Monthly Archives: October 2014

Special Halloween Post: I Was a Teenage Vampire

Every year at Halloween he rises from the dead. From I WAS A TEENAGE VAMPIRE, in 2001 Oxford American:

teen vamp

PROSTITUTE VAMPIRE: Well, Murphy, what did you have in mind tonight?

MURPHY: Oh, I don’t know. Something a little different maybe. . . . Ow, that hurts! Ow, stop it, you’re biting me!

More here. If you dare.

Book Signing at Tubby & Coo’s, New Orleans

I’m looking forward to attending the grand opening celebration this weekend of Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop here in New Orleans. I’ll be signing books Sunday, November 2, from 1:00-2:00.

tubby & coo's

While bookstores are shutting down all over the country, New Orleans still manages to support four (and now five!) thriving independent shops: Faulkner House Books, Garden District Book Shop, Maple Street Book Shop, and Octavia Books. Tubby & Coo’s, opened by book-lover Candice Huber, is the newest addition to this list.

Besides these shops, New Orleans also supports half a dozen damn good (and dusty) used book shops, among them Beckham’s Bookshop, Dauphine Street Books, Librairie Book Shop, Blue Cypress Books, and Crescent City Books.

Truly impressive for a city this size.

Congrats and thanks to Candice and all the other bookstore owners and lovers in New Orleans.

Can I have a Who Dat?

Rosetta Makes Unexpected Discovery About Comets

Last month I posted again about the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission. The spacecraft, after chasing Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko for ten years, finally caught up with it.

Here’s the comet:

07comet-cnd-master675

Now scientist have announced this finding from Rosetta:

European Scientists Conclude That Distant Comet Smells Terrible

A European spacecraft orbiting a distant comet has finally answered a question we’ve all been wondering: What does a comet smell like?

“It stinks,” says Kathrin Altwegg, a researcher at the University of Bern in Switzerland who runs an instrument called ROSINA that picked up the odor.

The European Space Agency has posted a full rundown of the comet’s BO on its website. The mix includes ammonia (NH3), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), formaldehyde (CH2O) and methanol (CH3OH).

Of course, anyone visiting the comet would be wearing a spacesuit (on top of that, the sense of smell is notoriously numb in space). Nevertheless, taking a whiff of this comet would be like sharing a horse barn with a drunk and a dozen rotten eggs.

“It’s quite a smelly mixture,” she says.

The Rosetta mission has gotten to within just a few miles of the comet. Close enough to whiff its coma, or atmosphere, and conclude that it really stinks.

Why didn’t we know comets smelled so bad before?

“That’s mostly because we’ve never been that close to a comet,” says Altwegg. The Rosetta mission is now just 5 miles from the comet’s surface.

It’s just like a person: You can’t really get a good sense of a person’s body odor until you’re right up next to him.

These chemicals are also clues to how the comet — and maybe how our solar system — formed. And for that reason, Altwegg doesn’t really mind the stench.

“It’s a little smelly, but at the moment it’s a lot of fun to go to work every morning,” she says.

Fun for now. But that could change. The comet is currently getting closer and closer to the sun. And like anything you leave out in the sun too long, it will soon start to smell even worse.

Comet Siding Spring: Once in a Million Years

Astronomers are excited about Comet Siding Spring’s very close encounter with Mars this coming Sunday. Siding Spring was spotted back in January 2013. An Oort Cloud comet, it’s said to be the size of a small mountain, with a million-year orbit. A posse of spacecraft and Mars rovers are jockeying into position right now to observe it. Here on Earth, the comet will be visible with binoculars in the Southern Hemisphere.

How close will Comet Siding Spring come to Mars? 83,000 miles–which in space distances is a hair’s breadth, about a third of the distance between here and the Moon. Last year, before they’d plotted out its trajectory, astronomers were genuinely worried that the comet might hit Mars.

Its trajectory is such that it’ll never get closer to the Earth than some 83 million miles, so no need to panic yet. Of course, passing that close to Mars, there’s a possibility that Siding Spring might upset the Red Planet’s orbit, throwing the whole solar system out of whack, in which case, well . . . Best not to think about that.

onceinmillio

Photos from Baton Rouge Reading

Thanks to Angus Woodward for organizing our event on Oct. 12 at the Baton Rouge Gallery, and thanks to everybody who came out–especially all my mom’s friends.

Here are a few pictures from “Works in Progress: Four Baton Rouge Writers.” With Laurie Lynn Drummond and Chris Tusa.

Laurie Lynn Drummond

Chris Tusa

Me

Reading in Baton Rouge on October 12

I’m reposting this info from a few weeks ago. I’ll be back in my hometown this Sunday, October 12, for a reading at the Baton Rouge Gallery, together with local favorites Laurie Lynn Drummond, Chris Tusa, and Angus Woodward.

It all happens at 4:00. Snacks and wine if you sit through the whole thing.

Works in Progress: Four Baton Rouge Writers

BR Gallery

Photos from Reading at the American Library, Chennai, India

Thanks again to the American Library at the U.S. Consulate in Chennai (Madras), India, for organizing this reading last month. A great turnout, a wonderful crowd. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

American Library Chennai 1

American Library Chennai 2