I'll go with thee to the lane's end... I am a kind of burr, I shall stick. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

I write not to teach but to learn. Rebecca West

drew's writing:

  • "Always Forever Now," Ideomancer volume 13, issue 2
  • "Black Sun," Black Static # 32
  • "Bread or Cake" and "Pride/Shame,"2nd Annual Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival
  • "Copper Heart," Polluto Magazine issue 5, A Steampunk Orange
  • "The Accomplished Birder's Guide to Overcoming Rejection," Last Drink Bird Head, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • "Another Night With the Henriksens," Player's Theater Halloween One-Act Festival NYC 2008
  • "Hating the Lovers," and "Pipe Down!" Geez Magazine: Thirty Sermons You Would Never Hear in Church
  • "Beth/slash/Nathan," Paper Fruit Blogiversary Contest

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Santa, Urston the polar bear, & King Squite of the Goblins—a Father Christmas letter

I'm called on by my mother-in-law to copy out the annual Santa letter she writes for her granddaughter, who won't recognize my handwriting.  Two elves named Mac and Pete are the putative authors. I do this under duress; though I love Santa legends, I'm opposed to telling children Santa is real. Why foment disillusion? I'm a good sport, though, and confide my qualms to you only.

This year my mother-in-law's inspiration ran dry. At Thanksgiving I said, "We should get you a copy of Tolkien's Father Christmas Letters, they're great!" (I found my copy in a used shop as a teenagerI hadn't known such a book existed, and felt so privileged to have discovered it). My mother-in-law emailed me: Please do send material for the Santa letter that you talked about-----I've never read The Hobbit

So I wrote her an adventure, posted below, with elements from J.R.R., as narrated by the elves Mac and Pete:

Dear Margaret,

It’s been quite a year up here at the North Pole. We almost didn’t have a North Pole! It all started with this polar bear, Urston, who likes to hang around Mrs. Claus’s kitchen hoping for extra cookie dough. One day Urston stole a tray of cookies that were cooling on Mrs. Claus’s kitchen window, and ran straight into the North Pole trying to escape! He knocked it right over, and cookies flew everywhere.  It took several elves—and a very embarrassed and sorry polar bear—to hoist the North Pole into place again. 

If that was the craziest thing that happened this year, we’d probably be back on track with toy production. But the next day we ran into some trouble with Santa’s old enemy, the Goblin King, or, King Squite for short. King Squite is jealous that he and his goblins don’t get any Christmas presents! All the goblins send Santa letters with lists of the horrible things they want each year, and leave out moldy cookies for him on Christmas Eve. But Santa writes back to the goblins that if they want presents, they have to be good. Which of course, is the one thing goblins can never be (because then they would turn into elves, as you know).  

This year, King Squite and his goblin army surrounded Santa’s castle and demanded that all the toys be surrendered to them immediately (including some stuff that is supposed to go to you). Of course Santa refused, and we elves ran around to close the shutters on all the windows, and pull up the drawbridge. Then Mac and me loaded gobs of chocolate sauce and marshmallow fluff into the candy cannons around Santa’s castle. (Goblins can’t bear sweets, any type of sugar burns them, and they do a very comical dance trying to get it off them).

Our candy cannons were working alright at keeping the goblin army from climbing the walls of Santa’s castle, but the goblins still surrounded us, and we didn’t know what we going to do to get them to go away. King Squite rolled out a giant slime-catapult, and said that if Santa tried to take his sleigh out to deliver presents on Christmas Eve, they would shoot him down with it! 

Just then, Urston the polar bear showed up with his mother polar bear, who had dragged him back to Santa’s castle to apologize for stealing Mrs. Claus’s cookies the day before (even though Urston had apologized when it happened, and had been very polite about it—for a polar bear).  When Urston and his mom saw King Squite and his goblin army surrounding Santa’s castle, they called all their polar bear friends and relatives, and soon the goblin army was surrounded by polar bears! (The polar bears have their own issues with the goblins, but that’s another story). 

As you can imagine, the goblins ran off pretty quicklyso it looks like we’re still on track for Christmas Eve deliveries, but just barely... The main problem is, when the goblin army was escaping from the polar bears, they knocked over the North Pole, and this time it broke into several pieces. We found most of it, but some of the pieces are missing, and I don’t think we’ll have a chance to go looking for them till after Christmas. I just hope the goblins didn’t steal any of the missing pieces of the North Pole, because I sure wouldn’t want to have to sneak into the goblin’s cave kingdom to get them back… Scary!

Anyway, I’ll let you know how it all turns out. Meanwhile, Mac and I hope you have a Merry Christmas!  


Did you notice how I left it open for a sequel? 

Also, I used "issue" in that vague, euphemistic sense of "problem," which I wouldn't normally, but I could see Mac and Pete doing that. 

I had fun being Santa this year. I always liked him, though I'm grateful I was never told he was real. Life is hard enough to decipher without being deliberately misled. 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, September 16, 2013

orcharding with the mighty alan chadwick

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I visited the Alan Chadwick garden while dogsitting in Santa Cruz. It is one of the most enchanted and inspiring places I have ever been. A real Eden, if we understand that Eden takes work. The first time I visited, a beautiful, naturally tanned woman exited the gate as I mounted the stairs. The woman had light brown hair and a few freckles, and held three pears like they were a baby.

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A goddess. Alan Chadwick was a Shakespearean actor, and a student of Rudolf Steiner, the father of Anthroposophy. He developed a system of orcharding that derived from Steiner's biodynamic system, and from the French Intensive method.

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And that's about all I know of him. There isn't a lot of information about Chadwick online, and I've yet to order any of his books. So I wonder, was he happy? Was he queer? (He looks a little queer in his photos, for what it's worth). If he was queer, was he partnered? Was he proud of his glorious, blooming legacy, or would he rather have been another Gielgud?

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The garden wasn't that close to where I was staying--I rode my host's bike up the first time, and took the campus bus up the second time. "Up" because the garden is high on a hill, and my journey took me through a dry California landscape of suburbs, scrubby woods, and the huge, empty spaces of UC Santa Cruz, where students and blankly quizzical deer wandered like figures in a de Chirico painting.
 
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On one trip up the grassy plains to the garden, I made it to the shade of a redwood grove, and saw a tiny buck with a full, perfect rack. I think I was so tired from the hot, uphill trek (it didn't look so bad on Google maps) that the little buck might have been my spirit guide, but I realized that only later. 

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Still, it was cool to see him, even if I missed out on enlightenment. Part of the adventure of traveling is meeting the local animals. Particularly when traveling alone, I feel. I meet a creature, and think, You don't know how far I came to see you.

And the animal thinks, You don't know how little I care.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

visiting my godson's school

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I was invited to Special Person's Day at my godson's school, and, wanting to look appropriately special, I bought the purple leather jumpsuit Eddie Murphy wore in Delirious; one of my better e-Bay finds. When I tried it on I saw it had to be taken in at the waist and let out at the shoulders, so, maybe next year.

My godson is a juggernaut. At his school, we arranged dowels in order of size, painted a picture, and arranged pegs in their proper slots on a peg board (see above). At home, we played with trains, and read a Richard Scarry book about occupations in which most of the jobs seemed to be done by men. The Bob the Builder episodes we watched had better gender parity, but really obvious foreshadowing. My godson adores earth-moving machinery, so we stood at his window and watched the wheelchair ramp being installed at his building. A silver-haired guy in the earth-mover smiled and waved, the younger guy with the shovel glowered. This got monotonous, but I didn't want to leave my godson standing on the windowsill. His dad slid a beanbag chair under the windowsill, and I was free to read the Darth Vader and Son book I had brought as a gift (for my friend, the godson got Sendak).

My godson and his dad and I were out for a walk when I realized I only had an hour to see the pre-Raphaelite show at the National Gallery, so I excused myself and got a cab.When I rejoined my friend and godson, the latter was really curious if I had successfully landed the cab, like I'd been big game hunting. I read him the Richard Scarry book again. His mom came home and asked if reading the Richard Scarry book twice made me want to shoot myself. I thought about it, and said no. We played with the trains again till it was time for me to catch my real train. 

On the rainy ride home I read the Rossetti book I picked up at the National Gallery. I'd been wanting to read Rossetti's translation of Dante's New Life for a while, but shouldn't have read it all in one sitting, on a rainy night, late, when I was so tired; the later sonnets about loss and dwindling time seemed very real; Dante can be a more potent downer than Richard Scarry. Still, the New Life was beautiful, and I like becoming better acquainted with both Dantes, Alighieri and Rossetti--the latter a much loved, lifelong friend.

When I'm old, my godson can visit me on Special Persons Day at the senior home, and maybe, while I conserve my mellow by gazing at the brawny workmen install the new wheelchair ramp, he'll read to me from the New Life.

Once will be sufficient for both of us.

two nice reviews of my Black Static story

Exciting!

From  Dread Central:

"Drew Rhys White gives us Black Sun next, whereby an unidentified narrator guides the reader in eulogy of the last days of a murdered young boy. Building a tone of reverence, White gradually unfurls a sequence of events that see the bookish young Roman chased, harangued and attacked by schoolmates who live in another wing of the housing scheme he and his father occupy. In a masterful turn, however, the author orchestrates a devastating rug-pull that reveals the more twisted minds at play here are not those that were expected -- forging a moral challenge and skewing of perspective that twists a tight knot in the stomach."

From SFRevu Review:

"Black Sun" by Drew Rhys White -*- Our unnamed narrator seems to be a police detective investigating the murder of a boy named Roman, murdered by three youths named Gus, Tony, and Joanie. He is speaking to Roman, talking about the bullying that had preceded the murder, but also about Roman’s drawings that he has seen. They are profoundly disturbing but very talented. Is this the end of the story, our narrator says no and that provides is with the unease that this effective little story evokes."
 

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Orleans 2013

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My father, brother, and niece. These photos are from a second-line parade my sister-in-law and brother took us to. We had my mother-in-law along alsoher dad, my camerado's grandfather, wanted us to go to a second line parade in New Orleans, so we were glad we could fulfill his hope. (My grandfather-in-law is a sun of radiant goodwill, our pope.) 


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Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs sponsor second line parades; two clubs were in this parade, one wearing purple and one wearing yellow. The purple club went by so fast I could take no photos. Above is the best photo I took of the band for the yellow club. Storm clouds threatened and the wind was swift and ominous, catalyzing the parade and making it hard to photograph. 


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I was only able to get this shot because I cut across a parking lot while the parade made a turn. I had my niece and at one point we found ourselves in the direct path of the group following the parade. I sandwiched my niece between my camerado and me; the crowd flowed around us, making us a sandbar in a stream. I thought my sister-in-law would be mad we had drifted into the parade's tail, but she laughed and said, I thought I better come rescue you. 

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People bake and wrap snacks to sell; others vend beverages from wagons with ice chests. According to my sister-in-law stylin is another aspect of a second line; this man styled in steampunk mode.

New Orleans has good art museums, I've enjoyed NOMA's collection before; this time we saw the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and, across the street, the Contemporary Arts Center. The Ogden has a room of Howard Finster, including a peaceable kingdom of sleek, Godzilla-sized cheetahs pulling chariots of  toddlers that in our world would be their snacks. 
The Ogden also had Mardi Gras Indian costumes made for the show, Tremé; my mother-in-law is an interior designer with a Medici idiom, Henry James would hire her to do his summer home, so I did not expect her to be so taken with the Mardi Gras Indians costumes. But she savored them as she savored the interiors of the Garden District house tour we took her on. 

Because she is knowledgeable about decorative arts, fashion, materials, and workmanship, I was proud to show my mother-in-law something that was new to her, and that she enjoyed so much.


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The building that houses the Contemporary Arts Center is beautiful, though its scale is too grand for me. But the exhibits, even when thematically very serious, shared an engaging, playful spirit. For example, below is the interior of a sculpture, The Lion, for Slightly, by Eliza Zeitlin. 

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The Lion, for Slightly is an immense lion of car parts and old wood dedicated to "comrades crushed by automobiles."  The Lion sits in a huge corner window, looking terrifying from the street, and inescapably intriguing for anyone who loves monsters (me).  Inside, The Lion is an earthbound treehouse. You climb to a middle level and upper deck; hanging pipes invite music-making.      

Eliza Zeitlin is part of the Court 13 artists who made Beasts of the Southern Wild; the museum had props from Beasts, along with videos showing how the effects were done. Like Coppola's Dracula, they looked all or mostly in camera, not post. This made me want to see Beasts of the Southern Wild.   
 

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The awesome pig beasts that looked so magnificent in Beasts previews were Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs shot at low angles and wearing monster gear!

Age has not withered my love for monsters.

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Or fairies. With black nylons, glitter, and coat hangers, a friend made these fairy wings for my niece. She is a fan of Abby's Flying Fairy School. I told her Uncle Andrew also likes fairies and trolls. She was like, okay. 

This visit was the first time my niece was walking and talking. She is 2.5, speaks in complete sentences, and says thank you, always. She also knows all fifty states by their shapes, so I taught her the planets, with facts about each one. Among other things, she can tell you that Saturn has rings, Jupiter has the red spot, and Mercury is the smallest.

But we did not discuss Pluto, planet of exile, where the lonely Brontosaurus roams. 


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My brother and sister-in-law are vegan and I am vegetarian, so it is hard to eat out in this meat-loving town with my dad. He reduces animals to vapor with lasers from his eyes and inhales their smoke as Zeus inhales hecatombs.

My sister-in-law stir-fried tempeh, onions, and mushrooms and brought them in a metal bento to Mothers, the famous New Orleans restaurant, so we could eat more than fries and pie. I can usually eat anywhere, but in New Orleans even "rice and beans" is meaty.  

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I liked seeing a Toynbee tile on Canal Street, a gothic postcard from my home, the Quaker City.  I did not know Toynbee tiles were made from the ground bones of dead journalists! 


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Did you?

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

how I won the Liebster Award

Helen nominated me for a Liebster Award, honoring undeserved obscurity among bloggers. This nomination is similar to President Obama's premature Nobel Peace Prize in that I must retroactively earn it. In my case, by answering five questions posed by Helen. Consider my answers five Constitutionally rationalized drone strikes against my competitors! 

1. Assuming you are a reader as well as a writer, name two of your favorite protagonists, one male and one female.   
My favorite characters are Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, whose intelligence, hilariously, is neither noticed nor cultivated by other characters in her book; Lucy Snow in Villette, for her clenched honor, quiet rage and hope; and Mary Poppins, whose occult allegiances are magically invisible to fundamentalists who burn Harry Potter. Middle class without money, Lucy Snowe, Fanny Price, and Mary Poppins embody the paradoxes of petite bourgeois lifeenviable in a global context, yet struggling in their own.

 2. What has been the (or one of the) most rewarding experience related to writing your blog? 
     WINNING THE LIEBSTER AWARD!

3. What is your favorite post in your own blog (or post that makes you proudest)? 
    Be Your Own Gay, A Purloined Letter, Preservationists, and the ones from our hikes.

4. What are some things you do besides blogging?  Home improvement. 

 5. If you had to give an acceptance speech for the Liebster award in front of a live audience, who would you thank and what would you wear?  
At the ceremony for the Liebster Award, Helen, who nominated me, would stand on the steps of the Liebster Institute in a long white gown, hang the Leibster medallion around my neck, beam at the masses, and thank me for saving the Blogosphere. I would thank Helen, and after coyly and cryptically coming out, thank my boyfriend Qui-Gon Jinn becauseI would be wearing Ewan MacGregor in his fully bearded Obi Wan mode, eyes sparkling with beneficence, earthtone bathrobe over linen tunic, faux suede boots, lightsaber, and the boxers Qui-Gon bought me, fairly traded, handmade by Ewoks from their own soft wool.




Monday, January 28, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

black sun in black static

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There's a small town my Methodist ancestors ruled like petty Calvins in their own little Geneva.  They passed curfews, and blue laws, and released their suppressed ids by playing sadistic and macabre practical jokes on neighbors and each other. One forebear propped a corpse in his buggy and asked a tavern keeper to take some refreshment to his friend, who was indisposed. (He was an undertaker). 
 
To this day, the town flies banners that say, Keep Christ in Christmas, viz, we like our public festivities  personal and exclusionary. 

I want a banner that says Keep Thor in Thursday,  


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or, Keep Frigg in Friday.

My friend Dwight and I both love this parochial, quaintly evil town, where we have many happy childhood memories of band concerts and 4th of July parades. The town's cafe/music venue/used record shop is a good place for breakfast. Dwight is ten years older than I am, and as I have no older brother, is content to assume the duties of this office. Friendship is the mighty consolation of this baneful world. At breakfast, in the record shop, Dwight asked if I was sending any stories out.  I said, no. Too busy with changing jobs, and ongoing home improvement ventures.

Did I have anything good enough to send out? he asked.

I have this weird story I'm fond of, I said. "Black Sun."  Have I read it? he asked.

I said, no, it's too depressing.

But it's good?

I think so.  I like it, I said.

Dwight became angry, and harangued me to mail the story. He was the first person I told when it was accepted, by Black Static. Black Static has won the British Fantasy Award! I share the table of contents with Priya Sharma, Lavie Tidhar, Ilan Lerman, Tim Casson, Steve Rasnic Tem, and Ray Cluley.

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Jeff VanderMeer, my Clarion workshop teacher, had asked us to write a story that conveys "the weight of murder." In my story, an inept gangster, a psychotic, and a smoothly competent sociopath crossed paths in a cityscape cut and pasted from Hitchcock and Michael Powell films. 

It didn't come off. When a story doesn't work, the answer is often:

You haven't gone deep enough.  Or, as Andrew Wyeth says Your art goes as far and as deep as your love goes.

I rerouted "Black Sun" into the landscapes of my own childhood, and felt like I was on to something.


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