(no subject)

Oct. 19th, 2017 09:48 pm
the_rck: (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
I went downtown yesterday early enough to have time to return things to the library and to pick up my holds. I had a little more than forty minutes before the bus I needed to take to get to Skyline. I got out to the school about fifteen minutes before the final bell. Cordelia was a little worried about where to meet because I wanted to give her geometry teacher some Puffs as a donation (the district no longer provides tissues for teachers to put out for the kids who have colds/allergies).

The fundraiser stuff was in two smallish boxes, one of which only contained a beef sausage thingy and so didn't weigh very much. I told the cab dispatcher where we'd be waiting, but he neglected to tell the cabbie. Fortunately, he guessed the front entrance, and we'd positioned ourselves where we could see cars on both loops approaching that (there's one for buses and one for parents dropping off/picking up, but when there aren't buses there, cars can use either).

We had friends over to play games last night. We played a cooperative game called Star Trek Five Year Mission that Scott's planning to run at UCon. We missed a lot of details the first time through. I didn't play the second game because they wanted to do the timed version. I didn't want to deal with that. Instead, I took a short walk and recaptured the Ingress portal down the street. I managed to get a silver (second level out of five) badge for making fields.

I had intended to go out this morning, but Scott's sister texted me with an invitation for Cordelia to go out to a concert this evening, and I spent quite a long time trying to coordinate that (including reaching Cordelia to make sure she even wanted to go). I can only assume that my niece intended to take a friend and had that friend cancel at the last minute. I didn't ask.

I've written 1200 words today, just not on any of my established WIP. Because I needed a new, half completed story. Really, I did.

Books read, July

Oct. 20th, 2017 02:32 pm
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
[personal profile] cyphomandra
We have a new government!!! (more importantly, one I am very happy with; Labour/NZ First in coalition with the Greens, Jacinda Adern as Prime Minister; I would have preferred Labour/Greens but they didn't get the votes. I am unable to sum up my thoughts on Winston Peters, leader of NZ First and the person who under our MMP system ultimately decided the next government, but basically I respect him as a politician and would never vote for him)

Agatha Christie, After the Funeral
Agatha Christie, Elephants can Remember
Anne Gracie, Marry in Haste
Anne Gracie, Gallant Waif
KJ Charles, An Unnatural Vice
KJ Charles, A Fashionable Indulgence
KJ Charles, A Seditious Affair
KJ Charles, A Gentleman's Position
KJ Charles, The Ruination of Gabriel Ashleigh
Anne Gracie, His Stolen Princess
Anne Ursu, The Real Boy
Pierre Lemaitre, The Great Swindle


My Miss Marple re-read has taken a detour because I know there are only two left and I don't want them to be over. After the Funeral is Poirot, investigating the case of a batty but often insightful woman who is murdered with a hatchet the day after she states that the relative they are just burying was obviously murdered himself; I spotted the clues and put some of them together but really got this on the rather depressing approach of that if anyone is remotely coded lesbian they will come to a bad end. Elephants can Remember is another Poirot, and it's one where I have a very clear memory of reading it as a child (probably 9 or so) in a library copy, and not really liking it, and possibly I didn't finish it. It's late - published 1972 - and a bit obvious (features identical twins) and it's sad in a slightly nasty way. Despite that it does manage to handle a plot where all the major reveals are in the past and in people's memories without annoying me by having the sequence of reveals be too obviously stage-managed, so there's that.

Every so often I try m/f romances, and after finding Sherry Thomas I checked a couple of rec sites out, focussing on historicals, and picked up a book by Anne Gracie. Her books are competent regencies that neither overdo the slang nor stick contemporary characters in costumes, the characters themselves usually behave like sensible adults, and she has a sense of humour, and in addition to all that a lot of her books are available through the library's Overdrive system, so I have been binging. Plotting could be stronger and the endings sometimes feel rushed, I don't always feel that much sympathy for her characters, plus she can't really pull off some of the melodramatic conventions (secret royalty etc), but they're mostly fun reads. Marry in Haste is arranged marriage; male lead returns to England post-Napoleonic wars trying to track an assassin but finds he has to take over estate responsibilities and look after his half-sisters, so marries their governess to supervise them. The hero discovers the heroine is not a virgin on their wedding night and after he storms off initially they have a conversation where she points out that a)there'd been no opportunity to tell him earlier and b) if it was that important to him he should have mentioned it in the proposal, and he listens to her, agrees, and they move on (she had a sweet but short-lived fling with a farm worker, if I remember correctly). The assassin plot-line creaks a bit but is okay. Gallant Waif has a great older female character, grandmother to the hero and godmother to the heroine's mother, who essentially kidnaps the heroine (who was in a miserable state) to get her to sort out the hero, who is crippled and sulking post-war. I am not wild about people flinging coffee pots at each other to indicate feistiness, and I felt the tone of the relationship in this one was a bit off from their angst-ridden pasts, plus the final scene felt rather unlikely - at a ball the heroine gets initially shunned by everyone and then there's a bit where everyone she's ever helped - war veterans and their families, mostly - come over and accept her. His Stolen Princess has a mother and son who are Secretly Princess and Crown Prince from another non-existent European country escaping an Evil Relative with Designs on the Throne, and was my least favourite of these three as the characters didn't really work and the plotting was equally unlikely. The supporting characters were good, though.

KJ Charles, The Society of Gentlemen series. I read these all in about two days. I've had A Fashionable Indulgence for ages but couldn't get into it. Harry fled to France as a child when his parents were wanted for sedition, and has been living in poverty; now he's the heir to fortune and nobility, and his cousin Richard sets him up with his friend Julius (dandy, closed-off emotionally post-war) to show him how to be a gentleman. The Pygmalion plotline is not my favourite, and neither of the characters are really there for me; I liked it while I was reading it, but it doesn't crackle. But the second, A Seditious Affair is a different beast; Silas, an anarchist, atheist and printer of seditious literature (also looked after Harry after his parents' death) has weekly assignations with a nameless noble who likes Silas to beat him up and insult him beforehand. Nameless noble is, of course, Dominic, one of the Society of Gentlemen, and also a government employee tasked with hunting down rebels. This really sparks as a novel. The characters are believable, as is their setting, which is very specific time period - the Peterloo Massacre takes place during the book - and it is explicitly addressing one of the things that bugs me about m/m historicals set in England in the 1700-1900s, namely class. It's a dynamic, unstable relationship, and I like seeing that, even when the characters' kinks don't necessarily work for me. A Gentleman's Position, about Richard and his valet, who's been secretly in love with him for ages, is also about class, but it's a tamer book - I liked it more than the first, though, because I am fond of pining. The Ruination of Gabriel Ashleigh is a novella that takes place first chronologically, and it's perfectly unobjectionable, but it doesn't really have the room to convince me of a) the characters b) their backstory and c) its rapid resolution in favour of explicit sex.

KJ Charles, An Unnatural Vice. Second in the Sins of the City series, and I liked it more; crusading journalist is determined to expose the Seer of London as a fraud, they end up hooking up, the melodrama plot with lost heirs and fraudulent claimants ticks along in the background. I think this series is very much one overall plot for the three stories, which does weaken the individual parts a little. Lots of nice spiritualism details.

Anne Ursu, The Real Boy. I bought another book by Ursu years ago and never finished reading it, which gives me twinges of guilt when I see her name (it's in a box somewhere, along with practically everything else in my collection by an author with a surname from N onwards). This is children's fantasy in which Oscar, the shop boy for a magician, has to deal with the absence of his master (and the surprisingly gory death of an older apprentice) and magical problems that indicate something seriously wrong with his society. Oscar is autistic; it's never spelled out, and the book is in his point of view, but we see how others interact with him and how he feels about things. It's nicely done, although there is a rather disturbing bit where Oscar decides he can't possibly be a proper human (see title); this is not the case. However, the world-building in this felt a little wobbly, and the lack of almost any remotely sensible adult a little forced.

Pierre Lemaitre, The Great Swindle (trans. Frank Wynne). This won the Prix Goncourt in 2013 and it's a cynical but oddly caring book; the ending didn't quite work for me, but a lot of the rest did. The set-up is fabulous - in the final days of WWI, the grasping Lieutenant Henri d'Aulnay Pradelle, desperate for promotion, sends out two of his men to scout the enemy lines and shoots them in the back, using their supposed murders at the hands of the enemy to spur his own troops into a suicidal attack. Albert Maillard, one of his soldiers, discovers the bodies during the charge, realises what has happened and then sees Pradelle watching him; Pradelle shoves him into a bomb crater where he is buried alive, only to be dug up by Edouard Péricourt, a dissolute aristocrat possessed by artistic genius, who then has half his own face blown off by shrapnel. It's a set-up that would be the reveal of a lesser book.

Albert, stricken by guilt, looks after Péricourt once both men are discharged, and is drawn into Péricourt's elaborate revenge scheme (possibly the swindle of the title; there are a lot of swindles) but Pradelle is also manoeuvring through post-war society, and he knows Albert is out there. It's an indictment of the treatment of war veterans, and the way in which sympathy can be manipulated and channeled into socially acceptable methods of expression; it's also about the odd friendship/carer relationship between Albert and Péricourt, and about Péricourt's sister Madeleine, who believes her brother dead, and it's about the eminently unlikeable Joseph Merlin, a chicken-obsessed bureaucrat, who is the ultimate architect of justice. I said the ending didn't quite work for me and it doesn't - I wanted more resolution for Péricourt - but I did like the other characters' fates.
cahn: (Default)
[personal profile] cahn
I was going to wait until I had time to go into Seventeen and get the textual backup for everything I'm saying, but I have gradually come to realize that if I wait until then it will never happen until possibly after Yuletide which isn't acceptable. Also I guess it would be even longer than it actually is. So. Here you go.

This is long even without quotations. )

Tor.com giveaway of Winter Tide

Oct. 19th, 2017 04:13 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
Tor.com is giving away the ebook of Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys until midnight October 20.

It is a response to Lovecraft, but Kirkus describes it as "essentially a story about identity, found families, wrapped in a cozy mystery. With magic. And monsters. Except the monsters are not exactly who you expect them to be."

https://giveaway.tor.com/

Much nonfiction

Oct. 19th, 2017 04:22 pm
rivkat: Dean reading (dean reading)
[personal profile] rivkat
Jennifer Wright, Get Well Soon: History’s Worst PlaguesRead more... )
Arkady Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev to Putin: How things went wrong in Russia, with the failure of democratic reformers to put in a structure that could survive the transfer of power. Very few heroes here.

Hillary Clinton, What HappenedCue gross sobbing )
Neil Strauss, Emergency: This Book Will Save Your LifeRead more... )

Richard V. Reeves, Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What To Do About ItIt me )

Brooke Erin Duffy, (Not) Getting Paid To Do What You Love: Gender, Social Media, and Aspirational Workfans who want to be pros )

Jesse Eisinger, The Chickenshit ClubRead more... )

Brittney Cooper, Eloquent RageEmbracing rage )
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
Last night, I bolted out of a dead sleep at a little after 11 because the landline was ringing. I run downstairs, but let it go to the answering machine, which is basically a reflex at this point. No message.

I then look at my phone, because grabbing that when I wake up in the middle of the night is absolutely a reflex (though the Pip sleeps much, much better these days!) . . . and it was me. The cell had someone dialed the landline. [*]

I post this story elsewhere, and literally seconds later, I get the punchline )

[*] On reflection, it wasn't that late, so I think I fell asleep with the phone still on in my hand and touched it enough to keep the screen awake, until eventually I randomly dialed home. I checked, I hadn't made any other outgoing calls, at least.

reading wednesday

Oct. 19th, 2017 02:19 am
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
[This is actually from last Wednesday but I'm just going to post it now anyway]
• What are you reading?

Notes from a Feminist Killjoy, by Erin Wunker. It's a bits-and-pieces book, but all the bits are in conversation with other writers, and with reality; even its bittyness recalls how Tillie Olsen would carry a sentence in her mind, polishing it in scraps of time between interruptions, through a day of women's work, a day of no peace, no privacy, no silence, no solitude.
When I started this book, I wanted to write something unimpeachable. Something so clear and objective, it could be a little dictionary or translation phrase book for how to speak a feminist language and live a feminist life. I wanted what many other writers -- the many-gendered mothers of my heart -- had already written. I wanted A Room of One's Own, Sister Outsider, Willful Subjects, Islands of Decolonial Love. I wanted Feminism is for Everybody and The Dream of a Common Language. I wanted No Language is Neutral.

I wanted books that had already been written by people whose experiences of moving through the world are different -- often radically so -- from mine.

*

I got stuck.
*
I read some more.
*
I remembered that I tell my students that reading and writing are attempts at joining conversations, making new ones, and, sometimes, shifting the direction of discourse.
*
I sat down at my typewriter again.


• What did you recently finish reading?

George & Lizzie, by Nancy Pearl.

Lizzie agreed. "I remember reading a novel in which one of the characters, a college professor, was writing a book on the influence of Emily Dickinson on Shakespeare and how his colleagues always misheard it and thought it was the other way around. I wish I could remember the title, because talking about it now makes me want to read it again. It's so interesting to think about. Do you think we read Shakespeare differently because of Dickinson's poems?"


I remember reading that too! It was by David Lodge, I think Changing Places? I read it about the same age Lizzie did. Not at the same time: I'm maybe ten years older than Lizzie. But, like Lizzie, I grew up in Michigan and went to UM and struggled with depression most of my life and, as a young woman, tried to claim my sexuality in ways that were bad for me and for the people I interacted with. Lizzie feels real to me, is what I'm saying, and I'm okay with the fact that the people around her are kind of one-note because the problem this book is about is: if you can't stop being sad about your shitty childhood even though your life is no longer shitty, if you can't stop punishing yourself for bad choices that you made long ago, if you can't stop trying to change something that happened long ago and wasn't in your control even then. . . then how do you stop?
[Lizzie says] "They're your thoughts, right? How can you not think them?"
Marla struggled to answer. "I don't know, but people do it. I think I let go of things, or at least try to. You have to, really, otherwise you're weighted down with all those cumulative bad memories. James and I used to talk about that baby missing from our lives, whether it was a boy or a girl, whether we could find out who adopted it, whether we'd ever forgive our parents, why we didn't just say 'Screw you' to them back then and get married after I got pregnant. I mean, you know, it was so present. It was always there in our lives. But if we kept that up there'd be no place for anything else. And now we just acknowledge all that awful stuff happened, that maybe we made the wrong decision, that we were just kids. We were just kids. You have to forgive yourself eventually, right?"

Lizzie's husband George got famous by explaining that, while pain is inevitable, suffering is optional, but his explanation doesn't work for Lizzie. George doesn't seem to understand that, for some people, that's liberating, but for others, it says that your suffering was your choice and therefore your fault. I'd offer Lizzie Season of Mists, because "you don't have to stay anywhere forever" worked for me, but how a story works depends as much on the reader as on the story.

Which is not to say that we shouldn't do our best to write good stories. This one has a stupid editing oversight that dumped me right out:
[Marla:]"I love you Lizzie, and always will. And I will always, always, keep your secrets. But this, what this means to you and George, is an important secret. It's not the equivalent of a little white lie. It'd be like me not telling James about the abortion."
[Lizzie:]"But James knew about the abortion, he was with you when you had it."
"Don't be deliberately naive, it doesn't become you. You know what I mean: some other James I was involved with."


What abortion, I wondered? Was there an abortion as well as a baby given up for adoption? When?

No, it must have been changed from an abortion to an adoption at some point. Which was a good change: it's believable that Marla would find it harder to move on with her life after carrying the baby for nine months, while knowing that there was a person out there that she felt responsible for but had no ability to protect. But leaving evidence of the change in the story made me notice how flat all the other characters are, how they are the way they are in order to serve Lizzie's story.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, by H.P. Lovecraft.

guest gift dilemma

Oct. 18th, 2017 11:05 am
the_shoshanna: a menu (menu)
[personal profile] the_shoshanna
This weekend I'm going to a workshop in Ontario, and I'll be staying three nights in the home of someone who has offered to host a workshop attendee. I don't know this person/people -- I don't even have a name or address yet, and may not be told until I arrive on Friday afternoon. Not that a name or address would tell me anything except how much time to allot to get back and forth between bed and workshop...

I'd like to bring a guest gift, as a way of saying thank you, but I'm finding myself paralyzed. (Also short on time, but that's a separate issue.) The traditional gift is food, right? Something homemade, that carries the signification of "I put work into this" as well as the general good feeling associated with sharing food. Or wine, which lacks the homemade aspect but adds extra celebratoriness to the good feeling aspect.

But, knowing nothing about the person I might be staying with, I'm finding myself blocked with worry about what might be appropriate. Alcohol is problematic enough for enough people that I'd rather not bring it -- plus I should bring something I'd want to consume myself, in case they invite me to share, and I'd rather not drink while I'm there. But food is difficult too. Sweets/desserts are the usual gift, for the special-treat feeling, and I'd rather not eat sweets either, really, but I can cope. But what if they're gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, sugar-free, kosher, halal, allergic, diabetic? Is there a universally suitable food gift? Is it okay if I bring something they can't eat? What if I accidentally hit on something to which they're so allergic that just having it in the house is a problem? Aaaaaaaa.

I definitely don't feel that a gift is required, and given time restrictions, I may end up bringing nothing anyway. But I'd like to if I can -- if I can think of something!

Uh, any suggestions?

Yuletide and bears

Oct. 18th, 2017 08:05 am
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
SteelyKid made teddy-bear-pipe-cleaner swaps [*] for her Girl Scouts bridging ceremony last night, which she was justly proud of because she'd figured out a better way to make them that didn't involve cutting up the pipe cleaners, and she distributed them by running up to people, sticking out her full hands, and saying, "Bears!"

Which made me laugh every time, thinking of friends writing Yuletide.

Anyway, her swaps were a big hit, and if you need a Yuletide beta and you think I might know your fandom, hit me up even if it's not on the spreadsheet. Comments are screened.

[*] Any kind of little craft on a safety pin that you can trade.

(no subject)

Oct. 18th, 2017 08:02 am
the_rck: (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
Today is going to be kind of stressful. I have to meet Cordelia at school when the school day ends because the choir fundraiser stuff is coming in. I didn't see any way for her to be able to carry it home on the bus, so the best option seems to be me going there and then us getting a cab back.

Some of her teachers have requested Kleenex donations, so I can take those at the same time.

Cordelia has an appointment at 5:45, so we won't have time to waste on the way home. I wish the bus website was actually reliable about the bus that goes between Skyline and downtown. There are two or three different route variants (I've seen the A and C. I'm assuming there must be a B).

We'll get home from the appointment just in time to have friends over at 7:00.

I need to figure out a way to get myself to bed earlier in the evening. Scott and Cordelia really, really want me to watch TV with them which pushes getting ready for bed to 9:00 at which point, Cordelia generally wants to shower. I think that what I need to do is to get a second tube of toothpaste and to keep that and my toothbrush and bite splint in the kitchen so that I don't have to wait for her to get to done to be able to deal with that bit of my routine.

I still have the problem that 8:00 or 9:00 is the point when my writing brain suddenly turns itself on with great enthusiasm. Given that I can't get my body to nap, I have a choice between sleep and writing that's pretty frustrating.

(no subject)

Oct. 17th, 2017 12:18 pm
the_rck: (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
I must have done something yesterday, but I can't for the life of me remember anything. Somehow, time is getting away from me.

I posted a story for [community profile] weissvsaiyuki today. I still have four WIP that I would love to complete for the challenge, but I don't know if I'll manage any of them.

Title: One More Folded Sunset
Fandom: Weiss Kreuz
Rating: T
Pairing: Crawford/Schuldig, background Crawford/Manx
Tags: Implied/referenced rape/non-con, Implied/referenced torture, Alternate universe - canon divergence, Alternate universe - dark, Ambiguous/open ending, Amnesia

//Brad, where the fuck are we?// Once he was sure he had a connection to Brad’s mind, he opened his eyes. He felt safer that way.

//Schuldig? I wasn’t— No. That’s not true.// Brad sounded uncertain, fragmented even, in a way that scared Schuldig even more than the odd landscape and his inability to stop walking. //The hill doesn’t look that big, but it will probably take you another half an hour to get here. Things… stretch. Sort of. You’re being watched. She can’t hear when we talk like this, but she’s watching, and she’ll hear if you speak out loud. I’d come to meet you, but… I can’t. I’ll explain when you get here.//

Schuldig knew Brad well enough to know when he was lying. You’re not going to explain anything. Well, we’ve been there before. I’ll get it one way or another. He rubbed his face with one hand. Why don’t I remember anything to explain this?

The story at AO3.

attempting embroidery

Oct. 16th, 2017 10:18 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
Somehow, I don't know how, I started following an embroidery blog, Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread. And I liked what I saw, but transferring designs seemed really tedious and also fraught with the possibility of error, and it's not like I don't have enough stitching projects on hand already.

. . . and then, of course, I found pre-printed "coloring book" fabric in a craft store, very cheap. So I decided to give it a try, using spare floss from my stash.

The fabric is "Zenbroidery", specifically the Garden print. The picture has suggested stitching, but, well, check out the big version: you could see the printing through the stitching, I just couldn't make myself do it. So I dug through the Needle 'n Thread archives for ideas, picked out some floss, popped the fabric on my Q-Snaps, and started out.

It was a lot of fun at first! Not having to look at a pattern makes things flow surprisingly quickly and enjoyably. And making the vines split off and curl around was very satisfying.

Here's as far as I got before I stopped:

picture )

(click to make huge, or view on Google Photos)

I'm stopping for several reasons: I don't like the colors I picked; it's too big (10" square); satin stitch with a single strand of DMC is incredibly tedious; and worst, the fabric is just awful: it's so thin you can see the brown desk underneath it, and every time I had to pick out stitches or try to set them close together, I was afraid I'd rip it.

So I'm going to put this aside and get some better-quality (and smaller) preprinted fabric from Etsy, as my travel project. Because I have also started gridding the Teresa Wentzler Celestial Dragon, nearly eight years after I was given the pattern, and that's not a travel project in the least. (I'm making myself a ruler for the gridding, and even with that I'm still so nervous about messing it up that I'm sure I'm going to recount all the blocks regardless, because I'm planning to do as she suggests and stitch the border first . . . )

Do you embroider? Do you have a favorite pattern source or type? (I think I might try crewel at some point, because the nice soft thick wool threads look very appealing.)

(no subject)

Oct. 16th, 2017 08:34 am
the_rck: (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
I did eventually get to sleep last night. I ended up taking a second Halcion. I probably got about four hours of sleep. I'm going to have to find a way to nap today, or I'll end up too tired to manage anything myself by the time I need to eat dinner.

I'm not sure why my body wasn't willing to sleep. Scott and I took a moderately long walk, a bit more than an hour, around north campus yesterday. It would have been longer, but it started to pour, and we had to run for the car. I need to hack ten more new to me Ingress portals in order to get the silver badge for that. I'm entirely sure that I can find those on north campus. I just need to drag myself out there for it.

Maybe later today if I manage a nap.

Scott and Cordelia are both having trouble getting their phones to charge. Scott has to wiggle the connection until the charging starts and then not jostle it at all or it will stop. Cordelia's just having problems with the cord in the living room. Scott really needs to replace his phone, but we can't afford it.

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