a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
majes: (spirituality)
Recounting my last day at Twilight Covening this year, when the focus was on Earth.

Over so soon )

Twilight Covening 6 - a good use of my time, energy, and money. I'm glad I went, and I look forward to what is to come.
20 October 2016 14:57 - a couple requests
yhlee: chessmaster (chess pieces) (chessmaster)
1. Is anyone willing to make me an icon with a pretty moth Photoshopped against a backdrop of stars/nebulae stuff? Because Kujen.

2. I am looking into getting into target archery, preferably with a recurve because the deerhunter compound bows that seem to be all the rage in Louisiana terrify me. (Seriously, I saw one that looked like it had a chance of stopping a rhino. Uh, I don't know if that's actually possible, but...) I plan on stopping by stores and getting help, but what are things I need to know when equipment-shopping? I've done only a little archery in college, but Joe did it a reasonable amount, so I will have some guidance, but the more the better.

In exchange for help, I am willing to offer flashfic to mutually agreed prompt or hexarchate crackfic [1].

[1] I'd offer realfic, except I sort of owe Solaris a hexarchate short story collection. So any realfic has to go there, and I can only do crackfic for things like this.

Okay, back to working on Revenant Gun...
20 October 2016 11:04 - [hxx] [crackfic] Student Government
yhlee: Shuos Jedao (Hellspin Fortress) (hxx Jedao 1x10^6)
What can I say, this is my way of coping.

Rated Teen. Content note: hexarchate high school AU.

Student Government

Cheris looked around at the voting booths in the school courtyard, which were surrounded by velvety energy fields that flickered in the shapes of hungry moths, and shuddered. "For serious," she said, "why are we trying to pick a class president by voting?" She was hanging out with the other Kel. The Kel believed in safety in numbers. Plus, formation instinct. "Hasn't anyone around here heard of the impossibility theorem?" [1]

Kel Inesser, who was the oldest Kel present and stood to Cheris's right, looked at her and sighed. "You're trying to make a rational argument, Cheris," she said. "We're Kel. We don't do that."

"Well, someone has to," she said.

"No, you're stuck appealing to whoever has seniority," Kel Brezan said. He had his arms crossed and was glaring across the courtyard to the tree beneath which a certain couple was making out. "Just our luck, he's not even a Kel."

"Well, at least he didn't tell us how to vote," Cheris said, although she wasn't sure how she felt about Shuos Jedao herself. "There are enough of us to make for a decent voting bloc."

"Jedao's too busy screwing Kujen to care about political stuff," Brezan said. Jedao was kissing Kujen; Kujen was not being particularly discreet about the placement of his hands.

"Somebody's bitter," Inesser murmured, eyebrows lifting, but Brezan didn't hear him.

"I hate jocks," Brezan said.

Cheris snorted. "We're Kel," she said, "we're all jocks."

"Says the math geek."

"All right," Inesser said, "knock it off, you two."

Brezan and Cheris glowered at each other, then subsided.


On the other side of the courtyard, Shuos Mikodez was playing pattern-stones against Shuos Zehun. Zehun was older than he was, and had the astonishing ability to lose no matter how badly their opponent played. Mikodez was still trying to figure out how they did it.
"What's the count?" Mikodez asked.

"It's going to be close," Zehun said, plunking a black stone down with artful carelessness. "That Liozh girl is making a good showing, but Andan Zhe Navo is going to make her work for it."

"Well, yes," Mikodez said. The Andan were always popular. Mikodez made the worst move he could think of.

Astonishingly, Zehun had an anti-counter even for that. "So what are you going to do about Jedao?" Zehun asked.

"Why do I have to do anything about him?" Mikodez said, glancing over to where Jedao and Kujen were having a discussion about...he couldn't have heard that right. Cradles? "He wants to hang out with the Kel, he can hang out with the Kel."

"He can't be up to anything good. And he's in bed with a Nirai."

"Yes," Mikodez said, amused, "I'm sure Kujen is very good at tutoring. Because it's not like Shuos courses on seduction are any good. Anyway, I am more concerned that we are going to be accused of having rigged the vote no matter how it comes out. I honestly think you should have let me rig it for real if we were going to be accused anyway, so that at least we'd get something out of the mess."

"We shouldn't have let Zai propose doing it by vote to begin with," Zehun said in a resigned voice. They had not yet lost the game; that was the other thing. Zehun could drag out bad positions for ages. "Oh well, too late now."


Under the tree, Jedao and Kujen were having a heated political discussion. "--should have told the Kel to vote for Zai," Kujen was saying into Jedao's ear. "I've flirted with her. She's really easy to manipulate and that sort of thing is useful."

"That's not remotely ethical," Jedao said. He pushed Kujen against the tree and kissed his way along Kujen's jaw.

"Oh my God, you're still on about that?" Kujen said. His voice was only slightly husky. "We have got to do something about that one-track mind of yours."

"Funny," Jedao said, "that wasn't what you were saying last night."

"I have to dial up Khiaz and compare notes with her. Maybe she'll have useful tips."

"Now you're just changing the subject."

"Admit it, she's hot."

Jedao rolled his eyes. "We broke up, okay? And you're still changing the subject. Although I take your point that having the Kel monitor voting would probably have looked too much like voter intimidation."

"I don't know why you think anyone should care about stuff like that," Kujen said. "Bribe them, intimidate them, brainwash them, you do what's necessary."

"Kujen," Jedao said, "you have the prettiest eyes ever but sometimes you're just wrong."

"Nonsense," Kujen said, "I'm never wrong. Besides, you're the one who's all about this mythical dream
ideal student government. Which you are only going to get through the intervention of benevolent all-powerful robots. Me, I just want pretty clothes, mind-blowing sex, and a chance to design weapons of mass destruction. I can already tell you that one of us is going to get what he wants, and it's not you."

Jedao narrowed his eyes at Kujen. "We'll see how the results come out."

"You're so naive, Jedao," Kujen said. "Everyone's going on about how the Shuos will rig the whole thing, but I designed the voting machines, remember?"

[1] Arrow's paradox [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy], or alternately, Arrow's impossibility theorem.
20 October 2016 09:00 - Free Fallin’
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

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

That phrase of Ziggy’s rattled around in my head to the point where I had to write it down as a song lyric because it had a kind of bluesy rhythm to it: “Nothing that time won’t fix.” Downbeat on “time” is the three. You hear it? One-and-nothing that TIME won’t fix.

Thing is, I didn’t believe for a second that what he wanted time to fix was just me getting off the road with Nomad and onto the road with him. But I was used to Ziggy saying things that had multiple meanings. I’d come to realize that wasn’t him lying so much as his truth: there’s always more than one thing going on. Sometimes the multiple things going on were all in his head, and sometimes they were futures that wouldn’t all come to pass, and sometimes they were based on possible interpretations of the past that hadn’t yet shaken out.

If I thought like that, I’d go crazy. I’d spend way too much time worrying about whether my personhood was valid in the shifting realities around me.

Read the rest of this entry » )
20 October 2016 08:36 - a scientist is not always fine
jinian: (lost sakura)
I keep not posting, because I don't want to just say that I'm still not okay.

Stuff is hard. Someone on Twitter was asking people to say nice things that had happened to them this year, and, welp. I have accomplished some stuff that I worked hard on, but the good things that happen are along the lines of "this thing I worked hard on didn't unexpectedly fail anyway."

The cats are doing all right for being eighteen and a half. I'm enjoying teaching, though it's tiring. I've set up an online store for my pottery, and intend to add more items than one at some point. There's slightly more of a possibility of getting the permanent job I want, since it's on an org chart now. New roommate and I are pretty compatible. I should be able to start allergy shots next month, and the foot that failed catastrophically for no reason is seeming some better. I mostly don't feel scared when I go out. When my computer died I was able to afford a new one.

This is all not as bad as it could be. But I'm not actually okay. I'm not sure I'm going to be.
19 October 2016 17:20 - baby!
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
Ruth, Rax, and I welcome Sebastian Reynard, 9:14 AM, Sunday, October 16th.

Forty-one weeks six days, so, unsurprisingly, a large child. Nearly ten pounds, thirty-seven centimeters head circumference (no, I don't know why we were given measurements in pounds and centimeters). Unassisted and unmedicated non-C-section delivery, which was not fun for anybody, but there were no complications and Ruth is recovering just fine.

Sebastian has some medical stuff ongoing, which is why we haven't gotten to social media much yet before this. We're not terribly worried, but it is taking energy and time and there is some worry.

He has, at the moment, blondish hair the color of his mother's, bluish-hazelish eyes the color of his mother's, and his mother's nose, though of course no idea if any of that will change. When he was put on Ruth's chest initially, and they leaned down and said 'Hiiiiiii!', he vocalized (totally accidentally, but adorably) 'Hiiiiii' right back. He is an interactive baby who wants people around and likes cuddling.

All three of his parents are delighted. I have decided on my Halloween costume this year: I can just wander across a room and call myself "The Walking Dad".
sovay: (Rotwang)
Delightful surprise of the week: visiting the brick-and-mortar office of Červená Barva Press in the basement of the Somerville Armory and discovering that not only do they sell their own books, like the chapbook of Aleksei Kruchonykh's libretto for the Futurist opera Victory Over the Sun (1913, trans. Larissa Shmailo 1980/2014) I had originally contacted the publisher about, they are a really lovely tiny used book store. My mother left with Gene Stratton-Porter's The Harvester (1911), Inez Haynes Irwin's Maida's Little School (1926), and Frances Hodgson Burnett's Robin (1922), all first editions—jacketless, but in otherwise quite respectable condition; the first two are books from her childhood and the third neither of us had ever heard of, so fingers crossed it's not terrible. I walked out with Barbara Helfgott Hyett's In Evidence: Poems of the Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps (1986) and the Signet paperback of Mickey Spillane's Kiss Me, Deadly (1952), which I did not buy solely for its cover, but you must admit it helps. I am enjoying Victory Over the Sun. [personal profile] skygiants showed me the first three episodes of Underground (2016–) last night and I want a soundtrack album. I have returned unhappily to a state of not so much sleeping, but being awake is always better with good art.
19 October 2016 11:22 - Twilight Covening 6: Moondancer
majes: (spirituality)
Post 4 is my series about my 2016 Twilight Covening experience. In this post, I talk about the visioning ritual, the big event of the weekend that generally draws together the overall themes of this year's gathering.

A spiritual walk in the woods )

Likely, only one more post to go!
19 October 2016 15:42 - Updatery of the Week
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Two good things have happened this week.

  1. After a month, the place trying to pull data off my old hard drive finally finished and got that back to me.
  2. My agent emailed with some minor notes on my middle grade novel. It sounds like once I go through these, we should (hopefully) be able to start submitting it to publishers.

Of course, there are down sides. With the hard drive, I’d had most of my stuff backed up already. Most…but not all. So I’ve been going through all of the files and partial files they salvaged, trying to make sure I’ve got everything. Probably 90% of what’s on this backup drive is redundant, but I’m paranoid. So I’m trying to manage how much time I spend on that.

And before you ask or offer suggestions, yes, I’m modifying my backup processes accordingly.

I’m really excited about the middle grade novel, but I also have another novel deadline coming up. I’m going to try to keep my head down and see if I can get all of the agent’s notes addressed today so I can get this off my pile and back onto his, which would let me focus all most of my attention on the remaining book.

And that’s why I’m keeping this short, because there’s a bunch of other stuff I’d love to babble about, but right now I need to focus on making some novel progress.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

19 October 2016 08:32 - Paula Anne
wcg: (Default)
Left us on this day four years ago.

rachelmanija: (Books: old)
A Heinlein juvenile about a family that joins a colony terraforming Ganymede. I read it as a kid, but didn’t remember much. Continuing my theme of surprise!grimdark, I thought it would be a charming tale of explorer spirit and space farming, and it turned out to be awesomely depressing despite a pasted on yay semi-upbeat conclusion. That is not the normal tone of a Heinlein juvenile, which could have dark aspects but were overall optimistic. It also has my least favorite of Heinlein’s juvenile heroes, Bill. He’s clearly meant to have flaws and learn to be better, but I really disliked him for a good 80% of the book.

Bill, an Eagle Scout, lives with his father after their mother’s death in a glum dystopian Earth with food rationing and few opportunities. (It does have microwave dinners, though – good prediction, Heinlein!) Due to being bad tempered and insecure in that awful teenage way that manifests in constantly trying to prove himself and thinking he’s better than everyone, he doesn’t play well with others. Also, he despises girls and women. The misogyny is partly a sign of the times thing and partly a character trait that he’ll mostly get over, but it’s really grating.

He begs his father to let him go be a colonist and farmer on Ganymede, and is pleased when his dad, after testing him to see if he’ll flip out if his father goes without him, tells him they’re going. But first he has to get married! Right now! To a woman Bill barely knows, with a daughter he’s never met before!

You can see where Bill gets his interpersonal skills.

Bill sulks, is mean to the daughter (Peggy, who is younger than him and clearly adores him), and refuses to go to the wedding. Nevertheless, they embark. The space voyage involves Bill running a scout troop, learning to be slightly less of a colossal jerkwad, and saving a bunch of lives by plugging a hole in the ship with his precious scout uniform after a meteorite strike. There are also multiple pages of math and physics explaining… stuff. I skipped those.

At Ganymede, the colonists find that they have been victims of a bait and switch: the farms they were promised are not available and won’t be for years, and the existing colonists don’t want them. It’s hard or impossible to go back, and conditions suck. Poor Peggy can’t adjust to the low air pressure and has to be lodged in a special pressurized room for as long as they’re there. This is super depressing, but the gloom lets up a bit when Bill sharecrops for a nice family who has successfully farmed, and the family eventually gets a farm of their own though Peggy is still stuck in her room and can only leave it in a bubble stretcher.

The farming part is unusual. Due to the expense of transporting mass, there’s very little equipment and farmers need to pulverize rock into dust, then mix it with bacteria to create dirt. It’s backbreaking labor, and that’s most of the farming we see. I was a disappointed, as I wanted more “Little House on Ganymede” details, Bill learning about cows when he’s never seen one before, etc, but most of what we get is pulverizing rock.

And then! Depressing spoilers! Read more... )
18 October 2016 20:55 - reading!
pantryslut: (Default)
I am reading the kids The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, because it looked like fun -- the Bland sisters, Kale and Jaundice, are kidnapped by pirates, hijinks ensue. It's the first in a series of middle-grade books clearly modeled on A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, etc. etc. But, you know, free ARC (which means unfinished art, boo), of short length, what the heck.

I didn't anticipate the sneaky humor that I am having to attempt to explain, with extra-entertaining results. Some of it is just dumb, like the fact that the Bland sisters' parents are marooned on Gilly Gun Island. Ho Ho. But some of it is a little more eyebrow-raising. I didn't think much of the pirate ship with an all-woman crew being named the Jolly Regina until they ran into a more traditional, all-male pirate ship called the Testostero. Then I cracked up. "What's so funny, Mama?" I don't think my explanation made any sense to them, but I did my best.
18 October 2016 21:43 - Inktober #18
yhlee: sleepy kitty (Cloud)
Windowsill kitty!

Pen: Platinum brush pen, synthetic bristles.
Ink: Platinum black.
sovay: (I Claudius)
Warning: juvenilia ahoy.

Ten years ago, I discovered a cache of printouts of unfinished middle and high school stories. Re-reading them was an amazing refresher course on the state of my id aged twelve to sixteen. I didn't think any of them existed in electronic form anymore, at least not on a machine I had access to; I didn't get a computer of my own until I left for college.

I just found one on my hard drive. I can't be sure it's the same version as the printout, but it is definitely the same story: I described it to [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving as "the purest high school Babylon 5/I, Claudius juvenilia imaginable." Like, there are some lines in here I am letting stand for the sake of the historical record, but I was barely bothering to file the serial numbers off. Looking at it by daylight, there may be some badly ripped-off McKillip or Hodgell in here as well. From source materials, my best guess for my age at the time is sixteen. It's all fragments of scenes. I have no idea how it was supposed to end. I had no style to speak of; I had not yet figured out how to create convincing fictional names, never mind governmental systems; I really wanted to write emotionally-politically complex science fantasy and I had no talent for any of these attributes. I wrote a story when I was thirteen that is much, much better. I still think it's neat that this one survives. It was very obviously written by me.

The revolutionaries marched through the capital on the first day of the new year. )

What's really interesting to me all these years later is not just that I can see what went into this story (because it's screaming at me), but that I can see in my published fiction since some of the same ideas or emotions I was trying to get at with these fragments. I wasn't conscious of revisiting anything. I managed to forget twice in twenty years that this file even existed. Some part of my brain just kept trying to get something tricky right. Spoiler: it wasn't the complex science fantasy politics. But I think "The Boatman's Cure" has a lot more to do with these idtastic eight thousand words than I would have said if you'd asked me a week ago.
18 October 2016 13:20 - Twilight Covening 6: Running Free
majes: (Default)
This is my third post about this year's Twilight Covening. Already, I am so immersed in life that it feels like something that happened two months ago rather than the weekend before last. Hopefully, doing this work will help me get it back into my head.

A day of Water )

Next up: The visioning ritual for this year's Twilight Covening.
18 October 2016 10:02 - Dice Tales Takes Over the Internet!
swan_tower: (gaming)

Well, one corner of it, at least.

In addition to this week’s regularly scheduled post — “Game Hangover,” on the ways that playing in or running a game can leave you drained afterward — I also have a related post up on Tor.com. Though it isn’t explicitly labeled as a Dice Tales entry, “How Your Role-Playing Game Campaign Can Inspire Your Novel” is an outgrowth of that series; I got recruited to write this piece specifically because of Dice Tales. So if you’re interested, go take a look, and comment over there!

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

rachelmanija: (Books: old)
A pair of '90s portal fantasies about veterinary students who travel to a fantasyland called Crossroads to treat centaurs, unicorns, griffins, and other magical beasts. I read these years ago and re-read recently with the intention of finally reading book three, which I had either failed to find or failed to read previously. Now that I have re-read, I understand why I never read the final book. I had remembered the fun parts (vet students figuring out how to treat magical creatures, and that is both accurate to my knowledge and very fun if you like that sort of thing) and forgotten about the truly amazing amount of awesome depressingness surrounding them.

I also have to mention that O'Donohoe also wrote an sf novel in a dystopian future, Too Too Solid Flesh about androids programmed with the personalities of the characters of Hamlet. This was also fairly depressing (though with way less torture), but more appropriate to the subject matter and I recall liking it a lot, despite a manic pixie dream girl.

Too, Too Solid Flesh

The Magic And The Healing

Under the Healing Sign

The Magic and the Healing

BJ Vaughan, a vet student, is understandably depressed. Her mother committed suicide out of the blue, leaving a note saying that she was dying of Huntington's Chorea (a horrific, fatal genetic disease) and BJ should be tested to see if she's going to get it too. BJ, who has been having mysterious symptoms lately, gets tested. Sure enough, she has it. She tells no one, but begins planning her suicide. I will cut to the chase and say that she continues telling no one and planning her suicide for the entire book, and in fact by the end of the second book, though she is no longer planning suicide, she has still told very, very few people and has not informed the people who most need to know.

But! Something more cheerful happens, and about time. BJ and some other students are invited on to a special exotic animal rotation, which of course turns out to be in Crossroads. The magical creatures, their cultures, and their ecologies are sketched-in but interesting and convincing. My favorite for cuteness was the flowerbinders, which are kittens the size of German Shepherds who catch their prey by winding flowers into their fur and camouflaging themselves as a bush or hillock of wildflowers. My favorite for interesting worldbuilding were the several sentient species which remain the prey of other sentient species, and how intelligent beings evolved cultures, laws, and rituals which account for that. There are a handful of human inhabitants of Crossroads, most of whom are essentially refugees who stumbled in while fleeing for their lives, but it's mostly populated by centaurs, fauns, griffins, etc.

As BJ and the other students ply their trade, they learn more about how the magic of Crossroads works, and BJ realizes that though traumatic injury and some diseases exist in Crossroads, cancer and degenerative diseases don't. If she stays, can she arrest or even cure her own degenerative illness? Is she willing to give up her entire previous life for the chance at a new one?

I think this is plenty of story for a novel, and if this had been the entire story, the book would have been much better, much less grim, and also much less ridiculous. Unfortunately, there is another plotline involving one of the most moustache-twirling villains I've ever come across. Her name is Morgan, and she is a sadistic genocidal sociopathic mass murderer whose hobbies include torture, mass graves, bathing in blood (literally), invasion, getting people hooked on drugs, slaughtering her own minions in front of her entire army just for the fun of it, and slaughtering everyone in sight. She plans to invade Crossroads, slaughter everyone, and then go to another world and slaughter everyone there. Rinse, repeat. Inexplicably, her army does not desert en masse despite her periodically torturing her own soldiers to death. Oh, yeah, and did I mention that she's immortal and invulnerable, so no one can just whack her?

She has a backstory. Sort of. It's the sort which introduces more plotholes than it resolves. Why is she the way she is? She's angry. NO SHIT. What's she angry about? Who knows! Why is she immortal? Because it was somehow a condition of booting her out of Crossroads earlier, when she was just a non-immortal homicidal maniac. Why the hell would you make a homicidal maniac immortal? Uh... the magic works that way! Why not kill her when you had the chance? Because the king was in love with her! WHY? Because she didn't seem evil right away. I realize this sort of thing happens in real life (the charming sociopath, I mean) but 1) we never see the charm, 2) if your choice is "kill the genocidal maniac you still kind of love, or make her immortal so she can come back and murder you and every citizen of your country," you need to suck it up and break out the guillotine.

Nobody in Crossroads thinks they have a chance of fighting her off, though they're planning a hopeless last stand anyway. Periodically Morgan sneaks in, tortures or kills some animals or people, and sneaks out. I don't mind reading about hurt animals in the context of veterinary medicine, but I draw the line at animal torture. Anyway, eventually the good guys beat her back, but it's just for now. They're still doomed. (Until book two! No, wait. Still doomed.)

There is also an extremely unconvincing romance between BJ and a faun named Stefan. They have no chemistry and nothing in common other than that they both like animals. They never have sex because BJ doesn't tell him she's dying but doesn't want to commit when she's dying. This entire plotline really didn't work for me. Alas, it continues in exactly the same vein in book two, except BJ is no longer dying and they do have sex... but she still doesn't tell him and continues to angst in the exact same way.

Approximately half of a pretty cool book melded to half of a pretty terrible book. Perhaps this was meant to be symbolic of Crossroads' many chimera-creatures... Nah.

Under the Healing Sign

My feelings about the sequel are summed up by an Amazon reader who wrote, "On the whole, it [the third book] is much better than the second book of the very same series, "Under The Healing Sign", which made me wish to commite suicide immediately upon reading the last chapter of it."

Despite the charmingly pastoral cover, what actually happens in this book is mostly death, despair, defeat, torture, animal and child harm, and the least triumphant "happy ending" I've ever read in a fantasy book. It does have some sweet scenes a la the good parts of the first book and introduces a really awesome character(who, shockingly, does not die), a gay and fabulous cross-dressing, swordfighting veterinarian, Dr. Esteban Protera, who needed to star or co-star in a cheerier book. But overall, I'm with the Amazon reviewer.

Spoilers, if anyone cares. I'll just hit a few of the grimdark highlights. Read more... )
18 October 2016 09:00 - Monsters and Angels
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

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

I had restless, relentless dreams all night that were full of snippets of my life–tour buses and parties and album covers and keeping track of my things–but which never made any sense. Maybe it’s an illusion that life makes sense to begin with. At any rate, I woke up confused about where I was.

In my own bedroom. I know. Funny, isn’t it?

Read the rest of this entry » )
17 October 2016 22:52 - A hint for Sunday's review
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
The dedication reads

For Bob Heinlein, who thirty-five years ago said: "Blowups Happen."
17 October 2016 20:06 - Inktober #17
yhlee: hexarchate Andan blue rose (hxx Andan)

Sketch of Joe reading while waiting for dinner.

Pen: Platinum brush pen.
Ink: Platinum Black.
17 October 2016 17:38 - Dance weekend
wcg: (Default)
It was a busy weekend. Saturday was the annual Baltimore Autumn Assembly, an English Country Dance ball held for the 41st year. Then on Sunday two friends from the local dance community got married and had a Contra Dance with their wedding reception, all timed to coincide with the Hunters Moon, and called Moondance.

Pictures back here )
17 October 2016 15:49 - They might give her bad dreams
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
As a kind of postscript to the previous: I was just reminded that since the latest issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone has become available, the previous issue is now free to read online. As well as fantastic work by Gwynne Garfinkle and Neile Graham, it contains my poem "Men Who Aren't Crazy," written for Dwight Frye, Helen Chandler, and Tod Browning's Dracula (1931). I will never cease to be entertained that it was accepted just in time for Frye's hundred-and-seventeenth birthday.
swan_tower: (Default)

In honor of the season, I’ve created two new limited-time galleries on my site: Autumn and Halloween.

Paired photos of a single autumn leaf and an angel on a cross

(There is a known glitch where sometimes the photos in a gallery will not display properly. If you see them stacked up on top of each other, reload and that should fix the problem.)

These galleries will only be available through the end of the month. If you would like to order a print of one or more of the photos, or to license them for commercial use, please contact me. I can make prints on paper, acrylic, metal, glass, canvas, or wood — pretty much any substance that doesn’t run away fast enough. 🙂 Sizes range from 4×6 up. For electronic use, I’m willing to do a small amount of image manipulation, e.g. cropping to a detail or darkening part of the shot so you can place text over it more readably.

A happy autumnal season to all! Except those of you in the southern hemisphere, to whom I wish a delightful spring.

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

sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
I slept almost nine hours last night. The night before that, almost eight. Following a week of staggering exhaustion, it feels somewhat miraculous. Then of course I spent almost all of today out of the house and away from my computer, therefore have written nothing on any of the topics I was holding off until I had more brain for.

My poems "A Death of Hippolytos" and "The Other Lives" are now available in the latest issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone. The first was a consequence of Jules Dassin's Phaedra (1962); the second was written for [livejournal.com profile] rose_lemberg after a discussion of different reactions to Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). I am delighted that they appear alongside a poem of [livejournal.com profile] gwynnega's about Una O'Connor and an article in praise of Elisabeth Sanxay Holding.

Speaking of, I am really enjoying these collected novels of Ross Macdonald. I didn't know until I saw his non-pseudonymous last name that he was married to Margaret Millar, whom I already knew I found interesting. It's just as well that I have set aside an entire set of shelves for pulp, noir, and suspense fiction. I don't foresee this interest diminishing any time soon.
16 October 2016 22:42 - Coming Soon
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Iraq + 100 poses a question to ten Iraqi writers: what might your country look like in the year 2103 – a century after the disastrous American- and British-led invasion, and 87 years down the line from its current, nightmarish battle for survival? How might the effects of that one intervention reach across a century of repercussions, and shape the lives of ordinary Iraqi citizens, or influence its economy, culture, or politics? Might Iraq have finally escaped the cycle of invasion and violence triggered by 2003 and, if so, what would a new, free Iraq look like?
16 October 2016 21:10 - Inktober #16
yhlee: Avatar: The Last Airbender: "fight like a girl" (A:tLA fight like a girl)

Platinum brush pen with synthetic bristles.
Ink: Platinum black.

Er, yeah. I was too brain-fried to do much beyond this, sorry. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Also, sheesh, way to cut off the poor angel's feet! (I ran out of page. /o\ )
16 October 2016 19:45 - Pathfinder report!
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
Joe started running a Jade Region campaign from a prepackaged campaign thing for a friend from kung fu (K1), her son (K2), the dragon, and me. K1 is playing an elven mage named Zed. I asked her if she'd read Wizard's First Rule and she grinned and said yes. \o/ [1] K2 is running a blood-rager (a barbarian/sorcerer mix--he's basically the fighter of the party). His character backstory involves something about snapping and going berserk and killing everyone and then running away and starting over in the town where the campaign starts. (His mother gave him startled looks when she heard about the backstory, haha.) Said character's name is Slade. Apparently he has no familiarity with Arrow but it is weirdly apropos. The dragon's character is a kitsune rogue, initially named Red, but she decided to rename her character Ahri after the gumiho [2] from League of Legends. My character is a half-orc cleric of Gorum (the god of war), named Umog ("Mog for short") because it was the least ridiculous name I could get an online orcish name generator to spit out at me. :p

[1] I read a lot of the Goodkind books in college after having read the first one in high school when it came out. A college friend of mine, Peter, really liked them, so I read them so we could be book buddies about them. =)

[2] Korean nine-tailed fox spirit; they're very similar to Japanese kitsune, which more people have heard of.

Read more... )

Also, side note, because we are in Louisiana, a surprising number of Pathfinder NPCs get characterized with highly exaggerated drawls. =) (Other than "y'all," I don't speak with any form of Texan drawl, which is why people sometimes don't realize I'm from Texas. But I find the drawl comforting and homey.)

I still wish I could figure out some excuse to run Tiny Frontiers or something, but between PFS and the Jade Region home campaign, I can't really justify haring off with yet another campaign even if I could get interested players. And while I've run play-by-email before, I absolutely can't commit to that--I remember how much work it was to co-GM Shazrad. Ah, well! Maybe elsewhere someday.

P.S. Joe has just figured out that with a Fly spell, we could actually carry off a half-orc paratrooper drop. Fully buffed, my character can carry both the dragon's blood-rager and Joe's skald...
16 October 2016 21:32 - The Shining, by Stephen King
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
This was my first time reading this book as the movie scared the living daylights out of me when I was in high school. I have no idea if the movie is actually as scary as I recall, because I don't actually remember much beyond "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," Jack Nicholson doing the homicidal maniac thing, and some incredibly creepy ghosts. So I also can't compare the movie to the book that much, other than that "All work and no play" isn't in the book and Jack being a writer isn't as important as I recall it being in the movie. My recollection is that the movie was essentially about a haunted hotel. The book is essentially about a family.

I mostly read the book because I wanted to read the sequel, Doctor Sleep, which several people recced. I had thought the book was pure horror, which is not really my thing, so I didn't expect to like it that much. I liked it a lot. It is horror, but it's got great characterization and is mostly the slow build, psychological type of horror rather than a cascade of jump-scares and gross-outs. Though it does have some very scary bits.

It takes a classic horror theme, a person with a flaw or weakness amplified by an evil or just powerful place until they crack, which is generally (in this case too) ambiguous about how much supernatural forces had to do with it and how much was the person making a choice to let their worst side run amuck. The Shining is weighted toward the side of choice, and is largely about choice and temptation.

Moderate spoilers. Read more... )
15 October 2016 12:40 - What books should be on a list of
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Make Me a Sammich-style post-apocalypse works?

Obviously, Slow Apocalypse and that Volcano series, but what else? And is "Well, seven billion dead people is kind of sad but at least it got kids off twitter" also an inherent part of the genre?
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
My poem "At the Meyerhold Theatre" is now online at Through the Gate. This is the ghost poem I wrote in February after discovering what is now my favorite picture of Dmitri Shostakovich:

I would not have said until then that he was the sort of historical figure for whom I wrote ghost poems, although I owned a book of his published letters, loved two of his operas and one of his film scores, and his Suite for Variety Orchestra (formerly misidentified as the Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 2, under which name I have the recording I am currently listening to) supplied the soundtrack for a significant period of my life in college; I was looking for a photo of Mayakovsky at the time. But about a week after the poem, I discovered Julian Barnes' The Noise of Time (2016), and shortly after that my mother spontaneously presented me with a copy of M.T. Anderson's Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad (2015) which she had been holding on to for the right occasion, so I think this was just a case of nonlinear inspiration. The flexatone made a huge impression on me when I saw the New England premiere of The Nose at the Boston Lyric Opera in 2009. So did the actor who played the young composer himself, gravely surveying the chaos from a safe distance of metafiction. He could be recognized by his horn-rims and his stoneface, a score stamped нос under his arm just in case. I don't know that he got into this poem more than the real Shostakovich, but I suspect he's in there somewhere. I hope both of them would appreciate it.
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
I got up very early this morning on an hour's sleep to accompany my mother to a doctor's appointment and stayed surprisingly awake until four in the afternoon, when I finished Ross Macdonald's The Way Some People Die (1951), started The Barbarous Coast (1956), passed out for another hour with Hestia curled behind my knees, and had a solid narrative block of nightmare of the kind that looks stupid when written down, but was vividly disorienting and upsetting even as I was waking from it. I was badly overheating. I lay on my back trying to feel real. Hestia was gone by then, but Autolycus leaped onto the bed and instantly molded himself to my side, purring so that I could feel it vibrating through my ribs. Earlier he had been prowling around the top of the dresser while vocally speculating about leaping onto the top of the bedroom door (I am pleased to say he did not go for it) and for some time after that I'd heard him playing with the jingly feather on a stick, but he stayed beside me, dedicatedly purring, until the dream started to drain off and I could think about getting up and making dinner. After I had made a baked potato with goat cheese and was still not feeling fantastic, he arranged himself on my lap and employed more purring along with a judicious grooming of my hands. He is a very empathetic little cat. Everything else I wanted to write about today needs more sleep first.
14 October 2016 19:06 - Inktober #14
yhlee: Flight Rising Spiral dragon, black-red-gold (Flight Rising Jedao baby Spiral)

Dragon doing math homework. By the way, she's currently chastising poor Joe for making sign errors. LOLOLOL.

Ink: Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro.
Pen: Esterbrook SJ Green with a 2668 nib (medium).
14 October 2016 14:45 - Thanks to Facebook's On This Day
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I know there is something in the air in the fall to which I am extremely allergic.
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

A few people have commented on this part of yesterday’s blog post about sexual assault and excuses:

And then you have the guys who say they’ve never heard such things. Really? Never? As common as sexual assault is in this country, you’ve never heard anyone boasting about a problematic encounter? Never heard anyone glorifying assault, talking about what they could do, what they could get away with? Never heard the jokes about getting women drunk in order to get them into bed rape them?

I have no problem accepting that most people aren’t as blunt, vulgar, and obvious about such remarks as Trump was in that video clip. And I’m obviously not in any position to point out examples in people’s real lives. So instead, I figured I’d list some examples of this kind of boasting, glorification, and normalization from shows most of us are probably familiar with.

Let’s start with Avengers: Age of Ultron, wherein Tony Stark jokes, “I will be reinstituting prima nocta.” For those unfamiliar, prima nocta is the historical right of a lord to have sex with rape any woman he chooses on her wedding night. But it’s not like Tony’s actually boasting about sexually assaulting women, right? It’s just a gross, sexist joke, isn’t it?

So how about the Big Bang Theory, where we see this “hilarious” scene of Howard using a remote control car with a video camera to look up Penny’s skirt. (This is one of many, many problematic examples from that particular show.)

Going back a little further to Friends, there’s an episode where Joey realizes his tailor has been sexually abusing him for years. Laugh track is included to make sure you know how hilarious this is. (There are plenty of other messed-up bits in this show as well, including the “Taking care of a drunk naked woman sounds like a job for Joey” line, followed by Joey starting off to do just that, only to be stopped by Chandler.)

The Harry Potter films never question the fact that Fred and George are selling what are, in essence, a magical date rape drug. When Ron is drugged by a love potion, it’s once again played for laughs, and never challenged or confronted.

How I Met Your Mother had Barney struggling with a Very Serious Problem: “How Can I Have Sex With Robin Again?” His solution? To get her drunk at Ted’s wedding. (This is one of many shows where, if you’ve watched it, then yes, you have heard the jokes about getting people drunk in order to get past their unwillingness to have sex rape them.)

None of these are as blunt and vulgar as Trump’s quote. All of them normalize and minimize sexual harassment and/or assault. They suggest it’s normal for guys to not worry about pesky things like consent. They teach that the proper response to being sexually harassed is laughter and maybe mild, quickly-forgotten annoyance.

I can’t say what people see and hear — or don’t — in their day to day interactions with other people. Some of us are less social and outgoing than others, and hopefully we’ve mostly tried to surround ourselves with decent human beings. But as common and prevalent as this stuff is in our media and our culture, it’s hard for me to imagine never hearing any of it in real life.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

majes: (spirituality)
Continuing my posts about this year's Twilight Covening, here is post two, on the day we explored both Air and Fire, in addition to merging our spirits with that of the aspect of Horse.

All these things, under the cut )
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