Evening

Jan. 30th, 2015 09:36 pm
[personal profile] kass
It's been a nice evening. We watched this week's ep of Top Chef, which was pleasing. Now we're listening to the new Nick Zammuto album, which -- while it does not entirely convince me that I want to go see him play on my birthday -- does have some lovely, textural, interesting tracks.

And I'm not working tomorrow. And tomorrow seems as though it will be a lovely day. Y and Mr. Kid are going to run errands in the morning, which should give me a few hours to do my own thing, which is always appreciated. And then Mr. Kid is having a buddy over for a sleepover, which, w00t.

Also there is a fuzzy cat beside me. And the fire is glowing. And these are happy things.

Gratitudes

Jan. 30th, 2015 06:38 pm
[personal profile] kass
1. Big fluffy snowflakes

2. Crackling fire

3. Shabbat

4. red wine

5. spouse bringing home a pizza and salad \o/

:-)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Catching up on book notes; spot the theme!

The Heiress Effect (The Brothers Sinister), by Courtney Milan. Heiress Jane Fairfield has tons of money and suitors, but is determined not to marry; in my very favorite part of the book, she fends off her suitors with a combination of social obnoxiousness and spectacularly hideous dresses. Her sister Emily is shut in by her guardian due to epilepsy, but sneaks out and meets a sweet Indian law student.

A very enjoyable romance distinguished by excellent characterization, including of the minor characters, plenty of comedy, and good banter. I liked all the characters individually, but the heroines were much more interesting to me than the heroes, so this worked better for me as a novel than as a romance. It's the second in a series, but I accidentally read it first.

Look elsewhere for historical accuracy, though Milan does often use snippets of actual history: the hideous dye which plays a role in the story actually was a recent invention. Anjan could have been doing what he was doing in England at that time, but I don't think everyone would have been anywhere near as accepting of his romance with an English woman. The discussion of colonialism, the rights of disabled people and women, and other social issues are all important and true, but also a bit anvillicious. That being said, in terms of the actual portrayal of people with disabilities, both mental and physical, Milan is outstanding.

The Other Side of Us , by Sarah Mayberry. A woman filmmaker still recovering from disabling car crash injuries moves in next door to a man with an adorable dog. She too has an adorable dog! It must be fate. I liked the realistic treatment of her disabilities, but there were too many stupid misunderstandings for my taste.

Summer Campaign, by Carla Kelly. Genuinely heartwarming romance between Major Jack Hamilton, just returned from years at war and struggling with PTSD, and the bizarrely named Miss Onyx Hamilton, who is illegitimate and so considered lucky to marry anyone, let alone the vicar whom she doesn't love. (The name is explained, but still.) She is set upon by highwaymen! He is shot rescuing her! She does such a good job nursing him that he asks her to come nurse his dying brother. And their relationship slowly blossoms.

The social situation probably isn't historically accurate, but the medical details are. The characters' emotions and the slow growth of intimacy and love are very realistic and believable. If you're tired of insta-love and relationships driven by lust, this is the book for you. Kelly is one of the few romance writers who has heroes who are not particularly handsome, out of shape, etc. Her characters are ordinary people who value each other for their personality and kindness.

juuuuuuuust out of curiosity

Jan. 30th, 2015 04:00 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
So I'm reading this adorable three-vol. manga based on Greek mythology, I suspect rather loosely...did Zeus ever cross-dress as a dancing girl and perform in front of Cronus? I don't remember this from my childhood readings of Greek mythology, but admittedly my childhood readings of Greek mythology had Achilles/Patroclus as "just friends" so it's hard to say.

(no subject)

Jan. 30th, 2015 03:27 pm
[personal profile] musesfool
I'm 98% packed. I will need to remember to bring my phone charger, since it's a different cord now from my iPad charger, and I was undecided about my cab situation - I knew I didn't want to have to schlep to a corner and hail a cab, because the corners are disgusting with ice and slush, and also I am not going to wear a heavy coat or boots and tomorrow's supposed to be the coldest day we've had so far, and I just want to wait in the vestibule and have the car pull up. Nothing I've read about Uber or Lyft made me feel comfortable, and the traditional car service companies (666, 777, etc.) have terrible reviews (I mean, I'm sure they're no worse than regular taxis? But I do need to actually get to the airport, so...). So I went with Go Green Ride, which has a $32 flat fare to LGA (not including tolls and tip), so hopefully that will work out. They have shockingly good reviews on Yelp. (Please don't share any horror stories if you have them. I repeat, I need to get to the airport tomorrow somehow.)

Meanwhile, Boss2, who isn't even here today, is being a pain in the ass. No, Boss2, I can't order your lunches on Monday, BECAUSE I WILL BE ON A BOAT. So I sent the menu to the person designated to do the ordering on Monday, and she's like, "We can't order from here, there's no turkey sandwich like Boss2 wants." IT'S A DELI. I'M PRETTY SURE THEY CAN SLAP SOME TURKEY ON SOME BREAD WITH SOME MUSTARD. (The first item on the menu is a turkey club! IJS)

Man, I will be so happy to be away for a while. Because people! How do you even function in the world like this?

In other news, I can only imagine that if Joe Manganiello is cast as Deathstroke, the incidence of Deathstroke/Nightwing will suddenly increase (especially if you imagine Matt Bomer as Nightwing). I don't ship it (I didn't ship Slade/Oliver either), but I can see why some people would (in both cases).

(I am not even capable of contemplating Jared Leto as the Joker. I don't even know, guys. I don't even know.)

Speaking of the DCU, Joan Watson is totally Batman, right? I had such a strong feeling she was going to say something like, "Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot!" in last night's episode, while she was all dressed up at that fundraiser.

Elementary
spoilers )

Lastly, [personal profile] unfitforsociety has been updated for January 2015 with 21 recs in 4 fandoms:

* 17 Avengers
* 2 Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
* 1 Legend of Korra and 1 Pacific Rim

***

I may post from sunny Florida tomorrow, via my iPad, but if not, arrivederci miei amici, and I'll see you on the other side. Try not to blow up the internet while I'm gone.

***

green, orange, red

Jan. 30th, 2015 09:19 am
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Civilization: Beyond Earth (Win (Steam)), 2014): simulation of multiple cultures in competition which, unlike its predecessors, brackets certain awkward and potentially offensive NorAm-centric assumptions. Apparently, either one understands that this is not Civ 5 with a different skin or one doesn't: the formal reviews divide neatly if not evenly between individuals excited about the things that BE offers, and individuals cranky about how it isn't exactly like Civ 5 and what are these aliens doing within my cultural sphere anyway and gosh aren't they hard to eradicate. Point missed indeed.

For the sort of player who plays enough games to hold a games-journalism job respectably, BE may not be very exciting. Neither was Civ II: Test of Time, the offshoot from Sid Meier's (ahem) railroading vision of global domination; Test of Time is the one with multiple official "modification" sets that totally transformed gameplay and gave it narrative triggers to go with the multiple maps. For the casual Civ player who never gets past the third difficulty setting (of, like, seven, IIRC) but has been noodling along steadily, BE is a great gift because its early gameplay rewards that manner of interaction. Don't try to churn out fifty military units or ten settlers at once; explore a lot, drop a colonist here and there, go for the technological advancements that protect explorers and keep the aliens less angry with you; slow the hell down.

In short, for my sense of the game (with a few successful easy campaigns beneath my belt), the Eurogamer review gets it mostly right, and the IGN review is an ignorant piece of jingoistic malarky. I have been playing Civ since the first one---haven't skipped any---and my favorites are Test of Time followed by 4: Beyond the Sword, FWIW. Alpha Centauri was a good idea not well implemented, for my tastes, and BE improves self-consciously upon it.

Though the BE production team could've done a lot more with the concept, then only gameplaying readers of thinky SF prose would like the damned thing; someone has to pay Firaxis. Also, at least the tech tree of the earlier games---easily the weakest part of them, conceptually speaking---is overhauled completely in favor of a cluster map reminiscent of Final Fantasy X/XII/XIII. I have hated that reductionist tech tree since 1991, you guys. Will Partin's review offers a good summary, I think.

That said, I notice that I haven't played any BE since last October. hmm. Knitting is easier during Dragon Age: Origins and now Inquisition than BE, but it's probably the persistence of a storyline, even though those of both DA games irritate me a bit.

I am ded of cute

Jan. 30th, 2015 10:07 am
[personal profile] yhlee
lizard war-chant [mp3 hosted at my website]
[personal profile] the_shoshanna
omg it's like there's a light therapy box in the SKY

story story

Jan. 30th, 2015 06:36 am
[personal profile] yhlee
My flash fairy tale "The Queen's Aviary" is now up at Daily Science Fiction.

Caw!

Still very good revolver shot

Jan. 30th, 2015 02:00 am
[personal profile] sovay
I had never heard of Kyril Bonfiglioli before Monday, when I read two articles about the Charlie Mortdecai novels (which I had never heard of, either). I'm not surprised that the movie is being met with a mixed reception; they sound unadaptable. I will probably look for them in a local library to see whether their idea of pitch-black comedy matches mine. The New Yorker mentioned Bonfiglioli's editorship of "a couple of small science-fiction magazines." [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving asked which ones. I had no idea; it wasn't mentioned.

Two nights ago, I picked up Judith Merrill's England Swings SF: Stories of Speculative Fiction (1968), one of the paperback anthologies from my parents' library that came home with me in the spring. Not only does it appear to be one of the seminal collections of New Wave science fiction, it includes—in a table of contents featuring Josephine Saxton, J.G. Ballard, Daphne Castell, Thomas M. Disch, Keith Roberts, Charles Platt, Christopher Priest, Barrington J. Bayley, Pamela Zoline, Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, and other people who are probably also very talented—Kyril Bonfiglioli's "Blastoff" and a short bio written interleavingly by the author and Merrill. He edited Science Fantasy, later Impulse. The list of contributors overlaps notably with Merrill's anthology and the general New Wave. Thomas Burnett Swann's The Day of the Minotaur (1966) and Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room! (1966) were both serialized under Bonfiglioli, as was most of Keith Robert's Pavane (1968). He published Christopher Priest's first short story, which means I have him in some roundabout way to thank for The Prestige (2006). And then he seems to have moved away from science fiction and into his own outrageous deconstructions of genre, which look like they were cult items until someone made them into a big-budget comedy which I don't plan to see.

But it did bring the author to my attention, for which I guess I should thank its existence. In the meantime, I am enjoying England Swings SF and devouring Ali Smith's How to Be Both (2014), which has a fifteenth-century non-binary trans protagonist (I am informed by the jacket copy that it's a dual narrative and the co-protagonist is contemporary, but so far Francescho's story alone is worth it. If you like richly imagistic writing, genderqueerness, and Quattrocento painting, pick this book up immediately). Smith is the author of one of my favorite classical retellings; I was curious when I saw she had a new book out and within thirty pages I was taking it home. If it all falls apart in the second half, I suppose I will very sadly let people know. I don't expect it to.

(I am not writing about nearly as much of anything as I would like, right now. It's not that I've stopped thinking: I don't see how to find the time. Everything is exhausting. Everything takes too long. I saw Freaks (1932) with [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks last Saturday and that deserved a post; didn't happen. I still haven't written about any of the pre-Code films I saw in December. At least I had an antidote to The Franchise Affair. At least we made French toast on a snow day. At least I'm still alive.)

hi guys

Jan. 29th, 2015 09:43 pm
[personal profile] metaphortunate
I'm sorry if I owe you a phone call or an email - or three - it's because I'm so behind that I can't cope, and I swear I will be getting back to you sometime around the 4th of July.

No sooner do I find a new pair of work pants - than one of my old ones develops a hole. Aargh! And pants are really hard to shop for online. And these days finding time to go to a store in person is a sort of invasion strategy development that involves careful timing and personnel deployment. I might get to try around the end of February.

We need to get in an exterminator because we have so many freaking silverfish. I know they are harmless but they are getting so numerous that I am having nightmares all night about them.

I see people online sneering at vegans because they claim their food is cruelty-free and yet their food is actually picked and produced by brutally exploited migrant workers. Guys: is there a non-brutal-exploitation food production option that I am currently unaware of? Is the idea that working in a slaughterhouse is a much better job? Or is it just sneering at an attempt to do something for not doing everything?

Thank god for the internet. I grimly decided that it was time for the Junebug to learn to wipe his own butt. I… realized I had no idea how to teach a kid to wipe their butt.

To the internet-mobile! THE INTERNET DELIVERS.

(At breakfast, me: "Oh my god! This site totally explains how to teach a kid to wipe their butt!"
Mr. E: "How?"
Me: "You use peanut butter!"
Mr. E: "…

…you must be joking."
Me: "On a PLATE.")

It's brilliant! We're working on it.

"Find Me." (Hockey RPF) PG

Jan. 29th, 2015 09:10 pm
[personal profile] lannamichaels


Title: Find Me. (On Archive Of Our Own)
Author: [personal profile] lannamichaels
Fandom: Hockey RPF
Pairing: Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews
Rating: PG
A/N: Patrick's quest key comes at the absolute worst time.

Summary: For my AU: Magic square in Trope Bingo Round 4. Much thanks to #yuletide chat.


Magical quests )

Agent Carter

Jan. 29th, 2015 08:36 pm
[personal profile] kass
I watched the latest ep (104) of Agent Carter tonight. I was intrigued by one of the same things that [personal profile] seekingferret had posted about --

Howard Stark: I grew up on the Lower East Side. My father sold fruit. My mother sewed shirtwaists for a factory. Let me tell you, you don't get to climb the American ladder without picking up some bad habits on the way. There's a ceiling for certain types of people based on how much money your parents have, your social class, your religion, your sex. And the only way to break through that ceiling sometimes is to lie, so that's my natural instinct... to lie. I shouldn't have lied to you. For that, trust me, I am truly sorry.

from Agent Carter S1E04, "The Blitzkrieg Button"
---

I'm having a hard time not reading that as Howard Stark coming out as Jewish. It's possible he's coming out as gay, or coming out as gay and Jewish. Those are also valid readings of the subtext, I think, but there is so much coming out as Jewish subtext there it's absurd. (I guess it's also possible he's coming out as Italian Catholic. Certainly Italian Catholics in this era faced similar kinds of religious and ethnic discrimination in the same Lower East Side neighborhoods. I think in general in the comics, Maria Stark is more usually coded Italian than Howard is. Her 616 maiden name is Carbonell, though I don't believe that's been confirmed in MCU. In any case, I don't think this scene would have so much edge if he's just confessing to being Catholic, even in 1946.)


(From his Untitled post.) I like the idea of Howard Stark as crypto-Jewish. One could do interesting things with a Jewish Tony Stark.

I'm really loving the comic-book over-the-top-ness of Peggy Carter. I mean. In those heels, kicking such ass! She's gorgeous, unflappable, and a perfect way in for the contemporary viewer who's appalled by the casual sexism and the ways in which she's habitually unappreciated (and ergo they totally miss her actually doing her work.) On a related note, I like the way Enver Gjokaj's character becomes somewhat parallel to Peggy's. The guys underestimate him and mock him because he's on crutches, when he's really the only other person there actually doing legitimate investigative work. (Also he's not a jerk. Which is a low bar, but I like him. I could ship him with Peggy, once she's had enough time to not be disastrously on the rebound.)

Crossword help?

Jan. 29th, 2015 05:55 pm
[personal profile] telophase
Not in filling one out. In making one. :) A couple of years ago I bought a copy of the Crossword Compiler software, for whatever reason, and remembered it recently. So I created a science fiction word list, and finally managed to coax a completed word grid out of the software, albeit without too many SF-like keywords,* that I can make available at ConDFW o announce the 2016 guests of honor (along with an ad in the program book and announcing it publicly at the con, of course!),

Anyway, so I need to put as much of a SF/F/H/genre spin on the clues as I can. So is there anyone out there willing to attempt to contribute a clue or two if I supply the word list? I'd like to do it by email--I'm not sharing the solution publicly at the moment because the GoH names need to remain under wraps until we announce it at the con.

Alas, I have already written the BEST clue of the lot, which is "My hovercraft is full of them." So sorry, you can't write it. I did. :P (All right, if I decide it's too easy I'll change it to "Hovercraft inhabitants," but that depends on how easy or hard the rest of the puzzle seems to turn out.)


*For best results you need word lists that are thousands of words long, not hundreds, like I bodged together from various sources...I need to start compiling lists of authors, titles, and characters in my spare time if I'm going to continue this.

please do my homework

Jan. 29th, 2015 05:25 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Someone on my flist had data on average age of marriage in various cultures but I have forgotten who it was. Pointers, please?

true love

Jan. 29th, 2015 03:09 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
Coming Out On Top, work-safe partial screencap

My PC, while chatting up Hot Marine Wot I'm Trying to Date:


Uh, not to make you feel insecure or anything, Joe! =D

(Embarrassingly, I've mostly forgot what I knew about the Pelopponesian War--I had one class on ancient Greek warfare in college and I still have the notes somewhere, but my memory's terrible.)

trade in these wings on some wheels

Jan. 29th, 2015 01:48 pm
[personal profile] musesfool
Ugh, scheduling! The bane of my existence. I was so busy/distracted by work yesterday that I forgot to do Wednesday reading!

What I've just finished

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge, which I enjoyed a lot. I wasn't too emotionally invested in anyone but Neverfell (though I did really like her friendship with Erstwhile), but the writing is gorgeous, and the world is so inventive I loved it anyway. I think as a kid I would have been totally enchanted. And for real, Neverfell needs to meet Tiffany Aching.

The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes, which is an Oceans 11-style heist story in a fairly generic fantasy setting. Gentleman Bastards it's not. But it was fun. I liked that the main character was a black lady who's a former soldier, and I like that almost everything was part of the con. The characterization for the large ensemble is fairly thin and the worldbuilding didn't really work well for me (so there's an Empire and a Republic plus elves and some folk who were been banished by the Ancients and want back in? Okay then!) because it felt very ...80s in a way. The whole thing actually reminded me of some of the more fun genre-typical fantasy stuff I read in the 80s (but somewhat less faily). I don't know if I liked it enough to read the second one but it was fun. I did like the puppet shows as news broadcasts though. That was clever.

Huh. A Face Like Glass also has strong caper elements to it. I do love a good caper.

What I'm reading now

Verdigris Deep - apparently also titled Well Witched? - by Frances Hardinge. I'm only about a quarter of the way through so far, but three kids steal coins from a wishing well and things start to get weird. Protip kids: never steal coins from wishing wells! You are stealing people's hopes and dreams! It never ends well! I am just saying. Of course, they are middle-school kids, so they aren't genre-savvy yet. But I have a feeling they're going to learn.

What I'm reading next

I loaded the rest of Frances Hardinge's books on my iPad, and also the Georgian Era Romance Novel Batman book, plus a bunch of other stuff, so I don't know what I'm reading on the cruise, but it's bound to be something.

***

Arrow: Midnight City
spoilers )

So I am interested to see where this is going. Has it been as good as last season? No. Has it made some missteps this season? Yes. But I think some of that was 1. how do you top Slade Wilson? and 2. the producers focusing on The Flash. Hopefully they're going to pull together a strong second half.

***

re: work: on the plus side, free lunch today, thanks to the people catering the lunch meeting. They sent me a free sandwich!

***

they say you'll know when it's time

Jan. 29th, 2015 09:59 am
[personal profile] silveraspen
[CW: cat illness, medical]

So, it's been quiet around here for the last three weeks or so. This is in part because of travel and schedule stuff, but also in part because January has been hellish for many people for many reasons.

One of the things that's been going on at my end of things has to do with my cat, Talia.

I noticed when I came back from TN after the holidays that although her pet sitters had taken very good care of her, there was just something that seemed off - she was more wobbly than usual, more sleepy than usual, more vocal, and even had lost some weight - and so I called the home-visit vet to come check her out.

That turned out to be a very good thing. Medical details under the cut. ) Anyway, we figured out a medicine for her, which she was okay with taking mixed into her food, and on we went. She gained weight back, picked up a bit of energy, and I kept a close eye on her for follow-up purposes, given the possible underlying cause.

Which leads me to why I scheduled vet visit #2, which happened yesterday. Medical details part 2 under this cut. )

At this point, the vet thinks that we have a month left at most - and although Talia's beaten the odds before, and I'd love to be wrong about this, I think the vet's probably right. So when the time comes, I'll do what's right for her.

Talia's been my friend and companion now for over twenty years. The most important thing: she's not in pain, and won't be. Her quality of life will be good throughout; she's happy and well-fed and still playful and talkative.

I've already arranged one "kitty Facetime" call, last night, so that my sister could see her and coo a farewell to her. I know there are people reading this who also love this little cat a very great deal, and if any of you want a similar call, I'm happy to set it up. In any case, I thought y'all would want to know.

more on dreams

Jan. 29th, 2015 11:08 am
[personal profile] yhlee
They weren't kidding about trazodone dreams. This last one included characters from Dragonlance, Angel, Planescape: Torment, and the Malazan Book of the Fallen. I would sort of kill for that crossover fic, actually.

Also, more highlights from last night:
- L5R pageant including Lady Doji and Hida Osano-wo intercut into a Bones video showing Seeley Booth (I see my fannish roots are...colliding). I was disappointed at the absence of Unicorn characters.

- visit to an absurdist hell where Joe wisely warned us that anything we bought in a store in hell was unlikely to help us escape hell (this proved to be true)

- Peanuts puppetry on the walls of buildings on a rocket ride up to Valhalla. Also, I got lectured by Odin on the ethical correctness of smoking meat that gave you immortality (?) if you ate it. (It had been raw, so would have gone bad quickly. I think the idea was that the meat wasn't supposed to last long?)

- cleaning the floor with a small bottle of white vinegar only to realize I'd accidentally grabbed a bottle of some BPAL limited edition scent instead, whoops. And yet I kept cleaning!

- a run in with Faith (Buffyverse) in a bilingual (Korean/English) prison. It's cool; she didn't hurt me.

(I wake up multiple times in the night right now, which really sucks and I don't recommend it. Getting sleep in 1-2 hour snatches is unfun.)

linkspam loves kale

Jan. 28th, 2015 08:01 pm
[personal profile] cofax7
Dinner was a bunch of chopped kale cooked with some really good pasta, then tossed with half a can of tuna and probably too much olive oil. Topped, of course, with parmesan, sea salt, & pepper. NOM.

*

This list of relatively new books on environmental history and policy looks pretty interesting, if you're into that sort of thing.

Noted: Ryan's Podcast Reviews. Worth checking occasionally, if you're looking for new podcasts.

I really enjoyed this article about the secret history of same-sex marriage.

Also this article on the history of breakfast...

Huh, a surprisingly good piece in the Atlantic about Native Americans and genetic testing.

I have to say, this doesn't surprise me in the least. The Emperor really does have no clothes. One of the most famous successes of the British Security Service was its great spy round-up of August 1914. The event is still celebrated by MI5, but a careful study of the recently-opened records show it to be a complete fabrication - MI5 created and perpetuated this remarkable lie. The bit about the gerbils is just fantastic.

Jessamyn West writes about settling her father's estate (and includes a link to Get Your Shit Together, which I definitely need to do). This is awesome. A few months into this slow-motion hackathon, we were celebrating my birthday. Friends put spitting smokey sparklers on cupcakes, trying to be festive. A disembodied voice from the ceiling started booming "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!" which, as it happens, is a line from the Bradbury story. As we extinguished the sparklers and I scrambled to figure out how to stop the yelling, the phone started ringing. A man's voice at the other end asked me for a password. This is how I learned that the house had an alarm system.

What a surprise: walking outside is good for your mental health. Now I feel all righteous, since I took TNG out for a good walk when I got home from work.

*

Oh, it's Wednesday. Cool.

Current reading: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, on audiobook. I last read this at least 15 years ago, and it was in my memory as one of the last non-annoying books he wrote. And it is definitely less annoying than his later work--rather less ponderous foreshadowing and so forth. But woe, is it overwritten. Every passing thought of each character gets multiple paragraphs of explication of their history and personal traumas, loaded with emotion and meaning. Nothing--and I mean nothing--is left for the reader to figure out. And when characters aren't obsessing over their own/their people's traumas, they're focusing obsessively on the interpersonal dynamics of their friends. Every little glance is noted, usually with a comment on how the glance is full of meaning that the onlooker can't interpret. It's just too much. Does Kay have no respect for the intelligence of his readers?

Argh. I want to edit this thing. It would be really good, if it lost about 30% of the unnecessary verbiage. But I can't even skim, because it's an audiobook. I hope I can persevere, but I'm wondering why I should bother...

Just finished: Texts from Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg. Which is just what you think it is. Fun and lighthearted and occasionally surprising, full of Mallory's gleeful misandry, and just enjoyable to read. It's not exactly long, but it doesn't need to be.

Up next: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, by Mark Twain. Last read this in college; it will be interesting to see if I remember any of it. For book club, naturally.

Suzette Haden Elgin

Jan. 28th, 2015 10:36 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Michael Lowrey has reported the death of author Suzette Haden Elgin.

well, poop

Jan. 28th, 2015 09:04 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Once tomorrow's review is up, I will have two sponsored reviews left, one of which is waiting on a side-project and the other one is of a book I haven't got access to yet.

(no subject)

Jan. 28th, 2015 05:28 pm
[personal profile] skygiants
Continuing my slow journey through the works of Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, last week I read The Innocent Mrs. Duff.

This one reminded me a lot of The Unfinished Crime -- Mr. Duff, like Branscombe, is a respectable, middle-class prig with a sense of entitlement the size of the state of Texas and not-so-secret depths of utter moral turpitude. Except Duff is worse than Branscombe. And Branscombe is pretty awful!

When the book starts, Duff is annoyed by everything about Reggie, his new, young, pretty wife; she's stupid, she's got no class, she can't seem to do anything right. Except then she does something right, and there's a reason why that's wrong, too; and why does his incredibly wealthy great-aunt, the classiest person he knows, seem to think Reggie's awesome, can't she see how horrible and annoying she is? God, she's probably having an affair. If only she would have an affair, so he could get rid of her. Or ... something. SOMETHING. Not that he's the kind of person who'd do anything like that, of course not, he's classy, but come on, can't everybody see that his circumstances are just intolerable?

It's a scathing portrait of a man who's congenitally incapable of taking responsibility for anything that's wrong in his life -- including his alcoholism, which is also escalating dramatically through the course of the book -- and what redeems it from being just unbelievably depressing is a.) the fact that it's extremely page-turney and b.) how, as in The Unfinished Crime, there's a network of amazing women supporting each other around the edges of the terrible, terrible protagonist. Many of Duff's greatest mistakes are in completely failing to understand that his aunt and Reggie really like each other, that Reggie and the governess that he has a crush on like and support each other too; he's so busy drawing up a portrait of Reggie as The Actual Worst Thing In The World that he can't fathom it at all. But in a genre that tends to fall in with the popular image of women as being constantly at each other's throats, it's really refreshing to see how consistently Holding's books refute that.

(...but if you're going to pick one Holding book about a really unlikeable and privileged protagonist getting his comeuppance, I'd go with The Unfinished Crime myself.)
[personal profile] musesfool
Last night I posted a draft here instead of to my writing journal. I think it's only the third time it's ever happened, but ugh, I hate it when I don't pay attention and do that.

Other annoying things: work! Stop being so busy! I am mostly caught up on things (which is good, because I'm going to be out for a week and a half) but people keep giving me new meetings to schedule. Ugh.

*

The Flash: The Sound and the Fury
spoilers )

Agent Carter: The Blitzkrieg Bop Button
spoilers )

*

Hard night

Jan. 28th, 2015 12:27 pm
[personal profile] badgerbag
Bad night, feeling very sick, sick to my stomach, reflux, and a weird strong headache that had increased over the day. Pain meds did not help the headache. It was so hard to fall asleep. like a horrible nightmare most of the night. I am not feeling well today, dizzy and sick and looking at the computer makes my head hurt. I tried to dial in to my 8:30 meeting and people's voices made me want to pass out.

Some sort of flu or virus I guess. Taking the day off. reading and dozing. I am missing the work I wanted to get done, swimming, and meeting up with people I wanted to see who are from out of town and also dropping by to see D. as she moves today from the nursing home to chuck's house. All on hold. I miss going to the office and swimming especially as I was looking forward to both.

Ugh, Firefox

Jan. 28th, 2015 03:23 pm
[personal profile] lannamichaels


I had to update Firefox today, unwillingly. I was delaying because of the ForecastFox add-on, which has not been updated for a while and is incompatible with newerfox, and it's basicaly a killer app for me. But enough things were just not working in oldfox that I had to upgrade. Shouldn't be a big deal, right? I've got the most updated version of Firefox on a different computer, so shouldn't be too much of a shock. (And I've been amused to see on that computer how Forecastfox goes in and out of working, it does actually work somedays but not others, I have no idea why.)

Then the upgrade finished and holy hell it lost all my customizations for what it looks like, everything was in a bad place, and I COULDN'T GET IT TO STOP DOING THAT.

So I (re-?) installed Classic Theme Restorer (either I had htis and it wasn't working, or I didn't have this and the problem was the old appearance style was no longer working. And then I followed the instructions on reseting to defaults, and now everything is back and holy fuck I did not need that heart attack.

Seriously, I couldn't even get text with the icons without that extension.

The "options" button until Tools is giving an entirely grey box so I can't even see what's in there right now.



So, uh, anyone know of a good extension replacement for Forecast Fox? I really liked having the current weather in the title bar. :(

Flash

Jan. 28th, 2015 02:02 pm
[personal profile] mariness
I haven't talked much about The Flash here - partly because I haven't talked much about anything here, but mostly because there's just not that much to talk about: it's a fluffy popcorn show. Fun, but for the most part forgettable. But last night's episode, while one of the weakest so far, did something fairly interesting.

Cut for major spoilers for the show and last night's episode, and a spoiler for the first episode of this season's Arrow. )

A mystery (somewhat) resolved

Jan. 28th, 2015 12:52 pm
[personal profile] telophase
Every so often (read, once very 4 or 5 years) I do a web search for the lyrics of a song a counselor taught us at Girl Scout camp in 1980. I have finally tracked down the original.

Read more... )

Want more of The Librarians?

Jan. 28th, 2015 12:59 pm
[personal profile] kass
In the grand old tradition of asking TPTB to make more of the things we love, fans are asking TNT to make a second season of The Librarians. (These days I think it happens via tweeting to @TNTDrama, rather than, e.g., sending 6,000 nerf footballs to the network. Man, that still cracks me up. And it worked, too.)

Also, via Dean Devlin (see The Librarians Season 2: Exec Producer Rallies Fans For TNT Renewal) comes this link to a survey put out by the network itself, which asks a bunch of questions about what we did and didn't like about the season, and also asks what we might wish to see in a second season if there were one.

An idea for another review series

Jan. 28th, 2015 12:59 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Basically, it's a way to use a title I considered in the past for my site but was talked out of:

Graveyard Orbits: authors' final works.

(no subject)

Jan. 28th, 2015 11:22 am
[personal profile] telophase
Over at The Toast, Mallory Ortberg nails House Hunters International.

check your luck

Jan. 28th, 2015 08:37 am
[personal profile] thistleingrey
K. S. Augustin, The Complete Check Your Luck Agency (2014): five short novels in one, handy given that some ended at points I hadn't anticipated. Ursula Formosa, born in Malaysia, has returned there from England after her parents' deaths and taken a job with the eponymous agency, which investigates cases with at least a whiff of the supernatural. It's loosely episodic: one big knot per short novel plus buildup towards a boss battle major problem at #5's end.

Another "It's . . . fine?" read banked, I guess. I really like how the settings in Malaysia and Singapore are described and used---we get quite the tour without the feel of Point A, Point B, Point C---and how the narrative's language reflects adjacent/overlaid cultures;[1] I don't care for the drawn-out aspect of the romance arc, since every problem is delayed for the plot's sake in ways whose cumulative probability approaches zero. I like Ursula in her awkwardness about being thirty and not wanting to acknowledge for a long while that she can see spirits; I don't like how easily the latter and other obstacles are left behind once surmounted. I like the ensemble cast; I don't like how most of them remain backdrop-y across the stories' span. Picky little me. I am glad I've read it.

1. One exception: whether in US/UK standards or in "world" Englishes, "to greet" is transitive. "'Hello,' she greeted" is not a thing and does not get its writer/speaker anything interesting by innovation. (It seems unlikely that Augustin and some number of fanfic writers seek to resuscitate Old English "greotan," which is intransitive but means to wail or lament; cf. probably related "regret." Instead, they're back-forming anew from "greeting," and they're giving me a mild headache from dissonant semantic values.)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
But he knew exactly what he was doing every time he waited for me to get comfortable in bed before turning the radio on last night.

We did get an awful lot of snow

Jan. 28th, 2015 10:22 am
[personal profile] lannamichaels


There's this odd period of post-danger and pre-danger with snowstorms. Once the snow has stopped and the streets are plowed, but before there are a lot of cars out, and before the snow has had time to melt or ice to form, it's actually not that bad out. Sure, I had to walk on the street, but very few cars, so much less danger of getting run over. In places I could walk on the sidewalk, there weren't ice patches yet, or poorly shoveled walks where you are chancing breaking an ankle, and there weren't yet those huge slush puddles/ice sheets where sidewalk meets street.

This is all gonna be hella dangerous and disgusting once slush happens and ice patches show up and there are more cars on the road, and I would not want to drive it in the way that it is right now (I saw enough cars have problems, and that's not even to mention that cars that did not even try to clear off the top and the back windshield, which is so very safe, let me tell you). But walking for a little while in it, not that bad.

I tried to enjoy it, knowing that walking for the next, like, month is gonna be icy and gross.

(also we're apparently getting MOAR SNOW, whyyyyyyy)

Librarians finale

Jan. 28th, 2015 09:41 am
[personal profile] kass
We watched the two final eps of The Librarians S1 last night, and loved both, for different reasons.

Spoilers, sweetie. )

All in all -- a fabulously enjoyable end to an enjoyable season. Does anyone know, is there any chance of a second season?

Wednesday Reading

Jan. 28th, 2015 08:45 am
[personal profile] oracne
I'm currently blazing through High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America by Jessica Harris, whose work I already knew I loved from The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent, which I bought many years ago. It synthesizes a lot of information to show how African foods and cooking influenced the cuisine of the United States. It's making me want to read more about a number of different topics, so I'm hoping there's a good bibliography in the back. Currently, I'm on the bit about catering, and famous free black caterers in Philadelphia and New York City, and it's about to move on to street food.

I've also been reading a lot of fanfiction, but not the sort that really sticks with you, for the most part. Most of it this week was Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes in various scenarios, slash and otherwise. One of the stories had a llama, and that one I can rec without regret.

What a difference ten years makes

Jan. 28th, 2015 09:19 pm
[personal profile] starlady
I suppose I'll have more to say about this after Festivids reveals, but I realized the other day that I've been making fan videos of one sort or another for a decade now. Ten years ago I spent a month in Greece and for that entire month obsessively planned the AMV that became Yuna's Vertigo, though I didn't start editing until I got back to the States in February and I didn't actually upload the video to animemusicvideos.org until March.

For obvious reasons, I don't think amvs.org gets half the credit it deserves in the fannish circles I tend to move in now, but it sure deserves a hell of a lot of credit. Aside from the great Evanescence debacle of--2007? ish?--they have never caved to Big Content companies in terms of take-downs, and the site is still entirely user-supported. As a consequence, every single one of the AMVs I've uploaded there, all 17 of them over five years, is still up and freely available.

You know what else was created in February 2005? A certain video-sharing service that you may have heard of called YouTube, which is now a Google platform that has successively strangled everything that once made the site fun and now has its sights set on the currently thriving indie-music scene. Cory Doctorow says it all with his headline, Google strong-arms indie musicians into accepting brutal, crowdfunding-killing deal for streaming service, but you should go read the whole article. If you're starting to suspect that this streaming service's grossly abusive terms are (among other things) a backdoor through which what's left of the major music labels are trying to choke the thriving indie music scene, take 10 points for Ravenclaw. The great indie cello musician Zoë Keating has posted a verbatim transcript of her conversation with her YouTube rep about the service's terms after Google's PR team called her a liar.

I fucking love Zoë Keating five million times more than I did now, and I loved her a lot before this, let me tell you.

As a result of this latest travesty I've come to the conclusion that I can no longer in good conscience continue to post my vids to YouTube--assuming they'd even let them be uploaded, given the content-matching algorithms that are now in place. Indie music matters a great deal to me, as do the principles of fair use and transformative works, and YouTube and Google are against all of them. I'm voting with my content and taking it somewhere that the owners aren't opposed to my creativity while attempting to profit off others' unfairly.

Unfortunately, it's a hard world out there for vidders who don't have their own hosting (I have this image of us like something out of Mad Max or Nippon no Apachezoku, roaming through an apocalyptic landscape on motorbikes in search of mirage-like refuges), and it shouldn't be the case that we need to have our own hosting to engage in an activity which is demonstrably protected within U.S. copyright law and which should be legally protected worldwide. After reading this discussion hosted by [personal profile] shati, I've come to the conclusion that Critical Commons is our best (last?) hope in terms of hosting for vids. From other people's remarks, it seems fairly easy to sign up for an advanced account, which allows video uploading.

I invite you all to join me.

Cho and Feldman win Crawford Award

Jan. 28th, 2015 12:28 am
[personal profile] qian

z-amazoncover-updatedIMG_20140613_084549

I’ve stolen the headline of the Locus piece for this post because it makes me feel so weird and official. I am the Cho that has won the Crawford Award! It’s for Spirits Abroad, tied with Stephanie Feldman for her novel The Angel of Losses. (Which sounds super cool, and I can think of several people on my friends list who might be interested in it. If they haven’t already read it!)

I’m unbelievably chuffed to be in a list of winners including Karen Lord, Sofia Samatar and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. And Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy! Imagine Spirits Abroad being on the same list as the Black Jewels books. What more is there to say!

Mirrored from Zen Cho.

January 2015

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