sholio: Snow-covered trees (Winter-snowy trees)
([personal profile] sholio Nov. 30th, 2015 01:37 pm)
We had a roughly 6-hour power outage last night, always slightly nervewracking in below-zero weather. It's fascinating how much more appealing going to bed suddenly becomes when it's pitch dark, there's no Internet, and the only heat is the residual heat remaining in the hot-water radiators. At least it was closer to midnight than to, say, 5 p.m. (It gets dark about 4 in the afternoon, these days.) I tried doing some art by the light of a small LED lantern, but it was too dim to be fun, so I read a little and went to bed. Power came back around 5:30 a.m.

I grew up without electricity -- we didn't get it until I was around 13 or 14 -- so all my winters were like that once upon a time, long and dark and lit only by kerosene lamps and the flickering of the fire. Now? Now I complain if I have to go for half an hour in the darkest heart of winter without my bright overhead fluorescent lights and my Internet.

There was something strikingly peaceful about it, though .... reminiscent of my cabin childhood. The house gets so shockingly quiet without the background hum of electronics and the refrigerator. We're far enough out in the country that there's little traffic, and the handful of neighbor lights normally visible from the windows were out as well. The moon was very bright, the night very clear. No distractions, no Internet, no temptation to turn on some device. Orion went to bed immediately, like a sensible person, so it was just me and the moon (and a rather anxious dog) until I got tired of straining my eyes trying to read, and went to bed myself.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
([personal profile] owlectomy Nov. 30th, 2015 04:01 pm)
There is one program I'm applying to (fortunately it has a February deadline) that actually requires a 10-20 page critical essay.

If I had a paper from undergrad, I would use a paper from undergrad. Or even the werewolf paper I did in grad school, substantially revised! But I do not. And it's not going to be easy to write a paper from scratch; I no longer have access to any databases beyond what I can access through NYPL, I don't have access to scholarly journals. NYPL is good but not a patch on a good university library. I guess I should be able to put something together if I start putting Interlibrary loan requests in NOW, but I can't get journal articles through ILL.

(It occurs to me that if I really wanted to do a good job on this, I should take a week off and see how much research I can get through at Duke and UNC -- both of which are pretty generous in giving access to people outside the university, unlike Columbia and NYU. But this is my 'well, if I don't get into any of the super-selective programs I'm applying for, maybe I can at least spend two years sitting by myself in a northern forest' school, so I'm not inclined to put TOO much effort into it).

Universities like it when you have taken some years off for Life Experience after undergrad, but the application process is so much easier if you actually still have access to university resources.

Oh well! I think I at least know what I want to write about now! It is body horror and reproduction in Yoko Ogawa's "Pregnancy Diary." (Or other stories too! I should read Ogawa's Revenge, and see what's out there on the general topic...)

I always need to read more Carol Clover.

(Note to self:
Managing the monstrous feminine : regulating the reproductive body
Knowing Fear : Science, Knowledge and the Development of the Horror Genre.)
oursin: hedgehog carving from Amiens cathedral (Amiens hedgehog)
([personal profile] oursin Nov. 30th, 2015 09:04 pm)

Lately saw this somewhere: Christian 'naturism' advocate appointed Bishop of Sherborne.

What this enquiring mind wants to know is, does she cite the tradition of the Ranters? Or Blake playing Adam and Eve in his South London garden?

(I am not sure why the scare quotes round 'naturism' in that headline.)

oursin: Illustration from the Kipling story: mongoose on desk with inkwell and papers (mongoose)
([personal profile] oursin Nov. 30th, 2015 02:55 pm)

As I had to get out of the house this morning for a GP appointment, I thought I might as well taken advantage of the fact, and already being going in the same general direction, to go back to the British Library with the requisite documentation and renew my reader's pass.

Yay! Done!

I then went and ordered several volumes of the really obscure C19th journal that I want to consult.

And in spite of various niggles with the ordering system, I did manage to place orders and they are even listed as having been ordered by me in my reader record.

My jury remains out, however, on whether there are actual volumes for the years in which I am interested, because I have so Been There Before. Though perhaps it is an encouraging sign that one can put in an online order for [designated year/s] rather than submit a hopeful manual slip...

Watch this space.

Incidentally, if you register as a BL reader at the moment, you get a comp ticket for the West Africa exhibition, which I had been thinking about going to see anyway: however, on looking at it more closely, it's valid until the end of November 2015, chiz, which makes it a bit pointless.

And in my saga of BL Misadventures Over the Years, started walking into the Gents by mistake.

selenak: (Omar by Monanotlisa)
([personal profile] selenak Nov. 30th, 2015 02:23 pm)
I watched the pilot in September because it was part of Lufthansa's in flight entertainment program; by now, the dvds are out, and so I could watch the entire first season.

The short version: wildly entertaining Lion in Winter AU set in the US music industry, with everyone but one (supporting) regular character black. Also, genre wise, very much a 1980s style soap, by which I mean it reminded me of Dallas and Dynasty. This is not meant as a disparagement. I watched both Dallas and Dynasty in the 80s! So when I saw a scene where Andre (aka The Smart Son) and his wife Rhonda schemed together on how to provoke Andre's younger brother Hakeem into a public meltdown by making him aware of a spoilery soapy circumstance ), I felt like I was back in Dallas or Denver, with Larry Hagman or Joan Collins right around the corner.

What makes this a Plantagenet/Lion in Winter AU is the initial set up: three sons up for the possible succession, mother out of prison (17 years for Cookie Lyon, 16 years for Eleanor of Aquitaine), Dad's favourite is the youngest, Hakeem (who in an improvement on Lion in Winter's take on John isn't an unhygienic idiot, though he is a loudmouth with (absent) Mommy issues), Mom's favourite is the gay one, Jamal, who inherited Lucious' military musical talent but has a catastrophically bad relationship with him, while the smartest of the lot, Geoffrey Andre, is no one's favourite and quietly resentful about that. Our patriarch, Lucious Lyon, is more J.R. Ewing than Henry II, character wise, and his much younger girlfriend, Anika, is far more active than poor Alais ever got to be in either play or history, but Alais has another doppelganger in the show: who is spoilery. ) Not in The Lion in Winter but in actual history and having counterpoints in the show: Geoffrey's wife, Constance of Brittany (Andre's wife Rhonda, the sole white regular, which makes her an outsider in a way that actually provides a good analogue for Constance's situation), and Thomas Becket. If you haven't figured out who Becket is by the end of the pilot, you will be the end of the season. Though you could argue that the Becket role is divided into two characters the same way that of Alais is, two it: spoilers abound. )

As you can see via the twist on Thomas Becket, Empire mixes the timeline up. Basically the only complaint I had after watching the pilot was that while Henry and Eleanor both did terrible things to each other in the past, the good/bad factor with Lucious and Cookie seemed far more uneven, to wit, Cookie did absolutely nothing to Lucious and a lot for him in the past while he let her stew in prison for 17 years. Keeping your wife captive after she waged a literal family war against you is a very different thing from abandoning your wife in prison when up to that point your relationship was terrific and she did everything for you. Having watched the entire season now, I am a bit more reconciled in that the family war still happens, only later, plus Cookie in general is such a great Eleanor analogue. Whereas my big problem with Susan Howatch's Penmarric, which brings Henry, Eleanor & kids into the 20th century, was that her Eleanor version, Janna, is a poor, barely literate widow when you marries Mark/Henry the rich up and coming landowner, which is wrong, wrong, wrong, because Henry married up, not down, when he married Eleanor - she was his financial, social and cultural superior. By making Cookie a fantastic music producer without whom Lucious would not have had his breakthrough in the past, when they were both poor but gifted, and who still has that talent (which he respects), Empire makes Cookie the Queen in a truly meaningful way (as opposed to if she'd simply been his divorced wife). And we see her in action as a producer, just like Jamal and Hakeem are regularly featured as musicians. Moreover, Cookie isn't presented as perfect (if Lucious is a homophobe, Cookie is as blatantly biased against Hakeem's older girlfriend Camilla for no other reason than her age), and definitely ruthless in her own right. (True, her doing a spoilery thing ) but when that turns out to be impossible, there are absolutely no regrets on her part.

Cookie's not the only interesting female character around, either. Anika is presented as smart and competent as well, so is Rhonda; come to think of it, all the Empire women are good at their jobs (even the teenager, Tiana, is far more professional than Hakeem). With the exception of Becky, Lucious' secretary, who unless I'm mistaken is played by the leading actress of Precious, they're all Hollywood-style gorgeous, but given most of them work in the Entertainment industy, that's in-universe sense making. Of the men, the show is good in making all three sons sympathetic, though Hakeem takes the longest to warm up to. There's no real equivalent to Philip II. of France (or Philip's father Louis, Eleanor's first husband), since Lucious' biggest business rival is the owner of label on which Lucious' first songs appeared, and who still holds the publishing rights for those early songs. (Cue my inner Beatles fan going: I know that problem!) Though come to think of it: you could argue a spoiilery development. )

The music industry setting is very much narrative part of the show, not just convenient plot device the way the oil industry is in Dallas and Denver; we keep seeing the characters composing, performing, producing, performing, and the way they do it is usually part of the story. Set piece example: Jamal's musical duel with Black Rambo. As for the soap opera twists, most, though not all (could have done without the soap cliché involving Anika and Cookie )), work for me not despite but in their familiarity; given that the Jamal-Lucious relationship is established as so bad in the pilot and given this is among other things a soap, you can bet that eventually, a father-son reconciliation scene is in the offering (naturally, music is involved), though Lucious is Well Done Son Guy for two of his three sons and only Jamal gets the pay off. Lucious being more J.R. than Henry II means he also falls in to the category of Walter White as the villain protagonist; while he has a few humanizing moments, you can usually count on him doing the dastardly thing.

In conclusion: fun! I'll definitely watch the second season once it has concluded and is out on dvd.
littlerhymes: (literature)
([personal profile] littlerhymes Nov. 30th, 2015 11:11 pm)
Love for the Cold-Blooded - Alex Gabriel
Vicious - VE Schwab
The Last Witness - KJ Parker
The Sun and I - KJ Parker
Illuminated - KJ Parker
Twice Shy - Dick Francis
Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji) 21 - Yana Toboso
Copperhead 2 - Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski

reading )
littlerhymes: (blank space)
([personal profile] littlerhymes Nov. 30th, 2015 10:40 pm)
Mortido (Belvoir)
20:21 (Australian Ballet)
Taylor Swift

theatre, ballet, pop )
oursin: hedgehog in santa hat saying bah humbug (Default)
([personal profile] oursin Nov. 30th, 2015 08:53 am)
Happy birthday, [personal profile] smw!
muccamukk: A soft-focus close up of Peggy, who is wearing bright red lipstick. (AC: Lips)
([personal profile] muccamukk Nov. 29th, 2015 10:50 pm)
Saw Suffragette a bit ago and it was... fine. I liked the acting a lot, and I liked that it was about working-class women and why the vote mattered to them. It was generally well done all around, but I expect movies about suffrage to give me A LOT of feelings. I cry watching the Lady Gaga suffrage mash up. This one didn't really have any moments where I was really emotionally engaged. Probably worth a watch if you're either interested in the history, or don't know anything about the history, but eh.

Just got back from Mockingjay: Part II, which I also liked fine, and also didn't blow me away. Lawrence was amazing expected, and I really like the relationships and the music and screening, but meh, again. Didn't blow me away, and I generally like this series. I enjoyed it more than I did the book, in any case.

I've fallen instead into Netflix and am about a series and a half into The Almighty Johnsons which I should have way more problems with than I actually do on grounds of misogyny, and everyone being kind of horrible people, but it's got the girl for Whale Rider and brothers and feelings, and I'm pretty well addicted. Unfortunately for the fandom, the most jerkish brother is played by one of the cute dwarves from The Hobbit so that means almost all the fic is about him being a poor woobie, and the oldest brother is much more my flavour of manpain. Oh well.

The Captive Temple (Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice #7) by Jude Watson
So did anyone care about the Mystery Plot, cause I sure did not. Mostly I was just invested in Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan working things out while they were both being giant dorks. Points to both for a small amount of self-actualization. No points for a total failure at implementation. At least they are trying? They have both agreed that they should not listen to Yoda, anyway.

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
I liked a lot about this story, not the least the amalgamated SF-F setting and world building, which was really fantastically put together. The voices of the characters were well done, and the writing itself was gorgeous.

I am, however, 100% over tragic gays, especially when they have tragic rapey backstories, so there is that. Also, too many entrails.

Persians by Aeschylus, translated by C. John Herington and Janet Lembke
I think people are terrified of letting this play just stand on its own, and have consequently introduced and end-noted the poor thing half to death, which is interesting for extra context, but it really does stand very well on its own. This is a very fine translation, and really gets across the drama and pathos of the story, and is powerfully told, though of course it's not a light touch with the moral of the story. I'll have to read this again without checking out footnotes and such.

The Day of Reckoning (Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice #8) by Jude Watson
I liked this one! Qui-Gon got his act together and apologised for being a dick over the last three books! They worked as a team with Obi-Wan snarking all the way! Evil mining companies were distroying the environment, and had to be stopped! More like this would be great.

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson by Lyndsay Faye, narrated by Simon Vance
I swore I'd never read another Ripper book, but everyone told me this one was great, and I'm a sucker for Sherlock Holmes pastiche, so gave it a go. Mostly it had everything I want from Holmes story, with lots of h/c moments, good deducting, a strong feel of London, and some great OCs. I was well please.

Until the ending. I was perfectly happy with the solution to the mystery. And the action climax as great, and I liked all the character beats, but... Faye did that thing again.

She has this habit of addressing issues by including characters to express the points of view that the main characters leave out, and giving them lots to do, and then totally undercutting them for drama! Or in this case, for no decipherable reason. Which made me annoyed enough to like this book a lot less than I otherwise would.

Spoiler )

The Fight for Truth (Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice #9) by Jude Watson
Obi-Wan is made to go to school, and Qui-Gon has a temper tantrum and overthrows the government. It's pretty great. Though the tone was brought down by the reminder that all of these characters will soon be miserable and/or die. The Empire sucks.
sholio: Cocoa in red cup with cinnamon stick (Christmas cocoa)
([personal profile] sholio Nov. 29th, 2015 09:10 pm)
This book is wall-to-wall h/c idfic, OMFG.

It was one of my favorite books as a teenager, reread 'til it was falling apart, but I was concerned it wouldn't hold up since I think it's been at least a decade since I last read it. I needn't have worried. DID I MENTION THE WALL TO WALL IDFIC. And it's a pretty solid book otherwise, too.

Rusalka is set in a fantasy version of medieval Russia, with deliciously believable magic -- subtle and often deniable (is it the Yard-Thing that drinks the saucers of milk left out for it, or the barnyard cat?), but omnipresent in everyday matters of luck and superstition. Sasha is a young man who has magic powers, or at least he believes so. He can make things happen just by wishing them. Literally anything. When he was a small child, he made the house burn down to stop his father's abuse, killing both his parents -- or so he and everyone else in his hometown believe. Now the whole town thinks he's bad luck, and Sasha has desperately trained himself not to want anything, or think about things, or get angry, for fear of accidentally killing someone, retreating into a life of miserable isolation. (As the other protagonist says to him later: "That's hell you live in, Sasha." And it is.)

Pyetr is the orphaned son of a murdered gambler, cultivating wealthy friends in an attempt to rise above his gutter beginnings. He doesn't believe in magic -- or in nebulous things like friendship and love for that matter. His career of inveterate rakitude comes to a sudden and bloody end when a jealous husband stabs him near-fatally on page three. His wealthy fair-weather friends abandon him and the only person in the whole town who'll help him is fellow outcast Sasha, which leads to the two of them on the run in a winter-dead wilderness full of old, wild magic.

Pyetr soon attracts the attention of a rusalka, i.e. the ghost of a drowned girl, who can only survive by stealing the life energy of the living, although she doesn't want to. This is Eveshka, the third major character. Between this and the sword wound, Pyetr spends the entire book in various states of swooning, feverish collapse, in between getting attacked by monsters and railing against the fact that he DOESN'T BELIEVE IN MAGIC DAMMIT and WHY THE HELL IS THIS HAPPENING TO HIM. Meanwhile lonely Sasha attaches to him hard, and Pyetr starts to figure out how to be the hero Sasha and Eveshka think he already is.

The book is currently out of print and can be bought directly from the author as an ebook or as a used book from Amazon. There are two sequels, which I vaguely remember were somewhat disappointing, or at least less massively idficcy, but I'll be reading them next, so I guess we'll see.

ETA: There's an interesting about-the-book page on the author's website in which she talks about how, when she was writing this book in the 1980s, the Cold War was still going on and the reference materials on Russian mythology, plants, etc. that she needed to write the book were next to impossible to find. She ended up swapping sci-fi with Russian fans in return for reference books.

ETA2: Wikipedia article on the books talks more about them, with no major spoilers.
muccamukk: Peggy holds a pencil between her teeth and studies a clipboard. (Cap: Preoccupied)
([personal profile] muccamukk Nov. 29th, 2015 10:08 pm)
Imma try this again. I really like blogging and talking to people, so here's my promise for this year: I'm going to do a post for every day, within a few days of that day. It might not be a long thinky thought post, but it will be a post. Please pick a day and prompt a topic, ask for a review, prompt ficlets, solicit opinions on a character, whatever.

December 1: Re-reading childhood favorites - do you do this? And what where your experiences? ([personal profile] thady)
December 2:
December 3:
December 4: Rec me two books. ([personal profile] watersword)
December 5:
December 6:
December 7:
December 8:
December 9:
December 10: Talk about weird stuff that washes up on your beaches. ([personal profile] st_aurafina)
December 11:
December 12:
December 13:
December 14: Tell about one really stunning thing/place/happening in Scotland. ([personal profile] heliopausa)
December 15:
December 16:
December 17:
December 18: Your thoughts on wind, water, waves, weather, and other things of that sort. ([personal profile] linaelyn)
December 19:
December 20: Thoughts on Jessica Jones, show and comics. ([personal profile] lilacsigil)
December 21:
December 22: Talk to me about Denethor as a character! ([personal profile] mithen)
December 23:
December 24:
December 25:
December 26:
December 27:
December 28:
December 29:
December 30:
December 31:
yhlee: snowflake (StoryNexus: snowflake)
([personal profile] yhlee Nov. 30th, 2015 12:05 am)
If you'd like a Christmas/season's greetings/? card from me, please leave a comment with your address and, if relevant, your preferred greeting. I'm an apathetic agnostic, but I'm happy to accommodate you. :)

(Fox doodles may also happen. You have been warned.)

All comments on this specific post are screened.
cadenzamuse: Cross-legged girl literally drawing the world around her into being (Default)
([personal profile] cadenzamuse Nov. 29th, 2015 09:56 pm)
#18: What’s the first app you check when you wake up? (for [personal profile] ironed_orchid)

Wordament! It's rather like Microsoft's version of Boggle, and doing word games helps me to wake up. So I usually silence my alarm, sit up, and start Wordament even before I grab my glasses, so that my brain wakes up relatively quickly. It usually only takes about 3 games, but I'll play 5-10 before getting up, depending on the day. I also play when I'm bored and before going to bed--T. will cuddle me, big spoon style, and we'll play together a couple of times. We have a rule that we can never finish with a speed round, because they are kind of frustrating--looking for lots of little words doesn't seem as fun for the brain as looking for fewer big words.

#13: What’s one slang term you refuse to use? (for [personal profile] pauamma)

BOGO, for "buy one, get one free deal." Ugh. I extra dislike slang made up by corporations. I also am getting to that age where I'm starting to get out of touch with teenage slang, so I haven't managed to use "on fleek" just because I'm worried I'll do it wrong.
cadenzamuse: Cross-legged girl literally drawing the world around her into being (Default)
([personal profile] cadenzamuse Nov. 29th, 2015 09:52 pm)
I have no idea if I can manage it, but I am happy to try the December posting meme again. Give me a topic (and a date, if you would like), and I'll write about it. I'm going to put an asterisk by school deadlines, so that you know what dates I am less likely to post.

*December 1:
December 2:
*December 3:
December 4:
December 5:
December 6:
December 7:
December 8:
*December 9:
December 10:
December 11:
December 12:
December 13:
*December 14:
December 15:
December 16:
December 17: favourite 20th-century or 21st-century theologian, and why ([personal profile] muccamukk)
December 18:
December 19:
December 20:
December 21:
December 22:
December 23:
December 24:
December 25:
December 26:
December 27:
December 28:
December 29:
December 30:
December 31:
yhlee: Sandman raven with eyeball (Sandman raven (credit: rilina))
([personal profile] yhlee Nov. 29th, 2015 08:02 pm)
Stolen from [personal profile] likeadeuce, because it looks fun and I will need fun distractions this December.

Pick a date below and give me a topic to ramble about.

Things that would be good bets: Hamilton, things that annoy me about Seraph of the End but I keep watching it anyway, Pathfinder, my cat Cloud, anything related to writing process, any of my known fandoms (see my profile--scroll down--for a list), the Imjin War, Flight Rising, Gold Box games, thoughts on books I've read, Planescape, Twine, fountain pens, fountain pen inks, music or music composition, sporks...

(I haven't watched Jessica Jones yet, but I have Plans.)

(I do request that topics be non-depressing for real-world stuff. For example, world affairs/current events, maybe not so much. Sporky fannish topics are okay--if you want me to spork about X book, I am a very sporky person and this can likely be accommodated.)

I reserve the right to decline a prompt if I don't think I can do it.

Dec. 1 - mermaids - [personal profile] lemon_badgeress
Dec. 2 - fountain pen recs/ideas for beginners - [personal profile] wendylove
Dec. 3 -
Dec. 4 -
Dec. 5 -
Dec. 6 -
Dec. 7 -
Dec. 8 -
Dec. 9 -
Dec. 10 - board games I actually like - [personal profile] cxcvi
Dec. 11 -
Dec. 12 -
Dec. 13 -
Dec. 14 -
Dec. 15 - Skip Beat - [personal profile] thady
Dec. 16 -
Dec. 17 -
Dec. 18 -
Dec. 19 - Hamilton - [personal profile] rosefox
Dec. 20 -
Dec. 21 -
Dec. 22 -
Dec. 23 -
Dec. 24 -
Dec. 25 -
Dec. 26 -
Dec. 27 -
Dec. 28 - anime I've really liked this year - [personal profile] storme
Dec. 29 -
Dec. 30 -
Dec. 31 -
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
([personal profile] oursin Nov. 29th, 2015 09:36 pm)

Monday, made a version of Greenstein's 100% wholemeal loaf 50:50 ordinary wholemeal and wholemeal spelt. Not entirely successful - don't think I gave it enough kneading/shaping and it was rather given to breaking up.

Saturday breakfast rolls: the adaptable soft roll recipe, something like 60:40 wholemeal spelt (end of the bag)/strong white, with dried cherries.

Today's lunch: halibut steaks baked in foil with sushi ginger and lime; served with Greek spinach rice, chicory quartered, healthy grilled in avocado oil, and splashed with pomegranate molasses, and padron peppers.

In the making: the Collister/Blake My Favourite Loaf: white spelt/wholemeal/einkorn flours, a splash of walnut oil.



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