rachelmanija: (Dollhouse)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Being on crutches, in an apartment up a flight of stairs, has certainly made decluttering more challenging. I cannot take anything to trash/recycling, but have to get someone else to do it for me (and I live alone). Also, it's a lot more difficult to carry things from room to room.

Nevertheless, I persisted!

KonMari has completely changed a lot of household chores for me, from things I hate and avoid to things I actively want to do as a combination of relaxation/meditative activity and geeky hobby. (I still hate washing dishes though). Sherwood and Layla, who have both seen my apartment in various stages, can attest to how much this has changed how it looks.

Here is a set of shelves in my kitchen which had not been decluttered in twelve years. There's a huge space in the back of them which is very hard to reach into. Consequently, when I stash anything there, it tends to drift toward the back, where I can then neither see nor reach it. Otherwise I only opened it to grab a tool from the tool box.

The other day, having hired someone to run some errands for me and also take out the trash, I parked myself on the floor and pulled everything out, a task which at times involved lying flat on my stomach and using a tool to sweep things toward me. I really wish I'd photographed the floor once everything was out, because it was a hair-raising mound of trash and weird junk. I found a half-drunk bottle of Kahlua which had probably been there for twelve years. I found paper towels so old that they shattered like glass.

I dumped the trash in trash bags and sorted the rest. Here is the end result:


Apr. 18th, 2019 07:07 pm
rydra_wong: Doonesbury: Mark announcing into a microphone, "That's guilty! Guilty, guilty, guilty!!" (during the Watergate scandal) (guilty)
[personal profile] rydra_wong

That's not exonerated! Not exonerated, not exonerated, not exonerated!!

11 instances of obstruction, oh my. And that looks a lot like a Scottish verdict on the collusion, too.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Ben and Rose have just gotten married when they receive a letter from Hannibal saying that he's being held prisoner in a Gothic mansion in Mexico where he's forced to play the violin for the delusional owner of the mansion who has regular hallucinatory conversations with Aztec Gods; he can't flee because, among other obstacles, the police want to hang him as the believe he poisoned the owner's son. Ben and Rose to the rescue!

This had a lot of very thought-provoking and sensitive stuff on the historical treatment of mental illness, legal slavery vs slavery in all but name, religion, and Ben's dilemma of never having a place where he can both feel at home and not have to deal with racism. This was all neatly married to a solid murder mystery, a family drama, and tons of adventure and bonding. Hambly is really good at writing established couples who are still madly in love, and I really enjoyed all the Ben/Rose moments as well as the Ben/Rose & Hannibal. The supporting characters were vivid and interesting, as was the new setting.

The climax didn't rise to quite the batshit heights of the last one, but not for want of trying.

Read more... )

Grimness quotient: Low, all things considered. There's a visit to an asylum which is awful and tragic, but the man running it is compassionate; it's mostly about how people just had no idea what to do about mental illness then. Some people stuck in miserable nunneries. Poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, but also lots of people just living their lives and managing to make pretty good ones despite it all.

Days of the Dead (Benjamin January, Book 7)

Death end re;Quest - thoughts etc.

Apr. 18th, 2019 06:45 am
batman: Ninomiya Shina from Death end re;Quest (knockback)
[personal profile] batman
I finished Death end re;Quest on 16 March, or a week after I bought it, which is saying something about a game that I hadn't even intended to buy at first instance until I heard good things about it. Oops. Worth it. I maybe could have waited for it to come out on PC but you know, I'll buy the inevitable remake there when it goes on sale as I already bought it for full price once.

So much death, so little time. )

I've got posts to do for Cinderella Phenomenon and Devil Survivor: Overclocked, and I have a lot of public holidays over the next two weeks (and then four weeks of leave!!). So, for accountability for the next six weeks, I plan to complete the following: Chaos;child, Kingdom Hearts 2.5, The World Ends With You, Xenosaga II, and (if I get really excitable) Atelier Totori. Let's see how I go in crushing this backlog!

(no subject)

Apr. 16th, 2019 09:09 pm
soc_puppet: [Homestuck] God tier "Doom" themed Dreamsheep (DOOOOOOOM)
[personal profile] soc_puppet
Posting it here, too:

Changes in Severity of Allergy and Anxiety Symptoms Are Positively Correlated in Patients with Recurrent Mood Disorders Who Are Exposed to Seasonal Peaks of Aeroallergens

(Note: Suicide reference at link.)

Basically? Spikes in pollen counts can make anxiety worse, which in turn can make depression worse, etc etc etc.

If you think about it, it makes a horrifying sort of sense that stuff in the air that makes it harder to breathe might make anxiety worse.

Take care with yourselves, everyone.

Wednesday reading April 17, 2019

Apr. 17th, 2019 06:04 am
thawrecka: (Coffee!)
[personal profile] thawrecka
(Contemporary romance)
Pretty Face by Lucy Parker
British theatre romance. I read the first in this series and was charmed by it. This was less successful for me, largely because it was exploring a dynamic I'm not as interested in. The characters are likeable, which is good as there's a lot of them, and it has wit and charm. It's certainly not bad. It wasn't super my thing anyway, though.

New Worlds, Year Two by Marie Brennan
I imagine a lot of people are reading the essays week by week but I wanted to wait until they were all collected up like this so I could read them all at once. Just as interesting and delightful as the Year One volume, and gave me a lot to think about.

The Mabinogion translated by Jeffrey Gantz
A friend had a copy so I borrowed it from her. My favourite story is probably Math Son of Mathonwy because so much crazy stuff happens. I'd previously encountered bits of it - the brothers turned into three kinds of animals to breed with each other as punishment, the girl jumping over a broomstick and babies falling out, Gwydion fighting with Aranrhod over his nephew - but I didn't know they were all in the same story! My other favourite is The Dream of Rhonabwy, with its lovely contrast of the filth and disappointment of life with the surreality of the dream. I'm not sure whether the story I dislike the most is How Culhwch Won Olwen, which just keeps going and going and going and going, and is even more obnoxiously repetitive than the other stories, or Gereint and Enid, just because Gereint is a total dick.

(Literary criticism)
New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction: Critical Essays edited by Sarah S G Frantz and Eric Murphy Selinger
It took me so many months to read this that I can't remember most of the essays any more. Some of them were a load of wank and some didn't really feel that academically rigorous, but there was decent variety and it wasn't limited to boring stale questions like 'is romance fiction sexist or feminist???' Published in 2012 so the essays that mentioned LGBTQ+ characters in romance fiction felt the most dated, not least because people other than Suzanne Brockmann write m/m now, and the essays about SBTB also felt dated because the internet and blogging have changed substantially over the last seven years.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
I hadn't read it since childhood, and as you'd expect of a middle grade book, it's really not as magical and exciting through adult eyes. The Magician's Nephew was always my actual favourite, granted, but this seems weirdly diminished; I did, however, realise that I'd forgotten that touch of Aslan telling them to wipe the blood off their swords, which I always liked. As for the rest, the religious stuff - which is nearly all of it given the son of Adam and daughter of Eve stuff, the mingled terror and awe people feel looking at Aslan, the resurrection on the stone table, the white witch being a descend of Lilith, etc - is not just more obvious to me but also much less enjoyable now than when I was a kid. I have no connection to Christian stuff, sorry. Nor am I particularly horrified by it? It's obviously the point of the story that it be a Christian fable.

I realise I have approximately zero percent of the feelings about portal fantasy everyone else has, which is weird as I'm technically writing one. I can't say I read this and want to live in Narnia at all. The real world has cartoons and pizza delivery, you know, so as far as I'm concerned it's superior.

DNF - The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden - I thought this was going to be woman-focused fantasy with tons of magic, a la Uprooted, but I got 100 pages in and (A) there wasn't nearly as much magic as I'd wanted and (B) it was way more dude heavy than I wanted. Much as I was vaguely intrigued by Sasha's homoerotic yearning for the monk, the rest left me fairly cold. I couldn't stand Pyotr (yo, maybe if your new young wife is crying every time you bone, you should think about why), I'm not really interested in vague politicking in historical Russia tbqh, and spoilers tell me it later turns into a wicked stepmother thing which is... fine, honestly, because I hate my stepmother, but at least make the story focus on the female characters if you're going to do that, maybe. I passed it off to my aunt to see if she'll like it any more than I did.

Writing guides read: Forensics for Fiction: Crime Scenes by Geoff Symon - US focused but still full of tons of things that will be helpful for me if I ever finish a story with a CRIME!!! I especially like the way he detailed bad evidence handling and faulty police work in two famous cases to show how these things can go wrong. Recipe for Outlining by Megan Barnhard - I should read this through again, because there's some tips on how to brain storm/outline more extensively/expand to draft that I think will help my process.

Gene Wolfe, 1931-2019

Apr. 16th, 2019 09:57 am
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
What struck me on the beach–and it struck me indeed, so that I staggered as at a blow–was that if the Eternal Principle had rested in that curved thorn I had carried about my neck across so many leagues, and if it now rested in the new thorn (perhaps the same thorn) I had only now put there, then it might rest in everything, in every thorn in every bush, in every drop of water in the sea. The thorn was a sacred Claw because all thorns were sacred Claws; the sand in my boots was sacred sand because it came from a beach of sacred sand. The cenobites treasured up the relics of the sannyasins because the sannyasins had approached the Pancreator. But everything had approached and even touched the Pancreator, because everything had dropped from his hand. Everything was a relic. All the world was a relic. I drew off my boots, that had traveled with me so far, and threw them into the waves that I might not walk shod on holy ground.

- Gene Wolfe, The Claw of the Conciliator

bad fucking day

Apr. 15th, 2019 11:19 pm
rushthatspeaks: (our lady of the sorrows)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
When I went to Paris, the first thing I remember is exhaustion, as we had taken the sleeper train over the Alps from Italy, an experience which is a strange combination of fascination (what does this little built-in lever next to the window do?) and deep physical discomfort (despite sincere efforts on the part of the railway to alleviate it). I got the kind of sleep where you do sleep, but you don't feel as though you did and might feel better if you hadn't. It was cold as soon as we stepped out of the train station, too, the kind of biting, bitter cold where you stifle in a scarf but wonder sincerely about a third pair of socks. Cold that sinks into the bones, bypassing the skin and going directly for prognostications of doom. And the light was cloudy, grey-pink-yellow, early light: and it was Christmas morning.

Not much is open in Paris on Christmas but the churches.

There was Mass going on in Notre-Dame-de-Paris, of course, but cathedrals don't mind people drifting in and out and looking at things during Mass, as long as they are quiet about it. And the Middle Ages came to life for me in a very specific way, which they never had before, not as a result of sight, or sound, or even smell, but because Notre Dame has never had any sort of heating put into it, no pipes, no space heaters, no under-floor anything.

Which is because it didn't need it. When the church was filled with a sufficient number of people, it attained the perfect air temperature all by itself, from body heat.

And I mean perfect. It was the only time, in Paris, that entire trip, that my feet were ever actually okay. It gives you a visceral sense of fellowship, that atmosphere, the knowledge that you are literally being warmed by strangers, whom you in turn keep warm. Think of that, in the bitter winters of the Little Ice Age, and every year, until this year.

Oh, I know they will rebuild it. Fire happens to cathedrals, and they have this one mapped to the quarter-inch. The world's experts will put it back together, and there will be signs and exhibits about the fire, and everyone will marvel at how good the restoration was; in ten years, or twenty-five, that will be the story.

And yet--

My memories of Gene Wolfe are not personal ones, though I walked by him in the hallways at Readercon, and saw him on a panel or two. I mean, I think of him every time I bite into a Pringle. But the memory I have that I think says the most about what Gene Wolfe means, to others and to me, is a public one which didn't involve him, as such, at all.

I walked through Harvard Square one time, and one of the panhandlers had propped his sign on his cap and taken a break from actually panhandling. He appeared to be about a third of the way through The Claw of the Conciliator and he was oblivious to the outer universe. I left all the cash in my wallet in his hat, quietly, as I did not want to interrupt him.

While I was walking away, I realized that I had reacted to him with exactly the same sort of thrill that I have for a really good busker. Here was someone doing something virtuoso, in collaboration with both a specific artist and a deep body of general knowledge, and doing that thing in public, and doing it well, and with evident pleasure in it. And I was glad to see it done, because that should exist in the world.

I realize that could certainly happen again this year, or anytime, or never, and doesn't depend on Gene Wolfe as a living human being.

And yet--

Winterdance, by Gary Paulsen

Apr. 15th, 2019 02:40 pm
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Gary Paulsen, best-known for Hatchet, was also once possibly the worst-prepared person ever to enter the Iditarod. I don’t know if/how much this book is exaggerated, but I would not have believed he survived if he hadn’t written it himself.

His wife throws him out of bed after a close encounter with a skunk and he goes and sleeps with the dogs, he falls off multiple cliffs and gets dragged on his face and slammed into trees, builds a makeshift sled the likes of which has to be read for yourself, and acquires the aptly named Devil, a sled dog who bites him hard enough to draw blood every. Single. Time. Paulsen goes near him. I suspect someone unloaded Devil on the rube.

Paulsen’s memoir is often hilarious, very gripping, a beautiful account of pushing oneself to the absolute limit and simultaneously loving it while suffering an incredible amount, an ode to the natural beauty of Alaska, and a love letter to dogs and a completely serious account of how he felt that he more-or-less became one himself.

Warning: two dogs die during the story, neither of them his but both deaths are pretty brutal. Also, the ending takes an unexpected swerve into what in context is utterly tragic (no dog death), so much so that I immediately looked him up to see if it was really as final an ending as it seemed. (It wasn't, quite.) Read more... )

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod

(no subject)

Apr. 14th, 2019 04:53 pm
soc_puppet: A red heart with a humanoid tentacle monster to the left and a stick-figure to the right (Tentacle monster ♥ human)
[personal profile] soc_puppet
Current (non-fic) writing project:

Socchan's School of Writing: How to Smut

I've shared the very most tip-of-the-iceberg basics with some folks before, but apparently it's high time I went into more depth on the subject.

The post in question probably definitely won't get finished today, as I am Le Tired (it's been A Long Day almost all week), but I am working on it.

It is slated to have a number of potentially embarrassing confessions in it, which I am sharing in entirely good humor and with the intent of embracing my foibles and sharing my smut writing journey. I have written some good smut, if I do say so myself, but there was absolutely a time when I didn't know what the hell I was doing. While I managed to not actually write any sex scenes until I had at least a little bit of an idea what was what (to which I can only credit Fear Of Failure), I am absolutely prepared to share how little I once knew in addition to what I know now. Hopefully, the knowledge that I am looking back on these incidents with more amusement than horror will help anyone else with embarrassment squick problems, but uh. I'll figure something out if it doesn't ._.a

2 netflix comedies

Apr. 14th, 2019 05:12 pm
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] sasha_feather posting in [community profile] access_fandom
I wrote about "Shrill" and "Special", two comedies on Netflix. Special features a gay man with Cerebral Palsy, who is actually played by someone who is gay and has CP.

rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Max, an eight-year-old boy, moves with his family to a new home in Yorkshire. There he discovers twelve old wooden soldiers who come to life when he unpacks them. They all have distinct personalities, plus a history and myths.

Max soon realizes that they are the twelve toy soldiers that the Bronte children played with and wrote about, and whom the soldiers call the Genii: their protectors and Gods. Max and, eventually, his sister Jane become the soldiers' new Genii. But due to the Bronte collection, the soldiers are sought after by collectors and historians...

My favorite thing, an old-school British children's fantasy, with all my favorite virtues of the genre: a strong sense of place, precise prose, vivid images, an unsentimental view of childhood, and small-scale and very magical-feeling magic.

This one captures the childhood feeling of a very small world with very small people in it; you indignantly protest to adults that you're not "playing" with your dolls or animals, because to you "play" means games and silliness, when what you're doing with them is inhabiting and playing out serious dramas in a very real world on a miniature scale. In The Twelve and the Genii, Max comes to realize for the first time that stories don't just exist, they are created: the Brontes created their stories, the soldiers created their own, and Max can create his. Moreover, making stories actually alters reality, whether by literally bringing things to life, making myths that didn't exist before, or making a new life or fame for a writer.

This feels like a classic, halfway between The Borrowers and The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and I’m not sure why it isn’t one. The Claw, I suppose. (I can't find the link, but it's the idea that why one thing takes off when other, similar ones don't is essentially like the claw in the arcade game that comes down and grabs one toy from a giant pile of similar toys.)

The Twelve and the Genii

rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
and I absolutely do not want it to seem if if I am treating its subject as if they were there for my entertainment, because holy hell no:

The Guardian: 'I am not here to entertain': meet Thailand's first transgender MP

a) Tanwarin Sukkhapisit is a badass and must also be one of the world's first non-binary MPs, if not the first. Also their films sound really interesting. This whole story is awesome.

b) The irredeemably shallow bit: LOOK AT THAT PHOTO, OMFG. Novel cover/movie poster, y/y/? To steal a phrase: they have strong Protagonist Energy. THIS IS THE FACE OF YOUR NON-BINARY HERO, READY TO TAKE ON ARMIES/GALAXIES. Write this novel plz okay.

2019 has been a headache

Apr. 14th, 2019 08:45 am
mommy: Saruman; Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy (We shall rule this Middle-Earth!)
[personal profile] mommy
2019 has been a particularly expensive year for me so far. First, January had the emergency trip to the veterinarian, surgery for my cat two weeks later, and the specialty cat food that she'll be eating for the rest of her life. Then February had two separate car problems. March had me needing to buy a new computer. That's nearly $2,000 USD of unexpected expenses over the course of three months, and I'm fortunate enough that I was able to cover it. It could have been much worse. I'm just hoping that I'm done with financial surprises for the year.

In related news, my cat has recovered from her horrible trips to the vet, and is now begging for dinner at nine in the morning. She has excellent priorities.

Cake Feeder Afternoon

Apr. 13th, 2019 11:00 pm
rain_gryphon: (Default)
[personal profile] rain_gryphon posting in [community profile] common_nature
This afternoon at the cake feeder:

Common Starling

A male starling (you can tell by the corners of the beak - boys are blue, girls are pink - seriously) attacks the cake feeder. I think he's pretty young, firstly because he's still got a lot of brown in his plumage (mature males have a beautiful 'oil on water' sheen to them), but also because he's clearly not had a lot of experience perching on a feeder as he eats. He was flapping and making the feeder bang around the entire time, until he finally managed to get some cake.
Read more... )

Guess which cat did a runner today?

Apr. 13th, 2019 06:26 pm
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Bloody Alex knocked out the screen and apparently climbed out the TOP of the same window Erin escaped from the other day. Both had like two inches clearance both times so I'm still not sure how they did it.

I've had both cats over a year and they both escape for the first time this week, when I'm not weight bearing on a boot and it's incredibly hot if I close all windows. Frat boy neighbor helped retrieve him.

Neither seemed to enjoy their escape but windows are going to be closed unless I'm in the room from now on.

(no subject)

Apr. 13th, 2019 10:56 am
rushthatspeaks: (the unforgiving sun)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
Lucien went this morning. We called the vet in; it was clearly time; he was breathing very badly, with a wheeze in it.

The last thing he did before the vet came was to go over and take a few nonchalant, expressive bites of his brother's cat food. Actually eating it was not, of course, the point-- he stopped actually eating sometime yesterday.

I think he went peacefully. It looked peaceful.
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