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The Annotated Tam Lin

November 7, 2016

Tam Lin.jpgOne of my favorite books is Tam Lin by Pamela Dean. Not only is this book based on a ballad I really like, but it’s also an amazing fantasy novel that is simply stuffed with references to other books.

The basic story centers around Janet, a student at Blackstock College in Minnesota in the early 1970’s. She and her roommates get involved with an unusual melange of characters from the drama and classics departments. They trade witty banter and Shakespeare quotes back and forth and it all seems like a fairly typical college coming of age story.
However, things are not quite what they seem. Something is rotten in the Classics Department and it all seems to be focused on the unbelievably beautiful Thomas Lane.
The book follows the major beats of the ballad faithfully, but transcends into something quite special.

As I mentioned, Dean has packed huge numbers of references to other books, plays, and texts into this book. And when I was in college I set out to record them all. And thus was the Annotated Tam Lin born. It was handwritten and illustrated with pictures cut out of magazines, comics, and trading cards. I spent most of New Year’s Eve 1999 writing out quotes in glittery gel pen.
Alas, the green cloth bound sketchbook that I used has gone the way of all flesh and vanished in one of my many, many moves. So, I’m now recreating it online. At the moment, it’s housed over on Tumblr at the Annotated Tam Lin. I’m hoping once I have everything collected again we can get it hosted at Tam Lin Balladry, which is an awesome site if you’re at all interested in the story of Tam Lin. Just to give you an idea, in Chapter 1 alone, I had 24 references to track down. This book could double as a liberal arts degree if you actually read all the works referenced.

Here is the text of the best known version of Tam Lin, Child Ballad 39A

  1. O I forbid you, maidens a’,
    That wear gowd on your hair,
    To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
    For young Tam Lin is there.
  2. There’s nane that gaes by Carterhaugh
    But they leave him a wad,
    Either their rings, or green mantles,
    Or else their maidenhead.
  3. Janet has kilted her green kirtle
    A little aboon her knee,
    And she has broded her yellow hair
    A little aboon her bree,
    And she’s awa to Carterhaugh
    As fast as she can hie.
  4. When she came to carterhaugh
    Tam Lin was at the well,
    And there she fand his steed standing,
    But away was himsel.
  5. She had na pu’d a double rose,
    A rose but only twa,
    Till upon then started young Tam Lin,
    Says, Lady, thou’s pu nae mae.
  6. Why pu’s thou the rose, Janet,
    And why breaks thou the wand?
    Or why comes thou to Carterhaugh
    Withoutten my command?
  7. “Carterhaugh, it is my own,
    My daddy gave it me,
    I’ll come and gang by Carterhaugh,
    And ask nae leave at thee.”
  8. Janet has kilted her green kirtle
    A little aboon her knee,
    And she has broded her yellow hair
    A little aboon her bree,
    And she is to her father’s ha,
    As fast as she can hie.
  9. Four and twenty ladies fair
    Were playing at the ba,
    And out then came the fair Janet,
    The flower among them a’.
  10. Four and twenty ladies fair
    Were playing at the chess,
    And out then came the fair Janet,
    As green as onie glass.
  11. Out then spake an auld grey knight,
    Lay oer the castle wa,
    And says, Alas, fair Janet, for thee,
    But we’ll be blamed a’.
  12. “Haud your tongue, ye auld fac’d knight,
    Some ill death may ye die!
    Father my bairn on whom I will,
    I’ll father none on thee.”
  13. Out then spak her father dear,
    And he spak meek and mild,
    “And ever alas, sweet Janet,” he says,
    “I think thou gaest wi child.”
  14. “If that I gae wi child, father,
    Mysel maun bear the blame,
    There’s neer a laird about your ha,
    Shall get the bairn’s name.
  15. “If my love were an earthly knight,
    As he’s an elfin grey,
    I wad na gie my ain true-love
    For nae lord that ye hae.
  16. “The steed that my true love rides on
    Is lighter than the wind,
    Wi siller he is shod before,
    Wi burning gowd behind.”
  17. Janet has kilted her green kirtle
    A little aboon her knee,
    And she has broded her yellow hair
    A little aboon her bree,
    And she’s awa to Carterhaugh
    As fast as she can hie.
  18. When she came to Carterhaugh,
    Tam Lin was at the well,
    And there she fand his steed standing,
    But away was himsel.
  19. She had na pu’d a double rose,
    A rose but only twa,
    Till up then started young Tam Lin,
    Says, Lady, thou pu’s nae mae.
  20. “Why pu’s thou the rose, Janet,
    Amang the groves sae green,
    And a’ to kill the bonny babe
    That we gat us between?”
  21. “O tell me, tell me, Tam Lin,” she says,
    “For’s sake that died on tree,
    If eer ye was in holy chapel,
    Or christendom did see?”
  22. “Roxbrugh he was my grandfather,
    Took me with him to bide
    And ance it fell upon a day
    That wae did me betide.
  23. “And ance it fell upon a day
    A cauld day and a snell,
    When we were frae the hunting come,
    That frae my horse I fell,
    The Queen o’ Fairies she caught me,
    In yon green hill do dwell.
  24. “And pleasant is the fairy land,
    But, an eerie tale to tell,
    Ay at the end of seven years,
    We pay a tiend to hell,
    I am sae fair and fu o flesh,
    I’m feard it be mysel.
  25. “But the night is Halloween, lady,
    The morn is Hallowday,
    Then win me, win me, an ye will,
    For weel I wat ye may.
  26. “Just at the mirk and midnight hour
    The fairy folk will ride,
    And they that wad their true-love win,
    At Miles Cross they maun bide.”
  27. “But how shall I thee ken, Tam Lin,
    Or how my true-love know,
    Amang sa mony unco knights,
    The like I never saw?”
  28. “O first let pass the black, lady,
    And syne let pass the brown,
    But quickly run to the milk-white steed,
    Pu ye his rider down.
  29. “For I’ll ride on the milk-white steed,
    And ay nearest the town,
    Because I was an earthly knight
    They gie me that renown.
  30. “My right hand will be gloved, lady,
    My left hand will be bare,
    Cockt up shall my bonnet be,
    And kaimed down shall my hair,
    And thae’s the takens I gie thee,
    Nae doubt I will be there.
  31. “They’ll turn me in your arms, lady,
    Into an esk and adder,
    But hold me fast, and fear me not,
    I am your bairn’s father.
  32. “They’ll turn me to a bear sae grim,
    And then a lion bold,
    But hold me fast, and fear me not,
    And ye shall love your child.
  33. “Again they’ll turn me in your arms
    To a red het gand of airn,
    But hold me fast, and fear me not,
    I’ll do you nae harm.
  34. “And last they’ll turn me in your arms
    Into the burning gleed,
    Then throw me into well water,
    O throw me in with speed.
  35. “And then I’ll be your ain true-love,
    I’ll turn a naked knight,
    Then cover me wi your green mantle,
    And hide me out o sight.”
  36. Gloomy, gloomy was the night,
    And eerie was the way,
    As fair Jenny in her green mantle
    To Miles Cross she did gae.
  37. At the mirk and midnight hour
    She heard the bridles sing,
    She was as glad at that
    As any earthly thing.
  38. First she let the black pass by,
    And syne she let the brown,
    But quickly she ran to the milk-white steed,
    And pu’d the rider down.
  39. Sae weel she minded what he did say,
    And young Tam Lin did win,
    Syne covered him wi her green mantle,
    As blythe’s a bird in spring
  40. Out then spak the Queen o Fairies,
    Out of a bush o broom,
    “Them that has gotten young Tam Lin
    Has gotten a stately-groom.”
  41. Out then spak the Queen o Fairies,
    And an angry woman was she,
    “Shame betide her ill-far’d face,
    And an ill death may she die,
    For she’s taen awa the bonniest knight
    In a’ my companie.
  42. “But had I kend, Tam Lin,” said she,
    “What now this night I see,
    I wad hae taen out thy twa grey een,
    And put in twa een o tree.”

Review: Doctor Strange

November 6, 2016

img_0293So, Saturday  I went to see Doctor Strange at the IMAX theater in Tuscaloosa. I met up with one of my friends for lunch and then the movie.
Non-spoilery impressions – It was fun. It’s definitely in the lower tier of Marvel movies for me, but it’s still a fun Marvel movie, which puts it above most movies that aren’t Star Wars, The Princess Bride, or Lord of the Rings.
The music was… there? I guess. I have absolutely no memory of it outside of the four licensed songs. The score made absolutely no impression on me either positively or negatively.
The special effects are beautiful! I did see the film in IMAX 3D, which probably enhanced the effects, but the 3D wasn’t too obtrusive, which I prefer.
I did have one small problem, which could have been the theater, the 3D glasses, or the fact that I wear glasses too, but anything outside of the center of my vision was blurry. It wasn’t unbearable, but it was slightly distracting.


Ok, let’s talk about casting.
doctorBenedict Cumberbatch as Doctor (not Mr. not Master, DOCTOR) Strange
Eh. He was ok. I know this might draw down wrath upon me, but I’m not a huge fan of his. I thought he did great as Smaug. I don’t really watch Sherlock.
Here, I thought he was fine, but he didn’t shine. He’s playing a blindingly intelligent, but cold, and arrogant surgeon.
And it’s hard not to compare him to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. He’s just… not on the same level in any of the categories. Tony is smarter in his own way. He’s more intelligent. And he’s faster with the funny.
Doctor Strange is fine, but I wouldn’t want to hang out with him.
tilda-swinton-doctor-strangeTilda Swinton as the Ancient One
This is the casting call I was really hesitant about. On the one hand, I love that a woman got cast in a traditionally male role. On the other hand, a white woman got cast in a role that in the comics is filled by a Nepalese man. So, that’s problematic. But it would also be easy to fall into the “inscrutable Asian mentor” stereotype too. Which would also be problematic.
I think Tilda Swinton did an amazing job in the role, but I never thought she would be less than stunning. She’s an amazing actress. At the end of the day, once I got into the movie, I wasn’t hugely upset about it. They’ve changed the character so that she’s a Celtic sorceress who became the Sorcerer Supreme after the previous Sorcerer Supreme fell. In the end, I was ok with it, but I can only speak for myself. If someone else is bothered, I totally see where they’re coming from.
madsMads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius
He was very good. The role is slightly underwritten, but he fills it really well. He’s creepy and charismatic without tipping over into melodrama. I don’t now anything about his character from the comics, so I don’t know anything more than I got in the movie, but that was enough. He has several acolytes that follow him around, but he’s absolutely the focus when he’s onscreen.
baron-mordoChiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo
Ok, he looks great. His role is to act as a foil to the Ancient One and then Strange. He’s always good in his parts, but he’s playing a very rigid character here. So I don’t have too much to say about him. His fight scenes are pretty cool though. SPOILER – I look forward to seeing where the character goes next.
wongBenedict Wong as Wong
I loved Wong. Rather than playing Strange’s butler as he does in the comics, he’s the librarian at Kamar-Taj. He’s mostly the straight man for Doctor Strange’s attempts at humor. Honestly, he would probably be my favorite character if it weren’t for…
The Cloak of Levitation played by… The Cloak of Levitation!
Best. Character. Ever. I would like a plushie of it now.
dr-palmerRachel McAdams as Dr. Christine Palmer
Honestly, having her as a colleague of Doctor Strange’s is fine. But –

-having  her as a theoretical love interest was just kind of boring. It was also odd that she seemed to be able to perceive portions of the mystical shenanigans going on that other people were oblivious to. Why? That was never explained. And I don’t know if she’ll be back in later films or not. She wasn’t nearly as concrete as Pepper or Jane or Peggy. But, we’ll see, I suppose.

If you’re interested then I recommend going and seeing it. Go to a 3D show if they work for you. It’s very pretty!

It’s Not All About You

November 5, 2016

I’m taking a slack day today because I went to see DOCTOR STRANGE and now I’m excite , but sleepy. So have a cool poster and I’ll put up a review tomorrow. 

Bucket List

November 4, 2016

I’m snagging today’s idea from my friend Clair. Clair is a professional writer. She has good ideas. I have… insomnia?
Seriously though, this summer and fall have been full of stress and health issues and surprises at work and it’s all led to me getting very unfocused. So, I thought this might be a good time to stop and reassess what I’m looking for in the world.
Years ago now, Emma Newman decided to crowd fund some wishes. Which was possibly the best idea anyone has ever had in the history of the internet. Or, at least it was for me.

I filled out the form and here is what she put up on the page for me:
Sara is wishing for a piece of jewellery made by her to be worn by someone at the Hugo’s or Academy Awards, to finish her novel and get it critiqued by a professional in the industry and to be on the SF Squeecast (I can definitely relate to that desire).2013_hugos_writing_excuses

Mary Robinette Kowal actually helped me out with two of those wishes. She wore a piece of mine to the Hugo’s at which she and her co-hosts won for their podcast Writing Excuses. Later, at the Writing Excuses Retreat I got to fill in for Mary during a Writing Excuses episode. It wasn’t the SFSqueecast, but it was super, duper awesome and definitely filled out one of my wishes.

I’ve also finished a novel since then and have had an agent look it over. She ultimately passed on it, but it’s much further than I really ever thought I’d get. So, check mark for that wish too.

But, all of those goals were set over three years ago. So, it’s time to look at the state of things…

What the FolkloreSFSqueecast is on an indefinite hiatus, but I still have hope that maybe they’ll have a reunion show and I can be on it. ^.^
In the meantime, I’ve found other podcasts I love just as much, most notably Kevin & Ursula Eat Cheap and What the Folklore. I’d love to guest on either of those, but I doubt that’s likely. But, it’s a bucket list, so I might as well put one or both on it.
I’m still hoping to get published someday. So, I’ll put that up as a bucket list item. There are several publications I’d love to get work in, but first I have to produce something I feel is worth submitting. I’m… working on that.
Last, I’d like to get my jewelry business to a point where it’s self sufficient. I don’t necessarily want to quit my jobs and go full time, but I’d like to turn a steady, if small profit on it. So, I need to get a business plan for that. It’s not quite as easy as casting my wishes out into the ether. But, that’s ok.

So, what is on your bucket list these days?

Review: Snow White

November 3, 2016


What I’m Reading: Snow White by Matt Phelan
Published By: Candlewick Press, September 2016

This is a graphic novel retelling the classic Snow White story in 1920’s New York. The year is 1928. Everything glitters and shines and it always will.
The Players: Samantha White, adored daughter who has been sent away to school.
The Stepmother, the so-called Queen of the Follies, star of the Ziegfield Theater.
Mr. White, Samantha’s father and the King of Wall Street.
indexThe book is almost all in black and white with just occasional splashes of red. The story is pretty much what you’d expect from Snow White, but most of it is told without words. Entire pages will go by with just one or two word balloons.

I really liked this book. It’s not probably one I’ll go back to frequently, but it’s stuck with me since I read it. The illustrations are beautiful and nuanced. I read Phelan’s Around the World last year and was very taken by the illustrations.
I especially loved the way the book opens. The NYPD investigating the mysterious appearance of a young girl in the Macy’s Christmas window display. It’s an amazing image.
If you’re a graphic novel fan, I highly recommend this one.

Book Review – A Study in Charlotte

November 2, 2016


What I’m Reading:
 A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Published By: Katherine Tegen Books, 2016

A Study in Charlotte is a modern, YA novel that features Jamie Watson, rugby player and descendant of that Dr. Watson meeting up with anti-social, drug using Charlotte Holmes at a prestigious New England boarding school. At first, Jamie doesn’t know how to approach Charlotte although he desperately wants to. Luckily for them the campus problem is found murdered and Holmes and Watson are the two primary suspects.
The killer has set the murder up to be reminiscent of one of Holmes and Watson’s famous cases – The Adventure of the Speckled Band. As the current day Holmes and Watson continue to investigate the murder they have to contend with fear from the other students, distrust and suspicion from the police, family difficulties on both sides, and worst of all, their own uncertain relationship, all while the murderer continues to plant clues taken straight from Dr. Watson’s memoirs.

I ended up rating this book a 3/5 on Goodreads. It just didn’t quite work for me. I liked the premise, but I felt like the author tried to jump through a few too many hoops to make things work out the way she wanted them to.

First – Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes were real men. Dr. Watson wrote down his reminiscences of the cases he worked on with his friend. But, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also exists in this universe as either the publisher or the collator of the memoirs, I didn’t quite get that part.
Second – Charlotte is a little too much exactly like her forebearer. She is anti-social, blisteringly intelligent, a drug user, yet still a respected consultant for Scotland Yard. As a teenager. Jamie, on the other hand, is pretty much just a dude. With anger issues. That’s… it. He doesn’t have any sort of previous relationship with the Holmes family or special skills. He’s just a guy who has always wanted to meet Charlotte because she’s the only Holmes close to his age.
I get that Jamie is supposed to be the audience cipher, but it doesn’t work very well set next to Charlotte. At least, not for me.
Third – I know too much about actual police procedure, so none of the parts with the investigating detective worked for me. And yes, I read mysteries all the time, so I know how actual procedure gets bent like a pretzel for the sake of the plot, but again, this book tried a little too hard to have it both ways. Jamie and Charlotte get special treatment, but they also have a by-the-book detective to deal with.

It’s tempting to hand-wave all my problems with the book by saying, “oh it’s YA, so none of that matters.” But I’ve read YA that does all of this sort of thing in a way that makes me happy, so that just doesn’t work. I don’t think this is a bad book, it just wasn’t a good book for me.
If you did like it, then you’re in luck! The sequel, The Last of August, comes out next year.

November is Packed

November 1, 2016

It’s November. There are all kinds of things going on and I’m in the middle of several of them.nano

NaNoWriMo has started. I’m going to give that a try again this year. I’m working on a Fairy Tale ABC this year. So, it’s not really a novel, more a collection of short

#bloglikecrazy is also happening. This is a challenge that was started by an awesome woman here in Birmingham. Javacia is an inspiration! She’s got her own blog, WriteousBabe, and is also the founder and editor of See Jane Write.
Blog Like Crazy is a daily blogging challenge for November.img_2697
I’m also doing the #grimdragon November Challenge. This is abook-based photo challenge over on Instagram. It’s hosted by grimdark_dad and the_infinite_book_dragon. There are daily prompts and most of the participants put together elaborate vignettes. Mine aren’t that impressive, but I did the October challenge and had a ton of fun.
Today’s prompt is: GOALZZZ! November TBR Pile.

makeoverWhich, leads me to the last, and most exciting part of November – Dan Wells has a new book coming out on November 15. And my bookstore is hosting the launch party!
Extreme Makeover starts off with a health and beauty company that has accidentally created a lotion that can overwrite your DNA. Naturally, the executives think they have the best product on the market. Who wouldn’t want to use a lotion that could turn them into someone else?
The various governments around the world see a way to create the perfect soldier. And then recreate them again and again.
And that is what apocalypses are made of.

We’ll be having Dan at the store to do a signing and chat with folks. I also went to LUSH and they gave us some lotion samples to give out. 100% guaranteed NOT to alter your DNA in any way!
If anyone would like a signed, personalized copy of any of Dan’s books shipped out, you can call ((205)870-7462) or email the store ( to place an order.

MIGHTY JACK by Ben Hatke

August 1, 2016



What I’m Reading: Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
Illustrated By: Ben Hatke
FirstSecond, September 6, 2016

Ben Hatke has once again created magic in his fifth graphic novel. I’ve talked about my love of Zita the Spacegirl and Little Robot before. Mighty Jack is actually the first of his books with a male protagonist, and he’s a fantastic one.
Jack is a regular kid with an unusual situation. His mom has to work all the time, so Jack has to take care of his sister Maddy. Maddy is autistic and doesn’t ever speak.jack 2

Except, one day, at the flea market, she does. She tells Jack to buy a box of seeds. Which he does, by trading the family car.
If you know Jack & the Beanstalk, you’ve got a pretty good idea where this is going… Jack and Maddy plant the garden and what grows is nothing like they’ve ever seen. Giant snails, moving plant people, magic power producing peppers; the garden has them all. But magic never comes without a price and Jack has to make sure that Maddy isn’t the one who pays it.

I loved this book and I cannot wait until I can share it with everyone! The folks at FirstSecond were nice enough to send me a review copy, and, the best part: BEN HATKE IS COMING HERE IN SEPTEMBER!!!
We’ve got some school visits and then a signing at the Homewood Public Library on September 29! I’m so excited about this, you have no idea!



2nd & Charles Haul

July 30, 2016

I went to 2nd & Charles today for a Bioware fan meet up. It was pretty awesome to hang out with some of the super-cool people from Magic City Con. However, since we were at 2nd & Charles hanging out in casual cosplay, I brought out the four bags of stuff I had to trade in. (Mostly DVDs I just don’t watch along with some books from my last major book purge.
I got a very nice amount of store credit, so I picked up some stuff.
First up, Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum. This is one of the Oz books that can still frequently be found, but usually only packaged together with a few of the others.
Then, Comics!!!

The Unbelievable Gwenpool, two issues of the Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy crossover, which I didn’t know was a thing! And another issue of Lumberjanes. So happy! In line with the comics purchase, I also got a pack of the DC Bombshells playing cards. I’ve already got the tradepaperback of the comic and a poster for their Wonder Woman. (I have strong feelings about this line.)img_1513

Then, from the clearance section, I found this:

I don’t really know what I’m going to do with it, but it was $2.00. Maybe I’ll use it as research for a story. Or I may just look at it, but I couldn’t pass it up.

Other than that, I also got two Disney toys because I like toys. They’re mystery vinyl figures and I’m saving them for when I need a pick-me-up, so I don’t know what they are yet. AND! I still have $15.00 in credit for next time. I shall have to contemplate what to spend it on…

Pokemon Go

July 19, 2016

Everyone else has had a Pokemon Go post, so here is mine.

I started playing a little over a week ago. I’m very lazy about it though, so my Pokemon are not especially impressive. But, I’ve got the three available eevee evolutions, so I’m pretty happy.

The bookstore is a pokestop, which helps a bunch since I haven’t had the time to go walk much.
So, why am I, an adult woman, playing Pokemon Go? Well…
I like to collect things.
I like things that look like they would make adorable stuffed animals.

ingressYeah… that’s basically it. They’re cute and I can get medals for collecting them.
I also enjoy Ingress, which is Niantic’s previous augmented reality game. So the idea of wandering around with my phone up and then doing specific stuff at random locations isn’t really new to me.
The idea is to get more exercise. And it kind of works. A little bit. Hopefully, with two games that encourage walking, I’ll actually start to get a reasonable amount of exercise.

What about you? Are you playing either of these games? Or something else entirely? (One thing that’s great about both games is that you can listen to audiobooks while the game apps are open. I got through a couple of chapters of Stiletto on my last poke-hunt.