A Whole Bunch of Random

I've been random the last few days. So I've posted some odd stuff on Facebook. Some of it needs to be posted here as well.

Lovecraftian:
"We got the gills that give the thrills!" aka the New Esoteric Order of Dagon motto.

A new term for my clinical depression:
Oh, while listening to M.R. James' 'Count Magnus' while driving yesterday, came up with a good euphemism for 'being diagnosed (again) with depression'. 'Taking the Black Pilgrimage to Chorazin.' Seems fitting, since I came back with a follower that will never leave. Luckily (?) it rarely sucks the faces off of people. So I may start calling my swings as 'my minion from Chorazin.' Better than a black dog. I like dogs.

(don't worry, this isn't a cry for help or anything, just a random bit of brain foo. Change what you call a thing, and you change how you react. Words have power, and weird words make me feel 'better')

For those who are curious, you can find the story at the following link Text of Count Magnus

and if you just want a summary, check out The Wikipedia page on the story.

How M.R. James described me right before my Dad was born:
One more M.R. James bit. From the intro to 'A Neighbour's Landmark'. Sound like anyone you may know ? *wink*

"Those who spend the greater part of their time in reading or writing books are, of course, apt to take rather particular notice of accumulations of books when they come across them. They will not pass a stall, a shop, or even a bedroom-shelf without reading some title, and if they find themselves in an unfamiliar library, no host need trouble himself further about their entertainment. The putting of dispersed sets of volumes together, or the turning right way up on those which the dusting housemaid has left in an apoplectic condition, appeals to them as one of the lesser Works of Mercy."

It's been an odd morning, but all things considered I'm doing ok I think. Ciao.

Starry Wisdom Pilgrimage 2019 edition

A little over 400 minutes til I head off to Lovecraft country. Bags are packed, work away messages are setup to go into place as I leave for the airport. I'm probably over packed, but I've only got one carryon and one bag to check. Then I get to New York around midnight, and the fun really begins.

I'll probably be rambling on Facebook for the trip, as usually I'm not bringing any electronics besides my phone, my Kindle, and a bluetooth speaker. No laptop or tablet, so any writing I do will via phone, plus I'm trying to disconnect.

So here's to the magic of vacations, to visiting favorite parts of the country, to seeing my tentacled peeps, to getting in some ocean time, and exploring history. *clinks virtual glass* I'll be back in a week and change, don't break the internets without me.

Yog-Sothoth Neblod Zin, Nephren-Ka nai Hadoth.
Vulpine

Author Cheerleading: William Meikle

Was about to write a down in the dumps post, but lets try being more positive. Lets talk about an author pal of mine who I've been binge reading for the last few weeks.

If you like your fiction weird, full of references to Scotland and Newfoundland, often sweary, and generally just fun as heck, I recommend William Meikle. He's one of those authors who can write in bloody near any genre. From noiresque detectives, to giant monsters, to occult history, to emotionally charged 'haunted places' and more. He's even got a golf course mystery (I haven't read it yet, but if anyone could get me to read about golf, it's William.) My personal favorites are when he takes Hodgson's famed spookbuster, Thomas Carnacki out for a spin with new adventures of all colors and kinds. (followed shortly after by his Sherlock tales). In fact, to be a tad heretical, I prefer his voice to Hodgson or Doyle's.

So, are you curious ? Maybe a smidge? Sign up for his mailing list and you get three free ebooks. Or follow the link on his site to 99c ebooks and choose from a pretty darn huge selection. He also has dead tree editions and audiobooks if your tastes lean that way. Come on, give it a try.

https://www.williammeikle.com/

Liber est vitae!

Or for those who don't speak dead languages, the book is the life. Aka, the new Vulpine family motto, something I threw out while arguing with myself. I do that some time. But that's not the subject of this post. I thought I'd skip talking about life in general, and talk something specific I love... namely books.

So yeah, if you've known me longer than about 48 hours, you know I love reading, and I love books in general. I always have a book (or 5) I'm reading, my wind down before bed is almost always reading for a period of time. And when I need a pick me up, I'll go book shopping, either online or at a brick and mortar bookstore. Most of my reading right now is done on my Kindle Voyage e-reader, technology allows me to carry a multi-thousand book library in my back pocket. But I also still enjoy the tactile feel of paper books, and the enjoyment of owning and organizing them, along with reading them. (there's also audiobooks, but that's for another post). So how do I decide the format when I buy a book? Well, what is it ? If I don't collect the genre/series/author, I usually get it on ebook. Mostly due to the simple fact of space, I only have so much shelf space. So I tend to only buy dead tree books of my favorite genres/authors. So, scifi/fantasy, mysteries, general fiction, most horror, most history, I'll probably only get in ebook. Cheaper usually, easier to carry, etc. But, if the genre is in my wheelhouse, then I tend to get dead tree (and usually an ebook as well).

So, the wheelhouse. a term I steal from the Reading Glasses Podcast (I recommend the podcast if you're any kind of book fan) is specific types of books that are my favorite interests. I'll read just about anything if it catches my interest, and if I'm stuck somewhere, I'll read stuff that has no interest because...reading. But there are specific things that I specifically gravitate towards. The list is (ATM):

  • Lovecraftian/Cthulhu Mythos/Weird/Cosmic fiction.
  • Gothic and occult horror, especially set in Victorian/Edwardian times.
  • Ancient history (Greco-Roman and Mesopotamian topping the list) (both as non-fiction and fiction)
  • Occult/Esoterica/"alternative beliefs"
  • Nautical history
  • Authors I know or at least 'know' online
  • and a fundamental axiom: the Templars have something to do with everything.

    I have tons of these books, I have bookshelves dedicated to these (almost 9 six-foot tall bookcases full of #1). I haunt Amazon keyword searches, I pre-order from a ton of specialty publishers (and make friends with them), and when I go to a used bookstore I have a specific routine as I check the various locations of my 'wheelhouse' books. Even if it's not great, I'll get books as a completist.

    Now how do I get my books ? Well that depends. Do I want a specific title? Do I want it now? Then I hit Amazon, followed up by Ebay and other search sites, and order the specific book. If it's a small press, I'll order from them (support your small business pals). That's about 50% of my book acquisitions. The other half? Used book stores. I love the random hunt, the idea that just around the shelf is a book that will light up my life. Or that I'll find something I never knew I needed, and get to get my mitts on it. I do this pretty much only with used bookstores in the 'local area'. (I've driven multiple hours across the wastelands of Texas to visit used bookstores) And when I travel out of state, there needs to be a visit to a local used or independent bookstore, or it's a dull trip. Keep in mind when I go to used book stores I'm rarely looking for a specific book, I'm looking for authors, titles that flag something of my interests, etc. Otherwise you're looking for a needle in a variably ordered haystack.

    So, now that I got the books in my tentacles, how do I read ? Number one way is in bed, propped up on pillows. Usually on my Kindle, just because it's light and easy to move around without losing my place or bending pages by accident. But lately I've been reading physical books more often, I setup a cheap desk I picked up online with a bookstand, a lamp and a chair. (and a bunch of knickknacks that I decorate everything with). It's a different vibe to reading, especially when the apartment lights are turned low, and I have some music playing in the background. (creepy music for creepy stuff so far). Gives me that feeling of a throwback to read in a Victorian/Edwardian library ala Arthur Machen or M.R. James.

    So that's me rambling on at length about my favorite subject, books. First time in a while I've gone to this length on something besides brainmeats. Maybe I'll do it more often.

  • 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 Château 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

  • The Vulpine Visits the Black Lagoon

    Well I got to have a long weekend and a road trip. Took half of Thursday and Friday off to jaunt on down to Austin to see a screening of 'Creature From the Black Lagoon' and meet Mallory O'Meara/ who wrote a book on the creator of the Creature's costume, Milicent Patrick. And while I was down there, I'd do so book hunting. So I rented a car (I have horrible luck with driving between DFW and Austin), and headed down. Drive was fine, the voice in my phone took me on a long loop to avoid I-35 downtown traffic (which is forever a nightmare.) Stayed in my first AirBnB, one of a little cluster of cabins. Nice, cozy, with an attached kitchenette and bathroom. Got settled in, then went out to find some dinner, then to the Alamo Drafthouse for the screening.

    First time I've seen 'Creature' on the big screen, and in 3D. I had a less than perfect seat, but that's what I get for waiting til the last minute. Got a bit of a headache from the angle, but it was still a lot of fun to watch. Then Mallory and the guy from 'Birth, Movies, Death' talked about to book, the creature, and Milicent. Along with more general movie making stuff, and women in filmmaking. Then Q&A, including my question about dream remake casting/directing. Then it was time for book signing. Mallory recognized me, nothing like having someone you're a fan of yell out 'Chris, you made it!' Talked about the screening for a few minutes, got my book signed, and walked off grinning. I highly recommend supporting your fellow fanpeople when they're writing a book. It's good karma all around.

    Went back to the AirBnB, read for a bit and crashed. Woke up Friday, got stuff organized and myself ready for a day of bookhunting. Raided a bunch of used bookstores, along with visiting Book People. It's been almost 15 years since I visited it, but nothing had really changed. All my usually sections were in the same places, and the 2nd floor smelled like incense. Did some major damage to the bank account, but boy I came home with some goodies. Finally left the Austin area around 1500, drove back up to DFW. No really bad traffic, a few spots of slowdown, but I timed it well. Was home a little after 1900.

    So a quick, but fun trip to meet a fellow monster/horror geek, see a classic movie, and add to my book addiction. If that's not a good way to spend a couple of days, I don't know what is.

    DevOps is the Devil

    Been a crazy week. Anxiety dreams to start, work quirkiness in the middle, and a DevOps conference at the end of the week. The DevOps thing was... odd. Not my technical ball of wax, and it wasn't aimed at the newbie. I did learn some stuff, and got random inspiration for other work stuff. Too bad the airflow sucked, and I spent most of the two days sweating like a pig. Oh well.

    The weekend has been good. First, I have Labor Day off, yay three day weekends. Friday night I didn't do much besides try to cool off, then sleep. Yesterday I did some chores, and hung out with Amythest and Nymaz. Due to various job foos, we haven't hung out in a long while. Watched 'Deadpool 2' (which I didn't see in theaters) and 'Infinity War' (which I did.) Was fun, we ate pizza, laughed, chatted. And I got to pet cats. Sadly, my allergies kicked up hard...luckily I had benedryl.

    Today would have been Mom's 86th birthday. So I planned today to be pretty busy. I got up fairly early, got my ducks in a row. I originally meant to go out to a place me and Mom went to for breakfast, but honestly I wasn't really in the mood. So I got to-go breakfast, and headed out. Hit a total of 4 bookstores, Recycled Books up in Denton, and 3 Half Price Bookses... Booksi? How ever you pluralize a plural. Got a nice variety of weird fiction and esoterica. Drove while listening to DART radio plays, and plotted some other stuff out while driving. Came home, by way of lunch at Jason's Deli, and took a long shower to de-sweat, and have been futzing around online and listening to audiobooks.

    Tomorrow I'm going to try to take care of the remaining chores, as well as engage in more hermiting. Then it's back to work, but hopefully it will be a productive week, I have plots and plans. For now, I'm listening to a audiobook about H.H. Holmes and the Chicago World's Fair. Amazing how bonkers Chicago in the Gilded Age was.

    And I've been staring at this post for an hour, so I'll call it done. *waves tentacles*

    Eyeballs and Books

    Look, two posts in a weekend. Yesterday was the mental health day I took from work. I spent most of it watching various horror flicks, and futzing around online. Oh, and some vague chore doing at home. I'm slowly getting rid of clutter. Then I'll start on rearranging things a little better. I'm also going to pack up some of the scifi/fantasy section of the Starry Wisdom Library, and probably put it in storage. Shelf space is at a premium, and history, esoterica and Mythos has priority. (also, I have piles of books that need to be organized). Worked on that also this morning, along with more (and worse) movies.

    Went to the eye doctor in the afternoon, when it was 105 out. Glad my eyeballs didn't melt. Long story short, my distance vision is a smidge better than it was, my up close vision is a tad worse. So new glasses are in my future. But otherwise my eyes are healthy, come back in year and get dilated.

    Came home after that, where I ate way too many chicken tenders. I have to remember, when I have the brilliant idea 'I'll get a family meal, and I'll have 3-4 meals out of it', portion out the damn things...otherwise I keep eating them til I'm about to explode. Haven't done much else this afternoon/ evening. Rearranged a few things, made some mental notes. Found a random flat in London that is not only cool looking, but is the same building for the hero in 'The Devil Rides Out', with the same cool terrace design. But, since I haven't come into my Innsmouth gold inheritance, I don't see me relocating Château Innsmouth to the UK.

    So what is Vulpine reading ? Currently I'm reading a history of the Cathars, The Lost Teachings of the Cathars by Andrew Phillip Smith. It's a reread, but given the news lately, who doesn't need a book on medieval quasi-Gnostic dualism. Enjoyable, if nothing really new to the subject. I recently finished a novella, Maniac Gods by Rich Hawkins. Unlike m y current read, this is a little more...intense. It's Lovecraftianesque cosmic horror, with the emphasis on horror. Cult does bad thing, divorced Dad tries to save his ex-wife and kid, bad things happen. Yes, this is done a lot. But Rich gleefully dives into the guts of the story and runs it at full tilt, and when you get to the obvious 'and here's more horror' he slams on brakes and does a 180 that almost hurts. Then he slowly ratchets things up...and then if you want more, go buy the book. *wink* In the bullpen is a number of other British horror novels, I may have gone a little crazy during Amazon Prime Day.

    So that's about it for non-brain meats thoughts. Tomorrow I go see Denzel Washington beat people up, and then it's back to work of some stress. But I will survive. Cthulhu's told me so. (Oh yeah, and if you wonder why I have more links than usual, I changed some stuff in my ViM configuration, and this seemed a good test. Yay geeking)

    To the Devil a Daughter…and more rambles

    Home from work, dinner eaten, books added to catalog and shelved. Am pretty pooped after the work day. Going to go to shower, bed and book soon.

    Listening to 'To the Devil a Daughter', I knew that the movie was very different than the book, but the only thing they both have is the evil priest. The good guy, Verney is made up of 3 characters in the book. And if you're looking for habit wearing hotties, well this stories has nun ;) Pretty sure I can guess why Wheatley was so torqued off at the Hammer production. It's a slow start, lots of English people complaining about France, while in France. But we got to the crazy Satanist monologing about his plan to a hero, and boy is it bonkers. Also there's a call back to the novel 'The Devil Rides Out' which makes my little geek heart happy. Still have hours to go to listen, might switch over to reading the book the old fashioned way, see if the plot runs off like a crazed hare...like the movie does.

    Night all.

    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 books...my 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 stokercon2019.org.

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