jazzfish: a fairy-door in a tree, caption $900/MONTH + UTILITIES (The Vancouver rental market)
A few weeks ago we saw a place that we liked enough to put in a bid on. Sadly, we got outbid: foiled by the selling agent's utter apathy and incompetence, which caught our agent Rhonda by surprise. (A sample: when you're selling a condo there are certain documents you're supposed to have available, such as strata bylaws, council minutes, a depreciation report if one exists, a list of recent or upcoming major work on the building, that kind of thing. Dude had none of those, and in fact said to Rhonda "hey... i see you bought a unit in this building earlier this year, so you must have copies of the strata documents, can i have those?") I'm still a little bitter about that but mostly over it. The bylaws technically only allowed for one cat, and it looked out over an occasionally busy street so noise would have still been an issue. Oh well.

Earlier this week I walked the couple of blocks from work to take a look at another unit. It was ... questionable on the inside: awful paint and wallpaper, some old water damage, and carpet and applicances that look like they went in with the building thirty years ago. (The microwave over the stove has big clicky pushbuttons and no turntable.) I liked the layout, though, and the roof deck, and the fact that it cut my commute by an order of magnitude.

Last night [personal profile] uilos and Rhonda and I went out for a closer look. Rhonda pointed out a number of things that basically amount to "this is a fantastic investment property": the roof deck has a great view of downtown and the mountains, the location is spectacular and will only get better in 5-10 years when the Broadway skytrain line comes in, and the cosmetic damage can be dealt with for substantially less than the likely appreciation value of the property. They both noted some additional hopefully-old-and-only-cosmetic damage. [personal profile] uilos also pointed out the lack of storage space, and the tininess of the kitchen, which I had missed in my amazement at the thirty-year-old appliances.

[personal profile] uilos was understandably not thrilled with the prospect of having to do, or pay someone to do, an awful lot of work on the place. I wasn't happy with that myself, but the fact that the layout worked so well, together with the commute, meant I spent much of the evening trying to talk her into it. We went round a bit, and realised that the strata claimed to have a gas line running to it so the useless wood fireplace could probably be retrofitted to gas after all, and decided to sleep on it.

This morning she said "I've been thinking about it and I can make everything work except the kitchen. There's no possible way to get enough space in there."

I thought about it for a few seconds and said "Crap. You're right."

The unit's a townhouse, which as near as I can tell is Canadian for "apartment with stairs." The floorplan shows two levels but each of those is cut in half by a three- or four-step flight. One of these semi-levels consists of the kitchen, dining room, and balcony. There's no way to make the kitchen any bigger without cutting into the middle of the dining room, and there's no way to get additional counterspace or cabinet-space or pantry-space without embiggening the kitchen.

It is, I am telling myself, just as well. I'd really rather not spend down my entire retirement savings to date on making my house livable, and I'm not 100% sold on the area. And in spite of the cosmetic damage we'd almost certainly get outbid anyway.

Be nice to not have to look at places anymore, though.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Last month we put Chaos the old white cat on a small dose of gabapentin. In people this is an anti-anxiety med. I'm told it doesn't actually numb the pain in his back legs, but it makes him care less about it. He's definitely up and moving a lot more and may be getting some muscle mass in his hips again, which would be good. He's also feeling enough better to insist on LAP TIME anytime anyone is home, and to occasionally take out his frustrations on Kai the little brown cat. (Kai is also old but not really showing it, except for how her "dilute-tortie" coat grows more dilute each year.)

I went down to Portland last weekend with Steph and Kat A--, to see / meet a handful of west-coast VP folk. It was good to just hang out with some pretty decent new people for awhile, and talk shop or books or cats or whatever.

We stopped at Powell's on the way back, which was of course amazing. I somehow got out with only $50 in books. That could easily have quadrupled or more if I'd had the chance to see more than two-ish of their five floors. Definitely going back at some point.

And the sun had come out, and Kat's car is a zippy BMW convertible, so we put the top down for the trip home and I sunburnt my scalp. Worth it, though. I'm beginning to come 'round on road-trips, at least ones with good company and frequent short stops.

House-hunting eats up a stupid amount of time and brainpower. There are just enough maybes on the market that I keep checking online to see if anything new has come up, and going out to look at the possibles, and being mildly (at best) disappointed. All this takes time and makes it hard to schedule things for evenings and weekends. Bleh.

Two open houses tonight. Perhaps one of them will work out. If nothing else November and December are likely to be dead times, and then it'll kick back into gear come spring.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Luke Scott (dir), Morgan

Hanna crossed with Blade Runner, with the atmosphere of Alien. Those latter two shouldn't come as a surprise for the first film from Luke "Son of Ridley" Scott. I wouldn't call it a horror movie but I wouldn't necessarily disagree with someone who did.

The plot revolves around a bunch of scientists who've created an artificial young female human named Morgan. Morgan has poor impulse control and nonstandard thought processes. Lee has come from "corporate" to visit the remote lab and decide whether the Morgan project should continue. As you might expect, Things Go Poorly.

I liked it pretty well. I found Morgan's disconcerting affect and Lee's iron-clad control entirely believable. The setting (Northern Ireland playing upstate New York) is gorgeously green and foggy, and adds to the melancholy-ominous atmosphere. The only character who does something unforgivably stupid (psychiatrist Paul Giamatti) is established immediately as a pompous idiot; everyone else's stupid decisions are justifiable.

Here there be spoilers )

Also, a strong Bechdel pass. In fact, I believe it may fail the reverse-Bechdel, as I don't think there are ever any conversations between two male characters that aren't about a woman.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Ken MacLeod, The Restoration Game

I've read two novels by Jon Courtenay Grimwood: Stamping Butterflies and, um, End Of The World Blues. I remember very little about Stamping Butterflies except that I enjoyed the writing and that at the end it pulled the "universe reset" / "erase the fact that the story occurred" trick, which (it turns out) really, really irritates me. End Of The World Blues didn't do that; instead, it set up an intriguing premise and then used that premise mostly to illuminate a single character's life and growth in the way that more literary novels often do.

Verdict: Grimwood writes well and succeeds admirably in what he sets out to do, and that goal does not line up at all with what I want out of a book. To quote James Nicoll, I don't mind hidden depths but I insist that there be a surface. Or, in this case, that the surface be integral to the story that's being told.

I mention Grimwood because The Restoration Game does something similar to those two books, but it works for me. I think.

This is not a spoiler: the opening scene of the novel involves space-cops discovering that some jerk has set up a computer running a simulation of a universe and all the life in it, including the sentient life. Said sentient life are scientifically advanced enough to start bumping up against the limits of the universe's physics engine. Creating such a simulation is a horrific crime against those sentients-- but the space cops may have an idea of how to fix things. And then much of the rest of the novel is a contemporaryish (set in 2008, written in 2010) spy thriller revolving around something strange that's going on near the border of Russia and Georgia.

I like spy thrillers, so I was predisposed to like this... but I also like weird worldhopping near-future cyberpunk, and End Of The World Blues left me cold. That said, Restoration Game wisely doesn't try to do anything clever with its frame story except use it as a) the Macguffin and b) closure. It's a spy thriller that peters out to a weirdly philosophical resolution. It's not even deus ex machina (dea in machina, rather, the goddess entering into the machine) because nothing gets solved by the arrival of God, they just talk for awhile. It's just ... what it is.

It helps, I think, that Restoration Game explicitly acknowledges its setup from the start. You know, unless you aren't paying any attention at all, that the world is "just" a simulation, though that doesn't make it any less real to anyone involved. It doesn't come as a surprise when the curtain gets tugged away and then pulled down altogether. It feels more like a natural conclusion. Everything drawn together.

I've been chewing on the question of whether I liked it for the past three days. I think that's a good sign.

#vpxv + v

Aug. 30th, 2016 02:48 pm
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
The Viable Paradise twenty-year reunion occurs this October. It appears that there are still spots and hotel rooms available, at least for another twenty-four hours.

I suppose I ought to decide if I'm going.

  • A chance to see people that I've not seen in years, and miss.
  • I'm planning on going back east this fall anyway.
  • Autumnal Massachusetts.
  • I felt like me when I was at VP.
  • It costs money. This is more in the nature of an excuse than an actual con.
  • It takes time away from a potential Blacksburg trip. Meh. B'burg will still be there next year.
  • I might need my vacation time to pack/move. Ha. I mean, maybe, but planning around the Vancouver real estate market suddenly becoming a little more rational strikes me as a fool's game.
  • "So, what have you done writing-wise in the last five years?" "Well, for three years I was finishing up burning myself out, and then I spent a year mostly-recovering from that. And now I'm not sure but I might be burning out again. So, not much."
  • "Oh, and I haven't been able to expand/fix that story you said you liked, either. I did finish a couple of other stories, but I seem to have run out of markets for them to get rejected from."
Bah. The cons are all along the lines of being afraid of not being a Real Writer. Which is a real fear but probably not worth skipping the reunion.

Besides, maybe the impending need to have something to show off will push me to get somewhere with this %&$ novel.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Inspired by a post by [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving sometime last week:

How did y'all learn to read? Did you teach yourselves, or learn in school, or what?

I don't know how I learned to read. My parents (mother?) must have read picture books to me. I know that one day when I was three or four, I picked up Go Dog Go in the store and said "I want this one!" My mother said "Are you going to read it yourself?" Her tone implied that if I said no I wasn't getting the book, so of course I said "Yes." And I took it home and laid down on the floor and read it, and didn't realise what I'd done until I was through.

From there the next things I can recall reading were the Mr Men / Little Miss books, and then a Hardy Boys book (The Mystery of the Chinese Junk) that my great-Aunt Celia sent me, and then some Greek and Norse myths out of a collection on the landing, and then Tolkien, over four or five years and three houses. There must have been other things I read on my own in there, but they didn't really make an impression. I distinctly recall the bookcase on the landing, and I *think* that means it was in the townhouse in Leavenworth (first grade) rather than the house in Fairfax (second thru fourth grades).

And after Tolkien came other brightly-spined Darrell-K-Sweet-covered Del Rey paperbacks, and Pop Shackelford's copy of Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, leading in a more or less direct line to the well-adjusted young man I am today.
jazzfish: a whole bunch of the aliens from Toy Story (Aliens)
Today's xkcd is succint and, as far as I know, accurate.

It links through to an *actual* flowchart, more detailed but still ending up in the same place. Poking around that site brought me to Realities, which I'm mostly pointing out because it includes my favorite word so far this week, "meteorwrong."

That site also links to an explanation for "Did you see it fall? Then no", which is neat.

Here endeth the cool pop-sci for the morning.
jazzfish: A cartoon guy with his hands in the air saying "Woot." (Woot.)
I did that twenty-one-question list that's going around a few years back, during 2011's Three Weeks for Dreamwidth, so there's that.

I don't much care for weddings in general. I went to several in the first few years of the millennium. Each one made me more and more convinced that this wasn't a ritual I wanted anything to do with. Ours was about as low-key as possible while still involving other people, and I more or less expected that it would be the last one I would have to go to.

However. I like Ederlyn quite a lot, and she did bother to show up for our wedding (as the officiant, no less). I figured if she was going to go to the trouble of sending out invites months in advance, I could clean up a bit and make it down to wherever she was going to be.

Traffic down was ugly. The wedding took place in Long Beach WA, slightly closer to Portland than to Seattle. We hit Seattle rush-hour traffic (an hour to go ten miles, at one point), plus random slowdowns outside of Tacoma and Olympia, and then got stuck behind slow RVs on the two-lane state highway that ran for the last hour and a half of the drive. I fell over in the hotel once we got there and did not go out to be sociable on the beach.

I also didn't go out to be sociable on the beach because it was chilly and I didn't have a coat. I'd meant to have my not-very-formal blazer as part of my semi-fancy wedding clothes, but due to various low-grade stresses on the morning of, we managed to leave said semi-fancy wedding clothes draped over a kitchen chair. At least I got out of the house with my nice boots. And it wasn't a terribly formal affair in any case, and the next day I scraped up a halfway decent shirt and pair of slacks.

The hotel itself seemed to be half genuinely run-down beach hotel, and half catering to vacationing ironic-techies looking for the run-down beach hotel experience. Bare Edison bulbs everywhere, and uncarpeted floors, and murals painted directly on the walls. Also I think the mattress was a foam deal that may have been rather nice when it was new but had developed a clear slope to the sides.

The next day [personal profile] uilos and I wandered around the little beach town. We had decent roadside burritos and way too much ice cream. She bought a kite that's really a string of six diamond kites, and we walked back along the beach while she flew it/them.

And then it was wedding-time, and a few dozen of us sat in folding chairs on a beautiful windy cloudy beach and watched two very happy people share a public commitment. It was nearly nice enough to make me rethink my policy on weddings.

There followed a pleasant dinner, which I spent much of catching up with the WhaleHawk (Dr [livejournal.com profile] fuzzyamy, who I've not seen in longer than I can recall, and her partner, who I'd not met) and rather less with [personal profile] plumbob78 and Ashok and a few other people, and oh yeah incidentally the bride and groom on occasion. Talking with Amy wasn't quite the easy friendship that you get with people you know well and haven't seen in years... but it was close, and it was fun, and I hold out some hope that her prediction of "well, this is likely the last time we'll run into each other" won't come true. (To some extent I'm flooding DW/LJ this week in direct response to that conversation. I got to know Amy, and Ed for that matter, during Livejournal's heyday, and recapturing that sense of presence and intimacy would be nice.) (And yes, I'm aware that I'm part of the problem. I'm trying to comment more often on other people's stuff! For whatever reason that comes much less naturally to me.)

There was also dancing, in which I was fully intending to not participate, but what can you do when the first song is Shut Up And Dance?

The next day we got up and came home. We hit traffic outside of Tacoma again for no reason, but we stopped off and got Popeyes fried chicken for lunch (and dinner, and dinner the next day...), which was well worth it.

So, congratulations and best wishes to Ed and Geoff! I'm glad that I got to be a small part of your big day.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
When, twenty minutes before you were going to knock off anyway, you get a work email consisting of "There's a persistent odour of rotten eggs, so we're evacuating the building and calling the fire department, come back in an hour," it is clearly a Sign that I should stand up at my desk. I'm meeting [personal profile] uilos at 5:30 for dinner and movies anyway so this is just more time to amble slowly towards downtown.

I walked to the further transit station from work. Normally I would have continued on foot across the False Creek bridge but it's sunny and somewhere north of 25 ("80") degrees out, which is about the temp at which I start to melt. So I took the air-conditioned Skytrain across, intending to walk to the little park near the restaurant and theatre.

Aside: Emery Barnes Park is, I think, the thing that most exemplifies the Vancouver I fell in love with. It's a smallish (1x2 block) green space in the heart of downtown, surrounded by traffic on three sides. And it's got windy paths through grass, and trees making shade for benches, and playground equipment, and a water-feature / concrete creek running all down one of the long sides. It's designed well enough that there's very little road-noise, particularly if you're near the water, which I usually am. It is Good Urban Design. A year or so ago there was a movement to tear it up and build more generic condos, and if that had passed it might well have been enough to push me away from Vancouver altogether, because a Vancouver that will tear up its urban parks is not a Vancouver that I want anything to do with. (Insert generic rant here re Vision Vancouver, the local party currently in government, and their coziness with developers.)

I'm glad I took the Skytrain instead of walking, because there was a violinist playing "Air on the G String" as I came up from the station. I sat and listened to her for awhile, and dropped some cash in her case when I left, because I will pretty much always tip buskers that aren't using amplification and aren't terrible.

(I've been having this urge lately to reinvent myself as a musician. I think this is what they call a mid-life crisis.)

And now I am sitting across from the park enjoying a butterscotch-and-Butterfinger shake and writing this, because I miss writing (and reading) random-slice-of-life entries. Shortly I shall go out and sit next to the waterfall and read Le Guin until [personal profile] uilos gets here, and then we shall have dinner at Basil Pasta Bar and see a couple of movies at the Cinematheque, because these are also wonderful things about Vancouver.

Like the man sang, I can't complain but sometimes I still do.
jazzfish: Pig from "Pearls Before Swine" standing next to a Ball O'Splendid Isolation (Ball O'Splendid Isolation)
This is an old stupid story and I'm tired of living it:

At the age of twelve I'd been hearing for years that I could be anything I wanted to be, that I was smart enough to do anything at all. So I told my parents that I wanted to be a writer, and write F&SF novels.

My mother famously answered, "How are you going to put food on the table?"

Lesson learned: I could be anything I wanted to be as long as my parents were okay with it.

A stronger kid might have said "screw you guys" and kept writing anyway. I wasn't that kid: I still desperately needed my parents' approval, because being an army brat meant that I didn't have anyone else, at all. I spent the next N years trying to simultaneously fit my future into the box of Acceptable To My Parents, while making my present Acceptable To Me.

In hindsight, it's no wonder that I was depressed.

That's not the story I'm telling now but it's useful background. So, take it as told.

During my terrible terrible junior year of high school, my English teacher was Ms Bettie Stegall. I can only assume she didn't think much of me. I certainly didn't give her much reason to. My teenage rebellion mostly took the form of not showing up and not doing the work, and Ms Stegall's English class was not one where I could slide by. I got my shit sufficiently together to pass, somehow.

For senior year English we had a few choices. The only ones I can remember are AP Literature and Writing Seminar. Had I chosen AP Lit, I could have taken the English AP exam, and placed out of freshman English at Tech. (And likely not ever have read Borges, and my life would have been the poorer for it.) On the other hand, there was Writing Sem, advertised as being meant for creative writers.

The point of the old story above: I never gave up wanting to be a writer. I just gave up on doing much about it, because no one cared.

I signed up for Writing Sem in the hope that it would make me into a writer. Ms Stegall taught Writing Sem; I took it anyway. I don't remember much of the class but then senior year was a depressive burnt-out blur for me. In Writing Sem I tutored a special-needs second-grader with Jen Larson, and read Catch-22 which was exactly the right book for me at that point, and taught Kafka's Metamorphosis to freshmen with the help of Brian Aldiss's parody "Better Morphosis". I'm sure there was writing, too: I recall terrible poetry, and a Finnegans-Wake-style stream-of-consciousness depiction of a high school class.

Throughout the year I'd hear whispers from other students about how they were working with Ms Stegall on ... things. A chapbook of poetry, a collection of monologues, whatever. Books. Actual books. (I only ever saw one, and that only because Nesa used a photograph I'd taken in photography class to go with one of her poems.) And I'd think "that would be kinda cool," and then I'd stop thinking about it, because I had no idea what I'd do other than "i want to write" and, well, I'd already nearly failed out of one of Stegall's classes for not caring.

And so I graduated from high school, and went off to college, and the rest, as they say, is history. Or silence. One of those.

My memories of Ms Stegall are of someone who contribued to making my life miserable junior year, and didn't much care about me during senior year.

Maybe six months ago I fell into a snarky Facebook group of alums from my high school. This weekend, someone reported that Ms. Stegall had died.

Immediate outpouring of grief and love and "she was my favourite teacher" and "she kicked my ass and really helped me get my writing in gear" and specific tangible things she'd done for people.

I had no such response. I got none of that from her.

Thing is, I'd really like to have. I wish I'd been someone that she saw enough potential in to encourage, to kick my ass and get me in gear.

But that would have required me to have gone through junior year differently, and for that to have happened, the changes keep going back until I'm not even recognisable to myself anymore.

And just showing up isn't enough for that. No mentor will come to me and say "yes, i will teach you, and help you, and guide you, and care about what you do." Most of the time I'm grown-up enough to know that.

Most of the time.

I make no promises as to whether I will reply to any comments here.


Aug. 14th, 2016 08:03 pm
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Home from wedding (someone else's) in nearly-Oregon. Survived the week of many minor stresses, to wit:
  • House-hunting in Vancouver is stupid. The first realtor I talked to said straight out "I cannot in good conscience sell anyone a condo in an older building, and that's all you can afford. Have you thought about looking much further out?" Thankfully the agent we went with is willing to a) wait for the right place to come up, and b) do a lot of due diligence on older buildings if that's what we're interested in. Meanwhile prices continue to climb despite sales slowing down. I don't understand how that works either.
  • Company got acquired. I'm still employed, I figure 60-80% chance of still being employed this time next month, but still, hectic.
  • A couple of my good friends are having problems. Nothing that can't be worked out, I expect, but no fun in the meantime.
  • Partly as a result of that one of them dropped out of RPG night, necessitating a scramble for a replacement and also some quiet freaking-out over whether I've done something stupid as GM. (Or as a human being, but I freak out about that all the time anyway, that's nothing new.)
  • And to top it all off, on Thursday night Chaos (the arthritic, hyperthyroid, kidney-failing, stud-tailed, no-longer-diabetic stubborn-as-hell cat) started heavily favoring his right hind foot, to the extent of not being willing/able to put any weight on it, even to climb up onto the couch to sit with people. He spent Friday hiding under the bed, partly to get away from the piledriving across the street but probably partly because he was miserable and in pain.

Fall over now, I think. Things what I fully intend to post about this week:
  • Aforementioned wedding, incl. good conversation with Dr HawkWhale (WhaleHawk?)
  • Twenty years on the Van Gogh boat, or, me and Julian Schnabel's Basquiat
  • My senior year English teacher died last week, and I wish that mattered more to me (It doesn't; condolences aren't necessary)
  • Housing in Vancouver is beyond stupid

Meanwhile, onward.


Aug. 10th, 2016 09:27 pm
jazzfish: "Do you know the women's movement has no sense of humor?" "No, but hum a few bars and I'll fake it!" (the radical notion that women are people)
Is... is this a third Tucker-post in three days? It is!

What are you reading?

Voices, by Ursula K. Le Guin. It's the second in her loosely-linked Annals of the Western Shore YA trilogy. I read these when I got them, probably a decade ago, and I remember them as being quite good and very little else. No, wait, I'd read Gifts once before, for a total of twice, and I recalled the plot pretty well. More evidence for my "books only stick in my head after a reread" theory.

Voices is the story of a young girl who's grown up in a city under occupation, where books are forbidden. Naturally she learns to read and loves it, naturally she falls in with a tale-teller from elsewhere who's come looking for the famous library that used to be in her city. Naturally (for a Le Guin story) it's got themes of nonviolence and gender and taoism and Shadow and more woven throughout, that you might not even notice if you weren't looking for them. And the language is beautiful and slow in a way that I'll mostly only put up with from Le Guin, for reasons I don't entirely understand.

What did you just finish reading?

Gifts, the first of the Annals. Before that, Ysabeau Wilce's three Crackpot Hall books (Flora Segunda, Flora's Dare, Flora's Fury), because I'd finally gotten around to picking up the third. They're also quite good YA, but I shouldn't read them all at once because Flora's very distinctive voice starts to grate on me.

What do you think you'll read next?

Powers, naturally. After that, I don't know. Maybe Basquiat, maybe Vurt, maybe something entirely else.
jazzfish: Pig from "Pearls Before Swine" standing next to a Ball O'Splendid Isolation (Ball O'Splendid Isolation)
Noting for posterity:
So I call it in my mind: the dark year.

To try to tell it is like trying to tell the passage of a sleepless night. Nothing happens. One thinks, and dreams briefly, and wakes again; fears loom and pass, and ideas won't come clear, and meaningless words haunt the mind, and the shudder of nightmare brushes by, and time seems not to move, and it's dark, and nothing happens.

--Ursula K. Le Guin, Gifts
Le Guin's speaking of grief, there, but it's also the best description of depression I've seen since Dar Williams's "After All".
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I've said for a long time that I don't really want to own my own home. I have zero interest in living in a detached house at all: yards are the devil, and a house is just one neverending weekend project. And renting means being able to call someone else when the sink breaks, or the water heater goes out. Conversely, buying a condo means having to convince a majority of everyone else in the building to pay for things like structural repairs & maintenance, versus kicking it down the road. (I believe much of the United States is currently watching this play out in slow motion.)

A couple of years ago, when we were looking to move out of Coal Harbour, we kicked around the idea of buying a condo in a new development that was going up in Chinatown. As part of that we also kicked around the idea of buying a condo somewhere else. Ultimately that went nowhere, in large part because we're cheapskates and Vancouver real estate is a decades-old bubble that shows no sign of popping anytime in the near future. Instead we moved out to New Westminster, closer to the Skytrain stop (and to groceries) but half an hour outside of downtown.

Two-plus years later, Vancouver real estate is if anything a *worse* decades-old bubble etc, the rental market is beyond terrible, and we're sick of living half an hour from nearly everything we want to do. (Notable exceptions to this last: really good poutine, the best barbecue in the Lower Mainland, and a couple of friends who live closer to New West than to Vancouver proper.) We've been looking for a place to rent for almost a year now with no success. Vancouver's rental market is obscenely pet-hostile, which rules out three-quarters of the possible hits right there, and biased towards Tiny Yet Overpriced, which doesn't work well with our library. And I strongly suspect, on admittedly very little hard evidence, that in the last year-plus there's been a proliferation of apartments being rented on AirBnB rather than to full-time tenants, because owners can make more money for less hassle that way.

So ... we're looking into buying a place. We're still cheapskates, but interest rates are low enough that that's only a problem and not a complete block. We're still picky; that hasn't changed, and if anything we'll be more picky if we're going to be someplace permanently. Though not a lot more picky, since neither of have a good grasp on what "living someplace permanently" means. That's, like, four years, right? And the Vancouver housing market is terrible but it's likely to *stay* terrible, so at least we probably won't lose money by buying in at the top of the bubble, unlike certain siblings of mine.

Fun times.

(Feel free to amuse yourself by browsing the MLS listings for Vancouver, in case you thought I was kidding about "decades-old housing bubble that shows no sign of popping.")
jazzfish: Malcolm Tucker with a cell phone, in a HOPE-style poster, caption NO YOU F****** CAN'T (Malcolm says No You F'ing Can't)
Ross was a friend of mine from Blacksburg (so, from college). We met when he wandered by the boardgame club table at the student club showcase and asked "Is this the Linux User's Group?" After college he worked briefly in North Dakota (or maybe South, I forget), and then moved back to Houston where he was from. We'd talk online occasionally, he came out for the cake and ice cream ceremony, I used to see him at Origins when I went to Origins.

He was anti-Facebook for a long time but last fall he got an account. I hesitated on accepting his friend request. I like Ross in small doses but he's ... a white male programmer from Texas, with most of what that implies.

It turns out that some amount of "what that implies" is being more willing to vote for Donald Trump for President than for Hillary Clinton.

A problem with political rhetoric is that it tends towards the exaggerated. Every election is pivotal; every opposing candidate is unspeakably awful and will bring down the Republic. So when we're faced with someone like Trump, who's so far outside the bounds of "normal" that they can't be seen with a telescope, we have no language to talk about just how bad it is. The attitude seems to be "Sure, people say Trump is bad, but people say Clinton is bad too!" There's not much of a way to get through that, particularly not to that breed of white male programmer.

I am pretty sure Ross is no longer speaking to me. I am pretty much okay with this, I think. This falls into the larger category of "i don't really miss most of my college friends," just ... more immediate.

In happier news, tomorrow I plan to lock myself in an air-conditioned movie theatre all afternoon and evening. (Blood Simple, To Live And Die In LA, and a wuxia that I'm unfamiliar with.)
jazzfish: a whole bunch of the aliens from Toy Story (Aliens)
I occasionally talk about Len Scigaj ("ski plus jive minus the V"), who taught me Modern Poetry, twice, and was one of my favourite university professors. Mostly I think of Scigaj in the context of The Waste Land, or of H.D. or William Carlos Williams. Rarely Yeats, who I'd devoured before ever taking the class; more rarely it's Auden, who I never did quite develop a taste for. Though I keep thinking I ought to revisit him, his "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" gets stuck in my head sometimes.

But Scigaj also taught me Wallace Stevens, whose poetry I rarely think about because it feels like something I've always known. Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Blackbird and Anecdote Of The Jar and The Man With The Blue Guitar. And The Emperor of Ice Cream, "Let be be finale of seem" and all that.

I mention this because, as noted elseweb, whenever anyone asks you "what's the point of getting an english degree, hurr hurr" you can respond with "So that I can laugh my head off at things like this."
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Ghostbusters (2016), Paul Feig (dir.)

I'll be honest: I had mixed hopes for the new Ghostbusters movie. I liked the last two McCarthy/Feig collaborations, The Heat and Spy, but the Ghostbusters trailer looked ... questionable at best. Then again, I do enjoy getting out with friends, and Steph was super excited about it. So, what the hell.

Verdict: it's good.

Comparisons to the original first: it's more action-y and less witty, especially in the last third. It's also WAY less wincingly sexist (seriously, Venkman is just AWFUL for so much of that movie). And it's got great cameos by many of the original cast, which, yay.

What's good? Holtzmann, of course. Kate MacKinnon's off-balance-FOR-SCIENCE-AND-GADGETS schtick is maybe even better than Egon's was. Leslie Jones's Patty is good too, believable and respectable and a full character in a way that maybe Winston Zeddimore never got to be. (Sidenote: Ernie Hudson's story of the rise and fall of his part is heartbreaking and I would pay good money to see the Winston movie.) Chris Hemsworth as Kevin the himbo secretary is PERFECT. "Which of these makes me look more like a doctor... the one where I'm playing the saxophone, or the one where I'm LISTENING to the saxophone?"

What's not so good? Oddly, the leads. Melissa McCarthy is basically playing Melissa McCarthy, and when it works it's good and when it doesn't it's just kinda there. Kristen Wiig's nervous-academic, half Ray half Venkman, works but doesn't quite gel with the rest of the team dynamic. They're all funny and competent, don't get me wrong, they just ... felt not quite together.

CGI is CGI is CGI, it's very pretty and didn't do much for me. The extended ghost-fight in the third act dragged on a bit. Honestly the entire second act dragged. In the first movie this is when they're being the Ghostbusters and being super-busy capping ghosts and arguing with William Atherton's EPA agent, and here it's ... they take a couple of jobs and figure out what's going on and get low-key arrested by Agent Omar.

But it's funny. Not enough consistently low-key chuckle-funny for my taste, but a decent amount of laugh-out-loud funny throughout. And the most cringeworthy moments are in the trailer, so if like me you're considering passing on it because of the trailer, don't. It's a good time.

And safety lights are for *dudes*.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
And the days went by
Like paper in the wind
Everything changed
Then changed again
What are you reading?

I'm about a third through Zelazny's Today We Choose Faces, a slim early-seventies novel. It's ... very seventies SF. I doubt I'll keep it around but it's interesting enough for one read.

What did you just finish reading?

Daniel Pinkwater's Neddiad and Yggyssey. These are Pinkwater at his very Pinkwater-est: strange and amusing and mostly benevolent things happen to kids in roughly the sixth grade, and while there's a plot it's less important than the atmosphere. I'm tending towards [personal profile] rushthatspeaks's opinion that Pinkwater is in fact a capital-S Surrealist, and his chosen medium happens to be middle-grade lit.

In between I reread Hannu Rajaniemi's Jean Le Flambeur books, because I needed something I could actually sink my teeth into. They do fit together better on reread: in the first in particular I could see the patterns forming because I knew the shape of things. They're still quite good, probably the best things I've read in a year. The Causal Angel (the third) feels weak but that may be just the devil of high expectations.

What do you think you'll read next?

Probably not Bridge of Ashes, another slim seventies Zelazny novel. Possibly some nonfic; the biography of Jean-Michel Basquiat's been calling to me.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I am not sure whether the problem with having crepes and apples and good cheese for breakfast is that I promised I would save some crepes for [personal profile] uilos and thus can't eat them all, or that I'm stuffed but they were really good and I *want* to eat them all.

(Better would have been with berries and whipped cream, but I wasn't thinking sufficiently clearly yesternight when I hit the grocery store.)


jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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