[hxx] [story] Squirrel-Fishing

Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:29 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
For A.B.
Prompt: "Shuos pranks."

with apologies to the black squirrels of Stanford University campus

Jedao and Ruo had set up shop at the edge of one of the campus gardens, the one with the carp pond and the carefully maintained trees. Rumor had it that some of the carp were, in addition to being over a hundred years old, outfitted with surveillance gear. Like most Shuos cadets, Jedao and Ruo would, if questioned, laugh off the rumors while secretly believing in them wholeheartedly--at least the bit about surveillance gear. Jedao had argued that the best place to hide what they were doing was in plain sight. After all, who would be so daft as to run a prank right next to surveillance?

"Lovely day, isn't it?" Ruo said brightly.

Jedao winced. "Not so loud," he said. His head was still pounding after last night's excesses, and the sunlight wasn't helping. Why did he keep letting Ruo talk him into things? It wasn't just that Ruo was really good in bed. He had this way of making incredibly risky things sound fun. Going out drinking? In itself, not that bad. Playing a drinking game with unlabeled bottles of possibly-alcohol-possibly-something-else stolen from Security's hoard of contraband? Risky. Some of those hallucinations had been to die for, though, especially when he started seeing giant robots in the shape of geese.

Fortunately, this latest idea wasn't that risky. Probably. Besides, of the many things that the other cadets had accused Jedao of, low risk tolerance wasn't one of them.

"Not my fault you can't hold your drink," Ruo said, even more brightly.

"I'm going to get you one of these days," Jedao muttered.

Ruo's grin flashed in his dark brown face. "More like you'll lose the latest bet and--" He started describing what he'd do to Jedao in ear-burning detail.

At last one of the other first-years, puzzled by what Jedao and Ruo were doing by the carp pond with a pair of fishing poles, approached. Jedao recognized them: Meurran, who was good at fixing guns despite their terrible aim, and who had a glorious head of wildly curling hair. "Security's not going to approve of you poaching the carp," Meurran said.

"Oh, this isn't for the carp," Ruo said. He flicked his fishing pole, and the line with its enticing nut snaked out toward one of the trees.

Meurran gave Ruo a funny look. "Ruo," they said, "the fish are in the opposite direction."

"Please," Jedao said, "who cares about the fish? No one has anything to fear from the fish. That's just nonsense."

"All right," Meurran said, sounding distinctly unimpressed, "then what?"

Come on, Jedao thought, the nut is right there...

As if on cue, a black squirrel darted down from the tree, then made for the nut.

Ruo tugged the nut just out of reach.

The black squirrel looked around, then headed for the nut again.

"Oh, isn't that adorable?" Meurran said.

"Don't be fooled!" Ruo said as he guided the squirrel in a figure-eight through the grass. "Why would the commandant be so stupid as to rely on carp, which can't even leave their pond?"

Meurran glanced involuntarily at the pond, where two enormous carp were lazily circling near the surface, as if the carp, in fact, had a habit of oozing out onto the land and spying on lazy cadets. "You're saying the squirrels--?"

Ruo continued to cause the squirrel to chase after the nut. "It makes sense, doesn't it? Everyone thinks the black squirrels are the cutest. They're even featured in the recruitment literature. Damnably clever piece of social engineering if you ask me."

Meurran was starting to look persuaded in spite of themselves.

Meanwhile, as Ruo made his case, Jedao leaned back and studied the squirrel with a frown. The local population of black squirrels was mostly tame to begin with and had proven to be easy to train with the aid of treats. (Ruo had made Jedao do most of this, "because you're the farm boy.") But while Ruo and Meurran argued about squirrel population dynamics, Jedao caught a slight flash from behind the squirrel's eyes--almost like that of a camera?

He opened his mouth to interrupt.

The squirrel made an odd convulsing motion, and the light flashed again, this time directly into Jedao's eyes.

Jedao closed his mouth, and kept his thoughts to himself.
[personal profile] larryhammer
As usual, three links make a post:

This is What Happens When You Teach an AI to Name Guinea Pigs. (via)

In Japan, robot battles often take place in small sumo rings and are incredibly fast -- these videos are real-time. (via)

Woodswimmer: stop-motion animation of successive cross-sections of wood. "There's a lot going on inside wood." (via)

---L.

Subject quote from 'Pogo," Walt Kelly.

fountain pens!

Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:38 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
I did an essay for Tor.com, The Beauty of Physical Writing, on fountain pens! There's a photo of some of my fountain pens over there.

From left to right, for the curious: Waterman 52V, Webster Four-Star, Scriptorium Pens Master Scrivener in Red Stardust, Conway Stewart Churchill in Red Stardust, Aurora 75th Anniversary, Nakaya Naka-ai in aka-tamenuri, Wahl-Eversharp Doric in Kashmir with #3 adjustable nib, and Pilot Vanishing Point Twilight.

Meanwhile, I swear I am writing flash fic right now. This caffeine is taking an unholy amount of time to kick in...

All the cool kids are playing Bingo

Jun. 22nd, 2017 02:11 pm
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
on twitter & FB...but I'd rather do it here.

I made this card at
http://myfreebingocards.com
Then I download others' cards, use a photo editor to check off shared interests, and repost.

Jesse the Kingo card

Jesse the Kingo card described )

(no subject)

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:40 am
[personal profile] telophase
Well, I work about two miles away from this zoo, so I could go and be disdained by this giraffe calf in person.

Theoretically. The air is about the temperature of boiling right now and the idea of actually setting foot on zoo grounds is not that tempting, really, even with the possibility of being personally disdained.

r/Fantasy AMA

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:00 am

Owww.

Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:20 am
[personal profile] oracne
No gym last night, no softball tonight - my thigh hurts, even at rest, which generally indicates a muscle strain. It hurt enough to wake me this morning. But how did I do it? How? Unless I strained something while walking funny due to the lower back/glute strain? (which is better, BTW) I took another dose of naproxen and wrapped it in my brace, which helped last time I had a thigh issue, which incidentally lasted quite a while and annoyed me very much.

*throws up hands*

I started reading The Hanging Tree yesterday and I'm more than half done already, so that's something. It feels great to be reading a book I can't wait to return to.
[personal profile] rydra_wong
The Guardian: Millions of mysterious 'sea pickles' swamp US west coast

“One of the things we are figuring out is have these guys been off the coast and we haven’t seen them? Are they moving inshore for a different reason?” said Sorensen.

YES AND I THINK WE KNOW WHAT THAT IS. Let me know when they reach Washington.

They're known as the "unicorn of the sea", apparently, so should clearly be claimed as a symbolic animal by you (glowing) asexual people out there.

yes I know it's not the same kind of asexual okay

ETA: Wikipedia just provided me with this beautiful quote:

"I have just watched the moon set in all her glory, and looked at those lesser moons, the beautiful Pyrosoma, shining like white-hot cylinders in the water" (T.H. Huxley, 1849).

[personal profile] sabotabby is focused

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:01 am
[personal profile] rydra_wong posting in [community profile] metaquotes
Possums and communism are basically my whole life.


Context is locked; QWP.

(no subject)

Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:41 am
[personal profile] jhameia
Have stayed at completely different places in the last three days: Corral Creek Cabins was in the mountains right by Kern River, then Sequoia Riverfront Cabins was a weird place which WAS right by a river, not across the road from one, and its front desk was a general store about a mile away, and now in a beachfront resort in San Simeon. My brother has been driving us a lot. We've been radio-surfing a lot.

Tomorrow we'll head to Santa Cruz, and hit up Monterey on the way, and after a couple of nights in Santa Cruz, we'll go to San Francisco.

I'm really liking the beachfront place. The front office gave us two rooms, one with a view of the ocean downstairs, and one upstairs with a fireplace. And I snagged the downstairs immediately because I wanted to work at a desk with a view of the sea. It's not been working, of course, because I spent most of the evening texting with A instead of working. But hope spring eternal?? We don't have to check out until noon anyway.

"In over my head"

Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:15 am
[personal profile] rosefox
Dear fellow caregivers for toddlers: I would love advice on two distinct things.

1) What makes a good potty? The number of variations is overwhelming. We want something pretty simple, I think: looks like a toilet, no branded characters, doesn't play music, sits on the floor, is basically a bucket with a seat. In the more distant future we'll need one that folds up or goes over the toilet seat or something, for when we're on the road, but right now this is just for Kit to examine and contemplate and get used to the idea of.

2) Like most 18-month-olds, Kit is full of energy. Unlike most 18-month-olds, Kit can barely walk unassisted and can't run or jump. They've only just started climbing around on the most low-level playground equipment and are very uncertain; they can get up five steps to the top of the baby slide but haven't yet sorted out how to slide down it. When they can't burn off all that energy, they get very agitated and fussy. How do we help them get something like vigorous exercise on the weekends? So far my only idea is to take their walker wagon to the park so they can toddle along at a fairly fast clip for longer distances than our apartment allows—there's a good smoothly paved straightaway there—but that's a pain because the sidewalk between here and there is very uneven and narrow, so I'd have to figure out some way to carry the (heavy, bulky, non-folding) wagon while pushing Kit in the stroller, and that may surpass my own physical limitations. Maybe a lightweight folding medical-style walker? Is that a ridiculous expense for a kid who probably won't need it anymore by the end of the summer? And what do we do when it's not park weather? The nearest real play space for kids is the Brooklyn Children's Museum and it's kind of a haul from here—two buses, and you have to fold the stroller on the bus. They can only crawl around our apartment for so long.

EDIT: We did have a great dance party to the B-52s on Sunday—their pure sincerity is a perfect match for toddler sincerity, plus a good beat—so I should remember that's an option for indoor days. Friends on Twitter and elsewhere also suggested walking while holding Kit's hands/arms; playing follow-the-leader movement games ("Stretch WAAAAAY up high! Now bend WAAAAAY down low!") or doing movement to songs; setting up a tumbling mat and big foam blocks to climb on if we can get some that fit Kit's room (need to measure the open floor space); getting a cheap flimsy lightweight doll stroller to use as a walker in the park.

I'd really appreciate any suggestions on either or both fronts!

Metamorprose@Discord

Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:06 am
[personal profile] we_protect_each_other posting in [community profile] yuletide


If you would be interested in joining a Discord server for fanfiction writers, please consider joining Metamorprose. The rules and policies are simple and accessible on the server itself and are displayed in a static location at [community profile] metamorprose. A direct invite link can be found here: https://discord.gg/z3FHEYQ More information about Discord, what it is, and how to use the server are on the comm. Happy writing!
[personal profile] sovay
Happy solstice! I was indeed awake all night. I'm still awake. Sleep or no sleep, however, sometimes a person has to yell about a movie on the internet.

Girl of the Port (1930), directed for RKO by Bert Glennon, is a pre-Code curiosity if ever I encountered one: a hopelessly confused adventure-melodrama-romance between a tough-cookie showgirl and a shell-shocked veteran set in the South Seas islands, which is part of its problem. Its title is technically relevant in that the heroine is the only female character of any prominence, but thematically it would have done much better to be released under its production title of The Fire-Walker, after the original short story by John Russell. Story elements include World War I, half a dozen nervous breakdowns, British tourists, mixology, untranslated Chinese, institutional racism, surprise aristocracy, the climactic if no longer eponymous firewalk, and the whole thing's over in 65 minutes, so it gets the plot in with a crowbar. There are really interesting things in it and there are really frustrating things in it and they are not arranged in any separable fashion. I am not sorry to have seen it, but I do not expect anyone else to feel the same.

It opens with title cards, setting the zeitgeist of the Lost Generation: "Not all the casualties of war are in hospital cots. There are wounds of the spirit as lasting as those of the flesh, but less pitied, and little understood. Few know the dark fears brought back from the battlefront. Even fewer know that those fears may be cast out . . . but only by the mind that harbors them." The sequence that follows startled me; I keep forgetting that while the Production Code did its best to reduce the realities of sex, race, and gender to cartoons, it also did a lasting disservice to violence—not the two-fisted pantomime kind where bullets leave no marks and people's eyes close gently when they die, but the kind people should be scared of. We see it in the barbed wire trenches of World War I, where a battalion of British soldiers is getting ready to go over the top. It's cold, dark, ghostly. A young officer is trying to reassure an enlisted man even younger than himself, a hollow-eyed boy whose head is already bandaged bloodily under his tin hat. Five in the morning is zero hour; he re-checks his watch, takes a deep breath, and blows the signal. All together, his men call out their watchword, "God and the right!" and scramble up over the sandbags into no man's land. Their German counterparts affirm, "Gott mit uns!" and do the same. There's little sense of strategy on the British side, just a loose line of men ordered into hell with rifles and nerve.1 They walk into a nest of German flamethrowers. It's horrifying. At first they don't see the danger, decoyed by the smoke and the disorienting concussions of the mortar barrage covering the German advance; then it's too late to get out of range. There is something uncanny and inhuman in the flamethrower troops with their deep-sea gear and the long, long streams of fire they send snaking out before them, licking and curling as if they were living and hungry things. The young officer stands his ground with his service pistol, trying to take the flamethrowers out, but soon he's dry-firing and then a stutter of enemy machine-guns takes him in the leg and the arm; he tumbles into a shell-hole alongside the feebly flailing body of a fellow soldier with some obliquely shot but grisly makeup effects on his face—burned, blinded. He keeps crying about the fire, about his eyes. With his helmet knocked off, we can see the officer's face under its stiff tousle of dark hair, terrified and suddenly, desperately young. "Stick close to me," he said confidently, just a few minutes ago in the safety of the trench, "and don't forget—those Fritzes are nothing but men." But fire is more than men, fire can eat men alive, and it's doing just that all around him. Everywhere he looks, the white-hot hissing light of the flamethrowers coming on and the bodies of men he knew burning, or worse, stumbling through the inferno, screaming. He's trapped. He can't get out. Suddenly he's screaming, too, high and hoarse and raw: "Oh, God, don't let the fire get me—don't let the fire get me—oh, God!" And scene.

It's a harsh opening and the viewer may be forgiven for feeling a little whiplashed when the action jumps years and genres to the rainy night in Suva, Fiji when footloose, all-American Josie (Sally O'Neil, a mostly silent actress new to me) blows out of the storm and into MacDougal's Bamboo Bar. Late of Coney Island, she fast-talks her way into a bartending job with theatrical sass, booting the current barman and introducing herself to the appreciative all-male clientele like the carnival talker of her own attraction: "I don't need no assistance, thanks. My father was a bouncer in the Tenth Ward. My mother was a lion tamer with Ringling. I was weaned on raw meat and red pepper. Boo!" She's petite and kitten-faced, brash and blonde as an undercranked Joan Blondell; her dialogue is a glorious compendium of pop culture and pure, nasal Brooklyn slang. She refers to her pet canary alternately as "John McCormack" and "Jenny Lind," derides a hoary pick-up line as "old when Fanny was a girl's name," and deflects an incipient attack of sentiment with the admonition not "to go . . . getting all Jolson about it." A handsy customer gets the brush-off "What are you, a chiropractor? You rub me the wrong way." When she finds another new patron passed out face-first on a table, their exchange as he groggily props himself up gives a good idea of the script's overall mix of the snappy and the sententious:

"Who in blazes are you?"
"Lon Chaney."
"I'm coming up to date. Usually at this stage I'm seeing Jonah's whale."
"Snap out of it, bozo. Ain't you glad you don't see pink elephants?"
"Lassie, I drink so's I
can see them. They crowd out other things. Four fingers, please."

Asked for the color of his money, the man produces a military decoration: thin and scruffy in an old collarless shirt, no longer quite so boyish with the haunted lines in his face, it's the young officer of the opening scenes (Reginald Sharland, also new to me; he had an eleven-film career between 1927 and 1934 and by turns he reminded me of Richard Barthelmess, Peter Capaldi, and Dick Van Dyke, which is a hell of a thing to say about anyone). He has shell-shock you can see from space. When the bar pianist starts tinkling a jaunty improv on "Tipperary," he recites the chorus in a kind of bitter trance, tellingly omitting the last line about his heart. Josie tries to break in by guessing his rank; when she reaches "Captain," he jolts to his feet like a snapped elastic, giving an instinctive salute and then a haggard smile: "Clever, don't you think yourself?" In a welcome gesture toward nuance, he's fucked up, but not totally pathetic. He's known as Whiskey Johnny, after the stuff he drinks more thirstily than water and the song he'll perform in exchange for free glasses of it, especially when egged on by white-suited local bully McEwen (Mitchell Lewis, wait for it). This sort of setup is usually the cue for public humiliation, but Johnny can actually sing and he grins round at the room while he does it, a slight, shabby, definitely not sober man, drawing his audience in all the same. I had a girl and her name was Lize. Whiskey, Johnny! Oh, she put whiskey in her pies. Whiskey for my Johnny! He balks only when McEwen presses him to sing the last verse, the one that Johnny nervously protests "isn't done amongst gentlemen, is it? Not when ladies are present."2 In response, McEwen insults Josie, Johnny insults McEwen, words escalate to fists escalate to McEwen pulling a knife, Johnny grabbing a chair, and Josie throwing a bottle that smashes the nearest lamp. The oil ignites as soon as it hits the floor, a quick mushroom of flame spurting up right in Johnny's face. He was unsteady but combative a moment ago; in the face of the fire, he screams like a child. "Oh, God, the fire! Don't let the fire get me! Oh, God, let me out of here!" A few voices call after him as he blunders jaggedly away through the crowd, plainly seeing nothing but Flanders and flames, but most dismiss him as a "ruddy coward . . . not worth stopping, with his tail between his legs." The next morning, flinchingly hungover on the beat-up chaise longue in the back room of the bar, he tells Josie the story of how he won his medal, the sole survivor of his company decorated for bravery for cowering in a shell-hole "watching the others crisp up and die—hearing them die—seeing the fire draw nearer, nearer, seeing it all round me—oh, God, don't let the fire get me! Don't let the fire get me!" He can recover a wry self-possession in quieter moments, but he "can't face fire" or even the memory of it: the terror is always just below the surface. McEwen has only to flick a cigarette into a bucket of gasoline to bust him back down to a shuddering wreck, trying to hide in the furniture, chokingly gulping the drink he just swore he wouldn't touch.

Josie's solution is unorthodox but unhesitating: she has him move into her cabin. McEwen can't get at him there. House rules are they don't sleep together and Johnny doesn't drink. As the intermittent intertitles tell us, "Half her time she saw that men got liquor at Macdougal's . . . the other half, she saw that one man didn't!" After eight weeks, their relationship is a comfortable but charged mixture of emotional intimacy and unacknowledged sexual tension and I think accidentally sort of kinky. Each night when she leaves for work at the bar, she locks Johnny in—by now at his own request—so that he can't wander off in search of booze despite his best intentions. He refers to her as his "doctor, nurse, pal, and jailor—and savior, you know. That is, if a chap who didn't deserve it ever had one." His hands shake badly when he kneels to put her shoes on for her, but he insists on doing it anyway, just as he insists on helping with the washing-up even when they lose more plates that way. She treats him practically, not like something broken or breakable; she calls him "Bozo" because she doesn't like "Whiskey Johnny" and he doesn't like "Captain." Eventually, diffidently, he introduces himself as "Jameson," at which Josie shoots him a skeptical look: "I've seen that name on bottles." She's fallen for him by now, which the audience could see coming from the moment she deflated his romantic sob story of a contemptuous fiancée who betrayed him with his best friend with the tartly dismissive "What a dim bulb she turned out to be," but she keeps a self-protective distance, correctly recognizing that she's given him a breather, not a miracle, and in the meantime he's imprinted on her like a battle-fatigued duckling. When he declares his love, she warns him, "Now don't go mixing up love and gratitude, 'cause they ain't no more alike than champagne and Ovaltine." They end up in a clinch, of course, and a jubilant Johnny promises that they're going to "lick that fear—together," waving her off to work like a happy husband already. The viewer with a better idea of dramatic structure vs. runtime waits for the third-act crisis to come home to roost.

All of this is an amazing demonstration of the durability of hurt/comfort over the decades and to be honest it's pretty great of its type, even if occasionally over the top even by the standards of idfic. Both O'Neil and Sharland's acting styles are mixed somewhere between early sound naturalism and the full-body expression of silent film—O'Neil acquires a vocal quaver in moments of emotion and Sharland employs some highly stylized gestures in his breakdowns, though there's nothing old-fashioned or stagy about his screams—but since they are generally in the same register at the same time, it works fine. They make a sympathetically matching couple with their respective fears of being unlovable, Josie who bluntly admits that she "ain't a nice girl," Johnny convinced he's a coward and a failure, "finished." Some of their best romantic moments are not declarative passion but shy happiness, the actors just glowing at one another. The trouble is that what I have been describing is the best version of the film, the one without the radioactive levels of racism that start at surprisingly upsettingly high and escalate to Jesus, was D.W. Griffith ghosting this thing? and essentially make it impossible for me to recommend this movie to anyone without qualifiers galore.

Perhaps you have a little something yet to learn about native blood, milord. )

I do not know how closely Girl of the Port resembles its source story, which can be found in Russell's Far Wandering Men (1929). Since he seems to have specialized in South Seas adventures, I assume some of the racism is baked in; I also wouldn't be surprised if some of it was introduced in the process of adaptation. I can get his earlier collection Where the Pavement Ends (1919) on Project Gutenberg, but Far Wandering Men isn't even in the local library system, so it may take me a little while to find out. Until then, I don't know what else I can tell you. "Frustrating" may have been an understatement. I don't want Sharland, O'Neil, and lines like "There you go, full of ambition. You have your youth, your health, and now you want shelves" to have been wasted on this film, but I fear that they may. Duke Kahanamoku certainly was. Mitchell Lewis, by the way, is most famous these days for his uncredited three-line role as the Captain of the Winkie Guard in The Wizard of Oz (1939)—I didn't recognize him as such in Girl of the Port, but once I made the connection, the deep voice and the strongly marked brows were unmistakable. I like him a lot better when he's green. This damaged recovery brought to you by my stronger backers at Patreon.

1. And kilts, which means they must be one of the Highland regiments, but in the chaos of battle I did not get a good look at the tartan.

2. Seriously? I've got like five versions of "Whiskey Johnny"/"Whiskey Is the Life of Man"/"John Rise Her Up" on my iTunes and I wouldn't call any of them racy. It's a halyard chantey. What have I been missing all these years?

3. Once safely outside MacDougal's, Kalita spits on the coin in disgust and then throws it away in the rain. I really think the script is trying its best with him, but because even his positive scenes rely on stereotypes, I credit most of his extant dimensions to Kahanamoku.

4. With a slur I've never heard before: "That little tabby over there . . . T-A-B-B-Y, tabby. The girl that's trying to make you!" From this context I assume it means a gold digger or a tart, but if it's real slang rather than minced for purposes of the Hays Code, I don't think it widely survived.

5. We are also, presumably, supposed to cheer plucky Josie for finding a way to turn the villain's heritage against him: before she agrees to his blackmail, she makes him swear to keep his end of the bargain on something he won't be able to cheat, not God or his honor, but the carved shell charm from his Fijian mother that he wears beneath his European shirts and suits, the hidden and telltale truth of him. "Swear on this Hindu hocus-pocus," she challenges, gripping it in her white hand. "Go on. That'll hold a Malay." Native superstition out of nowhere wins the day. Looking suddenly shaken, he swears.

Reading Wednesday

Jun. 21st, 2017 09:33 pm
[personal profile] chomiji

I finished All the Birds in the Sky. It wasn't bad, but it just sort of ended: too much build up, not enough resolution. And now I'm annoyed by the title, because although it sounds really nifty, it doesn't have all that much to do with the story. This is not going to be my top vote for best novel, I'm afraid.

Also in Hugo reading, I read through Ursula Le Guin's Words Are My Matter, a collection of recent short non-fiction pieces. I love Le Guin as an essayist, and the first part of the book contains some good examples. But the back half-and-a-bit is introductions to books and book reviews, and I found those less interesting. A number of them were for non-genre literary or magical realism works that didn't sound as though they'd appeal to me. She did mention a couple of Western (as in, Western U.S.) novels that I might want to look up, which I will mention here partially for my own reference: Crazy Weather by Charles McNichols and The Jump-Off Creek and The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss. Also, although Perdido Street Station pretty much put me off China Mielville for life, her review of Embassytown is making me reconsider.

Overall, unless the rest of the Related Works are very mediocre, I don't think this will be my top pick in that category.

I have just started Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, which is short-listed for Best Novel. A number of the readers on File 770 had trouble with this book, but I'm not finding it problematic thus far. Possibly the fact that I actually like Anthony Burgess' A Dead Man in Deptford (link goes to Kirkus review), which was also purposefully written in the style of an earlier era, has something to do with this. I'll have to see where the book goes, of course.

Finally, I'll be re-reading some of Fruits Basket, Because Reasons. Does anyone recall the number of the exact volume in which Machi shows up? It's when she wrecks the student council room, if the Wikia is to be believed.

sunrise, sunset

Jun. 21st, 2017 07:37 pm
[personal profile] totient
Today was the longest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere. But it wasn't the earliest sunrise, or the latest sunset.

What?

The length of a day -- 24 hours from sunrise to sunrise, on average -- comes mostly from Earth's rotation. But a few minutes of it comes from Earth's orbiting around the sun. It takes Earth 23 hours, 56 minutes, and a bit over 4 seconds to rotate 360 degrees, at the end of which time the stars will be in the same positions in the sky as they were the previous day. But because the sun isn't in the same place in the sky as it was the previous day, Earth has to rotate about 3 minutes and 56 seconds more to bring the sun back into the same apparent position it had been in 24 hours previously.

The catch is that "about". Two things affect this number. First, Earth's orbit isn't perfectly circular. It's closest to the sun in early January and furthest in early July. When it's further, it moves more slowly in its orbit, so it doesn't have to turn as much extra to make a day. When it's closer, it moves more quickly, so it has more to make up. Second, and right now more importantly, at the equinoxes Earth can catch up to the sun's new east-west position quickly because some of the sun's apparent motion is north-south. At the solstices, Earth has to turn quite a bit further to make up for same amount of orbital motion, because all of the sun's apparent motion is east-west. This makes the day/night cycle longer than average -- right now, it's about 24 hours 15 seconds from one sunset (or sunrise) to the next. The effect is even more pronounced in December when it's aligned with the eccentricity effect instead of opposed to it.

The longer days mean that here in Boston, though we've missed the earliest sunrise by about a week, we have until June 26 to celebrate the latest sunset of the year.

(no subject)

Jun. 21st, 2017 07:36 pm
[personal profile] skygiants
I recently reread Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death. It remains an onslaught of a book, although being somewhat braced for the barrage of ANGER INJUSTICE GENOCIDE GONNA DESTROY A WHOLE CITY NOW does allow a little more time to, uh, stop and appreciate the occasional non-fraught thing that happens along the way? Onyesonwu makes friends with a camel at one point! That's nice!

(...for the record, my review from 2010 seems to indicate that at the time I understood and appreciated what happened at the end. Well, good job, past self, because my present self has no idea. Spoilers ))

Anyway! Rereading Who Fears Death got me thinking about the kind of books that are constructed around an ancient lore or a knowledge of the world that turns out to be fundamentally wrong, cultures constructed around poisoned lies. The Fifth Season is the other immediate example that springs to mind of a book like this -- not that there aren't other parallels between The Fifth Season and Who Fears Death. It seems to me that I ought to be able to think of more, but since I can't I'm sure you guys can.

When I mentioned this to [personal profile] genarti, she immediately said "YA dystopia! Fallout!" and that's true, a lot of dystopias are built around a Fundamentally Flawed Premise that has been imposed upon the innocent population by a dictatorial government. Those feel a little different to me, though, maybe just because that sort of dystopia very clearly grows out of our own world. We know from the beginning how to judge truth and lies, we're WAY AHEAD of our naive heroine who believes the color blue is evil because the government put an inexplicable ban on it. But Who Fears Death, while it may be set in our future, is in a future so distant from our own that there's no particular tracing back from it, and The Fifth Season is another world altogether, and we don't have any home court advantage over the protagonists as they figure out where the lies are except a belief that something that poisonous has to be wrong; maybe that's the difference.

Artificial Condition Quote

Jun. 21st, 2017 05:28 pm
[personal profile] marthawells
Trying to get photos to post here still seems really wonky, so here's a link to a tumblr post with a quote from The Murderbot Diaries: Artificial Condition: https://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/162086407182/for-book-quote-wednesday-bookqw-on-twitter

This was for Book Quote Wednesday on Twitter.

Solstice gratitudes

Jun. 21st, 2017 05:54 pm
[personal profile] kass
1. My mirpesset. I love, love, love having this little balcony.

2. The wind chime hanging there.

3. The herb garden in a window box there.

4. The pretty string of solar-powered LED lights I just festooned there, to bring sparkle to the long evenings.

5. Sunshine, blue sky, sweet breeze, greenery all around.

an IMPORTANT question

Jun. 21st, 2017 04:04 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
Poll #18516 trying to cheer myself up from rain/flood watch/tornado watch/tropical storm
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 33


If I were to attempt CHEESECAKE [0] pinup art of a hexarchate character for lulz, it should be

View Answers

Nirai Kujen
16 (48.5%)

Shuos Jedao
16 (48.5%)

Kel Cheris [1]
6 (18.2%)

Andan Tseya
3 (9.1%)

Shuos Khiaz
1 (3.0%)

someone else I will name in comments
1 (3.0%)

ticky the EXTREMELY DISAPPROVING tocky
2 (6.1%)



[0] May or may not feature CHEESY partial nudity.

[1] The incomparable [personal profile] telophase once did me a sketch of blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret because I kept joking that I would get a cover featuring blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret. (Hexarchate AU...?!)

(In real life, I'm working on an art assignment...ahahahahaha.)

(Dear Louisiana: PLEASE STOP RAINING. At least it isn't downpouring enough that I feel that I have to pack for emergency evacuation, it's just raining drearily, but...)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The only way I could work out to fix the formatting issues (where point size varied for no reason and underlining got tossed in at random) was to remove all formatting in the original document and reinsert links by hand.

Marvel at the new list!

Read more... )

CORRECT ACTION

Jun. 21st, 2017 08:18 pm
[personal profile] rydra_wong
The Guardian: Grenfell Tower families to be rehoused in flats at luxury complex

This doesn't cover all the displaced families. And the flats are part of the "affordable" quota developers are frequently required to build along with the luxury flats, with the usual segregation (not being allowed access to the swimming pool etc. -- in quite a few instances, developers have created buildings where the people in the "affordable" flats have a separate entrance to the building ...), so it's a lot less "luxury" than the headline implies.

And they're being bought by the Corporation of London (as opposed to paid for out of RBKC's £274 million reserves?).

Still, it's a start.

A Bit of Sunshine

Jun. 21st, 2017 01:09 pm
[personal profile] malkingrey
Also, the air is cooler today, and despite sleeping very late this morning† I managed to get the most pressing chore on today's schedule taken care of before noon.

Meanwhile, Himself is putting together the last touches on his garb and gear for this weekend's gig, doing busking (walkaround magic on a pass-the-hat basis) at the Vermont RennFaire over in Stowe. If you're in the area, do feel free to stop by.

The changing weather kept me awake and restless most of the night, and when I finally dropped off about 4;30 or so when the temperature dropped, I didn't wake up until well past 10 AM. This is what happens when there's nobody in the house who has to get ready for school or anything -- your internal clock can get way out of sync with that of the wider world, and it doesn't matter. (Until, of course, it does, but that's what alarm clocks are for.)

Fads of youth

Jun. 21st, 2017 09:25 am
[personal profile] badgerbag
I was thinking last night of fads. In the 70s I had an official "Pet Rock" which I loved. The manual on care and training of Pet Rocks was very amusingly written (at least to my 7 year old mind). Pet Rocks were particularly great at learning to "stay" and "play dead". It came in a little carton full of straw with the manual and I think, a leash.

My dad was a good model for how to gently enjoy human absurdity and I remember him being super entertained by the pet rock and playing along with it super well.

Facing reality

Jun. 21st, 2017 12:08 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Various attempts to shore up my dwindling income have failed to achieve their necessary goals so as of the 28th, I don't have a house. Friends and family are helping with the accommodations and moving my stuff into storage. I don't think I am quite up to doing five reviews a week and packing my household so review frequency may drop a bit for the next week or so.

Fig and Ibid will likely have to be re-homed.

It seems a heavy choice to make

Jun. 21st, 2017 10:53 am
[personal profile] musesfool
In the ever-exciting news of the long slow process of co-op buying, late yesterday afternoon, I received a revised version of the appraisal - the one I got on Saturday had one number on the cover page and then another within the body of the document, and when I pointed that out to the lawyer, and he was like, "They're gonna go with the number in the document." Which was the lower number. But as of yesterday, the apartment is apparently worth the number on the cover page, which is $5000 more than the other. It's still $10K lower than the asking price, but it's proof that appraisers are human and make mistakes, so. We'll see what happens. I'm also still waiting to be contacted to set up the board interview. Sigh. I did find my black dress, though, so I'll be able to wear that when the time comes.

*

Last night, I made formulation #2 of anti-itch lotion and it doesn't have salt in it but it does have baking soda, so the unfortunately slightly gritty feel continues and also it didn't work (not to mention being an unappealing-for-a-skincare-product gray in color), so I think I'm just going to stick to more tried and true methods going forward.

*

Wednesday! Books!

What I've just finished
The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo, #2) by Rick Riordan. I enjoyed this - the action is a lot of fun and Leo got more to do - but oy, Apollo as narrator is annoying.

What I'm reading now
Despite an endless TBR pile, how could I resist Joan Aiken's The Five-Minute Marriage after reading amazing reviews by [personal profile] rachelmanija (here) and [personal profile] skygiants (here)?

I have especially fond memories of both The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and Black Hearts in Battersea, though I haven't read either since I was a kid (I probably should reread at some point, and I did not know there were like five other books in that series), plus it's about a fake but real marriage set in the Regency era, so it was like five of my bulletproof narrative kinks in one book.

And boy does it deliver. Not so much on the actual romance, but with the hilarity and the fake marriage that turns out to be legitimate (in the sense of they are actually legally married rather than it being a fraudulent ceremony as they expected) and will likely turn into a real (as in they actually care about each other and stay married) marriage by the end of the book, grand romance notwithstanding, as well as the apparent alpha asshole hero who turns out to just be really stressed about babysitting his sister's TEN kids.

Anyway! I am enjoying it a lot and if that sounds like your cup of tea, you probably will too!

What I'm reading next
I do not know! However, I did want to give a heads up to anyone who doesn't know that Frances Hardinge has a new book coming out in the fall: A Skinful of Shadows. I am excite! And maybe I will read The Lie Tree next. I was saving it because it's the only Hardinge I haven't read yet, but if there's a new book on the horizon, I don't have to hoard it anymore. *g*

*

reading wednesday

Jun. 21st, 2017 07:37 am
[personal profile] thistleingrey
I have read, a bit: Lee's Ninefox Gambit (edged past midpoint), the very opening of Cleeves's White Nights, most of a cookbook. There is one book post, but it ought to wait till after the post for Gambit, which was begun first. Less fog than two weeks ago.

Current reading: two of those aren't finished, and I'd like to clear enough fog to finish them. I do not like this thing whereby my mind slides off reading with each retry.

Wednesday Reading

Jun. 21st, 2017 08:30 am
[personal profile] oracne
This week's reading was mostly a book for anonymous review. I also caught up on Time.

The real question is, what do I read next? From the TBR, I have the following candidates that I am most interested in right now. Thoughts on what I should choose?

The Hanging Tree (Rivers of London) by Ben Aaronovitch.

The House of Shattered Wings (A Dominion of the Fallen Novel) by Aliette de Bodard.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott.

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor.

Rare Male Slash Exchange - Pinch Hits

Jun. 21st, 2017 09:38 am
[personal profile] rareslashex_mod posting in [community profile] yuletide
Rare Male Slash Exchange currently has three open pinch hits looking for a good home!

The deadline is Monday 31 July at 23:59 UTC.

The minimum for fanfic is 1000 words; the minimum for art is a finished piece created entirely by the artist (no icons, manips, etc.). All works must focus on the requested fandom and ship.

If you wish to claim a pinch hit, please comment on the pinch hit post on the RMSE community here, including your AO3 username and the username/number of the pinch hit you want!


Pinch Hit #5: 방탄소년단 | Bangtan Boys | BTS, Big Bang (Band), GOT7, Topp Dogg (Band)

Pinch Hit #6: The Vampire Diaries (TV), DC Cinematic Universe, Fast and the Furious Series, Vantage Point (2008), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (TV), Bourne (Movies)

Pinch Hit #12: Law & Order: SVU, Chicago Justice (TV), Homicide: Life on the Street, Crossover Fandom

Whoot!

Jun. 20th, 2017 06:06 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Another UWTC season is nearly over and once again I am permitted to leave my dress shoes in their bag in coat check.

'Cause I don't tell all I know

Jun. 20th, 2017 05:35 pm
[personal profile] sovay
It is almost the solstice and I am skeptical that I will sleep through any of the shortest night, the insomnia is that bad right now. I spend my days feeling like everything is wound in layers of cotton batting and my nights not understanding why being tired does not equal being asleep. I'm losing so much time. On the other hand, the sky is tall summer-blue and the clouds look like there should be the sea under them and I was just reminded that Egon Schiele's Trieste Harbour (1907) exists and that makes me happy, even if my brain is now trying to make Der Hafen von Triest scan to Jacques Brel and that's just not going to work out.



I have to write about something.

arg dammit

Jun. 20th, 2017 01:01 pm
[personal profile] telophase
just learned, after nuking my frozen tv-dinner-type lunch but before eating it, that pineapple has the same effect as grapefruit on antibiotics, especially those in the family that the I'm taking is in. Cooking may denature the enzyme that has the effect, but I can't get a specific answer as to whether or not 3 minutes of nuking (and whatever prep it might have had before) would destroy it.

Given that I'm allergic to a cousin of this AB* and that the bad effect is that it slows the elimination of it from the body, it's very much not worth risking it, especially as the last bad AB reaction I had kept me out of work for a very unhappy week. Dammit, it smells so good, too.


* both doc and pharmacist are well aware, and I have been given strict instructions to keep an eye on certain symptoms and phone immediately if they show up.

eta: and of course the library cafe isn't carrying the usual salads and sushi since it's summer. so i have a thing of instant oatmeal for lunch. I also brought cheese sticks, so it's not all I'm having, and we start our conversational Italian class tonight through campus' extended ed program, so we'll be eating dinner early. It's just Not Satisfying when I had my heart set on black bean chicken with pineapple sauce. Bah.

you oughta keep me concealed

Jun. 20th, 2017 02:04 pm
[personal profile] musesfool
I spoke with my lawyer yesterday afternoon and he said that the appraisal coming in low shouldn't affect the loan because I'm putting 50% down, but that it can affect how much I have to pay, and he's going to ask the seller's lawyer what they're willing to do regarding bringing the price down a little to align with the appraisal (or explain why the appraisal is wrong). We agreed that I would still pay the full asking price if necessary, but he's going to see what he can get since this happened. We'll see!

*

Last night, I met up with [personal profile] chicklet_girl, who is visiting NYC, and we had steak dinner and fannish conversation and it was lovely. I managed to mostly avoid getting soaked too, right up until I was half a block from the restaurant, at which point the skies opened and I got drenched from the knees on down (I was wearing a dress so it didn't bother me that much). And then later, as we left the restaurant, the sky was a weird yellow color as the storms had moved east. I didn't see any rainbows, but I've heard from various people that they were all over.

*

So I made some anti-itch lotion, but I don't find it particularly effective, and also it has salt in it, which makes it gritty, which is not a sensation I want in something that's not meant to be an exfoliant. I mean, maybe if I mixed it up with a mixer it wouldn't feel that way, and but I'm not ready to commit my handmixer to non-food-related items. And since it doesn't really work any better than any of the other million different things I've tried (and it works significantly less well than a few of those methods), I can't see using it again. I do have a couple other formulations to try out, none of which contain salt, so that at least shouldn't be a problem.

The bug repellent lotion bar seems to work, or at least I haven't gotten any new bites since I started using it. I guess we'll see how that goes. it's a good thing I don't mind the scent of citronella.

*

aww

Jun. 20th, 2017 01:50 pm
[personal profile] glass_icarus
Last night in my browsing for Poirot videos, I ended up finding and watching David Suchet's documentary on Being Poirot instead. :D It's actually quite warm-and-fuzzies inducing, if a bit spoilery on various plot points for various stories. David Suchet talks about figuring out Poirot's character, method acting, sets, his other film references, Agatha Christie herself, international audiences, etc. If you're an Agatha Christie fan and haven't already seen it, I think it's quite worth it!

Oh, my heart (again)

Jun. 20th, 2017 05:28 pm
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Hundreds of Londoners showed up yesterday evening to hand roses to worshippers at the Finsbury Park mosque as they went in to pray:

https://www.facebook.com/jocoxmoreincommon/videos/408448636222639/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-40343485

question

Jun. 20th, 2017 12:08 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Is it the custom to pay babysitters at least minimum wage? On the one hand, if minimum wage laws do not apply, why spend a penny more than one has to on the person into whose care one is placing one's children? On the other, arguably it is wrong to teach young people to undervalue their labour. Others might argue that it is very good to teach young people not to value their labour overmuch, as that training will prepare them for a life of unpaid internships.

Context: in my day, it was not uncommon for kids to be expected to donate their labour out of duty and not being permitted to say no. And that was on a farm, where there was a certain risk of getting pulled into a bailing machine or run over by a harrow. But human litters were bigger back then, and you could lose one or two kids here and there without endangering the lineage.

Owwwwwwwww

Jun. 20th, 2017 09:20 am
[personal profile] oracne
Somehow I strained something in my lower back or upper glute over the weekend, and I'm not sure how, unless it was carrying wet laundry up stairs, but I don't recall any pain at the time. Regardless, it hurts now, and yesterday's workout, despite being all upper body plus some lower back stretching, did not help (I hoped it would). I starting taking naproxen last night and am using my microwave-heated buckwheat thingie while I'm at work today.

Uh! Noy! Ing!

If I knew what I'd done to cause this soreness, I'd be less annoyed about it.
[personal profile] pendrecarc posting in [community profile] yuletide
Nominations are open for the second round of the Hamiathes' Gift Exchange, a fanfiction and fanart exchange for Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief books. Check out the tag set and nominate here!

The schedule for 2017:
  • Character and relationship nominations: June 14th through the 24th at 10 PM EDT
  • Signups: June 27th through July 8th, closing at 10 PM EDT
  • Assignments sent out: July 10th at the latest
  • Fanworks due: August 19th at 10 PM EDT
  • Fanworks revealed: August 26th at 10 PM EDT
  • Artists/authors revealed: September 2nd at 10 PM EDT
Links of interest:

Exchange on AO3 | Exchange on LJ | Exchange on DW | Announcements at Tumblr
[personal profile] truepenny
Dear Senator Johnson:

I'm writing to ask you to put pressure on Senator McConnell to release the text of the AHCA bill and to hold public hearings before the bill is put to the vote. I ask this in a nonpartisan spirit, simply as a principle of ethical governance. Patrick Henry said in 1788, "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. . . . to cover with the veil of secrecy the common routine of business, is an abomination in the eyes of every intelligent man, and every friend to his country." I believe that's as true now as it was then.

Please don't let Senator McConnell set a precedent with the AHCA. Insist that the text of the bill be published. Insist that there be public hearings. We fall short of the ideal of American democracy a lot of the time, but we are better than this crude and childish attempt to strong-arm an unpopular bill through the Senate by refusing to let anyone see it.

It would only take three Republican senators refusing to vote for the AHCA without proper disclosure and hearings to make it impossible for Senator McConnell's strategy to succeed. I would like to believe, not only that there are three Republican senators who have the ethical and moral strength to make that refusal, but also that the senior senator from Wisconsin is one of them.

Music Monday

Jun. 19th, 2017 09:06 pm
[personal profile] chomiji

Yes, it's stereotypical marital sex roles all the way down, but it still sounds like summer to me:

quick rec

Jun. 19th, 2017 06:19 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
Kat Howard's "The Key to St. Medusa's" [Lightspeed Magazine] is a gorgeous story about witches, and found family, and the hope at the heart of a fairytale:
My parents knew I was a witch before I was born. The signs were there, they told me. They were unmistakable.

Well. Not all of the signs, or they never would have kept me as long as they did. But enough: My mother’s hair, previously sedate and well-mannered, turned curly and wild during her pregnancy, sometimes even grabbing forks from other people’s hands at meals. Clocks ran backward when she went near them, and thirteen grey cats took up residence in our front yard for the last month before I was born.

Also, I was born on a Tuesday.

I loved this from beginning to end. It's a pretty fast read (under 4,000 words), in lucid candle-language. Give it a try.

[Note to the pedantic: my "books" tag is for stories as well because I am lazy and bad at tagging.]

RAVEN STRATAGEM open thread

Jun. 19th, 2017 05:27 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
Since it seems that some people have finished the book.

Ask questions! Discuss! Complain!

Expect there to be spoilers in comments.
[personal profile] yhlee
anything so long as I don't have to keep typing "all units banner the Deuce of Gears"

Poll #18510 Hexarchate Stories
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 32


I am most interested in the following possible new stories in a hexarchate short collection

View Answers

Jedao backstory when he was growing up with his family
9 (28.1%)

what happened to Jedao's sister Nidana after Hellspin
20 (62.5%)

Jedao backstory when he was serving with the Kel
15 (46.9%)

what happens to Cheris after everything, with bonus math pedagogy
24 (75.0%)

how Kel Ragath got Up to Things
6 (18.8%)

gay romance on the Citadel of Eyes ([redacted]/Niath) with bonus angst
9 (28.1%)

the misadventures of Andan Zhe Navo during her first military assignment
13 (40.6%)

the founding of the heptarchate feat. Liozh and Kel
8 (25.0%)

mini-gamebook about Jedao and his first anchor (actually, you're getting this regardless)
10 (31.2%)

Nirai Mahar's backstory
3 (9.4%)

follow-up on Tseya vs. Mikodez
6 (18.8%)

Moroish Nija's training
3 (9.4%)

Mikodez's rise to power, feat. Zehun
15 (46.9%)

ticky the talky tocky
7 (21.9%)

something else I will suggest in comments
0 (0.0%)



ETA: If it helps, the mini-gamebook will also feature snarky commentary from Mikodez and Zehun.

May 2017

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