"After the torchlight red on sweaty faces..."

Sunny and hot until late this afternoon, when the thunderstorms came back. Then heavy rain. Our high was 89˚F. It is currently 88˚F, with a heat index of 96˚F and (another) flood advisory.

Once more, a better day than I have been having. I did some more long overdue maintenance on Luthíen the iMac. I changed my desktop background from a montage of fossil turtles from the McWane collection to a manatee, because I needed more green and blue about me. I did a bunch of dusting and shelved a armload of wayward books. I did a little laundry.

Also, I started listening to the audiobook of The Dinosaur Tourist, and I made it through "The Beginning of the Year Without a Summer," "Far From Any Shore," and "The Cats of River Street (1925)." The stories are really very well read. I was able to approve every single narrator used in all twelve volumes. Oh, they are, by the way (and all can be pruchased from on DVD or digitally from Audible):

Tales of Pain and Wonder
To Charles Fort, With Love
A is for Alien
The Ammonite Violin & Others
Two Worlds and in Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan (Volume One)
Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart
The Ape's Wife and Other Stories
Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan (Volume Two)
Dear Sweet Filthy World
The Dinosaur Tourist
Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales

I mean to listen to a lot of these stories over the next few days, in an effort to get my head out of the pit of anger, despair, and anxiety in which it has been mired and back into the fiction place.

The afternoon's comfort movie was Jon McTiernan's Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995). In a number of ways, it's my favorite of the series. A big part of that is the chemistry between Samuel Jackson and Bruce Willis, reunited after Pulp Fiction (in which they shared not a single scene). But also, Jeremy Irons and the inexplicably (but wonderfully) cast Sam Phillips make such marvelously sexy villains. And, well, shit blows up real good.

So, that was today.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

4:57 p.m.
Cordon C3

"'Cause the night has a thousand eyes."

I asked for the rain to leave, and today it seems, so far, to have done just that. The sun is shining. Currently, it's 79˚F.

This afternoon's comfort film was Alex Proyas' brilliant Dark City (1998). If you have not ever seen the July 2008 director's cut, you truly have not seen the film. The studio butchered Proyas' film at least as badly as the hatchet job that was done on Blade Runner. The director's cut removes exposition, restores plot and characterization, and generally takes the amazing (but flawed) thing we saw in theaters and gives us Proyas' actual vision. One of the most baffling disappointments of latter 20th Century Hollywood was that Proyas never again came even remotely close to again delivering this sort of cinematic gem. Perhaps if the world had originally been given a chance to see Dark City as it was meant to be seen and if the studio had been a little more supportive...but no.

The postman brought a mountain of boxes today: From Subterranean Press, ARCs of both Vile Affections and Cambrian Tales, and from Writers House (my lit agent), CD copies of Blackstone Audio's ten exquisite audiobook productions of (ten of) my short fiction collections. So, all that stuff has to be schelped up the stairs, and the house is full, and the storage unit is full, and it doesn't help that we once again have a house full of food as we move into another lockdown. So, watch for eBay auctions soon. In fact, the Cambrian Tales ARCs will soon be a rarity, as SubPress is sending out very, very few copies.

And I spent about three hours doing long-overdue maintenance of Luthíen, my iMac, much of which consisted of dumping old files and applications. Suddenly, she's running much more like she ran when she was new, back in 2012.

So, in all ways, yes, this was a better and more productive day than yesterday.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

4:53 p.m.

Lost in Place

I am so fucking sick of this rain. We have trees coming down. Roadside embankments collapsing. Streets flooding. And these grey skies. Our high today was, reputedly, 87˚F.

I am utterly inactive, hardly working, and completely exhausted. This will be, I think, the 20th day since I was last Outside.

Right now, I'm trying not to waste precious energy on another rant, like the one from yesterday. Those ignorant, pigheaded fuckers are not worth it.

It's not just the actual work that's become difficult. It's doing the smallest things, everything that is not simply sitting still, waiting.

The afternoon's film was Danny Boyle's Sunshine (2007).

The days are rarely bad. The days are almost never good. The days simply are, one after another.

Aunt Beast

9:59 p.m.

"Bury it, I won't let you bury it."

Rain most of the day. Rain and thunder and flash flood warnings. Monotony is setting in. Our high was only 81˚F.

I did not get a lot of work done today.

The day's comfort movie was Blade Runner 2049, and it was not very comforting.

The new round of COVID-19 fear and frustration is shutting me down. Back in April and May, when we were vaccinated, I had a brief period of optimism when I thought we really were nearing the end of this nightmare. But I entirely underestimated the degree to which Americans would refuse to take the vaccine. I underestimated the degree to which insanely irresponsible government officials, mostly at the state level, would encourage their refusal. I am embarrassed at the degree to which I underestimated these things. I know full well how bad science education is in America, and I know, too, how much damage the antivaxxers and Trump and QAnon, by Russian and Chinese and North Koreans hackers, and by conspiracy promulgators like FoxNews and InfoWars had done. I should have seen this coming. But I was exhausted after about thirteen grueling months of hardcore self isolation. And now, here I am, fully vaccinated and in month sixteen of self isolation. Since July 4th, cases resulting in hospitalization in Alabama have more than doubled, and the new sick are overwhelmingly unvaccinated. We're back to April's case load, and everything points to "a no end in sight" scenario for this present increase. It's the same sort of surge we saw last summer, only this time it could have been fucking prevented. Only 33.73% of our population is vaccinated, barely more than a third. We remain the least vaccinated state in America, and that's not likely to change anytime soon.

But we see this all over America. We see this all over the world. It is as if some biopsychological/cultural suicide trigger has been pulled and humanity is determined to do itself as much damage as possible. Yesterday I thought of something Rust Cohle said in Season One of True Detective:

I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. We are creatures that should not exist by natural law. We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self, this accretion of sensory experience and feelings, programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody's nobody. I think the honorable thing for our species to do is to deny our programming. Stop reproducing. Walk hand in hand into extinction. One last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.

I have not been Outside in (if we count today) nineteen days.

I am so scared and angry and frustrated and depressed that I can only just barely think coherently. So, you will excuse me if I am not writing, if I am blowing deadlines. If I'm not answering your emails. I'm having enough trouble remembering to breathe.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

3:10 p.m.
Cordon C3

100% of Nothing is 100% Effective. 100% of Nothing Is 100% Free of Negative Side Effects.

No, not even aspirin.

This is not going to be the entry I wanted to make today, not the one I said yesterday that I was going to make today.

This has not been a merely bad day. This has been an exceptionally bad day.

And some people might think it shitty of me, but I want it known that most of my immediate family is refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. My mom and sister and my Aunt Joanne's surviving son, they're good. They're covered. But my mom's sister and both her daughters (my first cousins) and one of those daughter's entire family, and my sister's son (my nephew), they've all refused to be vaccinated. I won't name names, but. These are not stupid people. But you can be plenty ignorant and plenty wrongheaded without actually being stupid. And all of them are risking my mom's life and my sister's life.

Be a grownup. Take your fucking medicine.

Something I posted to Facebook today: The same mass media that (intentionally or not) helped Trump get elected, then spent four years fighting his war on mass media, are now, that he's out of office, still covering him night and day. And this is one thing that is wrong with journalism in America. You help keep him in the spotlight, you empower him and his followers.

Aunt Beast

5:25 p.m.
Ellen Ripley 2

Ex Luna, Scientia

It's raining. I woke to clouds at 8:30 a.m. (an hour and a half late), and then it was sunny, and then the thunderstorms came as they are coming every afternoon. Which is pretty much just mid summer in North Central Alabama. Currently it's 81˚F, heat index at 85˚F; the storm cooled thing off. The air through my open window smells very good.

By now it is utter monotony to say it was a bad day. But it was a very bad day. The one really good thing was getting a test 3D scan/model of a mosasaur quadrate from Mike, which is almost as good as holding the actual bone in my hand. Actually, in some way better. I am not an utter luddite. There is a time and a place for embracing new technology. Plus, this might save me a long trip.

I'm still watching AppleTV+'s For All Mankind, and I want to write a long explanation of what is so wrong with the show, and why this sort (but not all) of alternate history science-fiction can be not on disrespectful but actually kinda dangerous. But I am expected somewhere, so it will have to wait until tomorrow. But, suffice to say, in its headlong quest for a more equitable past, For All Mankind makes some pretty idiotic assumptions and blunders. Though the series has actually begun to offend me, I may watch a little more. Know thy enemy.

Anything else? Not really.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

4:10 p.m.

"You are someone else. I am still right here."

Sunny most of the day. I expect storms later. Currently, it's 89˚F, with the heat index at 94˚F.

No work again today. I woke up an hour and a half late.

The highlight of the day was a phone call from Drew Gentry, the UAB/McWane paleontologist with whom I am working on various Late Cretaceous turtle papers. It was a good conversation. We hadn't spoken outside email and Twitter DMs since McWane closed for the lockdown in March 2020. It was good just talking turtles, things that have yet to be done and how to do them, the importance of this or that specimen to understanding the evolution of various fresh- and saltwater lineages, but it inevitably became a conversation about COVID and the dumpster fire that the state of Alabama has become as it struggles to do everything imaginable except deal with COVID-19. (Our caseload has quintupled in the past ten days, as people continue to refuse vaccination and mask.) Like me, he just recently came home to Alabama after many years away from home, and, like me, he finds this is no longer a place that sane, rational people worried about the lives of their loved ones can live. Oh, and we talked about Guild Wars 2. And the sudden rash of people acting like lunatics on airplanes.

Falling in deeply passionate, lifelong love with a group of animals that have been extinct for 66 mya*, which you will never see alive but always ache to see alive - there ought to be a word for that. Maybe it's just "paleontologist."

About yesterday – I try, these days, not to sink to such profound displays of public angst. Yes, my feelings are valid. Doesn't mean I should be sharing them with the world. I find it unsightly. But I've been week lately, struggling with what's to come,how to cope with the delta variant and all the variants to come, facing a possible second lockdown, etc. Still unable to leave the house for long stretches. So, moving forward, I'm going to try to keep more of that to myself. Now, that's me. As they say, you do you, What works for you, might not work for me and vice versa. I am judging myself and no one else. And I should not have to say that.

Dozens of reasons for anti-vaxer hysteria, but in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine I'm pretty sure a lot of it arises from a failure to understand how decimal points work.

I'm also going to talk very soon about gender again, and how someone can be both transsexual* and genderfluid/non-binary, because lots of people don't understand the difference between sex (biology) and gender (culture), and my own views are (like turtles) evolving, and Wikipedia is hilariously bad at dealing with this shit.

Today is World Snake Day. That matters.

We're watching For All Mankind on AppleTV+, an alt history presupposing the Soviets were the first on the moon, and it's very well made, and it has potential, but there's something about it that bothers me. We're only about four episodes into the two existing seasons, so more later.

And I am expected in another corner of the internet in fifteen minutes, so lets wrap this up.

Later Taters Beans,
Aunt Beast

4:40 p.m.

* million years ago
** Widespread adoption of the word "transgender" really mucked things up.

The Deadly Hedgehog

Was a time I was really into Tori Amos. But after Under the Pink (1994) she just lost me.

Mostly hot and sunny today, except when it as cloudy. No yet so far, so at least there's that. Currently, it's 92˚F, with the heat index at an admittedly toasty 97˚F. That's likely the day's high, given the late hour.

No work today, of any sort.

I slept an hour too late, not getting up until 8 a.m., but that wasn't it. This world has become a stone around my neck. All of it. COVID-19. Trump and his Merry Court of Whackadoo Shit Stains. Every flavor of conspiracy-obsessed, anti-intellectual, anti-scientific bullshit out there. All the xenophobia and hatred and spite. But lest it seem I am biased, I also have quite a lot of anger reserved for and quite a lot of anxiety and depression generated by the fools on the starry-eyed fools and anarchists on the far left. In 2021 America, being a political moderate is a curse that damns you and assures you'll be hated by most everyone.

This has not been a good day.

I am not okay.

I do not know if I can survive another quarantine. I do not know if there will be much of me left if I do.

No, I should not have left Rhode Island, and it pains me more than I can explain to admit that. It is monstrous that I have to admit it, but I am admitting it. As of today, 33.34% of Alabama has been vaccinated. As of today, 60.1% of Rhode Island has been vaccinated.


Last night we saw Navot Papushado's Gunpowder Milkshake (2021; Netflix). It tries. It tries really hard. There's a great cast – Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, and Paul Giamatti. And it almost has charm. It it almost makes for wonderful eye candy. And it almost achieves some pretty good gun play and fight choreography. But in the end the whole thing is only the sum total of all these almosts, and the film is dragged down by mediocre direction and a pretty bland script. It's almost a cool film.

I neglected to mention that, night before last, we finished our second watch-through of The Big Bang Theory. I think we made it through all twelve seasons in not much more than a month.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

4:34 p.m.

Howard Hughes and a World of Dumb

Kay Ivey is an evil woman, and that needs saying. Likewise, governors Ron Desantis, Brian Kemp, Bill Lee, and Gregg Abbott are evil men, and that needs saying, as well. It as if someone set out to summon the ghost of George Wallace and called up all these ignorant, hateful motherfuckers, instead.

Yeah, I'm not gonna spiral too deeply into how badly America – and especially the Deep South, and maybe especially Alabama – is currently fucked. I'm too tired. My day has been too higgledy-piggledy. Something has gone unimaginably wrong with this country.

I did not write fiction today. I did write a little on one of the paleo' papers. But, frankly, Kathyn and I deciding that we need to go back into self isolation, despite both being fully vaccinated, it has made doing anything at all that requires either mental or physical effort almost impossible. But faced with that fact that the delta variant can be contract in less than a minute (compared to the fifteen that alpha needed), I do not see how we have a choice, and I am just grateful we have the option.

This did not have to happen.

Kathryn hasn't seen her family since June 2018 and needs to visit Providence. My nephew, who lives with my mom, refuses to be vaccinated (she is fully vaccinated), and I have not seen her in a year. I've given up on McWane for the foreseeable future, because I just can't see risking it. I need to make paleo' related trip to the Field Museum and the University of Kansas, but that's not gonna happen anytime soon. So, motivation keeps slipping away from me.

It was a sunny day out there. Our high was 90˚F, which it still is, with the heat index at 92˚F.

Aunt Beast

3:19 p.m.
Roy Batty

I am Caitlín's sternum

Sunny today, except for when it was cloudy. And the afternoon thunder. Our high was 86˚F.

Yes, I live in a state where it is entirely reasonable to refer to the governor as Foghorn Memaw.

There is not much to say for today, and I'm too tired to go on one of the rants of which I seem to have become so fond as of late (apocalypse can have that affect on a person). I somehow overslept an hour and a half this morning and it threw everything off.

But tonight Sirenia Digest #172 (May 2020) went out to subscribers, with "In Utero, In Tenebris," so the Great Hole of 2020 is finally vanquished. Now I just have to make sure it does not happen again. As ever, I am grateful for your patience.

“Instead of trying to be original, we should just try to make known what already exists.” – Dany Laferrière

And tonight we also watched A Quiet Place Part II. Not quite as sharp as the first film, but still very good. Cilian Murphy was a surprising and effective addition, and, as before, Millicent Simmonds was impressive.

Kathryn just said that the reaction of so-many vaccination/mask/quarantine deniers around the world (and especially in Alabama) only goes to prove that people in horror movies do not act especially stupid. They just act like most people, demonstrating no real concern for whether they live or die. Spoiler alert: The zombies win, kiddos. The zombies win.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

7:04 a.m. (yesterday)