This week's Unshelved Book Club features books about a woman who packs her bags and follows the paths of her favorite writers, yarn projects that require no knitting or crocheting skills, post-Gorbachev Russian oligarchs, a Jesuit priest helping give former L.A. gang members a second chance, and a gay, bullied high school student who achieves a startling transformation.
Amazon | Powell's
|Bera The One-Headed Troll by Eric Orchard|
First Second, 2016. 9781626721067. 128 pages.
Amazon | Powell's
|The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries by Jessa Crispin|
The University of Chicago Press, 2015. 9780226278452. 248 pages.
When writer and Bookslut founder Jessa Crispin finds herself increasingly dissatisfied with her tidy Chicago life -- to the point of considering suicide -- she packs her bags and moves to Berlin. Following the paths of her favorite writers, she spends years traveling Europe seeking clarity on everything from her string of failed relationships to the little-known histories of literature's greatest women.
Why I picked it up: I checked out a pile of books from this Huffington Post list on impulse; this was the shortest of the lot.
Why I finished it: "Mopey artist goes to Europe to find herself" is a well-worn cliche, but Crispin pulls it off with panache, alternating between historical accounts of famous and not-so-famous writers and her personal travels. Meanwhile, her dry, self-deprecating humor keeps the book from becoming too hokey or sweet even when she is at her most introspective.
It’s perfect for: Jess, who once lent me Mastering the Art of French Eating, which similarly blurs the lines between travelogue and history, and who will appreciate Crispin's feminist snark.
Amazon | Powell's
|Knitless: 50 No-Knit, Stash-Busting Yarn Projects by Laura McFadden|
Running Press, 2015. 9780762456642. 160 pages.
Need to use up some yarn? Want to create something cool? Make hip jewelry, art, and even furniture without needing any knitting or crochet skills.
Why I picked it up: I was looking for low-skill, low-frustration yarn-based maker projects for teens and tweens.
Why I finished it: Not only did I find some great future library maker programs, I found a lot of jewelry I would actually wear: yarn-wrapped chunky bead necklaces, an ombre tassel necklace, and a bold button cocktail ring. I liked that they used the beauty of yarn colors along with great texture contrasts. The paracord rug with its concentric circles in contrasting colors has me eying the perfect spot in my bathroom.
It’s perfect for: Anne, who watches Design on a Dime with me. There are tons of great and cheap ways to remake a chair or table that could really tie a room together.
Amazon | Powell's
|Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs: A True Story of Ambition, Wealth, Betrayal, and Murder by Ben Mezrich|
Atria Books, 2016. 9781476771908. 288 pages.
In the post-Gorbachev era in Russia, power was bought and sold, mostly by a handful of businessmen known as the oligarchs, who had free rein to mold the new capitalism as they saw fit, to enrich both themselves and their inner circles. The chief actor here was Boris Berezovsky, a former mathematician who made a few shrewd economic decisions and aligned himself with Boris Yeltsin. Berezovsky and his protégé, Roman Abramovich, soon controlled unimaginable wealth and considerable power. But Berezovsky’s influence faded once Vladimir Putin, a heretofore unknown former KGB official, was tapped to succeed Yeltsin. Berezovsky thought Putin was insignificant and malleable. He was wrong.
Why I picked it up: I saw it at a booth at ALA last summer and thought, “Hey, the new Ben Mezrich! This should be cool.” Mezrich wrote Bringing Down the House and The Accidental Billionaires (which became the movie The Social Network).
Why I finished it: The sheer extravagance and flaunting of wealth by Berezovsky and his ilk was downright nauseating. Private jets and helicopters, dozens of personal security guards, a couple yachts, and a mansion in the South of France -- what was it all for? By the end, though, Berezovsky felt more pathetic than appalling, and I wondered how he’d meet his demise: was he still powerful enough to be a threat that must be contained?
Readalikes: Honestly, this reminded me of Goodfellas -- a bunch of otherwise unremarkable men, given a taste of money and power, who rapidly lose control and end up digging their own graves. While the spectre of Putin gives the story a sinister undertone, the rise of the oligarchs felt mostly like a pissing contest with no winners.
Amazon | Powell's
|Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle|
Highbridge, 2011. 9781611744347.
Shortly after becoming ordained as a Jesuit priest, Father Gregory Boyle was sent to one of the roughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles to work with the poor. At the urging of his church ladies, he focused on those in greatest need: gang members wanting a second chance. They wanted opportunities to be employed in honest jobs, so he helped create Homeboy Industries. Since 1988 it has grown from a catering business to include a print shop, a cafe, and an employment center. It even has its own line of merchandise. Father Boyle and Homeboy Industries have given thousands of former gang members a chance to build their resumes and move on to steady, full-time careers.
Why I picked it up: One of the women in my Foodie Book Group suggested we read it. I was skeptical that it fit our guidelines, but she pointed out one of the businesses was a bakery, so I agreed that was enough for us. (I once got the group to read Life of Pi, because they wanted a pie potluck. We are pretty flexible on the food factor.)
Why I finished it: Father Boyle's message of big-hearted, open-minded compassion is truly impressive. He sees each person as a worthy individual deserving of love and opportunity. It’s inspiring. And he has a wonderful ability to help people find a way to do better. When parishioners were complaining about the smell of the homeless, undocumented workers who had been sleeping in their church, Father Boyle convinced them that it was the smell of the church's commitment to making a difference. But his work is filled with heartbreak. At the time he wrote the book, he had held burial ceremonies for over 175 men. Many of them had left gang life and were doing their best to move on, but couldn’t escape the violence of their neighborhoods. His stories often go from joy to sorrow so rapidly, I often found myself weeping. He perseveres, knowing his efforts make things better bit by bit.
It’s perfect for: My father, who recently retired and is considering ways to spend his time that will make a difference. He would love Father Boyle's message that to change the world you don't need policies, you just need to stand with the poor and suffering.
Amazon | Powell's
|Big Kids by Michael DeForge|
Drawn & Quarterly, 2016. 9781770462243. 120 pages.
A young, gay high school student is enduring violence not only from school bullies and his cop uncle, but also at the hands of his boyfriend, Jared. April, a quiet college student, rents a room in his house. She comforts him, especially after Jared dumps him for another boy. He gets drunk and falls asleep watching TV in his basement. When he wakes up, everything looks different. April explains later: he’s a tree. It happens to most people at a certain age, and he’s seeing the world through new eyes.
Why I picked it up: I’m a fan of DeForge’s work, and I prefer his longer stories like Kid Mafia and Ant Colony to his shorter work.
Why I finished it: The transformation when the young man wakes up in the basement is startling. From a realistic, recognizable world, the story shifts into a world of gangly, bulb-headed creatures with exposed, flower-like lungs (or are those shirts?). Those who haven’t transformed, like his dad and Jared, are twigs. And the new perceptions are about more than just people: one of my favorite images is a song that gets stuck in the boy’s head, which appears as a multi-legged creature that sits on his shoulder, spitting in his ear.
DeForge’s stories run the gamut from recognizable to totally surreal, but this is the first I remember that combines both. It’s up there with Ant Colony as one of his best graphic novels.
Readalikes: DeForge uses a small, nine-panel grid of equal-sized panels on most of the pages, giving the book a deadpan sensibility that really works in contrast to the fantastic vision of the world through tree eyes. Norway’s Jason uses a deadpan style that’s equally effective. If you’ve never read one of his books, start with the short stories in Low Moon or one of his book-length graphic novels, Werewolves of Montpellier or The Last Musketeer.
After losing the audio for the first interview conducted at RWA, I talk to Tracey Livesay for the second time – special thanks to Tracey for agreeing to speak twice! We talk about her experience at RWA this year, being starstruck when meeting Beverly Jenkins, and attending a conference during the release week of her book, Love on my Mind. She discusses her favorite sessions at RWA, and we debate who her cover model looks like. Tracey also talks about writing characters with Aspergers, reading social cues, and being one of many recovering attorneys writing romance, as well as her gateway to the romance genre, and the power of saying, “This is OUR genre, and it belongs to US,” as a reader, and as a writer.Listen to the podcast →
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Zombies may be a bridge too far.
But... if it gets a theatrical release here, I may not able to resist.
*goes back to endless coughing fits*
Do you name yours? Do you have a theme? Do they all get names, or only your favorites?
( A few of my favorites )
What are some of yours?
Fandom: Historical RPF, 15th Century CE RPF
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Juana de Castile/Philip the Handsome
Characters: Juana I de Castilla | Joanna of Castile, Isabel I de Castilla | Isabella I of Castile, Fernando II de Aragón | Ferdinand II of Aragon, Catherine queen of Portugal, Charles V Holy Roman Emperor, Philip the Handsome
Additional Tags: Character Study
Daughter, wife, mother, madwoman, and political pawn; Juana of Castile was all of these and more.
Juana of Castile. In another lifetime, she could have been a powerful ruler like her mother before her. Instead, she got doubly screwed by her family and declared insane. I'm torn between wondering whether or not she did, in fact, have some sort of minor mental disorder or if she was simply a passionate non-conformist.
We had lots of thunderstorms on Thursday that cooled things off somewhat, and Hillary Clinton is officially the nominee of the Democratic Party so I'm happy. It was not a very eventful day; Maddy stayed at the house where she's cat-sitting, then went to Ikea with Christine, while I did work and almost caught a Wartortle at the post office but he broke out of one Pokeball and two Great Balls, then ran away!
Maddy and Christine came back here for dinner (Paul made Philly cheesesteaks in honor of the DNC, plus hot fudge sundae cake) and we all watched A Little Chaos, all being fans of Rickman and Winslet and appreciating Versailles. Now we're watching the convention winding down and what a high note for a conclusion. From the Folger Shakespeare Library's America's Shakespeare exhibit:
( Our Bard Too )
"I’ll say it. It’s the greatest crossover of all time. This is the new standard by which all crossovers will be judged. What a rare privilege in comics to begin something and to end it exactly as you envisioned. To create a universe and then torch it in the most explosive way imaginable. In the end, the creative challenge is the only thing that matters. When you push the limits, the world gets bigger. We wanted to see just how much juice you can squeeze out of these concepts and out of the comics page itself. How much story can fit into a comic book before the staples pop out? I look forward to seeing how the next generation of cartoonists builds on these innovations, the way we built on the work of those who came before us. I look forward to seeing the inevitable movie adaptation of this comic." -- Tom Scioli
( Read more... )
Last night, Irene and I walked around her neighborhood, which has houses built over 200 years ago. That was fun, if a bit hot and sweaty, and dark by the time we got back. We also ate Thai food for supper, which was another first for me. I’d always thought Thai food had to be really hot and spicy, so I’d always avoided it. Turns out I was wrong. I had pad thai with shrimp and lots of bean sprouts, and it was quite delicious.
This morning I was looking at my map and noticed a state park named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt that was only about thirty miles away, so I decided to go check it out. Irene tells me that it’s only a ten minute walk to the train station and a two-hour ride to go into New York City, but NYC intimidates the heck out of me. Someday I’ll fly into JFK and actually stay in the city somewhere, but for now, no. By the time I got there I’d only have four hours or so to do stuff before I’d have to turn around and come back.
Anyway, so it turns out because the roads are so twisty and turny and go through so many little 30 mph towns, thirty miles took about an hour. And when I got there, it turned out that it wasn’t a historic park at all. In which case why name it after him? Oh, well.
I came back and went to the Danbury Railway Museum, after getting a recommendation for the diner across the street where I ate a huge Italian grinder for lunch. Grinder appears to be the local term for a sub sandwich. Anyway, it was good.
And the museum was fun. It had four working model railroad setups, and lots of railway artifacts, and, outside, at least twenty vintage rail cars, engines, and cabooses, some of which you could go inside of. I went in a couple of them, but my nemesis the weather drove me back inside, which was fine.
I came back to Irene’s and now I’m catching up on things and figuring out where I’m heading tomorrow and where I’m going to spend the night. It’s supposed to be cooler in general tomorrow, and cooler on the coast than here, so I’m going to see about camping for the first time since I fell out of the van. We’ll see how that goes.
Heading east by north. It’s funny how the coastline runs east-west in this part of the world.
Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.
Today I drove more winding backroads, crossing into New York state, until I reached a bridge over the Hudson River. My photos of it aren’t very good, but I tried…
Then I wound down the eastern side of the river until I got tangled in some serious traffic, er, made it to Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, where Washington Irving built his house, and set the most famous of his short stories.
No, that so-ridiculous-it’s-fun (at least for the first couple of seasons) TV show of the same name isn’t filmed here. It’s actually filmed in South Carolina, but it is set here. And apparently there’s been a small Twilight-esque run on this place in the last few years because of it. Not to the extent that Forks, Washington, has been taken over, but enough that the lady who sold me my ticket to visit the house looked like she wanted to roll her eyes at me when I commented on it.
Irving was the first person in the United States to make his living writing fiction. He wrote a lot of other things, too, history and satire and so forth, but it was his fiction that made his name. His house was the second most visited home in the 19th century, after Mount Vernon.
It’s a pretty cottage (Irving’s word), described by our guide as a pastiche of many architectural styles, from Dutch to Spanish. The front door is all but encased in wisteria, ivy, and bad hair day (trumpet) vine, and it took an act of will for me to get through it [wry g]. I did remember that from my first visit here, in April, 1981, with my mother while I was visiting my parents during the year and a half they lived in Connecticut.
It was fun to see the house again, though. It stayed in the Irving family (Washington Irving was a bachelor, and he left the house to his nieces) until the 1940s, over a hundred years after it was built, and it was purchased not long after that by the Rockefellers and preserved as a historic site, so it’s in much the same condition (and filled with much of the furniture) it was in when Irving died.
Anyway, I enjoyed it, as I always do this sort of thing. The last time I was here it snowed that night and knocked the power out at my parents’ house. Too bad we couldn’t split the difference between that visit and this one. The house itself isn’t air-conditioned. Thank goodness for thick stone walls. It could have been much worse inside than it was.
After I left Sunnyside, I headed for Danbury, Connecticut, and listee Irene, who offered me a bed for a couple of nights. Her parents hosted the listee curry party at Denvention in 2008, which was great fun, and we’ve corresponded off and on ever since. She has a nice place nestled on a hillside, and I hope she’s having as nice a time hosting me as I have being her guest.
Tomorrow I shall explore around Danbury (Irene has to work), and then on Friday I am headed for the Connecticut coast and Mystic Seaport. Beyond that, we’ll just have to see.
Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.
Loose-leaf Links is a feature where I gather together the interesting bits and pieces on sci-fi and fantasy I’ve come across and share them with you over tea. Today’s tea is Afternoon Darjeeling from Taylors of Harrogate. It’s a lighter tea (as Darjeeling tends to be) that resists overbrewing and is one of the nicest Darjeeling teas I’ve tried.( Community and Conventions ) ( On Equity ) ( For Writers ) ( For Readers )
Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.
The way back to my apartment has an upwards slope so I always hold back when I start, but this time I even did two short fast intervals on my way back. To motivate myself for that I found myself humming the "Love Hime" opening song, the motivational song of the main character from "Yowamushi Pedal", which I started watching a few days ago on a recommendation by naye. It worked *g* Even though I know exactly one word, oh well.
One of my roommates is moving out tomorrow, and to my surprise she just came home. I'm a bit worried it's going to be awkward, but it's only one day so it should be fine. (I often felt awkward around her: she's a few years older, she already worked for a few years and always gave off the impression that she had her shit together, and in comparison I often felt like I didn't measure up. I didn't like it.) There's also still financial details to be settled, hopefully it goes well. Fortunately it's about how much money she'll get back from me and not the other way around; less than she's probably hoping for, but that's not my problem, this is why I was so careful writing the lease.
I have beta'd for someone using google docs on my iPad twice now, and the first time everything was a piece of cake, it worked really well for me because I can't sit at a computer for long, so I could read lying down and comment as necessary. This time, though, it was doing this weird thing that baffles me: it was slow as molasses, taking time to register each letter I typed as though it was searching for something, and then it was trying to autofill contact names I didn't even recognize. I eventually just started randomly typing in names to see if it was their contacts list or mine, and it looks like they are really really old contacts I don't even much remember--probably people who wrote back in the very early days of email. They're not even people I have in a contacts list, just…random people I don't even recognize for the most part.
I can't find anything about this in a search. I've turned off iCloud (kind of irrelevant, because it's my old email address, and I don't use it, because it won't let me change my email address for love or money), I've turned off the ability to access contacts, I've got locatin sharing off, basically anything I can think of. Nothing changes. It still randomly pops up with that little circle that iOS now gives you of contacts, with their initials, and the name and email address, trying to insert that into the comments I'm trying to leave on the google doc.
I'd like to use this if someone asks me to beta for them again, but not if this is going to be the case, because it's a level of maddening I can't quite deal with. I'm updating the OS right now, but I don't have a lot of hope that'll change. I can't figure out why it worked so well before (and works just fine on the computer and laptop), but won't let me comment on the iPad without trying to insert an email contact from someone I'm not even in contact with.
(And no, the person who's sent these has never seen this either. It seems to just be happening to me.) Has anyone else encountered this? It's freaking bizarre.
"Trump Jr. Says Obama Lifted Phrase From His RNC Speech", NBC News 7/28/2016:
Donald Trump Jr. suggested Thursday that Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia Wednesday night lifted a line from his Republican National Convention remarks, pointing out that both addresses contained the line "That's not the America I know."
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 28, 2016
But as I pointed out in a post back in July of 2004), George W. Bush used the phrase "That is not the America I know" at least six times in 2001-2002.
The Congressional Record for 1976 apparently includes this passage:
If that is America, that is not the America I know. It is not the way I have been brought up. It is not what that flag means to me. It is not what the Senate of the United States means to me.
A letter to the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2006 included this passage:
What kind of country begs people to come here to work, then denies their children access to basic health care? That is not the America I know.
Hillary Clinton used the phrase in a debate with Barack Obama in Austin TX in 2008:
Asked about federal immigration raids on homes and businesses, Clinton blasted raids that she said have left children and babies with no one to take care of them: "That is not the America I know. That is against American values."
Barack Obama used the same phrase in a 2010 speech:
Cleveland, that is not the America I know. That is not the America we believe in.
And Rick Perry used the phrase in 2012 :
"For way too long the system has been gamed," Mr. Perry said. "It's been gamed from Wall Street to K Street. Big banks get bailed out and small businesses get shut down. That's not the America I know. We're better than that."
and in 2015:
A president who boldly claimed it was his goal to rid the world of nuclear weapons will have a legacy of nuclear proliferation. All because he places his trust in a regime that is the leading sponsor of state terrorism, in the word of radicals, in inspections that can be easily manipulated. My friends, this is not the America I know.
I'm sure that a more thorough search will turn up dozens of other examples, and thousands of examples of "this|that|it is not the X I know", where X has some value other than America. As I pointed out in 2004, "this|that|it is not the X I know" is (an especially short example) of a what we've called a snowclone, namely a sort of meme-ified cliché.
Do you think that Donald J. Trump Jr. really believes that he invented the phrase, or is he just trolling?
Update — NBC News and the Washington Post find a number of other examples, back to "a top official in the Drug Enforcement Administration, David Westrate, who said at a National Press Club speech in 1989: 'My conclusion from that is that that really was not the America that I know.'"
Ben Mathis-Lilley, "Joe Biden Brings House Down at DNC With Raging Fireball of a Speech Highlighted by Use of Word 'Malarkey'", Slate 7/27/2016. Here's the passage:
According to Merriam-Webster's Trend Watch,
Malarkey rose to the top of our look-ups on the evening of July 27th, 2016, after Vice-President Joseph Biden used the word in a speech at the Democratic National Convention.
“He is trying to tell us he cares about the middle class. Give me a break. That is a bunch of malarkey.” —Joe Biden, quoted on Politico.com, 27 July 2016
Trend Watch observes that
Biden does indeed appear to have an affinity for this word, with dozens of recorded uses over the course of his time in the public eye, stretching back to at least 1983. […] In addition to newspaper reports of Biden using malarkey, there is a considerable body of citational evidence demonstrating his use of the word in Congressional and Senate hearings.
But, the article continues,
No one is certain where malarkey comes from, although a number of possible etymologies (such as it having descended from a Greek word, an Irish surname, or various forms of slang) have been proposed. Although the linguistic origins of malarkey are shrouded in doubt, we are fairly certain of its geographic roots: all of our initial evidence for this word comes from North America in the early 1920s.
Indeed the challenger has been so unimpressive in public that a coterie of volunteer pallbearers has made a practice of attending all workouts at the dog track and laughing immoderately at every move the Latin makes. They seem to think he is a lot of ‘malarkey,’ as it were. —New Castle News (New Castle, PA), 8 Sept., 1923
Some attempt has been made to account for the defeat of the United States hockey team by the Canadians in the Olympic games by declaring that the result was the fruit of team work rather than individual brilliancy. This is so much malarkey, according to the best informed sources. —The Evening Review (Liverpool, OH), 12 Feb., 1924
The OED's entry, updated in June 2000, gives a bit more detail about the murky origins:
A surname Mullarkey , of Irish origin, exists, but no connection is known between any person of that name and this word. Another suggested etymology is from modern Greek μαλακός soft, or its derivative μαλακία , in fig. use (see malacia n.).
⌈ Secret Post #3494 ⌋
Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.
( More! )
Late day, so early secrets!
Secrets Left to Post: 01 pages, 12 secrets from Secret Submission Post #499.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.
( I made you some ticky boxes )
However! We had made the discovery last week that we can give Nefer a (very tiny, very crumbly) anti-nausea pill wrapped up in bread, and she will eat it. So I picked pills, and Toby dropped by the vet on the way home to pick them up. And yes: Nefer will eat an antibiotic pill if it is encapsulated in a squishy bread pill.
So we now have a loaf of bread bought solely for the cat, of the squishiest bread we could find that we could also tolerate if, for example, one of us needed to make a sandwich in an emergency. (i.e., generic wheat balloon bread, but not quite as fluffy and insubstantial as Wonder Bread.)
Nefer is happy that we have started this habit of randomly giving her pieces of bread. Sora is convinced that we are somehow giving her treats and not him, even though we let him sniff the bread and he does not recognize it as food. So he occasionally gets an empty Pill Pocket, because we don't want him to associate Pill Pockets with vets or medicine.
Do you want an invite? Leave me your email address in the screened comments.
I want to thrive again, not just scramble trying to keep the essentials in my life from going under. On Saturday I'll be 42 and would like to spend the year feeling a little more like the answer and less like a question.
The state of the world, especially my country, has me in fear. True fear. I struggle enough without that potential hanging over my head and I hope to everything it does not drop down come November.
So, um, my mother found a lump, and it's looking like it's probably cancer and I am so sick of this fucking shit.
Why the hell can't we ever have sudden good news like the Publisher's Clearing House just decided to award us all the prizes? Or "whoops, our climate models were overly pessimistic"? Or a certain evil presidential candidate has just choked to death on his own vitriol? Or the entire past year has been a really bad dream but now I'm waking up and somebody is giving me breakfast in bed?
Fucking a. I want a do-over. This isn't right, it isn't fair, and I don't like it.
Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: Gen | Hermione Granger; Crookshanks, Scabbers
Content Notes/Warnings: none, SFW
Medium: digital art
Artist on DW/LJ:
Artist Website/Gallery: vmtr89
Why this piece is awesome: I love the dynamic of thie piece. Hermione is great here, and I love Crookshanks and Scabber's expressions.
Current plan is to sing the song about the thousand eggs until someone in the audience volunteers to mod instead. (Alternatively, we just cast some omens and discuss whichever lines of the text Amaat wills.)
But now I am curious, what tune do you get the egg song stuck in your head to? I get stuck with "Make new friends, but keep the old", the old Brownie Girl Scout round:
Make new friends/ but keep the o-old
A thousand eggs/ all nice and wa-arm
One is silver/ and the other gold
Peep-peep peep peep a-/ nother chick is born.
It scans better with three peeps than four, and you have to sing nine-nine-nine eggs instead of nine-hundred-ninety-nine (etc.) but other than that it works pretty well. It's even a round so it would work really well for ancillary units and/or cars full of small children to sing ad infinitum!
("The Station Goes Around The Sun" is always Farmer in the Dell in my head, by the way, even though I know there are other tunes for it out there. The circle game would even work!)
So, before Hillary Clinton puts a cap on the DNC convention with her appearance tonight, let me talk a little about what I think of her as a presidential nominee, (mostly) independent of the fact of Donald Trump as her opponent for the office. And to talk about her as a presidential nominee, I need to talk a little bit about me as a political being.
And who am I as a political being? As I’ve noted elsewhere, among the various political labels that have been used over the last several decades, I’m probably closest to what used to be called a “Rockefeller Republican,” a person who is relatively socially liberal but relatively economically conservative. But that label doesn’t precisely describe me, either. I am both of those things, generally, but it doesn’t get to the root of my political ethos.
To get to that, I need to go back to high school, to a class I took called Individual Humanities. The class was the brainchild of teacher Larry McMillin, and it was a year-long class (interestingly, divided between the last half of one’s junior year and the first half of one’s senior year) that took a look at portrayals of the individual in Western Literature — from Oedipus Rex through Joan of Arc through Huckleberry Finn — to chart the development of the idea of the individual and what it means to be one, in the larger context of western civilization.
The specific details of the class are something I’ll leave out for now, but the takeaway of the class — the summation of its goals — was to argue that one of western civilization’s great achievements was the development of the independently acting and thinking individuals who saw as their greatest life crisis service to their community. Which is to say: In our world, we get built to think for ourselves, and when that happens, we realize we can’t be in it just for ourselves.
And, importantly, this ethos and the benefits thereof are not the purview of one group or class. Everyone should be encouraged to develop into who they have the potential to become. Everyone in turn uses that realized potential for the overall benefit their community or communities.
Well, that sounds communist! Yes, I suppose if you wanted you could argue that “from each according to ability, to each according to needs” is an expression of this concept, but then again, so is “TANSTAAFL” as long as it’s applied alongside “Pay it forward”; even the concept of noblesse oblige holds its echo. Like the “golden rule” which is found in most major religions, the concept is adaptable to a number of situations. The important things: Development of people as individuals; recognition of the individual’s responsibilities to their communities.
This is, to my mind, a powerful, adaptable and moral ethos, first because it encourages each of us to find our full expression and to develop those gifts we have within us — to become us — and at the same time reminds us that these talents and gifts need to be used not only for ourselves but for the benefit of others. It’s not (just) self-interest, or even (just) enlightened self-interest; it’s realization of self and a commitment to others as the result of that realization. It doesn’t mean one can’t do well for one’s self; most of us are not built to be monks. It does mean you should see “doing good” as an equal or higher goal than “doing well.”
This idea of the enlightened individual in service to their community is a significant part of my own personal ethical toolbox; likewise, it’s part of my political thinking as well, and a thing I want to see in politicians.
Along with this ethos, I have a very large streak of pragmatism, which is to say, I generally think it’s okay to get half a loaf when the full loaf is manifestly not on offer. Should you go in saying “sure, I’ll take half a loaf”? No, go ahead and see how much of the loaf you can get — if you can get the whole damn thing, good on you. But if you get 80% or 50% or 25% or whatever, depending on circumstances, well, fine — that fraction can be a basis to build on. Applying “All or nothing” thinking to every situation is for amateurs, nihilists and fools.
So, let’s apply both of these concepts to Hillary Clinton. I think that Clinton has shown amply over the years that, whatever personal ambitions or her willingness to cash a check for speaking fees (and as an ambitious person who occasionally speaks for money, I don’t see either as inherently a problem), time and again she’s put herself in service. Not with 100% success and not without flaws even when successful, but there are none of us perfect, and the end result of her putting herself back into the arena again and again is that much of that service has had an impact. Her ambition and service are not just about her and what it gets her. She’s done much, and at a high level, for others.
As for pragmatic — well, look. One does not work at the levels she does and has for decades without it, and if there’s any ding on the Clintons as a political couple, it’s their willingness to make a deal. Again, I don’t see that as necessarily a bad thing, even if one’s line for “acceptable deal” is elsewhere than theirs. This is definitely a “your mileage may vary” sort of thing, but I’m okay with the mileage I get out of it.
Independent of anything else, Clinton is an attractive presidential candidate for me for the reasons noted above. Service and pragmaticism go a long way for me. In the context of where the GOP is right now, and who they are fielding as their candidate this cycle, it’s not even a contest. In the case of John McCain and Mitt Romney, the two previous GOP presidential candidates, even as I disliked their overall policies and plans for the country, I could not say they had not acted in service to their communities and country, or that they didn’t have the ability to be pragmatic when being pragmatic was what was needed. I can’t say that about Trump. There’s nothing in his past actions that suggests he’s in this life for anyone but himself.
But Hillary Clinton is — is what, exactly? A criminal? Corrupt? Dishonest? Evil? Terrible? Awful? A bitch? Satan in a pantsuit ensemble? As I’ve noted before, a quarter century of entirely outsized investigations into her life and actions have come up with nothing criminal or found corruption that rises to indictable levels. As for the rest of it, whatever Clinton’s own personal characteristics, she also had the misfortune of stepping into the political spotlight concurrent to the GOP wholesale adopting the Gingrich playbook of demonizing the opposition. She’s had an entire political party and its media apparatus spending two full decades telling the world she’s a bitch, and evil, and a criminal. It’s still happening; the Republican National Convention resounded with the words lock her up, lock her up, lock her up. And yet she is still here. She is still in service. Now, you can see that as ego or delusion or the inability to take a hint. I see it as an unwillingness to yield the floor to those whose political playbook is simply “demonize your opponent,” with the rest to be figured out later.
(And make no mistake — should Clinton win the presidency, the fury isn’t going away. The GOP is all in this year with sexism and bigotry and hate, and at this point it has no other gear; it literally cannot do otherwise without entirely losing its primary voter base. This is what the Gingrich playbook has gotten the GOP. It’s made them fury addicts, and the withdrawal symptoms are as likely to kill them as not.)
Maybe ultimately the issue is that she’s not likable, i.e., she’s not the candidate you’ll have a beer with. Well, now there’s Tim Kaine for that if that’s important to you; he’ll have a beer with you, and if you have too many he’ll take your keys when you’re not looking, pretend to help you look for them when you’re ready to go, and then let you sleep it off on the couch. But honestly, I’ve never gotten that whole construct. One, I don’t need to have a beer with my President; I assume they have other things to do. Two, if that’s a controlling aspect of your presidential decision making, I mean, if it actually is important to you, then you’re the problem and you need to pull your head out and maybe have more relevant criteria, or at least put “beer buddy” as far down the goddamned list as possible.
And three, says who? I don’t need Clinton to be likable in order to vote for her for president, especially as I’m not likely to ever meet her and spend time with her and have late night phone calls where we gossip and share secrets. She’s not my friend. But I also don’t find her unlikable today, and I don’t remember that ever being the baseline of my opinion of her (she’s had unlikable moments, to be sure. Welcome to being human). But then, I also don’t tend to think women who express opinions, or who don’t feel the need to excuse their ambition or their place near the top of the power structure, are inherently unlikable. Let’s not pretend that in fact that’s not a problem, still, for a lot of people — and that this being a problem hasn’t been exploited by others.
(Also, you know. Maybe it’s a personal quirk, but I just don’t get that invested in politicians as inspirational figures. I’m perfectly happy with them being essentially colorless and efficient and boring. Maybe even prefer it!)
At the end of the day, without reference to any other aspect of this particular presidential race, Hillary Clinton offers more than enough for me to vote for her. With reference to other aspects of this race — namely, that Donald Trump’s candidacy is as close to being an actual existential threat to US democracy as we’ve had, possibly ever — voting for Clinton becomes not only a preference but a moral necessity. I can’t not vote for Hillary Clinton in this election. So it’s nice to know I would have been happy to vote for her, no matter what.
Partner took today off work, and we went over to Dulwich Picture Gallery to see the Winifred Knights exhibition, which is very good, though a bit thwarting that there seem to be more studies for than finished paintings, and that she died relatively young just as she was getting back into painting after WWII.
And her career seems to have been successful at the time - she won major prizes, got gratifying commissions, was highly praised - unlike so many women artists who seem to have operated in solitude until very late life brought recognition, but then she dropped off the radar. This may be to do with changing fashions in AHHHHRT, or it may be more sinisterly part of the How To Suppress Women's [Creative Endeavours of Choice]. One also wonders that if she had not died so young there might have been that Rediscovery of Grand Old Lady Artist thing working in her favour?
Also, yay for her surrounding influences, which included an aunt who was active in the suffrage movement, women's trades unions, and the Fabians, and introduced her to Edward Carpenter!
We then walked across Dulwich Park - part of the Green Chain - where wildlife spotted included heron, coots (yay: coot AND hern!), moorhens, ducks, ducklings, geese and parakeets.
This took us, by way of some fairly dreary main roads, to the Horniman Museum - which was a bit noisy with family groups, but that goes with the territory I guess. Last visited over 12 years ago and I think it had had some doing up in the interim.
Still didn't manage to get to the gardens, as it came on to rain at the point when we might have contemplated these.
Following up on Tim Kaine's mocking imitation of Donald Trump's phrase "believe me", CNN put up a comparison:
— CNN (@CNN) July 28, 2016
One striking thing about the juxtaposed performances is a difference in stress and intonation. Trump puts the stress on "believe", and de-accents "me", while Kaine accents both words:
Here's the first of the genuine Trump exhortations — a two-fer:
In both of these repetitions, Trump's "believe" is about 60% longer than his "me", and the peak f0 on "believe" is about 40% greater than the peak f0 on "me". In addition, the fact that "me" has falling pitch throughout its vowel is consistent with the idea that it's de-accented, while the peak f0 in his first "believe" is about half way through the stressed vowel.
Here's the first of (CNN's choice of) Kaine's imitations:
In contrast to Trump's version, Kaine's "believe" is only about 20% longer than his "me", and the peak f0 on "believe" is only about 8% greater than the peak f0 on "me". The fact that the peak f0 on his "me" is about halfway through the syllable is another indication that both "believe" and "me" are accented — and as a result of its striking rise-fall pitch pattern, maybe "me" is even focused.
What does this difference mean?
The most obvious explanation, I think, is this:
Kaine's "BELIEVE ME" carries the implication that you should believe the speaker, not all those other guys.
Trump's "BELIEVE me" avoids acknowledging that any other opinions might be relevant.
Another possibility is that Kaine's version is just overall more emphatic — or perhaps the result of treating the phrase as a quoted sequence rather than an epistemological aside.
But the causes and consequences of prosodic choices are notoriously protean, and intuitions about prosodic meaning are notoriously unreliable. So how could we explore this question further? I'm pretty sure that Trump always de-accents "me" in his frequent uses of "believe me". And because "believe me" is so rarely used by other politicians, it's not going to be easy to find the basis for an empirical comparison in speeches and debate recordings.
The LDC's published collections of conversational speech include 277 instances of "believe me", and this is enough to get a baseline idea about the relative frequency of different prosodic choices. I don't have time to inspect all of them, but in a random sample of 10, all of them had a prosodic pattern similar to Trump's. So I'm still looking for a way to isolate enough examples of Kaine's pattern — or maybe to create a situation that produces that pattern frequently enough — to evaluate its implications for communicative function.
Forever Your Earl
RECOMMENDED: Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh is $1.99! A Kindle Daily Deal, let’s hope this is matched elsewhere. This is the first book in The Wicked Quills of London series and Redheadedgirl gave it an A:
Zoe Archer has been one of my favorite authors since that one time she basically saved my sanity (even if she was also the indirect cause of one of the worst reading experiences of my life). No matter what, I can always count on her for strong, determined heroines with all sorts of agency, and heroes that also were strong and worthy and respectful of the women that chose them. While I like the adventure romances of Zoe Archer very much, you can all imagine my grabby hands when she announced that she was going to write straight historicals under the name Eva Leigh.
This is the first one of that series, and it was totallllly worth the wait.
Eva Leigh’s irresistible new series introduces the Wicked Quills of London: a group of bold, brilliant female writers whose spirited allure is beyond seductive…
Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades . . . What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?
Daniel has secrets, and if The Hawk’s Eye gets wind of them, a man’s life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best-laid plans.
But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever.
Devil in Winter
RECOMMENDED: Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas is $1.99! This is an often recommended historical romance and the couple in this book is getting a quasi-continuation in Devil in Spring (the hero is their son!). It’s also many readers’ favorites in the Wallflowers series, though mine is It Happened One Autumn. Feel free to gush about Kleypas in the comments!
Easily the shyest Wallflower, Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St. Vincent with a most outrageous proposition: marriage!
Sebastian’s reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden’s good name. Still, this bewitching chit appeared,unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fine eye for beauty could do far worse.
But Evie’s proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become just another of the dashing libertine’s callously discarded broken hearts–which means Sebastian will simply have to work harder at his seductions…or perhaps surrender his own heart for the very first time in the name of true love.
Secrets of a Viscount
Secrets of a Viscount by Rose Gordon is 99c at Amazon and Barnes & Noble! This is the first book in the Gentleman of Honor historical romance series. It also involved a hero marrying the wrong woman (the heroine) and I’m very curious as to how one makes that mistake. Readers loved the connection between the hero and heroine, but some found there was a lot going on plot-wise.
One summer night, Sebastian Gentry, Lord Belgrave hauled the wrong young lady to Gretna Green. When her identity is exposed, the only obvious solution is to get an annulment. Only, just like his elopement plans, things didn’t go as planned and while she has reason to believe they are no longer married, he knows better. Wanting to make things right for her, he offers to help her find a husband…
Isabelle Knight has just been given an unexpected fortune and is in the midst of doing what she never believed she’d have to do: spend a Season on the Marriage Mart. Finding no one who seems to catch her fancy–or even seems bearable to tolerate until death do them part–her entire world is sent spinning with the sudden appearance of none other than her former husband.
Isabelle is in no position to refuse his offer to help her find a husband and reluctantly agrees, but what neither counts on is her future husband just might be the one she’s still secretly married to.
A Rose in the Storm
A Rose in the Storm by Brenda Joyce is $2.99! This is a Scottish/medieval romance and according to Goodreads reviews, it’s very Old Skool-ish. The hero kidnaps the heroine, for example. While some readers thought Joyce did a great job getting the history right, other felt that there was really no relationship development. Have you read this one?
WHEN RIVALRY BECOMES PASSION
With warfare blazing through Scotland, the fate of the Comyn-MacDougall legacy depends on one woman. Recently orphaned, young Margaret Comyn must secure her clan’s safety through an arranged marriage. But when an enemy invasion puts her at the mercy of the notorious Wolf of Lochaber, her every loyalty-and secret want-will be challenged.
AND A KINGDOM IS AT STAKE
Legendary warrior Alexander ‘the Wolf’ MacDonald rides with Robert Bruce to seize the throne of Scotland. But when he takes the fiery Lady Margaret prisoner, she quickly becomes far more than a valuable hostage. For, the passion between them threatens to betray their families, their country…and their hearts.
“It might be Taikie’s idea of a prank,” Enrie admitted, “but I doubt it. There are far too few pipes involved.” In the dark, it wasn’t easy to find the hidden door to the cupola, and
So my sweetie C. is going in for surgery tomorrow. She’s shit-scared of hospitals, uncertain of what the surgery means, and terrified.
I’ll be driving down to hold her hand in the hospital.
And the sole pleasant thing about this ugly turn of events is that this is a twinned decision. My wife Gini and I had a weekend planned together at home after a bunch of visits and travel, the long slow weekend where we’d curl up and reconnect. We’d both been looking forward to that.
Yet when C. texted me with her medical results, and it was clear that surgery was the only option for removal, I shared them with Gini. And she said, “Yes, of course you have to be down there. She’ll be terrified.”
That’s because our partners aren’t partners, but our friends.
This is a consistent pattern. When one of my sweeties was – and is – experiencing legal trouble with their visa to America, Gini kept asking what she could do to help reduce F’s anxiety about possibly having to leave the country. “Yes, of course we must help them.” When another sweetie needed some emergency supplies sent to her, Gini authorized the expenditure without a second thought – “Yes, of course she needs that, send it to her now.”
I should note that Gini is not dating any of these people. They’re my partners alone. Yet Gini’s had dinner with them, hung out, heard me talk about them. She cares.
And that goes both ways. When Gini’s partner wound up in the hospital, I asked her whether she needed to go to him. As it turns out, she didn’t; every partner is different, and her boyfriend was suitably stoic that he neither needed nor wanted hand-holding.
(For the record, when I had my heart attack, I told Gini to stay at her boyfriend’s place that night and catch up with me in the morning, there was nothing she could do in the ER except sleep shittily in a crappy bucket seat and the nurses were taking care of me. I panic about many things, but hospitals are not one of them; we all have our individual times when we need someone to hug us.)
But when her partner was in trouble, I said, “Yes, of course.” Just that the “of course” was Gini slightly spent more time texting him.
What I’m grateful for in our relationships is that we don’t endure each others’ partners, we embrace them.
And part of that is me changing my dating habits. I used to have a lot of churn in my love life, having torrid two-month relationships with scores of partners. Those partners were of varying levels of compatibility with me, and I wasn’t good at filtering out the good people whose needs just didn’t mesh with mine, so Gini was pleasant but she didn’t get attached. How could she? If she really liked someone, the average time I spent dating was about four months!
But as I’ve honed the concept of my polyamorous Justice League, my partners are much better suited for me; everyone I’ve been dating now, I’ve been seeing for at least a year. And Gini’s had time to see how they’re good for me, and to know them well enough to understand why I love them (even if she doesn’t necessarily have the time or inclination to date them herself), and so when something bad comes up….
Her natural reaction is “Yes, of course.”
I’ll be driving tonight to see C. And Gini and I have already rescheduled our reconnection date for next weekend, when hopefully we’ll see movies and snuggle and catch up.
But tomorrow, there’s someone who is terrified of doctors who’ll be in a cold hospital bed. And she’ll have her family there, and she’ll have her friends there.
She’ll also have me.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
Anyway, the past few months have been tough for me in terms of reading. As in, I'm having problems reading books. Ahaha, guess that's what happens when you judge for book award? But it's been a little upsetting for me because I love books. I adore books. And these days, I can't concentrate on finishing one!
Thankfully, it turns out the same cannot be about manga & graphic novels. I can read those just fine. Thank GOD.
Given the state of Kohske's health, this is going to be the last volume for a very long time. In fact, I would tentatively admit that could potentially be the last volume ever. She's not doing well, even deleted her twitter. So eh...
I'd already read a good chunk of these chapters as scanlations but ugh, that still didn't help. Everything hurts. Nothing is okay.
Interestingly enough, while I am a Nicolex shipper through and through and writing them is what I'm known for, this volume made me want to write about the Cristiano family quite a bit.
Goodness, what a beautiful, thick book! For some reason, I had the idea that this was more Asian-based fantasy than it was. It definitely has strong Asian influences but it's not quite as pervasive as I'd expected based on reviews and what people had been saying about it.
I really enjoyed the way Marjorie Liu lays out the story and lets it unfold at its own pace. And especially the way the worldbuilding is executed--it trusts the reader to pick up on things without Obtrusive Exposition. It's fabulous.
I'm never going to switch to singles--it's just not my thing--but I am anxious to read what happens next.
Assassination Classroom 3&4
This was a fun change of pace in the shonen genre since I tend to be wallowing in sports series hell these days. Even One Piece has fallen by the wayside due to sports series!! But this was fun and I ship Irina/Karasuma like burning and thanks to Tumblr, I know they become canon and that is GREAT.
What about you all? Read anything interesting within the last week?