greygirlbeast: (walkenVNV)
0. Not gonna write about SW:toR today. There's too much else. I'll come back to it tomorrow. But, in short, it's the best MMORPG I've ever played, though I will temper that estimation with some minor caveats.

1. I haven't had to mark any days L for a long time (thank you, meds), but yesterday was a lost day. There was very little in me but anger. I managed only a flury of email before having Spooky drive me to the Athenaeum. It was peaceful downstairs in the reading room. The comforting, soothing smell of old, old books. Ghosts beyond counting. I am only sorry I committed a blasphemy by using my iPad amid those shelves (I'm not being sarcastic). I proofed the pencils for Alabaster #1, pages 17 through 25, but they were almost perfect, so it wasn't much work.

2. Today is the third anniversary of the day I first saw wintry precipitation in New England. Today, though, it's 52˚F, sunny and windy.

3.* Gonna talk shop. The business of publishing that is. Frequently, people ask me for writing advice, and, almost without fail, I refuse to offer it. But here's something. If a magazine, especially a fairly prominent online science-fiction zine, isn't willing to pay more than 0.003¢/word for a reprint in return for (and I quote from the contract) "digital media rights," which said contract defines as "...all non-physical forms including but not limited to html, Kindle, iTune apps, Mobi, ePub, and others" (id est, everything imaginable) then you need to stay far, far away from these sorts of publishers. They have nothing to offer you. No, not even "visibility." But, though I ought to know better, I just signed such a contract, because I have mountains of stories available for reprint, and when I agreed to the arrangement – several months ago – I had no idea what comprehensive electronic rights were expected in return for the paltry $25 I'd agreed to as an advance. I only saw the contract on November 21st (this is for their December issue), though the reprint request was made by them two months earlier. In between, I had to stop them from rewriting portions of the story. Anyway, point being, I don't care what the online publication is, you and your "digital media rights" are worth more than 0.003¢/word. Last I checked, pro rates were still hovering between 3-5¢/word. And, by the way, this emphatically was not Subterranean Magazine or Clarkesworld, both of whom have always paid me very well for online rights. I feel like, more and more, we're working – all of us, not just authors – in an environment that aggressively discourages dissent, then punishes dissenters, those who aren't so happy to get any work that they'll work under any conditions and for any price.

4. Today, I will do my very best to finish Alabaster. That's just five pages of script.

5. Please don't forget Question @ Hand #5!

6. I lay awake night before last, in the arms of Monsieur Insomnia, and watched George P. Cosmatos' Leviathan (1989) for the third or fourth time. What sort of film do you get when you splice Ridley Scott's Alien to John Carpenter's The Thing, then set it at the bottom of the sea? Well, you get Leviathan, a film which shamelessly steals from both those other films in almost every way possible. When I first saw it in theatres, I was furious. Later, on video, it just sort of bored me. But Monday night, watching it, I thought, Well, if I give Alien and The Thing each an A+ for Astounding, then I ought to give Leviathan a C for Could Have Been Worse, or Competent, or maybe for Cause I'm Only Half Awake. As the film has aged, it's easier to forgive the blatant plagiarism. Leviathan has taken on a questionable charm all its own. Peter Weller is truly fun to watch as he swaggers and scowls and uses the performance to bemoan the state of his career as it swirls round and round the drain. I actually love Peter Weller, and here he seems to be giving Cosmatos a well-deserved middle finger. And, too, Meg Foster autopilots her way through the role of the Tri-Oceanic Ice Queen rep giving the crew the shaft. It's those blue-white eyes of hers. But the rest of the cast is boring as dusty zwieback, though the monster/s is/are pretty cool. The whole thing with the sunken Russian ship and the blurry photos from its infirmary, that's nice, too. The tech is amusingly quaint (but not a tenth as convincing as the "used futures" seen in Alien and Blade Runner). As for the ending, it's clear neither the director nor the screenwriters were even trying to make sense. Still. Watch it if you can't sleep.

7. Tomorrow, I'll post the final cover for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. (It's not the one up at Amazon).

8. Here are photos from a spectacular sunset on Monday:

28 November 2011 )


Counting Fractions of Fractions of Pennies,
Aunt Beast

* Postscript (4:47 p.m.): The editor of the unnamed magazine has contacted me and withdrawn his offer to reprint the story for 0.003¢/word. This is really the best outcome. I would have withdrawn it myself, but didn't want them left in a lurch (though they'd hardly treated me with similar considerateness), what with the December issue looming. Now, I only wonder who told them about my post, as I'm pretty damn sure he doesn't read my blog. And I wonder how far the news of my evil treachery will flow through the grapevine, and if I'll be blacklisted by others of this caliber. We take responsibility for the outcome of our actions, if we choose to act.
greygirlbeast: (river2)
Cold and sunny here in Providence. Tonight, we are promised it will be colder, but still mostly clear, for the Steel Yard annual iron pour. Meanwhile, we have a winter storm watch set to begin tomorrow at five p.m. and run until early Sunday morning. The first nor'easter of the year, and early. Looks like most of New England's going to get hit, but it also looks like we're in a narrow band that will escape the worst of the weather. Yay, us. I'd really like to have another six weeks or so until I have to worry about the blizzards. Anyway, as long as weather predictions are being made, I predict this is going to be a long and bad, bad winter.

Yesterday, we made it through the last two chapters of Blood Oranges. What a weird book. But, also, what a funny book. How did I do that? It's pretty much Buffy the Vampire Slayer directed by Quentin Tarantino. I think maybe the more interesting question is why did I do that? Was I trying to purge the deleterious effect that writing The Drowning Girl: A Memoir had upon me? That seems to be the popular opinion, but I can't say for sure. But it does hold up, and that's a great relief. I shall think of it as a belated tonic against the waning ParaRom market. I won't even dignify "ParaRom" with the sobriquet "genre." Not even "subgenre." It's just a market. You know, like varieties of porn. No, wait. I like porn. Porn is useful, and has dignity. Especially the creepy stuff from South Korea.

Oh, and I'm thinking of calling the obligatory sequel Fay Grimmer. No one will get the Hal Hartley reference who isn't meant to get it.

Today, it's back to work on Project Arrowhead for the MiBs at No Such Agency. As I said to Spooky, it's going to be the first long day of a long weekend at the beginning of a long winter.

Last night, in the rain, sleet, and snow, we went forth into the darkness to run errands. I got two new (and badly needed) pairs of shoes for the winter. I went all last winter in my Cros, coupled with New Zealand bedsocks. Which is really no fit state of affairs. Anyway, and the cat food/litter place, we had to go there, too, and also get dinner, and it must have been nine p.m. by the time we got home.

After dinner, there was RIFT. Mostly, dailies and world-event stuff, and then we watched Michael Tolkin's The Rapture (1991). I'd not seen it since the video release in 1992 or whenever, but after seeing Red State, and discovering that Spooky had never seen The Rapture, I very much needed to see it again. Well, I could have done without David Duchovny's mullet. But the rest of the film has aged very well. There are few better examples of the "Christian horror film." It's sort of Red State turned inside out, and the horror isn't so much what people are willing to believe (though that's bad enough). The horror lies in the objective existence of a sadistic "god" who demands it be loved, like a spoiled child demanding attention. It will be loved, or you will be damned. It will be loved, and you will destroy yourself for it's love, or you'll spend forever alone. Even if you are a "good" person, it will still damn you, unless you love it. In the final moments of the film, the film's protagonist redeems herself by finding her own salvation simply by telling the Bully in the Sky that no, she won't love it. "Who forgives God?", a question asked moments before the climax, is especially apt. So, yes, this is a keeper. A film which doesn't so much question the cartoonish Biblical eschatology, as it questions the ethics of a omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who would subject its creations to a living hell, just to get its ya-yas off. You know, just because. Like any shitty parent or schoolyard bully. See it, if you've not already. And if it sounds like the sort of film that would piss you off because you're a good Christian, then you especially need to see it. If you're that sort of person, this film was made for you. It won't change your mind. But, nonetheless.

We read more of Wildwood.

And now, I see the black van has pulled up outside.

Off to the Airbase,
Codename: Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
A freakish bit of weather yesterday. The temperature climbed to 91F or 92F (depending on the source) by early afternoon, and the heat lingered into the evening. I sweated while I worked, and we had trouble getting to sleep for the heat. Today, the high will only be in the low 70sF, and tomorrow the high 50sF. Such is weather in New England.

I received a truly wonderful bit of news last night regarding The Red Tree, but which I am not at liberty to share for another week or so.

Yesterday I wrote 1,009 words on Chapter 1 of The Wolf Who Cried Girl, and may have finally found my way in.

I'm loving Jónsi's Go. This is, so far, my favorite album of the year.

I have an Ursula K. Le Guin quote I posted to Facebook yesterday, and I'd like to include it here. As I've mentioned, I've been rereading her Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction (1979). This bit is from "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie":

Many readers , many critics, and most editors speak of style as if it were an ingredient of a book, like sugar in a cake, or something added onto a book, like the frosting on a cake. The style, of course, is the book. If you remove the cake, all you have left is the recipe. If you remove the style, all you have left is a synopsis of the plot.

I have been saying this for many years, of course, though never so eloquently.

Last night, I tried a bit of rp in Insilico, but I was really to hot and frazzled from writing to be of any use to anyone. So, Spooky and I watched Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes again, and I still adore it. Every frame is a delight.

Now, time to make the doughnuts. But here are the last photos from Sunday, of a building across the street (south) of the Prym Mill. All interior shots were taken through windows (the last two are my favorites):

4 April 2010, Pt. 4 )
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
Cloudy today, but warm. Overcast. There was a bit of rain before I got out of bed.

I'd rather not talk about yesterday. I'd rather not, but clearly I'm going to talk about it anyway. Yesterday, I realized something about The Wolf Who Cried Girl I'd not realized before. I may have found its voice, and the framing device that makes sense of the fact that it's a first-person narrative. And then I wrote 771 words, and read them to Kathryn, and had yet another realization, that most of them would have to go. I may have made a beginning yesterday, but if so, only just. And even the small part I may keep will need rewording to some degree. I have only five months to get this novel written. I have a handful of pages, at best.

This morning I awoke from nightmares, which kept me briefly disoriented, and then, coming back to myself I thought, "If I kill myself today, I will not have to write this novel."

Yesterday, FedEx brought the signature sheets for the Subterranean Press edition of the forthcoming Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan sword and sorcery anthology, which includes my story "The Sea Troll's Daughter." I received contracts from my agent for "digital verbatim text only display and download rights" for Kreatur, the German-language edition of Low Red Moon. I reread portions of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction (1979). I exchanged emails with Sonya Taaffe ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) regarding programming at this years ReaderCon. I learned that "The Madam of the Narrow Houses" will be reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women. Gordon Duke ([livejournal.com profile] thingunderthest) sent me a link to a very much appreciated piece in Salon.com on Amazon "reviews". I drank coffee, limeade made with pomegranates, and Red Bull. I made a halfhearted attempt to clean my keyboard. No, not really even halfhearted. One ventricle, at best.

This morning I learned of another very positive review of The Ammonite Violin & Others, but I'm not at liberty to say more until May 15th.

And here are more photos of the Prym mill in Dayville, CT, as promised:

4 April 2010 Pt. 2 )
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
Another warm and sunny morning in Providence. This chair and this window and this desk are far more pleasant places to be when there is sun coming in through the window, and when it's not freezing outside.

And any day that begins with an email from my agent informing me that a "scary cease-and-desist order" is being sent to an unscrupulous peddler of cheaply printed POD "books," one who has recently been offering an unauthorized edition of one of my short-story collections via Amazon...well, a day like that must hold some promise.

Also, the pastel, leporine horror of Zombie Jesus Day has passed, and that's always a good thing.

So...maybe things are looking up. Never mind that I've already been barraged today with news of the death of the Aral Sea, and of a Chinese oil tanker that's about the break apart on the Great Barrier Reef, and...never mind.

---

Yesterday, it very quickly became obvious that I was too ill from the Ambien and not having slept to hope to get anything written. Instead, Spooky and I left the House about 3 p.m., and retraced the route we'd driven on Saturday night. We left Rhode Island on the Hartford Pike, and drove as far west into Connecticut as Pomfret, in Windham County. Saturday, we'd turned north here, at the intersection of the Hartford Pike and Route 97. Yesterday, we turned south, onto Wolf Den Road, which skirts the western edge of Mashamoquet State Park. For me, this sort of research is pretty much the same as "scouting locations" for a film. That's how I think of it, anyway. It serves the same purpose. Finding the places where scenes in a novel will occur. Standing there, smelling the air, getting to know it as well as I can. We drove south on Wolf Den Road to Brooklyn Road, then circled back north on Valentine Road to the Hartford Pike. The woods were magnificent, just slipping into spring. I spotted white oaks and red maples and mountain laurel. The sky was wide and bottomless, that hungry blue laid out overhead and the sun blazing alabaster. This is where the novel begins.

Before reaching Pomfret, we stopped to examine an old mill in the Dayville district of Killingly. We'd noticed it on Saturday night, but in the darkness it had been little more than a hulking shape. We're both fascinated by industrial ruin, so we had to have a better look. The mill sits just south of Dayville Pond, and Five Mile River winds by on its eastern edge. The site is fenced off, so there was no danger of us actually entering the treacherously dilapidated structure. We did notice that a great section of roof had collapsed. And a little later, when we stopped for coffee, we noticed a local newspaper headline that read, "Part of roof collapses at vacant mill: 40-foot section caved in on Friday." So, the day before we first saw the mill, the roof had collapsed, which seemed somehow oddly ominous. Back home, Spooky found a bit about the mill online. It opened in March 1883, as the Sabin L. Sayles Company, a manufacturer of woolen goods. In 1895, it became the Dayville Woolen Company, which in 1902-1903 was incorporated as the Assawaga Company. Finally, in 1939, the mill was purchased by a German wire manufacturer, "...William Prym and Company and began manufacturing straight pins, safety pins, cover buttons, snap fasteners, and hooks and eyes." So ended its long history as a textile mill. Near as we can discover, the William Prym Company ceased operations in Dayville in 1995, and the mill has sat vacant for fifteen years. It was recently purchased by a Pomfret businessman, who planned its renovation, though I do not know to what end. We took something like sixity photos of the mill, some of which I'll post.

Driving west, we listened to the Smiths and Massive Attack. Heading home, David Bowie. We made it back to Providence about 7 p.m.

Damn, my coffee is cold, and there are too many sweaters in my office. Five is too many. Anyway, photos behind the cut, and will be more in later entries:

4 April 2010 )
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Sunny and warm here in Providence. I finally begin to believe spring has arrived.

Yesterday, I sat here all day and wrote less than 300 words on the new beginning of the first chapter of The Wolf Who Cried Girl, but I'm not sure any of them are words I'll actually hang onto. So, the beginning has, I suspect, yet to begin in earnest.

Novels are always difficult things for me to get underway. I refuse not to fear a bad "first draft," as I do not write novels in drafts. I write the novel. If it has to be rewritten, I've failed to do my job right the first time. And, truthfully, this is no slower a way to work than authors who take for granted that three or four drafts will be needed to get things correct. I cannot abide repetitive tasks, and, for me, that's what rewriting is, a tedious, repetitive task. If it were necessary, I'd not be a novelist.

I know that much of the novel is set in Olneyville, and I know that the protagonist (to use the word loosely) takes long nocturnal drives in rural western Rhode Island and northeastern Connecticut to help herself through those times when she's having trouble sculpting. After sitting at the iMac all day yesterday, I left the House, and Kathryn drove me out Hartford Avenue from Olneyville Square, west towards the state line. The sunset was fiery, a red-orange inferno hovering above the purple horizon. Hartford Avenue becomes Route 6A/Hartford Pike, through Johnston and Scituate and Foster (and south of Ponaganset and Gloucester), and we followed 6A all the way to Connecticut. The air through the windows of the car was chilly, and smelled of growing things and receding flood waters and, occasionally, of dead skunks. We passed Rhode Island's highest point, Jerimoth Hill, a lowly 812 feet above sea level. The land out that way alternates between marshy woods and rocky, forested hills strewn with boulders. Old houses loom along the roadside. The night was filled with the sound of frogs. It's always a comfort to hear frogs these days, given how their numbers have declined in recent decades.

About 7: 30 p.m., we drove through East Killingly, Killingly Center, Dayville, and Pomfret. At Mashamoquet State Park, we passed Wolf Den Drive (named for Isreal Putnam, who is reputed to have murdered Connecticut's last wolf in a nearby cave in 1742). By this time, it was full dark, and we turned north onto Ye Old Windham Road (also Route 97/Hampton Road), a narrow two-lane affair bordered by dense tangles of hardwoods and greenbriars, drystone walls and pastureland. We circled back to 6A, and headed home around 8 p.m. I'm fairly certain the book's opening scene will be take place somewhere near Route 97 in Connecticut (though most of the novel is set in Providence). Somewhere along the road, we stopped at a doughnut and coffeeshop called Baker's Dozen (buy a dozen, get thirteen). Very good doughnuts, like Dunkin' Doughnuts used to taste. On the way back to Providence, I dozed a bit. We made it back about 9 p.m., and stopped for Chinese takeout. Driving west, we listened to Arcade Fire (Neon Bible); driving home, we listened to Radiohead (Iron Lung).

And later, insomnia. I slept maybe six hours, with the help of Ambien (which means I'm still not awake). It's never good to go to bed with a mood as black as mine was last night, but I tired of trying to keep myself distracted and only wanted to lie down. Not sleep. I rarely want to sleep.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
1. A sunny day again here in Providence. It's very good to have the sun back after its recent extended absence. The meteorologists predict a high of 57F, which means windows will be opened.

2. The silence of the last two days has followed, largely, from the fact that I'm not getting anything written. Which follows, chiefly, from the fact that I'm still not sleeping. I think this stretch of insomnia is beginning its third week. Mostly, there's been exhaustion, anger, depression, worry, and more exhaustion. Nothing I want to write entries about, and (I assume) nothing anyone wants to read. I'm trying to think of good things from the last two or three days. Friday, I received my contributor's copies of The Mammoth Book of the Best of the Best New Horror: Two Decades of Dark Fiction. I got the year 1997, which was, by the way, the first year I made The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror (I've had stories selected for nine of those volumes). Which means it's "Emptiness Spoke Eloquent," though Steve Jones kindly let me rewrite the story a bit, so it's not quite the story that was reprinted in the '97 volume (#9). Those last two sentences could use a rewrite, but I'm not up to it, and trust you've muddled safely through. Anything else worth remembering? Streamed the new episodes of Spartacus: Blood and Sand (still good porn) and Caprica (still impressing me). That's about it, though. Well, except for yesterday.

3. Yesterday was the rain date for my trip to the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, to meet up with Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) and Greer ([livejournal.com profile] nineweaving), but Sonya was feeling under the weather...so we've postponed again. Instead of Boston, Spooky and I took advantage of the sunny, almost warm day and headed south and west to Connecticut. It's a hideous stretch of interstate, I-95 through western Rhode Island, and much worse this time of year. All stark, leafless trees brown beneath a white-blue sky. It burns the eyes and mind, that sight, slashed down the middle with black asphalt. But it led us across the state line to Mystic. There were already tourists, or so it seemed. We avoided them as best we could. An hour or so was passed in the shops along West Main Street. I found a cast-iron mermaid exactly like one I'd seen in the very same shop back on the summer of '06, and have often regretted not getting. So I bought it for the kitchen mantle. After Mystic, we followed 215 down to Noank, where neither Spooky nor I had been before. Narrow streets and pretty houses, boats and lobster pots. Out across the water we could see Goat Island, and beyond that, Fishers Island. It was quite a bit chillier by the water, but also mercifully free of people.

We headed back to Providence about five p.m. (CaST), and I dozed all the way home. The van is about the only place I seem able to sleep (without the aid of Ambien) these days. We stopped for Chinese takeout (dumplings and beef lo mein). I spent the night with WoW and Insilico. At 4:30 a.m., still trying to sleep, I read Lovecraft's "Dagon" (1917) for the bezillionth or so time. I did manage to get to sleep before five, and I must have slept maybe five and a half hours.

4. Spooky made a new doll, which you may see here. It is a lovely, gloomy doll. It'll be going up for sale on her Dreaming Squid Dollworks Etsy shop once she's finished with it.

5. Geoffrey ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark) is dropping by tonight, and it will be nice to have company for an evening.

6. Not at all happy with the Oscars this year. I may post my own picks later today. It truly was a baffling year, and not for want of wonderful films. I was pleased to see that Christoph Waltz won for Inglourious Basterds. Though Neil was very dapper in his jacket and waistcoat (made by [livejournal.com profile] kambriel).

7. Finally, I have thirteen photos from yesterday's trip to Mystic and Noank, behind the cut:

7 March 2010 )
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
What is this obsession with writing it all down? Has some part of me begun to believe it isn't real, these experiences, unless I write them down? Or that they are not valid, or won't prove lasting, unless I commit them to this journal? It's been eating at me.

Yesterday, we left Providence about one p.m., and drove north, past Boston, to Salem. Along the road, only the willows seemed to be greening. There were red splotches of cranberry bogs. We spent part of the afternoon exploring witchcraft shops (an annoying number of which were closed). We found a couple that were not too touristy and not of the airy-fairy, fluffy-bunny variety, which was refreshing. Places that weren't terrified of the "left path." Some old guy on the street, wearing so many pentagrams I lost count, showed us we were holding the map of Salem upside down. We drove past the House of the Seven Gables and Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace, but it was already late, and we didn't stop. On the waterfront, we saw a huge sailing ship, Friendship of Salem. The city has a strange effect on me. Salem, I mean. On the one hand, there's all the tacky Disneyesque crap, the wax museums, the "haunted tours," and whatnot. And then there's the history of the trials (which has a lot less to do with witchcraft than with mass hysteria and general intolerance). And then there's the sense that, ironically, Salem draws genuine practitioners of various occult traditions. And the end result, in my head, is a weird clash, an almost dizzying sort of cognitive dissonance.

Late in the afternoon, we drove down to Marblehead. I wish I could see Marblehead as it was a hundred or a hundred and fifty years ago, before it was prettied up and gentrified. The tide was out, and just as the sun was setting, we found a marvelous rocky cove on Front Road. Later, back home, I learned that it's called Fort Seawall Cove. There was a seawall. The beach here reminded me of Ireland, in and around Dublin, which no other New England beach has ever really done. There was beach glass everywhere. Great clumps of bladder wrack, huge mounds of snail and mussel shells. Tilted beds of Precambrian granite. We stayed almost until dark, and left reluctantly. I think we made it home about 8:30 p.m.

Here are three photos from yesterday:

9 April 2009 )


---

And I should repost links to the latest round of eBay auctions and, also, to Emma the Beltane Bunneh.
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Honestly, it was not my intention to offend anyone yesterday with my comments about WoW. Truly. But, that said, those are my honest observations, and I stand by them until such time (if any) as the game shows me that I'm wrong. And, for whatever it's worth, despite what I said, I came home yesterday and spent hours getting my blood elf warlock to Level 35, when I should have just gone to bed. As I said yesterday on Facebook, the machines will win by time suckage alone. And, please, guys. Remember, it's just a game.

A glorious day yesterday. We left the house about 1:30 p.m. (CaST), and drove north and east out of Providence and into southeastern Massachusetts, through New Bedford and Fairhaven, heading towards the Cape on 195. It was a brilliant, beautiful day, warm, and just enough clouds that I had something to hang onto. I still have not adjusted to how much farther south the sun seems from Rhode Island (as compared with Atlanta). The light changes so quickly, and it looks like late afternoon when morning is hardly finished. We left 195 near Buzzard's Bay, switching to Route 6, and crossed the Sagamore Bridge (c. 1933-1935) over the canal and onto Cape Cod. There were vast bogs filled with floating cranberries the color of dried blood. We took Route 6 across the upper and mid portions of the Cape, past Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Brewster, Orleans, and so forth. It's hardly the scenic route. In fact, I refer to it as the Massachusetts Turnpike. But, we left so late, we had to make good time to reach Newcomb Hollow before sunset. We didn't leave the highway until the outer Cape, at Eastham, where we turned east towards the sea, down to Ocean View Drive, which carried us past White Crest Beach and Calhoun Hollow Beach. Newcomb Hollow Beach lies at the dead end of Ocean View Drive, east of Wellfleet. The land is all dunes and stunted confiers of a species I don't recognize, limbs contorted by the weather into fantastic configurations. We parked in the mostly empty lot at Newcomb Hollow, and walked down to the beach.

The sea was wild, and the day was slipping away fast. There are tall cliffs here, so the beach was already shielded from the light, but was catching on the waves farther out. As soon as we were on the sand, I realized that I didn't know whether the shipwreck lay to the north or the south of us. But there were high bluffs to the south, and I recalled Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) mentioning bluffs. So, we took our chances and went in that direction. And won the slightly educated coin toss. We found the remains of the schooner maybe 200 yards from the parking lot (that distance is really a guess). It was washed ashore last January (the 28th, 2008). The tide was going out, and the waterline was just below the wreck (it was an hour past high tide), which was mostly buried by sand. Which is to say, there wasn't much exposed for us to see, and because of our timing, we're lucky to have seen anything at all. Follow this link to someone's photos of the wreck (taken just after it appeared) at Flickr, and you'll get a much better idea of the schooner than what our photos (below) show. Worth the drive, nonetheless.

However, I was distracted from the ship almost at once, by great exposures of a blue-grey clay in the cliff behind us. Studded with all manner of clasts, and capped with the dune sand, I guessed the clay must be of Pleistocene age, though, my knowledge of New England geology is still rudimentary. I spent some time poking around in the clay, guessing diligent prospecting might reveal fossil bones. Indeed, when I got home and looked about online, it turns out that these clays have yielded remains of mammoths, bison, and other "Ice Age" mammals. After a while, we headed back towards the parking lot and just sat in the sand and watched the waves. The wind was cold, but it hardly seemed to matter. We were greeted, at some point, by a very enthusiastic little mutt of a dog, who dashed up, bounced over us, and then dashed away again. I didn't want to leave. I never want to leave, of course. But I might have a new favorite beach. The air was so amazingly clear and smelled so clean. Someone had stuck a single red rose into the sand. I stared out at the horizon, thinking of Africa and Europe on the other side of the Atlantic (almost 3,000 nautical miles away).

As twilight came on, we headed, reluctantly, back to the car, and decided to drive up towards Provincetown, to go very near the northernmost end of the Cape. We made it past Provincetown, north to Herring Cove Beach, on the western side of the Cape. It was dark by the time we parked, and there was a truly ferocious and freezing gale off the bay. In the sky, we could see perfectly the alignment of the waxing crescent moon, Venus, and Jupiter. This alignment won't come back around for another 44 years. We made it out to the beach proper, and Spooky even somehow managed to find a shard of beach glass in the dark. We have to head back to Herring Cove in daylight, because it seems perfect for beachcombing, in the winter, when the tourists aren't about. I played Sigur Rós and Portishead on the long drive back to Providence, and I dozed a little, and really, it was just such a perfect day. I have seen few finer places to stand in the presence of Panthalassa than Cape Cod.

Okay. This has gotten long, and I should go. Though it's another day off, I do have some writing-related email to answer. Then...I don't know. Nothing. Nothing sounds pretty good to me. There are photos, behind the cut:

December 1, 2008 )


All photographs Copyright © 2008 by Kathryn A. Pollnac and Caitlín R. Kiernan
greygirlbeast: (Blood elf)
So, I need to make this short, as today we're haded out to Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, on Cape Cod. Last year, the remains of a 19th-Century ship washed ashore there, and I need to see them, and the day is going to be warm (57F) and sunny. There will be photos.

Good news from an editor this morning, regarding "The Colliers' Venus (1893)," so, you know, "Booya!" and all.

If you have not received Sirenia Digest #36, and are, in fact, a subscriber, then you need to email Spooky at crk_books(at)yahoo(dot)com, and she'll figure out why not and see you get your copy. But, by now, everyone should have the issue.

I have decided to print out all the issues of Sirenia Digest and have them bound. It's weird that I have none of them printed. But I do it all on the iMac, and printing them has always seemed a waste of paper. But I'd like, now, to be able to hold them and put them on the shelf.

Yesterday, not much of anything. I tried to just rest. And I suck at just resting. So, instead, mostly I listened to Joy Division and the Editors and wandered back into WoW. I'd not played in several days. I leveled my blood-elf paladin, Hanifah, from 15 to 17, all in Tranquillian, in the Ghostlands south of Silvermoon City. Spooky helped a little, with her Tauren shaman, Usiku (Swahili for night). But I continue to lose interest in WoW. I think, given that it is only a game and not useful for rp that I can only judge it as a videogame (and no, hanging out in a tavern and chatting in lolspeak and Renfairese while teen elf sluts, who, in RL, are mostly all boys, dance semi-clad on tabletops doesn't count as rp). And it's just not a terribly good videogame. It's pretty. A lot of hard work has gone into the world building. I see all that. But it kind of bugs me that, when all is said and done, the game is probably the most popular computer game in history because anyone and everyone can play it. And play it equally well. Assuming that you can afford to buy the game and pay the monthly charge (and that you have a computer that's compatible, and aren't blind), WoW is about as level as any playing field will ever get. I stare at the screen and use keystrokes and click my mouse. The only way that I'll not make it as far in the game as it's possible to make it is if I cease to play. There is simply no skill, of any sort, involved in playing. So, after a while, it becomes pretty damned repetitive. It's making me miss Tomb Raider, where, you know, there are puzzles, and hand-eye coordination is actually a factor. We'll see.

Yesterday. Well, I took a long, hot bath. I downloaded the most recent iTunes update. I did a tiny bit of housecleaning. Spooky made a wonderful dinner, that included asparagus, so yay. We watched last year's Xmas episode of Doctor Who again ("Voyage of the Damned"), and I'm still ticked that Astrid didn't become the new companion, or Sally Sparrow, or anyone but Donna. Then we watched two more eps of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I was especially impressed with the non-linear, fractured narration of ""Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today." Lena Headey is growing on me.

Okay. Gotta go. The platypus is chomping at the bit.

Salem

Jun. 18th, 2008 09:38 am
greygirlbeast: (Pagan1)
This is my quote for the day, from Victor Anderson — White magic is poetry, black magic is anything that actually works.

Cyd Charisse has died. She was 86, which seems oddly impossible.

Yesterday, though it was no doubt terribly irresponsible of me, what with having this mountain of work, and being not quite unpacked, etc., I had to get out of the house. The day before, Monday, was the first day since we arrived in Rhode Island that I'd not gone outside, and I will not return to those old habits. At least not until the goddamn snow starts. Anyway, about one pm, we took I-95 out of the city, past Boston, and north to Salem and Marblehead. It wasn't a long visit (I was thinking of you, [livejournal.com profile] kambriel), and mostly I was trying to find a new and very particular athame, and the witchcraft shop in Tiverton (RI) wasn't open.

The lion's share of what I saw of both Salem and Marblehead was beautiful. Had I known how gorgeous the area is when we were looking for a place, I might have settled there, north of Boston, instead of in Providence. Anyway, though I had been repeatedly warned, I was unprepared for the experience of Salem. On the one hand, as I said, beautiful place. And we walked up Liberty Street from Derby to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial Park, which wasn't founded (by the way) until 1990. It sits at one edge of "The Burying Point," where graves date back to 1637. The sense of time here still plays havoc with my mind. Which is odd, given how comfortable I am with Deep Time, with geological time. In the South, history only goes back so far — that is, the history of the Europeans who came to this continent long after the coming of the Asians who became the Native Americans. It's unusual to see gravestones or buildings dating back past the middle part of the 19th Century.

So, yeah, all that time. And coming unexpectedly upon the Memorial, I was taken off guard. By it, and by my emotional reaction to it. A small park whose stone walls are lined with stone benches, each one engraved with the name and date and means of execution of one of the many who perished in the Salem hysteria between 1692 and 1693. Some 150 were arrested, and twenty-nine were convicted of "the capital felony of witchcraft." Of those (according to Wikipedia), "Nineteen of the accused, fourteen women and five men, were hanged. One man who refused to enter a plea was crushed to death under heavy stones in an attempt to force him to do so. At least five more of the accused died in prison." The man who was crushed to death, Giles Corey, he has a bench, as do Rebecca Nurse and Susannah Martin. I was familiar with the latter two names, as the former figures in Arthur Miller's The Crucible and the latter was written of by John Greenleaf Whittier (and is the subject of a folk song I've always loved). Coming upon familiar names, it was somehow even more disquieting.

We walked in the old graveyard a bit. There was a fantastically twisted old oak (a Swamp White Oak, Quercus bicolor, I believe). I found two silk roses, blown off some plot or another — one red, one white — and carried them back to Susannah Martin's bench, where I left them.

We walked from Liberty, past the Peabody Essex Museum (founded 1799 as the East India Marine Society), to the array of shops along Essex Street (closed to motor traffic). Here's where the weirdness began. Salem's relationship to the witch trials is somewhat schizoid (and I say this as an outsider who has visited once). Visit the Memorial, and there's a distinct sense of solemnity regarding those murdered men and women. Stroll along Essex Street, among the tourists, and one encounters a different attitude, that the trials are to be treated as a bit of grotesque hilarity, a cultural oddity good for a few chills and laughs. Trolley-shaped buses (open air) drive loads of tourists to and fro, and people gawk and point while tour guides relate horror stories. I lost count of the cheesy museums devoted to witchcraft, with their leering, snaggle-toothed crones, their waxwork terrors to give upstanding Xtian folks a good-natured fright. The mountains of kitsch and tschotkes being sold, the T-shirts with witty slogans, and so forth.

And maybe I'll seem humourless, and maybe I'll seem to suffer from my own brand of hysteria, but...even given that most of the people accused of witchcraft in Salem Village probably were Xtains and certainly not witches, and that it would still be more than 260 years before Gerald Gardner invented modern Wicca...how does this differ, in its fundamental nature, from an amusement park at Dachau or Buchenwald? This is how it struck me. I don't know that it could have struck me any other way. And I'm not one of those Wiccans who's offended by Halloween and the Wicked Witch of the West and Harry Potter (I rather love all three, in fact). I am not humourless. But those leering faces, the carnival atmosphere, the exploitation, it got to me. And Spooky says it wasn't even a bad tourist day.

Anyway, we found the shop we'd come to find — The Broom Closet on Central Street. They didn't have the athame I was looking for, though we did get a couple of books and a new chalice. One of the books, Sea Magic by Sandra Kynes (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2008), impressed me simply because it's author uses footnotes and cites her sources, and good scholarship is all too rare in Pagan publishing. In fact, it's mostly nonexistent. I also picked up a copy of The Witches Almanac. The day was hot, and my feet hurt, and we headed back to Providence about four pm or so.

There's not much else to yesterday. Last night, leftover chili for dinner, and more unpacking. But we're almost done. I learned that [livejournal.com profile] sovay will likely be visiting us this weekend, which is cool. I baked an apple pie (it's good to have a kitchen again, one that doesn't make you want to scream). I worked on the review I'm writing for Publisher's Weekly. We went to bed rather early, just a little after one ayem. As for Monday, it was all spent putting together Sirenia Digest #31, which I hope to send out to subscribers on June 26th. Oh, there are photos from yesterday (behind the cut). But wait! Only a couple of days remain on the "cephaloflap" and "doodleflap" auctions. You snooze, you loose. You loose big cardboard monster doodles from my Great Northward Transmigration, in this instance. Anyway, photos from yesterday:

June 17, 2008 )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday I wrote 1,303 words on a piece that, for now, is known simply as "Untitled 27." I started with a sentence about the passage of time, uncertain where it was headed, but now it's looking a bit like "Untitled 23" — the piece about the wayward faerie girl and the Queen of Decay (Sirenia Digest #10) — filtered through certain Smashing Pumpkins and NIN songs ("Right Where You Belong" from With Teeth springs to mind). And with "male" characters instead of "female" characters. And as Bowie's Baby Grace Blue says, "I think something is going to be horrid." I'm liking it.

And here I am, Day Three of the Mordorian Death March, though there will be no actual marching again today. Tomorrow, though, I'll head out across Nurn, bound for the River Guthrant, beyond which I should be able to locate Thaurband and the Thaur Road. I will be merciless.

There were thunderstorms again yesterday evening. I love evening thunderstorms. After dinner, after the rain, Spooky and I walked. And then we watched My Fair Lady (1964) on TCM, and then I had a bath, and then we just talked for a couple of hours. Trying to figure out how to get from Atlanta to New England for good, once and for all. If I could do it without selling all this goddamn furniture. We're still thinking about Salem, which would be wonderful, and about Providence, maybe some place like Wakefield or Peacedale. If I had my druthers, we would be moving to Cambridge, but the rents are sky high anywhere that near Boston. Most of my life has been lived in the South, and I do fear the new England winters, but there's nothing here for me, nothing but inertia. Nothing but the weather, and that hardly seems a good reason to keep Spooky in exile. And I know we talked about other things, but they escape me just now. Spooky fell asleep about two thirty, but I was up until 4 a.m. or so reading Parini's Steinbeck biography.

Spooky just this second added a new bird to our "yard list": a Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus). Cool.

I guess that's it for now. My grateful thanks to the folks who have sent me birthday gifts, as we near the 26th and the Big -03. This year I have told Spooky I would like a German-chocolate cake. There hasn't been a cake the last couple of years; at least, I don't think there has been. But this feels like a cake birthday. Anyway, yeah, the wish list is here, should you like to contribute to the Great Distraction of 2007. The platypus says that I have to go write now. I am slave to a monotreme...

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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