(no subject)

 About ten or so years ago... (Briefly considers checking archives to determine exactly when.  Discards notion with perjudice.) there was a flood at Mandala House.  The pipes in an upstairs bathroom sink burst while the Co Pilot and I were in Boston for 4 days, attending Arisia, and by the time the housesitters got to the place and turned the water off, roughly 20% of my library had been destroyed in the deluge.  

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, much yelling at insurance adjustors, and much hasty packing up of what books had survived, so we could empty the damaged rooms and make space for the contractors to work therein.  The books got packed up into 10 gallon blue plastic bins which, when we stacked them 5 high, created a ten foot long wall -- and that wasn't even counting the comics, or the books that hadn't been stored downstairs at all.  (Hint.  When the movers unpacked us from the truck in 2002, Co Pilot responded to one of the workmen's ribbing by admitting that we had a ton of books.  The truck driver, who was watching the built in scales, corrected him "Two, actually"  So even with the do-decimation, there was a lot of cellulose going on there.)

Once the walls and floors and ceiling had all been repaired, and we'd made a run by Ikea for 10 f00t tall bookshelves, we had been living with that great wall of books for something like 6 months, and I was just DONE.  I unpacked the lot with only passing consideration as to subject, category, author, or genre -- mostly I concerned myself with grouping the damn things by size and my ability to fit them all into the shelves, and pretty much left it at that.  End result being that in a person could spend hours in there hunting and probably not know where to find Ken Scholes or Jo Walron, unless they asked me for directions first.  And even then, I might have an easier time just going in and looking for it myself.

Every once in awhile, I go in there and spend an hour or two reminding myself why I haven't tried to apply any sort of library science to the Book Hoard... it's a bit like playing a fusion of Tetris, Scrabble, and Kiss-Shag-Marry, with a side game of "where did this even come from," and a rousing chorus of "Jeezy Creezy, I need to either read some more of these, or stop spending money on books!"

Over the course of a year or so, I often wind up with a stack of books that I bought on spec, but then found I didn't love.  I try to give those away, because for one, used bookstores don't seem to be a Thing up here in the Frozen Northeast, and for two, I am religiously opposed to throwing books away.  As a kid, I always wanted to have books that were mine, and that I would get to keep, and not have to turn back in to the library, or put back on my mother's shelves, but somehow my mom kept giving me things like clothes, and bikes, and stuffed diplodoci, and tea sets instead.  I spent my allowance every week on 2 comic books and a bottle of strawberry Fanta at the corner bodega, and to this day, the ability to buy a book I fancy is my emotional rescue tactic when I feel terrible.

Which is probably why I have so damn many books.

Anybody want one?
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(no subject)

Where's the best place to stand whilst screaming at the sky, I wonder.
Upon what footing is one best to berate history for its savage redundancies,
Plead the case of those who tried,
Even knowing said case cannot be unplaited from the lot of those who couldn't be arsed?
What language must one learn to bargain with the storm,
Banter with the dust,
Beg mercy from the fire?
How should we all pose to be sure time shows our best side only to those who may live to care?
Where can anyone hide while the ship of state turns belly up to the night,
and ghostlight greed betrays each hidden, secret space to the dark and pitiless cold?
What gods do bullets pray to? Whom does the smouldering ash call Lord
When water breaks, and only stone makes answer?

Where will anyone be safe when the sky starts screaming back?

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Fólkvangr -- by Catt Kingsgrave

I will build my house in the land of the dead.
I will build it high with walls blood red,
And when I wake from a dead girl's bed
No kin will call me home.
I'll make my grave in the Star Queen's lands,
Where the Golden Lady's apple lands
When it falls from the bough into my hands,
And the seedlings part the loam.

I will take my due in an acre green,
Where sweet springs rise to wash me clean,
Dishonor naught but a fading dream,
And wounds no longer shown.
I'll name myself as I choose to be,
Not kin-beholden -- strong and free,
And blood-wyrd claim in the name of she
who lived but to atone!

From the sins she bore will I hew my beams
And thatch o'erhead her stolen dreams,
With guilt-stone walls like silent screams
For blame no part her own.
And when that house of shame stands tall,
And spiteful lies run wall to wall,
I'll lay her down on a thorny pall
of crops her kin have sown.

Then shut the door with an iron latch.
I'll kindle fire, I'll light the thatch
And burn it all to a blackened patch,
And know myself disowned;
Unbound by any bitter kin,
Unfettered by their heirloom sin,
With wisdom, strength, and wit to win
And a name that's all my own.

Then I'll ride out from the sleeping lands,
my mount astride, and in my hands
The sun, a song, a lifetime's plans
And the whole broad world to roam.
My fate to carve in flesh and bone,
In song, in steel, in living stone,
Companioned or long years alone,
I’ll build myself a home.

(This one's inspired by Speranza's magnificent story, Down Into the Golden Lands. You should all go and read it. It is very little like this poem at all.)

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Offering Fire -- Catt Kingsgrave

Offering Fire -- Imbolc 2016
by Catt Kingsgrave,

Take a night in the middle of winter's embrace,
Midway between Solstice and Equinox's grace,
When the darkness still crawls at a glacial pace
And douse every light you can find in the place.
Every switch, every bulb, LED and bright flame --
Make the darkness complete as the deepest of shame.
Draw down every curtain, till all that remains
Is the darkness, the chill, and the silent refrain
Of your hopes, and the stories you always did know
To be true, to be you; what you hide, what you show,
What you flinch from above, what you dredge from below
No matter the wending of ways you may go.
Then out of that silence, and out of that truth,
Kneel down to your hearthstone, and kindle your proof
Out of brittle, dry faith, vain abstractions of youth;
Out of compliments, birthdays, report cards and boots

With big straps; tuck in all you had hoped you might be
Then strike up a flame, and set yourself free.

Take a breath and hold on as the gloom splits apart,
As the smoke spirals up in the shape of your heart.
Quell the impulse to snatch what you can from the sparks
As fire makes the room that you needed to start
And you know, all at once in the heat of the blaze;
You're far more than the sum of your nights and your days,
As the fire is far more than the wood it consumes,
And a home is far more than a handful of rooms,
And a family is more than the blood you may share,
And you'll never prove magic, however you stare,
But this blaze at your center is where it must start;
This wellspring of fire -- your own Sacred heart
Is the Mother of every flame in your life.
So go get a candle and spark it to life.
Then another from that one, and on through the gloom
Till a warm web of welcome weaves room into room,

And your home is aglow, every light in full blaze:
Enough warmth to last through the cold winter days.

But here is a secret; the sweetest of fires
Locked safe in its hearth ring must finally expire.
So to safeguard this grace past the span of a day,
You must -- this is vital now -- give it away.
You must shepherd that spark from the place where you find it,
Till every hearth in the night is aglow.
You must kindle the wicks in the dark to remind it
That fire persists even under the snow.
As you sang through the longest night's hours to honor
The chill where the bright seed of summer would grow,
Spread light like your passion and flame like your glory;
Rekindle the story you always did know
In your bones, in your breath, in the beat of your heart
By your depth, by your breadth, in the sum of your parts;
That Fire is not stolen from Thunderers' hoards
No conqueror's triumph of bristling swords

No rarified treasure in glittering hoards
When it spreads, truth to truth, hand to hand, word to word.

When our songs lift it up in a kindling wave,
Chasing fear from the door and cold grief from the grave,
Whispering of freedom to every bound slave,
And singing the fame of the lost and the brave,
Let us stand astride mountains, our lanterns in hand
And share out our fire wherever we can,
Till every home glimmers, from shingle to strand
And whatever may come, we'll all see where we stand.
And who's standing before us, behind us, beside
Whose lamp can rekindle our own when it's died
Whose hearth offers shelter, whatever betide,
To those Rovers whose truth wanders all the world wide.
Whose welcome is worthy, whose comfort is kind
Who uses their passion and fire to find,
The slim track through the perils of spirit and mind
So it will not be always the blind leading blind.

Let us raise up our lanterns on this Imbolc day
And shepherd the Fire that shows us the way.

IIf you like this little ditty and you have a buck to spare
Drop a nickel in the kitty, 'cause it's always nice to share!)

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And another thing

So this is another thing Murder Ballads has been doing -- we call these 'Poetry Collages'. My verse, [personal profile] slipjig's strings, and a bit of atmosphere to cover traffic noise because we were totes low-teching this.

It's not something you'll find on Pretty In Scarlet, but we thought you guys might enjoy it anyhow.

Whadaya think?

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Souncloud Link -- Pretty In Scarlet preview track

So, to celebrate our reaching 25% of our Indiegogo goal for Pretty in Scarlet, [personal profile] slipjig and I have decided to sneak-release one of our favorite tracks on the album. (Not the least reason being that it's an earworm -- you have been warned!)

So here's the story.

Sometime last year, [personal profile] copperbadge dropped an offhand comment to the effect that "If you can't tell Captain America what you're doing, you probably shouldn't be doing it."

I got earwormed immediately, sat down, and banged out The Ballad of Captain America's Disapproving Face, which [personal profile] shadesong summarily published in her superhero themed poetry anthology, Flying Higher.

Silly me, I thought it was a done deal at that point. But then no, [personal profile] slipjig and I sat down and figured out chords. And a kazoo solo. And then we kinda had to record it -- there really was no other option, it simply HAD to be done! And man, are we glad we did now.

So here it is -- The Ballad of Captain America's Disapproving Face, pre-release draft.

Click! Listen! Sing along with the kazoo solo (we know you're going to want to) and most of all, SHILL THIS LINK! We need all the visibility we can get in order for this CD release to actually happen, and repetition of sightings is far more important than widespread splash campaign. Even if you think you have a tiny little readership, I guarantee there'll be some folks on yours who'll never see these links, or know about this band any other way than because YOU told them about it. And besides -- I've been told the only reliable way to get rid of an earworm this catchy is to share it around flagrantly via Social Media, and bask in the glow of the screams of torment rising from those whom you have now afflicted.

Or, y'know, something like that.

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Murder Ballads, Indiegogo, and the album that will be!

So then -- a couple of announcements.

First, Pretty In Scarlet, the debut album of Murder Ballads (which is made up of [personal profile] slipjig and yours truly) is 99% in the can. *Cue pandemonium and glitter cannons.* We can now tell you that this album will have guest appearances by the likes of Heather Dale and Ben Deschamps, S.J. Tucker, Marnen Laibow-Koser, and Matt Young. We can also tell you that we just can't WAIT to share this with you.

We even have a Murder Ballads website up now, thanks to the heroic (and gratefully received) efforts of [personal profile] rain_herself. As we close in on the official release date (Mid November, of course, because who needs NaNoWriMo when you could have new music instead, amirite?) you'll be able to find news, dates, incriminating photos, and possibly even a few other surprises we have in mind to entice you thence.

You'll also find links to our Pretty In Scarlet Indiegogo campaign. Because, as I'm sure we've all noticed by now, our society is a capitalist one, and music is not a high-profit endeavor at this level of things. We will be releasing the album digitally no matter what, but let's face it -- no young musician stares up into the sky at night and tells themselves "One day, I'm gonna release an Internet Download!: No, we want to bring this to you on actual plastic.

And to do that, we need to do some fundraising. We've launched a campaign to cover the costs thereof, and now we need your help. We do need donations, it is true, and we think we've got some pretty good perks on offer for those who've got the wherewithal to step up and pitch in. But we also need publicity. We need word of mouth, we need people talking, texting, tweeting, tumbling and tubthumpings about the campaign, to let those potential donors whom we do NOT actually know, figure out how much they desperately want to participate, and help us bring the real, tangible, pettable version of Pretty In Scarlet to fruition.

So please visit the Indiegogo campaign. Choose a donation if you're in a position to make one, and boost the signal if you're not. Help us bring you the music we've so enjoyed making this past year. And who knows -- if someone out there wants it bad enough, there could even be a Dare or two</i> in the offing.

If nothing else, you know it won't be boring.
So hey! Tl:dr = go
here! Click things! Shill the campaign! Cue the dancing horses and festive mime burlesque! BOOGIE ROBOTS!

Woo hoo!

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Poetry post -- Same Old Song

Same Old Song -- by Catt Kingsgrave
after Rudyard Kipling's An Old Song
Rating: PG
Wordcount: 444. Yes, really.
Author's Note: Kipling is one of my favorite poets of all time. There's just no one like him for scansion, meter, and rhyme, and I stand in eternal awe of his skills with lyric storytelling, even if I can't help squirming at the stories he sometimes tells with those skills. He was, unfortunately, a Man of his Times, and those times were, in a lot of ways, very full of Fail. He was really rather progressive for his time and class, but compared to our way of seeing things today, there's still a lot of Fail going. So then, as my pal Rudyard was a Man of his Times, so I am a Woman of my own Times, and well, there's still a lot of fail going on, I'm afraid. It is the job of the poet to speak to what she sees, in my world, and so that's what I do.
Feedback: Sure.
Tips: If you're motivated, I'll not say no.

Same Old Song

So long as on the Marble Hill the white haired spiders perch,
So long as guilty sinners preach the loudest in the church,
While comfy nobles roll their eyes to hear the hungry groan,
And think it yet unproven just what money cannot own
If you love me as I love you, what pair so happy as we two?

So long as scissors cut the page, yet bend beneath the rock,
So long as Whites sit on the Bench, and Blacks sit on the Dock,
So long as on starvation chic does fashion hold its sway,
While money fattens Hollywood and homeless haunt L.A.
If you love me as I love you, what knife can cut our love in two?

So long as 'neath the thumping bass the writhing bodies grind,
And lionize the singer, calling not his crimes to mind,
So long as 'neath the flashing strobes we hear the oft-told song;
Of "bitch just had it coming" and "She's stringing him along".
If you love me as I love you, we'll play the game and win it too

So long as 'easy money' parts the foolish from his cash,
While wide eyed children's innocence is burnt up in a flash
So long as those remorseful fists forget their oath to change,
The instant he is sure she cannot stray beyond his range,
If you love me as I love you, what can life kill, or death undo?

So long death and illness stalk the poorest homes in town,
And news won't make the papers till a wealthy man goes down,
While every placid viewer shares his favored network's whim
And thinks no crime worth action lest the injured party's him
If you love me as I love you, what knife can cut our love in two?

So long as those in privilege tune the engine of the State,
And money rules the fortunes of each would-be-candidate,
So long as bread and circuses can pacify the mob,
And tell a starving slave he should be glad to have a job,
If you love me as I love you, all Earth is servant to us two?

By Docket, Filibuster, Scandal, Cover-ups, and Lies,
By Football, Guns, and MTV, by firm and flabby thighs,
By Diets, Dope, and Occupy, by Patriots and Drones,
By all the bland atrocity we've come to call our own,
If you love me as I love you, what pair so happy as we two?
If you love me as I love you, what pair so happy as we two?

-- Catt Kingsgrave

If you liked this little ditty and you have a bit to spare,
Drop a nickel in the kitty, 'cause it's always nice to share

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Going to LunaCon this weekend


And here’s my panel schedule, in case you’re going to be at the con too, and want to cross paths and share fansquee. (I love to share fansquee in meatspace — nothing like it in the world!)

Friday @ 4:00 pm — Character Building. (This is kind of a writer’s workshop panel, but I don’t think it’ll be all that formally structured, really.) And oh lookit that — apparently I’m the mod. Well then.

Friday @5:30 pm — Program Participant Wokshop. (How to be a good panelist, moderator, vendor, art show participant, and fan, and how to survive a convention when you’re clocked to the wall.)

Friday @ 7:00 pm — Gender Parity (“What is wrong with out media and literature? What’s right? There’s an ongoing global change, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. So what can we do about it?” Also known as ‘The Goddesses of the Copy Book Heading Limp Up To Explain That Women Are People Yet Again.’)

Saturday @ 11:00 am — Filking for Fun and Profit. (What it says on the tin.)

Saturday @ 1:00 pm — Simulating Metal in Your Costuming. (Demonstration workshop, and it’s pretty much what it says on the tin. I’ll be bringing the stuff with which I made my Scarlet Witch headdress to show off.)

Saturday @ 2:00 — Acting Up (Actors, stuntmen, and performers talk about what it’s like to be onstage and in front of the cameras. Also known as — I’ll show you my IMDB page if you’ll show me yours. *grin!* And for those who’ve never seen the Catt And Ken show, my Co Pilot is on this panel with me, so it’s not impossible that there could be some impromptu shenanigans-I-totally-don’t-mean-stagefighting-here-at-all-really.)

Saturday @ 4:00 pm — Panel in the Pool (Living in an Alien Environment (What it says on the tin — panelists in swimwear float around in the pool and talk worldbuilding. It’s actually been pretty fun in the past. Ken’s on this one too, so expect us to at least reference our novel once or twice before the panel is done.)

Saturday @ 5:00 pm — Test Panel Ideas Here. (This panel has no agenda. This panel NEEDS no agenda! We’re making it up as we go along — no brakes, GO WITH GOD! *The God in question being Dionysos. Hang onto your Maenads, kids, it’s gonna be a bumpy night!)

Saturday @ 10:pm — True Malevolence (How evil is evil? We’ll discuss antagonists, evil creatures, and really bad guys here. And hopefully we’ll move beyond the basics too, to get to some of the really subtle and thorny concepts that make evil worth the study.)

So that’ll be Lunacon then. If you’re in the NYC area, do please consider coming up and hanging out a bit, because I’d love to meet up with you and hang out (in the scant amoun of time not already taken by the con itself, that is.) I’ll try to get some filk time in as well, but with this schedule, I cannot promise anything at all.

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