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insufferable know-it-all
19 July 2017 @ 12:55 pm
Might as well post the movie & TV lists while we're here. Last year I did them by month; this year I collected them for longer in part for Festivids reasons and in part because I was embarrassed for a while at the proportion of sources that weren't for the auction vid. But that is chugging along now.

Averaging a little less than two movies per week, and more TV shows than usual, for vidding reasonsCollapse )

As with the book list, happy to talk about any of these.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/357607.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
17 July 2017 @ 09:52 pm
Readercon was good -- better than expected. I'm hanging out with [personal profile] deelaundry & family on part of their summer vacation. The DS9 vidlet is 9/10 of the way done; still cranking along on the auction vid. Next week is my birthday. This coming weekend [personal profile] disgruntled_owl and I are at long last realizing plans to enjoy an internet-free writer's retreat.

This post is about none of those things, because it's nearly 10 p.m.

For now, it's time to post the mid-year reading roundup!

7 novels, 2 novellas, 8 graphic novels, 6 short story or essay collections, 3 nonfiction, 1 novel-length fanficCollapse )

Right now I'm reading The Grapes of Wrath and the last Assassin book. Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire came in at the library, but I was disappointed to discover it's about Jack and Jill, not the Land of the Dead; given that it's due in two days, it's probably going back unread, for now.

Between regular curiosity and Readercon acquisitions & recommendations, the "check out next" list has grown quite long. Currently of greatest interest are:

- Roadside Picnic - Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
- So You Want to Be a Robot - A. Merc Rustad
- Technologies of the Self - Haris Durrani
- Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang
(have all of those in hand)

- Hundred Thousand Kingdoms trilogy - N.K. Jemisin
- Culture series - Ian M Banks (should start before October, for reasons)
- Something by Nisi Shawl, more stuff by Sofia Samatar
- Kindred, Parable of the Sower - Octavia Butler (Parable musical is coming back in October)
- Brown Girl in the Ring - Nalo Hopkinton
- The Smoking Mirror - David Bowles
- Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey, since it was this month's free Tor e-book and people in fandom seem to love it, although I'm not sure it's my style
- Any of the stack of 7 Nebula awards compilations I picked up for free at Readercon

etc etc etc

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/357341.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
25 June 2017 @ 08:17 pm
So my computer developed a corrupt registry fileCollapse )

*

ANYWAY, it's nice to have my machine back, with nothing lost. And the fridge and freezer are stocked again after an epic grocery trip, assisted by a rent credit from my landlady. I learned a ton in the After Effects class. mention of parental health issueCollapse ) So life continues okay.

Media has been a bit thin on the ground of late, as you might guess. I'm reading Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy many years after synn gifted them to me; after a slow start, am now ~100 pages into book two and so far so good. Watching Die Another Day and now Skyfall on TV in the background; first time seeing either. Need to get back to source watching for the auction vid, and there's a belated Equinox treat that's finally possible now that the movie I need is out on DVD.

It looks like I'm not bringing any vids to Vividcon this year, which feels weird. But I do get a [personal profile] corbae as a roommate.

*

Good wishes to those of you who are struggling. Greetings to everyone else.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/356665.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
19 June 2017 @ 05:48 pm
Greetings from rural Maine, where the seafood is plentiful, the speed limit is 70 mph and the highway signs warn of possible moose in the road. Local streets include Raspberry Lane and Otter Pond Road.

On the drive up I was thinking about a summer exactly 20 years ago, when my family took a vacation in Acadia and Bar Harbor. I had read Stephen King's The Stand that spring and delighted in seeing signs for Ogunquit, which had featured in the book. But more so, my memory of that trip is of being lost in my imagination as I wrote part of my first really long fanfic, for the Vampire Chronicles, back before I joined any online communities (or at that time, web rings and mailing lists), when our newfangled laptop computer weighed about 10 pounds and I could curl up in the back seat of the minivan and spin any scenarios I wanted. I had written stories and fragments for years by that point, but I'll never forget the rush of liberation I felt for the first time that summer when, in writing a vignette for the Vampire Chronicles, I realized I could write whatever I wanted. That anything I wanted to happen in the story could happen, however sensual/explicit or personal or "weird" or "wrong"; it was that simple. It didn't matter how it might be perceived by others, because I didn't have to show it to others.

This week I'm taking an After Effects course for work, which I expect will also boost my vidding skills. I had visions of attempting to dabble in some fic writing in the evenings, given those geographic echoes, but life had other plans. This post comes to you from one of the campus computer labs because when I got here my laptop decided it didn't want to boot up anymore. TBD whether the school's IT team is willing and able to assist or if I'll need to make my best attempt after returning home. I did back it up about a month ago, but I'd like to at least recover the newer files, if not rescue the whole machine. (It's not my vidding machine, which is a desktop computer, if you're wondering.)

This is extra fun because it comes on the heels of another equipment failure: My apartment refrigerator quit last week. Thank goodness for friends and neighbors who were willing to host my most valuable frozen and fridge items -- at one point my meat and fish were upstairs, my cheese and yogurt across town, and my lunch ingredients at work in the next city over, heh -- and for a responsive landlady who, despite dealing with a health issue at the same time, managed to have a replacement installed within a week. Fingers crossed that I don't return home to a kitchen lake in which swim my defrosted chicken thighs.

Meanwhile, education + excellent food that I didn't have to cook + adult students from across the country + walks through the nearby coastal towns = a good start to the sort-of vacation. Yesterday we saw a groundhog/woodchuck clambering up the wooden steps to someone's deck at dusk and visited a statue of Andre the seal. I went for a swim at the local Y and discovered that despite being in the middle of nowhere, it puts my regular Y to shame. Eight 25-yard lanes instead of three 20-yarders! Actual windows! Water that tastes like water and not chlorine (which is really chlorine bound to everyone's contaminants)! Friendly lifeguards! And the workshop lodgings are country-inn lovely.

Off to dinner in a bit. Hope to check in again soon.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/356522.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
07 June 2017 @ 09:11 pm
Writing feels onerous these days, even emails and comment replies, which is unsettling for someone who has considered herself a writer for 25 years. There has also been some of that periodic "What am I doing? What is this career? What are these hobbies?" mixed in.

I am thinking about small, non-intimidating items to post about.

1. You can take the girl out of school, but...

(Note: mentions [wanted] touch from a male authority figure)

Today I went to an awards ceremony honoring a professor I occasionally work with. When I said congratulations at the cocktail reception, he gave me a hug. This was unexpected but quite welcome, as I have a tiny work crush on him. It was a highlight of the day. It also got me thinking again about student/teacher dynamics and how I haven't yet grown out of wanting to please teachers and professors and be among their favorites. Not that I am a favorite of this particular guy, but it evoked the same rush of pleasure.

Plus, it once again highlighted how I need pleasant touch from fellow humans more often. (To be distinguished from things like the press of strangers' elbows and knees on the bus, which are to be avoided whenever possible.) Continuing on the office theme, one of my editors, a woman I like a lot, put her hand on my shoulder the other week for several seconds while maneuvering around some chairs, and it felt so nice. The last time I recall something similar was a couple of years ago, and I think it was actually the same professor as today. Sometimes when hugs from friends and visits from cuddle-able houseguests don't quite fill the quota, I think about getting a pet. There's a reason I wrote John Sheppard like that in Forty Years and Eight Pounds.

2. Nerds tour Cambridge

Some of you might remember my Finnish friend A. from when we both lived in DC, who now lives in Germany? On Friday her husband V. emailed to say he and two of his students were going to be in Boston the next day on their way to a meeting, and we ended up spending all of Saturday together. Being a bunch of fellow nerds, they wanted to see the Harvard and MIT campuses, so I showed them what I could between bouts of drizzle. The students -- one Spanish and one Italian -- delighted in the diner-style Veggie Galaxy, complete with milkshakes and plain red ketchup bottles. We talked politics and science and idioms and culture and personal stories, gazed at the beautiful old houses on brick-lined streets, paused at coffee shops and riverside benches and the Kendall rooftop garden, and to top off the evening, V. traumatized his students by holding up a pair of women's shorts and shaking his hips at the Gap. (We went to the mall. Apparently jeans are five times cheaper here.)

Anyway, it was a lot of fun, even though it made me miss A. and V. more keenly.

Two things make a post. Let's pretend this didn't take an hour. One day soon maybe we can talk about Wonder Woman and Doctor Who (speaking of student/teacher tropes) and American Gods and fannish projects and the announcement that Vividcon is ending, and and and.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/356302.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
27 April 2017 @ 07:18 pm
I finished Every Heart a Doorway (previous post) and... hm.

Reviewing the story from a personal/subjective perspective, rather than formally assessing its structure and so forth: spoilersCollapse )

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/356033.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
26 April 2017 @ 08:12 pm
Today I started reading the e-book of Every Heart a Doorway that Tor.com is offering for free until midnight Eastern. I hadn't read anything by Seanan McGuire before, despite many of your rave reviews, and the blurbs I'd seen for this book hadn't grabbed me. Well, it turns out that all anyone needed to have said was spoiler? it's mentioned in chapter 1Collapse ) and I'd've been on this much faster!

More on that:Collapse ) *cough* Up my alley, even though it's only a small part of the story.

I'm enjoying general themes and a couple of characterization pointsCollapse ). The prose could be tighter, but I guess it's YA? Whatever: it's working, because I'm already two-thirds of the way through.

For me it's the happy medium between the grotesquerie of Catherynne Valente's Deathless and the -- what's the word for when you need more tension? -- uneventful, I guess, utopia of Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet; but that's a subject for a more intensive post that I do not have the brain cells to write these days.


ETA: thoughts on the ending.

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/355664.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
Today is Patriots' Day in Boston, a.k.a. Marathon Monday, a.k.a. the day most people in the city seem to have off from work and school except us. My usual commute is bisected by the marathon line, so I came home the long way tonight, through the city: a packed train of tourists, Sox and Bruins fans, and an international collection of runners in foil cloaks, some limping and leaning on one another and some looking like they just went for a jog around the block.

This afternoon, per tradition, a few of us walked to the local portion of the marathon course to cheer on our now-former coworker as she ran by. The crowd was quiet enough this year that she heard us, smiled and waved as she continued along the final stretch. (It was hot today and she's injured in two places, yet she still ran the thing in less than 4 hours. Unbelievable.)

*

Friends are great. Some came over for a seder on the first night of Passover; some were in town for lunch this weekend; some will be moving here from far away; some are helping me sift through an enormous amount of source material for this multifandom vid. I've only sent out a handful of emails so far, so if you volunteered for something and haven't heard yet, stay tuned.

Since last we spoke, I've watched or scanned through a whole bunch of movies and short TV shows. Let's see: Crazyhead (fun), Cleverman (difficult but rewarding), Extant (derivative but enjoyable), Travelers (meh), now starting Timeless (fun); the "San Junipero" episode of Black Mirror (not traumatizing, hooray), the Green Fury episode of Powerless (I liked parts of it, but sitcoms are still not my thing) and the new Doctor Who premiere (winning me back over); Pacific Rim (meh), Fantastic Four (2015) (Action Movie formulaic emptiness), Z for Zachariah (great), The Fits (as wonderful as promised). I am not a huge TV fan compared to the general fan community -- some of my dearest and most passionate fandoms have been TV shows, but I'm not well-"read" in TV and don't love the medium as a medium as much as I love movies -- so this endeavor presents an interesting challenge.

There is still a ton to go, but it feels good to have made a dent.

*

Meanwhile, my de-stressor and pre-bedtime media over the last month or so has been a BBC show made for five-year-olds: Sarah & Duck. Have any of you seen it? It's so lovely and chill, wholesome, and often funny. Sarah is curious, imaginative and accepting, and every day seems to be a vacation day, which sounds nice right about now. From time to time the art is really beautiful, too. You never know when the plot will go full-on surreal or stay within the realm of the plausible -- well, given a reality where ducks sort of understand English and ladybugs play small trumpets. I am a particular fan of Duck wagging his tail, Sarah when she gets really excited about things like baby manatees, and Scarf Lady's long-suffering handbag.

I'm almost out of episodes on Netflix, though, and then whatever can take its place?

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/355357.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
24 March 2017 @ 10:05 pm
My promotion actually went through at work! I have a modified title and a tiny raise. My supervisor had coached me to brace myself for nothing, given looming budget cuts across the whole organization, so even a little bit is a nice surprise; and while it's taken three and a half years to claw back up to what I was making at my last job, I still don't regret the move. Best of all, the upgrade doesn't involve doing much more than I'm doing now.

This news was especially welcome on the heels of a weekend where I learned that revisiting season one of BtVS + reading some BtVS fics + washing my hair for the first time since the temporary straightening and discovering that it looked like the worst perm I'd ever gotten back in high school = broody, self-recriminating fugue. Fascinating how a couple of days of rekindling a yearning to be Willow and to have an intense core friend group and mentor and whatnot could send me right back to a college-era headspace like that.

But it faded with a little socializing and a return to the work week. I went to an annual St. Patrick's Day concert with a couple of coworkers. This year's theme involved wandering back and forth through time, from the 1600s to contemporary pieces, tracing some of the threads of the evolution of Celtic music, song and dance. A wonderful local-ish musician, Keith Murphy, led a reinterpretation of the shape-note song Clamanda that I'd grown to love when Ann Leckie mentioned it in a discussion of the music she'd included in Ancillary Justice.

(And my hair is fine now. It just took two showers to get back to normal.)

*

And now today, a vidding zine that Lim has been working on for months has gone live! It's got essays on various aspects of vidding, close readings of vids, ruminations on vidding history, vidder profiles and interviews, stories about copyright appeals, and more, from 16 international contributors.

VIDELICET

*warning: the landing page is a still graphic, but when you click through to the article index pages you will get some animated gifs. details below

Lim asked me to write about the Mashup exhibit, so I expanded my Dreamwidth report from last year to include new stuff about, for example, wrestling with legal questions before accepting the invitation to have "Starships!" included, deciding whether to use my RL or fannish name, brief reflections one year on, and some graphics that tried to capture my general feeling of "OMG" from the months leading up to the gallery opening. The article also features write-ins from Kandy Fong, Lim and [personal profile] heresluck. You can check it out here.

I'm at a local conference this weekend and don't expect to be online much, but what I've seen so far has been fantastic -- dynamic design customized to each article, beyond the compelling subject matter -- and I'm looking forward to reading/watching the rest.

*The All Articles index has animated gifs, although the mobile version doesn't seem to. You can avoid them if you go to the About page, and the Contributors page links to the articles by author. At a glance, the Glitter and Gold essay had a flashy gif (and the History of Vidding essay had a subtler one) that the gif-sensitive might want to be warned about.

My piece was given an auto-playing background video in the "Screening Room" section, and there's a non-flashy gif in the slide show embedded in the "Sh*t Gets Real" section. Also FYI, the section headers font and a few pix are styled with deconstructed red and blue like you would see in 3D materials before you put the glasses on.


Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/355169.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
insufferable know-it-all
16 March 2017 @ 09:35 pm
All that and I forgot to say I've registered for [community profile] vividcon in August and Readercon in July. Readercon's guests of honor this year are Naomi Novik and Nnedi Okorafor. Looking forward to hearing about more attending authors.

*

My hair is straight! For a couple of days, anyway. I went for a haircut with a new, recommended curl-savvy hairdresser who said she wanted to straighten it before cutting it to ensure the cut would be even, which is the opposite of what most people have proposed before. Now it's all swoopy and flippy and when I look in the mirror I actually feel pretty.

(Cue conflicted thoughts about societal notions of beauty and what it means that I like the result of this erasure of one visible aspect of my Eastern European/Russian Jewish heritage, but I think it's just that it frames my face really well right now.)

It hasn't been straight since my friend flat-ironed it 10+ years ago for a Halloween party where I went as Snape, so it is quite a revelation. The results are making me want to do it once in a while now for fun. Er, although I don't own a blow dryer or flat iron.

*

We had a snow day this week. It seems like ages ago already. I had grand plans for watching some vid-related movies & TV but then we lost power for half the day so I read,* wrote and shoveled. 1,800 new words on an old Mary Sue story. I'm liking this trend.

*Lagoon by Okorafor; I would put it behind Binti and ahead of Akata Witch for enjoyment level.

*

I did finally finish Suicide Squad tonight, which was as mediocre and eye-rollingly misogynistic/exploitative as promised, with bonus racism and overkill special effects. Even so, I did enjoy some aspects, including Will Smith, Jay Hernandez and the human Rocket Pop that was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. But no one warned me that Adam Beach spoilerCollapse ).

*

Been seeing lots of movies in the theater, and there are still many coming up that are appealing. Want to post about them properly one of these days. Like Get Out, which was so, so smart, and Logan, and the Oscar-nominated animated short films, and soon Raw, and Life, and possibly Personal Shopper...

Originally posted at http://bironic.dreamwidth.org/354569.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.