June 11th, 2021

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.