"Superman", Rachel Platten

Jul. 27th, 2017 04:19 pm
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
[personal profile] alexseanchai
So put your armor on the ground tonight
'Cause everyone's got to come down sometime

You don't have to be Superman
You don't have to be Superman
You don't have to hold the world in your hands
You've already shown me that you can
Don't have to be Superman

Philip Kerr: Bernie Gunther Series

Jul. 27th, 2017 05:29 pm
selenak: (Watchmen by Groaty)
[personal profile] selenak
Reading the first Bernie Gunther novel has sent me into the rabbit hole, the marathon reading from which I now slowly emerge, having grabbed all the novels my local library had available and then buying the most recent one, Prussian Blue. By which you can conclude that these novels are addictive, despite or maybe because of their very dark setting and the way Kerr handles it. I didn’t always read them in order, but that works out better than usual in a series because Kerr writes them not always in linear order as well, and several take place in different eras simultaneously (one post WWII, one during the Third Reich), each filling out different gaps in his anti hero’s life. In fact, I’m glad I read, not by intention but coincidence of availability, “The Other Side of Silence” (No.11, probably the one most located in the 1950s, with just one flashback to the 1940s) before “The Pale Criminal” (No.2, set in 1938), because while both novels feature male gay characters, the ones in No.11 are fleshed out and for the most part sympathetic, and also not just one or two but four on page and a fifth one intensely talked about, whereas in No.2 they are solely a weak coward and a villain respectively, which for a novel set during a time when gay people ended up in prison and/or camps in Germany is a highly questionable authorial choice.

(Sidenote: not that you don’t have historical basis for writing gay villains in a story set among the Nazis. I mean, Ernst Röhm. But still.)

Reading the first novel had left me wondering how Kerr would justify Bernie Gunther’s continued survival as a (mostly) ethical P.I. in one of the most brutal dictatorships in history. Turns out, he doesn’t; Bernie gets drafted back into police service by Reinhard Heydrich in 1938, which means that when WWII starts, he along with the rest of the police gets absorbed into the SS, and while he manages to get a transfer into another unit, this doesn’t happen before being exposed to and in one case participating in mass shootings. While some of the novels feature flashbacks to the P.I. period, most therefore have Bernie as part of the institutions he abhors, which simultaneously deepens his moral compromise (and self loathing) but heightens the likelihood of his survival (while also providing the novelist with excuses for letting Bernie be present at some key points he couldn’t have been as a civilian, like the discovery of the Katyn massacre, more about that in a moment). I find this a fair authorial choice – if you’re going to produce a series of novels with a German detective set mostly in the Third Reich, keeping him entirely guilt free of the morass the nation was sunk into would have felt like cheating. I also was able to buy into the premise of various upper hierarchy Nazis – Heydrich, Goebbels, Arthur Nebe – finding Bernie so useful they would want to use him because he’s That Good at crime solving and occasionally even in a dictatorship you need to figure out who actually did the deed as opposed to finding the most convenient scapegoat. (The constant in fighting and rivalry between top Nazis also plays a role in Bernie’s survival, since a good detective is also useful for getting dirt on each other.) Another way Kerr plays fair is having Bernie constantly aware of the sheer insanity of it all – trying to track down individual criminals when the entire system around you has become criminal, and murder and thievery actually are the law.

Further ramblings below the cut )

Three Things Make a Post

Jul. 27th, 2017 08:46 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
1. I earned $25 this week from behavioral testing. I used part of it to buy a Faye Kellerman mystery for my e-reader, recommended on someone else's journal. I've never tried that author before, and I've been looking for a new detective series for a while. Recs welcome for series with an interesting lead character.

2. Due to evening dayjob-related events this week, my gym schedule is weird. I went Monday for elliptical, consisting of intervals and then a relatively steady pace for a total of three miles in forty-five minutes. Tonight, I will do something with weights or push-ups/squats, and then more elliptical if I am not exhausted. I've had a lot of gym irregularities this summer, what with softball, injuries, and events, but some gym is better than no gym.

3. Dayjob-related tailgate/baseball game is Friday night. Phillies are playing the Braves! Except I am too lazy to dig out my Braves cap. Alas, thunderstorms are in the forecast, so I'm not sure how that's going to work out. On the good side, we dress down for the annual game, so I can wear Chucks or running shoes to work, and we get to leave early.

I never did get into the Phillies despite living here since 1992. Besides, my dad was a Braves fan.

Wednesday Yardening

Jul. 26th, 2017 11:59 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Today was sweltering.  We picked up two piles of grass, but that's all I had energy for.  It's raining now. 
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
The July 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl made its $200 goal, so you get a free epic. Everyone is eligible to vote in this poll. I'll keep it open until at least Thursday night. If there's a clear answer then, I'll close it. Otherwise I may keep it open longer.

The following poems are available:

"Big Brother and the Cyberbully"
Summary: When a cyberbully does grievous damage, a supervillain makes a calculated counterattack.
106 lines, $53

"The Things That Money Can't Buy"
Summary: A tycoon with an excess of money and an absence of sense or compassion can cut a wide swath through life.
94 lines, $47

"No Power Like the Power of Youth"
Summary: When racist protesters try to invade a largely black neighborhood, they meet with some serious opposition.
142 lines, $71

Poll #18615 Free Epic for July 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 20


Which of these should be the free epic?

View Answers

"Big Brother and the Cyberbully"
9 (45.0%)

"The Things That Money Can't Buy"
2 (10.0%)

"No Power Like the Power of Youth"
9 (45.0%)

Poem: "This Hazardous Business"

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:53 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the July 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "secret allies" square in my 6-16-17 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. This poem belongs to the Kraken thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains some intense and controversial topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It touches on passing, bisexuality, multiracial heritage, activism, homophobia, transphobia, mistaken identity, prejudice against people with superpowers, a cat girl, prostitution, a dog boy, homelessness, and other angst. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

Read more... )

reading wednesday

Jul. 26th, 2017 07:59 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
• What are you reading?

Chimera, by John Barth. Last read in college, when I was studying computer science, and everything Barth said about letters and stories seemed to be a direct reflection of something Turing discovered about numbers and computing machines. "The key to the treasure is the treasure."

• What did you recently finish reading?

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. I had been putting this off, because my non-SF-reading friends were saying it was really good but my SF-reading friends were finding it disappointing, which usually means I'll find it disappointing. Turns out it's really good!

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson, for Tawanda book group.

So much for planning

Jul. 26th, 2017 08:49 pm
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
The first week of school holidays; a big to-do list to get done at both home and work before Helsinki; in particular a big code push early on Tuesday morning.  I had a whole carefully worked-out schedule of when Tony and I would be at work and on leave and working from home and doing childcare runs.

Early on Monday morning, I woke up very suddenly and proceeded to have a very thorough stomach upset for much of the day.  My boss is the best boss, for taking over and sorting out my Tuesday work for me.  I had to reorganise the cleaner, and my routine bone marrow appointment due today (because taking a potential stomach bug into a ward of cancer patients is distinctly antisocial) and completely redo the who-is-home-when plan for the week.

But I was at least able to work today, and (fingers-crossed) I'll be back in the office tomorrow.

The most exciting thing this week has at least gone to plan so far.  My dad made a flying visit today to collect Nicholas for a long weekend at WOMAD. His first time away from home without a parent in tow; not his first time away from both parents though, and it should be a lot of fun for them both.  I look forward to hearing all about it on Monday.

trying to keep up

Jul. 26th, 2017 02:06 pm
sporky_rat: E from The Incredibles looking vaguely displeased (NO CAPES)
[personal profile] sporky_rat

My former boss Adam (he was a good boss) has a podcast about Game of Thrones. Since he's the one that handed me the first book when Brent when to Utah in 2012, I started listening. (The exchanged was more or less like this: 'Brent's going to Utah. You're going to go a little barmy. Here, have something to obsess over that's super long and super detailed so I don't have to fire you because you can't focus.' 'Uh. Okay?' Weekend after I read the entire book at Crown List, I asked for the second book. And then I bought the entire five book set for my Nook. Yeah. I have a soft spot for these books because of that.) It's been really fun to listen to Adam and his fellow nerds talk about Game of Thrones.

I have a horrible miserable wretched sinus infection. Not bacterial, I'm not having the usual bacterial issues. Meds don't tend to do much for me anyway on a sinus infection (unless it's something to help things drain) so I'm waiting to see just how bad it's going to get before I hit the doctor up.

I think I found my copy of Adobe Illustrator and I did find my copy of Paint Shop Pro. (Super excited about that second one because PSP does much better on a complete color swap than my copy of Photoshop (the original 7.0, yo)). Hope it still work on Win10.

Brent and I have also been watching Battlestar Galactica. We've gotten to the fun part of Apollo versus Apollo! MUAHAHA.

selenak: (BambergerReiter by Ningloreth)
[personal profile] selenak
Having now read three of the four books the first two seasons of The Last Kingdom are based on, I find my original suspicion that Bernard Cornwell novels benefit from adaptions into other media because these take you out of the main character's head justified, though not always quite in the way I assumed. Because the novels are narrated by an older Uthred looking back, his narrating self can sometimes point out things his younger self did not yet see or realise, for example, that he wronged his first wife Mildrith, or that he underestimated Alfred early on because a chronically sick non-warrior valueing learning and feeling guilty about sex could not possibly be a strong leader in his young eyes. Otoh, older, wiser Uthred narrating still doesn't change the fact most female characters come across as more dimensional and fleshed out in the tv adaption than they do in the novels (Brida and Mildrith in the first, Hild and Aelswith in the second season - Iseult, alas, is a cliché in both versions).

The tv show cut or compressed various characters and slimmed down events, and given that they do two books per season so far, that's not surprising. But even if they took a longer time, I think some of the changes and cuts were to the narrative's benefit. For example: Cornwell has to come up with some pretty convoluted circumstances and far-stretched plots to have a teenage Uthred who is still with the Danes secretly present when Prince (not yet King) Alfred confesses about his carnal lapses to Beocca. In the book, he needs to be because he's the narrator and neither Alfred nor Beocca would have told him about this. The tv show dispenses with said circumstances and just has the scene between Alfred and Beocca, without Uthred secretly listening in, because he doesn't need to be in order for the audience to get this information about the young Alfred.

Mind you, dispensing with the first two times Uthred meets Alfred and letting their first encounter not happen until after Ragnar the Elder's death creates one important difference between book and show relationship that's worth mentioning. Book Uthred lies to Alfred (and Beocca) these first two times and point blank spies on them for the Danes, so the later "why do you keep distrusting me?" indignation rings a little hollow in this regard. Show Uthred does no such thing, so Alfred is accordingly less justified in his lingering ambiguity.

Another cut that somewhat shifts perception: the first novel has Uthred participating in a few Danish raids led by Ragnar, including one on Aelswith's hometown (though she doesn't know he took part). Now, in the show we go from Uthred the child to adult Uthred directly and adult Uthred is solely seen at Ragnar's home, with the deaths of Ragnar & Co. impending, but given adult Uthred later is shown to be already a skilled fighter, it stands to reason he practiced these skills. But I suspect the show avoided showing Uthred fighting against Saxon civilians this early on deliberately. Both show and books have Uthred loving the Danes but staying with the Saxons post Ragnar's death because various circumstances (and then Alfred's machinations) make it impossible for him to do otherwise. Only the book, though, spells out that Uthred doesn't start to feel any kind of identification/emotional connection to the Saxons until he sees them winning a battle (until then, narrator Uthred says, he hadn't thought Danes could lose, which makes sense given that throughout Uthred's childhood and adolescence, they were winning), when before he regarded them as weak and didn't want to think of himself as belonging to them. Which makes sense given Uthred is raised in a warrior culture and is a young, arrogant adolescent at the time, but again, I suspect the tv version avoids spelling this out in order not to make him off putting early on when establishing the character.

Otoh, the scenes the tv show adds in the two seasons where Uthred isn't present all serve to flesh out the characters in question more and work to their benefit, whether it's Alfred, Hild, Aelswith or Beocca. The notable exception is Guthred in s2, whose additional scenes make him look worse, not better than the novel does. Possibly, too, because in the novel Guthred is described having an easy charm that makes Book!Uthred forgive him even the truly terrible thing Guthred does to Uthred, and the actor playing Guthred on the show doesn't have that at all, and instead comes across as nothing but fearful, easily influenced and weak. (And show!Uthred while coming to terms with him doesn't forgive him.) I have to say, lack of actorly charm aside, given that Guthred does something spoilery to Uthred ), I find the tv version more realistic.

The push-pull relationship between Uthred and Alfred is there in both versions, but in the tv show, it comes across as more central. As my local library has it, I also read "Death of Kings", the novel in which, Alfred dies, not without manipulating Uthred one last time into doing what he wants him to do, and Uthred's thoughts on the man later, summing him up, are Cornwell's prose at its best:

I stood beside Alfred's coffin and thought how life slipped by, and how, for nearly all my life, Alfred had been there like a great landmark. I had not liked him. I had struggled against him, despised him and admired him. I hated his religion and its cold disapproving gaze, its malevolence that cloaked itself in pretended kindness, and its allegiance to a god who would drain the joy from the world by naming it sin, but Alfred's religion had made him a good man and a good king.
And Alfred's joyless soul had proved a rock against which the Danes had broken themselves. Time and again they had attacked, and time and again Alfred had out-thought them, and Wessex grew ever stronger and richer and all that was because of Alfred. We think of kings as privileged men who rule over us and have the freedom to make, break and flaunt the law, but Alfred was never above the law he loved to make. He saw his life as a duty to his god and to the people of Wessex and I have never seen a better king, and I doubt my sons, grandson and their children's children will ever see a better one. I never liked him, but I have never stopped admiring him. He was my king and all that I now have I owe to him. The food that I eat, the hall where I live and the swords of my men, all started with Alfred, who hated me at times, loved me at times, and was generous with me. He was a gold-giver.


Last Yuletide I added a Last Kingdom request at the last minute because I'd seen it had been nominated, and accordingly it was short, but this Yuletide I think I'll also offer, and will request in more detail and more characters. While the other historical tv shows I consumed during the last year were entertaining in various degrees, this was the only one which was also good.

Wednesday Reading

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:27 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I did a fair amount of reading over the weekend, and early this week.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott was too nerve-wracking and painful for me to read right now; I finished it, but the sequels will definitely have to wait. The race and class issues were very well-depicted, I thought, and the suspense was excellent. I am just too stressed about the world to handle this sort of thing in fiction right now.

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch was, alas, much shorter than I had hoped. Abigail was so great! I want all the Abigail stories!!!

I was happily surprised that Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb, 43rd in the series, was much better than several of the previous volumes. There were a lot of twists and barriers to solving the mystery, capturing the perpetrators, and bringing them to justice, and remarkably little checking in with the huge recurring cast, which can become tedious. I read this partly because mysteries are comforting (justice wins!) and partly for purposes of analysis. I need to write down notes on its structure and character types and things like that.
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Thanks to an audience poll for the general fund and [personal profile] ng_moonmoth chipping in the remainder, "A Hope and a Promise" is now complete.  Aidan and Saraphina explore the roof garden.

Good News

Jul. 26th, 2017 12:27 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Good news includes all the things which make us happy or otherwise feel good. It can be personal or public. We never know when something wonderful will happen, and when it does, most people want to share it with someone. It's disappointing when nobody is there to appreciate it. Happily, blogging allows us to share our joys and pat each other on the back.

What good news have you had recently? Are you anticipating any more?
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
At Readercon, I said that my Twitter usage was basically "open, see if Ursula Vernon has live-tweeted more of reading Swiss Family Robinson, close," and that remains true. But I promised to provide links to various people, and having opened tonight to see that a reading is in progress, I should follow through.

So:

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/855253438623625217 (April 20)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/855601923155689472 (April 21)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/855972038800023552 (April 22)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/857428575955419136 (April 26)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/861402977675902977 (May 7)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/861776626996129793 or https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/861805896590143488 and scroll up, it isn't threading properly) (May 8)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/864320654379798530 (May 25)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/868292932406784000 (May 26)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/871216625730674688 (June 4)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/872294427045318656 (June 6)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/878827410568990720 (June 24)

and, now in progress:

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/890028466393010177

Enjoy. (I will update this post as needed, to have everything in one place.)
yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
[personal profile] yhlee
"All the Colors You Thought Were Kings" by Arkady Martine [Shimmer]. Heart-stoppingly gorgeous space opera, stars as sharp as knives. I wish I wrote half so well.

This was exactly what I needed to read tonight.

Tomorrow there’ll be ceremonies and presentations, and then your nanite horde will be calibrated for shipside on live broadcast for the entire Fleet to see – another cohort of kids full up with starshine micromechanics, bound to service and obedience, gone off into the stars. You’ve been dreaming about it since you could read. You want it so much you’ve spent the last three months feeling like your chest is going to burn out from longing.

The night after tomorrow, though. You can’t let yourself dream about that.

Under the drape of your overjacket, snugged up to your spine like you’re its best lovecrush, are the disassembled pieces of a sniper rifle. Nestled right at the small of your back is the lead-shielded explosive heart of an electromagnetic pulse bomb.

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It's Lion Turtles all the way down

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