Norður

Jul. 22nd, 2017 09:24 pm
naraht: (Default)
[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...

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.

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:

DSC00212DSC00211P1270005P1270036P1270070浴衣de東女_170716_0001P1260997

P1260973
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:

20170711124355

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.

DSC00261DSC00265

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:

DSC00221

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.)

DSC00240DSC00246DSC00248DSC00253DSC00255DSC00256


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?

DSC00258

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
thistleingrey: (Default)
[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.
davidlevine: (Default)
[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.

fiber monday

Jul. 16th, 2017 08:04 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Though I don't remember which day, I taught myself from books to knit about ten years ago this month (and to crochet ~21 years ago likewise). yay.

The ghost shawl has been bound off and washed, and its upper edge has been reinforced. Reason adores its colors and shape, whereas I feel awkward however I drape it, but it seems a bit too nice for her current age. Pondering. In any case, its shape---a triangle so wide and springy that one could block the upper edge as a curve or V---is instructive when tied onto me or Reason: if I ever knit Shore Hap, as I mean to, I'll need to enlarge it. Shore Hap's span is given as 125 cm = 50 in; the ghost as knitted is ~6'6 = nearly 2 m across. Even so, my sticklike and short torso can barely tie on the ghost shawl in the Shore Hap photo's manner. Inconvenient shoulders, again---but I'm learning. (Someone with my shoulder circumference "ought" to be much taller for something the ghost shawl's shape/size.)

Viajante's yarn ball is too large for my business trip. Heh. It's the size of a small adult head---1600 m = 400 g at fingering weight. When I have a 32L-capacity daypack (a bit under 2000 in3), I don't want to choose between yarn and some me-compatible snacks. Instead, the current office project will travel (Rendezvous), since it's in the first of its slated two 100g skeins. Its complexity is restrained by my having placed a marker every other motif-repetition; at least it's motif-driven, not two long segments of lace to either side of a center stitch. Those are my two projects on wooden circular needles---that's the other consideration, of course, wood needles short enough to pass muster as non-weaponry. Who knows whether Rendezvous will be large enough for the shoulders of doom, frankly, but I chose the largest size for which I have yarn....

The cardigans are on hold due to summer heat, though I ought to start my mother's soon regardless. Lena is about 15 cm high---round and round we go.

A thing I did in the UK

Jul. 15th, 2017 11:07 am
highlyeccentric: Dessert first - pudding in a teacup (Dessert first)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
After Leeds I met up with friend L, and we proceeded to Penrith, and then on foot out of town to an outlying mixed rural/industrial area (it was weird. It had sheep and a Local Business Park and a cake factory), where our accommodation was a 'camping pod' in a former orchard. Pretty cool, aside from getting rained on heavily to get there.

Saturday we marched up the road to the Rheged centre (me: oh, this are must have been part of Rheged! L: no, Rheged is a welsh place name, there was this king, Urien Rheged... me: let me tell you a thing about the fifth and sixth centuries) and took a bus down to Keswick, in the Lake District. It was very beautiful, we walked around Derwent Water, many sheep much scenery very wow (photos forthcoming see [tumblr.com profile] speculumannorum).

However, before setting off on the scenic part of the expedition we went to A PENCIL MUSEUM. And learned about the history of pencils. I'm not sure it was quite worth the 5 pound entry (it would've if we'd had kids with us: there was a whole room of colouring-in play space), but it was pretty awesome. Special points to the display on the Cumberland Map and Compass Pencil, produced at the behest of Charles Fraser Smith, the British govt's secret gadgets-commissioner for WWII.

I do so love weirdly specific museums.

random non-spoilery TdF observations

Jul. 14th, 2017 09:51 pm
naraht: Chris Froome and Peter Sagan chatting (other-HelloFroomey)
[personal profile] naraht
I've been feeling inexplicably unwell so I finished work early this afternoon and spent it lying on the couch watching the Tour de France...

• One of Britain's top cyclists from the 80s, Philippa York, has just publicly come out as trans during the Tour. Apparently she had been avoiding public life for some years, but people in the know were aware that she'd transitioned. What's heartening is that the reception from the cycling world has, as far as I can tell, been extremely supportive. She's been guest commentating on ITV for a few stages now, and I haven't heard a single stumble over name or pronouns. Chapeau, Philippa. It must have taken a lot of courage.

• David Millar gets so into the tactics. You get the feeling that he doesn't care so much who wins (or does a good job of covering it up, unlike Carlton Kirby, who has his crushes), but he gets passionately angry if he disagrees with a team's choices: "why are they doing that??!? It's ridiculous! What are they trying to achieve???"

Yet when Ned Boulting asked, he heartily and believably denied having any desire to be out on the mountain himself: "no, no, a thousand times no."

• I've managed to get my parents into watching the Tour. They're both backing Froome. What did I do to deserve this?

• As always, a special thanks is due to whoever at ITV does the end-of-show montages. They are always superbly on point and they almost always choose great music. Today I owe them particular thanks for introducing me to the music of Jacqueline Taïeb, a French singer of Tunisian origin from the 60s.

Apart from being a great song, Bravo just makes me think of the "Carlien Daten?" saga. (Spoiler: after the date they "decided to just be friends.")

I don't get the feeling that Taïeb pities (or particularly respects) the hero, though perhaps I'm reading too much into it...

(French lyrics)



• ETA: What have I learned from the Orica Backstage Pass so far? That Esteban Chaves is reading a Danielle Steele novel and that (unrelatedly) Matt Hayman has had to explain to him what a "bromance" is.

Forgive the repetition

Jul. 14th, 2017 10:49 am
highlyeccentric: Graffiti: sometimes i feel (Sometimes I Feel)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric


Thing I learned: Alan Doyle's current touring band, the Alan Doyle Trio (not the Beautiful Gypsies, good news on the not-having-a-racist-band-name front) were touring with the Barenaked Ladies in April. And my fave track from the 2015 album was co-written with the lead dude from BNL. (Who is also getting round and old lookin' and that hasn't decreased my attraction to him either, sigh.)

Also the attractive lady with the violin is Kendall Carson.

The video for Summer Summer Night was released yesterday and I'm not impressed. They seem to have decided that Alan is too old to front a scene about dreamy summer beach parties, which, OKAY, but I am not interested in desaturated slomo shots of blandly attractive young people dancing. At the expense of shots of Alan and his ridiculous face and/or Kendall Carson and her... everything.

So I'm watching this live video instead.

WELL

Jul. 14th, 2017 08:52 am
highlyeccentric: Divide by cucumber error: reinstall universe and reboot (Divide by cucumber)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
I was just thinking yesterday that Auspol had been suspiciously normal, compared to the UK and the US, for at least a week.

NEVER FEAR. Today I woke up to news of:

A: SECRET KIWI IN THE SENATE

and

B: Turnbull's plans to override the laws of mathematics.

I'm not sure what's best about item A: that Scott Ludlam has been an illegitimate senator all this time, or that he DIDN'T REALISE HE WAS A KIWI. He 'didn't realise citizenship followed you like that'. You're a SENATOR, sir.* How many immigration debates have you slept through?

Item B is pure gold and the best motivation I have ever heard for subscribing to a VPN service. Declare your allegiance to the laws of mathematics!

* Wait, no you're not. You've never actually been a Senator. You've just been... in the Senate. A secret Kiwi in the senate.

Wheelchair recs

Jul. 13th, 2017 07:22 pm
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
[personal profile] cesy
Your first wheelchair by [personal profile] kaberett was brilliant for helping me upgrade from Shopmobility's hire chair to something designed for active use and being pushed by the person in it rather than a carer.

The Spinal Cord Injury Empowerment Project by the University of Washington has excellent videos on wheelchair skills. The American accent and cheery tone grates after a while, but it's very useful info and nicely bite-sized.
steepholm: (Default)
[personal profile] steepholm
On Thursday evening I found myself with Miho and Mikako at the Mexican Embassy, which was hosting an event about Mexican-Japanese literary relations. This is not, to put it mildly, my area of expertise, but it sounded like an interesting gig, so with my credo of cultural omniverousness I went along. Most of the talks were in Spanish with Japanese translation, or Japanese with Spanish translation, which was an interesting challenge (I don't speak Spanish at all). The one exception was Satoshi Kitamura, once a long-term resident of England - you may remember Angry Arthur? - who, perhaps because he knew I was in the audience, kindly translated himself into English as well.

DSC00171

From what I could make out through the dark glass of linguistic ignorance it was a good event, with some interesting stats, such as this one showing the huge imbalance between languages that have been translated into Japanese for children's books. (The columns represent English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Chinese.)

DSC00168

At dinner afterwards I happened to find myself next to Diana Wynne Jones's Japanese publisher, which made for a very stimulating conversation, particularly about titles. (Not only that, the following day I talked with DWJ's Japanese translator about the same subject.)

The 7th July is, as any fule kno, the festival of Tanabata. (Long story short, there were once two stars - let us call them Will and Lyra - who fell in love but were separated, and destined to be able to be with each other only for one day each year, this being that day: it has thus become a festival for lovers particularly.) This was to be a) my first festival in Japan and b) my first opportunity to wear my yukata. My friends Yoshiko and Hiroko had agreed to come with me, and indeed Yoshiko pointed out that her university was holding a Tanabata event, which included a free yukata-dressing service (even Japanese people don't find these things so easy!). Of course, I gratefully took up the offer, and so it was that I found myself on the 8th floor of Taisho University, in a room full of people being yukata'd up, having their hair put right, and so on, under the expert tuition of a group of (it seemed) professionals, two of whom immediately set their sights on me.

I don't suppose there can be any of us who hasn't fantasised at one time or another about being taken in hand by a pair of no-nonsense, Japanese ladies of middle age, and tucked, trimmed and twirled like a kokeshi doll, but I never thought it likely to happen in real life. After emerging from this experience I was passed on to a student to have my hair plaited and my decorative flower attached. The whole thing took, maybe, twenty minutes, and this was the result:

DSC00172
DSC00174

Silk purses and sow's ears, and all that - I think they did a very good job with the material available.

Before the festival, a few of us slipped out for a meal of sake, raw fish and yakitori (yes there were also vegetables - but no, they were not boiled sprouts). In amongst the rest were a first for me, whale sashimi - something I was a little leery of for a number of reasons; but in a "When in Rome, everything comes with garum" spirit I gave it a go. I've got to say, it was really good! And - well, of course this shouldn't be surprising - far closer to beef than to tuna. (My mother has often mentioned the "Whale Steaks" served during wartime austerity as among the worst foods she's ever tasted, but I rather suspect they didn't know the best way to cook them at the Lyons Corner House, let alone prepare them as sashimi.)

The Tanabata celebration we went to afterwards took place at a local shrine - as you can see, it's a colourful event. We each wrote our prayers (mine in Japanese probably illegible to any but divine beings), and hung them with the rest, and shuffled off to bed (as you do in geta).

DSC00180IMG_6300
DSC00187IMG_6298

The following day was the day of my lecture at the International Children's Library in Ueno, which is the children's section of the National Diet Library, the equivalent of the British Library. They sent a taxi to take me all the way from Tonjo to Ueno, about an hour's drive through central Tokyo. I was once again amazed at the decor of Japanese taxis, with their white crocheted (or tatted?) antimacassars, seemingly the product of a cottage industry run by a secret society of international, time-travelling Victorians. (I didn't take a photograph, but try this one for size.) The white gloves worn by the driver didn't faze me, for white gloves are to be seen in so many places in Japan, most obviously since I've been here by the people inside the election vans that drove though Tokyo in the run-up to the recent elections. Apparently the message on the loudspeaker was simply saying, in effect, "Vote for me!", but inside half a dozen white-gloved people (from a distance I suppose only their hands were visible) were smiling and waving, to add a human touch to what could otherwise come across as a rather hectoring message. Once, I was walking up a small side street when one of these vans passed me and a young woman hung out of the side of it, smiling and waving, and I admit that I was struck by her sincerity and, by extension, the economic soundness of the policies advocated by her party's representative. Still, "投票できない" I sadly informed her.

The library is a rather splendid building, and I was given a tour of it, the most exciting bit naturally being those parts the public doesn't get to see, namely the basement vaults, where you have walk across a very large fly-paper to get the dust off your shoes before you can enter. "We keep this at a constant temperature of 22 degrees," Ms Nakajima, my guide, informed me, "to preserve the books." I actually felt it to be a little cool for comfort, and congratulated my body on its ability to acclimatise. But, those whom the gods wish to destroy they first persuade that 22 degrees is a bit nippy, as I would later have cause to remember...

Ms Nakajima went on to tell me that they didn't keep manga - including things like Shounen Jump - at this branch of the library, but at the main branch in Nagacho, because manga wasn't thought of as essentially children's literature. However, they did have magazines for children and teenagers. Wondering exactly what this distinction amounted to, I took a volume at random from the shelf - a pink affair with the words "My Boy" written in English on the front and a picture of a rather beautiful young man. In fact, there seemed to be rather a lot of beautiful young men in evidence, and the volume fell open at a page at which one was depicted (in some detail) giving another oral sex. I'm still trying to get my head around a cataloguing system that classes this under children's literature but excludes One Piece. (According to Wikipedia, in 2009 62.9% of Shounen Jump readers were under the age of fourteen, just as a data point.) But all cataloguing systems have inherent contradictions, because the world's a contradictory place, as I have argued elsewhere...

My Boy was of course a work for fujoshi - mostly straight females who enjoy reading about male-male sex. Has anyone ever done a comparison between that demographic and the slash fiction phenomenon in the West? Probably - but if not, they should.

The lecture went well - and afterwards they sent me some pictures, in most of which I'm grimacing like Theresa May, but here's one that I feel sums up the actual spirit of the event far better, although you wouldn't get that there was quite a large audience. To my left sits Professor Hishida, who was acting as my interpreter:

IMG_9222

I got the taxi back, feeling strangely tired, but I put that down to nerves (not that I'd felt nervous, but perhaps my body knew better?), and stopped off at the little restaurant next to Tonjo called Paper Ban - odd name, but there you are - and ate a curry and rice topped with grilled cheese, a surprisingly satisfying combination. Then I went to bed at 9pm, feeling very tired....

... and slept feverishly for the next 12 hours.

At first, of course, I blamed the mosquitoes. Could it be malaria? Did it call for a G&T? But Dr Google said no, Japanese mosquitoes are malaria-free - so I tried to cure myself of hypochondria by rereading the first chapter of Three Men on a Boat, a worthwhile experience at any time, and reconciled myself to the fact that it was probably the heat, and constant mixing of heat with air-conditioned cold - the same thing that triggered my previous fever, four years ago in Boston (in the UK I never seem to be ill).

Anyway, I've been living with that fever for the last few days. It tends to hit in the evening (it's due just around now, in fact), sends me shivery, coughing and sans appetite to an early bed, and then releases me in the small hours, a little spacey and weak, but able to do some basic things. On Sunday, for example I was able make it to Kagurazaka for a lunch date with my internet friend Yuki (she's the one in the middle), though my appetite wasn't great:

DSC00190

And on Monday for a lunch date with my other internet friend Yuka in Shibuya (I also have friends called Yako and Yoko, in case you're wondering). She'd come from Kobe specially, so I could hardly cancel - besides, I was really pleased to see her.

DSC00195

And on Tuesday Miho's class came to my flat for tea, after a Q&A session:

DSC00204
Me and my Crew

But I was not at my best for any of these events. And I had to cancel Tomoko, and decline invitations from Akira, Yasuko and Chie...

Yesterday I spent more quietly still, venturing only a short air-conditioned bus-ride to the cinema to watch the first film from Studio Ponoc, Mary and the Witch's Flower. If you haven't heard of Studio Ponoc it's run by a lot of ex-Ghibli staffers, and the director of this film is the Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who also directled Arrietty and When Marnie was There.

DSC00209

Since this film too was based on an English children's book, Mary Stewart's The Little Broomstick (1971), I was curious to see what he'd done with the source material - especially since, compared with The Borrowers and When Marnie was There, the source is pretty slight. I was feeling quite good, though on the bus-ride I ran through the Crispin's day speech in my head and found my cheek wet with tears, which wasn't a good sign (though to be fair I'm easily moved to tears and that speech is a blinder).

I'd seen from the trailers that Mary and the Witch's Flower appeared to be set in England, which is what made it especially intriguing to me, the other two stories having been transposed to Japan. And it was indeed set there, although this is never mentioned. Even more specifically, the landscape looked just right for Shropshire, the book's setting. The house, the character's clothes, the street, all looked right - except, oddly for Peter, Mary's friend, who in the 1971 book is the vicar's son, but here appears (to my eye) to have wandered in from America:

Peter
Genuine question: would you be surprised to see a rural Shropshire 12-year-old dressed this way?

Overall the film was in improvement on the book, I thought, though it did recycle an awful lot of Ghibli tropes. One interesting thing is that, while everyone spoke in Japanese (obviously), when they wrote, they wrote in English. I wonder what the reasoning is there? Is it somehow more implausible, or more illusion breaking, to be seen to write Japanese than to be heard to speak it?

I felt reasonably good after the film, to the extent of making a plan to visit Shakey's for a tentative pizza, and then the shop called "Snobbish Babies" on the fifth floor of the station. (What can they sell?) Alas, before I'd got very far into the pizza the shivers descended again and forced me homeward. So today I've been extra quiet, writing blog posts and doing other such harmless nonsenses, but this one has already gone on quite long enough, so I will leave you for now with a calming picture of some carefully packaged but hugely expensive, and no doubt very delicious, Japanese fruit.

DSC00210

Yes, that mango really will cost you £9.50

This is a Musical Rec

Jul. 13th, 2017 10:08 am
highlyeccentric: Firefley - Kaylee - text: "shiny" (Shiny)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric


Single from Alan Doyle's forthcoming album 'A Week at the Warehouse'. I don't know why but I hadn't listened to any of his solo / Beautiful Gypsies stuff*, and I've just discovered it and it MIGHT reconcile me to the break-up of GBS.

*Well. Maybe the TERRIBLE BAND NAME. No points, Alan.

huh, a meme

Jul. 12th, 2017 09:12 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
from a locked post

Read more... )
highlyeccentric: Joie du livre - young girl with book (Joie du livre)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
My now-habitual consumption of a stack of romance & pulp during conference season stood me in good stead again, and then, my usual resorts exhausted, I turned to du Maurier and Heyer. So far I do not object to this choice.

Currently Reading: Georgette Heyer, 'A Civil Contract'; Tanya Huff, 'The Second Summoning'.

Recently Read:

For work, Utz's 'Medievalism: A Manifesto'

Spectred Isle (Green Men #1)Spectred Isle by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I LOVED THIS BOOK. (I have an ARC of it, which meant it got to be the first of my conference-season comfort reads.)

It has WWI angst and magic and 12th century ghosts, it's like it was written expressly for meeee. Our Hero ended WWI in disgrace for a crime that he variously implies constitutes sodomy and/or treason (exact details are only slowly doled out, in a careful integration with the plot). He is no longer welcome to excavate with his former mentor Leonard Woolley* and has ended up working for a rich gentleman with dubious ideas about the network of magical sites across London. Unfortunately for all concerned, there IS a network of magical sites across london, and Our Hero keeps stumbling across the man who's tasked with (in the absence of his family and allies, all lost in the war) keeping them under control.

Shenanigans ensue. Folk tales turn unfriendly. Unquiet ghosts from the Anarchy period must be put to rest, et caetera. I am particularly fond of the role which Randolph's deceased fiancé ends up playing - this book doesn't fall into the trap of completely eliding women from its m/m universe.

(*I mentioned this aspect to an archaeologist friend and her response was to suggest he should work with Mortimer Wheeler instead. Apparently Mortimer Wheeler is infamous for sleeping with anything that moved.)



An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities, #2)An Unnatural Vice by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It's possible my enjoyment of this book might have been improved by realising it was number two in a series (some key plot points did seem rushed!), but perhaps not. I really, really loved the dynamic between these two, and the resolution re Jonah's career juuuust managed to convince me. (I like that. I like that it was teetering on the edge of something I was going to be pissed with, only to find a way to do it well.) I love how much both of them love the people in their lives. A++



The Secret Casebook of Simon FeximalThe Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by K.J. Charles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is... odd. It starts as a collection of short stories, grows something resembling a through-plot, and ends as a set-up for the Green Men books. I think I'm glad I read it only AFTER having read Spectred Isle - I liked it as a prequel to that, better than I think I would have on its own. It does showcase KJ Charles' command of folklore and local history, which I particularly like.



An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities, #1)An Unseen Attraction by K.J. Charles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Plot-wise, this solved some of my problems with 'An Unnatural Vice' (turns out it helps to read things in order, who knew). It has several threads going on, and handles them all well. In terms of characterisation, Clem is a really good piece of writing on Charles' part - it's clear that he is autistic-or-something-like-it, but that's framed in terms that work in his setting. His position as a bastard of mixed race is mixed in with that with finesse, in such a way that you can tell that the two alienating factors are feeding into each other (a brilliant illegitimate son, or a neuroatypical heir, would both have had very different fates). I like that Clem isn't entirely alone in his family, and his cousin Tim is a good egg.

For some reason, I just didn't *click* with this pairing as well as I usually do with Charles' couples. I found them both, and their wants and their working out of the ways they fit together, fascinating, but not compelling.



Also finished: two Cat Sebastian m/m ... not bodice rippers if no-one's wearing bodices. Waistcoat-rippers? Cravat-rippers? Daphne du Maurier's 'Fisherman's Creek', which turned out to be an obvious influence on one of the former. And Renée Adieh's 'The Rose and the Dagger', which I'm still a little bit... dissatisfied with.

Up Next: Work things. I have a whole book on beds to read. Don't you just envy me?




Music notes: didn't listen to much while travelling, but today I coaxed Spotify into revealing to me that Alan Doyle has a new single and an album I didn't know about. My feelings on this matter are YES GOOD.
naraht: Chris Froome and Peter Sagan chatting (other-HelloFroomey)
[personal profile] naraht
I did actually laugh out loud at this one. I love these guys. Can they be a Yuletide fandom?

Upcoming Appearances

Jul. 11th, 2017 10:20 am
davidlevine: (Default)
[personal profile] davidlevine
I have finally gotten around to updating the Upcoming Appearances page on my website, and boy howdy do I have a lot of them!

With the release of Arabella and the Battle of Venus coming on July 18, I will be doing readings in Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco that week. Come and hear a new song, get new swag, hear a new reading, and see the same old writer in the same old costume!

Immediately after that I will be off to Europe for the Writing Excuses cruise and Worldcon. In November there's World Fantasy, Wordstock, SFWA readings in Seattle and Portland, and OryCon, and in December there's Writers with Drinks in San Francisco. It's going to be a busy year. And that isn't counting square dances, travel to visit family and friends, and non-public events!

I hope to see you at one or more of the following events. Click the links for more details.

Profile

ashwednesday: ocean (Default)
ashwednesday

January 2013

S M T W T F S
  12345
67 89101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags