demurral

Jul. 25th, 2017 10:39 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Gil McNeil, The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club (2009), orig. pub. as Divas Don't Knit in UK (2007): I pulled it off a library shelf without breaking stride, while following Reason to the checkout machine. It's light yet unexpectedly sincere-sounding given its rather typed cast. It begins right after Jo's husband, Nick, has declared his intent to leave her for a younger woman, then crashed his car into a tree and died accidentally. Go! Mrs. Go, in a next-door subgenre if not the same one, makes the protag's change in circumstance the centerpiece of her journey; this novel moves mid-thirties Jo and her two young sons immediately from London to seaside Kent, where she turns her life experience as a tv producer towards running her grandmother's yarn shop. (The narrative knows its knitting and its knit-shop vagaries.) It's hard work to float that light tone all the way through 400odd pages of "nothing" while setting up the narrator's view on single parenthood, which is quite practical, and while establishing a neighborhood's worth of characters and interactions at school, and while not becoming a completely vapid, precious froth. At the same time, it's so light that I slid through it during digestive flare #1 in May, at a time when I couldn't even read fic---so I kept going )

梅雨diary: Takayama or Bust

Jul. 25th, 2017 03:34 pm
steepholm: (Default)
[personal profile] steepholm
I'm now back in England for a few days. On Friday, like Odysseus with his oar, I will be setting out again, in a different direction, as westerly as my last trip was easterly, but I already feel quite disorientated.

That will keep, though. Let me bring my Japanese adventure to a brief conclusion.

By my third day in Kanazawa, I was a bit fed up at not feeling well enough to take advantage (or at least enjoyment) of all the interesting things on offer. As I mentioned in my last entry, Kanazawa has really thrown everything into being a tourist-friendly city, and one side effect is that, much more than in Tokyo itself, I often had shopkeepers waiters, etc. talk to me in English, despite my best efforts to talk to them in Japanese. Often I went with the flow, but on Monday something in me snapped. Seeking a small amount of food and a large amount of cool air, I went into a restaurant that had its menu in both English and Japanese, and having said "Hitori desu" (in context, "Table for one") was led to table by a waitress who insisted on repeating that back to me in English, as if (being a gaijin) I might not understand the Japanese I had myself spoken. I don't know why, but I felt a miffed by this, so when she came to take my order I made a point of reading it in Japanese, kanji and all - only to have it translated into English for my benefit again. A little later, I asked a different waiter for a water refill ("Sumimasen, omizu wo okawari oneigaishimasu!"), to which he replied, as if explaining a grown-up concept to a two-year-old, "Water."

I knew I was being a bit ridiculous, but it was beginning to feel like some kind of weird mind game. Eventually, not quite having been able to finish the food, I called yet a third waiter over, and said in Japanese that, although the food had been delicious, my appetite had recently been suppressed due to the heat and that I was therefore unable to eat it all. At last, this un-phrase-bookable little speech turned a key, and a suitable reply in Japanese was my reward, topped with the customary compliment on my linguistic skill (which, admittedly you get in many places if you manage to say "arigatou", but in this case felt like a crown of bays).

Vindicated, I set about paying my bill - but so dizzy was I with the twin draughts of heat and victory that I put down the wrong amount of money, and of course as soon as I got to the till all my good work was undone, as the woman kindly explained in English that "We need TEN more. TEN". In vain did I protest that my maths rather than my Japanese was at fault. In fact I was so flustered that didn't register the glass door at the entrance as I left, clattering into it and leaving an unsightly splodge of gaijin sweat at the level of my face - for which I apologised in good Japanese, I think, but by then that was no longer the point.

I hasten to add that this humiliating encounter was not typical. In fact, I had a recuperative episode an hour or so later in a small souvenir shop run by a very old, very small woman (she was 95, in fact, as she repeatedly informed me, deaf in one ear and blind in one eye). She told me all about her life - no nonsense about English here! And, to be fair, I've had a lot of interesting conversations in various places, usually with the owners of businesses where I was the only customer. I think of the bar in Nishiogikubo, learning (over a light tuna meal) why the owner threw it all up to become a whisky specialist; or the bar in Takayama where I drank iced coffee while the owner told me all about his motorbike obsession, which had taken him across Europe (Germany - land of beautiful cities and gentlemen - was his favourite, France - where people are "ijiwaru" - not so much, but for bike engines you can't beat Italy, apparently). On the whole, I think I've done okay, language-wise.

On Tuesday I caught a shinkansen from Kanazawa to Toyama, whence I rode a mountain train up, up into the mountains, past rivers, bridges, coniferous forests, dams, more bridges, etc. It was very beautiful, but I was happy to let the landscape slide by without photographing it. After all, most of Japan looks like this - trees and mountains, mountains and trees. The people live in the gaps in between.

My destination was the small town of Takayama, where I was booked in to a ryokan for a couple of nights. My appetite and energy still weren't back to normal (on returning to England I found that I had lost half a stone over the course of the month), and far from being treated to wafting mountain breezes, as had been my hope, the temperature in Takayama was still around 33 centigrade. Nevertheless, I really liked Takayama, not least because of its many rivers and streams, which criss-crossed the town in a way that made me feel quite at home (although probably no one else would have been reminded of Romsey). Anyway, here are a couple of boys looking at the carp in the river. I'm rather proud of this photograph!

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As well as rivers, Takayama was replete with many old (i.e. wooden) Japanese style streets, most of which sold either sake, hida beef, or sarubobo. What's a sarubobo? Why, it's the mascot of the town, as far as I could make out, which exists in the form of baby monkey with (generally) a blank red face - although Hello Kitty versions also exist - and is meant to be a good luck charm.

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The other big thing in the Takayama is the twice-yearly festival, which takes place in spring and autumn, and involves a number of ancient festival floats. Of course, I was there at the wrong time of year, but I did visit the shed where they are kept (I was almost the only visitor), where I listened to an English guide that was almost inaudible, though I forgave it for the honesty of the notice taped to its side:

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The floats were interesting, though:

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My last first in Takayama was entering a shared bath, something I'd not been in a position to do on my previous visits to Japan. There are many Youtube videos detailing the proper etiquette, and I was a bit nervous about committing some faux pas, but it seemed to pass off okay - at least, people were too polite to upbraid me if I did get it wrong...

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Don't know what they're doing
But they laugh a lot
Behind the pink door


I won't bore you with my uneventful trip back to Tokyo, or the pleasant last meal I had with Miho, Mikako and Hiroshii, or even my overnight stay at the Hotel Sunroute, Higashi Shinjuku. By that time I was in travel mode, and all my efforts were concentrated on making a month's worth of Stuff fit into my two cases. Instead, I will leave you with the following cheery message, which I saw in a Takayama toilet. In Japanese, it reminds people to take their rubbish away with them, but its message to foreigners is far more welcoming:

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Yes, Japan, I will keep bringing my trash! Hopefully I can bring some as soon as next year, but that depends on events still hidden in the mists of futurity...

This is turning into an annual ritual

Jul. 25th, 2017 12:27 pm
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
Or more like every 10-11 months. Guess who just bought a new computer? It me!

This time I don't think the demise of the old one is my fault - the battery was behaving weirdly on Sunday, and then yesterday at 40% power it went zoooop and wouldn't turn on again. It's still in warranty, so is being shipped back to Lenovo. In the meantime I still have work to do, so bought an itsy-bitsy teeny weenie Lenovo YogaBook, which is proving very difficult to type with (keyless keypad!) but otherwise seems like a Friend.

Naturally I hadn't made a recent file backup on the old computer, but I'm fairly sure the HD will be okay, and all my work stuff is on dropbox.

some things

Jul. 23rd, 2017 10:13 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
* I was reminded of Happy Together, last mentioned here two years ago, when Reason requested a Song So-hee clip from YouTube as bedtime music and YouTube's sidebar suggested the HT episode on which she'd appeared in 2014. (Reason is fascinated by a young entertainer; I ...want Song So-hee to continue maturing so that her voice sounds less shrill.) They seated her in the prestige spot, but she's youngest of the five guests on that ep and she knew it; she has restrained manners.

Anyway (I didn't watch the whole thing), then the sidebar suggested the 2014 HT featuring Jackie Chan, Narsha, and [Choi] Siwon. omg. (KBS is kind: HT ?always has English subtitles.) Chan speaks a bit of Korean, and the dour co-host speaks some Mandarin, so they patched the opener into a hilarious moment in which Chan (by far the eldest person present) says that he'd rather call the lead host "oppa" instead of "hyeong" because it's easier to say. In general, oppa is what a girl or woman might call a slightly older male person whom she considers close, or the term she'd use for an actual older brother; hyeong is what a boy or man would use for an older male person, similarly, except not so similar, is it, when most young women with boyfriends call the bf "oppa" too. And then Chan addresses the co-host as eonni (older sister if you're a female speaker). :P As the host remarks near the four-minute mark, everyone's wearing headsets so that offstage translators can supply the guests and hosts with translations as needed, heh. Those translators must be amazing---there's hardly a lag, and the manner of delivery (it's "live" comedy) suggests that they don't cut much during post-production.

Notably, the host calls Chan "seonsaengnim," teacher, which is as it ought to be. One reason that Korea likes Yu Jae Seok---"the nation's MC"---is that he's funny, he pokes at things, yet (at least on this show) he holds a line.

Also, Jackie Chan loves the environment, and he tries to make his staff respect it as well.

And then I stopped watching because sleep matters more, but on another day...

* ...I picked up the "I am from America" HT special (2015) with five guests, three younger and two older. I happen to have seen two (one from each subgroup) in kdramas: Stephanie Lee in Second Last Love and Yi Hyeon U in Dal Ja's Spring. The humor's more predictable because I'm more familiar with the crossings, but I still laughed. Must remember to dip into HT every so often for ear-practice.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
Currently Reading: Arundhati Roy, 'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness'; Science of the Discworld II, and a few other bits and pieces.

Recently Finished: Backdated reviews from the UK trip, as follows

The Lawrence Browne Affair (The Turner Series, #2)The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Apparently I was on a roll with 'accidentally reading book two before book one of a series'. I liked this one! Although without the context of book 1 I had some trouble figuring out WHY a slum-born swindler was a competent secretary, I liked it a lot. I liked that the give-and-take came from both directions (Georgie's decision to read up on electricity was a nice touch), and I'm a fan of the cast of supporting characters - Lawrence's female inventions buddy especially.

The Soldier's Scoundrel (The Turner Series, #1)The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I liked this one a lot less than The Lawrence Browne Affair. It just seemed... meh. Meh in world-building, and in character-building. I think there's only so many 'scoundrel goes straight for love' romances one can read in a row, and I was coming to Cat Sebastian off the back of KJ Charles' An Unnatural Vice.

Mother of Souls (Alpennia, #3)Mother of Souls by Heather Rose Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was *interesting*. This book is definitely marking a genre-stamp for the series, moving it more firmly into historical-fantasy and away from romance. Which, given I was getting sick of neatly parcelled romance novels, is a good thing to me. I enjoyed both of the new lead women characters, and the returning ensemble cast. It was particularly rewarding to see Anna the apprentice develop more as a character. The test to Margerit's worldview & philosophy of the mysteries via Serafina was great, as was the increase in ensemble cast diversity.

I'm just a bit surprised - I thought this was 3 in a trilogy, but it's clearly not a final-in-the-series book. This is, overall, a GOOD surprise. I have high hopes! Especially for Margerit's niece - I devoutly hope she's our next heroine.

Frenchman's Creek (VMC Book 2160)Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I've never read any Du Maurier, and I'm told this is atypical - the only one of her works she claimed as a romance at all. It was a bit weird to read, like, say, if you'd read LOTR *after* reading Raymond E Feist. Suddenly I could see all these influences on the queer histrom I've been reading - not only faithfully adapted elements but *deliberately departed from* ones. Like. If this was written by one of the m/m histrom crowd now, there would be a *lot* deeper interrogation of the class issues in the novel. (Class here is used primarily as a _uniting_ factor, something to bring its heroine together with her Manic Pixie Pirate Baron, and not really interrogated at all.) Fisherman's Creek is definitely better literature, but less self-aware.

Good things: it's not in the slightest HEA. Which I liked - I was surfeited on HEA by the time I got to this one, and I can't see how a HEA would have *worked* here (unless you rewrote it as m/m. In which case they run away to sea together).

Also, Our Hero is a Manic Pixie Pirate Baron. That part seemed fairly self-aware: burned out woman gets to meet an inspiring rebel who Changes Her Life and recharges her to go back to her real world, much as has happened to dudes in literature forever.

To review later: Georgette Heyer, Tanya Huff, a book about beds, the latest Archer magazine issue, and LM Montgomery's autobiography.

Up Next: I need to attack Carolyne Larrington's 'Brothers and Sisters in Medieval Literature'




Music notes: well I saw Midnight Oil, asyouknowBob. And I bought Alan Doyle's first solo album, Boy on Bridge. Today I noticed that the song 'Testify', which sounds like country-gospel, is actually a song about a dude escaping prison by staging a river immersion baptism. This pleases me.

Norður

Jul. 22nd, 2017 09:24 pm
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[personal profile] naraht
It's that time in the summer when I start to dream about being somewhere far to the north, with a view of the sea. To be fair, I also dream about the north in the depths of winter. To be even fairer, the weather here has been cool and rainy, so maybe that's made me think about northern climes.

If I were for some reason forced to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a hotel, I would go to the Fogo Island Inn, off the northern coast of Newfoundland.

Or maybe a less ridiculously posh place with bonus icebergs, the Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat, Greenland.

I remind myself that I've already got a weekend booked in Iceland on my way home to the States in December. And I can sit and enjoy views of the cold sea from a lovely steaming hotpot at any number of municipal pools. And my room probably has a view of the harbor!

But that's a long ways off. I'm pondering whether to plan an August long weekend somewhere in the UK, and whether it would be worth the faff to travel somewhere more northerly, as opposed to just going to Brighton or something. I'm very fond of Scarborough. I also have this weird desire to see the Isle of Man after watching the national road race championships a few weeks ago.

Also worth pointing out that I'm going to Saint Petersburg at the end of August, and perhaps that counts as northerly if not quite with an unobstructed ocean view? I'm rather tempted by Kronstadt...

07/21/17 PHD comic: 'Weekend Plans'

Jul. 21st, 2017 04:23 pm
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Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Weekend Plans" - originally published 7/21/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

Oh my

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:21 am
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
This morning I made pancakes and ate them on the balcony, and started reading Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. I'm only about two chapters in, and am already blown away by her prose and her... I don't know what to call it, exactly, but it's there in God of Small Things and it's there in this one, and I haven't found anything in between that quite tastes like they do.

Other facts:

- yesterday I spent 200 chf on a handbag. It's a very nice, very understated handbag made of good leather, so probably worth it. (There was a Fossil bag I liked, on sale, considerably cheaper, but it had suede panels and was probably more fashion-dependent.) Friend R went shopping with me, and I think I disappointed her: I did not want sparkles, or colour blocks, or quilt effects, or tassels, and most things with gold embellishments I thought were too overdone (for me: underdone for R, I'm sure). I kept gravitating to bags she described as 'my aunt has one like that'. Basically I wanted something considerably smaller than my satchel, that I can wear with a dress, and that won't draw much attention (so I can carry it with ANY dress. Or with a more masc outfit if I so choose).

- We then went prowling through the makeup section. I learned a lot of terrifying things about makeup. Again, a bit weird, because I'm attracted to makeup as a THING, but evidence proves I don't bother wearing it. R kept being like 'this would look good on you'. Well, yes. Except I wouldn't wear it. I bought some single-use face masque sheets from Sephora, though, and that turns out to be quite rewarding. I haven't had a good masque since I stopped buying clinque (the Sukin mud one may or may not have been good for my skin, but it didn't feel like anything on and was therefore a disappointment).

There have been some Girlfriend Situations in the past week that have varied from bloody brilliant (gosh I'm looking forward to seeing her!) to anxiety-hamster to quietly worrying.

(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2017 08:13 am
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
[personal profile] cesy
More things I have learnt from physio - mainly notes to self. I suspect [personal profile] hagar_972 and [personal profile] taennyn may have useful experience here, where I'm just starting out on the same journey they've already been on.

Muscles in the thigh - VMO, lateralis, the big quad one, the sartorius one across, adductors on the inside, abductors on the outside. VMO needs extra strengthening due to hypermobility. The small stabilising muscles tend to give up, then the big muscles compensate, and that's why my hamstrings get tight all the time. Then the hip/bum ones like glute max and glute mede also need help, particularly the latter.

Making sure things activate in the right order is hard. If the lateralis activates before the VMO instead of at the same time, then my kneecap slides sideways and that's one of the reasons it hurts. Trying to activate the VMO first will retrain it so they both go at the same time.
[syndicated profile] phd_comics_feed
Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "The Mysteries of SPACE" - originally published 7/19/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

Miscellaneous

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:01 am
highlyeccentric: Me (portrait by Scarlet Bennet) (Not impressed)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
1. I deserve points, because I just made a doctor's appointment for a non-urgent matter.

2. Midnight Oil concert was totally worth it. The anxiety I worked myself up into in advance of going to Paléo was not, really. There *were* big crowds coming in by 8, 9 pm - but not at 5pm for the opening gigs! It was super chill when I got there. I ended up leaving at about 8.15 - I'd moved on to a smaller stage featuring tiny british boys known as Temples, but the mix of cigarette smoke and pot in the air was making my eyes stream and my head hurt. I feel a bit... a bit useless because I went to a thing and LEFT as everyone else was arriving. But actually, who cares? I saw what I wanted.
2.i. I have to say though, some of the tracks off Diesel and Dust which if you think about them too hard are Not Cool, well. They are really uncomfortable when you're all standing on European soil. the Dead Heart, particularly: it's pretty close to musical blackface to begin with, and the cultural dislocation just makes it more obvious.
2.ii. Garrett chose to do his contextualising around 'imagine if the French government had got their act together and had made it to the east coast of Aus before the British, I'd be singing all this in French'. Which. Okay. He didn't try to suggest this would be better, or worse, colonialism-wise, but I was still not happy with the way it felt. And at some point he referenced 'our dear first peoples, the indigenous australians', and just. Nope. How patronising can you GET?
3.iii Rob Hirst remains crazy talented oh my goodness. I somehow forget to notice the complexity of the percussion if I'm just listening, but as soon as you see him in action: wow. Also, the percussion kit included an honest-to-goodness rusty corrugated iron water tank, which I can only assume they physically transported from Aus for use during 'Power and the Passion'. Hell yes.

3. I started making a weekly habit tracker thing. Like a sticker chart for kids - you set a number of chores or self-care activities and colour in when they're done. I think I've set 49 possible things over a week, but not all of them are daily so I have targets. If i met every target I'd be at 41 things; so far I'm rewarding myself if I get to 25. And it's... working? The first few weeks I had days with only one or two squares; now normal is 3 or 4.

And on that note I'd better go and address today's tasks, starting with 'walk to work' (i missed 'get up by 8')

梅雨diary: Yukata be Kidding Me

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:15 pm
steepholm: (Default)
[personal profile] steepholm
Early in my stay at Tonjo's Foreign Faculty Building, I joked to Miho that I didn't want to end up as the main character of a Japanese tale, 「可哀相な外人の物語」, or "The Story of the Pitiable Foreigner". The thought had been prompted by my bedtime reading of a Japanese novel that had one of its main characters, sleeping alone in an old building, rather suddenly and unexpectedly introduced to a ghost to his room at night. At that point, as I looked out at the grove surrounding the large and otherwise deserted old building in which I was then sleeping alone, I had decided that light fiction was a better choice.

The yurei and obake of Tonjo ignored me, happily, but I felt that fever took me pretty close to "Pitable Foreigner" status, had I not been able to pull out of the dive for my last evening in Tokyo, merely scraping the tops of trees and getting bits of bird's nest in my cleavage.

I was particularly glad, because this was the day that Satomi, her mother and her friend Chiaki (who as luck would have it works in a kimono shop) were coming to do yukata-related things with me. Our original plan had been ambitious - to go to Kanda shrine and watch rakugo. Gradually, though, with the temperature being in the mid-30s, this was reduced to eating some nice desserts at my flat, then walking elegantly around the grounds of Tonjo drawing admiring glances from all who beheld us. Anyway, here are some of my favourite pics from the occasion. There are quite a few, but feel free to scroll past:

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Obi Wonky Maybe?

Of course, I only included that last photo so that I could use the caption.

Then it was on to Miho's place in Nakano, where my appetite returned on cue, and I had a wonderful meal cooked by her husband Hiroshi, a fine chef as I remember from last year. (Unfortunately, he wasn't feeling well himself, for much the same reasons as me before, and had to retire early.) Satoshi Kitamura, whom I'd met at the Mexican embassy, was another guest at supper, and we had a very good talk about the varying degrees of (in)directness one might expect in different cultures, which issued in the following Buzzfeedish joint declaration (apologies for the national stereotyping, but sake is no friend to fine distinctions):

If an American thinks it's a bad idea, they'll say, "That's a bad idea."
If an English person thinks it's a bad idea, they'll say, "That's a very brave suggestion."
If a Japanese person thinks its a bad idea, they'll say, "The weather's been hot, recently, hasn't it?"

We had drunk quite a bit of sake by that time. Afterwards we walked fifty yards to the local festival, the other reason for being yukata-clad. It's a small affair but a popular and traditional one: Miho reminisced how the sound of the festival music used to excite her when she was at primary school (she's a little older than me), and she'd run home to change, ready to dance. As is typical in such affairs - not that I'd seen one before in real life - a temporary tower had been built in the centre of an open space, with a small stage surrounding it. At the top, a taiko drummer accompanied a set of maybe half a dozen tunes (each of which had a different dance associated with it), which were basically played in rotation throughout the evening, and from the tower strings of lanterns radiated like filaments from a web. There were various food and drink stalls (though not goldfish scooping, sadly!) around the edge of the area. Some people were watching, some were dancing - the dance involving (whatever the tune) a slow, anti-clockwise circuit of the tower, done in conjunction with various combinations of arm gestures, claps, turns, and forward and backward steps. Not too hard to learn, if you've had enough sake, and I followed Miho and gave it a go. I am no dancer in any idiom, but I remembered the lyrics of the Awa Bon Odori:

The dancers are fools
The watchers are fools
Both are fools alike so
Why not dance?


This has been my motto throughout the trip, and to be honest it's not such a bad one for life.

If you want a flavour of the sound and movement of the thing, please click through to the video below:

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That marked the end of my Tokyo stay, and the next morning I boarded the shinkansen to Kanazawa in the west of the country, a town famed for fresh seafood, for the garden of Kenrokuen, and for putting gold leaf on so many things that it would make a rapper blush.

The first thing that fascinated me, though (because I am a Big Kid) was the fountain at the station, which was also at times a digital clock. Cool! (I'm sure they have these kinds of things elsewhere too, but I've not seen one.) The station itself is pretty impressive. This huge structure at its entrance seems new, and I suspect may have been erected to celebrate the arrival of the shinkansen line from Tokyo a couple of years ago, after which Kanazawa put itself on a no-holds-barred tourist footing.

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I'd put myself up at an air BnB for three nights in Kanazawa, to justify two nights at a proper ryokan in Takayama afterwards. It was my first Air BnB experience, and while it was nothing special nor was the price I paid for it. The room was pretty bare, but everything promised was present, and at least I had this as the view from my window:

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I have to say that, throughout the next few days, my energy and appetite, briefly resurgent for the Nakano matsuri, went back into abeyance, so I don't think I was able to do Kanazawa justice. However, I did put the miles in! First stop was the impressive fish market (which looked delicious but prompted no appetite in me at all, alas), followed by the castle park. Of course, no one knows whether samurai armour was originally modelled on the appearance of Japanese castles, or the other way round. What is certain is that in the feudal period, once two castles spotted each other they were apt to convert (much like the Transformers of our own day) into mechanised fighting machines of ferocious violence and battle it out until one of them was a flaming heap (which was then officially blamed on earthquakes). The sight so disconcerted the shogun that he ordered that castles should never be built within 4 ri of each other, an ordinance still in place today.

Actually, that may have been the fever writing. Interesting as Kanazawa Castle may be, it's actually less famous than the adjoining garden, Kenrokuen - so called because it's a park (en) containing six (roku) features (ken) thought notable - although I'm not sure which six they had in mind. I saw a lot more, personally. Even for someone with low energy levels it was a very pleasant place to walk around, and oddly reminiscent (in its penchant for sudden prospects, islands with "fake" temples, sinuous walks, water features, and commitment to "nature methodised"), to the kind of thing that was being done in English landscape gardening over the same period. (I wish I had the knowledge and vocabulary to expatiate on this.)

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Naturally, after wandering in the heat for a while, you want something to help you cool down. As I mentioned earlier, putting gold leaf in, or on, pretty much everything is a Kanazawa speciality. Want yourself a gold-leaf face mask? We've got you covered. Sweets or soap or sake with bits of gold leaf inside? Of course. Actually, why not just buy yourself an ice cream cornet covered in a single sheet of gold leaf?

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Oh, okay then.

Today I am Doing A Thing

Jul. 19th, 2017 10:06 am
highlyeccentric: Vintage photo: a row of naked women doing calisthenics (Onwards in nudity!)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
I am going to a *music festival*. I have a ticket to Paleo (... somewhere. First quest: locate and print ticket), which is not a festival of weird food, but a festival of rock/pop music. Who knew?

Midnight Oil are playing on the main stage at 6. I was SUPER EXCITE when I bought the tickets (obviously, since I bought them) but now, in face of the prospect of travel, crowds, etc, I am less excite. I don't think I'll regret it, though.

Arcade Fire are on the main stage later tonight; I'm not sure that I'll stick around for that, though.

sippin' cuervo with no chaser

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:52 pm
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[personal profile] thistleingrey
Yoon Ha Lee, Ninefox Gambit (2016): usually I have trouble finding a title for a book post. This time, three came to mind: the one I've used, "the tactics of mistake," and "experimental procedures." Anyway. Kel Cheris begins as captain of a unit that gains strength and combat benefits from keeping rigorously in formation. After she attempts to solve a losing scenario creatively---and heretically---she's disgraced, but a bit more creative thinking makes her abruptly into a brevet general, the host-body to a dead mass murderer, Shuos Jedao. (Consider that many heads of units in wartime are mass murderers; though it isn't glorified here, it is ...quite present.) Kel command wants Cheris to subdue a heretical outbreak and retake the Fortress of Scattered Needles. Sort of. Well, the hexarchate, of which the Kel are one-sixth, doesn't like heretics because it messes with their calendar, but everyone (except Cheris, at first) is playing an extremely long game. Pass the metaphorical popcorn.
a bit more--not destructively spoilery (I think one cannot discuss this book at all without being *slightly* spoilery) )

As for this subject line, you know, don't you?

If you'd prefer an actualfax review to my untidy noodlings, try James Nicoll's, and if you don't mind implied spoilers for how Gambit wraps, here's his review of book two.
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[personal profile] davidlevine

IMG 7163
My second novel,
Arabella and the Battle of Venus
, sequel to the Andre Norton Award winning
Arabella of Mars
, comes out this week! The official release date is July 18, but I have seen copies in two bookstores already. You can buy it from Powell's, University Book Store, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Your Local Independent Book Store, or Amazon.

Is there an ebook? An audiobook?

The ebook of Arabella and the Battle of Venus should release simultaneously with the hardback, from all the major ebook vendors, without DRM. I haven't seen any sign of the audiobook yet, but for the previous book it followed the hardback release by a few weeks.

Are you planning a book tour?

Yes! Here are the planned stops:

If any of these events is local to you, please come if you can. There will be music, costumes, and giveaways! Come in costume! Tell your friends!

What's the book about?

From the publisher: The thrilling adventures of Arabella Ashby continue in Arabella and the Battle of Venus, the second book in Hugo-winning author David D. Levine’s swashbuckling sci-fi, alternate history series!

Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain.

To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.

Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire solar system if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.

What can I do to help?

You should buy the book, of course. Buying it on the release date is helpful but not necessary. If you can't buy it, borrow it from the library. If you can't find it at your local library or bookseller, ask them to carry the book. Also, it's extremely helpful if you post a review on Goodreads, Amazon, your own blog, or anywhere else people might see it. It's okay if you don't like the book! Even a negative review can be helpful if you say why you didn't like it. (Reviewer: "I hated this book! It has Martians and airships and girls dressing as boys! Yuck!" Reader: "Cool, that's just what I love!") And please mention the book to your friends online and off. 

Where should I buy the book? Is paper better than ebook?

Wherever and in whatever format you like to buy books. I get the same money wherever you buy it, and I don't care whether you read it on paper or on screen. There are benefits to me if you buy it on Amazon, but personally I'd prefer it if you would support your local independent book store. Or you could get it from Powell's, which is my local independent book store. You can even order a signed edition from Powell's, which I will sign for you at my reading on July 18.

How is Arabella of Mars doing?

Very well, thank you! It won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy and was nominated for the Oregon Book Award, Locus Award, and Compton Crook Award. Sales have been quite satisfactory, and the mass market paperback was released on May 30.

Will there be a book 3?

Yes! I just submitted the first draft last week, and it should be out about the same time next year. This third book, which is currently titled Arabella and the Winds of Phobos but might be called Arabella the Traitor of Mars, concludes Arabella's story, but there are more tales which could be told about other people in other times and places of Arabella's world.

How are you doing?

As you know, the last year has been an extremely difficult one for me. But I am doing better, and Arabella's success has been a great comfort. I thank all of you for your support of me and of the book.

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