What I read
For reasons which may be apparent, not much. Finished The Door into Sunet, which held up better than I remembered, and at least doesn't leave one on a massive cliff-hanger waiting for the long-delayed final volume.
Picked up as a freebie at Wiscon, Clay and Susan Griffith, The Shadow Revolution (2015), first in a trilogy involving occult goings on in an AU, generically and not very well-worked-out 'Victorian' London (felt earlier to me). Possibly if I had felt more drawn by the characters, the plot and the writing I could have borne with the fuzziness of the period, but, really, if we posit a date by which Bedlam had moved across the river to what is now the site of the Imperial War Museum, I think that by that date the Commissioners in Lunacy might have had something to say about Orrible Experiments being done in the basement (I really do not care if that's a spoiler). Also, all the main characters seem to be carrying dark secrets or at least Complicated Backstory, which may, I suppose, get clarified in subsequent volumes. Do I care.
Found at Wiscon - Aqueduct were also carrying Twelfth Planet Press books - the second Livia Day mystery, Drowned Vanilla (2014), which does not have an e-edition and which I was reluctant to buy in non-virtual form with postage from Australia. This was a great read for a dreary plane journey (though I may post further about the incident that made me feel like a character in somebody else's novel, and not a novel in the sort of genre I normally read). Enormous fun, if at the cosier end of the crime spectrum. The novella which falls between the two full books is purportedly coming out as an ebook but so far is No Can Haz.
On the go
Christine Lloyd, Doing Time on Planet Earth (2015) and possibly that title is giving me a clue to characters who seem to have learnt English from US and UK noir movies... it's got some lovely touches and a real sense of place and particular time, and I should add that it is self-published by a social media friend.
I just picked up Marjorie Bowen, The Rake's Progress (1912), nothing to do with Hogarth, a romance set in generic-ish C18th or so but nicely done, and having the ruined nobleman sell himself into marriage for money was probably quite shocking at that date.
I'm also dipping into The Wiscon Chronicles 8 and 9 but my head is not really in the place for these at the moment.
No idea. I have been saying for ages that I ought to do some Tanith Lee re-reading, and this seems like it might be the occasion.
This is a very peculiar list on Buzzfeed of Greatest Books by Women: How Many Have You Read which skews strongly North American and late C20th onwards. I scored just over 50% - too many instances of That Book By Whoever that I hadn't read rather than any that I had, and some things where I was going, you know, I think I did read that, back in the day, and I did not count things I bogged down in.
ME: Knitting a cardigan.
CHILD: Oh, who for?
ME: Well, maybe myself.
CHILD: Oh, you must be making one for everybody!
ME: Uh, no, there wouldn't be time for that, it takes quite a long time...
#and not even if you paid me but it would cost like a hundred bucks
It’s been nearly five years now since Renay, Jodie and I first started talking about starting a blog together, and during that time my life has changed considerably. Five years ago I was getting ready to start my MA in Library and Information Management; although that was a busy period for me, I was much better able to manage my workload and still write regularly than I am now that I have a rewarding but often exhausting full-time library job. Add to that my perpetual confidence issues when it comes to writing for a more polished and professional venue and the result was a level of contribution far below what I hoped for when Lady Business was first launched. In its turn, this led to a permanent state of angst and guilt over not being able to be more involved, which brings us to where we are today. I’ve been on hiatus since the start of the year to make sure that whatever decision I came to in the end would be the right one for my life, and I’m now as certain as I think I’ll ever be.
I’m sad to announce that I’m stepping away from my formal role in Lady Business. ( Read more... )
Original Title: ヒメゴト～十九歳の制服～ (Himegoto~Juukyuu Sai no Seifuku~)
Author: Minenami Ryou
Publisher: Big Comics
Status in Japan: 8 volumes, complete
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations feat. Audrey + Krim
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates
Summary: This is the story of three college freshmen with secrets: Yuki, aka Yoshiki, a boyish girl who gets off on wearing her old high school uniform skirt; Mikako, who acts innocent around her classmates, but at night pretends to be a 15-year-old and has sex for money; and finally there's Kaito, who's obsessed with Mikako to the point of dressing up like her.
Chapter Summary: Mikako invites Yoshiki over to visit, but first she has to get rid of Sho!
Chapter 39: Temptation
Chapter 40: Falter
It takes forever to get a connection, then it takes forever to get any info or login screen, the free 20 minutes is weak and unreliable, and it seems the only way to get connected is to pay evil Boingo and try to remember to cancel the subscription in due course.
As I have hours yet to my flight, since the weather in Madison was so horrible I took the earlier bus, I decided to pony up. I just hope signal is reliable enough to justify it.
I thought the situation was better last time I was here. Or another terminal?
When the opportunity came up to have a beach holiday in a country where we could actually afford “all-inclusive five-star”, though, it seemed a good time to try it and see what the fuss was about.
We arrived late at night, because that’s how these things work with package deals and charter flights. Humuhumu dealt with it admirably well after having fallen happily asleep on the plane and subsequently being woken multiple times for the bus journey from the airport to the hotel and finally when her parents insisted on raiding the late-night buffet ten minutes before it shut because they hadn’t had any dinner. The buffet was pretty amazing, given that it was almost 1 AM. We were given wristbands that allowed us to wander freely around the hotel eating and drinking All The Things (and there was a hell of a lot on offer everywhere), and our room cards.
We slept until late morning. This was one unanticipated bonus of travelling two time zones ahead of British Summer Time: it meant Humuhumu was time-shifted two hours later than usual. We could, therefore, have leisurely evening meals, walks along the beach and drinks at the outside bar before we went to bed. Unlike the other parents of small children who were staying at the resort, we’d not had the foresight or ability to bring along siblings with no children of their own and/or grandparents. The time-shift allowed us to claw back some of the disadvantage of not having any babysitters. (The minimum age for babysitting services offered by the resort was four years old.)
Breakfast was our first opportunity to observe the other occupants of the resort. I’d say at least 75% were retired couples, which had the unfortunate effect of making me think constantly of Jeremy Paxman’s crack during the UK’s recent general election: “My generation has blown our inheritance on Mediterranean holidays and is refusing to die. If you want to be rid of us, pray for cold winters, or vote.” Judging from the languages on the signage and menus, most were either British, German or Russian. The remaining 25% were couples with very young children and their grandparents, or couples having a romantic getaway. And there were four very tanned, very tattooed, very fit young men from Essex who’d clearly made a terrible misjudgment of the tenor of the place. They were quite sweet and seemed to be making the best of it, which couldn’t have been that difficult when it’s 35 C and you can bounce between beautiful swimming pools and the crystal-clear Med and drink beer and eat ice cream all day. Still, we felt a little sad for them. But not for long as we were too busy enjoying all those things ourselves.
The food on offer was pretty spectacular, and you could eat surprisingly healthy and delicious meals without much effort.
You could also eat a lot of pastries afterward, which we did.
I revelled in having no cooking or washing up to do, although I don’t find those tasks as onerous as I did a few years ago.
Still, it’s not an indulgence I would want on a yearly basis, even if I could afford it, which I can’t. I feel faintly uncomfortable with a level of service that includes fresh towels every day (honestly, we’re not that filthy), although I’m fully on board with a minibar that gets restocked daily. It was also very loud with thumpy music every night and we had to keep the balcony door closed until 3 AM or so. Our resort had evening entertainment that only went on until midnight, but all the five-stars are on the same strip of beach in the town and cater for different clientele so the late-night partying can be heard by everyone. That wasn’t so bad on the first night, when it was only 28 C during the day, but it went up to 38 C by the end of the week and it got pretty stuffy even though the humidity stayed pretty low. I’m not fond of air conditioning, having grown up in the tropics where you’re constantly going from “dry frigid arctic” indoors to “wall of sweaty heat” outside in the summer, so not being able to have fresh cool air wafting into our room all night caused a little bit of resentment.
I might like to try it again when the children are older and we could take advantage of the child care on offer. Then we could use more of the resort’s facilities, like the spa and the restaurants, and perhaps go out into the town at night. But I wouldn’t be that fussed if we never went “all-inclusive five-star” again.
( Photos: eating drinking napping sea pool )
Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..
Just saw “Mad Max: Fury Road” and it was utterly fantastic in so many different ways. Is it a perfect movie? No, of course not. But one thing I noticed was how many of the marginalized characters had agency, made their own decisions, controlled their own lives. There’s spoilers in this, so I’m going to tuck the text behind a fold.
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The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory
228pp. Akashic Books.
I never used to understand that thing old people do, visiting the haunts of their youth; but now I'm not that young anymore, and here I am, looking for the places I remember knowing and sometimes finding the places I'd forgotten I knew. I used to go to Left Bank Books when I was a teenager to buy My Evil Twin Sister, the zine Stacy Wakefield made with her sister Amber; they were always driving around and having adventures and sleeping in ditches and being tough girls out in the world, doing things that were interesting, and My Evil Twin Sister was about the most exciting thing I could get my hands on when I was fourteen, this zine made by girls who were real people only a few years older than me. And there was Stacy Wakefield's book on the shelf at Left Bank Books when I wandered in as a grownup a couple of days ago so obviously I bought it.
I took it to my favorite old Seattle bar, still clinging to life despite the ravages Amazon.com has wrought upon a city I've loved since forever, and I was going to hide in a corner and read it but the bartender was someone I knew a million years and five or six lifetimes ago, and we stood there staring at each other for a long time, and it seemed rude to go sit in the corner and read after that, so I took the last seat at the bar, next to an apocalyptically drunk man who kept trying to buy everyone tequila shots at six pm, and I caught up in awkward little patches with the bartender, like "So! what have you been DOING for the last ten years!" is a thing I actually said, I don't know, there's a reason I am a writer and not a diplomat. "Are you FAMOUS?" the drunk man screamed at me. "Why does everyone from New York LOOK FAMOUS?" I made a polite noncommittal noise and busied myself with my phone, a very famous and very occupied person sending critically famous text messages to other famous New Yorkers, see how busy I am, certainly too busy for chatting. "Why did you PAY FOR THAT BEER when I would have BOUGHT IT FOR YOU FOR FREE?" screamed the drunk man.
Later that night I walked back to where I was staying and the whole street was full of drunk white twenty-year-olds in flip-flops, shrieking in packs and smoking pot in the streets, like they were at some outdoor fraternity party and not in a neighborhood that has been queer for over fifty years, the neighborhood where Mia Zapata used to work and Home Alive was organized, the neighborhood where I spent one very dark and sad and lonely year in a dirty one-room apartment that's still there and still dirty, like a malevolent black hole at a the literal dead end of a street orbited by new condos and new concept furniture stores and new money and new young white people in sports clothing and bad sunglasses drinking identical beers in identical restaurants with CRAFT COCKTAILS embossed on the glass doors in identical fonts. I don't mean to lose my way in nostalgia; it is hard to separate the Seattle I once longed to live in from a city that never existed at all. But the Seattle that is Seattle now is like a messageboard reading YOU WILL NEVER BE HOME HERE and I don't know, sometimes it's hard to let go of things you love. Fuck you, Amazon.com.
I never did get to read Sunshine Crust Baking Factory at the bar but I read it later in the car on the way to my parents' and I liked it, it's about a scrappy girl squatter in 1990s New York trying to live her dream, and it opens with a scene of her standing outside a squat waiting hopefully for admission, and I remembered the time I read Off The Map (Crimethinc!!! I know!!!! I was young!!!!) and then bicycled across Europe, and found a great big squat outside Basel when I was at my absolute loneliest, and waited patiently outside with my bicycle for some anarchists to come out and see how cool I was biking all over by myself. The anarchists would embrace me as Hib and Kika were constantly embraced in their luminous travels from squat to squat, and give me tea and a meal of salvaged grains and vegetables, and we would talk about noble goals and resist capitalism and maybe I would move into the squat too, there was nothing then I wanted to go back to the US for, I was pretty excited to begin my new glamorous European anarchist squatter life. Only nobody came outside and then it started to rain and I went and slept in my tent and didn't talk to another human being for several weeks because everyone in Europe thought I was homeless or just insane, which is another story about the way you can tell your past as a story, but the truth is usually harder to hold than the story you make it into.
I bought this book in the Barnes and Noble of my two-horse hometown because I felt like checking out of my brain for awhile. I spent a long time lurking suspiciously and I think the lady working thought I was shoplifting but actually I was reshelving the books of my enemies behind the books of my friends. My own book was there too and I moved it from Romance to Adventure. And then I stood and looked at it and wondered if I should be having a Moment, finding my book in the Barnes and Noble of my youth, a store I used to walk to--two miles each way! I'm not making an Old Person joke, it really was two miles--before I could drive, every weekend, hoping that someday, like, a Poet or some sort of Artistic Personage would show up and liberate me from the horrors of my peers, which never happened, and so in the end I had to liberate myself. I guess I could've had a Moment about that too, but mostly I just felt glad I don't have to live in my hometown anymore. Anyway this book is SO silly I'm not going to tell you what it is, only that it was PURPORTEDLY about a lady scientist but it REALLY DIDN'T HAVE MUCH SCIENCE and mostly it was a lot of Improbable Coincidences and Star-Crossing Overcome By Just How Much These Two Straight People Have The Hots For Each Other and disastrously silly dialogue and I think there were spies in it maybe, I already can't remember. Also the lady scientist has violet eyes and a giant rack and dudes keep falling all over her but she's like Oh That Dude Doesn't Really Like Me! Because Science! until you want to fling the book at a wall and scream DISBELIEF IS UNSUSPENDED!!! UN! SUSPENDED! I read the whole thing in a day and my brain totally shut down and it was great.
I've never read any Joyce Carol Oates, can you believe that? The topless stick and poke scene in Foxfire had a profound impact on my adolescent development but I didn't even know that movie was based on a Joyce Carol Oates book until years later when I re-watched it to confirm the effects of the topless stick and poke scene. And then there was that whole thing with Joyce Carol Oates and Twitter and, I don't know, I don't need for great artists to be great people or anything, I can forgive quite a lot, but it does seem like anyone who says shit that stupid on Twitter is probably bad at writing, so I decided never to bother. But then I found this one at the thrift store for three dollars and it's 700 pages long and supposedly about vampires and we all know I'm a sucker for vampires, do you see what I did there. I'm on p. 153 and so far there is only one person who MIGHT be a vampire but might instead just be sordid, so I am feeling rather cheated, but maybe there are quite a lot of vampires later on to make up for the dearth of vampires in the early section. But really to be honest next to nothing has happened so far and I might just leave it at the airport for someone else to find. [ETA: Now I'm on p. 267 and very LITTLE has happened and there STILL AREN'T ANY VAMPIRES]
On Being Hated
Goddamn, Trisha Low. The best most brutal thing about family and chosen family and what happens when your chosen family fails you totally that you will read this or any other week I can think of. I'm going back to New York now and it is going to be quite hot, and I'm not very happy about it, but there's always fall to hope for. I'm sorry I never write on this blog anymore! The last time I had a day off was in January and this time I had some days off in a ROW and I meant to write all sorts of things but actually what happened was if I sat down for more than five minutes I fell asleep. I miss you too, though. I did eat some oysters and hiked on the beach with Le R. Père and went to a dinner party with dogs and babies and real china, just like a grownup, and I didn't even drink all the whiskey and get sad. Baby steps. xoxox sarah
Today has been quite a pleasant day and I don't know why I am so exhausted, except, well, cumulative effect.
The whole thing went pretty well as far as I could see: apart from a few few minor irks, my main plaint was nothing to do with the con as a con but the absences of so many I hoped to see on account of life-stuff, assorted.
I was having thoughts about institutions and organisations and causes and change and old guards and new guards and the situation where a one-time innovator and mover and shaker becomes ossified and a source of stasis, and this resonated with looking back over my work-life, and various conversations about different things, and that something's lost and something's gained with change and sometimes mourning is needed, but I am too tired for this to become coherent.