things. of a thinglike nature.

Jul. 21st, 2017 07:44 pm
lireavue: A pair of bare legs kicking into the air; the person lies on a bed draped in sheets above. (daughter of a lost country)
[personal profile] lireavue
1. It has been, not quite so much unbearably hot? But unbearably humid on TOP of the hot, leading to me spending a day in microsleep stage of sleep deprived, plus finally going NO HONEY WE ARE GETTING A WINDOW AC FOR THE BEDROOM. It came today. It has been installed. It is fucking glorious and can be AIMED and I LOVE IT and I'm going SLEEP SO MUCH TONIGHT.

2. Instead of doing the half dozen things I wanted to today as part of slowly making the apartment less of a disaster area (per, you know, not having slept much this week), I ended up with a combination of cramps + migraine + massive fuckoff storms which resulted in curling up for the afternoon and not moving. I continue to blame Daniel Jackson for my inability to Ascend past this stupid embodied plane of existence. Fucker stole them all.

3. Water bottle holders may have been my most useful knitting project ever and considering I love my lap blankets a LOT that's saying something. And the yarn stretches just about as much as the pattern indicated, I might add another inch or so of knitting to the next one so that I can sling it cross-body between my boobs without any problem at all? But I took the test project along to lesson/rehearsal yesterday and it's definitely adequate as-is.

4. Next week is Restaurant Week and frankly given the week I've just had I can't fucking wait. I need a week where I can subsist off leftovers in between paying incredibly reasonable prices for really good food. And my leftovers are getting made this weekend.

5. ...I forget what 5 was going to be but let it be noted for the record that it is really fucking nice to be able to exchange money for lack of spoons and mostly not worry about it. Oh, no, I remembered: apparently this weekend will consist of Editrixing at some truly old drafts. Expect a lot of yelping that WOW I AM OLD although it may end up staying in chat. Who knows. >.>

6. Iiii am going to go tackle Mt Laundry now, I think. Honestly once THAT gets out of the way I'm down to batch cooking and cleaning the bathrooms for the weekend chores, assuming of course I don't immediately discover I need to run more laundry. But hey. If I fold all the bins I get the really GOOD popcorn for dessert. XD

(no subject)

Jul. 20th, 2017 05:36 pm
skygiants: Fakir from Princess Tutu leaping through a window; text 'doors are for the weak' (drama!!!)
[personal profile] skygiants
Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age is a fairly fascinating book that's trying to do a lot of things at once: the book starts out with the dramatic recounting of MURDER!!! and then immediately takes, if not a deep dive, at least a vigorous swim through such varied topics as the history of British radio and the BBC, Keynesian economic philosophy, copyright limitations, and the founding of Sealand in order to contextualize it.

Once we get back to the story of the murder itself, however, it turns out: IT'S BONKERS. The principals in the case are two pirate radio impresarios in 1966. Oliver Smedley, An Ardent Free-Trade Capitalist, was running a station called Radio Atlanta on a boat off the coast; Reggie Calvert, A Dance Hall Impresario, had taken over an entire abandoned British navy fort called Shivering Sands in the Thames Estuary and staffed it with a rotating encampment of youths running a station called Radio City. At one point Smedley and Calvert were going to have a merger, but then they had an ACRIMONIOUS BREAKUP spurred on in part by:

- the fact that Smedley was supposed to give Calvert a shiny new transmitter and instead provided an old one that never worked
- the fact that Smedley never paid all the bills he had promised Calvert that Radio Atlanta would pay
- the fact that Calvert got sick of all this and decided to merge with another station instead

The reason for all these pirate radio stations on boats and naval forts, by the way, is because in 1966 there was no legal pop radio in the UK (as explained, extensively, via the history of radio and Keynesian economic theory etc. that makes up the first half of the book). Because the pirates were technically outside of UK territory, on the other hand, they could technically get away with doing whatever they wanted, or at least the government like "it will be way too embarrassing to launch a huge naval raid against a bunch of youths on was a fort with a radio transmitter, so let's not."

HOWEVER, the fact that everything was happening outside of territorial waters where British laws and police had no jurisdiction BACKFIRED when:

- Ardent Free-Trade Capitalist Smedley decided he was so mad that Calvert had made a deal without him that he was going to MAKE SURE that the deal could never go through
- he was going to GET BACK HIS PROPERTY [the transmitter that had never worked]
- so he sent an ACTUAL OCCUPYING FORCE composed of out-of-work dockworkers to Shivering Sands, stole a bunch of key broadcasting equipment, took a bunch of it back to the mainland, and left a bunch of toughs to hold everybody who was on the station at that time hostage!!!
- (when they met the invading force, the hostage broadcasters were like 'welp' and made everybody tea)
- ("the vessel had to return briefly to pick up [the contractor who recruited the gang], who had been left behind drinking his tea")
- and then Smedley went to Calvert and his partner, an actual professional broadcaster, and was like 'I will not let you broadcast from there again or finish making your deal unless you pay me FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS'

Naturally, everyone involved was like 'wtf????' and refused to pay Smedley a dime; Calvert threatened to involve the police but the police were like 'ummmmmm technically we can't do anything for the same reasons we haven't been able to stop you from broadcasting;' Calvert then made a whole bunch of other even wilder threats; and all the hired dockworkers sat around cheerfully charging Smedley for hostaging operations which he was rapidly running out of money for.

Anyway, in the middle of all this, Calvert drove out to Smedley's house in the middle of the night and started screaming at him, and Smedley shot him and then claimed self-defense and that his HOSTILE OCCUPATION OF A POP RADIO STATION was just a little joke gone wrong! No harm no foul if only Calvert hadn't been so UPSET about it! It did help Smedley's self-defense case that Calvert happened to be carrying A FAKE PEN FULL OF NERVE GAS at the time, which apparently, according to his family, he always carried around just for safekeeping.

...so the author's point in writing about all this seems to be that a.) this incident was crucial in getting the pirate radio boats shut down and the formation of the current BBC radio system that includes actual pop radio, b.) that this is all a forerunner of later copyright battles and offshore data centers and so on, c.) pirate-radio-on-boats in the 1960s was a WILD TIME. About the latter, at least, he is most surely not mistaken.

(This has nothing to do with the main brunt of the book but I have to spare a mention for Radio City's chief engineer, who later was hired by the mob! to perform an assassination attempt!! using a spring-loaded hypodermic needle full of cyanide!!! in what it turns out was ACTUALLY a sting operation by the U.S. Treasury department who picked the hapless Radio City engineer to act as the assassin because "he needed the fee while being clearly incapable of killing anybody"!!!! This whole incident gets two pages in the book because it's somewhat irrelevant to the author's argument but seriously, where is this guy's movie?

For the record, the same mobsters then tried to intimidate Reggie Calvert's widow into selling them the remnants of the station and she was like 'lol no' and they were like '....well, when a lady knows her own mind, she knows her own mind! No hard feelings.')

Crossovering Letter

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:06 am
evil_plotbunny: (downtime)
[personal profile] evil_plotbunny
Placeholder. Nothing to see here

(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:54 pm
skygiants: C-ko the shadow girl from Revolutionary Girl Utena in prince drag (someday my prince will come)
[personal profile] skygiants
[personal profile] genarti read The Privilege of the Sword for the first time recently, because I had been telling her to since 2008, and then kept trying to talk to me about it. Unfortunately at this point I did not remember most of the things she was trying to talk to me about because I hadn't read it since 2007, so eventually I also had to reread it in self-defense.

It turns out this is still and probably will always be my favorite Ellen Kushner book. The central plotline follows Katherine, a cheerful young lady who gets invited to restore the family fortunes by going to live with her incredibly weird uncle in the big city and becoming a swordsman!

Unlike many plucky heroines, Katherine does not initially have really any interest at all in cross-dresing or becoming a swordsman. However, eventually she comes to enjoy swordfighting for its own sake, helped along by the mentorship of her incredibly weird uncle's nice ex-boyfriend, the necessity of dueling for a friend's honor, and the discovery that bisexuality and gender fluidity are potentially relevant concepts to her teen coming-of-age story.

...that's the A-plot! B, C, D, E, and F plots include:

- Katherine's mom's reparation of her relationship with Katherine's weird uncle
- Katherine's weird uncle's actress girlfriend's dreamy new cross-dressing fantasy Broadway show
- Katherine's weird uncle's unfortunate friendship breakup with his mathematician bestie
- Katherine's bff's attempts to overcome trauma from rape-by-fiance by engaging in romantic gay roleplay via letter-writing
- Katherine's other bff's attempts to overcome trauma from an abusive childhood by engaging in competitive voyeurism
- Katherine's bff's gigolo cousin's star-crossed romance with a scriptwriter/potter who is on the run from her abusive in-laws who do not appear in this book
- trade routes?? politics?????

I'm pretty sure that's not all the plots. There are so many plots in this book. It's fine because the plots are barely the point at best, the point is coming-of-age and life after trauma and thumbing your nose at Societal Conventions while getting to know and like yourself! I especially enjoy how in the end, spoilers )

(Note: emo murderous Alec from Swordspoint drives me up a wall in his own book, but is significantly more tolerable to me when he's just Katherine's incredibly weird uncle. I mean he still drives me up a wall here but it's much funnier when he's driving everyone else up a wall too.)

Thirteenth Doctor

Jul. 16th, 2017 12:11 pm
evil_plotbunny: (special effects)
[personal profile] evil_plotbunny
Thirteenth Doctor Announcement

I wasn't one of the people who was turned off by Moffat (I find Chibnall more worrying), but then when the new series started his was the name I recognized due to a deep and abiding love of Press Gang. But I am so here for this, and hoping so hard that Chibnall doesn't mess it up.

(no subject)

Jul. 16th, 2017 09:37 am
skygiants: Nellie Bly walking a tightrope among the stars (bravely trotted)
[personal profile] skygiants
Rose Melikan's The Blackstone Key is one of the few books I've grabbed at random off a library shelf recently without ever having heard of it. Then I immediately grabbed the next two books, The Counterfeit Guest and The Mistaken Wife, so I guess they were doing something right, although also several things not right.

These books are deeply fluffy YA-ish Regency espionage hijinks starring Mary Finch, an impoverished orphan schoolteacher turned (by the end of the first book) surprise heiress with an unexpectedly encyclopedic knowledge of British law and an enthusiastic penchant for Adventures! !! !!!

Captain Holland, the series love interest, is an artillery officer who is good at mechanics and up on new military technologies. Other salient characteristics include:
- a terrible tendency towards sea- and carriage-sickness
- an ongoing resentful inability to understand all the clever literary and historical references being tossed around by the rest of the characters
- CONSTANT MONEY STRESS

I'll be honest, he won me over during the first book when Mary's like "am I a bad person for worrying about how the outcome of all this espionage will affect my potential inheritance?" and he's like "DEFINITELY NOT, if anybody tells you they don't stress about money THEY ARE LYING."

Rose Melikan is a scholar of the period and very good on British military history. She is not so good on plot. The first book is complete, hilariously convoluted nonsense involving SMUGGLERS and CIPHERS and MYSTERIOUS WATCHES and a SURPRISE CHANCE-MET DYING VILLAIN. It turns out that spoilers )

The second book is probably my favorite and definitely the least nonsense plot-wise; it's about the 1797 naval mutinies, and Our Heroine gets recruited to spy on a plotter because she happens to know his wife and will likely be in his house, which does not stretch suspension of disbelief too very wildly. (It's also sort of entertaining to watch the author do a careful dance between what I suspect is a personal sympathy for unionization and strike tactics and the fact that Mass Military Mutiny Is Definitely A Bad Thing, Our Characters Must Stop It At Any Cost.)

...then in Book Three we are expected to believe that an actual professional spy sees no better alternative for an important espionage mission than taking a well-known youthful heiress and society figure whose salient skills are, as aforementioned, a knowledge of British law and an enthusiasm for Adventure, and sneaking her off to Paris in a fake marriage with a clueless American painter while her respectable household desperately tries to pretend she's in London the whole time. At this point suspension of disbelief goes straight out the window again.

I have mixed feelings about Book Three in general; it's the darkest of the three and several sympathetic characters die as a direct result of Our Heroes' espionage endeavors including infuriating spoiler ) I'm not here for that! I'M HERE FOR THE HIJINKS.

(no subject)

Jul. 12th, 2017 11:26 pm
skygiants: Hazel, from the cover of Breadcrumbs, about to venture into the Snow Queen's forest (into the woods)
[personal profile] skygiants
With Sorrow's Knot I think I have now finished reading everything from Erin Bow's backlog, which is good in that I have consistently enjoyed it all, but bad in that I have no more Erin Bow backlog.

All of Erin Bow's work (I can now say, having read all of it) is in some way about death and undeath and the wildly unhealthy ways in which human beings react to loss; however, Sorrow's Knot is EVEN MORE explicitly about this than most. The book focuses on Otter and her friends Kestrel and Cricket, who are all pretty sure they know what they're going to do when they grow up: Kestel is going to be a ranger, Cricket is going to become a storyteller (despite being a boy and getting a certain degree of side-eye for deciding to stay in the women's village at all -- everyone knows it's dangerous in the forest and boys don't have any power to protect themselves with, sorry boys!), and Otter is going to train with her mother Willow and Willow's teacher Tamarack to learn the very important job of being a binder, aka Person Who Stops The Dead From Coming Back And Killing Us All.

Then Tamarack dies -- and then Willow abruptly and without explanation decides she doesn't want Otter becoming a binder after all -- and then the knots that stop the dead from coming back to haunt the living begin unraveling -- and then more people die -- and then Otter and friends get to go on a road trip! It's not a super fun road trip and it unsurprisingly features several close encounters with the dead.

I really liked the worldbuilding and the slow and careful work that Bow does to build out the daily lives of the characters and the culture -- it's a North American-based world without European influence, and I'm certainly not qualified to comment on how well it's done, but to me it felt interesting and non-obvious. Also, Otter's world is almost entirely composed of women and everything revolves around Significant Mother-Daughter Relationships and it's great, although Erin Bow sadly had not yet discovered lesbians as of this book. (Though I feel like perhaps this is the book that led to her discovering lesbians? Like, I do wonder if someone came up to Erin Bow and pointed out that she'd written a matriarchal village where Actual Heterosexual Romance is explicitly rare and still somehow only featured Actual Heterosexual Romance onscreen, and Erin Bow was like 'WHOOPS OK SORRY I'LL MAKE IT UP TO YOU' and then we got The Scorpion Rules. Which, I mean, if this is the case, I guess I'm not complaining, I'm very happy to have The Scorpion Rules!)

I also really liked the importance of stories and storytelling and lore and bits and pieces of information shared and not shared, but the pacing of the way those stories are shared with the reader sometimes felt a little off to me; there were occasionally times, especially towards the end, when I felt like the book was leading me to expect a Big Reveal that had already been revealed. But, I mean, the point of the book is not really to Reveal, it's to examine grief -- and as I have mentioned above, Bow is exceptionally good on grief.

i actually do exist

Jul. 11th, 2017 05:42 pm
lireavue: A woman in a pair of combat boots with flowers stuck through the laces. (tame the roads that can't be tamed)
[personal profile] lireavue
I've even been back from vacation for awhile, I just needed a vacation from my vacation and now I need a vacation from THAT and... so on.

Things, in the order of which they are currently at the top of my brain, which unfortunately right now MOSTLY means the order in which they're most irritating.

1. Fandom is currently reminding me why I flat-out do not fucking engage beyond private discussions with people who've taken the time to get to know me, and vice versa, because otherwise I end up in such a state of social paranoia and teeth-bared hatred for humanity that I self-isolate to an extreme degree, attempt to push people into DEMONSTRATING that they're secretly assholes waiting to turn on me, or both. Or as a result of keeping myself from doing same I end up severely spoon-depleted and snappish at the few people I DO trust not to turn on me.

So I should probably jab a knitting needle through my fixation on whether or not the droll is gonna murder me in my sleep and go, I dunno, babble at someone about various current fandoms. Fortunately tomorrow we get to watch last week's Killjoys ep and I will almost assuredly spend half an hour or more with C and L brainstorming just what the actual fuck is going on.

2. While the heat itself isn't TOO awful, the dew point right now overnight has been somewhere in the 68-70 range, and the overnight low somewhere in the 65-68 range, so I perpetually end up feeling like I'm in a chilly wet sock. This does absolutely fucking NOTHING for my ability to actually sleep, C's been snoring a good deal probably BECAUSE of the damn humidity, and I end up turning the AC on and feeling kind of bad about it because of a recent Climate Change Means We're All Gonna Die article that I made the mistake of clicking on.

(I mean, like: yes, it IS really bad, I don't want to downplay that? But articles that explain how it is Very Bad OMG without giving USEFUL DIRECTION are at this point disaster porn that increases everyone's denial and freeze- or flight-responses to the fear. It is Too Big To Fight to most people's brains therefore fuckit running away now.)

3. I can't actually tell if I'm being a precious twit about this or WHAT, but the way PokeGo's new gym system is set up, it's actually POLITE to not fucking kick people out when they've been in less than a few hours and it BECOMES polite to kick people out at somewhere around eight hours. Because you don't get any COINS until you get the gym back. And anyway the basic upshot here is that I went around and took over THREE gyms with that in mind? ...and I have made a whole fucking 12 coins because fuck you that's why. Like I don't even entirely need coins that badly right now! It's just the principle of the thing! HOW IS IT HARD TO MATH THIS OUT.

I mean legit there's probably a lot of kids doing it? Or adults who haven't figured it out. Because the adults that I've explained new gyms to are all "oh! that makes sense! that seems WAY more fun for cooperative gameplay!" Which yes yes it is. I am just Very Tired of this shit, ok, and it's adding to my mental load from the above.

Honestly I kinda wish there were an in-game way to communicate a little, but short of renaming 'mon every time you stick them in a gym I don't really see HOW. Particularly without some major issues surrounding needing an entire group for PG Abuse, and well... I remember the LJ Abuse days even if I was never on the team. I heard shit all the same!

4. Despite all of this I have mostly managed to get the apartment back into livable shape, including dealing with the last of the clean laundry today. The state of my dresser is... a later problem. Like probably tomorrow problem. And my nails are short enough to practice and I know the things I need to DO next, albeit not with any plans to do them tonight. Tonight is mostly for relaxing. If I take a wild hair I can go balance the budget.

...actually there's a thought to turn over more later, how much of my willingness to let budget go for a couple-three weeks at a stretch is because I CAN now without worrying we're going to end up overdrawn. Like it is seriously SUCH a fucking relief to be financially stable that I am clearly not over it, five-odd years on. But honestly if that and some reluctance to deal with medium and large expenditures (which is what C is for, honestly) for quality-of-life are the main scars I have left I... will take that.

5. Since starting up a notebook for my music practice I have gotten like 10x more focused and more aware of things I need to fix. And how to fix them! And such. I have yet to figure out how I'm going to translate this into anything useful at lessons, probably highlighter and a separate page compiling stuff from the last week (...in this case 3-4 weeks, my teacher had a summer gig that took over our lesson slot) into something legible and less-shorthand. But I feel like this is really SUPER helping, and okay some of the things I'm finding to fix are the sort of perpetual bad habits I have literally been trying to ditch since I was a teenager if not before? It's just that FOR ONCE it's MY internal voice finding them and wanting to make them better, instead of a schoolteacher Exasperated At Me or, you know, my mother. Too soon to tell how much of that's going to stick, but worth mentioning.

6. Vacation! Vacation happened, we went to the North Shore with the in-laws and we had a fox family WITH KITS OMG living near the vacation rental, the cat wasn't totally happy about the dogs being in the place but there was a door to separate the floors. So we all had space, including a degree of privacy from each other, and as far as I can TELL the cat was actually way happier on the whole for her humans being with her. Other than that: canoeing (and getting yelled at by a duck I am STILL SORRY I did not see your babies were that close), wandering trails, agate-hunting, thomsonite-hunting, seeing family friends, eating stupidly delicious fresh-caught lake trout. Took a float plane (a De Havilland Beaver, for any aviation nerds I have?) over Duluth-Superior and was very good (and so was the FIL) and did not kick his chair ONCE to tell him to let the pilot do the tour. XD Found taconite pellet discards. Slept. It was pretty good, apart from the whole, hi there are cliffs and hills EVERYWHERE did you know your knee isn't REALLY up to walking them more than every other day? Yeah.

7. Miscellany: I have a super awesome swishy new skirt, a blue tunic-dress thing with the Gondor coat of arms fabric-painted on, and a Celtic knot pin, all garage sale finds because C has an Eye. (We're pretty sure both the pieces of clothing are handmade, just the skirt involved someone having a serger.) I also have a substantially more expensive but no less pretty agate bracelet, because while I totally want to do something with the stones we found I am also all for supporting people with the craftsmanship to make a store like that work off pretty much nothing but tourists.

Being that I had a MIL, I cast on (it's a crochet cast-on, I am so not that good at crochet yet) for the bottle holder and I'm sort of alternating desires to finish that before I drop my water bottle AGAIN vs but but finishing the Oregon Trail cross stitch so we can make the bathroom nerdy as hell.

I remembered to USE my stupid inhaler on the trip a bunch, which made it probably way less arduous than it might otherwise have been - Lake Superior is fucking cold, so I had lake effect temps rarely above 70F going along WITH the effort involved in scrambling around rocks and semi-maintained trails. AND having used it that much I can safely say the Atrovent is different enough in type that it doesn't hit me in the irritability the way the steroidal ones are. Heavens help the world if I ever actually need to be on steroids and there's no substitute.

...I swear there was something else vaguely important oh well. I DID get into both classes at the Irishfest school of music so that'll be good, I have a new semi-fixation on this game called Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, which is a communication bomb-defusing game. And C made us grilled cheese sammiches with summer sausage in so I'm going to finish eating it instead of wiping off the grease periodically to finish the entry. >.>

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