Five Problems with Social Media
- Grammar and spelling. It wasn’t, and generally still isn’t, that evident on social media sites like LiveJournal and Dreamwidth, but social media sites that limit the size of posts have the unfortunate side-effect of encouraging people to make spelling and grammatical shortcuts, in order to get the most bang for their posting buck. Twitter, I’m looking at you, here. Sadly, it’s beginning to bleed over into “real life” writing habits, breeding a new generation of illiterate morons who will spell wait as w8, even when they have no word or character limits.
- Keyboard Warriors. Not everything on Earth or in the virtual world is a fucking trigger. Get over yourselves and stop making everyone who is unfortunate enough to attract your attention miserable.
- Selfies. We’ve all made them, yes. But you don’t have to make them every day, much less more frequently. Instagram has got to be the best thing to happen for narcissists, and the worst thing to happen for everyone else, in the history of Teh Intarwebz.
- Emojis. This kinda ties in with #1. On many social media sites, you don’t have to use words to express how you’re feeling anymore. You need only post an image of a thing with a face that best represents you at that moment. Even though it comes in handy, when you don’t have the ability to say “I’m feeling a little sniffly right now. I may be coming down with a cold”, when you are able to write out how you’re feeling, using emojis so much may dull your ability to go beyond adding what is essentially a cave painting to a message board.
- Lack of Fact-Checking. I’m guilty of this just as much as anyone else, even though I try to be as attentive as possible. In a world where anyone can claim they are a journalist, and images can so easily be manipulated, you really can’t completely trust anything you see, especially on social media. The problem is exacerbated by people blindly reposting misinformation, based solely on the headline, often without even reading the article itself, much less double checking what’s being reported.
I haven’t done one of these in about 10,000 years, so let’s get this show on the road.
1. Full name: Tracy Angelina Evans
2. Nicknames: Tin, Tinhuviel, George, Darth Shriek
3. Birthplace: Asheville, North Carolina USA
4. Birthday: 10 September, 1967
5. Where Do You Live Now?: San Diego, California
6. Parent(s): Father Unit has passed. Mother Unit is here in San Diego.
7. Sibling(s): ZERO
8. Looks: Better off invisible.
9. Favourite Animal(s): Anything non-human, except for millipedes and centipedes. Like humans, they can go fuck themselves.
10. Favorite TV Show(s): Impractical Jokers, Better Call Saul
11. Favorite Kind(s) Of Music: Most everything but Country and Opera.
12. Favorite Movie(s): Sci-Fi, Unusual, Conceptual, Foreign
13. School: Some college, focusing on English and Veterinary Assistance
14. Future School: I’m too old for this question. The Chapel Perilous
15. Future Job: Testing new, effective sleep aids.
16. Boyfriend/Girlfriend: nah
17. Best Buds: I’m a bit of a hermit these days.
18. Favorite Candy: Milk Dud
19. Hobbies: Music, reading, writing
20. Things You Collect: Grudges, CDs, movies, moments in time.
21. Do You Have A Personal Phone Line: Yes
22. Favorite Body Part Of The Opposite Sex? The eyes and brain
23. Any Tattoos And Where Of What?: Red & Black Triskele on right hand, Green Shriekback logo on left hand, Mwanza Flat-headed Agama with green and blue hues instead of pinkish and blue.
24. Piercing(s) And Where?: not anymore
25. What Do You Sleep in?: clothing
26. Do you like Chain Letters: aw HELL NAW.
27. Best Advice: Reality is peripheral.
28. Favorite Quotes: Hope for the best, expect the worst. - Mel Brooks.
29. Non-sport Activity You Enjoy: sleep
30. Dream Car: A transporter
31. Favorite Thing To Do In Spring: Avoid the sun.
32. What’s Your Bedtime: Whenever I’m lucky.
33. Where Do You Shop: Wherever I can.
34. Coke or Pepsi: Cheerwine
35. Favorite Thing(s) To Wear?: Something loose that will allow me to blend into my surroundings.
36. Favorite Subject(s) In School: English and Creative Writing
37. Favorite Color(s): Green, Red, Black
38. Favorite People To Talk To Online: People with brains and a wicked sense of humour that has set them on the road to Hell.
39. Root-Beer or Dr. Pepper? Root beer
40. Do You Shave? I’m too old for that bullshit.
41. Favorite Vacation Spot(s): I don’t do vacations. My favourite place to BE is England.
42. Favorite Family Member(s): Smidgen
43. Did You Eat Paint Chips When You Were a Kid? WHAT?
44. Favorite CD you own: Currently Without Real String or Fish by Shriekback
45. The ONE Person Who You Hate The Most: Going with an old standard here and saying Pat Robertson.
46. Favorite Food(s)?: Potatoes
47. Who Is The Hottest Guy or Girl In The World?: I have a very short list.
48. What Is Your Favorite Salad Dressing?: Bleu Cheese.
49. When You Die, Do You Wanna Be Buried or Burned Into Ashes? I don’t care, as long as I end up on Craggy Dome.
50. Do You Believe In Aliens?: Absolutely.
51. If You Had The Chance To Professionally Do Something, What would You Do? I’m already a Professional Misanthropist.
52. Things You Obsess Over: Various artists, ideas, philosophies, theories, general weirdness
53. Favorite Day of the Week: Don’t bloody care.
54. An Authority Figure You Hate: The Feudal Mistress still tops the list.
55. Favorite Disney Movie: Bambi
56. What Is Your Favorite Season? Winter
57. What Toppings Do You Like On Your pizza? Cheese, with extra cheese, and cheese on the side.
58. Do You Like Your School Food Itself (As In The District Food): I never ate it.
59. If You Could Live Anywhere, Where Would You Live? Avebury, Wiltshire, UK
60. Favorite Thing(s) To Do On Weekends: Sleep, if I can accomplish it.
61. Favorite Magazine(s): Don’t have one.
62. Favorite Flower(s): White rose
63. Favorite Number(s): 5
64. Favorite Ice Cream flavor(s): Ben & Jerry’s Wavy Gravy
65. What Kind of Guys/Girls Are You Attracted to?: Dangerously intelligent, beautiful, talented, and hilarious.
66. What’s Your Most Embarrassing Moment? I inadvertently introduced myself to someone as his wife.
67. If You Could Change One Thing About Yourself What Would It be? I would be fearless.
68. Do You Eat Breakfast First Then Brush Your Teeth or Brush first ten eat breakfast: breakfast first.
69. Favorite Time of Day: Whenever I get to sleep.
70. Can A Guy and Girl Be Just “Best Friends?”: Why not?
71. Do You Ask The Girl/Guy Out Or Do You Wait For Them To Come To You?: I don’t go there anymore.
72. Do You Mind Paying For Sex? I never would.
73. What’s The Most Important thing In Someone’s Personality: Sentience
74. Do you have a pager or cell phone? Cell
75. Favorite Sport: Flambodious Butt-walking
76. What Was the Best Gift You Ever Received? Love
77. How Long Did This Letter Take You To Finish?: Not very long.
78. What Did You Listen To While Completing It?: Electric Light Orchestra’s Alone in the Universe.
79. Are you or would you like to be married in the near future (next 5 years)? NEGATIVE
80. Don’t u just hate how psychics never win the lottery? I hate it more than I don’t win the lottery. I hate psychics, especially the ones who claim to talk to your dead relatives. They’re grifters who should be drawn and quartered. The End.
On occasion, I have been asked how I get anything done, because it seems I’m doing everything all at once. Well, I am doing everything all at once, but it’s really all about what a person gets used to. It’s also about how a person’s mind works.
My mind has always been way too busy for its own good. Many of my teachers in school allowed me to doodle as I took notes, because the only way I could fully focus on the work at hand was to allow my mind to drift in other matters. I know that seems counterintuitive, but it worked for me, and I soaked knowledge up like a sponge. The same concept applied to reading for me. I have to be reading more than one book at a time, and I have to read each page at least twice, because the first time is a kind of overall imprint, and the second review is more of an in-depth absorption. I read by paragraph, not by sentence.
I think faster than I can write, even with typing, so I often skip words, which can be frustrating.
When I began working in Quality Assurance at BMG, we were all allowed to do as we pleased whilst auditioning new releases, just as long as we could remain focused on identifying sound and technical issues with the recordings. I got into the habit of writing and working on art while I listened. It took the pressure of having to listen to shite. When we began testing video games and upgraded to computers, my focus had to change. I could audition new releases while testing new games. I was also tasked to teach myself the computer, then give instruction to my boss and coworkers, so I would often find myself listening to an album, playing a game, and learning the PC by trial and error, all at the same time. It was never an issue for me. I adored it.
After BMG decided it no longer cared about the quality of its products and I ended up in the Pit (Special Orders Services/Point of Purchase promotions), my need to multi-task came in extremely handy, garnering me a lot of praise from a lot of labels, and some really nice raises. There were days I would be working on a dozen different promotions projects, and still be writing on my own stuff. When we got plugged into the Internet at work, I was introduced to LJ and created the Cliffs of Insanity to help me deal with the madness of working in the music business. Even though the coping mechanism only partially worked, as is evidenced in my obvious madness even today, it further developed my multi-tasking skills, allowing me to be able to listen to music, talk on the phone, communicate via email, process orders, organise promotions, bitch in my journal, and write on my fiction simultaneously. The more I did, the more I could do, and the more I needed to do.
I never had any capacity for patience, though, and what little patience I had, began to deteriorate. I am now pretty much devoid of any patience, but the mind is still on overdrive, and I often find myself incapable of doing just one thing. I feel incomplete and lazy. I feel disconnected, not only from the world as I perceive it, but also from myself. I also need some distraction in order to keep Cadmus in his Tulpa form at bay. If it weren’t for multi-tasking, Cadmus would have driven me the rest of the way mad as a hatter long ago.
I know a lot of people find multi-tasking to be a pain in the arse but, for me, it is a blessing for a mind that will sleep when it’s dead.
Four days and three nights passed before Cadmus’ house went quiet. Out of desperation, Flint had resorted to Vampirising his fellow rats, as he waited for his chance to flee the Plenipotentiary’s lair. It was shoddy cuisine, but desperation made the blood taste much better than it actually did.
Even though the place had fallen silent, Flint was more than a little frightened that Cadmus was still present and waiting for him to attempt an escape. If Cadmus was a master of one thing, it was absolute stillness. Flint had never been more afraid in his life, truth be told, and that fright conflicted with his impulse to flee immediately. He fought the urge, however, knowing that it was all too likely that Cadmus was waiting silently for Flint to reveal himself so that he could sacrifice the young vagabond Vampire to his Harming Tree.
He could sense the sun sinking beyond the mouldy stone walls of his dungeon hide-out and decided to give the silence one that night and the following day before he attempted to spirit himself away from the hidden keep. After draining another rat, Flint slept, curled up in amongst his living brothers, but still shivering from cold and trepidation.
For most Vampires, patience was something that came with the territory of immortality. Waiting for anything was like blinking your eyes in the scheme of things. It all passed so quickly, the endlessness and variety.
Flint opened one beady rat eye and glared at his brothers, who all seemed content in the deep crevice shared by the colony. He was beginning to feel claustrophobic and irritable. It had been 24 hours and, still, the keep was silent as death. Raising his nose, Flint sniffed the stagnant air, and caught no scent of the Dark Child of Night. Cadmus had to be gone. This could be Flint’s only chance to escape the horrors of his killing ground.
Rising from the dank floor, Flint stretched, emerging from the ancient gash in the stone wall. Instantly, he became his human form once more, immediately crouching in a defensive position. You just could not be too careful with a creature like Cadmus Pariah. His powers were boggling, and Flint felt he had been nothing more than lucky to have escaped the Plenipotentiary’s lethal wrath for this long.
Things have been going on, so this may be a bit of an update from Hell, compared to my usually non-updates.
First off, my phone has been on the fritz for who knows how long. It’s not actually the phone, but the Cricket network. I went yesterday to try to sort it, but the folks at the store couldn’t even troubleshoot it, so they had to put in a service order, which means up to 72 more hours of no service.
Since the first of the year, my health has been shite. Recurring migraines with the most vicious nausea I think I’ve ever had, has beaten down my body more than I could have ever imagined. In the past month, I have lost 10 pounds, and spent three days in the hospital, thanks to these fucking headaches. I’m thinner now than I have been since I was 12 years old. It has gotten to the point where I can’t even walk to the bathroom, which is right beside my room, without my having breathing difficulties and a pounding heart. I feel like I am dying.
But, I might get to tick one thing off my bucket list before heading into the Void, if I’m lucky. Jeff Lynne is bringing ELO back to the American stage on September 9th, 10th, and 11th of this year, at the Hollywood Bowl. When it was announced, I emailed a bunch of people with a proposition that, if they could get the tickets, I’d try to arrange us a place to stay. My old high school friend, Andy, has always dreamt of attending a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and he bit. We’re just waiting for the tickets to go on sale, if I can’t finagle them earlier than 1 May. The target day is September 10th, as that’s the best day for Andy. It’s also my birthday, which would be perfect.
Speaking of Jeff Lynne, David Bowie’s unexpected and untimely death made me come to grips with a truth I’ve known for a long time, but never truly verbalised, even to myself. I decided to accept it and to come out, to use the term in a wholly different manner. I wrote Barry Andrews and told him that he was the single most influential individual in my life, more so even than even the godlike Jeff Lynne and JRR Tolkien. I wanted him to know it, in the event either of us kicks the bucket. You should tell people how they affect you before it’s too late. It could be too late in the next five minutes. No one knows what each second will bring. No one.
A few weeks ago, there was a huge shake-up in the format of the Work in Progress that officially made it into a full-fledged novel in the works instead of a collection of short stories. I don’t even know what brought it to mind, guessing it had to be some kind of divine inspiration. The long and short of it, though, is that Flint steals the New Hive’s first - and currently only - relic, Cadmus Pariah’s Harming Tree. The story will revolve around Cadmus hunting down Flint, with possible help from Orphaeus Cygnus, and will include the stories and vignettes I have already written about the Harming Tree. As The Blood Crown was essentially a Vampiric Hope & Crosby Road movie in book form, The Harming Tree will be a bit of a book version of a hunt and chase movie, kind of in the vein of Mad Max: Fury Road and the like. I have asked Barry if he could drum up a photo of his harming tree, which is seen only briefly in the ‘Captain Cook’ video, and is obviously the benign inspiration, despite its name, for Cadmus’ dreadful tool of agony. It would be good to have a very clear image reference as I continue this mad journey into the Darkness. I need to jog his memory, though, as it’s been two or three months since I asked him. I’m sure he’s forgotten, and I keep forgetting to remind him. We are old as fuck.
About an hour or so ago, I came across the best Creepypasta, as well as one of the very best short stories, I've ever read. I chanced upon it on You Tube, listened to it, then had to go to the original Pasta to read along as I listened for a second and third time. It's both a disturbing and beautiful story. The poetry of the fiction's language wraps around a visceral tale that will linger in the peripheries of your subconscious. If you like horror and/or science fiction, you'll love this.
For the best experience, I suggest you listen to the narration, which is flawless, whilst reading along. It makes for quite the unsettling experience, which means the insanely talented writer and the subsequent skillful narrator achieve what they each set out to do. I'm embedding the You Tube narration along with a link to the short story. You need only click the passage I copied from the story to be taken there, so you can read along. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I've bookmarked everything, but wanted to make sure I would know where to find the story when I want to revisit, because I know I will. Often!
It's talking to me. Cooing sing-song layered words packed with image and smell and sound. Destruction, charred flesh, crying babies, the static deafening, holocaust fast and slow, some die in flames, in quakes of reality, in molecular disease while others die in camps, farms, zoos and labs. There are holes in the sky. Out of them come exterminating angels, servants of a distant and inconceivable Lord.
Also, have a picture of a cube UFO, as allegedly witnessed in El Paso, Texas, in July. I'm including it because it just adds to the creepiness of the above passage, and I won't be happy until you are as disturbed as I am!
The past couple of days have seen me regain my lost focus on things I needed to do. Along with it was a wonderful spurt of energy, which I have tried to utilise for best effect possible. Yesterday, in particular, resulted in a great deal of Shriek dissemination. I'm thinking knowing I'm going to be taken off life's stage for a goodly portion of the weekend that spurred the flurry of activity.
Late tomorrow morning, I'll be going back under the knife - and "sander" - at the dentist's office. "But why?" you may ask. "I thought you got a full set of dentures!" And you would be more than justified in any confusion this has imposed on you. My permanent teeth never fit me correctly, but I was waiting for the gums to heal more before I went for any adjustments. The problem only got worse over time, though. The dentures are too large for my mouth to rest with my lips closed. I have to work at keeping my mouth closed, which gives me a distinct chimpanzee appearance. If I don't close my mouth, I look like this dog.
When I laugh or smile, Tuna is replaced by Mr. Ed. But it's not the aesthetic that distressed me as much as the health concerns. Because the teeth were so large and ill-fitting, I couldn't use them to bite food, and there wasn't enough room in my mouth to even chew properly. The act of grinding the teeth together in an effort to chew was not only unsuccessful, but excruciating. Being a GBS patient, I have to chew my food beyond thoroughly. Any small amount of unchewed food can get caught in my tiny digestive track, which means it will come back up. My inability to chew resulted in a lot of vomiting so, almost a year out, I'm still on a soft food diet. Let's just say I'm fortunate to love potatoes and cottage cheese so much.
Then, there was my speech. I've always been very self-conscious about my speech, because of the variety of accents in my family and, upon entering school, being teased for having a lisp. At the age of 6, I began speech therapy with myself. I obsessed over tongue-positioning to cloak the lisp and, a couple of years later, I was almost lispless. That didn't stop the kids from doing what kids do, though, so speech became an issue for me early on. Obviously, without fangs in my face, and because of my almost life-long practice of tongue positioning, my impediment is magnified. With the teeth in, I have a whole new set of speech problems, from sounding like Gopher in the Winnie the Pooh cartoons to slurring my words to the point of sounding like a drunk zombie politician on the campaign trail. I have to repeat everything I say, all the time. This is particularly frustrating when I go see Dr. Harrington. He's deaf as hell and my unintelligible blarghing is counter-productive to a successful talk-centric session.
The combination of pain, inability to properly eat or speak, and looking like the ugliest Osmond in all of Utah drove me back to the dentist last week to hopefully get them adjusted enough to where I could lead just a fraction of a normal life. I saw a different dentist in the office that day, one Dr. Habashi, who is hubba-hubba-level handsome. Unlike the dentist who took me on after my first dentist, Dr. Preber, moved to Northern California, Dr. Habashi listened to everything I had to say, noted by areas in my mouth that I was not exaggerating, and gave me a thorough exam, including another full digital imaging of my head. After gathering all the evidence, he gave me the bad/good news. The bad news is I'm one of those rare individuals who, instead of having the occasional, inevitable bone shard still in my gums work its way out as the gums healed, some of the shards established residence and began developing spurs. Even though I did have a couple of shards work their way out, which is quite normal, it turned out that I had a few more that remained, forming hard knots all over my gum lines, top and bottom. This was keeping my gums inflamed and made wearing the dentures pretty much impossible and agonising.
The good news is, this can be fixed! He set me up an appointment for a second oral surgery to basically "sand down" my gums and remove any bone left behind from the first surgery. I will then have to be refitted again for properly-fitting dentures. Thanks to b_bopper55, I will be able to pay for the second surgery, but the new teeth are obviously free, considering they were not made correctly, and did not function in any way dentures are supposed to work. So, hopefully soon, I'll stop being left-side Ren and finally transform into right-side Ren.
I'm thinking that this surgery may be worse than the initial extraction surgery. There's an image of a NYC high-rise construction worker ambling into the operation room after I'm put out, revving up his industrial electric sander and wearing a grin that can't say anything but "Serial Killer in Training." So, I'm trying to get as much writing and advertising done today as I can. I've already alerted the band that I will probably be incommunicado for most of tomorrow and all of Sunday, and I am finishing up a rudimentary outline of the five main characters of The Harming Tree. I've been writing a lot of late, but all of it is currently disjointed, as I write what is "given" me, and that process is never a consecutive narrative. So, yeah, I may be posting a good bit about Shriekback today, as well as posting my 5-character study with accompanying anchor images.
Calling all Shriekback Fans!
The new album is right around the corner and the band need
you to spread the festive news like warm butter.
Be sure to pass on everything and screen cap it.
Your involvement will not only help fund more music,
you will also enjoy exclusive freebies for your loyal service.
And who doesn't want that?
So far, the week has certainly been an interesting one.
Yesterday evening, You Tube's All Seeing Eye, placed this little gem in my recommendations - Contemporary Acoustic Buddhist music, courtesy of Mantrasphere and record producer, Barry Andrews. Listen!
Today has been a little less productive because I went to get a nerve block injection for the left side of my lower back. They gave me a giant shot of dilaudid and phenergan to relax me, and they said it would last a few hours after the procedure was finished. That was this morning at 9 o'clock. I did not go to sleep, like so many other patients do, according to the staff, but I did zone out for much of the day, only recently snapping out of the catatonia. So far, I've been satisfied with the block's effects. I can stand up straight now, instead of looking like a human comma. After months of really hideous pain, any change for the better is welcome to the point of my turning into this little old lady.
Since hearing the new Shriekback album, the ebb and flow of my current Work in Progress has changed tidal behaviours and set my writer brain on fire. Big changes are in the offing, and I'm eager to get to the revisions and rewrites.
But first, I need to finish the song-by-song review of Without Real String or Fish so it will be ready to share, if approved, when the album is released. The problem I'm having with it, though, is the brainmeats begin conjuring new themes and possible directions for the book, when I'm trying to focus solely on whatever song I'm discussing at the moment. What I'm having to do is limit the work on the review to two or three songs a day, with each song on perpetual repeat until I collect my "sanity." I am halfway finished with it, and am about to work some more on it, since I haven't touched it at all today, for obvious I'm-drugged-the-fuck-out-of-my-mind reasons.
I figured I would visit the Cliffs before proceeding, because I'm committed to being more present here, my favourite and preferred dot on the Internet map. It's now time to make a concerted effort to maintain my "critical brain" as I beat back the "creative brain" for a little while.
I'm gonna be writing like a damned maniac.
Over the course of about a day now, I've had one character get resurrected in my current narrative and another new character get added to the same narrative. As it stands in my brainmeats right now, after Cadmus kills Baptiste Chenier, a solitary Vampire whose Hive alliance is still a mystery to me, resurrects him. This would make him the only Vampire to ever be decapitated, but still be saved. The only thing I know about the female Vampire is that her name is Pandora, and she renames the film maker Cadmus just killed Lazarus. The feeling I'm getting from this new and unexpected turn of events indicates to me that they are going to be of special importance to the new story. So, to celebrate, I made a crap Photoshop manipulation whilst waiting for my words to return.
I'm posting these primarily for ladyana5, with whom I was discussing images on the Internet. I figured I'd make it a separate post to keep the band current in search engines, because Shriekback. The first image is the unaltered scan from a Creem magazine article that was printed during the Big Night Music period. You can click this image or the Photoshopped one to see them at the original size.
When I began work on the old Shriekback Digital Conspiracy site, I had never used Photoshop. The Father Unit gave me his version, whichever the latest was in 2000. Even though I'm still horrible at Photoshopping, I'm a thousand percent better then I was then. Behold the smeary rock where the lettering used to be! Horrible, horrible manip...
This is one of my favourite pics of the band. The only way it could have been better was if Carl had been in the shot. I will make note here that this image actually inspired an entire chapter in one of my books. A picture has never played a role in that kind of inspiration before, and it never has since. As I'm more auditory when it comes to Muse activity, I don't see it happening again, but I will never say never. You just can't know such things.
Here is a passage from a manuscript I never incorporated in the Relics Trilogy. It's the last entry in a journal found on a bank of the Po in Turin, Italy. The entry is incomplete and the Canadian journalist and paranormal investigator, Isaac Steugler, has yet to be found. I was considering making it a sub-plot of 'The Augury of Gideon', but I think it may better fit the new book. We'll see. In the meantime, here is Isaac Steugler's last known writing.
Rarely does an investigative journalist have the honour to stumble across something so incredible that he questions his own sanity at discovering such revelations.
Such is the joy and plight of this writer.
In the past, I’ve investigated and written texts about the hidden mysteries of The Talmud and Kabbalistic traditions. I’ve researched the source of the majority of our modern belief systems: the Sumerian society and their interactions with beings they considered to be gods. I’ve delved into the many traditions of Celtic worship and their latterday descendants, Druidism and Witchcraft. And I have walked the secret halls of the Freemasons and their Hermetic and Enochian brethren.
I thought I knew all there was to know about the occult, the arcane, the obscure. But I was wrong.
Since I found some ancient scrolls tucked away in one of the Cathedral's caverns, my life and all in which I thought I believed has turned upside-down. If these scrolls are legitimate (and all evidence points to the fact that they are), I have found absolute proof that Vampires exist, and have long been a part of some arcane conspiracy that reaches all the way to the world governments and dominant religious institutions. They may even solve the mystery of the Shroud, given their close proximity.
I'm returning to Ontario tomorrow, getting in touch with an associate of mine who should be familiar with this text. She can hopefully translate what I can't, and twig me onto someone who can run tests on the scrolls' antiquity.
These are exciting times for
Perhaps Mr. Zeugler ran afoul of Cadmus Pariah...
To learn more about and, if you wish, purchase The Vampire Relics, please click on the picture below.
DF: Why write about Vampires?
TAE: I write about Vampires because I was raised on a steady media diet of vampirism, thanks to watching 'Dark Shadows' in my playpen whilst the mother unit toodled about.
While you're at it, explore the blog. Derrick is a fantastic writer and reviewer, so I'm sure his insights will tickle your fancy.
I've long held the opinion that oral traditions were not entirely dependent on repeatedly telling the tale and memorizing every nuance that the story contained. I am of a mind that there comes a point where spoken and written communication becomes embedded in cultural and racial consciousness. Even if you've never heard a song or a tale before, sometimes you still recognise it. Something within you resonates with an ineffable sense of truth that, to quote Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, "surrounds and binds" you. More often than not, such transcendental familiarity can be associated with a person's ancestry. You are experiencing a kind of sacred sentience that scientists, particularly in the field of genetics, are only now coming to understand.
This expansive consciousness is not limited to humanity. It involves everything we think we know, and emanates far beyond the boundaries we have yet to imagine. Our fellow Earthlings perceive existence in ways so alien to us, we can't even grasp the enormity of such a concept. The more we learn about the world around us, the more obvious it becomes that our knowledge and understanding don't even skim the surface of the mysteries of creation. One thing we have begun to accept, though, is the power of DNA. Within DNA rest infinite spirals of information that can be accessed as needed and enhanced by the epiphanies their current vessels' experience in their lifetime. Looking at it from this perspective gives rise to the idea that sentience doesn't reside within us; rather, we reside in sentience. Everything we know, or think we know, has been discovered countless times before, and will continue to do so as the universe, or multiverse, seeks its own definition.
What does all of this have to do with The Augury of Gideon? Everything.
First, the definition of "augury" as found on Dictionary.com:
A great deal of the books of Daniel and Revelation are auguries in the Abrahamic religions. Many Shamans, from the ancient past to the present, are augers, their knowledge, often acquired by rote, are auguries. Some auguries are so old, their wisdom have become organic, inscribed upon the very atoms that comprise the spirals of DNA. An augury can be quantum graffiti, the wall upon which it is written, creation's tabula rasa, eternally craving the to be filled with poetry, whale song, the repetitive patterns drafted in the path of stars and the whispered constructs of a virus. It is known and understood on innumerable levels and in dimensions that may never be proven by humanity.
That said, an augury can be anything, not just a spoken tale or a series of letters chiseled into stone. Pull away the veils that conceal its stories, and it will be revealed in an infinity of forms. It can be the symphony of what will come, encrypted and replicated in every tiny cell that makes you you.
I first encountered the word "augury" when I watched Earth: Final Conflict in 1997. One of the main characters, played by the brilliant Richard Chevolleau, had the nickname "Augur," which he acquired because of his almost supernatural computer skills, which included hacking and virtual linguistic gymnastics that helped the resistance better understand the true intentions of the alien Taelons. Being a student of the prophecy, omens, and various forms of divination, I instantly loved the word and mentally bookmarked it for possible use in the future. I got my chance two years later while I was writing Cadmus Pariah's biography, Sui Generis, which became one of the chapters in the first Relics book, The Chalice. I started the story out with a strange little phrase that had been looping in my mind for days: "The desert shakes with the footsteps of the Jinn, ascending for the perishing sun, owl and serpent alike." After completing the bio, I attributed what looked to be a prophecy to one of the Original Ten Vampires, a Tarmian wood-worker, who became known as Gideon. The name was based on a bit of confusion on my part, at the age of 9. In 1978, I watched an old Jack Benny movie called The Horn Blows at Midnight. Mr. Benny played an avenging angel whose duty was to sound his trumpet to herald Armageddon. I don't know how or why it happened, but up until I gave the Tarmian-turned-Upyr the name, I had always thought Jack Benny's name in the film was Gideon. Even though I discovered I was mistaken, I still kept the name.
During the time I was writing Sui Generis, I was learning more about Shamanism and the use of hallucinogens in various Shamanic rituals around the world. Ever since I'd learned Syd Barrett's tragic story, I became resolute in the opinion that by way of LSD, Syd became hyper-aware of how vast and incomprehensible reality truly is and, because he apparently had little or no training in Shamanism, he was unable to process that which had manifested, and it drove him mad.
I could easily see that as a possibility, considering the presence of the archetypal mad man or fool making itself known in cultures throughout the world over the span of millennia. Two modern examples of this would be the character of Gabby Johnson in Blazing Saddles, and Matthew Silver, who is a performance artist in New York. He's the perfect modern example of the archetypal mad shaman. Watch him in action, and you'll see what I mean.
So, taking the components of a Gene Roddenberry sci-fi show, a case of mistaken identity involving an old B&W film from the 40s, the tragic story of Syd Barrett, the theories of cellular and racial memory, combined with cosmic consciousness, I added the Fool archetype, and anchored the character to Dean Haglund in his role as Ringo in The Lone Gunmen to further flesh Gideon out.
Gideon was the mad Vampire shaman, and his prophecies were known to exist by the entire Hive, but no one knew what all of them were. No one could say if they came in the form of scrolls or were passed on in oral traditions. His foretellings were collectively called The Augury, and it is this that became the third Relic, which was actually seen and held by at least two characters in the first Relics book, The Chalice. Even though Gideon is seen only in retrospect throughout the series, he and his message became two of the most important factors in resolving the arc story.
About half of the book was influenced by a song called 'Planet' by Shriekback, a bonus track on the now impossible-to-find "Cormorant" egg. I don't know what the true meaning of the song is; rather, I wrote a large portion of The Augury of Gideon based on my interpretation of the lyrics. It certainly triggered thoughts of martyrdom and sacrifice in my mind, with some unexpected results.
As is expected, the final book of the trilogy brings a few storylines to close, and says goodbye to some of the Vampires at its end. Given that The Augury is firmly based in the cyclic nature of existence, the immortality of genetic memory, and the indestructibility of sentience, I would suggest you compare the last story to one of Cadmus' favourite things: a black hole. Going into a black hole may very well seal your doom, based on what we think we know about how the universe works, but it could also be a tool of cosmic transformation, giving credence to the Pagan concept of the Goddess' womb to tomb aspect. Who knows what may happen when you come out the other side of the black hole?
Perhaps we can find out together. Until then, I hope you enjoy this book and the characters that told the story. If anything in any of the three books inspires you to learn more about some of the concepts, traditions, cultures, music, and philosophies that helped inspire them, then I'd say my work is done. You have the secrets of The Augury now. It's time to pass it on to others.
Yesterday, Barry Andrews uploaded a new blog entry on the Shriekback Tumblr. It's a great read, obviously, but I saw a lot of what he wrote could also apply to other musicians, artists, writers, dancers - basically anyone who produces creative content. Over the years, I've come across artists who work in all creative mediums who say they were influenced and/or inspired by Shriek music. I was especially pleased to read two particular statements in the narrative.
Shriekback has long enjoyed a cordial, if intermittent, rapport with the film business. The reason is not hard to discern: we do seem to be good at creating ‘atmosphere’. Evoking feelings; establishing a mood. I’ve no idea why this comes so easily but it does. Music can sidestep the conscious, critical mind and make emotions happen in a way that visual media have to work a lot harder to do.
Later on in the blog entry, he wrote:
It’s always a nice moment when you get an email asking to use a piece of Shriekback music in a film: firstly it means you get paid without doing anything (though you always seem to have to chase the money- doubtless for some film biz related reason). And also there’s an implied compliment in that someone saw something in your work which they felt would enhance their own.
Of course, I had to share the entry to my Vampire Relics Facebook page, adding my own opinion about the nature of creative expression. Here was my take as the writer of The Vampire Relics:
So what do you think? Do you think Shriekback's treatise on the nature film-making and its relationship with music is a valid perspective? Do you believe how what he says could apply to any creative effort? If you have opinions and/or insights regarding this, please share them. Also, if you have drawn, written, painted, filmed, photographed, recorded, built, or made something that came into existence because of Shriekback's influence on your imagination, I'd love to see it. If you do share something with me, be sure to let me know if I can pass it on to Barry because, as quoted above, he considers such activity to be "an implied compliment in that someone saw something in your work which they felt would enhance their own."
Tracy Angelina Evans was born on 10 September, 1967, in Asheville, North Carolina, into a small family that had more in common with the Addams Family than the Waltons. Her father was a slightly off-center Jack of all artistic trades (radio DJ, photographer, writer, journalist, singer/songwriter, comic, and Japanese commercial actor - go figure), so it was convenient that his nickname was Jack. Her mother is a first generation Hippie, who adores artistic/crafty endeavours, reading, watching horror movies, and anything to having to do with nature and the animal kingdom. Her grandparents were Big Band Jazz musicians and singers (maternal grandparental units), painters and storytellers (paternal grandmother unit), and CIA operatives (paternal grandfather unit) in what was then West Germany. She was raised by her eccentric aunt, Tudi, and paternal grandmother unit in Asheville and, later, in Duncan, SC. She began artistic pursuits at the age of 4, when her grandmother told her to go draw flies. Too young to get the joke, her first pictures were of flies. The spiders came later to eat the overpopulation of flies. Webs were really fun to draw. She began writing animals stories around the age of 7, but switched to human-centered sci-fi stories at 13, when she heard the Electric Light Orchestra's album, Time.
Language and mythology became an important part of Tracy's education at an early age, and she was fascinated with religion. Early on, she wanted to be a preacher, but was told only men could do that. Then she wanted to be a nun, going around with a towel held to her head with a plastic mixing bowl to signify her cornette, but was told only Catholics could do that. Her mother was Jewish and her father was a non-practicing Southern Baptist, so the natural progression from these lofty origins, along with the dashing of original spiritual aspirations because of denomination and gender, is for the offspring to embrace Pagan and Pantheist philosophies, which became intertwined with her sci-fi sensibilities, the music prevalent in her life, and what little she could grasp of actual science, particularly physics and psychology.
In her junior year of high school, she chose to do a research paper on anti-Utopian societies, or Dystopian worlds, using A Brave New World and 1984 as the frame work for her paper. This turned her into a conspiracy theorist and affected the general tone of her writing from then on. During this time, too, she began building a personal myth around an ancient alien race that came to Earth before the rise of humanity. Part of the process of this creation was the invention of a new language, based loosely on the Indo-European family of languages with a hint of Finno-Ugric. (How, really, did two countries so far apart from one another end up sharing a root language, anyway? Finland? Hungary? What say you?)
At the age of 19, Tracy's genuine love of music, combined with her knowledge of a wide variety of musical genres, gave her the opportunity to work in the music industry starting in 1987. She left Wofford College to pursue this career. For almost a decade, she literally (using the correct definition of the word) got paid to sit and listen to music, during which she was allowed to read, write, draw, or anything else that did not deter from her job in the quality assurance department of what was then BMG/RCA Music Service. Another nine years with the company saw her going into music promotions, which drove her clinically mad.
Her Tarmian mythology got a metaphysical shot in the arm when Tracy began studying ancient Pagan religions and dabbling in the then still fresh New Age philosophies in 1990 and going forward.
Also in 1990, she discovered what would become her favourite music band, Shriekback. They would end up having a profound effect on every aspect of her own artistic endeavours. Thanks to her entering the virtual world of the Internet in 1998, she got to eventually meet some members of the band, and help to promote them and their music since 2000. They were kind enough to allow her to use lyrics from their songs as chapter lead-ins for her books.
After the death of her aunt in 2011, Tracy moved to San Diego to be closer to her mother, taking with her, her non-human friends Smidgen (a giant cat with a partially erect furry penis for a tail) and Toby (an obnoxious deer Chihuahua who had been abandoned at the veterinary hospital for which she briefly worked as a Vet Assistant), her music, book, and DVD collections, a few clothes, and her computer.
She is quite active online, maintaining a 12-year-old blog on Live Journal, called The Cliffs of Insanity, and sharing amusing and/or infuriating bits of info and images on her Facebook page. Besides writing and devouring copious amounts of music, she enjoys drawing badly, and is trying to learn how to use an art tablet. She also loves to read, watch movies (any genre but romance), make videos for You Tube (some vids for Shriekback, some vids to share songs that might not otherwise be available, like the more obscure Celtic folk tunes of Dougie MacLean and Talitha MacKenzie, and some funny bits and bobs, like The Tim Roth Tutorials), going to drum circles on the weekend to work out her djembe and get a contact high, and enthusiastically waiting for the End of the World. Over the past few years, comedy has also become of great import to her mental health. There's a reason why we have the cliché "laughter is the best medicine."
Tracy has a strong affinity for non-human Earthlings (camelids, reptiles, birds, and mantids, in particular) and was involved in cat rescue for some time in Duncan, SC. At one point, she was seeking homes for about thirty cats she had tamed and nursed back to health, earning her the title of Crazy Cat Lady in her neighbourhood. (All the cats were re-homed.) She has worked to rehabilitate many species, including a hypoglycaemic hummingbird, a family of opossums to whom she gave epic Nordic names for no reason whatsoever, and a variety of lizards. She is in love with a planet she sees aching under the yoke of human oppression, and would do anything to see that change. She claims to be a professional misanthrope, which is most often channelled into Cadmus Pariah, but she likes you. To the best of her knowledge, her lineage includes Welsh, Scottish, English, Jewish, Dutch, Hungarian, African, and Cherokee genes, making her a class A mongrel.
After years of change and countless reassessments of her belief system, Tracy is now more comfortable with the concept of Jungian archetypes and how they are recurring themes throughout human history. As it stands at the time of this writing, she's working on a fourth Vampire book, she's still a diehard Star Wars/Star Trek sci-fi/fantasy nerd, an apostle of JRR Tolkien's and Robert Anton Wilson's, an opinionated grouch, and a constant victim of synchronicity, which tends to spread the wealth of weirdness with anyone in close proximity. She has a short list of heroes that include Jeff Lynne, Carl Jung, Barry Andrews, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Starhawk. She is also one of the 14 remaining people on Earth who dislikes Joss Whedon and that for which he stands, and has actually lost friends because of her opinion. If she had her druthers, Tracy would move to Avebury, Wiltshire, and groove on the ley lines' vibrations for the rest of her life.
She's absolutely certain that she is uncertain about everything, and that is most certainly a statement loaded with uncertainty.
At Buckingham Palace in 2006.
For some idiotic reason, I had no clue that such a thing as an author's page existed on Amazon, so I'm playing catch-up now. I've uploaded a blurb about The Chalice, which will be live in 3-5 business days, according to Amazon. My page URL is http://www.amazon.com/Tracy-Angelina-
From the Author
Even though I was doing a great deal of research and myth "redefinition", I still struggled to write anything with which I was comfortable. The main female character in the bones of The Chalice, Kelat, did not fit my idea of a proper antagonist, especially after I became involved in Goddess worship. Kelat, for me, was an ideal - a character that accepted herself for what she had become, but never lost her divine identity. She was an archetype of Kali or the Cailleach made manifest. I could not make her evil. So the story languished until 1990, when I discovered Shriekback, whose song 'Deeply Lined Up' gave me my first visions of who would become the primary antagonist in the stories, Cadmus Pariah.
Writer's Block haunted me for years, though, between 1990 and 1999, at which time I began to write Cadmus' biography, which became the chapter in The Chalice entitled 'Sui Generis'. From there, the writing and myth-making began in earnest, and produced the first book of The Vampire Relics, which was completed in 2005.
My hope is that, when someone reads The Chalice, they are inspired to do their own research on the Vampire phenomenon and its apparent presence throughout the world, despite nations and cultures having no contact with one another at the time rumours of Vampires came to the fore, and seek to learn more about cultures like that of the Romani, as well as mystery traditions practiced by Kabbalists, Gnostics, and Cathars. It would be heartening to hear of people leaving the book with more questions than answers, so that they might expand their knowledge and the realm of possibilities in this incomprehensible world. And I would also be very happy to have been instrumental in the broadening of readers' musical tastes by introducing them to artists like Shriekback, Concrete Blonde, ELO, XTC, Oingo Boingo, and composers Antonin Dvořák and Johann Sebastian Bach.
Lastly, I hope that American readers come out of The Chalice with the realisation that America has an incredible treasure of strange tales, and a newfound interest in those legends and mysteries, like that of the Roanoke Colony and Virginia Dare.
Please enjoy The Chalice and The Vampire Relics. Pass the tales on to those you love. Everyone in this book and the others in the series were written to encourage people to never turn away from the Magick contained in this crazy reality we all share because, if you imagine it or believe it, whatever you believe or imagine exists on some level, and may already be imagining you back.
Even monsters like Cadmus Pariah.
Illustration for the first Vampire story I wrote in 1987, called Vasily's Kiss.