caitri: (bullshit)
It's bad enough to have a kung fu show with a superwhite white boy, but the level of BORIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING is inexcusable. At this point I bring something to read and make fun of it while Scott watches it. (Scott has patience. And is maybe a masochist.) 
caitri: (Mouse Herat)
I've been rereading Finn/Poe for comfort recently (an excess of real life), so last night I dreamed I was Finn. I was pinned down by enemy fire and Poe flew in for some dramatic dispersal and rescuing, followed by comfort. It was great. Good job, brain! 
caitri: (Status Not Quo)
I just had a eureka moment about why purity wank (whether political or fannish) bugs the crap out of me: It's pretty much always, *always* about kicking down, about how the author gets to or justifies feeling superior, and never ever about actually doing something constructive or actually helping any one person or group.
caitri: (Books)
Crossposted at The Future Fire:


Kiini Ibura Salaam, When the World Wounds. Third Man Books, 2016. Pp. 184. ISBN 978-0-9913361-5-9. $15.95.



Kiini Ibura Salaam is an American writer of speculative fiction that directly engages with women and race in ways that are both thoughtful and disturbing. This is her second collection of short fiction; the first, Ancient, Ancient (2012) won the James Tiptree Jr. Award for that year. Salaam is a writer of short pieces that have largely previously appeared in collections; When the World Wounds consists of three short stories, two novelettes and a novella, only one of which is reprinted (and has been edited from the previous version). As such this collection will be of emphatic interest to her fans, and provide much food for thought for new readers.

‘The Malady of Need’ is an incredibly evocative, even erotic read. Told in the second person in an increasingly near-obligatory near-future dystopia, the pair of nameless characters, both men, engage in emotionally destructive romance and sexual encounters. Written in a series of vignettes that are increasingly frenetic and explicit, the narrator dissolves from wishful thinking to pained regret; it is something like Nine and a Half Weeks against a science fictional backdrop.

‘The Pull of the Wing’ takes place in the same universe as several of the stories from Ancient, Ancient. The protagonists are all alien, and convincingly so as Salaam deftly describes both their bodies (winged, with lenses and feelers) and the very different perceptions those bodies process; it reminded me of Martha Wells’s Raksura race from that eponymous series, exactly different and exactly similar enough to humans to be exotic but comprehensible. Unfortunately, having not read Salaam’s other book, I’m not sure how well this story illuminates the worldbuilding she has done before; the story itself concerns a group of friends who try to understand more about their world and, having reached a new comprehension of their lives and their species, seemingly wish that they hadn’t. It’s an odd story, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

‘The Taming’ is the story that stuck with me the longest; it’s about the domestication of wolves, from the point of view of a wolf. Like the rest of her writing, it is incredibly sensual and incredibly disturbing. Unlike the rest of the stories in the collection, it is accompanied by a small illustration of a wolf’s head in between each segment, unique to this version (the earlier version of this story in Interfictions is slightly different textually, and does not have the illustration). As a reader, part of me kept wondering if the wolf was indeed actually a wolf for reasons I can’t actually articulate— perhaps something in the specificity of the writing, perhaps only that I was reading in a time of incredible anxiety in the real world. Spoiler alert, the wolf is a wolf, but that does not make its encounter with domestication/civilization any less violent, nor its fate less worrisome. After all, it is the twenty-first century; we are sadly all too aware of what happens to wolves and the wild.

‘Hemmie’s Calenture’ straddles the space between magical realism and a more straightforwardly supernatural tale, told in titled vignettes that start as a fever dream and become something else. Hemmie is a slave in early nineteenth century Louisiana who is injured while trying to escape to freedom. An unnamed woman, who can sometimes speak to her directly through her mind, helps to heal her, and shows her another battle that is being fought in the forest and swamps alongside the more conventional battle between the British, French, and Americans. The woman charges Hemmie with gathering an army, and so she journeys to New Orleans to find (real historical figure) Joseph Savary and his battalion of Free Men of Color… who are not interested in her fight, and indeed, think her mad. At the end she finds a single soldier willing to accompany her, and the woman assures her that she does have an army after all. This is a resistance fable, and if it is rather different than the other stories, it is all the stronger for that: Freedom and change start in the spirit before they become true action.

‘Volcano Woman’ is a short story that is about the power of a woman’s anger. When the protagonist is threatened by escalating street abuse—the kind that shifts from words to physical pursuit in an eyeblink—she escapes and finds a strange old woman who feeds her a comforting bowl of soup and applies a series of unguents that remake her into something else. When she faces her attacker again, she is the active cleansing fire of rage. The story’s prose is spare, but the message of the importance of purposeful anger is one that speaks to a multitude of political movements in the United States right now, but especially that of black women.

‘Because of the Bone Man’ is the final piece in this collection, a novella that takes on the 2005 Katrina flood of New Orleans along with the physical and emotional devastation that catastrophe wrought. The story takes place six months after the flood, just before Mardi Gras. Like ‘Hemmie’s Calenture,’ the story mixes the magical with the supernatural; it’s unclear if the Bone Man is a human or not, a personification of the celebratory ghoulish costumes of some of the parades, or not—nor does it matter. Either way, he makes paper mȃché masks culled from the storm’s debris, waterlogged photographs, and gives them to the ghosts of children killed in the storm. Salaam’s anger at the disaster’s aftermath—she is from New Orleans—bluntly confronts the harsh reality within the story; there are white dancers at the parades who are “thrilled to take the space black bodies usually occupied” (164) and the ghost of a Baby Doll dancer states that “Yeah, it was just a coincidence the levees broke where they did. It’s just a coincidence people like us is homeless and them with dry houses don’t look nothing like us” (174). Like several of the other stories, it concludes with hope, as the Bone Man finds a nun and together they make a miracle, using the masks to restore what children they can to life. This story speaks not just to psychological and emotional healing from trauma and adversity, but to the preservation of culture—and few things are as central to New Orleans culture as the Mardi Gras krewe culture.

When the World Wounds is not an easy book to read, but it is one that is well worth the time spent both for the stories told and for the absorbing, poetic prose of Salaam. While the stories in this collection share certain themes and modes of writing, they are all singular experiences that can’t be repeated, something that can’t be said for several single-author collections. Most especially, despite the darkness of much of the stories’ content, there is the prospect of hope and healing to be found—traits that many readers will need right now.
caitri: (Default)
Coffee-Chocolate Layer Cake With Mocha-Mascarpone Frosting

Ingredients

Cake
2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water
Frosting
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 8-ounce containers chilled mascarpone cheese
Bittersweet chocolate curls (optional)

Preparation

cake

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F. Generously butter two 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch-high sides; dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper.
Sift 2 cups cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add hot espresso-water mixture, beating just until smooth.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; lift pans off cakes and remove parchment. Place wire rack atop each cake; invert again so top side is up. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap each cake in plastic and store at room temperature.

frosting

Sift cocoa powder into large bowl; add espresso powder. Bring 1 cup cream to boil in small saucepan. Slowly pour cream over cocoa mixture, whisking until cocoa is completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup cream and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; keep chilled.

Add mascarpone to chilled cocoa mixture. Using electric mixer, beat on low speed until blended and smooth. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until mixture is thick and medium-firm peaks form when beaters are lifted, about 2 minutes (do not overbeat or mixture will curdle).

Using pastry brush, brush off crumbs from cakes. Place 1 cake layer, top side up, on platter. Spoon 1 3/4 cups frosting in dollops over top of cake. Using offset spatula, spread frosting to edges. Top with second cake layer, top side up, pressing to adhere. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill 10 minutes. Using offset spatula, spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake, swirling decoratively. Top with chocolate curls, if desired. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.

Link: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/coffee-chocolate-layer-cake-with-mocha-mascarpone-frosting
caitri: (Books)
caitri: (Books)
Over at Bustle: "Why Fan Fiction Shaming Is A Feminist Issue" by Emma Lord

Snip:

The two most "famous" fan fictions aside, the shame associated with fan fiction originated long before these works reached readers outside of their usual sphere. Unfortunately, fan fiction at large lends itself to mockery in a much safer and subtler way than other forms of female desire-driven works: the writers are, for the most part, anonymous and unpaid, with little training. They are often young women, subjecting the works to the same dismissive attitude society frequently takes over things that young women enjoy. And while there is a wide range of writers and types of fic on the internet, a majority of fic — the fic that most people are aware of — is written primarily by women, for women, holding it to the kind of scrutiny from people who do not consume it that makes it all too easy to mock. ...

If you don't think that fan fiction shaming in particular is a feminist issue, then consider what we're really doing when we shame fan fiction writers: we are shaming women — often young women, who are just starting to get a sense for what they want not just in a narrative, but in their adult lives — for expressing their desires. We are setting up women to apologize for their writing before it even leaves the keyboard. We are attacking them not only personally, but professionally; we are discouraging them owning a part of themselves, and from profiting from it, should they ever decide to write their own original work down the road.

More than that, though, we are discouraging them from engaging in the incredibly diverse and open learning environment that fan fiction provides. Fan fiction has historically been a safe place to experiment with and read about all kinds of romance — no matter the gender or the orientation, be it the cheesiest trope or the most specific kink. It is a place without judgment, and a place that introduces young writers to perspectives outside of their own — sometimes normalizing diverse relationships for writers who would otherwise not be exposed to them, ultimately making them more accepting and empathetic not just as writers, but as human beings.

With that in mind, it is all the more disheartening that the judgment of others so critically affects the writers and readers of fan fiction, which itself is such an open, nonjudgmental place. But once that misplaced shame is there, it never really goes away. Even now, fully aware of the root of my feelings, I see it in motion in myself and the people around me. I write my own fiction now, and whenever somebody asks about it, I frequently preface any plot descriptions with "it's silly," or "it's dumb". I hide my fiction writing with the same kind of crippling embarrassment that I shielded my fan fiction usernames. And I hear the same apologies from other female writers everywhere I go — be it with other fic writers on Tumblr, or fiction writers who write in genres targeted at women that I meet out in the real world, there is all too often a disclaimer to soften any exchange of their work. The very work that should empower us and embolden us, the same work we feel safe celebrating in anonymous corners of the internet, often makes us cower in the light of day.

Of course, ending the fan fiction shaming isn't going to solve everything; fan fiction shaming is just one of countless things lurking under the umbrella of things women are conditioned to feel shame for. But it is high time to recognizing fan fiction shaming for what it is at its core: the shaming of women's desires, and their daring to take control of them.
caitri: (This is Your Captain)
In the post-Trump world, it is really an incredible political parable that I don't think was adequately appreciated (even by me) when it came out this summer.

But think about it: It's about a reactionary, xenophobic old man that hates the new world he lives in and wants to destroy it, and how he is opposed by a diverse group of young people whose lives were forever changed because of terrorist acts--and who, rather than succumbing to fear, say things like "Unity is our strength" and "It's better to die saving lives than live with taking them."

Oh, and who call Beastie Boys "classical music." :}
caitri: (Chris Vocabulary)
1) I've been rereading Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern books for comfort, and the last time I did that I was really frustrated with the unrelenting dubcon of the 1960s. Yes, I understand that sex scenes had to be done that way until, like, the 80s or whatever, but still. There's actually a couple of lines in "Dragonflight" where F'lar thinks with regret about Lessa being a virgin when their dragons mated and so what he had done wasn't much better than rape--which, yay, hero, glad you got that--but then this becomes a point of romantic obstruction. Also the whole thing with how the Blue and Green dragonriders "have to be" gay that's incredibly awkward subtext because of McCaffrey's incredibly problematic view of homosexuality.

2) I worked on and sent off edits for my fanfiction and book history essay that's coming out in September (!). The reviewer wanted me to remove the bit about fanzines-as-samizdats, which is simultaneously a common, unexamined, and problematic view, which is to say that people argue that fanzines aren't samizdats because they aren't political and there aren't ramifications about their publishing. Except this is contrary to a long-held view about maintaining fan anonymity even of historical work where people used their real names because they didn't ever think they would get "published" (even if a zine has 1000 copies) that 1) emphasizes that whole public/private divide in a gendered way, and 2) ignores anxiety about doxxing. So basically fandom isn't dangerous until it's dangerous.

I'm still mentally sorting that one out.

2a) All of the anxiety about fan anonymity, from print zines to kink memes.
caitri: (Default)
Bookmarking because it's beautiful, and apparently this is the only freaking poem you can get in English from this author because it was shown on a kdrama. >_<

“The Physics of Love”
by Kim In-yook

The size of a mass is not proportional to its volume
That little girl as small as a violet
That little girl that flutters like a flower petal
Pulls me with a mass greater than the Earth
In a moment, I
Like Newton’s apple
Mercilessly rolled and fell on her
With a thud, with a thud thud
My heart
From the sky to the ground
Continued to swing dizzyingly like a pendulum
It was first love
caitri: (Status Not Quo)
This is a post I've been mentally planning for the better part of a week, mostly trying to crystallize thoughts in a meaningful way, but also getting postponed because of travel and political outrage. So here, have some messy unvarnished thoughts:

I saw Hamilton last week. Like other art I partook of during Herr Gropenfuhrer's ascendance and first vollies, it managed to be comforting, inspiring, and galvanizing all at once. Having spent the better part of a decade at this point writing literary and historical criticism, I think it's no mistake and even indicative of our times that we have this powerfully political piece of art rallying us to RISE UP even as we have a Cheeto-in-Chief who is doing his best to tear us all down. And likewise, I think it's no mistake that if Americans were torn 50/50 over the Revolution itself, we have to remember that now, today, our current political balance is at *least* 60/40 if not 70/30--the Resistance is on point, we are gathered, we are prepared. Our greatest danger is the fatigue of it all, having to be aware and ready at all times. Per a friend and also Mad-Eye Moody, CONSTANT VIGILANCE. But here are some things that give me hope: The Mosque that was burned in Texas outpaced its rebuilding goal of $850k in donations in two days; the ACLU received $19 million in donations in just the single weekend when it usually gets $3mil in a year; people are showing up in droves to protests on campuses, at airports, at federal buildings. We have energy and anger and determination, and those are something.

As for Hamilton itself: I saw a wholly new cast, with an alt playing Hamilton. Black men played Burr, Washington, and Hamilton; Hamilton in particular had very dark skin, which highlighted the "I'm a shiny piece of coal" line from "My Shot" in a way I thought very interesting. LMM has written how he went back and forth on whether to play Hamilton or Burr when writing and workshopping, and it made me wonder when he composed that line which role he was playing at the time. The Hamilton actor also played young Ham as a combination of "angry young man" and "socially awkward" that was very interesting--it also made the whole sequence of "My Shot" extra emotional because "I've never had a group of friends before, I promise I'll make ya'll proud!" and the physicality of the group's interactions so neat to me--and especially because throughout the number and show Burr is distanced from the other actors; his line "Can I buy you a drink?" is bewildered confusion and social flailing as well. The whole sequence echoed their positions in "Story of Tonight Reprise" after Ham's wedding--Lafayette is handing out glasses and he makes like he's going to give one to Burr, who reaches out for it, and then he is bypassed with "You are the worst, Burr." So when Ham shooes them out, part of that is being kind/protective to Burr, which I thought was great characterization.

I brought tissues with me, because listening to Act 2 makes me cry, so I knew I was in for it with human beings, and yeah, yeaaaaaaaaah. The emotions were so powerful. The Hamilton actor in particular got, I think, "mature Hamilton" in a way that felt completely organic and impressive and in a way that seemed more so with his interpretation of young Ham. When he totally breaks down during "It's Quiet Uptown" it was truly impressive in a way difficult to describe, except that to see tears slowly coming down when talking to Eliza and then become absolutely streaming and shaking in a way that was moved and moving. (I can hear someone now say "And that's why it's called 'acting', Cait!" but still!) The actor who played Washington likewise made "Teach Them How to Say Goodbye" incredibly moving, and okay, yes, that song makes me tear up but this time I was close to sobbing. I'll admit part of it may have been the emotional hysteria of last week's politics, but still.

Lafayette/Jefferson was played by a light-skinned man. One of the things that visually struck me with images of Daveed Diggs's Jefferson was the visual hypocrisy in the scene with his slaves in "What Did I Miss?" I didn't feel like that sequence was as visually grabbing with a light-skinned man in the role; it made me wonder if we have normalized the image of "light person surrounded by dark servants" and how fucked up of itself that is. (SIDEWAYS: I love Legends of Tomorrow, and they did an episode where they went back to the Civil War to fight confederate zombies and hijinks ensued, but there's a scene when Jackson, the African-American part of Firestorm, opts to save some slaves with historical consequences/"aberrations" be damned: "This is the REAL aberration to history," he said, and I cried because yes.)

The actor who played Burr was absolutely incredibly and my favorite by far. He worked in a lot of humor into the role with certain vocal turns and body language; I'd love to know how that contrasted with Odom's performance, which always seemed very "straight man" to a mercurial Ham on the recording. It also made his bromance with Hamilton more interesting to me--like, it seemed like if Ham's rage was all externalized, Burr's was internalized, and that's a good deal of why he explodes into violence at the end. Somehow that interpretation had never occurred to me, but having read it that way I can't unsee it. Also, his "Sweet. Jesus." to Ham's "itemized list of thirty years of disagreements" was so frustrated and exasperated in a way that I felt absolutely encapsulated their love/hate relationship.

Finally, because I'm so shallow at the end of the day: We were second row center which meant we were RIGHT THERE when characters came to the edge of the stage--like they were four feet away and a few inches higher than us. Which also meant that like when Burr came up for the end of "Wait for It" I was kind of close to his junk. I mean, I could have looked up his nose I guess, but it was RIGHT THERE. *covers face in awkward embarrassment* "Aaron Burr, sir!!" (Sideways--where DO you look when that happens????)

~

Anyways. Feels. They were had. I'm trying to post helpful/thoughtful things on FB, and this has become at least two people calling me "Pollyanna" which irks me, though I don't deign to respond. Like, I feel like I can either boost the signal or collapse in despair, and I choose the signalboosting. So, that's me, I guess. I was rereading some of my old journals recently, and I had forgotten how scared I was when Bush was re-elected, and how I promised myself I would always stay and fight, no matter what, and I have recommitted myself to that promise. And I guess if my biggest sin is hope, well, there's worse, isn't there?
caitri: (Books)
We lucked out and got walk-in tickets to the new African American History Museum on the Mall. (They just opened in September, and its a timed ticket thing, and they are booked up for months and months, BUT if you go to the side-entrance starting at 1pm you can get walk-in tix on a first-come first-serve basis.) When we went in and got maps, they said it would take maybe a floor to do each level. Um, no. In the five hours we had we only covered 2 floors, because we're the kind of museum-goers who look at and read everything. The two floors we saw were 1400-1865 and Reconstruction-Civil Rights era, so we missed the floors on contemporary cultural impact and so on. They do it a lot like the Holocaust Museum, there's a forward narrative going on and you're meant to start at one point and finish at the other.

We saw some really brilliant stuff: There's a whole section on Jefferson with a statue of him in front of bricks that have the names of the families he owned on them. They have the manuscript pages of the first draft of the Declaration of Independence which ~does talk about slavery, but those parts were removed because so politically controversial at the time. There's a sample correspondence between Jefferson and Benjamin Banneker, a free black man who basically wrote to call him on his bs. They also had a really effective audio element throughout the display areas playing different loops of audio recordings, and in the 1800s section they played excerpts from recordings made in the 1930s with surviving former slaves who talked about what they had seen and survived. In the Civil Rights section, they had shards from the bombed Birmingham Church, a stool from a sit-in, Rosa Parks' dress, and so on. My A&M peeps will appreciate that in the Black Colleges section that there are several images and also cornerstones from the Prairie View campus, which made me happy.

My only nitpicks were that I thought that the galleries' design impeded traffic flow, which they clearly knew going in because there are several informational placards that are duplicated, like they didn't expect people to read everything. *huff* But for instance, in the opening gallery the narrative starts in a hallway labeled "1400" with Europe on one side and Africa on the other, so if you read one side and want to read the other you have to go against traffic to do so. There were also a number of labels that were placed at angles within the cases, which meant that unless you stood at a very specific part the edge of the case meant you couldn't read it, which is kind of lame because of the aforementioned traffic issue. And let's be real, with timed tickets and the way it's set up, there is always going to be a traffic issue, you simply can't dart in and out the way you can with the other history museums. That said, I understand why they did it, they wanted to create a whole narrative and tell a story, which makes sense, even if it irks me. Hopefully we'll get to come back and look at the rest of it in a few years; they also had at least one section that was still being installed altogether, with an entire train car to show what segregated travel was like; I imagine there's other unfinished stuff too that will be forthcoming. I also darted into the shop to see if they had any exhibit catalogs for sale, but not yet; they had a book about the history of trying to get the museum built, and a short souvenir book that was images of highlights and so on. I really hope the next time I go they'll have some catalogs!!

Some links:

Created Equal: How Benjamin Banneker Challenged Jefferson on Race and Freedom

(Library of Congress Audio Collections) Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories
caitri: (Default)
More pics forthcoming later, but today was Hamilton day! First we did the full pilgrimage, going to Trinity Church to see the Hamilton family and Hercules Mulligan's graves, then going to Federal Hall (the site where George Washington was sworn in; the original building is no more but they had the surviving stone balcony where he took the oath and gave the first inaugural address, and bonus! a printing press in an exhibit on the Zenger Case! much commentary forthcoming), then had lunch at Frances Tavern (site of a regular meeting place for the Sons of Liberty, one of Mulligan's hangouts, and where Washington held a farewell dinner for his officers at the end of the war, plus a little museum with a couple of exhibits and one of which was all about Lafayette), then went to the American Finance Museum (Scott can give TONS of commentary on that) to see the Hamilton exhibit. We hit the Hamilton store (because apparently you need it with that much demand) and got a light dinner, and then we SAW HAMILTON. YOU GUYS.

Okay so we were in second row center, which meant we were less than four feet from the stage, when the actors would come up for their big moments they were RIGHT THERE, it was amazing. Especially when at the start of act 2 one of the ensemble climbed out of the music pit to start and waved at us. I brought a bunch of tissues because despite having listened to it a million times for the past year and a half, I *still* tear up at the sad bits and figured it was gonna be worse in person, which, yes. I cried a loooooot. And in person, seeing the actors emote, I mean, the Hamilton actor was in tears throughout "It's Quiet Uptown" and that just starts the sympathy feedback loop. The new Burr is absolutely freaking incredible, as is the new Washington. We got the Hamilton alt but he was still excellent. Anyway at the very end I was among a number of still crying people and so when they took their bows the Laurens/Philip actor winked in our general direction; I like to imagine he went backstage and was like "we got a bunch of the fangirls again." But yeah, wow. Dude. WE SAW HAMILTON AND WAS AS AMAZING AS WE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE!!!!!!!!

caitri: (Status Not Quo)
Yesterday we went to go see August Wilson's Jitney, part of his "Century" cycle (ten plays for ten decades that REALLY need to get published in a collected volume). We've seen two other Wilson plays before, back when we lived in DC/Baltimore. Scott considers him the greatest American playwright, and wistfully wondered aloud why his plays aren't done more often. "Racism," I said flatly, because all the plays are about African-Americans by African-Americans; I want to say "for African-Americans too" even though I recognize that's hard to say given the whiteness of America's theater scene. But anyway, this was a Broadway production, so everything's best-of-the-best on top of the amazing writing, and just. Let me put it this way, the tears started in ACT ONE. Everyone.

We sat between a middle-aged black woman--who told us about how she got to see the limited run of Fences (another Wilson play) with Denzel Washington before the movie adaptation came out, and we were all TELL US EVERYTHING!!!!"--and two white dudes who were clearly theater buffs, but also one was having to explain to the other about how to take care of a newly-adopted cat and it was unintentionally hilarious (1. How do you get to be middle-aged without ever having interacted with cats before?? 2. Sample conversation: "And it keeps jumping on me in the middle of the night and biting my toes. What's up with that? It pisses me off!" "It's a kitten, it's playing with you. It might be cold in your apartment so it wants to be near you, too, so cuddle it.").

But anyway, I sat there watching the play, and the thing was, the decor of the jitney shop (jitneys are unlicensed cabs) from the early 70s looked **so much** like my dad's shop when I was little, it made me doubletake: there was the beat-up couch (the one on the set was tan instead of burgundy, and ditto the boss's office chair, which was otherwise like my dad's), the work desk, the magazine holders, the rotary phone on the wall. And the men onstage *sounded* like the men I knew growing up, too. And I mean, there's always intersections of race and class, but it was a feeling sitting there next to two white dudes who saw working class black folks and me seeing working class black folks who were my family growing up. (My dad worked with black folks all his life, and he was fairly dark-skinned too, which always makes my family's racism more bizarre and confusing to me, like, is this overcompensation or what???) And I wish I could articulate more about this in a more meaningful way, but it always strikes me that, for all of my current middle-class signifiers--academia, the ability to travel, and so on--there's a part of me that's still where I grew up and it is something that is going to be largely unseen by middle-class people around me, and part of this is because of whiteness and part of this is because, as a friend once said with a mixture of cluelessness and bluntness, I "sound educated." But on the flip side, there's also a bunch of--and I'll be blunt and say it--the classic white feminists who will tell me I "don't get it" because they assume things from my background that aren't there, and therefore have to ~explain to me things I already know which is it's own special kind of bullshit. But so, anyway, I'm watching this play that is like what I grew up with, the background and the nosiness of some people and other people trying to get by and so on, and it's just a rare thing when what you see is your real life and you know other people are watching a show.

~

Anyway, other things we did: We made pilgrimages to The Strand and to The Drama Bookshop where we mostly behaved; Scott got some more August Wilson plays (we have a bunch but it's always tricky to find them) and I got an oop anthology of SF women writers from the 1930s and 1940s, and a booklet of Hamilton-related stuff to sightsee, because tomorrow is going to be Hamilton Day for us. (Related: on Broadway, there is a Hamilton STORE for Hamilton merch. A whole STORE.) And today we spent at The Met, and I gotta say, I appreciate an institution that has so many antiquities that eventually they just stop making labels and put in computer terminals so you can look up objects by item number. But we got to see an entire Roman chariot, reconstructed ROOMS of Roman villas and Assyrian palaces, pieces of the Temple of Artemis from Sardis, an actual surviving garment from the Silk Road from the 7th c.--which also surprised me because it was a long tunic and boots that looked like they would fit a medium-sized modern person, which surprised me given how tiny most armor and such from the period is; ngl I'm enjoying pretending it belonged to a time-traveler. :)

But most of all the art has been an emotional restorative to politics. Even though the marches this weekend give me hope, I know we have a long, hard road to travel, and I think we can do it, but art helps so much. I was thinking about all the flack Amanda Palmer got for her piece on why we need to make art for the coming years, because I'm torn: one the one side, given the outright scariness and lunacy of TPTB, obviously art isn't enough, but at the same time art--making it and enjoying it and celebrating it--does help.
caitri: (This is Your Captain)
I love all the pics I've seen of friends at marches today. We're traveling on a long-planned, unfortunately-timed vacation, so it's been weird and guilt-inducing to see all my comrades standing up. What we did today was see Kinky Boots on Broadway, and while it didn't help any causes directly, it helped heal my broken heart a bit.

Scott and I saw a wonderful musical about how a businessman's mind (and life) changes when he befriends a drag queen and realizes he can save his family's ailing shoe business by aiming at a different clientele. All of the performances brought the house down, and it made me laugh and cry in good ways. The big finale is how your life can change if you change your mind and accept people for who they are. And it struck me, sitting there, that this is not only a message that TPTB need to get, but also that it would drive them crazy to see people enjoying art, especially art that fosters understanding and love, and also beautiful men in heels. And it also struck me that that too is behind their proposed attacks on art and education--these are things that *can* and *do* change people's minds, and that's what they are afraid of most.
caitri: (Status Not Quo)
The clocks are about to strike thirteen. I'm scared, you're scared, but when in doubt, quote Dune:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.


We're gonna get through this. It's going to take a lot of work and coming together, but we're gonna do this.

The Atlantic made an awesome video from Obama's speech about the origin of the "Fired Up! Ready to Go!" chant:


It's going to be a thing I quote to myself for the next few years.

So. Fired up? READY TO GO!
caitri: by blue_hobbit (Don't Go Where I Can't Follow)
So AHA (American Historical Association) had their yearly meeting in Denver this past weekend; there was a SHARP panel on teaching book history, which I had put in for last year and got rejected, but Todd and Kevin got accepted. Todd opted to come stay with us as we could take the bus to the convention center, which was great, so we got to work on our Early Modern Poet battle cards on the bus ride and then got registered and whatnot. To be honest the AHA program was one of the most boring programs I've ever seen; we met with Kevin and had coffee and talked book history for a while, then grabbed lunch and went to hang out in the exhibit hall, which was *great.* So many presses and publishing houses with sales; at the Penguin table, you could get a free book if you signed up for their newsletter, so I signed up and got their last copy of Shapiro's Shakespeare in America anthology, while at the Knopf table hardbacks were $10 and paperbacks were $3, so I got Alexander Monro's The Paper Trail and Tom Holland's Dynasty, and then made myself stop because conference bags were smallish if zippered and there was still a load of snow and ice outside. Then it was time for the boys' panel, which was boring except for them (I felt SO BITTER I was rejected), and then we grabbed dinner and then the bus home.

Saturday morning Todd and I worked on my press a bit; the problem was the bitter cold, and how that makes cast iron difficult to work with. It looks like the main problem I've been having is the throw-off lever, which needs to be loosened up, and we sprayed some liquid wrench into the bolts but could never quite get it going. Since Kevin has a C&P as well, we're talking about maybe meeting up in Utah and helping Todd take his press apart for a thorough cleaning so the two of us can see how it's done, then go home and replicate that on our machines. So hopefully that is something we can do or summer or early fall, and then in October all three of us hope to meet at the RBS Bibliography conference--Todd got accepted, I haven't heard back yet, and Kevin didn't put in for it.

Saturday afternoon we played tourist and I finally got to take Todd to my favorite spots in town: for afternoon tea at Dushanbe (where you book in advance and then they bring out one of those tiered serving dishes with scones and sandwiches and sweets, and where for reasons passing my understanding none of my local peeps was willing to go), and to my favorite secondhand bookshop where we spent several hours happily combing through the just-organized-enough-to-be-useful-but-unsorted-enough-to-stay-interesting piles of books. At one point the young desk attendant came over to us and anxiously asked if we were rare book dealers or "just" collectors. We reassured him that we were collectors, with me a poor grad student and Todd a librarian. "Oh okay," the man said with great relief, "I could just hear the knowledge when you spoke." And that became our running gag of the day.

The *other* gag of the day, though not running, was when we went to the nature shop that largely specializes in cool rocks, some fossils, knick-knacks fashioned from rocks, and science kits for kids. Anyway, on one of the tables was a case filled with perhaps 6-8 or so objects made of stone, about the size and length of a mechanical pencil, each shaped slightly differently and of a different stone. At first I wondered if they were part of the intermittent fashion for magical wands (usually for Harry Potter fans who can drop fairly serious money on a lovely useless object, or for wealthy hippies to do the same), and then I saw there was a placard identifying them as "personal massagers." Which...puzzles me? Because they aren't actually big enough to be terribly exciting in either orifice, being stone it certainly doesn't vibrate so it's not going to do much for your clit, and also being stone of various kinds I wonder overmuch about cleaning and safety, and frankly wish I had taken a photo to send to Can I Fuck the Thing? on Tumblr. I missed it but apparently Todd picked one up to inspect it, then saw what it was, and had an "Ack!" moment, which I regret not seeing because sometimes I'm a terrible friend who enjoys a good laugh at someone else's expense. Anyway, quel mystery.

And then Sunday I had to see him off to the airport shuttle, and so ends the holidays, and so begins the year in earnest. I saw a meme that had a picture of Captain Picard that said "Damage Report" and then the commentary was "How I start every morning in 2017" which seemed very real to my experience. I remain determined to fight for what I believe in; I remain heartened on how thus far Congress is bending to public pressure on various issues. I think every day for the next few years is going to be like this, and it will be exhausting, and it will be necessary. But I remind myself, yet again, that the majority of people *do* have consciences and brains, and are on the right side of history; I can't remember if it was Dan Rather or Bill Moyers who wrote that the dying mule kicks the hardest. So: Keep the faith, my friends!
caitri: (Default)
I'm backing everything up at dreamwidth because that seems like a sensible thing to do. I *really* don't want to lose my cozy internet home of the LAST TWELVE YEARS JFC but I don't want to lose my fic and whatnots either. (I've spent a ridiculous chunk of the morning trying out various designs and being happy with none of them, but oh well.)

Anyway, I fully expect this year to be rough and even frightening, BUT I also expect to spend the year fighting in the best ways that I can. Most often that seems to be in giving comfort and pep talks where I can, because here's the thing--most people are *still* on the right side of history, and most people *are* ready to shield the vulnerable, give hope to the hopeless, speak the truth, and make beautiful art. Evil only wins when good does nothing, and good seems to be pretty busy making resource lists and sharing news. Or as Liz Duffy Adams put it best, "Be the fire-breathing dragon you wish to see in the world!"

Take care of each other, kids. We can do this.
I'm feelin': hopeful hopeful
caitri: (mouse heart)
I've been busy this week finishing up holiday preparations and so on, and so on Solstice itself only had a private moment to think about it. Last night we had a Solstice Observed! party because Friday, and we had a goodly gathering of friends. We made a turkey and risotto and a buche noel (this recipe, you guys, omg!). I'd meant to say some words, but I got overwhelmed by getting stuff ready and people in and out and so on. Anyway, what I wanted to say was something like this:

The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, and we celebrate it because after the longest night, the light returns. And not only that, it gets longer and brighter every day. And so this year, right now, has been a very dark time--and frankly there are stirrings that it will get darker yet. But those of us who celebrate the light, we can hold onto it, we can fight for it, and we will keep the light alive, longer and brighter each day. Because that's who we are, and that's what Solstice means.

Probably as well I didn't actually say it--I'm not much for speechifying (though I'm awesome on paper), and easily moved, and probably no one wants a teary Cait when they are trying to eat. But it is still what I thought, and what I still think.

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