More Happy Cthulhu!

There’s a kind of sick joy in painting Happy Cthulhu. I sort of want to paint Happy Shub-Niggurath and Happy Deep Ones now. (Most of the others, alas, do not happy well. How one makes the blind idiot chaos at the heart of creation happy is unknowable, and I can’t even find the mouth on congeries of pale glowing orbs of frothing nuclear slime…)

Clean as a wet shoggoth!

The soaps will indeed be available through Ellen Million at some point…

Say, if you were part of the book cull, and have not yet gotten a shipping quote, can you e-mail me (and include your LJ handle)? I’ve finally got quotes for all the books now,  but I’m starting to founder on who all has gotten them, since the LJ handles don’t always align with the e-mail names. Everything that’s been paid for has been mailed out, but there’s still some here that need to get sent…

I’m at ursulav (at) metalandmagic.com

Well, I just had some of the most horrible fifteen seconds of my adult life.

I was bringing Ben back from the vet, and had lugged the carrier halfway up the steps to my apartment–and the handle of the carrier broke off in my hand.

The carrier, cat inside, hit the stairs, rolled over, and bounced down half a flight of steps before coming to land, upside down, on the ground.

My stomach did about the same thing.

Now, he appears to be fine. (The same cannot be said of my nerves.) The carrier was thickly padded with a towel and there wasn’t much space to rattle around in. He’s not limping, dazed, bleeding, mewing, or displaying any signs of pain whatsoever, and while he’s had a long day at the vet and isn’t quite in the mood for a complete going over, doesn’t appear tender anywhere in the usual petting zones. He’s putting his full weight on all four legs and jumps easily, and doesn’t seem to be cleaning any part of his body more than usual.

I’ll watch him like a hawk for the next few days–if he shows any signs of any stiffness, I’ll have him back in there like a shot.

And now I need a very stiff drink, and to go take a blowtorch to that motherfucking cat carrier.

It’s an odd thing to say, but man. Divorce is easy.

The legal bits of it, anyway.

James and I saw an attorney, and it was really quite astonishingly painless. He suggested that we didn’t even need any of the really complicated bits–all of our main issues could be much more cheaply and easily resolved by just refinancing the house and transferring a credit card balance before we file, saving a lot of cash and paperwork for everybody.

Being inundated with tales of divorce horror, frothing ex-spouses, cataclysmic legal fees and all the rest, this has very easy and very painless by all accounts. No kids, no pensions, and generally mellow outlooks help.

Which is nice. The emotional bits are hard enough, without piling all kinda legal crap on top of it.

So lately, I’ve been listening to this CD from Hazmat Modine a lot.

I am at a loss to describe what kind of music it is. One of the Amazon reviews calls it a little like “Tom Waits meets Squirrel Nut Zippers,” which is about half right, but there’s a lot of other weirdness going on, and the fact that I know very little about music and do not have the vocabulary to describe what I’m hearing is working against me. I think they’re classed as “world music” but that phrase conjures up the desperate back alley of the music store where Celtic harp music goes to die, and polka CDs breed under the shelves, so I’m leery of the term. Is there a better term? I mean, stuff like this really doesn’t belong wedged under 1001 Spanish Guitar Solos With Antonio The Crooning Chicken.*

Anyway, there’s Tuvan throat-singing.

I heard this band on some strange variant of NPR, fairly late, driving through like West Virginia, where they had dispensed with the usual NPR fare and were playing really really weird blues. Which this may also qualify as. I have heard no reference to them anywhere else, and am vaguely wondering if the NPR show may have been their big break or something, (and the Amazon reviews seem to confirm it!) so I’m spreadin’ the word.

So I recommend their CD “Bahumet,” quite a lot. The first three tracks are fanatastic, particularly the third one.

Hazmat Modine

*Yes, I probably would buy that. That’s not the point!

Dad and El Gordo

Okay, I promised to tell the story of my father and El Gordo, and so I shall, because all I’ve been posting lately is auctions and moving stuff, and it’s time for something that’s actually FUN.

Way back in the late eighties, early nineties, my father had a ranch in the hills south of San Diego.

He did not ranch sheep. Or goats. Or pigs. No, nor cattle, nor llamas, nor bison nor ostrich.*

He ranched rats.

(Man, y’ever notice how your childhood sounds way weirder when you try to explain it to people?)

He got into it the natural way–he liked snakes.

See, like many people who like snakes, he had a snake, and then he had a few more snakes, and then he had rats to feed the snakes, and then the rats made more rats, and as inevitably happens, the rats breed faster than the snakes eat, and you sell ’em back to pet stores, and suddenly you’re a small business owner.

(He actually did very good work with boa constrictors, and was the boa rescue guy for a good chunk of Southern California for a few years. Snake rescue is a tough field that doesn’t get nearly enough love, because while there are many fewer boa constrictors that need homes than, say, kittens, there are also exponentially fewer people who will give them homes. And there’s serious care involved–few things will require the highly specialized care that a twenty-foot long, badly neglected constrictor will need, and very, very few people able or willing to provide it. Dad also did “Snakes Are Our Friends” presentations at schools when I was a kid, which culminated in another funny story with a lost snake at my elementary school, but that’s one for another day.)

So one thing led to another with the rats, and eventually he had something like three thousand rats in hundreds of aquariums in a large barn, multiple hired hands, and was supplying pet stores and such throughout the region.

My first jobs were all feeding and watering rats and cleaning rat cages, which, now that I suddenly and belated put two and two together, is probably the reason that I paint mice and rats more than anything else. Huh. Interesting. (Despite the fact that few of the rats were socialized to humans, for obvious reasons, I was never bitten by a rat at any time. They’re great little animals, and if you treat ’em well, as these were, they tended to be very pleasant. Mice, now…mice nipped me quite a bit. Mice are jerks.)

Now, when you have that many rats, some of them are going to get out. This is inevitable. Dad would put out live traps for the strays, catch them, and return them to their ratty homes.

So one day, it’s late in the evening, he’s wrapping up the last of the business, and goes around to check the traps. He finds one that’s sprung, picks it up, and goes “Oof!”

His employee, who’s name has escaped me, turns to see what the problem is

“El Gordo!” says my father, hefting the cage. (In Spanish “fat one” or something similar.)

Said employee lifts both hands like a man at the wrong end of an AK-47 and backs away.

With a rising feeling of dread, Dad lifts the live trap, and looks…directly into the beady black eyes of a very pissed off skunk.

He says that he said “Oh, no….” but I will guess that there might have been some other words not suitable for publication.

Now at this point, he was sunk. My father loves animals with the practical love of someone who actually works with them, and although he might shoot a skunk if it were caught in the act of raiding the henhouse, he would never do anything like that with a skunk in a trap. That’s just not cool. It couldn’t get him in the trap, but he couldn’t leave it there. He had to release the skunk, and fairly quickly, before it got too stressed out and did something horrible.

In fairness, however, it looked less stressed than very, very angry.

He placed the trap in the middle of the gravel parking lot, well away from human habitation, and studied the problem from all angles, but there was really no help for it. He had to open the trap and let the skunk out, and because of the kind of trap it was, with a door on a spring, he had to hold the door open for it.

Unnamed employee had fled the scene, as anyone in their right mind would.

He set the trap down, got a stick, took a deep breath, and flipped the trap open, holding it up so that the skunk could emerge.

The skunk came out. Dad dropped the stick, took one step, and the skunk whipped around and nailed him directly in the chest, at point blank range.

It is hot in Southern California. He wasn’t wearing a shirt.

And so, arms spread wide, smelling like the hind end of hell, intoning “Clear the shower…clear the shower…” in the lifeless monotone of the damned, he staggered up the hillside into the house, where all residents had clear warning of his approach and fled before him.

My father, to this day, is an animal lover, despite extreme provocation. He’s no longer in the rat business.

*He did have a couple of pigs and some pygmy goats and a cow or two, at varying stages, but that wasn’ t his main business.

The first round of auctions for unfinished art have ended, and wow! Thank you so much, guys! You rock! (Have I mentioned lately how lucky I am?)

Here’s another five. These’ll probably be the last before Anthrocon, but I’ll have more when I get back, including some of the bigger stuff that’s hard to scan.

Unfinished Angry Kiwi
Unfinished Crone with Pear
Unfinished Goblin Warlock
Hamster Sketch
Unfinished Woman with Puppet Napoleon

One nice thing about digging up all this unfinished art–I’ve actually found at least one piece from last year that I may go ahead and take a stab at actually finishing. It was nearly done, it was looking good, I just ran out of steam…but the panic of Anthrocon may yet inspire me!

Livin’ Ikea Loca

So I spoke to my mechanic, and his opinion was that if I was moving to Kansas or Nebraska, the Altima would do fine, it’s a tough little car, but asking it to haul a loaded trailer over the Rockies would be an act of automotive cruelty.

Furthermore, it occurs to me that while renting a truck or a pod or anything else is not a business expense, buying office furniture once I’m out in San Jose will be…as will shipping my  art supplies and equipment. So at the end of the day it comes down to $2K+ that I don’t get to write off, vs $1K+ that I largely do. And that’s a good thing. (This year, that’ll be a VERY good thing…Ursula may find herself in entirely the wrong tax bracket after the book advance, and Uncle Sam is unlikely to care that I used it to pay off student loans, credit cards, cat bladders and get a divorce with, and am not exactly livin’ the life ‘o Riley. Half my advance is going straight to prepay taxes as it is…Kids, remember this–if you ever become successful as an artist, remember to allow for taxes.)

So to heck with it. I’m mailing everything I need, storing everything I don’t need, and hitting Ikea once I’m out there. And that’s a good enough plan for one year.

Having finally–finally!–figured out what I’m doing, I feel much more relaxed. Living Swedish pre-fab minimalist for a year is probably good for the soul or something. The thing I’ll miss most is my art–(not stuff I’ve done, but stuff I own.) I have waaaaay too much of it. A couple of standard-sized prints can be de-framed, tubed, and re-framed on the far side much more cheaply than they could be shipped, but most of it will have to stay here.

I’m taking most of the masks, though. Art is art, but I’d feel weird without the Barong staring at me. And while Ben is great for ninjas, if you’re trying to ward off evil spirits, you can’t beat the Barong.