Dec. 29th, 2016 09:27 am
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
The sceptre, learning, physick, must
All follow this, and come to dust.
--Wm. Shakespeare, "Cymbeline"
My family moved to the DC area for the first time in 1983, when I was starting second grade. Being who we were the first thing we did was find a church. The one we ended up at, St Stephens UMC, had a round (octagonal, but whatever) sanctuary rather than the standard two-columns-of-pews arrangement, which was neat. It also had a great pipe organ, and a white-haired organist who I can't recall ever not being there.
Steel on the skyline
Sky made of glass
Made for a real world
All things must pass
--David Bowie, "Heathen (The Rays)"
We left DC in '86 but still occasionally came to services at St Stephens. When we moved back in '91 we started going again. I got more involved with the church for a few years: ushering, youth group, that sort of thing. I was never on more than nodding acquaintance with the organist, which I can tell by how his name sticks in my mind as "Bob Layne" rather than "Mr Layne," but he was as much a fixture as the round sanctuary or Mr Prosser the head usher. (More so than the preacher; Methodists tend to change preachers every few years, to avoid the situation where the guy who's been in the pulpit for decades up and dies and nobody trusts the new preacher until he's been there five or ten years.)
There's flowers now on Linn Street, and a new moon just above
They tore down all the houses where we used to make love
But they'd been long abandoned when we went there, anyway
And I can still smell the lilacs in the corner of the Dream Café
--Greg Brown, "Dream Café"
I drifted away from the church over the course of several years but I still went back on occasion to see people. After all, these were the only non-relations I'd known for longer than five years, then ten. Always, every time I went back, Bob Layne was at the organ, looking exactly like I remembered him.
Yet all things come in time to die.
--Graydon Saunders, "A Succession of Bad Days"
As you might have expected from the fact that I'm writing this, he's gone now, along with Mr Prosser and the round sanctuary and my perception of the church as a loving and welcoming place. (That last took a mortal blow twenty years ago when they fired one of their best and most-loved people with no notice, on suspicion of homosexuality. It hung on for awhile but never made anything like a recovery.) Bob Layne's death doesn't mean anything, but I guess it symbolises quite a lot.
For a word to be spoken, there must be silence. Before, and after.
--Ursula K. Le Guin, "A Wizard of Earthsea"
Addendum: "Robert Lee Layne." For fuck's sake, treason-in-defence-of-slavery apologists.
The past is never dead. It's not even past.
--William Faulkner, "Requiem for a Nun"
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
I'd been invited to an election-watching party but Erin was unexpectedly free, so I spent the evening at home with her instead. Then [personal profile] uilos came home too around nine-thirty, and a differently very nice evening transitioned into a few hours of sleepy snuggly domesticity. That, I am pretty sure, is why I'm on as even a keel as I am.

I remember the aftermath of 2004. I felt angry, betrayed, confused. Today I mostly feel numb. ("You can't /feel/ numb. You can only /be/ numb. Be numb. Be numb.")

My friend [personal profile] tam_nonlinear died last night.

I mean, I don't know how accurate those first two words are. We were friends and her friendship helped me through some very rough patches. She took me to Tribal Cafe, an amazing monthly belly dance show in DC, and introduced me to Avatar: The Last Airbender, and gave me "Thanks, Robert Frost" and "After the Pyre" when I needed them. She was also prickly, and I did a number of insensitive things that upset her, and I don't know if she ever accepted my last apology some years ago. For a year or two I've been torn between writing her to see where we're at, versus leaving her her space.

Her last writing, posted this morning: Sycamore. We do not always get to recover.

Today I pull into myself.

When I reemerge in a day, a week, next year, I want to forge a still safe space and open it to good people. I want to build a thing -- a community -- that increases the kindness in the world. Ideally I'd like for its seeds to spread in some fashion but I suppose that's not necessary. I have very little idea what it would look like; only a sense of ... atmosphere, I guess.

I've been chewing over this idea for months, if not years now. Too, it's perhaps something concrete and useful in a time when there's less hope to go around.

You can't save the world, here, says Erin, just contribute to a little corner of it.

I want to give other people a chance to recover. Maybe that's enough.
jazzfish: A red dragon entwined over a white. (Draco Concordans)
Words are inadequate (the poor craftsman curses his tools) to describe the beauty of our coasts, but words are what I have available.

--John M. Ford, "Chromatic Aberration"
Twenty-six years ago, give or take, I kept seeing "How Much For Just the Planet?" on the spinner-rack at the Fayetteville library. I never checked it out, though. I do wonder what that might have done for my reading habits.

Ten years and a couple months ago I read Heat of Fusion and Other Stories for the second time. This time I got it. "Chromatic Aberration" and the Hemingway pastiche "The Hemstitch Notebooks" remain two of my absolute favourite short stories, for wildly different reasons.

Ten years less a few days ago I cracked up at a Star Wars joke hidden in a period discussion of Renaissance theatre in "The Dragon Waiting."

Five years and nine months (ish) ago I got married under the Declaration of Unity.

Five years less a few weeks ago, TNH asked me "Who do you want to write like?" and my eyes filled up with tears and I mumbled "Mike Ford."

Ten years and a day ago I sat down at a computer to start a class on using MicroStrategy and pulled up my Livejournal friends page, and the first thing I saw was a post from Jo Walton headlined "John M. Ford, 1957-2006".
Hush, now, at the glass clouding, hush at the silicon crumbling, hush be still at the metal flowing atom by atom, spare no protest for evaporation and cold welding and decay, for Time shall take its own.

--John M. Ford, "All Our Propagation"
Footnote: If you've not read "Against Entropy" in its original setting, do. It's the first comment. Note the timestamp on the post, and on the comment.
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.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
"... but behind me, my cats are doing a conga line." (Reference)

I've had a new chair at work for about two weeks now. The desks at work supposedly go up and down so they can double as standing desks, only mine doesn't go up high enough to be a comfortable height for standing. I could get risers for it, but then it won't go down low enough to trade off sitting & standing. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I finally got a tall chair and a set of risers for the desk, so I've been a stand-up guy off and on. It's good: standing up means I move around more often and don't get quite so stiff.

I've had this chair for less than two weeks, *at work*, and it's already got cat hair on it.

Posts what I have not written and would like to:
  • Musicking
  • Why Transistor (the video game) Doesn't Work, Narratively Speaking
  • On the Impossibility of Finding an Apartment in This Town
  • Harrison Hot Springs, Again
  • Ask Me Where My Money Goes
  • Burnout Or Just Tired?
jazzfish: an evil-looking man in a purple hood (Lord Fomax)
People who have suffered existence failure during the most recent year of the Wood Goat:
  • Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Sir Christopher Lee
  • Leonard Nimoy
  • David Bowie
  • Alan Rickman
  • David Hartwell
For once in my life I am seriously looking forward to February. Specifically, 7 February and the year of the Fire Monkey.
jazzfish: Pig from "Pearls Before Swine" standing next to a Ball O'Splendid Isolation (Ball O'Splendid Isolation)
Last week (from Monday) was just kinda unpleasantly grey and heavy. I started the morning spacey and forgetting things, and then Bowie.

(Interlude: the setlist from the 1997 concert, courtesy Megan H-- from high school who I met up with there. Holy cats that was an amazing show. Now that I see the list I remember "I'm Waiting for the Man" and "White Light / White Heat," plus "Scary Monsters" and his weird spoken intro to "Hallo Spaceboy" and "Earthlings on Fire" and and. Yowza. Interlude over.)

That pushed me down into a pretty blah place overall, with no real chance to recover during the week. News of Alan Rickman didn't help any but that was more numbing shock than an actual emotional blow: I don't have as much connection to Rickman's work. And then the weekend was decent: among other things we picked up the first three seasons of Futurama and are working through that. It's aged surprisingly well, and so far every episode has had multiple not-just-heh-but-genuinely-funny moments. Sold some games, had barbecue from the amazing barbecue joint across the tracks, mostly hung around the house and worked on getting back up to speed.

But for whatever reason I haven't been reading LJ/DW. (Or twitter, but no surprise there.) I'm slowly catching back up: I've started reading at work now, for one thing.

Anyway, if you're wondering: I'm doing alright, but I miss you.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
I realised this morning that it's not that Bowie changed my life, although I'm sure he did. It's that he's been a part of my life for twenty years: not just the music, but the anticipation of music to come. Which is why I filed Steven Brust in the same kind of category: I think Brust is the only author I've been reading constantly from before high school who's still writing. (Le Guin, I guess, but the only Le Guin I read before the university class I took was Earthsea. And she's no longer writing novels anyhow.)

To probably misquote someone or other on Twitter: "It's like if someone told me Mount Everest had died. I keep wanting to say 'No, silly, that's not how mountains work.'"

Recommended viewing/listening: Under Pressure from 1997, with Gail Ann Dorsey; The Hearts Filthy Lesson (a rather disconcerting video).

(I haven't yet picked up Blackstar, on the grounds that I don't have a spare hour to spend in tears. We watched the video for Lazarus last night and that was about enough.)

In other musical news, playing the viola is hard. It's hard in what I assume is the way that new things are always hard, and what I assume is the way that complicated and finicky things are always hard. I haven't really tried either in a long time.

It is *depressingly* hard. I picked up the cello tonight for the first time in a year, and after five minutes of reacclimatization I was sawing away at the opening of the Squire tarantella and a couple of the easier bits of the Bach cello suites. My fingers *know what they're doing* on the cello, and I understand how to shift, and how to hold the instrument and the bow, and how to sound halfway decent. I nearly cried when I went back to fat-fingering and screeching on the viola.

The other problem is that, as I'd more or less expected, my ear is not actually all that good. We're spending part of each lesson drilling on intervals, and while I can semi-reliably distinguish between a major and minor third, and somewhat more reliably between a major and minor second, for some reason I hear fourths as fifths and am running only slightly better than fifty percent there. At least I can tell a tritone when I hear one.

I'm not giving up. As I've said, after a year I suck on a whole new plane. I figure I'll keep at it for at least another couple of years, and if I still can't stand my sound at that point then it's probably time to throw in the towel.

Currently working on a bit from the Bach cello suites. I *think* they're mostly a little easier on the viola but I'm not certain.

On the bright side, I can stumble through alto clef well enough to pick out the "Baby Elephant Walk" from my book of Henry Mancini viola arrangements. Indeed, I can stumble well enough that I can tell I don't much care for this particular arrangement, and may soon be looking for either a better one, or the original score so I can bloody well do it myself.

I still harbour fantasies of arranging Peter Gunn for two violas ("With apologies to H. Mancini and A.O. Noise") and playing a duet with myself. We shall see.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
Well, fuck.

... no, that's about all I've got. It's too big. I'm having trouble conceiving of a world without David Bowie in it. I think "There won't be any more Bowie albums," and my brain comes back with "oh, so he's saying he's retired?" It makes.no.sense.

ancient history )
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
Elizabeth Peña, actress. You probably know her as the voice of Mirage from The Incredibles; she was also disturbing in the eminently disturbing Jacob's Ladder. She was one of those actresses I hoped to keep catching a glimpse of in something interesting every few years.

And from [personal profile] rushthatspeaks I learn that Zilpha Keatley Snyder has died as well.

Snyder's books were among those I read and reread from the Cumberland County library from fourth through eighth grade. I never got into the Stanley family books, likely on account of never figuring out where to start... but Green-sky (Below the Root, And All Between, Until the Celebration) and The Egypt Game and Eyes in the Fishbowl and others I devoured, over and over again.

I read A Fabulous Creature when I was far too young for it. James Archer Fielding's teenage sex-obsession went right over my head. His efforts to deal with shyness and fear and inaction, though, that I picked up on. Later I'd watch him attempt to salvage a relationship that was never what he thought it was, and wince in sympathy. (It is not as powerful as Le Guin's Very Far Away -- praising with faint damns -- but it makes an excellent companion piece.)

And The Changeling, a book about imagination, and growing up, and having a best friend who's cool and mysterious and hates her terribly family and is convinced that she's a changeling... it's an early book, it's not terribly coherent, and I loved loved loved it. A few years ago I came across an overpriced print-on-demand-ish "Author's Guild Edition" copy and bought it, because it's one of those books that I just need to have my own copy of to remind me of who I am and who I was.

So it goes.

done now

Feb. 4th, 2014 10:50 pm
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
I've been down to Helena, to see where they buried Gram and Pop and uncle Jim.

I've been to Hoxie for Grandmother's funeral, and then out to Smithville where they buried her next to Granddad.

Today I've watched the sleet fall in Jonesboro.

I'm tired, more tired than I expected to be.
As the light changed to red
I wrapped a scarf tight round my head
I was cold as the Kittery tide
There was not much more to see
So I turned round quietly
And crossed back to the other side.
jazzfish: A small grey Totoro, turning around. (Totoro)
Happy fourth annual International Eat Some Cake Day! Although the first one wasn't international. Whatever.

Sunday's cold seems to have been a twenty-four-hour affair. I was mostly back to full functionality (as full as I get these days anyway) by Monday.

In other news, I misinterpreted Dad's email about Grandmother, and then he turns out to have been overly optimistic anyway. She's just been moved to hospice with congestive heart failure, and is more or less nonresponsive. So I'll most likely be flying to Memphis and thence to Jonesboro or Hoxie this weekend, and spending the week in Arkansas.

As I recall, the last time I did this I was having a relationship meltdown. That seems much less likely this time. Small favors.

... and there's Dad's phone call. She's gone as of a few minutes ago. So it goes.

(I am pretty much okay. As I told my boss, one side effect of an Army brat upbringing is that extended family is only about two steps removed from 'strangers.')
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Thanksgivvukah: "And since many of the hybrid Hanukkah holidays ... are scheduled for tens of thousands of years from now, Cohen is skeptical they will ever come to pass. 'Maybe the Messiah will have come by then,' he pointed out."

Your Ability to Can Even: A Defense of Internet Linguistics: "Sometimes 'AODEHwhddhwdwebw' is far more eloquent than saying 'I'm so overtaken with emotion, I can barely type so I smashed the keyboard with my forehead.'"

(Speaking of which, if you are not reading The Toast you should be. Dreamwidth feed at [syndicated profile] the_toast_feed.)

The Logic of Stupid Poor People: "[O]ne person's illogical belief is another person's survival skill. And nothing is more logical than trying to survive."

Surviving the post-employment economy: "We live in the tunnel at the end of the light... the post-employment economy, where corporations have decided not to pay people."

So these two planes collided in midair, but they were full of skydivers so everyone is okay.

Captain Justice Responds to Government's Motion to Ban the Word "Government": "Along these same lines, even the term 'defense' does not sound very likeable.... [T]he opposition to the Plaintiff hereby names itself 'the Resistance.'"

Mavis Batey, last of the Enigma codebreakers, dies at 92: "'This is going to be an interesting job, Mata Hari, seducing Prussian officers. But I don't think either my legs or my German were good enough because they sent me to the Government Code & Cipher School.'"

The Night Watch: (warning: pdf) "'Yeah, that sounds bad. Have you checked the log files for errors?' I said, 'Indeed, I would do that if I hadn't broken every component that a logging system needs to log data. I have a network file system, and I have broken the network, and I have broken the file system, and my machines crash when I make eye contact with them. I HAVE NO TOOLS BECAUSE I'VE DESTROYED MY TOOLS WITH MY TOOLS.'"

Remembering William Weaver, translator for Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino, among others. Contains a link to Weaver's interview in The Paris Review ten years ago, which is also a fine read.

Start-Up Reinvents the Bicycle Wheel: "While the new wheel is still round..."
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)

This act of creative and historical vandalism is not technically my fault: "Take a real blues song title, with the word 'blues' in it, and replace 'blues' with 'feels.'" Photoshoppery ensues.

I'm not a scientist, but allow me to say a few things about science: "At the time I asked Sean Connery if he knew anything about science, but I was unable to understand anything he said, as he is Scottish."

Goblin: "According to the funniest theory, elves and goblins go back to Guelphs and Ghibellines, the names of two political parties that divided Italy during the Middle Ages, when the Pope and the Holy Roman Empire were at daggers drawn."

The Waterstones Oxford Street bookstore's Twitter feed ([twitter.com profile] WstonesOxfordSt) is a thing of surreal beauty. "I'm in a yard. Kelis is making milkshakes. Again."


A Rejection Is a Rejection Is a Rejection: "Sent to Gertrude Stein in 1912 by publisher Arthur C. Fifield."

You all know about giant isopods, right? Huge (foot-long) roly-polies from the bottom of the ocean? A Japanese aquarium decided it'd be neat to make life-size plush ones. They sold out in hours. They are adorable and I want one.

50 Great Movies You Can (Legally) Watch for Free Right Now: Rashomon, M, Chimes at Midnight, some early Hitchcock, Chaplin, Keaton... all kinds of crazy good stuff. The Internet is a wonderful place sometimes.


The Women Dustin Hoffman Didn't See: "It was never a comedy to me." An interview with Hoffman about 'Tootsie.'(Linking to James Nicoll rather than directly to the Youtube video because someone was kind enough to leave a reference still of Hoffman in drag in the comments.)

On Dignity: "I'd rather put my time and energy into my work, what time my society will leave me. Because I live in a society that has decided people like me should die if they get ill. But I still have a choice in how that happens."

There Are Things of Which I May Not Speak: "I thought the world would always be mine, along with everyone I loved in it. I was wrong."
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
Roger Ebert.

Jane Henson.

Iain "M." Banks. ("I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow.")

Night Shade Books.


I am SO done with this week.


Feb. 28th, 2013 11:09 pm
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Cripes, is it Friday already? (No, not quite, I guess.) Work's been stupid busy all week. Probably was last week too, but I wasn't around for that part. Will write about the rest of Los Cabos later. Have some other stuff in the meantime.

Glass viruses. Beautiful.

Brink Back Postal Banking: "Americans should have a public option for simple banking that could shield them from the most predatory practices and extend saving options to all reaches of society." This... is an idea.

Teach the Controversy t-shirts: so much awesome.

YOU HAD ONE JOB!: like Failblog, but amusing.

The Game Over Tinies. "E is for Ecco, and he was delicious / F is for Frogger, who got too ambitious."

Should men be allowed to vote?: classic snark from Alice Duer Miller, an early twentieth-century suffragist.

Pad Thai: "In between surviving multiple point-blank-range assassination attempts and a failed kidnapping in which he emerged alive from the burning wreckage of a battleship his own air force had just bombed, Pibulsongkram decided that Thailand needed noodles that would advance the country's industry and economy."

We Found Our Son in the Subway: "The story spread like an urban myth: You're never going to believe what my friend's cousin's co-worker found in the subway."

Allan Calhamer, designer of Diplomacy, 1931-2013. No word on whether he was found with a knife in his back. In all seriousness, Dip is a game that I admire greatly, enjoy reading about, and will never, ever, play again. This is not a game to play with your friends unless you are tired of having friends.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
RIP Tony "Brother of Ridley" Scott, most famous for non-crap action movies like Top Gun and Crimson Tide, and whose first film involved Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve, and David Bowie in a vampire menage-a-trois in The Hunger.

But I'll always think of him as the director of two very odd works: Domino ("When Tom Waits and Christopher Walken are, respectively, only the ninth and fourteenth oddest things about a film, you have something very special on your hands") (trailer) and the short BMW promo film Beat the Devil, with Clive Owen, Gary Oldman, James Brown, and Danny Trejo. Beat the Devil in particular is an excellent use of ten minutes of your time.

So it goes.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
That one line in this year's tor.com First Lines Game wasn't actually from Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, but by the time I realised that I was ten pages into the book, so I just kind of went with it. And then I wanted something else with a Tom Canty cover (shut up), and [personal profile] aamcnamara had put in Privilege of the Sword so that was already on my mind, so I picked up Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint.

Swordspoint has a sequel, The Fall of the Kings, by Kushner and Delia Sherman, set sixty years later and peripherally involving some of the same people. It's also got another sequel, The Privilege of the Sword, by Kushner alone, that takes place between the two. Normally I'm a strict publicationist when reading series (ask me about Narnia sometime if you want me to rant. Or better, don't) but for some reason I feel like I ought to read Privilege next and then Fall. I think it's because Fall feels so unlike the other two: it's got overt magic, and much less swordplay. Anyway, thoughts? [ETA: first reread for all three, so it's not like plot points will be spoiled for me or anything.]

(Tam Lin is about the small liberal arts college you wish you'd gone to and the college experience you wish you'd had, and it made me terribly homesick for things that never happened. The Riverside books... will probably get their own Medialog post.)

Relatedly, Darrell K. Sweet has died. If you read the Wheel of Time books, or any fantasy at all from the 70s through 90s, you knew his covers: medieval / Ren-Faire-ish, very busy, with bright colors and slightly muddy shading. At one time my bookshelf had more DKS cover art than not. I very much liked his Lord Foul's Bane, and his Lord of the Rings covers on my battered paperbacks are still what I think of when I think of "Lord of the Rings." He was... iconic, in a way that not many other cover artists have been. Canty, of course; Michael Whelan; Frank Frazetta, Rowena Morrill, Boris Vallejo. Midori Snyder Kinuko Craft, now, although she may be more of a niche thing as she mostly makes me think "Patricia McKillip."

(The other thing about DKS is that whatever the merits of his artwork, he read the books he was illustrating and his covers always depicted a scene from the book. This is rarer than you'd think it might be.)

My taste long ago drifted away from the things implied by a DKS cover on a book, but still... it's something from my past that's definitely gone now, with no going back.


Oct. 7th, 2011 10:27 am
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Sent out the last of the post-office saving letters earlier this week. So if you've not gotten one by, say, this time next week, and you ought to have, let me know.

At Crooked Timber, commenter Lemuel Pitkin on Steve Jobs:
Worth noting that in all the tributes to Steve Jobs, nobody is saying "He was a rational agent who maximized the present value of his lifetime consumption, and would have wrecked his company in a second if he thought that would net him a dollar more. We will continue running Apple to generate the maximum profits for shareholders, whether that means putting out great products, putting out crappy products, or liquidating the whole thing." Instead, they all talk—sincerely I'm sure—about his commitment and dedication to his work, and say things like "his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple." It’s a nice illustration of how capitalism’s biggest success stories are really arguments against capitalism.
(see also ajay @32)

In related news, I preordered the Device Mark 2 this morning. (Delivery estimate: 1-2 weeks. Which is okay; if it got here on the release date I wouldn't be around to play with it anyway.) The Device has served me well for nearly three years, but between the inexorable march of technology and the flaky headphone jack (and AT&T's obscene refusal to allow me to use a device that I purchased with any other carrier), it's time for it to take a well-deserved retirement.

Restless lately. Fall out here is made of Wet, which doesn't make for much in the way of scuffly leaves, and it's harder to get excited about going out in the damp. Too, I'm half eagerly awaiting VP/Boston and half thinking "wait, how can it be october already, i'm not nearly prepared for this." Impostor syndrome is kicking in like nobody's business.

But the mist is nestling in among the tops of the trees in Stanley Park, and I seem to have gotten enough sleep last night, and Portal 2 was on sale earlier this week. And, you know, tomorrow I get on a plane to spend a week with a bunch of awesome people, and then a couple of days with different but still awesome people. Life is decent.


jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Tucker McKinnon


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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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