18 November 2001
The Leonids are this weekend. They're in the middle of the night, way past my wimpy bedtime, and we live deep, deep in suburbia, so we won't be seeing them this year. But I wish we could; I love Leonids.
The last time we went to watch a Leonid shower, it was Twig's birthday (coming up Tuesday) of my senior year of college. A bunch of us wandered out to the Arboretum, away from the lights of campus and the town, and sat or laid around the stone circle there, looking up. It was chilly and a little bit snowy. We could see our breath. I won't try to describe the meteor shower for you, but I will say one thing: nobody felt the need to talk. It's pretty rare to assemble a group of more than three or four people to witness something natural and amazing, and not have one person going, "This is really pretty. [pause] Oh, this is so cool. [pause] I'm glad we came out here, aren't you? [pause]...." The extent of the conversation about it was when we got the Arb parking lot, the demarcation line with campus, and Twig said, "Cool birthday," and somebody said, "Yeah." And then we got back to Wahlly and made cocoa and played cards and got rowdy again.
Yesterday I wrote the rain of frogs scene for the Not The Moose Book. Entirely different from the rain of toads scene in mood, and much funnier. Lots of fun to write, too. The mouse whirlwind will also be neat. This morning in the shower, I got the rest of the plot of the golem story, so I jotted that down when I got out, and I'll probably work on it this afternoon.
I was also reading Else Roesdahl's The Vikings yesterday. It's kind of annoying: I remembered that I know a lot about this era, so most of what's in this book is too general for it to be of any use to me. Sometimes Roesdahl's sentences are amusing: "But it is wrong to imagine Vikings of rank and position as international Christmas trees." Well. All right, then. But sometimes, oh, sometimes she's just historically irresponsible.
For example: "Of the Swedes, [Adam of Bremen] writes, 'a man according to his means has two or three or more wives at one time, rich men and princes an unlimited number. And they also consider the sons born of such unions legitimate.' These cannot have been actual marriages, but relationships with mistresses or slave women." That little aside at the end there, in case you're wondering, has no basis in any of the Viking legal code, their ethical writings, or descriptions of Viking life I've read -- and I've read a lot of it. It is, in short, entirely the bias of the historian. Now, if she wants to say that her belief system couldn't consider such marriages legitimate -- well, I'd still be annoyed, because she's not writing a book about The Beliefs of Else Roesdahl, she's writing a book about The Vikings. That's why she gave it that convenient title, really. But by making the statement she did from her position of authority, she raises her personal bias to the level of fact. If she can't imagine that a society could exist that has different marriage patterns than her own, she doesn't have enough imagination to be an historian.
So I'm going to finish this book, but I hope that people who don't have very much background don't -- it's basically only useful for the medieval archaeology components.
We're still trying to figure out how many people are coming here for Thanksgiving. What we're making will depend on who is here, but I will tell you this: it will not be turkey. No no no no no. Last year when Rachel and Ben came, they brought a turkey and Ben cooked it, and that was okay, because Ben is the man to make turkey if you're going to have turkey. But I'm not going to have turkey. Nobody here particularly likes it, and why bother having a holiday centered around food if you're not going to like the food?
Last night we were watching TV -- some show about wolves, I don't know, it was on before DS9, and I was mostly reading The Vikings. And two of the commercials alarmed me enough that I just have to comment. First off -- Quilted Northern's squeaky clean thing. Does anybody genuinely want their butt squeaky clean? I mean, maybe that's a little personal for you, but the commercial was a little personal for me. No matter how good the toilet paper is, I don't want my butt to squeak, and I especially don't want it to squeak like a chew toy, which is what the commercial sounded like. I intend to have a dog. Not a good association at all.
And then -- Oil of Olay was advertising a cream that could fight the appearance of "lines, wrinkles, texture..." and a bunch of other stuff, but I stopped listening at that point, because I was too busy freaking out. Texture? The female face is no longer supposed to have texture? How sick is that? I mean, it's honest, to be sure, it's a straight-up in-your-face expression that a Barbie doll is supposed to be your ideal. But -- who banned texture? I really want to know.
Oh, another thing I really want to know, totally unrelated: where is a good tapas bar in the Bay Area? We're willing to drive. I just want some tapas. I'm sure one of you knows. I just don't know which one. So please, write and tell me. Please?
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