Saw it last night. It's better than I expected but not as good as many people seem to find it.
I saw it described numerous places as a two-hour chase scene and that just sounded really tiring
, especially combined with its over-the-top aesthetic. But it does know that viewers need quiet moments to catch their breath and the pacing works pretty well—though I misunderstood spoilers and thought the movie ended somewhat sooner than it actually did, so that was a little weird for me.
I've seen a lot of praise for the action scenes, particularly their use of actual vehicles. To me, something about the way the first vehicle sequence was shot didn't make it look any more or less "real" than good CGI—I think it may have been slowing down and speeding up things for effect? It wasn't very engaging, anyway, though not as distancing as the truly terrible opening sequence of Ultron
. By the last big setpiece I was engaged, but that was probably as much emotional as anything. And, overall, the aesthetic was not particularly my thing (except for Imperator Furiosa, Charlize Theron's character, which (a) has her face and (b) is about the most simple thing in the movie).
Yes, it is about the toxicity of masculinity in a sexist world, and yes, there are lots of matter-of-factly disabled characters, including at least one and possibly two protagonists, depending on how you view things. (However, there is just one obviously non-white character.) But enough was done right about sexism and the female characters that three moments spotlighting male characters at the expense of female characters felt particularly jarring to me—not enough to completely overcome the overall effect, but enough to be distracting and unpleasant.
Finally for general comments, many of the logistics make zero sense, as people have noted. The majority of them I can accept as (a) the product of a deranged mind who doesn't care so much about efficiency as supporting a cult (the water distribution, human milk, gasoline wasting) or (b) the price of admission (Max's likely age). The one I can't actually handwave past is Furiosa having the position she does, actually; she's the only woman we see driving rigs or in a position of explicit authority over men, and I have no idea how she could've got there in this atmosphere. There'd be no movie otherwise, so, price of admission, but I care about her unlike Max, so I poke at the question. (Well, I care about Max, but only with Furiosa. I started getting into the action sequences when they started wordlessly working together, handing each other weapons and trading off shots; and as Chad tells me someone said, there is more chemistry in the bit with the shoulder rest than in the entirety of Ultron
Before I get into spoilers, the last thing I can say outside a cut is that that song "Matches" I mentioned last week
is totally apropos to this movie. *puts on repeat*
Now, for spoilers. First a thing that is a moderate spoiler but is also an important content note/trigger warning
that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere (though I haven't been reading a ton of stuff about this movie): ( moderate spoiler, content note/trigger warning )
And now for the rest of the spoilers.( spoilers )
New-to-me trailers: Vacation
. Oh geez, make it stop. (NSFW.)San Andreas
. I am so fucking over the expectation that I will find the deaths of millions entertaining. Especially when the trailer ends with a super-cynical effort to mitigate its own disaster porn by linking to a disaster preparedness website. Fuck. Off.Crimson Peak
. Nice to see a trailer for something I won't see because it looks good
at what it does. (I don't do horror. Which is too bad because, Jessica Chastain's face.)Terminator Genisys
. I like that they're starting with Sarah already badass, but do we really need to keep
doing this? I don't think so.The Transporter Refueled
. I entirely checked out during this, other than to note that Jason Statham apparently is too expensive for these now.
I have been waiting so eagerly to use this subject line. :)
Yesterday I did a few rounds of knitting (v. small rounds, finishing off a baby bootie, but still!) and my arm didn't hurt. And then I played an emulated SNES game with an SNES-style controller for most of an hour, and my right arm didn't hurt except for one small sore spot right along the tendon near the elbow. Also, I spent a good chunk of yesterday hanging out on the grass in Washington Square, sitting and sprawling in various awkward unsupported ways, and my knees didn't hurt at all when I got home.
Today I did another hour of gaming and my arm doesn't hurt, except that one spot... and today there's a bruise rising on that spot from where I whacked it on something, which I belatedly recall doing. So actually the gaming and knitting didn't hurt my arm at all. If I massage the tendon I can get it to grumble, but it's basically fine. And I spent most of the day in bed (getting over a cold, plus general weekend laziness), and my right knee only twinged a tiny bit when I went out for a walk with J in the evening.
I should send my physiotherapist flowers. And go do my nightly exercises, because clearly they're working.
But the locks on the sliding glass window over the screen are frozen so I propped the door open.
I am in the middle of editing something and I hear a squawk. Look up and there's a crow standing in the door, looking at me, then at the empty cat dish outside.
I dreamed that Bill O'Reilly (yes, the pundit) ran an internet cafe in my dreamworld version of San Francisco. J and I went to a movie, and afterwards we went over to the cafe. Bill looked very sad when I came in and said he was hurt because he and I used to be friends but then I stopped coming to the cafe without saying goodbye. I was sort of confused by this because I didn't really remember us being friends. I looked at his blog and there were lots of people saying nasty things about me in the comments, and he wasn't precisely encouraging them but he sure wasn't shutting them down. I pointed it out to him and said that was hardly the behavior of someone who thought of me as a friend. J and I were quite incredulous about the whole thing. We tried not to laugh where he could hear us but it was clearly absurd. When we left he was still being sad at me, futilely.
(I was going to chalk this one up to pure surrealism, but upon rereading it, it's clearly about Puppygate. I appreciate the reminder from my subconscious that the appropriate response to conservative blowhards talking shit about me, or about "SJWs" in general, is to snicker and move on.)
At some point--before this? after this?--I was at the movie theater (again?), and then it turned into a concert arena. There was a big heavy metal concert going on. I think I had a good time? I don't remember much of it.
(So much in my dreams lately about art and music, and now movies too. My therapist suggested that this might represent my creative self and particularly my novel-writing, which I've kind of put on hold because there's been too much other stuff going on and my brain got full. Last week I managed to do 45 minutes of research reading and that felt like a victory. But I will get back to it somehow, though I have no idea how. I'm still so far out of the mindset I was in when I started the book--not sure whether to write something else as a palate-cleanser or try tackling a different section of it that has a different feel or what.)
And then today I got up on two hours of sleep and spent the day at Canobie Lake Park
, M., M's brother C., rushthatspeaks
, and B. It was wonderful.
I was last there as a small child in the '80's; I recognized the miniature sports cars and the narrow gauge railway, but the Kosmojets and the Matterhorn are gone. The mirror maze looked familiar. I remembered the red-and-white skyway that makes a circuit over some of the family rides once I was on it. Everything else was new to me.
I rode three coasters: Untamed, the Yankee Cannonball (twice), and the Canobie Corkscrew (twice, the last time to close out the day; it is a small coaster and it does one thing, but it does that one thing extremely well). The Xtreme Frisbee looked like a close cousin to the Big E's Fireball, which I love and find exhilarating, but it actually blurred my sense of balance in a way I hadn't experienced before, so I didn't give it another chance. The
Giant Sky Wheel got two rides, the second at sunset right before the midway started to light up. So did the Mine of Lost Souls, a gonzo dark ride that starts like a tour of a haunted mine and then falls sideways into a different genre. We rode the Caterpillar and the sky ride of my childhood and the swing carousel called Da Vinci's Dream. I avoided the Policy Pond Log Flume and the other water rides because I was already freezing; the day was bright and nippy and I spent all of my time in my jacket, mostly with my hair stuffed down the back to keep it out of the wind. I also stayed away from the Psychodrome, because the idea of a scrambler ride with loud music and strobe lights was a migraine waiting to happen. The half-hour cruise around Canobie Lake was lovely. Half of my food intake for the day seems to have been ice cream in the form of Dippin' Dots and butterscotch-dipped vanilla soft-serve and the other half was some surprisingly tasty pulled pork and the bowl of clam chowder I ate as soon as I got home (after feeding the cats, who otherwise seemed to think the chowder was a special present for them). I appear to have a sunburn across my cheekbones despite putting on sunscreen. We missed the antique carousel, but that just leaves something to go back for.
Saira had made a road trip playlist, from which I learned that Heather Dale went through a phase of recording songs about shipwrecks; I suspect I need them.
I am physically very tired. However temporarily, I'm happy.
We played a round of Battletech tonight, at the lizard's insistence; we'd stopped by Little Wars yesterday but didn't see the Battletech people, so we figured we should make it up to the kid. It was fun! The lizard played her Grasshopper and I chose a Catapult
[MWLL render] (the only mech from the starter set I recognize; the missile racks form distinctive "ears," and I piloted it a few times when I played Mechwarrior: Living Legends. They're adorable). We lost to Joe because our tactics were bass-ackwards. The lizard basically hid and let me tank for her, which doesn't work so hot because the Catapult is a support missile mech. Ideally she would have harassed Joe in his Marauder while I tried to hit him with my LRM15s (long-range missile). As it stood, I took a crit to my ammo and blew up (yeah...that's the problem with all those missiles...), leaving the lizard to face Joe alone. At that point she had been hiding from him all game and had taken no damage, but the Grasshopper (a light) was in no way able to stand up to a Marauder (a heavy). She eventually conceded after some more rounds of damage exchanged. My poor Catapult...*g*
Really, "divide and conquer" is an excellent strategy if the lizard is on the other side because the lizard will just run away and save her own skin. I still remember the Dungeon World (RPG) one-shot my sister ran over Thanksgiving and the lizard's ranger running away from the spider, then emerging after Joe and I killed it to ask immediately, "Is there any loot?" So funny.
The lizard has volunteered to paint our Catapult in fox colors, which I think would be delightful. Fox ears!
Of the five nominees, the collection from The Zombie Nation was recommended by both the Sad and Rabid (SR) puppies. The rest of the category is puppy-free.
- Ms. Marvel: The first page includes Kamala Khan smelling bacon and saying, “Delicious, delicious infidel meat” and someone responding, “Chow or chow not. There is no smell.” I was officially intrigued. A few pages later, we discover Kamala writes Avengers fanfic. She’s also struggling with her own identity, torn between cultures and dealing with ignorance and prejudice. She dreams about being powerful and blonde and beautiful like Ms. Marvel…and then she gets her wish. Sort of. And discovers it’s not what she imagined. This is a superhero origin story that plays off of our expectations, because Kamala has grown up in a world of superheroes. She’s an Avengers fangirl. She has to unlearn what she has learned, in order to become, in her words, “a shape-changing mask-wearing sixteen-year-old super ‘moozlim’ from Jersey City.” There’s a lot of humor, and some good depth and complexity to Kamala and her family and friends. There’s also a supervillain, of course, but that’s secondary to the story of Kamala coming of age and learning to navigate and incorporate the different parts of her identity.
- Rat Queens: Smart-ass D&D-style all-female adventuring team with good artwork, humor, attitude, profanity, and a great cast of secondary characters to go with it. Including an orc cleric who gets bluebirds in his beard when he casts healing spells. I bought this volume last year, and I’ve got the next one on my wish list. The Rat Queens are well-written, complex characters who are utterly unapologetic about who and what they are. They’re also fiercely loyal to one another. I liked this even more when I reread it to refresh my memory for the Hugos. With both Rat Queens and Ms. Marvel, I’m sure there will be people complaining that they’re politically correct, feminist, Message Stories. Are they feminist? Sure. They’re also fun as hell. Beyond that, I’ll let Hannah respond to the haters.
- Saga: I’m afraid this one didn’t work for me. Part of the problem is that this is Volume 3, and I was coming into the middle of a pretty complex and ongoing story about an ongoing, interplanetary war. The blending of science fiction and fantasy elements was fascinating, and there’s a lot of good worldbuilding, as well as some great details. I love Lying Cat, a sphynx/lynx-like creature who can sense lies, to great effect. I don’t think it’s bad, and it’s possible I’d be much more invested if I started from the beginning, but as it is, I’m afraid the story just didn’t draw me in. I’ll probably rank it above No Award, but it won’t be one of my top choices.
- Sex Criminals: So imagine when you orgasmed, time basically just stopped for a while, and the world went all glowy and psychedelic. This isn’t something you’ll want to read at work. (Well, depending on where you work, I guess.) But it’s an interesting premise and a good story. It also addresses and challenges the rather prudish attitudes folks tend to have toward sex, starting with young Suzie’s efforts to understand what’s happening to her, and all the ways those efforts get shut down. Generally amusing and entertaining, though I didn’t feel like I just had to pick up the next volume. A middle-of-the-ballot pick for me.
- The Zombie Nation (SR): This one wasn’t included in the Hugo Voters Packet, but the nominated work is a collection from an ongoing webcomic, available here. I clicked through some of the recent comics, then went back and read through some from the beginning. I didn’t find the gags particularly funny. The actual art isn’t bad, but I don’t see this one earning a place above No Award for me.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
After fiddling with music for ages, arkady and I have declared ourselves a band: Diva Rose, 'cos that's who's in it. (I wanted "The Diva Show" but it's taken.) Need a moody photo or two.
Two tracks are finished and up on Soundcloud right now. Both are instrumentals, because neither of us can work out how to write a lyric (which is annoying for two people who identify as writers). Have at 'em, actionable critiques are most welcomed. Cheers to echo_echo and deathboy for encouragement, which hopefully they won't regret.
These were done with LMMS (the cheap'n'cheerful Woolworths guitar of disco) and a bit of finishing in Audacity.
Arkady is an excellent musician and singer. I am neither, but thirty years' record collecting leaves a lot of ideas sticking in one's head.
I have maybe ten fragments that are looking good (better than these, if I can finish them) and about two hundred that are sketches and faff. Next quest goal: finish things.
Cookbook recs? Especially for healthier food?
Yes, I know you can find recipes on the internet, but I find collations that I can read in bed so much more satisfying. Also, having to hunt down individual recipes one by one gets annoying; what I'm hoping for are reliable cookbooks where I know the majority of the recipes will be good.
- Preferably for not-too-hard/not-too-time-consuming recipes. I don't mind some prep work if there's also unattended cooking time. I am a middling cook and my schedule is starting to get busy again.
- We have basic cooking equipment (including the ridiculous potato masher my mom gave me in college, of all things, when the woman has never made mashed potatoes in her life--Joe had to tell me what it was--I thought it was maybe an advanced cattle brand) but not a food processor. I'm starting to question whether we should save for one if it would open up fooding options, but I honestly don't know if I'd use it enough to make it worth it. We do have a small rice cooker and a slow cooker.
- We're trying to save on groceries, so fancy ingredients are probably out. It's also a pain to get to the Korean grocery in town, and Asian/ethnic ingredients are hard to find sometimes because of (I'm guessing) location. I couldn't even find those instant miso soup packets, which I adore for quick snacking, at the local supermarket. :(
- We are not vegetarians, but we're open to vegetarian food. We have two Moosewood cookbooks that I haul out from time to time.
- That being said, finding good produce is hard--I feel actively uneasy about buying a lot of stuff from the local supermarket (flies buzzing all around the onions) and the selection at the farmers' market is limited. I keep seeing things for, like, fennel, and I swear to God I have never seen fennel for blood or money anywhere.
- Joe does not eat eggy foods (omelettes, frittatas, egg drop soup), although the lizard and I do. (He will eat eggs as components of a food so long as the resultant food is not noticeably eggy--e.g. egg as a binder in meatballs.)
- The lizard does not eat spicy food, but generally we deal with this by omitting the spice.
- Foods/cuisines liked: pasta/Italian, Indian (although the only thing I've tried to make is dal), Mexican, Vietnamese, generalized American, Korean (I MISS GIMBAP), Japanese (I would gladly live off Japanese convenience store food if I could afford to and I were, you know, there--onigiri!), various other Asian. I'm sure there are many others, but lack of experience etc.
GOD I HATE FOOD PLANNING FOR PICKY PEOPLE INCLUDING MYSELF
- thinking about:
I’ll quote the cover copy, so you’ll see why I was interested in this.
"A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates--brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find--aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge--but who will be left alive at the end?"
The blurbs talked a lot about moral depth, complexity, and ambiguity. Between the blurbs and the plot, I thought I’d get The Secret History
with superpowers, starring Professor X and Magneto.
The first fourth or so of Vicious
is exactly that. The rest, not so much. I had very mixed feelings about the book as a whole, and not just because the actual book matches the plot but not the implications of the blurb. The first fourth is a stunning work of storytelling. I was absolutely glued to it. The compulsive readability wanes as the book goes on, but maintains reasonably well throughout its length. Throughout, the structure is cool, the prose is good, and many of the ideas are interesting.
Here’s what’s not so good: the characters. The two main guys seem interesting when they’re at school together – morally dark, sure, but Schwab does a great job there of suggesting complexity, hidden depth, potential for great good or great evil, etc. Then they become superheroes, and turn into one-note sociopaths.
Eli, who suddenly becomes a religious maniac serial killer, is more like a half-note. His POV sections are really boring. He’s on a delusional mission from God. He kills people because he’s on a delusional mission from God. That’s literally it. When he thinks of Victor, it’s just as someone he needs to kill because he’s on a delusional mission from God.
Victor either also becomes a sociopath, or was always one; it’s hard to tell. His POV is more interesting because he does think about things other than hurting or using people, but basically, he hates Eli (no complexity there) and wants to kill him, and will torture, kill, and use people without hesitation or qualms to bring Eli down.
I expected a fraught, love-hate relationship between them. Nope! They just want to kill each other. I expected moral ambiguity. Nope! They’re both sociopaths. Pitting one sociopathic murderer against another is not moral ambiguity, nor does it bring up interesting moral questions. “If a bad guy kills a worse bad guy, does that make him a good guy?” is not an interesting question. (Answer: No.)
There are three other POV characters who get much more limited page time. One is also a sociopathic murderer. Another is a collection of potentially interesting traits that don’t cohere into a real-feeling character, but at least is not a sociopath. The last is an actual, believable, three-dimensional, mostly coherent character who is not a sociopath. The book would have been more interesting if it had been entirely about her.
There may or may not be something about the process of becoming a superhero that turns people into sociopaths, or turns certain people into sociopaths. This is discussed but never really explored or resolved. Of the four superheroes who get significant page time, three are sociopaths but it’s unclear if they were before they got powers.
I recommend this if you’re OK with sociopathic POV characters and want to read a cat-and-mouse game between two sociopathic villains. On that level, it’s pretty good. If you’re looking for more human characters, I can’t recommend it. Which is too bad, because if the whole book was more in the vein of the beginning, when it seems like the characters might have actual depth and complexity, it would be stunning. Vicious
So yesterday I’m on my way to Borderlands Books for the last reading/signing event with Mary (the tour isn’t quite over, as I have BayCon yet to go, but I’m almost there), and I see that somebody has mentioned me on Twitter.
That someone is Victoria Ying, an artist at Sony Pictures Animation, who has worked on a couple of films you might have heard of: Tangled, Wreck It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6 (OH MY GOD HOW MUCH DID I LOVE THAT MOVIE). She has apparently read A Natural History of Dragons . . . and this is the result.
. . . it’s wee!Isabella. With a jar of vinegar. And Greenie pickling away in it.
<melts on account of adorableness>
Seeing that, and then reading to a packed crowd at Borderlands (it’s always a good sign when they run out of chairs), and then meeting this lady, who showed up with a dragon on her shoulder:
It’s a good way to (almost) end the tour.
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
So there is this thing that my cat does where she seems all friendly and licks my fingers and then she starts to nip (she's never broken skin, and just moving her away firmly fixes the immediate problem). I don't know how to interpret this! Is she happy? Unhappy? Trying to play? Wants more attention? Less attention? Help? The thing is she seems to want to pursue those fingers even when I remove them from the bitey bits, but I, uh, object to being nipped.
--Signed, newbie cat slave
So I'm not talking much about my life outside of movies because right now it's very difficult and things are very uncertain and I don't know how next month is going to work at all. I will not be at Wiscon this weekend. With any luck, I will be with friends and family at Canobie Lake Park.
1. Courtesy of moon_custafer
: an ideal Lord Peter Wimsey
. This continues to delight me.
2. Courtesy of strange_selkie
: Crassus' moray
sent me a care package containing, among other things, a children's graphic novel about Houdini
and a DVD of the Lloyd Alexander documentary
4. I really like this poem: Paula Meehan, "The Solace of Artemis
5. I didn't manage to post about it last night, but I have now seen the first episode of the BBC's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
(2015) and to my great surprise and relief, it was very good. My make-or-break moment was the first appearance of the gentleman with thistle-down hair, here played by Marc Warren; I am delighted to report that I wouldn't have put leaves on his coat, but he is otherwise excellently otherworldly, menacing without apparent awareness of intimidation and capricious without camp. His hair is not only the right color, but the right shape for a thistle-head; he has silver-winged eyebrows and his ears are not pointed. His fingernails are opaque, white as teeth. (A touch I don't remember from the novel, but it's much more unsettling than it should be, like a photograph with the eyes put back in upside-down.) He has inhuman cadences in his voice; there is some post-production effect that whispers and hisses in the lower range, but clears suddenly when his voice rises in a tone of clarion carelessness, so either is equally uneasy to listen to. The adaptation sadly omits his initial address to Norrell in effusive Latin, but I understand there's a specialized audience for that joke (antiquarians and other people who study dead languages but don't expect to have to use them conversationally). It is probably inevitable that he should slightly recall David Bowie's Jareth, but I've never been sure that Labyrinth
(1986) didn't get into the DNA of the original novel, so that's all right.
The casting on the whole is very good. I don't have much feeling for Bertie Carvel's Jonathan Strange yet, but Eddie Marsan has the right anti-charisma as Mr Norrell and the right air of dry suspicious irritation with everything outside his orderly library; possibly as a byproduct of casting, he's more immediately sympathetic than Clarke's Norrell, a very shy and didactic man rather than a strictly passionless and secretive one, and I am curious to see how this quality will interact with later chapters when he starts doing really stupid, dangerous things as opposed to just bargaining with fairies for the dead.1
I was surprisingly taken with Edward Hogg's John Segundus: he has a pale, slightly apprehensive face and a sheepish nod after questions he knows are "wrong" and he smiles in pure wonder as the stones of York Minster speak, terrifying nearly every other member of the Society of Magicians. Childermass as played by Enzo Cilenti is a rough-grained, magnetic, mysterious presence, hiding secrets in plain speaking; his Tarot-sharping scene with Paul Kaye's Vinculus is a highlight. We haven't seen much of Stephen, but Ariyon Bakare has a beautiful face and a grave well-turned voice and I am hoping. I have a similar optimism about Charlotte Riley's Arabella and Alice Englert's Emma Pole.
And the mise-en-scène is great
. The interiors are accurately colored, the clothes are lived-in, the wigs are frequently terrible, and the regional accents are themselves. Nobody has been flattered by Georgian costume if it wouldn't have looked good on them to begin with and let's face it, Empire dresses aren't for everyone. People have stubble and wiltingly crimped hair. The 1995 Persuasion
is the only other contemporary piece I've seen put so much time into looking ordinary rather than a showcase for historical design. I don't like the score, but that's mostly because it insists on telling the audience when the magic is going to happen rather than letting it discover them. I'm reserving judgment on the tone until I've seen another episode at least. So far it's more comic than I was expecting—it's not broad, but it gets a lot of pointed mileage out of the disjoint between the confines of respectability and the lawlessness of magic, Mr Norrell's extravagant reputation and his shabby anonymous person, the incongruity of aimless Jonathan Strange finding his calling in magic, which he didn't even believe in before he tried it. My complaints are mostly to do with subtlety, the places I don't feel the script or the direction trusted it. The stones of York Minster are startling, but not especially numinous; the only real charge of strangeness comes with the arrival of the gentleman with thistle-down hair, which is why I was gripping derspatchel
's hand, praying the series wouldn't screw him up. I don't think it did. I hope it can keep it up. My standards for the numinous onscreen are crazily (Derek Jarman, Peter Greenaway, Powell and Pressburger) high. The scene in which Strange performs his first piece of magic works perfectly because it is shot without any unusual emphasis at all.
So, yeah. That was really pleasant. I'm hoping it continues not to suck.
I have work to do now.
1. One of the major reasons the story feels in direct descent from Hope Mirrlees' Lud-in-the-Mist (1926). There are not that many modern novels that so clearly associate the two worlds, but it's here straight from the start.
Choose between two covers?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 29
This is for an ebook collection of the flash fairy tales, The Fox's Tower & Other Tales
. I can't decide which of these two cover designs works better. Votes?
(And OMG, I still cannot get over what a fantastic job the cover illustrator, Mariya Olshevska
, did. Worth every penny.)
“Throwback Thursday” has become a thing in certain circles, so I figured I’d try a TBT blog post. This is from May 19, 2005. Both of these excerpts are from Goblin Hero.
Two excerpts today. Double your pleasure, double your fun, or something like that…
Excerpt the First:
Slash pushed him roughly to the other side of the tunnel. “See that patch?”
Jig stared. The ground was dusty rock, the same as the rest of the tunnels.
“We spread a mix of blood, rock serpent venom, and diluted honey there. The venom keeps the blood from clotting, and the honey makes it stick to whoever steps in it.” Slash licked his lips. “The tunnel-cats love the stuff. If you step inside the lair wearing that scent, they’ll be on you before you can draw your sword.”
Before Jig could say anything, Slash was yanking his arm again. “Watch out for those spikes.” Jig had to squint to see the tiny metal shards resting on the ground.
“They’re so small.”
“And they’re coated in lizard-fish toxin,” Slash said.
Oh. Jig looked at the hobgoblins with new respect. If he tried to set up such traps to protect the goblin lair, the only thing he’d accomplish was to kill off half of the goblins.
Happy Bonus Excerpt:
When the hobgoblins materialized beside him, Jig jumped so hard he knocked Smudge to the ground. “Where did they come from?” he asked as he retrieved his fallen spider.
“Author’s tweaking the storyline again,” Grell muttered. She glared at the sky. “Try writing an outline, ya damn hack!”
|Zokutou Word Meter (No Longer Exists)
48,150 / 95,000
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.
Today we’ve got an “alternate universe” fanfic from Mel, inspired by the many times Daron has mentioned his recurring dreams about being a busboy (viz: a comment in 2013
, chapter 546
, and chapter 579
This one has some graphic sex, so please only read it if you are legally able (i.e. of age) to read such material in your location.
By entering this password: Alternate you certify that you are of legal age to read this material.
Also, please note we’ve still got slots open for more fanworks! It doesn’t have to be fanfic or art, it can be anything you think might be of interest to DGC fans, including your recs for books or bands? your dream cast you’d put into a DGC movie? favorite GLBT musicians list? fake album art? If you’d like to contribute, then simply contact Cecilia.
Here’s the schedule of upcoming posts and the slots still open!
May 28: Joe (timeline graphics)
June 4: Sanders
June 11: Stef’s (memes)
June 25: Lenalena (book review)
August 20 Chris (fic)
My dream life has been just amazing lately.
Sunday night I dreamed that J and I wanted to buy a house on the street where my father's apartment is, but we decided that we wanted the only brick building in a row of wood-frame buildings. I started to worry that I was just too non-conformist and it was going to make me miserable, so I went to a company that mind-wiped people and turned them into happy mindless company employees/slaves. They ran a psych profile on me that said I was a very poor candidate because I was such an independent thinker that the mind-wiping might not work on me. I signed a contract, but at the last minute I backed out. The penalty for breach of contract was having a swarm of bees sent after me that were supposed to all sting me at once, and I had a 50% chance of surviving. I ran away down the street and ducked into a store so the swarm would miss me and sting some poor passerby instead, like I was dodging a guided missile. The company sent another swarm after me, but I found a taxi driver who would drive me uptown to where I would be safe. He used telekinesis, I think? Sometimes I felt like we were sitting on wooden chairs, and other times I felt like we were in a black limousine; I'm pretty sure the limo was an illusion. But he got me away from the bees, and in the end J and I decided to buy the brick house.
(At least half of this probably stemmed from a conversation I had with my father on Sunday evening where he asked me whether I saw myself as a rebellious person. I said that I didn't care enough about mainstream values to define myself as rebelling against them, but of course it's more complicated than that.)
Monday night I dreamed that my room had gotten horribly messy and dirty, and that our apartment (which was now very small, maybe a 1BR) was full of ratty, shabby old furniture. I'd agreed to take in two more cats but then I forgot about them. They were black cats and hid under the furniture where I couldn't see them. There were puddles of cat pee everywhere, but I blamed Sam. ( Bugs and body grossness )
I was incredibly appalled that I had forgotten and neglected the cats and let my home get into such a state, and I think at the end of the dream I was trying to feed and wash them and clean up my room, but it all kind of fragmented.
(I'm kind of surprised it's taken this long for me to have what is essentially an anxiety dream about being a horrible neglectful parent, given that we've been actively trying to conceive for more than a year now and planning it for a while before that, but I guess I'm slow to develop. On the bright side, when I woke up and went out into the main room of the apartment, for once I looked around and thought "We keep this place in pretty good shape" rather than immediately noticing all the housework there was to do. So hooray for perspective, I guess?)
My therapist and I are going to have SO MUCH to talk about tomorrow. :)
Everyone who has been needing to see characters with disabilities in more fiction knows that MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is all made up of disabled characters, right?
- Furiosa uses an artificial hand. (Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it was Valvoline (exploding.))
- Immortan Joe uses some kind of assisted breathing device.
- Joe's brother or whatever is a little person in a mobility chair.
- Nux has tumors on his trachea that affect his breathing.
- The warboys in general have some condition that causes them to require regular blood transfusions. (Admittedly, that condition could be "very dangerous lifestyle.")
- The Doof Warrior has no eyes.
- The leader of Gas Town has a Tycho Brahe-style decorative metal artificial nose and a wicked case of foot edema.
- Max has intrusive hallucinations, possibly PTSD flashbacks.
And I'm resigned to the fact that we're about to see a glut of movies made by people who saw FURY ROAD & thought "Great! People don't WANT explanation or backstory or worldbuilding or character or reasons for anything to happen!" Because moviemakers are going to notice that this movie did not stop to provide any infodumps and people loved that. And the kind of hack-ass storytellers who can't provide information except in an infodump are not going to bother noticing the wealth of information that the movie steadily, nonverbally, delivers.
The obsessive ornamentation on everything drives home that these are a people who have lost television. They aren't spending their evenings playing World of Warcraft, they're spending it painstakingly coiling recycled metal wire into skulls to enhance the fetishistic power of their steering wheels.
Furiosa has one word about her character arc: "Redemption." One word. The movie then goes on to reveal, in a completely non-Joss-Whedon-clever-dialogue kind of way, that ( spoiler )
I could see how that would leave a person with a score to settle.
Joe - I know I keep coming back to Joe, but since he is the one who ran the citadel, the citadel and the army speak most to his character. And - weirdly, considering his motivation in the whole film is ( spoiler )
- his character is that of a despot who allows his subordinates considerable initiative.
Consider the argument that ends in strapping Max to the front of Nux's Chevy:( spoiler )
Mallory Ortberg correctly noted
that if Joe had been serious about ( spoiler )
And all of this the movie suggests without a spoken word.
And all the characters with disabilities, are not there because this is a Very Special Episode of the Apocalypse. They're there to show that this world is goddamn hard on human bodies - and to show the state of medical and assistive technology - and to show priorities. The people are
like the things in this world in one way: the valuable ones are too valuable to waste just because some part of them isn't working to spec. Instead they weld on part of some other machine, to make it work; and add weapons capability while they're at it. And they don't bother trying to make the prosthetics look naturalistic. In a way, in this mutated world, the aesthetic celebrates physical variety, somatic change. ( spoiler )
So this year I'm co-chairing and you would think that would be enough to do. But I'm smart so I'm also doing 4 panels, a reading, & may pull a safety shift or two. I am contemplating baking cupcakes tonight too, but that probably won't happen.
Cultural Literacy or Cultural Appropriation? Sat, 2:30–3:45 pm Capitol B
In our diverse culture all thinking and reading individuals are influenced by a wide range of heritages, histories, and mythologies. Let's talk about how to articulate the boundaries and borders of what’s appropriative and what’s okay in fiction, dance, craft, and other art. In the end, who gets paid? And who gets propped up as an "expert"? In what ways can artists and creators engage with cultures without being harmful and destructive?
THREE-PART TRILOGY BASED ON THE SINGLE BOOK OF THE NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL
Sat, 4:00–5:15 pm Wisconsin
The seventh installment of this popular and amazing panel! Writers of color working in F/SF face unique challenges, it's true. But, at the end of the day, being a "person of color" is only one aspect of what makes up our identities as writers. While it's very flattering to be asked to be on panels, most of these panels never crack the ceiling of Race 101. With that in mind, wouldn't it be nice for multiple writers and fans of color to sit on a panel that isn't about race at all? Here's our chance to do just that. So, what are we gonna talk about, instead? Practically anything! Presented in game show format, THREE-PART TRILOGY BASED ON THE SINGLE BOOK OF THE NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL brings together writers and fans of color to get their geek on about any number of pop culture topics—none of them race related.
Call Out Culture II: Follow-up to the Discussion Held at WisCon 38 Sun, 10:00–11:15 am Senate A
Let's follow up the discussion of call-out culture that began at the WisCon 38 panel "Call Out Culture in Social Justice Movements." This year we will expand our conversation to online life, covering discussions about social justice movements that are already happening and places where the discourse is still getting off the ground.
Reading Divas Sun, 2:30–3:45 pm Michelangelos
These amazing and diverse voice will entice your imagination. Each reading a unique and rare pleasure in speculative fiction.
What Happened With WisCon Last Summer? Sun, 4:00–5:15 pm Capitol A
In the interests of transparency and straightforwardness with the WisCon community, let's discuss how and why WisCon leadership changed so abruptly between W38 and W39.
Last night was the season finale of The Flash. I’ve enjoyed this show a lot, in part for its sense of fun, its wholehearted embrace of comic book tropes, the relationship between Barry and Joe, and of course, Tom Cavanagh.
At the same time, the writing has sometimes been a bit clunky, and the overall track record with female characters is rather poor. (With that said, things improved greatly for Iris’ character in the last few episodes.)
HERE THERE BE SPOILERS
( Read the rest of this entry » )
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Safe travels etc to all you lovelies going to WisCon this weekend! I won't be there. I'm not entirely happy about that, but I think I'd be even less happy if I went, so, la. My in-laws are in town(*) and I have plans for this weekend, some of which involve going outdoors to places with little to no cellphone reception and some of which involve yet more pitched battle against clothing moths ugh. I hope everyone who's going has a fantastic time, and I'll also be scarce on the internet until next week and actively avoiding reading about the con.
(*) We all had a conversation about this visit, but apparently no on in my family, myself included, remembers to put things in the google calendar, so I completely forgot about it, until yesterday when M just casually dropped into gchat "Oh, by the way, I'm punting choir rehearsal tomorrow to take Mom out to dinner." Surprise! Once reminded I remembered the entire conversation we had about her visit, my cousin-in-law's wedding, family dinner with Conservative Uncle Shut Up Already, etc.
I bought Ayelet Waldman's Bad Mother because of a case of mistaken identity. I mistook her for a different mom-writer with a vaguely similar name, located on the other coast. Ayelet Waldman is local; she is the wife of Michael Chabon and, thus, located at Ground Zero of the Berkeley Parent phenomenon. Even more so, she was briefly Internet-famous for writing an essay saying she loved her husband more than her kids and publishing it in Salon. Heaps of concern-trollish scorn ensued. And so this book was born.
When I purchased Bad Mother, then, I was not one of the folks who was consciously aware of this backstory and hoping for some more juicy bits. I was expecting a light and snarky book that maybe inappropriately wallowed in being a "bad mother" in the way that I express glee at forfeiting Berkeley Parent Points by feeding my kids French fries. You know, bad but not too bad. A mild protest against the impossible social expectations of capital-M (liberal, white, middle-class) motherhood.
I got a lot more than that. Right out of the box, Waldman challenges exactly that kind of Bad Mother Lite posture as the guilt trip coping mechanism it is, and then wrestles with where exactly that guilt trip comes from in the first place. This book is not a structural critique of the institution of motherhood, but it is aware that there *is* a critique and that it is much-needed, and that informs the personal essays that make up the book. In other words, I came for the snark and instead I got a fairly meaty, thoughtful meditation on some personal dimensions to contemporary motherhood. Overall, I was surprised and pleased.
My favorite Berkeley Parent moment in the book was when someone leaned over while in line at somewhere like Arizmendi Pizza and said to Waldman, who was bottle-feeding her infant, "you know, breast is best." And got a weeping meltdown about how her baby was born with a palate defect and *couldn't* nurse in return. Me, I would not have wept. I would have screamed the same content, spittle flying, until someone called the cops.
I particularly appreciated her completely frank discussion of the medical abortion she sought out between her second and third kid, thanks to an amniocentesis that turned up a rare trisomy. It wasn't clear whether the trisomy would cause any problems or not. She aborted anyway. But it wasn't an easy decision and, in a book called "Bad Mother," you can guess the emotions it stirred up.
There is one essay, near the end, that fell flat for me. It was a naive discussion of patriotism and kids from a liberal, post-Obama, pre-Ferguson POV, filled with optimism for the best of what America could be. In the wake of Black Lives Matter et al, it was a little painful and I imagine Waldman probably knows it and regrets it now. That's OK. She was smart enough not to end the book there, so between you and me and the author we'll just pretend it never happened. Or await her follow-up essay. Either way is good.
Meanwhile, my copy of Jessica Hopper's book arrived a day or two ago. It has *gilt edges*. This tickles me enormously.
Final guesses on the novella I finished last week included “Haitian loa” and “kitsune” — both incorrect. But then two people guessed correctly! So when I get home, tooth_and_claw and sarcastibich, I’ll send you a list of what books I have on hand, and you can tell me which ones you want signed and mailed to you.
This was actually even harder of a question than I thought, because it turns out that one of the giveaway details has never been mentioned on this incarnation of my LJ. If you conducted a search (which wshaffer almost did), you would have had to do so on my old blog, the one I was using up until 2006. The number of people who have been following me since all the way back then is quite small . . . hence admitting this was a difficult challenge, one I didn’t necessarily expect anybody to get. The best chance for the rest of you was to have a good enough memory to remember that I linked to one of those songs last year — in fact, precisely one year to the day before I posted it again as part of this series. That, I believe, was the last time I said anything on here about Ree Varekai.
I mentioned her before and during my tour last year, because music had put her back into my head, and I found that the core of the concept still held a lot of power for me. Enough power that I started poking at it . . . and coming up with a cosmology where she could exist without copy-pasting the game world she came from . . . and then working out a plot for a novella that I really need a title for, so I can stop thinking of it as the “proof of concept” story where I’m test-driving my idea to see if it works. And then during this tour I decided to buckle down and try, and now I have a draft of the novella and this is a thing that might actually happen.
So what were the clues? Well, that fourth song was from the Cirque du Soleil show Varekai — that’s why it wound up on Ree’s game soundtrack, because of her name. (I didn’t realize I hadn’t posted her full name since the old journal. Mea culpa.) The third one, as I said, I linked to precisely one year previously; it’s also from her soundtrack, and stood for the moment when she hit utter rock bottom, just before the transformation that made her whole once more. The other two are recent additions to her score: “Bad Moon Rising” for the way her fatalist aspect is linked to the lunar cycle, and “I Will Not Bow” just because it fits. That’s what she sounds like when her fatalist aspect is dominant over her survivor aspect, when a pragmatic understanding of the obstacles has become “fuck everything; I’ll just take you all down with me.”
If you didn’t guess, don’t feel bad — you basically have to know Ree to guess most of those songs are pointing at her. (Both of the people who did guess were players in that game.) But hey: the bright side is, now I have all kinds of other things that apparently you all think I should write about! :-)
As for the novella, I don’t know what will happen with it. I need to revise it, and then see about trying to sell it somewhere. News on that when I have any to share.
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
My mom had a minor heart attack yesterday afternoon/evening. She stuck it out at work for a while since random arm pain is just kind of confusing, but got her sister to take her to the hospital in the evening. She still needs a cardiac cath and they might install a stent, but it looks like the incident was minor and she shouldn't have lost too much heart function.
PSA: Women's heart attacks often occur with no chest pain. Mom had a pain in her arm below the elbow that gradually expanded to her back, followed by what felt like a long hot flash: flushed skin and excessive sweating. When she got to nausea, she realized the hospital was a good idea. Cardiac enzyme tests confirmed a heart attack.
(Hormone therapy puts many trans people at increased risk of complex health issues, so I would recommend watching out for alternate symptoms regardless of gender expression if that applies to you.)
Please take care of yourselves, everyone!
Stuff that has felt good lately:
* Doing work while listening to birdsong
. I still use my Pomodoro playlist of progressive house mixes
sometimes, but I find that the birdsong is very relaxing without being soporific--it calms the anxious chattery noise in my head, which lets the rest of my brain focus on the task at hand. Thanks to the birds, I was super productive today!
* Doing my PT exercises. I mean, yes, they're kind of boring, but it still feels really good to move and get stronger. The current list: leg stretches, isometric leg exercises, knee raises, straight leg raises, ankle pumps, weighted leg extensions; hand/wrist/arm stretches, wrist rotations, straight and reverse wrist curls with weights, hammer curls with weights, biceps curls with weights. I do this every night except Monday and Friday when I have actual PT, which is how you can tell I'm seriously committed to getting stronger. 5x5 is on hold until I strengthen my legs enough to protect my knees during squats, rows, and deadlifts, hence all the leg exercises.
* Getting comfortable with low-stimulus time. If I'm waiting for a file to load or sitting on a train for ten minutes, I keep the Twitter tab closed and the phone in my pocket, and deliberately sit alone with my thoughts. I'm still training up that comfort and it's definitely not always easy, but when I can get settled into it, I really like it. I'd been doing the Headspace creativity pack, but more and more I find I want to get back to just basic meditation or mindfulness without the themed bells and whistles.
* Doing gender mix-and-match with my appearance. Super-short buzzed hair and big earrings. A snug V-neck blouse and men's straight-leg trousers. Summer's a great time for this.
* Eating vegetables. I tend to forget about vegetables for a while and then remember them again. They're pretty great! Next I think I might rediscover legumes, which I've been ignoring for some time but are also delicious. Lentil soup, white bean dip, and daal are all on my list. Over the past year I ate a lot of poultry (and red meat and seafood in restaurants from time to time, but not cooked at home) and starches, and I'm ready for a change.
* Spring and summer weather. Breezes! Warm nights! Thunderstorms! I want to hug it all.
Plus the stuff that already felt good like snuggling my family, snuggling my kitten (who has been very very snuggly lately), and so on. :) I just feel very much in the groove right now. It's lovely.
- thinking about:
behavior.meditation, body.arms, body.exercise, body.legs, body.strength, experiences.music, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.spring, experiences.seasons.summer, experiences.work, food, food.cooking, food.cuisine.vegetarian, mind.feelings.relaxation, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.gender, stuff.clothes