(no subject)

Feb. 8th, 2016 09:02 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

I had no new entries for RFM this week, or at least none came up, so I'm reposting the standing entry. If you DID send me a blurb for this week's RFM, please let me know, because either this computer doesn't want me to have them or there's something wrong with the google form.

Ways to Give:

You all know about [livejournal.com profile] editrx, whose fundraiser I've been promoting for a few months; on top of her struggles to keep her indy bookstore afloat, she's now been the subject of a violent assault by her housemate (who is fortunately in jail). She's had to rekey her locks at home and at the bookstore, and she's dealing with mounting medical bills and trauma from the assault. She doesn't have a new fundraising site yet, but funds from her ongoing YouCaring fundraiser will reach her, as will income from the Starcat Books online etailer. She also has jewelry for sale on Etsy. (Obviously if you're shopping her etail or etsy there may be a delay in delivery.) She could really use the help these next few weeks.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form or via email at copperbadge at gmail dot com. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
[personal profile] alexr_rwx
I fixed my sick Playstation 2! That was really satisfying.

Pictures and description over on that other blog.
[personal profile] alexr_rwx
Just read Machinamenta: The Thousand-Year Quest to Build a Creative Machine by Douglas Summers-Stay!

It's not a long book, but it's got lots of interesting bits about the intertwining histories of augury, formal systems, games, creativity, language, art and artifice. In some of the most interesting bits, he talks about the very early interactions between approaches to fortune-telling in Africa and the Near East and early versions of the game Mancala. There were also great glimpses into the work on automata in Europe since the Renaissance, and early machine-generated poetry. And quick discussions about the relevant philosophy-of-mind and the various relevant approaches to AI, while grounding them in the historically relevant philosophical views. (ie, rule-based deductive systems are in a sense an outgrowth of the European Rationalist tradition)

He talks a lot about shifting standards of what counts as art, though this is sort of implicitly in a Western setting -- it would be interesting to talk about whether standards for what counts as "art" differed dramatically in different parts of the world. Or how about currently?

All in all, I'd say that this book is a good sampler of interesting things -- I wanted it to give more detail about any of the topics! Anything in here could easily be expanded into several books themselves.

And somehow, after all this, he didn't definitively put a box around what Counts As Art or Counts As Creativity, and source code for a Truly Creative Machine is not included with the book. Maybe that'll be in the second edition.

Links:
- Blog associated with the book
- Talk by the author on basically this subject matter

Hamilton - that song

Feb. 6th, 2016 03:20 pm
rachelmanija: (Staring at laptop)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I really think this song works best if you hear it the first time not knowing it's coming. So I'm spoiler-cutting the entire entry. Once again, "Hamilton" refers to the character in the play, not the historical person, unless I say otherwise.

Read more... )

Ex Machina

Feb. 6th, 2016 10:07 pm
raven: subway sign in black and white, text: "Times Square / 42 Street station" (stock - times square)
[personal profile] raven
So today I decided to break my streak of going-into-London-thirteen-days-in-a-row! It was a good choice. I spent some of the day literally lying on the couch with my face in the cushions. But I also wrote a couple of thousand words, and submitted to POC Destroy SF, and read a trade paperback of the Brian Vaughan comic, Ex Machina.

Which I feel weird writing about here, because what the shit do I know about comics, nothing at all, that's what. (Fake geek girl, yep.) But, omg, you guys, I love this so much. I've just finished volume 3 (there are 10 in total, I believe) and I'm just hoping and praying it stays this good because so far it could've been made for me. Basically, the story goes like this. Mitchell Hundred, a working-class boy from Brooklyn, the only child of a single mother, grows up loving superhero comics and machines. Then, in his mid-thirties, as a civil engineer for the city, he has a strange encounter with a mysterious artefact in the water below the Brooklyn Bridge, and when he wakes up he's - changed. He can talk to machines. They do what he tells them to do.

So Mitch becomes the Great Machine, a superhero with a jetpack! With his two closest friends, they fight crime!

...and it's a total disaster. He saves some people. Like, a few. But a lot of people are very angry about it. The police commissioner tries to arrest him a couple of times. Insurance premiums are a problem. The NSA get involved. It's messy as shit. Mitch gives up superheroing and retires, and mopes, and drinks.

Then 9/11 happens.

This is a New York City that has one of the Twin Towers still on the skyline. And in the rush of public acclaim following his very visible rescue of a lot of people, Mitch runs for Mayor of New York City and wins. And that's what the comic is about. The first trade paperback is subtitled "The First Hundred Days", I love it. It doesn't have the straightforward idealism of The West Wing and Parks and Rec - for one thing, Mitch is an independent - but it's warm and loving and very invested in the idea of the city itself as a machine that only works because of the people working every day doing things like cleaning out the sewers or driving the subway trains or ploughing snow. And while there are some superhero comic plots - like the ongoing mystery of just where Mitch's powers came from - there are also complex and delightful political plots. It's the early 2000s, they do a gay marriage plot, obviously, and there's also stuff about Mitch being called for jury service and deciding to Be! An! Example! and it's all just wonderful. And my favourite bits are where the two bits of the story intersect: so there's this bit about how Mitch has a no-cell-phones no-other-technology rule in certain parts of City Hall, because machines talk to him and it's exhausting and this is a reasonable adjustment! And there's also a lurking thread I'm interested in, whereby he clearly has some kind of delayed trauma related to 9/11, but the story is spinning it out slowly.

Of course, as mentioned, I'm only at the end of volume 3 so perhaps this isn't an unqualified rec (also fake geek girl feels, omg). But I'm enjoying the hell out of it.
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Due to being sick, by the time I even heard of Hamilton, the Broadway hiphop musical about Alexander Hamilton, it was the hottest thing ever and its fans were pushing it with so much zeal that I was actually put off. I figured it could not possibly live up to the hype.

Also, except for Sondheim, I'm not a huge musical theatre fan, and though I am a history nerd, I'm not much into American history in general, except for the Vietnam war and to a lesser extent the 1930s and 1940s. I find Hamilton's period particularly uninteresting. Hamilton would have to be a staggering work of heartbreaking genius to get me to like it at all. Previously, Gore Vidal's novel Burr, which is indeed pretty great, was the only work set in that period which I liked or even did not find excruciatingly boring.

So I am a little hesitant to put up a post which is inevitably going to make non-converts feel the exact same way I did, and make them even more reluctant to try it. However…

I consider Sondheim to be the genius of American musical theatre. In my opinion, no one has ever even come close to matching him, so far as my personal taste is concerned. Sweeney Todd is my favorite of his plays, and I also think it's objectively his best, insofar as that can be objective. I say this not to say that Hamilton is like Sondheim (though it does have noticeable Sondheim influences) but to explain my own personal standards when I say that Hamilton is the only musical I have ever heard that I think is as good as, and I already love as much as, Sweeney Todd.

I now see why Hamilton is so popular in fandom circles, and why its fans are so enthusiastic. For one thing, no one is going to listen to the whole thing if they don't like it early on, and it seems to be something that either people love or are totally indifferent to. So you only hear from the fanatical fans - everyone else didn't even finish it.

That aside, Lin-Manuel Miranda pretty clearly identifies with his own character of Alexander Hamilton. (When I mention Hamilton, I mean LMM's character, not the actual historical guy.) He wrote him as an immigrant and a writer, a man who came from nothing and fought his way up, a man who ran off at the mouth and was told off for thinking he was the smartest in the room (because he often was). He wrote Hamilton as writer, and as a misfit whose intelligence annoyed others even as it made him notable. No wonder so many fans identify!

I have never identified with a fictional character as much as I identified with Hamilton in certain songs and lines. One song in particular is not only a beautiful song, but is about the defining act of my life - the one moment, if I had to pick just one, that sums up the core of my self. It's a song about what makes me who I am.

I've written about that too, but Miranda wrote it in music, which I could never do. He wrote lines that I could never write, not because he's a better artist than me (though he probably is, and I say probably because, like his Hamilton, I do generally think I'm the smartest in the room so I'm not sure) but because only he could write them, just as only I could write what I write. Lin-Manuel Miranda's surely never even heard of me, but he wrote my soul into a song and put it on Broadway.

I assume that's because it's his soul too. I think it's the soul of a lot of writers and artists. Though the particulars are directly applicable to me in a way that's really unusual, and I would not be surprised if some of you have been biting your tongues not to say, "Rachel, you HAVE TO listen to Hamilon because you will identify SO MUCH, let me link you to this one song that is SO YOU."

I heard that song and I was glad that I lived long enough to hear it. I felt as if, had I died the day before, what I would regret most was that I never got to hear that song. I felt that way when I saw Sondheim's Assassins and Sweeney Todd, when I saw The Kentucky Cycle on Broadway, when I saw the first X-Men and Lord of the Rings movies, when I went to Japan for the first time and saw monks practicing kyudo in Kita-Kamakura and autumn leaves falling at Eikan-do temple.

Again, this isn't about my taste and whether it matches yours - it's about that shock of joy at something you experience for the first time, and fall in love with at first sight. It's as if you exist solely so you could experience that moment.

I'm not going to name the song because I managed to be unspoiled for the show, and so it came as the most amazing, poignant surprise. Maybe it will be for you, too.

(I'll talk about it later, in a spoilery post, along with other spoilery things. Obviously the historical events are known; I'm talking about artistic moments, and there are many delicious surprises there which I don't want to ruin.)

If you are unfamiliar with Hamilton, I think watching these two videos will tell you if you'll like it or not. I think if you don't like these, you probably won't like the rest either. I suggest that you watch the videos in this order. They both should actually be watched, as one is a performance and one includes lyrics.

Lin-Manuel Miranda performs an early version of the opening number at the White House

My Shot

The entire thing is streaming for free at Spotify.

(no subject)

Feb. 6th, 2016 12:19 pm
skygiants: Nice from Baccano! in post-explosion ecstasy (maybe too excited . . .?)
[personal profile] skygiants
I meant to do a whole Festivids rec post before leaving for Costa Rica, but then I ran out of time, so it'll have to wait. Instead I would just like to take a moment to shout out to my wonderful gift vid: Take It Off, which combines two of my absolute favorite things, bouncy dance pop music and the 1970s film Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Swing dancing! Witchcraft! People turning into rabbits right and left! EVERYBODY TAKE IT OFF so all your clothing can become enchanted weaponry in the fight against Nazi oppression! It's so good, everyone please watch it immediately.

In other news: I'm going to Costa Rica until next Sunday, internet status questionable! Everyone have fun for the next week and try not to get hit by a blizzard.

(no subject)

Feb. 6th, 2016 12:06 pm
copperbadge: (chicago City Boy)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I don't think I mentioned this, between the madness of travel yesterday and the madness of using this tiny broken computer that can barely load websites, but I heard back from the job I was interviewing for in Austin. They decided to offer it to someone else, which is always a bit of an ego blow, but on the other hand by the time I was done with the second interview I knew I didn't want it -- and I didn't want to have to decide between Austin and Chicago.

So I'm actually really happy they didn't offer it to me, and I think my folks are happy too. They'd like to have me in Austin, but Mum says if I'm coming home to help them in their old age I should wait another five to ten years, so I think she gets it.

In other news, I wanted to get my host something special for the party she's throwing, and she expressed an interest in Baiju, which is a kind of Asian liquor made from grains -- in much the same way that Terry Pratchett's "scrapple" drink was made from apples.

So I went to Chicago's Chinatown, to a liquor store where I was told I could reliably acquire it, but of course a lot of the signage and labels are in Chinese. So I approached the cashier, who was this older Chinese dude who clearly either owns the store or runs it, and I said, "I'm looking for some Baiju. It's a gift for lunar new year."

His face LIT UP for some reason and he got super excited, and he said, "Oh, you don't want normal baiju. For toasting! You want violent baiju!"

And what else can you say when someone suggests violent liquor to you? YOU SAY YES. So I said "Yes, show me the violent baiju!"

So I bought some Red Star Guo Tou Jiu, which is fifty six percent alcohol by volume. For reference, most vodka is 40%.

I cannot wait to TASTE THE VIOLENCE.

swearing allegiance to Peter Ustinov

Feb. 6th, 2016 04:24 pm
marnanel: (Default)
[personal profile] marnanel
conversation between me and Tim, many years ago:

Marn: I've never pledged allegiance to the Queen... well, unless you count the Cub Scout promise. Come to think of it, though, I've sworn allegiance to her husband.
Tim: ?!
Marn: When you start at Cambridge, you have to promise allegiance to the chancellor, and the chancellor is Prince Philip. So presumably I'm still under an oath of allegiance to him.
Tim: ... that's wonderful. I wonder whether that means I've sworn allegiance to Peter Ustinov.

notes:
- Prince Philip was chancellor of Cambridge at the time of this conversation; he isn't now.
- Peter Ustinov was chancellor of Durham at the time; he's now dead.
- the Cambridge matriculation oath is currently: "I promise to observe the Statutes and Ordinances of the University as far as they concern me, and to pay due respect and obedience to the Chancellor and other officers of the University."
- the Cub Scout promise is currently: "I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God, and to the Queen, to help other people, and to keep the Cub Scout law."

(no subject)

Feb. 6th, 2016 09:45 am
copperbadge: (sam explains comics)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Last night, my host sat down with a pile of books in her hands and said “By the way, I do a little origami” and busted out like, A BUNCH OF GREAT ORIGAMI and some awesome books, and proceeded to show me the highlights so I could choose from among them.

I happen to have two decks of Captain America cards, and I had brought one with me because it’s always nice to have a deck of playing cards when you travel, and when I saw the “Playing Card Box” I knew…I had to make A CAPTAIN AMERICA CARD BOX.



I’m super duper pleased with how it came out. I’m going to make at least one more out of the deck I have with me. I have a collection of playing cards at home that I never quite know what to do with, so I might break into those as well when I get back.

Mechademia 10! Conference talks!

Feb. 5th, 2016 08:12 pm
ahorbinski: A DJ geisha (historical time is a construct)
[personal profile] ahorbinski
It's been a whirlwind six weeks of moving continents and coasts, and I'm very behind on updates.

My article "Record of Dying Days: The Alternate History of Ôoku" was published in Mechademia 10 in November, and the BCNM very kindly put out a short blurb about it. You can see a photo of yours truly with one of my author copies. On the topic of Mechademia, the tenth volume is the last of the original series, and the fifth one that I worked on as the editorial assistant/general citations dogsbody. I want to take the time now to publicly thank Frenchy Lunning, Wendy Goldberg, Christopher Bolton, and Tom Lamarre for their giving me the job, their advice and support, and their general friendship and camaraderie. I had the time of my life, and it was a true privilege.

Speaking of Mechademia, I'll be traveling to Tokyo next month to give a talk drawing on materials from the third chapter of my in-progress manuscript at the Mechademia Conference next month, "Women and Comics: Reconsidering the ‘Origins’ of Shojo Manga in the Postwar.” From there I'll go immediately to Seattle to give the same talk to a different crowd at the Popular Culture Association annual meeting, in the comics arts track. I had a wonderful time when I last presented at the PCA in 2009, and I'm very much looking forward to both conferences. See you there, I hope!

(no subject)

Feb. 5th, 2016 06:35 pm
skygiants: the aunts from Pushing Daisies reading and sipping wine on a couch (wine and books)
[personal profile] skygiants
I read various Zilpha Keatley Snyder books as a kid, but the only ones I actually owned were The Headless Cupid and The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case.

The Stanley kids consist of:

- David, viewpoint character, a sober and responsible eleven-year-old who is resignedly used to acting as semi-parental unit to various small siblings since his mother's death
- Janie, six-year-old genius, who enjoys creating drama, solving mysteries, and announcing her IQ to anyone who will listen;
- Esther, fairly ordinary four-year-old who likes toys and explicable rules and neatness;
- Blair, angelic and slightly spooky four-year-old who talks to animals and might have some kind of supernatural sixth sense, but it's a bit hard to tell what is that and what is just being four

At the beginning of The Headless Cupid, the Stanleys are about to get a new stepmother, Molly. This is fine with them; Molly is a sweetheart! They're a little less certain about Molly's twelve-year-old daughter Amanda, a sulky preteenager with who appears to have taken Fairuza Balk's character in The Craft as her role model. Hypothetically supernatural shenanigans rooted in complex emotional issues and reluctant sibling bonding ensue, rather like a less murderous version of Wait 'Til Helen Comes.

...then in The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case they all move to Italy for a year and the kids get SURPRISE KIDNAPPED based on a WACKY MISUNDERSTANDING! Even as a child I thought this was a hilarious genre shift, although the actual feel of the books is still pretty similar -- the focus is more on the kids and their relationships with each other than the actual plot.

However, due to a conversation with [personal profile] allchildren a little while ago, I have since recently learned that there are two MORE Stanley books that I never knew existed!

It turns out that Blair's Nightmare is basically everything I could have wanted out of a third Stanley book. Plot: Blair, now six, still angelic and spooky, is sleepwalking and talking about seeing a giant dog, which can't possibly be real ... OR CAN IT? Also, David is afraid of being targeted by the school bully, Pete, until Amanda PUNCHES PETE IN THE FACE -- after which Pete abruptly wants to become David's best friend, especially if it means that Amanda might be around also and might ... also .... want to hang out ..... *___*? Which is ... kind of adorable, honestly, but not as adorable as David crankily accusing Amanda of just helping him because she thought he was pathetic, and Amanda being like "no, doofus, I just had a sibling feeling! It was weird, but neat! :D" KIDS.

Also, I forgot to mention there are escaped convicts on the loose.

Janie's Private Eyes, the fourth book, is also cute, and World's Most Annoying Child Genius Janie is always pretty hilarious, but the plot is about Janie & the Stanleys proving that Janie's new best friend Thuy and her Vietnamese family are not the culprits behind a rash of dog thefts, aka White Kids Generously Save Local Immigrants From Racism, so, you know.
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
My medical status continues to be a non-stop parade of bad news, and no one still has any idea what the hell is actually causing my symptoms. The latest was an alarming finding (delivered in a probably over-alarmist way by the doctor, who implied that I might drop dead at any second - I have since been told that this is wildly unlikely)... which may well have nothing to do with my actual symptoms. In other words, I may have TWO quite serious medical conditions, one asymptomatic and discovered by chance, and one causing severe symptoms and still undiagnosed. Obviously, I am hoping that the one is actually the cause of the symptoms, but it probably isn't.

[Unless you are a doctor, any amateur diagnoses or advice will be deleted with great prejudice. DO NOT EMAIL THEM TO ME, EITHER. Without exception, they have been both unoriginal and useless, in addition to NOT WANTED. I am not naming the alarming finding in the hope of warding off that. If you are a doctor (or a nurse, etc), feel free to email me and I will tell you so you can give it your best shot.]

But what I am actually here to describe is something of possibly general interest, which is a very unusual medical test I just had, which was an MRI of my abdominal veins and arteries.

I have now twice had doctors say, "You must do this scan INSTANTLY before you drop dead/need emergency surgery!" only to do it and then find that no one's rushing to get me my results if a weekend's approaching. Guess maybe it wasn't such an emergency after all?

That was a truly challenging test. They dress you in a hospital gown, put a needle in your elbow, put heavy weights on your stomach and chest, drape totally inadequate blankets over you (the room was freezing), then slide you into a narrow tube. It lasts over an hour-- I think mine lasted about one hour, fifteen minutes. (It was done both without and with contrast, which may have been why it was so long.)

I asked if I could listen to music, but they said no, because I would be getting constant instructions to breathe in a specific rhythm or speed, and also to hold my breath. It turns out that when I am trying not to stress out (possibly also because I have done a lot of meditation) I tend to breathe very slowly. So I was mostly being told to speed up. And also to hold my breath for up to 30 seconds, often multiple times and in quick succession. With weights on my chest and stomach. In a tube with a completely white ceiling about four inches from my face. For over an hour.

So there I am, trying to breathe fast (as instructed) but without hyperventilating, WITH WEIGHTS ON MY TORSO, right after holding my breath for 30 seconds at a time, three times in a row in quick succession.

I think, "I could really use some music to psyche myself up for this… Well, I'll play it in my mind."

Me (in head): I am not growing old in Salem's Lot!/Success is my only motherfucking option, failure's not!/You can do anything you set your mind to, man.

Radiology technician: "Hey, you just changed the rhythm of your breathing. Can you make it faster and more evenly paced, please?"

A few minutes later, while I was really hitting the wall for basically the same reason, I tried again:

Me (in head): I am not throwing away my shot! I am not throwing away my shot!

Radiology technician: "Can you breathe faster, please?"

Me (in head): I’m takin this horse by the reins makin’/Redcoats redder with bloodstains!

Radiology technician: "Can you breathe slower? This test has thirty minutes to go - I don't want you to wear yourself out."

Me (gives up on musical inspiration.)

Me (thinks): "This will be a great new way to torment DJ when I write his third book." (He's my character from "Werewolf Marines," who is actually a DJ, uses music in his head to psyche himself up, and also has ADHD, hyperactive variety.)

Meanwhile, there were intermittent but frequent and extremely loud banging and screeching noises. It sounded exactly like someone was hammering on the tube.

As I said, it was a genuinely difficult test, and I know it wasn't just me because I am not used to finding physical/mental challenges of that sort difficult. For instance, I'm not claustrophobic. But after an hour plus of lying absolutely still in that tube with the roof four inches from my face, with weights on my chest and stomach, unable to think of anything but the test because doing so messed up the test, while breathing in a way that I would use to induce a panic attack in the office so I can teach people how to cope with panic attacks… I was getting a little claustrophobic.

When I got out of there, my gown was drenched in sweat. I think 90% of that was from physical exertion. Breathing fast and deep with weights on your breathing apparatus is hard.

After the test, the radiology guy told me that it was probably the second-hardest MRI to do and it was especially tough to have it as my first one.

"What's the hardest?" I asked.

"Well, this is pretty rare… but there's a cardiac MRI where people have to hold their breath for one minute."

I asked, "Can people really do that? Cardiac patients can do that?"

"People always think they can't do it," he said. "But then they really put their minds to it, and they find that they can."

You can do anything you set your mind to, man, I thought.

He then added, "Sometimes they can't, though. And then we do it for 30 seconds, have them take a breath, and do another 30 seconds. But you did great! We got perfect images!"

But after all that, it will probably be yet another insanely expensive test that shows nothing. (I won't get the results till Monday, probably.)

It's either unfortunate or just as well that I politically opposed about 90% of all American military interventions since WWII, and also have an issue with following orders that I personally find stupid or pointless or are issued by people whose intelligence I don't respect. Because I am really good at following difficult orders. Hopefully I will not have cause to discover whether or not I can hold my breath for one minute if I really set my mind to it, man.

(no subject)

Feb. 5th, 2016 09:54 am
copperbadge: (chicago City Boy)
[personal profile] copperbadge
So I am traveling this week, but I brought my origami paper with me! (I brought the quirky origami paper that folds weird 'cause it's paper-backed foil.) Today I made a golden Penguin And Child.



I do love the way the foil looks in the final figure, even if the corners are a bit sloppy. THE GOLDEN PENGUIN -- it sounds like a spy novel.

Otherwise today I have mostly hung out with people and played Avengers Academy on my phone. Although I did also eat fried cheese curds. Fried cheese curds sit at the parallel apexes of "food that is bad for you" and "the best thing I've ever put in my mouth".

I wake up most morning at 4 to go running, and this morning I woke up at 4 per usual, not because my alarm went off but because a cat was standing on me. And for a split second I thought, oh, the cat wants to go running with me this morning! He's waiting for me to put on my running shoes!

But then I realized that was nonsense, and I went back to sleep. NO RUNNING TODAY, CAT.

UP FOR AUCTION! BUY A VID!

Feb. 5th, 2016 06:29 pm
beccatoria: (vid all the things!)
[personal profile] beccatoria
Hey guys. So uh, yeah. *glances around sheepishly* I haven't been here in a really long time. BUT. But. I do come with news:

I'm up for auction for VidUKon this year, so if anyone would care to bid on me (or one of the other five awesome vidders who volunteered - buffyann, jagwriter, LithiumDoll, Llin and meivocis), here is the link:

http://www.vidukon.co.uk/convention/auction

Bidding ends Sunday, 7 Feb at 8:00pm GMT (which is like 3:00pm for you people on the East Coast, I think).
alias_sqbr: (spoons)
[personal profile] alias_sqbr
As always, bear in mind that my standard go way down when I'm sick.

Books:

Sword of the Guardian by Merry Shannon (On sale right now!) This is basically a cheesy, tropey 90s-esque eurofantasy romance... with lesbians! AND I LOVED IT. Stoic, protective, crossdressing butch bodyguard and feisty, headstrong princess yesss. Many of the tropes are questionable-if-iddy (eg there's a bunch of dub con kisses that "don't count") to outright unfortunate ("swarthy barbarians", really?) and it is SUPER earnest but the ratio of cheese I enjoyed to cheese I didn't worked for me. nb the cover art whitewashes the bodyguard, who has a dark olive complexion which is a bit exoticised.

Apparently the sequel is about the buxom lesbian chambermaid, SOUNDS GOOD.
Books! Games! Movies, even! )

Poem: The Days

Feb. 4th, 2016 11:40 pm
alexandraerin: (Default)
[personal profile] alexandraerin

THE DAYS

These are the days

when fire falls

and water rises.

These are the days

when heaven yawns

and earth topples.

These are the days

when the wind screams

and thunder roars.

These are the days

I remember

what might have been.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

(no subject)

Feb. 4th, 2016 11:00 pm
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
[personal profile] seekingferret
Terry Riley's "In C" is a really special piece of music. It consists of about fifty short snippets of music, all of course in the key of C, to be performed by any number of musicians, in order, but each of the snippets is to be played any number of times, at the discretion of each of the performers. The result is amazing, a tug of war between musicians that will never turn out the same way twice. The piece can be as short as twenty minutes, or over an hour in length.

I got minorly obsessed with it last year and collected about ten different recordings, all of which I've listened to multiple times. It astonishes me how the same piece of sheet music can yield so many different interpretations, and each of the interpretations astonishes me on its own as an expression of musical joy and creativity. What I have always loved most is the moments of overlap, where some musicians have moved on to the next snippet while others are still playing the last one.

A high school friend invited me to see the Darmstadt Ensemble play it live at le Poisson Rouge last night and I could not say yes fast enough.

And it was a blast, a performance that lasted over an hour, some thirty musicians playing and singing for the love of it for a rapt, packed crowd. And though what I have always loved most about "In C" is those moments of overlap, what caught me seeing it live was something else. The moments of overlap represent the negotiation. Riley has, of course, ceded some of the composer's power to each of the musicians. In order for music to emerge, they must negotiate with each other to decide how to perform. And I've always loved listening to that negotiation, the back and forth, the disagreements. But what was coolest about Darmstadt's performance was not the negotiation, but the eventual agreements that emerged, those times when the whole group found itself together again. Those were moments of the highest kind of musical communion, ecstatic celebrations of the power of music.
yasaman: a tv with a little heart on the left (tv)
[personal profile] yasaman
So this is a pathetic reason for lack of updates, but: after many years, and many many versions of Firefox, the Deepest Sender Firefox extension that I use to update DW/LJ finally stopped working. It hasn't been updated in literal years, and I assume it's abandoned. I was really attached to it though! I'm pretty sure I've been using it for a literal decade! I am change averse, and not fond of the post an entry page. Anyone have any preferred extensions/add-ons that will let me update DW/LJ without using the post entry page?

Anyway, a brief list of media things I've been enjoying:
  • Agent Carter! The show isn't entirely what I'd hoped it would be, and I wish it was more ambitious. But I do love the tone it sets, and I adore Peggy and Jarvis.
  • I continue to be low-key dedicated to Elementary. The cases of the week may be lackluster, and Joan is distressingly under-utilized, but I still adore it.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a delight.
  • I was prepared to write off Limitless as yet another manchild genius and the woman who has to wrangle him show, but it's shockingly charming and clever! The male lead is genuinely sweet and good-hearted, the interplay with his partner isn't all centered around her putting up with him and cleaning up after him, and the show does some fun and unique things with its storytelling. You could do a lot worse if you're in the market for a light procedural.
  • I'm basically watching Fresh Off the Boat entirely for Jessica Huang, which, WORTH IT. The show continues to be hilarious, and I love Jessica the most.
I've also gotten back into the reading groove a bit, but I'm feeling too intimidated by my backlog of book blogging. I'll see if I'm up to catching up with that later.

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