May 31

Vampires Bite

They suck, too.

I was going through my piles of unfinished short stories over the weekend, and I was intrigued by how many of them concern vampires. I seem to have an obsession in that area. I’ve been trying to figure out out why.

Vampires are nightmare monsters. They exert a control over their victims that is irresistable and then drain their victims of their very life essence–their blood. Blood horror is nearly unicersal. When we’re bleeding, we can see and feel our very life draining away. A cut on the head is scary in the extreme. It bleeds like it will never stop. Even though the amount of blood loss might be minimal, a little bit goes a long way.

Then there’s the whole biting on the neck thing. Our necks are very vulnerable. They’re exposed and have a lot of nerves and arteries concentrated in a small area. The neck’s vulnerability also plays a big role among animals. Fights for domination are often decided by the loser exposing its (usually his) neck to the victor. By offering their necks to the vampire, its victims are acknowledging the monster’s dominance and their own helplessness. And then there’s the thought of having a human-sized leech attached to your neck. Ugh.

Vampires live in the night, in the dark. Who’s not afraid of the dark? Yeah, I know you don’t like to admit it, but you get nervous when you can’t see what’s going on around you. That’s another primal fear that humans share. We are pretty much the most helpless species going. We don’t have claws or tough hides or fangs. Our growls are pitiful at best, and damn near anything can outrun us. Our only hope of survival is to see the predator in time to get up a tree ot in a hole or wherever it can’t get to us. In the night, we’re easy pickings.

So where does the sex come in? This is a pretty nasty creature, we’re talking about. Where’s the magnetism? I think it has to do with both the danger and the dominance/submission. Mortal danger has long been known as a powerful aphrodisiac. Blood is also associated with menstrual flow, taken to be a sign of fertility, and the rites of passage to manhood in many parts of the world, which often involves bloodletting of some sort. While we don’t practice these beliefs in the modern world, the archetypes are still with us, the associations linger. Sex, blood, heat, danger all mix together in our subconscious to form a powerful force.

Yet, for all their powers, vampires remain vulnerable, themselves. They lie helpless through the day, hidden lest they be exposed to the deadly sunlight. They have traditionally been thought to be harmed by religious symbols and can be destroyed by physical violence–stake through the heart, beheading, etc. So, even in the dark of the night, we have weapons to protect us, both physical and spiritual. We can win against even these predators.

For all their animalistic traits, though, vampires retain a lot of human-ness. They look human and mostly act human. They walk and talk. This may be the worst of the horrors about them. They’re us. We’re them. Our friends, our families, strangers on the street, who might be a night-walking, blood-sucking, life-stealing monster? It might be me, heh heh.

These thoughts courtesy of Jennifer Morgan, star of “Best Teacher”. That first night as a monster can be a real killer.

May 31

Got Silk?

Corn is tasseling! Good eatin’ on the way. I can also see 8 small tomatoes, about the size of my thumb, and about a dozen tiny jalapenos so far. Everything’s still blooming, and the pole beans are making a run for the border. If I didn’t know better, I’d think they were cousins of kudzu. Broccoli’s done. I need to cut them for the compost pile and get something else growing. Right now, I’m thinking a second crop of lima beans. Can’t hardly wait for the tomatoes and peppers. Fresh salsa is one of the great joys in life.

May 28

Survey Results Forthcoming

Writer’s Digest turned down my query about blogging. OK, I’m going to go ahead and write this thing up and post it on my Web site. I have around 150 responses so far, so we can draw some valid conclusions. Tabulation will take a couple of days, as will analysis. Stay tuned.

May 26

Tough Week, Almost Over

Haven’t been posting much this week. It’s not been much fun. Everything from a flat tire to my wife’s ultrasound (false alarm, everything normal). TGTF. 3 day weekend coming up.

May 26

If I Only Had…

In a comment on my last garden update, Bottom Feeder said he has plans to have a garden “when I have time”. If I only had time. If I only had a heart. If I only had courage. If I only had a brain. If I only knew why I’m so hung up on the Wizard of Oz lately.

When I have time. How many times have I said that to myself? When I have time, I’ll:

  • garden
  • write
  • get re-acquainted with my wife
  • do yard work
  • clean the house
  • organize my books
  • go see my parents

Here’s the problem: I’ll never “have time”. I have to make time. I have all the time there is. It’s my choice how I use it. I do have time to do all these things, just not all at once. I have to set priorities and balance “musts” against “needs” against “wants”. It’s my choice.

What do I want from life? That’s the question. Do I want to live my life working and worrying, or would I rather mine life for the gems and metals that it has to offer and make jewelry from them? Tough choice, huh? Which path will leave me the fewest regrets when I look back 50 years from now?

My choice. From this day forward, 8am until 10am Saturday through Thursday will be writing time. I’ll take Friday as my much-needed day of rest. That’s my choice. 12 hours every week. 7% of the week, I will devote to actually turning words into electrons. That’s less than a tithe.

Even better, I will do this and not feel guilty that I am taking time away from other things. Even allowing 37 hours for work and 8 hours travel time, there are still 111 hours left. 56 for sleep leaves 55 hours for all the other things I must, need, want to do. Cool, huh? I don’t have to feel guilty. I have plenty of time. I have all the time there is.

May 25

Where the Wild Books Roam

Since Demented Michelle was so kind as to bitch-slap…er…tag me with this:

How many books do I own?

Dam’fI’know. Best guesstimate is around 3000. They’re everywhere! Sometimes I think I hear them breeding in the night.

Recently read:

If Angels Burn by Lynn Viehl
Wicca: a Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
The Dark Archetype by Denise Dumars and Lori Nyx
Conspiranoia: the Mother of All Conspiracy Theories by Devon Jackson
Driving Blind by Ray Bradbury
Lilith’s Dream by Whitley Strieber

TBR:

Cirque Du Freak: the Vampire’s Assistant by Darren Shan
Say Good Night to Insomnia by Gregg D. Jacobs
In My Dreams by Monica Jackson
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

Recently purchased:

Cirque Du Freak: the Vampire’s Assistant by Darren Shan
In My Dreams by Monica Jackson
Last Girl Dancing by Holly Lisle (pre-order)
Talyn by Holly Lisle (pre-order)
Threads of Malice by Tamara Siler Jones (pre-order)

Influential books:

This list could go on and on. Dozens of books and authors through the years. These I will share, but there are masses beyond these that will perforce go unnoticed. I cannot, though, leave this list without mentioning the Holy Bible (King James Version), Roger Zelazny, Harlan Ellison, and Flannery O’Connor.

Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear by William Shakespeare
These tragedies brought home to me the notion that our actions have consequences that we must face.

At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
I fell in love with HPL’s lush language and inside views of insanity in the 10th grade, thanks to a kind and unusual English teacher. Thanks, Col. Sullivan. RIP, you are remembered.

H.M.S. Ulysses by Alistair MacLean
I’ve talked about this one before. This novel taught me about honor and redemption. I have always wanted to write a book that would grab teens the way this one grabbed me, and I have always been disappointed that MacLean never write another one this compelling.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
What can I say? The sense of great historical forces moving in the world today, the sense of living myths and the spirit of legends imbuing us with noble purpose, the sense that we make our own legends through our lives and the causes we have the courage to stand up for, all these had and still have a profound impact on me.

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
It was kind of tough to choose which of Bradbury’s to include here, but Dandelion Wine stood out, finally, because of the bittersweet memories of childhood and the golden wonder that infuses us at that time, wonder that we pursue the rest of lives and only rarely recapture.

May 23

Garden Status

A near-disaster averted, I hope. A thunderstorm came through Friday afternoon with heavy rain and high wind. Knocked the corn flat. Terrible timing, as it is just beginning to show spikes on top. I spent Saturday going through and hilling up each individual stalk. Oh, my aching back! It still looks good. Fingers crossed.

The broccoli harvest is almost done. I might be able to get one more small cutting of side shoots before the plants die in the heat. Good harvest, almost 6 pounds so far. Since the wife and I both dearly love fresh broccoli, none of it made it to the freezer.

The first little squashlet and several little cukelets have made their appearances. I probably ought to go ahead and get some jars and some pickling spice, so I’ll be ready when the cuke deluge hits.

Pole beans are running and getting ready to bloom. So are the lima beans. Everything else is growing and blooming, but no harvestables yet.

May 21

Steal This Link

Mik was kind enough to post a link to the Writer’s Blog Survey. If you would like to help generate some interest, please take one and pass it along. Thanks! If you do post a link, please e-mail me, so I can keep you up to date on when (or if, I’m considering a long-term trends analysis) the survey will end.

http://www.carternipper.com/survey

With enough responses (I’m shooting for 100 right now), I can produce some analysis that will help all of us use our blogs to best advantage. Please note that the survey is not just for writers, but for anyone who reads writers’ blogs. Reader input is encouraged and welcomed.