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.)

alone, home

Jul. 2nd, 2016 11:56 pm
jazzfish: Pig from "Pearls Before Swine" standing next to a Ball O'Splendid Isolation (Ball O'Splendid Isolation)
For the first time in longer than I care to remember I have the house to myself for days at a time. [personal profile] uilos has gone to Portland to pet sloths; I could have gone, but at the time of planning I had thought I might be in Portland last weekend (or maybe the weekend before) for train gaming. That didn't happen but I'm still glad I stayed home. It's good to be on my own for awhile.

I don't really understand the "need to be on my own." It's not like [personal profile] uilos is particularly demanding when she's here. But ... I just feel freer, more able to be myself and do what I want or need to, when there's no one else around.

And I've mostly been using it for zonking out and being brain-dead, which is a thing. Hadean Lands, Zarf's sublime text-adventure from late 2014, is out on Steam, and I've been replaying that and enjoying the heck out of it. And shooting things in Assault Android Cactus, and seeing the Canada Day fireworks from my balcony with a few people. And going over to hang out with... hm.

A couple of years ago I went out once with a fascinating woman named Erin, and then she was busy and I was busy and we never got back in touch. I unexpectedly ran into her again months later, when we saw The Last Unicorn with special guest appearance by a very tired-looking Peter Beagle, and we made vague plans to get together again. Those turned into actual plans and we had a very pleasant evening wandering around New Westminster near Xmastime 2013.

For those of you keeping score at home that was a time when I was burning out something fierce, for a wide variety of reasons that don't bear re-exploring at this juncture. And so I never got back in touch with her after that. By the time I could start thinking about possibly doing so it was not quite a year later, and I figured I'd just lost out.

A couple of months ago my friend James started dating someone who he was absolutely head-over-heels for, and, yep, same Erin. And she was in town this weekend (she's way off north for a summer internship-like thing), so I got to re-meet her. That was surprisingly pleasant. I'm looking forward to seeing a bit more of her this fall when she's back in town more often.

It's been good to relax a bit.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I miss The Toast already.

(Me? I'm better than last week, but still not good.)

When You Smile: On Humor and the Heart: "If I can make you laugh, maybe you won't laugh at me."

What makes a city great? New data backs up long-held beliefs: "In a new (yet to be peer-reviewed) study on arXiv.org, researchers report that the completely plausible tenets of good city living laid out in the famous 1961 tome of urban planning, The Death and Life of the Great American City [ed: Of Great American Cities] by Jane Jacobs, do have some credibility in today's data-hungry world." EAT IT, ROBERT FUCKING MOSES.

Speaking of whom, The Dutch Prime Minister Is a Big Fan of Robert Caro: "We were bound for Randalls Island, where Moses based the Triborough Bridge Authority and built an office for himself... because people had to work hard to reach him, and because they had to pay a toll to his agency."

The Devil Signed Onto Twitter.

The Pitch Meeting for Animaniacs: "Animaniacs isn't 'for' kids, you see. It is the anarchic soul of the child. Sensory overload, constant change, sibling rivalry, new adventure. Life happens in a disjointed series of images, until they're locked away at night by an authority whose motives remain opaque."

This is why I'm learning to play viola.

Blockchain Company's Smart Contracts Were Dumb: "Any vulnerabilities in the DAO's code were not flaws in the code; they were flaws in the descriptions -- which were purely for entertainment purposes. The DAO's websites failed to explain to investors that the code allowed a hacker to take $60 million by using a 'recursive splitting function.' But the recursive splitting function itself is part of the DAO's code, and therefore part of the DAO." Fascinating stuff.

Soil Conservation: A Southern History: "Above is Providence Canyon, Georgia. This is one of Georgia's Seven Natural Wonders. It is also completely created by erosion from cotton growing."

A guy just transcribed 30 years of for-rent ads. Here’s what it taught us about housing prices: "6.6 percent. That’s the amount the rent has gone up every year, on average, since 1956. ... 6.6 percent is 2.5 percentage points faster than inflation, which doesn’t seem like a lot but when you do it for 60 years in a row it means housing prices quadruple compared to everything else you have to buy."
jazzfish: Pig from "Pearls Before Swine" standing next to a Ball O'Splendid Isolation (Ball O'Splendid Isolation)
A grey day will not make me depressed, but a grey day can and will feed existing depressive tendencies.

I don't recognise my books. Rather, I recognise them, I know what they are and in most cases where and when I got them. When I last read them, or when I intend to finally get around to reading them. But they don't speak to me.

Mandy came out of the all-night Vurt-U-Want clutching a bag of goodies. I've not read Vurt or its sequel Pollen in, oh, probably not this millennium. I've yet to get to My Real Children or Jim Morrow's short stories, or finish Le Guin's Changing Planes which I've had for something like a decade.

I don't recognise the guy who bought them, who's hauling them around from apartment to apartment.

It's a wolf this time, I swear.
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Ugh, time is getting away from me again.

Last Sunday I went to my viola teacher's end-of-year recital for her young students. There were maybe eight or ten kids performing, from ages three to eleven. I've not been to a Suzuki-type recital since before I graduated from high school. It was rather pleasant to hear a bunch of pieces I'm fairly well familiar with (and one or two new ones), in a relaxed setting. Felt like home. At the end Tegen and one student played the Bach Double. That's one of the two pieces (along with the Vivaldi A Minor) that I was always genuinely envious that the violinists of my acquaintance got to play, and which I've not heard in years.

(I did not play, mostly due to being a bit outside the target age range. I suppose I could have polished the Bouree from Bach's third cello suite, but, eh.)

The day before that, [personal profile] uilos came back from taking Kai to the vet (annual old-cat checkup, no problems) and announced "I have a tickle in the back of my throat!" Dammit.

I managed to dodge any symptoms until Friday, when I woke up with a sore throat that I attributed to the weather having decided to get cool again. I then did a bunch of socialising over the weekend and got very spacey whenever I wasn't directly doing anything, and stayed home from work yesterday. I was kind of on the fence about going in today, woke up at my usual time, decided not to, and proceeded to fall back asleep for three hours. Which pretty much never happens.

At this point I'm a little spacey and short of breath, and coughing a bit, but I ought to be okay to go back in to work. The interesting thing is that while I tend to get sick on the tail end of [personal profile] uilos being sick, it's not always the same thing, or at least doesn't manifest the same way. Hers is bacterial, multicoloured snot and all that, where mine seems to be viral and settling in the vicinity of my chest.

jazzfish: Windows error message "Error 255: Too many errors." (Too many errors)
About this time last year I threw money at the publishers of Atomic Robo in exchange for a complete eight-volume hardback run of the comic. I did this in the hope that it would arrive in time to be [personal profile] uilos's Xmas present. As you can probably guess from the fact that I'm writing this now, they missed their projected delivery date of November by, oh, seven months and counting.

I don't know what most of the circumstances were, but printing a gazillion colour hardbacks is not trivial at the best of times. I expect they just massively underestimated the scale and the effort involved. And also created their time budget "assuming everything goes smoothly" and then were surprised when everything didn't.

Today's Kickstarter update included the following gem:
On the yet brighter side: your damn books finally got out of damn customs! Apparently when everything is labeled "ATOMIC" it throws up some red flags and you get extra scrutiny. WOW THAT WASN'T A TREMENDOUSLY FRUSTRATING WASTE OF TIME OR ANYTHING HAHA LAUGH WITH ME HAHA.
I'm reminded of the time a couple of years ago when I bought a wargame from a guy online. I paid him via PayPal, and in the Comments section I made a note of the name of the game I was paying him for. Turns out that if you send payment through PayPal and put "Cuba Libre!" in the Comments, your payment gets flagged for Further Review and held for several days.

Moral: automated systems have no sense of either proportion or humour.
jazzfish: Randall Munroe, xkcd180 ("If you die in Canada, you die in Real Life!") (Canada)
This time half a decade ago ... well, at this exact time we were still on a train headed for Everett WA, because flooding in North Dakota delayed us by seven hours. (Bit difficult to run a train when the water's higher than the tracks.) But tonight's the anniversary of us showing up at the Pacific Central train station in Vancouver with a fistful of paperwork, and coming out the other side with temporary Canadian work permits.

Hard to believe we've been out here for five years now. I still miss the people from back east something fierce, and at the beach I remembered how much I miss dapper grey mockingbirds (and cardinals, though *not* cheeseburger wrens), and of course my old boss R-- is still the best of all possible bosses. But for the most part I feel pretty well at home here. Overall, moving was the right decision, I think.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
My love affair with Fallen London lasted almost exactly two weeks, in the following stages:
  • Oh, it's free on iOS, may as well check it out.
  • The writing is kinda fun.
  • I'll throw a little money their way, support people doing cool things etc.
  • The app is frustratingly slow for something that's just displaying text and still images.
  • Yay, an app update fixed much of the slow!
  • ... which serves to reveal the grind-y underbelly of the game itself.
  • Bored now.
Verdict: the writing is fun but the gameplay is annoyingly focused around doing the same thing repeatedly. Reading the same fun snippet for the nth time sucks much of the fun out of not only that snippet but the ones around it.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Over the weekend I helped writer-Steph run the blue-pencil/pitch-practice room at Creative Ink Festival. Mostly we made sure that the newbie writers and the editors were in the right place at the right time to talk to each other, and ran sign-up sheets, and spelled each other when there were panels we wanted to go see.

The panels I got to were alright: on the level of your better small-con panel, I'd say. Nothing earth-shatteringly amazing but worth attending. More usefully, the couple of pieces that I put in for blue-pencilling (aka "reading by someone who doesn't know me") went over very well: one got a small amount of useful feedback, and one got mostly gushing and "no no no, this is clearly not a flash piece, it's the prologue to a novel, and I WANT TO READ IT." Which was pleasantly validating, enough so that I've resubmitted both of them to story markets after a hiatus of *mumble* months.

Our Wednesday writeins may have acquired another member, too. I suspect that I really do need to find a critiqueing group, mostly so that I have some motivation to bloody well finish something, but the writeins are better than nothing.

What are you reading right now?

I haven't technically given up on Mieville's Embassytown, I guess. It's a puzzle-novel: here are the aliens who can't lie, who can't talk to machines but only to empathically-bonded pairs of humans; here is an alien who is learning to lie; here are a bonded-pair of humans who unintentionally(?) drive the aliens mad by speaking to them; what's going on? Turns out I don't like puzzle-novels, at least not when they read as slowly as Embassytown does.

This is my third Mieville, and I've disliked them all for different reasons. (King Rat had a plot that resolved itself by the antagonist self-destructing, which I detest; Un Lun Dun was decent but unmemorable, and I couldn't shake the feeling that it was an attempt to rewrite Neverwhere and give it a plot this time). I should probably stop but I want to try The City & The City first.

What did you just finish reading?

John Christopher's Tripods Trilogy, nearly fifty years old and still decent. I mean, the characters might make it to the level of 'cardboard cutouts' if they strained a bit, the prose is serviceable at best, and in the entire trilogy I think there's a single named woman and maybe three unnamed ones, but they read quickly and have some neat worldbuilding going on. They can stay. I don't know that I'd recommend them to anyone who didn't grow up with them, though.

What do you think you'll read next?

This weekend I picked up both of Katrina Archer's fantasy novels, so I may as well read Untalented.
jazzfish: Exit, pursued by a bear (The Winter's Tale III iii)
The Cinamatheque, the semilocal artsy theatre, is doing a Shakespeare 400 film series. I like the Cinematheque quite a bit but their Shakespeare preferences ... are not mine.

Choices that I am fully on board with:
  • Chimes at Midnight, aka Orson Welles plays all the Falstaff in one movie
  • Kurosawa's Throne of Blood and Ran, aka Samurai Macbeth and Samurai Lear
  • My Own Private Idaho, the single most arthouse Shakespeare film I can think of
  • Forbidden Planet
Choices that I understand while not agreeing with:
  • Polanski's Macbeth
  • Whedon's Much Ado and Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet, because people will come see those (I will go see R+J, because it's been at least a decade)
  • West Side Story, ditto plus classic-musical cachet
Choices that baffle me:
  • Three different Oliviers: Hamlet, Henry V, Richard III. Surely one was enough?
  • Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Taming of the Shrew, though there may be context that I'm missing
Omissions that baffle me even more:
  • Branagh. I assume someone at the Cinematheque hates Branagh.
  • Ian McKellen's fascist Richard III
  • Julie Taymor's Titus
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Spring has come on with a vengeance, as someone or other once wrote. This is a mixed blessing in our south-facing greenhouse-like apartment but I do approve of the sunshine.

Still looking for an apartment, still not finding one. Rumour has it that the lack of rentable supply has to do with owners realising they can make more money for less effort with AirBnB and short-term rentals. Jerks. There are definitely fewer places available than there were two years ago, even accounting for price and location.

On the bright side we went to see a place out by Commercial-Broadway on Wednesday night, and while it didn't work out (mostly made of stairs, and the few interior walls had baseboard space-heaters) we decided that that's pretty much the kind of neighborhood we're looking for. Lots of foot traffic, lots of interesting restaurants and shops and grocery stores, lots of trees. Not really any hi-rises, which is okay. My new space at work has a third-floor balcony that overlooks a quiet street, and I've discovered that I rather enjoy watching people when I'm close enough to see *people* instead of brightly-coloured ants.

So now we at least have someplace to focus our efforts, and the knowledge that the general kind of place we want to live does exist.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
On (roughly) the centennial of the Easter Rising, it's clearly time to link again to A History of Ireland in 100 Excuses.

The Cinematheque is running an Irish film festival for the occasion. On Sunday [personal profile] uilos and I went to see a documentary on the Rising, followed by Liam Neeson Versus The Bastard English And Also His Fellow Shortsighted Irishmen.

The documentary ... didn't impress me. The occasional newsreel footage didn't make up for the annoying Ken-Burns-esque closeup image-panning, and the shots of contemporary Dublin added very little after the first couple of images of the Post Office. I spent most of the time wishing it had been a book.

Michael Collins, well, it's still Michael Collins, it's a fictionalised and dramatised look at a freedom fighter / terrorist in the early twentieth century. Most of what I wrote last time I saw it holds true. Needed more Stephen Rea. (This is true of most movies. Stephen Rea has made a career out of appearing slightly rumpled and compelling.) It's a good movie and one of the few biopics, possibly the only one, that I'd recommend.

I brought back a round of con-crud from Niagara, of course. At least it seems to have *not* turned into full-blown pneumonia, which it did in one or two other people who were there. Stupid sinuses.
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
0) ... and still insists he reads of ghosts.

1) One amusing in retrospect bit I didn't mention earlier: when I arrived at the train station in Toronto (after an unpleasant redeye flight featuring loud drunk bachelor-partiers, and a wholly pleasant ride on the new no-longer-$38 train from the airport to the train station) I attempted to present my passport so I could pick up my ticket and ... opened to a picture of [personal profile] uilos. Apparently our passports got switched for the wrong wallets the last time we travelled (down to the used bookstores with Steph in December). Luckily I had my own Nexus card and my own PR card, and the train folks were happy enough to take the Nexus card, but it made for a somewhat tense ride down.

E FedExed me my passport so I could get on a plane to go home. I could *probably* have worked it out with just the Nexus card, but I had used the passport to buy the ticket, and better safe than stranded in Buffalo.

2) Speaking of, home from the Gathering as of eleven-thirty last night. Still tired, still heavily overpeopled. I didn't take care of myself as well as I could have this year; the weather was miserable for the first half of the week and for whatever reason once it nicened up I still didn't go outside and wander. Something to bear in mind for next year.

3) More on this later, but: consider this another plug for Graydon Saunders's Commonweal novels (available in ebook from the Google Play store). Reread the first (The March North) and read the first third or so of the second (A Succession of Bad Days) over the week. Comparisons with the work of Mr Ford are not inapt. The bone-deep understanding of trauma and healing and loneliness and identity is still there in Graydon's work, it's just even further down than in The Dragon Waiting. Or maybe I just haven't reread these enough times for it to be obvious to me.

4) It seems I have a strong predilection for flawed characters in difficult situations who are trying their damnedest. I have no further use for stories about terrible people being terrible, and I think this means I should let the Joe Abercrombie books go.

4a) Losing people you’re responsible for hurts. If it didn’t, the Line wouldn’t give you a warrant of commission.

If it stops, they take the warrant away.

--Graydon Saunders, "The March North"

5) I am returning the nameless new laptop. A week with Taranis has convinced me that I don't need to spend an exorbitant sum of money on a new machine, not yet and likely not for another couple of years. I *do* need a battery replacement and could do with a clean reinstall, but that can wait for the weekend.
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
Not really up for wandering the gameroom, and I could probably do with some downtime anyhow.

The Gathering is a week-long smallish (400 people?) gaming convention in Niagara Falls (US). [personal profile] uilos and I were first invited two years ago; sadly she hasn't made it back. Maybe next year.

I'm rooming with Scott, a guy I met at random last year. He's a fine roommate but very much an extrovert. As with Christine last year, I've not had to be this sociable in the mornings in a very long time.

Eric B--'s absence this year is notable: he welcomed me into the morning 18xx games two years ago, sort of took me under his wing last year, and is generally one of the Good Ones. Hopefully he'll be back next year.

Two years ago Splendor was obviously the Big Hit; last year it was Codenames. I haven't seen anything this year that would really qualify. There's a lot of Codenames Pictures being played, which is exactly what you think it is.

Perhaps it's Ponzi Scheme, which Dave E-- described as "a party game for economic-gamers." Every round, everyone takes a scoring tile and a funding card, which provides an infusion of cash now in exchange for a payment in a few rounds. Then there's a flurry of 'clandestine dealing' where you're exchanging money and score tiles with the other players, and then the round increases. You can pay for your ruinous interest by ... taking more and larger funding cards, but those will come due sooner or later as well. You're hoping for "later:" the game ends as soon as one player can't make a payment, so if you're going to go bankrupt in two turns that's fine as long as someone else crashes out next turn. Ponzi Scheme is currently extremely unavailable; there's a new edition coming in a few months, I believe.

The weather's been horrendous: cold, rainy, I think there was unpleasantly wet snow a few days ago, and so very very windy. I have not left the hotel except to make a grocery run the day after I got here. I may go out to the falls on Friday or Saturday, I haven't quite decided yet.

Three more days of gaming, and then travel on Sunday. It's been good to not be at work.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
My laptop hath arrived. Initial impressions: thinner and glossier and about the same weight as Taranis. The Power key is a stupid idea. I miss having both USB ports on the same side: makes it a little harder to charge two things at once. The very very clever battery-power-lights on the side of the case seem to have been dispensed with, which makes me sad. Overall I see nothing to challenge my belief that laptop case design reached its pinnacle with Taranis and it will all be downhill from here.

I haven't done much with it: installed a few programs, made some configuration changes. So I haven't really noticed that it's much faster, or anything like that. The retina display *is* nice: everything just feels a bit crisper, brighter, more solid.

I expect I'll take Taranis with me next week, and then come back and offload all my documents onto the new currently-nameless machine.

What are you currently reading?

John Morressy's Kedrigern and the Charming Couple, book 4 in a series of five slim light fantasy paperbacks from the late eighties. I read the third (Kedrigern in Wanderland) several times in high school / early college and have been carting around the set of five for years; don't know if I ever actually read them or not. I don't think I did. They're utter fluff with occasional bright spots ("Ah yes, the hermit Goode, who lives in the wood that slopes down to the sea") and more than occasional visits from the sexism fairy. Doubt I'll be keeping them.

What did you just finish reading?

Kedrigern 1-3. I don't want to get started on anything serious; I'd rather not carry any physical books with me to Niagara this weekend.

Before that, Philip Knightley's biography of Kim Philby, followed by a reread of Tim Powers's Declare because of course. Knightley paints Philby in a positive light: not sympathetic but definitely admiring, and very critical of the British intelligence service as an old-boys' club and nothing more than a grand old adventure, a Great Game if you will. I came out of it vaguely dissatisfied. It felt too hagiographic to be trusted, I think.

Declare is of course fantastic, although I was less taken by it this time round as well. Powers wrote an excellent secondary female character in Elena and then reduced her to a prize to be won. The interleaving of the timelines worked well, I thought; it's just the wrap-up that felt wanting.

What do you think you'll read next?

Kedrigern 5 if I get to it before I leave on Friday night. Otherwise, since Graydon Saunders's third Commonweal book is out, probably a reread of The March North and then reading A Succession of Bad Days and Safely You Deliver. I've got the third of Kameron Hurley's Bel Dame Trilogy waiting for me, too.
jazzfish: Randall Munroe, xkcd180 ("If you die in Canada, you die in Real Life!") (Canada)
Let's see. Still writing (mostly just on Wednesdays with Steph), still playing the viola and starting to sometimes feel like I'm beginning to get the hang of it. Still less than thrilled by job but hey, they pay me. Still looking for a better (closer to downtown, less frustrating) apartment. Settling into getting used to the idea of having a stable living situation, and being able to think and plan about what happens next.

Finally got the cats on all wet food all the time. They've been on dry food for long enough that wet food has been "okay this is a nice treat but where is my REAL dinner?" It's taken a couple of brands to get to some that they'll consistently eat most of. I say "some" because we had one that we thought would work but after a week that turned into "aww, the humans bought a case of our favorite food, now we can't like that kind anymore." Mixing it up seems to be sufficient.

Apple has deigned to offer new normal-sized phones, so we'd intended to go pick those up this weekend. In addition they now give you some amount of credit for your old phones, which seems like a win-win proposition. Unfortunately the local stores are sold out of new normal-sized phones for the next couple of weeks. And the easiest way to get credit from the old phones is to exchange them at the time of purchase, which precludes ordering online. So, new phones once I get back from Niagara.

I did go ahead and pull the trigger on a new laptop, though. I may go to my grave defending the hardware setup of Taranis, my current laptop, as The Best Ever. It's got a CD drive, a Magsafe power connector that detaches safely when you accidentally kick the cord rather than yanking the laptop off the table, and it's got a software Eject key that is intensely stupid but can be remapped to be a proper Delete. Sadly newer models of Macbook have removed the optical drive and replaced the useless Eject key with what I think is a Power key that I can't remap. And all indications are that Apple is getting serious about moving to USB3 for power ports with the new models that ought to be out this fall. I figured, I may as well get while the getting is no worse, and if the new laptop lasts me five years like this one did then it's a fine investment.

And this Friday I fly out to Niagara for a week of gaming. I'm not really feeling the get-up-and-go urge, which seems ... odd. I suspect I'm pulling in on myself again. Eh. Will sort that out once I'm back from Niagara.

101 in 1001 update )
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Woke up last Saturday morning with the telltale soreness of sinus drain at the back of my throat. I didn't have any other symptoms, though: no headache or stuffy head, no spaciness, some tiredness but not much. Mostly just the sore throat.

The bone-weariness kicked in further on Sunday, and I ended up staying home on Monday. I could have gone in, I guess. Mostly I didn't want to deal with the hour of transit to get there and back again.

I was more or less fine by Tuesday. [personal profile] uilos has picked up something of her own; if it's the same thing I had then it's hitting her a lot worse.

Stupid spring sick.

Every NYT Millennial Trend Story: "Millennials--the demographic group also known as Generation Y, Generation Me, and Daesh--have found it difficult to balance dueling priorities as they exit their parents' basements and enter the real world." (I am told this is even more hilarious with the browser extension that replaces "Millennials" with "Serpent People.")

Masculinity Is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box: "Man, from my perspective, is not an identity so much as a Long Con, and masculinity is a concatenation of anxiety–founded posturings."

Slaughter at the bridge: Uncovering a colossal Bronze Age battle: "In 1996, an amateur archaeologist found a single upper arm bone sticking out of the steep riverbank—- the first clue that the Tollense Valley, about 120 kilometers north of Berlin, concealed a gruesome secret."

'I'm not the Obamacare kid anymore': "He was the chubby 11-year-old African-American boy who stood next to President Barack Obama as he signed Obamacare into law at a White House ceremony on March 23, 2010.... As supporters prepare to mark the sixth anniversary of Obamacare's signing, Marcelas is marking another rite of passage -- as a transgender teen."

An interview with Gail Ann Dorsey about Bowie: "He completely, single-handedly altered the course of my life."

Smart Car turned into a snowcar: "Yeah, it's just a thought that came to me and it seemed like the right thing to do."


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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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