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Happy “Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary” and “Deathday” to a LOT of people! Second most had birthday! Fall break!

41. Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson – Judy Oppenheimer

The “private demons” of the title turned out to be more along the lines of “communal” demons to me. I related quite heavily to a lot of what’s presented in a pretty novelesque fashion in this biography. And that’s both good and bad. Referring to oneself as “gratuitously difficult” is definitely something I understand wholeheartedly. I also understand trying to save or fix yourself through writing; dating someone who legitimately believes in you but also can’t stop trying to be the center of attention; moving to a new place and having some people make it a point to make sure you never forget you’re not one of them (Outlander! I’m only from one effing state away.); and collecting objects other people find morbid. Bones! Usually not human! I don’t think any of the ones I have are human! Many are fake! Anyway, I’ve always seen myself and what I could become reflected in Shirley Jackson’s work – particularly We Have Always Lived in the Castle’s Merricat (if I was left completely alone it would probably take about a week for me to start ritualizing, just replace Jonah the cat with my pigs, I do not keep sugar on hand though, just for reference).

It really shouldn’t have surprised me that I’d relate to her. I guess I just didn’t expect her to be so utterly relatable. After all, she actually had a career that involved writing as her main occupation, and she had children, and I hadn’t realized that I totally have depression when I first read this. I have not been able to get near the level of writing career I want (not unlike most writers), and I also have yet to become addicted to barbiturates. I am pretty into Lemonheads though. Not making light of addiction, just relating to the fact that Shirley Jackson was also heavily into candy. So, for me, this was essential reading because it’s yet another example of how I’m not entirely delusional about who I’ve always thought I am and how hard I keep trying to do the work that means something to me. Some people aren’t easy and don’t have it easy, it’s a thing; it’s not just me – or you, or anyone who doesn’t give up just because someone else wants them to be nicer.

Apparently there’s a newer Shirley Jackson biography. Swell. We’ll see if I still find myself in that one, it supposedly has a lot of information gleaned from previously unpublished sources and maybe won’t be quite as novely as Private Demons. I hope I do.

Murderface and Pickles. Ladies of ritual and discerning taste I also admire.

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“Yeah because no offense there’s absolutely no zazz to be found, not here anyway, not in these parts.”

33. 13 Again – A. Finnis, ed.

We have reached the last of the Point Horror 13-based short story collections. This one felt way longer to me, perhaps because there are a bunch of the same authors in the second one and this one and none of the multi-title whizzbang Point authors I’m used to are represented. Not even Diane Hoh. The stories were longer than in the other two collections, they needed a big dose of the old razzle-dazzle and honestly, I got pissed that I was bored. I don’t want to be bored by short stories. For one thing, they’re short so it seems like that shouldn’t happen. For two, most of the time when I dive in to a Horror anthology, I find weird things and gross things and surprising things and zazz. Not so much here. So, with that very inspiring introduction, let’s get on with it.

Ozymandias was the smarter one, so he was always waiting for Danger Crumples to realize that there was less zazz present than necessary.

“Anjelica’s Room” – Laurence Staig – It did have a promising start. A couple arguing about painting, well, never heard that before… I meant that “promising” thing, anyway, a couple who don’t really like each other that much are trying to paint a small cottage and one of the rooms has really ugly brown wallpaper all over the walls. The lying-by-omission male half of the couple leaves the female half and her giant amount of anxiety alone and the room pulls her in and it gets worse from there in a good and gory way. Phew.

“Foxgloves” – Susan Price – This entry was not as interesting as “The Cat-Dogs” from the last collection. It’s hard for me to envision a hetero teenage boy that wouldn’t just follow some ghostly seductive chick into wherever. Especially if he’d just had a bit of a break up with his girlfriend…that’s the most likely time they just wander off the path with ghostly seductive chicks. I mean, geez.

Danger and Ozy basically followed the ladypigs whenever they could. Whenever. It took them forever to calm down around the ladypigs and that’s one more reason I couldn’t suspend my disbelief for “Foxgloves.”

“The Ultimate Assassin” – Malcolm Rose – This just didn’t pack enough punch for me. There’s mild tension, a downer ending, a dog named Chips (I used to know someone named Chips. He was fun but only knew me as “Hey Girl”), and the titular assassin but…it was just okay.

“The Rattan Collar” – Garry Kilworth – Garry with two “r”s has put in some effort here and it’s one of the more interesting stories in the collection. Is the potbellied pig evil? Do I just like this better because there’s some kind of pig in it? The answer to both is no, but, you haven’t read this yet. Uh oh, spoilers.

“Boomerang” – David Belbin – In 1995, this story was prophetic. It seemed so wrong that anyone would go to college, get a solid degree with good marks, and then fail miserably at getting a job and have to move back in with their parents. In the U.S. though, only five years later, it would start getting next to impossible not to become a boomerang. And some of those graduates didn’t try to murder their parents- a tradition that lives on to this day.

Danger and Ozy never tried to murder me while we lived in my mom’s attic. They did order me out of my own bedroom while they were exploring though. It was very insulting, but also funny.

“The Delinquent” – Maresa Morgan – In my current job I am sometimes looked at as though I have just walked in from juvie and am smoking in the corner. I’m not a fan of it and this is the only place I’ve been looked at that way so consistently, but at least I know I’m not as awful as the delinquent in this story. She gets what she deserves; I know I deserve to be recognized for who I actually am, not just the differences between me and the rest of the office. I’m quite good at what I do and have the personalized messages from patrons to prove it.

“The Ghost Trap” – Lisa Tuttle – The girl in this story goes to a haunted house she heard of because of a story. The author of the story is totally living in the house and using some Scooby Doo methods to entrap victims. I have to say, if anyone came to my house (which is not haunted) specifically because of my work I still wouldn’t answer the door because that’s intimidating and it’s possible to see me in public and accost me that way instead. Or don’t accost me. It’s better if no one gets accosted. I’m usually selling something or hunting books down if you see me in public, feel free to distract me, I promise I won’t murder you or pull off my mask to reveal that I own the old boarded up amusement park.

“Close Cut” – Philip Gross – Uh oh, we have a situation here that involves World War II and slivovic. World War II angst and the question of what one is to do when one finds a Nazi (a real, time appropriate one, not just the insecure emulating jackasses from the now time) living near them.

“Grandma” – Colin Greenland – I know that it can be very complicated trying to assist the elderly, especially if they have memory issues or habitually set things on fire. If this household just had some decent books, I bet everybody would’ve gotten along much better and maybe Grandma wouldn’t have minded being locked in her room so much. What am I saying? There’s no way that keeps anyone with any of their faculties remotely happy. But books would help.

Ozy and Danger certainly liked their excursions outside their houses. They wanted to explore and be finicky and demanding and super cute and their grandma totally let them.

“Vampire in Venice” – John Gordon – Here we are in Venice again. Ah, Venice. A place where British girls can argue about who is more attractive and/or stupid to be mooning over vampires. Hint – your friendship isn’t strong if the one the vampire likes more chooses you as her first meal.

“Picking Up the Tab” – Stan Nicholls – Money horror. This just doesn’t have that much impact after you’ve been through the nonsensical labyrinth of trying to afford what you need without making enough and that’s kind of the norm for my generation. Being messed with monetarily is never a surprise. Being valued and paid accordingly is.

“Evidence of Angels” – Graham Masterton – Here he goes again with the sentimental and not particularly horrific. It’s a bit familiar here, after all, having an annoying baby brother named Toby is familiar to everyone who saw Labyrinth. The unfortunate aspect here is that angels do not resemble David Bowie. Believers have nothing to look forward to.

In lieu of David Bowie, I’ll accept Danger Crumples and Ozymandias leading me to an eternal rest in Pighalla, which I made up but also happens to be where I belong after death.

“Hospital Trust” – Dennis Hamley – Again, what happens in this story is kind of normal now in the United States. A doctor that several patients haven’t liked (in the U.S. this part would be played by the insurance company, the ones who get to determine how much care you really get) sending them somewhere they shouldn’t be for substandard care and/or murder. Healthcare really is a right and not a privilege. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise.

Mixtape:
1. “Mud” – Legendary Shack Shakers
2. “Beautiful Gardens” – The Cramps
3. “Phantom of the Motorway” – The Mangled Dead
4. “Comanche Moon” – The Black Angels
5. “Several Sins” – The Birthday Party
6. “Let Me” – Widowspeak
7. “Garbage City” – Hanni El Khatib
8. “Feet Don’t Fail Me” – Queens of the Stone Age
9. “We’ve Seen the Blood” – The Mangled Dead
10. “Rats in Paradise” – The Birthday Party
11. “Kill!” – Raveonettes
12. “Flesh without Blood” – Grimes
13. “The Number of the Beast” – Electric Six
14. “At the Barn” – Wolfmen of Mars
15. “Be Free” – King Dude & Chelsea Wolfe
16. “Cut Me Loose” – UNKLE

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Start with a Queen, End with all the Queens

Thus ends the specified “Year of the Ladies.” Although next year starts tomorrow, I’m not clear on whether or not I want to have a theme.

The main thing I know about next year is that I have a lot of art to finish before April.  Another thing I know is that I am both petrified and anxiously awaiting the edited version of the final book in my Squirrelpocalypse trilogy – Night of the Squirrels. I will then revisit it, stare at it wondering what I was thinking, re-write some chunks, probably cry about said chunk re-writing, ask the guinea pigs if they have any ideas about why it turned out so differently than what I planned for the story in 1998 and not get ANY useful answers, and then accept it and rearrange all the semicolons before I format it and put it up with the other two. I finished it this year, on December 5th at 11:53 PM, and immediately wasn’t sure if I liked it. That probably means it’s all right because every single time I finish a book – and I’ve finished two this year, personal best, probably never to be repeated – I’m not sure if I like it. So, I await my cognitive distance and since I like to end with pictures, here are all the sweet little lady pigs that I’ve owned since 2008. Snippiest, most gratuitously disagreeable bunch of cavies ever to exist and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Murderface and Pickles in Hattiesburg

Miss Murderface and Pickles the Drummer (yes, that Pickles, and her full name is the entire line from the opening credits – that’s a behind the scenes secret you couldn’t get from very many sources).

Sepia toned teddy bear ladies Twiglet and Pammy. So fuzzy. So domineering. But so fuzzy and so good at napping.

Sepia toned teddy bear ladies Twiglet and Pammy. So fuzzy. So domineering. But so fuzzy and so good at napping.

Murderface and the lovely Duncan Hills. I only got to have Duncan for eleven months, but she had the softest ears and the sassiest disposition. She also helped me quite a bit with the planning of Day of the Robots.

Murderface and the lovely Duncan Hills. I only got to have Duncan for eleven months, but she had the softest ears and the sassiest disposition. She also helped me quite a bit with the planning of Day of the Robots.

Merricat and Peregrine, my first non-Mississippi or Iowa born lady pigs. Merricat was frighteningly special and my first lady Abyssinian. She was very small in size, but had a very large bite.

Merricat and Peregrine, my first non-Mississippi or Iowa born lady pigs. Merricat was frighteningly special and my first lady Abyssinian. She was very small in size, but had a very large bite.

Peregrine and Ozma having a mild moment. Peregrine has not been the most friendly of new friends to Ozma, but Ozma's willingness to explore is slowly, very slowly seeping in to Pere.

Peregrine and Ozma having a mild moment. Peregrine has not been the most friendly of new friends to Ozma, but Ozma’s willingness to explore is slowly, very slowly seeping in to Pere.

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Misadventures in Memorial Library

72. Shoot the Damn Dog – Sally Brampton

I was hunting down a book that most likely was mis-shelved some time in the mid-1990s when this title gave me pause. In many academic libraries, the dust jackets do not make it to the shelves, the budget for mylar is very low… anyway, without their dust jackets, there’s no blurb to read and no illustration that could have told me that, hey, she didn’t mean just any dog and the book wasn’t about being very insensitive to pets. It took me a bit to realize that the dog referenced by the title is Winston Churchill’s black dog, the one that symbolizes his depression. That’s the long way round of explaining that this snappy title came back with me, unfortunately, the book I was hunting did not – and that is kind of rare. Technically. Book hunting is one of my best skills. I have learned from reading Shoot the Damn Dog that nicknaming my own depression or choosing a symbol for it, does not fall under any of my best skills.

Sally Brampton lives in London, bonus for her, and relates her very strenuous struggle with depression, and then alcoholism to treat the depression, and then depression again plus the knowledge that alcohol is very ineffective at treating depression, and what actually helped in her case. Hers manifested itself in her throat and so she called it her “throat monster.” I’m actually very disappointed in my depression for not even bothering to manifest in a specific area or take on a recognizable animal personality. I’ve always thought it was just part of my personality- any dogs or monsters would have a hard time convincing me otherwise, and I’ve recently done some reading about the connections between chronic respiratory illnesses and depressive symptoms and that makes more sense in relation to how my depression ebbs and flows than any specific manifestation. I can say that although the lack of animal personality disappoints me, reading about how others have survived their depression and how they experience their symptoms is very helpful. And when you have depression, seeking help is the main thing you should do. Especially if you can give yours a nickname, that’s significant.

Duncan was blacker than the blackest black times infinity, plus a giraffe nose and a couple of dark red rings, but she’s a symbol of cuteness and snippy guinea pig kind. Snippy guinea pigs help me find reasons to keep living through my depressive periods.

Duncan was blacker than the blackest black times infinity, plus a giraffe nose and a couple of dark red rings, but she’s a symbol of cuteness and snippy guinea pig kind. Snippy guinea pigs help me find reasons to keep living through my depressive periods.

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‘Please, use the word….”hamburger time” when speaking to us.’

Ah, Metalocalypse. So useful. So helpful. I’m not reviewing Metalocalypse, which is in some respects basically a lifestyle/aspirational show to me; I’m also not reviewing any books in this entry. It’s the year-end for this blog, and it’s been a rather shit year for me and the pigs, and that seems to happen a lot…anyway, I couldn’t post about either of these events when they happened because they hurt too much and frankly, they still hurt too much, I hate losing pigs. I hate hamburger time. This year hamburger time struck in April and October and could strike again at any time for my little Merricat.

P is for Pammy, who died of a massive amount of interior tumors. She was five years old and knew every single one of the pigs in my “I’m going to start keeping guinea pigs again” herd of late 2008, which is one small reason why I miss her so much. She had a little star-shaped feetsie (Mischa!) in every incident, every epidemic, every happy moment that herd went through. And she was also super cuddly and quite a bit classier than all the other pigs (sorry, other pigs, it’s true and you know it). She was my first teddy bear pig, she lived in three states, she went through an amazing amount for a guinea pig and I thought she was actually a Terminator. She was not. Or maybe she was. First generation guinea pig Terminator. She probably was.

Pammy with baby Twiglet.

Pammy with baby Twiglet.

Snuggling with Thaddeus, the Romeo to her Juliet, including balcony scenes.

Snuggling with Thaddeus, the Romeo to her Juliet, including balcony scenes.

Pillow-napping, with her squirrely buttskirt on full display.

Pillow-napping, with her squirrely buttskirt on full display.

Like I said previously, she wasn’t eaten and she never will be. She did have free reign to investigate the mixing bowls though.

Like I said previously, she wasn’t eaten and she never will be. She did have free reign to investigate the mixing bowls though.

After Thaddeus passed at Christmas, she was stuck with Ozy and Danger Crumples to follow her lead. Thankfully, they all got along together quite nicely.

After Thaddeus passed at Christmas, she was stuck with Ozy and Danger Crumples to follow her lead. Thankfully, they all got along together quite nicely.

O is for Ozymandias, and once again I say fuck bladder stones.

I found Ozy after Mortemer passed away. He had been returned to a place where I bought hay and guinea pig food, and when I stuck my finger in his cage, he sniffed me and immediately popcorned. I took that as the sign that he was meant to join my herd. He wanted Belvedere to love him, and was sort of okay with being friends with Danger Crumples most of the time (they did seem to enjoy solving mysteries together from my chair), he loved Pammy and was a good companion to her in her final months; most of all he was a sweetheart of a teddy bear pig. He took over a lot of Belvedere’s duties after he passed, like sitting behind me on the chair and checking on me every so often by suddenly appearing right next to my right eye and chewing on the bars to let me know he was still alive when I got home. He passed a stone shortly after I got him, which was really odd and a very surprising thing in my experience – Pickles’ stones were huge, Bel’s stones were huge, I don’t know how Ozy “lucked out” with smaller stones for two years – and I altered his diet completely to try to save him from more stones. It didn’t work forever, but it worked for almost three years. I miss him and his mournful vocal tone dearly, he was the last of my teddy bears.

Ozymandias with the blanket that only he was ever allowed to use.

Ozymandias with the blanket that only he was ever allowed to use.

Here he is cuddled under Mark Sandman.

Here he is cuddled under Mark Sandman.

Solving a mystery in a new room with Danger Crumples.

Solving a mystery in a new room with Danger Crumples.

Charming the ladies, as always, with Miss Peregrine, his last little girlfriend.

Charming the ladies, as always, with Miss Peregrine, his last little girlfriend.

Danger and Ozy, still trying to get somewhere other than the couch.

Danger and Ozy, still trying to get somewhere other than the couch.

Finally, M is for Merricat, who isn’t dead yet. Merricat is about one year old, I adopted her with Peregrine after Pammy passed, and she has been diagnosed with liver cancer. She and I have a very strong bond, so, of course she has craptastic-genes. We evolutionary mistakes have to stick together. I decided against chemotherapy because she is so tiny and I want her to enjoy what’s left of her life and the prognosis for a runt is not ever going to be great. So far, she has been demanding, territorial, runs around purring, and gazes out from under her log bridge like a tiny demon in the morning. She’s glorious. It’s possible that by the time this posts she’ll be gone and I’ll have lost three pigs this year and it will still feel like I’ve lost three million pigs. No more hamburger time!

My tiny demon.

My tiny demon.

Her antics occasionally tired Pere out.

Her antics occasionally tired Pere out.

Danger Crumples and Merricat are tired of being photographed.

Danger Crumples and Merricat are tired of being photographed.

Merricat, Peregrine, Ozymandias, and Danger Crumples. They were an excellent mini-herd.

Merricat, Peregrine, Ozymandias, and Danger Crumples. They were an excellent mini-herd.

And now, a song for my little ones, courtesy of Dethklok (the Toki ones are always the best):

 

 

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Admirable or Impish?

It’s snowing super hard while I am typing this. I guess the first storm of this year is making up for the majority of the Iowan winter last year. Dick. Anyway, back to my epic coverage of search terms:

13. Search terms of the apocalypse (sigh) : jugged boobsstranger

I’ve got no idea how this lead to me. It’s one of the most interesting sets of words I’ve come across and I have read some seriously ridiculous writing. Plus “boobsstranger,” a new compound word. Is it a mistake? Is someone trying to re-write Finnegan’s Wake from a pervy perspective?

14. Duh, of course this would lead here: very cute guinea pigs

I may be biased, but mine are ridiculously cute.

Danger and Morty were best friends.

It is tiring being so damn adorable.

I wasn’t even dangling parsley behind the camera.

Was there ever even a question of their cuteness?

Belvedere and Pickles had a complicated but jovial relationship.

So cute she’s getting checked out by her brother. Yep.

15. Really? Spelling! : essay summery about the thrill club by r.l. stine

I guess I covered that: The Thrill Club, a true classic of our times

Maybe if we allow teachers to teach, the quality of our nation’s book reports will improve. Or maybe kids will make the same choices as they did in the late 1990s. But it’s a chapter book! Yeah, technically. Barely.

How is that even necessary? I guess it might be if “summary” is getting hard to spell. – Murderface

16. Yes, yes she was: twiglets funny

So beautiful. So in your face.

Twiglet.

17. I’ve had several: baby boy ginny pigs

There’s that “ginny” again.

The hole in the chair below his chin was not ripped by Mortemer.

Baby Mortemer by Mr. Cheese’s side, as usual.

The part of the situation you can’t see in this picture is baby Pickles trying to nurse from Mortemer, her father.

Baby Belvedere nursing from Mama Murderface.

Bel needed no encouragement in looking for smells.

Baby Bel with his father Mortemer.

Who knew he would basically turn into Rapunzel without the tower? Tangled, indeed.

Baby Danger Crumples

18. I can’t believe how many people are looking for this quote: two trappers find human feet in a pile of mush. this is one job the carpet cleaners mess up badly

Deadly Women is one of my favorite shows, I still want to watch the episode about Amy Archer-Gilligan . The one that quote is from is called “Love You to Pieces,” and apparently the carpet cleaner/killer is of much interest. If more feet are found in the desert I won’t be surprised.

Do you folks like coffee?

Have a confrontational holiday from Murderface and baby Duncan Hills!

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Miss Pickles Nickels

This is Pickles:

She's in the laundry basket. Inquisitive and fresh!

She’s one of the most fabulous pigs I have ever known. Sometimes I think she’s a replicant because no animal could be as sweet and funny and uncoordinated and cute as she is. She rarely seems real.

This morning I took her into the vet for what turned out to be two stones in her urethra and her bladder. She had emergency surgery (they were major stones) and she just woke up forty minutes ago. That is very special and she is a very important pig so I’m marking the occasion with more adorable pictures of my girl Pickles.

What's in the box? What's in the boooxxx?! Pickles, thankfully not just her head.

Technically, if Pickles had been lost or goes downhill post-surgery (which, so far, none of the four of my pigs who have had surgery have gone downhill afterward, thankfully), it would be Murderface, her lovely little mother, who would lose a cage-mate, a daughter, and the Pinky to her Brain.

Quite a pair of animated metal musicians these two are.

 

 

Also, here she is playing Chip Coffey from Paranormal State (top left corner, note the scarf) in one of my paintings featured in a blog post by my friend Charlotte: http://mercuryinmotion.blogspot.com/2011/06/confessions-from-guinea-pig-lover.html

 

At some point I’ll get back to book reviewing, but today cheers to Pickles! She’s a very strong pig.

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