two books, neither alike in dignity

Jun. 26th, 2017 10:42 pm
metaphortunate: (Default)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
It's book talking time!

Coincidentally, I have recently read two separate books about French spy-courtesans in the 1920s 19th century. One was Alexander Chee's The Queen of the Night. The other - well, I call it a book, but it is an incomplete series, by Jo Graham, beginning with The General's Mistress and continuing in The Emperor's Agent and The Marshal's Lover.

Alexander Chee, award-winning author, is interviewed about TQOTN in Vogue and reviewed in the New York Times. Jo Graham is interviewed about her books in Amazing Stories and reviewed on, well, Goodreads. There is a great difference in the height at which your brow is meant to sit while reading these books.

Which just goes to show why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

The Queen of the Night is rapey-er than Game of Thrones, and you will not collect that from reading any of those interviews or reviews, but holy shit, it's grim and unrelenting. There is a lot of sex in this book - never let anyone tell you that Serious Authors don't write sex. What Serious Authors don't write is enjoyable sex, because that has the filthy female whiff of romance about it, and Chee will have nothing to do with that trap: enjoy 561 pages of bleak fucking, at best survival sex, at worst violent rape. But it's described like opera! So, you know: it's Art.

Whereas if on the other hand you like slumming, you could read a page-turner of a picaresque sex-and-war-and mysticism perspective on the Napoleonic Wars that is super, super interesting for someone who has tended to read about it from the English perspective! It reminds me very much of that Roger Ebert quote that's been floating around Twitter:
There's a learning process that moviegoers go through. They begin in childhood without sophistication or much taste, and for example, like "Gamera'' more than "Air Force One" because flying turtles are obviously more entertaining than United States presidents. Then they grow older and develop "taste,'' and prefer "Air Force One," which is better made and has big stars and a more plausible plot. (Isn't it more believable, after all, that a president could single-handedly wipe out a planeload of terrorists than that a giant turtle could spit gobs of flame?) Then, if they continue to grow older and wiser, they complete the circle and return to "Gamera'' again, realizing that while both movies are preposterous, the turtle movie has the charm of utter goofiness--and, in an age of flawless special effects, it is somehow more fun to watch flawed ones.
Both books are preposterous. But Jo Graham's books are cheerfully preposterous, with love at first sight being based on mystical reincarnation through the ages and a vow between Cleopatra's handmaidens or some such thing; and Alexander Chee's characters blankly drift through the ludicrous motions of a musicless opera plot because, as The Worst Bestsellers likes to say about characters in books like these, they are lizard people. Human motivations and actions are foreign to them! They hatched from eggs and now they are wearing human skin suits and that's why the author acts like their entirely, artificially plot-motivated behavior is normal and requires no explanation. It is normal, for lizards!

Whereas Jo Graham's books involve people having difficult but ultimately productive conversations about ambition and infidelity and polyamory - they don't have that vocabulary, but the ideas are definitely there - and people who aren't entirely good or bad, and an enby protagonist, and conflicted feelings about children, and the fear of aging and death, and politics that are rooted in the deep personal urge for freedom, and yes - magic, and sex, and fun! I got the third one as part of a StoryBundle, which was annoying as it spoiled the first two, obviously! But the moment I finished it I bought the other two anyway. Spoilers don't matter that much - they're not mystery novels, if you're writing about the Napoleonic Wars the interest of your story had better not depend on the reader not knowing how things turn out. The Queen of the Night I got from the library, and I tried to finish it, I really did. It just wasn't giving me anything to work with. It is the kind of book where spoilers matter - my loan of it ran out before I made it to the end, and I placed a hold on it to check it out again just because I did, honestly, want to know the answer to the mystery. But when my hold on it came due, I admitted that I did not want to know enough to drag myself through to the end of a very, very, very boring book, and I never checked it out the second time.

And, incidentally, between the grim, boring, rapey book, and the picaresque, sexy, fun book? The fun book is the one that's based on a real historical person. Maria Versfelt was a Dutch adventure star, as she is delightfully described in that Dutch website (thanks Google Translate), and her published memoirs are the basis for Graham's books. I think the reincarnation thing is invention, though.

no totoro

Jun. 26th, 2017 08:35 pm
sasha_feather: horses grazing on a hill with thunderheads (horses and lightning)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
Jesse and I went to go see "My Neighbor Totoro" at the theater. We get there and it's very nearly sold out; we get the last two tickets that someone was refunding. Neither of us are quite trained into the new system where you are supposed to always buy your tickets ahead of time, having lived our whole lives as spontaneous movie-goers.

I get some snacks and we settle into our seats. The movie starts, the cute song and the little girl walking. Soon we realize, we are seeing the Japanese version with no subtitles. Someone alerts the staff and the movie plays on. I'm happy to watch it this way-- the story is very simple and to me, not understanding the words only plays into the dream-like quality of Miyazaki movies. But not long into it, the movie pauses and the manager comes in, to apologize. He says that they got the wrong version, and they will be playing the English dubbed version. Some people in the audience object. My friend a row below us calls out for people to clap if they want the dubbed version vs. if they want the Japanese version. It's about evenly split.

Well, they must have decided to do the dubbed version because they stopped the film. We decided to leave and get our refund.

Anyways, that is our Totoro story!

In Memoriam

Jun. 26th, 2017 04:48 pm
onyxlynx: Some trees and a fountain at a cemetery (A Fine and Private Place)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
All New York Times obits.

Selected Shorts

Jun. 25th, 2017 03:15 pm
onyxlynx: Five bells, large drum, and a gong at Chapel of the Chimes (heh) Solstice fest. (Sounding brass)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
So skippy the bush kangaroo linked to an article by Kelefa Sanneh in The New Yorker titled "The Persistence of Prog Rock," which although it doesn't mention it, is probably springboarding off the deaths of Keith Emerson and Greg Lake last year.

Apparently I wasn't supposed to like prog rock (puts on "Karn Evil 9," ha.) Also, I was amused after a fashion that though the Mellotron was mentioned twice, the Moody Blues (Days of Future Past, To Our Childrens Childrens Children et al.?) had been disappeared from the narrative. They're still touring last time I looked.

I do wish that people who would still be listening to Patti Page and singing along with Mitch Miller if not for rhythm, blues, jazz, and rock 'n' roll stop trying to claim rock 'n' roll as theirs.

Quick update

Jun. 24th, 2017 10:50 am
serene: mailbox (Default)
[personal profile] serene
My sister died yesterday, a few minutes after Munchkin The Elder left to pick up his father from the doctor. She died while being given CPR, which strikes me as a violent kind of way to go, but she had been unconscious for hours at the time, so I doubt she felt anything.

Today, James and I will go to the hospital to fetch her belongings. Monday, the social worker will contact me about arrangements for her disposition.

The kids are fine. James and I are fine. My mom is alternately fine and wrecked, which will probably be the way of things for a while.

We lost her a long, long time ago. There's some finality in the past day's events, but not much has changed.

Munchkin the Younger came up yesterday to check in, to tell me that I am her real mother, and to get comfort in talking to someone who understands not having any emotion left for the person we lost all those years ago.

I'm sorry there was no way for us to reach her. I'm sorry her life was sad and hard, and that she caused so much damage in our family.

My sister

Jun. 23rd, 2017 01:18 pm
serene: serene (ooh)
[personal profile] serene
If you and I are close, you probably remember first hearing about my sister and being kind of surprised that my feelings for her range from deep apathy (almost all the time) to raging anger/hatred (during any of the crises in my family that she caused or precipitated over the years). Mostly, once the kids I helped raise were 18, she hasn't affected my life in any direct, practical way, but her fingers are in most of the shitty turns my family's lives have taken, for as long as I can remember.

She's in ICU right now, unlikely to regain consciousness, unlikely to live out this day, and I'm sorry that she had such a mean, small, painful life, but I'm not at all sorry that she'll be gone, because it's hard to cause fresh hurt and injury once you've died. Not impossible, but hard.

I'll go with my mom this evening so she can say good-bye. For myself, I don't find it necessary; Barbara's been out of my life since my kid turned 18 (gosh, almost 8 years ago), and for the last couple years, she was in prison, so there's nothing to say good-bye to. For my mom, this is so so so fraught. She blames herself for my sister's mental illness, dissipation, and alienation. She feels like if she'd been a better mother, it would have gone better.

Honestly, my mom was a better mother to my sister than to me -- children who act up often get more attention and effort than the compliant, goody-two-shoes ones. I haven't made any secret of my sorrow over my mother's mistakes in parenting, but they're not the reason my sister is who she is. Not saying none of it was ever a factor. Just that picking one person as the cause of another's bad deeds is pretty much never the way to bet.

Anyway, I'm totally fine, emotionally. I'm just feeling pensive about the ripple effects we all have on the people in our circles, even years after we have any contact at all, and I'm feeling a renewed desire to be a positive force in my loved one's lives, instead of a negative one.

why are women always tripping and

Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:52 am
the_future_modernes: (Default)
[personal profile] the_future_modernes
falling down in anime all the time?  Also I am SICK of the dead woman love interest trope in all of media. I would honestly like to ban that shit for the next 540 years.

Also, was trying to watch Star Trek Beyond and why is Kirk so fucking TERRIBLE at negotiation? Is he or is he not supposed to have been tops in all his subjects? So why was he so sarcastic and impatient and lacking in empathy? Why was the entire negotiation scene played for jokes? Star Trek is SUPPOSED to be about diplomacy  as well as fighting, these motherfuckers can only focus on action? Frankly I wouldn't want to live anywhere near the Federation, they are clearly the same shitheads that militaries today are. Which was not quite the intention of the original. This medicore ass, fratboy ass white imperialistic ass fuckwittery tho. Its so frustrating when the fanfic IS SO MUCH BETTER than the shit these so called professionals GET PAID FOR.

Finally watching Cowboy Bebop. SO GOOD. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the architecture of the world, the gates are BADASS and the diversity of the characters?! There are darskinned folk up in there! And I love the fact that they are having adventures but it aint about war. I am so SICK of war. I feel like describing war as action adventure is erasure. War isn't adventure. Not by a long shot.
One thing about it that I didnt like was the story line about terrorist environmentalists. Made me annoyed because I feel like I keep seeing movies in which environmentalists are set up as cuckoo terrorists who go too far. Considering teh fact that coporations and their captive govts are responsible for the current destruction of the planet for human habitation ... says a lot about the ideologies of the ruling class. More environmentalists as heroes I say. And more corporations as the destructive moneygrubbing villians that they are. Speaking of, I need several articles that look into the specifics of corporate welfare.  The drumbeat of lazy mooching poor continues unabated while corporations make billions more than in tax dollars the poor ever manage to but have their misdeeds cozily hidden by our fourth estate. Then again corporations own the fourth estate.  Apparently folk are going to have to learn up close and personal AGAIN that monopolies are bad for us. Hoo-fucking-ray. 

I would like to seee a movie in which a James Bond type or platoon of them come in to fuck up a government in a POC majority country and the heroes are the security forces of said countries  who repel the invaders and embarass the shit out of the colonizing country.  Actually I would like to see several movies about this.

I need to write more. I am brimming with ideas but the resilency to sit down and write is lacking. Because I keep getting hung up on the fact that what sounds great in my head doesnt come out as such on paper. *sigh*

fatalism o' the day

Jun. 23rd, 2017 06:30 am
metaphortunate: (Default)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
I am not good at political predictions. And I hope I'm wrong about this. But I don't see how we can keep the ACA.

I mean, this is why Republicans have been swallowing Trump's shit, right? For the Supreme Court seats and the right to pass this enormous tax cut? Isn't this what they sold the republic for? If they don't pass it now, wouldn't that require them to decide to have given it all up for nothing? Wouldn't they be taking a huge personal hit to their own opinion of themselves, not to mention their own taxes, and their own donors, for no other reason than to help millions of people they've never personally met and would probably not like if they did meet? Humans are not super good at doing that kind of thing; the richer the worse, the more powerful the worse, and I just don't really see how I can expect these particular rich old powerful motherfuckers to transcend the limitations of their species at this moment in time.

bingo card meme

Jun. 22nd, 2017 02:11 pm
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
Personal bingo meme that people are playing on Twitter and elsewhere!

You can google "bingo card generator" and fill one out with your interests. Then you can use a photo editor to check off interests that you have too.

My card is also at Flickr:
https://flic.kr/p/VL1xcd

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 2.37.46 PM

transcription )

(no subject)

Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:41 am
jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
Have stayed at completely different places in the last three days: Corral Creek Cabins was in the mountains right by Kern River, then Sequoia Riverfront Cabins was a weird place which WAS right by a river, not across the road from one, and its front desk was a general store about a mile away, and now in a beachfront resort in San Simeon. My brother has been driving us a lot. We've been radio-surfing a lot.

Tomorrow we'll head to Santa Cruz, and hit up Monterey on the way, and after a couple of nights in Santa Cruz, we'll go to San Francisco.

I'm really liking the beachfront place. The front office gave us two rooms, one with a view of the ocean downstairs, and one upstairs with a fireplace. And I snagged the downstairs immediately because I wanted to work at a desk with a view of the sea. It's not been working, of course, because I spent most of the evening texting with A instead of working. But hope spring eternal?? We don't have to check out until noon anyway.

"In over my head"

Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:15 am
rosefox: Steven's three guardians all ruffle his hair together as he grins (parenting)
[personal profile] rosefox
Dear fellow caregivers for toddlers: I would love advice on two distinct things.

1) What makes a good potty? The number of variations is overwhelming. We want something pretty simple, I think: looks like a toilet, no branded characters, doesn't play music, sits on the floor, is basically a bucket with a seat. In the more distant future we'll need one that folds up or goes over the toilet seat or something, for when we're on the road, but right now this is just for Kit to examine and contemplate and get used to the idea of.

2) Like most 18-month-olds, Kit is full of energy. Unlike most 18-month-olds, Kit can barely walk unassisted and can't run or jump. They've only just started climbing around on the most low-level playground equipment and are very uncertain; they can get up five steps to the top of the baby slide but haven't yet sorted out how to slide down it. When they can't burn off all that energy, they get very agitated and fussy. How do we help them get something like vigorous exercise on the weekends? So far my only idea is to take their walker wagon to the park so they can toddle along at a fairly fast clip for longer distances than our apartment allows—there's a good smoothly paved straightaway there—but that's a pain because the sidewalk between here and there is very uneven and narrow, so I'd have to figure out some way to carry the (heavy, bulky, non-folding) wagon while pushing Kit in the stroller, and that may surpass my own physical limitations. Maybe a lightweight folding medical-style walker? Is that a ridiculous expense for a kid who probably won't need it anymore by the end of the summer? And what do we do when it's not park weather? The nearest real play space for kids is the Brooklyn Children's Museum and it's kind of a haul from here—two buses, and you have to fold the stroller on the bus. They can only crawl around our apartment for so long.

EDIT: We did have a great dance party to the B-52s on Sunday—their pure sincerity is a perfect match for toddler sincerity, plus a good beat—so I should remember that's an option for indoor days. Friends on Twitter and elsewhere also suggested walking while holding Kit's hands/arms; playing follow-the-leader movement games ("Stretch WAAAAAY up high! Now bend WAAAAAY down low!") or doing movement to songs; setting up a tumbling mat and big foam blocks to climb on if we can get some that fit Kit's room (need to measure the open floor space); getting a cheap flimsy lightweight doll stroller to use as a walker in the park.

I'd really appreciate any suggestions on either or both fronts!

Fads of youth

Jun. 21st, 2017 09:25 am
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I was thinking last night of fads. In the 70s I had an official "Pet Rock" which I loved. The manual on care and training of Pet Rocks was very amusingly written (at least to my 7 year old mind). Pet Rocks were particularly great at learning to "stay" and "play dead". It came in a little carton full of straw with the manual and I think, a leash.

My dad was a good model for how to gently enjoy human absurdity and I remember him being super entertained by the pet rock and playing along with it super well.

Birthday greetings and felicitations

Jun. 19th, 2017 10:32 am
onyxlynx: Festive pennants in blue & purple with word "Birthday" centered. (Birthday)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
to [personal profile] waywardcats ! Hope the heat isn't cramping your (or the cats') style too much!  Stay hydrated!

Heat regulation

Jun. 18th, 2017 07:36 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
First super super hot day here. If tomorrow will be like this I need to find the fan in the garage.

I just shaved about a pound of side hair off (it is thick) and have put it in the worm bin. Good compost aeration! And, felt happy I had cleaned and organized the closet weeks ago as I easily found my little box of house dresses.

I'm wearing this amazing reversible soft linen sleeveless dress, with a pocket for my handkerchief, that I got from Flax on skud's recommendation a few years ago (converting me fervently to linen) And my hair has been up in a top of the head ponytail all day (now much more effective with the side hair shaved off.) I think of skud affectionately whenever I wear this amazing dress (maroon on one side and lavender on the other). The pocket handkerchief is daintily printed with violets. I ironed it the other day, as I enjoy doing.

Now you know everything. All my secrets. Dresses, ironing, and the fact that I have that chicken yodeling song stuck in my head.

Hippo, Birdie, Two Ewes

Jun. 18th, 2017 02:36 pm
onyxlynx: Image: The four Beatles with a scarf changing color around their necks. (Beatles icon)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
Sir Paul McCartney hits the big seven-five today. Heh.

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