Tell me awesome, worrisome, trivial, or terrifying details about modern Rome?
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Retrieved from a conversational tangent, last, night, that went in a different direction. What art are you willing to travel for--that is, spend longer on the road than you do experiencing the art? For me, this usually means that something is not only transcendently wonderful, but relatively rare. The three that I can think of are
I would travel for Cirque du Soleil, but the barrier is more often money than distance. I would travel for Shakespeare if I had to, or for Hudson River School paintings, trilobite fossils, or new books by my favorite authors. Fortunately not all beautiful things are rare. However, there's a particular delight in managing to track and experience something that still is.
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- Live performances of Spem in Alium, Tallis's 40-part Motet. I've managed to stumble into a performance once, looking for free things to do on my birthday one year in Amherst, and haven't managed to come within 500 miles of one since. Recorded, the motet is a particularly beautiful example of multi-choral singing, and doesn't come remotely close to the experience of sitting in a circle of 40 voices weaving in and out and around each other, creating a complete universe out of song. I haven't yet tried Janet Cardiff's 40-speaker installation, currently at the Cloisters.
- Live performances of Sassafrass's Sundown opera. I've caught parts of it live, most notably at last year's Vericon, which I actually went to instead of a Spem in Alium performance the week before. Sassafrass comes across more fully in recording than the motet, partly because the lyrics are a larger part of the point, but live still makes a difference.
- Dale Chihuly installations. Chihuly does things with blown glass that are beautiful and eldritch and possibly batrachian and gibbous. But in a good way.
Happy belated Stanislav Petrov Day! One does appreciate the world still being here, however fubarred it may occasionally seem.
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Today is my birthday, and also Google's.
Every year I go through approximately 15 seconds of being creeped out by the "personalized" Google doodle until I remember this. Oh my god, this evening they do have a personalized doodle that says "Happy birthday Ruthanna" when I mouse-over. Happy birthday, Panopticon.
My family, chosen and otherwise, are an awesome family. I had mushroom leek tart that I did not have to cook, and chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting that I did not have to bake. And I am now the proud owner of a Tam Lin t-shirt (with Janet wrestling the lion), and a mint copy of the "Peter Principle" game in which the goal is to avoid promotion. I am also the even prouder owner of the 1983 Avalon Hill catalog that came with the game, including gems like Amoeba Wars and Empire of the Overmind, and a chart of which games can be played on which computers that also carefully explains how to read a chart. 1981, you had your points but I do not miss you.
The 2nd issue of Crowded Magazine is out, with "The Jester's Child" available within. Transhuman starving artists take in a stray mortal child, and have to decide where their priorities really lie.
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I'm trying to come up with a list of SF authors who write frequently about climate change, communications technology, or both--and preferably who connect these to justice and societal change. I need the info for an upcoming conference on climate communication, scheduled for August in DC. (Yes, I know. But it's our mosquito-infested swamp. And it will be cool inside!)
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I'm quite positive that this conversation already took place at Wiscon and I missed it, probably while I was at the Imaginary Book Club or something.
Home from Wiscon after a wonderful but exhausting weekend. Nameseeker drove, and is continuing on now into the depths of Texas for an epic rescue mission with robling_t. I flew out on my own and flew back with pageofswords, with whom there was much hanging out over the course of the con.
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We were delighted to room with papersky, which resulted in much fascinating conversation and not much sleep. The entire room was obsessed with the Sundown Kickstarter, so we would walk in to happy cries of "Nine thousand one hundred twenty five!" and so on. (And congratulations to gaudior and rushthatspeaks on what we hear was a stunning theatrical performance--not being there was the one thing we regretted about being at Wiscon.) We also got to hang out with brynnya & Gary, natlyn, almeda (mostly in the car), oracne, redbird, truepenny, and a wide variety of other people whose LJs I can't remember just now because I haven't had much sleep.
Excellent panels on urban planning and justice, creating when busy, the difficulty of actually ripping a bodice, unusual family shapes in fiction and real life, and awesome medieval women who don't show up in enough history books--Black Agnes, OMG. The Imaginary Book Club, with several books that I rather wanted to read--elisem's "classic Mpreg military SF" Cradle Corps was a standout. The Haiku Earring party resulted in the usual haiku, the semi-usual sonnet, and a few hundred words added to the novel in progress on which I'd been stuck.
More after I've had more sleep.
The best music
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you've never heard that some of you have never heard, in spite of the fact that I've been playing it for everyone I know whenever I get the chance, is Sassafrass's Norse Myth song cycle. They've taken all the soap opera and hidden themes and secretly-rooting-for-Loki in the eddas--and turned it into amazing, thoughtful, passionate a capella, with harmonies that would challenge the cast of Rent. I drove 10 hours in March to listen to them give a one-hour concert. I did this instead of driving the same 10 hours to hear Tallis's 40-part motet the previous week. This is transcendent stuff.
And at last, at long last, the Kickstarter is open for Sundown: Whispers of Ragnorak. CD, DVD, and full-on costumed opera. Go, listen to the samples, and sacrifice some silver to Loki.
( Bound for Canaan: the Epic Story of the Underground RailroadCollapse )
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( Caleb's Crossing, by Geraldine BrooksCollapse )
Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. Pride and Prejudice, with illusion magic and gender politics. Good stuff, even if the ending felt a little too pat. Recommended.
( Are You My Mother? by Alison BechdelCollapse )
( Shadow Unit, Volume 1Collapse )
Shoggoths in Bloom, by Elizabeth Bear. New short story collection. Some of the older stories have a little too much random unnecessary self-sacrifice, but the newer ones are brilliant and dark and thoughtful. Highly recommended.
Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire. Reread in preparation for the new one coming out. Funny, snarky urban fantasy that doesn't take place in Not-the-World-of-Darkness. Highly recommended.
Talking Man, by Terry Bissom. There are some brilliant images in this--I will never take a road trip again without thinking about the Mississippi River Canyon--but ultimately, it turns out that I don't like magical realism regardless of whether it takes place in South American or southern Appalachia. I like things to happen for reasons.
A Planet of Viruses, by Carl Zimmer. Freebie at the AAAS conference. Awesome freebie. This is a bunch of short essays, by a brilliant science writer, about how you probably know a lot less than you think you do about viruses. They are weird.
Total Books: 9
Recent Publication: 6
Recommendations: papersky recommended the Bissom, and the entire internet recommended the Kowal.
New Music: None.
New Media Created: Some intensive work on the urban infrastructure fantasy, and I actually finished the Jewish Narnia drabble cycle. Anyone have any idea about markets for a Jewish fantasy drabble cycle?
Thank you to everyone who shared data on phone plans. After some discussion, we decided to stay with our current provider after all, for a single smartphone. S will stick with a plan-free dumb phone for now, and in a few months when the budget gets more predictable we'll try out the cheap smartphone plan that danceswthcobras suggested.
So I now have a lovely new Samsung Galaxy S2 with Android, and like everything about it except that, like all smartphones, it doesn't actually fit in my hand. I'll cope, but I'm a little sad for the passing of tiny flip-top communicators. Be that as it may, I'm now in the much more fun stage of finding apps. I once again seek suggestions.
My app aesthetic is that anything that's cluttering up my screen should take advantage of the fact that this is a small, portable device with GPS and/or camera. Carbon footprint calculator that would work fine on a laptop except that I wouldn't have to squint? No thank you. Something that tells me the carbon footprint of the trip I'm taking right now? Much more interesting.
I'm particularly looking for
The future is kind of a strange place.
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- a shopping list program that can pull up coupons for things I'm already planning on buying, but that is primarily an easy way to track needs and purchases. Bonus for comparing prices at the stores I visit most often without me having to enter them by hand. Bonus for pulling up sustainability information.
- a packing list program as good as Packing Pro is supposed to be, but for Android--one where I can create sublists to add or subtract from a given trip (e.g., a "con costuming" list that means I don't have to remember, every Wiscon, that we need both my belt pouch and S's gloves)
- good naturalist identification programs--what's that bird? What's this plant?
- Anything that will tell me cool things I didn't know about the space around me--for example, right now I've got Google Field Trip running, and it tells me about historic events that happened along my commute.
- A Twitter client that will let me easily flip between my lists, with one click to open a new message window. I tried Twicca, which is well-reviewed but doesn't seem to work on my phone. Right now I'm stuck with the standard Twitter app.
- A widget that will let me access my camera from my home page. Maybe this is something in settings, rather than a separate app?
- A good face recognition app--I don't think this actually exists yet.
- Apps that can distract toddlers without driving me up a tree. That means no talking, and the option of turning off sound when the point is to keep the kid quiet for a few precious minutes. I know I've seen these around--apps that create colorful lines or fireworks trailing behind your fingers. Right now the best thing I can find is a sort of minimal bubble-blowing-and-popping app.
- Good adult fidget apps. May overlap with the toddler apps.
- Interesting sustainability/environment apps with some sort of enhanced reality component
- Physiological measurement and tracking--pulse rate, sleep quality, etc.
- A traffic avoidance program known to work well in the Northeast.
- apps to facilitate taking over the world and/or showing them all
- Other things you've found particularly useful or fun.
I've sold the transhuman starving artists story to Crowded Magazine. It should be coming out over the summer.
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Apparently the last time I posted a media consumption review, I got all the way up to July 2012. It's been a pretty busy few months. More on that in a later post that will hopefully actually happen. In the meanwhile, here are the most interesting things that I read in the 2nd half of 2012, made easier by the fact that the Great Big Work Project has eaten enough spoons to send me into rereading mode for much of the winter.
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( Debt: The First 5000 YearsCollapse )( Pattern Recognition, by William GibsonCollapse )
( Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, by Lois McMaster BujoldCollapse )
( Permanence, by Karl SchroederCollapse )
( Online Fiction: Methods of Rationality and Shadow UnitCollapse )
( Music: Talis Kimberley's Queen of SpindlesCollapse )
New Media Created: Little bits on both novels: My Obsession With the Field Museum Let Me Show You It and Transhuman Starving Artists Raise a Family (note: not real titles). Also a short story written in one evening on a prompt from aspenwolf. As of January 1st, I am back on the Novel in 90 discipline and making some serious progress on My Obsession With the Field Museum.
I sold two sestinas in 2012. "Pantheon" is out in the January issue of Starline. (And for my few readers who will know what this means, this is officially the first published bit from the Changewinds universe. Apparently no context is necessary to appreciate it, though.)
Stats for the year:
Books Read: 52--busy year in many other ways. Nine non-fiction, and three fiction that weren't SF or fantasy (assuming you count the Gibson). Thirteen rereads. Nine new-to-me authors, of which Tim Pratt is far and away my favorite discovery. Three books thrown against the wall. Only one book marked as failing the Bechdel test all year (the intensely disappointing Wicked Gentlemen). Either I'm getting better at picking out books with girls in, or skilled authors are more likely these days to avoid that particular failure mode.
Music: 4 new albums. Genres include modern classical, folk rock, whatever the hell Grey Eye Glances are, and activist filk.
Movies: Apparently... zero.
TV: A little bit of Doctor Who and Criminal Minds.
Other: A reading party for Love's Labours Lost, and a slightly dubious production of Cymbeline, which is a slightly dubious play to begin with.
I'm sitting in a hostel in Minneapolis, feeling slightly at loose ends while I wait for this conference to kick into gear. So, meme.
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Tell me about a story I haven't written, and I'll give you one sentence from that story.
Slightly anticlimactic, here if nowhere north of us. Power's on, wind's down to normal, rain's still coming down but more gently.
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Rain's been coming down since last night. Wind's starting to pick up. The forecast sounds fairly alarming, but we are on high ground and far from large bodies of water, so we have our fingers crossed. We have lots of food, ice, and alternate sources of light. There are brownies and blondies, and will be roast chestnuts if the power stays on much longer. I've done what I can for work from here, so am now, guilt-free, sitting in the living room with warm wife, dog, and housemates. We are reading each other weather reports and random funny things off the internet, and there may be role-playing by and by.
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Everyone stay safe and dry!
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( The Art of Game DesignCollapse )
( Un Lun Dun by China MievilleCollapse )
( Trial by Fire, by Jennifer Lynn BarnesCollapse )
( Getting Green DoneCollapse )
( Virtual Team Building GamesCollapse )
( NOT Tim Powers' Declare. Brief mommy-blogging insteadCollapse )
( NOT Melissa Scott's Trouble and Her Friends. Critique of the entire Cyberpunk genre based on SOPA instead.Collapse )
( NOT Thomas Sniegoski's A Kiss Before the ApocalypseCollapse )
Other Media Consumed:
( PodcastsCollapse )
( Speculation about the lack of proper critical vocabulary for tabletop role-playing gamesCollapse )
Total Books: 5 & 3/2
Recent Publication: 2, or at least I think the Mieville is recent. We bought it new, anyway.
Recommendations: None, I think
New Music: None.
New Media Created: I believe this was the month I finally finished "The Litany of Earth." Because what my stories-in-submission list needed was clearly a novella.
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( A Star Shall Fall, by Marie BrennanCollapse )
( More Marla Mason than you can shake an eldritch magical cloak at...Collapse )
( Range of Ghosts & Ad Eternum, by Elizabeth BearCollapse )
( How Much for Just the Planet, by John M FordCollapse )
Other Media Consumed: none. It was that kind of a month.
Total Books: 8
Recent Publication: 2/8
Recommendations: Marla Mason books recommended by rushthatspeaks.
New Music: None.
New Media Created: Y'all will forgive me if I now have trouble remembering what I wrote in July. I should start keeping Thud posts again if I'm going to fall this far behind on book reports.
Disclaimer: I'm not necessarily in a position to write the post I want to write about Debt. I read it as a 20-hour audiobook while driving from Louisiana to DC, and there were several points where I wanted to hit pause and stare off into space thinking about it for a while, but was driving and didn't try to negotiate my visually-based MP3 player interface, and then he said something else really interesting that I would have liked 10 minutes to process... Not to mention that I'm not in a position to double-check any of what he wrote. I'm planning to reread in hard copy as soon as possible. Which is not something I normally say about 20-hour audiobooks. Onward.
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This is one of those centrally interesting books that not only deliberately intends to entirely reshape your worldview, but is worthy of doing so. 1491, and to a lesser extent 1493, both fall into this category. Unlike those, Debt is written from a foundation of a recognizable modern political perspective, one related to Occupy and the related anti-globalization protests (though as it points out the "anti-globalization" movement is entirely mislabeled). Having some sympathy with those movements myself, I spent the whole book on the edge of hair-trigger skepticism whenever David Graeber came near them. For the most part, though, the book is nuanced, thoughtful, and deeply embedded in real economic history. papersky's lovely review, much more thorough than this one, gives several examples--places where he tears apart economic myths through reference to anthropology.
( Read more...Collapse )
Posting for later reference
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potatoes (obviously), diced bite-size and boiled 20 minutes
dressing: 1/2 mayo and 1/2 sour cream, in appropriate quantities to the potatoes
v. small sliced onion rings (from the stem part of a CSA onion, in this case--scallions, chives, or leeks would do just as well)
dried smoked garlic (from Chelsea Market Baskets in New York)
zest and most of the juice from 2 small lemons
To do today: reconstruct the squash ceviche recipe from Mitsitam--not provided in their cookbook, unfortunately.
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( A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor VingeCollapse )
( The Hunger GamesCollapse )
( In the Land of Invented Languages, by Arika OkrentCollapse )
( Blood Engines, and Poison Sleep, by TA PrattCollapse )
Agent to the Stars, by John Scalzi. Reread to catch my breath, and restore my faith in humanity, while I waited for Poison Sleep to arrive.
( Grail by Elizabeth BearCollapse )
Other Media Consumed
( Music: Oswaldo Golijof and Dar WilliamsCollapse )
( Criminal Minds and My Little Pony. Don't think too hard about the crossover.Collapse )
( Loves Labours LostCollapse )
Total Books: 7
Recent Publication: 2/7
Recommendations: Marla Mason recommended by rushthatspeaks--thank you! Vinge recommended by papersky. The Hunger Games recommended by the 7 billion people who read it before me.
New Music: 2 albums
New Media Created: Finished the second Aphra Marsh story!
Every year at Wiscon, elisem spends an evening giving out titled earrings in exchange for haiku written with the title as a prompt. It is a powerful ritual. For some people, it's the only poem they write all year. However, I am not that person, and I find that after writing the haiku, my brain still itches, and I need to write something else to satisfy the craving.
Someone who was there, and paying a great deal of attention to the people present, could probably time the writing of this sonnet by the descriptions in the first verse.
A fairy scarlet-haired and leather-capped,
A woman garbed in time lord’s blue and white;
Hands hold a pen, and child gently wrapped
And set to task: with well-worked stones to write.
The line winds through the room; we seek our sparks.
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Lift every bead: weigh color, shape, and feel,
And look for omens hidden in their marks:
A hint of immanence and words made real.
An unassuming bead of wood carved round,
A pewter-masted ship with sails unfurled,
A square of jasper map-marked by the ground,
And each one holds a poem, a thought, a world.
Hands work in gold and silver, stone and wire;
Eyes find the name—and light the muse’s fire.