Week—no, Month—at the Movies

I’ve been “at the movies” my entire life. It’s a terminal obsession, rather and eternal obsession of which I will never be free nor do I want to be. Funny, though during our plague isolation I haven’t watched that many.

This has to do with nerves. I worry about health affects of just sitting, or reclining as I now am as I watch—again—Day of the Locust, Nathaniel West’s raw wound of a book about Hollywood, directed by John Schlesinger in 1974. You know, sitting is the new smoking. It’s cold and rainy today anyway, so no gardening or walking, neither of which is very much fun in such weather.

The film, Day of the Locust, suffers from over-the-top musical effects, bumpy camera shots, and terrible editing; it’s not really worth a second look except for a chance to see the incomparable Karen Black. The truly wonderful thing about seeing it at all is because it has been dug out of the vault by the Criterion Channel to be included in a collection called “Film Plays Itself”. It’s lucky to have been included with such gems as Sunset Boulevard, Day for Night and Hollywood Shuffle.

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Consideration of Works Past: A Mirror for Observers

(Picture from here.)

I’ve been wanting to reread this for a while now for a number of reasons. It is a small novel– the great movements and changes that SF is so famous for are either absent or merely backdrop for the transition of the characters.

I like books like this– for that matter, I write books like this. I like a great space opera as much as the next SF reader but there’s a soft spot in my heart (or head) for little books.

The other book I was considering was The Revolving Boy by Gertrude Friedberg but I decided on this one. It has a plague in it. Continue reading


The Rambling Writer Returns to Crete, part 20: The Minoan Earth Goddess

Treasures in the Iraklion Museum of Archaeology illustrate the story of the ancient goddess of nature and fertility.

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.

As I’ve discussed in previous posts in this series, our sketchy understanding of Minoan (or Keftiu) history is mostly based on the physical remnants of artifacts and architecture. Historians and archaeologists are still putting the puzzle pieces together. However, from the evidence and correlations with known Earth Goddess worship (under various names) around the ancient Mediterranean, Egypt, and Middle East, it seems clear that the most important Minoan deity was the (unnamed) Goddess who was the personification of Nature. As we’ve seen in the frescoes and other art, these people seemed to take joy in the bountiful nature — plants, animals, sea — surrounding them. Images of the Minoan goddess are often associated with fruitful outdoor settings and animals. And because she is also associated with sacred serpents of underground mysteries and regeneration, she is also a chthonic (deep earth) goddess who represents elemental powers, such as the frequent earthquakes in this region. She is also frequently depicted as descending from the sky, so she really covered all the bases! Continue reading


Happy Birthday, Lady Smith

One of the most engaging and romance-novel-like yet true stories of the 19th century has to be that of a lady named Juana María de los Dolores de León Smith, whose long and busy life took her from Spain to England and on to India and South Africa, all because she fell in love. Ready for a wonderful story?

Juana was born on March 27, 1798 of a noble Spanish family who claimed the explorer Juan Ponce de León among its forbears. But she came into the world in perilous times; Napoleon had begun his gallop across Europe and swallowed Spain in his stride. Little Juana was placed in a convent school by her family, where it was thought she would be safe, but in 1812 she was back in her hometown of Badajoz, most of her family wiped out in the Peninsular Wars, with only an elder sister to look out for her.

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New Worlds: Evidence

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

In the roleplaying game Legend of the Five Rings, set in a fantasy world heavily based on historical Japan, there’s a lineage known as the Kitsuki who are notorious for training a very odd type of investigator: instead of relying primarily on testimony, they look at physical evidence.

How exactly this description gets interpreted has varied throughout the years and editions of L5R, not to mention the way individual players or writers of fiction for the game line have chosen to spin it. Sometimes it gets taken to an extreme where literally the only thing magistrates care about is what people are willing to stand up and swear to, and whatever is said by the highest-ranking person is deemed to be The Truth, the end. At other times, it’s more nuanced; it isn’t that other people never consider physical evidence, but rather that the Kitsuki are Sherlock Holmes, pulling together insignificant-seeming details and abstruse bits of information to assemble a picture nobody else can quite see.

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Blogging the Magna Carta

By Phyllis Irene Radford

This is a republication of an older blog series. Since these first posted in 2012 I have combine all the posts into a Book View Cafe edition “Magna Bloody Carta” https://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/book/magna-bloody-carta/ 

I have also published through DAW Books “Walk the Wild with Me” by Rachel Atwood. This book takes place in Sherwood Forest (well duh!) in the years leading up to the Magna Carta as seen through a young orphan boy growing up in Locksly Abbey. And no, Robin Hood did not write the Magna Carta.

So here goes with the original posts with a bit of an update here and there.

February 17, 2012: Several weeks ago, a rumor swept across the internet that some ultra conservative politicians called for not only going back to U.S. Constitution as the foundation for all changes to our laws, but to the Magna Carta, from which many concepts of our U.S. Constitution derived.

My first reaction was… um…  Have you even read the Magna Carta?

I have.  In fact I wrote a book about it, Guardian of the Trust, Merlin’s Descendants #2 by Irene Radford.  This book was first published by DAW Books of New York in 2000, another election year filled with controversy and scandal.  The series is now out of print but the e-book will appear on the Book View Café February 21, 2012.  Guardian of the Balance, Merlin’s Descendants #1 is currently available in e-book formats at the same site.  http://www.bookviewcafe.com/index.php/MD1-Guardian-of-the-Balance-by-Irene-Radford

Edited to add: All five books are now available through Book View Cafe and other outlets in both print and e-book

So I am embarking on a series of blogs in which I will take the Magna Carta clause by clause and throw in a few of my own pithy comments, but mostly make this amazing document fully accessible to you in modern translation. Continue reading


Superheroes, arise…

From small things do bigger things grow — cubs into lions, acorns into oaks, ideas into stories and then collections of stories and then worlds.

Some time ago a friend tossed me an idea “challenge” — a story about a superhero granny whose weapons were knitting needles, and a hospital orderly sidekick.

It sounded terrifyingly improbable, but the gauntlet had been flung, and I sat down with the idea and stared it down. Superpowers. Knitting needles. Granny. Retirement home. Orderly.

I wrote the story. It was unexpectedly luminous, in the end — it took place in this retirement home for superheroes, and concerned a cranky old dude who could do nothing but complain after an accident rendered his cape unable to fly—thus making his superhero days (such as they were—he was never of the first rank) clearly and completely over.

Except that it also concerned another inmate of the home, a granny who examined the cape and realised what had gone wrong, readied her knitting needles, and asked an orderly named Eddie for red yarn to remedy the situation.

I am not going to spoil the rest of the story.  It is called “The One About One More Time”, and it is part of Val Hall: The Even Years, Book I of the Val Hall series (the second book, The Odd Years, is just out).

But let me go back to those small things from which big things grow… because when I first wrote about Eddie… I did not know who he was.

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BVC Announces Lessons in Enchantment by Patricia Rice

Lessons in Enchantment by Patricia Rice
Lessons in Enchantment
School of Magic 1
by Patricia Rice

The daughter of an earl, Lady Phoebe Malcolm Duncan has the ability to talk to animals. She longs to be a veterinarian, but education requires more coin than she possesses. When the walls of her home come tumbling down, she has to take two steps back — to servitude.

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Lounging in France 2: the Via Domitia

There are some old, old roads in the world. The Romans believed that the Via Domitia was the path of Heracles’ adventures in the Greek legends.This did not keep them from paving it so that it could unite their empire from Italy to Spain. It was one of the most important roads in the ancient world.

There are pieces of it all over, some of it under superhighays used by cars and trucks. The Romans knew where to run a road, and often we cannot improve on them. But this bit is especially cool. This is downtown Narbonne, once the Roman city of Narbo near the Mediterranean in France. Doesn’t this thing look like a swimming pool?


But no. This is right in the center of the old city. There’s a restaurant, under the awning visible in the center. Those things that looked like tightly corralled sheep are actually stacked cafe chairs and tables, waiting for a warmer day so that you can dine outside. The large white building to the left is a discount department store — see the cheap blouses in the window. And here is a piece of the Via Domitia in the main plaza. In the 90s the city fathers realized they had a tourist site here, so they tidied the site up with mosaic, added the verge to keep people from accidents, and stairs so you can go down and stand on the road that the Romans used. This is how history is around here. It’s in museums all right. But it’s also right here in the middle of town, so you have to step around it if you want a cup of coffee.


Turn OFF the Radio!

The husband, poet and thus master of acerbic one-liners, finally has a Twitter page after I pestered him about it. His most recent tweet regarded his dismay that, even though we are homebodies anyway, sheltering-in-place being a lifestyle we embrace, the worst thing about it was that he had to listen to the President every morning.

I, on the other hand, rather enjoy hearing what our chief of staff has to say, because every time he opens his mouth he sinks deeper into the muck with which he has surrounded himself. While I am skeptical of polls, I do appreciate those that show his approval rating in the tank. What saddens me is when I see posts from acquaintances and family, pointing out that he is a great man doing a great job. All in one or two-syllable words, which are the only words he can say. Three-syllable words just confuse him.

These are intelligent people. They are conservative, religious, hardworking. We share many things: love of English Mastiffs, love for family, a high school class. I’m sure they are just as flummoxed by my left-leanings as I am by their right ones.

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