The Grip of It, by Jac Jemc

Oct. 22nd, 2017 11:36 am
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
The Grip of It, by Jac Jemc:

Normal feels like a performance today, but we fake our way through, hopeful we'll grow into our actions.

That line comes from the end of the book, but even from the first page this story feels performative rather than sincere: The happy couple, moving into their first home. The happy couple, buying paint at the hardware store. The happy couple, being happy. It's superficial and uninteresting, as are the characters. The book is in first person, and husband and wife take turns as narrators, but it's impossible to tell who's in charge of what chapter unless one spouse specifically mentions the other; they're basically interchangeable for most of the book.

But maybe, I said to myself as I continued to read against my better judgment, they become more real when forced to confront the—

No. That did not happen. If anything they become even harder to relate to once the house starts acting up.

So they're useless, but the house? The house has all the hallmarks of being haunted: Ooh, who moved that vase. Ooh, what's that moaning noise. Ooh, the stain on the wall is spreading. The author ticks all the boxes on the checklist, but never builds on them. A misplaced vase, on its own, isn't scary. It's a signifier that doesn't signify anything. It's only half the equation. It's like being handed a fake cobweb and a plastic spider and being told it's a haunted house.

This book filled my hands with plastic spiders but failed to make a cohesive—or even engaging—story out of them. There's nothing meaningful at stake here. The house, for all its antics, is only slightly menacing, and its two indistinguishable narrators never made me feel anything but irritation.

Contains: Body horror, relationship horror, suggested domestic abuse, mental health issues, addiction (gambling), suicide attempts.

Culture Consumed Sunday

Oct. 23rd, 2017 02:55 am
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
[personal profile] vass
Time to post this weekly update before it's a whole month late.

Books

Read Becky Chambers' The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet, which strongly reminds me of that genre of Tumblr posts which has come to be called "space orcs", about humans from an alien perspective. TLWTASAP is not from the aliens' perspective, but there's that same liking and affection for humans as a spacefaring species among other spacefaring species. If you like your aliens very alien then this might not be the book for you. There was some treatment of disability issues that was... well, some good and some bad. Complicated. Structurally it was very episodic in a way that might or might not work for you. Also, without spoilers, I would like to say that in the last fifty pages or so I was like "What the fuck was that... wait, what the fuck was THAT?"

Bought JY Yang's The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune, which are twin novellas released this month, but haven't read them yet.

Reread Courtney Milan's Trade Me and Hold Me in the space of about two days. Am very impatiently waiting for What Lies Between You And Me and Find Me.

Comics

This particular Dumbing of Age strip was even funnier because I saw it after rereading Hold Me, in which Angela Choi and Blake Reynolds have a very similar argument about a dimetrodon.

TV and Movies

Watched Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger. (Side note: one of my local community library systems has a Kanopy subscription, and Kanopy has a whole lot of good stuff on it, including this documentary.) Squeed out loud at some bits, actually shouted with laughter a few times (sometimes as intended by the protagonist, sometimes not -- sapiosexual, really?), was mildly cross at other bits (I know the open letter thing hurt you, Auntie, it hurt me at the time just to watch that go down, and I wasn't even involved, but did you have to do a victory lap?) and mainly just was happily teary-eyed throughout. Strongly recommended (with the caveat that Aunty Kate is hir own content note and is not going to give you a moment to brace yourself before sie self-identifies using terms Tumblr doesn't like, talks about suicide or cancer, or gives detailed specifics of her BDSM practice.)

Here's Kate Bornstein and Sandy Stone describing how they met:

Kate Bornstein: "I found out about you through Janice Raymond's book. Janice introduced us!"
Sandy Stone [pretending to be Janice Raymond]: "Sandy [makes warding off evil eye gesture], I'd like you to meet Kate [makes warding off evil eye gesture again]."

Kate and interviewer (I think it's Sam Feder, the filmmaker? but I'm too faceblind to tell if that's them or someone else) discussing their project:
Sam Feder: "We are doing a new show about trailblazers and people who created the space that affords us the luxury to be so specific and make this trans men's magazine. we would have been severely remiss if not to include you, because you came before us and you carved out space."
Kate Bornstein: "You know, you say I carved out space? Well, carving out space is what male to female tranny surgery is all about, it's about carving out space!"

Kate Bornstein on reincarnation: "I know what I want to be next life. I want to be a golden retriever who belongs to a great butch lesbian."
[So I guess we know what hir daemon is. I'm actually surprised -- I would have thought sie'd go for a pug, same as hir patronus. But yeah, I can see it.]

Music

Listened to Kamil Szuszkiewicz's Istina, which is either modern classical with alternative influences or vice versa. Good shit if you like your modern classical to be unsettling and occasionally physically painful, which I do. (If you have a headache, maybe don't listen right now. If you don't have a headache, would you like one?) I cannot remember where on earth I found out about this album (I have a text file full of links to albums to try out and/or buy, it was there), maybe John Darnielle's twitter account? The second movement worried Beatrice. She jumped onto the couch and gave me the Concerned Stare then climbed onto my lap.

Listened to HAMM's SondHAMM, which is four Sondheim numbers with electronic instruments and voice. I really liked the arrangments and interpretation.

Games

Played grotesque amounts of Stardew Valley. (As you do. (that wasn't me, but it's funny.))

Podcasts

Listened to a lot of podcasts while playing Stardew. Bounced off MechaBetty and Death at a Low Price, decided Juno Steele wasn't for me. Got entirely caught up on X-Plain the X-Men (I was so behind that it had gone on hiatus and then come back while I was still catching up) and almost caught up on One From The Vaults. Started Thor: the Lightning and the Storm and Titan Up The Defense.

Crafts

Not crafts I did myself, but I saw this YouTube video on how to make a Pokedex-themed phone case out of perler beads. By the same vlogger, a perler bead 3D Pokeball/ring box. I had not previously considered the possible synergies between perler beads and a glue gun, and am intrigued.

In much less advanced perler bead crafts, I bought a magnet sheet, cut off a little bit of it, and stuck that to a perler Captain America shield I'd made ages ago and had no idea what to do with. It's a fridge magnet now. Tried to do the same to the larger Batsignal I made at the same time as the shield, but because it doesn't lie flat enough, or maybe because it's too large no matter how many magnets I stick on, it won't stay on the fridge. I might get a stronger magnet and try that.

Other

Bought a cheap recycled monitor and installed OSMC on my RasPi and played with it for a bit. I hate it. I hate it SO MUCH. Towering rage. It's everything I hate about the trend in computing to simplify the user interface and remove options from the new user while increasing the learning curve and throwing more barriers in the way of their becoming a power user.

The install process was fun, though. (And when two days of repeatedly looking for parts and installing and wiping and reformatting and reinstalling things on sd cards is the fun part...) It'd be better if I had a more modern pi than I do (mine's the original B model, their recommended model is 3) and were using a remote control or a controller, not a mouse and keyboard (which it wouldn't listen to apart from the three finger salute) and had a widescreen monitor not a square Dell from probably the early 2000s, but EVEN IF I had my setup exactly the way they thought I should (ugh) I would still have found their interface horrible.

I couldn't find the "shut down" option. No help menu. They had no way of adjusting the screen resolution for a non-standard sized monitor (maybe that's why I couldn't find a help menu or a shutdown option.) So much autoscroll, and the cursor was both laggy AND skippy, and this combined with the autoscroll meant I'd frequently have to wait while they cycled through the available options multiple times before I successfully selected one. They wouldn't let you scroll ANYTHING under your own power -- read the GPL at a snail's pace or click 'agree' without reading (I know what the GPL says, of course, BUT STILL.)

The default skin was the sort of thing that I can recognise as good design even if it's not my thing personally, but that was just about the only good thing. Well, except that I got all the way through the install, which I didn't with Raspberry Pi's own NOOBS installer, but if the end result is no working keyboard and a barely-working mouse, it's hard to call that a success. Well, except that I was more interested in building my own media centre than I was in having a media centre, so... mission accomplished? After that I installed Raspbian on it, and my next step is to fuck around with that some more and set it up so it's also usable as a media centre but less vass-hostile than OSMC for the same purpose, even if it doesn't look like a sleek modern media centre interface. The nice thing about the RasPi's sd card as hard drive deal is, it makes OS switching very straightforward (so long as the Pi isn't your only computer.) One can simply swap SD cards.

Back on my desktop, with the help of this comment I got i3 to put a random wallpaper on each workspace. Like most of i3's users, I hardly ever see my workpaces except covered with open windows, but it's still a happymaking thing. What I'm really hoping for is to get it so it puts a random wallpaper in every container. After which I can fire up Compiz and get transparency working and then every terminal window will have a different background showing through it! Which will probably get exhausting and overstimulating after a while, but I want to learn how to do it! (Huh. It miiiight actually be easier to attach the act of making a new wallpaper to opening a terminal, not to opening a container. Not sure. Needs testing. That would suit me, since terminal's about the only application I'd want to run with transparency and a wallpaper behind it.)

Cats

Dorian redecorated the toilet by knocking the cactus pot off the window sill above it.

Leaving for Dallas

Oct. 22nd, 2017 03:35 pm
cimorene: (yo)
[personal profile] cimorene
I'm going to be in the Dallas metro area for my little sister's wedding next week. Leaving Tuesday, and I'll be there until Nov 2. There will be family stuff and wedding stuff and I will be stocking up on things I have trouble buying in Finland like cotton yoga pants and cotton terry-lined socks.

And I'm PRETTY sure I don't know anybody in the Dallas area anymore from fandom, but feel free to contact me here or on Twitter if I've forgotten anyone.

Gratitudes

Oct. 20th, 2017 09:58 am
kass: a latte in a teacup with a heart shape drawn in the foam (latte)
[personal profile] kass
1. Beautiful sunny morning. Beautiful hills. Beautiful skies.

2. A latte. Because latte.

3. Goofy kid-and-kitten shenanigans this morning before school.

4. Shabbat is coming and I get to have Shabbat dinner with some people I love!

5. The Good Place is on On Demand, so last night I watched the two-part S2 premiere and it made me happy.

How are y'all?

dilemma solved!

Oct. 20th, 2017 09:29 am
the_shoshanna: pleased-as-punch little girl: "Ta-da!" (ta-da!)
[personal profile] the_shoshanna
Thanks to everyone who offered guest gift suggestions! So many great possibilities I feel silly for not thinking of; sometimes I get stuck on one thing that won't work, and can't wrench my brain away to look beyond it to things that will.

In the end I went to Ten Thousand Villages (well, Dix Mille Villages) and got a couple of paperweights/worrystones, one engraved "Joy" and the other "Peace." They're pretty and friendly, not so expensive or so cheap as to be embarrassing for anyone, and fitting for a church-related function. Plus they won't be degraded by spending ten hours in the car before being presented! Yay.

And I'm supposed to be on the road in two minutes and I'm not ready yet aaaaaa. Happy weekend, all!

Thank You!

Oct. 18th, 2017 05:43 pm
otw_staff: 'Comms' and 'Claudia' written beneath the OTW Logo (Claudia)
[personal profile] otw_staff posting in [community profile] otw_news
Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, October 12-18, 2017

However you took part in #otwdonate, thank you for getting us started on our next 10 years! We've got some numbers for you about how this membership drive turned out: https://goo.gl/SMZamk

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today's xkcd

Oct. 19th, 2017 08:30 am
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
[personal profile] vass
Research Risks

I have some thoughts:

1. Marine biology is low risk of misuse by supervillains? Come on! Sharks!

2. Molasses storage's low risk of breaking free and threatening local population: didn't that actually happen at least once? If we're counting trucks as facilities, I mean. Never mind, I should have looked at the mouseover text before posting.

3. I wouldn't put linguistics that low for supervillain risk, assuming the validity of the strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. (Yes, everything I knew about Sapir-Whorf did come from that one Delany book.)

4. But then, he put palaeontology low as well, and. Well. Do that right/wrong enough and you get both microbiology (bubonic plague! anthrax!) AND ornithology (dinosaurs!)

5. HE LEFT OUT ECONOMICS. And poli-sci (between history and sociology?) but imo economics is WAY scarier from both a supervillain and accidental escape perspective.

6. Really, isn't any discipline high supervillain risk if the supervillain has the right mental attitude?

7. If prosthetics is high supervillain risk/low escape risk, and dentistry is low supervillain risk/low escape risk, are dentures high or low supervillain risk?

Melbourne Storm

Oct. 19th, 2017 05:48 am
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
[personal profile] vass
It's been a week of 30 degree days (86 if you use Fahrenheit) and there seems to be a storm coming right about now. I have just realised that this might be why Dorian's been quite this excitable all day. The changing barometric conditions might be sending him into Anxious Soccer Ball mode.

Beatrice, being pounced on, responded to this by playing soccer.

Argh part 1,457

Oct. 18th, 2017 01:29 pm
viridian5: (Still fighting)
[personal profile] viridian5
I don't know yet whether my laptop is dead or only mostly dead and my local library only gives me an hour a day on its computers, so I don't think I'll be getting much written or done in the near future. (Pecking at the tiny touchscreen of my iPhone 5S to write fic isn't happening.) The shop guy says that if there's damage to my Windows OS since it's Windows XP and thus long discontinued and unsupported I might have to give my laptop up as dead. I'm hoping that at the very least he can save my files, since I don't have everything on my zip drives. My iTunes MP3 library alone, never mind ten years of photo files, never mind my nearly 20 years of fic....

I managed to post some things to [community profile] weissvsaiyuki and now today to AO3 but don't have the ability to post HTML files to my personal website in my current circumstances. You can see those fics on the DW community above or at AO3 as

Farce,” a post-canon, PG-13, Weiß Kreuz Crawford and Schuldig fic

and

Off the Chain,” a PG-13, gen, Saiyuki fic mostly featuring Gojyo and Sanzo

+++

I got my MRI and MRA tests results back and, as usual, they say I'm no more messed up than the last time I did them, which means my neurologist has no idea why my pain, odd sensations, and feelings of weakness have been worse in the last few weeks so he doesn't know how to treat them. Next verse, just like the first.

guest gift dilemma

Oct. 18th, 2017 11:05 am
the_shoshanna: a menu (menu)
[personal profile] the_shoshanna
This weekend I'm going to a workshop in Ontario, and I'll be staying three nights in the home of someone who has offered to host a workshop attendee. I don't know this person/people -- I don't even have a name or address yet, and may not be told until I arrive on Friday afternoon. Not that a name or address would tell me anything except how much time to allot to get back and forth between bed and workshop...

I'd like to bring a guest gift, as a way of saying thank you, but I'm finding myself paralyzed. (Also short on time, but that's a separate issue.) The traditional gift is food, right? Something homemade, that carries the signification of "I put work into this" as well as the general good feeling associated with sharing food. Or wine, which lacks the homemade aspect but adds extra celebratoriness to the good feeling aspect.

But, knowing nothing about the person I might be staying with, I'm finding myself blocked with worry about what might be appropriate. Alcohol is problematic enough for enough people that I'd rather not bring it -- plus I should bring something I'd want to consume myself, in case they invite me to share, and I'd rather not drink while I'm there. But food is difficult too. Sweets/desserts are the usual gift, for the special-treat feeling, and I'd rather not eat sweets either, really, but I can cope. But what if they're gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, sugar-free, kosher, halal, allergic, diabetic? Is there a universally suitable food gift? Is it okay if I bring something they can't eat? What if I accidentally hit on something to which they're so allergic that just having it in the house is a problem? Aaaaaaaa.

I definitely don't feel that a gift is required, and given time restrictions, I may end up bringing nothing anyway. But I'd like to if I can -- if I can think of something!

Uh, any suggestions?

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