Western Interior Seaway

"It tastes disgusting, it smells rank, and it doesm't even make stuff funny."

I am so goddamned tired I was getting ready to go to bed...at 10 p.m....and realized I'd forgotten to do an entry. And I know how you all hang on my every fucking word, so here I am.

I gather there was a lot of ice on the roads here today, and that it resulted in automobile accidents. All I know is that, for the first time since leaving Rhode Island, the windshield needed scraping this morning. At least it was only frost and not snow. Anyway, right now it's 36˚F.

A good, but utterly exhausting, day at McWane today, and I have another tomorrow. Winifred's left quadrate – which I began work on October 31 – should be "finished" tomorrow. And then we have to rotate the plaster jacket and remove a section of it, and I have to switch from manual to mechanical preparation, work on the back part of the lower jaws. Oh, and we're breaking down the sediment samples that Kathryn and I collected on Sunday in hopes that there are fish otoliths hiding inside, and it'll be cool if there are, very cool, but that's something else to do tomorrow, screen the sediment sample and dry it and look at it under the microscope for the tiny earbones of long dead fish. "Ear bones" probably should be two words.

Oh, and I learned today that the turtle paper I did with Drew and Jun will be out on the 18th, much sooner than I'd expected. Details TBA.

Have I mentioned I'm tired?

When I got home, I watched the episode of Nova about the 2013 Chelyabinsk superbollide, and after dinner we watched the new episode of The Connors. And then the season finale of Castle Rock. Season Two was so vastly better than was Season One, and it was better despite the goofy story about a cult of undead Puritans and despite the silly, ham-fisted attempt to tie the two seasons together. It was vastly better because of Lizzy Caplan's absolutely astounding portrayal of Annie Wilkes, and for that she is to be praised. A bunch. Then we watched the Season Three finale of Mrs. Maisel (again!), and...you know what? I'm tired of complaining about the fools at The Atlantic. And yes, I do watch an awful lot of television.

Oh, and I have this, which I posted to Facebook this morning. I was sitting here, being amazed at the bloody red sunrise cresting Shades Mountain, and I posted:

Okay...so...Trump's campaign is actually, for real, no foolin' comparing him to Thanos. That is, to the ultimate mass murderer (albeit a *fictional* mass murderer), the dude who simply erased half of all sentient beings from the universe. Sure, I buy Trump as a comic-book villain, but, on the other hand, wasn't Hitler and or Stalin or Vlad the Imapler good enough for them?

And now I'm going to bed. For real. I leave you with my Winifred action figure. Not 100% scientifically accurate, but terribly cute all the same.


(3:19 p.m.)
Cordon C3

"I don't even feel like being in your real life."

When I got up at 7:30 a.m. it was 60˚F and raining. Now we have a "wintry mix," and it's 36˚F, with the windchill at 28˚F. A little farther north, I think there's some actual snow-type snow.

Today, I did another 1,298 words on "Seven Dreams."

And tonight we watched four more episodes of Season Three of Mrs. Maisel (again!), and you already know what I think The Atlantic and it's prolier-than-thou, Bernie Sanders-thumping, umpteenth-wave feminists can do with...well, you know.



9:08 p.m.

"Horror movies turn chicks on faster than porno."

No, really. Michael Kelso said so.

Currently, it's 69˚F here in Birmingham. It's 59˚F in Providence, but they're gonna have snow Wednesday. All we got coming is rain.

Today, I began a new story, "Seven Dreams" – a title that is subject to change – and I did 1,108 words. Yes, I am still a fucking fiction writer. The paleontology is just what I do because I'm pathologically incapable of relaxing.

I heard that René Auberjonois died yesterday. The first time I saw him on the big screen was in The Eyes of Laura Mars in 1978, though I'd undoubtedly already seen him in numerous television roles by then. And, of course, he was the original Father Mulcahy in Robert Altman's adaptation of MASH (1970), but I didn't see that until after The Eyes of Laura Mars. Regardless, I knew him as an actor long before Deep Space Nine (1993-1999).

Tonight, we watched the first four episodes of Season Three of Mrs. Masel over again. The Atlantic can sit and spin.

Oh, and I slept an amazing eight whole hours last night.

Later Taters,

8:39 p.m.
Western Interior Seaway

Cheesy Potatoes

Windy and 60˚F tonight.

Spooky and I spent the day in the field, but it was the sort of day that was more about looking for the right sediments than actually getting around to finding many of the fossils that might be inside them. The right rocks were found. And Spooky found a tiny, beautiful fossil snail (even though we were mostly looking...never mind).

Back home, we had a slightly odd rotisserie chicken for dinner, then watched a Nova episode about the terracotta army built to serve China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di, and then we watched the new episode of Shameless, and then we watched a couple of episodes of That 70s Show

And now we're tired and going to bed very soon.

Caroll Spinney died today. The man who played Big Bird and Oscar from 1969 to 2018. It's just kinda hard to believe.

And I have this thing I posted to Facebook this morning. I'm putting it here so I won't lose it:

Were someone to ask me the difference between an old-school liberal and a "woke progressive" I would consider the question thoughtfully (as I have), and then I would likely reply, "Same as the difference between a soldier and a terrorist." Seriously, remember when liberalism was about trying to win the day by approaching your fellow citizens with reason and compassion, not bludgeoning the infidels and traitors into submission with fear and intimidation?


1:50 p.m.
Cordon C3

"It's the soundtrack of the revolution, man."

Tonight, after a sunny day, it's 57˚F.

Really not much to say about today. It has the sad distinction of only being the fifth worst day of the month. The truth hurts. Me more than you, but there it is.

I watched an episode of American Experience about Annie Oakley, then another about Amelia Earhart, and then an episode of Nova about the Kepler space telescope. Then tonight we finished Season Three of Mrs. Maisel (five episodes a night, two nights), and it was brilliant, and it was hilarious, both as expected, but unexpectedly sorta harrowing. Repeat after me, "The Atlantic is full of shit. Again. As always. It's what they do."

We're hoping to do some fieldwork tomorrow, but it all depends on the weather.

Oh, and yesterday was not Sméagol's tenth Gotcha Day. That was today. And we didn't have him for four years. We only had him for three years and three months. I used to have a memory. At least about the things that mattered.

Thank you. Drive around.


10:16 p.m. (a little too tall, this image, but they can't all be winners)

Foots in Asses: The Silver Screen Edition

So, today wasn't as shitty as Tuesday, but it was way shittier than Monday. December 6th, you're in second place for the month. Sorry, kiddo.

Rain. Clouds, then rain. Currently, it's a miserable 53˚F.

I used be be very impressed with Rian Johnson. Even after he made Star Wars: The Last Jedi at least half an hour too long. I'd loved literally everything he'd done (and I'm old, so I know how to use literally correctly). I suspected Rian Johnson might even turn out to be great. But then...he made this dull-ass piece of crap called Knives Out, and then I made the mistake of going to see it. So, now I know that Rian Johnson isn't merely fallible, he's actually capable of making an entirely unwatchable movie. Oh, sure. I know the whole goddamn world has a hard-on for this silly movie, but who you gonna believe?*

God, what an awful fucking movie, what an irredeemable 130 minutes (yeah, it's over two hours long).

And why did anyone think it was a good idea to cast Daniel Craig as Foghorn Leghorn?

Today is Sméagol's Gotcha Day. On this day in 2009, we brought Sméagol home, and we fell in love with him, and then he died suddenly four years later. Which, looking back at this idiotic decade, that was really when things started going disastrously wrong for me, the night that Sméagol died.


4:46 p.m. (“Ah say, I made a funny, son, and you’re not laughin’.")

* When you make crap art, but everyone loves it, that's proof you suck. Then again, the wads of cash tend to alleviate the sting.
Western Interior Seaway

Sugar Packet

Today was our second nice day in a row here, but I was in the lab all day, so...and now it's gonna rain until the middle of next week. Alabama doesn't so much have a winter as a rainy season. Currently, it's 46˚F. The high today was 65˚F.

So, yeah. I was at McWane again today. The left quadrate of Winifred in almost clean. After this element is done, I'll be moving on to the material still in the plaster field jacket, which means I'll be moving from manual preparation to the air scribe, which I hope means things will move along a little faster. In "normal" Mooreville Chalk, manual prep is a breeze, but Winifred came from within the lower ten meters of the formation, where it grades into the Tombigbee Sand Member of the Eutaw Formation, and at that horizon the chalk is full of glauconite (a greenish iron potassium phyllosilicate) that has to be painstakingly picked off with dental tools, sometimes, literally, one granule at a time. And I know this is boring you silly, but I'm too tired right now to care. Oh, and there was stuff today about the turtle paper, which may actually be out within weeks. I found typos in the galleys, because finding other people's typos, when I can rarely see my own, that's my superpower.


Tonight we had spaghetti and watched Part One of Chasing the Moon on American Experience.

And I had these lines from an Iron & Wine song stuck in my head most of the day:

And the beast, never seen,
Licks its red talons clean.
Sara curses the cold,
"No more snow, no more snow, no more snow."

And...here's something I wrote several years ago, and it just keeps getting more and more true:

Yesterday, it occurred to me that I have outlived the context that made sense of my existence. I now exist out of context, like a dodo bird in a cyberpunk story, and it's a terrible way to be. I suppose I'm saying I have become an anachronism. But it seems worse even than that. Anachronism makes it sound dignified, and I feel no dignity in this.

And, on that note, I'm going to bed. I leave you with Saurocephalus, one of my favorite fish in the chalk.


3:57 p.m.
Western Interior Seaway

A Less Morose Entry

Mostly, today was a better day than the past two. It was probably a vastly better day than was yesterday.

I spent most of it at McWane, working on Winifred the tylosaur. Also, the paper describing a new genus and species of fossil sea turtle that I coauthored with Drew and Jun has been accepted for publication (stay tuned for details), and that was very good news. But then I had to come home from the lab and, after a short nap and dinner, proof the galleys one more time, because the journal wanted a three-day turn around. I'll likely have to proof them again in the morning, before I go back to McWane, because, coffee or no coffee, I was not entirely awake this evening.

But yeah, not an awful day. Though Spooky did tell me that, after 42 years, Charlemagne Records at Five Points South is going out of business at the end of December. Jacked-up rents and declining sales are to blame, say the owners (of 42 years). I first visited Charlemagne in 1978, when I started doing volunteer work at the now long-defunct Red Mountain Museum. I was fourteen, and it was the first time I'd ever been in a real record store. Most of the records I bought in college, and, indeed, most records I bought before I left to live in Athens, Georgia in 1994 were bought from Charlemagne. I cannot imagine Birmingham without it, and, really, with the death of Charlemagne, I think I can say that my Birmingham is pretty much dead. There this new city here shuffling frantically about in the shell of Birmingham, with it's ludicrously priced lofts, app headquarters, micro breweries, and what the hell ever, but it's not Birmingham. And it's surely not Five Points. It hasn't really been Five Points since we lost the Piggly Wiggly and the Woolworth's back in the nineties...okay, you know what? I'm getting angry. I'll say more about Charlemagne Records later. I'll go buy and take a bunch of photos and post them here, to help keep alive the memory. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow afternoon, after McWane.

Last night, we finished our second time all the way through seasons One and Two of Mrs. Maisel, because Season There starts on Friday. Oh, and December 1st was the beginning of Kittypalooza 5, our fifth-annual winter viewing of all eight seasons of That 70s Show.

Next week, I'm going to begin work on a story, maybe a longish one, set in Lovecraft's Dreamlands, maybe with some heavy Dunsany influence. I haven't done that sort of story in some number of years, and I think I'd like to again.

Anyway, this has gotten long. I leave you with this shot of Winifred's plaster tomb (well, her skull) and my work station at the museum.

Later Taters,

3:01 p.m.
Cordon C3

The Worst Bad Day This Month

Currently, it's 36˚F.

Did I say that yesterday was bad? I was wrong. Yesterday was merely the warm-up act for today. About 2 p.m. I gave up and lay down and watched episodes of Nova about the Dead Sea, the Great Pyramid, and Hawaiian volcanoes.

I'm going to bed. Tomorrow's McWane.


11:10 p.m.

"Shut up, dog."

The cold found us today, finally, which is one of the several things that was wrong with today. Currently, it's 39˚F, 33˚F with the windchill, and we're told the low will be 31˚F, which is better than when they were saying the low would be 28˚F.

I didn't get any work done today, unless you want to count me helping Spooky get boxes of signature sheets ready for the post office. But she's the one who actually took them, so....

I finished Larry McMurtry's The Last Kind Words Saloon and then began reading Stephen King's Doctor Sleep. This is the first time I've tried to read a Stephen King novel that I have not previously read since Gerald's Game came out in 1992. Some of you were not yet even born. We'll see how it goes.


10:51 p.m.