Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig
How is it already the middle of November? As I write this, I’m staring at the owl in the witch’s hat on the mantle, and the raven (who sits upon a skull that sits upon some books) near the fireplace. Oh, and the large metal spider. I find myself just about ready to let them go, I suppose. No matter, spooky season lives on in our hearts, my friends. And I am excited to put up the Christmas tree soon. Part of what shook me out of my Halloween mood was visiting my family (early) for Thanksgiving. It was a quick trip, but a good one. Full of lots of good food, chatting, playing a board game (Camel Up—which was a hit with the kids! Yay!), and other merriment.
It’s funny, as I typed the line above, I first typed “was going home to visit my family” but I corrected it. I don’t know at what point “going home” no longer seemed appropriate for family visits. Part of it is, I suppose, that my family has always been pretty nomadic. There is no house that we all grew up in that we visit. Rather, “home” just travels around with my family, and is wherever my family is. But, now that I have a house, and a partner I love, and friends I love, it seems most correct to think of my house as “home.” And when I visit my family, whatever house or apartment they might be in at the time, they will forever be my family. That’s not to say, whenever I’m with my family, that I don’t feel just a smidge more like myself. Or, at least, a version of myself. It’s a feeling that’s precious to me, and one that was made even more precious by the fact we didn’t get to see each other for so long because of COVID.
Dearth of A Salesman
Speaking of going home, quite a few people picked up In the Dark of the Grove in the weeks since it’s been out, and are now reading about Kyle Thomas and his trip home. It turns out far less merry than mine did. This is, perhaps obviously, incredibly exciting for me. It’s now available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook. The rollout of the book is only just starting, of course. I’ve made some videos. Even did a smidge of advertising. But, now that all the formats are available, I’m going to be getting press releases out, trying to drum up some interviews or appearances—that sort of thing.
I really find the “selling” aspect of all of it hard, personally. You’re not going to see me pushing my book every other second on social media. I think that gets annoying. But, I also know I’ve got to shoulder the marketing. A small press like Gurt Dog doesn’t have the resources major publishers do. Believe me, I’d love nothing more than to leave the marketing to a marketing department and focus on writing. For now, however, it is what it is. So please be patient if I mention In the Dark of the Grove one too many times.
The truth is even large publishers don’t put as much effort into that aspect of things as they used to. So, part of being a writer these days is also being able to market yourself. That means we rely on friends and family and everyone who has liked a book to help spread the word. So many people have already done that for me. Buying the book, posting about it on social media, rating it on Amazon and Goodreads. Every single message has been seen and appreciated, and I’m so thankful for you all
Things I’ve Greatly Enjoyed
Despite being busy with a horror movie marathon, watching other scary movies, and getting stuff together to release a book, I did find many things to enjoy this last month.
This was a pleasant surprise for October! For me, it seemed to come out of nowhere. A loose (more on that in a bit) adaptation of Stephen King’s prequel short story, “Jerusalem’s Lot.” I have not read this story yet, despite being a big fan of the Salem’s Lot book. I have Nightshift, which has the story in it, I just haven’t had a chance to get to it yet. But I’ve heard Chapelwaite is not particularly faithful to it? That’s not terribly surprising, however, as it’s ten hours of television from one short story. Whatever the case may be, I really enjoyed Chapelwaite as a series. Especially for October, where I usually indulge in a lot of horror movies, spooky lit, etc. Adrien Brody is so perfect in the role. If you like vampires, gothic houses, and intolerant asshole villagers—I recommend this!
Absolute Sandman Vol. 1
In the last newsletter, I said I was reading all of Sandman in October. That was… ambitious of me, wasn’t it? The good news is, I can say that I have read all of Volume 1 (again) and have just finished up “Seasons of Mist” in Volume 2. So, not anywhere near finished and it’s mid-November. But, you know, I was kind of busy with other stuff in October. It’s exciting to see the book just get better and better. I am currently listening to the Audible production of the first volume of Sandman. If you only experience the story one way, I’d say the comics are the way to go. But there’s a lot to like about the audio adaptation. If nothing else, it helps connect some dots that might not have been obvious reading the comic one time through. I am now more excited than ever for the Netflix version, and I wonder how much they’ll adapt in season one.
Yours Cruelly, Elvira
I love Elvira. I am not alone in that, of course. Like Dolly Parton, she seems to be a nigh-universally loved figure these days. And it’s about more than just her figure. We gays love her, and she loves the gays. That’s very clear in this book. And, to top it all off she comes out as queer in the book. She doesn’t define it precisely here (and who needs to) so I think “queer” is the best descriptor. In any case, this book is full of stories that both intersect a lot with a lot of celebrity royalty. These stories are, by turns, interesting or funny or horrifying. But the real meat of the book is Elvira’s own story, which is one of overcoming a childhood scarring, abuse (mental and physical), and an entertainment industry that treated women as objects. It’s also kind of amazing, thinking of how beloved she is now, about the many times she had to start over again. How many times things didn’t work out for her. She’s managed to have a fantastic career with one, iconic character despite it all. I don’t read a lot of biographies or autobiographies. But this one was fantastic. Oh, if you’re looking for another great autobiography, I recommend the very entertaining Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim. I thought it was hilarious, and I’m not even a huge Little House on the Prairie fan or anything. I just have vague memories of it from childhood.
Arrakis! Desert planet! The long, long wait is finally over, and boy oh boy was it ever worth it. I am not what you’d call a Dune fanboy, exactly. I read it when I was a teen. Most of it went over my head. I watched the David Lynch movie, and liked it pretty well. It actually holds up okay on repeat viewings, I think. I recently bought the fancy 4K box set of it. So, I’m not NOT a fan of that version. But I think everyone can agree that it didn’t work, including Lynch himself. But there was so much potential there. Potential writ large by the astounding documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. If you need a shot of creative energy, I highly recommend that doc. So, two of my favorite filmmakers (Lynch and Jodorowsky) have touched Dune. Now comes a new favorite filmmaker of mine (Denis Villeneuve who has directed many movies I’ve enjoyed including Prisoners, Arrival, and most especially Blade Runner 2049) to bring his vision to screen.
And, my friends, it is a vision. I saw it on IMAX, and I wish I could have seen it again before Eternals took over the IMAX screens. It looked and sounded amazing, and I hope they return it to IMAX before part 2 comes out again so people who didn’t feel comfortable going to the theater can experience it that way. Hell, I’d go to a marathon show of 1 and 2 on IMAX. The casting is better than I would have even guessed it’d be, and the scope of it is something that’s been kind of missing from a lot of sci-fi as of late.
P.S. - much of Dune was real, and not CGI. I really feel like it makes a huge difference. For a little more on that, read this Architectural Digest story.
Black Halo by Hybrid
I stumbled upon this thanks to Spotify. I’m sad there’s no vinyl of it, but I might buy the special boxed CD set (though I don’t really have a way to play CDs any more) just to support the band. I keep listening and re-listening to this album. If you’re into electronic music with soaring vocals and some heft to its themes, I’d recommend the album. The opening words of the album, written by James Scudamore, are striking.
And you, who never thought to question if this was how things were
supposed to be:
I convict your conviction.
History is contingency, and things could always have been otherwise.
And still might.
And still might will end in time all you held so perpetual.
All you thought was supposed to exist, I only suppose to exist.
And may not, one day soon
Ocean to Ocean by Tori Amos
Let’s get this out of the way. There’s not a Tori Amos I don’t like. I like some less than others, true, but generally I’ve enjoyed everything she’s put out. But there are always those particular albums that stand out in her long, very consistent career. I actually got pulled into the Tori fold with From the Choirgirl Hotel. I eventually went back and listened to (and enjoyed) the albums before this. But Choirgirl, and it’s follow-up To Venus and Back remain favorites. But my absolute favorite album is 2002’s Scarlet’s Walk. I’d say Tori didn’t quite grab my attention as wholly again until 2014’s Unrepentant Geraldines. I saw her in concert with the release, and it was spectacular. Now, fast-forward to 2021 and we have another album that I’d add to the upper-tier of my personal Tori album ratings.
Ocean to Ocean is an album I have listened to on repeat ever since its release. I have no idea how many times I’ve gone through it, but the number has got to be 25+. There’s just something about this release that really resonated with me. Her writing feels so incredibly focused on this one, and she’s tackling themes that I think a lot of us can relate to, in her very Tori fashion.
Scenes from Gay Domesticity
True snippets of my life with my partner.
Accidental Insults / November 16, 2014
Me: Do you still want to go?
Paul: Maybe. Let's see what time they close. You still have to take a shower.
Me: B-but, I already took a shower! Do I not look like I've taken a shower?
Your Monthly Memorable Internet Image
A not-by-me image I stumbled upon. Usually. I’m kind of cheating as this is more of a VIDEO I stumbled upon. My friend Laura was over and we were perusing YouTube and got recommended The Victorian Way by English Heritage. It was hypnotic. I didn’t realize A) It’s very popular and B) It’s been around since 2015. So this might not be news to you. But just in case… here it is. I’ve watched far too many of these videos.
This month, the last week of November, I’ll be releasing a brand-new short story, right here on Psychochronograph. So if you haven’t subscribed, be sure to. And remember these short stories are also on Spotify, Apple Music, and Stitcher if you prefer to subscribe to them there.