a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
24 April 2015 23:38 - another bookmark
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
This one's up for auction at Con or Bust (I'm offering a custom-made one, too).

Click to enlarge:

red knotwork front full

The weird waviness is it being unduly flattened by the scanner, because I tried for way too long to get accurate colors with a camera and GIMP and could not.

Pattern by Teresa Wentzler (and a giant pain, it varies the height of the rows it puts in and so I had to take a ruler and pencil in lines so that I could have a proper 1 square = 1 stitch chart). Stitched over two on Antique White MCG evenweave; main stitching in silk, Caron Waterlillies, Cherry 101; satin stitch and Algerian eyelets in DMC pearl cotton size 12, Ecru (best way to do satin stitches EVER); backstitch in DMC 801 (done over one on the diagonals); shiny bits in Krenik #4 Braid Beige (013).

The colors don't quite glow the way I wanted when I saw the silk in the store, but I'm pretty happy with it all the same.
24 April 2015 17:59 - "Dreamtime"
rosefox: A diagram labeled "immortal eye" and "fearful symmetry etc." (geeky (worksafe))
Last night I dreamed that J had offered to write some drivers so I could use a USB trackpad with my laptop, and I was affectionately teasing him about what a silly offer it was because he's not really a programmer. We were walking down the street, someplace with wide roads and low warehouse-type buildings--maybe an ungentrified part of San Francisco. Two women who were standing at a bus stop overheard us, and after J got on the bus? went somewhere else? I started talking with them about how much we all enjoy writing x86 assembly code (which I did enjoy the last time I did it, but that was almost 20 years ago!).

When I woke up, I thought "My dreams are the patriarchy's nightmares!" and smirked a lot.
24 April 2015 16:33 - Talk me out of this
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

My 'A' hardcover bookcase is situated such that I walk by it every day when I leave and my eye keeps falling on Anderson's The Avatar...
swan_tower: (Default)

I don’t know why, but recently I’ve been seeing posts around the internet about intent and its role in harassment/discrimination/etc which, to my eye, are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I am 100% on board with the “intent is not magic” message. If you hit me in the face, then my face hurts, regardless of whether you did maliciously or by accident because you turned around to throw something and didn’t realize I was right behind you. Your good intentions don’t erase the pain and give me a magically unbroken nose. And if your intentions were good, then the proper reaction to finding out that you hurt someone else should be to feel horrified and apologize for what happened. If you get defensive? If you bluster on about how you didn’t mean to like that changes what happened? Then you’re doing it wrong.

(This example is actually not theoretical for me. During the karate seminar in Okinawa, I accidentally rammed somebody in the cheekbone with the end of my bo while trying to slide it out of the way for people to sit down on a bench. I felt terrible, to the point where even now, nine months later, I want to apologize to her again. And I wish I spoke more than ten words of German, so a language barrier wouldn’t have gotten in the way of my attempt to make amends.)

But what I am not on board with is an actual sentence I read the other week, which is: intent doesn’t matter.

It does.

Intent doesn’t erase the damage, no. But it goddamned well ought to inform what happens next. If you hit me in the face by accident and were mortified the instant it happened, then I don’t need to lecture you on how hitting people in the face is bad: you already know that, and just need to be a little more careful. If you hit me in the face because you weren’t aware that face-hitting hurts, then somebody needs to explain that basic point to you, and you need to take a good hard look at your habits to figure out what things you’re doing are likely to result in face-hitting. If you hit me in the face because your society says, yeah, face-hitting hurts but it’s totally okay so long as it’s done to the right targets, then you need to rethink not just your habits but your morals, and the change needs to be not just to you, but to the cultural environment that taught you to behave that way. And if you hit me in the face because you hate my guts and want to see me hurt . . . then I need to get the hell away from you, because the odds that any positive change can be effected there are nil.

In all of these cases, my face still hurts, and you should still apologize. And maybe I’ve been hit in the face enough that for my own well-being, I need to get the hell away from you without pausing to find out whether that was just an accident. But to say that intent flat-out does not matter — to say that there’s no point in figuring out the causes behind actions — that, to me, is taking the point waaaaaaaaaaaaay too far. (And both “intent doesn’t matter” and “I don’t see why we should figure out motives” are actual arguments I’ve seen in the last week or two. I’ve debated whether I should include links, but I decided I’d rather keep the focus on the concepts, rather than the people promoting them — especially since one of those posts was not recent, and for all I know the writer has changed their views.)

The minute we give up on intent, we treat every injustice done to us as a nail, to be hit with the exact same hammer. And that’s not going to get you very far with screws or rubber bands.

We should not put intent above the effects of a hurtful action. We should not act like it’s a magic shield against responsibility for your actions, and the person who was hurt should stop whining already. But we shouldn’t throw it out entirely, either, and it disturbs me to see people saying we should.

EDITED TO ADD: From Mrissa in the comments, an excellent link that says this better than I did, including the concept that “intent is data.” And data is useful.

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

sovay: (Rotwang)
Reasons I have not written much on LJ in the last couple of days: I have been doing things. Also not sleeping very much. Last night I had to remember where the middle of the week went. (I managed to.) The nightmares aren't helping.

Yesterday morning I met with a visiting historian for whom I am running slides during a conference and then I spent the rest of the day with [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks and [livejournal.com profile] gaudior. I introduced them to Postmodern Jukebox. The group would be a fun novelty act if their musicianship weren't so good, but it really is: I enjoy listening to them for non-ironic reasons. So far my favorites of theirs appear to be their versions of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" (with fan dancers), Fountains of Wayne's "Stacy's Mom" (with melodica solo), and Meghan Trainor's "All About That (Upright) Bass" (exactly what the parenthesis sounds like). In return I got Nicki Minaj's frankly amazing "Anaconda" and Astronautalis' "Two Years Before the Mast," which includes a rap about the age of sail.

Today is the conference for which I am running a set of slides: "Beyond the Western Front in World War I." I expect it to be really interesting. I haven't been to anything this academic in seven years.

Films I have seen recently include Fiesta (1947) with Esther Williams and Ricard Montalbán, the mermaid comedy Miranda (1948), Jan Švankmajer's Alice (1988), and Michael Curtiz's two-strip Technicolor horror-mystery Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933). I hope to write about at least one of these tonight.

Everything is just very exhausting right now. At least I have a book of Pasolini's poetry.
24 April 2015 12:20 - If
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
You could suggest just one interesting historical period that isn't Rome, an idealized British Empire, rechewed American Revolution or Rome for SF writers to rip off, what would it be?
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
I've noticed any time he pauses for a long time before doing something, the outcome is generally not favorable to him.

Most recently, he was mulling over what turn out to be "Should I bop Groucho on the nose?" He chose poorly.
24 April 2015 09:03 - New Phone!
As some of you might know, for roughly the last two years, my cell phone has been the Kyocera Rise.

If someone had told me that Apple has initialed a false flag operation to make people hate Android, the Rise would be the result. It's awful. Horrible. On a hardware front, it's unresponsive to touch, it's slow, it's hard to read, it has trouble getting signals even in good locations, and its battery life is about two hours. On the software front, it crashes in almost any app, it has trouble running updates, and even basic apps tend not to work. Even basic tasks like dialing a number take minutes, not seconds.

I stuck with it because I'm using Virgin Mobile, and I refuse to pay more than $35 a month for my cell service. I don't want a $60+ bill (which is generally the only way to get a free or low-cost iPhone or Galaxy), because I want a phone primarily for texting, MBTA bus tracking, Twitter, occasional web access, and occasional phone calls. Oh, and taking the occasional picture of the dog or cats, of course.

But I finally hit a breaking point with that piece of shit, and have now upgraded to, of all things, a Nokia 635.

Yes, I'm on a Windows phone. And I fucking love it.

No, it's not high-end, but it does all the things I actually expect a smart phone to do. And it does them quickly. It gives me alerts. It lets me text (and has a swype-style interface that's much better than the Rise ever did). I can actually read the screen. Hell, I was able to actually check Mets scores on the bus yesterday!

Yeah, the ecosystem's small, but I really don't give a damn about that. I use my iPad for games, so only need one or two time-killers here. I use the same iPad for productivity (along with my Android Tablet to a lesser extent), and the few productivity apps I'd want on a phone (like Evernote) exist. I've got no real interest in streaming audio or video (and years of dealing with Android's well-known audio latency issue haven't helped), but most of the apps I'd consider on that front exist.

I'm still getting used to the interface changes -- it's not quite the "do they even have a usability team?" stuff you see in Android, but it's a noticeably different thing from the other systems. The tile updates are nice, but I'll need to spend some dedicated time this weekend ensuring I've got the right stuff on the front screen.

Anyway, I have a smart phone that's actually somewhat smart, finally! And I'm still on my nice Virgin Mobile monthly plan, meaning I'm not tying up more of our bank account than we can afford. Yay!
24 April 2015 01:39 - "April showers"
rosefox: Apple blossoms and a monarch butterfly. (spring)
I feel like I'm still at a sunshine deficit, even though it's late April. I feel SO GOOD on sunny warm days, and then we get chilly rainstorms and I droop. This is particularly annoying because I usually love spring rain. I did enjoy the lightning and thunder we got the other night, but that was after a wonderful warm muggy afternoon.

Right now it's 40 degrees and the heat just came on. I mean. This is fucking ridiculous.

But it's supposed to be sunny and warm next weekend, and the cherry trees at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are just hitting their peak, so who wants to go to BBG on Saturday May 2? Sakura matsuri is this weekend, so going next week should let us miss most of the tourists. :)
23 April 2015 19:24 - [photo of the day]
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
Another sunset taken from inside a car.
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

This coming Saturday, I’ll be part of Michigan Authors on the Grand from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Main Branch of the Grand Ledge Area District Library. It looks like there will be at least sixteen of us hanging out to chat and network and sign books and so on.

Michigan Authors on the Grand

I’ve never done this one before, so I don’t know exactly what to expect. There could be giant mutant badgers battling bionic warrior squirrels from the twenty-eighth dimension! And also raffles! Definitely one of those…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

23 April 2015 17:18 - Once in a Blue Moon
yhlee: Night Vale clock (Night Vale (credit: <user name="busaikko)
- recent listening
Coode Street Podcast Episode 230: K J Parker and the history of a writer. Wherein it's revealed that Parker is Tom Holt after all (it's been going around [Locus Online]. One podcast I'm listening to, although I find parts difficult to make out as is usual (not their fault; I don't hear things well).

- recent reading
Once in a Blue Moon by Simon R. Green. This is a very fun, not too serious adventure in the best Simon R. Green style. There's one problem with it, which is that it appears to be the last book of a series. The good news is that it also appears to complete the series.

Let me back up a little. Years ago, in Houston, I picked up a fantasy novel by the title of Blue Moon Rising by Simon R. Green. It featured Prince Rupert riding an enslaved unicorn (with all that implied about his virginity) to a mission that was probably his death: to slay a dragon. Mainly because he was the second prince of the Forest Kingdom, and a spare heir was...unwanted. But it turned out that the dragon was being held "hostage" by a princess sent him as tribute, said princess, Julia, being very good with a sword, and even more, the hoped-for dragon's hoard to refill the Kingdom's treasury (in case Rupert succeeded after all), turned out to be a collection of butterflies. And that was just the beginning. I was entranced. Green had a gift for mixing sly humor, wisecracks (it's not a Green novel if someone, usually multiple people, isn't making a wisecrack somewhere in there), moments of breathtaking wonder, a cynical, down-to-earth sense of the importance of personality in politics, grotesque horrors, gore, and plotting so taut that each time I reread the book I'd pick up on some new nuance that he'd slotted in place just so.

When I was in middle school, one of the writers I wanted to grow up to be was Piers Anthony, because of his interesting ideas and clarity of prose. But the other was Simon R. Green. I don't read Anthony anymore (and to be honest, am not sure what exactly he's writing these days), but I do still read Green. We only gave up buying his books on sight because I was reading more and more slowly, and couldn't keep up with his output.

Blue Moon Rising started what might loosely be termed a series, although it stands quite well on its own, and as a matter of fact, if you liked Blue Moon Rising then Once in a Blue Moon is the kind of book you will like, as well as featuring familiar characters and situations and places. But in order for Once in a Blue Moon to make sense, there are a whole lot of books you also have to read.

You see, this series runs something like this:

- Blue Moon Rising
- Down Among the Dead Men. It's been a while, but I believe it takes place somewhere in the latter part of Blue Moon Rising, and is essentially a standalone hack-and-slash adventure with an astonishingly high body count. It is perhaps the only book in the sequence that you can safely skip and still understand Once in a Blue Moon, and I'd reckon it one of Green's more minor works.
- The Hawk and Fisher books, which feature the only honest (fantasy) cops in the corrupt city of Haven:
Hawk and Fisher
Winner Takes All
The God Killer
Wolf in the Fold
Guard Against Dishonor
The Bones of Haven

The individual volumes are out of print, I believe, but were brought back as two omnibuses, Swords of Haven and Guards of Haven.
- Beyond the Blue Moon, which requires Blue Moon Rising and the Hawk and Fisher books as prerequisites, functioning as a sequel to both. Also a bit of a tie-in to the Nightside books if I'm not mistaken; Green is one of those writers for whom there are characters who wander in and out of their series. (The standalone fantasy Shadows Fall, which is the other single Green I tend to recommend to people who are interested in trying him, explains why this is so.)
- Blood and Honor. It used to be that this worked quite well as a stand-alone, and you can read it that way; there's a bit of an in-joke at the beginning referring to events in Blue Moon Rising, but you don't actually need it to follow this fantasy mystery/romance. (Note that there is some grue; it's rare that a Green novel will lack some degree of grue.)
- And now, Once in a Blue Moon.

Once in a Blue Moon ties together a staggering number of old threads and weaves them together into an entertaining story about two nations, the Forest Kingdom and Redhart, that are careening toward war. Some people are for it, others against, others dragged into the mess kicking and screaming. The legendary heroes Hawk and Fisher show up with other legends in tow; a princess is separated from the lowborn Champion who is her true love; a Broken Man is called back to fight for the King who spurned him years ago; an extraordinary fighter (half of, as far as I can tell, a happy lesbian couple) is honored by the man who defeats her; cursed weapons like the Infernal Devices are retrieved from where they perhaps should best have been left sleeping. And then there's the dog, who is not entirely Real, and who is not remotely safe for polite company.

This reads in many ways like a no-holds-barred, fun, updated version of Blue Moon Rising--Green daring to push the edge a bit more in terms of topics and language (swearing, mentions of sexuality, crude humor--Blue Moon Rising came out in 1991). It's not perfect, but it was a hell of a read, and it brings things to a pitch-perfect close. I cried more than once.

I'm sorry that this Blue Moon Rising and its related books seem to be so obscure. They're a lot of fun and they deserve more attention than they seem to have gotten. I would kill to write like this. I haven't been made this purely happy by a book in a long time.

For the curious, here's a non-spoilery taste of Green's typical sense of humor/prose:
If the Administrator had ever been blessed with anything as common as a real name and a proper background, no one knew about it. He'd arrived at the Academy some forty years earlier as just another student, bluffed and bullied his way onto the staff, and lost no time in proving himself invaluable at taking care of all the dull, soul-destroying but unfortunately wholly necessary administrative work that no one else wanted to do. All he had to do was threaten to leave, and he was immediately awarded a substantial pay increase and a straightforward assurance that no one gave a damn what his real name might be or where he'd come from. (6)

Spoilery discussion:

Read more... )
23 April 2015 15:50 - NEW LENS
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Not looking at everything through a permanently fogged lens sure helps.
23 April 2015 12:04 - "Dreamtime"
rosefox: Me looking out a window, pensive. (thoughtful)
I dreamed that X and [livejournal.com profile] tithenai and I all went to my high school to retrieve a copy of a paper I'd written. It was buried in the archives in the gym (??) but a nice person eventually dug it up. Then I realized it wasn't on the topic I'd remembered, so it wasn't all that useful to me. Oh well.

Then somehow we ended up in a meadow, in a place with gently rolling hills and occasional stands of trees. There were some small strange half-buildings, with two walls and no roof but all the furnishings, like stage sets; we spent a bit of time exploring them, but they felt very lonely. The queen of the Fae showed up and was annoyed about something, and we had to sing in harmony to appease her. We managed this with reasonable success (singing Heather Alexander's "Dance in the Circle" of all things!) and she left us alone, but the king came over and suggested that we swear allegiance to him instead, so he could protect us in case the queen got angry again. The vast majority of the dreaming-time was taken up with the king making his case and us talking about it. The rest went pretty quickly but when I was doing the wake/doze/wake/doze thing I kept going back to that conversation about swearing allegiance. I think by the time I fully woke up we had decided that he seemed like a pretty decent guy, and that we'd much rather be on his side than the unpredictable queen's.

[livejournal.com profile] tithenai had short hair and was wearing a long flowy dress, and the king appeared as a guy in his 30s with short brown hair and beard and a serious expression. He looked a bit like [twitter.com profile] sentencebender, actually. The queen had a face that I can only describe as pugnacious. I have no real visual sense of anyone else who was in either part of the dream.
23 April 2015 10:00 - Sweet Harmony
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

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

Sarah made it back into town in time to see the show at Nassau Coliseum, which was yet another hockey arena, this one in Long Island. I had to wonder was some of the problem with places not selling out that they had, for example, put us in four venues in one week that were all within a one-hour drive of where Remo and I used to live? Except later I asked and found out that all the New York area shows had been sellouts. So much for me trying to apply logic to the situation.

Read the rest of this entry » )
22 April 2015 20:51
pantryslut: (Default)
Because I am naive and also because I don't watch shows like CSI, I have only today stumbled across the police slang acronym "NHI" and what it means. I think "nauseated" mostly covers it.
22 April 2015 19:00 - Reading Wednesday
pantryslut: (Default)
Finishing up "Rip It Up." Actually it's missing right now, which I find frustrating. Back to fiction shortly.
22 April 2015 20:22 - Sword, by Amy Bai
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Sword, by Amy BaiI am so far behind on posting reviews. Let’s start with Sword [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], by Amy Bai. I believe this is Bai’s first novel, and it’s an impressive debut. Sword is a YA fantasy with swords (duh) and magic and kingdoms and betrayal and all that good stuff. From the publisher’s description:

For over a thousand years, the kingdom of Lardan has been at peace: isolated from the world, slowly forgetting the wild and deadly magic of its origins. Now the deepest truths of the past and the darkest predictions for the future survive only in the verses of nursery rhymes. And prophecies are just nursery rhymes for gullible fools. Right?

So thinks Kyali Corwynall, daughter of the Lord General and the court’s only sword-wielding girl. She’s never bothered believing in faery stories. But one day, an old nursery rhyme she’s heard since childhood begins to come true, naming her as Sword and her brother and best friend as Song and Crown, saviors of the kingdom. When that ancient magic wakes, the future changes for everyone. In the space of a single night, her life unravels into violence and chaos.

The opening few chapters felt a little slow to me, mostly because what I was reading seemed familiar. We’re introduced to Kyali and her skill with fighting and swordplay, her brother Devin and his bardic magic, and their close friend the Princess Taireasa. But once the plot picked up, I was hooked hard. Much of the book made me feel like a kid again, getting caught up in the excitement and the battles and the prophecies and the characters and their relationships. It hits many of the notes of a good page-turning fantasy.

That brings up my other stumbling point, because while I love the tropes of fantasy and I’m generally thrilled to revisit them, there are a few I could do without. Early on, Kyali finds herself holding a room against multiple enemies while the princess escapes. They ask where the princess has gone, and naturally she refuses, which leads to this exchange.

“I think you will tell us eventually, general’s daughter.”

His meaning was plain.

Oh, gods, she thought — death, she had braced herself for. This possibility had never occurred to her.

She would just have to find a way to die, then. After she killed as many of these as came near her.

I almost stopped reading here. Not because the scene was bad or badly written, nor did it feel gratuitous. It’s simply not something I wanted to read.

But I kept reading, and I’m glad I did. The consequences to Kyali are intense, and shape her character for the rest of the book. But her internal struggle isn’t solely from the implied sexual assault (it’s never explicitly spelled out). There’s another kind of trauma related to her magic, and that turns her into…not a stone cold warrior, but a woman trying desperately to project that coldness in order to protect the people closest to her.

I enjoyed the use of prophecy. It’s another trope, but something about the way Bai wrote the story brought new energy to the idea. Prophecy isn’t a mysterious riddle. It’s not a set of plot coupons to be collected. Its a burden. It’s as much a mystery to be unraveled and understood as the political machinations and the clashes between armies. And it puts Kyali in the role of warrior, with her brother as the bard, which was a nice reversal.

The secondary characters were interesting and engaging. (For those who’ve read it, am I the only one who was shipping Devin and Prince Kinsey?) There’s a lot going on in this book, and all of the players fit the story, and were people I wanted to read about.

There’s an energy to the story that’s hard to describe. It might be a first novel thing. You should take this bit with a grain of salt, because I’m pretending to read the author’s mind, and that often ends badly…but reading the book, I could almost feel how excited the author was to share the story and these characters. That excitement and love and affects my own reading, which is a good thing.

Sword is book one in what I’m guessing will be a trilogy, so the end of the book isn’t the end of the story. No cliffhanger ending though, which I appreciate.

Overall, I think it’s a good book. I also recognize that some elements may not be to everyone’s taste.

The first twenty-four pages are available online, if you’d like to check it out.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

yhlee: Avatar: The Last Airbender: "fight like a girl" (A:tLA fight like a girl)

Spotted by the lizard on the wall of a Panera where we were eating. Most of the painting is well-executed, but she pointed out that the basket and loaf of bread just look...off. After-market addition?
majes: (spirituality)
A couple Sundays ago, [livejournal.com profile] lizardwan had asked if I could work her sigils. This was her second time doing this work with me. As is typical, the work was well developed from when I'd previously worked with her. Stronger, in some ways. More cool and calm in others. There were some areas that burned like inflamed wounds; however, it was largely productive-looking sigils.

A few days later, [livejournal.com profile] benndragon suggested that he was interested in doing his sigils for a second time. He had changed a lot since the previous time we'd done the work, and there were things to be put away. We went at it. The sigils showed the changes since the previous time. More settled, less angry and more focused. There were a couple blazing badges, but they were wards. A few oddities, which we discussed.

Next week, [livejournal.com profile] red_canna has asked if we could work her sigils again.

Historically, there had only been a few folks whom I'd done sigils for repeated times. I certainly enjoy getting to do them more than once, as I get to witness how much they evolve on a person over time. I think this might be the most dense period of doing sigils that I recall. It has been interestingly easy. While in the past, I would sometimes struggle with the work, the last many sessions have flowed very smoothly. In each case, there have been a few difficult sigils - ones that were hard for me to bring forward for various reasons - but primarily, no problems. My guides have been present and calmly chatty, but have had little need to help me along with the work. I feel, after a fashion, that the skill has been passed along to me. While I certainly don't think I am a master of it yet, and I know I am still learning, I've moved out of the heavy learning all the time phase, and into the more subtle refinement and improvement time.
22 April 2015 12:59 - Not from the Onion
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Sarah Auger loves reading and used to enjoy using her 20-minute ride to and from school to read for pleasure.

But recently, her bus driver told her she had to stop.

She says she was told reading posed a risk to other students on the bus.

He suggested they might stand up to see what she was reading, or she might poke herself in the eye with the corners of the book. 
22 April 2015 06:15 - [sketch] Mystery Building
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
Brownie points to the first person to identify this slightly drunken [1] sketch of a mystery building.

(I know what it is. *g*)

[1] Metaphorically. I don't drink!

This is thanks to Usborne Pocket Art's How to Draw Buildings by Pam Beasant, which gave me the confidence to tackle something more complicated than the stick-figure equivalence of a house.
22 April 2015 00:06 - For instance, Helen comes
sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
So now there's a stack of these in Porter Square Books:

The reading went really well. [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving's new paperback is very classy. Afterward [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel presented me with a hardcover reprint of Esther Averill's Jenny and the Cat Club (1973) and [livejournal.com profile] sairaali gave me a stunningly adorable hand-knitted nudibranch. I got to talk to [livejournal.com profile] schreibergasse for more than half an hour between job interviews and [livejournal.com profile] audioboy took the picture above. My book is sitting between something with a cat on it and the paperback of a novel I have been waiting for.

Evening: success.
21 April 2015 21:57 - history of 1800s China?
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Can anyone recommend me a history of China in the early 1800s or that includes that period? Ebook would be preferable. Thanks.
21 April 2015 21:06 - hmmm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
File 770 is down...

And now it's back...
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Seen in email

Ilia has moved on to the next round! She's now one of 25 groups in her area!  We're pretty proud of her, and of Jake, her brother, who produced the song (and the CD), and is the drummer as well.
You can vote daily for the next week, and you can vote in all of the regions (info below)...
The link to Ilia's song is: http://m.music.cbc.ca/artists/Ilia-Nicoll
Thanks for supporting independent music!
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
The character is a lawyer entering a nightclub:

As she swished toward the spiral staircase, she cut a wake through demons and skeletal Craftsmen, vampires and priests and technomancers and a deep purple, multi-tentacled horror it took her a moment to place as a client from a decade back.

Talk about "hit the ground running" - this fantasy begins with Tara, a young wizard-lawyer, literally crashing to earth after getting flung out of floating magical law school. After attempt to live a quiet life in her home village ends catastrophically due to a darkly hilarious culture clash involving ordinary people's lack of appreciation for having their dead loved ones raised as mindless zombies, however helpful that might be in terms of fighting off an invasion, she heads for the big city, where she is hired as legal representation and wizard for a temple hoping to resurrect their dead God.

The year is still young, but this is my favorite fantasy that I've read so far this year. It reminded me a little of Terry Pratchett and a little of P. C. Hodgell - the wry tone, the bizarre and bustling city, the sense that even the walk-ons have their own motivations, the multiple plotlines that come together into a satisfying whole, and the sheer exuberant inventiveness. It's written in omniscient, with a narrator who periodically comments (usually hilariously) on the action. The law-based magic system is one of the most interesting and original I've encountered. And embedded in a whole lot of action, legal maneuvering, and magic is a thoughtful look at consent, free will, and whether the ends justify the means.

Even the worst characters have comprehensible motives, and while there's some gruesome violence and acts of highly dubious morality, it's not a grimdark world. Some characters learn empathy, some hit bottom and rise from there, and others have more everyday epiphanies, like getting better at their jobs or making new friends. The heroine is ruthless and terrible at human interactions, but not malicious; "What do you mean, you're running me out of town with pitchforks because I resurrected your dead loved ones as zombies to fight off the enemy? They died fighting to protect you all; I'm sure it's what they'd have wanted!" is typical of how she starts out. It's not where she ends. But my favorite character is the bewildered young priest who chain-smokes to stay in touch with the memory of his beloved fire God.

Highly recommended. I can't wait to read the next books.

Three Parts Dead (Craft Sequence)
ceciliatan: (default)

nla-writing-award-logo-250pxJust got this press release from NLA! Congrats to all these talented writers! Winners will be announced on May 1st!


(Columbus, OH) — National Leather Association – International (NLA-I), a leading organization for activists in the pansexual SM/leather/fetish community, announced today the semi-finalists for its annual writing awards. Named after activists and writers Geoff Mains, John Preston, Pauline Reage, Cynthia Slater, and the groundbreaking organization Samois, they are awarded annually to recognize excellence in writing and publishing about Leather, SM, bondage and fetishes.

The semi-finalists for the Cynthia Slater Non-fiction Article Award are:

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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

21 April 2015 11:53 - assorted news
jinian: (bold bananas)
One evening last week, I was walking down the hill with [personal profile] rushthatspeaks past the community garden, and I saw a bright green bird in the undergrowth. What was a lovebird doing there? Unusually and luckily, the garden was actually open, so I went in and, with a little help, caught the bird. It seemed small if it was a lovebird, maybe a young one, and it wasn't going to make it outdoors despite its alertly biting the heck out of my hand as I held it. (In retrospect I think it was actually a parrotlet, not a bird I'd encountered before -- all green with a flash of blue on its behind, and the photos look right.) We were discussing how to keep a bird safe from cats at either of our houses until its owner should find it, but, also unusually and luckily, there was a cop parked right there, and I asked him what one should do with a found parrot. He called Animal Control and they came within about fifteen minutes to pick it up. They keep it for a couple weeks waiting for an owner to prove ownership by answering security questions, then send it to "a nice shelter" for adoption. The cop was very nice about the whole thing. I hope the bird is doing well; it had a bare tummy and some caked-on waste, but it seemed so alert that I think it was only messy because of its scary day out huddled on the ground.

Later that evening, there were magical cookies. I'd made some of my regular peanut butter cookie dough and just put it into the fridge. Keeping dough overnight vastly improves regular chocolate chip cookies, so when we baked some of the dough I wondered if it would be better. YES. YES IT WAS. Somehow butterscotch notes were in there, and the cookies were completely amazing. Had I measured the peanut butter? Of course not. As of last night I have now made another batch of dough, some of which is in the fridge right now, to see if the miracle can be repeated. Maybe the almond milk is important? We shall see.

In other news, I am going to Woods Hole (apparently some people haven't heard of it? most famous marine laboratory in the US) for a short course this summer! Being at the beach for ten days in late July will be great, and I will learn a lot about molecular evolution that's going to be very useful for my job. My mom says we visited there on my college tour (20 years ago, I remember nothing), and she wasn't impressed because it wasn't fancy, so it's probably exactly the sort of marine station I already know I love from Friday Harbor. Looking forward to it very much!

Also I am very brave today. I made an appointment to talk to my surgeon again about going on hormones to suppress the endometriosis, because I'm having trouble again already. I really hate being on hormones, and what she wants to do is a shot that lasts three months (so no take-backs). Potential issues include: BASICALLY MENOPAUSE, plus all the other wonders of getting sick more often and lacking mental focus that I've already had from hormones. This is fairly terrible, but apparently my other option is chronic pain, which isn't acceptable either. So, we will discuss it on May 6.
21 April 2015 10:00 - Good Times Roll
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

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

That night there was something of a party at the hotel. Not an official industry type party, nothing that formal, although there were some industry people there. Like Jordan. And some friends. Like Matthew. I guess it was more of a mass hangout than a party, do you know what I mean?

I had a long conversation with Matthew about essentially nothing, which was really kind of nice, you know? He was doing well, so was his partner, one of his photos had been picked for some prestigious thing I didn’t quite get the name of, but mostly we just…talked. I know most people take for granted that talking with an old friend should be easy but I never take any social situation for granted. I have the ability to fuck them up no matter how stress free they should be.

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21 April 2015 07:50 - It’s Alive!
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

My web host, SFF.net, has been down for close to a week while they wait for Verizon to fix … I don’t even know anymore. SFF.net has been posting updates over on Twitter, and it sounds like things still aren’t completely fixed yet, but they’ve hotwired some servers or duct taped some fiber optics together to get most of their services working.

So, some stuff to catch up on…

Transformers: Age of Extinction: I said I’d livetweet this movie if y’all raised at least $500 for RAINN and other rape crisis centers. So far, people have contributed closer to $600, so I sat down and subjected myself to almost three hours of Michael Bay’s vision on Saturday. The results are all collected on Storify. Note to self: next time, ask for more money…

Book Stuff: I’ve signed and returned contracts for a Spanish edition of all four Magic ex Libris books, to be published in Latin America. Which is pretty darn cool!

Invisible 2: Page proofs will be going out to contributors soon. I’ve also seen a draft of the cover art, and I’m quite happy with it. So far, so good!

Hugo Awards: I started up a #HugoProposal tag on Twitter the other day, trying to create a bit of humor in the midst of this mess. Here’s one of my favorites:

Three Hugos for Mil-SF and their space marines;
Seven for the grimdark-lords in their halls of blood;
Nine for mortal fans doomed to blog;
One for Neil Gaiman on his dark throne
In the Land of Worldcon where the Shadows lie.

There’s more, including a bunch of book reviews I need to do, but I’m gonna go ahead and click “Publish” to make sure this goes up before Verizon breaks anything else.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

21 April 2015 07:51 - Rethinking my Hugo voting
lizw: Tiffany Aching looking up at the sky, with the words "Tiffany Aching is thinking Third Thoughts" (third thoughts)
I'm beginning to have doubts about the voting strategy I outlined in my previous post on the Hugos (LJ/DW), where I said I would place No Award ahead of any slate nominees that had not distanced themselves from the slate, even if they were not themselves actively involved in the disgusting hate speech that some of the ringleaders have spewed over our fandom. Essentially there are two things giving me pause:

Firstly, Vox Day has said that he will treat No Award as a victory for the Rabid Puppies. Not that he necessarily gets to declare unilaterally what the victory conditions are, but it does suggest that my previous approach of ranking No Award ahead of almost all slate candidates would not send the message I wanted it to. Arguably nothing would, because Vox Day will try to spin just about anything into a victory, but if there's no way of achieving your goal, it makes all the more sense to redefine what you're trying to do. Tl;dr: Maybe GRRM is right and the answer is just to vote on merit. )
20 April 2015 21:01 - from beneath you, it devours
metaphortunate: (Default)
Today I spent two hours trying to de-rat poop the garage and the basement. I now understand something deeply in my soul that I did not truly understand before. I mean, if you had said it to me, I would have agreed, but I didn't know it. And that thing is: whatever you do not clean will be dirty.

God. Think about all the parts of your house that you don't clean. Under the stove. Behind the refrigerator. The cracks in the windowsills. The space under the sink. The gaps where things don't quite meet. The rot under the plywood, the crumbling of the foundations. Think of the dirt collecting there. Think of the silverfish and spider eggs and black mold waiting there to diffuse out into the air you breathe. It turns out we have never mopped the garage floor and as a result parts of it are made out of humus. There were parts so dusty I went to mop them with my 10% bleach solution and it just beaded up and ran off. Waves of spiders ran from me. I didn't even get to it all, because I would have had to move the 50 lbs of old paint cans that the previous owners left us. I am never going to feel clean again, I am never going to feel safe in my house again, and I kind of want to secede from my skin because it's been touching everything around me.
20 April 2015 16:46 - [photos] lizards
yhlee: Flight Rising Spiral dragon, black-red-gold (Flight Rising Jedao baby Spiral)
Long-haired human lizard:

(caught trying to avoid being photographed at the library)

Shorn lizard with unsuspecting parent:

Reptilian lizard spotted on the wall of our house:

Mmm, lizards. :)
sovay: (Rotwang)
Reminder: I am reading tomorrow evening at Porter Square Books with Greer Gilman. She will have paperback copies of Cloud & Ashes: Three Winter's Tales, I will have copies of Ghost Signs. Tuesday, April 21st. Seven o'clock. Expect hauntings. I hope to see many of you there!
20 April 2015 11:37 - Protagonists and Villains
swan_tower: (Default)

This post is going to talk about the new Daredevil TV series. It isn’t really spoilery, but if you want to avoid all hint of what the characters do in later eps, be warned that I do hint.

So my husband and I finished watching Daredevil last night. I liked it well enough; there were some elements I really appreciated, and it turns out I have some hard-coded subconscious switch that responds really well to black masks tied at the back of the head, because they remind me of the Man in Black from The Princess Bride. :-P (I actually didn’t want to see him get his proper costume, because I liked the simple black mask so much.) If you want to chat about the show in general in the comments, feel free.

What I’m here to talk about is Karen Page and Wilson Fisk.


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

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