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The Web Page Proper
Well, I'm a month late welcoming the new year, with its new promise! I'm afraid my long gaps between updatings will continue in this trend, not because I'm growing bored with the Web (I see that in the last few entries of sites that haven't been updated in literally years), but because I'm trying to have more of a life -- to say nothing of a writing career. I may have to put a scorecard of mailings and rejections (and even acceptances) online, not because I think people are dying to see how I'm doing, but to spur myself on (if I slow down, potentially everyone on the planet could learn about it!).
(Later:) I just received a hand-written note from SF/fantasy writer Andre Norton. This astounded me, because she is approaching her 93rd year, and the most I've heard from her for the past decade is the occasional Easter or Christmas card. Sad to say, after one more novel due out in April from TOR, it sounds like there'll be no more tales from that staid storyteller.
"When you can't do it anymore, it's time to rest. Stop writing books and read them . . . You've come to the bottom of the hill. Maybe there'll be a soft place to sit." -- Manly Wade Wellman, 1975
Andre has written more books and stories than most people will probably ever read -- 200+ volumes. I hope she's found a soft place to sit for a while. She's earned it.
Those DVD boxed sets are expensive, but what can you do? When I saw the original 26 episodes of Jonny Quest on the shelf, I had to get them! For that matter, I had to grab Land of the Lost, Season One, and even Night Gallery was better than I remembered.
This brought to mind a number of anniversaries I have to acknowledge somehow. Thirty years ago, on September 13, Kolchak: the Night Stalker premiered on ABC. The bizarre Saturday morning show Land of the Lost launched the 7th of September the same year (1974). September 18 of this year marks the 40th anniversary of Jonny Quest.
There's so little on TV I want to see, I essentially launched my own "TV season." Every Saturday I'll watch JQ, LotL, and a couple other DVD or video shows. Saturday Night I try to recapture the flavor of the old "Fantastic Theater" show I recall from the 'sixties, which featured Hammer films, Toho films, and every 1950s SF movie!
Sunday night hereabouts, starting about 1980, they showed The Prisoner, Secret Agent, or The Avengers. And Tuesday in the 1960s meant Red Skelton on TV, so I've rounded up several Skelton collections. I'll watch one a week of each program, just like olden times . . .
In this age of instant gratification, it's difficult to sit still when magazines -- and even e-zines -- take six, seven, eight months to decide to accept or reject (usually the latter) a story. I've sent out about all I can send out. So: guess I'll polish up my novel, query agents, and -- just a bit -- add to the ol' web-page over the next few weeks.
One of the most amusing pages (for me) is "Monsters You Never Heard Of". I've read enough obscure books and articles to create another article or two. They'll be up soon.
I might have something interesting to add to my smallest page, dedicated to a single novel, Whitley Strieber's The Wild. I thought I had more news, but it was a bit of a fake-out: Kiefer Sutherland revealed on The Tonight Show that he was going to provide a voice for a new Disney film called The Wild. From what little I've learned, this film is to be about a lion raised in Central Park Zoo accidentally shipped to Africa and released into the jungle. Not an adaptation of the lycanthropic book, after all!
Well, I've churned out quite a bit over the winter, with more to come. There has been a definite change in my thinking: Now I think of writing as an actual career, hopefully a money-making one. Web-page work and fannish pastiches are not a waste of time, exactly, but -- less productive. When I'm an established writer, maybe I can afford the time to do such things.
I'm not the life of the party, I'm afraid. I'll bounce off the walls when I find the perfect book, article, or web-site to help me finish a story . . . I'll finish reading a novel and swell with pride at the accomplishment, like I've discovered a new continent . . . I'll clean part of my apartment and make an actual study-area with a nice reading-lamp -- but when people ask me what I've done during the week, that all sounds incredibly boring. Sometimes even I'm bamboozled into thinking my life is boring.
It probably stems from my teen years, when my parents wanted me to "do" things, and, of course, reading or writing didn't count. If I'd read War and Peace, that didn't count as "doing" something. If I'd WRITTEN War and Peace that wouldn't count, either. Pulling weeds out of the flowerbeds -- that would be something.
But what could be more exciting than digging through century-old magazines and books and finding strange stories, weird reports, and old anecdotes of ghost, monsters, and Fortean phenomena? Learning that ancient cultures actually had legends of "Gates", a la the typical fantasy novel door-to-another-dimension? Finding legends from across the globe that seem to describe the same fantastic characters, like the Wandering Immortal, the Pied Piper, and the Lady of the Beasts?
What could be more exciting? Having them appear in tales of fantasy and adventure, of course! So off I go to write again!
THE GREAT SLOW-DOWN
I hate to say it, but I'll probably be devoting even less time to Fiction and Reality in the future. (It's been over a month since I've done anything as it is!)
For reasons I'd rather not go into, I've been stung or challenged or insulted (hard to choose the right word) into becoming a successful, professional writer. Despite various problems, I've sent 9 stories out to assorted publications in the past few weeks -- compared to all of 2001, when I sent only 8 out the whole year! (Another long story I'd rather not go into.) Working on "real" stories, especially at my new Successful Writer pace, means less time for fun on the Internet.
Also, my father had a triple bypass a week ago, and it's been quite a week. I am aware that this type of surgery is almost routine nowadays, but it can be incredibly draining on the personal level. I suspect I'll be spending a lot more time at my parents' house, working on chores and seeing how the old guy is doing. He is definitely a handful. So even less time for the web-page.
Maybe if I was just goofing around on the 'net -- but I take the articles and reviews on Fiction and Reality seriously; almost as if they were for professional publications (with pay). Something had to give.
I can't give it up completely, though. It's habit-forming. I just have to come up with more Eyries, book reviews, and perhaps a Monster or two You've Never Heard of. They'll be trickling in over the months ahead.
For example: In the Story Nexus, just to show I still have a sense of humor, you'll find a hilarious tale of Jay Ward's Rocky and Bullwinkle: Bullwinkle's Mythology!
And just in time for Halloween, a story of Manly Wade Wellman's John the Balladeer: Away Down the Road a Piece!
The other day I was thinking about "my usual luck" hitting me when something mildly untoward happened. Then it struck me: I usually have amazingly good luck. I just mindlessly repeat the mantras of the various Murphy's Laws and convince myself that such-and-such always happens if I do so-and-so. In fact, things often go my way -- if I can stir myself long enough to make anything happen.
For instance: A few years back I drove all over the state looking for settings for a novel. At one point I was 200 miles from home, without a cell phone, with few signs of civilization (and the ones I did see were closed on Sunday). I drove home, and the next day, my gear box fell apart. Which means you can stomp on the gas all day, you aren't going anywhere. Even going uphill, I coasted smoothly into a parking space in an Arby's and called from said eatery for help. I don't know what I would have done away out in the middle of nowhere!
This March I made a 400 mile trip to Kansas. I drove home in a heavy storm, angry that my window wouldn't close all the way. The next day, I drove out for groceries -- and the gear box busted (it was a different car, this time). Again I coasted smoothly into a side street and walked to a Quik-Trip. I wouldn't want to have towed the thing 400 miles!
Only last week I drove my latest (and I think oldest) car all over town. I got home -- I was, in fact, turning into my carport -- and a godawful screeching came from the steering column. The next morning "power steering oil" was all over the concrete -- the casing had cracked, and I could barely fight it to the nearest Green Light to by more fluid -- which poured out on the way to a shop. I hate to think what would have happened were I miles across the city when the crisis hit -- and it hit like lightning.
Even when looking at a pigeon on the roof, I thought about how birds always "aim" for you. But I reviewed my whole life, and I could think of only one instance of a bird hitting me. Even that was funny, even at the time. I was on my bike, and a passing pigeon gave me a stripe over my right shoulder. I could see it by twisting my head. It was the perfect opportunity to snarl "Swine bird!" like Inspector Clouseau. And I did.
I'm going to stop applying Murphy to everything, because I make myself think my day has been crappy when it has been in fact quite good -- at least average. Maybe then I can see what life is really like.
A nice, general heading -- good for a few months!
Time for the Spring edition of the New, Improved Eyrie! Read about the terrible Piasa, the not-so-terrible Griphosaurus, and the Zen Gryphon (that isn't there). And -- are Gryphons cursed?! I'm beginning to think so!
I keep promising things, like interesting new links; about time I delivered some. Well! When I was a little kid, I wasn't really up on the concept of heroes. Sure, I wanted the Good Guys to win in comics and on TV, but there was no real person I looked up to. In retrospect, however, there might have been one exception, in the form of the paleontologist/adventurer Roy Chapman Andrews. (Besides, he hunted for dinosaur bones!) Find out about this real-life Indiana Jones at the Roy Chapman Andrews Society.
There was another person who always fascinated me: A woman whose unknown fate is as intriguing as her achievements in life, Amelia Earhart. (By the way, if anyone asks you who was the second person to fly the Atlantic solo, it was AE -- five years to the day after Lindbergh.)
I've written quite a bit about the nortorious Jack the Ripper as he has been used in fiction. Since so much misinformation and disinformation exists about the world's most notorious serial killer, I felt obligated to devote space to the real thing in Ripper's Corner.
All right, the new computer is up and running. I'm getting stories out quicker, and soon I should have a novel or two ready.
First up, though, is a new gryphon newsletter, The Eyrie 3:1. How do we get from gryphons to Hitchcock and Cary Grant? click on and find out!
CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION UPDATE
Yes, you're supposed to update your site once a month or they'll get you. What do you expect for free? A combination of finances, new equipment (that doesn't always work), and illness have slowed me down, but it all feels like a gestation period, somehow -- a time in the chrysalis before I burst forth on the world.
In the meantime, I've written a long commentary called Built Up Logically, about the "secondary world" of the gryphons. I've written about these mythical beasts often enough in the New, Improved Eyrie, and I was sure that a whole fantastic world lay hidden in the pages of J. D. P. Bolton's Aristeas of Proconnesus, an incredibly dry academic tome, but basically the gryphon book. My own comments are a bit dry, but I think the Other World is taking shape . . .
This is just a note to tell everybody I haven't forgotten "Fiction and Reality." The old computer's on its last legs. Time to upgrade. Heck, time to get a whole new PC! Windows 95 just can't cut it any more, and I don't have memory enought to upgrade this Frankensteinishly thrown-together PC from the local computer guru's back bedroom. I suspect this will happen within the next few days -- perhaps before Christmas, though I'm sure there'll be big sales afterwards.
Then -- watch out! I'm definitely going to get links to more sites, and I'm definitely bringing out more book reviews. If I'm not back before the 25th -- Merry Christmas!
Just a quick note here: the latest New, Improved Eyrie is up! Read about the Official Beast of the City of London and -- Gryph-Zilla?!?!
Just barely in time for Halloween, I added a few items to the ol' web-page.
Read a True Tale of Horror (sort of): "The Plastic Blob!". Curious entries like "The Radiant Boy" and "The Wazooey Man" join the menagerie called Monsters You Never Heard Of. I also examine a few weird "flying creature" reports from the year 1922, and some synchronicities having to do with the number "22", in Twenty-Two Skiddoo.
Boy, summer passed away quick.
Last week something happened that hasn't happened before in the history of the world: I actually cinched my belt up an extra notch! That's because a month ago something else happened that never happened before: On the bathroom scales -- the little wheel -- it went all the way around!!! That made me mad enough to swear off donuts, Little Debbies, Fritos, and other gooey, fattening snacks, and exercise more as well. How long will the new trend last? Only time will tell.
Sunday I spent at Oklahoma State University. I had a raging stomach ache all day (suffice to say I'm definitely lactose intolerant now); I walked so far on campus and in the library that I about exhausted myself; I got a headache looking at old, dusty tomes, and I got frustrated when the microfilm machines wouldn't do what I wanted.
I loved it!
I copied an intriguing article about medieval merchants and greengrocers; I found information about the so-called West Ham Vanishings of the 1880s and '90s; I read a long chapter in Visions and Apparitions in the West of Ireland; I found some sources of Charles Fort's weird stories in science journals of the 1880s; and I read an article in Harper's Weekly, September 29, 1906, about crossing New Jersey by motorcar. In case you ever wondered, license plates in Pennsylvania in 1906 were a bright, shiny blue.
All of the above, potentially, will contribute to future stories -- why else do you think I look it up? It reminds me of the Glory Days at OSU, when I spent endless hours looking up stuff in the Edmond Low Library. Now, if I can just get my MLS and WORK there!
That's a nice broad title. I could add updates here for months.
AUGUST: I watched the old SF film X -- The Unknown a couple of years ago and saw bits that had to have inspired Monty Python's Flying Circus. When people are shown facing the camera (and the radioactive blob from the earth's core), they scream and sink out of view (melted by the monster). If you ever see the movie, be sure to yell, "AAAH! The Blancmange!" at these parts -- referring, of course, to the "Blancmanges of Andromeda" in the "Science Fiction Sketch." Another scene, of a solder being lowered into a fissure in the earth's crust reminds me of a scene in which some stuffy British Secretary for something-or-other falls through the earth's crust. . .
I bought a video of Hammer Film's The Lost Continent, which came out only a year or two before the first season of MPFC. The video contains the original theater previews, and the previews alone seem to be the major inspiration for "Scott of the Antarctic," with the bizarre Sargasso Sea monsters menacing the beautiful women aboard the stranded ship. The slobbering, blocky giant crab is a dead-ringer for the Man-Eating Roll-Top Writing Desk.
There is another major influence in the movie: The ship gets trapped in the Sargasso Sea, the crew sees funky monsters and man-eating sea-weed, and at the center of this unearthly realm, what do they find? THE SPANISH INQUISITION!
And only a couple of weeks ago I found any number of Pythonic influences in a single episode of The Avengers, an early one featuring Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale, entitled "The Little Wonders." It's about an organization of criminals who masquerade as priests. A padre caught at an airport with guns, knives, secret compartments in his luggage and stolen pearls in his clerical collar reminded me of Eric Idle as a priest trying to smuggle cuckoo clocks in MPFC. A thug in a "doll hospital" looks exactly like Michael Palin's Mr. Liugi Vercotti, down to the wrap-around sunglasses and ever-present cigarette. And the muscular, scarred, thug-like ministers are very reminiscent of the ones seen in "The Bishop," and indeed one fellow is called simply "Da Bishop" throughout the episode.
The above doesn't have anything to do with anything, really, but it seemed amusing. Well, so far this month I've uploaded a new Eyrie. In the real world I've been working on an ever-increasing number of legitimate stories; they may sell, who knows? I'll add more thingum-bobs, soon, though, so stay tuned.
JULY: I clicked on a "Kolchak" link on Win Scott Eckert's Wold-Newton Universe site and found -- my Kolchak page! Looks like I have to expand it so people will have a better idea who and what Carl Kolchak is!
That is, if I can. I've been having trouble uploading files -- and just saving alterations -- for a couple of weeks now. Is it a Geocities problem, or is my PC goofing up? Perhaps it's a sign I should work on real manuscripts for actual publication. I now have a perfect, clean work space. I dug all the junk out of my little computer room, and once I cleared out the room, I could hardly move through the rest of my apartment. I couldn't believe that much junk was crammed in there! But now I can actually find notebooks, the Dictionary, etc. So maybe I'll write for real now.
JUNE: In earlier updates you might have seen my promises to get a Masters of Library Science. I was arranging my books (again) and happened to open Roget's Thesaurus (Third Edition) to a page-long bio of the book's creator, Peter Roget (1779-1869). His attitude toward knowledge and information is exactly the urge behind my MLS desire: "He was no high-and-dry scientist who thought that learning was the prerogative of the elect; his aim was to broadcast it as widely as possible. He was a founder of the Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge."
Libraries are no longer warehouses of worn and dusty volumes. More people come in nowadays, it seems, to log onto the computers than to check out books. There are also ever-growing sections devoted to CDs, videos, and DVDs. The librarian of today is a multi-media dispenser of knowledge. And from what I've seen, there are folks out there who desperately need knowledge. . . any knowledge. . .
Anyway, I'm way behind on my "Andre Norton reading project," but I finally updated my Norton reviews in the Book Review area.
Considering how much time and effort I've given to tales of werewolves, Kitsune, and the like, I've had little of a wolfish nature on this site. I'll work on that problem in future. I'll begin with an online "shrine" for my favorite novel, Whitley Strieber's The Wild.
Well, I'm getting serious about saving up money for my MLS. I've actually managed not to eat at fast-food joints as much (wow! Was I paying that much for a greasy burger and fries?) And my cable bill jumped from $43 a month to $47 -- which is $560 a year or thereabouts. It, too, is no more.
If I can show willpower there, I can show it elsewhere -- such as in writing. One can't publish unless one has something to publish. One novella out of the way, a novelette almost done, and back to the ol' epic From Hell's Heart.
I can't forget Fiction and Reality, though, so I'm starting a new project. But is it fiction, reality, or something in between?
The Mothman Prophecies: You've seen the movie, you've read the book (maybe), but what's the story behind the story of West Virginia's resident bogey? We will (eventually) review it chapter by chapter in The Mothman Annotations.
Almost May, 2002
The last couple of months were rather stressful hereabouts. There's no need to stir the ashes of what became essentially a non-event. Suffice it to say that when I believed I had a legal problem, I received advice and encouragement from all over the Internet, much more that I would ever have expected. I'll also say that for every ranting, threatening $#@*!! on the 'Net, there are dozens of helpful friends and associates. So if I ever said negative things about the Internet, I humbly apologize.
And so I guess I'll add a couple of items to keep "Fiction and Reality" from becoming stale. There's a new Eyrie Newsletter out for Spring, featuring the mysterious Jersey Devil, the possibility of gryphons in the Far East, and "A Missing Chapter from Journey to the Center of the Earth."
If flighty Gryphon fantasies aren't for you, there's a quasi-scientific article on possible superheavy atoms and "para-elements" in the Articles section: "Heavy Metals -- Light Fantastic." Admittedly, I'm not a nuclear physicist, but I'm mainly hoping to stir the imaginations of aspiring SF writers.
Now, however, I have to get back to real writing -- which translates into writing one gets paid for. I've got a bit of the old spirit back: Presented with a favorite book to read and the manuscript of a story I was working on, on my day off -- my quivering hand closed upon the manuscript. See ya later.
See old updates for my various other witticisms and observations.
Ever since I was a young boy I knew I would be a writer. I scrawled out page-long "novels" about dinosaurs, spaceships, and ghosts, but in some ways I didn't really begin writing until 1982, when I first moved out of my parents' house.
I convince myself that I have a lot to say, and at this point I can hardly listen to a conversation, read a book or magazine, or watch a movie or TV show without thinking of a line or paragraph it might provide for an item I personally am writing.
Of course, as a struggling writer, my priority is sending articles, stories, and novels to paying markets. Still, I occasionally scribble tales and scrape together bits of information that don't fit the needs of the usual magazines and journals. Pastiches of characters under copyright, for instance, are defined as fannish works, and they are presented without expectation of renumeration (unless I happen to find an appropriate shared-world anthology opening up).
The pages on this site are devoted mainly to the realms of science fiction and fantasy, the more science-fictional realms of science, Fortean phenomena and the unexplained, speculations on literary worlds, and other intriguing subjects. But first:
Michael D. Winkle was born in 1959 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and has lived in the same general area ever since. He received a B.A. in English from Oklahoma State University in 1984. He has worked in institutions such as the University Center at Tulsa and Tulsa Community College libraries. He has authored numerous shorts stories and a handful of novels, which slowly creep toward publication.
Some may wonder why people bother to give lists of their favorite books, movies, etc. I admit that I sometimes use such lists to screen sites. If I agree with just a few items on the favorites lists, I'm likely to continue clicking through. On the other hand, I'm even more likely to decide that a site isn't worth my while if I see a lot of books, authors, whatever, I don't care about. Hey -- my time is valuable!
I'll probably devote a page to lists of ten or twelve of my favorite books, movies, etc., soon, but for now:
The Eyrie Index of Issues
And, yes, we have to have a counter:
To say nothing of a guestbook:
Fiction & Reality Guestbook