***With thanks to Ursula Vernon for a most magic moment: see under the cut***
Once upon a time (or indeed once upon another time, if that suits you better: there’s always more time lying around), in the lounge bar of a pub in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland, a redheaded woman is kissing a pig.
Not just any woman, granted. And definitely not just any Pig.
In any case, none of this is as difficult as it might sound on first hearing, as the Pig is both graceful and light on his feet, and good at displacing his own mass in such a way as not to wreck the barstool on which he’s perched. Nor (from the redhead’s side of things) is this particularly an unpleasant experience, as the Pig’s facial bristles are on the soft side, and due to being fairly silvery to start with, almost invisible anyway — as if he’s wearing a very subtle and discreet version of designer stubble, with a slight glitter about it.
“Chao, bello.” It is of course a pun, a terrible one. “Mwah. Mwah.”
The redhead gets a third “Mwah” from the pig, then straightens up and looks at him quizzically. “Three? What, are we in Switzerland all of a sudden? Or no, of course you are. By definition.”
“And why not? Besides, a three for one deal, I’d think you’d be in favor. Value for money. Very Swiss. Anyway, I hear you’re planning to be crying on the bar up there shortly…” He grins.
“Oh, don’t you start tormenting me now! I can get that at home.” She rolls her eyes. “Yet another way for the BBC to break my heart, who needed that…? Come on, get yourself settled.”
No one in the bar shows the slightest sign of having noticed a redhead kissing the Pig hello a la Suisse, or the two of them settling in their respective seats. This is partly because all this is happening in the woman’s head, but also partly because this is one of her locals. And even if they could see what was going on, the neighbors (who’re by now well used to seeing this particular redhead with a red wine and a mineral water and a netbook and an iPad and a notebook on the bar in front of her, working on them all at once) would never be caught actually remarking on whatever she’s up to this time. At least not until she’s left.
“What’s your pleasure? They’ve got Ballygowan if you’re on the clock.”
“You kidding? I’ve been on the clock since the local Big Bang, and no one cares when I punch out. Or is qualified to judge what I’m doing, whether I have or not. If you’re buying I’ll have a Remy, thankyouverymuch.”
The dark-haired assistant manager, Louise, comes around and takes their orders without batting an eye. (And why would this be a surprise when you think how many jokes start with “A(n) [x] walks into a bar…”? They get all kinds around here; any place that routinely deals with Wicklow bachelor farmers has no problems with the occasional Yank-Irish woman or silvery-pink Pig.) Shortly the redhead has a fresh glass of a Spanish-bred Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Pig has an oversized snifter of XO, and they are clinking glasses.
“Mud in your eye.”
“Like there’s any on you. Ne’gakh emeirsith.”
They sip and settle back into the calm atmosphere. Halloween isn’t for another two weeks and change, but the decorations are up already: people here like Halloween, and in any case there’s not the inevitable groaning that comes with the appurtenances of Christmas (especially the TV ads) starting too fecking soon. The place is calmly busy, half-full with a subset of the place’s normal afternoon clientele — in the recently-redone front bar, guys who have bets on races or the football are escaping home life till teatime; here in the lounge to the rear, ladies and gents are cozied away in the U-shaped banquette booths, having tea or drinks and taking a break from the shopping with the kids in tow. Some of the smallest of the tinies are thundering up and down past the far wall in the enclosed play area.
The most important thing the pub has, besides a comfortable atmosphere and genial staff who know the redhead and her husband of old, and a good restaurant and lunch buffet, is working wi-fi—which the redhead has been exploiting for some time now to turn this general area into one of several Away Offices. Now, though, she shuts down the laptop and the Pad and silences the phone and takes a few other precautions against being interrupted. “Thought we’d have been having this conversation a bit earlier,” the Pig remarks, gazing around.
“Nope, we’re right on time.” She finishes putting the last of the various devices to sleep. “You know the guidelines. If you’re going to self-insert, don’t be shy about it, don’t let yourself off easy, and pay attention to the symmetry. Right at the beginning, right at the end, or smack dab in the middle.”
“Or all three.”
“Can’t have a resonance with just one thing, can you? You need two, minimum. But three’s a chord.”
“So tell me something I don’t know.”
She chuckles. “Bit of a stretch, that…”
“Well, I may be omnipresent, but that doesn’t necessarily make me omniscient.”
On the face of it, this is true, but the redhead suspects that the Transcendent Pig—due to his unique uncreated status—has certain positional advantages he doesn’t routinely reveal or discuss. Fine: so does she. “Let’s not play semantics games just now,” she said. “Got other business.”
“I assumed so. What’s on your mind?”
“Well… You know what I’ve been up to.”
“It’s more or less unavoidable. You mean the OTP thing.”
“Well… The spooning.”( Read more...Collapse )
- Current Mood: amused
Hi Diane, I’ve been a fan for a long time. Read the YW books, Wounded Sky, and eventually the Door Into… books staring when I was a kid back in the 80s. Someday I’ll take a picture of the Hello Kitty notebook I owned circa 1984 where I wrote both Ed the shark’s name and Sherlock Holmes’ name surrounded by hearts. I was totally willing to marry either one of them. ;D
Anyway, when I started looking for more Sherlock stories after the BBC show premiered I got into reading fanfic, and eventually the amazing art on Tumblr. It was great to see someone whose books I’d always loved was right in there as a fan too.
Reading someone’s tags today, I noticed the latest example of something that makes my heart hurt a little every time I see it. The art (it was a short Sherlock comic strip) was great! Well laid out, engagingly drawn, funny, entertaining, etc. But the artist’s tags were all about how terrible it was. How she couldn’t write, how she couldn’t draw, etc. I know how hard it is to put your work (of any kind) out there and just let it speak for itself, but the prevalence of young girls making something amazing and then sharing it by saying “here’s this thing I did. It’s probably terrible,” just kills me. I can’t count how many posts I’ve seen people tag or comment that their art or they themselves are “trash”. I mean, I get that they’re self deprecating for comic effect, but…
I don’t know. Maybe learning to not put down your work before someone else gets a chance to is just something that has to be grown out of, but I also wonder if more of us older women should be saying something. I’d love to see girls say “here’s this thing I made [full stop]” if it still seems too hard to say “here’s this thing I made; I’m proud of it.” Just not tearing themselves down would make a world of difference, I think.
I guess I’m just curious if you have any thoughts to add. Thanks again for writing such enjoyable stories and building such cool worlds! May you live long and prosper.
First of all: thanks for the nice words. It's always nice to know I'm getting the job done.
Re the self-esteem problem as regards talking about one's work: I see a lot of this from girl creators too. (Yet also from the boys, until they gradually knuckle under or get pushed under the surface of the whole patriarchal never-say-anything-that-might-make-you-s
Part of the problem is that the creation of art (or indeed anything else useful) is unnerving business, because you're essentially making the invisible visible: making something out of nothing -- and even that phrase is culturally loaded. ("Don't make something out of nothing!": a classic putdown for overreaction.) Yet making Something out of Nothing is also, as it happens, what Gods do. (The classic western-culture version of this: Deity moves over the surface of the empty void, says, "Hmm. Light..." and bang! Light.)
So creation routinely frightens those who who do it -- because the actual process of mastery of art takes a long time, and in the meanwhile you may frequently feel like you're riding the tiger, only half in control, while your grip on the tiger's ears is always threatening to slip. And creation frightens more badly those who don't do it (not that you'll ever easily get them to admit that), because they see you making Something out of Nothing and that's not normal. Everybody gets a little freaked as a result, and it's probably no surprise that the responses to the act of creation by both creators and spectators can get skewed -- reactions based on fear not routinely being the healthiest ones.
(Adding a cut here, since more discussion and a brief how-to course in auctorial esteem lies below. Also, "pieces of shit"...)
( Read more...Collapse )
Kim and her band of usual suspects were the concoms for the UFP series of Star Trek conventions in the UK, some of the best organised, smoothest-running and most fun cons we’ve ever attended.UFPCon 1986 was the one where Peter and I met up for the third time. Not happenstance, not coincidence, certainly not enemy action; it was third time pays for all, but even then we were so very quiet and subtle that when we finally revealed our secret engagement…
…Kimmie, Ros and Ali already had champagne waiting on ice!Kim visited us in Ireland, travelled with us to see a solar eclipse in Germany, met up with us unexpectedly in LA, and introduced us to amazing people. She was one of the most extraordinary people you could hope to meet -- warm-hearted yet businesslike, kindly yet efficient, humorous yet hard-nosed, all wrapped up in one loveable, huggable package. In particular I remember one trip she and I took to Bern together, where we went shopping, ate out, caused the staff at the hotel where we were staying to mistake us for "such a nice pair of gay ladies" (I overheard them...), and generally acted like crazed teenagers pretending to be grownups. It was the Best Girls Trip Out Ever.
Kimmie died on the 11th of May 2014, from complications of the diabetes she bore and fought so gallantly. It would have been her birthday on the 31st of May. Instead her funeral is today, the 6th of June, and we can’t even be there.Our friend Sarah made this piece of art, which we share with you all: the dedication plate of a happy ship on which we’d proudly serve
We miss you, Kimmie, but you’re not really gone.What’s loved, lives.
- Current Mood: sad
- Current Mood:delighted
Ginger nuts are a favorite store-bought biscuit in most parts of the UK and Ireland, but homemade ones are way better. And somehow or other I seem to have made these three times in the last week and a bit, so I think I’ve acquired some expertise.
If you want to make some holiday-ish biscuits/cookies that aren’t a lot of trouble, especially for gifts, these are an excellent bet. They're crisp and flavorful and very more-ish. They’re also a good sort of bikkie to make if you want to let children or those who are normally a little baking-challenged assist (meaning it’s the kind of thing you can do sitting around the table with a bunch of adults and a bottle of wine, gossiping while you do the slightly repetitive work of getting them ready to bake).
Making the dough takes twenty minutes or a bit more, depending on how long you spend creaming the sugar and butter and flour together. After that it’s just a matter of how quickly you feel like assembling each baking sheet’s worth of cookies / biscuits. The dough refrigerates nicely for short periods, but because ginger nuts are raised only with baking soda / bicarbonate of soda, I wouldn’t keep the dough unbaked for more than 4-6 hours. The recipe makes between four and five dozen gingernuts, depending on how large you roll the pieces. Recipe and method under the cut.( Read more...Collapse )
You know the place. It's where deities and divinities and avatars go when they've clocked off and they need a casual after-work pint or a quick remedial stiff one or some casual conversation with their peers before going home to the family.
So Christ is sitting there nursing a nice Pinot Grigio (he gets so tired of red wine, you have no idea) and he's saying to the gods and near-gods at the bar with him, "You know what really gets to me, though? The tat. The kitsch. The dashboard ornaments, the endless dodgy art -- "
"I saw that doll," says somebody down the bar past Mithras and Izanagi: a god with his hood pulled up and a long cloak that looks and flows like shadow. "With the puffy sleeves and the crown."
"The Infant of Prague, yeah. Take my advice, do not do apparitions after hours in Prague, it's something about the beer they brew there, what those people will do to you after the fact just does not bear considering. But you know what's worst? The 'Sacred Heart.'" He actually does the air quotes, which leave little traces of (appropriately) red fire. "On the front of me, outside my clothes, like I've had some kind of bass-ackwards transplant. Usually with rays of light coming out of it. Aorta and vena cava and wobbly bits all aglow. There is nothing that does not appear on. Lunch boxes. Key chains. Night lights, do you believe that? How many kids' nights have been ruined by having that thing glowing at them like a refugee from a Bill Cosby skit? You should see some of the stores at CafePress. I'm amazed they haven't done My Sacred Spleen yet. Except probably none of them can figure out where it would go." He rolls his eyes. "I have it way worse than any of you."
Mutterings of agreement run up and down the bar. Then a voice speaks up.
"I got that beat."( Read more...Collapse )
- Current Mood:bemused
Sometimes Nita wishes she could just open her eyes in the morning and be ready to leap right out of the bed and get on with stuff. Unfortunately, life doesn’t seem to have arranged itself for her that way.
She lies there this morning, staring at the ceiling, and wishes it again. What I need is something like in that Wallace and Gromit movie, she thinks. Where somebody pulls a lever and dumps you into your clothes and automates your putting-yourself-together and your breakfast.
She yawns and rubs the early-morning gunk out of her eyes (why is there always so much of this gunk?). She knew it had to do with eye fatigue. Hilary the optometrist had told her so once, back in the ancient day—back when her folks were concerned enough to take her to an eye specialist because all of a sudden she didn’t need her glasses any more. Though it had always been a given that Nita’s astigmatism was of the kind that would clear up eventually by itself, having it happen so quickly—and take the nearsightedness with it—had freaked her mom and dad out. And unfortunately Nita wasn’t yet out to her parents as a wizard, and so couldn’t explain that she had slowly and carefully been talking her own eyeballs into changing their shape so that her eyes’ inner focus points would fall on the right place on her retinas.( Read more...Collapse )
- Current Location:Ireland
- Current Mood:busy
The good news is that the Martians seem friendly. The bad news is that now they're free to pick up where they left off on a long-dormant plan that could change the shape of more than one world… and they don't mind using their well-intentioned rescuers to achieve their goals. Kit’s long-standing fascination with all things Martian unexpectedly enmeshes him in a terrible, age-old conflict -- turning him into both a possible key to its solution, and a tool that in the wrong hands shortly threatens the whole human race.Only Kit has a shot at defusing the threat. But when he vanishes unexpectedly from the Mars of here and now, his fellow wizards are left uncertain of where his true loyalties lie. Nita’s determination to find the truth – and Kit – soon sends her into battle against an implacable enemy who may not be conquerable except by violating wizardry’s most basic tenets. As the shadow of interplanetary war stretches ever more darkly over both worlds, Kit and Nita must fight to understand and master the strange and ancient synergy binding them to Mars and its last inhabitants… or the history that left Mars lifeless will repeat itself on Earth... Now at the online store at Ebooks Direct
- Current Mood: cheerful
This came out of a query over on Tumblr, and it occurred that it might be useful to post it here as well for anyone who's interested.
Hey! I'm a big fan of the Young Wizards series, and was thinking about the mythology included in A Wizard Abroad. You seem to know it very well, and I was wondering if you could recommend any reading for someone who'd like to learn about it? Thanks!
I know it well since I started studying it (along with other mythologies from all over) when I was ten. But here’s what our present Irish-myths-&-legends shelf looks like:
— This is quite basic stuff. If I needed anything really complex, rare or obscure, I’d check the online catalog for the library at Trinity College (which is one of Ireland’s legal deposit / depository libraries and has copies of every important book published here in the last couple of centuries, along with many much older ones), or the National Library of Ireland (ditto).
The listing of the above: (NB: I’m excluding the relatively modern fiction [the Stephens] and the Welsh, Scots and Orkney material from the list to keep things clear.)
LEGENDS AND TALES OF IRELAND, Samuel Lover and Thomas Crofton Croker
MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF THE CELTIC RACE, T. W. Rolleston
OXFORD COMPANION TO IRISH HISTORY, S. J. Connolly (not a book on legends, but provides context)
THE IRISH FAIRY BOOK, Alfred Percival Graves
CELTIC FAIRY TALES, Joseph Jacobs
GODS AND FIGHTING MEN, Lady Gregory*
VISIONS AND BELIEFS IN THE WEST OF IRELAND, Lady Gregory*
CUCHULAIN OF MUIRTHEMNE, Lady Gregory*
IRISH SAGAS AND FOLK TALES, Eileen O’Faolain
…As I said, this is a goodish basic library. There are of course hundreds if not thousands of books on Irish folklore out there, some of them excellent and some of them pretty worthless. The only way to find out which is which is to get a basic grounding in the subject and then start feeling your way forward.
*These three were published by Colin Smythe, who besides being Terry Pratchett’s publisher and agent, is also an Irish scholar of considerable repute.
- Current Mood: chipper