A Warner Brothers cartoon for the twenty-teens.
I hope that phone was a toy...
Remember that appalling Midsummer Night's Dream? Her Romeo and Juliet outdoes it in vulgarity.
"I see no reason why Shakespeare’s words should be screeched."
This production "roars and giggles and stamps its feet. ... The ball scene is engulfed in a chorus of YMCA; Romeo turns into the Columbine killer."
Thursday July 13
A Hero by Any Other Name.
Randee Dawn, Greer Gilman, Elaine Isaak, Kenneth Schneyer (leader), Tamara Vardomskaya.
Would Maleficent be less terrifying if her name were Suzy? Would Arthur Dent and Zaphod Beeblebrox have been able to have each other's adventures? In literature, names can serve as shorthand to imply a character's age, ethnicity, time or place of origin, and emotional and psychological makeup. This panel will explore the art and psychology of character names.
Friday July 14
Scott Edelman, Greer Gilman, Elizabeth Hand (leader), Rosemary Kirstein, Ilana Myer, E.J. Stevens.
In contrast to the bad influences panel from past Readercons, these panelists will discuss authors who were positive influences on their writing during their formative years. Who showed them what good worldbuilding is, what strong narration looks like, and how to deepen a plot with social commentary? Panelists will share, discuss, and praise their problematic and unmitigatedly awesome mentors.
The Deaths of Gods.
Martin Cahill (leader), Greer Gilman, Max Gladstone, John Langan, James Morrow.
In Philip Pullman's Golden Compass series, two children literally kill God. In Victor Koman's The Jehovah Contract, a hard-boiled PI is hired for the same job. Max Gladstone's Craft books and Robert Jackson Bennett's City trilogy explore the deaths of gods in polytheistic worlds. How do these narratives of mortals killing supposed immortals differ from ones where gods destroy one another? It's too simplistic to think of these as atheist narratives; how do they explore the power of belief, and the intrusion of incontrovertible fact into a belief system?
Saturday July 15
We Have Always Lived with the Magic.
Phenderson Clark, Greer Gilman, Victoria Janssen (leader), Kate Nepveu, Naomi Novik.
Guest of Honor Naomi Novik's Temeraire books take a slow and clever approach to a common issue with alt-historical fantasy: if magic has always existed, why have historical events gone essentially the same way that they did in our magicless world? Her focus on the familiar territory of Western Europe during the Napoleonic Wars gradually broadens to include other regions that look very different. This panel will examine this and other techniques for integrating magic into history, including using the appearance or reappearance of magic as a timeline divergence point, limiting magic or paranormal entities to a particular region of the world, portraying paranormal communities or magic-users as hidden and secretive, and entirely reinventing history from the Neanderthals on up.
Reading: Greer Gilman.
Greer Gilman reads from a work in progress.
Sunday July 16
Sororal Friendships in Fantasy.
Greer Gilman, Naomi Novik, Julia Rios (leader), Tui Sutherland, Fran Wilde.
One of the central relationships in Guest of Honor Naomi Novik's novel Uprooted is between the heroine and her best friend. Agnieszka and Kasia were raised together and have a deep bond that is explored throughout the novel. This depiction of female friendship is unusual in fantasy fiction and gave rise to much discussion (and no small amount of fanfic from fans who either wanted to see more of the friendship or felt it ought to have been a romance). This panel explores sororal friendships in fantasy and the ways they can alter or comment on familiar tropes such as the maiden in the tower and the questing band of brothers.
Besides excellent company, there was a lavish repast: lobster! along with the classic trinity of hamburgers, hot dogs, and potato salad. There was Virgil's root beer (and other potations). There was home-made—though not hand-cranked this year**—strawberry ice-cream. (To every season, churn churn churn...) spatch and sovay had made a perfectly cloudlike angel cake with sharp lemon curd and whipped cream. Sublime!
Fox was having a perfectly amazing afternoon, meeting in swift succession their first spoonful of strawberry ice cream, their first slide whistle and first bongos, their three-year-old cousin's trampoline***, and their first (architectural) step, which they handled triumphantly, clambering both down and up
*Or maybe Royal Copenhagen.
**The replacement crank was still in transit.
***They can just about stand for a second or two without a handhold, before going boom, but they were eager to *J*U*M*P*.
It's proper to the Eton-Harrow match, so totally Lord Peterish.
I had mine in the Radcliffe garden on a bench by the fountain, watched by a quizzical tapestry-rabbit, on a flawless June day. The irises and peonies have nearly all gone by, but the roses are in full cascade.
But they’d lost ground of late. Last season, they did A Winter’s Tale with so few players that Mamillius had to be a small voice off. Doesn’t work. (The best local Twelfth Night I’ve seen had a wonderful grave child with a teddy bear, who haunted Leontes’ soliloquies.) The ASP Hamlet last fall was swallowed by the church they played it in; their Tempest (with Prospero and Milan cross-cast) had a sadly weak Miranda and Ariel, but an absolutely cracking Caliban/Stephano/Trinculo trio. I was getting worried.
But they’ve come back amazingly this spring. They did a stunning bath-house Edward II, with “Vndique mors est” painted starkly on the wall behind the audience.
And I’ve just come from a lovely little Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by the Revels veteran Patrick Swanson, in which the double and triple casting works like a marvellous toy. Oberon and Titania/Theseus and Hippolyta, of course; but also Egeus/Bottom and Philostrate/Puck; and a quartet of endlessly inventive young actors as the lovers and the rude mechanicals and their Pyramus and Thisbe avatars and the fairy court. (The downside being that they can’t snark at themselves in their play.) All excellent, but I was much taken with two new players. Equiano Mosieri is a scarily enticing Oberon, all menace and mischief. Monica Giordano as Snug is the epitome of all Helena’s insecurities; but just at the end of her performance you see her lose herself in Lion, batting and blowing and inhaling that mantle with a kittenish ferocity. When she steps back, she’s glowing like a child with joy. Steven Barkhimer is most of an utterly fantastic Bottom (his me-thought-I-had is played by someone else’s arm, upholding an apple which Titania bit). And he plays the bones, duetting with Titania on finger cymbals. Bliss.
The rest of the music is a cello in the gallery, and songs (their “Philomel, with melody” setting is lovely). There’s no scenery, except a rollaway bank-whereon for the FQ and Bottom; the effects and properties are goofy, the magic flowers being trick bouquets, and Peaseblossom &c. being puppets. Hermia’s dream, though, is amazing: a serpent made of fairies, advancing through and through each other’s legs.
A young girl (nine? ten?) I spoke with in the intermission had had her parents bring her back a second time: “This is my favorite play in the world.” That’s doing Shakespeare right.
Three more performances, Saturday and Sunday
I bought a subscription to their upcoming “Downfall of Despots” season. I hope it works.
A skipper who looked 25 or 26 placed tobacco in “a suspicious looking object, sucked and then breathed out smoke”.
He had a “scarlet woollen coat” with “cuffs embroidered with gold thread and the buttons were silver-plated”, which was “a thing of great beauty, but as clothing it was gaudy”.
The skipper gave instructions to a crew that “in accordance with what appeared to be some mark of respect” followed orders to remove their hats “to the man, most of them revealing balding heads”.
They “exchanged words amongst themselves like birds twittering”.
A dog on the ship “did not look like food. It looked like a pet.”
Another samurai chronicler called Hirota noted the crew offered gifts including an object he later drew, which looks like a boomerang.
One sailor bared his chest to the disguised samurai to reveal a tattoo of “the upper body of a beautiful woman”, Hamaguchi wrote.
Another produced “a big glass of what appeared to be an alcoholic beverage and indicated that we should drink”.“We declined by waving our hands, upon which they passed the glass around themselves, one by one tapping their heads as they drank to indicate the good feeling it brought them, and finished the lot.”
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 ..run" and "paper ... publish.") I didn't follow them to MIT for the gathering of the awesome, as I was meeting folks here.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”