mrissa: (mrischief)
I'm reading a history of the papacy, and I keep having two problems:

1. I keep thinking "Viterbo" is a misprint for "Ytterbo."
2. I keep forgetting that they named Tivoli Gardens after somewhere else, so whenever they mention the pope fleeing to Tivoli or proceeding to Tivoli or whatever, I picture him on the giant swings. Wheee!
mrissa: (reading)
Picked up from [ profile] rushthatspeaks.

The book I am currently reading: Ambrose Bierce, Shadows of Blue and Grey. From Grandpa's collection. Wrenching stuff.

The books I am currently writing: Um. Polish revisions on What We Did to Save the Kingdom. Deeper revisions on The True Tale of Carter Hall. And poking around the edges of the Aesir noir book, which doesn't have a title yet, because I really should get The True Tale out to beta readers before I start anything else, but...y'know...I like writing books...and it's been a long time since I started on a new book...and there is so much shiny....

The book I love most: Seriously. Seriously? No one who likes books enough to answer this meme is going to have their One True Book Love. It is virtually impossible. It may have been virtually impossible since the early 19th century, because how many serious book people are like that? Book I love most, uff da. What a question.

The last book I received as a gift: Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk.
The last book I gave as a gift: Bagthorpes Unlimited by Helen Cresswell. Although I have some ready to give very soon.

The nearest book on my desk: the Bierce. Also my Kindle, which doesn't have someone else's book in progress on it at the moment: I finished the Kindle book I was reading at [ profile] timprov's appointment yesterday, and I haven't started another. I am in the middle of using that to read my own book for revisions, though, so What We Did is apparently equally close.
mrissa: (reading)
Review copy provided by Tor.

According to the information on the ARC, this is due out in February. I live in Minnesota and am going to spend a total of one night this year by the seaside. So the odds that I would read this book with the ocean crashing outside my window were pretty low. And yet here we are.

I think that "large" and "small" get used as pejorative too often when discussing the scope of a book, "small" in particular. When previous books in a series have been all about world-shaking events, for the natural end of a trilogy to be about personal healing and personal consequences is something it's hard to put in proper context. And it's not that personal consequences, in this case, have no potential for the shaking of the world. They always have. That's how this series goes. But the focus is very clear, very personal, in this one.

And it is focused. It is the "morning when it's that kind of cloudy day that's too bright but sunglasses don't work either" kind of lighting, not like the way I described By the Mountain Bound as high contrast between smoky dark of the mead hall and bright sunlight on snow. With By the Mountain Bound and All the Windwracked Stars, I could see--I suppose--some dispute as to which should be read first. But this should be read last. This is a going on and going forward book that needs to come at the end of the trilogy. The other two are tributary to it, emotionally speaking. By the Mountain Bound is still my favorite. But this one is an ending and a mending and an acknowledgment of other things that can't be mended and just have to be gone on with. And the recurrence of stubborn human girls continues.

"What's it like to be the family of the last and first einherjar in the world?" Well. Here you go, this is the book. The ways that family hurt each other, and the ways that family heal each other, and the ways that family sometimes have to step back and watch even if it kills them. And not having to bring about the end of the world all over again, we hope. Ideally not every time. Now that this trilogy is a whole thing, I can say that I like the whole thing. Go read, when you can.
mrissa: (think so do ya?)
When I lived in California, nothing I read in the paper ever shocked me, and now that I've moved back home, this is no longer the case. You'd think this would be backwards, that being culturally realigned to where I'm more comfortable would lead to being shocked less. But no. In California this sort of thing never, ever happened. Here's what I mean, right here in this state politics article. Second page.

Did you see it? Did you see what language the Republican party chair used there? On the one hand I was shocked that they reprinted it in the newspaper, but on the other hand they had to, once he said it right out in public like that.

He called people quislings. Right there in public. Out loud.

This never, ever happened when I lived in California.

Here, here's the quote: "Republican Party chairman Tony Sutton took it a step further, dismissing defectors as 'a generation of Republicans that were not successful, the permanent minority. There's a special place in hell for these quislings.'" He's talking about people who are supporting an Independence Party candidate. And he called them the q-word. I could not believe it when [ profile] markgritter read it to me.

I also couldn't believe that it wasn't in the article's headline, but hey, they're not paying headline writers what they used to. Still. Uff da, this year's elections.
mrissa: (amused)
[ profile] aedifica has reminded me, for reasons that will probably remain obscure to her until halfway through the clip, of my absolute favorite bit of Fry and Laurie's Jeeves and Wooster. This is like the grown-up version of Bert and Ernie's cookies in bed bit, in that it never, ever, ever fails to make me laugh. Your mileage, of course, may vary, but the link is here, embedding disabled for some reason.
mrissa: (viking princess necklace)
Last week a friend wrote to ask me what should be a very simple question: who would I cast as Thor in a movie or TV series?

Short answer is, apparently, I wouldn't; or else I'd have to hold really good open casting calls, because I could not think of a single actor I considered right to play Thor.

But I did have some ideas for some other Norse gods: I want Tina Majorino (Mac from Veronica Mars) to play Hel, because I think she would rock that role like an unspecified rocking thing. I want T. J. Thyne (Hodgins from Bones) to play Loki, because he has the exactly right manic chaotic spark, and also it would fit and be just right that he would be fairly small compared to the rest of the gods. And my moment of brilliance in this, in my own completely unbiased opinion, was that Tahmoh Penikett (Helo from Battlestar Galactica) and Jim True-Frost (Prez from The Wire) should play brothers in lo these many things, and in this case Tahmoh Penikett should be Tyr and Jim True-Frost should be Hod. I'm also thinking of Allison Janney (C.J. Cregg from The West Wing) as Frigg.

Anybody else full of theories? I know, I know: startling lack of Jane Lynch. [ profile] timprov thought she should be Hel instead, but I just can't give up Tina Majorino in that.
mrissa: (viking princess necklace)
So [ profile] timprov and I had just finished getting burgers and malts with the folks, Grandma, and Johan before he goes back to Sweden. (Yes, [ profile] laurel, I give you permission to imagine me sitting at the Malt Shop with Johan Santana, even though that is totally not what happened.) ([ profile] markgritter is in California or he'd have come too.) And there is a new store along the stretch there with the Malt Shop and Blackbird and Heidi's and Patina. It's called something like Shoppe Local, which means that we have to pronounce it Shoppy Local, because we are abby normal.

And! They had! Oh, this is exciting. Other than the Christmas presents. And other than the baby presents for someone who is spawning and will be relieved to see I take open (semi-hostile) hints about baby presents. And other than the print of the octopus on the dictionary page from "thenceforward" to "thermal capacity." And other than a couple of greeting cards I will keep in reserve for when I need them.

I got a locket.

Did you know I always wanted a locket? Well, I didn't. But this is my locket. It is gold, and it has a raven girl on the front in black. She is wearing a raven cloak over her dress. She is cheekily pleased as raven girls are. The locket is just the right size so that when I put it in the palm of my hand and close my fingers around it, it fills my hand. And the gold is textured in a way that reminds me of my Gran, and the chain rattles along it in that percussionary locket way.

I don't know who goes in it for sure yet. I was thinking Niddhogg and Yggdrasil, facing off inside my locket, but we'll have to see. Wee tiny pictures of them may not be the easiest thing. Hel and her lupine brother might be nice. It is that kind of a raven girl, you see. Well. Or else I am.
mrissa: (Default)
I was not sure whether to begin this post:

Woe, woe, gloom, despair! We will all catch tuberculosis in the workhouse and be buried in pauper's graves, woe!

or perhaps:

We have now completed the Scandosotan Stereotype Checklist and are perfect caricatures of ourselves.

but I think I will just go with the classic:

I bought a car. It is blue.

We are not only the proud owners of a used Volvo, but the first CD in its CD player was the Indigo Girls. Yah. Yah. That is just how much of a demographic we are.
mrissa: (dead vikings)
Today the delivery people brought ten pounds of Hungarian sausage and four volumes of Chinese epic. This is well worth the annoyance they cause the small dogbeast.

I bought some Christmas presents today, and I was compelled to buy something for myself as well. I was lured. Sweden playing cards. (Not Swedish: these are marked with K, Q, J, not K, D, Kn. Sweden-themed.) Two decks. When I saw that Gustav Vasa was the King of Diamonds, I had to buy them (if only to find out who they had for the Knaves). Kings: Gustav Vasa (Diamonds), Gustav III (Hearts), Gustav II Adolf (Spades), Karl XIV Johan (Clubs). Queens: Hedvig Eleonora (Diamonds), Lovisa Ulrika (Hearts), Kristina (Spades), Desideria (Clubs). Knaves: Bellman (Hearts), Linnaeus (Diamonds), De La Gardie (Spades), Nobel (Clubs). The Spades in particular amuse me. I had expected politicians rather than Famous Swedes for the Knaves, but Famous Swedes is good, too. Now I want to play 500 when my grands are in town so I can inkle botany. Or explosives.

It's a better day than some other days I could mention. I do wish I could shake this cold, though.
mrissa: (intense)
When I was writing Dwarf's Blood Mead and The Mark of the Sea Serpent, the word I overused and had to search on to replace with other phrasings was "grim." There was way too much grim in that book. Grim, grim, grim. For What We Did to Save the Kingdom, the word in question is apparently "cheerful."

Mostly with a certain level of irony.
mrissa: (viking princess necklace)
Disclosure: I received this as a review copy from Tor, and [ profile] matociquala is a friend of mine.

Anybody who has been reading this lj for more than, like, five minutes knows that I am picky about my Norse. Really picky. Annoyingly picky.

With All the Windwracked Stars, [ profile] matociquala did an end-run around half of the picky, but she did it the hard way. Here is what is easy to get right about a mythology: who has what names. What external attributes, roughly, they have. Here is what is hard to get right about a mythology: what effects it has on the people who live under it. What it means to hold it as a belief system, and sometimes a belief system with substantial life evidence supporting it.

[ profile] matociquala left out the names and attributes, for the most part. This was not a book that featured lots of gods or references to gods; nobody was running around talking about Braggi's white hair and Thor's goats. She skipped the easy part and went right on to hard, because this is not set on Earth, and it's after Ragnarok, and things go on. But they go on in an extremely Norse way. This book doesn't need to run around making people swear by Freyja's cats, because it's Norse in its bones, and you don't need to put on a display for that. Shouldn't, really.

And, backing up a bit, that is what I can say about this book without getting spoilery: it is about how things go on. How your world ends personally, or your world ends socially, nationally, internationally--the world ends really, as a world--and you still have to find a way to go on. And sometimes none of the options are good and there's no way to get to good from where you are, but there's still a way to get to better, and that's worth doing.

Also [ profile] matociquala knows where to place a holmgang, structurally speaking, which is satisfying to me in a way that other things are not.

This is my favorite Bear book in awhile, possibly ever. It comes out next week, and if you live in the US or care what happens to our politics here, you will probably have something to celebrate or something to cheer yourself up for next week, right? Maybe some of both, depending on how many important elections are taking place in your precinct. Possibly it is my grim Norse-tinged sense of the world that makes this book seem extremely appropriate for that, but you could at least give it a try and find out.
mrissa: (question)
More questions for me! [ profile] oursin asks:

1. Is there something you would love to be able to cook, but somehow it just doesn't work for you?

You know, I have alarming amounts of faith in my own cooking skills. There are things I haven't done successfully -- deep-frying, for example, and any kind of decoration that's very fiddly -- but mostly I expect that's because I haven't worked at it rather than because I Just Can't. And nothing particularly important to me has fallen into that category: as long as I'm well, I can do more or less what I want.

2. Do you ever get story ideas that appear to have come to the wrong address because they're not your sort of thing?

Not really, no. I don't have a lot of preconceptions about what's my sort of thing, since I read pretty broadly, so that probably helps.

3. If you didn't live where you do live, where would you like to live?

On the West River Road, maybe? It's really nice there, but there are places that aren't crazy-nice like around Lake of the Isles, which is my if-money-was-no-object place to live. Or maybe Linden Hills. They're kind of joiners in that neighborhood, which puts my teeth on edge a bit, but on the other hand it's got Rice Paper and Sebastian Joe's, and how could that be bad? Also I hear good things about St. Louis Park schools, so if it was a time that was relevant, I might have to investigate that.

4. What historical character would you most like to meet?

Aud the Deep-Minded. Certain Parties have opined that Aud is a perfectly terrible middle name for a child, so I think I'm going to have to do what I did with Nöe and find a story that has an Aud in the middle of it.

5. Mountains or oceans?

Only neither or both in conjunction. Mountains make me nervous. (Things can sneak up on you. Like other mountains. Large foothills. Etc.) On the other hand, if you have good reliable prairie and then ocean, the ocean can sneak up on you, too. But fjords are good. Fjords are about the best thing, if you can't have good reliable prairie.

And the phone just rang to say my dinner guests are on their way, so I'm going to start continue cooking.
mrissa: (question)
[ profile] dichroic asks:

1. If you had the power to make one person widely heard (say, a column in every newspaper or in a place online or on TV where multitudes would find their words and thoughts difficult to ignore) who would you choose?

Carl Sagan. Here is what I mean: I would want to find a modern equivalent, someone who has successfully worked as a scientist but has a genuine gift for explaining not only what's going on but why it's awesome. We have some really good science journalists out there, but we need more.

2. Somewhere or other not long ago, you mentioned the religious denomination you belong to. [She then tries to remember etc. and clarifies that she understands that being a member of a particular denomination does not mean you agree with each and every point someone else in that denomination makes.]

My one-word religious self-description has been "Haugean," but you won't find churches listed in the phone book as "Christian - Haugean" or "Lutheran - Haugean." This is what happens when you have a group full of cranky and antisocial Norwegians with a theologically individualist bent. Hans Nielsen Hauge was a reformer in nineteenth-century Norway when the state church there was getting pretty moribund. Like many reformers, he was startled at the way people took his ideas, which he sort of assumed to be purely spiritual early on, and ran with them. Hauge's ideas led pretty directly to the bønder rebellions (bondereisning/farm peasant uprising) and to the establishment of labor unions in Norway. He spent a lot of time in jail for things that sound simple to us, like advocating that believers could (and indeed should) have Bible study without a pastor to supervise. (Which we all know is equivalent to kissing Thor's hairy red butt.) The state church of Norway at the time was a lot clearer on what the implications of additional religious freedoms might be than Hauge was. Now he's distant enough to be safe, like various figures who upset the Catholic church are distant enough to be safe with that group, and the state church of Norway has noticed that he might have had one or two virtues.

3. What countries would you like to visit, that you haven't already?

Iceland and Hungary are probably my top two. There are all sorts of places I'd enjoy with the right company and in the right circumstances -- we've talked about Ireland for a trip with my grands once I'm steadier, for example, and my parents had such a fabulous time in Australia and, on a separate trip, in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, that I'll bet it wouldn't be hard to convince them to go back and show me why.

I will not be much for Third World travel, I'm afraid. Even once we get the vertigo smoothed out, I've had to think in those terms for long enough that I sort of prefer places with comparatively abundant medical facilities.

4. Is there a book you'd like to write that you're just not yet ready for, in terms of current skills?

That's how you do it. You come up with a book you're not ready for, and then you write it and rewrite it and ask your smart friends to tell you how to rewrite it again, and you ignore half of what they say and take another quarter of what they say in a completely different direction. And eventually you get there, and the next book is something else you're not ready for.

There are books I'm just not ready for in terms of research, but that's a different problem. And one I'm working on, a bit at a time.

5. If the vertigo were to vanish, or mostly vanish, tomorrow (my mouth to God's ears) what would be the first thing you'd want to cook?

Well, you notice I've been easing into doing more cooking as things improve. So the thing is not cooking. It's shopping for food. What I cook when I'm steady again will be what I walk into the produce department and smell and build a meal around. That's how I cook when I'm steady. I smell what's really really fresh and good, and then I think what goes with it. And that's what I miss. We've been ordering groceries online, which is convenient but not the same.
mrissa: (tiredy)
I'm home making this entry and not out at the evening concert for Nordic Roots because the vertigo was a bit much after the afternoon concert. We went into this knowing that I might not be up for the whole thing, so I'm not massively disappointed, just going to start again tomorrow and see how far I get, enjoy what I can instead of sniffling over what I can't.

But I just wanted to say: last night one of the members of the band Väsen played for us a cell phone recording of one of the actual rolls on the actual repaired barrel organ of Carl Linnaeus. The real Carl Linnaeus and not another fella of the same name. And then they played us their version of that tune, and it was very cool, and you know what? This is the future I wanted to live in. The one where people take the time to fix Linnaeus's barrel organ to see what he listened to and then other people run with it and make art. Not the wrong alternate history after all.

I am also very fond of the way the native Swedish and Norwegian singers say that someone made a song, rather than that they wrote a song or composed a song.

Also: just as [ profile] hypatia_j and I were going inside last night, there was a black man standing outside the Cedar repeating to himself, "Norwegian and Swedish music. Norwegian music...and Swedish music. Well, God bless ya. God bless ya all." I can come up with half a dozen things he might have meant by that, and I'm sort of amused at the possibilities.
mrissa: (I'm listening....)
1. My mom, who is a hero of the revolution, trimming all of our front bushes for us. Big task out of our hair! (And since she was going home to shower, I assume it's out of hers now, too.) Yay!

2. Really good cucumber on my lunch salad. Hey, I didn't say they had to be big good things.

3. Managing to keep my temper with a friend long enough to remember that there were really good reasons why I should cut her slack.

4. Being cut slack myself.

5. New framed [ profile] komododaikon photo on my office wall.

6. The extreme Swedishy Swedishness of this library book. Oh my goodness. It actually noted that if you read between the lines of one euphemism, you could discern...and then the thing you could discern was another euphemism. In other spots it is completely blunt about things American writing is not generally blunt about. Just in summary: very, very Swedish.

7. 1K of The True Tale of Carter Hall, with potential for more this evening.

8. Finishing figuring out the rest of the revisions for What We Did to Save the Kingdom, so now they are in tiny bite-sized pieces, and might be done in the available chunks of computer time while the vertigo gets bad. Maybe. You never know.

9. Finding a glimmer of hope that all of my behaving as though I can get somewhere with this...might mean that I can get somewhere with this.

10. Mango sorbet with dark chocolate bits on it. Nom.

Your turn.
mrissa: (question)
Well, I did manage to get some sleep last night, and then I went back to bed after breakfast, and the world is looking somewhat brighter for it. So of course I have turned to important things:

[Poll #1192143]

[ profile] timprov and I used some of the down time while traveling for me to tell him the story of the Aesir noir novel, so that 1) he could ask intelligent questions and 2) I could see what bits I knew and didn't know I knew. We haven't done this for every book I've written, but when we have, the writing's gone a lot better. I have some ideas about Baldr's corpse, but I am still up for twiddling with that part.
mrissa: (viking princess necklace)
I should be away from the computer and getting ready for bed, but like Arlo says, you can't always do what you're supposed to be doing. So what I did instead is celebrate International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day by putting a reprint up. Goats' Gold is not a very serious story, but it's free to all who want to read it. Originally appeared in Spellbound, which was a children's magazine. Suitable for the kiddies, and not just by my "cut my teeth on Norse myth" standards. It's not very long, but it's goofy, and it's mine own.

Now don't say I never gave you nothin'.
mrissa: (Default)
Dear fingers:

Contrary to your impulse at least six times in the past 24 hours, it is not the Aesir nori novel. Okay? Noir. No wrapping Odin in seaweed.

Certain Parties suggest I should save that for a sequel. Certain Parties amuse me but may not be far wrong, alas.

[ profile] mrissa

Dear brain:

As long as you're eavesdropping on this sort of thing, noodling on a '30s gangster showdown between Njord and the daughters of Ran is really not the thing. No. Really not.

[ profile] mrissa

Dear ears:

Quiddit. I'm tryinna work here.

[ profile] mrissa


Apr. 8th, 2008 01:50 pm
mrissa: (viking princess necklace)
Ista has gotten herself a little ear infection -- quite under control with drops from the vet -- and as a result has been a bit demanding lately. She needs to be snuggled right up against me, we are given to understand. At all times. (Poodles are much given to italics.) I am not to think for even a moment that I might get up and do my PT or have a workout or shower or anything so crass as that. No. I am to sit still and provide a lap. I am possibly allowed to pet the pup. Anything else is right out. (She's in for a nasty surprise as soon as I finish this entry, since PT, workouts, and showers are all in the non-optional category in this house.)

Also demanding: the Aesir noir novel. I have already given up and agreed to work on this thing. Last night when the vertigo-induced nausea was making it hard to sleep, the brain obliged by writing a big chunk of [cue ominous pipe organ music here] the dreaded synopsis. It's not cuddly and sweet, but as demanding stuff goes, it really could be worse. I don't suppose there's a really good painting of Baldr post mortem for which someone could make me a LOLAesir reading, "Creepy ded god iz creepy." But this is set in the pre-Ragnarok, post-death of Baldr part of Norse mythology, and dead Baldr is creeping me out, and is likely to creep me out for the rest of the book. Hel? No problem. Dead Baldr? Umm. Anyway, you'd think it'd be strange to have a grown-up noir mystery set in the same universe as a YA series that's very clair. But the death of Baldr more or less takes care of that; it'd be like acting surprised that writing a book set in 1910 somehow didn't feel like writing one set in 1920. And I really like having both. I really like holding the contrast in my head.

Rounding out the demanding trifecta is, of course, the vertigo. Whee. But since there are other things with family members that could have been extremely and quite rightfully demanding of my attention and have been resolved into gentle worries instead, with the help of competent professionals, I am extremely grateful that this is where the demanding trifecta has settled for the day.
mrissa: (viking princess necklace)
Are you done now? Can you stop trying to leap out of my head (apparently, from the feel of it, yanking on the middle-ears on your way out)? Because I am not in any state to be writing you right this very minute, you stubborn, stubborn thing! I need to finish short stories! I need to revise this other novel! I need to not spend an hour at the computer making myself dizzy and miserable because of you! Okay? Okay?

I am not hearing an answering affirmation here. Books. Can't live without 'em, and living with them is a total PITA.

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