I wish my pussy could live
in a different shape and get
some goddamn respect.
Should I thank you?
Business is booming
and I am not loved
the way I want to be.
I am an elastic
and shock, addictive
decoration. In the sunlight
hibiscus. They tell me
I look regal bearing fruit.
I am technically nothing
I will never be
Somewhere in my
memory, I was held
by a man who said
I deserved it.
Now I understand.
No one worries about me
because I am getting paid.
I am here to show you
who you are, to cradle
your large skulls
and remind you
you are perfect. Mother America,
unleash your sons.
Everything beautiful, you own.
– Morgan Parker
from There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé
I feel like I've heard a retelling of this song in the context of American pioneers, except it wasn't presented as a retelling at all, but as a fact of life about living in a world of homespun: cloth is expensive so you use it till you've twisted every last dreg of life out of it. Maybe it's not a retelling really, but a convergence? People all around the world cut down their old clothes to get more use out of the good bits, and told stories about it...
In any case. This is a particularly Jewish telling of that tale, and quite charming. (My favorite little detail: the discarded newspaper with the headline "Fiddler on Roof Falls Off Roof.") The illustrations are sort of collage-y, with die-cut bits so that, say, you turn the page and the holes will frame just the parts of the coat necessary to make the jacket - which I think would charm me more if I hadn't spent time working in book repair: now I just look at them and quietly have vapors about how easily damaged these die-cuts are. You are giving children a book that is pre-holed, just imagine what damage they will in all innocence do when they stick their clumsy little fingers through.
Also, I'm procrastinating. There are dirty dishes in the kitchen, plus it's garbage/recycling night.
Yeah, mostly we just drive (or sometimes fly) up and down the U.S. east coast. (This is viridian5's fault - she posted it first.)
1. For Locus, to read:
Walter Jon Williams, QUILLIFER
EJ Swift, PARIS ADRIFT
2. For Locus, to review:
Jim Hines, TERMINAL ALLIANCE
Liz Ziemska, MANDELBROT THE MAGNIFICENT
Walter Jon Williams, QUILLIFER
EJ Swift, PARIS ADRIFT
3. For Patreon, to read:
4. For Patreon, to review:
Steven Brust, VALLISTA
Helen S. Wright, A MATTER OF OATHS
5. For Tor.com, to read:
Ada Palmer, THE WILL TO BATTLE
Spencer Ellsworth, SHADOW SUN SEVEN
6. For Tor.com, to review:
Ada Palmer, THE WILL TO BATTLE
Spencer Ellsworth, SHADOW SUN SEVEN
7. Social outings:
- meet gf Tuesday lunch
- meet C. Tuesday @1700
- meet gf Wednesday lunch
- gym Tuesday if not sick
- gym Wednesday if not sick
- email CT
- email JB, FN, KS
I have had this letter at the top of my to-do list for weeks, but when I finally sat down to write it, I couldn't really think of any reason to do it. You have years and years of this tag and so many previous letters if you're the sort of person who wants to dig really deep, and if you're not, you can stop reading now and go back to just my sign-up.
I could go into great detail about where to find the fandoms I requested and so on, but let's be honest, that would be almost entirely for people who might want to write me treats, not for you.
(Although super-quick: all the links you need for Mr. Trash Wheel are in this entry downtag; Njal's Saga is a medieval Icelandic saga which you could probably get a doctorate in but didn't so all I can suggest is gutenberg or a good modern annotated edition of which there are several in many languages, or if you're really ambitious, you can listen to all 12 Njal's Saga episodes of the SagaThing podcast, which is what motivated me to request it. But also I think of stories as old as Njal's saga as living stories rather than a fixed canon so if you want to just find a good summary and work from that, that would be a-ok with me; Murderbot Diaries is so far just one novella, All Systems Red by Martha Wells that came out this year and is probably available at your local library; Girl With The Silver Eyes is a kids' novel from the '80s that is probably not still at your local library but is definitely on Amazon for cheap, at least in the US; and the Barbara Hambly are both many-volume historical mystery series that are still being published, although I would be ok with side-character fic based on characters that only appear in the first volume of either.)
I could also go into great detail about why I like these canons, but you don't actually need thousands of words of rambling about the fundamental essence of Baltimore and urban solarpunk; or about the parallel roles of Hannibal and Simon in re: the construction of Whiteness and classical monsters as racial metaphors; or the performance of gender and honor in medieval Scandinavia; or about the portrayal of neurodivergence mediated through otherness in SF/F stories; and anyway if I did all that it would be totally misleading because really my reaction to these stories is more GIANT GOOGLY EYES and CHEESE CSI and TALKING CATS and SANCTUARY MOON and I read all the Hambly in a month straight while ill last year so really mostly I just LOVE IT ALL on a very shallow and inarticulate level.
I could go into more about my DNWs but honestly my DNWs are usually more about the spirit of the story than the details so it would be just as likely to make you worry about things you don't need to worry about.
(but real quick: please no environmentalism doomy doom for Trash Wheel- post-apocalyptic would be fine but make it hopeful and optimistic no matter how unrealistic that seems sometimes these days; please no doomy doom for Njal either, like, we all know how it ends, it's in the damn title, but he lived to old age which is pretty much a happy ending given the odds for a saga hero and a lot of other stuff happened before that; for Murderbot I think I covered it pretty well in the letter; Silver Eyes and Hambly I'm pretty much good with whatever as long as it's in the spirit of canon more or less and you're careful with the more sensitive bits of the history in Hambly.)
I could give you more prompts but you read my sign-up; do you actually need more prompts? I mean, let me know, I have plenty, but I kind of suspect you are begging me for fewer prompts at this point.
(Crossovers always good, setting-swap AUs also good, the weirder the better, outsider POVs and background characters always good, worldbuilding and setting always good, basically anything in these canons is fine?)
Anyway here is a link to my previous post of my sign-up just for convenience, it is slightly cleaned up with a few more prompts at this point: Yuletide signup
Most importantly, have fun! I promise nothing you write can ruin yuletide for me.*
*That's not a dare. But you would have to try pretty hard to manage it. Truly.
They finished repairing my laptop and I picked it up Friday. The guy manning the counter said he didn't fix it so he didn't know what had gone wrong and how it was fixed and claimed the repair guy worked on so many machines that he probably didn't remember either. Annoyed, I paid up. When I started using it I saw that the anti-virus software wasn't enabled so I contacted AVG service for help. As she worked by remote my laptop turned itself off a few times and finally turned it off and refused to boot up. When I called the repair shop I got the repair guy on the phone and he saw that AVG had been the problem to begin with! You know, the software I paid big bucks for. I told him how nobody told me anything and I certainly wouldn't have restored AVG and disabled my machine again if anyone had informed me of anything. So I brought back my computer that evening.
After two and a half days I went back for my computer. When I returned to my car 15 minutes later after picking up my laptop, my car was gone. Turns out that it was an illegal spot and my car was towed. The signs had been confusing, there had been other people parked there, and I saw people parked illegally all over the place, but my car was towed, leaving me stranded. A call to 311 information, some internet, and a map later, I found the nearest bus stop that would take me to the address of the impound lot. So I did a lot of walking in the humid heat while carrying a seven-pound computer in a shoulder bag, and I'm dead.
The fee for the tow to get it released was $189. There's an additional parking ticket for $60. I'm sure the NYPD doesn't care that I had a parking meter slip in the window to suggest I thought it was legal and I'm sure everyone who gets ticketed in Flushing cites the confusing signage and the police don't care. If not for San San Computer's negligence I wouldn't have even been in the area today!
It's more surprise! bills recently requiring money I don't actually have. I'm so tired of life kicking me in the face and bank account these days, and I'm currently physically tired and hurting badly.
The Winter Lakes, William Wilfred Campbell
Out in a world of death far to the northward lying,
Under the sun and the moon, under the dusk and the day;
Under the glimmer of stars and the purple of sunsets dying,
Wan and waste and white, stretch the great lakes away.
Never a bud of spring, never a laugh of summer,
Never a dream of love, never a song of bird;
But only the silence and white, the shores that grow chiller and dumber,
Wherever the ice winds sob, and the griefs of winter are heard.
Crags that are black and wet out of the grey lake looming,
Under the sunset's flush and the pallid, faint glimmer of dawn;
Shadowy, ghost-like shores, where midnight surfs are booming
Thunders of wintry woe over the spaces wan.
Lands that loom like spectres, whited regions of winter,
Wastes of desolate woods, deserts of water and shore;
A world of winter and death, within these regions who enter,
Lost to summer and life, go to return no more.
Moons that glimmer above, waters that lie white under,
Miles and miles of lake far out under the night;
Foaming crests of waves, surfs that shoreward thunder,
Shadowy shapes that flee, haunting the spaces white.
Lonely hidden bays, moon-lit, ice-rimmed, winding,
Fringed by forests and crags, haunted by shadowy shores;
Hushed from the outward strife, where the mighty surf is grinding
Death and hate on the rocks, as sandward and landward it roars.
Campbell was a Canadian poet, one of the so-called Confederation Poets, a coterie born in the few years around 1860 when the Confederation was founded.
Subject quote from "The Show-Shower," William Cullent Bryant.
But the other day I tried out a new recipe for a side dish of onions and bell peppers with marjoram, and had some left over. When I went to put it in the fridge, I saw I also had some leftover kielbasa. And I know that one of the recipes I’ve made several times, a kielbasa stew, includes marjoram.
So, by the transitive property of marjoram: I can combine these things, right?
And lo, I have Invented a Dish. Fried the kielbasa for a couple of minutes, tossed the onions and bell peppers in to warm them up, dumped the result over rice, hey presto, it worked. In the future I can make this on purpose, as its own thing, rather than just as a way to use up leftovers (though it can be that, too). I’m still not knowledgeable enough to go tossing marjoram into things without precedent to guide me . . . but I can pay attention to which recipes use which flavorings, and start absorbing the underlying principles there.
Baby steps, yo.
She was perched on one of those molded-plastic chairs that have depressions for your bottom and your back. She had her legs drawn up to her chest and was concentrated fixedly on her phone. She was pretty, but nervous seeming, someone I'd expect to express themselves in waves of rapid speech.
She was having a Prius fixed. Unrelated to whatever its troubles were, it was missing its rear hubcaps. Before it had been missing one, but now it was missing both. "Oh well--now it's symmetrical," the woman said.
One of the mechanics chatted with her as she was paying, from which he (and I) learned that she'd moved to this area from California, which she'd left because of the--what do you guess? Guess anything! I was thinking she'd say wildfires. (Answer is below the picture.)
She said traffic. Which I know is bad, based on what friends have told me. But so bad that you move state? And not just to a different state, but 3,000 miles away? There's more to this story than meets the eye. Or ear. It's none of my business, but I do wonder.
A booklist which includes Tropic of Cancer and Little Women:
And some of those are Very Long Important Novels but some of them are quite short, and not even short in the sense of 'compressed and elliptical and dense'.
And some of them are challenging reads on account of subject matter but others, really, not so much I would have thought.
And, generically, quite a mishmash.
But a list that includes Clarissa and Coraline?
Okay, some of those books look like set texts that people had to struggle through and then found worth the journey, but others, presumably, are not the kind of books that feature in lit courses.
And some are even in the category I would have considered rattling airport reads...
(And if you missed it, I made some Star Trek: Disovery icons for Michael Burnham, Tilly, and Saru; I'll make better ones next weekend.)
First, FemslashEx! I received three incredible stories, so I can't emphasize enough how much I'll be doing this exchange next year, too.
My official gift was Female Revolutionary/Princess, Burn, by Edonohana, which I actually guessed! Because I put together sexiness, brilliantly precise prose, and incredibly skilled fantasy world-building and got suspicious! I keep misremembering this as being 10k, that's how much is in it.
I also received two treats! The wonderfully-named IdMonster wrote me Aunt Lydia/Janine in Good, a gorgeously complex dubcon darkfic that was everything I could have ever dreamed of for this pairing. Could be canon, should be canon.
And I also got some amazing kinky Wonder Woman smut, The Ecstasy of Surrender (Diana/Isabel Maru), by BridgetMcKennitt. It is a smorgasbord of appealing, personalized kink, with lasso of truth bondage and a little redemption creeping in around the edges. Just awesome.
I matched on Mulholland Drive and wrote Come and Be Discovered for laughingpineapple. It's a would-be Lynchian look at what might have happened if Rita and Betty had been able to stay in the dream world.
I planned roughly ten treats and yet only finished one, The Part of Her Hair (Mary Bennet/OFC, plus general Bennet family interaction), for anabel. I've been incredibly delighted with the reception this has gotten.
Next, Canada/Bouchercon trip!
S. and I went up north through Rochester, NY to see some friends of hers (one of whom was a bridesmaid at our wedding and who laughs at my terrible jokes). We ate delicious Cambodian food, which I had never had before, and talked about how absurd the "match" system is that medical students have to go through to find permanent positions. S. and I were suitably impressed by it as a dystopian social organization technique. If you're not familiar with it, the best way I can think to describe it is "an engine to generate unhappiness." And the best way Wikipedia can describe it is perhaps more pertinent.
The friend's live-in boyfriend is a film studies grad student. S.'s friends and family members, all seemingly independent of each other, are always dating and marrying film studies guys, which is cool for me because I am an amateurish film geek. So S. and her friends caught up while I gazed longingly at Criterion Editions and talked to this guy about Peckinpah, and a good time was had by all.
Rochester was also very appealingly queer, so we went to a queer coffee-shop for breakfast one day and hung out there for a bit looking at their informal lending library.
Next, Niagara Falls, which is one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sights I have ever seen surrounded by the most boring parts of amusement parks, complete with endless mediocre restaurants, zombie laser tag, dinosaur putt-putt, Ripley's Museums, rides, and overpriced souvenir shops. It managed the difficult feat of both being kind of depressing and in possession of its own charm. We almost did go play dino putt-putt, but instead went to the much more tasteful Niagara-on-the-Lake for dinner and the purchase of fancy jams. One store was selling the cutest ottomans I have ever seen, all shaped like plump animals, and it was only the thought of having to lug it all the way back to the car that prevented me from buying one despite the fact that our apartment has absolutely nowhere to put it.
We only really had one day in Toronto to do tourist stuff before Bouchercon started, and aside from going to the very cool Bakka Phoenix (an exclusively science fiction/fantasy bookstore at which I bought a truly ridiculous amount of CJ Cherryh), we did nothing cool because the day was cursed. This is what S. and I always conclude whenever we hit one of those stretches of everything going just slightly wrong. There's nothing you can do about the curse, you just have to hope the next day is better.
And it was! Actually, all three days of Bouchercon (we skipped out too early on Sunday for it to count) were great. I got Meghan Abbott's autograph, got to meet an internet friend, and really enjoyed luxuriating in a few days of non-stop book and writing discussion. I have a mile-wide soft spot for talking about writing as a craft, especially with regard to structure, so this was all catnip. Aside from all the Meghan Abbott panels--she was there for Best Short Story, Best Novel, and Guest of Honor interview--my favorite might have been the panel on using reporter heroes, which I chose almost at random from three things I wanted to go to at the same time. But the panelists were all lively, engaged, and full of professional detail and insights about the unique in-between role reporters can play in mysteries (they're not cops, so they can't compel people to talk to them, but people are more likely to talk to them; they don't generally carry guns and are therefore more vulnerable than cops or PIs; their allegiance is to truth and full discovery rather than to justice, which just slightly shifts the moral balance).
And, awesomely, I finally got to meet Sarah/herowndeliverance in person, first for a dinner and then for a lunch, and it was just very nice to get to have an extended face-to-face conversation finally. I'm so glad she was able to make it to Toronto. (Apparently she and S. were both worried about whether or not the other would like them, but everyone universally liked each other.) There was some slight mistiness at the end of that lunch.
Gustav Holst - Mars, the Bringer of War (The rest of the planets suite is pretty nice, too.)
What can I say? I'm boring and also I don't listen to
(In other news: it's snowing!)
Friday night was dinner with friends and a concert; I didn't gym, but did walk home, a little over a mile.
Saturday, I did two loads of laundry and then met up with Ms. 9; among other things, we walked to the ice rink for the public skate, and got milkshakes, because the nearby gelato place closed! Shocker! Then I met up with a friend for an evening concert. We had gelato at the place in my neighborhood afterwards while we discussed the concert. You know it's art if it makes you think about it afterwards.
The concert was a World War One-themed program, which transitioned between movements from a period (English) requiem, popular songs done as solos or chorally, and poetry. Being a WWI geek, I was familiar with all the material except the requiem. I discovered I didn't like the poetry aspect, because the narrators were often speaking over either the percussionist or singing, and I apparently can't track that sort of thing, despite being very familiar with the poems. The mixture of mediums throughout left me a little unsettled, unable to concentrate on the music as much as I would have liked. I think I would have preferred hearing the requiem all in one go, instead of having the movements spread throughout the program; though I can see why did it, as the program was broken into three thematic sections. So, it was art, and I got to chat briefly with my friend in the choir afterwards.
Sunday, I woke up normally, but then went back to bed for another three hours. I went to afternoon brunch with a friend, bought peanut butter, then went home, put away some but not all of the laundry, and spent the rest of the evening reading in bed.
DCU/MCU; Peggy Carter, Etta Candy, Diana of Themyscira; g; 1,040 words
In which Peggy Carter meets Etta Candy.
Slightly cleaned up from the version I posted on tumblr last night. Or read it on AO3.
( This could be the start of a beautiful friendship. )
Feedback is always welcome.