a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
2 September 2014 17:49 - [Stories] Magician's Feast
yhlee: Animated icon of sporkiness. (sporks (rilina))
For [personal profile] cohomology. Prompt: recursive pepper. (Okay, so maybe it's a bit of a stretch...)

(Spork of fooding, not spork of sporkiness!)

Once, in a far land, there lived a magician whose great passion was not her studies but her food. In her youth she had applied herself passionately to her studies, but her particular school of magic emphasized asceticism and long hours of meditation. However, once she left her teachers and founded her own tower (she was enough of a traditionalist to prefer a tower, and humane enough to call it out of the earth's bones in a remote location where it wouldn't trigger seismic disturbances or ghost-plagues), her discipline began to slip. Away from her teachers and her solemn fellow students, it was not long before she began dreaming up feasts of custard and roast goose, couscous and eggplant, quail eggs and minty lemonades.

Traders soon learned of the new tower from far-wanderers and dream-seekers. The first ones brought the usual goods favored by magicians: whirring jeweled orreries, dried plum petals gathered from cloud-veiled peaks during the new moon, crystals brimming over with their own iridescence. Although the magician was too kind to say so outright, none of these tools of her trade interested her much. She bought some of this and that so that the traders would see some profit for their journey, and bid them come back next time with exotic foods.

The traders went away well-provisioned and laden with the kinds of small gifts that only a magician could provide, such as charms of trebuchet-warding (very useful in certain siege-ridden parts of the world), bat-binding, and may-your-sewing-needles-never-break. And then the magician settled back into her existence of meditations broken by the occasional galloping thunderstorm, and the even more occasional fantasy of chicken stuffed with rice, jujubes, and chestnuts, or tea-of-quinces.

The magician was not entirely idle during this time. Her mechanical servants gathered rarities such as firefowl eggs (the yolks had an unfortunate tendency to overcook) and mistfruit and the milk of dragons. At first these foods pleased her, but after a while her palate grew jaded and even these palled.

A year passed and the traders returned. This time there were three-fruit marmalades and rose liqueurs; a herd of plump, comically nearsighted goats ready for the slaughter; kumquat pickles in jars painted jewel-bright. The magician took in the goats but did not have the heart to roast them.

The traders had yet one more surprise for the magician: a jar of chopped dried pepper, piquantly red and to be handled only with gloves. (The magician had plenty of those.)

"A pepper?" the magician said, a little dubiously. It wasn't that she disliked spicy food--she liked it very much indeed--but she wasn't sure how far a single pepper would go.

"Its taste is very subtle," said the oldest and wisest of the traders. "But chop it fine and sprinkle a little of it over each meal you wish to make special, and someday it will reward you." More than that they would not say.

Years upon years passed. The magician experimented with the pepper, and found its taste so subtle that she could not detect it at all. Nevertheless, each year when the traders stopped by, she made use of it in preparing the welcome dinner so that they would not think her unappreciative.

At last illness came upon the magician, and she knew that death would overtake her before the traders came again. Moved by whimsy, she made herself a simple meal and seasoned it with the mysterious pepper. But this time, when she ate, all the memories of those previous dinners came back to her: not just the savor of roast boar or rare slices of beef alternating with candied ginger, but the traders' convivial stories of seas where squid danced paeans to the kelp-gods, and the way they had laughed at the antics of her mechanical servants, and the pleasure of company after long months alone. And so it was at the end of her life that the magician finally understood the true value of what the traders had brought to her in their yearly visits.
2 September 2014 16:41 - give a book a home!
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
Anyone want my extra contributor's copy of The Mammoth Book of Warriors and Wizardry, ed. Sean Wallace? It includes my story "Effigy Nights," as well as stories by N.K. Jemisin, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Aliette de Bodard, Saladin Ahmed, and more.

Leave a comment (or email me at yoon at yoonhalee dot com) if interested. I will decide by (pseudo)random generator at some point. Shipping's on me anywhere reasonable in the world (so, bottom of the Mariana Trench, not so much).

(Unrelated note: [personal profile] cohomology, I swear I'm working on your flashfic right now.)
2 September 2014 14:27 - Books read, August 2014
swan_tower: The Long Room library at Trinity College, Dublin (Long Room)

Surgery meant lots of time on the couch. Lots of time on the couch meant lots of reading. (Also lots of photo-editing. And movie-watching. And passing out so I wouldn’t be awake to hate the boot.)

Read the rest of this entry » )

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

catvalente: (pic#941394)

This is a horror story. I’m serious. It will thick your blood with cold; it will turn your hair the color of terror. We begin in London, amid the fog and freezing rain…

As some of you know, I spent the better part of August in the UK. I went to Worldcon, I went to Yorkshire on a research trip for a new book, I met David Tennant and Peter Davison (!), saw some old and new friends, learned to take the London Tube system as my legal spouse, to love, honor, and cherish it under construction and in good service, made puns as part of a Worldcon version of the iconic British radio show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, and ate approximately All the Pies. Important to note: my partner in crime during all of this running about was one Heath Miller, actor, director, secretly a Muppet in a human suit.

The other thing we did in London? Comedy. Now, I may not have made it totally clear how much I love stand-up comedy. I love it all the way. If I could I would probably go see comics two or three times a week. Even when it’s terrible, I still love it. I can’t even really explain why. Some loves are just pure. They have no provenance. They just are. Sketch comedy and improv also, but stand-up is tops for me. I spent so many hours watching old-school Comedy Central at 3 am, and only recently have actually gotten to go see live comedy, and OMG it smells awful and the food sucks and the drinks are weak and the walls smell like cigarettes and sometimes the comics are just the most old-timey misogynist jerks and you never know whether it will be any good at all or not and it is THE BEST. I know, it’s weird. But Dave Atell showed up to do a surprise set at the Comedy Cellar and it was my birthday and it was all I could do not to scream like he was The Beatles because EEEEE REMEMBER INSOMNIAC I LOVED THAT SHOW THAT SHOW IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. He did ten minutes about dogs and cats. It was awesome.

The point is, my comedy appetite approaches the insatiable. When Heath and I first started seeing shows together, I don’t really think he believed me when I said I am a Fan of stand-up as much as I am of SFF. He thought I’d bail the first time someone got up and complained about their wife. But I know that people being awful is just a standard hazard of watching comedians, like SFF has alien words with apostrophes in the middle of them or thinly veiled versions of orcs.

So we went to Edinburgh, where I went to University for awhile, and where my dear and nearly-oldest friend Kaite Welsh lives, and it was Fringetime, so holy crap we saw a lot of comedy. Most of it was great. One was memorably terrible–but half the fun of seeing live theater of any kind is talking about it afterward. It is our general philosophy that you either get your money’s worth from the show being wonderful or from the entertainment of tearing bad art apart afterward and figuring out how you would fix it if you were In Charge of That Thing. So I get value even from execrable theater. I am comfortable with the roulette-wheel of This-Thing-Costs-Way-More-Than-A-Movie-Or-Book-And-It-Might-Really-Suck. It’s COOL.

THE STAGE, SHE IS SET. Buckle up, kids.

Picture Heath and I, at the end of August, exhausted from traveling, both of us having brought a nasty cold home as a Yorkshire souvenir, climbing into the back of a lovely black car we’d arranged to take us to Heathrow. Looking forward to a long, quiet ride. Because one thing I’ve always loved about British drivers of cabs and car services has always been that they don’t try to talk to you the whole time. Sure, they may appear to hate you like the plague, but they won’t tell you about it. Here in Maine, it’s basically a constant barrage of questions and weirdness (my last cab in Portland? The guy drove with the driver’s seat reclined all the way into my lap, complaining the whole time that he was neither high nor drunk right now and really ought to be).

Oh, we were so innocent then.

He seemed like a perfectly nice man. He started talking right away, but he was charming and pleasant. He was from Pakistan. He switched accents flawlessly about four times in two minutes while telling us where he was from and the assumptions people make about him. We were delighted. For a moment, a precious, shining moment suspended in the air like a brief, crystal raindrop, we were delighted.

Then, he put a portable DVD player in my hands. While driving. One already open, on, and cued to his performance at the Comedy Store Gong Night.

It was like looking into the abyss.

He told a couple of jokes. Not stand-up really, just question and answer jokes. The answers were 100% the most racist, sexist, ableist things I’ve ever heard out of a performer’s mouth in real life. When he ran out of those, he just tossed the mic from one hand to the other over and over, and when that ceased to amuse even the most hardcore microphone-tossing fetishist, he just dropped and started DOING PUSH-UPS on the stage. My mind has refused to retain the jokes themselves, having some sense of the traumatic ripple effect of holding those punchlines next to the more important, functioning parts of my brain. If I remembered them, I’d never write anything again. I’d just stare at the screen repeating: “If I had a dog named Syndrome, whenever someone came over to my house and rang the doorbell I could yell Down, Syndrome!” Oh, God. The emptiness. The dark.

We handed the player back, pale and shaking from our brush with utter nihilism. We thought it was over. I remember us then, so young. So gentle-hearted.

He worked us over with a few “What do you call a deer with no eyes?” numbers, which we just answered wearily (No idear) and prayed for death. I can’t even watch a television show in which the characters embarrass themselves. I hide my face like it’s a slasher movie, not a sitcom. So my heart was already trying to hide behind my liver like a kid watching the Daleks from behind a damn couch.

But then it happened. He asked us how broad-minded we were. Now, normally, when asked that question, I expect something good and wholesome to follow. Something that speaks to the world becoming more open and honest. Coming out. A confession of being aroused by Victorian rocking horses. A nice threeway. Hell, even “Would you mind carrying this package of drugs back to America with you?” would be better, warmer, fuzzier, than what was actually about to fall out of this guy’s mouth. So I made a non-committal sound. A “yes, I am broad-minded but mostly I am please-stop-you’re-hurting-me-minded so unless this is going to turn into something else please stop” kind of whimper. But Heath is wiser than I. He knew it was code. Code for: how offensive can I be right now? How shit can I make the shit I’m about to say?

Heath said: We are not. Broad-minded. At all.

It didn’t matter. The ritual to raise the Old Gods was already in progress. There was nothing we could do to stop it.

The driver started talking about how you can’t make good jokes anymore. Everyone’s so sensitive. Like, he can’t even tell that Down, Syndrome! joke anymore. (Heath broke through our rictus of politeness at that point and said: that’s because it’s a terrible joke. I couldn’t manage more than a sustained, high-pitched whine like my dogs make when there’s thunder outside. Good for him. I was trained too well to be polite to strangers. I could feel my manners trying to claw their way out of my eyes and flee screaming, but I clung to them. They were all I had.) But really, it should be ok for him to make jokes like that because he can take the mickey out of himself as well. At which point streamed forth a river of blisteringly racist anti-Pakistani “jokes” (The mildest one, and thus the only one my benevolent brain has allowed me to retain is: When I tell people I’m from Lahore, they think my mother’s a French prostitute!) that made him giggle like a schoolkid while I slid down in my seat, trying to vanish into the leather, whispering to the lock: Please, God, make me a bird, so I can fly far, far, far away.

At this point, it was clear he was just practicing his “act” on us. And it wouldn’t end because we had no Gong to bang. We literally couldn’t leave. We were a captive audience–actually captives, in a four-door prison hurtling down the highway, driven by a warden barely paying attention to the road because he had to keep looking in the rearview to see our reaction to his star turn. He kept saying: you gotta have a hobby. It’s not easy, is it, being on stage. Writing material. It’s not easy!

Thing is, this driver was in a car with a writer and an actor. Both of whom have directed theater, both of whom have written comedy, both of whom are semi-professional dissectors of performance. Both of whom find being on stage and writing material pretty damn enjoyable most of the time. It is not our hobby. It is our job. So we rallied. We made the decision individually and began almost in unison. We thought: we can make him better. We can teach him. We have the technology. Mostly, we can make him stop talking if we talk louder.

We started giving him notes. Hey, you know, you’re pretty good at accents, that bit in the beginning was great, when you were telling us about expectations. You know, you could really make something of that, play with an audience so they don’t know what your real accent is, so they’re forced to examine their own preconceptions. And that really works better with story-based comedy rather than one-liner jokes, which is not really what stand-up is all about anymore. Try telling a story, something personal, something real, and shifting your voice so that your voice becomes part of the story. It could really work for you.

You see? We tried. Tried to engage, to help, to share what we knew. To steer him without pissing off the guy who held our lives in his hands, careening between cars and not wearing a seatbelt. When we die fifty years from now, grandchildren gathered around us, clocks stopped in the hall, the light softly fading on the mantle, both of us will whisper with our last, rattling breath: we tried.

And it seemed to unlock something deep in his soul. Something too big to keep inside.

“Oh!” exclaimed he. “You mean like…” And out it came. An “Asian” “accent” right out of the Breakfast At Tiffany’s school of subtle humor and sensitivity. And he did tell a story. In that voice. Nay, not a story. A folktale from the ancient mists. We’ll call it How Chinese People Got Their Slanty Eyes. (My brain was shrieking at this point: SAFEWORD NOPE NOPE SAFEWORD FUCK I NEED AN ADULT WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME I’M A GOOD PERSON). Do you want to know how? You don’t, you really don’t. No one does. Seriously, even circuit comics in the Catskills in the 40s would have thought this was a little much. It’s because they eat too much “flied lice” and it made them constipated, at which point, as a people, the Chinese nation strained so hard to take one massive, colossal shit that their eyes went slanty forever there is no God or goodness love is dead and the sun is as sackcloth. It was like being stuck in a car with a Dementor. Then he switched to a “funny” “black” voice and I felt as thought I’d never be cheerful again.

I feel like London was with us in that car. Sitting between us with a beer and a microphone yelling: YOU LIKE COMEDY, DO YOU? I HEARD YOU LIKE A BIT OF COMEDY. BIT OF NICE COMEDY ALL UP IN YOUR EARS? YEAH, COME ON, YOU LOVE IT. COULDN’T LET YOU GO WITHOUT A BIT MORE, COULD I? WHY, YOU WERE JUST SAYING YOU WISHED YOU COULD STAY A LITTLE LONGER AND SEE A FEW MORE SHOWS IN MY WEST END, WEREN’T YOU? YEAH, YOU WERE. WANTED YOUR GIGGLES, DID YOU? WELL, HERE YOU GO. DON’T SAY I NEVER DID ANYTHING FOR YOU. A WHOLE HALF HOUR SHOW, JUST FOR YOU. YEAH, I KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE. GET IT ALL OVER YOU, ALL OVER YOUR FACE. STOP COMPLAINING. COMEDY’S THE BEST. YOU SAID SO. YOU SAID YOU COULD SEE IT EVERY NIGHT. I HEARD YOU. I LOVE YOU AND I WANT YOU TO BE HAPPY. STOP PLUGGING YOUR EARS. WHY ARE YOU CLAWING AT THE WINDOW? COMEDY, YEAH, LAUGH IT UP, YOU COLONIAL FUCKING PEASANT PILLOCKS, LAUGH!

And I was. Clawing the window. Tapping the glass. Crumpled against the arm rest, my back turned toward the driver to protect my precious internal organs from shrapnel. I envied the birds outside, trying to land on pigeon-proof spikes. What is freedom? What is life? What is silence?

We kept trying. We were valiant. We would not give up on him. No, no, that’s still racist, we insisted. Like really, really racist. Tell a story. About you. About your life. Something personal. And for a moment, just a moment, a little butterfly of a moment flitting through the summer grass, he seemed to stop and think. And said: “You mean like…my father came to this country in 1963 with only five quid in his pocket.” Yes! “That’s the great thing about Britain, you can come with nothing and you can really make something of yourself.” Yes! “And now my Dad still has five quid in his pocket–it’s the same five quid!” No! Well, I mean, it’s the least racist thing you’ve said, only implies that Pakistanis are cheap, so I guess that’s progress? It’s not good but it’s better…

And with manic glee, he looked back at me and said: “Listening to my wife is like agreeing to the Terms of Service on a website. I have no idea what it means but I always click ok!”

ARE YOU A ROBOT? A ROBOT PROGRAMMED WITH NOTHING BUT JOKES WRITTEN BY HATEFUL TIM, THE HAPPY BIGOT, WHO LIVES UNDER A ROCK IN BRIXTON AND DEMANDS TRIBUTE FROM ALL WHO PASS HIM BY? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME? I AM A WOMAN, WHY DO YOU THINK THAT ONE WOULD REALLY ZING ME? AM I ON SOME KIND OF PRANK SHOW? IS IT THE CASH CAB? IT’S THE CASH CAB ISN’T IT? THERE’S A SECRET CAMERA IN THE DASHBOARD AND NOW I’LL WIN A HUNDRED POUNDS BECAUSE I DIDN’T CRY. PLEASE SAY THEY HAVE CASH CAB OVER HERE. OR CANDID CAMERA. THE WORLD WILL MAKE SENSE AGAIN. NO, BAD ROBOT! STOP TALKING. STOP. STOP WORDS. WORDS OVER.

Heath opened his mouth to cry uncle. To surrender and beg for terms. Just stop. Whatever it takes. Just stop the violence. But we were pulling into Heathrow and it didn’t seem worth it. Nothing seemed worth it. All hope had fled the universe. We stumbled out of the car and held up our arms in the rain like it was pure Shawshank up in that car park and we’d crawled through a river of shit to come out clean. He tried to overcharge us– 20 for the ride, 10 for the show, I guess–but we had strength enough left to refuse. We watched him drive away, our ears still ringing. Did that just happen? Is that a real thing that happened in the real world? How can we ever be whole again?

So we did what we could to heal. We went to the airport bar. And alcohol said: I am a merciful god. There, there. Tell me what the bad man did. And then tell the Internet, and Lo, you shall be cleansed.

And it is done.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Golden Witchbreed

The Earth of the near-future has faster-than-light travel of a particularly powerful sort; the entire Milky Way is just 90 days from Earth. Habitable worlds are common enough [1] and much to the Dominion of Earth 's surprise generally inhabited. How to adapt when there are millions of alien civilizations on the Dominion's doorstep?
Read more... )
2 September 2014 12:14 - Magic ex Libris, Book Four
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Mostly for my own reference, today I wrote the opening paragraphs of the as-yet-untitled fourth book in the Magic ex Libris series.

I would share the first few lines, but they won’t make much sense until you’ve read Unbound [B&N | Indiebound | Amazon].

Anyway, yay! Deadpool approves of new books. And also of random violence, which should be starting in this next scene. Poor Isaac…

DEadpool2

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

swan_tower: (Default)

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

I made an undignifed spectacle of myself the evening of my mother’s birthday dinner, borrowing my father’s camera and crawling around on the porch with my butt in the air to get this photo of a bird hanging out underneath the railing. Fortunately, both my parents do enough photography that they understood. :-)

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

sovay: (Rotwang)
I sent the following by e-mail to [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel and he responded favorably, so I am transplanting it with minimal edits to the internet before I fall over and desperately try to sleep for a few hours. Not being able to breathe through my nose at all and my throat feeling swollen closed is a bad combination for my breathing comfort. (Yes, I saw a doctor. No, they didn't have anything helpful to say. I'm on antibiotics for the sinus infection, but they're not kicking in as rapidly as I would like.)

Background: Ian Sales does not like where science fiction is heading.

I started excerpting sentences to mock and critique and then I realized I was just copying every other paragraph. He longs for a kind of science fiction that (a) was never the only form of science fiction, witness all the horrible apocalyptic stories that clustered around the Great War and in some cases preceded it as people became afraid of the political and military developments that seemed inevitably on the horizon (b) excluded a great many people who lived then, live now, and are definitely going to be around in the future, failing to understand that the world wasn't simpler in the Golden Age of Science Fiction, it was just more narrowly sliced (c) was not invented by Hugo Gernsback; he coined the term that developed into the contemporary classification, but the first historically defined works of science fiction existed in the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century only accelerated the trend until the 1850's had to invent "scientific romance" to describe all the speculative novels springing up like weeds. Edgar Rice Burroughs publishes his first Barsoom novel in the 1910's. Gernsback doesn't get Amazing Stories off the ground until '26. He's also talking strictly (puzzlingly) about American sci-fi; the British tradition is and always has been either more pessimistic or more realistic, depending on whether you like that sort of thing or not. Richard Jeffries' After London was detailing the post-apocalyptic deterioration of society in 1885. There is no Great Man in The War of the Worlds (1897) unless you really feel warmly toward the common cold.
2 September 2014 04:43 - "I wish it would go back"
rosefox: Spock's pointy ear. (ear)
It's been 16 weeks since the injection.

Saturday and Sunday I had a weird sort of sensation that felt like static in my head, which may or may not be related to the ear stuff. I was also massively underslept and think that's more likely to be the culprit. But I note it here just in case.

Yesterday and today, my right ear hearing has been occluded slightly; I blamed the storm system that's been squatting over the region giving us all pressure headaches. Today I had a three-hour bout of vertigo, from about 18:45 to about 21:30, mild enough that I had to keep checking to make sure it was still going on but definitely vertigo. Symptoms )

I took two taurine and had substantial food, and it cleared up pretty quickly after that, but I'm quite certain it was neither anxiety nor hunger-dizziness; it was vertigo, and I didn't miss it at all.

I really hope it's just the atmospheric pressure and will go away when the weather breaks. If I need to get an injection in my ear every four months I will be Very Put Out.
ceciliatan: (default)

How The Line Between Fantasy and Reality Defines Consent: And Why It Matters
by Cecilia Tan

This blog post is prompted by two things that happened today. One, a male writer friend I respect a lot and who is clueful about many things including sexuality and feminism asked me: “Serious question: I’d love to hear your thoughts, as a kink-friendly feminist Asian woman, about racial fetishes. Blog post?”

The other is that right before reading his message, I had just gotten email from a reader who wrote: “Anything that makes violence abuse and torture seem more attractive, i.e. associating it with getting off sexually or glorifying in anyway, is keeping us from developing into a more enlightened society” and also “those feminists who think that rape portrayed in any format is okay are just shooting a cause in the foot.” This fan is someone that I met at a BDSM convention and their email to me says they’re okay with common consensual BDSM activities like bondage and flogging and spanking. What prompted their reaction was not the convention, but reading some of my fan fiction that featured “non-con” — non-consensual acts. (If you’re new to me: I’m a professional writer of erotica, romance, and sf/fantasy whose fiction often deals with BDSM. I also write fanfic for fun.)

You might think that someone who was okay with BDSM wouldn’t be able to make a statement like “Anything that makes violence abuse and torture seem more attractive, i.e. associating it with getting off sexually or glorifying in anyway, is keeping us from developing into a more enlightened society.” The point I’d like to make here is not that this particular fan is confused or a hypocrite, it’s to point out that this particular kind of hypocrisy is VERY COMMON. So common perhaps we should say it’s human nature, except then we’d have to accept it instead of trying to change it. And I’m trying to change it. My activism and my creative life for the past 23 years have been built on trying to change it, on the following basis:

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

2 September 2014 00:03 - "Bait and switch"
rosefox: A sci-fi landscape and the words "DISSENT IS PATRIOTIC". (uppity)
Three comics crossed my browser in sufficiently short order that I sat up and took notice. (In all cases, click the image to view the original.)


Transcript )

"You think I'm transphobic... but all I really care about is accurate costuming!"


Transcript )

"You think I'm transphobic... but all I really care about is fashion!"


Transcript )

"You think I'm transphobic... but I'm just mad about you lying to me!"

The punchline in all three cases is that the cisgender authority figure could be an asshole, but is choosing not to be... and they want to make sure the person with no power--the child or employee, the trans* or GNC person--is aware that it's a choice. It's a statement of power. I could make your life miserable, but I won't! Ha ha!

And I want to focus especially on the reaction shots, first distress:



And then elation:



These people are so upset at what sounds like scorn, and then so grateful for what turns out to be (or look like) respect and acceptance, that they don't even notice the way "respect and acceptance" have been recast as gifts rather than as simply what they deserve for being human. The children are particularly vulnerable to this, because few things are more devastating to a child than the threat of a parent's love being withheld. The relief on Sarah's face is heartbreaking.

If respect and acceptance are gifts, rather than a person's birthright, they can be taken back, or bargained for. That makes for a very unpleasant dynamic when it's combined with the dependence of a parent/child or employer/employee relationship. And the emotional weight of that combination is what the creators of these comics are drawing on when they write these jokes.

When the power differential is removed, friends can come out to friends and have it be no big deal:


Transcript )


Transcript )

No tears or glowing relief there--just a brief awkward moment of "So what do we talk about now?".

Or they can talk and argue and say foolish things and learn from each other as equals, as in the Irma/Irving arc from The Princess, which is too long to quote here but is really excellent.

But add the element of power and you get gripping emotional tension. And comics creators are choosing over and over to use that tension to fuel a joke, without really thinking about what it feels like when someone who has a lot of power over you, someone you respect very much and possibly even love, has just said something that sounds a lot like a condemnation of your identity and/or self-expression. That moment is devastating, and no table-turning additional context can redeem the thoughtless cruelty of an authority figure saying something like "Take that off immediately before the neighbors see you!" or "No one will take you seriously" to a person who is in a tremendously vulnerable place.

I will give some leeway to the creator of The Princess, because so much of the comic is about Wendy and Sarah's relationship, and Wendy slowly coming to terms with Sarah being trans. The very first strip was Wendy yelling at Sarah to stop wearing a dress. The comic up there, where she says she's going to donate Sarah's boy clothes, is strip #500. So their relationship is a lot more than a one-off joke, and full credit for that! That said, the ellipsis between panels 3 and 4 is massively unfair to both Sarah and the reader, and so is Wendy's angry tone. Sarah has no happier expectations of "Go straight up to your room and open your closet--" than James/Batgirl has of "Take that off immediately before the neighbors see you!". Her face in panel 3 makes that clear.

As a bonus, in the first two comics we get cis people being experts on how to be trans*/GNC correctly. "You don't want to be wearing the clothes you're wearing! You want to be wearing these other clothes that follow the rules. Poor clueless person who doesn't know how to gender. Since I am fortunate enough to have a lifetime's experience in being exactly one gender, I will help you to learn gendering, for you are like a newborn lamb tottering about on wobbly gender-legs." I'm the first to acknowledge that cis men have provided me with a tremendous amount of useful advice on menswear and I'm very grateful for it, but you know, if someone's first reaction to seeing me in a men's suit was to tell me that it was out of date and also my haircut sucked, I would find that really goddamn rude. So even the "respect and acceptance" isn't, really. What if the employee's tie was his grandfather's and it means a lot to him to wear it? What if Batgirl hates wearing yellow and enjoys walking around in impractical shoes? Why does being accepted mean being pressed to conform to particular dictates of fashion?

Well, because this culture sucks and its notions of gender are inescapably about conforming to gender norms. But perpetuation of that is not acceptance. Especially when it comes to GNC folks, and to people who are just starting down a new path of gender expression and have to maintain two separate wardrobes and are low-level employees who can't afford a lot of new clothes, and to people who have their own fashion sense, and to people--both children and adults, but especially children--who need room to play around and experiment and explore and figure out what they like. That newborn lamb needs to totter about on its own for its legs to get stronger so that it can leap off to wherever it pleases.

Accepting someone as e.g. male doesn't mean crushing them into a tidy little packet of 100% Grade A Extruded Maleness. It means saying "Oh hey, nice haircut, and I like that tie" the way you'd say it to anyone else who cut their hair and wore a tie. It means treating them like an individual person who gets to make individual choices.

I'm not criticizing people for laughing at these strips. I laughed at the Batgirl one, which was the first of the three that I saw. It's very easy to fall into the cultural pattern of thinking this sort of thing is funny, of sharing the trans*/GNC character's relief at not being stepped on like a bug and turning that relief into laughter even as the "respect" comes in the form of a backhanded insult compounded by social pressure that makes it nearly impossible to decline what crumbs are offered. (If the employee really liked his tie and didn't want to change it, do you think he felt free to say so to his very vehement boss? I don't.) But in actual real life, it's not funny. In actual real life, it hurts a lot. In actual real life, it's incredibly unpleasant to have people act like the only two ways to treat you are to either reject you or force you to conform. And the repetition of it really got to me.

I know pain is the root of a lot of comedy. But when this particular pain is made into a punchline over and over again, I have to ask why, and to challenge creators to do better.
metaphortunate: (Default)
I've been trying to expand my musical horizons lately: break out of my rut, not be that person who only likes the stuff they liked when they were 17. I mean, I will always love me some butt rock, but why stagnate? So I've been trying different things, on the child feeding principle that you have to try things three or four times before you really know if you like them.

It turns out I enjoy opera! Quite a bit! I guess that's not so surprising considering how much I have always loved prog metal. And I have started listening to country, and discovered that there is a lot to like. One thing about country that especially speaks to me these days: there's a lot of country songs about kids and childrearing. Everything from the sentimentality of "There Goes My Life" or "He Didn't Have To Be" to the bitter humor of "One's On The Way".

And I have also been listening to hip-hop, and before anyone brings up the ~misogyny~ of hip-hop let me tell you a little story about Ray LaMontagne. Because Spotify served me up a Ray LaMontagne song on my country radio - Spotify, by the way, is fantastic if you want to listen to new music! - a quiet, beautiful song called "Like Rock and Roll & Radio" that I immediately fell wildly in love with. I must hear more of this, I thought. So I pulled up the album, started from the beginning, and on the first song the singer expresses his intent to beat his ex-girlfriend like he says her father should have. Your sensitive white people folk music, ladies and gentlemen! It turns out that I am completely used to a certain level of misogyny in my music, that I just grimly live with, and staying under that level, well, it's not hard. Plenty of rap music turns out to easily clear that bar.

But because I'm sort of off sausage fests these days anyway, I went looking for female hip hop artists, and that's what I've been listening to lately. And I've learned a couple of things.

One:
I can get into Angel Haze's flow or Rah Digga's energy as much as I like, but I can never, ever, ever sing along with any of their music. And some of that shit is catchy! This is a problem! This is worse than the time I found myself singing "Uncle Fucker" under my breath at work! And it is, to me, a KEEP OUT sign placed all over the music.

For which I do not in any way blame the artists, mind you: considering that the entire history of music in America is the history of black people coming up with musical forms and white people coming up with ways to take them over and make money off of them, if I were a talented black MC, I would spraypaint THIS IS OUR SHIT, EVERYONE ELSE KEEP OUT all over my work in any way possible.

And, again, I'm totally used to spending all my time playing in other people's sandboxes. For example. Prog metal. Completely infested by the kinds of guys who, as Neal Stephenson wrote, sincerely believe that they are way too smart to be sexist. Let's take a moment to revisit Queensryche's classic concept album Operation: Mindcrime, musically a work of genius, lyrically an unintentionally hilarious celebration of manpain which reaches its nadir when the main character finds the dead body of his beloved, his only friend, the ex-hooker nun who's been providing him social services, and tearfully, rhetorically asks who's going to fix his meals now. …Yeah. Well, that was the soundtrack of my adolescence, so I'm totally used to enjoying music that has enormous IT'S NOT FOR YOU signs plastered all over it. It's not a dealbreaker. I'm happy to live with it. But I don't stop noticing it, either.

Two:
I know hip-hop deals with as many subjects as any other musical genre, but the playlists I am checking out, they seem to be hitting the high points. And the most popular songs in the genre, by female artists, seem to overwhelmingly be about: 1) being sexy at the club; and 2) triumphing over other bitches. And that's not speaking to me. I'm lucky enough to be at a point in my life where I don't really have any bitches that I need to triumph over. Like, not personally. There are lots of people I wish would just die, but that's more for political reasons. And as far as being sexy at the club, I can't remember the last time I was at a club; and I can remember the last time I was sexy, and it was right around when I got pregnant with Rocket, and that was a pretty long time ago in terms of that sort of thing, and I'm not sure that I'll ever be sexy again. And it turns out that listening to all these songs about triumphing at sexy are making me feel worse about myself, in the way of "don't read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly."

Hey, speaking, of which, I have a question: how do you deal with the end of sexy? If you are a member of the sex class, that is the person in the relationship whose body's power of attraction is meant to create desire not only in your partner but also in yourself ("I have to imagine he is fucking you just so I can climax"): how do you deal with it if your looks, your power of attraction, such as it ever may have been, is gone, but you are in what is meant to be a sexual relationship and you would kind of like it to continue as such? Do me a favor and leave aside completely the question of whether this is relevant to me at this very moment. No, I'm serious. If we're lucky enough to live long, if we're lucky enough to have lovers if we want them, it will become relevant if it's not now. I'm not gonna age like Helen Mirren or whoever, I'm gonna age like an ordinary person without massive amounts of plastic surgery, and that means I'm gonna age more like those mysterious things you eventually unearth with horror in the back of the fridge. So how do you have a sexual relationship when your body contains all the sexual magic of old Gorgonzola? Do you decide that it's the other person's turn to be sexy? Can you both just decide that? Do you keep the lights off forever now? Do you try to create a sexual narrative that doesn't include sexiness? How do you do that? Help me figure it out, y'all, I found a white armpit hair in the shower this morning, I need some damn songs about that.
2 September 2014 00:19 - Hmmm.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
"Books people recommended to me that I am still bitter about having read" could be a whole series.
1 September 2014 22:09 - Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit!
wcg: (Default)


Happy Kalends of Septembris.
1 September 2014 20:56 - Rest in Power
phi: (Default)
I didn't know [personal profile] delux_vivens well, but even so, she was so important and influential in my life. Here are some of the things she taught me: how to give not a single solitary fuck about the opinions of people I don't respect, to accept nothing less than the best from myself and the people closest to me, to value my existence in this world for the precious thing it is, to never ever be ashamed of afraid of my sexuality. She was strong and funny and smart and had the best collection of manflesh images of anyone I knew. For a long while, seeing a chat window from her pop up on my screen -- she always greeted me with a bright "Yoohoo" -- was the highlight of my day. We hadn't chatted just for the hell of it in a long time; I'd gone through a period where I just wasn't responding or interacting with anyone at all. I kept meaning to reach out to her again, to tell her I missed her and ask what was new with her. I wish I had. The world is a poorer sadder place without Delux in it.

Tell your friends you love them. Do it now. Don't worry about looking awkward or mawkish or whatever, just make sure your people know how much they matter.
1 September 2014 17:57 - disturbing things
yhlee: Night Vale clock (Night Vale (credit: <user name="busaikko)
1. Since we bought a box of truffles from Godiva at the mall (it's one of the few places at the mall that is worth stopping in, the place doesn't even have a bookstore) we got a free "trufflata" (sp?). It was so chocolatey that I tried it 3.5 sips' worth and each time my mind blanked out at how chocolatey it was. I could not actually remember the chocolate level after I swallowed because my brain wouldn't deal. Even the lizard, after drinking down half the trufflata, gave up and declared that she was never touching one again because it was too much chocolate.

(Poor Godiva! I still enjoy their truffles--I'm not a chocolate connoisseur but they are reliably tasty. And not as spendy as Vosges, which is probably special occasions only.)

Also, I should maybe have remembered that while I do drink hot chocolate now and again, by some quirk I am unable to handle (cold) chocolate milk. The last three times I attempted to drink chocolate milk, on three separate occasions, I threw up. I don't know why, but I find the stuff nauseating. (And yet the artificially flavored banana milk we got in Korea was fine.) At least this time I had the good sense to give up early on in the enterprise.

2. It is not so much that the lizard spoiled the ending of Van Helsing for me, since I had no intention of seeing it, but that she had seen it (with, whom else, Grandpa) and said, "It's good! I recommend it."

3. I found my Fox Tarot deck hiding behind the Manga Tarot deck. I'm not sure what this portends, but probably something.
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
Courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks: a perfect photo. This is A.L. "Whitey" Shafer's submission to the inaugural Hollywood Studios' Still Show in 1941, incorporating all ten elements of violence, sex, and sin banned by the Production Code.



I kind of assume everybody wants to see that movie.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
But it did make me realize nobody wanted me to read this (yet) and technically it just falls within the parameters of the Tears reviews.

The Many Coloured Land

Except I only read it because one of my profs was nuts about it. Me, not so much.
swan_tower: (Default)

It’s been ten years since my first short story was published. If Amazon is to be believed, Summoned to Destiny, the anthology containing “White Shadow”, came out on September 1st, 2004. Which, as it so happens, is my birthday.

They say it takes ten years to get good at something, don’t they? That’s one of the random metrics, anyway. Ten years from my first published story to a World Fantasy nomination; not bad. :-P Of course, I was writing long before “White Shadow” came out. I got what I consider to be my first mature novel ideas when I was seventeen — ideas that ultimately became Lies and Prophecy and Doppelganger — and ten years later I was writing Midnight Never Come, which I view as one of the benchmarks of me leveling up as an author. I have no idea what I’ll be writing in 2017, since I’ll draft the last of the Memoirs next year, and (probably) The Changing Sea the year after that. But I bet it’ll be fun. :-)

Anyway! Long-time readers of this blog may recall I have a tradition — not observed every year, but going on more years than not for the last decade and more — of a “birthday egotism” post. Back in 2003, I was having kind of a blah time of it on my birthday, and decided to counteract that with a post wherein I listed awesome things about myself, with no disclaimers, caveats, or moderating language allowed. The idea is that, like many people, I am good at downplaying my own achievements, and it’s valuable to have one day where I get to just bask in the happy — especially because I can go back and look at it later, when I need a pick-me-up. So behind the cut you will find a listing of what I’ve done that I’m proud of since 2012 (that being the last time I made a birthday egotism post). It begins with the traditional phrasing:

I’m thirty-four today. What have I got to show for it?

Read the rest of this entry » )

And, because it’s the ten-year anniversary of my first published story, I want to back up and take another tally, this one going all the way back to the beginning of my experiences as a writer. I have a place where I list all the fiction I’ve completed, and I want to see what it adds up to:

    Written
  • four skit scripts
  • three puzzle game stories
  • five poems
  • one short nonfiction book
  • twenty-seven flash pieces
  • one hundred and four short stories
  • six novelettes
  • three novellas
  • fifteen novels

That’s everything, or at least as close to everything as my records can get it: published, sold, unsold, trunked, unsubmitted, fanfic, OM skits, the mystery story I wrote when I was nine. It isn’t actually everything, because I’ve probably forgotten stuff, and I know for certain that it doesn’t include any of the fiction I’ve written for RPG characters, which has added up to rather a lot over the years. But it’s the most complete count I have. A more discriminating list:

    Published or completed and forthcoming
  • one short nonfiction book
  • seventeen flash pieces
  • thirty-eight short stories
  • four novelettes
  • two novellas
  • ten novels

Not bad. Not bad at all. :-)

Happy my birthday to all of you, and I hope you have a splendid day!

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

1 September 2014 10:51 - Graveyard Dust, by Barbara Hambly
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
Benjamin January # 3! This one was way less grim than Fever Season. I realize that's easy to say, so I will give it an independent grimness rating.

Grimness of content: Medium. Racism and other isms, slavery, murder; child abuse is discussed but not shown.

Grimness of tone: Low. The subtitle is "a novel of suspense" and that accurately describes the tone. It's a very atmospheric mystery with some excellent action and really great characters. I loved everyone in this book, except for the villains and racists, obviously. Also, it contains a number of fun tropes, including hurt-comfort, creepy pottery, courtroom drama, spirit possession, and dodging alligators in the bayou. Plus Marie Laveau. The plot is very well-constructed and entertaining. And there's some very funny banter, plus a number of dramatic, alarming, and/or hilarious courtroom scenes.

Benjamin January is a devout Catholic and regularly prays for the soul of his sister Olympe, a voodoo practitioner. When Olympe is railroaded into jail for poisoning a man, mostly due to prejudice against voodoo, Ben gets on the case.

I really enjoyed the portrayal of voodoo. Hambly has an afterword discussing her research (she's a historian) and interviews with current practitioners where she gives a sense of how varied the practice and history is-- as is the case in any religion. From Ben's outsider/insider perspective, it's simultaneously alien and disturbing, familiar and enticing. It was a great way to convey how any religion is sustaining and ordinary for its followers, and exotic and weird to outsiders who don't understand it. Marie Laveau is one of my favorite characters in the series, and she naturally has a big part in this.

For the first time, supernatural forces appear as a (possibly) real force. The vivid scenes of spirit possession can be interpreted as simply the power of belief, but they make more sense if the Loa are objectively real. I liked the delicate balance of deniability at play through the whole book.

Since my favorite thing about this series is the characters, I'll do a check-in. Augustus Mayerling, the sword master who was one of my favorites from the first book, re-appears. Poor Hannibal is so sick with consumption that it was a relief to know while reading that he's still alive ten books later-- he spends most of the book either in bed or helping Ben with various tasks while trying not to pass out. (Someone said he's based on George Alec Effinger? Can you enlarge on that?) Rose makes some satisfying appearances, though I wish she was in the story more. Ben's awful mother Livia is still hilariously, deliciously catty. Olympe and her family have nice big roles-- I really like her, her husband, and her son Gabriel. And Ben has a really satisfying character arc.

Graveyard Dust
1 September 2014 08:00 - A Year in Pictures – London Wall
swan_tower: (Default)

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

For my birthday, I give you: one of my two favorite spots in London. (The other is the front steps of St. Paul’s, right by my hostel; I ate many a dinner sitting there and watching the sun set down Ludgate Hill.) The garden you see here belongs to the Salters’ Company, but on the far side there’s a little fragment of park beneath this, one of the largest remaining fragments of the Roman and medieval London Wall. You can see its patchwork nature and the toll taken by the passing centuries, but it’s a nice little relic of the City’s past.

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

1 September 2014 10:26 - Magical Words Guest Post: Despair
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

My final (for now) guest post at Magical Words went up on Friday. This one was about the down times in the writing career.

We don’t talk much about the despair, at least not publicly. I think there’s this belief that authors should project an air of confidence, because if we ever admit our neuroses we’ll drive away all of our fans and readers and then nobody will buy our books, and suddenly we’re back in the Black Cloud of Despair™, and oh God this blog post is going to be the one that destroys my career, isn’t it? Why oh why didn’t I write about rainbow-farting unicorns? Quick – go look at some cats!

But do you want to know a secret? Get a writer somewhere quiet, and most of us will admit to having had some bad times. Pretty much every long-term I’ve talked to has described at least one time they thought their career was over. Even #1 NYT Bestselling Authors get times of feeling like a fraud or a failure…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

1 September 2014 10:07 - welcome to somerville, cats
jinian: (worms' meat)
Yesterday:
17:10 cats land in Boston as air cargo
18:00 cats arrive at home and disperse themselves invisibly into the apartment while i refuel and return the Zipcar
18:30 I return to the apartment and easily find Bat, whose idea of hiding appears to be simply becoming flat while adjacent to an armchair (he later improves on this by wedging himself between the chair and an ottoman); he does not wish to interact
19:00 Squeak begins intermittently living up to her name but cannot be found
19:20 Squeak consents to be discovered and petted, but only in the bathroom; vast puffs of fur emerge from her body
20:30 Squeak happy enough to play with me in the kitchen; Bat still wedged; Diz whereabouts unknown
21:00 Batty amenable to petting, emerges from hole only to be hissed at by Squeak and to emit strategic aromas; litterboxes are used and food is eaten; Diz whereabouts unknown

Today:
00:00 Squeak curled up behind my knees on the couch; Bat eating dry food in my bedroom
??:?? coalescence of Dizzy from the ether to be thoroughly petted; re-evaporation of Dizzy
04:00 Squeak discovers the fine echoing properties of the hallway where my roommates sleep and is forcibly relocated into my room with closed door; as the couch is surprisingly uncomfortable, I accompany her
06:30 after ongoing shenanigans including Bat in and out of the bedroom, I admit that I am awake and get some cereal
7:30 despite grouchy reconfined Squeak, fed Kylee is able to zonk out again
10:00 I awaken with Squeak curled adorably in the small of my back; now that it is daytime and my roommate is awake, she is not whining at all; Bat has burrowed hilariously into the cushions of the armchair; Diz whereabouts unknown
1 September 2014 09:52 - Fantasy Football time
So I was stuck with the seventh pick in the draft (in a ten-team league). So I didn't get any of the top running backs I wanted. So I gambled, and said "fuck it" to getting a running back in the first two rounds. I took Calvin Johnson and Peyton Manning. It's a gamble, but it does give me a top-three player at both QB and WR.

As to the rest of my starting lineup, I snagged Arian Foster as my RB, with Vincent Jackson (the only returning player from last year's team) as my second WR, Jordan Cameron as my TE (Graham was gone before my first pick, and the lack of Gordon should boost Cameron's numbers), Michael Crabtree for my swing WR/RB/TE spot (although I might swap in someone else), Mason Crosby as kicker, and Carolina on defense.

Bench: Tony Romo, Le'Veon Bell, Rashad Jennings, Trent Richardson, Mike Evans, and Dwayne Bowe. Those last two are longshot gambles, but that's fine with the final bench slots.

I've got a good spread on bye weeks, too, so no worries about subs for now (although it's a given that I'll be finding another TE at some point).

Of course, only half my draft last year stuck around, thanks to injuries, free agents, etc. So no telling what'll happen come the regular season. But FWIW, Yahoo's analysis gives me an A+.
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
So I am not at the HFA's all-night Joan Crawford marathon tonight. Instead, [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel and I went to dinner with [livejournal.com profile] saira_ali, M., and Saira's sisters who were visiting from out of town. We went to Journeyman.

Wow.

I had never eaten at Journeyman before. I had the vague belief that I had once eaten at a restaurant with a tasting menu, but mostly because I remembered being served tomato granita as an amuse-bouche. As I wrote to my mother when I got home, to the best of my ability to recall, over the course of four hours we ate:

Pickled sea bass with beet granita and crème fraîche. The sea bass was densely savory, the granita vegetable-sweet, the crème fraîche astringent. It was an astonishing start and everything that followed lived up to its implications.

Clams on yellow watermelon with pickled cucumber and corn, tiny mushrooms, some finely diced stone fruit (best guesses peach or yellow plum), and what looked like sorrel to me. My favorite for the combination and scope of textures and flavors. The clams were sweet clean brine.

Heirloom tomato terrine with jalapeño-and-cucumber sorbet and rabbit rillettes ("gefilte rabbit"). It was extremely beautiful to look at, like millefiori glass or a non-terrifying version of Jell-O salad. I loved the little slice of striped green tomato like a miniature watermelon.

(Probably between two earlier courses, the server brought us bread, which was dark and very delicious, with butter and olive oil. I kept using bits of it to mop up leftover sauces, purées, and reductions.)

Grilled octopus over a kind of mole with thinly sliced radish and a sweet corn reduction (i.e., Things Made from Corn). There were chopped pistachios on the other plates, sprinkled attractively between the three stations of octopus.

Deep-fried egg yolk over a sweet pepper sauce with little croutons and bonito flakes on top. It sort of imploded juicily if you ate it in one bite. No grease.

Tiny buckwheat pancakes topped with rolls of duck breast and a sweet onion purée. My favorite for sheer deliciousness and the fact that, due to Rob needing a replacement without onion, I was lucky enough to eat two. They were garnished with anise flowers.

Locally caught sea bass over French lentils with salmon roe on top and a lemon sauce underneath. I am fairly certain I ate the delicious leftover fish skin off the plate of someone who didn't want it.

Loin of mutton and mutton shoulder over soft-cooked sunflower seeds, pickled corn, and cumin-spiced carrot purée. The loin was a meltingly rare slice, the shoulder a shreddy, savory cube. I left no sunflower seeds and am still surprised.

(This was the last of the savory dishes; there was a break for coffee and tea. There was also a lot of alcohol going on, but I didn't take notes on it. We were allowed to order off the Backbar menu, so my last drink was an avocado mocktail with coconut milk. Would buy from seller again. Frequently.)

A cheese plate with eight kinds of cheese, including two splendid goat's milk cheeses and one sheep's milk which I kind of hoarded, a cheddar so sharp that Rob was the only person who loved it and happily ate it all to himself, and one soft cheese that tasted like socks and everybody left on the plate. We all felt bad about that, but not bad enough to eat it.

A sweet tea gelatin that I could not eat because it was black tea, but admired visually, tannin-amber and dotted with a savory whey reduction.

An assortment of custards, ice creams, and sorbets; mine was plum sorbet with condensed pear and slices of fresh peach. Rob had a buttermilk sorbet and hay custard with crystallized apple. Saira had an extraordinary sour plum ice cream that I mooched.

A plateful of tiny little cookies and pastries, including olive oil macarons and shortbread with ([personal profile] yhlee alert!) cherry blossom jam. We drank Saira's flight of chinato and ran out of room.

Somehow, after that, we walked home.

Rob took pictures. I'll link if he posts them. [edit] Behold! It was an incredible gift of an evening and some of the most beautifully prepared as well as uniquely delicious food I have had in a long time. Company delightful, drinks ridiculous. I walked back into the conversation on the phrase "hug a cactus" and I really feel that was the best possible entry point.

Rabbit, rabbit. Yay.
1 September 2014 03:43 - "A little butterball"
rosefox: A severed head saying "Thanks.. I needed that". (relief)
I just weighed Sam and she's up to 11.2 pounds! Hooray! That's actually slightly more than she weighed at her last annual checkup (10.9 pounds). I'm so relieved that the weight loss was caused by an environmental/social thing that we could correct, and wasn't a sign of a dire health issue. When we feed her high-protein kibble in a place where she doesn't feel she has to compete with the other cats, she happily chows down. It's splendid to see her in such good appetite and back to her normal healthy size.

For weight maintenance, the kibble bag suggests feeding her 1/4 cup twice a day. I might give just a little more than that, since Alex sometimes sneaks in and gets a bit of it, but that should be enough to keep her happy.

Weighing her means weighing myself--she doesn't stay on the scale when I put her there, of course, so I weigh myself alone and then holding her and do the appropriate subtraction--but so far that hasn't bothered me. I just have to be careful to only do it once a month. Otherwise I start thinking about my body shape in numerical terms, which I really don't like doing.

In cat drama news, Alex has taken to chasing Sam out of her litter box when he sees her using it. This is Very Not Okay. He also chases her around at night if they end up in the living room at the same time. If I leave my door open at night he sings the "I killed it! Look, look!" song just outside until I wake up and stagger out to see whether he's killed a bug or a cat toy, and sometimes he skitters in and paws under my closet door at imaginary critters. We took him off the Prozac because he seemed to be doing well and getting along fairly well with the other cats, and I'd rather not put him back on it just because he's a rambunctious young cat full of energy, but Sam is nearly ten years old and was never really interested in playing the way Alex wants to play, and I need to be able to sleep through the night.

I tried keeping her in my room last night, and shutting Alex out. That worked okay, since she has food and water here and would be happy to snuggle me until the end of days, but she woke me after about seven hours to ask to be let out to use the box. Tonight I moved her box into my room (to the spot where she peed when she had the UTI) and hopefully she'll make use of it in a fairly quiet way that doesn't require waking me.

Poor Alex. When he saw me today after being shut out all night, he was SO loving and purring and nuzzling and love-biting. I hate locking him out. :( But he can handle it better than Sam can, by which I mean he doesn't howl at my door when he's separated from me for a few minutes, and I'll make sure to give him lots of love and access to my windowsill during the day.
1 September 2014 00:41 - Apparently I got someone arrested
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
On my way over to catch the bus, noticed a guy sleeping on the edge of the bus lane, next to the wall that defines its edge. Safe where he was but one roll away from being where bus tires pass. Pointed him out to a security guard on the grounds being crushed under a bus is not restful. Found out this evening a very drunk guy was arrested at the terminal about the time I pointed the fellow out, so I guess that is what happened.
31 August 2014 21:52 - And now I know
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Ibid has a meow for "Put me down so I can run over and groom Groucho."
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)



I mostly made this post to address this Daily Dot article that went around earlier this week (How The Growing Generation Gap Is Changing The Face Of Fandom) The basic premise was that NineWorlds = good and inclusive because it’s a young con run by young people! And WorldCon = awful on the diversity front because old white men.

Well. I attended both cons as a young queer Asian woman and I think that’s a pretty unfair assessment of what the cons were actually like.
31 August 2014 15:46 - This pleases me
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
IMG_00000236

It's squirrel footprints preserved in sidewalk concrete.
31 August 2014 14:18 - holy $***
yhlee: Animated icon of sporkiness. (sporks (rilina))
By way of [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll:
iBooks author reacts to not all that negative book review

So the book is apparently about something like noir teddy bear detectives in Venice, and yeah even if the prose isn't all that, I'd read something like that for the amusement value, except the author's lolariously outrageous behavior in comments responding to the review have completely killed any desire I have to give him money. Stephan J Harper is now on my list of authors NEVER to buy anything from. Go check out the first few screens of comments and you'll see what I mean.
31 August 2014 13:50 - music meme
jinian: (gir cupcake)
Can you tell things about me from my next ten random musics? Let's see.

1. Africa - Toto (wow, first one, itunes really wants to embarrass me)
2. Never Let Me Down Again - Depeche Mode (that's better)
3. Thunder Busters - Wax Audio (mashup of Ghostbusters theme with Thunderstruck, obviously)
4. Catapult - R.E.M.
5. The Life of Riley - Lightning Seeds (okay, itunes, you know what you're doing, I concede)
6. Only Lonely Glory - Bump of Chicken
7. Danny Boy/ This Woman's Work (Piano Acoustic) - Charlotte Martin
8. Honey and the Moon - Joseph Arthur
9. The Spine Song - Cake Bake Betty
10. Dance or Die - Janelle Monáe

That... is rather accurate. Analyze away!

Post a similar thing if you want, too. I'd like to see more of these.
sovay: (Rotwang)
My e-mail is down! Last known to have worked a little after six this morning; after that point, nothing. If anything requires my urgent attention, please send it to my other address or contact me by some other means. I'll edit this post when I am in proper communication with the outside world again. That's all today needed.

[edit] E-mail restored! Still flickery. I seem to have a lot of Facebook notifications.

In other laments of technology:

TELEPORTER. TELEPORTER, PLEASE. THERE IS A PETER LORRE RETROSPECTIVE AT THE BFI.

Seriously, they're showing a print of Der Verlorene (1951). Mad Love (1935) and The Face Behind the Mask (1941) is a brilliant double feature. I've barely even heard of F.P.1 anwortet nicht (1932).

TELEPORTER.

In other contexts of time travel:

Century-old restaurant menus from New York City. I am less interested in the comparative pricing than in the items available. I feel like egg with tarragon and ox tongue might have come around to being trendy again.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
THXLWTNGKF1976

When I began rereading this, I had only the vaguest of recollections about it, that it was in some way connected to the author's more famous “Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand” and Dreamsnake, that it was set in the last city on a barren Earth abandoned by the civilized peoples of the Sphere and that was about all. I therefore had a certain level of trepidation because while I had fond memories of having had fond memories of this, the lack of specifics meant there was no assurance the suck fairy would not have visited it. I am happy to say that I can see why I liked this so much almost forty years ago.

Mischa lives near Center, last bastion of civilization, such as it is, on an Earth that populated the stars before incinerating itself in the Last War. The vast warrens around Center, created during the preparations for the final war, are one legacy of the great conflagration, as are the mutations seen in so many of the people of Earth. Mischa, eking out a life near the bottom of the social pyramid, is lucky in that her mutation is invisible, a degree of telepathic ability, but unlucky because it ties her to her idiot sister Gemmi, and through her to her exploitative uncle by chains she has no idea how to break.

Her only hope for her and her drug-addicted, despairing brother Chris is that she can somehow talk one of the starfarers who visit Center to take Mischa and Chris away from Earth to one of the civilized worlds of the Sphere; distance may do for them what will cannot. Unfortunately, not only are the people who choose to visit Earth the dregs of civilization but when the book opens, storm season, when no sane person lands a starship at Center, has begun. Even if it wasn't storm season, thus far Mischa's efforts have yielded only savage beatings.
Read more... )
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Michigan author Anne HarrisAnne Harris, aka Jessica Freely, has spent more than fifteen years searching for a home for her latest novel, All the Colors of Love [Amazon | B&N]. But before we get into that, let’s hear about that frisky-looking devil tattoo…

My tattoo is a doodle of a little dancing devil I’ve been scribbling since I was in fifth grade. I got it when a good friend learned to tattoo and she desperately wanted to get ink in me. I’d never planned on having a tattoo, and was a bit skeptical, so I made sure to get something that was uniquely mine, and to get it on a part of my body I wouldn’t see all the time. As it turned out, however, I love it. Sometimes I do forget it’s there and it’s always a nice surprise when I glimpse it again. I’ve thought about getting more tattoos but I’ve never followed through on it. I may wind up being one of those rare folks with just one.

Anne/Jessica asked if she could talk a little about All the Colors of Love, which is a YA gay science fiction romance about Harry, the son of a supervillain. Harry veers between suicide attempts and futile plans to kill his abusive father.

Colors is a sequel to her first novel, The Nature of Smoke. It’s also the first gay romance she ever wrote, and changed the course of her career.

In her words:

I wrote the first draft around 2000 or so, when I was still firmly ensconced in traditional NY publishing. My mother had just passed and my dad was dying and I needed something to lift me up, so I gave myself permission to write anything I wanted. That turned out to be Colors and writing it was more fun and freeing than anything I’d ever done before. I was as surprised as anyone else, especially since working with these characters felt like invisible shackles had been taken off my wrists and for the first time I could just write.

I knew I had to pursue it.

Unfortunately, at that time there was no commercial market for gay romance, let alone a gay YA science fiction book written by a woman. My sf editor wanted me to make the characters straight and my agent convinced me to write Libyrinth instead, which I did, but I wrote Colors too, and I started the long search for a market. When one finally did develop, it was for gay erotic romance, not YA. I set Colors aside again and went on to published over 15 short stories, novels, and novellas (many of them sf/f) in that genre. Fortunately, markets change and now some publishers are taking non-erotic gay romance and several have started YA imprints. Finally, fifteen years after I first started this journey, Colors is out in the world. To say I’m pleased to share it with readers is a vast understatement.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

31 August 2014 09:33 - New racing stripes courtesy of Fig
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Because he decided it was time for him to hop down from his fortress of solitude up on top of the bedroom bookcase, landing directly behind Nameless as she was cautiously assessing whether she could scoot by me to the bedroom window. We'll never know but sprinting claws out in terror across my arm definitely worked.
We started catching up on Musketeers shortly before this, so seeing Capaldi twice in one day in different roles was fun.

Anyway, here was what I tweeted before the episode based on the trailer/description:




Quick thoughts on "Into the Dalek" follow the actual spoiler tag. But for those wondering, no, it wasn't better than TTG. It was, however, better than last week's Who.



The good:

Clara. Actually, less Clara than her new potential paramour. Well, that's not fair. I find her a little manic pixie dream girlish* in her relation to Mr. Pink (who really should be played by Steve Buscemi), but Pink himself is wonderful. In fact, as a soldier who clearly hasn't recovered from war, he's basically the Ninth Doctor. Obviously, there's a long game plot being played at the school, but I find it at least starting to make Clara more interesting.
Actually, while Schoolteacher Clara might be all MPDG, Companion Clara is pretty awesome this week, doing what a companion's supposed to do** and reminding the Doctor of emotions like compassion that he so often forgets about. This feels like the Clara we saw last season (especially at the beginning).

And Journey's pretty awesome (as is Gretchen for her sixty seconds of actually doing anything).

Oh, while shrinking down is a dumb plot gimmick (see below) the Doctor's comments about lasagna were fucking hysterical. As was pretty much everything Capaldi did. As with Matt Smith, when the actor is better than the material, you do occasionally get some wonderful moments whether the writer has earned it or not. His handling of Ross (plot holes aside -- see below) was pragmatic and still kind of horrifying. Likewise, the fact that the Doctor's hatred of the Daleks was enough to focus Rusty's hatred on its own race was a nice touch, and helps keep this Doctor in a solidly dark place (once again delivering on the unfulfilled promise of the War Doctor).

Until proven otherwise, Michelle Gomez and her "Heaven" will intrigue me. Elayna noted that the colors are reminiscent of "Silence in the Library," and that's certainly one legit take on an afterlife (although without luring the Doctor into that VR world, I'm not sure what good it would do). And the Doctor's saving of Journey makes a nice parallel to Missy's saving of Gretchen.

Oh, and I may have missed it last week, but the Doctor's ship redesign includes stocked bookshelves in the main room!

The bad:

So the thing about that Tweet, aside from the fact that TTG did do the same plotline less than two weeks ago, is that the "shrink down to go inside someone's body" plotline is stupid. It's always been stupid. It was stupid in Fantastic Voyage. It was stupid in Innerspace. It was stupid the last time Who did it. It's no less stupid if you call it a "fantastic" idea (yes, we get it). It works best on something like The Tick or TTG because those shows are about stupid ideas (deliberately, as opposed to anything Moffat might do).

And it got dumber as we went inside the Dalek to realize that no one on Who has thought about what the inside of a Dalek should be like. Or worse, they thought that '60s Star Trek was a good reference point. A Dalek is made of Jeffries Tubes? Really? And has anyone involved with the show ever even opened up a computer? Small electronics aren't just tiny versions of big electronics. Really.

And having to fight off "antibodies" just ensured that this would be exactly the same story we get in every other "shrink and go into the body" story. And why would the antibodies -- which presumably don't have security cameras -- go specifically after Ross instead of everyone in the group at first? Also, if the Dalek sees someone putting a tiny grappling hook into its metal as something an antibody should fight, wouldn't it also react to the hundreds of pounds of pressure as people clomp through its "hallways?"

Also, last week the Doctor was all, "my face, my face, what's up with my face?" Now, he's just content with it. It's almost like the writers forgot about last week or something. Granted, one of the writers is the guy behind "Waters of Mars" (the worst, by far, of the Tennant specials). But the other one was Moffat, who should have a clue about last week's show.

I'm not sure how I feel about the notion that Dalek's are basically "born bad." Morality seems inherently linked to intelligence and agency, and I'm just not a fan of the notion that any "unbroken" Dalek has to be evil. That said, the notion of Daleks as evil is something Moffat's basically inherited, so I'm a little more forgiving on this front, but it might not have been the best thing to shine a light on without really examining the implications.

The Speculation:

I already noted Elayna's comments about Missy above. She also noted that this is now the second week in a row that we've seen one student (the one snarkily saying "she wishes" about the school secretary); as a rule, I tend to assume recurring characters will have impact, but I'm not sure what hers is yet.

I'm not sure if Pink will end up doing the boyfriend-as-companion thing like Rory/Mickey, or if he'll more be the lifeline/plothook for Clara to leave her adventuring behind. Or some third option mixing the two (his backstory leading to an adventure that causes her to quit; he could have fought with UNIT or some other group).

Really, beyond "hey, he's morally ambiguous," there just wasn't any development of The Doctor, so no real speculation's possible on that front.

*Yes, I know that Nathan Rabin has expressed dismay at the term he created. It's overused, but pretty damned valid here.

**As opposed to being a strawman for a particular subset of fans, almost none of whom I've ever actually met.
31 August 2014 00:20 - But I can't be Sherlock Holmes
sovay: (Sydney Carton)
Aside from the fact that it would eat my life, I think the problem with me getting a Tumblr is that I would completely overthink it. I mean, the world is full of beautiful time sinks. I'd have to go through a lot of them if I were going to represent accurately the spectrum of things I find attractive to look at or interesting to think about. I don't have the time for that. I'm engaged in a job search. My free time, what there is of it, will drop spectacularly if I'm successful. The last thing I need is to get stuck into a new social media platform that requires me to spend even more hours looking at things on the internet. I keep away from Twitter for similar reasons: I am an obsessive person and I already stay awake until four in the morning writing about things. Also I do not think I naturally generate witty tags. This train of thought brought to you by the couple of people recently who've asked if I'm on Tumblr and this photobombing blowfish.
30 August 2014 21:40 - I have
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
A frightening number of John Boyd novels.
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
Me: "Jooooooe, I have a setting but no characters!"
Lizard, looking up from where she has been working on her D&D 5E character: "And we have characters but no setting!"

BTW I AM NOT PUTTING A RAISED BY WOLVES BLUE DRAGONBORN WARLOCK INTO MY SPACE OPERA SO GET THAT IDEA OUT OF YOUR HEAD STAT
30 August 2014 15:57 - [cartoons]
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
Surely every author's characters have conversations like this from time to time, or am I projecting?



Inked with Sailor Kiwa-guro Nano Black in a Waterman 52V (wet noodle) and Sakura Pigma marker, with a side of clearly inadequate Deleter white for corrections.

ETA: I APOLOGIZE FOR DOING LETTERING BY HAND I WILL LEARN BETTER IN THE FUTURE. (Although it's nice to see my cursive hasn't degenerated completely.)

And a one-panel one I did for my sister: Read more... )

In other news, my daughter wants to play a blue dragonborn fighter/warlock outlander who was literally raised by wolves, SEND HELP.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Digital Divide

Embarrassing confession time: from time to time people have sent me books to read in my spare time and I accept them, despite knowing I never get around to reading books in my spare time because I try hard never to have spare time. NEVER. I have had a e-copy of A Digital Divide long enough to misplace it (I bought a new copy, along with a couple of other Spangler books) and I never got around to reading it because I am a terrible person.

Spangler is probably best known for A Girl and Her Fed, which shares a universe with this novel. As it happens, I've never read A Girl and her Fed so any elements that would leap out at a fan of that strip were missed by me.

My impression is the author was concerned the memespace for her book would be filled by the doomed Fox show Almost Human, which to be honest I thought was going to be the inferior Yank rip-off of Äkta människor but which seems to have been closer to the inferior rip-off of Holmes & Yoyo played straight. In any case, the doomed Fox show Almost Human is both dead in the water and also not much like Digital Divide at all. For one thing, I'd actually recommend Digital Divide.

Rachel Peng is an Office of Adaptive and Complementary Enhancement Technologies Agent, one of the lucky few who gained abilities beyond those of mundane humans thanks to a very high tech implant and the only cost was half a decade of having her mind and identity ripped apart thanks to some misleadingly documented features of the implant.
Read more... )
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Within a few decades, solar technology will evolve to the point where power is endless . . . unless someone wants to stop the flow—which someone does.

And the only men who can stop these high-tech terrorists are on horseback.

In the near future, the New Las Vegas Sunfield will be one of many enormous solar farms to supply energy to the United States. At more than fifty miles long and two miles wide, the Sunfield generates an electromagnetic field so volatile that ordinary machinery and even the simplest electronic devices must be kept miles away from it. Thus, the only men who can guard the most technologically advanced power station on earth do so on horseback.

They are the Outriders.

Though the power supplied by the Sunfield is widespread, access to that power comes with total deference to the iron-fisted will of New Las Vegas’s ruthless mayor, Franklin Dreg. Crisis erupts when Dreg’s quietly competent secretary, Timothy Hale, discovers someone has been stealing energy—siphoning it out of the New Las Vegas grid under cover of darkness.

As the Outriders investigate, the scale of the thievery becomes clear: these aren’t the ordinary energy leeches, people who steal a few watts here or there. These are high-tech terrorists (or revolutionaries) engaged in a mysterious and dangerous enterprise and poised to bring down the entire energy grid, along with the millions of people it supports.

The pressure mounts and fractures appear within both the political leadership of New Las Vegas and in the tight-knit community of Outriders. With a potential crisis looming, the mysterious goal of the “Drainers” finally comes into focus. Only then do the Outriders realize how dangerous the situation really is.


Stealing solar power at night? That's a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel!

Oddly, this is the second SF novel I have run into that features a highly centralized solar power scheme (the other one also included 40,000 km long extension cord).
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