Reading Wednesday

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:21 pm
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[personal profile] brigdh
The Excursionist by J.D. Sumner. A novel about Jack, a man determined to visit 100 countries before his 35th birthday, all so he can join the Traveler’s Century Club.

Ugh, this book. It’s glaringly self-published, which I do not inherently object to – I'm all for self-publishing! But hire an editor, dude. It’s not typos or grammar mistakes that give it away (the book’s actually remarkably free of those)(which I suppose is damning with faint praise, but I am totally here to damn this book), but a constant stream of contradictions and just... well, odd choices. The one that leapt out to me most strikingly was when the narrator, in describing the Traveler’s Club, sticks the URL right in the middle of the text:
One down and two to go. Now all I had to do was to get to Kilrush and then to Fulgary and I could join the Travelers’ Century Club. See www.travelerscenturyclub.org for further details.

This would maybe even have been not so weird if it had come in the introduction, the first time the reader is told about this goal, or in the endnotes. But no, none of the above. This quote instead comes from the end of chapter ten, when the Traveler’s Club has been mentioned multiple times without needing an URL.

It’s minor, I know, but similar minor annoyances pop up constantly throughout the text. Jack only needs to visit three more countries, so he heads to the (fictional) islands of Placentia, Kilrush and Fulgary. The fact that these are separate countries is the entire point of the book. And yet the flights between them are repeatedly described as "domestic". In addition, it’s implied Placentia and Fulgaryy are still considered UK territories. Granted, other people probably aren’t as fascinated by the debate over what “counts” as a country as much as I happen to be (I blame this game, on which I spend way too much of my free time), but when it’s the central premise of your story, it needs at least a little consideration.

I could forgive all of the above if Jack was a character I enjoyed spending time with. Instead he’s a complete and total asshole. He condescends and mistreats service employees, he shallowly judges fellow tourists, he rates all women by their attractiveness and sulks when they don’t want to sleep with him. Every time he interacted with any other living creature I wanted to punch him.
For example, discussing his job as a stockbroker: Getting a job in the City is like getting a girl. The less interest and enthusiasm you show, the better chance you have.
Describing his ex-wife: I was still paying for my ex-wife’s house. She had taken me for a mug, then a Merc, then a million. I did quite well out of the divorce settlement; I kept most of the back garden and some of the roof tiles. I wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t come home to find somebody else’s kippers under the grill. I should have twigged when he helped move her stuff out when she ‘just needed some space’. […] And if I said no to her demands, I would get a call saying my daughter was ill or had been invited to a toddler’s party on the day I was supposed to visit. Her other trick was to pretend I had got the dates or the times wrong. It was easier just to give up. People only change in books or in films, not in real life. I stopped seeing my daughter as regularly when my folks told me she had started to call Graham ‘Daddy’.*
Interacting with a flight attendant: ‘Could I please have one of those bottles of fizzy mineral water?’ I said.
‘I am sorry, sir, we are not allowed to give them out.’ She bent down so close to my face I was worried she was going to kiss me.
‘I don’t want to bother you all the time, asking you for water. Can you leave me the bottle; I don’t want to make a nuisance of myself.’
‘I am afraid we can’t do that, sir.’
‘Why?’ I asked.
‘It’s against regulations. I am sorry, sir.’
‘But your in-flight magazine says quite clearly on page twenty-eight, that passengers should make sure they remain hydrated.’
‘I know, sir. I am sorry but they are the regulations.’
‘I am only asking for a bottle of fizzy water. I have spent thousands of pounds flying Business Class with you. I’m thirsty,’ I said.
‘I am sorry, sir. It’s the rules.’
‘The rules… what airline has rules to prevent passengers from drinking water? Why advertise what a great service you provide, if you won’t give water to a thirsty passenger? What’s the point of pouring an eggcup-sized measure of water if I can jug down full glasses of wine? You do this because, as you know, the less weight you carry the less fuel you need, which means lower fuel costs and better profit.’ And with this, the hostess began to take away my empties.


I could have given you more egregious examples, but I chose these because they all occur before page 35. (And the text of the book doesn’t start until page 8!) Now you too have a sense of the density of Jack’s dickishness.

Though I've got to mention one more: at the end of the book, it’s revealed that Jack’s dead girlfriend who disappeared forever, possibly murdered, cheated on him shortly before her death. When Jack finds out this information, he explicitly decides not to go to the police with it, because, hey, it helped him get over her. Your hero, ladies and gentlemen!
I felt better about not being with her but I also wish I hadn’t wasted so much time thinking about her. I still didn’t know how Kay died but I suspect Naz may have had something to do with it. With forearms like Naz, it wouldn’t have been difficult to squeeze the life out of her. But I didn’t actually know what had happened to her. And for the first time, I wasn’t particularly bothered either. Should I go to the police? And tell them what exactly? I decided, rightly or wrongly, to move on.

Ughhhhh, this book, y’all. This book. I got it for free and that was still too much money.

* The daughter never gets a name, appears on screen, or is even mentioned beyond one more passing notice that she exists. I’m definitely convinced Jack is a worthwhile father.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.

Pump it Up

Sep. 20th, 2017 07:15 pm
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[personal profile] tbutler
20170730-P7303935.jpg

Old water pump at Dad's house on the edge of Des Moines.

[ObMeme]

Sep. 20th, 2017 05:27 pm
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
[personal profile] yhlee
By way of [personal profile] thistleingrey, because I need a break. On the bright side, I finished a short story today. :D

Read more... )

quick meme

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:07 pm
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[personal profile] thistleingrey
from Facebook, albeit via a DW friend, because I'm sick:

Read more... )

art accountability

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:19 pm
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[personal profile] yhlee
Sunday's sketch of the Dragon while we were getting food:


(Dammit, I like life drawing, even if I'm too n00b to be good at it. Joe says I have been getting better since I started a few years back though.)

Pen: Pelikan M205 Aqumarine (F nib)
Ink: Diamine Eclipse

Moving on from heads to eyes and lips? )

I haven't gotten back to Ctrl+Paint because life has been busy, but yesterday my art accountability was working on a Thing in Photoshop, mainly blocking in values.

This Week in Nazi-Punching

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:15 pm
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[personal profile] jimhines

A video of a Nazi in Seattle getting punched and knocked out has been making the rounds. Responses range from satisfaction and celebration to the predictable cries of “So much for the tolerant left” and the related “Violence makes us as bad as them and plays right into their hands.”

A few things to consider…

1. According to one witness, the punch happened after the Nazi called a man an “ape” and threw a banana at him. With the disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer, that sounds like assault to me. I’m guessing Assault in the Fourth Degree. In other words, the punching was a response to an assault by the Nazi.

The witness who talks about the banana-throwing also says he was high on THC. I haven’t seen anyone disputing his account, but I haven’t seen corroboration, either.

2.Remember when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and people like Geraldo Rivera said it was because Martin was wearing a hoodie, and that made Martin a potentially dangerous “suspicious character”? Utter bullshit, I know. But if our legal system let Zimmerman plead self-defense, saying he was afraid because Martin was wearing a hoodie, doesn’t that same argument apply against someone wearing a fucking swastika?

We’re talking about a symbol that announces, “I support genocide of those who aren’t white, aren’t straight, aren’t able-bodied…”

3. Buzzfeed presents this as anti-fascists tracking a Neo-Nazi to beat him up. While antifa Twitter appears to have been talking about this guy, there’s no evidence that the punch was thrown by someone who’s part of that movement. And even if he was, the guy didn’t throw a punch until after the Nazi committed assault (see point #1).

Those Tweets quoted on Buzzfeed also suggest the Nazi was armed, which could add to the self-defense argument in point #2.

Is Nazi-punching right? Is it legal? As any role-player will tell you, there’s a difference between whether something is lawful and whether it’s good.

The “victim” has every right to press charges. But for some reason, he didn’t want to talk to police about the incident.

Was punching this guy a good thing? I mean, there’s a difference between comic books and real life. The Nazi was standing in front of some sort of tile wall. He could have struck his head on the corner after being punched, or when he fell to the ground. In other words, there’s a chance–albeit probably a slim one–that this could have killed him.

My country and culture glorify violence. I’d much rather avoid violence when possible. I think most rational people would. But there are times it’s necessary to fight, to choose to defend yourself and others. I think it’s important to understand the potential consequences of that choice.

Multiple accounts agree this man was harassing people on the bus, and later on the street. He was a self-proclaimed Nazi. Police say they received calls that he was instigating fights, and it sounds like he escalated from verbal harassment to physical assault … at which point another man put him down, halting any further escalation.

I don’t know exactly what I would have done in that situation, but I see nothing to make me condemn or second-guess this man’s choice in the face of a dangerous Nazi.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

umadoshi: (kittens - sleeping)
[personal profile] umadoshi
Fannish/Geeky/SFF Things

"Seanan McGuire on What She Learned From October, Plus a Sweeps!" The interview is about what writing Toby's series (AKA her first novel and series) taught her, and the contest, which is open until September 30, is for all eleven books to date.

"Transcript for OTW 10th Anniversary Chat with Seanan McGuire & Martha Wells".

"Exclusive Interview and ARC Giveaway: In Other Lands author, Sarah Rees Brennan". This contest has closed, alas, but I really liked the interview (and its entirely appropriate attention to mermaids): "My protagonist Elliot is a huge nerd, so when he arrives in a magical world he immediately asks ‘Show me the mermaids!’ rather than ‘Explain to me this strange word… magic…’ and mermaids are for him a shorthand for him wanting to behold the many wonders on offer in a magic land–in other words, harpies, unicorns and mermaids, oh my. He then keeps asking about the mermaids, having lessons about them, researching them, getting different answers about mermaids from different people, until he finally does meet one–with consequences I will not spoil for those who do not yet know!"

"Sci-fi author Martha Wells on writing a series about a robot that calls itself Murderbot".

"‘SHEroes’: Wonder Woman meets Bionic Woman". "Lindsay Wagner, aka Jamie Sommers or “The Bionic Woman,” posted her photo with Lynda Carter, aka Diana Prince or “Wonder Woman,” on her Facebook page recently and, as expected, fans went wild with nostalgia."

"Superheroes for the Jewish New Year". [Book Riot]

Over at [dreamwidth.org profile] ladybusiness, [dreamwidth.org profile] renay posted a great interview with Kate Elliott.

"Present-Day Devices as Props". "Every Star Trek production requires a large number of props to act as technical devices of Starfleet or of aliens. There are custom prop designs for standard phasers, tricorders or communicators. But in most cases there is a need for additional props that either serve a specific purpose in the story or are used as generic futuristic decoration. Several of the props that could be seen are actually slightly modified devices of the 20th/21st century. In particular, game consoles have been used repeatedly for handheld scanners."

Sarah Gailey (author of the hippo-wrangling AUs River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow) currently has an unrelated serial, The Fisher of Bones, running in Fireside Magazine, who've just announced that the whole story is now available for preorder (and...get the ending before folks who're reading it/choose to keep reading it in serialization, which seems a bit odd to me, but sure).


TV/movie news

"Linda Hamilton Set to Return to 'Terminator' Franchise".

"MISS. FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES Movie Is a Go, Thanks to Kickstarter".

"“Madam Secretary” Showrunner Barbara Hall Developing CIA Drama for CBS" about "a multigenerational family of spies."

"The real hero of Netflix's "The Defenders" is the way Jessica Jones throws very heavy things".

"REPORT: Marvel Studios Developing a Power Pack Feature Film".


Miscellaneous

"Dictionary of the Oldest Written Language–It Took 90 Years to Complete, and It’s Now Free Online". [Open Culture]

"A 68 Hour Playlist of Shakespeare’s Plays Being Performed by Great Actors: Gielgud, McKellen & More". [Open Culture, 2015]

"Street Artist Paints Fantastic Fake Shadows Under Objects Perplexing Sidewalk Pedestrians Walking By".

What are You Reading Wednesday?

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:44 am
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[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 Did I read anything this week?  I'm actually not sure. I _do_ have a pile of things that I'm planning on reading, however.  Does that count?

What did I do INSTEAD of reading? I wish I knew. Part of this, I think, is getting back into the "Back to School" mode.  Mason was sick with a cold late last week (he missed school on Friday), and then Shawn promptly caught it.  So I've been doing a lot of nursemaiding.  

Ugh. Work just called. They wanted me to go into New Brighton's' branch tonight and work 5 to 8.  I probably should have said yes, but I work both tomorrow and Friday.  

Also? It's MasterChef's finale tonight.

I know this sounds stupid, but ever since Mason was very small we have, as a family, been fans of MasterChef.  It's the one network TV show we actually tune in for.  All three of us gather in the TV room upstairs and adjust the rabbit ears so that we can watch the show.  It's not even all that great. Most people would probably prefer The Great British Baking Show or Iron Chef.  Not us. We're faithful to Gordon Ramsey and his disappointed looks and rants about things that are "rawr." 

For once, too, the contestants left standing at the end are all weirdos.  There's one white guy, but he's fully tattooed, bleach blond, and heroin-addict skinny... and a super-odd, with very Italian-American from Brooklyn accent.  Currently, I'm rooting for Jason, an Asian-American guy who comes with a male partner, kind of BECAUSE he's gay (though he is one of the most cheerful people they've had on).  The other contestant is Eboni, a black woman from Chicago.  We like them all.  This is one of the few times where we won't be disappointed with whoever wins.

Skipping work for TV, though?  Probably I'm going to hell.

Was it a woman warrior?

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:50 am
[syndicated profile] togs_from_bogs_feed

Posted by Katrin

You might have read about that Viking warrior found in a grave in Birka, Sweden, who was a woman according to DNA tests. The original article, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, is open-access, so you can go read the real deal for yourself. It’s titled “A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics” – a rather spectacular title.

There are always issues with gender stuff and archaeology. One of them is the fact that yes, for a long time, if someone was buried with a spindle and beads, it was obviously a woman, and if someone had weapons, it was obviously a man. While this is probably the truth in most graves, in some cases, later anthropological study has shown that there is the occasional exception to this archaeologist’s “rule”, and has led both archaeologists and anthropologists to the firm conviction that it would be a good thing to take in-depth anthropological data for every skeleton found, and if possible, maybe even DNA checks, instead of just assuming things. That’s a pipe dream, though, with the scarcity of both funding and personnel in these disciplines, so we’ll have to keep on going as best as possible and be delighted about the occasional opportunity to go deeper.

So, what about the Viking warrior woman? I’m not completely convinced that the person buried in this grave was “a powerful military leader”. For that, I’d personally expect definite traces of hard military labour, and possibly also evidence for some healed wounds from battle. We may have an unusual woman there, and possibly also one who fought – but it might also be a woman buried with weapons out of some honorary reason. We actually don’t know. History on a whole, after all, was not cut-and-dried at all, but just as colourful and as varied and capricious as human beings are.

And as usual when there’s an interesting find, there is discussion, by people who offer very interesting thoughts. One of them is Martin Rundkvist who writes in Aardvarcheology. There’s also a critical response to the original article written by Judith Jesch, which you can read on her blog.

It remains… interesting.

 

 

Using only the Brat Pack

Sep. 20th, 2017 01:07 am
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Cast a 1980s New Teen Titans film....

river ganseys

Sep. 19th, 2017 09:34 pm
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[personal profile] thistleingrey
Penelope Lister Hemingway, River Ganseys: Strikin' t'loop, Swaving, and Other Yorkshire Knitting Curiosities Revived from the Archives (2015): the thesis that winds through it is that ganseys (a set of ways for making pullovers) are an emanation of the Industrial Age, late C18 into the English Regency. It needed better editing than its tiny indie press could offer. Half is heavily personalized historical overview---whenever we meet her ancestors in the historical record, she points it out even if there's no family account to add to what records indicate; half is howto.

On p. 70, near the end of a chapter on nineteenth-century knitting in Yorkshire schools, prisons, and homes, Hemingway implies that being taught to knit in school according to a curriculum is what led to holding the needles "British" style (I've always heard "English" and have no idea how Welsh, Scottish, Cornish, or indeed Manx knitters may have tended to position their hands). At home, she says, they'd probably continued the older manner of "holding needles under fists" and throwing the yarn "continental" style. Interesting, though because there aren't enough trappings of scholarly approach, I have no idea whether Hemingway was able/interested in scholarly due diligence....

She suggests that the cables aren't mirrored in ganseys because of an old fear of mirrored reflection; she describes green as the forbidden color on account of "creation/god" (p. 92), though I know it as fairy-color from medieval texts. (Or any number of other things, including Buchan's Witch Wood.) In any case, vanishingly few bird motifs on ganseys, either.

ObContemporaryRetake: Seascale and Ardmore fall into one basket; Rocquaine and Guernsey make another.
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
It occurs to me I haven't looked at the Heavy Gear rules in a long time....
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[personal profile] mrissa

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

Review copy provided by Haikasoru Books.

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

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

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

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

Books read, early September

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

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

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

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

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

Marie Brennan, Maps to Nowhere. Discussed elsewhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Secret Subculture of Pen Pals

Sep. 19th, 2017 05:46 pm
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
Today, in the mail, I got a thick envelope from someone I didn't know in Revere, MA. Most of my pen pals from the International Pen Friends (IPF) are, well, international... so I was curious what this thick envelope might contain. I opened it up and out came a veritable ton of what are called "Friendship Books" (FBs.)

I couldn't figure out how I'd been gifted with this "bounty," until I discovered that one of the FBs was started for me, by one of my German pen pals.

Friendship Books are hard to explain. Wikipedia has an article about them, but it doesn't entirely do them justice. The ones I've seen are small, a quarter of a sheet of paper in size. They're handmade, often very crudely--nothing more than colored paper, side-stapled together.  On the front is a person's name and address.  This little booklet is then sent on to pen pals, each of them writing their name and address in it, and passing it along to one of THEIR pen pals, almost like a chain letter, except the idea is to fill the booklet up with people interested in receiving new pen pals. Once the book is filled, it's sent back to the person whose name is on the front/top.

EXCEPT.

There's all these unspoken rules.  Sometimes people send FBs just to see how far they'll go around the world before they come back, so, if you're using the FB to find more pen pals, you have to examine each entry carefully. Some people will just sign their name and something like, "Waving from Cleveland Ohio, and passing on!" 

There are all these codes involved: SNNP (Sorry No New Pen Pals) or NPW (New Pen Pals Wanted) or LLW (Long Letter Writer) or AS (Answers Some), as opposed to AA (Answers All).  They will often include date of birth, because a lot of pen pal seekers want to converse only with people their age. They'll also list the languages they're comfortable writing in--which has been frustrating for me. I've been trying to land a Japanese pen pal, but the ONE I spotted in a FB only wanted pen pals in Korean.  (You may be scratching your head, but international pen pals often use correspondence as a way to practice/keep up on their English/foreign language skills.)  I also actually saw someone who listed, and I kid you not, Esperanto as one of the languages they'd correspond in.  People will include lists of interests: puppies! Unicorns! Heavy Metal music! (or, another one I saw from a different Japanese FBer "I love Jesus!")

But, so I got this huge pile and for the first time went through several of them looking for the words "FB and slam swappers needed" which meant that they were willing to accept FBs, because, honestly, I kind of hate the pressure of having a bunch laying around that I haven't sent out yet.  This is the other way in which these remind me of chain letters, honestly. I have this weird sense of "AH, I should do something with this immediately!"  Anyway, I managed to unload a bunch of them that way.

I have to admit to enjoying reading through these things, strange as they are.  When I was showing these to my friend Naomi today, I read one of the longer ones in which this person wanted to swap: "FBs, postcards, teabags, magnets, bookmarks, pocket letters, ATC, flip books, washi." And, suddenly we were like, "What are pocket letters??"

So we Googled it and found that pocket letters are a crafter's answer to pen palling. You thought this was about writing to people? NOPE. This is a f*cking art form!  Pocket letters are where you fill up a nine-pocket trading card protector with cute things, like stickers, tea bags, pictures, or whatever you like and then send them to someone who will send something similar to you. You collect them in a three-ring binder, kind of like scrapbooking for strangers.

It seems kind of cool.  I may have to try it.

I feel like if I go deep enough into this pen palling culture, I'll be ready to write an exposé for Vanity Fair or Teen Vogue.

Catching up on New Worlds

Sep. 19th, 2017 03:37 pm
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

My Patreon is trucking along, but I haven’t been good about linking to it here. So have a list of recent posts!

This week’s post (sneak preview!) will be on rites of passage, followed by a bonus post on the theory of worldbuilding, since that’s one of the funding goals we’ve reached. Remember, this is all funded by my lovely, lovely patrons — and if you join their ranks, you get weekly photos, plus (at higher levels) opportunities to request post topics or get feedback on your own worldbuilding!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

The Arcing Path

Sep. 19th, 2017 03:03 pm
tbutler: (Default)
[personal profile] tbutler
20170829-P8294923.jpg

I liked finding the angle where you get to see it curve out across the lowland.

non-binding poll

Sep. 19th, 2017 02:53 pm
yhlee: heptagon and flame (mirrorweb) (hxx emblem Liozh)
[personal profile] yhlee
Because I realized there's no point in my writing prequel-to-hexarchate (or even prequel-to-heptarchate [1]) stories about all-new characters if nobody wants to read about all-new characters in the story collection. :]

[1] I had this great idea about the heptarchate's founding but.

NOTE: I make no guarantees.

Poll #18837 hexarchate story collection
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 36


What *existing* characters would you like to see more stories about?

View Answers

Shuos Jedao
24 (66.7%)

Kel Cheris
29 (80.6%)

Shuos Mikodez
20 (55.6%)

Kel Brezan
18 (50.0%)

Kel Khiruev
17 (47.2%)

Andan Niath
6 (16.7%)

Nirai Kujen
12 (33.3%)

mystery POV #1 from Revenant Gun that Yoon evilly refuses to divulge
12 (33.3%)

servitor POV #2 from Revenant Gun
18 (50.0%)

someone else that I will mention in comments
3 (8.3%)

ticky the tookie tocky
11 (30.6%)

(no subject)

Sep. 19th, 2017 09:56 am
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I just spent several minutes trying to figure out where the hell the mysterious rustling noises were coming from.

One of my cats (Alex) was entirely hidden within the depths of a shoebox-size Priority Mail box. He has just now emerged, and his sister Erin has vanished inside.

No cat photos because I don't have an X-Ray camera.
umadoshi: (walking in water)
[personal profile] umadoshi
I'll work backwards (chronologically) in this post.

I just finished registering and paying for the Friday evening class (for which [dreamwidth.org profile] wildpear and [dreamwidth.org profile] seolh were already registered), so I guess it's now a definite Thing That Will Be Happening. Time to spend the next week and a half trying to get back in the habit of stretching regularly. >.>

There was some uncertainty before I successfully got registered. The online registration process was straightforward for the trial class, but two things happened almost simultaneously re: the actual class. 1) I got a follow-up email from the studio saying they hoped I'd enjoyed the trial class and listing the beginner timeslots that still had openings...a list which did not include the one I wanted (AKA the one my friends were already registered for, not to mention being the only one that could conceivably work with Casual Job going on), and 2) the online class schedule/registration form showed "(3 Reserved, 5 Open)", but didn't have a "sign up now" button (which some others did). TBH, I still have NO clue what's going on there, but after exchanging some emails with the studio, we established that the class did have openings, and now I've given them money, so I should be good to go.

As for the actual trial class on Friday, it could get long, and involves fitness talk, so I'll put it under a cut )

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