Saturday, November 28, 2015

Old Photos

One thing I love about digital technology has been the ability to take tremendous numbers of photographs that I can conveniently save on external hard drives to retrieve at some future date. This means that I can take thousands of photos that, when I used 35mm film, I had to be very careful about the shots I chose and took.

Today I was going through the files and stumbled upon a brief mountain trip Carole and I took that I had almost forgotten about. We went up to Lake Lure and Hickorty Nut Gorge to visit a friend of Carole's who lived there (at that time--she has since moved). We spent the night in their cabin and then drove up to Mount Mitchell and North Carolina's true high country. Then we made a leisurely drive back home.

I've actually been having a good time digging through old photo files. I'm sure I'll find other stuff of interest as I excavate the memories.

Taken from the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern USA. View looking toward Mount Craig, the second highest summit in the eastern US (and a mountain I prefer as it's undeveloped and I don't bump into many people over there. Also, it has a natural cliff face with phenomenal views.)

Craggy Dome. We missed the rhododendron display.

Some non-native Tiger lillies on Craggy Dome.

It was getting late as I descended Craggy Dome.

Down in Hickory Nut Gorge. If you've seen the Michael Mann film LAST OF THE MOHICANS then you have seen these cliffs. In the center of the photo is Hickory Nut Falls which is where Magua (Wes Studi) and Chingachook (Russell Means) fight to the death.

Down in the bottom of the gorge where the little town sits. I like it there, but it has become popular with the motorcycle crowd, so if you go at the wrong time you will be surrounded by bikes and their overbearing noise.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Normally I don't buy extra copies of books that I already have in my collection. However, sometimes I will if two qualities present themselves: a very low price and nicer condition than what I already own. These two things came together this week when I happened upon a copy of MYSTERIOUS SUSPENSE #1 from Charlton Comics.

I got this book for obvious reasons. It features stories created by, written by, illustrated by, and inked by Steve Ditko. Here we see The Question, one of his creations that has been almost as long-lived as either Spider-Man or Dr. Strange. He created The Question after he walked away from Marvel Comics and was making his living away from the thieving influence of Stan Lee and Martin Goodman.

I'm not sure who did the dialog in this book, but it's credited to "D.C. Glanzman" who was, apparently, a real person, but it has also been said that Ditko would sometimes use the name when doing his own dialog. As with most of Ditko's work, the dogma is laid on pretty thick. So I suspect that the words in those balloons are at least 50% Ditko...perhaps 100%. It's certainly a lot different from the silly dialog that was present in Spider-Man, so my suspicion is that someone was following Ditko's notes closely--if it wasn't Ditko himself. When I was younger I thought that Lee had rewritten Ditko's dialog on Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. But these days I suspect that the dialog was mainly written by many of the pulp writers who were in the building working on Goodman's various pulp titles.

At any rate, I picked up a better-than-fine copy of the book. It may go permanently into my collection, or perhaps I'll sell it later and keep the lesser condition book.

A nicer condition copy of MYSTERIOUS SUSPENSE #1, featuring THE QUESTION, created by Steve Ditko, plotted by Steve Ditko, penciled and inked by Steve Ditko. (But, alas, copyright by DC Comics.)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Some Have Names

Whenever I'm camping, hiking, backpacking, or kayaking I encounter animals. Sometimes many animals. And every once in a while a local will point out a specific critter and tell me that it has a name.

Just such an animal was an alligator we encountered on the St. John's River near Blue Spring State Park in Florida. We had been kayaking on the river and a ranger told me about an alligator named "Tick". His name was Tick because he had a round, bloated appearance like a tick that has been feasting on blood.

The reason for his unusual shape was that he was struck by the blades of a speedboat blazing down the river. The blades cut into his back and 'cracked' the layer of skin and dermal scutes that protect him from harm. He recovered from the immediate effects of the encounter, but air leaked into his body and he quite actually partially puffed up like a balloon. The air had no way to escape once the injury healed over.

Now, alligators are largely ambush predators. So this would be something of a problem since his back is like a big ball that breaks the surface before his eyes do. But the ranger assured me that Tick was doing fine and had been around for years, and would likely be around for many more years.

Unless, of course, he encounters the spinning blade of another speedboat.

"I'm gone sneak up on you!" Not. If you look closely you can see the "crack" that allowed air into his body before the wound healed.

A youngster we saw very close. might even be the progeny of Tick!

"Well, I'm gone sneak up on somebuddy else, then!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Good Grief.

It occurs to me that I have been doing the same job that Lewis Black does for decades. But instead of paying me for doing it, people generally just hate me for it. I reckon I should smile when I rip folk their new asshole. Maybe that will help.

Stairway to Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Dammit! Pay me for this stuff!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I initially posted this update because I had a faulty notice that WITHERING was on sale. However, on checking again I see that it is NOT on sale but is listed at its regular $2.99 price. My apologies.

Still a bargain, though!  Read the story of the village of Woodvine, Georgia where a prehistoric creature stalks the dying town in rural south Georgia. Grab your copy now!

The creature as I always saw it.

Grab yer copy now!

Withering! By me!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thinking of the High Country.

The past couple of weeks I have been having very vivid recurring dreams wherein I am either camping or backpacking. Beautiful, wonderful, colorful dreams. This tends to happen when I am feeling particularly homesick for my southern Appalachians. I travel around to wild places all over the United States, but my native southern highlands remain my favorite. Yes, there are things elsewhere that I grudgingly admit are not available here in our mountains...but then we have scenery that cannot be witnessed in those more extreme locales.

And, part of it, I have to admit, is that I grew up with these summits and they are ingrained into my psyche. Yes, I love my mountains.

If I can, the next place I will go to camp will be either the area around Shining Rock Wilderness, or deep in the Black Mountains. The Black Mountains are still my favorite hiking destination, so maybe that's where I'll go when I can.

When I go to the area around Cold Mountain, I tend to head over the Middle Prong Wilderness. This is because it's not as popular as Shining Rock even though they are separated only by a road. When Shining Rock is packed with people, Middle Prong remains silent and abandoned.

This is a spot I have been eyeing for years as a campsite above Deep Gap on the Black Mountain Crest Trail. Located at about 6,600 feet, it would be one of the highest campsites in the eastern USA.

The campsite just mentioned is located on the third peak visible in this photo. On my favorite NC hiking trail.

Near the Shining Rock Wilderness, but not in it.
Point Misery, in the Black Mountains.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

THE LIVING END: A Zombie Novel.

I haven't posted a promo for this book in a while. This was my first zombie novel. I wanted to play with some of the mythology first developed by John Russo and George Romero. Now there is a truly monstrous flood of zombie novels. The sub-genre seems to be more popular now than vampire fiction was back in the 90s. The racist gun-porn crowd who seem to be attracted to the zombie scene in huge numbers had issues with the book. But the sales were good and the response from the folk who aren't neo-Nazis was positive.

THE LIVING END by James Robert Smith.