Mrs Morrison's Hotel

The 100% personal official blog for Patricia Kennealy Morrison, author, Celtic priestess, retired rock critic, wife of Jim

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I was, wait, sorry, that's "David Copperfield". Anyway, I was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island, went to school in upstate NY and came straight back to Manhattan to live. Never lived anywhere else. Never wanted to. Got a job as a rock journalist, in the course of which I met and married a rock star (yeah, yeah, conflict of interest, who cares). Became a priestess in a Celtic Pagan tradition, and (based on sheer longevity) one of the most senior Witches around. Began writing my Keltiad series. Wrote a memoir of my time with my beloved consort (Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison). See Favorite Books below for a big announcement...The Rennie Stride Mysteries. "There is no trick or cunning, no art or recipe, by which you can have in your writing that which you do not possess in yourself." ---Walt Whitman (Also @ and

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

Well, thank heavens, I do not, though I have in the past, but one of my MySpace friends, Princess of Chaos, did, in Illinois the other day, and (by her gracious permission) here's her report:

Just wanted to drop ya a note and tell you I was thinking of you early this morning when the earthquake rumbled here through Illinois. A 5 point something, enough to be felt here in Chicago and even up in Wisconsin too!

A couple observations I wanted to share...

My cat, Felix, who usually wakes me up to demand breakfast around 5:30, was acting up about 4:15. He was pouncing on me, jumping from my pillows to me, pillows to me, and then decided to fling his toy mouse at me while acting like a mad cat. Then he collected 3 of his favorite toys and put them next to me on the bed and continued to jump and meow and flop onto me. I kept rebuffing his attentions, pulling covers higher. Then he dove under my pillows up by my head and huddled with me and then... shake, shake, shake---the quake happened---things rattled and vibrated, etc. I sat up, looked around and said "Oh, Felix, go back to sleep. it's just an earthquake."

He stayed by me the rest of the morning...he NEVER sleeps by me in bed, he has his own little sleeping area away from "human activity". I calmly went back to sleep. Earthquakes are not a huge problem here in Chicago, so obviously a few seconds of shaking didn't rouse me to any action or alarm.

BUT...the cool thing...before I nodded off again I thought of you and "Strange Days", when you "predicted it", and wondered if you had any earthquake feelings or thoughts yesterday? Then I promptly fell back asleep for a few hours.

So two things:

1) My you think he was trying to "warn" me - his atypical behaviour being some sort of caveat to me? Or perhaps he just was scared? Or both? I remember you said in "Strange Days" the horses were skittish the day before, and I have heard stories of animals fleeing before storms, etc...

2) Last night before bed I had a weird headache and just felt weird, like something was "wrong" and I was restless and didn't want to sleep. The "E" word didn't come to me, but do you think I may have felt something was to happen but didn't know exactly what

Wow! Well, y'all have probably heard about this quake by now. It was a 5.4 or 5.2, not huge but certainly big enough to take note of, epicenter in southern Illinois, on the Wabash Extension of the New Madrid Fault.

That it was on the New Madrid line REALLY interests me, in a grim sort of way. New Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid, not ma-DRID), in Missouri, had a series of monster quakes back in 1811 and 1812. They were so huge that they were felt in Boston, and they changed the course of the Mississippi River. The biggest quakes east of the Rockies, and still hold that record.

"But, Patricia," you seismologically cognizant little devils protest, "but that area of the continent isn't REMOTELY near a plate subduction zone, like California, Alaska and the rest of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" quake areas. Why then such big quakes?"

The prevailing tectonic thinking is two-fold: first, it might be that the Farallon Plate, subducting under California (means sinking down under another plate, in this case the North American one), has by now reached the center of the continental plate, 3-6 miles down under the Midwest, and is causing the shakes.

Second, that there is a giant geological rift running through that area, like a crack in the basement of the continent, and it wants to split apart. And when it twitches, the quakes happen.

Or a combination of the two causes. But, either way, the New Madrid Fault could let go again, big time, and it could happen a thousand years from now, or it could happen tomorrow. There's no way of knowing, since there are few if any monitors and sensors set up there, unlike Hawaii or California.

The reason quakes along that fault (or along faults in the East) are felt over such a wide distance is because the rock structure in the Midwest and East is old, cold, stiff and unbroken. Whereas in California and Alaska, the rocks are newer and more pliable, so the quake energy doesn't travel as far.

As to the Princess's account, for starters, her kitty TOTALLY knew a quake was coming, and I bet she did too, hence her vague feelings of unease.

It really is a great disturbance in the Force: the electromagnetic field, at any rate. And animals, who are far more keenly attuned to the EMF than humans, sense it hours, even days, ahead.

And certainly right before it happens: before the huge quake that caused the Indonesian tsunami back in 2004, wild and working elephants alike headed up into the hills away from the beaches, hours before, and if people had been smart they would have gone along. Other critters too were reported to have behaved similarly: snakes, monkeys, dogs, cats. Follow the animals, people! They know!

Before the Sylmar quake, near LA, in 1971, the only really big quake I've ever been in (6.7 to 7.1, estimated), the horses we'd gone out to that valley to ride the day before did indeed behave in premonitory fashion, clustering together in the far field, not wanting to come to us, just acting strangely enough for me to start babbling about earthquakes. And about 15 hours later, there one was...

But sometimes humans can pick up on it too, from the unease that the Princess describes to full-fledged knowledge. I have a bit of it myself, as she mentions, and as other readers of "Strange Days" will perhaps recall: it manifests as a kind of general light nausea, like morning sickness, a vague disquiet, and a compulsive urge to talk nonstop about earthquakes, or even read books about them.

It doesn't always happen---usually only for really big quakes or for very local ones (happened in LA twice, once in Bolton, England!, couple of times here in NYC, even). (Oh yes, we have quakes here! There's active faults under the city, up the Hudson Valley---under the nuclear facility at Indian Point, even, built there by a friend's engineer brother, in fact---and all the way up the Northeast, from New Jersey to Canada).

But when it does there's ALWAYS a quake within 24 hours.

Many years ago I was following the activities of a group of fellow Mensa members, "earthquake dowsers" far more skilled and sensitive than I. These people were registered with the National Earthquake Registry or whatever it was called then, in Golden, Colorado, and when they felt something building up, they'd call in with their predictions.

Some of them were SO good they could dowse locations and Richter-scale intensity off maps, and tell you when, where and how big. And their accuracy rate was amazing.

There was also a woman, I'm not sure if she was part of that group, but she was filmed for a documentary on Mt. St. Helens, a few years after the big blow of 1980. Not only had she predicted that catastrophic eruption, but WHILE BEING FILMED, she broke off to say that she sensed another quake/eruption at the mountain happening right that moment, and when they called the observatory and time-checked her, she was absolutely right, to the second.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much point to such foreknowledge. Sure, predictions probably saved a lot of people in a big China earthquake a while back: the local authorities believed the prediction, made everybody move out of their buildings, and mere hours later, boom, along came a monster shake that could have killed hundreds of thousands but didn't, thanks to the prediction.

But this wouldn't really work for, say, L.A. or San Francisco. Where would people evacuate TO, for one thing? Eight million people out in the desert isn't gonna happen, and besides, the San Andreas, which is going to blow in Southern California pretty soon now, being almost a hundred years overdue (and the recent big quakes on nearby faults like the ones near Big Bear aren't relieving the pressure), runs right through there anyway.

So it's a conundrum. I just hope I don't pick up on any such feelings anytime soon.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pope-A-Dope (Or, Pontiff-icating)

I couldn't escape it. It was all over the tube today. All Pope, all the time...infesting my city like a white-robed virus, clogging the airwaves and the streets alike.

So, on the principle of Know Thine Enemy (as Jedi to Sith), I watched for a bit. Well, more than a bit. And I was appalled.

First off, I was made physically and spiritually ill by the sight of scores, if not hundreds, of old, white, skirt-wearing males. I started keeping track after a while, and I saw exactly TWO women all afternoon, one a child, one a grownup, in "official" capacities connected with Palpatine.

The child was a teenaged Jewish girl who presented him with a copy of the Haggadah when he made his much ballyhooed appearance at an uptown synagogue; the other was a reader at the "ecumenical" prayer service that followed at a more uptown Catholic church. Wow. Way to show how you feel about women, von Ratz!

Then there was the whole synagogue appearance carnival. Fine, he wants to reconcile with Jews, excellent! BUT how do WE reconcile the fact that not that long ago he restored that vile Latin prayer in the Tridentine liturgy that prays for the Jews to be converted as a people to Christianity?

So, it's okay to hang out at a synagogue for half an hour or so and accept the gift of a Seder plate, the Haggadah and some matzoth, but you still believe the Jews are wrong and ill-informed and you PRAY FOR them to no longer be a religion but just another bunch of converted Christians. MAN, does that steam me! And I'm not really happy with the craven rabbis, apparently merely anxious to make public relations history, who didn't protest this, either.

Oh, and "ecumenical" prayer service? Sure, there were a bunch of Armenian and Orthodox prelates there, plus a lot of fat, greasy-looking, greasy-hearted Evangelicals (don't blame me, that's what they looked like, Southern used-car salesmen...). But I saw NOT ONE WOMAN AMONG THEM. Not even a nun. The only woman who went up to be presented was the Rev. Bernice King, estimable daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, may their names live in glory evermore. That was it.

And it'll be a cold day in Hitler Youth Hell before my own faith gets an apology out of the Vatican for killing hundreds of thousands of us, and as many utterly innocent women just for being women. I doubt I'll be sharing the quaich with a pope at a Samhain celebration anytime soon. Unless it's Pope Eve Mary I, and I don't think she's coming down the pike, not in this millennium anyway...

Watching the priestlings and the smug, smarmy cardinals surrounding Ratz like cassocked and biretta'd remoras, I wonder how anyone (and there were dozens, all crowding the camera for their TV moment) can still buy into this charade.

Even the trumpeted "private" interview with sex abuse survivors from the Boston area: I was not there, obviously, but from what was said, he basically just said ooh so sorry and yes we must do better. Well, big whoop, Benny! How about some REAL contrition, not just lip service? He's sorrier that the church has had to pay out 2 billion bucks in reparation and fines than that it was all covered up in the first place.

IT'S A SIN, pope boy! How could you even THINK that the God you profess to love and serve would be pleased that you basically ignored the whole thing (or your predecessor did, even more so, may he rot in the hell he believes in) and just shuffled off the pederast predators to new dioceses where they could prey upon new innocents? You make Jesus cry! Or maybe just get out the whip he used on the moneychangers...

Tell you what: I'd like to bring back the repentance ceremonies of King Henry II of England. You know, the one where, having been found implicitly responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket, he was publicly flogged in Canterbury Cathedral and had to do all sorts of penances. Yeah. I think that might be a REAL deterrent. For priests and popes alike.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Britannia SO Rules!

The Brits are really good with sweets. I adore Cadbury's Flake, of course, and my current treat is Fry's Chocolate Cream bar. (Only half at a time, because of the new carb restrictions.)

I can't reconstruct what led me to do it, but I just hopefully Googled the name of the best cookie ever to grace this planet...CHOCOLATE OLIVER BISCUIT. I hadn't seen any around for years and years, and previous Googles were, uh, fruitless.

But today, o frabjous day, I learn that they are BACK. And I am glad.

If you've never had one of these British wonders, your life is sadly lacking. The foundation is a Bath Oliver biscuit, named for its creator, Dr. William Oliver of 18th-century Bath, England. It's sort of like a Pilot cracker, only much nicer, and was intended to aid digestion back in those days when biscuits were thought to help such matters. Bath Olivers---dry, thickish, not sweet---are still made today, and are very good with cheese.

BUT. I say, again, BUT. The CHOCOLATE Oliver is like unto the gorgeous butterfly compared with the lowly caterpillar. It is a regular old Bath Oliver biscuit enrobed (technical term) in what seems like, and possibly is, 3/4 of an inch of the most glorious dark chocolate EVAH. As I said, best bikkie in creation.

And now, thank you, Huntley & Palmers, biscuitmakers extraordinaire, it is BACK. I'm going to revive my dormant Harrods charge account to order me some. Or, failing that, I shall hie myself over to Myers of Keswick (pronounced Kezzick) in the West Village, in hopes of finding some there. This absolutely charming shop sells all sorts of Britfood: fresh bangers and pork pies, biscuits, candy, Marmite, Bovril, you name it.

It is said, perhaps apocryphally, that John Lennon once demanded to be paid for some musical service not in pence but in Chocolate Olivers. I can so relate...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


J.K. Rowling is in New York this week, and we're a lot happier to have her here than we are to have Pope Palpatine en route.

Unfortunately, Jo is here to testify in a court case concerning a ripoff artist who's trying to profit off all her hard work on Harry Potter. This creature had a website which JKR approved of, something she now says she's bitterly unhappy about having done, and he and his cheap, crappy publisher thought they could make a few bucks by printing it up as "The Harry Potter Lexicon."

This is EXACTLY why I never gave anyone permission to do fannish ripoffs of my own Keltia stuff, and went after anyone who tried. Of course, Keltia and Harry Potter aren't remotely comparable in the success department, but the principle remains the same, and I'm very glad I held to mine.

Nobody has the right to take your creation and do whatever they please with it. Theft is theft. This guy claims he's just writing a concordance, just like all the Shakespeare ones you see around. Well, JKR says otherwise: in fact, she says that of over 2400 instances of Harry mention by this guy, over 2000 of them are directly plagiarized from her books.

She further deposes under oath that the commentary he boasts of is nonexistent and the scholarship is lousy. For ex: he attributes "Alohomora" to portmanteauing "aloha" and the Latin word "mora"; JKR says not so, it derives from a West African term to do with thievery or breaking and entering. And a bunch more stuff along those lines.

I find it difficult to believe that the defendant could have been so ingenuous as to think that taking great whacking chunks of JKR's work was "fair use." Last time I checked with a lawyer on fair use, I was told that it was all proportional: if a poem or letter, say, was 1000 words, could get away with 100 words in your fair usage. Shorter stuff would militate smaller percentages.

I also find it interesting that the defendant's original contract with this publisher contained an arrangement that the publisher, who assured him it was all okay, would be responsible for the costs of any plagiarism lawsuits.

Anyway, both plaintiff and defendant have wept on the stand. For different reasons, of course. I just hope that the judge who's ruling on this---it's not a jury trial---will be receptive to the rights of a creator and rule in JKR's favor.

Any other outcome would only be worthy of He Who Must Not Be Named.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nutz to the Ratz

Well, Benny the Ratz is coming to visit my town next week, and of course the media is all atwitter.

Thank all gods for Christopher Hitchens (don't we just love the delicious irony of his first name!) and the people who post to his blog:

Christopher Hitchens: What I'd Ask the Pope

If Ratzinger is not asked at every stop he makes, and in level yet firm tones, why he and the Vatican continue to shelter Cardinal Law, our profession will have shamed and disgraced itself. We already know that the Pope is a Roman Catholic. What we need to hear is his reason for giving sinecure and asylum to the man who organized and excused the rape and torture of tens of thousands of American children. And then, when he has given his first answer, we need to hear how he answers all the supplementary questions.

Oh, you bet! Like "Hey, Benny, if you could do it over, would you still have goosestepped off to join Hitler Youth, or would you have had the courage of your after-the-fact convictions and been dragged away to a concentration camp to suffer for them as a true and noble Christian martyr should?"

But no living journalist will ask him that except one of the Hamill boys, Denis or Pete, and my guy Jack Cafferty, and the city authorities will probably keep them chained up in a dank, disused subway station until Popey's visit is safely over. Rats indeed!

My favorite response by FAR on Hitchens' blog (a poster, to one of the "faithful"):

Let's see... you BELIEVE that a cosmic Jewish zombie, who is his own father, can make you live forever if you symbolically (1) eat his flesh (2) and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was tricked by a malevolent entity (3) into eating a piece of fruit from a magical tree... (etc.)... and that there is something horribly wrong with people who ARE NOT so gullible and droolingly stupid as to believe such outrageously ridiculous codswallop.

(1) or actually---depending on which particular christ-cult sect you belong to
(2) in the form of a cracker
(3) disguised [as] a talking snake... with legs

It's very wrong of me to laugh (so hard I almost unseated the laptop), because I do believe other people's spiritual beliefs must be respected (except if they involve child polygamy, priests abusing young boys, female genital mutilation, honor know the dirty laundry list as well as I do) if you want them to respect your own, but I have to say this is one of the best arguments for atheism, or at least non-Christianity, I've ever read. Give me Thor and Morrigan and Dionysus any day!