Sunday, November 28, 2004

Happy Birthday, William Blake!

Today is a day to celebrate the birth of William Blake - visionary, revolutionary, artist. He saw the world in a grain of sand and saw angels and spirits in his garden. His was a remarkable vision, one to be savored and treasured. There's a great exhibit still on line at the Tate, or visit the Blake Archive. He believed that All Religions Are One and that imagination was the most important faculty.

Here's a piece courtesy of the Blake Digital Text Project:

Dear Mother, dear Mother, the Church is cold, 
But the Ale-house is healthy & pleasant & warm;
Besides I can tell where I am use'd well,  
Such usage in heaven makes all go to hell.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

A Memory

When I was living in Los Angeles in the eighties and working in the Chemistry department, I was invited to a party by one of the post-docs, Stephen Rogers. I wasn't sure why I was invited. I knew him slightly, but he seemed so much more hip and downtown, but I went anyway, because then I lived in hope that my life was about to be magically transformed. I also thought the guy I liked might be there--he said he would be, but as eventually became clear to me, he was usually lying, or to be perhaps more fairly accurate, he always hoped to be telling the truth, but generally was not.

I got there--there being a downtown loft that screamed artist. Do I remember right, that there was his art on the walls, and the surprise of finding a chemist an artist, too? I was deeply envious of the space, having come from my little studio apartment. I didn't know many people when I walked in and I was ready to make a quick turn and walk out, but steeled myself for the always difficult social situation. They all seemed so much more chic, and I felt gigantic and awkward--as always--in my funky Hollywood tat. But I tried to feel as if I were enjoying myself, while I mainly edged toward corners and watched. The moment that really stands out is everyone (except, of course, me) dancing in tiny controlled movements to the Cure's "Close to You." People who do not mark their memories with music cannot understand how indelibly that moment is etched in that song; hearing it even now makes me wistful as I see the skinny girls in their black dresses dance, feet flashing.

But later, about the time I was thinking of going (so, not much later) he told me why he had invited me. Ironically, I guess he didn't expect an artist in the staff of the Chemistry department. And I remember always what he said, "I loved watching you watching the audience watch your play." It made me feel terribly self-conscious but it also pleased me--it always pleases me to be noticed in a good way (I'm still, after all these years, the Invisible Girl) but more than that, I suppose I felt like he got it. That writing, all art, is an attempt to have an impact, to change--if not the world--then the lives of a few people. It was one of those little moments to treasure. I kept it like a trinket, one that could be kept in my pocket and occasionally pulled out to observe, smile, and secret away again. Perhaps I harbored hopes that I would fit into this artsy crowd and belong, not feel terminally awkward. But a short time later, Rog killed himself.

I recall the chair of our department coming in, haggard--he had to call the parents back in Pennsylvania. We were all stunned. I felt a sense of loss disproportionate to my slight friendship because I had that little trinket tucked in my pocket, that memory of kindness and recognition. I named a character after him in the novel I wrote at the time; the character tries to save the main character from hurtling toward madness and dissolution. But he can't quite do it. It's not much--an unrepresentative character in an unpublished novel. Perhaps the little trinket is a more fitting legacy; how rare to be seen and understood. Such a rare treasure, this little trinket. Thank you, Rog. Requiescat in pace.

(written in Roanoke VA 6.37am after waking from a disturbing dream)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

And, yes, the third publication this month!

Gene has prompted me to post this one too, although I suspect few will rush out to buy this expensive and weighty tome (and er -- I have a pretty good number of offprints for friends :-)

Viator, the esteemed journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies: this year's volume features one of my dissertation chapters (revised) --

"Translating Saint as (Vi)King: St. Olaf in the Heimskringla"

This is quite the proverbial feather in the cap for my academic publishing. I owe immense thanks to Tom Hall, my committee member from U Illinois-Chicago (yes, he came all the way to UConn for my defence), for suggesting I send Olaf here.

Olaf falls at Stiklestad

Here's a picture of Olaf from the Catholic Information Network, which has a short essay on him here.

Another New Publication!

The Horror in Film and Literature group is now forever immortalized in print! Here's the new collection from University Press of Mississippi:

Horror Film: Creating and Marketing (and, Gene would add, Consuming) Fear
ed. Steffen Hantke

Hey! My name's even on the cover -- swank. My essay is "From SBIGs to Mildred's Inverse Law of Trailers: Skewing the Narrative of Horror Fan Consumption" and details the impact of the HFL on-line discussion list, a rather venerable group as internet lists go as it's been around for fifteen years. I'm a relative newbie, having been on it only 9 or 10 years.

No reviews yet on Amazon! Perhaps someone will leave one soon...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

MZB Sword & Sorceress XXI

Now available from Amazon:

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword & Sorceress XXI, which features my short story "Sun Thief."

If you want to order it from your local independent book store: ISBN 075640195X.

See DAW books page for the collection,,,00.html?id=075640195X>here.

They describe it as: "The best-selling Sword & The Sorceress series continues with this thrilling 21st edition of all-original stories of action-packed adventure, ultimate magic, and fearsome, sword-wielding women by some of the best names in fantasy today."

I'm flattered to be in their company.

So....America chooses.

In this election, choices were clear. Americans have apparently chosen fear over hope; hatred over tolerance; war over peace. So be it. Our choices make the world we live in. I weep for this country. Once we stood for hope and freedom--now intolerant Christian fundamentalists have imposed their leader upon us, and he is one who seems hell-bent on hurtling us toward an Armageddon of his own making.

I will never cease working for peace, tolerance and understanding. It is my mission as an educator. This election is the primary evidence of the failure of education in this country.

Monday, November 01, 2004

First blog: Halloween!

Thanks to Derek on the Horror List, I found out about this site, I am going to give this a try. I tell my creative writing students that they should write every day -- but do I always do so myself? And when I do, why is it I can usually not read the whirly scrawl in which I write it? Perhaps my second grade teacher was right -- I needed to spend more time on my penmanship. The only time I had to stay after school -- penmanship. Well, maybe I can try out things here and get a little feedback. We'll see how much I keep it up.

Happy Halloween -- it's my favorite holiday and my wedding anniversary (seven years!).