Now that the season is over, I'm still not sure whether Fuller's decision to stretch the main plot out and pace it the way he does is justified. I mean, we STILL haven't reached the House on the Rock yet, and I assumed that would happen in the third episode, as it's this story's Council of Elrond scene, so to speak. Just think of a LotR tv adaption where they've barely made out of the Shire by the time the season finishes. Otoh, all that Fuller & Co. have added does enrich the story and I wouldn't have wanted to miss it, so.
( And the moral of the story is... )
well three if you count phoning my mum, and four if you count picking up the phone to office noise and a voice I couldn't make out, but two in person.
the shelf thing is resolved by getting extra shelves, and his assurance the shelf going dadunk dadunk will work out fine (and my realising I could just not use that shelf and continue to stack the boxes if it don't work out fine).
it is Far Too Hot to be doing, and yet I had to do the vacuum cleaning, to sort out the carpet after the deliveries. and also clean the shelves, which are a bit dusty. and then judging the height turned into putting books on, which only was Jones because I can't find Kay until I put the Analog collection back. but it is far too hot, so I'm sweating and trying to drink steadily.
If I put enough books in order I can put my chair back in its rightful place, and also get at the other computer again.
but if I wait until later it must get cooler eventually. and I'm planning to buy a fan. if Sainsburys still has them after all this.
The Heiress Effect, by Courtney Milan.
The conceit of this book is brilliant. She has to stay single, for complicated family reasons, but her plan will stop working if she turns down any reasonable offer, so she has to make her person repellent enough to counterbalance the attraction of her considerable fortune -- without letting anyone see that she's doing it on purpose. I love it when the obstacles in a romance are not stupid! I love comedy of manners, when it puts extra constraints on the protagonist's solution space! Especially when the protagonist using a formidable intelligence and an immense amount of work to seem foolish and ineffectual!
I was disappointed that this book ignores the constraints that don't assist the story it wants to tell. (For example, these unmarried gentlewomen would not go to a dinner-party in a house without a hostess. One of them is accompanied by a chaperone, another is with her sister, and that is adequate for excursions in public places in daylight, but after dark, in a house full of young men -- no. It would not do.) These elements might not move the story forward directly, but they would do a lot to make the societal forces our heroes are working against seem powerful and real.
• What did you recently finish reading?
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer. DNF. It isn't a bad book, but I found myself resenting the idea that it would be one of the approximately 3000 new books I have time left to read. Its greatest appeal for me is how thoroughly Schumer fights against shame. Read for Tawanda book group.
• What do you think you’ll read next?
I put a Climbing Mount TBR challenge on my Habitica To-Do list, but I'm not sure how to tackle it. Two of my book groups are on summer hiatus, so I have room to move. I like melannen's FMK polls, and I keep thinking I could do that too, but when I look at my shelves and ask, "Which of these are you going to read, really?" and "Which of these do you need to keep, really?" my answer is always, "All of them. All. Yes, even that one."
Can't cope with that. Really can't cope with that.
Instead here is a picture of my cat. He really has gone to sleep with his feet in the air. He's an ungainly beast.
( Read more... )
Yesterday I also went climbing for the first time in years. I used to climb quite a bit when I was a teenager, and then about five years ago I tried going with emperor as a day trip from Ardgour, and found it depressingly difficult. Since then my strength to weight ratio has improved significantly, so last night I had a much easier time hauling myself off the ground. I was still distinctly conscious that the kind of strength you need in order to lift a heavy thing and then lower it five times before putting it down and having a break to recover is quite different from the kind of sustained effort you need to put in climbing a wall. I started with what was probably the easiest route on the wall, and then gradually increased in difficulty until I found a couple of routes that I made it up but just barely, and a couple more that I couldn't manage, but which are now on my target list for next time.
Also, be sure to do today's Google doodle. I could do that all day.
Cow herd behavior is fodder for complex systems analysis
Making Cents of Currency’s Ancient Rise
The Lion-Shaped Maps That United a Nation
African farmers’ kids conquer the marshmallow test
Summer solstice: the perfect day to bask in a dazzling scientific feat (First comment: "How did they know it was noon?" I can't even...)
Discovery could lead to sustainable ethanol made from carbon dioxide
She May Be The Most Unstoppable Scientist In The World
Dinosaurs got an evolutionary assist from huge volcanic eruptions
The Great Uprising: How a Powder Revolutionized Baking
Why the 'peculiar' stands out in our memory
Incredibly pictures of NYC when it was covered in farmland
'Human Project' study will ask 10,000 to share life's data
The App That Does Nothing
DNA reveals how cats achieved world domination
The ATU Fable Index: Like the Dewey Decimal System, But With More Ogres (I don't really care what happens in "Bunnies Beware of the King", but I'm more than a little perturbed that I can't even read the entire synopsis for 910J: Never plant a thorn tree.)
Chimps' cultural traditions extend beyond family
A Good News Story About Diarrhea — With One Surprising Exception
The Forgotten Trains of India (Photojournalism)
South Africa's District Six Cookbook Helps Preserve A Lost Community
Forever green: Cemeteries make more room for natural burials
Debate heats up over teaching climate change in US schools
Bosnian students keep up their protest against segregated schools
Afghan de-miners cling to hard but much-needed jobs
What Is the Point of Sean Spicer's Briefings? (I've got a question for Sean Spicer. "Do you know that you make yourself a laughingstock every time you hold one of these briefings? How much are you getting paid to shred your dignity to bits? Are you sure it's really worth it?" Damn, that's such a good question, rather than waiting for a journalist to ask it, I should send him a postcard. Or I could go traditional - "How do you sleep at night?" Postcards are cheap, I can send both questions.)
Iraqi forces advance on Mosul mosque where IS declared caliphate
What Is Putin Up To in Syria?
US interrogates detainees in Yemen prisons rife with torture
- Lisa Coxon of Toronto Life shares eleven photos tracking Toronto's queer history back more than a century.
- Michelle McQuigge reports for the Toronto Star that the Luminous Veil does save lives. I would add that it is also beautiful.
- In The Globe and Mail, Marcus Gee thinks it makes perfect sense for there to be a dedicated streetcar corridor on King Street.
- Ben Spurr describes a new plan for a new GO Transit bus station across from Union Station.
- Emily Mathieu reported in the Toronto Star on how some Kensington Market tenants seem to have been pushed out for an Airbnb hostel.
- In The Globe and Mail, Irish-born John Doyle explores the new Robert Grassett Park, built in honour of the doctor who died trying to save Irish refugees in 1847.
Justin Ling in VICE tells the story of three gay men who went missing without a trace in Toronto just a few years ago. What happened?
And well, yes, that's because it did. Most of my memories of childhood summers take place in Belgium. The sun didn't set in Wavre today until 10pm. It set here at 8:30.
Logically, I know that I spent many more summers in NYC than in Belgium (and I also spent a few in Austin, with my other grandmother), but... somehow, in my memories, except for the 4th and the occasional trip to the beach, it's always Belgium. And in Belgium, the sun stays up forever in the summer. (It sets correspondingly earlier in the winter, but we never were there in the winter.)
The trick is not to draw well, but to draw like everybody else. A quick sketch of a rectangle with a fin on it is better than a beautiful, photorealistic picture of a shark - and apparently, the entire world, when confronted with "animal migration", decides to make a few m-birds and call it a day. (The algorithm is entirely too fond of throwing out "animal migration" as a challenge.)
[As an aside, someone on Good Reads tried to quiz me on a romance novel that I reviewed in 2013. Seriously you think I'm going to remember the details of a romance novel I read back in 2013? I'm lucky if I can remember reading it. That's why I write reviews of these books, so I can keep track of the fact that I read them and don't accidentally by them again or re-read. My mother and I joke about this, neither of us can remember the book six months after we read it. It's actually part of the appeal. Romance novels are really hard to remember...they are so interchangeable and the writing style tends for the most part to be rather non-distinct. I actually like reading them for that reason at times...it's a nice light story, resolved by love, and caring, little to no violence, lots of sex (well sometimes depends), and I can delete from the memory banks. Got too much to remember as it is.)
Marry in Haste (Marriage for Convenience #1) by Anne Gracie
What works here, is the writer managed to subvert an incredibly annoying romance novel trope, aka the catastrophic misunderstanding, usually caused by the protagonists' stupidity.
The set-up? The heroine was disowned by her father because he believed some vicious rumors about her. Apparently she'd had an affair with a twenty-six year old stable hand when she was just seventeen. So when a neighbor who was after her inheritance found out, he decided to pass a nasty rumor about how she'd slept around with various stable hands and groomsmen, to everyone in town to convince her father to marry her off to him, to save her reputation. The father believed him. She took off to be a school-mistress. And eventually ends up married to our hero as a business arrangement to chaperon his sisters and niece through a season. He's adorable. They fall in love. But never say the words. And both doubt the other's feelings because they are too dense to realize actions matter not silly words. Even though everyone else can obviously tell.
So, of course throughout the entire book, I'm waiting for the hero to find out about the rumors and do the same thing her father did. Believe the vicious rumors and treat her horribly. They'll have a big melodramatic argument. She'll run off. Maybe gets hurt. He realizes he loves her, etc. Thinking, he'll probably find out from a friend or overhear it. (Because that's what always happens in these books or at least most of them.)
But that's not what happened. Instead, surprise surprise ...she tells him. He trusts her, doesn't believe a word of the rumor. Her friends and his family team up to kick the nasty gossip to the curb. And it all plays out the way it should. Zero misunderstandings.
Subverts the trope completely. Yay.
My only quibble about the story is...the author clearly doesn't like confrontations or conflict, because most of that happens off page, as does a lot of family scenes. There's a lot of paraphrasing and summarizing in the book. So I felt it was...rather passive at times.
That said, there is good, light banter. The hero is in a word, adorable. And incredibly kind. Not a jerk. And the heroine is equally adorable and kind. Actually with the exception of maybe two characters, which we barely even see...everyone is rather kind and likable.
Overall, an enjoyable read. It takes place just after the War with Napolean. So pre-Victorian period.
As an aside about historical romance -- weirdly the historical accuracy doesn't bother me the way it does in straight historical novels like Hillary Mantel's Wolf Hall. (Which I haven't been able to get into for various reasons but one of the sticking points is I know she made stuff up for dramatic effect. And people bought it as real. My problem with the more literary or straight historicals is often people read those for history, when they aren't accurate. I just read post on FB by a social friend a while back which stated this problem - Students take Hilary Mantels Tudor Novels As Fact
Guy recalled being out for the day after Mantel won the Booker prize for Wolf Hall in 2009 and returning home to find a stack of requests to write 1,000 words on how historically accurate the book was. He was also invited on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He declined all the offers.
“It is a novel. It is just silly. When you are in a world of the novel, a world of theatre, you tell a lie to tell the truth.
“Let us get this straight, the genius of Mantel is that she is aiming to summon up ghosts and if you look at some of that dialogue, it is absolutely remarkable.”
But what makes for great drama may not make for good history. And, in fact, “Wolf Hall” has stirred considerable controversy among historians and critics, many of whom have wondered what responsibility novelists who write about the past have toward history.
- How Wolf Hall Will Entertain Millions and Threaten to Distort History in the Process
That's the problem I have always had with straight historical novels in a nutshell. It's not just Mantel, it's basically all of them. They lie to you and it's not always clear how, and a lot of people get their history from fictionalized historical novels, where the writer has done a lot research then embellished and reinterpreted it to make a good story or fit their worldview.
So, I actually prefer genre - mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, romance historical hybrids, because it's pretty clear upfront that none of this is real. The history is not accurate.
The writer probably did a little research but not that much. So it's unlikely any reader will read genre for historical information or quote it.
That said, I have read historical novels and do like the genre on occasion, but prefer it when the characters in the historical are "fictional" and not based on real people.
2. What I'm reading now?
Still reading Let's Develop! by Fred Newman who is a somewhat controversial philosopher, political activist, psychotherapist, and teacher, that developed a new type of therapy -- social group therapy. He got into a bit of trouble with the political left, because while Marxist in some respects - more philosophy than economically, he's not anti-capitalism and supported Mayor Bloomberg's bid for Mayor and Ralph Nader.
Anyhow the latest chapter that I read discusses how therapy is not about problem solving or problem, solution, explanation. And states how too much emphasis has been placed on diagnosis. Or explaining dreams or why people act a certain way. And how this gets in the way of developing as a person and creating. I'm paraphrasing, because to be honest I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it.
The exercise at the end of the chapter is...the next time you hit a huge problem that you can't figure out how to solve or is making you crazy. Don't try to solve it. Write a poem about it instead. So I guess that's a poetry challenge.
Fortune Favors the Wicked by Theresa Romain which is about a blind navel officer and a courtesan who go hunting for treasure. I have no idea which historical period we are in. It feels post Napolean, possibly Victorian. All I know is it is pre-1900s.
Sous Chef - 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney - this is told in second person close, which is not the easiest point of view in the world to read. I find jarring.
He's putting "you" as in the "reader" in the shoes of a Sous Chef. "You have these knives, etc". And it's rather detailed. But the voice and point of view are rough going.
Anthony Bourdain, who had a rather distinctive voice, and made the wise decision of writing in first person, was a lot easier and more entertaining.
It’s the longest day today. Halfway through the year, near as damnit. Might as well take stock.
I said, at the death of the old year (in a private group)
I don’t have any hopes, I don’t have any goals. I’m just marking time between now and my inevitable lonely death, discovered three days after the fact, the cat eating my face.
This has to change, but I don’t have the faintest fucking idea how to change it.
I forgot King Mob’s Rule.
You think about…how hard it seems to change any of it. And then it all changes, like everything else.
My changes have not been the result of Zen Buddhism or twenty tons of TNT (thankfully). Things changed anyway. And, for the most part, they changed for the better.
Trying just makes it worse.
It was nine months at the start of June; I didn’t think to note it at the time. Things were—and indeed are—on a pretty even keel. I finessed my way out of the burnout, and while I wasn’t as up as I wanted to be, I was, and I still am, on an even keel.
Tonight, the longest night, was the first night I was hit by it in a long time. Stupid shit, looking in one of the kitchen cupboards and thinking “this is Jane’s”, like I have a hundred times since we split, but this time I noticed myself thinking it, and felt shitty because of it. Not for any reason beyond that I do still think it. Because while I’m still thinking that, have I really moved on?
I have no idea. Is it even possible to “move on”? What does “moving on” actually mean? All I can do is move forwards.
If I were to attempt CHEESECAKE  pinup art of a hexarchate character for lulz, it should be
Kel Cheris 
someone else I will name in comments
ticky the EXTREMELY DISAPPROVING tocky
 May or may not feature CHEESY partial nudity.
 The incomparable telophase once did me a sketch of blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret because I kept joking that I would get a cover featuring blonde, busty Cheris with her space ferret. (Hexarchate AU...?!)
(In real life, I'm working on an art assignment...ahahahahaha.)
(Dear Louisiana: PLEASE STOP RAINING. At least it isn't downpouring enough that I feel that I have to pack for emergency evacuation, it's just raining drearily, but...)
2. Accordingly, I bought a small watermelon at the store. It wasn't until I cut it open that I discovered that it was a variety with yellow pulp, which I'd never had before. It tasted like any other watermelon, but looking at it was disorienting.
3. It's so hot that the cats are thiiiis long. Maia has been playing dead on the carpet, though it'd probably be cooler on the linoleum.
4. Speaking of the linoleum, it's been the subject of Pippin thinking outside the box, as it were. We don't know why he's doing it. It's not necessarily associated with the box needing to be cleaned, and we've had him medically tested for any physical problems.
5. The word before the Georgia election was that even a narrow loss would be a grand repudiation of the Republicans. The word after the narrow loss is that it's a disaster for the Democrats. My own take is that a continuing series of narrow losses won't cut it.
Dean's retelling covers three years and a couple of months of Janet Carter's life as a student at Blackstock College, pursuing a liberal arts degree with a major in English literature, building friendships, learning how to get along with a wide range of people and exploring romantic relationships, and at the same time investigating a book-throwing ghost and trying to work out why it is that everyone in the Classics department seems rather strange. Translating the plot of a ballad into a 450-page book leaves a lot of space around the plot for Dean to paint a picture of the college atmosphere, the pressures of studying and the delights and unreality of spending four years isolated from the world, surrounded by learning and other people who want to learn and share your interests. I found the liberal-arts college background familiar enough to make me rather nostalgic for my own student days, but different enough to be fascinating, and I liked the characters and their interactions a lot. I particularly enjoyed the way the friendship between Janet and her two roommates develops, from a very prickly relationship at the start (they have very little in common) to a real friendship and mutual support network, and the way that the college environment masks the very real peculiarities of some of the Classics students.
For me, this felt like the book I wanted Jo Walton's Among Others to be; a literate and literary study of growing up bookish, with a liminal fantastic element. Among Others simply didn't do it for me, but this did, and while I will never love it as much as Fire and Hemlock (which, interestingly, is also a very literary book - I read a lot of things for the first time because they were mentioned in it) I did like it a great deal.