Friday, April 21, 2006

Owl Calls, Woodpeckers and Green Shoots

Enough of that shit (see -- or don't see -- yesterday's link-laden post) -- life here is actually a lot less crazy-making than that. Lest you think, as some concerned folks do, I am utterly consumed by
  • what drives many bloggers these days
  • (on both sides of the political fence, though note the article's slant: isn't this what blowhards like Rush Limbaugh have erected entire careers on? Oh, I see, it's OK when it's a political dynasty build on interminable anti-Clinton screeds in the pre-blogosphere mediascape), understand that what you read here reflects what's on my mind a little piece of each day, not the be-all and end-all.

    Nor are my days spent brooding over the past, though other concerned amigos fear that's the case, given that my precious few posts online emerge only when there's something relevent to the past popping up, usually picking at old scar tissue. Those are passing moments. It's curious to note it's always folks 'outside' who bring matters to my attention: like, when another nearby comrade-in-arms writes to note that "the latest incarnation of Swamp Thing is coming to an end..."; more curious to note, it's ending with issue #29, the very number in which our run hit the highway (with the sudden loss of the Comics Code Authority seal of approval, inadvertantly midwifing what became the entire Vertigo line). My friend included the pre-order ballyhoo with his email -- "Abby, Tefé and Swamp Thing are finally reunited, but with an escaped King Toad, a wild Woodrue and the town of Houma in flames, the series conclusion may prove more traumatic than tender for the Holland family. On sale July 26 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US * MATURE READERS * Final issue" -- concluding, "I never read it. But the recent covers by Eric Powell were real pretty." I've only read a handful of issues of the new series -- more than I read of the last -- and given the cancellation, I reckon most others still fishing in those waters were giving it a pass, too. Since I've never, ever been on DC's comp list, and there aren't any comic shops in driving distance, I've read precious little of the Vertigo line, the only title to really catch my fancy (and dollars) being Preacher. Hell, John Totleben and I caught up on the phone this weekend, and this didn't even come up in conversation; it's not part of our lives any longer, you see, two decades after it was the core of our lives. Thankfully, our lives are now the core of our lives, as it should be.

    Curiouser still, this Swamp Thing finale wrapping things up with "a wild Woodrue and the town of Houma in flames" brings it back to where Alan, John, Rick and I started (Saga of the Swamp Thing #21-24). Weird. Too bad; the big green guy deserves better, if only for being the 'virgin spring' of the entire imprint.

    Passing moments all in my day, not the be-all and end-all; this blog is in and of itself a chronology of those passing moments, not the meat of a given day.

    Hell, if that were the case, this would be
  • cannibal central,
  • since most of my writing hours from now through the end of summer are being spent deep in revisions of We Are Going to Eat You for FAB Press. This has meant not only revising the existing text on cannibal, goona-goona and mondo movies, but brushing up on real-life cannibals, with an eye toward wrapping up the book with
  • the weirdest 21st Century cannibal of 'em all,
  • which neatly ties back into cannibal movies (with
  • the February ban on the film made about his notorious 'consenting adult' feast/crime).
  • Amidst this mayhem, I've also been chopping away at Green Mountain Cinema -- again, nothing reflected in my blog, no Vermont film posts here, that all goes into the book projects -- and cobbling together a couple of short stories that have been in the works for some time. All the while, I'm also wrapping up the third of five scripts for a friend of mine -- and trying to wrap up a rather stubborn sample chapter for a possible novel.

    I've been drawing a bit of late, too, thanks to the previously-noted CCS influence and my son Dan inadvertantly priming-the-pump when he asked for a four-page comic story for his zine ($5 postpaid for a signed edition to Daniel Bissette, 118 High St., Apt. #1, Brattleboro, VT 05301), which is spawning a silly little series of similar opuses. This week has also been a bit of a harvest season, as projects and notions that have been perculating are turning into real gigs and something you'll see down the road in one form or another (I'll post about those when they're indeed something you can hold in your hand). (Yes, I'd love to post that art, too, but damn it, no high-speed access! Which leads me to the town committee I'm serving on to try and resolve that issue... but you don't want to hear about that, do you?)

    But the day-to-day is another matter altogether.

    Spring is full blown here in southern VT at last, though true to the bizarre weather patterns of the past three or four years, it's already an odd one. Some locals were sugaring back in February (once you tap the maples, you only have a few weeks), which is unusual; up north, my old high school classmate George Woodard was done sugaring before Marge and I visited George's farm in mid-March.

    (An aside: my favorite real-life visual gag of the year thus far was one local sugaring on Ames Hill Road plugging a tap and a bucket on the telephone pole alongside the road. This when the news was hot and heavy with President Bush's wiretapping fendango: roadside editorial cartooning, y'understand.)

    Brush fires have become a real prob in southern VT as we're in near-drought conditions already: Wilmington-area brush fires (next town over heading west) are on the front page of this morning's paper. Almost no snow this past "non-winter" (a blessing as far as heating bills went, especially for low-income friends, neighbors and family) meant no snow melt; a bit eerie that the only day I've seen the brooks and streams swollen to anything near their usual spring spillover was one morning, after some heavy rains. This could end up being a deadly dry year, but we'll see. Last summer we were blessed with constant enough rains to spare us the troubles folks north and south suffered. Who knows what the summer will bring?

    Yesterday afternoon Marge tended to the front flower beds, clearing the sheltering autumn leaves away from the shoots and sprouting plants. I was out in our front yard, washing the cars (their first since the fall; spare use of water, don't fret), which prompted a string of neighbors pulling over to chat. This is part of the spring ritual, too, 'round here, and it's great fun. Caught up with the news from one of my fave ex-First Run Video fellow employees, who was the first to pull over and chat; her son is an amazing kid, and I turned him onto the Godzilla films of the '60s during our video store years, which he dug. So, we talked a bit: her college year winding down with the usual crunch (projects due! Final papers due!), which led to my end-of-the-year at CCS pending, and so on and so forth.

    Then another of my neighbors pulled over to chat from his pickup, which went on a bit, prompting another Marlboro neighbor to pull over in his pickup to ask pickup neighbor #1 something, though of course it took a while to get to that. Once two of 'em pull over, one gets to eavesdrop in one's own front yard as the conversation detours into the reasons they pulled over to chat to one another instead of yours truly -- yesterday, it was two of the local apple-growers, who went on for about half-an-hour about what's happening right now upending their day-to-days. Seems this is the earliest start of a growing season on record in quite some time; the apple trees are already sprouting "green matter" (as they kept calling it), alarming them a bit and prompting a flurry of pre-April 20th preparations: pruning, cleanup, prep for spraying. Given the "non-winter," insect pests and scales are going to be in apple-orchard heaven, goosing activity among apple-growers two-to-three weeks before usual. These gents are tradesmen botanists, and though I only followed at best about 60% of what they were talking about (like all trades, they have their jargon, much of it alien to these layman ears, though my botany research from the Tyrant years served me surprisingly well in keeping up with their talk), it was a revealing snapshot of what's happening right now hereabouts.

    Afterwards, I bid my farewells and finished up washing the cars before cleaning up and wolfing down a quick (yummy) dinner. Marge and I were eager to catch a movie -- she's on vacation this week from school (she's a school psychologist in NH) -- and that we did: Thank You For Smoking, a polished black comedy of our opportunistic times. William H. Macy, who has a cabin up on the edge of the Northeast Kingdom and graduated (with his buddy David Mamet) from Goddard College, was a highlight caricaturing a Vermont Senator, whose desk was heavy with (packaged) maple syrup and a tireless promoter of cheddar cheese and last seen arguing for digital editing of old movies to remove cigarettes (kinda like Disney Studios did to their venerable Pecos Bill cartoon when they finally released Melody Time on DVD/vhs). A few laughs amid the satiric stabs at the failed American moral compass, if ever we had one, en route; we enjoyed our night out is all that matters here.

    Back to home and off to bed. The nights have been warm and sweet, meaning sleeping with windows wide open, and we wake every morning to the dawn "Phoe - be" call of the chickadees, who are ever-present hereabouts.

    These warm nights bring the birds out earlier and more active every morning. The woodpeckers have been picking up the mornings a bit, tapping out their territory and such. Last year we had one hammering on our roof antennae daily; this year, only one session of that rat-tat-tat-tat-tat, and fleeting at that. On my 6 AM walk, I could hear one this morning doing the head-dance on a power pole utility box down Town Hill Road about a quarter-mile: better there than on my roof.

    But the chill nights have their denizens, too. The last cold night we had -- which was I think Sunday AM -- was punctuated by the 4 AM hooting and howling of two owls just outside our bedroom window. It was a pretty spectacular audio track to the pre-dawn violet sky; Marge slept soundly through it all. I savored it: their voices are unlike any other in nature, wilder than the noises John Totleben used to make while drawing squid-headed-women in the adjoining room in our old Dover, NJ "Dutch Masters Studio" household. One owl really revved it up, a feathered banshee in heat.

    I love the early mornings.

    It's a pleasure 'warming up' daily here.

    But whatever I post here, mind you, usually hasn't much to do with life as it is here at Hacienda Bissettios. This is one of the places I 'go away' to for a short bit, usually before breakfast. There's a whole day ahead of me after; but it's a good way to kick off with these writing exercises after my morning walk.

    Home can be the far country, one and the same.

    "God is at home,
    We are in the far country."
    -- Meister Eckhart