Friday, March 29, 2024

Scares That Care AuthorCon III Update

A little update about Scares That Care presents AuthorCon III - Williamsburg — starting two weeks from today! I'll be set up with Crossroad Press in the main promenade area, with plenty of copies of Deathrealm: Spirits (note that many of the contributors will be at the con if you're keen on getting autographs) and many of my other books on hand.

I'm scheduled for a reading on Saturday (4/13) at 12:30 p.m. If you're hungry at that time, just bring your lunch! (I can't promise you won't lose it during the reading, though.) P. D. Cacek is sharing the time slot with me, so please come see/listen to us.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

R.I.P. James A. (Jim) Moore

The last time I saw Jim Moore — Necon 2022 in Lowell, MA
I learned yesterday that friend and fellow writer James A. (Jim) Moore has passed away. He'd been fighting and winning over cancer for several years, but now his fight has ended. Jim was one of the most beloved writers—and human beings in general—I've ever known and for excellent reason. Jim was a man of great humor, commitment to friends, and exceptional generosity. I didn't know him half as well as so many of my peers; I only ever got to see him at conventions, and I haven't been a regular con-goer for a long time. Still, I found a lot of joy in hanging out with him when circumstances permitted, and I've admired him since the day I met him. I'm far from the most qualified to write a fitting tribute to him, so I'll suffice to say that, Brother Jim, you've always had and always will have a special place in my heart. Godspeed.

Monday, March 25, 2024

O Ugly Bird

Well, here's something I don't get to do every day. A little while ago, I saw down by the creek across the road a turkey vulture hung up in something, struggling to get free. I grabbed my machete and folding knife, went down there to check it out, and found that the bird's legs and one wing were tangled in fishing line, which was dangling from a tree. About then, Dr. Joe Keiper, who works at the Virginia Museum of Natural History here in town, happened to be driving by, so he came down and, with a forked stick, was able to keep the bird pinned so I could cut the fishing line. The critter was pretty well exhausted, I think, so it lay there calmly as we worked. Together, we managed to get all the fishing line untangled and removed. Birdo flies off like nothing ever happened.

Damned ugly fellow (the bird, not Joe), but I'm very glad things ended well enough for it.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Caching King

Friend Scott (a.k.a. Diefenbaker) and I met for a day of geocaching in King, NC, this morning, hunted and found a bunch of fun ones. Also didn't find a couple. My favorite was one I went after that was down in a culvert under a country road. Haven't done a culvert cache in quite a while, and this one was a lot of fun — and very wet after the rains we've had. It's an oldie ("Mountain Stream Cache," GC39HZW), placed in 2011, and it looks like the container and log are the originals. Nice.

There was a neat little cache called "The Enigma of King" (GCAEAH8), which is a wooden puzzle box. I'd found one like it several years ago, but I needed a video refresher to get this one open. Also a fun one.

Scott and I found lunch at a little Thai place — Amazing Thailand — which we'd visited on earlier King trips. If not altogether amazing, the food was good.

So, finally, a caching day with me a great caching partner from the good ol' Greensboro days. There will be more, and soon, I hope.
Found the cache.
The Enigma of King
Pilot Mountain in the distance

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Musings in the Night

Maybe it's just me, but after damn near 40 years on the creative end of the horror/dark fiction lit business, it feels like people and projects are imploding at a rate and intensity I've never seen before. Going back several months, I'd say. If you know what I'm talking about, you know; whether you do or don't, the only thing I'll say is that, in my experience, integrity will serve you well, and in this day of instant sharing of information, the lack of integrity can have dire, real-world consequences for the individual as well as those in that person's sphere of influence.

We're all flawed, and we all fail. Compassion is rare. I consider empathy a priceless trait, but sometimes it's hard to hold onto. If I have any regrets in this life, they're over having hurt others. I'm not even entirely sure what my intent here is, other than to urge people in my sphere of influence to be cognizant of the role of integrity in your relationships, whether business, personal, or whatever. Seeing so much drama, hurt, turmoil, and disappointment — particularly among people I've known and respected for a long time — is not easy. Not for me, not for any of us who have devoted so much energy, creativity, time, and loyalty to a field we love.

Forgive my rambling. It was only one scotch. But these feelings are genuine, and I expect at least some of you will get it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Smith Mountain Lake Adventures

It's been a pretty good while since I've headed out on a solo geocaching adventure, and since today's weather looked about as perfect as perfect gets for such a thing, I set out for Smith Mountain Lake State Park, about an hour north of home. Several years ago, Ms. B. and I picnicked, hiked, cached, and generally made merry at the park, and I haven't been back since.

On the way, I stopped to go after an Adventure Lab cache at the Booker T. Washington National Monument park, which Brugger and I had also visited for some gecoaching back in the dark ages. It's a lovely location, its story both sad and uplifting, and I'm glad to see the park so well maintained. My favorite moment was walking past a pig pen, where a big old pig was lounging in some mud. I said, "Hallo, Pig!" and the pig raised its head and gave me a big loud snort in response. After that... alas... it appeared to have no further interest in conversing.

Once at the lake, I set out hiking, grabbed caches, and discovered several of the most difficult paths I could have ever taken to get from Point A to Point B. Bear in mind, I do this very reliably, hence my perpetual admonition to any fellow hikers to follow me at their own risk. Some of the wiser ones, such as friends Scott and Natalie, have taken this advice to heart and almost always go their own ways when we come to challenging terrain. Oh, ye of little faith!
Once I snagged all the caches I needed this go-round at the park (which means I've completed all the active caches currently in the park), I stopped for a late lunch at a little pizzeria/bar & grill called Alessandro's, not far from the lake. A decent burger, and great service. To finish out the caching day, I hit the little burg of Moneta, just a few miles away, and knocked out all the caches there (five of them).
To head home, I threaded my way down every little back road between Smith Mountain Lake and Martinsville. Very scenic, though to be out in the middle of nowhere, there sure was a lot traffic, made worse by numerous very poor drivers who could have gone twice their velocity and still come up shy of the speed limit. People, you are harshing my mellow. Otherwise, though, a lovely day of it.

Damn right, I'll take it. The way I see it, mellow days are to be treasured.
My loquacious pig friend at the Booker T. Washington National Monument park
Some Country for Old Men
Ancient wall along one of the lake trails

A couple of friends found along the way
Dammit, I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque!

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Extending the Dick & Willie

I shit you not, the Dick & Willie has gotten longer. Yes, about two decades ago, the old Danville & Western rail line — commonly known as the "Dick & Willie Line" — closed down, and the tracks through a fair portion of Martinsville were converted to the Dick & Willie Rail Trail. For several years, we had a continuous 4.5-mile section of trail completed, but three or four years ago, a new, 2.5-mile section opened up at the eastern end of town, terminating at the Smith River Sports Center on Spruce Street. That has left approximately four miles of trail to be completed, thus connecting the two ends. As of just a few weeks ago, a new, 2-mile leg along Mulberry Creek opened up, which Ms. B. and I hiked out today, and it is by far the most scenic, relatively isolated part of the trail. Eventually, it is slated to extend even farther from the current northwestern terminus at Commonwealth Boulevard & Virginia Avenue and connect with the Fieldale-Smith River Trail, a few miles to the northeast.

It goes without saying that I have already populated with local trails with numerous geocaches, but the new D & W extension certainly begs for several more. I plan to oblige, more likely sooner than later. As it is, I discovered today that I need to perform maintenance on a couple of my older caches out there, so that will be my next geocaching priority.

We encountered several folks today riding e-bikes on the trail, and the lure to avail ourselves to such devices is strong. Perhaps once Ms. B. is again gainfully employed, we'll set us ourselves up with a couple.

For now, hike on!

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Speakeasy on Starling

Friends Bob & Yvonne accompanied Brugger and me to a unique and entertaining event last night at the Virginia Museum of Natural History — "Speakeasy on Starling" it was called ("Starling" referring to the street address of the Museum). This was a fun, fund-raising event for which you really got your money's worth — heavy hors d'oeuvres (good ones, too!), beer, wine, and other spirits, including a bourbon and mojito tasting. Some damn good bourbons on hand, I must admit. The tasting quantities were small, but they packed a pretty good wallop. A silent auction of some particularly nice spirits (none of us won) and a Velociraptor egg hunt, which netted everyone a nice little prize (a Long Island Iced Tea for me), added to the fun. Most entertaining was that, in order to learn the whereabouts of the bourbon tasting, you had to follow clues around the museum and then be escorted to it by staff member/journalist/friend Ben R. Williams. I also encountered a couple of old friends from days long past in the old hometown.

Afterward, our gang retired to Ground Zero, where we enjoyed some rocking tunes and sampled a few more spirits. I'd love to see the museum make this a regular event. It was a touch of what we figure some much-needed culture in our little burg. Plus, that museum is full of dinosaurs. I figure you can't go too far wrong with spirits and dinosaurs.

The password was "Claws," by the way.
A velociraptor photobombing the group making their way to the bourbon tasting