Weekly Reading

Jul. 28th, 2016 07:14 pm
torachan: (Default)
[personal profile] torachan
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading vol. 3 of Amaama to Inazuma, which continues to be in the "cute but not in love with it" category for me.

Bookwise, I'm a couple chapters in to The Westing Game, which I read several times as a kid, but remember virtually nothing about. I saw [personal profile] thefourthvine tweet about it the other day and was like, oh hey, I remember liking that, and here we are.

What did you recently finish reading?
I finished several things!

I finally finished For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood. Overall it was interesting, but I really got bogged down in the detailed explanations of how to implement his suggestions in the classroom. Obviously that would be a real plus to readers who actually are teachers (whether in the "hood" or not; honestly a lot of his suggestions are just good strategies overall in terms of getting students more engaged in learning rather than just straight up lecturing to them), but for me it was slow going. Also it really did feel like an academic text, rather than something aimed at laymen, and as such just wasn't as engaging to me.

I also read Fallout by Gwenda Bond, a YA novel about teen!Lois Lane getting her start in journalism. It was a lot of fun, but I kind of wish it had left out Clark Kent as her mysterious chat buddy and just focused on her and the friends she makes at her new Metropolis high school. It looks like there's a second book out in the series, and I'm definitely going to pick that up at some point.

Mangawise, I finished up Tetsugaku Letra, a short (6 volume) series about a boy who takes up flamenco dancing after a chance encounter with a girl who is about to throw her dance shoes away because she's too tall and awkward for dancing. The boy was about to throw away his basketball shoes because he's no good at basketball, and instead they trade shoes. At first he just sticks her shoes in the shoe cabinet at home, but a couple years later he happens to see her playing basketball, now the star of her team, and using his old shoes as a good luck charm. This prompts him to take her dance shoes out of the cabinet and finds they are just his size, and he decides to find someone to teach him flamenco dancing. It was pretty cute! (It looks like it's been fully scanlated at Batoto.)

What do you think you'll read next?
No idea! I'm not really near the point of picking something else yet.

At the last minute

Jul. 28th, 2016 09:42 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
Next week I'm travelling to Hungary, a country I've never visited before. We (well, mostly [livejournal.com profile] ghoti) planned the essential bits, the travel and accommodation, months ago, but it's come up faster than I'd expected and I haven't had time to think about what we're actually going to do there. It doesn't really matter since we're a party of five adults and two children, so I'm sure other people will have ideas, but I thought I might ask for advice anyway.

I made you some ticky boxes )
rydra_wong: Text: "Your body is a battleground" over photo of 19th-C strongwoman. (body -- battleground)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
So, following on from the book list and the assorted things I've filed erratically under the embodiment tag over the years ...

Anyone have interest in a comm to discuss, well, this sort of stuff?

For people who are interested in/curious about/like reading about movement practices (and other miscellaneous somatic practices) which may or may not be "sports"), and in thinkiness about how they affect/are affected by our experiences of being in bodies?

I'd want it to be a place where people can share and compare experiences (and books and films and random thoughts) across disciplines. I want to know how my experiences with climbing relate to other people's experience with ballet, or yoga, or Brazilian ju-jitsu. Or long walks. I want to hear from people who don't do a particular movement practice any more because of reasons. Or why a particular practice conects for a particular person. I want a place to discuss how mental illnesses affect/are affected by our movement practices, or how we juggle movement practices with mobility impairment or chronic pain, and what all of that means for ideas of "fitness", and how/if we do these things in bodies which aren't "ideal" or don't fit conventional standards for "sportiness". I want to talk about gender, obviously. And what it means when we have sports injuries or do activities involving some level of risk, or other things which are not considered "healthy". And whether ballet pointe shoes are or aren't like climbing shoes, and how one learns to fall in all the different activities that involve falling, and all the possible cross-activity forms of geekery, as concrete or theoretical as we can manage.


Anyone else possibly interested?

Art, nature, culture

Jul. 28th, 2016 05:02 pm
oursin: Painting of Rydale by Barbara Bodichon (Bodichon)
[personal profile] oursin

Partner took today off work, and we went over to Dulwich Picture Gallery to see the Winifred Knights exhibition, which is very good, though a bit thwarting that there seem to be more studies for than finished paintings, and that she died relatively young just as she was getting back into painting after WWII.

And her career seems to have been successful at the time - she won major prizes, got gratifying commissions, was highly praised - unlike so many women artists who seem to have operated in solitude until very late life brought recognition, but then she dropped off the radar. This may be to do with changing fashions in AHHHHRT, or it may be more sinisterly part of the How To Suppress Women's [Creative Endeavours of Choice]. One also wonders that if she had not died so young there might have been that Rediscovery of Grand Old Lady Artist thing working in her favour?

Also, yay for her surrounding influences, which included an aunt who was active in the suffrage movement, women's trades unions, and the Fabians, and introduced her to Edward Carpenter!

We then walked across Dulwich Park - part of the Green Chain - where wildlife spotted included heron, coots (yay: coot AND hern!), moorhens, ducks, ducklings, geese and parakeets.

This took us, by way of some fairly dreary main roads, to the Horniman Museum - which was a bit noisy with family groups, but that goes with the territory I guess. Last visited over 12 years ago and I think it had had some doing up in the interim.

Still didn't manage to get to the gardens, as it came on to rain at the point when we might have contemplated these.

Daily Happiness

Jul. 28th, 2016 12:28 am
torachan: ryu from kimi ni todoke eating ramen (ramen)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Long day at work, but I have tomorrow off!

2. I posted manga! There's just one more that I want to squeeze in before the end of the month and I'm hoping to get it done tomorrow.

3. We had some really delicious watermelon tonight. (Actually we've been having delicious watermelon fairly often lately.)

4. We now have two different boxes with crinkly packing paper in them and the kitties love them so much.

torachan: (koi-iji)
[personal profile] torachan

Title: Koi-iji: Love Glutton
Original Title: こいいじ (Koiiji)
Author: Shimura Takako
Publisher: Kiss
Genre: Josei
Status in Japan: 3 volumes, ongoing
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations feat. Migeru
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates

Summary: 31-year-old Mame has been in love with her childhood friend Souta ever since she can remember. Despite multiple rejections, her love has stayed constant. It's become a habit more than anything, but is it one she'll ever be able to break and get on with her life?

Chapter Summary: Mame decides it's time to move out and make a fresh start.

Chapter 7: Love Actually

A radio recording to be remembered

Jul. 27th, 2016 08:56 pm
nanila: me (Default)
[personal profile] nanila
I recently scored tickets to a recording of the long-running BBC Radio 4 programme "Just a Minute". For those who are unfamiliar with it, four panelists are given, in turn, a random topic by the host and must speak for one minute on it without repetition, hesitation or deviation. The other three panelists try to catch them out, and if they score a correct challenge, they take over the topic and continue speaking. A single round can take quite a lot longer than one minute whilst the panelists and host argue over whether or not the challenges are in fact correct. Or end up chatting about something else entirely.

This was the first recording I'd attended that wasn't at Broadcasting House. It was in the Shaw Theatre, between Euston and Kings Cross stations, and it has greater capacity than Broadcasting House. Unfortunately, it isn't air-conditioned. It was also packed full, because "Just a Minute" is a cultural institution and is still very popular. Nicholas Parsons has been hosting the show for almost fifty years, and the adulation he received at the start and end of the recording made it practically impossible to hear his greetings and farewell.

We had a little unintentional pre-show entertainment. The ticketing system works thus: You turn up an hour before the doors open, present your ticket and are given a sticker with a number on it. When the doors open, the production guests (wearing wristbands) file in first, and then the ticket holders are allowed entry in groups of fifty. It all works in quite a civilised fashion despite the crush in the lobby, because British people love queuing.

However, once we'd (nearly) all sat down, it became evident that there'd been some sort of cock-up involving the seating of the production guests. Four people wearing viridescent wristbands were stood at the front, looking up at the full rows of seats with evident displeasure. One was a blonde woman in a white jacket with a formidable aspect. I should not like to have been the young production assistant attempting to mollify her and receiving the pointy end of said displeasure. Hands were waved about. The small number of solitary seats scattered about the theatre were indicated and obviously rejected. Eventually, some audience members were convinced to shift around slightly to permit the foursome to sit in pairs on opposite sides of the theatre.

This had all taken a good ten minutes, by which point the ostensible start time of the recording had passed. The drama had now attracted the attention of literally every person in the audience. When the formidable woman sat down, the entire theatre broke into a cheer. She stood up a few seconds later to hand her empty drink cup (two will get you seven that it was a large gin and tonic) to a frazzled usher. The audience booed. Unfased, she turned around, smiled beautifully and resumed her seat gracefully. I was impressed, as I suspect most of the rest of the audience would have died of embarrassment right then.

It was not until the very end of the show when Nicholas Parsons was bidding us farewell that we had the measure of what had transpired. "If," he said, with a twinkle in his eye "you happen to run across the fellow who tore the sign reading 'Reserved for Nicholas Parson's wife' off the seats in the front..." He made a small, meaningful gesture with his cane.

The four panelists were Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Zoë Lyons and Julian Clary. I shall say no more of the two very funny shows that were recorded, but I think I can safely share another pre-recording anecdote. Nicholas Parsons asked each panelist to speak into their microphone for the sake of the sound engineer at the back. Not one to pass up an opportunity for innuendo, Julian Clary put on his most deliberately camp voice and said, "Hello, David, are you receiving me in the rear?" Nicholas Parsons: "Yes, I think so. Poor David. He can't hear anything now."

After departing the Shaw, I arrived at my place of sleep around 22:30. I walked in the door and was greeted by the smell of freshly baked apple & rhubarb crumble and vanilla custard heating on the hob. A whisky glass was placed in my hand and unopened bottles of Lagavulin and Scapa presented upon the kitchen island for my perusal and selection.

Sometimes, I am a very lucky Nanila indeed.
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished The Merrill Theory of Lit'ry Criticism, and I think my comments last week still apply. I do wonder whether rather more editorial selection might have cut down on repetition; also perhaps a little more copy-editing (a number of what looked like OCR bloopers and a few other oddities) would have been beneficial.

Marcia Muller, Someone Always Knows (Sharon McCone no 31) (2016). These hold up better than certain other series that started around the same time. Also the related short story, Tell Me Who I Am (2016).

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Alliance of Equals (2016). The ongoing Liadenverse soap opera, pretty much.

On the go

Book for review, which is very good overview by doyen in the field; if a bit kinder to one much-cited work than I would be, points out the problems with a recent work that got puffed as epochmaking and I thought, not so much.

Work by person I am doing a Dictionary of National Biography entry for, socialist theory c. 1920, depressing how much still seems relevant.

Recently started, Tracy Daugherty, The Last Love Song: a biography of Joan Didion (2015) - picked up from the sale shelves in local bookshop. Am still a bit hmm about the 'biography of living author who did not cooperate', and sometimes the writing seems a bit precious, but the general tenor has not yet activated the 'not a book to set aside lightly' reaction, even if there is a bit of 'my research, I show u it, even when it is totally peripheral'.

Up next

Have another book for review on the way.

Otherwise, dunno.

Reading Wednesday 27/07

Jul. 27th, 2016 01:07 pm
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: A couple of really great, thinky reviews:
I'm not always as enthusiastic about Laurie Penny as many people in my circle, but they hit it out of the park with Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless. It's a really nuanced and thoughtful piece about self-care and wellbeing, considering both the ways that these things are undervalued especially for women and marginalized people, and the ways that they are repackaged and exploited within the capitalist system. There's a bit of that irritating young lefty anxiety about whether one's life choices are sufficiently "radical", but still very well worth reading.

Currently reading: A wild sheep chase, by Haruki Murakami. This was a present from [livejournal.com profile] ghoti. It's very atmospheric, but the atmosphere it creates is somewhat bleak and miserable. It's sort of doing the litfic thing where the recently divorced narrator is sad because his comfortable but unexceptional life isn't as exciting as he might have hoped when he was younger, with the accompanying rather annoying attitude to women. But at about a third of the way through, this is looking like a frame for doing other things, a bit magic realist, a bit thriller, with the protag getting very politely kidnapped by the mafia boss. It's told in a somewhat non-linear way, so I'm not yet sure how all the different facets of the story fit together.

Up next: I'm travelling to Hungary next week, so I am not quite sure if I'll end up with loads of time for reading or very little. The next thing on my e-reader is Blindsight by Peter Watts. Unless someone wants to rec me a Hungarian book which is available in translation, in order to be thematically suitable?
bookgazing: (Default)
[personal profile] bookgazing posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
White, yellow and red book cover of Kameron Hurley's The Geek Feminist Revolution featuring an illustration of a llama

It's the start of July. I am trying to review Kameron Hurley's essay collection, The Geek Feminist Revolution. In my wisdom, I have decided an analysis of her essay, "I'll Make The Pancakes: On Opting In And Out of the Writing Game", would make a great entry point for my review. I reread it to remind myself of the piece's fundamental points:

The more women writers I read, from Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler to Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Toni Morrison, the less alone I felt, and the more I began to see myself as part of something more.

It wasn't about one woman toiling against the universe. It was about all of us moving together, crying out into some black, inhospitable place that we would not be quiet, we would not go silently, we would not stop speaking, we would not give in.

It's hard to see the keyboard when you're trying not to cry.

Read more... )

(no subject)

Jul. 27th, 2016 09:53 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] fjm and [personal profile] wildroot!

Daily Happiness

Jul. 27th, 2016 12:38 am
torachan: nepeta from homestuck (nepeta)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I did not get to sleep in today at all and in fact was awakened by a work call at 6:30am because the person who usually opens the store didn't show up and other people needed to be let in. D: At least it just turned out he had forgotten to set his alarm, and not something more drastic. And I got to go home again right away and didn't actually have to stay and work. I'm really glad I live close enough that I can do that.

2. Tomorrow is Wednesday but I don't have to go in to work at 6:30 because the person who opens the store on Wednesdays is back from Japan!

3. It definitely felt a lot cooler today. I don't think there was that much of an actual difference temperature-wise, but the house actually feels pretty decent.

4. I finished reading another book! That's nine this year and it's still only July. Last year I read ten, the year before that two (an all-time low), and the year before that only three, and then ten again the year before that. In 2011 I read 24 books, which I don't think is going to happen this year, but I could probably easily do twenty. I've already read more manga than last year, too.

5. These kitties just keep on being so cute!

I’m Psychiatric Now

Jul. 27th, 2016 06:35 am
finch: (Default)
[personal profile] finch
Is it peace or is it Prozac
I don’t care
No need to know that
– Cheryl Wheeler

A few years ago, my mom mentioned off-handedly that there had been a funny mix-up with my dad’s new anxiety medicine. 

I had long suspected that I got my genetic seat at the anxiety spectrum from my dad, but things like “psychologists” and “mental illness” and “mood drugs” were not welcome in my house growing up. There was never anything said, exactly, but it was there in what didn’t get mentioned to the doctor and in what seemed normal because my dad did it too and in the way my parents reacted the one time my high school required I get a psychologist to sign off that I was safe to return to school. 

And while I’ve always been of the opinion that drugs are wonderful for the people they work on, I was equally sure that I wasn’t cut out for them – I was “not that bad” and besides my ex didn’t like the idea of drugs and I didn’t want to have that fight. Not that bad. I’m getting by. I’m fine. 

Except I wasn’t fine. I have had good times and bad times, but the bad times have been getting worse. I took my Yaya’s passing harder than I expected to, and job hunting is a dehumanizing process that wears me down. I caught myself telling the baby things that were definitely my anxiety talking. I thought about the times growing up when I can see how my dad’s illness impacted me.

And then I asked my doctor what she recommended, therapy or medication, given how therapy had gone for me before. She said both was an option. Tonight I took Prozac for the first time. 

I spent an embarrassingly long time staring down the bottle. I know tons of people who have benefitted from it and similar drugs. I have no problem thinking of myself as mentally ill. I’d already admitted I needed outside help. Why was I giving myself a panic attack over it? 

Well, the answer is because I’m fucking crazy and if my anxiety were logical, I wouldn’t be crazy. So I thought about wanting to be better for my child’s sake, and then I took the pill. 

I’m terrible at self-care. I’m much more successful when I frame it in terms of someone else’s needs. My child needs me to raise her well. My spouse needs to be able to depend on me. Destroying myself hurts them, so I should stop.

Whatever keeps me moving forward, right?

The post I’m Psychiatric Now appeared first on Jack of Many Trades.

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oursin: Hedgehog saying boggled hedgehog is boggled (boggled)
[personal profile] oursin

Another of those pieces about getting a jump on the next day by eating into the day you're actually in -

- which sounds a bit Carrollian, though I'm not sure whether it's the Red Queen running to stay in the same spot, or the White Queen crying out before she was hurt -

- Get Started On Tomorrow Tonight If You Want Any Hope of Getting Ahead.

Maybe it's just me, but I think there's a distinction between having your clothes laid out ready for the morning and your bag packed ready for whatever you're going to need in the course of the day, and spending part of your presumably non-work, leisure hours fretting over work.

I suppose this does depend a bit on what sort of a job you do, but in some cases I would anticipate that starting thinking about the morrow would be likely to cause massive insomnia, which would surely be counter-productive.

(no subject)

Jul. 26th, 2016 09:10 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] el_staplador and [personal profile] mrissa!

Daily Happiness

Jul. 26th, 2016 12:58 am
torachan: karkat from homestuck headdesking (karkat headdesk)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Carla has been wanting to get a tent to try sleeping in the back yard when it's really hot and we got one and it arrived today and I set it up and she seems very happy with it! (That also means I get the bed to myself, which is nice!)

2. I finally got the house vacuumed today and it feels (and looks!) so much nicer. The noise of the vacuum bothers Carla and the cats, and holding the vacuum hose makes my hand/arm hurt (yay RSI), so we've been trying to get by with just sweeping, but it's really not the same.

3. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning, which means I'm going in to work late, which means I get to sleep in a bit.

4. I've been having Triscuits and hummus a lot lately and it's so tasty. (And an easy meal for when it's hot and I don't feel like cooking.)

5. Look at this sweet Molly face!

sailorptah: (Default)
[personal profile] sailorptah

Short takeaway: The Sea Fairies is not on par with the Oz books. Its sequel Sky Island can hold its own. The Scarecrow of Oz, as the ninth Oz novel and the third with Trot, is a letdown to both series.


Both Trot books start very differently from any of Dorothy's adventures (or Betsy's trope-xeroxing adventure). In The Sea Fairies, Trot and Cap'n Bill are going sailing near their house when some mermaids (that's what "sea fairies" means) show up and invite the humans to take a tour of their undersea kingdom.

So the first half of the book is just a random tour. It isn't even as charming as most of the Oz-related settings. Especially since so much of it is spent on pseudo-scientific explanations of how mermaids work -- none of which are actually any more sensible or satisfying than whatever "mystery" they're trying to explain.

Halfway through the story a Big Bad shows up, but everything about it that might provide some tension gets undercut. He's an evil sea monster!...who has zero power outside his own lair, to the point that he can't even lure our heroes there or send agents to kidnap them, he literally sends them an invitation and they swim right in. He keeps humans lost in shipwrecks to use as slaves!...but they're all unfazed by their state, figuring they were gonna be dead anyway, and this life isn't so bad. One of the slaves is Cap'n Bill's own long-lost brother!...who's been gone for so long that Bill barely remembers him, didn't feel much grief over his disappearance or much joy at their reunion, and there's no mention of this maybe being their cue to embark on a brother-rescuing quest.

Finally a Big Good shows up to defeat the Big Bad, and our heroes go home. The end.

It's notable that we get a lot of Trot's real-world life and family history.


Both books are more tied to real-world concerns than the Oz books get. With Dorothy, we got bits and pieces of her Kansas backstory over the various books; with Betsy, we get nothing at all. With Trot, we get a bunch of family history right off the bat.

I appreciate Cap'n Bill. He's practical, in a way that Baum's books don't often call for -- in the next book he knocks together a seat in his workshop, to make a magic umbrella into a viable flying machine for three.

And his contrariness and skepticism (not "this magic thing can't be real", but "I don't trust this magic thing to be safe")...it never pans out, everything in these books is either Obviously Good or Obviously Bad, but it's nice to see a different character type.

As for Trot...

...okay, here's the thing: Trot is mean.

Dorothy in her later appearances can be very definite about what's proper and what's not (see: insisting on renaming Bill to Billina), but with the exception of that one bizarre scene in Bunbury, she isn't rude. Trot regularly tells people to their faces how horrid they are. Look, here's her first meeting with the Big Bad from Sea Fairies:

"Well," said he, "do you not find me the most hateful creature you have ever beheld?"

The queen refrained from answering, but Trot said promptly, "We do. Nothing could be more horrider or more disgustin' than you are, it seems to me."

"Very good, very good indeed," declared the monster, lifting his lashes to flash his glowing eyes upon them.

And, sure, that guy's evil (and seems to be getting off on the insults anyway), but here she is with a completely random innocent octopus:

"Well, are we not friends, then?" asked the Octopus in an airy tone of voice.

"I think not," said the little girl. "Octopuses are horrid creatures."

"OctoPI, if you please; octoPI," said the monster with a laugh.

"I don't see any pie that pleases me," replied Trot, beginning to get angry.

"OctoPUS means one of us; two or more are called octoPI," remarked the creature, as if correcting her speech.

"I suppose a lot of you would be a whole bakery!" she said scornfully. [...]

"Let's go," said Trot. "I don't like to 'sociate with octopuses."

"OctoPI," said the creature, again correcting her.

"You're jus' as horrid whether you're puses or pies," she declared.

(In a joke that will fly right over the heads of any kid not born in the era, it turns out she's seen the contemporary political cartoons where the big trusts like Standard Oil are represented as octopi.)

I control-F'd back through the Gutenberg texts of the earlier books. Betsy never uses the word "horrid." Dorothy uses it a few times to refer to the Deadly Desert; Eureka's behavior on meeting Billina is "horrid of you"; and she uses it twice for Princess Langwidere, prompted by the fact that Langwidere first insults her and her friends, then tries to chop off her head, then locks her in a tower until she agrees to have her head chopped off. Clearly worse than "being an octopus."

Sometimes that kind of shameless certainty goes to good places. At the end of Sky Island, Trot shuts down the blue country's system of capitol punishment, and holds to it even when her new regent wants to chop just a few more people in half, come on, not even just the worst one?

But yeah, in general, she distinguishes herself from Dorothy and Betsy by being distinctively unpleasant.


Baum's writing is much-improved with book 2. It kicks off when Button-Bright drops in -- he's definitely grown, he's speaking in complete sentences now, and knows his own name and everything! -- via magic umbrella. Cap'n Bill rigs up that wooden seat, and they go for some flights, only to get stuck for a while on the eponymous Sky Island.

Apparently some kinds of magic work in the non-fairy country of America: Button-Bright's umbrella took him to a couple of different US cities before they hit the island. He and Trot use it for a morning jaunt down to the village to pick up some sewing supplies, for crying out loud.

The fantasy settings, once we get there, have the sense of fun and creativity that I expect from the Oz books. Sky Island has a pink half and a blue half, each with its own politics, customs, magical weirdnesses, and total commitment to color scheme. I was briefly excited to hear that, in the blue country, the kings are elected -- but no, when the people vote, they have to vote for whoever the king told them to. Whoops.

Meanwhile, in the pink country, the ruler is determined by...who has the lightest skin. Holy unfortunate implications, Batman.

Since this island is permanently located in the clouds, we finally get an encounter with Polychrome that doesn't involve her getting lost on the ground. And this book is officially in the Oz continuity! I wasn't sure about the relative timing, until Polychrome says cheerfully that she recognizes Button-Bright because they last saw each other in Oz.

Turns out Poly can be an ad-hoc fairy legal scholar. Neat.

By the end of the book, Trot is the new Queen of the pink country, and the Boss of the blue country. But she never considers staying -- she likes her home life in California, and she's been gone for like a week now, so her mom is probably panicking. She leaves both countries in the hands of responsible regents, and little party heads home.


The Scarecrow of Oz starts more like a traditional Oz book. Our heroes are sucked into a whirlpool, come out in a cave, and set off to find their way home.

The preface explains that this book is Baum's response to getting tons of letters imploring him to send Trot and Cap'n Bill to Oz. So, as if he's just trying to be contrary, he washes them up on the shores of Mo. And has them meet a character who chides them for not having heard of the place.

Continuity! The place still rains lemonade, snows popcorn, and has perfume-scented wind. And you can see the advancement in Baum's skill, as he doesn't just run through a list of junk-food-related weirdnesses, but reveals them naturally in response to a weather event happening, or Trot asking something.

They also bump into Button-Bright again. He's a lot more talky than in his first Oz appearance, but it feels like he's regressed from Sky Island. He's back to asking "what's x?" questions about random things that come up -- in Road To Oz, that was most of his vocabulary -- and saying rude and cranky things in general.


The Ozsolation has gone from "super dramatic" to "totally ineffectual." Our heroes bumble into Oz exactly the same way so many other outsiders have: by flying over the place and needing to land.

Technically they bumble into Jinxland, which is in an isolated and cut-off bit of Quadling Country. I completely believe the theory that Baum didn't write it to be part of Oz at all, and only retconned it in after-the-fact.

The writing in general feels like a throwback. None of the sharp wit from the last couple of books. Stock plot about an evil king trying to marry his princess niece off to an also-evil vizier, even though she loves a humble servant, who is conveniently also a prince. Lots of unsubtle punny names. The evil king is named King Krewel, fercryinoutloud.

The drama relies on the throne needing a successor, but nobody in Oz is supposed to die, so Baum has to come up with multiple awkward excuses to get rid of previous kings for good. Oh, and there are a bunch of active witches! With the excuse that they're so cut-off and so distant from the Emerald City that they can get away with it, even though they're right in Glinda's back yard, and her Magic Book means she knows exactly what they're up to.

We're in chapter 13 of 24 before the Scarecrow finally shows up.

With a bit of help from deus ex Glinda, they overthrow the evil vizier, undo some wicked witchcraft, and install the princess niece on the throne. The Scarecrow is briefly King of Jinxland before surrendering the throne to the rightful heir after a bit of relevant magic is lifted. Seems to be a talent of his.


Meanwhile: Dorothy, Betsy, and Ozma have been watching this whole adventure in the Magic Picture. It's like their very own privacy-invading reality TV.

Describes Betsy as a "shy little thing" who still isn't used to the splendor of Oz (in contrast to Dorothy, who's perfectly at home with it). She didn't seem all that shy in the last book. Nervous in strange places sometimes, but she strikes up conversations pretty easily, and rode Hank straight into the Nome King's palace without any self-consciousness. (Retroactive attempt to make them more distinct? I can dig it.)

Anyway: they decide to have Trot and Cap'n Bill stay in Oz forever.

Remember the whole cautious discussion Ozma had about whether it would be too much to extend that same invite to Betsy and Shaggy's brother, even knowing those two had no place to go? Yeah, that's no longer a thing. They don't even check whether Trot and Cap'n Bill want to live here before deciding to make the offer.

There's also a reference to Dorothy being the one who introduced Ozma to the Hungry Tiger, so, wow, Baum is just forgetting continuity right and left here.


It's such a shambles, you guys.

My impression of Trot from back when I had only read this book was "another generic not-Dorothy," and no wonder! All her distinctive characterization is limited to the first two books. She's way more generic in this one.

She's not noticeably mean. Just a little callous. (When the princess is lamenting that she'll never be able to marry the humble servant, Trot's idea of comfort is "Well, never mind; Pon isn't any great shakes, anyhow, seems to me. There are lots of other people you can love.")

She suddenly has a "grave and serious little face." That's never been a Trot thing! You know what it is? A classic Dorothy thing.

Dorothy assumes Trot will be intimidated by the glamour of the Emerald City. Trot, honored guest of the Queen of the Mermaids, herself the Queen of Sky Island! But sure enough -- in this book, she is. Intimidated by Glinda, too. The girl who had no problem insulting a murderous sea monster to its face, and now she literally needs to be handheld through meeting the sorceress.

You'd think she would've pulled rank as Queen when she and Cap'n Bill were the ones trying to intimidate King Krewel, but no.

There's the obligatory scene with the new arrivals having dinner with a bunch of Oz standbys. Trot and Cap'n Bill are astonished by the talking animals. As if they just dropped straight into Oz from America, and hadn't extensively toured two other realms with talking animals beforehand!

In the other books, these meetings are always the setup for some charming character interactions -- like Jim the Cab-Horse's huffy rivalry with the Sawhorse, or Aunt Em trying to hairy-eyeball the Cowardly Lion into submission. Here, it's just a boilerplate list of characters, and the authorial announcement that suddenly Trot feels like she's Friends With Them All.

...and then they decide to stay. On top of all the Oz-related reasons why this is weird, how does it make sense on Trot's side? She has loving parents! Who are also Cap'n Bill's dear friends. There's no struggle over how to handle that, not even a sidenote about them tragically dying offscreen. They're just...forgotten.

I can't imagine this being satisfying for all those eager letter-writing Trot fans.

Would've been a lot more satisfying as an Oz book, too, if Trot's interactions with Oz had been informed by her own unique history of fairy-country exploration. Instead, it just becomes yet another rehash of what we got in the last book with Betsy -- and this time, it isn't fresh or witty, just cheap and tired.


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December 2012

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