Erudite Waffles (1/21/23)
Hello from sunny Brooklyn, where Penn and I are spending the weekend with Lexi being decadent and sexy queers. I’ll probably just post a vacation update in next week’s newsletter, because I like being a decadent and sexy queer. This one, meanwhile, will be brief because it’s been
What I’m Up To
an absolute clusterfuck of a week, frankly, though that’s mostly because we rearranged an entire floor of the house to change my office space and give Penn some studio space because he’s started playing with noise music. That already screwed up my posting of last week’s Last War in Albion, which is a real pity because it’s one of my absolute favorite posts from Book Three.
But yeah, I basically didn’t get to start work work until Tuesday, which led to some alarmed looks at the schedule and how much Last War in Albion I could realistically write this month. Thankfully that “How to Be an Egg in the Age of Lilith Fair” project came through when I needed it, and looks like it’ll be good for about three Patreon posts this month—the annotations, as of Thursday morning when I’m locking this in so I can queue it, are at 4600 words with seven more songs to write about, so look for that on Patreon next week or so. We’ll see—I might take the annotations and then take one more swing at the playlist, because I feel like I’m underrepresenting the cultural object itself.
In Britain a Prophecy news, Penn just sent a four page scene to Nechama. Let’s see if I have anything I can run as a preview of that. Yeah, here, this is utterly spoiler-free and just a nice pair of Taz images.
I still have to break down the last seven pages of issue seven, but that wasn’t this week, just like a ton of newsletter isn’t going to be this week. In fact, all I’ve really got is
Thoughts on Davies’ upcoming tenure as showrunner? Do you think he’s given Moffat a call?
At this point in my life and career I know enough people on the periphery of Doctor Who production that I hear things, and so I’m just gonna blanket decline to speculate on rumors.
But in the general case, I expect the show will be really good under Davies. It certainly was the first time. I’m excited to come back to Davies in my 40s and trans.
Yeah, I have concerns about the lack of forward motion. Every year the bulk of Doctor Who remains under the control of Wilderness Years pro-fandom is broadly speaking bad for it—and I apply that judgment to the licenses, the show, everything. But also, the Chibnall era was clearly also bad for it, and in a much more acute crisis sort of way. I’m confident in Davies’s ability to right the ship and deliver a hit, which is almost certainly more important right now.
But look, the guy who just did It’s a Sin wants to come write Doctor Who because he thinks he has some good, new ideas for it. I’m not fuckin’ complaining, y’know? Like, at the end of the day there’s not really anyone you could tell me was doing it where I’d be more confident that it’ll be good than I am with Davies. That’s gotta count for a lot.
Having worked on comics for a couple of years, how does it compare to working in criticism?
They’re very different, which was kind of the point. Like, at the risk of a horrifyingly egotistical statement, I really don’t think I have anything left to prove in criticism. And I’m not the sort of person who can sit still and plow my golden rut, so it’s been time to begin transitioning my career in a new direction.
Comics definitely proved a relatively sensible way into writing fiction, though. There’s a lot of problem solving—it’s a medium that will absolutely murder you if you don’t know what a page or panel is doing, so you have to keep that meta-perspective in place. Or at least I do; this is probably also in part an explanation of why Kieron is my most obvious comp in the medium. But you can’t solve those problems with a critical framework in and of itself either—it’s a different set of skills, even if a criticism background helps in understanding the problem you’re solving.
Broadly, every day I’m working on fiction projects is a day my job is hard, and that’s largely a relief and what I want out of it right now. And I expect I probably have a solid few decades of being able to keep fiction hard for me even as I get better at it.
What was an unexpected/funny challenge living in a polycule? What has been an unexpected benefit?
I wouldn’t say any of the challenges have been especially unexpected. It’s hard in the way you’d expect it to be hard—all the challenges of cohabitating with people multiplied, with complexities growing exponentially because of the interpersonal relationships involved. Scheduling can be nightmarish. And it’s been tragically short on sex comedy hijinks that qualify as great comedy.
The biggest unexpected benefit is the way in which it makes conceiving of family and relationships beyond the traditional structures. I’m not a relationship anarchist per se—that would be a challenge given the depth and particularities of my relationship with Penn—but there is just a degree to which you just loosen up about the exact shapes of relationships in a polycule.
One thing I love about the rollout of any Seeming release is your effusive, not-even-attempting-to-be-unclouded-by-friendship writeups, but since “Where Were You” was just a single it seems like you’ve limited your involvement to lobbying hard for it in the People’s Pop Poll. With that in mind, and if you’re at all inclined: feel free to use this ask as a pretext for a mini-one-of-those.
I mean, it was my “The Part Where She Leaves You With a Song” for New Year’s. But sure. Obviously the thing that first presents itself is the song’s mad ambition. It’s big, sprawling, full of references, has no real verse/chorus structure, Alex’s usual ambition with rhymes, and just a staggering number of moving parts—it’s a lot, but it coalesces into something remarkably catchy and affecting. And so many good bits. “Half of them turned to fascists while the other half died.” “Flex a hand around the throats of Bush, Thatcher, Musk, bastards all.” Everything with the Angel of History. “All our problems going small.” “Take yourself back to fourteen.”
I dunno. It’s a giant post-industrial rap banger about the way in which history and memory and time are dehumanizing forces. Obviously I love it and it’s extremely my jam, and you should probably grab it on Bandcamp.
If you could have any famous person living or dead record a N:AB audiobook, who would you choose?
The Part Where She Leaves You With a Song
Let’s see. Given what I’m writing about at the moment, I suppose it should be something from the 90s singer-songwriter era, so let’s do this live clip from the Lilith Fair itself, in which the Indigo Girls, Jewel, and Sarah McLachlan do a performance of the Scottish folk song “The Water is Wide,” popularized by Pete Seeger in 1958.
See you all next week.