Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Summer With the Dead


In Sherry Decker's newest novel, A Summer With the Dead, a young woman named Maya Pedersen goes to spend a summer at her aunt Elly's farmhouse in rural Washington state, anticipating a relaxing few months following an emotionally exhausting break-up with her abusive husband. Complicating matters, Maya suffers an array of obsessive-compulsive behaviors as well as occasional hallucinations, which she hopes will vanish as her state of mind improves in the remote, tranquil setting.

Naturally, nothing is ever so simple. It isn't long before Elly reveals her own share of peculiarities, including the occasional personality swap with a gruff male Maya comes to call "Mr. Elly." A hired hand, a young man named Coty, appears to take delight in scaring the devil out of Maya, yet she finds herself strangely drawn to him. A fall down a dark well and a desperate crawl to safety through a tight subterranean passage do little to soothe her frayed nerves.

As Maya's dreams of an idyllic summer fade, strange apparitions, disembodied voices, and a disturbing sense of some dark presence—or presences—around the farm cause her to further doubt her own perceptions. Coty turns out to be anything but what he initially seemed. And as time goes on, Elly reveals her deepest, most secretive side to Maya, which at first repulses her but eventually comes to fascinate her.

As the dark torrents of Elly's life sweep Maya up, the fates of both women become inextricably entwined.

Decker's authorial voice is generally strong, especially early in the novel, with an appealing focus on the eeriness of the setting and the gradual deepening of the mysteries around the farm. Her portrayal of the characters leans toward the utilitarian, with dialogue being the primary conveyor of emotion and motivation, mostly to good effect, though at times the characters' laconic responses to increasing preternatural chaos challenge the reader's grip on the tale's internal logic. The climax, while almost cathartic, suffers from too skeletal a rendering of both external and internal conflicts.

Despite these occasional weak elements, A Summer With the Dead overall succeeds as an engaging supernatural mystery. Three and a half out of five Damned Rodan's Dirty Firetinis.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fire in the City

From a song I wrote many years ago, titled "Fire in the City":

Pollution of the heart and mind
Runs rampant in the human haze.
And drowning in this sea of life,
How hard it is not to hate.


Human beings have always been a reeking mess, and I admit I find it difficult not to despise the entire species, the fact I belong to it notwithstanding. In the midst of this week's most publicized horror, I've found some damn good hearts among my friends and acquaintances, of all political affiliations, races, religious leanings (or lack thereof), and for at least this fleeting moment, I can say

How hard it is to hate.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Through a Mythos Darkly


I received my contributor copy of Through a Mythos Darkly the other day, and people, let me tell you, this is one big, beautiful monster. It's from PS Publishing in the UK, edited by Glynn Owen Barrass and Brian M. Sammons, and features my story, "Excerpts From the Diaries of Harold P. Linklatter" (no, not Art Linkletter, you great sillies), along with 16 other tales by the likes of Cody Goodfellow, Jeffrey Thomas, John Langan, Robert M. Price, Pete Rawlik, Don Webb, William Meikle, Christine Morgan, Konstantine Paradias, D. A. Madigan, Sam Stone, Edward Morris, Tim Waggoner, Lee Clark Zumpe, Nick Mamatas & Molly Tanzer, and Damien Angelica Walters. The gorgeous cover is by Tomislav Tikulin.

Within these pages lurk 17 stories of alternate history, set in the dark universe of H. P. Lovecraft, kith and kin. Indeed, here you'll find Great Old Ones, Deep Ones, Them Ones, All Kinds of Ones, woven into worlds that might have been or are yet to come.

"Excerpts From the Diaries of Harold P. Linklatter" begins in the familiar world of the late 1960s—the day of the Apollo 11 moon landing. And as time moves toward the present day, the world becomes something altogether not the one you see out your window today. It's something much different. Much stranger (and yes, might ought believe that).

I must tell you that this book is not inexpensive—£30, (just shy of 40 US. dollars)—but for real, this is just about a dark fantasy reader's darkest dream. In addition to a stellar list of contributors, the packaging is gorgeous and sturdy, with a glossy slipcover around the bound, illustrated cover.

You can pick up Through a Mythos Darkly direct from PS Publishing, and they do take Paypal as well as major credit cards. Dawdle not!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Da Nukular Family

"Da Nukular Family" (Team DNF) at some old ruins
not far from "Riley's Rest"

If one is to be coerced into geocaching by a bunch of ne'er-do-wells, one might as well be coerced on a beautiful August Sunday, particularly when it's Hiroshima Day. Today, I was essentially forced to venture out and about with my extended nuclear family—Yoda Rob, Cupdaisy, Robgso, and Suntigres—because there had been wishful blathering on someone's part (not mine... really) about a visit to Hillsborough BBQ Company, which is one of this group's favorite destinations for lunch when out on a geocaching expedition.

And so it was, left with little choice but to comply, I transported this crew into the wilds of Orange County between Hillsborough and Durham, targeting some caches in the deep woods, others along the not-so-lonely country roads. Our primary target was "Riley's Rest," GC3N27Z (Note: this web page is viewable only to premium geocaching.com members), a fairly compact little multi-cache at a tiny, ancient family graveyard in the woods not far from the Eno River. There are eight marked graves in this old boneyard, where members of a certain Riley family lie in repose. Five of the graves, marked with rough stones and crudely carved inscriptions, date back to the early to mid 1800s. Three of the graves, which have granite markers and more legible inscriptions, date to the late 1800s and early 1900s. To find the cache, one has to find information on the grave markers, do some math, and then go hunt the container, which we found in good condition.
"An Ode to Pork," posted at Hillsborough BBQ Co.

Another of the day's favorite locations we discovered just west of Hillsborough, on an overgown, all-but-abandoned trail at King's Highway Park, which Old Rob and I had visited some time ago hunting a number of now-archived caches. There was a relatively new one here—"King's Highway: Trestle View," GC6GWJ7 (Note: this web page is viewable only to premium geocaching.com members)—that took us to an aging, very high railroad trestle over the Eno. I believe the tracks are still active, but given the evident condition of the trestle, I'm not sure I'd want to be riding on a train passing over it.

Luckily for her, Cupdaisy made herself useful and provided us with a nice cache bar today. Captain Morgan's Long Island Iced Tea makes for welcome refreshment after a long, hot hike in rugged terrain.

And so, indeed, fulfilling the most ardent desires of this damned, depraved, and deviant nuclear family, we partook of a rather late lunch at Hillsborough BBQ Company. For me, the beef brisket plate, which is dang near unbeatable, and a refreshing concoction of rum, ginger beer, and lime called a Dark and Stormy something or another. It was good, yes.

At the end of the day, we picked up 13 caches, bringing my total find count to 9,561. Some people say I have a problem.

No. Just no.
A couple of views of the old railroad trestle
The little graveyard at "Riley's Rest"
Damned, depraved, and deviant Team DNF at Blackwood Farm Park
A view across the Eno River from "King's Highway: Trestle View"

Monday, July 31, 2017

Running Ragged in Charleston


Once a year or so, Ms. B. & I get together with our friends Terry & Beth and go somewhere for a long weekend of something akin to rest and rejuvenation. We've hit Asheville twice; we met in Savannah once a couple of years ago; and we just spent a couple of of sweltering but damn near jubilant days in Charleston, SC. And what do you mean, "Was there geocaching?" Ha-ha, you make funny.

Friday, ass-crack of dawn: Kimberly and I hit the road, bound first for Columbia, SC, where we stopped to hunt a few Civil War–themed caches along the Timmerman Trail, just south of the city. Based on a number of recent alligator sightings in the area, we wondered whether we might see some roaming about — the terrain here does scream "Gator!" — but no, we had to settle for caches instead. Afterward, we continued to the nearby Congaree National Park, where we joined up with Terry & Beth and had ourselves a kick-ass picnic.

Friday, in the ferocious midday heat: Our HQ in Charleston was an old — and very likely haunted — two-story rental house on a narrow lane within a mile of the French Quarter, convenient to just about all the amenities, loaded with character, and generally comfortable but for Terry & Beth's rather too-short bed. There was an intriguing little room beneath the stairwell — locked, of course — from which the faint sounds of movement and an occasional eerie groan would issue. The resident ghost, we rightly assumed, but sadly for us, as with the alligators, we never managed a meaningful tête-à-tête. As with most of the old houses in Charleston, there wasn't a right angle or horizontal surface to be found within or without, and the possibility of some Lovecraftian horror or another emerging from these caddywhompus physical planes lurked ever in our minds. Well, some of our minds, at least — those of us who recognize such uncanny things for the uncanny things they actually are.

It wasn't long before we commenced our obligatory research expedition, which led us to a couple of interesting wine bars and a little restaurant called Juliet, where we had some decent pizza and service so attentive it seemed almost bizarre, which we learned was likely due to a review in an influential local publication that gave the restaurant what-for over substandard service. I hope for them it's a good lesson learned, as we did enjoy ourselves there. For afters, we found ourselves a rooftop bar at a place called Stars, which clearly catered to a clientele of an age bracket that made us out as senior citizens, but we had a scenic view, and thus none of us complained. The sky was kind of pretty too.
Aaaand...we're off!
L) Our quarters on Rose Lane in Charleston; R) the ghostly presence under the stairs?
Surely, the place where IT hides.
View of the early evening sky from the rooftop at Stars
Saturday, the almost-ass-crack of dawn: For breakfast, we tried out a nearby little place called Sunrise Xpress, which we enjoyed so much we did it again on Sunday. Service there was a little slow, even disorganized, but the food was first-rate, and I think we would all give it a decent recommendation. After breakfast, Terry and I spent some time on a geocache hunt in Cannon Park, while Beth and Ms. B. walked down to an arts & crafts center in search of artsy-fartsy implements. Eventually, we rejoined the ladies and ventured forth to an interesting little place called Pounce, the Cat Cafe, where you can have drinks and spend time with bunches of kittens, all of which are up for adoption. This was a difficult, difficult place to depart, I can tell you. Good company there indeed.

Then, while the rest of our expeditionary force checked out the local markets, I trekked a few blocks over to the Charleston Public Library, where I was able to snag a creative little geocache amid the stacks. It's a hide type I'm particularly fond of, and this was a textbook example of how to do it right (GC1Z9Y5). I rejoined the group, and off we went again, soon to find ourselves at what proved to be our happiest of happy places: another wine and tapas bar called O'Hara & Flynn, where we were treated to some superb wine and delicious vittles in a gorgeous setting. From the moment we entered, the proprietor struck me as a familiar-looking chap; eventually I determined he was a dead-ringer for my old, dead friend Harry. My stating of this fact sent Beth into a fit of hysterics. Why I cannot necessarily say, but as my late friend had a warped sense of humor, I am certain he would have approved.

One of our most intriguing discoveries was a place called 5Church, a large, ancient church that has been converted to a couple of fairly upscale restaurants and bars. On the ceiling of the "sanctuary," a significant amount of text of The Art of War has been partially transcribed. And in the next section of the church, we found an almost divine barbecue joint called Queology, where Terry and I satisfied our by-now irresistible cravings for smoked dead animal with a half-rack each of excellent baby back ribs.
The ladies in front of the ornate bar at O'Hara & Flynn
Cutting up in church
A portion of the church's ceiling
I expect we made my dead friend Harry's doppelgänger quite happy because, after dinner, we returned to O'Hara & Flynn to listen to some live music performed by a male/female duo who, much to my delight, played almost exclusively samba and Latin jazz of 1960s vintage, the guitarist on a unique and beautiful ten-string. We were sufficiently enthused about the place, the refreshments, and the music to linger until our proprietor was ready to throw us out.
Blood on the pillow

And having walked many miles over the course of the day, in the heat of the furnaces of hell, we decided to Uber it back to our quarters, where there came a bit of new strangeness: when I went up to our bedroom and turned back the bed, I discovered a good-sized spot of fresh blood on my pillow. As near as we could tell, none of us were bleeding, so we found ourselves baffled. Now, at some point in our investigation of this phenomenon, Brugger noticed that I had a cut on my elbow and declared the mystery solved. Not even close, I would say, but when a prosaic answer presents itself, the conventional mind will latch onto it and stubbornly refuse to accept the less traditional yet more obvious alternative. Being that I had no recollection of getting cut at any time during our wanderings, I can with some confidence postulate that our ghostly presence, for its own nefarious purposes, drew some blood unbeknownst to me. This conclusion is, in fact, inevitable to the perceptive and focused mind of someone grounded in science and not given over to womanly imaginings.

Sunday, not-quite-the-ass-crack-of dawn: Another delicious if s-l-o-w breakfast at Sunrise Xpress, and then time to pack up, clean up, and head over to Magnolia Cemetery for some sightseeing and a virtual cache (H. L. Hunley, GC563E) of particular historical interest. In addition to the possibility of ghosts, we faced more potential encounters with gators but again, dammit, came up empty in that department. For hanging out with large, carnivorous reptiles of the marsh, this was not the trip. Instead, we found a serene, somber, picturesque setting with thousands of graves dating back to Civil War days; massive, Spanish moss–draped trees rising above worn gravestones and monuments; and acres of marshland teeming with herons, cranes, egrets, and other creatures of the wild. Truly one of the most impressive boneyards I've experienced, equal to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York and Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. It's the kind of graveyard that might take a little of the disappointment out of being buried.
Obelisk-like mausoleum at Magnolia Cemetery

The moment of excitement came when Ms. B. began holler for help from some distance away. We thought perhaps she was being mauled by a gator, but as Terry and I sallied forth to investigate, we discovered she had blundered into a spiderweb, occupied by its colorful and quite sizable inhabitant — who, in the end, was almost certainly more put out than she was. Still, Ms. B. did give Terry and me a pretty good dressing-down for making insufficient haste in our rescue effort. My explanation that we were simply showing due respect to the deceased by not running through the cemetery fell upon at least marginally receptive ears, but I did indicate for future reference that if one is going to squall and thrash about as if one has caught fire, it's probably best not to do it in the resting place of the dead.

At last, it was time to depart, so we said our goodbyes to Terry & Beth — only to run into them again a hundred miles on, so we had a rather prolonged lunch at some Fatz restaurant along the interstate. And then... onward. A few more caches. And home.

Till the next outing with good friends.
While alligators on this trip might have been scarce, our colorful, multi-legged friends were not.
An interesting little sapling discovered in Magnolia Cemetery
The Incredible Two-Headed Beth-Brugger rising from the grave
Serenity in the shade

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Cryptic Morgue Pit


Yeah, what a hectic week. After months of preparation and planning, the company I work for by day has moved from its longtime digs on Market St. in Greensboro to a new office out by Piedmont Triad International Airport. I can't say I'm thrilled about the change — my new daily commute is actually longer than my drive when I lived in the city of Chicago and worked in the northern suburbs (square mileage–wise, Greensboro is larger than San Francisco or Boston, with almost enough urban sprawl to boot). I suppose I was somewhat spoiled by having to drive no more than 15 minutes to any of my various workplaces in Greensboro since I moved here in 1987, usually with minor to moderate traffic issues. Now, it's the daily Asshole Parade on Interstate 40 and U.S. 29, with few reasonable alternative routes to and from my place. It certainly ain't helping my blood pressure.

That said, this is still the best day job I've ever had or could probably want, at least as long as I'm on someone else's payroll. The pay ain't that great, but the benefits are fair to middlin', and I couldn't work with a better team of folks — except may Troy, but we're not going to talk about Troy. We're not going to talk about Troy at all; we're going to leave him out of it.

However, this isn't quite the end of it. These new quarters are actually temporary, as our permanent space, a couple of buildings over, is not quite ready for us to move in. We'll probably remain in our current location for a couple of months and then go through the whole moving thing all over again. For the moment, though, I kind of like the office where we're situated. It's a cool (read chilly) building, which really sits well with me, and there's lots of space for walking with Ms. B. at break times. There are, in fact, a handful of caches on the premises, though of course I claimed them several years ago when they first came out. However, once I determine whether there's adequate usable space, there's a good chance I'll hide a new one or two nearby.

The past couple of days, with all the upheaval, everyone's been kind of punchy, and our work spaces have been designated as summer camp cabins, with the occupants responsible for naming them. The space I share with a couple of others has become known as the Cryptic Morgue Pit, and I was not entirely responsible for this, a fact that gives me at least some hope for certain of my co-workers.

Busy, busy.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Racketeers


Last night... such a fateful night... a half dozen or so dangerous men with musical instruments gathered at The Daily Grind in Martinsville for the fourth Songwriters Showcase and unleashed a racket fit to wake the dead — and now you oughta see the all those walking dead shambling past my window. It is to be afeared.

The Songwriters Showcases present local artists playing all original songs, and the first three filled up the house. Last night, we started out with a somewhat smaller group, both musicians and attendees, but over the course of the evening, more and more people filed in, and at the end of it all, the place was nearly packed. Each musician brought a unique sound to the place, from refined, jazzy instrumental (Darryl) to raucous improv (Angus and Daily Grind owner Daniel). I played a couple of sets, five songs in all, and no one threw any shit at me, which was a refreshing change of pace. Okay, well, no one's actually thrown any shit at me, but I bet they wanted to. Unfortunately, none of the ladies who have made some exceptional contributions to the gatherings came round last night, which was disappointing. In particular, I was hoping Morgan would be there to play some of her signature, Celtic-inspired ballads, mais alas....

Come Friday, September 22, I'll be part of a two-man show — The Writers Round, Featuring Tokyo Rosenthal and Mark Rainey — in which each of us takes several turns playing individual sets over the course of the evening. I can always use as many hecklers as possible, so I hope some of you folks can make the show. That's going to be a busy weekend too, as on Saturday, September 23, The Smith Brothers will be presenting a five-year anniversary screening of Young Blood: Evil Intentions at the Hollywood Cinema in Martinsville, and I'll be on hand to autograph copies of the novel. More on that event a bit later.

Finally, to leave you with a sample of what was and what will be... last night's performance of "Fire in the City"....

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trauma of the Living Dead

I was saddened to hear of George Romero's passing yesterday. What a career he had — and what a driving force in the horror field. But if he had made no more movies after Night of the Living Dead, I suspect Romero might still have attained legendary status. Night scared the daylights out of countless moviegoers, including my mom (and possibly my dad), and it traumatized me years before I even got to watch it....

1968:

I remember that first TV commercial for Night, or at least a portion of it — a brief shot of one of the undead gnawing on a human hand; a shot of a desiccated, staring skull; a shrill, nerve-shattering scream. I was eight or nine years old at the time, and that advertisement cost me serious sleep over a couple of evenings. In fact, this movie looked scary enough that I was pretty sure I didn't even want to see it.

But then the kicker: Night of the Living Dead came to one of our local drive-in theaters on a double bill with Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster. Now, whatever my feelings about flesh-eating zombies, I was by this time in life a serious daikaiju geek, and the opportunity to see a Godzilla movie at the theater was not one to pass up. Naturally, I asked my parents if they'd take me. They answered with the dreaded "maybe."

What happened was that Mom and Dad went to the drive-in to check out the movies, to see if they were "okay" for the likes of me. Well, the next day, Mom very firmly told me I could not go. Night of the Living Dead was just way too much. Those zombies were eating people! I assured her I didn't want to see Night of the Living Dead, I just wanted to see Ghidrah.

"You're not going anywhere near that drive-in theater!" was my traumatized mother's reply.

And so, no Ghidrah for me that go-round. In fact, much to my dismay, it was years later before I got to see it — well into high school, if I remember. As for Night of the Living Dead, I believe I was in college when I finally got to experience that treat. By then hardly traumatizing, but it certainly entertained me. And to this day, it remains one of my favorite horror movies. My most memorable experience with it was Halloween 1983 — my first in Chicago — when Night played on a double-feature with Eraserhead at the sadly long-gone Varsity Theater in Evanston. And just a few years ago, the Rives Theater in Martinsville — where I saw the majority of the horror and monster movies of my youth — Night played as a midnight movie at Halloween.

Yeah, I don't know how many times I've seen it now, but I'll probably watch it quite a few more times before I pass on over myself. Not to mention the original Dawn of the Dead, which also rates among my favorites.

Thanks, George, for those treasured memories you've provided. I remember you for those, but I know many folks who will remember a warm and genuine soul who touched their lives in many other wonderful ways. R.I.P.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Old Farts in the Park

Yoda Rob, Old Rodan, Diefenbaker — 3/4 of Team Old Fart (photo by Robert Isenhour)
It felt like a regular reunion of old farts today, for Yoda Rob, Old Rob, Diefenbaker, and Old Rodan have not turned the woods dark and dismal for way too long a spell. The four of us made a day of it in Rowan County, mostly at the expansive Dan Nicholas Park, with a relatively brief incursion into the nearby town of Salisbury for a handful of (mostly) park-&-grab hides. I added another 23 caches to my total count, which now stands at 9,533. Hmm — 10K by the end of the year, I wonder...?
Is that the Team Old Fart logo etched into that tree?
Surely, none of us would do such a thing.
(Cough, Yoda, cough, Rob...)

We expected a miserably hot day, and make no mistake, the temperature got a good ways up there, but it was hardly as awful as it has been recently, especially in the humidity department. At times, we even had a pleasant breeze blowing. We found a good variety of cache hides—some micros, some big honking ammo cans, some well-camouflaged, some just for the numbers. Individually, each of the Old Farts made a good showing, with no one earning the Dead Weight Award today. Inside the park, we put in about a five-mile hike and found 13 of the 14 caches we hunted. There's a fair chance the one we didn't find is simply missing, but nonetheless it can be frustrating to look at the geocaching map and see among all those smileys one ugly, bitchy, flingin'-flangin' sucky unclaimed cache.

Interestingly...perhaps...one of the caches in the park was hidden at a picnic table in one of the camping areas, and it just so happened the campsite was occupied. I figured, what the hell, I'll go ask the attendant gentleman whether he'd mind if I searched his picnic table in hopes of finding a geocache. Happily, as it turns out, his wife and daughter were at least occasional geocachers, and he seemed rather excited that there was one literally under their noses they could hunt. I did manage to make a quick find, and it was kind of fun to be that unexpected visitor making what many might consider a weird-ass request.

March of the Old Farts (photo by
Robert Isenhour)
My favorites of the day were actually among the urban hides in Salisbury proper, one hiding inside a hole in a telephone pole, cleverly disguised; another residing some ways up in a tree next to a Cook-Out parking lot. I'm pretty sure the surprised folks having lunch in their car next to said tree had a good laugh at the Old Fart (yes, me) clambering up into those branches. (Yeah, that first step was a doozy.) Oddly, after we had found the cache, a young gentleman accosted us and asked whether we might have been looking for the geocache in the tree, as he believed it to be missing. We assured him it was still there because I had just signed the log, which seemed to surprise him, but, well, there it is.

Lunch — a rather late one — happened at East Coast Wings, where I ordered some wings that proved almost too hot for my palate, and that's saying something. Still, all very satisfying, as hot wings are one of my wee little vices.

Tonight, here comes episode 10 of Twin Peaks, and that should cap off what has been overall a satisfying day (and weekend). Next weekend, it's Songwriter Showcase at The Daily Grind in Martinsville, which means I need to practice my ass off this week to insure that my fingers and voice are in at least passable condition.

I know... the deuce, you say!
One of my favorite caches of the day, hidden in a hole in the telephone pole
Uhh... Yummy???
Old Farts — a slightly different view: Yoda Rob, Old Rob, Diefenbaker

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Something Evil

Gray clouds cry in the thundering sky,
Yellow fire darts between billowed masses.
The voice of the wind is howling in my ears,
And the trees quake as the thunder crashes.

Inside the fire roars, and there’s someone at the door
Coming in from the gloomy, pine-black forest.
Cloak drawn around him, and his boots are caked with mud.
He sits down for an ale and me another.

He tells a tale as he downs another ale.
There’s a fear down deep behind his eyes.
Out in the storm something fearsome is born,
Something evil that now comes with the night.

And with his words,
A sound is heard from outside.
Fear clouds his eyes,
And he dies
In his chair.

Out in the rain looking through the window pane,
Two eyes glowing in a fiery brimstone red.
With a thunder I can hear, my heart pounds with fear
As a shadow fades into the forest.
Carrying my gun, I break into a run
Through the trees that were once so familiar.

But as I run through the rain and the mud,
There’s a sound that echoes from behind.
Back at my house, all the lights go out,
And I’m standing on the edge of a nightmare.

Sound drawing near,
I can hear
But I can’t hide.
Lost in this dream,
I hear a scream.
It is I.

Gray clouds cry in the thundering sky,
And the air is lit by streaking forks of light.
Out in the storm, something fearsome is born,
Something evil that now comes with the night.

©1983, 2017 Stephen Mark Rainey

This spooky song and plenty more may be heard when I play at The Writers' Round Featuring Tokyo Rosenthal and Mark Rainey at The Daily Grind in Martinsville, VA, on September 22, 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Songwriter Showcases in the Works

Lately, I've been about as busy playing music — or something akin to it — as writing fiction. Of course, the composing of prose is my secondary profession, while banging on the guitar and hollering to scare the wits out of innocent passersby falls more in the "hobby" department. Still, now and again I do a public performance here or there, and I've become a regular at the The Daily Grind's quarterly Songwriters' Showcase in Martinsville, VA. There's one coming up on Friday, July 21, 6:30–10:00 PM. Per the usual, I'll be one of several singer/songwriters playing a set of original tunes, mine based primarily on the darker sides of life (and death), which I suppose surprises the hell out of my faithful followers.

In September, however, I'll be sharing the stage with only one other artist—Tokyo Rosenthal—and we'll each play at least four individual sets of original music. I've been dusting off my old song sheets from way the hell back and trying to get my fingers and voice back into respectable shape (if such is even possible). Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I wrote maybe 75 songs, but, unfortunately, only a handful of recordings and/or lyric sheets have survived the years. Quite a few of those songs are no doubt lost forever in my memory, and in some cases, that's probably for the best. However, I've managed to drag a number of them kicking and screaming back to the light of day, and my burning fingers and scratchy voice are testimony to some serious practicing these past few days. I've got a lot of brushing up to do, I can tell you.

I'd like to invite any of you who are brave enough to either or both shows. The "big" one — The Writers Round Featuring Tokyo Rosenthal and Mark Rainey — will be September 22, 8:00 PM–10:00 PM. You've plenty of time to prepare yourself, so mark your calendars and gird your loins. I'd love to see you folks. But only heckle me if you really mean it.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Signing My John Hancock

Team 2-1/2 Men: BigG7777, Suntigres, Old Rodan

Just about every year since I began geocaching (2008), on or about the July 4th holiday, it has been a personal tradition—nay, a personal requirement—to celebrate my freedom to scrawl my John Hancock on the log sheets of as many hidden little containers as a satellite signal will guide me to. Today was no exception, with an entertaining venture into the forgotten wilds (i.e., at least ten miles from the nearest wine bar) of Forsyth and Davidson Counties, with caching partners Bridget (Suntigres) and Gerry (BigG7777). Most caching outings are fun; this one was memorable. Mainly, today I found cache #9,500, which means I have a mere 500 to go before the big 10K. Later this year, perhaps...?

One of our first targets was a cache that has daunted me for years, titled "Green Series Cache: Not a Purple FOB" (GC2TDF5). It was hidden in 2011, and not long after its publication, I had attempted to find it, but without success. The location is something else: a dense thicket near a megachurch that attracts thousands to its services (I know—I've been there on Sundays thinking to hunt the cache, but the sheer number of Christian soldiers marching about the location have dissuaded me). Today, however, apart from someone who appeared to be learning to drive around the church parking lot, no one else was present and we were able to make our way to Ground Zero without having to avoid countless, devastating barrages of humanity. Inside the thicket, which can only be entered by hacking one's way through tangled curtains of poison ivy, sheer walls of briers and brambles, and a veritable moat of quicksand, one will find a decaying tobacco barn—roofless, tottering, and home to lord knows what varieties of critters. How I missed finding the cache on that long-ago attempt is a mystery, for today, once having braved the thicket and entered the old structure, locating the container proved relatively simple. Signing that log was a most satisfying accomplishment after a long and rather trying spell on the home front (don't ask).
The old tobacco barn, completely hidden from view outside the dense thicket

From the perspective of someone who has found 9,500 geocaches, I'd say it's rare to come upon cache logs containing anything other than the signatures (and occasionally a few personal observations) of past finders. Today, we found a couple that were hardly positive in nature but that provided a few chuckles. One cache, which resided at the base of a light pole in a busy parking lot, contained a log with an entry that read, "You Are All faggots Get A Job!," obviously inscribed by a non-geocacher, a.k.a. muggle, who had happened upon the hide. At least this semi-literate soul had the decency to use the cache log as a medium to communicate his deepest thoughts rather than simply make off with the container, which is the far more common behavior among muggles.

At another cache, which was unwisely hidden at the base of a stop sign located at the corner of someone's front yard, we found in lieu of a logsheet a note from an unhappy property owner advising the hider of the "game piece" to contact George at a certain address and/or phone number because he was interested in having a "chat." We did find this amusing in its way, but we also recommended that the container be removed and the geocache listing be archived. However unsporting, the property owner was clearly within his rights to take issue with the placement of a container of which he didn't approve on his land. Cache hiders take note!

And then there's the throw-down—the replacement of a presumably missing cache by a hunter, whether with or without the permission of the original cache owner. Throw-downs are frowned upon by most in the geocaching community, although there are some cache owners who will give occasional permission (sometimes even giving blanket permission) to replace containers that are obviously missing. I have, on occasion, replaced containers if I have checked with the cache owner (or know in advance the owner will approve), but it is bad personal policy to replace containers willy-nilly just because you can't find them. The local geocaching community does have its chronic offenders in this regard, and we did come upon a blatant example of their handiwork today when we found what was clearly a throw-down, only to find the original container shortly thereafter. True, this is a small thing in life's bigger picture, but this same behavior has caused some real-world strife between a number of individuals I know, and a simple focus on personal integrity whilst in the field would almost certainly alleviate the issue altogether.

Anyhoo, all this made for a day of intriguing geocaching, and at this particular time of life, that kind of intrigue is just my speed.
L: the throw-down; R: the original hide
Because there was also cache there, we took our lunch break at a nearby Dairi-O, a local franchise that specializes in super-delicious hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, ice cream, and such—including some of the most addictive french fries I've ever tasted. Not even a little bit healthy, of course, but if nothing else, I burned off a fair number of calories and sweated off some water weight in near-hundred degree temperatures today. So yeah, this Fourth of July fit comfortably into Old Rodan's grand personal tradition. May there be many more.
In the sun, my car's thermometer read over 100 degrees; in the shade, it was scarcely less. No like! NO LIKE!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Threnody

Kicking back and grooving to Krzysztof Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima is probably not something most of us do lightly. I expect that most of my Blog followers, as well as those on my Facebook feed, know where this piece most recently gained significant exposure—yes, episode 8 of the Twin Peaks revival series on Showtime. But my introduction to it was in 1987, at Madcon, a relatively small, intimate gathering of writers, readers, and fans of Lovecraftian horror at the domicile of R. (Randy) Alain Everts (editor of the venerable Etchings & Odysseys magazine) in Madison, WI. I had only recently begun editing/publishing Deathrealm magazine, and it was this gathering that opened my eyes to what would too-soon become a burgeoning aspect of horror fandom, whereas at the time, delving into Lovecraftian lore seemed a solitary, almost lonely venture. Some of the folks I met then remain friends of mine—such as Roger Trexler, Paul Dale Anderson, Rodger Gerberding—all of whom also ended up contributing to Deathrealm. What a time it was.
Etchings & Odysseys, issue #8,
produced by R. Alain Everts

Memories from that gathering are vague, a good 30-plus years later, but I believe it was the late John Brower, musician and music scholar, who introduced me to Penderecki, by way of playing for the assembled group a recording of "Threnody," along with numerous other dark compositions—"The Litanies of Satan" by Diamanda Galas being among the most notable. At the time, almost as if precognizant, I sensed that Penderecki's "Threnody" shared a certain commonality of theme, aural and otherwise, with György Ligeti's "Lux Aeterna," which was used to such profound effect in 2001: A Space Odyssey, though I could never have guessed that the Penderecki composition would, in later years, become the soundtrack to another visual—and deeply emotional—journey, via Twin Peaks.

MadCon 1987 was also the genesis of my story, "Threnody," which has seen print in numerous venues, thanks to musician Paul Dice, whose hand-made metal sculpture, which he used as a percussion instrument, inspired the "Transonifier," a device I wrote into "Threnody" and several tales beyond.

But anyway. If you dare, turn out the lights and listen to Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. It is, without any association other than that for which it is named, ultimately unsettling. And sometimes, unsettling is just the ticket.

Now... shall we continue on exlusively to Twin Peaks? Yeah, why not. If you're not watching, or don't care to, you are excused, and I do thank you for dropping by. But I'll tell you, the new season of Twin Peaks has hooked me like nothing else has in more years than I can remember, and this blog entry is for that percentage of the million fans who do check in here. For that I thank ye....

My first reaction to episode 8 was impatience. Episode 7 had, at last, started moving the show's narrative forward, and I was really wanting to see where things would go with the threads that did (and still do) need addressing if not resolving. And episode 8 completely derailed those hopes and expectations. It was enough of a pisser to convince me I'd never watch that episode again.

By the following morning, I couldn't get the imagery, the sounds, the mood of episode 8 out of my head. So I decided to watch it again. I started picking up on the subtleties of all that lay within, not to mention things that were slapping me in the face the first time through but that I didn't pick up on because I was too busy formulating expletives. It was like some big hand coming out of the sky, turning me around, and forcing me to walk back every notion I'd had during the first viewing.

Now I've watched it in its entirety three times, and I can't stop re-watching portions of it, experiencing the pure sensation of it. Kinda scary... I really love it now. I mean, I really love the damned thing.

Like many of my friends, I'm going "WTF, David Lynch?" but for a whole different reason than the first time I uttered it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Day I Burned Up Martinsville


...or damn near.

Getting tagged by a bunch of ornery yellow jackets yesterday brought to mind a particularly dramatic episode from my sordid youth, the consequences of which I might still be paying to this day had things gone really badly. I can't help but suspect I am still here only because of my mom's ever-fervent prayers for the good lord to deliver me from my own stupidity. For most of my childhood, and some would say significantly beyond, I needed as many prayers as any God-fearing soul might offer, perhaps more so than most of my youthful partners in crime.

Witness the following account:

I was about ten, which means my younger brother, Phred, was five-ish. Our house was (and is) surrounded by picturesque woods, about which we did (and still do) love to wander. Apart from Bigfoot, a Wampus Cat, the Zanti Misfits, an Allosaurus, and something called The Ick, I had never encountered anything overtly hostile in those woods, and neither my little brother nor I felt any compunction about roaming them freely. Now, behind the house, there is a sizable hillside, back then completely wooded, now partly cleared for an electrical substation. Phred and I had been out exploring the heretofore undiscovered wilderness a half a block or so up the street. An exciting expedition indeed—until that last fateful moment before we set foot back in our own yard.

We were just making our way down the wooded hill behind the house when my brother stumbled into a hole in the ground and erupted into hellish caterwauling. Oh yes, he had discovered a sizable nest of yellow jackets, and they had discovered him. He came tearing out of those woods as if his head were on fire and his rear end was catching. I recall desperately wanting to rescue him from the swarm, but since there was a huge, seething cloud of the things, I deemed it far wiser to sit back and watch from a distance.

My parents heard the shrieking and came rushing out, and I believe it was Dad who grabbed Phred, swatted him up and down to kill as many yellow jackets as possible, and ran him into the house. The poor boy had I don't know how many stings—dozens, I'd guess. An unhappier camper I'm certain I had never seen up to that point in my young life.

Now, happily, neither of us suffer any severe allergies to critter stings, so after a period of considerable discomfort, Phred made a quick and full recovery. But I found myself guilt-stricken for not having rescued him from that raging swarm, and I quickly began to formulate a plan to dish out some just deserts for the inhabitants of that blasphemous hell-hole.

Step 1 was to pour a large Coca Cola bottle full of gasoline from the can Dad kept in the basement for the lawn mower. Step 2 was to clandestinely procure some matches from the kitchen cabinet. Step 3 was to fill a plastic bucket with water just for good measure. So I hauled myself and my instruments of revenge up the hill until I could see the offending aperture in the earth not far ahead. A few little yellow bastards were buzzing around it, but they appeared to be taking no notice of me. So I crept on up with my bottle of gasoline and, with cool deliberation, poured every last drop of it into the opening. As you might guess, this stirred up a fuss within, and I suspect I was lucky that the gasoline overcame any number of would-be attackers. I took a step back, struck a match, and dropped it into the hole.

WHOOMP!

I didn't know what had just happened. As if in slow motion, this huge ball of golden-red flame came billowing up at me, and only my youthful reflexes saved me from becoming a human torch. I dropped to the ground and skittered away from the inferno, my foremost thought being "charcoal lighter fluid never went up like that!" (I had lots of experience with charcoal lighter fluid.) My second thought was that I'd better get to that bucket of water with all possible haste. I scrambled over to it, lifted it above my head, and dumped the water straight into the newborn volcano, which extinguished the heart of the blaze and sent a column of smoke roiling into the sky.

But there was lots of dry grass and foliage all around that hole, and the fire was spreading. I thought maybe I could go back to the house and refill the bucket, but by that time, most of the woods and possibly our house would have burned up. Knowing I had little choice, I braved the flames and any surviving yellow jackets—I didn't see any, as they had probably all been blown up real good—and started smothering the spreading rings of fires with the bucket. By some miracle (Mom's prayers?), I managed to get the blazes under control, all without either getting flambéed or stung to death. Once the flames were mostly out, I ran back to the house with my bucket, filled it up, and returned to the disaster area, where I once again drenched the scorched earth. I repeated this procedure at least three or four times, and by the time I was finished, the fires were completely out.

The only evidence of what I had done, at this point, was a massive cloud of smoke hovering over the area and a charred patch of ground roughly ten to twelve feet in diameter. I think I sat out there for a hour or so to make sure the area didn't spontaneously reignite. I remember praying for my mom not to come outside, but I knew my dad would be getting home from work soon. I did my best to shed myself of all signs of panic, get cleaned up, and go back inside as if nothing had ever happened.

After all that, I will tell you that the true miracle of the day was that neither of my parents ever went down to the lower part of the backyard and looked up at that hillside, because if they had, I would not be here now to tell you that story. Had Dad ever found out, I'm pretty sure I would have preferred getting burned up in the inferno or fatally stung by little yellow bastards to what would have surely come down the pike. I've always hoped my little brother appreciated me laying my life on the line to avenge his agony.

And that was the Day I Burned Up Martinsville.
The old homestead, which I'm glad I managed NOT to burn down.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Owls, Yellow Jackets, the Day of the Triffids


So I got this weird design on my arm, see. While I was out and about last night, I saw a bright light, heard a strange voice, and that design just appeared. It's like, sometimes, life is stranger than shit.

Okay, it seemed the thing to do at the time. A few nights ago, Ms. Brugger indicated she was thinking about getting a new tattoo (she's got a couple of sharp ones, not in plain view), and we got to talking about possible subject matter, and Twin Peaks came up, and then... well... I just happen to know a brilliant young artist named Eliseo whom I used to work with, and he recently got his tattooing license. So, I thought, maybe carrying some Twin Peaks around with me from here on out would actually be a cool thing. I was pretty sure I didn't want "Fire walk with me" inscribed on my left arm, for it might become necessary to lop the whole thing off. It would have been cool to have the entire Owl Cave map tattooed on my back, but I didn't think I wanted to start with anything quite that involved. But the symbol in Owl Cave — the design on the ring that comes from the "other" place in Twin Peaks — well, say no more!

And it's done. I'm very pleased with the work, it didn't hurt, and those owls, indeed, aren't quite what they seem.

Due to all the rain we've had recently, my yard has become a tropical rain forest, and it's only now dried just enough to actually mow it. Since I had spent yesterday getting the ink treatment, I figured I'd better get the damned grass mowed today, lest my neighbors deduce that Triffids have begun taking over the neighborhood. And I did this thing, I went out after work, started to pushing the machine around the yard, getting things all neat and tidy around the old tree stump out back, and then — ZAP! — it's like a little bullet just went into my ankle.

Oh, crap. It's yellow jackets. Lots of them, pouring out of a hole near the base of the stump. One of them tags me on the leg, right next to where the first one got me. One actually gets into my boot and stings me on the ankle. While brushing some off, I get hit between the thumb and forefinger of my left hand. To my amusement, I discover that one is stinging the hell out of my boot lace, and he's hung there. Well, that's one ignominious death I get to deal, so score one for the old man.
100 megatons in this little Bloody Mary

Fortunately, the critters didn't swarm me in earnest, and I was able to move away from the nest without being pursued. I figured I'd take care of the nest after dark, so I went on about my necessary business, until... hang it all... the mower shudders, coughs, and dies. It had been sounding a bit off to begin with, and now it was altogether off. Couldn't resuscitate the old thing, alas—carburetor, I expect—so that ended my plan to conquer my yard full of Triffids. Sorry, neighbors, I'll fight that fight at the earliest opportunity.

Yeah, I was feeling a bit sore from the stings, so I was just as happy to come inside, get cleaned up, and make myself a Damned Rodan's Ghost Pepper Bloody Mary. It was a good 'un, and when I finished it, I had plenty to take my mind off the pain in my extremities. A damn fine drink, I can tell you, a damn fine drink indeed.

If you're anywhere near Greensboro, though, keep your distance from my place. There are Triffids.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hey, Let Me Sign That Book for You


There was a thread on Facebook the other day where authors were sharing their book-signing horror stories, and I decided this was a topic worth broaching on my blog. I'll post this entry on Facebook and Twitter as well so that any authors who care to jump in may do so.

I've done more book signings over the years than I can remember, and frankly, only a few actually do stand out in memory. I've had signings that far exceeded my expectations and others at which the sound of crickets was damn near deafening. Most of them have fallen somewhere in the middle. And though signings are part and parcel of this business, especially when more of your product appears via paper and ink than electronic means, I can't say I've ever been all that fond of them—less because I worry about a lack of attendees than the fact that promoting my work, especially face to face with potential customers, is not my strong suit. Oh yes, I've faced up to this challenge and worked like hell to master it for a long time, but I still don't much like it. Put me in front of my keyboard in my own office, with some mood music playing and a few horrific ideas in my head, and I'll be going straight to town. Ask me to get to work promoting that very thing, and I'm going to start thinking of a whole different kind of horror.

Perhaps oddly, I don't have much problem with public speaking. I certainly do my share of that, whether about writing, geocaching, work-related issues, what have you. That's not so bad. No, it's the act of playing salesman to which I am averse.

But enough of that, I reckon. I do what I've gotta do to the best of my ability. When it comes to actual unpleasant experiences at book signings... well, I might have a couple.

Certainly, the first time no one showed up—I believe that was at a little bookstore in Hertford, NC, in the early 2000s, with a couple of other authors—yeah, that was disconcerting, yet at the same time not altogether frustrating, in that I didn't actually have to try to sell a goddamn thing. The conversation with my fellow authors was enjoyable, at least.

When it comes to more well-attended signings, there are two types of patrons I particularly dislike: 1) those who are simply rude or dismissive, especially in regard to the books' subject matter, and 2) those who never intend to buy a thing but want to chew your ear off about the book they hope to write.

The most memorable example of the first was when Dark Shadows: Dream of the Dark first came out, in 1999. The signing was either in Roanoke, VA, or Winston-Salem, NC, I can't recall for certain. Anyway, I was sitting at my table, happy as the proverbial clam since things had been going well, when this rather brusque gentleman came up, grabbed a copy of the book in his oversized paw, and started thumbing through the pages, taking no care not to bend the book's pages or spine. I quite affably asked him whether he was a fan of Dark Shadows, and his response was, "Shut up, let me just read the cover copy." I was so taken aback, I didn't have any response for him other than, "Yeah, all right." Of course, he didn't buy the book; he just dropped it back on the table and walked off. Being far older and wiser now, in the same situation I'd be more likely to suggest he put my book down and seek out a copy of Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior but thankfully, this sort of offender, in my experience, has been relatively rare.

The second is the more common type. Now, I don't mind shooting the shit with someone who is genuinely interested in writing, but I'm not fond of people who have no interest in my product but will not hesitate to monopolize my time and blithely occupy the space that other, possibly paying customers might wish to occupy. At a couple of my more recent signings, I had just such encounters; at one of them I managed to divest myself of the offender by indicating there were other people trying to get to the table, and in the other case, a fellow writer was kind enough to come and rescue me because the patron was clearly not picking up on the not-necessarily-subtle signals I was sending that, as far as I was concerned, his time, truly, was up.

The flip side of this is that, far more often than not, there are plenty of folks who are kind enough to take an interest in my work and even part with some of their hard-earned cash, only to have me devalue a book with my signature. It's these folks who keep me keeping on, and to whom I offer sincere thank.

Okay, authors—if you'd care to share any your own tales of book-signing terror, you are most welcome, either here, on Twitter, or on Facebook. Sign away!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Beyond the Devil's Tramping Ground

Gracious, did that cross painted on the road just cause Bridget to burst into flame?
Several years ago—in July of 2010, to be precise—my friend Bridget (a.k.a. Suntigres) and I went down to Chatham County, NC, to The Devil's Tramping Ground to hunt a night cache called "Hell on Earth" (GC1GZNP). Night caches tend to be smashing fun, as you get to go out in the woods with flashlights and follow glowing markers to get where you're going, and this cache in particular made for a memorable adventure (see "Hell on Earth" for the blow-by-blow). It's rare that I revisit a cache I've already found, but Bridget wanted her significant other, Gerry (BigG7777), to experience the joy of night caching, and since there was a newer cache at the Tramping Ground I hadn't yet found, she wondered whether I might wish to accompany them. Well, shoot yeah!
BigG7777 and Suntigres at the Smokehouse Bistro in Liberty
So off we went. First, a nice dinner at the Smokehouse Bistro in downtown Liberty—an excellent burger with jalapenos and homemade chipotle-habanero sauce for me—then a handful of park & grab caches on the trip to ye accursed circle of land, located just off Devil's Tramping Ground Road near Harper's Crossroads. We arrived at the site just before sunset. The place appears innocuous enough—just a clearing in the woods set back some distance from the road—but there are distinct signs of something a little different here. There's a large cross painted on the road near the opening to the forest. Numerous trees have been etched with crosses and other religious symbols. Graffiti denigrating Satan in the rudest of terms has been sprayed on the pavement and on trees. And clear signs of wild partying litter the entrance, though once you get farther into the woods, there are few signs of human incursion.

Our first order of business was to make our way out to the cache called "Beyond the Devil's Tramping Ground" (GC5Y9KA), which proved easy enough to find. But then I discovered, deep in these dark, deserted woods, a large electrical cable running along the ground and extending out of sight. Then somewhere in the distance, I heard a faint, high-pitched "Woo-woo-woo-woo" sound, which led me to suspect I might have come upon a conduit to The Black Lodge. I didn't encounter any of its inhabitants, at least that I'm aware of (sometimes I'm not too sure about Bridget), but I reckon this was as apt a location as any to find an entry point.
Hunting "Beyond the Devil's Tramping Ground" just before sunset. Wonder if that length of electrical
cable out in the woods is a conduit of sorts to the Black Lodge....
One more cache under our belts, and the sun just about down, we turned our attention to "Hell on Earth." The first thing we realized was that, unlike when Bridget and I had gone after it back in 2010, we could see no glowing reflectors in the beams of our flashlights. Well, that was seven years ago, and trees have grown, reflectors have fallen out of trees, and our memories are anything but photographic. We ended up stumbling around in the dark for a while without success, but then, happily, BigG came upon a reflector, a considerable distance from our starting point. From there, we were able to pick up the trail, though we did lose track of the reflectors any numbers of times as we journeyed farther. At one point, I did wonder whether we might have come upon an anomaly of time and space, à la The Blair Witch, wherein the woods seal themselves up tight and refuse to permit escape. Eerie bird calls filled the night, and distant frogs and other critters had commenced a lulling chorus. But after some searching, circling, and hollering back and forth, we reconnected with the trail, and at last—voilà—BigG was able to lay his hands on the cache.

Then the fun began. Since we hadn't marked GPS waypoints on our outbound trek, and there was no clear trail at this point, we had to figure out our own ways back to the starting point. And just because Bridget and I had already done this thing once, it didn't mean we could navigate the woods with any sort of assurance. We had the parking coordinates marked, of course, but taking the most direct route out oftentimes does not constitute the best route.

Briers! Ticks! Poison ivy! Unknown things whispering and gibbering in the darkness! Oww, motherfucker, oww, motherfucker, OWW!

At last, there it was—the Devil's Tramping Ground once again, and what a welcome sight. From there, it was back to the vehicle and back to our respective home ports—and rather late, it turned out. Much satisfaction for all, of course: BigG had claimed his first night cache, and Suntigres and I added a few pelts for ourselves.

Today, at 2:00 PM, I have a presentation on geocaching and horror writing to give at the Greensboro Public Library, Glenwood Branch. That's less than a couple of hours from now, but I expect to see some of you dear readers in attendance. There will be at least one new cache nearby, just waiting for someone to grab the coveted First-to-Find honor. Might that be you?
Lost highway