bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
So my computer developed a corrupt registry file )

*

ANYWAY, it's nice to have my machine back, with nothing lost. And the fridge and freezer are stocked again after an epic grocery trip, assisted by a rent credit from my landlady. I learned a ton in the After Effects class. mention of parental health issue ) So life continues okay.

Media has been a bit thin on the ground of late, as you might guess. I'm reading Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy many years after [livejournal.com profile] synn gifted them to me; after a slow start, am now ~100 pages into book two and so far so good. Watching Die Another Day and now Skyfall on TV in the background; first time seeing either. Need to get back to source watching for the auction vid, and there's a belated Equinox treat that's finally possible now that the movie I need is out on DVD.

It looks like I'm not bringing any vids to Vividcon this year, which feels weird. But I do get a [personal profile] corbae as a roommate.

*

Good wishes to those of you who are struggling. Greetings to everyone else.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I finished Every Heart a Doorway (previous post) and... hm.

Reviewing the story from a personal/subjective perspective, rather than formally assessing its structure and so forth: spoilers )
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Today I started reading the e-book of Every Heart a Doorway that Tor.com is offering for free until midnight Eastern. I hadn't read anything by Seanan McGuire before, despite many of your rave reviews, and the blurbs I'd seen for this book hadn't grabbed me. Well, it turns out that all anyone needed to have said was spoiler? it's mentioned in chapter 1 ) and I'd've been on this much faster!

More on that: ) *cough* Up my alley, even though it's only a small part of the story.

I'm enjoying general themes and a couple of characterization points ). The prose could be tighter, but I guess it's YA? Whatever: it's working, because I'm already two-thirds of the way through.

For me it's the happy medium between the grotesquerie of Catherynne Valente's Deathless and the -- what's the word for when you need more tension? -- uneventful, I guess, utopia of Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet; but that's a subject for a more intensive post that I do not have the brain cells to write these days.


ETA: thoughts on the ending.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
All that and I forgot to say I've registered for [community profile] vividcon in August and Readercon in July. Readercon's guests of honor this year are Naomi Novik and Nnedi Okorafor. Looking forward to hearing about more attending authors.

*

My hair is straight! For a couple of days, anyway. I went for a haircut with a new, recommended curl-savvy hairdresser who said she wanted to straighten it before cutting it to ensure the cut would be even, which is the opposite of what most people have proposed before. Now it's all swoopy and flippy and when I look in the mirror I actually feel pretty.

(Cue conflicted thoughts about societal notions of beauty and what it means that I like the result of this erasure of one visible aspect of my Eastern European/Russian Jewish heritage, but I think it's just that it frames my face really well right now.)

It hasn't been straight since my friend flat-ironed it 10+ years ago for a Halloween party where I went as Snape, so it is quite a revelation. The results are making me want to do it once in a while now for fun. Er, although I don't own a blow dryer or flat iron.

*

We had a snow day this week. It seems like ages ago already. I had grand plans for watching some vid-related movies & TV but then we lost power for half the day so I read,* wrote and shoveled. 1,800 new words on an old Mary Sue story. I'm liking this trend.

*Lagoon by Okorafor; I would put it behind Binti and ahead of Akata Witch for enjoyment level.

*

I did finally finish Suicide Squad tonight, which was as mediocre and eye-rollingly misogynistic/exploitative as promised, with bonus racism and overkill special effects. Even so, I did enjoy some aspects, including Will Smith, Jay Hernandez and the human Rocket Pop that was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. But no one warned me that Adam Beach spoiler ).

*

Been seeing lots of movies in the theater, and there are still many coming up that are appealing. Want to post about them properly one of these days. Like Get Out, which was so, so smart, and Logan, and the Oscar-nominated animated short films, and soon Raw, and Life, and possibly Personal Shopper...
bironic: Fred reading a book,looking adorable (fred reading)
Last night I finished reading The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016 & 2015, the only two years they've done the anthology so far. They accomplished what I hoped for, which was to include some excellent stories and to help me get a better sense of the contemporary SF/F short-fiction landscape by introducing me to new(-to-me) U.S. authors (who are not all white men) and magazines.

I thought 2016 was stronger than 2015, or maybe the stories were more my taste; but 2015 closed with a story that made me cry, and I want to recommend it to everybody, because it's about robots and people who like robots and people who wish they could be robots and autism and asexuality and polyamory and depression and struggling with suicidal ideation and it's just really moving. While I was reading it I heard many friends' experiences echoed in the text, but I know that can make something difficult to read, so, you know, assess the rec and warnings accordingly.

How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps by A. Merc Rustad

(Follow the link in the author's blog to a podcast transcript. The short story is reprinted a little ways down the page.)


Other favorites from the 2015 collection

"The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever" by Daniel H. Wilson - A frightening and touching apocalypse story with a father/daughter relationship at the core, featuring a protagonist who may be a man or may be a robot, but who, if he is a robot, clearly has human emotions about family.

"A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i" by Alaya Dawn Johnson - Vampires who farm different "grades" of humans after taking over the world! Nice worldbuilding in a few strokes.

"Tortoiseshell Cats are Not Refundable" by Cat Rambo - Did what most film/TV stories about female-coded A.I.s should do but don't do.

"How the Marquis Got His Coat Back" by Neil Gaiman - An enjoyable romp of a revisit to some Neverwhere characters, even though I don't recall liking Neverwhere overmuch.

"The Bad Graft" by Karen Russell - Classic-feeling, spooky tale about a Joshua tree that tries to take root inside a young woman.


Favorites from the 2016 collection

2016 had a strong start, with:

"Meet Me in Iram" by Sofia Samatar - Which felt too smart for me to understand, certainly not on first reading -- it felt like the sort of story we would have read in a college class followed by a discussion question of "What is Iram?" -- but was deep, beautiful and memorable.

The Game of Smash and Recovery by Kelly Link - Siblinghood, personhood, artificial intelligence and the detritus of interstellar colonization. Or: two strange kids and their robots on an abandoned moon.

Planet Lion by Catherynne Valente - Alien life corrupted by human civilization, and the humans don't even realize what they've done until it's too late.

Then a dip, when "Interesting Facts" by Adam Johnson failed [personal profile] marginaliana's "a dude wrote this" test. [Note: link includes mention of fictional sexual assault]

Then a recovery with stories such as:

"The Mushroom Queen" by Liz Ziemska - Joins the rank of "wonderfully creepy stories about humans merging with fungi"; see also auburn's SGA fic The Taste of Apples and... something else I just forgot The Girl with All The Gifts.

Tea Time by Rachel Swirsky - Alice in Wonderland fanfiction with a striking prose style that reinforces how the Mad Hatter and March Hare exist outside of time. Also, bestiality.

"Rat Catcher's Yellows" by Charlie Jane Anders - In which the protagonist struggles with her wife's decline from a brain-degenerating plague and the question of whether a VR game sweeping the world is a balm for plague victims or some kind of conspiracy.

And several others.

However, I really don't know what to do with "The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History" by Sam J. Miller. Told in the format of a newspaper article featuring witness testimonies, it's an alternate history of the Stonewall uprising where the bar patrons revolt against police using pyrokinesis. Is that an empowering fantasy, or does it undercut the bravery of real people who stood up for themselves without the safety net of supernatural abilities? By focusing on gay male characters, does it not also erase the real trans women who have struggled so hard to get the credit they deserve in the long fight for civil rights? Would the story have been better or worse if set in a totally fictional scenario? I struggled against this narrative and am interested in looking around to see if people have written about it.


Any recommendations for other short stories or authors to continue to catch up on what's happening these days in SF/F?
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Hwooof, that was a tough week, but this weekend was the best that's happened in a while, so all's well that ends well, I guess.

(It was just a trough of stress. Political stuff, work stuff, probably body chemistry stuff. I am finally getting started with seeing a therapist and then I missed an appointment because I was so discombobulated I thought it was the next day. I had never missed a doctor's appointment before. I felt so stupid until [personal profile] deelaundry said a kind thing that hadn't occurred to me: When I said, "I look like a flake," she countered with, "You look like someone who needs help." Self-compassion is a thing it would be nice to learn.)

The good stuff:

Socializing: In support of this year's goal to get together more often with friends I like to talk to and/or want to get to know better, a few of us went to a play yesterday and had a satisfying coffee shop chat afterwards, and then I accepted an unexpected invitation to another blossoming friend's low-key Superbowl dinner. All good.

The play was called Trans Scripts, a synthesis/melding of interviews with trans women from the US/UK/Aus. It was elegant, illuminating and well acted -- two cast members were particularly strong -- although I thought it faltered in a few spots when it shifted from "showing" through anecdotes to plain proselytizing. [personal profile] marginaliana wrote up some of her thoughts.

A phone conversation the previous night:
95-year-old grandpa: Oh! I didn't expect you to be home on a Saturday night. I thought you'd be out with your friends.
Me: No, I'm boring. Well, I'm going to see a play tomorrow, but it's a matinee.
Grandpa: Oh, yeah? What is it about?
Me, bracing myself: It's based on interviews with transgender women about their lives.
Grandpa: Oh. You know, there's this woman I know from the temple, who lives with another woman, and it turns out they're--what do you call it--lesbians? Lesbians?
Me: Mm-hm!
Grandpa: So that's very interesting! I just knew them as women from the temple, you know.
#NotAllGrandpas

Doing: Had a computer-free day Saturday involving a mall run, errands and two movies. In addition to some necessaries for work and winter weather, I treated myself to a grommet-studded cut-out shirt that I probably won't wear anywhere but at home and Club Vivid (because I am me) but love anyway.

Reading: Was delighted by Unbeatable Squirrel Girl vols 1-2: plucky, witty, metatextual, intertextual, often involved the defusing of supervillainy through psychology/sympathy rather than fisticuffs. The '80s horror of Paper Girls turns out to be not as much my aesthetic, although the introduction of overlapping timestreams in vol. 2 is getting interesting.

Watching: Saw Moonlight and Lion. Loved the first and really liked the second; cried through them both; my heart aches for Chiron. Hope to see I Am Not Your Negro and Hidden Figures this week. Catching up on what I missed in Dec-Jan when too much else was going on.

Vidding: I remain in the planning stages of the two auction vids, and am figuring out if I can make the multifandom Club Vivid vid I've been preparing since the fall or if it'll need to wait another year. I watched all the [community profile] festivids -- slim masterlist this year, half the usual total -- but haven't commented on any or recced any here because I'm afraid the gaps would give away what I made, and the thought of doing fake comments/recs to throw off the scent makes me tired. I'll probably just post the rec list after reveals.

Cooking: A pleasurable week is in store of chicken breast and goat cheese sandwiches for lunch and stuffed cabbage for dinner. Also, the supermarket was selling chocolate-covered banana chips, which I didn't know was a thing but I am all over it, mm. Banana chips were such a treat when I was a kid.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I.

Quick reminder that bidding for the vid I'm offering for charity ends at midnight tonight, if you would like to make a pledge. Sorry/happy to report that the current bid is $110, in case that saves you a click.

I put in one bid, for a Remus/Sirius/someone fic from [personal profile] setissma, but [personal profile] thedeadparrot outbid me. :) That's only fair, since she'd been bidding before I stuck my nose in.

II.

I'm at my mom's for the week and she's doing well. Big relief. Last week was tough, being in another state and waiting for updates while trying to work. Now we are just lying around the house listening to music, watching TV and old movies, occasionally playing Scrabble* or this Star Trek trivia game** or yelling at a Banff National Park jigsaw puzzle whose pieces all look the same.

*Geekiest hand of the game

**We shuffled the trivia cards so the movies and series would all be mixed together, but then we realized we didn't know Voyager or Enterprise and by the end we just shamelessly cherry-picked TOS for her and DS9 for me, with occasional Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home thrown in.

III.

Persuant to the above:

TV: My mom and her bf are into reality TV, so I've been introduced to shows like Wicked Tuna, Living Alaska, and Alaskan Bush People, plus many reruns of Property Brothers, House Hunters, etc., and the usual Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Let's not talk about the news.

Movies: I brought down one of the DVDs from a grab bag [personal profile] jetpack_monkey put together, and we are two for two so far: Attack of the Crab Monsters, which featured the immortal line, "Once they were men. Now they are land crabs," and Not of This Earth, featuring space vampires and questionable transfusion practices. YouTube trailer for the double feature. Tonight we'll try the third, War of the Satellites. Maybe we'll even get to the .avi file of The Frozen Dead that's been on my computer for about three years since my coworker tried to get me to watch it.

Books: Binti was great. I haven't gotten more than a third into Akata Witch because of all the TV, but I look forward to finishing it. Then The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl vols. 1-2, which was supposed to be for book club but just got outvoted by Paper Girls vols. 1-2, which I guess is next-next.

IV.

The neighbors' college-age son has gotten into Game of Thrones, grew his hair into several inches of curl, got himself a sword at a garage sale, and now does cosplay of Jon Snow in a fur-shouldered Night's Watch cloak. It's impressive!

V.

Okay, she's out of the shower, so that's all for now. Hope you're all hanging in there.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Continued from here

26 completed, fiction and nonfiction )

48 complete books in one year: I'm calling that a resounding success. Thank you once again, bus commute.

Links go to previous book review posts. As always, happy to talk about any of these.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
- I'm glad the library only had it on 7-day loan because it pushed me to keep reading when I might have trailed off

- All in all, I'm glad I did finish it, because the last sections, unlike the rest, recaptured a shadow of what made the earlier books enjoyable

- The narrative picked up 250 pages in

- The vampires I care most about (Marius, Armand, Lestat, Louis, etc.) finally had a few small, memorable moments ~400 pages in

- The book could have been titled Vampires: Midichlorians -- or, sorry, Folic Acid and Nano-Luracastria

- The uncovered "science" of vampirism and the nature of its Core made no sense; even Lestat admitted he couldn't hold the explanation in his head, and the vampire physician-scientist Fareed threw up his hands and said he may as well have studied theology

- Let us not speak of the pseudohistory & technology of Atlantis and the surrounding human settlements

- I also don't want to read the word "mammal" for a while

- Did I mention the bird people of Bravenna? *shakes head*

- ETA: Ohhhhhh God I forgot about the part where a disembodied arm grew a mouth on its palm and crawled back over to its previous owner to suck on his nipple uggggh

- The writing needed help. The first half dragged, nothing happened without at least two people recapping it, there were too many poorly fleshed-out characters (same as in Prince Lestat), tensions that seemed like they would culminate in major conflicts instead fizzled, those climaxes that did come rose and fell in the middle of chapters without much catharsis, and Rice kept doing this weird thing where narrators repeated characters' names in their comma-filled thoughts. Here are samples from a particularly egregious few pages near the middle of the book:

Cut for spoilers )

It made sense for Derek, who latched on to Kapetria after years of trauma, to think that way, and I suppose it made sense for Rhoshamandes too, who felt Benedict was the only thing he had left to live for; but not so much for the others. It made me think of Faulkner and The Sound and the Fury: I wish Rice had had Derek think in these anxious, post-traumatic, obsessive repetitions while giving others their own distinct styles. Nor was it a consistent enough style throughout the book to be fully explained by the next point.

Where that repetition worked for me was when Rice described the linguistic patterns of Atlanteans and then, one time, had [spoiler character] slip from speaking ordinary modern English into that old language, which I thought was actually quite lovely.

Cut for spoilers )

In all: Worth having read the second half. Marius gave Lestat a fierce hug, Lestat kissed some men, and Armand showed some young-boy vulnerability, and that was pretty much what I was there for. Still uninterested in most of the series' theological and philosophical debates (In this case: What are souls? Is suffering noble, evil or a way for aliens the Church to exploit people?), even though the conclusion of this book can be read as an embrace of humanism. Equally unable to stop reading these books in search of those brief moments of character- and relationship-based Feelings.

ETA: Goodreads reviews that made me laugh: Devann, Tammy
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
1. The "Elf" vid is pretty much ready to go, pending one last beta's feedback. Hemming and hawing on whether to post tomorrow evening (Eastern) or Saturday morning. Probably the weekend. I don't know anymore when the best times are to post things. Do you?

2. Friday morning's low is predicted to be 3 degrees F. Factoring in wind chill, -15. I might need to figure out an alternative plan to get to the office that involves less exposure to the elements, since telework isn't an option. By Jove, though, I'm going to book club tomorrow. It's Vorkosigan night at last.

3. Facing the return of Arctic chill and armed with expiring coupons, I went boot shopping after work. Found two fun burgundy pairs but I didn't have enough brain to decide between them so I ended up bringing them both home, where I can try them out more extensively and decide which one to keep. I was leaning toward the chunkier, more wintery ones in the store, but the shiny, better-with-a-skirt ones are calling to me now. (They're redder than that picture suggests.) Opinions welcome. They were the same price ($34), so that's not a factor.

4. Watched some TV. I don't seem to have the werewithal to review with substance, but we can talk: the newly released third season of Mozart in the Jungle, which I still don't know what to do with, and which nudged me from apathy about Hailey to active dislike; Grantchester season one, having already seen season two, both so lovely in story, pacing, setting and characterization; and The Fall season three, which might have been the best season of a very good show, or maybe that's because I especially liked all the medical procedure stuff and it didn't 50% consist of dead-eyed Jamie Dornan saying "Stella."

5. Started reading the latest Vampire Chronicles installment from Anne Rice: Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. ~120 pages in, nothing in the text has rescued the title; the story still suffers from prose- and character bloat. Everyone is wearing very nice, very expensive clothes, all the male vamps still pleasantly go around either kissing one another and declaring their devotion or plotting revenge, and Lestat, although he has matured remarkably, still doesn't know why he does anything. BUT: conceptual spoiler basically revealed on page 23 ) Two great tastes that taste great together? Or two great tastes whose combination has been failed by the chef? TBD.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
(Aside from current events like the DAPL breakthrough. \o/)

I’m not a good sleeper, but last night, with the help of a "non"-drowsy allergy pill, I went to bed at 9:30 and slept until 7:30 and woke in my little quilt cocoon to a dusting of snow outside, feeling like life is beautiful. Why can’t every night be like that?

I found some books for gifts and for me at the twice-yearly Harvard Book Store warehouse sale this weekend: some cookbooks, a slim volume about narrative craft by Ursula Le Guin (originally written in 1998 and updated last year) and four nonfiction books I’d been eyeing for a while. That’s part of the good thing. The other part is that work is going to cover most of those because they’re job-related. Hooray; that frees up this month’s book budget for other treats.

While exchanging a defective jacket, I found a cowl-neck "tunic sweater" that fits. It was on sale and it makes me happy. I have not been feeling good about myself body-wise for a while, and a well-fitting article of clothing helps. It’s long enough to be a short dress, but I wasn’t brave enough for that today, given the chill, and am wearing it with black pants.

Since it is the Month of Capitalism, I also browsed around for stovetop tea kettles, because I’ve finally grown embarrassed enough about boiling water for guests in a battered saucepan to search for an alternative. (It was more of a small-kitchen, don’t want specialized gadgets thing than an affordability thing.) Thus was I introduced to the modern world of programmable electric kettles, where you can set the shutoff at various temps below boiling for perfect tea steeping. I think this is where my Hanukkah gift card from the stepfamily will be going.

Culinary rescue! A pre-Thanksgiving cider-braised chicken recipe came out way too sweet and I ended up sticking most of the constituents in the freezer: leg meat, barley, onion, too-firm diced carrot and celery. Yesterday I tried reinventing it as a soup and am pleased to report that it came out great.

A roasted spaghetti squash, not so much. Overdone to mush. I would turn it into soup if there weren’t already soup this week. The internet says it can be puréed into a sort of mash, with butter/margarine, salt and pepper. Any other ideas?

Friends came over on Saturday to work on various laptop projects, "alone together"; I made some progress on the Elf vid, and we experienced the first two episodes of Yuri On Ice. Waiting for the second Grantchester S1 DVD to arrive; started watching S3 of The Fall on Netflix. Was pleased to learn that it began as a medical drama! With Richard Coyle from Coupling, no less.

<3 to all of you while this good mood lasts. Later in December will be much more stressful, on top of whatever fresh hell the news brings.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I don't even know what to say. You all see what's happening too.

How I've coped this week:

Reading, Watching, Sharing, Doing
I've been taking in as much news as I can handle, which varies by the evening. Since it's all too easy for me to think about things and stop there, I've also made efforts to transform that intake and mental processing into actions. Things like setting up monthly rather than annual charity donations, signing the subset of petitions that have a shot at going anywhere, and building a spreadsheet of local, state and federal representative contact information plus specific issues to thank them for supporting or urge them to oppose. I haven't psyched myself up yet to, uh, actually make the phone calls, but I'm working on it. Still unsure which outreach efforts are most effective when I live in a Democratic state with kickass reps who are already writing joint statements and introducing bills to prevent or reverse the most atrocious developments.

Working
Nobody at our office got anything done the day after the election, but by the next day I was ready to bury myself in work. My monthly productivity is now on track to be one and a half to two times normal.

Vidding
[personal profile] thedeadparrot, [personal profile] stultiloquentia and [livejournal.com profile] disgruntledowl came over at various times last weekend for communal laptopping and to talk or not-talk about our government-to-be. I made a [community profile] festivids treat draft in 24 hours and picked at a few others. Current plan: four Festivids and one Christmas vid. Ha. Ha ha ha.

Cooking
Vidding only worked as a distraction through Saturday. Sunday I tried to sit in the computer desk chair but kept drifting into the kitchen to start some other cooking or baking project. By the end of the day, there was curried pumpkin-apple soup, pumpkin bread, an onion and feta frittata, baked sweet potatoes, roasted vegetable lasagna and lemon-basil haddock with spaghetti squash. It's kept me in leftovers for the entire week, plus extras in the freezer, and one loaf of the pumpkin bread fed my coworkers.

Reading
Not much fiction. Finished the Young Miles compendium -- enjoyed the Dendarii parts, gradually lost patience with the rest -- and am wrapping up Vampire Romance 2. Starting to do proper research into the paranormal erotica short story market. I did go to book club last Thursday despite only having read a few chapters of the book months ago (The Goblin Emperor), and was glad to have done so, for the company.

Writing
Picked up a high school- into college-era (!) orig fic last night and added 1,200 words in 60 or 90 minutes, which, if you've been keeping track, is a lot for me these last few years. Want to try some more tonight and over the weekend. There is a sequence of scenes I daydreamed about back in the day that for some reason resurfaced, matured with time, a couple of nights ago, and I'm trying to get them down on the page. A sort of recovery story, years after the hurt I put the hero and heroine through: probably another form of self-comfort this month to go with the blankets and hoodies and warm drinks and toast.

Watching
Not much besides current events. [personal profile] thedeadparrot and I did go to see Arrival last Friday and it was great; haven't enjoyed a new SF movie that much since Interstellar. Oh, and Westworld. I'm still ambivalent about it but there's more to enjoy than it seemed at the beginning. This week's episode had one particularly delightful scenario and one great twist. Still, laughably Dark and frustratingly male-POV even when it's focusing on Strong Female Characters.

Dreaming
Starting last Tuesday, I went from having never dreamt about politics or politicians in my life to dreaming about them almost every night. Am ready for this phase to pass.

And so another week comes to a close. How are you all holding up?
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
1. Having [livejournal.com profile] synn for a friend. She waited in yet another line at the SPN con she's attending this weekend to get me Sebastian Roché's autograph on an 8x10 I mailed her with a homemade montage of his late '90s roles on Roar and Odyssey 5, and she took the time to email a description of how he reacted to it. ♥Longinus♥ ♥synn♥

2. Friends in general. This week included a Boston tourism day with [personal profile] alpheratz and [personal profile] seascribe, a small dinner party at a grad school classmate's house, the usual wonderful deep conversation with M. (hereafter [livejournal.com profile] disgruntledowl; she got an LJ for Yuletide!), and heckling the latest pair of Project Runway episodes with [personal profile] thedeadparrot.

Next weekend there will be a [personal profile] deelaundry; we're going to see Robert Sean Leonard in Connecticut in his latest play: Camelot.

[personal profile] alpheratz's visit reminded me to get out more to parts of the city I don't usually visit. The South End and the Back Bay segment of Comm Ave are so lovely this time of year.



3. Roasting trays of zucchini, eggplant, yam and cabbage for meal sides this week. ♥autumn♥

4. Playing with a few vids. One is an Elf vid for Xmas that I've been wanting to make for years. The others will be Festivids; TBD if assignments or treats. They are among the five-and-counting requests from people that I'd love to make, and there are still a couple of movies to watch before signups close in case they can be added to my offers. Much better than last year at this time.

5. Books to read. One enjoyable SF series: the Young Miles compendium by Bujold, beginning tomorrow, having finished Shards of Honor and Barrayar a week ago and NK Jemisin's The Obelisk Gate on Friday. One guilty pleasure: Vampire Romance 2 by assorted contributors, begun last night. (You may recall an anecdote about volume 1.) The first two stories weren't anything special, but since they were apparently publishable quality, they did make me think optimistic thoughts about generating simple beginning-middle-end ideas for marketable het paranormal romance or erotica short stories: a possible goal in the not-so-distant future. (Though it's mysterious why I think I can write a short story when I can't even finish a "one-shot" fic WIP... maybe because I wouldn't have such personal investment in the short story. TBD.)
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
1.

After an iffy start at the beginning of the nominations period, when it looked like there'd be hardly anything I could offer, I'm now excited about this year's Festivids. Have a handful of ideas it would be a lot of fun to make. Hope the sources end up being requested. Hope at least one of them becomes my assignment. Am preparing, optimistically.

(It wasn't until the last year or two that I learned how many nominations don't end up being requested, either because people nominate things before they've narrowed down what they want to ask for or because people nominate things they want to make and then hope they inspire someone to ask for them. At least now I know nothing is a certainty.)

Requests-wise, most of my Dear Festividder letter is ready to go. I'm going to try a "sales pitch" section for each request this year in case the summary or screen shots appeal to a participant who is not familiar with a source.

2.

Many friends have posted about how their Yuletide matches are for things they'd most wanted to write as treats, so, congratulations to you!

Nothing in the database of Yuletide letters has caught my treat-making fancy. That's a small disappointment, but it does leave more time for vidding and for working on half-done stories. Still determined to finish the Jinni/Dustfinger crossover PWP and the Inkheart foursome fic, small as those audiences will be. Did write a pleasing 1,500 words of DS9 Mary Sue a couple of weeks ago, inspired by the Damaya/Schaffa dynamic in The Fifth Season.

3.

[Warning: gross dog thing]

Last week while I was microwaving my lunch, the office puppy made hairball noises, barfed mostly undigested kibble onto the carpet, sniffed at the pile and ate it. It felt like a metaphor for how work has been going lately.

4.

On the brighter side, one morning on the way to the bus, the usually grumpy crossing guard exclaimed that someone had dropped a bag of chips and directed my attention to a cluster of pigeons pecking Bugles off the sidewalk.

5.

Been reading some stuff. We have been assigned five Vorkosigan novels for book club—so far, I have read one and a half Cordelia novels; the Young Miles compilation is next—and I'm glad to finally be experiencing and (despite Bujold's overuse of adverbs) enjoying them. The appeal so far lies in a combination of competence kink, aspirational relationship model and cross-cultural navigation, plus one particular scene that hewed deliciously close to a Mary Sue noncon scenario I adore. I also ended up really liking The Fifth Season and now have only a few days' wait until The Obelisk Gate arrives at the library.

6.

Been watching some stuff:

Last Action Hero, which, to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed. Cinephile boy gets magic ticket that lets him enter a movie and later lets him, the protagonist and the villain (redhead Charles Dance, no less) exit the movie into the real world. Much cheesy-delightful meta ensues, including debates about whether characters in a fictional narrative can be convinced they're in a fictional narrative, as well as a meeting at a film premiere between Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular action hero and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Arnold Schwarzenegger who plays the action hero.

Afterwards I rewatched the quite similar The Purple Rose of Cairo—substitute Jeff Daniels for Arnold Schwarzenegger and add more movie exec hair-tearing and misogyny—which aged well conceptually but developed a level of creepiness I did not recognize when (a) I was younger and (b) we did not know as much about Woody Allen.

I thought about requesting both movies for Festivids but really what I want is a combo/multi thing about media superfans going into and out of fictional universes (see also: Pleasantville, the holodeck, etc.) so in the end I decided I'll probably make that myself.

Luke Cage. Uneven in pacing and dramatic effectiveness, and a couple of the actors seemed to be in a different show (*cough Willis*), but I liked it overall. Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson & Theo Rossi FTW. Spectacular commentary on, and fantasies about being unharmed by, racism-driven police brutality. Mostly I wish I'd been able to watch it later and at a more leisurely pace, but I cared enough to fear being spoiled on Twitter. I also wish there were more shows like it, for obvious reasons as well as because it felt like the poor showrunners felt like they needed to cram all of contemporary Black American pop culture and Harlem history into one 13-episode show because there aren't enough opportunities elsewhere. Except, at the same time, of course it's not even close to being all of either of those things, and the seam-bursting amount of music and literature and sports references and cameos &c can as easily feel jubilant and long overdue as overstuffed. Plus, ask me how many times I Shazam'd a song or jotted down a book to check out. :)

Westworld on HBO. I had been really looking forward to this, and ended up disappointed after the first two episodes. The themes are right up my alley but the dark tone is so over the top and the "edgy" meta walks the same thin, irritating line between cleverness and exploitation as Sucker Punch and Ex Machina; nor am I sure it's making me think anything new. Too much to go into for this post, though.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Do not. Do not do this to yourselves. The only good thing to come out of our group heckling of this movie was our collective crossover pitch, "The Bat and the Furious," TM my friend M., in which Gisele was secretly Wonder Woman the whole time and the superheroes have to team up with Vin Diesel's crew for car reasons.

7.

Yom Kippur tonight and tomorrow. Have an easy fast, those who are fasting. ♥
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Need to write the last part of the Star Trek con report (cast panels!) but not at the moment. Just wanted to say:

(1) Started N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season this week. Bit of initial... what's the term for when there's a hump to get over and then things are good? Anyway, I'm enjoying it now. I was trying to figure out who this one character, Essun, reminds me of, and realized it's Chava from The Golem and the Jinni. Brief elaboration. I don't consider this a spoiler but just in case; mentions vague stuff from <75 pages in. ) It's got me picturing Essun as large-framed now, even though I don't think her physique was described.

(2) Been watching movies again, both features and documentaries and in one case a blend of the two (Jafar Panahi's Taxi). Was surprised and delighted by how much I enjoyed this one movie, Wildlike, starring Bruce Greenwood and Ella Purnell. It found a whole panel of my buttons and pressed them. plot description, could be considered spoilery? ) I clutched my hands to my chest in joy during the last maybe ten minutes. And then the credits rolled to one of my favorite Alexi Murdoch songs. ♥ I don't even know what to do with my happiness about it besides luxuriate in it and read reviews. There's no fic to read, I don't think I have a fic in me to write, a vid wouldn't add anything, and rewatching the movie wouldn't replicate the experience.

(3) Still thinkin' about [community profile] festivids requests. I've got four movies (Queen Margot, Stranger by the Lake, Farewell My Concubine, Gods and Monsters) and one book (The Golem and the Jinni ♥), but am stumped on the last. This year I really only want to ask for things where any one of them would feel like my top choice if I got it. Haven't figured out a sixth one that would match the others. :/ Priest, maybe? The Linus Roache one, I mean. Not sure.

Are any of you asking for movies? Maybe there's something I can watch in the coming weeks to expand my repertoire of offers.

(4) Meta rec: On the Subject of Noncon Fanworks: Thoughts of a Reader, Writer, Survivor by Anarfea. Spectacularly cogent, moving essay about personal history, the difficulty of untangling experienced abuse from a penchant for power exchange/rape fantasy, the internal and external conflicts that happen before and after writing and posting a noncon story, noncon fic tagging and shaming in Sherlock fandom and beyond, and more. I'm out of oomph so if you are curious about my personal reaction just scroll down to my comment on her post. h/t to [twitter.com profile] krytella and [twitter.com profile] lurrel for the link.

Anticlimax

Aug. 30th, 2016 09:12 pm
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Title applies to:

1) The conclusion of His Dark Materials. I might have tossed The Amber Spyglass across the floor in distaste if [personal profile] par_avion hadn't warned me at Vividcon about a thing that was going to happen. Then again, by the end of the series we'd grown so distanced from the main characters that the plot direction might not have affected me deeply anyway. As it was, it... ended, and that was that.

2) Kidney stone situation. I've been pain-free for a week now, but didn't see a stone come out, so either it got ground to sand and I missed it, or it's lying in wait. Doc says to finish the remaining 2 1/2 weeks of Flomax and then maybe safe to believe I'm in the clear. TMI. Meanwhile, back to normal activities.

Miscellany:

Doing: Being (temporarily? permanently?) recovered means that I can still go to the Mission: New York Star Trek convention this weekend with iggy. Am getting especially excited about seeing all the DS9 cast members who will be there -- René Auberjonois, Armin Shimerman, Nana Visitor, Terry Farrell, Michael Dorn, Cirroc Lofton -- only two of whom I've met before (René a couple of times at Broadway theaters and Dorn once at a con). There will be panels with cast reunions and organizers of the first Trek convention and show/novel writers and queer fans and fans of color and scientists/engineers who were inspired by the series, a table read of ST IV: The Voyage Home, props and sets and a cosplay contest, etc. =/\=

I printed recent-ish head shots of the three DS9 cast members who won't be there, with the plan of bringing them to the group photo I signed up for. Now every time I pass my desk, Alexander Siddig is there smiling at me.

Reading: Currently between books. Plowed through the Captive Prince trilogy while ill and it was just the right story for that headspace. Tried Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings last night/today but got bored, and that ginormous, 1,000-page hardcover is not worth lugging around for a boring narrative. Was not surprised to discover a blurb from Patrick Rothfuss on the back. Fortunately, NK Jemison's The Fifth Season is winging its way over to the library.

Writing: A thing for work, but daydreaming about ficlets and Yuletide treats. His Dark Materials gave me another Dustfinger (Inkheart) idea, in addition to the three fics already posted and the two WsIP. It went like this at brunch on Sunday:

me: It's perfect: Dustfinger has a marten; Lyra has a marten. I just want the martens to sniff each other.
[personal profile] unfinishedidea: *cracks up*
me: What?
[personal profile] unfinishedidea: You do you.

I will do me, thank you. :) Here, have a Lyra/Iorek fic I found on the AO3: Native and Non-Native Fauna of the North by gishmi1ish. It's distractingly formatted and a bit rushed, but pushes some xeno buttons nonetheless.

Vidding: Thinking about Festivids nominations. I watched Queen Margot again last week and continue to yearn for a vid for it. If it still doesn't get matched this year, I may have to do it myself.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Two days after returning home from [community profile] vividcon, I was woken in the middle of the night by the pain of what I soon realized was a kidney stone: my second in ~8 years, and worse than the first. \o/ One trip to urgent care, one ultrasound, many phone calls, three pharmacy visits, five kinds of drugs and one week later, I'm waiting this out at home, in and out of discomfort. Grateful for sick leave and compassionate colleagues/supervisors.

New learnings: Toradol is made of unicorns and rainbows. But it can only be taken for five days, so my sister is here from NY for ~24 hours to babysit while I attempt a prescribed narcotic; having never taken one before besides codeine (which does nothing for me), I'm not sure what to expect today. The packet of warnings includes fun phrases like "VERY BAD THINGS CAN HAPPEN." Points for plain language at the height of the opioid crisis.

Anyway, that's my life right now. I've been responding to vid- & con-post comments and tweets in batches when I feel up to it, because when the pain hits, I'm not good for anything, but when it ebbs, I feel fine. Watching TV and movies, or listening (Olympics until they ended, DS9, The Big Short, Lilo & Stitch, Save the Last Dance, Queen Margot); finished The Amber Spyglass and am now reading the second Captive Prince e-book; napping; drinking so very much water; pondering the mysteries of this new platform people seem to be into, imzy. Hoping against hope that this is over with by the end of next week, when I'm supposed to join [twitter.com profile] iggyw at a Star Trek con in NYC, in no small part because I don't want to have to eat the cost of the nonrefundable tickets.

P.S. My family sent a care package that included a bag of kidney beans and a Rolling Stones CD -- get it? -- plus an octopus- or squid-shaped pillow for hugging, and some other things. Friend C. and coworker brought soup. Support system = comforting.
bironic: Fred reading a book,looking adorable (fred reading)
Partway through the second book, and while replying to comments on the previous post about the first book, I realized that my shifting opinion on His Dark Materials stemmed from having expected author ) and instead gotten author ). Critique from within the system. Details ) Something to look up in reviews, thinkpieces, fic, etc. when I'm finished reading.

Also, there is a lot of explicative monologuing. Like, a lot. Characters have largely stopped speaking like actual human beings.

All that said, though, I'm still enjoying the story. Even with pacing and repetition issues in The Subtle Knife. The Golden Compass was better. We'll see tomorrow+ what The Amber Spylgass is like.
bironic: Fred reading a book,looking adorable (fred reading)
One of the local Little Free Libraries had a copy of The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman and that finally motivated me to start reading His Dark Materials after all these years. People were super into them around the time we were going to Harry Potter aca-cons and of course there've been a million fannish AUs but I never got around to trying the series, other than going to see that forgettable film adaptation.

After an uncertain start, I got really into it, especially the human-dæmon relationships. I hadn't realized how into it until I found myself choking up at the descriptions of spoilery ). Also I hadn't realized how explicitly Pullman described what happens between dæmons when their humans get frisky together. Many years late to this party.

I bought the other two books yesterday and will read them in & around the new Harry Potter one that I pre-ordered but haven't picked up yet.

Obv. there are things to enjoy and things to critique and thinky stuff about Pullman's reaction to C.S. Lewis and the Church but we are not here for in-depth analysis right now. Work is rough these days as we undergo managerial transitions and as a result my entertainment has swung toward pleasure and comfort. See also: I've taken a break from vid-research movies and just rewatched the Twilight series. Well, that's sort of for vid research too, but a different project, and I wasn't taking notes. And I rewatched the beginning of the terrible-but-I-don't-care TV show Roar from 1997, because my heart.

Was sad to miss con.txt this weekend and all the friends who go with it. At least there's only a week and a half 'til Vividcon. Hang in there, self: Hugs and vids and conversation and mini-vacation are nigh.

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