Saturday, June 28, 2008

VMNH Geocaching Day

 Although to many it might seem very near invisible, one of Martinsville, VA's most attractive and socio-economically progressive institutions is the Virginia Museum of Natural History. It conducts significant research, hosts some very appealing exhibits (such as dinosaurs, dinosaurs, and dinosaurs!), and also sponsors lots of positive community programs, such as day camps for kids and teens, outings to clean up local streams and rivers, health seminars for seniors, introduction to geocaching!

Bright and early this morning, I headed out to the Gravely Nature Preserve, just outside Martinsville's city limits, where 30-some local folks interested in geocaching came out to learn just what it's all about. I had volunteered to help out, so I tagged along to hinder as best I might a group of up-and-coming cachers on the mile-and-a-half trail. The young lady in charge of the outing, who goes by the handle MuseumWren, did a really nice job of planning the activity and getting folks together to learn about how to use multi-billion dollar military satellites to find Tupperware in the woods. Several of the groups went after the caches that I had set up on the trail a couple of months ago, and I believe each of them managed to make the finds -- even the tricky little micro-container planted in a tree.

I went with several very nice folks who really took to the challenge right from the start. They had originally targeted just one of my hides, but we ended up going to all three, plus a puzzle cache that MuseumWren set up. Unfortunately, one young lad stumbled upon a yellowjacket nest, and he and his dad got stung several times -- but they both shrugged off the stings and went on to make a couple of tricky finds. What troopers!

Best of all, I finally got to meet a local cacher (handle Kuykenew), whom I've known online for several months; and my good friends, the Albaneses, who've become geocachers of dark renown, showed up as well. This was a really nice activity that got a bunch of strangers together for a good time and a wee bit of education.

Tonight, I grilled out chicken for my mom and me. The rest of the day has been devoted to meeting that looming deadline. Hoo boy, it's closing fast.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Grendel? Wampus Cat? Larry Talbot?

After going great guns on the latest writing project for several days, I took a break yesterday and hit the trail to grab a couple of geocaches. I was a pretty fair distance out on the Osprey Trail, near Lake Townsend, just north of Greensboro, when something came barreling through the woods, a couple of hundred feet away. At first, I thought it was a deer—it looked to be about the size of a big buck—but as it leaped over a fallen tree, I saw that it was dark gray and had a long, bushy tail. There were too many trees between it and me to get a real good look at it, and at the speed it was running, it was out of sight in a few seconds.

I don't think it was a dog, and it was way too large to be a fox. Possibly a coyote, as they do come around these parts now and again, but if so, it was sure a big one. Whatever it was, I'm kind of glad it went hauling ass in the other direction, rather than right at me.

The rest of the hike, I kept a sharp eye out, but I never saw nor heard any further sign of it or its kin. It was the one time I've hit the trail without taking my phone along, and for a while there, I rather wished I had it with me.

I did find a couple of nice caches, at least, making for a grand total of 329. I expect I will add several to that tally this coming weekend.

Other Gods, by the way, is now in stock at Horror Mall. Get out there and snag yourself a copy, if you've yet to do that snagging thing.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dark Deadlines

Nothing like a tight deadline to get the writing process moving fast and hot. Can't say I'm too fond of having to write at such a pace on a regular basis, yet when I do, the prose tends to hit on all cylinders. Little word wastage, and the saved words prove to be mostly the right ones.

Try it sometime, even if there's not money riding on the deal. Might be worth your while.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Porcupine Sex

It's a pity that certain communiques didn't come up prior to the editors' panel at Mo*Con this weekend. Porcupine Sex

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mo News Is Good News

Ye Olde Mo*Con III Report...

With the string of snafus getting longer and nastier at the Indianapolis airport yesterday afternoon, I wasn't sure I was going to make it home before growing too old to know where I was. But after a very late departure and a route that turned a 170-mile flight into an over 500-mile flight, I made my connection at Chicago's O'Hare (only just) and arrived back in Greensboro last night, barely an hour later than scheduled. Of course I had heard about the big storms in the midwest, but until I ended up flying over portions of Indiana, Missouri, and Illinois, I had no real conception of how widespread it was. From 35,000 feet, as far as the eye could see, the midwest looked like the world's biggest mud puddle. In places, there was more water than terrain; it looked like an endless, shallow lake with occasional land features protruding. On Friday, just after I arrived, Indianapolis got some further big rain, but it broke later in the day, and the rest of the weekend was beautiful.

Mo*Con III got off to a propitious start: as soon as I checked into the hotel, I set out to find some nearby geocaches — in the pouring rain, of course. Found a couple; then headed over to the Broaddus house, courtesy of Maurice's beautiful and talented young assistant, Lauren (who deserves special credit for going far beyond the call of duty in transporting folks all over creation and making sure Maurice was doing what he oughta be when he oughta be). Met Maurice's lovely wife Sally (also deserving of special credit, particularly for enduring the burdens Maurice drops upon her!) and their energetic kids, plus many of the other guests and nefarious infiltrators, such as her hineyness Alethea Kontis, Kelli "Horror Wench" Dunlap, Nick Mamatas, Chesya Burke, Sara Larson, Michael West, and Kim Paffenroth. Then I left again with Lauren to abduct Matt Cardin upon his arrival at the airport, which we did in short order.

Back to the Broaddus's for an excellent dinner of chicken marsala and fettucine Alfredo, then to the Dwelling Place (Where It All Happened). Then, for one of the weekend's highlights, I led Lauren, the Wench, and Princess Alethea on a geocaching excursion to a nearby graveyard. Found the cache in short order and then headed out to a nearby park to seek another one. It was here that things began to unravel. Turned out there was no direct way to the cache other than to bushwhack through thick foliage, so Kelli and Lauren remained near the very busy road while Alethea and I ventured into the brush. We come upon water...and more water...and more water...and finally, Alethea says she's going to hold up. I go in farther and farther...and suddenly I'm surrounded by deep water on all sides. It's some real flooding we have here! Then I hear Alethea hollering at me that the cops have arrived on the scene. I come out of the woods to hear Lauren telling a couple of officers, "We're from the church! This is a church outing!" Kelli's telling the cops that the guy coming out of the woods will explain. So I tell them all about geocaching; they tell us we probably don't want to be skulking around in the woods and busy road in this area. We all agree it's a good idea, so we head back to The Dwelling Place, and ten to one the cops went out to hunt caches. The band Mother Grove was now hard at it, cranking out some rockin' Celtic sounds, which I enjoyed a lot. Eventually, I headed back to the hotel; no telling what time it was.

Saturday was a day of panels and food. Got to meet my longtime online Viking buddy, Bob Freeman; the beautiful Tracy Jones; redheaded horror firebrand Debbie Kuhn; Doug Warrick, Jason Sizemore, and many of the attending Indiana Horror Writers (forgive me for not having everyone's name in the old mental file cabinet). I was then pleased as all get-out to get to see old friend Gary Braunbeck after too many years, and to meet Lucy Snyder for the first time. Some invigorating panel discussion followed; first on spirituality and writing, with Matt Cardin (moderator), Maurice, Nick, Bob, Kim, Gary, and myself. Then I moderated a panel about editing, which ended up being fairly lively, with Nick, Jason, Chesya, Matt, and Frank Creed. Luncheon followed, consisting of many varieties of chili, some hot and spicy enough to make me smile. Then...geocaching. Snagged a couple (including the one from the waterlogged park, at long last), then returned for the Role of Gender in Horror panel, featuring Lucy, Gary, Chesya, Kelli, and Natalie Crish.

Spent an enjoyable Saturday evening back at Chez Broaddus, with a pizza supper and hangout time in the yard (a.k.a. mosquito heaven) with beaucoup Mo*Conners. Returned to the hotel at a reasonable hour (just after midnight, I believe) and went geocaching.

Sunday Morning opened with a church service at the Dwelling Place, the main feature being Brian Keene's testimony from the first Mo*Con. Very enlightening, moving, and entertaining. The service was often insightful, but it needed a good editor. After lunch, it was a wee bit more geocaching — this time unsuccessful, alas — and then off for the airport debacle. At least I got to spend some additional quality time with Matt and Nick while waiting on our respective flights.

Maurice, you have my admiration for undertaking an event as involved as Mo*Con, for which you receive mainly the intangible benefits of the company you bring in. It's got to be physically taxing as well as emotionally draining, but I hope you're up to it for a long time to come, as I really hope to return — even if I'm just a lowly infiltrator. For me it was a memorable experience — uplifting in every way.

Plus, I worked in some good geocaching and got some of us busted by the cops. How much better could it get?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Don D'Ammassa: "OTHER GODS" Not Entirely Full of Bilgewater

Well, the above can be inferred, given Don D'Ammassa's new review of Other Gods at his Critical Mass Web site. D'Ammassa writes, "Other Gods is a uniformly good collection with a few stories that stand out a little way, although the general quality is so high that you might not notice. The treatment varies from understated to quite explicit...not a bad story in the collection. A must-read for horror fans."

Visit here to get the whole sheboygan: Critical Mass Reviews, 6/8/08.

Then go here and buy the damn book already: Other Gods at Horror Mall

My big ol' outlining job is finished and sent to the appropriate parties, so now we play the waiting game. Haven't put in a stint like that since working on Dark Shadows: Dreams of the Dark back in '98.

This coming weekend, I'll be one of the troublemakers at Mo*Con III in Indianapolis. If you're in that part of the country, please come round. It's only $10 for the weekend, and there will be all kinds of marginally decadent goings-on for the amusement of attendees. (You didn't hear that from me, though.) Other folks involved include Maurice Broaddus (the brains behind the bash), Chesya Burke, Matt Cardin, Bob Freeman, Nick Mamatas, Kim Paffenroth, Lucy Snyder, and a number of other societal outcasts.

I can even fix you up with a copy of Other Gods, no questions asked.

At some point, I'll be excusing myself from the revelry for a time, as between the hotel and The Dwelling Place, there are at least 20 geocaches waiting to be claimed by a certain transient southerner.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hot Parking and Grabbing

Yeah, so it didn't occur to me until some time after logging a number of geocaches last night that my phrasing might not have been the world's most prudent. Spent several hours caching in High Point with my friend Cindy, who used to work with me at the office; she goes by "Cute Chick," and I must say it's an apt handle. It was 97 degrees last night, so we worked up a good sweat even though we were in the air-conditioned car half the time (most of the caches were quick finds, known as "Park and Grabs"). So what do I do to log them but post "Went out for a HOT evening of parking and grabbing with Cute Chick." I hope she doesn't lob a brick at me, but there were too many logs to bother changing, and hey, the wording has a nice ring.

This weekend, I'm on a marathon writing session, trying to finish and polish a very important outline before Monday morning. I'm making good progress, but tomorrow's going to be a full day of it. Past the halfway point this evening, so at least that bodes well for the next big session.

Haven't blogged much lately, so I hope someone's still out there reading occasionally. Don't give up; I'm still alive and caching.