Musings on genre writing, waterfall wandering, and peak bagging in the South’s wilderness areas.
I took this photo on Sunday. The spot where our Casita normally sits, waiting for the next adventure. Alas!
The trip that keeps popping to the forefront is the John Muir Trail in California. I reckon I’ll be sharing the trail with a fair number of other backpackers, but that’s okay. I can’t expect complete solitude on a trail like that in an area as scenic as the high Sierras.
I’m actually in a lot better shape than I have been in quite some time, so I’m not as worried about altitude sickness as in the past. In 2012 I really suffered from that when I was in Colorado and it took me about eight days to acclimate to high altitude. Since I’ve lost a lot of weight and have much better lung capacity these days, it’s not quite the concern it was in the past couple of years. But I’ll have to arrange for some days to acclimate before I begin the long trek (over 221 miles).
There are some other long distance trails that appeal to me, but many of them are here in the East and I’ve frankly just about tapped out my enthusiasm for eastern destinations. Or I could do a healthy section hike of the Pacific Crest Trail or the Continental Divide Trail…but the JMT is the one that keeps appearing in my thoughts and desires.
We’ll see. Until then, I’ll plan for that one.
|Montana. (Absaroka Mountains.)|
|Colorado. (San Juan Mountains.)|
|California. (Cottonwood Mountains.)|
For many reason I prefer bookstores and real books. I like browsing the shelves and I enjoy being able to pick up a book and leaf through it, making sure that it’s the kind of book that will satisfy me.
This past week I was in one of the few remaining bookstores in my area. Yes, it was a superstore, but there are only a few independent booksellers remaining in my city and I wasn’t near one of those. And I like Barnes & Noble bookstores anyway. I get a charge out of just being in a bookstore like that. I can pretend that publishing is not on its last legs and that the industry is dying and that soon there won’t be any bookstores.
Walking around the stacks like that I get a sense of delight. I was not alone and the place was crowded and I was not the only one in there buying books. In fact, I had to wait in line to make my purchase. The couple in front of me spent almost $200 on books. I spent $36 and my wife spent $20 and I wasn’t around to see how much the people behind me were spending. It felt good. I liked seeing that there is still a place where skilled authors can appear in print and people will stand in line to buy their work. It’s going to be sad to see that all come to an end.
|My take at the bookstore Friday night: REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi, and THIS BOOK IS FULL OF SPIDERS by David Wong.|
So, there will be a re-launch of the novel coming up. Here’s a cover version I was emailed for critique. I think the artist did a great job of capturing the feel of the book.
So…tomorrow is my day off. I get to rest my bleeding feet for a bit. But I’m not completely off the hook. I have to drive out to pick up our travel trailer and take it to the folk who service it so that they can fix the leak in the water tank and put on a new awning. We reeeeeeeeeeeeeally didn’t like camping without an awning. I thought we wouldn’t miss it that much, but we did. We decided not to replace it with the Fiamma and have opted to get a Dometic brand awning.
|Our Casita, sans awning.|
But I don’t care for these flat, uninteresting characters. There’s nothing about them that inspires me. I want some depth to the people who move through the movies I watch; even the villains need to be human.
For this reason, my two favorite movie villains both appeared in great movies in the same year, 2007.
And I’ll list them now in the order that they impress me.
First is Daniel Plainview from the absolutely brilliant Paul Thomas Anderson film, THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Plainview is just an amazing character all around. Tough, self-sufficient, driven, manipulative, intelligent, physically imposing, and utterly evil. This is a villain a person can admire. He does not whine and he does not deviate from his mission.
Plainview, as portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis, is just one of the best character studies I have ever seen on the screen. We see his strengths and his weaknesses. Why Lewis chose to do what appears to be an imitation of the voice of John Huston (or Clint Eastwood’s version of John Huston), I can’t say. But it works. It was perfect.
|The best villains are the ones who are human.|
When the film is mentioned it usually is in the context of recounting the “I drink your milkshake” scene. But that is, to my way of thinking, one of the greatest scenes of both revenge and self-destruction I’ve ever witnessed in a movie.
And so, number one on my short list of movie villains is Daniel Plainview from THERE WILL BE BLOOD.
|A smile from something that is not human.|
And the quality doesn’t get any higher than titles from the late EC Comics. At its head was William C. Gaines, whose mission it obviously must have been to publish the finest art in comics at that time. The names of the men and women he employed to work for him have become legend. So I look for EC books to add to my collection when I can find them at the right price.
So it was this week. The latest old comics to arrive as Casa Smith.
|CRIME SUSPENSTORIES #2. Back in my youth, I had an extensive EC collection. But most of those were horror and science-fiction titles. I never had many copies of this title, and most of those were later issues.|
|CRIME SUSPENSTORIES #5. A great, dramatic cover from Johnny Craig.|
|Another image of high drama from Craig. When the Silver Age rolled around, he worked for a time at Marvel Comics, mainly as an inker.|
The train cars are mostly open and you can just wander about them to see what rail travel was like back in the old days.
Later that same day we drove over into West Virginia to take a look at a town we’d been through years ago: Marlinton. They have a much smaller museum in their downtown area. Both have cabooses to view. But the ones in Clifton Forge have been completely restored, while the single caboose in Marlinton has only had the outside repainted while the interior is rather decayed. I suspect they’re waiting for funds to fix it completely for viewing.
|The little restored rail depot in Marlinton, WV. Very nice!|
|Caboose and two rail cars. Nicely restored on the outside.|
|But the interior of the caboose is a wreck.|
|It does look as if they may be starting interior restoration. It’s a nice car.|