Tuesday, November 25, 2008

News Bits and Reminiscences

Writing news

Contributor's Copy of Unspeakable Horror

My latest contributor's copy has arrived. December 1 is the release date for Unspeakable Horror: From the Shadows of the Closet, but the anthology can be pre-ordered here. Click here for author interviews and here to learn more about the collection. My story "Memento Mori" is inside.

Thanks to Glenda Finkelstein for this Nov. 2 review of Covenant, in which she writes:

"This book is a must read for any literary enthusiast. Elissa does a wonderful job in creating this world where the Masari and Yata live in this symbiotic relationship that is based upon ritualistic cannibalism (hence the term Covenant). In spite of the subject matter the novel is not some horrific blood bath, but a thoughtful look into the relationship between these two people groups. This balance that was created by the Covenant to preserve both races is threatened by forces from outside and within their own hearts to free themselves of this enslavement to their DNA and ecology, but may lose their societies should it be successfully destroyed. As heart wrenching as the Covenant is, extinction is worse. Join this journey of faith, doubts, heroic actions, and questionable ethics as this saga is played out upon the backdrop of this primordial world where anything can happen..."

More various and sundries follow...(continued)

Plant news

The Agave americana ("century plant") in my neighborhood has had a blessed event. I took these photos (fifth set in the longitudinal series) on November 20:

Agave Junior

Compare with the absence of this offshoot in this photo from July 14.

"Century plant" is a misnomer. According to the San Diego Zoo, "The Agave americana is often called the century plant because was reputed to bloom only once in 100 years, but that's an exaggeration. It does only bloom once in its lifetime, but usually between 7 and 20 years. The main plant then dies, but most species produce shoots that will take over and grow to maturity."

The bud stalk has gained girth since the summer, its green seed pods have turned brown, and its leaning has increased.

Agave americana fruits

Compare with this July 14 photo.

Agave americana bud stalk

Here's the bud stalk rundown:
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008

Bird news

On Friday, November 21, I happened upon this gull convention:

Gull Convention 1

There must have been hundreds of gulls in this parking lot. It looked like a scene out of Hitchcock.

Gull Convention 2

The lot is about 20 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico and several miles from a series of lakes, but it's fairly close to the county landfill.

Gull Convention 3

Some reminiscing...

Also on Friday I saw this sign:

Gas at $1.93/Gal. on Fri., Nov. 21, 2008

I took this shot through the windshield of my car as I was stopped at a traffic light, traveling home from my writing workshop. I'm old enough to remember the oil crisis of the 1970s, and I'm barely old enough to remember when gas in the U.S. cost something like 30 cents a gallon (full service, plus you got a toy!).

In my travels this year, I've bought gas for as high as $4.01/gal. (and seen prices go higher) for regular unleaded.

This U.S. Department of Energy graph shows the price of gasoline, in both nominal (i.e., not adjusted for inflation) and real (year 2000) dollars, from 1949 through 2007.

In nominal dollars, the price of regular unleaded gas in the U.S. crossed the one-dollar mark back in 1980 and crossed the two-dollar mark in 2005 -- much more recently than I remembered. Last week I felt as though I hadn't seen gas priced below $2/gal. in ages.

According to zFacts.com, the state with the cheapest gas prices on Monday, November 24, 2008, was Montana, at $1.58/gal. I'm finishing up this entry from the Homosassa Library on Tuesday, November 25, and have seen the price drop to $1.84/gal. at one of my local stations -- though a place closer to the library is still up at $2.04.

"Shell" is one of the first two words I learned to spell. (The other was "Marx," not as in Karl or in Brothers, but as in the toy company, thanks to TV commercials.) I forget which word came first, but I distinctly remember sitting in my parents' black Rambler and making goo-goo eyes at the tall gas sign at the station just beyond the McDonald Avenue elevated subway tracks. I asked my mother what the Shell sign said.

This is Shell's 1955 logo, the one I remember seeing as a kid. I also remember the Sinclair brontosaurus, the old Mobil Pegasus, and the Esso (pre-Exxon) tiger -- but Shell was the station in my immediate Brooklyn neighborhood.

Back then, McDonald Avenue also sported trolley tracks cutting through the macadam, though the trolley was before my time. Thanks to the Forgotten New York tour of Gravesend, Brooklyn, I found this shot and commentary:

Writes, Joe DeMarco: "In the summer of 2004, workmen were busy ripping out the trolley and railroad legacy of McDonald Avenue; though trolley service had ended in the Fifties, freight service of the South Brooklyn Railway occasionally plied the tracks on the way to the Coney Island yards until 1978. The tracks had lain fallow since; after being paved over in the 1980s, they were finally yanked out about 20 years later. The tracks carried the McDonald Avenue route, #50. A short stretch of track is still detectable, though, at Shell Road where it meets West 6th Street alongside the Culver el (F train)."

(So far as I know, Shell Road bears no relation to the Shell station. The intersection is a few miles south of where I grew up.)

This shot by Tim Skoldberg at the Forgotten New York site shows the first kind of subway car I ever remember riding. In fact, I remember my very first subway ride. I must have been about two, and I screamed in my mother's arms as that behemoth pulled up to the Avenue N elevated subway station because it was frickin' loud and it hurt my ears like hell. Unlike in newer cars, those windows could be opened by passengers, which probably explained why the sills inside were consistently sooty. The seat backs and bottoms alternated between a comfy red (velveteen or leatherette, I forget) and a sticky, uncomfortable yellow wicker. I made a special effort to find non-wicker seat bottoms.

As for my other "first spelling word," I had a particular hankering for Marx trucks, like the one shown here in Don Bruno's collection of pressed steel toy trucks:

I can therefore thank crass commercialism for my start in reading.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving!

Covenant, the first volume in the Deviations Series, is available from Aisling Press, and from AbeBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Territory, Borders, Buecher.ch, Buy.com, BuyAustralian.com, DEAstore, eCampus.com, libreriauniversitaria.it, Libri.de, Loot.co.za, Powell's Books, and Target. The Deviations page has additional details.


Blogger Shelby said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading here this morning.. I posted a link to your "Old Men of Revere Beach" on my blog today. I am compiling a list of 1,000 posts to read before you die - and that post is at the top of my list.

Thank you for sharing.

Lovely. Simply lovely.

Take care.

7:19 AM  

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