copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I still have to review Extra Virginity as well, but I actually liked that one, so it will take longer to compose….

One of the things I did get done yesterday between work, the ball game, and the Epic Sunburn, was finish a slim book of short stories called A City Equal to My Desire by James Sallis. This wasn’t a book that was recommended to me, which means I don’t have to feel bad about truly disliking it. I found it in a keyword search on the library website for books about ukuleles, and it has a short story called Ukulele And The World’s Pain, which admittedly was one of the better stories in the book despite still not being very good.

From what I can tell, he did pick the best story out of the book to develop into a novel, “Drive”, but it is very obviously unfinished in short-story form. Sallis has a couple of ongoing problems in the short story collection, one of which is that he tends to skip the vital information you need in order to know what the fuck is going on. And not in a “the blanks slowly get filled in” way, or in a “your imagination is more terrible” way (though there is a little of that) but just in a way where like…he says something that you understand to be vital to the story but which is missing context, then spends like a page describing the fucking diner someone’s sitting in, and by then any context forthcoming doesn’t get linked back. It’s like being in the middle of a paragraph when you hit the photo plates in an older book – yes the photos are very interesting thank you but I need to finish the thought you were sharing with me before I go back and look at them. I think maybe he thinks this is challenging the reader but it’s not, it’s just annoying and makes what are otherwise interesting premises totally opaque. I shouldn’t need to work this hard for a story about a hit man who decides not to kill a politician. 

If the book had a more cohesive theme in terms of the stories, it might be more readable – he clearly enjoys building worlds and then doesn’t quite know what to do with them once he’s built them, so if this was an entire book of “weird and different worlds” ala Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, I would buy in more fully and I think he would have put a little more elbow in. But it’s not. It’s mostly “here’s a really interesting world and a person living in squalor in it does something while being in it”. Also he appears to be fascinated by describing things that are shaped like pi. And a lot of times it feels like he read a wikipedia article on something and wanted to share some knowledge, so he just kind of built a half-assed story around his wikiwander. 

And all of this I would probably let go if say, it was something I was noticing in a fanfic writer, or someone who was just starting out, or someone I felt was genuinely trying to get a point across. But there’s this inexplicable sense of arrogance to the collection, a sort of smugness to it that in professional writers drives me up the goddamn wall. Stephen King sometimes falls into the same trap, where it feels like the author believes they don’t have to respect their readers because they are The Writer. 

The thing about volumes of short stories is that you keep reading it because sometimes there is a real gem. And there are one or two good stories in the volume, but I don’t know if they’re worth the rest of it. 

So my review I guess is mostly me being annoyed, but it boils down to “If you like short stories in the SFF Noir genre, give it a whirl, but if you’re bored with a story none of them get better, so feel free to skip to the next one.” 

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(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2017 03:19 pm
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
[personal profile] tree_and_leaf
Happy birthday, [personal profile] coughingbear!

when the sun burst through the sky

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:05 am
musesfool: Stephanie Brown as Batgirl (can't hardly wait)
[personal profile] musesfool
I spent last night reading fic where Jason and Cass turn out to be biological siblings, not just adopted siblings, and squee!, that is one of my favorite Batfamily tropes. Plus, there was some awesome Jason-Cass-Steph bonding which I feel canon has repeatedly cheated me out of, even though they would get along like a house on fire (literally, probably, given Jason's involvement and enjoyment in blowing things up). Plus there is some hilarious snark at poor Tim's expense that made me laugh out loud repeatedly. Oh Tim. (There will be recs at the end of the month as usual, but here and here for those of you who are impatient and also not following my pinboard.)

Also, yesterday, my consolation birthday present arrived - a beautiful red patent leather Love Moschino tote bag (wow, there were three left in stock when I ordered mine and now there are none! I'm glad I got there in time!). During the whole epic search for a new bag, I coveted a red patent leather bag, but couldn't find one (or, rather, couldn't find one that was less than, like, $800 and while I'm profligate, I'm not that profligate), since I guess they aren't in style right now? Except it's red patent leather so I can't imagine how it could go out of style? But whatever. On a whim on Wednesday, I checked Zappo's to see if there were any available, and lo and behold, there it was. It's beautiful. It's big and kind of unwieldy (and unpleasantly sticky against the bare skin of my arm in the heat), but I don't care, because it's gorgeous.

Bosses 1 & 3 both admired it as I unpacked it from the box, and they were like, "Are you going to save it for special occasions?" and I said, "Hell no!" (note: I did not actually say "Hell no!" I just said, "no! I bought it so I could use it! Because it is beautiful!") And I recommend to all of you to use your beautiful and special things rather than waiting for some mythical special occasion to crop up, because frequently, you will be waiting forever and never get to enjoy the beautiful thing you bought for yourself. Using a special bag/wearing your beautiful new shoes/opening that expensive bottle of wine - they can all make a regular occasion special, and I recommend you do that rather than wait for some occasion arbitrarily deemed "special" enough to break out the fancy lipstick or whatever. Live your best life whenever you can, people!

***

Music meme: day 14 of 30

Jul. 21st, 2017 01:24 pm
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
[personal profile] liv
Here we go, the middle of the list hits A song that you would love played at your wedding.

As you probably know, I'm already married, and I had my wedding five years ago. wedding reminiscences plus video )

I have no intention of having any more weddings to choose music for. I'm already married, as are all my partners. And maybe poly people aren't supposed to say this, but I really think I've found my people and hope not to end or change my current relationships. Friends who have looked into these things in more detail think it's not actually illegal to have weddings, in the sense of ceremonies indicating lifelong romantic commitment, to more than one partner, as long as you don't try to register the relationship as a marriage for legal purposes. But I am not really sure of the details and anyway at the moment we don't have any desire to be married to more people than our existing spouses, even if it is (or became) legally ok.

It is fair to say that I never intended to get married the first time either, so maybe I'm wrong. I suppose we've vaguely talked about the possibility that those of us who are EU citizens may need to marry those who are not for immigration reasons and safety, but I really really really hope it doesn't come to that and if we were in that situation there wouldn't be any singing and dancing, just whatever paperwork we needed for survival. And hypothetically my current relationships might come to an end and then I might find a new person who really wanted to get married to me. But then the song I would choose would depend so much on the person and the circumstances that I can't really speculate what it would be, and I don't really want to because it involves imagining the ends of relationships I really want to keep.

I'm not in general a fan of the wedding tradition of the First Dance to a romantic song. Partly because I'm not much of a dancer, and partly because I think there are better ways to do symbolic consummation. And then finding a song which is lyrically appropriate is surprisingly hard; a lot of songs in the style that's appropriate to slow-dance to are really breakup songs, or at best they're hugely monogamy-assuming and heteronormative. As [personal profile] elf pointed out in this meme, a lot of poly-friendly songs are about casual hey we're just doing this as long as we both like it relationships, which is kind of wrong for a wedding.

I think it was [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait who pointed out that the most inappropriate possible song for a wedding is She moves through the fair, since it mentions our wedding day but primarily as a euphemism for death. I am very fond of it, mind you. And I have attended a wedding where the big romantic moment Song was Hey, that's no way to say goodbye by Leonard Cohen, which is a gorgeous song but way depressing if you go past the opening lines:
I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
Yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
In city and in forest they smiled like me and you


I never daydreamed about my ideal wedding when I was single, so I never had a concept in my mind of what song I would love played. If I happened to be in a relationship where we had a song that was meaningful to us as a couple, then perhaps I'd choose that, but I can't help myself thinking about the detailed interpretation of the words. So, just out of interest, do any of you know any songs which are good for weddings, talking about serious relationships but not about possessiveness? Or songs that are good for non-religious communal singing?

(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2017 12:43 pm
legionseagle: (Default)
[personal profile] legionseagle
Happy Birthday [personal profile] coughingbear

Kidlet story

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:23 pm
resonant: Little Red Riding Hood and wolf. Text: "La beta noire." (beta noire)
[personal profile] resonant
New Draco-centric story from the kidlet over at AO3! I betaed. I even offered some comments that were not smiley faces.

I know exactly why I walk and talk like a machine (24327 words) by terminally_underwhelmed
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Relationships: Minor or Background Relationship(s), Pre-Harry/Draco - Relationship
Characaters: Draco Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy, Narcissa Black Malfoy, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Blaise Zabini, Luna Lovegood, Arthur Weasley, Astoria Greengrass, more like ace-storia amirite, various OCs, Minor Characters
Additional Tags: Epilogue What Epilogue, War Aftermath, Emotional Growth, Bureaucracy, Pre-Slash, Friendship, headcanon dump
Series: Part 1 of Solitaire/Mercenary
Summary:

They're together when the Dark Lord falls.

Draco is barely aware of his own senses, half-blind and exhausted from months upon months of corrosive fear, and whatever shred of reality is still allotted to him is in his father’s urgent grip on his shoulder and his mother’s hands around his and the way he leans on both of them.

Hamilkitties!

Jul. 20th, 2017 03:09 pm
rachelmanija: (It was a monkey!)
[personal profile] rachelmanija


Curious Alex.





Erin, waiting for it.

musesfool: wendy watson in a wetsuit with a gun (come at me bro)
[personal profile] musesfool
Dear co-workers:

* I cannot finish your urgent project in a timely fashion if you keep interrupting me to ask when your project is going to be finished! Please stop!

* We have already done Thing based on all your requirements (and with your approval!) last quarter. We can just update it instead of spending so much time trying to come up with a new way to do it (only to come up with basically the exact same Thing). There is no need to spend hours reinventing the wheel!

* You have to decide whether you need a meeting to happen ASAP or if you need everyone involved present, because it's July coming up on August, and half the people you need will be out on vacation at any given moment and I have no control of that.

* I don't want healthy snacks in the vending machine. If I am driven to getting food from it, it's generally because I want Frito Lay corn chips or terrible plasticky cheap chocolate, not some sort of chip made from beans or some kind of granola bar! WTF?

no love,

me

***

Music meme: day 13 of 30

Jul. 20th, 2017 04:32 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
I'm getting really behind the wave on this, aren't I? Still, there's more than one person still working through the list! Today is One of your favourite 70's songs. I'm not very good at knowing which songs come from which decade, and most of the music on my computer has really inaccurate metadata. But one song which I know is from the 70s, and which is definitely one of my favourites, is Go to Hell by Alice Cooper. I'm not sure if it's actually my favourite 70s song, but I really ought to have something by Alice Cooper in the meme.

I'm really very fond of Alice Cooper goes to Hell; it was my first encounter with the idea of a concept album. I especially love this opening track because it's a bit of (darkly) humorous intro, with the bathos of ridiculously specific examples of depravity:
You'd gift-wrap a leper and mail him to your aunt Jane
You'd even force feed a diabetic a candy cane


I often tell the story of how when I went to university I gained a certain amount of respect among the alternative crowd by explaining that Alice Cooper was in fact a ouijia board chosen stage name for a definitely male singer. Despite not looking like the sort of person who would know rock music trivia. But I love Alice Cooper for being so gloriously terrible, and occasionally coming out with works of sheer genius like Poison (not from the 70s) in among all the McGonagall stuff.

video embed (borderline NSFW) )
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I am like….90% sure I’m going camping this Friday. 

It depends a bit on the weather, but I’m mostly packed, I’ve cooked food that’s currently waiting in the freezer, and I have acquired the third Diane Mott Davidson book to read. 

The plan is to leave work early, catch the train to the campground, camp overnight, and in the morning hike out to a different train station further down the line, about a seven-mile trek, to do a longer endurance test than last weekend’s. Then I’ll catch the train home around noon on Saturday.

If something goes wrong, I can catch an evening train home on Friday until eight o’clock, or starting in the morning at 5:30, with little to no exertion. It’s pretty low-risk and I’m well stocked. I don’t have a sleeping pad, but my backpack has a partial one built-in, and I have one arriving tomorrow (though it might be too bulky, we’ll see). And honestly in this heat, I might just sleep on top of my sleeping bag in any case. 

Worst case scenario, the campground has heated, lockable shower cubicles with nice big floors. I’ve slept on worse. 

Caaaaaaamping! *jazz hands*

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fountain pen sale

Jul. 19th, 2017 03:31 pm
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
[personal profile] yhlee
The time has come to find new homes for some of the vintage fountain pens in my collection.

These are all great pens, but the truth is I have a fair number of great pens and these are ones that simply aren't making it into my rotation. I'd rather someone else get some enjoyment out of them!

All prices include shipping within the continental USA. Elsewhere, please inquire--I will probably have to charge you shipping at cost. I accept payment via Paypal.

If interested, either leave a comment or email me (yoon at yoonhalee dot com).





From left to right:

1. Wahl-Eversharp Doric in Kashmir (a sort of dark swirly marbled green). Lever filler. The great thing about this pen is that it has a #3 adjustable nib. It goes from Fine to Broad on the flexiest setting. The only reason I'm letting this go is that I have a Wahl-Eversharp Doric in black with a #7 adjustable nib, and I honestly don't need two adjustable Dorics.

Please note that the #3 Doric is a petite pen--unless you have very small hands, you will probably want to use this posted.

Price: $225. SOLD

NOTE: [personal profile] troisroyaumes gets first call on this one. If she doesn't want it, then someone else can have it!

2. Waterman Lady Patricia that I bought from Mauricio Aguilar of Vintage Fountain Pens. He graded it a superflex, and it's a pleasurable and absolutely reliable writer; I've always had great experiences with the pens I've bought from Mauricio. Lever filler. Again, this is a lovely pen that I simply don't use--in this case because I'm busy using a different pen that I bought from Mauricio, a Waterman 52V (for which Jedao's Patterner 52 was named :p). Like the #3 Doric, this is a petite pen, and probably best used posted unless you have very small hands.

This is a handsome pen with green and brown swirls, and I love looking at it, but I really prefer for all my pens to be working pens that get used. Maybe you can have fun with it!

Price: $410.

3. Conklin Crescent Filler--the crescent filling mechanism is not that different from lever filling and is very simple to use, and really neat if you love geeking out about different filling mechanisms. This is a wet noodle that does hairlines, if you're into flex writing or copperplate; I probably wouldn't recommend it for sketching because of the fineness of the nib, but it would make a great fountain pen for non-sketch-speed line art.

Price: $320.

4. Osmia 34 in gray candy. This is a very flexy nib that goes from Fine to Broad, and unusually, it's in a piston filler. Please note that the material is discolored along about half the barrel (ambering)--this doesn't affect the pen's functionality, although if you care more about aesthetics this is not the pen for you. This nib has an almost painterly feel to it that is very pleasurable for writing.

Price: $240. [Going to [personal profile] rushthatspeaks for a trial run!]

5. The last two are a Sheaffer Balance in Marine Green, fountain pen and mechanical pencil set. The fountain pen is a lever filler and has a flex nib; I'm not sure what width graphite the pencil takes, although it comes loaded with one. The set is very handsome; please note that the fountain pen has a chip near the lever. This doesn't affect function but may be an aesthetic concern.

Price: $210.

NOTE: [personal profile] troisroyaumes gets first call on this one. If she doesn't want it, then someone else can have it! (She decided to get the Wahl-Eversharp Doric instead, so this pen and pencil set is available!)

Chicks Dig Gaming

Jul. 19th, 2017 12:25 pm
yhlee: Avatar: The Last Airbender: "fight like a girl" (A:tLA fight like a girl)
[personal profile] yhlee
Chicks Dig Gaming, ed. Jennifer Brozek, Robert Smith? [this appears to be part of the author name, as it's listed with the interrogation point in multiple places], and Lars Pearson is one of the books I picked up at Pandemonium Books & Games in Boston. It's an absolutely delightful collection of essays about gaming by women, ranging the gamut from board games to video games to one anthropologist non-gamer who decided to play Portal to study the phenomenon of gaming and explore her reasons for not being a gamer. :p

A few of the essays didn't speak to me personally, but that's fine--for example, there was one about adventure games through the lens of the Monkey Island games, which I did play, but I didn't imprint on the genre. It's not that it was a bad essay, but rather that it was a type of gaming experience I just wasn't as interested in. And that's fine; for some other reader that could be entirely their thing.

Here's a rundown:

cut for length )

To sum up: highly recommended.

Never knew no good from bad

Jul. 19th, 2017 10:55 am
musesfool: bodhi rook (honor the heart of faith)
[personal profile] musesfool
I went to bed early last night and I slept like a rock. I should not still be sleepy! Arrgh!

Wednesday reading meme:

What I've just finished
Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey, which I enjoyed a lot, mainly because Avasarala is the best and also Bobbie! ♥ Holden still needs a lot of punching though. Ugh. Why is this guy the main character? Not only is he a dead bore, he's a ridiculously common dead bore!

I like TV!Prax better than book!Prax, I think, but I also think the show compresses the timeline in a way that means I don't get bored with a character having repetitive beats, the way I can, and do in this case, in a book.

What I'm reading now
Still, I picked up Abaddon's Gate and started it this morning, so I'm still entertained enough to continue.

What I'm reading next
The next book in this series, probably. I don't even know what the name of it is. *looks it up* Ah, Cibola Burn.

I also read two really long stories that both turned out to be in progress, which I probably should have noticed but didn't. I mean, when I see a thing is 175K words long, I figure it's done. I mean, who has that much to say in one story? But no. Sigh.

In my recent fanfic readings, I learned that I will nope out of a story if you kill off Wedge Antilles. Which was a surprise to me - how strongly my kneejerk NOPE was - but there you go. Do not want! (I mean, I don't care for any character death in my fic, and generally not in canon either! but I get that some AU premises require it. But like Bartleby the scrivener, I would prefer not to.)

I also learned that I don't really ship Bodhi with anyone but if I did it would have to be Jyn and Cassian. Gotta keep the Star Wars OT3 pattern going, I guess. I just don't find Jyn and Cassian all that compelling. *hands* I'd much rather read about Baze and Chirrut being the most married. (I think Rebels is the only place that doesn't have an OT3, but I am okay with that. I'm already bracing for Kanan and Hera to get an undeserved tragic ending.)

I also realized that in addition to believing that Luke Skywalker is asexual, I believe Anakin is demisexual, and both Leia and Padme are bisexual. Ahsoka is mostly into women except that I also ship her with Anakin (and Rex, a little), so there are exceptions? And Obi-Wan is pansexual and flirting his way across the galaxy at any given moment.

Which is probably more than anyone cared to know about my Star Wars head canons. *snerk*

***

sippin' cuervo with no chaser

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:52 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Yoon Ha Lee, Ninefox Gambit (2016): usually I have trouble finding a title for a book post. This time, three came to mind: the one I've used, "the tactics of mistake," and "experimental procedures." Anyway. Kel Cheris begins as captain of a unit that gains strength and combat benefits from keeping rigorously in formation. After she attempts to solve a losing scenario creatively---and heretically---she's disgraced, but a bit more creative thinking makes her abruptly into a brevet general, the host-body to a dead mass murderer, Shuos Jedao. (Consider that many heads of units in wartime are mass murderers; though it isn't glorified here, it is ...quite present.) Kel command wants Cheris to subdue a heretical outbreak and retake the Fortress of Scattered Needles. Sort of. Well, the hexarchate, of which the Kel are one-sixth, doesn't like heretics because it messes with their calendar, but everyone (except Cheris, at first) is playing an extremely long game. Pass the metaphorical popcorn.
a bit more--not destructively spoilery (I think one cannot discuss this book at all without being *slightly* spoilery) )

As for this subject line, you know, don't you?

If you'd prefer an actualfax review to my untidy noodlings, try James Nicoll's, and if you don't mind implied spoilers for how Gambit wraps, here's his review of book two.

The episodes that never were

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:12 pm
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] resonant
[personal profile] lunabee34 says: "Tell me about the episode (or book chapter) that never appeared in one of your fandoms but should have."

Star Trek TNG: "The Price" is such a god-awful episode that when it leaves those two Ferengi in their shuttlecraft stranded in the Delta Quadrant and doesn't bother to tell us what became of them, that's not even the worst of its crimes. (The worst of its crimes is probably what Crusher and Troi wear to do aerobics.) Anyhow, yes, the Ferengi were acting like jerks, but they didn't deserve to die the kind of death that you'd die stranded in a shuttlecraft 30,000 light-years from home. I think either they should reappear as part of the Borg collective, or the Voyager crew should find them.

Due South: More Ray&Ray. Doesn't everyone want more Ray&Ray? Make RayK go to meet a new informant and discover that it's the Bookman.

The Princess Bride 2: the story of how Buttercup wound up being the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Gratitudes

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:01 pm
kass: glasses of pink wine (rose)
[personal profile] kass
1. Beautiful summer skies.

2. A glass of pink wine. (See icon.)

3. Lunch with someone I dearly love. \o/!

4. The entertainment value of watching my son play his first game of Magic: the Gathering today.

5. The prospect of an evening of Great British Bake-Off with [personal profile] sanj once I put Mr. Kid to bed, huzzah.

in the corner garden

Jul. 18th, 2017 01:23 pm
musesfool: Daisy Ridley as Rey with lightsaber (you were not mine to save)
[personal profile] musesfool
You've all been watching Star Wars: Forces of Destiny, right? Leia, Rey, Ahsoka, Padme, Jyn! They're so adorable! I might be shipping Leia and Sabine a little bit now too. At least I said, "NOW KISS" at the end of "Bounty of Trouble." *g*

I caught this week's Orphan Black.

spoilers )

Ugh I stayed up way too late last night reading and I'm paying for it now. I just want to sleeeeeeeeeeep.

***

Hugo thoughts

Jul. 18th, 2017 11:49 am
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
I didn't get very far through Hugo reading. I read all the short stories, and the three novels which were stand-alone or first in a series, skipping the ones that are sequels. I managed two of the six novellas, but didn't feel able to vote when I hadn't looked at the others. And I spent the last day before the voting deadline reading through the novelettes in order to be able to rank them. Plus, I happened to have seen enough of the films I felt I could reasonably vote on that category.

my opinions )

That's brief notes on my voting choices (well, I'm not great at brief)! I'm more than happy to discuss in more detail if anyone's interested, I just wanted to get this posted rather than being intimidated by it.

squee!

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:46 pm
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
You guys, among many many other works, Ninefox Gambit is listed as one of the inspirations for Paizo's forthcoming RPG Starfinder! Tons of other authors and media there too.

I'm also chuffed to see I'm not the only one who has found Jack L. Chalker inspirational for sf purposes (although in my case it was Soul Rider and one that's not mentioned in the list, Rings of the Master).

My husband has preordered Starfinder but does this mean I now have to fight him over the hardcopy? LOL.
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