Carrie Naughton Posts

Back in 2001, I left Jackson, Wyoming and a really sweet library job to get a Master’s in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana in Missoula. I’d read a lot of Terry Tempest Williams and written some sappy poetry, and I really wanted to be a Nature Writer and save the planet. Less than a year later, I ended up a defeated, depressed dropout with a student loan, working on an organic farm in Whitefish, Montana for a hundred bucks a month plus room and board. No way could I have envisioned that 15 years later I would be back in Jackson with my own freelance bookkeeping business, finishing the novel about the farm that I started so long ago.

Nor would I have thought that I’d dust off an essay I wrote for one of my grad school classes, with the initial intention of turning it into a blog post. We had to choose an extinct or endangered species and write a brief, creative nonfiction essay. I picked a tiny warbler from the coastal plains of the American South. Maybe I chose Bachman’s Warbler because I grew up in Georgia. Maybe I chose it because I wanted to go small. And not simply size-wise. Bachman’s isn’t famous. But I have never stopped thinking about this lost little bird.  I did a massive amount of research while I was a writer in residence at Hypatia-in-the-Woods in Shelton, Washington – and I did my damnedest to craft an essay that I hope honors one fragile strand in the great web of life. And I am overjoyed that Zoomorphic is publishing “Last Known” in its fifth issue.

I’d really like to thank the field biologists and Bachman’s experts who took time out of their busy lives to respond to my emails and phone calls. Paul Hamel, Sidney Gauthreaux, Chuck Hunter, Robert Norton, Bob Ford, Kenneth Rosenberg, thank you all.  Isabella Kirkland’s hauntingly gorgeous oil painting deserves contemplation.  And mostly especially, a big thank you to Craig Watson of the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, who read my drafts, sent me his own personal copy of Paul Hamel’s book Bachman’s Warbler: A Species in Peril as well as a precious dvd film of the warbler, and provided invaluable feedback.

You can read “Last Known” here on the Zoomorphic website.

 

Painting of Vermivora bachmanii by Louis Agassiz Fuertes [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

field notes read me

I love listicles and they’re easy to post. Enjoy!

Right now here’s what I’m into:

HalfBaked Harvest  I have to admit, this website inspired me to start this weekly (lofty goal…weekly…we’ll see) post of “oh how I love thee’s” – but seriously y’all I adore this cooking site, so many luscious recipes to try. Next up for me is the Crockpot Creamy Cashew Chicken. Ummmmm.

Vieux Farka Toure Live Sometimes I can’t handle the overload of my giant itunes library, so I throw on the iHeartRADIO website. No ads, and plenty of free music. My favorite station right now is inspired by Ayub Ogada, a genius in his own right, but recently a track from Toure’s mindblowing live album got tossed into the mix and I am in love. Which reminds me…I love this song too by Baaba Maal.

River  Netflix, you just keep comin’ at me with some amazing original shows, and this is one of your finest. Yes, I love a British police procedural, but this is….well…River is phenomenal.

Bone Tomahawk  Richard Jenkins, that’s what I have to say. Richard Jenkins, people.

2 Poems by Maggie Woodward at The Fem  Woooosh – these knocked me sideways.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown  Last week I got together with a bunch of friends for our semi-irregular Insane-in-the-Bourdain viewing nights, and we watched the Ethiopia episode. There is so much here to sink into deliciously, whether you’re new to the Bourdainverse or a veteran foodie. The foooood. Marcus Samuelsson, whose book Yes, Chef I’m now listening to on audiobook (Samuelsson himself reads it…so wonderful). And the music of Mahmoud Ahmed, perfect.

My Taxes  Okay so no, I’m not bananas about this at all; doing my taxes this year sure made me go nuts. High five if you’re on my wavelength.

Two banana recipes Well of course, this post is about going bananas. Cookies and cake, oh yeahhhh. I am always looking for recipes to deal with overripe brown-spotted oogey bananas that I refuse to peel-n-eat but won’t throw out. Here’s one for cookies and here’s one for double chocolate banana bread (let’s just say it, this is cake, not banana bread – no complaints).

Featured Photo By Matt Reinbold from Bismarck, ND, USA – Monkeys on a Banana, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11293688

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I wrote a poem last summer called “Crux” – and it’s published today at Atlas and Alice!

One of these days I hope to perform “Crux.” I wrote it mainly in my head over several weeks, while out running the bike path near where I live. I can imagine belting out “Crux” while standing on a table in the back of a dark roadhouse. Everybody might ignore me, and that’d be okay. This is a poem about being lonely in a social place. Or maybe it’s about art. Or Jesus. Or Jesus art. Or maybe it’s about tears in your beer and divine drunken revelations. Or maybe it’s about Yacht Rock, because I was doing way more Easy Listening last summer than any human being should. If you listen close you can hear a Judee Sill song in there, too – though I came by it through the great Warren Zevon version. No really, it’s about all of the above.

You can read “Crux” here – and I hope you’ll tell me what you think in the comments.

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Ludolf Bakhuizen – 1. Google Cultural Institute2. Indianapolis Museum of Art, Public Domain

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Look, everybody, it’s ME!  I’m back.  Okay enough about my blog hiatus.

I’ve been watching vampire movies, and that calls for a post. Helloooooo!!! This year I actually quit watching The Originals and The Vampire Diaries (still love those shows, but who has time?). Of course that didn’t stop me, and I ended up watching Only Lovers Left Alive, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, and What We Do In The Shadows this very month! Oh – I also watched Vampire Academy, but…that one was mostly while I was folding laundry and doing the dishes and meh – other than Claire Foy, a bit of a letdown.

I have to rank Only Lovers Left Alive at the next-to-bottom of this vamp-pile, because despite Tilda and Tom, the film was booooooring and way too in love with itself. Get over your own perceived hipness, Jim Jarmusch. I love Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, too. Some haunting lonesome forlorn cinematography of rundown nighttime Detroit, but otherwise blahhhh, big effing deal that your vampires can dig on science and poetry. Spooky action at a distance? You’re not impressing me.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – YES. Not just because we’re talking Persian vampires, not just because it’s got some of the creeeeeeeepiest vampire stalking scenes ever, not just because black and white arty done right –  but because it’s beautifully shot, it’s got a Westside Story gritty glam romance to it, and hey….the awesomeness that is Mozhan Marnò. You can see her in this movie gem on Netflix streaming!

And then there’s What We Do In The Shadows. I didn’t realize until I saw this movie that I wanted a hilarious vampire film. I do! I so do. I don’t think I ever want to see a serious vampire anything ever again. How does it get better than Jemaine Clement as Vladislav the Poker saying “I’m going for a look that I call Dead but Delicious.” Yaahaaahahaaha.

Pretty much everything is outrageously funny in What We Do In The Shadows. Everything. I was giggling and snort-laughing the whole time. Have you ever had roommates? Were they vampires? I guarantee even if you’ve had regular human roommates you will find something to identify with here. And laugh your ass off. And then…slowly…realize you’re watching a reality TV show that’s more human than most.

Wait – I didn’t answer my original question. Vampires – why bother? I don’t know, it’s up to you, what you do in the shadows. “Just leave me to do my dark bidding on the internet.”  “What are you bidding on?”  “I’m bidding on a table.” HAaaaa! Let’s put the dead back in deadpan!

Photo By Screenshot from “Internet Archive” of the movie Dracula (1958) http://www.archive.org/details/HorrorOfDracula-Trailer, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11740931

get reel

I don’t often write short stories, because when I write I’m verbose and have trouble breaking up with my characters. BUT I do dabble in doorstopper novel-writing, and sometimes when I’m knee-deep in a book, characters show up unannounced. That’s pretty much one of the best things in the world, as far as I’m concerned, and it happened with my protagonist Tracy Hawthorne. She’s the alter ego I never knew I had, and my short story “Roundheels” features her in one of her first “paranormal detective” encounters.

Tracy’s not 100% a supernatural PI, she’s a singer and a guitar player and a sailor-mouthed burlesque dancer and somebody I’d love to hang out with. She’s tough and funny and she’s got this gift for tapping into the ethereal plane, so I just let her run with it. She steals the show in two novels I’ve written, and I hope you enjoy her in “Roundheels.” I can now say I’m published in Canada, woohoo! and you can buy the 100th issue of On Spec here (featuring some seriously killer Cthulhu cover art by James F. Beveridge).  I hope you’ll check it out and support this wonderful magazine of speculative fiction.

 

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I know, a reading list about scary books in time for Halloween has nothing to do with quantum physics’ spooky action at a distance, but I couldn’t help using it for a post title. Indulge me.

I’m a cruelly picky reader, so putting together a list of recommended reads is always a difficult task for me – especially books with a theme. The following is a selection of novels that fulfilled my threefold hardcore criteria: 1) Couldn’t put it down (or hated pressing pause on the audiobook so I could do necessary self-maintenance like sleeping and showering); 2) Gave me major chills or laughs or both 3) I wanted to be friends with the heroines and heroes of the book.

The Quick There’s all this stupid whingeing scattered over the internets about the “twist” of this book – there’s no twist. It’s a book about vampires. I’m not ruining anything by telling you this. And I insist that it’s one of the best vampire books I’ve read. And you get two poignant love stories, two resourceful, sharpwitted female characters, and some seriously creepy monsters – human and otherwise.

 

 

 

Mayhem – Stephen Crossley’s narration is audiobook listening at its most sublime. He simply is Dr. Bond, and that’s that. A brief digression: Stephen King wrote a fantastic review of the audiobook version of James Ellroy’s novel Blood’s A Rover, telling how he listened to Craig Wasson’s narration while driving and it was soooo damn good it was a privilege to be in a car. That’s how I felt listening to Mayhem – I never wanted to hit the pause button and return to real life. There are plenty of books out there riffing on Jack the Ripper, but this is one of the best – for me, probably due to the supernatural element. A synopsis can’t do justice to the nuances of Mayhem‘s story and cast (yes! there’s a sequel with these wonderful characters). Read it.

London Falling  A cop caper with gritty, snarky dark magic on the streets of modern-day London. A quartet of constables gains some magic mojo enabling them to see ghosts and various other nasties, including an ancient witch obsessed with football (you know, soccer) and murder. Somehow it really rocks, and these coppers are great company.

 

 

 

Midnight Riot aka Rivers of London This is another urban fantasy (of the gore and ghosts and angry Old Gods variety, not fluffy unicorns and fairies) that has humor, horror and heart (most still beating) and a delightful protagonist, PC Peter Grant.  Apparently there’s some controversy about the American version of the book, which I wish I’d known before reading – grab the UK edition if you can. Heck, grab the UK edition of almost anything, as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

 

Murder as a Fine Art  I wasn’t sure about a book that twists history into fiction by using Thomas De Quincey (Confessions of an English Opium Eater) as a revamped fictional hero and would-be Sherlock, but this absolutely worked, and the character of De Quincey’s daugher and protegé Emily is worth the entire read. And say WHAT – the author is David Morrell, who wrote First Blood. Yes, Rambo.

 

Even more suggestions (some I can endorse, some I haven’t read yet) can be found on my goodreads Gaslight list – including the wonderful Lyndsay Faye, Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January books, and Stephen Gallagher’s Sebastien Becker series.

I guess I can include spooky watching herein as well, since Hulu finally got Season 4 of Whitechapel, definitely the strangest and most ghosty of the series, and oh my wailing and lamenting that this show was cancelled. You might also enjoy Copper, Ripper Street, and Elementary. Also my guilty pleasure of late: Witches of East End.

 

“1790-church-gravestones-autumn-leaves – West Virginia – ForestWander” by http://www.ForestWander.com. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 us via Wikimedia Commons

book reviews

I’m so excited to see one of my poems about Texas published online at The Tishman Review.  I really love this new literary journal and I’m honored to be included in their fourth issue.

I wrote “Horse Lubber” after driving across the Lone Star State in October 2014 on my way to Texarkana.  Texas is like another planet to me, and I say that fondly. Have you experienced Texas? Have you ever seen a Horse Lubber grasshopper? They’re both HUGE.  My poem is small (unusual for me). Please go read it and let me know what you think.

In fact, The Tishman Review has a Readers’ Favorite contest for each issue – with cash prizes! Go HERE to vote for “Horse Lubber” and help me win some $money$. Maybe I will take you out to dinner if I win.

Photograph of Horse Lubber By Jerry Kirkhart from Los Osos, Calif. (Horse Lubber Grasshopper (Taeniopoda eques)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Part of my ongoing monthly post series about documentary films I’m watching.

September 25 through October 3 is the Jackson Hole Wild Festival, a bi-annual conference and showcase of wildlife and science films from big-name (ahem…National Geographic) and independent filmmakers. I bought a 5-punch pass for the event, and so far I’ve seen two films, screened at the JH Center for the Arts. Each day has a theme – Big Cats, Oceans, Explore Africa, etc – reminding me that this is a biologically diverse planet with lots to document.

Thin Ice     My first film of the festival. Introduced by a Subaru ad announcing an initiative to reduce all waste to zero in three national parks – Denali, Yosemite, and Grand Teton. And an announcement that Shell had stopped drilling in the Arctic – holy wow. As for the documentary, I really enjoyed it. How do you say you enjoyed a film about Climate Change? I think because it was about the quest to understand the science. I loved the section on how to drill for an ice core more than a mile deep/long, then use sophisticated equipment to melt the ice millimeter by millimeter and measure dust particulates (like carbon) and air bubbles to get data to establish a record of the earth’s climate going back hundreds of thousands of years. I’m currently reading Tim Flannery’s book The Weather Makers, and coincidentally, I came home after seeing Thin Ice to read Chapter 16, which is all about the climate modeling discussed in the film. It’s fascinating stuff, and the film really shows you the human beings – oceanographers, atmospheric physicists, biologists – who are painstakingly conducting experiments, doing research, testing hypotheses and scrutinizing predictions.

Tiger, Tiger    I wanted to see this film because I am obsessed with apex predators and utterly beautiful places I will probably never visit.  This is a documentary about an incredible man – Dr. Alan Rabinowitz of the nonprofit Panthera – and his love for the majestic Bengal tiger, denizen of the Indian and Bangladeshi coastal mangrove forest known as the Sundarbans. It’s also a film about the people who live in the jungle with these tigers – who revere the tigers, fear them, protect them, and are all too often killed by them. There’s so much here to take in and consider, I wish someone I know would see this film so we could talk about it.

800px-Plos_wilsonFor folks who love documentaries, it’s a great time to be plugged into the interwebs – so many films only a click away. It doesn’t take the place of human interaction though, and I wanted to add that the highlight of my week was seeing sociobiologist and ant expert E. O. Wilson on Monday night. He was interviewed informally by Kirk Johnson, and the whole evening was simply delightful. Wilson is 86 years old and still as witty, compassionate and wise as ever. Leave it to a Jackson Hole audience to ask him hilarious questions; Wilson’s off-the-cuff replies dished it right back (my paraphrased Q&A notes follow).

Q: If you could, would you send us all back to the Paleolithic?

EOW: Do you want to be a big, slimy-skinned, slobbering Labyrinthodont?

Q: If every ant species united against humanity, would they wipe us out?

EOW: Ha, no.

Q: Have you ever eaten a chocolate covered ant?

EOW:  Yes – they’ve got a nice tang to them – that formic acid.

Q: Will insects be a major food source for humans in the future?

EOW: God, I hope not.

Q: What’s your favorite band?

EOW: I’m not much into rock music, but I’ve been listening to the Grateful Dead lately.

 

“Bengal Tiger in Water (13290323163)” by MJ Boswell from Annapolis, Md, USA – Bengal Tiger in Water. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons  

“Plos wilson” by Jim Harrison – PLoS. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons 

get reel

I have a poem in Strange Horizons! This is the best thing ever. Strange Horizons is one of the greatest literary magazines for speculative poetry. I am still pinching myself. I think I’m qualified for membership in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America now. Cross that off the bucket list.

Last year, actually right about this same time last year – I was on the road from Shelton, Washington to Tucson, Arizona. On my way to the Southwest from a writer’s residency at Hypatia-in-the-Woods, cruising down the California coast, I stopped off for the night at Bodega Dunes Campground – one of the Sonoma Coast State Parks beaches.

B3D08C2B-5285-462F-B576-4FBA90106E22I was traveling alone. The day was grey, surreal, salty. I was trapped at the edge of the earth: the plunging sea, the leaden sky, the lonely beach. There were loud tripped-out campsite parties raging until late in the night, too-bright public restrooms, drunk men with huge Bowie knives yelling about country music, midnight wanderers stumbling past my tent (one of whom was startled by the hulking shadowshape of my bike on top of my car – “Oh my God what the hell is that!!??”). I slept fitfully and had bizarre dreams. Thanks for the memories, Sonoma Coast!

Needless to say, all of this morphed into a poem. Something like HP Lovecraft meets Hilda Doolittle. HP and HD, together on the west coast and in my crazed brain.

You can read “Bodega Dunes” here, if you’re not scared. Also – my reading of the poem will be part of the Strange Horizons podcast later this month. Yes – you can hear me read my own work. I’ll post a link to that when it goes live.

 

Photograph of the Pacific Ocean near Bodega Dunes Campground by me.

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CHEESE. No, I’m not talking about my sense of humor. Or maybe I am? (We’ll see). Lately I’ve become obsessed by three different cheeses. I say “different”….now, but that might be inaccurate – at least two are from Spain.  Allow me to do a bit ‘o cheesearch; I mean, research, and enlighten you.

First, I love cheese. I’m sorry if you’re a vegan and I hope you won’t hold this post against me, (please feel free to hold a wedge or cube or slice of cheese against me, though – I will gladly take that cheese and eat it). I was actually vegan for a full year, my favorite cookbook ever (EVER) is Veganomicon, and I LOVE nut cheeses like cashew ricotta, but alas I probably do not share most nondairy convictions.

Anyway back to cheese, dairy cheese, goat or sheep or cow milk cheese. I am currently going into debt buying several cheeses and devouring them almost weekly: Manchego, Welsh Cheddar, and Drunken Goat. Let’s break it down cheese by cheese.

Manchego  The Cheese From La Mancha. Almost everybody loves them some Manchego, right? Nutty, buttery, grassy. It’s like if a wedge of Romano and a stick of butter rolled around in a spring field and made a baby. Sheep’s milk – I had no idea I loved it! I’m partial to the Curado age, not too soft, not too dry. Sometimes I get out the Manchego and attempt to set up a fancy cheeseboard with a glass of wine, but usually I just hack off a big chunk and gobble it standing at my kitchen counter.

Drunken Goat Queso de Cabra al Vino! I first discovered this cheese at Cartel in Tucson. What is this magnificence? You say someone soaked a wheel of this luscious goat cheese in a vat of wine? And a small wedge costs as much as my monthly subscription to Daily Burn? Fine, fine, give it to me. Give me the drunken goat cheese! I’ll burn off the fat doing HIIT workouts in the morning.

Collier’s Welsh Cheddar Actually it’s Collier’s POWERFUL Welsh Cheddar, and that’s no lie. This cheese is like a kick in the face. A kick in the face that you will enjoy, my friends. It’s sharp, it’s a knockout, it’s dry but creamy, it’s tangy but toasty. The miners of Wales – the colliers – know what cheddar should be. And the best part? There’s wee crunchy salt crystals in this cheese. How does it get any better? Salt crystals in the cheese.

All these fromages are in your grocery store’s fancy deli section and if they’re not, then I’m really sorry. You should probably stop saving up for a new car or paying off your credit card debt and find a way to buy these cheeses right now. Oh I’m kidding! Do not even get started – you won’t be able to stop. Excuse me I think I still have a piece of Manchego left over from last night’s cheese binge.

 

“Weichkaese SoftCheese” by Eva K. / Eva K. – Eva K. / Eva K.. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons

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