Scale

“. . . between early 1859 and the summer of 1860,” about one hundred slavers set sail from New York.

Initially engaged in legal business in commodities like ivory and palm oil, ship owners and captains were lured by the tremendous profits to be gained in slaving. Investors were drawn from all quarters of New York and Brooklyn; two female investors netted astonishing profits of nearly $40,000 on their initial outlay. With a cost of only about $35,000, successful slavers could garner a half million dollars’ profit. And by paying only about one hundred dollars each for African men, women, and children who could be sold across the Atlantic for as much as $2,000 each, there is little wonder that the trade continued unabated . . . Some ships had nearly nine hundred people packed on board . . . in just the years 1859 and 1860, some fifty-three thousand African people were forcibly taken from West Africa to Cuba.

pp. 259 – 260, The Kidnapping Club: Wall Street, Slavery, and Resistance on the Eve of the Civil War, by Jonathan Daniel Wells

The Youngest Son

As her sons start to come apart (inexorably, with no let-up), the father, who internalizes everything, and never talks about the disintegration of the family, suffers a stroke and is hospitalized for six months. At this time, the mother has her youngest son, Peter, committed. He was in hockey camp and started to act out. He was sent to Brady Hospital, “a private psychiatric hospital in Colorado Springs.” (How long, self wonders, did it take for Robert Kolker to collect these masses of material? Because the research is incredible, the kind of thing that she can easily see someone spending 20 years compiling.)

  • In early September, Mimi finally visited and saw Peter wearing only underpants, strapped to a bed with no sheets on it. The whole room reeked of urine …

The mother pulled him out immediately (During all this travail, her husband was still in the hospital: he was “paralyzed on the right side of his body”). She puts Peter in the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver. Doctor’s note: when patient became “more provocative” (whatever that means), his “family thought that was his normal level of functioning.”

p. 134: When boy # 6, Joe, visits boy # 10, Peter, he was “able to tell the patient’s therapist that at times in the past he has had symptomatology similar to Peter’s.”

At this point, five boys have shown signs of personality disturbance. Self knows from the reviews that there’s one more boy who gets diagnosed schizophrenic. Which one? This shell game is agonizing for self, imagine the feelings of the parents (well, the feelings of the mother, because the father was pretty much out of it after his stroke).

So, drugs. There were a lot of drugs around. Four boys “into LSD” and one “into black beauties and other uppers.” The youngest child “smoked pot at age five.” The mother was deeply, observantly Catholic. She cared. Nevertheless, this is what happened to her. And on p. 135, a panel of doctors sat down and told Mimi that in their findings, she was the cause of her son’s disintegration. (Maybe she was, who knows. The jury’s still  out. But she was cut off from her own parents, and her grandparents, though concerned, felt helpless)

Stay safe, dear blog readers.

“I’m All for Spare Writing, But — “

The above was the response of an English agency to self’s horror story, The Rorqual.

It’s taken her years, but the writing of this has been an absolute joy. And, no matter how many changes self makes to the main narrative, this first paragraph is a given:

  • The report came from somewhere on the Bering Sea. The pair had left the Black Hills the previous morning. The woman, it appeared, was headed for Baranof, the man for Kuiu. Both were on foot.

BARANOF? KUIU? WTH, self has never been to that part of the world.  Nevertheless, that first paragraph came to her whole, some years ago. Not one word has self ever cut. It’s not so much information as rhythm self sought to establish here. And this first paragraph, the rhythm it sets forth, is what has enabled self to proceed.

So many magazines refuse to even take a look: “We don’t do genre.”

Most people who have read her manuscript use the word “ambitious.” One even called it massively ambitious.

But if you don’t go for broke with your writing, why even bother? Sure, she fails about as often as she manages to connect, but the failing is part of her process. Writing is the one activity where self operates without the benefit of a safety net, which is why, in her humble opinion, the activity is so “pure.”

As for genre, self swims in genre. She adores genre.

Stay tuned.

Black Christmas: A List of Things

  • There is one grand entrance that will have you on your feet and cheering. So unexpected, maybe cheesy, but self loved it. If you didn’t love it, you should not watch any horror movies set on campuses.
  • Props to any student attending Hawthorne College despite the creepy founder.
  • Never join a frat. Frats are bad.
  • Cary Elwes! Lookin’ good. Please be in more movies, Cary Elwes.
  • This is a gag movie. Therefore, as required by the genre, the heroine must be very, very, very dense.
  • There is this line: “We’ll split up.” Yes! It is always wise to split up when there is a murderer in the house.

Solid B.

 

Still Work-in-Progress

  • Pitt was the first to board. He was always the first. Whether that made him brave or foolhardy was hard to say.

The Rorqual, p. 5

Why Always Ice?

Excerpt, work-in-progress

Genre: Fantasy/Horror

Status: 52 pp.

Working Title: The Rorqual

It began with the discovery of a ship, sailing languidly along the ice-clotted harbor. It seemed meandering, yet sure of purpose. It drifted toward shore, riding high in the water.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Gulls and the Pagophilics

from the Dictionary of Birds (1985):

  • a ‘large, homogeneous, successful group probably at the summit of another evolutionary line.’

from Birds of the Western Palearctic (Unforgivable, in self’s view, that Dee fails to provide a date of publication):

  • ‘Predator, scavenger, food-pirate … taking almost anything available of suitable size, texture, etc’

Self’s horror story The Rorqual (currently 51 pages — self is so out of control!) uses exactly these kinds of dictionary definitions (in self’s case, pages long) to describe her ‘pagos’ and her ‘longnecks’ and her other what-not. She birthed this horror in Tyrone Guthrie. She can’t seem to write any of it until she returns to Annaghmakerrig. California is just too dry, too intensely hot, too savagely suburban.

Stay tuned.

The Night King: Another Missed Opportunity

So Arya killed the Night King, stabbing him in the exact same place he was stabbed by the Children of the Forest.

The Children of the Forest haven’t appeared much in the series (hopefully they’ll be in the prequel) but the image of a blade plunging into the chest of a captive man is, you have to admit, super-arresting and chilling.

And here is an image from an article in Den of Geek, which asks: Could the Night King actually have been a Stark?

was-once-one-of-the-first-men-1557161292.jpg

Which again makes self super-despondent because it reminds her that in the last two episodes EVER of Game of Thrones, the bad guys will be played by the tag team of Cersei/Euron, even though, to self’s mind, the Lannisters are pretty much done (except for Tyrion, who’s turned into such a sad sack)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

My Love to Paris

CNN Breaking News: People are mourning “the loss of a good part of Notre Dame Cathedral.”

DSCN9981

2019 Hugo Awards Finalists, Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Annihilation, based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Black Panther
  • A Quiet Place
  • Sorry To Bother You
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

sorrytobotheryou20180407_BKP503

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