Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Peace and Quiet

Writing. Plan to be writing constantly for the next three months or so.

My blog will suffer because of that.

Unlike some writers, I cannot tolerate noise of any kind when I'm working on my fiction. Music, machines, voices...all of that is out. I need to have some solitude (generally speaking) when I write. I have written in public spaces (libraries and restaurants), but even those were relatively quiet.

Thinking of that, I post here some photos of one of the quietest places I have ever been. It was on Unaka Mountain which is located along the spine of the Appalachians straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee (not far from Erwin TN). Even though the Appalachian Trail passes over the summit, I was lucky and managed to be there when none of the annoying crowd of AT backpackers were coming through.

Peace and quiet. I scored big that day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

West Virginia in the Snow

Carole and I haven't been back to West Virginia in over a year. We'd like to take a trip there again. These shots are from our last vacation in the state, spent principally in and around Blackwater Falls State Park. For years there has been a movement to try to create a new National Park around Blackwater Falls and the canyon there. But of course the energy and timber corporations have fought such a proposal to a standstill.

This old train station had been restored and converted into a museum. Closed the day we were there.

Deer in the Snow.

The mighty Blackwater Falls.

Heavy snowfall hit while we were at the waterfall overlook.

Pointing across the gorge at the lodge where I was staying.

Snowmelt and fresh snow had created enormous water volume for the falls.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Western Elk, Eastern Elk

Two photos. Each of an elk. The first photo was taken in September of this year at Rocky Mountain National Park during the rut. The second photo was taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just after the rut in late October of 2011.

Other than slight variations s in the shade of their coats, I cannot see any difference between the animals. It could be that the Rocky Mountain elk was a tad heavier than the eastern counterpart, but it's hard to say. I was farther away from the one in Rocky Mountain National Park than I was from the bull I saw in the Smokies.

And of the two, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park individual seems to have the greater rack size.

The nicest thing, though, is that we have these great animals here in the Southeast again. I never really thought I'd see it happen.

Bull elk in Rocky Mountain National Park late last month.

Bull elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park last October.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why (Some of) Ditko's Underlying Philosophy Appeals to Me

Most of the underlying philosophy of Steve Ditko's work is, to me, abhorrent. I interpret it as nothing more than a form of Fascism. That point has been argued artfully by many and more eloquently than I could argue, so I leave that as self evident.

However, there is something almost hideously attractive about parts of Ditko's message. I would struggle to wonder just what it was. Because while I found myself drawn to the stories and that message, I was always repelled by the totality of it. What is there that keeps me coming back?

And, finally, I realized that it's Ditko's interpretation of the world at large as being either black, or white. That is, one can make choices that--for all practical and philosophical reasons--are either good, or evil.

To an extent, I do like that reasoning.

When one is going to argue a point or be swayed by an argument, there is a right and a wrong. I do believe that. So Ditko's persuasion that to be on the wrong side is bad and the right side is good appeals to me. My parting of ways with Ditko and his company of Ayn Rand slaves is that I think that he is solidly on the wrong side. That is, I find his arguments and conclusions to be evil rather than good.

In the sub-culture defined by comic book fans, Ditko has attracted the neo-Fascist crowd who look to him almost as a kind of messianic figure who stands in these days for the departed Ayn Rand. I find these people--absolutely without exception--to be an execrable lot. So I doubly owe Mr. Ditko a debt of gratitude for giving these sorry excuses for quasi-humanity a central place to gather. It's always good to know the bad guys are huddled in one poisonous spot.

I've written briefly before of the few bits of Ditko's form of logic that I do find worthwhile, so I won't belabor those strands again. For now I choose to acknowledge that Ditko's characters do appeal to me for their take on the basic ideas of good and evil. The irony being, of course, that I find Steve Ditko and his fans to be on the very wrong side of the good/evil equation.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fall Colors Colorado and Fall Colors Carolina:

Some contrasts in the Autumn colors I witnessed late last month in Colorado and late this month here in North Carolina:

As you can see, in Colorado the Fall colors come principally from one tree: The aspen. While here in North Carolina the range of deciduous trees is vast and the colors come from literally hundreds of species.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Recent Additions

Here are some recent additions to my comic book collection. Been heading into some non-Silver Age stuff because I've been able to nab some good deals.

I have been after this book for ages! You can see why Disney hand-picked Carl Barks to be in charge of the comic book versions of his Ducks. Barks had some strange quirks in his style and the way he portrayed supporting characters, but his grasp of anatomy and brilliant story-telling ability made him the single greatest Disney comic book artist.

Four Color #456. It's actually Uncle Scrooge #2. Of all of Barks' creations, Scrooge is one of the finest and most realized of his characters. Every American kid admired capitalist bastards, and Scrooge was one of the best. A flinty old curmudgeon but with just the barest glint of a human heart under that greedy exterior.

I loved these Little Lulu comics when I was a kid. And the best of them were the Dell Giants, and the best of these were the ones with Halloween themes.

I'm slowly completing my Strange Tales collection. I don't need a whole lot more of them, and I have the hardest to find issues already. Just filling in the gaps at this point.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Some Video

Some video images that I shot of the cascades and falls that I encountered on Sunday. (In order of when I encountered them on the trail.)

Small cascade along the trail.

Middle Falls.

Lower Falls.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Two Waterfalls

The only major waterfalls that I had not visited in Stone Mountain State Park were the Middle and Lower Falls. I had very briefly hiked down to the Middle Falls some years ago, but I didn't have time to really take a good look at it.

On Sunday, I hiked down to both falls so that I could say that I've seen all of the big waterfalls in the park and to hike the last bit of trail there that I hadn't seen.

One thing that was nice is that once I took a left turn off of the main Stone Mountain Loop Trail, the crowds of people completely vanished. In fact, I didn't see another person the whole time I was at both waterfalls!

This is a small cascade on the Stone Mountain Loop Trail. I almost always stop here for a while when I'm hiking that trail.

Wide trail leading to the two waterfalls.

Middle Falls. Like almost all of the waterfalls in the park, this one was more of a sloping cascade than a vertical drop.

At Middle Falls. It was a pain to get to the base of the falls.

A carpeting of blazing leaf color.

The Lower Falls.

View on the way back.

Fall colors in the picnic area.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Two Waterfalls

I have visited Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina more times than I care to recall. It's a very nice park. Large, with lots of great forests, trails, and wonderful scenery. However, it's also a very heavily visited park so that on holidays and weekends there is no way at all that you can find any solitude. On such days the park is just much too crowded for that.

This was the case when we arrived in the park on Sunday for a picnic and hike.

Things were okay when we first got there. The park already had a lot of visitors before lunchtime, but we had no trouble at all landing a decent picnic table and grill. Soon after, though, huge numbers of visitors arrived and the park became quite the traffic jam. Any chance of viewing wildlife was gone. Normally you can see lots of white tailed deer in the park, but there were so many people around that even the deer retreated to the farthest reaches of the forest. Bird life took wing and went elsewhere, and even the squirrels found refuge in the trees, away from the babbling humans.

When Carole plans a picnic, there's a theme to it. This one was, of course, Halloween. Special tablecloth, orange cups, etc. She plans even the simplest things!

Whoa! Look at the flames!

Falls colors seemed to be at their peak.

Park picnic shelter.

Me and Carole and Faye sit down for lunch before I go hiking.

At the top of Stone Mountain Falls (aka Upper Falls). This one is always crowded on holidays and weekends because you can get to the top of the falls with minimal physical effort.

The stairs leading down. Hundreds of them. The lard-asses tend to stop here.

More details about the hike tomorrow...