Books Read
Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria (2013) - I was talking to [personal profile] jhameia about this book, and about how the writing reminded me a lot of The Secret Service, and she said, "It's so sad." Which it is. And it's also, to my mind, much less about reading than other people had led me to believe. It's about travel, and being a traveler in a strange land, and yes about the power of books but also about how books aren't everything and about how they can and can't save you. It's melancholy and gorgeously written and wonderful, you should read it.

Yangsze Choo, The Ghost Bride (2013) - I enjoyed this book about a young woman who receives an offer to marry a dead man in turn of the C20th Malaya, although I am sympathetic to those reviews who complained that Choo's prose is somewhat more telling than showing at times, and the conceit that the narrator's father educated her sometimes stretches a bit thin in the face of facts about Malaya that she supplies the reader. But the narrator and her personality, and the vivid country of the dead to which she journeys, are more than enough to carry the story through. I am ambivalent about the ultimate denouement, but only because I saw someone else on DW compare the choice the protagonist faces to Aeryn's at the end of The Blue Sword. All that having been said, I really liked the book and very much will read Choo's future books.

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (2013) - Being spoiled for the essential conceit of this book did not make it any less awesome in the reading; at times while I was on the train reading it I had to laugh out loud. I've never read any of Fowler's work before, but this was awesome, and well deserving of all success. The narrator and her perspective are a treasure.

Kate Elliott, Spirit Gate (2007) - I started reading this, the first in the Crossroads trilogy, because one of Elliott's forthcoming 2015 books is set in the same world many decades later. I did not regret it. There are GIANT JUSTICE EAGLES and also, with two notable exceptions, all of the men are at best incompetent and all the women are badass in different ways. The setting is also entirely Asian-inspired, and the entire cast POC. I'm already 1/4 of the way into the next book.

Zen Cho, Spirits Abroad (2014) - This book was published in Malaysia, and I arranged with the author to purchase a paper copy for Loncon. I read it on the plane to Turkey and loved every second of it; I've previously read and quite enjoyed Cho's romance novella, but her short stories are also a true delight, particularly "Prudence and the Dragon" and "The Four Generations of Chang E" and…all of them, really. Many of Cho's characters speak Manglish, and having attended a few of the author's events at Worldcon, it was interesting to note bits of her personal experience reconfigured and reused throughout her work. I very much hope that her novel is picked up and published soon! 

Currently Reading
Kate Elliott, Shadow Gate (2008) - Second in the Crossroads trilogy. Has more of [spoilers] but also more of a character who I honestly wished had been killed at the end of the last book. I think I get the point of his plotline, but he's still damn annoying.

The rakugo manga - still

Book-shaped space for acquisitions
Various, Kaleidoscope (2014) - I downloaded my ecopy of this anthology, which I supported in Kickstarter, and can't wait to read it.
Hagio Moto & Komatsu Sakyo, Away vol. 1 (2014) - new manga by Hagio Moto from a Komatsu Sakyo story!!!!!

Reading next
I acquired an excellent badge ribbon emblazoned with the phrase "All power corrupts, but we need electricity" at Worldcon, which makes me want to read the book it's from, namely Diana Wynne Jones' Archer's Goon. Also probably Michelle Sagara, since I'm behind on the Cast books. Also Kameron Hurley because she won Hugos. Also Seanan McGuire because I am WAY behind on her books. Also…you get the picture.
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([personal profile] forestofglory Aug. 21st, 2014 11:59 am)
I'm going to Portland, OR in few weeks. A friend has work trip there with a weekend free. Since she normally lives in the UK, I'm taking this opportunity to hang out with her. Anyways I'm posting to asking for recommendations for things to do and places to eat. Anyone have advice?
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([personal profile] cadenzamuse Aug. 21st, 2014 01:40 pm)
This is going to sound incredibly snotty, but:

My first day at community college )

[livejournal.com profile] finding_helena, when can I come visit you? I need a change of scenery.

In better news, my brain is semi-calming down enough about the move to actually factor other people's emotions/needs back into my life and not just have my brain BSOD when other people are talking to me about feelings. T. caught a cold from me and came home from work yesterday Really Sick, and I had the emotional energy to go "Okay, how do I take care of this person?" instead of just falling to pieces.
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([personal profile] cofax7 Aug. 20th, 2014 10:08 pm)
Basically the world sucks and I just want to sit at home with a dog in my lap and eat ice cream. Sigh.

Well, this is encouraging. Sigh.

I enjoyed this review of The Expendables 3, though. The movie borrows so liberally from other action films that it starts to feel at times a bit like a BuzzFeed listicle.

Oh, wonderful: The Toast has an appreciation of Leigh Brackett.

Courtesy of the comment section on The Toast, here's a commentary by Stephanie Beatriz, who plays Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn 9-9.

I read this story yesterday, it's about a British animal-rights activist who fell in love and had a child with another activist, who turned out to be an undercover cop. He lived with her for two years, they had a child together, and then he disappeared; she didn't find him again until their son was an adult. As they say on Tumblr, I can't even. (Makes me consider Tom Quinn, The World's Worst Spy, in a new light, though: at least he didn't disappear for 20 years before admitting the truth.)

*

I am flailing a bit with my NFE assignment. I tried one of the prompts. And then I tried again, from a different angle, and it still didn't work. And then I gave up on that one and am trying something else, but at least I think I have a hook for it. Argh.
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([personal profile] sholio Aug. 20th, 2014 06:12 pm)
My sister innocently sent me an email asking, "Do you remember the Hulk rules for Ambush? Because I don't think we wrote them down."

I do indeed, and after I stopped laughing, I typed them up for her, and then decided to tell the whole story on Livejournal. Basically it's the story of how my sister and I hacked a WWII board game into first a Stargate game and then an Avengers game.

For people -- mostly guys -- of a certain (my dad's) age, military board games were a big deal. I think this has probably given way to computer games now, but in the '70s and '80s these things were pretty huge, and my dad was really into them. The games come with a map, combat rules, lots of different counters representing soldiers, equipment, weapons, etc, and you design different strategies and put them through combat and see how much of your army survives. Most of the ones he liked to play were WWII-related, though he also had some Napoleonic Wars and medieval ones.

When my sister and I were little, we used to enjoy watching him play the games and "helping" by rolling dice and so forth. Our favorite of the games by far -- which meant that we ended up spending hours and hours and HOURS playing it with him -- was a WWII game called Ambush!, because of the roleplaying-game aspect, although neither of us had encountered RPGs yet. You create characters, name them, roll up different skills for them, and then use a game book of predetermined enemy movements to put your characters through a series of missions, competing against spontaneously generated enemy combatants who move/attack according to the game book. Your characters gain experience points during the mission, so you can put them through the entire war if you want to, or at least as much of it as is provided in the expansion modules.

You can probably see where this is going )
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([personal profile] sholio Aug. 20th, 2014 04:28 pm)
This is not actually what I'm reading right now, but I was in Barnes & Noble yesterday and happened to notice the latest (I assume the latest) of Lee Child's Jack Reacher books on a bargain table. As noted in a previous post, I stopped reading the series due to skepticism that Oh, this is all spoilery, I may as well put it under a cut if anyone cares )

What I'm actually reading is Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers. I've never read any of her books, but Gaudy Night is the one that tends to be mentioned by a lot of people as their favorite of hers (if not their favorite book ever, sometimes) so I decided that would be a good place to start. So far, I'm enjoying it a lot -- I'm about 200 pages in -- and not feeling too lost jumping into the middle of a series, though I'd gotten the impression from what vague spoilers I've picked up along the way that this is the first book in which Harriet appears, which is obviously not the case. However, it's lots of fun so far!
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([personal profile] forestofglory Aug. 20th, 2014 03:12 pm)
So this Sunday afternoon in my time zone, I watched the live broadcast of the hugo awards. I had all the feels. The ceremony was well done, and the broadcast worked the whole time. (Well it started cutting out towards the end, but I'm pretty sure the problem was on my end.) I'm so pleased with this years winners. Sofia Samatar! Kameron Hurley! Julie Dillon! Ann Leckie! (Full list here)

I'm also continuing to work on my thesis. It is going well. I was really overwhelmed went I opened it at it was full of red comments, but now most them are gone. I'm going to have to go over the footnotes with fine toothed comb still, and work on better including secondary sources.

Ruby is starting to explore the house and meet the other cats. She spent a good chuck of this morning upstairs with other people.

Yesterday afternoon I hung out with my niece, my mother's friend, and her two grand daughters. We played clue (know as Cludo in other parts of the world), bocce ball, and sorry, and ate cookies and ran around outside. Playing boardgames with kids is different form playing with adults. Afterwards I took my niece back to my mom's house. Some how we ended up looking at all the sweaters and dresses my mom made for me as child. My mom made some awesome sweaters. I picked the patterns for the dresses, and had at the time a taste for frills.

Today I had lunch with my mother. Generally she has Wednesdays off, but she had to work today. So we ended up having a late lunch. We had pizza with figs, blue cheese and arugula (rocket). It was so good! Afterwards we went cheese shopping.
What, I answered comments instead of starting this report right away, I'm losing steam now. (The sangria's probably worn off, though.)

So today we tramped around Dublin and saw All the Old Things. We started at Trinity College, to see the Book of Kells and the Long Room.

Now, I have been to see these things before, in 1997 with [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel and possibly also [livejournal.com profile] papersky. And it might be just my terrible memory (I have a journal from this era, but it's in a format and possibly a location I can't read right now), but what I remember is looking at a couple gospels from the Book of Kells, open to whatever page they decided for that time period, and then looking down the Long Room and saying "yup. Long."

Things have become considerably more informative since then. There is a couple rooms worth of displays before the Book of Kells about the history, what materials were used to make it and what the illustrations meant, the scholarly theories on how many people worked on it, what they did about errors, all kinds of things. My favorite tidbits were two: (1) there's a whole page that was copied twice, which in a remarkable show of restraint is merely marked with red crosses in the margins; and (2) the illustrations sometimes went out of their way to emphasize the Latin meaning "he (Jesus) said", including once drawing a lion, which formed the first two letters, with its paws held to its mouth, which was surprisingly adorable.

Also, because the exhibit blows up all the illustrations so you can see the detail, it's all the more impressive to see the actual thing, which is bigger than a standard hardcover these days but not that much bigger, and all the exquisite artwork is tiny.

The Long Room had a display about Brian Boru which was told with text banners on one side and the most amazing art banners on the other: you can see all of them at the exhibit's webpage, and I highly recommend looking (they're by Cartoon Saloon, a local animation studio). It also had relevant original documents and artifacts as well as other pop-culture things about Brian, like a Mexican comic book.

And, of course, it's a really long room filled with books. And the very narrow ladders needed to reach the top shelves.

(It was very crowded even pretty much first thing on a week-day morning, but with some patience and willingness to maneuver, you can read and see everything. And they send you through the gift shop on the way back out too, not just on the way in, though weirdly I was prepared to buy a big pack of postcards with images from the Book of Kells (I was going to rotate through them with the diptychs from Bath), but the gift shop would only sell me individual ones, and only 7 different ones at that.)

Before we left, we saw workers restoring the cobblestones, which involved re-laying the stones themselves and then pouring asphalt or suchlike around them with what looked all the world like gravy boats.

Then we walked over to Dublin Castle, which I was also at in 1997—I went to the Eurocon, which was held in the convention-center part of the complex. Have some pictures:

On the way: stained glass over the Olympia Theatre

An example of the conglomeration that is Dublin Castle: a medieval tower joined to a more modern building, electricity included.

Two bits of the Royal Chapel (which dates from about 1814): how you did ventilation back then, and child(-like?) faces judging you from the ceiling.

One of a set of cool sand sculptures.

Did I mention, conglomeration?

The accompanying gardens are not very interesting in the center (flat grass laid out in a circle with spiraling brick paths to look nice from above), but in each of the four corners around the circle was something hidden: a memorial, a glass snake, another sculpture, and an overlook with garden and more statuary. It was pretty great.

There was also a free exhibit on the Ulysses Cylinders, which doubtless would have been more meaningful to me if I'd read Ulysses, but the process of making the glass cylinders themselves was pretty neat: a painter sketched designs, glassworkers recreated them in very thin rods of glass, and that glass design was then impressed on the hot unblown glass that would become the cylinders. (This involved a big team of people, none of whom are credited at the opening of the exhibit, but which are mentioned in the second room, which has the details on how it was done.)

After that we had an undistinguished lunch at the first place that appeared to be open (though it was serving drinks but not food for another fifteen minutes), and then we went Christ Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Christ Church was not as interesting to me, and I can't put my finger on why? I mean, both of them have needed heavy repairs over time, and Christ Church has actual crypts, but St. Patrick's must play on some prejudice of mine regarding what "old" looks like. Also, it has better stained glass and is well-supplied with anecdotes about Jonathan Swift, who was Dean there for over thirty years.

I don't have a lot of pictures, because they're dark inside and the cameraphone can't cope with stained glass, alas, but here's a few:

Flying buttresses at Christ Church—I can't remember if this is the side that's 18 inches off plumb? It's incredibly disorienting.

A well-loved cat outside Christ Church.

A rare face on the exterior of St. Patrick's: no gargoyles, no statues, just this little face and, on the window below, two looking inward at the end of the surrounding direction, which are not nearly as prominent (and not in this picture). If anyone knows more, please chime in.

Anyway, we stomped around those, and then we stomped around by the river, and then we came back to the hotel and took a short nap before dinner, being thoroughly stomped-out.

We had tapas at Zaragoza for dinner, which was very tasty and a great value—we were there just before 6:30 and thus got their early bird special, which was a plate of 6 dishes for €17 and which would have been more than enough for just me. Chad & I split one of those and also had a single extra dish, and it was all delicious. (It was often difficult to get a server's attention, but when we did, they were pretty prompt.) Recommended if you're in the area.

Tomorrow, Newgrange and Tara.
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([personal profile] staranise Aug. 20th, 2014 10:43 am)
I'm looking after a kid who's enrolled in daycamp this week. *leisurely stretch!* On my way back from making the drop-off, I stopped at my house to pick up more tea, and also to give Emily a ten-minute cuddle session. :D

Meme! Pick a number between 1 and 40 and I will answer a question about my writing it corresponds to on this list.
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([personal profile] thistleingrey Aug. 20th, 2014 08:31 am)
Sherwood Smith, Sartor (2012): sequel to The Spy Princess, which I seem not to've read.[*] In Sartor we have a brief glimpse of twelve-year-old Lilah, fifteen-year-old Atan, and Lilah's nineteen-year-old brother Peitar before Lilah and Atan embark upon adventures. Atan decides to cross into Sartor and thus begin dismantling the Norsundrian enchantments that have pushed it---her kingdom---out of time.

The subject line is what crosses my mind every time I see "Kessler Sonscarna": kessler = kettle-er (generally a coppersmith), sans carne. One thing I appreciate about the long run of the Sartorias-deles books is that villainous, othering names that made sense to a much younger writer are kept and given some depth in characterization by a more seasoned iteration of that writer, not ditched as mistakes to paper over.

I look forward to the next piece of this arc as well, which will not be easy for its characters, I think.

* One of the Amazon reviews suggests that an editor changed Lilah's characterization somewhat in Spy Princess. Perhaps I'll skip it.
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rhivolution: Hannelore from webcomic Questionable Content: shirt reads 'OCDelightful' (OCDelightful: Hannelore)
([personal profile] rhivolution Aug. 19th, 2014 10:18 pm)
Finally had the first of my two sessions of CBT consult yesterday. Not sure if it will help me or what the outcome of the consult will be, but the clinical psych seems to be a respectful person, knowledgeable and empathetic about OCD, and I didn't have a hard time talking to her.

So that is a good thing, I think.

Doesn't do much for the Random Anxiety Flares in the meantime but I will, as ever, persevere.
I have two more panel reports to do, but I am so, so tired and I have promised myself that I will go to bed before 10 tonight. So have some tourism instead.

Monday we blew off all panels in favor of conversation with people and wandering around the dealers' room & exhibits (more on that later). And that was excellent and restorative. Then we had a reservation for the extremely touristy event of afternoon tea at a fancy hotel.

Specifically, The Wolseley, which one of our guidebooks said was good and fancy and also about half the price of afternoon tea at most other places. And indeed it was: here's our two-person tier of sandwiches, desserts, and scones (under the dome). It was all great: the sandwiches were not flavors I want a lot of, but they were a nice base for the scones, which are (a) ballast and (b) a delivery vehicle for copious quantities of clotted cream (mmm) and strawberry preserves. And then there were the desserts; turns out I hate marzipan with an unholy passion, which is what the checkered cake is flavored with, but everything else was excellent. (I had green tea because I don't much like tea and I rarely drink caffeine. It was hot.)

So that was delightful, which was good because we had a not-very-fun adventure getting there. [profile] mari_ness came with, and though the TFL website assured me we could be step-free all the way, it specified that to go to Green Park you had to get on a particular car number on the Jubilee Line. Well, we didn't see any numbers, but it seemed like a high number so we went toward the back and hoped for the best. Turns out that access at Green Park is in the form of a "hump" in the platform, and the door we initially tried to use had a several-inches step down. We could have managed it—Chad could have helped Mari lower her chair out backwards, or she could have walked the couple steps necessary—but we had no notice of why we needed a specific car and we kind of froze for a moment, while the train was all the while getting ready to leave. Fortunately Chad, who'd gotten out first, saw that the next door down from us was at the platform hump and we made it out, but it was an unpleasant jolt. And then to get to the lifts involves this endless set of sloping hallways, and getting out of Green Park itself is extremely steep, and I was feeling pretty terrible by the end of it for suggesting that we take the DLR/Tube just because it was half as long as the bus.

tl;dr: accessibility on the Tube sucks.

After our tea, we waved Mari into a cab (they all have ramps built-in and capacious interiors) and wandered around to work off some of the food. We headed down to Trafalgar Square and past Westminster, and I took some pictures along the way:

The current art on the Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square, which is a giant blue rooster ("Hahn/Cock," 2013, by Katharina Fritsch).

A somewhat odd memorial to the women of WWII.

Sunlight glinting off gilt with ominous background clouds.

"Big Ben! Parliament!"

Then we picked up laundry and found people at the tail end of the con and drank and talked, and then I packed, fretting all the while that I was missing something because I had so much space—even though I knew that I'd vacuum-bagged some stuff and put it in a different suitcase—and had a hard time getting to sleep because I was all anxiety-ish.

Unfortunately the—not brain weasels, that's too serious, what's a smaller critter in the same family?—were still running around this morning, even though objectively everything went very well until we hit Dublin: no significant delays, no hassles, luggage came through.

Ugh, I can't even bear to rehash all the details. Suffice it to say that we walked with our luggage for way longer than we should have trying to find our hotel, at least half of which was my fault, so, awesome; and our smartphones are completely useless as phone-and-data devices for the duration of this part of the trip [*], so we had to buy the cheapest call-and-text-only phone possible just to give us a way to be reached here in Ireland.

[*] We're on pay-as-you-go, somehow got out of Heathrow without "topping up", i.e., paying to add credit to our phones, and (1) Vodafone IE can't add credit to Vodafone UK phones and (2) Vodafone UK won't accept credit cards with zip codes rather than post codes. So we have no way to pay for roaming here.

But then we had good food and drinks at the Porterhouse [*], which also established that I am now spoiled for easily-available cider in the U.S., because I like the darker, richer stuff from Ireland (and one of the kinds I had in Bristol) much better, and then we stomped around looking at St. Stephen's Green (very pretty), and noticing Captain America's Cookhouse and Bar and Writers' Tears Whisky, and now we have something like a plan for the next days of tourism, so all is well.

[*] Its Oyster Stout is literally made with oysters, which Chad did not know before he tried it. He said it was very good.

(Apologies to Dublin for the entry tag; I created it before I knew we were coming to Dublin, and to change it now would break links elsewhere.)
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([personal profile] bookchan Aug. 19th, 2014 03:53 pm)
today was another death by powerpoint briefing day, but on the upside we got out a bit early? Still not my favorite type of day. Made myself unpack a few boxes before I let myself sit down because as I was reminded yesterday, it's a lot harder to get up and do a box if I've let myself say I'm done for the day and stop after work.

When I first started unpacking I was pretty good about putting everything in it's proper place, not so much now. Now I have a pile that's getting larger and larger of stuff I need to sort through at some point. I'm just attempting to put away the big and obvious stuff right now, anything that requires thought just gets put into that pile.
I'm in Heathrow again, on my way to Istanbul.

The way things are going, I'm not sure I'll get another chance to say that Loncon 3 was fantastic. My expectations were high, and then low, and then they were all exceeded. I don't think it's a coincidence that the biggest Worldcon ever was also the most international and the one with the biggest Hugo electorate ever. I ushered for the Hugos, and when Ann Leckie won for Ancillary Justice I stood up and cheered, along with many other people. on that note, I'm very thrilled that Tamora Pierce is found to be a Guest of Honor at Worldcon in 2016 in Kansas City, but I absolutely will be maintaining a supporting membership in order to vote for Helsinki in 2017. Worldcon needs to live up to its name.

I didn't go to as many panels as I might have, but that was okay; mine went quite well and I spent the time hanging out with and meeting many awesome people from around the world, who are literally too many to list on timed wifi. It was great to see old friends and to meet new ones, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing you all again soon.
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([personal profile] ellen_fremedon Aug. 19th, 2014 09:27 am)
The movers are coming between 1 and 3. I still need to dismantle the bed, take the shelves out of the bookcases, run out and get a parking pass for the truck and cash for the movers' tips, restage the furniture and boxes in the living room, and sweep and bag up the remaining trash. Also toss my toiletries and robe into my suitcase.

And then tomorrow is cleaning, spackling, and emptying the fridge.

I still have not managed to sell or give away my dining table and chairs; they'll be going out on the curb tomorrow night, so if anyone wants them, let me know.

And after tomorrow I can go back on applying for jobs. And also write a long-overdue update here.
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