… or at least it is here in D.C., although happily it’s not also freezing, so hey small blessings. How y’all been?
I’m at Classical WETA today, holding down the fort by myself as usual. I don’t know about y’all, but I kinda love working by myself. The WETA-TV control-room crew is here, of course, but they’re on the other side of my floor and like me they spend most of their time behind a soundproof, magnetically sealed airlock door and thick plate glass that silences the outside world. We’re like people in different wings of a space station, theoretically working together but pretty much isolated from one another unless we happen to collide on the way to the canteen.
This mug is completely illegal, btw. Not supposed to be drinking from an open container near the boards. I am a scofflaw, and I am heartily ashamed.
The Classical WETA studio is where I get a reasonable amount of writing done. The music is conducive, especially the larger works, and already today I’ve played all of the Four Seasons plus Pictures at an Exhibition, both of which broke the 40-minute mark in the performances we had programmed today. Now I’m a few minutes into a complete Tchaikovsky 5, and since I’m trying to wean myself off Facebook and (to a lesser extent) Twitter, I’m doing what I increasingly do: spending those minutes writing.
Or at least opening a page and seeing what happens. That’s how last week’s half-fictional installment from the Little River Diaries came about. I know it’s rough around the edges, because it was kind of a stream-of-consciousness exercise — and like I said, half-fictional, though many of the places and characters, and even some of the events, are quite real, because hey it’s South Carolina down there and South Carolina is wiiiiiiiiiiild. (Interestingly Tattooed Kevin, who by the way is a Trump supporter and a retired music producer, absolutely did drink apple-flavored moonshine while he cut my hair.) Anyway, I hope you liked.
Today, I’m putting this on the page just to check in with y’all and say hey, but I’m going to send this out quick and go back to my latest indulgence, which is a re-read of the endlessly wonderful Chronicles of Prydain. I zoomed through Lloyd Alexander’s high-fantasy YA series when I was a kid, and I’ve re-read them at least once as an adult. And not long ago I had a brief Twitter exchange about them with Anthony Rapp, who’d posted about re-reading the series and falling in love all over again with the Princess Eilonwy, whose brisk feminism and spark-plug personality must have been a hell of a tonic for little girls (and not a few little gays) everywhere. (Remember, these books came out starting in the early ‘60s!) After that inspiring reminder, I’m tearing through them all over again, reveling in not just Eilonwy’s sass but in all the dumb extraness of Fflewddur Fflam the boastful bard, the heartwarming loyalty of Gurgi the chickenshit but somehow brave half-wildling, and of course the clueless marvelousness of Taran the heroic Assistant Pigkeeper, full of appetite and potential and foolishness and impatience. He’s a headstrong greenhorn who’ll grow as the books go on to become Taran Wanderer, one of high fantasy’s noblest and most soulful characters, an eternal striver in whom a much younger Trey Graham once saw, or at least wanted to see, a whole lot of himself.
So if you’re looking for a swift-moving and eminently satisfying escape, you’re invited to discover or rediscover Prydain with me. I’m in the early chapters of The Black Cauldron, where things are getting grim with the Huntsmen of Annuvin, and where the a sense is growing that one of the story’s valiant band may not make it home.
Love and swordfights,