A bad thing and a good thing

Aug. 22nd, 2017 11:53 pm
aris_tgd: Guildenstern, "So much for scientific inquiry," watching feather fall (Guildenstern scientific inquiry)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
So I was over at a friend's this weekend for the eclipse, and my friend has a toddler, which meant watching movies that the toddler likes. Which meant sitting through Hotel Transylvania, which is not a good movie.

Honestly, no, no spoilers, because it was just bad in the most boring of ways. The conceit of "What if we put ~wacky~ stereotypical personalities on classic movie monsters" is not original nor in and of itself funny. The girl object was too good for the boy. Also, it was a movie about a girl coming of age which was entirely about her (possessive) dad and her (new cool laid-back) boyfriend, good times? (No, not good times.) It was screechingly heteronormative in the worst ways and way too into toilet humor and only one of the setpieces was at all entertaining (undercut by the emotional throughline making no damn sense.)

And I just kept thinking, what a waste, y'all! Because it would have been a thousand times better if the girl had been the POV character, if it had been about her. (Oh, and of course the secret present left by her mother was a short little hymn to One True Heterosexual Love. Of course. It wasn't even a GOOD secret. I thought of three that would have been better in the ten seconds it took to read it.)

So yeah. I overempathize with characters in fiction and I really get annoyed doing it when I don't like any aspect of said fiction. Adorable vampire girl in movie that makes no sense, you deserved better.

... Speaking of overempathizing with characters, I read C. E. Murphy's Pride and Prejudice pastiche Magic and Manners today. (I read it in a day. It was engaging.) Magic and Manners doesn't do everything right, but I literally teared up several times while reading it out of feels, so it's either good romance or hormones or both. (Or possibly stress relief from feeling like I'm making progress on things at work? Maybe all three?) There's queerness, there's multiculturalism, there's magic, there's nearly telekinetic castration, it's good times. Recommended.

[story] The Statue Beneath the Sea

Aug. 22nd, 2017 02:23 pm
yhlee: Flight Rising Spiral dragon, black-red-gold (Flight Rising Jedao baby Spiral)
[personal profile] yhlee
For [personal profile] storme.
Prompt: dépaysement.

The Statue Beneath the Sea

Once upon an ocean, a statue dwelled beneath the waves. In days past the statue had been brightly painted and crowned with gilt, with jewels for eyes and jewels set in its magnificent wings. It remembered dancers crowding its plaza and lovers exchanging promise-poems beneath its benevolent gaze, parades of helmeted youths and prophetesses giving speeches in the sinuous language of time unwound.

It had never met the general whose victories it was meant to commemorate, although it knew that some statues had that privilege. But it had their smooth face and their smile, and even though the jewels of its eyes had long ago been stolen by treasure-scavengers, it had something of the general's vision. It knew the stories of the general and their honored lover the lady scholar, and how they had built the old city to a precipice of grandeur.

Those days had passed long ago, however, and the wars of weather-mages had sunk the city below the sea. No one now living remembered the city's name the way it had been spoken by its inhabitants, although it lingered in distorted whispers and siren-songs that wound through the tides. The statue remembered its people and yearned for whatever scraps of myth it could gather from the gossip of gulls and sailors.

The fish and the anemones, mindful of the statue's melancholy, spoke with it little. In truth it would have welcomed their chatter. But when it asked them for stories of war (in honor of its general), they could only share tales of cannonades and blood staining the foam, so different from the swift chariots and dust-clouds it knew of, and its melancholy only deepened.

At last an entourage of dragons, distant cousins of the Dragon King Under the Sea, visited the sunken city. One of the dragons, hardly more than an eggling as dragons reckon time, especially liked to explore vanished civilizations. She was particularly taken by the statue's eroded marble surfaces, seeing in them the litany of years gone and years to come.

The statue told the dragon of its vanished city, and its general's victories--more fable than truth by this point, not that there was anyone to correct it--and the dragon listened eagerly. She began telling the statue's stories to the sharks and the seahorses, the terns and the turtles. Soon the creatures of the sea came to listen to the statue as well, and to honor it with their tribute.

It wasn't long before the statue's old plaza was surrounded by nets woven of pirates' beards, and strands of coins marked around the rim with praises to octopus gods, and bits and pieces of filigree armor snatched from soldiers fallen overboard. The creatures of the sea, not to mention the dragons, began frequenting the statue's plaza, and carrying out their own ceremonies there.

While the statue knew that the people it had once known would never return, and that the old city was dead in truth, it found some comfort in seeing a new one arise where the old had been.
spiralsheep: Woman blowing heart-shaped bubbles (Bubble Rainbow)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
- Rainbow over the Westward Ho beached on Ynys Echni, aka Flat Holm, in the Bristol Channel.

Rainbow over the Westward Ho beached on Ynys Echni, Flat Holm, Bristol Channel 10-16

Rainbow seen from Ynys Echni, Flat Holm, Bristol Channel 10-16

- Historical reconstructionist Paganism: good to see that the wolf named Hater didn't eat the Sun woman, "the sky's bright bride", in the US yesterday and I'm amused that the small percentage of neo-Pagans who're also neo-nazis were supposed to spend the day acknowledging and celebrating the victory of enlightenment over hate and haters, lol. I hope y'all enjoyed the lightshow!

- Kickass Drag Queen, starring Bob the Drag Queen, seems to be turning into an ongoing comic? The original pilot story about saving Pocket Gay (8pg), and the first episode in which there's a plot to make basic straight girls everywhere feel insecure, pt1 (9pg) and pt2 (9pg), lol especially at the pilot ep.

- Reading, books 2017: 85.

80. Bramton Wick, by Elizabeth Fair, 1952, novel (strictly probably a novella). A lightly observant account of a limited rural social circle with the sort of people who mostly don't have to work to earn their living, think four bedroomed houses are poky, and have hired domestic help even post war. As my faithful readers will have inferred from the title of this book there are lesbians within, although Miss Tiger Garrett is a marginally more subtle stereotype than Angela Thirkell's 1940 debut Miss Hampton. Her partner is Miss Bunty Selbourne and they breed dogs like all good middle class 1950s English lesbians (no reform school for these two, lol) although, disappointingly, the story reveals they have separate bedrooms. Unusually well-paced and structured for a first novel imo, which is especially difficult to achieve in a story relying much more on social observation than plot. Thanks to slemslempike for the rec. (3.5/5, goodreads = 21 ratings / 4 reviews 4/5)

A Theory of Fun for Game Design

Aug. 22nd, 2017 06:02 am
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
Raph Koster's A Theory of Fun for Game Design (2nd ed.) has been on my wishlist for something like the past five years. I picked it up recently by ordering it through my local game store (which is technically also a bookstore and is in the process of signing on with distributors or however that goes). It is an absolute delight.

I'm glad I sprung for the hardcopy of this for two reasons: one, I like to mark up my nonfiction, and two, its formatting! The left-hand page in every two-page spread is text; the right-hand page has an illustration related to the material on the left-hand page. While the illustrations are not technically the most accomplished, they are generally extremely effective communicative cartoons or diagrams.

This book comes with a ton of blurbs, and Cory Doctorow's--"Does for games what Understanding Comics [by Scott McCloud] did for sequential art"--pretty much sums up how I feel. I've read other game design books that were insightful, or thorough, but the Koster is accessible and very interesting in its approach to what makes games games, and how to make them fun (in the instances where that's a thing--cf. Brenda Romero's Train).

One of Koster's arguments is that "with games, learning is the drug" (40)--a game that interests us is one that strikes the necessary balance of not too easy (Tic-Tac-Toe, for most adults) and not too hard (multiple failure modes possible, depending on the individual--witness me and chess or go [1]). He suggests that games (and play, which is common in a lot of young animals!) are an artifact of how we try to learn survival skills, and moves forward into making suggestions as to how to move the form forward into values/skills more suitable for the modern era than "kill things" or "jump over things" or "search for all the things."

[1] Joe gave up on teaching me go when I told him I have severe difficulty with visual patterns. In fact, I am starting to wonder if aphantasia just screws me over for this kind of game in general. :p

There's also a particularly interesting chapter on ethics and entertainment where he discusses the difference between the game system and the flavor/dressing:

The bare mechanics of a game may indeed carry semantic freighting, but odds are that it will be fairly abstract. A game about aiming is a game about aiming, and there's no getting around that. It's hard to conceive of a game about aiming that isn't about shooting, but it has been done--there are several gmaes where instead of shooting bullets with a gun, you are instead shooting pictures with a camera. (170)

The bare mechanics of the game do not determine its meaning. Let's try a thought experiment. Let's picture a mass murder game wherein there is a gas chamber shaped like a well. You the player are dropping innocent victims down into the gas chamber, and they come in all shapes and sizes. There are old ones and young ones, fat ones and tall ones. As they fall to the bottom, they grab onto each other and try to form human pyramids to get to the top of the well. Should they manage to get out, the game is over and you die. But if you pack them in tightly enough, the ones on the bottom succumb to the gas and die.

I do not want to play this game. Do you? Yet it is Tetris. (172)


In general, Koster has a background in game design AND writing AND music, and he draws on all three in his analysis of games, as well as other disciplines (e.g. psychology). It makes the book a scintillating read. I can't believe I waited so long to read this--but it was exactly what I wanted to read last week, so hey. Highly recommended.

Passing under Shadow

Aug. 21st, 2017 09:13 pm
aris_tgd: Daenerys "Come not between the dragon and her wrath" (Daenerys dragon)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
Okay, so ECLIPSE. Wow. Let me just say: what everyone said is true, totality is not the same as 90% or even 99%. My friends and I were hanging out in the backyard watching the light dim and taking peeks at the disappearing crescent of the sun through filters, and watching the sliver vanish, and when that black disc totally covered the sun all of us kind of lost our shit.

It was super cool and in seven years when another eclipse hits this continent I encourage everyone on this continent to go check it out. It's worth it.

Of course, it's easy for me to say it's worth it, I only had to drive an hour north and then two hours back home again to see it. Ha! (I kid, it was only about an hour and a half on the way back, but damn was traffic awful on the way out of Salem for most of the day. The only reason my drive back was so reasonable is that I waited eight hours after the eclipse ended to start moving.)

I did not take any photos. I was busy staring at where the sun used to be and would be again and mildly freaking out.

Face Off through 3.1

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:21 pm
yhlee: rose in a hexagon (hxx emblem Andan)
[personal profile] yhlee
Read more... )

Also, now I have an incredible desire to watch the Clone Wars cartoon so I will have to save up for the DVDs. Maybe Christmas? XD

[hxx] [story] Sword-Shopping

Aug. 21st, 2017 09:13 pm
yhlee: Sandman raven with eyeball (Sandman raven (credit: rilina))
[personal profile] yhlee
For S.B.
Prompt: hexarchate, "calendrical sword."

Ajewen Cheris and her girlfriend Linnis Orua paused outside the shop. A banner of ink painted onto silk fluttered in the flirtatious artificial breeze. Orua had grown up on a station with less naturalistic ideas of aesthetics, and found this dome-city with its aleatory weather nerve-wracking. She still spooked whenever there was a wind, which entertained Cheris because Orua also had long, luxurious waves of hair that rippled beautifully. "We were always told to be aware of strange air currents as a possible sign of carapace breach!" Orua had protested when Cheris teased her about it.

"Blades for All Occasions," Cheris read. She had been saving for this moment throughout the first two years of academy, and practicing for it besides. Orua didn't understand her fondness for the sport of dueling, but she had agreed to come along for moral support.

"Well, no sense in lingering outside," Orua said. She grinned at Cheris and walked forward. The door swooshed open for her.

Cheris followed her in. A tame (?) falcon on a perch twisted its head sideways to peer at her as she entered. The falcon was either genetically engineered or dyed or even painted, although she wasn't sure how she felt about any of those alternatives: its primary feathers shaded from black to blood red, with striking metallic gold bands toward the tips. It looked gaudy as hell and quintessentially Kel.

Orua was busy suppressing a giggle at the falcon's aesthetics. Cheris poked her in the side to get her to stop and looked around the displays, wide-eyed. Her eyes stung suspiciously at the sight of all those weapons, everything from tactical knives to ornamented daggers with rough-hewn gems in their pommels and pragmatic machetes.

But best of all were the calendrical swords. Deactivated, they looked deceptively harmless, bladeless hilts of metal in varying colors and finishes. Cheris's gaze was drawn inexorably to one made of voidmetal chased in gold, with an unusual basket hilt. It was showy, extremely Kel, and an invitation to trouble. Only a cadet who had an exemplary record and was an excellent duelist would dare carry such a calendrical sword. And besides, the lack of a price tag told her there was no way she could afford it even if she could, in honor, lay claim to such a thing.

Cheris sighed, then looked up into her girlfriend's eyes. "I wish," she said, her voice soft.

"Let me help you pick," Orua said, ignoring the sales assistant who was watching them imperturbably with his arms folded behind his back.

Cheris blinked. "I thought you didn't know anything about dueling?" she teased. Orua paid more attention to the special effects and makeup on dueling shows than the actual dueling.

"I don't know anything about dueling," Orua said, as the sales assistant radiated disapproval. "But I know a lot about you." Her eyes turned sly, and Cheris hoped that Orua wouldn't get too specific here of all places. She grabbed Cheris's hand and tugged her along to a completely different display. "Look!"

At first Cheris wasn't impressed by the calligraphy-stroke plainness of the calendrical swords on display. Then she saw that that the metal evinced a faint iridescence, like that of a raven's feather. She particularly liked the one whose textured design incorporated the first digits of the base of the natural logarithm.

Orua stooped to whisper right in Cheris's ear, "Tonight I'm going to see how many digits of that number you can recite before I get you to--"

"I'll buy this one," Cheris interrupted, very loudly, and pointed.

Unseen, the sales assistant and Orua exchanged winks.

I am fail

Aug. 21st, 2017 06:01 pm
yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
[personal profile] yhlee
I'm not going to do it but I crave to someday write a training cruise/school/dance academy/conservatory/??? mashup disaster story.

Alas, I have this novel to work on. :p 2,000 words on Dragon Pearl today! (I'm doing revisions, but I had to rip out a few chapters that weren't working and replace them with all-new ones, always thrilling.)
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I am a dancer in the New York City Ballet. I wrote the pages that follow during one ballet season. I began on November 21, 1980, and finished on February 15, 1981. I was lonely; I was sad. I had decided to be alone, but I had never decided to be lonely. I started writing on a yellow pad. I wrote, and I smoked. Every page was covered with a film of smoke.

If you like that, you will like this book. It's one of those slim but pithy volumes that precisely captures a time, a place, and a state of mind.

I've always had a fascination with ballet, ever since my second-grade teacher offered a trip to see the Nutcracker Suite (it was at least ten years before I realized that the second word was not "sweet") to her top three students. I had no idea what that was, other than that it was clearly desirable, so I went all-out to make sure that I'd get the prize. I was sufficiently enchanted with The Nutcracker and the general air of specialness surrounding the entire experience that I begged my parents for ballet lessons, at which I lasted something like three sessions. I don't recall the exact problem, but based on my age I'm guessing that there was too much standing around.

After that I confined myself to reading ballet books, which was more fun that actually doing it. Had I tried when I was older, I might have stuck with it for longer. Based on Bentley book and everything else I've read about ballet dancing, it has an austere, stoic, boot camp, push your limits atmosphere that would have really appealed to me if I'd been three to five years older. And then I would have gotten my heart broken, because I am not built to be a ballerina.

Winter Season beautifully depicts the illusion shown to the audience and the reality experienced by the dancers, and how the dancers live the illusion as well. It's got all the fascinating details of any good backstage memoir, without bitterness or cynicism. Even as it ground down her body, Bentley never stopped loving ballet; she seems to feel that she was lucky to have the chance to live the dream, just for the opportunity to spend a few minutes every day being the perfect expression of her body and the choreographer's art.

Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal, with a new preface

And I will place the next bit under a cut in case you just want to read about Winter Season. As opposed to ass. Read more... )

Boston counterprotest

Aug. 20th, 2017 11:51 pm
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
I went to the Boston counterprotest against the so-called 'free speech' (actually Confederates and neo-Nazis) rally on Saturday for a couple of hours. The energy was good, and there were a lot of people-- the radio said maybe fifty thousand counterprotestors and fifty or so Nazis, so we may literally have outnumbered them one thousand to one. The common was about as full as it was during the Womens' March, because people weren't as spread out marching; there were areas that were elbow-to-elbow and then areas where nothing much was going on and you could walk around.

There were of course many, many signs. I took one Ruth made with a graphic we got off Twitter, one of those red barred circles that mean NO over a glyph that combines a swastika and the number 45 so you can read it both ways. The person next to me on the T on the way over was also carrying a sign, so we started talking, and it turned out, completely coincidentally, that she is presently enrolled at the small liberal arts college my wife and I both went to, which is several states away. She had come up for the occasion. It was nice to have somebody there to have my back, since none of my family could make it.

We had been worried on the train about how things would go, but there were thorough barricades and we basically couldn't even see the actual Nazi types, let alone physically interact with them. Every so often one of them would break out a Confederate flag or something like that, at which point the police would immediately confiscate it. One of them got perp-walked away while I was there, but I didn't see what for. The police presence was huge and, while I was there, generally polite to us counterprotestors, although I understand they got more annoyed later. I have to say, the sirens that bike cops use are among the silliest things I have heard in quite a while, like putting a real police siren through a filter marked 'Yakkity Sax'.

There was one dude wandering around shouting about how he wanted to [insert violence and sexual profanity] Trump and Trump's children, but everybody he came near was shouting back at him to just shut up and go home. I couldn't tell his ethnicity beyond 'not white', but he was also wearing a hat with the Washington Racists' logo-- I mean their real logo-- and the crowd was not having with that either. So it was uncomfortable when he wandered by, but the crowd very clearly was not on his side and was not going to let him harass any individual people.

The most intense things got is that somebody set fire to a swastika flag, I believe with a blowtorch. It burned very hot and fast, to intense cheers, and produced a lot of smoke, but I think it had gone out entirely by the time the cops arrived-- it had clearly been timed for when the bike patrol was circling around the other end of the Common. At any rate, I don't believe anyone was arrested in connection with that.

I am proud of my city about this one. A lot of people in the crowd were worried about violence, I was worried about violence, my train-met friend was worried, and that worry was explicitly why we had to be there. Because no. We refuse to give up when things get scary.

It was a good counterprotest.
roadrunnertwice: Rebecca on treadmill. (Text: "She's a ROCKET SCIENTIST from the SOUTH POLE with FIFTY EXES?") (BitterGirl.Rebecca - Rocket scientist)
[personal profile] roadrunnertwice

Gigi D.G. — Lady of the Shard (comics)

Aug 9

Readable online.

The stark and glitchy aliased look on this comic scratches some very particular itch for me. Especially the intense use of red, once that shows up.

Anyway, this is a simple story executed well, and you can read the whole thing in an evening or two.

Kristen Gudsnuk — Henchgirl (comics)

Aug 10

This is notably better than the average cape spoof, but I'm hard pressed to explain exactly how. It's some combination of the delicious art and the out-of-control tonal shifts, neither of which would do the job independently.

It also hits some #relatable Millenial territory, where it's like... fuck you we're not just lazy shitheels, but ALSO, UNRELATEDLY, being a lazy shitheel sounds kind of great sometimes.

Tobias S. Buckell — Hurricane Fever

Aug 11?

I don't think I can really... recommend this silly and formulaic spy thriller — in fact, I think it's less interesting and rewarding than Arctic Rising, which I was already a li'l lukewarm on.

But you know, sometimes I need something silly and formulaic. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Books

Aug. 20th, 2017 02:12 pm
aris_tgd: Sarah Chambers, Cleric (Sarah Chambers cleric)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
The problem with Goodreads is that now I have two places to talk about books and I'm never sure if I posted here about finishing something. I really enjoyed the rest of The Inheritance Trilogy, the second book hit my buttons more than the third did but I liked both of them. I guess I found the relationships in the third one didn't quite hit my kinks the way I wanted them to, while the first and second ones did.

[Insert current gripe about superpowered woman/unpowered dude shipping and lack thereof. This series just had an absence rather than having it and "fixing" it, but I'm now on the lookout.]

Did I mention I read Roses in Amber and it was lovely? It was lovely. Queer and magical and full of awesome women and "I have to do this awkward thing because magic so we're both going to agree to live with it" which I love love love as a trope.

I also just finished The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe which was terrific. I would normally like more dialogue but the author is doing a Lovecraft pastiche, so I'm grateful for the dialogue we did get! Sharp in all the right ways. I liked the ending but now I want more! (Not literally, but I'd like to see something set in this dreamworld fifty years out or so.)

I'm still in the middle of The Goblin Emperor, and maybe when I have a little more brain space I'll pick it up again.

It was a camel!

Aug. 20th, 2017 01:14 pm
rachelmanija: (It was a monkey!)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
This clip from CNN is well worth listening to.

It encapsulates both the jaw-dropping awfulness and bizarreness of the Orange Supremacist era, and the extent to which the mainstream media has gotten so appalled that they're dropping their usual false equivalency. I mean the old "both sides have a point," which works when both sides DO have a point, but does not when you're talking about Nazis vs. anti-Nazis or Cheetolini vs. human beings with empathy. Also, it made me laugh.

Yesterday post-rally [personal profile] hederahelix and I were discussing this.

"It's just so surreal," she said. "Hey... Is that a camel?"

I looked over. The U-haul next to us had a giant camel painted on the side.

Below the camel, as if in explanation of why a U-haul would be decorated with a giant camel, were a few lines of Wikipedia-esque notes on camels, something like "A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as "humps" on its back."

Weekly Check in August 20

Aug. 20th, 2017 01:08 pm
tassosss: Buffy Bring on the Night (Buffy)
[personal profile] tassosss posting in [community profile] thisfinecrew
Hey folks, it's been a busy week. Shout out to all the counter-protests that have seen huge turnouts where neo-nazi's have tried to get their message out. We have a lot of links and resources this week.

One bit of news is that our tag guru [personal profile] redbird is going to have limited internet time for the next week or so. That means it may take a bit longer than the usual super-speedy service for your posts to be tagged and new tags added. (Remember: you can always add existing tags to your posts yourselves.)

Housekeeping (the usual stuff)
Reminder that we have a suggestion post if there’s a topic that you’d like to see discussed but would like to ask the mods to look into. This can be anything from general information, or a how-to-do-a-thing, or something you may want to discuss as a community. Folks are welcome to post directly to the comm as always, but if you’re not comfortable/don’t have spoons, we can help too.

As we don't always get the time to pull things out of the suggestions post into their own separate posts, it may be worth checking every week (or tracking the post) to see if there's any new information you're interested in.

Also if you need help with tags, PM [personal profile] redbird, who is our tag guru.

Ongoing actions and activities
Sunday August 20 Ready to Resist call
Asssorted Charlottesville resource links
Indivisible have made a map - counter protests
Charlottesville - where to donate money
Petition: stop Trump from pardoning Joe Arpaio
"Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act"
Day of Action: Defend DACA
PFAW Fact Sheets for Recess
Friends of the Earth Call Script for NAFTA
Women's Convention Detroit October 27-29

Solidarity with Charlottesville - find or plan a community event to show you're standing with the people in Charlottesville who put themselves at risk to fight against white supremacy.
Find every election you're eligible to vote in with the EveryElection app
Town Halls: Congress is in recess, so find out when (if!) your representatives are holding town halls at Town Hall Project
Recess toolkits from MoveOn.org and Indivisible (check the comments)

So, what have you all been up to in the last week or are planning to get involved in next week?

Poll #18720 weekly check in
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 14


This week I...

View Answers

called my one senator
3 (27.3%)

called my other senator
3 (27.3%)

called my representative
2 (18.2%)

called my governor
1 (9.1%)

called my state reps
0 (0.0%)

sent a postcard/email/letter/fax
1 (9.1%)

attended a town hall
0 (0.0%)

donated money to a cause
8 (72.7%)

attended an in-person activist group
1 (9.1%)

participated in phone/online training
2 (18.2%)

.

View Answers

went to a protest
5 (38.5%)

signed up for alerts
1 (7.7%)

took care of myself
6 (46.2%)

not a US citizen but worked in solidarity in my own community
2 (15.4%)

did something else
3 (23.1%)

committed to action in the coming week
3 (23.1%)



spiralsheep: Martha laughing (Martha Laughing)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
- My local online news feed has had two big breaking stories this weekend so far: a van crashed into wall but nobody was injured, and a photo of a cuddly toy lost at a local event.

- Funko Four and his 2D Tardis.

The Fourth Doctor and the Tardis

- Reading, books 2017: 84.

79. Calling Major Tom, by David M Barnett, 2017, very soft science fiction novel, and I mean soft in every sense of the word. The point of view characters are Thomas Major the first astronaut travelling one-way to Mars, Gladys Ormerod a 70 year old grandmother with dementia, Ellie Ormerod a 15 year old granddaughter trying to keep her parentless poverty-line family together, and James Ormerod a 10 year old grandson who might want to be a scientist. Other characters abound and are decently fleshed out, including a Black teenager from Ellie's class at school who is called Delil (I don't think I've ever met a Delisle who spells his name Delil but anything's possible in Wigan, I suppose). The plot is ridiculous and sentimental, and pays tributes to It's A Wonderful Life as well as Space Oddity, although it also reminded me of an Ealing comedy by managing to be funny while telling uncomfortable truths about society but without being realism. Warning: contains a brief incident of mild racism from one of the pov characters, although not portrayed from her pov, but written skillfully, and frankly actually painfully amusing in the way that socially embarrassing older relatives sometimes are when they're -ist from decades old habit but with no current malice and one doesn't know whether to flinch or laugh at them. (4/5, goodreads = 140 ratings / 62 reviews 4/5)

• Unrepresentative quote: When BriSpA's Chief of Multi-Platform Safeguarding, Craig, was in the Royal Navy he was generally known as Hammerhead due to his habit of smashing his head against doors, walls and other heads after too much drink. Those days are in Craig's past, as is the nickname, though he sometimes uses a variation of it when he frequents certain online forums that require a certain level of anonymity. At least until an assignation is organised in a dark nightclub, or sometimes on a moonlit heath, where for the purposes of identification he carries a dog lead though, of course, he owns no dog. Craig does own two cats, named Ethel and Frank. He will know he has found true love when he meets someone who knows that those are the names of the parents of Judy Garland. He is still waiting.

• Another unrepresentative quote: And that but hangs there in the still air between them, buoyed on the heady scent of flowers in Laura's garden, threaded with the lazy flight path of droning bees, suspended from the brittle, drifting spiderwebs.
rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/19/boston-protest-free-speech-rally

Donald Trump described anti-fascist and anti-racist demonstrators who converged on Boston as “anti-police agitators” on Saturday, in a tweet that seemed destined to revive the still simmering controversy over his remarks equating the far right and anti-Nazis in Charlottesville last weekend.

“Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston,” Trump tweeted. “Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.”

But he later seemed to back the right to demonstrate, posting: “Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!”

He added: “I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!”

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Aug. 20th, 2017 02:02 am
aris_tgd: Shadow ships, "We could tangle spiders in the webs you weave." (Tangle Spiders Shadows)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
I also successfully made from-scratch caramel and tempered chocolate.

So I feel pretty good about myself, even though I burned the first batch of cookies.

I don't have any pictures, but I plan on getting a few pics before they all get eaten.
yhlee: Alto clef and whole note (middle C). (alto clef)
[personal profile] yhlee
A couple friends let me know that talking about composing for orchestra is, in fact, something that might be of some minor interest and also I am taking a break from working on Dragon Pearl while the Dragon borrows my laptop (which is my writing machine), so.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional composer! I did not go to conservatory. I am an interested amateur. My background is seven years of more or less classical piano, including a few years at the Houston Music Institute (relevant because they taught some theory and basic composition), a few years of viola, and years of screwing around on basically every instrument I could get my hands on, including three summers of classical guitar, mandolin, soprano recorder, pennywhistle, ocarina, and diatonic and chromatic harmonica. (Harmonicas actually get pretty complicated, more complicated than I personally can deal with--different tunings, cross-harp, slant-harp, etc. I only know the basics. [1]) This kind of jack-of-all-trades-ism is not great if you want to be a performer, where you really ought to become expert in your chosen instrument(s), but it's not awful if you want to compose.

[1] To anyone who doubts that the harmonica is a "real" classical instrument, I present to you Villa-Lobos' Concerto for Harmonica and Orchestra with soloist Robert Bonfiglio [Youtube], which is the recording I used to have before the stupid fucking flood. That's a chromatic harmonica, BTW; you can tell because of the use of the chromatic slide in some of the ornaments. More information. I will FIGHT anyone who tells me the harmonica is not a REAL INSTRUMENT.

Further caveat, I am only discussing Western music. I don't know enough about non-Western traditions to tell you anything useful about them. I compose more or less neoclassically because that's what pleases my ear and I feel no need to be innovative in a technical/theoretical sense. (Schoenberg's twelve-tone system is brilliant from a technical/theoretical sense but I cannot usually stand listening to it except in the limited context of certain kinds of film/TV scoring. I wouldn't listen to it for fun.)

And for yucks, I have perfect pitch, which in almost all contexts is either useless or an active hindrance (I am a suck liar and let's just say that I avoid a cappella performances and first-year string players like the plague--there's such a thing as good a cappella, but unless you are Carnegie Hall good I don't want to risk it), but has limited applications in the realm of music, ahahaha. For most applications relative pitch is hell and away more useful. (I actually get interference between relative and perfect pitch, which sucks.)

Anyway, let's talk a little about the fundamentals of music from the standpoint of composing.

I keep telling people that composing for orchestra is not hard. Composing for orchestra well is hard. Because it's true! It's a lot of things, true, but you can break it down into components. I'll talk a little more about this below.

Music is about patterns--creating tension with different dimensions of pattern, then resolving it. In terms of pitch, you only have twelve of them repeating across various octaves to work with! But because you can combine the pitches in different ways, you can come up with different melodies. Speaking in terms of standard music notation, that's the "horizontal" dimension. And pitch is combined with patterns of rhythm--units of time. cut for length and tl;dr )

Okay, I am out of brain and I'm not sure any of this even makes sense to anyone who is not me. :] I am happy to answer questions (or, if you compose music yourself, talk shop!).

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