Today's Mail, on the Other Hand...

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:38 pm
malkingrey: ((default))
[personal profile] malkingrey
...was Capitol One trying to sell me a credit card. And the Collin Street Bakery trying to sell me a fruitcake, and a men's clothing catalog for my brother.

Wow.

(Not that I have anything against Collin Street Bakery, who do in fact make the world's best fruitcake. But I order my stuff from them online.)

Wednesday went underground*

Sep. 20th, 2017 09:19 pm
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished Boys will be Boys, which was still very familiar although it is many years since I last read it. Wonder if Turner would really have liked to be writing something a bit more serious about matters of popular culture; and would have liked to be nerdish in the archives of the publishing companies, because there are sometimes wistful asides about the mysteries that might be solved thereby. Pretty sure this is where the very youthful [personal profile] oursin first acquired that apprehension that each generation disses upon what the young of next are consuming (whether print or radio or more latterly other media) as A Road to Ruin (I wish I could locate my copy of his Roads to Ruin).

Also finished The Witch of Syracuse: worked well, did not have that sense one so oft has when scattered short stories on a character/s are brought together of 'fix-up', but that it worked as a narrative arc. Also thought it worked well on the historical contingencies, nature of the deities, etc. (Very unfluffy Hellenic/Punic goddesses.)

Being somewhat smitten with travel angst, read various short things, comfort re-reads, etc.

Did read the novella Suradanna and the Sea by Rebecca Fraimow (2016): very good, even though I couldn't remember why or when I'd downloaded it.

On the go

Finally began Victoria Bates, Sexual Forensics in Victorian and Edwardian England: Age, Crime and Consent in the Courts (2015) - very good so far.

Also currently in medias res, Patricia McKillip, Kingfisher (2017) - very good, but my bar for riffing on/mashing up Arthuriana is set very high with Naomi Mitchison's To the Chapel Perilous.

Up Next

Dunno.

*Among other sights seen today, Rynek Underground.

Bike light design

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:12 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
For a while I had the impression my back bike light remembered whether it was on or not when you removed and replaced the battery. And I wondered how that worked. A push-button that moved a physical toggle between three positions seemed implausible. But so did some tiny bit of persistent memory. My best guess is that there was a capacitor which held charge for a short time.

Now, I think I was completely wrong. I think that when you put the battery in, it *always* comes on. I just assumed that it would usually be off and didn't actually check that was true. So I got the impression it was lit *sometimes* on battery-connect, and connected that to the state it had before the battery was removed.

Wow, it's really easy to manufacture evidence for something even when you think you're avoiding that.

Presumably the "power on lit" is so that loose connections don't turn it off. OTOH, that would mean if it has a loose connection when it's being carried about, it might come on and drain the battery. Or maybe no-one thought about it and this just happened to be the case. Or maybe there's a regulation? I don't know.

Cleavage

Sep. 20th, 2017 01:48 pm
supergee: (coy2)
[personal profile] supergee
New ordinance encourages pervy cops to check out the areola and the anal cleft.

I haven't done one of these in years

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:58 am
supergee: (me-kinda)
[personal profile] supergee
1. Who are you named after?
My grandfather Abraham. The Jewish custom was same first initial, different name. In New York in the 50s some of the Anglo-Saxon-sounding ones that Anglo-Saxons rarely used were considered inherently funny, though Arthur wasn’t as bad as Melvin or Seymour. Since no one else feels that way, I’ve gotten over it.

2. Last time I cried?
Can’t remember. I guess I pass that aspect of Correct Gender Performance

3. Soda or water?
Split the difference: warm, flat diet soda. Fake chocolate is my fave.

4. What's your favorite kind of pizza?
Mushrooms/onions/olives. Ham & pineapple is OK.

5. Favorite flower?
All the garish ones.

6. Roller Coaster?
Nah

7. Favorite ice cream?
Chocolate chip mint, but my pancreas don’t want me to have any.

8. Favorite book?
Illuminatus!/Stranger in a Strange Land

9. Shorts or jeans?
Neither. I decided 50 years ago that jeans are a particularly boring form of cosplay.

10. What are you listening to right now?
The voices telling me—I mean, nothing! Nothing at all!

11. Favorite color? Magenta, the one that’s not on the spectrum. (I refrain from saying, “unlike me.”

12. Tattoo?
None. Unlike my (female) spouse, I am not macho enough to put up with the pain.

13. Favorite thing to eat?
Rare red meat

14. Android or iPhone?
Scary newfangled things! Get off my lawn!

15. Favorite holiday?
5/5. Not as Cinco de Mayo, but as the anniversary of my first zine

16. Night owl or mornings?
Mornings

17. Fave day of the week?
Now that I’m retired, I don’t have one.

18. Favorite season?
Spring, I guess

19. Favorite Sport?
Pro football

Fighting Bureaucrat

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:16 am
supergee: (reclining)
[personal profile] supergee
Comptroller tracks down Chicago mobster after a hit & run.

Thanx to Metafilter

Punitive

Sep. 20th, 2017 05:53 am
supergee: (nourish)
[personal profile] supergee
Because we are a mean, stupid nation, many incarcerated women are not allowed to breastfeed.

Thanx to [personal profile] conuly

(no subject)

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:45 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthdsy, [personal profile] sharpiefan!
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

Review copy provided by Haikasoru Books.

This is one of the weirdest books I’ve read in a long time. The Bamboo, the creatures in it, are described as vampires, but they’re really more grass monsters who eat human carrion. They’re described as scary, but I’m not particularly scared by them so much as baffled by their strange, secretive, hierarchical laws. (For me, this is a feature, not a bug.) And on basically every other page, I’m left saying, “What? What?” (Again, a feature, not a bug.)

There are three sections varying widely in time, with different protagonists. Even within the sections, the timeline swings wildly, spending pages on a conversation translated lovingly to attempt to show what level of formality the Japanese conversation used (oh, a losing battle) and then going over forty years in a single line. I would say that it’s full of plot twists, but that sounds very linear, very straightforward, as though things are following one upon another with logic–it is full of plot twists the way the dream you are trying to remember from two nights ago is full of plot twists. “And then you what? Why? Okay.”

And then the grass monster reached the end of their life and exploded into flowers. What? Okay. No, different section, they ate someone who they thought was abusing a prostitute. What? Okay. If that’s not okay with you, you should probably move along, because that’s what there is here, a whole lot of angst and monsters and randomness, and some of you are saying, gosh, no thanks, and some of you are saying, sign me on up.

Please consider using our link to buy A Small Charred Face from Amazon.

Books read, early September

Sep. 19th, 2017 06:45 pm
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

Alex Alice, Castle in the Stars Book One: The Space Race of 1869. Discussed elsewhere.

Hassan Blasim, ed., Iraq+100 Discussed elsewhere.

Chaz Brenchley, Dust-Up at the Crater School Chapter 7. Kindle. Plotty, moving forward, full of dust storms and schoolgirl antics, as one would expect for this project.

Marie Brennan, Maps to Nowhere. Discussed elsewhere.

George Eliot, Middlemarch. Kindle. And this is what happened to my early September. Middlemarch is surprising; it is delightful. It is one of the longest classics of English literature, and it is a joy to read. I kept thinking that I would want to leaven it with bits of something else, go off and take a break and read something in the middle of it. I didn’t. (I mean, I always have a book of short pieces going. But other than that.) While I was reading Middlemarch, I kept wanting to read Middlemarch, and when I was done reading it I wanted more of it. The only thing of its size that’s at all comparable in my attachment to it is John Sayles’s A Moment in the Sun, and that does not have the passionate following Middlemarch has–wherever I mentioned it I found that friends and strangers were ready to share my delight in this wandering intense chatty behemoth of a book. I’m discussing it with a friend who’s reading it with me. I’m not sure I have a lot to add for the general audience except to say, it’s funny, it’s intense, it’s gigantic emotionally as well as literally, it makes me want to read more George Eliot, it makes me want to read its giant self all over again. It is in some ways exactly what you would expect and in other ways nothing like what you’d expect. It is thoroughly itself. And oh, I love her, I love George Eliot so very much. I’m glad I read such a quotable thing when I was past the age of needing to strip-mine books for epigraphs. I can do that later. I’m glad I could just relax in and read this first time.

Masha Gessen, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. I enjoyed another of Gessen’s books and picked this up because the library had it, more or less on a whim. And it gave me a perspective on modern Russia that nothing else has, particularly on its criminal justice system. What the prison system is doing there, what trials are like, what sorts of things are prioritized, what and who counts, what and who does not. Enraging, illuminating. There are some things Gessen just takes for granted you will know about feminist art theory and punk, but I think it may still be interesting if you don’t? but even better if you do. Also, if you have a very strong high culture/low culture divide, read this book and have that nonsense knocked out of you. Not that I have an opinion about that.

Ben Hatke, Mighty Jack and the Goblin King. Discussed elsewhere.

Steve Inskeep, Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab. This is very much in the popular history category: short chapters, many things explained on a fairly straightforward level. Not a lot of delving deep into the obscure corners. However, Inskeep does a fairly good job of switching back and forth between the lens of the European settlers turned recent Americans and the lens of the cultures of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, and especially Cherokee people in the region he was discussing. One of the things that this particularly underscored for me is how quickly the European/American settlers viewed the land as traditionally theirs in that part of the south: the beginning of the Cherokee Trail of Tears was twenty-three years before the US Civil War. Even the earliest of the resettlements was only thirty years before. So in some parts of the Deep South, there were indeed plantations that had been going for generations–but in large, large swaths of it, the land they were fighting so hard for was land they had just taken from its previous owners basically five minutes ago. References to traditional way of life in that context are basically like talking about GameBoys and other hand-held gaming devices as our traditional way of life: they are bullshit. I think the way we are taught this period of history in American schooling encourages us not to think of that. I will want to read much deeper works on Andrew Jackson’s presidency. In this case I will say: Inskeep is not trying to paint him as a great guy or not a racist…and I still think he ends up going too easy on him. But it’s a good starter work for this period, I think.

Ursula K. LeGuin, The Language of the Night. Reread. The last time I read this was before I was keeping a book log, which means also before I was selling short stories regularly. I was a lot less prone to argue with assertions about fantasy not needing to compromise then. (Oh nonsense, of course it does.) But one of the things that makes Ursula LeGuin a great writer is that she argues with her past self, too. She evolves. She evolves in the course of this collection. And I think she’d be far happier with people thinking and arguing than uncritically absorbing anyway.

Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch. So…I didn’t mean to go straight from Middlemarch to a book about it, but the other thing I had from the library, I bounced off, and…I wasn’t ready to be done. This is Mead’s memoir entangled with a bit of biography of Eliot. There are places where Mead is bafflingly obtuse (some areas of gender politics and the writing of sexuality, notably, but also the difference between a character who is fully human and a character who is generally sympathetic), but in general it is short and rattles along satisfyingly and tells me things I want to know about George Eliot without telling me too many things I actively didn’t want to know about Rebecca Mead.

A. Merc Rustad, So You Want to Be a Robot. This is a solid and heart-wrenching collection. It’s impossible to pick one true favorite because there are so many good choices. Definitely highly recommended, Merc hits it out of the park here. And they’re just getting started.

Gerald Vizenor, Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles. This is when Vizenor was just getting started, and gosh I’m glad I didn’t get started with his early work, because…why, oh why, did so many men of the seventies–particularly men who wanted to claim they were ecologically minded without doing much about it–pick the same direction for their demonstrations of their own sexual daring? Well, Vizenor grew out of it. But it’s a one of those. The person who wrote the afterword was sure that objections to it would be because people thought Indians couldn’t be like that! and no, it’s that it’s trite, it’s exactly the kind of trite sexual objectification of women–especially Indian women–that you’d expect from “seventies dude trying to be sexually shocking.” He got better. I’m glad.

Krakow is chilly and rather wet

Sep. 19th, 2017 09:08 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

This morning it was overcast and a bit cool, by this evening via mildly drizzly has become colder and wetter.

Nontheless, we have managed some flaneurserie around the Old Town, a visit to St Mary's Cathedral with its massive gothic altar, and several museums:

The Gallery of C19th Polish Art at Suikiennice

The Jagiellonian University Museum Collegium Maius

The temporary exhibition of 350 items from the The Princes Czartoryski Museum

Pharmacy Museum, Jagiellonian University Medical College

All of which leaves me rather too overwhelmed to say much beyond: that's a hell of a lot of old scientific instruments/apothecary paraphernalia, and dealers across Europe must has seen the Czartoryskis coming, with their interest in associational historical items (I would guess scamsters moved into this after the decline in fake relics?).

There was also (v expensive) coffee taken in a very plush place with numerous historical associations.

Place is generally heaving with tourists and tour groups.

Sometimes It's the Little Things

Sep. 19th, 2017 02:36 pm
malkingrey: ((default))
[personal profile] malkingrey
It doesn't take much to improve my mood, a lot of the time.

Today it was a surprise short story royalty check in the morning mail.

Not a large one . . . given that most short story payments are lucky if they make in into the low three figures, most short story royalties tend to be in the exceedingly low two figures. If that. (If a short story payment is a tank, maybe two tanks, of gas, then a typical short story royalty check is maybe a couple of quarts of motor oil.) But still, a royalty check is a royalty check, and not yet another piece of junk mail from Capital One, trying to sell me a credit card.

As they say back where I come from, it beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Difference of Mind

Sep. 19th, 2017 02:18 pm
supergee: (neuro)
[personal profile] supergee
SFWA list of sf books with neuroatypical characters.

Signal boost

Sep. 19th, 2017 07:09 am
supergee: (nebula)
[personal profile] supergee
The first time I encountered Farah Mendlesohn was when NYRSF published some idiot saying that Robert Heinlein was a fascist, and Farah, a leftist pacifist, told him in clearly reasoned detail wherein he was full of shit. Since then, I have had the pleasure of hanging out with her at the ICFA and online and reading a number of her excellent critical books. Now she has returned to Heinlein with a book that the cold equations of the book biz tell us is too large to be published by a commercial or university press. So it is being crowdfunded, and I encourage you to join in.
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