My thanks to Matt Winser of West Sussex, England for the very wonderful package, which I received a few days ago. I am especially delighted with the boucedy octopus ball. Very soon, I shall need a new and larger shelf to contain my Cephalopod Shrine. Also, belated wishes for a happy birthday to setsuled.
There is very little to report. I have sat here for days, not writing, and the less said about that, the better. We did have a decent walk yesterday, despite the fog and misting rain and temperatures hovering in the high fifties. There's sun today, but the sky is that shade of blue and the wind's gusting to 30 mph, so the thermometer says it's 71F, but to me it feels a good ten degrees cooler.
Night before last we watched Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which was quiet deliriously marvelous. Watching Sacha Baron Cohen is like seeing Groucho, Chico, and Harpo Marx somehow rolled all into one person. Last night, we finished reading Lemony Snicket's The Wide Window. I'm still reading Steven Bach's Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven's Gate (1985). I've been listening online to samples from Judgement, the new VNV Nation album, and I like what I hear. Spooky's very taken with the new Nick Cave project, Grinderman, though I've yet to sit down and listen to it for myself. I have been listening to the new NIN, Year Zero, and the "trailer" for the new album is honestly one of the creepiest things I've seen in ages.
Also, I spent some time yesterday trying to make my MySpace page just a bit less ugly and uploading a few new photos to my MySpace pics (some of which previously appeared here). Have a look. "Friend" me, and I'll exchange the favour. I just wish I could turn off all those hideous gorramn ads. I don't know how people look the other way.
And Kurt Vonnegut is dead. He's one of those writers who's had such a profound effect upon my own writing that it's hard to measure in any meaningful way. Of his novels, my favourites are Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973). I know that Vonnegut himself was not particularly pleased with Breakfast of Champions, but Kilgore Trout will always have a place in my heart, "wide-open beavers" and all. Everyone's been posting Vonnegut quotes. Choosing the Vonnegut quote of which I am most fond is an impossibility, but I am terribly fond of this one:
I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, "Isaac is up in heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in heaven now." That's my favorite joke.
Perhaps I'll take down Welcome to the Monkey House (1968) and revisit some of his short fiction. Maybe I'll even reread Breakfast of Champions and Mother Night and Slaughterhouse-Five. Good-bye, Mr. Vonnegut. You did good.
But, there is some good news, as well. My thanks to Amanda Downum for the word that Swan Point Cemetery in Providence has planted a new tree to replace the lost Lovecraft Tree (see my entries of 8/20/06 and 9/5/06 for my reports on the death of the Lovecraft Tree). The best news is that part of the original tree is being grafted onto the new one, which pleases me greatly. There are two photos behind the cut (which I hope she does not mind me reposting here):
Photos by Amanda Downum.
So turn not pale beloved snail, for seventy or a hundred years from now, the tree lost in the storm will have been replaced. And in closing, here's an interesting tidbit, suggesting that early microbes may have used compounds other than chlorophyll, such as retinal, to achieve photosynthesis. Hence, the green Earth of today might once have had a distinctly purple hue.
Postscript (12:06 a.m. the next morning): Spooky now has a MySpace page! Friend her! The power of the squid compels you!