Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yo! Coolness!

It's a class M Planet!

And one vampires would like, too.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Take the Quiz!

Take Pew's religious knowledge quiz!

(I got a 100%.  I love how atheists, btw, are very nearly the highest scoring group!)

(Update: Former link did not work for some people, so I've linked to another page.  Scroll down a bit to find the link.

Or try here.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010


...a poem!


 Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in The Rye
I borrowed from the local library one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love." 

Billy Collins 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Grrf. What now?

Jon Stewart.

People still are voting for the GOP, esp. in Arkansas.  But I gotta ask -- why?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Teach the Controversy: Obama: a Cactus?

I have to say, Mitch makes an excellent point for once.

"If the president says he is a human being, I'll take him at his word," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday on Meet the Press. "Though I've never heard him complain about being thirsty. Not once. That could be a coincidence, I suppose, but it's really not my place to say."

New Broken Slate Action!

Chapter Three of Broken Slate is up.

Go read! You know you want to!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Here, on Strange Horizons,


Saturday, September 18, 2010


If I'd known how charming kittens were, I would have caved into the kid's wheedling long ago.

This thing is seriously cute.  Mind you, we're all covered with tiny scratches, from where it has pounced upon us a bit too enthusiastically when it's showing us its Jasper The Mighty Hunter skillz; but none of us actually mind.

Today, when Herr Dr. Delagar and I returned from Harps, I called the Kid in to the kitchen.

The Kid: What?

Me: Look! (I showed her the new cat toy I'd bought, a little felt ball with a tail.)

The Kid: (Rolling eyes):  Every time you go out you come home with a toy for Jasper!

Me:  Yes, well.  He's my grandkitten.  Just wait until you have an actual child.

The Kid:  She.  She.  SHE is your grandkitten.

Me:  Sorry.  You should have given her a more girly name.

The Kid:  Don't be so heteronormative, Ma.

Me:  Are you going to bring the kitty out to play with the new toy or what?

Friday, September 17, 2010


Kit Whitfield (you'll remember she wrote the excellent werewolf novel Benighted) has put out a new edition!

He's adorable.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wal-Mart, Target, Oh My

Here in Arkansas big signs festoon our world, explaining how Wal-Mart saves money for American families.

Some signs explain just how much money Wal-Mart saves American families -- this many dollars a year, or this many dollars per family since 1965, or this many total million dollars for the American family, blah blah blah.

These signs make me want to throw rocks, given that I have students who work at Wal-Mart, like the student in my office yesterday, or the one last year.  Wal-Mart signs them on, works them, usually, 30-35 hours a week -- refusing to work around their school hours (the one last night was telling me how she could not make it to our night class, despite the fact that she was not supposed to have to work nights, because her supervisor wanted her to stay late to do inventory.   "I'm getting paid for the extra hours, but..."  "Did you tell her you had class?"  "Yes, but she says I either stay or I quit.") or students who are worked at physically destructive jobs until their bodies are wrecked and then fired when they can't do the job anymore, told they "can't" file workman's comp -- of course they don't have health insurance, they can't afford it on Wal-Mart wages -- and set adrift. 

Not to mention this, which is even worse in my mind.  Wal-Mart might be selling us cheaper - slightly cheaper -- milk and blue jeans, though frankly their blue jeans are crap; but they are doing it by destroying the country.  They're wrecking the infrastructure.  What good are cheap jeans when no one has a job, when all the chickens are raised by farms like Tyson farms, when everyone's wages are so low that the government (that would be, in fact, you and me, folks) has to step in to provide supplemental health insurance and food stamps and housing?

You realize, in fact, that you and I, in the form of taxes, are making it possible for Wal-Mart to pay those low wages?  That, in fact, our taxes are a kind of grant to the Wal-Mart heirs?  Talk about socialism!

I used to shop at Target, so that I could avoid giving any money to the Wall...but now!  Now Target has started giving its money to Anti-Gay candidates.  So how can I keep giving my money to them?

So now where can I shop?

It's not like Pork Smith has any independent stores left, thanks to the Wal.  

I guess I shop online.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


We have achieved kitten!

Her name is Jasper.

Sadly, I do not know how to post pictures (:<) but this image, stolen from google.images, is very close to Our Jasper.

The kid says I should tell you that Jasper is so cute!  And smart!  And cleaner than any dog we have ever had!  

As for me, I have to tell I have never seen anything make the kid happier than getting a kitten has.  She's like a kid on crack cocaine.  

Kittens = crack cocaine for 12 year old girls.  Who knew?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Other News

Thanks to relentless pleading from the kid, some of it in Latin (she knows my weak spots), we are getting a kitten.

A tiny, six-weeks old ginger kitten.

I am not entirely thrilled by this news.  I have always been a dog person.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Bad Portents

I've been laid low by some nasty virus, or perhaps it's a bacteria, who knows.  Vomiting and fever, malaise and exhaustion.  This bodes not well for the New Year.  (Happy New Year, btw, for all those who were well enough to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. I staggered up from bed long enough to stare sadly at the chicken and matzo ball soup, apples and honey, challah, and kugel Herr Dr. Delagar had put together.  Then I staggered back to bed.)

Today I was well enough to do a little work in the afternoon.

Maybe tomorrow I will feel like living again.

It could happen.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Monday, September 06, 2010

Living In the Future

My 12-year-old, when she wants to mime someone writing, holds her right hand up my her head, more or less level with her mouth, and wiggles her fingers rapidly, as if typing on a keyboard.

Often she does this when she wants to mimic someone talking, too -- as in, "And she's like, No! You cans not have that pairing!  It is not CANON!" fingers rattling away up by her head all the while.

I suppose because so many of her conversations take place linked up.

These kids today!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

And While I'm Whining... new doctor has told me I should quit drinking for awhile.

Some "slightly off" numbers with my last blood test.

So I've been cut off for the past month, and two more weeks to go yet.  No rum!  Six weeks!

It's barbaric.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Time for Whining

It's a little early in the semester for it, but okay.  It's whiny pants day early at the delagar house.

I've got all great classes this semester.  Those of you who teach will know what I mean -- generally there is at least one class on your work load that drags or is clunky, usually the one just before or after lunch, or the early morning class, or some class like that.  Your other classes will be great; this class will be sullen and moody, low-energy, set like wet cats against you.  Every day you walk into the room, there they sit, glowering and sulky: Go ahead.  Teach me something.  I dare you.

Well, this semester all my classes love me and want to learn.  Yay!

And we are learning things!  I've got two sections of freshman comp, one of English grammar (I love teaching grammar), and a Thursday night Fiction Workshop that is packed full and cooking with gas.  I'm giving them truly vicious assignments & getting great work out of them.

So that's all good.

OTOH:  WTF!  Have the public schools just quit teaching reality?  Just quit teaching?  What?

No one in either of my freshmen English classes (ages ranging from about 16 to about 28) had read anything by William Faulkner.  Most of them didn't know who he was.  "I thought you meant that Faulkner guy on TV," one of them said.  (Who?  Apparently I am missing some hot new TV show.)

No one knew who Jesse James was.

No one was really sure what a liberal was, or a conservative.  (No, I'm not kidding.)

I am told, however, that "most," that is, "almost all," of the Founding Fathers were ministers.  Apparently this is something that is being taught in at least one or two of the local schools.  I hope it is not being taught in the public schools, but it wouldn't shock me.  As we know, the religious right just makes shit up these days.

"You know that's not true, right?" I said, about the Founding Fathers, a little winded.  (This wasn't actually in class, this was with a student after class.)

He looked stubborn.  "My history teacher says it is."

I told him he should do some research.  "Remember what I told you.  Authority is fine, but check his sources."

I feel like I'm turning into one of those get-off-my-lawn geezers.  But surely the education systems wasn't always this bad?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

New Stories

It's new issue day at Crossed Genres!  Check it out.

And, while I'm posting, our next month's genre is one I'm revved up about: Characters of Color -- science fiction stories with characters of color as main characters.  It's also a double issue, so we'll be taking ten stories instead of five.  You have until September 30. Submit!