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Which, given the weather - today was persistent drizzle rather than yesterday's chucking it relentlessly down - was a good idea. Salt mine, to be precise.
However, has been a long day - only just in from a Mahler concert - so any more detailed reports on touristic activities may follow at some later season.
Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna Madrid can help. Send your Help Desk Questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m addicted to Little Free Libraries. Every time I pass one, I have to take a book. Sometimes I take three or four. Okay, sometimes I take them all.
I always mean to return the books, or to add something new. But I never seem to get around to it. I just hoard them. Am I a terrible person? Doesn’t circulation mean some people take out, other people put in? Or is that communism?
Please help. I can’t sleep and my neighbors are starting to catch on.
Mary, [Neighborhood withheld by request]
Much like my fondness for using stranger's business cards as toothpicks, yours is a peculiar but harmless addiction. Sure, you might be abusing the unwritten social agreement of Little Free Libraries (LFLs) but people break more serious social contracts all the time – for example, by tipping waiters with car wash coupons, or bringing flavored lube to their gyno exams, or paying women far less than their male colleagues, as if the human penis alone executes 17 percent of a person's daily tasks — as if it had that kind of stamina.
Personally, I think you're doing a public service by raiding LFLs – they're predominantly used as a precious way for people to dump their junk – but if you're feeling self conscious about it, you have a few options:
• Build a LFL in your front yard so that its contents are technically your property, and you're reminded to contribute a book every time you leave the house.
• If you can't stop hoarding books but you could see yourself contributing other stuff, try replacing books with themed items other LFL patrons might find useful. For instance, take a copy of Anna Sewell's classic Black Beauty and leave tickets to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, or replace a copy of Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale with a pair of scissors and old shoelaces so that another patron may tie her own tubes. (These are optimistic examples – in all likelihood you'll be replacing stacks of 50 Shades of Grey with anus-relaxing poppers. Still, I consider that a LFL upgrade and your neighbors will, too.)
If you're visiting our site on a Friday, chances are good that you're a huge Cienna Madrid fan. Of course you are, because Cienna Madrid is fan-FUCKING-tastic. And you should know that Cienna Madrid is making a rare public appearance in Seattle on Tuesday, September 26th. She's reading at Six Pack Series, in the 12th Avenue Arts building. This is a group reading, along the theme of "Doppelgangers, Avatars, and Code Names." The other readers are Eddie Dehais, Peter Donnelly, Kaitlin McCarthy, Jéhan Òsanyìn, and Amanda Rae. You should go and spend time with the best damn literary advice columnist in the whole world.
In a great piece, John Stang at Crosscut writes about the way the state legislature is fucking over Hugo House's move home:
Hugo House has raised about $4.8 million for construction, but it still needs slightly more than $1 million to start the work. That happens to be the amount the Legislature was supposed to appropriate before the state capital budget stalled... Consequently, a move-back date in early 2018 has been delayed indefinitely, and plans to expand classes and accommodate more students are in limbo as well.
We're big fans of Shout Your Abortion around here, and we love it when they publish stuff. (I reviewed their first zine last summer.) So we're thrilled that SYA founder Amelia Bonow used the second anniversary of her organization to announce that they're going to be publishing a book, which she described as "a big beautiful collection of the art, artifacts, and stories which have shaped this movement over the last two years, as well as brand new work commissioned especially for this project." If you have anything you'd like to say about abortion, submissions for the book open up on October 3rd. Details about the submission guidelines will be in Shout Your Abortion's newsletter. You say you don't subscribe to Shout Your Abortion's newsletter? You can fix that right on this here webpage.
Peter Kuper has always been a forward-thinking cartoonist, but this is a jaw-dropping discovery from Steve Lieber:
Peter Kuper did a comic about nationalist Trump coming to power on a build-a-wall platform. This was 27 years ago in Heavy Metal in 1990. pic.twitter.com/1cEZe5Hxnj— Steve Lieber (@steve_lieber) September 20, 2017
- If you were anywhere near a bookstore or library in 2011, you probably know that the big literary sensation of that year was Chad Harbach's novel The Art of Fielding. Sylvia Killingsworth at The Awl wrote a post about a lawsuit circling around Fielding, and it's well worth your time.
If you remember the year 2011 when The Big Book of the Year was The Art of Fielding and you don’t want to die after reading that clause, take a moment to read over the allegations of one Charles Green against the one Chad Harbach in the matter of wrongfully appropriating elements of the former’s manuscript, Bucky’s 9th, and interpolating them into the latter’s long-languishing first novel (which then sold for $665,000 and debuted to All The Acclaim)
- This is perfectly delightful!
( Loads of photos and four videos )
I hadn't been to the Empire State Building since I was a kid, and angelgazing was like, "Why even live in NYC if you don't go to the attractions?" and I was like, "I've never even been to the Statue of Liberty." *hands* Generally speaking, the thought of masses of tourists repels more than the attractions attract. Unless someone from out of town wants to go, I generally don't do those kinds of things, though they are always fun when I do.
Anyway. The Good Place had its season 2 premiere Wednesday night, but it started at 10 pm and when I saw that I was like, "oh hell no!" I am not cut out for 10 pm shows anymore. So I set the DVR and watched it last night.
Spoilers from here on out! Please don't read if you haven't watched. It's a show that works best unspoiled the first time around! ( spoilers for all of s1 and the s2 premiere )
rachelmanija has a much more thoughtful post here.
For starters, there's the difference in focus: Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday is, as far as Hans is concerned, a coming of age story - he goes from child to teenager and young man in the course of the story - and has Erich Kästner as the other lead, whose perspective through the movie is even the slightly favored one. Frederick the Great Detective, by contrast, has Kästner only as a supporting character, aside from a prologue and an epilogue ends in late 1933/early 1934, and is above all a homage to Kästner's novel in structure, focusing on Friedrich and his same-age friends, who play detectives until it gets lethally dangerous. (The adults, whether benevolent or malignant or in between, are seen from the outside, the point of view is Friedrich's throughout.) For, befitting the author of the Gunther mysteries, there are actually cases to solve. (Though as opposed to Bernie, young Friedrich - who wants to become a detective through much of the novel - gets the point that you can't be a detective in a system where the criminals have taken over when Kästner desperately tells him just this.)
Indeed, while reading I wondered whether the basic idea for the novel might not have been a wish to write a sequel to Emil which tackles how Emil & Co. would act when the Third Reich starts, because Friedrich's gang with its twins has some similarities. Then again, Friedrich has a distinctly different background to Emil (or Hans Löhr) - no working class single parent mother, instead, middle class parents with his father a journalist and friend of Kästner's, which is the original connection, which allows Kerr to depict the way the press lost its freedom within a year. It also allows Kerr to let Friedrich and his parents vacation on Rügen where Friedrich meets Christopher Isherwood and Isherwood's boyfriend Heinz on the beach. (Leading to a charming scene where Friedrich manages to solve his very first case by finding Isherwood's lost watch.) Kerr provides quite a lot of real life characters making cameos throughout the novel - Billy Wilder (during the premiere of the "Emil and the Detectives" movie version which he scripted), Max Liebermann, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Walter Trier etc. - but the Isherwood cameo was for me the most vivid of these. (And I'm not surprised, having come across an interview where Kerr says bascially Berlin for him as a reader, before he got there, was invented by two British writers, Christopher Isherwood and John Le Carré.)
Kästner himself lis of course the real life character with the most page time, but he feels more like a generic version of Kästner's author persona than an actual attempt at depiction of the man. (As opposed to the Kästner in Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday.) Meaning: he's a benevolent adult the way, say, Justus the Teacher in "Das Fliegende Klassenzimmer" is, with no hint of any inner conflicts, and Kerr slims down the biographical and authorial data about him to "wrote Emil and the Detective, also works as a journalist"; in this book, there are no mentions of either Kästner's other books for children or his adult novel, Fabian (the one who got burned by the Nazis at the 1933 book burning), nor of his sharp political poetry (which in Germany he was and is almost as well known for as for his prose). (Hence ahistorically Emil ends up as the burned book, when in rl Emil and the Detectives was so popular that it got published, as the only one of Kästner's works, within Germany until 1936. Then it was for the axe as well.) The one biographical background fact about Kästner mentioned in conversation by Friedrich's father is in fact a wrong one, or rather, a wrong assumption, that Kästner's mother, like Emil's, raised her son alone. In rl, not only was Kästner's father around and in contact with his son, but he outlived Kästner's mother. There is, however, a reason why I didn't mind this particular wrong statement, which is: Kästner kept his father and his relationship with him very low key as long as his mother was still alive, while his relationship with his mother was intense and very public, so a colleague from work like Friedrich's father could be forgiven for assuming the guy was either dead or had left the family. ( If you've read Kästner's autobiographical writings, one of the most memorable childhood scenes which makes you cringe in sympathy is his parents' christmas competition about him, when his father, a craftsman, proudly presented presents he made with his own hand while his mother spent all her money on presents, and both parents would regard whichever present their son showed any favour to as proof whom he loved more or a rejection respectively. And thus it went on for as long as Kästner's mother lived.)
What the novel does really well, though, is presenting a group of children responding to their world changing radically, and Friedrich as a likeable child hero who ends up rejecting the demagogery, scapegoating and promise of glory that lures his older brother in because he sees how both people he knows and strangers are abused in its name. Again, in an homage to Kästner's novel which has a memorable dream sequence, Friedrich's ongoing crisis of conscience and wonder how to avoid becoming a Nazi himself climaxes in a surreal dream where the various things he has experienced come together. The lesson he draws from this is simple and profound at the same time, very Kästnerian and indeed great advice in current day circumstances as well, to the question as ow to act: Be kind. Being kind and you can't become what you fear and hate. Be kind.
Mind you, the 1945 prologue and epilogue ( does spoilery things ) But all in all, Frederick the Great Detective is still a very readable children's novel set in a dark time which also manages to pay homage to a classic while being its own thing.
My question today is about academia and/or job opportunities and being single. I am a PhD candidate in a Very Good University in the US, and I will be on the academic job market in a year. I have a very good publication/presentation/committee/topic situation, so I should be doing fairly fine. However, my field is totally dominated by men, mostly from quite conservative countries/cultures. It’s even worse in industry (I have work experience pre-PhD and an internship).
Now, I am absolutely sure I don’t want to get married or have a cohabiting partner or “serious” relationship of any sort. If anything, I identify with relationship anarchy. I am happy like I’ve never been, and I feel like I’m thriving and my best self arises when I am alone and free. I do have many short and long romance stories with like-minded folks who are in the same line of thought, but I don’t have or want any “boyfriend” in the sense that other people seem to want me to have (focused on dating – getting engaged – moving in – marrying).
Usually, in academic conferences, in the informal networking events, or in my department, I get asked when I will be on the market, and if I prioritize going back to my country or staying in the US, this kind of things. I think it’s all fair game and I am thrilled some Big Names in the field show interest in me! But sometimes they ask things such as “will you have a 2-body problem?” or “well, eventually you’ll want to marry, right?” or “our school is in a city with plenty of young men!”. Or more bluntly “how come you are not married yet?” (my age – early 30s – is not a secret). I know those (mostly old, mostly men, mostly conservative) professors may just be trying to be nice(?), but I can tell by the way they look that I don’t fit in what they think is “a good woman” or “a normal person”.
I have told some (younger – some younger than me) professors in my department that I don’t want to marry and they all reply condescendingly “you’ll change your mind!” But they are not the ones who’ll make my hiring decisions (although they’ll write me letters of recommendation) and so I am not that much concerned. What about those from other schools who may want to hire or not hire me a year from now when I am on the market? When I have 5-minute interactions and they ask me topic/advisor/ideal placement/marital status. Should I tell them “I don’t want to marry” and out myself immediately as not-their-idea-of-good-woman? Should I tell them “oh I haven’t found anyone yet” and then lie (or risk that someone will try to set me up – it’s happened before!)? Should I just smile awkwardly and say “I don’t know!”? I also feel that, when I say I don’t want to marry, the person in front of me thinks I am lying. What if I tell them “no, I don’t want to marry, but I do want to have kids and I am very well informed about sperm banks and adoption agencies”. Will this kill forever all my job opportunities because of the single mother stigma?
It’s all a paradox, because they don’t like women because of the whole marriage and maternity thing, but they don’t like it either when women don’t conform to their standards of womanhood (wifehood?).
How can I navigate this? I do want to have a good academic placement but I want to know who won’t be supportive of my lifestyle to avoid their departments. But also, you know, academia is sometimes hard and there isn’t much choice of placement for a candidate. So at this point I mostly want to say something that won’t close all the doors but will make my point clear enough.
Any help will be welcome! Thanks so much!
Future Professor Badass
Dear Future Professor Badass,
As tempting as it would be to say a robotic “That is a sexist question” or give a long rambling Boring Baroque Response involving your theories of Relationship Anarchy whenever this comes up, here is the strategy I actually advise:
Them: “Will you have a two-body problem?” (For people outside of academia, this means will you need the university that wants to recruit you to also factor in a job for your a fellow-professor spouse) or “But surely you intend to marry someday?” (Ugh) or “Good thing there are lots of young men here!”
You: “Thanks for asking. I’m lucky that I don’t have to consider that right now in my search and can just look for the best fit for my work.”
Them: “How come you are not married yet?” (This is a weird, rude question but I too have had older people from outside the US ask me this as if it’s a normal question. Then again, we in the US ask people what they do for a job right away, for this week’s Manners Are Relative reminder).
You: Smile awkwardly and say “I don’t know!“, as you suggest! Or, “It just hasn’t been a priority!” or “Search me!” or “I love being single” or “Has my grandmother been talking to you? It’s a question under much discussion in my family, believe me” or “Haven’t felt like it, I guess!”
Whatever you say, keep it light and vague. The more you can answer calmly and confidently, without apology, the more people will take your cue in how they react.
I know all of this is sexist and invasive and weird and assumes heterosexuality when it should not but the individual people who ask you this think they are being kind and even helpful, especially if they are trying to recruit you to their campus. They want you to be happy and anticipate issues that they might have to work around so that you will want to stay forever at their school. They want to figure out if they have the budget to hire you and a spouse if they want you badly enough. They don’t want you to take the job and then leave in a year because it’s a romantic and sexual wasteland or because there’s no industry in the town except for the university and your (theoretical) partner can’t find work. It can be awkward attempt to mentor you, at least in some cases, so if you can find a way to be vague but positive and deal with the intentions (rather than the effects) of the question it will help you connect.
I wish it were not so, but right now you need a job so someday you can be the colleague who doesn’t ask newcomers these questions (or asks in a way that is actually helpful).
Answer with your vague positive statement, some version of “It’s not my biggest priority right now, which makes me feel very lucky! I have the luxury to just think about finding the right fit for the work I want to do. I know not everyone has that. ”
Then ask them questions about their lives.
- “When you moved to [City Where University Is Located] what was it like to get your bearings?”
- “Any advice for settling in in [City]? Where do the people who love it here shop/eat/hike/live?”
- “Was it a difficult adjustment moving from [Country of Origin] to [City]? What was the biggest surprise?”
- “What are the things about [City] that really make you feel at home?”
- “Were you married when you moved here? How does your spouse like it here? What do they do?”
- “How did you and your spouse meet?”
- “Did you have to deal with a two-body problem? What was that like? How does the university generally deal with those?”
- “What do you remember most from your first year of being a professor here?”
You can turn the conversation to their research or their teaching or questions about the students or the department, too. People like to be asked questions about things they are experts on, and in my experience professors like this even more than most people. Use their weird question as an opportunity to make a human connection and find out more about them as people and the place as a place to live and what you’re getting into. Be remembered as someone pleasant to talk to, focused on her work, and someone who asks good questions and is a good listener.
You’ve got this and you don’t need to make excuses for something that isn’t actually a problem. Good luck in your search.