Chocolate Box Recs

Feb. 20th, 2019 09:01 am
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I got four fantastic stories for Chocolate Box this year!

Once and Future. Dark Tower - Stephen King. The ka-tet explores some more, and finds a different kind of tower. Lovely Mid-World story with the requisite bonding, eerie imagery, and metafictional elements.

Tech Support. The Punisher. David is the Punisher's tech support. That's okay. It's fine. Hilarious and poignant and all things wonderful.

born with the gift of a golden voice. The Stand - Stephen King. Larry is touring Las Vegas when the superflu hits. Flagg finds him in a hotel room. Beautifully written, and fucking creepy in the very best way.

Long Way Down. True Detective. Rivers of history inside of every human being. Gorgeous imagery, perfectly in-character Rust/Marty

Art Recs (all worksafe; some kissing with clothes on):

Left-Hand Man.. The Dragon Prince. Harrow and Viren kissing.

it's all been done.
Good Omens
- Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett. "You go your way, I go mine, but I’ll see you next time ..."

SSSS Homage to Peter Max. Stand Still Stay Silent. The whole crew, done in the style of Peter Max, the noted psychedelic artist, best known for his work on the animated movie "Yellow Submarine."

Ebb and Flow. Wonder Woman. Darling it's better, down where it's wetter ;)

I Have Loved the Stars Too Fondly. Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Rose and Paige Tico.

Comic Book Rec (generally work safe; making out but no full nudity)

Union of Heart. Original Fiction. When the recently widowed Duke of Bridgewater discovers he has inherited a cotton mill where the workers are striking, he decides to investigate the conditions of the workers and meets the impulsive Edward Mann, the union leader for his mill.

A delightful 11-page comic book romance for the pairing "Impulsive Trade Union Leader/Recently Widowed Young Duke."

Fic Recs (don't need to know canon):

Lace. Words: 470. Ephie is dressed in traditional Lephratan style, and is ready to meet her bride. NOTE: You used the magic phrase: costume porn. If someone says they’re open to costume porn, I must satisfy them! Original F/F. Sensual and sweet; as promised, the costume porn is excellent.

Fic Recs (better if you know canon):

get a little closer, let fold. Annihilation (2018 Garland). Anya can't get the way Josie smells out of her head. F/F. Tagged "porn without plot," but it's actually a fantastic example of how to convey character, atmosphere, theme, and setting by means of sex. Really well-done.

Three Times Lucky. Defenders. There is no such thing as luck, no such thing as magic fish, and Jessica wants a refund for this day. Short and hilarious; more fish jokes than you can shake a pole at.

Challenge Accepted. Iron Fist (TV). Misty doesn't have the Iron Fist, but she has an iron fist. G-rated but nonetheless extremely hot F/F, well-characterized and well-written.

Steady Gun Hand. Iron Fist (TV). Infected bullet wounds and heart to heart talks while hiding out from gangsters in Indonesia: just another day on the Rand-Meachum road trip of self-discovery. Great hurt-comfort, wilderness survival, characterization, and snarky dialogue.

I wrote three stories this Chocolate Box if you want to take a guess.
larryhammer: a wisp of colored smoke, label: "softly and suddenly vanished away" (vanished)
[personal profile] larryhammer
A history here, a history there -- pretty soon it adds up to real people:

Thanks to a dialogue for training cuneiform scribes c.1600 BCE, we know how to get your laundry done in ancient Mesopotamia. Also, pain-in-the-ass customers have been a Thing for a v-e-r-y long time. (via)

Wall chart of the evolution of the latin aphabet from Proto-sinaitic roots. (via)

Map of medieval afro-eurasian trade routes c. 11-12 centuries version 4. Zoomable version. (via)


Subject quote from Tony, Patty Griffin.

Werther's Original Wednesday

Feb. 20th, 2019 09:34 am
evelyn_b: (Default)
[personal profile] evelyn_b
What I've Finished Reading

Yes, dear Lotte, I shall arrange and order everything; give me as many things to do as you like, and as often as possible. One thing, though: if I might ask you not to use sand to dry the notes you write me. . . ? Today I raised it hastily to my lips, and was left a gritty crunching in my teeth.

I needed a break from Phil Maddison's semi-coherent crankiness, so I read THE BEST POSSIBLE BOOK for that purpose and also, as befits its role as a Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight antidote, one of the shortest non-picture books I have ever read. It's called The Sorrows of Young Werther and it's the sad tale of an adorable doofus who never reckoned on having to live in an imperfect world when his skin and his summer days have always been perfect heretofore. I mean, he knows there's such a thing as the inherent tragedy of all life, because it gets name-checked in all his favorite songs, but no one told him it would hurt this much!!

The plot is very simple. Thackeray put it best:

Werther had a love for Charlotte. . . )

If it's wrong to receive a story about a promising young dude who idiotically talks himself into shooting himself with his beloved Charlotte's own pistols, ostensibly to "make her life easier," as a hilariously delightful breath of golden springtime, well. . . at least I'm not the first? Werther's crazy emo charm is real, and so is Charlotte's very human equanimity. She's not heartless, and she likes Werther - but life has its way of going on. This story was based partly on a real suicide, partly on Goethe's own hopeless crush on a married friend, and uses the best parts of pity and wry self-awareness.

"We shall see each other again!" I cried. "We shall find each other, we shall pick each other out from among the many. I am going," I continued, "going of my own free will, yet if I thought we were parting for ever I could not bear it. Farewell, Lotte! Farewell, Albert! We shall meet again."
—"Tomorrow, I expect," she countered in jest.


What I'm Reading Now

I didn't give up on the Chronicle, of course! A Solitary War and Lucifer Before Sunrise are both perfectly tolerable 90% of the time, though Henry Williamson seems to have more or less given up on the ensemble cast - as Phil gets crankier and more frustrated, the people in his life fade into catchphrases and cardboard antagonists and one or two pairs of beseeching feminine eyes. The scope of narrative sympathy narrows along with Phil's own. Phil is exhausted trying to live his ideal of honest farm work, whose perfectly predictable failure he is far too inclined to blame on everyone else's decadence. His neighbors spread rumors about him being a German spy, some of which are unfair and some of which he might try to counter by not trying to get other people to listen to his favorite Hitler speeches quite so often. He frets about someday getting the time to sit down and write his generation's War and Peace, and maybe out here beyond the book we're supposed to realize that he has! but it's not enough just being as big a crank as Tolstoy; War and Peace gets its power from its soapiness, and HW is committed to making his narrative as repetitive and nearly joyless as Phil's true experiences of running a farm and failing to write a novel because he's too tired from running the farm. I added that "nearly" because every now and then there is some joy, usually in the form of some grass or a bat or the feeling of being awake at night in an inexpressibly complex living world. HW's nature writing was always his strong point, even back before he developed all these weak points.

There is also Emma Dunning Banks's Original Recitations With Lesson-Talks, an 1896 handbook for the elocution student or dedicated amateur. It's exactly what it says: 54 monologues chosen for their popularity as recitations (as opposed to their literary merit, the introduction is quick to point out - too many budding elecutionists pick their favorite poems only to have them sink like stones because they're too delicate or specific for general audiences) with stanza-by-stanza instructions on how to get the best performance out of each. It's a fascinating look at a lost world.

What I Plan to Read Next

That's the real question! [personal profile] osprey_archer posted about C.S. Lewis' book An Experiment in Criticism a few days ago, so when I was in the library looking for something else, I saw it and took it home. Maybe that! Almost certainly more Phil, until the Phil runs out. Maybe cats who solve mysteries?

4theWords? + mishmash post

Feb. 20th, 2019 11:28 am
umadoshi: (Jessica Jones 01 (bangparty))
[personal profile] umadoshi
I'm trying to decide whether I should finally give 4theWords a shot, since right now (until tomorrow) creating an account gives an extra fifteen days on top of the regular free trial. I did the demo the other night, and it seems possible that the site has the kind of elements my brain seems to latch onto, which would be such a perk if it's something I actually want to be doing instead of something I repeatedly discover I've sunk hours into with nothing to show for it.

I know some of you use the site, but I don't remember who. What do you like about it? And on a practical note, a) is it as simple as C&Ping to extract your new text out into your own files? and b) do you have to leave copies of the new words on the site so they'll keep counting towards games/rewards/what have you, or does it just track the words as you write them and not need to otherwise count them?

--This morning I hurried out of bed when the doorbell rang, and the delivery person who'd rung it was driving off by the time I got down to the front door. That's annoyingly typical, but whatever. But oh, this poor package has clearly been through the wars--the box is bent out of shape and covered in tape. And it's not for us. *facepalm* So at some point one of us will have to go drop the poor thing off with the neighbor it actually belongs to, and hope for their sake that the contents are intact. ("It was like this when I got it, I swear." *sighs*)

--I'm not surprised that Jessica Jones has been canceled (along with The Punisher), but I'm heartbroken and worried about season 3, even though the articles I've seen claim that S3 will still air. *frets angrily*

--Last night [personal profile] scruloose and I went out so I could finally get blood taken for (not-urgent) tests that were requisitioned at the beginning of October. >.> just a bit about blood draw--and mostly about tattoos )

So that just leaves one outstanding medical thing I need to look into, which is sleep apnea testing; I have to get in touch with the clinic my GP recommended and ask if I need an appointment to set up testing (which I gather is done with equipment they send home with you) or if I can just drop by with my doctor's note/prescription. Will I get this last thing done before Casual Job revs up a week from tomorrow? TENTERHOOKS.

Parallel beauty

Feb. 20th, 2019 09:01 am
mount_oregano: Let me see (Default)
[personal profile] mount_oregano
One reason to learn a foreign language is to find out about your own. Spanish — and French and Italian — avoid repetition by all means, frequently by employing what H.W. Fowler in Modern English Usage disparaged as the literary fault of “elegant variation.” But repeating words in English, except when done carelessly, is no fault: it adds clarity and even beauty. Repeated words sound especially beautiful to an English-language ear when they form part of a parallel structure, that is, a part of repeated grammatical structures.

Why is English like this? Because of the 1611 Authorized Version of the Bible, the “King James” Bible. As soon as it was published, its constant use as the major work of literature readily available to the ordinary person made it the standard and model of our language. Fortunately for us, the translators produced a direct, unornamented work meant for ordinary people, not scholars. They wrote when English was a new and fresh language and could be used without complication. They stuck close to the original languages, notably Hebrew.

Much of that Hebrew was poetic, using concrete and vivid language with simple phrases, easy to translate. Hebrew poetry does not rhyme; instead, it uses parallel, balanced structures of phrases or ideas, and of words or rhythms. The second half of a parallel may paraphrase the first half, it may give a consequence, it may contradict the first half, or it may add stronger and stronger clauses or sentences that lead to an apex. The rhythm can make the prose musical.

One example is from Ruth, 1:16-17:

And Ruth said, entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

The power and beauty of Biblical language and poetic repetition at work in modern English can be seen in this excerpt from a speech delivered on August 28, 1963, by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Now, I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day in the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slave-owners and the sons of former slaves will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the people’s injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

This is our home. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with — with this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

Wednesday Reading Meme

Feb. 20th, 2019 08:57 am
osprey_archer: (books)
[personal profile] osprey_archer
What I’ve Just Finished Reading

Winifred Holtby’s South Riding, which I enjoyed so much I now want to read Holtby’s other novels (particularly Anderby Wold, which is also set in Yorkshire)… which are no longer readily available, so it may take me some time to track them down. But then the general critical opinion seems to be that South Riding is Holtby’s masterpiece, so it may be just as well not to rush on to other books right after reading it.

I’m also thinking about rewatching the miniseries South Riding to compare the two - my recollection (based on watching the miniseries years ago) is that the overall effect of the miniseries is much grimmer than the book, possibly because the focus is not so wide-ranging as in the book - so when tragedy strikes, there are fewer other stories to offset the sadness.

William Heyliger’s The Big Leaguer. Heyliger wrote epically earnest fiction for boys in the mid-twentieth century; I like his work both because it is so very earnest (I recognize this is not everyone’s cup of tea) but also because he’s willing to give his characters some pretty major flaws, more so than a lot of authors are. This one I think is a bit repetitive - Marty’s big flaw is that he’s a know-it-all (without actually knowing very much) and nearly ruins his team’s pitcher with his bad advice, which is an interesting flaw but doesn’t need to be hammered home quite so many times.

I also read Marie Brennan’s “Daughter of Necessity,” which is a short story rather than a novel, but I thought I would mention it here because it’s a Penelope story - Penelope from the Odyssey - Penelope weaving and unweaving not only to put her suitors off, but because a drop of divinity runs in her veins and she can weave the future - only she keeps weaving futures she doesn’t want. I quite liked this.

What I’m Reading Now

I’ve started The Nine Tailors and MY GOD, YOU GUYS, THE BELLS. It at once seems totally random and yet also deeply in character that Lord Peter totally used to ring church bells as a hobby.

I’ve also begun Maria Thompson Daviess The Road to Providence, in which a singer with frazzled vocal cords has been sent to recuperate in a small Kentucky town under the aegis of Doctor Mayberry and his mother, the folk healer, whose warm heart and common sense bid fair to heal more people than all of Doctor Mayberry’s doctoring (although of course Mother Mayberry is fit to burst with pride in her son). I feel that the Pollyanna-ish strain really ought to grate on me, but instead the whole thing is growing on me the more I read.

What I Plan to Read Next

The library is finally - finally! - getting me Ben MacIntyre’s The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War. I loved MacIntyre’s book about Kim Philby (frankly I would have thought that was the greatest espionage story of the Cold War), so hopefully this one is just as good.

In the Zone

Feb. 20th, 2019 07:37 am
mallorys_camera: (Default)
[personal profile] mallorys_camera
Spent yesterday in The Zone writing like a defrocked angel.

Sat down at my desk at my customary 6am and rose at 3pm with 2,000 words that practically shimmered on the page, so evocative, poignant and (say it, girlfriend!) beautiful were they.

This is what one lives for, yes?

It’s a feat unlikely to be repeated since the next five days are very social.

I mean. I could get on the phone and cancel all my appointments.

But that would be hubris.

It's that time again.

Feb. 23rd, 2019 06:14 am
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
Yay, bleeding!


Read more... )

(no subject)

Feb. 24th, 2019 05:07 am

names from a fairy tale

Feb. 19th, 2019 10:30 pm
marycatelli: (East of the Sun)
[personal profile] marycatelli
I need to go back and re-name some characters.

Read more... )
marycatelli: (Golden Hair)
[personal profile] marycatelli
Greg and Tim Hildebrandt: The Tolkien Years by Greg Hildebrandt Jr.

An account of the years of the Tolkien calendars, as told by the son who was five-years-old at the time. And frequently featured as a hobbit. Sketches, reference shots, final work, with commentary all along.
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
but in this case it's pretty much unavoidable due to the subject matter, so I'll just tell you: the book is called Confessions of a Teenage Leper. Eva brought it home from the library, and I read it as I cooked dinner.

It may be the case that most or all people with Hansen's Disease hate the term "leper" and prefer not to be called that. I'm more than happy to oblige! And while the protagonist can get away with it due to also having the disease, the readers of this book need to be told the preferred usage.

But that doesn't make me thrilled to suddenly see a paean to Person First Language in the middle of this book, one which was then reiterated in the afterword. Instead of "put the person first!" nonsense I would have told our main character, when she complained that it doesn't matter which word you use, that the terms "leper" and, to a lesser extent, "leprosy" have been tied down with so much stigma and figurative baggage that it's basically impossible to use them in a literal, non-pejorative sense and that, also, whether she understood it or not it wasn't a very good idea to go around saying rude and offensive things when you know other people can't stand it.

the internet is wide

Feb. 20th, 2019 11:31 am
ladyherenya: (Lizzie)
[personal profile] ladyherenya
An article on asks: How Do You “See” the Books You Read?

It’s a less straightforward question to answer than I anticipated, like trying to explain something that made sense in a dream but doesn’t in the waking world.

My impressions of characters, in some weird and hard to describe way, a lot to do with their name. It can be jarring if the name the narrative refers to them as changes too much -- especially if their new name/nickname doesn’t start with the same letter as their previous name -- and I can find it difficult attaching my previous mental image to a new name. But my mental picture is more than just a name, because I don’t have the same mental picture for every character I’ve ever met called Jane.

If the narrative draws my attention to them, I visualise specific details about a character’s appearance, such as eye-colour, hair style or clothing. And when I look at illustrations and fan art, I know whether or not it matches what I imagined -- even though what I imagined might be oddly vague.

I visualise characters’ physical actions as those are described. How vividly I see spaces depends upon how much detail they’re described in (and also, maybe, how engaging the description is).

What I see most clearly, most unambiguously, is where everything is in relation to everything else. I usually know where I think north is, where the windows are, the order rooms are laid out in and whether one character is sitting to the left or right of another. I tend to get halfway through a scene of two characters in a car in the US before I remember that the driver should be seated on the left and the car should be on the right-hand side of the road. Sometimes I try to reimagine it and sometimes I’m just like “Everyone drives on the left-hand side in my head!”
Reading The Splendour Falls confirmed that this doesn’t occur to me when reading about characters driving around France.

The part I found most interesting about Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction, which looks at Sven Birkerts’ 1994 essays The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, was the paragraph that indicated that the author is of my generation and had similar exposure to technology growing up:
“Ten, fifteen years from now the world will be nothing like what we remember, nothing much like what we experience now,” Birkerts wrote. “We will be swimming in impulses and data—the microchip will make us offers that will be very hard to refuse.” Indeed, few of us have refused them. As each new technology, from smartphones to voice-activated home assistants, becomes normalized faster and faster, our ability to refuse it lessens. The choice presented in The Gutenberg Elegies, between embrace and skepticism, hardly seems like a choice anymore: the new generation is born swaddled in the digital world’s many arms.

I am both part and not part of this new generation. I was born in 1988, two years before the development of HTML. I didn’t have a computer at home until middle school, didn’t have a cell phone until I was eighteen. I remember the pained beeping of a dial-up connection, if only faintly. Facebook launched as I finished up high school, and Twitter as I entered college. The golden hours of my childhood aligned perfectly with the fading light of a pre-internet world; I know intimately that such a world existed, and had its advantages.
I agree that the internet is a distraction, but it’s a distraction the way the world is dangerous -- how much depends on who you know, where you go and what precautions you take.

But I’m also aware of the myriad of advantages the internet has brought to my reading life. It’s not just the convenience of Overdrive and being able to borrow a book instantaneously. It’s being able to find what other books an author wrote. (I didn’t know about Clover by Susan Coolidge! I didn’t know about the sequels to Susannah of the Mounties!) It’s Project Gutenberg. It’s reviews and recommendations from people who live in different countries to me but like similar books -- much more useful than reading the book sections of the weekend paper. It’s discussions and debates about tropes and trends. It’s having access to others’ enthusiastic glee and their critical analysis.

The internet is a distraction. Case in point: Here I sit writing about the internet instead of doing something else! I think I spend less time rereading books and less time writing fiction because I’m distracted by the internet. But my reading life is undeniably richer.
kore: (Beth Gibbons - music)
[personal profile] kore
"Never Enough" (United We Fall)

"Stolen Memories" (Natural Progression)

"Feelin Alright" (Local 604) ON REPEAT

"Makeshift Kingdom" (The Bill Murray EP)

"Oh My" (Water Street)

(no subject)

Feb. 19th, 2019 03:17 pm
dark_phoenix54: (books cats)
[personal profile] dark_phoenix54

Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir, by Jean Guerrero. One World, 2018


Jean Guerrero had a hard childhood. Her mother, a Puerto Rican physician working in San Diego, kicked her father out when Guerrero was 6- for understandable reasons. Her mother’s parents, who at times were the children’s caregivers, had some very odd ideas about child rearing. Her father, Marco Antonio Guerrero, was not around much, and when he was, he wasn’t much of a parent. Having mental illness but unwilling to acknowledge that, he self-medicated with, well, pretty much every drug that exists and huge amounts of alcohol.


The author majored in journalism and became a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, based in Mexico City. She used this situation to dig into her father’s culture and past. Turned out his family had a number of shamans in it, ending up in a sort of Castaneda territory. His parents and siblings, though, started a meat packing business that was making decent money with Marc Antonio running it. His half-sister edged him out, though, and that is when his problems really started, a downward spiral that included a tin foil hat along with the self-medicating. A voracious reader, he was a genius about repairing and creating things but couldn’t keep a job.


There is more than one crux in the story; the physical border between the US and Mexico, the border between mysticism and mental illness. The story wanders around in time and place, and I found this confusing in places. There is some repetition. There were sections that were so fascinating that I couldn’t put the book down, and other places I really wanted to skim or give up. Four stars out of five.

they cancelled my girl

Feb. 19th, 2019 02:09 pm
kore: (Jessica Jones - fucking bubbles)
[personal profile] kore
before her third season even aired. Fucking wow. Why? Way to ensure NOBODY will ever see it except the die-hards, and why do it now? We all knew it was going to be cancelled anyway. Of course the solo woman's show gets fucked over the most. Of course. We don't even have an AIR DATE yet. Will they show it at all? Maybe?

(Meanwhile fucking Agents of Shield got 'rare early seventh-season renewal for the 2019-2020 broadcast season — before its sixth season even aired.' Because Disney owns ABC.) ("So what is the future of Marvel on TV? In a word: Disney.")

(already saw people on reddit and other places saying S1 was only good because of Tennant and S2 was horrible. They can fuck all the way off.)


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