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The Daily Communiqué – 21 April, 2019 – Recap Week 3

Lookee here!  Three weeks of posting daily.  Writing ahead and scheduling hasn’t been working out so I race home after work and write.  And for some reason, the scheduling feature on WordPress has stopped working.  Neither of the plugins I downloaded work either.  So no regularly scheduled posts at 1700 each day.  Daily posts when I get to a computer and can push the button.

On Monday, Notre Dame caught fire.

Tuesday, I went pink.

Exploring different ways of chasing the demons away, spurred by a story about a small town in Spain which throws turnips at a monster was the topic on Wednesday.

I discovered a new artist on Thursday.  Artemisia Gentileschi by name, and her work is feminist and takes on the patriarchy.  Not bad for a 16th century painter.

Friday was fantasize about travel day.

I closed the week by exploring hygiene as a seduction technique.

The Daily Communiqué – 20 April, 2019 – Viking Hygiene

Over on Twitter, there was a discussion about personal hygiene as a seduction tool.  Apparently, because the Viking invaders into what’s now England brushed their hair and cleaned their teeth every day, washed their clothes, and took a bath once a week, the women were leaving their husbands in droves.

“It must be recognized that the Christians of the time avoided bathing specifically because they considered too much cleanliness to be a sign of vanity, which was sin. Thus the infamous smelliness of the medieval period began.” (C. J. Arden, Were the Vikings Dirty? 03/20/2015)

To put this in context, the Viking age was ~793–1066 AD.  But what I got to wondering about was, when did we go from cleanliness as a vanity and a sin to cleanliness is next to Godliness?

My brief search led me to John Wesley who,  in a sermon in 1778, stated that cleanliness was indeed next to Godliness.  (There’s a lot of media and books available by and about him here at the Internet Archive, a cool place in itself.)

But even in 1778 personal hygiene was more difficult than we have today.  It’s a good reminder we should never expect our norms to fit history.  Things evolve and change.  I’m grateful every day for indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water.

 

 

The Daily Communiqué – 18 April, 2019 – Artemisia Gentileschi

Allegory of Rhetoric, Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi

In a silly mood recently, I thought there was a joke to be made about how in my more confident days, this was a picture of me taking dictation from my muse.  I mean, look at that gorgeous skin …

The painting was used by someone on Twitter and as is my inclination, I went off on a search.

The introduction of Artemisia Gentileschi began with this article which points out if one were to invest in art, one could do worse than investing in her paintings

“She has a position both as a feminist icon, who grappled with the not always beneficial attentions of the opposite sex, but also as an exponent of a robust style of figurative painting.”  (

“Wait!  Who is that?” I wondered and the search widened.
Artemisia Gentileschi was the daughter of Orazio, himself a painter of some repute.  She became known for paintings of strong women taking charge.  Her best known painting is probably Judith Slaying Holofernes (below), in response to her own rape by her mentor, Agostino Tassi.  Tassi was hired by Artemisia’s father because women weren’t allowed to attend the art academy.  (Tassi was eventually convicted of rape.)

Artemisia Gentileschi - Giuditta decapita Oloferne - Google Art ProjectWow.  As I read further, I learned about the Power of Women, an artistic trope depicting “an admonitory and often humorous inversion of the male-dominated sexual hierarchy.” (Wikipedia, op cit)

This is the truncated version of how I finally got to know Artemisia Gentileschi and her work.  There’s much to sort through and think about while placing her in the realm of feminist icon.

And, the name of the painting finally revealed itself at Robilant + Voena, in an exhibition of works inspired by La Artemisia.

The Daily Communiqué – 15 April, 2019 – Notre Dame

@dibujosdecristina

Instagram: @dibujosdecristina

It is too much.  Notre Dame burning seemed farcical, and that’s how a co-worker and I treated it, at first.

He heaved a huge sigh which I remarked on hearing over my headphones.  “I think it’s the end times,” he said.

“What?”

“No, I’m serious.  Notre Dame’s burning.  It might be the end times.”

Then I said maybe god was pissed at Benedict for the horrible things he said in his letter.

“But if he’s dead, how can he be pissed?”

I was confused.  “Benedict isn’t dead.”

Click.  Whir.

“Oh!  Nietzsche …”

Hearing the news coverage on the way home broke my heart.  A place I’ve never been, yet so iconic as to feel like I know it caught fire.  The flames seen from miles away.  Paris came to a standstill as citizens of the world stopped what they were doing, to bear witness to the awfulness.  People prayed, sang, knelt, and wept at the sight.

Meanwhile, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was also on fire.  But you wouldn’t know that.  Not even Al-Jazeera has much to say about it.

So much hardship to be borne in the world. It makes giving up look like a good idea.  Do Not.  We must be strong for each other, and ourselves.

The Daily Communiqué – 14 April, 2019 – Week 2 Recap

Monday’s announcement of the Hugo nominees led me to write about my experiences with WorldCon and meeting authors.

I’ve been listening to a lot of different music at work, thanks to the global record collection, and shared some of my discoveries on Tuesday.

In the same vein, on Wednesday there were works by artists I found intriguing.

Some reflective writing on writing on Thursday.

A tiny bit of fiction for Friday night.  The monster is real!

And rounding out the week, my reaction to former pope Benedict’s letter about sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

Currently reading:  Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.  I don’t know what I think about it yet, other than it’s weird.

The Daily Communiqué – 13 April, 2019 – Benedict

I cannot let this pass.

The ex-pope known as Benedict released a screed blaming the sexual revolution of the 1960s for priests abusing children in the Catholic church.

Rachel Donadio’s article in The Atlantic is a fascinating look into the bizarre writings of a 92 year old pope emeritus, and how they’ve just muddied the handling of an already fraught situation.

“From afar, the Vatican is seen as an impenetrable and mysterious world, a place of ancient, sacred rituals and quiet religiosity. Inside, it turns out it’s a bureaucracy like any other. Sometimes the former boss weighs in, and what was once opaque becomes clearer, and even stranger.” (

Let’s be clear, abuse is not about an absence of God or the presence of naked bodies on billboards, it is about the agency of predators.  Millions of children have been traumatized because priests chose to sexually abuse them.

I know from experience how difficult it is to deal with the complex emotions of loving your predator, and the shock which comes with realizing what was done was abuse.  I was powerless, so were all those children, in the face of abuse perpetrated by a powerful person in our lives.

The Catholic church is powerful enough to do something about this, and has yet to fully address it. Not enough is being done to protect the congregants of the Church.

I cannot let this pass without comment.

The Daily Communiqué – 12 April, 2019 – The Coffee Break

Harold whispered through gritted teeth, “Go back to your desk!  Go! Now!” His eyes moved quickly as though watching for danger,  face screwed up in fear.

Uh oh.  It happened again.  Scurrying back to my desk, I put my hands on the computer keyboard and listened.  Who was it this time?

Somewhere on my aisle, a phone rang.  Heads popped out and made shushing motions.  One of the rules was, don’t make noise, she might hear you.  And if she heard you … better to not even consider that.

My hands fell into my lap.  I squeezed my eyes closed and tried to hold my breath.  “Not me, not me, not me,” my mind chittered nervously.

Memories of the last time popped to the surface.  I’d barely escaped, tried to cry quietly in the bathroom, great heaving sobs escaping.  It was horrible, and every day I dreaded a repeat.

I sniffed.  Cigarette smoke?  I didn’t know she … oh, that’s not good and it’s not cigarette smoke.  Crouching down, I wrapped my arms around my head. I knew everyone else was doing the same thing.  Something loud was coming …

My neighbor let out a little squeak.  I crawled across the aisle into her cube and we wrapped our arms around each other, trembling in fear.  “No, no, no, nonononono …” Opal whispered.

Leaning closer to her, I whispered in her ear, “Whose turn was it this morning?”

A tear rolled down her cheek, “Mine.  I got in late, she was here before me …”  Her face fell. We were all terrified.

The last person got fired on the spot.  The floor around them scorched from the flames coming out of the monster’s nostrils.

As the roar died down, quiet clinking came from the break room.  Glass on porcelain. A spoon stirring in liquid. The smell of coffee rose over the smell of sulphur.  Who was stupid enough to be in the break room right now?

Then, porcelain on floor tiles.  The metal of the spoon moving the liquid.  Opal and I put our heads down, our fearful tears mingling as we held our breath.

Quiet.  Slurping.  Really loud slurping.  The sound of heels moving across the floor.  The swish of clothing. A collective sigh as we all went back to work.

Crisis averted.

The Daily Communiqué – 10 April, 2019 – Art

What an interesting thing art is.  All art.  Someone thought of something and created it.  They looked around them and thought, “Hey, what if …?  Wouldn’t it be cool?  I want to try …”  And then through practicing their craft, they create the idea they had.

Sometimes I’m simply overwhelmed by the amazing things people create.  Every once in a while, amazing stuff comes out on the screen in front of me.  Words rushing out in a ethereal process which can never fully be explained, only felt and wondered at.

In the March 2019 issue of National Geographic (email subscription required) is a spread called “Conjured Clouds”  Puffs of clouds hang in the air where they normally wouldn’t be and it’s mesmerizing.

A search led me to this in Harper’s Bazaar. Four fashion icons posing with clouds. I suppose we could go deep into how ephemeral both art and fashion can be.  Maybe another time.   That’s the original book hoarder himself, Karl Lagerfeld.  (Life goals.)

The artist is Berndnaut Smilde, and he’s amazing.

Here’s another one from the same issue of National Geographic by Jodi Cobb.  It’s a reflection of Venice in the water, symbolizing her grief.

I can’t even …

The Daily Communiqué: 09 April 2019 – Music

My curiosity for music can more easily be satisfied now with technology.  I’m in love with searching through the global record collection available to anyone with the bandwidth to listen.

Here are a few I’m enjoying currently

Ash Grunwald “Money”- Aussie blues singer
I’m pretty enamored of Grunwald’s work, adding him to the heavy rotation list

Joe Bonamassa “The Ballad of John Henry”- American blues singer
It’s easy to forget just how young Bonamassa is, he’s been blues royalty for so long it seems like he should be older.

I love knowing about other creators’ process, it’s fun to watch Bonamassa in action. But watch how awkward he is without his guitar when it’s just him in singing in front of the mic.

This is a twofer, Leonard Bernstein forever won my heart with his Young People’s Concerts.   Aaron Copland was a favorite on Sunday mornings in my family.

Jamie Cullum – “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” – British jazz singer

This came up on a random playlist, and while I’m not much of a ballad/love song person, something about Cullum’s voice caught me.

Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong – American singers

What a surprise find! These two work really well together.

Amon Amarth – Swedish death metal band

I’ll end with this because it’s so delightfully bad. The instrumentals are standard metal, the leader has an incredible deep voice which he can use to great effect, but the lyrics and presentation are just so …. pedestrian.

The Daily Communiqué: 8 April 2019 – Hugos

2019 Hugo nominations have been announced.  I’m so pleased to see at least one book I’ve read, and a fanzine I know well, nominated.

WorldCon 76 was almost literally in my backyard, someone helped me decide I HAD to go, and it’s the only time (so far) I’ve been able to vote for the Hugos.

One of my favorite authors Mary Robinette Kowal, and astronaut Kjell Lindberg hosted a “Koffee Klatch” to talk about their work, and answer questions.  There were ten of us, and we were enthused about meeting them.   We learned some pretty interesting stuff about writing and being in space, and carried out a good amount of signed swag.  (Kjell even signed the inside of the Canadarm hatch door on my model shuttle.)

Since I don’t anticipate going to WorldCon 77 in Dublin, sad doesn’t begin to cover how I feel about not being able to vote for at least these two nominees.

There’s such good stuff which has been nominated, and good lord how do people read it all?  I’m still working on last year’s packet!

Being a list making/keeping type of person, it’s tempting to download the list of all Hugo winners/nominees and see how many I can read, but that way lies madness.  There are two many other books to read, my apartment would explode with that large an influx of books.

Speaking of which, Marlon JamesBlack Leopard, Red Wolf just arrived.  Here’s a great long read from The New Yorker published just before the book was published.

Part of my assigned reading for LitCrit involves N. K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth Trilogy, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and James’ book.  To bring it back to the Hugos, Jemisin won three years in a row for Broken Earth, and with as much hype as there is about Black Leopard, Red Wolf, I won’t be surprised to see it nominated for a Hugo next year.