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A while ago I read All This And Love by J. Libby, a collection of self-published short stories.

I feel the need to start this review by confessing that J. Libby is a friend of mine. I don’t often read short stories, so I might never have found this book if not for our friendship. That said, hopefully this review inspires more people to read All This and Love than may otherwise have done so.

One of the reasons I don’t often read short stories is that it takes me a while to enter a world, but when I do I enter it fully. By the time I’m done with a really good short story, I just want more. To some extent, the stories in All This and Love have this quality, but on the whole the stories worked better for me than most short stories do.

The stories in All This and Love fall into two categories. The first category is stories with language so rich and dense that I feel like the point is the language itself, the feeling and themes that thrum through the words. When I read a poem, I rarely get upset that it’s over, not because I don’t like poems but rather because poems are less like stories and more like thoughts or ideas. They’re wisps of worlds, like dreams, and the point is that you can never enter them, they’re like dreams. 'like the girls in the movies' and 'fallen: a love story' read like poems to me—I don’t really want more or less. I just want that beautiful thing to exist in the world. Even though it’s the shortest, like the girls in the movies is probably my favorite story of the book. It reads just like prose poetry.

My favorite thing about Libby as a writer has always been her use of language and way with words. Even though the other stories are less like poems, they still resonate like poetry in some ways, especially this, too, like water and memory. That story, as well as the two remaining stories ('to the water and the wild', 'all of this and love') are more “stories” in the traditional sense of the word, with a bit more to latch on to in terms of plot and character. What worked for me in these stories, however, was the world-building. I finally understood that the point of a short story is to enter the world, whereas the point of a novel isn’t so much entering the world as traveling in the world. At any rate, these stories felt like doorways—peeks into other universes. Although I did want more, I found the glimpses interesting.

Libby’s other strength is theme. These stories are thematically linked by love, fantasy, and horror. I particularly enjoyed the horror aspect, even though I’m not a horror fan. There is traditional horror—one story has zombies, another werewolves—but what I enjoyed most was the gradual creep factor, the building sense of wrong Libby manages to create as several of these stories build toward climax.

Although I helped edit many of these stories myself, this book could still have used another good solid edit. And while I enjoyed these stories as they are, I still wish I knew more about some of these worlds and characters. However, on the whole, I'm glad I read this book because I enjoyed it. Above and beyond everything else, reading this language is like eating rich chocolate.

A-

Do recommend.
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I hate everything. I'm upset by everything. I'm a terrible friend and an awful supervisor and a miserable everything. Everything is horrible and everything hurts. This'll be over in approximately twelve hours, guys. Hold onto your butts.*

Except writing. I still like that. And I like comments on my writing. I like the good ones, but I also like finding the bad ones. I've rarely if ever received negative comments directly to a fic I've written, and if I do usually that person says something nice, too. These aren't bad, but then there are the hidden bad ones. The hidden ones that possibly no one expects you to see because they don't know how you hunger and ache for the bad ones.

I should qualify that in my experience the hidden bad ones aren't really so bad either. Generally the bad ones are sort of nice! Because usually if someone bookmarks your fic, it's because they like it, no matter how blunt they're self-written description of your fic is. And I've had fics mentioned on anon memes, but usually if it gets mentioned and people are discussing it you at least know people are reading your fic and think it's worth talking about, which is flattering.

Constructive criticism )

*Jurassic Park isn't horrible.

I suck

Dec. 22nd, 2013 10:09 pm
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Apparently I no-show defaulted on Yuletide. I thought the deadline was the 23rd. I'd started a story but was unable to finish, so I was going to finish something else by tomorrow. Wow, I'm really doing everything on Earth wrong lately.

I feel so so bad for my requester; they were really nice.

Update

Oct. 27th, 2013 04:33 pm
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I'm back from Washington DC. I went to meetings in the National Geographic headquarters! Then I sight-saw in D.C. and mostly thought about Steve Rogers. I wrote so much Steve/Bruce in my head you guys you have no idea. Also I went to Arlington and thought about the Ken Burns documentary a lot.

Thank you for the sympathy about our dog. I don't know why it feels so nice to get sympathy from other people, but it does.

Sad

Oct. 22nd, 2013 11:46 pm
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We had to put our dog to sleep yesterday.

Geek Girl Con was this weekend and as much as I liked seeing all the people and doing all the things, it was really colored by our doggy. I think Housemate and I did pretty well in front of people, and the con helped to distract us, but mostly all I care about is my dingo-train.

We're laying off everyone at work and rehiring back a fraction of the staff, this has been going on for months, I got a promotion so now I have to be one of the ones making the hiring decisions, I have a trip to D.C. for work and I worked over 13 hours today, but mostly all I care about is my dog.

I think it was the right thing to do because she was really unwell and had been refusing to eat for weeks, and didn't eat at all the past three days. But she was really special to me, and we were petting her when she died, and she was my favorite of them all even though she also drove me the craziest.

Housemate did almost all of the work getting her to eat and cleaning up after her and taking care of her so I probably shouldn't even complain. I think the other dog is coping okay and one of the worst things is how I don't cry or sound sad when I talk about it.

Anyway so that's that.
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Dear Yuletide Person,

I've never done Yuletide. I'm still not sure I really get how it works. The first thing you need to understand is that I'll be happy about anything you write. So little work exists in these fandoms that it's a joy to read anything about them. I love het, slash, femslash, USTy gen, gen gen, hardcore PWPs, softcore PWPs, UST, long romances with fade-to-blacks, did I mention gen, adventure, horror, action, missing scenes, sequels, prequels, AUs, long fic, short fic, in-between fic, drabbles, nonlinear fic, linear fic, experimental fic and just fic in general.

The only things I tend not to appreciate in fic are adultery and non-con. Infidelity is okay if the couple is not married; dub-con is okay. I don't get why I make these distinctions either.

I love meta and historical accuracy, but they aren't necessary. I really like dialogue, social commentary, philosophy, and people working together.

Here be fandom-specific. )

Gravity

Oct. 13th, 2013 10:26 am
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Everyone is right about this movie. You should go see it.

Thoughts. )

Fringe

Oct. 6th, 2013 11:02 pm
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So flist, you who know all, what were/are your thoughts on the tv show Fringe? I'd especially like to know these thoughts in conjunction with your thoughts on either Alias, Lost or both.

A bunch of people say that Fringe was really good, but my thought is that these people also thought Lost was good, and yet the hype and obsession around Fringe never reached the level that it seemed to be around Lost.

For the record, I don't hate Lost . . . yeah, no, wait, I kind of do hate Lost. I only watched one season of it, so hating it is perhaps not fair, but it reminded me so much of Alias that the investment didn't seem worth it.

I also don't hate--oh, who am I fooling, I really do dislike Alias, but in a different way, because I gave Alias all of the chances. I knew it was silly and stupid insofar as realism, but I was in love with Victor Garber's character and his relationship with Jennifer Garner's character, and I was deeply interested in the slowly unfolding overarching sci fi plot.

After watching two and a half seasons I began to realize that there were a bunch of great ideas in the show but poor execution and even poorer follow-through. The characters never grew beyond their complicated, nuanced premise; the plot was a series of cheap tricks employed to keep you on the edge of your seat without ever delivering the narrative satisfaction that justifies such suspense--there was no overarching narrative, despite textual insistence that there would be.

I had to give up on Alias after four seasons, which was a great big waste of time to me. After the first season of Lost, I realized that the same thing was happening there, only on a larger scale. Worse, there was no Victor Garber. From what I've heard from other viewers, it's probably a good thing I gave it up.

So, having now experienced my vitriol aimed in Abrams' general direction--would I like Fringe?
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Does anyone have any recs for vids about Loki? Or know where I can find recs for vids about Loki?

I'm only interested in vids, not fic.

I don't really want silly or humorous ones, or ones that are only romantic. Really I want ones about Loki being destructive, cruel, dangerous, sexy, powerful, pathetic, jealous, sympathetic, unsympathetic, monstrous, pitiful, sarcastic, elegant, classy, snarky, articulate, abused, creepy, incestuous, violent, hateful, insane, vengeful and/or angry. If you have any ideas, please help!

If you want to know why, it's kind of a long and convoluted story. )
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A few months ago [personal profile] my_daroga helped me bleach my hair, then dye it blue. I really wanted to dye it dark green--the color of Elphaba's skin, basically--but I couldn't find that color, so I dyed it blue. I used Manic Panic, which quickly faded to lavendar/pink/red/other, so [personal profile] my_daroga helped me do a turquoise on top of that. As she was dyeing it, our friend Hats points out that it looked awesome half-turquoise and half pink/red/other, so [personal profile] my_daroga left it like that, and for a while it was this really cool rainbow effect that looked a lot like what I imagine mermaid-hair to look like.

But anyway, for a while I've been just kind of bored/fed up/unhappy with my hair. For a while it was looking like Julia Ormond Sabrina, which is pretty much my ideal hair, but then I got a hair cut and it didn't look like that anymore. I don't actually care that much about my appearance, so I thought if I just shaved my head I could get rid of all the color and the hair cut and start over, and it would be interesting to see what I looked like with no hair.

I should amend my statement and explain that I care very much about my appearance, but only when I am reminded of it, which is rarely. Most of the time I truly do find it hard to remember that I have a body, a corporeal self, with corporeal surroundings. I really do believe that I'm the most abstract person I have ever had the opportunity to encounter, which is definitely romantic and interesting but also terribly inconvenient and kind of stupid. It's important to notice the real world and deal with it, but I am not really that interested in it. I know that I should be. I want to be. I want to be beautiful, and part of being actually beautiful is taking the time to iron your clothes and exercise and eat right and comb your hair and wear flattering clothes and shop for flattering clothes and do your laundry, but it exhausts me. I'm exhausted. Dishes and laundry and shopping and cooking and eating and dating and walking and sometimes interacting are often terribly boring to me, which is an extremely difficult and not very sensical way to live.

wow, this went on way longer than I thought it would! It's about my hair and appearance and gender and idek )
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Recently LJ let me know that I had less than two entries made in a series of journals and that it had been over two years since I logged into them. The journals were [livejournal.com profile] lord_kripke, [livejournal.com profile] bobby_sing_it, [livejournal.com profile] thehookman, [livejournal.com profile] spnl0v3r, and [livejournal.com profile] q_document, which means it's been over two years since I started writing The Chuck Writes Story: An Unauthorized Fandom Biography.

I didn't do much work on the socks, but I had to make all of the accounts, or else I couldn't use LJ formatting for any of the names. lord_kripke or even lord_kripke just doesn't look as authentic as [livejournal.com profile] lord_kripke, and it was important to me that the fic have an authentic quality (though The Ms Scribe Story, upon which Chuck Writes is modeled, just uses bold formatting, partly because many of the accounts it discusses had been deleted so it could not use the actual user name formatting). So anyway, the point is, now I have to re-log into all of the socks so that the names still exist if anyone reads the fic.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone looked at any of the socks or any of the links. There's a disclaimer at the top that says none of the links work, but it's not true. Most of them don't, but I actually made some of the posts and comments. At least one of the other links is a little joke, because it leads to a wrong but analogous thing. I can't figure out whether people noticed this and just didn't say anything, or whether they did but it wasn't really interesting enough to comment on. I do think I should have done more of it, but it was a lot of work.

Similarly I'm always kind of sad that no one has ever commented on the reference to [livejournal.com profile] q_document. Everyone in Carver Edlund's SPN fandom was trying to find out why they were all writing the same thing, and anon comments:

(Anonymous), 2011-06-03 8:18 pm, UTC (link): You guys do know this is about plagiarism, right? All of you were just stealing from [livejournal.com profile] q_document’s rpf.

(Anonymous), 2011-06-03 8:22 pm, UTC (link): *snorfle* The whole problem is no one can find [livejournal.com profile] q_document’s rpf. He took it off the internets when he left fandom!


I still think I am hilarious. I'm still really happy with that fic, and still sometimes desultorily work on a sequel. I wish I would just do it, but in some ways it's even more work than Chuck Writes was.
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So I just went and saw Yojimbo again, which is not a very similar experience to rewatching Lawrence of Arabia. For some reason I'd remembered Yojimbo having quite a bit of social commentary. It does have some--it's Kurosawa--but mostly it's about a badass with a sword. A really hot badass with a sword.

It's also hilarious and superbly done. There are so many action movies today about badasses who walk around being badasses, and yet imo none of them approach this movie in quality. [personal profile] my_daroga mentioned that it's over the top but also takes itself seriously; it's funny but it's not a parody. I feel like one of my very favorite things in fiction is ridiculous concepts treated with realism and self-awareness; when SPN jumps the shark it calls the episode 'Jumping the Shark' and then it does a freakin' amazing job with it.

Did I mention he's really hot? Toshiro Mifune is like the hottest man dead.



my_daroga told me she posted Toshiro Mifune gifs but I don't know where so here you go. )

ETA: Also, I gotta just say that reading about Mifune's and Kurosawa's relationship on Wikipedia made me cry. I wish they could've stayed friends and worked together forever.
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So today we went to see Lawrence of Arabia. First time I saw this was on a small screen, and I thought it was okay but had a lot of sand and camels. Then I saw it on a big screen and I understood it better. I've seen it three or more times since then and always enjoy it more each time.

Today was a big hassle because there was a lot of traffic, weird timing things, hard parking, too much driving, and my tabs are expired. I also had cramps and sort of just didn't want to go, but I just kept reminding myself, "It has to be on a big screen, and it comes to a big screen rarely; you like it every time you see it."

So at last we all get there and the overture starts, and I think, "Ah, yes, this movie is so good!"

Then there's that first Ali and Lawrence scene, and I think, "Ah yes, I forgot how much I like everyone. Also that was sort of hot."

Then Omar Sharif starts, I don't know, doing things and it is like my soul is slowly be crushed and it's hard to breathe because he is way, way too beautiful, his clothes are too beautiful, his eyes are too beautiful, and he is so in love with Lawrence, and oh God, Lawrence is too beautiful; I'm not talking about O'Toole here (though he's totally beautiful), but what the fuck T. E. Lawrence; this is the saddest most fucked up guy in all of existence, and this here is the saddest, most fucked up situation in all of existence, and it's still fucked up; wow, the whole world is really fucked up; I can't even deal with any of it. It's not so much that I enjoy this movie; anything about this subject matter would be really painful and difficult; it's that it's a good movie in a literary way--it has arcs--but they're based on real events; it has characters--but they're based on real people; it's entertaining, and that makes it the worst. The absolute worst.
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I liked Sleepy Hollow enough that I was already thinking how nice it would be if fandom fell for a show that so far has half a brain and a tough central lady, and what fic could I write as an early adopter? And I thought if I wrote any fic, it'd probably be a list of things that Ichabod needs to know about now. But lo, as I should have suspected, someone has already written it. It's not as much 'needs to know' as 'recently learned'. It's quite delightful, very well done, and it is by [dreamwidth.org profile] holli, whom I am beginning to suspect might have a thing for people displaced in time.

Ten Clicks, Sleepy Hollow gen, go read.

meme

Sep. 11th, 2013 01:08 am
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[livejournal.com profile] capitu is doing a self-pimp meme where you pimp the fic that is most popular by you, and then your favorite fic by you. The banner says HP, but capitu says you can use any fandom you want. Go comment!

[livejournal.com profile] marguerite_26 used to host this meme; I always thought it was awesome, but I never participated, mostly because I felt like I didn't really have very popular stories. I feel differently now, but it's still a really interesting meme. I put:

Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing (s): Harry/Draco
Most Popular: definitely The Boy Who Only Lived Twice
Warnings: sex? spies? idk
Personal Favourite: by far The Pure and Simple Truth
Pairing (s): Harry/Draco
Warnings: none; it's mostly gen

I guess the reason I find this meme so interesting is that our favorite fics are so different than the ones that are really popular. I think my favorite is so, so much better than the really popular one, and even though I'm grateful for all the attention the popular one got, I always want to say, "But read thiiiiiiiiis one, it's so much better!"

What's really interesting is that even just reading the comments on the post, I usually keep wanting to click on the ones denoted "popular". I can't figure out whether they appeal to me more because their titles are grabbier--that may be one reason they're popular in the first place; they have grabby titles. The popular ones also seem more tropey--but how do I know? Because of the titles? The warnings? There are no summaries in these comments. And are they more popular because they're tropey?

Or maybe it's the fact that they're popular that's attractive. I try not to base my stories based on hits, kudos, or number of comments. I do go by recs, but self-recs are different; they're so idiosyncratic. Your favorite story may have nothing to do with your best story; it might have to do with achieving a goal or the place you were in when you wrote it or a challenge you set yourself. The popular story makes it feel like a bunch of people have weighed in, and while I'm interested in why one story or another is an author's personal favorite, I'm not always more interested in their favorite story for itself . . .

Anyway the short version is that I like this meme and you should go participate.
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I actually watched this episode on Monday, but haven't had time to write about it. On Tuesday, [personal profile] my_daroga and I visited [personal profile] snickfic, who I rec just in general, as a livejournal friend but also real life buddy. We talked about SPN a lot, which made me miss that show. To write this reaction, I sort of skimmed the episode again. I didn't want to leave anything out!

Hidden Truths episode reactions. No spoilers, please! )

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It's Lion Turtles all the way down

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