She was ninety-eight, and we're told she went quickly and painlessly, so we're grateful for that. But it's still a shock, and hard for Geoff and his family; although she'd been tired and dizzy lately, she still had most of her faculties, and nobody expected the heart attack. Geoff and others had lunch with her yesterday, but I was at home working through aspects of a Difficult Thing.
She was the magnetic north of her family. If I'm counting correctly, she had four children, fourteen grandchildren, and fifteen great-grandchildren, but I may be forgetting some...
brainwane was in my dream last night. I had just launched another beta of Firefox (which i am actually in the middle of twice a week in real life, thanks, literal dreams). We were hanging out in her driveway overlooking a canal with little boats in it, talking deeply about things. She had the same scooter as me for some reason. I suddenly realized my beta release had a giant crash caused by a mixed content policy bug I had just uplifted before the build. So in the dream I was going "hang on brainwane I want to hear this story but I just have to email (*specific person who actually exists and works on that project*) about the bug and turn off updates. Typing behaved in the wonky way it does in dreams but I managed to read the bug and send the email!! I think it is hilarious that I dreamed about the feelings of regret of having accepted a patch for uplift without requiring enough testing beforehand in late beta. ok, my brain.... !
Then we went inside to cook dinner together and I folded some loads of her laundry on the couch as we kept talking. It was very cozy and domestic. Can't remember what we were rambling about though.
*It's a big canvas tote bag printed with pink grapefruit slices and it says "Pucker Up" on the front. I think the actual name of the bag is "Pucker Up, Francis." Whoever Francis is. *hands*
In other news, last night - as I have for much of the summer - I wrestled with the "do I watch something new or do I reread/rewatch something I already know I like" dilemma for a while, and then cued up the first episode of Stranger Things on Netflix, since I've heard so many good things about it, especially since I was 13 in 1983! It is my era! These kids are my people!
I enjoyed it, and I thought they got the ambiance right (and the Spielbergian references, too), though I grew up in Queens, not small-town Indiana. Also it's a little weird to see Winona Ryder in the mom role. But I liked it enough that I will continue, though I thought one episode was good for last night, since it was Sunday, and did require some comfort reading afterwards. Though I'm sure I'll want to talk about it as I watch, I'm not planning to marathon it all at once (maybe one or two episodes a night? depending?), so please don't spoil me!
2. I took my clean laundry off the drying racks. Still haven't managed to put it away, though.
3. I helped Ms. 8 pick out a new pair of sneakers.
4. I ate shaved ice at the new Taiwanese dessert place on 40th Street. Fans of "Game of Thrones" will be amused to learn it is called "Winterfell."
5. I emptied out a TBR box! One bag of romances is ready for giveaway to a work colleague when she finishes the previous bag, and another pile went into a box marked "free" that I put on the street. By evening, the free books and the box were gone. Next up, I want to leave a few in the Little Free Library at 16th and Pine. It's a painted and repurposed newspaper box.
I also decided that I would ask a used bookstore if they could transfer trade-in credit from me to Books Through Bars or some similar charity. Credit for myself defeats the purpose of having many fewer books in the end.
Prompt: "mail-in libations." This is a follow-up to "The City of Cherry Blossoms."
The City of Hungry Trees
A long time ago, a great famine struck the Land That Once Was Two. Just the winter before, two nations had become united when a councilor's son and a general's daughter were wedded to each other. The grapes withered on the vines, however, and the grasses grew wan and weak, and dust blew through the parched fields. People took to gathering the eggs even of wrens and sparrows. Some died eating mushrooms that they didn't recognize. Others sold their smallest children to the flesh-traders so the rest of the family could eat.
One such child was sold from her village before her parents gave her a name. In that part of the country, the tradition was to give healthy children mockery-names like "Long-Nose" or "Clubfoot" until they reached their twelfth birthday, so that evil spirits would think them deformed and pass them by. In this case, however, the parents had simply named her "One-Arm," for she had, indeed, come into the world with one arm.
Her parents had not received much money for her. One-Arm did not dwell on this. She was child enough to miss her parents, but pragmatist enough to realize that she would not be welcomed if she ran back home. She did, however, take advantage of the fact that her shackles were too large--she was small for her age--to escape in the night. After all, the missing hand didn't impede her ability to run. And she guessed, correctly, that the flesh-traders would not look too hard for someone worth so little coin.
She passed through towns and begged for spare rice and water. Few people had anything to offer her. But she sang as she went, and shared what little she had with the magpies that chattered in the streets. What she could not have known is that magpies are notorious gossips, but they are gossips with good hearts. Soon all the birds of the Land That Once Was Two knew of One-Arm, and they, in their turn, began to bring her small berries, or dandelion greens, or sorrel.
The townsfolk muttered that she was a witch, and she fled their torches. But there was one place yet for her to go. One of the cities in the Land That Once Was Two had a curse upon it, and only the poorest and most desperate lived there. Because she had nothing to lose, One-Arm headed there.
So it was that One-Arm came to the dark gates of the City of Hungry Trees. In years past the trees had devoured the city's attackers. For a time, the city's people had poured out offerings of rice wine and honey at their roots, in thanks for their service. But as generations passed, people came to fear that the trees' hunger would grow, and it became more and more difficult to convince anyone to bear the libations, until at last no one fed the trees. In this time of famine, the trees' leaves hung brown and yellow upon the branches, and they showed no sign of flowering.
Here, too, were magpies, and they told One-Arm the old story of the trees. One-Arm looked at the trees and thought of how beautiful they must have been when blossoms crowned them. And she decided to bring an offering of her own.
One-Arm went from door to door in the City of Hungry Trees, and asked for offerings that she might bring them to the withered cherry trees. Some turned her away, and some laughed. But others remembered the old story themselves, and while they dared not brave the trees themselves, they were willing enough to give her honeycomb or dried persimmon or flasks of old sour wine.
It took One-Arm many trips to make her offerings, for she could only carry so much at a time, even with the basket that one particularly thoughtful person had given her. But she persevered, and as she fed the trees, each one straightened, its leaves greening; and each one brightened with pink buds.
She was dismayed, at the end, to discover that she did not have enough to feed the very last tree. The spirit-of-the-tree woke and emerged in the shape of a thin youth. It asked, "Did you bring nothing for me?"
"I did not mean to leave you hungry," One-Arm said. "Eat my name, then, for it is all I have left."
"Keep your name," said the spirit-of-the-tree. "You have borne it well. Your kindness is nourishment enough for me." And the spirit-of-the-tree vanished, but the tree itself was the only one in the city to blossom fully.
I have totally progressed in Pokemon Go! Around Level 10 I did the Lucky Egg + Mass Evolution combo and went up to Level 13.
When I went to Singapore last weekend, I was expressly forbidden to play by my dad but I used mall wifi here and there. A friend also generously let me hop onto his hotspot (he has more data per month than he could ever use) at some point, and I felt bad when Pokemon starting spawning on my phone and not his. Good haul, though. I added a lot more to my Pokedex, and yesterday when I went to the Marina Bay Sands Shoppes, I finally caught a Pikachu. There was one more Pokemon which I wanted to add to the Pokedex but I was already late for lunch with my hostess so I skedaddled home instead.
It was a really marvelous weekend! My hostess is a friend and former worker of my dad's, and her daughter just got back from Australia doing an English degree, so we had lots to talk about. They're very churchy people tho so we didn't spend much time together. (Also their apartment was right between two Pokestops, so I spent a lot of time harvesting.)
On Saturday I went to have brunch with jolantru, and two others came to join us, Christopher Hwang and SEAsteampunk contributor Timothy Dimacali!! Chris had to leave us after lunch, but Timothy joined us at the fish spa :D
I went back to my hostess' place at Red Hill for a rest, and then went to have dinner with delfinuum (she is so smol!), and we played Pokemon Go in Raffles City for a while until I ran out of Wifi usage time. So we went to the Singapore Night Fest since it was nearby and ended up marveling at Nyonya embroidery and beadwork in the Peranakan Museum.
Yesterday I woke early and had breakfast with my hostess, and they were going to be at church until noon which left me two hours on my lonesome. I was feeling kinda tired so I only left at 11am and wandered to Marina Bay Sands to find out how to get to the Observation Deck. Took some pictures (oh, I have an Instagram now, because of the smartphone; I aim to be one of those insufferable selfie-takers) and went to the shopping mall side where I proceeded to catch Pokemon, just because I could.
The GPS is really wonky in Singapore, though. I wandered further than I actually was unless I was on the move. Kinda interesting, and I don't really want to complain too much because it means my 10km egg hatched earlier than expected (Electabuzz!).
I have to say that highway Pokestops are very interesting and fruitful places! I caught a Clefable on the way home :D Also it's fascinating what random things Ingress agents have decided should be portals... most of them don't actually take pictures of the stops themselves but random crap around it like... water towers. My bus was also caught in a traffic jam and I figured opening up Pokemon Go would make the jam go quicker.
This morning I decided to see how Map My Walk would interact with Pokemon Go! Because I wanted to hatch a buncha eggs all at once. (Three!) Turns out it doesn't work well... I think the GPS is suspended a little whenever catching a pokemon, and it doesn't register on the Walk app. So I had a few straight lines where there shouldn't have been because of the pause in GPS data. And if I'm not flicking between the two regularly the route doesn't quite register on the Walk app. I'm gonna try to experiment a bit more with this though, because I would really like to record my Pokemon hunts.
My dad's traveling until tomorrow night and I really want to go Poketrawling with him at least someplace further than the nearby lake or shops once before I leave for the States, so hopefully this will be a thing.
(Of course, I'm doing this at the same time that Imzy is starting to try to find itself, but whatever works - I don't see DW going away any time soon, nor my use of it for current purpose. Oh, I also created a community over there in the silveraspen name, since that appears to be their version of a personal blog. Everything is community-oriented there, it seems. It's an interesting blend of approaches, and will be fun to watch it develop.)
Anyway, back to content creation. Part of how I self-identify is as a writer, but wow, I am one sadly out-of-practice writer these days for anything not work-related. In fact, I'm a bit out of practice with certain types of work-related writing too, so I figure it can't hurt to take on a bit more regular of an approach to posting as a way to get back in gear, right?
I'm also taking another run (semi-literally) at increasing my level of physical fitness. I'm not going to hit my New Year's goal of a marathon this year, but I would like to finish out the year comfortably back in race-level shape for training, at least. But given how out of the habit I've gotten, I'm starting with a simple commitment to myself: I will do some form of physical activity every single day. Clarifying terms & definitions - "physical activity" means something more than the day-to-day routine of office and academic life, and must include conscious intent.
(Deciding to spend half an hour hunting Pokemon on foot through the park qualifies, by the way. :)
If anyone wants to play along with this particular self-development adventure, feel free! The more the merrier, and all that sort of thing.
(Crossposted to silveraspen.)
If your device isn't rooted, you'll want to use the Helium app (free, but you'll have to get the resulting files off your device by going into your file manager of choice and sharing them to email or the cloud; it will back up to cloud storage if you buy the app). This is a little fiddly to deal with, unfortunately; among other things, it requires you to hook your device back up to your computer whenever you restart Android. But it does work for Zen Koi--I tested it by transferring my game data from my tablet to my phone successfully.
Note: any app data backup, as far as I can tell, only works for data associated with the primary user of the Android device. If the game is being played on a restricted account or even a regular account that isn't the one that was originally set up, you can't get the data off.
(I have no idea what the situation on iOS is.)
So, yeah, I'm kind of forgetting how to LJ/DW. Like, that I should post things that might be of interest to my circle/friendlist.
lady_ganesh and her daughter came to visit me and The Mr. as part of a trip to tour the DC/Baltimore area. Mostly we showed off our town, [the People's Republic of] Takoma Park.
I had intended eating dinner in town as part of the total Tacky Park experience, but The Mr. wooed our visitors away from the hyper-local joints in favor of A & J, a favorite of his (and mine, too) up in Rockville, the county seat: about a 25-minute drive. This is a place that serves authentic northern Chines dim sum: lots of noodle dishes (including ones with wonderful housemade noodles) and none of the bready buns that most people associate with dim sum. They also (obviously) serve dim sum in the evening, unlike most places in the area.
It was a lovely visit.
Words cannot express how grateful I am for the kind and supportive words of friends, though. Thank you.
Yesterday we saw a production of Noel Coward's Private Lives that was cross-cast: men played the female roles, and women played the male. I thought it worked very well; so much of the play was concerned with gender roles already that the cross-casting underlined the extent to which they're arbitrary. (It occurs to me that the play may not have been as "concerned with gender roles" in 1930 as it feels today, now that the roles that were taken for granted then have been so challenged and undermined and rewritten. Just the repeated mentions of who divorced or would divorce whom were reminders of how different things were before no-fault divorce!)
I was a bit exasperated by the the time it took a lot of the audience to get over their tee-hee oh-my-goodness reaction to the cross-casting; through the first act, every time one of the couples kissed there would be a stifled explosion of choked giggles. It didn't help that the men (playing women) were both much taller than the women (playing men). (It also didn't help that the two women sitting next to me in the audience would Not. Shut. Up. They so have places reserved in the special level of hell, oh my god.)
Overall, Geoff and I, and my sister- and brother-in-law, enjoyed the play a lot and found it definitely hilarious, but also depressing, because the characters were all, in the end, such tiresomely awful people...
I picked up Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps' Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley partly because Amazon has my number, and partly because it's about developing situational awareness and therefore fell under Writing Research for Revenant Gun. In fact, I wish I'd known about this book earlier. But it's not too late for it to be useful to me, as one of the major characters in Revenant Gun supposedly has very good situational awareness.
The premise behind Left of Bang is that it's better to prevent bad situations before they happen than to react to them after they have. If you visualize the timeline running from left (before) to right (after), the "bang" is the event and "left of bang" is prevention before the event has a chance to happen. This material was developed by US Marines, so it's written from that point of view, including the left-is-past-right-is-future orientation of the American/English writing system. However, while a lot of examples are drawn from recent American experiences in the Middle East, there are also examples drawn from civilian incidents.
The book discusses the importance of quickly establishing baselines in the following domains: kinesics (body language), biometric cues, proxemics, geographics (patterns of motion within an area), iconography, and atmospherics. Once a baseline has been established, clusters (generally, three signs) of anomalous signs can be identified as a cue toward action. Action is context-dependent. For a Marine, it might be Kill, Capture, or Contact; for a civilian in most circumstances, they recommend something like Run, Hide, or Fight.
I note in passing that my situational awareness is pretty terrible but I probably look suspicious for my habit of periodically checking rooftops (there is a story behind this) and checking my six.
Beyond obvious real-life applications, other writers who have characters with situational awareness may find this of interest. I found it well-written and well-organized, and am glad I picked it up. (daidoji_gisei, based on your interests, I think you will find this useful, and recommend it to you in particular.)
More relevantly to my writing project, I am grateful that I got some things right by instinct. That being said, it's good to have some confirmation and to have more specific information to work from. (The character in question is a former assassin, among other things.)
There's a bibliography with some interesting-looking articles cited; I figure I'll hit that up when I have an internet connection. (I'm typing up this book report in a text file offline while sitting in Little Wars--I got some writing done earlier.)
Thank you to the generous person who donated this book.
(I am trying to complete 2 work-related strategic projects by Monday morning and a manuscript by Monday evening. It's going to be interesting to see if I make it or not. Bare minimum will be one of the projects, the more important one. Never dull.)
One week to DragonCon, and I am nowhere near prepared, but at least I am still going! That was in some doubt over these last couple of months. Three weeks to other travel that I am at least partly prepared for, and that should be fun too. Then it'll be October. Halloween approaches. Maybe I'll do something ridiculous to celebrate it this year. Who knows?
Oh, before I forget, I joined the flock and signed up for Imzy. I'm silveraspen over there too, although I haven't done anything with the account yet. That'll be my next personal project, I guess. My hope is that it'll be easier to keep track of than I find Tumblr to be. :)
Right, off to sleep - that way the new day will be here sooner rather than later.
Shockingly, I am not the first to use the "Literal worldbuilding" tag. :P
Drabble: The Marvels And Annoyances Of Magical Engineering. (100 words) by Lanna Michaels
Fandom: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Additional Tags: Drabble, Because #yuletide, Chicago River, Engineering Turf Wars, Literal worldbuilding
The story of the Chicago River.
So one of those reviews was at the A.V. Club, which said,
Bizarre rules and rituals, deliberately stilted dialogue, flashes of grisly violence that threaten to tilt the humor straight into horror: All of this could only have come from the warped imagination of Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, here making his singularly strange English-language debut.And, yeah, basically that, except I found very little humor in it. Really not my kind of thing.
( Context-free content notes: )
A note about the ending. ( Spoilers, naturally. )
 As you may have figured out, I have never written YA.
The material is well-organized (usually true of books in this series) and clearly presented. I especially appreciated all the examples. A lot of writing how-to books have examples that are lackluster, which always makes me wonder if the writer purporting to show you how to write knows what they're talking about, but here they were actively well-written.
The parts I found most interesting were not the general pointers on writing craft and technique but the ones that discussed how writing for young adults/middle grade readers is different from writing for an adult audience, everything from sentence structure (shorter sentences) to the nature of the protagonists (more self-centered and less reflective, to be in tune with the emerging maturity of the target audience). Also practical marketing considerations like being sure that you avoid doing anything hinky (e.g. sending marketing emails directly to minors, which is a no-no for obvious reasons).
Halverson refers to many examples from YA/MG, and includes excerpts from her own as well as brief spotlights from other YA/MG writers. I really liked this and found that I wanted to read a lot of the books mentioned! I regret so much that Party Girl Goes A.W.O.L. appears to be a made-up example for the purposes of illustrating how to write a cover letter, BECAUSE I WOULD TOTALLY READ THAT NOVEL. Former party girl sent to military prep school by her grandfather and leading a rebellion against the school authorities? Someone please write this!
I will own that I skimmed several sections as being not immediately relevant to me. For example, Halverson talks about finding an agent. This is useful stuff to know about, but I already have an agent, so I moved on because I am impatient and there are more boooooooks calling my name.
Thanks to the generous person who donated this book to the cause!
I've got chili going in the crockpot for tonight, because as meals go it's an old reliable -- I worked out my basic recipe a long time ago, when I was first cooking on my own. I will admit that it took me a while to figure out that the way to compromise between the no-beans-in-the-chili people and the yes-please-beans-in-the-chili people was to serve the beans on the side and let those who wanted to (primarily, it must be said, me) add them to taste. Also, masa harina isn't just for thickening, it's for taste.
I've got a lot of yellow squash to use up, thanks to friends of my brother's who have a garden (and if you want the fresh blueberries and the fresh blackberries and the fresh cherry tomatoes, you have to take the squash and the zucchini; it's one of the rules of life.) I had been considering trying out a pureed squash soup flavored with chipotle peppers, but the more I thought about it the more I began to suspect that it would end up being one of those recipes that I like but nobody else does. So I'm probably going to make summer garden vegetable pasta again, instead -- I'd been worried I was overdoing it in the summer rotation, but on the other hand, people eat it.
= so I'm at Dom's again dad-sitting since it's move-in weekend up at Oswego and they're spending the weekend up there and won't be back till Sunday evening, so I'm on dad and dog patrol. Last time the puppy stayed with friends and I just had Tuck, the old shepherd-pitbull mix to take care of, and Tuck is very mellow. the puppy - an adorable Havanese-Pomeranian mix, is, you know, a puppy, so there's been a lot more yapping and jumping than I'm used to. Luckily, he's tiny and easy to handle as necessary.
= I walked here from the train station yesterday afternoon and missed the second turn after the 7-Eleven and ended up walking in a big loop back to the main road, which I was most displeased about since I was schlepping my overnight bag and it was hot as balls out. I went back to the 7-Eleven but they were like, "No, we've never heard of that street" when I asked where it was, and then I realized I'd missed the turn DIRECTLY BEHIND THE 7-ELEVEN, and it is literally two blocks away. Ugh, stupid suburban developments where everyone drives and everything is curving cul-de-sacs instead of proper gridlike streets.
= Bartolo Colon! His second 2-hit game of the season! (I don't mean he threw a two-hitter, because he didn't. I mean he had two hits! Amazing!) #delightfully nimble
= For years I have tried and failed to get my hair up into a bun. It shouldn't be that hard! L. mocks me when I tell her this, but no clips can hold my hair! You can't stop it! You can't even hope to contain it! Even the hairdresser ends up using five or six of those huge banana clips to move it around and even then, they don't hold for that long. I keep looking at tutorials for long/curly/thick hair but I guess I'd need a million bobby pins to hold it up, and I don't have the patience for that.
= someone reblogged a joke about Wonderwall on tumblr and now I'm earwormed.
= 'Gotham' Boss Says Superheroes 'Don't Work' on TV, Is Wrong. I just don't even know why DC hires people who want to run away from the comics rather than embrace them. Aside from Berlanti, who clearly gets it. Or maybe I'm just forever bitter that we could have had a live-action Gotham Central and instead we got a crappy show about tween Bruce Wayne. Idek. I stopped watching somewhere in the first season.
= Otoh, there's this hilarity about Steve during his time as Nomad. Comics, everybody! As I said in my tags there, even with all his issues - and he does have them - Steve is way too mentally and emotionally healthy to be Batman! I mean, seriously.
Okay, that's 7 things, I guess that can make a post.
* Random bit of interest from the three-week online course on book history from Keio University, mentioned earlier:
The superior standing of the tetsuyōsō binding compared to the fukurotoji can also be seen from the so-called yomeiri-bon (trousseau books). In Edo times, when a woman from a prominent aristocratic or warrior family got married, she was given a complete set of personal accessories, including a set of beautifully bound classic books. The paper of these books was of the very finest quality, as were the lacquered cases that they came in.Imagine the possibilities. Also, the course instructors discuss title placement per genre conventions, mostly pre-C17 (and thus pre-commercial publishing), but though they admit that many books were considered complete without titles, the very idea that some rules were observed sometimes makes me rather grabby-hands in contrast to what I've seen of scrolls and codices from England. Sec. fol. is as close as one gets. (I've done only 1.75 of the three weeks, but once you've registered, you're allowed to finish at your own pace, so far. I don't know what would happen if I waited six months or more.)
* Ep. 1 of Incarnation of Jealousy blends last decade's style with this one, insofar as my limited exposure has offered examples, plus some wit amidst its deliberately blunt juxtapositions. Second ep is better. It's ...fine? I'll watch Gong Hyo Jin in nearly anything, though I skipped Master's Sun and may not finish this one.
* Though I tend to loathe NYT aside from some obits, their pumpkin cornbread recipe is fine, largely because it's the only one I found in five click-throughs that lacks sugar. (One spoonful of honey barely signifies against, what, 150 liquid ml-equiv of sugar---about five US ounces.) It's only blandly all right, however. How may I improve upon it, given the necessity of replacing cow milk with coconut milk, butter with a smidge of coconut oil, and wheat flour with ___ (I had millet flour on hand)? I mean, given the subs, I'm pleased it was all right.
And that inspired my new random story idea generator, the Shifter Romance Generator.
Many thanks to Lia Silver, who is responsible for most of the more, um, interesting shifters. ;)
Looking at my FB page, the big winners, eyeballwise, are old classic and books with lurid covers. Does Oglaf have a collection yet?
Rice's introduction packs in a lot of information in a surprisingly small space. He surveys the history of the field and its approaches, which have varied over time, as well as research methodologies and ethical problems, in clear prose. Here is the chapter list:
1. Defining ethnomusicology
2. A bit of history
3. Conducting research
4. The nature of music
5. Music as culture
6. Individual musicians
7. Writing music history
8. Ethnomusicology in the modern world
9. Ethnomusicologists at work
There are also references and lists for further reading/listening.
I also became interested in this field for personal reasons, when I took an online course on composing digital music using Reaper through Coursera. One of the instructor's emphases was on the democratization of music--making music production accessible to more people. Digital music is a really interesting case of this. Sampled instruments can allow people to orchestrate music and hear their compositions more affordably, without having to hire an orchestra--a prohibitive cost for many people. This is not to say that sampled instruments replace live musicians, but they serve a different role and open up access to music. Likewise, the less-expensive DAWs (digital audio workstations) you can get for an iPad or your smartphone allow people to experiment with music composition and production. This is just one tiny slice of the picture, but it's the one that I interact with personally.
In any case, recommended if you have an interest in the topic.
Steven Universe: Mindful Education
( spoilers )
There's Still Time to Change the Road You're On (at AO3)
Star Wars; Anakin, Leia, Luke; AU; 3,690 words
"Time travel? Are you kriffing kidding me?"
As I said yesterday, once I gave myself permission to not have to figure out (let alone write!) the alternate timeline created when Anakin goes back to his own time, this story basically wrote itself. I mean, I'd been stuck at like 200 words for a couple of months, and then I was like, "eh, I don't have to show what he does when he goes back" (or, more euphemistically, I leave it up to the reader to decide what he does) and suddenly I'd written 3000 words in two days.
Once the writing started happening, there were two main questions I asked myself (and angelgazing) and those were:
1. How much drama is too much? I mean, there's a reason #the skywalkers have no chill is a tag that exists; and
2. Can I really have Anakin Skywalker say, "Don't call me Shirley" or is that too self-indulgent?
And the answers were:
1. Slightly less than there was in the original draft (Leia was a lot meaner before revisions; taking out some of her scathing remarks was like removing that one extra thing before leaving the house) and
2. It's self-indulgent but it made me laugh so what the hell.
On the other hand, I think that while he probably does avoid some pitfalls and maybe doesn't become Vader (someday later) this time around, he's still Anakin Skywalker: walking catastrophe, so he probably fucks up some other things along the way, and I'm sure he's not able to defeat Palpatine, so the Empire happens anyway. But maybe Alderaan doesn't end up blown up twenty years later, and Leia would certainly see that as a net win, I think.
It was also fun (and easier) to write from his POV since even though Luke and Leia don't actually know very much, he knows even less at this point (in my head it takes place between Mortis and Umbara somewhere, probably after the Padawan Lost arc, which is where Anakin is at his most mature, really; even Yoda's pleased with how things are going with him), but I also didn't have to write Luke and Leia arguing over what he should be told, if anything. And I keep switching back and forth in my head over who would be more adamant about protecting the timeline, but for real, Leia is always going to try to save Alderaan if she can, so she's the one who goes "fuck the timeline!" in the end.
So yeah, I guess that's my entry into the time travel fix-it genre in this fandom, though really for me, it's all about people yelling at Anakin to look at his life! Look at his choices! I could read (and write) millions of words of that and never be bored of it.
Wednesday was gym.
Thursday night, I still lacked much motivation, but I managed to get a load of laundry done and hung up to dry. While I hung wet gym clothes on racks, I popped in my new dvd of 1776, which kept me going for a bit on reduction! Yay! (I got as far as some point during the initial debates on independen-cy.)
I pre-pack my gym clothes in plastic bags, so they're easy to pop into my gym bag. Each bag holds a shirt, shorts/capris, exercise bra, socks, and a pair of clean undies for after my shower. Some of those bags haven't been used or opened in a long time. I went all the way down to the bottom of the pile and opened them all up. The giveaway bag got all of the plain cotton tees, the capris that were too tight in the belly area, the oldest and most uncomfortable of the exercise bras, and several pairs of worn cotton stretch shorts - they still fit, but I don't actually need all the pairs I have. I got rid of the heavier exercise bras that don't dry well while you're wearing them; someone else can make use of them.
I now have seven pairs of gym capris, which is plenty for a couple weeks without doing laundry, so I can remove those from my mental shopping list. I have more gym socks than I thought I did, but I am going to keep the extras for everyday use. My three compression bras for jogging are a teensy bit tight, but I'm keeping those for the nonce as well, since they do still fit and they were expensive enough I don't want to replace them. I don't wear compression bras enough to make replacement worth it. Those things don't take up a lot of space, anyway.
So now my gym clothes take up less space, or will once I have enough giveaway bags together that I can call for pickup or get a ride to Goodwill.
I do still want another pair of weightlifting gloves, but they won't take up a lot of space.
*shows off tidying muscles*
I cannot decide whether The Big Combo (1955) suffers from its tendency to treat women as plot counters more than it benefits from its deep, shadowy, atmospheric cinematography or the performances of Cornel Wilde and Richard Conte as a hero it's difficult to root for and a heavy with a strange sympathetic streak, but I do appreciate how all of these elements come together in the finale: the merciless glare of headlights hunting a man who has dominated his lover past her limits, controlling even the music she listens to, the colors he prefers her to wear—half-blinded, staggering in the fog, whichever way he turns now she has the lights on him, as relentlessly trapped and exposed as he made her feel all those years. It's not complete repayment for how much of the rest of the film she spends crying, questioned and prodded by men who keep saying they love her, but I'll take it. The level of sexuality slipped under the radar is noteworthy, as is the director's evocatively synesthetic approach to violence. Dear scriptwriters: if you take a pair of inseparable hoods named Fante and Mingo who sleep in the same bedroom and make plans to run away together and then give them lines like "I can't swallow any more salami" and "The police'll be looking for us in every closet in town," I hope you were tweaking the Production Code deliberately, because a twenty-first-century audience can't take it with a straight face. The big-band brass of the title theme is great.
Trying to work out why it is that even now I harbor a soft spot for Richard Conte's smoothly ruthless Mr. Brown while I cut no such slack for Cornel Wilde's dogged Lieutenant Leonard Diamond of the 93rd Precinct, I realized that my feelings rest heavily on the sexual implications of a brief, at least historically startling scene between Conte and Jean Wallace. A little background before the smut.
The plot of The Big Combo is the kind of murky audience misdirection in which noir specializes: a study of a sexual obsession disguised as a moral crusade. The city is probably Los Angeles, but it's ninety-five percent studio interiors and backlot streets and day shots are few and far between; even efficiency apartments and hospital rooms are as spookily shadowed as stakeouts at midnight. We meet one major character fleeing through the tile-and-concrete warren of a boxing arena after dark, another pulling self-imposed graveyard shift at the precinct, another delivering a genial, chilling lecture on hate in a low-lit locker room. The finale will pull all of them away into the fog-swirling night. In this especially dark city, Diamond is our sole steady representative of the law. His name should signal his clarity and integrity, but in his very first scene he's shown to be obsessed and unreliable, his mixed motives obvious to everyone but himself—defending the $18,000-plus of departmental budget he blew on a fruitless six-month investigation of the seemingly squeaky-clean Mr. Brown, he mounts an eloquent denunciation of the corrupting influence of Brown's "combo," but the precinct captain cuts through his righteousness by reminding him that for the same six months he stalked "Brown's girl," the beautiful, damaged ex-socialite Susan Lowell (Wallace), and on his own dime no less. "She went to Vegas, you went to Vegas. She flew to Cuba, you flew to Cuba. You can't bear to think of her in the arms of this hood . . . She's been with Brown three and a half years. That's a lot of days—and nights." Diamond sticks to the story that she's just his best lead on the slippery, seamless syndicate boss, but there are all sorts of uncomfortable overtones when he races off to question her while she recovers in the city hospital following an overdose of pills. She lies against the pillows like l'Inconnue de la Seine, he takes her in his arms as if to give her the kiss of life, and then he badgers her about the woman's name—"Alicia"—she whispered deliriously on her way into the ER. She struggles against him feebly, begs him to leave her alone. He holds her down on the bed and threatens to arrest her for attempted suicide if she doesn't talk to him. If there was ever any genuine social concern in Diamond's hunt for Brown, it's long since foundered on his chaotic feelings for Susan. He wants to save her, he wants to possess her, he has really not thought through how sending up her lover for life is supposed to win a woman's heart. (He's obviously never seen The Third Man (1949).) In the meantime, living out of his office, shaving and eating at his desk, recording case notes to himself like a homicide detective—which he's not—he looks about one wall of string-linked magazine clippings away from a conspiracy nut. A movie which wanted its audience to view Diamond more heroically might set him up like a loose cannon in order to give him the satisfaction of being proven right. Here, we know from the start that Brown's a crook—Diamond's a cop, so what? It's not why he's doing what he's doing, just how.1
Susan's relationship with Brown at first looks like much the same thing. No one has a real history in this picture, although Brown has the most with his seven-year rise from prison guard to arch-criminal, but we learn early on that she threw away a promising career as a classical pianist to become the kept woman of a high-class hood; she still displays a careful, educated voice, a "classy" manner even in the extremity of despair. Brown likes to accentuate these aspects of her. He doesn't like her to drink, because it recalls his wife the "lush" who drunkenly humiliated him; he likes her to dress in white, as if curating an image of purity; he dislikes her listening to classical music, the kind she used to play, perhaps because it is inaccessible to him or because it reminds her that she once had another world, one she might yet return to, without Mr. Brown. She is running away from him in her introductory scene—not permanently, but she didn't want to attend the boxing match in the first place; Mr. Brown insisted. Mr. Brown insists a lot. It is warping Susan out of shape, crushing her like an abyssal sea. So, obviously, why does she stay? Is it the violence? The nearness to power? She came from a society family; the wealth itself can't attract or impress her. Diamond can't figure it out.
( I live in a maze, Mr. Diamond. )
Brown is not a good guy. He's possessive, destructive, sadistic, a casual taker and ruiner of lives, and he unsettles even in amicable conversation because he goes about so much of his blood-money business without any overt expression of anger. He smiles and smiles and is a villain. His micromanagement of his lover's life without any regard for her preferences or boundaries is a main factor in her suicide attempt and he never gets it, not even at the end when she has him pinned in the lights and the expression on his face as he squints out through the blinding fog is the same strange, pained bewilderment, never understanding that it was not in his power to give her what she wanted most. But the film suggests that he was trying. It gives him the benefit of the doubt where his lover's pleasure is concerned. I can't say the same about Diamond. Even in the scene where he stumblingly admits his feelings for Susan, one of the few moments in the movie in which he looks sympathetic, vulnerable, less than fanatically sure of himself, he can't stop himself from trying to hurt her into helping him, jerking the mink coat from her lap and gruesomely describing its pelts as the "skins of human beings . . . people who've been beaten, sold, robbed, doped, murdered by Mr. Brown," as if she never knew where the money came from. He can't stop trying to use her. Wilde and Wallace were married for thirty years in real life; they made seven movies together, eight if you count the one he directed without appearing in; it interests me that in neither of the two I've seen so far are they cast as ideal lovers, or possibly even people who should be involved with one another at all. Perhaps I'm overgeneralizing, but I have trouble reading Diamond as anything other than a very conventional, heteronormative lover—if he knows what really turns his beau ideal on, it's probably something he thinks a woman who has the right kind of man shouldn't need. The final configuration of the three principals is ambiguous, but if Susan really has thrown in her lot with the gender conformity of her decade, it's hard for me not to feel that she's lost something. Maybe she'll find it again after the film ends with someone who isn't Lieutenant Diamond. This TMI brought to you by my attentive backers at Patreon.
1. All the while he's carrying on his white-knight, Madonna-whore complex about Susan, Diamond maintains a mostly off-again relationship with Helene Stanton's Rita, a dark-haired stripper who greets him after his six-month absence with a well-deserved "You've certainly got a nerve!" She really cares about him despite her scorn for his job and her frustration with his distance; she warns him when the word on the street turns nasty in his direction. He goes to her for sex and emotional support and not much more. She's not his fallen angel who needs a hand back on her pedestal again. Only after she's taken eleven bullets in his place does Diamond recognize what a heel he was to her, crumbling into tears as he berates himself, "I treated her like a pair of gloves. When I was cold, I called her up." I am glad that he is shown to be capable of remorse, because the audience noticed the glove thing long before he did. But I admit it affects my assessment of his feelings for Susan.
2. Gustav Machatý's Ecstasy (Extase, 1933) has a twenty-year lead on The Big Combo, but it's Czech. And unless things have changed much since I saw This Film Is Not Yet Rated in 2006, Hollywood is still way behind any reasonable times in depicting female pleasure, especially if it does not involve dick.
3. Including Massachusetts! Thanks, Puritans.
4. Because my life is my life, I know much more about classical Roman attitudes toward cunnilingus, i.e., it's even more degrading and unmanly for a man to perform than fellatio. If you get face-fucked by a dude, at least it is a dude you're submitting to; if you're getting face-fucked by a woman, game over, man, game over. Also, everyone knows it's just gross. You can really insult a Roman man by calling him a cunnilingus, even more than if you called him a fellator (cocksucker) or a cinaedus (effeminate, penetrable, gender-non-conforming man). Martial wrote way too many epigrams on the subject. There's also some relevant graffiti. I am comforted by the existence of Pompeiian graffiti indicating that male prostitutes offered cunnilingus to their female clients, and not just in a your-mom-for-five-bucks kind of way. But the literary record at least is overwhelmingly negative and the culture I live in inherited not a little of it, alas. In any case, these are all masculinity-related hangups about which Mr. Brown does not appear to give a fuck.
I was reaching the stage of "oh no, running low on walnuts", so I got some from a couple places to make up for it, because I'm not sure the next time I'll make it out to Costco to stock up...
and tonight I was looking into the pesach cabinet to check on something and I noticed, right in the front, a completely full 3lb bag of walnuts from Costco. And behind it, another 3lb bag of Costco walnuts.
I now have a fuckton of walnuts. Yayz.
(I should probably check the best-by dates on these. I have no idea when I bought them.)
 There are two more-or-less standard romanizations for Korean. The first is McCune-Reischauer, a tweaked/revised version of which is used officially by the South Korean government now. This is what I grew up using. The second is Yale. The Yale system is used by linguists and, as far as I can tell, by no one else. Despite having lived in South Korea for half my childhood, it wasn't until I picked up a book on Korean linguistics in college that I even learned of the Yale system's existence. Please note that individuals' names are frequently not romanized according to either scheme but according to whatever they (or their parents) felt would look best or make things more likely to be pronounced correctly by non-Koreans.
I will say that many of these tales contain hanky-panky that went whoosh! over my head when I read them as a child. There are a lot of instances of a man and a woman sleeping in proximity to each other, a decorous lacuna in the text, and whoosh! the next morning the woman just so happens to be pregnant, usually to her great shame. I had no idea how this was achieved back then.
Or there's this hilarious example of pandering to the delicate male psyche, in story #24:
One day a man made water by the roadside. It happened that at that spot there was a grave level with the ground. That night the man dreamed that a beautiful girl came to him and said, 'To-day you showed me your most precious possession, and now all my bitterness against the world has melted away. You have made it possible for me to travel to the other world, and I am deeply grateful for your kindness.'
HA HA HA HA HA. I'm sure guys just WISH.
When I first read this as a kid, I had no idea what "made water" meant (I would continue to wonder about this euphemism for years) and I certainly had no idea what this "most precious possession" was...
For another completely hilarious example in a completely different direction, we have this charmer, #10 "Onions":
In the very earliest days of human history there was a time when men used to eat one another. This was because in those days men often appeared in the form of cattle, and so were slaughtered for food.
But fear not! Apparently the cure was to eat an onion, which would make a person appear in human form.
Or there's the one in which a man with a sick mother is told by a monk to boil his son to make a medicinal brew to cure his mother. The man agonizes, but does it. (Filial piety is huge in Korean culture.) His reasoning? He can always produce more sons, but he can't ever replace his mother...
There are also lots of patriarchal bits, like the story in which someone was originally going to be reborn as a prince of China as a reward but a misdemeanor caused him to be "downgraded" to princess. *sigh* And there are a ton of stories about men conning people letting them marry beautiful/well-connected daughters, as one does. *snrk*
And #42 mistakenly cites the turtleboat as "the world's first submarine," when it wasn't a submarine at all.
inkstone, I can't remember the name of that (Korean?) horror movie you mentioned ages ago, with the two sisters (so specific, I know), but the story of Rose and Lotus, on which it is based, is in here too.
Ah, folklore, I love it. While I don't know how much interest this is to people generally, I grew up with some of these stories and have Korean nostalgic fondness for them.
Thank you to the kind person who donated this book! Next in queue is a write-up of Timothy Rice's Ethnomusicology: A Very Short Introduction.
Star Wars; Anakin, Leia, Luke; AU; 3,690 words
"Time travel? Are you kriffing kidding me?"
Once I realized I only cared about the family drama, I figured I didn't need to worry about the mechanics or results of time travel. Let's just pretend it makes sense! *hands* Title & cut-text from Led Zeppelin.
Or read it at AO3.
( Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run / There's still time to change the road you're on. )
Feedback is adored.
As of yesterday the first chrysalis was still intact and one of my remaining "caterpillars of concern" (in a separate enclosure because they didn't seem to be eating as much or growing as quickly as the others) successfully became a chrysalis, bringing the total to twelve.
This morning, the first chrysalis eclosed. Yay! (Sorry for the blurriness of the image; I was running late and barely had time to put some fruit in the enclosure and snap a picture before I had to leave for work.)