tavella: (Default)
musesfool: close up of the Chrysler Building (home)
[personal profile] musesfool
This morning I signed and initialed four copies of a contract, wrote a deposit check, and shoved it all into a FedEx envelope so it can arrive at the seller's attorney's office tomorrow morning. Keep your fingers crossed that it goes better this time than it did the last.

L keeps saying she has a good feeling about this, but I had a good feeling about the other one right up until I didn't, so I am not doing any premature celebrating at this point. I mean, I think last time everything went so smoothly and I was basically carried along feeling incredulous and lucky and we saw how that worked out so. Back to cautious optimism and trying to manage expectations. And looking at potential furniture and paint colors, of course.

Gosh, the carpeting is so bad. I mean, first of all, I don't like carpeting but secondly, why white shag? why brown? These are not appealing (to me, and given that the apartment was still available when I got to it, to a lot of other people). If you are trying to sell your apartment, maybe make better aesthetic choices! Don't even get me started on the number of really terrible photos I've seen. I realize that taking pictures is a skill, so if you don't have it, find someone who does to take your pictures and then - protip! - upload them in the right orientation. I closed out of so many potential listings because the photos were a. terrible and b. rotated 90° counterclockwise, making them impossible to parse without a lot of neck craning. Don't do that!

I mean, re: the ugly carpeting: I'll have money left to rip it up and sand/polish/seal the wood floors beneath, but I've seen apartments in the same neighborhood and price range that already had that done, and they look so much nicer. *hands*

Anyway, now the seller just has to sign and we can officially be "in contract" and move on to the next step in the process.


I'm so sleepy. I want to go home. All day I've thought it was Wednesday and that I would be off work for 6 days (I'm taking Thurs/Fri/Mon/Tues off), but no, it's only Tuesday. Stupid Tuesday. Always the worst.


Fig and Ibid

Aug. 22nd, 2017 02:40 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Are surrounded by cats used to other cats and thus not necessarily alarmed to see new ones. Ibid is content to sniff noses with the bolder of his new housemates, whereas I think Fig is affronted by their lack of timidity.

I still have not seen the orange kitten I was warned could be an issue. It's afraid of people but likes to tussle with older cats. I expect Ibid will like this and Fig will not.


Aug. 22nd, 2017 06:38 pm
selenak: (Rachel by Naginis)
[personal profile] selenak

Gone for Soldiers: Claire and Jessica at a certain memorial service post show. In which two backstories the series left out are addressed. Excellent Claire and Jessica voices.

Above, but undermined: neat missing scene between Matt and Jessica.

Orphan Black:

The sun that's setting in the east: what Rachel did next.

Tatiana Maslany about Orphan Black interview: in which she looks back on the show, sees P.T. Westmoreland as the perfect analogue for a current head of state (hint: mediocre man in his early 70s with his power based on lies, obsessed with himself, no regard for anything not him) and thus a good final villain, and reveals which Clone was the most fun for her to play.
[syndicated profile] calvinpitt_feed

Posted by CalvinPitt

I've stated in the past I'm not a fan of the movie version of 2001. It moves entirely too slowly for me. I hadn't read the book since 2004, but I had fonder memories of it, so I figured it was due for a revisit (along with the subsequent novels, which I'll get to probably in the next month or so).

As it turns out, my belief I could read the book in less time than it takes to watch the movie was not quite correct; it took me 4 hours, although I was also recovering from my morning run, so there were periodic pauses to stretch or grab more drinks. I definitely got through the sequence in the white "hotel room" faster than the movie, though.

Mysterious monolith experiments on primitive man-apes, millions of years later, humanity discovers a similar monolith buried on the Moon. Once unearthed, and exposed to the Sun, it sends of a huge burst of radio waves in the direction of Saturn. A ship is sent out there, with two of the crewman, Dave Bowman and Frank Poole, awake while the other three hibernate. The ship's computer, HAL 9000, goes nuts and tries to kill everyone, forcing Dave to shut it down. Dave travels through the monolith he finds out there and is ultimately transformed into a Star Child.

The film always seems to be memorable for the beginning, with the apes figuring out tools in the shadow of the monolith, and for the struggle against HAL out in space. The part on the Moon was actually fairly interesting to me, though I'd forgotten most of it. The idea of international cooperation in building Moon bases, and yet the world is stated to be on the brink of famine in 15 years. That 38 nations have nuclear weapons, and China is selling off some of theirs for the low price of $2 million bucks. The things Clarke predicted would be the problems in the future.

There's also a random comment that the spaceship's extravehicular pods were named after women, because their personalities were unpredictable. Ha ha, dames, so flighty and temperamental, amirite, fellas? Of course, it's the computer, with a guy's name, that actually goes out of control. 

I also didn't remember that the reason HAL goes on a murder spree is because firstly, he's cracking under the strain of programming that tells him to be truthful with the crew, while other programming tells him to conceal the true reason for the mission from Dave and Frank (who know nothing of the monoliths). And that, when he begins to malfunction, Dave says he may have to turn HAL off, which HAL equates with Death, rather than sleep. An absolute end, rather than an interlude. Unintended consequences of humans' attempts to create artificial intelligence, not really putting the appropriate forethought into things.

I wonder if it's meant as a contrast to the beings behind the monoliths. They conducted these experiments, then left Earth and continued on to the next world. And even as they evolved far beyond what they were at the time, they still waited to see how the experiments turned out. When the monolith on the Moon is unearthed, the protocols are still in place. And when Dave reaches Iapetus* , and passes through the Gate, they're ready for him. They haven't forgotten or become bored. The question is whether the metamorphosis they put Dave through is going to have consequences they can't perceive, and I don't remember how the next three books turn out well enough to know.

I haven't always liked the payoff in Clarke's books, but I enjoy his writing. He's matter-of-fact when need be, but can be poignant or poetic as necessary. I don't know about funny, it doesn't really come up here, but there's some excellent descriptive work on the different settings, or the physics behind some of what's going on.

'Yet there was no violation of the laws of mechanics; Nature always balances her books, and Jupiter had lost exactly as much momentum as Discovery had gained. The planet had been slowed down - but as its mass was a sextillion times greater than the ship's the change in its orbit was far too small to be detectable. The time had not yet come when Man could leave his mark upon the Solar System.'

* I like that Clarke incorporated the mystery of Iapetus' starkly different sides, like it's another test the creatures set up.

Three sentences about 2017-08-21

Aug. 22nd, 2017 08:30 am
irilyth: (Default)
[personal profile] irilyth
Happy Great American Eclipse Day! I remember being very excited as a kid about the 1979 one, when I must've been a third-grader in Houston, but it seems to have been only like 50% coverage there; still. Made some progress at work on Omni stuff, some flailing, too many things, need to close some out and focus on the important stuff. I'm also on call this week, which doesn't help. The IT team had an eclipse-watching party on the roof of the parking garage, and had gotten glasses for everyone, so I got to see that. It didn't get noticeably darker or cooler -- I mean, maybe more so than it was, but there was also partial cloud cover, and it wasn't any darker or cooler than on a typical cloudy day. Still, it was neat, and I like the pictures other folks have been posting from places with more coverage. Shopped at TJ's on the way home, made yellow curry chicken for dinner, failed to play Forbidden Island due to Quentin being obstreperous and uncooperative. :^( Settled down for bedtime, and we'll try again another time.

Approximately weekly diet report )

[PHOTO] Field of dreams, Christie Pit

Aug. 22nd, 2017 03:05 am
rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Field of dreams #toronto #christiepit #seatonvillage #night #lights #baseball

I love the glow of the powerful lights illuminating Christie Pit's baseball field for night games.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:53 pm
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Anthrodendum's Alex Golub talks about anthropologists of the 20th century who resisted fascism.

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes a study suggesting the TRAPPIST-1 system might be substantially older than our own solar system.

  • Centauri Dreams considers tidal locking as a factor relevant to Earth-like planetary environments.

  • The Crux shows efforts to help the piping plover in its home on the dunes of the Great Lakes coast of Pennsylvania.

  • Dead Things considers the evidence for the presence of modern humans in Sumatra 73 thousand years ago.

  • Bruce Dorminey makes the case for placing a lunar base not on the poles, but rather in the material-rich nearside highlands.

  • Far Outliers shares some evocative placenames from Japan, like Togakushi (‘door-hiding’) from ninja training spaces.

  • Language Hat notes the exceptionally stylistically uneven Spanish translation of the Harry Potter series.

  • Language Log thinks, among other things, modern technologies make language learning easier than ever before.

  • The LRB Blog notes how claims to trace modern Greece directly to the Mycenaean era are used to justify ultranationalism.

  • Marginal Revolution considers which countries are surrounded by enemies. (India rates poorly by this metric.)

  • The Numerati's Stephen Baker considers how Confederate statues are products of recycling, like so much in our lives.

  • The NYR Daily considers the unique importance of Thomas Jefferson, a man at once statesman and slaver.

  • The Planetary Society Blog celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2 Sunday.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, for a country fighting a drug war, Mexico spends astonishingly little on its police force.

  • Drew Rowsome takes a look at classic John Wayne Western, The Train Robbers.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel considers the critical role of NASA's Planetary Protection Officer.

  • Strange Company notes the many legends surrounding the early 19th century US' Theodosia Burr.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy hosts Ilya Somin' argument against world government, as something limiting of freedom. Thoughts?

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Ukrainians are turning from Russia, becoming more foreign to their one-time partner.

(no subject)

Aug. 21st, 2017 09:57 pm
skygiants: storybook page of a duck wearing a pendant, from Princess Tutu; text 'mukashi mukashi' (mukashi mukashi)
[personal profile] skygiants
A couple months ago I was talking with my roommate about the new Anne of Green Gables TV series (I have not seen it, she had opinions about it) which led to us reminiscing about Other L.M. Montgomery Books We Had Known, which led to me last weekend rereading The Story Girl and The Golden Road.

I was actually much more attached to these books than I ever was to Anne -- they're about an extended group of cousins who have very wholesome adventures together. The cousins include:

Beverly, Our Narrator, most notable for his mildly purple narration and deeply sentimental soul
Felix, his little brother, who is Fat and Sensitive About It
Felicity, who is Very Beautiful and Very Prosaic and also Extremely Bossy, like Lucy from Peanuts if she also looked like Elizabeth Taylor
Cecily, who is Very Good and Very Serious and probably also Doomed to Die Young Like Good Children Do
Dan, Felicity and Cecily's brother, who is an Annoying Brother
Sara Ray, who lives down the road and cries all the time
Peter, who is But a Hired Boy but Clever and Talented and also In Love With Felicity
and, of course, Sara Stanley the Story Girl, who is not pretty but interesting, and has a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and is prone to stopping in the middle of any given conversation to announce that she knows a story that has some vague relation to the topic at hand and will then proceed to relate that story come hell or high water, which: oh god, of course I imprinted on these books as a kid, because I of course do the exact same thing, except without any vestige of a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and also instead of 'I know a tragic story about our uncle's great-aunt's wedding' my version is usually 'I read a book once in which somebody banged a griffin.' But, much like the Story Girl, once I get started on an anecdote of this kind there is very little chance of stopping me. I apologize to anybody who has suffered from this.

ANYWAY. Fortunately, the other kids (with the occasional exception of Felicity) never get fed up with the Story Girl and are always glad to hear an entertaining anecdote about the minister's cousin's grandmother or whatever the topic of discussion is that day.

The kids also get into normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff, like pretending to be ministers, or freaking out because the local old-lady-who-might-be-a-witch sat in their pew at church, or panicking that it might be the Day of Judgment. Normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff centers very prominently on appropriate church behavior, as it turns out. L.M. Montgomery's world is composed of Methodists and Lutherans and that's about it. I don't remember this being weird for me as an emphatically-not-Christian youth but it is slightly retroactively weird for me now.

Other notable things that happen in The Story Girl and The Golden Road:
- Dan eats poison berries because Felicity tells him he would be an idiot to eat the poison berries, nearly dies, then goes back and eats more poison berries because Felicity made the mistake of saying she told him so
- Cecily the Very Sweet and Very Good is mean to exactly one person in both books, a boy in her class who conceives a terrible crush on her and will not leave her alone despite multiple stated requests until she publicly humiliates him in class, which she ruthlessly does; a good lesson
- The Story Girl gives a great and instantly recognizable description of synesthesia without ever actually using the word
- The Story Girl befriends a desperately shy neighbor who is known as the Awkward Man, "because he is so awkward," our narrator Bev helpfully explains
- the Awkward Man is later revealed to have a secret room in his house containing women's clothing, which, the Story Girl explains, is because he's spent years buying things for an imaginary girlfriend - and, I mean, far be it from me to question the Story Girl! but some grad student could probably get a real good paper on gender and sexuality in turn-of-the-century children's lit out of this is all I'm saying

Happy Eclipse Day!

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:35 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

We didn’t make it down to see totality, but my part of Michigan got about 80% eclipse coverage today, which was still pretty sweet. My son and I went to a library presentation this morning, where I was reminded about pinhole viewing, which led to this:

Pinhole Eclipse Projection

I’d ordered a solar filter for the 100-400mm lens on the camera. We also had some eclipse glasses from Amazon from a few weeks back.

I took a little over a hundred pictures, and was able to stitch some of the best into an animation.

Solar Eclipse Animation

Those black spots are sunspots. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out!

I also stitched together a static time-lapse, and added back a bit of color the filter stripped out. (Click to enlarge this one for a much better view.)

Eclipse - Time Lapse

Didn’t get much else done today, but I’m okay with that. And maybe for the 2024, we’ll be able to make it down to see the total eclipse!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • I really liked this Kerry Gold article in the Globe and Mail showing how the young, priced out of Vancouver, simply went on to remake Port Moody.

  • In the Toronto Star, Edward Keenan describes how the West End Phoenix, a new model of newspaper, is set to develop.

  • Also in the Star, Scott Wheeler describes how Torontonian John Vyga ended up helping take the Berlin Wall down in 1989.

  • Steve Munro takes a look at what the metrics for TTC station cleanliness actually mean. We're doing better than we think.

  • Shawn Micallef wonders why so few Torontonians make a habit of swimming in Lake Ontario.

rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
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... )
rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
The views offered of Charlottetown Harbour from Beaconsfield's fourth-floor cupola are noteworthy.

From the top of Beaconsfield (1)

From the top of Beaconsfield (2)

From the top of Beaconsfield (3)

From the top of Beaconsfield (4)
rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
I went outside about twenty minutes before the solar eclipse reached its local maximum in Toronto. Even before the midday twilight hit, the quality of light and colour in the sky had shifted subtly, were off, like yet not like a late evening.

Dusky eclipse sky

Eclipse sky above condos

Sun glimpsed through glasses
musesfool: Batman + A BABY driving a BUS (just like driving a really big pinto)
[personal profile] musesfool
You know, if I had known that viewing the eclipse via the selfie camera was okay, I might have done that rather than watched it via the NASA livestream on youtube, but I only just found that out. Boss3 got a cool picture that way.

Anyway, we had it set up on a screen here in the conference room, so people could wander in and out, rather than having 400 people trying to stream it individually. I was outside in the beginning of it, but it didn't seem to be getting darker or anything (we didn't get the totality here), and I had no glasses or pinhole viewer, so I just came back inside and ate my bagel.

The only real downside is that I have had "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in my head for at least a week. Even listening it to a few times hasn't cured the damn earworm. That video remains super creepy.

In other news, last night, I finally watched Lego Batman, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I'm always a sucker for Bruce learning to be a good Batdad to his Batkid(s). The one thing I didn't care for was the Bruce/Babs insinuations, but at least she didn't seem into it, so that was fine. (Also, yay for Rosario Dawson, bridging that MCU/DCU divide!)

gwyn: (ordinary day _silent_rage_)
[personal profile] gwyn
Perfect morning: Iced tea, bowl of cereal, cat, back deck lounge chair, nearly total eclipse of the sun. We had 92% totality in Seattle, and I could just sit on my lounger and watch. It was amazing. I guess a lot of people in my area got fog, but it was clear as a bell at my house.

I'd been so focused on the cancer stuff that I missed the opportunity to get glasses--the last time we had an eclipse visible here, there was no such thing as fancy glasses, and when they started posting about places you could get them it was too late to do mail order (also they were fakes) for me, and people on our local blog were driving around and calling, desperately trying to track more down. I wasted a lot of time, and mentioned it on the thread--that I'd been so busy with my health I hadn't thought about the eclipse at all and was bummed I couldn't get the glasses (I've done pinhole viewers, but…they're not as cool).

A really nice guy told me he had some spares, and his wife, who works at the Y where I'm a member, brought them with her and I picked them up last week. I'm so grateful to them, so grateful. It was amazing to be able to watch through the glasses. I stayed till every last piece of the moon was gone. Even with sunscreen I'm sure I'll be burned. It was totally worth it.

I've seen two other solar eclipses, but was too young for the first one to really appreciate it, and like I said, the pinhole boxes don't have the same view. I feel like if I croak in surgery next week or afterwards, I'm good. Got to see a big one, and it was wonderful.

I can see why ancient people were spooked by these: the shadows got really long, the sky was dimmer while at the same time the sun was pouring down, the temperature dropped by a few degrees. Blues was definitely confused--he could tell something was going on, and he ended up under the bed for a while. It was eerily silent, too, at totality. This is garbage day in my area, there is always construction going on around here in summer, there are usually people walking dogs and cars driving by. At peak time, it was utterly silent: no noisy, smelly trucks, no people walking, no construction noise. Everyone was watching the eclipse.

Eclipse 2017

Aug. 21st, 2017 11:09 am
cmdr_zoom: (zoom)
[personal profile] cmdr_zoom
That was pretty neat.
I found someone who was giving out extra pairs of eclipse glasses, so I got to make direct observations and also take a few clumsy camera shots.

My town wasn't quite in the totality path, but we did get something like 99% coverage; the sky dimmed enough to trip automatic lights, and one could actually (very briefly) look at the sun with the naked eye. (Yes, I know. File along with the proper use of Q-tips.)
The crescent sliver migrated from the lower left quadrant to the lower right, then upper right, before starting to grow again. Back to normal now.

One of the coolest things besides the eclipse itself was how everything pretty much stopped. The streets emptied of cars and the sidewalks filled up with people peering up through paper glasses.
[syndicated profile] calvinpitt_feed

Posted by CalvinPitt

As we await today's scheduled extinguishing of the Sun, and presumably all life on Earth (about time!), I'm going to resume looking back at ongoing series I dropped, and how much money I wasted by not dropping them sooner. Which makes it sound much more like an exercise in self-flagellation than I intended. We're up to 2007 now, so we haven't yet reached that point where it was more common for the titles to get canceled than dropped.

Ultimate X-Men: I started buying this around issue 5, I think. It was when I got back into comics, and I grabbed most of the issues the store had on the shelf, so it's hard to say which was the most recent. I bought it through the Millar/Kubert initial run, Bendis' time writing the book, the Brian K. Vaughn run, which I remember enjoying although I didn't keep any of it, and finally dropped the book at #79 during the Robert Kirkman/Ben Oliver run. I had been a little disenchanted with the story Kirkman did where Nightcrawler abducted Dazzler from the hospital and kept her hidden in a spot underground to try and make her his girlfriend. Then he brought in Ultimate Cable, who was Wolverine, but older and missing an arm. Which is simpler than actual Cable's origin, I guess.

I could have done without Millar and Bendis' runs on the title. I can't even remember most of it. Magneto trying to cripple Quicksilver, Sexual Predator Wolverine, Cyclops being dropped off a cliff (that was funny). Vaughn's is the only one I have many fond memories of, aside from a two-parter Chuck Austen wrote about Gambit, of all things. Like mixing vomit and goose shit and somehow getting a delicious frosty chocolate milkshake. Anyway, even with Vaughn, I could have dropped off before the last story, Magnetic North, which seemed mostly about how the Ultimates are reactionary assholes and the X-Men are hotheaded kids. Which was already the point of every interaction those groups had. Well, every Ultimates story was about them being assholes, but that's beside the point.

If we assume I would not have started buying the book at Vaughn's run if I wasn't already buying it - a sound assumption - #60 would have been the last issue.

How many issues too many? 19

Exiles: Exiles was one of the first books I started buying after this blog began (I had started picking up X-Factor just prior to starting it). I started getting it because, it had Longshot and Spider-Man 2099 in it? Or I was disillusioned by Bendis' work on New Avengers and wanted a more interesting team book. Something like that. It was in the middle of an exceedingly long and ultimately overly drawn out story about chasing Proteus through realities. Though that may have been due to Chris Claremont's scheduled taking over of writing duties from Tony Bedard being delayed by health issues.

Once Claremont did take over, at #90, he immediately moved Psylocke onto the team, and then brought Slaymaster into the mix, and it was time to go. #94 marked the endpoint. All that said, I don't regret giving Claremont a shot. The man has written team books I liked, and there was something to be said for pairing Psylocke with a version of Sabretooth and seeing it play out, since one had killed her previously. Plus, I like Paul Pelletier's artwork.

How many issues too many? If we're being extremely uncharitable, 5. But I'm going with 0. Giving him one story to show me something wasn't unreasonable.

Shadowpact: By the time I picked this up, I'd dropped every other DC title I had going. But the concept had sounded intriguing, and issue 8 was focused on Ragman and seemed interesting. That didn't last long. I couldn't really get into Willingham's writing style, and Tom Derenick's art always feels a little off. Everyone's anatomy is a little too exaggerated to the point they start to look misshapen. I dropped it by issue 16, probably could have done so after 11 or 12, the fight with Etrigan was somewhat cool.

How many issues too many? 4.

Amazing Spider-Man: I resumed buying Amazing Spider-Man in the last few months of Howard Mackie's run on the book. They had started the numbering over a couple of years previous, trying to shake off the stink of the Clone Saga still, I guess, so it was around #25. A while later, they kept that numbering, but would show the combined number in a lighter color ink next to it. So by that system, it was #467. Right around the conclusion of a plot by Norman Osborn to make Peter his heir involving drugged toothpaste.

Straczynski took over as writer within the next six months, and he and Romita Jr. made a pretty good team for a couple of years. Eventually Romita left and Mike Deodato took over as artist, and things which had already started downhill slightly earlier, picked up speed. There were a couple of stories in there I enjoyed - a decent one featuring the New Avengers that was better than anything Bendis managed with the roster he put together - but there was a knock-off Molten Man character, then The Other, and then we were into Civil War tie-ins and the Back in Black story. By the time it was wrapping up, we knew enough about One More Day that I knew it was going to piss me off, and why pay for the privilege? So I bailed after #542, the issue where Peter whups the Kingpin.

Best case, I should have bailed after that New Avengers story, so around #520, 522. Worst case, I should have left after the two-issue Loki team-up, which ended in 504. Either way, outside of a four month stretch in early 2010, I haven't bought Amazing Spider-Man regularly since.

How many issues too many? 22 minimum, 38 maximum. Ouch, so much for progress.

Batman and the Outsiders: For some reason, this book went through three creative teams in the first three issues, and the cast shifted at least 50% until Chuck Dixon came on the book. Me, I was just there in the hopes of getting a well-written Cassandra Cain for the first time in two years. And we did, and it was good, and I also enjoyed Julian Lopez' art.

Then Chuck Dixon left the book because he was having to make changes to his scripts at the last minute because editorial was making all the Bat-books do Batman R.I.P. tie-ins, and Morrison was holding his scripts back until the very last second so editorial couldn't mess with them (or so the legend goes). I recall a lot of yelling on the Internet between the forces that were for and against Morrison at the time. Maybe that's always going on. I was just annoyed Dixon was off the book, and replaced by Frank Tieri, and that it was Batman R.I.P. tie-ins, and that once those were done, Cass was being shuffled off the team by whoever was taking over the book next (Keith Champagne?). I left the book at #14, holding out for good Cass moments to the bitter end. I should have jumped ship when Dixon did.

How many issues too many? 4. Sometimes circumstances make it very easy.

Ms. Marvel: The Carol Danvers version, not Kamala Khan. Marvel tried to give Carol a push coming out of House of M, since she was the world's best super-hero in that universe, and she wanted to live up to that. Then they put Carol on Tony's side during Civil War, which sure as hell wasn't going to win her many points. She was written woefully inconsistently, being the hardass one minute, but then refusing to own up to her actions the next. Impending Secret Invasion tie-ins were the straw that broke the camel's back, and I jumped off at #24.

When should I have bailed? Probably post-Civil War, her choices in that storyarc poisoned the well for me. But then I'd miss out on the addition of Nextwave-flavor Machine Man to the cast. The only issue I still have is #20, when he dons a big fake mustache as part of an undercover recon mission.

How many issues too many? At minimum, 4. At maximum, 16.

Ultimate Spider-Man: Like Ultimate X-Men, I started buying this when I got back into comics, and grabbed all available issues. But I'm sure they were still somewhere in the origin story, so maybe #5 here as well? I bought the book up through #122, when a combination of factors made me drop it. Impending Ultimatum tie-ins. Tie-ins to the Ultimate Spider-Man video game, which had annoyed me and never been finished. The return of Ultimate Venom. Growing dissatisfaction with Bendis' multi-issue stories. And I hadn't entirely adjusted to Stuart Immonen's artwork, though that by itself wouldn't have driven me off the book.

When should I have dropped it? I don't know. I actually liked the two done-in-one stories that I bought right before dropping it. I liked the Ultimate Knights arc that concluded Bagley's run on the title, so I'd need to go to 111. The Green Goblin story that kicked off Immonen's run was horribly paced, even by Bendis' standards. At times I think dropping it when he introduced Ultimate Carnage would have been the smart play. I kept a lot fewer issues after than story than before (about 16 out of 60).

How many issues too many? At least 11.

X-Factor: Started buying it when it came out, dropped it after #32. More accurately, I picked up #33, thumbed through it, had an eyeball explode at seeing Larry Stroman's art, and dropped the book. To be fair, I'd been considering it for awhile. #33 was simultaneously a crossover with She-Hulk (which Peter David was writing), and a Secret Invasion tie-in. The book had lost both Rahne and Layla Miller to Messiah CompleX-related nonsense, and even before that, had seemed to lose momentum after a strong first year.

Still, I enjoyed the issues about Jamie trying to track down his various duplicates so he'd feel more whole, so I'd want to go to at least #16. There was an appearance by Arcade right before I dropped the book, but I felt pretty blah about it, which is a bad sign, when Arcade can't get me excited.

How many issues too many? 16.

The Punisher: OK, last one for today. This was the MAX version of the title. I had started reading Ennis' Punisher work sometime during the initial "Welcome Back, Frank" mini-series, and stayed with the title when it became a Marvel Knights ongoing (which was a mistake overall), and on into the MAX run of the book.When Ennis wrapped up in #60, I considered dropping the book, but figured I would give Gregg Hurwitz a shot. Three issues later I reconsidered and dropped the book.

I'm sure Hurwitz is a fine writer, but I didn't know him from a hole in the ground. So that bit I wrote in the Exiles' section, about Claremont having earned a test story? Doesn't apply here. Should have dropped the book at #60. I've read all the Punisher comics I ever need to.

How many issues too many? 3.

Well that's a lot better than the last time. There are actually multiple titles I stayed with for less than a year longer than I should have. Amazing Spider-Man is the most egregious, and hey, it's Spider-Man, that connection was hard to break. But credit to Marvel, they persevered in their attempt to break it, and eventually succeeded. Good work guys! Sure saved me a lot of money over the last decade, and not just because it meant I wasn't buying the Amazing when it was triple-shipping every month. If I could just walk away from Spider-Man, then there was no character I couldn't draw a line under and say, "Enough".

There are still other titles that got dropped after the end of 2008, but like I said, most of them get canceled instead. The beginning of the New 52 being an example as well. That took at least three books I was buying out in one swoop. So I may return to this again, or maybe not.

That Whedon Thing

Aug. 21st, 2017 09:24 am
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
I gave up on Joss Whedon, Male Feminist Icon, after the first episode of DOLLHOUSE.   I was creeped out by FIREFLY's Madonna/whore thing, but somehow I reasoned around it.   The revelation that he's been using that reputation to predate on women is horrible, but not a shock.

When I read Kai Cole's statement -- do read if you have somehow missed it -- I kept flashing on the pivotal conversation in Gaudy Night, in which Harriet and Peter talk about spouses who have eaten each other, and whether there is such a thing as a marriage in which nobody is eaten.  Kai Cole was and is an architect.  Starting, by her telling, with Buffy, she dedicated hersef to  emotional labor for Joss Whedon, including producing projects that he worked on.  Harriet Vane would tell you that Whedon ate Cole.  And, going only by the direct quotations Cole gives, when Whedon confessed to her, he praised himself -- told her what a powerful stud he was, and that it wasn't his fault he was surrounded by "aggressive" actresses.

Whedon's public response to Cole's statement:

“While this account includes inaccuracies and misrepresentations which can be harmful to their family, Joss is not commenting, out of concern for his children and out of respect for his ex-wife.”

Let's unpack this.  

1.  Whedon cheated for over a decade, but Cole is the one who's hurting their children.
2.  Whedon used feminism as a tool to get laid, but now he's showing Cole respect.
3.  Cole has direct quotes from Whedon's letter, showing exactly who he is, but the account "includes inaccuracies and misrepresentations"

So.  "You're a bad mother, and I could explain how much you're lying, but I won't because unlike you I'm a good father and respect the children and you."

Whedonesque, bless them, have gone read-only and shut down.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
In the beautiful late afternoon of Wednesday the 16th, I went to Allan Gardens to take a look around. The greenhouse is lovely, but so too is the surrounding park, all bright and warm in the heat of a summer that has finally gotten here.

All the photos I took that afternoon are neatly organized in albums on Facebook and Flickr

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

#toronto #allangardens #green #parks #greenhouse

(no subject)

Aug. 21st, 2017 08:53 am
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
So the other night I was reading in bed and, out of the corner of my eye, kept glimpsing a bald man lying down next to Sora...

cut for photographic proof )

the color of no-you-didn't

Aug. 20th, 2017 10:31 pm
cmdr_zoom: (oops)
[personal profile] cmdr_zoom
Blue-deck play, in most games:

"I tap two red and play..."
"... Okay, I draw..."
"Uh uh."
"What about...?"
"Fine, I'll just--"
"Not happening."
"... can I forfeit?"
"You can try."

Once again, faithful to the source

Aug. 20th, 2017 07:56 pm
cmdr_zoom: (zoom)
[personal profile] cmdr_zoom
re the new Marvel show on Netflix (The Defenders):

"I mean, of the 4, only one of them is not completely fucked up."

And that's how you know it's based on the Marvel Universe.

Three sentences about 2017-08-20

Aug. 20th, 2017 10:38 pm
irilyth: (Default)
[personal profile] irilyth
Connecticut road trip! Ed is in a production of The 39 Steps, so we headed down to Hartford for the day to see it -- including the kids, as we'd concluded (after discussing it with Fran & Ed) that they might enjoy it and probably wouldn't be scarred by it and probably wouldn't be disruptive to anyone else. :^) First, though, we met F&E&B&M at the New York Pickle Deli for brunch, which turned out to be more like breakfast since they weren't serving lunch type food at 10:00, but whatever, it was fine. :^) I had "stuffed french toast", which turned out to mean two slices of french toast with a bunch of sweet cream between them and apple pie filling on top. It was decadent and a ton of sugar and super delicious. :^) Others seemed to enjoy their things too; we also had the amusing experience of our party of eight getting seated at two tables for four, thus leading to a kids table and a grownups table. After that, we headed over to our other planned entertainment destination for the trip, Dinosaur State Park, where there's a museum type place where you can view a bunch of fossilized dinosaur tracks that were found in the area in the 1960s (if I remember correctly), and brought B and M along too. It was cool, the kids had fun (Q really likes B, and she seems to like him all right too), and it was a generally good time except for a bit at the end where we hiked around the grounds a bit (they have a network of nature trails too), and Q was being too rambunctious and running off the path (at one point into what looked distinctly like poison ivy) and being super uncooperative, to the point where I ended up having to carry him halfway back while he complained. :^( I don't like resorting to physically chucking him over my shoulder, but I wasn't sure what else to do, sigh. Anyway, our relationship had recovered enough between that and the play (where we headed next, and Fran retrieved B & M, having previously dropped Ed off) that we sat happily together, often side by side and a fair bit at the end with him on my lap. :^) He was super good, laughing a little more loudly than most of the crowd, but at appropriate times, and not being disruptive or problematic at all, which was great. He was a little tired and ready to move on by the end, and he and Junie both thought that there were funny parts but that a lot of it was hard to follow, but all in all it worked out really well. We saw F&B&M again as they returned to pick up Ed; B had a thing they were going to right afterwards, so we headed home from there, stopping at Rein's for dinner and pickles along the way. Home, baths, and bedtimes, and now it's past my bedtime too.

What I’m writing, 8/20

Aug. 21st, 2017 02:23 am
dira: Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Default)
[personal profile] dira
…Some weeks just not starting more ginormous WIPs is the real success, okay? I expended a lot of focus on absolutely positively not starting SEVERAL things this week (and… yep, that is definitely the only thing that was using up brain processing cycles this week at an unusual rate, YEP, TOTALLY).


WIPs currently active: 5, because I bumped All Eternals Deck #2 off the list until I figure out what happens after the beginning.

Words written this week: 4,041

WIPs that got no words this week: 0

WIPs that did get words this week:

Codename: Aluminum Bastard (aka broken dick epic): 883, and I started writing Chapter 47 and then abruptly discovered where the floating point on the outline labeled [particular sex act redacted]? should go in the story, so. Whee!

Born in the Blood: 276, chugging along toward [more sex acts redacted]!!

Slavefic #6: 104. Okay, that looks bad? I’m at the point where I outlined things for this part of the series literally almost two years ago and now have to figure out how to hook them up with the stories that I’ve actually written, so there’s a bit of frantically-jury-rigging-a-round-CO2-filter-from-square-components going on. Hopefully none of which will be apparent from the end result. :)

Wildly Unmanageable Ace!Bitty Longfic: 661

Jack/Bitty angsty happy ending kidfic: 2,117

from Tumblr

Fandom Kitten

Aug. 20th, 2017 02:13 pm
muccamukk: Steve laughing into his hand. (Avengers: Amused Steve)
[personal profile] muccamukk
This morning, Kaylee discovered that Nenya's wastepaper bag is REALLY fun to play in.

Which means my cat is in the trash bin with the rest of us.

40 Years Ago Today

Aug. 20th, 2017 04:56 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The United States of America, then an independent nation, launched Voyager 2

I wonder if any of the people involved realized it would still be going two generations later?

Read more... )
musesfool: Huntress being awesome (don't think cause i understand i care)
[personal profile] musesfool
I ended up marathoning all 8 episodes of Defenders last night. I enjoyed it. It doesn't have the same thematic cohesiveness that Jessica Jones does and the fights aren't as good as they were in the first season of Daredevil, but it's a fun ride if you enjoy the characters, and it helps that everyone else finds Danny Rand as annoying as the audience does. *hands*

spoilers )

So it was a good way to spend 7-ish hours, and it didn't leave me in a state of existential dread the way JJ did.

the other day, in anticipation of this show, I was making a list of ladies with robot arms, and I couldn't come up with many - Misty Knight, Nina Sharp, Lirael, Furiosa... who else is there?


It was a camel!

Aug. 20th, 2017 01:14 pm
rachelmanija: (It was a monkey!)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
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."
lannamichaels: "(but I digress)" written in black text on textured background (but i digress)
[personal profile] lannamichaels

Just now I picked up for the border of the baby blanket and I can't tell if the pick up is terrible and I have to re-do it because it's all v. v. v. scrunched together because the cable on the circular needle is too short. This is after I connected in another cable before I started picking up because I knew the original cable wasn't long enough.

Okay, so easy solution, connect in a longer cable. But even though I would swear that *I do have longer cables*, I can't find them.

Okay, so slightly harder solution, just connect in the many, many shorter cables that I can find. Except that won't work, since I could only find one cable connector and it's the one I'm already using.

So now I have ordered both additional long cables and cable connectors. And then someday I will be able to see how the pick-up actually looks, which is, honestly, probably terrible; I was having a lot of issues picking up along the cast-on edge.

I barely knit these days. I don't deserve these kinds of problems. (I keep being like "okay, switch to crochet, it seems easier on the hands", and then not doing it.)

[syndicated profile] calvinpitt_feed

Posted by CalvinPitt

Plot: Jim and Peter (and their house) are flung into another dimension by Queen Slug-for-a-Butt, utilizing the Professor's latest invention. Yes, it's a Wizard of Oz parody, if the title didn't tip you off. The house crushes the Evil Bleveridge of the Southeast, marking Jim and Peter as foes of the Evil Queen Slug-for-a-Butt of the Southwest, and gifting (I use that term loosely) Jim with the Sapphire Toesocks.

Jim and Peter travel the Flat Critter Road to see the Wizard about getting home, meeting various characters from their show repurposed for this parody. The Wizard fails to help any of them get what they want, and then the Queen of the Southwest returns, only to be defeated with her own flying vacuum. A trip to the local supermarket fulfills all the ancillary characters' desires, and Jim trades the toe socks to the guy from the Transdimensional towing company to get home. The Queen of their universe is still there, so Jim turns the weapon on her, and sends her to the awful place.

Quote of the Episode: Jim - 'I'm guessing you a) are depressed, and b) want something.'

Times Peter turns into a monster: 1 (19 overall).

Cow? The Good Cow of the Northeast, in fact.

Other: Peter's transformation in this issue was brought on by the sight of the Queen's vacuum, bringing back all his traumatic memories of the vacuum that sent him to Heck (see, "The Origin of Peter Puppy").

Jim getting the toesocks makes me wonder if he even has toes. The suit has fingers, but Jim's actual worm body, large though it may be, doesn't have any limbs. Does the suit has toes inside its feet? Could a villain defeat Jim by mocking him for not being able to wiggle his toes in the grass, reducing Jim to tears? Or maybe it would trick Jim into demonstrating how, as a worm, he can wriggle his entire body in the grass, which would get him out of the suit.

The set backdrops are the most effective villain Jim has ever gone up against.

So, for the record, Walter as a Fiberglass Chain Restaurant Mascot was the Scarecrow stand-in. He wanted dental floss to improve his teeth so he'd be better at his job. The Manifestation of Death was the Tin Reaper, who wished to have some of the frozen yogurt the souls he escorted to the afterlife got in the Mall of the Afterlife. And the Hamstinator was the Brave Hamster, who wanted a reasonable amount of fear to keep him from endangering his life doing foolish things.

The narrator has completely lost interest, refusing to even do his work for most of the episode, and instead spending time calling his agent. Even so, his indifference can't match my active dislike. This is the first episode I really just wanted to be over and done with. There are a couple of funny gags - Professor Monkey-for-a-Head as the Queen's flying monkey, and then his challenging the Tin Reaper to a game of chess was one. But I was rooting for the Queen in this one.
solarbird: (widow)
[personal profile] solarbird

[I can't believe I'm saying "Canon in the 'It is not easy to explain, she said'" Overwatch AU, but, well, this is the fourth story in this set, so, I guess it's an actual second AU now. AO3 link.]

[It is helpful to know that Widowmaker (in canon, and here) has a tattoo on her arm which incorporates the French word for "nightmare."]

It is not easy to imagine, thought the Widowmaker, propped up a little on pillows but between her two lovers, Lena, Tracer, sprawled along her right side, hands and arms jumbled about everywhere, like always, and Emily, Kestrel, on her left, arranged so neatly, even in sleep, even halfway through the night, even after turning over a few times, always tucked back in like the little hawk, her namesake in battle. Not even when it is real and in front of me.

She took one of her long, slow, deep breaths, and felt her heart beating, even more slowly than usual, so calm, so quiet, so at rest.

Were Gérard and Amélie like this? she wondered. It seemed impossible. Not just because that was only two, and this was three, and therefore obviously so much better, and not just because they were human, baseline human, with childhoods, and growing up, and stumbling about blindly until they figured how to make a life - though that last part, she finally understood, at least, a little - but because this, this perfection, it, too, seemed so impossible, so to conceive of it happening twice? Ludicrous. Foolish girl, she smiled to herself, it could not have been so... this.

It had taken some time to come up with a bed that the three of them could share. Widowmaker's low body temperature meant she needed similarly lower temperatures for real comfort, particularly in sleep, and both her lovers were so very warm. It'd been Angela's idea, a mattress made of medical thermal control columns, temperature regulated, sensing who lay where, and adjusting, automatically.

The doctor had got a paper out of it - modified to discuss burn victims and others with particularly sensitive skin - and had done fairly well from the patent rights. But Widowmaker didn't care about that. Widowmaker cared that she could sleep with her lovers whenever she wanted to, and whenever they wanted her to, and it would just work.

She breathed in the scent of her brown-haired love, the teleporter, nuzzling down a little into that silly, tossed hair. Unimaginably wonderful. She shifted just a little, carefully, and did the same of her red-haired love, the flying officer, and the scent was so very different and yet so much the same. So wonderful.

And softly, so softly, her breath caught, and water pooled in her eyes, and she sniffed, not wanting to, but she still did, and she tried to stop herself, to stop the tears, but that just made her laugh, just a little, and trying to stop that, too, made more of all it it happen.

Emily awoke, blinking, but lay still except to look up towards the sniffling. "Sweet? What... are you crying?"

"No," whispered Widowmaker. "Yes."

"Oh, love, what's wrong?"

"Nothing. Go back to sleep." She laughed a little more, shaking again, and from Lena came a little "mmf?" and she blinked those big brown eyes that Widowmaker could see so clearly even in the low light.

"You too. Go back to sleep."

"Wuzzit?" said Lena, awake enough now to attempt words, but still, at least half asleep.

"But what's wrong?"

"Nothing," sniffed Widowmaker. "Nothing. Nothing." She leaned over and kissed the half-asleep Lena on top of her head. "Everything is wonderful," and then did the same for Emily.

"Why're you crying?" asked Lena.

"I am... so happy," said the blue assassin, half-sobbing, smiling, confused, but not caring. "I..."

She stopped, and her eyes opened wide.

"I found it," she whispered.

"What?" asked Emily, reaching up to run her fingers through Widowmaker's hair.

"Yeah, love - what?" asked Lena, reaching up to do the same from the other side. Her hand met Emily's, and she smiled, as their fingers intertwined.

"Perfection." She brought her two lovers tightly against her, laughing, crying, all at the same time, the emotions, they are too much she thought, gasping, but that is also perfect. "This perfection."

Lena blinked. "You mean... like before? At the beginning, when you were made? But... here, now? ... with us?"

Widowmaker nodded, not being able to put it into better words. "Everything is so beautiful."

"Oh my god."

Emily chuckled. "You're beautiful too, you know that, right?"

"Love, no, she means it. Losing this is why she left Talon."

"Yes," whispered the spider.

Oh. Emily hadn't been there when the assassin had told the story, but she remembered it, and how it affected Lena. "And now you've got it back?" she asked.

"Yes," nodded the Widowmaker. "It is... different. But better." She sniffled. "Everything is so beautiful."

"Is any part of this bad?" asked Emily, a little worried, a little unsure, a little amazed. The assassin's body always carried tension, tension she could feel in her muscles, feel almost in her skin. And she did not feel it. It was... gone.

"No," breathed the Widowmaker. "Oh no, oh, oh no. It is wonderful. I am so happy."

"You sure?" asked Lena.


"Completely sure?" asked Emily.


"Good," said Lena, as the three snuggled back in together, and the three of them slowly drifted back to sleep.

What would my makers think of me now? wondered the spider, as she slid back towards her dreams, laughing, to herself, just a little. And then when she did sleep, she slept smiling, finding her dreams new, and happy, and not unlike her life now, found, new, and happy.

She would need to change her tattoo. No more nightmares. None. At least, not, for now.

galacticjourney: (Default)
[personal profile] galacticjourney

By Ashley R. Pollard

Science fiction on British television used to be one of those once-in-a-blue-moon events. When it happened, what we got could often be very good. Certainly Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass series was compelling viewing, which drew in a large audience from the general population with millions tuning in each week to find out the fate of the infected astronauts.

The impact of Quatermass cannot be over stated, the name having taken root in the British public's imagination. And, now we have a sequel to A for Andromeda, which I reported on last year, to carry the torch for science fiction on British TV, which also looks like it will enter public’s lexicon. With the additional transmission of the anthology show, Out of this World, we seem to be entering a golden age of science fiction on television.

For those unfamiliar with A for Andromeda, let me do a recap. The first series, a story set in the future circa 1972, was about a group of scientists building a super computer for the military made from plans decoded from a signal sent from the Andromeda galaxy. This signal is a Trojan horse designed to take over our planet by creating an artificial human called Andromeda that the computer can control. It’s all very clever how this is revealed, and when the hero, Dr. Fleming, discovers that Andromeda is a slave of the computer he saves her by destroying the computer with an axe. Andromeda then burns the plans for the computer, and together they try to make their escape. Unfortunately, she falls into a pool and apparently dies, while Dr. Fleming is captured by Army personnel.

The Andromeda Breakthrough therefore has to square the circle of how to carry on the story without undermining the climax of the first series.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)

Penric's Fox doing well

Aug. 20th, 2017 08:37 am
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed just hit #121 on the Amazon sales rankings this morning. I am hoping it will crack two figures at some point on its initial sales arc, but since they change hourly, that's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it proposition.

Amazon sales rankings are a snare and a delusion and clickbait, which I suppose means they're working fine for Amazon, but they are the only real-time feedback an author can have, which is a new thing in the world. One used to have to wait up to a year and a half for the first royalty report for data on how one's baby book was doing had done out there in the world.

Speaking of "Fox", I meant to post this quote from a reader who had never read any of the Penric & Desdemona tales, and kindly agreed to test drive it: "Did it stand alone? Absolutely."

I've already spotted some reviews from old readers insisting, wrongly, it must be otherwise, which makes it much like other series work I've done. The most frustrating lately was for Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, with scads of old readers putting off new ones by claiming they had to read umpty-ump other books first, and the few new ones who slipped through the net, and read the book in front of them just as it was, saying it was fine.

(The latter, sadly small, group may actually have had a better and clearer read due to not having to fight through a forest of settled preconceptions first.)

So I think it might be better to take advice only from new readers, on this point.

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on August, 20
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Dear Senator Johnson:

I am very disturbed by your reaction to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, August 11-12. You made a statement condemning "hate and violence" initially, but since then, you seem determined to make everyone forget that the rally ever happened, that white men carrying Nazi flags, making Nazi salutes, and chanting Nazi slogans marched through an American city--and that a woman is dead because one of them thought he could get away with ramming his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in broad daylight.

What's even worse is your reaction to President Trump's appalling speech. You have said you "don't think" Trump is a racist, although you can't offer any reasons for that belief, and the most negative thing you have yet said about his speech is that "it didn't move us closer. It certainly didn't put the issue behind us."

Senator, it's not clear to me what you think the "issue" is.

You have not spoken out against the racism of the rally. You have not condemned the white nationalist principles of its organizers. You haven't even gone so far as to say that you are anti-fascist. This isn't hard, Senator. "Nazis are evil" is not a complicated or difficult concept. And yet it's one you don't seem to grasp.

You want us to "put the divisive issues off to the side" and "accentuate the positive." By which you mean, you want there to be no consequences of this Nazi terrorist action. You want those of us who are not white men to, once again, swallow the insult and injury offered to us because we are being "divisive" by pointing out that these alt-right Nazis want us dead and are demonstrably ready and willing to kill us themselves.

That's what the fuss is about, Senator. That's why some of us are so unreasonable as to not yet be ready to "put the issue behind us."

Moreover, your call for unity is alarming. I'm willing to extend you the benefit of the doubt--perhaps you genuinely don't know this--but the root of the word fascism, and the concept at the movement's core, is the fasces, the bundle of sticks that is stronger together than any one stick would be by itself. Fascists are all about unity, and when you call for "unity" in the wake of a fascist attack, and when it is clear that by "unity" what you mean is that non-whites and non-males need to sit down, shut up, and stop rocking the boat, I think a person is justified in wondering what you, yourself, think about fascism.

So that's my question to you, Senator. Are you pro- or anti-fascist? It's a very simple question, requiring only a one sentence answer.

I eagerly await your public response.

[ETA: I have emailed this letter to Senator Johnson, and will send a hard copy tomorrow. Plus I have sent a shortened version of this letter both to my tiny local paper and to the Capital Times.]

UBC: Schiff, The Witches [audio]

Aug. 20th, 2017 08:53 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
The Witches: Salem, 1692The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


To get it out of the way, I hated the audio book reader. HATED. She sounded like a local TV news reporter doing a "human interest" story (smugly supercilious, like she finds it all too precious for words), and she had this way of pronouncing sixteen ninety-two that drove me UP THE WALL ("Sixteen ninedy-twoo" is the best rendering I can give; it made me understand why non-Americans can find American accents grating.) When quoting anyone's testimony, she over-emphasized and poured sincerity over the words like maple syrup over pancakes, making everyone sound like Gertrude, who doth protest too much. And The Witches is a VERY LONG book, so I was trapped with this woman's voice for a VERY LONG TIME. (I would have stopped, except that I sincerely wanted to hear the book, moreso than I wanted to get away from ther reader's voice, but it was sometimes a very close call.)

Okay. Aside from that.

This is really an excellent book on the Salem witchcraft-crisis. I don't agree with Schiff at all points (e.g., she's clearly following Breslaw in her assessment of Tituba's testimony, and I don't agree that that's the tipping point of the crisis), but she has done something that no one else writing on Salem has done, and it's something that needed doing. Schiff traces the relationships between the participants and she traces the history of those relationships back from the 1690s to the 1680s to the 1670s. Boyer and Nussbaum made a start at this sort of analysis in Salem:Possessed, but Schiff demonstrates how limited their analysis was, as she examines the web of relationships between afflicted persons, accused witches, judges, ministers, all the way up and down the social ladder from the indigent Sarah Good to the governor of the colony, Sir William Phips. This is a researcher's tour de force, and Schiff is a good, clear writer whose explanations are easy to follow, even when heard instead of read.

My biggest quibble with her is the same quibble I have with almost all scholars who write about Salem. She ends up making it sound like the entire thing was a series of nested frauds rather than the result of anyone's genuine belief in witches and witchcraft. I've talked about this in other reviews, how to a modern reader, it seems almost impossible that it could be anything but fraud and how hard-bordering-on-impossible it is for us to understand, much less enter into, the Puritan worldview, their sincere belief that they were at the center of the cosmic struggle between Go(o)d and (D)evil (sorry, can't resist the wordplay) and their sincere belief that the Devil was real and walking in New England. Puritanism was a culture that enshrined delusions of persecution/grandeur and in that culture witchcraft made sense in a literal way it doesn't in ours. And some of it was fraud. Some of the afflicted persons confessed as much. But fraud alone did not kill twenty-five people (19 were hanged, 1 pressed to death, 5 died in prison, 2 of them infants), and that's the weak spot in Schiff's otherwise excellent book.

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In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS JeannetteIn the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was extremely entertaining, and taught me a great deal about the WACKED-OUT science of the late 19th century, with its paleocrystic seas and thermal gateways. It also provides excellent competence porn, as George De Long, his chief engineer George Melville, and the ship's doctor James Ambler were all insanely good at their jobs, and had plenty of opportunities to show it in the two years the U.S.S. Jeannette was trapped in the Arctic pack ice. (There's a fabulous piece of CSI: Jeannette as Dr. Ambler tracked down the cause of the lead poisoning that was slowly killing the crew.) 20 of the 33 members of the crew, including De Long, died in Siberia after exhibiting more epic heroism than should have been allowed to end in failure (but history, unlike fiction, does not care about your heroism), and the Jeannette's voyage remains eclipsed by the Erebus and the Terror

Trigger warning: aside from the ghastly deaths of De Long, Ambler, and most of the crew, horrible and cruel things happen to sled dogs, polar bears, and innumerable Arctic birds.

The audio book reader was competent and mostly a pleasure to listen to, except for his habit of raising the pitch of his voice when quoting women's writing and lowering the pitch of his voice when quoting men. This makes all the men sound excessively MANLY, and makes Emma De Long sound like a simpering idiot, when it's clear she was anything but.

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UBC: Reis, Damned Women

Aug. 20th, 2017 07:51 am
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Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New EnglandDamned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England by Elizabeth Reis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I hate starting a review with "this book was meh," but . . . this book was meh.

Reis' thesis is that in seventeenth-century Puritan New England, when everyone was obsessed with scrutinizing their souls for signs of damnation or salvation, and when a central event in a person's life was likely to be their conversion testimony (you stand up in front of the church you want to join and tell the church members how you came to realize that (a) you were a sinful crawling worm and (b) God had chosen you to be among the Elect regardless), while men tended to say that their sinful actions corrupted their souls, women were much more likely to say that their corrupted souls led them to sinful actions. She talks about how this led (or might have led) to women's confessions of witchcraft--if you view sin as a continuum, and if your corrupted soul means you cannot deny that you are sinful at heart, then how can you be certain that you aren't a witch?

Reis proves her thesis, and it's a subject I'm quite interested in, but the book itself just . . . meh. It was a book. I read it. If you're researching the subject either of Puritan witchcraft or the experience of Puritan women, it's definitely worth reading. Otherwise, not so much.

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The Defenders (Review)

Aug. 20th, 2017 10:41 am
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Reader, I marathoned it. It being shorter than any previous Marvel Netflix series, this didn’t take that long. (No filler episodes.) Above cut judgment: overall plot meh, worth watching for the character interaction, with my particular highlights being Jessica & Matt, Luke & Jessica, Luke & Danny (I haven’t watched Iron Fist, nor do I intend to watch it now, but the scenes with Luke were the occasions when Danny shook off blandness and became an entertaining character), and all four spending an entire episode stuck in a Chinese Restaurant. Also Matt & Spoilery character, Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver’s character) & Madame Gao, Alexandra & Spoilery character.

heavy spoilers beneath the cut )
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The one major thing I was sad about re: our trip to Quebec–other than the saga of Dara’s lost luggage, and I’ll get to that–was that I got to spend only a few hours in Montreal. And that was only because the travel plans meant I had a bit of buffer time between when I arrived at the hotel, and when I needed to rendezvous with the shuttle going to Camp Violon Trad.

Because, fortunately, there was in fact going to be a shuttle. The camp’s staffer in charge of communicating with campers, when she sent out a notice in June telling us what to expect, mentioned that they’d be running a shuttle from downtown Montreal up to where Camp Violon Trad actually happens. I was quite happy about this news, because this meant I didn’t have to try to rent a car and navigate my way northward through a French-speaking province.

(Note that the street signs at this point probably wouldn’t have given me a problem. I’m good enough with reading French at this point that I can figure out roughly where I am, if I need to. The tricky parts would just be not being familiar with any specific traffic laws in Quebec. Or if I had to pull over for directions, or got pulled over by a cop or something–because then I’d have to try to communicate and my conversational French is not up to speed yet. But that was also part of why I wanted to go to Camp Violon Trad. More on this to come, too.)

What amused the hell out of me about the camp shuttle was this: the designated pickup point was right by the Berri-UQAM Metro station. Which, as it turns out, was about the only part of Montreal I knew anything about, because when Dara and I had spent our weekend there in 2012, that very corner was right by the hotel we stayed at, the Lord Berri.

This meant that I also knew that there was an Archambault there, and I knew there were a lot of shops and restaurants and things within immediate walking distance. So, that gave me at least a bit of buffer time, long enough for running errands and having a brunch, between “leaving the hotel” and “rendezvousing with the shuttle”.

Getting out of the hotel

Getting out of the hotel was a bit of a challenge. I knew that in theory there was a bus I could take from the airport to the aforementioned Metro station, and I remembered that on the way in the night before, I’d walked past a kiosk that looked like it had information for the bus in question. But I got a little lost walking around with my luggage through the airport–which, now that it was a much saner morning hour, was a lot busier than when I’d arrived the night before.

Turned out I’d come down onto the wrong floor. I had to backtrack a bit, but ultimately, found that kiosk. And determined that I had to buy a pass that’d cost me ten bucks (Canadian). This struck me as expensive. But on the other hand, it was still significantly cheaper than paying for a taxi.

The bus in question, the 747 (not to be confused with the jet, lol), had a stop not far from the ticket kiosk. So I got out there and soon enough was on my way.

It was awfully bright that morning, so I had my sunglasses on. This impacted my ability to look at things en route, but I did notice that Montreal was undergoing a lot of construction. Rather like Seattle, in that respect.

Once I was off the bus

The bus route was very straightforward: get on the bus at the airport, and get off the bus at its very last stop. So there was no risk of confusion or anything in that regard.

There was a bit of confusion as I was turned around regarding what street I was on once I was off the bus, but that was easily corrected. I found the Archambault (and the Lord Berri right beside it) as landmarks quickly enough. And that let me orient myself on the plan I had for the morning: go to a pharmacy a couple blocks north of the Archambault, then go to the Archambault, then go find something to eat, and finally, rendezvous with the shuttle.

On the way to the pharmacy (and back again, for that matter) I got panhandled in French. Or at least, one active panhandle and one attempt to see if I spoke French, but which I suspected was a panhandle. I was rather amused by that, just because being panhandled in a different language was at least a bit of a switch.

I was also deeply amused by this, which was not something I expected to see in Montreal.

Apparently, at least one Elvis impersonator is a big deal there. Ha!

The Archambault was the major errand I wanted to run (the pharmacy was just for necessities). And what I wanted was Tolkien things in French! I nabbed a French translation of The Silmarillion: this one, to be specific. And I bought the Blu-ray set of The Lord of the Rings movies again, but this time because this set actually had French dubs of all three movies. The US releases we’ve already bought–both the DVDs and the Blu-rays–do not have French dubs, which baffles the hell out of me. Portuguese, yes. French, no. To this day I do not for the life of me understand that particular marketing decision!

I amused the clerk at the counter telling him I wanted to practice my French by doing the reading, and by watching the French dubs of the movies. He tried to warn me that The Silmarillion is not exactly an easy book to follow. I assured him that I had read it repeatedly in English, so yes, I was very, very aware. ;D

I’m pretty sure I provided at least a bit of amusement of my own to passersby on the street, just because I was dragging my suitcase around behind me, with my backpack on top of it so I wouldn’t have the weight of it on my back. And of course, I also had my fiddle, which was what I was carrying on my back instead, since it was lighter than the backpack. This led to multiple conversations with people about how I was in the middle of a lot of travel and was on my way north for the next leg of my journey.

Finally I did make it to Juliette et Chocolat, which had been recommended to me on Facebook as a good source of brunch. And which, in fact, I was pretty sure I’d remembered going to in 2012. The brunch was in fact excellent. So was the dessert, a thing called “petit pot fleur de sel”, which was all chocolate-mousse-y and salted-caramel-y and gracious that thing was tasty.

Eventually I wandered around as much as I felt I was up for wandering around. Half of me really wanted to go to the Café des chats, one of Montreal’s cat cafes, but it was just a bit too far of a walk when I was hauling luggage around with me. So I finally just parked for a bit at the corner, sat in the shade, and hung out playing Gummy Drop on my iPad; while I was doing that, I had another random conversation with a gent amused by my stack of luggage.

That didn’t kill enough time, so I got up and wandered off again to go into a nearby coffeeshop for a cold beverage and a visit to a ladies’ room. And that accomplished, I came back again and finally found some folks waiting in a little cluster with violin cases and other luggage.

I’d found the Camp Violon Trad crowd!

Waiting for the shuttle

I discovered to my surprise that I was not actually the only person from the extended Seattle-area session crowd. One of the other ladies waiting for the shuttle was another Seattle person. So that was awesome to discover. 😀 Turned out we had a bit of a wait on our hands, once we greeted one another and exchanged names and such. None of us were particularly sure which corner the shuttle would be showing up on, or even what kind of vehicle we were looking for.

It was a good thing for me that there was public municipal wifi available, though, because that let me check my mail–and find an update sent out by the camp coordinator, Ghislaine, warning us that there had been a bit of a mixup as to vehicle rentals, and that there would be two drivers coming, but one was running late. Which ultimately meant that there’d be two cars for about six passengers, so we had to divide up who would ride with which driver.

The driver I rode with was a fellow named Luc. Who, as it turned out, is André Brunet’s cousin! He was very nice, and told me and the other two ladies riding with him that he taught English. The route he chose to take northward was a bit random, since he wanted to avoid the tunnel that runs underneath the St. Lawrence river, which is often very crowded. None of us minded, as it was a pleasant drive. I amused myself practicing reading signs we went past, as well as keeping up with the bilingual conversation going on in the car.

Once we made it to St-Côme, I was able to observe that it is a) tiny, and b) kind of adorable. The same applied to Plein Air Lanaudia, the site of Camp Violon Trad. There was a lovely lake there, a bunch of trees, and assorted chalets that we were all staying in.

But more on this in Part 3 of the trip report!

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