Saturday, March 31, 2012

Obama Wants Money

...and I gave it to him last time. Not much...$500 from our entire family, all told.

This time we're hella broke, even more than last time. Also, it's not like he's been the Socialist President he promised us he would be. (Okay, yeah, he didn't exactly promise that.)

But, you know, the Right-Wing is JUST SO EVIL. Maybe I should give him the pittance I can (which will be about fifty bucks) to stave off the Handmaiden's Tale Future they want to bring on?

What do y'all think?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Parenting! Too Much Work!

The kid broke a bracket off her braces.

And she needs a haircut.

And she needs (rather urgently) to see an eye doctor. (Sadly, we are too broke for both she and I to get glasses this year, which means I get to squint for another year. Our health insurance -- of course -- does not cover vision.)

And she wants to see Hunger Games this weekend.

And she needs new jeans, having grown yet another inch.

This is only with one kid. How do parents of multiple children makes this work?


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

ReReading L'Engle

(X-Posted at FanSci)

Over at Tor.Com, Mari Ness has been running a series of essays I cannot stay away from -- TheMadeline L'Engle Reread.

If you're like me, A Wrinkle in Time was one of your SF Gateway books. I know it wasn't my first SF book -- that was Heinlein's Have Spacesuit, Will Travel -- but it was among the first SF books I read.

All the SF books at my school library had little rocket stickers pasted to their spines, even though, as I soon discovered, very few of them had actual rockets in them -- A Wrinkle in Time, for instance, did not. But I liked it anyway, enough that I went on to read every L'Engle book in the school and then the public library, even though most of the others had no little rockets on their spines. I also went on, through my adolescence and early twenties, to read most of the L'Engle I could find, and most of the books she would put out, though hardly any of them were actual SF, and though the quality, frankly (as Ness comments in this reread) is very mixed.

Even Wrinkle in Time, as I find in on a reread, is not the book I thought it was at 13. (Here is Liz Henry with a good reading on that.)

Still, despite her flaws -- which are many: I am rereading A Severed Wasp right now and keep literally choking at the smug pronouncements that L'Engle keeps putting in Mimi Oppenheimer's mouth about how Jews need to realize that it wasn't only Jews who were harmed in the Holocaust and that "other people" were hurt by Nazis too -- oddly, it's only the other people we hear and are told to be concerned about: no damaged Jew ever appears on stage. Hmm! Damaged Nazis, damaged Germans, damaged classical French musicians by the score, mais oui! But damaged or dead Jews? No, only a noisy living Jew who says Christ! every few lines and Oy vey! every other.

Not to mention the utter classicism: A casual comment by what is either the narrator (L'Engle) or the main character (who we're supposed to take as a decent human being) that it is "as surpising" to find true talent in a ten year old mixed race street child as it is to find that her mother is a gourmet cook. And then endless snide comments about bisexualism and people who smoke dope and people who listen to "pop" music and all the horrific crime in New York -- this despite the fact that our narrator has had affairs, two we're told about, that our narrator drinks -- we see her drink, often -- and that our narrator likes various sorts of music. But hers is "good" music!

Not to mention the religion crap. Oh L'Engle NO! It's not just that she goes on and on -- as she became more and more prone to -- about the Jesus-y stuff. No, there is also the anti-Haiti bits. Early on in the book, she and the Davidson children, as well as another priest, come upon "evidence" of "Black Magic" in the cathedral, done by those immigrants from Haiti. And we get a rant about how worship of Satan is real and very powerful, and the evils of worshiping that sort of "magic" religion. Dean Davidson, who (we are told) has "ancestors" from the islands "knows" about this sort of thing and keeps a close guard on the Cathedral, keeping it out.

See, it's not racism. Because Dean Davidson says it's not, that's why.

All this makes it sound as though I do not like L'Engle. Or this book. Neither of which is exactlytrue. There are bits of this book I like a lot. First, I like that Katherine Vigneras is not nice. Not even close to it. She's the meanest women in modern fiction who is meant to be an admirable character I have ever read, I believe. Also, the character of Emily is very well done, and the relationship between Emily and Katherine I enjoy every time I read the book. Plus the book totally passes the Bechdel test -- tons of women characters, who talk to one another all the time about things that matter in their lives. Plus these are women who have not made men the center of their lives -- although, to be fair, Katherine at least claims she made Justin, her piano teacher, the center of her life at one point. But frankly, from what she herself tells us, this is not at all the case. Her music was always the center of her life, as well as being the center of his life.

This is another reason I like the book, and a reason I keep coming back to it, despite all its flaws, and its flaws are MANY: it is an accurate portrait of an artist. Katherine Forrester Vigneras (she takes her husband's name, OF COURSE SHE DOES) is obsessive about her music. It is really all she thinks about. Everything translates through the music. People come over -- she wants them to leave so she can work on the music. She's at a party -- is there going to be music? Music is played -- is it like the music she's working on, or music she heard once, or music that was part of a program she worked on once? She's visiting the cathedral -- what are the acoustics like, how will the music sound here?

This is, in fact, what it is like to be an artist. The art is all there is. It's not that nothing else exists. You do (sometimes) get married, have relationships and friends and go to parties; but all that is secondary (third, or fourth, or fifth, even) to the art. L'Engle catches that perfectly in this novel.

Even without rockets.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Kid Tells Me A Joke

I am sitting in my brooding chair, trying to write.

The Kid (appears, swoops, sits on ottoman): So this kid and his BFF are walking to school.

Me: um.

The Kid: And the BFF says, will you love me forever?

Me: Ah.

The Kid: And the kid says NOOOO.

Me: (Blank stare.)

The Kid: And the BFF is so upset she runs across the street even though the traffic light is saying DONT WALK and she is run over by a big truck and killed dead and the kid is SO SAD.

Me: That is an unpleasant turn of--

The Kid: And the kid runs to embrace her body and he is SO SAD because he meant he would love her FIVE-ever. (Pause.) The End.

Me: (Longer Pause): I am going to put that joke on my blog.

The Kid: NOOOOO!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stormy Weather

We seem to have vaulted right past spring into summer, here in Fuck Smith.

Also the kid has vaulted straight into madolescence.

I picked her up from acting class at five today. "I need ice cream. Can we get ice cream?"

"Ah. Well."

"PLEASE. I can't eat anything else, with these TEETH."

(She'd had her braces tightened at dawn, so she had a point.)

"Um," I said. "All right, I suppose. We can stop at Harp's. How's that?"

Giant grump. "Target?"

"Why Target?" Not that it actually mattered to me, but...

"They HAVE ice cream at Target."

"Well, yes, but."

"Plus I can get an Icee at Target."

I ruffled both hands through my hair. "I thought you wanted ice cream?"

"Now I want an Icee." We had reached the car and she growled at the door when it was locked. "A BLUE one."

Once we were in the car she cheered up, telling me how lovely acting class had been. The fun things that had happened. One of the kids who went to her Montessori school is in the class. The teacher is great. And so on.

At the actual Target it was cool -- I actually got her to buy shoes (I cannot tell you how amazing that is) and they were shoes on sale which we could afford (they were falling off the rack, and she could make a joke about shoes committing shoe-a-cide, plus they were a color she liked, so I think that helped) but -- on the way home --

Suddenly she was near tears.

"What?" I said, panicked. "What?"

"I want to fall in love," she said, mournfully.

"Jesus Christ," I said. "Galloping fuck biscuits. Are you serious?"

"I haven't had a crush on anyone in," she said, wiping at her eyes, "I don't know, forever."

"Where did that come from?"

"I was sad about it before," she said, and slurped some Icee, "but the Icee distracted me."

"I'ma kill you," I said. "I'ma kill you, I'ma stuff you, I'ma drag you behind me on wheels."

"No, you won't," she said, and offered me some of her Icee. A green one. They were out of blue.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rain, rain, rain

It's pouring down here. I spent the day prepping for class and catching up on grading. Too worn out and moody to do much useful.

Also made Spring Soup from a recipe in a book on how to be poor, since I reckon we're going to have to get used to being even poorer than we are now, hard as that is to picture. Spring Soup is basically a recipe that uses all the left-over scraps of vegetables in your icebox. Boil it, add a little milk, and mmm!

Here's the recipe:

Spring Soup

Chop up:
one onion
half a head of lettuce (it can be wilty)
a couple stalks of celery
parsley (if you have it)
cabbage (if you have it)
leeks (if have them)
watercress (if you have them)
(whatever you don't have, replace with anything green and leafy)
A bit of thyme, if you have it.

Once these are chopped up pretty finely, saute them in a pot (at least five quart) for ten minutes in two tablespoons of either butter or some sort of nice oil (I used butter). Add four cups of broth, any kind you have on hand. Simmer for 45 minutes. Run through a blender. (Or whir into bits with an immersion blender.) Stir in half a cup of milk or if you have it cream.

Add pepper, salt. Serve with nice bread.

Everything is made into a real meal if you can get (or make) nice bread. We have to make our own, here in Fort Smith.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I Get That This Is Deeply Ironic...

As I'm sure you've already heard, the Koch brothers are in the middle of a hostile takeover of the Cato Institute, which they plan to turn from what it is (a libertarian think-tank, and I do use that last phrase lightly, or maybe even with scare quotes) into a noise machine for their special brand of Far-Right political hackery: shills for the 1%, in other words.

Amanda over at Pandagon, along with others on the left, have pointed out this is what you get when you lie down with dogs -- or, well, when you lick the boots of the kennel master, I guess. You roll over for it, it owns you. Don't be surprised when it decides it can do what it likes with what you thought was yours.

Which I see that point.

On the other hand, I'm diametrically opposed to giving the Koch brothers another voice, even one like the Cato Institute (which, let's face it, is hardly a friend to progressive causes, despite its anti-war stances).

That is to say, will the world be better or worse place if the Koch brothers take this venue over? I think we can clearly see it will be a worse place.

Though of course Amanda is right: the rules the Koch brothers are using are the rules the people at Cato said they were in favor of. Seems odd that they are complaining now. Would they be complaining if it was some liberal rag -- the Nation -- being taken over this way? Inquiring minds want to know.

And why don't they all just do what they advise all of us to do? Go off and start their own rag if they don't like what the Koch brothers are doing?

Or get another job somewhere else. I heard Pajamas Media is hiring.

Monday, March 05, 2012

China Mieville Talks

...and says what I wish I'd said.

Living in an Alternative Reality

Seriously, GOP?

I'ma write a post for my other blog today, FANSCI, and it's not even gone be about SF, I mean not directly. It's going to be about straight fiction which has left the bounds of reality so enormously that it might as well be alternate reality.

That's where the GOP is today.

I spend a lot of time in early fiction workshops -- the first several weeks I have new students, introductory workshops, convincing young writers that yes, it does matter that you get basic facts right: that you can't have people hunting squirrels with Henry rifles; that you can't make Jupiter have 1/3 Earth gravity; that no, it is not okay to have someone order a Perrier at the Cafe du Monde by the Jackson Square in New Orleans, and that yes, you really do need to get the dialect right if you are writing a book set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1952. Even if this is fiction, and therefore you are "making it all up."

Today's GOP has apparently decided they can make their entire world up, and live in it. Well, okay, that's fine. Isolated communities (I guess) do that. Cults, SCA, Conservapedia. The difference is, these folk don't usually expect the rest of us to participate. The GOP -- many of whom have been home-schooled, home-churched, educated at Christian churches, carefully isolated from the contaminating influence of modern culture's movie, TV's, wicked fiction and discourse (they shop only in Christian bookstores, read only Christian texts, are kept from the internet as adolescents) -- raised in a cultural diving bell, in other words, who have known nothing but that isolated community -- now expect the rest of us to believe what they believe: that their invented world is reality.

At least that's the only explanation I have for why anyone would think we'd believe this insane crap they're saying these days. They have no reality check -- Fox News repeats whatever they say; their candidates, preachers, senators, and blogs back them up. So far as they know, this is the real world, where using birth control makes you a whore; where wanting to use health insurance is the same thing as forcing Jews to eat pork; where the President is a Kenyan invader who wants to destroy America; where supporting universal health care is exactly like hating America; where gay marriage will destroy straight marriage; where unions are evil and OWS is filled with rapists and lunatics, but Andrew Brietbart was a hero.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Hey! But Here's Another Post!

While we're on it...

What the shit is UP with the GOP? I mean, I thought my university administration had gone insane, but that was before I started watching the GOP try to run a candidate for the White House.

I can't decide who's fucken crazier, Santorum or Ron Paul. Romney ain't crazy, of course, he's just a bootlicker, trying to suck the ass of everyone he can if it will get him into the White House. And Gingrich, ha, he thinks evil is smart, which, I guess that's sad. I'd feel sadder about him if the crap he thinks is so smart to say didn't have real world consequences.

MEANWHILE: here in Arkansas, I actually have students who think some of these guys are viable candidates. Now that's depressing.

Bad Days

I've been posting very lightly lately (I know, like you need to be told that!) because most of the news here has been so rotten.

Well, obviously some is good! Stories get published! My novel comes out! My kid is great! The classes I'm teaching are great. And I am, in fact, writing really, really well these days. Those things help a lot.

It's mainly work, politics, and the economy (in that order) which suck so badly. I obviously can't say much on this blog (which although it's sort of anonymous isn't really anymore) about what's going on with my university, but it's been getting steadily worse over the past year, and Thursday something came down which surpassed anything I thought even this administration would be capable of. (Yes, I know, AHAHAHA! I'm so naive.)

It's kind of like with the GOP, I guess. You keep thinking, well, crap, they seem so crazy and mean, but they're human beings like us, right? Doing reasonable things that look reasonable from their side of the ditch? Surely we can work something out. Surely we can live and work together?

Then something like this contraceptive mess comes down, and, wow.

I guess we really can't.

Anyway, so we've been really broke, depressed, and desperate here at the delagar household, and now we've just found out we're going to be more broke, more desperate, and more depressed.

A bad week.