1 hour ago
Sunday, June 24, 2018
I've been teaching two summer classes, as I noted in the previous post, plus actually writing again (two short stories and I've started another Velocity novel) so my time for reading is limited; but nevertheless I persist!
Here's what I've read over the past month and half or so:
Jodi Taylor, The Chronicles of St. Mary's.
I read a review of the first book in this series, Just One Damn Thing After Another, by James Nicholls over on his review site, which I recommend highly if you like SFF, by the way. It sounded like exactly my jam, a time travel series in an academic setting, with a woman main character. I bought the first one, and I was hooked.
These are indeed time travel novels, but also historical romances, but also comic novels, and also delightful. Hard to describe without spoilers, but if you want fiction that's not too stressful and also extremely addictive, this is for you. Also there are lots of them -- nine, with another due out soon, plus a book of short stories. Oh, boy!
Barry Unsworth, Mortality Play, The Quality of Mercy
These I read on the recommendation of Athena Andreadis, who mentioned them on Twitter on day -- or mentioned one of them. They're historical fiction, and very well done. The first is about a group of players who stumble into a murder mystery in a small town during the years after the Black Death; the second is about the men and women working to preserve and to fight against slavery in England.
Mortality Play also won the Booker Prize.
Books about complex moral questions are also totally my jam, and these are very well written. Highly recommended. My library only has these two, but I'm thinking of buying the others.
Charles Stross, Saturn's Children
For some reason, I never got around to reading Charles Stross. As I recall, I picked up one of his books (I forget which one) which was in the middle of a series, and couldn't really understand what was going on, put it down, and never picked up any of his books again.
This one, Saturn's Children, seems to be a stand alone, and is pretty good. It's far-future, in a universe in which all humanity has died out. Only the robots survive. They miss humans, who they were built to serve, but are carrying on.
The worldbuilding is great, and the robot characters are wonderful. This one is a lot of fun and also filled with ideas -- what science fiction was built to be. Highly recommended.
I might even give Stross's other work another chance. :D
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
I've been teaching a "transitional" class this summer. Transitional is what we used to call remedial English back when I started this gig.
I've been teaching Comp pretty much non-stop for well over 25 years (I just did the math, and yes, well over), but I haven't taught remedial English since I was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Idaho. The university I taught at in North Carolina just didn't offer it -- though it needed it badly -- and when I started here in the Fort, all the remedial classes, which were called something else then (I can't remember what), were in separate department.
But a couple semesters go, that department was dissolved, and the Transitional classes became part of their departments -- transitional math with the math department, in other words, and Transitional College Writing with the English department.
All of which is a long way of saying that I am teaching remedial English for the first time in nearly 20 years, and liking it a great deal.
It may be because this is a summer class. All my students are either older students or immigrants. None of them are here because their parents signed them up for the class, in other words. They show up with the assignments done, ready to work. That's just so pleasant.
Also, despite the class, they are both engaged and fairly literate, if not uniformly well-read.
Mind you, some of them are also well-read. One of them quoted Plato at me today! It was great. We had a sidebar about The Republic together before returning to the less-engaging question of how to build an essay map.
Beyond all this, however, almost all of them are here to learn. When I told them that the arguments in their essays had to be supported with sources, and that those sources had to be valid sources, they took notes on what a valid source was. Not one of them turned in an essay with anything other than valid sources supporting their claims.
One of them explained to me that they'd had to change their topic. "I thought this," they said, "but when I tried to find valid sources to support it, I couldn't. So I knew it couldn't be supported. So I changed my thesis to this."
I just nodded seriously and told them they'd done a good job. But in my head?
Sunday, June 17, 2018
It was the Kid's first Pride parade -- mine too. "Whaat?" the Kid said.
"Well, they're always in June," I said. "Obviously. And you know how I feel about summer."
"Oh, right." The Kid thought this over. "You must really love me."
But it was a wonderful parade. The Kid said they might happy-cry. I don't know if they did, but I'll admit I did, once or twice.
Before the parade, we walked up and down Dickson Street, admiring the crowd: sassy girls wearing rainbow flags like capes, lovely shirtless boys holding hands, tiny toddlers in rainbow tutus running through the crowd, stately grandmothers with canes and rainbow flowers in their hair, and so many dogs. The sole sour note was an Evangelical standing on wall with a bullhorn telling all these wonderful, happy, celebrating people they would burn in the fires of hell. The Kid flipped him off as we went past.
We stopped at the little grocery store where the Kid shops when school is in session, to buy bottles of water, and stayed inside there in the AC to drink them.
Then we went out again, and down the street to sit on the curb in the shade of a big tree and wait for the parade. Some of our friends and their kids found us there -- I'd been looking for them, sort of hopelessly, because the crowd was huge -- and we spent the ten or fifteen minutes before the parade started catching up.
Also still enjoying the crowd. More dogs! More trans and gay and genderqueer and Lesbian people! A set of tiny redheaded twins in fairy-princess costumes! A tiny poodle in a rainbow tutu! A large man with an impressive beard wearing a shirt that said: TRUMP IS THE ONLY DICK I CANNOT HANDLE.
The parade itself began right on time. It was pretty wonderful.
The best parts, I think, were the UA-Pride organization, which the Kid has not yet been able to join, because their studio art class conflicted with it all last year; and the Socialists For LGBT Rights (there was a guy from the IWW there -- Dr. Skull shouted out to him something about Joe Hill, and made his day); and the local Jewish temple, Temple Shalom, marching in the parade.
Lots of religious groups marched, by the way -- not just the Jews! But obviously we were very pleased to see the temple there.
Also the atheists marched. That was nice too!
Also, two of my ex-students were in the parade. (That's not them above!)
All in all, a wonderful experience.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Monday, June 11, 2018
Thursday, June 07, 2018
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Monday, June 04, 2018
Sunday, June 03, 2018
Summer teaching starts tomorrow. My Comp I class made -- hurrah! -- but my fiction writing class did not. However, I picked up a transition writing class, which doesn't have quite full enrollment (and so I won't quite be getting full pay for it), which means we'll have almost enough money to make it through the summer.
Also, I won't have to teach Summer II. That's five weeks off to write.
Saturday, June 02, 2018
So I'm doing research -- I'm sorry, make that "research" on the interwebs, trying to find out what most people would wish for if they could have one wish granted...
Holy smokes*, y'all, you would not believe the number of people who would wish for unlimited weed.
Meanwhile, go take my highly scientific poll over on the Twitter.
*Pun definitely intended
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Monday, May 28, 2018
Dr. Skull and I have been married for 25 years, as difficult as that is to believe. As I often tell my students, we didn't live together before we got married -- in fact, we didn't live together after we got married. He was working in LA and Georgia both before and after our marriage.
But in fact this isn't entirely true. I was in graduate school in Fayetteville, and when he was in town, which was often, we lived together. So we've really been together somewhat longer than 25 years.
Anyway! Here's what he gave me for our anniversary:
It's a stained glass window that you hang up in an actual window. When the sun shines through it, it's very lovely.
He also gave me this little guy:
I have the best husband.