? ?

the color of mold

Dreary weather that looks as if it will turn abysmal tomorrow, after thunderstorms last night. Overcast all day, and our high was only 65F.

And yes, I had a bad day.

Still, I began a new vignette for Sirenia Digest, "Terra Mater (Dissolve." And I made more notes for The Sun Always Shines on TV.

I tried to avoid social media.

Two documentaries today, one about Easter Island and one about James McNeill Whistler.

Please look at the GoFundMe and give if you can. Or, if you would prefer, visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop.

Last night, new episodes of The Connors and Young Sheldon, and then we watched the first half on Ripley on Netflix, the latest adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley. This one's actually quite good.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast (Dissolute)

12:05 (color for a colorless day)

"The tide's turning now."

Some sun today and no rain. Our high was a muggy 80F, with a heat index of 82F.

A busy day. Most of the morning was spent putting together Sirenia Digest 216, which has gone out to the subscribers (much thanks to Gordon D. and Spooky). And I spent an hour making more notes for The Sun Always Shines on TV. It has a skeletal sort of a plot now, and I mean to begin it on Monday. This will be a chapbook that accompanies Bright Dead Star, by the way. It is my intention to write the novella in three-weeks time, because a) I have so much else to do, b) I need to get paid, and c) I want it done before my birthday on May 26th.

Ah, more sunlight.

I wrote to Elizabeth Bear today to thank her, because she's been boosting the signal on the GoFundMe page. She wrote back, "Teeth are miserable bastards." Indeed, they are.

I feel like posting my favorite Ernest Hemingway quote about writing, so I shall: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Fucking A. If you are lucky, you bleed.

If you've not taken a look at the GoFundMe, please do. No donation is too small to be appreciated. I'm clutching at straws here, kittens. I woke yesterday morning in sheer terror, that after thirty-two years in this racket I have so little to show for so much work. To quote Mary Lee Settle, “Anyone who has a choice and doesn’t choose not to write is a fool. Don’t people know that it’s the hardest work in the world?” Anyway, I'm not whining. I'm just tired. And if you don't want to use the GoFundMe, there's the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Thank you. Lots.

We finished Fallout last night. The last episode was very good and sort of made up for some of the weaker points in the series. I was very glad to hear that the the show was renewed for a second season. The afternoon's film was Christopher Noalan's Dunkirk (2017).

Later Tater Beaans,
Aunt Beast

12:08 p.m.
Overcast most of the day. Our high was 80F.

Not much sleep, but still another fairly productive day. But also a day that was irritating as hell. Some fuckery - entirely my fault - led to my having to choose a different obscure tale for Sirenia Digest 216 (a more obscure one, as it turns out), to take the place of the unfinished "An Unknown Person of Mysterious Origin." I lost all the work I did yesterday, and I spent another two hours today reformatting the text after salvaging it from an ancient MS Word file (ca. 1998) that required all sorts of alchemy and sweet talking just to open. So, there was that. I also spent a full fucking hour listening to "The Sun Always Shines on TV," on repeat, while I made notes for the novella. I have the general plot in mind. There was email with one of my agents, and yesterday's call is rescheduled for Monday morning. Oh, and I gathered up a bunch of books I'm selling. No, not books by me.

I read "The Call of Cthulhu," because I was still in need of comfort lit. The afternoon's film was Sam Mendes' beautiful 1917 (2019).

Last night, Kathryn and I decided to have a look at Fallout, and, while far from great television, it's much better than I'd ever have expected. Plus, Walton Goggins and Kyle MacLachlan. If nothing else, it's gorgeous and the soundtrack in pretty fucking cool. The series' wry, cynical, absurdist wit does not always find its mark, but there are few enough misses that I'll keep watching.

It's not that I am unaware of current events in the world beyond my room. It's just that I am choosing not to talk about them here.

If you've not taken a look at the GoFundMe, please do. No donation is too small to be appreciated. I'm clutching at straws here, kittens. I woke yesterday morning in sheer terror, that after thirty-two years in this racket I have so little to show for so much work. To quote Mary Lee Settle, “Anyone who has a choice and doesn’t choose not to write is a fool. Don’t people know that it’s the hardest work in the world?” Anyway, I'm not whining. I'm just tired. And if you don't want to use the GoFundMe, there's the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Thank you. Lots.

That's all for now.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

12:16 p.m.

"I do not know what is a welcome mat."

Overcast all day. The high was only 75F.

I had a productive day, compared to the way things have been going lately. I think it's the terror of looming insolvency and homelessness. I worked on Sirenia Digest 216 all morning. Originally, it was going to feature "A Nameless Person of Mysterious Origin," but that story is taking forever, so, intsead subscribers will get a "blast from the past," a story that has been more or less unavailable since it was last reprinted in the hideously ugly and largely forgotten Meisha Merlin tpb of Tales of Pain and Wonder (2002). The story in question, written in 1996 while I was still in Athens, has not been included in later editions of the colection. So, it's been out of circulation for twenty-two years. Wanna know more? Well, not until tomorrow, when I hope the issue will be released.

I was supposed to talk with my lit agent at 2:30 p.m., but that's been rescheduled for Monday. I think.

And I signed a bunch of books from sales in the shop and spent a good bit of time trying the nail down the plot of The Sun Always Shines on TV, the sequel to (what else) Living a Boy's Adventure Tale. The novella has to be written fast, so I can get back to the long-neglected novel. So, a busy, busy day. Now I just have to have a bunch more of those.

This afternoon's movie was Justin Lin's Star Trek Beyond (2016). And last night Kathryn and I watched all of the third and final season of Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi's brilliant Reservation Dogs. I am going to miss this series so much. The season-three episode "Deer Lady" is one of the best things I've seen made for TV in a while.

Yesterday I finished reading the Kurbick bio (great book) and went back to Rüdiger Barth and Hauke Friederichs' The Last Winter of the Weimar Republic. I tried to read this a couple of years back and bounced off. We'll see. Oh, and I read Lovecraft's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" today, because I needed something familiar.

And I am reposting this AGAIN, because the situation is seriously dire here, and I cannot afford dignity: It's time I have to start talking about money again. We had to deal with taxes today, and the May rent looms. So, once again I need (reluctantly) to point to the GoFundMe page. The page explains the particulars of our situation. Anything you can do to help is appreciated. Thank you. There's also the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Kathryn has just added Letter Y of Frog Toes and Tentacles (SubPress, 2005), with a handmade velvet "book cozy."

Not since, I think, the winter of 2005 have finances been so dire.

Okay. That should do it for now.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

12:08 p.m. (the turtle place)

"Are you giving me attitude, Spock?"

It feels as if the 20th anniversary of the LJ should have somehow been more...auspicious.

It is what it is.

I managed to get a little writing done this morning, more work on that stubborn piece of short fiction whish a longish title I do not feel like typing just now. And I excahnged emails with my lit agents. That was work today.

The afteroon's film was J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).

A day which has been, by turns, cloudy and sunny. Our high was 81F.

And I will repost this from yesterday: It's time I have to start talking about money again. We had to deal with taxes today, and the May rent looms. So, once again I need (reluctantly) to point to the GoFundMe page. The page explains the particulars of our situation. Anything you can do to help is appreciated. Thank you. There's also the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Kathryn has just added Letter Y of Frog Toes and Tentacles (SubPress, 2005), with a handmade velvet "book cozy."

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

4:08 p.m.

"All I got left is my bones." (.2)

Today is the 20th anniversary of this LJ, which began on this date in 2004. I was about to turn forty, and we lived in a loft in what once had been an elementary school in Atlanta. It's the year that Murder of Angels was published. Thus far, there have been 7,185 posts. This is number 7,186.

A bright and sunny day. A high of 83F.

Despite the fact that I felt utterly wretched when I woke at 6 a.m., I did manage to keep my promise to Bill Schafer and deal with the last edits to Bright Dead Star. With Kathryn's help. After hashing it all out again, I cut away two thirds of the introduction, made a few more trims to a couple of stories, and then emailed the ms. away to SubPress. At least until the ARCs are done (I'm gonna guess that will be sometime in the summer), this thing is out of my hands. And I can get on with all the other things that have been languishing. So, that's a relief.

It's time I have to start talking about money again. We had to deal with taxes today, and the May rent looms. So, once again I need (reluctantly) to point to the GoFundMe page. The page explains the particulars of our situation. Anything you can do to help is appreciated. Thank you. There's also the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Kathryn has just added Letter Y of Frog Toes and Tentacles (SubPress, 2005), with a handmade velvet "book cozy."

This afternoon's film was J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (2009).

Last night we saw Yorgos Lanthimos' Poor Things (2023). There's no denying this is a stunning film, and when it was done I was fairly certain that I'd seen something of genius. This morning, though, I felt a little less certain. Honestly, for all the wonder and beauty of the film's visuals, less might have been more. And I have serious misgivings about the ending, the very last scene, which I think was a serious mistep. And I'd have loved to see a darker film. But that said, it is an amazing film, the most interesting take on Frankenstein in ages, and Emma Stone's performance is as important as the visuals. So, I'll say three and a half stars (our of four).

Today is the first time I'd been outside, other than a few steps from the back door, in almost a month.

Guess that's all for now.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

10:16 a.m.
Another sunny, warm day. Our high was 83F.

I wish I could say today was decisive and productive, but it really was neither. More editing, dithering, picking at, and exasperation with myself. More weariness, of which I seem to have grown a bottomless wellspring. Some conversation with Kathryn about...all of it. The whole huge, fucking mess. I have sworn to Bill Schaefer that he gets the ms. for Bright Dead Stars tomorrow, and I mean to keep that promise.

At least the world is green again. What a dreadful, awful winter.

Last night we caught up on The Connors, watching all of the most recent season, all that is avilable to be seen so far. I have been a fam of this series since the beginning, but I feel that it is becoming a single joke, told over and over and over, episode after episode.

Please visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. My books, Spooky's tie dye.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

3:53 p.m.
Sunny and warm today. Almost like an earliest summer day. A high of 80F.

Constantly reading, watching documentaries, and dithering over the smallest possible things in Bright Dead Star, and that has to stop tomorrow. I have not dithered so much over a short-story collection ms. since Dear Sweet Filthy World, back in 2016, when I rewrote (to some degree) almost every story that appeared in the book. Also, there's the anxiety and depression, but those two aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Today, two documentaries about the rise of Hitler.

I am weary.

Please visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. We are suddenly feeling the pinch again.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

8:21 a.m.

"It's hard to know which in your pajamas."

Tired, more tired than I have any right to feel.

Sunny today, and slowly it's warming towards a week in the eighties next week. Our high today was 70F.

Virginia Woolf wrote, “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” And I think this quote, or, rather, the sentiment of this quote, is at the heart of the "contested" (I'm the only one contesting) introduction to Bright Dead Star. We live in a time of censorship, from the Right, from the Left, from the State, from Academia, from Social Media, and even from the people who take it upon themselves, almost always wrongheadedly, to try to teach others to tell stories.


Last night we watched the first several episodes of Gus Van Sant's adaptation Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era. It's extremely watchable, and at times it's quite good, but overall...I can't say yet. Nor am I certain of a good deal of its historical accuracy. This afternoon's film was Sam Mendes' Skyfall (2012).

Please check out the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Spooly has a new shirt up. It's a good one. Thanks.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

12:41 p.m.

"Do I look like I give a damn?"

Still rainy, though there was briefly a little sun. The high today was 66F, sometime this morning, and it fell all day.

I spent the morning messing around with the wording in a couple of the stories in Bright Dead Star, stuff that has never felt right, and I'm still not sure it feels right. Kathryn and I are going over the book one last time on Sunday, and then I'm sending it to SubPress on Monday and moving on. I have years worth of backed-up writing.

Also, I have this Bukowski quote in my head: “Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all.”

The afternoon's film was Martin Campbell's Casino Royale (2006), possibly the best Bond film ever. Also, I finished reading Greg Mitchell's book about the making of The Beginning or the End and started Robert P. Kolker and Nathan Abrams' biography of Stanley Kubrick.

Last night we caught up on Young Sheldon. It really has become a good show.

Please visit the shop. Thanks.

I close with a hopeful sort of photo, also taken by Kathryn.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

12:35 p.m.


Rain and wind today. The high was 70F.

And absolutrely the only thing I have to show for today is oddly compelling photo below, and it was taken by Kathtyn.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

11:42 a.m.
Rainy today and cooler. Our high was only 61F.

And I am mired in the blackest mood. I would have ceased to exist today were it as simple as desire.

That introduction for Bright Dead Star that's had me dithering and has led to my still not yet having submitted the ms. to SubPress, the first third of it is built around the following quote:

When an author sits down to write a book, she enters into a contract with the reader. The reader’s part is to buy the book, and to recommend it to his friends. For her part, the writer promises the reader that she will take his hand and guide him safely through the world created in the book. She promises she will not suddenly push him off the path into an abyss, or put boulders – big or small – in his way, to trip him up. She will not lead him down side paths that lead nowhere. She knows that readers have many other activities to distract them, so she will make the book as intriguing, easy to read and compelling/enlightening as possible.

I was penned by someone named Susan Rand (no relation, I asssume), and like most everything to do with the supposed "reader-writer contract," it's a load of horsehsit. But it was a good starting point for the introdiction. Only I kept getting lost in whatever I was trying to say. It's a given, of course, that anyone who comes to my fiction will not have their hand held, and no one gets guided safely anywhere. Regardless...I have tried to figure out who this woman is, if she's anyone of even the stingiest sort of note. Or just some crank wannbe mouthing off online. Anyone have any idea? I'd hate to give sone absolute nobody their fifteen minutes of fame when my whole point is this is exactly the sort of stuff writers and readers need to ignore. The irony would be unfortunate. Anyone, if you know who she is, please let me know. Thank you. No, I still have not decided if I'm cutting the introduction.

I spoke abit with Dr. Andrew Rindsberg, a paleontologist (and former Alabama State Paleontologist) at the University of West Alabama in Livingston. I've known Andy since at least 1988, and that puts him in a pretty exclusive club. I have very little contact with people from way back then, much less are there people from the eighties I still can call friends. Anyway, I'm sending Andy a sample of the invertebrates from the Bashi Marl sample I'm been working on. Ichnology and invertebrates are his thing.

Please visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Because in a few weeks we have to pay rent again. Thank you.

Oh, the photo today is my office chairm held together with a roll of duct tape, because who can afford new chairs....

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

9:11 a.m.
Well, I guess today's weather is not to be treated as casually as that of most days. See below (though our high was 78F).

As for the eclipse, here in Birmingham, where we recieved 86% totality, the whole thing was sort of a bust. The day began relatively cloudless, but just as the eclipse neared its climax, boom. Clouds. Lots of clouds. Kathryn went out and got a glimpse. I sat in my chair and watch it grow slightly dimmer outside, though that was probably just the clouds. Indeed, it was such a disappointment that today's photo is feom Spooky's dental visit last Friday, not of something related to the eclipse. I hope other had better luck than did we. I doubt I'll be around in 2045, the next time Birmingham will see a dramatic solar eclipse, and that's fine, as the damn things creep me out anyway.

Still, I played Bonnie Tyler's 1983 hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" a number of times today.

Today is also the 34th anniversary of the premiere of David Lynch's Twin Peaks, on April 8, 1990. I was only twenty-five years old.

Young Sheldon is better than I remember, adding to the mystery of why we lost track of it.

Please visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. As usual, we can use the money. This year, we just learned, they raised our rent by $40, which means we got off easy, compared to other years.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

11:27 a.m.

Entry No. 7,177

Which almost seems like an auspicious number.

Warmer and sunny today. Our high was 79F, more befitting spring.

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” ~ Graham Greene

It's a fine quote and an apt sentiment, but it raises an important question. What happens to a writer, an artist, a composer, when they find themselves auddenly having trouble working? When, in my case, the words won't come or they only come with the greatest difficulty. Someting that once was easy, or at least not an immense chore, becomes like that boulder Sisyphus is always rolling up the same hill? The route to therapy dries up, if there's anything to Greene's assertion, no longer offering "escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation." It's the situation I have found myself in for quite some time now, and never mind the financial end of things. Never mind thos talk of therapy. It's the only way to pay the bills, compounding the stress of not being able to produce regularly, reliably.

Sorry. This is always on my mind these days.

Regardless, I did 1,015 words on "A Nameless Person of Mysterious Origin" this morning. I have precious little else to show for the day, but at least I have that.

Oh, and I finished reading two books today and began a third. First, I completed both Jessica Radloff's The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series and Yascha Mounk's excellent The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time. I began Greg Mitchell's The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood - and America - Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. And we've gotten back to Young Sheldon, picking up where we left off in Seasom Five (no idea why we left off).

Please visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Thanks.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

9:17 a.m.

The Last Blogger

Yeah, I know. But most times it feels like it, and I honestly do not know why I started, except it had something to do with self promotion.

Okay, shitty day. Let's just leave it at that.

We either finished Season One of The Three Body Problem, or we caught up to the present. Not sure.

Please visit the shop. Thanks.

Sunny. Our high was 67F.

Aunt Beast

3:19 p.m.
Sunny today, but still cool. Our high was 64F.

Today Kathryn had a tooth pulled, the first of two or three she has to have dealt with. It went well and she's recovering. She seems more annoyed than anything. "I'm tired of smelling blood," she said. Anyway, obviously that seriously skewed today.

I drew some monster doodles, answered some email, picked teeth from the Bashi Marl, and worried about Spooky. That was about it.

I do not think I have ever seen something play out the way Season One of The Three Body Problem is playing out. Episode one was much, much better than I expected. Episodes Two and Three were just fucking silly. But! Then episodes Four-Seven looped back to that very effective beginning and, while this is not great TV, once more it was very good. What the fuck? Mostly, I blame the silly videogame puzzle solving thing. Soemone could have thought up a far less obvious, smarter way that the aliens could have tested humans than trendy VR simulations. There are lots of options. Anyway, yes, the second and third episodes seem to have been aberrations. We'll watch the last episode of the season tonight. (See, I can change my mind. It happens more than you might think.)

It terrifies me there are actually people who have no idea what the Red Guard were or what they did. Read a fucking book, people. Or at least that ill-conceived and misbegotten calamity they call Wikipedia.

Meanwhile, check out the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Thank you.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

2:30 p.m.
A brightm sunny day, but cool again. Windy, the air so dry we have a "red flag warning," and the high was only 65F.

The sky looks like autumn and makes me want to hide under the bed (see photo below).

I did maybe 500 words on "Mysterious Person of Unknown Origin" this morning. I tried to do various other things. I did manage to draw some monster doodles for books we've sold on Big Cartel.

Last night we watched the first three episodes of The Three Body Problem. I'd not expected to like it at all; we were just bored. And then I did rather like the first episode. For one thing, it focused on the horrific Chinese "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" of 1966, which, the way things are going here at American universities, especially certain Ivy League schools where students are denouncing professors, staging violent protests to "deplatform" speakers, engaging in historical revisionsm, and actually, openly using words like "reeducation" and "rehabilitaion," it all seems like a bit of history ready to repeat very soon. So, there was that, and then there was a [SPOILER] plot twist I'd never seen before. A Chinese SETI like effort makes contact with an extraterrestrial civilization (for some reason, this is happening at the same time as the 1966 chaos), and someone on the other end of the line warns never to call again, that it will mean the end of humans. Plus toss in some weird shit in the present, and it was a pretty good set up for some weird SF. There was meat on them bones. Sadly, by the third episode, the whole thing had devolved into a predictble quasi-YA thriller about a bunch of annoying nerds playing alien video games and...what the hell ever. You know, TV stuff. I'm guessing we'll finish it tonight. We've come this far. But I do not recommend it to anyone. The whole thing is based on a series of novels. Not just one novel, but a series. That's almost never a good thing.

On the other hand, this weels episode of The New Look was as brilliant as I expected.

I am trying to fight back this depression, and it's just not moving. Not budging. It's hard to make yourself feel better when America actually is about to elect Donald Trump for the second time as the county, Right and Left, spirals into lunacy, taking the sane along with them.

I wish I'd died about 1999.

Yeah, eough of this. But you can visit the shop; that won't hurt my feelings.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

11:20 a.m.
I slept a little more, get this, I woke about 4 a.m., roled over and had a cramp in my leg so violent that I very almost screamed. Actually screamed. I have never, I do not think, screamed. For hours afterwards, the leg was too weak to stand on. Now it's just stiff. And that is how I began my day.

A sunny day, after a stormy night, but temperatures plummted. Our high was a measly 64F.

No work. None at all.

I said some shit on "social media." Things like:

Watching people complain on social media about bullying is raising irony to a whole new level.

~ and ~

(in reference to some crazy shit people were saying about the International Commission on Stratigraphy's ruling not to recognize the "Anthropocene" as a formal epoch)

I really do wish we'd get over this "gatekeeper" paranoia. Sometimes shit just doesn't break in your favor. This points to no conspiracy. In this case, it points to authorities doing their best. And keeping in mind, like all scientific consensus, this decision is provisional. And imagine the mess we would have if there were *not* "gatekeepers of geological time," no standard which would allow us to to understand one another? You know...I'm gonna back to lurking and sharing links and not painting targets on my back.

~ and ~

Maybe when all of democracy, & possibly the fate of the world, hangs in the balance, perhaps it's time to put away purity tests & stop the infighting & be just a little less picky about who you'll accept as allies. Do not do your enemy's work for them. Unite. Find commonality.

So, there. That was my day.

Nonetheless, please have a look at the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Thank you.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

2:38 p.m.
Mostly sunny today. Our high was 76F.

Last night, I slept about two hours. I hoke a little before one, thinking about everything that needs to be written, and thinking about MP 2.0 and the attendant responsibility, and thinking about the impending doom of Trump 2025, and thinking get the picture. No chance of going back to sleep.

I got up, ate a bowl of Life cereal, and then went to work on "Mysterious Person of Unknown Origin." By dawn I'd done 1,021 words. And despite feeling like a zombie, the day continued to be producrive, moreso than yesterday. There were emails related to MP 2.0 that I needed to write, responses to questions by other people on the team. I had a good conversation with Jun. My agent called at 2 p.m.; another good conversation. I did some work on the quadrate description for MP 2.0. I did some work on the Bashi sample, which I'll be returning to McWane next week. So, a very productive day. If only they would all be like this.

But a depression that has been building for days now came crashing down on me this afternoon, likely because of the lack of sleep.

Today's photo, the ms. for Bright Dead Star.

Please visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Thanks.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

3:36 p.m.
Mostly sunny today. Our high was 77F. A good start to March 2024. And I try not the think about what sort pof hellscape Trump and the MAGA lunatics will have transformaed the world into by next March.

Producive today. I did a little over 1k words of "A Nameless Person of Unknown Origin," which I hope to have finished by Friday, so I can put out the January 2024 issue of the digest this weekend. I left messages for Jun and Merrilee, but it was fucking Easter, so it's not like I expected anyone to answer their phone. I had an email exchange with Sonya, her helping me once again with the Latin for a new binomen (it was Ancient Greek Last time) for one of the two new species of plioplatecarpin mosasaur to be described in MP 2.0. And speaking of which, I started a description of the quardrates. We have specimens from Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Ah, what else? I did some work on the Bashi Marl sample, which I'm trying to finish, because all my paleo' time needs to go to MP 2.0 at this point. Oh, I email Drew about two of the turtle papers we're supposed to do.

That was today.

I was half asleep all day, it seemed, though I slept halfway decently the night befoore.

As I finish up Yascha Mounk's very, very worthwhile The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time, I find myself wanting to write an afterword for Bright Dead Star, dealing with current censorship, especially with the pehnomenon of censorship from progressives and the Left. It's something I still have trouble wrapping my brain around. When I was in college, free speech was sacred, and we fought for it, even speech we disagreed with it. Now...this fucking mess. So, that's something I could write that needs writing, but thre's the time issue and, too, I doubt I could do the job even half as well as many others have done, and it's not like I'd stop students at Harvard or Yale or Brown or Berkeley from acting like the followers of Mao Zedong or Adolf Hitler or any numbered of demented American televangelists, deciding for everyone else what is and is not fit for public consumption. Once upon a time, it was the Right that posed the greatest threat to free speech, to freedom of expression, to art, even science. The idea that anyone on the Left would be acting like this was all but unthinkable. A lot has changed in thirty years.


Did I mention we're watching Californication again? We are. It's a breath of fresh, foul-mouthed, utterly "not okay" air in this age of the New Puritans. The show pretty much implodes after Season One, but lord, the inappropriateness in glorious. I never thought I'd miss the liberty of 2007.

Please visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Thanks.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

11:34 a.m.
So, the weather. What was the weather? Best I can recall, mostly sunny. Our high was a humid 78F.

I got work done. Not quite as much as I would have liked, but better thna nothing. Better than nothing is always, you know, better than nothing. I read everything written thus far on "A Nameless Person of Mysterious Origin," and I did about 500 more words. That was before sunrise. I'd been up since about 5 a.m. It was Easter, of course, and I ignored that as best I could. I had a good conversation with Mke Polcyn. You know, blah, blah, blah. I did other things that needed doing, and in the end it all felt like I'd done very little at all.

I read "Ecomorphological diversification in squamates from conserved pattern of cranial inegration."

Also, somewhere online Kathryn came across a discussion of mt fiction (The Red Tree, in particular), and someone called me a curmudgeon. Which seems to mean something these days that it didn't means a couple of decade ago. It seems, in the minds and mouths of progressives, to have begun meaning "a roadblock to the fabulous people's revolution." Like narcissism and sorrow...and other things, curmudgeonly midsets are being pathologized. That said, the discussion of my work was all in all extremelty positive. But I said on Faebook and Twitter:

Also, yes, I am a curmudgeon. I do not take this as an insult, but a badge of honor

Something else, something I quoted on Facebook today: “Self-censorship, the most important and most successful form of censorship, is rampant. Debate is identified with dissent, which is in turn identified with disloyalty.” ~ Susan Sontag*

Lord knows there's much that Sontag wrote with which I strongly disgree, but she was a brilliant woman, all the same. See, when we are not moral absolutists, not zealots, we cab do that. My politics are not a prescribed regimen, but a buffet from which I am free to pick and choose that which, after much careful consideration, makes the most sense to me.

Please visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. Thank you.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

7:34 a.m.

* It is astounding to see college students and their professors talking about "free speechers," as though the phrase is a pergorative. It is, in fact, sickening. The sky is green. Grass is blue.

log y = α log x + log b

A beautiful day. Sunny, with a high of 77F.

However, it followed on the heels of an utter cataclysm of a night. I woke at just before 2 a.m. with a headache (after getting to sleep aboyt 11:30), and...that was that. For one reason and another, I did not get back to sleep. Finally, I got up and tried to work, one this, that, and the other, but I was so very not awake I made no meaningful progress with anything. And I had to postpone a talk with Mike P. (we desperately need to catch up) until tomorrow, because...I could not have made a lot of sense. I do not know of a certain that I am making sense now.

So, two hours sleep, give or take.

I tried to finish up the last annoying bits with Bright Dead Star, but I realized I didn't trust myself not to fuck it up. So, I set down with the plioplatecarpines and tried to calculate some of te allometric coefficients that need to be done for MP 2.0, but...yeah. Right. See photo before. Finally around dawn, I gave up and read one or another of the books I've been reading (I have three going right now I think), occsionally dozing for a few seconds at a time. By the time Kathryn got up at 8 a.m., I'd been up 6 hours. At some point I worked on the Bashi matrix for the first time in a while, but my hands were shaking too badly to keep from dropping the insanely tiny fish and shark teeth. I thought about a story I need to write for Ellen Datlow. That's a pretty good idea of my day. Awful day, and now I need to stay awake until at least 11 p.m., so I have some hope of a decent night's sleep.

Last night we finished what I assume will be the first season of Lucky Hank. It really finds its voice around episode four. Also, Kyle MacLachlan shows up! By the end, it had gone from something that was merely watchable to something quite good. So, hopefully there will be a second season.

I ate coffee and Rice Krispies, with an overripe banana, at 4 a.m. *shudder*

Something I posted on Facebook today: Silencing those with whom you disagree, shouting them down, disrupting lectures and "deplatforming," this IS fascism. Even now, as bad as things are, what Nietzsche said about not becoming the monsters you are fighting applies. Some things are evil, period, no matter your best intentions, and the survival of democracy depends on tolerance, even if you find a thing intolerable. It's that ol' "free speech for me, but not for thee" boondoggle. It's all fine and good, until someone says something that pisses off enough (or the wrong) people.

Um...anything else? Some people might be wondering what allometry is:

log y = α log x + log b

where x is body size, y is organ size, log b is the intercept of the line on the y-axis and α is the slope of the line, also known as the allometric coefficient. When x and y are body and organ sizes at different developmental stages, the allometric coefficient captures the differential growth ratio between the organ and the body as a whole. When the organ has a higher growth rate than the body as whole, for example, the chela of male fiddler crab, α > 1, which is called positive allometry or hyperallometry. When the organ has a lower growth rate than the body as whole, α < 1, which is called negative allometry or hypoallometry. Organs that have negative allometry include the human head, which grows more slowly than the rest of the body after birth and so is proportionally smaller in adults than in children). When an organ grows at the same rate as the rest of the body, α = 1, a condition called isometry. Such an organ maintains a constant proportionate size (but not absolute size) throughout development.

In a population of very closely-related mosasaurs, can we tell whether we are seeing two different species or allemetric change within a single species, related to age? Our sample is small, less than a dozen specimens, and most of them are adult animals, so I'm not banking on allometry being a demonstrable explanation for the observed morphological differences, but it has to be considered, regardless.

But it's something to be done when I'm awake, and really, I've just been tring to work with the quadrates (again, see below), when many bones need to be measured and crossreferenced.

I am tired and I am babbling. No, I am so far past tired....

Please visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries Shop.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

12:02 p.m.
Sunny today. Our high was 73F. Nearing dusk, my office window is open.

My stomach kept me awake most of the night (my bad teeth share the double-bill with my wretched stomach; my bad feet are old news), and I didn't get everything I'd planned to do today done. But it was not truly a wasted day. I let myself spend a little time getting back into the paleo' saddle. I wrote to all the other ivestigators on the new plioplatecarpine project and assurred them I was not dead, nor I had not run away to live with the meerkats or any such thing. I looked over some papers on squamate ontogeny and indivdual variation that I need to read ASAP. It is amazing how much better I feel. Honestly, I knew I was not well, but I failed to appreciate just how sick I was. I can write coherent prose again. I can make sense of higher mathematics. When I am awake, I am awake, even during spells of insomnia. I feared my recovery might be slower, given my age and the fact that I have let my body get into truly abyssmal shape.'s going well. Tomorrow morning I'm going to get back to work on Sirenia Digest, and on Monday I will send the ms. for Bright Dead Star away to SubPress.

I have so missed having a clear head. You would not believe.

Sanuel Beckett said, "“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” I think "fail better" has been one of my go-to mottos my whole writing career, since at least 1993.

Last night we started watching Lucky Hank, the Bob Odenkirk series from last year. I adore Odenkirk, and, no surprise, he's hilarious in this series. But the rest of the show is at times wobbly and afflicted the hallmarks of failed comedy, such as uncomfortable silences and inexplicable timing. But I am impressed at Lucky Hank's willingness to be at least halfway critical of the repressive culture that has grown up around American college campuses.

I listened to a lot more of the Big Bang book today. For a rabid fan such as myself it is a genuine delight, and I think Spooky is enjoying it as much as am I. I also went back to Yascha Mounk's The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time, which I set aside a month or so back. What with the health and money problems, I needed a break from the insanity of "consequence culture" and "standpoint theory" and all the rest.

Lord, I wish I could believe that President Biden had a snowball's chance in Hell come November.

Okay, enough of that. Instead, visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop, a joyful tumble of my books and Spooky's tie dye. And remember, buy ANY BOOK and you'll get a FREE MONSTER DOODLE.

You can't beat that with a stick.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

3:56 p.m.

"Am I awaited?"

Sunny today. The high was 68F.

I did at least get those two story notes written today. I think I'll be sending the Bright Dead Star ms. to SubPress Saturday. I still need an afternoon to pick over it just one more time. And there was some weird email related to a couple of conventions (I'm not appearing at either).

THat was pretty much today. I did start The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series, an audiobook I recommend to anyone who's seen the series start to finish as many times as I have (actually, I've lost count). The afternoon's film was George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). I am very excited about the forthcoming Furiosa.

A short walk this afternoon. There are flowers and green leaves in the trees. And fire ants...

Invasive little motherfuckers.

Please take a moment to visit the shop.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

4:11 p.m.
Most of the day was mostly sunny, a little overcast now, but no rain in the forecast. Our high was 68F.

A flurry of work on Bright Dead Star today. Honestly, I think this manuscript is damned and determuined never, ever to be completed. It's beginning to remind me of how obsessively I edited and reedited and re-reedited The Dry Salvages in the summer (I think it was the summer) of 2003. Bill finally had to tell me to stop. I have to make an end to it all by Monday at the lastest. Today, just as I thought I had a handle on whatever nitpicky crap was left to be done, I realized I'd not written story notes for two of the pieces. So, I'll do that tomorrow. And there's still some persistant wonkiness in the introduction. But! There are no more sticky notes!

The afternoon's film was Tarantino's Once Upon a Time Hollywood (2019).

Business at the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop has been brisk, for which we are grateful. Please, visit and peruse the merch, books by me, tie dye by Spooky (Kathryn).

I leave you with a picture of the Platypus, Herr Schnabeltier, marvel of evolution. He's had a rough few days.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

3:18 p.m.

"I don't wanna die without any scars. "

A windy, stormy night, a rainy overcast morning, and then, about 2 p.m., the sky cleared and the day is now sunny. Our high was 72F.

A better day today, workwise, likely because I finally slept. I only woke two or three times last night, and I think I got about eight hours. Today I did the corrections to all the story notes in Bright Dead Star (I'd forgotten about them). Then I dithered more about the introduction and had Kathryn read it aloud to me. This really never happens. True, I don't like writing introductions and afterwords, but usually I write one or I don't. And if I write one, I like it or I don't. Worse case scenario, I ask someone else to write one, like S.T. Joshi for Beneath an Oil-Drak Sea or Jeff VanderMeer for The Ammonite Violin & Others. This is just...silly. Anyway, I am keeping it in. Just a couple more tweaks to clarify a point or two. And whereever you are Sunsan Rand, you can bite me.

Writers House sent me a contract and I signed it. I had an email exchange with Nicky Crowther, which reminds me: the PS Publishing/Dimestore Indian Press trade-paperback editions of Dear Sweet Filthy World, The Dinosaur Tourist, and Vile Affections are now available for purchase (and very affordable).

The afternoon's movie was David Fincher's 1999 adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club. This was, by the way, the very first film that Kathryn and I ever saw together in a theatre. And watching it this time, I found myself windering if the parallel between Brad Pitt pouring lye on Edward Norton's hand was an intentional parallel with the scene in Dune when the Reverend Mother subject's Paul to the Gom Jabbar. There are striking similarities.

It actually looks like spring Outside. Bright and the first bursts of green in the trees. I woke this morning to chainsaws clearing fallen branches from our road.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

7:10 a.m.

"It's not an adventure story."

Mostly cloudy today, but a little sun. Windy. Our high was 69F.

I might have slept slightly better than I've been sleeping.

Anxiety that hit me last night has become depression, and...honestly, whatever. Same old pointless fucking whining.

The afternoon's film was Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005).

We finished Six Feet Under night before last. Truthfully, after the first two seasons, I think the show gets lost and spends a lot of time flailing about before descending into soap opera. However, the last three epsiodes are almost worth the long trip, and the last episode is one of the best series finales I have ever seen.

So, something new up in the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop that I want to draw your attention to, something for rhe serious collector. When Frog Toes and Tentacles was published (also 2005), SubPress was kind enough to give me all the lettered copies.I was just about as broke then as I am now (only my living epenses were much lower). We have sold only a few of these over the years. We are selling one now, Letter M, complete with a velvet "book cozy" hand sewn by Kathryn. The last time we offered a copy of this book with the book cozy was probably while we were still in Atlanta, so sometime pre-May 2008. It's been a while. So, first time been offered in quite a while. Please have a look. (Never mind. It sold in less than twenty minutes.)

Yeah, today's photo is kinda lousy.


Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

3:39 p.m.

Pterosaurs chasing a banana.

A fine sunny morning, chilly, but bright. And then the clouds rolled in. Blegh. Still, we made it to 70F.

Another night without enough sleep. I tried very, very hard to write today, and it just did not happen. Too tired. Too much trouble focusing. Too distracted. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. But at least Sirenia Digest 215 went out to subscribers this morning.

Documentaries all afternoon. I finished the Lewis and Clark from 1997, and there there was one of the Sealab program and another on the early days of Silicon Valley.

Blah, blah, blah.

On this day in 1945 paleontologist Robert T. Bakker was born, a mover-and-shaker in the 1970s "Dinosaur Renaissance." Also, my mentor during my time at the University of Colorado. Another paleontologist, Jim Krkland, introduced me to Bob at the 1985 meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Rapid City South Dakota, and Bob invited me to come to UC to work on mosasqaurs from the Pierre Shale of Wyoming. Starstruck, I said yes, left the University of Alabama at Birmingham and my job at the Red Mountain Museum, enrolled at UC Boulder and, beginning in June 1986 (I was still an undergrad), worked at the UC Museum of Geology. A billion years ago.

And speaking of the passage of time....

Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the publication of my first short-fiction collection, Tales of Pain and Wonder. A long time ago, a whole lotta books ago. Peter Straub wrote the afterword; Doug Winter wrote the introduction. (ToP&W has since been reprinted three times, for a total of four editions.)

I think that's all I have.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

4:10 p.m.

digesting sirens

Much better day, though I did not get better sleep, maybe four decent hours. But after a cloudy morning, the day turned sunny - if windy and not truly warm. Our high was 66F.

I spent the day putting together Sirenia Digest 215 (Decemeber 2023), which will go out to subscribers as soon as Gordon Duke gets it back to me (he makes my MS Word files, PS files, and jpgs into the final PDF). So, there was work, and just about everything seems less crappy when there's work. I feel vastly better about myself if I can get something that needs doing done.

This afternoon I watched the first three quarters of a very excellent 1997 Ken Burns documentary on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I'll finish it tomorrow.

Yeah. Gonna make this short today. I'm tired. I hope your weekend's going well.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

3:47 p.m.
On the other hand, there was today. Today was pretty much a loss. I've had several nights of poor sleep. Another last night. Only...I crashed at about 6:30 a.m. and didn't wake until almost 8 a.m. And that kind kicked the legs out from under the day (and never mind that I'd hardly slept).

I'm still trying to wake up.

I did sign two books. Whee. Fuck. I hate days that slip away like this. I had a list. I had a plan. Now, everything from today goes to tomorrow.

I began reading Matthew J. Davenport's new book on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake/fire, The Longest Minute. Honestly, that's about all I did. The afternoon's movie was Jason Reitman's Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021).

Oh, the weather. Sunny, mostly, this morning, but then the clouds rolled in, weith some light rain. Our high was only 66F.

I'll repost this from yesterday: I spoke with Nicky Crowther by email and learned that the PS Publishing/Dimestore Indian Press trade-paperback editions of Dear Sweet Filthy World, The Dinosaur Tourist, and Vile Affections are now available for purchase (and very affordable). (and) Please visit the Dreaming Squid Sundries shop. New books, new shirts.

Later tater Beans,
Aunt Beast

4:21 p.m.

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    12 Apr 2024, 22:10
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