[         ]  is a badass

goodbye

This is my last post here. The new TOS is unacceptable, and I will not abide by laws which consider my existence criminal. I will be deleting and purging this journal three days from today, so on Friday, April 14th.

I can be found at this username on Dreamwidth, as has been true for several years. If I don't have you friended on DW, and I do here, it's my own mistake-- I posted a couple of months ago, asking for people's usernames over there, and then because we have a new baby I failed to do anything about that information. If I don't have you friended on DW, please do leave a comment on the entry similar to this I'm putting up at that journal, and I will friend you ASAP.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.
sparklepony only wants to read

slush as a form of meditation

The line I return to over and over about the slush pile is that all of human life is there, and I don't think I'm going to get sick of saying it. If I'm feeling particularly depressed about humanity, all I have to do is read slush for a while, and I will find something to make me feel better. Of course, if I'm feeling particularly good about humanity, all I have to do is read slush for a while, and I will find something that makes me despair for our future and, indeed, past and present as a species.

I feel as though at some point some ancient and secret confraternity of editors has codified the guidelines of slushomancy, and I hope someday they let me in on it: next year will be heavy on space squid, say, with a chance of light pastiche storms. I'm not sure you could use it to predict real events, although it certainly has about as much randomness included as any yarrow stalk or marrow bone.

There are a few trends that have become clear, of course. More fantasy than science fiction, always, always. Sad lesbians, or lesbians in romances that don't work out for one reason or another, are very in. People who write excessively effusive cover letters have frequently never learned how to use spellcheck. Every so often there will be a story I absolutely love which is simply completely wrong for the magazine, and I will have to write a very sad note reading Dear X, this is amazing, there is nothing wrong with it, I love it, have you tried a mainstream lit mag/a horror magazine/an erotica anthology? I always fear they won't believe me, is the problem with that.

Also, every so often we get actual answer stories, stories written in direct response to and in conversation with other works in the field. What fascinates me about these is which works people choose to respond to. I mean, more than fifty years on we are still getting direct replies to 'The Cold Equations'. That's a sub-genre of its own, people who object to something or other about 'The Cold Equations'. Which is fair, except that at this point I suspect it has all been done. There's that, and then responses to Ender's Game are a subgenre (one which has become more impassioned since Card proved to be... the kind of person he is), and then responses to 'The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas'.

We do occasionally get really good response stories. I'm not inherently against the idea of publishing them. But the problem with response stories is that you don't just measure their quality against your own standards, you measure them against the original, and while that isn't a horrific problem with Card or 'The Cold Equations', I feel bad for people who are directly attempting the prose style, let alone the story structuring, of Ursula K. Le Guin. Probably the best way to go prose-wise with an Omelas response would be to be as different as humanly possible, because direct comparisons are going to be odious. Unfortunately, this memo has not reached many of the writers in question.

Ah well. You can't make an Omelas without breaking a few egos.

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sparklepony only wants to read

Stuff I Edited In 2016

Last year's stories. There was, of course, a huge chunk of parental leave in there, too.

The Angel of Divine Intent, Tim Akers. SF, despite some of the trappings. My id really likes angels in an SF context, OK? Also a good story if your id doesn't, though.

This Is A Letter To My Son, K. J. Kabza. SF. SF engaging with trans issues in a way I had not seen before. This kind of story is why I find editing so rewarding. I loved every part of working with this, from getting it in my slush email onward.

Dragon-Smoked Barbeque, M. K. Hutchins. Flash fantasy. Tiny and cute.

Heroes, Lavie Tidhar. Fantasy, subgenre superhero. In the same universe as his novel The Violent Century. Led me to listen to recordings of David Bowie's legendary 1987 Reichstag concert, which was nifty.

Timothy, Philip Schweitzer. Fantasy. Technically published after I was on parental leave, except the baby hadn't come yet, so I managed to get in another set of line-edits and galleys between when the baby was supposed to arrive and when the baby actually arrived.


Goals for 2017:

-- Edit more stories-- there are three of us editors and three publishing weeks per month, plus the fall fund drive, and minus December which we take off, so the number of stories I edited should be more like eleven or twelve per year, if I can step it up. Wasn't gonna happen in 2016, though. On this front, 2016 went about as well as it could have.

-- Figure out how to promote stories and authors I've worked with in a classy manner that still manages to let people know about the work. Nominating authors for awards, while satisfying, is a back-end process that does not actually attract any more readers unless the piece is long- or shortlisted for or wins the award; must do something in addition to that. (BY THE WAY, GO READ THE K. J. KABZA. PLEASE. RIGHT NOW. I'LL WAIT.)

-- Try not to drown in melting slush.

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sparklepony only wants to read

adventures in bad poetry

[personal profile] nineweaving recently gave me John Julius Norwich's Christmas Crackers, which is a commonplace book filled with the quotations Norwich has, for many years, collected and typed out as Christmas cards and crackers (the store-bought ones don't say much interesting, usually). It's a very good commonplace book, distinguished by being funnier and more impressive than those usually get, and I am treating it as one should treat commonplace books, i.e. opening it occasionally at random, giggling, and putting it down again. In no circumstance do I intend to read it straight through, because then what would there be to boggle at when I pick it off the shelf and open it randomly in a few years or decades?

Anyway, as good commonplace books do, it collects bad poetry as well as good, and I opened it to something so thoroughly appalling that the selection has been stuck in my head for more than a week. I truly think this belongs in the annals of terrible verse with William Topaz McGonagall and Julia Ann Moore, for the comma splices if for nothing else (and there is else). I showed it to Ruth, and spent the next five minutes desperately wishing for a video camera; I really thought they were going to throw the book out of the window.

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[         ]  is a badass

this plaguey throat

I've had an appalling sore throat for about a week-- living entirely on ice cream, which is not fun despite how it sounds-- and the doctor yesterday diagnosed me with strep.

Quite annoyed about this, as I was pretty sure I was immune to strep. People all around me in my childhood would keep breaking out with it, and I never had so much as a sniffle. At one point literally half of my (tiny) elementary school class had strep, and I was not among them. Either something has changed, or it was lying in wait until it could be really nasty.

Luckily, the baby can't get it. The doctor said children of under a year old can't, which is entirely for the best.

Unluckily, this is a weekend in which multiple people I don't see often are going to be in town, and, with the exception of B, who is going to stay in our house, it looks as though I shall continue not seeing them. Sigh.

The doctor visit was kind of hilarious, actually, because it was a sick visit for me and a well visit for the baby, and he did both at the same time, which went something like this:

DR.: ... and you have such great muscle tone, yes you do, let me just turn you over onto your front, so strep is highly contagious and you should avoid large crowds, look at that neck control, wow, sit down before you fall down because you have over a degree of fever which is pretty serious in an adult, oh, hey, you are so close to being able to turn over from front to back, that's so great, no, seriously, go to bed and make whatever arrangements are necessary to stay there...

I could mostly tell which one of us he was talking to, but he never stopped using cooing-at-the-baby voice the entire time, and I'm not sure which one of us he exhorted to take care of the other at the end, or whether he genuinely meant to address it to both.

Anyway, I am feeling terrible. If you've come across anything interesting or funny or cute or at least not related to the flaming political trash-fire lately, now would be a wonderful time for a link.

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[         ]  is a badass

on growing up with refugees

Welp. It took a week for us to get to Constitutional crisis. Whoopee.

Fox is becoming a very-well-traveled baby; Ruth took them to Copley Square today to the anti-Islamophobia pro-immigration protest, and they did very well, which I was figuring they would after they coped with walking the entire route of the Womens' March with me and [personal profile] sovay last week. I stayed home today because I have a terrible cold which I do not want to spread around, though it is hard not to feel like a traitor to my nation and the cause as a result.

Oh, and though most people reading this probably already knew, this is your reminder that Uber continued driving to/from JFK last night in disregard of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance's protest strike. Uber are scabs, strikebreakers, and kleptocrats; if you have the app, delete it and tell them why.

Anyway, I look at this whole situation, and it makes me remember something.

I grew up in a community filled with refugees.

I was raised a Baha'i, though I am not one now, and the Baha'i Faith was founded in Iran in the mid-nineteenth century. Baha'is have never considered themselves to be an offshoot or sect of Islam, but the local religious and governmental authorities at the time the religion was founded saw it as a heretical sect, and therefore not subject to Islamic teachings on respecting other faiths. The early history of the Baha'is of Iran is filled with massacres, mass imprisonments, stories of judicial torture, and a few outright military skirmishes. How difficult it is to be a Baha'i in Iran has varied depending on the regime in charge, but during the eighties after the Islamic Revolution it got very bad. Baha'is were pushed out of education, out of any skilled profession, and many were, again, imprisoned, tortured, and executed. Many refugees left Iran, some with only the clothes on their backs. I met these people, growing up, both in the small Central Ohio Baha'i community, where some had come to live, and through various conferences, field trips, and so on to other regions.

I grew up with letter-writing campaigns to the U.N., with working campaigns with Amnesty International, with six styles of Persian rice at every potluck. I grew up meeting former doctors and lawyers who were now receptionists and waitstaff in a language not their own. I grew up among teenagers who were fundamentally of a different culture from their parents, among family trees filled with black holes of no data, no idea, and the other holes that came from rejection and the painful loss of treasured ties.

It was never my burden. But I saw it.

And do you know what these people, who had lost their culture, country, possessions, family, education, use of education, home, safety, and security, said to me about Islam, the religion that was continuously cited by their persecutors as the reason for doing all this to them?

They said that Islam, just like their religion, came from God, that Islam was just as valid a spiritual path as their own, and that followers of Islam were members of the human family, to be loved and cherished as family members, full stop.

Eighteen years in that community and I never heard a word of hate. That is the America that I grew up in: refugees engaged in both active resistance to and active forgiveness of their oppressors. That is my America.

Whereas these fools and cowards in this administration, who have never even had to think about walking away from their privileged lives--

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[         ]  is a badass

LJ situation

I've been crossposting to Livejournal from Dreamwidth for years now, and my username is the same on DW and LJ. I expect this situation to continue, but I reserve the right to stop LJ posting at any time, erase things, etc. If you're on Dreamwidth and I don't know your username, please do let me know, as that is the platform I will be devoting most energy to, keeping up with reading list on, etc.

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[         ]  is a badass

a Fox update

Fox is eight weeks old, or will be in about seven hours.

We are still pursuing co-lactation; for those of you who might be interested in trying it, a useful key phrase for both doctors and Google is "the Newman-Goldfarb protocol". A more detailed entry on this whole saga eventually.

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[         ]  is a badass

(no subject)

He is not my President. He will never be my President.

I have to have some kind of dream for the future. At this point, I'm basically like 'let's hope we can get through this and make a progressive future afterwards' because honestly, the world surviving seems so totally fucking unlikely that-- it's like, if every single desire I could have about the future is a pipe dream, I might as well ask for a pony, too, y'know? I have set my sights on the ludicrously good because otherwise I will stop getting out of bed in the morning, which is not, in my circumstances, acceptable.

But somebody I know committed suicide as a direct result of this election, and the descriptions of bigotry and aggression and violence are already pouring in from all over the country.

So, if it ever seems to you that I am coming down too hard on saying 'let's hope we can get through this and make a progressive future afterwards', let me know; I don't want to minimize anyone's very real pain and fear, and I see how talking about hopeful pipe dreams can look that way. Believe me, I know that people are already dying, and that more of them are going to die.

I'm wearing a visible safety pin tomorrow, and from now on, and I will do my damnedest to live up to it as a symbol of solidarity. I'm also going to write to the Republican electors, in the states where their votes aren't automatically invalidated if they vote differently from their party line, and flat-out beg them to at least throw the election to the House so we can have somebody who doesn't consider nuclear war to be on the table. I expect this to do precisely nothing, but it's something to do. And I'm signing the various petitions and whatnot in favor of abolishing the electoral college, which has now produced a winner who did not take the popular vote in two of the last five elections. I also expect this to do precisely nothing, but, again, something to do.

I think I believe right now, on a pretty deep level, that the country is over, and we're all just walking around waiting for reality to catch up.

But what I'm going to act as though I believe is the pipe dream, because fuck it, I'll be more useful to everybody else if that's what I base my actions on, the pretense of hope instead of the certainty of doom.

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[         ]  is a badass

November 2016 mixtape

One of the things I do when I'm emotionally struggling is make mixtapes. This one is an attempt to come to terms with... well, the last few days and the next few years. I've intentionally used some of the songs that radio stations and other playlists are using for the same circumstances, while also intentionally going for some obscurer tracks. Some of these songs would probably be helpful by themselves or in no order, but I was pretty careful about the order.

Link expires when it expires; let me know if you have any issues before that. Please, if you like any of these, send along some money to the artists via whatever platform seems reasonable.


We Brought Matches (11/8/2016)

35 songs, 2 hours 24 minutes, some explicit lyrics

In the 99 - Vienna Teng
Hey Ho - Tracy Grammer
Life During Wartime - Talking Heads
Warrior in Woolworths - X-Ray Spex
A Better Son/Daughter - Rilo Kiley
Believe - Run Lola Run Motion Picture Soundtrack
Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1 - Mountain Goats
Weird Friends - P. O. S.
Anthem - Leonard Cohen
The World's Not Falling Apart - Dar Williams
Tubthumping - Chumbawamba
To The Dogs Or Whoever - Josh Ritter
The Body Wins - Sarah Jaffe
That Battle Is Over - Jenny Hval
The River, The Woods - Astronautalis
Shooting Arrows At The Sky - Santigold (Catching Fire Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The Remedy (I Won't Worry) - Jason Mraz
Plea From A Cat Named Virtute - The Weakerthans
Generals - The Mynabirds
New Kicks (Long Version) - Le Tigre
No Surrender - Bruce Springsteen
Not A Crime - Gogol Bordello
First We Take Manhattan - R. E. M. covering Leonard Cohen
Chicago - Sufjan Stevens
Desénchantée - Mylène Farmer
The Future - Michael Franti & Spearhead
Fighter - Christina Aguilera
Brother Stand Beside Me - Heather Dale
Bring On The Wonder - Susan Enan
Formation - Beyoncé
Dance Apocalyptic - Janelle Monáe
Move On - ABBA
By Way Of Sorrow - Cry Cry Cry
Somebody Will - Sassafrass (Live At Vericon)
Matches - Sifu Hotman (Guante x deM atlaS x Rube)

Seriously, let me know if there are problems, I only have one computer capable of handling music files at all so I can't check very well

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