"It's been a long month this week"

Mar. 25th, 2017 03:51 am
rosefox: A person in a gas mask. (illness)
[personal profile] rosefox
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] schanoes 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.
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] sovay
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.

Invoking Good Witches

Mar. 24th, 2017 05:17 pm
steepholm: (Default)
[personal profile] steepholm
When did good witches start to appear in British children's literature? I don't mean wise women, good fairies, or anything of that kind, but outright, named-as-such witches.

In America there are the Oz books, of course, though they in any case seem something of an outlier: did Oz spawn other good Stateside witches in the decades immediately following? In the UK, though, mid-twentieth-century witches (e.g. in John Masefield's The Midnight Folk [1927], T. H. White's The Sword in the Stone [1938], Ursula Moray Williams' Gobbolino the Witch's Cat [1942] and Barbara Sleigh's Carbonel, Prince of Cats [1955]) are generally malignant, as per tradition, and that tends to be the case into the 1970s, too: see for example the witches in Mary Stewart's The Little Broomstick (1971) (soon to be an anime feature, by the way, under the title, Mary and the Witch's Flower) or Diana Wynne Jones's Wilkins' Tooth/Witch's Business (1973). The first good British witch I can think of is in Nina Beachcroft's Well Met by Witchlight (1972), and even she is paired off against a bad one.

In a slightly different category are the good comedy witches. Oddly, there doesn't seem to have been much influence in Britain from the magic-in-a-modern-suburban-setting style of American sitcom, as in Bewitched, The Addams Family or The Munsters (all 1964), where the comedy comes from the incongruity of the modern - unless the boarding-school setting of Jill Murphy's Worst Witch series (from 1974) counts as such. In Britain, naturally, we're all about the comic incompetence, as with Murphy's Mildred Hubble and (though to a far lesser extent) Helen Nicoll and Jan Pieńkowski's Meg and Mog (from 1972). Both Mildred and Meg count as good, I suppose?

As for New Age/Wicca-inspired good witches, I'm not really aware of anything in Britain until 1990, when we get Monica Furlong's Wise Child (if indeed Juniper really is a witch - I'm not sure she identifies as such) - although in New Zealand Margaret Mahy had begun as early as 1984, with the Carlisle witches in The Changeover.

This is pretty much a top-of-the-head list. I don't want a baptismal curse, so tell me - whom have I neglected? Can you beat Nina Beachcroft in 1971? I'm sure you can.

Assorted Emails

Mar. 24th, 2017 08:32 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
If you want to email/write/fax your reps and senators about any of these issues, feel free to crib from me, edit, whatever.

1. The AHCA amendments are even less acceptable than the bill itself – the one which concerns me is that one of the amendments would remove the requirement that health plans sold to individuals and small businesses must cover essential health benefits, many of which affect me personally. I do not trust the state of Pennsylvania to determine what basic health benefits my insurance must include. My state could even cut all of the ten essential health benefits, or refuse to set a minimum amount of coverage.

That amendment is preposterous. Please vote [representative] encourage your colleagues to vote [senators] against it.


2. Confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch should be delayed while the FBI’s investigation into governmental ties with Russia is still in progress. Investigation of multiple members of the administration is worrisome and should be central at this time.

Additionally, lifetime appointments to SCOTUS should not be made by an administration that is potentially seriously tainted.


3. Attorney General Sessions’ recusal from the investigation into Russian hacking was only the minimum required. He should also resign, and accept whatever penalties he incurred for his documented misconduct.

Please demand that the integrity of the office of Attorney General be upheld.


4. I made this one more generalized than the one I actually sent. The NEA, the NHA, and the CPB provide funding that is minimal but still helps to employ large numbers of American artists. Musicians perform concerts and attract a steady audience from both the city and the surrounding areas.

Audiences don’t just sit and listen; both before and after the performances, they park their cars, eat in restaurants, drink in bars, do a little shopping if they happen to be early – in short, they spend money which helps local businesses. At the concerts, attendees meet their neighbors and make plans to attend still more concerts, buying more tickets, spending more money, something that doesn’t happen when you listen to music at home, alone.

The arts are a vital part of our economy as well as our culture. Please support funding for the NEA, the NHA, and the CPB.


5. I strongly oppose the President's proposed budget. The current outline will slash funding for the State Department, foreign aid, and every domestic agency while instead adding $54 billion in military spending, when we already spend far more than is needed for this purpose. If some of this money went to support our soldiers, their families, and our veterans and their healthcare needs, I might be onboard, but as it is, this is a ridiculous waste.

Please remember those in our state who continue to pledge their lives and their bodies to protect us, and support them rather than voting for useless spending on more weapons.

In which she has a polsci theory

Mar. 24th, 2017 08:05 pm
zeborah: Four zebras and their reflections in the water they're drinking from (reflective)
[personal profile] zeborah
Of course I'm not a polsci expert so this may be old news or it may be bunk or it may be both. But my theory goes:

Every possible political/economic system has its strengths and its weaknesses, its virtues and vices. They're each good for some things, terrible for others. This includes capitalism, and communism, and totalitarianism. (I don't say that they each have equal proportions of bad and good.)

So a pure capitalist society can't be perfect. No more a pure communist society, no more any society that's purely one system because humans are too complicated for any one solution to cover all the problems.

If you try to solve all the problems with one system, things start to fall apart (kind of like now). At some point people look for a new system. When things fall apart enough, people actually try to implement it, and it does really well at solving the problems with the first system. So they idealise it: this is progress, this system is our future.

The problem is that part of the reason it works so well is that the old system is still solving a lot of problems too.

Capitalism is fantastic! Competition! Efficiency! Choice! Opportunity! But those things only work to any extent for as long as we retain the old-fashioned safety nets of social responsibility. When we pursue capitalism as if it can solve every problem, cracks appear and people fall through them.

Whatever the solution after capitalism, I bet it will be eventually be the same. But if it was possible to find that sweet spot in the transition period and -- not stop there. A two-solution system is hardly perfect either. But if we could, instead of racing forward past that transtion point into a new one-solution system, hover there and reach sideways to add a third, and fourth, and fifth solution into the system, getting a happy medium of systems without getting all competitive about the ideologies....

(Except maybe totalitarianism. Certainly a very little totalitarianism goes a very very long way.)

some things

Mar. 23rd, 2017 10:51 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
* I almost have my MRI referral, yay. First I must go for an X-ray, boo, because my med insurance requires one before the other. The facility has walk-in X-rays, boo, and to get in line, I'll have to rise even earlier, which usually leads to Reason's early rising, too, double boo. It's more than 5 km from the office, boo, on a bus line, yay.

I don't understand the logic that requires irradiation to rule out bone chips before imaging soft tissue, given that I have partial use of my shoulder---continually so since the fall three months ago. I am enormously glad to have partial use of my shoulder, to be clear: I can type and handwrite, get into a shirt without much trouble, open a lightweight door, even do forearm planks and ± hang the laundry. (I hang everything besides sheets because I like wearing things out, not having the dryer do it for me.) I can't hand my child a fork or spoon without pain, however, given where we sit at table: angle of extension, not how demanding the task is. After my grumpy post about near-total lack of abduction, I tried the bicycle, which overtaxed my left shoulder in compensation but led to a nap, not a fall. ...yay? (Informed risks are part and parcel of chronic pain, anyway.) While I read random web things, my left hand uses the mouse while my right arm bends and curls into my ribs unbidden, as though my body could protect it. Sorry, arm and axle; please keep waiting.

* Reason is so annoyed that Hidden Figures the book is "for grownups" and has "a ton of text." Wait two or three years, little one, and you'll probably skate through it. (She wouldn't be so irritated were she unable to conceive of herself reading it.) There's apparently a Young Readers version, but our nearest library doesn't have it.
yhlee: Alto clef and whole note (middle C). (alto clef)
[personal profile] yhlee
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... )

"Ninefox March" working notes

Mar. 23rd, 2017 04:05 pm
yhlee: Alto clef and whole note (middle C). (alto clef)
[personal profile] yhlee
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)
[personal profile] sovay
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.

Because it might help to know

Mar. 23rd, 2017 08:01 pm
rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
that it's NOT just awesome people dying lately:

The New York Times: Joseph Nicolosi, Advocate of Conversion Therapy for Gays, Dies at 70

From five years ago, here's an account of the sort of damage he did (content note for suicidal ideation):

Gabriel Arana: My So-Called Ex-Gay Life

FMK: The Princess and the Goblin

Mar. 23rd, 2017 12:14 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
Princess Irene is definitely D'Angeline, isn't she. Which of the angels is her Great-Grandmama?

...Anyway, somehow I was expecting this to be about a princess and a goblin, not a princess and a peasant boy and a WHOLE BUNCH of goblins, none of whom she really interacts with. I think somehow I had got the impression that Curdie was a goblin who helped her out.

That's really the core of my response to this book. As I was reading it (and I'm very glad I did) I was seeing all the ways in which this is really an important foundation block in the later fantasy I've read, missing pieces that I haven't found in extensive folklore reading but still turn up every now and then in post-Victorian stuff, even such little things as the physical descriptions of the goblins. (Such as having a jack-o-lantern face, when folklore pumpkinheads are usually very distinct from folklore goblins.)

And then there's the very strong, and very Victorian, thread in this book of beautiful = good and ugly = bad. Not to say that post-Victorian kidlit has totally solved that one, but still, there's enough pushback against it in newer kids' fantasy (and in folklore) that my response to the lady who is beautiful beyond imagining (*especially* if she admits she's wearing a glamour) is BEWARE, and you should probably go find an ugly crone to talk to instead. Also I can't think of a single reason why the goblins aren't in the right here, given the way they are being dehumanized and their lands are being steadily stolen and then destroyed. They even try for a diplomatic solution first!

Of course, the fairy-story books I was imprinting on instead when I was the age for this were The Ordinary Princess (all about how Ordinary doesn't have to be Beautiful to be Good) and Goblins in the Castle (where Our Hero realizes halfway through that the displaced goblins are in the right and he's been on the wrong side all along). Both of those books are almost certainly arguing with MacDonald and his peers, whether consciously on the part of the writers or not, but I got their side of the argument first and it's a much better side. :P

I was also interested in how young Irene was. There's a standard in kidlit publishing (or at least there was, awhile back) that your protagonist should always be at least a couple of years older than the reading level you're writing for, presumably as an aspirational thing, and also so kids who read a lot can feel smug about reading books for older kids and kids who are a little slower don't have to be talked down to.

But I'm wondering if it's also because adult authors tend to write their protagonists acting a few years younger than kids of that age feel like they are in their heads. Irene certainly feels younger than eight to me, for a lot of the book: at eight I could tell you who my cousins-once-removed were and how they were different from my second-cousins, and I can't imagine many second graders I know being confused by the concept of a great-grandma, or in general have Irene's maturity level. And when I was a kid, reading books about kids a few years older than me, the protagonists didn't usually feel like they were that much older than me. Maybe by telling grownups to write eleven-year-olds for eight-year-olds, you end up with characters who feel like eight-year-olds to eight-year-olds.

I did really like the strong message in this book that adults need to believe what kids say to them, and that if the adults don't, that's on the adults, not the kids. And if the kids let themselves be half-convinced the adults are right and the kids are imagining or exaggerating, it's also the adults' fault, and not the kids failing, and not just "part of growing up." And that the mysterious secret stranger actually tells the protagonist to tell all her grown-ups everything, not to keep it secret, because adults who tell you to keep your relationship a secret are probably not the adults you should rely on. That's something that is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT to teach a lot of kids (although probably more important to teach grownups), and I think the way MacDonald did it was a lot more emotionally real and with a lot more conviction than a lot of other people, especially modern kids' fantasy, where the parents not believing or not being told is either taken for granted or treated as harmless.

Also wow, you really couldn't get away with handing a character a LITERAL PLOT THREAD in a modern book...
kore: (Peggy Carter)
[personal profile] kore
First of all, thank you for writing for me! I love Peggy and her show, and since you're writing for SSRC I assume you love her and her show too, unless Dottie Underwood made you sign up with a gun to your head. :-) I'm a pretty flexible and open-minded person and am usually surprised and happy with just about any fest fic, because I love seeing what other people do with story ideas and character prompts. I'm equally happy with gen, het, slash, femslash, and OTPs as well as multiple partners. Please don't feel you have to suffer to write a story for me, I think the important thing is we all have fun.


General: about me )


Particular: about the show )


Specific requests from the AO3 signup for my own reference )

Accomplishments This Week

Mar. 23rd, 2017 08:31 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
1. Sent emails to my reps every weekday (via their websites).

2. Went to the gym twice, as planned, though I did a little less than planned last night due to some knee pain, possibly a result of Monday's workout. Planning to go a third time on Friday, and I'll be walking around a lot on Saturday.

3. Called the dentist, went to the dentist, forked out cash for a custom mouth guard I'm supposed to wear at night so there will be no/less incisor chipping in the future. I pick up the guard in two weeks.

4. Compiled my deductions and tax documents, and sent them to my tax preparer. *fireworks*

5. Made good progress on reading my review book.
rydra_wong: Fragment of a Tube map, with stations renamed Piero della Francesca, Harpo, Socrates and Seneca. (walking -- the great bear)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
The Guardian: Donald Trump Jr called 'a disgrace' for tweet goading London mayor Sadiq Khan

Yup, he decided to use the attack on Parliament as an excuse to insult (and misrepresent) the Mayor of London while the incident was still live.

Everyone at Westminster was still in lockdown and trapped in the chamber or their offices while he was Tweeting.

I can't think why he thought London's British-Pakistani Muslim mayor was an appropriate target at a time like this, except that that's a lie, I totally can, because it's really fucking obvious.

Also, the risk of terror attacks is an inevitable part of living in a big city (and I am more than old enough to remember when it was the IRA).
sovay: (Sydney Carton)
[personal profile] sovay
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.

wie lieblich sind deine wohnungen

Mar. 22nd, 2017 07:16 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Mirok Li, Der Yalu fließt, trans. as The Yalu Flows by H. A. Hammelmann (1956): as a young man, Li was instructed by his mother to flee north across the nearby Amnok River (a.k.a. Yalu) and escape the Japanese police, probably circa 1920. He never returned to Korea; from China he made his way to Bavaria and worked as a doctor until his death in 1950. Besides this book, which is a remembrance of his childhood---it ends quite abruptly after his river-crossing into Manchuria---Li left scraps of a second book, which Hammelmann describes as a reflection upon juxtaposing European life with his Eastern upbringing. Think about it for a moment: born around the time when the Japanese government began occupying Korea, departed shortly after the March 1 movement---and then, somehow, sufficiently at home in a Bavarian village that people came to him for medical consultation amidst the tumult of the Third Reich.

A whole paragraph of my notes-while-reading was eaten by something, probably OneNote, so I no longer have the romanized names that caught my eye. "Mirok" is 미륵, more usually Mirŭk or Mireuk, as in the usual Korean rendering of Maitreya, the Buddha; his father's given name is rendered "Kamtsal," and due to Li's childhood training in classical Chinese, I'm not sure what to do with that Wade-Gilesish ts- as filtered through German. Chŏl, maybe? Two more bits have floated up while I type---Li's father asks him once whether he has heard of the great Korean poet "Kim-Saggaz," and Li's teaching includes the works of "Mang-dsa"---that's Menzius auf deutsch, usually Mencius or Mengzi in English.

I can see why people place this and Younghill Kang's The Grass Roof together, but Kang's text is almost painfully satirical, whereas Li's is almost painfully earnest, too earnest to be much truer than Kang's. Li's account is nonetheless nearer the technically fictional yet memoirish Richard E. Kim's Lost Names (1970), as expected.

I really wish that more writers besides these men and Park Wan-suh (her preferred romanization) had felt empowered to express themselves in semi-autobiographical writing (with a visibility level enabling translation into a language I can read). It's selfish, but seriously, they're all from yangban families---why don't we have a wider representation of voices? At this point, if we don't, we won't---they're dead---unless someone's writings are discovered late.

(no subject)

Mar. 22nd, 2017 09:21 pm
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (cosmia)
[personal profile] skygiants
After reading Peter Beagle's Summerlong and being Tragically Unimpressed, I made my book club read Tamsin just so I could remember the Beagles I have loved before.

Tamsin is very much a Beagle I have loved before. As a teenager it was probably my favorite Beagle, even moreso than The Last Unicorn, just because I identified so hard with sulky, obstreperous Jenny Gluckstein, a Jewish New York teenager who moves to Dorset and promptly falls head-over-heels for a beautiful eighteenth-century ghost named Tamsin Willoughby.

I described the book this way in book club. "But I don't want to oversell you on how gay it is," I added, worriedly. "I mean I haven't reread it since I was a teenager. It definitely might not be as gay as I remember. Maybe it isn't gay at all, and I was just projecting!"

...rest assured, this book is very gay. We're not entirely sure if Beagle knows just how gay it is? There are numerous moments where Jenny describes in great detail the tingly feelings that Tamsin's quirky smile and vanilla smell and tiny ghost freckles make her feel, and then adds something like "I guess I'll probably feel that way about a boy someday!" Will you, Jenny? WILL YOU?

(I mean, maybe she will, bisexuality definitely an option, I'm just saying. The book is first-person, with the device of being an explanation of Everything That Went Down from the perspective of several years later for Jenny's friend Meena to read; the structure makes a whole lot more sense if one just assumes Jenny and Menna are by this point dating. Meena is in the book plenty! Thematically paralleled with Tamsin, even! Meena's jealousy of the time Jenny spends mysteriously disappearing to hang out with a ghost and Jenny's jealousy of Meena's tragic crush on The Boy She Pines For Across The Choir Benches is a whole thing!)

So yes, in retrospect, it turns out I still love Tamsin - even though, in retrospect, reading it now, it's a super weirdly-structured book. The first solid third of the book is all Jenny's SULKY OBSTREPEROUS AGONIZING TEENAGE FEELINGS about leaving New York, which is fine, I guess, except it introduces half a dozen characters that are super important to Jenny in New York and will never be important again. Then another character who's incredibly important to the finale of the book shows up maybe three chapters before the end, and Jenny's like "oh yeah, I forgot to mention her? But she's been here the whole time, having weird interactions with me the whole time, let's just pretend I've been talking about it, OK? OK."

Still, Jenny's amused-embarrassed voice looking back at all the time she spent as a hideously embarrassing teenager continues to ring about as true for me as it did when I myself was a hideously embarrassing teenager. I think I'm always going to love Tamsin for that.

(Also the tragic feline love story of between Jenny's actual factual cat and Tamsin's imperturbable ghost cat continues to delight.)

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