In other news, I binged on the entire third series of Call the Midwife today, and it gave me many feelings. They mostly involved sniffling.
In other news, I binged on the entire third series of Call the Midwife today, and it gave me many feelings. They mostly involved sniffling.
Once in a wood by a great city there lived a family of foxes. The head of the family, who wore the guise of lady or gentleman or other as the whim took them, had a splendid collection of jewels given to them by any number of human lovers. The younger foxes of the family studied this art of seduction diligently, not because foxes have any use for human baubles, but because the baubles they received from their lovers were an essential component in the game known as "human-fishing." Any number of humans could be lured into the wood for further pranks by the strategic placement of necklaces, rings, crowns; and from that point on they could be entangled in fox spells and fox riddles for endless hours of entertainment.
The very youngest fox, however, had no interest in any of this, to the despair of her family. Rather, her interest was in science. This in itself wasn't entirely dishonorable (from a fox viewpoint, anyway). After all, her sire said, with a certain determination to make the best of the situation, one of their ancestors had been the lover of a court alchemist, which was almost like science. And if it made her happy, it made her happy.
The real problem was that her family had no idea how to accommodate the youngest fox's hunger for knowledge. It would have been one thing if she had a foxish interest in ethology or ecology, which could at least be related to the practical business of hunting. Even foxes who spend their spare time discussing trends in hair ornaments and the proper length of hems need to eat. No: the youngest fox showed distressingly little concern for the ways of the woods, and instead spent her time on boulders peering at the sky, or muttering to herself as she sketched diagrams, or keeping notes in a ledger book that her puzzled but kindly oldest sibling had stolen from an accountant lover. "Accountants are the hardest to steal from," they had remarked, hoping to slip in some proper education. "They always keep everything organized." The youngest fox had merely nodded distractedly, but at least she showed up for lessons long enough to practice shapeshifting so that she could use her human form to record her mysterious experiments.
One evening, while the youngest fox was investigating an ornamented spyglass that she had cajoled the head of the family to giving to her, the rest of the family met to discuss her future. "We can't send her to the city to make her fortune," said the head of the family, and there was general agreement. "She's a disaster at seduction and she'll undoubtedly use her teeth to get herself out of any trouble. But it's clear that the woods are not the right place for her either." Indeed, they had often caught the youngest fox pining over mysterious human implements like calipers, pendulums, and prisms.
"Well," said one of the siblings, "even if we can't teach her what she wants to learn, surely we can find her someone who can."
The youngest fox was bemused, then outraged, when over the course of the next month she found any number of measuring instruments and lenses scattered in the woods, instead of the more usual baubles. She spent her time gathering up the instruments and hoarding them, then, without telling anyone, slipped into the city in search of the objects' owner. (Another disadvantage, to her family's additional despair: she was that rarity, an honest fox.)
The youngest fox had not been neglecting her lessons quite so much as her family supposed, even if she rarely made use of the skills that they strove to impart to her. In this case, she tracked the instruments' owner, following their scent in the city's dreams. This person thought in great wheeling orbits and precessions and cycles, in measurements and the limitations of precision, and the youngest fox trembled with excitement at the wisdom in their mind.
So it was that a very surprised scholar, who had without success hired investigators to locate her stolen instruments, opened the door that night and saw a modestly beautiful youth with a bundle wrapped up in silk. "I must apologize for my relatives," the youth said, "but I believe these belong to you?" And, as the scholar unwrapped the bundle, the youth said, rather breathlessly, "You may have them back, but perhaps you have need of someone who can protect your belongings from importunate foxes?"
The scholar, who was not only wise in the ways of astronomy and geometry but had also noted the youth's amber eyes and the telltale russet sheen of their hair, only smiled. "Come in," she said, "and I will teach you what I know."
Naturally, the youngest fox's family had been watching. "That was the fastest seduction I ever saw," the oldest of the siblings said, "and it didn't even involve taking off her clothes. I would never have thought it of her."
"Maybe science is good for something after all?" said the second-oldest.
The head of the family merely licked a paw in satisfaction. Perhaps it wasn't how they had intended things to go, but a happy ending was as happy ending.
Basically, I don't trust any USian police officer worth a damn with the civil liberties or lives of black people in general and black men in general. So every time I am in a situation where I'm uncomfortable and might otherwise call the cops -- who despite my lifetime distrust and fear of the police are going to be pretty nice to the middle class white lady -- I second guess. Does the group of people making me uncomfortable include any black boys or men; do I feel unsafe or just unpleasant; do I think anyone is actually in danger? I would like to know that I can call the cops on vandals without freaking worrying about a disproportionate response.
(I'm not sure where my built-in fear and loathing of cops came from; maybe from growing up in a mobbed-up town?)
I will be moderating a panel discussion on Saturday (1:30-3:00 at the 5th Avenue Cinema) on "Science Fiction, Film and Technology" with Ted Chiang, Daniel H. Wilson, and more! I'll also be attending as many of the writing workshops as I can manage. It's a busy schedule.
Other program items of interest to the science fiction community include the films Time Lapse, Rover, and Wizard's Way (the last one is FREE) and Lessons Learned & 28th Anniversary Screening of Labyrinth with a Q&A with Toby Froud.
Hope to see some of you there!
What I read
So, I finished Casino Infernale, which was as expected, no particular surprises, enjoyable.
Elizabeth Bear, One-Eyed Jack (2014) which I admired but did not entirely warm up to, partly because my misspent youth/early-mid adulthood involved books rather than certain media properties; though I really liked the general concept of characters-becoming-myth, I felt there was possibly a dimension I was not quite getting. However, I did think it was a splendid entry into a genre that so far I don't think has a name, because 'urban fantasy' has been taken by something different, which is fantasy where the specific place has A Presence, indeed is pretty much a character in its own right, and in particular, massive props for being a conurbation that is not London, a mythos which is doing something different, etc.
I also consumed a couple of fanfics that had been given pointers via my reading list: Pieces - a Ransomeverse/Sayersverse crossover, with some Marlows, set after the War. It was very readable, although I did slightly cavil about the general tendency to match up canon characters with other canon characters, even if there was at least, if background rather than foreground, one ff pairing. I was also a bit 'huh?' about the rather sudden late introduction of melodramatic plot element. Also, legionseagle's wonderful Mary Renault/Agatha Christie crossover Lilies at the Funeral (Return to Night/Miss Marple - yessssss).
Also, more unmentionable Sekkrit Projekt books.
On the go
A return to Love-Letters of an Englishwoman, and we have finally got to the inexplicable parting and consequent angst (okay, dr rdrz, you know my thought processes, my theory is that Love-Object discovered that he had ye syph and could not marry a Pure Young Woman, but was not actually going to be explicit about this except to say 'There is no fault in you'). But really, I cannot read many of these at a time - we are now at the Unsent Letters of Anguish stage.
Have started Lisa Regan, Winifred Holtby's Social Vision (2012) as Pickering and Chatto, bless their wee cotton socks, are issuing selections from their academic list (which includes some great stuff), previously only accessible as horribly pricey hardbacks, as ebooks at approx 1/3rd of the cost, and I'd had my eye on this one for a while, because, Winifred! So far it's really good.
MOAR Sekkrit Projekt.
Also have several things on the Kobo that have been highly recommended. Also, but shan't get my hands on it until next week, the new Barbara Hambly Benjamin January mystery, Crimson Angel.
Forgot to slip into luggage 3 things I meant to while packing, i.e. the new Greer Gilman and Rosaleen Love, and End of Term for the Forest re-read at trennels. Drat.
Notes Teaching Adult Learners
Update Health Month
Update plurality website
Update image gallery
Browse Walgreens & CVS for hair chalk if can't find ask mom for some money to order off amazon
I’ve been retweeting and reblogging things about the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO, since it happened a couple weeks ago.
I reblog and retweet posts by others about social justice issues, against misogyny, racism, homophobia, and other issues.
I was rewatching the HBO series Band of Brothers this last week.
When I hit the ninth episode, “Why We Fight,” I nodded.
In that episode, Easy Company finds and liberates a work camp. The nearby town of German citizens swear that they had no idea what was going on there.
Maybe they didn’t. I expect that vast numbers of Germans did not know the atrocities perpetuated by their government. But I also expect that they didn’t want to know.
I do not want to know about the injustices perpetuated by my government, by my culture, by people just like me. But more than that, far, far more than that, I don’t want to be the German townsperson suddenly confronted with the evil they allowed to occur.
The daily fight is not one of good versus evil; it’s good versus apathy. It’s good versus status quo, versus standing by doing one’s own thing and not looking up.
I would rather look up.
I would rather see the world in all it’s imperfections, and strive to correct those imperfections, than later discover the depths of evil I ignorantly permitted to occur in my name.
I know it’s trite to compare things to Nazis. Godwin’s Law, and all that. And I am not saying that the U.S. government is full of nazis. I am saying that I no longer find ignorance to be more comfortable than knowledge.
The world improves because we force it to do so. Good and justice prevail when ordinary people demand it.
Ten slots for flash fiction at 200+ fiction (likely longer but no guarantee; on the other hand, you don't get charged for extra words!).
NOTE: This time around it is USD$6.49 per (because that leaves me $6.00 after Paypal takes its cut). Payment in advance, fic written to a one-to-two word prompt of your choosing, e.g. "dragons; milk" or "marmalade" or "feathers." I reserve the right to ask for an alternate prompt in case of Yoonfailure. Let me know if you want the story by a particular date so long as I have at least a week to write; otherwise, I will endeavor to have them done by the last day of September 2014. (Probably earlier.)
ETA: You'll want to send Paypal for "Goods and Services," so Paypal gets its cut; if you do "Family and Friends/Personal" or whatever it calls it, those forty-nine cents go to me. I owe at least one of you a refund, which I will do later in the day when I am actually awake.
Stories will be posted both to DW and the flashfic archive on my website for other people to enjoy. Original fiction only unless you want something based on one of my own works (so, for instance, the world of Iria from Winterstrike is fair game).
For sample fics, check here or the "stories" tag on DW. That should give you an idea of my strengths.
Payment to email@example.com (Paypal). If you don't have Paypal, email me and we can work something out.
I don't allow anon commenting, so if you want a slot and don't have a DW account, you can contact me directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. daidoji_gisei: prompt: ?
3. cohomology: prompt: recursive pepper (paid)
4. lemon_badgeress: prompt: witches (alternate: dragons and marmalade) (paid)
5. storme: prompt: tricksters, loyalty (paid)
6. Christopher O.: prompt: ?
7. telophase: prompt: egg (paid)
8. Andrew S.: prompt: [cotillion, Banach–Tarski paradox] OR [cotillion, stars] (paid)
9. cyphomandra: prompt: breakfast (paid)
2. Speaking of Flight Rising, someone made a loot tracker. You have to enter it manually, but it doesn't really add much time, and it's fun to see. (Or depressing, like when you do something like train 6 exalt fodder in the Kelp Beds and go 64 rounds and get 3 lesser battle items, 8 festival currency, and almost 200 "other stuff," which translates as "food and autosell junk.")
3. The main reason I'm posting, though is to comment on some shows I've been watching the last few weeks, but probably won't get around to giving proper writeups. Starting with rewatching The Pretender, which I loved as a teen, and which holds up pretty well. Though, wow, I forgot how they did women's makeup in 90s TV. (I mean, not that there aren't crimes committed in that department these days, but that's some seriously caked on stuff, there.) Andrea Parker remains amazing in all things and Michael Weiss is really good at playing a character who's both a naive child in an adult body, and a jaded escape prisoner atoning for unknowingly causing who-knows-how-many-deaths though a lifetime of being exploited. Jared's simultaneous long distance courting/trolling of Miss Parker is as great as I remember, too.
4. I binged through all 6 seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I had some misgivings about it, but really got into it once they started branching out beyond Anakin and/or Obi-Wan and having more stuff about Ahsoka, Padme (especially the Ahsoka/Padme adventure episodes) and the clones. I was also exceptionally fond of Asajj Ventress, depsite disliking how the portrayal of the witches played into all the negative stereotypes ever. Within the narrative, I think they generally did a good job with the portrayal of gender roles and treatment of women (aside from one HUGE beef in season 5....I mean, there were other things that made me frowny, but that was the big one) but on a metanarrative level, I never quite got past the fact that the first season, at least, seems to deliberately minimize Padme's role to keep attention away from ALL THE BAD SOON TO COME and prevent potential audience squick by having too many romantic scenes with Anakin, who was the early main focus. It did get batter about that, though. One thing that particularly thrilled me was when a woman chose ruling a planet over True Love and it was portrayed as completely her choice and not a Sacrifice or something that made her cold. I haven't read much expanded universe stuff, and what I did was years ago. Do Ahsoka or Satine appear in any other media?
5. Another, which is a horror anime from a few years ago. I can't really think of a way to explain it without getting really spoilery, but it's a "cursed class" series, which is pretty common to Japanese horror, but I thought it was really well done, despite a slow start. It's also by P.A. Works and has their normal designs/scenery, which are always great (IMO). Except it's also an increasingly bloody and violent series which I...am not used to with their series.
Also good: I noodled a lot at Ratios.
Bad: I still need to do more basic worldbuilding before the end of the synopsis will fall into place. Ratios is interesting in that I have a basic concept of the beginning up to the midpoint. Then it falls to pieces because I haven't nailed down enough stuff to get a sense of the external conflict. (It's a space opera, so a certain amount of blowing things up will be required. I presume. Not like I'm an expert.) And the external conflict has to logistically line up with the other conflict and...aaaaagh.
(You can totally tell me I am stupid at this. Trust me, I am looking at my notes for today and I know I am stupid at this. It is very tempting to spill water on the lot, since I did not use water-resistant ink. I'm at the point where Rorschach blots would not only be more inspiring but make more sense.)
9FG was much easier on a macro scale because I knew the ending right from the beginning, and the conflict was baked into the protagonist/antagonist pair. The tactics of the middle were a complete pain in the ass and I ended up writing in too much only to have to simplify them on the grounds that most readers weren't going to be following the details, but at least I had a sense of the big picture.
Mainly, I hate worldbuilding, but not as much as I hate coming up with characters. It's also aggravating that at short story length the specifics I settle on for a given character don't matter as much in that I don't personally have to connect to or feel much for the character. They're just a puppet constructed to do the job. But at novel length, I can't sustain that. I have to have some connection to the protagonist or at least one of the major POVs or I completely lose interest. And I don't care how interesting that other person over there finds character concept X, it has to be a character concept X that interests me or I'm gone.
What's maddening is that I have a perfectly good metaphor for big space battles and a perfectly good narrative framework shtick  but I need people to make the space battles happen. :(
 I'm so good at literary terminology, I know.
I'm going to go do laundry because the usefulness of my brain for the rest of today is done. Maybe tomorrow some of this will look less hopeless.
Joe says working at Starbucks would drive me crazy, which is probably true, but in all honesty working at Starbucks or fast food sounds like a good deal right now.
For a sample of what I mean by flashfic, here are a bunch (clicking on the "stories" tag will also take you to the DW posts).
 I want to make things. Unfortunately, making things frequently requires getting set up with tools.
The announcement of Dr Hilary Mansell’s engagement to Julian Fleming, the much younger owner of Larch Hill, comes as a shock to her nephew Sam, who knew Julian at Oxford. But Julian’s mother Elaine is not merely shocked, but overtly hostile. Given the intense, febrile relationship between mother and son, something has to snap.
legionseagle's work is always well-written, tightly plotted and impeccably well-researched, especially when it comes to the law and crime. This story is no exception and it was a perfect treat to read on the August Bank Holiday.
You can certainly read it without knowing Miss Marple and I expect that you could even read it without knowing Return to Night, but it brings a very welcome wider (and more than a little meta) perspective to what is, after all, a deeply weird canon.
Above all it's a story that's deeply Provocative of Thought if you've read RtN - and if you know me you know that's what I enjoy in fiction. The premise is very, very far away from anything that I would have considered plausible at first glance and yet it's fascinatingly and nigglingly consistent with canon at the same time. I've been musing on the story ever since I first read it and legionseagle has kindly given me permission to write a detailed review, which is below. Be warned that it's deeply spoilery and that these are the sort of spoilers that will affect your enjoyment of the story.
( Spoilers, I'm serious, right under here )
Fandom: Doctor Who
Summary: Vastra suffers a simple yet catastrophic mechanical malfunction, but fortunately, Jenny is around to save the day.
Pairings: Vastra/Jenny (pre-relationship)
Disclaimer: Not my characters or intellectual property.
Author's Notes: Okay so I wholeheartedly reject Vastra and Jenny's "canon" meeting. In fact, I reject all of Vastra and Jenny's "canon" from The Brilliant Book 2012. Ugh. So no knowledge of their personal canon or Doctor Who in general is necessary, as this is basically headcanon anyway XD
( Part One )
That being said, the book as a whole was awesomely depressing. Not only was it set in a yellow fever epidemic, not only did it contain a brief but absolutely horrifying torture sequence, but both the epidemic and the horrifying torture were actual historic events, ie, they really happened to real people. Also, dead children. Truly grimdark, though not gratuitously given that it’s real history. Not even Ben and Rose’s charming courtship and politicly crude policeman Abishag Shaw’s delightful way with words ("But I do think I should point out to you that even if Miss Chouteau gets cleared of Borgialatin the soup herself, it ain't gonna win her freedom,") can lift the general gloom.
I have been told that this and Sold Down the River are the darkest books in the whole series. However, I already started Graveyard Dust, and it looks like Hambly is careful to get new readers up to speed on events, so Fever Season is probably skippable if you like the characters but want to miss the awesome depressingness.
Spoilers: ( Read more... )