a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
sovay: (Claude Rains)
Last night I dreamed of a three-person crime repeating through time in a Chinese restaurant. The actions differed each time, but the body count was the same. The night before that was a nightmare unpleasantly resembling both a poem I wrote in college and my present relationship with my orthodontics: I had agreed to some kind of experimental procedure which would have given me moss and leaves in my skin and hair for reasons that resembled alien first contact but might have had supernatural overtones, but it had proliferated unexpectedly through my body and my mouth was full of tiny green-and-white seedlings growing from my tongue and the insides of my cheeks; I had to keep tearing them out and it hurt constantly and I was always choking for air and my mouth was always full of blood. I suppose it's good that I'm dreaming on the amount of sleep I get these days, but the subject material could use some work. When I woke this morning, the very first thing I had to do was clean up a glass smashed by a cat in the kitchen. Fortunately, I have this vacuum cleaner. Still.

1. Talking in two different places about the life expectancy of queer characters in fiction reminded me that for about two years I have been wanting to repost a comment I made in conversation with [personal profile] skygiants: The Moon-Spinners (1962) is not Mary Stewart's best novel, but I bear it a disproportionate debt of gratitude for the character of Tony Gamble, because he is coded gay about as strongly as Stewart could get away with and nothing bad happens to him, even though he's a jewel thief and one of the novel's antagonists. He's graceful and humorous, he has faintly camp manners and the heroine thinks he moves like a dancer, but he's the jack-of-all-trades at a new hotel in Crete; it's not clear that he has any more scruples than the rest of his gang, especially when it comes to double-crossing them, but he's the one the author allows to get away, facetiously promising to send the heroine "a picture postcard from the Kara Bugaz." Her cousin thinks he never will, but I like to think that someday a postcard from somewhere arrived. I took him for granted as a child and then, as an adult re-reader, was really impressed that he's just a person.

(As an adult re-reader I really want to have seen him played by Roddy McDowall, but only in a universe where Disney did not adapt the novel into a vehicle for Hayley Mills.)

2. I don't know if I'll get to see any of it, but I really hope Moving Day at MIT will be as strange and interesting as the Boston Globe hopes. Oliver Smoot as grand marshal of the parade feels metaphysically right.

3. Speaking of universities and interesting people, Justus Rosenberg was not one of my mother's professors at Bard, but she knew who he was. I always like seeing people get this kind of writeup while they're alive.

4. The Daughter of Dawn (1920) will be available on DVD come this summer. I read about the discovery and restoration of this formerly lost film in 2012, but if it played anywhere in the Boston area, I missed it. I'd still like to see it on a big screen, but I think it's more important that it be available to people regardless of their proximity to arthouse theaters or university archives. A cast of all-Native characters played by all-Native actors, with nary a white lead in sight? "I would say this film proves that Indians have been acting since day one."

5. As a child I thought often about Elizabeth Goudge's Green Dolphin Street (1944) because it had one of the most evocative titles on its bookshelf. I tried it sometime in adolescence, during my foray into Goudge novels that were not The Valley of Song (1951), and bounced with such ferocity that I can remember absolutely nothing about the plot except a disappointing lack of dolphins. Yesterday I discovered there's a film version from 1947. It co-stars Van Heflin. With Lana Turner. And a title theme that became a jazz standard. It's probably terrible. I can't imagine how Goudge's Christianity would translate to the screen or what any novel of hers would look like without it. I am obviously going to have to undertake some kind of read-watch. Why is this my life?

I am off to meet Dean at the Fogg Museum. I want to write about The Uninvited (1944), which was as weird and complex and full of undercurrents as I would expect a seminal ghost story to be, but I might need to get some real rest first.
6 May 2016 05:25 - since I'm awake anyway
yhlee: Alto clef and whole note (middle C). (alto clef)
music nattering

Read more... )
swan_tower: (*writing)

On the way home from Captain America: Civil War (which is quite good, and should have been titled Avengers: Civil War), we got to talking about the contrast between Arrow and Flash, and the problems I had with the latter. (I say “had” because I gave up on watching it partway into this season.)

It just occurred to me that I think part of my issue with that show is the same thing Slacktivist was talking about here, riffing off this post by Mychal Denzel Smith. Specifically, this bit, quoted from Smith:

When your self-conception is centered on the idea of your own goodness, it prevents you from hearing any critique of your ideology/behavior. Thinking of yourself as “good” allows you to justify harmful words and actions, since anything you do, in your mind, is “good.”

Flash feels like it has defined Barry Allen as A Good Person, and therefore it cannot address anything that might call his goodness into question — like, say, the extrajudicial prison he regularly throws criminals into, keeping them in solitary confinement for indefinite periods of time without benefit of trial or any other such legal process. He is A Good Person, therefore Basement Gitmo is good. By contrast, Arrow has not defined Oliver Queen as A Good Person; instead he’s been presented as a deeply flawed person trying to become good. Corollary: the show offers up frequent critiques of his ideology and behavior, and he changes in response to them. Not always, and not perfectly — one of the points season five has been making is that he still has a lot of problems. But that’s a story the show can tell, because it hasn’t taken its protagonist’s Goodness as a given.

I complained before that telling a story where ethics matter shouldn’t require you to be working in the grimdark mode — that Flash *could* have addressed the difficult question of how to handle superpowered criminals, while still being Arrow‘s perky younger brother. Now I wonder to what extent Smith’s quote points at the source of the problem: they could never tell stories where Barry grappled with ethics and questioned his own morality, because Barry Allen is A Good Person.

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

6 May 2016 01:29 - thrilling new information
Turns out when you have had sinus misery for about five months, and then you're crying really hard about your loneliness and how bad the world has turned out to be, you can give yourself a nosebleed.

Do not recommend.
6 May 2016 00:10 - Weird encounter on way home.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Man walking ahead of me veering onto lawn of 103 Queen South, looked at me, jumped the fence, then dropped something in the window well of a basement window. Then he walked off very quickly across the street and through the lot of St Pauls.
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)
I don't know what I was expecting from a movie called Seven Sweethearts (1942). It was directed by Frank Borzage and co-starred Van Heflin, so I decided to give it a whirl. I'd had a really bad night. It opened with a waltz sung by an offstage chorus and a credited list of "The Seven Sweethearts . . . The Seven Sweethearts' Boy Friend . . . The Seven Sweethearts' Other Boy Friends . . . The Seven Sweethearts' Father" and then we got a scrolling poem in Burma-Shave couplets about Dutch immigration to the United States. "To this great land / Of jive and juleps / The Dutch once came / To plant their tulips . . ." I respect Heflin's acerbic photojournalist immensely for arriving on the scene in "Little Delft, Michigan" and finding the communal rehearsal of Edvard Grieg's Morgenstemning too twee for words, but unfortunately that's the father of his future beloved leading the soundtrack on oboe—resist the old-world charms of S.Z. Sakall's cuckoo-clock hotel as he might, Heflin's fallen into a register of whimsy I didn't think would exist until the advent of indie filmmaking. The hotelier has seven beautiful daughters, all with boys' names, who are supposed to get married off in birth order; the Viennese musician on the top floor goes around muttering artistically to himself and hasn't paid his rent in a year; the honeymooning couple down the hall communicate with one another in romantically bad poetry. The rooms have no keys and the newspaper is never printed when it rains. One of the daughters serenades a stunned Heflin with operetta trills of impromptu Mozart and two white fantail pigeons flutter down to her balcony like extras from a Disney cartoon. I don't blame him for scratching his head like he's trying to find his phrenological area of reality check: "What goes on here? Everybody on the staff looks like Miss America and the proprietor plays oboe." Zero prizes for guessing if he'll soften by the finale, but at least the daughter he ends up with is the snarky one with a temper as short as his own. She's played by Kathryn Grayson, so the singing is a staple feature, though the fantail pigeons appear to be an aberration. The plot between these two points is pure shenanigans, involving the machinations of the theater-mad eldest sister, the youngest sister's torn family loyalties, the five frustrated boyfriends of the sisters in between, misunderstandings, New York City, and a lot of Dutch national pride. Oh, and the movie's a musical, in case the opening waltz and Grayson's presence didn't sufficiently warn you. It's all diegetic music, but there's a lot of it, including a professional-caliber church choir and a production number about tulips. Did I mention that Heflin's reporter is in town originally to cover the tulip festival? It's really not a bad movie, but clog-dancing Jesus, is it silly. Van Heflin has a staggering case of side-eye the whole way through and I couldn't blame him.

He's a credible romantic lead, incidentally, but I can't help wondering how he got the part—it's the kind of cynic-to-sap material that any pretty face on the MGM lot could have handled without strain. The fun in Heflin's case is getting to see what a character actor does with a conventional part. He's not a pretty face, for starters. He finds his own strengths in the role. His dry voice reinforces the character's cynical edge, which a surfeit of love and tulips never quite succeeds in sanding off; his attention to vulnerability means that while it's in the script that his native New Yorker is utterly confounded by the rural sweetness of Little Delft, it's from Heflin's off-rhythm delivery and tight reflexive smile that we suspect that even in his natural habitat the reporter isn't really the smooth operator he'd like us to believe. His story about advising a famous theatrical producer—whose name changes halfway through from Oscar to Max—is such obvious impress-the-girls flummery, it's just his bad luck that the oldest sister believes it. He can't really dance, but I never thought I'd even see him try. I wish I could recommend the movie for him, but I'd rather point out that TCM is runnng Act of Violence (1948) at a wincingly early hour on Saturday morning. If he ever got a romantic part with substance, I'd like to see that. As for Frank Borzage, if he put in the studio time in order to make stranger pictures like Moonrise (1948), I'm happy for the pay-off, but I can't see much of his weird lyricism here.

That was more than I thought I had to say about any movie which features a song by the title of "Little Tingle-Tangle Toes." This excursion brought to you by my bemused backers at Patreon.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
It's just Grand River Transit patrons trying to figure out where their bus is detoured to.
swan_tower: (Default)

Author Judith Tarr is in dire straits. We’ve got this idiom in English about “losing the farm” — well, she is in actual danger of losing an actual farm. This would not only have dreadful consequences for her, it would leave all of her horses homeless: most of them too old or too untrained to be saleable. Right now she is scrambling to keep them fed for the rest of this month, let alone going forward.

There are a number of ways you can help her out, if you are so inclined.

1) Camp Lipizzan. Her horses are the “airs above ground” breed, the ones renowned for their beautiful high-school dressage movements. This is your chance to ride one, and even try out “horse yoga.”

2) Editing and writing mentorship. Judy’s a World Fantasy Award nominee; she knows her stuff. If you’re a writer, this may be of interest to you.

3) Patreon. She’s posting new fiction there.

4) Sponsor a horse. Full details are there, but you can help feed and water the horses, and get to know them in return.

Also, Judy has asked that people who have read her books post a review on Amazon, as that helps boost the visibility of her work and therefore increase her sales. I particularly recommend Writing Horses to the writers among you: if you’re ever going to have an equine in a story, this will help you do it right.

Many thanks to everyone who lends Judy a hand.

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

5 May 2016 13:49 - A thing I did not know
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
There's event spam on Facebook. Although it seems to have vanished from my event: not sure if the other host zapped it or what.
5 May 2016 13:10 - An interesting development
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

5 May 2016 09:00 - World Shut Your Mouth
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

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

The first of two stylists arrived in the morning. His name was Bernard and he was a tall, willowy black man with close-cropped bleached hair, which was a striking contrast to his brown skin. I gathered from the banter going on between him and Ziggy that he was a drag queen who wasn’t in his drag yet, but he would be getting into it soon enough, after he was done with us.

Every queer in New York would be getting into their drag or finery or marching boots or whatever that day. It was the day of the Pride parade.

Read the rest of this entry » )
I'm even more behind on closing tabs than normal, but there's a lot of good stuff online these days:

Books and literature:

As some of you might remember, I wrote for Bookslut a good decade ago. The site, which remained interesting through its entire run, is closing, and Boris Kachka has a good interview with Jessa Crispin at Vulture about the end.

At The Spinoff, freelance editor Stephen Stratford, tells some great (or appalling, but wonderfully-told) stories of his time in the editing trenches.

Sex:

In An Exegesis on Spanking Fetishists, Jessica Gross interviews Jillian Keenan on a huge range of topics, many of them centered around Keenan's exploration of her fetish, the line between fetish and kink, and lot of other issues. TW both for mention of a specific sexual assault in Keenan's life, and for general discussion of the basic fact that spanking children is abuse (and specifically the fact that it's a form of sexual abuse).

And Charlotte Shane (who may be the best example of folks whose TinyLetters are being turned into books, as Jessa discusses in the Bookslut piece) has a piece railing Against the Cult of Pussy Eaters.


Food:

Nicholas Hune-Brown at Slate writes about how AllRecipes represents a much better look at the typical house's eating habits than foodie-obsessed blogs or sites like Epicurious. On the one hand, that's a pretty obvious and hardly new sentiment, but it's a good look at how much people (yours truly included) rely on sites like AR.

I can't imagine anyone hasn't seen it, but just in case, here's Laura Reiley's huge piece at TampaBay.com on the utter lies about the origins of your food at so many "farm to table" restaurants. Do not think for a second that this is a Tampa-specific thing.

Other:

This old but fantastic piece by Chris Jones in Esquire is a great account of Teller (of "Penn and" fame) a stolen magic trick, and the impact such theft has on the industry as a whole. I find it even more interesting because of how copyright and patent law applies different here than in other areas (computer programming, for example, where reverse engineering things is often the norm). For folks who want closure on the lawsuit itself, here's a rather dry follow-up.

Rebecca Greenfield and Kim Bhasin at Bloomberg examine how Adore Me and similar clubs are basically replicating Columbia House-style rip-offs. Having seen my daughter taken for three or four months of bogus charges when Big Fish pulled a similar scam, it's definitely something that gets my hackles up.

Buzzfeed has an excellent piece on The Secret History Of The Photo At The Center Of The Black Confederate Myth by Adam Serwer.

And finally, Anna Weiner's Uncanny Valley is simply the best thing I've ever read about working at a Silicon Valley startup, bar none.
5 May 2016 01:23 - "I choose you"
rosefox: Batman feeds a baby while saying "We'll both be just fine" (baby-yay)
I had a total meltdown tonight over needing to be the perfect parent so that the baby will love me and believe I love them--so that I can make up for my lack of biological link to them. Kit has a cold (the first time they've ever been ill) and has been so snuffly and feverish and sad. If Kit is sad and I don't fix it, what the hell kind of parent am I? And that triggers the doubts and fears about being no kind of parent at all.

This wasn't helped by someone asking me about my Mother's Day plans with my mom and assuming they didn't include the baby, because that person doesn't really think of Kit as my child or as my mother's grandchild. I've lost count of how many times people have erased my various identities--seeing me and J as a het couple, getting my pronouns wrong all the time, assuming X mattered less to me than J because of gender and distance, to name just a few--but oof, this erasure hurts the most, because on some level I believe it. (And also because the whole idea of being a parent is new, I think. I'm still not really used to it at all, so if someone says or implies I'm not one, I don't have that rock-solid identity certainty to brace myself against.)

I vented on Twitter, as I do, and [twitter.com profile] oh_also sent me to First Time Second Time, a blog by two queer parents who each gave birth to one of their kids. They write a lot about being non-gestational parents and it's really good. Their non-bio mom manifesto is exactly what I needed to read tonight, and the last two paragraphs in particular:
Even though I really hate the “Different but Equal” refrain, I’d be hard-pressed to say that my relationship with Leigh wasn’t different than Gail’s, at least during early infancy. So even though I get annoyed by such statements, I also sort of agree. But if I truly believe I do have a different and equal relationship to Leigh, even though she didn’t grow inside me, even though I didn’t nurse and nourish her as a baby, and even though she does not look a bit like me, there must be something else that I offered her. What is it? What is the “something extra” that I gave to her, that she wouldn’t have gotten in a family with only Gail as her parent?

This has been eating at me for years. Sure, I can see my influence in her mannerisms, the clarity with which she expresses herself, her bull-in-a-china-shop quality, her overt enthusiasm, and her love of connecting with all kinds of people. But none of that seems quite like the answer. The other night, though, I realized Gail had finally figured it out. What I offered to her, that only I could offer her, was my choice. I chose to parent her, and chose to love her deeply, despite a multitude of pressures that said either that I shouldn’t love her, or that I was unnecessary. Some of those pressures said explicitly that I’d damage her by my mere presence (those coming from, say, the religious right). Some of those pressures were more subtle, like the ones that said it wasn’t important for me to take leave to spend time with my new infant, or the ones that said if I pushed too hard to feed her or spend too much time with her, I’d take away from her all-important “primary” bond to Gail, resulting in some sort of vague but longstanding psychological damage. It is precisely the central challenge of being a non-bio-mom, the need to choose to parent your child, that makes the bond special. To spin something precious out of what looks and feels like nothing at the outset — no pregnancy, no genetic link, no nursing link, no overt need on the part of your child — is truly a gift to your whole family, and it is a gift that only you can give them.
I will clutch this to my heart forever. For-ev-er.

I will quibble only to say that each of us made a choice--each of us and all of us made many, many choices over a period of several years--to be Kit's parent. J chose to father the child and X chose to carry the child, and their biological contributions don't make their subsequent choices to be devoted, attentive parents any less important or essential. But my lack of biological contribution doesn't make my choice any less real or meaningful.

I write this from the rocking chair in Kit's room, where I plan to sit all night. Their fever's broken--it never got above 101.2, so we were never super worried, but any kind of fever is no fun--and the congestion is easing, but they're still snuffly. My anxieties are soothed by listening to them breathing, and if they wake up fussy I want to be right here for them. They slept on my lap for a while, and when I stood up to put them in the crib, they woke a little and turned their head and pressed their face against me in the purest gesture of trust and comfort-seeking I've ever seen. They chose me too. I choose to believe them.
sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
The Library of America doesn't know me from a hole in the wall, but nonetheless it loves me and wants me to be happy. I began to suspect as much with its recent publications of classic science fiction and female-authored noir, but I have just discovered that it will be publishing The Complete Orsinia by Ursula K. Le Guin. This is a big deal. Early imprinting on Coyote and Therem Harth rem ir Estraven notwithstanding, the original Orsinian Tales (1976) is very possibly my favorite book by Le Guin. I discovered it in my sophomore year of college, a slim little Bantam paperback with an inaccurately fantastic cover of a castle on a hill and a medieval walled city; it might suit the country's early history as depicted in "The Barrow" or "The Lady of Moge," but not the twentieth century in which the rest of the stories take place, from the pre-WWI "Brothers and Sisters" to the Cold War-era "A Week in the Country" and all the complicated terrain of memory, nationality, and love in between. I want to say something insightful about the way she looked at real and imaginary history and the way the two can exist in simultaneous superposition or within the cracks of each other, but mostly I know that lines and characters from some of those stories will be in my head forever. A few fountains clattered in deserted squares. Knocked the keystone out of your arch, didn't it? She came from the plains of a foreign land, windswept plains ringed by far peaks fading into night as nearby, in the wild grass, the smoke of a campfire veered and doubled on the wind over the flames and a woman sang in a strange tongue, a music lost in the huge, blue, frozen dusk. Damn, I left my cabbage in the bar. I love the linked stories of the Fabbre family best; I think they must have been important to Le Guin, too, since they provide the strongest continuity throughout the cycle. The latest generation features in the title story of Unlocking the Air (1996), the collection I bought just for that one last glimpse of Orsinia in 1989. The novel Malafrena (1979) I can take or leave, but I've been looking for the early Orsinian poems since college. Now I just have to wait until September. That's a good reason to be around then.
4 May 2016 17:14 - signal boost
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
Author Judith Tarr could use some help:
Right now I do not know how I'm going to feed the horses for the rest of the month. I have managed to scrape out enough to pay for the last load of hay (if that late check finally gets here), but once it's eaten, which it will be in about ten days, I don't know what I'm going to do. The farm will be gone by midsummer unless I find a steady source of sufficient income. I've been hustling like a hustling thing but so far with minimal results.

The market does not want either me or the horses. The horses are all old and therefore retired and unsalable, or else would require thousands of dollars' worth of training and show fees to have any sale value. No one can take them. The market is saturated with unwanted horses and the rescues are overloaded. I am over 60, hearing impaired (ergo, unable to use the phone), and with chronic fatigue syndrome which makes office or minimum-wage work difficult to impossible. And minimum wage would not support the animals, let alone me. All my income streams from backlist books, editing, writing, etc. have shrunk to a trickle or dried up. No one has booked a Camp in over a year.

I have had a few small things come through, but as with everything else, they've fallen short or failed to produce. I continue to push, and with the fiction writing regaining its old fluidity, I may manage to make something happen there. I've been urged to try an Indiegogo for a short novel, and I am closing in on that. (Indiegogo, unlike Kickstarter, offers an option that pays even if the goal is not met. The goal would be enough to cover mortgage, horses, and utilities for a month.) Since for the first time in my life I'm able to write more than one project at a time, that means I can continue to meet my obligation to backers of last November's Kickstarter for a science-fiction novel, and also write the novella (and short stories, too).

A friend suggested that I offer sponsorships for the horses. I feel weird about that, but they need to eat. What I would give in return is a little writeup about the horse being sponsored, with a digital album of pictures and a monthly update. And short fiction as it happens, if you are a reader with an interest.


See link for more details.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
From her LJ:


Right now I do not know how I'm going to feed the horses for the rest of the month. I have managed to scrape out enough to pay for the last load of hay (if that late check finally gets here), but once it's eaten, which it will be in about ten days, I don't know what I'm going to do. The farm will be gone by midsummer unless I find a steady source of sufficient income. I've been hustling like a hustling thing but so far with minimal results.

The market does not want either me or the horses. The horses are all old and therefore retired and unsalable, or else would require thousands of dollars' worth of training and show fees to have any sale value. No one can take them. The market is saturated with unwanted horses and the rescues are overloaded. I am over 60, hearing impaired (ergo, unable to use the phone), and with chronic fatigue syndrome which makes office or minimum-wage work difficult to impossible. And minimum wage would not support the animals, let alone me. All my income streams from backlist books, editing, writing, etc. have shrunk to a trickle or dried up. No one has booked a Camp in over a year.
4 May 2016 16:09 - HELP
yhlee: wax seal (hxx Deuce of Gears)
I'm doing an email interview about Ninefox Gambit and one of the questions is this:
Which question about Ninefox Gambit do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Anyone have, er, ideas? I'm so stuck...
yhlee: Avatar: The Last Airbender: "fight like a girl" (A:tLA fight like a girl)
By way of [personal profile] sputnikhearts.

Cut for length.

Read more... )

25/100, which is actually not bad for me considering how weak my sf/f reading has been lately.
4 May 2016 14:46 - Author Photos Proposal
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

As some of you know, I’m a bit of a photography hobbyist — that is to say, very much not a professional. But it’s something I enjoy, and something I’d like to get better at.

It occurred to me as I was looking at my mostly-outdated press kit pics that authors need author photos.

Some authors pay professional photographers for their author photos, and that’s great. Others go through shots their friends have taken and try to find the best ones. And sometimes we just panic and snap a bunch of selfies and hope for the best, because the editor wants it right now and I can’t find anything and I’m panicking and why can’t I just send a picture of my cat instead?

Anyway, as an idea, what would you think of me offering to do photo sessions at future conventions for authors? I’m not sure exactly how this would work, but it would be good practice and experience for me, and I’d send the authors their pics and rights to use them however they need.

While I’m not a pro, I like to think I don’t completely suck. Here are some of the pics I’ve taken over the past couple of years that people seemed to like. (Keep in mind, these were generally snapped in the spur of the moment, so I didn’t always have time to move for better lighting or background and such.)

Wesley Chu

Wesley Chu

John Scalzi

John Scalzi, with Tor Ring

Terri LeBlanc and Ann Leckie

Terri LeBlanc and Ann Leckie

Michelle Clark

Michelle Clark

Tierany Seriflame.

Tierany Seriflame

Doselle Young

Doselle Young

Anthony Hendon

Anthony Hendon

What do you think? What are the downsides I’m missing? I figure I’d need to be clear up front that I can’t guarantee perfection. On the other hand, I can probably promise that you’ll get your money’s worth. Ideally, folks get decent photos they can use, and I get to have fun practicing and getting better at something I enjoy.

I figure I could either do it informally, with folks emailing me ahead of time to set something up at a convention, or else talk to the con about maybe getting an hour or two on the schedule to either shoot outside or in a program room or…well, it would probably be best to scout locations beforehand, to be honest.

Anyway, feedback welcome and appreciated.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

swan_tower: (natural history)

Woke up this morning to find out that Sylvie Denis’ translation of A Natural History of Dragons is a finalist for the Prix Imaginales, an award given out at the Imaginales festival in Épinal, France. I’m rubbing shoulders with Sofia Samatar again; as you may recall, her novel A Stranger in Olondria won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel the year ANHoD was nominated, and now Une histoire naturelle des dragons is up against Un étranger en Olondre. Congratulations also to Cat Valente, whose first Fairyland book is listed in the Youth category!

I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned this here or not, but: I’ll be at Imaginales this year, over what would be Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. and is just the last weekend in May for everybody else. Furthermore, since I’ll be going to all the trouble of crossing the continental U.S. and then the Atlantic Ocean, I’ll also be doing a signing at Forbidden Planet in London on June 2nd. In between those two things, it looks like I’ll have a couple of days to kill in Basel/Basle/Bâle, so if you know of interesting things to do there, do pass them along! It’ll be my very first time in Switzerland.

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

3 May 2016 21:43 - HOLY SHIT
swan_tower: (Fizzgig)

. . . we just bought a house.

Well, properly speaking, we just had an offer accepted for a house. There are still lots of ways this could theoretically fall through (inspections turn up something bad, etc), but . . . we just offered an absurd amount of money for a house, and the seller accepted.

O_O

. . .

O_O O_O O_O

. . . because buying a house when you’re trying to finish novel revisions and write a novella and go on an international trip is a great idea.

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

3 May 2016 22:19 - Freakonomics
yhlee: hexarchate Andan blue rose (hxx Andan)
So yes, I'm aware that I'm late to this particular party!

I picked up Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner's Freakonomics from the local bookstore as part of my haphazard quest to make some sense out of economics, mostly for nefarious sf/f worldbuilding purposes. It was on a recommended reading list for popular writing on econ, which I thought would probably be a better starting point than a textbook. (The last one I downloaded was a PDF of over 1,000 pages, which was so intimidating that I gave up after a dozen-odd pages. I don't read nearly fast enough to commit that kind of time to a single book!)

I regret not taking econ in college, which was the earliest it would have made sense to take it. (The subject was offered at my high school, but the teacher who taught it was notoriously incompetent.) I've been trying unsuccessfully to grapple with econ and finance ever since. Every time there's a short sale (?) in a TV show like Person of interest or Suits, my husband Joe has to re-explain it to me. My sister bought me Economics for Dummies (my request!) and I read it, but I have difficulty retaining the terminology. Ironically, I'm not afraid of the math. I liked calculus and did well at it, although it's true that I never took statistics (something else I regret.)

There are two nice things about Freakonomics. The first is how readable it is. The prose is clear and lively, and it does not get technical. The emphasis is on arguments/exploration from a conceptual standpoint.

The second is that it's a collection of interesting questions; indeed, the subtitle is "A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything." This includes everything from an examination of whether it's likely that sumo wrestlers are cheating, and what the incentives are for them to do so, to how a crack gang is structured (apparently like a corporation, who knew? but then, the closest I've ever gotten to a crack gang is watching a few episodes of The Wire, and I am scared to assume that TV depictions of things are accurate), to teasing out the effects of information asymmetry in real estate sales (the key was apparently to examine real estate agents' behavior when selling their own houses vs. other people's houses).

I have a copyright 2009 edition of the book, which means that there is some bonus material at the end that updates some of the stuff found therein. This too was very worthwhile reading in the spirit of the rest of the book. I'm definitely interested in picking up a copy of the follow-up, Superfreakonomics; I don't recall seeing it at the bookstore, but if I can't find it there, there's always Amazon.

Alas, this book does not quite help me with my larger problem, which is trying to figure out sf worldbuilding with finance/economics. I don't even know what questions to ask, I'm that lost. I'm going to continue trying different books and websites until I hit on something that helps, although I'm probably going to have to bite the bullet at some point and hit up a friend for help figuring out just what makes sense for this particular setting.

Also, if any of y'all have layperson-accessible recommendations for reading on this topic, I am all ears! I know very little about this stuff, but I am not afraid of math.

[cross-post: Patreon & DW]
3 May 2016 20:44 - a mystery
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
One of the cats keeps opening a kitchen drawer, retrieving a chopstick and depositing it in bed.
3 May 2016 19:53 - I live in a world
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
where the Toronto Star's go-to analogy for the Globe and Mail's foremost plagiarist Margaret Wente is Joffrey Baratheon.
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
Remember how I left my hat with Salmagundi for repairs last month?

I got my hat back.

HAT


Photo courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel. Background courtesy of Salmagundi. Tweed flat cap courtesy of that one company in New Jersey whose name I wish I'd written down.
metaphortunate: (Default)
You may remember that I made some pathetic efforts to silicone caulk around the back door recently, and the Junebug was fascinated; therefore, he easily identified what the handyman we saw out the train window this morning was doing.

"LOOKIT!" he announced loudly, to the entire train car. "HE HAS A CAULK GUN! MAMA, LOOKIT ALL THAT PINK CAULK!"

It was indeed, for some reason, possibly only for the amusement of those around small children, bright pink caulk.
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

I’ll be at the Southfield (Michigan) Public Library tomorrow, May 4, at 6:30. I’ll be reading something still-to-be-decided, talking a bit about writing and my own process, answering questions, and then selling and signing some books.

All I know for certain is that I need to remember to wear one of my Star Wars shirts…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
I am delighted by Radiohead's new music video. For everyone who loved The Wicker Man (1973) but thought, "You know what this story really needs? More stop-motion children's animation."
3 May 2016 13:00 - One complaint
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
The census site did not seem to want to let me advance without me giving them a phone number. Not everyone has a phone number. I often don't, because I don't want people to phone me and I find not having a phone at all greatly facilitates that. Not filling out the census can get you a $500 fine or up to three months in prison (as can supplying false information). I see a possible implementation issue here.
3 May 2016 12:37 - AUGH
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
There are people who don't sort their money from smallest to largest denomination, all facing the same way? I don't know whether to cry or just scrub myself with steel wool and bleach.

(it got worse: I was thinking "in wallets" but apparently this is also true of tills and cash boxes. He's not on FB but if you ask Sean Hunt, I was able to give him almost instant balances for my cash box because I balanced it after each event and kept an index card on top listing how much of each denomination I had)
3 May 2016 09:00 - Lullaby
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

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

Ziggy and I went home and fell easily into bed. The only time in my life I’d had this much sex with this little effort or argument about it for this long was while I’d lived in Spain. Well, maybe right at the beginning with Jonathan, too, but as we all know, the easy part didn’t last.

Read the rest of this entry » )
swan_tower: (gaming)

This week over at Book View Cafe, I’m talking about “Different Challenges”: physical vs. mental vs. social, and the different ways those get treated in play.

Comment over there!

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

2 May 2016 22:51 - good old Canada
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Apparently so many Canadians went online to fill out census, we crashed the servers.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Because I missed a week for the Year of Tanith Lee, I am extending the series until the end of 2016. This means I need ten more Tanith Lee title. Open to suggestion. The ones I am already planning to review are:
Read more... )
2 May 2016 16:15 - The problematical author
wcg: (Default)
There is an uncomfortable truth that most worthwhile books were written by people who held ideas that are at odds with current views. One obvious case is Charles Darwin, whose Origin of Species is undoubtedly one of the greatest pieces of scholarship in human history, but who also held ideas about race and society which shock the sensibilities of the present day.

In the sciences, we've learned to separate the good work from the flawed ideas. Watson and Crick will always be acknowledged for their work with DNA (even as many of us also point out the critical contribution of Rosalind Franklin) while their unfortunate pronouncements on topics such as obesity, homosexuality, and religion remind us that even the most brilliant minds are still products of the societies from which they come.

I'm currently reading Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 chapters by Matt Ridley. My previous acquaintance with Ridley has been as a climate change skeptic, and because of that I hesitated to read his book about genetics. But as I near the end of it, I have to confess I've found very little to quibble with, and nothing at all concerning his subject matter of biology and genetics. It is a bit dated now, having originally been published in 1999 before the human genome was sequenced, and updated in 2006, but it is still very, very good.

I recommend it to anyone interested in genetics and/or good science writing.
2 May 2016 11:41 - Tales of Enchantment!
swan_tower: (*writing)

(I play too much Dragon Age. The word “enchantment” always comes out in Sandal’s voice in my head.)

I’m very pleased to announce “Tales of Enchantment,” a giveaway of more than 40 historical fantasy romances, plus a Kindle Fire to read them on. It’s organized by Patricia “Pooks” Burroughs, a fellow member of Book View Cafe, and features various other familiar BVC faces, like Irene Radford, Patricia Rice, and Sherwood Smith.

My own contribution to the bundle is an ebook of Midnight Never Come. Some titles swing the emphasis more toward “history,” some toward “fantasy,” and some toward “romance;” with more than forty books in the pile, there’s plenty to match all kinds of tastes.

The giveaway ends in seven days, so get your name in now! And note that if you share it and somebody else signs up from your share, you get extra chances to win. So spread the word!

Tales of Enchantment giveaway

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

2 May 2016 14:24 - Last night
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Because I was looking down at my phone to post something, I missed that the bus I was on was detoured and got very disoriented. Could not for the life of me work out where in downtown Kitchener I was. Didn't work it out until the bus got to Queen and Joseph.
ceciliatan: (default)

Guest on my blog today is the fab Kayelle Allen, a tour de force in science fiction romance! Her new book, Bringer of Chaos, just went live yesterday!

Get it in print and on Amazon, with other sites coming soon!

Kayelle Allen is a best selling American author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.

Sempervians never die. Neither does their love. Nor their thirst for revenge. The immortal Pietas. Bringer of Chaos. Soul Ripper. Hound of Hell. Impaler. Slayer of Innocents. Hammer of God. If, in the history of a planet, there's a famous despot or killer, chances are it was Pietas. Imprisoned on Sempervia for the last ten thousand years, he's about to be discharged -- not because he's paid his debt to society -- but because he's too violent for the other prisoners to tolerate. Once he's unleashed, the galaxy will never be safe again. Unless the spy among the hundred who dare to follow can find a way to change his path -- or kill him.

Sempervians never die. Neither does their love. Nor their thirst for revenge.
The immortal Pietas. Bringer of Chaos. Soul Ripper. Hound of Hell. Impaler. Slayer of Innocents. Hammer of God. If, in the history of a planet, there’s a famous despot or killer, chances are it was Pietas. Imprisoned on Sempervia for the last ten thousand years, he’s about to be discharged — not because he’s paid his debt to society — but because he’s too violent for the other prisoners to tolerate. Once he’s unleashed, the galaxy will never be safe again. Unless the spy among the hundred who dare to follow can find a way to change his path — or kill him.


Amazon

boc1-bnr-jailer

Romance Lives Forever Reader Group https://kayelleallen.com/bro
Homeworld https://kayelleallen.com
Twitter https://twitter.com/kayelleallen
Facebook https://facebook.com/kayelleallen.author
Pinterest https://pinterest.com/kayelleallen/
G+ https://plus.google.com/+KayelleAllen/

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Welcome to the first of what I hope will be many SF/F Being Awesome posts.

Charity Auction FlyerFor close to 20 years, Balticon and the Baltimore Science Fiction Society have been raising money to provide books to kids — particularly kids who might not otherwise be able to afford them — and to school libraries as well.

I spoke with Kelly Pierce, who’s been coordinating the Bobby Gear Memorial Charity Auction at Balticon since about 2002. The auction raises the bulk of the money for Books for Kids each year.

In the beginning, BSFS Books for Kids worked with RIF (Reading is Fundamental) to buy and hand out the books. When RIF stopped operating in Maryland, BSFS Books for Kids chose to continue, and to distribute the books themselves.

The auction is named in honor of Bobby Gear, who was a BSFS volunteer and teacher at Buck Lodge Middle School, one of the first schools to benefit from the generosity of BSFS Books for Kids.

Since it all began, Balticon and BSFS has probably raised around $50,000 to provide books to libraries and kids in need, with the bulk of that money comes from the annual auction.

Think about that for a moment. Think about how many books this group of fans has passed out. Think about how much that means to kids who might not be able to afford books of their own.

This is what I love about fandom. People don’t just get together to celebrate the stories we love. They pour in hundreds and thousands of hours of work to help others, to share those stories and books with others. To share that love.

For more information:

Thank you Kelly for taking the time to talk to me, and thanks to everyone who’s volunteered and donated and supported BSFS Books for Kids over the years.

Goblin: Keep Being Awesome!!!

Do you have a suggestion for a group, organization, or event to be featured on the blog for general awesomeness? Email me at jchines -at- sff.net, or through my Contact Form.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

1 May 2016 23:35 - Tell me we can be together
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
Rabbit, rabbit. Happy May Day! It occurred to me only after the fact that I seem to have celebrated Walpurgisnacht this year.

The film I had to bolt for at the end of my marathon review of Johnny Eager (1942) was Oz Perkins' The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015), showing last night at the Brattle Theatre as part of IFFBoston. I liked it quite a lot and it is impossible to discuss any aspect of its effectiveness without extensive spoilers; even its genre is not apparent from its early scenes. The people who sat behind me were not very impressed with it, but that's all right, because I was not very impressed with their critical abilities. Sound good? ) It's not a flawless movie, but it's a risky, powerful one. I didn't realize until I got home and was searching for a soundtrack album that The Blackcoat's Daughter made its first round of festival showings under the title February. I don't know the reasons for the change, but I find the later title more evocative, as well as more in keeping with the theme of parents and children to which almost every interaction in the script resonates. It's intelligently written, oblique without being obfuscatory. Nothing in the painterly, atmospheric narrative would hold together on more than an aesthetic level without the acting of Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, and Emma Roberts, all of whom I will be watching out for in future. The score is by Elvis Perkins and I hope it becomes commercially available. I will certainly watch whatever Oz Perkins does next. This winter's chill brought to you by my waiting backers at Patreon.
kate_nepveu: Captain America's shield (Captain America (shield))
It's now out in at least two non-US countries, so, Internet who knows me and has seen it/reads spoilers, should I see it? I originally thought I wasn't seeing this without thorough spoilers, and I've changed my mind, I just want to know the following:

spoilers only insofar as you consider trailers spoilers )
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