Kage Baker: my perpetual lead-in, topic and inspiration, but not one that leads automatically or easily into many areas. She doesn’t guide one instantly into something like Oxygen: Why It’s Still Poisonous! Or How Do New Islands In Indonesia Affect the Sunda Plain? Or Just In Time For Lent, 10 New Recipes for Lamprey!
That last one was one of Kage’s favourite examples of DIY titles from Elizabethan England. As it happens, there was a large and healthy publishing industry by mid-16th century, and a lot of the new titles were aimed at the recently evolved middle-class housewife. That one about the lampreys is a (rough) translation of an actual pamphlet … and she was willing to bet there were similar masterpieces produced all the way back to cuneiform.
However, Kage’s name itself does not lead so easily into many topics. Time travel. Women in science fiction. Redheads, left-handers, creativity on the autistic spectrum; all those are possible if I want to get really personal. And from time to time, I have.
But today, on this dim, quiet and quickly cooling Sunday afternoon, my brain and my funds of energy are alike empty and echoing. I managed to get two socks that matched this morning, and realized as I pulled them on that my willpower had peaked for the day. I know I have blog and story ideas; but I can only see them faintly, obscured by some mental and obviously low-quality isinglass.
Iisinglass, Dear Readers, as you may or may not know, is traditionally made from the swim bladders of various fish – especially catfish, if you want nice big pieces of it. Since it was often used for window panes in things like roll-down windows on sports cars and fringed surreys, big fish yield better bladders. If you’re using it as a clarifying agent in your ale – Guiness does – then any old scrap will do … however, as a focus for cerebration, it sucks.
Checking my various favourite timelines (also a trick Kage often employed) I see that today is the anniversary of the Nika Riots – which figure prominently in my story “Pareidolia”, which comes out next month, Huzzah! It’s also the wedding anniversary of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, when that gentleman founded the Tudor dynasty on that lady: culminating in the reign of Elizabeth 1st, Gloriana: Live Forever, Great Queen! Henry Morgan captured Panama; James Cooke discovered the Hawaiian Islands (they were both sorry later). The Bentley Motor Company was founded.
There are, of course, simply scads of historical war events on this day, which grow thicker and thicker as you approach the 21st Century. They are all balanced against a pitiful few visitations of the angels of our better natures – like the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King, officially celebrated nationwide for the first time on this date in 1993.
But aside from these peculiar bits of facts that leap into my barely-turning mind, there is nothing at all moving in the halls of my cerebral cortex. The bridge of my corpus callosum is empty of idlers and fishermen. Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas are like empty bars, dust sparkling faintly in the breath from a slow, slow overhead fan while the lone barmen polish glasses.
It’s dead in this town, Dear Readers.
But, hey, it’s late in the afternoon on a Sunday. The liveliest sound in my neighborhood is the primate hoot-panting chorus from the football fans – the Seahawks clobbered the Greenbay Packers a little earlier, and now the Patriots are decimating the Colts. All else is sleepy digestion and outright snoring; the cats are purring, and Harry is making a lovely little noise like water droplets chiming into a fountain. And all thought of Kage is leading me to is dreamy quiet and the urge to re-read something she wrote.
Excitement tomorrow. Rest today.