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Sat May 02, 2015 at 06:00 PM PDT

Research Rewind: Forward, Boy Commandos!

by Ellid

The end is near.

By this I mean that I'm entering the home stretch of this year's six week long experiment in reprinting old diaries as I lurch grimly toward Kalamazoo.  The paper is partially done, I'm tearing my hair out by chunks, and the Double Felinoid are avoiding me lest I spontaneously combust and deprive them of their major source of food, water, and heat source on cold nights.   Exhaustion, comfort food, and staring dazedly out the window of my car as I drive to and from my day job are now the norm, and I'm hoping to God my paper is written in something that approaches English.  That the said paper might, just might, make sense is not yet apparent.

The one exception to this dreary grind is my visit to the Heck Piazza Dodecaplex to see Avengers:  Age of Ultron last night.  This intimate film about a lonely robot that only wishes to execute its programming to protect the world by exterminating the human species, was the sort of warm, soothing, comfort flick that allowed me to relax and de-stress even better than a Calgon bubble bath, and -

Oh, for crying out loud, who am I fooling?  Age of Ultron was EXPLOSIONS and ACTION and hilarious dialogue and great special effects and Chris Evans' GLORIOUS BUTTOCKS and Jeremy Renner's ARMS and Scarlett Johansson's EYES and Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo DOING SCIENCE and Chris Hemsworth's HAIR and EVIL KILLER ROBOTS TRYING TO KILL EVERYONE and the Avengers trying to pick up Thor's hammer and failing mightily and everything I could possibly want except a cameo by Captain Marvel and that's okay since her movie will be out in a couple of years and  CAPTAIN AMERICA WEARING A VERY TIGHT T-SHIRT AS HE RIPS A LOG IN HALF LENGTHWISE, LENGTHWISE I TELL YOU!!!!!!!! and -


Yes, I'm a geek.  Sue me.

There were some flaws - there was almost too much plot, a couple of twists came out of left field, and one or two sequences that made me blink at why they were included, particularly a gratuitous romance - but I liked what I saw enough that I will see this lovely art house flick at least once (or twice, or thrice, or whatever comes after that) more before it finally heads to DVD/Blu-Ray sometime before the 2016 Presidential primaries.  For right now, though, I need to focus on my paper.  At the same time I can't get comics off my mind, which is why the next two weeks of Research Rewinds will be devoted to funny books.  

The first of these installments is a look at a creative team whose work cheered the home front during World War II, allowed millions of little boys to dream about fighting the Krauts, and led directly to me hyperventilating in the theater at the aforesaid scene of Captain America preparing for a second career as an axe-less lumberjack (and let me just say that if Chris Evans does not get the Oscar for Best Log Ripping Scene in Cinematic History, there is no justice).  Silly names, child soldiers fighting for freedom instead of crazed warlords, wooden shoes, and tropes that show up again and again - come below the 0.5 Orange Kaiju for a little diary from last year as we all cry

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Sat May 02, 2015 at 09:00 AM PDT

You Can't Read That!

by pwoodford

You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news roundups.

bogart book_1

YCRT! Banned Book News

I linked to an earlier story on this in a previous YCRT! diary, but here's more on the censorship of an 85-year-old Tintin comic in Canada.

After a single parental complaint, a Connecticut school superintendent overruled teachers and the school board and removed James Dickey's novel Deliverance from a 9th grade reading list.

An eight-year-old girl has been told she can no longer read on the school bus. It's too risky, according to the bus driver, who is being backed up by the school board. Other students on the bus "might stand up to see what she was reading, or she might poke herself in the eye with the corners of the book." Now that is one dangerous book!

More banned book news ... and a banned book review ... below the orange squiggle.

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Book Cover: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
This book review is slightly long - but I crammed it full of thought, feeling, experience and imagination. Then I lovingly planished the prose until it flowed smoothly.

This diary has sandpipers vs. monsters on Venice Beach, why food is harder to describe than a book, Communists and opium dealers, how words can be magic, and a takedown of the New York Times. Woven between those lines, it has a few glimpses of the very enjoyable Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.

Just read the whole diary. If it doesn't make you smile, I guarantee that I'll give you your money back.

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The other day, I was perusing our Netflix watchlist for movies to stream as well as the Recently Watched list and then all the Because You Watched This, You Might Like This suggestions, and I turned to Mr. Loosinhouse and said, "Damn! We watch a lot of crime, murder and suspense stuff! Why do you suppose that is?"

We ended up having a fairly interesting discussion about what was the actual attraction about this kind of content and why was it so prevalent as a topic in books and movies since primordial times.  What is the lure? Is it a need for catharsis in order to sublimate our own dark individual urges? Is it a need for re-assurance of a moral order to the universe since most fictional murderers are found out and punished for their misdeeds, if not by man, then by some mysterious universal force of retribution that makes sure they come to no good end?

Mr. Loosinhouse opined that much of his own enjoyment of the genre stemmed from the puzzle aspects that is a standard structure - a number of traditional murder mysteries are laid out from the aspect that a murder has occurred and the perpetrator is unknown. Then ensues an intellectual exercise pursued by either an official policeman or a detective or some observant and intuitive amateur or some combination of all of the above, who must then examine the crime scene and the victim's life, and reach some thesis as to why they were murdered and who among the suspects would have the best motive, opportunity and ability to carry out the heinous deed.

The open challenge to the reader is to be a bystander following the narrative and to see if they arrive at the same conclusion as the detectives, hopefully before the entire scheme is laid clear in the "This is how this happened" speech given at the denouement among the assembled suspects, culminating as the snarling and hostile revealed killer is dragged out of the library shouting "Yes! I did it! And I'm glad do you hear, glad! She was a monster - I did the village a service!" or something like that.

In one of those beautiful co-incidences in life, the day after my husband and I were having this discussion, an amusingly wrapped book appeared in my mailbox (it was my birthday) from an old friend with a note saying "Saw this and thought of you - seemed right up your alley." Unwrapped was revealed a book addressing the EXACT topic about the lure of murder that my husband and I had been discussing.

The book was A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley which examines this very topic, albeit limited to the British variant of the fever. The link above is to a review of the book by the Telegraph which is much better and more comprehensive than I could ever put together, give it a look. I am still in the early chapters, but it is all I could have hoped for so far.

From the review:

This is not a handbook for murderers, but a study of the license to thrill. As its subtitle suggests, it tells “the story of a national obsession”: how, over the past two centuries, the British have reacted to the changing circumstances of murder and developed it into a form of entertainment.
My googling for a review revealed the happy news that the BBC did a limited series about the book which unfortunately is not available at this time, but lo and behold I did find that it is about to appear on PBS ( although at some very odd times) in the immediate future.
 WGBH -A Very Birtish Murder

This morning where I am sitting it is drizzling, cold and grey - perfect weather for contemplating more about the "curious obsession" that grips so many of us - the need to not just WHO murdered Col. Mustard but where and why and with what weapon.

Books In My Life is a diary published most Friday mornings about books that have had a particular resonance in ones life for some personal reason. If you would like to write a diary in this series please contact Phoebe Loosinhouse by Kosmail to schedule a date

Thu Apr 30, 2015 at 05:00 PM PDT

Write On! Cheez-Its and Genre

by SensibleShoes

Hello, writers. Write On! has returned now to the 8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific timeslot that we had previously. I hope that will be more convenient for the West Coast folks.

I mentioned last week that I'€™ve been looking at a lot of unpublished manuscripts lately. This has got me thinking about beginnings (often all the further one gets in reading a manuscript). It seems to me that beginnings need, to a certain extent, to reflect the manuscript'€™s genre.

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I just received my official copyright notice so I thought I'd take a minute today to talk about copyrighting.

The process itself is relatively easy but some of the questions along the way were a bit confusing. So I thought I'd share in the hopes it might save someone some pain or confusion.  

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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

There are often times that I have read something in the paper that was so strange I knew a writer would never get away with putting it in a book.  The reader would just not accept it.  

If you are like I am then you have probably read a lot of strange fiction and you may doubt that there could be real things that are weirder.  


What are you hoping will come soon?

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You have no one but you to blame
if you cannot hear the sky.
When the air is jelled and cloying,
the phone book will not open.
Soil packs too hard for fingernails,
too soft for pails and shovels.
The tap that drips on Franklin street
melts through to rot the roof ribs.

Old though I am, the pail still feeds
my appetite for blather.
Over the highest hill in town
still higher clouds will hover.
What I know of my own shadow
burns into my shoulder blades.
What I refuse to see flays me,
with darkness I make of myself.


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Reposted from 8days2amish by aravir Editor's Note: Clever diary about shifts in language. -- aravir

I was startled to find not one, but two ejaculations on the pages of “Tom Sawyer.”  

And here I wasn’t even sure the 139-year-old Tom has been through puberty.

I wondered if perhaps I’d stumbled onto one of those pornographic parodies. Some of you more worldly types may have heard of those.

They’re where the smut merchants tweak a famous title and turn something wholesome into something filthy. Examples: “On Golden Blonde,” “Shaving Ryan’s Privates,” and “E.T.: The Extra-Testicle.”

But I soon realized I mistaken.

No one had tampered with the words of Mark Twain.

Time had tampered with their meanings.

In today’s porno-drenched society, I avoid using the word ejaculation. It’s too freighted with XXX connotations.

It wasn’t that way when Twain wrote Tom.

The first instance is in Chapter 15, “Tom’s Stealthy Visit Home,” in which he’s hiding under Aunt Polly’s bed as she loudly laments her belief that Tom’s dead.

“He had to keep still long after she went to bed, for she kept making broken- hearted ejaculations from time to time …”

Ejaculations resume in Chapter 21, “Eloquence — And the Master’s Gilded Dome.”

“There was a buzz of gratification from time to time during the reading, accompanied by whispered ejaculations of ‘How Sweet!’ ‘How eloquent!’ ‘So true!’ etc…”

I’m unable to discern when ejaculation went from being a word that conveyed words gushing from our mouths to a word that meant something other than words gushing from elsewhere.

But it is indicative of how, well, fluid the language can be.

It’s that way with intercourse, another word that would today make modern Tom Sawyers snicker the way they do whenever the astronomy teacher mentions Uranus.

Intercourse used to be a proper Victorian word that meant two people engaged in polite conversation.

For instance: “Last week my wife had intercourse with the man who played Greg Brady in ‘The Brady Bunch.’”

Given the 19th century definition of the word, it’s perfectly true and within the marital restrictions set forth in our wedding vows.

It’s okay because, heck, I had intercourse with him, too!

It’s how Pennsylvania has a charming village named Intercourse. You can blame Sigmund Freud for the word’s perversion. He in scholarly works began to describe carnal intimacy as “sexual intercourse.”

So today my favorite unofficial state motto is: “Virginia Is For Lovers But Pennsylvania Has Intercourse!”

Hospitality is another example. We love hospitable people, hosts who treats guests with warmth and aplomb.

Care to guess the Latin root word of hospitable?

It’s hospital!

Yes, in 19th century England children slaving away in dreary work houses used to dream they’d get sent to the hospital because treatment there was so superior.

It was hospitality at its finest.

Today, nobody says, “Cabo’s booked. Why don’t we just head over to the hospital for a few days of R&R?”

Another example: Did you know the word computer is about 360 years older than the first computers?

It’s true. The first computers were people who made calculations; they’d compute.

Condescending used to be a word that described noble men and women who’d take the time to explain complicated issues to less educated souls.

Today, condescending to someone is faux pas — and I’d explain the definition of faux pas, but I wouldn’t want to risk coming off as too condescending.

Broadcast was initially an agricultural term that meant spreading seeds with a wide sweeping motion. It wasn’t until the 1920s that the term was applied to spreading the news.

We’ve all heard Teddy Roosevelt ejaculate the word “Bully!” Well, it used to be a term of endearment for do-gooder men and women. It wasn’t until the bullies began showing off their good deeds that bully began to morph into a word that meant intimidating.

I’m curious about where the word terrific will eventually settle. Of course, the root of the word is terror.

In fact, when T.R’s cousin, Franklin Delano died 70 years ago April 12, his last words were, “I have a terrific headache!”

It’s a sure thing FDR didn’t mean it the same way admiring film critics did when they wrote, “Michael Keaton is terrific in ‘Birdman!’”

So that’s it for today’s blog ejaculation. Thanks, babe, for the bully intercourse.

I hope you’ll check in tomorrow.

I promise you and I will have a gay old time!


Blog: Eight Days To Amish

Twitter: 8days2Amish


Sun Apr 26, 2015 at 08:30 PM PDT

Update & Thank You from Youffraita

by not a lamb

Reposted from not a lamb by cfk

Hey all, if you were around last Wednesday, Youffraita got some bad news about being evicted from her apartment on very short notice. Thanks to belinda ridgewood's diary, Youffraita got some needed moving and storage assistance from Marnie1. DKos pulls out the stops again.

I just got a call from Youffraita - she thinks she'll be offline for about two weeks until she gets a new internet connection set up. She wanted me to thank you for all the suggestions, moral support, and help and let you know that she's settled for now. I didn't get any details from her, but it sounds like she's got the housing part figured out.

Have a good evening, and big thanks again from Youff. I'm sure she'll let us all know once she's back online. Youffraita's got membership in a lot of different groups, so feel free to republish to wherever folks might miss her.

LGBT Literature is a Readers and Book Lovers series dedicated to discussing books that have made an impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. From fiction to contemporary nonfiction to history and everything in between, any book that touches on LGBT themes is welcome in this series. LGBT Literature posts on the last Sunday of every month at 7:30 PM EST. If you are interested in writing for the series, please send a Kosmail to Chrislove.
Unfortunately, I must begin this diary with an apology. You see, I had grand plans for a diary on a book that I love very much. But due to technological issues beyond my control, my plans went out the window, leaving very little time to write another diary. And this, kids, is why you don't wait until the last minute--although with dissertation writing this month, I had little other choice.

Which brings me to my diarist beg: I am deep in the throes of writing my dissertation, and I have less time than ever. Technological issues aside, I can write LGBT Literature diaries, but the end of the month is a crunch as I finish up chapter drafts, so of course I always appreciate the help. Over the course of this series, we have had an incredibly diverse array of writers cover a variety of different pieces of LGBT literature. I'd love for your voice to be heard here, as well. You don't have to be an academic, a writer, a prolific reader, or even LGBT. You just have to be a person with an interest in a piece of literature covering LGBT themes. As I said when I took over this series, we have a broad conception of LGBT literature here. If you have something in mind, please get in touch with me, even if you're a lurker who has never written a diary. I am more than happy to put you on the schedule and, if necessary, guide you through the steps of writing a diary. We look forward to hearing your voice here at LGBT Literature!

When I rebooted this series, I did promise a substantive diary every month, and an at least somewhat substantive diary you shall get. After I had my diary disaster, I looked around frantically for something I could cover fairly quickly--in other words, not a complex book that was going to take a while to unpack. As is often the case, the answer was literally under my nose and was actually sitting on my coffee table.

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A month from now, my captivity will all be over.

That's because I'll have, God willing, finished my paper, driven out to Kalamazoo with Ysabel, delivered my paper, become part of the new troika in charge of the Pseudo Society, talked about revising last year's paper for publication with my editors, driven back from Kalamazoo with Ysabel if she hasn't strangled me in my sleep for grinding my teeth, taken several days off from writing, and fallen face first into my wee bed once I've shoved the Double Felinoid onto the floor so there's room.  Dobby will be free! with plenty of time to romp, play, repaint my bathroom, and head over to the Heck Piazza Dodecaplex for my second and third and possibly fourth viewings of Avengers:  Age of Ultron.  

It'll be glorious, especially the parts about sleeping in my wee bed and ogling the gluteal regions of certain lead actors in Age of Ultron please ignore me I'm WWWWHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEE urgh argh help ack thump

The road trip itself promises to be exhausting but fun.  I've traveled with Ysabel before and we're reasonably drift-compatible, at least when it comes to bathroom use and meals.  We'll be staying with friends in Buffalo to break our journey, our hotel and car reservations are set, and as long as we can agree on music/audio books to listen to, it should all go well.  Traveling should be fun, after all, at least when it's voluntary and for pleasure.

Tonight's Research Rewind concerns such travel.  I've been to several countries, both physically and in the mass of tissue known as "Ellid's brain" in the Common Speech of the West, which has done as much to equip me for our regular trips into Badbookistan as anything else.  The diary includes several books that proved useful before trips to Europe and Great Britain, but the real meat is a trio of Travel Books So Bad They're Good:

- A popular, influential, and 100% bogus compendium of medieval wonders that inspired generations of travelers who longed to see wool trees and men with their faces in their chests.

- A lively, entertaining, and utterly misguided look at the America Civil War, written by a military observer who should have known better.

- A brisk little romp through 1930's Germany that somehow managed to miss the GIANT RAVING MEGALOMANIAC O'DOOM and his earth-toned followers marching through the streets.

All are worth a second look, which is why I now invite you all to venture below the 0.5 Orange Kaiju for a diary from late in 2011 that I called

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