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June 29th, 2010 03:44 pm - Sort of a con-txt report
First: Asexuality prompt fest!

I will be hanging around there as soon as I get my head together enough. Losing most of a week to brain-destroying heat has left me feeling completely off-kilter in terms of writing and otherwise accomplishing stuff (I'm about twenty pages behind on the kinkmemes I'm already keeping up with...) On the other hnad, I've been reading real books! (Easier to handle in hammock than laptops are, see.) Apropos of that:

Dear Mr. Leonard R. N. Ashley, who wrote "The Complete Book Of Werewolves" that I picked up from the con.txt swap table:

You invited people to talk about your book on the Internet, so I think I'll take you up on it.

While I generally agree with you about the terrible state of the American educational system today, I have some objections to your statement that American schoolchildren ought to "tackle Henry James' The Turn of the Screw instead of reading Alice Walker's The Color Purple and other politically correct assignments."

Speaking as a young(ish) American who tackled both of those books in school (though neither as an assignment), Turn of the Screw is not actually a particularly good novel. It is, in fact, a fairly standard Gothic novel that has had all of the actually interesting elements of Gothic novels taken out, so that it can pass as proper men's literature. If you would like to read some good, serious gothic novels that are stylistically excellent, fun to read, and have serious things to say about both the genre and the state of humanity, I recommend Austen's Northanger Abbey or Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Oh, wait, those were both written by women, so I suppose that would be too "politically correct".

As for The Color Purple, I will grant you that, particularly in terms of pacing and structure, it has a certain lack of polish. On the other hand, it's an absorbing book that takes risks, tries things that had almost never been done before, says things that nobody else was trying to say, speaks to people nobody else was speaking to, and does it all very, very well, if not perfectly. I am sorry if there was not enough girl-on-girl, racism and gore in it for your tastes (per your previous recommendation of Moon Dance*, with its lesbian cowgirls and savage Sioux tribesmen.)

Also I am not entirely sure why you felt the need to make that comparison in the middle of what was ostensibly a survey of werewolf literature, but I am sure you had your reasons.


P.S.: I am actually working on a lesbian werewolf novel myself (scattershot and very slowly, but I am), since con.txt - two years ago? Four years ago? I forget - when one of the mods in a panel about original writing said that she was still looking for the first Great American Werewolf Novel, as she'd never seen one. I suspect it won't have enough girl-on-girl or racism for you, either.

I am used to books about the paranormal and anomalistics, especially ones about "savage monsters", having at minimum a fairly high level of passive background racism (along with fairly high levels of ablism and often misogyny and classism), but this one was toddling along being reasonably okay, if extremely and smugly idiosyncratic, when suddenly, *pow*, right in the face. Repeatedly. (The 'politically correct literature' rant was only the start :/ )

I would like to state for the record that the books I left on the con.txt swap table were books I actually liked that I happened to have extra copies of, or not enough storage space for, or to have left the fandoms of. Unlike apparently nearly everybody else who left books, who appeared to be clearing their libraries of authors who had proven to be homophobic/racist/misogynistic/pedophilic and/or copyright hypocrites. (All that Card and Bradley and Gabaldon and Heinlein and Bear and etc, it was like a nostalgia trip through the last two years' worth of fail.)

...Oh, and while I am at it,

Dear Mr. R. D. Schneck, author of 'The President's Vampire', )
*I have not actually read Moon Dance by Somtow, or any of his other work; it's possible it's a very good book, but Ashley's description somehow did not give me confidence.

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June 13th, 2010 04:33 pm - Lean and Dangerous
I have been having a very Fortean sort of a week.

We went on a road trip out to Michigan, and there's something very Fortean in general about an American road trip; it doesn't help that the reading material I brought along was two books by Loren Coleman, including "Mysterious America". And then I actually wrote a thousand words or so of the Great American Werewolf Novel, which surprised me.

We came back by way of my sister's archeology field school in Boston, and while there, I saw three UFOs, and I also saw a real, honest-to-goodness pair of concealed shoes (and then embarrassed myself by regaling them all at length over supper about the history and folkore of concealed shoes, oops. I have settled myself so nicely into my current niche of people - RL and online - who are totally groovy about people who know things, and are enthusiastic about the knowing of things, that I've forgotten the knack of, you know, not spontaneously being Quite Interesting all over everything.)

Anyway, then, just this afternoon, a friend of a friend called me to tell me about how she's been hearing this weird hum, intermittently, when she's in houses in her neighborhood, and some of her neighbors can hear it and some can't, so as my good deed for the day, I sent her to the wikipedia page on The Hum.

...possibly this is the universe trying to tell me I should do something more than just idly wonder about the possibility of graduate school in folklore.

Anyway, that is not what you're interested. What you're interested in, obviously, is pictures of cats. so here are some pictures of cats. )
The cat above - aka Miss Georgiana Darcy - has decided that I am never to be out of her eyesight. I don't know why. But I thought I was done being creepily followed around by cats. At least this one leaves me alone on the toilet. And at night, where my bedroom is under the paws of her dear sister, Miss Caroline Bingley, who perches on the one square foot of clear space on my top bunk and surveys her domain.

*Well, they *were* unidentified objects. Until one of them landed at the dig site, and several of the students braved life and limb (and stinging nettles) to haul it back to camp, and it turned out to be an elementary school class project. Still kind of weird and creepy looking though. :D

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January 11th, 2009 10:55 pm - Photos post
Part two of copying my sister's post: photo update.

I haven't taken many for awhile, because my camera is only partly working. And the bits that seem to be really going bad (as opposed to just needing to be smacked around a bit to behave) are the lighting adjustment and the flash, so a lot of these needed a fair amound of futzing after I got them on the computer, and are still slightly pink, but they came out suprisingly okay for all that.

Also, I decided to play with Flickr as my host: I've had an account for years, because it's the default on LT, and doing it through my webspace has gotten substantially more annoying since they made it impossible to see directory indexes on the web. So you can see all these pictures at my flickr account, with slightly different descriptions and more image sizes.

Colonial Williamsburg, cute puppies and kitties, and Native American sites in Ohio. )

The reason I decided I want to go see the mounds again was that I was going to continue my yuletide story by having Jane and Lambert (of the College of Magics books) autocamping down the National Road and visiting moundbuilder/Fort Ancient religious sites along the way, learning about how Native Americans did their own sort of magic within North, South, East, and West. But as usual I got distracted by the fun of doing the historical research and only got the first bit of the story written. I bought a book at Hopewell Culture National Park, though, Mysteries of the Hopewell: Astronomers, Geometers, and Magicians, which should be excellently helpful if I ever *do* write the story about European magic meets the Moundbuilders.


October 31st, 2008 11:07 am - Blessed Samhain & All Saints!
Okay, I am getting very tired of this hallowe'en costume. (Especially since me? I don't even know what I'm being yet. Aren't you supposed to be a parent before you spend all week on someone else's costume?) So I declare a break.

When I need something to occupy my brains, I put together major arcana tarot decks for fandom I'm in. So last weekend while I was working a table I did one for the 2008 elections.

... shut up.

Anyway, before it becomes not relevant at all, I share!

Also, if you're just going to complain that I'm using the wrong names for the cards, go read some history. I recommend Robert Place. )

ETA: Just did a super-quick reading on the question of "Will Obama win the election?" The answer was yes, 8-5, which isn't bad, but not quite enough to get a supermajority. :D Also the final card in the layout was George Bush reversed, which amuses me. (Election day was also reversed, btw, so we may be holding our breaths on Tuesday. Though it's immediately followed by Rachel Maddow triumphant.)

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April 1st, 2008 10:57 pm
Some characteristics that the women (and some of the men) of my mother's family have been known to share:

The ability to find four-leaf clovers whenever they feel like it. (also sometimes five- six- and seven- leaf clovers.)

The *in*ablity to keep an electric-powered wristwatch working for more than a few months.

A fascination with fairies, elves, trolls, or other little people.

A tendency to pick something and hoard it.

The ability to put out streetlights by passing by them.

Also that grandmother saw a UFO once (like, close-enough-to-see-the-whites-of-their-eyes saw) and her father disappeared when she was a baby, leaving only a cryptic note about being chased by government agents. And her only full brother was in on the ground floor of the space program (like well-before-NASA-right-after-Roswell ground floor.)

Mind you, it is perfectly easy to explain away all of these things, starting with the fact that tales grow in the telling, but sometimes one wonders.

This post brought to you by the three separate streetlights that went out while I was under them tonight. Clearly my qi is out of balance or something, which would also explain why I've been feeling nonspecifically miserably sick the last couple days.

(Also my other grandfather, on Dad's side, was a medium. He and his friends used to hold seances and he would always be the one to tap the table and channel because it always worked for him, only he swore it off for life after he correcty predicted that one of the friend's husband's ship would go down in the Pacific theatre, and decided it was too dangerous to mess about with. He also used to cure warts - he'd buy them off the local kids for a couple cents each and it worked every time.)

Anyway, I missed cat pictures yesterday (due to being dead) but here's today's set Adventures on the Balcony. )

Current Music:: polecats - rockin' on the Mary Celeste

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September 21st, 2007 02:19 pm - colors from space
Last night, driving home at about midnight, the moon was so huge and orange and *pendulous* that I nearly pulled over just to make sure it wasn't trying to follow me home. (Harvest Moon coming, yay! I'm sitting here eating feral tomatoes for lunch, mmm.)

Or maybe it was because yesterday evening I was rereading Jim Macdonald's account on re-tracing the route of Betty and Barney Hill's UFO abduction - and encountering the same UFO they did! (The Betty and Barney Hill case was one of the first, and definitely the most famous, alien abduction case, chronicled in the book The Interrupted Journey, which MacDonald uses as his guide.)

If there's one thing that I love more than a truly unexplained paranormal mystery, it's a previously unexplained mystery getting an actual, inarguable explanation. Because a real true scientific explanation means that the results are *reproducible* at will, and how cool is that? (Anybody want to go up to New Hampshire and take a UFO tour sometime? :D If I do end up moving up there, I will totally be trying it.)

The other reason I love them so, though, is that they tend to make the skeptics look almost as silly as the true believers. After all - if the skeptics had known what they were talking about, it would've stopped being a mystery a lot longer ago, right? Nearly every time something gets explained, it reveals that the methods of the skeptics are quite as bad as the methods of the believers.

For example, with Macdonald's post - nobody, on either side, in *fifty years*, had bothered to actually re-trace the route. The believers took them at their word, and the skeptics assumed that their memories were too inaccurate for it to matter. But according to what Macdonald did, the Hills were actually *amazingly* accurate in their account of the original experience. If you do exactly what they said they did, then you will see and experience *exactly* what they saw and experienced (minus minor perceptual differences.)

If the Hills' account of the light they saw in the sky was perfectly, reproducibly accurate ... what about all those other yet-unidentified lights-in-the-sky stories that we've been chalking up to distorted after-the-fact accounts?

(PS: OMG IS IT DEROS OR IS IT THETANS? (OMG, THETANS. I never made the connection before. I now officially blame Scientology on the Doctor. d-: ))

Current Mood::
Current Music:: Beatallica - the Thing That Should Not Let It Be

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June 19th, 2007 10:03 pm - ADAMA
On the way home tonight (it's been a busy extended weekend, let's leave it at that) I passed a hayfield into which somebody had mowed the word ADAMA . At least, it looked like ADAMA - as it was I almost ran over a deputy sheriff, while pondering why somebody would have mowed ADAMA into their hayfield.

(there was an accident right there, it wasn't just a random sheriff. Unfortunately, I don't think the accident could have been caused by ADAMA because it was in the other lane, and I doubt the southbound people could have seen it at all.

Unless ADAMA has evil mind-control rays.)

ETA: Man, I lose my shakespeare icons and suddenly I'm talking shakespeare in every f_w post. Time to scan some covers!

(3 comments | Reply)

January 28th, 2007 05:09 pm - Another Sunday meditation
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Went to Bed with No Clothes On.

...I learned that jingle at some point in my childhood, and I know there was more to it. The internet knows of that rhyme (and cites it back to WWII) so I'm not just making it up, but the only version the internet has can *not* be the version I knew, because it has dirty words, and not only that, dirty words that only rhyme if you're British. Now it's going to keep being stuck in my head until or unless I figure it out.

"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John", of course, is a very common element in English prayers, charms, and spells. There's the well-known "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, / bless the bed that I lie on. / Four corners to my bed, / four angels round my head," which is pretty clearly what the nekkid time version is based on. A quick google also gives me the list of four evangelists in part of an old American blessing to be said over firearms (which something tells me the Winchesters would know well!); an anti-witcchcraft charm against hailstorms; a fertility charm for the land; protection in a lawsuit; and a charm to cure cramp. (Plus several that are hidden under $#%*& academic lock. What, exactly, is the point of that again? Keeping people from learning? I guess I must have really graduated, too, because the library's removed my JSTOR access. I need that access! I can't *survive* without that access! It's entirely possible that one of the reasons I tried to not graduate is that I couldn't stand the thought of losing my university library card! God's ankles, now I'm depressed.)

I could probably find as many again if I took a quick look through my library of paper books on the subject. But the best-known of them all is the "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John" bed-time rhyme, sometimes called the Black Paternoster and more often the White Paternoster, though it has very little in common with the French-style White Paternosters that show up in Les Mis and The Canterbury Tales. In Popular Nursery Rhymes Jenifer Mulherin says the British version may date back to Celtic rituals, but I'm more apt to be reminded (by the four angels 'round the bed) of Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof, the three angels tasked to protect Jewish children against the spite of Lilith.

Some people source the prayer to the 17th century, where it was apparently first put in print by Dr. Thomas Ady in 1656. (Ady is better known as the writer of influential books attempting to insert some rationality into the witchcraft panic.) Margaret Murray, in The God of the Witches (who, granted, must always be taken with several grains of salt) gives a White Paternoster from a mid-17th century witch trial which is much more similar to Chaucer's version, and then she gives a Black Paternoster, implied to be from the same source, which is a four-corners charm clearly similar to the modern Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but uses Latin forms of the names and is an adult's house-blessing rather than a bed-blessing ("God be into this house, and all that belangs us" to rhyme with Joannes.) If Murray can be trusted, then, the charm already existed in two very different version by the 1650s or so.

And "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John", in modern versions, is often intermixed with the other famous nursery prayer, "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep". A whole bunch of versions of both these prayers are listed at Bedtime Prayers, along with a bunch of more twee childrens' prayers with all references to death, of course, ruthlessly bowdlerized. It seems to be a younger prayer - the first references look to be from the 18th century in "A New England Primer". There seems to be a persistent delusion on the 'net that it was printed in the 12th century in the Enchiridion of Pope Leo. The Enchiridion of Pope Leo is a *highly* dubious document, which in the tradition of late-Renaissance magickal publications, claims a pedigree older than it deserves. Given how demonstrably innacurate all the citations to it are, I'm not going to lay bets whether the prayer's actually in the book (the references seem to all have propagated from the wikipedia entry on Christian Child's Prayer (which is just *bad* beyond my ability to fix it, though I tried), detectable through use of a version of the book's name that seems to be *very* uncommon in English.) Although from Waite's description in Book of Ceremonial Magic, it seems reasonable that somebody, at some point, might have inserted some version of that prayer in some copy of the grimiore. I did find what seems to be an online Spanish translation of the book, which may or may not be complete, but doesn't seem to have anything resembling that prayer to the limit of my knowledge of Spanish.

Of course, it also shows up in Metallica's Enter Sandman.
(In other news, "Supernatural" continues to rock.)


Mind, none of that exactly solves the question of what the Evangelists did in bed with no clothes on. But hey! It may still be stuck in my head, but at least by now it's probably stuck in yours, too.

Current Music:: matthew, mark, luke and john, went to bed with no clothes on
Current Mood:: [mood icon] amused

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