Reading Wednesday, 7/1/15

Jul. 1st, 2015 09:15 pm
likeadeuce: (bella)
[personal profile] likeadeuce

What are you currently reading?

The Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, on audio, which I downloaded from the library as soon as I finished The Bone Clocks on CD. Once again, I'm not sure what I'm reading at the start, and I had to google at one point to make sure my copy wasn't missing a section (it wasn't; if you've read this you know what I mean). But sure, Mr. Mitchell, tell me more. I'm still at a very early point...

Skin Game by Jim Butcher, also on audio. Also very early on. Trying this because it's one of the Hugo nominees for Best Novel. See below re: the series it belongs to.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, in a paperback I bought when the sequel came out, thinking I would need to reread it before venturing into the second book. And I was right. I liked it a lot the first time, and I like it more on rereading because the stuff that took me a long time to get a handle on the first time through (the various cultures the narrator is navigating, the relationship with language, the relationship with gender) is stuff I now understand and underneath is a ripping yarn. I'm about halfway through the reread, it should go fast.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Storm Front by Jim Butcher, the first book in the Dresden series. (Skin Game mentioned above is the 15th). I wanted to read the first book to at least get some grounding before going forward. This was rocky for a few reasons: most notably, the audiobook was obviously really cheaply, poorly produced -- which is funny because I think I first heard of this series when someone mentioned that James Marsters from Buffy was the reader and it's not really him so much as they must have blown their budget on a 'name' actor instead of things like pacing and correcting mistakes and making sure words are pronounced correctly. (He also reads Skin Game and it sounds fine, so there seems to have been a learning curve for all involved).

Re: the book -- I didn't hate it, I wasn't actively turned off by the narrator (maybe because I'd been warned he's kind of a sexist jerk and expected it to be worse.) And it's a very polished, well-plotted book. But it really struck me that (1) absolutely nothing is subtext; the first-person narrator spells out everything that happens and why, in a way that's really not necessary in a plot-driven book that has dialogue and lots of scenes -- everything seems overexplained and there's nothing for the reader to do, if that makes any sense and (2) the book handles stakes poorly; we're told early on that, for various reasons, the narrator expects that he's going to be executed by the magic police or w/e and we keep hearing this over and over again so there's no way for the stakes to escalate. And obviously, even if this weren't a 15 book series, it's very unlikely the first-person narrator/protagonist of this kind of novel is going to die at the end of the book. Plus the character doesn't have any relationships to care about (except with his cat) so between those things there is nothing that's going to happen to this character that I'm going to care about so.... I'm not saying Jim Butcher should have threatened the cat, I'm just saying that would have given me some reason to be following this dude's story. (Yes, there are women in the book who get threatened and harmed but that's a whole other set of issues.)

After I finished the book, I found out that the author wrote it for a writing course when he was 25, which SORT OF explains it not being a great book, but I generally have a lot of affection for first novels by young writers, because I expect them to be messy and raw and not very polished (Dennis Lehane also wrote A Drink Before the War for a writing class when he was in his 20s and that's busting out with excess and weirdness and multipage rants about what 25 year old Dennis Lehane thought was wrong with race relations and social inequality and gentrification in early 90s America, and that's a terrible book in places but parts of it are transcendently great). I don't know the story behind Storm Front but I'd guess a very savvy editor got their hands on it and figured out how to turn it into something that would sell -- which CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE, at least they did their editing, which does not always seem to be the case with commercial fiction that goes on to make a lot of money. (Imagine if the editor of Twilight insisted that it needed an actual plot structure.) (I personally enjoyed reading Twilight much more than I enjoyed reading Storm Front but see above re: me and weird first novels and add my overidentification with Bella Swan.) Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe Butcher was just that good at plotting out of the gate. I find the particular ways that this book doesn't work to be interesting though.

Oh, and I also finished The Bone Clocks. That sure was an ending that novel had, I tell you what.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Ancillary Sword. Or The Goblin Emperor. Or The Three Body Problem. And I should crack The Dark Between the Stars at some point, I suppose. And oh apparently my book club is reading The Goldfinch this month. . .uh, maybe I'll catch up with that in August.

Remix keeps giving,

Jun. 29th, 2015 09:29 pm
likeadeuce: (glove fetish)
[personal profile] likeadeuce

There are a lot of different motivations for writing fanfic, and one of them is certainly, "Let me put my eccentric headcanon out there in case somebody ever wants to pick it up. RELATEDLY, I once wrote an FMA ficlet about how Roy Mustang was a teenage gigolo (in a very small town kind of way), and then I forgot about it and then years went by and then Remix Madness 2015 happened. . .

And some delightful person wrote Look At You, Out to Make a Deal, which features four women Roy let buy his dinner and one (guess who?) that he spent his own money on. I love all the world-building detail, and how it's funny and a little sad and Roy why are you a human disaster? and poor patient Riza, et cetera. Love it.

If this is an author I know from around fandom, I don't immediately recognize the work, but Roy and I raise a glass to you, mystery author

Now since it's been ages since I just sat down and read a book, I'm going to try an Ancillary Justice reread on the way to reading the sequel, since I realized I'd forgotten most of the story details.

Remix is live!

Jun. 28th, 2015 08:13 pm
likeadeuce: (carrie brownstein)
[personal profile] likeadeuce

Happy to have Remix Redux back in all its glory. The archive is open here, with entries in a variety of fandoms I've just started to sample.

Some delightful anon (though I have my suspects. . .) wrote Imbalance (The Tramps Like Us Remix) for me. It's based on an X-Men Movieverse a story I wrote that was supposed to be a cute fic about Scott and Jean and Remy playing with a dreidel on Hanukkah and turned out to be about Scott feeling trapped and hopeless and Jean's powers going out of control, and Remy is just kind of . . .there because I wanted Scott to make mean jokes about his accent? Well, the remixer has taken that and switched it Remy's point of view, brought in some canon from X-Men: Origins: Wolverine, and that really opens up the story in some fascinating ways. Now I want the Remy that this author is writing to meet up with the Scott that I was writing.

Also, I wrote that story at least eight years ago, and Scott has been standing out on the back patio brooding all that time, so I'm really glad Jean finally brought him a coat. It was cathartic for all of us.

Poking around just a little bit in other fandoms so far:

Always Another One (The Robin Recruitment Remix) visits the characters of Gotham Central -- this is always the DCU of my heart -- and builds out from the "Dead Robin" arc of that series to examine the incarnations of Robin over the years.

And Magic Boxes (The What Remains Remix) is really a couple of different stories, one about Howard Stark's fears about fatherhood, and one about Peggy Carter's relation to Howard and how that moves through her interactions with Tony throughout the years. I appreciate fics that work to reconcile the different versions of Howard we see in different films, and I love what's being done here.

I wrote a thing in the main collection that I don't expect anyone to guess. I also failed to write anything for Remix Madness, but I'm excited to see that go live later tonight.

feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
[personal profile] feuervogel
The trip out to Orcas Island was arduous. I got up around 4 am to shower and get the last of my things packed and do physiotherapy before heading off to RDU for our 8:25 am flight to Atlanta. We got to the park & ride lot around 6:15, then arrived at the terminal with plenty of time to spare, considering the dearth of people lined up for security.

I slept most of the way to Atlanta, where our connecting gate was right beside our arrival gate. Yay! I rewrote my grad school statement of purpose and revised a short story on the flight to Seattle. (I also took a nap.)

We landed in Seattle at 1:25 local time, and we met up with one of the bride's friends who needed a ride to the resort. (There was a tight shuttle connection.) So we picked up the car, stopped at Taco Bell, and drove a little over 2 hours to Anacortes to get the ferry, which departed at 7:20 pm. (We waited about an hour iirc. An aunt and uncle were there, and one of the groom's childhood friends showed up, so we had a merry little party.) Then the ferry took an hour to get to the island, after which we drove to the opposite side of the horseshoe-shaped island, arriving on site around 9 pm local time. I had to drag Ben away from the people hanging out & chatting with his brother and such. We finally got to sleep around 10. That was a fucking long day.

So anyway, Doe Bay resort is nice, in a really pretty spot, and not too far from some state parks where you can do various levels of adventure walking. We had a little more time to spend at Obstruction Pass than Moran, though the view from Mt Constitution was pretty rad. We got to spend some time with one of Ben's cousins, her husband, and their (12-year-old!) daughter. And some other cousins who have no children. And aunts and uncles and friends of the happy couple and all that kind of thing.

Because of ferry timing, we couldn't stay past midday Sunday, following a brunch that lasted two hours and made me feel very hobbit-like. So we drove down to Seattle and stayed in a hotel near the airport, then had dinner with some Carolina friends who live out there now.

Our flight back east left at like 8:15 am, and various forces conspired against us getting food at anything resembling reasonable prices. The US Open was over, so the line for security was absurd, and we stood in it for the better part of an hour, so by the time we made our gate, we could pee and fill our water bottles, and that was about it. Which forced us to spend $obscene on the pay-as-you-go in-flight food. Then we had to do the same on the ground in Atlanta, because this time, our connection was 2 concourses away. Fun!

If you're in my G+ circles, you should be able to see this album.

And now I'm home until July 9, when I go off to Readercon. After that, my next travel isn't until Labor Day weekend (Dragoncon).

Dreamwidth news: 26 June 2015

Jun. 26th, 2015 05:45 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_news
Hello, Dreamwidth! Greetings from Portland, where Dreamwidth has assembled for this year's Open Source Bridge. (Which remains my favorite conference ever for how wonderfully welcoming and diverse it is.)

Behind the cut:

* A fond farewell
* HTTPS
* Email woes: mostly fixed
* Multiple sticky entries
* Rescreening screened comments when they're edited
* Other new features and tweaks
* Pretty pretty pictures

Friday 26 June 2015 )

*

That's it from us for another update! As always, if you're having problems with Dreamwidth, Support can help you; for notices of site problems and downtime, check the Twitter status page; if you've got an idea to make the site better, you can make a suggestion. (I'm still a lot behind on the suggestions queue, though, just as a warning.)

Comment notifications may be delayed for up to an hour or two, due to the high volume of notifications generated after an update is posted to [site community profile] dw_news. This was posted at 5:45PM PDT (see in your time zone). Please don't worry about delayed notifications until at least two hours after that.

Code push!

Jun. 25th, 2015 09:20 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We will be performing tonight's code push in a few minutes. There'll be a brief downtime, but not longer than a few minutes. (Ideally, that is.)

I'll update this entry when we're back, and people can report issues here.

EDIT: New code is live! Please report any issues here.

We're currently having an issue with the image proxy for accessing the site via HTTPS -- images are currently failing to load. We'll have that fixed as soon as we can.

Code push Thursday

Jun. 25th, 2015 01:48 am
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We are currently planning a code push for about 18 hours from now (the night of Thursday 25 June). We'll probably begin around 9PM Pacific time, although it might be a bit later. As always, we'll update here and our Twitter offsite status when we begin.
likeadeuce: (daenerys)
[personal profile] likeadeuce
I signed up for Remix_madness, which you can participate in even if you didn't do Remix proper. Do check that out if you have the inclination (and feel free to poke me to let me know you signed up, if we share fandoms! I don't know if I'll ever get to anything but I always like to try!

• What are you currently reading?

The Bone Clocks and. . .I found out what a bone clock is! Bone clocks are people! From the point of view of sociopathic immortals who think people are worthless because they're made out of bones and they run out of time! Or something!

I think I'm enjoying this more the less I think about it, really. I'm in the final section, which is in the environmental post-apocalypse vein, which I think is well done, but also I got shaken out of it when I stopped reading and was walking around going, "Hey it's sunny and beautiful outside! I have Internet and comics and cheese! I appreciate them way more than I did an hour ago! Which is probably not what the author was going for, but . . . look it's really good cheese.

• What did you recently finish reading?

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, which I was really liking this time last week but the final third or so kind of lost me. Well-written, just not the story I wanted to be reading, by the end. It reminded me of what I like about Tyler, though, and I should pick up some more of her backlist on audiobook, since they go well that way.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Despite being a little baffled by The Bone Clocks I'll give The Cloud Atlas a try as my next big audiobook, I think. I also downloaded Storm Front today, the first Harry Dresden novel -- I know people have strongly mixed feelings about this series, but it seemed like something I should at least try.

And once I get through my comics backlog, I need to start my Hugo reading in earnest. Ancillary Sword first, I think, though I might go back and forth with The Goblin Emperor since I have the first in print and the second on kindle.
damselfish: photo by rling (Default)
[personal profile] damselfish

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to post some pictures, but here’s my green cheek conure, Coquí!



Even before I got the bird, people asked me what I intended to name it, but I’m one of those people who believe that names reveal themselves. I was originally thinking “Uffizi” or “Chickadee” because I am of the firm opinion that a bird’s name should be fun to say.

Then the bird came home and began… croaking. Soft little frog sounds. I couldn’t call her Froggie, but then I remembered that my grandmother loves the little coquís. Even though my bird is much quieter than a coquí frog, Coquí she is!

I went through a whole host of name possibilities with my sister, and she said “those all sound like nicknames.” “I can’t name the bird Sir Birdington of Avianhamshire!” “Why not?”

I admit, she made a compelling point. My bird should be landed and properly titled.

Coquí still makes those little frog sounds, but she’s been adding more to her repertoire: a buzzing fart noise, a wide assortment of grumbles, and tiny “skree!” cries, especially when she’s getting rough. I haven’t heard a lot of the sounds I hear from green cheeks on youtube, but that may come with time. Or not, she lives in a relatively quiet house and gets the most response to her croaks (because they’re so cute). She’s still a baby, so every day is some new behavior.

Which… often causes me to wig out. I did a lot–possibly too much–research on parrots before I decided to get one, so I’m often on the lookout for behavior that needs to be nipped in the bud. “Is this aggressive, or is she playing?” is something I ask myself at least daily, because green cheeks have three settings:

1) Cuddly
2) Hungry
3) FIGHT ME

All these settings may exist simultaneously. I have learned that FIGHT ME means “play with me!” because she’s a bit of a rough and tumble bird. I learned that none of her behaviors are aggressive but she is occasionally giving me a bit of sass. I have seen advice that says never ever ever let a bird engage in any sort of aggressive behavior because it will grow up thinking it’s dominant,* but this is just the bird trying to entice me to play (according to the vet). This lesson was driven home because after a little too much strutting around the keyboard, she’d start regurgitating.

“No way, bird, you’re 3 months old, you are not trying to mate with me.” So I called the vet to find out what could possibly be happening. That could be head bobbing, maybe she’s hungry, bring her in to get weighed! I spent the day fretting that I was starving my bird, and when I went to the vet the diagnosis was in: birds are weird, and she likes me lots. Diagnosis proven because a few days later, the head bobbing resulted in successfully bringing food up from her crop.

Remember this post with the adorable baby green cheeks?

“Does my bird like me that much?” I wondered.
Coquí: *barf * I saved u dis cheerio. I earned it for being good at step ups.

Thank you, Baron Coquí. For being cute, less so for the chewed up cheerios.

*There’s a lot out there about parrots and dominance theory, which seems to be mostly bullshit.

**For those interested in a few more pictures, I have them on the tumblr post here.

(no subject)

Jun. 23rd, 2015 08:07 pm
likeadeuce: (carrie brownstein)
[personal profile] likeadeuce
My June journaling resolution has gone from 'every day' to 'more often than usual,' so. . .

This past weekend was lovely -- visited my parents on Saturday, since I hadn't seen them for a while. It was freaking hot and we went to the swimming pool until it thundered (though it never rained), then met my youngest brother & his wife for dinner, at which Amanda got to hear my mom's story about the time she hitchhiked from Maine to South Carolina with a friend and their two cats (first time I heard this story there were no cats; then one cat; this was the first time I heard about the second cat. Every time she tells this story it grows a cat!) I think this happened when she was 19 or 20, the year before she met my super-sensible dad, which tells you a lot.

On Sunday, we had a leisurely Father's Day breakfast, and I gave Dad the 4 album/2 CD Gram Parsons Anthology that I found in a used CD rack for $8, which he was excited about, and which my mom went from identifying as 'a box set of all the Elvis movies' (Gram is kind of dressed/posed like Elvis in some of the photos but it was the size of 2 CD cases also I didn't know Dad wanted all the Elvis movies???) and asked if Gram Parsons was the guy from Crosby, Stills & Nash (this is funny not because of country rock hipsterism but because the guy she's thinking of is named Graham NASH, and also because we've had this conversation before). It then transpired that they no longer have a working CD player or a computer with a CD drive, so we got to play 'find a working flash drive so I can upload the songs I already ripped to MY PC, will see if they ever get to Dad's ipod.) Technology, destroyer and preserver.

After that, they went to church and I drove up to Silver Spring to meet some Maryland folks for dinner, and [personal profile] alpheratz and I went to a concert to see 1. Annie Girl and the Flight (great band, name I cannot retain under any circumstances so I keep googling 'Annie band' to try and refresh myself; they were new to me and I checked out their EP, Bodies, which I recommend if you like ladies-whut-rock -- though their in concert sound was more straight hard rock while the EP sounds more 'surfy girl band', and I'm not sure if that was a function of the touring ensemble, the production, venue, or what -- but I liked both versions a lot

2. Frank Iero & the Sellabrations (sp?), which is Frank from My Chemical Romance's band; my only background with MCR is the Danger Days album and this is very different, but it was a fun show -- [personal profile] alpheratz says Frank has gotten much more comfortable being a front man, and I thought he put on a good show (though I was distracted/concerned on his behalf that he was wearing a cardigan the whole time despite sweating profusely; also the cardigan had 'tragician' written on it, which I don't think is a word, but you do you, Frank Iero. Not sure I'd fire this music up on my own, but it was very fun live, as was watching [personal profile] alpheratz's display of heart-eyes.

3. Against Me! which was the reason I bought the tickets in the first place, before I realized that there would be two openers and I would not be able to take the day after off of work (scheduled meetings, bah). So we ran out of there out of there after about 3 songs, both agreeing we'd like to see a full set some time when it wasn't a school night. (I saw them open for Gaslight Anthem at the 9:30 club last year but haven't seen a full show.)

They're a fun band to watch, anyway, because they've been embraced by the queer/trans* community since the lead singer came out last year, but they seem to have held on to a lot of (what I affectionately call) their anarchy-bro fanbase. So they opened with "I Was a Teenage Anarchist" (see below) and then went straight into what I guess were older songs (they sounded like a different style) and the anarchy-bros all streamed to front and center, and it was going to get pretty mosh-pit-y if we had stayed around much longer.


So that was all very fun, but then I had to drive back to Virginia, which took even longer than I expected it to, because of overnight construction on 95 -- even when I rerouted for about 20 miles, it was still going on when I got back to the freeway. But it was cool, I was resigned to getting back too late and I listened to a lot of The Bone Clocks (I found out what a bone clock is! I'll tell you tomorrow!)

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anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (Default)
Lauren K. Moody

Positive Obsession

There is hope in error, but none at all in perfection.
--Ursula K. Le Guin

The universe is made up of stories, not atoms.
--Muriel Rukeyser

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

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