Drat.

Jul. 27th, 2017 07:09 pm
green_dreams: Benches with dead leaves on them on a rainy day. (fall benches in the rain)
[personal profile] green_dreams
Worldcon is coming up.

I have no idea what I'm going to bring to knit.

ETA: I'm thinking Viajante (maybe not lace), my Catkin, or the Nimbus I've been trying to bead.

Book Review

Jul. 26th, 2017 08:11 pm
kenjari: (illuminated border)
[personal profile] kenjari
The Confession of Brother Haluin
by Ellis Peters

This Cadfael mystery is a bit of a departure from the rest of the series in that the central mystery does not revolve around a murder and most of the action tgakes place at some distance from the abbey and Shrewsbury. During the winter, one of the brothers suffers a serious fall while taking part in the repair of an ice damaged roof at the abbey. Although he recovers, Brother Haluin's brush with death sets him off on a pilgrimage of penitence to pray at the tomb of the long-lost lover whose death he feels responsible for. Accompanied by Cadfael, Haluin, partially crippled from his injuries, sets off eastward towards the dwellings of his youth only to find his past shrouded in unexpected secrets and mysteries. After 15 of these books, I could pretty much see it all coming very soon into the book. Luckily, Peters' characters and writing are good enough that I still enjoyed seeing it all play out to a satisfying conclusion.

Sumer nights

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:13 am
kjn: (Default)
[personal profile] kjn
My honorary nephew Alex had posted the meme with an opossum going "Summer lovin', happened so fast; summer lovin', he scream at own ass" over on Facebook. For some reason, I put "Sumer" in there. This was the result.

Naturally based on Summer Nights from Grease.

Sumer lovin', we did well mesh )

Book Review

Jul. 24th, 2017 09:27 pm
kenjari: (mt greylock)
[personal profile] kenjari
The Hermit of Eyton Forest
by Ellis Peters

In this fourteenth Cadfael mystery, everything hinges on the arrival of a holy hermit and his young servant to the lands surrounding the abbey. When an arrogant and harsh visitor to the abbey is murdered and one of the abbey's schoolboys goes missing, things get quite complicated indeed. Along the way, we get some of the hallmarks of a Cadfael novel: lovers in some difficulty, an obvious suspect who turns out not to be the culprit, and the concealment of true identity. It was good and diverting read.

Steve (filk)

Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:54 pm
kjn: (Default)
[personal profile] kjn
It was a while since I last posted a filk song here. I haven't quit writing them, but most songs lately have been very situational or little more than fragments. But I finished this one today, named "Steve" after Steve Rogers (in Captain America: The First Avenger) and Steve Trevor (in Wonder Woman). Because, even if the films are very different in tone and message, and the two characters are dissimilar, the two Steves manage to hit the same points in roughly the same order:

  • Played by an actor named Chris (Evans and Pine, respectively)
  • Gets stuck far away from the fighting
  • Gets together with a dark-haired beauty, who helps him
  • Enlists the aid of a small band of companions, in a bar
  • Drives a motorbike through the woods
  • Flies of in an aircraft loaded with weapons of mass destruction in the end


It is based on the song "Balladen om den kaxiga myran" (YouTube) by Stefan Demert.

Jag uppstämma vill min lyra )

Man what a week!

Jul. 22nd, 2017 01:29 pm
hillarygayle: (Nurse Sakura)
[personal profile] hillarygayle
Worked all last weekend. You wouldn't believe how many hand lacerations I've repaired. I'm going to need to ask everyone in my geographical area to please step away from the heavy & sharp objects. I've had 3 crush injuries and at least 6 lacerations in the last 4 shifts I worked. The most impressive damage was someone who accidentally put their arm through a glass & metal door. Y'all, don't expect a door will hold your weight!

I've also had 2-3 admissions, which is unusual for the area of emergency in which I work. They try to send the lower acuity folks over to the Annex (where I work) because there are fewer infrastructure type resources (heart monitors, vital sign machines, only a Omnicell & supply Pyxis), so most of what I see are simple laceration repairs, twisted ankles, sore throats, chronic low back pain that magically became an emergency at 6pm on a random Tuesday, krunny noses, & the occasional N/V/D (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). Every so often, a VERY high acuity patient sneaks in because they simply don't look bad to the naked eye--it takes some digging to find the real problem. In the last year I've admitted a major heart attack who came in because of a cold, a hip fracture (bad enough to need next-morning surgery) that walked in, a pneumonia patient who had no fever, no cough, and just a little shortness of breath, and a back pain that turned out to be a ruptured kidney! My admissions this week were along those lines: walk in looking not bad at all--run a white blood cell count or get an x-ray or two and OH hey, why don't you come in & stay for a night?

Of course it hasn't helped that I was sick this week. Bryan went to a teacher training last week in the exotic far away lands of Arkadelphia and he brought home this upper respiratory virus which he then thoughtfully gave to me. Booooo. I was okay on Tuesday, sick on Wednesday, and then yesterday was REALLY bad. Fortunately I didn't have anyone who checked in with cold symptoms, because I probably would've stomped on their foot. When you're rocking pseudoephedrine, prednisone, acetaminophen/ibuprofen combo, and oxymetazoline nasal spray just to function enough to come to work, and someone comes in with a runny nose wanting a work excuse? Breeds just a touch of resentment.

I do believe things are about to change a bit though. We recently hired several more nurse practitioners. It's enough that M, the physician owner of the staffing agency for whom I work, has decided to start staffing the Main ER with 4 NPs per day: 2 from 09:00-17:00, and 2 from 17:00-03:00. This is in addition to the Annex, staffed by 1 NP from 09:00-21:00 and one from 11:00-23:00 (usually me). As the 2nd most senior employee, I get to state a preference for more shifts in Main or Annex, and I'm going to go for Main for sure. Not only am I specifically trained for that, I'm almost a year into my practice. I'm comfortable with my work flow and my processes, and once that happens it's only a matter of time until boredom strikes. UNLESS I'm learning new things, that is--which is what happens over in the Main ER with the very ill patients who come in. Lots more experiences interpreting labs, which is something I'd like to get better at.

My RV really wants to go somewhere! Ganon's birthday is Monday, and between that & my work schedule, there's no time for us to take the RV anywhere before school starts back. I'm going to plan us a trip to northwest Arkansas anyway, though. That can be done in just a couple of days. We can stay at an RV park over in Bentonville or Bella Vista and see the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Amazeum. A trip like that might even be MORE fun on a random weekend during the fall, when the heat is less unbearable. Even later in the fall would give us the gorgeous foliage of the Ozarks.

We're going to our first Dragon*Con over Labor Day weekend! I'm so excited! My mom is working on a costume for Ganon to dress as Link from BotW. I can't wait for...

Ganon: I'm Ganon.
Fan: Don't you mean Link?
Ganon: No, I'm cosplaying as Link. My NAME is Ganon. :D

I'm taking one cosplay outfit: my Pokémon professor costume from last Halloween. It's incredibly easy. It's just one of my old lab coats to which I sewed a Pokéball patch on the front. Put that on over one of my cute dresses, and *poof*! Pokémon professor! I already have a bit of an animated look, with my colorful hair and my professor-type glasses and my stand out makeup. When I wore it last Halloween, people knew instantly--even the parents at houses we went trick or treating at. Other than that, I think I'm going to stick with my geeky shirts & skirts from Her Universe & Tee Fury.

Right now, however--I am craving pizza with mushrooms, and I just found that Lost Pizza now supports online ordering. It's go time!
lexigent: (Shx)
[personal profile] lexigent posting in [community profile] yuletide
Stage of Fools is a fic exchange for the plays of William Shakespeare (with the exception of the Histories). Sign-ups are now open!




Stage of Fools on LJ | Stage of Fools on Dreamwidth

Sign-up post on LJ | Sign-up post on Dreamwidth


Schedule:

Sign-ups: July 22 through August 18, 2017
Assignments go out: around August 20, 2017
Assignments due: October 20, 2017
Madness/prompt claiming time: October 20 through 31 - as soon as all assignments are in, all unwritten prompts will be revealed for everyone to write fic of any length. You don't have to sign up as a Stage of Fools participant to participate in Madness.
Go-live: November 1, 2017
Author reveal: November 5, 2017

Book Review

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:54 pm
kenjari: (Default)
[personal profile] kenjari
Uncle Silas
by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Uncle Silas is an early example of the suspense/horror novel. Maud Ruthyn is a 17 year old girl recently orphaned by the death of her father, who has also left her heir to a very large fortune. She is placed under the guardianship of her sickly yet sinister Uncle Silas, whom she has had no prior relationship due to a terrible scandal that left Silas in utter disgrace. Despite Maud's at times naive determination to see her uncle in a positive and charitable light, her life as her uncle's ward soon becomes frightening as mysterious and menacing events start piling up.
This novel has a lot of the Gothic in it - gloomy old manor houses, brooding landscapes, strange people, dark secrets, and a few hints of the supernatural. It also has a lot of the "sensation novel" as well - suspense, mysteries to be solved,and crimes committed. The combination is very successful and satisfying. Sheridan Le Fanu's writing can at times seem a little overwrought, but it works in Uncle Silas because the narrator, Maud, is a teenaged girl attempting to cope with a very dangerous and disturbing situation. while the suspense does build more slowly than in modern thrillers, it was still effective and made the last couple of chapters exciting reading.
truepenny: photo of the keyboard and raised lid of a 1911 Bluethner grand piano; the inside of the lid has inlaid brass letters reading BLUETHNER LEIPZIG (bluethner 1911)
[personal profile] truepenny
So this year, after a gap of twenty-five years, I started taking piano lessons again, focusing--because I'm an adult and get to choose for myself--on ragtime. There's a bunch of stuff around this decision that does not need to be explored at this juncture, because what I want to talk about is one of the biggest fucking paradigm shifts I've ever experienced.

I learned piano very much in the traditional you-learn-pieces-and-perform-them-at-recitals-and-they-get-progressively-harder mode (also traditional is the nice Lutheran lady teaching piano in her living room), and one of the reasons I started again was that I could work with somebody who went to UW-Madison for music--somebody, in other words, who's been exposed to the theoretical underpinnings not just of music, but of teaching.

Dude rocks my fucking world, I tell you what.

Partly, this is because I'm an adult and I've been exposed to the theoretical underpinnings of teaching (I always know when a teacher is using a particular pedagogical technique on me--which interestingly doesn't always make it less effective). I learn differently now and with a different understanding of what "learning" is. This is the place where Csikszentmihalyi has been extremely helpful to me, because I can recognize how a successful learning engagement works. ("Learning experience" would be a better phrase, but it already has connotations that are really kind of the opposite of what I mean.) And the pressure to learn pieces for recitals is mercifully off, which helps, too. But partly it's because this guy approaches music completely differently, bottom up instead of top down.

But the thing that has changed my relationship with my piano is something my teacher said (and I can't for the life of me remember what it was) that made me understand--quite literally for the first time in my life--that fingerings aren't arbitrary and they aren't just put in music so that teachers can judge whether students are obeying them or not. Here's where playing the piano is exactly like rock climbing:

The notes in the score are like the hand, finger, foot, and toe holds used to set a route in a climbing gym. You work the fingerings out yourself, the same way that a climber works out her own solution to how to get to the top of the wall using the holds available. And he said, "This music is for playing." A weirdass chord progression or run is like a difficult sequence in a route; it's a game, a puzzle that a musician who's been dead for 100 years set for all the pianists who came after him to solve. You work out the fingerings (4-5-3-5 WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK) so that you don't hang yourself out to dry, the same way that a climber works out her holds so that when she has only her right hand free, the next hold isn't three feet to her left. When you make a mistake, you laugh and pick yourself back up and go up the wall again, because it isn't a pass/fail test. It's a game. You have a sense of glee that you share with the route setter about solving this incredibly intricate puzzle almost--in a weird way--together.

What that means is, (1) playing piano, which I have always loved, is now infused with a sense of fun that it truly has never had; (2) I know what I'm learning--not just "music" but the route up the wall, the game that underlies the performance; (3) when I'm fumbling through a new chunk of music, I know why I'm fumbling. It's not because I'm stupid or the music is stupid; it's because my brain is trying to process so much new information that it gets overwhelmed. That's why I miss easy chords and consistently play that damn C-sharp when the piece is written in G. Because THAT'S WHAT THE LEARNING PROCESS LOOKS LIKE.

But honest to god the idea of music as a game being played between composer and performer, and not a game like tennis, but a game like riddling--riddle set and riddle answered--is a seismic paradigm shift for me. Everything looks different now.

DICE TALES is out in the world!

Jul. 19th, 2017 10:29 am
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

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!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Dear Senator Johnson:

Thank you for speaking out against Senator McConnell's methodology, which looks suspiciously more like tyranny than democracy. I hope that you will publicly refuse to vote to repeal the ACA with nothing lined up to take its place. McConnell's plan is catastrophic and could only be put forward by someone who neither knows nor cares anything about the healthcare needs of his constituents. I am strongly in favor of bipartisan reform for the ACA, and I hope that you will reach out to your Democratic colleagues to make that happen.

I know I will never persuade you that you are wrong about the effect of the free market, but, because I choose to believe that you are acting in good faith, I have to--in good faith--try again:

The problem with the free market is that it erodes ethics. Free-market capitalism says that ethics are irrelevant--if they're not actually a liability, making you less able to compete. This is why it is crucial that the government regulate corporations. The government doesn't need to worry about corporations making money. They'll take care of that part themselves. The government needs to ensure that they don't run roughshod over employees and consumers in the process. Deregulating everything and trusting to the free market to solve the problem is like opening all the cages and trusting the tigers to solve the food supply problem. Corporations, like tigers, will solve the problem for themselves. We need the government to make sure the problem is solved for everyone.

This is why we need government. This is why government should never be run on the corporate model. It is not a corporation, and if it is to succeed in providing justice for all citizens, it cannot be a corporation. It has to be the balance to the corporations, to keep their untrammeled free market competition from literally poisoning everything they touch. In the past fifty years, America has proved repeatedly that deregulation is not the answer. Deregulation only and always makes things worse, because--hey, wait for it--our country is not a corporation. Treating it like one merely destroys it.

This is why ethics are not something that can be discarded. Because without ethics, you get the Trump administration, and I have to tell you that, no matter how it looks from where you are, from where I am, all I see are tigers.



There's also email to Governor Walker about why isn't he one of the governors speaking out against ACA repeal?
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

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.

***

cover art for GRAVEYARD SHIFT by Michael F. HaspilI 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.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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[personal profile] fgemods posting in [community profile] yuletide

Fandom Growth Exchange Banner

AO3 Profile | Dreamwidth | Tumblr



Nominations are now open for the Fandom Growth Exchange! The Fandom Growth Exchange is a multi-fandom exchange for fandoms, relationships, and characters that have ten or fewer complete fics (or five or fewer contributing authors) on AO3. Check out the tagset!

Nominations close: July 31st at 11:55 PM UTC
Sign-ups open: August 3rd at 11:55 PM UTC
Sign-ups close: August 17th at 11:55 PM UTC
Assignments sent: August 22nd at 11:55 PM UTC
Default deadline: October 8th at 11:55 PM UTC
Assignments due: October 22nd at 11:55 PM UTC
Works revealed: November 3rd at 11:55 PM UTC
Authors revealed: November 8th at 11:55 PM UTC

Book Review

Jul. 15th, 2017 07:42 pm
kenjari: (St. Cecilia)
[personal profile] kenjari
Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World
by John Szwed

This biography of song collector, ethnomusicologist, and singer Alan Lomax was endlessly fascinating and wonderful to read. This is one of the rare non-fiction books that is as compelling and absorbing as a good novel. Szwed takes an all-encompassing view of Lomax, delving into his beginnings as an assistant to his father's song-collecting, his alliance with progressive causes, the FBI's investigations of him, his sometimes contentious views on the importance of folksong - especially that of African-Americans - to American national identity, and his complex relationships to the worlds of academia and popular culture. The only thing that gets a little shorted is Lomax's personal life and relationships, as Szwed concentrates mainly on Lomax's career.
Although the biography is clearly not a hagiography, it is clear that Szwed admires Lomax and it is hard not to share in that admiration. Whatever Lomax's personal failings, Szwed makes it clear that Lomax was an important figure in the preservation and popularization of American folk music, an ardent promoter of the musicians who played it, and a true believer in its value.

Remix Revival 2017!

Jul. 15th, 2017 09:20 am
unforgotten: (Default)
[personal profile] unforgotten posting in [community profile] yuletide
 Link: Remix Revival on AO3; follow us on Dreamwidth or Tumblr for reminders and updates.

Description: Remix Revival is a new panfandom remix exchange, welcoming both authors and artists! If you're unfamiliar with remix exchanges, the idea is that you take someone else's fic or art and write/draw it the way you would have. To qualify for Remix Revival, you must have three 500 word fics, five 100 word fics, or three completed drawings in each fandom you request. The minimum wordcount for assignments is 1k, while art must be a complete piece. There will be a Madness round that allows sketches and shorter fics running from September 10-25.

Dates:
Signups begin: July 15 (ongoing now!)
Signups end: July 30 11:59 PM ET
Assignments out by: August 5
Assignments due: September 10, 11:59 PM ET
Collection goes live: September 17
Remixers revealed: September 24


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