a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Today's Google Doodle celebrates the 165th anniversary of the birth of a famous Canadian woman- Henrietta Edwards.

The Famous Five or The Valiant Five [...] (French: Célèbres cinq) were five Alberta women who asked the Supreme Court of Canada to answer the question, "Does the word 'Persons' in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?" in the case Edwards v. Canada (Attorney General).
swan_tower: (Default)

Petals on the Water
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Bodies of water are a mixed bag in photography: they’re very boring and flat and featureless, unless they’re reflecting stuff well or have something floating on them. This is a case of the latter making the image far more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

18 December 2014 07:52 - eyes under the prize
metaphortunate: (Default)
Okay, [personal profile] gabbysilang has got me concerned. Eyebrows? Of all the bits of my body that I have wasted my life fruitlessly wishing were smaller, higher, smoother, less painful, more functional, less hairy or stronger, eyebrows are like the one thing it never occurred to me to wish were otherwise than they were. They...uh, do their job, I guess? They sit on my forehead between my eyes and my hairline. I can raise the left one by itself, sort of! Is that not enough? Should I be demanding more of them? Is there a way to get them to pick up wifi?
18 December 2014 10:00 - Groove Is In The Heart
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

When you come from the New York area, you grow up learning a certain disdain of tourists. So it was distinctly weird to be staying in a hotel in the city for an honest-to-god vacation. It really hadn’t sunk in for me that we’d be playing tourist in what was, really, kind of our hometown. Well, mine anyway. But there we were, like something from a Christmas movie, waltzing in and out of a lavishly decorated lobby on our way to and from leisure activities like seeing the tree and the windows at Macy’s.

The tree. You all know about “the tree”?

Read the rest of this entry » )
(Yesterday's post has deals on Pacific Rim, Gravity, and a few video games and other items. Tuesday's post still has active deals on Fire TV, Avatar, Leapfrog stuff, and more; Monday's post has deals on Chromecast, Roku, PSTV, Kindle, and games and movies, while Sunday's short post has awesome deals on Arrow, the Mel Brooks Collection, Warehouse 13, British Mysteries, and classic shows including Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, and Naked City.)

The Deal of the Day is on the Complete Sons of Anarchy Set (with Seasons 1-6 shipping now, and a credit for Season 7) for $89.99 (40% off) on DVD or $99.99 (67% off) on Blu-Ray.

The Toy Deal of the Day is on Green Toys for 50% off. That's the brand Green Toys, not just toys that are environmentally sound (although the brand is also that). Lots of good toddler/preschool stuff here.

The electronics DotD is 50% off a bunch of Kensington products. Like the Logitech on a few days ago, this includes keyboards and mice,a s well as surge protectors, backpacks, locks, and other useful things.

The fourth DotD is on the American Red Cross FRX3 Hand Crank NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio with Smartphone Charger for $33 (59% off and about $22 below other deals).

Yay! One of the Kindle Daily Deals is on Megan Abbott's The Fever. This was one of my five best reads of 2014 (a post I still need to work on), and everyone should read it (and everything else Abbott has written).

There's a one-day sale on O'Reilly's only cookbook, Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food for $16.26 (54% off). I saw a presentation by the atuhor at BarCamp Boston a few years back, and it was really fascinating.

Because Christmas is coming soon (as is the end of Hanukkah), there's a massive free one-day-shipping sale, with a pretty solid range of things from jewerly to electronics to game to clothing. Most of the prices are low (if not 50%-off low), but the free one-day shipping makes them extra enticing.

In toys, the My Little Pony Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks DJ PON-3 Doll is $5.72 (74% off). Unlike the Rainbow Dash deal, this one's not an add-on, so if you've got Prime, that's your shipping cost.

And the Star Wars The Black Series Jabba the Hutt Figure is $15.64 (64% off).

In video games, Dragon Age Inquisition for the Xbox360 or PS3 (backordered) is $39.99 (33% off).

In books, Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds is on sale for $12.02 (52% off), while the hardcover of Eleanor & Park is $9.49 (50% off). The paperback of E&P appears to have gone out of print.

In kitchen items, the really nifty Chef'n SleekStor Pinch Pour Prep Bowls - a set of four nesting bowls that both measure and pinch it to allow easy pouring -- is $14.09 ($6 off other deals). and the ten-piece Anchor Hocking Glass Bowl Set is $15.97 (a full $20 off other prices after shipping), although the Amazon deal is backordered (so look at "other sellers" on the right).

And finally, joining the other TV device deals, the Roku 3 is $84.99 (15% off). This is what we got my mom for her birthday early this year, and she's been loving it.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
The entirety of the following is someone else's words.

Here is her situation, in her own words:

"My husband has Alzheimer's. He needs help with getting up in the morning, with eating his breakfast and keeping clean. He needs help in remembering where he is and who the people around him are. Most of all, he needs help with filling the hours of his day. For a long time I managed to give him all this help and keep writing ­­ not as much as I wanted to write, but something everyday. I also had time for keeping in touch with friends and readers on the Internet, an activity that is keeping me sane. This despite the constant interruptions and questions. He has delusions, too, hears imaginary voices and wonders if there are other people living in our house.

Then Howard cut himself somehow, just a scrape more than a deep cut. He didn't tell me. It went septic. Fortunately we do have good health care. They kept him in hospital for several days and cured the blood poisoning. But he came home terribly weak and more confused than ever.

Without help in the house I can't write. Just getting online is difficult. I have a new Deverry book started ­­ a whole 70 pages. Two months ago I had 50 pages. This pace is not me, but concentrating on fiction when someone needs your constant attention is pretty much impossible. In a way, I have a small child who remembers being a grown- up. It breaks my heart daily."

Right now Kit (who has chronic asthma and a heart condition) is the sole caregiver for Howard.

We have set up this fundraiser specifically to pay for care for Howard to allow her to write, either a health aide to come to the house or an adult day­care specifically designed for Alzheimer’s patients. She cannot afford this unless we help. We have set a basic goal of $12,000, which should give Kit 20 weeks of coverage. Any money raised over that amount will go for more of the same.
17 December 2014 23:51 - i was brave
jinian: (bachelor's button bud)
Sent mail to my mom today telling her all about my current health state (poor) and my surgery plans. I allowed as how she might have feelings about my fertility and requested that she process those with someone else, because otherwise I'll feel like she's saying I should continue to hurt all the time. I think it was a pretty good letter. Brave person is me.

Had pain bad enough tonight that I busted out an oxycodone from the first time I went to the ER. They still work! I became very silly on my chat with J and also I hurt a lot less. It made me consider, too, that I will be in WA and can use legal marijuana while there. Medication can help with pain! How revolutionary! Gets me that much closer to helpful surgery. And my old boss really liked the manuscript edits I made while on opiates that one time, so at least some forms of productivity may be open to me.

(You know, apart from crafting complex monster traps and catching a whole lot of familiars for my dragons.)
pantryslut: (Default)
Last week, you may recall, I finished up "Who We Be" by Jeff Chang while sitting in a hospital bed after having many, many pictures taken of my insides.

"Who We Be" addresses the subject of "the colorization of America," that is, the attempts to visually represent the U.S. in its true racially diverse state since the Civil Rights Movement. Chang concentrates on fine arts and advertising, probably because other areas (e.g. TV) have already been well-discussed elsewhere and the book is already pretty darn hefty. The chapters on "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" and The United Colors of Bennetton are fascinating and definitely a new spin on two much-discussed topics. But I was equally compelled by the fine arts discussions precisely because they are so under-examined in general, and that makes them compelling. He illuminates some fascinating moments in cultural history.

As I mentioned in passing a few weeks ago, it was a hard book to read while protests broke out all over the country. It was hard to read how many of the arguments we are having right now over race and representation are the same arguments we've been having for decades. The same defenses, particularly. You know how that goes. But I'm glad I persevered.

Like "The Gentrification of the Mind," this book helped me put a shape to an era of our history I have lived through and interacted with (Chang's "Can't Stop Won't Stop" did much the same thing) -- it helped me see a pattern in a jumble of my own lived experience, and filled in the voids of what I didn't know was happening or informing what was happening at the time. It's a great book. I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

Now I am about 3/4 through "Last of the Live Nude Girls," a memoir by Sheila McClear. I thought I was done reading sex worker memoirs after publishing "The XY Conspiracy," but McClear is from Michigan and she was working the peeps, not the strip clubs, and I don't know, I acquired a fondness for her Internet writing (she works for Gawker among others), and her book is a good read. Maybe not particularly enlightening to some of us, but pleasantly familiar and droll. I am enjoying it a lot.
17 December 2014 10:55 - working WITH the Man
metaphortunate: (Default)
I now live and work in such a way that I have little to no professional contact with men; I can go entire days without having to consider what a man — any man — thinks of my work.
See, that's what kills me about this The Toast/The Butter thing. Mallory Ortberg wrote that but it's not true. Nick Pavich is the guy running the money behind the site. She's hasn't escaped working for The Man.

That's why Roxane Gay has to post these humiliating tweets about how she's doing what she can.

Oh Mallory, you told us you were the Queen of Misandry but you were sitting on a throne of lies. ;___;

ETA: thanks [personal profile] kate_nepveu for pointing out that Ms. Ortberg is not working for Mr. Pavich: they are co-founders, with equal ownership in the company.

Still. When you're a business owner but you can't alter your contracts without a man's buy-in, it is not true that you've substantially escaped having to care about a man thinks of your work.
swan_tower: (Default)

Antelope Medallion
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Maybe it’s a gazelle? I don’t know; I can’t tell my ungulates apart. It’s some kind of four-legged creature with horns, and it is one of the countless animal figures adorning random bits of the Natural History Museum in London, aka the Victorian cathedral to St. Darwin.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

(Yesterday's post still has active deals on Fire TV, Avatar, Leapfrog stuff, and more; Monday's post has deals on Chromecast, Roku, PSTV, Kindle, and games and movies, while Sunday's short post has awesome deals on Arrow, the Mel Brooks Collection, Warehouse 13, British Mysteries, and classic shows including Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, and Naked City.)

The Deal of the Day is on assorted Greenies items at up to 60% off. Since Greenies are generally things our cats love but are too expensive, sales like this are really nice (I don't think we've had the chance to see how Nicky likes them, so they might also work for dogs. Of course, Nicky will eat nearly anything he finds on the ground, so it might not be as impressive.)

The second DotD is on assorted KitchenAid items for up to 50% off. The stuff here runs the gamut, from measuring cups to stand mixers. A lot of the lower-end items (the colander, the immersion blender) are well below other retailers. The stand mixers are, too, but are also refurbed, if that's a concern.

The Kindle Daily Deal will nab you either All the President's Men or Elizabeth Mitchell's Liberty's Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty for $1.99 each.

Also on Kindle, for fans of the Erin Hunter conglomerate's ever-growing empire of anthropomorphic animal series, Seekers: Return to the Wild #1: Island of Shadows is $1.99. I met 1/4 (at the time -- looks like they're up to six folks behind the pseudonym now) of Erin Hunter back at Readercon a few years back, and she seemed perfectly nice, but since my daughter went through a really heavy Warriors phase in middle school, I'm a little weary of the various books.

In toys, the Batman Classic TV Series Batmobile Vehicle is $24 (56% off).

If you're a fan of the MLP Equestria Girls stuff (and I actually enjoyed the first movie a lot more than I'd expected, although part of what made it interesting was the notion of it being very explicitly a one-shot AU, not a continuing thing), the My Little Pony Equestria Girls Rainbow Dash Doll is $4.69 (69% off; note that it's an add-on, so even with Prime, you'll need to buy more stuff to get the free shipping).

In video games, The Last of Us Remastered is $29.99 (40% off) for the PS4, while Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition for the PS4 is the same $29.99 (but 50% off), and $19.99 (50% off) for the Xbox 360.

Just Dance 2015 for the Wii U is $19.99 (50% off).

In movies, Pacific Rim and Gravity on Blu-Ray are $7.99 (60% off) each.

If you for some reason want the new version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or maybe have a relative who does), the 3D/Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital megapack is $27.99 (49% off), while the DVD is $11.99 (60% off).

And finally, for folks looking for a ginormous tv, the TCL 55FS4610R 55-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV with built-in Roku is $598 (12% off and about $85 off other deals).
16 December 2014 20:54 - why I am going to hell today
metaphortunate: (uncanny kubrick creamsicle)
Why I am going to hell:

The Junebug has a child's umbrella, and I have an adult umbrella, which is bigger when it's opened but folds twice so it's smaller when it's closed. Today the Junebug was crowing that his umbrella is the biggest, so I explained to him how my umbrella was a grower and his umbrella was a shower.
16 December 2014 21:02 - Three Weeks to Unbound
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

UnboundIt’s three weeks until Unbound [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound] comes out. This is the time I’d normally switch into higher gear with giveaways and other promotional stuff.

Unfortunately, my son’s cold is kicking my butt, and holiday preparation is eating up the remaining energy. So instead, I leave you with what could be considered a tantalizing hint, a piece of the research I did while writing the book, a glimpse into the inner workings of the culmination of three books!!!

Or maybe it’s just a random bit of letters and doodling I’m posting because I’m too brain-fuzzed to write a real blog post. Who knows?


This served as the model for one of the messages Isaac has to decipher. All I’ll tell you about it is that it’s from 983 A.D.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
Well, December started and then exploded, so my posting meme went a little sideways. Which is par for the course with the beginning of any month. Maybe this is part of adulthood? Expect to have a quiet month, but everything gets ruined by REALITY? Well, that's what January is for, I suppose!

[personal profile] spindizzy asked, "How is being a freelance editor/blogger/columnist working out for you? Did you ever see yourself doing this?"

This is timely because my latest Strange Horizons article, Communities: Sign Up Here, has gone live. I talk about the parts of fanwork exchange cultures I'm familiar with (mostly Yuletide based these days) and talk about some of my favorite notable exchanges. Exciting!

Writing nonfiction for money was never actually an intention, but it's been surprisingly educational (maybe a little too educational? Crying forever over September 2013.) over the last year and change. It's harder than it looks to be thorough but concise. The Curse of Knowledge has plagued me from the beginning, too. If you see a fan writer out in the mainstream writing about fandom, know they are working really hard to balance contextualizing fandom in a way that non-fandom people can actually get. I have it easy, too. Strange Horizons exists in an online space where I don't have to stretch as hard to explain some concepts because there's some overlap between science fiction fandom and fanwork fandom there.

It's been an adventure, however, I don't think I would want to write nonfiction as a career. I over think things too much! I'm not in a great mental space for the inevitable Internet shitstorms that come along, either, like when a senior editor of a publishing heavyweight decides he wants to throw the bulk of his social capital at you via Twitter for daring to have a different fannish experience than him. Nonfiction is stressful because it means setting down an opinion and sticking to that opinion, and I so often worry about being wrong, or finding new information that changes my mind, that I'll probably never excel at it. But it's fun to contribute to on a low key basis. And I've gotten to know so many great people, like [personal profile] coalescent, who has been incredibly important to my SF history education. :)

So it's been fun, but I'm not really educated on anything other than my fannish experience to do it for other things right now. More time to write about robot parrots??
16 December 2014 19:26 - Fantasy football: The elimination
From the Yahoo automatic recap:

"If [Adam's team] had played [the top seed] every week, they would be 5-9 this season."


"[Adam's team] ranked first in the league in points per game with 103.65."

So I guess that's consolation?

I could, theoretically, have made it closer if I'd started Golden Tate instead of Josh Gordon, Jordan Reed instead of Martellus Bennett, Vincent Jackson instead of Megatron (ha!), and Joe Flacco instead of Peyton (yeah, right), but even those bits of hindsight would have left me with a (closer) loss. The other team got huge performances from Beckham and Antonio Brown and the Baltimore defense, and just had my number this week. My offense, as has been often the case, was pretty much all about Foster and Bell.

Ah, well.

Side story: Junior year of high school, I qualified for the NY State debate championships, where I promptly went 0-4. And led the entire division in scoring (Lincoln-Douglas Debate in the '80s used a 0-30 point scale; I managed to lost big and lose close each time). Guess this is the fantasy football version of that.

Anyway, now I get to play for third place, for the second year in a row. I do appreciate how far I've gotten -- we've got a pretty parity-heavy league, with no team having fewer than four wins or losses.
16 December 2014 17:40 - the longer I use my Passport
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
The more hours the Device monitor says I have left...
16 December 2014 13:49 - Free Money! Cheap Books!
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
Via [personal profile] boundbooks, instructions for finding unclaimed funds in America. Turns out Blue Cross owed me $75.

Indie Australian sf/fantasy/YA author Andrea Host is putting all her books on sale for 99 cents until January 1.

If you have read any books by Andrea Host, please discuss in comments. Also let me know if you find any unclaimed funds!
sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
A public service announcement: my computer's keyboard has shorted out. Because the keyboard does not work, I have not yet determined if there is other damage. Until further notice, I do not have a computer. I have the loan of [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel's laptop for e-mail and Nokia, that I may remain employed, but everything else is right out. Fortunately, I have a recent backup. Unfortunately, I really can't do much about transferring it to this machine. It is my superstitious hope that Bertie Owen will prove amenable to light repair, because I cannot, literally cannot, afford to replace him right now. I am concerned.

I slept approximately an hour last night due to five o'clock shenanigans with cats, a securely closed door, a smashed glass, and being in the shower when I heard the unmistakable sound of breakage on hardwood (I woke Rob to help, I took a piece of glass out of my foot, I finished my shower, we cleaned up my office, I had a doctor's appointment at nine o'clock this morning), so I am going to lie down now. Then I have to work a lot. Anyway, if I'm not online much today or in days to come, that's why.

This year.
swan_tower: (Default)

Lights in the Darkness
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Okay, so it isn’t a menorah. (Actually, these candles are in Notre Dame, so really not Jewish.) But I love the image of little flames burning against the dark, and this is the most suitable picture I have to mark the beginning of Hanukkah. May those of you who celebrate it have a wonderful few days — and those of you who don’t celebrate it, too!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

16 December 2014 10:00 - Language
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

(Please support the DGC Thunderclap! We need 100 people to sign up to share the news on Dec 29th about the new ebook: http://thndr.it/1G7l4bZ)

So here’s a list of my least favorite things in the world: getting up early, talking to lawyers, and dressing up. Guess what I did the morning before Courtney and I left for New York? Yeah. Way to start the holidays, eh?

Courtney and I took the train to the city, though, which was nice.

Read the rest of this entry » )
(Yesterday's post has deals on Chromecast, Roku, PSTV, Kindle, and games and movies, while Sunday's short post has awesome deals on Arrow, the Mel Brooks Collection, Warehouse 13, British Mysteries, and classic shows including Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, and Naked City.)

I've got a busy day, but a few deals are worth mentioning.

First, the DotD is on Board Games! Good ones, like Zoolereto, 7 Wonders, Takenoko, Munchkin, Dominion, Five Crowns, Love Letter, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Ticket to Ride, Acquire, and more! All are 40-62% off, and ridiculously cheap (Dominion and TTR under $20 is something you just don't see.

And the video game DotD is on Destiny for $29.99 (50% off) for the PS4 or XBone.

There's a DotD on Logitech devices (mainly keyboards and mice, but also some speakers and other accessories), with discounts ranging from 33-74% off.

And a fourth DotD offers V-MODA M-80 Headphones for $79.99 (65% off, about $30 off other deals).

And the free Android App of the Day is Songsterrr, which a lot of folks needing chords and tabs on the go really like.

Other deals include LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 for the Wii for $7.99 (60% off), and it includes the DVD of the first movie. I actually prefer the LEGO games before they added voice actors, and this is one of the last games in the series to do that.

In movies, the three-disc extended edition of Avatar on DVD is $10 (71% off).

In electronics, the Amazon Fire TV is $79 (20% off), joining the Chormecast and Roku deals from earlier.

And finally, for kids, the LeapFrog LeapReader Reading and Writing System is $34.99 (30% off, about $10 off other deals), and the LeapFrog LeapReader Learn to Read, Volume 1 set that works with it is $9 (55% off, also about $10 off other deals).
16 December 2014 03:22 - goth of sex
metaphortunate: (Default)
But tonight I'm not up with the baby! Tonight the baby's sleeping peacefully!

Tonight I'm up with a racking chest cough that's making it impossible to sleep! Isn't that funny? Isn't life funny? LAUGH YOU BASTARDS.


Hey, I've figured out what it is about Lana del Rey. She's like a goth, but just for heterosexuality!

You know how goths look at life and go "The thing about this is: death, decay, corruption, pain, despair, and also vampires. Let's have a bunch of songs called things like "This Corrosion" and "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and "Dead Stars" and "Stigmata Martyr" and "Now I'm Feeling Zombified". And we'll make them cool and fun and sexy!"?

Well, Lana del Rey looks at heterosexuality and goes, "The thing about this is: infidelity, exploitation, prostitution, domestic violence and statutory (maybe) rape! Let's have a bunch of songs about all of that! And I'll make them cool and fun and sexy!"

It kind of works, too.
16 December 2014 00:46 - IT. BEGINS.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Save the Date! FASS 2015 is coming, and it’s coming FASS.
Come join us as one of our esteemed audience members. We need you, otherwise a show is really just a rehearsal.

Show Dates:
Thursday, February 5th 8PM
Friday, February 6th 7PM
Friday, February 6th 10:30PM*
Saturday, February 7th 6PM

More information about the show, how to get tickets, and who you’ll be watching to come soon.

*The Friday 10:30PM show encourages audience participation. Not for the faint of heart!

What is FASS?

FASS (short for Faculty, Alumni, Staff, and Students) is an amateur theatre company at the University of Waterloo. Originally started as a variety show in 1962, FASS predates many of the modern organizations on campus, including the Federation of Students. In its current form, every year FASS produces an original script for its annual show in February.
16 December 2014 00:22 - Jennifer R. Pournelle reports
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
That her father Jerry Pournelle had a stroke today. No information beyond that.
15 December 2014 21:50 - question for horror writers
yhlee: (AtS no angel (credit: <user name="helloi)
I'm in the home stretch of writing a novel that has large doses of grimdark. But its very grimdarkness makes me feel like I need coping mechanisms for dealing with the grimdark things in it.

I think maybe Joe was right when he said it's inherent to the nature of the setting. The killer thing is that the next one I came up with that I was at all enthusiastic about writing in was even nastier, which impressed him.

Horror writers, if any of you are lurking hereabouts, do you have particular coping mechanisms for writing about horrible things? Or are coping mechanisms things you don't need? Is the writing the coping mechanism? I'm not a horror writer (although I like to read in the genre from time to time) so I honestly don't know. Pointers?
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
Ghost Signs is no longer forthcoming from Aqueduct Press.

It is now available for purchase.

My first collection since 2011, now out in print and e-book. I will have copies on me at Arisia in January. Or you can click on the links above and read it before then. You can even ask someone else to click on them for you. There is a holiday season first.

This weekend is the solstice: going down into the dark and returning. The next few days are the darkest of the year. Here is where the poems that became Ghost Signs started, in the underworld; it is very fitting that they should come out as a book now. The dead are still speaking. The darkness is real. The light comes back.
swan_tower: (Default)

Stairway to the Temple
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

I mentioned earlier this year that you have to walk barefoot up to Sravanabelagola, the Jain temple we visited in southern India. This is what the staircase looks like: steps carved into the enormous barren rock on which the temple itself stands. They bake in the sun, and therefore bake your feet, which is possibly part of the reason you’re supposed to walk there barefoot — I don’t know for sure.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

15 December 2014 14:09 - New NBC Sitcoms
One of the things that's frustrated me over the last few years of Network TV viewing has been watching sitcoms that are unbelievably mediocre thrive while genuinely funny shows vanish. TV seems to have been better for drama in recent years, but every hit sitcom seems to be some CBS or Fox show with a laugh track and so few genuinely funny moments that even the trailers are unwatchable (I'm looking at you, Two Broke Girls). Meanwhile, shows like The Crazy Ones and Happy Endings that I genuinely find amusing and, even more unusually for a sitcom, smart, get yanked.

I know, different strokes for different folks (as opposed to Diff'rent Strokes for different folks). Clearly, folks like Two and a Half Men or Mom or whatnot, and ratings, not quality, are what matter. But it's still depressing. I've been trying to take a Britcom approach, noting that I've gotten more episodes of Happy Endings than I did, say, The IT Crowd, but it doesn't always work.

Anyway, two more shows are coming to an end (with about four episodes remaining of each).

Bad Judge never really aspired to anything more than goofiness, and is the second consecutive show with "Bad" in the title and Ryan Hansen in the cast to get the axe (after last spring's Bad Teacher). Like the previous show, this is a much cuter show than expected. It's actually closer to Night Court than anything else -- a goofy judge who has a lot of sympathy for the people in her courtroom, a snarky prosecutor, some over the top moments. But Kate Walsh is outstanding in the lead, showing comedy chops I didn't realize she had, and there was some really good chemistry and humor here. The entire cast is solid, and while the show might not be groundbreaking, it's entertaining enough to have had the potential to be comedy comfort food.

A to Z is a more ambitious show. It's the story of the nine-month relationship between a couple, from meet-cute to the end (although we won't get the latter, of course). It's narrated by Katey Segal, and stars Christina Milioti (the Mother of HIMYM fame). It's a nice mix of sweetness in terms of the relationship, and zaniness for the workplace comedy elements (supporting cast members Hong Chau, Parvesh Cheena, and Christina Kirk often steal the show). It's got plenty of goofball moments, but also a good female lead (Milioti's co-lead, alas, is Generic Male Who Isn't Josh Radnor But Might as Well Be, although to be fair, he might just be written that way), and some really witty writing. Of course, I don't know what the plans would have been for season 2 (although I suppose they could have declared "getting engaged" as the new season 2, or done a breakup that led to them getting back together). It's far from perfect, but I've yet to dislike an episode.

That leaves Marry Me as the only NBC sitcom (and only new sitcom) I'm still watching (until Parks and Rec returns). The pilot was wretched, but the show has picked up, essentially turning into Happy Endings 2, which is fine by me. I adore Casey Wilson and Ken Marino, and the rest of the cast compliments them nicely. It's also doing poorly in the ratings, alas, so might be in trouble (although I suspect it's got a decent shot at one full season, if only because NBC's running out of shows). Still, well worth watching, if only for episodes devoted to Flemish pride, or one of the best Die Hard references I've seen.
15 December 2014 13:35 - This will be another week
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Where sponsored reviews win out over my themes.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

PO Box 1693
Dubuque, IA 52004-1693

info@speculativeliterature.org - http://www.speculativeliterature.org/

For Immediate Release:

The Speculative Literature Foundation is pleased to announce the
application period for our second annual Working Class/Impoverished Writers
Grant is now open.

Applications for the Working Class/Impoverished Writers Grant will be
accepted from December 1, 2014 until February 28, 2015. The winner for the
grant is expected to be announced by April 15, 2015. Read more... )
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Jerry Pournelle on the Dean Drive,

A former Peenemunde rocket scientist associate of mine (this was all in the 1950's) said that some charlatan had built a gadget that sounded a lot like this thing in that it would climb a string and rock like a pendulum, but it was in fact taking advantage of Newton's 3rd law (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction), not overcoming it. Hitler had been impressed and ordered an investigation, but nothing came of it. Alas, my German associate never saw the Dean Drive. In fact, the late Harry Stine is one of the only two people I ever met who HAD seen it, the other being the late John W. Campbell, Jr.


Anyway, nothing came of it all. If it worked I never saw it work, and neither did the 3M team. The original device as described by Campbell and Stine was never found after Dean died, and the thing described in the patent doesn't work and isn't, according to Stine, what Dean showed as a working device.

My own conclusion is that the thing didn't work. It would sit on a scale and vibrate enough that it appeared to lose weight, but that has to do with pendular motion and resonance with the scale springs. The same kind of thing will climb a string. It seems to lose weight, but it doesn't. I think Dean built the same gidget that excited Hitler, although I doubt that Dean ever knew of the earlier device.

What? Not every time I link to JEP is going to be negative.

On a related note, I own this collection of essays, if anyone wants a review of it.

(Added later)

Jennifer R. Pournelle reports that her father had a stroke today.

ceciliatan: (default)

Arisia_logoThis year’s Arisia is once again shaping up to be tons of geeky, sexy fun–which is pretty much what this con has been about for over two decades! Last year Arisia was so popular they SOLD OUT, so if you’re planning to go, I strongly suggest pre-registration. I know a fair number of folks who ended up just meeting up for meals in the hotel’s bars and restaurants since they couldn’t get in elsewhere! (The con is January 16-19 at the Westin Waterfront in Boston. Rate is $55 now, goes up to $65 on Jan 1st. Friday only passes are $20 IF THE CON ISN’T SOLD OUT.)

Here’s what I’ll have going on.

FRIDAY 7pm to 11:15pm (Party Room TBA): Circlet Press Erotic SF/Fantasy Book Party
Our traditional gathering to munch on snacks while schmoozing with various Circlet Press editors and authors! Free ebook of choice to first 25 guests to arrive! Come peruse our smorgasbord of smutty science fiction and fantasy novels and anthologies. What’s your kink: elves, transhumanism, dragons, artificial intelligence, steampunk, vampires, etc…? Chances are we’ve got something for you.

This year it’ll be me, Jennifer Williams, and Connie Wilkins! I don’t usually plan in advance what story, genre, or sexuality type I’m going to read. But maaaaybe this year I’ll put up a poll just to see. Since it’s a group reading I’ll only have time to read 1-2 short pieces, so maybe I’ll let you guys vote in advance.

For once I will get to nerd out about something besides sex, BDSM, or erotica! (Or Harry Potter!) Who knows? Maybe I’ll even make something that can be handed out at the panel using mad science skillz.

The now-traditional annual party for all Potterheads. Wands required for entry. (Muggles welcome if they can convince a witch or wizard to get them through the door…)

I will be on this panel about What Not To Do when one submits a manuscript with an awesome passel of female editors. Check out this all-star lineup: Genevieve Iseult Eldredge (moderator), Joy Marchand, Joy Crelin, Innana Arthen, Hildy Silverman, and me.

For more info about Arisia, or to register for the con: http://www.arisia.org/

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

15 December 2014 15:05 - Winsome, Losesome
ailbhe: (Default)
I have been getting out a bit more and doing a bit less when I do, so I haven't had any huge setbacks, so that's good. But I have a horrible headcold, bad enough that Rob's taken the day off work so I can try to recover a bit.

I've been watching Doctor Who on Netflix because I can't read books any more. Most of it I haven't seen before. It's nice and lightweight, generally, but sometimes infuriatingly bad.

Christmas is under control; the food is ordered, the gifts are mostly bought, the tree is up, we just need to send the cards.
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

I’m falling behind in my book reviewing, so I’m going to cram a few together in one blog post.

Ex-Heroes CoverBook the first: Ex-Heroes [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound], by Peter Clines. This is basically a post-apocalyptic zombie book with superheroes, which is an interesting premise. As powerful as the heroes are, they’re not invulnerable, and they’re vastly outnumbered. They’ve established a stronghold called The Mount, in the ruins of Hollywood, where they scavenge for supplies and do their best to protect their citizens from the exes (ex-humans), as well as a street gang that’s discovered some powers of their own.

Clines hits a lot of the expected beats for a zombie story, including flashbacks to the beginning of the disaster, various scenes of humans being trapped by exes, and the terror of the endless sea of undead at the gates. I appreciated that there was at least one twist that I didn’t see coming. (And it has a blurb from Nathan Fillion, which is both cool and incredibly envy-making.)

I’d recommend this one to fans of zombies and Watchmen.


The Slow Regard of Silent Things - CoverBook the second: The Slow Regard of Silent Things [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound], by Patrick Rothfuss. Pat writes an interesting introduction to this novella (novelette?), in which he warns people, “You might not want to buy this book … it doesn’t do a lot of the things a classic story is supposed to do.”

More than anything, this struck me as a character study. Auri is a secondary character in Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles. In this book, we follow a week in Auri’s life.

Depending on how you read it, there isn’t a lot happening in this book. Auri lives beneath the university, a world of empty caves and tunnels and pipes and ponds and abandoned rooms. In some respects, she reminds me a bit of Luna Lovegood, a character who sees the world in a very different and odd way. But in Auri’s case, you get hints of her past, of someone who was broken and rebuilt herself and her world.

If you’re looking for a strong plot, or for a story that has an impact on the greater world, you should probably skip this one. Auri spends her days exploring, finding lost objects and putting them in their proper places, exploring different rooms, and searching for the right gift for him.

The writing is gorgeous, and I was fascinated by Auri’s character, who seems to walk a very thin line between beauty and crippling OCD. My only complaint is that I wish she wasn’t so fixated on him (Kvothe, from Rothfuss’ novels). I understand that this is in keeping with the books, but it frustrates me to read such a beautifully written woman whose existence revolves around a guy. I’ve just been reading too much of that sort of thing lately.

That said, it’s a beautifully written story, though it won’t work for everyone. It inspired me to try some new things with my own writing and characters.


Hounded - CoverBook the third: Hounded [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound], by Kevin Hearne.

This is book one of Hearne’s popular Iron Druid chronicles, and I can see why he’s done so well with it. It’s page-turning fun, with a 2000+ year old druid called Atticus O’Sullvain living in Arizona with a delightful Irish wolfhound. For a long time, he’s been hiding from a very angry god who wants a sword Atticus stole centuries ago.

Lots of action, a good helping of snark, and entertaining, larger-than-life characters, from the werewolf and vampire legal team to the possessed bartender to the Irish widow Atticus hangs out with, swapping Irish tales.

There’s also a bit of hetero-male wish-fulfillment going on, with several beautiful and powerful women who all want to sleep with Atticus. On the other hand, Hearne presents a range of female characters, all with their own strengths.

In sum, a fun and entertaining read.


So, that’s some of my recent reading. Any of these three strike you as interesting? Or if you’ve read them, feel free to share your thoughts.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Yesterday's short post does have awesome deals on Arrow, the Mel Brooks Collection, Warehouse 13, British Mysteries, and classic shows including Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, and Naked City.

(BTW, I sort of take it for granted, but Amazon Prime makes any of these deals better, as it gets you the free two-day shipping even on orders under $35, as well as a ton of good movies to watch and music to listen to on demand. It's also really good around holiday time, since you can use the free shipping for gifts to anywhere, and they also charge only $5 per item for overnight, in case you end up late with a gift.)

The big daily deal is $125 off the various Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" Tablets. This is the third (previous) generation, but they're still pretty powerful, and they're now going for $224-339.

The Book Daily Deal is on Inside HBO's Game of Thrones: The Collector's Edition for $24.99 (83% off). This is the ridiculous collector's edition with the clamshell case, the scrolls, the padded cover, etc.

Other daily deals include heavily-discounted Celestron Telescopes (I suspect the $49.99 one is more tempting than the $499 one), a Black & Decker LD120VA 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver with 30 Accessories for $49.99 (49% off), Kindle Daily Deals that include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for $1.99, and Assassin's Creed: Unity for $29.99 (50% off) for PS4, Xbone, or PC.

Also cheap in games: Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for $19.99 (50% off) for PS4/Xbone.

For the PS4 only, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is $9.99 (50% off), and Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition is $12.99 (35% off), a rare videogame deal leftover from last week.

And the PlayStation TV is $69.99 (13% off), and a nice option to play a bunch of Vita games on your TV.

For other TV boxes, the Roku Stick is $39.97 (20% off). I do love my Roku stick, although we probably use our Chromecast ($29.99, 14% off) a little more, since streaming local video to the TV is a big thing for us. Note that the Chromecast also comes with $20 of free Google Play movies right now. And that activating the Google Play channel on your Roku stick gets you X-Men for free. It's a weird entertainment ecosystem these days.

For other electronics, you can nab the basic Kindle and 6 months of Kindle Unlimited for $89 (35% off). Unlimited includes free access to thousands of books.

In kitchen goods, the SodaStream Fountain Jet Home Soda Maker Starter Kit has dropped even further, down to $29.99 (70% off).

The Brita Atlantis Water Filter Pitcher is $23.99 (46% off, and $5 off other deals), but also has a $2 coupon on the page, taking the total down to $21.99.

In movies, The LEGO Movie is $14.99 (58% off) on Blu-Ray/DVD.

The Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital pack of Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition is $18.99 (49% off). That's the exact same price and discount for the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital pack of Maleficent.

The Blu-Ray/Digital pack of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is $11.99 (70% off).

In toys, the Disney Princess Glitter Glider Castle Playset is $26.99 (33% off, $13 below other sellers).

In toy/book crossovers, LEGO Legends of Chima: Wolves and Crocodiles is $3.23 (64% off), and comes with a MiniFigure.

The DK Ultimate Sticker Book: Frozen is $4.19 (40% off).

From America's Test Kitchen, The Science of Good Cooking is $18.83 (53% off).

And finally, National Book Award Nominee and Mountain Goat spinoff Wolf in White Van: A Novel is $13.25 (45% off), which is basically the paperback price, but a year before the PB gets released.
14 December 2014 22:39 - ink
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
Daily ink dose:

Sailor Jentle Yama-dori, sample courtesy of the generous [personal profile] daidoji_gisei. Attractive blue-teal. Used in a charcoal Lamy Safari F from Nancy (same).

Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-kai, bottle courtesy of [personal profile] storme A lovely blue-black, a color I hadn't realized I could find so restful. Used in my Pelikan M200 with a Binder artist's nib altered for extra flex. Can get interesting sketch results out of this, with a light hand.

Maybe if I finish the space opera, I will reward myself with Ink Drop. Cheerful random samples of ink are about my speed right now.
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