Absolutely fantastic. Do not click on cut unless you've already seen it. The whole series is streaming on nbc.com.

Read more... )
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Sep. 19th, 2017 09:56 am)
I just spent several minutes trying to figure out where the hell the mysterious rustling noises were coming from.

One of my cats (Alex) was entirely hidden within the depths of a shoebox-size Priority Mail box. He has just now emerged, and his sister Erin has vanished inside.

No cat photos because I don't have an X-Ray camera.
For those who don't know, Trick or Treat is a fun, low-pressure fic and art fest - the minimum is only 300 words! Treating is encouraged. Signups are open now. You can see the tagset of available fandoms here.

Treats (and tricks) in unrequested but known-to-be-favorite fandoms/characters of mine are always welcome!

My god, this is long. Sorry!

My fandoms are The Darkangel, The Dark Tower (book), The Girl With the Silver Eyes, Hamilton, Ladyhawke, The Magnificent Seven (2016), Marvel 616 (aka X-Men comics), Saiyuki, The Stand, and The Windsingers.

Prompts below cut. Read more... )
If the movie is like the trailer, this may be the most perfect adaptation ever made. Oh hai Mark.
This is the fifth novella written in the Penric series, but is chronologically # 3 - it takes place after Penric and the Shaman and before Penric's Mission. I was glad to see Bujold go back in time to a less-experienced Penric and Desdemona, and it was a very enjoyable entry in a very enjoyable series. In this story, Penric, Inglis, and Oswyl investigate a murder which involves a demon; both shamans and sorcerers get involved.

Bujold's magic systems continue to be cool, and if you like seeing magic treated with an analytical, scientific approach, this is the series for you. Unusually, it balances that with a type of magic which is more numinous and magical-feeling, which is the Gods themselves. This is one of my very favorite series for benevolent fictional Gods - I love the visits by the Gods, which are consistently long enough to be satisfying and brief/occasional enough to carry weight and not overstay their welcome.

Penric's Fox: Penric and Desdemona Book 3
I refer, of course, to Baahubali! Parts 1 and 2 are both available on Netflix, in Hindi, Telegu, and Malayalam. I've now seen both in the first two languages (I saw parts 1 and 2 twice each in the theatre, and would have seen them more if they'd been playing longer), and think I need to see them in Malayalam.

If you're thinking, "I don't like Bollywood" (it's actually Tollywood), or "eh, it's so long, maybe later," or some such... watch the trailer. And if that doesn't sell you, I will also mention that it has two of the most badass heroines I've ever seen onscreen. Both of whom are middle-aged moms. (Do NOT watch the trailer for Part 2 if you haven't seen Part 1 - it's very spoilery.)

Still my favorite song. (Link goes to audio only, in Tamil.) Admittedly partly because the scene it appears in is still one of my favorites in the entire series. This one shows the scene (song in Hindi), though without the previous context, but don't watch unless you've already seen the movie - it spoils a scene which partly relies on surprise.

I hear the director is considering doing more movies in the same world. Man, I hope so.

Yuletide fandom, anyone?
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I am a dancer in the New York City Ballet. I wrote the pages that follow during one ballet season. I began on November 21, 1980, and finished on February 15, 1981. I was lonely; I was sad. I had decided to be alone, but I had never decided to be lonely. I started writing on a yellow pad. I wrote, and I smoked. Every page was covered with a film of smoke.

If you like that, you will like this book. It's one of those slim but pithy volumes that precisely captures a time, a place, and a state of mind.

I've always had a fascination with ballet, ever since my second-grade teacher offered a trip to see the Nutcracker Suite (it was at least ten years before I realized that the second word was not "sweet") to her top three students. I had no idea what that was, other than that it was clearly desirable, so I went all-out to make sure that I'd get the prize. I was sufficiently enchanted with The Nutcracker and the general air of specialness surrounding the entire experience that I begged my parents for ballet lessons, at which I lasted something like three sessions. I don't recall the exact problem, but based on my age I'm guessing that there was too much standing around.

After that I confined myself to reading ballet books, which was more fun that actually doing it. Had I tried when I was older, I might have stuck with it for longer. Based on Bentley book and everything else I've read about ballet dancing, it has an austere, stoic, boot camp, push your limits atmosphere that would have really appealed to me if I'd been three to five years older. And then I would have gotten my heart broken, because I am not built to be a ballerina.

Winter Season beautifully depicts the illusion shown to the audience and the reality experienced by the dancers, and how the dancers live the illusion as well. It's got all the fascinating details of any good backstage memoir, without bitterness or cynicism. Even as it ground down her body, Bentley never stopped loving ballet; she seems to feel that she was lucky to have the chance to live the dream, just for the opportunity to spend a few minutes every day being the perfect expression of her body and the choreographer's art.

Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal, with a new preface

And I will place the next bit under a cut in case you just want to read about Winter Season. As opposed to ass. Read more... )
rachelmanija: (It was a monkey!)
( Aug. 20th, 2017 01:14 pm)
This clip from CNN is well worth listening to.

It encapsulates both the jaw-dropping awfulness and bizarreness of the Orange Supremacist era, and the extent to which the mainstream media has gotten so appalled that they're dropping their usual false equivalency. I mean the old "both sides have a point," which works when both sides DO have a point, but does not when you're talking about Nazis vs. anti-Nazis or Cheetolini vs. human beings with empathy. Also, it made me laugh.

Yesterday post-rally [personal profile] hederahelix and I were discussing this.

"It's just so surreal," she said. "Hey... Is that a camel?"

I looked over. The U-haul next to us had a giant camel painted on the side.

Below the camel, as if in explanation of why a U-haul would be decorated with a giant camel, were a few lines of Wikipedia-esque notes on camels, something like "A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as "humps" on its back."
rachelmanija: (Heroes: support WGA)
( Aug. 19th, 2017 01:58 pm)
The rally was fine, though quite small. I imagine there would have been a much bigger turnout if the Nazis hadn't cancelled. One of my neighbors was there!

I went with [personal profile] hederahelix. We are now heading for Clementine.

Here I am with my sign and feline fellows in resistance.



ETA: I changed my sign-up several times since I posted this, so if you looked early on, look again if you're interested.

Dear FemslashEx Writer or Artist,

Thank you so much for writing for me! This is my first time doing FemslashEx, so I'm really excited.

(I only requested art for one fandom; however, if anyone is moved to do an art treat for me in any of them, I would absolutely love that.)

Loves, DNWs, and notes/prompts for my fandoms (Aliens, Carrie, Original Work, Star Trek: Classic Timeline, and X-Men comics (Marvel 616). Read more... )
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Looks like the Nazi scum saw how many people planned to show up to stand up to them in LA, and ran like the cowards they are. Apparently the Venice Nazi rally has been cancelled (but Nazi rallies are still planned in other cities). But it looks like OUR rally is still on, whether the Nazis show up or not.

I will keep updating but if our rally is happening, I'll still be there. I think it's important to show our solidarity and fire. Hey, just talking about showing up chased the Nazis out of LA before they even came - let's give them crowd photos to haunt their dreams and keep them out.
The "alt-right," aka LITERAL NAZIS like the ones who murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, is planning a protest in Los Angeles this Saturday. Here's what I found when I went looking for a counter-protest. I will be there.

Obviously, this could be dangerous. But I am not letting LITERAL NAZIS march in my city unopposed. Besides, it could be a great opportunity:



Please let me know if you're going, so we can rideshare or try to meet up or something.

Defend Diversity: Fight to Protect Diversity Policies in the Workplace!!

Public · Hosted by Defend Movement and Build the Peoples' Democratic Workers' Party

Saturday at 12 PM - 3:30 PM

340 Main St, Venice, California 90291

Dekteon, a slave in fantasyland, escapes and blunders into a strange world between worlds where horses have bear paws and he gets hired by a man who looks just like him to guard him from the terrors of the night. At least, that's the excuse. But it turns out that his new employer has a much more sinister task in mind.

This odd fantasy has some very beautiful, striking images and scenes, and the first fourth or so has a wonderfully spooky, dreamlike atmosphere. Unfortunately, once Dekteon is sent to the matriarchy of cold, bitchy moon women and the sun men they rule, the magic falls away and is replaced by an annoying plot in which he gets the better of the entire society just by being a manly man and not doing what the women say. I'm not objecting just because it's sexist. I'm also objecting because it's dumb and boring.

Not one of Tanith Lee's best. Though I do love the cover, which is 100% accurately taken from the book. A woman with an ivory bow riding a horned lion is what I read fantasy for; wish she was in a better book.

It was part of the MagicQuest series, a fantastic YA fantasy imprint which reprinted (or originally published some?) books by Patricia McKillip, Jane Yolen, Diana Wynne Jones, Peter Dickinson, Robert Westall, Paul Fisher, and Elizabeth Marie Pope. They had great covers and sometimes also great interior illustrations, and I haunted libraries and bookshops for them - all were reliably worth reading, though I liked some more than others. (I never warmed up to Peter Dickinson, and the Pied Piper book was forgettable.) Except for the Westall book, I read all its books for the first time from that imprint; it introduced me to Diana Wynne Jones and Tanith Lee.

I wish the imprint had lasted longer, but it only put out 18 books. Looking them up now, I see that I never saw or even heard of The Last Days of the Edge of the World by Brian Stableford.

Anyone else read MagicQuest? What were your favorites and least favorites?
Please comment if you've read any of these or others by the same author.

Poll #18676 Oldie Children's Books
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 38


Beginner's Luck, by Oriel Malet. Jenny is sure she'll be a famous ballerina. Victoria is sure she has no talent. James (9) writes a poem: "O venerable is our old Ancestor, to finance our first trip to the theater."

View Answers

Fling
10 (50.0%)

Marry
4 (20.0%)

Kill
6 (30.0%)

Cherry Ames, Army Nurse, by Helen Wells. An entry I haven't read in a series I loved as a kid; a young nurse helps her patients and sometimes also solves mysteries.

View Answers

Fling
12 (54.5%)

Marry
8 (36.4%)

Kill
2 (9.1%)

The Kelpie's Pearls, by Mollie Hunter. "The story of how Morag MacLeod came to be called a witch is a queer one and not at all the sort of thing you would expect to happen nowadays."

View Answers

Fling
16 (61.5%)

Marry
7 (26.9%)

Kill
3 (11.5%)

The Little White Horse, by Eleanor Goudge. When orphaned young Maria Merryweather arrives at Moonacre Manor, she feels as if she's arrived in Paradise.

View Answers

Fling
18 (62.1%)

Marry
8 (27.6%)

Kill
3 (10.3%)

The Magic Book, by Willo Davis Roberts. Apparently the only other sff novel by the author of "The Girl With the Silver Eyes," an old favorite of mine.

View Answers

Fling
14 (60.9%)

Marry
9 (39.1%)

Kill
0 (0.0%)

Otto of the Silver Hand, written and illustrated by Howard Pyle. A historical adventure by the author of fairy tales I used to love as a kid.

View Answers

Fling
10 (50.0%)

Marry
8 (40.0%)

Kill
2 (10.0%)

The Time of the Kraken, by Jay Williams. Thorgeir Redhair must go on a quest to save his people from the kraken, since they're too busy fighting another tribe to do anything useful. By the author of my old favorite, "The Hero From Otherwhere."

View Answers

Fling
12 (57.1%)

Marry
5 (23.8%)

Kill
4 (19.0%)

We Rode to the Sea, by Christine Pullein-Thompson. Horse story by an author of other horse stories I liked as a kid.

View Answers

Fling
13 (61.9%)

Marry
4 (19.0%)

Kill
4 (19.0%)

The memoir of a WWII fighter pilot who was shot down, badly burned, had his face and hands reconstructed, and then somehow managed to finagle his way back into being a pilot, where he was promptly killed in a training accident (I really hope not because he was, in fact, no longer fit to fly); this book came out three months before his death, so at least he got to see it published.

The excerpt I copied in my last post exemplifies the best parts of the book, which are the chapters on flying, pilot training, and recovery. (There's less on the culture surrounding his recovery (The Guinea Pig Club) than I'd hoped, possibly because he wasn't in the hospital anywhere near as long as many people were.) A lot of the memoir is devoted to philosophical conversations and musings which I found less interesting, chronicling how Hillary went from seeing war and life as something purely a matter of individual striving and enjoyment to also having a moral dimension, and from seeing himself as something of a detached observer to being connected with all humankind. The last chapter, in which he has an encounter with a woman he digs out of a collapsed house, brings together the perfectly observed details of the chapters on flying and fighting with larger issues.

Hillary was a sharp observer with a great prose style and an understated/dark sense of humor. He wasn't a pilot who wrote one book because he had an extraordinary experience he wanted to record, he was a writer who was also a pilot. I wonder if he'd have gone on to be a noted writer if he'd survived, or a minor writer whose books a handful of people really like. If the latter, I would very probably have been in that handful.

An unhappy Amazon reviewer remarks, "Too English," and it is indeed incredibly English in a very specific way, but I grew up reading books like that and for all the flaws inherent in that very specific (colonialist, among other things) outlook, I love the style.

A number of writers (J. R. R. Tolkien and Neil Gaiman, just off the top of my head) have imagined that artists continue their work in the afterlife, creating great libraries of books unwritten in life. It's the heaven I'd most like to have actually exist.

99 cent ebook on Amazon: The Last Enemy
From the first chapter of the memoir of a WWII fighter pilot; he has just gone down in flames, and is floating in the ocean, badly burned and alone:

There can be few more futile pastimes than yelling for help alone in the North Sea, with a solitary seagull for company, yet it gave me a certain melancholy satisfaction, for I had once written a short story in which the hero (falling from a liner) had done just this. It was rejected.

99 cent ebook on Amazon: The Last Enemy
Nonfiction about a brief but fateful encounter between a German ace fighter pilot and an American bomber crew, in mid-air; forty years later, the two pilots met up again. The book started out as a magazine article, and I bet it was a terrific one. It’s a great story and unlike many WWII stories, this one is about people’s best behavior rather than their worst.

As you may guess from the summary, the actual incident, though amazing, lasted about twenty minutes and is recounted in about ten pages. So most of the book is the story of the German fighter pilot, Franz Stigler, plus a much smaller amount about the American crew. (Stigler was not a Nazi and in fact came from an anti-Nazi family. I know that it would have been convenient for him to claim to have been secretly anti-Nazi after the fact, but given what he was witnessed to have done, I believe it.)

The book is is interesting if you have an interest in the subject matter, but doesn't really rise above that. The best parts, apart from the encounter itself, were the early sections on the culture and training of the German pilots. One detail that struck me (not just that it happened, but that Stigler actually told someone about it), which was that dogfighting was so terrifying that pilots regularly landed with wet pants. I'd heard that about the first time, but not that it wasn't just the first time. Just imagine doing that for months on end. And knowing that you're not likely to do it for years on end because the lifespan of a fighter pilot is probably not that long.

If you just want to know what happened in mid-air over Germany, in December, 1943, click on the cut. Read more... )

Does anyone have any recommendations for other books on pilots, fighters or otherwise, historical or otherwise? I've read Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and really enjoyed the combination of desperate survival narrative with odes to the joy of flight. I think I'd be more interested in memoirs by pilots than biographies about them.

A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II
A memoir by the mother of a teenage girl with anorexia, written with her daughter's consent. (Her daughter is given the pseudonym "Kitty.")

There are a number of memoirs by people with anorexia (by far the best-written is Wasted by Marya Hornbacher, which is worth reading for the prose quality alone), but fewer by their loved ones. But a child with an eating disorder affects and is affected by the whole family.

This book attracted some really angry negative reviews, many of which took very vehement exception to Brown's refusal to take the blame for her daughter's illness, and for her saying that her family became temporarily dysfunctional due to the stress of it, but was doing basically okay before and after. I have no idea whether that's true or not, since all I can go by is the book itself. But I was struck by how pissed off a subsection of readers were at a mother saying, "This wasn't my fault" and "I think my family has good relationships," and how sure they were that this couldn't possibly be the case--that if a child has a mental illness, the mother and her family must be to blame.

Brown thinks the culprit is a combination of genetic predisposition and social pressure. She leans more heavily on the former as a factor in anorexia in general than I personally would, and if her account is correct, it does sound like that played more of a part in her daughter's case than it usually does. From her perspective, anorexia descended on her daughter like the demon in The Exorcist; while Brown herself had some mild issues with eating and weight that could have also affected her daughter, they're the sort of issues that probably 90% of white American moms have, and 90% of all daughters aren't anorexic. She might be in total denial about terrible problems within the family... but she might not be. Being a "good enough" family isn't a magic shield against mental illness.

As a memoir, it's gripping and well-written, and makes a convincing case for the family-based (Maudsley) approach to treating anorexia. (That approach also has very convincing evidence behind it.) But it's the response to it that fascinates me. Like I said, maybe the reviewers are right that she's lying or in denial. Brown does sound a little defensive. But who wouldn't sound defensive if she's constantly getting blamed for the illness that nearly killed her daughter? Could any mother have told her story without being blamed?

Americans are very apt to blame the victim. In every respect. And that goes one million if they're female. Were you raped? It's your fault for going on a date/wearing that dress/trusting your uncle/not buying a state of the art home security system. Do you have anorexia? You're vain/weak-willed/selfish/not really sick. Does your child have anorexia? You're a bad mother.

Brown's unknowable truthfulness or accuracy aside, there is nothing more infuriating to a big section of America than a woman who says, "It wasn't my fault."

Brave Girl Eating: A Family's Struggle with Anorexia
Illness memoirs, like child abuse memoirs, have a number of pitfalls. They’re about depressing topics and so are hard not to depress the reader, they’re often by people who don’t write professionally and so are not well-written, and as the subject is inherently self-focused, they can very easily come across as self-absorbed. Even if they manage to avoid those problems, many are valuable works of self-help, self-revelation, community-building, comfort, and calls to action… but are not interesting to someone who mostly wants to read a good book.

This one is a good book.

Julie Rehmeyer, a mathematician and science writer, chronicles how chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalopathy (CFS/ME) crept up on her until her entire life had vanished and she was frequently completely paralyzed. While she desperately tried to find a treatment, she instead encountered an array of quacks, snake oil salesmen, nice but useless therapists, nice but useless doctors, a patients’ community full of apparent crackpots, and medical literature claiming that it was a mental illness caused by, essentially, being lazy and whiny.

In desperation, Rehmeyer finally starts listening to some of the apparent crackpots… and when she applies her scientific training to their ideas, she finds that stripped of the bizarre terminology and excessive exclamation points, they sound surprisingly plausible. With her entire life at a dead end and nothing left to lose, she reluctantly decides to try a treatment which is both radical and distinctly woo-woo sounding.

And it works.

But unlike every other “How I cured/treated my illness by some weird method” memoir, the story doesn’t end there. Instead, she not only researches and theorizes about how and why it might have worked, she interviews scientists and doctors, and even arranges to do a double-blind experiment on herself to see if it’s a real cause of her symptoms or the placebo effect. I cannot applaud this too much. (I was unsurprised to find that every article I read on her book had a comment section claiming that her results were due to the placebo effect.)

Lots of people have suggested that I write about my own horrendous illness, crowd-sourced treatment, and jaw-dropping parade of asshole doctors who told me I was lying, a hypochondriac, or crazy. While you’re waiting… read this book instead. Though it’s not the same disease and she was treated WAY better by doctors, a lot of her experience with being beaten over the head with bad science and diagnoses based purely on sexism was very similar. As is much of her righteous rage. I am way more ragey and less accepting than she is. But still. It’s similar.

Overall, this is a well-written and honest memoir that shines a welcome light on a poorly-understood illness. Rehmeyer's perspective as a science writer provides for clarity, justifiable anger, and humor as she takes apart the morass of bad science, victim-blaming, and snake oil that surrounds chronic fatigue syndrome. It's informative without being dry, easy to read and hard to put down.

Through the Shadowlands: A Science Writer's Odyssey into an Illness Science Doesn't Understand
rachelmanija: (It was a monkey!)
( Jul. 20th, 2017 03:09 pm)


Curious Alex.





Erin, waiting for it.

.

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