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lollardfish July 14 2014, 12:02

My tweets

rosefox July 14 2014, 06:27

"That nebulous quality of 'Readerconnishness' "

Home from Readercon. It was an excellent con and I spent most of it feeling floaty and joyful. As usual, Friday night ended with "there's still so much of the convention left!" and by midday Saturday it was "how is the convention almost over?!". It remains my most favorite convention ever.

Highlights of this year, in no particular order:

* Peter Straub very sweetly asking me to autograph his copy of Long Hidden. "Teenage me just fainted," I told him. Afterwards I actually leaned on the wall in the hotel hallway and cried happy tears.

* Lots of driving. Every time I return a rental car, I'm a little sadder than the time before. Driving is tiring but so exhilarating, even when other cars rocket around hairpin turns and nearly hit me. (Fun times. The adrenaline rush from that might have contributed a bit to the tearfulness noted above.)

* Lots of wonderful time with some of my favorite people in the world, especially grahamsleight .

* Getting to dandle [twitter.com profile] dailyjuna on my knee as we sprawled on the grass on a sunny afternoon.

* Going to a really good panel on new models for masculinity.

* So much celebration of Long Hidden! Daniel and I gave a great talk, Crossed Genres threw us a great party, and our authors gave great readings. I lost count of how many books I signed, for friends and strangers.

* A splendid room party where people drank cocktails, ate chocolate, and played Slash.

* Squeezing emilytheslayer 's hand as Ada Palmer sang about the importance of the people who make conventions happen. And [twitter.com profile] aahairsto and [twitter.com profile] djolder's performances at the Miscellany, which were glorious in entirely different ways.

* Reading my room poems aloud at the poetry open mic, and having people compliment both the poems and my reading all weekend. Also, having my mind blown by the amazingness of the open mic! Brilliant poems, brilliant reading. kythryne and [twitter.com profile] gabrielsquailia's readings especially took my breath away. tithenai was the perfect gracious welcoming emcee.

* A sleepy snuggly morning phone call with X that recalled all the best parts of our LDR days.

* Squealing and hugging with vschanoes after she won a Shirley Jackson Award.

* Kit Reed telling me that if we did a Long Hidden sequel she'd send me a story for it.

* Shoshana E. actually jumping up and down and squeeing when she realized she was talking with one of the editors of Long Hidden.

* hakamadare giving me an ice pack for my arm and beaming with the joy of being useful and helping someone feel better.

* Going to L.L. Bean with J and buying we-missed-you gifts for X.

* Watching the safety team work like a well-oiled machine. There were no major incidents, and the minor ones were quickly and smoothly handled.

* Having a friend tell me, "I ragequit the con scene several years ago because of all the harassment, but at this convention no one talked to my breasts. I'll be coming back."

* Talking with vschanoes for the entirety of the train ride home.

And now I am home, and J and I have clung to X and been clung to in return, and now I have Sam snuggled up against my arm and I am content.

As of today, I have resigned from the Readercon concom. I'll probably stay on staff in some capacity, but that's all; I'm done with that kind of exhausting volunteering for now. Of course the very first thing I did with my new civilian status was head to the registration desk to buy a membership for Readercon 26. I may be off the committee, but there are very few things that could keep me away from this convention. I was going to say that nothing could, but if X gets pregnant in October and is due in July... yeah, that would do it. Barring that sort of excitement, though, I am already very much looking forward to next year.

And seriously, I signed my book for Peter Straub. How amazing.

You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is comment count unavailable.
p_j_cleary July 13 2014, 23:55

Merry Wives of Costco Pizza

Today was a busy day, but we didn't really do much of anything.

The cat wasn't letting me sleep in today. Every time I'd drift off, she'd lick my arm or swat at my nose or just meow at me until I finally gave up and went downstairs. I tried to nap on the couch, but that wasn't much easier than sleeping, because she just followed me downstairs and annoyed me there. She's trying to kill me, I think.

When Peter got up, we decided to go to Santarpio's for pizza and hit Costco to see if there were a few things (mixed nuts, soda) that might be cheaper than at the grocery store. We didn't find anything we were looking for, but we did find some strawberries and Baby Bell Cheese and laundry supplies that were a good bargain, so it was worth renewing my membership. I also got a big package of dish towels, because the ones I have are the same ones I moved in with years ago, and they were getting really grungy. New dish towels! Being a grownup is so exciting!

We packed some sodas and snacks to go to see "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at a historic home in Beverly. It was a free production starring our friend Amy, who played Latrelle in my production of "Sordid Lives." Amy is a really great actress and a good friend, but we were both cringing at the idea of seeing Shakespeare so soon after the terrible "Macbeth" we saw at Festival a few weeks ago.

The production was set in the 1950s, and though there were things about it we didn't particularly care for (the physical comedy was definitely going for a 3 Stooges vibe, but some of the actors couldn't pull it off and it just added to the length of the production), it was a lot more fun than we expected. Amy is always delightful in anything she acts in, so it was nice to be there for her.

We're home now and resting. I've had a sore throat on one side of my neck for days now and it's not really going away, which is kind of worrisome. Also, we decided not to make any dinner since we snacked all afternoon, and now I'm hungry, so I might try to rustle up some food anyway.
sartorias July 13 2014, 23:26

Summer reading . . . Middlemarch

The occasion of this recent reread was a discussion of the book by my Jane Austen group.

As always, everyone brought different opinions to the work, and we happily discussed it for several hours, at the end of which one of the members said, "Why is this considered a classic?"

The question took me by surprise. I don't know why, since I've been asking myself that very same question about many of the so-called greats on various lists. But in my own perception, Middlemarch truly is a great novel, and I had to stop and reflect on why it maintains its place in my ever-shifting list.

The easiest start is backward that is during my long 50+ years of reading, I still think the last paragraph transcendently beautiful. On this rereading, it occurred to me that that ending caps a novel that demonstrates among many other things the heroism of kindness.

At the very beginning, the Prelude cautions the reader about women who seek greatness in a man's world, and how tragic and ineffective their lives often are. And yet the book that follows is not a lugubrious tragedy. In fact, in this reading I noticed just how much humor veins this polysemous work, not the least of which is conveyed through the trenchant irony of the narrative voice as ardent young Dorothea Brooke propels herself into a disastrous marriage while all her friends and neighbors look on, appalled.

Some of the funniest scenes in the book occur in the company of middle-aged Mrs. Cadwallader, whose sharp eyed observations about the varieties of human experience our usually spot on. She gives Dorothea's marriage to the dry, scholarly Mr. Casaubon a year before it heads for shipwreck. Celia, Dorothea's younger sister, had until that time looked up to Dorothea, but afterwards she has lost her respect for her sister; in this reading it became clear to me that Celia has a better sense of what marriage is actually about than poor Dorothea, with her high-minded determination to subordinate herself dutifully to her husband's superior mind.

In short, Dorothea discovers that her husband's mind is not superior at all, and at the same time her husband discovers there is more vexation then bliss in being married to a beautiful young lady of intelligence and integrity, because she actually expects to be a wife instead of an occasionally glimpsed private secretary.

This marriage is contrasted with the courtship and marriage of Tertius Lydgate--a forward-looking doctor--and Rosamond Vincy. These two do everything right according to the fashionable rules of society, but SPOILER TO END OF PARAGRAPH while managing to never understand the other in the slightest. Rosamond’s gentle narcissism is profoundly unsettling, the more because it is entirely believable. Who among us has not met at least one Rosamond?

Whereas Dorothea finally wakes up to all the possibilities of love, when it looks like it is too late to do anything about it, in meeting Casaubon’s volatile, idealistic young cousin Will Ladislaw. And in a stunning moment, takes the reins. SPOILER TO END OF PARAGRAPHAll along the narrative voice tells us what everyone says and does, though sometime prefacing remarks by “I think.” So it has to have been a stunning moment to Victorian audiences when Dorothea and Ladislaw kiss, and the narrative voice cannot tell us who made the first move. In other words, she, could have! This was a really big deal during a time when the fashion was for fainting, passive, tiny-footed heroines.

It is not just young marriages we get a look at. We also find ourselves involved in middle-aged marriages, and with middle-aged people who would like to marry, or had once been.

But to say that this book, unlike George Eliot's friend Mrs. Gaskell equally brilliant book Wives and Daughters, is confined to courtship and marriage would be to ignore half the book. It is also about a society in transition, and the laws of society are made by men, though women make many of the rules.

Though it is set in 1830, when medical reform was just beginning, it is surprising how much of a parallel exists today.

. . .for since professional practice chiefly consisted in giving a great many drugs, the public inferred that it might be better off with more drugs still, if they could be got cheaply, and hence swallowed large cubic measures of physic prescribed by unscrupulous ignorance . . .

To a certain extent, that sums up a problem of modern medicine, as envisioned by the mighty pharmaceuticals buzz.

The various strata of medical knowledge, ignorance, and myth provides some of the humor and some of the harrowing tragedy of the novel. Then there are the political issues, which are easy enough to draw parallels to today. What we find in this novel are men of affairs in conflict, their characters complex, their motives a mix. After asking why this book is considered a classic, the discussion group member added, “Would it be considered a classic if it had been written by a man?”

Well, shoving aside the fact that most of the old list of classics were written by men, pretty much ignoring women’s contributions, the implication that this book might be included on the list because it was written by a woman (tokenism) I think is wrong. I think if anything it is on the list in spite of having been written by a woman, but in any case, I don’t believe it could have been written by a man because though a great deal of the novel is about men, their lives, their loves, their work, and the world they have made, it is also about women.

Though there are many great male-authored novels of the period, I find for the most part that the female characters they create are stock, if not one-dimensional. Most of Dickens’ heroines are pathetically passive, suffering virginally as they wait for the hero to be awarded them at the end of his labors. Thackeray does better women, but they tend toward caricature. Trollope also does better than Dickens, but his women tend to be skewed because of his particular hobby horses.

But in Middlemarch, we get men and women who have equal agency in personal dynamics, even if women cannot work as physicians, or run for office. What the women do and think matters as much as what the men do and think.

Is it a perfect novel? I don't know that there is any such thing. This one was remarkably innovative for its time, though it was set, as so many were, forty years in the past. One has only to read the reviews as the serial came out to find out what an effect it had on its audience, many of whom did not know that a woman's hand gripped the pen.

It was written serially, which meant the early chapters were already in print when she wrote the end; though for the most part Eliot admirably avoids the coincidences and fateful-hand plottings of many of her peers, the entire third act turns on a coincidence, and I strongly suspect that had she time, she might have done a great deal of trimming, especially in the middle and latter third, to vast effect.

That said,, because the narrator can see into all hearts and minds equally, we get a close look at the costs of social deflections, religious sophistry, political maneuvering, and personal failures. And yet it is not a novel of darkness. The observations of human complexity resonate enough with real experience enough to underscore to breathtaking effect the consequences of choices made out of faith, integrity, and kindness. Choices that can change the entire courses of lives, though the moment of decision is made in quietude, and the acting on it is not hailed by the multitudes.

In short, it is a wise, compassionate, sometimes funny and sometimes harrowing look at the range of human affairs, leaving us on a note of hope, with the conviction that life as it could be is actually possible for us all. One decision at a time.
elisem July 13 2014, 22:22

ArtLog: a tease of names (the Sunday mostly-earrings edition)

not earrings:

"And Up She Went"
"Delicate Engineering"


"Alien Ice Cream"
"Another Message in a Bottle"
"Antique Water Magic"
"Ask the Sand"
"At the Tip of the World"
"Atomic Mambo"
"Butterfly Surprise Party"
"Coming Home"
"Elf Truth"
"Greeting the Visitor: a Book of Customs"
"How to Talk to Friendly Monsters"
"Memory Day"
"Nostalgia Is Not What It Used To Be"
"Plenty of Fish in the Sky, He Said"
"Preternatural Calendar"
"Three Promises and a Question"
"Under a Different Sky"
"When She Fell In Love With Science"
"The Whisper Poet"
"The Xenobiologist Retires"
"Yesterday's Sea Is in the Sky"
desperance July 13 2014, 21:43

Ping! (is the sound of a penny, dropping)

Oh, that's what I was going to do. I remember. I was going to self-indulge...

Well, why not? It's Sunday afternoon, and Required Writings have gone off in all directions, and I have nothing now to do but cook a sheep's head, only it hasn't arrived yet; so absolutely a slow glass of wine on a sunny day is an excellent choice. I will thank me for it later. *nods*
oursin July 13 2014, 20:41


Saturday breakfast rolls: brown grated apple with maple syrup and ground ginger.

Today's lunch: fillets of seabream brushed with egg and milk and coated with polenta seasoned with smoked paprika and salt, panfried in olive oil, served with cut limes; with steamed samphire with melted butter and Pink Blush tomatoes sliced and dressed with pomegranate molasses and sumac.

This week's bread: basic brown (half and half strong white and wholemeal flour) with toasted wheatgerm and sunflower seeds, a smidgen of molasses, a dash of macadamia oil. V tasty.

This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2118725.html. Please comment there using OpenID. View comment count unavailable comments.

redbird July 13 2014, 20:34

Visit with cattitude's family

I recently spent ten days or so in the Northeast: not quite a week with [personal profile] adrian_turtle in the Boston area, and then a couple of days with cattitude and his family in Niskayuna (it's near Albany, N.Y.). There was no specific connection between the two visits, but Boston and Niskayuna are a lot closer to each other than either is to Seattle; flying across the country once, and a train from Boston to Albany, seemed more feasible than two cross-country trips close together*. Adrian and I had a pleasant week together (despite the heat), without much worth posting about.

We were in Niskayuna for an informal memorial gathering for Cattitude's mother, who died in February. She hadn't wanted any sort of funeral or memorial, but at least one of her children did, so the compromise was to get people together, and go to a nearby park that she loved and talk about her, just conversation. We dressed up a little—"a little" meaning I put on a silk shirt, and some of the other women wore skirts, and my nephew Ben complained a little about his nice clothes not being comfortable, but got to keep his blue sneakers. (He'd have been happier in shorts, I think.)
cut for lengthCollapse )

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth (http://redbird.dreamwidth.org/1433679.html), where there are comment count unavailable comments. I welcome comments here or there (OpenID and "anonymous" are fine if you don't have a DW account).
cakmpls July 13 2014, 20:25

Local women who wear plus sizes (especially 1X and up)

If you have clothes you no longer wear that are in GOOD condition--our daughter Rachel has an internship at Harriet's Closet, part of the Tubman Shelter, which serves survivors of domestic violence. Many women come there with only the clothes they are wearing. Rachel helps them find something they feel good in. They need everyday clothes, as well as clothes appropriate for work and for going to court. If you have some to donate, Rachel or I will be glad to pick them up from you. Please email or private message.
oursin July 13 2014, 17:15

It's not quite a case for the Ponceyness Police...

But how much do I hate those Summer Reading this-is-the-silly-season/new-book-drought-season columns?

Today in The Observer New Review.

Yesterday in The Guardian Review.

These are always weighted heavily towards SRS new books critically-acclaimed, with a leavening of classics, either re-reads or ooops, never got to (okay, props to the couple of people who are spending the summer in Middlemarch).

No-one ever cops to intending to spend the summer re-reading some beloved series beginning to end, or relaxing their mind with the complete adventures of Miss Marple.

Hello, folks - this is the summer? this is the holidays? Kick back and chill out!

Also, what is with the 'two or three books I shall be taking away with me'? Don't any of these people read faster than that? (or maybe that's why the stodgy earnest tomes...) Not to mention, don't any of them have e-readers? I can now go away with a nice selection of reading matter ranging from Angela Brazil to the new study of the operation of the Contagious Diseases Acts in Kent and Sussex, pretty much something to suit any mood that I am likely to be in and the potential to go online and order something else should that not be case.

Also Should you finish every book you start? Why is this even a question?

This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2118616.html. Please comment there using OpenID. View comment count unavailable comments.

mechaieh July 13 2014, 14:26


For reals:
grinding out some green

Some other goings-on:

  • The 2015 Texas Poetry Calendar is now available. It includes my poem "Texas Instruments."

  • The Changeover published my essay "Accounting for Tennis Prize Money," and Sports Illustrated noticed.

  • Also now available: the 2014 Dwarf Stars anthology, which includes my poems "Even an Empty Life Can Hold Water," "Newest Amsterdam," and "Making Rice Dance."

  • Also, three rejections, the usual bug bites, half of my horses finishing third (which is useless when you're making win-place picks), and two hours in a waiting room with a TV on (but at least it was tuned to HGTV, which I find more tolerable than what's usually on). And a dress I bought just last month is not working out, but is already stained in multiple spots, so into the ragbag it went.

    But at least I figured the not-working-out on second wearing, which was a quicker scramble out of the denial swamp (aka making-do morass) than my usual wrangle with buyer's regret. Also, I won a gold medal in Green Acres (fantasy tennis tournament) and drafted a new poem on my phone while sipping a free glass of prosecco at a neighborhood bar. And now it's back to the drawing board...

    This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/86243.html.
    lollardfish July 13 2014, 12:01

    My tweets

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