staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
([personal profile] staranise Oct. 1st, 2014 12:24 am)
If anyone was wondering if this year would stop churning out major emotional upsets like Bert dying and Dad going in hospital--NOPE. IT DID NOT. I lack the words right now to actually explain what's going on in my personal life, but I am metaphorically out at sea, clinging to a spar, surrounded by the flaming wreckage of the ship I was on. The cannonballs hit someone else directly, but I'm in the fallout.

I've spent a fair bit of time lately wondering: is life ever going to settle down so I can just do a job I don't hate, and pet my cat, and see my friends, and write? Or should I just accept that it is always going to be a roller coaster, and try to do everything I can right now?

(Of course my approach now is a combination of "both" and "give up and lie on the floor")

I HAVE been a little more proactive about answering emails, though.

Um, what else is my life right now...

Emily has learned to snuggle? It's part of a deliberate behavioural program to make her a happier cat. In the two months I've had her I've worked in a lot of ways to achieve this (furniture, playtime, how I pet her, when I feed her...) and she is different. She greets guests in the middle of the floor instead of hiding under furniture; she doesn't dart out and attack feet anymore; she bites to communicate displeasure a lot less, and uses movement and expression instead; her play aggression is a lot less aggro; and now, she snuggles.

There's still a long way to go--to get her to play independently more, to feel secure enough to stay where she is instead of following her chosen human everywhere, to not need to hypervigiliantly monitor territory--but we get to there by going through here.
- recent reading
[personal profile] yeloson's Extended Character Concept Generator--intended for RPGs, but possibly of use to writers. This specific method doesn't work for my brain (ironically, I think it's too logical and my brain wants characters to step out of weird netherspaces) but I think it's a very nifty tool. Anyway, a teaser:
You could either fill out the whole thing, or, just do the first sentence and fill out one or two of the other sentences- filling in more as play develops.

Extended Character Concept Generator

A (personality trait) (profession/role) trying to (goal) despite her (flaw).

She wants to become (profession/positive trait), achieve (social status), overcome/move beyond (past trouble, mistake, tragedy). She believes in (ideal or personal credo) and can’t stand people who (believe other credo/behave in a certain way). People know her as (reputation) and expect that she will (achieve/fail/become something).

I could fill something like this out for a character once they're clear in my head; I just can't do this when I'm trying to come up with a new character, if you see the difference. But maybe it will work for some of you!

- recent viewing
The Great Queen Seondeok through ep. 51. Read more... )

The Good Wife 6.1-6.2. Read more... )
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
([personal profile] owlectomy Sep. 30th, 2014 08:47 pm)
I am writing the Current WIP longhand.

There are a few advantages to this (now that I have a good fountain pen, and won't give myself tendinitis like I did in Japan -- hooray for ergonomics!)

-I can treat every word as something provisional, something I'm going to have to toss away anyway, if only to retype it.

-I get to give myself little milestones along the way, of filling up a notebook, of running out of ink in my pen and changing the ink.

-I don't have to get quite so hung up over numbers and word count -- 'About two pages, almost every day' is comfortingly vague. (I'm not sure it's going to be good for my own sense of pacing -- hopefully I won't find out that it's way under or over the page count I was looking for, once I type it up!)

There is one big disadvantage.

I had forgotten, for a time, about the notebooks that I lost in transit when I moved back from Japan. But longhand makes it very hard to follow the principle of 'if you don't have three copies, you don't have any.' There's fire and floods and my own scatter-brained-ness to contend with.

I wonder how much trouble it would be to scan in every page and email it to myself. I wonder if the copies would be clear enough to retype from. I wonder if I'm worrying too much about this.
bookchan: endless sky (Default)
([personal profile] bookchan Sep. 30th, 2014 08:21 pm)
Well I survived the family reunion this past weekend. Came down with an annoying cold though from it. They rented two houses right off the beach in Oregon and it was neat to see the differences between the two coasts. Oregon definitely had more waves, but Florida was much warmer. I do love the mountains and it was neat seeing the sun setting over the ocean instead of rising.

I also remembered why I don't do big groups of people like that. I arrived friday completely exhausted, which did make getting to sleep earlier easier, but by Sunday night I was just as exhausted this time though from just dealing with the number of people around and trying to be personable. For some reason it didn't feel like I could just leave for a walk or a drive, yet I could have. We did go as a group for a walk to see the tide pools.

It was good seeing everyone though and all the babies are getting so big!
oursin: C19th engraving of a hedgehog's skeleton (skeletal hedgehog)
([personal profile] oursin Sep. 30th, 2014 10:14 pm)

[H]e claimed he sent the messages to exercise his right to freedom of speech and to “satirise” the issue of online trolling.
Labour MP says Peter Nunn, who was jailed for 18 weeks for threatening her on social media, led her to install panic button

And he's claiming that it was what, some kind of performance art?

Or classic case of 'That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means'?

oursin: Painting of Clio Muse of History by Artemisia Gentileschi (Clio)
([personal profile] oursin Sep. 30th, 2014 07:59 pm)

Well, actually, after I had already sent the email to the media researcher saying 'not a historian of early modern medicine', and not saying, 'so not about the What did they really die of thing', the thought occurred to me -

- that with a very minimal amount of mugging up, me and the Famous Shirt could probably go on telly and sound pretty authoritative in a brief soundbite.

(Telly researchers, by the way, never seem to google anything, otherwise they might have twigged that the C16th is not my patch, and deaths of people around the monarchy, not that either. But even though I try to eschew watching history programmes, even in the ones I've been in I have been moved to ask the heavens, 'Y O Y did they ask X to say anything on this subject?' Sometimes they are even visibly struggling. So perhaps as long as they can describe a person as 'historian' it doesn't really matter what they are a historian of.)

Also, I think that 'different theories of what the actual cause of death was' does not amount to 'controversy', rather that simply that there could be several possible explanations. When a woman dies some days after giving birth following an arduous labour, I don't think we need to start invoking sinister conspiracy. Maybe there's a desire to know The Real Facts but even if we had the contemporary case records, whether these would decode to anything that we could define in modern medical terminology, Clio alone knows.

sholio: Autumn leaf frosted at edges (Autumn-frosted leaf)
([personal profile] sholio Sep. 30th, 2014 11:00 am)
I am hoooooome -- for a week; got in late last night, and then I woke up this morning and THIS was happening.



It couldn't have held off one more day 'til I could finish getting the garden tucked in? That's wonderful, Alaska. Thanks so much.

(But it is nice to be tucked inside with a cup of tea, a warm cat and an emotionally needy dog while it snows outside.)
spoilers )

Keizoku 2: SPEC (jdrama (renzoku), 2010: 1-10 of 10 eps.): indirect rec from several of you on account of Tōma Saya, Toda Erika's character, who is simultaneously wackily ill-mannered and a savvy, keenly intelligent investigator employed by a neglected police unit. Previously I wasn't impressed by her acting, but she does manage to have a slightly different odd expression each time the camera cuts to her for a reaction shot . . . and I like the backstory of her, uh, manpain. The basic story is that this unit of three---Tōma, awkwardly serious Sebumi Takeru, and a boss uneasily enamored of a woman nearly young enough to be his granddaughter---is assigned cases that the regular police force don't want. These indefinitely pending cases end up requiring detection and involving ESP abilities in some way; the potential grimness of some is forestalled by slapstick, though the humor often plays into how the cases are raveled, too. The premise of this show and its predecessor appears to have spun off a handful of films, in which I'm not interested, though the show has entertained me well.

I am probably missing a few macrons, btw. For "Tōma" it's obvious because people keep drawing it out.

The discussions I've seen say that the plot goes wholly off the rails. I disagree respectfully. Reading Miyabe's Crossfire and R.P.G. has contextualized SPEC somewhat, though the show isn't obviously derivative. That is, given that x was set, there had to be y, and it's always necessary when having y to set w and z as well as a, b, and c.... I didn't predict all of Bloody Monday's reveals, but here I could see the capstones early. To that extent the narrative is backed by logic.

Are certain jdramas one long callback after another? Tōma is a stronger faster better version of Toda's hacker character in BOSS; a fortuneteller is played by the father in Bloody Monday, the lecherous unit head here is Minister of Justice there, and a mother here and police officer there share an actress, too; a youngish but highly ranked administrator presages a similarly obtuse-seeming, plastic-faced character in Tenchū. Perhaps I have invented patterns where none exist, this time.

Incidentally, my mother ended up passing my query about 真逆 to a Chinese-speaking friend. I'm told that 真 and 逆 aren't used together in Korean or putonghua, only in Japanese.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
([personal profile] owlectomy Sep. 30th, 2014 10:51 am)
I am on vacation!

Scene : my therapist's waiting room.
Stranger on phone: Hi, I was wondering if you had this book? Oh, you're not open yet? When do you open?

Me : Hi, I'm a librarian? Can I check the library catalog for you?

Stranger :YES THANK YOU.

Hopefully that's all the librarianship I'll do for the next 12 days? Though I might try to show my mom how to download audio books.
littlerhymes: (marlowe)
([personal profile] littlerhymes Sep. 30th, 2014 11:39 pm)
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie
Akhenaten - Dorothy Porter
The Harp in the South - Ruth Park
Frog Music - Emma Donoghue
Her Private Passion - Rebecca Tregaron, Honey Dover, Victoria Janssen, Isla Sinclair, Mona Midnight
Nor Iron Bars A Cage - Kaje Harper
This Book is Haunted - David McRobbie
The Penitent Damned - Django Wexler
A Medieval Romance - Mark Twain

i read things )
boosette: (Default)
([personal profile] boosette Sep. 30th, 2014 07:15 am)
I was going to yulenom the Legend of Sinbad (Dreamworks) but didn't because I am a dope.

So far only one of my nominations (Old Kingdom - Sabriel, Touchstone, Ellimere I, Terciel) has been accepted, with the others in limbo awaiting attention. This year's goal: get a draft out before December, spend the rest of the time writing Galaxy Rangers treats for the five people in the fandom, some of whom might also be participating. Other noms include The Matrix (Movies) (Hilariously no one nominated Neo - I nommed Trinity, Morpheous, Switch and Apoc; I'm going to rewatch this weekend I think.)

(I need to find two other fandoms I want just as much as GR & Old Kingdom.)

Hands up who's participating/excited/really glad it's fall? Also useful to me: Two 4-hour plane rides and a computer that currently has better than adequate battery life, although I may see if I can snag an external batt before I fly home.

Everyone doing NaNoWriMo: Fully 1/3 - that's 10 days - of November is comprised of weekend! (I have carefully made sure that I am spending 0 weekends with my family; flying in on Monday and out on Friday, the week of Thanksgiving.)

There is a universe in my head that conceptually is all [personal profile] staranise, from this post, the ember of which I am trying to keep aglow until November happens. Big plans, big plans.

Work is hectic as ever but it is nice to have stuff to do.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
([personal profile] owlectomy Sep. 30th, 2014 08:10 am)
Re: my suspicions that I'm on the wrong size bike: just measured myself and the calculator says I should probably be on a 58 cm. My bike is a 54 cm. That's less than 2" of difference so I don't even know if it's a big deal? And measuring myself at home with a tape measure is not super accurate?

But, yeah, might make a difference to get myself on a bike that fits better.
cofax7: Lantern Waste in the snow (Narnia - Lantern)
([personal profile] cofax7 Sep. 29th, 2014 09:52 pm)
Hey, folks!

So the Narnia Fic Exchange 2014 just opened, and you all should check it out. There are over two dozen stories posted, including stories about the Pevensies, and Polly and Digory, and Eustace, and Bacchus. There are AUs, and there's some porn, and some awesome world-building, and even a few crossovers.

Go read!n

(There are also two stories by me, at least one of which is really obviously by me. But I won't say which.)
thistleingrey: (Default)
([personal profile] thistleingrey Sep. 29th, 2014 07:11 pm)
If you screen this ballet video and then, by request, this "Snowman" version, Teng's "Level Up" makes nearly perfect thematic completion, with the knock knock knock of your own heart as signal.

(And then, you know, that's enough videos for today and tomorrow and possibly the next day. Please stop asking.)

To my surprise, a child who understands soberly that Elsa and Anna's parents die during "Snowman" and aren't coming back, and who can contemplate the capabilities of a ballet duo with a total of three arms and three legs between them, cannot listen to "Defying Gravity" for thirty seconds. Too worrying---they sound too angry. I'm okay with that.
Maleficent, film, 2014, dir. Robert Stromberg
In a word, magnificent. A pointed retelling—limited perhaps for being a Disney retelling, but full of story and brimming with intent, which gives it purpose even when events are predictable. The casting is phenomenal, Jolie especially; the CGI has weak moments but Maleficent's wings are superbly rendered and easily the most important effect. There's something of Robin McKinley in the tone: a surprisingly domestic drama, a story about women, character-motivated, whimsical, heartfelt. Maleficent lacks for some subtlety and has its flaws, but honestly I don't care; this has already become one of my Important Films, which I'll rewatch a hundred times and never take for granted.

Black Swan, film, 2010, dir. Darren Aronofsky
A difficult film to watch, fraught with gendered issues both intentional and accidental, heavy-handed but ultimately effective. The horror is likewise, but I make a biased audience: the film hits on some of my personal phobias. Aesthetically superb, artistic body horror and a brilliant soundtrack verging on the indulgent, which helps to balance how frequently joyless the film is to watch. I'm ambivalent about Black Swan—it's certainly an experience but it's a flawed one; Portman does much to salvage the film, but I wonder what it might have been with women writers/directors.

Thale, film, 2012, dir. Aleksander L. Nordaas
Underwhelming: too small and too simple, tells rather than shows, with a saccharine ending. There's something beneath that which has potential: the conflict between the magic of the thale and her gritty surroundings works, although the gendered issues (a women at the center of male attention/power/violence/caretaking) leaves something to be desired. Give this a miss, there's just not much here.

How to Train Your Dragon 2, film, 2014, dir. Dean DeBlois
Not flawless, but surprisingly close. Both the antagonist and scale overreach the film's needs, leaning away from the personal and into the predictable. But the core cast shines and the film doesn't succumb to sequelitis: it retains what made the first film successful, the humor and dragons in particular, without feeling like a pale imitation. A solid 4 of 5 and simply lovely to watch.

Epic, film, 2013, dir. Chris Wedge
Forgettable, but fine. I enjoyed the casting and some of the effects—the dark fairies's magic, in particular—are nicely realized, but the plot is utterly predictable and the humor is hit and miss. Tolerable, watchable, but little more than that and not recommended.

A Werewolf Boy/Wolf Boy, film, 2012, dir. Jo Sung-hee
Long, slow-paced, overacted and emotionally transparent, creating an absorbing hyper-reality which is lovely and surprisingly effective. The film is almost painfully adorable, more sweet than bitter for all its heart wrenching. I grew fond of this despite its rather obvious flaws—and it helps than in content I'd compare it to Kimi wa Pet; the pet/owner relationship serving as a tool to allow two people to bond is a pretty specific but utterly enjoyable trope.

Session 9, film, 2001, dir. Brad Anderson
A slow, sometimes laborious build-up with an exposition-heavy, redundant, twist-heavy denouement; an uneven effort on the whole, and it falls flat. The setting and initial pacing have promise, however problematic the asylum angle may be, and David Caruso is always lovely to listen to. But skip this one; it lacks both tension and punch.
Yoon is bored
Sorry, I'm taking today off after working through the weekend. Someone throw a meme at me, or writing process questions, or marry/shag/throw-off-a-cliff, or cute animal pictures? Otherwise I will be curled up on the couch reading Ender's Game.

- recent ridiculous
By way of a friend, videos of kittens enacting Assassin's Creed. Bwah. This one's for you, [personal profile] telophase!

- recent reading

K.M. Weiland. Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success. This is a middling novel-outlining how-to book. I bought it using leftover Amazon gift card points over the weekend because I needed popcorn reading. I have finally wound around to the point where how-to books on writing are amusing again. I'm very good at saying "F*** you" whenever I see something I violently disagree with or find stupidheaded. (What are they going to do? Give me an F for not following instructions?)

The short version, for those who want to skip the notes below, is that this is solidly mediocre. I wouldn't spend money on it (well, I did, but you know what I mean) but if you have it in the library, it has a lot of useful basics.

Weiland thankfully avoids the most stupidheaded thing I usually see in these books, which is the THOU SHALT. Instead, she says at the beginning that while this is a book of tips and methods, you should experiment and use what works for you.

Weiland's prose is honestly rather bland. It's useful to see her examples of outlining techniques that she used for her own novels, or brainstorming outtakes, etc., but based on this hell no would I ever buy one of her actual novels. (I mean, I could be wrong, maybe her novels are better than they sound, but I have tons of actually-interesting-sounding nonfiction to read, so why chance it?)

There's nothing earthshattering here, but there's a variety of reasonably solid tips and methods, including a few that I hadn't seen before. I'm sure most of you who care about these things are already familiar with the Enneagram, Patricia C. Wrede's Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions [SFWA], character questionnaires, notecards, and the basic beats of story structure.

One feature I did enjoy was that the book includes a number of interviews with authors who use outlining, so that you can see that even here there is some variation of approach. ([personal profile] daedala, one of the interviews was with Larry Brooks, haha.) Also, Weiland takes her examples from a variety of genres (sf/f, mystery, historical, etc.), which I appreciated.

I'm unlikely to switch my basic method for working up a chapter outline for a novel at this point, but some of the other stuff was entertaining. Really, I picked this up to have something fast and amusing to read while I was stuck at Joe's office waiting for him to be done with some work he was doing Saturday. We should hit up the library sometime so I can get amsuing writing how-to books out for free from there.

While I'm at it, why do I seem cursed to pick out how-to-write books that always have stupid, bland, boring made-up examples of plot/idea/theme things (as opposed to examinations of existing stories/movies/etc.)? I mean, the Brian Kitely writing exercise book was psychotic (in a terrifying yet highly entertaining way, I'm pretty sure one exercise was to excise one letter of the alphabet and write a story without said letter, I refuse to do the Oulipo thing so HELL NO) but at least it wasn't boring. I mean, here's one bit from the book on "Structuring Your Story":
- Create an inciting event that forever changes the MC's [MC = main character] status quo. Rock the character's world in a way he didn't see coming. Perhaps his family is murdered. Perhaps he is caught cheating on an important test. Or perhaps he unexpectedly time travels twenty years into the future.


- Let the MC reach his goals....Perhaps he finds peace in the aftermath of his family's deaths. Perhaps, now having repented of cheating, he studies for the test, retakes it, and gets that A hhe needs. Perhaps he comes to grips with his new time-traveling power and uses it to improve his ability to live in the present.

One of the reasons I hate typical character questionnaires is that they're almost always full of junk that doesn't even apply to the setting/culture I'm writing about. Astrological signs, I'm looking at you.
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
([personal profile] oursin Sep. 29th, 2014 08:14 pm)

I note that people are joining up, or begging for invites to, the new social network Ello, which is being marketed as the alternative to FaceBook after FB suddenly decided to crack down over the Real Name issue (sigh). (At the moment it looks pretty much like crickets and tumbleweeds over there, it's all stark mimimalism and white space, but what do I know. It is after all still in beta and invite-only.)

There has already been a certain amount of critique:
Goodbye, Ello: Privacy, Safety, and Why Ello Makes Me More Vulnerable to My Abusers and Harassers
No, I am not interested in joining your proprietary social network
The social networks we already have are not giving us what we want. We’re turning to the new thing because it’s new, not because it’s good

Do I want/need yet another social space online? I feel that I'm already pretty much maxxed out on places I hang out and chat with friends, ascertain what's new on the Rialto, etc.

My main space is DW - increasingly more of a salon than an agora, now that the latter function seems to be much more happening on FB and Twitter - and LJ since I still have legacy people there who haven't made the jump and aren't likely to.

FB is a mishmash of DW/LJ people (some no longer active in those places), academic/professional connections, family, etc etc; ditto, pretty much, Twitter (not so much family, for some reason). G+ doesn't seem to be particularly happening - I am still getting circled by total strangers, I skorn this practice utterly.

More niche sites where I have a presence are and GoodReads.

I did have a Diaspora login but haven't visited it for a very long time and have forgotten my details.

I haven't updated my professional blog for months.

Do I really want another place, however cool and happening? Not really. If there does come about a mass exodus there of people I'm connected to I can rethink then.

thistleingrey: (Default)
([personal profile] thistleingrey Sep. 29th, 2014 12:16 pm)
Unexpected ones:

* Reason distinguished unprompted the other day (while skyping with nana) amongst hair color: hers is yellow-brown, darkforge's black-brown, mine red-brown. All true. Whence this manner of distinction?

* If you carry Digital Critical Editions (a print book) to await a flu shot, the volunteer nurse may ask whether you’re in engineering (I went with "literature and computing"), then talk about how her iPhone tries to make patterns of words to suggest. Not bad, if a bit random, and better than the usual "What's that?"


rachelmanija: (Default)

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