Friday, March 31, 2023

I Love My Trans Kid

Happy trans day of visibility! 

I'm going to spend this holiday writing a review of Gretchen Felker-Martin's Manhunt.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

My University Buys Me an iPad

I mean, it's not MINE, but I do get to use it. 

I'm also not sure why we're all getting iPads. I suppose it's for people who don't have laptops? They gave me a laptop, though, and I got one anyway.

Anyway, I'm definitely taking it.

It takes thermal photos

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

What I'm Watching Now

For All Mankind, season 3. In this alternative time-line, Russia lands on the moon first, which engenders all sort of changes in the US and the world. We're up to 1994 now and the US and Russia land on Mars, along with an Elon-Musk sort of private sector mission. (A competent Elon Musk, which I know, hard to picture.) This is available on Apple TV, but you can get a trial period for free, and after that it's pretty cheap. It's mainly probably attractive to those of us who lived through the abortive space race and the death of that particular dream. But also Clinton doesn't get elected, and neither do the Bushes, so the US never enters into an endless middle east war which sucks up trillions of dollars to no purpose whatsoever. So that's satisfying.

Lucky Hank. Honestly I only watched half an episode of this one. I like the Richard Russo book this is based on, Straight Man, which is about a writer teaching at a middle-tier school, but the show is somehow much more depressing. Accurate as to life as an English professor at a middle-tier school, though.

Ted Lasso, season three. Ted Lasso cured my depression back during the pandemic, but so far this season is fairly grim. I hope we see an upturn soon. Also on Apple TV, this is a show about a soccer team in England, in which everyone tries hard to act right. I'm a sucker for that kind of thing anyway. Also I love Roy Kent, who swears more than I do. And everyone reads books on this show, which I like to see in my media.

The Last of Us, season one. This is over now, but I enjoyed it. Only recommended if you like dystopian science fiction with zombies. Bella Ramsey, who plays the kid, is just stellar. Worth watching for her alone, but again, only if you can handle dystopia + zombies. Also some nice gay representation.

Nothing to Be Done

Yet another school shooting. Nothing to be done, says the only country in the world where this sort of thing regularly happens.

I was stuck with the Fox News bike at the gym yesterday, which is how I learned about the shooting. The Fox News response was to assure us (ten times in the 40 minutes I was on the bike) that very few shootings actually happen in private Christian schools. It's those ungodly public schools that usually experience shootings. 

We have clearly signaled, as a nation, that we are far more willing to protect the rights of gun-loving Americans (less than 30% of Americans own a gun, and more than half of all guns are held by the 3% of Americans who stockpile thirty or forty weapons each) than to protect the right to life of our school children. Fetuses have a right to life. Kids in school? Fuck'em, says America. Jim Bob needs his 30 rifles, handgun, and AR-15s.

I personally own one gun, a Remington 900 home defender shotgun, which I haven't shot in probably 30 years, and which I would happily surrender if it made the lives of kids in school safer. Because, frankly, the odds of me using it in home defense approach zero, and it would be absolutely no use if the tyrannical government strips away the rights of my kid to control his own body (as increasing state governments seem intent on doing). 

But our government isn't touching this third rail. No one is going to take anyone's guns away, because the feelings of white adult conservative males -- that group whose rights are more important and more secure than anyone else's -- trump any right of anyone else in this country.

No way to prevent this.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Same Song

 I been saying this:

But of course conservatives don't care about being bigots. That's a feature of their worldview, not a bug. How else to keep the lower orders in their proper place?

Friday, March 24, 2023

Spring Break Benefits

I am caught up on all my grading. This might be the only time in my life this has ever happened, except for the end of various semesters.

I'd like to thank spring break, and also the fact that I am only teaching two classes this semester.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Fablemans

Dr. Skull and I watched The Fabelmans, finally. I was underwhelmed.

As with many of Spielberg's movies, there are great moments. I like the opening scenes about the kid and the movies and his Hanukkah train. I like when they move to California. I like the understated commentary about the gifted pianist mother losing her life to having and raising children -- a price the father, we note, does not pay. He gets four kids and his intriguing, delicious career. Her life is entirely subsumed, and that's just what's supposed to happen. And I liked Judd Hirsh as the crazy uncle.

Sadly, this did not add up to a movie. There's an attempt at a throughline -- we are shown the mother and the father's best friend making eyes at each other, holding hands, and so on; and at the end, the mother ditches her family to follow this friend to Arizona. But really who cares? Yet another story of people trying to decide whether to have an affair or not. Didn't we cover this in Madame Bovary?

There's also the portrait of the filmmaker as a young man. But again, I find it hard to care. His parents and community are endlessly supportive, and his successes come easily. Interestingly, in a book I'm re-reading, Body & Soul, by Frank Conroy, this is also the case -- here, a young pianist gets enormous support from his community, and his successes come easily; but somehow I am still fascinated. I've read this book maybe ten times, and I still love it. What's Spielberg doing wrong, to make me annoyed at his hero instead of interested? I don't know.

The concluding scene, where Sammy (the young filmmaker) meets John Ford, was fun. And I did enjoy seeing a Jewish family at the center of a movie. But on the whole, 6/10, would not watch again.

Afterwards, when Dr. Skull and I were talking about it, I said, "Has Spielberg ever made a really good movie?"

I don't know. E.T., maybe, though I've never rewatched that. Maybe it sucks too.


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Book Drought

I'm having the worse time finding books lately. Partly it is because my library has, lately, been buying nothing but the sappy cishet romances I don't care for, along with a lot of genealogy books and kids books. (I am all for buying kids books, but this means less SFF for me.) Partly, I think, it is that my standards have upgraded. Books that would have been perfectly acceptable to me, say, five years ago annoy and bore me now. Possibly I have just read too many excellent books. I cannot put up with dreadful one.

Also it is that my favorite authors are writing books too slowly. Please, I need more books. Quit your day jobs!

This week I took six books out of the library two days ago and I have DNF'd all of them. Well, I am still trying to read The Professor and the Madman, because I am desperate, but it is slow going.

I still have War and Peace, which I never got around to reading last summer. Maybe I will read that. That will keep me in reading material for at least a few days.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Spring Break!

Today is the first official day of Spring Break and it is 29 degrees here. 59 degrees in the house. That's WITH the heat on.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Reviews of Proud Pink Sky and World Running Down

Here you can read two of the reviews I have done lately for Interzone. These both have trans characters, and both are dystopian/utopian worlds. One has Mormon pirates!

Paying Taxes

We did our taxes this morning. It was relatively painless, but because this is the first year the kid is not a full-time student, this is the first year we had to file without him as a deductible. So -- for the first time in years -- we had to pay rather than getting a refund. Nearly a thousand dollars, plus what we had already paid, so, ugh.

With this, plus the car, plus having to rent the car, our little savings are going fast.

Friday, March 17, 2023

My Very Happy Birthday

I did laundry for my birthday, drank a lot of coffee, and wrote on my novel. Later I finished a review for Interzone, on Proud Pink Sky by Redfern Jon Barrett and World Running Down by Al Hess. Then I went to the grocery and bought milk. Later, Dr. Skull made me a happy birthday pastry:

Blueberry and custard in puff pastry

Now I am reading a science fiction novel and thinking about doing the dishes.

May all your birthdays be as happy as this one.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Spring Break Looms, Have Some News

We're two days away from the start of Spring Break, and yes, I am counting. I am desperate for time to get caught up on my work, which I believe was the original intention of Spring Break.

The weather here is not quite spring-like -- we're having rain and cold, interspersed with bright cold sunny days. I suppose that's spring-like in some parts of the country. It's unusual for an Arkansas spring, though. Everything is blooming early -- daffodils, redbud, pear trees -- and every lawn and field is fuzzy with bright green grass. Very Easter-y.

I have bought the supplies for Passover, which is on April 5, except for the brisket. I floated having lamb, but Dr. Skull demurred. Apparently brisket is traditional for Northeastern Jews.

Meanwhile, the kid is considering graduate school. He had a meeting with the head of the university library, which is his true goal -- to work at a library and do art -- and the guy said a masters in science would make him more competitive for library jobs. (We were wondering what use a masters in biological anthropology would be.) He's talking to his mentor about it, I think today? But maybe tomorrow.

My father's condition is worsening, which is to be expected, but is depressing nonetheless. He's in the fifth stage of dementia, which means he can't communicate and doesn't recognize people most of the time. Also, he can't really handle daily life -- he forgets to eat and bathe, that kind of thing. The assisted living place is moving him into what's called The Memory Care unit, where nurses and aides will help him function. I want to live a long life, but I do not want to spend my last years like this. It's just awful.

Also, I succeeded in making a sweater. Here is a very bad picture of it, with my shambolic bedroom in the background:

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Daylight Savings Time

Once again, we lose an hour's sleep in the interests of...something. No one has ever given me a convincing explanation for why we have to spring forward every year, and then fall back again later in the year. Something to do with World War One, and the idea that longer summer days means less fuel use? Something something kids walking to school in the dark?  I don't know. I do know the lost sleep makes me cranky. 

Apparently Marco Rubio and I agree about this, which I admit made me think twice.

Anyway I am tired and grumpy today. Maybe I'll go exercise. That might help.

Saturday, March 11, 2023


What you get when you vote GOP: Abuse of power

What you get when you vote GOP: Weaponized spousal abuse

What you get when you vote GOP: Weaponized government

I gotta say, it's interesting to learn that (a) Rod Dreher only exists in his current form because one guy wanted to read his work and funded him 100% and (2) that Rod Dreher eventually got too weird for even this guy.


Thursday, March 09, 2023

Pendant le deluge

It is bucketing down icy rain here, rain and thunder, though as yet no wind. A good day to stay inside and nap, but I am too overwhelmed by work to nap. 

I had been keeping up with my work easily, but somehow despite the fact that I finished my Asimov's review and sent it in, I am still entirely whelmed. Maybe because I am spending so much time writing my novel and reading books for my next reviews?

Anyway, picture me huddled under the storm of classes, student work, upcoming book reviews, and writing the novel. Some day I'll get some sleep.

Le deluge:

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Schiacciata All'uva


I can't eat it until it's cool.

Is This Spring?

I think it's actually false spring, since a storm is coming through in a few days, with cold weather behind it. But today we've got lovely weather, with a high of 72 and cool bright sunshine. Also, wildflowers are starting to bloom in my yard.

Spring is, honestly, my least favorite season, given that it's a harbinger of summer, which I detest with all the fury of my soul. But today is nice. I can't help enjoying it.

I'm also making schiacciata all'uva, only with blueberries instead of grapes, because I have too many blueberries (they were on sale, and Dr. Skull said he would eat them, but he did not).

Pix later.

Saturday, March 04, 2023


Our car is fixed. $998, but because they got the parts early, we can take the rental car back. We're keeping it until Monday, since we're driving up the mountain then to take the kid to a medical thing, and having a sedan with four doors (our car has two) will be pleasant for that.

So we'll save a little money on the rental car, and -- let's hope -- this will be the last repair we have to do on the car for awhile. We're saving up to buy a new one, or rather a new used one, sometime within the next year or two. Dr. Skull wants a Subaru Forester, and I want a SmartCar. Is compromise possible? Can this marriage be saved?

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Side Effect: Exercise

 I can't drive the rental car to work -- or rather, I could, but I can't park it on campus. 

Well, I suppose I could park it on campus, but I would have to go over to Campus Security and negotiate with them, and who has the energy, frankly.

So I'm walking to work and walking home every day. Before Dr. Skull retired, this was what I did anyway, since he drove the car to whatever school he was working at that day; but I had quit doing it since his retirement, even though the campus is literally just a half mile away. Driving seemed so much easier, especially at six a.m., which is when I come to work.

However, being compelled to walk is doing wonders for my mood. It's a short, very nearly pleasant walk (there's an appalling hill halfway there), and by the time I reach school I am thoroughly awake and ready for coffee. Walking home is even more pleasant, because the hill is less appalling going home (most of it downhill instead of most of it uphill).

Maybe I will continue to walk to work once we have our own car back.

Hey, it could happen.

The Road Home (before the hill)

Wednesday, March 01, 2023


The guy finally looked at the car, and (1) it's over $1000 to fix it and (2) he can't get the parts until next Friday, like March 10 Friday, which means (C) we have to rent this other car through then at least.

Seriously, UGH.

As I said to Dr. Skull, at least we have the money. I didn't want to spend it this way, true.