larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
2025-12-31 10:00 am

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)
larryhammer: a wisp of colored smoke, label: "softly and suddenly vanished away" (endings)
2017-06-26 08:09 am

"don't modulate the key / then not debate with me"

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)
2017-06-22 01:43 pm

"How do you spell 'He blew up the Dnieper Dam'?" "I never do."

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)
2017-06-19 08:38 am

"Be this, good friends, our carol still:/Be peace on earth, be peace on earth/to men of gentle will"

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)
2017-06-16 08:27 am

"Open wide the mind's cage-door, / She'll dart forth, and cloudward soar"

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!)
2017-06-15 10:01 am

"the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses / nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands"

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: Tara from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" with Sappho painted on her back - label: "Greek poetry is sexy" (greek poetry is sexy)
2017-06-14 08:01 am

"the harp-twang of my snow-shoe / As it sprang beneath my tread"

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)
2017-06-13 07:52 am

"in violent times / you shouldn't have to sell your soul / in black and white"

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)
2017-06-12 10:13 am

"but i need to know / if the world says it's time to go / tell me will you break out?"

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.
larryhammer: pen-and-ink drawing of an annoyed woman dressed as a Heian-era male courtier saying "......" (dot dot dot)
2017-06-09 03:25 pm

"goodbye said so easily / goodbye said so quietly / goodbye, goodbye"

In the personal news department, I came back from vacation (a working one: helping my parents move) to learn my employer is shuttering this satellite office and my position is one of those being cut along the way. Which means job hunting time again. The gig's up at the end of next month, so it's not a desperation search yet, but still.

(Any tips as to tech writing jobs, preferably in Arizona or working remote, are appreciated. I also freelance as a copyeditor, proofreader, and ebook formatter, and referrals to potential gigs greatly appreciated. But mostly I'm posting this in a bid for sympathy.)

FWIW, travel with a four-year-old is so much easier than even three. I can now comprehend the trip around the world my family took when I was that age. Also: TBD still adores Grandpa.

---L.

Subject quote from "Goodbye (She Quietly Says)," Bob Gaudio & Jake Holmes.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (spirals)
2017-06-08 07:58 am

"the moment unveiled something unwilling to die / And I had what I most desired"

A question in the All Knowledge Is Contained On The Internet Somewhere Department:

Is there an equivalent to Lafcadio Hearn for China?

(Bonus points if they are as good a writer as Hearn.)

---L.

Subject quote from "The Ash Grove," Edward Thomas.
larryhammer: drawing of a wildhaired figure dancing, label: "La!" (dancing)
2017-06-05 10:02 pm

"the art of losing's not too hard to master / though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster."

Poetry Monday is ON baby.


The Waking, Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.


---L.
Subject quote from "One Art," Elizabeth Bishop.
larryhammer: drawing of a wildhaired figure dancing, label: "La!" (dancing)
2017-06-04 11:18 am

"loud hills shake with its mountain-mirth / As if they did rejoice o'er a young earthquake's birth"

Fractal, a timelapse of supercell thunderstorms with GORGEOUS lighting (and lightning). Bonus: music by Avro Pärt. (via)

An aurora called Steve. (via)

7 ways to maximize your misery. (via)

---L.

Subject quote from "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage," Canto iii, Byron.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
2017-06-01 09:06 am

"But I sat and heard / The night-hawks rip the air above my head / Till midnight"

Links content alert: hitting fish.

18 science facts we didn't know at the start of 2017. (via)

Narwhals use their tusks to hunt -- specifically, to tap and stun fish so they can eat them. (via previous link)

Bats argue a lot. (via)

And in conclusion: narwhals are codbonkers.

---L.

Subject quote from "The Wanderer," William Ellery Channing.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
2017-05-30 10:43 am

"through the guards in every blood fight/ after war, pass peace pipe/ ask forgiveness, cease rights"

TBD is four years + one month old.

Achievements unlocked this last month: counting before seeking in hide-and-seek, connect-the-dots pictures, a recognizable written A, recognizing own $realname by spelling out the letters, appreciation of fractured fairy tales, and funhouse mirrors. TBD is trying to figure out how rhymes work, and asking us if a given pair of words rhyme, but this is not down solid yet. It is a harder leap than I remember. Also, they've started remembering dreams and reporting details surreal enough ("I dreamed I was a white car") that we believe they were not invented.

Three emotion-related bits:

1. TBD has learned that soldiers fight and kill, and while they are supposed to fight only other soldiers, they also know that people do not always do what they are supposed to. That there is an air base on the edge of town and half the aircraft overhead are fighting planes also became clear at the same time. Nonetheless, a visit to the local Air and Space Museum, which is slanted towards military craft, was greatly enjoyed -- especially the space exploration exhibits.

2. While shopping for a Mother's Day gift, TBD remembered without prompting Janni's one-time comment several weeks before that she likes challenging jigsaw puzzles, and insisted on getting the biggest one we could find: 2000 pieces. That is, on own initiative picked out something they themselves didn't want. They did, in the end, find that many pieces overwhelming, but have been helping gamefully with small, localized subsets. Sometimes. (Sometimes, they do one of their own puzzles next to the big one. Or just whine for attention.)

3. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day has been the bedtime reading nine nights in a row now.

In physical skills, we now all use full-size dinner plates because, gasp, TBD sometimes wants more than one thing on it at a time, even at the risk of them getting mixed. Also, I'm needing less and less to echo statements/questions to make sure I've understood them correctly -- or at least, for pronunciation: when the sentence gets tangled up or has antecedents missing, I still need to try a clear version, to make sure I'm responding to the right thing.

Which of course leads into talking, talking:

"Daddy, you be on a march."
"What's this march about?"
"Planets."
"Is this against planets or supporting them?"
"Support."
"A march for planets. Got it."
"Go."

$friend: "When I shoot ice, you get frozen."
TBD: "When I shoot webs, you get stuck."
(playing superheroes)

"Hey Siri, why do some people died?"
(this was TBD's first question for Siri; it was followed up with "Why do some rocket ships have a lot of astronauts?")

"Who is is Lunchbox Squarepants?"

"What are Scooby-Dooby snacks?"
(followed shortly by "What was the earliest dinosaur?")

"What comes before 1?"
(followed two days later by "What comes before 0?" -- and explaining negative numbers is HARD. First try using a number line didn't take -- will try again soon.)

"We are the dentasaurs!"

"I'm a superhero."
"Well it's time for the superhero to go to bed."
"But I have to save the day!"


Needless to say, the superhero had to save another day.

---L.

Subject quote from "Show Me," Mint Royale.
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
2017-05-30 08:28 am

TBD is now old enough to appreciate fractured fairy tales

Once upon a time there were three little pigs who wanted to go out into the world and seek their fortunes. Their Mama said, "Oh no, wait till you are three big pigs -- THEN you can go seek your fortunes."

"But why, Mama?" said the first little pig.

"Well, for one thing," she told them, "there are big, bad wolves in this world."

"What do wolves do?" said the second little pig.

"Well, one thing they do is they huff and they puff and then blow your house down -- and then eat you up."

"Is that why our house is made of bricks?" said the third little pig.

"Exactly," their Mama said. "And why you have no uncles."

The three little pigs nodded, and stayed home practicing building houses until they were big pigs.
larryhammer: drawing of a wildhaired figure dancing, label: "La!" (wild hair)
2017-05-22 10:26 am

"the phone is ringing / there's an animal in trouble / there's an animal in trouble somewhere"

Poetry Monday:


Voice Mail Villanelle, Dan Skwire

We're grateful that you called today
And sorry that we're occupied.
We will be with you right away.

Press one if you would like to stay,
Press two if you cannot decide.
We're grateful that you called today.

Press three to end this brief delay,
Press four if you believe we've lied.
We will be with you right away.

Press five to hear some music play,
Press six to speak with someone snide.
We're grateful that you called today.

Press seven if your hair's turned gray,
Press eight if you've already died.
We will be with you right away.

Press nine to hear recordings say
That service is our greatest pride.
We're grateful that you've called today.
We will be with you right away.


I think we can all recognize this experience.

---L.

Subject quote from "Wonder Pets! Theme Song."