Ron the Lucky Mosasaur

Hot yesterday. Our high was apparently only 94˚F, but Kathryn told me to heat index reached something like 103˚F. Clouds late.

I did not get Sirenia Digest 173 (May 2020) out today, with the new story "Untitled 46," because I got caught up in other stuff, and I was on the phone for an hour and a half with Mike Polcyn at SMSU in Dallas, talking mosasaurs. Oh, and a call with Jun Ebersole at McWane earlier in the day. I swear, I've used the phone more in the past week than I have in the past three years. It was a very busy day, just not writing busy. I have to become a still better juggler.

The next year of my likely will be the busiest since at least 2011-2012. This is a good thing.

But tomorrow I will get the digest put together, and hopefully subscribers will have it tomorrow or Wedesday.

By the way, if you ordered The Variegated Alphabet from Subterranean Press and still have not received your copy, I've heard there was some sort of snafu at the printer, so that would be why. But they'll be along very soon now. If you haven't ordered, I'm sorry, but the book is now sold out; the early bird and all that.

I think I may again read Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1995). I don't think there's ever been an age that needs that book like we all need it right now. At least not since, fuck, maybe before the goddamn Age of Enlightenment began, so ferociously is the internet connecting idiots and spreading their know-nothing gospel of conspiracy theories, science denial, xenophobia, and religious fundamentalism.

Last night, no Mulder and Scully, no Sheldon Cooper. Last night we watched almost all of Season Two of Flack, which is even better than Season One. We have only a single episode to go, because we are binge-watching piggies. Oink.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

10:16 p.m.

"Beauty in the Beakdown"

Sunny and hot today. Our high was 93˚F, and the heat index must have pushed 100˚F.

I managed to get through the line edits on "Untitled 46" today. Tomorrow I hope to get an issue of Sirenia Digest out to subscribers. There's suddenly so much work, I can't go falling behind.

Today, sorta halfheartedly straightening the living room, I discovered at really attractive book – two copies actually – called Lovecraft Mythos: New and Classic Collection (Flame Tree Publishing, 2020; UK). And between pp. 172 and 182 my story "Black Ships Seen South of Heaven" in reprinted in the book. And I sorta, vaguely remember this sale. My guess is these contributor's copies came in the autumn and winter, when we were deep in lockdown and we were putting all our mail in quarantine for a week or so, and they were simply forgotten.

I find myself not much in the mood for blogging. Mostly, I'm tired and it's late, and well, it wasn't really a day to write home about. Sure, I've had worst Sundays.

Re-watching The X-Files and The Big Bang Theory continues. Last night, the former was "Ghost in the Machine" (S1:E7), a more than a little silly thing about a killer AI. Basically, thirty years later, AI's way fucking scarier than Chris Carter dared imagine. If only our nightmares could be allayed by a diskette with a hastily written virus. And with TBBT we're into Season 6. Again. But Berni is the cutest Smurfette ever there was.

I leave you with chicken nuggets stamped into the shape of...dinosaurs. Oh, the irony.

Aunt Beast

9:02 p.m.

Science Is My Copilot

Not a bad day. The sun came back, and it got very warm. We had a high of 91˚F. At one point I checked the heat index, and it was 98˚F.

I only slept about four hours.

Spooky went to Record Store Day and stood in the broiling line with the other music nerds. Dogfish Head was handing out free beer.

This morning, I did 1,067 words and finished "Untitled 46." And, by the way, here's how the digest is gonna work this summer, because I have to a) write a novel and b) work of three different paleo' papers. There are still two unaccounted for issues from last year, because of the many months I spent unable to write. "Untitled 46" will be used for the missing Sirenia Digest 173 (June 2020). Which, by the way, will leave only May 2020 left to fill the gap. This summer's three issues will consist of excerpts from the novel in progress. It's being written for Subterranean Press, and Bill Schafer was kind enough to permit me to do this.Yes, in case you have not heard, my next two novels will be released by SubPress; I ma done with NYC publishing for the foreseeable future. But, anyway, I hope you enjoy to excerpts, little appértifs, tastes of what is to come, because there is only so much of me to go around.

Something I posted to Twitter this afternoon: Tyrannical, despotic Putin praises Trump, and, in a sane world, that would be that. All she wrote. The literal kiss of Death. We wouldn't see another Republican president for at *least* another decade. But remember, this is Bizarro World. This is the Upside Down.

Last night's episode of The X-Files was the underwhelming "Shadows," and night before last was the equally underwhelming "The Jersey Devil." I will be glad when we are free of Season One (though it still has a few gems in store).

Did I mention Spooky's upcoming birthday? Are her Amazon wishlist?

Later X-Taters,
Aunt Beast

8:57 a.m.
house of leaves

VA vs. TVA

And no, that's not Virginia vs. the Tennessee Valley Authority. We'll get back to what it actually is.

Today, rain and clouds and a high of 78˚F.

Today was not as productive as yesterday, but neither was it a total loss. This morning, I did 772 words on "Untitled 46." I wrote Vince Locke about illustrations for Vile Affections. I did other stuff. Stuff was done. But the big thing that was supposed to get done today was me going through all the line edits for Vile Affections that the production manager at Subterranean Press wanted me to look at (she's usually right, catching my mistakes). The box has been sitting here for about two weeks, waiting for me to get to it. But when I finally did, when Kathryn and I sat down to get to work on the thing, we realize that they were the production notes for The Variegated Alphabet, not for Vile Affections. It's actually not hard to see how this happened: The Variegated Alphabet (TVA) and Vile Affections (VA). And, anyway, what the fuck were the odds I'd do two books whose titles can be abbreviated as TA in the very same year? I'd guess somewhere to the right of the decimal point. Anyway, I wrote SubPress, and the correct sheets are being sent (I have to work from hard copies, and I can't print spreadsheets). But it did throw yesterday into sort of a tailspin.

Most of it is actually sort of a smudge.

Oh, I did hear the most recent VNV Nation album (Noire, 2018) for the first time today. I stopped following them for many years (sometime after 2009's Of Faith, Power, and Glory) and started again just recently. Noire is possibly Ronan Harris' most impressive accomplish yet, in part because it's less weighed down by the old trademark VNV naïf, in part because the lyrics are – mostly – less clumsy and blunt, and in part because he does melodic better than ever before, especially on "Nocturne No. 7." I will quote Annika Autzen from Synthpop Magazine: "Ronan Harris’ melancholic and calm voice leads the listener through very dark places, where opposing forces such as light and darkness, peace and war, life and death, love and hate are intertwined in an eternal conflict. The religious implications in the lyrics add to this somber atmosphere and make listening to the 13 songs an almost transcendental experience." That's fair.

In all things, the willingness and ability to compromise is the key to success. I want to go back to 1980 and teach that to my obstinate 16-year-old self. ~ Me

Last night, Kathryn and I got pizza from a new place in Mountain Brook, Post Office Pies, and it's the best pizza we've had since leaving Providence. And then we watched Czech filmmaker Karel Zeman's Cesta do pravěku (1955). This film has been something of a holy grail for me since I was a teenager, and I'd only ever seen stills from it in Donald F. Glut's The Dinosaur Scrapbook (1980). To quote Wikipedia, "The story involves four teenage friends who take a rowboat along a 'river of time' that flows into a mysterious cave and emerges on the other side onto a strange, primeval landscape." It's a surreal, beautiful film, presented much like a 1950's wildlife documentary. We see a dizzying variety of extant and prehistoric beasts, some of which had never appeared in film before Cesta do pravěku, including Uintatherium, woolly rhinos, and Phorusrhacos. Many of the creatures designs were based directly on the work of Czech paleoartist Zdeněk Burian (1905-1981). There's a marvelous sequence in a Carboniferous-age coal swamp. Anyway, Criterion picked it up, remastered it, and we immediately ordered their edition, packaged with two other Zeman films in a gorgeous box set that includes a pop-up woolly mammoth. In America, Cesta do pravěku was retitled Journey to the Beginning of Time (1966), with a weird dream sequence tacked onto the beginning and the ending (including some very odd religious crap), and the film was saddled with ponderous dubbing by child actors who sound like the cast of Leave It To Beaver. But you can currently see Cesta do pravěku in it original glory on the Criterion Channel, and I recommend it.

That was last night.

Remember, just 12 more days until Spooky's birthday. There's still time to hit her wishlist at Amazon!

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

11:22 p.m.

Busy Beaver

The rain seems like it's going to be with us until Sunday. Much of today, we remained under a flash-flood watch. The high was a paltry 82˚F.

A shockingly productive day.

This morning, I did 1,022 words on "Untitled 46," which I began last Wednesday, then sat aside.I should be finished with it by Saturday afternoon, I reckon. There was a flurry of paleo'-related communication, scheduling a Zoom call for the 28th between myself, a paleontologist at the American Museum, and one in Dallas. This will be my second Zoom call ever. I had a look at the Vile Affections galleys, though I didn't really get started on them. I finally got back to Vince Locke, which I need to do again tomorrow. I talked with Rebecca Eskildsen at Writers House about someone in the UK who wants to reprint “Galapagos” in a book about Irish genre fiction (I agreed to the terms). I wrote Jun Ebersole at the McWane Center (I go back to work there early in July, at long last). I did a cursory examination of the latest Pleistocene sample; there's a lot of a large armadillo in it. Basically, if I could have a day like this everyday for the next two months, I might catch up.

It was a good day.

I did allow myself to vent a little on Twitter. To wit:

Was a time in America when, more often than not, we pulled together & did what was right. It's how we beat polio, how we helped defeat the Nazis. It's how Nixon was removed from office. We were a functional collective, not a nation of whining idiots declaring "you can't make me."

~ and ~

Pretty much every time I say something like, "Hey, dumb ass. Yeah, you. Please stop buying this bullshit, whackadoo, anti-vaxer conspiracy-theory nonsense and get your damn COVID vaccination," about 10 people "unfriend" me w/in an hr. I wear these losses like a badge of honor.

The 24th is Spooky's birthday, she who greases the axis on which my world dost spin. Please have a look at her Amazon wishlist. Thank you.

Aunt Beast

11:10 a.m.

"...and the wind, it cries Mary."

Another rainy day. Monotony is setting in. We were under a flash flood watch for much of the day. As you can see from the photo below, it was not an idle threat. The high was only 71˚F (!).

There was a time in America when, more often than not, we pulled together and did what was right. It's how we beat polio. It's how we helped defeat the Nazis. It's how Nixon was removed from office. This is not some idle Greatest Generation/Baby Boomer wishful-thinking myth. We were a functional collective, not a nation of whining idiots declaring "you can't make me."

No real work yesterday. The weather drags me down. A nice royalty check came, and we can always use those. I stared at the galleys for Vile Affections and the stared back at me. I talked with Spooky about the novel I'm about to start. I pulled a new Pleistocene sample from the Lane cabinet to begin work on soon. Today, there has to be realwork. I will not be like the QAnon-Trumper idiots and wait until someone has to try and force me to do what is right.

Sorry. I'm so mad at those assholes right now...

Last night's episode of The X-Files was "Squeeze," introducing the awesomely creepy Eugene Tooms (who shows up again later in the first season).

Aunt Beast (who's gonna get some shit done, and screw depression, and screw this rain)

4:11 p.m.

"Close up on temptation..."

A very good day, and a remarkable day, that I actually cannot got into any real detail about. The weather, well, it was blah. We did get some sun, but also some thunder and lightning, and the high was only 76˚F. Providence is having highs in the 90˚F, and down here it feels like April.

I spent two and a half hours in a delightful conversation with Mike Polcyn at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Mike is a paleontologist who specializes in mosasaurs, and it has been a very long time since I had such an enjoyable talk. It would have gone on longer, but the battery in my phone was going. Anyway, good things are coming of this, and I will talk about them when I may.

Spooky and are still doing our re-watch on The Big Bang Theory, but we've decided to couple it with a re-watch of The X-Files. Tonight we watched the pilot and second episode (both 1993). Mulder and Scully were such babies, and it made me so nostalgic for the nineties, there at the end of my century.

As I said on Twitter (@auntbeast) yesterday, do not ever say that a taxon is the "Nanotyrannus" of X (where X = any other taxon), because you will surely come to regret it.

So, yeah. It was a good day. Thank you, universe.

Have I mentioned that her birthday is the 24th? Here's a link to her Amazon wishlist, and, remember: She doesn't just have to put up with me, she's the force of Nature than keeps me writing the stories that you read.

Oh, and she plays really weird games, like the one in the photo below.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

11:54 a.m.

"They could take or leave you. So they took you, and they left you."

Another cloudy, stormy day. Another day of miserable weather, and we only made it to 76˚F.

I tried to work, but I got very little done.

I do not know if I'm sick, or if I'm just sick of the world. We have a world of 24/7/365 manufactured outrage, and it has broken so much of me, the constant barrage. COVID-19 and what it has done has broken so much of me.

I was saying to someone today how I grew up during the Cold War, with the omnipresent specter of nuclear apocalypse. Somehow, what is happening in America now is far worse. I long for the seventies and the eighties, when all I feared was fire. It would have been a more merciful ending. It certainly would have been a cleaner ending.

I have utterly blown the feedback I'm supposed to be giving Vince Locke on the illustrations for Vile Affections, and I want to publicly apologize to him. Most days, I'm almost too depressed to get out of bed (but only almost, because inactivity would be the very end of me), and I'm letting a lot of important stuff fall by the wayside.

Enough of this. Have some sloth poop. Sloth poop sorta sums up the day. Candy-coated sloth poop.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

2:07 p.m.
Cordon C3

Plesiopedal vs. Hydropedal

Today was not a bad sort of day, though it was overcast all day and rainy. There was thunder towards dusk. Our high was a somewhat measly 74˚F.

The first part of the day was spent dealing with all the many line edits and continuity issues in "Strandlings." When I was done, I sent it away to Ellen Datlow, the editor for whom I wrote the story.

The rest of the work day went to re-reading various mosasaur papers, including bits from Dale Russell's classing Systematics and Morphology of American Mosasaurs (1967), Jim Martin's "A new species of the durophagous mosasaur, Globidens (Squamata: Mosasauridae) from the Late Cretaceous Pierre Shale Group of central South Dakota, USA" (2007), and Amelia Zietlow's "Craniofacial ontogeny in Tylosaurinae" (2020).

Here's Spooky's birthday wishlist again. Thank you.

I just realized that the galleys for Vile Affections are sitting on the floor of my office, awaiting my attention. I had forgotten them, in the rush to get From Weird and Distant Shores out the door.

Aunt Beast

10:06 p.m.

"Davenports and kettle drums and swallowtail coats..."

Today was a better day. Though is was mostly cloudy. Our high was 87˚F.

But I slept last night, which made all the difference. I passed out about 10:30 p.m., which is almost unheard of for me, and I slept a full eight hours, give or take.

All that sleepy left me a little groggy, but I did get some work done. I read back over "Strandling," the story I've written for an Ellen Datlow anthology, and I made line edits. It's a better story than I'd thought, and it is grimmer than what I usually allow myself to do (no, really).

I read "Redescription and phylogenetic assessment of 'Prognathodon stadmani': implications for Globidensini monophyly and character homology in Mosasaurinae." The paper erects a new genus, Gnathomortis ("jaws of death"), and places 'Prognathodon stadmani' in that genus.

I have not been farther from the house since July 9th, 2020 than the 1.34 miles between here and my doctor's office. That's just a month shy of a year.*

Please have a look at Spooky's wishlist on Amazon. Her birthday is impending, on the 24th, and she will be mighty grateful, as they say. Thank you.7

Aunt Beast

10:30 a.m.

* A few hours after I posted this yesterday, Kathryn ("Spooky") pointed out that when we got our COVID-19 vaccinations in Forest Park (on the other side of Red Mountain), I'd gone quite a bit farther than 1.34 miles. So, I pulled up Google Earth and checked my calculations, doctor's office is only about 1.27 miles away (I was off yesterday), and the Walgreens in Forest Park is, oddly, just about 1.34 miles from here. So, my original statement stands, so far as distance traveled is concerned, but the farthest point I've traveled from home was not to my doctor's office, but Walgreens.