greygirlbeast: (Default)
And I begin

No. Here.

Happy birthday, David Lynch! And Federico Fellini!

The snow finally came last night, and more will come tomorrow. We're about to go forth and do what errands must be done. But first, I'll write this journal entry. Because I wish to remember yesterday, for one thing.

We left Providence a little after one thirty (CaST) and made it to New Haven (CT) by three-thirty (also CaST). There were snow flurries along the highway, from a sky that was as sunny as it was cloudy. But they were the sorts of cloud that drop snow. I read from Lightspeed: Year One while Spooky drove and kept me informed about the flurries and birds and dead racoons. We parked off Whitney, on Sachem Street (saw a bumper sticker at the labs: "Honk If You Understand Punctuated Equilibrium"), and I got about two hours with the dinosaurs at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Mostly, I sat on the wooden benches and stared up at the creatures Marsh named, the legacy of Richard Swan Lull, and George Ostrom, and Rudolph Zallinger's famous The Age of Reptiles mural (1943-1947) bringing it all to life (no matter how inaccurate we may now know it to be; many of our own imaginings will be disproven in due course – and I am not surprised LJ doesn't know how to spell the past participle of disprove; of course, I maybe misusing the past participle, but that doesn't absolve LJ of its ignorance).

And sure, these are the old circa 1930s-40s "tail-dragging" dinosaur mounts. But those are the images of dinosaurs that I grew up with. Back before the Renaissance of the 1970s, before it was understood that most dinosaurs were active, endothermic creatures, not sluggish reptiles. Before it acknowledged that, not only did birds evolve directly from dinosaurs, but that "birds" are surviving theropod dinosaurs, and many Mesozoic theropods had feathers. And so forth. I am comforted by these old visions of blundering, ectothermic monsters.

At some point, I opened my iPad just to see if I could actually get reception in there. It felt a like horrible sacrilege, but I signed into the Yale server as a guest and posted to Facebook: "Writing from inside the dinosaur gallery at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. This is MY church." A testament to the cosmic circle. No beginning. No end. Life, being a transient state of matter, and so here is my church.

Spooky was off looking at taxidermied crows and archaeological doodads, but when she returned, we went upstairs together to see live snakes in the children's "Discovery Room." One thing that makes the Yale Peabody so precious to me is that, while acknowledging science education for children, it hasn't turned itself into a theme park, as have so many American museums. Those that have allowed budgetary panic to morph them into nightmares of "edutainment" (Oh, fuck. LJ doesn't know disproven, but it knows the vile portmanteau edutainment. Fuck.). The Peabody is still a place where I can sit in peace with the past. Where there is still a stately air of respect for science and its endeavors. Truth is, the Great Hall at the Peabody calms me more than any of my meds, or any story I will ever write, or any painting I will ever paint.

Here are some photos:

19 January 2012 )

We left about 5:30 CaST, and made it back to Providence around 8 p.m. The snow came in earnest about nine or ten. The sky was creamsicle. I love creamsicle night skies.

Since my last LJ entry, I have – in stray moments – been reading short fiction, all from the aforementioned Lightspeed: Year One. Tananarive Due's "Patient Zero" (2008), Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "The Observer" (2008), David Tallerman's Jenny's Sick (2010), Anne McCaffrey's "Velvet Fields" (1973), and Eric Gregory's "The Harrowers" (2011). I liked Gregory and Tallerman the best; most of the stories would have benefited by being a bit longer, especially "Velvet Fields," which felt like a synopsis. The McCaffrey piece is little more than an outline, really. The Gregory piece felt short, but mostly that's just because it left me wanting more, which is a good trick for an author to turn and suggests no obligation to actually provide more.

Also, here's a rather good entry by [ profile] yuki_onna on the fluidity of names, on those of us who cast off our birth names before we become artists. And sexism.

I do mean to write about my feelings on internet piracy and SOPA/PIPA, but there's no time now. Spooky and I have to run errands before ice and more snow arrives, and I have email.

Like dinosaurs, the snow is helping.

Somewhat calmer,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Just something quick. I have tomorrow off, and we'll be heading off to Connecticut, to the Yale Peabody Museum.

I was somewhat impressed by toady's web protests against SOPA/PIPA, though Goggle's seemed halfhearted, at best. A shame Google, Twitter, and Facebook didn't shutdown. That would have made an impression.

All this said, I want no one, even for a second to think that I support internet piracy. I don't. However, I also don't believe in burning down a house to kill a termite. But...I'm going to explain in more details my feelings on SOPA/PIPA, internet freedom, copyright, and internet piracy in Friday's entry. And yeah, leaving comments disabled until Friday.

Until then...

Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (chi3)
I just noticed that the Booklist reviewer misspelled Dancy's surname as Flammarian.

As of tonight, it's been two weeks since we arrived in Rhode Island. I came here to find the story that would become Joey LaFaye. I came here for a change of scenery, to be some place less familiar, less stressful, some place where I could begin to shake off the exhaustion and monotony and prepare myself to begin another novel. And tonight, two weeks in, almost two thirds of the way into the trip, I have to say that I'm very close to admitting defeat.

I'm sure, in part, that this is simply a case of getting off on the wrong foot. We arrived on July 26th, and on July 27th I got the news of the the mess that Penguin has made of things. That morning, the morning of Thursday, July 27th, I'd made the first page of notes for Joey LaFaye. Since then, I've made no notes for the novel at all. I've hardly even been able to think about it, for worrying about this thing or that thing or the other. I think the only genuine breakthrough was in figuring out that the Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill was abandoned there by the Barker in the 1880s, and that Joey Lafaye is short for Joey Lafayette. I've considered Mystic, Stonington, and Watch Hill as the setting for the novel, but have done precious little in the way of getting to know those places as well as I need to get to know them.

Of course, in that regard, the tourists have also been an unspeakable and severe hindrance. They are everywhere, all the goddamn time. I can hardly see anything for them. Everywhere I turn, they are a sunburned, oily, yelping, all-consuming blot upon the landscape. They are a peculiar sort of necessary plague to these towns. I suppose that it's a kind of symbiosis, wherein the parasitic species (tourists) manage to convince the host species (small seaside towns) that their only hope for prosperity and survival is to become entirely subservient and dependent upon the nourishment brought by the gluttonous, consuming activities of the parasite. Today, we were in Mystic, and I would have given almost anything to have been able to see the town before it became only a Disneyesque self-parody. Whatever was there before — say seventy or eighty years ago, when Mystic was an actual seaport, not a theme-park seaport — it has almost been scrubbed away to make room for the needs of the tourists. Scrubbed away or sealed under glass. I'm reminded of Mommie Fortuna, who had to bewitch a real unicorn so that the people who came to her carnival (tourists) could see it as anything but an ordinary white mare. In Mystic, everywhere you turn, there are fake horns for the tourists to see, and the real unicorns have long since forgotten themselves.

I had vague plans of seeing the Mystic aquarium today, as long as I was there. But it was awash in hundreds and hundreds of people, all packed in there together, and admission was $19 per adult head, and I said screw it. We'd also thought about the seaport museum, but the crowds there were even worse, hundreds and hundreds of cars, and admission was $17 per person, and, after all, I'd have only been playing the role of parasite myself. It wasn't as bad as the mess down at Misquamicut. But, even so, I know this was merely the family-oriented/infotainment side of the same vile coin, and, finally, we fled back to Westerly and spent a little time in the library (which was closed when last we were there). But the tourists and the heat had sapped all my strength, and I couldn't think, much less read. I fell asleep on the way back to the cottage in Green Hill. It was the best sleep I've had in three days.

I've almost decided to cut my losses and head back to Atlanta early. The tourists, Penguin, the heat — all of it working together — it seems extremely unlikely anything good will come of this.

We shall see. There's a full moon tonight, and Spooky and I ought to be somewhere by the water, somewhere the sea is crashing against the rocks, watching the moonrise. But I do not have the energy, and I do not have the motivation. I am beginning to believe that the toursits may be exuding some heretofore unknown form of radiation, which slowly robs everything around them of anything like actual drive or enthusiasm. Not unlike Lovecraft's colour out of space. I can too easily imagine another forty or fifty years from now, and all that will remain of this place will be a brittle grey corpse, strewn with abandoned Starbuck's and Dunkin' Donuts and Johnny Rockets hamburger stands. Breathe and it will all collapse in a heap of dust.

Travel is never easy on me. The constant reader may recall my comments to that effect near the end of my last trip to Rhode Island, back in July '04. But this trip's like chewing glass and thumbtacks, and there's nothing but vinegar to wash it all down.

Oh, a few days ago, maybe late last week, we saw a bumpersticker in Wakefield, which read, "They call it tourist season, so why can't we shoot them?" I don't even live here, and those are my sentiments exactly.

97.5 miles

Aug. 7th, 2006 12:22 am
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Yesterday was a bit of a miscalculation all round, and, as such, something of a loss. The worst miscalculation was mistaking the weather for considerably cooler than it actually was; the second was leaving "home" several hours earlier than necessary to attend a performance of Romeo and Juliet at Wilcox Park in Westerly. The play was to begin at eight p.m. Expecting a crowd, and having read we could stake out a spot on the lawn as early as two p.m., we arrived in the park at two thirty. We selected a choice spot, no more than fifteen feet from the stage, left our chairs, and drove down to Stonington.

By the time we reached Stonington Village and the Lighthouse Museum, our mistake as regards the heat had become apparent. The sun was broiling. Still, we paid $5 each to see the little museum, but the temperature inside must have been in the high nineties. I was so busy sweating, I hardly looked at anything very closely. A motley assortment of antiques and relics, some related to whaling, some to the business of maintaining a lighthouse, but most having little in common with any single theme or subject. I recall coming down a flight of exceptionally narrow stairs, watching sweat drip from my forehead to the stones at my feet, then realizing that the banister I'd just closed my hand about was actually the handle of an very long harpoon set into the floor. It gave me a chill, though I can't say for certain this was not an effect of the heat. In the gift shop, we did purchase a very charming children's book about a cat — Joey Goes to Sea by Alan Villiers, illustrated by Victor J. Dowling (originally published in 1939). I think that was the high point of the lighthouse visit.

I escaped outside as soon as I felt I'd suffered my full $5 worth and sat on a stone wall, trying to catch a breeze from the dazzling blue-white bay. We'd parked at Stonington Point, adjacent to the old lighthouse. This is, by the way, the setting for the prologue of Murder of Angels, where Walter and Archer Day park. We drove back up Water Street, seeking what shade was to be had along the narrow streets, admiring, in our fevered and delirious way, the architecture and ivy and patches of tiger lilies. I reflected that it was a damned shame for any place with so many stone walls to be wholly devoid of lizards. We'd noticed some sort of craft fair on the way to the lighthouse and stopped to have a look, but at only a little past four, the affair was already shutting down. We spotted Stonington's beautiful library and thought we could escape the heat therein — only it was closed, because of the fair.

Woozy and dehydrated, we left Connecticut and headed back towards Westerly. Spooky took a detour to see a particularly old cemetery (though we didn't get out of the car, as there was no shade), then decided that I needed to be treated to the spectacle of human degeneracy that is Misquamicut State Beach. As if Galilee had not been enough. So, we headed down Scenic 1A to Winnapaug Road to Atlantic Avenue. And by the gods, there ought not be tiki huts and purple palm trees in New England. But there they were, in violation of all natural laws. We saw drunks shouting at bouncers outside bars. We saw a girl fight in the middle of the street. A giant bumblebee on a motorcycle tried to run us down. It was hideous. You'd think these people had never heard of malignancies of the epidermis caused by excessive exposure to rays of ultraviolet light. In horror, I was helpless to look away from the miles of greasy, sun-baked white folk until we at last reached the safety of Weekapaug Road, where we turned north again for 1A. Spooky says Misquamicut is much nicer in the winter, when there are no tourists. But I shall have to take her word for it, as I have seen enough.

I'm not quite sure what happened next. But we ended up back in Westerly at Wilcox Park, more than two hours too early for the play. Not many people had set out chairs and blankets, indicating to me that people in southwestern Rhode Island are more interested in bikinis and surfboards than in Shakespeare. We sat a while on the pink granite steps of the Westerly public library, admiring the gargoyles, smelling pizza cooking across the street, thankful that, at last, there were finally some clouds to hide us from the sun. The library was closed, of course. About six o'clock, we wandered back through the park — an exceptionally fine park — past enormous willows and a fountain and a great pool with giant water lilies, darting fishes, and clouds of dragonflies. A note to amateur entomologists: there are 133 species of dragon- and damselflies in the state of Rhode Island, 19 of which were discovered in 2002, 103 species in South Kingstown alone, and their precise identification is better left to the experts. To do otherwise is to invite madness. Oh, and there was a great bronze rabbit, inspired by the works of Margaret Wise Brown, which I climbed atop, perhaps believing the Runaway Bunny would take me someplace with cold beer and polar bears. By that point, we'd decided we were too far gone for Shakespeare. Hell, we were probably too far gone for the works of Margaret Wise Brown. We retrieved our chairs, exited the park, and drove blearily back to Green Hill. All in all, we drove 97.5 miles yesterday, though it hardly seems possible.

Later, when we were finally feeling a little better, we watched Joseph Cotton and Jennifer Jones in William Dieterle's Portrait of Jenny (1948), a mutual favourite. More than this I dare not say. Except — I also watched a documentary on the Discovery Channel about the Japanese scientist who has managed to photograph live giant squid (Architeuthis dux) in the wild. Oh, and my vintage 1950s nerd glasses, without which my one sighted eye is all but blind, got too hot and the cellulose acetate from which the imitation tortoise shell was molded has begun to outgas. They stink of vinegar and irritate my eyes and skin. Also, should you spy me at Dragon*Con (or anywhere else), do not be surprised at my brown skin; just blame the faulty sunscreen. In conclusion, there are photographs behind the cut, for those among you who've not yet had your fill:

5 August 2006 )


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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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