a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)
I was going from Needham to Dedham today (folks not in the area: from one suburb to another), and, as we were going under the I-95/Route 128 underpass, saw, in my rear view mirror, a car, quite literally, do what I can best describe as a w-turn (ie swerve left to right, twice, as if the steering wheel was being grabbed, or something), and then bonk (quite hard) into the curb. Given the speed they were going, I was quite surprised they didn't pop a tire.

Not wanting my own car to, say, get rammed into, I pulled over, let this other car (which had straightened out and was now driving too fast but was, at least, not swerving) go past me, and got 5 of the 6 license plate numbers. (It was an out of state (NJ) car, so that would be helpful, too.)

I had Calluna call the police, though unfortunately she had the rigamarole of contacting one dispatcher and then getting transferred to the right local department when using a cell phone, so the car in question was long gone once she got the right people on the phone, but she purveyed the useful information to them, anyway. (And I hadn't explained about the curb part to her, so she got to exhibit genuine surprise to the police-person about it, which I often think is a help.)

I doubt this will result in anything tangible, of course, but if it does, I might actually find out about it, given my police-log-related job. Really, it made me wonder if there was a domestic violence thing going on, so I hope the car didn't disappear into the mist.

In any case, must remember to try and notice make/model of car, too, but license plate is Useful.
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
Copying this from a comment I made on Facebook in order to have it easily accessible for future noodling. This is of course only how I experience dysphoria, not how anyone else does. The original discussion was, in part, about the extent to which dysphoria would still exist in the absence of gender stereotyping. I have made some minor edits for clarity.

I'm not "in the wrong body"; this body is very much part of me, and there are things I really like about it. But there are parts that feel stunted, like they never fully developed like they were "meant" to, and at times they ache as if they were still desperately trying to. Descriptions of phantom limbs from amputees often resonate with me. I assume this would not go away in a perfect society. It has got worse with perimenopause and seems to show some cyclical variation, so I imagine there's a hormonal factor involved.

Also, some of the parts I really like are the very ones that cause people to guess my gender wrong, and that causes a real psychological tension. I have to choose every day whether I want the cognitive dissonance of hiding those parts as if I were ashamed of them, or the cognitive dissonance of leaving them visible and being misgendered. This part would clearly improve if societal etiquette changed so that it was understood to be rude to guess someone's gender without being told, or at least rude to voice the guess.

Then there's a gender role/performative component, which expresses itself as a feeling that I'm constantly failing at "being a girl" by looking wrong, acting wrong, thinking wrong and just generally Being Wrong. This part has improved considerably since I gave myself permission to stop trying to be one, but there's a residue that would probably require societal permission to get rid of. For me, full societal recognition of nonbinary gender(s) would probably do it, but total abolition of the gender binary would also work for me (and for agender people? but maybe not for strongly binary-identified people?) Even then, there may be a biochemical component that would not disappear, because I feel the looking wrong part is linked to my bulimia, and that gets worse with certain nutritional deficiencies and could presumably still happen without sexism. Society not being so damn fat-shaming would surely help, though.

Summary: In a perfect society I'd probably still have body dysphoria and maybe a small amount of psychological discomfort. I might still define as trans because although we wouldn't be assigning gender at birth any more, I might still have self-assigned as a girl before the hormones kicked in enough for the body dysphoria to become noticeable. But I'd have much less cognitive dissonance and everyday life would be much more comfortable, so none of these issues would be the grave threats to mental health that they are now.
25 March 2017 10:12 - On this day in 1911
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Enjoy this preview of what working life will be like in the US once the Republicans strip workers of every legal protection.

rosefox: A person in a gas mask. (illness)
That cold virus has gone through our house like wildfire. Kit was slightly warm for a day and then fine, but it knocked the rest of us out for a week or two each. Apparently this is just going to be our new normal, according to other parents of daycare-age kids. It hit me first and hardest; I managed to keep my bout of it from turning into a sinus infection, but only barely, and my voice was impressively low for a while. J got over it fairly quickly, and X is mostly past the worst but still pretty soggy.

The February-like weather has helped nothing. We've had to keep the heat on pretty high, and that dries the air out, and that plus mouth-breathing because of stuffy noses has been just dreadful. We're cranking all our humidifiers and drinking gallons of water. I even got a bout of February-like depression, which totally missed me (and I did not miss) in actual February. But this weekend looks to be the start of a warmer, wetter stretch, so hopefully that will make everything better. I am putting considerable effort into planning a Brooklyn Botanic Gardens trip in mid-April with [twitter.com profile] saraeileen and maybe [livejournal.com profile] vschanoes and their babies, because all I want right now is to be sprawled on the grass under the cherry trees and if I can't have it right at this moment then I will make very sure I get it as soon as possible. Spriiiiiiing, I neeeeeeed it.

I went up to Hunter today to do live-action Story Hospital with a group of teens I hadn't met before. It was amazing and great and emotionally exhausting. I came home so wiped out that after dinner I took a 90-minute nap on the couch—from 10:30 to midnight, not exactly prime napping time—because I was genuinely too tired to get up and go to bed. That is absurd. Of course then the nap wired me up, so I took the trash out and started laundry and did the dishes and took a shower and now it's 4 a.m. and I ought to go to bed for real. I hope writing this entry will help wind me down.

My day job workload is going to be decreasing after next week (YAY), and I plan to put all those hours toward sleep. That will help.

Kit's body continues to think it's older than it is. In addition to being the height and weight of a two-year-old, they've got the teeth of a two-year-old. All eight incisors and three of the four first molars are in, and their lower canines just cut through, which apparently hurts a whole lot. Poor sad bean. :( But ideally this accelerated teething schedule will mean they get all their teeth in quickly and then they can just enjoy having them.

I got new glasses and they keep feeling like they don't sit on my face quite right, even though I've had them adjusted several times at different shops. Maybe I just need to get used to them. They've got plastic frames and I think the last time I wore glasses with plastic frames was close to 20 years ago. I do really like the way they look. The neighborhood eyeglass shop where I got them completely messed up my beloved prescription sunglasses, so sometime this weekend or next week I need to go shake them down for not only a refund of the lenses (which make my eyes physically hurt, and made me dizzy when I switched back to my regular glasses) but the cost of replacing the frames, which they managed to warp while trying to fit the lenses in. So much for patronizing my little local business.

When I was sick I missed my regular manicure appointment and went a full 2.5 weeks without a manicure, but I didn't bite or break my nails; I was very proud. This week I had them done up in H&M's Wildwood polish, which is my perfect green, and have been wearing green clothes that match them exactly and feeling excessively stylish. Alas, the polish has already been discontinued, so I will cherish this bottle of it and try to find the right balance between not using it all up right away and not letting it sit so long that it becomes unusable.

I think I have wound down, finally. Time to refill the humidifier and get a great deal of sleep.
24 March 2017 23:45
coraline: (Default)
instant pot recipe of the evening: chicken and rice

the important proportions bits:
2 medium onions
6 cloves of garlic (pressure-cooked garlic is almost imperceptible -- next time i'll put the whole head in)
slices of raw ginger
olive oil

2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
2 cups diced celery and carrot

2 cups medium-grain brown rice (nishiki brand)
3 cups liquid (i used vegetable broth)
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

black pepper, thyme, 2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce

sautee the onions with the garlic and ginger in the instant pot.
deglaze the pan with the broth, and add everything but the chicken and stir.
put the chicken on top, and pressure cook (manual / high) for 25m. fast-release.

next time I think I'd add a little sushi vinegar or something, it wanted some acidity. definitely a recipe that you could flavor in all sorts of ways, but the chicken was perfectly cooked and so was the rice, so i'll keep the liquid ratio.
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
So, look, all sorts of things are wrong with the world right now and I'm sure tomorrow will add to their list, but the Republicans' much-vaunted, stupidly cruel "American Health Care Act" went the way of the Hindenburg this afternoon (I have been saying to people that I can't even admit to feeling schadenfreude, because I don't feel at all bad about rejoicing in this misfortune of 45 and his administration) and [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks and I made sesame candy from a cup of toasted sesame seeds, a half-cup of jaggery, and a tablespoon of butter with results that were almost indistinguishable from the storebought (there was a faint smokiness that we will eliminate next time by crushing more of the jaggery first so that it doesn't have to spend as much time over the heat melting) and I found one of those things on Tumblr that makes me basically happy, in this case people discussing seriously which of the various Powell and Pressburger incarnations of Roger Livesey is hottest (I saw him first as Torquil, but I do like Frank) and it's been a very long week and I'll take the good things I can get, but the failure of the ACA repeal is a very good one.
pantryslut: (Default)
Still reading "The Lost Time Accidents." We have moved past WWI and into WWII, and yes, thank you, the resonances with our current political climate are present, if mostly backgrounded. The more obvious SF jokes/references (writer "Orson Card Tolliver," the "Church of Synchronology") are a little distracting, and bound to be more so as we head toward more contemporary times, but so far it's at a tolerable level.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
My gaming group is starting a new campaign using Mage. I had been thinking of a martial artist but someone else wants to play a wuxia character. Now I am thinking of maybe going in a Doctor Thirteen direction: a parapsychologist who has never investigated a claim of magic where it wasn't a fraud, even back in the days when it was him, his three friends and the talking dog tooling around in a crappy van.

I am thinking the two schools of magic he can do are Prime (specifically dispel magic) and Life (with a major in talking to animals).

If he was a teen in 1969, he's in his sixties now? But I see him as unusually well-preserved. All that running from "monsters" is excellent cardio.
24 March 2017 11:41 - Cool Stuff Friday
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

…and then the Fridays began.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

yhlee: Alto clef and whole note (middle C). (alto clef)
I am going to LISTEN TO THINGS and FIGURE OUT PERCUSSION if it kills me. Thank you so much, iTunes Shuffle!

ObDisclaimer: Just my opinions, I have no music degree, this is me analyzing music for my own benefit and I don't claim this will make sense to anyone else, comments/criticisms welcome.

Read more... )
23 March 2017 16:05 - "Ninefox March" working notes
yhlee: Alto clef and whole note (middle C). (alto clef)
I'm putting this behind a cut because I'm guessing composing/MIDI sequencing working notes will bore most of y'all. ;) OTOH, this is an easy way to keep track of what I'm doing!

BTW, I will never get tired of the rainbow the LEDs on the Komplete Kontrol S88 makes when you turn it on. I am easily distracted?

Read more... )
sovay: (Rotwang)
Last night I dreamed that I dropped by the library to return a book and found [livejournal.com profile] ashlyme and their presumably fictitious writing group hanging out around a table near the science fiction section; I talked plot with people, read some scenes of stories (the young man with Gullah heritage was writing a kind of supernatural mystery inspired by the life of his grandmother the root doctor, please tell me this exists somewhere), and then left the library to meet up with my parents for dinner, at which point I discovered that I had lost an entire day. Twenty-four hours to the minute had passed between my entering and leaving the library. My internal clock thought about an hour, two hours tops. Nothing worse seemed to have happened to me than lost time, but no one remembered seeing me or the writing group, even when I could point to the very table which was now empty of writers, laptops, backpacks, and sodas, but otherwise unremarkable-looking. The only evidence of my presence was the no longer overdue book, which could have been dropped through the return slot after hours. I had neither eaten nor drunk anything during my time in the library and I remember very seriously establishing this fact with my parents, because it seemed likely to be the only reason that I had been able to leave. "Were they in a circle?" [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel asked after I related the dream to him. "It was a round table," I had to agree. Congratulations, Ashlyme! My brain interprets your mere presence as shorthand for Faerie.

Some things—

1. I am reading William Lindsay Gresham's Nightmare Alley (1946). I didn't realize until I saw the dedication "To Joy Davidman" that I knew him by reputation—and not as a writer—the part of Davidman's story that she left behind when she moved to England to live near C.S. Lewis in 1953. In which case he really was as much of a personal disaster area as the foreword by Nick Tosches suggests, but he could write. The epigraphs are taken from Eliot's The Waste Land (1922) and Petronius' Satyricon. The table of contents is a Tarot reading, each chapter a card of the Major Arcana introducing a particular character or signaling a significant event: "The Fool who walks in motley, with his eyes closed, over a precipice at the end of the world . . . The High Priestess. Queen of borrowed light who guards a shrine between the pillars Night and Day . . . The World. Within a circling garland a girl dances; the beasts of the Apocalypse look on." Tosches credits Gresham with introducing a number of carny terms into popular culture, including "geek," "cold reading," and "spook racket." I want to get my OED out of storage and double-check all of these assertions, but it is true that the novel's initial setting of a traveling ten-in-one show feels like a worthy successor to Tod Browning's Freaks (1932) and forerunner of Theodore Sturgeon's The Dreaming Jewels (1950), evocative, sympathetic, and unsentimental in its details of carny life. It gets all the slang right that I can see: talker, spiel, gaffed, "Hey, Rube!" I'm aware the whole thing will eventually turn to horror—the 1947 film adaptation starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell is supposed to rank among the sleaziest and bleakest of the first-generation noirs—but at the moment we are still getting passages like this:

Evansburg, Morristown, Linklater, Cooley Mills, Ocheketawney, Bale City, Boeotia, Sanders Falls, Newbridge.

Coming: Ackerman-Zorbaugh Monster Shows. Auspices Tall Cedars of Zion, Caldwell Community Chest, Pioneer Daughters of Clay County, Kallakie Volunteer Fire Department, Loyal Order of Bison.

Dust when it was dry. Mud when it was rainy. Swearing, steaming, sweating, scheming, bribing, bellowing, cheating, the carny went its way. It came like a pillar of fire by night, bringing excitement and new things into the drowsy towns—lights and noise and the chance to win an Indian blanket, to ride on the ferris wheel, to see the wild man who fondles those rep-tiles as a mother would fondle her babes. Then it vanished in the night, leaving the trodden grass of the field and the debris of popcorn boxes and rusting tin ice-cream spoons to show where it had been.

Among its descendants, then, perhaps include also Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962).

2. Somehow despite falling in love (like most of the internet) with Miike Snow and Ninian Doff's "Genghis Khan" (2016) last spring, I had failed to realize that the same cast and crew had reunited later in the year for a second video: "My Trigger." Like its predecessor, it has a terrific poster. I am very fond of its disclaimer.

3. Please enjoy Emily Sernaker's "Lawrence Ferlinghetti Is Alive!" I had no idea that was true and this poem was a nice way to find out.
23 March 2017 12:52 - two last icons!
swan_tower: (Default)

I realized recently that not only do I not have an icon for Within the Sanctuary of Wings, I don’t have one for In the Labyrinth of Drakes, either.

So! I have two ARCs of Sanctuary to offer in exchange for people making me pretty icons out of the cover art for those books. You can find the full images for Labyrinth here and Sanctuary here. The icons need to be 100×100 pixels and contain the titles of the books; beyond that, arrange ’em however you like. I’ll pick two recips out of everyone who sends me an icon — so if you want the book early, fire up your mouse!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Shadowshaper Cover ArtI continue to snag books out of my son’s Scholastic book order forms. One of the latest was Shadowshaper [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], by Daniel José Older. It’s an enjoyable, relatively quick read. Here’s the summary:

Sierra Santiago planned to have an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears… Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.

With the help of a mysterious fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one — and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family’s past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for herself and generations to come.

The “About the Author” section notes that Older lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, which is where the book takes place, and it shows. Sierra’s world feels real and fully developed, populated with interesting people and places. It’s a far cry from some of the generic pseudo-New York settings you sometimes get.

I love the concept of shadowshaping, the way the magic works as a collaboration between spirits and shadowshaper, and the possibilities of that power. One of my favorite scenes was watching Sierra discovering what she could do with a simple piece of chalk.

Sierra and the rest of the cast are great, all with their own personalities and flaws and conflicts. They feel like real people…it’s just that some of them can bring their artwork to life.

My only complaint is that the villain felt a bit flat and obvious. But the ideas behind that villain, the theme of the privileged cultural outsider barging in and making a mess of things, are totally valid and powerful. I wouldn’t want that to change; I just would have liked to see a little more depth to them.

And kudos for the awesome librarian.

I’ve seen a number of reviews praising the diversity in the book. On the one hand, I do think that’s worth recognizing, and I definitely appreciated it. On the other… I don’t know. I wish we could reach a point where we don’t have to praise authors for showing the world the way it is, and could instead just note when authors fail to portray a realistically diverse world. Does that make sense? I dunno…probably something that needs a longer blog post to unpack.

Anyway, to wrap this up, the ending was lovely and made me eager to read Shadowhouse Fall, which comes out in September of this year.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

23 March 2017 09:00 - Bitter Tears
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

The only light in the apartment came from the streelights and the bluish glow of the numbers on the VCR. I could see no colors at all.

A few feet away, Ziggy slept in the grand centerpiece bed, under a snow white duvet, his closed, lined eyes and tousled dark hair like slashes of urgent calligraphy.

I didn’t want to wake him. But I knew I shouldn’t just stand there at the window having a downward spiral, either.

Read the rest of this entry » )
sovay: (Sydney Carton)
This is the second day in a row I have slept between eight and twelve hours and I am desperately trying not to jinx it. I'm not thrilled about the part where I am having nothing but very obvious nightmares and where actually sleeping seems to leave me without much time for anything but work, but I still figure it's healthy for me. Tonight [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel and I had plans to see Oliver Hirschbiegel's Downfall (Der Untergang, 2004) at the Somerville Theatre, but instead we made Slightly More Authentic Chicken Saag and headed into Harvard Square to pick up some books I had ordered from the Harvard Book Store during last week's snow day, in the course of which I managed two acquire two more used pulp novels and we did not freeze to death despite the wind's best efforts. I came home to discover that Felled (formerly Moss of Moonlight) have just released their debut EP Bonefire Grit. I am glad that everyone I know in London seems to be all right. I feel like I have lost the ability to write about anything, but I think mostly what I've lost is time and rest. I'm trying to make up the latter. Admittedly I have been trying to make up the latter for decades now, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the effort.
swan_tower: (natural history)

It isn’t nice to taunt . . . and you still have nearly five weeks to wait before the novel itself can be in your hands. But if you need your appetite whetted just that little bit more, Tor has posted the first chapter of Within the Sanctuary of Wings.

April 25th. If you think you’re chewing your fingernails off, know that mine went away months ago!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

22 March 2017 14:41 - [ObMeme] icon conversation
yhlee: Yuri on Ice: Victor (animated) (YoI: Victor)
How it works: Have a conversation (or several) by using your icons.

Animated Victor will start us off!

(Hi in real life I'm working on Revenant Gun revisions I swear)
22 March 2017 11:40 - PSA
yhlee: M31 galaxy (M31)
I'll be on Reddit's r/Fantasy on March 30 for an AMA (Ask Me Anything). You’ll need a Reddit account to participate. There’s a guide to the process here. I'm in CST but the format should accommodate multiple time zones. I'd love it if some of y'all showed up. ^_^

(I'll post a reminder on the day itself.)

There are examples of past AMAs with a staggering variety of sf/f authors, which make for some fun reading if you need a time-killer. =)

Okay, back to final revisions on Revenant Gun!
22 March 2017 11:24 - Check my math
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Behind a cut, because student suicide is an upsetting topic for some people.

Read more... )
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)
Overheard tonight on the bus to Davis Square, two teenagers giggling behind me:

"Little mushrooms growing out of your skull . . . Eat a huge meal and then just go up on the roof and die."

Until I get evidence otherwise, I'm holding Caitlín R. Kiernan responsible.

(And if you're in the Boston area and missed her appearance at Porter Square Books on Monday, you can come to Pandemonium Books & Games on Thursday and find out why.)
wcg: (Default)
I've been reading The Skimm for about a month now. It's a nice "first look" at the day's news, and it catches some things that I don't get in my Early Bird updates. If that's something that looks interesting to you, give it a try.

21 March 2017 09:00 - The Dream Is Still Alive
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

By the time Linn was done, every member of the band and all the dancers had some electric blue in their hair. So did Mickey, the stage manager.

Mickey was one of those guys who was going both bald and gray but that didn’t stop him from putting his hair in a pony tail. One time back at the office I’d heard his response to the suggestion that he cut it: “What, I should look like some old guy?”

Read the rest of this entry » )
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)

2 parts vanilla almond milk to 1 part coconut milk, brought to just-under-hot temperatures, and blended with 2 teaspoons Dutch-processed cocoa and 1 teaspoon sugar.

Creamy, nutty bittersweet-cocoa goodness with no upset stomach.

I should add, since I've discovered that some people don't know this, that when you make hot cocoa, you don't just pour the liquid into the cocoa (or stir the cocoa into the liquid). That gives you a lumpy mess.

Take a spoonful or three of the liquid, and mix it with the cocoa in your mug or pot until you get a thick paste. THEN you add the rest of the liquid!

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

The Book Smugglers are hosting the cover reveal for my next book, Terminal Alliance. While you’re admiring Dan Dos Santos‘ artwork, you can also enter to win an autographed copy of one of my published books!

I’m really happy with this one. I think it captures the feel of the book, and Dos Santos had a marvelous take on the ship’s computer tech Gromgimsidalgak (Grom) — that’s the yellow alien on the right.

The book comes out on November 7. But, of course, you can preorder any time you like! 😉

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

20 March 2017 07:54 - PSA for March 20th
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
Just remember, folk: it may be the first day of spring, but outdoor snogging does not begin until May 1st!

20 March 2017 10:23 - Huzzah
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Grand River Transit strike averted.

It's a 6.6 km walk to work and a bit less than 4 to Jasmine's place.
sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
God damn it, I do not have time to write as I would like about the Actors' Shakespeare Project's Edward II, which I just got back from seeing with my cousins and [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving, but it was wonderful. I did not know until we were leaving that director David R. Gammons was responsible for the stunning Duchess of Malfi that introduced me to the ASP in 2009, but I had started to wonder in the second act based strictly on the staging and lighting. His director's note is worth reading. I am sorry only that I cannot send everyone I know to see it because tonight was the last show of the run. This is worse than my usual problem of reviewing the second-to-last performance. It was a dense and beautiful production; I might as well have some record of it.

You walk into the black box of the Charlestown Working Theater and you find yourself in the fantasia of a bathhouse: shower-white tile and undressed brick, plastic curtains and graffiti, the private subterranean space where a man can meet another man and kiss him full on the mouth in the knowledge that no one will try to kill them for it. (Other things may—the wall over the toilet is scrawled "SILENCE = DEATH" and the wall behind the audience bears the white-on-black legend "UNDIQUE MORS EST"—Death is everywhere. The play is not anchored to the 1980's, but they set much of the tone.) Steam drifts by from the fog machine. There is often a sound of water when there is not the echo of music. By low incandescence it's intimate, by fluorescence it's grody, it takes on a dance-club aura when suffused pink or purple and when the lights fall to warning red it's a bomb shelter. There is a catwalk above and a ladder going up a far wall. There is a tin bath. There is the royal throne, a plain gold chair with a crimson cushion. In that last piece of dressing lies the trick and the tragedy of this bathhouse: it is not a secret or a safe space, because Edward is the king of England. Nowhere he goes is truly private. Nothing he does is in isolation from his realm. His reunion with the recalled Gaveston is a slow, urgent, athletic dance, powerfully expressive of the chemistry and the affection between them, culminating in the transgressive sight of the low-born Gaveston with his feet tucked up on the throne like a cat in its favorite armchair, the gift of his king's great ring hanging about his throat, his slim body swathed in the black-and-gold brocade of Edward's robe. They cuddle and Gaveston snaps on the TV; a music video washes soundlessly across the tiled wall. They could be any harried but happy couple, hiding away from the world in each other's arms. They look at each other like no one else exists. They were watched from the catwalk by the disapproving Earl of Lancaster and now he confers with ambitious, malicious Mortimer, sourly cataloguing the titles and honors that the king is lavishing on his "minion" while letting the rest of the country go hang. Especially because this production treats their relationship as true romance, I appreciated it also recognizing that the reality of their love does not constitute an excuse for Edward's shirking of his political responsibilities or his callous treatment of his queen Isabella, whose love for him was just as real and powerful and painfully unrequited. The play isn't a tragedy because Edward is queer. It's a tragedy because he's a king and he's so bad at it. His lover is just how his enemies get in.

My only other point of comparison for this play is Derek Jarman's Edward II (1991), so I am happy to report that Gammons' production is very much its own thing, although I love how the director signals that he is perfectly aware of the career of Saint Derek of Dungeness of the Order of Celluloid Knights—the music videos playing silently as Gaveston and Edward snuggle and Mortimer and Lancaster plot are the Pet Shop Boys' "Rent" (I love you—you pay my rent) and the Smiths' "Ask" (If there's something you'd like to try, ask me—I won't say no, how could I?), both shot by Jarman.1 Both comment, of course, on the problem of Gaveston: it is one thing to dress a mistress with jewels, it's another to give a base-born man more rights and powers than any nobleman in the land. Eddie Shields' Gaveston shows little inclination to abuse his privileges for personal gain—though he pronounces my knee shall bow to none but to the king with provocative pride, on receiving his invitation to "share the kingdom" with the newly crowned Edward he imagines mostly that he will organize masques, dances, and music for his lover's delight—but the class-crossing is insult enough. Of course, it does not help in the eyes of hard men like Edward's earls that Gaveston is a pretty man, slinky, snarky, and just a little bit of a bitch, with a conscious, flirtatious boyishness. He makes his first appearance naked, rising from his bath to drape himself in a strategic towel and dream of Edward. He knots the rich brocade of his sovereign's robe around his waist and it trails behind him in a more queenly train than Isabella's own gowns; he returns from exile in gilt stiletto heels and a sashaying, feather-trimmed coat open to show the ring that hangs against his chest and the light trail of fur that leads down into his tight black trousers. Maurice Emmanuel Parent's Edward can lift him outright in his arms, nuzzle him and flip the smaller man's weight around his shoulders like a swing dancer; part of what makes their relationship both believable and heartbreaking is their playfulness as well as their passion with one another, three-dimensional groundwork for Edward's maddening grief on his lover's loss. He too is a beautiful man—a beautiful Black man in a production where he is not the only actor of color—and also seen naked, though in the much more poignant circumstances of his imprisonment, crouched in the same tin bath where Gaveston woke, convulsively, from a bad dream that might have been a premonition in the first seconds of the play—and encompasses easily the difficult sympathy of a character whose decisions are almost all terrible and whom the audience still wants to see happy. His final scene was even more moving than I had hoped from realizing who would share the stage with him for it.

But all the cast are good. There are eight of them, condensed and doubled from Marlowe's thirtyish speaking parts. The rebellious barons become a pair of conspirators, Nigel Gore's Lancaster and Alex Pollock's Mortimer; the former carries himself with disgusted, soldierly efficiency while the latter is a pallid skinhead in black biker leathers, drawing out his creepily amused delivery and off-kilter swagger past the point of grotesquerie yet never losing his grasp on the verse, which is probably what saved him for me as an interpretation. (Whistling "YMCA" before the killing of Gaveston was almost a clockwork orange too far for me. The way he rattled off his Latin with a niceness all out of keeping with the rest of his persona may have brought him back.) Both bring knives openly into Edward's otherwise unarmed court. Watching the blades change hands among the cast, the audience can track each character's potential for violence, though not necessarily their chances of success. Moving with great dignity in her antique dress, Jennie Israel's Isabella turns against her husband only slowly, driven by the increasing cruelty of his rejections and the need to protect her son—the future Edward III, played by David J. Castillo as a lanky, raspberry-haired teenager who would much rather lie up in the loft and listen to post-punk than have to witness his horrifying family drama—from the political storm she herself will not escape. Stewart Evan Smith makes a cocky, competent Spencer, with a wonderful stunned expression when kissed suddenly by his king in a defiant assertion of sexual and political identity, and Nile Hawver succeeded in making me feel for traitorous, hesitating Kent, who really does love his brother the king and really does care about the welfare of his country and by throwing in his lot with Lancaster and Mortimer absolutely guarantees his inability to protect either one of them. (The actor had fantastic hair, manga mad scientist quality; I liked that he looked good in the SS-ish black leather trenchcoat that he donned after betraying his brother and looked really uncomfortable about looking good in it. His total failure to make amends in the second act constituted an unexpected miniature tragic arc of its own.) I enjoyed how often all of them were allowed to shift registers, sometimes naturalistic, sometimes highly stylized, often some mix of the two; a particularly striking scene in the second act had the young Edward—as yet uncrowned, his father still in the Tower instead of his grave—pinned in the empty shaft of spotlight where the throne should have stood, twisting with nightmare slowness from his implacable mother to his desperate uncle to his mother's grinning lover, searching for truth, searching for security, finding nothing. I should have remembered this director's eye for compositions. One of the highlights of the first act was the unspeakably awkward welcome-home party for Gaveston, complete with decorated cake, nervously held mylar balloons, and boldly designed, impressively passive-aggressive shield devices. The concluding image of the play was not Jarman's, but it was Jarman-worthy, gilding and ambiguity and all.

And I cannot get out of this post without mentioning that this Edward II had the best music of any stage production I've seen in a long time. The first song playing as the house opened was the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?" (You shut your mouth—how can you say I go about things the wrong way? I am human and I need to be loved just like everybody else does.) At different points I heard Joy Division's "Transmission" (We would go on as though nothing was wrong and hide from the days to remain all alone) and Killing Joke's "The Wait" (Motives changing day to day, the fire increases, mass decay). The second act came up on Pylon's "Cool" with its scratchy, flourishy guitar riff, its bassline thrumming nervously in the aftermath of Gaveston's murder. The cast took their bows to the Smiths' "Panic" (also filmed by Jarman), which I can only assume was an in-joke because I did not want to hang the DJ, I wanted to find them and thank them because I have never before heard that many songs I liked and recognized in a stage production unless it was a musical. If anybody knows the piece which accompanied Edward and Gaveston's lovemaking and reunion, please tell me; I think it had some of the Song of Songs in its lyrics, but I had never heard it before. [edit] Nineweaving found it: David Lang's "Just (After Song of Songs)." It's nice to know I heard the allusion correctly.

Right. This is less than I wanted, but longer than I intended. Next time I see David R. Gammons' name on a production, I should just get tickets whatever it is. I hope it's something as infrequently performed and rewarding as The Duchess of Malfi or Edward II. I am going to bed. I almost tagged this post for Patreon.

1. In the process of checking that I had remembered his canonization correctly, I discovered that Derek Jarman actually thought about making a film about Alan Turing and I was then distracted by furious grieving. Do you have any idea how much I would have wanted to see that? I start wondering who he would have cast as Alan; I wonder if he would have cast Kevin Collins as Christopher. (Or as Arnold Murray? Double-cast? I saw a production of Breaking the Code that did that and it worked. I wonder if Tilda Swinton would have played Turing's mother.) I could see him treating the codes and mathematics as elliptically and understandably as the philosophy in Wittgenstein (1993). I don't know what he would have come up with for Turing that was as left-field as the Martian in Wittgenstein, but I know it would have worked. Even if he had just written the script, I would have wanted it. Fuck you, AIDS. Current administration, I can't believe you're making Reagan look good by comparison; he doesn't deserve to.
omnia_mutantur: (Default)
 Once again, stoned on my migraine meds.  Full of the best intentions, Abundance and I ran a bunch of errands, and then he went off to an Ostara ritual, Light went off to his date and realizing my complete lack of desire to take my sunglasses off was in fact because I was having a migraine.

I'm still really bad at as-needed medication, I always imagine that I'm just being dramatic, that there's something much worse around the corner and this is just a headache, just a little bit of distress, and I shouldn''t get used to the relief because if I avail myself too often, it'll stop working or I'll need it all the time or something.

I think I'm quitting my job after we get back from vacation.  I'm never going to look back at my life and think "I really wish I'd spent more time at the Beast."  I may not be able to figure out what I want to do, I may cringe a little inside every time I can't keep myself from crying, I may fear that I'll never get another job because I give horrible interview, I may not even be able to talk about it here, it feels like too much privilege, too much dependence, too much weakness.  But I think I'm going to try this, get a wrist tattoo, get a dog, see if going to the gym regularly has any effect on my mood or my sleep habits.   For a little while, at least.

And just typing this makes me cry, again, but I also can't feel my cheeks (that's the imitrex), I dropped off Niecelet's cross-stitch (the pirate ship) to be professionally framed and it feels like so good to have finished, I finally bought more hangers (a relatively simple thing I've been coveting for a while now) and a room of my own. 

But now I've lost part of my charger, and so  may just not get to have nice things ever again, or at least use my computer for the forseeable future.    blargh.

sovay: (Rotwang)
Oh, God, I am tired. Since Tuesday, I have slept four hours a night at most and all of it during the day, which is terrible for me. I had three deadlines this weekend and I've made two of them; the third will have to wait until I've gotten back from the closing show of the Actors' Shakespeare Project's Edward II, which I am seeing tonight with [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks, [livejournal.com profile] gaudior, and [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving. I have never seen a stage production, only Jarman's luminous 1991 film. Yesterday I took my parents to hear the Alloy Orchestra accompany Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate (1926), a two-strip Technicolor swashbuckler with plenty of acrobatics and sliding down sails. It was a digital projection and I am both amused and annoyed that it cut out for a crucial moment during the wrap-up—immediately after Fairbanks' laughing, chivalrous, black-clad revenger was hailed as "my lord Duke"—because between the Egyptian hieroglyphs of his father's signet ring and his leather-kilted men arriving in the nick of time rowing what looked for all the world like a pentekonter minus the sails, we were really left wondering what or when the hell country he was Duke of. (The internet tells me "Arnoldo," which explains nothing.) Have some things that happened on the internet while I was not looking.

1. Derek Walcott died. I discovered him in grad school; I was TA'ing a class on Homeric retellings, including Walcott's Omeros (1990). It must have been a good introduction, since I promptly ran out and bought his most recent collection at the time. He was one of the great contemporary poets of the sea.

I loved them as poets love the poetry
that kills them, as drowned sailors the sea.

—"The Schooner Flight"

2. Chuck Berry died. [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel sent me an interview from 1980 where he was asked to comment on some notable punk and new wave singles of the time. He liked the music of the Sex Pistols and the Clash (but not the vocals in either case: "Can't understand most of the vocals. If you're going to be mad at least let the people know what you're mad about"), had nice things to say about the Selecter and Dave Edmunds, was unimpressed by Wire and Joy Division, and I just like his entire reaction to Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer": "A funky little number, that's for sure. I like the bass a lot. Good mixture and a real good flow. The singer sounds like he has a bad case of stage fright."

3. John Kander did not die! Not only that, but he got to include among his ninetieth birthday celebrations a smackdown of Richard Spencer, courtesy of Kander's great-nephew Jason. Remember that thing where Kander and Ebb got hate mail during the original run of Cabaret for trivializing the horrors of history by incorporating a real-life anthem of the Third Reich into their score? And that was totally wrong? Apparently Spencer did not get the memo about the queer Jewish Broadway origins of "Tomorrow Belongs to Me," either.

And this is an article about Romaine Brooks. I wish I hadn't missed that exhibit. Teleporter, someday. I must run.
19 March 2017 09:35 - THE CAKE WAS NOT A LIE
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

It was, however, a complete surprise. I am told the expression on my face when it came out was "deer in the headlights."
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)
I woke up this morning with two things burning like coal-embers in my brain.

1. a political filk to the tune of Tears for Fears' "Shout."
2. April's Patreon rant, which is about the myth of writer neurosis.

No wonder I'm so often tired when I wake up. My fucking brain doesn't know how to turn off without chemical aids.
17 March 2017 22:39 - An outbreak of quotations
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Eric is away visiting family, so I am looking in on the cat once a day. I took the bus and walked the five blocks from 38th Street, though it was a blustery gray damp day. I ended up one block too far west, which meant that I came to his place along the block where we generally park Lydy's car when we borrow it. The people who live there have a lovely garden, and while this is not at all in evidence at the moment, I still looked the yard over out of habit. Under the big evergreen in the side yard was a large piece of blue cardboard hand-lettered in black: “We are now living in an age which doubts both fact and value. It is the life of this age that we wish to see and judge. Flannery O'Connor.”

When I went home again I took the 9 to its confluence with the 23, and was glad that I had, because the wind had risen a lot and the air had if anything gotten damper. As I was waiting for the 23, I saw across the street and a little way further east a house with a white-painted concrete-block wall around its yard. On the alley side of the wall, facing the eastbound traffic, someone had painted neatly in black, "And so we beat on, boats against the current, ceaselessly borne back into the past. F. Scott Fitzgerald." On the wall facing the street directly, there were two more painted quotations. The one on the left was, "Remember that justice is what love looks like in public. Cornell West." On the right, "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. Elie Wiesel." I walked down to try to take photos, but my phone wasn't good enough to get an image from across the street, and the bus was coming. I'm pretty sure I got these right; though two of them are not quite accurate in spelling or wording, the gist is quite well preserved.

I wonder what this outbreak portends.

Just before I left I had done a flurry of self-promotional posts about my Patreon and the links to locations where books of mine are on sale. When I got home I was somewhat startled and very pleased to see that I had six new supporters. When I was talking to Raphael about this, Raphael suggested that I should remember to lock my cat photos so that only patrons could see them. I said I'd try to do better but that I hated locking people out and that I really valued every single $1 a month supporter. "But a dollar a month gets you cat photos, doesn't it?" said Raphael. I began to agree and then remembered. "No. A dollar a month gets you the revision reports. Cat photos are five dollars a month." "Oh well!" said Raphael. "After all, they're cat photos. Where else on the internet could you get something like that?" I said that I knew I was Doin' it Wrong. But that is in fact why I keep making the cat photos public.

After this I made what was allegedly an Irish stew with tempeh. It was good, but I'm not sure about the Irish part.

sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
Happy Saint Patrick's Day! This post is not Irish at all. I discovered last night that an Aaron Burr-scented candle is now a thing that exists.

Personally I am surprised and not a little disappointed that an Aaron Burr-scented candle is not advertised as smelling like the black powder adrenaline aftermath of frantically extinguishing yourself, your shirt, your desk, and your diary after a gloriously ill-advised midnight fireworks experiment, graced with top notes of insomnia, embarrassment, and the ghostly satisfaction of knowing that your daughter will laugh her face off as soon as she reads that entry.
17 March 2017 12:05 - The New Green Wave
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Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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