firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat


Appleseed: Ex Machina
2007 anime movie. A sequel to the 2004 Appleseed, which I saw but can't remember a single thing about. Deunan, a human, and Briareos, originally human but now in a cyborg body, are lovers and special ops partners. (Spoilers for general plot points) Briareos is injured in a battle and while he is recovering, the team leader tries to pair Deunan with another agent, who looks like Briareos used to look when he was a human, because he's a bioroid engineered from Briareos's DNA. Deunan is not happy about any of this. Some people try to take over the world with a satellite network, and the special ops team tries to stop them. I really liked this for the beauty of the fight choreography (especially in the opening scenes), for the relationships, and for the exploration of body and identity issues. It's a bit like Ghost in the Shell but more grounded, if that makes any sense.

Read more... )

Labour day holiday

Sep. 1st, 2014 05:29 pm
writerlibrarian: lovely red and pink flowers in field (Default)
[personal profile] writerlibrarian

I tried my hand at corn chowder. It didn't look like it should but it was good to eat. I used 2% milk and that wasn't the best idea. Still, it's good to eat, not creamy but eatable.

The sun played hide and seek for part of the day. I spent it knitting. I am finishing pieces. My new light pumpkin aka squash cowl that can be worn over my head to protect from rain or eventually snow. It's the Aibhlinn pattern from Knitty which is nice to knit. It's especially nice to knit in blended cotton. My cotton is Katia's Mississippi tex.

The pic is not the best
I'm finishing the full wool brioche in shades of red. I have something like 2 to 3 hours to go on it. Picture to come. 

I have a full week coming at work. A few long meetings, one or two press conferences and my 'darling' employee returns from vacation. But... even on vacations she managed to put her foot in her mouth and I couldn't catch her before she did. She's digging herself a hole. "sigh"

Almost done with my rewatch of Spooks season 2 Tom is slowly breaking down. Matthew Macfadyen looks so young there.

firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
This one is a real page-turner.

Katherine Lampe writes something like paranormal fiction but her protagonists aren't vampires or shapeshifters. They and other characters in her books have some personal magic power, and also access power and communicate with supernatural entities use a variety of magic forms and rituals that are common in the Americas and Europe. This lets Katherine get her characters into and out of trouble using everything from Tarot readings to shamanic journeying to charms you can buy off the Internet or make with supplies from your local craft store, which I think is a lot of fun. In this story, for example, a love charm ends up implicating someone as a murder suspect.

The relationship between Caitlin and Timber (who are married) is a delightful change from the usual antagonistic romantic relationship (or its opposite, the soulmates-until-the-end-of-time-even-though-we-only-met-two-days-ago relationship) in many paranormal romances.

This novel uses elements and gods from African religions, and the antagonist is an African woman. Because people might feel this is cultural appropriation, Katherine includes an afterword explaining her choices and how she researched these subjects. Because of that and because I'm white and they aren't my religious elements or gods, my enjoyment of the story wasn't affected.

The story shifts between Caitlin's and Timber's POVs. They have really distinctive voices. For example, Timber is much more tentative about communicating with himself verbally. I really sense that his relationship to the world is mediated through his body.

(Spoiler of a general plot point) In this story Timber is subject to sexual harrassment and rape. There are other paranormal novels where a male character has a history of being sexually abused, but I haven't often read one where the abuse happens during the story.

Sexual harrassment is often used as a plot driver in the paranormal genre in ways that make me uncomfortable: there is a trope (I'm looking at you, Charlaine) where male characters use sexual harrassment against female characters as a form of flirting/power-jockeying with other male characters. I hate that, and I am glad that is NOT happening in this book.

I was glad to see Tintri Fionn again, from an earlier book. He's one of my favorite characters.

September 1, 1939 -- WH Auden

Sep. 1st, 2014 01:01 pm
batdina: (hope -- lanning)
[personal profile] batdina

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
'I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,'
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

W.H. Auden

social hubs and social spokes

Sep. 1st, 2014 03:42 pm
the_shoshanna: Sam's and Dean's hands on the Ouija planchet (Ouija connection (IMToD))
[personal profile] the_shoshanna
I don't know where I first saw this metaphor (it was years and years ago), but somewhere I saw the idea that some people are social hubs, and others are social spokes. Hubs are people with tons and tons of connections to others; they sprout connections like breathing, it seems, and they're at the center of this amazing network. Whereas spokes are people who kind of rely on others to form the network, rather than being at the center of their own or forming one easily themselves.

I've always thought of myself as a spoke; I like being connected to lots of people, but I don't naturally grow such a network myself. I'm often more likely to stand back a bit and hope someone will reach out to me.

Geoff, on the other hand, is a hub par excellence, which is one of the reasons he's a great person for me to have in my life. (Except, of course, that his fannish network is almost totally unconnected to mine, heh.)

(no subject)

Sep. 1st, 2014 12:34 pm
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
We spent most of yesterday with Scott's family. I took my laptop with me because we expected that everybody but me would go out on the boat because the weather was good. As it happened, no boating happened. We have no idea why. It wasn't raining. It wasn't even threatening rain.

We went to the library before going to Scott's parents' place. Cordelia had a hold that she decided she didn't want after all. I had about as many books as CDs, so I had a lot to check out. We decided to skip bubble tea because we were running quite late (Scott dillydallied all morning and didn't get into the shower until after noon). I'd promised Scott's parents we'd be there at two, and it was one thirty by the time we got out of the library. We had to stop to buy a loaf of bread on our way out of town because we flaked on making one ourselves. Oh, well, Zingerman's farmhouse wheat is probably better than anything we could make.

We stopped at Burger King for lunch on the way north. Cordelia and I both had oreo shakes while Scott had lime ginger ale. The Burger King where we stop on these trips has a drink machine that does all sorts of blended flavors. I think there are six different options for ginger ale. There are only two for rootbeer, though. I haven't checked any of the other options.

Once we were at Scott's parents' place, Scott and Cordelia played cards with Scott's mother and sister and our niece. I sat with Scott's father and brother-in-law and watched golf. I wasn't interested in golf, but there wasn't room at the table for someone who couldn't play. I felt like it would be rude to pull out my laptop or my e-reader, so I was pretty bored.

We had dinner about six, chicken, broccoli, salad and bread. After the meal, Scott got his brother and his brother's family on his iPhone via FaceTime. We talked to them for quite a while. Their younger daughter turned four last week, and our sister-in-law's birthday is this coming week. We were going to put candles on the pie we were to have for dessert, but nobody could find any candles.

After we had pie, most of us sat on the sun porch and talked. We stayed until a little after eight. We took a detour on the way home to get bubble tea. It was really crowded near Bubble Island. We were lucky in our timing. There was only one group in front of us, but behind us, the line went all the way to the door with a lot of crowding. It was late at night for me to have a beverage that large, particularly one with caffeine in it (it's green tea with flavoring), but I ended up sleeping okay.

Doctor Who 8xo2 'Into the Dalek'

Sep. 1st, 2014 06:57 pm
sgac: crack; "You Broke My Icon" (broken)
[personal profile] sgac
Well, it had explosions and exterminating and the visuals were pretty cool. I thought it resonated nicely with Nine's Dalek. I hope they'll revisit Rusty because that could actually be interesting. God knows they need a way to make Daleks more interesting, because they're a terribly one-note villain.

I still yell angrily at the cogs and gears part of the titles.

So is this Doctor a good man? Eleven was a good man. The Doctor isn't necessarily a nice man, but Eleven could manage it when he wanted to. Ten was usually a good man, but he only did nice if he already liked you. Twelve (oh, how I hate that they messed up our nice neat numbering system)? Jury's still out on good, but he's definitely not nice. Or even likable. Or even particularly clever, in this episode. He needs a lot more slapping. I can't believe Clara let him get away with the soldier thing to Journey.

Back, with a meme

Sep. 1st, 2014 08:38 pm
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
[personal profile] cyphomandra
And yes, it has been almost a year since I last posted. I may expand on this later, but figured I'd start with something low-energy and work my way up to last year's Yuletide, what else I've been doing and the tiny handful of books I've managed to read.

You can tell a lot about a person from their music. Hit shuffle on your iPod, MP3 Player, etc. and put the first 10 songs! One rule, no skipping! Tag 10 people and pass it on!

First five from the laptop, second five from my iPhone.

At least we tried – Gold Motel
Break – The Cinematics
Snow desert – Speechless Project
Bring him home – Les Misérables, Broadway original cast
The only living boy in New York – Simon and Garfunkel

Jump through the fire – Oysterband
On the bus mall – The Decemberists
The land of do what you're told – Chumbawumba
Ordinary girl - Alison Moyet
Cherry tree – The National

What you can actually tell from this is that I get a lot of music off the internet - only one of these songs, On the bus mall, was ripped from an actual CD. On the other hand, if I like what I hear, I'll buy albums rather than singles - iTunes is responsible for Gold Motel, Oysterband, The Decemberists, and The National, and I have multiple albums for all bar Gold Motel. I also have bought Chumbawumba albums, but not with this song on them. The Les Misérables was one of those late night purchases when I realised I was never going to track down which box my CDs were in and, like the CDs, it is still not the version in my head (my mother taped this off the radio in the dim, distant past, and I don't know which version it was, but it's the one I'm stuck with).

I am also somewhat miffed that this appears to be the only time I've put my iPhone on shuffle when it hasn't played at least one Michel Thomas Italian for Beginners track, as I have 8 CDs worth on there and they always show up when I actually want music.


Yuletide Pimping: Road Not Taken

Aug. 31st, 2014 08:18 pm
ellen_fremedon: overlapping pages from Beowulf manuscript, one with a large rubric, on a maroon ground (Default)
[personal profile] ellen_fremedon
Yuletide signups are soon! But not so soon that you do not have time to play Road Not Taken, a game I am going to nominate!

Other reviewers have described the gameplay better than I can, with screenshots, so first go read Ars Technica's review. This one from Joystiq is also good.

So-- yes, it's depressing, and you'll die a lot (though it is not quite as difficult as it was when those reviews were written; they patched in a Difficult level, or rather patched in an easier Normal level and renamed the old version the Difficult one.) But it's also beautiful and whimsical in a very familiar way.

Road Not Taken was created by a lot of the people who worked on Glitch, including Brent Kobayashi (Kukubee), who did all of the artwork, and Danny Simmons, who did all the music and sounds. If you played Glitch, the world looks and feels really familiar. There are some visual elements and sounds that were repurposed-- you have a cat that looks and sounds like the helikitty; the ghost girl you see in the woods is remarkably like the ghost from the faded heart quest; the willowisps recall the DNA fragments.

There are also some reused worldbuilding elements. Those shrines are the ones from Glitch; the one in your house has a inscription about the sadness of reincarnation. (They do not work like the shrines in Glitch. Believe them when they tell you the price will be higher than you think.)

Between the shrines, the other familiar visuals and sounds, the unexplained relics and ruins you come across, and very Glitch-like the sense of whimsy in the transmutation/crafting system, I started to think of the game as being set in Ur, after the giants have awakened and everything has gotten really depressing; and after the developers started wondering what they are doing with their lives and gamified their cynicism and existential crises.

More than anything, playing the game reminded me of reading Toil Until The Old Colours Fade, the Javert Groundhog Day fic. You think you've figured out how to save everyone this time, but you come across some new complication and get slammed back to your first day on the job, going through the same interactions with the same villagers, who don't know that they've gone through all this before. And your relationships with the villagers are a major part of the gameplay; you give them gifts to advance your relationship, and they will tell you useful information, or give you charms, or simply tell you that you are a worthwhile person and they love you and give you an energy bonus. (Or, alternately, they will get jealous, feel neglected, get sick...)

You can't choose your avatar-- it's random, though I think gender is determined by one question in your interaction with the villagers. The avatars are mostly pretty gender-ambiguous, though, so I'm not sure. And you can not only court but marry multiple villagers, if you care to put the work into your relationships; my second playthrough I had four spouses.

If any of this sounds appealing, I recommend the game highly. I'm not much of a gamer, but this one is challenging and really touching in places, and beautifully designed.

Go, play, and nominate and/or volunteer it for Yuletide. I really want fic for this world.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
I like this post about self-care, ableism, and activism for two reasons. One, this person has the same experience with anger that I do.
Some people can sustain rage. I'm not one of them. Anger lights me up like a burning oil slick, and the smoke fills my lungs and clouds my eyes. Anger consumes me from within, and unfortunately comes with pronounced physical deterioration as well as emotional. It could, with some stringent control, be channeled into some sort of constructive output, but most of the time I do not have that control, and it's probable that I never will. It simply isn't the relationship that anger and I have.
Ironically and disappointingly, this means drastically turning down the volume on what news of bigotry or theories on social justice to which I am exposed....I need to be able to function as a person before wading in to battle. We all do.
Two, this:
the industry (for lack of better word) of activism is based upon the principles of labour laid out by a patriarchal and imperial system, the same system we are trying to dismantle. The value and worth of the work you do is measured against external criteria determined by what is best for the economy; not the individual.

Read more... )

(no subject)

Aug. 31st, 2014 11:05 am
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
Scott was really slow in showering yesterday even though we were in a hurry. We didn't get out the door until fifteen minutes after we should have, and we had to detour to pick up a second child who also needed a ride to the party. Getting to her house was time consuming because the best route is blocked by construction and will be until some time in November (I don't know what the school bus will do).

Scott chose to override the directions his phone gave him. He told me after we arrived that he shouldn't have. It was because he didn't realize exactly where our destination was. We ran into heavy traffic for a while, right before our final exit. If we'd taken the other route, we wouldn't have run into anything of the sort.

Fortunately, we got there close enough to on time that they let the girls in. Sky Zone is really strict about starting times, so if one arrives too late, one doesn't get in. We were about ten minutes late.

After dropping the girls off, Scott and I went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner. I had salmon with zucchini and mashed potatoes. Scott had lobster, shrimp and tilapia with a salad and onion rings. We thought about dessert, but we decided we'd get something later. As it happened, we didn't, and I regret that. Scott owes me a nice dessert.

From there, we went to Office Depot to get composition books and to Kroger for most of our groceries (we didn't buy ice cream or meat of any sort). Kroger was challenging because we didn't know where anything was, but we found everything that was urgent.

After that, we still had forty minutes, but we couldn't come up with anything else to do, so we sat in the Sky Zone parking lot. We were going to turn off the car and open the windows, but we were right next to some woods, and there were an awful lot of bugs.

We had three girls for the trip home. The third girl was Cordelia's best friend. The girls were crowded in back, but they sounded like they were having fun. They mostly talked about books and the start of school.

It started raining hard about the time we hit 23. I don't know how Scott knew where to find the right exit. I certainly couldn't tell. We dropped the other girls off without any fuss and went home.

(no subject)

Aug. 31st, 2014 12:12 pm
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Because there may be more people who would want to know who haven't heard yet:

[personal profile] delux_vivens has died.

I don't have words that can do justice to the loss.

aging relatives

Aug. 30th, 2014 04:57 pm
the_shoshanna: my boy kitty (Default)
[personal profile] the_shoshanna
It's sad and scary that today was a good day for Geoff's grandfather. He's gotten terribly frail and sometimes confused (and thus upset).

Still, for someone about to turn ninety-eight...!

(no subject)

Aug. 30th, 2014 02:22 pm
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
Ugh. We had a containment failure on the nylon stocking we use to catch lint coming out of the washing machine, going into the utility sink. That means that the basin was full to the brim (though it fortunately didn't go over) and that the clothes were still dripping after the spin cycle. I was able to clear the lint out, mostly, by reaching in, but it wasn't fun. I suspect that containment failed midway through the load, probably during the rinse cycle. I think that, had the drain been plugged for the wash cycle too, we'd have had overflow. It's a good thing, too, that I've persuaded the cleaning lady to put her mop and bucket in the other basin. Of course, if she hadn't, I'd probably have moved it before running laundry.

Now I have to wait for Scott to have time and energy to change the stocking. We've got plenty, and I even know where they are. I'm just not strong enough to loosen the nut that holds the loop that keeps the stocking in place. I suppose, if I searched the basement, I could find a tool that would do it. It's just that Scott can do it without tools.

(no subject)

Aug. 30th, 2014 11:27 am
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
I am a bit worried about how Cordelia will do in school this year. She says she hates science, and there's going to be a lot of science. I want her to like science. I'm not sure why she dislikes it. She has enjoyed the Science Olympiad. We did that every year, second grade through fifth grade. I'm not sure what she thinks science is.

I am also a bit concerned that there may be a lot more boys than girls at the school, at least in sixth grade. I didn't see the class lists, but all of the new sixth graders we've met have been boys. The only girls we know are attending are kids Cordelia was in fifth grade with. I'm a little concerned that there's a bias toward boys in terms of enrollment (everybody who applied got in, so what I mean is that a lot more boys applied).

Sixth grade is also a time when kids start being really nasty to each other. I know there's been some bullying at the school in the past, and I worry that there'll be more among the sixth graders. Such things get worse at middle school age. I'm hoping, though, that with less than fifty sixth graders the teachers will be more on top of things than they are at a normal middle school with two or three hundred sixth graders. Then again, having less than thirty fifth graders didn't help in the specific case I've heard about.

In terms of the girls who stayed at Cordelia's school, Cordelia is friends with all of them, so she has potentially a good support network. There are five girls returning, including Cordelia's best friend and second best friend (both of whom we hope will be in her class. The best friend definitely is. The second best friend hasn't yet been assigned to a class, but her mother asked for the class Cordelia's in).

(no subject)

Aug. 30th, 2014 10:30 am
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
Cordelia's practicing with her combination lock. She can now open it more often than not. When I tried, I couldn't get it to work. Scott was the first to manage it. Part of the problem for me is that the instructions say 'turn right' and 'turn left' instead of using 'clockwise' and 'counter clockwise.' I couldn't figure out which direction they meant. I tried both at different times, but I kept getting confused about which direction I had started out with.

Scott's parents decided they could host on Sunday after all, so we'll spend a considerable chunk of tomorrow at their place. If the weather's nice, everybody but me will go out in the boat. The weather being nice is by no means guaranteed, however. The forecast is currently for partly cloudy, but there's rain both before and after.

Cordelia's hoping for nice weather on Monday, too, as she's hoping to go to the Saline Fair. That always runs Labor Day weekend, and on Labor Day, all that runs is the rides. There's a flat fee for a bracelet that allows one to ride as many rides as one can manage. Scott is currently expecting to have Monday off. We're hoping that won't change. The weather forecast for Monday is 50% chance of rain (showers and thunderstorms).

I have been informed that spiral notebooks cannot stand in for composition books. Scott and I will have to search to find composition books-- Target had nothing but spiral notebooks and small bound books the size of mass market paperbacks. Cordelia's birthday party tonight is in Canton, so we can check the Target there. Hopefully, there's an office supply store in the area that we can try if Target fails.

And this reminds me that I have a bunch of forms that Cordelia needs to read and sign. I put them aside on Thursday after I filled out our part, and I keep forgetting to pull them out for her. I'll go do that now. She's watching baseball and coloring, so I can interrupt her briefly without too much fuss.



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