I have had this letter at the top of my to-do list for weeks, but when I finally sat down to write it, I couldn't really think of any reason to do it. You have years and years of this tag and so many previous letters if you're the sort of person who wants to dig really deep, and if you're not, you can stop reading now and go back to just my sign-up.
I could go into great detail about where to find the fandoms I requested and so on, but let's be honest, that would be almost entirely for people who might want to write me treats, not for you.
(Although super-quick: all the links you need for Mr. Trash Wheel are in this entry downtag; Njal's Saga is a medieval Icelandic saga which you could probably get a doctorate in but didn't so all I can suggest is gutenberg or a good modern annotated edition of which there are several in many languages, or if you're really ambitious, you can listen to all 12 Njal's Saga episodes of the SagaThing podcast, which is what motivated me to request it. But also I think of stories as old as Njal's saga as living stories rather than a fixed canon so if you want to just find a good summary and work from that, that would be a-ok with me; Murderbot Diaries is so far just one novella, All Systems Red by Martha Wells that came out this year and is probably available at your local library; Girl With The Silver Eyes is a kids' novel from the '80s that is probably not still at your local library but is definitely on Amazon for cheap, at least in the US; and the Barbara Hambly are both many-volume historical mystery series that are still being published, although I would be ok with side-character fic based on characters that only appear in the first volume of either.)
I could also go into great detail about why I like these canons, but you don't actually need thousands of words of rambling about the fundamental essence of Baltimore and urban solarpunk; or about the parallel roles of Hannibal and Simon in re: the construction of Whiteness and classical monsters as racial metaphors; or the performance of gender and honor in medieval Scandinavia; or about the portrayal of neurodivergence mediated through otherness in SF/F stories; and anyway if I did all that it would be totally misleading because really my reaction to these stories is more GIANT GOOGLY EYES and CHEESE CSI and TALKING CATS and SANCTUARY MOON and I read all the Hambly in a month straight while ill last year so really mostly I just LOVE IT ALL on a very shallow and inarticulate level.
I could go into more about my DNWs but honestly my DNWs are usually more about the spirit of the story than the details so it would be just as likely to make you worry about things you don't need to worry about.
(but real quick: please no environmentalism doomy doom for Trash Wheel- post-apocalyptic would be fine but make it hopeful and optimistic no matter how unrealistic that seems sometimes these days; please no doomy doom for Njal either, like, we all know how it ends, it's in the damn title, but he lived to old age which is pretty much a happy ending given the odds for a saga hero and a lot of other stuff happened before that; for Murderbot I think I covered it pretty well in the letter; Silver Eyes and Hambly I'm pretty much good with whatever as long as it's in the spirit of canon more or less and you're careful with the more sensitive bits of the history in Hambly.)
I could give you more prompts but you read my sign-up; do you actually need more prompts? I mean, let me know, I have plenty, but I kind of suspect you are begging me for fewer prompts at this point.
(Crossovers always good, setting-swap AUs also good, the weirder the better, outsider POVs and background characters always good, worldbuilding and setting always good, basically anything in these canons is fine?)
Anyway here is a link to my previous post of my sign-up just for convenience, it is slightly cleaned up with a few more prompts at this point: Yuletide signup
Most importantly, have fun! I promise nothing you write can ruin yuletide for me.*
*That's not a dare. But you would have to try pretty hard to manage it. Truly.
A conservative woman says, "me too.
Tom Hanks suggests that we all read history.
Why use which font? And I happen to like Comic Sans and hate Helvetica, fwiw.
Jimmy Carter wants to go to North Korea to negotiate.
Is your browser giving someone else money?
Cat In A Tree Rescue. A friend called them this weekend and they were great.
In 1956, a movie fan magazine published an expose about casting couches. It didn't go well.
Three take-aways from the contraceptive mandate/religious liberty debate.
Congress wants to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, again. Never mind that it would disrupt and probably destroy wildlife environments, and very likely destroy the Gwi'ichin people, who live just over the border in Canada and whose lives depend on the Porcupine Caribou herd's migrations. There's a link to a petition here at the bottom. Must I point out that the Gwi'ichin people have been there at least 10,000 years and possibly longer, since the ice age had a hot spot up in that area where megafauna thrived?
One of the undocumented Dream young women has been seeking an abortion and the Trumpists won't allow it. Till now. A judge has ordered the Trumpists to let the immigrant minor have the required counseling session and an abortion.
Approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline was illegal, so rules Federal Judge James Boasberg.
Medieval herbal manuscript available online.
A booklist which includes Tropic of Cancer and Little Women:
And some of those are Very Long Important Novels but some of them are quite short, and not even short in the sense of 'compressed and elliptical and dense'.
And some of them are challenging reads on account of subject matter but others, really, not so much I would have thought.
And, generically, quite a mishmash.
But a list that includes Clarissa and Coraline?
Okay, some of those books look like set texts that people had to struggle through and then found worth the journey, but others, presumably, are not the kind of books that feature in lit courses.
And some are even in the category I would have considered rattling airport reads...
And then the piece in blue was not part of Inktober, it's just a gouache painting of those thumbnails I did week 1. You can't really see in the photo, but the shadows on the ... robot thing are iridescent also.
( more thoughts )
( this seemed... too big, so I'm going to cut some of this )
And then last night my innards were in upheaval, a situation that continued for a substantial part of today, and I was not feeling like food or cooking it.
Oh dear, another blooper from David Mitchell in this week's Observer New Review.
Or, at least, a classic case of writing about something before reading it properly.
The first was that Cambridge University lecture timetables are being labelled with “trigger warnings” about the plots of various literary works, including The Bacchae and Titus Andronicus. So English literature undergraduates are being protected from the knowledge of, among other things, what one of Shakespeare’s plays is about, in case it upsets them.That is so not what the furore about this that I saw across my bits of social media was: what I saw was the push-back against the elitist assumption that eny fule already no that Titus Andronicus contains murder, rape, mutilation, and involuntary cannibalism (not to mention massive amount of racism).
And trigger-warnings aren't about protecting people from the knowledge that works of art contain disturbing material: they're precisely about letting people who haven't yet encountered them know that they contain material some people may find upsetting. Like the warnings you see at the beginning of a movie, just so you know what you're letting yourself in for.
And I'm really not sure that one can assume general cultural familiarity with one of the less-produced of Shakespeare's plays (the one that suggests that, had he been writing in the 1960s, he'd have been working for Hammer Horror - while some of the early comedies suggest also possibly moonlighting for the Carry On films, but I digress). Okay, there has been a movie version of the play itself, and Theatre of Blood alludes to it in one of the vengeances taken against the critics of the protag. But I doubt it's all that well-known to the individual on the Clapham omnibus.
What's particularly fascinating is the way in which it's directly correlated with people wanting to support news organizations as a way to resist Trump:
“The big boost we saw in subscriptions in the U.S.,” Newman said, “is driven by people on the left and younger people are more likely to be on the left. That is really a lot of what’s driving it: young people who don’t like Trump who subscribe to news organizations that they see as being a bulwark against him.”
Keep up the good work!
I was thinking how I came up against that wall around the same age, a bit earlier, and went looking for "world" stuff or just anything not English, US based, "western culture" wanting to see anything possible. Anthologies were good or looking by specific country or ethnicity. I would root through any library or bookstore. Encyclopedias too. The indexes of books were super instructive. It took just years for me to have any real handle on the depth of the problems of histories but it was clear from the beginning that A LOT WAS WRONG. I didn't go into that (right now it is better if I listen to him than talk about my own thoughts)
Anyway! I'm so, so proud of Moomin and his excitement about scholarly things. I feel like no matter what he does in life he will have that kind of love of books and knowledge and stories.
He also really loved Gilgamesh so I am going to show him those awesome debates online between Hoe and Plough, Fish and Bird, etc.
Also when he said he thought of me in relation to her feeling like she is walking on knives..... i actually think of that sometimes so that kind of touched me.
He is also reading Gilgamesh and some Bible stuff for philosophy class and seems to be keeping up in his other math class! So nice to have him here even for a day. <3
Biking to work, I chose the longer path - the quieter one with much less traffic and more nature, and I pedaled and remembered and tried to memorized and then found myself slipping into a far more mundane mindset. Worrying about one more piece of bad news seen on Twitter. Thinking about the books I'd just finished. Flashes of annoyance at other cyclists and the not-quite-rain that slowly soaked my jeans and then vanished to leave me sweating in the rain gear I'd changed into under an awning.
In the office, I alternated between answering the kind of queries I've been dealing with for over four years now, and training my replacement, and tidying up my desk for the new PhD student who is starting on Monday.
I spent quite a while ripping out the wire spine of notebooks both big and small. All those to-do lists, all the meeting notes, all the bolded emergencies and quotidian scribbles that was the past fifty or so months all sunk into the maw of the confidential waste bin, down to the last page in my last notebook that had the day's tasks listed on it. The wires almost all went into the office bin, except one I sculpted into a scraggly heart and gave to my IT tech buddy who teared up back when I first told her I was leaving. (When I went up to turn my work pass cards in I saw it taped to the IT office door.)
There were the last of many thousand cups of tea and hundreds of lunches from the M&S and then the first of many hugs.
I wrote the traditional departmental farewell email, and teared up.
I cried hugging the postdoc who is one of the sweetest men I know, and then we laughed talking about his future puppy and my current cats.
I didn't cry hugging the director, but I was deeply moved that he took time out of a schedule I have tried squeezing meetings into often enough that I know how very full it is to see me and the young woman who is taking over my role in his office just to say goodbye to me and to welcome her. And yes, he did hug me, and I'm so glad I got the chance to thank him because I've always been grateful to work somewhere with such a positive and supportive culture. (My replacement was mildly astonished - she said on her last day, the director of her old department had popped in to ask her office a question and had blanked on her name...)
Somehow morning cycle and lunch and cleaning and hugs turned the day to evening and I was walking hand in hand to my wife to a pub - apprehensive and anxious because I am uncomfortable in pubs and dislike being the centre of attention - where she and I were both having our traditional goodbye drinks.
There were more familiar faces, including two professors and my manager and some of my favorite postdocs and it was a small but cheerful gathering at the end of the row of tables reserved by my wife's much bigger party and people kept wanting to buy me drinks and I forgot to be anxious as attention drifted away from myself and (half shouted - I still dislike pubs) conversations sprang up around the table and then there were hugs and farewells and the crowd thinned and somewhere along the line I got such an emotional series of hugs and parting words from my manager that I feared one of us would burst into more tears. I just didn't know which one of us it would be.
My manager... we've had a working relationship with ups and downs, from excellent teamwork to stormy misunderstandings, but I've always respected her for her sharp skills and professional dedication and done absolutely no socializing, but yesterday she hugged me with the kind of emotion I've only felt parting from my dearest friends.
Four hours passed in that dreamy way it does when strong emotions and drink mix, and I had some excellent conversations and some really boring conversations and really hit it off with one of my wife's favorite coworkers and then hunger (and pity for me) finally led my wife to take me home and I relaxed the control I'd been exerting over my seeming sobriety and sunk into giggly exhausted drunkenness that stretched into sleep and then nightmares and restlessness and left me kind of groggy with an emotional hangover and very real headache for the better part of the daylight hours today.
It only really cleared up with a walk outside carrying the cats in their carriers (we're getting them used to it for the move) and liberal applications of tea and Yuri on Ice (and then the Chihoko stage drama and some of the amazing FS programmes from the Rostelecom cup).
The suitcase is out.
Tomorrow I pack and leave.
Monday I'm back at work in Sweden.
Then more days and weeks and then that will be home, and it will be normal, and all of this will be a memory fading with time.