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|Monday, December 2nd, 2013|
|being ill, or how I find books
Where has the last month gone? Well, to being sick. I had the flu, as near as we can figure it, before flu season really started and thus before I had even had time to consider this year's flu shot, and then it developed into bronchitis, and almost certainly walking pneumonia, and from there it has been a long while of being sick and tired and of getting better in the two-steps-forward-one-back mode.
And, which has been most annoying, I have been doing hardly any reading.
Well, by that I mean hardly any reading of the kind I mentally categorize as reading, by which I mean the kind that requires some emotional or intellectual effort or engagement. I do not mean picking up Howl's Moving Castle
, opening it to a random page, and reading from there until the end and then back to the beginning and through to wherever I picked it up. That is what I do when I am trying to figure out what I would like to read, if you see the distinction. I occasionally have to explain that to people who see me wandering around complaining that I cannot figure out what I would like to read next, because they become confused when they see that I am carrying a book which appears to be open. If I can quote more than sixty percent of a book by volume accurately, the activity of rereading it no longer takes up the same niche in my brain as reading. This is the problem with much of my comfort reading, in that it has become comfort reading at least partly because I know the book very well and so know that it will be in no way upsetting or tiring, but therefore it does not satisfy the part of my brain which would like to read something and does not have the energy.
The pile of books I have not read tends to be real reading, in that I expect I will have to put some work into those, and that they have the chance of being too much when I am ill. That is why when I wind up asking for book recommendations-- which I am not, at the moment, by the way-- I tend to ask about comfort reading. I think I have asked the internet specifically for comfort reading suggestions five or six times more frequently than I have asked for recommendations of any other sort.
Thinking about why that is led me to think about how I find books to read in the first place, and to wonder whether it is unusual, and to realize that I genuinely do not know.
When I was somewhere in that nebulous seven to ten-year-old range, I forget exactly when, I finished reading the children's section at the library we went to once a week, and moved over to the science fiction section. Two problems with this move became evident very quickly: firstly, unlike the children's section, the adult areas were liable to be full of adults, many of whom, although they did not know me in any way, felt both competent and obligated to comment on my reading choices. Some of them expressed disapproval about my being in the section in the first place, and others would assume I had gotten lost and solicitously show me back to the children's section without listening to anything I had to say on the subject. These people were far more easily put off if I had a specific book for which I was looking, so that I could calmly and purposefully walk over to it, take it, and leave the section, without any appearance of being lost or of doing something I should not be doing.
And secondly, the adult SF&F section, unlike the children's area, was full of books which were not only bad, but painfully
bad. The area started with Adams, Douglas, which was great, and then went through Adams, Richard, which was fine, and then went to Anthony, Piers, of whom there were so many that I continued on in the alphabet as I worked my way through him, except that next there was Auel, Jean, and I could not, oh god, I could not. And that was about the same time that, even though I had not yet noticed how generally terrible Piers Anthony is, I hit specific Anthony which I have never forgiven, namely his Tarot
trilogy, which has still, lo these many years later, formed my benchmark for gratuitously specific, explicit, depressing, slimy-feeling sex scenes which don't serve any purpose for the plots or characters or anything and which to a prepubescent reader were confusing to boot. (The Black Mass scene in the beginning of the third Tarot
book is my personal nomination for worst sex scene ever written. The rest of the book does not improve much.)
I tried General Fiction, which for some reason was a less hostile browsing environment for children (I have no idea why), but that had an even higher chance of being painfully bad, plus things grabbed at random tended to turn out to be depressing novels about the Holocaust or strident novels about environmentalism or deadly dull novels about adultery in upper-class Connecticut.
Obviously I needed some kind of guidebook. I had no one to talk books with in person; none of my friends read. My parents did and do read, but telling them what I was reading meant exposing myself to their judgment about whether the books were suitable for me, a judgment which might have clashed with my own. My teachers all felt that I read too much and were always telling me to put the book down and go outside
for a while, why don't you. Clearly therefore I needed a guidebook. My father had a copy of Clute's Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
, and I had also noticed that some authors who were in the children's section had catalog listings in the adult section-- and not only that, but listings in other sections entirely, such as nonfiction, which mean that some of them must surely have written books about other books. It turned out that Le Guin had. At about this time also I ran into Lovecraft's essay 'Supernatural Horror in Literature', which gets shoved randomly into anthologies of Lovecraft because it is clearly of interest to people who like his fiction.
Thus how I have located books I want to read from that day to this: I started reading criticism, and then I'd go out and read every book mentioned in the criticism. It didn't matter whether it was mentioned favorably, because it became obvious early on that critics and I differed in our opinions greatly-- bring it up as an example and I was there. This was in the days before you could get books from very far away via computerized interlibrary loan, and so I had a list of books I couldn't find, with title and author, and every time I was in a new library I'd look them all up again, which is why I spent most of the time I ought to have been seeing whether I wanted to be a prospective student at Oberlin College curled up in a terrible seventies chair reading Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year
, having ducked everyone who was trying to show me around.
No one has ever played Library Police about children in the critical theory section, mostly because no one is ever in the critical theory section. This meant I could browse. I became acquainted with some authors in an extremely roundabout fashion-- my eighth-grade teacher started sputtering when she saw me reading Nabokov's collected literary lectures, only to, for reasons I did not understand at the time, calm down when I informed her that I had never read any other Nabokov and had no particular plans to at that time. I also became what I now think of as oddly well-read, in that as it turns out there is an entire chunk of books which turn up a great deal in academic discourse but which are not widely read otherwise. For many years I had not read Jane Eyre
, but I had read Villette
. Theorists of the fantastic tend to be heavily into the Gothic, as was in his own way Lovecraft, and so I spent a while as an early teenager reading things like Vathek
and the non-Frankenstein works of Mary Shelley, and the thing is I assumed at the time that this was how people read. I had no notion both that a great many of the things that are popular don't get written up much by critics, and that many critics are engaged in a game of more-obscure-than-thou and do not expect their audience to have read oh let us say more than half of the things they cite.
Once I actually started meeting other people who read, and talking about books, I fell into a delighted network of recommendations and counter-recommendations, things everyone assumed everyone had read that I had not and vice versa. This is one reason I am very dependent on friend networks for comfort reading: critics don't write about that, or if they do they don't describe it as such and they abstract the comforting qualities under several layers of jargon. It became apparent to me that many people do not seem to have a book-recommendation network of critical theorists and reviewers. I have not finished tracking down everything ever mentioned by the critics I read when I was younger. I still keep a booklist, and when a book I am reading mentions another book I have not read I write it down, and the final phase of reading nonfiction is going through the bibliography and notes for the principle sources, for my list. I used to believe this was fairly typical, but I keep meeting people who don't work this way, and now I have no idea how common this is, or how on earth people who have neither recreational criticism nor friend networks find anything to read.
Anecdata on these points would be appreciated. It's like looking song lyrics up without Google: I know that it is possible, and in fact can vaguely recall that at one or two points in my life I engaged successfully in the activity myself, but I have no idea how it works and my brain will not at this point produce a really plausible model.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Thursday, October 31st, 2013|
|out of brain error
I have what the doctor said is either bronchitis or pneumonia or both, and since I've had bronchitis before and it didn't feel like this, well. Just finished a course of antibiotics which appear to have done precisely zip, so I get to go back to the doctor. And the whole thing evolved out of a cold I literally caught the last weekend of September; it has not been the best month.
I am so out of brain I don't even know how to describe how out of brain I am, and I have been completely unable to focus on new books, watch emotionally involving new television, etc. I've hit a point in Fez where I'm going to need to be able to do some platforming which I'm not great at in order to progress, and while I'm going to download the Sam and Max games, it's not like I haven't played them before. I am also vastly, immeasurably, incredibly bored and twitchy at how housebound I've been, but whenever I go out and do anything I get noticeably and immediately worse.
Also, being sick reminds me of how when we lived in Texas I was sick for months and months and months and it was terrible and did horrible things to my mood, so there's remembering that and worrying about how long this is going to last.
I could really use some recommendations for entertainment. To give you an idea of the sort of thing that works right now, I have Cookie Clicker open in a tab and it was perfect for a while but then it got to the point where most of what I have to do is wait around. I just finished watching season four of The Great British Bakeoff, and I've reread all the Moomin books and a large chunk of Georgette Heyer.
So I'm looking for: really, really, really
fluffy books; television which is involving but not stressing (the problem with most reality shows is that the contestants are bitchy to each other-- I tried Masterchef Junior and it was too competitive); online stuff; games which do not involve explicit physical/emotional violence or excessive physical dexterity, either for a moderately old Mac or downloadable on the Xbox Live Arcade; movies in which nothing bad happens. I do not have an ebook reader. I am too tired to knit. I am willing to throw some cash at things if it will result in something which is really occupying for a fair length of time, but I'm hoping to be well or at least better before the amount of time passes which anything that is difficult to get hold of would need to turn up in the mail-- like, next-day shipping from Amazon, reasonable; something which would need to come from, say, Britain, not so much.
Thoughts?You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Sunday, October 27th, 2013|
|of interest to persons interested in Steven Brust only
So after years of effort, I have finally gotten my wife to start reading the Dragaera books, and I gave them to her in a somewhat unorthodox order, as I wanted to see whether it would work: so far she's gone Dragon
, and is now starting The Phoenix Guards
Results to date: she likes the books a lot, and appreciates Teckla
a lot more than most people of my acquaintance, as events contained within it turn out to have been adequately foreshadowed, and its principal relationship is way, way more fleshed out than if one goes in publication order. (Which was one of my goals.) She said the tonal switch from Dragon
to books written a lot earlier was a little jarring, but doesn't seem to have had trouble assimilating the chronologically-later bits of Dragon
as flash-forward worldbuilding details. (Which was my major question-- whether that would work, or would end in Confusion Forever.)
The thing I'm not as invested in, and would therefore like to crowdsource, is that I feel The Phoenix Guards
is necessary before Phoenix
, but should I suggest
a) The Phoenix Guards
, Five Hundred Years After
, all three parts of The Viscount of Adrilanka
b) The Phoenix Guards
, Five Hundred Years After
, The Paths of the Dead
, The Lord of Castle Black
, Sethra Lavode
c) just read all the Khaavren books now and then go to Phoenix
d) same as b) except put Sethra Lavode
I can see advantages and disadvantages to all of these. Thoughts?
ETA: No spoilers in comments, please! Or ROT13 or something. She reads this journal.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013|
|Thursday, October 17th, 2013|
Earlier tonight I got to take Janelle Monae's hand when she crowd-surfed. That is all.the thing where we were locked out of my car after the concert and the keys were possibly not even in it and we had to wait an hour for a locksmith and then the keys were thank all that is holy in the back seat, I do not even care about that at this time, this is a concert during which I lost an earring I wrote a haiku for at Wiscon straight out of my ear and it was the best live show I have ever been to of any kind ever it was worth the earring I do not even care. If she is coming to your city this tour, go, go, go, she is better in person than either her recordings or her actual music videos, oh my god, go. Wow. Just... wow.
You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Saturday, October 12th, 2013|
|a little late for national coming out day
Right, I think this is the first time I'll be saying this entirely publicly.
I'm genderqueer and trans*. In an ideal world, which this is not, I would be biologically male but would dress and present basically the way I do now. The correct pronoun for me is 'they', because I have had trouble with every single pronoun I have tried but 'they' is the least troublesome. Although not by much. 'She' is the one I cope least well with at this time. All others are fair game.
I've spent a lot of time struggling with this because 'if I were really presenting as myself I would both be a dude and a bit more femme than I am now' is, well, not a common narrative. I don't talk about the whole thing much, because it's complex and painful and a thing I generally prefer to keep to offline diary-rambling, close friends, and significant others. But I do feel that coming out is important and that having a coming out day is important. I live in a world where I cannot recall the last time my same-sex marriage was a big social deal, and a lot of that is due to where I live, but the fact is that I can mention my wife to busdrivers, checkout counter people, my primary care physician, the DMV, whenever it's appropriate to mention a spouse... I haven't even gotten a look of confusion since moving back from Texas. That is a major cultural change from how it was when I was an adolescent, and one of the things sparking it was a lot of people coming out. Because of that hard work, since getting to college I have never even had to be in.
We're not there with gender identity yet. I would like the world to change that way. So. I'm going to try to be more out.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Saturday, September 7th, 2013|
|I Guess This Is A Salad Recipe
Made up this evening for me and Ruth and tilivenn
. If this isn't a salad, I don't know what to call it. Vegetarian, not vegan, probably could be made vegan relatively easily. Stealth protein.
2 red bell peppers
1 lb. fresh green beans
1 lb. tofu
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic
~3 tablespoons paprika
~teaspoon black pepper
~tablespoon salt + some other salt
Put a quantity of water sufficient to cover the beans on to boil in a medium pot. Don't salt it yet.
Wash and trim the beans. Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes.
The water should now be boiling. Blanch the beans for about 45 seconds, take them out with a slotted spoon, and drain them in a colander.
Salt the water as you would for pasta. Don't worry about it having gone green/yellow from the beans. Put the tofu cubes in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the water over them and let sit off the heat at least ten minutes.
Wash the peppers and cut into bite-sized pieces. Combine beans and peppers in a large bowl.
Peel and smash the garlic. Divide the butter into a few pieces. Put garlic, paprika, butter, black pepper, and salt into a food processor and process to form a smooth paste.
Drain the tofu through a colander and put on a plate lined with paper towels or clean dishcloths. Let it sit ten minutes if you have the patience and at least five if you don't, so it won't be watery. Add the tofu to the food processor and blend until smooth.
Scrape contents of food processor into a medium skillet, and set it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bite of raw garlic has mellowed and the paprika has toasted. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, or other seasonings if necessary-- the quantity of tofu involved means that it wants more spicing than you'd initially think.
Then scrape the sauce over the peppers and beans and stir roughly to blend. Serve immediately.
What I enjoyed about this was the combination of unctuous, warm sauce and fresh crispy vegetables, as well as it being surprisingly filling due to the stealth protein. I am pretty sure this would work with many other vegetables and many combinations of herbs and spices in the tofu. Pick what you like. It also came together reasonably fast.
Nominations for things other than 'that saladish thing' to call it cheerfully accepted.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Saturday, August 24th, 2013|
|I missed this when it first came out
but my review of Nina Allan's Spin
is up at Strange Horizons
Short version: interesting novella with really great worldbuilding centered around modern and future tech in a society directly descended from the ancient Greeks, only slightly marred by an abrupt and not-terribly-sensical ending.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Wednesday, August 14th, 2013|
|looking at my life, looking at my choices
I just remembered why I never reorganize the books.
It's not just that it's hard physical labor which is always more work and more complications than I remember being involved, and it's not just that it causes newly unshelved books to spill onto every single surface, and it's not just that organizing suddenly causes me to lose the ability to read the alphabet correctly
so that I think everything is going perfectly well until I notice I put Brust after
Bujold. That is all par for the course, and I have worked in libraries before, and that is just how these things go.
It is that my years of picking up books at garage sales and used stores and my heavy dependence on libraries as a child and to this day means that every single time I organize the books, I cannot believe what I actually turn out to own. Or not own. It is really vaguely traumatic.
I mean, we've been starting towards having kids for a while now, and if we had a kid right now I would feel that kid had the perfect right to be kind of pissy about things, because not only do I own three entire novels by Piers Anthony (relics of a misspent youth), but we own the first two books of Lloyd Alexander's Westmark
trilogy (but not the third) and the last two of the Prydain Chronicles (but not the beginning). That is just... I mean. That is not a position you put a person dependent on your bookcases in, is what I am saying.
So every time I organize the books I wind up making a list, with a heading entitled something like 'THIS IS STUPID', and then when I do have some money kicking around I go out and buy, say, the collected sonnets of H.P. Lovecraft, which is not a life decision I regret as some of them are very good and some are hilariously terrible, but.
When I look at my bookshelves in depth I end up feeling that I am both rather scatterbrained and terrible at filing, and also that we need about a third more books, by number, than we already have for things to even begin to make any sense, and where would we put them? And yet it would still be parting with the teenage moment of revelation about just how terrible Piers Anthony is, if I were to get rid of those three damn Piers Anthonys, which is at least six inches of shelf space right there.
Possibly I should just never organize anything. I am sure that would be the most efficient way to go about it.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Monday, August 12th, 2013|
Adapted from an Annie's Eats adaptation of a Cook's Illustrated recipe. The original has zucchini and yellow squash (you know, the kind exactly like zucchini except yellow), but I only eat zucchini if they are incredibly young and tiny and I have never yet had an experience that indicates that yellow squash is food. So I added more eggplant and went in a different squash direction.
12 lasagna noodles
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
scant teaspoon salt
4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (this is about two cups)
1 cup ricotta
1 cup heavy cream
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cornstarch
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
~2 1/2 lbs. eggplant, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
~1 lb. butternut squash
~3 tablespoons olive oil
12 oz. baby spinach
12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
Boil the lasagna noodles in lightly salted water for about two minutes less than the package tells you, and drain. Spread out a sheet of tinfoil or wax paper and arrange the noodles on it in a single flat layer to prevent sticking.
Mix everything listed under 'tomato sauce' together in a large bowl and set aside. Mix everything listed under 'ricotta sauce' together in a different large bowl and set aside. If you do this before the rest of your prep, the flavors will have time to mingle.
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Toss the cubes of eggplant with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Line a plate with paper towels and put a single layer of eggplant cubes on it. Microwave for ten minutes on high, stirring once in the middle. (If your microwave is the size of mine, you may have to do several batches.) The eggplant should appear dry and be a little shriveled. Make sure to dump the accumulated juices out of the original eggplant bowl and wipe it down before putting the parcooked eggplant back in it.
At my grocery, they sell halves of butternut squash-- peeled with a lathe, chopped in half, seeded, and shrinkwrapped. One of those is about right. Otherwise, you need to cut off about a pound of a squash with a cleaver and then seed it with a sharp knife. If you're butchering your own squash, don't bother peeling it at this stage. If it came pre-peeled, chop it into 1/2-inch cubes. If not, don't. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and grease it thoroughly with a neutral oil. Either scatter the squash cubes on it, or put the half on peel-side-up. Bake about twenty minutes, stirring/moving things around every so often-- how much is up to you. Since the foil is metal, the squash will heat more on the side touching it, and has the potential to caramelize, which is fine as long as it is not allowed to burn. Stirring will allow you to control the amount of caramelization. Remove squash from oven when it is about the consistency of a cucumber and can be pierced by a fork with some effort. Peel and cube it if that hasn't already happened.
Stir the eggplant and the squash together.
For years I thought I hated thyme, because it always did the thing rosemary does, where you're going along perfectly happily eating and then it stabs you in the gums. Then I spent a while working in a restaurant. The way I now manage thyme is to take one of the large woody sprigs, break off the few leaves at the very top, and then run pinched fingers from top to bottom, removing all smaller sprigs and incidental leaves. Discard larger sprig. Do the same for the smaller sprigs. The thing is, the smaller sprigs will break off in such a way that the potentially gum-stabbing bits of stem at the end stay with their leaves, which is why I then pile the leaves any-which-way on a cutting board, set the blade of a chef's knife edge-down on top of the pile, and rock the blade back and forth across the pile from tip to base without using much pressure. If you have a good knife, this will basically powder the leaves or at least chop them very finely, and it will not
chop the bits of stem you don't want, which you can then pick out. Anyway this recipe wants about a tablespoon of finely chopped thyme. (No, this does not work for rosemary. Rosemary is evil that way and simply has to be chopped into powder. Yes, a lot of restaurants have somebody low on the totem pole down in the basement chopping fresh rosemary into powder and hating the universe. Yes, I have been that person. No, I don't cook with rosemary, why do you ask?)
Put a medium skillet on the stove and heat ~3 tablespoons of olive oil on it over medium-high heat until shimmering. Err on the less is more side, here, because you don't want the eggplant to stick, but you've just gone to some effort to get the liquid out of it, and you don't want your vegetable mixture to go greasy. The eggplant will not
drink as much oil as eggplant usually does. Fry the eggplant and squash together for five to seven minutes, until the eggplant is a little more compacted and the squash is showing signs of browning if it wasn't already. Throw in the garlic and thyme and cook another thirty seconds, just until you can smell them. Take off heat and put back in the bowl. Add the pepper. (You will not need any more salt.)
Put about a teaspoon of oil in the skillet, and fry the spinach for about thirty seconds, just until it wilts. Put it in a colander or on a plate with paper towels and let it drain for about five minutes; at the end of that time squeeze it out lightly and mix it into the other vegetables.
Lightly grease a 9" by 13" baking dish, bottom and sides.
The layering order:
one cup tomato sauce, evened out with a spatula (just assume you even all the layers out with a spatula)
four lasagna noodles
half the vegetables
half the ricotta sauce
one third of the mozzarella, sprinkled evenly
four lasagna noodles
one cup tomato sauce
the other half of the vegetables
the other half of the ricotta
one third mozzarella
four lasagna noodles
the rest of the tomato sauce
the rest of the mozzarella
Cover with lightly greased foil and bake for thirty-five minutes, until bubbling. Take the foil off and bake it another ten (if it's close enough to the broiler, the cheese will brown, if not, not).
Serves a lot of hungry people. Leftovers should keep well.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Sunday, July 21st, 2013|
|Travel Diary: Tuesday, June 18th, Neuschwanstein and Munich, Bavaria, Germany
I did not sleep on the transatlantic flight from Boston-- I almost never do. My lover and traveling companion B. fortunately slept basically the entire way. I say fortunately because our plans called for him to do a lot of driving on arrival. We'd had a two-hour delay before getting off the ground and so exited the plane in Munich not into early morning cool, but into steaming nearly-noon-and-getting-hotter, which did at least do us the courtesy of being accurate about the next several hours of weather. The Munich airport is way out of town, thirty klicks from anywhere, no hurry, one of those giant major airports which is not terribly public-transport accessible and which will cost you a fortune by taxi, so we had prearranged a car. The German word for 'rental car' turns out to be 'mietwagen', which I personally am never going to manage to forget if only because it makes me feel I ought to be renting an ambulance.
The rental car people gave us a random upgrade, so on trekking our baggage down to the garage we were met by a BMW Series 5, a car which has reached such a ludicrous perfection of engineering that if I knew the right German I could probably get it to make me an omelette. It was black, and sleek, and aerodynamic, and full of random little convenient and confusing details. The included GPS came in seven languages and did nothing so crass as speak to us, preferring to project upcoming turns holographically on the interior of the drivers'-side windshield. The keys did not need to be put in the ignition-- there was no ignition to put them in-- merely left casually somewhere in the interior of the car. The thing politely turned off its own engine at short stops such as traffic lights and had more than twice the legroom of a transatlantic coach seat. The whole experience was rather like expecting a car and being met by a vaguely disdainful, although in its own way friendly, sort of panther. I was moderately worried about breathing on the paint wrong somehow.
B. has driven in many countries and did not find the concept of driving in Germany at all intimidating, so we got on the road as soon as we had spent about twenty minutes figuring out how to work the GPS, and another ten minutes and a consult with the rental people figuring out how to put the thing in drive (as opposed to turning it on-- it turned on automatically, but the question was what to do after that). I had worn my usual plane clothes, jeans and T-shirt, but it became obvious I was going to die of heat exhaustion, so I managed the classic change-in-public shimmy and got into a long skirt. This proved to be a mixed blessing later.
My first impression of the German countryside was of fields and fields of solar panels, acres of them, black and sleek and shiny as the car; and also all the other cars on the road were polished and powerful and gleaming in the sunlight. The Germans evidently prefer their highways to be neither seen nor heard, when possible, a position I understand entirely, and so despite being, for the first chunk of the drive, on the road between a major European city and its airport it took a very long time for us to pass by even one visible building. The side views were mostly solar panels, and soundproof fences, and ludicrously green fields bordered in ludicrously green trees.
Eventually we finished bypassing the Munich metropolitan area and got onto smaller roads, and then there started being small villages, all alike filled with a combination of antique whitewashed houses with red tile roofs and gleaming modern chrome topped with yet more solar panels. The local church style (more than one per village) looks, to my untrained eye, more what I would have expected of Greek Orthodox than Lutheran, and is usually on the outskirts, an extremely whitewashed tiny rectangle with one proud redtiled domed tower. Rose trellises, woodpiles several stories high in sheds attached to houses, signs for beer gardens. The farther we got into the country, the smaller the roads got, and twistier. There started to be farm equipment sharing road space, and the way dwindled down to what in the U.S. we would consider one lane, while continuing to support traffic in two directions. We passed chunks of woodland, incredibly dense in a way I've never seen a forest manage-- when we passed an exit, we might be able to see that the tree-belt between the exit and the main road was not even ten feet thick, but it would be so lush, so full of undergrowth and verdancy, that even then you could not see light through it. This gives me some idea of why the Bavarian woods are so legendary, and why it is so very easy to lose one's way in them. You could get wildly turned around in that ten-foot belt, if you could force your way through it at all.
It was so hot it was hazy, and the initially flat ground started to ripple in gentle waves. To the sides were fields full of haying, bound round bales of new hay drying and sunburned men shepherding haymows in their gentle circles. (I thought hay was an August crop, but evidently not.) The cows looked whitewashed, Disney-eyed and sleepy in the few shadows. Eventually, in the distance, blue mountains stuck against the sky like cutouts of cloud-banks. They came nearer, and the snow on top of them became more and more wildly improbable to the summer country underneath it. A bike path started up beside the road at about the time the hills got really serious, so that it had clearly been designed by and for cyclists devoted to the point of lunacy, and the villages became full of bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants as well as beer gardens, and public tourist-filled parking lots. "Der Romantische Straße", B. said, "the Romantic Highway." Romantic, yes, but highway only in the sense that it is a road and it is paved and you can put cars on it and they can putter along behind the combine tractors. Finally, another belt of flatness, green and waving like an ocean, not even trees in it, stretching for several miles into a great horseshoe bay in those mountains, which lifted straight from the flatland with no preliminaries, just the green breaking against the lowering cliff-wall. In the most dramatic possible position in the center of the flatland, one of those proud and tiny domed-tower churches, surrounded by wind in skirling wheat, a splash of lake, a few defiant little trees and nothing else; in the most dramatic possible position on the lowest spire of the back of the bay in the mountains, the flashing towers of the overlooking castle.( Cut for length. Also has some of B.'s photos.Collapse )You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Sunday, July 7th, 2013|
AARGH how do I embed an image from a Flickr account which is not mine into a DW/LJ entry I am using the HTML that the DW help page SAYS you should use to embed images and I am using the perma-URL I made Flickr cough up for the photo and it JUST WILL NOT POST do I need to make B. change his Flickr settings in some way AARGHYou can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Friday, July 5th, 2013|
My review of Clockwork Phoenix 4
, edited by Mike Allen and containing stories by many awesome people, is live at Strange Horizons
. Short version: I liked it a lot and think it is one of the major anthologies of the year. Also, I am now really looking forward to Nicole Kornher-Stace's upcoming-eventual novel, because her short story in this anthology is one of the best short stories I have read in the last few years.
I wanted to point this out because when was the last time anyone saw the U.S. government, any branch, go out of its way to do a moral and awesome thing without being asked, prompted to, or expected to by anybody? A gay married man in Florida is approved for a green card.
The relevant bit, emphasis mine: "For the last two years, the agency [Immigration and Citizenship] has kept a list of same-sex couples whose green card petitions were denied, the officials said, anticipating that the Supreme Court would eventually weigh in on DOMA. Those denials will now be reversed without couples having to present new applications, if no other issues have arisen."
Immigration is an agency that has done a lot of frankly terrible shit over the years and is still in the process of doing it. This is the best thing I have ever heard of them doing, period. I cried.
My friend Tili is trying to review all of the print nominees for this year's Hugos before Worldcon
. True, that's not before the voting deadline, but it will still be interesting for those of us who haven't managed to read all of them, and her review of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
interests me by using romance novel reading protocols a lot more than most other reviews of that book I've seen.
Recent travel journal is still forthcoming, but I lost a thing I have a(n already-past) deadline on to the vagaries of vacation internet and I have to finish reconstructing it first.
A couple of very short reviews of recent media:The Ocean at the End of the Lane
, Neil Gaiman. The reason I keep reading Gaiman is that, although my opinion of him as a novelist is basically that he is terrible at it, he visibly improves with each novel he writes, so that I keep hoping he'll write something which justifies one-tenth of the hype. Also it is interesting watching somebody improve. Anansi Boys
was a completely respectable cute little unambitious comic novel. This one is a completely respectable, quite ambitious non-comic novel! Points, Mr. Gaiman! It is the best novel he has yet written! Now if only it were doing one single thing
not already accomplished by Peter S. Beagle's Tamsin
. But hey, maybe the next one will be both this good and
contain some elements I haven't seen elsewhere. This is what progress looks like. I await his next book with interest, assuming it is not related to American Gods
, because that cosmology is too borked to sustain serious fiction. If he does another American Gods
sequel, I await his book-after-next with interest.Berberian Sound Studio
(2012), dir. Peter Strickland, starring Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco, Susanna Cappellaro, etcetera. I want to write a fuller review of this, but in case that doesn't happen for some reason: this is the best horror film I have seen since... uh, since sovay
and I watched Kaneto Shindo's Kuroneko
(1968), and the best recent horror movie I have seen since... wow, I'm not sure I've ever seen a horror film this good in the year it came out, I usually catch up to them later. SO GOOD. The premise is that the protagonist is a sound guy hired to work on what turns out to be an extremely nasty Italian giallo
movie at some point in probably the late seventies, and what follows is an amazing exploration of the uses of sound in a movie, the intersections of art with ideals, and, and this is why I am flailing happily about this, a nuanced and detailed examination of gender both in horror fiction and in the horror fiction industry
in a way which does not fall into any
of the classic tropes and cliches on the subject and in fact explicitly brings them up in order to discard them
. The fictional giallo
(almost unshown, only described) is at the same time a piece of cheesy homage fun for those of us familiar with the genre, like Argento on even more id-fuel, hilarious and nostalgic, and
so screamingly misogynistic that its content is violently distressing to everyone involved with it... except its director, its producer, and its writer. The horror in the best horror fiction is horror that is based on real life: the horror in Berberian Sound Studio
follows you right off the screen. [Note: without even any explicitly shown sexual violence. Major points for that too.] Will also show you fascinating details about sound in film in an era slightly before our own in tech, and is full of ridiculously good acting.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Monday, July 1st, 2013|
Friday July 1212:00 PM
F Of Gods and Goddesses. Richard Bowes, Lila Garrott (leader), Greer Gilman, Sandra Kasturi, Patricia A. McKillip, Sonya Taaffe.
Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light
used gods and goddesses as modern characters. Powerful, imperious, vulnerable, gods seem to be everywhere again these days. In American Gods
, Gods Behaving Badly
, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
et seq., Discord's Apple
, Going Bovine
, and other recent works, we meet familiar and unfamiliar deities who behave more often than not in recognizably human fashion rather than with a god-like dignity, power, and majesty. What draws writers to bring gods to earth and readers to the adventures in the modern world of characters as old as storytelling? And why is this trend increasing at this particular time? Proposed by Patricia A. McKillip.This is an interesting trend, especially in urban fantasy, where familiar deities from many pantheons tend to be subsumed into an unspoken-yet-evident Judeo-Christian cosmology. Also, I think this is the first time Sonya, Greer, and I have all been on a panel together? Also, McKillip! Yay!1:30 PM
VT Reading: Lila Garrott. Lila Garrott.
Lila Garrott reads an excerpt from a novel in progress.I have no idea whether I hope people will come to this. Well. Please come to this. It is my first fiction reading. Ever. Terrified is not even the word. It's a fantasy novel. I will be reading a set piece from the middle, which should be interesting without needing context. Seriously, please come. 5:00 PM
RI Readercon Classic Fiction Book Club: Tam Lin. Gwynne Garfinkle, Lila Garrott (leader), Caitlyn Paxson, Sonya Taaffe.
Pamela Dean's Tam Lin
, which reimagines the Scottish ballad as an account of young, bright Janet Carter's tumultuous time at college in the 1970s, was lauded upon its publication in 1991 and has endured as a classic since. We'll explore its resonance and relevance to present-day readers and writers in the context of real-world events that recall Janet's experiences— lengthy wars, challenges to reproductive rights, and activism and tensions on college campuses— as well as the increasing popularity of folk tale retellings.Tam Lin seems to have functioned as a reading list for a lot of fans of my generation. The number of people I know who were introduced to Christopher Fry's The Lady's Not For Burning by it is quite large. Saturday July 131:00 PM
G Authorial Metanarrative. Leah Bobet (leader), Lila Garrott, Theodora Goss, Glenn Grant, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Sonya Taaffe.
A number of authors build in subtle links between otherwise unconnected works. A link may not be something as literal as a common character or name; perhaps, instead, there's a repeated trope or event. Leah Bobet, discussing Patricia A. McKillip's works in a 2011 blog post, described this as writing "epic poetry, and the whole of [McKillip's] output is the poem." How do such links affect a reader's interpretation of or approach to a body of work, and what motivates authors to link their works together? Suggested by Leah Bobet.I've done scholarship about the way authors do this in anime and manga. Kind of hope we do talk about McKillip, too, because yes, that. Also, a lot of awesome people on this panel.6:00 PM
ME The Tropes of Tresses. E.C. Ambrose, Lila Garrott (leader), Greer Gilman, Liz Gorinsky, Veronica Schanoes.
Hair has shaped the lives and destiny of Samson in the Bible, Rapunzel (in all her iterations), and blue- and fire-haired heroines of recent YA fantasy. Hair can be a source of power, a means of communication, and a signifier of identity. Why is hair such a potent element in speculative fiction? What cultural and literary antecedents give hair its significance, and how does it connect modern SF/F with the world of religion and myth?My own hair has been blue since 2004. It's fascinating seeing how people react to that, since blue hair does not have a specific culturally defined meaning, other than 'punk', which is not how I otherwise read. This is the sort of manipulation of signifiers I would love to discuss in fiction, and which generally goes entirely unmentioned in criticism.8:00 PM
F A Most Readerconnish Miscellany. Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Lila Garrott, Andrea Hairston, John Kessel, Daniel José Older, Caitlyn Paxson, Sonya Taaffe.
C.S.E. Cooney and Mike Allen emcee an extravagant evening of music, theater, and readings to benefit the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and Operation Hammond. Bring cash or credit cards to make donations toward these very worthy organizations, all while being entertained by exquisite performers including Andrea Hairston and Pan Morigan, Daniel José Older, John Kessel, Sonya Taaffe, C.S.E. Cooney and Caitlyn Paxson, and a capella group Sassafrass. Don't miss this unforgettable event.I'm listed as shorthand for the five members of Sassafrass Boston who will be there. I'm very excited-- this is the first time Readercon has ever had performances of this kind, and it's a great honor to have been invited. We will be doing "Somebody Will".Sunday July 142:00 PM
F Stranger Danger: Secrets and Discoveries in Urban Settings. Amanda Downum, Lila Garrott (leader), Maria Dahvana Headley, Stacy Hill, Patricia A. McKillip, JoSelle Vanderhooft.
In folk stories the forest is full of dangerous secrets and the village is usually safe as houses. When the village becomes unsafe, it's because the forest has violated the sanctity of civilization, as when the wolf takes the place of Red Riding Hood's grandmother. However, a slew of recent books find their dangerous secrets within the confines of cities: the many neighborhoods in Kathleen Tierney's Blood Oranges
, the occupied city in N.K. Jemisin's The Shadowed Sun
, the monster-populated New York in Seanan McGuire's Discount Armageddon
, the gas-filled walled Seattle of Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century series. What is it about modern life that leads writers and readers to look for discovery and the unknown in cities? How do we cross the border from safety to danger when it's not marked by anything so concrete as the edge of the forest? Suggested by Josh Jasper.This year's incarnation of the traditional Cities panel looks different, fun, and interesting-- and has a very good lineup, too.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
I return from Germany and Greece and Turkey. Today will feature the joys of decoding attachments I sent to myself from someone else's iPad over wonky internet to a non-Apple device, or, let's salvage the writing I did abroad as some of it is (sigh) unavoidably over deadline. Today will also feature sitting down on this couch a lot.
Sent a fair number of people a fair number of postcards, but as the one home to my wife was the earliest sent and it hasn't got here yet, I assume no one else's have either.
Travelblogging begins tomorrow and will feature B.'s pictures. It was a lovely trip, a great way to spend our anniversary, and I miss him extremely painfully.
If anything major and/or interesting happened to you over the last two weeks and you mentioned it on the internet, it is at least even odds I did not hear about it and you may wish to drop me a comment or line if it is something you want me to know.
Readercon schedule also coming presently.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Monday, June 17th, 2013|
|upcoming trip + not quite a book review
1) B. is taking me to Germany, Greece, and Turkey for two weeks, so I'll be quite-probably-out-of-touch from tomorrow evening through the 30th. I shall send a lot of email tomorrow, as I don't know what the internet situation is going to be like. As is usual for me, I intend to keep a handwritten trip journal, which I'll type up and post when I get back. As is not usual, B. is a more than decent photographer, so I may actually have accompanying pictures for a change. Or I may not, we'll see how that turns out.
2) I had the oddest experience reading the other day. I cannot recall anything remotely like it.
I was reading the new Karen Lord, The Best of All Possible Worlds
, which I would describe as more technically accomplished than her first one but using more genre-standard materials. It's not a bad book-- what it reminds me of more than anything is Janet Kagan's Mirabile
, where you have people on another planet who are going around episodically coping with/finding out more about things from the past of the planet, although in this one the issues involve ways that human cultures have evolved over the planet's long history of settlement rather than the issues of imported plant and animal biology. As with Mirabile
, there's an overall romance plot arc, and the tone is rather soothing. Bad things happen, but this is a society composed of practical, sensible people who respect one another's boundaries most of the time and work together for solutions with as much maturity as they can muster, which makes it comfort reading. Worlds
doesn't have the nifty play-with-all-the-genes fix-it nature that Mirabile
does, but it also doesn't have the confusion and pacing issues which come from being pieced together from short stories, so that about balances out. It's more ambitious than Mirabile
, but I also cannot help but suspect that it began life as an extrapolation from situations occurring at the end of the first post-reboot Star Trek
movie, so that
about balances out.
So I was reading along, humming pleasantly to myself, going, hey, new comfort read, I shall buy this in paperback and file it next to Kagan and read it when I am very upset, and then I got very close to the end of the book, and then this happened. If you don't think she marries him you weren't paying attention at all so I don't count this as a spoiler:
"Then my semilapsed Baha'i mother insisted on a Baha'i wedding ceremony. I warned her that I was well past the age laid down by the Ministry for mandatory parental permission... Dllenahkh presented my mother with the nonobligatory bride price of a quantity of pure gold, which he'd had fashioned into the shape of a hummingbird." (p. 296)
I do not own The Best of All Possible Worlds
. I went to the trouble of copying out these three sentences with citation because, to date, in the entirety of speculative fiction, and I have read a lot
of speculative fiction, those three sentences are the only representation I have ever seen of the culture I grew up in. I was raised Baha'i.
My brain went into overdrive, then, because although this was the first mention in the book of the protagonist's mother's religion, it was not the first mention of the protagonist's mother. In an earlier encounter with the protagonist's mother, the protagonist gives her some gentle romantic advice, because the mother has switched from dating a man to trying to date the man's wife, and the daughter suggests that what they all probably want is a polyamorous triad. Which appears to turn out to be the case.
I left the Baha'i Faith, even though it is composed almost entirely of good and well-meaning people whose basic principles I generally agree with, because they do not religiously permit homosexuality or polyamory. They do not allow sex outside of marriage, and they do not allow gay marriage or marriage to more than one person. If you're gay and you can't handle marrying someone of the opposite sex, you are supposed to remain celibate. There is genuinely not any social shame attached to that in the Baha'i community, and I do mean genuinely. I never had any issues on either a personal or institutional level with any of the Baha'is being nasty to me after I came out, but it turns out that I can't handle discrimination via 'this is just how it is' any better than I can handle people being actively vicious. For one thing, one feels so much worse about how angry one gets in the former case, because the people who are discriminating against you may genuinely love you. So I left.
But they could very well have gotten around to throwing me out anyway if I hadn't, because they do throw people out if it becomes a matter of public knowledge that they have gay sex and don't intend to stop, and I went and got legally married.
So here I was sitting reading this book, and that paragraph happened, and it became a matter of deep and vital importance to me, suddenly, to figure out whether the protagonist's mother's romantic travails could be covered by that handy word 'semilapsed', or whether Lord had not sufficiently done her research... or whether Lord had, in one small paragraph, described a future in which the most painful thing about my childhood religion could, without destroying the religion's essential character, simply and gracefully change.
I spent a very long time
thinking about those three sentences. Yes, Baha'is require permission from any living biological parents in order to get married, no matter the age of the people intending to marry. So that custom is right, and the protagonist is almost certainly refusing to abide by it because it's her mother's religion, not hers, and pointing out that the rest of their culture says she doesn't have to. The religion has, therefore, maintained its customs on this other planet. (The mother very sweetly later on gives her daughter her blessing anyhow, basically 'you didn't ask but you have my permission', which is a thing I have seen Baha'i parents do in those circumstances.) (Before my own wedding, and I mean about fifteen minutes before, it was made very clear to me that, though I had not asked, I did not have my parents' permission. Which I had expected, and which I gritted my teeth and got through, and which remains one of the great uncomfortable conversations of my life.)
So far so good on research and cultural continuity. Buuuuuuuuut. The dowry thing.
Now, in the American Baha'i community, if you were born in the U.S., there's a knowledge of the way the rules of the faith work which goes about like this: there's stuff you do, which every Baha'i in the entire world does. There's stuff the Baha'is who live in Iran, where the religion comes from, do, because they were given special instructions about it. And there's stuff the large and prominent community of Iranian Baha'is in exile (because the religion is illegal in Iran) do, because they don't want to lose track of where they came from and who they were when they could live in their home country. But there's also stuff they stop doing upon leaving Iran, period.
I have never heard of a dowry exchange happening for a Baha'i marriage taking place outside Iran. The accounts I have heard of them happening at all are from Iran and from about two generations back, though I do not know enough about the current state of the Iranian Baha'i marriage customs to know whether that is still a thing. I know
the dowry rules, of course, because they were mentioned to me before coming-of-age and becoming old enough to marry, at fifteen, but they were explicitly described as a thing I would not have to do, did not have to worry about, and which would frankly be kind of weird for me to dig up. Some of us in my youth group talked about doing it in a jokey way as a jewelry gift (and making it mutual, bride to groom's parents, groom to bride's), but if anyone ever did it was kept private and I never found out. Certainly I may have missed something, but dowry really wasn't a living tradition where I came from. Can't say for sure about elsewhere.
, it is a jewelry gift, but there isn't enough information provided for me to tell whether it is meant in the sort of tone we took about it in my youth group, or for me to tell whether the protagonist's family were Iranian Baha'is living in Iran before coming to the new planet, and whether if so they'd have held on to the custom. And you do
get the dowry rules mentioned if you look up Baha'i marriage on Wikipedia or in the various standard reference books.
So I was vacillating between 'I can't tell whether Lord did the right research to know what Baha'is actually do' and 'but what if Lord fixed it
in this thought experiment, what if she imagined fixing it
', and I haven't cried that hard over a book in a while. I cried again writing this. I will probably never be able to think very hard about this without crying, because of the gift of even the possibility of imagining that that could be fixable, someday, that the protagonist's mother could be only semi-lapsed. I spent long enough banging my head against those rules that I know it isn't fixable in the here and now.
Writers, take note: this is the impact three sentences which are not plot-relevant or major character detail can have. This is how closely some of your readers will be looking at those things. And this is why it's important to do your research, and this is what we mean when we talk about representation of diversity in fiction, and this is why being represented in fiction can be so very important.
And this is why maybe you shouldn't worry too much, if you do your research as well as you can do it, and if you mean well and kindly, because as I said I was vacillating, and do you know where that vacillation stopped, between 'I don't think she really knew' and 'she fixed it'?
It came down on I don't give a fuck
, because I have that image in my head now of what it could look like if it were fixed, and I needed that so desperately I didn't know I needed it, and I would not have that in my head otherwise, and I don't know if it's intentional and what the hell ever. Seeing the culture I was raised in represented in fiction that way was just that powerful. Seeing it represented in speculation, in thoughts of its future, has helped with a wound that has been with me for decades.
Thank you, Karen Lord. I don't care whether you meant it. When I get back from Europe, I will buy the thing in hardcover.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Wednesday, June 12th, 2013|
|Sassafrass: Wow, This Kickstarter Just Keeps Amazing Me
The Sassafrass Kickstarter (here
) has been just incredible to watch. We made our goal within forty-eight hours, and we are now over double our goal, and just about every time I refresh the page there's been more action. One of the most helpful things for me in the days before Balticon, which were intensely hectic and filled with rehearsals and logistics, was hitting refresh-- in fact we made our goal during a dress rehearsal, and it was a serious boost to morale during a day which was long and in which we discovered that everybody's shoe soles had no traction whatsoever. (I went after them with sandpaper later. It is fine now.)
Which is to say: thank you. Thank you, those who have contributed; and thank you, those who have mentioned it to friends and loved ones; and thank you, those who have been so supportive and so helpful over the last while this has been running.
We still have three days left. We made the largest of our original stretch goals, but the more we make from this, the more able we will be to travel with the show, which is a) a thing we want to do and b) logistically complicated and very expensive due to the number of people and properties involved.
At the moment, money given to our Kickstarter beyond our original goals will go to the costs of our next performance of Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok, which will be (and this is definite) at Worldcon 2013 (LoneStarCon 3), in San Antonio, Texas, con dates August 29-Sept 2, 2013. If you're in the area, or if you're attending the convention from points elsewhere, come see us at Worldcon!
... and, as I mentioned, the Kickstarter has three days left and is here
be writing up Balticon. It just may be a while because I've been spending a lot of time recovering.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Sunday, June 2nd, 2013|
Last night, when gaudior
and I were sitting about with much of Sassafrass having a relaxing post-Balticon session of drinking (I will write up Balticon, when I am slightly less tired-- in short, it went well) we were talking about unwise things one can do while drunk, as one does. And I suggested drunken origami.
I did not get around to implementing this suggestion, mostly because I am kind of perfectionistic about origami and also was painting my toenails. But when I stopped paying attention to my toenails and started paying attention to other things, gaudior
showed me a quite nice origami fox mask she'd just made, and a completely reasonable origami sun. I said something along the lines of 'that's neat, did you Google the models?', and she said no, I just wanted to fold a sun, and I knew it was pointy in the following ways, so I made it up. Me: Have you ever made up an origami model before? Answer: no.
I should note here that I am the one who spent the entirety of high school perfecting my sink folds and working my way through various Robert Lang diagrams. When we make our origami Christmas tree ornaments every year, I usually do the complicated ones and gaudior
makes a lot of cranes and one or two other things she Googles.
... my wife has Drunken Master Origami.
I mean both that sun and that fox mask are actually good
Wanting to be clear on this, I said, so you just sat down and this came out? Well, she said, I also made this deformed starfish.
Fair enough. It's not a happy starfish.
So this morning, no longer drunk, she decided she wanted to make another origami sun, and sat down to try to do it again. Direct quotation: "This made so much more sense
when I was drunk!" The result was, again, deformed starfish.
She can't do it when not drunk.gaudior actually has
Drunken Master Origami. This is now officially one of the weirdest non-weapons proficiencies I have encountered in real life, and I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it.
What.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Friday, May 17th, 2013|
|Sassafrass: Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok, The Kickstarter
So, as I'm sure I've mentioned
a couple of dozen times
once or twice on this journal, I'm in a musical group called Sassafrass. We perform polyphonic vocal music, a cappella or with light accompaniment, with words and music by my dear friend Ada Palmer. We've been working together for more than twelve years.
And right now we're doing the largest project we've ever done: a musical retelling of the history of the world according to Norse mythology, from the creation of the cosmos through its destruction at Ragnarok, based on the original sources in the Eddas. This retelling, Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok
, is going to be an album, which we are in the process of recording. It's also going to be a play, which we will be performing live and in period costume as the musical guests of honor at Balticon 2013 this upcoming weekend. We've hired a video crew to film the Balticon performance and will be making that available on DVD so that people who can't make it to the convention can still see the full performance.
The music is entirely written, the play is in rehearsal, and we've got some tracks laid down. But the members of our group live in widely scattered locations around the country, and as a group which performs primarily at conventions we don't make any money from ticket sales. In addition, producing and distributing an album has associated costs, as do the filming, production, and distribution of the DVD.
Therefore, we've put up a Kickstarter
, which will be running from now until June 16th. Click through for the video of our project proposal, plus embedded audio so you can hear what the music sounds like. Samples include a duet between Odin and Loki describing their friendship and the way it fell apart, multiple versions of the Norse alphabet song, and a preview of the finale song.
The full list of reward tiers is available at the site, but I should mention that various tiers do include the CD in digital form, physical form, or both, the performance DVD, and the libretto and sheet music of the Sundown project. At higher levels, we're offering associated artwork and even the chance for a private house concert.
And if we hit $10,000, Jo Walton, Hugo and Nebula-award winning author and friend of the group, will write an Odin-themed poem set in the world of Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok
and post it for the world to see for free on her Livejournal. If we hit $14,000, Jo will write a Loki-themed followup to her Odin poem, which will be sent only to backers
. This is where I urge you to back our Kickstarter for the rather selfish reason that I want to read the poetry.
So, to reiterate: the Kickstarter is here
! And it runs until June 16th.
Here's the group's main website
And thank you for reading this.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.
|Tuesday, April 30th, 2013|
|back from Montreal; guest post at Ex Urbe
I am back from Montreal, where I had an absolutely lovely weekend. Internet access resumes as usual.
Also, I've written a guest post for Thrud over at Ex Urbe
, about a thing we did the last time we were in Rome together: A Rose for Rodrigo Borgia
. A lot of you probably already read Thrud's blog, but I highly recommend it if you don't-- very interesting insights on Italy and the Italian Renaissance, which will highly enliven your next visit to an art gallery or your understanding of Machiavelli.You can comment here or at the Dreamwidth crosspost. There are comments over there.