Monday, May 20, 2019

Game of Thrones Finale


In my opinion, this is the best shot from Season 8 of Game of Thrones. Somewhat underwhelmed by the finale, because it all felt so rushed, but I'm excited for what the novels will bring. Winds/Dream. :-)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Devoured this scrumptious morsel in but a few hours and still left a little hungry.

Sharp ObjectsSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sharp Objects is a solid first novel, to which I would have given a higher rating, were it not for the summary technique in the conclusion that robs the reader of the experience of that year of discovery. Flynn does everything else right. Her characters are evocative, and the setting of the town is lush and vivid. The murders percolate in the consciousness while the protagonist lurches absentmindedly forward into danger. You will find yourself screaming at her not to be so stupid, courting peril with such intimacy, and it's so in character. It's damn near a 5-star book until the last few chapters and I still enjoyed it a lot (3-stars means I liked it :-{) It's just not as good as it could have been, even though we are given a long, lovely tease. Sigh.

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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time) on Matriarchies in Finn

I'm just posting this so I don't lose it. --- For Anonymous-George, long ago I saw one of the first, I believe, novels about a young woman who wasn't allowed to use magic or whatever because she was a woman, and the thought occurred to me as to how it might go if men were the ones who were denied the right to do magic. Or whatever. I hate using the word magic. From that long ago thought grew the One Power divided into saidin and saidar with the male half tainted and the reasons for and results of it being tainted. Now in most of these societies...I did not and do not view them as matriarchal. I attempted to design societies that were as near gender balanced as to rights, responsibilities and power as I could manage. It doesn't all work perfectly. People have bellybuttons. If you want to see someone who always behaves logically, never tells small lies or conceals the truth in order to put the best face for themselves on events, and never, ever tries to take advantage of any situation whatsoever, then look for somebody without a bellybutton. The real surprise to me was that while I was designing these gender balanced societies, people were seeing matriarchies. --- Jordan is often criticized for his portrayal of women and how he overcompensates by creating matriarchies. His perspective is very interesting (to me.)

The History of White Onliness in America

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American RacismSundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A long horrific account of America's deliberate segregation, its underlying current of white-onliness, born out of Loewen's personal journey of awakening to the fact he was surrounded by Sundown Towns, those locales so hostile to blacks that the communities orchestrate ways to keep them out. It's a long, hard slog, filled with disheartening stories, marks of shame of our past, of our present really, but books like this are so important both as eye-openers and motivators. Nobody conscious to American culture--again not just its history! We are talking about the present in many instances here--can deny these exclusionary practices, but Loewen focuses on the scale using census data and adds anecdotes that personalize the experience.

I read a lot of reviews here that mention how terrible reading this makes everyone feel, but for my part, I am overwhelmed by optimism, because it is clear how far we have come as a people. That we still have far to go is unquestionable, but great strides are being made, especially by the young. Books like this one are likely one of the factors. The history we teach is the one our children learn, so we should all thank Loewen for his huge effort.

THAT being said, yes, it's a slog, but it's a whole lot harder being one of the characters in the anecdotes than a reader in the 21st century.

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

When They Have Taken the Magic

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1)Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An important story written from a vantage point above a landscape of suffering and tears. Adeyemi does an excellent job with setting, painting a colorful mosaic rich in magical realism but grounded in pain and tragedy. I especially found compelling her use of West African religious motifs and language, much of which I recognized from my studies of Brazilian culture and its African roots.

Adeyemi uses 3rd person limited to great effect, allowing us to see the conflict of Orïsha-- essentially a violent suppression of the Divîners (a now-oppressed class who once practiced magic given by the gods) by the Kosidan, which are muggly-types--from three different angles. The first pov belongs to Zélie, an adolescent whose mother was a great Magi before King Saran crushed the power of the Divîners. She is the main protagonist and though a great warrior and able to draw from a deep well of magical power, her flaws and failures often dictate her actions. Her uncertainty and fear, both very realistic character features, are offset by an impulsive nature that so defies reason, that--given her age--lends even more belief. Her journey is a horror story that I could never do justice to. I have seen many ask if this is young adult fiction, if it is appropriate for children... It is, even with these horrors, because we as a society need to own them to move forward both as a people and as ourselves. Zélie's motivation is often pure survival, but the greatest depredations she suffers (and they are horrid) are merely magnifications of the daily experiences of real people. That's the story beneath this story, the one Adeyemi is telling us to great effect.

The other two povs are from the Kosidan oppressor class. One is Princess Amari, Saran's daughter, isolated from the world but with an endearing streak of devotion. She is the accidental iconoclast, spurred to rebellion by the death of her favorite slave. To me she represented a path of hope and sincerity, one of possibilities, but her journey is also fraught with pain. She bears the scars of an upbringing that sharpens her into a transformative weapon that is fell enough to effect change. I was cheering throughout the story to have Zélie and Amari realize they were made for each other and still remain hopeful despite the evidence to the contrary. Honestly, I felt deep frustration as the traditional relationships were plumbed instead. I get that it's a coming of age story, but really... Really? Really really? These budding relationships felt a little cringeworthy and forced.

Which leads me to the third pov, Amari's brother Inan, Saran's tool, who leads a conflicted life of self-hatred combined with bigotry and ignorance. He is the perfect villain and also an ideal tool for redemption. In him, I see all the flaws of our society articulated. I don't know if this was Adeyemi's intention, but it doesn't matter: a bullseye is a bullseye. I'm not going deeper into his character because though the plot is ostensibly about bringing magic back to Orïsha, it is mostly about the people and how they get all their sharp angles fitting together. Tragedy spills blood, and blood is a bad lubricant, especially old rusting blood for generations.

This book is a celebration of the brave, but it was also made for the meek. It's to shake us all from meekness. It's already a great story but it's not done working on those sharp angles. I'm so looking forward to what comes.

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Julius Caesar for my Linguistics class.

Royal Shakespeare performance:

Part 1

 

 Part 2

 


Shared Links:








Thursday, March 28, 2019

If You Think Science Fiction Should Make You Ask Yourself Tough Questions...

The City in the Middle of the NightThe City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's tough to review this one without spoilers and still convey the essentials, because the worldbuilding is so unique, so let me give a one-liner first and you can choose to move on if you wish: I give this an unqualified recommendation! Don't wait. Go read it. This is a brilliant story with identifiable characters (even the aliens) and a clever, twisted plot. AND, yeah, the world Anders creates is hostile, alien, and is written so you are immersed at once.

I'll still try to avoid spoilers, but if I fail, all apologies...

Great character-driven story set on a tidally locked planet, January, the target of human colonization, which is also the home of an intelligent civilization of the Genet, who are completely integrated into the forbidding planet's ecosystem. The story focuses on two pov characters, Sophie and Mouth (forever in pursuit of her real name... I especially liked how the *innocent* traveler actions were juxtaposed with the impact on the Genet), who are intertwined through many threads and a supporting cast of friends and betrayers. I'm disappointed the story ended, because I hoped we might return to January to see how they all work out.

It's more than that, though. Sophie's relationships, both with her own kind and the Genet, delve into the nature of friendship, personal sacrifice, and (for a brief crucial moment) rejection of an idealized, conjured perfection. Sophie's loss becomes our loss, her pain ours. Anders makes you feel it, but the writing is clinical. For better or worse, neither Sophie nor Mouth are ones to second guess their conclusions.

Anders's worldbuilding is intricate and convinces, the future history frightens (yet is also hopeful in how the characters respond to adversity), and the alien "persistent mayfly" culture is brilliant in execution. Even before there was writing to make it permanent, humans preserved our culture through storytelling. The Genet keep history alive literally the same way, just to an extreme, because each one experiences everything always. In fact, the book is much about our perceptions of history, because Mouth's tribe also had their version locked in the tower.

It's a very disarming book, and you'll think about it after you read it and ask yourself about your tribe's impact on the world, what your history means (the pluses and minuses), and whether it's worth fighting and killing for...

I swallowed this book whole and after moving on (but have I really? LOL), I realize I'm still famished. More please. ;-)


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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Talking Heads as a 3 piece band in black and white from Toronto 1977.



Talking Heads
A-Space Gallery
Toronto ON
01-27-1977

00:00:00 Artists Only
00:04:59 The Girls Want to Be With the Girls
00:08:41 The Book I Read
00:13:42 I Wish You Wouldn't Say That
00:17:26 Thank You for Sending Me an Angel
00:20:15 No Compassion
00:24:41 fixing the drums
00:25:50 Questions for Lovers
00:28:45 Who Is It?
00:31:33 Happy Day
00:36:19 Love -> Building on Fire
00:40:01 I'm Not in Love
00:45:47 Pulled Up
00:50:50 Psycho Killer
00:55:04 Take Me to the River
00:59:42 1-2-3 Red Light/
01:01:40 Warning Sign

Duration:
01:05:30

Codec:
H.264 MPEG-4 AVC

Video attributes:
format: black & white
aspect ratio: 4:3
picture resolution: 720x480
frame rate: 29.97 fps
bitrate: 2465 kbps

Audio attributes:
sampling rate: 48 kHz
bitrate: 317 kbps
output: 2 channel mono

Thanks to BFOQ for providing this historic recording.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld - A sad story of love and revenge redeemed by beasts who shall never be forgotten.

The Forgotten Beasts of EldThe Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the voice of the narrator, the straightforward unapologetic fairy tale weave. I enjoyed the transformation of Sybel, how she loses her naïveté to the Eld version of the Great Game, and I mourn her loss of the magical world she left behind, but the beasts rescue her in the end.

Caveat: The story has begun to show its age, especially when Coren *slaps some sense* into Sybel. That's straight out of a John Wayne western. LOL. Up until that point this was a solid 4-star story, but this error was regretful.


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Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Modern Fairytale Explores the Union of Magic and Science.

All the Birds in the SkyAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All the birds... is such an enchanting story, a true modern fairy tale that still finds time to dig deep into doomsday ethics and build venn diagrams of science and magic. The characters spoke to me. I love how well it is researched, and the edginess of society's dynamics that Anders portrays. These characters feel real to me, even the machines. Also, Peregrine's consciousness, how it uploads itself, reminded me a lot of Stross's machines in Accelerando, which stroked my programmer itch. What an incredible book. I guzzled it. I've done nothing else since last night but read. Ahhhhhhhh...
So good

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Let's Be Holographic for a Planck Time

One of the foundations of my science fiction and fantasy world, Tarn, is its ability to be defined by either science fiction or fantasy, depending on the perspective of the character. I also play with parallel universes and manifestations of the same character in parallel universes.

To engineer the story correctly I've needed to update my cosmological knowledge, especially in terms of unification theories, such as string theory, emergence theory, and other holographic representations of the universe. I'm going to post a few of the videos I've used here. Here is my favorite so far. It's the express pass version, a mainstream video to be sure, very accessible but introducing concepts that are good fun (like E8 lattice crystals etc):


So basically, the theory is our universe is a holographic representation based on a specific crystal, the E8 Lattice Crystal (shape is E8, and it’s projected into a 4D quasi crystal then convert that to a 3D quasicrystal.) Its shape is a Gosset Polytope of 230 vertices in 8 dimensions. When it is projected into 4d it creates two shapes that have a proportion equal to the golden ratio 0.618.

Space and time are constructed through pixels of Planck Constants, because reality cannot be smaller than the Planck Length it must be pixelated. In essence, this defines space as an accumulation of Planck Time and Planck Length, by stipulating their existence as the smallest unit, and therefore the universe is pixelated. It seems somewhat a tautology to me, and I'd love to be moved from this perspective. Also, after studying the emergence theorem and how the dimensions are assigned, I feel they are arbitrary to some degree. I will elaborate later.

One interesting aspect from the video is the role of consciousness, a pure observational role. The universe exists because it is observed.

We need to be skeptical. To help let's review Neil Degrasse Tyson discussing eyewitness observations:


So, this is a great introduction to reality, consciousness, and emergence theory:



A theory of everything where the universe is an expression of a language with Klee Irwin that also discusses free will, consciousness, and the perception of reality:


We need consciousness in the universe to observe the universe, but was it really? Let's put consciousness in the barrel:



Now this may seem pretty far-fetched but if we look at the universe as a collection of information, our perception of said universe, what we call "reality," does resolve to our ability to observe, which is very near where we started.





Thursday, December 6, 2018

Stories of Modern Slavery for my Latin American Studies class.


To celebrate the end of the project I will post chapter 1 of the book I started 4 years ago. I read this now, and it's a bit tough. I'm a better writer I hope. :-)

Patriots and Pebbles

Chapter 1


It is hard to know that exact moment when ideas gain their own initiative. One thing certain, however, it is also at that point you can no longer take them back. They are unfettered, no longer fledglings, but ready to soar aloft and hunt alone, so it behooves us all to take the utmost care choosing which principles we feed, especially if our work is on the stage. In politics, the biggest stage of all, tiny visions can harden into unyielding gospel, defining generations, and leaving history strewn in tatters. Letting your ideas sally forth, thus, is a dangerous business. As Ethan Mason learned, sometimes what we sow can return to haunt us all.
He sat in his second floor office with Barton Overton and Michael Thomasson. Grizzled Overton was his campaign manager in the mayoral race he had just barely lost. Michael, a skinhead in his early 30s, was his personal assistant and part-time strategist, the co-chairman of the Patriot Party, Ethan’s renegade political organization. By law, Mayor Mason would remain in office until January 1, but the events of the last few days had put Ethan into the national spotlight in the worst possible way, and the subject of this morning meeting was damage control.
Protesters had scheduled a march that afternoon along Bay Street, and it looked like the weather would cooperate. The last two days were unseasonably warm for November — almost 80° F — and though a storm would arrive later, now outside it was the kind of day that attracted the tourists. Soon beneath the 23-karat gold leaf dome gilding, with the tranquilizing sound of the dolphin fountain in the background, the Hostess City of the South would witness a thousand or more of its citizens clamoring for his resignation, the chief of police’s head, and the arrest of four police officers, who, Ethan Mason believed, might have only been doing their jobs. The ubiquitous cameras would film the march, so this morning they met to discuss their message to the world, to win the discourse even if they lost everything else. At the moment Thomasson and Overton argued and Mayor Mason, as was his wont, waited for one to prevail.
Thomasson, impatient and annoyed with Barton, did not disguise his wrath. “To be an effective leader, Ethan, you need more than a moral compass. You also must show the important people loyalty. Nobody governs alone. Chief Snookers has always supported you. When you had few friends that man stood by your side. Perhaps we lost the election, but, goddamnit, the police force still backs you one hundred percent. They didn’t desert you when everyone else did, and you may need them sometime. What is their motivation for helping you if you didn’t support them when the chips were down?”
What does it matter if the police force are happy, if you lose the people? You want to be bold, Thomasson? Be right first.”
Barton had responded in his characteristic drawl. Sometimes Ethan guessed he exaggerated its down-home quality to bedevil Thomasson, for the ambitious younger man, born and bred in the Coastal Empire, strived to bury his roots.
Ethan, if you back down, everything we’ve done to promote you as a voice against crime is lost. You must show commitment to public safety.” He wiped the glistening sweat from his brow before going on. “It’s not just the officers, Ethan. Law-abiding citizens will remember you supported the police in their time of need long after all those thugs are forgotten. Most of the criminals can’t even vote. Why do this?”
Ethan noted the role reversal. Thomasson was usually the human calculator that urged caution, whereas he could always rely on pompous, self-assured Barton, the survivor of dozens of political campaigns, to make his choices by instinct.
Thomasson, you cannot be more wrong. Is it possible you don’t see what’s happening? All across America we have one case after another of race-provoked police brutality and murder. Open your eyes. It’s getting worse. Protesters are marching and screaming ‘Hands up! Don’t Shoot!’ or ‘I can’t breathe!’ plastered on the shirts of professional athletes. If you defend these unprincipled policemen, Ethan, what people will remember is your short-sighted loyalty to bigots. Don’t you recall how hard it was for you to get elected the first time? The census for this city shows over 55 per cent African-American and less than 40 per cent whites. Ethan, a rainbow coalition elected you. We worked for that trust. Lordy! Why would you throw all we built away to show loyalty to Chief Snookers, one of the most dishonest men in all of Georgia?”
Incensed, Michael Thomasson hammered his fist on the mayor’s desk. “Don’t you even care about the rule of law, Barton? Does everything have to be about how many votes you can get?”
Barton guffawed. “Ha! Are you attacking my ethics? At least I decide what’s right before I determine if it works with the electorate. In this case it’s easy. You are right, kid. People do want to see criminals prosecuted, but what about those who abuse the public interest? Aren’t they criminals too, Thomasson?”
Michael ignored Barton Overton and placed his soft hands upon Ethan’s. The mayor had an instinctive reaction to pull them away. Sometimes the young man had odd behaviors, especially when passionate. He softened his voice, and Ethan repressed an urge to shudder from the strangeness. “All I am saying is to grant them a fair trial, Ethan. Don’t let the media be the judge and jury.”
Barton scowled. “Fair trial? What the hell is the record of grand jury acquittals of police officers? Ninety-nine per cent? Ethan, ask yourself one thing: Do you want to be on the wrong side of history?”
The mayor shook his head. “I am just confused. That’s all. Okay, what would you advise, Barton?”
Immediately demand their resignations, put together a committee to scour the police department for more bad apples, call in the Justice Department, and, then, implement every one of their recommendations. Do it before you leave office and I’ll get you elected congressman.”
Don’t do it, Ethan! You yield and, so help me God, you’ll get a reputation for being soft on crime. That’s the first rock of an avalanche. Soon all of the hardship cases will rally out there in the street. You will see everyone that is not our constituency protesting. You’ll have the darkies first, but then you’ll have potheads, faggots, and lesbians. Soon enough, the whole fucking country will be fucked. Is that what you want, Ethan? Will that be your legacy? To give this country to the fucking people we are morally opposed to?”
Barton opened his mouth to counterattack, but Ethan, distracted, missed his reply. This argument about what to say bored him. Mason, an expert at finding solutions, hated discussing them. Besides, he had other problems. In fact, at the moment he cared more about figuring out how to unsay a few things.

They were not the things to unsay that his advisers might guess. Ethan had argued with his wife the evening before. Jessica, a meteorologist, reduced to the beautiful “weather girl” by many Savannahians, a term she found offensive because first at thirty-two, she was not a girl any longer, and second, she had a bachelor’s degree in earth sciences, a master’s degree in environmental studies, and five years of tutelage at the National Hurricane Center, so meteorologist was a lot closer to the mark. In Ethan’s opinion, she was always a person with something to prove, never secure enough in her qualifications, no matter what. In other words, she was his exact opposite. Anyway, Jessica had informed him that if she discovered he ever “hid his sausage” with Madison Lee again, she would file for a divorce. Conflicted, he supposed that he still loved Jessica, or rather, he loved the idea of Jessica, but she never excited him anymore. Ethan, forty-four, believed that he deserved a little more after all his sacrifices. The problem was that all of Savannah loved Jessica, a sharp dresser, witty and charismatic, who memorably kept everyone safe and calm during Hurricane Justine, and so, if she divorced Ethan, he would never be elected the Representative of House District One.
It was easy, right? He should drop Madison in the right regrets bin. Long-legged Miss Lee, however, absolutely destroyed him in bed, imaginative, experimental, willing to take chances so much that all Ethan thought about was busting his nuts in her. She was so convenient too. They were neighbors on the circle of mansions (Jessica’s father’s money) fronting Guckenheimer Park, just outside the historical district. No, none of that was the real problem. He had done something even more stupid than taking a lover. He had fallen in love with her. So, it was not just the sex anymore. Madison Lee gave him confidence. She gave him pride and a reason to live. Was it so strange? With all that had transpired in his life, who could expect him to lust for the woman he met when he was young and naïve? He had tried to reason with Jessica, asking her to be practical, but she was so irrational now, and that made him lose his temper. She had never protested so much before about his extramarital sex, all those hollow relationships and one night stands, so why was she being a bitch now when he found a lover he cared about?
He had answered his own question though. Jessica must sense that this time his dalliance was no mere fascination. He also guessed part of her inflexibility derived from pathetic feminine rivalry. Both were on television, and they competed professionally, even if Jessica was on every day on WHHD, while Madison Lee was just a reporter at WGHV. Lost in contemplation, Ethan kept tuning the others out, while the sabal palms twisted in the wind and the marble columns down Bull Street glistened in the sun. Everything would be easier if heroic men who were owed more were allowed to live by different rules.
He heard Thomasson clear his throat and his attention tumbled back into the room where they somehow waited expectantly for him to comment. He suppressed laughter and announced, “I haven’t made up my mind yet. Let’s go over to Paula Deen’s and get some lunch before the rush. I asked Kate to make reservations at The Lady and Sons. After I have had some fried chicken and biscuits, I’ll be able to figure this out.”
The frustration in the room was palpable. Both of his advisers shouted at once, directed at each other, but really aimed at him. Thomasson won the shouting match (Barton tricked him by letting him win), and, without toning it down, he engaged Ethan the same way, yapping hysterically, “You need to take this opportunity to clarify your fucking position. You are a fucking war hero, Ethan! You fought for our fucking freedom. This is a discussion about our fucking values. You need to tell the fucking people that there is only one side, the right side, the side of order and progress. You are a politician! This is easy. Most of the ones this asshole is defending can’t even vote and those that can, don’t. We shouldn’t even be arguing.” Game, match, set, thought Barton.
The fucking people? You mean our citizens? You have a real potty-mouth, Michael.” Ethan sighed as if he could make the problem disappear by exhaling. “You’re both stubborn and this time, you’re also wrong. It’s not as simple as you say, Barton. Freedom also means you have a right to a fair trial by your peers and not a whitewash. These men have been tried by WGHV and the local papers. They haven’t ever had their day in court, and I, for one, am against vigilante justice, but, Michael, I am also opposed to hiding criminals whoever they are. If these men are guilty, they should face the full consequences, and I’m not a man that will stand in the way. So what do we do now?”

His cellular phone and landline rang simultaneously. He picked up the office line, and Michael and Barton went at it again. “Put him through, Kate,” he said, giving the men a hushing gesture.
The governor’s voice sounded different than the last time they spoke, right after his election. Back then he had been someone with who another politician wanted to be associated: a war hero in the family tradition, a 40-year-old decorated colonel, given his promotion a few weeks before leaving service, along with a Purple Heart he earned by saving the lives of four men — the driver from his unit and three Polish officers from Zgrupowania Bojowego B (Battle Group B) that they were escorting. Their vehicle hit an IED outside Kabul. The M1114, a humvee outfitted with the FRAG5 upgraded armor kit, might have already been replaced if it had been an American vehicle, but the United States transferred it to the Polish forces when they arrived in Afghanistan, so it was a softer target than it should have been. That hot dusty day the vehicle rolled over on its side and Captain Mason managed not only to remove the other passengers under fire, but also held their position against enemy rockets and gunfire until reinforcements arrived. Ironically, those officers had made the same trip safely two dozen times, but this time the Polish officers on their way to Kabul International to ISAF headquarters were headed home and their luck ran out. One of them died of injuries on the plane after surviving the goddamn war for six years and this thought still made Ethan angry. When Mayor Mason closed his eyes, like he did now, he could remember that blast, the screams, the reek of powder and death in the air. At such moments, all his surroundings went pale, even as the governor went on about explosions, fire, and civil disobedience, sounding less effective with every word.
It was so frustrating. All of these people only talked, but Ethan Mason loved action. The call was over in a few minutes. Jessica, another talker, had been on the other line, just as he assumed, probably wishing to continue their spat.
Alright, listen up. Something has happened in Washington,” Ethan told his men. “The story is fluid - but the National Guard has been called into several cities to control crowds. The governor’s theory is that it is some type of Al Qaeda operation because of the simultaneous attacks. Anyway, the skinny for us is that Governor Tanner wants us to stop the march. He says it’s a public safety issue. How are we going to do that?”
Barton said, “We’re not. If you stop the march, you will need to blockade the streets. You’ll be suppressing their right to free speech. You won’t get elected dog catcher if you do that. Be wise. Our governor, bless that old bastard, is setting you up for a fall.”
Mason had to admit that was good thinking. Tanner was an old-school Republican, while Mason’s allies formed part of the neoconservative branch, a visible proponent of restoring America to its past greatness: military power, morality, and financial stability. It did not matter that they used a romanticized version of the past as their standard. What mattered was getting people enthusiastic enough to vote. He had not lost because of his message. Circumstances had done him in.
Thomasson, of course, did not agree with Overton. “Nonsense! The governor is right. This is a public safety issue. This plays to your strength as a decorated military leader and, coincidentally, it also gives you a chance to repress the protesters, which the honest people of our city will support. Here’s what I’d do. Set up fire trucks down the street at the corners of Drayton and Whittaker, get squad cars to block both sides of Bay and deploy the SWAT team facing Bull. They will back off, especially if you make an announcement before about the reason.”
Ethan, exhilarated, taking action at last, could feel his blood pumping.
Ok, Thomasson, get a hold of Snookers and get on it.”
Michael replied with a sneer to Barton and a grateful smile to Ethan.
We better find out what’s going on in Washington,” Barton said, a little chagrined. “I’ll make some calls too.”
Barton, I’m way ahead of you," Thomasson growled from behind his notebook. “The internet seems to be overloaded though. It’s never been very good in this building, but I can’t even get Fox News’s page to load.”

An annoying vibration meant Jessica was ringing again. Why now? Ethan offered the two a gesture of helpless frustration and took the call.
Finally,” she greeted him with characteristic dryness from her office at WHHD. “So, you need to go to school and pick up Jacob and Liam, right now. I have already ordered Maneesha to pick up Ashley, but they won’t let the boys out without a parent or at least a note, and I’m in Hilton Head.”
Jessica, you could not have picked a worse time! I can’t go run errands for you now. We have a crisis.”
I have been trying to tell you about it for an hour. I can tell you what you need to do. Listen to me.”
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m the mayor.” The exasperation in his voice was almost poisonous. “I’ll consider taking orders from the governor, but not you. My responsibility is —”
So, you must be living under a rock. There is practically a civil war going on! Terrorists have already struck Philadelphia and Jacksonville with dirty bombs. People are dying and others have been exposed to radiation. There are also stories of hostage seizures and civil disorder in Washington DC, Atlanta, and even Charleston! Now, Ethan, I don’t think anything will happen in Savannah, but under the circumstances doesn’t it make a little sense, just a tad maybe, for you to guarantee our children’s safety? I have to do the News At Noon and then I’ll be on my way to Savannah. Right now you have to do your part.”
If what you are saying is true, Jessica, I can’t leave my office. My responsibility is to all the people of the town — not just my children. I have to break up the demonstration. That’s the governor’s orders, and he outranks you.” He hung up before she replied. Perhaps Jessica knew more than he did, but he had heard enough. As he told his advisors the latest rumors, he scribbled a note on official stationery and asked Kate to give it to Deron, his chauffeur, and send him off to the school in the limo to pick up the boys. It was an emergency, and the school would have to make an exception this time. If someone from the administration dared to challenge him, he would give them a piece of his mind.
I don’t envy you, buddy," Barton said. “Your wife is intelligent and absolutely a stunner, but is there any woman who needs more maintenance? Why does God make all the good pussy so hard to keep happy?”
That’s a question for another time,” Thomasson snapped. “We’re trying to solve real problems. Remember?”
Overton ignored him. “You are going to need to make a statement, Ethan. I’ll craft something for you, and you can read it in fifteen minutes.”
No!” Thomasson stood up fast and knocked his coffee off the desk. Ethan rolled his eyes. “Oh, fuck!”
Don’t worry about it. Let’s just get our jobs done.”
Thomasson could not be contained. “Let me write it, Ethan. I’ve just finished texting WGHV and they have a van in the street already, so at least it will be televised.”
No. Overton, it’s yours. Don’t mess it up.”
Ethan dismissed them and they exited, still arguing. During the meeting, Mayor Mason reached the conclusion that Thomasson had become expendable. He would wait until January 1 and then fire him. He needed someone smarter for the congressional campaign, ruthless like Barton but better with technology. His cell phone rang again, and he turned it off without looking, so Ethan did not discover that nearby Jacksonville and Atlanta had joined the list of nearly twenty cities attacked. He later thought about Jessica’s casually dismissed call and wondered if it would have changed anything, but by that time Ethan was getting ready for showtime and Jessica was about to get very busy too.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years. History and culture written in thread.

Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early TimesWomen's Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This really helped consolidate my knowledge of the development of human civilization. Its use of language along with archeological evidence reinforces the research I've pursued on language origins.

As a world builder of science fiction and fantasy, Barber's research fills in the rest of the story that stone & metallic artifacts do not disclose. Moreover, the author gets hands on and reconstructs the crafts of the past. Altogether, it is a brilliant endeavor.


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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Beauty and Glamour

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1)Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this story. My favorite character was Mr. Vincent's muse.

Kowal constructs a fantasy world atop Austen's propriety-infused England, one where beauty and magic (glamours) are coupled. The story is a romance, but there is drama and numerous plot twists as well. Kowal's mention of Radcliffe's work conjured recollections of The Italian's action, and indeed the climax of the story is fraught with heroics. I was not expecting to be so enthralled but am so happy I made this journey with Jane.


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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Eagle Longings in Contrast





Some days the sun beats down like it never will rain again, and everyone tastes flakes of rusty earth upon their tongues. My mother and I are hanging sheets we have just washed in the Rio Doce. I yawn into the sunlight.
“Shola,” my mother says. “Did I see you staring after Akin this morning when the men were headed to the fields? You must not watch him, or he will get strange ideas, and he is a good man but too impulsive. He may be trouble, Shola. Iranola is a better match for you.”
She speaks in a hushed tone in Yoruba, our language for secrets. Most of the slaves speak Bantu at Fazenda Carvalho. The masters speak only Portuguese and with their whips, not that they whip many of us in the big house—we are valuable and docile—but when they thrash our men, they make us watch.
“Iya, I did not even see Akin this morning,” I say, an automatic protest as I suppress the memory of how his muscles bristled and the glistening of his skin. Oh, how I could nestle in the crook of one of those thick arms surrounding me! And such a shining smile, though I often wonder why anyone should smile when setting off to harvest shriveled cane beneath a glaring sun and harsher overseer. Our work is long suffering, but it’s not as awful as theirs.
I am fifteen years-old. All my life I have belonged to Seu Francisco Carvalho and his family. I toil for them, and they treat me well, so I have never dreamed of fleeing. And even if I wished to run away, I never would. Families of escaped slaves are beaten, and my two goofy brothers, Tayo and Folu, are so young. Besides, Dona Maleficent favors my mother so the boys will work in the mill, not the fields. In the meantime, they do chores while we wash the rusty dirt from the sheets, towels, clothes, rugs, and curtains.
“I am not blind, Shola,” my mother says, recalling me to the present. “You need a good boy like Iranola, one who will not cause you trouble.”
Sometimes I wish I could disappear.
One starry night I met Iranola, who always wears a silly grin. I was returning from the house after scrubbing the patio, the same I am standing on now, and he was coming back from the sty, where he tends master’s fat porkers. A gentle creature, he has a way with animals. He stinks like them too. That night he rushed past without looking at me. I stamped my foot and pointed to the sky.
“Do you see that?”
He stopped at once.
“It’s pretty,” he said.
“Not my finger. In the sky? Do you recognize it?”
I was pointing at the harvest morning star, what we call the eagle star. I longed for him to reply, “That is Oshun, a beautiful woman shining in glittering yellow, a dress or a wide skirt. It doesn’t matter what she wears. She is the orixá of love, beauty, and sex.”
“That’s a star,” he said instead, and so I told him everything about her, how she rules over marriage, making babies, and the essence of a woman. I took my time to explain. When I finished he said, “It still surely looks just like a star, doesn’t it?”
In our world, family antecedents or characteristics dictate a child’s name. “Akin” means brave or heroic, and “Iranola” implies he is from a wealthy family, and maybe back in Africa he was. Also, Akin is a mulatto, but Iranola is all Yoruba. His children will never be free.
I was big for my age and have danced with the moon since I turned nine, another secret I was never allowed to tell other girls until it was obvious. I did not understand why I must be quiet, until Binta, a Bantu girl only a year older than I, disappeared. My mother would only say, “The Moon’s path is full of thorns.”
A few weeks later I overheard Bimpe, Iranola’s mother, our blabbermouth, telling Iya that Binta now lived in the Casa Cor de Rosa, and how Seu Francisco bragged to Dona Maleficent what a good price she had brought.
“They’ve ruined her,” Iya said. She spat and cursed.
I regard Iya now with my best imitation of her face then.
“I am not afraid of Akin’s trouble,” I tell her and catch an ember of fire in her eyes.
My sister Ifedayo—love becomes joy—appears. The last few days and nights they are tending Dona Maleficent, who has dengue fever.
“Iya, come quickly. She is much worse,” Ifedayo says, and mother follows her inside. I lean against a wall, watching the farm lulled by the sun into its sleepy rhythm. Iranola waves as he heads off to feed master’s pigs. I yawn again, and Mother rushes back to the porch.
“Don’t just stand there. Fetch some water!” she says.
There are three fingers of water in a glass bottle on the sill.
"Take this, Iya. I will fetch more by the river."
"Bring a lot, Shola."
"I will. I promise."
She shakes her head.
“The poor thing won’t last the night unless the fever breaks.”
By the well Akin stands with the other men. He is the most handsome, tallest, and strongest too, even though he is also nearly the youngest. Our gazes lock, and he sidles up beside me.
“Oh, Akin,” I say, feigning disinterest. “I didn’t even notice you.”
“Quiet,” he says. “Did you ever hear of Cumbe?”
It is a word we do not usually say, but somewhere in the interior, across the endless water, Kalunga, lies a mocambo, a free village without white people and whips, named Cumbe.
“No,” I tell him.
“I want to take you there with me. We will start a family and someday a tribe of our own. We will be free, Shola. Do you want to be free?”
My heart races. It was all I ever wanted to be free and belong to this wonderful man.
“Why me?”
He smiles a fence of gleaming white.
“Because you are so pretty. And I am also handsome. You will be a good mother for my sons.”
“But you do love me?”
“I want you to be mine.”
The briefest second passes before I acquiesce.
“I’ll come with you,” I tell him, and he lifts me off my feet, planting his lips upon mine. He seizes my tongue and sucks it like a starving baby suckling. Then his tongue passes through my teeth, digging into my mouth, as if he wants to lick my tonsils. He wants me to suck back but I cannot even breathe.
“You must never even look at another man,” he says once I am returned to the ground.
“I won’t. I promise.”
A nervous silence ensues. Several of the other field hands pass by, and one beats his chest. I feel his gaze traverse my body, but he speaks to Akin instead.
“Akin! Akin! You are our hero!”
My man beats his chest in return and flexes his biceps.
“Yes, I am!” he says.
The field hands clap and sing a song praising him as they depart. We are left alone.
“When should we run?” I ask him.
“Tomorrow night. After the moon sets, wait for me by the stone bridge. I will be nearby in the fields.”
“What about the dogs?”
When slaves flee, our master sets teams of ferocious dogs after us, along with hunters. Nine times out of ten the fugitives return, badly bitten, their skin shaped into bloody clumps by cats o' nine tails.
“Look at me,” he says. “No, no. Harder. Do you see how I am? I am not afraid of dogs. I can tear them apart.”
“But their teeth—”
“I have teeth too!”
His chest pumps. He is pure muscle from shoulders to abdomen and further… All along his legs lie muscles, drive, and a latent power that could awaken Exu himself. My logic melts.
“I will be there,” I say, and he nods and leaves me, headed back to the fields.
I pump the water from the well and return with a big bucket to the house. As I pass by, the doctor is speaking with my master. Lately, the doctor comes every day.
“But it is a matter of life or death,” Seu Francisco says. “When the harvest comes I will have money to pay you.”
“Can’t you give some small token as a guarantee? It doesn’t have to be much.”
“I have no money.”
“It’s no problem. I will visit Dona Maleficent now. I trust you will find something.”
I waited for them to enter, but they urged me forward, lingering behind. The doctor coughed, my master grunted, and both laughed. I shivered as an icicle sutured my spine.
“She will need a thorough examination,” he said.
“Of course,” said Seu Francisco. “There are others too, but this one is prime.”
Dona Maleficent’s room stinks of disease. The curtains are drawn, and a single kerosene lamp burns on a night stand. She lies in a soaked sheet, eyes unseeing, pale and exhausted, resigned to death.
I set the water on a table by the door. One of my aunts wets a towel and lays it upon our senhora’s forehead. The doctor brushes her away and fishes in his case for leeches, which he applies to her forearms and thighs. He examines her chest. Her breath comes in gasps, punctuated by trembling.
She is dying. It won’t be long.
“She is much better,” the doctor pronounces. “By tomorrow she will be well.”
Seu Francisco smiles, and they talk a while about leeches and caring for them once they fall off.
“Don’t worry,” Seu Francisco tells him. “I will explain what they must do in simple words.”
The doctor clears his throat.
“That small token?”
Seu Francisco drags me by the hair out of the room. Iya looks up, eyes flashing, and Ifedayo’s do too, hers expressing the pain I am feeling, as if she feels it herself. I am taken into the master’s bedroom.
“You need to see this,” he says, and tears open my dress. I cup one hand across my breasts and the other across my toto. “What do you think of that?”
The doctor touches my upturned nipple clinically, a fierce lust in his eyes.
“By the prophet’s beard,” he says, amused.
“Please, no.” My voice is the smallest protest.
Seu Francisco slaps me across the cheek and shoves me away. My cheek burns and body tenses, but I know better than to fight. I huddle in the corner, covering myself.
“Keep your mouth shut,” Seu Francisco growls and turns to the doctor. “Would you like to see more?”
“No, I am satisfied,” he says. “If I don’t want her, I’ll send her to Cor da Rosa.”
“So, you will return tomorrow?”
“Yes,” the doctor says. “By then your wife will be fine. I will collect my leeches and this tiny treasure too.”
They clomp each other on the back, shake hands, and leave. When my sister and mother enter, I stop my tears and keep quiet. Not only am I afraid of Seu Francisco, but I’m also worried what my mother or Akin might do to avenge me, if they knew the destiny those two white demons have planned. Besides, I still have plans of my own. I am leaving tomorrow night with Akin. Soon I will be free.
I will tell of my orixá now, Oxumaré, the trickster, who rules the rainbow and the snake. When he dances, he traces rainbows in the air, gifts to the heavens and the earth. He is about mystery, art, and motion, and I do not resemble him, for I love things of substance, that which needs no explanation like the ecstasy of water on a parched throat, a shooting star sent by Oxalá across the heavens, or the way newborns cling to their mothers. I like what is real, but Oxumaré loves playing games and making puzzles. He came to me. I did not go to him.
The overseer is drunk, and most of the men are at Cor da Rosa, because Seu Francisco is celebrating, confident Dona Maleficent will recover. The leeches are fat, but when I last see her, she is paler than ever, and her breathing is labored. I still believe she will soon be dead.
Our master is Christian and would kill us if he knew we practiced worshiping our gods, even if it were to help Dona Maleficent, so that night we gather secretly at the terreiro, a place where we make promises and beckon to the orixás. It is a stone building where cane is stored, but the harvest has been poor, so it is empty. Inside, we have drums and smoke. I never talk to Naade, our guide, or our Pai Santo, Abaiade, a slave who was once flogged to death after escaping, but reborn the same night I entered the world. I love and respect all the orixás, but I never ask for promises. All I do is dance, sing, and try to be one with all.
Oxumaré had other plans. He is together with me, closer than ever before. No, I am not possessed, but he watches me, scrutinizing, wondering how he can play some dangerous game, while all around me words swirl and colors dance. My people appeal to Omulu, who cures fevers and vanquishes epidemics, but my contrary mind is not with them. If Dona Maleficent is cured, Seu Francisco will give me to the doctor, and I will never see Akin again.
But I do not want her to die! She is the reason my brothers will not work in the fields, so she must live, but not get better yet.
This is a trick, I tell myself, but my voice is not mine. This is what I do.
“No,” I say, but I mean yes. Yes. YES.
Dance with me then.
Surrender.

* * * * *

The next morning while I sweep the patio, the doctor comes, but Dona Maleficent is worse. The leeches are dead. Seu Francisco is furious.
“You promised!”
He shoves the doctor against the wall. The little man blanches and mumbles gibberish. Seu Francisco knocks him to the floor.
“My wife is dying, and you are a useless turd.”
Our master throws the leeches at him.
“Take your fucking blood worms and leave.”
Seu Francisco is halfway to the door when the doctor calls him.
“Tomorrow, she will be better,” he says.
“I am done listening to you.”
“Senhor Carvalho, I have done my best for your wife. She will improve. Trust me.”
Seu Francisco rubs his chin and looks away.
“I prayed for her in the chapel,” the doctor says. “God is on our side, just as always.”
I keep sweeping, half imagining rainbows left behind in my strokes.
See, you are an artist, I tell myself, but again not in my voice.
“You promised to pay me,” the doctor says. “I have to buy new leeches now.”
Seu Francisco does not even glance at me.
“Come collect her tomorrow,” he says and shuts the door, leaving me outside with the doctor. He approaches me, so close his stench wrinkles my nose.
“You will enjoy living with me,” he promises. “I know you Africans fuck like bunny rabbits. You will be my little heifer. My studs will keep you bred, and your children will make me rich.”
I lowered my head, the way I am supposed to do.
“You don’t say much, do you? Are you stupid or just shy?”
I shake my head. My tears are welling, but I must not let him see.
“It’s just fine if you are shy. You will learn to scream in time.”
He pulls me close, his hands busy on my body, his firmness against my belly, but Ifedayo’s appearance saves me.
“Shola, you are supposed to be working,” she says, grabbing my broom from where I left it against a column. She swings it over my head, and I fall back. “Iya wants you right now. And you better run, because she is so angry!”
I fly off the patio into the house, but my mother is just sitting beside a raving Dona Maleficent, cradling one hand. Her face is healthier, and it is strange hearing our chants coming from a white woman’s throat, but I recognize our voice in hers and Oxumaré’s too.
Tonight, you must go to Cumbe. Or you will die.
That night I wait for Iya to sleep before I tell her goodbye. She lies there beaming, apparently careless, and I wonder about her dreams, how she always sees the good in the world. My aunt once told me my mother watched father beaten to death without once averting her gaze. He and four others had rebelled after the Muslim uprising of 1835. (Oxalá, the greatest of all orixás, is also Allah.) I kiss her once on the forehead and sneak away. Her voice arrests me at the door.
“You are a good daughter, Shola. May all the orixás protect you.”
An hour later I am by the stone bridge, holding a tiny bag of my belongings: a spare dress, a few colorful stones, a curious bone, a seashell I once traded for, and a hemp rope. When the moon sets, the stars are blazing like a symphony of will-o’-the-wisps.
Akin does not come. My mother was right about him.
I stand by the road choosing how I am to die. If I return to the farm, the doctor will take me away, breed me, and sell my children, but if I walk down the road, the dogs will tear me to shreds when they catch me in the morning. I take a few steps and finally let the stored tears crest and roll down my cheeks. On the other side of the bridge, I pause and glance back towards the farm. Someone is coming down the road, but it is so dark I cannot tell who it is.
Of course, it must be Akin. He has come to save me after all. He is just late. I hide off the road, thinking of surprising him. He will get an earful from me.
But it is Iranola. I burst from my spot and confront him. Stunned, his orbs are like two full moons.
“Where is Akin?”
“Akin?”
“He is supposed to take me beyond Kalunga to Cumbe.”
Iranola nods.
“Dona Maleficent’s fever broke,” he says. “The master’s house is a drunken riot. Some of the slaves are there too. Akin was drinking cachaça with Seu Francisco.”
I cross my arms.
“I won’t go back,” I tell him.
“I can’t take you anyhow,” he says. “I am escaping to Cumbe myself. I am too proud to be a slave.”
“You’re not afraid?”
“It doesn’t matter. It is my will to go. The voice of freedom sings in my head. My orixá does not let me sleep anymore.”
“How will you find your way?”
He chuckles, and I can barely contain my annoyance.
“I will walk away and let my path find me.”
I look skyward and roll my eyes, but he does not see. He is walking down the road.
Akin is so handsome. He is strong and tall. I belong to him. I am sure he will love and protect me. I only have to wait.
Iranola does not realize I am hurrying after him. When he pauses a few minutes later at a fork in the road, I confront him again.
“I thought you were waiting for Akin,” he said.
“I have decided to wait for him in Cumbe. So I guess I will go along with you.”
He produces a sweetsop, opens it, and hands me half. It is so luscious and soft, and I am starving. We walk in the starlight, eating fruit and spitting seeds. We walk all night long.
By noon, I have been sleepwalking for hours. Sometimes Iranola guides me, but most often I plod on behind him, watching his back. Storm clouds are gathering on every horizon. The sky is pregnant with electricity and ozone.
The dogs are approaching, along with their cacophony of exultation and promise of fangs. Iranola smiles over his shoulder.
“You must be so afraid,” he says.
“I am never afraid.”
I glare at him.
“You are crazy then. Those dogs would eat you alive.”
We hurry on a while more. They are gaining on us. We both start to trot. I am just as fast as he.
“Fine,” I mutter between breaths. “I am afraid of the dogs.”
“You shouldn’t be.”
“You just said I should be.”
He laughs like the fool he is and gives me a twisted grin.
“I have fed those dogs for years,” he says. “They will never hurt me. And I won’t let them hurt you.”
“I thought you only fed the pigs.” I am gasping for breath now.
“It doesn’t matter. All the animals talk. They tell each other secrets.” He does not speak for a moment. “I am only afraid of the hunters, but they usually stay far behind, letting the beasts do their dirty work, and now I am no longer afraid of them. Not at all.”
My chest hurts. I have to stop, but before I can, he seizes my hand and we plunge off the road, through parched chaparral, a hundred meters of scrub until ahead of us a wide stream of slow water rolls.
“Kalunga,” he says.
The barking is nearer than ever. A few fat raindrops fall, and then the sky opens like a faucet.
“I can’t swim,” I shout.
“You don’t have to,” he says. “I have built a raft.”
He pulls it from its hiding place. Astonished, I am without words for the first time since I have known him, and I wonder now, if I ever have known him. Questions bombard me, a downpour just like the rain, but I am mute until we are halfway across the river.
“How did you have a raft?” I ask him. “You’ve been able to escape? Why didn’t you go before?”
Instead of answering, he guides us with his oar. We are approaching a shoal around an island. A custard apple tree growing there is loaded with fruit. Its beach is bleeding. Transfixed, I watch a moment, and then the storm is spent. When he answers my question, I have forgotten I asked it.
“Do you know what this is?” he says, pointing at the water.
“You told me it’s Kalunga. It’s just a muddy red river.”
“Ah, like a star is just a star!”
I cannot resist spearing him with my eyes, but they betray me, because I am crying. We catch the current on the far side of the stream, just beyond the island. The river moves faster here.
When I look up again, he is smiling, so content and mockingly wise I could punch him.
“Did you think I had forgotten that night?”
He sets his oar upon the raft and takes my hand.
“This river divides my life, Shola. Back in Africa, they say if you want to go quickly, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. I intend to go very far indeed. Will you come with me, Shola?”
I see his silly face above me and know he will never be strong, tall, or even serious. Nor will he ever lead men or be heroic. I still smell pigs when he is nearby, but I am certain, unlike Akin, Iranola cares about me, so I tell him yes. Yes. YES.
His kiss is slow, tender, and too shy. A year later, when we first make love, he is the same way, respectful and tentative. I want to be crushed. I want to scream, but whenever I do, he stops and asks if he is hurting me.
Seven years later, we own herds of beasts near Rio Preto. The praça is crowded, and I am wearing a fancy dress, as I wait for my mother, brothers, and sisters. We purchased them through a slave trader, the same we used for our own manumissions. Iranola holds our daughter, Ana Carolina. Her real name is Ifelayo—love is peace. She is the best person in the world. My mother cries when he passes her into her arms.
That night I ask my mother about Akin.
“Iya, is he still strong and tall? Is he handsome?”
“Oh, yes,” she tells me. “And well off too, at least for a slave. He betrayed the other field hands. They were hiding machetes, ready to revolt and free us, but Alom told Seu Francisco, so after the hangings, he made him the new overseer of Fazenda Carvalho. You were right about him. He was successful.”
She waits for me to say the same about Iranola, but he does nothing by himself. In Africa, they say, you learn to chop down trees by chopping them down. That is what we do every day. They also say dogs don’t love bones over meat; it’s just that no one gives them meat. I am like those dogs, always hungry, yet ever filled to the brim.
“I am so glad Iranola was lucky enough to find me,” I tell her. “He needed someone to tell him what to do.”
Then I lie back on the tall grass, my mother beside me, and we gaze upon the stars. In a few minutes the moon rises and bathes us in its sweet silver light.