December 26th, 2014


Entry No. 4,214

Day after tomorrow, we head back to Providence, and I'll be glad to see the cats. But I can't say I've missed that city. Not at all. I'll take these trees and mountains any day. I'll take the bogle in the attic over noisy neighbors any night.

I haven't missed the faintly sewage like odor of Narragansett Bay. And even on a Bad Day, the mountains and trees here keep the sky honest, narrow it, and hold that carnivory at bay.

Since I began keeping a blog late in 2001, the number of people willing, online, to take the time required to read 1,000+ words has plummeted. An attention-span mass extinction. So, I speak to the few of you who can still think thoughts that come of increments greater than 140 characters and without a "like" option. And I still have no fucking idea what Tumblr is supposed to be, even as the masses have moved along to the Next Hip Thing.

"Well, it's your fault. You should have kept up! Run! Run faster! No, no! FASTER!!!!! And don't look back! Okay, no...what can we spell wrong next? How can we individualize this word?"

There is no shortage of wonderful writers. What we lack is a dependable mass of readers. ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Today, I'm going to try and make a start on Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird #5 (THE END!). Five pages would be wonderful.


1. Xmas Eve: Not much, really. We had hellish rain. My foul mood, always expected, arrived. On Facebook, I posted videos by the Pogues, Tom Waits, William Burroughs, and Neko Case. I said, "I have a roaring fire, Murphy's, cheap bourbon, a pack of Camels, Neko Case, and Vicodin. It's Xmas Eve in Woodstock." That's how I got through the night, that and Spooky and our annual viewing of Badder Santa. Kathryn and I (well, mostly her), came up with my next musical project, and I posted, "My next band will be called Mormon Funeral Potatoes, and our first album will be Crummy Bunny Bottle Opener." I also noted that the second album would be Angry Black Meatball, followed by our breakout, Grammy-winning, platinum Magic Butter. Jonathan Strahan, Best Editor On Earth®, replied "Sure. But after that it's all drugs, recriminations and a downwards spiral until you break up after playing Wham's "Last Christmas" in a rundown bar outside a Holiday Inn in Dayton, Ohio." And you know he's right. Spooky and I also watched Oculus; more on that below.

2. Xmas Day: We got the fuck out of the cabin. My goal was to do a wee bit of geologizing and maybe spot some fossils. The first leg of the drove was NW up 212 to the intersection with 28, then west and north to Highmount (a ski esort sort of place). We crossed and recrossed Esopus Creek many times, the water gurgling and green brown, the snow on the peaks having melted and filled the streams. This is land shaped by glaciers during the Wisconsin Glaciation, a mere 85,000 to 11,000 years ago. Deep canyons and valleys carved into the Devonian sedimentary marine bedrock Catskills, rocks going back to seas and shoreline swamps ~395-360 million years ago. The sun was an on-and-off affair, and the wind was bitter. Once, an immense meteor stuck this area, during those Devonian days, and left an approximately 6 mile(9.7 km)-wide crater whose walls correspond to the courses of the upper Esopus and Woodland Creek today. I stopped once and looked at an unfossiliferous outcrop of the late Devonian West Falls Group. This leg was about 26 miles one way.

Then, we turned south, retracing our steps along 28 to Kingston, where we turned west and south to explore a geologic structure known as the Port Jervis Trough, on the backside of the Shawawangunk Range. We went as far as Stone Ridge, where I looked at a rather stingy outcropping of Helderberg Limestone (?), also Devonian. There were scrappy invertebrate remains, nothing worth collecting. This leg was about 10 miles of flat farmland. All in all, we drove more than a hundred miles. I want to come back in warm weather and travel as far as far western New York, where there are some dramatic Devonian fossil beds. Trilobites! Eurypterids!

3. I can't say I wasn't disappointed in Mike Flanagan's Oculus (2013). There was a setup for a supernatural thriller, with heavy undercurrents of psychological terror. The latter should have been allowed to carry the film. Instead, we got fairly comical looking ghosts (the mirror eyes did not redeem them). I mean, sure, they weren't creepy, cliché, tiresome Japanese/Korean girls with long black hair hanging in their face, but still. Then there was the gore, the very essence of gratuitous. The insertion of actual ghostly specters and the body horror material, in all but a few cases, detracted from the film's heart – that evil mirror, that wrong thing. Some of the performances, most notably Katee Sackoff's and Karen Gillan's manic, revenge-driven Kaylie Russell, were very, very good. All in all, I'd call the film a brilliant failure, a deeply flawed beauty. It should be seen, if only as a cautionary tale in ho not to tell ghost stories. There are, by the way, strong parallels with The Haunting. Just, The Haunting knows to whisper when Oculus screams. And by the way, will someone tell me why Robert Wise felt if necessary to change Eleanor's last name from Vance to Lance?

4. Lastly, there are some photos from yesterday, all from that first leg of the trip, Woodstock to Highmount:

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Onwards, Bogle Soldiers
Aunt Beast