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Stickie introductory post

Characters frequently appearing in this drama:

  • I - your humble narrator, sometime writer and poet (preferred pronoun: he/him/his)

  • Janni - spouse and writer (preferred pronoun: she/her/her)

  • TBD - nom de internet of our child, not yet a writer (preferred pronoun: they/them/their)

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/632515.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Reading Wednesday is happening again. Yay reading.


The Murderbot Diaries series, being All Systems Red (reread), Artificial Condition (reread), Rogue Protocol (reread), and Exit Strategy (newread), Martha Wells -- I love this stuff. I ♥ Murderbot and its slow stumbling progress towards social autonomy (it already had personal autonomy) and its caustic sense of humor. The Hugo+Nebula+Locus trifecta for the first installment was deserved, and the others are all just as good. Go thou, find and read these.

Hilda and the Stone Forest, Hilda and the Troll, Hilda and the Midnight Giant, and Hilda and the Bird Parade, being #5, #1, #2, and #3 of the series, story and art by Neal Pearson -- All both read to TBD and reread by myself. Read in this order because that's how the library holds came through. FWIW, Stone Forest takes place just after the end of the recent Netflix adaptation, Troll was expanded into the first episode (it's disappointingly short), and Midnight Giant & Bird Parade were exactly adapted as episodes two and three, respectively. All are as wonderful as the adaptation -- excellent all-ages adventure comics in a fantasy world that's slightly sideways from ours. I especially like Stone Forest, where Hilda ends up on an adventure (first suggested in Bird Parade) with her mother, who is neither clueless nor completely clued in, and in either case rarely lets her instinct to protect her daughter make her act stupidly. Be warned: that volume ends on a cliffhanger, and the next book is still (after a few years) nowhere in sight. We're also still waiting on #4 (which looks to correspond to the show's last episode) but I expect the library will be quicker about that.

Other new read-alouds to TBD included an even handful of early-reader through middle-grade level nonfiction (don't have the titles handy) about castles and knights* and arms and armor, most with a tight medieval Europe focus; an educational graphic novel(ette) by Ted Rechlin accurately titled Tyrannosaurus Rex; and the first Super Fly adventure by Todd H. Doodler (competently written, thoroughly by-the-numbers story, took us several days to get through).

In progress:

Way of Choices, Mao Ni -- I love this novel's focus on consequences and moralities. This has more of a concern with Confucian ethics (as opposed to only Confucian social forms) than other xianxia/xuanhuan novels I've read, and highlights aspects of the master/disciple relationship I've seen only in core wuxia. Up to chapter 741.

Pogo volume 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder, Walt Kelly, to somewhat less than ⅔, savoring it at the rate of a couple weeks an evening.


Skyfire Avenue (天火大道), Tang Jia San Shao (唐家三少) -- I appreciated that the protagonist starts out a developed grown-up and is faithful to the memory of his missing-presumed-dead wife, and the fusion of xuanhuan and science-fiction elements was interesting. However, comma, the snobbery of the aristocracy of talent was off-putting and I didn't have enough interest to stick with it after it was clear the supposedly professional protagonist had No Idea how to competently bodyguard someone. Gave up at chapter 40.

* Knights have joined the stable of recurring bedtime story requests. I am determined to work in at least one girl squire or lady knight into tonight's tale. I've already done a Hamster Princess crossover.


Subject quote from Call It Dreaming, Iron & Wine.

Originally posted at
https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/700582.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Links, links, who has links? Why I do -- imagine that.

Bees and Bombs, animated geometric .GIFs. (via)

Extreme closeup photos of butterfly wings. Click through for large size for the love of all the gods. (via)

How to scam a gmail user. (via)


Subject quote from You're a Mean One, Mr Grinch, Theodor Geisel & Albert Hague.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/700365.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Slightly out of season, but it still works for a Poetry Monday:

A Blessing, Luci Tapahonso

For the graduates of the University of Arizona.

This morning we gather in gratitude for all aspects of sacredness: the air, the warmth of fire, bodies of water, plants, the land, and all animals and humankind. We gather to honor our students who have achieved the extraordinary accomplishment of earning doctoral or master's degrees. We gather to honor their parents, grandparents, children, family members, and friends who have traveled with them on their path to success. They have traveled far distances to be here this morning: we honor their devotion.

May we remember that holiness exists in the ordinary elements of our lives.

We are grateful for a homeland that has always thrived on a glorious array of people and their diverse cultures, histories, and beliefs. We acknowledge the generosity of the Tohono O'odham in granting this land on which we learn, teach, celebrate accomplishments, and sometimes mourn losses.

May we always cherish our ancestors as we prepare for the days ahead. May we remember that we exist because of their prayers and their faith.

We are blessed with distinct and melodious tongues. Our languages are treasures of stories, songs, ceremonies, and memories. May each of us remember to share our stories with one another, because it is only through stories that we live full lives.

May the words we speak go forth as bright beads of comfort, joy, humor, and inspiration. We have faith that the graduates will inspire others to explore and follow their interests.

Today we reflect a rainbow of creation:

Some of us came from the east, where bright crystals of creativity reside. They are the white streaks of early morning light when all is born again. We understand that, in Tucson, the Rincon Mountains are our inspiration for beginning each day. The Rincons are everlasting and always present.

Those who came from the south embody the strength of the blue mountains that encircle us. The Santa Ritas instill in us the vigorous spirit of youthful learning.

Others came from the west; they are imbued with the quiet, yellow glow of dusk. They help us achieve our goals. Here in the middle of the valley, the ts'aa', the basket of life, the Tucson Mountains teach us to value our families.

The ones from the north bring the deep, restorative powers of night's darkness; their presence renews us. The Santa Catalina Mountains teach us that, though the past may be fraught with sorrow, it was strengthened by the prayers of our forebearers. We witnessed the recent fires the mountains suffered, and in their recovery we see ourselves on our own journeys. We understand that we are surrounded by mountains, dziił, and thus that we are made of strength, dziił, nihí níhídziił. We are strong ourselves. We are surrounded by mountains that help us negotiate our daily lives.

May we always recognize the multitude of gifts that surround us. May our homes, schools, and communities be filled with the wisdom and optimism that reflect a generous spirit.

We are grateful for all blessings, seen and unseen.

May we fulfill the lives envisioned for us at our birth. May we realize that our actions affect all people and the earth. May we live in the way of beauty and help others in need. May we always remember that we were created as people who believe in one another. We are grateful, Holy Ones, for the graduates, as they will strengthen our future.

All is beautiful again.
Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.
Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.
Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.
Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

Tapahonso is, if you're wondering about the bits of non-English, Navajo. The mountain ranges named do indeed guard Tucson in the four cardinal directions, with the first and last best visible from the graduation ceremony.


Subject quote from < ahref="https://nefeshmountain.bandcamp.com/track/heiveinu-shalom-aleichem">Heiveinu Shalom Aleichem</a>, Nefesh Mountain.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/699993.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Yuletide letter 2018

(Context: Yuletide is an annual fanfiction gift exchange for fandoms with relatively few fics, notable for its large number of participants and the high average quality of stories. I'm participating again this year, once more offering and requesting only public-domain fandoms, with a focus on poems.)

Dear Yulemouse,

Thank you for offering to write in at least one of these fandoms. They are awesome, and you are too. I can only hope you enjoy writing a story as much as I will reading it -- for certainly, there will be squees ringing off the mountains when it arrives given, yanno, it's in a fandom I want yet so rarely find.

The best way you can please me is to have fun. Wit, sex, dramatic irony, and cracktasticly silly rom-com are all possibilities, but go with whatever floats your boats. Gen, het, slash (including femslash), and poly are all great, as clean or smutty as you want. As a partial guide to the sort of things I like, my stories on AO3 is as good as anything. Turn-offs (do not want!) are humiliation-based humor, sadism, and explicit torture. Find something and make it your own, the thing you love writing, and it's easy odds I'll like it.

The rest of this are expansions on my Optional Details Are Optional, with notes on resources.

The Tay Bridge Disaster, William McGonagallCollapse )

Hell Gate, A.E. HousmanCollapse )

Tang Dynasty RPFCollapse )

Strange Tales from a Chinese StudioCollapse )


Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/699698.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Informal poll: If you were reading a book of translations of Japanese poetry, would you find an index of first lines (in romanized Japanese) of any use? All poems would be clearly identified by its standard anthology reference regardless.

And in return, some links:

Learning to make beef noodles. (via)

Once upon a time in Sichuan, someone made short charming videos about Chinese folkways.

Happy endings for birds.

Subject quote from Nuremberg, Henry Longfellow.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/699446.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Poetry Monday:

The Oven Bird, Robert Frost

There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

Vintage Frost, writing a variant-form sonnet in 1916. When reading this, keep in mind his claim “I am not a nature poet. There is almost always a person in my poems.”


Subject quote from On His Mistress, the Queen of Bohemia, Henry Wotton.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/699376.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Imagine Maria Rainer dancing through singing “These are a few of my favorite things” ...

The Space Opera Cover Maker and the Pulp Magazine Cover Maker. (via, which has other toys too)

Speech bubbles a la comics have been found in the art of a Roman tomb. (via)

Nicely satisfying videos of animated mechanisms.

You'll have to find your own whiskers on kittens though.


Subject quote from After dark vapors have oppress’d our plains, John Keats.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/698883.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Poetry Monday:

September Midnight, Sara Teasdale

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,
Ceaseless, insistent.

The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples,
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence
Under a moon waning and worn, broken,
Tired with summer.

Let me remember you, voices of little insects,
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,
Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,
Snow-hushed and heavy.

Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,
While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest,
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,
Lest they forget them.

Okay, so it's no longer September, but only just. Work with me here. Teasdale (1884-1933) is one of several important first-generation modernist poets no longer remembered in the Canonical Story of Modernism because later trends, following the Pound-Eliot stream, depreciated the sort of lyric poetry and quiet ironies she excelled at. She was a bestseller in the field, and won the first Pulitzer Prize for poetry (under the prize's previous name). The form is an English accentual version of the Saphhic stanza.


Subject quote from To Jane: The Invitation, Percy Shelley.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/698666.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


TBD is five years and five months old.

Achievements unlocked in the last two months: extracting spoilage from Grandma, baiting a hook, casting a fishing rod, I Spy by initial letters,* kindergartening

Achievements leveled up: ball handling and control, coloring, aesthetic appreciation, expressing complex emotions in words

After a week of kindergarten, TBD asked if it was possible they could come back to the same school next year. Which as close to a direct answer to whether they like it as we’re likely to get. Their teachers (Chinese immersion in the morning, English in the afternoon) both seem pleased with how they are doing.

I recently connected some dots:
  • From since they were 1, TBD has systematically tested their balance walking on uneven surfaces.
  • They also systematically practiced and expanded biking skills.
  • They’ve been practicing throwing and catching for over a year.
  • Practicing dodging (origami ninja stars and balls) for nearly a year.
  • Practicing basketball (using grownup arms for a hoop) for half a year.
  • Practicing basic volleyball and soccer skills for a couple months.
  • The discovery of rock climbing this spring.
  • Enjoying all the activities (except swimming) of a couple weeks of sports camp, and got awards for best gymnastics in age group (5-7).
  • Excellent balance, climbing, and jumping (including around furniture).
Tentative conclusion: we’re raising a baby!jock. Who asks us to pose math problems for fun.

In recognition that TBD is older and needs slightly less sleep (and that the time they fall asleep is about the same regardless of when they actually get in bed) our evening routine has been shifted half an hour later -- which gives all of us a little more breathing room. More troubling, card or board games has largely replaced reading during the between-bath-and-bed wind-down time. Ball skills has largely displaced general reading as well.

The stress gauge of Monster Threat Level (in abeyance for some time) has been replaced by the Darkness Threat Level, which can be quantified by how many lights TBD wants turned on.

In critical skills, TBD is noticing—and dubious about—the token girl in casts of characters. In analytic skills, they proposed a test for how to tell whether The Flash can run faster than light that was logically (if not logistically) on point. In persistence skills, while we did finish assembling a large Lego ninja ship (2300 pieces!) together, this did require some nudging once it got complete enough to play with.

In awareness of sexuality, families acted out by toys and in stories contain 1 mom + 1 dad somewhat more than half the time, with the alternatives being 2 moms, 2 dads, or 2 moms + 1 dad in roughly equal measure, plus a very occasional single mother and, once, 3 moms + 2 dads. (Why never 1 mom + 2 dads, and why grandparents are always 1 grandma + 1 grandpa, I haven't figured out.)

And in stories they tell about themselves: for Halloween, TBD spent a long time waffling between being a knight and a devil. The choices and indecision are entirely characteristic. A few days ago, finally, they decisively settled on Darth Vader.

Other stories -- talking, talking:

“One time when I was five, like tomorrow or the next day, I was putting his [a Lego figure’s] sword in his hand and his underwear popped off!”

TBD: “Knock knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Tank who?”
“Aren’t you glad you weren’t blown away by a tank?”

Janni: “Why are you eating napkins?”
Me: “Because Applejack got a splinter in her mouth.”

“Once upon a time, there was a woman who married a cheese. The cheese said, ‘I think — I think — someone had better eat me before I go bad and have to be thrown out.’ And the woman said, ‘Oh no, I’ll lose you waaaa sob sob ... Oh well, nom nom nom.’ The End”

(at random)
“Chapter 2: The Volcano Erupts!” (goes back to putting away toys)

“Do you know what’s my best thing to do? Seeing the puffed up clouds.”

I should have put story construction in that list of achievements leveled-up, shouldn't I ...

* We’d been playing by colors.


Subject quote from Manhattan Moon, Lucy Kaplansky.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/698454.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Let’s just SAY I was writing a Wrath of Khan musical... and let’s just SAY I finished the song where Khan ambushes Kirk’s Enterprise... let’s just SAY—ok here it is.” Spock bop a-loo-bop, a Spock bam-boom. (via)

So someone published a book called Atlas of Remote Islands, subtitled Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will. And so someone else did some extensive armchair traveling, visiting all 50 online: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. Safe journeys, y’all!

Children’s Fantasy. I would read the HELL out of a novel that’s about the last panel + alt-text.


Subject quote from Christian Island, Gordon Lightfoot.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/698320.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Reading report on a Reading Wednesday, what a concept.


DC Super Hero Girls: Out of the Bottle, Shea Fontana story, Yancey Labat et al. art -- Another read-aloud to TBD. Not the best volume in the series, but still quite entertaining with a clever resolution, and a reread was immediately requested.

Ivy + Bean: One Big Happy Family, Annie Barrows -- #11 in the series (just out -- the first in five years), read aloud. Again not the best in the series, but I always enjoy the Ivy-focused stories (I love a good quiet weirdo) -- though I note that TBD didn't snork it down, but instead returned to it over a couple days.

The Talented Clementine, Sara Pennypacker -- #2 in the series, audiobook. Third graders are harder for a kindergartener to relate to than second graders like Ivy + Bean.

In progress:

Way of Choices, Mao Ni -- Completion of the translation was a good signal that it was time to return, so I'm bounding along again. It really is the best-written (and most interesting) xianxia I've read, with several compelling characters and conflicts. The perils are not just those faced in battle. One thing that strikes me: many long-running xianxia/xuanhuan novels raise the stakes by expanding the stage spatially, but here the author does it by peeling back layers of history, both recent and deep, thus revealing more contexts and schemes -- and when a climax comes, it can roll up a whole lotta those tensions over a strikingly large episode. At 661 out of 1183 chapters.

Pogo volume 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder, Walt Kelly -- A gift to myself in memory of a childhood spent consuming my parents' collections. This covers the first two years of the syndicated newspaper strips, so Kelly is still honing his material and technique, with the political satire still to come -- but it's still wonderful to revisit. I have volume 2 waiting for after I slowly work my way through this one. Am a little less than halfway through, having read the first year of daily strips (but not the separate Sunday strips).

On hold:

Chongfei Manual, Feng He You Yue -- Paused at chapter 91 from the reservations noted in my previous update plus returning to Way of Choices.

Plus poetry from various anthologies, mostly in bed as I wind down.


Subject quote from We Have Met the Maestro, and He Is Walt Kelly, Benito Cereno.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/697935.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


... a place for posting bits of fluff caught in my filters. Warning: I list "very bad poetry" among my interests.

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