a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
24 April 2014 17:27 - lizard stories
yhlee: kitty with paw outstretched (kitty paw (evil_little_dog))
Lizard: "Do you think we should make a sequel to the story?"
Me: "...I think you should finish this story before talking about making a sequel to it, is what I think."

I actually do realize that I cannot save the lizard from committing every writing sin on the planet along the way, but I'm trying to save her from the big ones?

(The lizard laughed when she saw this and started dancing.)
24 April 2014 16:38 - lizard stories
yhlee: Shuos Jedao (Hellspin Fortress) (hxx Jedao 1x10^6)
Lizard (who is on spring break) wants to write a story about unicorns with me.

I ask her what the unicorn's starting situation is.

Lizard: "She's in a place that she doesn't know and she has lost all memories of her past life."

24 April 2014 16:18 - Orphan Black 1.2
yhlee: Jaina from Yomi Games, Ace of Spades (Yomi Jaina)
I'm loving this and also where do I go for the icons? spoilers, although I'm behind everyone else )

Looking forward to more!

Non-spoilerishly, I think the scoring is in general extremely effective, although not something I'd listen to independently of the show (but that's frequently true of Western TV for me). I am, however, baffled by the choice of theme music because it's just weird and jars with my impressions of the show's tone. Is it just me?




There may be a reason that fungus is always evil fungus in my stories. I wish I could blame that National Geographic article on slime molds with its graphic full-color photography I read back in the...late '80s?, but to be honest, I was freaked out by fungoid things even earlier than that.

Please don't send fungus photos. It would be mean. :]
yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
A History of the Great Empires of Eve Online (proposed to be a book). If nothing else, it sounds like it would make fabulous airport reading. I don't usually bother with book/zine Kickstarters because face it, I read really slowly these days and my Kindle is full of things like gamebooks and NAP reports that I, uh, still haven't gotten around to. But good airport reading is always worth stocking up on, and unfortunately I find fiction much harder to read than used to be the case. :(

Joe might even have forgiven me for mentioning IN PRINT about the time he WOULDN'T ANSWER MY BLACK HOLE QUESTION (for "Swanwatch") DESPITE BEING A REALIO TRULIO GRAVITATIONAL ASTROPHYSICIST because he was OFF SCREWING AROUND IN LOWSEC. So, just to be sure, I MUST MENTION IT AGAIN.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

William H. “Bill” Patterson Jr., author of the Hugo-nominated Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue With His Century, Vol. 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve, died April 22, only a month before the second and final volume of the biography will be released.
swan_tower: (Default)

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

By the time I went on my honeymoon, I was starting to get better at photographic composition. This one especially pleased me, with the dolphins in the foreground, the crumbling walls in the background, and the intense blue of the harbor at Rhodes to contrast with the sculpture and the sky.

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

24 April 2014 10:00 - Night and Day
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

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

(Yes! A completely new Daron post at last!)

Let me tell you what it’s like to pick up a Fender Stratocaster for the first time in seven (or was it eight?) months. On stage I had pretty much always split my time between the Ovation and the Strat. Switching between them had become second nature to me. But then I had spent most of the year in Spain where I played the Ovation every day.

I couldn’t believe how heavy the Strat felt. I had criss-crossed North America with it strapped to my body; how had I never noticed how heavy it was? A Stratocaster is solid wood. They say Les Paul made the very first electric guitar from a railroad tie. I believe it. Ovations have carbon fiber shells, as light and tough as scarab beetle wings.

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

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

This fellow stands on a monument to the Battle of Grunwald, just north of the Stare Miasto in Kraków. He’s actually celebrating the victory of Polish and Lithuanian forces over the Teutonic Knights . . . but the dude looks like he’s belting out an opera aria on the topic.

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

24 April 2014 08:12 - Mets Defense, Part 2
As I noted a few days ago, the Mets are going to disappoint me a lot this season, because although great starting pitching and defenses are requirements for a winning team, they're not enough, and a lack of a bullpen will do them in.

But in the meantime, here's three great plays in one, as Kurt Nieuwenhuis throws to Rubén Tejada to Travis d'Arnaud (who makes a perfect tag) to nail the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth. That's what baseball's about.
23 April 2014 23:47 - It seemed to last for days
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
We have a stove. All four burners work without needing to be lit by hand. The oven works. The broiler works. None of it has been inhabited by small animals or encrusted in years of ignored grease. It was delivered this afternoon by subcontractors from Sears; when they left, they took the old one away. For the first time since we moved here in October, I will be able to bake without using the toaster oven.

(I will probably still make lasagna in the toaster oven, because I want to see if I can. But after that, I don't know, I could make cookies or a pie or something. Or broil a chicken. Or bake noodles and cheese. This is going to be awesome.)
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Still discussion happening in my Hugo reactions post, if that was a thing that interested you at the time; it seems to have had a slow trickle out onto Twitter, sped up today by John Scalzi linking to it and other criticisms of his position from Shweta Narayan, Arachne Jericho, and Rose Lemberg.

I explained why I took a somewhat different approach than those posters in a comment on my old post, but the criticisms of Rose Lemberg, and SL Huang, about the idea of "merits" generally, are important and worth reading as a broadly-applicable matter. (To be clear, I also recommend Shweta and Arachne's posts as powerful and important, they're just a little more focused on the specifics of this discussion.)

A link roundup is being maintained by Stefan Raets.

I'm going to again err on the side of caution and screen anon comments; I will unscreen them as soon as I can if they're consistent with the policy statements in my profile. So far I haven't had to keep anything screened; I will say so if I do. But, if you have substantive comments rather than something about these links, I'd appreciate it if you took it to the original post, because I hate split discussions.

And now, I must go wash dishes.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Setting: Steel City, a city much like Detroit on one of the Great Lakes, in the Concord setting (an old homegrown campaign from the 1980s). The city hasn't had a sanctioned team of supers in a generation but happily a mass Origin is going to give the city a chance to address that lack.

Rather unfortunately from the point of view of the government, the Origin happened at an Occupy Steel City rally, so the mix of characters is going to be broader than the government might prefer.
23 April 2014 20:35 - a day for picspam
yhlee: Hexarch Nirai Kujen (Doll Family H LingFeng) (hxx Kujen Doll)
Flowers, lizards, random Back to the Future car mod sightings, that kind of thing.

images )
23 April 2014 21:36 - Exit 13th Age
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Schedule conflicts mean yet more long gaps between sessions so our 13th Age campaign is shutting down.
23 April 2014 17:54 - Wow
“There’s a culture of people in State College that clearly appreciates what Joe has done," says a classy dudebro who realizes that winning football games is so much more important than, you know, not covering up for child rapists.

Incidentally, if I get an alert that anyone on my Kickstarter friends list has sponsored this, we're going to have words.
23 April 2014 13:08 - Highlights So Far
pantryslut: (Default)
I tried to write up a convincing discussion of my current alienation from parentdom as regards educational goals and ideals but I fell down on the job.

In the meantime I am spending time earning money (short-term contract), signing the kids up for summer camps, negotiating the terms of my divorce and enjoying the weather. Did I mention I was diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency a while back? I think I did. It turns out to be rather mild as these things go, upon further investigation. I'm taking my supplements and risking the no-sunscreen look.

I also cleaned out my closet today. I have a lot of shoes to give away.
pantryslut: (Default)
Les Mis progress:

518 / 755 (68.61%)

That "digression" about slang (see my previous theory that the "plot" bits of Les Mis are the *actual* digressions) turned out to be much longer than I thought. I suspect this is one of the sections that is often abridged, if for no other reason than it must be a beast to translate. But we're through to the other side; time for more romance.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Ibid has worked out how to get up to the top shelf of the book case in my bedroom and from there to the top of the door, just as Fig did months ago.

What he can't do is get back down....
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
(In which I draw too many conclusions from etymology.)

Is the world of Ancillary Justice our far future? When people in this setting say human, do they mean Homo sapiens? It only occurred to me to wonder last night after I realized that Radch is cognate with Raj and Reich; before that I would cheerfully have assumed the story was taking place anywhere with comparably hominid sexual dimorphism, in the same way that secondary-world fantasies never worry about parallel evolution. I'm still not sure it's relevant. Nice way of embedding echoes, though.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Under Ontario's Liquor Control Act, Brewers Retail is the only retailer permitted to sell beer for off-site consumption, except for stores on the site of a brewery, locations of the provincial government-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), and LCBO-authorized agency stores in certain smaller communities.[...] The act and the company's articles of incorporation further stipulate that Brewers Retail cannot sell "hard liquor" (spirits), or consumer goods (like groceries).

Reaction has not been 100% favourable.
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

This weekend, I’m off to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in Colorado, where I’ll be joining Chuck Wendig, Gail Carriger, and Hank Phillippi Ryan as Keynote Speakers for the event.

I’ll also be presenting a workshop on getting through your first draft, doing some panels, and chasing Chuck around with a cupcake gun I borrowed from Delilah Dawson. Supersonic chocolate cupcakes OF DEATH!

Anyway, here’s the schedule, for anyone who might want to stop by. And if you don’t want to stop by, that’s fine. I DIDN’T WANT YOU AT MY PANEL ANYWAY! ::Sniff::


  • 2:30 – Read & Critique 123, Aspen Leaf (with Terri Bischoff, Carlisle Webber)
  • 4:00 – Workshop: Getting Through Draft One, Salon BC


  • 9:10 – Mythbusting Keynotes (Q&A Session), Aspen Leaf (with Gail Carriger, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Chuck Wendig)
  • 11:45 – Lunch and my Keynote Speech, Ballroom
  • 1:15 – Booksigning, Aspen Leaf
  • 3:10 – Diversity: It Isn’t Just for Breakfast Anymore, Aspen Leaf (with Chuck Wendig, Carol Berg, Amy Boggs. Facilitator:
    Patrick Hester)
  • 7 – Zebulon Awards Dinner, Ballroom

This should be a lot of fun. How do I know? Well, among other reasons, it’s because the bar will be serving Brass Goggles, Primetime, Goblin Wiz, and F-Bomb:


From left to right:

  • Gail Carriger’s Brass Goggles: 1 1/2 OZ Scotch Whiskey, 2 dash bitters, 1 OZ club soda.
  • Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Primetime Martini: 1 1/2 OZ Vodka, 1 1/2 OZ Sweet & Sour, 1/2 OZ Grenadine
  • Jim C. Hines’ Goblin Wiz: 1/2 OZ Midori, 1/2 OZ Tequila, 1/2 OZ Sweet & Sour, On the Rocks
  • Chuck Wendig’s F-Bomb: 1 OZ Vodka, 1 OZ Red Bull, 1 OZ Cranberry, On the Rocks

As a general rule, I don’t drink, but I may need to make an exception this weekend :-)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

22 April 2014 23:27 - good things
jinian: (learning kyo)
1. Slept much better than I have lately after discussing self-soothing strategies and taking a bath (for which I cleverly rigged lighting so I could read Year of the Griffin in the tub despite my terrible bathroom configuration).

2. I do not understand how this happened, but this happened:

[image of a huge mechanical crane with its front wheels entirely off the ground]

3. Rainbowgrads is updating their constitution. I am so happy that my little organization is still holding together and doing things!

4. Cracked myself up with my own reaction to these vaginal fingering techniques when I got to "Cervix Clock" -- I made a terrible face, squirmed, thought "ewww noooo", and actually crossed my legs. (This undermines all my grand pronouncements about having a reaction-filter pretty thoroughly, doesn't it?) Some of the others were just like "who came up with THAT?" and the cumulative effect of the whole strangely creative and specific page had me crying with suppressed laughter (because of course I was reading this at work).

5. More crying at work, courtesy of Greg Rucka. "I am the father of a daughter, and she is my light, and she shines, and I want for her every-fucking-thing she desires, and I want those things for her earned, not given; I want for her the reward of effort. I want for her inclusion. I want for her validation. I want for her a world that recognizes her worth as a human being." YES. That fiercest love. (Emphasis mine.)
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
Fifty years ago today, the 1964 World's Fair opened in Flushing Meadows. Both of my parents remember going, separately—my mother was eighteen, my father twelve. My grandmother had put aside half dollars until she had enough to pay the admission fees for her three children and give them each ten dollars to spend. My mother vividly remembers eating Belgian waffles for the first time. (My father had texted me with news of the anniversary earlier today: the waffle part, specifically.) In honor of the Brussels waffles of 1964, [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel and I tried to go out for Belgian waffles tonight, but all of the usual suspects—SoundBites, the Toast—were closed. We ended up at iYo, where Rob skilfully negotiated the DIY waffles (hey, with mention of the World's Fair) and I put a bunch of strawberries on green apple frozen yogurt (it worked for me). I am baffled by the apparent citywide assumption that no one wants waffles after nine at night. It's like bagels at four in the morning. Doesn't everybody?

Earlier in the day I was at Porter Square Books, where two very nice things occurred.

First, I discovered—and pounced upon, and purchased before it could vanish—the first anthology of modernist poetry I've seen whose biographical notes openly discuss H.D. as polyamorous and bisexual. Her relationship with Frances Gregg is given equal weight with her relationship with Ezra Pound: "another young poet . . . similarly intense and romantic." Mention is made of the brief period in 1910 when both women were involved with him. Bryher in 1918 is introduced as "a young novelist" rather than the more usual and dismissive "heiress"; her relationship with H.D. is unambiguously "lifelong." The table of contents is missing her own poetry, sadly, but it does include one of Gregg's poems to H.D.—I hadn't even known that existed. I wish the afterword had not persisted in referring to H.D. by her given last name rather than her chosen initials, but at least it doesn't make the same mistake with Bryher. There's more to be acknowledged and celebrated there, but it's a better start than Norman Holmes Pearson. And I am sure this is not the most intersectional collection of poems that could have been chosen out of the Modernist movement, but there are queer women in it, women of color, disabled women, women with differing degrees of education and profession, women who had children and didn't, women who died young and didn't, Jewish women, Dadaist women, women I'd never heard of; there are sixteen of them selected for this book and all of them wrote. I'm looking forward to spending more time with them.

Second, I picked up a copy of Ellen Datlow's Lovecraft's Monsters. I hadn't seen the table of contents before. (It's a very tempting one. I need a better book income.) It reprints a poem I published. That has never happened to me before and I am curiously cheerful about it.

I need to write a pastiche of Dorothy Parker. I want to conclude with the following true fact:

"And I just got spam from Romania."
22 April 2014 18:17 - Cemetery visit
wcg: (Default)
April 21st is noted in Texas history as San Jacinto Day, marking the victory of the Texas forces against the Mexican Army which secured Texas independence. It's also Aggie Muster Day, when alumni of Texas A&M University gather together and mark the passing of those who have died in the past year. I was there at A&M in 2002, to be with Paula as she called out her father's name.
Read more... )
22 April 2014 17:21
yhlee: snowflake (StoryNexus: snowflake)
For the easily amused: Leticia Lara & Odo at Sense of Wonder interviewed me. There is also a Spanish translation. (I wish I had time to learn Spanish too!) Wherein you can see scans of the zines I have been foreignly translated into. :p

Meanwhile, is it a sad commentary that I keep having to look up >>cyclinglink<< macro syntax in Twine despite using it reasonably frequently? Now you know why I switched out of comp sci and into math.
swan_tower: (Default)

Just a reminder that the Design Your Own Dragon contest will be ending in a little more than a week, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 30th. This is your chance not only to win an ARC of Voyage of the Basilisk (once we have some on hand), but to have your very own creation included in the Memoirs of Lady Trent. I may choose up to three winners, depending partly on how many entries I get — so in a sense, the more of you that enter, the better your chances are!

(Okay, really I’m just selfish. I’ve enjoyed the heck out of reading the entries thus far, and am eager to see what else people come up with.)

E-mail your submissions to dragons.of.trent {at} gmail.com. You’ve got about one week left!

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

22 April 2014 12:42 - [art] here, have some more comics
yhlee: Shuos Jedao (Hellspin Fortress) (hxx Jedao 1x10^6)

With apologies to Sergeant Sagara and Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu. (Uh, just to be clear, that's Jedao and Cheris. Although Jedao isn't quite this stupid usually.)

Drawing Words, Writing Pictures had this fun exercise that the lizard and I both did. Hers came out better, I think, but honestly the lizard is more artistic than I am. :) Read more... )

The next chapter's assignment, which I decline to upload so that I don't get my @$$ sued off, is a comic jumble--you take panels from a day's comic page (I just printed off random stuff I found on webcomics) and then attempt to create a coherent comic narrative illustrating the 7? kinds of transitions on the way. I used Claymore, Terminal Lance, Piled Higher and Deeper, Peanuts, and a couple other random things. (You're allowed to overlook "superficial" differences in character design--any cat can be The Cat Character, for instance.) The result was wacky and the actual trying to make something coherent part had me tearing out my hair for over an hour, but it was fun in a masochistic kind of way.
22 April 2014 12:13 - "It would not be logical"
rosefox: A Victorian woman glares and says "Fuck's sake, what a cock"; someone out of the frame says "mm". (angry)
Recently I read yet another book where the character I most identify with ended up sad and alone after the death of her beloved partner. Reader, I am fucking done with these books. DONE. Done done done.

If you nodded along to Ferrett's post about how the "logic" underpinning all-white and all-male award nomination lists is suspect, then nod along to this. Every time a lesbian dies, every time a wife is widowed, every time a mother grieves the death of her child, every time rape is used to define a woman's character, it serves the story that the author wanted to tell--the story the author chose to tell. And I am no longer content with "it makes sense in the context of the story" as an explanation or an excuse. That "logic" is just as suspect.


Tell stories where it doesn't make sense for her husband or wife to die. Tell stories where her child dying is unfathomable. Tell stories where women live happy fulfilling lives. Tell stories where women find love and don't lose it again. Tell stories where women and their bodies aren't treated like objects.

Tell stories where women are happy, where a woman's happiness makes sense in the context of the story, where a woman's happiness serves the story, where a woman's happiness is integral to the plot. Tell stories where women's hearts and minds and bodies and families and vocations are healthy, and treated with respect by other people.

Tell stories where women are happy.

This should not be such an outrageous suggestion. But take a look at recent SF/F, at the books that get awards, at the books that get talked about, and it is entirely and utterly radical.

Tell stories where women are happy. I dare you. And I'm begging you, please. I can't handle any more unhappy women. I can't. It's why I read romance more than SF/F these days. I don't identify as a woman anymore, but that doesn't stop me from identifying with women, and they are all so sad and I can't do it. Stop showing me how tough and realistic your grimdark is by making the women as miserable as the men. Stop showing me how exciting and dangerous your space adventure is by putting the women through as many trials as the men. I believe you, okay? It's tough and realistic, it's exciting and dangerous, I believe you, you can stop now.

It will be hard the first few times, because it's so alien, this notion of women's happiness. But you'll get used to it, once you can adjust your ideas of what's "logical".

Tell stories where women are happy. Go on. Give it a try.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

(Picture is a link)

In what fellow FASS member Mark Jackson-Brown charmingly refers to as "the Before Times [1]", book distribution in Ontario was pretty patchy and while I remember that word of mouth on rec.arts.sf-lovers was very positive about The Steerswoman, I didn't manage to find a copy of it for my own until 1993, four years after it was published. I can tell this because when I look at the back of my copy it has a sticker from A Second Look Books dated 1993. Which I guess means the author didn't make any money off me so let's move quickly on to the next paragraph.

These books are what SF should aspire to be; it is a shame they are not more widely known.

There will be some spoilers. Read more... )
swan_tower: (Default)

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

This is another one I dropped a filter on, in this case because doing so made the sculptural details more distinct. It’s one of the tympana over the entrances to Notre Dame, and reminds me oddly of the temples we visited India, which is the only other place I’ve ever seen that density and intricacy of carving over a large surface. (Though if this had been an Indian temple instead of a French cathedral, the whole building would have been carved like that.)

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

22 April 2014 10:00 - Prodigal Blues
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

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

(Kickstarter Update! Wow, fundraising really flatlined over the Easter Weekend… so we’ve been stuck making almost no progress since last Thursday’s post. Here’s the link to donate or see the details! http://kck.st/R31kCx -ctan)

When the only thing I could get on such short notice at the Seville airport was a British Airways flight to London, I decided I might as well take it. One more country to check off the list, right? I took the flight since it wasn’t insanely expensive, and booked the seven-day advanced flight from London to Boston while I was at it, since the amount I saved was more than enough to get me a hostel and feed me for a week.

Read the rest of this entry » )
22 April 2014 09:44 - When was the most recent time
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Baen Books found a new author on the sales level of a Weber, Bujold or a Moon?
The Mets won't offer me a whole lot of joy this year, but this double play will go on the highlight reels for both Tejada and Murphy.
22 April 2014 03:54 - "Dona nobis pacem"
rosefox: A needle drawing thread that forms the word "Love". (family)
Today was a lot better than yesterday. X fought off gluten-poisoning to meet me after work and brave the perfumed chaos of BB&B, and we got curtains and curtain rods and various other useful things. We took a cab over to the new apartment and installed curtains and were happy.

I got some hooks that hang off of cabinet doors (super useful!) and while I was figuring out which doors to put them on, I realized that I hadn't yet had a chance to ask X the all-important question of "which drawer do you assume the silverware is in?".

R: Hey, I have a question for you that I asked Josh already.
X: Yes, I will marry you.
R: *stammers and blushes and grins like a fool for several minutes*

We held each other in our new kitchen and it felt like home, our home, our family home.

And then I asked about the silverware drawer and we both felt (as J had) that it should be one of the middle ones because towels go nearest the sink and cooking utensils go nearest the stove. We all tend to be very in tune around things like that. It makes things so lovely and easy.

Later on, as we were walking back to the old place from the subway:

X: Huh, there was something I was going to ask you...
R: Yes, I will marry you.
X: Well, FINALLY. I've been waiting for ages!

And there you have the difference between the two of us. :) But it's just a different kind of in tune, really. Sappiness and silliness, melody and harmony.

Just five more days.
rosefox: A giant X and the word "IRRITANT". (annoyed)
Fun things, Apr 17: ...no idea, that was a million years ago
Apr 18: went by the new place after therping and immediately felt less stressed
Apr 19: packing party! and then dinner with J, and another trip to the new place, and watching The Princess Bride with X
Apr 20: another nice dinner out with J, and companionable packing with X
Apr 21: X and I got curtains and other things at BB&B and installed them (except the shower curtain rings, which are too big for the grommets on our shower curtain)

Yes, all the joy in my life right now comes from packing and interior decorating. This will be true for another few weeks at least.

Media log:

33) The Princess Bride. (Movie.) Rewatch, of course. It remains brilliant, but I kept thinking "This scene is better in the book!" and now I want to reread the book. Cary Elwes is so young. I continue to ship Humperdink/Rugen like whoa.

I mean, what is there to say about it, really? We've all seen it a billion times. It's one of the wittiest and most quotable scripts ever written, Wesley castigating Buttercup for marrying someone else after she thought he was dead is kind of tiresome (especially given all his later assertions about true love--if it's Meant to Be and all that, why did he ever doubt her?) but over quickly, the acting is phenomenal even if Mandy Patinkin's broad Spanish accent is cringeworthy these days, and I will always love the fencing scene to tiny little itty bitty pieces. I appreciate Andre the Giant more than ever--his Fezzik is such a wonderful portrayal of a man who's not nearly as short on brains as everyone else thinks he is, and is more bighearted and noble than anyone else imagines, a perfect paladin minus the armor--and Wallace Shawn is incomparable. Carol Kane and Billy Crystal are so splendid that you barely stop to wonder how a couple of Brooklyn Jews ended up working miracles and eating MLTs in Florin. They're all marvelous.

Except, oddly, Robin Wright, who is wooden and one-note throughout. But she's given far less to work with than anyone else in the film; Buttercup really is the dolt that Fezzik is supposed to be, with no redeeming qualities except for her perfect breasts. Note that literally none of the famous quotable lines are hers. She's the straight man for Wesley's wisecracks, and then she sets him up to die away from her because she can't bear him dying in front of her. Inigo immediately knows that the cry of ultimate suffering is Wesley's; Buttercup is baffled by it. Her one shining moment is "You never sent those ships", and that realization is so completely belated that all I could do was roll my eyes. I'm surprised Fezzik remembered to steal a horse for her, given that she's more of a quest object than a person.

Oh well. All the men and Carol Kane are great, anyway.

One intriguing side effect of spending so much time doing literary criticism is that I was totally fascinated by the grandson arguing with the book whenever it diverged from his culturally mediated expectations of a fairy tale. "You got that wrong, grandpa!" He hates "kissing books" but he knows enough about romance conventions to know that Wesley has to get the girl and Humperdink has to die (and he's so mad when his grandfather tells him that Humperdink lives--that's not how it's done!). It's a fascinating little study on how quickly and thoroughly children absorb the tropes we feed them, and it helps to make up for the movie being more of a fawning homage to cliché than a sneaky send-up.

Verdict: The book is better. (Not least because it is much more of a sneaky send-up, including the greatly superior ending.) But the movie is still great.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? I expect we'll wear out the DVD. I plan to read them the book, too. Including the descriptions of the boring parts.

34) My Real Children by Jo Walton. (Book.) NOTE: The following contains spoilers, and also a major spoiler for the Small Change books (Farthing/Ha'Penny/Half a Crown). If you don't want those, stop reading now.

Spoilers ahoy )

Verdict: Annoying verging on upsetting.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Tolerate. It's not inherently offensive or objectionable. It's just not in any way my thing.
21 April 2014 22:41 - good things
jinian: (c'est la vie)
1. Came home early (due to migraine, sigh) and ate healthy food and swanned about in a t-shirt, a slip, and beribboned knee socks.

2. Stoned migraine dreams are really quite something.

3. Ran into my friend after being magically summoned into chat! I'm glad I got to see him, even if briefly.
22 April 2014 00:29 - alarming realizations
yhlee: a plush raven on a plush fox (hxx Cheris Jedao)
My natural form is not the short story, it is the unending soap opera.

Translation: I am so lazy about creating characters that once I have discovered a set that I like, I never want to stop pummeling them, as opposed to having to create entire new sets, to say nothing of entire new settings, each time I start something.

Related: You know what the nice thing about composing is? I never ever have to put people in. Why yes, I might be slightly smug about how those violin I double stops are sounding in the partial temp render of that one passage of "Ninefox March" that I knocked out on my day-of-Yoon-goofing-off.
21 April 2014 23:24 - XYZZY Writing reviews
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
For those interested in IF, my reviews of the 2013 XYZZY Writing finalists, Lynnea Glasser's Coloratura, porpentine's their angelical understanding, and Brendan Patrick Hennessy's You Will Select a Decision (two-parter). Assume that the reviews spoil everything.

I recommend all three games highly, for highly divergent reasons, and wish I'd had time for more playthroughs. (I had the Horrible Three-Week Flu when I was supposed to be doing this.) Coloratura is excellent alien sf/horror, their angelical understanding is beautiful and surreal (PLEASE pay attention to the content notes; in particular, I'm hard to shock with suicidal anything, but while I don't have epilepsy, I do get migraines and the "possible epilepsy trigger" has me clicking madly trying to get the blinking flashing screen to stop), and You Will Select a Decision, the fastest-playing of the lot, is cracky parodic humor.

Anyway, I am like one of the most delinquent members of the IF community, to the point where it's kind of stretching a point calling me a member of the IF community, but I am only glad that I didn't vote because choosing would be OMG so hard. I am very, very impressed.
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
1. This afternoon's mail brought my contributor's copy of Not One of Us #51. (We were on our way out the door, so I took it with me and read excerpts on the subway.) To my delight, [livejournal.com profile] ashlyme and I appear in the same issue with stories dedicated to each other: his is the autumnal, fairy-fruiting "A Portrait in Rust" and mine is "The True Alchemist," which takes its title from him. I wrote it in December after dreaming that I had. Also included is my poem "Similes," which I wrote in February about the recognition of being happy. I do not assume it was the last time. It's a powerhouse issue; there's even a fantastic, Grant Wood-like photo at the centerfold. The theme is not dead yet: a good reminder for spring.

2. Yesterday being simultaneously Easter, a deadline, and the first MIT Swapfest of the season (I bought an antique advertisement for hair tonic featuring a shoal of mermaids who wrecked a ship to get it), I forgot to mention that my poem "The Etruscan Prince" is now available in the latest issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone. It was written last October after the discovery of the seventh-century tomb in Tarquinia whose occupants were identified by the grave goods buried with them—a spear for the husband, a jewelry box for the wife—before further analysis of the remains demonstrated that the objects in fact belonged the other way round. Print and electronic copies are inexpensively available here; otherwise you can wait six months and it all goes online for free. I am especially pleased to be sharing a table of contents with [livejournal.com profile] prezzey.

3. I spent the evening at a double feature of The Muppet Movie (1979) and The Great Muppet Caper (1981). It is impossible for me to overstate the degree to which these films wired themselves into my brain as a child. I watched them repeatedly on video. I had particular lines that stuck with me and actors I would recognize before I knew the pop culture they belonged to and I especially loved Brigham's pistachio ice cream because it was the closest in color to Kermit's dragonfly ripple. (Sadly, the ice cream really closest in color turns out to be green tea, which I can't eat. If anyone ever finds a way of decaffeinating it sufficiently to avert the migraine, I'm there.) I hadn't seen either one in at least fifteen years and never on a big screen. I'd estimate that about eighty-five percent of the script for The Muppet Movie and a solid half-to-sixty of The Great Muppet Caper is just there in my memory. Who knew? [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel came with me; [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks joined us for the second film. It wasn't a nostalgic experience, just a great one. The Muppet Movie is such an incredible handmade thing. The two of them back-to-back are a primer in metafiction. Even if the Brattle's print of The Great Muppet Caper seemed to miss a few seconds here and there (RENOIR!), it was probably the best use I could have made of my night.
21 April 2014 22:27 - let's play zine
yhlee: Night Vale clock (Night Vale (credit: <user name="busaikko)
While I'm here, is it normal to have memory problems right after a pounding migraine? I just realized that I can't remember the name of the one zine I ever slushed for. I already have trouble remembering words, which I don't know if that's bipolar, bipolar meds, or just getting older, but this is unusually bad and I'm kind of hoping it's temporary.

My sister and I used to talk pie-in-the-sky about starting an sf/f zine. We would not do it because OMG THE TIMESUCK (I have once been a slushreader) and also we agree that our tastes are just too weird to ever find enough of a readership to, you know, not go broke. :p But in a land of INFINITE MONEY AND JOYOUS NARCISSISTIC SKIFFY GREED, what would your ideal edited-all-by-me-just-for-me zine have? ETA: where by me I mean you. I am curious about what other people's dreamzines would have! I already know what mine would have. ^_^

I'll start! Big space battles. (Sometimes, not all the time. Variety is good! But send your imaginary big space battle stories to imaginary meeeeeeeee.) Stories by people and featuring characters who are not all-white-cis-het-guy all the time. Also, it would be online yet also print things up to 20,000 words. This is pure greed; not that I'd publish myself if I were editing a zine, but I am distinctly influenced by the fact that I handed in "The Battle of Candle Arc" at 8,000 words because that's Clarkesworld's cutoff length. The original draft was 10,000 words long. In reality the story needed to be about 12,000 words long for the combat system to make more sense so even the rough draft was being written compressedly . Sorry, guys! I am fallible.

And on the writer end, because I still am not over the fact that these exist, one of those cool online tracking systems for online submissions with those totally nonlinearly-moving queues! Or at least, as far as I can tell, those things are exactly like software installation progress bars on my computer, except I don't care because reloading the URL repeatedly is both emotionally satisfying and keeps me from personally bugging hell out of whoever is slushing, which I'm sure the slushers appreciate. :p Anyway, I love online submissions because I am lazy (even if it increases the odds that I will misspell my own damn name, which is embarrassing considering how short it is) and I love online tracking systems.

Also, someone on the editorial team who loves to do crunchy statistics things. I never took stats and roll a natural 1 every time I'm confronted by Excel, I KNOW THE SHAME.

What do you want in your imaginary zine?
21 April 2014 22:04 - Reading Nancy + Blood Music
yhlee: Night Vale clock (Night Vale (credit: <user name="busaikko)
- recent reading
How to Read Nancy by Mark Newgarden and Paul Karasik [PDF]. An analysis of a gag comic. Really good!

Blood Music by Greg Bear. (Inspired to read this by the fact that I was seeking out Queen of Angels, which I'm rereading; I'm sure QoA is problematic as spork but I imprinted on it in HS, so I'm curious.) I was spoiled for the end of the novel version of this, although I read the short story version back in the late '90s; OTOH I can't remember if the short story version was very close to the novel version, because all I remember about "Blood Music" the story is "intelligent nanoplague run loose." (This is not, you know, spoiling anything...)

I apologize in advance for making hash of the science that Greg Bear no doubt carefully knew/researched. Not only am I not a scientist, I don't remember any biology from HS bio, and I read this while at the library with a pounding migraine. :] There were things in here with anaphase and -ase (biology chemical thingies?) and centrifuges and so on. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't recognize a centrifuge even if one fell on me. I am sorry for being the stupidest sf reader on the planet. But I was entertained by the read, even if I have some problems with it?

Anyway, we have a scientist, Vergil, who gets caught doing experiments with biologics--basically getting cellular-ish bits to do computations. I am blanking on the name, but the idea is basically all the "junk" DNA (I think the name was incodons, except that looks wrong when I type it out; it started with in- and ended with -on and I suck at Google) can actually be used to do /slave molecular TI-86/ calculations. He gets fired with prejudice and is threatened to be run out of a job anywhere (this seems to be some version of blackening his name everywhere, which I'm not entirely clear how it works, but Vergil has a disagreeable personality and slovenly habits, hacked his way into his degrees although he really is mad-scientist brilliant, and hardly anyone likes him) so in desperation and out of an interesting maternal feeling toward his experimental cellular creations, he injects himself with the biologics and hightails it out of there.

I don't think the fact that (a) injecting yourself with not-entirely-understood germs and (b) RESULTING INTELLIPLAGUEPOCALYPSE are surprises to anyone who has ever read a comic book. In fact, I think it's even mentioned that Vergil used to read comic books, which makes it all the more interesting that he thinks this is a useful plan. Bear emphasizes that Vergil sucks at thinking through long-term consequences over and over like this will paper over this point. Admittedly the bioplague starts out by making "good" changes to its hosts (like fixing Vergil's myopia), but then, RESULTING INTELLIPLAGUEPOCALYPSE.

I'm not sure whether the funniest scene in the entire book is the shower scene (you will know exactly what I'm referring to if you've read this) or the can opener.

You should also not be surprised when INTELLIPLAGUEPOCALYPSE results in some truly entertaining body horror. Uh, if you find body horror entertaining, which I do. If you don't, please for love of spork stay away from this book. And probably also the short story, but I can't remember for certain and while the library probably had it somewhere, by that point (i.e. after I finished reading the novel) I had given up trying to fight the migraine.

I feel deeply ambivalent about this novel's female characters despite the fact that there is hardly anyone who comes off looking good as a human being. There may or may not have been PoC. I think Vergil is white, or that's my guess from the "emerald-green" eyes (I am completely unable to tell green eyes from any other color eyes despite staring desperately at computer monitors trying to see the difference--at least, I don't know any face-to-face green-eyed people whose eyes my staring intently into in an experiment of this nature would be socially acceptable--which is infuriating but them's the breaks), Suzy is described as (naturally?) blonde, and I lose track of the others because migraine. :(

I note in passing that the characters are not particularly deep as characters, but I don't ever recall reading a Greg Bear work for the characters. However, I don't belong to the school of thought that every work of fiction has to dial up its characterization, and I was in this for the interesting ideas, so fairly shallow, plot-device-y characters were a-okay by me. (Yes. This is self-interested, because fairly shallow, plot-device-y characters are what I do. Live what you preach? I mean, not that I aspire to Greg Bear-ish hard sf, unfortunately.)

actual spoilers )

Overall I'm pleased; a nice, taut 250-page THANK GOD NOT OVER 250 PAGES hard sf novel. Admittedly the ending has what I would identify as what [personal profile] hebethen called his really mystical streak (binary millennium in Queen of Angels, I'm looking at you) and it killed a couple hours that I was going to spend migrainated anyway.

Oh, and for lagniappe, the library copy I read had the first three swear words underlined in pencil, but none of the actual typos. I can't decide whether it's a better story that this was due to some kind of hypervigilant prurience (seriously, you expect a story about SUPERINTELLIPLAGUEPOCALYPSE not to have swears?) or, possibly, some adolescent diligently attempting to learn how to use swears correctly.

You know, it's too bad I can't get paid for writing ridiculous blog posts about books, except then I would have to commit to reading recent books. Also possibly providing actual litcrit value instead of snark. Alas, I don't think anyone's interested in hearing about old books. *wry g*
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
The winners were as follows:

Best Article: John Garth, “Tolkien and the boy who didn’t believe in fairies“

Best Artwork: Jenny Dolfen, “Eärendil the Mariner“

Best Book: Paul Simpson and Brian Robb, Middle-Earth Envisioned

Best Novel: J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Fall of Arthur

Best Website: Emil Johansson, LOTR Project

Outstanding Contribution Award: Christopher Tolkien

Total F   M   mu   F/T
 6    1   5        17%
21 April 2014 16:51 - Today's factoid
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Not terribly surprising: The ratios of box office outside the US to box office sales inside the US for three movies:

Pacific Rim: 3
Iron Man 3: 2
Ender's Game: 1
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