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The Heart and the Bottle

November 10, 2016


With everything going on in my own life and the country at large, I decided to re-read The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers.

This is a picture book about a little girl who loses someone important to her. And it hurts so much that she puts her heart in a bottle. But you can’t lock your heart away without losing a huge part of who you are.
And once you’ve lost that part, you may not be able to get it back on your own. Luckily, there is another little girl who can help her out.
This book has been personally important to me. It came out in March of 2010. My Dad got diagnosed with cancer in February of that year. The Sunday before the book actually came out I was looking at it in the back room of the store and it was exactly what I needed. In the face of my Dad’s mortality, I had to remember not to protect myself so much that I lost myself.
fullsizerenderSo, I did what any early 30-something would do. I got a tattoo. I took the book to an artist that afternoon, pointed at a picture from it and said, “I need THAT.”
So, he gave me that picture.
This tattoo broke all my rules. 1) I have to think about a design for a year before I get it. 2) No color. 3) No tattoos that would be visible in your average ball gown. (No, I’ve never worn a ball gown. But I thought I might someday.)
It’s in color. It’s on my wrist. And I got it two hours after I’d seen the image for the first time.
It’s been six and a half years. And I’ve never regretted it, but I’ve definitely needed to refer to it more than once.
Which brings us to today.
A friend is gone. And I need to remember that I can’t avoid other people just to avoid feeling like this again.
My country is not what I was hoping it was. But I need to remember that you have to get up and keep going.
This doesn’t mean don’t practices self-care. Absolutely do! Protect yourself. But don’t protect yourself so much that you end up damaging yourself.
And remember, sometimes the best stories are in the smallest books.

You Matter

November 9, 2016
While I was agonizing over election results early this morning a friend decided to take her life. I don’t know what brought her to that point, and I may never know.
We weren’t close.
We had never met in person.
But she was a friend.
Now she is gone.
She mattered.
She will be missed. There are many people coping with that today. Many who are much more qualified than I am to speak about her.
So I will speak to you.
You matter.
You would be missed.
I don’t care about the things that divide us all right now. You matter. You would be missed.
If you are having a hard time, please, reach out. Reach out to a hotline, another friend, to me.
I will help in any way I can.
Because you matter.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
To Write Love On Her Arms – To Write Love on Her Arms is a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.
The Trevor Project – 866-488-7386
The Trevor Project is focused on preventing suicide in the LGBTQ+ community. In addition to their 24/7 hotline, they also have texting and online chat that have slightly reduced hours.
Trans Lifeline – 877-565-8860.
Trans Lifeline is aimed at specifically at the transgender community. All of the people who work there identify as transgender.
Veterans Crisis Hotline – 1-800-273-8255
The Veterans Crisis Hotline is a resource for veterans and their families. They also have a 24/7 chat option.
The Crisis Text Line – text 741741
This is a text only hotline that is available 24/7 in case you feel you cannot talk on the phone to someone.

Thanks to for the list.

It’s like Christmas!

November 8, 2016

It’s Election Day here in the US. I’ve voted. I hope you have too. And that’s all I’m saying about that.

The other exciting thing that happened today was that my boxes from DK arrived! Last year, I participated in an advisory panel of librarians and booksellers. And as a thank you, we all got books for our libraries! So, I have a mega-haul of new books to take into the CMS library on Thursday and it’s awesome! DK has amazing non-fiction books as well as all your Star Wars needs. So, I hope I got a good selection the kids will like. 

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?