Independent Bookstore Day

It's been a while, haven't had much to talk about in detail. But since it's Independent Bookstore Day I have stuff to talk about. Specifically going to one of the biggest bookstores I've ever been to.

So this morning, once I got free from work foo, I headed out to King Tut's for lunch/bookhunting fuel. Had my usual lamb gyro and fries, then about 1pm I headed to the northwest to visit Booked Up. This is the bookstore that Larry McMurtry of "Lonesome Dove" fame runs. It's about 2 hours from Ch√Ęteau Innsmouth, out in farm country. It's huge, and they're in the midst of expanding.

So I drove, and drove, and drove some more. Saw a lot of cows, a few cops, and a number of small towns that I couldn't image living in. Then, finally made it to Archer City and to my destination. It didn't look all that big from the outside. Headed in, the staff said hi and gave me the quick rundown of how things were laided out. First area looked like a cross between a classic Texas ranch house and a library. Store has a cat, a pretty black kitty who was pretty sphinx like (the monument, not the yoda-cat look). So after looking around at books and art related to the history of the lace and Mr McMurtry (who wasn't there), I went in to the next room...

And it's a warehouse. Shelves you need a 6' tall ladder to get to the top of (they have a few of the stair ladders around). Figure out quick there are two layouts, organized books by genre/subject, and the unorganized, "there could be damn near anything there" sections. Which actually kind of broke my brain. One of my secret bookhunting skills is that I can quickly scan shelves looking for keywords/names/etc. Generally I can read the spines as fast as my eyes can move, then if something trips the keyword search, bingo, book I can look at more detail. This _does not work_ when you're dealing with 12' shelves. So the unorganized parts pretty much just made my head spin. (I don't know if this is normal, or if it's part of the reorg and the new space across the street). But I was able to find my usual favorite haunts. Horror wasn't super packed, but I found two Ramsey Campbell hardbacks, a collection he did the forward to, and a pair of novels that screamed late 70's occult horror. There were a couple of Lovecraft books, but they were recent editions. Btw, if you like mysteries or thrillers, there were about 5 times as many of those as horror. History was good, but nothing screamed to be taken home. Then I found the esoterica section...which given how far I was out in farm country, well I expected it to be a shelf or two. Again, wasn't packed, but there was something for most anyone. Found a study from SUNY's series on Western Esoterica, and a book by Colin Wilson on people who have claimed to be a messiah. Which I didn't know existed at all. So they got added to the pile.

Wandered a while longer, came back up front, left my pile at checkout and went across the street to check the new space. It's a mix of organized and disorganized, like they're trying to get stuff on shelves, and then will get like with like. Found some good things, but I was already pushing my budget limit and they weren't things I absolutely had to have. So after getting lost in the stacks, I headed back across the street and checked out.

Got my books, gave over my Innsmouth gold, made a comment that for my next visit I was probably going to stay over in town so I could have more time. Seems I'm not the only one to think, or do that. *grin* Got back in the car, and drove the two hours home. (Thank Cthulhu for an audiobook of 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward').

So, my thoughts about Booked Up? It's huge, it's random as heck, and if there was a bookstore you might stumble upon the Necronomicon, it's this one. Downside is, it's an old Texas building, so little airflow and it was pretty warm (got to about 90 today, not sure I want to go there in August). It's also out in the middle of nowhere. The randomness wasn't my thing either, but I only had a small window to view. They're open Thurs-Saturday from 1 to 5pm, so you're limited to the damage you can do. But it's a nice, friendly place with a quirky vibe and oh so many books. So if you're in the North Texas/Oklahoma region, look it up.

And, and the books I got are.

  • Rogue Messiahs - Colin Wilson
  • Trithemius and Magical Theology - Noel L. Braun
  • The Sorcerer - Eric Ericson
  • The Woman Who Slept with Demons - Eric Ericson
  • Ancient Images - Ramsey Campbell
  • Night of the Claw - Ramsey Campbell (under the pseudonym Jay Ramsey)
  • The Dark Side - Guy de Maupassani

  • Back from Innsmouth West

    Flew back in today. My brain has been reduced to something akin to tapioca, early wake up, flying, having my bag searched because of eldritch objects, and a screaming child two seats away. But that's just the return journey, the rest of the trip was gloriously fun. Movies, books, friends, good food, things with tentacles. Friends with tentacles. I'll write up a more detailed post probably this weekend. For now though, I'll try to regrow some tentacles for returning to Carcosa Corp tomorrow, and probably go to bad way early.

    Goin’ Down to Innsmouth: Chapter Four – The Esoteric Order of Dagon

    Friday dawned early. I'd left the balcony door open, and the curtains pulled, and my room faced directly to the east. Not that there was much of a dawn, it was a gray, overcast day. But still enough to wake me up early. Got up, got ready and headed back into Innsmouth proper. I'd looked up parking online, and found a place kind of center. Seemed a better idea to pay for a day's parking vs trying to find parking as I moved around, plus more fun to walk through the old streets and houses. So I did.

    There was no plan as I went. I wanted to go to the harbor, and I had some landmarks, and stores I wanted to visit, but I just went as the mood and feet took me. Had breakfast at a crowded little diner called 'Sugar Magnolia'. Omelet (big chunks of tomato and bacon in it), potatoes and toast. Went from there to 'The Bookstore of Gloucester', which was a small but nice little shop with new books. As it my habit, I picked up a book about local history, and some postcards/art cards. Also met the store pup, Finn. A little snow white...something. Cute guy, gave me a sniff, got his pettings, then took his human out to pee (he peed, not the human... I think). I then walked to the harbor, stared out at the water for a long while (I did that a lot this trip). Saw the memorial to all the fishermen who'd died over the years. All the names that are known are written down, going back centuries, up until the 2000s. It's humbling.

    On a lighter note, the various kinds of gulls around were yelling at each other, different calls. Really sounded like they were cursing each other out. After the harbor, I walked up though the town going towards one of the landmarks, the Esoteric Order of Dagon Hall (or American Legion Post #3, if you believe in such things). I would say of what I learned there, but I am bound by the Second Oath. Oddly, there's also a statue of Joan of Arc across the street, a memorial to those who fought in WWI. What's funny, I only just realized it was Joan of Arc. I was distracted I guess. From there I went The Sargent House, one of the original fancy homes in town. Old Georgian mansion, which is always a good excuse to get out of the drizzle. The house was built for a Judith Sargent Stevens Murray in 1782, she one was of the early feminists. I showed up just as a tour was starting, so I joined in. Beautiful house, lots of portraits on the walls, very cool furniture, and my fellow tour takers were big art and history nerds from NJ, so they asked tons of questions I didn't think to ask. Some books on display, including a family bible that was epic in size. Of course, it could have also been the Necronomicon, but I wasn't willing to risk it. Historians will have your arm off for offenses like that. If you're in the area, I highly recommend visiting. The tour takes about an hour, and it's worth it. I wonder if the local bus driver comes here a lot...

    I'm cutting Friday off here because I've been writing for almost 2 hours, and I'm running out of tentacles. Tune in next time for stories of me semi-randomly going to another Innsmouth, wandering around Essex environs, and maybe actually finding where my port of dreams is...

    Goin’ Down to Innsmouth: Chapter Three – The Call of the Deep

    I headed back to the hotel, stopping by a local grocery store (Not, sadly of the First National Chain), and picked up snacks. My hotel room had a kitchenette with a fridge, so I got some fruit and cheese along with soda and chips and cookies. I read for a while til dusk set it, then I went for a walk along the private (to hotel guests and people living in the houses in the immediate area.) Sandy beach, like what I grew up with, but with a lot of small/mid sized rocks, well water worn. I'm not sure if that's fill, or that's what was original there and they brought in sand, or what. After a while, I stopped, picked a memorable spot to stow my socks and shoes. got rid of them, and walked down to the surf.

    Ye gods and little fishies, it was COLD. I grew up swimming in the Atlantic, but that was a few hundred miles south, and usually later in the year...and oh yeah, not in the evening *laugh* Still, wow. But once the initial shock wore off, and my bones stopped trying to shrink around the pin in my ankle, it felt good. First 1/3rd of my life was spent within easy distance of the ocean, and I miss it. And it felt like I'd come home. I've been to the Atlantic a few times since I moved to Texas, twice in the last few years. But this is the first time I let myself to be in the water, even if it was only up to my calves. Oh, part of me wanted to go swimming. But the wiser part of me remembers that I'm not a great swimmer, that the water was bloody cold, and that swimming at night can be dangerous. Especially if you don't know the water. So ignored the siren call and just stood there. Well, not just stood. I was reminded that even in shallow water like I was in, the Atlantic will move you around. Water flowing over feet will pull sand from under you, and suddenly you're in a hole with an unexpected swelling knocking you over. So think of it as half trancing out to the sound of waves and the feel of water, and half Irish step dancing as you try to keep balance. I could feel all the negative feelings I'd had the last few months drain out. Stress, sadness, anger...all pulled out. I don't care what you believe or don't believe, in moments like that you realize why people have always loved, worshiped and feared the ocean, often all at once. Been a long time since I felt that peaceful about anything.

    Stayed out there for a while, eventually decided that the cold was winning out, so I came back on land (with some regrets), listened to the waves for a while longer, then decided the mosquitoes that ignored me in the surf, decided I was fair game on land. So I beat a retreat for for hotel room, where I hid behind a mesh screen and read, finally going to bed with the ocean singing to me live, instead of from the white noise generator playing a recording of the ocean.

    I don't recall if I dreamed (any of the nights I was in Innsmouth), but I haven't slept that soundly in forever.

    Goin’ Down to Innsmouth: Chapter Two – Dining at the Gilman

    [RAW]
    Innsmouth is a town of wide extent and dense construction…(Ok, yes I know
    it’s Gloucester, but this is my blog, and from here on out it’s getting called
    Innsmouth). Lots of older homes and buildings, some new stuff that fits in,
    and some stuff that just plain looks weird. The main streets are like
    most any street USA, but if go down the side streets it gets kind of…
    cramped. Especially since parking is at a premium, so everyone parks at
    the curb if possible. Got turned around a bunch, (a common theme) but
    finally made it to The Pilot House, which is a strange but cool mix of
    American bar food, and Chinese and Japanese Food. I went for the sushi,
    my usuals, plus a appetizer that was a mix of spicy tuna, avocado, and rice
    with eel sauce, deep fried, with more eel sauce on top. (I’m a huge fan
    of the sauce they put on freshwater eel sushi, so this was just heaven)
    The waitress was
    very friendly and attentive (and pretty darn cute too, nice big eyes), and the food was great. Lots of locals came in to grab take out orders, also a good
    sign. I left with leftovers and a very contented stomach.



    [/RAW[

    Goin’ Down to Innsmouth: Chapter One – The Arrival

    Ok, if I don't start writing the tale of Innsmouth, I'll just keep putting it off. So, here, we, go!

    The airport and the flight out were not much to speak of. Well other than I thought I was getting a plane full of college kids who looked like they were going on spring break. Got major 'Final Destination' vibes, but luckily they were going to Cancun. I spent the flight reading, William Meikle's 'Operation: Siberia' and bits and pieces of other stuff. Got to Logan that afternoon, took a very crowded shuttle to the car rental. Got upgraded to a sedan (they were out of compacts)...and I found out that these new fangled autos are smarter than me. I literally spent 5 minutes trying to figure out how to start a push button starting system. Including Googling the url they gave me for car instructions...it's a year or two out of date. The nice lady though took pity on me and told me to hold the brake down. The more I use consumer electronics, the more I understand how Mom felt. That and if it doesn't have a CLI, it sucks. *wink*

    So I fired up my phone's GPS, and headed out into Boston traffic. Within 3 minutes I was cursing to make my New Yorker brethren proud. Soon after that I was gesturing like a native. Miss a LOT of turns because Boston is laid out like any city that's grown organically for 4 centuries. (I just will not drive in London. Ever. I've heard stories) I finally got on the road I wanted, the 1A which parallels the Atlantic. Windows down, sea breeze smell, the call of seagulls over an audiobook of 'The Call of Cthulhu'. I was happy. And cursing much less. The drive took about 2 hours, with a short stop in Salem to check out a bookstore. (shocking, I know). Got to my hotel north of Gloucester (by about 5 miles), signed in, got an actual key, not a magnetic keycard like everywhere I've been in recent memory, and went up to my room.

    The room itself had nothing really eye catching...well other than the view out over the Atlantic. WOW! Surf, a nice wind coming in, just what the Doctor ordered. (West, Herbert west). Unpacked, stared a lot at the water, finally decided that if I didn't eat fairly soon, I'd be snacking on a beachgoer. So I pulled up my map, and picked a place and drove back into town.

    Home from Innsmouth

    Had a very good vacation. Will post details once I’ve caught up on sleep/rest. I’m going to miss sleeping to the actual sound of the ocean, and the calls of the gulls during the day. Night all.

    Goin’ Down to Innsmouth: The night before

    Well, as of about 4:30 CDT, I went into vacation mode. Work notifications are muted, I had a fairly busy day of getting things done, or assigning tasks to other people for when I get back. Also one of my pals at Carcosa is leaving, so me and my fellow admin took him out to lunch. Busy busy cultist today.

    I also woke up about 2 hours early. Since I still had packing to do, this ended up being a good thing. Redid the packing, did some around the house stuff, and went to work an hour early. Came home, watched 'Dagon', did some more packing foo, ate dinner. Thinking I'm going to hit the showers soon, then bed with book and early to sleep. Have to be up earlier than normal tomorrow for the fun and games of airport security. I won't be blogging while I'm gone, like the last couple of trips I'm not bringing a computer (or a tablet, just my phone and kindle). I'll probably ramble on Facebook though, I usually do. Then back from Innsmouth on Sunday.

    So wish me safe travels, well stocked bookstores, friendly Deep Ones and fine seas. I'll try to not make the change early and swim down to Y'ha-nthlei...but if they've gotten internet you landlubbers may be out of luck *wink*