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Diary #481

September has been party month for the Seattle demimonde; after two I mentioned last week, there were two more this past weekend (both birthday parties because I know lots of Virgo sex workers).  Then of course we’ve got the upcoming reception for The War on Whores on September 26th at the Reason magazine offices in Washington DC, though of course that isn’t a birthday, isn’t a Virgo event, and isn’t in Seattle.  But it’s a party just the same!  And on Thursday, Lorelei and I used the excuse of a rescheduled duo to have a Who night featuring the return of our favorite flavored vodka; it’s no longer available in Washington but Lorelei found a source and made sure we were well restocked.  Add to that a good week for business, the return of cooler weather and shorter days, the arrival of three seasons of Green Acres on DVD thanks to Square Peg, and my discovery of a new and potent edible with no yucchy taste, and it was definitely a recipe for a good week; may Aphrodite grant me plenty more of similar quality over the rest of the year!

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Whenever I go out to Sunset, we try to spend at least one evening watching a movie stoned.  And we’ve found the best movies to watch stoned are those with a lot of music and simple plots.  Well, when I went out a couple of weeks ago this was our flick; it’s one of Grace’s favorites and if you have a good ear for musical style you may recognize the composer of the song in this trailer (who happens to be my favorite songwriter).  The links above it were provided by Clarissa, Kevin Wilson, Walter Olson, Jesse Walker, Popehat, and Radley Balko, in that order.

From the Archives

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Diary #480

Last week was a short but busy one.  It was short because I didn’t come back from Sunset until Tuesday (to avoid the nightmarish traffic from all the squares coming back from the coast on “Labor Day” to be back in their cubicles by Tuesday morning), and it was busy because nearly every night involved a multi-hour engagement of one kind or another.  On Thursday Daedalus took me to a concert by a Beatles cover band to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road; I enjoyed it immensely and it didn’t even make me feel old (not older than I already feel, anyhow).  On Saturday Lorelei held a combination birthday party and long-delayed housewarming, then on Sunday some of us held an end-of-summer barbecue.  As regular readers know, the return of shorter days and cooler weather is definitely a cause for celebration for me; I’m already feeling a lot less anxious, and I’m getting better at using edibles to manage my stress.  So that’s all I have to say right now, except to remind everyone in the Washington DC area that I’ll be back on September 26th for a reception for The War on Whores at the Reason magazine offices!  The event is free but you need to register, and if you’d like to see me professionally while I’m there we can arrange it as long as you let me know by the beginning of that week at the very latest (preferably sooner).

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It’s been three years since I stopped publishing “fictional interludes” on a monthly basis, and more than six years since I stopped doing “My Favorite __________” columns.  And yet last week I started deeply missing that feature, and wishing that I could produce them as often as I used to.  That mood inspired me to pull out my own copies of Ladies of the Night and The Forms of Things Unknown, browse through them, and reread a few of them, and that in turn inspired me to make a list of my own favorites from both collections (and a couple which will be included in my next collection, Lost Angels, which I’ll probably compile in another year or so).  So without further ado (except to encourage you to support my work by buying them if you don’t already own them, and reviewing them if you like them), I hereby present my own personal top 10, in order of publication, with a short comment on each.

1) Pearls Before Swine

Perceptive readers have certainly noticed my love of mythology in general and Greek mythology in particular; a number of my stories have themes, titles, settings or characters borrowed from it.  This one has only the last, and yet its title is scriptural and its themes eternal.  And its Southern Gothic setting is, in many ways, one that fits the character almost as well as the one she’s usually associated with.

2) Bad News

While it’s not uncommon for my stories to feature dry humor, I have difficulty performing this one at book readings without giggling.  Even if I were restricted to five selections, I think this one would still make the cut.

3) Visions of Sugarplums

As befits a Christmas story, this is certainly the lightest, most sentimental, and most optimistic tale on this list.  And the protagonist is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever (literally) dreamed up, partly because rather than being a goddess, witch, villainess or femme fatale, she’s just an escort of rather nervous temperament who finds herself in well over her head.

4) Rose

This isn’t my only story which treats seriously a topic I usually make fun of in my non-fiction, nor my only story based on a poem, nor the only one featuring very dark humor.  And did I ever tell you that the unreliable narrator is one of my favorite literary devices?  Because it is.  Read this one and maybe you’ll understand why.

5) Millennium

A tale of First Contact seen through an extremely cynical lens.  You’ve probably never seen aliens portrayed quite like this before, and the fact that you probably haven’t may tell you just how cynical.

6) The Sum of Its Parts

I’m not really very good with pastiche; the only author whose style I can reasonably approximate is Maggie McNeill.  And that’s probably why I like this one so much; it reads very much like a pulp tale from the 1930s, and the characters and dialogue are, in my own admittedly-biased opinion, some of the best I ever wrote.

7) Knock, Knock, Knock

I’ve written scarier things than this, and more personal things than this, but none both scarier and more personal.  And I still don’t like thinking about it when I’m alone late at night.

8) Lost Angel

This is not a tale of horror, at least not the usual kind of horror; it is, in fact, pretty squarely in the genre generally known as “science fiction”.  Nobody dies violently or suffers some other awful fate…so why do I always experience a pronounced frisson when thinking about the ending?

9) Trust Exercise

Many of the stories in The Forms of Things Unknown are, in a way, autobiographical, but none more so than this one.  It’s about love, trust and other scary things, but it can’t possibly scare you as much as it scares me because I know what it all means.  I still think you’ll enjoy it.

10) Wheels

While “Trust Exercise” is a scary story about love, it’s not the love that’s scary; that is definitely not true in “Wheels”, the distillation of some themes that have haunted me for almost four decades and finally demanded I explore them in a more traditional narrative form.

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Diary #479

Grace wasn’t quite finished with redoing the plumbing yet (largely because whoever installed it the first time made some mighty strange decisions), but these days I find myself much less anxious than I’d usually be at this time of year, probably because I’ve just increased my cannabis intake to bring my anxiety levels down to more autumnal levels.  Because Sunset is near the edge of a rain forest it rarely gets more than warm out there, and generally it’s chilly enough to need another layer even in summer, as in this picture (with a small visitor who came to see what Snake Mama was up to).  But it won’t be much longer before we’re finally done with floor-leveling and can move on to bookcases, and by spring we should be ready to start on the bathhouse.  There are some other improvements Grace and Chekhov want to do, and naturally other things will pop up and will need to be maintained.  But all in all, I’m really looking forward to having a place that’s basically the way I want it, rather than a work in progress as I have for the past 17 years.  And that’s a big improvement.

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Diary #478

I was apparently more zonked when I got home from Washington last week than I had at first believed; I reckon the combination of jet lag, flying-related stress, flying-related drugs, non-flying-related drugs, and just plain exhaustion affected me powerfully enough that I fell asleep somewhere around midnight and woke up the next day even groggier than usual.  Fortunately I had only low-impact activities on my calendar for a couple of days (including a Who night with Lorelei last Tuesday), and Wednesday night I had one of the best cannabis trips I’ve ever had.  I really wish there was some way to analyze what makes trips better or worse, but even the actual pot chemists I’ve talked to throw up their hands and shrug.  I’ve discovered a few conditions that seem to bring on replicable results, such as restricting large doses to once a week, cycling through various brands to keep my tolerance low, and using sativa-based edibles when I want an interesting trip rather than just relaxation and sleep; I’ve also noticed that the effects seem to be stronger when I’m somewhat dehydrated and a few hours after I’ve had a cocktail or two.  But other than that the effects seem to be determined by a complex formula involving dosage, terpenes, what I’ve eaten and when, time of the month, emotional state and probably two dozen other things, so I reckon I just need to accept that really spectacular trips just happen when they happen.  Ah, well; I’m going to be experiencing a different kind of stoned this coming weekend when I go out to Sunset because Grace has picked some good stoner movies, so we’ll see.  BTB, the picture has nothing to do with any of this; it’s just a good one from Woodhull with Deviant Ollam and Elizabeth Nolan Brown.

 

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With the departure of the Dog Days and the return of American urchins to their State Indoctrination Centers, my life is likely to get a bit easier.  Of course the shortening & darkening of the days is a big part of that, but since I started flying again three years ago there’s another factor:  the end of vacation season and thus a lessening of the number of ridiculously-overcrowded flights.  Normally, I get first class about a third of the time and it’s pretty rare that I get boarded at the last minute, but during the summer the flights are so packed and the scheduling so volatile that it’s rare I even get assigned a seat until the last minute, and I often get bumped from flights entirely (remember when I couldn’t even get to Florida at all?)  So I’ve been loath to schedule any more movie screenings until the beginning of September, and now here we are!  We’ve already got an event on the books for September 26th at the Reason Magazine offices in DC; that trip should be more flexible, so if you’d like to see me while I’m in the area it can probably be arranged.  I must also point out that if you’re not in DC, but a lot closer to it than to Seattle, only my travel time from DC counts against your minimum; in other words, if you’re just two hours from there you could see me for the cost of a dinner date instead of having to spring for an overnight (see how helpful I am when I wanna be?)  We’re also looking at screenings in Toronto and Austin, and I’m looking for an excuse to visit New Orleans at some point this autumn.  So if you can help with any of those, or want to schedule an appointment, or want to help arrange a screening in a different city, just email me.  And if you just want to help me with promoting the movie, my fundraiser is still open!

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