Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Martin Tuesday!

If you have an iPad, you can read Chapter 10 of Broken Slate, now available on Crossed Genres, on your iPad!

I'm just saying!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Book Review: Coal: A Human History, and More!

So for my Hanukkah present I got an iPad.

This is totally inappropriate for two reasons.  (1) I am not 10 years old, and Hanukkah presents are for children and (2) Hanukkah presents are supposed to be tiny things, like, well, a book, or a box of chocolates.

But Herr Dr. Delagar, that is how he rolls, and he knew I wanted an iPad (I have been visiting the iPads at BestBuy for the past six months), so voila!

I love it.  How much do I love it?

I don't think I can go back to reading books the other way.

And you know me, I love books.  If you had asked me two years ago whether I would give up physical books, HA!  I would have laughed at you, HA!

But I have now spent -- what? fifteen days?  Reading books this way?  HA!  I am never going back to reading books on paper.

When I do have to -- as occasionally I do, because not all books can be accessed via iBooks or Kindle (the iPad comes with a free Kindle app!  How cool is that???) -- it's just so dragggy!

Books on paper have to be held open!  Their pages shut if you aren't keeping them braced EVERY MINUTE!  You can lose your place in them!  With books on paper, if you don't know a reference, like what a "negus" is, or where Catalina Island is, and you don't happen to be right next to a computer or dictionary, why, you just have to STAY IGNORANT!

With the iPad?  You tap the page, and two seconds later, you're in a dictionary or on Wikipedia, or on the net, and you know!

Also!  You can take notes on the text, type them right in.  You can sort of do that with a paper book, but you have to write it in the margin, and maybe there is room and maybe there is not, and it's your awful handwriting, and if you change your mind about the note you can only erase so much.

Also!  All my books can go with me everywhere!  In one tiny little skinny folder.  

(Also -- and this is the dangerous part, I admit -- with the iPad, if you want a book?  You tap STORE, you look the book up, you tap BUY BOOK, and TWO SECONDS LATER, you have the book.)

Best Hanukkah present ever.

I'm reading on it, at present, London Labour and the London Poor, a couple of Terry Pratchett novels, a book of short stories by John Kessel, and another by Robin McKinley; I just finished reading Coal: a Human History, which I highly recommend.

Written by Barbara Freese, Coal travels through history, from the first use of coal, as jewelry, interestingly enough, to our modern era, when coal was instrumental in buying George W. his presidency, on through what effect coal is having in staving off any effective action against global climate change.  It's a relatively short book, packed with detail, and very readable.  Kept me up, engaged, more than one night until two or three in the morning.

Highly recommended, even for those who aren't, like me, in love with rocks.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Icy Weather Here

...is making me think of this poem by Auden, one of my favorites.

I love these two stanzas, even though Auden later cut them.

Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and the innocent,
And indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,

Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives;
Pardons cowardice, conceit,
Lays its honours at their feet.

Sometimes poets shouldn't be let near their own poems.

The Kid Writes a Guest Post

Here is the first blog appearance ever from kiddelagar:

Gender Constrictions in Our Society; or: My Fear of Public Bathrooms

As you may or may not know, I have very short hair. Coupled with my wearing comfortable clothes (i.e. Boys clothes since girls must be put in tight, itchy clothes) this makes for awkward situations in places with public bathrooms.

Essentially, I stand outside the two bathrooms, a scene replaying in my where I walk into the girls bathroom and there’s some one there and they say ‘This is the girls bathroom’ and I say ‘I am a girl, I just have short hair’ but they insist I’m a boy and then I have a psychological breakdown and murder them with a switchblade.

That last bit with switchblade and the breakdown didn’t actually happen. 

However the rest of it happened once, leading me to want to shop for ‘girly’ clothes.

This led to the Shopping Trip Of Awkward Doom.

It can be summarized as:

My Grandma: We need to find some clothes for her.

Shopping Assistant Lady: You mean him?

Grandma: No, her.

The rest consisted of me follow SA Lady around the girls clothing section, all the while getting strange looks. Eventually I found a purple sweater that I liked. 

But when I tried it on a few weeks later because we are going to see a movie, the neck was way to low-cut, and it was tight and itchy. 

So the Shopping Trip Of Awkward Doom was for nothing.

Perhaps in the future we will have unisex bathrooms. Until then I will have to get over my fear of public bathrooms. 

It's Not Rudolph, But...

This is MY kind of holiday movie!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Two-Fifths of Americans Think the World Is Made of Air

Every time I mention evolution in class -- which I don't do that often, but it does come up, usually when I'm teaching WLIT and we hit the 19th century -- I get students, like the students I mentioned in my previous post, who just shut down.

They know evolution is a lie.  

Now they haven't studied evolution, mind you.  It wasn't covered in their science classes, neither the home-schooled students and usually not the public school students either.  What was covered, if anything was, was *why* evolution was wrong, and how to explain to their lying liberal professors that evolution was wrong, and the mistakes Darwin made.  What they know for certain is that evolution can't be true, because if it is true, then the Bible is a lie.

And this, at the root of everything, is why they can't ever really believe anything their professors tell them.

They know we know evolution is real.  Since we know that, we must hate God.  Since we hate God, we're filled with the enemy (SATAN!!).  Since we're filled with Satan, ergo ipso fact QED, we're after their souls.

How are we to get them to learn algebra, then?  Or the best way to construct an essay?  Or what the Corn Laws have to do with Victorian literature?  Or why it matters that they read the actual novel and not just Sparks Notes?

Never mind why they should study what the text says about evolution.

Contrast that attitude with this story.

You'll see why I'm depressed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Okay, That Explains A Lot...

...of raging paranoia and ignorance.

I had some suspicion about this, based on the reaction I get from my students when I teach the second half of WLIT at my rocky little university.  That's the semester we hit 18th and 19th century American texts, and I have to talk a bit of American history.  Certain homeschooled students always want to argue with me about what "really" happened in American History -- or, worse, they don't argue; they sit smirked, clearly having been warned by their parents that this would happen: that their socialist liberal professors would be feeding them these warped liberal lies about America.

Since I never am, you know -- since I'm always giving them the bare-bones straight-up version of what happened -- it's a lit class, I don't have time for interpretation, I barely have time for the facts -- this has always puzzled me.

But that's because I didn't know that this sort of crap was what they were being fed.

Having been fed a steady diet of propaganda and preaching, I suppose they don't know how to hear anything else.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's Martin...uh...Wednesday!

Yeah, I got occupied yesterday, dealing with that child, and didn't get to post this.

But Look!  Over at Crossed Genres, more Broken Slate!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I am grading and grading and grading.

This time of year, and again in the Spring (commencement-time), I get a bit sad.  

Students I have formed serious bonds with -- I'm not sure I can communicate how strong these bonds are: it's a bit like that between the parent and the child, a bit like that between really, really good friends, a bit like that between you and, oh, a singer, or song-writer you love more than light itself, only that singer visits your house twice a week and asks your for advice, and TAKES that advice --

And here's the bad news:  it's been two years, or maybe three?  And now they're moving on.

To graduate school.  To the Rhode Island School of Design.  To Yale Law.  To New York, to be actors.

Which, well, this is excellent.  I don't *want* them to stay in Fuck Smith and work as checkers as Wal-Mart.  Shit no!

But -- serious bonds?  Remember?

I remind myself -- every winter, every spring -- that new students will show up, that I will love them just as much as I loved these students.

Every year I wonder if I will ever believe that.

Do well, all y'all.

Don't come back.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Um, Well, Yeah, About That...

So my kid is visiting her grandparents, up the hill in FayetteNam.  

She was torn about this visit.  She wanted to see them; but on the other hand, it meant leaving The Kitty.  

(Last night The Kitty slept with me.  I woke several times with The Kitty walking on my face, or butting her head into me, going, insistently, ammrwworw! in The Kitty's own special way, which is to say, a curdling yowl that will peel skin off the inside of your ears.  Kitty is lonely without her girl.)

Anyway, she (the kid, not The Kitty) called last night, when she had been gone for approximately five hours, to explain how much she missed me and her daddy and The Kitty.  We also held a lengthy conversation about what each of us had been doing.  (Me: grading finals.  Her: Nothing.)

Toward the end of the conversation, her voice dropped to a whisper.  "Grandma says she's going to buy your book when it comes out in print."

"Well," I said, wondering about the whispering.  "That's good."

Pause.  Then, lower whispering, "Does she know its full of hot gay sex?"

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Overheard in the Local Harps Grocery Checkout Line

So, this was charming.

Guy: (Speaking to a young woman wearing a Hard Rock Cafe Munich teeshirt): So, you been to Germany?

Woman: Uh, I was born there.

Guy: (A slight considering pause.) You Jewish?

Woman: (Outraged.) No!

Guy: (Nods, as in, well, okay, then.)

(Random coversation about wonders of living in Germany ensues. Meanwhile dr. delagar is restraining herself. Though just now she cannot remember why.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


The Crossed Genres Y2 anthology is now available.

And -- why, yes! -- that's my story in the TOC.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Doing The Happy Dance!

I just heard from Strange Horizons -- they're taking one of my stories.

Oh yeah, I'm dancing!

(Happy dr. delagar busts a move.)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Grammar in the Slammer

This one comes to you from one of my students.

Very slightly NSFW.  (Cartoon vulgarity!)