Tags: spooky's birthday

fight dinosaurs

Words and Dirt

A bright and mostly sunny day. We made it to 89˚F. It is currently, 87˚F, with a heat index of 92˚F. I am watching with horror what is happening in the Pacific Northwest. In Portland, it's currently 111˚F. That shit is brutal for Alabama.

I might have slept four and a half hours last night.

And yet I was quasi-productive today. A big chunk of it was spent reading old field journal entries from the summers of 1981 and 1982, trying to pin down when and where a particular fossil turtle (one of the new taxa I'm describing with Drew Gentry) was found. It's a spectacular turtle, but somehow the time and place of its discovery has become a mystery, one that I am doing my best to solve (with the help of Gorden Bell, who may have collected it – but even that is uncertain). Anyway, reading through those forty-year-old entries, that was a big chunk of the day. I also did a little with one of the cave samples. Oh, I forgot to mention in yesterday's entry that, yesterday, I discovered the freaky little hour-glass shaped humerus of an Eastern mole, Scalopus aquaticus, only the second mole I've turned up in all the many months I've been picking through these Late Pleistocene samples.

Well, I thought it was cool.

I read most of "A review of Pachyvaranus crassispondylus Arambourg, 1952, a pachyostotic marine squamate from the latest Cretaceous phosphates of Morocco and Syria."

And I really am about to start a novel. No, really. I swear.

I went Outside for the second day in a row. Go me.

But I kind of need some fucking sleep first. I leave you with a gorgeous photograph of the moon that Spooky took on her birthday.

Aunt Beast, Finder of Lost Moles

9:39 p.m. (Thursday)

"Cufflinks and hubcaps, trophies and paperbacks."

Spooky says thank you to everyone out there who helped make her birthday less annoying. Your efforts are very much appreciated.

It was a sunny day. We made it to 88˚F.

I wish I could say the breakthrough from doldrums to productivity came today, but it did not. Maybe tomorrow.

The afternoon's comfort movie was John McTiernan's Die Hard (1988). It's almost a case study in everything that was good and everything that was bad about 1980 cinema in America. But there's no getting around how much I love watching the dueling coolness of Alan Rickman and Bruce Willis, bad eighties hair and all.

We had hot dogs and a really awesome strawberry cake for Spooky's birthday (see below).

I'm gonna murder the dogs upstairs. I'm just saying. I might have slept four hours last night.

Aunt Beast

9:24 p.m.

Busy Beaver

The rain seems like it's going to be with us until Sunday. Much of today, we remained under a flash-flood watch. The high was a paltry 82˚F.

A shockingly productive day.

This morning, I did 1,022 words on "Untitled 46," which I began last Wednesday, then sat aside.I should be finished with it by Saturday afternoon, I reckon. There was a flurry of paleo'-related communication, scheduling a Zoom call for the 28th between myself, a paleontologist at the American Museum, and one in Dallas. This will be my second Zoom call ever. I had a look at the Vile Affections galleys, though I didn't really get started on them. I finally got back to Vince Locke, which I need to do again tomorrow. I talked with Rebecca Eskildsen at Writers House about someone in the UK who wants to reprint “Galapagos” in a book about Irish genre fiction (I agreed to the terms). I wrote Jun Ebersole at the McWane Center (I go back to work there early in July, at long last). I did a cursory examination of the latest Pleistocene sample; there's a lot of a large armadillo in it. Basically, if I could have a day like this everyday for the next two months, I might catch up.

It was a good day.

I did allow myself to vent a little on Twitter. To wit:

Was a time in America when, more often than not, we pulled together & did what was right. It's how we beat polio, how we helped defeat the Nazis. It's how Nixon was removed from office. We were a functional collective, not a nation of whining idiots declaring "you can't make me."

~ and ~

Pretty much every time I say something like, "Hey, dumb ass. Yeah, you. Please stop buying this bullshit, whackadoo, anti-vaxer conspiracy-theory nonsense and get your damn COVID vaccination," about 10 people "unfriend" me w/in an hr. I wear these losses like a badge of honor.

The 24th is Spooky's birthday, she who greases the axis on which my world dost spin. Please have a look at her Amazon wishlist. Thank you.

Aunt Beast

11:10 a.m.

"Close up on temptation..."

A very good day, and a remarkable day, that I actually cannot got into any real detail about. The weather, well, it was blah. We did get some sun, but also some thunder and lightning, and the high was only 76˚F. Providence is having highs in the 90˚F, and down here it feels like April.

I spent two and a half hours in a delightful conversation with Mike Polcyn at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Mike is a paleontologist who specializes in mosasaurs, and it has been a very long time since I had such an enjoyable talk. It would have gone on longer, but the battery in my phone was going. Anyway, good things are coming of this, and I will talk about them when I may.

Spooky and are still doing our re-watch on The Big Bang Theory, but we've decided to couple it with a re-watch of The X-Files. Tonight we watched the pilot and second episode (both 1993). Mulder and Scully were such babies, and it made me so nostalgic for the nineties, there at the end of my century.

As I said on Twitter (@auntbeast) yesterday, do not ever say that a taxon is the "Nanotyrannus" of X (where X = any other taxon), because you will surely come to regret it.

So, yeah. It was a good day. Thank you, universe.

Have I mentioned that her birthday is the 24th? Here's a link to her Amazon wishlist, and, remember: She doesn't just have to put up with me, she's the force of Nature than keeps me writing the stories that you read.

Oh, and she plays really weird games, like the one in the photo below.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast

11:54 a.m.
Cordon C3

Plesiopedal vs. Hydropedal

Today was not a bad sort of day, though it was overcast all day and rainy. There was thunder towards dusk. Our high was a somewhat measly 74˚F.

The first part of the day was spent dealing with all the many line edits and continuity issues in "Strandlings." When I was done, I sent it away to Ellen Datlow, the editor for whom I wrote the story.

The rest of the work day went to re-reading various mosasaur papers, including bits from Dale Russell's classing Systematics and Morphology of American Mosasaurs (1967), Jim Martin's "A new species of the durophagous mosasaur, Globidens (Squamata: Mosasauridae) from the Late Cretaceous Pierre Shale Group of central South Dakota, USA" (2007), and Amelia Zietlow's "Craniofacial ontogeny in Tylosaurinae" (2020).

Here's Spooky's birthday wishlist again. Thank you.

I just realized that the galleys for Vile Affections are sitting on the floor of my office, awaiting my attention. I had forgotten them, in the rush to get From Weird and Distant Shores out the door.

Aunt Beast

10:06 p.m.

"Davenports and kettle drums and swallowtail coats..."

Today was a better day. Though is was mostly cloudy. Our high was 87˚F.

But I slept last night, which made all the difference. I passed out about 10:30 p.m., which is almost unheard of for me, and I slept a full eight hours, give or take.

All that sleepy left me a little groggy, but I did get some work done. I read back over "Strandling," the story I've written for an Ellen Datlow anthology, and I made line edits. It's a better story than I'd thought, and it is grimmer than what I usually allow myself to do (no, really).

I read "Redescription and phylogenetic assessment of 'Prognathodon stadmani': implications for Globidensini monophyly and character homology in Mosasaurinae." The paper erects a new genus, Gnathomortis ("jaws of death"), and places 'Prognathodon stadmani' in that genus.

I have not been farther from the house since July 9th, 2020 than the 1.34 miles between here and my doctor's office. That's just a month shy of a year.*

Please have a look at Spooky's wishlist on Amazon. Her birthday is impending, on the 24th, and she will be mighty grateful, as they say. Thank you.7

Aunt Beast

10:30 a.m.

* A few hours after I posted this yesterday, Kathryn ("Spooky") pointed out that when we got our COVID-19 vaccinations in Forest Park (on the other side of Red Mountain), I'd gone quite a bit farther than 1.34 miles. So, I pulled up Google Earth and checked my calculations, and...actually...my doctor's office is only about 1.27 miles away (I was off yesterday), and the Walgreens in Forest Park is, oddly, just about 1.34 miles from here. So, my original statement stands, so far as distance traveled is concerned, but the farthest point I've traveled from home was not to my doctor's office, but Walgreens.
Roy Batty

Howard Hughes and Sleep Ain't No Friends No More

Yeah, only about three hours last night. I'm kind of delirious and headachey.

It was supposed to be stormy all day, but it mostly wasn't. Spooky went to the Botanical Gardens and took photos of roses and irises and birds and stuff. I tried to do some prep, but I was too stupid with sleepy.

Re: protesters invoking "the Terror" as a good thing, here's the truest thing I've seen today: "Saying the French Revolution led to a Republic is like saying Romeo and Juliet led to a happy ending." Yup.

I'm pretty sure my world died at least thirty years ago. Fuck, maybe even before I was born. This is somewhere else.

Tomorrow I need to try and begin a story, and I need desperately to succeed. Today, I began re-reading William Kennedy's Legs.

Today, of course, was Spooky's birthday.

Aunt Beast

7:29 p.m.

"A double-fisted queen of terror."

It's a beautiful evening here in Birmingham, sunset turning the tops of the clouds pink and violet. Currently, it's 86˚F, with the heat index at 89˚F.

Today was supposed to be a McWane day. I had ambitions of finishing with the coronoid and the splenial both today, finishing the mechanical prep work and the acid bath and so forth. But then I didn't sleep last night. At best, I slept two and a half hours, and those were broken up and piecemeal. And the last thing I was gonna try to do on two and a half hours of sleep was handle incredibly delicate 85 million year old bones (and dental tools and dangerous chemicals). So, I finally got up about, I don't know, 8 a.m., and I called the lab and let Jun know that I would not be coming in, thank you Monsieur Insomnia, you motherfucker. I'll give it another try on Monday.

By the way, no, I'm not being paid for my work at McWane. Someone asked. This is science for the sake of and love of science. My sole source of income remains my fiction writing.

The day was a blur, a far less than awake blur. We went to an Asian market out on Valley Road, which actually was called Super Oriental Market, and there were all sorts marvelously weird noodles and candy and porcelain maneki-neko figurines. Spooky got some green tea flavored Kit Kat bars, but that was all. They're actually green. Then we had to stop at the market for peanut butter and mouthwash and Gatorade and whatnot. It's a goddamn glamorous life, I tell you what.

Oh, yesterday, I helped Spooky move the last few boxes from our small storage unit into our large storage unit (long story), so that we can save about $60/month. There a lot of economizing going in around here.

A special thank you to the very, very generous Bill Schafer, who time and again has come along to pull my butt from out the fire.

“I used to be somebody, now I’m somebody else” ~ Bad Blake, Crazy Heart (I ought to have this tattooed on my other arm.)

Today, I went back to David Lynch's autobiography, Room to Dream, which I'd set aside while I finished "Requiem."

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Good stuff, which I will sign and personalize. Also, it's still not too late to have a look at Spooky's birthday wishlist. One day, I will not be fucking broke on her birthday and I'll get her that goddamn Meezer ranch she's been wanting:

My Amazon.com Wish List

Later Kittens,

9:01 a.m.
Western Interior Seaway

Howard Hughes and the Cretaceous Taco

I hear thunder. The day was hot and sunny, but not unpleasantly so. Currently, it's 83˚F, with the heat index at 86˚F.

I spent most of the day a McWane, prepping the Tylosaurus splenial, which came free of the block with more ease than I'd feared it would. But it was tedious, painstaking work on a very fragile bone, and I was only good for about four hours of preparation. I won't get another day at McWane until Thursday.

Back home, I read "Paleoecology and Biostratigraphy of Marginal Marine Gulf Coast Eocene Vertebrate Localities" by Jim Westgate (2001). And napped. And then watched a couple of episodes of Mythbusters. And then we got sweet tea and bananas from Da Oink and dinner from Milo's.

Tonight, we watched John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China (1986), which neither Kathryn nor I had seen since the 80s. I contend it's one of four truly good Carpenter films. They are, in order of release:

1. Escape from New York (1981)
2. The Thing (1982)
3. Starman (1984)
4. Big Trouble in Little China (1986).

Last night, we saw Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992), even though we saw it not long ago, and then Rupert Wyatt's understated Captive State., which I now see no one seems to have enjoyed but me.

And as I said last night, please have a look at the current eBay auctions, and there's also Spooky's birthday on the 24th, so here's her wishlist at Amazon:

My Amazon.com Wish List

I doubt the universe will reward you for these small acts of kindness, but it can't hurt, right? Until next time, I leave you with RMM 070, the "Greene County Mosasaur" that once graced Red Mountain Museum, which was being reconstructed and mounted when I began doing volunteer work there in 1978. We go back a long, long way, this lizard and I.


2:05 p.m.

"I'm picking you up now. And I'm trusting you not to eat me."

Sunny today, mostly, and we made it back above 90˚F. Currently, it's 89˚F.

Today, I wrote 1,643 words and finished my second long Dancy Flammarion story in less than a month*, and this despite sleeping less than five hours last night. This second story weighs in at 10,450 words and the first, "Dreams of a Poor Wayfaring Stranger," at 10,421 words (so a combined total of 20,871 words). I think the new title for the second story is, by the way, "Requiem for a Scapegoat." At least that's what is it this afternoon. I grew to hate "The Lady in the House of Crowning Glory," and I've been trying to find the new title for a week or so. And this really is a requiem. Both stories are for the forthcoming second volume of Dancy stories from Subterranean Press (though the trade edition will only include one of them), which also does not yet have a title, and I have no idea when it will be released.

Oh, and I spent an hour later in the day, after a half-assed nap, working on the glyptosaur paper.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, and there's also Spooky's birthday on the 24th, so here's her wishlist at Amazon:

My Amazon.com Wish List

I'm supposed to be back at the McWane Center tomorrow, if I can get some sleep tonight, then spend Tuesday editing the new new Dancy story.


9:12 a.m.

* By Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy criteria, these count as "novelettes." But I do not use that odious word.