October 18th, 2006

david bowie black tie - sosostris2012

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If you are new since then, I went to England for three weeks in March and April. There are some interesting posts, I think, if you check the calendar.

It's still sort of weird to think of myself as somebody who has been to England. I suspect that is the farthest anybody in my immediate family has been since WWII, to give you a little perspective.

Anyway, of all the things that happened to me in the New Jerusalem, one of the most profound was a Van Gogh.

I am thinking of this specifically because on Sunday I went to the Wadsworth Atheneum with netcurmudgeon, evynrude, and ashacat. The Atheneum is the oldest public art museum in the US, IIRC. It also hosts some lovely things. A Pollock. A Mondrian. Four or five Picassos, of which two are pretty good. A rather famous Dali.

The Lawrence Tree.

And a Max Ernst, Europe After The Rain. Which is a gorgeous unsettling painting complete with a rather disturbing minotaur. The snip does not do it justice.

Anyway, the trip reminded me of something. Which is that back in early April, on my trip to England, I saw the sunflowers. Not the blue sunflowers, but the gold sunflowers.

You walk through the national gallery and there's a whole floor of genius impressionist.

Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, blah blah

And you walk and walk, and your feet hurt and you walk through this glass door.

And something grabs your sleeve. And you turn not knowing you are turning

And you are standing maybe twenty feet away

And there is nothing else in the room.


Not the Monets, not the other Van Goghs, not the security guard, not the japanese tourists.

Not the ugly americans


It's you.

And this glow.

And maybe you don't even exist.

And you walk to the glow.

And you think oh, it's the sunflowers.

Because of course everybody's seen a print.

But now you get it.

It's transcendant. And I do not use that word lightly.

And you stop about ten feet away because the color stops you. And you breathe the way you breathe in an autumn sky

And you kind of realize that there are other people stopped dead around you. And you stand there and you breathe in the oranges and the browns and the golds. And you can taste them. Color runs up your skin and trickles down your throat.

I am glad I am not a painter. It might have killed me.

Having seen that, I know why he chose to die. Because this thing he made was perfect, and he was only mortal, and fragile, and not sane.

I don't know that I could live with that hanging over me.

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bear by san

"Not everyone is from Boston, John."

Being three reviews and a few digressions, one useful and one that would be funny if you could read my unpublished manuscripts, so I can close some tabs:

Tangent Online reviews Baen's Universe #1, with a couple of paragraphs on "The Cold Blacksmith."  (Reviewer does not condone the thing with the goat.[1])

The blogger at Keeping In Touch liked Hammered a bunch.

oyceter was not so thrilled with Blood & Iron.

N.B: iTunes 7.01 has fixed the horrible static problem and instituted an occasional stutter. Verdict: stick to Winamp if you know what's good for you.

I wonder if the weird classic rock kick I've been on has anything to do with my telomeres shortening with age.

Right. Off to shower, and then go read some more about &^$^%(&^*& 1790-1800 in American politics. And maybe drink some coffee.

[1] That comment will be funny in 2010 or so, when Patience & Fortitude comes out. There's a bit where a character is explaining something about sex magic to somebody else, and brings up Crowley, and feels it needful to remark that although he has read Crowley, he (the person explaining) does not condone the thing with the goat. (If you don't know about the goat, yes, it's exactly what you are assuming, and don't google at work. Crowley's goat. Not my goat. My goat is pr0n-free.) 

It's freaking weird being a writer.
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bear by san

you're old enough to die but you're too young to vote.

Now Playing: The American presidental election of 1796, which I am attempting to understand. And coming to the conclusion that nobody else understands it either.

The thing about history is that it actually makes no sense. Until somebody comes along and imposes a narrative on it.

But there's always something that makes the narrative go kerflooey.

Linear models of chaotic systems don't really work so good. Also, now I remember why I don't write alternate history.

*recalls Jefferson from France in time for the Philadelphia Convention, institutes female suffrage, and gives up on American history as a bad job all over*

bear by san

also, 18th century handwriting? so much easier on the eyes than 16th cen.

When Th. Jefferson offers a respectable married lady a proposition he admits she may find shocking, the married lady may find it advisable to worry.

However, this writer is relieved to find Mr. Jefferson's literary style an easy and relaxed one to approximate.

Unlike John Adams, who is wall to wall with the Portentous Capitalizations.
bear by san

you always said the cards would never do you wrong.

Progress notes for 18 October 2006:

"1796" (which needs a title that doesn't suck)

New Words:  1152
Total Words: 1152
Pages: 6
Deadline: next week
Reason for stopping: draft

Stimulants:  some Russian Caravan tea and, and couscous and steak for dinner
Exercise: none
Mammalian assistance: Mebd has been hogging the sofa all day.
Mail: Undertow appears to be officially delivered, which means I need to make a proposal happen for Dust sometime soon. Yay!

Also, cover copy:

The tide is turning...


Elizabeth Bear

Author of Carnival

“A talent to watch.” —David Brin

[Bantam Spectra logo] Science Fiction    UNDERTOW    Elizabeth Bear









Bantam Books


[sales info here]


A frontier world on the back end of nowhere is the sort of place people go to get lost. Some of those people have secrets worth hiding—secrets that can change the future—assuming there is one…

André Deschênes is a hired assassin, but he wants to be so much more. If only he can find a teacher who will forgive his murderous past—and train him to manipulate odds and control probability.  It’s called the art of conjuring, and it’s Andre’s only route to freedom. For the world he lives on is run by the ruthless Charter Trade company, and his floating city, Novo Haven, is little more than a company town where humans and aliens alike either work for one tyrannical family—or are destroyed by it. But beneath Novo Haven’s murky waters, within its tangled bayous, reedy banks and back alleys, revolution is stirring. And one more death may be all it takes to shift the balance...

“Bear proves herself to be one of the most talented writers currently working in the field.” —Romantic Times

Pub date looks like next August on that one, and Whiskey & Water should be June.

Today's words Word don't know: n/a
Words I'm surprised Word do know: n/a

Mean Things: came between a husband and wife; electoral college involved
Tyop du Jour: n/a
Darling du jour: Mrs. Adams lifted the thread to her lips and bit, forgetting her scissors until the pain of worn teeth reminded her.
Jury-rigging: Well, pastiching Thomas Jefferson is not as easy as it looks.

There's always one more quirk in the character: stubborn
Other writing-related work: line edits on "Sonny Liston Takes the Fall."
The Internet is full of Things: I got nothing but a head full of dumb.
The glamour!: and none of that either.