Wandering Old People and Nimrods

10 May 2002

Yesterday's Merc had an article on the front page of the business section about a new women's magazine that focused on women "above a size 12." Not sure why 12 was their cut-off point, but all right. Thing was, they then picked three "plus-size" models to show -- and two of them were the most hideous large women I've ever seen. Not because they were big. No. Because they had horrible teeth and smiles. Isn't that just a nasty twist? One of the things that you hear people say about fat girls when they can't bring themselves to just say, "She's pretty" is "She's got such a beautiful smile." (Or "a pretty face," of course, or "a good personality.") Sigh. Bad, bad, bad.

Had a good Berkeley morning with David yesterday. Coffee at Au Coquelet -- that's kind of my default, I guess, if I don't have a strong preference on where else to get coffee in Berkeley -- and a stop through The Other Change of Hobbit. The Nice Mean Man (whose name I would recognize if someone said it now, but can't remember) was sarcastic and hostile-sounding and very nice and fun to talk to, and when I left, he was reading "Irena's Roses." I picked up a copy of Locus for the Graham Joyce and Tamora Pierce interviews, and I also got one of the Wildside Press editions of Suzy McKee Charnas' YA series. Specifically, I got The Golden Thread, the last one I had been missing. Yay! Good stuff.

One of the things I enjoy most about downtown Berkeley is the old people. Actually, I enjoy that about a lot of college towns. There's just this particular brand of old people, many of the women wearing unusual hats, that has hung around a college campus for, lo, these many moons. They're the ones who can't count the number of dance troupes they've seen, the number of symposia they've attended, the number of lectures they've heard. And some of them are really interesting, and some are kooky, and some are both. And sometimes you'll spot the old couples in love, and that just makes me happy. Because you know that either they've been together all these years and are still in love, which is pretty much the culmination of being human, as far as I'm concerned, or else they've lived that long and are still open to meeting and loving someone new, which is pretty far up there, too. You see them elsewhere, but it seems like in college towns, they wander around more. Wandering happy old people. Definitely a good thing.

After finishing A House for Mr. Biswas yesterday, I read all of An Experience of Finland. Very interesting stuff. Not quite what I expected -- it's much, much less of a personal experience than one might think -- but lots of good research material, and some bits that amused me. April, for example, is known as takatalvi: winter's "back end." I know a few people who would agree with that assessment of last month. Also, there's a saying I don't quite understand: "A Russian is still a Russian if fried in butter." Well...sure...Timprov wondered if a Russian might be something like a swede. But no, they mean Russian human beings. Hmm. Thoughts?

The author had a remarkable lack of self-consciousness in parts -- for example, he wrote, "Hunting no less than fishing is a birthright for this nation of Nimrods." I explained to the laughing Timprov, when I read this sentence out, that Nimrod was a hunter in the Bible. Not merely an insult. "Dude, you live in a nation of nimrods." "Okay, dorcas!" The Bible is full of 'em.

I'm so excited about this novel. Yesterday I was trying to work in some of Turing's stuff, but gently, so as not to damage the reader. Happy happy stuff.

(So obviously not about Turing's personal life, then.)

I'm now in the middle of The Golden Thread, and I'm finding I don't remember it at all. I know I must have read this book from the library, possibly more than once, but it was at least thirteen years ago, and I just don't remember it. I like that the cover is simple, just a girl with her arms folded. It doesn't have to scream out, "Ooooh, this is faaaaaantasy!" It's just a girl who looks reasonably like Val, the main character, could look. Perhaps this is an advantage of print-on-demand: the people buying your books already know that they want them, so you don't have to have the huge genre cues.

I'm going to try to get a few things done. Take care and have a good weekend.

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