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And this is it.  On Friday 15 September, after 20 years in space, 13 of which spent in Saturn’s system, Cassini plunged into the gas giant’s atmosphere.  NASA made this choice to prevented it crashing into and contaminating the moons Titan or Enceladus, which could host alien microbial life.  The end was quick: as described in details in this National Geographic’s article, “the spacecraft’s thrusters failed, overwhelmed by gravity and intense atmospheric friction.  It began to tumble, lost sight of Earth, and went silent forever around 4:55 a.m. PT.  Though scientists couldn’t observe the action, they knew that one or maybe two minutes after Cassini’s signal vanished, Saturn tore the spacecraft apart.  The probe shed flaming pieces into the planet’s atmosphere, streaking through the alien sky like a crumbling meteor.”

This is the start of this morning’s entry on Steph P. Bianchini’s THE EARTHIAN HIVEMIND, “So Long, Earthians.  Cassini, Over and Out.”  We may recall THE EARTHIAN HIVEMIND from about a week and a half ago, referring us to a piece on Cassini on NATURE.COM (see September 7).  So returning the favor in a way, for Bianchini’s own final take (though with several more links there that can be pursued too) those interested are invited to press here.

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The caption on the picture reads:  An image created by the Cassini spacecraft on July 19, 2013, when the sun slipped behind Saturn and illuminated the planet in an eclipse, illuminating its magnificent rings all the way out to the faint E ring, which appears as a ghostly blue hue of icy particles.  And so another, extensive salute via POPULARMECHANICS.COM, “Farewell to the Greatest Space Mission of Our Time” by Jay Bennett, for which press here.  In four more days (cf. September 7) Cassini will be gone.  Quoting the article once again:  The Cassini spacecraft spent 13 years orbiting Saturn.  It revealed the planet and its rings in striking detail, found liquid around every corner, and invigorated the idea that alien life not only exists, but could be right on our doorstep.

I say crummiest because the subtle observer may note the disk in the picture is white whereas the point of a solar eclipse is that the disk should be black.  Shadowed by the moon, remember?  But here’s a weird thing, a photo in today’s local paper, via the South Bend Tribune, via Eddyville Illinois also shows a white-disked sun at totality (section 1, page 5), though the picture was set to show an observer in the foreground, the sun itself just a background detail.  So for the picture here, let’s cut it some slack, it was taken by the infamous $4.95 on Ebay camera (including shipping, see February 5), one which’s settings are completely automatic, not controllable by human hands or minds — and hence likely to take its hints from the foreground — although acquitting itself reasonably well on pictures of Morro Castle, etc., in Puerto Rico last month as well as of the Goth Cat Triana for which it was bought.  Also a friend with presumably more sophisticated equipment (in the world of fine optical instruments you can’t go much below $4.95 on Ebay), taking pictures of the partial eclipse locally, complained they all came out with the crescent sun looking “fatter” than it actually was.

My theory is that the sun, even with the moon blocking it, is so bright that the unsophisticated camera, lacking screening or special adjustments, exaggerates the extent of the white (becomes “overloaded” in a sense), encroaching into the adjacent sky in the case of my friend, or filling in the handy black disk in the center when it came to mine.  And anyhow it still shows the corona, which in some ways is the interesting part, so maybe it’s not the crummiest picture this year after all.

Since the path of totality was not that far from where I live (what my friend saw at its peak was 95 percent, even if her pictures made it look less), I was able to go on a charter bus trip to an area just outside of Hopkinsville Kentucky.  For a few observations:  the eeriest part was a little before totality, when the sky began dimming but in an odd over-all way, not in the east first as one might see before sunset.  I didn’t see moving shadows on the ground (from mountains on the moon as the sun became entirely blocked), but another person who’d spread out a white sheet saw them there — present, he said, but extremely subtle.  One man had six huskies on the site who were well-behaved and extremely quiet even through totality, but just after the sun “came back” started barking, as if to say “never do that again.”  Also while we didn’t hear birds or insects go quiet, possibly because with so many people on the site, the wildlife was frightened to silence anyway, but just after the dogs we heard loud cicada-like insect sounds all around us for several seconds.  Also, while NASA observers were, I believe, in Hopkinsville proper, we did have some TV people on our site, plus others with picture-taking equipment of much more sophistication than mine (for which see the second picture here, taken a little bit before totality but with the overall dimming beginning to be seen — this was at 1:10 or so p.m. local time on what otherwise had been a bright sunny summer afternoon [totality began at 1:24 p.m. CDT and lasted two minutes and forty seconds]; the buses parked just beyond them, incidentally, are two of the charters from Indiana that I had come with).

I also had some delicious barbecue from a food truck parked in our area, the grounds of the Casey Jones Distillery, that on non-eclipse days produces several boutique corn whiskeys — including, for the occasion, a special Eclipse “Moonshine.”

And for the first picture, the possibly still-crummiest eclipse picture for the year, it does have one special thing going for it.  It’s the picture that’s (Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!) mine.

Usually I don’t tout commercial products on these pages — that is, with the exception of books and magazines my stuff is in — but this one seemed too much fun to pass up.  From horror_shower_curtain14RIOTDAILY.COM, courtesy of Scott M. Goriscak and THE HORROR SOCIETY:   “24 Horror Inspired Shower Curtains to Creep Up Your Home.”  My own faves, #14 and (especially) #18, with a tip of the classicist hat as well to #s 15 and 21.  So see for yourself by pressing here.

Then for a bonus, for the ladies with summer coming:  “Death Becomes You.  12 Skeleton Inspired Swimsuits” (or to quote from the blurb:  Whether you’re on the beach or poolside, show everyone that you have quality taste in fashion and the macabre.  When you’re wearing these swimsuits, you’ll definitely be turning a few heads . . . and possibly decapitating the rest) for which press here.

And here’s a second post for Monday, but this one’s for free stuff, the only penalty being a willingness to step outside in the late hours of night.  Vampire time, yes — with the websize-a357cf1e28bec764e18efb0fde8c7576neighborhood werewolves’ howls in the distance.  But this is different, especially for science fiction fans perhaps but also for all with a sense of wonder.  Wonder and awe.

The article is courtesy of UPWORTHY.COM by Heather Libby, “19 Amazing Things You Don’t Want to Miss in the Night Sky in 2016.”  And one need but press here to read, see, and enjoy.

There’s something about February.  Bitter cold just a week ago, today it’s in the low 60s (though, alas, not to last very long).  But it’s also a month for lists of films, it seems, and what should I run into whilst perusing my email, following this month’s “S.C.I.F.I.” (you don’t want to know what i81LWWH22szL._SY550_t stands for, honest) writers group meeting at the county library — two Valentines Day appropriate stories discussed, as it happens — but, yes, another one.  And this also one where I’ve seen most of the entries myself, “13 Greatest Art-House Horror Films” on DREAD CENTRAL, by Erin Hoyles, courtesy of Mike Olson who we’ve met before via Facebook’s ON THE EDGE CINEMA.  Standard disclaimer:  it’s one compiler’s opinion, I might have chosen some differently myself, and also some of these come up on the list of Visually Stunning Horror Movies, below, for February 9.  But I’ll stand behind them being worth seeing, at least those I’ve seen (WARNING to even the slightly squeamish, though, beware of MARTYRS).

To enjoy, check here.

So another list, but it might be fun, compiled by James Gaines on UPWORTHY.COM, “14 Elephant Facts You Can Use to Impress People at Parties (If They’re Into Elephants).”  Curious?  Press here.

Untreed Reads Publishing has announced a special 40% off sale on CyberMonday, November 30th.  The sale will include all titles in all formats, including my own chapbooks, the near-future dystopic novelette PEDS, Christmas horror I’M DREAMING OF A. . . ., steampunk mystery pedsVANITAS (originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE), and the Untreed Reads New Year’s anthology YEAR’S END:  14 TALES OF HOLIDAY HORROR featuring my lead story “Appointment in Time.”  All current promotions for the month of November will be suspended that day only and replaced by the CyberMonday sale.

To take advantage, one can click any of the three titles pictured in the center column or, for any or all four, press here to check out my author page in the Untreed Reads Store — but only on Monday!  All titles then should reflect their regular prices as well as sale prices.

This morning’s email brought the announcement, from HOW TO TRICK THE DEVIL Editor Stephanie Buosi, that her interview of me (cf. Novembe+-+51233190_140r 10) is now up and available under the title “James Dorr, Author of Tears of Isis, talks Inspiration, and the Life of a Full Time Writer.”  Well, maybe that “full time writer” requires a tad of nuance, but it’s in the interview which can be read by pressing here.  Not to mention, to also find out about such lore as the attraction of “the dark,” juxtaposition of ideas, the origins of “Lobster Boy and the Hand of Satan,” and even a small lagniappe from my poetry book VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE).

I don’t know if too many people bought books, or not enough, but Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing liked its Black Friday sale so much (cf. just beloIsisNeww) that it’s been extended through Monday, the first of December.  To hear Publisher Max tell it like it is:  “Good morning, everybody.  We hope you had a great Thanksgiving.  And if you don’t live in the US, we hope your Thursday went as well as Thursdays go.  But now it’s Saturday.  And we have a bunch of books we no longer have room to hold.  Seriously, our house is bursting of books.  We need your help.  Starting a few days ago and ending this Monday night, we’ll be giving every book in our webstore a 20% discount.  That includes both paperbacks and ebooks.

“PROMO CODE: BLACK14”

So if you’re a book lover, you know what you have to do.  Give these orphaned books a good home!  For Wednesday’s sake, cf. two posts down — and Wednesday, a shelter cat, in her time needed a good home too.  (So she ended up here in the computer Wendy3cave, but you know what I mean.)  And what better place to start than by buying the 2013 Bram Stoker Award(R) Fiction Collection finalist THE TEARS OF ISIS — at twenty percent off — by pressing here?

(Well, this seems to be getting a little commercial!  Seriously, though, books make good Christmas presents, as well as good reading any time of the year.)




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