On Making Merry

A repost/remix for the day. Original here.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

I prefer this version of the song to the newer, cheerier lyrics. [Read more…]

Unplug the Jukebox

Adam Ant is back.

No, it’s not too surprising if your response is, “Who?” He was more of a sensation everywhere but the U.S. and was popular mostly among the alternative (before it was called any such thing) crowd here. Also, it was a long, long time ago in music terms. But if you’re listening to post-punk music now, Adam Ant is one of the people you’ve got to thank for shaping your music.

And now he’s back, talking about the bipolar disorder that took him out of the scene and making more music.

Between 1999 and 2001, he was suffering terrible mood swings – ­symptoms of his undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

He was planning to tour again until, in 2002, he ended up in court after smashing a pub window in a fit of “hypomania”.

He was ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment and for the next 10 years fought to understand and control his condition, writing movingly about it in his 2006 autobiography Stand and Deliver.

He says: “You either discuss it or you don’t. It’s been very therapeutic to talk about it.

“I learn more all the time – especially from Stephen Fry who also has it and is extremely knowledgeable.

“The main thing is not to feel ashamed. It will pass. You can manage it.

“I’m bringing out my first album in 17 years and I hope, as I produce more work and get known for that again, people won’t just define me by my mental illness.”

It’s good to see him making mental health problems less taboo. The stories in 2002 were ugly. Celebrity gossip treatment meant that his bipolar disorder was leapt upon as a sort of character weakness, something that explained how “weird” he’d always been (because highly dramatic musical presentations always require an explanation beyond being entertaining).

The new music? No less dramatic, but decidedly another flavor.

Embracing the Euphemism

I’m at CSICon this weekend with very limited writing time, so have a fun repost. Originally posted here.

I’ve long had a complicated relationship with euphemisms. On their own, I don’t like them much. I’m annoyed by people’s inability to talk about the things they clearly want or need to talk about. Many of them reflect the negative attitudes that keep us from speaking plainly in the first place. And some of them are just gallingly twee.

However, put a bunch of them together in one place, and they go from an act of denial to a demonstration of our creativity in the face of repression and a testament to the fact that we will talk about these things, no matter how much we’re told we shouldn’t. One lovely example is this song, brought to my attention by Sex, Etc., a sex education site aimed at teenagers. I don’t need to tell you this isn’t work-safe, do I? [Read more…]

I Just Chewed at the Dime

Not feeling a whole lot like writing just at the moment. Have to anyway, but not here. Have some music.

If you sing it at full volume, you’re at least remembering to breathe.

Wedding Photos

My husband was a groomsman for a friend this weekend. There was a professional photographer covering the ceremony and reception, but I took some photos of my own. It turns out I have some odd ideas of what constitutes wedding photography.

Edge of house, showing interlocked logs.

This is one of the houses on the property where the wedding was held. We were told it dates back about a century and a half. Yes, that’s chinked log construction. [Read more…]

Where Is It Going

Orbital performed at the Paralympics this week, with Stephen Hawking performing his normally sampled words live and a bunch of punks doing Ian Drury.

Maybe we should do more of these things in London.

It Isn’t Enough to Feel Righteous

You also have to be right, particularly when it comes to legal doctrines like Fair Use.

If you haven’t yet, check out Jason’s post on the harassment campaign Surly Amy (Amy Davis Roth) is facing because she decided to keep her commitments to TAM then didn’t keep quiet about the shit she dealt with there. The most recent chapter of this involves a blog post by Justin Vacula. It’s one of his typically vacuous, ignore-the-point-and-complain-around-it arguments trying to suggest that creating and wearing items at a conference that are designed to hurt another conference-goer should be just fine with the conference, because…because…well, as far as I can tell, just because Vacula thinks so.

In posting this, Vacula used one of Amy’s images–a photograph she took of one of her own pendants. He then received notice that a DMCA complaint had been lodged, presumably by Amy, covering that image. The post was reverted to draft until he could remove the image, but his vague complaining was untouched. The notice covered the image only.

Vacula complained some more, as is his right. Then he decided to take things further. Without, as far as I can tell, consulting an attorney, he filed a DMCA counter-notification. His legal reasoning appears to be nothing more than, “If I really didn’t have a right to use the image, why didn’t Amy just send me an email?” I kid you not.

There’s a little problem with this. [Read more…]

Not a Pretty Picture

Photojournalists can have an immense effect on our understanding of the world, particularly our understanding of injustice. Photos from Nazi concentration camps still have immense power decades later. The photo of naked Kim Phuc fleeing a napalm attack is burned into our collective memory. Images are not easy to escape.

This has the effect of being able to take events and practices from around the globe and make them immediate even to those of us who will never be directly effected by them. Stephanie Sinclair previously used this power to bring us the Warren Jeffs family in pictures and to put us in burn wards with Afghan women who set themselves on fire to escape untenable domestic situations (warning: graphic photos).

She has also been documenting child marriages around the world.

Before their wedding ceremony begins in rural Afghanistan, a 40-year-old man sits to be photographed with his 11-year-old bride. The girl tells the photographer that she is sad to be engaged because she had hoped to become a teacher. Her favorite class was Dari, the local language, before she had to leave her studies to get married. [Read more…]

For the Edge the Best Ones Live On

Lack of a rational health care system in the U.S. leads to fewer people willing to take on jobs without predictable income leads to more people competing for a limited number of established jobs. But that’s another post. This post is about the risks artists take to provide us with what we need from them.

I met Scott Lynch at CONvergence by interrupting one of his meals in the hotel lounge. He was having dinner with friends of mine and…well, they were almost done. Seriously, though, he was quite gracious, both then and at a room party later. So it surprises me not at all that he’s putting his dignity on the line for his friends.

You see, Minnesota authors Emma Bull and Steve Brust are ill. Emma has probable thyroid cancer, and Steve appears to share his family history of heart problems. Both need surgery.

Minnesota isn’t an awful state in which to have a major illness like this if you make little enough money, but as my mother discovered with bad knees and diabetes, that coverage only goes so far. There will be bills not covered. There will be time spent doing anything but writing to keep us entertained.

So Scott is proposing to entertain us for money in the meantime. He wants to help his friends. He knows many of us want to help the writers who entertained and inspired us (and if you’re local to Minnesota or on the con circuit, made us dance). He will make it easier to get his work, he will educate us, and he will act silly for us. All we have to do is give a little.

I would be donating without any incentives. I’ve known Steve and Emma for…er, decades, though not terribly well. Beyond that, they’ve made me laugh and cry and dance and think. They’ve served me well for a long time.

I know we have other fans around here too, which is why I’m posting something on the blog. But if you’ve never heard of Emma and Steve, (first, fix that, then) click through to Scott’s blog. Let the pretty man entertain you and make it very pleasant to do some good.