ellenkushner: (Witches of LUBLIN)
Another in my series of picks from my perusal of the Sunday New York Times Paid Death Notices.

These are written by family and friends of the deceased, and each one tells a great, true  story.

GOLDFARB--AronHolocaust Survivor and Founder of the G-III Apparel Group, beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather passed away after a long illness on October 8, 2012, at the age of 88. Born February 10, 1924, in Bialobrzegi, Poland, Aron was a Holocaust survivor who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds and founded a successful apparel business known as the G-III Apparel Group. The son of Moshe and Sarah Goldfarb, he was one of seven children and one of three to survive the Holocaust. When the Germans took Aron from his father, the last words his father said to him were "go, my son...maybe you will survive". Those words would stay with him for the rest of his life and eventually would become the title of a book he wrote about his struggle. Aron's family was sent to the Treblinka concentration camp in 1941, while Aron and his older brothers Itzhak and Abraham were sent to the Pionki labor camp. Another brother, Jacob, would survive the war by escaping to Russia. In 1944, Aron with his brothers and a friend Zisman Birman escaped from the camp and fought for survival in the forests of Poland. His brother Itzhak and Zisman Birman were caught while in hiding and executed. Aron and Abraham would survive the war by living in a bunker they built not far from a German gunnery position near their hometown. Armed with only their familiarity with the landscape and their courage they would break into the German outpost not far from their hiding spot and steal food and supplies through the winter of 1944. In 1978, the brothers returned to Poland to retrieve the remains of Itzhak and Zisman and brought them to be buried in Israel. While in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany following the end of the war, Aron saw Esther Disman and immediately asked her to a movie. They were soon married and moved to Israel where Aron was a farmer while serving in the Israeli Army. Their son Morris was born in Israel and the family came to the United States in 1956 where Aron, Abraham and Jacob were reunited. Aron and Esther's second son Ira was born soon after. Aron used his skills learned in Poland as an apprentice to a shoe maker to start in 1956 what is today known as the G-III Apparel Group. What started out as a small leather company is still thriving. Aron is survived by his wife Esther; his son Morris and daughter-in-law Arlene and son Ira; his grandchildren Laura, Jeffrey, Scott, Samantha and Brett; great-grandchildren Joshua, Matthew, Amanda, Ryan, Sabrina and Tristan. Aron will be missed but his memory, lessons and legacy will be carried on by all those who loved him and all the lives he touched.

Other obits of Jewish businessmen of the same age this week are so much gentler-- WW2 vets who were remembered as "acccomplished pianist" or "for passionate love of fishing . . . special sense of humor . . . love of reading. . . ."  

Makes me think, again, of one of my favorite pieces by Steve Reich, Different Trains.  You can hear the first movement here, performed by Quatuor Diotima, and the second here, by Smith Quartet. The recording I know & love is the original, by Kronos Quartet -- Oh! Here it is, with some fantastic period video....  But all, I think, use the same recorded voices of people who were there, from African-American train conductors to child Holocaust survivors.  

* * * 

Thanks for all your sensitive and insightful replies to my last post. I just got this good update from his partner:  
". . . if the radiation therapy works, things will be looking far better than what we were thinking would be happening a week ago. As [his] letter stated, we've been going at this for a year, and we're always surprised at how something at first dire, becomes something manageable. So we continue to shine, pray, stay healthy and positive."

Words to live by.


Sep. 2nd, 2012 04:45 pm
ellenkushner: (Default)

THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!! 

From April 2008, but new to me:  

Glaswegian fantasist (Vellum and Ink) Hal Duncan* explains the finer points of m/m activity** to the sender of some hate mail.  And picks his teeth with what's left of them.

* You might also like Hal's expletive filled, loving and empowering 8-minute "It Gets Better" rant.  Or you might not.  I do.

**No, I'm not being squeamish; I just want to avoid overexciting the spambots.

ellenkushner: (Default)
 or, "Why Should I be the Only One Laughing this Hard?"

OK, so on my FaceBook page today encouraging everyone to talk about Women's Fencing, the subject of Bats came up. (Don't ask - but feel free to trawl the page to find out!)  And I referred to one of the great Bat Stories of my youth - when we all lived on W. 110th Street, and found weird stuff in the paper and read it to each other . . . Possibly the greatest clipping ever was a NYTimes editorial letter referring to a Federal pamphlet on House Bat Management said you could get rid of them by playing a Mexican band arrangement of "Cascade of Roses."

I know.

There's no way that could be real, right?  I was pretty abstemious even then, but surely something potent had been slipped into our morning coffee . . .  . 


Although previous experiments had failed to induce bats to leave their roosts permanently and take up residence in his first bat tower, Campbell was ready to try something else. He hypothesized that since bats located their food through a highly developed sense of hearing, certain types of sounds might prove disagreeable enough to cause them to move and not return. Noting that bats frequented churches and belfries with no apparent aversion to organs or bells, he further surmised that brass band music might provide the right measure of disagreeableness to sensitive bat ears. Since the home he had provided "in which all the conveniences any little bat heart could possibly desire" was only a few hundred yards away, he felt confident that the evicted bats would gratefully move in. ....

Beginning at four in the morning, the bats of the hunting lodge were serenaded with the "Cascade of Roses" waltz as played by the Mexico City Police Band. Cornets, clarinets, piccolos, trombones, drums and cymbals created a cacophony of sound that greeted the bats on their 5:00 a.m. return. Campbell reported that the astonished bats circled the building again and again before giving up and disappearing into the dawn. The concert was resumed the next morning, but the bats, likely knowing what was good for them, never put in an appearance. Campbell repeated the musical production number at a nearby abandoned ranch house occupied by bats. This time he drove the bats out with "the first fortissimo" an hour and a half before their usual emergence time.

The following evening he waited for the bats to leave his bat tower. The emergence that had only taken five minutes a month before now lasted for nearly two hours. The bats never returned to either of the two houses, and Campbell was convinced he had succeeded in concentrating his disease-battling bat forces.


Deepest thanks to FBFriend Ed Dantes of Frankfurt, Germany, who took the challenge and found this for me.  I swear I've Googled it before, to no effect.  Magic!
ellenkushner: (Default)

From this week's New Yorker magazine

by Zach Kanin


ellenkushner: (gargoyle)
Absolutely wonderful piece on the author of "Downton Abbey" (& screenplays of "Gosford Park," Vanity Fair," "Young Victoria' - which we recently saw & were suprisingly impressed by; now I know why - "Emma," etc.), Julian Fellowes, in this Sunday's NYTimes Magazine.  Everything he says sounds right to me - I particularly loved this, though:

"I don't believe that most people wake up and think, How can I be horible today.  In their brain it is a legitimate response to the bad treatment they have received or some bad situation they perceive.  It's rather like when you're an actor, it's always a mistake to play the audience's opinion of your character.  If you're horrible, let them decide without you."

* * * 

Thanks for all the useful casting suggestions for the Swordspoint audiobook!  We're hot on the trail; I'll let you know how it goes.  My producer dryly told me that we could not afford ALL the people I suggested for the plum roles - but I said it was simply my Wish List, and we'd just have to pick them off one by one.

(Of course, my big fantasy is that [YOUR SUPERSTAR'S NAME HERE] is approached, and says, "Swordspoint?!  Omg, I love that book! Of course I'll do it for union scale!"

Shut up.  It could happen.)

I did my first 3 chapters in the studio today.  It went well, I think - but now I'm really wondering how long it's going to take to get up to speed and record all XXVIII of them!  I hope some are quite short.  I hope I don't have to do too many pickups.  I hope that "one more for safey" doesn't mean I'm essentially recording the same book twice!

I hope you'll be pleased.

ellenkushner: (Default)
"Often the less you do, the less you can do. And the more you do, the more you can do.

"So lighten your load with care, or nothing will get done."

Words of wisdom from my good friend Isabel Swift.* Read the whole thing here.

*We met when we were both assistant editors at Pocket Books, in adjacent carrels.  We shared the pretty Georgette Heyer editions when they came in from the UK.  I quit to write - read her Swordspoint drafts while she ironed clothing for her rise in publishing to become chief at Harlequin.  She stepped down not long ago, and is still figuring out what to do with her time.  I was just there the other night, talking about which of the 2 new novels I've got started has the best chance of survival and endurance . . . . 

And, no, I don't know why it's giving me 2 spaces between paragraphs instead of 1. It's been wonky lately.
ellenkushner: (gargoyle close)
George Saunders:

I’d make the case that the whole fictional thrill has to do with this idea of the reader and the writer closely tracking, if you will. Like one of those motorcycle sidecars: when the writer leans left, the reader does too. You don’t want your reader three blocks away, unaware that you are leaning. You want her right there with you, so that even an added comma makes a difference. And I think building that motorcycle has to do with that very odd moment when the writer “imagines” his reader—i.e., imagines where the reader “is” at that precise point in the story. This is more of a feeling thing than an analytical thing, but all that is good about fiction depends on this extrapolation. Which is pretty insane, when you think of it. The writer, in order to proceed, is theoretically trying to predict where his complex skein of language and image has left his reader, who he has likely never met and who is actually thousands of readers. Yikes! Better we should do something easier, like join the circus.

As far as “considering the reader”—I’m sure it’s different for every writer. But for me, yes, I am always considering the reader. Although this is admittedly kind of odd: Which reader? On what day? In what mood? For me, that “reader” is actually just me, if I had never read the story before. That is, I’m trying to read/edit as if I have no existing knowledge of the story, no investment in it, no sense of what Herculean effort went into writing page 23, no pretensions as to why the dull patch on page 4 is important for the fireworks that will happen on page 714. I’m essentially just trying to impersonate a first-time reader, who picks up the story and has to decide, at every point, whether to keep going.
ellenkushner: (INTERFICTIONS)
We saw Punchdrunk's Sleep No More on May 4th.  [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman  wrote about it here - and I strongly recommend Daniel A. Rabuzzi's literate, lyrical, descriptive  post here about it on his delightfully-named (and ever stimulating) blog, Lobster & Canary.  They both think it's a very interstitial work, and I don't disagree.

Did I love it, you'll want to know?  Well, I was still coughing a lot & mildly feverish - and absolutely determined to take it all in, interact with everything macro (breathing down actors' necks as they opened mysterious envelopes) and micro (opening random drawers in elaborately-coiffed rooms).  I really wanted to engage - Daniel refers to it as "a massive LARP (live-action role-playing game) where the script is plastic and no one knows for certain what comes next" - but either I didn't fall into the right rooms, or the huge muffler around my neck put them off . . . or that's just not the show that it is.  I loved the sense of being lost in a series of rooms from other peoples' lives.  I loved the sense of being disconnected from time.  I loved the sense of the weird. I loved experiencing what I could experience (and reading Daniel's description brings me back all sorts of little deliciousnesses I had forgotten).

But it is very much an experience for an observer.  Many of my writer friends adored it, and one (in Boston) even went 4 times (which, if NYC prices had been lower, might be a more attractive proposition).  My embarrassing admission is that, unlike most writers, I am not much of an observer.  Or rather, my observations tend to be text- and sound-based - oh, and touch & smell I respond to strongly.  Delia is always mocking me for "not noticing things" that tend to be visual or even social.  (I think I notice quite a lot!)  And I guess I am, at heart, someone who likes coherence and linearity more than pure experience.  But I was expecting a lot, and perhaps being more relaxed about just taking it as it came would have made it easier.  If I had the time and occasion, I would definitely go again.

So I commend it to you, to make of it what you will, according to your nature and the roll of the dice.
ellenkushner: (gargoyle close)
Ursula LeGuin on China Mieville's Embassytown (in The Guardian - UK):
 "There are men right now who have never learned how to talk to women. How will we talk to somebody really different – aliens?"

The Atlantic Monthly's PROJECT:  FIRST DRAFTS offers some pretty great artists' takes on "the sometimes messy, frequently maddening, and almost always mysterious process of creating something new" - including Paul Simon, T.C. Boyle, Chuck Close, Tim Burton, Ben Katchor & more!

Hey!  Wow!  NYTimes & New Milford Patch report that the deportation of Venezualan guy legally married in Connecticut to U.S. guy is being suspended, while an appeals court "work[s] out whether a gay partner might be eligible under some circumstances for residency. . . . ''Something is shifting and opening, and change is on the horizon,'" says the executive director of Immigration Equality, a legal group that advocates for gay immigrants.

Tara O'Shea, who made the wonderful Bordertown wallpaper/icons, blogs about her road to the Border.
ellenkushner: (book swords music)
Yes, I did it! I wrote *5* Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books for Bantam/Edward Packard back in the day. Recently the delightful Molly Tanzer interviewed a few of us original writers - and readers! - and.... series creator Ed Packard himself!  What a nice guy he was - and clearly still is.  And now her piece on CYOA is up on Fantasy Magazine's online, um, magazine thing. You can read it here.

I found out about CYOA's at a World Fantasy Convention, when a very nice Bantam editor  (Ron something?) was there showing them off.  "Hey," I thought; "I could do that!"  And I needed the money because my first novel, Swordspoint, was taking a whole lot longer to write than I thought it would.  So I put together a proposal, and went in to see the CYOA editor.... And I made a little money.  I wrote a little novel.  Or two.  (And then I got a Real Job....and my books were published . . . but that's another story.)

*Oh, OK, here they are:

Outlaws of Sherwood Forest (#47). 1985.
The Enchanted Kingdom (#56). 1986.
Statue of Liberty Adventure (#58). 1986.
The Mystery of the Secret Room (#63). 1986.
Knights of the Round Table (#86). 1988.

(They're all listed here in my newly-revised Complete Bibliography, too.)

ETA:  And most of my illustrations were by my friend & neighbor, Judith Mitchell.  We had fun with that - I had her draw my old boss as the Sheriff of Nottingham! (I was temporarily her art agent, too - mostly because she was anxious about taking her portfolio 'round, and I wasn't.  This was the best gig I managed to get her, I think... Not really cut out for the agenting game.)

This just in:  And Kat Howard's companion story in the same "CYOA" edition of Fantasy Magazine - titled, not coincidentally, "Choose Your Own Adventure" - is dedicated to
So says Kat in her Author Spotlight.  
I am suitably chuffed.  And touched.  And delighted.
ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
Don't worry, I'm still keeping an eye on the NYTimes paid Death notices for more summations of amazing lives . . . but first, a wedding report

She's 75, he's 80. Each was once monarch at the St Paul Winter Carnival. They married Feb. 5.  My favorite lines:

Read more... )
ellenkushner: (MWK cover)
Since I live to kill off my own beloved characters, I have to live with readers' reactions - and so, of course, do the readers.

Although it doesn't specifically mention my Riverside stories  "The Death of the Duke" or "The Man with the Knives",  the recent acafenic essay by Racheline MalteseTangible Reality of Absence: Fan Communities and the Mourning of Fictional Characters , has a lot of interesting things to say about responses to the deaths of fictional characters, from Wilbur's friend Charlotte the Spider to Ianto Jones [argh! he dies?! OK, I'm behind...] to Severus Snape (mais biensur.  He had it coming.  Delia & I like to play a little game while watching TV (at the commercials) or new plays (at intermission) called "Marked For Death" - as in, "Is s/he..?"), to Sherlock Holmes (though, like Halley's Comet, he tends to come 'round again).  Cool stuff.  And what can I say?  As an artist, I love seeing things through to the bitter end - and I've always responded to tragedy as a genre - with the understanding that they're not always the same thing.  

Oh, yeah; and Thomas the Rhymer, don't forget that.  Sorry, folks; it's just the way I roll, given world enough, and time.
ellenkushner: (FurCoat)
When you write historical/ historical fantasy novels, you need to be able to imagine looking at the world through very different eyes.   One of the best ways to do this is by reading source material:  text from an earlier period, in which cultural suppositions are clearly stated - and usually unexamined by the writer . . . Unless, that is, he is the great Anthony Trollope!  

This passage from  his  Phineas Finn (1867-9)  caught my attention, as it describes a young woman, an aristocrat from a powerful political family*, who is not universally admired - in part because what we now call her "body language" confuses people:

She was...about five feet seven in height, and she carried her height well.
There was something of nobility in her gait, and she seemed thus to be taller than her inches.
Her hair was in truth red -- of a deep thorough redness..... But in these days we have got to like red hair,
and Lady Laura's was not supposed to stand in the way of her being considered a beauty.
Her face was very fair, though it lacked that softness which we all love in women....
Her complexion was very bright, but in spite of its brightness she never blushed.
The shades of her complexion were set and steady.
Those who knew her said that her heart was so fully under command that
nothing could stir her blood to any sudden motion. As to that
accusation of straggling which had been made against her, it had
sprung from ill-natured observation of her modes of sitting. She never
straggled when she stood or walked; but she would lean forward when
sitting, as a man does, and would use her arms in talking, and would
put her hand over her face, and pass her fingers through her hair,-
after the fashion of men rather than of women;
-and she seemed to
despise that soft quiescence of her sex in which are generally found
so many charms. Her hands and feet were large,-as was her whole frame.
Such was Lady Laura Standish,,,,

Shades of Jo March!*

*Daughter of the Earl of Brentford and sister of Lord Chiltern. Greatly interested in politics, she maintained a distinguished salon in London" -- anthonytrollope.com 

** Little Women published 1868-69 as well!
ellenkushner: (gargoyle)
Yesterday's NYTimes ran an article on the swift and dramatic rise in e-book sales of children's and YA titles - pretty clearly tied to the surge of e-readers given as holiday gifts to kids. And apparently, some kids don't really differentiate between different kinds of Screen Time, and find themselves reading instead of watching TV.

All of which makes me very pleased to consider that all my novels are currently available in a number of e-book formats (platforms? whatever) . . . and so are [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman 's delightful, delicious "New York Between" kids' books Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen. MMoMQ hardcover is also currently on Big Dog Sale right now...plus Kindle.. Come buy, come buy!
ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
One of my great reading pleasures is the Sunday New York Times Paid Death Notices.  The lives described therein are remarkable, in column after column.  This week, I was particularly struck by these two:  

Ruth Hung-Fang Tung, age 96:  Her father, Tung Jing-Cheng. . . was a Confucian scholar, and her mother, Grand Duchess Wang Shou-Kun, was the founder and head of a girls school. Professor Tung . . .  graduated from Harbin Normal College for Women, and was the first Government sponsored graduate student to attend Ochanomizu Women's University in Tokyo. To escape the massacres during the Chinese Civil War, she, together with her three infant sons, sought refuge in Japan . . . To supplement her modest academic salary in order to raise her three sons, she wrote poetry, translated books and movie subtitles, and taught Chinese cooking at home and on television. After sending each of her sons to the United States for high school, she joined them there, taught at American University in Washington, D.C., and worked as a researcher in the Chinese Collection of the U.S. Library of Congress . . . . 

Leonard Lazarus, age 100:   born in the Bronx to German immigrants . . . . Leonard's father contracted TB and upon the doctor's advice relocated to the Adirondacks in Saranac Lake. Leonard's mother, Lillie, was very resourceful and found a place big enough, with land, to run a boarding house and for her husband to run a kosher chicken and egg business. . . . . At a young age Leonard helped his parents. He had the largest paper route in the neighborhood and took furs to the rail station for a furrier. . . .  Mr. Lazarus' father died two days after his high school graduation so proud of his son who was the first person in the family to graduate high school. . . . After his father's death, the family relocated back to the Bronx where his mother opened a family grocery business where Leonard worked. One of the customers, Rose, became his first wife. Leonard won a state scholarship to Columbia University at sixteen. He worked for the New York Times and became a soda fountain man in a movie house that showed the first talkie movie with Al Jolson, and then became the manager of the cafeteria at Columbia. . . .. After graduation from Columbia University School of Law during the depression. . . . Leonard represented the bus driver's union, three to four hundred men on strike, and conducted labor negotiations with Mayor La Guardia. . . .

Folks, times are tough.  But they've been tougher.  Life stories like this are in there every week, and I eat them up, and learn from them.

I Think Continually of Those who were Truly Great
Stephen Spender

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul's history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns
Endless and singing. . . . .
. . .
The names of those who in their lives fought for life
Who wore at their hearts the fire's center.
Born of the sun they traveled a short while towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honor.
ellenkushner: (gargoyle)
Terri Windling just posted "Dare to be Foolish," a topsy-turvy cry to arms to help artists "find your voice."  In it she refers to a piece of Cynthia Heimel's that in our youth we dubbed "The Sacred Text."  Since it's still not up online - and I'm not about to diss Heimel's copyright by typing it all in, much as I'd like to - I just put some of my favorite bits into TW's Comments section.  And since I went to all that trouble, I am "reprinting" my comment here for you:

 Ah, the Sacred Text! I can't find it online either, which is annoying as I want to make everyone read it - but happily it was reprinted in Cynthia Heimel's collection GET YOUR TONGUE OUT OF MY MOUTH, I'M KISSING YOU GOODBYE. The essay, "How to Be Creative," opens: "Do you ever get to wondering why certain things are so *bad*? Why movies and TV and magazines don't ...make you sweat with enlightenment? Why everywhere around you people and things seem to be catering to some mythical consumer, some strange beast of a person who is exactly like you only completely stupid?"

And goes on to: "We live in a dark and fearful time, a time of polls and ratings and market research..." (which, I would add, is one reason we founded the Interstitial Arts Foundation - remember?)

But for our purposes here, the next best line is: "Everybody lives in fear. We all think we're incredibly weird and depraved and bonkers, and if people knew the real us they'd ...make us live in a Canadian mental institution....[but] it is that very weirdness, the eccentricities and forbidden lusts in our souls that bind us together....

"There is only one way to be creative, and that is to have the courage to examine all our inner ripples and horrors and jokes and transform them into art....

"You want to create, go out on a limb.... Don't listen to anybody, don't copy anything. Go after that twisted deranged core of your being, wrench it into the light, and you will make one million dollars."


And thank you, Terri, for the reminder.
ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
Long silence this week due to wonderful visit from Boston dear friends Mike & Deb - Mike was the PD at WGBH when I applied for a job there; he hired me and promptly left the station, but we became good friends, and he and Deb were a very important part of my life in Boston - in fact, he held one pole of the chuppa at our Legal Wedding in 2004 - and that's Deb's sleeve you see in the background of the photo posted in Kelly Cogswell's terrific article on Delia & me in this week's Gay City News (thanks to Sarah Smith for the photo - and to Jim Freund for editing it & posting it on Picasa along with the other ones from the NYRSF reading last week!  Kelly C. was at the reading, and I was also delighted to see she got such nice quotes from some of the other folks in attendance).

With Mike & Deb we went up to the celebrated Arthur Avenue old Italian district in the Bronx, and brought home just about everything we couldn't eat on the spot.  Deb & Delia prepared bronzino with fennel & fresh linguine (which Mike must've stood online for for over an hour!) w/fresh mozarella & zucchini.  We were nearly too full for the ricotta pie.  Nearly.

On Thursday, Delia & I did our now-annual trip to St Bart's to pay our respects to her parents in the crypt - miraculously, the organist began practicing for the Christmas service as we walked in the doors, so we got a great big glorious blast of that as lagniappe.  Then we wandered up Fifth Ave. looking for the perfect place for tea, but the St Regis was fully booked - we couldn't even snag a seat in the King Cole Bar, so we fell back on the little basement cafe at Bergdorf Goodman, which while short on decor has amazingly good food & nice staff.  Convenient, too, for looking at the store's holiday windows, which are, as usual, spectacular this year.  I tweeted a bunch of the Fifth Ave. windows - you can see links to all of them here, I think (also the pony-riding goats at the Big Apple Circus, which is where we went yesterday!).  And, oh, yeah, then we went to Tiffany's for a wedding gift for D's cousin - you wouldn't believe the price of silver, now!  Delia wanted to send some as it's what her mother would have done (groom's mother recently told very funny story about mailman in small town Louisiana actually trembling as he delivered her high school graduation box from Tiffany's [a small pin]) - so we settled on a very pretty little crystal vase instead.  And then, whaddayaknow - Tiffany's was giving out hot chocolate & candy & cookies to all! It was very impressive.  I had a reindeer, and then a bird in blue icing, which you can see in this photo I took of the entire impressive setup.

Lessee, what else?  Daniel Rabuzzi sent me a link to Annie Lennox's new video God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (which title it took me years to realize is not "God rest you, merry gentleman" but "God rest you merry, gentlemen!"), saying:  Brings to mind Thomas the Rhymer, and Greer [Gilman]'s work. - oh, yes!  And if you youngsters don't already know Eurythmics/Annie Lennox's Here Comes the Rain Again and Walking on Broken Glass videos (yes, that is Hugh Laurie as her dorkish 18c beau), consider them my gift to you this year.  (And sorry about the commercials - YouTube wtf is up with that??!)

Finally:  This piece by Susan Dominus in the NYTimes on today's wedding anniversary of four longtime friends just made me grin (and read every other line to Delia at the breakfast table!).  It also contains some remarkable truths & insights about my parents' generation.  Read it and be glad they were and are with us all.
ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
Among the scraps I read aloud from the NYTimes to Delia at the breakfast table toda*y was this, from Paul Krugman:

[T]he fundamental issues of public policy haven’t changed since Victorian times. Still, some things are different. In particular, the production of humbug — which was still a somewhat amateurish craft when Dickens wrote — has now become a systematic, even industrial, process.

[....]When discussing the alleged huge expansion of government under Mr. Obama, I’ve repeatedly found that people just won’t believe me when I try to point out that it never happened.... After all, they’ve heard over and over again about that surge in government spending and employment, and they don’t realize that everything they’ve heard was a special delivery from the Humbug Express

*Others included the bitter debate in some families between colored and white Christmas lights (times like this, I'm glad I'm Jewish!), and a pretty hilarious list of Worst Holiday Presents Ever compiled from disgruntled readers; my heart went out to the one who wanted a book on Pompeii & got snow pants - hey, me, too!

Don't worry -  a posting of Comfort & Joy coming later - first we have to finish our Cards, clean the house & go to the Circus!

Hope your holidays are happy ones all 'round.
ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
 In this busy social season, [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman has her heart set on finishing revisions of THE FREEDOM MAZE for Big Mouth House before we leave for Florida on the 26th.  When I mention Cards, she looks perilously close to tears.  This would not be a big deal, except for the fact that in the past two years it was my *ehrm*KLEZMER NUTCRACKER shows & performances that kept us from getting down to it . . . So the oldest people in our lives probably think we've dropped them off our List.  They think we no longer care about them.  Or, worse yet, that we are Rude.  So I am going to try to rectify that by sitting down this weekend with our 150+ List, our antiquated Filemaker Pro program, and maybe a little whiskey (which could also help my stupid cold?) and, well - the last 2 years' of Holiday Letters, which we actually did write but never managed to send?  and were waiting for final edits because Delia thinks my drafts are too long & too personal, while I think hers are too stiff & formal? because her target audience is her school headmistress (who still sends personal notes addressed to each in a fine italic hand) and mine is, oh, I dunno, everyone?  So last year we got as far as deciding that we would make the switch over from mailing dozens of nicely-decorated sheets of updates to just e-mailing them (the coward's way out, as I know that I am mostly too busy around now to open the enclosures that my other friends send me - whereas if they mail me something, it will at least turn up on the breakfast table competing with the pile of New Yorkers & Village Voices....)

Oh god.  Maybe we should just go back to sending out attractive little pictures with pre-stamped greetings of General Good Will.  But then how will anyone know what's become of us?  Am I overthinking this?  The sub-categories are boundless:  1) Cards to elders to show we care. 2) Letters to elders & friends who don't read LJ or Facebook, but who care & should be kept informed & we don't want to lose touch with.  3) The same in foreign countries, but try to figure out who we needs to be updated but we can just send them an e-version instead... Oh no head explosion now.

Moving right along (I did begin this post 12 hours ago):

Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] otterdance (née Lynn Flewelling), for your link to (and excerpts from) Chuck Wendig's, um, revised version of The Writer's Prayer - I particularly like:

   Every word journey is a Journey West. I am Lewis, and I am Clark. I am not the Donner Party.
   I recognize that writing a novel is hard. And I don’t give a lemur’s left foot. I don’t give a good goddamn. I don’t give two shits in a wicker basket. The best things in life are hard. Like hunting pterodactyls. Like getting married.

In other news: A review of Troll's Eye View has finally mentioned my story.  Finally.  At last.  Tangentially.  But there it is.  We live for these little triumphs.
ellenkushner: (Default)
So has anyone else read L.A. Meyer's Jackie Faber books (each now listed on the cover as as "A Boody Jack Adventure")?   Omg:  they're Patrick O'Brian for teenage girls!  Think "Dido Twite meets Jane Austen and they run away to sea!"   Meyer is brilliant at walking the line between historical accuracy and what current sensibilties can bear:  before young Jackie wins the respect of each hardnosed crew, she has to deal with genuine misogyny and some pretty ugly incidents . . . not to mention (in Book 2, the first I read by happy accident a few years ago) a hardnosed Ladies' Seminary in Boston . . . I just found them again (at NYC's Books of Wonder) and am happily ripping through them as fast as I can order them.  Plus, Meyer knows his traditional music (oh, hey! just found on the website where it says The Jacky Faber series of books was inspired by British and Celtic folk music being played on the radio - hmm, he's up in Maine, my show did air there for awhile, hmm.....)

And speaking of:  Am I nuts, or is this soulful Bryn Mawr College Hymn set to the tune of a rather reprehensible old sea song? (I just love hearing it - it calls up such images of 1910, when the very notion of girls being "good comrades" who could "come back from near and far" to study academics was such a radical one!  If you're interested, here's a little College history - and here's the annual Hogwarts' Dinner - held in Thomas Great Hall . . . where [livejournal.com profile] 1crowdedhour  & I spent many happy hours trying to break into & climb the highest towers.  There's a reason her A College of Magics  series is popular at that school....)  The BMC Library is once again offering terrific cards.

My old friend, dance critic Debra Cash (we met at summer music camp!) has posted a review of "Black Swan" for alternet.org, calling it: "a film about a masochist seen through the eyes of a sadist. Black Swan could be a textbook demonstration of what academics refer to as the male gaze . . . portray[ing] female powerlessness on every level—youth, friendship, collegiality, retirement, motherhood." 

And another [livejournal.com profile] debsliverlovers  update:  Laurie Marks has set up a CarePage for Deb's liver transplant news, saying: 
All news and updates will appear there, along with photos.. . . . this is a public page, and anyone is welcome to join.  The transplant surgery date has been set [for] January 5.  Laurie's already posted one update - and, man! that woman can write!  If you're looking for that last-minute holiday gift, why not encourage her to write more by buying her Elemental Logic series? Trade or eBook of  Water Logic available from Small Beer Press, who will also publish first 3 e-Books - plus Book 4 when Deb's all better & Laurie can finish it.

October 2014

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