Re: Your Faves
I believe in your faves. Your faves have always come through for you, and I have every reason to believe they will continue to do so. Your faves have a long record of excellent performance.
I cannot in good conscience maintain that your faves could never.
Furthermore, as a proponent of non-violent discourse, I promise never to strike, hit, main, slaughter, slay, or otherwise harm your faves, and denounce in the strongest possible terms any who would.
Every fave deserves a chance to live, and to thrive.
The artist proof cards (the first four) are available for sale:
Thanks for viewing!
Oh hey, look, incredibly charming illustrations of my favorite show on TV right now.
"On Eating The 100% Perfect Sandwich One Beautiful April Morning," a very early SEIBEI tee, is as niche as it fucking gets. The title is based on "On Meeting The 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning," a short story by Haruki Murakami that I thought was super adorable until one of my favorite professors in college told me that the whole thing is a super elaborate pickup line.
ANYWAY! I was a Japanese Lit major in college, first drawn in by the weird world of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle that my uncle gave to me in high school, with ambitions of being a professor and a translator (I realized I had more fun as a t-shirt maker while looking into grad school applications).
The coolest part about this is that my friend Paul managed to give one of these tees to Murakami himself while he was a guest lecturer at Paul’s school. If I remember correctly, Murakami laughed and said it was the dumbest t-shirt he’d ever seen. That is probably my greatest achievement as a t-shirt designer.
IT’S ME, I DID THAT. And just as it was David’s greatest achievement as a t-shirt designer, it was my greatest achievement as a graduate student.
The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.
This is my favorite title I’ve come up with in quite a while.
Source: SoundCloud / Paul T Starr
Podkayne of Mars
A couple of days ago I finished my reread of Robert Heinlein’s Podkayne of Mars.
This was one of the last of Heinlein’s juvenile books, written several years after the mid-late ’50s during which he wrote almost nothing but. A friend of mine (hi, Noah), upon hearing of my abiding affection for the Heinlein juvies, asked if I’d read Podkayne, and while the answer was yes, it had probably been two decades (fuck!) since then, so I went ahead and queued it up for a reread.
In general, I tend to have much higher tolerance for Heinlein’s quirks than most do. Podkayne I would describe as being only medium Heinleiny. For one, its protagonist is a girl, making it one of a very few juvies, perhaps even the only one, with that attribute.
Its narrator and main character is 16-year-old Podkayne “Poddy” Fries, human girl born and raised on Mars. Poddy wants to be a space captain, and a good portion of the novel concerns the particulars of her first space voyage, a multi-planet cruise aboard a luxury space cruise ship.
What I found most interesting as the book progressed is the extent to which the book splits the traditional Heinleinian Superman into two characters. Podkayne’s younger brother Clarke is the smart one: technically adept, impatient with bureaucracy, entrepreneurial (and good at it), deeply resentful of any obstacles to his master plans, almost sociopathic in his lack of concern for the emotions of others, and an IQ of 160.
The other half of the Superman comes in the form of Poddy herself, who while prone to sentimentality and having an IQ of “only” 145, appears to be in perfect control of her emotions and affect at all times. She is perfectly willing to play the wide-eyed ingenue to inspire the fatherly indulgence of the space liner captain, which gets her tours of the ship’s facilities that are mostly off-limits to passengers, and she mentions more than once in the narrative how it’s smart for a girl to pretend to know less than she really does about a subject in order to flatter men, whose poor egos need constant tending.
There are all sorts of problems with this, but I’m most bothered by the way it implicitly holds both women and men in terrible contempt, suggesting that men are too stupid to take women seriously, and that a smart woman uses this to her advantage. Poddy has great ambitions, but seems to believe they need to be moderated behind a curtain of performed femininity, and moreover that this performance does not represent an undue burden.
It’s hard not to read Poddy Fries as a 16-year-old girl as Heinlein thought one should act. Smart, but smart enough not to outshine the men around her. Ambitious, but planning to have a family when the time is right. Attractive, but not obsessed with shallow good looks. And so on.
What makes Heinlein so endlessly frustrating is that there are passages that almost make all this eyerolling worthwhile, like this one from her Uncle Tom (who functions as the author’s mouthpiece), explaining to her why the tiresome political hoops he’s having to jump through are still important:
"Politics is not evil; politics is the human race’s most magnificent achievement. When politics is good, it’s wonderful… and when politics is bad—well, it’s still pretty good. [It’s] just a name for the way we get things done… without fighting. We dicker and compromise and everybody thinks he has received a raw deal, but somehow after a tedious amount of talk we come up with some jury-rigged way to do it without getting anybody’s head bashed in. That’s politics. The only other way to settle a dispute is by bashing a few heads in… and that is what happens when one or both sides is no longer willing to dicker. That’s why I say politics is good even when it is bad… because the only alternative is force—and somebody gets hurt."
Yeah, it’s author-mouthpiece-y, but it’s also right on the money.
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction dismisses Podkayne of Mars as one of Heinlein’s “inferior juveniles,” and I’m hard-pressed to disagree. It lacks the propulsive plot of his best work, and his authorial quirks (to put them mildly) are thrown into unflattering relief when given implausible voice via the inner monologues of a 16-year-old-girl. Oh, and there’s this bit right at the end:
"What law?" he said. "There isn’t any law here. And you aren’t being logical, Pod. Anything that is right for a group to do is right for one person to do." […] There must be a flaw in that, since I’ve always been taught that it is wrong to take the law in your own hands. But I can’t find the flaw and it sounds axiomatic, self-evident. Switch it around. If something is wrong for one person to do, can it possibly be made right by having a lot of people (a government) agree to do it together? Even unanimously? If a thing is wrong, it is wrong—and vox populi can’t change it.
This is a great distillation of why Heinlein is so revered in certain libertarian circles, but it’s just the sort of intellectualization that makes a hand-wringing lefty like me sigh a long-suffering “but it’s complicated.” But then a very few pages later, in a scene that was originally supposed to involve Poddy’s death (!):
Her little recorder was still in her purse, and part of the tape could be read. Doesn’t mean much, though; she doesn’t tell what she did, she was babbling, sort of:
"…very dark where I’m going. No man is an island complete in himself. Remember that, Clarkie. Oh, I’m sorry I fubbed it but remember that; it’s important. They all have to be cuddled sometimes. My shoulder—Saint Podkayne! Saint Podkayne, are you listening? UnkaTom, Mother, Daddy—is anybody listening? Do listen, please, because this is important. I love—"
It cuts off there. So we don’t know whom she loved.
Which is powerful stuff, and gestures (albeit vaguely) toward a moderation of the standard Heinleinian narrative of rugged individualism.
Anyway, my favorite Heinlein juvie remains The Rolling Stones, but rereading Podkayne was certainly interesting.
Here’s the story I wrote for Yuletide. It’s a little rough, but I think it turned out okay.
It’s about a fairy lady and a cyborg lady who punch things and go on dates.