My captain’s keyboard has stopped working. :}
I’m almost positive I know what the problem is. There are about 8 keys that don’t work, and there’s a pin in the PS/2 connector that got bent a while ago. I was able to nudge it back into place, but it got yanked and bent again and although I’ve nudged it back into place again, I think the base of the pin is no longer connecting.
I’m also almost positive this could be fixed by splicing a new PS/2 connector into place.
The PROBLEM is that the OTHER end of the connection is wired directly into the keyboard (of course), and the keyboard, being two unwieldy pieces, is a pain in the ass to bring anywhere. Assuming there’s even somewhere around here that would do this kind of thing.
It’s frustrating knowing I probably know half a dozen people who could do this in 30 minutes, but they all live on the other side of the world. >.<
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
- Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, by Lauren Redniss. Really fascinating art piece sort of about Marie and Pierre but also about the terrible things we do with radioactive materials. Loved the fact that the book glowed in the dark.
- Life's Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, by Willie Parker. Memoir by a black born-again Christian who performs abortions in Mississippi and Alabama. Pretty amazing.
- The Furthest Station, by Ben Aaronovitch. Enjoyable novella in the Rivers of London series. I liked the additional fleshing out of the history and mechanics and the mystery in this one was interesting--and I'm pretty sure it's laying groundwork.
- Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The plot was slow and mostly designed to allow us to watch cool visuals, which was fine. Valerian and Laureline's romance was zero chemistry and full of gross sexism, and the Rihanna stuff was seriously gross "magical Negro" stuff to boot. Having said that, I want to raid the setting for ideas and I did like the caper parts.
- Mandolin Orchestra Mauro e Claudio Terroni, Bach and Vivaldi for Mandolin. After having heard star players do the mando versions of these tunes, it's interesting to hear it in the Italian classical tradition.
- Marnie, Strange Words and Weird Wars. Bought this on one of the pledging services a while ago. This is okay but if it were dude music, I'd be disappointed. I don't think I'll pledge her next album.
- Nicole Atkins, Goodnight Rhonda Lee. Also someone's next album I bought on a pledge. The music, again, is less to my taste than previous outings but unlike Marnie, Nicole Atkins' voice really has grown on me and I know I'll like it better on second listen.
- Renaud Capuçon, Glass: Violin Concerto No. 1 - Bernstein: Serenade after Plato’s Symposium. Putting my toe into the orchestral stuff here with one thing I knew I'd like and another I was interested in trying. I can hear why they were paired together. I like the Glass better but I'm glad I investigate the Bernstein.
I should probably have started cooking before 7:30. It came out fine, even though I topped it with jack and not Parmesan cheese.
Perhaps next I will make:
I am still reading books. Let's get to it.
First up:The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden. This book started off really rocky for me, but picked up considerably by the end. The setting is a near-future South Africa where people have personal robots and advanced genetic engineering to bring back some extinct species. It also has an ancient African goddess who is looking to get her mojo back via blood and fear. This mixture of sci-fi and fantasy is always a difficult sell with me. As the book rolls forward, it leans more heavily into the fantasy side of things which I think is why the book piked up for me in the back half when it finally settled down.
So yeah, ancient African goddess wants to disrupt humanity to re-ignite the age of the gods. To do that, she's taking advantage of a genetics program to bring the local dik-dik population under control and the recent introduction of a new designer drug that gives people a glimpse into their divine nature. Opposing her is a young girl who might be more creation than child, a young teen who can't quite say "I love you" to his boyfriend, and the young man's personal robot whose 1's and 0's are starting to turn into 2's.
There's a lot of good world-building (both sci-fi and fantasy) and the characters are pretty well fleshed out. While the book has a fairly serious plot, there's some really fun bits of dialog and humor. I'm a little cranky about mixing genre's but I did enjoy the book and if you're less snobbish, you'll probably like it start to finish. There's clearly some openings left for a sequel, but the book stands pretty solidly on it's own.
Next, Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Empire by Tom Wainwright. Mr. Wainwright is a journalist for the Economist magazine and he spent a number of months examining the drug trade as a business and what sorts of economic forces bear on it. From fields of coca in Bolivia, poppies in Mexico, weed in Colorado, and designer drug labs in New Zealand, he looks at how drug cartels create, ship and sell their product. He runs the numbers to show how the value of drugs increases along each step of the chain from growers to consumers and how the cartels maximize that value, both through violence and basic business management.
He covers a lot of ground and at the end suggests how we might better spend our money in the fight against drugs. Not surprisingly, like many people who've investigated drug trafficking, attacking the issue of demand (treating addicts and using public campaigns to prevent new ones) tends to produce a better return on investment than attacking the issue of supply (spraying fields, border security, and the like). The solutions don't seem terribly new to me, but it was an interesting look at how criminal businesses operate and how they interact with each other.
I also finished up the last book in the Swallows and Amazons series, but that's a separate post.
I saw a thing yesterday that said “Buying fabric and sewing fabric are TWO SEPARATE HOBBIES.”
I actually feel that I understand so much more about the world now.
I’m now up to 6 artist’s figurines (I need to write more reviews) and I was unable (or unwilling) to resist a set of 14 archival color pens, plus all the stuff I already own, but do I actually draw? No, hardly ever. (That said, I’ve done more this year than in many years.)
Anyway, point is I’m back to that “I want to draw some silly little story like Questionable Content only about, IDK, fat 40somethings instead of hipster robots” thing. Except I really don’t want to draw a story about fat 40somethings because ugh life. I want to do something cute and funny that I don’t have the skill set for but who cares I’ll do it anyway because it doesn’t matter. Or something. And I want just enough pressure to help me do maybe half an hour of art a day without having any real expectations.
Which of course is not much like my personality at all, because yes, I have met me. :p
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
( This is something I posted on Facebook about the new Doctor Who and I feel like it's still a good summary of where I stand. )
I should have posted this yesterday, but appropriately enough, I was too busy prepping for the game I ran last night. 🙂
Dice Tales: Essays on Roleplaying Games and Storytelling is out now! If you play RPGs and have an interest in them from the narrative side of things — the ways we use them to tell stories, and what GMs and players can do to make them work better in that regard — you may find it of interest. Follow the link to buy it from Book View Cafe, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes, Kobo, or (in a first for me) DriveThruRPG. And if any parts of it wind up working their way into the games you play or run, let me know!
Also, the New Worlds Patreon has headed off into the wilds of rudeness, with two posts on “Gestures of Contempt” and “Insults.” The theme will continue through the end of this month before turning in a new direction for August. Remember that patrons at the $5 level and above can request topics, so if there’s something you’d like to see me discuss, you can make that happen!
- Class, Episode 5. I forgot a bit about where we were last time but oh, yes, and that, and I really like this show. And I'm bummed that it doesn't look like it's going to get a second season.
- Orphan Black Season 5, Episode 6. We're now rapidly careening toward the series finale with twists galore (some of them foreseeable, others less so) and the heart of darkness finally starting to blow up. I'm going to miss this show when it's gone.
Having cried all over the WRINKLE IN TIME trailer, I thought I’d better re-read the book immediately to get a proper feeling for it again. It’d been at least twenty, possibly thirty, years since I’d read it, and…
…it’s kind of equally weirder and more mundane than I remember it.
I was prepared for, although somewhat exasperated by regardless, the Christian allusions; whenever I last re-read L’Engle, I was adult enough to notice her books are really laced with Christianity, so I knew that was going to be there. The story itself is actually a lot more straight-forward than I remember it being; possibly I’ve conflated the other books with it, or maybe it’s just that the weird bits are SO STRANGE that I thought the story structure had to be a lot more complicated than it really is.
It’s not, from a modern storytelling perspective, especially well told. It takes about four chapters to really get going, and it’s only a 12 chapter book. There’s a lot of telling, but not much in the way of showing in terms of…*why*. Meg is not, to the adult modern reader, particularly sympathetic: she doesn’t fit in at school, she’s angry in general and specifically very defensive about her father’s absence, and is apparently some particular kind of dumb that excludes being spectacularly good at math. That dumbness may be meant to indicate she’s socially inept, but although that certainly appears to be true, it doesn’t seem to be what’s really going on.
But that…dumbness…whatever it is…is crucial through the whole book. Meg doesn’t tesseract as well as the others. Meg is more vulnerable to the Darkness than the others. Meg won’t understand if you explain the thing…but I never understood why. (I’m not sure I understood as a kid, either, but it didn’t matter as much to me then.) And it’s apparently not something that came on simply because Mr Murry disappeared, because even he comments on it, and had done so before his disappearance, so you can’t lay her anger/ineptitude at the feet of her father’s disappearance.
And, just as much as Meg’s lack is not explained, neither are Calvin and Charles Wallace’s aptitude. Calvin communicates well; well, okay, that’s fine, but why does it make it easier for him to tesseract? Charles Wallace is, as far as I can tell, not even actually human, and Calvin, who does not come from the Murry family at all, is apparently More Like Charles than Meg is. But I don’t know what they are, or why they are, or why they’re the special ones and our heroine isn’t (well, that last one is institutionalized sexism, but let’s move past that). I remember *loving* Charles Wallace (and crushing terribly on Calvin), but I find him fairly creepy now, and that’s as the parent of an extremely self-assured little kid who, like Charles Wallace, is quite certain he’s able to Do It His Way without listening to the wisdom, or at least the experience, of his elders.
The one thing that maybe felt the most true to me in the whole book was Meg coming around to being the one who can save Charles Wallace. She wanted someone else–her father, specifically, but ANYBODY ELSE–to have to do the hard work. She was terrified and resentful of having to do it herself (and possibly that’s what the aforementioned “dumbness” is, since everybody keeps saying If you’d only apply yourself, Meg,, but that still doesn’t explain why she doesn’t tesseract as well, etc), and that seems very appropriate to a 13 year old to me. To people a lot older than 13, too, for that matter. But it comes in the 11th
hourchapter, and her willingness to go on there is the only time in the book that she moves forward of her own volition. I’m not saying that isn’t fairly realistic, maybe, for a young teen, but in terms of making a dynamic book, it…doesn’t, really.
There are parts of the book that remain wonderful. The Mrs W are still splendid; Camazotz (which I always read, name-wise, as being what happens when Camelot goes terribly wrong) is still EXTREMELY CREEPY, and the thrumming presence of IT remains startlingly effective. Aunt Beast is wonderful. (So basically: the aliens work a lot better for me than the humans do.)
It doesn’t feel like a book that could get published now. It would need more depth; it felt shallow to me. A lot of its weirdness seems to me like it came very specifically out of the 50s and early 60s; I don’t think that book would, or perhaps *could*, be written now. It’s very internal in a lot of ways, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the film adapts the weirdness and the internalness and Meg’s basic lack of agency into an accessible story. My *feeling* is that they’re going to do a magnificent job of it, that it’s going to be one of those cases like Frankenstein or Jeckell & Hyde where the book’s conceptual foundation proves more powerful in film than it does on the page. I hope so!
But you know what I really wanted to do when I finished reading A WRINKLE IN TIME? I wanted to re-read Diane Duane’s SO YOU WANT TO BE A WIZARD, because I felt like the Young Wizards books use A WRINKLE IN TIME as a conceptual springboard and dove off into something that worked a lot better as a *story*.
So I guess I know what’s up next (or soon, anyway) on the Catie’s Re-Reads list. :)
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
I had the pleasure of meeting Michael F. Haspil at Denver Comic-Con recently, and he had me at the word “Egyptology.” The hero of his debut novel is a mummy and former pharaoh — how could I not be interested in that! But I’ll let Michael tell you about how it took a different character to bring his mummy’s story to, er, life for him.
I wrote the original version of GRAVEYARD SHIFT during NaNoWriMo some time ago. However, I still remember when the story really jumped into gear and, regrettably, that wasn’t truly in the first draft, though at the time I thought it was.
As I began revisions and sorted through the aftermath of a NaNo first draft, certain aspects stood out as being decent. The main character, Alex Menkaure, an immortal pharaoh now working in a special supernatural police unit in modern-day Miami, and his partner, Marcus, a vampire born in ancient Rome, needed minor work. The climactic battle at the end against the villains needed a lot of polish. While the action was solid, I wrote the section in a blur and it showed. Also, there was something missing. While Alex and Marcus are formidable, the villains I’d set up for them to go against were more so, and they needed help.
The help came in the form of Rhuna Gallier, a young but vicious shapeshifter with her own agenda. I’d had an idea for her character while brainstorming another novel, but realized with some minor tweaks, Rhuna and “The Pack” could fit into GRAVEYARD SHIFT’s story and world.
When I wrote the next draft, as I seeded Rhuna’s presence throughout the book, she threatened to take over the entire thing and make it hers. This may sound weird to non-writers, but she didn’t seem to understand this was Alex’s story and she was a supporting character. So I promised her besides the climax she would get a cool action scene. I knew in the scene Rhuna needed to be mostly on her own with minimal support so I could showcase her lethality.
In GRAVEYARD SHIFT’s world, a practice goes by the underground name of S&B. It stands for Sangers, a derogatory name for vampires, and Bleeders, humans who willingly let vampires feed on them to experience the pleasurable sensations that come with it. Participants meet in bloodclubs, which are akin to prohibition-era speakeasies. Many unsavory activities such as human trafficking, blood and drug dealing, and murder, happen near the clubs and they are part of Miami’s criminal underbelly.
In the early draft, I had a criminal vampire who liked to prey on young girls, take one of his victims to the club. It was an unhappy chapter and ended with the vampire killing another victim. In the new draft, Rhuna showed up. That’s when the story jumped to life. Rhuna took the place of the victim and suddenly where I had a naïve girl falling prey to an old vampire’s wiles, now I had Rhuna going in as a Trojan horse and the vampire and his companions never knew what hit them.
I rewrote the sequence, several chapters long, in one sitting. Now, I can’t wait to write Rhuna’s novel. It’s going to be great fun.
From the cover copy:
Alex Menkaure, former pharaoh and mummy, and his vampire partner, Marcus, born in ancient Rome, are vice cops in a special Miami police unit. They fight to keep the streets safe from criminal vampires, shape-shifters, bootleg blood-dealers, and anti-vampire vigilantes.
When poisoned artificial blood drives vampires to murder, the city threatens to tear itself apart. Only an unlikely alliance with former opponents can give Alex and Marcus a fighting chance against an ancient vampire conspiracy.
If they succeed, they’ll be pariahs, hunted by everyone. If they fail, the result will be a race-war bloodier than any the world has ever seen.
Michael F. Haspil is a geeky engineer and nerdy artist. The art of storytelling called to him from a young age and he has plied his craft over many years and through diverse media. He has written original stories for as long as he can remember and has dabbled in many genres. However, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror have whispered directly to his soul. An avid gamer, he serves as a panelist on the popular “The Long War” webcasts and podcasts, which specializes in Warhammer 40,000 strategy, tactics, and stories. Graveyard Shift is his first novel. Find him online at michaelhaspil.com or @michaelhaspil.
There was a third opening act but doors were at 6:30 and we got there at 7:15. Tears for Fears started at 7:17.
Tears for Fears were on fire. I didn't think I knew their oeuvre as well as it turns out I do, including songs I probably hadn't heard in 25+ years and could sing from memory. Their voices were strong, their instrumentation and playing were excellent, and while it doesn't look like they're putting out new material, I'd buy it if they were. Plus they win the prize for most on the nose cover with Creep.
Hall and Oates weren't bad, but it was hard to live up to what Tears for Fears was doing. They didn't really get into the music hard until the encore (which was basically a long second set). And Daryl Hall is almost 70 if not more than, so his upper register is shot and the rearrangement of the songs is a bit disorienting. Especially when the audience is singing along to the radio version.
I'm glad we saw Hall and Oates but Tears for Fears was the clear winner here.
Animated Shorts, Tosca Quartet, Austin Chamber Music Festival at the North Door. July 14. 2017.
We've been to the North Door for shows before and this was clearly the worst configuration for it. The seats were too close together, the AC wasn't working properly to the point where Michael had to leave, and the door was around the back because of construction on Fifth. The music was lovely, including the bandoreon player who gave a great intro to his instrument, and the shorts were nice enough, but we'd seen most of them because more than half were from Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.
I'd like to see another program like this in a better venue with a better selection of animation. The idea was sound, but not the execution. At least the company was good.
Carrie Fisher. Robin Wright. Gal Gadot. Daisy Ridley. Melissa McCarthy & Leslie Jones & Kate McKinnon & Kristen Wigg.
It shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter, but it goddamn well does.
You know why I chose the women I did, up above? You know why I didn’t include Weaver & Hamilton & Theron on that list?
Because Ripley and Connor and Furiosa were given to us. They were put on the table by filmmakers who said either “it doesn’t matter if this character’s a woman or a man,” or who specifically chose a woman as the vehicle for the main story. Alien & Terminator were always ours. We didn’t have to ask, much less plead and beg, for Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor. We weren’t looking for Furiosa, and Theron came out of nowhere the same way Weaver & Hamilton did.
But Carrie Fisher? Robin Wright? Yeah, Princess Leia & the Princess Bride were integral to their stories, but Buttercup was a pretty passive observer in her own story and Leia wasn’t there FOR GIRLS. She was there as the token female. The fact that she had an important role & agency is almost beside the point. I read something recently–maybe in Empire Magazine–where someone said something like “If you think about it, Star Wars is really Leia’s story,” and all I could think was WOULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN AMAZING IF IT HAD BEEN FILMED THAT WAY?
So General Antiope? General Organa? I feel like we *fought* for them. Diana? Rey? I feel like they’re from us saying “we want this so much, we deserve this, we hold up half the fucking sky, people.” An all-women Ghostbusters team? We kept saying “oh god please we want this this would be so awesome.” And so now, a female Doctor? It feels like another one we fought for.
And it shouldn’t have to. We shouldn’t have to be pleading for 1/13th of the pie (or less). We shouldn’t have to be THIS HAPPY to get it. And yet I am.
And I’m also SO ANGRY that it takes so little, such a crumb, to make me THIS HAPPY, when it shouldn’t even be a conversation.
And none of that even STARTS to touch on how 8 of the 9 (or 11/12, depending on how you wanna count it) women I’ve talked about are white ladies.
I don’t want white women to be the only ones gaining ground here. I don’t want increments. We don’t NEED increments. The actors are there. Storm Reid proves it. Zendaya proves it. Hannah John-Kamen & Frankie Adams prove it. And I want to see women of color in all these big amazing roles and films too. I don’t want this to just be a moment for white girls and indistinguishable blondes.
I want more, god damn it. I want it all, for all of us. #GirlPower
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
I’m somewhat better than I’ve been, but I’ve still got a cough and snotty nose. No, I haven’t gone to a doctor, but only because it turns out there’s a shortage of doctors in this town and nobody is taking new patients. We got signed up with a clinic in theory but we still haven’t gotten notification that we’re actually in their system, so…yeah. Anyway. At this point I think I’m going to have healed up before I’m in the system. Whee.
That said, all I want to do today is lie in a lump on the couch and watch Brooklyn Nine Nine all afternoon, but I’d have a 7 year old beside me saying, “What? What?” and fake-laughing at things, which wouldn’t really be much fun.
The Wrinkle in Time trailer dropped yesterday and made me cry. Twice. It looks amazing. (“Mommy,” Indy said incredulously, “are you *crying*?” Yes. Yes I was.) Anyway, I haven’t read the book in at least twenty, possibly thirty, years, and I immediately bought a new copy to read it. I didn’t think it would hold up, honestly, but I’ve read the first chapter and so far it’s still amazing.
I also re-read THE HERO AND THE CROWN a couple days ago and for the first time the acid trip battle with Agsded actually made sense to me. I’ve only read the book about forty times, so it’s nice that I eventually became able to really follow that scene.
Also I don’t remember crying through Talat’s rehabilitation before. *wipes eyes*
I made crabapple jelly with the last of LAST year’s crabapples, some cherry jam, pitted more cherries that Dad brought out, and bought some peaches that I need to process today and see if I’ve got enough for jam. I have frozen strawberries, too, and some many-berry mix frozen berries. Jam, glorious jam. :)
There are TWO kittens in the garden. We’re calling them Topsy and Turvy and are feeding them and their mama. I’m waiting for the local rescue people to have a capture cage available, so hopefully that’ll come through soon.
I turned a grant application in last week. I’ve got a book proposal just about ready to submit. I have copy edits to do and need to email my editor about line edits. And…I’d have to look at my to-do list to see what’s next. That’s plenty to get me through the week, though. :)
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)
A pound of spinach fills my backpack and makes a little over a pint of puree when cooked. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.
And on the not-even-trying-to-be-healthy side of the diet, we have: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/
( List under the cut. )
I'm working through a lot of minor items that are winding down, and the exercise and house items plus food trucks are the big remaining things. And financial stuff. My next big gaming thing is I need to work on HOC experience.