CONFESSIONS OF A PIANO DEMON
Artistic Demons 2
by Irene Radford
Music defines Margot Tremayne’s soul. She thinks best when her hands caress a piano keyboard, but all music eludes her since a demon crushed her hands on the eve of winning a prestigious international piano competition.
I don’t attend many conventions, and most of the ones I do appear at are local. The last couple of years have presented me with more opportunities. Some have involved a bit of driving and staying either with a friend or in the convention hotel. This year began with one such, FogCon in March. I’d enjoyed last year’s so much, I found a friend to share the hotel room with.
Usually it takes me a while to settle back into my usual schedule after a convention. For one thing, I normally move more slowly through my days, and conversations with family and close friends, while often rich in ideas, are more slowly paced, with lots of pauses to listen deeply and reflect on what has just been said. So I need to “revv up” the pace for conventions and then “spin down” afterward.
This year was not going to cooperate with that principle. I got a good long rest after FogCon, but then back to back conventions in May.
Oh dear, look at her — she’s getting -creative- again. I can’t help it. I just do these things sometimes.
This particular vortex was set off by the Diana Wynne Jones conference, in Bristol August 9-10 this year. Since in conjunction with the appearance of the Edge to Center trilogy I plan to go to Worldcon in Dublin it was relatively easy to add this to my schedule. And there will be dressing gowns, because Christopher Chant, the wizard in the Chrestomanci novels, is noted for his wildly opulent leisure wear. These things are a challenge, a gage flung down by Life, and I try to always pick them up and enter the lists. Even if it gets very weird indeed!
So, a dressing gown. What should it look like? Here are some inspirational images, after the jump:
I’ve been thinking a lot about reparation. I have not yet come to any conclusions, and will no doubt be pondering and thinking on this more and more.
First, reparation is ‘paying back’ descendents of slaves in America. And other places, but I’m talking America here. But my problem with paying back, and this is why it’s in single quotes, is that paying back isn’t a matter of money. Or it is, but that’s not all. It’s far more complex than that. But how do you pay back for suffering? For torture? For the splitting up of families? For rape? For being treated like an animal? For being treated like vermin? How can money ever be enough?
Second, what can be done beyond money for reparation? Real equality, real equal opportunity, real end of racism–these are the beginning. But how to accomplish that when racism is so very rampant in our culture and seems to be not only getting worse, but growing more acceptable in some areas? It isn’t bothering to hide anymore. That’s good to an extent–you can put out the fires you can see. But bad in that it’s not afraid to hide. It’s feeling strong and defiant. Continue reading
I have been reminded that I promised my reader more about Washington DC Omni Shoreham Hotel “Ghost Suite”. So, despite my poor record-keeping, here is Part 2.
The story goes, according to the hotel flier, that shortly after 1933 when the Doherty’s occupied the 8thfloor suite—and stayed there until 1973—tragedy struck.
The Doherty’s housekeeper Julia (or Juliette) Brown was a hotel employee—the Executive Housekeeper. She oversaw the care of the family, doing whatever Executive Housekeepers do. Although the exact date of her death is not known, the story goes that late one night, she attempted to call the front desk. When a hotel engineer went up to the Doherty’s 8th floor suite, he found the phone speaker lying on the floor, having fallen from the dead housekeeper’s hand.
Henry Doherty was not a lucky man. His step-daughter Helen Lee Eames Doherty, reported as either an adoptee or as the daughter of Grace, his wife, was introduced into society at a gala event exceeding all expectations, causing a stir in Washington DC elite in the volume of guests, food and drink and a lot of Depression-based criticism. Interestingly, the debut was staged not at the Shoreham but at the Mayflower Hotel, a posh establishment near DuPont Circle.
Join Thor and me as we tackle another twisty, steep coastal road to visit a Venetian tower and the archaic Dionysos Kouros.
NOTE: Since our recent trip to Greece to research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT, Thor and I knew we had to return to this magical region. My first entry in this new blog series posted here on Saturday, 10/20/2018. It gives an overview of our rambles from Athens to seven islands in the Dodecanese and Cyclades groups, ending our ferry-hopping pilgrimage on the anciently sacred island of Delos.
Time for breezy fresh air, but we’ll finish our museum tour in a later post. With valiant Thor at the wheel, we drove along the rugged north coast in search of the giant, unfinished kouros lying in an ancient marble quarry. You may recall from our previous visit to Naxos that we found two of the smaller, unfinished kouros statues farther inland. These statues typically represent naked youths standing in a set pose, like this larger-than-life-size example in the Athens museum. Continue reading
(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)
Because I love tall ships, when I thought about water travel, my thoughts immediately leapt to sailing. But that’s fairly advanced technology, in the grand scheme of things; our initial efforts were (and are) much more humble.
Unlike last week, I’m not going to start by extolling the virtues of swimming. We can do it, but we’re not very good at it, so as a mode of travel that’s pretty bad. Especially since being in the water exposes you to lots of dangers ranging from predators to hypothermia to drowning. You’re much better off with some kind of vehicle to assist and protect you.
I get lots of political surveys these days asking me what my priorities are. Of course, they are actually fundraising appeals with a survey tacked on to make them look more substantial.
Mostly I throw them in the trash, but every once in a while I look at them first. And then I throw them in the trash, not only because they describe key issues in such generic terms as to be meaningless but also because they omit the one item that should be number one on the list of everyone worldwide.
The climate crisis.
The climate crisis is the 800-pound gorilla of modern life. It matters to everyone and it affects everything. But we’re not talking about it nearly enough. Continue reading
(the following Rant has been modified for Adult Language from the original, but it hasn’t been defanged entirely, and contains blunt talk about impolite things. Proceed at your own risk)
Happy Pride Month!
I’ve only recently encountered the subgroup commonly known as TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), and my first, second, and third reaction was, bluntly, “get the f*ck out of my face with that bullshit.”
I mean..what the f*ck?
Gender isn’t a clear-cut binary, as anyone who has ever actually observed humans is well-aware, and most of what we consider a gender attribute is actually culturally-imposed stereotypes. And dog knows sexuality is, in a word, complicated.
Very f*cking complicated, if you’ll forgive the pun.
As best I can figure it, my parents bought the Barn when I was not-quite 5. What they bought was a sturdy, shabby Victorian farmhouse, a double barn (two barns built together, one old enough to have pegged joints, the other somewhat newer), several ramshackle outbuildings, and 180 acres of land–about 60 of it meadow, the rest on the mountain behind the barn.
All my father really wanted was the Barn to play with, as he put it.
The farmhouse was handy for the first three or four years, in that way that functioning indoor plumbing and a place to sleep are handy. Once the barn had reliable floors and indoor plumbing, the farmhouse was abandoned except as an extra guest space and hidey-hole for objects no one wanted to deal with. The woodshed continued to be ramshackle to the point that my brother and I were warned never to go into it for fear of imminent collapse, wild animals, boa constrictors, and possibly black holes. Eventually the woodshed slid into its own ramshacklosity until the structure became indistinguishable from the wood piled in it.
As for all those acres? My childhood was spent exploring them. Continue reading