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[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Sandy wakes up to the aroma of coffee and the sounds of someone moving about the dressing-room. Hector comes out and says, they sent to Jerome at Raxdell House to send over some fresh clothes, and he confides that he himself is still quite able to shave and dress a gentleman. Sandy would protest that he is quite able to shave himself and then looks at the trembling of the coffee in the cup from the tremors in his hand. He asks Hector what time it is.

Nigh on ten of the morning, says Hector, consulting the watch that Clorinda gave him those many years ago in Surrey.

What! He has slept the clock round and more.

When he descends to the parlour, and finds Clorinda at her desk, he asks what was in that posset?

My dear, do you accuse me of drugging you? There was a little brandy, but 'twas mostly milk and spices, quite entirely sanitive. You were quite entire exhausted, my dear.

Euphemia comes to set a substantial breakfast before him: he does not think he can possibly eat, until he starts, and discovers himself quite ravenous.

When he has finished, he says, well, he has slept, he has eaten, now he should return to Raxdell House.

Indeed not, says Clorinda, I am in the very act of writing to the new Lord Raxdell to say that, after you had convey’d me home, 'twas quite apparent that you were in a state of extreme exhaustion and I am like to fear a brain-fever do you not rest. I am in considerable concern that I should send for a physician.

He snorts and says, 'tis very kind of you, dear sibyl, but you do not need to lie for me.

Alexander MacDonald! snaps Clorinda, sure there has been a certain amount of equivocation and masquerade over the years, but this is quite the entirest truth. Sure if you endeavour leave, I shall have Hector lock you up. I will not have you work yourself into illness, sure, how can you suppose that Milord would have wanted any such thing? He left you that fine independence entirely so you should not need to. I confide that 'twould be carrying out his wishes to prevent you.

My dear, she says in gentler tones, you appear incapable of manifesting your dour Calvinistickal glare, 'tis the surest of signs that you are not your wont’d self.

His chest starts heaving and he finds himself entirely overtaken by the physical manifestations of grief. And finds himself being held by Clorinda, and when thought begins to return, has fleeting considerations about the very comforting nature of female softness, and then comes to realise that Clorinda is weeping herself.

O, he cries, I am the most selfish of fellows! As if you too do not mourn a dear friend of many years.

Why, 'tis something that we may grieve together, for who else besides ourselves would know the inwardness of the matter? She hands him a large handkerchief, while dabbing at her own cheeks with a delicate lacy affair.

And after your other losses, he goes on, conscience-stricken, remembering walking across the lawns at Raxdell House with Josiah Ferraby, smoking cigars and talking of some matter going forth in Parliament, and the other man suddenly putting a hand to his chest with an expression of startlement and crumpling to the ground. And the agonizing long illness of Eliza Ferraby, Clorinda’s pretty house become a house of sickness for those many painful months, the finest physicians and surgeons in London called upon, crack nurses in attendance, nothing to be done but to try and keep her as comfortable as possible.

O my dear, says Clorinda with a tearful laugh, sure 'tis no matter upon which one may make mathematical calculations of degrees of infelicity. But sure I hope you will remain here at least for a little while.

He looks down at his hands. It would be quite infinitely more agreeable, or at least less painful, to be here rather than at Raxdell House.

But – he begins –

O, fie upon your buts!

It is entirely too kind –

Fiddlesticks! Have we not been the dearest of friends this long while? Unless there was some other course of action you preferred – travel, or return to your native soil, or to go stay with one of your philosopher friends – sure I am a thoughtless Clorinda –

No, no, indeed no, silly creature. He sees that Clorinda is trying, with less success than usually attends, to conceal tearfulness.

Sure I should ask before going contrive, she says, blowing her nose. But I saw that fellow, quite desiring bind you to his interests, the wretch, as if you were some automaton, and – but I daresay you had your own plans already, o, I confide that behind my back I am known as that Meddlesome Marchioness –

No, dearest Clorinda, had he had time I am sure Gervase would have instructed you to kidnap me before I was beguiled by some false sense of duty into remaining. 'Twould be exceeding agreeable to me to find refuge here, but will there not be gossip?

She laughs somewhat immoderate, nigh unto hysterics, and says, my dear, we have been gossiped upon these many years, 'twill entirely be a matter of knowing tapping of noses. Sure scandalmonging tongues have had us abed together this long while.

Well, he says, was that tedious journey across France with the masquerade of marriage, and that time in Scarborough -

- The one room left in any hostelry that we would have cared to sleep in, sure I had not consider’d how popular a watering-place 'twas -

- awake half the night arguing about a device for some Gothick tale of yours!

They look at one another with affection.

I confide, says Clorinda, that Jerome would be the one to apply to about your trunks –

There are, he says, some matters of papers in the office that are to do with my own business –

Sure, says Clorinda, 'twould be a shocking thing was it discovered upon you that you were that savage critic, Deacon Brodie; and I daresay there is a philosophical treatise or so that you have never had the leisure to prepare for publication, that you might wish take in hand now –

Dearest Clorinda, you have ever read me like a book; so I will go to Raxdell House and pack them up myself, and make various commendations of the clerks to the new Viscount, and advance the interest of those that might suit as secretary –

Quite excellent ton!

So the next day he goes to Raxdell House, and the new Viscount displays excellent ton himself in saying that now he considers upon the matter and sees Mr MacDonald’s condition, indeed he realises that 'twould be an entire imposition to ask him to take on this task, but would be exceeding grateful of his advice. He also remarks upon the sanitive benefits of sea-voyages.

So Sandy says that Mr Cartwright has a very fine understanding of the general business of the Raxdell interests – His Lordship will surely know that for many years he himself acted very much in the capacity of a political advisor to the late Viscount, rather than having the day to day administration of affairs in his hands. Cartwright he confides would give entire satisfaction was he promoted to the entire oversight of the estates, the management of Raxdell House &C.

Why, says His Lordship, does not suppose he will follow in the late Viscount’s political footsteps – Sandy confides not, for just the mention of these makes the fellow look uneasy – although of course will take his seat in the Lords.

He then opens a drawer in his desk and says, sure these legal fellows take a deal of a time about settling all the matters of the will, but he and his dear lady have been looking into some of the personal matters themselves, and they confide that these are the items that the late Viscount wished Lady Bexbury to have.

There is the snuffbox – he knows that there was some private joke 'twixt Gervase and Clorinda about the snuffbox – and the various pieces of jewellery, including the famed pink diamond parure and several fine rings.

The Viscount clears his throat, and says that the Viscountess finds herself quite translated into this new and unanticipated sphere, has no connections in Town Society, is at somewhat of a loss as to how she should proceed. Has heard that there are certain ladies of fine breeding and understanding of ton that alas find themselves financially embarrassed and may be hired as advisors, but –

Sandy has not spent these many years as confidante to the exquisite Dowager Marchioness of Bexbury to misunderstand what the Viscount reaches at. He indicates that, does Lady Bexbury suppose she will be welcome, she will certainly call and her understanding of the usages of Society is everywhere most highly esteemed. (He cannot imagine that Clorinda will not relish the task.)

The Viscount looks exceeding relieved.

After they have taken civil leave of one another, he goes to the office to be about packing up his things. Cartwright comes in and says, there are a deal of letters marked for his personal attention have lately come. He frowns, spreads them out upon the desk, observes the franks and the seals and realizes that these are from members of their coterie and wider circles, and that though he is sure they have writ condolences in entire formal fashion to the new Viscount, they convey the messages of sympathy from long friendship to himself. Treacherous tears come to his eyes, even as he thinks that Clorinda would laugh and point out that he is not an antient mariner alone upon the waves with a dead seagull about his neck but has a deal of social connections.

He pushes the letters into a tidy pile, blinking as he does so, and manages to compose himself sufficiently to say, he will take them with him to Lady Bexbury’s where he may peruse them at leisure, and do any more come, should be sent there. But he dares say it gets about that he may be found at that direction.

Cartwright asks, with a trace of anxiety in his tone, whether Mr MacDonald does not intend remain in the service of the Viscount?

Sandy can tell from the change of Cartwright’s expression that his own has become dour and Calvinistickal. He blinks again and says, hoping that his features show more amiable, that he confides that the present Viscount does not have the same political interests, and in respect of all the quotidian matters of administration, Mr Cartwright is eminently fitted to carry them out; he has spoke to the Viscount already to that effect. Is there any matter of advice on particular questions required, he is quite entirely at their service.

But, he says, did His late Lordship trouble to leave me an independence, I think it shows respectful of his wishes to go enjoy it.

(Though the notion of enjoyment seems some wild fantastical opium dream, a phantasm.)

Hector’s fine strapping son Ben comes to say, the boxes are all stowed in the carriage, was there anything more needed put in?

Sandy says that he confides that Jerome has the matter of clothes well under hand and he has enough at present to serve, 'tis not as though he intends going about in Society. He picks up the letters, shakes Cartwright firmly by the hand saying he will do most excellently, and follows Ben out to the carriage. Ben goes sit beside Nick on the box after closing the door upon him, and they drive off.

Jul. 27th, 2017 08:38 am

Fernando the Fearless

green_knight: Baby Tapir in the Denver Zoo, sticking out his tongue (Sticky Tongue)
[personal profile] green_knight


This was linked on a forum I read. I've occasionally heard the title 'I love Lucy', but this was the first time I've watched any of it. My mental image will forever be.... somewhat skewed.

Olé!
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sovay: (What the hell ass balls?!)
[personal profile] sovay
I made a new icon. I'm not sure how much I'm going to use it, but something about the ongoing politics seemed to call for it. I believe I have [personal profile] choco_frosh to thank for introducing me to the original context in Questionable Content. Anybody who finds the icon useful should feel free to abstract it.
Jul. 26th, 2017 11:59 pm

Wednesday Yardening

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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Today was sweltering.  We picked up two piles of grass, but that's all I had energy for.  It's raining now. 
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
The July 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl made its $200 goal, so you get a free epic. Everyone is eligible to vote in this poll. I'll keep it open until at least Thursday night. If there's a clear answer then, I'll close it. Otherwise I may keep it open longer.

The following poems are available:

"Big Brother and the Cyberbully"
Summary: When a cyberbully does grievous damage, a supervillain makes a calculated counterattack.
106 lines, $53

"The Things That Money Can't Buy"
Summary: A tycoon with an excess of money and an absence of sense or compassion can cut a wide swath through life.
94 lines, $47

"No Power Like the Power of Youth"
Summary: When racist protesters try to invade a largely black neighborhood, they meet with some serious opposition.
142 lines, $71

Poll #18615 Free Epic for July 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 9


Which of these should be the free epic?

View Answers

"Big Brother and the Cyberbully"
3 (33.3%)

"The Things That Money Can't Buy"
2 (22.2%)

"No Power Like the Power of Youth"
4 (44.4%)

Jul. 26th, 2017 03:06 pm

The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells

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[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
I haven't reviewed anything here in far, far too long, and I certainly didn't think this book would be the thing to push me into wanting to write something. However. At Readercon, I picked up the new collection of Ursula K. Le Guin essays, Words Are My Matter, of which this is not a review because I am nowhere near finishing it, and I noticed that there are three separate essays on H. G. Wells. Three! This is not unique, in the structure of the book-- there are also three separate essays on José Saramago-- but that makes more sense to me, because Saramago, you know, Nobel laureate, relatively recent death, work in an interesting position vis-à-vis speculative fiction as a genre, there are some conversations to be had there that seem very much in Le Guin's chosen critical milieu. But H. G. Wells! Hasn't everything been said already?

Then it occurred to me that I, personally, had not read any Wells since the age of eight or nine, when I'd read The Time Machine and found it pretty and confusing, and then hit The War of the Worlds and found it extremely upsetting and went away again. So I went back. The Time Machine is indeed very pretty, though far less confusing to an older person. The Island of Dr. Moreau turned out to be the most vicious piece of theological criticism I have encountered in years, and an actual novel with things like character dimensionality to boot, as well as such an obvious influence on Lovecraft that I was shocked I hadn't heard that mentioned before. And then I got to The War of the Worlds.

It turns out the reason I found it very upsetting at eight or nine was because it is very upsetting, and at that age I had no context for or capacity to handle the ways in which it is upsetting.

We all know the basic plot: Martians invade, humans are technologically overpowered and defeated, Martians eventually drop dead because of Earth's microbiota. The novel came out in 1898, after having been serialized the year before, and has been dramatized and redramatized and ripped off and remade so often and so thoroughly that it has entered the collective unconscious.

The original novel, however, is notable in intellectual history not just for the archetype of the merciless and advanced alien invaders, but because it is an ice-cold prevision of the nightmares of the twentieth century. The phrase 'concentration camp' had already been coined, c. late 1860s by the Spanish in Cuba, though it would not become widely known by the English-speaking public until the Boer War, which Wells' novel just predates; that phrase is the only part of the vocabulary of future war to which Wells could have had access, and the phrase does not appear in the novel. Here are some of the concepts that do, without, as yet, any names: Genocide. Total war. Gas attack. Blitzkrieg. Extermination camp. Shellshock/PTSD. (Also, on a slightly different note, airplane.)

Wells' vision of war was ruthless, efficiently technological, distanced from the reader of the time only by the fact that the perpetrators were incomprehensible aliens. But he does not let you rely on the comforting myth that it would take an alien to perpetrate these atrocities, as perhaps the book's worst scene, in terms of sheer grueling terror and pain, is the sequence in which six million people attempt to evacuate London on no notice, with no overall organization, no plans, and the train as the most modern form of transportation. The Martians are miles away from that, literally. The only thing Wells spares you is the actual numbers of the death toll... but you can get an informed idea.

And, just in case you happen to believe that people (as opposed to aliens) are too good at heart for this sort of warfare, this novel is also a savage theological takedown*, in which the idea of humanity as the center of a cosmos created by a benevolent God is repeatedly stomped on by the sheer plausibility of the nightmare, the cold hard logistics of enemy approach + insanely destructive new bombing technology = frantic evacuation and a military rout. The priests and churchmen in War of the Worlds generally go insane**; their philosophical framework has left them ill-equipped to handle the new reality. Wells is displaying humanity as a species of animal, no more nor less privileged existentially than other sorts of animal, who may be treated by a sufficiently technological other animal in the way that humans often treat ants. He explicitly uses ants as the comparison.

This is where I noticed something fascinating. War of the Worlds has the most peculiar version of protagonist-centered morality that I have ever encountered: only the protagonist and his nearest and dearest are allowed to perform moral actions that are not shown in aggregate.

Everyone else either does good as a faceless mass, or neutral-to-evil at close proximity. The military, as a force, is allowed to act against the Martians, which is seen by definition as moral, but they are at a distance from the novel's viewpoint such that they don't emerge as people while they are fighting-- we meet an occasional refugee from a destroyed division, but we don't see people giving orders, taking orders, firing weapons. When the ramship Thunder Child attacks two Martians at close range in order to save shipping in the Channel evacuation-- a sequence distressingly like Dunkirk, only in the opposite direction and sixty years early-- it's one of the few acts of heroism and selflessness in the novel that actually works, and it's the ship personified who takes the action. Here's the middle of the fight:

"She was alive still; the steering gear, it seems, was intact and her engines working. She headed straight for a second Martian, and was within a hundred yards of him when the Heat-Ray came to bear. Then with a violent thud, a blinding flash, her decks, her funnels, leaped upward. The Martian staggered with the violence of her explosion, and in another moment the flaming wreckage, still driving forward with the impetus of its pace, had struck him and crumpled him up like a thing of cardboard."***

Notice how there are no humans, individual or otherwise, even mentioned here. And this is the high point of the book as far as moral action taken, a direct self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. Individual people range from the curate who hears the narrator calling for water "for hours" and doesn't bring him any to the men whom the narrator's brother finds in the process of robbing two ladies and has to fight off at gunpoint. Even most mob action is inimical, including things like the looting of shops and the literal trampling underfoot of the weak.

The narrator and his brother, however, mostly behave as one would hope to behave in a catastrophe. They are constantly picking up strays, helping total strangers pack to evacuate, fighting off muggers, attempting to assist the trampled, sharing their provisions with others, etc.. They are the only people in the book who do this sort of thing-- every other individual (except a couple of the strays, who are there to be rescued and get in the way) is out for themselves and can, at very best, be bought with cash on the barrel at a high price.

Now, it's not that the narrator and his brother are saints. They're fully developed, three-dimensional, relatively decent people. The brother participates in the looting of a bike shop, refuses water to a dying man for fear of putting his own people in danger, and fails to rescue anyone from the relentless trample. The narrator may well kill a man to save his own life, and certainly aids and abets the murder if he does not strike the final blow (it's impossible to find out exactly when the man dies or what specifically killed him).

The odd thing is that nobody else has any of their virtues. No one else is picking up strays; no one who isn't under military orders to do it is knocking on doors to begin the evacuation; no one is giving away food and water; no one except the military is attempting to place themselves between those they love and danger. In short, there is none of the kind of everyday, tiny, sometimes futile heroism that the twentieth century has shown us is almost impossible to beat out of humans entirely.

Now, I think this is intentional, as part of Wells's argument: the Martians have broken the human social order as if it were an anthill, and none of the ants has any idea what to do anymore. It's part of the demystification of humanity's place in the cosmos and the insistence on our nature as intelligent animals.

However, I think it skews the thought experiment in two ways: firstly, the narrator (and the only other POV character, the brother) have to be decent enough that we as readers are willing to read a book from their perspectives, and in 1898 that was harder than it is now. "Probably murdered somebody who wasn't a villain or an enemy combatant, and is never punished for it in any way except by vague remorse" is a pretty radical stance for a first-person narrator in an English novel of that period, and Wells has to talk us round into considering this a sympathetic or at least justifiable stance by having the narrator be in most other ways a flat-out hero. I don't think this does too much damage to his argument, as the resemblance of the narrator to other hero-types of the period makes Wells's more radical premises easier to communicate than they would otherwise be. It's not the presence of altruism in the narrator that is the major way the experiment is skewed.

It's the absence of altruism in others, as shown by the work of Rebecca Solnit, the memoirs of Primo Levi, the oral histories of the camp survivors of several cultures: one reason The War of the Worlds is so very upsetting is that its events are more unmitigatedly depressing than the same circumstances would be in real life. One of the wisest men of the twentieth century, Fred Rogers, said that in tough situations you should look for the helpers (and somewhere elsenet I saw the corollary, which I think Mr. Rogers considered implicit but which could use unpacking anyway, that if you cannot find them, the helpers had better be you). In The War of the Worlds there are no helpers at all, except what little the narrator and his brother can manage. We have actual science now about the way people form communities in catastrophe; we have innumerable anecdotes from the worst places and times in the world about those who in small ways, quietly, do what they can for others with what they have. It's not that Wells was wrong about us being animals, about trying to knock us off the pedestal that insists that everything was made for humanity and we are the only important beings. It's that while we are a social animal, we are a social animal on the micro-level as well as on the macro, and we have now seen that the micro-level does not have to be limited to immediate biological family, because the bonds of catastrophe can cause, and in fact seem to produce, some amount, tiny though it may be, of genuinely altruistic behavior.

When I happened to say to [personal profile] nineweaving that I was in the middle of a Wells re/read, she promptly replied with a couplet from a comic verse she had memorized as a child: "H. G. Wells / Creates new hells."

Which is true. His Martian invasion, the twentieth century through a glass darkly, is right up there on the list of the most nihilistic things I've ever read, not because of the Martians, but because none of the humans are outright villains. Some of them are insane, and some are annoying, and many are behaving in ways unconducive to long-term survival, and all of them are terrified; but you believe in them not only as individuals but as a plausible set of people for the narrator to run into in the middle of a war. It's only after thinking about it for quite a while afterwards that I noticed how neatly Wells had removed the capacity for altruism from his secondary characters. The Martians are frightening and cool and interesting (and clearly described as being drawn by H. R. Giger, which has not made it into any of the adaptations I've seen), but I think one reason this particular nightmare has lasted so long and clung so thoroughly in the back of our heads is that it would take recreating these terrible catastrophes in almost every particular to prove him wrong about the essentials of human nature and the ways people would behave in these circumstances. That's part of the book's appalling genius.

The thing is, though-- we did.

And he is.



* albeit not as much of one as Moreau, which is saying something

** that classical nineteenth-century insanity in which they rant and rave and chew the furniture, i.e. nothing you can find in the DSM, and therefore I just use 'insane' as I am not sure there is a less aggravating descriptor for this particular literary trope

*** Via Project Gutenberg's HTML copy
Jul. 26th, 2017 09:53 pm

Poem: "This Hazardous Business"

ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the July 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "secret allies" square in my 6-16-17 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. This poem belongs to the Kraken thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains some intense and controversial topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It touches on passing, bisexuality, multiracial heritage, activism, homophobia, transphobia, mistaken identity, prejudice against people with superpowers, a cat girl, prostitution, a dog boy, homelessness, and other angst. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

Read more... )
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] sovay
In today's political news, I would like to introduce the man in the White House to the Greek hero Kaineus (m.), born Kainis (f.), whom it took the entire Centaur side of the Centauromachy to defeat, his invulnerable body hammered all the way down to Hades with stones and piled pine trees. We can argue about what the United States should be doing with its armed forces, but not about who counts sufficiently as people to continue serving safely in them.

1. On the very crowded Red Line around five-thirty this afternoon, I saw two girls—late high school, early college, one white-looking and one not—practicing what they called "subway surfing," keeping their balance without recourse to poles or hangers or fellow passengers as the train rocked and bucked between Harvard and Davis. I appreciated what they were doing; the car was so sardine-packed that I couldn't get near a handhold myself, plus I was carrying a couple of books from the dollar-sticker carts outside the Harvard Book Store (I sense a theme) and a halva brownie from Tatte's that was trying to melt through its paper bag. It was a miserable commute experience and they were making the best they could of it. I did not appreciate the male commuter about my age who turned around as he got off the train at Porter to yell at the girls for "screaming in [his] ears." They stopped subway surfing after he left. They separated and found different poles to hang on to and did not try to talk to one another across the thinning space of commuters between them. The thing is, the guy had not even been their neighbor. He'd been standing right in front of me the entire time, holding on to the pole I couldn't find room on. He could legitimately have yelled at me for breathing into the nape of his neck, but even had the girls been shouting at the tops of their lungs, thanks to our respective positions their conversation would still have had to travel through me before getting anywhere near his ears. So when the train ground to a halt between stations—because there was another train on the line, because the T never has enough money, because Charlie Baker would rather privatize public transit than allocate it any reasonable amount of public funds and incidentally fuck the unions—and there was a brief lull in the racketing noise, I attracted the attention of the nearer girl and told her that she and her friend were great subway surfers, that I'd seen and appreciated them, and that the guy had been completely out of line. I hope it didn't weird her out. I wanted to give them a reality check. The guy annoyed me. Congratulations, you don't like being on a sardine car at rush hour—neither does anyone else, but at least those girls were getting something fun out of it. They weren't losing their footing and banging into people. They were laughing. Don't yell at people when they're trying to make the world better. I feel this lesson can and should be generalized.

2. I did not expect to find myself explaining the technicalities of 70 mm to a completely different set of kids at the door of the Somerville Theatre, but they all bought tickets for Dunkirk (2017) and showed interest in the upcoming 70 mm festival—they wanted to know not just about the format itself and whether it would look different from a DCP of the same movie (spoiler: yes) but the system on which the film would be shown, which I could at least explain was not a Hateful Eight retrofit but a pair of Philips Norelco DP70s designed for just this format, installed in this theater well before Tarantino started shooting in Ultra Panavision, lovingly maintained, and capable of magnetic rather than digital sound. Then I got asked how it was possible to show 70 and 35 mm on the same machines and at that point my knowledge of down- and upconverting degenerated into "I'm not the projectionist! I don't even work here!" (After the conversation was over, I promptly went upstairs and bugged David the projectionist about the specifics just in case this ever happens to me again. I hate being asked technical questions for which I have only partial answers; it makes me feel worse than having no answers at all.) Mostly they seemed concerned that they wouldn't be able to appreciate the beautiful information density of the format if it was filtered through a system that wasn't built to handle it, the same way the high fidelity of a recording is immaterial if all you can play it back through is some crackly laptop speakers. I could reassure them that was not going to be the experience at the Somerville. I realize that programs for movies are not so much a thing anymore, but I'm thinking for this one maybe it couldn't hurt.

3. I like the photograph of this person who looks like they are wearing a spell of the sea: Taylor Oakes, "Rhue."

4. I am delighted that I have now read multiple poems employing Wittgenstein's concept of language-games, also specifically this ambiguity: Veronica Forrest-Thomson, "Ducks & Rabbits."

5. In unexpected and welcome writing news, Clockwork Phoenix 5 is a finalist for a World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology. I have a story in it, so obviously I hope it wins, but the rest of the list is full of extremely cool people and the extremely cool things they have written and I wish everyone luck!
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Firstly, it takes very little discussion of regulations for my eyes to glaze over. Secondly, and far less constructively, if someone proposes a system that relies on genres like science fiction and fantasy being distinct rather than overlapping sets, I will start thinking about the worthy works that live in the overlap.
Jul. 26th, 2017 07:59 pm

reading wednesday

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[personal profile] boxofdelights
• What are you reading?

Chimera, by John Barth. Last read in college, when I was studying computer science, and everything Barth said about alphabets and stories seemed to be a direct reflection of something Turing discovered about numbers and computing machines. "The key to the treasure is the treasure."

• What did you recently finish reading?

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. I had been putting this off, because my non-SF-reading friends were saying it was really good but my SF-reading friends were finding it disappointing, which usually means I'll find it disappointing. Turns out it's really good!

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson, for Tawanda book group.
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Jul. 26th, 2017 08:55 pm

What Am I Reading Wednesday - July 26

lebateleur: Sweet Woodruff (Default)
[personal profile] lebateleur
What I Just Finished Reading

The Book of Three – Lloyd Alexander
It's been almost 30 years since I first read this and it's only got better with age as I notice things I did not pick up on then. Alexander is one of the best, and everyone should read the Prydain Chronicles.

Preacher – All Hell's A-Coming – Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon
This volume also entertains, after nearly 20 years. That said, Preacher's is an at times uncomfortable brand of humor—you laugh at Ennis' panache while feeling guilty that you're laughing in the first place, and I lose some steam on the final issue, because I don't find anything objectionable about eating horsemeat.

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet – Charlie Holmberg
I hate to say it, but this book failed to live up to its potential. Characters and plot elements I thought were going to be expanded in delicious ways went in entirely different directions (or no direction at all) and while the plot is ambitious the book meanders for far too long before it even hints at what that plot is, so readers are likely to begin drawing their own conclusions and not end up with anything like the book they thought they were reading. That said, it's by no means a bad book, and compared to many current fantasy offerings it does not stick to established tropes.


What I Am Currently Reading

The Infidel Stain – MJ Carter
Still truckin'.

China – Kathy Flower
Truckin.'

Clariel – Garth Nix
In this week's chapters, we have intimations that all was not right in the past, and continues to go poorly in the present. Clariel is beginning to cotton on to the fact that all is not as it seems in the capital.

Uprooted – Naomi Novik
I'm beginning to remember why I burned out a bit during the arc set in the capital city. It's very well written, but such an abrupt change from the preceeding narrative that it disrupts the meditative flow of the read.


What I'm Reading Next
Black and DiTerlizzi's Lucinda's Secret, Alexander's The Black Cauldron, and either Turner's A Conspiracy of Kings or Gaiman's Norse Gods.

これで以上です。
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[syndicated profile] oxforddnb_feed

Today's biography from the Oxford DNB:
Dolin, Sir Anton [real name Sydney Francis Patrick Chippindall Healey Kay] (1904-1983), ballet dancer
Jul. 26th, 2017 05:07 pm

W00t!

stonebender: (Default)
[personal profile] stonebender
Guess what? They did it! This time my second dose of Spinraza is swirling around in my spinal column. It was still pretty difficult this time although they did make some adjustments. I got a CT scan in addition to fluoroscope. I guess the CT gave them a little more information. Apparently I have a lot of bone in the way of some natural access points. The one place they’ve managed to be successful is a fairly small hole and they’ve got to approach it at just the right angle. They worked on me for about an hour. Having gone through this the day before, Tuesday’s hour was about my limit.

Another adjustment they made, was not putting me on the table until the doctors were ready to proceed. I still had to wait while they checked my spine out with the fluoroscope, but at least all the time I was on the table they were working towards the injection. I’m going to have a long conversation with the doctors in the near future. There must be some way they can make this process easier. I’m not so worried about getting my “loading” doses but I am concerned about the continuing process of getting these shots. I have a third dose in two weeks and then a fourth dose a month after that. Then I need to get a dose every four months for the rest of my life. I guess I will deal if I have to but it’s a discouraging prospect.

I’m going to try to respond to everyone individually, but if I don’t get to you, please know that all of your support with the support of my family makes it possible for me to go through this. I think I’ve noticed some improvements in my physical status, but I hesitate to talk about it much this early in the process. I will keep people informed.
Jul. 26th, 2017 06:30 pm

layers and layers

twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
If you want to understand what is going on in DC, you have to think of it as a layer cake, one of those many-layer tortes, or maybe as layers of rock in geological strata, from sedimentary stuff at the bottom of a lake and igneous and metamorphic rock shoving up and transforming because of heat and pressure, with magma at the bottom of it all, or at the center, depending on the diagram you learned from.

What am I talking about? Stuff where Trump opens his mouth and sick toads fall out and sit on the sidewalk, blinking and vomiting. Ugly sick bloated toads, like the speech to the Boy Scouts and the outrageous dismissal of all transgender military personnel.

(My apologies to all truly healthy toads throughout the country, living their lives peaceably, eating flies and mosquitos and staying far from politics.)

I know these things are serious. I know. The president is trampling on people's value, on people's lives, in every direction, cynically and carelessly. But you cannot take them as the only thing that is happening. Horrible as they are, they are only the poisoned icing on the cake, the noxious smoke from the volcano, the peeling top layer of slate. They are *meant* to get you mad. They are *designed* to keep you upset.

Why? So you won't pay attention to what's going on behind the scenes, down there in the strata. Down there, the separation of church and state is being eroded. Women's right to have a say about how their own bodies are treated is being chipped away. The little tiny things we do not see that have huge effects, things that pile up, like permission to get past environmental checks before running oil and gas pipelines near drinking water. The elimination of much of the Congressional Budget Office staff because they vetoed Trumpnocare. I could go on and on. Often I do, and you see it here; sometimes I don't even put it here because it gets me that upset.

I am not saying not to be upset. It is upsetting. Transpeople should be able to serve in the military without comment. To say otherwise is a violation of equal rights under the law. Boy Scouts (and Girl Scouts and other young people's groups) should not have to listen to insane political harangues, should not be put into that arena. National monuments, parks and seashores should stay untouched by developers, drillers, exploiters.

But yelling at Trump, writing to him, even if it feels good to you, won't make a difference. He does not give a flying fuck about any of us -- why would he care about how any subset of us is affected? He thinks health care costs $12 a month. He probably thinks someone who is transgender changes their clothes on a train, or in transit. There is no limit to his lack of understanding and his lack of caring about anything he doesn't understand.

Keep your eyes on the small stuff, the bits and pieces that aren't on page one. Look for what's on page six or the back of a section, with a smaller headline (or in places like The Hill or Politico or other politically based newsletters. Pick one or two areas that interest you, and follow what is going on with them.

And then write your Senators and Congresspeople about them -- on their own email system. (yes, here is that contact list again.) They cannot ignore mail from their own constituents for long. If the time is short, phone and ask to talk to a staff person, instead of leaving a message. Tell them what you think, what you want, briefly and to the point. Tell them you're outraged, when you are. Tell them what you think of what Trump is doing, and (if your rep or Senator is Republican) how can any thinking person possibly agree or support this, because (up to three good reasons). And then, "Thank you for hearing me as a constituent", and give them your name as it is on the voter rolls so they can look it up. Once a week. Pick one thing a week. The staffers should start recognizing your name, your voice.

And keep an eye on the vulnerable Republican seats, House and Senate, the ones that can be overturned in the next election. Support the people running in the primaries to oppose the heartless idiots in office.

Do not be taken in by the sparkly floor show with the mouthy MC. Keep your eyes on what's happening behind the curtain, up in the lighting gallery, over in the wings. That's where things are being done. Look for possible trades and swaps -- Reps and Senators voting for things they should not vote for -- and ask them why they are making such poor, harmful choices? Who benefits from these choices? Follow the money, but also follow the influence. Who's being bought and sold here?

I trust you, all of you. I don't know you that well, but I trust you to do the right thing insofar as you know what it is, and to ask good questions when it isn't obvious. Go find the molten lava under the rock and raise hell. Go and comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, because every one of us matters.
Jul. 26th, 2017 09:54 pm

Very brief Reading/Media Wednesday

naye: (book)
[personal profile] naye
In these dark times, a little joy can go a long way: The Toast is back for a one-day spectacular. (It's spectacular because they're back. And it's one day of posts just like in the old days, except without the comments...)

Things Read
Finally started Harbors of the Sun, the last Raksura novel, and I'm really enjoying the sweet interpersonal stuff and the fast-paced adventure that's the plot. Love Martha Wells' boundless imagination and fantastic world building.

Things Watched
We watched Kingsman this weekend, and it was the perfect movie for a Friday night with pizza and beer.

Just started Little Witch Academia which seems quite enjoyable - a show about girls! Without any boys at all! And so far a total of 0 panty shots?! Color me pleasantly surprised.

Twin Peaks: The Return blows my mind every single week and episode 11 was one of my favorites in a series that has been thoroughly outstanding.

Was home alone without Skuld for an evening, and checked out Saiyuki: Reload Blast, and it pretty much overwhelmed me with nostalgia. I have so many memories of the Saiyuki fandom both online and in Japan, and it's so bittersweet to have a new season now in 2017. (That's. Uh. ...14 years after I got in to it?)

Future Things
After I finish Harbors of the Sun there's other new releases to catch up on - like Megan Whalen Turner's Thick as Thieves. But I haven't settled on anything yet. The way the world is going, maybe I'll just re-read all of Yotsuba&! and Chi's Sweet Home. :/
Jul. 26th, 2017 04:53 pm

follow-ups

twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
1. Re coffee ice cream: Kineticatrue was in western NY recently, just after I wrote about coffee ice cream, and she brought me back two half-gallon tubs of Perry's Ice Cream, the brand I grew up with. One of them is Coldbrew and Cream -- stripes of good coffee and vanilla -- and the other is something like Bittersweet Sinphony -- espresso ice cream with dark chocolate chips in it. That one is more or less the precursor of my favorite Ben & Jerry's, Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz. Yum! Thank you!

2. Sometimes not doing research for a long time because of the cost of travel, and health issues, pays off.

When I started looking for information on Ebenezer Allan, in particular some information on his correspondence with Gen. Haldemand in Quebec, I stumbled across the Michigan Historical Society's annual publications from the late 1800s -- which specialize in the history of the Great Lakes region. And they have published in four volumes Haldemand's correspondence since he was assigned to this region (he had previously been in Florida, I'm sure I don't know why) from 1776 to about 1790. And it's all scanned in online now.

I have the links so I can read it on computer, but that's kind of tedious when it's 1800 pages or so -- and I want to know more about the context. So I am downloading the volumes, one at a time, to my Kindle, reading and making bookmarks; when I'm done, I can go back to the online version (which does not have transcription errors) and copy/paste or type the relevant passages with the bibliographic data (which doesn't come through completely on the Kindle).

Where I'm reading, at the moment, Haldemand has arrived, and is telling the officers running various forts that they are spending way too much money and they have to cut back, and can't the soldiers live on venison and fish they catch from the lakes? I have already read a later letter back to him from Brigadier MacLean, who ran Fort Niagara, about the problems of running out of treaty-specified gifts to Indians of various tribes -- they are supposed to get trousers and he only has shirts, and has had to borrow some from the men, which is not right, and even get some from Fort Erie -- and as I read it I can see MacLean gritting his teeth and trying not to scream because he's writing his boss -- but it comes across at times as *massively bitchy* in the best understated British sense of it. One of the references I already have is a letter of MacLean's to a friend (filed under Scottish Immigrant Papers in the Archives of Ontario) where he lets his hair down and his ire out of the bag and says exactly what he thinks of what's going on when Haldemand did not send the troops to back up the ones retreating and how angry and disappointed everyone was: "The Indians say, "The king has a fool for a general." I cannot disagree."

This is going to be *fun*.

ETA: The other places this info is available is in Michigan and in Quebec, neither of them near enough for convenient research, certainly not for the time to read all 1800 pages. So this is truly a gift.

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