oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished From a Drood to a Kill - thought this was phoning it in a bit, or maybe I just wasn't in the right headspace.

Picked up in a charity shop: G R Malliett, Wicked Autumn (Max Tudor no 1) - and am fairly glad I didn't bother going for the sequels that were also on the shelf, because this was the sort of cozy mystery that I have seen done better and worse, and I finished it, if only to see whether my assumption about the son who was very seldom seen was correct. It was. Also, while I suppose you might argue that the big reveal was not about villain's [identity] so much as 'evil plot of conniving avarice', when this involves the only person/s of [identity] in the cast of characters, I find it just a bit iffy.

I'm not sure one can really count previews that have not left me immediately going online to buy the whole thing here? There were several.

On the go

Am now stuck in to the Gordon and Nair book on Madeleine Smith, which is written very much from the perspective of social historians who have done a lot of good work on the gendered social history of Glasgow at precisely that period.

Everything else that has been on the go since time immemorial is still on the go.

Up next

Really, don't know. Apart from book I have to read for review purposes, which I should get stuck into.


Somewhat irritating article about reading: Is ‘devouring’ books a sign of superficiality in a reader?

Some people are fast readers, some people are slow readers, and I've 'devoured' texts which I'm sure do not conform to the model she constructs here:

‘Devouring’ implies a certain tempo – it idealises the fast-paced reading experience. It also promotes a certain kind of writing, as the Guardian’s description of the Booker panel shows. If a book grips us, if it sucks us in like a Hollywood thriller, it’s doing its ‘job’. Any work that elicits a slower, more ruminative reading experience is cast as defective. Any reading strategy that resists or disrupts the linear drive of the page-turner is dismissed.

I should like to cite in support of this hypothesis Alf Dubs' lovely tribute to Middlemarch:

I should have read it long, long ago but I didn’t. It’s one of those books one can never admit to not having read. I felt ashamed and embarrassed, and I thought: “Well I can’t go on getting older and not reading Middlemarch.” So last year I made myself read it, largely on the tube going to work. But even though my motives may have been worthy, once I got into it, it was just captivating. It’s a lovely, lovely book: beautifully set, perfect characterisation, and even though it’s set in an England of a bygone age, the tensions, conflicts and ambitions of people are all there. If a novel is good enough, you can completely absorb yourself in it, even on a crowded tube.

rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
No-one seems to know why.

(No, I'm not joking, Google this, there are photos.)

Also we don't seem to have a functioning government or an opposition.

This has been today's dispatch from the poisoned trash fire that is my country.

Daily Happiness

Jun. 29th, 2016 12:12 am
torachan: a kitten looking out the window (chloe in window)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I unexpectedly had to go to work at 7am this morning and then didn't get out of there for twelve hours, but I'm really glad to have the car at times like this. Even though my work is pretty close, for that kind of long day, it's really nice to just be able to get in the car at the end of the day.

2. We had strawberries for dessert tonight and they were super tasty.

3. The weather's been warm, but staying in the 70s, so it's not too bad (and gets nice and cool in the evening). It feels really nice right now.

4. Carla sent me some super adorable pics of Chloe today.

rydra_wong: Photo of the outdoor Serpentine Lido: a roped-off area of a lake, with a tower block visible in the background. (swimming -- lido)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
I'm probably going to throw myself into the Serpentine at some point this week anyway, and it occurred to me to ask if anyone had any interest in a tour guide/moral support (as it can be a bit daunting going for the first time) or if anyone's already a lido fan and just fancies meeting up.

Info: the Serpentine Lido is open 10 to 6 every day.

It's (surprisingly) wheelchair-accessible, though they don't advertise this. There's a wheelchair-accessible loo, and a gate they can unlock in the fence around the lido so that you can cross from the changing rooms into the lido without having to go up and down any stairs (this does mean crossing a path in your swimming costume, but the alternative is crossing a small metal bridge over the path in your swimming costume, so).

It is a section of the lake, which you are sharing with assorted waterfowl and algae, so if you have a compromised immune system, it might not be ideal.

Especially on weekdays, the lido is blissfully uncrowded.

Because the lake edge is fairly shallow, a good half of the lido is standing-depth. So if you're a nervous swimmer, you don't have to venture out of your depth.

You need a swimsuit and a towel. There are coldwater showers on the bank, and shower gel/shampoo is forbidden as it runs off into the lake. Therefore, it's best to plan to rinse off some of the pondweed on the bank then have a proper bath/shower when you get home.

If you might be interested, this week or at some future point, just comment or PM me.

Question demanding the answer, WTF?

Jun. 28th, 2016 06:53 pm
oursin: Animated hedgehog icon (Animated hedgehog)
[personal profile] oursin

A determined spammer keeps asking me 'interested in safe floors?'

And since one of my current occupations is channelling a renowned author of Gothick novels and horrid tales, the image this evokes is of floors that suddenly open up beneath one's feet leading to an Oubliette of Doom, or possibly Hell.

In fact, it seems to be about becoming a distributor for some product that promises 'slip-resistant floor treatment' for the kind of public premises that have slippery floors.


Also, requires a set-up fee of $5000 to get into this promising business opportunity.

One is so tempted to put them in touch with relicts of dictators...


In other news, and trying to look on the bright side (wot bright side there is no bright side):

The keynote talk thing that I have been sighing over has done that thing where it gives a little wiggle and suddenly looks a lot more close to DONE than I thought it was.

Also in being Some Kinda Academic, sent off the paper I gave in Montreal to the organising body's essay comp, as they had solicited attendees to do this.

In nature notes, today I saw a wee robin and some kind of tit (?) in my perambulations through local green spaces.

Also, have had the royalty statement for a particularly niche work of mine and it's still selling - the royalties are still pretty much tuppence-ha'penny once the non-sterling cheque has gone through the bank, but I never expected wealth beyond the dreams of avarice from it.

owlmoose: (lady business - kj)
[personal profile] owlmoose posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
"Kid Dark Against the Machine", the new short story by Tansy Raynor Roberts, is the latest entry in Book Smugglers Publishing's season of superhero stories. It's available as an ebook as well as on the Book Smugglers blog

I can't even pretend to be objective about this story. It's got superheroes and reunion narratives, it plays with tropes and gender roles, and it's got Tansy Raynor Roberts, of whom I am a huge fangirl, mostly for her work on the Galactic Suburbia podcast -- my first foray into the world of fannish podcasting. But for all that I love Roberts as a commentator and fellow fan, I haven't spent much time reading her fiction. Happily, the one story of hers that I have previously read is "Cookie Cutter Superhero", her contribution to the (most excellent and highly recommended) anthology Kaleidoscope. This story is set in the same universe as Kid Dark and features a few of the same characters. I enjoyed "Cookie Cutter Superhero" a great deal, so when I learned there was a follow-up, I jumped on the chance to read it and spend a little more time in this fascinating world.

The underlying premise is that superheroes are real, their powers and identities chosen essentially by a lottery -- all over the world, there are machines that select one person to gain superpowers every six months, assigning them a codename and skill set. When a new hero is called, the machine selects an existing hero to retire, and they lose their powers. So anyone can be a hero, but only by the whims of fate, and there's no guarantee of how long it will last -- a few heroes only get one six-month term, while others remain active for decades. It makes for an interesting dynamic, both among the heroes (who, at least in Australia, where both stories are set, live and work together as a team) and the unpowered people.

"Cookie Cutter Superhero" focused on a teen girl who is called by the machine to become powered; "Kid Dark Against the Machine" takes us to the other side of the equation, and introduces us to a young man who was a hero in his youth but has since returned to live among the "mortals". In the good old days, he was Kid Dark, sidekick to a brooding crime fighter named The Dark (if you think this sounds familiar, that's clearly intentional). Now he's just a guy called Griff, doing odd jobs at a group home for children, reluctantly studying for his social work degree, and avoiding his past as much as possible. He thought he was out of that life forever, until one of the kids, a boy named Liam, reports that he's dreaming about another machine -- one that makes supervillians instead of heroes. And Griff is forced to do two things: ask an old teammate for help, and admit that he might miss being a superhero after all.

Cut for spoilers )

All in all, I can easily recommend this story to anyone who enjoys superheroes, coming of age, interesting world building, and/or men and women being friends. And now I'm off to explore the rest of Roberts's short fiction, which I'm sure will be a pleasurable journey.

(no subject)

Jun. 28th, 2016 09:52 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] rmc28!

Daily Happiness

Jun. 28th, 2016 12:59 am
torachan: a happy cartoon guy with the text "it's like a blast of happy up my ass" (blast of happy in my ass)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I posted manga, woohoo!

2. I went in to work intending to stay for about two hours and I went home after about two hours. A miracle!

3. My kitties are just too cute for words!

torachan: (Default)
[personal profile] torachan
Several years ago, I was commissioned to translate a Dissidia Final Fantasy doujinshi, which turned out to be the first of a series. Not long after I posted, someone sent me scans of the second installment, but I just never had the time to translate it...until now! And I kind of wish I'd checked around before working on it, because it seems like there is already an English version by someone else... ^_^;; So if you want to read parts three and four, you can go to this site. Oh well, so it goes!

Title: Chronos II
Circle: Fujiwara Kurenai (Kiki)
Pairing: Sephiroth/Cloud

In this sequel to Chronos I, The Emperor tries to recruit Cloud to help him take out Sephiroth.

Chronos II

Scanlations: Yasha ch. 45

Jun. 27th, 2016 07:13 pm
torachan: sei and rin from yasha (yasha)
[personal profile] torachan

Title: Yasha
Author: Yoshida Akimi
Publisher: Flower Comics
Genre: Shoujo
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations feat. Molly
Status in Japan: 12 volumes, complete
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates

Summary: Twelve-year-old Sei lives a normal, quiet life on a small island in Okinawa until one day a strange man who seems to know his mother shows up and tries to kidnap him. After that, nothing is normal or quiet in this sci-fi thriller from the author of Banana Fish.

Chapter Summary: The mental link between Sei and Rin traps them both in their nightmares...

Chapter 45

Looked this up this morning

Jun. 27th, 2016 07:12 pm
oursin: The Delphic Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel (Delphic sibyl)
[personal profile] oursin

I vaguely remembered this passage towards the end of Winifred Holtby's South Riding (1936), and looked it up. It's not sound-bitey enough to tweet, and probably needs the context.

It's the Epilogue, just before the Silver Jubilee celebrations, a year after the main action.

Sara Burton is talking to the pupils at her school just before the service, at which they will be singing 'I Vow to Thee, My Country':

'There's a couplet in it I've been thinking about this morning:
"The love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best"
Don't take that literally. Don't let me catch any of you at any time loving anything without asking questions. Question everything--even what I'm saying now. Especially, perhaps, what I say. Question every one in authority, and see that you get sensible answers to your questions. Then, if the answers are sensible, obey the orders without protest.... This is a great country, and we are proud of it, and it means much that is most lovable. But questioning does not mean the end of loving, and loving does not mean the abnegation of intelligence. Vow as much love to your country as you like; serve to the death if that is necessary....' She was thinking of Joe Astell, killing himself by overwork on the Clydeside, dying for his country more surely than thousands of those who today waved flags and cheered for royalty. 'But, I implore you, do not forget to question.'

South Riding was published posthumously: Holtby died aged 37 in 1935 from Bright's Disease.

(no subject)

Jun. 27th, 2016 09:43 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] coalescent!

Daily Happiness

Jun. 27th, 2016 12:03 am
torachan: arale from dr slump dressed in a penguin suit and smiling (arale penguin)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Today didn't feel very birthdayish because we went out to lunch on Thursday already, but it was generally a pretty decent day, so that's good enough for me. :D

2. Tomorrow should be my day off, but I do have to go in for a bit. Hopefully just like an hour or so, though... And I don't have to go in until late morning, so I can sleep in!

3. We had some really delicious watermelon tonight!

4. Look at this silly kitten!

starlady: Holmes and Watson walking around New York (springtime in new york)
[personal profile] starlady
# I'm increasingly thinking that I will be effectively leaving Dreamwidth at some point soon. I may start a Wordpress; I may absorb some kinds of content into other venues. No firm decisions have been made, but entropy is running.

# I had a lovely time at CrossingsCon and want to give the staff kudos for pulling off a first-time con rather well. As for me, I am old and jaded and I know for a fact that tumblr didn't invent everything, but I did nonetheless have a lovely time and would happily attend again.

# The Brexit horrorshow is nauseatingly horrific from across the pond, and I am so sorry to all my friends in the UK and the EU who are living it. I've been trying to write a condolences email to some non-internet UK friends, and quite honestly I've found it much easier writing emails to people after terrorist attacks asking whether they or anyone they know are dead. Hopefully somehow the situation may yet be pulled back from the brink. (And if that happens, will people one day say that David Cameron managed to redeem himself in the end, by poisoning the Article 50 chalice a la that one Facebook comment's analysis? Gross.)


Jun. 26th, 2016 09:28 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

During the week: made the 100% Wholemeal loaf from Greenstein: with a small proportion of wholemeal spelt flour - had intended to use more, and possibly add in some einkorn flour, but found I had only the remnant of a bag of the former, and none of the latter. Turned out very nice if possibly a little underproved (cracking of the crust).

Friday evening supper: Gujerati khichchari.

Saturday breakfast rolls: brown grated apple with maple sugar and cinnamon.

Today's lunch. Approx half an hour before I was going to start cooking the local area was hit with a power cut. Fortunately the cooker is gas and can be lit manually. I had intended to healthy-grill slices of sweet potato but in the event I brushed them with pumpkin seed oil and baked them in the oven, along with cauliflower florets roasted in avocado oil with cumin seeds. With these we had okra simmered in coconut milk with nam pla fish sauce, minced ginger, and minced green coriander, and padron peppers.

Gon Freecs, writing failure

Jun. 26th, 2016 02:29 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
So, I'm re-watching HunterXHunter, and remembering exactly why I /hate/ the Chimera Ant arc, or at least the Gon parts. It's because that was the most smashing writing failure ever, and it could have been fixed so easily.

Because, see, as written, Gon is a filthy, selfish little traitor. We've spent the whole story seeing the bond between him and Killua grow, seeing what it's based on, seeing how iron-clad it is, and then we see Gon turn his back on Killua, deny him, lash out at him and ignore how selflessly Killua is supporting him, all for the sake of a man who, as written, means next to nothing. An old buddy. Someone who gave him hunting tips. That's all we're shown. And for that, Gon drags Killua, Killua who has repudiated his whole previous life for Gon's sake, through hell and finally tries to kill himself in front of Killua.

And it would have been so easy to fix! Just a sentence here and there, creating a persistent thread, about how Kite is Gon's only living connection to his father, stood in his father's place, taught him things like morals and ethics, is the one who made Gon who he is (the person who could pull Killua out of the darkness like he did). Just some subtle reinforcement of that, at key points, and this whole fiasco could have been fixed!

But no. We don't get shown any of that. All we get shown is Gon betraying the one relationship we have actually seen developed in depth. Total. Writing. Fail.

Fuck's sake, it's enough to make a person start shipping Killua with fucking Hisoka.

Daily Happiness

Jun. 26th, 2016 01:18 am
torachan: a kitten looking out the window (chloe in window)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Today was the 4th of July fireworks show at Santa Monica College (they always have it the weekend before 4th of July weekend) and I usually miss seeing them since I'm just getting off work then, but they must have started a little later this year because I got home in time to see them.

2. I love kitties who love scritches!

The wheel came off my chariot of fire

Jun. 25th, 2016 05:23 pm
oursin: Painting of Clio Muse of History by Artemisia Gentileschi (Clio)
[personal profile] oursin

It has been commented upon quite extensively that there is among certain sections of the population a nostalgia for the Britain past that never was.

One of the things that is the forefront of my consciousness at the moment because of thing I am writing is a nostalgia for the futures that never happened.

All those utopian visions of various forms of nicer, kinder, fairer, cleaner, safer, all round more pleasant societies.

And, okay, one can see the problems when revisiting them, and sometimes they are not places one would really like to live though might be fine for a visit, but still -

I will take a bland 'paradise of little fat men' (Orwell on Wells: this actually strikes me as something of a mischaracterisation of Wells' utopias) over a dystopia of inequality and fears of the 'other', any day.


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