August 17th, 2017
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
Technically I am now only one month behind! My ereader died at the end of May, which put a bit of a dent in things, and I may also have forgotten a few titles. I am going to skip the re-reads but will just mention that I am currently eating a lemon bar made from a David Lebovitz recipe, and it is delicious.


Books read, June:

Laura Cumming, The Vanishing Man
Agatha Christie, At Bertram's Hotel
Jiro Taniguchi, Guardians of the Louvre
Phillip Rock, The Passing Bells

Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish, Siblings without Rivalry (re-read)
David Lebovitz, My Paris kitchen: recipes and stories (re-read


Laura Cumming, The Vanishing Man: In Pursuit of Velázquez. This was my book of the month; it's an excellent nonfiction piece that is a memoir of Velázquez, the elusive Spanish painter, John Snare, a 19th century bookseller who discovered a painting that he was convinced was by him, and Cumming herself, dealing with the loss of her artist father. It is vivid and excellent written and made me do a lot of Google image searching to see the art. Just fantastic.

Agatha Christie, At Bertram's Hotel. One of the Christies in which this modern world is rather poor stuff, but redeemed somewhat by having nostalgia for the past be a plot point rather than just an authorial view. The plot is a little too unlikely even allowing for that. Miss Marple is definitely slowing down, though, and it slowed me down as well because I don't want to get to the end of her books and, by extension, her.

Jiro Taniguchi, Guardians of the Louvre. This is part of the Louvre Collection, commissioned graphic novels/manga/bandes dessinées by various artists. I haven't read any of the others, although I've heard quite a bit about Nicolas De Crécy's Glacial Period. This has a Japanese artist alone in Paris who develops a fever, visits the Louvre and has hallucinogenic (or are they?) interactions with its art. I like Taniguchi's work but this is a thin plot, and although it has a lot of nice moments it doesn't have the depth of the world from, say The Walking Man or A Distant Neighbourhood.

And fuck. I just checked Wikipedia for title names and he died in February. Dammit.

Phillip Rock, The Passing Bells. World War I family saga novel that takes its title from a WWI poem that is not Wilfred Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth, although I got that stuck in my head every time I looked at the cover. Covers roughly 1914 to 1920, about an upper class English family and those who interact with them. I liked but didn't love it. It is good at showing the scope of the war - the different fronts, the levels of responsibility (and the failures of command) - but the characters don't always work for me, especially the women (there's a seduction scene, supposedly from the woman's point of view, where we are suddenly very much inside the male character's surprised excitement at finding she's topless under her jacket). It is the first in a trilogy but it hasn't made me want to race out and track down the next two (it was published in 1978, so they're all out).
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
posted by [personal profile] alexseanchai at 12:48am on 17/08/2017
hi does someone want to explain why in #dreamwidth
(12:42:01 AM) AlexSeanchai left the room (quit: K-Lined).
because if I did something wrong someone needs to fucking inform me, and if something else is wrong (I notice rodgort got the same treatment one second sooner) then let me flag it up for y'all who #dreamwidth IRC

ETA: I'm back in
ilanarama: my footies in my finnies (snorkeling)
posted by [personal profile] ilanarama at 06:38pm on 16/08/2017 under , ,
In case you're wondering why I haven't been posting, it's because I'm not doing anything worthy of posting about. Yeah, I had great plans after the Kendall Mountain Run, but maybe I shouldn't have posted, at the end of my race report:
Now, my legs hurt like you wouldn't believe, though I don't think I actually injured anything, just overused the muscles of my quads and glutes. Hopefully everything will feel good by next Saturday, when we head out into the wilderness for a week of backpacking. Then it will be time to turn my exercise attention to mountain biking in preparation for the Telluride-to-Moab ride in September. But I'll still be running 3-4 days a week, including attending the club track workouts, and hopefully by the time October comes around, I'll be ready to run a decent half marathon, and maybe even sign up for a late fall/early winter marathon.
Because in fact I did injure something. Gory details. )

Anyway, that's why I've been boring lately. :-( But in happier news, we'll be driving our camper van to Wyoming to see the eclipse, heading out this weekend! Originally we were going to combine it with some mtb'ing, but obviously if we do any, I'm just going to ride around on a dirt road as I'm not yet ready to switch to the real bike. This will be my second total eclipse, as I saw the March 1970 eclipse with my family:

March 1970 eclipse March 1970 eclipse

Er, I'm the six-year-old moppet wrapped in a blanket. The reason all the telescopes are there is that my father worked for NASA Goddard, and so this was a group of his co-workers and their families, who had all driven to just over the VA-NC line to get to totality.
shanaqui: Sora from Kingdom Hearts. Text: running out of time. ((Sora) Time)
Just removed access/subscriptions from a couple of people I haven't talked to in ages and who didn't subscribe back. Then I looked at my list and felt some despair, because I want to sort out more of that stuff and tidy up my userinfo, and it looks like effort.

Effort is hard.

So if I mistakenly removed you and you do drop by here, or you just like following what I'm up to, or I never gave you access when I said I would, or whatever, let me know.
Mood:: 'irritated' irritated
Music:: Thea Gilmore - Rise
August 16th, 2017
isis: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] isis at 04:59pm on 16/08/2017 under , , ,
What I've recently finished reading:

Finished: Will Save the Galaxy for Food by Yahtzee Croshaw. An entertaining pastiche of Golden Age of Sci-Fi novels, about what happens after the Golden Age of Star Pilots is brought to an end by the invention of quantum tunneling space travel which eliminates the need for spaceships and pilots. It's a light, easy read, gently funny, though there are a few plotholes big enough to sail a spaceship through. I originally chose it to read because the cover and the tone of the blurb made me think of Keith Laumer's Retief books; it's not quite as full of weird aliens and odd customs, but there's a definite Retiefishness about it.

Abandoned: Terraforming Earth - Phase 1: "The Plagues Era" (FutureScape, #1) by Dean C. Moore, an Instafreebie book. Technically better than a lot of the other self-pubbed books I've tried to read (though it still has its share of typos and incorrect words), but ultimately I found it boring. Not enough depth to the characters for me to care about them. Abandoned 15% in.

What I'm currently reading:

The Girl in the Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2) by Katherine Arden. I really liked the old-Rus fairytail world of the first book, and it's a delight to return to. This time, Vasilisa is dressed as, and masquerading as, a boy (♥), while bandits and Tatars menace the countryside. (You see, [livejournal.com profile] hamsterwoman, being nicknamed Vasya has proven prophetic!) So far I'm about halfway in and particularly enjoying the gentle fantasy aspects of the story.

What I'm reading next:

I'm planning to hit the library for the Beth Cato books I mentioned last week, though actually I'll probably finish my current read while we're in Wyoming eclipse-hunting, so I'll likely be reading something already on my phone first.

What I'm currently watching:

Game of Thrones. We're about a week behind but may catch up tonight. The special effects are very cool, but honestly the thing that impresses me the most is the geology of Dragonstone. What amazing tilted rocks! (Unless they're CGI...)

What I'm currently playing:

I picked up Dragon Age: Origins for $5 from a GOG sale a while ago, and although I usually spend most of my time outdoors and active in the summer, I'm unable to do so at the moment for injury reasons, so I started playing. It's fun so far though unsurprisingly I die a lot.

What I'm currently writing:

[community profile] crossovering: Well into my assignment, which is a lot of fun.
[community profile] remixrevival: Um. Still dithering about which story to remix.
[community profile] femslashex: MUST WRITE LETTER AND SIGN UP.
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
Fish
Keiki squats down to look at the fish in the polar bear enclosure at the Vienna Tiergarten.

The Schoenbrunn should definitely make the top ten of every visitor attraction list of Vienna, if not the top three. It’s the gigantic former summer palace of the Hapsburgs, and the grounds alone merit at least a half-day stroll to explore fully. There are gardens, fountains, hidden playgrounds, an enormous glasshouse full of palm trees, and even a zoo.

Despite having visited the Schoenbrunn grounds many times, I’d never been to the zoo, which is allegedly the oldest in the Western world (founded in 1752). Now, with two small children, one of whom is animal-obsessed, I had good reason to go. The children and I set out early one morning to travel via the Viennese underground to the palace.

Humuhumu was keen to learn how to navigate the transport system. She got very good at spotting the way to the correct train lines, and proudly announced when the next train would be arriving after we got to the platforms.

It took us 45 minutes to get from our temporary abode to the Schoenbrunn and, conveniently, it was just about Cake O’clock when we arrived. We detoured around the palace entrance and stopped off at an Aida Konditorei, a chain of inexplicably pink cafés that serve extremely nice cakes, coffees and hot chocolates (apart from the one near the opera house – avoid that one; everyone who works there is sick of tourists and very grumpy).

We walked into the Aida and chorused “Guten Morgen” at the round-faced, unsmiling woman behind the counter. She broke into a beaming grin and showed us to the table next to a tiny play area containing toys and books, which the children pounced upon. (Throughout the trip, I encouraged the children to greet everyone we met in German, to say please and thank you in German, to order their food using the German words and, when I felt confident in my knowledge of the right phrases, I coached them to make requests in German. I was astonished at the abundance of goodwill toward us that this produced.) Humuhumu ordered her hot chocolate and cake in German, and was rewarded with an additional pink meringue, which she received with an unprompted “Danke schoen”. When we left, Keiki crowing “Wiedersehen” over my shoulder with his dimpliest smile, the server came out from round the counter and gave each of the children an extra biscuit, which, to be honest, they didn’t really need after all that sugar!

Full of energy, we bounded into the grounds of the Schoenbrunn and raced around whilst waiting for the grandparents to join us at the entrance to the Tiergarten (Zoo). As vast as the Schoenbrunn grounds are, they are not big enough to house a comprehensive collection of the world’s animals, so cleverly the Tiergarten is focused on a limited number of species and provided them with luxurious accommodation.

Keiki and Humuhumu loved the place, particularly Keiki. Once he spotted the meerkat enclosure, we couldn’t get him to finish his lunch. Neither could we readily tear him away from the penguins. In fact, Granddad had a bit of a job keeping Keiki from clambering into their pond to join them. We communed with the seals. We watched a polar bear chewing meditatively on a traffic cone. And, of course, Humuhumu found a climbing wall and had to try everything.

It was a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon, and we will certainly return to the Tiergarten on our next trip to Vienna.

Further photos beneath the cut.
+++ )
marinarusalka: Wasp from Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (Avengers EMH: Wasp)
The Boy proposing to me at the top of the Eiffel Tower last night.

I said yes, duh.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 12:28pm on 16/08/2017 under ,
Recently read:
  • Dzur by Steven Brust.

    I didn't love this; I'm not sure how much it's a weaker member of the series and how much it's me. It is book 10 in a set of 19, of which the last five are still to be written. I may have left it too long since I read the previous volumes, or maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it. I decided I couldn't be bothered following all the complex allusions to the meta-structure of the whole series, and as a single novel it's never more than just ok. I didn't find Vlad's voice or Loiosh's asides witty, and the pacing dragged, and I didn't care about the mystery. Because I hadn't been following the chronology properly, the twist at the end wasn't a delightful surprise, it just unsatisfyingly didn't make sense.

    When I was reading 50 books a year, I intended to read the whole series, because both the individual novels and the way they fit together into a complex whole appeal to me. Now that I read more like 15 or 20, I'm thinking I may drop this. Not sure; one weaker book doesn't mean the whole series isn't worth bothering with.

  • A taste of honey by Kai Ashante Wilson. This was a Hugo-nominated novella, which meant that several of my friends read it, and were enthusiastic about it. So I ended up reading the copy from my Hugo packet on the way back from Worldcon, which is not exactly in the spirit of things. And I regret not reading it in time to vote for it, not that it would have made much difference since McGuire's Every heart a doorway (which I wasn't keen on) won by miles.

    Anyway, this is a really amazing fantasy romance story. It's beautifully written, great characters, twisty, thought-provoking plot. The worldbuilding is really deep; looking it up it turns out this is a companion novella in the setting of a novel, which I'm now definitely going to seek out. I had dismissed Wilson's Sorcerer of the Wildeeps mainly because the name is so clunky; I assumed it was parodic or just really generic swords and sorcery.

    It's hard to describe exactly what's so great about AToH without spoilers, but it's a really moving romance, and has a lot to say about choices and sacrifices made for love. [personal profile] jack thought it maybe needed some content warnings; some of the content is about homophobia and abusive parenting. To me it didn't feel like misery porn, it felt as if it centred its variously Queer characters and described some of the bad things in their life as well as the good. But I can imagine some readers finding it hard going.

    Up next: The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin. I'd been meaning to read this, though I'm a little scared of what I've heard about it, and I've now bumped it up my list since the sequel won a second Hugo.
  • Mood:: 'okay' okay
    location: Olorum
    Music:: Enya: Orinoco flow
    August 15th, 2017
    alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
    posted by [personal profile] alexseanchai at 01:18pm on 15/08/2017
    [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith is Poetry Fishbowling again—theme is "anything goes". which I think means prompt any damn thing you've the mind to but I'm taking her a bit more literally: my first prompt is "anarchy".
    alexanderr: (Default)
    posted by [personal profile] alexanderr at 08:52am on 15/08/2017
    в июле в Вермонте произошел DNF, не завершил дистанцию. сошел на 58й миле на остановке под названием Margaritaville. самое смешное во всей этой истории это было то, что у меня было полно сил. я даже долго не хотел садиться. стоял, ходил там немного пока ждал машины которая отвозит на старт/финиш. другие сошедшие были в гораздо более плачевном состоянии. например, там один лежал под одеялом, бледно зеленый, двигаться не мог совсем. но сходить упорно не хотел и номер не отдавал. как я понял он там лежал уже давно. в итоге под его слабые протесты его погрузили в тот же автобус, куда я сам легко запрыгнул. а мне, наоборот, никто не верил, что решил сойти. номер не хотели брать и вообще прогоняли. you don't look tired, you don't look like you're in pain. времени у меня тоже был вагон, до закрытия пункта питания было еще 4 часа. мне предлагали отдохнуть, подкрепиться, и в путь. на что я мог только горько улыбнуться. обе ноги страшно болели в районе щикилотки, но впереди. очень похоже на shin splints, но при этом они обе страшно покраснели изнутри и начали распухать. распухать они потом продолжали еще долго и через несколько дней достигли довольно больших размеров, в обувь не влезали.

    дело в том, что я не должен был стартовать вообще. это было большой ошибкой.

    Lyme )
    marinarusalka: (Default)
    posted by [personal profile] marinarusalka at 06:30am on 15/08/2017 under ,
    So British Airways has decided to add some extra stress to our Paris trip by losing The Boy's luggage for three freakin' days. Every day they kept saying, "Oh, we found your bag, it's out for delivery to your hotel!" and then no delivery would happen. Until if finally did happen -- at midnight last night. Sigh.

    Despite this, we've gotten some good sightseeing in before I had to start attending the conference. Sunday we successfully navigated the subway and train system and got ourselves to Versailles. In retrospect, it was probably a bad idea to go on a weekend, as the crowds were beyond insane. The line to get into the main palace was three hours long, which we weren't willing to do, so we did the gardens and the smaller Trianon palaces. There's Grand Trianon, a pink marble palace that Lois XIV built as a private place to have nooky with his mistress, and Petit Trianon, which was Marie Antoinette's idea of a quaint country cottage. Both are very pretty and charming, and give a pretty good idea of why the French Revolution happened.

    Yesterday we did the Arc de Triomphe, which required climbing a ridiculous number of steps (284!) to get to the top but was totally worth it for the view. Then we followed up with a visit to Notre Dame.

    Here, have some pictures.

    Grand Trianon:


    Arc de Triomphe:


    Eiffel Tower:


    Notre Dame:


    nanila: (me: art)
    posted by [personal profile] nanila at 01:26pm on 15/08/2017 under , , ,
    In early July, the bloke & I went to Amsterdam for a couple of days for my (very) belated birthday celebrations. His parents kindly looked after the children so we could have our first holiday alone together since they were born.

    One of the things we did was go to an art museum and wander around for a couple of hours. This is not a thing you can do with small children, unless you have imprisoned them in a pram, and then there would (not unreasonably) be screaming.

    I’d previously been to both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The bloke had never been to the latter, but as it was the height of summer, it was not a good time to go. The place cannot cope with the number of visitors it receives, and unless you book days in advance, you can’t get in. When you do, you still have to queue, and you end up shuffling in a slow-moving crush of people past all of the artwork. It’s not a great experience. We opted, therefore, to go to one we’d never been in: the Stedelijk Museum, which is dedicated to modern art.

    I really enjoyed the collection. It was well curated and I now have a little list of new (to me) artists to keep my eyes peeled for in the London exhibitions.

    Photographer Zanele Muholi takes photos of LGBTQ+ community members in Africa. I definitely want a book of her work. It was a little irritating to find, at the end of our visit, that of all the special exhibitions on display, hers was the only one without a corresponding product available in the shop. No books, no postcards, nothing. Hmph.

    20170711_123055
    From her “Brave Beauties” series.

    +++ )
    August 14th, 2017
    purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)




    I've no pictures from last week so have another from the week before. This is the approach to Housesteads fort from the East. Imagine what that must have been like when both wall and fort walls were more than a couple of feet high!
    alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
    posted by [personal profile] alexseanchai at 12:25pm on 14/08/2017
    Did I ever tell you about my high school Latin teacher? Ms. Kit Smoot. Studying with her I learned so much and had such fun and—

    I wanted to tell her so many things, about how she helped get me to where I am today. But when I visited the school she was never there.

    She died last night.

    (I hadn't realized she meant so much to me.)

    May her memory be eternal.
    isis: (squid etching)
    Three links make a post.

    Hamilton (but with sharks) - Four pages of artwork for the musical, if the characters were sharks. This is freakin' adorable, and I want to see the rest!

    Romance novel titles generated by a neural network trained on Harlequin books - These are hilarious, and I could not make it all the way through without laughing out loud. Christmas Pregnant Paradise! The Sheikh’s Marriage Sheriff! Virgin Viking! Some of these have been photoshopped into book-cover images, for extra fun.

    What is Skyr? - This is a year old, but I found it following a link from a current WaPo article about Greek yogurt, which mentioned skyr (calling it 'Icelandic yogurt') and then added, with the link, that it is technically cheese. As I have Siggi's skyr with fruit and my homemade granola for breakfast most days, I found this fascinating. (Siggi's doesn't use rennet.)

    And have a bonus Lucy, helping to make the bed (as cats do): under the cut )
    August 12th, 2017
    bluemeridian: (WW :: No Man's Land)
    Given the state of the world and events in the U.S. in particular, an emergency fluff rec list was called for today. There's a lot of soul-destroying images floating around right now and while these words and sentiments aren't new, we're all getting it thrown in our faces and need some good stuff to refuel our souls. So I've tossed together a dozen recs for fic, art, and vids that are sweet, fluffy, uplifting, and otherwise happy making. If anyone feels inspired to do something similar - whether it's a happy making collection of your own work or other folks - then this would be an excellent time to do so.

    Fandoms below the cut include Avengers, Hawkeye (Matt Fraction run), Spider-Man, Avatar: the Last Airbender, Harry Potter, Yuri on Ice, Leverage, The Martian, the Tumblr phenomenon of Wacky Human Shenanigans in Space, and an short but adorable original fic.

    Recs! )
    nanila: me (Default)
    posted by [personal profile] nanila at 09:04pm on 12/08/2017 under , ,
    Telstar
    Handsome tuxie sticks his tongue out at you from his sunny perch atop the wood shed.
    Music:: Athletics world championships
    alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
    posted by [personal profile] alexseanchai at 03:09pm on 12/08/2017 under
    alexseanchai: Disney's Belle reading in a chair, sideways (Belle reading)
    Headcanon: Belle and Beast are both queer as fuck.

    In fact that's part of the reason for the Gaston shitshow—in the animated, that is, I have only seen the live-action once and I was too busy yelling about LeFou after to think of anything like this—anyway. Belle would rather have one of the blonde triplets than Gaston, though frankly that's not much of a choice if none of the four have anything interesting-to-Belle to talk about! And Gaston kind of knows all of that! But Belle's bi, not lesbian. Beast? Also bi.
    alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
    posted by [personal profile] alexseanchai at 08:45am on 12/08/2017 under

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