Ari's Fellow Rodents|
[Word of Mouse]
Below are 49 things that people who mostly aren't me have recently said.
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|Tuesday, June 18th, 2013|
[ conuly ]
|What I Learned About Author Platform By Spring-Cleaning My Blog
I’ve spent a significant part of the last twenty-four hours doing a spring-clean of petermball.com, going through a bunch of old posts and cleaning up broken links, adding tags that didn’t previously exist, and generally cleaning up some of the clutter in the category section to make it easier to find old content.
This proved to be a considerably weird task. I set out with no real plan when I launched the site in 2008, basing my approach to blogging on my experiences with livejournal and attempts to lift approaches to blogging from authors whose platforms I particularly enjoyed.
It’s also proved valuable to look at my old blogging habits with the benefit of hindsight, especially since I kicked things off with a very different mindset than I bring to the blog today. Since talking about author platform is one of our things at work (and I’m teaching Year of the Author Platform for QWC this year), I found myself taking notes as I went along.
IT ALL STARTED WITH CONNECTION
I found myself wincing an awful lot when I went through the first few years of posts. After going through the first six months, I felt the need to track down everyone who followed my blog in those days and apologise profusely for wasting their time.
While a lot of those early posts felt banal – and hell, lets be honest, they were banal in a lot of ways – they’re also an artifact of a different era in terms of the internet.
In 2008 Facebook was only just hitting maturity as a platform, three years into its rapid rise. Twitter was two years old at that point, but on the tail end of it’s first real growth spurt that plunged it into the public consciousness. Livejournal still seemed like a vibrant community hub, although the downward trend had started, and we still talked about MySpace as thought it had the potential to rise from the dead.
While there were undoubtedly writers out there who were ahead of the curve in terms of providing content, writers and readers alike were still in the tail end of the era where connection still seemed like an exciting thing.
AS PLATFORM TOOLS MATURE, YOUR APPROACH NEEDS TO EVOLVE
In 2008 were hundreds of authors – established and aspiring – who worked off the theory that building a platform meant showing up and letting people get a glimpse of your life: the day-to-day routine, the writing process, the successes and failures.
Move forward five or six years and the initial thrill of connection has largely played itself out. We’re no longer interested in seeing blog posts about the minutia of one-another’s lives – twitter and facebook handle that so much better – and the folks who have survived and thrived were the people providing quality content that engaged their readers.
Short version: we don’t really care what you did with your weekend anymore, unless you’re a writer we’ve already heavily invested in for other reasons.
KEEP YOUR CATEGORIES LEAN AND MEAN
My categories grew pretty organically when I started blogging, which would have been fine if I’d kept an eye on things and used the same ones over-and-over. Unfortunately, that isn’t the way things happened, and by the time I started the spring-clean there 3 categories packed with posts and over twenty categories on my blog that had 4 or fewer posts. Some of them existed as an in-joke, rather than a means of sorting and finding content on the blog.
Given how useful they are as a tool – and how important they are to a whole bunch of plug-ins – I really should have spent a little more time thinking these through when I started.
Now I’ve cut things back to eleven categories that serve as a better break-down of the kinds of things I’ve blogged about in the past, or plan to blog about in the future. The final wording for each category still needs to be fine-tuned, but they’re doing the job they’re meant to be doing.
“NOTHING” IS BETTER THAN “CLUTTER”
If you’re not inclined to keep your categories focused, I’d argue you’re better off not using them and focusing on tags instead. I can tell you from working my way through the nightmare that was this site, nothing is better than clutter.
Or, if you are going to create things on the fly, have a running list of what you’ve already created and using. It’ll keep you from having a list that includes, say, punk, punk music, punk rock, and punk videos, all doing the same thing.
STOP LIVING WITH WHAT USED TO WORK AND LEARN TO USE YOUR TOOLS
One of the reasons I didn’t put much thought into choosing WordPress as a CMS when I debuted. I picked it because it promised the possibility of cross-posting to livejournal, which seemed significantly more important in 2008.
Like many authors, I still had a fairly engaged community built up on LJ, and despite the logic behind starting a self-hosted site to “look more professional,” my focus (and comment threads) remained over there. I didn’t really embrace the strengths of WordPress and focused on making it act like Livejournal for a good year or two before I finally acknowledged that me and livejournal were done.
I could have saved myself an awful lot of time while spring-cleaning my content if I’d just learned how to use WordPress and its various features from the outset. If you’re going to use a new blogging system or social media tool, commit to it. Learn it’s strengths and figure out how to use its important features.
OLD CONTENT NEVER REALLY DIES
A lot of the day-to-day posts aren’t really interesting, but even going back to the early days of the site there were a handful of posts that were still relevant and useful. Pro-Bloggers and non-fiction writers have always known the value of having evergreen content that never goes out of date, but it never really seems to be on the radar of most fiction writers.
It’s worth paying attention to your archives, even if you’ve been a fairly day-by-day blogger. I’ve got a whole file full of stuff that I’d be happy to call attention to again, plus some posts where I did such a half-arsed job of explaining something that there’s probably some mileage to be had out of revisiting the topic.
GIVE CONTEXT TO OUTGOING LINKS
In the early days of this blog, I spent a little over a year posting youtube clips of my favourite songs every Friday. While I occasionally posted a lot of commentary with those links, there were just as many posts where I simply threw up the video and said enjoy, see you all Monday, peeps before disappearing.
There’s a time and a place for the occasional quick link or youtube clip, but it’s worth noting that internet isn’t the most permanent of places. Youtube account get cancelled. Blogs get shut down. Someone re-organises their site and a whole bunch of incoming links end up broken.
These days I tend to do a lot more of my link-sharing over on twitter, where the fast pace means the lack of permanence isn’t as big an issue, but when you’re posting links from a blog, make sure you give the reader (and yourself) some context about what they’re going to find on the far side. This will allow them to figure out if trying to find the link is worthwhile, and also gives them some insight into what should be typed into Google in order to find the information you’re looking for.
PLACE THE MOST TRUST IN THE TOOLS YOU OWN
For all the mistakes I made kicking off this site, it still remains the smartest thing I’ve done in terms of developing an author platform. It provides a central hub from which everything else happens, a stable core to my online activities that can adept with the changing internet.
The best metaphor I’ve seen in this regard comes from Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform, where he points out that we’re essentially renting our space on services like twitter, facebook, and, yes, livejournal. We’re at the mercy of the people who run those services, and when they cease to be profitable, those services can go away.
Using a website you pay for as the core of your online presence makes sense, because it means that you’re the one who decides how long it stays online and what happens to the content you put there.
If you’re going to invest in learning to use any part of your platform well, start with your site and work out from there. Everything else you’re renting, but your site is the one thing you own.
Originally published at PeterMBall.com. Please leave any comments there.
|Monday, June 17th, 2013|
|Thank you to my readers (Spiritwalker Monday 1)
The official publication date of COLD STEEL is June 25 for both e-book and print editions in English, worldwide (as far as I know; there may be some regions where it comes out later and if so, please let me know).
I’m always anxious when a new book comes out. That anxiety is amplified when the book in question is the final book of a trilogy because naturally, being the writer, I want people to like it and to feel satisfied with the ending. As always, some will love it, some like it, some will be disappointed, and a few will be puzzled, but mostly most readers will have no idea the book is out because they haven’t heard of it. That’s the nature of the business (especially when you aren’t a bestseller, as I’m not).
So I want to take a moment this week to say:
THANK YOU to my readers
Some of you love all my books. Some like one series more than the others. Some have only read one series or even just one book. One or two have thrown a book I wrote across the room in disgust. Some are trying out my novels for the first time. Some of you write to me or show up at my book events. Some I will never know are out there reading. Some are my friends; most are strangers. And you guys live all over the world.
It’s not that my writing doesn’t exist without readers. It does, and writing exists and lives and breathes even if what is written is only ever seen by the person who wrote it.
To me what happens between a written work and a reader is a creative act all on its own, an interaction that usually takes place in privacy and in silence while being no less vivid and powerful for that. In these days of social media the discussion can range farther afield and reach more people than ever, which is both really cool and kind of daunting and scary. But it always comes back to what I put on the page and what you, the reader, take away from the page.
Thank you for meeting me halfway.
Also, you all are the best.
Mirrored from I Make Up Worlds.
|Don't you know my name?
I forgot this metric in my last post, but it can fill a post all its own.
Things what don't have names yet:
The hijra temple
The wing in the palace where the king's close advisors live
The street where the Iskari embassy is
The name of the embassy (e.g. the Something House or the Something Serai)
The street where Varis lives
Selafaïn method of execution
The Iskari royal palace
Anyone want to name a street or a butler? Current Mood: working
|And the shadows smile and kiss...
The Poison Court
Words today: 781
Reason for stopping: quota, and end of scene
Darling: Like a spider’s web in the moonlight, tangled stands flashing, fading in and out of shadow. But this web was made of wire, ready to slice her at the slightest misstep.
Mean things: Being nineteen and heartbroken; political marriages; being engaged to a heartbroken nineteen-year-old.
Today I stopped to work out a few of the various layers of crossing and double-crossing going on around here. Why do I write political thrillers, again, and not simple books with punching and boyfriends? Or whatever simple books are made of.
I had promised myself a 25k present, but ended up getting a 20k present. The coffee shop where I write is next to a vintage store. I walked in today and found myself staring at a pair of oxblood Luccheses. They walked out with me. I will take them dancing on Wednesday, I think. Current Mood: working
|Kate Elliott Readings/Signings in late June/early July
To support the release of the third and final volume of the Spiritwalker Trilogy I will be at the following bookstores/events:
Borderlands Books, San Francisco, CA: Thursday June 27 at 7 pm
866 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
with Katharine Kerr who will also have a new book out. Exciting!
Mysterious Galaxy San Diego, Saturday June 29 at 2 pm
7051 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Suite 302
San Diego, CA 92111
with Nebula-Award-winning author Andy Duncan and Clarion students (should be fun AND educational).
New York CIty: NYRSF reading Tuesday July 2 at 7 p.m. (doors open 6:30 p.m.)
The Soho Gallery for Digital Art
138 Sullivan Street
New York, NY 10012
with E. C. Ambrose who has a debut novel!
University Bookstore, Seattle, WA: Monday July 8 at 7 pm
4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
JUST ME OH GOD PLEASE COME SO I”M NOT ALL ALONE
Powells Beaverton, Portland OR: Tuesday July 9 at 7 pm
3415 SW Cedar Hills Boulevard
Beaverton, OR 97005
With Lilith Saintcrow! Trust me, you won’t want to miss this.
All events will include reading from Cold Steel, from my forthcoming YA fantasy, and maybe even from the epic fantasy trilogy I’m currently working on, or possibly I will read a short story.
PLUS Q&A (you have to bring the Qs).
If I do not yet have print copies of The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal available (art by the awesome Julie Dillon!!!!) I will have fliers with order information and a place to sign up with your email/address to get notification when the print and e-book versions are ready for purchase.
Please know that I would love to see you. Yes, you! Especially YOU!
(And your friends, family, or indeed any passers-by you can snag off the street.)
A note on bookstore events: I’m signing at four well-regarded and valued independent bookstores. You may bring personal books from home for me to sign. It is not required to buy (for example) Cold Steel or any book from the bookstore but it is always a strong show of support for independent bookstores if you can and do buy a copy of my newest book or, indeed, any book while you’re there (whether or not it is one of mine).
If you’re not able to make the event, I do always sign stock at each bookstore so you can order a signed copy afterward. If you contact any of the bookstores IN ADVANCE you can reserve a book and get it signed to you at the event (by me! not some random book signing gnome).
Mirrored from I Make Up Worlds.
|Impending Con, and what she would do there
This coming weekend is 4th St. Fantasy convention–it’s not too late! you can still get at-the-door memberships!–and I cannot wait. I love 4th St. so much. It’s the people, and the passionate focus on story, and all the conversation. (I also like music parties. But music parties do tend to come with at least a little conversation too.) I’m hoping to finish the story I’m working on now so that I can have the newish novel stuff at the top of my head while thinking 4th St. thoughts.
Here’s what I’m doing formally this year:
Friday 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM: Short Fiction. Michael Merriam (Moderating), David Levine, Marissa Lingen, Michael D. Thomas. It can be challenging to bring worlds to life at novel length, much less in a handful of pages. What are the specific challenges of writing fantastic fiction at short lengths, and what are some ways in which short fiction’s effects and goals differ from those of novels? What strategies can be used to overcome these challenges, and how much grounding in genre protocols does a reader need to be able to unpack short- form fantasies?
Saturday 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM: Tell, Don’t Show. Emma Bull (Moderating), Steven Brust, David Levine, Marissa Lingen, Skyler White. Let’s talk about exposition! Authors like James Michener, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Francis Spufford have written novels that break all the “rules” about people hating exposition, and sometimes it’s better to just come out and tell readers things (c.f. Douglas Adams). What’s going on here, and what techniques and insights can we glean from it?
I am also hosting a lunch for people who are new to Fourth Street and want to meet people and hang out and like that. That’ll be Sunday. I have been trying to reach out to new people each 4th St., because it’s my con, and I want it to be friendly and welcoming, so when Cathy started arranging somewhat more formal stuff for welcoming new people this year, I figured I should sign up. I’ll be interested to see how it goes.
|PAR Article: Edward Snowden, Ars, the NSA, and me: digging through the past of the gamer who changed
Ben Kuchera: “Also interesting: Snowden interacted a lot with Ben Kuchera, way back.” That tweet was sent while I was at E3, and of course the writer used my Twitter name, which meant I saw it. Twitter is weird that way, as long as someone uses your Twitter account’s name, you see every conversation about you, even if people aren’t talking to you. It's like the stinkier version of your palm itching if money is coming your way; you can see every argument and petty disagreement in which you're involved. I was aware of Edward Snowden, the now-famous NSA technical worker…
|i dreamed i saw the typhoon spit and walked into the heart of it
I got up this morning and went for an 11 mile run. It was supposed to be 13, but the sun caught me and I ran out of Gatorade. Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor--and I decided two more miles was not worth puking.
Now I am drinking Vietnamese coffee and sitting on the sofa, like somebody who has used up all her virtupitude for the day.
My stepcat was just in the corner suspiciously sniffing an old signing poster of Scott's that's been there for a month. Only now does it become a potentially threatening object. Cats. Or maybe he's just now figured out what Dad does for a living?
In other Scott-related news, this
In writer-related news, non-Scott-related, the UK/Australian publication of John Joseph Adams' Wastelands anthology has occurred
And Publishers Weekly
has given Book of Iron
an absolutely bang-up review. (linky
) (text follows)
Book of Iron
Elizabeth Bear. Subterranean (www.subterraneanpress.com
), $20 (128p) ISBN 978-1-59606-474-4
Friends are the family we choose, a maxim that lies at the heart of this short but sharp novella, which ties in to Bear’s Eternal Sky novel series. Bijou the Artificer (first met in 2010’s Bone and Jewel Creatures, here young and eager for adventure) joins the immortal Maledysaunte on a quest to the abandoned city of Ancient Erem to stop Dr. Liebelos, a precisian (wizard of orderliness), from summoning the Iron Book. With them go a crew of allies with mixed motives, including Kaulas the Necromancer, who is Bijou’s lover and rival, and the wizard Salamander, Maledysaunte’s companion and daughter to Dr. Liebelos. Under skies whose moons and suns vary in number, they must confront the threats of legendary beasts and betrayal. Bear injects the fizz of the Roaring ’20s (including travel by roadster, automatic pistols , aeroplanes, and silent movies) into a thoughtful exploration of dealing with loss. Agent: Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/17/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013 Current Mood: exanimate
|News Post: Technomology
Tycho: Occasionally, Microsoft will decide that there is a mystical distinction between versions of its operating system, creating a scenario where a new version is the only one with the latest DirectX - what you might call “forward compatibility.” But compatibility going the other way is something you don’t consider on PCs. The only time I’ve ever had it become a serious problem was when my computer was now too good. And even that can be ameliorated. What’s sort of funny about the whole thing was that the original Xbox - gah, which I keep calling…
|Vietnamese poetry 101
Aka, why make it simple when I can make it complicated…
One of the things I really love about a language is listening to the music of its poetry/folk songs/etc. (I spent a lot of my formative years in English reading the Norton Anthology of Poetry); and it’s always fascinating to see how different languages approach poetry, even though it means that poetry has to be the most untranslatable form of text. Vietnamese poetry doesn’t put quite so much emphasis on rhyme as French poetry (mostly, I suspect, because it’s really easy to make words rhyme in Vietnamese). The major feature is how it uses the tonal system to create its patterns, and it takes great advantage of the language’s conciseness to deliver its punch. I can’t really pretend I understand much of how it works, being only a novice, but here’s my attempt at dissecting a poem.
The source is John Balaban’s Ca Dao Viet Nam, basically folk songs from the villages; the poem itself is interesting in that any attempt at faithful translation is bound to be much, much longer than the original, not only because of the language issue, but also because the text itself is filled with Buddhist imagery that doesn’t translate all that well in English.
“Thức tỉnh hồn mê tiếng chuông Linh Mụ
Dặn dò nợ trần duyên rửa sạch
Qua đò đã tây phương.”
“Thức tỉnh hồn mê tiếng chuông Linh Mụ”
“Thức tỉnh” is “to be enlightened, to see reason”; “hồn” is “soul”, mê” is “unaware, unconscious”, I think in the sense that said soul hasn’t been enlightened yet. “tiếng chuông” is “the peal of a bell” (but in this context, it’s interesting to see that “tiếng” also means language). Linh Mụ is a famous pagoda in Huế.
So the sentence would translate something like “The sound of Linh Mu’s bell awakens the unmindful soul”
“Dặn dò nợ trần duyên rửa sạch”
Dặn dò is “advise, recommend”, “nợ” is a debt (a karmic debt, in this context), “trần” I’m not too sure of (the dictionary suggests “ceiling”, “maximum”). “duyên” is a completely untranslatable Vietnamese word that means “bound to meet as lovers or friends [in a future life]“. “rửa sạch” is “wash”. So probably something like “Reminds it to incur no debt, washes it clean of worldly bounds”
“Qua đò đã tây phương”
“Qua đò” is “cross over/board a ferry”, “đã” is the past indicator, and “tây phương” is the Western Place, a Buddhist paradise. So “[has] already crossed over to the Western Place”. What’s missing is the subject of the actual sentence–from context I’m assuming it’s “the soul” of the first sentence, but I could be wrong…
So, putting it all together, should be
“The sound of Linh Mu’s bell awakens the unmindful soul
Reminds it to incur no debt, washes it clean of worldly bounds
Helps it to reach the Western Place”
And you pretty much see why this is hard-as-nails to translate properly, as I had to leave half the meanings out of the translation; not to mention that this is a really ugly translation, word-wise…
(Of course, I never pretended to be a very good translator, and poetry is as hard as nails to get–there’s a couple words I’m not sure I understand properly, and while I understand every word in the last sentence I’m not entirely too sure my interpretation is the one that’d most likely occur to a native speaker. But I figured it’d be fun to share my struggles)
Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard
Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.
|What a Splendid Weekend
We went in to the city on Saturday and saw Pippin and Cinderella. We stayed over night in the city. Then Sunday we went to the Mets game and watched them win in the bottom of the ninth inning. Caroline got to run the bases, which she loved. All in all a rather spectacular weekend.
Pippin was incredible. The use of the circus motif just added to the play rather than distracted from it. Andrea Martin stole the first act with her rendition of “No Time At All”. Terrance Mann is, well, Terrance Mann. I have a new version of an old meme I have seen Terrance Mann right a unicycle, your argument is irrelevant.
Patina Miller did a splendid job of Leading Player. The Fosse choreography was used vey well and I bet Mr. Fosse would have loved working with the performers to see how far they could push it since he would have had acrobats and contortionists to work with that could also dance. Matthew James Thomas was an excellent Pippin and was very giving of the stage to others. It is one of those productions that will still be talked about 10 years down the road. It is the Pippin that all other Pippins to come will be measured against. And for those who know the show, they used the alternate ending very well.
Cinderella was Caroline’s favorite of the two musicals. She enjoyed Pippin a lot but Cinderella was more her speed. It was done the way that a classic Broadway musical would have been done if Rogers and Hammerstein had taken it to Broadway at the time of the first TV version. The cast was solid. Laura Osnes has a lovely voice and that wistful expression one must have to play Ella. Victoria Clark did a wonderful job as the Fairy Godmother. We saw the Broadway debut of Andy Jones in the role of Topher (the Prince) and both Peter and I think we saw the start of a long Broadway career. This kid was really good and he has that presence that cannot be taught but is innate in an actor.
We spent the night in the city because it seemed a little silly to drive back home and then get up very early and drive out to Citi Field. We had a nice breakfast at Ellen Stardust Diner. Ariel joined us afterwards and we trekked out to Citi Field to meet up with Gwen and her fiancé. The seats we got were under the overhang just enough that we were never in direct sunlight which was nice since the breeze kept us cool and we didn’t have to worry about sunburn. And the Mets won. Bottom of the ninth and a homer had to do it but it was worth the disappointment of all the other innings because they won. Afterwards they had run the bases for the kids, which Caroline did and almost took Mr. Met’s hand off with a serious high five. We were glad we were driving east going home because the west side of the LI was a disaster from Queens to the Suffolk line.
Peter was very happy with his Father’s Day weekend. Caroline gave him a big hug and told him that she was glad that she could celebrate Father’s Day with him and he was getting better. The implication being that the stroke could have made that day very sad for her. Rather heavy thoughts for a 10 year old.
I am grateful that we could celebrate Father’s Day with Peter.
|Sunday, June 16th, 2013|
Full list of art contest entries below (please check to see if your entry is on here, and if not, let me know where to find it. Also, don't worry if you see some entries listed twice. I don't think I duplicated, but since it is judged, not randomly chosen, it doesn't represent an advantage).( EntriesCollapse )
|Monday, June 17th, 2013|
|Joe Hill’s Secret to Achieving Creative Focus
One of the things that makes the great truly great is their ability to make difficult things seem effortless, at least when they’re looked upon from the outside. It’s one of the reasons I’m intrigued by seeing the process of great writers up close, even if I’m long past the stage where I believe there’s some mysterious secret to writing that will unlock everything.
In this respect, Joe Hill’s tumblr post on creative math achieves greatness twice over. It makes his writing itself seem effortless, while simultaneously acknowledging the effort that goes into his work, and its a distillation of a great deal of complex thought and experience into a single elegant point:
what’s my trick for staying focused on a project? Happiness. I follow pleasure. It makes me feel good to stay focused on one thing at a time, to pour myself fully into it, so that’s what I do. I think any creative act usually grows naturally from enjoyment. Experiment with your approach and see what gives you the best high… then do that.
via Creative math: 1 > 2 at Joe Hill’s Thrills
When you consider the overall complexity of Hill’s creative output – he’s a novelist, a comic-book writer, and a damn fine short fiction writer – this advice seems wildly counter-intuitive. Monthly comic books have deadlines that roll through faster than novel deadlines, which means you naturally end up having to stop one and work on the other.
Judging by the rest of his post, Hill’s secret doesn’t seem to be working on something until it’s done, but creating hard edges to the times he devotes to a project. When he does a chunk of novel, he looks for a natural stopping point and allows it to lie fallow until he’s ready to pick it up again.
Given some of my recent reading into the power of incubating creative work, this too seems like solid advice for creative-types with multiple projects running.
Originally published at PeterMBall.com. Please leave any comments there.
|Sunday, June 16th, 2013|
|Man of Steel (Spoilers Ahoy)
For Father’s Day, we went out to see Man of Steel. I had been seeing mixed reactions over this one, and been (willingly) spoiled for one of the things that happens at the end, so my expectations weren’t tremendous. Memories of Superman Returns probably helped keep my hopes from getting overly high. But going in with that mindset, I mostly enjoyed the movie. I liked Amy Adams as Lois Lane a lot, and thought Henry Cavill made a pretty good Superman. Laurence Fishburne was sadly wasted in his role as Perry White. I liked a lot of what Russell Crowe did as Jor-El, though.
I think Christopher Reeve will always be my Superman, just like David Tennant will always be my Doctor. Reeve brought a bit more fun and heart, and a less angst. But unlike Superman Returned, which tried and failed to duplicate what had been done before, Man of Steel tried to do something new, and I give them points for that.
Storywise, the last thing I’ll say before moving into spoiler territory is when they do Man of Steel II, I’d like More Character Development and Less Destroying ALL THE THINGS, please.
( Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
|Books read, early June
Daniel Abraham, The Tyrant’s Law. I am about as big a fan of the middle book as you might hope to find, and golly, this was almost too much middle even for me. It is very, very much a chunk off the next bit, and I can see that it’s going somewhere, but it was not in any great hurry to get there. Also, for the usual “too much boyfriend, not enough roller derby,” read, “too many spiders, not enough banking.” Still intend to be going on with the series, but I persist in hoping for more banking even though I know there probably won’t be that much more.
Louisa May Alcott, The Mysterious Key and What It Opened. Kindle. I had intended to read one of Alcott’s “adult” things at some point and downloaded some to my Kindle towards that end. This was a pretty cliched Gothic with a happy ending completely out of left field. If you are not an Alcott completist or happy with any Gothic no matter how badly executed, I would leave this one be.
R. J. Anderson, Quicksilver. Sequel to Ultraviolet. Even better due to not being set in a mental hospital. Seriously, very nearly everything about this book is a spoiler for the previous one, even though it stands alone pretty well. It would be trivially easy to use the first word of the first sentence you wanted to utter about this book and have it be a spoiler, and they’re not that old/widely read. So: non-dystopian YA SF, variety of interesting characters and relationships. (Including elderly Korean Presbys! Yay!) Recommended, but start with the first one if you think you might want to read the first one at all.
Carole Angier, The Double Bond: Primo Levi: A Biography. Grandpa’s. This was an incredibly hard book to read because of its subject matter (for those of you who don’t know Primo Levi’s work, he was a writer and chemist who survived Auschwitz and killed himself some years later). In some ways it was even harder but also more special because it’s the only book I have found so far in my grandpa’s collection in which he marked page numbers on the jacket flap. Having read those pages, I could only conclude that they were passages Grandpa found particularly moving. He would call me to share “interesting” or “funny” passages–I am still running into those, bit by bit, as I read–but not moving. That was not a type of communication about his inner life that my old Norsky Marine grandpa was much given to. So having that window was especially wonderful, and also very very difficult. I cried a couple of times. This is an exhaustive biography, and I think it will be mostly of interest to fans of Levi’s and people with special interest in Italian Jewry and its intersection with the Holocaust. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really quite well done. It’s just that it is a gigantic, legitimately depressing book, and people often want a reason to pick up one of those.
R. J. Astruc, Signs Over the Pacific and Other Stories. Discussed elsewhere. Kindle.
Lois McMaster Bujold, Sidelines: Talks and Essays. Kindle. Interesting to see how Lois’s thoughts on her work and the world have evolved, and how some things are quite constant. Fun background stuff here. Somewhat repetitive towards the end, but she warns you early on about that, so I think it’s fair play.
Junot Diaz, Drown. Short stories in the slice of life vein, very well-written, and the life they are slicing is that of a young Dominican/Dominican-American man, so it wasn’t “ho hum, yes, how like unto everything else this is” for me, the way some kinds of slice of life can be. Also I generally could see why stories began and ended where they did, which is one of the failure modes of slice of life for me. I enjoyed Oscar Wao more (more nerds and more arc), but this was worth my time.
Jane Fletcher Geniesse, Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark. Biography of a woman who traveled extensively in the Middle East in the early and middle parts of the 20th century and wrote about her travels. Interesting person, interesting bio. Goes in a nice set with Gertrude Bell stuff. Was probably the worst biography I read this fortnight without being at all bad.
Merrie Haskell, Handbook for Dragon Slayers. Discussed elsewhere.
T.H. Huxley, William Harvey and the Circulation of the Blood. Kindle. I just keep nibbling at Huxley’s speeches so I can do his voice for a future project. They are generally what they say on the tin–I’m just soaking up word choice here.
Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies. Very immersive style, very funny, lots of Boleyns and Seymours and Cromwells. These books are so discussed at the moment that I feel a bit superfluous, but I think she does a very good job of incluing the things that want inclued for people who don’t have a course in Tudor and Stuart England under their belts.
Val McDermid, A Darker Domain. I liked this entire book except the last half-page, and I see why she did it that way, it just…meh. But the rest of it was well worth it. This one is a mystery about the disappearance of a husband/father/union man during a miners’ strike, and like the other two McDermids I’ve enjoyed and recommended, it’s a mystery along two timelines, with very vivid setting, characterization, and eye to social detail.
Marla R. Miller, Betsy Ross and the Making of America. This book was probably the big discovery of the fortnight. I’m going around raving about it to everyone. I expected very little of it. It was one of those things that made my library list on the “huh, might as well” principle. And wow. Wow. So very many interesting things about colonial and federalist America that tie in so very well with this one historical figure. Early American Quakers and their foibles and schisms! The upholstering and furniture trade! Craftswomen of the period and their working lives! The treatment and consideration of the mentally ill in this period! So! Much! Stuff! Such cool stuff. Highly recommended for fabulists who are trying to look outside the kings-and-generals model, among other things. Okay, just a taste. Both of Betsy’s parents were living when her apprenticeship papers got signed. Guess who made the arrangements? Not her dad. Not her mom. Her grandma. I ended up just loving this book.
Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, The Man on the Balcony. Depressing Swedish crime novel, check.
Jenny Uglow, A Gambling Man: Charles II’s Restoration Game. I think perhaps I know too many academics. This was a quite good book on the Restoration, and I will look for more of Uglow’s work. I do recommend it to interested parties. But the central metaphor of the title…seemed tacked on at the last minute to me. It felt almost as though she wrote the book and then tried to figure out a way to make it more cohesive; or else as though she did not have the time to develop it as she had hoped. If one of my academic friends had sent me this manuscript, I would have talked to them about bringing out the central metaphor–or dropping it, because it was a fine and interesting book without it.
Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun, Memoirs. Kindle. Several times reading this, I said, “Oh, honey,” out loud. Because the memoirist…does not seem to have gotten a great many visits from the self-awareness fairy. (It did not call upon Versailles or the tsar’s court all that often, so this is probably not surprising.) She was a painter from the mid-late 18th century well into the 19th century but never seems to have grasped what exactly the peasants were so ill-bred as to be annoyed about. Valuable perspective on several things, but valuable and wise are not at all the same thing here.
Mark Wolverton, A Life in Twilight: The Final Years of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Kindle. When you’re writing biographical material about someone who has already had a pretty definitive biography, specialization is your friend, and that’s very much the case here. Wolverton is not pretending that Bird and Sherwin didn’t write their bio, he’s building on it and elaborating on a part of Oppenheimer’s life that was fairly glossed over in their take. Nicely done. Of course, I have most of my ideas about Oppenheimer from personal conversations with one of the people Wolverton appears to have also consulted for this book, so it’s not entirely a surprise that I think so. Still, knowing who to listen to is a good trait in a biographer, or in fact in any historian. This should not be the first thing you read about J. Robert Oppenheimer, but if you have any interest in the topic it should definitely be on the list.
|More Judah shit.
Yes, still uncovering stuff about Judah.
Bringing together scattered thoughts from elsenet:
The morning after Judah Sher raped me, he packed up his laptop, clothes, and insulin before he left the house. Yeah, he knew. I noticed that the entire stash of insulin was gone from the fridge that Friday afternoon, post assault-and-battery. 100% premeditated. He planned to do things that would preclude him returning to the house. (He wasn't in the kitchen the day of the assault & battery. Had to have taken the insulin the previous day.)
I've been trying to figure out why the escalation to assault and battery when he had to know that would be the end - he could have kept emotionally abusing me for god knows how long, but the minute it got physical, boom. What I've arrived at is that it was the police report of the rape that triggered it. Once he knew I'd reported, that he'd failed to play it off, that I'd realized what he'd done - he knew that the minute I said the words aloud to a cop, it was all over. I e-mailed him after I made the report. He came over the next morning, lured me to the smallest room in the house (because it didn't make sense for him to go there - he only had two things in that room, neither of which he ever used), and beat me up. He knew he'd lost my trust for good, and he knew I was going to end it.
So he decided to get a few punches in on the way out.
And then he was surprised when I called the cops. I think he thought he'd leave me in a puddle of fear and shame, triggered and alone. It's remarkable how well he copied a domestic violence scene I wrote in my novel-in-progress, actually. He studied. But I am not my novel's protagonist. So he did not get the desired result.( Trigger warning for animal abuse (Judah broke Victoria's leg, is what actually happened).Collapse )
I know I said she fell. I know I never lie. My code is that I can lie only to protect others. I was protecting him. There have been a lot of omissions to protect him, but I believe this was the only outright lie.
The vet knew. And probably also knew that I was in a DV situation before I did. "She fell" sounds a lot like "I walked into a door" or "I fell down the stairs".
There are so many little things. Like he wouldn't let me go to dinner with mangosteen
alone when we were in a rough patch, he insisted on accompanying us. Like changing his mind on driving me to ConBust and to an October writer event last-minute, leaving me breaking professional commitments. So many things.
|GIG 099: Redd Kross - Camden Palace - 14/04/92
GIG 099: Redd Kross - Camden Palace - 14/04/92
We ended up at the Feet First club at Camden Palace as they were having "Album Preview Launch" for The Cure's "Wish" album - their first album since the stunning "Distintegration" back in 1989.
Camden Palace was a favourite of mine for many years as every Tuesday they'd have a massive alternate/indie club night with a band on stage at around midnight. The bands could be a bit hit or miss - from established acts playing a lowkey secret warm-up gig to acts which were getting a lot of buzz in the music papers as the 'next breakthrough act' - which some were but many others ended up not being.
On this evening it was the turn of a Californaian band called Redd Kross - who I thought were bloody awful.
A whole bunch of us went along to this (because of The Cure preview) so shout outs to Martin, Michelle, Emily and Kim amongst others.
|GIG 098: Witching Hour / Venus Fly Trap - The Scream Club - 08/03/92
GIG 098: Witching Hour / Venus Fly Trap - The Scream Club - 08/03/92
From the metal of Zodiac to 'very much a goth band' with The Witching Hour for my next gig of 1992.
Now this one was held somewhere called "The Scream Club" which I can remember absolutely nothing about (the club that is). I suspect it was actually the backroom of a pub similar to The Water Rats of something. In anycase I think this was the only time I went.
With me on this outing were Dawn and Michael . The Witching Hour themselves were pretty good but their support on the night, Venus Fly Trap, were pretty dire.
|GIG 097: Zodiac Mindwarp / Terrorvision / Doctor Rain - Town & Country Club - 15/02/92
GIG 097: Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction / Terrorvision / Doctor Rain - Town & Country Club - 15/02/92
Zodiac Mindwrap's "Tattooed Beat Messiah" was an album I listened to quite a bit when it was released back in 1988 and on-and-off for a few years afterwards. It's actually an album I rebrought myself a few years ago on CD and whilst I don't listen to them very often any more it does get the occasional airplay here.
I was really pleased I managed to see Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction first time round (as such) as they split in the mid-90's but have since reformed, produced new albums and tour again. I've no idea what their new stuff is like though. All I can say is that it was great seeing tarcks like "Prime Mover", "Back Seat Education" and "Tattooed Beat Messiah" live.
The other notable thing about this gig was the support bands. Now both were very good for starters (with support bands being quite hit and miss sometimes) and whilst I never heard of Doctor Rain again the other support band went on to do some great things in their own right and was one that I've ended up seeing numerous times over the years - Terrorvision.
|Yes, I Still Believe a Man Can Fly
Originally published at Mouseferatu: Rodent of the Dark. You can comment here or there.
So… Man of Steel.
I liked it. I didn’t love it, but I liked it a lot.
First, the non-spoilery stuff:
I liked pretty much every casting choice. I think a few people were wasted, but hopefully they’ll have bigger parts in future movies. Henry Caville is Superman, AFAIAC. Nobody’ll ever replace Christopher Reeve for me, but I’m happy to have Caville do any number of these.
I disagree, strongly, with the people who say it’s soulless. It lacks the whimsy of the Reeve movies, but then, it also lacks the problematic slapstick. There are several scenes of joy/excitement, however. Maybe not as many as there could/should have been, but the movie is hardly dreary through and through.
I felt that some of the action sequences went too far. There’s only so much destruction you can wreak on a city before–even in a comic book movie–it becomes unbelievable. The Avengers pushed up against that line. Man of Steel… Well, leapt across it in a single bound.
And I do think it was lacking in terms of seeing Superman, well, protect people. There seemed very little effort made to acknowledge the bystanders in any of the massive throwdowns.
But in the final analysis, it felt like a Superman movie. I bought Caville as Clark, Amy Adams as Lois, etc. Wasn’t quite as happy with Zod, but that’s just because I have a fixed image of Zod in my head, and this wasn’t quite it. It didn’t not work for me.
The other stuff I want to discuss requires spoilers, so…
Read the rest of this entry »
|Saturday, June 15th, 2013|
|The Incest Song - a translation
A friend from Sweden has recently been sharing with me a bunch of her favorite songs - although, as I'm aggressively monolingual like most Americans, she's had to translate them first. Needless to say, they lose a bit of punch along the way; as one of my favorite (if horrendously misogynist) quips goes, "A translation is like a wife - it can be beautiful, or it can be faithful, but not both."
However, this particular song
entertained me enough that I decided to sit down with a rhyming dictionary and see if I could smooth her translation out into a decent English rendition. I'm pretty pleased with how it came out - maybe I'll add it to the guitar repertoire. (Slightly off-color lyrics follow, as you might guess from the title.)The Incest Song
When I first met Marie-Louise, oh wow, I was in love.
I told my dad how she would make a wife I'd be proud of
But then he said "I'm sorry, Son, her mother will attest,
"I fathered her, you can't marry - 'cos that would be incest."
Then I met a new girl and we got a little wild.
It wasn't long until we found Linnéa was with child
But when her mother saw my dad she nearly went berserk
"You let him knock his sister up?" --it wasn't going to work.
Anita and Carina; Britt, Louise and Shawn. Oh a
hundred other girls who turned out were my father's spawn
I loved them all, but every time their mother knew my pop,
And our relation meant that our engagement was a flop.
I'm sure you understand, my friends, that I was getting pissed
I found that I was brother to every girl I'd ever kissed!
I had no more desire, my libido hit new lows
So I went to my mother to unburden all my woes.
"Oh, my beloved son," she said, "if you'll let me be frank,
"We all know that your dad's a jackass of the highest rank,
"So marry any girl you like - you see, you're really blessed,
"'Cos he's not actually your dad - so it won't be incest."Originally posted at http://missroserose.dreamwidth.org/862564.html because all the cool kids are on Dreamwidth now. If you're not worried about being cool, you can still comment here. Current Mood: amused
|Sunday, June 16th, 2013|
|Saturday, June 15th, 2013|
|Hannibal 1x12: "Relevés"
BEFORE THE SHOW@cleolinda:
I am straight-up drinking through tonight's episode. #SOEXCITED #SOSCARED
AFTER THE SHOW@cleolinda:
I'm not okay, you guys, everything is terrible, I'm not okaaaaaay, oh God I can't wait to recap this
We're beyond Worst at Helping, guys. Beyond Kelvin Worst, beyond Unmitigated Fucker. We're beyond words
for whatever this is.( NOTHING WILL BE OKAY EVER AGAINCollapse )ETA: SPOILER POLICY FOR COMMENTS.
Short version: MY SHOW INNOCENCE IS PRECIOUS TO ME.
|Lessons in fire say touch the flame
This morning, in an attempt to do some research for Changeling Hearts
and in my effort to generally Try Cool Stuff, I took a glassblowing class. This was immensely fun. It was a three-hour class with two other students, and we each made a (lopsided, in my case) paperweight, witch globe/hanging ornament thingy, and a drinking glass*.
2100 degrees Fahrenheit is pretty damn revelatory, I must say. But I didn't flinch over-much, and I didn't pass out--which is a real possibility--and I only had a mild case of heat sickness by the time we were done. Which I promptly exacerbated by going to a seedy parking lot carnival this afternoon--one of those where every ride seems on the brink of flying off its moorings and killing dozens. I've replaced previous evening plans with lying in bed finishing Hemlock Grove
and waiting for the queasiness to pass.
* Student involvement in the drinking glass-making process was minimal, probably because a) we would have fucked it up, and b) we were short on time. Current Mood: exanimate
|GIG 095 : ? - The Dandy Lion 03/02/92 + GIG 096: Rib - The Dandy Lion 10/02/92
GIG 095 : ? - The Dandy Lion 03/02/92
GIG 096: Rib - The Dandy Lion 10/02/92
Typical Monday 'students' night at The Dandy Lion on Barnet High Street. I haven;t got a clue who the band on the 3rd February was (so they must have made an impression!) and Rib on the 10th were pretty poor but atleast got a namecheck in my diary!
I do know that we had great company on both nights though with the likes of Dawn, Alex, Nick, Julie, Mark, Katrina, Lucy, Steve, etc all there.
The Dandy Lion's Monday nights were always more about the company, mucking around and dancing than the bands in anycase, so I'm really not surprised that I don't remember more of them and that most of the bands that played there were fairly poor.
|GIG 094: New Model Army / Joolz / Sunshot - Brixton Academy - 19/12/91
GIG 094: New Model Army / Joolz / Sunshot - Brixton Academy - 19/12/91
After seeing New Model Army for the first time in the open air supporting The Mission during the summer (GIG 087) this was my first chance to catch them headlining their own show.
The show had an absolutely fantastic line-up too - with Joolz and Sunshot making it a brilliant evening. NMA themselves were fantastic - in fact I think they are amongst the very short list of bands that I can honestly say have never been anything less than really enjoyable every time I've seen them. There was, and still is, something about their concerts that just picks me up and carries me effortlessly along for the night and keeps me buzzing for days afterwards.
|Marigold dust all over my fingers
My friend Peg has a post in which she is talking about All The Things, All the Many Many Things, and she says:
I fret about how everything, but everything, expands into a million marigold petals when I touch it. I want to scrape at the scale on my bathroom faucet with a toothpick, and to paint my living room myself, and to redo every inch of my yard. I plan to find the pillow for the cover that’s been made out of my wedding dress, and the upholsterer I’d hoped to ask about recovering my dining room chairs has gone out of business. I resent work for taking time away from studying.
And yes. Oh my yes. The world–my world–is full of things that want doing. Some of them want doing now. Some of the ones that want doing now are just not going to get done. But the biggest thing here is that I’m trying to keep the opportunities and leave the fretting behind. I don’t think we want to go without seeing all the things that can be better, the awesome things that can exist but don’t, all the opportunities that this kind of reaction to the world gives us. I’m just trying to let go of the component that fusses and keep the component that sees.
This is harder than it looks.
It’s not easy–but it’s easier–when I’m comparing things I have a choice about. “Work on story” vs. “have tea with friend”: I will choose some of each, and which one will depend on the day, the story, the friend, and a dozen other things. But the last few weeks there’s been a lot of “what gets removed from the list because ‘feel ill’ has replaced it?”, and that…I am even less good at that. Whenever I have a bad time with the vertigo, or a cold or what-have-you, I want to catch! up! I want to make up for the time “wasted.” And over and over again I’m being reminded that not running myself into the ground is not actually a waste.
This week Tim suggested that we should get a three-d ice printer*, and I discovered that my head is full of abstract ice sculptures. I didn’t know that about myself until he postulated this gadget, and then there they all were, cold curves that live in my brain without me even knowing it. And…I am so glad that it does that sometimes, this brain I got. Even with the fretting. So very glad.
*No, we know of no such thing being manufactured. We were talking about my need for baking (tangible, ephemeral) as a counterbalance for writing (intangible, lasting), and Timprov thought that ice sculptures might also serve the same need, and it is unwise for people of my balance abilities to use chainsaws very much. So: three-d ice printer. But really, shouldn’t there be one? Isn’t it an awesome idea?
|Friday fanfare (a day late): "Aqualung"
Ian Anderson has done several tours where he does, in essence, the orchestral Jethro Tull, where he is backed by a classical orchestra for new versions of various Tull (and Anderson solo) songs. For the most part, these are versions that are enhanced by the orchestra (they're particularly keen on "Locomotive Breath" and "Bourée"), but this version of "Aqualung" is one where they really reimagined the song from the ground up to take advantage of the orchestra. Since it's the best-known Tull song, it's one that can use a rework anyhow, and I love it. Current Mood: busy