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.
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.
As for the latter -- for braving 15,000 hours of commute -- I absolutely need engaging audiobook (iTunes / iBooks) recommendations.
Can you help? Things I like:
- Mystery & suspense & thrillers,
- Queerness (but that's not a prerequisite; I just cannot deal with unhealthy heterosexual role dynamics).
Things I don't like:
- Any type of family quarrel or issue,
- Violence against women or queer people or disabled people,
- Too many technical descriptions, battles, or fight scenes; I just don't care (this is sometimes a sci-fi problem).
To pad this, I've recently listened to Sarah Waters' Fingersmith, which was fantastic; I've listened to Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter, which was well-written enough but full of rape, violence against women and queer and disabled people (I wish I were kidding); and I'm listening to Transformed by Suzanne Falter & Jack Harvey, which is entertaining but hardly compelling (the "Society Domme" is just not working for me).
...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...
Amazon refunded me and told me to reorder and they would pay any shipping costs (hilarious because I have Prime so there are no shipping costs) but it's just inexplicable that this has happened twice within a week. My address has not changed! It's not wrong in my profile! So I don't even know what's going on.
In other news, boss1 said something interesting to me the other day when she was offering condolences, that now with my father gone, we'd get back the younger version of him in our memories. And I was telling L about it, because I've been thinking a lot about it.
It's true that the declining years are top of mind right now, and that's why people telling older stories is so important - he wasn't just an occasionally querulous old man with no short-term memory - he was an active member of his community for a long time, he was loved by his family members, and thought of warmly by his co-workers and friends. He did a lot of quiet good in his way for the people in his life, even if he sometimes seemed overly-strict or demanding with us. And I guess that's the man I want to think of, the one who used to send cheery good morning texts every day, who always made us feel like he wanted us to be happy above all - even if he didn't understand what we claimed we needed for that, he wanted us to have it.
I want to remember how he was always ready to believe in the best of us, and bail us out even when we didn't live up to that (I don't mean actually bailing us out of jail - we never had that experience! but with teachers and other school authorities etc. I will never forget his firm insistence of "My son wouldn't do that!" when he got a call saying my brother had been found passed out drunk in the hotel hallway on the school ski trip. And he never yelled at my brother for it - he just made him pay back the cost of the trip over time, since he was sent home the morning after he arrived without ever even making it onto the slopes. As he later said, he figured the humiliation of being sent home like that and missing out on his trip was punishment enough).
He made his share of mistakes and left us with some annoying baggage, but overall, I think he did way more good than harm in the end. At least, that's how I'd like to remember him.
( General: about me )
( Particular: about the show )
( Specific requests from the AO3 signup for my own reference )
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.
First and foremost, this is very much its own movie -- although it's spun from the same root, the fabric of this narrative is distinct from what you've seen in the animated version and/or stage production. (I have seen the stage version -- specifically, the first national touring production, which inherited some of its cast from the original Broadway run. I also own the Broadway cast album for the show, as well as a set of CDs including not just the animated soundtrack, but additional developmental material by Ashman and Menken.)
Think of it this way: the animated feature is essentially Belle's story -- she is the primary focus around whom everyone else orbits. It's the closest of the three to a pure romance, and the one of the three that really acknowledges the passage of time as the central relationship develops (compare "Something There" in each version, and you'll see what I mean). By contrast, in the stage version, it's Lumiere who's at the center of things -- it's his musical presence and status as nominal host that focuses the action, particularly in the second half of the show, driven in part by the expanded attention given to the Beast's houseful of transformed servants (notably in the long number surrounding "Human Again").
This shifts again in the live-action movie: this time, it's Gaston who's chief catalyst and motivator. It's Gaston, much more of a direct threat much earlier on than we've previously seen, who propels Belle and Maurice into the events that lead them to the Beast's castle. In this version, what happens to Maurice and to Belle is in significant part driven by Gaston's active antagonism, and likewise the Beast's actions are driven in part -- if less overtly -- by Gaston's influence. This is an altogether nastier, darker, more knowingly Evil Gaston than he's been before, and the whole movie is colored by that difference.
Which is not to say that all is dark and grim and moody, because it's not. "Be Our Guest" and the post-climax grand ball are still spectacular, the banter between Lumiere and Cogsworth is still delicious, and Kevin Kline injects some wonderfully dry wit into Maurice's character. Indeed, this is a more character-driven film than either of its prior counterparts -- we get more back story for all of the principals, including additional songs for Maurice and the Beast (in fact, very little music is borrowed from the stage musical). There is also some further context for the spell and its effects, with ramifications that are likely to generate a good deal of fanfic.
All in all, I liked the movie a great deal. Ironically, the one area where it doesn't quite sparkle is the singing, which just can't quite compete with the iconic performances from the animated original (although the live version of "Gaston" comes close). Don't get me wrong -- it's mostly very good, just not really at the level of either of its predecessors.
Soooo what kind of plant daemon does your character have, and how’s that working out for them?
OK, this is cool and hopeful: a new technology for dealing with oil spills.
This is a fab resource for fic- and genre-writers, I believe.
At times they sounded like villains from a Michael Crichton novel. Russian scientists fight to save the earth from climate change by restoring the Pleistocene grasslands in the Siberian Arctic. This includes re-establishing herds of bison, musk oxen, wild horses -- and woolly mammoths. These Russians are bringing back the ice age to protect the future.
You might need to see this toad with a hat.
You might also need to see the art for this awesome mashup.
Politics is all moving too fast to keep up! Argh. Also, eeps.
A few political links:
Resist repeal of the ACA.
I rarely get into professional stuff here, but I thought I’d share something today. I spent part of this week in training, learning how to comply with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. What’s that, you say? ( let me tell you a story. )
Anyway, that’s my little lecture about how the administrative state is responsible for saving tens of millions of birds nationwide.
Getting back in the reading groove a little --
Finishing up Underground Airlines by Ben Winters on audiobook. It's sort of a noir/mystery set in an alternate history where the US Civil War never happened and slavery continues to exist in a few Southern states. The world-building is interesting, and the author seems to have a strong understanding of politics and history that makes me think, "OK, sure, that could have happened." It's tightly plotted with lots of twists, and while I wish the character work were a little stronger, the narrative voice is very good. Also, if anybody's read this, ( spoilery question )
I've read a little bit of Version Control by Dexter Palmer, a near future novel which I understand has an interesting sci fi premise but that I won't figure out what it is until later in the book. I like it so far, lots of possibilities.
And I was attempting to do a 'quick' re-read/re-skim of Sister Citizen, by Melissa V. Harris-Perry, which I recommended for my social justice book club based on having read it a couple years ago. But it's both so absorbing and so well-argued that it's not especially skimmable; hopefully I'll get through most of it before Saturday.
What did you recently finish reading?
I somehow missed Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game when I was a kid, noticed my library had it on audiobook. I enjoyed this. . .it's fun and a bit silly, with a large and potentially cartoonish cast of characters, but there turns out to be a lot more subtlety to the character portraits and relationships than it seems at first. Turtle Wexler for president.
What do you think you’ll read next?
If I ever finish what I'm working on, I need to get back to All the Birds in the Sky. From there I guess I'll see.
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.