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Bumblebee meets Winifred

Cold again tonight, though not as cold. We got down to 19˚F last night. That' what it still was when I got up just before sunrise, about 6:45 a.m., and made a note of the temperature at 7:11 a.m.. Most mornings these days I watch the sunrise over Shades Valley. That's not a bad thing, not in and of itself. It's oddly peaceful. Kathryn usually sleeps about an hour later than I do now, and it's quiet. But I do sometimes miss sleeping late, and my, how I have digressed? Anyway, it's currently about 41˚F.

A good day at McWane today. I made Winifred wait while I started preparing the single cervical from the mosasaur we found on Monday, which now has a McWane catalog number, MSC 42404. Winifred has one of the old Red Mountain numbers, RMM 3371, since her discovery and excavation predates the demise of the RMM in 1994 and the arrival of McWane in 1998. I spent about three hours on the cervical, then started feeling guilty for neglecting Winifred and went back to work on that left quadrate. But by then it was late, so I didn't accomplish very much on it today.

Oh, and Bill Schafer sent me Ted Naifeh's illustration for "Refugees," the story that will come as a free hardback chapbook with the limited edition of Comes a Pale Rider.

Tonight, there were new episodes of both The Connors and Shameless, and both were very funny.

And I think it's time for bed.


3:45 p.m.

Dreaming of Dreams of Dreams of Waking

As with most of America, a bitter cold has descended over Alabama. When I awoke this morning, it was overcast and the windchill was in the low twenties ˚F. That dropped to a windchill of 16˚F later, before the sun came out. Tonight's going to be worse than last night. Currently, it's 27˚F, with a windchill of 16˚F. Our expected low 22˚F, and obviously we have a freeze warning.

This morning and into the early afternoon Kathryn and I proofread "Tupelo (1998)," written in January 2017. The story holds up very well, and is likely the best of my post-Dark Horse Dancy stories. It ought to be; the thing's over 17k-words long, the longest of all the Dancy stories. I had also forgotten how many blatantly autobiographical elements made it into the story.

After work, we went to a late matinée of Robert Eggers' The Lighthouse (2019). I can at least say that the movie is true to what it sets out to be, and at least it isn't part of the current industry trend to try and turn a quick buck by perverting such genuinely great works of dark fiction as The Haunting of Hill House, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and The Turn of the Screw.* I feel so sorry for poor Mackenzie Davis, stuck in the forthcoming fucking atrocious remake of Jack Clayton's excellent The Innocents (1961), which of course is based on Henry James' novella, The Turn of the Screw. Between Terminator: Dark Fate and that aforementioned atrocity of a film, Floria Sigismondi's The Turning (2020), Ms. Davis needs to kick her agent in the teeth.

Oh, and late yesterday I saw the Nova episode about Paul Sereno's discoveries at Gobero, Niger.


Seeing "Bernie 2020" bumperstickers is proof that there are people incapable of learning, even when their futile, wrongheaded actions help to place America, and, indeed, the entire world in jeopardy. The Sanderistas? It's that "special" kind of stupid you hear about.


Irony is all these idiots in Guy Fawkes masks, supposedly protesting and rioting for democracy.


4:32 p.m.

* That was not an actual defense of The Lighthouse. Just an observation.

A Mosasaur Named Bumblebee

I'm really too tired to be making a journal entry, but I want to get something down, so here goes. Then I'm headed straight to bed. Today was warm and sunny, until the clouds began moving in late, and the temperature started falling. Currently, it's still 62˚F, but that's not gonna last long. We have a wind advisory and a freeze warning. A two-day freeze warning. With a chance of "wintry mix" in the morning. Our overnight low is forecast at 31˚F.

After yesterday, we needed the chalk gullies again. And it was good day. Various incidental finds leading up to Kathryn and I both spotting (at pretty much the same moment) a medium-sized mosasaur weathering out. There's the potential for a good skull in the ground, but between wet weather and hunting season starting on the 23rd, it may be spring before I can find out. Oh, and there was a cottontail that burst out of the weeds about a foot in front of me and scared me silly. And there was a sleepy little brown anole. And a bumblebee that hugged Spooky. And a beautiful bald eagle perched in a tree. Also a coyote trotting along the interstate median. Deer everywhere. And a lot of marvelous, merciful quiet.

We left about 9 a.m., then got home about 5 p.m.

The photo below shows a dorsal vertebra (light-colored bone on the left) laying atop a cervical vertebrae (darker bone), with some cervical ribs fragments showing below the vertebrae. The genus is Clidastes, though I can't call the species without seeing the skull.

Later Taters,

1:27 p.m.

"I did spy periscopes..."

Very, very tired. A warm and sunny day, and it's still 61˚F. But very cold air is on the way again.

Today was my Aunt Joanne's funeral, and first we gathered at the Kilgore Funeral parlor in Leeds, and then the procession went over the mountain to Kendricks Cemetery in Dunnavant, where my mom's side of the family, the Rameys and Isbells and so forth, has been getting themselves buried since before the Civil War. Most of my immediate family made it, some of whom I'd not seen since my Grandma Ramey died in 2005. It's a beautiful spot, on the shores of Wehapa Lake, in the shadow of a mountain. Today, the mountain was afire with autumn colors.

I'm going to make a long post about Aunt Joanne sometime soon. But tonight I'm so tired I can hardly type.

The absolute weirdest thing about today was seeing my eighth-grade homeroom teacher. Mr. Dawson, whom I had not seen since May 1978, forty-one years ago. And telling who was was back then.

This morning, before the funeral, Kathryn and I read through "Bus Fare" and "Dancy vs. the Pterosaur," both of which hold up far better than I expected. "Bus Fare," especially, which was written way, way back in early 2011.

Later Taters,

4:27 p.m.

The Lightness of the Dark

A cold but sunny day. Currently, it's 42˚F, and we have a frost advisory.

I didn't leave the house today.

I spent about four hours today just compiling the ms. for Comes a Pale Rider, layout and all that, writing the publication notes and what have you. I printed out all 177 pages, 56,614 words of prose. I think it's going to be a nice book. I still have to proofread the whole thing (and that's gonna be a goddamn marathon), but it feels like a book now, not just a bunch of files on my iMac.

Most of the day was shadowed by that old anger that rarely pursues me anymore. But I managed to stay ahead of it, and it finally gave up the chase about three p.m.

Anyway, after work, Spooky gave me a haircut I've been needing for months. Most of my head is shaved again, and it feels good.

Tonight, I had a can of Progresso chicken and rice soup for dinner, and then we finished Season Two of Jack Ryan. I think I'm going to bed a little early. Oh, and before dinner, we watched the new(ish) American Experience about Woodstock.


8:25 a.m.

No Fate But What You Fake

A morning with clouds and sun, but the temperature dropped all day, and by sunset it was overcast and very cold. Currently, it's 42˚F, with the windchill at 39˚F, and we have a freeze warning for tonight.

This morning I read back over the afterword for Comes a Pale Rider, and, unexpectedly, I did about a hundred line edits. Then I began laying out the ms. proper.

This afternoon, we went out to Patton Creek AMC, which seems to have replaced the far better theater at the Galleria with a Mondrian Playskool nightmare. Anyway, yes, we went to see Terminator: Dark Fate, which I'd somehow convinced myself was actually directed by James Cameron, even though I knew full well how he's up to his eyeballs in all those Avatar sequels we'll likely never see. And the trailers and my fondness for Mackenzie Davis all conspired to make me foolishly optimistic. People keep saying that Terminator: Dark Fate is the best (or the least awful?) of the three followups to T2 (1991). Having just endured the thing, I'm not at all sure this is true. I'm pretty certain, for all their flaws, both Terminator Salvation (2009) and Terminator Genisys (2015) were better films; both were surely better looking and more imaginative films. I absolutely cannot forgive Tim Miller for making such an ugly, muddy, murky mess of a film, all head shots and closeups. Really, BIG HEADS everywhere, and you cannot make a fucking action movie that's almost all closeups. More than half the time, it was simply impossible to tell what the fuck was transpiring onscreen. Cinematography? Forget about it. And the script was...well...what script? Only Mackenzie Davis delivered a noteworthy performance. Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger were on some sort of geriatric autopilot, and Natalia Reyes, for whom John Connor died, had all the charisma of a wet sock. Likewise, Gabriel Luna, who should have at least equaled Robert Patrick's menacing T-1000, was hardly worth the energy it would have taken to yawn (though Spooky says she yawned a lot). A lot of critics are pointing to the film's first scene (well, technically the second), wherein John Connor dies very shortly after having been saved by the events of T2 as the film's most egregious failing. And I agree, that one scene strips the first two films of what made them human, not only undermining, but simply erasing Sarah and her son's war against Skynet. There's a good rundown on this problem in various quotes in the Wikipedia article for Terminator: Dark Fate, which I'm linking to, rather than quoting all the choice bits. Really, truly, this was a huge disappointment for me, though it probably shouldn't have been. But you are warned. It's a wretched, unforgivable film. I just hope lessons have been learned and there will be no more sequels in this "franchise" ever again, please.

Not the best of days.

On the small screen, we blew through seasons eleven and twelve of Ink Masters and we've started Season Two of Jack Ryan, which is, by the way, a better action film than we saw on the big screen today.

Oh, and I had my first taste of oat "milk" the other day, and my first thought was of Bo Bennett's brilliant declaration "Show me the tit on an almond!." No, I was not impressed with oat "milk." Sure, it's better than soy milk and almond milk, but so is paint thinner.


3:12 p.m.

Howard Hughes and the Purloined Lizard

A good bit of sun early today, but then the rain began, sometime this afternoon. Currently, it's raining and 60˚F.

This morning, I finished the introduction to Comes a Pale Rider. Only I decided to make it an afterword, instead, because there are spoilers. I did 1,015 words, bringing the afterword to 2,790 words, total. When I started the thing, I imaged it might run to five hundred words.

After the writing, I went to McWane at 1 p.m., and I spent the next three and a half hours on the left quadrate. I've spent eleven hours on the bone over the past two days. Keeping in mind that mosasaurs (and most all tetrapods, you included) have two quadrates, I'm estimating that those two bones alone will require ~40 hours of preparation time. Just two bones. Keep these numbers in mind, next time you gaze upon a mounted fossil skeleton. And, of course, the bigger the beast, the more time is required. Winifred might have been twenty-five feet long when she was alive (the largest specimens of Tylosaurus proriger measure about twice that length). Even so, the amount of time her skull will require is somewhat less than might be needed for, say, a large dinosaur.

This afternoon, I came home, cold and damp and utterly exhausted. Spooky and I watched a Nova episode about how the Gay Head Lighthouse at Martha's Vineyard was saved from tumbling into the sea. And then she went to get dinner from Greenwise, and I dozed a little.

And that was today. It's been a long, long week, and it's far from over.


4:34 p.m.

"You told me I was like the Dead Sea."

Another sunny, warm day. Currently, it's 65˚F.

Tomorrow we get rain.

Today was McWane, and I spent almost all of the six hours I was there working on that left quadrate bone of Winifred's. And on the subject of whether or not "Toby" and Winifred (RMM 3391) really, truly are the same specimen (see "A Toby No More," 9 October 2019), today I was able to conclusively settle the problem. The proverbial "smoking gun" has been provided. Going through the prepped and cataloged material from Winifred I found a broken section of a thoracic rib that fit perfectly with a section of broken thoracic material from the "Toby" material. I mean, it was a perfect fit. And there's only one explanation – the mosasaur skull excavated in 1990 and 1991 actually belongs to Winifred. So, in 2019, yes, I am indeed working on a mosasaur I discovered, originally, on March 14, 1983. Sometimes, it's good to be right. Winifred has a head.

I was going to say more about mine and Kathryn's collecting in the chalk this week, but I'm really too tired to say much. Kathryn's really a good fossil hunter, it turns out, which should come as no surprise, given her beach-combing skills. We were in a gully hardly five minutes when she's sound a section of mosasaur tail, and then she found a fish, and then a jaw from fairly rare species of fish, and then a baby mosasaur neck vertebra. You get the picture. In a couple of hours we collected the following taxa from an area no more than 12"x12": Clidastes sp., Cryptodira incertae sedis, Enchodus spp., Anomoeodus sp., Cretolamna sp., Scapanorhynchus sp. Cretoxyrhina sp. along with various invertebrates and as-yet-unidentified vertebrates. This was a locality I'd not collected since about 1999, when I found part of a fossil bird skeleton there (?Ichthyornithes).

Today was Carl Sagan Day. The 9th would have been his 85th birthday.

Anyway, I'm heading back to McWane tomorrow afternoon, but first I'm going to try and finish writing the introduction for Comes a Pale Rider (and maybe have time to begin putting the ms. together). I've seen initial sketches for Ted Naifeh's interior artwork for the new stories, and they look great.

Later TyloTaters,

3:21 p.m.
Utter exhaustion right now. It was a bright and sunny day, and currently the temperature is 62˚F.

Last night, my mother's older sister died. back on October 28th when I was talking about dark days, it was her illness I was alluding to. As I said on Facebook this morning:

Last night, my Aunt Joanne Cage (née Ramey) died. When I was a kid, I sorta thought she was the smartest woman in the world. She read voraciously and made me unashamed of my bookishness. She was born in 1934. I loved her dearly, and now she is at rest.

I have McWane tomorrow, but much of the rest of the week will be spent in Leeds and Dunnavant with my family.

Kathryn and I have spent the last two days collecting Upper Cretaceous fossils from the chalk in western Alabama. And I'll say more about that later. I got too much sun today (yesterday was overcast), and mostly I just want to lie down and shut my eyes. A chalk gully on November day is almost bright and hot enough to sear your eyes shut. And yet they're only about one-sixth as unpleasant in November as they are in July. We did discover, though, that Kathryn's butt has magical fossil-bone locating abilities, though they seem to work best on cloudy days.


2:12 p.m. (yesterday)

Blackholes and Revelations

A little warmer today and sunny again. Currently, it's 60˚F.

I spent an hour this morning pulling Sirenia Digest #165 together, and it has now gone out to subscribers. After the digest was done, I spent over three hours working on an introduction for Comes a Pale Horse, which was not an unpleasant endeavor until I reached the part about Dark Horse. I must have spent a thousand words trying to document and summarize that soul-destroying shitshow (late 2010-mid 2015), and I finally made myself step away from it, because my mood had grown so dark. All in all, I did about 1,770 words on the introduction. There's probably only another 500 words to go to finish it.

It was a long day.

After work, Kathryn and I watched two episodes of American Experience, "The Feud" and "The Island Murder." And then there was Chinese takeout.


1:28 p.m.
Cold today, but marvelously sunny. Currently, it's 59˚F.

On this day in 2004, Spooky and I decided to remain permanently on Daylight Savings Time, because I do better with longer days. We originally dubbed it "Caitlín Stabilizing Time" but have since adopted the phrase "Caitlín Standard Time." That was fifteen years ago! It was a wise decision, and I don't make too many of those.

Today, Spooky read aloud to me all of "Refugees," which took her about two hours. Then I typed in the "last" round of corrections, which took another hour, and then I mailed it away to Subterranean Press. That's three very long Dancy short stories (or *cough cough* "novelettes") since sometime in May, and, as I told Bill Schafer today, that's really one Dancy story too many in so short a time. I'm putting her away now for the foreseeable future.

Subscribers to Sirenia Digest, please note that #165 (October 2019) will be late, but the good news it will include "Refugees." I'll put the issue together tomorrow and send it to Gordon to be PDF'd, and then Spooky will get it out to you ASAP.

Today, there was email with France (foreign rights on a short story), Italy (an Italian-language collection), and Russia (the interview, to which I have agreed to do, and this will, by the way, be my first interview since January 2018). After the writing and the email, I read "Re-characterization of Tylosaurus nepaeolicus (Cope, 1974) and Tylosaurus kansasensis Everhart, 2005: Ontogeny or sympatry?" and "Allometric growth in the skull of Tylosaurus proriger (Squamata: Mosasauridae) and its taxonomic implications."

Before dinner, Spooky and I watched an episode of Nova, "Rise of the Mammals," and an episode of American Experience, "The Swamp."

That was today. And I leave you with a photograph of our belated pumpkin.


5:32 p.m. (yesterday)

Lydia and the Surrogate Effington

A cold day, after a frigid night. When I got up at 7 a.m., we were in the low thirties ˚F, with the windchill in the twenties. A few weeks ago, we were still dealing with a month-long heatwave. Tonight, we have another freeze warning, and it's currently 39˚F.

Today, I spent another two hours on the line edits for "Refugees," and I did at least manage to finish that. Tomorrow, we read through the whole story. We were going to do that today, but Spooky was still icky from the migraine, and I need to hear it. Also, email to Merrilee, Subterranean Press, and Borderlands Press. And I think I'm about to agree to give a Russian website an interview. It will be my first interview in a long time.

I read a paper on tylosaurine ontogeny.

Spooky carved our jack-o'-lantern this afternoon, because it's better late than never.

And here it is November.

Later Taters,

12:29 p.m.

Boo ( ! ) 2019

The cold arrived today, on the heels of heavy rain. The temperature fell all day, and it's now 37˚F, with the windchill at 33˚F. We have a freeze warning.

After only four hours sleep last night, I spent the day at McWane and managed to finish with that cervical vertebra and get started (and make some good progress) on the right quadrate of Winifred*/"Toby". Quadrates are much more exciting than are cervical vertebrae. Take my word for it. I needed another tylosaurine quadrate for reference today, and I tracked down one in the McWane collection that was found by Jada waaaaay back in March 1983**, during one of the Explorer Post 272 trips. In fact, it was found on the very same day as and not far from the same set of chalk gullies where we found Winifred. These reunions just will not stop feeling weird and bittersweet.

I came home to discover the postman had delivered my contributor's copies of The Little Yellow Book of Fever Dreams, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

We didn't make it out to Leeds, because Kathryn's migraine had her not wanting to drive after dark. So, we stayed in and watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), the last episode of Season Two of Dark, and then the original Ghostbusters (1984), after an LJ entry by setsuled put me in the mood for it. We've had worse Halloweens.

Later Spooktaters,

4:05 p.m.

* RMM 3391
** RMM 1574

Just squeaking through....

A very, very rainy day, but warm. Cold is coming, though. Currently, it's 72˚F.

I managed to get in four hours at McWane today. But I couldn't focus on the work, and headed home early. I'm going back tomorrow, and then we're heading out to Leeds for Halloween chili at Mom's, and on Friday I am going to manage, somehow, to finally be done with "Refugees." I have spent much too long on this damn story.

Mostly today I worked on that same cervical vertebra (there's a photo, below).

I forgot to mention seeing Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes in Craig Brewer's very funny and very (oddly) charming Dolemite Is My Name (2019), and that was days and days ago.


1:29 p.m.

"..and I served on the Danville train."

The rain and clouds are back. Currently, it's 54˚F, with a windchill of 52˚F.

I'm going to try to do a quick catch-up entry, because in years to come, I might be sorry for the gap. But, mostly, it comes down to TV and movies and such. There has been precious little else. I've fallen back into that old trap of rarely leaving the house, except for my days at McWane. Anyway...we're watching the German series Dark (2017, 2019), which is, for the most part, really, really good, and I recommend it almost without reservation. And last night was the series finale of HBO's The Deuce (2017-2019). It was just absolutely perfect, that last episode, down to the final frame, and it captured the sensation of constant haunting that I feel these days whenever we drive through Birmingham, the bleeding together of now and then until it's hard to tell where the one begins and the other lets off. Oh, and Blondie's cover of "Sidewalks of New York." If you have not begun watching The Deuce, you need to try and watch it as you would a movie. Wait until you can spend several consecutive nights on it, and watch the episodes as close together as possible. Because it really is a very long film, not a TV series in an traditional sense.

I'm still fighting my way through the edits on "Refugees."

But, truthfully, I'm having trouble focusing on much of anything that requires mental clarity. I'll leave you with a photograph of the sky.

Oh, and please have a look at the current eBay auctions.


12:02 p.m. (yesterday)
Finally a sunny morning. Currently, it's 56˚F.

Dark days here, and I'm not going to try to do much with the LJ right now. I just do not presently have it in me. I'll try to get back on the horse sometime in the next few days. I feel like I'll be doing good to manage photographs.

I will repost this: Dark Regions Press is now taking preorders for La Belle Fleur Sauvage, my "womb plague" novella. Please note that while there are four novellas in this series, I'm only writing the first of them. I think the page might be a little vague on that point.

And please have a look at the current eBay auctions.


1:09 p.m. (yesterday)

"I don't feel it till it hurts sometimes."

A rainy autumn day, though if I didn't know it was only 59˚F out, I'd swear, from the green, that it's still summer.

I am struggling, lately, and really for the last few years, against a tremendous absence of forward momentum. I should write a lot more about this, as it affects everything around me, and perhaps I will try to do that soon.

No McWane yesterday, because I woke with a pounding headache, and the last thing I can do with a migraine is handle fragile fossil bones. Instead, I tried to work on "Refugees," because, apparently, it's smart to try and edit a story I'm already having trouble with when I have a migraine. I only made it through two sections, though before the pain won (there are currently eight sections). I hope to at least finish this second read through today. Then I have to make the first round of line edits before Spooky reads it aloud to me again, before the second round of line edits. I have to finish with this story this weekend, if only because I am growing weary of the thing, and my weariness will hurt it.

After I gave up on proofreading, we picked up two boxes from the post office. Jada is sending me a lot of her spare copies of my books and comics, for eBay and the Brown collection, and there are a few gems in the mix. Yesterday's two boxes yielded such rarities as an ARC of Wrong Things (2001), and one copy each of the horrid second edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder (Meisha Merlin, 2002) with the cover* that looks like something painted on the side of a '70s shaggin' wagon (children, ask your grandparents), Candles for Elizabeth (1998), and Aberrations (No. 27, March 1995, my first published story). My hatred for that edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder is famous. I would only agree to sign copies at conventions if I was allowed to first tear off the cover. I apparently threw out all my contributors copies. I was amazed to discover Jada had kept one. Anyway, it may be one of my rarest books. There's not one with my papers at the John Hay Library (and they have pretty much everything). It's hard to decide whether they should get this one, or if I should hang onto it, or if we should auction it for an absurd price on eBay.

I am not well this morning, though at least it's not a headache.

Last night, we rewatched all but one episode of Season One of Fleabag (2016), before watching Season Two. The show is every bit as brilliant and hilarious as I remember.

Spooky says she's made the last of this year's Halloween ornaments, so what's in the Etsy shop right now is all there's gonna be until September 2020. And she'll be taking down whatever doesn't sell after October 31st, so consider yourselves forewarned.

Later Taters,

11:27 a.m.

* Cover art by Naoto Hattori (who's actually a good artist, so I don't know what went so very fucking wrong here).

"...and it makes a fiery ring."

A cool, sunny autumn morning, though the trees are mostly still green. Currently, it's 62˚F.

On Tuesday, Spooky and I were still feeling crappy from our flu shots, but we made it to a matinée of Ruben Fleischer's Zombieland: Double Tap. We loved the original Zombieland (2009), and maybe our expectations prevented us from enjoying the new film as much as we might have otherwise. But I think a lot of what worked about the first film was it's freshness, that it was an unexpected thing. To me, anyway. There's very little, if anything, unexpected in the sequel. It's not that there aren't some funny bits. There are. But the whole falls short. The stuff with Bill Murray, hidden in the credits, that's gold, though.

Tuesday night we watched the first episode of HBO's Watchmen, and I was profoundly unimpressed. But we followed it with The Deuce, the next to last episode of the entire series, and that was beautiful and terrible and brutally sad. The final episode is next Monday night.

Yesterday was a McWane day, and an especially good one. But if you've ever wondered how long it takes to prepare those fossil skeletons you see on display in museums, how long it takes to get them out of the rock, well...yesterday I spent five hours on a single cervical (neck) vertebra, and I'm going back this afternoon to finish it (I hope). Likely, there's another three or four hours to be devoted to that one bone. All told, the bone will likely take nine hours to prepare. Now, mosasaus have seven cervical vertebrae, so...let's say it takes about 63 hours just to prep the neck out of the chalk, between manual and acid prep. Except, it actually takes longer, because each vertebra has two accompanying cervical ribs, and...you see where this is headed. By the way, tylosaurine mosasaurs have about 124 vertebrae, total, neck to tip of tail. Anyway, yesterday's best prep moment was discovering there was a very large (thumb-sized) tylosaur tooth embedded in the chalk next to the cervical. I'm not yet sure (and may never be) if this is simply a tooth from Winifred/"Toby", or if possibly it's from another Tylosaurus that was scavenging the carcass. We do know that tylosaurines were cannibalistic. To me, the tooth I found yesterday seems a little large to belong to Winifred.

Anyway, before I can get to the lab today, I have to work some more editing "Refugees," which seems to need a good bit more work than I first thought. Or I've lost perspective with the story. I'm not certain which.

Also, Dark Regions Press is now taking preorders for La Belle Fleur Sauvage, my "womb plague" novella. Please note that while there are four novellas in this series, I'm only writing the first of them. I think the page might be a little vague on that point.

Last night, we finished Season Five of Peaky Blinders, and it's surely the best season yet, which is saying a lot.

And I have this, which I posted to Facebook yesterday:

I'm not even gonna get started about the idiots who are calling Miley Cyrus homophobic. I mean, why calling Cyrus homophobic makes them idiots. But I *will* say that some of us actually find the use of "hillbilly" as a slur, an *ethnic* slur, plenty offensive. I am a hillbilly from the southern Appalachians, and I am *proud* that I'm a hillbilly. So, the people who are lacing their attacks on Cyrus with words like "hillbilly" and saying shit like "What do you expect from a Southerner?" *Those* people? Well, they're bigots, the very thing they claim to hate.

Later Taters,

3:02 p.m. (yesterday)
A sunny autumn day today. Currently, it's 59˚F.

Spooky and I have been a little under the weather from our flu shots, and I've not finished the edits on "Refugees." Tomorrow is McWane, and hopefully I'll feel up to that, because I need it.

Anyway, mostly this is a post to say this isn't a real post.


11:41 a.m.
A foggy, overcast start to the day, but the sun returned late in the morning, and it was a fine looking afternoon. Currently, it's 67˚F.

Today, after we got our flu shots at Walgreens, we read through "Refugees," start to finish. It's the first time I'd gotten the whole thing like that, and Spooky reads better than I do, so I had her read it aloud. To my relief, the opening scene works, and the story's actually pretty good. I need to do a little rewriting on the ending, because, as I'd feared, it's rushed. So, really I'm not so much rewriting as expanding. Because, kiddos, as you know, this bear don't rewrite.

Oh, and don't be an asshole. Get your fucking flu shot, unless there's a damn good reason you can't. Herd immunity saves lives.

Last night, we observed the 25th anniversary of Pulp Fiction by watching it again. The anniversary was actually the 14th, but whatever. It is amazing how the film holds up, and it's as brilliant as the summer of its release, when I saw it nine times in the theater. I was only thirty years old and hardly more than a child.

Spooky says she's made the last of this year's Halloween ornaments, so what's in the Etsy shop right now is all there's gonna be until September 2020. And she'll be taking down whatever doesn't sell after October 31st, so consider yourselves forewarned.

Later Taters,

10:08 a.m.

Woman Vs. Nature

I woke about 7 a.m. to a hard rain. Now, it's only overcast. The temperature is currently 60˚F.

Today is that Day Off I mentioned a couple of days ago. Tomorrow, it's back to Dancy.

Two movies for Kid Night last night, two movies that pitted kick-ass female protagonists against monstrous manifestations of the animal kingdom. The first, Alexandre Aja's Crawl (2019), was an entirely fun romp of a film, but the second, Jaume Collet-Serra's The Shallows (2016), was a genuinely impressive film, beautifully filmed. I recommend both, but most especially the latter, especially if sharks freak you out.

I leave you with Vincent Price, courtesy my Aunt Ramey.

Later Taters,

1:25 p.m. (yesterday)

Kid Night!

So, mostly overcast and chilly today. Currently, it's 63˚F.

I know I was supposed to do proofreading and editing "Refugees" today, but last night I looked at the mountain of dirty clothes, said fuck it, and we spent the day my mom's in Leeds, washing clothes. That was pretty much today.

I did watch a Nova when we got home about bridge collapse.

Last night, we did not manage to finish Season Four of Peaky Blinders, because we were both too sleepy. I actually slept eight hours night. I average 5-6/night, so that was kinda amazing.

Tonight, we are reinstating Kid Night as a weekly ritual. Booya. Pizza and monster movies. In that spirit, I leave you with octopus vs. spider.

Later Taters,

10:33 a.m.

How much drain would a woodchuck clog....?

A cool, sunny day here in Birmingham, autumnal air, though the trees are still green. Our high was 67˚F. Currently, it's 67˚F.

When I got home from McWane, I opened my windows and aired-out the office.

And speaking of McWane, it was a good, if hectic prep day with Winifred the Tylosaur. Mostly, I worked on cervical ribs, fragments of cervical vertebrae, portions of a pterygoid bone (including associated teeth), isolated teeth, and thoracic ribs. I was on power-prep mode today. And there was 2% formic acid baths. And I found a tiny phyrangeal tooth from a pycnodontid fish, Hadrodus sp., in some of the matrix clinging to a pterygoid fragment. All sorts of little critters get buried with a big animals like Tylosaurus proriger. And that's all the McWane I get until next Wednesday.

Not enough sleep last night, because my damn rotten feet were keeping me awake, and I am exhausted. I have to be bright and shiny tomorrow, to proofread and begin editing "Refugees."

Spooky is trying to persuade me to write a children's book about Toby the Tylosaur, a cautionary tale against fossils that get hoarded in garages insstead of deposited in collections, and she's just about persuaded me. I'm gonna talk with my agent about it. It would be sorta ages 5-10, something like that.

Last night, after more hot dogs (yes, Jules, more hot dogs), we finished Season Three of Peaky Blinders, then began Season Four. This afternoon after the museum, I watched the Nova episode on the discovery of Patagotitan, "Raising the Dinosaur Giant," but I was in the mood to see it again.

Later Tylotaters,

3:18 p.m.
The sun came back today, and cooler temperatures. Currently, it's 61˚F.

Toady was McWane, but it was a short MCWane day. Tomorrow, I get a full McWane day. Then of Friday I have to proofread and edit "Refugees" (this will likely spill over into Sunday), and Saturday will be a OFF day. I didn't have much time for prep at the museum today. I had to go over some stuff about localities and collecting and Winifred's checkered past, and that ate up a lot of time. I'm hoping that one day next week Spooky and I cane actually get in some time in the field, out under the Black Belt sky. Today I glued my left index finger to a cervical rib, but that's why I keep the acetone handy.

Toady, Spooky mailed a thousand signature sheets for the German edition of The Drowning Girl back to Germany.

Oh, and Bill at Subterranean Press informed me this ayem that he's down to only 17 copies of the SubPress edition of Houses Under the Sea: Mythos Tales. He might still have a couple, if you hurry.

Yesterday, I watched an episode of Nature was was, essentially, on the futility of trying to eradicate Burmese pythons from southern Florida. And there were hot dogs for dinner, and then we watched the newest episode of The Deuce, then finished Season Two of Peaky Blinders and started Season Three.


Pleased to see that Nick Cave and I share the same low opinion of Antifa and "woke" culture and for the same reasons"

Antifa and the Far Right, for example, with their routine street fights, role-playing and dress-ups are participants in a weirdly erotic, violent and mutually self-sustaining marriage, propped up entirely by the blind, inflexible convictions of each other’s belief systems. ~ Nick Cave

Later Tater Tots,

4:04 p.m.
Another overcast rainy day, the fourth in a row. There was, early this morning, very briefly a shaft of sunlight, and for a few seconds it helped my mood. But then it was gone again. Currently, it's 69˚F.

Today, I wrote 1,903 words on "Refugees," and afterwards I typed THE END and added a dedication. But I felt like I was stumbling over the finish line. We're going to read through the whole story on Friday (the first chance I'll have), and I fear I may have to pull that last scene completely apart, the stuff I wrote today, and do an actual rewrite. Right now, the story stands at 10,843 words. The contract called for it to be at least 10k. By the way, this is the story for the free chapbook accompanying Comes a Pale Rider, the new Dancy collection forthcoming from Subterranean Press in 2020. Someday, I hope, there will finally be a single definitive text that includes every single Dancy Flammarion story, with no orphans stranded in chapbooks.

I still need to email Jonathan Strahan.

Yesterday, an episode of Nature on feline evolution, "The Story of Cats: Asia to Africa" (it really wasn't very good). After dinner from Greenwise, we finished Season Two of Peaky Blinders and began Season Three.

Spooky says she's made the last of this year's Halloween ornaments, so what's in the Etsy shop right now is all there's gonna be until September 2020. And she'll be taking down whatever doesn't sell after October 31st, so consider yourselves forewarned.

This afternoon, I left the house for the first time since I got home from McWane last Wednesday, but just long enough to get this really dismal photograph. Knock yourselves out.


1:15 p.m.
Another overcast day, mostly, only a little sun shining through now and then, and there's rain on the way for tonight. Currently, it's 66˚F.

Today, I wrote 1,301 words on "Refugees." I'll finish the story tomorrow.

The signature sheets for A Little Yellow Book of Fever Dreams have gone away to Pennsylvania via UPS, and I am glad to be rid of the things.

Yesterday afternoon, an episode of Nature about crocodiles, and then there was more of the Peaky Blinders rewatch after dinner. We're almost done with Season Two. Oh, and there was another "amber alert" alarm to scare the shit out of us, this one on Spooky's phone as we were watching TV. So, now notifications have been turned off on both phones.

Spooky says she's made the last of this year's Halloween ornaments, so what's in the Etsy shop right now is all there's gonna be until September 2020. And she'll be taking down whatever doesn't sell after October 31st, so consider yourselves forewarned.


11:56 a.m.
Overcast and shitty today. Not actually raining, just that ugly blue-grey smear. Currently, it's 67˚F. We are told the sun will come back tomorrow.

Today, I did 1,321 words on "Refugees." And then I signed my name 600 times and got through the signature sheets for A Little Yellow Book of Days. Tomorrow, the signatures sheets, which came to me from Benson, Maryland get sent away to Landisville, Pennsylvania.

Last night, as I was trying to get to sleep (Kathryn was already asleep), there was an earsplitting siren of some sort that scared the holy fucking shit out of me. Turns out, it was an "amber alert" on the goddamn iPhone. Today, we shut off the notification feature, so at least that won't ever happen again. I might have slept five hours.

We were supposed to go out to my mother's in Leeds this afternoon, but I'm too tired and too angry and it's just going to have to wait. Fuck the laundry.

Yesterday afternoon, after the writing, we watched another episode of Nature, "Attenborough and the Sea Dragon." Last night, we splurged and had burgers from Five Guys, then finished the rewatch of Season One of Peaky Blinders.

Spooky says she's made the last of this year's Halloween ornaments, so what's in the Etsy shop right now is all there's gonna be until September 2020. And she'll be taking down whatever doesn't sell after October 31st, so consider yourselves forewarned.


12:25 p.m.
Overcast today. Currently, it's only 61˚F.

This morning, I wrote another 1,727 words on "Refugees." It is now realistic to think I'll finish the story on "Monday." And I'm sitting here waiting on the postman to bring the replacement signature sheets for A Little Yellow Book of Fever Dreams.

I have also seen a mock-up for the cover of The Tindalos Asset.

Yesterday afternoon, after I'd written and done some paleo' work, Spooky and I watched an episode of Nova ("The Day the Dinosaurs Died") and an episode of Nature ("Octopus: Making Contact"). After a dinner of leftover chicken and taters, we watched Vince Gilligan's El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, and it really, truly was very, very good. Sadly, we followed it with Brad Anderson's Fractured, an ass-backwards, somewhat inverted retread of Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934, 1956). Sometimes, you just gotta know when to stop.

And Robert Forster has died. He had a part in El Camino, but I will remember him for many other roles.

Spooky says she's made the last of this year's Halloween ornaments, so what's in the Etsy shop right now is all there's gonna be until September 2020. And she'll be taking down whatever doesn't sell after October 31st, so consider yourselves forewarned.


12:16 p.m.

"It's a Man Ray kind of sky."

Sunny today. Currently, it's 81˚F.

This morning, I wrote a whopping 1,747 words on "Refugees." I'm daring to hope I can finish this story on Tuesday. But I didn't sign the signature sheets for A Little Yellow Book of Fever Dreams yesterday, because when I opened the box I discovered my name was misspelled – Caitlyn. I have always considered this just about the most odious corruption of Caitlín. Well, no. Kaitlyn is even worse. Anyway, Borderlands has had to scramble to get new pages printed and in the mail to me so that we can, hopefully, not miss the pub date. With luck, I'll have the sheets tomorrow and then ship them back via UPS on Monday (despite Columbus Day). Argh.

Otherwise, I watched two episodes of Nova, one on the Cassini spacecraft and another on wildfires, and there was Dreamland chicken, and then more Peaky Blinders until bed.


11:20 p.m. (last night)

Ogres on Lauderdale Street

Mostly cloudy today. Currently, it's 77˚F, with the heat index at 79˚F.

This morning, I wrote 1,510 words on "Refugees," which will probably comes as a relief to Bill Schafer. I know it comes as a relief to me. Now, I have a stack of signature sheets to attend to, for my Borderland Press collection, A Little Yellow Book of Fever Dreams, which I believe I was told has already sold out. It's supposed to be published on October 21st (and the signature sheets still aren't signed).

Last night, after spaghetti, Spooky and I watched the new episode of The Connors (with Dan Ackroyd!) and then Luc Besson's ANИA (2019), which I loved and think is definitely his best film since Lucy (2014). Even if it is pretty much a lighter-weight Atomic Blonde, with a whole lot of La Femme Nikita tossed in. Afterwards, we started Peaky Blinders over at the first episode of Season One, because we were both having trouble following the new season and needed a refresher.

Spooky is fighting the tax monster, and that's never a pretty sight. But she's also got Dreamland chicken and taters in the crock pot, and that's a pretty sight, indeed.

Later Taters,

10:14 a.m. (day before yesterday)

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