larryhammer: topless woman lying prone with Sappho painted on her back, label: "Greek poetry is sexy" (greek poetry is sexy)
For Poetry Monday, another something on the contemporary side:

The Villanelle is What?, John M. Ford

Enter Mr Jno. Ford (the Elizabethan one) as King Edward the Fourth

I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.
This monarch business makes a fellow hungry.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

What happened to the kippers left from breakfast?
Or maybe there's a bit of cold roast pheasant.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.

A civil war is such an awful bother.
We fought at Tewksbury and still ran out of mustard.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

Speak not to me of pasta marinara.
I know we laid in lots of boar last Tuesday.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.

The pantry seems entirely full of Woodvilles
And Clarence has drunk two-thirds of the cellar.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

If I ran England like I run that kitchen
You'd half expect somebody to usurp it.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

Think of this, possibly, as a pre-canon fic for Shakespeare's Richard III. It does explain, compellingly, some of the history of that confusing time. If the lack of rhymes in this otherwise strict villanelle bugs you, I refer you to the title.


Subject quote by Abraham Cowley after Anacreon.
larryhammer: text: "space/time OTP: because their love is everything" (space/time otp)
The Interactive Periodic Table describes how we use each element. (via)

Fossilized dinosaur feathers found in amber. Check out the size of the 'saur, too. (via)

Photos by Dorothea Lange documenting the process of interning Japanese Americans during WWII, which were censored until 2006. (via)


Subject quote from "A Song of You," Sara Hickman.
larryhammer: a symbol used in a traditional Iceland magic spell of protection (iceland)
“When you’re trying to change the world, sometimes the roof collapses,” [Pasternak] said. “It’s normal. It’s absolutely normal.”
As quoted in "Helium Dreams," a profile of modern airship builders.

Viking ships had woolen sails -- large woolen sails specially woven and treated, which required a lot of sheep. Without sheeps, no ships. (via)

Tiny origami on fingertips for scale. More, including "nano-origami" (spoiler: is really more milli-origami). (via)


Subject quote from "Calls from Springfield," Hillary Scott.
larryhammer: a woman wearing a chain mail hoodie, label: "chain mail is sexy" (chain mail is sexy)
It's Wednesday, and I'm actually awake enough to note what I've been reading since my last memepost.


Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon: A quick fantasy chapter-book with cartoon interludes and many laugh out loud moments. Am waiting for sequel (Attack of the Ninja Frogs) to come available from library.

Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer: Still not a good book, but if you go into it wearing your gothic romance goggles it works better than when you belatedly realize you needed them only after finishing. Not that it's particularly good at being a gothic romance, what with Heyere defanging most of the creepy tensions well before the climax, leaving social anxieties to power the last third of the story. At least the writing is good enough to make it readable.

The Magic of Recluse by L.E. Modesitt: Better-written than I expected (if not necessarily a better fantasy than expected). In fact, the manner reminds me a lot of Graydon Saunders, though any influences there may be would of course run the other direction. I liked it enough to want to read more Modesitt.

Speaking of which -- in progress:

The Magi'i of Cydor by Modesitt, which has prose that's nowhere near as crisp, dull pacing (three-quarters through, it's clear this is not a complete story but part 1), and worldbuilding that feels almost leaden -- the same few cultural details get trotted out everywhere. Which is especially odd for what essentially amounts to an origin-story installment, set earliest in the cycle. I may finish it anyway.

More of Life and Society in the Hittite World, to about 1/2.

Officially DNF:

Outlaws of the Marsh. Time to circle back to Dreams of Red Mansions. Or maybe more modern wuxia novels.

Plus I poked at the openings of a couple L. M. Montgomery books, none of which caught me.


Subject quote from Thebes," Seymour Green Wheeler Benjamin.
larryhammer: a woman wearing a chain mail hoodie, label: "chain mail is sexy" (chain mail is sexy)
Wednesday. Memeday for reading. And I even finished something:

A Succession of Bad Days by Graydon Saunders, the "egalatarian fantasy" sequel to The March North (read last year). Interesting how, given the first book is so thoroughly focused on the external conflicts that, until late in the story, the internal ones only show sideways through the narrator's details, here the focus is so tightly on the internal conflicts of a sorcerer-in-training who must, literally, remake himself or die (which means figuring out into who) that the external conflicts stay veiled until near the end. Picks up not long after the end of the first book, and assumes some knowledge of the characters and events but without clearly explaining much of it, so you may need to read The March North first? -- dunno. Highly enjoyable, especially if you like competence porn centered on civil engineering.

In progress:

Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer, one that I bounced off when I tried before. Mid-level Heyer, with many familiar elements and several characters who aren't as engaging as they might be (including, alas, the titular heroine). Am about 2/3 of the way through and amused by how many kidnapping plots are piling up.

Eon by Allison Goodman, another I once bounced off and am trying again. At the moment, I'm stalled halfway through. YA fantasy with a lot of elements I ought to like (including Chinese template for the fantasy world) but I can't help but compare the protagonist to Maia from The Goblin Emperor, to not good effect. Good chance of becoming DNF before it comes due at the library (especially if my hold on Ancillary Mercy comes up).

Life and Society in the Hittite World by Trevor Bryce, because Hittites. Am only about 1/3 through, mostly because I get to read it only during weekend naptimes, but enjoying it quite a bit, because Hittites. Recommended if "because Hittites" works for you.


Subject quote from "The Prophecy of Samuel Sewall," John Greenleaf Whittier.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
I wonder which of these links will get more clicks ...

All the photos from all the Apollo missions are online on Flickr. (via all over)

170,000 photographs from 1935-1945 taken by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information, including many of the iconic images of the Depression and the War, are also online. (via)

A photograph of ducklings wearing paper skirts. (via)


Subject quote from "Valentine for Ernest Mann, Naomi Shihab Nye.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
Okay, back to less weighty linkage:

Buzz Aldrin's expense reimbursement form for the Apollo XI mission. Spoiler: $33.31. (via)

The Electric Mayhem feat. Sam the Eagle covers "Jungle Boogie" (via)

The Great Sushi Craze of 1905. No, that date is not a misprint, though it is overly specific. (via)


Subject quote from "I Know What I Know," Paul Simon.
larryhammer: a symbol used in a traditional Iceland magic spell of protection (iceland)
More fun with the Cascadia subduction zone: "The Really Big One." "A grown man is knocked over by ankle-deep water moving at 6.7 miles an hour. The tsunami will be moving more than twice that fast when it arrives." (via)

For more pre-disaster worries, here's a long piece on confronting the New Madrid seismic zone: Part 1, Part 2. (via?)

Photo of Anandibai Joshi of India, Keiko Okami of Japan, and Sabat Islambouli of Syria while students at Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1885, before going on to become the first licensed female doctors in Western medicine in their respective countries. Make sure to click See More. (via)


Subject quote from "Never Look Away," Vienna Teng.
larryhammer: a symbol used in a traditional Iceland magic spell of protection (iceland)
Have I been meaning to swot up a post for days? Yes, yes I have. Have I finally managed to? Mmmaybe.

A blistering letter by a disgrunted customer from about 1750 CBE. I love cuneiform tablets, especially the letters. (I need to track down a rigorous citation to a letter, from about a century earlier than this, of a father telling his son No, I won't send more money because Kids These Days.) (via)

This video of the Himalayas from 20,000 ft. is a little frustrating -- the scenes cut too quickly, not letting the majestic scenery speak for itself. (via)

An entertaining and entirely helpful explanation of the (literally) incomprehensibly large Graham's number. Speaking of majestic. (via?)

Or maybe not ...


Subject quote from "All the Pretty Horses."
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
Did I know that there's a Roman-built lighthouse still in operation in Spain? Heavily modified over the millennia and probably was not in operation for at least part of the middle ages, but still. Looks pretty good. (via)

Did I know about the legend of Norumbega, the Eldorado of Maine? Or probably in Maine, given the natural vagueness of legends. (via this headnote to a poem by Whittier)

Did I know that Equador and Peru fought a border war in 1995? I can't remember a single news story about this.

What surprising things have you recently only just found out about?


Subject quote from "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)," Pete Seegar.
larryhammer: stylized figures of a man and a woman on either side of a shopping cart carrying a heart (romance)
Startling things to learn from Kirkus: Joanna Russ was a top 10 finalist in the 1953 Westinghouse (now Intel) Science Talent Search. Ferocious intelligence, indeed. (via)

A 1933 profile of Albert Einstein from The New Yorker part 1, part 2. (via)

Wikipedia category: White American riots in the United States. (via)


Subject quote from "Heroes," David Bowie.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
Against the Grain, on the gluten-free movement (for lack of a better word) and a hint at what the real sensitivity might be. (via)

How Farming Almost Destroyed Ancient Human Civilization. Or rather, about the large cities that grew and died thousands of years before the ancient city-states. (via)

Bible Verses Where the Word “Philistines” Has Been Replaced with “Haters”:
Genesis 26:14: "He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the haters envied him."


Subject quote from "As Fast As I Can," Cheryl Bliss.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (completed)
What I've recently finished since my last post:

Harry Heathcote of Gangoil by Anthology Anthony Trollope, a novella/short novel of Australian bush life circa 1870. Trollope is not always successful with character development in his shorter works, and in this case all the most important characters except the title character change, which is a problem only because he's the one set up with a specific character flaw -- in a way that, in his longer novels, would get hammered on till he cracked. Still worth it for the local color.

Captain's Courageous by Rudyard Kipling, a reread of one of his surprisingly few (given his general preoccupations) stories about a young prat who grows into A Man through adversity, in this case being washed overboard an ocean-liner and picked up by a Grand Banks cod fisher. A less subtle writer would have had all the character development incidents take place at sea, returning to land only for the recognition of his Growth & Change -- by delaying the last incident to after the recognition, Kipling created a more effective story. Not his best ever, but a fine sample of the master at his craft ("he struck into a tune that was like something very bad but sure to happen whatever you did"; of a boat's hold: "the place was packed as full of smells as a bale is of cotton") and entertaining. Especially if you like details about how work gets done.

Adoption: A Brief Social and Cultural History by Peter Conn, and it feels a bit petty to complain about the thinness of the treatment when it says "brief" right there on the tin. Still worth it for:
In the words of one adopted Korean woman, "blood is thicker than water, but love can be thicker than blood."
Poems of Places volume VII -- another hank of Scotland, which feels very much like the previous hank. How many "(name of place) is bonnie because (name of lass) said Yes to me" poems did the world really need? (Er, don't answer that.) OTOH, I now want to reread The Lady of the Lake.

What I'm reading now:

Dragons and Other Fantastic Creatures in Origami by John Montroll, a follow-up of sorts to my favorite origami book. Ten different dragon variations (with one, two, or three heads, both with and without wings, et cet.) plus several animals made fantastic by sticking wings on them (winged horse, lion, wolf, unicorn, ... ). There's a running story of sorts running through the model descriptions that might appeal to those of an age to discover D&D or M:tG. Have done, oh, maybe 2/3 of the models.

Poems of Places volume VIII, being the fag-end of Scotland plus Scandinavia. It is amusing to read praises of the Tay River in the context of McGonagall.

What I officially Did Not Finish:

The Mother's Nursery Songs by Thomas Hastings, a 1835 collection published in New York ostensibly intended to teach children how to sing by providing moralizing songs for mothers: by turns lullabies, nursery rhymes, didactic songs, and devotional works. Starting with the second part, the moralizing gets rather heavyhanded:
See that heathen mother stand
Where the sacred currents flow,
With her own maternal hand,
Mid the waves her infant throw.
begins one of the didactic ones, which ends with a call to send Bibles to pagan lands (followed by study-guide-style questions that call into question the efficacy of this). Er, no thanks. The earlier lullabies, though, include a few nice tunes. By turns fascinating and abhorrent, and I abandoned ship with the explicitly devotional.

The Connected Child by Purvis, Cross, & Sunshine, which is aimed more at parenting small children than young toddlers -- keeping it at as a potential resource, though.

What I might read next:

Poems of Places volume XXIV, being Africa -- which sounds dire, yes, but Africa apparently consists largely of Egypt, which might contain the direness somewhat.

larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (some guy)
What I've recently finished since my last post:

Sylvester: or, The Wicked Uncle, more comfort rereading of Georgette Heyer. This is the one with a duke made to acknowledge his own privilege (while still upholding the class system) by a heroine who wrote him into her Gothic roman a clef; distinguishing features include not one but two decampments/elopements ending with being trapped in an inn. What strikes me this time is that Phoebe's mix of confident energy and social anxieties is not entirely consistent, and indeed sometimes the anxieties come and go in ways that suggest the needs of the plot. Still quite enjoyable.

Poems of Places volume IV, being England's alphabetic fag-end together with Wales -- the former taking up somewhat more than half the volume. (For the record, Longfellow's estimate of the relative importance of the British Isles is England (3.5 volumes), Scotland (2.5), Ireland (1), then Wales (.5) -- with the last half-volume being filled out with Scandahoovia.) The Welsh part includes a generous helping of translations, though an awful lot of the rest is from Poly-Olbion or Southey. Ten more volumes to go!

What I'm reading now:

A Concise History of China by J.A.G. Roberts, started for the usual reasons. Given 300 pages to cover prehistory through Deng Xiaopeng, it uses very broad strokes -- making it largely a political/dynastic history. Handy overview, though, with frequent comparisons between traditional, Marxist, and contemporary Western scholarly interpretations of events. Am up to the Republican Era, which is even more dispiriting than trying to cross the Ming Dynasty without a camel.

Madan no Ô to Vanadis volume 8 - Continuing straight on from the cliffhanger of the previous volume, though only after a prologue that confirms the first title character did not actually die but is possibly in an even worse pickle than the rest of the main cast. (I find myself swinging back and forth as I read this series whether to understand Vanadis as singular, referring to the Bullet King's captor and partner, or plural for all seven of the kingdom.) I do find the tactical details of the opening naval battle a bit wearisome, possibly because neither protagonist is involved. But the book is still young.

What I might read next:

Biblia Koshodô no Jiken Techô ("casebook of the Biblia Used Bookstore") volume 1 by En Mikami, about a shy antiquarian book dealer in Kamakura who solves mysteries involving old books, which looks like it might be what the Classics Club/Hyouka series wasn't.

larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
Some vaguely sociology links. Or at least dealing with humans. Something like that.

The standard story about the murder of Kitty Genovese is wildly inaccurate: bystanders did intervene. The supposed 38 witnesses is inflated: of the 33 people who heard something at some point, the bulk had no clear understanding of what was going on. (via sovay)

When you compare siblings where one is was breast-fed and another was not -- in otherwords automatically control for environment -- you find that the benefits of breast-feeding largely disappear. (via?)

A profile of burrnesha, a class of Albanian transmen that is dying out because of cultural changes. It tries to be trans-respectful, but stumbles in parts. (via)


Subject quote from "Dirge" from Death's Jest Book, Thomas Lovell Beddoes.
larryhammer: canyon landscape with saguaro and mesquite trees (canyon)
It has been a mild winter so far -- mild and dry. There were two promising early storms in December, but since then pretty much nothing. As for the mild, it's been warm enough many (imported) temperate deciduous trees only just turned and dropped during the past two week, and now our bougainvillea is blooming deep magenta. In late January.

Cats have always acted like cats. (via)

"Seasonal Feathers," a song loosely based on the Japanese tale of The Grateful Crane. (via)

Lingering Yuletide 2013 rec: Escape Velocity, in which Lilo trains to become a freelance galactic adventurer along with Stitch. Pacing's a bit wonky, but some lovely stuff is covered and exactly nails the dismount.


Subject quote from "Hymn to Proserpine," Swinburne.

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