Meanwhile in Australia

We’re used to impossible adjectives right now in Australia. We think we will get used to what’s happening, but we never do. It’s all personal and it’s all much bigger than any news report has been willing to show. Let … Continue reading

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A Version of Women

I texted my sister to ask if she had seen the newest version of Little Women. I wanted her opinion, as it’s a habit of mine to review movies I haven’t seen, based on my biases and the biases of others, including The New Yorker critics and the Rotten Tomatoes website. My sister replied that she hadn’t seen it and was going to wait for the DVD—rental or Netflix or whatever. “Since I practically know the book by heart, I’m not sure I would like it.”

I knew that would be her answer. Both she and I regularly re-read the book. I have been a fan since pre-adolescence—probably after seeing the movie first. I don’t remember if it would have been June Allison or Katherine Hepburn playing Jo. I’ve always wanted to take actors from one of those versions and mix them up. Margaret O’Brien as Beth, Elizabeth Taylor as Amy, Katherine Hepburn as Jo and Peter Lawford as Laurie.

And it would be nice to paste in Meryl Streep as Aunt March.

Little Women was not Louisa May’s favorite book. Her publishers pressured her to finish her female coming-of-age stories; she worried it was too preachy and boring. Frequently ill, using opium to ease the pain of her mercury poisoning—a common treatment for typhoid fever—Louisa was discontented the majority of her life; her letters belittle, complain about, and show resentment toward everyone, yet she spent most of her life as a caretaker for others.

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Kirkus Reviews top 100 Independently Published Books for 2019

BVC’s founding member Phyllis Irene Radford is pleased to announce that a book she edited for B-Cubed Press,  FIREDANCER by the late S.A Bolich, is the Kirkus Reviews 12th entry, a starred review, in the top 100 indie books of 2019.

Books 2 and 3 are edited, and the conclusion is in editing.  Says Bob Brown, publisher at B-Cubed “This book is one of B Cubed’s proudest achievements. We are more than quality anthologies. We are a publisher of kick-ass books. This is where we are going. This is where we are at. I love every one of my writers and they rock.”

Ms Radford says, “Sue Bolich wanted to write in a world where political conflict and war are not the issue. There are conflicts among the people, but the real enemy is the planet and her four elements: The Earth Mother, Fire, Wind, Sea, and Stone. Working with the elements to achieve balance is the goal, all else falls into place in the working. A timely issue I hope touches many readers.”

 

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The Rambling Writer Returns to Crete, part 12: Early Finds in the Iraklion Archaeology Museum

Join Thor and me as we admire the foundations of the Minoan culture on Crete.

NOTE: Of course, Thor and I had to make another trip to Greece, as he’s fallen as much in love with the islands as I am. This time, in addition to other island-hopping, I wanted to return to Crete after 37 years. My first months-long trip was as a hippie backpacker, camping in the ruins and falling under the spell of the mysterious, vanished Minoan culture. This time, I got to introduce Thor to “glorious Kriti” and research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT. This new blog series started October 19, 2019, and will continue every Saturday.

Last week, we shared an overview of the Minoan palace complex of Knossos, and some of its treasures in the nearby Iraklion museum. Today we’ll start a tour of the museum with its offerings from the area representing the earliest finds from Neolithic through Bronze Age into the “Protopalatial” period.

Until the late 1800s and early 1900s, the myths of King Minos and his labyrinthine palace were considered just that — as myths. Then archaeologists began to discover evidence of a culture much older than the classic Greek culture and the epics of Homer that mentioned Cretans joining the Trojan War. Heinrich Schliemann made the crucial discoveries at Mycenae and ancient Troy (in Turkey), and attempted to excavate at the rubble later determined to be the site of Knossos. He failed to gain permission, but shortly thereafter, Sir Arthur Evans was able to buy the property. What he found at Knossos basically blew out of the water previous assumptions about the region’s history. Continue reading

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New Worlds: Herbalism

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

Ah, the humble herb. Simultaneously a relic of a bygone medical era, and one of the cutting edges of pharmaceutical research today.

The term “herb” doesn’t have a very rigid definition. For our purposes here, I’m just going to define it as “any plant used for medicinal purposes;” as you may remember from last week’s discussion of elemental imbalances and how they’re treated, that means a whole lot of not just culinary herbs but also spices, fungi, and even mundane vegetables. Basically, if it’s organic and doesn’t move around on its own, it might fit into the scope of this essay.

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Oh, Brother

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? poster

It should not have taken me twenty years to get around to seeing Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, especially since I have always loved the music in it and, unlike what rumor and Wikipedia say about the Coen Brothers, have, in fact, read The Odyssey.

But now I have remedied this error and the experience has left me edified, glorified, and deeply unsettled.

The Coens as writers and George Clooney as an actor have, I think, nailed Odysseus. Like Ulysses Everett McGill, he was a dapper (at least in his own mind) con man. So that was edifying.

Hearing Ralph Stanley sing “Oh, Death” is one of the great musical experiences of all time. That, coupled with a great deal of the rest of the music, was downright glorifying.

The fact that “Oh, Death” was sung at a Ku Klux Klan lynching rally that looked as if he had been choreographed by Leni Riefenstahl for Triumph of the Will was just one of the deeply unsettling things in this movie. More on the unsettling parts later. Continue reading

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CSI (Your City Here) vs Real Forensics
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I did something really cool a while back. I went to a seminar sponsored by  Mystery Writers of America (MWA), an organization I joined after the publication of my first Gina Miyoko Mystery, THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER (from Pegasus Crime). The seminar was entitled Finding Evidence: CSI vs. Real-Life Forensics.

This was a day-long affair on on how real Crime Scene Investigations differ from the Hollywood versions we all know and love. It was fascinating, dare I say riveting. I still haven’t typed up all my notes.

There were about 30 mystery writers at the free event (which included a delightful lunch) and filled the community room at Diablo Valley College to capacity. A life-size cutout of Edgar Allan Poe presided over the talks, which were given by Julie Jaecksch, a retired crime scene investigator from Oakland PD, and Oakland District Attorney Michael O’Connor. Continue reading

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BVC Announces Cold-Forged Flame by Marie Brennan

Cold-Forged Flame by Marie Brennan
Cold-Forged Flame
Varekai I
by Marie Brennan

Out of nothingness they summon her: a woman with no name and no memory, and the power to bring them what they need. Across an island that changes beneath her feet — into a cavern that holds a terrible trap — to the brink of her soul’s annihilation — her journey will transform her forever.

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In Troubled Times: Rumors of War

World War II cast a long shadow, and my generation was born in the aftermath. Then the shadow burgeoned into a decades-long frenzy of terror of communism. The Soviet Union was the incarnation of evil, of course, and war was ever imminent. Not just any war, though, for the atomic genie had been released from its bottle. The world came perilously close on a number of occasions. In between crises, every international twitch was scrutinized, analyzed, and dissected. Meanwhile, we kids were practicing “duck and cover,” as if hiding under a school desk could protect us from a nuclear blast.

Presidents came and presidents went, and the threat of annihilation waxed and waned but never left us. We focused on smaller wars where we had the illusion we could actually change the world. As it turned out, all those protest marches against the Viet Nam War did make a difference in the end, although at the time it didn’t seem so. In retrospect, I believe the sense of powerlessness and insignificance caused as much damage to our confidence in the future as any military threat. Which is not to say that the threat of nuclear war was not real, but rather that my generation internalized it in a way that left us vulnerable to being triggered by other events.

Humans aren’t very good at estimating the relative danger of various things. We exaggerate some risks and minimize others. Some dangers frighten us out of all proportion to the odds of them happening to us. We casually ignore other things that are much more likely to injure or kill us. The possibility of war and its affect on us, personally and nationally and globally, is no exception. We panic or we shrug or we pretend or we drive our fears into our subconscious minds, where they erupt as irrational behavior or nightmares. Continue reading

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Curating the Bookshelves 3: What to Do with Them

Okay. With agonizing labor you’ve winnowed out a ton of books from your vast library. What on earth are you going to do with them, these boxes and boxes of outgoing volumes? The soul revolts, at paper recycling. No, it is inherently evil to destroy books, we can agree. Let’s think of something better.

Clearly the ideal is to find a home for that book with someone who really wants it. And, if you really want an item, you’re willing to pay cold hard cash for it, right? So: pop over to your nearest used book store, and see if you can sell them. Used bookstores get their stock from people like us. If you can persuade Powells to take everything, you’re home free even if they pay you in store credit. Think of this as exchanging books you don’t want for (fewer, okay? Many, many fewer) books that you do.

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