lightreads: a partial image of a etymology tree for the Indo-European word 'leuk done in white neon on black'; in the lower left is (Default)
[personal profile] lightreads
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World

4/5. Middle grade novel prequel to the popular comic. My wife loves the comic but hasn't read this. Below is a rough transcript of my commentary to her:

Ahaha, Squirrel Girl has just happened to a bunch of LARPers. . . . Aw, her parents are adorable. So supportive! They remind me of your parents when you came out*. . . . Aw, her deaf new best friend is crabby and adorable. . . . For the record, the villain's name is The Micromanager, just so you know. . . . Aw, she is adorable. . . . Oh now she's chatting with a bad guy about his poor life choices and how he really should be wearing a seatbelt when he's driving like that. . . . Ahahaha, she is texting with The Winter Soldier. Oh, now she's texting with Tony Stark about how she needs help from someone smart and resourceful, and she asked him for Bruce Banner's number, I'm dying, I'm dead. Ahaha she is trash-talking and her trash talk is that the villain "is going downtown without a bus pass."

There was also a longer conversation in there about how it seems that Squirrel Girl exists in a different genre than most of the other people around her. It's actually really interesting – the closer a person gets to her like her parents or her bestie, the more they become realized in Squirrel Girl's genre. That is, aggressively, unstoppably cheerful with a streak of zany. Whereas people in the background – like the mean girls at school – exist in a more typical high school novel whose rules Squirrel Girl doesn't so much ignore as just never notice. My wife says the comic has a similar function in the wider comics universe – Squirrel Girl is a streak of off-beat color in a grimdark sea. And that's the joke. And the not joke.

I loved this.

*She came out when she went home over her first winter break in college and when she got back to her dorm there were congratulations flowers waiting for her. How cute is that?

Some Short Fiction Recs

Mar. 25th, 2017 11:36 am
forestofglory: Glasses and books (books)
[personal profile] forestofglory
"Extracurricular Activities" by Yoon Ha Lee A fun twisty story with spies and secret missions. It's set in the same world as Ninefox Gambit, but stands alone. I just love how the author sketches characters and societies with a few key details.

"And In Our Daughters, We Find a Voice" by Cassandra Khaw creepy dark little mermaid re-telling (content note: a human character with ambiguous gender traits is referred to as "it")

MCU mini-marathon

Mar. 25th, 2017 06:34 pm
scaramouche: Captain America's shield & Iron Man's arc reactor; Civil War artwork (steve+tony)
[personal profile] scaramouche
Still in a Steve/Tony high, I decided to have an MCU mini-marathon with The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. It was most fun. Some conclusions:
  • The Avengers is more nerve-wracking in rewatch, knowing that SHIELD is actually Hydra part deux. Just about everything to do with or done by SHIELD made me anxious.

  • The action in The Avengers isn't... shot very well. Age of Ultron, despite having more CGI weirdness, is far more dynamic and physics-heavy. On the flipside, The Avengers as a whole is continuously exciting and engaging, while I found myself mentally checking out of some quieter scenes of Age of Ultron. As for Civil War, it feels emotionally tight in a way that the other two films simply don't, and the hand-to-hand combat is also excellent, but the airport fight goes on way too long in rewatch.

  • There is something to be said for the opinion I'd seen on the interwebs that Age of Ultron works really well as an immediate follow-up to The Avengers, i.e. if you pretend that Iron Man 3 never happened. (Captain America: The Winter Soldier less so, because there's at least some consequences from that movie brought forward.) Which is a bummer, because I love Iron Man 3.

  • Considering I just read a book about meteoroids and global-level extinctions, Ultron's plan is even more ridiculous. I mean, sure, superhero-movie physics, but eh.

  • Steve's dialogue improves DRAMATICALLY between The Avengers and Age of Ultron. How much of that was Steve's The Avengers PTSD getting lost to the cutting room floor, and how much was it due to Steve's snarkiness being highlighted in The Winter Soldier, which might've influenced the writing for Age of Ultron? Don't even get me started with Steve's costume in The Avengers.

  • Natasha and Thor are hilarious, and although I can understand them being flattened a lot in fic that's focused on other characters, it's still a damn shame that it happens.

  • Look, Steve is my fav, but the thing that bugged me the most about his POV in Civil War is that he presented no alternatives to signing the Accords. He was just a wall, and made no effort to bridge the divide. I can buy that being part and parcel of the character, but let's just say that I know enough walls like that in real life that I get stressed as hell seeing it in fiction.

  • The logic of the Accords continue to be shaky as hell (why... are they blaming damage caused by other parties on the Avengers) but I can buy this in a sense because the true endgame a la Zemo had nothing to do with the Accords itself. Though I am interested in seeing how the Accords play out in the following films, if at all.

  • All three films involve the core team being split apart by the bad guy. ALL THREE. It's weird as hell to watch back-to-back, and the only thing Civil War does differently is that it makes it permanent, while the previous two have the team getting back together for the sake of the battlefield, though without actually talking about it or having any emotionally honest team moments. Which, I guess, highlights how the team was volatile to begin with, and only really work as a team when they can focus on a common target. Fandom has wanked to hell and back about whether these guys really are friends instead of mini-cliques who work together by necessity, but I find it more interesting to look at it this way: Tony and Steve's first real emotional moments happen under the weight of the Accords, and later in Siberia in the worst possible circumstances. (They had a single, great banter scene at the end of Age of Ultron, but it felt like merely skimming the surface, especially compared to the connection between Tony and Bruce in The Avengers, plus Steve's with Sam and Nat in The Winter Soldier.) Extrapolating from that, Avengers: Infinity War would be a spectacular cap off for this cycle of films if it manages to present true, bona fide emotional team moments. No pressure.*

*I mean, I'd love it, though I know better than to pin my hopes on it.

It's just really egregious when watching the films back-to-back, how the team just head off for the final fight with Loki/Ultron without addressing the team conflict presented on-screen beforehand. The Avengers is less an issue because they're just starting out as a team, but Age of Ultron is really awkward -- they were literally beating the crap out of each other before Vision pops out and picks up Mjolnir.

I felt that Civil War does really well to address that emotional gap with dialogue that actually depicts familiarity between the members (the Steve & Tony argument just before Bucky gets triggered is so so SO different from their arguments in the first two films, with actual affection present between the lines) but, well... civil war, et cetera. Even the epic fight in the airport felt less stressful in a sense, because they were aiming to stop, not to hurt, whereas the fights in both Avengers films were very much targeting the soft, squishy bits of each other. Basically, after watching the first two Avengers I felt starved for more friendly interactions, but somehow after Civil War I wasn't as much, despite it ending on such open-ended heartbreak. Which is food for thought, I guess.

While I was about halfway through Civil War, my father came in and decided to join me. He'd never seen it before, and he hasn't seen Age of Ultron either, but he seemed to be able to follow it well enough, and was really into it until he realized what was going on and said, appalled, "They're fighting each other?"

Plus, once the reveal with the 1991 accident happened, he said flatly: "Well, that's difficult."

Yes. Yes, it is.

One week to go

Mar. 25th, 2017 07:42 am
worldbuildingmod: Detail from Carta Marina showing Thule and sea monsters (Default)
[personal profile] worldbuildingmod posting in [community profile] worldbuildingex
Works are due in just under a week from the time of this post.

If you think you might need an extension, please email me at worldbuildingmod@gmx.com - I would very strongly prefer to be pleasantly surprised when people turn out not to need them, rather than the other way around.

Existing pinch hits (many thanks to those who picked them up) have the same due date as other works. Any new pinch hits which arise between now and 1st April will have a later due date of 06:59 UTC on Weds 5th April.

I am aware of the ongoing issue with posting works to AO3 being difficult. If you do encounter significant problems with uploading your completed work, please get in touch.

If anyone's interested, of the 18 works already in the collection, 13 are completed assignments and five are treats.
umadoshi: (Winter Soldier - Steve & Natasha)
[personal profile] umadoshi
Fannish/Geeky Things

"The Fansplaining Definitions Survey". "This project is a production of the Fansplaining podcast, which is run by Elizabeth Minkel and Flourish Klink. You can learn more about us at fansplaining.com. We're not academics and this is not an academic survey, but we do strive to discuss and learn more about fandom in general. (We're both, by the way, longtime fanfic readers and writers.)"

Fan-made "Deadpool Musical - Beauty and the Beast "Gaston" Parody". [YouTube, ~6 minutes (including credits)]

"Once More With Feeling: On the afterlife of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, what makes a show resonate for two decades, and why we re-watch television".

"Marvel’s Netflix Shows Need to Get More Comfortable with the MCU".


Writing/SFF

I liked Daniel José Older's NaNoWriMo pep talk.

"The SFF Equine: From Companions to Dragons". [Judith Tarr at Tor.com] "Both McCaffrey and Lackey based their magical beasts on a particular horse-human partnership: that of the riders and the (mostly) white stallions of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. The horses are called Lipizzaner or Lipizzans in tribute to the original stud farm at Lipica in what is now Slovenia, and have been bred to much the same standard since the sixteenth century. They’re short, stocky, sturdy, strong, and highly intelligent. And they’ve been bred to favor individuals that bond with a single rider for, in the best case, the life of the horse."

"V.E. Schwab Expanding A Darker Shade of Magic With New Stories, Fan Art". (This is a collector's edition of the novel, not a whole new book.)

"Tale as old as time? We explore spin-offs, reboots and racebending". [[twitter.com profile] readingtheend guest-posting at OxfordWords blog]

"How Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' Became the Darkest Tale of All: Despite the musical numbers, the 1991 Disney film is actually the darkest retelling of the popular fairy tale". [Genevieve Valentine at Vice]

"The Savage Other as a Stereotype in Fiction". [Kate Elliott]


Miscellaneous

Julia sent me this YouTube link: "The Birthday Boys - Gotta Catch My Shows". It's so true. ;_; See also: today's Wondermark.

"How to download a GIF from Twitter?" [Ezgif.com] It's not perfect--I think maybe it's rejecting some file formats?--but so far it's the most reasonable way I've found to nab "gifs" from Twitter. (Scare quotes because Twitter's idea of what to do with a gif is convert it to a video.)

"53 Pictures Only Introverts Can Truly Appreciate". [Buzzfeed] An alarming number of these are accurate for me. O_o

"Chris Evans Is Ready To Fight: His success as Captain America has made Chris Evans one of Hollywood's sure things, which means he can do whatever he wants with his free time. So why jump out of airplanes and get into it with David Duke?" [Esquire]

"This Adorable Pup Named Biden Just Got To Meet Former VP Joe Biden". [Buzzfeed]

"ModCloth Has Been Sold to Walmart—and Their Customers are Pissed". [The Mary Sue]

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] cofax7, "A Book of Creatures" is a blog that posts about "entities of myth, legend, and folklore", and notes "WARNING: May contain sex, violence, and divine retribution."

A dress that changes from a simpler ball gown to a butterfly dress. [Facebook video]

"A 130-Year-Old Fact About Dinosaurs Might Be Wrong: New research on the creatures’ family tree could “shake dinosaur paleontology to its core.”".

Vidthings

Mar. 24th, 2017 05:04 pm
kass: white cat; "kass" (Default)
[personal profile] kass
Okay, this is AWESOME: Videlicet, a vidding zine featuring albymangroves, astolat, bironic, bradcpu, cathexys, gwyneth, hollywoodgrrl, kiki_miserychic, lim, loki, mordandawn, obsessive24, pteryx, speranza, stultiloquentia, thefourthvine, and tons of vids. I've only just started browsing it and it is delicious.

Also, [livejournal.com profile] sigerson sent me a link to a truly adorable Voltron vid made to "Starships," which I just showed to Zaphod, and which made us both very happy.

Here it is! )

some things

Mar. 23rd, 2017 10:51 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
* I almost have my MRI referral, yay. First I must go for an X-ray, boo, because my med insurance requires one before the other. The facility has walk-in X-rays, boo, and to get in line, I'll have to rise even earlier, which usually leads to Reason's early rising, too, double boo. It's more than 5 km from the office, boo, on a bus line, yay.

I don't understand the logic that requires irradiation to rule out bone chips before imaging soft tissue, given that I have partial use of my shoulder---continually so since the fall three months ago. I am enormously glad to have partial use of my shoulder, to be clear: I can type and handwrite, get into a shirt without much trouble, open a lightweight door, even do forearm planks and ± hang the laundry. (I hang everything besides sheets because I like wearing things out, not having the dryer do it for me.) I can't hand my child a fork or spoon without pain, however, given where we sit at table: angle of extension, not how demanding the task is. After my grumpy post about near-total lack of abduction, I tried the bicycle, which overtaxed my left shoulder in compensation but led to a nap, not a fall. ...yay? (Informed risks are part and parcel of chronic pain, anyway.) While I read random web things, my left hand uses the mouse while my right arm bends and curls into my ribs unbidden, as though my body could protect it. Sorry, arm and axle; please keep waiting.

* Reason is so annoyed that Hidden Figures the book is "for grownups" and has "a ton of text." Wait two or three years, little one, and you'll probably skate through it. (She wouldn't be so irritated were she unable to conceive of herself reading it.) There's apparently a Young Readers version, but our nearest library doesn't have it.
scaramouche: Anna from Supernatural in cartoon form (spn: anna cartoon)
[personal profile] scaramouche
During some link-hopping I discovered that, despite Disney tentatively doing a live-action film of their The Little Mermaid, and there being a film adaptation with Shirley MacLaine coming out this year, another indie film managed to leapfrog both for a 2016 release and became, officially, the first English-language live-action feature film adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid.

(It's true. Despite the book coming out in the 19th century, all the prior adaptations have been animated, live-action for television, or in languages other than English.)

Last night I watched this 2016 film, which stars Rosie Mac as the little mermaid, and can say quite reasonably that the only thing this film has going for it is that it that was made quickly enough to get that First English-Language Live-Action Film Adaptation moniker. Its worst fault isn't that it looks like it was made for $100 dollars (of which $90 dollars was spent on the gorgeous mermaid tail that seen for maybe 30 seconds), or that the story is a cynical modern-day adaptation with very little wonder, or that the acting leaves a lot to be desired. Its worst fault is that it's boring.

I can forgive a lot if there's a decent idea somewhere in the center of any story, and although there were a few flashes of maybe-brilliance in this adaptation, it's just a slog to watch, and with very little charm. I didn't care about or understand any of the characters, and I had very little idea of what the story was trying to say. Plus it had that sense of look-how-edgy-we-are in having the little mermaid and her (first) prince having a one night stand that ends badly, and then the little mermaid being curious about sex toys and then becoming a burlesque dancer. I have very little patience for edgelord adaptations that don't retain any sense of magic, and not to mention that this makes it the third recent cynical adaptation for The Little Mermaid specifically, the others being Little From the Fish Shop and Charlotte's Song (which is more inspired-by instead of a straight adaptation, but still).

Still, I think in theory that I could have enjoyed a modern-day adaptation that takes a cold, hard look at the culture clash of a mute mermaid having to navigate our world, if only it weren't so damn dull and cheerless.

Gratitudes

Mar. 23rd, 2017 08:25 pm
kass: glass of white wine (white wine)
[personal profile] kass
1. Turns out my property taxes are, in fact, taken-care-of by the mortgaging institution and therefore not my problem.

2. My mother gave me the Hamiltome! I gave it to her last year for her birthday and she finally finished reading it and passed it along to me. I am so happy to have it and am reading it bit by bit.

3. I finally located the beeping smoke detector. (It was in the garage.) My house is no longer intermittently beeping.

4. I don't have to work tomorrow night, which is a rarity. I get the evening off!

5. I am watching the new Netflix reboot of Voltron with Zaphod, and am totally digging it. I think it's my favorite thing he's watched since Avatar. It's fun to have something that we actually both enjoy, to watch while we cuddle on the couch.

(no subject)

Mar. 23rd, 2017 01:36 pm
nestra: (Nikita)
[personal profile] nestra
Fellow Nikita people:

Crap, looks like the Split Personality archive is down. Anyone know anything about it? I mentioned AO3's Open Doors a few times to...someone. Probably not ranma. I wonder if there's any way to reconstruct it or get it saved by AO3 without the original owner.

FMK: The Princess and the Goblin

Mar. 23rd, 2017 12:14 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
Princess Irene is definitely D'Angeline, isn't she. Which of the angels is her Great-Grandmama?

...Anyway, somehow I was expecting this to be about a princess and a goblin, not a princess and a peasant boy and a WHOLE BUNCH of goblins, none of whom she really interacts with. I think somehow I had got the impression that Curdie was a goblin who helped her out.

That's really the core of my response to this book. As I was reading it (and I'm very glad I did) I was seeing all the ways in which this is really an important foundation block in the later fantasy I've read, missing pieces that I haven't found in extensive folklore reading but still turn up every now and then in post-Victorian stuff, even such little things as the physical descriptions of the goblins. (Such as having a jack-o-lantern face, when folklore pumpkinheads are usually very distinct from folklore goblins.)

And then there's the very strong, and very Victorian, thread in this book of beautiful = good and ugly = bad. Not to say that post-Victorian kidlit has totally solved that one, but still, there's enough pushback against it in newer kids' fantasy (and in folklore) that my response to the lady who is beautiful beyond imagining (*especially* if she admits she's wearing a glamour) is BEWARE, and you should probably go find an ugly crone to talk to instead. Also I can't think of a single reason why the goblins aren't in the right here, given the way they are being dehumanized and their lands are being steadily stolen and then destroyed. They even try for a diplomatic solution first!

Of course, the fairy-story books I was imprinting on instead when I was the age for this were The Ordinary Princess (all about how Ordinary doesn't have to be Beautiful to be Good) and Goblins in the Castle (where Our Hero realizes halfway through that the displaced goblins are in the right and he's been on the wrong side all along). Both of those books are almost certainly arguing with MacDonald and his peers, whether consciously on the part of the writers or not, but I got their side of the argument first and it's a much better side. :P

I was also interested in how young Irene was. There's a standard in kidlit publishing (or at least there was, awhile back) that your protagonist should always be at least a couple of years older than the reading level you're writing for, presumably as an aspirational thing, and also so kids who read a lot can feel smug about reading books for older kids and kids who are a little slower don't have to be talked down to.

But I'm wondering if it's also because adult authors tend to write their protagonists acting a few years younger than kids of that age feel like they are in their heads. Irene certainly feels younger than eight to me, for a lot of the book: at eight I could tell you who my cousins-once-removed were and how they were different from my second-cousins, and I can't imagine many second graders I know being confused by the concept of a great-grandma, or in general have Irene's maturity level. And when I was a kid, reading books about kids a few years older than me, the protagonists didn't usually feel like they were that much older than me. Maybe by telling grownups to write eleven-year-olds for eight-year-olds, you end up with characters who feel like eight-year-olds to eight-year-olds.

I did really like the strong message in this book that adults need to believe what kids say to them, and that if the adults don't, that's on the adults, not the kids. And if the kids let themselves be half-convinced the adults are right and the kids are imagining or exaggerating, it's also the adults' fault, and not the kids failing, and not just "part of growing up." And that the mysterious secret stranger actually tells the protagonist to tell all her grown-ups everything, not to keep it secret, because adults who tell you to keep your relationship a secret are probably not the adults you should rely on. That's something that is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT to teach a lot of kids (although probably more important to teach grownups), and I think the way MacDonald did it was a lot more emotionally real and with a lot more conviction than a lot of other people, especially modern kids' fantasy, where the parents not believing or not being told is either taken for granted or treated as harmless.

Also wow, you really couldn't get away with handing a character a LITERAL PLOT THREAD in a modern book...

Red Sonja

Mar. 23rd, 2017 02:52 pm
scaramouche: Vocal Adrenaline glee club from Glee, with "Bring It" in text (glee bring it)
[personal profile] scaramouche
It's been literally months since I came back from my London trip, but my stack of new media sitting in the middle of the floor of my room has barely shrunk. In fact, it's grown a little, thanks to the bunch of stuff I've been buying lately post-Rogue One. I know I should just put everything away, but I really do want to consume the DVDs and music at least once before shelving them.

I tried to start up again by watching Red Sonja (the movie version, with Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold's Conan expy). I've wanted a decent DVD version for some time now, and had held off getting one back when DVDs were still exciting and getting decent extras, but it's been too long of a wait for a special edition of some sort so I caved and got a basic version if only so I have the movie at all.

I did a rewatch and MAN OH MAN I forgot how much this movie did for my younger self's id. It's so aggressively eighties, with its style and special effects and earnest dialogue and matte paintings, plus Sandahl Bergman (who plays Queen Gedren) had a particular vocal quality that had me flashing back to the English dubbing of various cartoons and European films that I grew up with. I don't know whether it's the way she speaks as Gedren, or how her voice was recorded or what, but it pings a very specific sensory memory, it was most disconcerting.

Fresh-faced Brigitte Nielsen was also a delight, with her awkwardness working as a plus in selling the character to me as a child, though perhaps it comes off differently if I'd watched the movie for the first time as an adult. I'd also forgotten how non-subtextual Gedren's interest in Sonja was -- somehow I'd convinced myself that it was something I made up but, nope! Gedren really does want Sonja, just as it sounds. Tremendous.

(US) Political linkspam

Mar. 23rd, 2017 02:03 am
umadoshi: (Goku grumpy (psychodragon82))
[personal profile] umadoshi
I have to admit I'm glad to not be posting nearly as much US-centric political stuff, although I'm still reading and RTing a fair bit (and more than is comfortable for my anxiety). But here are some of the best pieces I've read over the past couple of weeks. 8 links )

Reading Wednesday: 22 March 2017

Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:41 pm
likeadeuce: (genius)
[personal profile] likeadeuce
What are you currently reading?

Getting back in the reading groove a little --

Finishing up Underground Airlines by Ben Winters on audiobook. It's sort of a noir/mystery set in an alternate history where the US Civil War never happened and slavery continues to exist in a few Southern states. The world-building is interesting, and the author seems to have a strong understanding of politics and history that makes me think, "OK, sure, that could have happened." It's tightly plotted with lots of twists, and while I wish the character work were a little stronger, the narrative voice is very good. Also, if anybody's read this, spoilery question )

I've read a little bit of Version Control by Dexter Palmer, a near future novel which I understand has an interesting sci fi premise but that I won't figure out what it is until later in the book. I like it so far, lots of possibilities.

And I was attempting to do a 'quick' re-read/re-skim of Sister Citizen, by Melissa V. Harris-Perry, which I recommended for my social justice book club based on having read it a couple years ago. But it's both so absorbing and so well-argued that it's not especially skimmable; hopefully I'll get through most of it before Saturday.

What did you recently finish reading?

I somehow missed Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game when I was a kid, noticed my library had it on audiobook. I enjoyed this. . .it's fun and a bit silly, with a large and potentially cartoonish cast of characters, but there turns out to be a lot more subtlety to the character portraits and relationships than it seems at first. Turtle Wexler for president.

What do you think you’ll read next?

If I ever finish what I'm working on, I need to get back to All the Birds in the Sky. From there I guess I'll see.

wie lieblich sind deine wohnungen

Mar. 22nd, 2017 07:16 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Mirok Li, Der Yalu fließt, trans. as The Yalu Flows by H. A. Hammelmann (1956): as a young man, Li was instructed by his mother to flee north across the nearby Amnok River (a.k.a. Yalu) and escape the Japanese police, probably circa 1920. He never returned to Korea; from China he made his way to Bavaria and worked as a doctor until his death in 1950. Besides this book, which is a remembrance of his childhood---it ends quite abruptly after his river-crossing into Manchuria---Li left scraps of a second book, which Hammelmann describes as a reflection upon juxtaposing European life with his Eastern upbringing. Think about it for a moment: born around the time when the Japanese government began occupying Korea, departed shortly after the March 1 movement---and then, somehow, sufficiently at home in a Bavarian village that people came to him for medical consultation amidst the tumult of the Third Reich.

A whole paragraph of my notes-while-reading was eaten by something, probably OneNote, so I no longer have the romanized names that caught my eye. "Mirok" is 미륵, more usually Mirŭk or Mireuk, as in the usual Korean rendering of Maitreya, the Buddha; his father's given name is rendered "Kamtsal," and due to Li's childhood training in classical Chinese, I'm not sure what to do with that Wade-Gilesish ts- as filtered through German. Chŏl, maybe? Two more bits have floated up while I type---Li's father asks him once whether he has heard of the great Korean poet "Kim-Saggaz," and Li's teaching includes the works of "Mang-dsa"---that's Menzius auf deutsch, usually Mencius or Mengzi in English.

I can see why people place this and Younghill Kang's The Grass Roof together, but Kang's text is almost painfully satirical, whereas Li's is almost painfully earnest, too earnest to be much truer than Kang's. Li's account is nonetheless nearer the technically fictional yet memoirish Richard E. Kim's Lost Names (1970), as expected.

I really wish that more writers besides these men and Park Wan-suh (her preferred romanization) had felt empowered to express themselves in semi-autobiographical writing (with a visibility level enabling translation into a language I can read). It's selfish, but seriously, they're all from yangban families---why don't we have a wider representation of voices? At this point, if we don't, we won't---they're dead---unless someone's writings are discovered late.

(no subject)

Mar. 22nd, 2017 09:21 pm
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (cosmia)
[personal profile] skygiants
After reading Peter Beagle's Summerlong and being Tragically Unimpressed, I made my book club read Tamsin just so I could remember the Beagles I have loved before.

Tamsin is very much a Beagle I have loved before. As a teenager it was probably my favorite Beagle, even moreso than The Last Unicorn, just because I identified so hard with sulky, obstreperous Jenny Gluckstein, a Jewish New York teenager who moves to Dorset and promptly falls head-over-heels for a beautiful eighteenth-century ghost named Tamsin Willoughby.

I described the book this way in book club. "But I don't want to oversell you on how gay it is," I added, worriedly. "I mean I haven't reread it since I was a teenager. It definitely might not be as gay as I remember. Maybe it isn't gay at all, and I was just projecting!"

...rest assured, this book is very gay. We're not entirely sure if Beagle knows just how gay it is? There are numerous moments where Jenny describes in great detail the tingly feelings that Tamsin's quirky smile and vanilla smell and tiny ghost freckles make her feel, and then adds something like "I guess I'll probably feel that way about a boy someday!" Will you, Jenny? WILL YOU?

(I mean, maybe she will, bisexuality definitely an option, I'm just saying. The book is first-person, with the device of being an explanation of Everything That Went Down from the perspective of several years later for Jenny's friend Meena to read; the structure makes a whole lot more sense if one just assumes Jenny and Menna are by this point dating. Meena is in the book plenty! Thematically paralleled with Tamsin, even! Meena's jealousy of the time Jenny spends mysteriously disappearing to hang out with a ghost and Jenny's jealousy of Meena's tragic crush on The Boy She Pines For Across The Choir Benches is a whole thing!)

So yes, in retrospect, it turns out I still love Tamsin - even though, in retrospect, reading it now, it's a super weirdly-structured book. The first solid third of the book is all Jenny's SULKY OBSTREPEROUS AGONIZING TEENAGE FEELINGS about leaving New York, which is fine, I guess, except it introduces half a dozen characters that are super important to Jenny in New York and will never be important again. Then another character who's incredibly important to the finale of the book shows up maybe three chapters before the end, and Jenny's like "oh yeah, I forgot to mention her? But she's been here the whole time, having weird interactions with me the whole time, let's just pretend I've been talking about it, OK? OK."

Still, Jenny's amused-embarrassed voice looking back at all the time she spent as a hideously embarrassing teenager continues to ring about as true for me as it did when I myself was a hideously embarrassing teenager. I think I'm always going to love Tamsin for that.

(Also the tragic feline love story of between Jenny's actual factual cat and Tamsin's imperturbable ghost cat continues to delight.)

An Ancient Peace, by Tanya Huff

Mar. 22nd, 2017 09:41 pm
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
[personal profile] sophia_sol
Sixth in the Confederation series. Not bad! Less Craig content than the last book, which automatically gives it a step up in my opinion. Craig is a lot more palatable when he's just one of the team and sort of background emotional support for Torin, instead of being an integral part of the plot.

Read more... )

Adventures in home ownership

Mar. 22nd, 2017 06:12 pm
kass: little house; words "home sweet home" (home sweet home)
[personal profile] kass
I received a tax bill today for property taxes for the place where I now live. I had been under the impression that I was paying property taxes into escrow and therefore would not get socked with such bills. I have emailed my banker, and am hoping like hell that it turns out this was in error / I don't have to deal with it. If I do have to deal with it, I will manage it somehow, but it would be a hefty hit to my finances.

I am proud of myself for not panicking; I'm pretty sure that at most other moments in my life this would have caused me to lose my cool.

I have, however, poured myself a glass of white wine. Because it is wine o'clock now.

In other household news, I did order myself a chest freezer, which should arrive by Friday. It is tiny (3.5 cubic feet, probably less than half the size of the one we used to have at the old place) but it will be useful, and I'm glad I ordered it before I found out about the possible tax bill.

And today I managed to remove the ugly wooden shutters from my kitchenette! I am already happier having them gone. (I am hoping that a friend with a power drill will help me hang a curtain rod there soon, whereupon I will have curtains, which will be both less ugly and less dusty than what was there before.)

Reading Goal Update

Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:31 am
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
[personal profile] forestofglory
I've decide to modify my non-fiction reading goal for 2017. My original goal was to read 10 academic monographs in 2017. However I was struggling to define academic monograph and also had some books I didn't think counted that I wanted to read on my shelf. So after talking it over with some friends I've decided to change the goal to 12 scholarly books, where scholarly is defined as written by a scholar not a journalist.* I upped the number of books to 12 (or one a month) since I'll be including some less dense books.

Having made this decision I've started reading Mary Beard's SPQR, which has been really interesting so far. The introduction promised some discussion of food and trade which I'm really looking forward to.

*Who is a scholar is not clear cut. For example I have book about planning written by practicing planner is he a scholar? I'm going to say yes for proposes of this book challenge. Because he is an expert in the field and not a journalist. Anyways I think "who is a scholar?" is an easier question to answer than "what is an academic monograph"

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