Howard Hughes Rides Again

A very foggy morning, but the sun came back this afternoon. Currently, it's 42˚F.

Winter kind of waited until late January to come to Alabama this year.

Today I did more work on The Tindalos Asset, and I made it through sections four, five, and six. I spent three and a half hours of on the ms. yesterday, then almost three today. I'm going to bed early so I can get an early start tomorrow and put a large chunk of the thing behind me. Also, tomorrow is the novella's cover reveal by Just follow this link, and you'll see it beginning at 9:30 a.m. EST.

My bad right knee has been getting worse for months, and the last few weeks it has sort of become just shy of intolerable. I've discovered that Tiger Balm patches help, but I fear actual medical intervention may become necessary – after almost twenty years of neglect. By the way, my good left knee ain't exactly good, it's just not nearly as bad.

Tonight we saw the final ever episode of The Ranch, and I'm sadder about the end of the series than I thought I'd be. Season Four (parts 7 & 8) were much better than Season Three (parts 5 & 6). Gonna miss you, Bennetts.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

3:18 p.m.

Here We Go Again

I'd not intended to skip more than a full week, to make no entries for eight days. But shit happens.

I got the news on the 18th that my cousin Jack (Julius Theodore Cage, b. 1960) had died. It was his mother who died in November, my Aunt Joanne. Jack and I were very close when I was a kid and a teenager, but I'd not seen him since 2005, at my grandmother's funeral; somehow that made it all the worse.

I had a guest from Athens most of this past week, but I didn't see much of her.

I'm racing to do a final polish (with some minor text additions) to The Tindalos Asset, and I still haven't finished The Cerulean Alphabet, so the digest will be a few days late this month.

I didn't even make it into McWane this week.

Oh, yesterday I got copies of the German edition of The Drowning Girl, so that's something. And we discovered a truly brilliant series on Hulu called Reprisal. It's in the running for the best thing I have ever seen on television, and it's certainly the best since Season One of True Detective. So, there – a ray of sunshine.

We finished The Magicians through the two new episodes. And tonight we begin watching the final few episodes of The Ranch. But the last batch was so grim, following the loss of Danny Masterson, it's going to be a sad thing, I know.

I read Jack London's Call of the Wild, and I'm partway into White Fang. It's hard to believe I waited this long to read a man who surely is one of the greatest novelists in American literature. I'm also reading Mallory O'Meara's The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick. The stuff about Patrick's interesting, but the book suffers the way all biographies suffer when the author seeks to make the story as much about herself as her subject. In this case, O'Meara makes it worse by using someone else's life to advance her own political agenda.

I don't think the camera on my iPhone is long for the world. It keeps developing odd spots on the photos. They move around. They vanish. They return. But it's probably for the best.

Sick of the Shitty 21st Century,
Aunt Beast

6:59 p.m.

Fill In Your Own Blanks

A decent amount of sun today, but a little chilly. Currently, it's 57˚F.

I might have slept four and a half hours last night. Maybe.

This morning I spent three hours finishing Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel (1929)

Other than that, I was sort of a useless train wreck today. But Spooky and I saw Sam Mendes' 1917 (2019) which is brilliant and heartbreaking and beautiful and horrific, and you should see it, if you have nor already. Really, I can't heap enough praise on this film. And Roger Deakins' cinematography is simply perfect, propelling us breathless and headlong through the story even as the protagonists are propelled on their desperate quest (Deakins is the guy who won an Oscar for his work on Blade Runner 2049, by the way). It's rare that I see a film that I would not change one single instant of, but 1917 is one of those films.

And tonight we saw Troop Zero (a Netflix film), which was very, very sweet and sorta exactly what I needed after 1917. Also, Mckenna Grace is my new pick for an actress to play Dancy Flammarion. She should be ready for the part in about three or four years.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

11:17 p.m.
Western Interior Seaway

"Like a slow burn, turning us round and round and round..."

Cooler weather, but we got sun, so that kinda worked out. Currently, it's 53˚F, with the windchill at 50˚F.

A good day at McWane, though I didn't sleep well last night, and it would have been a better day if I had. First, I did a quick inventory of the gar – what's there, what's not, etc., and the answer is mostly a few hundred ganoid scales (see photo below*), along with a bunch a vertebrate and skull fragments – and then went back to work on Winifred. Most of the day was spent on the right jugal, which still needs more work. Oh, and I started breaking down matrix from the Ripley Formation exposure that Kathryn and I visited back on December 8th. With luck, there are fish otoliths in the clay, but I won't know until I dry the sediment and look under the microscope.

And tonight we watched more of The Magicians. We're into Season Four.

Aunt Beast

10:39 a.m.

* Hey, Jada. That's your handwriting on that label. The collection is full of your handwriting.
Western Interior Seaway

Back at McWane

Another rainy day, though very warm, and there was some sunlight this morning. Our high was 68˚F, and it's still 66˚F.

I was up this morning at 7 a.m. First, after breakfast there was email with Jonathan Strahan regarding flap/ad copy for The Tindalos Asset and then email with my editor and new publicist at And then I wrote the abstract to the first draft of the glytosaurine paper – finally. Now Jun's tweaking the text and working on the illustrations. Oh, and he's doing the methodology section, so I don't have to write that. And I'm already moving on to the next paper, describing a specimen of fossil alligator gar* that the Red Mountain Museum discovered and excavated in the summer of 1981. This will be the first time I have ever written a paper on fish, so I have a bit of a learning curve at the start.

Anyway, there was also talk of mosasaurs and turtles, cabbages and kings, and how to run a thirty-five year old airscribe with out getting carpal tunnel, doing further damage to my hearing, or blowing anything up. This machine is the GRS Gravermeister Gf500 the Red Mountain Museum bought in 1985. It was built in Emporia, Kansas and is a clattering, chugging testament to an age when things were still built to last. Imagine holding a tiny jackhammer like a pen, and the Gravermeister is sorta like that when it gets going. It chews through rock like hungry termites eating antique books. And sounds like the name of a metal band – Gravermeister. Anyway, I cleaned the machine a little, then worked on Winifred for a few hours – the basiocciptal and a couple of teeth. I'll be going back tomorrow.

And if I had not already fallen deepy in love with The Magicians, the "Under Pressure" musical number at the end of Season Three, Episode 9 would have won me over...and over...and over. Long live High King Margo.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

3:37 p.m.

*RMM/MSC 1892
Roy Batty

Dr. Dale A. Russell (1937-2019)

A rainy day, rainier late than early. Currently, it's 62˚F.

This morning I worked on the glyptosaur paper (yes, more), and then Kathryn and I went to the Summit to see William Eubank's Underwater (2020), a surprisingly effective claustrophobic gut-bunch of a monster movie. It's really a shame it is being ignored at the box office. It harks back to that late 1980s phenomenon of the underwater alien/monster thriller, which included such varied fare as The Abyss (1989), Deepstar Six (1989), and Leviathan (1989) – ALL THREE hailing from 1989. Underwater owes an especial debt to Deepstar Six (a far better film than a lot of people seem to think), borrowing the basic premise of an underwater drilling rig rousing monsters from submarine caverns. In the case of Underwater, the monsters are pretty much Cthulhu and a host of Deep Ones, and there's no point denying it, Mr. Eubanks. Embrace the madness. It works for you. Anyway, yeah, Kristin Stewart does a excellent job, and it was a lot of fun.

A few days ago I learned that my one-time mentor Dr. Dale A. Russell died back on December 21st. In 1967, Dr. Russell published Systematics and Morphology of American Mosasuars, which is still, fifty-three years later, a sort of bible for anyone working on these marine lizards. Russell erected such mosasaur taxa as the genus Ectenosaurus and the species Globidens dakotensis before moving on in the 1970s to spend the rest of his life working with dinosaurs. In 1971, he was one of the first paleontologists to seriously propose an extraterrestrial cause for the K-Pg extinction event, and, in 1982, when he conducted a thought experiment asking what might happen if a maniraptoran theropod dinosaur like Stenonychosaurus got as brainy as a human being and the infamous "Dinosauroid" was born. He also named several new dinosaur taxa, including Daspletosaurus (1970), Alxasasurus (1994), and Sinornithoides (1993).

In the early 1980s, Dr. Russell took me under his wing and showed me great kindness and trust and encouragement. In 1986, he got on a National Science Foundation grant (to the late Dr. Richard Estes) while I was still only an undergraduate. With Sam Shannon, I coauthored the paper describing the plioplatecarpine Selmasaurus russelli in his honor, and it was published in 1988. To this day, one of my greatest treasures is my tattered, dog-eared copy of his monograph on American mosasaurs, on the title page of which he implored me to "Carry the torch!" I last spoke with him in person at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology at Philadelphia in October 1986.

It's hard not to feel like everyone I most admired in my youth is slipping from the world.

Aunt Beast

6:59 p.m.

"And at once I knew I was not magnificent."

A cloudy day that has become a rainy night. Currently, it's 65˚F.

This morning and afternoon I worked on the glyptosaur paper and finally got a rough draft of the whole manuscript together (minus abstract and acknowledgements). Yes, I do not write fiction in drafts, but I do write scientific papers in drafts. Anyway, I also learned that will be doing the cover reveal on The Tindalos Asset very soon now, and I spoke with Jonathan Strahan about flap copy. And also had to listen to samples of the eighteen different readers who have been proposed to read for the audiobook of Two Worlds and In Between. Yes. Eighteen different readers.

And that was my day. There was more, but nothing interesting – though meatballs in marinara sauce with mashed potatoes is a truly odd, but not unpalatable, dinner.

Later Taters (mashed or otherwise),
Aunt Beast

4:26 p.m.

Before and After the Flood (the Space In Between)

Mostly sunny today, but the rain returns tomorrow. Currently, it's 57˚F.

I spent the day working on the glyptosaur paper, which should have been finished months ago. I hope to have it presentable by the time I go into McWane on Wednesday. Then on Thursday or Friday I'll go back to work on "The Cerulean Alphabet."

Oh, and I went with Spooky way the hell down 280 to get cat litter from PetCo. That was fun, let me tell you, though at least we got to see kittens and chameleons.

Back home, I watched documentaries, which, you may have noticed, I do an awful lot of these days. Blame PBS and Dinsey+. Today it was three failed Disney ventures and vulcanism.

Aunt Beast

2:03 p.m.

"We have different enemies..."

A truly astounding rainstorm today, after a windy night and a windy day. Finally the weather is calm again. Currently, it's 57˚F.

Today I wrote 1,023 words, "E is for Espionage" and "F is for Fog." And I read about late Cenozoic megafaunal extinctions and glaciation patterns, and I watched a documentary of Euro Disney/Disney Paris and another on Vikings in Foremark, England.

I have fallen so entirely in love with The Magicians. I fear I love Margo best of all.

Aunt Beast

11:05 p.m.

" see a perfect forest through so many splintered trees."

Today the clouds came back, and the rain, and storms are on their way from the Gulf.

And I wrote "C is for Changeling" and "D is for Doorway," which, together, came to 1,027 words.

I watched a documentary about the creation of Walt Disney World, Epcot, and Disney Tokyo and then another about the Tōhoku earthquake.

There were chicken pot pies for dinner. Then there was RP.

Aunt Beast

10:33 p.m.