Apologies like the birds in the sky

Oct. 18th, 2017 05:29 am
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
[personal profile] sovay
I have been having an absolutely miserable night, but after venting at length to [personal profile] spatch about Brian Jacques' Outcast of Redwall (1995) I spent at least an hour reading about various mustelids online, including several species (tayra, hog badger, ferret-badger, grison) I hadn't known existed, and I think that was good for me.

(I liked ferrets. I found them clever, beautiful, charming creatures. I had had a stuffed animal black-footed ferret since late elementary school. By the time Outcast came out, I even knew several domestic ferrets in person; they were playful and I did not object to their smell. That was the novel where I realized that Jacques' species essentialism was immutable, and I felt painfully betrayed. I understood the long shadow of The Wind in the Willows, but I couldn't understand how Jacques could miss that his readers would at some point identify with Veil, the orphaned ferret kit adopted into a society of mice and voles and moles—the outsider, the one who feels there's something wrong with them for just being what they are—and then fail to see how it would hurt them to have Veil confirmed as irredeemable, genetically evil after all. He went so far as to give a morally ambiguous character a selfless death scene and then retract it a few chapters later. That ending accomplished what endless recipes for damson and chestnut and Mummerset dialect could not: I burnt out on the series on some deep level and have never even now gone back, despite positive memories of the first four books and their unique combination of cozy talking animals and total batshit weirdness. If you can't appreciate ferrets, I'm out of time for you.)
ashnistrike: (Default)
[personal profile] ashnistrike
I am currently suffering from a toddler plague which includes the delightful symptom of "malaise." That sounds more Victorian than it turns out to be in practice. At the moment I'm awake, yet don't have the energy to actually get out of bed or write anything substantial. Therefore, have some links:

Through noon on Friday, you can get a free e-book of Winter Tide by signing up for the Tor.com newsletter--I believe you can still get it if you're already a subscriber.

Over at the Lovecraft E-zine podcast, Anne M. Pillsworth and I talk about the Lovecraft Reread, our favorite weird fiction, and how to fangirl problematic things.

I neglected to post here at the time, but the cover for Deep Roots and a short interview are up at The Verge. Deep Roots is coming out in July 2018, and contains creepy yet dangerously helpful aliens, Deep Ones attempting to navigate the New York City subway, and lots of takeout food. Awkward relatives and apocalyptic threats galore!


 

Vallista, by Steven Brust

Oct. 17th, 2017 07:05 am
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa
Review copy provided by Tor Books. Additionally, the author has shown by his behavior that despite what I've said in previous review disclaimers about his books, he is absolutely no friend of mine.

However, quite often people who have made me sad, angry, and/or disgusted with their behavior write books that are too dreadfully written to bother to read, and this is not the case with Vallista. This is another entry in the Vlad Taltos series, and like the others it is not doing exactly the same things as its predecessors. It is expanding the universe of the series, it is messing with everything that has gone before and recasting it. It is definitely not an episodic "like this one, but more of it" entry in its series, and the trap-building nature of the vallista comes satisfyingly into play.

What was less satisfying for me this time around, and this may well come into reviewing the author rather than the book as I am trying not to do: everyone has tolerance limits on the First Person Asshole voice. It's no surprise that a substantial portion of a Vlad Taltos novel is written in First Person Asshole. Some people's tolerance is about a page and a half, some infinite; mine is, at this point fifteen books into the series, fraying. (I would also like it a lot if someone would write a study of how FPA voice shifts in a long series so that it always feels contemporary and therefore includes very mild contemporary phrasing that's almost but not quite invisible and ends up being the prose tic version of a long mystery series looking like it only spans two years and yet starting with the protagonist using pay phones and ending in them using smart phones. Someone who is not me should do that using several authors as reference. Thanks.) But Vallista also has, for very good plot-related spoilerific reasons, forays into other prose voices than that, which made it a lot easier to read just when some of the "look at me I'm clever" bits of narrative voice were not feeling quite as clever as hoped and had repeated the not-clever multiple times just to make sure you had a chance to not-laugh at it again. I liked...hard to describe for spoiler reasons...pieces of other prose voice, and the reasons why they were there.

There is quite a lot of Devera in this book. If you're here for serious forward momentum on ongoing plot arc and for Devera: here you go, this is the one you're looking for. Relationships among other characters in the series, a great deal less so, but there's a great deal of "can't have everything" going around in the world, inevitable that some of it would end up here.
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
I am not really catching up on anything. The night we got home from New York, there was an exciting cat-related incident at five in the morning that kept everyone from sleeping until after the sun came up (everyone is fine, cats included), and this morning we were awoken shortly after eight by the sounds of construction thinly separated from our bedroom by some tarpaper and shingles. It is the roofers finally come to prevent further ice dams, but they were supposed to come this weekend while we were out of town and instead they are forecast for the rest of the week. I assume I will sleep sometime on Saturday.

1. There is a meme going around Facebook about the five films you would tell someone to watch in order to understand you. I've been saying Powell and Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale (1944), Ron Howard's Splash (1984), Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein (1993), John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940), and The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953). Which is hardly complete, but adding postscripts feels like cheating, so I haven't. The internet being what it is, of course, I first saw this meme in the mutated form of the five weird meats you would tell someone to eat in order to understand you, to which I had no difficulty replying: venison, blood sausage, snails, goat, and raw salmon.

2. In other memetic news, I tried the Midwest National Parks' automatic costume generator:

National Park Costume Ideas


and while I don't think "Paranoid Hellbender" is a good costume, it'd be a great hardcore band.

3. I haven't done an autumnal mix in a while, so here is a selection of things that have been seasonally rotating. This one definitely tips more toward Halloween.

The sound of a thousand souls slipping under )

I would really like to be writing about anything.

P.S. I just want to point out that if you have recently seen The Robots of Death (1977) and you open a copy of the official tie-in anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View (2017) and see a pair of characters named Poul and Toos, it is extremely confusing that the former is female, the latter is male, they are respectively a senior and a junior officer aboard the Death Star, and neither of them has a problem with robots.

What we tell them and when

Oct. 15th, 2017 10:24 am
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa
Friday night Mark and I took our ten-year-old goddaughter to her first jazz concert, a real grown-up concert in the atrium at Orchestra Hall, not a kids' concert, tailored to her interest in drums. It was a smashing success and I have been telling people the joyful parts of being able to share this with her, how captivated she was, how the other concertgoers were delighted by her.

There's another tiny piece I haven't mentioned, but it's the week it is, the year it is, the world it is.

When I went out to the bathroom at intermission, Orchestra Hall had the pre-ordered drinks sitting on a table completely unattended. No staff near the table, no staff even visible. People's names were under the drinks, patrons were milling around. I was appalled. And when I went back in, I mentioned this as a terrible idea, and I said to Lillian, "Sweetie, don't ever, ever, ever take a drink that's been left unattended. You always, always, always watch who has had control of your drink." And she nodded solemnly and said, "Yes."

She is 10.

I did not say "rape" or "rohypnol" or "GHB." At her age, she probably honestly filed it away as "someone could spit in that, gross." But...she is 10. She will be in high school before we know it. And you have to grab the moments you can. You have to take the opportunities. If you sit a kid down for a lecture, here is all the stuff you need to know, some of it will fly past, some of it will not go in. And you will forget to say some of it. If they only hear stuff once, some important stuff will be lost.

I was not that much older than she is when my cousin told me the same thing, always know who has had your drink, do not drink an unknown punch at a party, even if they tell you it's non-alcoholic, maybe especially if they tell you it's non-alcoholic. Watch them make your drink, keep your drink with you, do not leave it on the table if you go to the bathroom, finish your soda, get a new one after.

She is 10.

She is 10, and I hope no one has said Harvey Weinstein's name to her. She watches Big Bang Theory, and I wish she didn't, because it's full of toxic bullshit, and because Mayim Bialik is trying to tell her that if only she's good enough, if only she dresses the right way and wants to be a good smart girl it will be enough. It will not be enough. This thing I am telling her, at 10, about control of her drink, about how to hold her hand when she punches, about kicking for joints and soft places on the body and running like hell, about how she is worth it and never think she is not worth hitting as hard as she can, as hard as she has to: it will not be enough. I cannot promise that it will be. It is what I have. I can give her that my friends think it's amazing that she loves the drums, my friends want to introduce her to the lead percussionist and help her see all the cool percussion instruments. I can give her grown-ups who see a tiny pixie child intent on listening to jazz and want to give her more of the world, not less. Who say, when you go out in the world, this is what you do--not, don't go out in the world.

She is 10, and I told her, never take a drink that's been left unattended.

It will only get more like this, in the years ahead. As the adults, we always want to think it's too early to have to say the words, and by the time we're comfortable, it's too late, they needed to hear them already. We want to protect them from the words, and we can't protect them from the world. So the opportunities come in the strangest places. It's fun when it's "do you know what Cubism means?" This one was not a fun one. But you take the moments you get. She didn't have to dwell on it, she nodded and went on with her evening, which she declared to be joyful hours. It's still lodged in my heart, though. She's 10, she's 10, she's 10. I want that to be a magic incantation, but it isn't.

Update

Oct. 15th, 2017 07:13 am
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
I am on the island now, and relishing what is for me dead of winter weather (i.e. sixties, rain) -- in fact, it rained all day yesterday, whereas SoCal rain tends to rush in for ten minutes, then it's gone again for weeks or months.

My one day in New York was splendid, except for the part where I managed to get onto the subway going the wrong way Every Single Time. Once it was not my fault. The woman in the info booth told me that the train to our right was uptown and it was downtown. That was mean.

But I had a great dinner with the DAW team, many of whom are young, smart women, giving me the feeling that publishing will be in good hands.

A very pleasant drive through Brooklyn (which is much larger and more varied than I'd thought) and then along the coast to Wood's Hole.

Yesterday afternoon it was good to sit with tea and laptop listening to the rain as I tried to do some catchup work. Today more catchup, then the workshop begins.
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
[personal profile] sovay
We are returned from our whirlwind trip to New York. Notes, because I need to fall over—

It is probably just as well that the Great Northern Food Hall is two states away, because otherwise I can see myself eating there until I go broke or burn out on the taste of rye flour, neither of which I want to happen. Not only do they make a superlative cold-smoked salmon, which if you order it as smørrebrød comes on a dense, chewy rye with thin slices of pickled cucumber and radish and generous dots of stiff savory sour cream and if you order it off the regular menu changes up the radish for celery pickle (which it seems I like much better than any other format of celery) and offers you slices of a lighter, crusty sourdough to plate it on for yourself, they serve a pink peppercorn and raspberry shrub which reminded me strongly of Fire Cider, only in a different key of flavors. Their beef tartare had too much red onion for [personal profile] spatch to eat safely, but we both liked the cubes of smoked beet and the startling green dollops of chive mayonnaise. The roast beef mini smørrebrød had a kind of remoulade on top and then little reddish-purple shells of endive. The avocado mini smørrebrød may or may not have needed green tomato pickle, but the chili oil was a nice touch. The server advised about two small plates per person; in fact three small plates at the Great Northern Food Hall was about half a plate more than either of us could handle, but it was all so delicious that we left only bread. I even got to try the sorrel sorbet because they were giving sorbet away for free, saying quite honestly that they had too much left at the end of the week and didn't want it to go to waste. It was a juicy green, vegetal-sweet, and I licked at it as we ran for the trains to Lincoln Center.

I want some kind of credit for changing all of my clothes except for socks and shoes in a stall in the orchestra-level ladies' room of the Met, especially since I had a laptop-containing backpack and my corduroy coat to manage at the same time. I had brought nice clothes for the opera and I was going to wear them, dammit. I dropped nothing in the toilet and got complimented on my hair afterward.

The opera was wonderful. The thing about Les contes d'Hoffmann is that Offenbach died while working on it—he had a complete piano score but only partial orchestration and a lot of dramaturgical questions unresolved—and as a result there has been an ongoing argument about authenticity and convention and dramatic coherence and musical feasibility for the last hundred and thirty-six years. A non-exhaustive list of variations would include: the order in which the second two acts are staged; how one of them ends; whether there is recitative or spoken dialogue in the tradition of the opéra comique; whether the four soprano roles are performed by the same singer; the degree to which the mezzo role is present in the story; which arias are performed by the bass-baritone; how the opera itself ends. Counting Powell and Pressburger's The Tales of Hoffmann (1951), I have literally never seen or heard the same version twice. Not all of this one worked for me as either an interpretation or an edition, but as a production it was oustanding. I liked Vittorio Grigolo's Hoffmann, self-destructive and feverishly hopeful and not one minute sober; I loved Laurent Naouri's Lindorf and other villains, the same dry dark amusement in his voice each act like his changes of coat, different styles, all black; Tara Erraught made the most complex Muse I have seen, a conspirator in each of Hoffmann's romantic disillusions until she begins to wonder if the eventual art is going to pay off the cost or if she's just going to break her poet instead. The mise-en-scène was generally 1920's Mitteleuropa, with excursions to a Parisian fairground for the Olympia act, a remote and wintry forest for the Antonia act, and a smoky Venetian bordello for the Giulietta act, cheerfully and non-naturalistically peppered with waiters in the whiteface of the Kit Kat Klub, carnival callbacks to Tod Browning, and Venetian courtesans in green glitter star-shaped pasties. (Rob said afterward, "That was more skin than I expected from grand opera." Then he got Tom Waits' "Pasties and a G-string" stuck in my head for the rest of the night.) And here the notes started to run away into an actual review which I had to break off abruptly because it hurt too much to type; I'll try to say more tomorrow. At the beginning of the Giulietta act, the Muse in her guise of Nicklausse the student woke up in a pile of pasties-and-G-string ladies with her vest unbuttoned and her cravat untied and I hope each and every one of those ladies went home and wrote an epic poem, or painted, or sculpted, or composed a song. I don't see what else waking up in a pile with the Muse is supposed to do.

We stayed the night with friends who live in Morristown, who had not managed to catch dinner before the opera, so at one-thirty in the morning we were at a diner somewhere in New Jersey, variously ordering things like Greek salad, Tex-Mex rolls, disco fries, and hot chocolate. This is the most collegiate thing that has happened to me in years.

Unfortunately I woke on their semi-fold-out couch the next afternoon with my shoulder frozen and screaming at me, which meant that a lot of getting around Manhattan today was accomplished by Rob carrying my backpack and me making noises whenever I tried to pick anything up, but we made it to the Strand and now I have copies of Derek Jarman's Kicking the Pricks (The Last of England, 1987) and Smiling in Slow Motion (2000) and we had dinner at Veselka, as is now our tradition. They make a borscht better than anything I can get in Boston. I always remember the Baczynski is huge, but forget quite how huge that is, although at least it means I can eat the second half some hours later on the train when I'm hungry again. Much less elevatedly, I can't remember ever eating a Twix bar before, but Rob brought one back from the café car and a lot of candy bars confuse me, but I can say nothing against a biscuit layered in caramel and chocolate.

(It is a small reason among many, but I do resent the resurgence of actual Nazism for making it more difficult to describe the shoutily officious gateman who ordered the woman next to me to drop out of line so that the business class passengers could have their own line to board first from—he kept yelling at her to move over and I along with two or three other people yelled back, "There's nowhere to move!"—as a tin Hitler.)

My shoulder is now hurting in the way it has been all week where the pain runs down my arm and into my fingers, which I suspect means I should call a doctor about it on Monday and definitely stop typing now. But it was worth it. It was a good birthday present.
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] sovay
Stanislas Petrov died this year. When I saw the news, I wrote, "I feel this is a bad year to lose a man who knew how not to blow up the world."

The nuclear football is the briefcase containing the launch codes for the nuclear weapons in the arsenal of the United States. Currently, in order to open the football and take advantage of its contents, a President of the United States need do nothing more than positively identify himself. The two-man rule requiring the assent of the Secretary of Defense before proceeding to the use of nuclear weapons is something of a fig leaf since, while the Secretary of Defense must verify that the order really came from the President, he cannot legally countermand it. Currently the President of the United States is a man who shows every sign of wanting quite seriously to use nuclear weapons and he can do it without warning and without authorization; he can do it on a whim and I feel that trusting in on-the-spot interference to prevent him—his generals actually tackling him, taking the football out of his hands—is an only marginally less wishful fantasy than the actual ghost of Stanislas Petrov appearing to arrest the turning of launch keys at the last minute, although I'm not saying he shouldn't do that if he feels like it. I would just prefer not to reach that stage if we can help it.

We can help it. There is right now a bill in the Senate and the House—S.200, H.R.669, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017—that would remove the power to launch a preemptive nuclear strike from the President and return it to Congress, which would need to declare war before the authorization of a nuclear strike could even be considered, and [personal profile] rachelmanija has started a campaign to get this bill passed. It is called Pull the Football – Save the World. Its principle is simple. Call your Congresspeople. Write them letters, e-mails, postcards, faxes. Tweet at them. Message them on Facebook. If they are already co-sponsors of the bill, thank them. If they are not, tell them to co-sponsor the bill and then keep telling them. Call again. Write again. Tweet to break the monotony and then call some more. Even if there's not a hope in the domain of much-maligned Hades that they'll act like reasonable human beings, keep reminding them that you expect them to. See Rachel's post for sample scripts, phone numbers, and other helpful information. And if you haven't got Congresspeople at all, please share this information on your social media so that it can reach even more people who do. The idea is the same kind of wave of public outcry as the protests against the repeal of the ACA, only this time in favor of taking action—and in defense of more than just American lives.

I belong to the only country in the world that has employed nuclear weapons in war. For many, many reasons, let's not do it again. And let's start with the football.

Duma Key, by Stephen King

Oct. 14th, 2017 11:39 am
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Of all the new-to-me books by Stephen King that I’ve read in the last year, this and the middle Dark Tower books are the ones I’ve re-read the most. I’ve re-read Duma Key three times in the last two years, and I can tell it’s a book I’ll keep coming back to. Here’s the first page:

How to draw a picture


Start with a blank surface. It doesn't have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember.

How do we remember to remember? That's a question I've asked myself often since my time on Duma Key, often in the small hours of the morning, looking up into the absence of light, remembering absent friends. Sometimes in those little hours I think about the horizon. You have to establish the horizon. You have to mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that re-makes the world is heroic. Or so I’ve come to believe.

Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby. She fell from a carriage almost ninety years ago, struck her head on a stone, and forgot everything. Not just her name; everything! And then one day she recalled just enough to pick up a pencil and make that first hesitant mark across the white. A horizon-line, sure. But also a slot for blackness to pour through.

Still, imagine that small hand lifting the pencil ... hesitating ... and then marking the white. Imagine the courage of that first effort to re-establish the world by picturing it. I will always love that little girl, in spite of all she has cost me. I must. I have no choice. Pictures are magic, as you know.


On the one hand, this is my favorite prose passage in the book. On the other hand, the entire book has that same atmosphere and themes: the magic of art, the bleakness of loss, the terror of opening a door into darkness, human empathy and connections, and, always, how making a mark on paper is both simple and difficult, the dividing line between nothing and everything.

Unusually for Stephen King, Duma Key is set in on the Florida coast – an incredibly vivid and atmospheric Florida, which becomes enough of a character in its own right to make the book a very satisfying sea-soaked, sunset-lit Gothic.

I am pleased to say that this is one of the least gross King books I’ve read, bar a rotting ghost or two. It’s also one of the scariest, in a very classic “terrify by keeping the scary stuff mostly off-page” manner. The Big Bad is never quite seen directly, and is one of King’s creepiest and most mythically archetypal figures.

It’s also one of King’s most heartbreaking books. Almost all the characters are really likable, and if not likable, than still very human. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon opens with, The world had teeth and it could bite you with them any time it wanted. Duma Key is about the beauty and magic and redemption of the world, but also about the teeth.

It begins with a wealthy self-made man, Edgar Freemantle, getting into an absolutely horrific accident while visiting one of his job sites. He loses an arm and gets some brain damage; he’s barely out of the hospital before his marriage has ended, his life as he knew it has ended, and he’s on the brink of suicide.

After some talks with his psychiatrist, he ends up taking up art, which he’d enjoyed as a boy but never pursued, and moving to a cabin in the Florida Keys. There he meets a chatty guy, Wireman, who’s the caretaker for Elizabeth, an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s – both of whom have pasts which slowly, heartbreakingly unfold over the course of the book. Edgar finds that painting is his new passion and genuine talent… but his paintings are odd. Eerie. And they can change things…

The first half of the book follows Edgar as he recovers from his accidents, explores his new talent and gains critical and commercial success, and loses some old friends and gains some new ones. The emotional and physical recovery from the accident and its fallout (which doesn't mean he'll ever be the same as he was before) was incredibly well-done and vivid. I don't know if it was technically correct, but it felt very believable.

In classic Gothic fashion, there’s creepy stuff going on simultaneously, but it’s comparatively subtle. I found this part of the book hugely enjoyable even though tons of scenes are just Edgar painting or eating sandwiches and shooting the breeze with Wireman. On the one hand, it probably could have been shorter. On the other hand, I could have happily gone on reading just that part forever.

And then the creepy stuff gets less subtle. A lot less subtle.

This has an unusual story arc. I’m putting that and other huge spoilers behind a cut, but I’ll also mention that even for King, the book has some very tragic aspects— ones which he’s explored before, but there’s one I’ll rot13.com (feed into the site to reveal) because it’s a specific thing that people may want to avoid. Gur cebgntbavfg’f qnhtugre vf xvyyrq. Fur’f na nqhyg ohg n lbhat bar (n pbyyrtr fghqrag) naq irel yvxnoyr, naq vg’f gur ovttrfg bs frireny thg-chapurf va gur fgbel. Nyfb, n qbt vf uvg ol n pne naq qvrf.

If that’s not a dealbreaker, I suggest not reading the rest of the spoilers because even though if I’d sat down and tried to figure out where the story was going, I probably could have, the experience of reading it feels unpredictable; you can guess the outlines but a lot of the details are unexpected.

Read more... )

Also, have some brighter things

Oct. 13th, 2017 03:43 pm
rachelmanija: (Firefly: Shiny Kaylee)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Femslash Exchange 2017 is open! The original fiction stories look especially tempting; also, there's Jane Eyre/Helen Burns. Off to read my gift story (resistance fighter/glamorous '40s singer) now!

Also, have two cats hugging:

Political activism

Oct. 13th, 2017 06:15 pm
sartorias: (tosh)
[personal profile] sartorias
I usually avoid politics in this blog, but I am worried about nuclear war wiping us out as powerful and irresponsible leaders (who of course would never be in any danger) joust with their joysticks.

If you are worried, too, then read this post. If you feel you can't do anything about it, definitely click this post.

If, of course, you think everything is fine and you are happy with the President and his team, then pass right on.
sovay: (Rotwang)
[personal profile] sovay
Normally I write about trains while I am on them, but today the wireless on the Amtrak Regional was broken until about fifteen minutes before we had to change for the Metro-North at New Haven and the Metro-North doesn't have wi-fi, period. It's a beautiful day to watch the world slide past: light striking dryly off everything, roofs, windshields, fenders, the not yet turning leaves, the daguerreotype glitter of the water beneath a dissolving, overexposed sky and then suddenly crisp metallic blue under the mathematical swells of bridges and between the billows of salt marsh, tawny with fall like the weeds at the side of the tracks. I got the window seat to New Haven, [personal profile] spatch gets it to New York, left-hand side so that we can properly see the sea. A black-bottomed boat bobbing by the docks in New London, a fountain pouring water from the lifted flukes of a bronze whale's tail. Old pilings standing raggedly in the water by a power station in Bridgeport. Small islands in an inlet outside Cos Cob, one or two trees to each, and rowers in a scull like a water strider stroking toward them. Gulls. Graffiti. I never remember to bring a camera, I just stare at the panorama and try to put it into memory. I really like this planet. I'd really like us not to cook it to death.

Around Darien, I looked across the aisle on the Metro-North and the woman with the copy of the New York Post was reading an article with the title "'Psycho' Analysis" with two photographs of Janet Leigh in the shower scene, reminding me that I still owe a review I want very much to write. This week disappeared into work and doctors, as too many of them do.

There is wi-fi in Grand Central Station, or I'd never get this posted. To dinner, and then to meet friends, and then to opera. [edit] The Great Northern Food Hall has superlative smoked salmon. I only wish I had room for the sorrel sorbet.

Pull The Football - Save the World

Oct. 13th, 2017 11:57 am
rachelmanija: (I wrote my own deliverance)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Are you worried about nuclear war? I am too. Keep reading for a way to stop it with one simple action.

Maybe you feel small and powerless. But many snowflakes make an avalanche. If we all move in the same direction, we'll be unstoppable. We will only fail if we choose not to act.

Trump has the power to order a pre-emptive nuclear strike for any reason - or no reason at all. He's always shadowed by a man with a briefcase of codes, called the "nuclear football," to enable him to launch nuclear missiles at any time. It would take less than five minutes from his order to the missiles being launched, and no one could stop him. Republican Senator Bob Corker says Trump is leading us into World War III. I believe him.

But we don't have to stand by and let it happen. Let's pull away that football!

Both House and Senate have bills to prevent the President from launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike without a congressional declaration of war. They're both called the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.) Passing those bills may literally save the world.

How to save the world:

1. Contact your representatives in Congress. Ask them to co-sponsor the bill NOW, before it's too late.

2. Contact EVERYONE in Congress who might want to prevent a nuclear war. Usually people only speak to their own representatives. But with the fate of the entire world is at stake, it's worth contacting everyone who might listen.

3. Promote the Pull The Football campaign on social media. Trump isn't the only one who can use Twitter. Get on it and start tweeting #PullTheFootball.

Share this post on Facebook or Dreamwidth. Put up your own post on whatever social media you use. Ask your friends in person. If you know anyone in the media, contact them to get the word out. If you're not American, you can help by publicizing the campaign on social media that Americans follow.

How do I contact my representatives?

1. Resistbot is a free service that will fax, call, or write your representatives for you. Just text the word "resist" to 50409 to begin.

2. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to the representative of your choice.

I've contacted everyone. What now?

Contact them again. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. One water drop can be brushed away. Many water drops make a flood. Call, fax, or write as often as possible. Set aside 15 minutes every day to make as many calls or faxes as you can in that time. Relentlessness works - it's why the NRA is so successful. If they can do it, we can do it.

What do I say?

Page down for a sample script. Or speak or write in your own words.

Democrats to contact:

Every Democrat not currently sponsoring one of the bills. Thank them for their courage and service to the nation, and ask them to act now to save the world.

Thank the Democrats currently sponsoring the bills. There are 57 in the House and 9 in the Senate. Especially, thank Congressman Ted Lieu (sponsor of the House bill) and Sen. Edward Markey (sponsor of the Senate bill). Encourage them to step up their efforts to make it pass.

Republicans to contact:

The Republicans listed below are the most prominent who have voiced concerns about Trump. This is not an exhaustive list. There are more Republicans who might be receptive. For instance, all the House Republicans who just voted for more aid for Puerto Rico, and all Republicans who are retiring from their seats and so not worried about getting re-elected.

Sen. Bob Corker (202) 224-3344) warned us that Trump is setting the nation on a path to World War III. If you only contact one Republican representative, contact him. Thank him for his courage and urge him to follow through on his convictions.

Rep. Walter Jones (202) 225-3415 is the only Republican to support the bill. Thank him for his courage and urge him to get his colleagues onboard.

Other Republican senators to prioritize contacting: Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, Dean Heller, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Marco Rubio, and Bob Sasse.

Sample Script

Hello, my name is [your name.] I'm calling to ask Representative/Senator [their name] to co-sponsor the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.)

I believe Republican Senator Bob Corker when he says we're on the brink of World War Three. No one benefits from a nuclear war. But we can stop it if we choose to. This may be the most important action Representative/Senator [their name] will take in their entire life. It may literally save the world. I urge them to co-sponsor the bill restricting first use of nuclear weapons. Thank you.

Thank you for reading this far! Please share the post before you go.
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
Mayor Curtatone finally made a public decision I don't agree with, but he picked a doozy: "Somerville is preparing a regional proposal for Amazon's new headquarters." First of all, I have hated since the start of this process the very idea that Boston has to court Amazon, has to flatter the largest internet retailer on the globe into gracing our brick-and-mortar backwater with its $135 billion presence; Bezos' ego doesn't need the extra stroking. Second, I don't want Amazon in Boston: I don't want to become the Seattle of the East Coast or, God forbid, the San Francisco. I don't want to live in a company town. I especially don't want to live in a company town with Amazon's well-documented, exploitative employment practices. And I really, especially don't want to see Somerville, which is struggling enough with costs of living and gentrification and rents approaching asymptote, turn into an exploded shell of itself with the neutron star of Amazon at its core. When I feel less like a bomb went off in my head, I will try to write some less furious version of the above and send it to the city. I cannot see any way in which an Amazon "campus" in Somerville ends well, except for Amazon.

on card and board games

Oct. 12th, 2017 11:33 am
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
Variations on a theme (the Great Board Games Desensitisation Process post), by [personal profile] kaberett. If you love card/board game socials, or if you are reluctant to play card/board games with others, this is worth reading.
sovay: (Rotwang)
[personal profile] sovay
I am aware this post is late, but I was wrestling with the Amtrak website. Its shiny new interface crashed and lost our tickets. Fortunately, I have a phone like you make calls with and I got a human being and now I have tickets again. Opera, here we come.

The trouble with me and National Coming Out Day is that I don't have a coming-out story. I tend to explain my sexuality as follows:

I am interested in people. They come with the bodies they come with. Sometimes those bodies change. Sometimes they belong to people who are cis, sometimes to people who are trans, sometimes to people who are not on the gender binary. In all cases, my interest in a body follows on my experience of a person; all of my romantic relationships have developed out of friendships, with the land speed record taking three months and the other end of the range six years. I find a great many people beautiful. It doesn't mean I want to sleep with them. I want to sleep with relatively few people as these things are rated, but when I do, I really do. I never expected to marry, so it still amazes me that I have one husband and one lover. Label-wise, I identify as bisexual; I also answer to queer. I began identifying as poly when I started to have more than one partner. I dislike the term "demisexual" in the extreme because I think there is nothing halfway about my sexuality. I have never known how to fill out the -romantic part of the sticker set because I don't believe I make that distinction. The last time I was asked about my gender, I believe I answered "BLARGH."

In my ordinary life, however, the process of making people aware of these facts has been not so much a series of significant announcements as a general non-concealment of how I work. [edit] And then I deleted most of the rest of this post because it suffered from an access of Tiny Wittgenstein: I am not somehow less queer because it didn't give me tsuris growing up.

My non-coming-out story is that I'm not sure it was news to my parents that I was capable of being attracted to women,1 but it came up conversationally in my senior year of high school because it was really awkward to be distractingly attracted to a female friend while still in a relationship with the male friend who had introduced us and I didn't know whether I should try to talk to her about it. In the end I didn't, because I thought she wasn't interested, and some years later it turned out she had been and thought I wasn't, and the only conclusions I can draw here are (a) always talk to people, because without information you literally never know (b) gaydar is overrated.

I don't know if Ron Koertge's "Cat Women of the Moon" was timed by Rattle to be thematic or not, but I really like it.

1. It was not exactly news to me: I was no more surprised to find myself attracted to a female friend at seventeen than I was to find myself attracted to a male friend at nineteen except insofar as I never assumed I would be attracted to anyone. What would have surprised me was exclusive attraction to one gender. Long before I wanted to go to bed with anyone, I knew the idea of it being gender-determined made no sense to me.
sovay: (Otachi: Pacific Rim)
[personal profile] sovay
We did not find the phantom ship.

[personal profile] spatch met me after my doctor's appointment so that we could visit the Petco near Lechmere and purchase one of the particular kinds of cat food that is best for Autolycus. We fortified ourselves with purchases of bagels and fudge at Boston Public Market (although I cannot recommend the cream cheese at Levend; I understand that it is farm-fresh and locally sourced, but a grainy texture and a taste so sour that I have to double-check with the seller to make sure it hasn't actually gone off are not what I look for in something that's supposed to go on top of a bagel and under some lox) and set out into the afternoon, which was finally starting to feel like October after yesterday's tropical fog. We had planned to walk straight over the locks of the Charles River Dam, but the sky was such a clear cloud-brushed blue and the water that silt-shot dragon-green that shifts under the sun that we took the North Washington Street Bridge instead for the pleasure of the view, its hundred-and-seventeen-year-old trusses and rivets making rusted parallelograms against the sky. There are still piers that run out from the dam under the swing span of the bridge, where the turntable has been frozen as long as either of us can remember. There were masts we didn't recognize rising out of the skyline on the other side of the river. We couldn't figure out what they belonged to: obviously not the rigging of the USS Constitution, the yachts at Constitution Marina were all too close and too small, and we thought the tall ships were all out of town. So we walked to the Charlestown Navy Yard in order to get a better look and got so distracted by the hollow granite amphitheater of Dry Dock 1 where the Constitution was recently relaunched after a two-year refit that we spent the next hour at the USS Constitution Museum. Rob made me a birthday present of the second edition of David Kruh's Always Something Doing: Boston's Infamous Scollay Square (1999). He also got some fine pictures of the WWII-era portal crane that stands on its iron tracks at the head of the USS Cassin Young: the battleship grey of its paint has flaked and rusted to lichen and tortoiseshell and some of the small glass panes in its cabin are missing, but its cables are all still taut; a plate on the front advertises it as the manufacture of American Hoist & Derrick. From the very end of Pier 1, looking northeast across the wharves, we could see the mysterious masts again with no better idea of what kind of ship lay under them. Nor did we ever figure out why a helicopter from the NYPD was circling the yard. Maybe it had something to do with the one-gun salute fired by the Constitution and the playing of "Taps," or perhaps that had to do with the flag we saw being folded as some people in military uniform and some people in civilian dress came down the gangway of the ship, or perhaps that was some unrelated ceremony: dusk, a memorial, I have no idea. We have all these civic rituals and I know so few of them. The sunset had left an ember-band on the horizon, the autumnal color of pumpkins and Bradbury leaves; later it faded apple-green and steel-violet. I love the bridges of this city, even the broken ones. The last of Millers River runs under I-93, reflecting like a canal between concrete pillars and the industrial dunes of Boston Sand and Gravel. The Zakim rumbles and sings with traffic, winking with green and red lights after dark. As we came back across the curving footbridge of North Point Park, the double drawbridge out of North Station blew its siren and tipped up, slowly and tectonically, to let a boat through.

Predictably, not only did the phantom ship elude us, but the Petco was out of the particular kind of cat food. The buses were terrible. We had to visit two different convenience stores for heavy cream. We arrived home hours later than planned, fed ravenous cats, made fettuccine alfredo and sausage for our ravenous selves, Rob passed out, I wrote this. I got salt and the sea and a new book. I have learned from Judith Mayne's Directed by Dorothy Arzner (1994) that Arzner and William Haines worked together on Craig's Wife (1936)—not as director and actor, but as director and production designer. On the poetry front, Katie Bickham's "The Ferryman" has been haunting me for a couple of days. Not everything is all right, but today was good.

Next time, the phantom ship.

Contrast

Oct. 10th, 2017 10:58 am
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
Approaching the Mississippi under gray skies. Gray! Rain! Alas, rain will happen in Chicago, keeping me in the station instead of adventuring out. (It was ninety degree heat when I packed, and I can tell already that my summer clothes are going to be a challenge. Al well.)

Yesterday, while I was snapping billions of pix of snow dotting the ground at ten thousand feet, my spouse sent me a pic of the sky over the neighbors' house as the Anaheim Hills fires roared.



mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa
Review copy provided by Tor Books. Also the author is a personal friend.

This is the beginning of a new trilogy for Bear. It's set in the same universe as Range of Ghosts and its sequels, which I loved, but it is not a sequel to them per se. As such, this is a great place to jump right in. Different things with different characters! Doing their own stuff with their own themes and foci! Readers famously--infamously--want "more of the same, but different"; this is definitely different, and I think setting it in the same universe will push enough of the "more of the same" buttons for many people.

What has it got in its pocketses? Well, the opener is an ice wyrm attacking a caravan on a frozen river. Frozen riverrrrr. So I'm in. The travelers there center on a pair of roving adventurers, who...don't share a lot of the traits you expect of the classic fantasy traveling adventurers. Like being alive in all senses and human in all senses--though they are more human than many of the adventuring pairs I've read whose authors meant them to be human in all senses. The Dead Man and the Gage are my new favorite buddy road trip pair.

But it's not just their book. There are also--for more than balance--two rajnis. Two princesses whose not-princess title matters, whose ruling roles are complex and who must make calculations about their own power, the power of those they care about, their people, their people's relation to the environment. The water divers, the snakes, the elephant and the lilies...these are some of my favorite elements in a modern fantasy novel, pulling in politics and setting as they do. The way that rajni Sayeh's life as a third sex person within her culture matters, the way that it does and does not change how she sits on her throne--but also the way that her motherhood changes everything she does. I love Sayeh best. There is always a risk that there will be one favorite character, with multi-POV novels, and I love Sayeh best--but not to the point where I was impatient to get through the other scenes, not to the point where I wanted to be done with Mrithuri or the Dead Man and the Gage.

This is definitely the beginning of a trilogy, so we have miles to go before we sleep. But I'm pretty eager to go those miles.

Please consider using out link to buy The Stone in the Skull from Amazon.
Page generated Oct. 19th, 2017 05:35 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios