uncorked

Aug. 18th, 2017 06:07 pm
philomytha: girl in woods with a shaft of sunlight falling on her (Default)
[personal profile] philomytha
This fic WILL NOT STOP. I have passed 10,000 words and it just keeps spawning new complications every time I think I've got something nailed down. It was only meant to be about 2-3000 words and the whole second half was going to be sorted out in about three paragraphs. I'm blaming MacDonnell on the Heights for some of it because it is just such a Barrayaran military song and every time it comes up on my playlist I come up with a new problem for Vorhalas to wrangle with. You know that on Barrayar they love songs about the loyal lieutenant who takes up the standard when the great general falls, and gets killed just before he can win the battle and ends up buried beside his general. But it feels like I've got about three years' worth of words coming uncorked all of a sudden; I'm fairly sure I've written more this month than I did in all of 2015. The finish line is in sight now, maybe, but there's still a lot to sort out.

The current tricky bit is, what are the practical and legal consequences if a serving officer's District Count orders him to disobey his military superiors? I ask because I had Vorhalas do this in the current draft, and then when I was writing a bit of dialogue slightly later Vorhalas outright said he would never do that, so now I have to go back and fix it, because of course he wouldn't. But I'm inviting speculation here - what would happen on Barrayar if some hypothetical count and some hypothetical officer did this, to both the officer and the count?

ot: Huge Heyer Sale

Aug. 18th, 2017 10:26 am
filkferengi: filk fandom--all our life's a circle (Default)
[personal profile] filkferengi posting in [community profile] vorkosigan
There's a huge sale on Georgette Heyer novels over on bn.com and amazon. Lots & lots of screens of e-books for 2.99 each.

Squee!

Schadenfreude on weck

NSFW Aug. 17th, 2017 05:19 pm
petra: A man looking superior and pointing at a woman (Troy Barnes - Yeah really)
[personal profile] petra
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ot: Ursula Vernon in Iceland

Aug. 17th, 2017 10:31 am
filkferengi: filk fandom--all our life's a circle (Default)
[personal profile] filkferengi posting in [community profile] vorkosigan
Ursula Vernon, who just won the Best Novelette Hugo, stopped in Iceland en route to WorldCon. She was with her husband Kevin, his cousin, Amy, & their friend Tina. They storified the trip, here:

https://storify.com/RebelsHeart/ursula-vernon-and-friends-vs-iceland

There're lots of gorgeous photos & great snark.

(no subject)

Aug. 16th, 2017 05:42 pm
skygiants: the princes from Into the Woods, singing (agony)
[personal profile] skygiants
It's hard for me not to unfavorably compare every Isabelle Hollington Gothic to Trelawny, the one with the identical non-identical constantly-swapping twins, but The Marchington Inheritance runs a reasonable second for batshit plot resolutions.

Our Heroine is a children's book illustrator named Avril, which would be fine if she were not ALSO notable for her family reputation as a Strung-Out Sulky Counter-Culture Fight-The-Power Teen Rebel with constant Rage Against the Preppy machine, which meant that I had "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi" stuck on rotate in my head for the entire duration of this novel. THANKS, ISABELLE HOLLAND.

spoilers are full of hilariously plausibly annoying children )

Cold turkey on the uppers

NSFW Aug. 16th, 2017 08:04 am
petra: A blonde woman with both hands over her face (Britta - Twohanded facepalm)
[personal profile] petra
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(no subject)

Aug. 14th, 2017 10:29 pm
raven: white text on green and yellow background: "ten points from Gryffindor for destroying my soul" (sbp - destroying my soul)
[personal profile] raven
I am tired and wound up about my book, which seems to be my default state of being at present. (The book is now necessarily modified, "the stupid book", "the thrice-damned book", "the bloody book", "the book that I HATE and is DREADFUL and the BANE OF MY LIFE" etc.) Part of it is that my confidence as a writer has been significantly dented as everything else in my life has been, recently: I also don't think much of self as lawyer, friend, etc., and I'm working on it. (I am doing much, much better than I was. I'm very grateful. But piecing one's life back together turns out to take time.)

I'm also not doing well with reasonable self-care related to the book, which I should, because finishing the version that went on agent submission - in a several-month, every-spare-minute sprint - was what precipitated my last visit to the bottom of the well. (Perfectly nice as wells go, but not one to revisit.) But I keep wanting to just finish it and get it over and winding myself up in the process. And of course I'm aware that I have read it approx fourteen thousand times over the last two and a half years and naturally I'm seeing nothing but flaws? And perhaps other people might not think it is the worst thing ever committed to paper? In my more rational moments I think this. And yet, oh my god, I hate this book. I want to bundle it up and throw it into aforesaid well and write SOMETHING ELSE. It never gets less ridiculous. I spent four days trying to think of a 1940s-appropriate preferably-funny insult? And it had to be two syllables because otherwise the sentence wouldn't scan? And then [personal profile] tau_sigma suggested "strumpet", because she's a perfect human? And all of that hungama was about literally one word? etc.

Etc. Two months ago I was about as a far from a clean, well-lighted place as I could be. And now I'm not, but nothing terrible will happen if I don't finish this book soon. (Or ever? Like, it would be sub-optimal after two and half years, but I'm not writing Hamlet here.) And nothing terrible will happen if it's not as good as I wanted it to be. And nothing terrible will happen if I do it in ten-minute, 100-word chunks. This is quite a rubbish pep talk but there you are, it's what I've got, and it's better than the alternative.

In other news: I'm enjoying being back out in the world. I'm enjoying seeing friends and going for walks and learning to love this city again. I miss my legal practice and my Gaelic. I'm looking forward to returning to both in the autumn; I'm ready for the new terms and the start of the year.

(no subject)

Aug. 12th, 2017 05:51 pm
skygiants: Clopin from Notre-Dame de Paris; text 'sans misere, sans frontiere' (comment faire un monde)
[personal profile] skygiants
I just finished Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, which is definite proof that a book-length allegory CAN ALSO be a coherent and compelling novel. (Is this a Kazuo Ishiguro callout post? MAYBE.)

The easiest and most facile way to describe The Underground Railroad is basically like Underground the TV show meets Snowpiercer. I mean, significantly less silly than Snowpiercer, which is a deeply silly movie -- but insofar as it's a train-based road trip for your life in which every stop is an Allegory On the Evils of Class and Capitalism, like that, except in this case it's an allegory on America's original sins.

The book's heroine is Cora, a woman who escapes from a deep-South plantation on an enormous hidden network of rails and tunnels, gaining and losing allies along the way. Each time she gets off she thinks that maybe she's found a place where she can stop and live a human life, and each place she visits reflects a different knife-angle of the generally horrific history of race in America -- alternate histories, but real ones.

Allegory aside, Cora is very much a real and complex and compelling character, and the places she visits have heft to them. Cora's identity is bound up in the legend and mystery of her mother Mabel, the one slave in the plantation's history (before Cora) who was able to escape and vanish completely; she's a real person, too, and so are all the other perspectives that we glimpse briefly in interstitial interludes along Cora's journey. It's a really good book. It's a very page-turning book, and although it's (obviously) extremely grim at times, it's not actually a hopeless book.
petra: Barbara Gordon smiling knowingly (Default)
[personal profile] petra posting in [community profile] vorkosigan
[personal profile] jamjar and I have had conversations on many Vorkosigan-adjacent topics. Here are two of them, for anyone amused by nattering about crossovers. In the first, we postulate the BBC series Blackadder as a Barrayaran folk tradition akin to pantomime. In the second, the theme is "What would happen if Aral Vorkosigan fell through a wormhole into the American Revolution?"

(no subject)

Aug. 10th, 2017 08:49 pm
skygiants: Yong Ha from Sungkyunkwan Scandal (trollface)
[personal profile] skygiants
To be honest, I didn't really expect to love the kdrama Descendants of the Sun, a romantic melodrama about a special forces soldier and an ER surgeon. I'm skeptical about romanticizing the military! Contemporary melodrama is not my thing! Probably there were going to be too many dudes all over the place everywhere anyway!

OH, HOW WRONG I WAS. Descendants of the Sun is a GEM.

Screencaps cannot capture the majesty )

The West Wing reboot for our times

NSFW Aug. 10th, 2017 09:01 pm
petra: A cartoon penguin standing in dandelions thinking, "Dandelion break." (Bloom County - Dandelion Break)
[personal profile] petra
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philomytha: text: Working Together for a Stranger London (Stranger London)
[personal profile] philomytha
"Cub, please stop teaching the chickens how to use the catflap."

Yes, there is a story behind this. Our neighbours are away again, and they've expanded their menagerie so it now includes half a dozen chickens as well as their cats, fish and small furries. Their back garden isn't fully secure and they don't like them free-ranging without someone around to keep an eye on things, but fortunately their back garden is also full of toys and swings and stuff, so Cub and I were hanging out there all afternoon and Cub was following the chickens around and jumping on the trampoline (and I somehow sat down and wrote a thousand words of Vorhalas having very reluctant adventures, which is a story for another day) and then I spotted Cub holding the catflap open and trying to lure the chickens inside.

Now cats and chickens don't get on the way you might expect. Which is to say, I saw the biggest tomcat in the neighbourhood streak out of the chicken's territory like his tail was on fire, chased by the smallest bantam at the bottom of the pecking order flapping her wings and squawking. There's no cockerel, just laying hens, and I hadn't expected them to be quite so, well, aggressive, but you can see the common history with dinosaurs sometimes when you watch chickens. So anyway, I don't think the cats would be happy if the chickens started using their catflap, and also I'm not sure how impressed our neighbour would be when I explained why she had chickenshit in her kitchen. Fortunately Cub was diverted into trying to see if the chickens would come and roost on his arms if he held them out straight (no, though when he sat on the deckchair they sat next to him) and so the chickens do not know how to use a catflap. Yet. They're brighter than I expected, and I wouldn't be surprised if they figured it out eventually.

For pets, I have to say chickens are by far the best value. Cub is besotted with them and got hours of fun out of watching them pootle around the garden, having dustbaths (chickens really love their dustbaths, one of them spent a full hour wallowing it it) and pecking at things and picking blackberries for them to eat, plus on top of that you get fresh eggs every day. You have to feed them and pick up their poo and all that stuff, but you have to do that with cats too and you don't get eggs. Also they eat slugs, snails and other garden pests, solving my problem of how I turn slugs into food, oh, and they adore dandelions so much there aren't any left in my neighbour's garden. So I may be tempted in that direction eventually. I think I'll wait till our neighbour takes her Christmas holiday and see whether they're as much fun in December before taking the plunge, though.
sohotrightnow: Thor with a big smile on his face. ([avengers] god of thunder and :D)
[personal profile] sohotrightnow
So, the highlight of July was SDCC! As always, this was a delight, though not as much fun as last year, since Mom couldn't make it (she promised Rita a year of childcare, and BiL's parental leave ended the week before). Dad also kept procrastinating on calling his sister to ask if we could stay in their condo again, to the point where when I discovered he still hadn't asked, just assumed, it was too late for us to get in the hotel registration as a backup. So by the time he finally got around to it, his sister said we were welcome to stay again! Except she and her husband would be there for part of the weekend, too. The place is massive (EAT THE RICH AND TAKE THEIR CONDOS), so there was plenty of room for all of us, but it meant being on our best behavior and, as Dad thanked me for doing, discreetly leaving the room when conversation turned to politics. They're ~genteel~ enough to think Trump is vulgar, at least, and we were able to politely agree to disagree on some things, and even agree on a couple of things, so that was a win, too.

BUT it was still lots of fun anyway; I spent a ton of money, in keeping with tradition, and got some new art (I am gonna run out of wall space, but probably not anytime soon since I still haven't found frames for everything from last year) and other goodies. The main panel I wanted to get to was the Star Trek: Discovery panel in Ballroom 20, which I'd told Mom I'd at least try and get into on her behalf, since she couldn't go. The line was dreadful when I got there and I wasn't optimistic, but it moved much quicker than I expected and I actually ended up getting in three panels ahead.

DISCOVERY LOOKS SO GREAT, UGHHHHHHHH I HAD SO MANY FEELINGS.

Panel highlights )

Then there was some hilarity on Monday because my father had misread the tickets for our flight home. So we arrived at 8:30 for a 10:30 AM flight, went to check our bags...and discovered that, in fact, our flight was for 10:30 PM. To be honest, I just burst out laughing when we learned, but Dad and Doug spent most of the day sulking. I mean, it was annoying, sure, but it wasn't that bad. It's better, as Doug pointed out once we finally got home, than the time he was going to visit our parents in Australia, misread the tickets, and realized he was more than twelve hours late for his flight. I ended up finding a movie theater not far from the airport, the fancy kind with big reclining seats, good food, and alcohol, so we took a Lyft over there and saw Baby Driver. I had a couple of excellent Moscow Mules, which improved my tolerance for their sulking, and the movie was lots of fun.

I spent the following weekend popping large amounts of sparkling wine with Mom in our relief over the healthcare vote. CRIPES I can't even tell you how fucking relieved we were, Internet. And that Monday, the 31st, I took a half-day from work, and went downtown to have lunch with [personal profile] newredshoes. We have been friends for aaaaaages but have never actually met in person before and IT WAS SO GREAAAAAAT, we had brunch at Kramerbooks (and cocktails when they switched over to their lunch menu) and talked for ages and bought books and it was just a total delight.

So, all in all, July went pretty well, I would say. Well done, universe, that's definitely made it a bit easier to bear August.

(no subject)

Aug. 9th, 2017 09:57 pm
skygiants: Kyoko from Skip Beat! making a mad flaily dive (oh flaily flaily)
[personal profile] skygiants
I enjoyed Martha Wells' Wheel of the Infinite but I am also pretty sure that my reading experience was devised in exactly the wrong way to allow me to appreciate the plot as a coherent narrative.

I read the first half of the book on the plane between San Francisco and Chicago, which meant I got all the fantastic initial setup: a long-suffering middle-aged heroine, exiled from her home city for accidentally getting three husbands killed while following the wrong prophetic vision, accidentally rescues a cute swordsman in a brief break from protecting a plucky theater troupe from a cursed stage puppet!

Then the cute young swordsman immediately decides to be her joint boyfriend and bodyguard because he has nothing else to do with his life, and she's like "he followed me home, can I keep him? ...wait I'm an exiled superpowered divine avatar, I literally don't have to ask anyone else, I CAN JUST KEEP HIM :D" and then he and she and the theater troupe all go back to her home city to sort out a potentially apocalyptic problem in the annual setting-the-world-in-order religious ritual and also, very importantly, get the theater puppet un-cursed, and at about this point I got to Chicago and although I was enjoying myself immensely I didn't really have time to read another word until I was on a flight back to Boston.

So at this point I opened my Kobo again and spoilers! )

Waiting

NSFW Aug. 9th, 2017 09:38 am
petra: Woman in Roman garb looking concerned (Atia - Worried)
[personal profile] petra
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(no subject)

Aug. 7th, 2017 10:55 pm
skygiants: Nellie Bly walking a tightrope among the stars (bravely trotted)
[personal profile] skygiants
Despite its incredibly bland title, Into the Darkness turned out to be one of the most interesting Barbara Michaels gothics I've yet read.

This is one of the ones where Barbara Michaels decides to break the "girl meets house" mold and go instead with "girl meets career." Our Heroine Meg Venturi, called back to her hometown for her grandfather's funeral, finds that he's left her half of the family jewelry business; the other half has (of course) been left to his dark and brooding protege, whom half the town is convinced murdered Meg's grandfather and the other half the town thinks was probably just blackmailing him.

Obviously, this is Bachelor A. Bachelor B is Meg's annoying fake cousin (there's always a cousin in there somewhere), Bachelor C is the boring lawyer who keeps trying to mansplain Meg's inheritance to her, and Bachelor D is the married businessman that Meg has been having an affair with but who rapidly becomes irrelevant to the plot.

Meanwhile, Meg's grandmother keeps cheerfully sharing conversations that she had overnight with the ghost of Meg's dead grandfather, the housekeeper will not stop pretending to be Mrs. Danvers, someone keeps mailing threatening antique jewelry to the house, there's another pile of probably-stolen and certainly-priceless antique jewelry hidden in the back of Meg's closet, and every so often there will be a murder attempt. Throughout it all, Meg comes to two realizations: a.) she really, genuinely loves the jewelry business and b.) she is really, genuinely sick of Various Bachelors treating her like a Gothic ingenue.

Spoilers under the cut )

(no subject)

Aug. 6th, 2017 11:40 pm
skygiants: pearl from SU, looking suspiciously down the length of a sword (terrifying renegade pearl)
[personal profile] skygiants
Over the past two weeks I have gone straight from a professional conference to a wedding to VividCon, lugged my roommate's oversized suitcase across four cities, hung out with innumerable incredibly delightful people, seen an equally large number of really stellar vids, visited at least six used bookstores and bought at least ten Gothic novels.

Now I am home and exhausted, so I'm just going to leave my rushed but heartfelt VividCon premiere here and go to bed:

Title: Clean Light (music by The Mowgli's)



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(with thanks to [personal profile] aquamirage for valuable early feedback!)
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