Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout


Listening for Magic

Between reading Charles de Lint and Robin McKinley and this week's Phonosnout mentioning fantasy and trying to be open to writing to get some projects moving, I feel as though I've been sent a message. The kind that you need to hear many many times in the space of a few days to get through your thick head.

I need to be more ready, to be open to writing. Let myself be ready for words to come on paper or on the screen and they'll come, rather than thinking oh I'll just work on this instead until I'm ready (and then the day is gone, or someone is home or the cats want dinner).

It's not a matter of discipline necessarily, though for some people who like to impose discipline on themselves it might work that way. I've always been one of those people who don't react well to discipline. It makes me dig in my heels. Just as when someone tells me I should be doing something, even if it had occurred to me an instant before that I ought to and I had even gotten ready to do it, well, once someone tells me to do it, the task, whatever it is, becomes abhorrent, and I'd rather suffer than do it. Jim has learned this the hard way. I suspect it's one of my least loveable qualities.

So anyway, not discipline, but allowing it to happen rather than letting little things get in the way.

Both de Lint and McKinley talked about being open to magic and how it was there, and if writing is anything it's magic. Even when getting a single word out is like sweating BBs. I'd like to think that I'm open to magic, too, but haven't often experienced the kind that really seems unnatural or otherworldly, though I've experienced plenty of this world's magic. For example, everything is starting to bloom now. The camellia, the narcissi, all those flowering plants we have in our garden that I don't know the names of. The purply thing, and the plant we call snail bait, because the snails love to hang out under its thick flat leaves. (For some reason we don't have slugs in our garden but we have plenty of snails.) With all these storms, the skies have been magic, too.

Before I begin to sound like Pollyanna, I'd better get back to finishing my story. I think I'm just really really happy to be past the worst of this virus.

No, I can't leave it this sappy. Ok, I'll explain what we do with the snails we find on those leaves or under the rocks in the rock garden.. We peel them off and throw them out into the street. Then we leave it to natural selection. The slow guys, well the cars get them and then the birds and raccoons do; the fast guys, they get back to our garden to live and munch again. If you notice that gradually snails are getting quicker, well then, you can blame us. It's our fault.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


Lots of new discs this week in a big package from the U.K. and a single Swedish cd sent from a friend in Finland.

The disc from Finland is a traditional group from Sweden, Triakel, which features the vocals of Emma Härdelin, who also sings with Garmarna. These are wonderfully simple clear versions of the songs. Wish I knew Swedish and could understand the lyrics.

A new Martin Carthy, Signs of Life. Mostly a great delight, as always, but I never did like "Heartbreak Hotel" the first time, and I'm not sure about his cover of the Bee Gee's "New York Mine Disaster, 1941", either, but this album has wonderful versions of some great, classic traditional songs, like "Sir Patrick Spens", "The Wife of Usher's Well", and "Barbary Allen".

Along those lines a new Steeleye Span, without Maddy Prior, but with Gay Woods. I would say this is up and down. Some wonderful parts but others I gladly skip over.

Two Heather Nova singles. Even though I like the acoustic versions on these, I'm think I'm giving up on her--most of her recent work is just too overproduced for my tastes.

The absolutely new thing in this lot was Thea Gilmore's Burning Dorothy, which I asked my U.K. friend to find for me on the basis of a review in Mojo. It's folk/rock, rather Susan McKeown (vocals) meets Ani Difranco (sound). Though perhaps she doesn't have quite the range of either artist, this is a very enjoyable disc. I already have a song or two stuck in my head.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Finished Sebastian Faulk's Birdsong which I ended up liking better than I'd thought I would mid-way. His depiction of WWI was especially carefully wrought--the characters much less so. It surprised me that his main character seemed just as opaque, self-contained and distant from the beginning of the novel (pre-War) as he was during the war scenes. Still, I got interested in the overall story and kept reading--that's the important part.

Also went through Charles de Lint's new collection of stories, Moonlight and Vines. It's easy to read through a collection of these stories, because having the Newford setting and some recurring characters makes it easier to enter the world of each one. Otherwise I often have trouble reading lots of short stories in a row. And I love the way de Lint handles magic in the real world, except I get tired of how he always has to depict most of his character's resisting that they've been touched by magic. Of course he has to include it, it's just that he is forced to include it so often it's repetitive. Maybe that's an argument against reading the whole collection at once. It does make me like the characters who easily accept it more.

I also read Brian Moore's The Magician's Wife. I've read a lot of Brian Moore's books in the past and liked some of them a lot, but this one I'm not sure why I finished it--I think mostly because I was sure it was going to be worth it somehow, but it really wasn't. The only interesting thing to me about the novel was that it was set in an era of time about which I know little--France, during the reign of Louis Napoleon III, when the French were about to take over Algeria as a colony. Sad, as Brian Moore died recently, and I wanted to like this.

After seeing Cocteau's Beauty and The Beast on some friends' DVD player on Saturday night, I spent this morning re-reading Robin McKinley's lovely Beauty. She writes like an angel, and this is one of my favourite books. I can't find my copy of Rose Daughter--I wonder who I loaned it to? I hope to someone who will return it.

Anyway, I re-read Beauty for the umptieth time, enjoying the simple beauty of the story and the retelling, and of McKinley's writing.

Lots of reading. Can you tell I was home sick with the flu for two days? I read a lot considering I was mostly asleep.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Well, not such a good writing week, given the muzziness of my head with this virus.

A batch of poems came back and went back out the door again, almost within 24 hours.

I'm working on the revision of my short story, the longer one that was critiqued last week. I was supposed to send it off by email yesterday. Ulp. The day disappeared on me and once I got going it was time to get ready to visit friends.

So now it's time to write write write and get that beast in shape.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February 1975

116. Note Fantasy

Fold it, sneak to the door, slide the paper under, run back to desk, hope no one noticed. True love walks by, sees it, picks it up, reads it "Help i'm being held captive in a bi lab. Your maiden in distress." He flings open door, and carries ya out to the wild blue yonder. Note fantasies are fun.

117. Fantasy Fantasy

As a matter of fact, all kinds of fantasies are fun. Except nightmares. Nightmares aren't fun unless you have a nightmare fetish. For that matter, i've never met anyone with a nightmare fetish. It might be kind of interesting to talk to someone who did. Certainly Phonosnout material. Nightmare fetishes. Hmm, I'll have to think about that. How do you tell if someone has a nightmare fetish? Hey do you have a nightmare fetish?

118. Chapter for Laura

This is a chapter for Laura--to say how good it's going for her, and how happy she's getting. You see her true love from the dance likes her and has taken her out. Laura, i'm happy for you but so bloody jealous!
     Now that Ron's read this i can say...Laura & Ron, sitting in a tree...

119. Half-time

It's half-time at a basketball game. I get to do the thirty second clock, you know, the team can't have possession of the ball for more than thirty seconds or my buzzer goes--loud and clear. The buzzer has a short in it; it also goes nine out of ten times when you turn the timer on. Buzzzzzzzz right in the middle of the game. Very embarrassing. I also get (right now!) to buzz every minute for five minutes.

120. Running Around

On running around, i don't have too much to say. I do have a lot to say about being involved. Like, don't. I mean getting involved is stupid. I got home at 6:05 from drama practice, gobbled dinner, got here for basketball at 6:20. It takes about 8 minutes to walk, too.

121. Asshole of the Year

Well, i nominate Spectrum's coach for Asshole of the Year. He yells at Laura (she's doing the time, the lighted scoreboard), his players, the refs, and his language is very colourful. If you call that sort of thing "colour". He also yells at the ceiling. Poor ceiling.

122. Basketball Game

Hey, Phonosnout! Guess what? The score is 55 to 17. But--for the other team. What a drag. This is so bad it's embarrassing. Later: hey, we're coming back (?) 71 to 42. Still later: we lost.

123. Macbeth again

Time for Macbeth again. Guess who gets to be Macbeth for the last two acts? Me, me, me! ("Out--out brief candle!") I read the first act today (really Act IV) stumble stumble! Read the last (Act V) in two days. I am Macbeth. Macbeth is me. I love plays!1

124. About Plays

Today, also, another play. Like dress rehearsal of drama play in front of the school (anybody who can get out of block B). I get to prompt and work the taperecorder with Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and 2001, A Space Odyssey (oddity?) Anyway, we'll have fun, fun, fun. Like thrills, joy and rapture.

125. It's over

The "dress rehearsal" is over; we got a lot of good suggestions. Yay! No more nervousness until next Monday night (five nights from now). I was scared i'd blow the timing on the music, or get lost so when someone needed prompting i'd blow it. Anyway it's all over--dere ain't no more (at least until Sunday and Monday).


1. I vaguely remember that the project I did for this class was an SF retelling of the play. What a ghastly idea!

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