larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
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)
larryhammer: pen-and-ink drawing of an annoyed woman dressed as a Heian-era male courtier saying "......" (dot dot dot)
Every time I read The Lorax, I want to take a blue pencil to the opening pages.
larryhammer: topless woman lying prone with Sappho painted on her back, label: "Greek poetry is sexy" (classics)
For Poetry Monday, an acknowledgement that Elizabethan sonnet sequences weren't all about the mens:

Sonnet 19 from Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, Mary Wroth

Come darkest Night, becoming sorrow best,
    Light leave thy light, fit for a lightsome soul:
    Darkness doth truly suit with me oppressed,
    Whom absence power doth from mirth control.

The very trees with hanging heads condole
    Sweet Summer's parting, and of leaves distressed,
    In dying colours make a grief-full role;
    So much (alas) to sorrow are they pressed.

Thus of dead leaves, her farewell carpets made,
    Their fall, their branches, all their mournings prove,
    With leafless naked bodies, whose hues fade
    From hopeful green to wither in their love.

If trees, and leaves for absence mourners be,
No marvel that I grieve, who like want see.

Lady Mary Wroth was Philip Sidney's niece, and author of a prose romance and scandalous roman à clef, The Countess of Montgomery's Urania -- to which this sequence was appended, in the persona of the heroine writing to and about the feckless hero (some of the sonnets from it also appeared diegetically in the text).

---L.

Subject quote from "Westminster Abbey: October 12, 1892," Thomas Henry Huxley.
larryhammer: a wisp of colored smoke, label: "softly and suddenly vanished away" (disappeared)
For Poetry Monday, another sample from an Elizabethan sonnet cycle:

Sonnet 61 from Idea, Michael Drayton

Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part.
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me;
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies;
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes—
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
From death to life thou might’st him yet recover!

(See also this performance.)

Drayton was possibly the best of the second-tier Elizabethan/Jacobean poets, a thoroughly professional writer who turned his hand at every poetic genre of the day, handling all of them with solid craft and a deft ear. He spent most of his life working as secretary to various patrons, never especially high ranking ones.

What I especially like about Idea, especially in its final form (Drayton revised it extensively over 25 years, and this sonnet first appeared in the last edition), is that he rarely loses sight of the ostensible purpose of the sequence -- namely, to seduce, and most of its sonnets are acts of rhetoric trying to convince someone of something: his beloved, himself, his audience. This gives the poems a dramatic tension that's lacking in far too many of his contemporaries. I wouldn't want him as my lover, not acting like this, but it makes for damn fine poetry.

---L.

Subject quote from "Break It Down Again," Tears for Fears.
larryhammer: drawing of a wildhaired figure dancing, label: "La!" (la!)
A random heap of fluffy links:

BuzzFeed brings us 99 Very Important Animal Tweets Of 2017. (via)

A new wikitimesink: Wikipedia: The Text Adventure. I'm amused that one of the potted starting points is Hallgrímskirkja. I'm also amused that you can examine and take objects, such as large Icelandic churches. (via)

A cat-purring simulator for stress reduction. You can set parameters for mood, purring style, and how much meowing. Excellent. (via)

---L.

Subject quote from "Remonstrance with the Snails," Anonymous.
larryhammer: yellow origami butterfly (origami)
Realization while talking with [personal profile] branna: I've been folding origami for 40 years. My usual personal marker for no longer being a youngster is my time online (35 years, starting with dial-up BBSs) but this is an even longer measure. And in its way more impressive.

Since, however significant this may be to me, that's not enough to make a post, here's a couple recent results of all that practice:

Three-headed dragon

Folded from a 10" (25cm) square, no cuts: three long necks with dragon heads, four legs, wings, and a tail. This was something like the 5th or 6th time I've made this model, and despite it being several years since the last one, it was not the technical challenge I remembered -- just long and complicated. Huh.

The apatosaurus was a very small dinosaur

A tiny apatosaurus* folded from 3" (7.5cm) paper from memory, by way of stretching myself. I can hold about a dozen models in my head at any given time, and this is the most complicated one I've ever memorized. With TBD old enough I don't have to pocket a tissue pack everywhere I go, I now carry small folding papers. I managed this model without resorting to a toothpick or the like, for working the smaller folds. And then repeated the feat in light green (not shown).

---L.

* AKA the Artist Formerly Known As Brontosaurus.

Subject quote from "Let's Go Crazy," Prince.
larryhammer: a woman wearing a chain mail hoodie, label: "chain mail is sexy" (chain mail is sexy)
Reading Wednesday meme-thingy:

Finished:

Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner, which I quite enjoyed. It was nice to read such a linear narrative in this world -- all the complications are below the surface, instead of in your face. Also nice to see another first-person narrative, this one from someone trying (if not always succeeding) at being honest about what was happening. And yes, there are gods interfering in this one.

Lhind the Thief by Sherwood Smith -- finally getting to this. Good fantasy adventure fun, with some twists I didn't expect. I think there's a sequel? -- If so, I want.

Sasharia en Garde! by Sherwood Smith, being previously published in two volumes as Once a Princess and Twice a Prince but, like Crown Duel, now put back together into the single novel they were written as. Even better fantasy adventure fun, with initial primary POVs being daughter and mother (the latter with previous adult experience in this fantasy world) but expanding outward with the story.

Ongoing:

Various poetry bits, most of which I haven't noted down. Chinese in translation and Housman was involved, I remember that.

Up next:

A return to I Shall Seal the Heavens now that the translation is finally complete at 1614 chapters -- leaving me with 250-odd to go. Long xanxia novel is long. As I recall, I left off in the long, very drawn out battle between two confederations of worlds, one formerly overlords of the other, now larger one -- so a lot of bad colonial blood between them.

---L.

Subject quote from "'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came'," Robert Browning.
larryhammer: topless woman lying prone with Sappho painted on her back, label: "Greek poetry is sexy" (greek poetry is sexy)
For Poetry Monday, continuing the (non)argument of Wyatt and Gascoigne, a pome from Astrophil and Stella:


Sonnet 31, Philip Sidney

With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies!
How silently, and with how wan a face!
What, may it be that even in heav'nly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries!

Sure, if that long-with-love-acquainted eyes
Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's case,
I read it in thy looks; thy languish'd grace
To me, that feel the like, thy state descries.

Then, ev'n of fellowship, O Moon, tell me,
Is constant love deem'd there but want of wit?
Are beauties there as proud as here they be?

Do they above love to be lov'd, and yet
Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess?
Do they call virtue there ungratefulness?


See also sonnet 39. Sir Philip was the Elizabethan courtier par excellence, in the opinion of his contemporaries, and a damn fine writer. Astrophil and Stella is not actually the first sonnet sequence in English, but it was the first Petrarchan one -- and it sparked a fad for them, including Shakespeare's famous, incomplete one. It's also, IMNSHO, the best of the Elizabethan sonnet cycles, as it tells a complete, dramatic story, and including drama is something that only Drayton also managed. Note that Sidney is not actually a practicing Petrarchan lover -- he spends a lot of time arguing against several of the conventions, even while embracing the genre.

---L.

Subject quote from "Passing Afternoon," Iron & Wine.
larryhammer: drawing of a wildhaired figure dancing, label: "La!" (celebrate)
How a wildfire kicked up a 45,000-foot column of flames. (via)

The quest to return flavor to supermarket tomatoes. Until this year, my father always grew fresh tomatoes in the garden, often heritage varieties. I never, ever eat supermarket tomatoes. They are yuck. (Except some heritage cherry tomatoes.) (via)

"Something had to go to make room for the [sea] turtles." Namely, giant aquatic sloths. Yes, really. Yes, and a whole bunch of other marine megafauna. But: giant aquatic sloths. (via)

---L.

Subject quote from "The Hunting of the Snark," Lewis Carroll.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
TBD is four years + two months old.

Achievements unlocked this last month: "Are we home yet?", starting pre-kindergarten, tape dispensers, roller skates, washing and rinsing a small dish, putting on a backpack, opening and closing (mostly) an umbrella, recognizable drawing of a cat.

(Lots of fine motor skills there, innit? Hadn't noticed till I pulled this together.)

The past two/three months, there has been a notable ... increase in cohesion is the best word I can find, in both mental and emotional levels. And in carriage. The effect is that it feels like we have here a small person, instead of a tall preschooler. It's startling.

Some ways this shows: Travel is so much easier with a four-year-old than three-and-a-half. TBD is willing to run off, away from us, in company of friends -- among other signs of growing independence.

TBD's pre-K teacher is actively working her kids on the motor skills for writing, starting with straight lines. (Capital A is recognizable more often than not, but not other letters yet.) When coloring, TBD now works on scribbling over an entire figure -- now, finally, not worrying about going over the lines, but rather trying to fill in the area within regardless. Drawings are starting to get more of a recognizable schematic of what's intended.

Media: as soon as discovered, Blue's Clues immediately went into high circulation for the day's screen time. (Dora the Explorer also liked, alas.) Still also watching Chuggington, which is indeed better than Thomas and Friends. More and more library checkouts are superhero early readers. ETA: Dinosaur Train is also popular; saying "Da, duh, DUMMM!" dramatically after identifying something as a mystery or a clue has become a household trope.

The principles of rhyming (and other sound effects) have been internalized, and are being used creatively -- including in improvised songs, as well as noting when rhymes being used. Pronunciation is smoothing out still more, with /th/ -> /f/ still an issue, unless trying to speak especially clearly.

And then there's the talking, talking bits. Didn't get as much down this month as usual:

(after listing several career aspirations)
Janni: "You want to be a lot of things."
TDB: "But I don't have enough arms!"

(points at Wonder Woman in a picture with Superman and Batman)
"Why is she naked a little bit?"

"Do orange and morange rhyme?"
"They do."
"But $adultfriend said nothing rhymes with orange."


Uh, you got us there, kid. As you will, no doubt, continue to.

---L.

Subject quote from an improvised parody of "Great Big Stars".
larryhammer: a wisp of colored smoke, label: "softly and suddenly vanished away" (endings)
For a Poetry Monday, something that really isn't a response to last week's Wyatt, but I mentally link them together anyway:

“And if I did, what then?” George Gascoigne

    “And if I did, what then?
Are you aggriev’d therefore?
The sea hath fish for every man,
And what would you have more?”

    Thus did my mistress once,
Amaze my mind with doubt;
And popp’d a question for the nonce
To beat my brains about.

    Whereto I thus replied:
“Each fisherman can wish
That all the seas at every tide
Were his alone to fish.

    “And so did I (in vain)
But since it may not be,
Let such fish there as find the gain,
And leave the loss for me.

    “And with such luck and loss
I will content myself,
Till tides of turning time may toss
Such fishers on the shelf.

    “And when they stick on sands,
That every man may see,
Then will I laugh and clap my hands,
As they do now at me.”

Gascoigne was many things over his life, including soldier of fortune, courtier, member of parliament, and playwright. He was also the premier English poet of the 1570s, though his reputation has been completely overshadowed by Spenser's arrival on the scene a few years after his death. This is the final poem of The Adventures of Master F. J., a sort-of-novel-shaped thing of mixed prose and verse, with a layer of epistolary indirection, about a love affair that goes very wrong. It's an odd beast, but I don't regret having read it (many years ago), and I especially don't regret several of its poems. (BTW, in the narrative the speaker was, as per the second stanza, nonplussed by his mistress, and walked home before writing down this response.)

---L.

Subject quote from "Farmer Refuted," Lin-Manuel Miranda.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
As usual, three links make a post:

This is What Happens When You Teach an AI to Name Guinea Pigs. (via)

In Japan, robot battles often take place in small sumo rings and are incredibly fast -- these videos are real-time. (via)

Woodswimmer: stop-motion animation of successive cross-sections of wood. "There's a lot going on inside wood." (via)

---L.

Subject quote from 'Pogo," Walt Kelly.
larryhammer: a wisp of colored smoke, label: "softly and suddenly vanished away" (vanished)
For a Poetry Monday, let's reach back half a millennium for a poem, shall we? We shall:


"They flee from me that sometime did me seek," Sir Thomas Wyatt

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
    With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
    That now are wild and do not remember
    That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.

Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
    Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
    When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
    And she me caught in her arms long and small;
Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
And softly said, “Dear heart, how like you this?”

It was no dream: I lay broad waking.
    But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
    And I have leave to go of her goodness,
    And she also, to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindly am served
I would fain know what she hath deserved.


Plus ça change, and all that. Wyatt was a diplomat for Henry VIII (including the embassy to the Pope asking for annulment from Catherine of Aragorn), and he brought back to England the continental manner in Renaissance poetry -- he wrote the first sonnets in English as imitations of Petrarch, whom he also translated, and he was constantly experimenting with style and form in his lyrics. (Though, interestingly, that "newfangleness" is straight out of Chaucer, meaning fickleness.) Of course, being a courtier in Henry's court was dangerous: he was imprisoned in the Tower of London on suspicion of having an affair with Anne Boleyn and was freed only after her execution, which he witnessed and wrote about.

---l.

Subject quote from "The End of the Play," William Makepeace Thackeray.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
Sometimes, all you come up with is random links:

A selection of photos from this year's Red Bull Illume Image Quest photo competition. Full-screen this one. (via)

New Study Bolsters the Lead-Crime Hypothesis. (via)

It's been a long time since I've played Words with One Beat, so I'll just link this and say no more: History of the United States in Words of One Syllable by Helen Pierson.

---L.

Subject quote from "Ever let the Fancy roam," John Keats.
larryhammer: drawing of a wildhaired figure dancing, label: "La!" (la!)
It is easy to do so, but please do not confuse Lawrence Alma-Tadema with Laurence Alma-Tadema. The former is the painter (birth name: Lourens) and the latter is the poet (birth name: Laurense).

Note that they are indeed related, being father and daughter. The names changed when the family moved from Belgium to England.



Painting of Laurence (behind her sister Anna) by Lawrence.

This public service announcement is brought to you by me (birth name: Laurence) finally figuring this out ...

---L.

Subject quote from "somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond," E.E. Cummings.
larryhammer: topless woman lying prone with Sappho painted on her back, label: "Greek poetry is sexy" (greek poetry is sexy)
Reading Wednesday is ON baby. For there's been some reading, despite it all.

Finished:

Safely You Deliver (Commonweal #3) by Graydon Saunders -- this is NOT the book to start the series, as it is the second half of the story started in A Succession of Bad Days and heavily relies on knowing those characters, with the addition of a new one left unexplained for a long time -- and who despite being an extremely interesting idea, is basically kept mute the entire book. The expansion to multiple first-person POVs also dilutes the narrative line. That said, this does a good job poking at some of the moral underpinnings and consequences of the world Saunders created. And, yanno, sourcerer/unicorn romance is nothing to sneer at, especially when the unicorn is an obligate magicvore.

Reynard the Fox: or, the Ghost Heath Run by John Masefield, which remains my favorite of his narrative poems, despite the long, Chaucerian introduction of all the people hunting the titular fox -- a very pretty gallery of portraits, but less than a handful are actually relevant to the story. (Relevant to the depiction of one strand of English country life already fading at the time, sure.) The best part is the second half, mostly from the fox's point of view -- and you don't lose much just starting there. I note only excerpts from the chase get included in anthologies of narrative verse.

Amours de Voyage by Arthur Hugh Clough, which remains my favorite of his poems, period. Yes, it's an anatomy of a failure of … dunno whether to describe it as "will" or "character." A failed romance, and there's more than a little class conflict in the mix. Claude's hesitations, this time through, remind me more than a little of Trollope's stock hobbledehoy character, only in an intellectual version. Sort of. Maybe. Ah, whatever. I still like the poem.

In progress:

The Earthly Paradise by William Morris, starting with rereading "Prologue: The Wanderers" -- which has to be the most insistently middle-aged work I've read in a long time, for all the wanderers are described as "old" -- and the frame narrative & plot summaries up to where I last broke off (the very long Laxdaela retelling), with attention to reactions to both stories and seasons. This is not a simple poem, and when the frame narrator calls himself "an idle singer of an idle day" he is not being an escapist Victorian but -- sarcastic is the best word I can think of, as ironic doesn't have enough bite. And dang, but so many reviewers and critics have missed this. If only Morris wasn't so strenuously heteronormative and gender essentialist. (No, Mr. Morris, if a young woman does not want marriage at this time thank you very much, the answer isn't always because sexual hostility.) (Thank all the gods he didn't try his hand at Calisto.)

Erotic Poems ed. by Peter Washington, another small format Everyman anthology -- and another reread. I admire how the editor was willing to spend 20-odd pages on "The Eve of St. Agnes" -- that's a lot of space for a book this size. NB: no porn, but a lot of sensuality and some explicit descriptions. Organization is not topical, nor is there a plot/relationship arc -- this is a mixed jumble of poems, associatively (and sometimes cunningly) placed. Am about ⅔ through, having been interrupted by:

Thick as Thieves (Queen's Thief #5) by Megan Whalen Turner, yays. This one is from the POV of the slave secretary of the Mede who made a play for the throne of Attolis in #2, dealing with some delayed, dire consequences of his master's failure. I find it interesting that he is refusing to name his traveling companion, Costis (from #3), and I'm looking forward to learning how the heck Gen is chessmastering this whole adventure from across the sea. A little more than halfway in.

---L.

Subject quote from "The Walker of the Snow," Charles Dawson Shanly.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
Three great posts from Jason Kottke:

The 100 best solutions to reverse climate change, ranked.

Michael Lewis and the parable of the lucky man taking the extra cookie.

Systemic racism in America explained in just three minutes.

---L.

Subject quote from "Shout," Tears for Fears, which is about political protest not primal scream therapy yes if i could change your mind i'd really like to break your heart.
larryhammer: canyon landscape with saguaro and mesquite trees (desert)
For Poetry Monday, because the dragon of summer has arrived in the desert, something from up north:


How One Winter Came in the Lake Region, William Wilfred Campbell

For weeks and weeks the autumn world stood still,
        Clothed in the shadow of a smoky haze;
The fields were dead, the wind had lost its will,
And all the lands were hushed by wood and hill,
        In those grey, withered days.

Behind a mist the blear sun rose and set,
        At night the moon would nestle in a cloud;
The fisherman, a ghost, did cast his net;
The lake its shores forgot to chafe and fret,
        And hushed its caverns loud.

Far in the smoky woods the birds were mute,
        Save that from blackened tree a jay would scream,
Or far in swamps the lizard's lonesome lute
Would pipe in thirst, or by some gnarlèd root
        The tree-toad trilled his dream.

From day to day still hushed the season's mood,
        The streams stayed in their runnels shrunk and dry;
Suns rose aghast by wave and shore and wood,
And all the world, with ominous silence, stood
        In weird expectancy:

When one strange night the sun like blood went down,
        Flooding the heavens in a ruddy hue;
Red grew the lake, the sere fields parched and brown,
Red grew the marshes where the creeks stole down,
        But never a wind-breath blew.

That night I felt the winter in my veins,
        A joyous tremor of the icy glow;
And woke to hear the north's wild vibrant strains,
While far and wide, by withered woods and plains,
        Fast fell the driving snow.


Campbell (c.1860-1918) was born in Ontario, attended a seminary in Massachusetts, and was an Episcopal rector in New Hampshire and New Brunswick until he gave up the ministry in his mid-30s to become a civil servant and man of letters in Ottawa. He initially made his name as a nature poet, but aged into a poet of (diffuse) spirituality and (British) imperialism -- in short, he was very much a conservative late Victorian. This is one of his best-known poems.

---L.

Subject quote from "Dance Apocalyptic," Janelle Monáe.

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