Starry Wisdom Retreat: Part 1

I had an amazing time in Providence. Not everything went according to plan, but my plans were made to be flexible, and with the understand that this would probably not be my only trip there. So while I didn't get to visit all the museums I wanted to, or the zoo, I did get to explore Grandpa Theobald's stomping grounds, see lots of nifty old building, and eat some amazing food.

I'm not going to do a day by day, action by action post...I'd be writing for hours. I'll ping the high notes and interesting bits as I think of them. Start with my hotel. The Dean is a small 'boutique' hotel a few blocks from the Providence Biltmore, where StokerCon was being held. I later found out from a friend that it used to be one of the more notorious strip clubs in Providence, with the rooms being rented by the hour. Was a fun place, staff were friendly and the room was nicely sized and mostly comfy. There's a leather reading chair I wanted to steal somehow. Recommended if you're in town and like smaller hotesl.

Now lets move on to Lovecraft. I visited 3 of the places he lived, though only one house is still around (and moved from it's location when he lived there). I also visited the house he used as the setting for the story 'The Shunned House', the Fleur de Lys building which is mentioned in 'The Call of Cthulhu', and where the Church of the Starry Wisdom was in 'The Haunter of the Dark' (though the church was torn down and made into a park.) I also wandered around Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, on College Hill. Lots of climbing that hill. I visited the John Hay Library, but I didn't request to view the Lovecraft collection, I felt funny about it. I also didn't go see his grave marker at Swan Point cemetery. I found walking in his footsteps more interesting that visiting a grave.

Now lets talk books. Oh lord, is Providence a city for me. 3 used/indie bookstores in downtown (including the amazing Lovecraft Arts and Sciences), and 2 more a bit east around where HPL's birthplace was. I spent a lot on books, oh so many books. I ended up shipping a decent sized box of books home...then I went to StokerCon for more. Cthulhu books, history books, esoterica, stuff on Providence, things that just looked cool. At StokerCon I bought a few books based on author's elevator pitches, or from authors I've been talking to online. So many bookshelves are groaning in pain.

StokerCon itself was fairly low key. It's mostly a 'con for writers to network and talk ideas and techniques. But there were some panels that were less focused, like panels on pulp and weird fiction, or Stoker's writing habits, or Hammer & Universal movies. I also listened to long time favorite authors Ramsey Campbell and Caitlin Kiernan do readings. Every one was really friendly, even the bigger names in the business, and had one author correct me when I said I was 'just a reader'. Also, the above mentioned Lovecraft Arts and Sciences hosted a poetry reading by a number of weird poets, including Donald Sidney-Fryer, who blew me away with how he read. Definitely worth braving the Nor'easterner that hit Friday. The whole con was fun, relaxed and well organized. Definitely recommend. The next one will be in Grand Rapids, MI. See details at

Stay tuned for part 2, where I discuss stingrays, food and friggin' in the riggin'.

Random microblog posts from the weekend

Saturday 21:45
'Black Panther' was simply amazing. The heroes are heroic (with the female leads stealing the show), the antagonists aren't just bad, for the most part you can see how their views conflict with T'challa, so better than most bad guys in comic movies. Lots of good fight scenes, lots of great one liners and character interaction. Plus, the depiction of Wakanda is just amazing. One foot in traditional cultures, one foot in the future and just plain nifty. My one complaint, I wanted more of a tour of Wakanda vs superfights. But I can hope for special features on the bluray.
5 out of 5 Vibranium Claws.

Sunday 16:29
Going to the store today took my last bits of ability to cope with humanity. The urge to scream 'Move your ass' at the people ahead of me in check out was almost uncontrollable. Possibly in Koine Greek because life should be interesting like that. (note to self, learn to say 'move your ass' in Koine Greek before going to the airport next week). At home now, doing laundry. Cthulhu bless my gillslits, I'm tired.

Sunday 16:55
Well last night's dreams were weird. From historical churches with ancient cults and exorcism schools (convenient placement there), to fighting against a zombie horde invading random suburbia with one of those magic movie katanas that is more lightsaber than steel in it's ability to remove limbs. I'll take zombies apocalypse and horrors from beyond space time over my usual anxiety dreams.

Sunday 17:19
Last night after 'Black Panther' we stopped by the nearby Half Price Books. I didn't get anything, nothing I couldn't live without, and I have plenty of book shopping plans for the trip to Providence. But I did find, in the rare/nostalgia section, volumes one and two of "The Encyclopaedia of Russian Crime Tattoos." Not something you find in bookstores every day. Almost got them for the oddness factor, I think they were $30 each. (If anyone is interested in them, I can send you the info of the store, I'm sure they'd be willing to ship for a reasonable fee, or I could pick them up and you could pay me back. I'm sure one of my author or game designer friends could make good use of them)

Sunday: 19:32
Self quote of the day.

"Must try to stop reading the Latin aloud, just frickin' Google it!"

Sick fox is recovering

Not been doing good healthwise. Thought I had a bad sinus infection, but I woke up yesterday in major pain centered around a tooth. So yay, dentist. I'm very phobic about dentists. They ended up extracting the tooth, which was a royal pain in the jaw because I'm a mutant, and I have extra roots that extend deep into the jaw. So it took forever to extract, I had to repeatedly remind myself that clenching up every muscle wasn't going to help things. Still I came out of it in more pain in my joints and neck than in my jaw. My hands were shaking and I felt light headed most of last night, and I barely slept. Took today off as comp time (working on President's day, a Carcosa Corp holiday). I'm mostly spending today eating soft food and watching 80's horror movies. I'm hoping I'm back to normal enough to spend some time with friends tomorrow.

Providence trip is a week from tomorrow. I'm kind of a basket case about it at the moment, the trip, the state of me, etc. To be honest, I've thought about canceling it...will decide later on. 'Try to avoid major decisions when depressed, in pain, or stressed'. So we'll see. *sigh*

On the bright side I've read a lot of good books in the last week. I highly recommend 'Widow's Point' by Richard and Billy Chizmar, a classic ghost story that grabs you and doesn't let go. If you like military sci-fiesque, 'The Void' by Greig Beck won't let you down. Super-soldiers vs space monsters. If you rather have movies, 'The Ritual', an adaptation of Adam Nevill's novel will convince you to never go hiking again. Or if you want horror comedy gore, see 'Victor Crowley', the 4th 'Hatchet' movie. So that's my random one line reviews.

That's about it. Hoping I can make til bedtime tonight, and get some real sleep. I'll also like it when my body stops being in full flake mode. Have a good night boys and ghouls.

Liber Cultes de Vulpes

Well my idea about transferring my Facebook posts to my blog didn't work for the last couple of days. Too busy to transcribe. So, instead I thought I'd talk about something near and dear to my heart. Books.

Half Price Books is a chain of used book stores, quite a few in Texas and other scattered across the US. The flagship store is in Dallas, north of SMU. I like going there because they have a lot of book turnover. The downside is, occasionally my book expenditures are a little...crazy. Today was such a day, also, things got weird.

First part reminded me of the opening scene of a horror movie. I walked in, by a display of journals and notebooks, and the word 'Satan' caught my eye. Odd for a journal... so I looked. It's a 50's hardback about diabolism and assorted related stuff, mostly translated from a French medical journal about religious Psychology, if I'm reading right. Lots of S.J. (Jesuits) as article authors. It should have been in the rare/nostalgia section, but I guess someone was being silly. So yeah, I grabbed it. As I was wandering around the store, I kept thinking. "Jeez, I've seen this horror movie where the lead finds a random book on Satan in the first act, and then all hell breaks loose.' Which had me giggling. I may leave the book in a box of salt though...just in case.

I found a number of other odd books. A hardback collection from the 40's of weird fiction edited by August Derleth, 'The Night Side'. Not Arkham House, the publisher is Reinhart, which I haven't heard of before. Nice book, some authors I don't know, but it's got Lovecraft and Machen and Dunsany. Bloch and Wandrei and Kuttner as well. Also for a reasonable price, or so I told myself *wink* This was also in rare/nostalgia.

In the horror section I found a couple of S.T. Joshi edited criticism, a nice trade paperback of Chambers 'The King in Yellow', and two paperback story collections. One 'Cults of Horror' is a 90's DAW collection, with a reprint of Karl Wagner's 'The Sticks', and one of those classic covers. The other is 'Tales of the Occult' from the 70's, with more Machen, MR James, Blackwood and some other authors. Always good to find old friends in books. Last was 'The Green Man' by Kingsley Amis. The back blurb mixed words like 'horror' 'satire' 'post-Lovecraft' 'slapstick' and other weirdness. So I grabbed it, odd to find that mix of words anywhere. So yeah, a lot of good things in the horror section for me.

I also picked up a Eurohorror flick, 'Beyond the Darkness' which seemed weird and up my alley. It's playing now, pretty standard Italian horror bizarre...with the plus of a soundtrack by Goblin, same band that did the music for 'Suspiria'. I saw a couple of other movies I wanted, but not for the price they were asking. Then after some more wandering in the rare book area (No I don't need an 18th century book with a Latin title that sounds like it's out of Lovecraft's was a medical text I think), I headed over to the religious/metaphysical/occult section...

The occult side of things seemed to be the usual Wicca and related stuff, with a fairly nice selection of 'the history of witchcraft', but nothing that leaped out at me. Same with the Druid side of things...but under the actual 'Occult' shelf, there was something that had me written all over it. A Princeton University press work on Greek and Roman Necromancy. Author is Daniel Ogden. Hits a number of my buttons, ancient history? Check. Scholary work? Check. Esoterica? Check, double check and mate. Plus I got a good deal on it, about half what it seems Amazon wants for it *grin* I think that just leaped to the head of the to read pile. They also had a big section on 'esoterica' (read Templars, Masons and Jesus conspiracies) and 'Gnosticism' (Dead Sea Scrolls, more Jesus conspiracies, and similar), but nothing else leaped at me, at least that I wasn't sure I already owned. Will have to do some organizing and list making before a return visit.

So yeah, my book hunt was fruitful as heck. Necromancy, random book on Satan waiting for me as I walked in, and lots of my favorite kind of fiction. Now if I suddenly go silent, make sure to not read aloud any of the books on my desk, and 'have ye words for laying ready at readie and stoppe not to be sure when there be any Doubte of Whom you have.' *grin*

Yog-Sothoth Neblod Zin

Vulpine, what is best in life ?

Yes, two posts in one week. Don't panic, everything is under control. It's been a pretty shitty week, and today followed the trend. But rather than vent about today, I want to talk about various good things I didn't think to post last time.

  • I managed to pay off my car a couple of months early. Yay new year and new budget.
  • I've gone almost 2 weeks without sugar in Château Innsmouth. No soda, no candy, no cookies. I'm a horrible snacker, so why keep temptation in the house? I've had a couple of sugar drinks while out and about, but it's hard to say no to cherry limeades.
  • I received a metric oodle of ebooks from a Kickstarter I backed, the dead tree editions will be here soon. So much Mythos.
  • Paul Naschy Fest is chugging along, on film 8 of 10. I'm really enjoying these, high quality transfers, cheesy horror, and lots of fun
  • 2 new Dark Adventure Radio episodes in hand. 'Rats in the Walls' and 'Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar'.
  • Also have an audiobook edition of my favorite S.M. Stirling novel, 'The Peshawar Lancers'.
  • I've joined the 21st century, and did my first online grocery order. Worked out perfectly, but some of the items from Amazon are so/so in quality. Not sure I'll keep using it or not though. Also going to try ordering groceries for curb pickup, see how that works.
  • It's the weekend, 2 days away from the databases from heck

    So that's 8 good things. Nice change from complaining about my mood. With that I'm going to call this a post. Night all.
  • Sleep? What the hell is that?

    Rough week. I haven't slept a solid, or even semi-solid night since the weekend. Patching prod Tuesday generated 2 overnight calls, and a similar issue got me called on Wednesday/Thursday night. Last night I didn't get called, however I woke up anyway at 3am. Tried to go back to sleep and failed. Got up around 5am, futzed around, then got a little more sleep. Then I got up, got ready for work, got to work...found out I'd left my badge at home. Without my badge it's kind of difficult to get around Carcosa Corp, so after I drove home to get it, I said screw it and worked from home.

    Last night was rough. Finishing up the non-customer facing production servers. And I had more problems with the last 4 servers than the almost 100 other servers. I ended up arguing with Nagios because the new version added weird example templates, creating phantom hosts that obviously were offline. Our cacti install just broke utterly, new version will not work with the old database. And since I didn't want to spend half the night fixing mysql issues, I rolled back to the snapshot I made before patching. (I had a bad feeling, and oh I am so glad I listened to it). *shakes head*

    I'm really exhausted right now. I took a nap after I logged out of work, well mostly I just lay there and listening to the white noise generator (beach sounds). Got up again, listening to The Black Stone right now, but I'll be going back to bed soon. This weekend is a social get together tomorrow, and Sunday is probably going to see 'Murder on the Orient Express'. Plus the chores and stuff. Oh, in book news, I picked up something special. Many years ago, my uterine sibling was given a copy of 'The Collected works of Edgar Allan Poe' by a teacher. It was this epic gothic looking book, printed in the mid 20's. It really does look like something you'd read aloud from to summon 'something'. I 'borrowed' it for years, was how I got into Poe, right before I discovered Lovecraft. I eventually gave it back but I always remembered how cool it was. A few weeks ago, I decided to go hunting. All I remembered was the cover, and the approximate time it was published. After a few google searches I had the publisher, and looking on Amazon I found a copy for $20. Needless to say, I bought it. It came in today. And it's in amazing shape for a 90 year old book. Spine is pretty tight, no loose pages, a little browning, but all in all it's just about perfect. So it's sitting with some other treasured books of mine on my desk, next to my epic fancy editions of HPL, and other weirdness.

    So that's this week in Vulpineland. Now, I'm going to fiddle around with some things, and probably make it an early night. Ciao.

    Horror and the literate Vulpine

    Had a good Saturday. Woke up way early, not originally the plan but I had weird dreams and I just wanted to be out of that weirdness. Did the usual Saturday foo (store run, other chores). I was going to leave early to go raid a bookstore and be social with friends, but I ended up dealing with a fiddly database server, so I didn't leave til later than I planned. Not a huge deal, just felt a tad off. Finally did leave, and headed up to the flagship Half Price Books in Dallas. Sold a few DVDs back, as much to clear up space as anything else, besides a few bucks I got a 10% off coupon for my purchases. Useful that. I only picked up 3 books, a bibliography of Lovecraft (it's the older edition, so it's out of date on stuff but still useful), a book called 'The Magick Bookshop', stories about an occult bookshop, and 'Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult', which I've had on my esoterica wishlist for years. Should make for some interesting reading. Well, not the bibliography, that's going to be more for digging into randomly.

    After the book raid, I went to visit some friends and watch movies. We ended up shockingly watching horror flicks, well 2 of us did, while a certain raptor played Minecraft. Worked out well, got some puppy time, got to talk geek, was good. Had an amusing conversation with J about horror around the world, and we came to the realization that I've seen a LOT of horror movies from all over. I could rattle off theme differences between Spanish, Italian and French horror, or how Korean horror is what happens when you take Japanese and Hong Kong horror movies, and turn it up to 11. But I couldn't tell you about Vietnamese horror cinema at all, or names for Indian horror flicks (though I'm pretty sure Bollywood has some, and they have musical numbers). We also agreed that the world needs more Middle Eastern horror, and there's probably a ton of African movie makers who will scare the pants off people. (Not just South Africa, but Nigeria and others). So much horror, so little time.

    Came home a while ago, watching more horror (Hammer Films). Book time in a while, then hopefully getting to sleep in. A fox can dream at least.

    Books, books and dreams of books

    Well last night's sleep was kind of demented. Stayed up reading a quasi-random book pickup that's turned into an epic Lovecraftian conspiracy novel. Decided to pause at about 2/3rd of the through, since I was pooped, and I wanted to savor the last reveals. Went to sleep, and had some bizarro dreams. I mentioned one on Facebook, where either Daniel Harms referred to me as a 'poor man's Kenneth Hite' or Kenneth Hite referred to me as a 'poor man's Daniel Harms;. Either way, I'll take the compliment. Other dreams in the series was going to the ur-Bookstore. That's what I call a recurring bookstore in my dreams. It's huge, more like a book mall, laid out in a labyrinth of rooms, halls and displays. I'm never looking for anything in particular, I'm just wandering looking at stuff. And I found a new, basement section of historical docs and manuscripts and other oddball stuff. But I had to go outside to get to the basement entrance, and suddenly it was Arctic winter and I was dressed for Texas. Brrr. Then the entrance was locked and I was getting colder and colder. Then I realized I was dreaming, but my brain said 'so what' and I was stuck trying to find a way out of the cold, or to wake up. Lucid Dreaming roll, 00. I was boned. Woke up eventually, and decided I didn't want to give my subconscious any more run time.

    Got up, got moving. I've spilled my pills twice today, I got the bathroom floor mopped, but my sinuses are now unthrilled. I was going to do a store run, but I really rather just avoid humanity for the moment. Watching a weird 70's martial arts assassin flick, with really cheesy fight scenes. Once that's done, I'll probably work on general cleaning. Not putting the bookshelf together, my electric screwdriver/drill is dead, I've found that manually screwing around = crappy bookshelves. So I'll either have to borrow one from a friend, or go get another one.

    Ok, just went and picked some stuff in the bedroom, and I'm going to flop some more. Don't think I'm leaving the house. I can always order a pizza... in fact I may do that very soon. Take care everyone. *sniffle*

    From the Starry Wisdom Library: Return of the Old Ones

    Adding a new feature of my blog, 'From the Starry Wisdom Library' aka where I talk about my favorite things in the world, books. So get your reading glasses and get into your favorite chair, and lets look at a book.

    Cthulhu rises, the Deep Ones come ashore, the Whatleys finally let the Old Ones back into our world. So what happens next? This has been a question for the Mythos fandom for years, and a number of authors have taken a stab at it. Latest, from Dark Regions Press, is 'Return of the Old Ones'. 19 stories in 3 sections, pre-apocalypse, as the tentacles hit, and life after the world as we know it ends.

    First though, some disclaimers. One, Brian M. Sammons, the editor of the collection sent me an eARC in exchange for a fair review. Second, I'm not the biggest fan of post-apocalypse fiction, Cthulhu or no Cthulhu. I find the afterward of the end of the world to be kind of depressing, and I read Mythos as escapist fiction. (and yes, I know what kind of nut I sound like saying that).

    But when I read the ToC, I knew I'd enjoy this collection. Favorites like Jeffrey Thomas, Tim Curran, and William Meikle, among many others. Honestly, even the authors that aren't my 'favorites' are still ones I cheerfully will read in any collection. And you get all kinds of stories, from apartments full of cultists, and why conspiracy theorists might lead us to the apocalypse, to zombies from beyond space-time and DARPA vs Deep ones, to finally we go true post Cthulhu Singularity, with colonies hiding underground, or in the swamps, or even a truly bizarre story that is equal bits 'Star Trek', trans-humanistic, and bizarro. No matter how you view the Mythos, there will be stories you love, and others you enjoy. I did find this to be a collection I read in sections, as some of the stories were dark in a way that Mythos doesn't generally hit for me.

    Currently Dark Regions Press is doing an Indiegogo for this as well as two other collections, 'You, Human' which is dark scifi, and 'The Children of Gla'aki', a tribute to Ramsey Campbell. They will be released in retail format after the Indiegogo is complete, and the backers have gotten their goodies. I've backed a number of their crowdfundings in the past, and I've always enjoyed what I received. So if you like your Mythos dark, and your human meat-snacks on the run, I'd recommend 'Return of the Old Ones'.

    Oh, and while I don't recommend judging a book by it's cover, but check out the cover... RotOO Cover