<3 <3 <3

Oct. 21st, 2014 09:05 pm
[personal profile] kass
Peter Capaldi narrates, and stars in, a five-minute short film about surrealism.

Read all about it (the film is embedded there too.)

Seriously, this is the most charming thing I've seen all week. ♥
[personal profile] yhlee
- recent reading
Amulet vols. 1-6 by Kazu Kibuishi. Not yet complete, and I seem to have not read vol. 5 earlier as well as just getting to read vol. 6. This is an excellent comic series about a girl, Emily, who becomes the keeper of an ambiguously helpful magical amulet and is drawn into a science fantasy world along with her younger brother Navin and her mother. It has vibrant, spectacular art depicting a lush and alien world with creatures both cute and creepy, fascinating plot twists, great action, and genuinely gray characters. Considering that the prologue features Emily and Navin's dad dying in a car accident, it is not afraid to go to scary and dark places, but overall it's probably PG or PG-13. Joe loves this, the lizard loves this, I love this. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

Nabi: The Prototype by Kim Yeon-joo. Collection of shorts. My impression is mostly, pretty art but pretty damn incoherent stories except the first one; I don't know whether this is an artifact of the translation or the manhwa artist is just not very good at communication. And what plot there is tends to be "blah blah blah feelings feelings feelings, FEELINGS, feelings feelings, because FEELINGS," which is...not my kind of thing. I have the complete manhwa in Korean as well; I may try muddling through that next, although I don't actually expect to understand the Hangeul. But hey, pretty art, so worth keeping for that.

- recent viewing
Hellsing Ultimate eps. 2-3. Read more... )

Oh, show.

Oct. 21st, 2014 08:41 pm
[personal profile] kass
My "hands" icon (on dw) has never been more appropriate!

[personal profile] sanj and I just watched "Flatline," the latest ep of Doctor Who S8.

And I found many things to love. )

Anyway. The episode filled me with glee. How about you?
[personal profile] sovay
1. Uncanny Magazine has announced its first table of contents, including my poem "The Whalemaid, Singing." I am really looking forward to this.

2. Michael Matheson has posted a partial table of contents for The Humanity of Monsters. I really like some of the names I'm seeing.

3. Next Sunday, I am taking part once again in
Music to Cure MS. If you want to hear me sing the "Lyke-Wake Dirge" for Halloween, here's your chance.

I'm really just not sleeping, and it makes everything slower. Someday, content with thought included.

lurching towards experience

Oct. 21st, 2014 10:37 am
[personal profile] thistleingrey
The Larch cardigan has a new-to-me design feature that gave me unimpressed face at first: cast on the bottom edge, make twisted ribbing for a few rows (ktbl ptbl ktbl ptbl), then bind off every stitch and pick it up again without breaking yarn. Who the hell binds off 200+ stitches, then picks them up?

I did it dutifully. By a few rows past the pickup point, it's clear that the bindoff "row" adds a great deal of stability while remaining flexible. Convincing. I may do it on every bottom hem henceforth, since my ribbing tends to stretch out---though I'm also trying out "combination" knitting by wrapping purl stitches in the opposite direction, then untwisting them on the next row . . . although I "throw" yarn using my right arm. It's no slower than western-style purl, anyway, and throwing is far faster than picking with my crap joints. Yes, things are kept lively around here.

Things I no longer let myself buy manufacturer-made: cold-weather hats, mittens/handwarmers, my cardigans. My socks, "statement" scarves (i.e. how I dress up my comfortably boring clothes for office suitability), and pullovers (rarely worn anyway) may be added to the list at some point. Some things are easier to buy off a rack, especially for a person inept at sewing who lives near a big city and has an office job, but some things I really have become better at making in forms that suit me and sometimes Reason (darkforge has declared himself replete with handwarmers and hats).

Wow, these posts are full of midlife aaaaaangst. Chalk it up to the imminence of what is in the US often a milestone birthday? Since I don't care about the number, I'm not convinced, but something has been rolling over at least subconsciously.

Fiber Tuesday, first in a perhaps only occasional series:
list of projects )

I type on the same desk at which I knit and crochet; a desktop CPU + monitor, a document holder, and a pass-through document scanner sit atop it, too, though it's not large. Little project bags, a non-yarn-specific bowl bought from Elisabeth Carnell's Etsy shop, and the unused chair beneath the standing desk are a great help for keeping different projects from entangling each other (and, till she promised recently never to do it again, for keeping Reason from grabbing and snapping yarn: she has upheld her promise, since she's old enough now to understand when I say that for each grab/harm moment of glee, I tack on one month of not working on things for her). Every two months or so, I upend the keyboard over the kitchen sink and whack it to get the dust and lint out. :P

To my cat, Ibid

Oct. 21st, 2014 01:08 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
It's good that you have a Timmy's Down the Well meow of distress but the fact two other cats are grooming each other and ignoring you is not an appropriate use for it.

(no subject)

Oct. 21st, 2014 11:00 am
[personal profile] telophase
I think today may be one of those days: I sat down on the edge of the bed and put my socks on, then put one shoe on, and then spent some time looking for my other sock before realizing it was on my foot.

Beet bread: the recipe

Oct. 21st, 2014 08:30 am
[personal profile] mme_hardy
Beet breadBeet bread
 Sunset beet bread

Yields two large free-form loaves.  As-baked instructions given; original quantities in brackets[].   The original recipe called for 1.5 pounds beets to be steamed, cooled, skins slipped, and pureed to yield 1.5 cups puree.   I took two fist-sized beets, scrubbed, wrapped in foil, roasted at 400 degrees (the temperature of the roast already in the oven; anything above 300 would do) until done, cooled overnight, and pureed to yield 4 cups.

1 pkg (2.25 tsp) active dry yeast
.25 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 T sugar [2T]

At room temperature:
1/2 c milk
1/4 c butter (should be soft)
1 egg

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg [1 tsp]
1/2 tsp ground white pepper [not in original]
1 tsp salt
Vegetable puree

6+ cups mix of all-purpose flour and bread flour [5+ cups all-purpose]

Proof yeast in water and sugar.   Add all other ingredients and 5 cups of flour,  adding flour in cup intervals.  Mix by hand or in machine until you have a soft, non-sticky dough.  Turn out onto floured board and knead until soft and satiny.   While kneading, turn to form gluten cloak on outside; outside will be smooth and satiny, but inside will still be somewhat better.   Put in greased bowl for first rise; rise until doubled.  (possibly 1.5 hours, but you know how that goes.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Punch down dough and  divide into 2 or 3 loaves;  place in bannetons/brotformen, if you have them, or steep-sloped bowls, or free-form on cookie sheets to rise.   Bread will rise higher if the sides are supported during the rise.   Rise until almost doubled (about 45 min, ha).  Turn gently on to peel or cookie sheet.   Slash.  Put into oven.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until loaves sound hollow.   Cool on racks.

General notes:
  • Shaping a boule
  • If you bake freeform loaves on baker's parchment, it's much easier to get them into and out of the oven, even if you're using a peel.
  • Dust brotformen/bannetons with rye flour and the bread is much less likely to stick; I used brand-new wicker molds and the loaves popped right out.
  • This makes a light, American-style bread, enriched with milk, egg, and butter.   It's completely unlike a French- or Italian-style yeast/flour/water bread.
  • You can't tell if this is done by checking the color.  Thump it and smell it.
  • The author gives instructions on pureeing several different root vegetables, as well as spinach and tomato.  I'll definitely try this again with carrot, and maybe with butternut squash.
  • This doesn't taste strongly beet-y.  The beet is there as an earthy aftertaste.



[personal profile] musesfool
Brooklyn Nine Nine: Halloween II
spoilers )

The Good Wife: Shiny Objects
spoilers )

Sleepy Hollow: The Weeping Woman
spoilers )

I keep hoping to have a story to post, but I have been choosing sleeping over writing lately. *hands* I feel like I will never get enough sleep. It's a problem. And I've only redone my yuletide signup once so far, so I'm sure I'll be tweaking my offers right up until the deadline, especially as more letters get posted.

***
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll

When asked Monday morning by CBC News if the person had been fired, Glenn-Graham initially replied, "Yes." He also confirmed the firing took place on Saturday.

However, subsequent media reports on Monday quoted Glenn-Graham as saying the individual responsible had resigned. When asked to clarify what exactly happened, Glenn-Graham replied by email, saying "the volunteer resigned on their own Friday night."
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
DGG told CBC the rogue staffer was fired. He told 570News the staffer resigned. I have an explanation: If DGG's dad, suspecting his son would run for office and knowing that office requires more than any one person could deliver, had him cloned several times over, this would explain why the different stories and perhaps even who sent the email.



spoiler for an old time sf novel: Read more... )

Dear Festividder 2014

Oct. 20th, 2014 08:41 pm
[personal profile] kass
Dear Festividder,

I am mostly reprising last year's Dear Festividder letter, because honestly, everything I said last year about what I like is still true. :-)

You are so awesome. Thank you for making a vid for me!

I love every one of the fandoms listed below. The simple fact that you're going to vid one of these fandoms already makes my week.

I have particular soft spots for quirky characters, chosen family, competence, small town life, and loyalty. I'm a sap and I like to see characters get happy endings. I like slash and I like het and I like gen -- I'm easy.

Musically, go with whatever floats your boat -- there pretty much isn't a style of music I can't be talked into trying.

(If it's helpful, feel free to check out my vids on the AO3 -- fic is there also -- or on my website.)

Make a vid that makes you happy, and it'll make me happy too.

Thank you!

Love,
Kass



FWIW, I requested Local Hero, Ripper Street, Sneakers, Middleman, Field of Dreams, and Sports Night. my requests, in case anyone feels like making treats )

Unanticipated baking problems

Oct. 20th, 2014 05:22 pm
[personal profile] mme_hardy
 It is really damn difficult to determine whether bread made from brilliant magenta dough is baked.  You still have the cue given by the sound of a thump, but judging the crust color is a lost cause.

Will post beet bread recipe later (probably tomorrow) after I've had time to figure out the success or otherwise of the experiment.  It rose beautifully, smells nice, and is very pretty.

Bonus Level: Gone Home and Hate Plus

Oct. 20th, 2014 05:06 pm
[personal profile] roadrunnertwice

The Fullbright Company – Gone Home

Video game. Aug 15, 2013

I need to start just running a tape recorder when Isaac and I are bullshitting about games, because I feel like I already wrote a very detailed review of this but didn’t get any actual text for my troubles. >:|

Anyway, play this. It’s only two or three hours long, and you can probably get it for a fiver if you keep your eye on Steam / Humble sales. And it’s important to the conversation about where games-as-storytelling-vehicles are going and where they haven’t yet successfully gone.

I’m gonna try and condense the things I think came up in talking with various folk about this:

  • The layout of the house defeated my suspension of disbelief. It shouldn’t even be possible to get locked out of an entire wing like that (WTF! I would go OUT OF MY MIND living there), and the chronological/spatial mapping of the trash you’re picking up for clues makes it look like your parents and sister have been living in a nomadic camp that picks up and moves to a different room in the house every month or two. That’s demented.

    The game actually has an option to start with all the doors unlocked, and I’m tempted to say you should ignore the warning and enable it. I actually haven’t tried this, but I think it would make the house feel less empty and bizarre? It might also let the story emerge more naturally and disjointedly—it’s so simple in its outlines anyway that I don’t think spoilers are a concern. Just save the attic for last and you should be fine.

  • Very mixed feelings about the voiceover. On one hand, it feels like a compromise that sabotages the idea of uncovering a story through the environment and encourages laziness in thinking through certain implications. Other hand: the VA is very competent and her voice does add a lot to the atmosphere. And on the third hand, if you look at it the right way it’s not… really cheating? I guess? Because it’s all info Katie eventually has access to, but temporally shifted by an hour or two and spaced out? But I still dunno if I like that. If you don’t mind being experimented on, I’d love to hear from someone who played for the first time with Sam’s diary turned off.

  • Back on the house again: it’s too big. I realize it’s canonically, diegetically too big. But practically speaking, it seems impossible to make it feel like a lived-in environment. Too many empty identical writing desks and sideboards and the like. I get the feeling Fullbright could have built a much more immersive home, but the bigness was working against them.
  • The actual trash Katie spends her time picking up and looking at, though, that stuff is GREAT. Likewise the parsimony of her narrations/reactions to stuff.
  • The primary story is unsubtle in the way a story about teenagers falling in love for the first time kind of has to be, but there are some very satisfying details that help it stay real. It was hella cute and very good.

    The B, C, and D plots are quite subtle and sly. Well, B and C are sly. D is more on the crawly side of subtle, and TBH I didn’t figure out what was happening on my first time through.

    I’m actually not going to say anything more about the secondary plots, because they DO follow through on the idea of trash-only storytelling, and it’s interesting to see for yourself how well it does or doesn’t work.

  • You don’t have to put stuff back where you found it, and I pretty much left the house looking like 300 raccoons got in there. Throwing board games down the stairs, moving all the pens in the house to one room, leaving the water running. WATCH OUT PARENTS, I’m back from Europe and ready to FUCK SHIT UP.

  • It seems worth asking what a post-Gone-Home story game will look like. Did we learn anything illuminating, here? What, specifically? I think we did, but am not sure what yet.
  • Yes, the fact that there is now a (widely discussed!!) video game about coming to terms with your sexuality amidst ’90s Riot Grrl subculture is probably kind of a big deal for the breadth of the form.

Christine Love – Hate Plus

Video game. Aug 24, 2013

Hmm, my memory of how I felt about this game has gotten a bit hazy.

I think the original Analogue holds together a bit better and has a better story-shape. I also think Analogue was already complete without an explanation of the year 0 discontinuity. But there was a lot of good material in here.

I never finished the part with *Hyun-ae where you have to pause to make a cake (I wasn’t in the mood for cake), and I feel OK with that. In large part, this was *Mute’s game and Analogue was *Hyun-ae’s game.

I can’t shake the feeling that the tragic ending on *Mute’s path is the canonical ending. I don’t see another way out for her.

Finally, I remain kind of conflicted about VNs as a form. Love’s games are the only ones I’ve much enjoyed, so far, and even they’re kind of weird and awkward.

Yuletide sign-ups, w00t!

Oct. 20th, 2014 07:46 pm
[personal profile] kass
I just signed up for Yuletide! My requests this year are Toby Daye, The Golem and the Jinni, S, Death by Silver, Hild, and Orphan Black -- one tv show and five books, hmm. Also in looking over my requests I see that I seem to be unusually shippy / looking for happily-ever-afters. (Well. I'm kind of always looking for those. But this year more than most, it seems.)

I didn't offer as many fandoms as I have in years past, and I suspect I'll go back and edit my offers to include more things. But at least I've signed up. w00t!

(My letter, for those who are interested: follow the fake cut.)

Gratitudes

Oct. 20th, 2014 06:55 pm
[personal profile] kass
1. The AO3. OMG, how much do I love the Archive of Our Own. Where I can find fic to fit my yearnings. Because it's all tag-sorted. And also all of my stuff lives there. And it's easy to share things. And it is just the archive of my heart.

2. Yuletide. Which has completely transformed my experience of this whole time of year, from now straight through Boxing Day. There kind of are not words for how much I love Yuletide. It gives me something about December 25th which feels like it's mine. Oh, and it's made possible thanks to the AO3, because no other archive could handle 2000+ participants and zillions of fandoms and the matching involved in all of our many and varied requests.

3. Fanlore. Because when I forget things about fandom, someone else usually thought to write them down. And when I am fixated on a new fandom or pairing or character, if no one's written down the thing I love best, then I can write it down myself. Also there are remembrances there of fans who aren't alive anymore (sniff), and fanworks which are part of my history -- and fans and fanworks who are part of entirely different corners of fandom, and that's equally awesome.

4. Red wine. Because it's been a long day and now I have a big glass of red wine and am ensconced on my red couch and am content.

5. The OTW, which brings you three out of the four above items. They're having a seventh-anniversary membership drive (here's one of today's posts about it: Seven Years, Seven Wonders: Made in Fandom.) If you can spare US$10 or more, you can become a member or renew your membership for another year. And if you can give more than that, it'll help us (us = fandom) to continue to -- in [personal profile] astolat's immortal words in [personal profile] cesperanza's immortal words!!! -- "own the goddamned servers." ♥!
[personal profile] yhlee
- recent reading
I bailed on Wendy Thorpe Copley's Everyday Bento because the title LIES. I should have realized it from the cover [Amazon listing], which shows those cutesy bits of food done up in shapes and stuff. Let me tell you, I remember taking sandwiches cut out in the shape of hearts to school when I was in high school and it was embarrassing. Oh, Mom. :) Anyway, while I have developed an interest in bento (the boxes! adorable geometrical compartments!), I still hate cooking and want to do easy food, not complicated decorative preparations that will be wasted on the audience anyway.

Ann Leckie. Ancillary Sword. (This is the nonspoilery writeup; long, spoilery analysis here.) This is the sequel to Leckie's Ancillary Justice, and it is more complex, more ambitious, and aggressively more successful than its (already pretty good) prequel. It's like everything suddenly pulled together. (Not that I am privy to Leckie's writing process!)

Sword follows up on the events of Justice, but at heart it is an exploration of the foundational problems that plague the Radch. I can't say much more without additionally spoiling Justice. But it's worth reading Justice (which, again, was good, but not as good) to get to Sword.

- recent viewing
Hellsing Ultimate ep. 1. So back in college Joe and I watched the first Hellsing anime, which was both weirdly inappropriate, weirdly stylish, and gory as all get-out, and then later I got seven volumes into the manga before getting rid of it because I was afraid baby!lizard would stumble onto it (she was a climber) and be SCARRED FOR LIFE. Hellsing features vampires, gore, at least one Nazi werewolf, gore, loving and improbable portrayals of blasphemous (or blessed, depending) guns, gore, big-breasted female characters, gore, evil vs. evil, a crapsack universe, fanservice, gore, a demented portrayal of Catholics vs. Anglicans, gore, airships, gore, and...well, you get the idea. What I'm trying to say is that while I enjoy this for what it is--and indeed, all the versions of animanga Hellsing that I am familiar with advertise what they are up front, unrepentantly--it is not remotely in good taste.

My memories of the original Hellsing anime are hazy, but I seem to recall there being more filler and a rather unsatisfactory ending arc involving some kind of shaman making threats against Sir Integra Hellsing. (I believe it was [personal profile] londonkds who informed me that they get all the peerage title things wrong; or it might have been someone else, sorry my memory is so bad! As an American, I can't, er, tell the difference [edit] between nobility titles [end edit] without being explicitly reminded.) The manga was complete crack, but complete crack apparently building toward some kind of arc; unfortunately, since I bailed seven volumes in (there are apparently ten total?) I have no idea how that ended.

Anyway, Joe and I decided we were curious about this, so we gave it a try. This appears to be following more along the lines of the manga--which makes me hopeful that I will get a glimpse of the manga's ending--and is just as gory, cracky, and inappropriate as I thought it would be. But again, the show doesn't try to hide what it is, so I can deal. There are no characters so far that achieve any better than dark gray and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. But hey, it's only ten episodes (one hour each) so we will probably continue watching.
[personal profile] sovay
My poems "Sometimes the Birds, at Random" and "Last Letters" are now online at Through the Gate. It's a small issue, but a stellar one: mountain folklore by [livejournal.com profile] rose_lemberg, Antarctic photographs by [livejournal.com profile] selidor, sea-science katabasis by Jack Hollis Marr and a truthful crane wife by Brittany Warman and [livejournal.com profile] mariness on the bitter origins of sweet perfume. Notes are included. Go forth and read! Find some way to support this magazine; it is tiny and brilliant every time.

I am still sick and this cough refuses to clear off. But it is a beautiful sunny day and there is poetry. These are things to hold on to.

[edit] . . . and I just found out that my short story "In Winter" has been selected for reprint in Michael Matheson's The Humanity of Monsters (ChiZine, 2015).

That also makes me happy. (And I can't wait to see the ToC!)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
One apology can be found here.

Another apology can be found here.

For various reasons, my tolerance for hosting extensive flamewars is somewhat lower than it was two weeks ago, so if I think the conversation here is getting out of hand, I will lock comments down with no warning.

*yawn*

Oct. 20th, 2014 10:09 am
[personal profile] telophase
Toby and I went to a weekend-long LAN/boardgaming/hangout party friends of ours threw over in Dallas. A lot of games were played. And everyone got into the spirit...cut for cat, er, proof )

A weekend!

Oct. 20th, 2014 09:09 am
[personal profile] oracne
I accomplished my goals on the weekend, hooray.

1. I cleaned out my knapsack from last weekend's trip.

2. I wrote approximately 1500 words, less than I really wanted, but a lot more than nothing, and I'm trying not to beat myself up about it.

3. A very large load of laundry is hanging to dry. I have almost another full load waiting, but it's not quite full yet, so I am officially not behind. Until I change my sheets.

4. I got together with C. and we had a nice dinner and walked the new Schuykill River Boardwalk, which goes over the river for a distance, and had lovely twilight views of the clouds and the lights of the city skyline and bridges. It was very satisfying. She suggested we should go to the zoo sometime soon, and I haven't done that in absolutely ages.

5. And I watched Captain America with Younger Tot (aged 6), which she proclaimed was the best movie ever, except it had Too Much Romance and Not Enough Fighting. I ended up talking over most of the dialogue, explaining things and answering questions. I didn't explain WWII all that much, just explained there was a war in Europe and who were the good guys and who were the bad guys, and that Steve wanted to fight in the army so he could protect other people, and he thinks of other people before he thinks of his own safety. We didn't get into the discussing how that isn't the best choice for everyone in every circumstance, or more complex philophical issues. And we discussed how this wasn't real science, and they didn't really have that sort of thing before her grandparents were born and when they were babies. And why Dr. Erskine had to die for Plot Reasons, and that Bucky was going to come back in the next movie but he would think he was someone else and have trouble remembering Steve, which she found very affecting.

Myrrha

Oct. 20th, 2014 08:45 am
[personal profile] mariness
I woke up to the news that a new issue of Through the Gate Through the Gate is out, containing my little poem, Myrrha.

It's no secret that I love this little zine, which on every irregular appearance shines like a jewel. I highly recommend checking everything out here, which includes poems by Sonya Taaffe, Rose Lemberg, Michele Bannister, Brittany Warman and Jack Hollis Marr.

(no subject)

Oct. 20th, 2014 08:14 am
[personal profile] skygiants
I've been tackling a project at work recently that has to do with the Lindbergh kidnapping case, which is one of the reasons I've been waxing extremely nostalgic about one of my favorite childhood authors that nobody else has ever heard of: Anne Lindbergh, who I didn't realize until I was much older was actually the daughter of Charles and Anne Morrow. Which has no relevance to her books at all, really, except for the cognitive dissonance; Anne Lindbergh's books are charming and SUPER WEIRD eighties and nineties middle-grade fantasies that seem about a billion worlds away from the 1930s and controversies about airplanes and fascism.

My favorite -- which I've just reread -- is called Three Lives to Live. This book has actually been a huge influence on the way I write, and also the way I edit. It's written as protagonist Garet's 'autobiography' for a 7th-grade school project, which means about a third of the book is complaints about her English teacher criticizing her for not doing what "The Professional Writer" would do. At one point the teacher complains that Garet needs to use more active speech verbs than 'said'.

Garet's response is to rewrite the offending passage, like so:

"I wouldn't want to risk it. I bet you wouldn't either," I chirp.
"I would so," she blubbers.
"You would not," I yelp.
"How much do you want to bet?" she queries.
"I'll bet a million dollars," I coo.
"You don't have a million dollars," she yawns.
"Then I'll bet anything you like," I yap.
"You don't
have anything I like," she bellows, "so I guess I won't bet after all."
"Chicken!" I grin.


I THINK OF THIS EVERY TIME I'm about to recommend to someone that they vary their word choice in a dialogue section. There's a lot to be said for the invisible said!

(The seventh-grader whose autobiography involves a lot of bodice-ripping from a love-crazed duke suggests that Garet add 'breathed throatily' to her collection of speaking verbs. I love that seventh-grader.)

...meanwhile, the actual plot involves Garet's relationship with the rest of her family: her grandmother, whom she lives with, and her twin sister, Daisy, who isn't actually not her twin sister, she just came down the laundry chute one day a few months ago. Their grandmother refused to provide any information and insisted that Garet just had to adapt to having a sister in the house. Garet is not adapting to having a sister in the house. Daisy is prettier and smarter and weirder and gets EVERYTHING, including a canopy bed and a laptop computer, ugh! (Sidenote: the book was written in 1993, and I'd forgotten laptop computers were already invented then!)

Then about midway through there's the reveal that spoilers get hilariously weird below below! )

I had not forgotten how much I loved this book, but it's nice to be confirmed in how much I love this book! I'm kind of sad now that it's much too late to nominate it for Yuletide. MAYBE NEXT YEAR.

Off the Island for Another Year

Oct. 20th, 2014 07:15 am
[personal profile] malkingrey
It was a good workshop. ("No ER visits!" was our watchword, going in, and we met that goal.) Good students, good student work, and the Island weather gave us a little bit of everything: some coolish days, some warmish days, a day of grey rain and wind, and a starry night with glowing jellyfish.

I was somewhat startled, though, when I got asked to wrangle the workshop business meeting afterward. Apparently the job I did last year (when the meeting had some fairly fraught stuff to deal with) was good enough that everybody said, "Let's get Malkin to do it again!" or words to that effect.

I tell them that I approach the job like the Emperor Tiberius: "Let them hate me, so long as they fear me," but they all seem to think that I'm joking. But seriously, my goal with the business meeting is to get it done with as expeditiously as possible so we can all go out to dinner, and in pursuit of that goal, I am ruthless.

Dinner afterward is usually at The Wharf in Edgartown, a place I highly recommend. If you can spare the $45 bucks or so that it costs, their Lobster in the Rough is a dish that can in fact feed more than one person, or provide dinner and a full meal's worth of take-away for one. (Lobster, mussels, sausage, tomatoes, onions, mashed potatoes or rice -- I forget which -- served up in dish bigger than your head.) Well worth sitting through a business meeting for.
[personal profile] sovay
1. Today was the last MIT swapfest of the season (although I did not attend, due to the hacking cold I have developed over the last week), so, having been published in April, my poem "The Etruscan Prince" is now free to read online with the rest of the previous issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone. It was directly inspired by the discovery in September 2013 of a seventh-century tomb in Tarquinia whose occupants were identified by their grave goods—a spear for the husband, a jewelry box for his wife—before further analysis of the remains revealed the objects should have been assigned the other way round.

2. Two or three years ago, I caught the first ten minutes of a peculiar little movie called The Black Book (1949) on TCM. I was exhausted and couldn't stay up for the rest; I remembered it ever since because it was a perfect film noir, just taking place during the French Revolution. I found it last night on YouTube. The quality is shaky, but the film is just as weird and compulsively watchable as I remembered. The setting is a remixed version of events building to the Thermidorian Reaction, the last paranoid threshings of the Reign of Terror, but everything from its dark, dramatic lighting to its cynical outlook to its stylized, contemporary dialogue is noir, right down to the damaged hero and the ambiguously faithful old flame. Give him a century and a half and he might be a G-man in the company of gangsters, but on July 26, 1794, Charles D'Aubigny (Robert Cummings) is a Lafayette loyalist gone undercover as a notoriously bloodthirsty prosecutor in order to get close to Robespierre (Richard Basehart), who has just denounced Danton. Charged with recovering the "black book" of the title—Robespierre's private hit list, fatally incriminating if its contents were known—D'Aubigny hopes instead to turn it over to Robespierre's rivals, but his only contact with the underground is the scornfully patriotic Madeleine (Arlene Dahl), from whom he parted some years previously under mutually embittering circumstances, and nobody trusts anybody in the mercurial frenzy of the Terror.

The Black Book is one of the B-pictures that turn their lack of budget into an occasion for atmosphere; it has to create its revolutionary Paris mostly through small rooms and shadows and the results are appropriately claustrophobic. Someone is always looking over the characters' shoulders, even if it's just the audience. You never know who's listening and you never know what they'll do with what they hear. ([livejournal.com profile] handful_ofdust, who watched the movie before me, likened it to "Stalinist Russia with hoop-skirts.") Cummings isn't a poor leading man, although I would have preferred an actor who could more convincingly embody the nuances of his impersonation; because he takes on the role of "the Butcher of Strasbourg" so early in the film, we never have as clear a sense as we might of D'Aubigny himself, the secret agent heartbroken into cynicism and recklessness, and I wish I believed it was a symbolic move on the part of the script. Dahl is very good in her early, mistrustful, provocative scenes, but she fades into the plot the more it aligns her romantically with D'Aubigny. Norman Lloyd has a nice small turn as Tallien, Madeleine's trigger-happy fellow-conspirator who almost shoots D'Aubigny just for talking to Saint-Just; Beulah Bondi is an indomitable grandmother. The film really belongs to its historical players. So they're the villains; they're still the ones everyone from Stanisława Przybyszewska to Hilary Mantel has a different angle on. Basehart's Robespierre is an icy fanatic with ambitions of despotism who styles himself the incarnation of the people's will and genuinely seems to believe it, which makes him scarier than Jess Parker's smoothly sinister (and unusually heterosexual) Saint-Just. Arnold Moss as Citizen Fouché enters the picture at the six-minute mark and steals every scene he's in, one of those reprehensible charmers whose eye for the main chance is as genial as it is ruthless. I love his deep, amused voice; it's as confiding and trustworthy as his character is not. You'd think he was a hero if you heard him in the dark. Instead, he sits in Robespierre's own chair with his feet on Directoire marble, a saturnine man with an ironic smile and contemptuous eyes, and ticks off his secret policeman's virtues on his fingertips with a dancing quill: "Where in all Paris would you find anybody as disloyal, unscrupulous, scheming, treacherous, cunning, or deceitful as I? Oh, you'd have to do some tall looking, Max." The ending is a deliberate historical stinger and much more ambiguous than the celebratory fireworks suggest.

Worth your ninety minutes, is what I'm saying here.

3. There were beautiful clouds over Boston this afternoon. Winter clouds, granite-banked against a milk-blue sky that flushed sea-rose over their edges and changed the skyline to somewhere strange. They flamed when the sun set. They looked like shadows on the sky.

I made a point of trying to give myself a day without huge amounts of stress. It was nice.

Dear Yulewriter 2014

Oct. 19th, 2014 07:45 pm
[personal profile] kass
Dear Yulewriter,

Thank you so much for writing me a story! I love all of these things and I know that whatever you write for me, I will love it too.

In general I am a big fan of: chosen family, happy endings, competence, characters being awesome, theology, snark and banter, kindness. I love romance; I love yearning (especially when it's fulfilled in the end); I'm happy with m/m or m/f or OT3 or pretty much anything that feels right to you given the characters at hand.

Write something that makes you happy, and it will make me happy. (I'm also happy with anything from gen to smut, though I like for smut to reveal something about characterization, about who the character is and what they yearn for.)

Please, no betrayal or unquenchable angst or people being awful to each other or grisly death or anything like that. There's enough of that in RL; on Yuletide morning I want something that makes me smile. Thank you kindly.

For those who're interested, here are the details of my requests -- nothing beyond what I wrote when I signed up, though, so Yulewriter, this won't tell you anything new.

In closing: yay Yuletide! Yay you! Thank you so much!

Kass

Beneath the cut: my requests - Toby Daye, Golem and the Jinni, S, Death by Silver, Hild, Orphan Black )

A theory on Twelve (thus far)

Oct. 19th, 2014 04:18 pm
[personal profile] kass
I said this as a comment on a recent post by [personal profile] laurashapiro and decided to expand it slightly and post it here too, in case any of y'all had thoughts in response.

So the Twelfth Doctor can be a bit abrasive, Y/Y? and I've been thinking about how to work with that. I mean, I realize he's not the first Doctor to be brusque, but Moffat seems to be giving us a Doctor who's actively trying to ignore the social skills he's picked up over two thousand years of living among other beings.

It occurs to me that one way to read this is to assume that the Doctor went through all of the stages of denial and anger and grief and finally acceptance when it came to his own death at the end of what he thought was his last incarnation. At the end of his run, Ten was really not ready to go. But by the time Eleven was done, he had made his peace with being done. He'd had those extra hundreds of years protecting Christmas and slowly aging, and he had accepted what he could accept and let go of the rest. And then he regenerated. Which is fabulous, obviously! But it means that he's now having to deal with all of the unresolved emotional stuff he'd basically decided to ignore or let go of because he was going to die and it wasn't worth being upset about.

It would be a plausible explanation, I think, for why he's being such an ass. Like a terminal patient who says his goodbyes and resigns himself to the things he isn't going to get to do or have or become, and then against all odds survives the illness, and thereafter goes through a period of painful readjustment where he's just not dealing well with all of the emotional stuff of continuing life. That is a thing that happens to humans, for sure. Why couldn't it also happen to a Time Lord? *pondering*

I doubt that this is actually Moffat's reasoning, though it might possibly be Capaldi's; regardless, it may now be my head-canon. Thoughts?

I love fans.

Oct. 19th, 2014 01:06 pm
[personal profile] kass
Someone nominated Peter Capaldi's Eyebrows Anthropomorfic as a Yuletide fandom. (Two characters: right eyebrow, left eyebrow.)

Oh, fandom. ♥

Book Arts: Making Handmade Books

Oct. 19th, 2014 12:01 pm
[personal profile] batwrangler
I am making up models for the projects in Alisa Golden's Making Handmade Books.

The first eight projects (X Book, X Book with Pockets, Shorts Book/Ox Plough pamplet, Pants Book Simple Accordion, Pants Book Simple Accordion with Tunnel, Snake Book, Storybook Theatre, and Twist Card), many of which I've made before (though I can't find my previous models just now), all worked up very quickly and easily.

I got halfway through the ninth, the Brush Book, and couldn't figure out what was going on with the binding. After reading the instructions a few times and then experimenting on my own for a bit, I decided to turn to the internet for help and found Alisa's own tips post which clarified the process considerably.

ETA: I also completed the Venetian Blind Book, T-Cut Book, House Card, Little Room Book, Guest Book, and Crown Binding. The Crown Binding is especially interesting and, due to its extra width at the binding, might make for a nice album. I'm mostly using plain 8.5 x 11 paper for the models, so they're not much to look at, which accounts for the lack of pictures.

Pondering

Oct. 19th, 2014 11:52 am
[personal profile] kass
As I'm sure everyone who's interested has already seen on the yuletide_admin comm, Yuletide 2014 is open for business!

I've hit the point where I've been doing this fic exchange for so long that I can't remember when I started or what fandom(s) I wrote in the early years. I did some digging on my computer and found drafts of my Yuletide 2003 story (Unspoken, Jesus/Judas) -- I thought perhaps there was a 2002 story which I was missing, but I checked the Yuletide entry on Fanlore (thank God for our external memory!) and found out that 2003 was, in fact, the first year. There were about 300 participants that year. Fanlore says there were 2,100 participants in 2009; does anyone know, has it gotten bigger in the last five years, or have we more or less leveled out there?

One way or another, wow. :-)

Anyway. I don't know what I want to request this year. (Nor what I want to offer.) I am pondering. Right now I'm inclined to ask for a mashup of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and "Waiting for Godot," but I suspect that mostly has to do with recent household entertainment. *grin*


ETA: oh, wow, and Festivids signups are open too! An embarrassment of riches. <3

the most wonderful time of the year

Oct. 19th, 2014 11:01 am
[personal profile] musesfool
Dear yuletide writer person:

First of all, I want to say a big thank you for agreeing to write a story for me. I love all the characters I've chosen, so I will be happy with a story for any request. If you've already got a story in mind, then go for it! I'm sure it will be fabulous. These are all just possible jumping off points if you feel the need.

Since it's entirely possible we don't know each other, I figured I'd give you some basics about me and some tips on the kinds of things I like/dislike in stories:

Where to find me: I am [archiveofourown.org profile] victoria_p/[archiveofourown.org profile] musesfool on AO3, and [tumblr.com profile] cacchieressa on tumblr, plus I have a recs journal at [personal profile] unfitforsociety.

Likes )

Dislikes )

Mostly, I want the characters to sound like themselves and have fun hanging out with each other, because I love hanging out with them. Most of the characters I've chosen this year are friends, family (found or blood or work), and/or partners, and I enjoy basking in their friendship, especially if it's bantery and draws on their history together.

If it can be described by the phrase "hijinks ensue," you're probably nailing it. In all cases, if you have an idea that uses all the characters I've requested, that's awesome, but if you don't/can't, that's okay, too. Certainly my suggestions include ideas that only use two or three characters at a time, so don't feel like you need to shoehorn someone in if it doesn't work with what you're writing.

To sum up, in case that was a bit tl;dr: partnership/friendship + shenanigans = YAY!

In terms of specifics, I feel like I am really just reiterating my requests in different words (actual request details are in italics, addenda in plain text), but maybe this will be helpful (note: these are in alpha order by fandom; I really do want all of them, so don't worry about which one you match on - I will be happy with any of them!):

Blue Beetle: Jaime Reyes, Brenda Del Vecchio, Paco Tejas
details )

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Terry Jeffords, Raymond Holt, Amy Santiago, Rosa Diaz
details )

Enlisted: Jill Perez, Donald Cody, Cindy Park, Tanisha Robinson
details )

The Middleman: The Middleman, Wendy Watson, Noser, Ida
details )

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: Tobias Butler, Prudence Stanley, Jane Ross, Dot Williams
details )

Montmaray Journals – Michelle Cooper: Sophie FitzOsborne, Veronica FitzOsborne, Henry FitzOsborne
details )

Thank you again for writing for me! I hope you have a lot of fun and write something that makes you happy. I'm sure your story will be awesome.

<3

me

***

On Travel Light

Oct. 18th, 2014 11:50 pm
[personal profile] roadrunnertwice
But man, imagine you're one of those men from Marob when Halla appears. The weight of that blinding divine attention on your cause, and the even heavier weight of all that happens next. :( :( :( :( :(
[personal profile] roadrunnertwice

Naomi Mitchison – Travel Light (Re-read)

Sept 30, 2014

I loaned my copy of Travel Light to Katie a long time ago, and I asked for it back when I was in town for her wedding. “Uh… I thought that was a gift, not a loaner,” she said. “And actually we had to buy another copy in addition, because the first one went missing for a while and we wanted to make sure we could still re-read it if we had one loaned out.”

So that’s my sister’s review of this book! And then I bought two more copies when I got back to Portland, so I guess that’s mine.

Notes this re-read: I remembered the way narrative time decompresses over the course of the book, but I’d forgotten how it re-compresses again at the end. Very thematically on-point.

Those poor men from Marob. :(

Insert deep thought about the preconditions for correct use of omniscient narration here.

YO, how effortlessly precise was it when Halla’s fireproofing came up again at the end, and right as Halla starts to realize how the world has changed around her we all behold what started as a lighthearted fairytale flourish and is now revealed as a miracle?

The changing of names, some resinously sticky and some sliding off at the first rain: Halla Bearsbairn, Halla Heroesbane, Halla Pathfinder, Halla Godsgift.

Mitsuru Adachi – Cross Game

Comics, re-read. July 2014

I know I just reviewed this a few months ago, but it’d been like a year since I’d read it.

I’m not gonna say anything new here, so here are some panel snaps.

Madeline L’engel and Hope Larson – A Wrinkle in Time

Comics. Mar 21, 2014

I had forgotten nearly everything about the book, and remembered that Hope Larson had done this comics adaptation a few years back (with colors by [twitter.com profile] jemale!), so I checked it out.

I’d remembered this series going Deep Weird into Christian apocrypha in the later books (hey Many Waters), but I was surprised by how religious it is even at the start. Well, like I said, I’d forgotten the whole thing, but I also probably didn’t really notice as a kid; I had a history of being kind of oblivious and just rolling with whatever.

Liked the art on this adaptation; Charles Wallace looks appropriately alien, and the atmosphere when the family is hanging out in the kitchen during the storm is pretty great.

Something about the story made me uneasy, this time around. It’s not just the religious stuff, it’s something I’m having a hard time putting a finger on. Something to do with a shadow ideology of Specialness or Smartness, that I would have accepted at age 9 but have since come to be really really wary of. I dunno; I’d have to comb back through and dismantle the dialogue to have an actual rumble with anyone about this, so I’ll just leave it at “uneasy.”

"Three phrases that always crop up"

Oct. 19th, 2014 12:01 am
[personal profile] rosefox
I've been slowly going through the Headspace meditation pack on anxiety, and one of the things it emphasizes is not trying to get rid of anxiety but trying to change one's relationship with it.

Similarly, I think I need to change my relationship with social media. And that requires me to think about what that relationship has looked like and currently looks like, and what I would want it to look like in an ideal world.

-----

Needs that social media currently meets really well:

1. Fun. I read a handful of comics through DW; I follow a number of really wonderful weird, funny, cute, and random Twitter accounts that brighten my day. Even if I stopped using social media for actual socializing, I'd still employ it as an aggregator of niftiness.

2. Chronicling my life. Most of this has been happening on Twitter of late, but I'm finding that increasingly unsatisfying, and drifting back toward more long-form (searchable, taggable) journaling. Either way, though, public online autobiographical narration works far far better for me than any private diary ever has.

Hilariously, neither of these things is actually social. One is almost pure input, and the other is almost pure output (with occasional replies/comments on both sides). But social media coincidentally does them really well!

Needs that social media meets but with some problems:

3. Keeping up with news and gossip. The news is almost always bad news, and there's a lot of it, and I'm finding bad news especially taxing right now--but I also don't want to be totally out of the loop, and if a close friend is personally having a hard time I want to know about it and be able to support them. I think I want a weekly newsletter/digest version of my social media feeds, where I can mostly not think about it and just check in occasionally to find out what's going on. Alas, no such thing exists.

Needs that social media no longer meets well:

4. Building and maintaining connections with people I know. A lot of people have abandoned LJ/DW, despite periodic attempts to revive them. Twitter's signal-to-noise ratio is increasingly poor. And I've already, with no particular agenda in mind, started finding other ways to stay in touch with people. I have biweekly Skype dates with Miriam and [livejournal.com profile] karenbynight. [livejournal.com profile] mrissa sent me a random email a few weeks ago that's turned into a lovely leisurely back-and-forth chat about whatever's on our minds. [livejournal.com profile] grahamsleight often IMs me. I hang out on IRC with J and X. Perhaps it's time to actively seek similar alternative routes of direct connection with the people I would miss most if I were to step away from social media altogether (which I don't plan to do, but it's a useful way of prioritizing).

Needs I used to meet with social media but don't currently have:

5. Getting to know people I don't already know. I have very little room in my life for new people, and I'm okay with that.

6. Social activism, i.e., advocating for change within my communities (as opposed to local/regional/national/global politics). It frankly feels too scary to be a loudmouth right now. I know that drinking from the firehose of bad news is influencing that feeling, so once I'm no longer swimming in other people's misery I might be able to regroup and figure out new ways to be an activist, but at the moment I'm not inclined to try.

-----

Looking at that list, I think the major clash is between items 3 and 4. Twitter's biggest problem by far is that news and personal chatter all happen in the same place, almost inextricably. And if I can't handle the news, I don't get the personal chatter. (LJ/DW doesn't have this problem because I don't hang out on it the way I do on Twitter. I used to, but no one updates that much anymore. Plus the balance on LJ/DW is tilted much more toward the personal than toward the news, and I find it much easier to scroll past things I don't want to read.)

Fortunately, there are some technological solutions to some of these problems. Here's my plan for getting social Twitter without newsy Twitter:

* Switching from Hootsuite to Tweetdeck so that I can mute keywords, combine columns, and mute RTs on entire columns.
* Creating a "people I read regularly" list on @rosefox. Right now I use my @rjfprivate follow list for this, but I think I want the option of expanding my reading without giving more people access to my locked account.
* Only following people who mostly tweet about their personal lives and chat with other people I follow.

I've made the switch to Tweetdeck, and turned off RTs and image previews on my @rjfprivate home feed. The rest I can do when looking at unfiltered Twitter (so as to pick out the people I want to move to the daily-read list) doesn't make my heart pound.

As for getting the news and gossip I'm now going to be missing out on... honestly, I think I'll be okay. Anything huge and can't-miss will be discussed by and among the people I follow, and I'll see it there. I have some friends who occasionally email or IM me with "Have you heard?", and I can encourage those friends to do so more often if there's something they think I'll really want to know. And otherwise I'll just be somewhat less wired in than I have been, and that's okay.

I have hit the stage of dizzy exhaustion where I have to keep telling myself that it's tiredness and anxiety, not vertigo, so I'm going to wrap this up, take taurine, and go to bed while it's still dark out for a change.

Ancillary Sword: The all-piercing gun

Oct. 19th, 2014 12:11 am
[personal profile] yhlee
Ancillary Sword: The all-piercing gun

Thoughts on Ann Leckie's Ancillary Sword, behind a cut because the whole thing is spoilery.

(The short version, not all that related to what's behind the cut, is that Sword is a better novel than its prequel, I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I quite recommend it.)

(Note that I haven't reread Ancillary Justice since last winter.)

warning, 7,000 words of essay behind cut and oh do my wrists hurt )

well, there goes today's productivity

Oct. 18th, 2014 05:09 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
I'm over 2,000 words into a blogmetapostthing on Ancillary Sword with parenthetical cites and I'm only on p.62. Someone send help. Or hot chocolate. Or lolcats!

Meanwhile, I crave Copic markers but they're $7 apiece at the local Hobby Lobby, no. I'll save up for a set of Ciaos or something. Or give up and go back to digital coloring, since I haven't had the chance to play much with Manga Studio.

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