(I liked ferrets. I found them clever, beautiful, charming creatures. I had had a stuffed animal black-footed ferret since late elementary school. By the time Outcast came out, I even knew several domestic ferrets in person; they were playful and I did not object to their smell. That was the novel where I realized that Jacques' species essentialism was immutable, and I felt painfully betrayed. I understood the long shadow of The Wind in the Willows, but I couldn't understand how Jacques could miss that his readers would at some point identify with Veil, the orphaned ferret kit adopted into a society of mice and voles and moles—the outsider, the one who feels there's something wrong with them for just being what they are—and then fail to see how it would hurt them to have Veil confirmed as irredeemable, genetically evil after all. He went so far as to give a morally ambiguous character a selfless death scene and then retract it a few chapters later. That ending accomplished what endless recipes for damson and chestnut and Mummerset dialect could not: I burnt out on the series on some deep level and have never even now gone back, despite positive memories of the first four books and their unique combination of cozy talking animals and total batshit weirdness. If you can't appreciate ferrets, I'm out of time for you.)
He and his wife just lost almost everything in the Santa Rosa fires blazing in central California, and he's made an almost instantaneous comic about it:
A Fire Story.
(thanks to umadoshi for the link)
I've started to make a transcript/image description:
Ping me here if you'd like to help create this.
1. There is a meme going around Facebook about the five films you would tell someone to watch in order to understand you. I've been saying Powell and Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale (1944), Ron Howard's Splash (1984), Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein (1993), John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940), and The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953). Which is hardly complete, but adding postscripts feels like cheating, so I haven't. The internet being what it is, of course, I first saw this meme in the mutated form of the five weird meats you would tell someone to eat in order to understand you, to which I had no difficulty replying: venison, blood sausage, snails, goat, and raw salmon.
2. In other memetic news, I tried the Midwest National Parks' automatic costume generator:
and while I don't think "Paranoid Hellbender" is a good costume, it'd be a great hardcore band.
3. I haven't done an autumnal mix in a while, so here is a selection of things that have been seasonally rotating. This one definitely tips more toward Halloween.
( The sound of a thousand souls slipping under )
I would really like to be writing about anything.
P.S. I just want to point out that if you have recently seen The Robots of Death (1977) and you open a copy of the official tie-in anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View (2017) and see a pair of characters named Poul and Toos, it is extremely confusing that the former is female, the latter is male, they are respectively a senior and a junior officer aboard the Death Star, and neither of them has a problem with robots.
"Sometimes I feel that he is as mysterious as the gods, and that he is hiding something of vital importance from me. Something that would transform my life."
Few events are more thrilling in a young man's life than a blood feud between two villages. Or so Adrian thought.
Torn between affection toward his traditional-minded father and worship of his peace-loving, heretical priest, Adrian finds himself caught between two incompatible visions of his duty to the gods. Then the Jackal God sends Adrian a message that will disrupt his world and send him fleeing to a new and perilous life.
- Latest chapter: Chapter 18/27.
- Online fiction: Law Links at AO3.
- Free multiformat e-book: Law Links.
- Series: The Three Lands.
- Series resources: The Great Peninsula: series resources for The Three Lands.
"'You have committed a vile and savage act, one that any other nation would punish with death. Our punishment, on the other hand, will only be to give you what you want. You have sought to live in a world without boundaries of civilization, and such a world shall henceforth be your dwelling place.'"
A cold-hearted murderer. A vicious abuser. A young man hiding a shameful secret. A bewildered immigrant. A pure-minded spy.
All of these men have found their appointed places at Mercy Life Prison, where it is easy to tell who your enemies are. But a new visitor to Mercy is about to challenge decades-old customs. Now these men's worst enemies may be hiding behind masks . . . and so may their closest allies.
- Latest chapter: Chapter 15/23. Beginning of "Mercy's Prisoner 3: Milord."
- Online fiction: Mercy's Prisoner at AO3.
- Free multiformat e-book: Mercy's Prisoner.
- Series: Life Prison.
- Series cycle: Turn-of-the-Century Toughs.
"He tried to keep his voice calm, though his pulse was racing."
Time is running out.
Vito de Vere has ten days to prepare for his performance in the Eternal Dungeon's first play. He may have fewer days than that to fight for his career and to save his prisoner's life.
As the Eternal Dungeon prepares for the greatest change it has ever undergone, Vito must prove his worth by breaking and transforming a criminal. Nobody else is likely to manage it. And nobody but himself cares so passionately whether his prisoner survives.
As an actor, Vito portrays the qualities of courage, love, truth, and trust. Now he must find the strength to take those qualities into the breaking cell.
- Latest chapter: Chapter 6/15.
- Online fiction: Truth and Trust at AO3.
- Free multiformat e-book: Sweet Blood.
- Series: The Eternal Dungeon.
- Series cycle: Turn-of-the-Century Toughs.
( To receive notices of my fiction by e-mail )
I cleared out my leather life this fall. Technically, all I was doing was donating my leather library – hundreds of vintage leather/BDSM magazines and a few books to the Carter/Johnson Leather Library, a travelling historical library that I had volunteered for in the 00s. But this was also a way for me to say goodbye to the period – 2004 to 2007 – when I'd belonged to the leather community. I proved to be a square peg there in a pentagonal hole, but I'd never had the opportunity to formally leave the community. This would be my opportunity.
At a certain point, I passed on some books by david stein (his name is lowercased) to my apprentice, who is a member of the leather club La Garou. It occurred to me then that I ought to drop a line to david. I'd fallen out of touch with all my friends this year, but I knew that david was ill with cancer, which made it especially important that I stay in touch with him.
Then the urgency of my current task – I was cutting back on my belongings because I faced an imminent inspection by my landlord – caused that thought to slip out of my mind.
I donated the magazines and books. On Twitter, I thanked the Leather Library, as well as the Leather Archives & Museum, which had originally sold me most of the magazines. Then I tweeted, "(*Quietly closes a door on that chapter of my life.*)"
Seventeen days later, I emerged from the bathroom to find my apprentice standing with his smartphone in hand, looking grave. "I think you should sit down," he said.
Thus I learned of the death of david stein.
( Safe, sane, and consensual )
( Community )
( Publishing )
( Romance )
( Friendship )
( david's writings )
( Other tributes to david stein )
( Excerpts from an essay, a video and an interview )
Riva in midair holds a marionette control high with her left hand. The strings attach to actual rivets in her left elbow, both knees and ankles; she wraps some strings around her left arm and grips them in her teeth. She wears calf-high black leather boots with very large, asymmetrical soles, a pink and purple tutu to mid-thighs, her nipples just visible through pink gauze laced vest. She's a small woman with hair dyed red except for a shock of white hair shielding her brow. A background of soft blue-green is both the floor (with Riva's shadow) and the wall: it makes the detailed life-colored painting pop out at the viewer.
It is probably just as well that the Great Northern Food Hall is two states away, because otherwise I can see myself eating there until I go broke or burn out on the taste of rye flour, neither of which I want to happen. Not only do they make a superlative cold-smoked salmon, which if you order it as smørrebrød comes on a dense, chewy rye with thin slices of pickled cucumber and radish and generous dots of stiff savory sour cream and if you order it off the regular menu changes up the radish for celery pickle (which it seems I like much better than any other format of celery) and offers you slices of a lighter, crusty sourdough to plate it on for yourself, they serve a pink peppercorn and raspberry shrub which reminded me strongly of Fire Cider, only in a different key of flavors. Their beef tartare had too much red onion for spatch to eat safely, but we both liked the cubes of smoked beet and the startling green dollops of chive mayonnaise. The roast beef mini smørrebrød had a kind of remoulade on top and then little reddish-purple shells of endive. The avocado mini smørrebrød may or may not have needed green tomato pickle, but the chili oil was a nice touch. The server advised about two small plates per person; in fact three small plates at the Great Northern Food Hall was about half a plate more than either of us could handle, but it was all so delicious that we left only bread. I even got to try the sorrel sorbet because they were giving sorbet away for free, saying quite honestly that they had too much left at the end of the week and didn't want it to go to waste. It was a juicy green, vegetal-sweet, and I licked at it as we ran for the trains to Lincoln Center.
I want some kind of credit for changing all of my clothes except for socks and shoes in a stall in the orchestra-level ladies' room of the Met, especially since I had a laptop-containing backpack and my corduroy coat to manage at the same time. I had brought nice clothes for the opera and I was going to wear them, dammit. I dropped nothing in the toilet and got complimented on my hair afterward.
The opera was wonderful. The thing about Les contes d'Hoffmann is that Offenbach died while working on it—he had a complete piano score but only partial orchestration and a lot of dramaturgical questions unresolved—and as a result there has been an ongoing argument about authenticity and convention and dramatic coherence and musical feasibility for the last hundred and thirty-six years. A non-exhaustive list of variations would include: the order in which the second two acts are staged; how one of them ends; whether there is recitative or spoken dialogue in the tradition of the opéra comique; whether the four soprano roles are performed by the same singer; the degree to which the mezzo role is present in the story; which arias are performed by the bass-baritone; how the opera itself ends. Counting Powell and Pressburger's The Tales of Hoffmann (1951), I have literally never seen or heard the same version twice. Not all of this one worked for me as either an interpretation or an edition, but as a production it was oustanding. I liked Vittorio Grigolo's Hoffmann, self-destructive and feverishly hopeful and not one minute sober; I loved Laurent Naouri's Lindorf and other villains, the same dry dark amusement in his voice each act like his changes of coat, different styles, all black; Tara Erraught made the most complex Muse I have seen, a conspirator in each of Hoffmann's romantic disillusions until she begins to wonder if the eventual art is going to pay off the cost or if she's just going to break her poet instead. The mise-en-scène was generally 1920's Mitteleuropa, with excursions to a Parisian fairground for the Olympia act, a remote and wintry forest for the Antonia act, and a smoky Venetian bordello for the Giulietta act, cheerfully and non-naturalistically peppered with waiters in the whiteface of the Kit Kat Klub, carnival callbacks to Tod Browning, and Venetian courtesans in green glitter star-shaped pasties. (Rob said afterward, "That was more skin than I expected from grand opera." Then he got Tom Waits' "Pasties and a G-string" stuck in my head for the rest of the night.) And here the notes started to run away into an actual review which I had to break off abruptly because it hurt too much to type; I'll try to say more tomorrow. At the beginning of the Giulietta act, the Muse in her guise of Nicklausse the student woke up in a pile of pasties-and-G-string ladies with her vest unbuttoned and her cravat untied and I hope each and every one of those ladies went home and wrote an epic poem, or painted, or sculpted, or composed a song. I don't see what else waking up in a pile with the Muse is supposed to do.
We stayed the night with friends who live in Morristown, who had not managed to catch dinner before the opera, so at one-thirty in the morning we were at a diner somewhere in New Jersey, variously ordering things like Greek salad, Tex-Mex rolls, disco fries, and hot chocolate. This is the most collegiate thing that has happened to me in years.
Unfortunately I woke on their semi-fold-out couch the next afternoon with my shoulder frozen and screaming at me, which meant that a lot of getting around Manhattan today was accomplished by Rob carrying my backpack and me making noises whenever I tried to pick anything up, but we made it to the Strand and now I have copies of Derek Jarman's Kicking the Pricks (The Last of England, 1987) and Smiling in Slow Motion (2000) and we had dinner at Veselka, as is now our tradition. They make a borscht better than anything I can get in Boston. I always remember the Baczynski is huge, but forget quite how huge that is, although at least it means I can eat the second half some hours later on the train when I'm hungry again. Much less elevatedly, I can't remember ever eating a Twix bar before, but Rob brought one back from the café car and a lot of candy bars confuse me, but I can say nothing against a biscuit layered in caramel and chocolate.
(It is a small reason among many, but I do resent the resurgence of actual Nazism for making it more difficult to describe the shoutily officious gateman who ordered the woman next to me to drop out of line so that the business class passengers could have their own line to board first from—he kept yelling at her to move over and I along with two or three other people yelled back, "There's nowhere to move!"—as a tin Hitler.)
My shoulder is now hurting in the way it has been all week where the pain runs down my arm and into my fingers, which I suspect means I should call a doctor about it on Monday and definitely stop typing now. But it was worth it. It was a good birthday present.
The nuclear football is the briefcase containing the launch codes for the nuclear weapons in the arsenal of the United States. Currently, in order to open the football and take advantage of its contents, a President of the United States need do nothing more than positively identify himself. The two-man rule requiring the assent of the Secretary of Defense before proceeding to the use of nuclear weapons is something of a fig leaf since, while the Secretary of Defense must verify that the order really came from the President, he cannot legally countermand it. Currently the President of the United States is a man who shows every sign of wanting quite seriously to use nuclear weapons and he can do it without warning and without authorization; he can do it on a whim and I feel that trusting in on-the-spot interference to prevent him—his generals actually tackling him, taking the football out of his hands—is an only marginally less wishful fantasy than the actual ghost of Stanislas Petrov appearing to arrest the turning of launch keys at the last minute, although I'm not saying he shouldn't do that if he feels like it. I would just prefer not to reach that stage if we can help it.
We can help it. There is right now a bill in the Senate and the House—S.200, H.R.669, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017—that would remove the power to launch a preemptive nuclear strike from the President and return it to Congress, which would need to declare war before the authorization of a nuclear strike could even be considered, and rachelmanija has started a campaign to get this bill passed. It is called Pull the Football – Save the World. Its principle is simple. Call your Congresspeople. Write them letters, e-mails, postcards, faxes. Tweet at them. Message them on Facebook. If they are already co-sponsors of the bill, thank them. If they are not, tell them to co-sponsor the bill and then keep telling them. Call again. Write again. Tweet to break the monotony and then call some more. Even if there's not a hope in the domain of much-maligned Hades that they'll act like reasonable human beings, keep reminding them that you expect them to. See Rachel's post for sample scripts, phone numbers, and other helpful information. And if you haven't got Congresspeople at all, please share this information on your social media so that it can reach even more people who do. The idea is the same kind of wave of public outcry as the protests against the repeal of the ACA, only this time in favor of taking action—and in defense of more than just American lives.
I belong to the only country in the world that has employed nuclear weapons in war. For many, many reasons, let's not do it again. And let's start with the football.
I don’t know if my mother was ever really proud of me, but she did love me very much. She loved loracs and I even think she was fond of serene (even though I don’t think she liked the whole arrangement. :-) She was given the impossible task of raising a severely disabled, stubborn child along with three other children and managed as well as she could. She was a keypunch operator, a bus driver, factory worker, and hotel housekeeper. She did what she needed to keep us safe and healthy. She lived through long lectures from her son on his homework or latest interest. I’m sure that many of those conversations she could barely follow or care about. Yet she always seemed genuinely interested in my silly schoolboy theories and passions. I know I put her through several kinds of hell. Hopefully, she's somewhere arguing with her mother and petting lots of dachshunds and Boston Terriers. Drinking hot cocoa, bowling, working on jigsaw puzzles and watching television. I will miss her so much. I love you Mom.
1) What is the first song you remember from your childhood?
"Never Mind the Why and Wherefore" from Gilbert and Sullivan's 19th C operetta Pirates of Penzance.
song and lyrics
2) What is the first music you purchased with your own money?
Joni Mitchell's Song to a Seagull, 1968. I think I wore out the grooves.
3) What's a piece of music that you know by heart?
"How Can I Keep From Singing" happens a lot in the shower.
4) What's a song that makes you turn off the music right away?
"Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard"
5) And why?
Lived below someone who played that song 20 times a day for a week.
Around Darien, I looked across the aisle on the Metro-North and the woman with the copy of the New York Post was reading an article with the title "'Psycho' Analysis" with two photographs of Janet Leigh in the shower scene, reminding me that I still owe a review I want very much to write. This week disappeared into work and doctors, as too many of them do.
There is wi-fi in Grand Central Station, or I'd never get this posted. To dinner, and then to meet friends, and then to opera.  The Great Northern Food Hall has superlative smoked salmon. I only wish I had room for the sorrel sorbet.
But when at the commandline I do whois mydomain.tld the record that comes up is very terse, and has no information about me or how to contact me at all:
Domain Name: [mydomain.tld] Registry Domain ID: [REDACTED] Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.enom.com Registrar URL: http://www.enom.com Updated Date: 2015-10-[REDACTED] Creation Date: 2011-10-[REDACTED] Registry Expiry Date: 2021-10-[REDACTED] Registrar: eNom, Inc. Registrar IANA ID: 48 Registrar Abuse Contact Email: Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited Name Server: [REDACTED] Name Server: [REDACTED] DNSSEC: unsigned URL of the ICANN Whois Inaccuracy Complaint Form: https://www.icann.org/wicf/
That's what I get from both my mac terminal and the shell at my hosting company.
Adding "--verbose" doesn't change anything.
When I go elsewhere, say to whois.domaintools.com, I get the whole record I expect to see.
What's going on here, does anybody know? Is there some way to convince my local whois to return more full records?
The trouble with me and National Coming Out Day is that I don't have a coming-out story. I tend to explain my sexuality as follows:
I am interested in people. They come with the bodies they come with. Sometimes those bodies change. Sometimes they belong to people who are cis, sometimes to people who are trans, sometimes to people who are not on the gender binary. In all cases, my interest in a body follows on my experience of a person; all of my romantic relationships have developed out of friendships, with the land speed record taking three months and the other end of the range six years. I find a great many people beautiful. It doesn't mean I want to sleep with them. I want to sleep with relatively few people as these things are rated, but when I do, I really do. I never expected to marry, so it still amazes me that I have one husband and one lover. Label-wise, I identify as bisexual; I also answer to queer. I began identifying as poly when I started to have more than one partner. I dislike the term "demisexual" in the extreme because I think there is nothing halfway about my sexuality. I have never known how to fill out the -romantic part of the sticker set because I don't believe I make that distinction. The last time I was asked about my gender, I believe I answered "BLARGH."
In my ordinary life, however, the process of making people aware of these facts has been not so much a series of significant announcements as a general non-concealment of how I work.  And then I deleted most of the rest of this post because it suffered from an access of Tiny Wittgenstein: I am not somehow less queer because it didn't give me tsuris growing up.
My non-coming-out story is that I'm not sure it was news to my parents that I was capable of being attracted to women,1 but it came up conversationally in my senior year of high school because it was really awkward to be distractingly attracted to a female friend while still in a relationship with the male friend who had introduced us and I didn't know whether I should try to talk to her about it. In the end I didn't, because I thought she wasn't interested, and some years later it turned out she had been and thought I wasn't, and the only conclusions I can draw here are (a) always talk to people, because without information you literally never know (b) gaydar is overrated.
I don't know if Ron Koertge's "Cat Women of the Moon" was timed by Rattle to be thematic or not, but I really like it.
1. It was not exactly news to me: I was no more surprised to find myself attracted to a female friend at seventeen than I was to find myself attracted to a male friend at nineteen except insofar as I never assumed I would be attracted to anyone. What would have surprised me was exclusive attraction to one gender. Long before I wanted to go to bed with anyone, I knew the idea of it being gender-determined made no sense to me.
I cannot find it; it doesn't seem to be in the books that I had thought I'd seen it in. I'd like to find it again. I tried googling "einstein's letter to mathematician" and discovered that he apparently carried on a voluminous correspondence with every living mathematician at the time. Brute force searching isn't going to work.
Does anybody happen to recognize this passage by description?
Until reading this piece, I’d thoughtlessly hummed along to the stereotype that adoptions are about how wonderful the adoptive parents are.( read it now )
I’m Done Debating Racism With the Devil: White people playing devil’s advocate in conversations about race are completely counterproductive to actual progress. by Maya Rupert
“Devil’s advocate” arguments have always annoyed and angered me, but this essay explained why.( now you can too )