Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sweet Lou

I still remember when my brother gave me New York.  Lou was raw, and he waspretty great.

Aww.  Best title I've seen.

I share a name with this guy.  And he shares one with Clovis.  Ultimately, Hludo-vechus gave all us Louises and Louis and Ludwigs a little of his noise and fame.  What a guy.

Same for Lou.

Not the Mommy ... Not the Work-Wife Either

On the one hand, I suppose by today’s standards and expectations, “it’s attention” – and any attention, all attention, is supposed to be good.  On the hand I want to tweak people's noses with, though, this little pat on the head is pretty backhanded.  It actually includes the phrase ‘behind every leader’ ... because, as everyone “knows”, a secretary is not a leader (and, apparently, the WSJ mug who got stuck with this article does not understand that in fact admins stand well in front of the leaders for whom we work, because that's the only sensible place for a gatekeeper to be).

My job these days doesn't involve anniversaries and pets – because I am a professional, and my bosses are not celebrities lacking boundaries.  I am anything BUT a stage mommy, as the article sneers, nor the nose-wiping housekeeper for my team.  Indeed, this article’s position that an executive admin’s job takes a huge toll on their personal life demonstrates exactly the sort of extracurricular expectations that twenty-seven years as an admin have removed from my plate.  I’m an admin precisely because when I leave, I get to *leave* my job.

Of course there are those admins who hold their bosses hands as discussed in this piece – but those are not the rule, they are the people who work for those rare and special snowflakes who consider that they have a relevant need for a 24-hour secretary on call.  I plan my bosses’ travel and events such that they don’t need me at seven p.m. nor at four a.m.  They’re grownups too – and I don’t just mean the current ones, I mean all the executives I have worked for over the past fifteen years since I got out of the clerical trenches and upped the professional game for myself.  The one boss I've ever had who called me off-hours was the guy who once asked me one day for a tortuously detailed daily call log, and who, when I delivered it the next day, looked at me like I'd lost my mind and asked me what that was and why I'd wasted time on such a thing.  Sigh.

I’ve described before the wobbling sine wave of my resume, which has been almost a case study in the 20th/21st-century administrative career.  I have worked at very high levels, but the past five years and some change have not been the most vertigo-inducing of those.  I’m secure, grateful, and very fortunate, but as sensitive as my employment still is, it’s not one with the kind of access I had when I worked in Risk Management at one of the largest securities firms in the country.  I worked with the people who suggested that perhaps offering credit to every toddler, puppy, and inanimate object in the country was perhaps a poor idea ... just before The Whole Thing Crashed, and the discovery was made that credit for toddlers, puppies, and pet rocks was a poor idea.  Sigh.

Some giddy heights, it's easier to live without, truthfully.  But access is always an issue for the admin.  I was a little astonished, in one position, when  people asked me pointblank what my boss might be interviewing for when there was a period of executive flux.  It may be part of my job to know such things, but I never even discussed that with the executive, and it is the most important part of my job not to do so with anyone else.  Good gracious.

As it happens ...  Most recently, the “knowing” in our office finally had to go the other way.  This week, I came out of the closet to management that I am, as the classic phrase goes, “considering my options.”  There was a moment of fear and concern some months ago - and, as the HR wheels turn slowly, now have unexpectedly scored an interview out of an application I submitted more out of a need for control than what I felt was realistic expectation.  Huh.

Obviously, it was no insult to get the call – and I have management who are explicitly supportive, even though they did say don’t want to lose me.  If this particular interview were the direction my career goes (and I hold no breath where this is concerned), the access would return me to a position of exposure to the most sensitive information.  It can be exhausting, but exciting too.

Fortunately, the entity I ultimately work for isn’t populated by execs of the sort who’ll devolve me to hoodie-wearing nor feeding their cats – but then, it isn’t a place from which I would expect to retire at 44 and spend a few months deciding what I feel like doing next either.  As they say at my office, you don’t get rich working for our employer.

The good news is – really, you don’t get poor either.


Lots of homemade costumes tonight, some REALLY good ones.  Bloody prom queen, pirate girl - best so far is the young lady who rigged up just a killer Edward Scissorhands, not just the costume but spot-on hair and makeup too.  Loving it!

Last time I recall a 70-degree Hallowe'en, X and I were in NYC.  Good times.

And a little bit of the Bronx for y'all, above.  Hee.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


With the exception of last weekend, which was the JRW Conference, for the past several weeks my weekends seem to have been spent on redecorations.  In my case, this does not include designers or contractors, but a singlehanded puzzle game of furniture shoving and redeploying of my existing assets.

One weekend, it was Time to Bring Up the Big Rug.  I have a huge living room rug, something like a hundred pounds of wool, which spends the warmer months lying on the basement steps not needing vacuuming.  When the rug comes upstairs, the furniture circles closer in the living room, creating a cozy living space around the soft, thick rug where Penelope can lie down and enjoy softness and warmth instead of the hardwood floor.

Then it was time to fiddle around in the bedroom.  I was sick of the order of things, and did some shifting up there.

This weekend, it's the guest room.  My mom and I have been toying for some weeks with the idea of taking out the twin bed (there have been both a twin and a double in there for years, and while it's plenty large enough, the room had just become a parking lot for too many things) and putting my grandmother's bedroom suite up there to make it look a little more coherent.  So today I dismantled the twin, put its frame in a corner, brought the mattress and box spring downstairs (mom will probably come get them for her own use soon), moved the bed, dresser, and chest of drawers around into a new configuration, and vacuumed and dusted.  I also pulled out two el-cheapo little white cabinets which started their lives as a linen closet in a bathroom which had none, and which since being in this home have stood in as toyboxes of sorts both for my nieces, and for the theoretical possible visits of Mr. X's kids, back when we thought that could happen.  Three out of four of these kids are in double digits now, and the youngest has no need of Barbies at my house, so those things will probably go to Goodwill in the near future.  The cabinets, I found, fit one on top of the other in a corner of my closet; and now they are a great overflow for my bulky sweaters and for a lot of knit and sweater dresses which have been in a trickier corner of the closet.

All these projects, as gratifying as they are, do mean my usual Saturday housecleaning time is significantly invaded by other activity.  Today, having accomplished everything I have already, I still have not *begun* the routine dusting, scrubbing, and vacuuming - and I want to do those things too.

This may call for takeout.  And a longer evening than expected.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Tom Williams and Anthony Riches on writing, Tom following up on word count and then Anthony - talking about his word count!

American Duchess has a collection of lovely early 19th-century dresses with CRAZY GIGOT SLEEVES ... Two Nerdy History Girls get a rare peek at the truly exquisite archive at Colonial Williamsburg - oh the embroidery!  And here we have silly hats and a whimsical blogger at Historical Fiction Research.  Men really do seem drab today in comparison with some of these ...

A Brief History of Baking (brief because it begins in the Middle Ages and stays in Britain, perhaps thanks to a tie-in to a cooking competition show ...).  With recipes here - including icy cream!

Ancient Peruvian mummies, found in a remarkable state of preservation, to be studied for their lifestyle, health, and DNA.

Qing Dynasty art destroyed by "conservation" contractors.  Sadly, firing the officials in charge doesn't redeem the cultural losses.

Where there is no destruction at all, a nice wide stage for blog-lery purist outrage at the  "experiment" of rewriting Jane Austen.  Because nobody has ever riffed off an existing story in a newer piece of writing, ever.  Especially not a work by Austen.  I'm sure there will be howls (I never snark like that, of course...).  It's unlikely I'll make the time to post them ...

Jeff Sypeck on Becoming Charlemagne and that elegiac time before the bookstores died ...

Leila is giving the gifts for her birthday!  Free copies of Hot Flashes, today through the 28th!

Kristy tells us what caught her senses at the James River Writers conference (she's a smarticle particle herself).

Nancy Bilyeau captures the paranoia of Tudor England.  Read The Chalice - and watch your back!

Kim Rendfield discusses the way the Franks in her period used religion and magic to grapple with their world ... and the role of hostages in hedging your bets.  Or not.  Hostage-taking has in many periods of history (I know stories from Europe, but would be very interested to hear similar tales of negotiation in other cultures) turned into something far from the terrorist image the word brings to mind today.  Caratacus enjoyed rather a famous sojourn in Rome after his capture.  Theodoric the Great lived for years as a hostage in Constantinople, where he was "treated with favor" by emperors Leo I and Zeno.  Cour de Lion famously became a songwriter in his prison.  There was something of a code of peculiar guest status in the practice.

Finally, I want to get a taste of ancient Greek music when it comes out.  The way people research and recreate ancient tongues and music and art is endlessly interesting for me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

She Covered Me With a Thousand Stitches

"One minute of deliberate choice at a time."

One of the heart-stopping moments from the 2012 Conference, I will never forget this reading.

Camisha L. Jones:

"When it came to me, my mother, she was made of persistence" ...

How wonderful that they preserved this.

Creator of Adverbs ... and Porpoises

Brad Parks' prayer was an excellent appetizer for the weekend:

I really hope Mibi will watch this.  And maybe use it in church.


I did, and unaccountably felt my desire for authenticity begin to ebb.  –A. L. Berridge on just how authentic we can get in the modern world - via The History Girls.  (This post shares some points with the bottom link here discussing the Paleo Diet fad)

Nyki Blatchley has a good post on technology in fantasy, which I found to be just as interesting in the context of historical fiction, or people’s expectations about contemporary intelligence/innovation versus ANY other time (in or out of historical “reality”) than our own.  A couple of excellent observations on tech the Chinese developed first, and its relative development there and in the West.

Truly vintage shoes, at the Rags of Time.  That Warwick, he had style.

Face to face, a look at portraiture in the Academy of Arts at Vienna, with Leslie Wilson, another of the History Girls.

Finally, I am a smarticle particle, and so are Leila, Kristy, and a few other folks!  (No, you cannot browse my jewelry collection ...)

Monday, October 21, 2013


Penelope came home a year and one week ago, and I failed to commemorate this at the time.  Happy pup-day, my smart, beautiful, adorable Whackadoodle Poodle*.

Christmas beauty shot
Head full of teeth!
Beet Head Neddie
Lost puppy rescued in February

(*Who's really a Carolina dog ...)

Sunday, October 20, 2013


The tale of Otzi the caveman continues to grow in fascination, as his descendants are identified.

An example of a good post questioning even a questioning source:  (Etruscan royal) dude looks like a lady ...
The archaeologists’ initial gender assumptions based almost entirely on the placement of the grave goods — spear = male, jewel box = female — have thus been thoroughly upended.
Why should that most obvious of associations be discarded just because the skeleton is female? Notice there is no tortured attempt to explain the jewelry box on the man’s funerary bed as justified by his relation to the woman.
--The History Blog 
Stay tuned on that link for a nice observation about gender relations in Etruria.  Good work, HB!

History Extra (BBC) has published a nice gallery of portraits and artifacts of the Tudor era - including one (silken?) frog.

Take the Con 13

Triskaidekaphobia never made sense to me, and this year being the big one-three hasn't done a lot to turn me into a thirteen-o-phobe.  As extraordinarily stressful as it's been, it hasn't been a "bad" year per se.

Which brings us to the inspiration, invigoration, and writers' nation that is:  James River Writers' annual conference.  We began this weekend, yesterday morning, with Gbari Allen Garrett, a young poet whose power with words was amazing.  Carey Albertine gave us all the millennia of the history of writing in something like twenty minutes, and was winsome and enjoyable to meet, and an example of the support and enthusiasm that make the conference such a remarkably fine event.  Chip Kidd, whom I missed being able to meet by only a few minutes - darn it! I didn't get his book signed! - provided a truly entertaining and useful look at the craft and science of graphic design, specifically cover design and the stories of how some of his own developed.

Unfortunately, we ran a little long and, because I hated to miss a minute of the opening plenary session - and, because I register early for the conference and was, therefore, at the top of the reservations list for one-on-one sessions with agents and hence was second from the top on *that* schedule, which commenced before the plenary session was over ... OOPS, I missed my agent.  Gaaaaaaaahhh.

One of the many special and wonderful things about JRW, though, is that the Conference guests invited to participate are given the expectation that they should participate for the entire weekend, and should be available to attendees  the entire time.  And so, I hoped, at some point I might still be able to get in front of her.  I wait-listed myself for any one-on-one I could get.  And went off on my own.  Spent some time with Leila which, while having little direct relationship to writing and working, was more than worthwhile in its own right.  She is a friend I'm grateful to have.

And, at just the right moment, I got a call to come right over for a one-on-one with Victoria Skurnick.  She turned out to be gratifying company, quite apart from being generous enough to take on an orphan pitch, so I followed up today by asking if I might interview her here on this blog.  Stay tuned, because:  she said yes!  (Keep staying tuned, too, for Elizabeth Chadwick's interview, as she has the questions in her custody and I'm on her list, hopefully within the next couple of weeks.)  The glint in her eye you can see in the photo at the link above is completely true to life, and it was one of the unique pleasures of the Conference, spending time with her and a couple other people, listening to a little cello music as we all sat out a session.  Beautiful music, though we didn't get to hear enough of it.

Sharing a picture of Penelope the heartbreaker ... the Literary lunch on Saturday ... the turkey sandwiches and homemade chips today ... the wildly earnest boys and men ... the ideas that seem strange to a completely different perspective ... the charm of confluence and divergence ... the old faces, charming ... the new faces, almost nervous ... lots of turquoise and brown this year (including my own Saturday togs) ...

The thoughts stemming from "Revising Like a Rockstar" and "Finding the Right Feedback" - the questions asked and the posts you will see, yet to come.

The way, even beyond the end of the day yesterday, Deborah Grosvenor let me pitch her after all.  And requested a synopsis and first chapter.  (Victoria Skurnick, by the way, requested the full MSS.  As she put it, now that everything's electronic, why request a partial?  She can read or not read as much as she likes.)

A hallway chat with Paige Wheeler, the first agent who ever asked me for a partial - and who, now that I have revised, asked me to keep her in mind.

Though my "bite rate" on in-person pitches remains high (only one agent I've ever pitched didn't request at least a partial; and even she asked me to please query her when I complete Novel #2), I get a lot less squee-ish about that than I used to.  As we know, my offers-of-representation rate remains at zero, so excellent pitch experience is only so useful.

Still, there is more to get out of an event like this - the interview, the option to re-query Paige Wheeler - the time spent with Leila, with Kristi, with Kristy, with everyone.  Not least of which is the immense sense of gratitude that these women are my friends - that Kristi, our esteemed chair, has put on such a great Conference two years in a row.  I'm so impressed with her, sometimes it's more than a pleasure to be her friend, but a privilege.  She's that charming.

As may be clear, charm is not in short supply at the Conference, even though dear Miss Pen and Gossamer were not there.  And yet, as much as it does to enliven my creativity, to satiate me socially, two days of surprises and stimulation are exhausting.  Tomorrow, I'll be off work, and hopefully will relax and do nothing more than a bit of blogging and a bit more revising.

I hope to be able to send queries within two weeks.  The interview - probably sooner.  And the re-query as well, to Paige Wheeler.

So:  more busy times for 2013.  Will keep  you posted.  And here's hoping:  it won't be bad luck at all.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


I have long hated Pandora Radio because it will not allow listeners to shut off its “you might also like” algorithms, which for me are (as with all such suggestion-generating applications) a terrible failure.  I’m a contrarian by nature, and so have a ready supply of impatience for missteps in these intrusive little marketing devices, as well as a hearty disdain when a suggestion goes really wrong – so Pandora is just not the option for me, never has been.  Slacker Radio’s “suggestiveness” can be pretty tightly minimized (and, for a fee, turned entirely off), and even when it’s on, it doesn’t seem to be quite so bewilderingly miscalculated as, say, Blockbuster or Pandora or my grocery store’s coupon-generating printers are.

Let it be said that, in addition to the contrarianness, I am old enough and private enough that these things continue to wig me out even something like eighteen years or so since their advent in earlier, rather less insinuatingly personal and scary forms.  The fact is, I’ve ALWAYS found this type of marketing frightening, and always will.  It icks me out, sets my teeth against certain brands, standards, and manifestations – and keeps my jaw on the ground, that so many people don’t seem to mind this insidious searching of their personal preferences.

All of which is beside the point.

The point is that, today at work, Slacker was still showing its autonomy at me, and it worked out.  I’ve only crafted one station for myself, and it contains all my moods, from Apoptygma Berzerk to Priest to Adele and the Beatles and Type O Negative.  Most days, in the office, Slacker stays in a somewhat electro/industrial vein, with some pop and what we once amusingly called “Alternative” thrown in.  There are days, though, when I start off with Judas Priest’s “Alone” and then follows up with Metallica, and I stop and go “hm” for a moment, and decide – yes, that’s just about right, thank you, Slacker.  Today, obviously, was one of those days, and it reminded me how much I like metal, enjoy Zeppelin, and old school hard rock.  As much momentum as dance tunes can give to a day, there’s no arguing that Iron Maiden particularly slows me down.  And then, because it’s sort of a funny diet I’ve fed the little beast, it’ll drop Duran Duran’s “The Chauffer” down in the middle of these things, and my odd little brain thinks, “that goes together better than you’d think” and then go on to whatever I’ve got to finish on the desk.

I once bought a Priest CD, along with a Leonard Cohen and a Billie Holiday.  The clerk at the store (I was in California) gave me the smiling eyebrow and said, “Shopping for gifts?”  I was a tad confused and said no, it was driving music (I was in California driving between SF and LA, and my rental had a CD in dash; at the time, this was pretty state of the art), all for me.  It was clear I’d made something of a conquest just by failing to fit in a musical box, and I got to muse a bit about what it must be like, the parade of individual tastes one must serve selling music all day every day.  Obviously, given that that was something like 15 years ago, I was pretty pleased with myself for my little toppling of expectations – and, equally obviously, I still revel, as I always have, in gravitating to what genuinely appeals to me, rather than to what is served to me (lord, just trying to imagine what my life would be like populated only with that music made for women such as myself is stifling).  Just think what an eyebrow I might have gotten if I’d had Ice T in that little stack of CDs.

To our culture and society, there are aspects of my nonconformity which speak to an inherent immaturity:  I refused to cut my hair when it became age-appropriate by those standards I consider to be utterly superfluous.  I never stopped going out dancing – and I am forty-five.  Being unmarried and not a parent, I have held on to habits generally reserved for “the young” (if not to say ‘those who are fifty pounds slimmer and fifty miles more currently fashionable’ than I am).  Being a relic of the 80s and 90s, I still admit to listening to Judas Priest and yet also pretend to be conversant in Deadmaus and even FGFC820, which should be so far outside the frame of reference of a person such as myself as to be almost anger-inducingly alien to me.

To be sure, I sneer like the old broad I earned every second of being, at the names of twentysomething celebs and performers I’ve never heard of.  It gives a special pleasure to indulge in this privilege of age, this frank indulgence of chrono-bigotry, even as I know precisely how irrelevant and, indeed, stupid it is.  But it is as much a joy to ignore expectations as it is to play into and play with them ... and I get to listen to good music, at that.

Tom Williams - How Many Words?

A separate post to give Tom Williams belated thanks for following this blog - and also to point to a post of his, with which I could hardly agree more.  As a slow writer, as one who goes in spurts and with inspiration more frequently (not exclusively - just more frequently) than by quota, I often feel that formless guilt that other authors seem to like to give, that I'm "DOING IT WRONG."

Authors should have a fervent dedication to their method.  It's the only way to get things done.  But to proselytize their ways of doing things, while demonizing any other way, bespeaks not only insecurity (not a selling point, y'all) but a failure to understand that one size (or word count) does not fit all.  It's a slightly bizarre outlook, in a creative profession.


Having long been obsessed with blackwork embroidery, many of the images here leave me drooling or fantasizing or just a little inspired, I'm not sure which.  It's not a case of coveting, but certainly of admiring!  Madame Isis always has such excellent images in her posts, and the work in these is beautiful.

Why *does* Lord Falkland's memorial have a duck and a pair of boobies on it?  Some symbols we know.  Some, we have to ask about ...

And a second link at the Rags of Time, with a highly useful piece of wisdom I think Clovis might have appreciated.  Some days, it's easy to appreciate thoughts like this one ...

Celia Rees reflects on an interesting question - "But is it true?"  Having written historical fiction of my own, in the first person, it could be the POV which leads people to ask this question, as she observes.  In my case, "it's true" - to an extent.  This is why I compiled an author's note to sort out as clearly as I can those characters I created and those who are historical, and have an extremely high-level look at some of the timelines I chose to use in The Ax and the Vase, which conform to wisdom other than the common.  The degree to which I felt it was important to stick to the mingled history and legend of Clovis' life is the degree to which I felt it was vital to tell his story - and the degree to which I diverged ... or embroidered ... is the degree to which I felt the right to tell it myself.  I was both a steward and a writer of this story, simultaneously carrying a vessel and filling it.

Sometimes, I really can't wait to finally present it, too.  Thank goodness, this week is the Conference.


This just hit the spot this morning. Judas Priest is most often a go-to, for me, for good, honest, loud fun. Rob Halford rocks. But “Alone” reflects the intelligence it takes to survive in the recording industry for, oh, about an entire generation or so. It’s still got heft, but its elegiac tone is earned. Yep, it’s drama, just like so much music, and just like the best of the cheesiest of metal. But its earnestness isn’t embarrassing, nor arch. It’s a good song.


Apologies that this comes with an ad – but the sound quality on this clip is fairly good, and I think the track deserves that. By the way, if you do listen, this is one of those seventies-feeling mixes which is rewarded by heaphones. It actually uses the stereophonic divide really nicely in one of the sweepier bits, with an acoustic guitar. It is, in fact, a really well-crafted piece of work. There are times my many years spent amongst musicians, when I lived in the Midwest and was married to a musician, still deepens and/or can ruin my appreciation for certain performances. Oh, and in the “you might also like” links at the end of the vid, YouTube offers an acoustic version of “Diamonds and Rust” which provides a really nice listen to what Rob Halford’s voice truly sounds like, much closer to undadorned. He’s aged, but taken care of those pipes by far better than most. It ain’t Johnny Cash singing “Hurt”, but it’s a real pleasure to listen to his sound with such clarity, the fine roughness and polish of a voice which has earned its timbre over decades.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Reason ...

... this blog has consisted mostly of links to articles and other blogs lately isn't that I haven't anything to say, it's just that so much of what I have to say I feel it's too soon to get to.  (No, I am not agented, nor have I won the lottery and need to keep it under my hat.)  Sometimes in life, it's just necessary to hang on a moment before opening your yap - or, in the case of a keyboard, I suppose, going "tap tap tap".

Life is ON tap.  Sometimes, you have to let it come to a head and settle.  So that's what's up with me not yammering quite as I normally do.

Thin White Duke, Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust ...

... and the best dressed person in the history of Britain.  Figures.  That David Jones Bowie for ya.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Smugness, Bias, and Am I Supposed to Believe ... ?

Don't believe Whig anthropology (or agriculture) any more than you believe Whig history.  Or, as I think is the better term:  present-centered history.  Whig is too specific for a critique of method and theory which dominated for far too long the Western discipline of historical study.  But present-centrism sums it up all too well, at least for me and my own little biases.

Anyway, the first link here is the "real" one, the point of this post.  The rest are just my attempts to work one of those stupid puzzles my brain likes to create and then monkey with.  The first link looks at the human monkey itself, and comes up with some interesting thoughts.  So read that one, and save the reruns and treatises for when you are really bored.

When Men Were Men and Women Were the Artists?

Did you ever get that mini psych test, where the question is posed about a kid being in a hospital and seeing a doctor, who is his parent, but the doctor is not his father - so WHO COULD IT BE?  I know when I was a kid, the conclusion that the doc could be a child's mother was a lot harder to come to than I really hope it is now ... and yet, assumptions still have (dare I say it) an indelible place.

Such as the assumption that the unidentified denizens of the past who created ancient art must have been men.  Not so, says NatGeo, as they take another look at cave paintings from across a wide swath of the globe.

There has been a male bias in the literature for a long time.  People have made a lot of unwarranted assumptions about who made these things, and why.
--Dean Snow 

Image:  National Geographic
For more, go here

It's stimulating when we find useful ways to question ourselves.  Even the possibility (even the likelihood) that we may come up with the wrong answers doesn't devalue the importance of ASKING ... and of reviewing even the most "obvious" of our assumptions ...

As a side note, just within the past two weeks I was reading about finger length ratio, having jumped off of the article about the vena amoris, and I am an example of the unusual feminine trait: my ring fingers are notably longer than my forefingers.  Apparently, I'm quite the manly woman.  Erm.

(Bonus question:  is Dr. Manning's name ironic ... ?)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Penguin Pop

Morrisey has power - and not in his capacity as a lyricist.  I wouldn't have thought at this point in his career his clout was this heavy, but apparently he can DEBUT as a writer as a classic already, right out of the box.  Not so much as a single review to make the point, only Penguin Classics' imprint to prove it.

I agree with the columnist - the point is not that Morrisey could never earn the "classic" label.  It's a debatable point, but not one any reader has had the chance to judge in the first place.

So let's raise a pail of pink Cristal (is there such a thing as pink Cristal ... ?) in cheers to this literary classic.  Whatever it may be (because *nobody* has read this book yet, outside of Penguin).

Link thanks to Caustic Cover Critic's mention, which shows the "Classic" cover.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Apart from the geographically snobby Nova Dakota comment here, this is good advice once again from Janet Reid, Query Shark.  (Still trying to decide whether I'm pleased - because I'm not done revising - or bummed, because it shouldn't take that long to finish, that her closed-to-queries period has extended through year end.  Decisions, decisions.  Ah well!)

All for the sake of a single button.

And, quite literally riffing off the link above:  the hurdy gurdy man!

This makes me want to look up images of the instrument – is that decoration painted?  The workmanship must have been beautiful on many of these.

On the *visual* love of words, and a writing exercise.  With Banksy in New York this past week, it’s a nicely timed post even for those of us who won’t make it to Italy soon.

(This bit reminds me of The Death of ... everything.)  “Post-It notes put us over the edge”  I feel pretty guilty – I bought my boss paperclips just this week.  Also, a detailed, balanced, and highly readable deconstruction of the Paleo-diet fad.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fashion Obsession - the Cure ...

Oh my.  Yep, I did it.

It didn't go well.

The antidote ...  Bowie, of course.

Oh, and there I am:

Muuuuuuch better ...

(Also - apropos of I-know-you-don't-care - boy, do I miss those glasses.)


Dutch photographer Niki Feijen captures ... home, ossified home ...  The eerie beauty of abandonment.

It's all about the story, with Ben Kane.

Write what you *long* for, with Stephanie Cowell.  What I said!

Gamers, Picts, and slabs.  Who could ask for anything more?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sword Play

The craft of swordmaking has made more than one appearance on this blog before, so when I found an article looking at pattern welding once again - particularly given its excellent bibliography - I couldn't resist sharing.  Enjoy!

Museums and Money

Seeing this article on the drastic slashing of personnel at museums in the U.K. has me thinking once again about the cultural destruction wrought upon us by the interests who see fit to shut down the government in the name of getting their way around a law rightfully passed on my own soil.  We've all heard about national park shutdowns and all those people whose weddings and camping trips have been affected.  Every now and then you even here a side note about the children going without food because of this business.

The damage to our culture by the economic barbarities, whether by removing employees' livelihoods or by the irreparable compromises to our art and even architecture, is dizzying.  For every Kickstarter to refurbish and preserve images created for The Raven, there are invisible losses, some of them human, some of them not, perhaps, directly related to the shutdown, but born of our economy's cruelties nonetheless.  The little-discussed, but not unseen decimation of our art, culture, history, archaeology are just as dangerous a loss to history as the destruction of Buddhas in Afghanistan, or the looting of European art history by Nazis.  Just as evil, and born of self-interests no less bitter.  Neglect, or withdrawal, can be as brutal as bombs.

We are a fragile race, humanity.  Our cultures are as vulnerable as gossamer in a storm.  When we fail as stewards art, architecture, beauty - history doesn't judge that excellent thinking.

Quoth The Raven: Kickstart Me

The Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia is housed, not in a home of Edgar Allen Poe, but in the oldest home remaining in the city where he did live.  It's a smallish place, whose pretty back garden is sometimes a venue for weddings and receptions, in a busy stretch on the side of a historic hill.  Someone once called me from that place, and I had "EDGAR ALLEN POE" on my caller ID, tenaciously loved and preserved, until the day I moved out of that home.

The Poe Museum is a place I have visited; not as immediately impressive a museum as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts perhaps, nor the Science Museum, the Children's Museum, nor even the Valentine Museum.  It is, however, one of many of Richmond's homages to its favorite son.


In the Poe Museum are to be found some of the most fantastical illustrations for The Raven.  It is a pleasure to see that these illustrations are subject to a Kickstarter fund for their preservation.  I've seen the state of preservation described in The History Blog's article, and to see them saved would be a pleasure.  I may have to learn how to contribute to a Kickstarter myself.


"Low self esteem was not her problem" - I love the History Blog, and this is a nice article on Lady Eleanor Clifford, whom some refer to as a seventeenth-century feminist.  Whatever the right descriptor for her is, she's an interesting figure.

Another intriguing woman of the seventeenth century, Margaret Cavendish, the duchess enamored of atoms.  Another intriguing post from Kim Rendfield's physicist father, Dr. Dean Zollman.

Madame Isis lays out her usual clear, detailed look at "beauty" - seventeenth century style.  A nice post on everything from the ideal features (a small double chin!), hair, and makeup through that century, with excellent images.

In an interesting, somewhat related article, take a *look* (har) at optics through the ages.  From The Ninevah Lens through contacts, a look at construction, wearing options, and materials of spectacles spanning the breadth of centuries.  Pretty fascinating, and also illustrated.

Medieval cross-dressing:  it went both ways.

Richard III continues to be a hot news item.  Now, it appears, his chapel may have been unearthed.  I'll have to watch for Medieval Dead to show up on streaming or in some conduit on this side of the Pond.

On agriculture, quite dis-intuitively, leading to population collapse.  This is a theory I'd be interested to see more in-depth material explicating.  It's quite the plot-bunny idea, though - did we decrease mating with a stabilized source of nutrition?  Were there unseen health effects in a shift from a foraged to a settlement-centered diet?  Climate change unrelated to the change in human habitat/lifestyle?  Someone, please, write this one!

Stay tuned for more!  This weekend has been a good one for online reading ...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Exposing Young Readers to ... WORDS ...

Katherine Langrish has an EXCELLENT post today at The History Girls, starting off with "tushery" (I love that story) and concluding with what happens when you drop a new (or very very old indeed) word into something a kid might read.  Horrors, as you might be wise enough to imagine, do not ensue.

(I was a "B" kid myself, with the occasional resort to "D"-ing my mom or dad.)

Friday "Off"

My work schedule is one with four nine-hour days a week, followed by a "half" day every Friday.  At a previous employer, there was a similar setup; four nines followed by every other Friday off.  Flex scheduling is a nice option, and the ability to get certain errands done without having to wait for Saturday, or in the midst of rush hour, is helpful.

Some days, though, it's hard not to want to just go home and rest.

Today, I needed to go to the bank, I thought about mowing my lawn and the neighbor's, who just moved - and I couldn't stomach it.

The thing about having the afternoon "off" on a Friday is:  I've already worked well over forty hours by that time.  A full work week.  So this "off" time really is not a present or a prize, it's the hours *I* missed during the week, of sleep or of personal time, which everyone else has had by this point.  The schedule is nice, but the Monday through Thursday part isn't just like everyone else's work week.  I'm in by seven-fifteen, and it's not rare that I don't leave until six or even afterward.  When Penelope was still in a difficult puppy/adjustment period, at a tender age when she needed lots of attention - she spent all that time by herself in a cage every day, and even now that she is showing so much progress and confidence, I still have to wonder whether it's really the best gig for a baby animal.  Eleven hours alone, four days in a row, every day.  Poor kid.

So today, after some weeks of Fridays being occupied by appointments and accomplishments and this and that - I came home and, dammit, I took a nap.  My Gossy curled up behind my knees, my Penelope guarded us a few feet from the couch.

Oh, sure, first I poked around in Publisher, reworking the Stewardship document for my church (second year I'm on the committee, second year it's been a tiny bit of a crunch *smile*).  I'll send that tonight.

But, mostly, my Friday afternoon has been "really" just off.  Me and the nicest, snuggliest cat in the world.  Me and the sweetest, dearest little girl pup.  No talking in the house; a wonderful silence.

This evening, I set to some pleasing little accomplishments.  Two charms, whose post earring backs are long since broken and gone away - the first "dangly" earrings I ever remember my mom owning, and a pair I still find very beautiful - now have french hooks.  I'll be able to wear these vintage pretties for their first time in thirty years or so.  Lovely.

A charm bracelet from which two charms had fallen off.  I put on two new jump rings, secured them - now I have a nice silver bracelet with all its little chicklet baubles.  Cute.

Another earring, a long sort of hippie design, actually antique Persian enamel, on which one joint had come open.  Closed.  Wearable.  Exotic and beautiful, now wearable again.

Two lengths of black, double-linked chain, left over from surgery on a very very very long necklace - are now bracelets to match that necklace.  Couple of lobster claws, couple of jump rings.  Woo.

All this jewelry in less than half an hour.  If I'd had proper rhinestone glue, I'd have gotten to those pink earrings and that one earring with a dropped (but not lost) stone.  Another day.

And for the rest of my evening's entertainment, I'll fix the hole along the seam of that one great sweater.  Remove the inexplicable lining from the Little Black Dress, so it will hang correctly.  I may even doctor the neckline on that one.  Feeling feisty.  I'm going to take up the shoulders on the pink top I feel is too low cut to be really comfortable (and presentable for work ...).  And fix the shoulder strap on one of my every-summer-day camisoles.  If I get really bumptious, I'll fuse the hole Penny tore in my favorite old popcorn chenille bedspread, too.  It could happen, you just watch.

I like time OFF.  I can get so much pleasurable, really not strictly practical work done.  It's nice.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Poor Gift

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I Don't Want to Show My "Tattoo" ...
Juliette Lewis had perhaps the best line in "Natural Born Killers" when, having beaten up a guy who had hit on her, she stalked him down and screamed, "HOW SEXY AM I NOW???"  When I read about tech nuts finding their personal privacy-whoring devices "sexy", I'm inevitably reminded of the punishment Lewis meted out to that ill-advised lothario.

When the world of human digital tattooing begins in an infant's diagnostic diapers, we've signed up gleefully for a Juliette-Lewis-ing of deeply disturbing proportions, and we've earned it and then some.

We have a way of exoticizing ancient or foreign death rituals, but it isn't necessary to look far, or to look far *back*, for some of the most interesting practices, and a most interesting form of ... resurrection ...  Yep.  Bedazzle the dead.  (You can have that phrase for absolutely free.)

Thoughts on those personality tests they give at the office.  Good thoughts.

(P)opularity does not imply scientific validity. ... (M)ost companies keep these tests confidential so the data cannot be scientifically tested ...
I am not going to offer a replacement to personality testing because you don’t need to replace meaningless practices with anything.