dawn of the Paleozoic, between 550 and 440 million years ago. Peering up from the highway, it was easy to imagine them sheltering everything from mastodons to wendigos.

I also returned with Lúthien, my iMac, having found it impossible to actually write on either my Asus or Spooky's Toshiba.

No real progress has been made on Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird, though that's about to change. It has to change, because I have no more time left to dither. It's time, Caitlín, to write this, finish it, and move on to other projects. Which are waiting. Impatiently. My editor and I have agreed that the "ending" will likely be a cliffhanger, which is how I'm going to, inelegantly, solve the problem of having a story too long to tell in five issues. Over the next ten days, I have to make major progress, which will include cutting out and rewriting portions of #s 2 and 3. It's a nightmare. It genuinely is a nightmare.

Night before last, we finished The Newsroom, and I applaud Aaron Sorkin. The series was, I believe, genuinely too good, too smart, too truthful, and too earnest for television. But I'm very happy someone tried and that we got as much as we did. There was a fumble at the opening of Season Two, but recovery was swift and the rest was golden.

Here are photos from Monday, driving through Massachusetts:

15 December 2014Collapse )

Anyway, I should get to it.

TTFN,
Aunt Beast

The View from Cooper Lake

Dancyphoto
I'd like to make this brief. I don't know if I will. Kathryn and I planned to get out of the cabin today and see some of the surrounding countryside, which - between visiting film directors, inclement weather, and my work - we've hardly done. The weather today is still a bit inclement. More sun was promised, but I'm seeing precious little of it thus far.

Yesterday I wrote one script page for Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird, then finally allowed myself to accept what had been obvious for perhaps two weeks, perhaps as far back as the day I completed #3: there's a crisis, and I have to find a solution, and it will have to be a rather radical solution. So I emailed my editor at Dark Horse, Daniel Chabon, and we're talking tomorrow (I'm having to learn to deal with Skype, as we have no phone reception out here, because Sprint sucks), and hopefully we can arrive at a fix that doesn't result in my scrapping everything that's been written so far and starting over again. That would mean I wouldn't, probably, finish the series until February, and it would throw my schedule into more disarray than it's in already, and I just want this to be over. Period.

Is anyone still reading this blog? Have I gone full circle to see this journal return to the sacrosanct privacy that was, for millennia, the function of the journal, the diary?

Yesterday was the last time that most humans now living will experience a sequential date: 12/13/14. No one ever gets more than twelve.

Late in the day yesterday, when I'd finally had enough and could no longer stare at this screen, we drove out to Cooper Lake. It was close to twilight and cold as fuck. I stood on the rocky shore strewn with what appear to be boulders of some hematitic sandstone, possibly Devonian in age, and I shivered and stared up at the snow-covered peaks to the north. I don't know their names, and I don't feel like looking them up at the moment. Lofty worn teeth of the Catskills. I stood there shivering as the lake lapped at the shore, and I thought about the ice sheets that covered those mountains during the Wisconsin glaciation, a mere 11,000 years ago. Then my thoughts wandered all the way back to the Devonian and the Acadian Orogeny, the mountain-building event birthed these mountains, beginning some 375 million years ago and last 50 million years. It is on beyond humbling, and comforting, gazing up into history, the bones of the world holding up the sky.

There are some photos from yesterday, and one from the day before:

12-13 December 2014Collapse )


Later, after dinner, we joined Neil and another house guest of his, Dr. Dan Johnson from Wisconsin, who once saved Neil from meningitis. Neil signed signature sheets for his forthcoming collection, Trigger Warning, while Dr. Johnson read over the galleys for the book. The fire in the hearth crackled and blazed, and we talked about the relationship between Hanna-Barbera cartoons and American sitcoms, about Sgt. Bilko, about Hollywood and John Belushi, about the Ilse of Sky - the Donalds and the MacCleods, Caisteal Uisdein (Hugh's Castle, circa 1530) and the tale of the fall of the giant Hugh MacDonald - about books (obviously), and conventions we've survived, and Spooky's migraine, sleep aids and my insomnia (I actually slept and amazing 7+ hours last night), the degradation of our respective signatures, and so on and so forth, and then Kathryn and I wandered back to the cabin and stared through the skylight in the bedroom, looking for Geminids (I saw two).

And now, I must get dressed and go out. There's still no sun, those lying meteorologists.

TTFN,
Aunt Beast

"And I follow him, in the trees."

Roy Batty
Today is the 25th Anniversary of the World Wide Web. Which sort of makes it the 25th birthday for one stage of the apocalypse.

Somehow, I got up an hour early, and now I'm running an hour late. Don't fucking ask me. Today, I have to decide whether or not to shelve/scrap "The Living and Their Stillborn," while doing half a dozen other things, all of which ought to have been done two weeks to two months ago. The story simply seems to have no reason for existing, beyond "I owe an editor a story about cyborgs." Which is as shitty a reason as it would be possible for me to devise. I cannot find the heart of the thing. It's sick, stunted, dull. It has nothing to say, and it's saying it hard.

One thought that kept going through my head yesterday, as I beachcombed out on Conanicut Island: "I have to kill the Myth of Me before it kills me." Still, if there's such a thing as a nice day in March in Rhode Island, yesterday was it. A damned decent day. Which I'll come to shortly. Today, however, the clouds are back, the weather's turning chilly again (currently 51˚F, but it feels like 46˚F), and we're supposed to get a little snow tonight. A coating to an inch. One flake would be one flake too much. Tomorrow's high is only supposed to be 26˚F. What the fuck, seriously. I begin to feel a little less like slitting my throat, and here it comes again.

And now, the stale Hell of yesterday.

Tuesday afternoon, 2:28 p.m.Collapse )


I actually used that nauseating sight to explain loess to Kathryn, loess and glaciers as a source of sedimentation.

I've begun reading Carson McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) for the first time since, I guess, college.

Anyway, as yesterday was warmish and sunny, I said fuck the work, and we headed out to Conanicut Island. We stopped at the bank on the way (gagh), then at the North Kingstown Library, where I donated seven boxes of books. Many of these I'd had since high school. But they're gone now, and those seven boxes represented the last of the Great Book Purge of 2013-2014. It is done. It is over. Hundreds and hundreds of books, no longer my problem. I was actually sad to see those go yesterday. Sadder still today.

We'd meant to go all the way to Beavertail, but as we were passing Mackerel Cove, we both spotted something just beneath the water. I though it might be a carcass, maybe a big shark. We turned around and headed back. The whatever it was never surfaced, and we began to suspect it was only a rock. Likely, that's all it was, just below the advancing tide. Normally, we bypass Mackerel Cove. In the summer it's crowded with tourons. Worse yet, the water is usually foul with seaweeds and smells so bad we have to keep the windows rolled up as we drive by. And yet, yes, people swim and sunbathe there. Go figure.

But yesterday the air was clean, and the broad, shallow inlet didn't stink (cold water keeping organic decay to a minimum, etc.). There were great heaps of shells, and I sat down and began picking through them. We brought home a boxful, most of which will likely be discarded, once I've identified them. Surf clams (Spisula solida) and slipper shells (Crepidula fornicata) probably accounted for 75% of the mollusks. But there was also a variety of others pelecypods (bivalves), including razor clams (also called "jackknife clams," Ensis directs), jingle shells (Anomia simplex), blue mussels, and bay scallops (Argopecten irradiates, formerly Aequipecten irradiates). There was a wide variety of snails, including periwinkles, dog whelks, oyster drills, dogwinkles, augers, and the battered remains on some very large knobbed and channeled whelks. Kathyn found a beautiful little purple urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus). We found some interesting bird and mammal bones. I spotted a noisy flock of house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus, i.e. Carpodacus mexicanus) and Spooky photographed them.

It was good being out. I'd taken a Vicodin, and I almost just laid down in the shell hash and dozed off the the sound of the waves. I took three more underwater shots with Nemo (I'll post those tomorrow), and got my tennis shoes soaked in the process. We arrived at the cove about 4 p.m. and stayed until about 5:45 p.m., when the sun began to slip below clouds, bringing back the cold. Then we drove back to Providence, and swung by Brown to visit Mama Kim's for Korean comfort food. There was a beautiful sunset. And there are eighteen photographs behind the cut.

11 March 2014Collapse )


Now, an hour late, work.

Closing the Curtains,
Aunt Beast

Big Badda Boom

imapact1
dinosaur-comet

The ancestral Gulf of Mexico, one day or night ~65 million years ago.

Why Paleontologists Hate Rhode Island

Shaw
rhodeisland

Of course, this makes more sense with an interpretive chart. But, trust me. Crap rocks for fossils. Almost all igneous and metamorphic. Phooey.

"And do you notice when you're sad?"

octoheart
Sunny here in Providence today.

Here's a thing. Empowerment of readers. Want another Alabaster miniseries? Really and truly, cross your heart and hope to die? Well, the power is in your hands, kittens. Call your local comics shop – or whatever – and PREORDER at least one copy of the hardback collection of Alabaster: Wolves. Though, fuck, you can order three copies. It's not as if you actually have to buy the things. Just place the order. All that will matter to the all-powerful bean counters at Dark Horse are the preorder numbers on the collection. All those unbelievably glowing, this-is-the-fucking-best-new-comic-of-the-year reviews from places like MTV Geek and Comic Book Resources and whatnot? I have been told by TPTB that those are irrelevant. This is publishing. Whether or not a thing is good doesn't matter. Whether or not it sells, that matters. So, like I said, want more (beyond the Dark Horse Presents stuff I've agreed to do), YOU HAVE TO PREORDER. Waiting and picking up a copy when it comes out in January, that's not going to help. No, truly, it won't. PREORDER, if you want more. That's all that matters.

---

Yesterday was sort of bipolar, a Siamese twin kind of day. The first half, I awoke angry, exhausted from not having slept, wanting only to jam a fondue fork into the eye of the world and twist it hard. And then punch the world in the ear. I toyed with the idea of ending the semi-vacation. I wrote my editor at Penguin to ask why the CEM for Blood Oranges hadn't arrived last week, as expected, and she said they had delivery confirmation claiming it was delivered on Tuesday. Even though it wasn't. So, Penguin's having to send a photostat, which will be a pain in the butt, as all the CE's marks will be in black, instead of red. I did get through some email, but after that...nothing. All I wanted was the sea. Or oblivion.

So, about 4 p.m., Spooky and I began packing up for Conanicut Island. We'd never been to Fort Getty, because it costs $20 to park. But it's a gorgeous place, with lots of good coves (or so I'd concluded from Google Earth). We left home at 4:22 p.m., and listened to Stars all the way down. When we reached Fort Getty (about 5:15 p.m.), the guy at the gate let us in without paying, since we told him we'd not come to camp, only to swim until about sunset. Thank you, cool dude. It's a beautiful place, and I can't believe I've lived in Rhode Island four years without seeing the park. But mostly, it's a haven for the summer people, who spend May-August squatting there in enormous, gas-guzzling RVs. Thankfully, the place was quiet yesterday. Just to the east, there's the expanse of the Fox Hill salt marsh (owned by the Audubon Society), where we spotted ravens and all manner of egrets and herons. Flocks of cormorants sailed above the sea.

We crossed a wide green meadow to reach the sea cliffs. We found a beautiful little cove (which we have dubbed Starfish Cove, 41°29'22.37"N, 71°24'1.18"W), located 2.54 miles north of our usual cove at Beavertail (41°27'9.63"N, 71°24'0.63"W). The rocks here are the interstratified Cambro-Ordovician Fort Burnside Formation, highly metamorphosed slates, crosscut with beautiful veins of calcite. Wonderful geology, but treacherous climbing (especially with Spooky's injured foot). But we made it down, maybe thirty feet to the water. Which was very fucking cold at first, but our bodies soon adjusted.

And such a marvelous cove! It put our one at Beavertail to shame. The bottom was littered with juvenile starfish (Asteria forbseii), prowling in amongst the gardens of seaweed (many, many species), along with several sorts of crabs. I spotted a large rock crab (Cancer irroratus), which quickly scuttled away to the shelter of an overhang. The mundane dead becomes amazing alive and submerged. There were schools of small fish. I explored a more treacherous cove, just to the south, and got a nasty bruise on my right leg for my troubles. Spooky and I swam about 30 yards north and back. I went out alone maybe 20 yards. We arrived an hour and a half before high tide, and left at the turning, when the water began getting rough. Not as easy getting out of the bay as getting in. The sun was setting, and I'd gotten truly cold. We sat on the rocks briefly, shivering and enjoying the sunset. Then we hiked back across the meadow (there were bunnies!) to the van. The moon, almost full, was rising when we left the park at 7:40 p.m., and made it back to Providence at ~8:30 p.m.. I put Sigur Rós on the iPod, and slept almost all the way home.

Fuck, I need a decent underwater camera.

My foul mood was vanquished by the sea, as is usually the case (FUCK YOU, PUBLISHING INDUSTRY!), and last night, for the first time in four nights, I slept very well, more than eight hours. There are many photos behind the cut. Oh! Before the trip, Spooky went to the post office to send overdue Etsy packages, along with a copy of The Yellow Book to Wilum Pugmire in Seattle, a postcard to a reader in Russia, and a copy of the 2007 edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder to my only niece, Sonoye Murphy.

29 August 2012Collapse )


Feeling Better,
Aunt Beast
Ellen Ripley 1
On this day, sixty-five years ago, the dismembered body of Elizabeth Short was found in Leimert Park, Los Angeles.

Bitterly cold (but no snow) here in Providence. We had single digits last night, and the temperature Outside is currently 15˚F.

Here's a link to the full text of the starred (!) Publishers Weekly review of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Also, my thanks to Elizabeth Bear (matociquala) for the very kind things she said about the novel a couple of days ago.

Yesterday, I realized that I'd done a very peculiar thing Friday while working on Albaster #4. I'd written pages five, six, and seven. But...this is going to sound so stupid...with seven I'd jumped ahead to a spot very near to the end of the book, only a few pages from the end. It was strange, yeah. I always write from "beginning" to "end," in a straight line, so it was a very odd thing for me to have done. Anyway, yesterday, I set that seventh page aside (I'll use it at the appropriate time), and wrote a new page seven, along with eight, nine, and ten (manuscript pages 14-19, 1,403 words). I stopped in the year 1864 – November, to be precise. I'll resume there today. Oh, it'll all make sense, trust me.

After the writing, I used the iPad to stream a rather dubious documentary about the Snowball Earth hypothesis. I don't mean to say that the hypothesis itself, though still somewhat controversial, is dubious. It's just that the Discovery Channel (I can't believe they haven't shortened the station's title to Disco) seems incapable of making coherent, accurate documentaries that don't drag everything down to the level of "Bat Boy" and the Weekly World News (By the way, you know you're old when you remember the days when the Weekly World News took itself seriously.). The documentary almost managed to reduce a respectable (and very likely) scientific model to nothing more than the latest Roland Emmerich blockbuster.

Later, we played SW:toR, forgoing RP in favor of leveling. We both reached Level 28. And then we watched Craig Gillespie's remake of Fright Night (2011). Now, given the fact that I'm an admirer of the original (1988) and the fact that I hate 3D, I will admit I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder going in. But I was quickly won over. Yeah, the 3D is gimmicky as fuck, and annoyingly intrusive at times (Oh! Look! Blood spurting at the film! Scream!). But the film is both a lot of fun and filled with genuine menace. Most of the casting is superb – Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell (I never would have believed it), Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and (drum roll) David Fucking Tennant. The show really belonged to Tenant and Farrell. I do wish a little more care had been taken casting female roles. Imogen Poots? That was supposed to be an in joke, right? And Toni Collette....well, we know she can act, but I guess the fact that she's comatose for the second half of this film meant she didn't have much incentive to try during the first half. I was disappointed that we didn't get some of the wonderful creature effects from the original – the werewolf and the amazingly creepy bat thing – but still, very good and highly recommended. Even with the annoying 3D shots trying to jump out into you lap. Oh, it also scored points for mentioning Farscape.

After the movie, I read Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Silence of the Asonu" (1998), a fine bit of SF anthropology (also collected in Lightspeed: Year One). And then I finally slept.
Shaw
How does one forget that she's supposed to be in Manhattan on Tuesday? That is, she forgets until almost the last minute, and...it's all pretty embarrassing. But I do. Have to be in Manhattan tomorrow, to see my agent and visit with Peter Straub and so on and so forth. I think it's a matter of inertia, the forgetting. The objects remaining at rest tending to remain at rest half of inertia, I mean. Not being one of the traveling authors, but one of the "homebody" authors – id est, one of the reclusive, antisocial, and sporadically agoraphobic ones. I am well acquainted with authors who jet about the world, while I rarely leave the apartment. I'd blame the TSA, but I'm pretty sure the rise of their New and Improved Draconian policies merely worsened what was already there.

It's a shame I can't blame the motherfucking fascist TSA.

So, tomorrow we take the train to NYC, but we'll be back on Wednesday evening.

---

On the subject of eBay: Please note, as stated on all our auction pages, we do not take checks or money orders. We also do not make exceptions, especially if you win an auction and then fail to contact us for three days. We only take PayPal. Here's the main reason why: Around here, money is almost always tight. And when we see an auction end, especially a "high-ticket item" like the recently auctioned boxed, lettered, double-signed edition of In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers (something we'd never before auctioned), we immediately factor that income into our budget. Because PayPal immediately sees to it that we're paid. So...please don't bid unless you have a working PayPal account, with sufficient money in it to cover your bid. Doing otherwise will cause us great inconvenience and, I might add, reflect poorly upon you. Wow. I haven't been that coherent in days.

---

If you are so foolish as to even imagine you'd like to be an author, you need to read Nick Mamatas' Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life. There's even a free digital version. It includes his rather brilliant essay, "Against Craft," which I adore, having always loathed the idea that writing is a "craft," and not an art.

---

Rain, rain, rain. All we have is rain and chill.

What was there to yesterday? There was that other leaning paper tower in my office, which, it turned out, was several leaning towers' worth of filing. Working from basic stratigraphic principles – specifically, the law of superposition, so thank you Nicolas Steno – that nothing much had been filed since at least June 2010. Which really says a lot. Back to inertia. Anyway, you file, and you find things you've lost that you never even knew you had.

Apologies to Rift folks. I just wasn't, for the most part, up to it yesterday. Mostly, I wanted to spend the day hiding in the bathtub under several layers of blankets. So, I wasn't around yesterday. The good news is that I slept last night, almost nine hours, thanks to one of the pills I prefer to avoid (mostly because it's not cheap). I'm not okay, but I'm better. Dreams aside, I'm better. Another night like that, I'll be much better. A week of that, I'll be functional again.

Last night, we watched the last two DVDs from Friday's binge at Acme Video. The first was Woody Allen's pitch-perfect Broadway Danny Rose (1984), and the second (last of the five) was Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray in Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960), one of the films you'd find on my most-favorite-ever list. Both were new to Spooky. Seeing Broadway Danny Rose again, I remembered the first time I ate at the Carnegie Deli on 7th Avenue (Midtown NYC). It was very late at night, or early the next morning. May the 13th, 1998, which was a rainy Saturday. Unless you say it was the rainy pre-dawn hours of May the 14th, 1998, a Sunday, which is more likely. It was me, Christa Faust, some Mexican wrestler dude (masked, even), and Bernie Wrightson. I'd spent the night in a latex bodysuit and an Israeli gas mask, and was very, very dehydrated. That's a small bit of a long story. I'd just turned thirty-four.

A few years there, I spent so much time in New York.

Last night, after the movies, I lay on the floor in the front parlor listening to the rain. Just before bed, we ate fresh pineapple.

---

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind...
(William Wordsworth, "Ode: Intimations of Immortality")

On the Eve of Departure,
Aunt Beast
Shaw
1. A blustery day after a rainy night, just like A.A. Milne might have ordered. But there's more rain on the way. At the moment, it's 55F and the wind's 19mph, gusting to 30 mph. There is a wind advisory in effect.

2. Please note that a number of the current eBay auctions will be ending this afternoon (one or two probably before I post this entry). Most notably, the "napovel" auction ends in 3 hours and 25 minutes. Thanks to everyone who has bid and might yet.

3. I spent yesterday working on "There Will Be Kisses For Us All." I wrote a measly 151 words, over several hours, and finally, again, admitted defeat and shelved the story. This makes twice for this particular story. Last time, two years ago, I couldn't quite find the story in the story. This time, I found the story, but was overwhelmed by everything that needed to go into the story to make it authentic, a hundred details I've been sorting through. And, as Spooky noted, it was threatening to become a full-blown short story, when I only have time to write two vignettes for Sirenia Digest #59. So, with much regret, I put this story away again, and will come back to it at some future date (I promise).

There was a suggestion from a reader yesterday, regarding the possible identity of the Englishman in "Dracula's Guest," who is usually assumed to be Johnathan Harker. papersteven writes: Am I mistaken that, in the novel, Renfield, before his stay in the sanatorium, had traveled to Castle Dracula? I may be thinking only of the back-story provided in Herzog's remake of Nosferatu, but I always thought it plausible that the Englishman in "Dracula's Guest" was Renfield.

Doesn't work. Renfield as an estate agent was an element introduced in various stage and screen adaptations of the stories. Tod Browning (1931) has Renfield go to Transylvania instead of Harker, for example, and Francis Ford Coppola (1992) presents Renfield as the agent who went to Castle Dracula prior to Harker, and returned insane. But in the novel, Renfield is a patient in Seward's sanitarium, first mentioned in a May 25th diary entry, and not an estate agent.

4. Also, kaz_mahoney asked of "Pickman's Other Model": Was that in an older Digest? I'm assuming so, as it has a VL illustraion. I keep thinking about that story... When you first wrote it, was it ever a potential novel-length project? I can see that, somehow.

Yes. "Pickman's Other Model" first appeared in Sirenia Digest #28 (March 2008). Can I see it as a novel? Yes, I could. Easily. Will I ever write that longer story it could be? Maybe, who knows. The problem is, of course, that I have very many short stories that could be novels (and vignettes that could be short stories, for that matter).

5. Yesterday, my new keyboard arrived. It was a gift from Jada, so thank you, Jada! Since April 2007, I've been writing on the keyboard that came with my iMac. But it was a bad design, always had sticky keys (that had become very, very sticky), and, because of the design (set into a clear plastic tray) it easily became filthy and was hard as hell to clean. The new keyboard, also an Apple keyboard, is a sleek brushed aluminum affair, and the keys require the application of only the lightest touch. The old keyboard, with which I wrote many, many stories, as well as The Red Tree (and Beowulf, too, but I'm trying to forget that ever happened), will be packed away now.

6. readingthedark arrived about 7:15 last night, and we got sandwiches from Fellini's, and spent the evening in conversation, about this and that and everything else. I can't begin to remember it all. I read him my introduction for Two Worlds and In Between, about which I was becoming very skittish, and he assured me it's fine (as Spooky had done). At some point, Kathryn called us to her laptop, to see a Second Life Innsmouth sim. There's not much good left that one can say about Second Life. It has become a stagnant backwater. But this sim is a beautiful, beautiful build. You can pose in the arms of a deep one out on Devil's Reef. I recommend you see it before it goes away (all good things on SL go away fairly quickly). The sim is named Innsmouth, so it's easy to find. She'd also downloaded the free Lord of the Rings Online trial (née Middle Earth Online), and we were all rather disgusted with it. Lousy graphics. I mean, sure, it would have looked good in 2002 or 2003. Now...it hardly looks as good as Morrowind looked. All in all, it feels like a WoW knockoff, but with graphics far inferior to WoW. I was very disappointed (though I never would have played anyway, since there's never going to be a Mac version). This is frakkin' Tolkien, people, and you get it right or you leave it the hell alone. Anyway, Geoffrey left a little after 2 a.m., and headed back to Massachusetts and Framingham.

7. And here's another set of photographs from the Portland/HPLFF trip. I hope no one's growing weary of this visual travelogue. I just want to get a goodly portion of it down in the journal, to look back upon in years to come. These are photos taken on our last day in Portland (Monday, October 4th), and in the air, and at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport before we learned the flight to Providence had been canceled:

H.P. Lovecraft, Part 8Collapse )

"The sea was wet as wet can be."

Shaw
Congratulations to all the Hugo Award winners. I just saw the list. I am especially pleased to see the novel tie between Miéville and Bacigalupi, and also the wins by Peter Watts, Ellen Datlow, Clarkesworld, the screenplay for Moon, and Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars. Well done.

I wish I'd have known that updating my OS to 10.6.3 renders Photoshop 7 useless. But I didn't, and there's no use crying over spilled pig intestines. So, I just have to root out a cheap replacement for Photoshop, and quickly. Spooky's pointing me to several possibilities.

A huge thanks to Joah for sweeping in and getting the PDF for Sirenia Digest #57 done yesterday afternoon. Sorry the issue was delayed. This morning, everyone who's a subscriber ought to have it in hisherits inbox. If I do say so myself, I think #57 is an especially strong issue. Comments welcome.

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Yesterday was just shy of a perfect day. About 3 p.m., we left Providence and drove to Conanicut Island, where we spent the late afternoon. We bypassed Beavertail, figuring there would be too many people, and went instead to Fort Wetherill at the southeast corner of the island. We hiked out to the great granite bluff that affords a spectacular view of the lower bay, and to the west Beavertail, and to the east Aquidneck Island and Newport.

The sun was a white ball of fire, and the sky was the bluest blue imaginable. The sky would have shut me down, so carnivorous was it, had the sea not been there to keep me grounded. The wind up there was a fury, buffeting us, blowing so hard that the gulls could make precious little headway against it. Below those granite bluffs, not far from the ruins of the old fort, the sea hammers at the rock as it has hammered for tens of thousands of years. It roils and shatters itself. It's the color of green-white milk glass. The drop's about seventy feet down to the water. If those bluffs have a name, I cannot find it on any map, so I've named them, and the tumbling sea below, the Crucible. I watched an enormous tanker pass the bluffs on its way out to the open Atlantic.

The rocks here are a porphyritic granite of uncertain Late Proterozoic age. This granite was formed by an intrusion of magma, which cooled very slowly, allowing some crystals— the phenocrysts —to grow larger than the groundmass. The granite is shot through with veins of white calcite, some five or six inches wide, and here and there are layers of the older native shale that the magma pushed aside and partially melted. The granite is razor sharp in places, and you must pick your way across it with great caution. The cliffs are clothed in scruffy green, great thickets of bayberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, and too many others to name.

Later, we headed farther east, to the beach at West Cove where we usually collect glass. But the tide was so high in the wake of Hurricane Earl that the beach was entirely submerged. From there we went further east still, to the area once known as Dumpling Rock. In 1798, a fort was constructed here, which was occupied during the Revolutionary War, in turn, by the American, British-Hessian, and French forces. The fort sat abandoned until 1899, when it was renamed Fort Wetherill and fitted with long-range. breach-loading rifled artillery. Sadly, Fort Dumpling's earthworks were entirely obliterated in the first few years of the 20th Century, during the construction of a more modern fortress. Fort Wetherill was active during both the First and Second World Wars, then abandoned by the US military in 1946. Since then, it has sat empty, cement bunkers tagged by graffiti, overgrown, crumbling, concrete burrows for raccoons and foxes, skunks and coyotes. The northern edge of the fort houses a marine research station and a marina, and a couple of the old buildings are still intact. We sat there a while, watching anglers as the sun began to sink. We saw a man land an enormous flounder.

During the drive down and back, I read a great deal of Joshi's The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos, mostly the chapter about August Derleth's "...heroic task of literary misconstrual...." I think we made it back home about 7 p.m. We didn't get to sleep until after four a.m., after reading much of Kristin Hersh's Rat Girl. Too much sun, but it was a fine day, all the same. There are a few photos:

4 September 2010Collapse )