bcholmes: (meshes in the afternoon)

Many months ago, I was looking over some old family photos with my aunt, Janey. There was a woman I didn’t recognize in a few pictures, and on the back of the photo, she was identified as “Beatrice”. “Who was Beatrice?” I asked Janey.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Oh, wait. Maybe she was Ralph’s first wife?”

“Ralph’s first wife?” I said.

“Yeah,” she said. “We never talk about it.” My family seems to have a lot of stuff that we never talk about.

My father has a brother named Ralph. That’s not who we’re talking about. The Ralph we’re talking about would be my grandfather’s brother, James Ralph Holmes. My grandfather was the youngest of three children. Abbie Estella Holmes was the oldest, but she died at the age of 20, due to complications from pregnancy. Ralph was the middle child, closer in age to Stella. When Ralph came of age in the midst of the great depression, he moved to Detroit to find work. My grandfather, Vidal, ultimately took over the family farm and raised his own children there. Ralph and Vidal both died about a month apart in 1968, shortly before my second birthday.

Beatrice is not, in fact, Ralph’s first wife. I still have no idea who she is. One possibility is that she was a nanny that briefly helped out with child-rearing duties.

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Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: (comics code authority)

Before I got into comics I did a bunch of different art jobs, and illustrating comics is by far the hardest of them. It combines everything: storytelling, anatomy, fashion, design, cars, architecture, etc. It’s relentless in what it asks of you as an artist. And you have to do it faster than any other artistic discipline.

Chip Zdarsky

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: (being dead like me)

I’m having an email correspondence with a genealogist in Ireland. I’m looking to hire her to find records on my Holmes ancestors before they came to Canada. It’s been a slow conversation, with a number of delays, but I’m hoping that something will come of it.

But today we were talking about a particular part of the tree, and while looking at my records for that part of the tree, I realized that I’d failed to transcribe some data.

Here’s the story. I’ve mentioned before that the first of my family to come to Canada are Andrew and Susan (Susannah) Holmes, who emigrated here in 1845. I’ve also mentioned that Andrew died in quarantine at Grosse Île, Quebec. But they brought with them six of their seven children, who spread out and several of those kids end up in Lambton County, where I grew up.

So I’m interested in the one that stayed behind, Mary Ann Holmes, born around 1811. She was the oldest of the seven children and she was already married at the time the family moved to Canada (the second oldest, Margaret Holmes, was also married, but she brought her husband along to Canada with her). Some time before 1861, Mary Ann joined the rest of the family in Canada. Her husband, James Dowler, remained in Ireland. The author of Those Irish Holmes’ writes, “‘Tis said he loved the Emerald Isle, the thrill of its strife, and another woman.”

Mary Ann went to Lambton County and moved in with her brother, John Holmes and his wife, Mary Wilkinson. John and Mary only had one kid, but Mary Ann brought five with her. The youngest of those five might have been born in Canada, if the censuses are to be believed. If so, either Mary Ann was pregnant on the ride over, or James Dowler wasn’t the kid’s father. Or the censuses are wrong. This line of the family doesn’t have it easy. Mary Ann’s daughter, Ann Dowler, died in the London Insane Asylum. Her older brother, Thomas, might have also spent some time there.

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Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: I was just a brain in a jar (brain thoughts)

So here he was without maps or supplies,
A hundred miles from any decent town;
The desert glared into his blood-shot eyes;

The silence roared displeasure: looking down,
He saw the shadow of a small groundhog,
And an audience surrounding him, agog.

— with apologies to W.H. Auden

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: lifeclocks are a lie!  Carousel is a lie!  There is no renewal! (old)

Shortly after WisCon, I decided that I wanted to be able to work with my Dreamwidth journal on my iPhone. An iOS app seemed like a natural thing that should exist in the world and, conveniently, I know how to make one.

Sadly, I was quickly impeded by the state of the existing API. The API was designed in another age: back before Rest/JSON, and at a time when people expected “LJ/DW clients” to be desktop apps that’d download all your entries for off-line reading. There are some glaring omissions from the API (and it’s certainly… old-timey).

But, hey, it’s open source, no? I mean, I suppose I could send them a pull request. True, I don’t really know Perl and find that LAMP development is about five times harder than it should be. But, hey, minor stuff.

Over the summer, I started talking to some of the folks at Dreamwidth about this, and that started me into conversations about a new Rest/JSON API and whatnot. But progress on that front has been slow. Which I get. They have their own priorities, and some weirdo from the Internet is pestering them with, “hey, if you added an X I could make you a Y.” I just think it’s a Y that’s interesting.

A few days ago, I was hit with another urge to work on the Dreamwidth iOS app, and I built out a quick app that implements some of the basic functions. I can login, see my recent entries, view some basic profile information, and post a simple entry. That’s not nothing.

But I’m still stuck with those API limitations that seem to prevent me from really making this thing useful. Le sigh.

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

For the last few years, I’ve been saying that I feel like it’s been a bad year for film. This year, that trend continues, and I feel like I haven’t seen very many films. I missed the festival again, so that takes away yet another outlet. Many of the films I liked this year were released in theatres in late 2015, and one that made my “top 5” list is actually a 2013 film. But I’m into talking about movies that I’ve seen in 2016, and the release date isn’t as important to me.

This year, few films really stand out as films I will think about and love forever. But if I had to pick a top five, they’d be these ones.

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bcholmes: (meshes in the afternoon)

I’ve written, before, about the booklet I had as a teenager: Those Irish Holmes’, by F. M. Emerson Holmes. The booklet was a family tree of all the descendants of Andrew and Susan (Susannah) Holmes, who came to Canada from Cavan County, Ireland, in 1845.

A few weeks ago, I got hit with a bit of a genealogy bug after letting it sit for a while and I started finishing up my revision to that booklet. Basically, I’ve tracked down almost all of the original names in the book and updated them with the latest information. Unsurprisingly, in the 35 years since the book was first published a large number of the people documented have since died, including F. M. Emerson himself.

Newer generations are harder to find the details about. Sites like Ancestry don’t share details on anyone marked as still living although you can occasionally find a name in the most recent census (the Canadian 1921 census is the most recent census that’s publicly-available).

As an aside: I feel like there’s been an up-tick in quality on how people have been using Ancestry. Just a few years ago, it felt like a bit of a slog to pick and choose the good quality records from other people’s trees; recently, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much good-quality information people have been adding. One area that’s really been helpful is in regards to photos. When I started adding photos to my family tree a few years ago, it seemed at the time like photos were rare. Now I’m fascinated by the number of distant family members I find with really good-quality photos attached to them.

Also in the last few days, I’ve learned a few more details about a bit of a family mystery.

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Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: I was just a brain in a jar (brain thoughts)

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: I was just a brain in a jar (brain thoughts)

It took 16 years, but the Gilmore Girls writers have at last braved a big truth that needed telling: Rory Gilmore is a terrible, terrible human.

Finally, the reluctant poster child of white privilege — the girl who had everything handed to her on a shiny golden platter — was dealt a dilemma consuming enough to bring her universe crashing down.

The real world.

Rory’s belated quarter-life crisis is strangely satisfying to watch. She was never equipped for life after college. Throughout the series, her doting family and medicated townsfolk hailed her as an infallible angel, praising her smallest achievements.

She coasted through young adult life, her expensive education, car and rent all paid for, never once flipping burgers or folding clothes like the rest of us did.

But despite a frustrating lack of maturity, Rory was always presented in a positive light, assumed by all to achieve great things.

“Let’s face it, Rory Gilmore is a terrible person”

Gilmore Girls always made me hyper-aware of the incredible wealth and privilege of the Gilmore family.

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: I was just a brain in a jar (brain thoughts)

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: shadows moving faster than the eye (magic shadows)

The trailer is really pretty.

I’m still pretty sure I’m not going to see the movie because of the whitewashing. If not for that, this movie has a lot of stuff that I’d be all over: amazing aesthetic, an interesting vision of future technology, a great female lead. I think it would have been exactly the kind of movie that’d work for me. But the studio ruined it with whitewashing. And I’m a bit sad about that.

Others have pointed out that the trailer is hella appropriative: “The ratio of cool-Japanese-stuff to Japanese people in the trailer is like 2000:1. There is nothing easier for Hollywood to do than disinclude the Asian faces, nothing.”.

The trailer for Valerian looks visually impressive, but I fully expect it to be narratively simplistic (which is sort of what I think of The Fifth Element: I really wanted the film to be deeper than it was).

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: I’m covered in bees! (bee sea)

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
Or, y’know, vote for Trump.
I’m sure that’ll work out.

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: (sawing for teens)

What am I watching, lately?

Penny Dreadful

Since the cancellation of Hannibal, Penny Dreadful has been my favourite show. Now it’s ended, too, and I am living in a universe made out of sad.

What’s it about? A group of characters in the 1890s — some are recognizable characters
from Victorian (and pre-Victorian) fiction, including Dr. Frankenstein and Dorian Gray,
and others are unique creations, such as Vanessa Ives and Mr. Lyle — have bonded together to fight monsters. Not post-modern, broody monsters, but classic Victorian “separated from God”-style evil monsters. The first season is about vampires, and the second season is about witches, and then the third season returns to vampires. But there are some devils and werewolves and reanimated creatures thrown in along the way. There’s rather a lot of blood and rather a lot of sex, but I’m okay with that.

The show has a number of qualities that appeal to me. It’s dark, and intense. It has a writing style that I just find to be sublime. At times, I think I love it just because I enjoy watching
Vanessa Ives’ intense expressions. One of the things I particularly love is the show’s
willingness to take extended amounts of time just building a particular feel.

There’s a sequence at the end of the first episode of the second season that illustrates
this well. Vanessa, who is essentially the show’s long-suffering hero, is praying. The show
touches on religion frequently, and Vanessa’s faith is an important element of her
character: it’s really the only thing that gives her succour. But the scene cross-cuts
between Vanessa, and the second season’s primary villain, a satanic witch who is similarly
engaged in incantations. The two scenes cut back and forth, rising in intensity. It goes
on for minutes, an amazingly long time to take for a story beat that does absolutely
nothing to advance the plot. But it sets the mood. It’s just about setting the mood.

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Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

In one of the early years that I attended WisCon — I want to say that this is something like 2003 — I proposed a panel: Trans Feminism. Aaron L. had volunteered to moderate, but the panel almost didn’t make it through the panel vetting process. Basically, not enough WisCon attendees expressed interest in the panel. I think the panel was saved fairly late in the process by Debbie, who agreed to be a panelist.

For a few years after that, I kind of thought to myself: “okay, there’s room for exactly this much transness at WisCon.” I thought, y’know, maybe a trans panel every few years. Maybe panels about speculative treatments of gender could include a token trans person. This much, I thought, but it’s unreasonable to expect more.

This past WisCon, I was thinking about the trans and genderqueer contingent. I was picking and choosing which of the several T/GQ panels I was gonna attend. And at times, I hung out in the trans and genderqueer safer space, now in its second year. And I think, “huh. I had such a meagre vision about what trans inclusiveness could look like at a place like WisCon.” I remember, for example, having thinky thoughts about a Fat is not the Enemy panel at WisCon in 2008: the thing I thought, then, was maybe the message of “love your body the way it is” sounds a bit suspect to my trans ears, but that thought was immediately followed with, “it’s a derailment (or at the very least, uninteresting to most attendees) to throw transness into this unrelated panel…”

Part of the way WisCon has changed over the years is that there’s just more trans folk at the con. There’s a trans/genderqueer posse. And more folk means that more trans/genderqueer content gets on the programming schedule. More consideration goes in to making the space welcoming. When the trans/genderqueer safer space was proposed, the con ran with it in a way that was amazing.

These changes are good. I like them; I support them; I’m glad for them. But a remaining problem is me. I think that I really need to own the idea of raising my expectations.

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: (comics code authority)

I’m continuing to pour a lot of my creative energy into comics. I’ve had a few things going on in that world.

Toronto Comics Volume 3 - smallFirst up, I’ve taken part in the third volume of Toronto Comics (the book seems to have dropped the “Anthology” part of the name). I wrote a story this year — “Lofty Aspirations” — but didn’t draw it. Instead, it was illustrated by Xan Grey, an amazingly talented artist, who’s been in the last two anthologies.

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Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: (ndp)

It’s a pity that Stephen Lewis is so old; he’d be a great new leader of the party. I’m not a big fan of his wife’s transphobia, though.

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

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BC Holmes

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