Saturday, February 24, 2007

Being Vocal/Fashion Statement

Being Vocal

On Friday night I attended one of the two open mics in this area, both of which I recently discovered. (The other one is next Friday night.) I brought my digital recorder along and left it on in the middle of the audience, where I'd been sitting when not on stage.

I opened with extemporaneous a cappella singing, continued with true-life storytelling, and ended with a poem. The storytelling, about my close encounter with a moose, is excerpted and lightly edited from this journal entry.


My performance at the open mic (15 minutes, about 20 meg) is here.

Fashion Statement

I've always wondered why in heck the Bible contains this prohibition:
"Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together." -- Deuteronomy 22:11

Now, thanks to research I've been doing for Book #5, I think I know....

I've been reading up on linen. Really, it was for just one scene, enough for me to crank in a little bit of detail in my world-building. And I mean a little bit -- two, maybe three sentences worth, for which I've spent a far greater time trolling the Web, downloading and reading documents. Just so I can try to get it right.

Mary tells me the technical term for this is "armwave-armwave."

Or, as Naomi Epel quotes from Gabriel Garcia Marquez in her book The Observation Deck: "If you say that there are elephants flying in the sky, people are not going to believe you. But if you say that there are four hundred and twenty-five elephants in the sky, people probably will believe you."

I would have used a different analogy, myself. If someone pulled me aside and said there were 425 elephants in the sky, I'd wonder what drug(s) (s)he was on. On the other hand, I'd probably look up before I could stop myself.

Instead of just talking about linen when my protagonist is in the old Textile Guild section of town, I want to make sure the flax has already been planted because it should be by this time. With carrots growing in-between the rows to keep the weeds down. Things like that. I could talk about retting and scutching and all the rest of it, but those activities would have already been done -- though hands would still look pretty callused from pulling stalks through a heckling comb. And I've got a little girl running around with bits of splintery shiv in her hair.

So, what does all this have to do with Deuteronomy?

According to Die Deutschen Versicherer (German insurers), "Flax is sensitive to contamination by dust, dirt, fats/oils and rust as well as oil-containing goods, such as oil-bearing seeds/fruits, copra, raw wool etc., since oil-impregnated fibers promote self-heating/cargo fire."

Linen comes from flax. Flax contamination from raw wool (among other things) can lead to cargo fires.

Not only is flax highly combustible, but it's also highly susceptible to humidity. Not only does it absorb oxygen (readily enough so that a person can suffocate in an unventilated room), but too much oxygen can give it fuel to burn.

"Spontaneous combustion may occur as a result of exposure to moisture, animal and vegetable fats/oils, oil-bearing seeds/fruits, copra and raw wool. As a result of the very well developed oxygen-rich lumen of the flax fiber and the oxygen supply contained in the capillary cavity system, smoldering fires inside the bales often last for weeks."

Spontaneous combustion? I can see it now: Some ancient dude struts on down in a fancy outfit of interwoven linen and wool and Zap! Talk about divine retribution for a fashion faux-pas.

And we thought Mr. Blackwell was tough.


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