nineweaving: (Default)
After our chilly wood-near-Athens spring in which the blossoms lingered in a trance of green, and everyone had shocking colds, it was (quite obscenely) 100º today.  The skies have just opened and I went out and danced—rather wimpishly, under the portico, as I think there was hail mixed, and some fine fierce lightning banging away like Jove's stapler.  I refuse to be spatchcocked by the gods.

nineweaving: (Default)
At Mount Auburn, the Sargent crab is in flower.





And look who's hanging about the graveyard...


nineweaving: (Default)
I turned out in the piercing cold and wet—worthy of August in the other Cambridge—for the April March for Science.  [personal profile] gaudior  brought the little Fox, who wore the very best sign of all:  Test Tube Baby.  Sproglet and sign were universally, intensely admired and adored, which plaudits they wore lightly, until it all became too much and they crumpled.

Earlier, I'd dropped by the Harvard rally, which had some rousing speakers, and an acapella protest choir called Vocal Opposition.  They did a fine old job with "Big Yellow Taxi," and sang the Aristotelian elements ("There's earth and air and fire and water—") before launching on Lehrer.  They ended with "If I had a theory, I'd test it in the morning..." (Followed by "data" and "paper ... publish.")  I didn't follow them to MIT for the gathering of the awesome, as I was meeting folks here.

Cool hats:

Double helices cabling in the knit.  The designer is ChemKnits.

Cool signs:

[The resistance zigzag.]

A lovely earth in the heavens saying "WTF?"

Eppur si muove.

Protest Our Planet, It's the Only One* with Chocolate.  (*we know for sure)

Beautiful chalk portrait of earth with arrow:  I'm With Her

There Is No Planet B.

What do we want?  Science funding and functional pockets in women's clothes!

Half-lives matter!

Alternative facts are [square root of -1].

Got polio/smallpox? Me neither.  Thanks, science.

Revolution! [with old-style graphic of the ascent of man getting to Trump and turning back in disgust]

[Gorgeous bee-patterned design]:  Science gives me quite a buzz!

Less invasions, more equations.

I was told to bring a sine.

[Disapproving white bear]:  Science shouldn't be polarizing.

Saw some awesome mad scientist outfits, and a treeful of people in white labcoats.





nineweaving: (Default)
I'm here. It took three days of queuing just to get the last few weeks of comments from the Other Side imported.

nineweaving: (Default)
Oh good. The Telegraph reports that the book is being transcribed. Meanwhile, for your puzzling pleasure:







nineweaving: (Default)
The notebook of a 17th-century scholar—with comments on Shakespeare— turned up on Antiques Roadshow. The appraiser's hands were trembling. Mine would be.

ETA:  A longer clip is now up at the Antiques Roadshow site.  More page views.  The notebook is bound in a page of an old music manuscript.

nineweaving: (Default)
As a librarian, I had the blissful privilege of access to the University's online treasure-house:  the OED, the Oxford DNB, the full Early English Books Online (what's open to the public is a pitiful shadow), the Ben Jonson archive, &c., &c.   For years now—ever since my late august employer cut me off—I've been getting up from my comfy chair, getting gloved and booted, and trudging off to the library at all hours to Look Things Up.  Great exercise, but the ruination of shoes.

The OED, thank heavens, is accessible to holders of a British library card number, which I've borrowed from kind friends.  But the lack of EEBO when I want it has been a perennial frustration.

Fortunately, I've just learned that a subscription to the excellent Renaissance Society of America (thoughtfully scaled to income) buys access to some fabulous online resources, EEBO and all.  Many of these are freely available to all (it's well worth clicking, just in case); but others are not.  And who could resist  such temptations as The First Book of Fashion? the Proceedings of Old Bailey, 1674-1913? the English Broadside Ballad Archive? the Database of Early English Playbooks?   I've been running around gleefully jingling my keys.

It's raining little shards of ice out there.  And I can sit at my own desk with a nice cup of tea, and read this stuff.  Bliss.


nineweaving: (Default)
I was hoping for a Hotspur of a blizzard; but no.  This one's Falstaff in the laundry basket, humped, heaped, and untidily bundled.  There's a large bluff wind, booming shapelessly.  The sky is sizzling with ice; the trees are hurling down clods, like a bombardment in a squirrels' war.  The snow is all pocky.  It's a bust.

On the up side, I don't think this will blight the fruit trees.  Last year, there were no peaches in New England—no stone fruit at all—and the apples were stunted.  Frost-kill.

I loved those small apples though—the perfect size, like pippins

nineweaving: (Default)
Looking for something else, I stumbled (as one does) on a Latin Glossarium Zemblanum.

What isn't in the aether?

“Its gilt key turned reluctantly. All three shelves and the space beneath were stuffed with disparate objects: a palette with the dregs of many sunsets; a cupful of counters; an ivory backscratcher; a thirty-twomo edition of Timon of Athens translated into Zemblan by his uncle Conmal, the Queen’s brother; a seaside situla (toy pail); a sixty-five-carat blue diamond accidentally added in his childhood, from his late father’s knickknackatory, to the pebbles and shells in that pail; a finger of chalk; and a square board with a design of interlaced figures for some long-forgotten game.”


nineweaving: (Default)
Here's Michael Swanwick's tale of that tightrope-act we did at Boskone, and more:

Yet somehow Greer and I made it fly. Part of it is that we work well together. Part of it is that we respect each other. Part of it is that we're both deeply read in genre fiction. And part of it is that at least one of us (but I suspect two) has the gift of bullshit. People told us we were brilliant...

Make that a pair of jacks.

I like the snapsnot taken at my reading, an epitome of what the...?

"...nothing up my sleeve..."


nineweaving: (Default)
It was a pleasant Boskone, temperate of weather and collegial in spirit.  It was good to see old friends and new young faces, which Boskone of late has sadly lacked.  Let’s hope the revival goes onward and upward.  We are so fortunate to have three cons here in B—:  Arisia, electrifying and exhausting, a nightlong circus; Readercon, intense and cerebral, the engine that drives me from July to July; and Boskone, old-slipperish, a little shabby, but of lineage. 

It has an excellent con suite, which is also the green room, providing:

75 dozen hard-boiled eggs, with condiments;
a golden Alps of bread, with all sorts of butters and jams;
endless, always hot coffee, tea, cocoa.

I brought my own tea (black Yunnan); I brought chocolate.  I can live on that for a weekend; though I wish clementines were still in season.

And thank heavens for the largesse, because this con’s in the Westin Way-Beyond, and there’s nowhere else around to eat, and usually a howling Siberia between the hotel and Chinatown.

Boskone has always had a most excellent art show, leaning toward large pieces by established artists—great oaks—but with a good mix of the up-and-coming in the underwood.   It’s noted for its access to collections—this year’s special exhibition was a century (at least) of illustrations in black-and-white:  Hannes Bok, Walt Kelly (Pogo), Charles Addams, the Dillons....

The dealer’s room is not quite the bibliophile’s delirium it is at Readercon, but it has many more bookstalls than at Arisia, which tends toward chotchkes:  plushies and bondage gear, plushies in bondage gear, steampunk goggles, clockwork oranges...

I bought a stunning scholarly folio, lavishly illustrated, at rather less than half price:  Here Be Dragons:  A Fantastic Bestiary, by Ariane & Christian Delacampagne (Princeton University Press, 2003).  Haven’t yet read it, but it holds an unusual and thoughtful gallery of images, many quite new to me, from many cultures:  ancient and contemporary, sacred and vernacular, all gorgeous.  

Ruth Sanderson was there with her stunningly beautiful edition of George MacDonald’s odd numinous fairytale, The Golden Key

The programming was solid and engaging this year.  There were one or two things every hour that I wanted to hear, and (fortified with strong tea and egg sandwiches), I thoroughly enjoyed some good conversations on (among other things):  Pros on Prose; Non-Linear Narrative, an excellent history panel; one straight from the heart on the importance of libraries (now more than ever); My Gateway Book; Great Ghost Stories, &c., &c..

I heard only three readings, all excellent:  Theodora Goss, with her memoirs of the daughters of the great mad scientists (the piece she read was by Justine Frankenstein); Margaret Ronald, with a good, thoughtful, sciencey story; Jo Walton, doing Mansfield Park on Mars.

And I managed to keep my end up on my own events, thank heavens.

Achilles Needs a Heel: The Problem With Power

I’m rooting for the grass, I said, to break through the pavement.

Poetry and Performance

Moderated by Bob (“Spoken Like a Gentleman”) Kuhn, who asked for a brief verse bio; I supplied:

Tiptree, World Fantasy,
Greer, of the Gilman kind,
Writes—and has written of
Jonson and Cloud;

Gives airy nothing a
Life and a larynx, in
Ink, and aloud.

Panelists were each to do a brief piece; and as it fell out, I was to follow three showstoppers:   C. S. E. Cooney, being vibrant and  gypsyish; Ada Palmer and Lauren Schiller, singing deep myth in complex harmonies; Linda Addison, rocking out in dreads.   All I had were words.  I gave them a brief bit of “A Crowd of Bone” where narrative changes to performative ritual:  Whin telling a death.  I couldn’t say how well it went over—there was at any rate, applause—but afterwards Bob (who knows whereof) said it was well-spoken, with good control, and good timbre.  That made me very happy.

Design Your Own Mythology

Lively and hilarious.  (Doyle, Bear, Friesner, Sarah Beth Durst.)  My takeaway:  When building a mythology, you need to ask “What do my people fear? What do they desire?”  Belief must not be decorative:  if you yourself can't sense the numinous, if you can't imagine a cult enwoven in the daily lives of your characters (Doyle:  "the Spiderian altar guild"), then your world will be flat. 

Reading by Greer Gilman

I had just three listeners:   but they were Michael Swanwick and Marianne Porter, and my old friend Sarah Thompson who curated that fabulous Hokusai show at the MFA, and they were marvellous.  

How Stories End

In the penultimate hour of the con, this turned out to be a dialogue between me and Swanwick, three others having fallen off:  a very nice thing, if only we’d known beforehand.  Still, we managed to tap dance.  I found myself babbling about favorite styles of ending:  “The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo. You that way: we this way” and how Bertie surrenders his purple socks.  We talked about how the endlessness of Discworld is so much more satisfying than your endless (n-1)-logy, unfolding like a bolt of a fabric, whump whump whump.  Prachett’s work builds in space-time:  it fits together like a puzzle map.  We talked about arrowy SF; we talked about fantasy and infinite regret; about how LOTR closes door after door:  from the great gates, down to the Sam’s round wooden one, with the fire within;  “Well, I’m home.”  We talked, of course, about further in, about Narnia and its discontents, and Little, Big.  It was a lovely ending to the con.

Can anyone remember what novel I called “a bildungsroman for the planet”?


nineweaving: (Default)
Woman's voice:  May I speak to Nineweaving? (impressively)  This is Alice Lloyd.

Me:  On what business, please?

Voice:  (portentously) To speak to Nineweaving.  Are you his spouse?  (in the voice of Ozymandias)  This is Alice Lloyd.

Me:  I'm afraid you have the wrong number.

Voice:  (business-like) I'm sorry.  Please confirm this number, and I'll remove it from the list.


What the hell was that?  Was she hunting down her daughter's seducer, crossing off names as she went?  As far as I know, I am the only Nineweaving in this country.

And why did she introduce herself as if she were Nemesis?  From her intonation, she was expecting me to fall flat in the dust, whimpering.

There's an Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky, but I didn't go there.  I don't think I owe them back tuition.

Or maybe this Lloyd had glad tidings of great joy?  I'm reminded of Octavia Butler's story of being called by the MacArthur Foundation and thinking they were trying to sell her something.

So who do you think Alice Lloyd is?  Any scenarios?


nineweaving: (Default)
Huzzah!  They're doing this year's Boskone blizzard before the con, so we can shovel out.  I can't remember how many Boskones I've panelled at, but it must be getting up toward 25.  This year's posy of panels:

Achilles Needs a Heel: The Problem With Power
Friday 19:00 - 20:00
Michael Swanwick, Greer Gilman, Paul Di Filippo, Vincent O'Neil (M), Brendan DuBois

Would Achilles be as valiant if he were truly invulnerable? (Or, instead of dying a tragic hero, would he still be acting like a psychopathic adolescent 30 years after Troy?) Can power without vulnerability keep your interest? Do some stories turn into mere puzzle pieces about searching for the chink in the protagonist's armor? What sorts of weakness make the most engaging heroes or heroines?

Poetry and Performance
Saturday 11:00 - 12:00
Linda Addison, C. S. E. Cooney, Ada Palmer, Bob Kuhn (M) , Greer Gilman

Reading a story aloud and reading a poem aloud take different skills. Or do they? Our panel of poets proffers tips and advice on performing poetry. They will also share some of their own poetry for your listening pleasure.

Design Your Own Mythology
Saturday 15:00 - 16:00
Esther Friesner, Greer Gilman, Elizabeth Bear, Debra Doyle (M) , Sarah Beth Durst

What goes into mythmaking? Panelists share their experiences in creating mythologies and pantheons — offering up dos and don’ts, tips on resources, and things to think about as you try creating a coherent mythology of your own.

Reading by Greer Gilman
Sunday 13:00 - 13:30
Greer Gilman

How Stories End
Sunday 14:00 - 15:00
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Michael Swanwick (M), Greer Gilman, J. M. McDermott

Heinlein often rushed his finales. Planet of the Apes ends with a truly monumental twist. Rowling took seven books to set up the boss fight with Mr. Slitsnout. What’s your favorite finish? How do writers finesse the final strokes of their stories? How do readers respond? (Warning: by definition, this panel is Spoiler Central.)

Why on earth am I not on Words Have More Than Meaning?  Not to blow my own ophicleide, but I'm rather a recognized expert on such.


nineweaving: (Default)
Coming down into the T out of a furious slush-storm, I heard a small, sweet, smudgy voice, the perfect timbre of the thirties, like a ghost.  She had to be illegal:  the licensed buskers all have amps, they have assured performance and repertoire.  Some have real talent. Other just have loud.  No wheedling here.  This lady rambled—not quite like an un-self-conscious child with her mind elsewhere, but like the woman in the corner after closing time, conversing with the past:  here I am.  Here we are. You couldn’t tell whether this were a sad song in a hopeful voice, or a cheerful one sung poignantly.  Actually, I couldn’t recognize her song at all, neither mumbled words nor tune. Yet everything about her style said remember, which gave it all the oddest air of alien nostalgia, like hearing the old standards of an alternate history

She turned out to be a short ashes-of-roses bundle of a woman, with a cart full of other bundles, and one of her hats turned upward for the coins.   “Lousy day, innit?” she said.  I agreed, and fed the hat paper.  Stepping away as she went on, I caught a clearer word or two, and suddenly realized what she’d been singing all this while:  “You Are My Sunshine.”  

I turned round, and as if encouraged by the recognition, she began “Over the Rainbow,” in a haze of feeling, a light-dividing mist.  Again, not a note fell where it ought to—she didn’t even follow the contours of the tune—but every scattered note was pretty-ish.  They had a sort of smutched purity, like raindrops on a drooping clothesline.  I applauded.  And as if she’d conjured them, down the platform came two young bearded fellows from the Outdoor Church pulling a neatly-made, well-laden wagon.  They offered her (and a sudden small cluster of other homeless folks) a choice of sandwiches (I liked that) and no sententiae.  I hope there was coffee.

Then the train arrived.


nineweaving: (Default)
“Don’t say ‘learn ‘em,’ Toad,” said the Rat, greatly shocked. “It’s not good English.”

“What are you always nagging at Toad for?” inquired the Badger, rather peevishly. “What’s the matter with his English? It's the same what I use myself, and if it's good enough for me, it ought to be good enough for you!”

“I’m very sorry,” said the Rat humbly. “Only I THINK it ought to be ‘teach ‘em,’ not ‘learn ‘em.’”

“But we don't WANT to teach ‘em,” replied the Badger. “We want to LEARN 'em—learn 'em, learn 'em! And what's more, we're going to DO it, too!”

Thinking both of cosmic justice and the niceties of grammar, a friend asks:  Why can’t I say, “He’s got to be smote”?

God-s computer.JPG

Because it’s ungrammatical:  smite smote smitten is conjugated exactly like write wrote written.

Jane wrote a letter.

God smote a sinner.

A letter was written.

A sinner was smitten.

In contemporary English, smitten is the only correct past participle form of smite—and that’s that.  Nowadays, it’s all but inseparably linked with love—Oooh, he’s smitten—and it just sounds foolish when we speak of righteousness.  Yet smitten has an ancient and resounding history:
Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched foorth his hande against them, and hath smitten them: and the hilles did tremble, and their carkeises were torne in the midst of the streets: for all this, his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still—Isaiah 5:25.

And the fourth Angel sounded, and the thirde part of the Sunne was smitten, & the third part of the Moone, and the third part of the starres, so as the third part of them was darkened: and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise —Revelation 8:12.

There’s good secular stuff as well (all OED):

1610:  His head smitten off, and the truncke of his body throwen into the fire.
c1650:  For when his leggs were smitten of, he fought vpon his stumpes.
1668:  A Dog Barketh, & Baugheth, being smitten Yelpeth.
1820 (Shelley):  Six the thunder has smitten, And they lie black as mummies.


In his Dictionarium Linguae Latinae et Anglicanae (1587), Thomas Thomas defines percussus as “Striken, smitten, beaten, hit, wounded, murdered, blasted, striken with lightning.”

In John Florio’s A World of Words (1598), he glosses the Italian Battuto as “beaten, smitten, striken, knockt, thumpt, bumbasted, threshd.”  Bumbasted!  Now that’s more like it.  Cupid was rougher in those days.

Nonetheless, to some discerning modern ears, smitten is flimsy.


The LORD GOD “Who smote the first borne of Egypt: both of man and beast.”


All the fourth form were simply smitten with Miss Baxter, who smote the ball for six.

Smitten is giggly and coy.  It’s kittenish.

Whereas smote hath gravitas. It has authority and weight.  It nails it:

"Then Iael Hebers wife, tooke a naile of the tent, and tooke an hammer in her hand, and went softly vnto him, and smote the naile into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: (for he was fast asleepe, and weary;) so he died."—Judges 4:21.
In a famous crux, Old Hamlet “smot the sledded Pollax on the Ice.”

Milton’s Cain

Smote him [Abel] into the midriff with a stone
That beat out life; he fell, and deadly pale
Groan'd out his soul with gushing blood effus'd.
Smote is the chosen verb of tempests and Arthurians:

Down came the storm, and smote amain the vessel.

He rode a-tilt and smote the scaly Dragon.

I smote you with heate, blastinge & hale stones.

Kyng Arthur..smote hym ageyne with Excalibur that it clefte his hede.

Thenne Geffray smote hym the giant with his swerd.

He hurled vnto sir Tristram, & smote hym clene from his sadel.

I caught him by his beard, and smote him.
You may read in a thousand tales how X smote Y on the helm, through the neck, in the eye’s socket, “vnder the fift ribbe,” “hippe and thigh.”

Now look at smitten.  In 170 citations in the OED, beings and things are smitten with admiration, amazement, various diseases, charms, an absurd patriotism, love, giddiness, death, the blonde beauty, sorrow, Lavinia Orthodox, some withering and irreparable curse, muteness, mussel-poisoning, the Eternal Mind, an aria.

What happened?  The inflected word was taken over by the figurative.  One can be struck with something impalpable—an idea, an infatuation.   If swords and hammers smite, then so does lightning.  So does love.  Pepys was among the first to use it of lust.  By now, smitten has migrated to the metaphorical, all but entirely; smote remains archaic and physical.

What’s to be done?  I fear that smitten cannot be restored to its ancient vigour:  languages don’t work that way.  One could of course avoid the passive, not say,”the government was smitten by the people,” but “the people smote the government.”  But that’s restrictive as a work-around.  Why not embrace what people want to say?   “He was smote” was perfectly good English from the 15th through the 18th centuries.  I suggest that it be revived—and that smite be divided in two.   There’s some vanishing distinction made in English between struck and stricken (struck with a hammer; stricken with guilt).  Why not distinguish between smitten and smote, between besotted with her charms and clobbered by her handbag?

Young Corydon, with Phyllis smitten,
Woo’d with flow’rs—got the mitten.
Bold Hobbinol on her did dote,
Tried kissing her—was soundly smote.

By widespread, active, thoughtful usage, English-speakers everywhere could forge a new distinction between smitten and smote.  They will of course be corrected by pedantic grammarians; they will be edited; they will be mocked.  But if thousands do this?  “Friends, they may think it's a movement.”  And if precisians object, we can always cite Melville:  “The ship's forecastle bell, smote by one of the grizzled oakum-pickers, proclaimed ten o'clock, through the leaden calm.”


nineweaving: (Default)
How do I friend-lock on Dreamwidth so it carries over to LJ? I don't think the two circles are all the same people. When I select "Custom" on the drop-down menu, I do see my LJ sub-groups appearing, so maybe "Access List" just works, but this is something I'd hate to screw up.

Page generated 25 September 2017 01:24 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios