As birthdays after -0 go, I think yesterday was probably pretty damn good. Certainly, it's the best birthday I've had since 2004. There was no unwriting yesterday. We met Jim and Jennifer (the Jennifer I've been calling "Hannah," because I did not wish her to be confused with a certain lying, incompetent, backstabbing psycho bitch who wears the same name) at Hollywood 24 for Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End. We were lucky and got into the 4:45 digital screening. Spooky and I both loved it. I'm not going to go on about it, but I will say I was pleased that, unlike PotC: Dead Man's Chest, great swaths of this film did not seem to exist solely for the benefit of a videogame tie-in. Afterwards, the four of us headed to L5P to meet Byron for dinner at the Corner Tavern. The food's not as good as The Vortex, but there are far fewer people gumming up the joint. Then it was home for birthday cake (German chocolate, by request, with vanilla ice cream). So, yeah, a good birthday, and my thanks to the following folks who helped make -03 not so painful: Jada and Katharine, Jennifer Zawiki (yet another Jennifer!), Trompe Setsuled, Christine Ashton, David Kirkpatrick, Josh Muller, Chloe Yates, Rachel Keane, and everyone who offered hisherits condolences and well wishes. I know there are other people to be thanked, and as soon as I know who they are, I'll post a second thank-you list. You guys are, indeed, the draddest.
Late last night, we read more of Lemony Snicket's The Austere Academy.
I think the Mordorian Death March will officially conclude on the evening of Wednesday, May 30, and then I may have my life back and Spooky can go back to making dolls. As for the "Lay of Sindeseldaonna," this impromtu Tolkien fanfic that's been occurring between Setsuled and me, I may collect it all together, edit it and add footnotes, and plug it into an upcoming issue of Sirenia Digest, sort of an extra, supplement, freebie sort of a thing. What began as an extended metaphor has taken on a life of its own, begging for a backstory, and I have to say it's one of the things that's helped to get me through the last two+ insufferable weeks of compositional butchery. I have a feeling the Death March may be ending before we find the end of the story...unless I'm mistaken.
I am writing this from the scant cover afforded by a rocky gully, barely deep enough to conceal myself and Suregait. All night, we rode north across the desolate Plateau of Gorgoroth. Once, we came upon a group of orcs — a hunting party, unless I miss my guess. They gave chase, but they were all on foot and orc fiend has not yet been born that can run down a daughter of the Maeras. Suregait bore me safely away from them. We must be much nearer the caldera that was once called Mount Doom, Orodruin, Sauron's Forge, as the air is hazy and stinks of brimstone. The land here is oddly buckled, and in many places we must undertake long detours to avoid great rifts that seem to plunge hundreds of feet into the earth. We are too near the poisoned black heart of this land, Inwë, and if only my eyes could glimpse the Greenwood of Rhovanion for the briefest moment, this shadow should be lifted from off my soul.
Towards dawn, I heard the shriek of a hawk, and looking up, spotted what must certainly have been good Radagast soaring high above me. A moment later, I saw a great company of orcs to the southwest, and I was near enough to see that they were led by a man on horseback. Some of the orcs rode wargs. Unless I miss my guess, the man is setsuled, born of Rhohan and become a traitor now to his own people and all the freefolk of Middle-earth. But there was wind and much grey dust swirling in the air, and by great luck and Radagast's warning did we escape into the cover of this ravine undetected. But the man and his orcs made camp very nearby, so for now we are trapped here and waiting. If our luck holds and they move along during the day, I shall continue on my course towards the Vale. And if I should be discovered, I must trust that Suregait will bear me safely away. I will not be recaptured by the bastard, Inwë, even if I must turn my own blade against me. There is so much more I would write, but I am weary and need to rest. I shall trust Suregait to warn of the enemy's approach.
And I've updated Sindeseldaonna's map (behind the cut). Her progress since she was captured, up to yesterday's entry, is marked in green.
I've learned from Chris Ewen (he of Future Bible Heroes) that 99th Mind is shooting a video to accompany, "Twelve Nights After," my contribution to the forthcoming Hidden Variable album. I have long been an admirer of 99th Mind, so I am very excited at the news. Also, I owe lots and lots of people on MySpace replies of one sort of another. Just as soon as the unwriting is done and I shake the volcanic dust of Mordor from my clothes....