Still making very slow progress on The Mayor of Castro Street. I think I read one chapter since last week, lol. ^_^;;
I also have technically started, in that I opened the book, but have not read a single word yet, the most recent Wells & Wong mystery, Mistletoe and Murder. Now that I've caught up, I'll be super sad not to have any more of this series to read! D:
What did you recently finish reading?
A lot. O_O This whole being home from work thing has really done wonders for getting through my to-read pile!
Bookwise, I finished reading First Class Murder and the next book in the series, Jolly Foul Play. I like these books so much!
Comicswise, I finished all the Rick and Morty comics (including the one that came out this week), also also the Lil' Poopy Superstar miniseries. Definitely some fun story arcs in there (I really liked the one that just ended with Jerry from the doofus universe taking over the galaxy).
I also finally read the Star Wars Force Awakens tie-in comic, Shattered Empire, about Poe's mom. That's been on my ipad for a while! It was okay. Really nice art, but the story was just sort of meh.
Another one that's been on my ipad for a while is Lost at Sea, a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley, author of Scott Pilgrim. I love Scott Pilgrim, yet somehow never got around to reading any of his other stuff. I think this may be his first graphic novel; it definitely feels a lot more amateurish than Scott Pilgrim, but I enjoyed it.
I've read a lot of manga, too! I read volumes 2 and 3 of Otouto no Otto, which continues to be awesome. That's all there is so far, and it looks like the next volume might wrap it up, which makes me sad, but I'm glad to have found it.
I also read volume 13 of Silver Spoon and volume 13 of Yotsuba&, both of which have sadly become the sort of series that is on hiatus more than it's actually published, which is sad, because I like them both a lot.
Then I read volume 13 (a lot of 13s here for some reason) of Ore Monogatari!!, which turned out to be the final volume. I'd had no idea it ended! I'm so bad at keeping on top of the series I'm following. ^_^;; Overall I was happy with the ending and I think it ended at a good place. ( Slight spoiler )
And finally, I finished up Aozora Yell. The last volume of this I'd read was volume 12, and then even though I had the next couple volumes on my ipad for ages, I just never read them. So since I was clearing stuff off my ipad, I thought I'd see how many volumes I was behind, only to find that it had ended at volume 19, so now seemed a perfect time to finish it up. I liked the ending a lot!
What do you think you'll read next?
Well, today is my last day of vacation, so I probably won't be getting as much read as I have been (no probably about it, really), but in addition to finishing the books I'm currently reading, I want to continue getting through the manga and comic backlog on my ipad. But I don't know what I'm going to choose next!
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
Bonk by Mary Roach (hilarious, but incredibly cis-het focused)
A Year and a Day in Old Theradane by Scott Lynch (short story)
Deadline by Mira Grant
Apparently it was SFF season! I enjoyed all of them very much and am about to fail to say anything further about them. Book reviews are hard.
Now reading Blackout by Mira Grant.
Fear-based immigration orders.
Harry Belafonte is turning 90 next week.
Tracing New York's lines of desire.
How to survive the next four years like a Frenchwoman. A little humor.
If you haven't seen the 1950s western 'High Noon', see it -- but read this first. And if you've seen it, watch it again for the references to the then-current McCarthyism and resistance. Or just because Gary Cooper was great and Grace Kelly was this unknown actress starting out.
More on cowards in office and the people they supposedly represent calling them to order.
I've recently taken up coloring again, which gave me an excuse to buy a whole lot of colored pencils. To read the reviews on Amazon, each brand is either the best or the worst, as it is with all reviews on Amazon. So of course I was forced to try them all. Or five, so far.
I started out by investigating my pre-existing colored pencil collection. I have a set of twelve Crayola pencils, which are hard and a little waxy and don't blend very well and are kind of faint, color-wise. I have a twenty-four set of Coloray, which apparently were made by Faber Castell and are now discontinued. I also have six Venus Paradise pencils, which you can sell used on eBay for about two bucks a piece because the nostalgia factor is high. Plus various terrible hard waxy pencils I should definitely throw out but probably won't.
Thus begins the great pencil experiment.
In order of increasing cost (actually, it's how much I paid, which isn't the same thing), with price per pencil in USD.
Prang | $0.25
( Cheap and effective. )
Staedtler Ergosoft | $0.42
( Fuzzy with protected cores. )
Staedtler Watercolor Pencils | $0.58
( Soft and easy. )
Koh-I-Noor | $0.65
( Smooth color laydown and a nice feel. )
Prismacolor Premier | $0.92
( Artist quality pencils with soft cores and beautiful color. )
In conclusion, the first set of Prangs I bought were good and the second set terrible, the Koh-I-Noor are probably my favorite due to their versatility, good blending, and feel, but the Staedtler pencils are great too, and I would use Prismacolors if I could afford all them.
And why not a few coloring book recommendations why I'm here. I like things with abstract patterns so I don't have to worry about if I colored a bird wrong, because I will definitely worry about that.
Entangled is a book of abstract designs by Angela Porter that has a nice mix of incredibly detailed fussy little zig-zags and swirls, and some larger floral patterns, and mandalas. It's put out by Creative Haven, and all their books are really nice, with one-sided, perforated pages, and the paper is thick and toothy without being fuzzy; that texture gives my colored pencils a little something to work against. Slippery paper and colored pencils don't really mix. I also have a Creative Haven color-by-numbers book about ocean critters, which is nice for when I don't want to think about what color things should be, but then I find myself disagreeing with them at times, so it's not as relaxing as I'd hoped.
I also like Valentina Harper's work. She uses a lot of lines within larger shapes, as well as little circles inside larger shapes. She's often published by Design Originals, and they have the same toothy one-sided perforated paper as Creative Haven.
If you have to rip back, rip back, carefully. Do it on a flat surface, gently, and the yarn might retain its shape enough to make it easier to pick up the stitches. If you pull at it too strongly, it'll deform and might loosen up further down than you want.
Pick up stitches with a smaller needle and transfer them after. I am working with a 40-inch metal #6 circular needle; I am picking up stitches with a #2 bamboo circular needle. The bamboo needle has very sharp points, good for picking up delicate thread. I pick up with that needle, knit them off onto the larger needle.
Crochet hooks are your friends! They're great at helping you pick up stitches, and reknit ones that laddered down a bit, or where the smaller needle split the yarn and you need the whole yarn for the stitch. Peruvian needles have hooks built into them, which makes them very sensible; those of us who don't have those need a few sizes of regular hooks. I have some in wood, some in metal, and they all work.
Big secret that will save you headaches: you do not have to pick up every stitch facing the right direction with the left side of the stitch hidden behind the needle.) It does not matter, as long as you didn't twist the stitch as you picked it up. As long as the needle you are knitting onto goes *into* the hole in the center of the stitch straight on, with the yarn in back, it's knitting. If you go into the stitch from behind the right-hand side, with the yarn in front, it's purling. Or you can certainly straighten out the stitches on the regular needle by picking them up off the smaller one and making sure they face the direction you want (right side forward, left side behind the needle.)
If you can't see the error, it makes no difference to the stitch count or pattern or final result, it doesn't matter.
Don't torture the yarn. Knitting is supposed to have some stretch in it, some ability to bend. If you feel as if you're knitting something that feels starched when it's not? You're holding the yarn too tightly. There are numerous ways to wrap it around your hand and get control of tension; play with them until you get something you like. I use my mother's method, which wraps around the last one or two fingers, pver the back of the hand and around the index finger. I modify this depending on what I"m working on -- but it doesn't cramp my hand and the yarn flows reasonably.
If you think you need stitch markers, you need stitch markers. Markers are a lot cheaper than ripping back and redoing your work. I have used regular markers, twist ties, earrings, rubber bands, anything that is handy, but the bits of plastic sold as markers work fine and don't catch on the yarn. The pattern I am doing calls for four markers, two at each end of the working area -- but I am adding about 20 more, to get better control of the repeating pattern in the middle. Who the hell makes a 14-stitch repeating lace pattern? This pattern's maker, apparently. Adding the markers made it bearable, and easier to track what went wrong when the count didn't work. Not adding markers because the pattern doesn't mention them and getting confused does not make you macha, but you can end up spending far too much time trying to figure out why that slipped stitch isn't where it's supposed to be or the interesting K2PS (slip a stitch, knit two together, put the slipped stitch over the top, a decrease of two stitches overall) is not working out.
My eyes are not what they used to be. I wear bifocals. If I knit for too long, without looking up, my eyes 'set' at that distance, which is not good. So I turn on whatever is on TV, generally movies, so I have something to look up at that is more than two feet from my eyes. It helps immensely.
Make sure you have enough light to see very well.
Work with yarn that feels good on your fingers and tools that suit you. I love circular needles - but I strongly dislike the expensive sets of them where you have 40 sizes of needle end and long cable to fasten together, because the yarn tends to get stuck at the join. So I have tons of different sizes of needles, a number of duplicates, plus my mother's collection of aluminum or plastic or bone straight needles from the past 60 years. Some I use, some I don't. I tend not to knit with the straight long needles because they put a lot of strain on my wrists, which isn't good. But they're good to hold long amounts of stitches if you're working around, say, a neckline. Do what works for you and don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. I also use the best yarn I can afford that suits a project, because working with cheap nasty stuff is no fun and I won't like the result. But I also spin wool and knit with that sometimes, too. It's all about what works for you.
And if it's not fun, and you don't like the process, and you don't like the result, go do something you like instead. There is no law that says YOU MUST KNIT OR DO NEEDLEWORK TO BE A PROPER FEMALE. Actually, I learned a lot about turning sock heels from my large and macho male cousin, who grew up knitting socks to send to the troops in WWII. So don't make assumptions, either. :)
Speaking of exhausting, they confirmed that my dad has a staph infection, the how and why of which are unknown, but nobody's uttered the terrifying term MRSA so I don't think it's that, at least. He says he feels better and wants to go home, which I guess is something. Dom is supposed to buttonhole the doctor today to get more detailed information. And the social worker has already said that he'll be sent to a rehab facility upon discharge to get him walking again. Keep your fingers crossed!
Wednesday reading, on a Thursday:
What I've just finished
The Cafe La Femme books by Livia Day: A Trifle Dead, The Blackmail Blend, and Drowned Vanilla, all of which I enjoyed very much (Drowned Vanilla even has ice cream recipes I might have to try!), though I really hope the whole situation with Stewart gets resolved satisfactorily (by which I mean, in a poly relationship for Tabitha, rather than her choosing one or the other guy).
What I'm reading now
I just started The Bees by Laline Paull, and I mean literally just started so I have nothing to say about it yet.
What I'm reading next
The Occupation has rescinded the access to appropriate bathrooms that Obama guaranteed for transgender people.
Standing Rock camp closes.
The five Trump administrations -- entertainment, cleanup, crazy, GOP, and essential -- and the perils of Potemkin democracy. And let's not forget poorly thought out economics.
The folly of abolishing the National Endowment for the Arts.
What Facebook owes to journalism -- and what it could do to support good reporting with 1% of its profits.
Protesters jeer at cowardly Congressmen who don't have the guts to face their constituents. And a woman whose husband is dying confronts her Congressman: “And you want to stand there with him at home, expect us to be calm, cool, and collected? Well what kind of insurance do you have?” And that was only the start.
Democratic Senators introduce legislation to stop the deportations.
The British Parliament votes no to a state visit from Trump. The vote is emphatic but nonbinding -- he can still visit, but it won't be the whole formal deal that other presidents received.
This is the page in Congress.gov for House Bill 610, which takes away free lunches from children who need them, and turns money for public schools into vouchers for private schools, as a way to destroy public education in America. Read it. Write your Congresspeople about it. Tell them to defeat it.
US libraries become sanctuary spaces, in resistance.
funded of $20,000 goal
(If the name behind it sounds familiar -- yes, this is the same Linda Sarsour who was one of the Women's March on Washington organizers, among other activist accomplishments.)
Negotiated an extension of my appeal against the ATO’s refusal to relodge my 2012 and 2013 tax returns.
Represented my boss at a hierarchical meeting where we had to sit by rank.
Attended a meeting with Pearl’s teacher about her ongoing issues and never-quite-diagnosed Autism.
I have adulted enough. I think now a cruise of some crystal blue ocean in a flying boat is in order.
2. We had roast chicken, asparagus, and butternut squash soup for dinner and it was all so delicious. The soup was bought, the sort you get from the grocery store deli, but everything else was homemade. I also made a rhubarb custard pie for dessert, so it was a pretty awesome evening food-wise.
3. We took a nice walk this morning, about a mile and a half. That's the longest Carla's been able to walk in a while, and although it wore her out, she was still able to make dinner and we even took another shorter walk in the evening.
4. We got a new vacuum today. I'd had it on my Amazon wishlist for a while and then the price dropped last week, so I went ahead and ordered it. Our old vacuum wasn't totally dead, but it was getting there, and also it was super loud, which bothered the kitties and also bothered Carla, especially when she's migrainey, so we got one that's supposed to be quieter and it really is pretty quiet for a vacuum! The cats still weren't thrilled with it, but Carla said it didn't bother her at all, and it did a better job than our old one, too, so I'm pretty pleased with it. (Also it has a retractable cord, which is great!)
5. Molly's always so cute when she gets on my desk demanding pets. :)
Fandom: Captain America (Movies), Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Steve Rogers, Bette Davis, John Garfield, USO Tour Dancers (Marvel), Original Characters, Barbara Stanwyck, Gene Tierney, William Powell, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott
Additional Tags: Golden Age Hollywood, Hollywood Canteen, World War II, The Star-Making Machinery, Propaganda, someone's going to get his V-card punched, and by someone I mean Steve, Letters, Period Typical Attitudes, Minor Bucky Barnes/Steve Rogers, First Motion Picture Unit
The talk of the town last night was Captain America’s star-spangled appearance at the Hollywood Canteen, where the ladies swooned and the gentlemen cheered. Rumor has it he will be meeting with studio heads to discuss bringing his patriotic man with a plan to the silver screen.
Title: You Will Hear the Voice of the Dead
Original Title: 死人との声をきくがよい (Shibito no Koe wo Kiku ga Yoi)
Author: Hiyodori Sachiko (Uguisu Sachiko)
Publisher: Champion Red Comics
Status in Japan: 8 volumes, ongoing
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates
Summary: Sickly Kishida Jun has the ability to see ghosts, but in his opinion, it's a stupid power and nothing good ever comes of it. Considering the number of grisly situations he seems to find himself in after the ghost of his childhood friend Hayakawa Ryoko starts following him around, he may have a point.
Chapter Summary: The occult club heads to nearby Mt. Urakami in hopes of catching a mythical animal called a tsuchinoko.
Chapter 8: Capture the Tsuchinoko on Mt. Urakami!
5 things you’ll find in my bag
1. Druuuuugs. By which I mean a sheet of generic Sudafed and a little mint tin filled with Advil and Excedrin. I have a lot of headaches, okay.
2. A set of headphones. I don’t go ANYWHERE without the ability to plug into my phone and tune out the world.
3. Small notebook. I almost never use it–I take pictures of things rather than writing notes/lists for myself, or make To Do items in Habitica–but it’s nice to know it’s there.
4. An actual metal nail file. I bite my nails, not constantly, but enough that “ugh my nails are raggedy and it is Bothering Me” is a thing that I need to be able to deal with at any time.
5. Pretty enameled compact mirror that I got as a bridesmaid’s gift for standing up in my little brother’s wedding five years ago. I pretty much never wear makeup, but a tiny mirror is handy sometimes!
( Read more... )
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2m9OohB
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I absolutely loved this book. Many of Collins's novels are predicated on a secret, and this is clearly no exception. What I really liked about this book (in comparison to, say, Man and Wife where the audience is in on the secret the whole time) is that the secret is kept from the audience until almost the very end. For a good half of the book, I had no clue what the secret might be, and then I started to suspect what the secret was but not the why of it. The mystery aspect of the novel is really well done. Collins misdirects multiple times, leaving little clues that end up going nowhere or suggesting something about someone's personality that ends up not playing out the way the reader might think.
The characters are very well drawn and interesting. One of the main characters is blind, and his wife serves as his eyes, giving Collins ample opportunity for beautiful prose and sparkling dialogue.
I don't want to spoil what the secret is, but I will say that it's heartbreaking, and I found myself moved to tears by the novel's end.
So, if you like a good mystery, a heaping helping of gothic trappings, irascible old misanthropes, and beautiful young women who can describe the contents of a room as if they're reciting poetry, this is the novel for you!
View all my reviews
As for the story, the second half of this is an action movie, and it just didn't work for me. Lots of blood and violence, some animal harm, and a general confusion as to what was going on. This volume does have the issue where Clint's been deafened and that's an important one, with its empty speech bubbles and panels with ASL. But it also has some weird nondenominational winter holiday issue with symbolic cartoon dogs that doesn't fit into this storyline at all. Then there's an issue that's background for Clint's relationship with his brother, which had a great look with Francavilla's art, but felt like someone somewhere was like, oh shit, we have to introduce Barney, quick, do a thing. It felt isolated from the rest of the story.
Basically I think this graphic novel's a collected mess, and though it does bring some resolution to the whole building/tracksuit bro business; it doesn't even approach the Kate and Clint problem. And, surprise, I still have no clue who Jess is or where she came from or—look, I love Fraction's dialogue, and his Clint and Kate, but his storytelling has always left me with more questions than answers, and they're not the good kind of questions. They're like "Where did that money come from?" and "He was married? To her?" This is just more of the same.
Author: Yoshida Akimi
Publisher: Flower Comics
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations feat. Molly
Status in Japan: 12 volumes, complete
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates
Summary: Twelve-year-old Sei lives a normal, quiet life on a small island in Okinawa until one day a strange man who seems to know his mother shows up and tries to kidnap him. After that, nothing is normal or quiet in this sci-fi thriller from the author of Banana Fish.
Chapter Summary: Sei and the Amamiyas arrive on Ogami, and the hunt for Dr. Smith's diary begins.
I'm glad to have figured that out, because I want to keep up the writing momentum. And when I say momentum, I'm not kidding. Since February 11, not counting today, I have written 9502 words. In ten days.
NINE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED. AND TWO.
I realize this is a day at the office for some people, but that is probably more than my entire fannish output over the past...five years? This is original fiction, but I'm hoping that when I'm done writing it, in maybe a week, I'll be able to apply it to fanfic.
I'm not entirely sure what switch got flipped, but I'm not complaining.
But a whole lot of it is you all. You, who read what I put here and pass it along and comment intelligently. (Do you have any clue how rare intelligent comments are?) And you write fanfic about characters I care about -- you tell the truth aslant by putting it in the mouths of characters and making it real -- and record it so I can listen to it in the truck, and come up with alternate universes and ways to show me new worlds at an angle.
If I could, I'd buy you all coffee, or good wine, or sing you all a song I wrote about friends. (No, it's not on YouTube, and it won't be; it'll be some time before my voice is back to singing well.) I do what I can, which is to hold this space, to put things in it that I hope are helpful and that I hope aren't going to drive you to despair, and I try to put in some cheerful or offbeat things also. (I purely love the woman who stood off an intruder with a broadsword, for instance. SCA and similar for the win!)
What I am saying is this: if you weren't there, I wouldn't be here doing this.
The Second Amendment does not grant any right to own an assault weapon. So says the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals. So say we all. A similar ruling was decided by a court in Maryland, also.
As if there was anything else needed to make this Occupation look sleazier: how Rump and Bannon (I keep wanting to type Bannock, but that would slander a perfectly good pastry) are connected to pedophilia-advocate Milo Yiannopoulos.
The most important thing to know about Trump's deportation force is that they will be going after everyone they can. Any way they can. Every way they can. More here.
This is evil. Trump signed the bill getting rid of protection for streams. Say goodbye to trout, turtles, frogs and toads, and hello to mosquitos, poor water quality, and devastation for anything relying on that water. This is an attack on rural and urban America, on water flowing through farmland and through suburbs.
Two Russians admit to colluding with the Trump Campaign.
Independent film theatres are screening '1984' to protest the incremental authoritarianism. And would it surprise you to find that the Orwell novel is free on Kindle?
In Virginia, the governor vetoes a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Thank you for women's lives, Gov. McAuliffe.
Students at a high school in Carroll County, MD, one of the less diverse areas of the state, were forced to take down diversity posters as 'anti-Trump'. But there's a campaign on to put the poster images on t-shirts the kids can wear. The posters are beautiful works of art by Shepard Fairey.
What to do when a restaurant puts a 'minimum wage service charge' on your bill -- that is, asks for money that is not for tips or for the cost of the meal, but theoretically to offset the cost of paying an actual living minimum wage. Cheap-ass jerks would not get return business from me. I'd give a big cash tip to the server, give the owners a piece of my mind about their underpayment of hard-working employees, and leave. Permanently. I tend to be hot-headed about mistreatment of restaurant staff, since I worked hostess for the overnight shift in a pancake house for a while, dealing with drunks, cops, wedding parties, exchange student employees and a misbehaving dishwashing machine. As hostess, I got a nickel more an hour than the waitresses, but I didn't get any of the tips. I also had to go outside and wash the glass doors even in snowstorms. It was not worth the trouble after a couple of months.
Did you see that ridiculous save Carey Price made on JT Miller last night in OT? I can't hate Carey Price but ugh, the Habs. And then the fucking shootout. I can and do hate the shootout.
The Flash: Attack on Gorilla City
GORILLA CITY! ONE NATION UNDER GRODD!!!
( spoilers )
I keep getting distracted and I can't remember what else I was going to say, so I guess I'll just hit post.
This is evil. ICE vans picking up parents as they come to get their kids at school, leaving children behind alone. Teachers are hiding the kids, sneaking them out, telling them not to come to school tomorrow.
Parents: Scarlet fever has returned.
Towers of secrecy; behind the shell companies.
The facts, not the alt-facts: Rump was bailed out of bankruptcy by Russian mobsters. He owes the Russian mob.
This is also evil. First take away health care, then take away food. The House of People who Do Not Truly Represent The Best Interests of Their Constituents wants to cut back on free lunches for kids who don't get that much food anyway. Yell loudly at your Congressperson about this!
Intellectual integrity and the news. Rump objects to objectivity itself. Read this.
Is Rump's thin skin keeping the government understaffed? Rump is clueless about how government works -- such as actually needing people to assist other people to get stuff done.
Roller derby woman subdues intruder with sword.
Withering into the truth.
(I only link to one retail outlet in the book's listing, but most books are available at multiple outlets, like Kobo, iBooks, international Amazons, Barnes & Noble, etc. The short stories are usually on free online magazines.)
* Free Story: Extracurricular Activities by Yoon Ha Lee
A space opera adventure set in a distant future where an undercover agent has to go behind enemy lines to recover a lost ship and a possible traitor.
* The White Road of the Moon by Rachel Neumeier
Imagine you live with your aunt, who hates you so much she’s going to sell you into a dreadful apprenticeship. Imagine you run away before that can happen. Imagine that you can see ghosts—and talk with the dead. People like you are feared, even shunned.
* Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi
Packed with dark magic and thrilling action, Beasts Made of Night is a gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy perfect for fans of Paolo Bacigalupi and Nnedi Okorafor. In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt. Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.
* The Song of the Dead by Carrie Patel
Finally, the lost histories of the Catastrophe will be revealed and with them the ultimate fate of the buried city of Recoletta in thedramatic conclusion to Carrie Patel’s trilogy. With Ruthers dead and the Library Accord signed by Recoletta, its neighbours, and its farming communes, Inspector Malone and her partner Laundress Jane Lin are in limbo as the city leaders around them vie for power.
* The Truth About Cats and Wolves by Alethea Kontis
Like many paranormals of Greek descent, Kai Xanthopoulos will not know her true nature until her young powers fully manifest. Unlike her parents—and much to the dismay of her stray cat best friend—Kai has chosen not to spend the rest of her life at the diner in Nocturne Falls. She takes a job at Delaney’s Delectables instead, a decision that puts her directly in the path of a fugitive werewolf that could change her destiny...
* Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine
Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny.... Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.
* The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard
The multi-award-winning author of The House of Shattered Wings continues her Dominion of the Fallen saga as Paris endures the aftermath of a devastating arcane war.... As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the great Houses of Paris, ruled by Fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital. House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Phillippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal—to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic might be more than he can bear.
* The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho
A tale of first love, bad theology and robot reincarnation in the Chinese afterlife. In the tenth court of hell, spirits wealthy enough to bribe the bureaucrats of the underworld can avoid both the torments of hell and the irreversible change of reincarnation.
* With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley Beaulieu
Çeda, now a Blade Maiden in service to the kings of Sharakhai, trains as one of their elite warriors, gleaning secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further their rule. She knows the dark history of the asirim—that hundreds of years ago they were enslaved to the kings against their will—but when she bonds with them as a Maiden, chaining them to her, she feels their pain as if her own. They hunger for release, they demand it, but with the power of the gods compelling them, they find their chains unbreakable.
* Ghost Summer by Tananarive Due
Stephen King says, "Ms. Due accomplishes the hardest thing of all with deceptive ease, creating characters we care about on their most human level." Whether weaving family life and history into dark fiction or writing speculative Afrofuturism, American Book Award winner and Essence bestselling author Tananarive Due's work is both riveting and enlightening. In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghost; into future scenarios that seem all too real; and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness. Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories-one of which has never been published before-GHOST SUMMER: STORIES, is sure to both haunt and delight.
Art rec: Beautiful ink and watercolor paintings by Likhain
Barnes and Noble Blog: The 2016 Nebula Award Nominees Show Us Diverse New Worlds
Let me see now: 45's personal attorney, who has Mafia ties? met with Putin's dealmaker to lift US sanctions? And while Trump is in Florida, Pence is on an apology tour of Europe. Who's running this ship?
Resistance: Jam the courts, blow the whistles, shut down the kitchen. Why? Because he's not my president.
As same-sex marriage became legal, teen suicides dropped.
HSA's nasty deportation plan is even nastier than expected. More details here.
Hidden portrait under a Degas painting. And a hidden continent under New Zealand.
What conservative voters don't get, explained.
Odo, I have never called anyone a cinnamon roll before, but you are testing me with your careful preparation for a breakfast meeting with Kira. He and Worf also seem to be bonding over the fact that everything on DS9 is chaotic. Stupid humans, stupid other species.
But now Odo has to watch again as Kira hooks up with a powerful member of the Bajoran government. She can have a relationship with whoever she wants, of course, but I think it's worse for Odo that it's another powerful, important man.
"Return to Grace"
I didn't remember that Dukat got demoted, disowned, and divorced for bringing Ziyal back to Cardassia. And I think I always remembered Dukat as a flat-out antagonist and opportunist, but I really think there is genuine respect, even grudging friendship, between him and Kira, or him and Sisko. In this middle stretch of the series, it's the Klingons who are the enemy, along with the Dominion.
Oh, hey, I think that's the first appearance of Damar.
This episode is mostly to reassure us that the Klingons are still doing bad things, and to get Dukat back to a position of power in the government.
( chatting about food and beer )
I don't seem to be doing much fannish stuff lately, unless you count reading lots of fanfic. Geoff and I are watching The Expanse, which I found slow to grab me at first -- partly because I have trouble hearing what the characters are saying! I'm not sure if it's the sound design of the show, the quality of our TV, or my own hearing -- but which is definitely getting interesting as it continues, and it's also gorgeously produced. We were riveted by Westworld, but the second season won't drop until 2018, sigh. I'm still really enjoying Elementary. In the theater, I've recently seen Hidden Figures (wonderful) and Moonlight (stunningly wonderful). And Geoff, a friend, and I just snagged tickets to The Book of Mormon on stage in Montreal in April! I didn't think I'd ever get to see it, but now I will -- yay! (Now if only Avenue Q would come here...)
Escapade is in a couple of weeks, and I haven't even looked at the programming, but then I rarely do; I just see what looks interesting when I get there. I'll be volunteering for the art show, of course, and I expect I'll be auctioning, but I'm so glad not to be running it any more. Mostly I'm looking forward to seeing people!
Read Yoon Ha Lee's 'The Battle of Candle Arc' and 'Extracurricular Activities'. Immediately brandished 'Extracurricular Activities' at two other non-binary people I know, because of Shuos Meng. I should say something about how much I enjoyed the story as a story, because I did, very much, but I am still stuck on THEY/THEM PRONOUNS WITHOUT FUSS OR EXPLANATION. This is such a big deal for me. (And now ironically I have just made a fuss about the thing I'm applauding for not making a fuss.)
About a quarter through Aliette de Bodard's House of Shattered Wings. I like the setting a lot, but I haven't totally warmed up to the characters yet.
Started Cynthia Kim's (blogger of Musings of an Aspie) memoir Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate. So far I'm only as far in as the adult diagnosis story, and can relate to her reading the symptom list and going "but wait, isn't that everyone?"
Finished reading Daring Greatly and arguing with Brené Brown in my head. (And making up spoonerisms for the title. Dearly Grating, Grating Dearly, Drear'ly Gating, Dating Grearly (who?), Grading Tear'ly, Gearing Dratly... Okay, maybe I haven't finished doing that.)
"I've come to believe that a leader is anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes. The term leader has nothing to do with position, status, or number of direct reports. I wrote this chapter for all of us -- parents, teachers, community volunteers, and CEOs -- anyone who is willing to dare greatly and lead."
That passage is interesting to me for two reasons. Firstly, it outlines who Dr Brown believes is her audience. She may say it's for everyone, but the people who come to her mind are the two overlapping circles of "people on the PTA" and "people who give TED talks or want to give TED talks and their regular audiences". In other words, her own peers. People who drive minivans, and people who use "disruptive" in an approving way with a straight face. People who were "a little wild in college" but settled down after that and don't want their children to follow in their footsteps. Principally women, specifically mothers.
The other reason it's interesting is that her definition of leadership does not have any requirement at all for the consent of the governed or the accountability of the leaders (except self-accountability.) It doesn't seem to involve a relationship between leader and led at all. By her definition, right here in this blog post, by identifying ways that she could improve her book, without having addressed her or interacted with her at all, I am leading Dr Brown. (But if I lead her to water, will she drink it?)
I suspect this definition of leader would be particularly appealing to people who want to feel like leaders. But then, I'm not "in the arena" with her, so my criticism is not valid. (Question: does she count the people being led as "in the arena" with their leaders? Or only other leaders and would-be leaders? From her previous descriptions of accountability to criticism, I suspect the latter. And for a book about courage, it's striking how the examples she gives of confrontation are mainly lateral or downward, e.g. confronting one's spouse, confronting one's child, confronting one's employee. Not confronting one's parent or supervisor or political leaders.)
My other beef with her last week about "normalising discomfort" as part of the learning process. I agree that discomfort is necessary for real learning. I do agree with that. BUT. She did not discuss the other half of this, which is that comfort is necessary for real learning. I think it's irresponsible not to talk about the one without the other, especially in a culture where "more is better" is such a chronic problem. I think "normalise discomfort", without setting bounds on how much discomfort or for how long, or checking the students' current and historical comfort and safety levels or what their other stressors are, is very dangerous advice to give. I'm sorry if I stated that too strongly, on rereading this paragraph I'm aware I sound like That Person expecting way too much of teachers with limited resources. I'm sorry. I just... "normalise discomfort" without any qualifiers gives me the howling fantods.
Aaaaand then she lost my respect entirely in the chapter on parenting, with this passage:
"If there's real abuse happening, by all means, call the police. If not, we shouldn't call it abuse. As a social worker who spent a year interning at Child Protective Services, I have little tolerance for debates that casually use the terms abuse or neglect to scare or belittle parents who are simply doing things that we judge as wrong, different, or bad."
I would have thought that as a social worker who spent a year interning at Child Protective Services, she'd have learned that sometimes in cases of genuine abuse and neglect, the police cannot or will not help. And I would have thought that as a sociologist she'd care more about the survivors of abuse and neglect having language to describe what they've experienced without having to worry about it meeting the standard of making a police officer care. Not to mention that different police officers will make different judgement calls on the same incident. Can I get a second opinion before I'm allowed to say the A-word or the N-word? What other things does she hold to that standard? Fuck you.
There were good things in this book. I appreciated her ideas on the gap between values and lived experience, and on fitting in vs belonging. Generally I like her better as a researcher than as a "thought-leader". She's a lot better writing about her research rather than her opinions or judgements.
Chocolate Box! I got two stories, Shadow Boxing and What He Needs, both Iron Bull/Vivienne (Dragon Age: Inquisition) and both awesome. And I wrote one story, A Guide To Moods (Long Live The Queen, mind the warnings.)
And Psychic Wolves for Lupercalia, for which I wrote Mouth of the Wolf (Imperial Radch, mind the warnings for this too.)
I particularly enjoyed petra's psychic wolf fic this year, Paperwork can save your life (B99.)
TV and Movies
Watched the DVD of the 25th anniversary concert performance of Les Mis. That was the first time I've ever seen or heard the whole musical. I'd heard songs from it (it is not possible to grow up in this culture without hearing some songs from it, and definitely not possible to study music at university without hearing songs from it!) but I wanted to read the book first because I am strange and obsessive.
So that was a lot.
Not being familiar with the libretto, I was struggling a bit with not laughing at the rhyming couplets. Or at every use of the word "come" in the first act finale, because I'm clearly too immature to be watching this. (The DVD is rated PG for "mild themes". If I were Claude-Michel Schönberg, I think I'd be offended at that. Mild?)
I think this was a good choice for my introduction to the musical. In particular I thought Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean was really, really good. His fil di voce alone was worth the price of the DVD. Norm Lewis as Javert was not as vocally amazing as Boe, but his voice was definitely still good, and his acting and presence were amazing. Lea Salonga, as Fantine, didn't really win me over in the first act, but in her last scene... yeah, okay. ;_____;
I liked Gavroche, but kind of expected there would be more Gavroche in the musical than there was, based on the book. Same problem with the Amis in general. Eponine was awesome. Nick Jonas as Marius didn't impress me. He wasn't terrible by any means, but he didn't impress me. But he was playing Marius, so that worked -- Marius is a very unimpressive character. I have heard better renditions of 'Empty Chairs and Empty Tables', but his wasn't dismal. The staging of that song was great, though, with the ghosts of his dead friends all standing behind him glowering, and then walking away in disgust when he sang "Ah my friends, my friends, don't ask me / What your sacrifice was for."
Tiny Cosette was simple and effective. (Twelve-year-old vass has Opinions about the tempo and phrasing of 'Castle on a Cloud', but is prepared to blame the conductor for that, not the singer. Thirty-six-year-old vass thinks Past Self and the conductor are both wrong, but the conductor's less wrong.) Grown-up Cosette was unimpressive, but like Marius, it's a very unimpressive part. Not her fault.
Generally I liked the Amis. Courfeyrac (Killian Donnelly) looked a LOT like someone I went to uni with. Enjolras, played by Ramin Karimloo, in contrast to Alfie Boe's combination of heroic vocal strength plus really good technique, was singing kinda like he knew he was going to die on the barricades tonight so it didn't really matter if he had no voice left tomorrow. Not saying he wasn't good, just that wow that is not vocally healthy or sustainable. I hope he didn't have a matinee the next day. Or week. Grantaire did not sing like he was about to die (Good. One of those was enough,) but he did act like he had just had the epiphany that if he's about to die on the barricades tonight, he's got nothing to lose by making that pass at Enjolras after all, and Enjolras might just be humanly scared enough to be receptive to "Do you want to die a virgin, Apollo?" as a pick-up line. After Grantaire's verse, Enjolras allowed R to put his hand on his neck in a way that implied he probably would be deflowering him under a table shortly before their shared martyrdom. So that was nice.
This production depicted the deaths by allowing the technical crew to do WHATEVER THEY WANTED with lights. Ouch. I kept thinking of Arthur Wellesly's reported reaction to being asked if Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture was like the battle. "If it had been, I'd have run away myself."
Here is skygiants' review of the same performance, with screencaps.
Still on the Hidden Almanac kick. Am considering writing fanfic. I think it'd be great for fusion fic. "On this day, fifteen years after the end of the Time of Isolation, Emperor Dorca the Just appointed Piotr Vorkosigan to be his general. And it was on this day, four hundred and thirty two years before that, during the Zidiarch Trade War, when the fifth Count Vortala named his horse as heir. It is not known what sort of count Lord Midnight would have made, as the horse did not survive the war. In the garden, bloody puffwort is springing up. Many Barrayarans believe this to be a weed, but there are offworlders who think its rusty colour and unusual texture have a unique charm..." (the host in this particular universe would probably be Ekaterin, Countess Vorkosigan.)
First attempt at room spray. I used this recipe, but instead of essential oil I used homemade vanilla essence, and instead of following the recipe I filled my little spray bottle about 40% full with distilled water, then another 40% with vodka, then the rest of the way with the vanilla, then capped it and shook it. It turned out very, very mild. Mild enough to be less "room spray" and more "faintly nice-smelling thing you could spritz yourself with to cool down."
In retrospect, duh: my vanilla essence is already a solution of oil in alcohol. I literally made it by covering a bunch of split vanilla beans in vodka and leaving them somewhere cool and dark for a few months. I should have done half an half vanilla extract and distilled water, or maybe 40/60. Also I should add a drop or two of something else, because it is very one note for a fragrance. I mean, literally it is one note.
Made a journal cover like this. Which looks a lot more complicated than what it is, which is like a cross between cutting out Contact paper to wrap school books in, and making a cushion cover. Pro tip: you don't have to do a seam along middle of the top and bottom. That bit can just be folded up and should stay in place because it's connected to the part you do sew (if you don't cut it.) Ironing the seams well is important, though (ugh.)
I used a length of fabric I tie-dyed sort-of-vaguely-Shibori style this time last year. I like to believe that in this way I will eventually get around to completing all my craft projects.
Coloured another bookmark.
Some more tomatoes. Not a huge crop, but already more than I've ever grown in my life. That's not a high bar to clear, though.
Baked this bread. It was as easy as promised, and the texture was good. Nice for Vegemite sandwiches -- the flavour is a bit bland for just bread and butter.
In better things, L and I had a lovely late lunch yesterday at Nancy Lee's Pig Heaven, which I recommend to you if you like pork in your Chinese food, and especially if you like spare ribs. The weather was beautiful all weekend, and it was nice to be out and about. I know spring is still a ways off (and this winter has not been terrible), but it's closer every day, and I find that heartening.
Supergirl: Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk
( spoilers )
Jane the Virgin: Chapter Fifty-Six
( spoilers )
I am so looking forward to tonight's Flash! GORILLA CITY!!!
I posted a story last night:
if you find yourself lost, dig (@ AO3)
Star Wars; Rey, Leia; g; 3,225 words
Rey and Leia bond after an ambush leaves them stranded.
I feel like it still has some awkward edges I could have probably edited away if my brain didn't feel like wet cement, but I just wanted to be finished, and even getting it into this shape was like pulling teeth. It does what I wanted it to, I think, though I'm never sure if that comes through to other people or not. *hands*
And then there's the time it totally freaked out a manipulative jerk who surely deserved it.
I've taken the standard Stanford-Binet IQ test a few times -- enough that I am really comfortable with it, which I am sure psychologists don't want. I consider the time when my uncle the psychologist gave it to me to be the definitive measurement -- I'd had it a couple of times before, but not enough to learn it. But by the last time, when I was in grad school, I had it down.
The guy who had asked me was a psych major who had to give X number of tests to Y number of people for practice. He was also somewhat manipulative and annoying, but I'd said I'd do it. Didn't mean I'd do it as he expected.
The test is timed - so many seconds or minutes for each part. I finished them early, all of them, and kept nagging him to hurry up, I was getting bored. He started out looking nervous and ended up looking close to terrified. Part of the agreement was that I wasn't supposed to get the results, because it was a practice session; however, I got a peek at a paper and he had marked it as well over 200. Apparently, only people who are scary smart will nag the administrator of the test to speed up.
I'm not *that* smart. I do remember things very well, after several times word for word. Funny how they never seem to ask if you've done it before, or control for the possibility of familiarity.
As it was, he steered clear of me the rest of the time I was there, and that was just fine with me.
The president of CNN says reporters are wearing 45's insults as a badge of honor because it means they're doing their jobs. And newsman Jake Tapper describes the difference between conspiracy theories and facts, in case 45 doesn't know.
The uninterested,unpaid, unengaged First Lady. ETA: I support giving the office of the First Lady its own budget. I do not support paying Melania, who with her daughter is using high public office to shill for their own products and personal benefit. Public service is public service, not an invitation to pad your wallet from the public.
Advice for conservative students: you're not victims.
The First Family's travels this month have cost you and me as much as the Obamas' travels cost in a year.
Why were members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus kept out of a meeting with ICE, the anti-immigration force? Quote:
Inside the meeting, Democrats complained about the closed-door policy.
“I've never been in a meeting where an agency can designate who can attend,” said Pelosi, according to an aide.
Bear in mind, a Texas woman seeking protection from domestic violence was detained by ICE instead.
In Florida, the state Supreme Court gets the state out of women's uteruses and decisions. Now if other states would pay attention...
In Russia domestic violence has been decriminalized -- with support from the Russian Orthodox Church, to its everlasting shame.
Mexico's economic minister attempts to educate 45 about the ill effects of a trade war.
If the point is religious freedom, why mention only one belief?
North of Kingman, Arizona, someone is destroying the ancient and protected Joshua Trees.
The future of zoos. I would like to see zoos that are not prisons for innocents.
Pope Francis is making headway with liberal reforms.
In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver, from American Primitive.
Look, the trees
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
This is...not precisely new, but night precisely not-new either.
For most of my life, when I wasn't going through a deep depression, that was exactly how my body worked.
In middle school and high school I would stay up late reading, in college it was reading, homework, goofing off online or some combination of the three. Some nights it was just because I'm both a night owl and kind of insomniac. Anyway, I'd stay up late get 5-6 hours sleep and then get up early for school the next day and be basically fine, then do the same thing the next day and the next day until eventually I had a weekend day where I crashed and slept until I woke up naturally some 12 hours later.
When I was working I'd stay up late, often talking to my night-owl long-distance girlfriend, or reading fic or otherwise just not bothering to go to bed. And again, I'd use the weekend to catch up on the sleep shortage.
But since I moved up here, that's really not been how my body was behaving and I thought maybe it was just a matter of aging out of it. That kind of thing is a young-woman's game after all and while I'm still younger than many of my online friends I'm 36 and that does make a difference.
But still, except when I was going through an extended depressive period and didn't want to get out of bed period, I was sleeping...normal amounts of sleep.
Then, a couple years ago, I went on the much-loathed olanzapine, and suddenly 8 hours wasn't enough. My body demanded 10-12 hours every night without fail. Often with supplementary naps during the day. This was only one of the unpleasant side-effects of Olanzapine, it wasn't necessarily the worst one (that has to go to the diabetes), but it certainly was the one that had the most deleterious impact on my day-to-day life.
I've been off the olanzapine completely for almost two months and one-by-one the olanzapine side-effects are disappearing. Now it seems to be the sleep-issues going away, and apparently they've reset my sleep schedule while their at it.
I got nothing. But considering I have to be up in a little under 5 hours to feed/med the cat, I'm not really complaining.
I usually get about 6-8 comics a week, release schedules being release schedules some weeks are lighter and some weeks are heavier. This week was a kind of ridiculous 13 new comics, which took us several hours of gleeful reading to get through. I mostly read Marvel, with some smaller publishers thrown in.
Comics read this week: The Mighty Thor #16, Doctor Strange #17, Spider-Man #13, Patsy Walker, aka Hellcat #15, Ultimates 2 #4, Star-Lord #3, Black Panther: World of Wakanda #4, Invincible Iron Man #4, U.S. Avengers #3, Gamora #3, Lumberjanes #35, Sex Criminals #16.
Everything was pretty great this week, but I think my favorites were Invincible Iron Man and The Mighty Thor, both of which were outstanding.
More specific somewhat-spoilery comments behind the cut.
ETA: 3500 words and several hours later I think I'm done. I'm going to have to try to be less wordy in the future. I'm not sure anyone wants to read 3500 words of me blagging about comics, but I enjoyed writing it and I guess that's what counts.
( make mine (mostly) Marvel )
2. We went to the store this afternoon and went over to See's Candy while we were there. I had a gift card left from Christmas but I had no idea how much money was left on it, so I just got what I wanted and it turned out to be almost exactly the right amount!
3. It was rainy today, but only sprinkling when we went out. It looks like we're supposed to have a few clear days before more rain this weekend, which is also nice (both the clear days and more rain).
4. Chloe and Jasper are just too cute when they sleep together. I really hope to eventually see him and Molly cuddled up like this, too.
also, gdi, I have ANOTHER new pairing now. Hai, Julia/Margo. Welcome to my personal hell.