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Posted by Brit Mandelo

I Am Not A Serial Killer

IFC Midnight and director Billy O’Brien have brought Dan Wells’s I Am Not a Serial Killer to life on the screen, starring Max Records and Christopher Lloyd. Our protagonist, John Wayne Cleaver, is a teenage sociopath attempting to keep his life together and himself in check with the help of his therapist and small-town associates. This is, of course, until a rash of serial murders begin in his town—and there’s something more or less than human behind them.

When the novel was originally published—six years ago—I found it reasonably compelling and entertaining, as evidenced by this review. It had some narrative hiccups but a strong use of voice and an engaging internal conflict for the protagonist; overall, I thought it was decent. So, when I had the chance to scope out an adaptation from IFC, I thought: why not?

Spoilers ahead.

The film, much like the source text, has strengths and weaknesses—and interestingly, they’re almost opposite. While Wells’s novel does a mediocre to poor job of building tension about the nature of the evil stalking the town of Clayton, O’Brien’s adaptation gets rid of the reflective mode and presents a linear narrative. During the murder John initially witnesses on the lake it comes as a surprise that the old kindly neighbor Crowley, played to delightful effect by Christopher Lloyd, is actually a monster. Compared to the novel, there’s far more tension in the narrative as the movie builds up to this revelation, while John’s young friend jokes about werewolves and John tries to be a detective.

Unfortunately, the subtraction of the point-of-view narrative also does the text a disservice: the audience misses out on the compelling struggle within our protagonist against himself, his world, and his urges. Part of the reason Wells’s novel was so engaging was John-as-narrator. It was a unique perspective, invested with a great deal of struggle and intensity. Without that, the narrative itself falls a bit flat: we have less sense of the stakes, even if John explains a few of them (his strategy of paying compliments to potential victims when he feels violent, et cetera).

While O’Brien has increased the tension in the plot as it progresses into a game of cat and mouse between John and the monster, the tension in terms of character growth and conflict has flatlined. The end result is a film that drags a bit during the middle, once we’ve figured out the nature of the murders but John isn’t acting on the knowledge yet—just following Crowley and watching people be slaughtered by him. The internal conflict would have brought some life to those scenes; instead, John barely hints at it in his conversations with the therapist.

The screen doesn’t necessarily lend itself to that kind of narration, of course, but something else could have stood in for it, to help even out the pacing. As it was, I found myself less engaged in the continuing story even once we arrived at the endgame. Also, the decision to spend a relatively long period of screen time—several minutes—with a CGI “demon” talking to John and his mother made me sigh with frustration. The creature wasn’t particularly frightening or realistic, and the CGI didn’t blend as well as it could have with the film scenery and the prior usage of effects. The classic horror movie problem: show too much incorrectly and it goes from scary or compelling to silly. This leapt across the line into “silly,” which is a real shame, considering that the scene could have had a lot of poignancy and heft.

I also found the plotline with Brooke to be shoehorned in and underdeveloped in the film. She plays little part except being a girl who shows up occasionally to be not freaked out by John. That presents a narrative dead-end that we don’t have enough of a sense of to become invested in. John’s mother is also a lesser figure here. The compressed nature of the film relegates most of the characters who aren’t either John, the neighbor/monster Crowley, or his therapist to secondary or tertiary roles; however, it still tries to include them, sometimes to greater success than others.

SerialKiller02

As a whole, I Am Not a Serial Killer is a decent adaptation of decent source material. It was visually compelling, and Max Records does a good job showing John’s compulsions and awkwardness through tiny details of body language and tone. Christopher Lloyd, rather obviously, makes for a sympathetic but terrifying demon/serial killer who desperately adores his wife in spite of the odds stacked against them. The small-town tension is believable, though the accelerated pace of the murders is a little hard to swallow. As a psychological sort-of scary movie, it does a decent job of getting the audience invested and making them uncomfortable.

While it does drag a bit, it was a fine enough movie for the folks who’ll be interested in it—though a bit less of a stand-out than the original novel. I would’ve liked more of the mother and family dynamics, and more of the complicated relationship with Brooke, to flesh out the rather-heavily-gendered scale of narrative interest the movie presents. As a whole, though, O’Brien and his cast have done a solid job of bringing Wells’s book to the screen.

Brit Mandelo is a writer, critic, and editor whose primary fields of interest are speculative fiction and queer literature, especially when the two coincide. They have two books out, Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction and We Wuz Pushed: On Joanna Russ and Radical Truth-telling, and in the past have edited for publications like Strange Horizons Magazine. Other work has been featured in magazines such as Stone Telling, Clarkesworld, Apex, and Ideomancer.

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Gutenberg, The Musical! (Backyard Renaissance)Gutenberg, The Musical! (Backyard Renaisalt=The ideas for musicals come from the many places. Books. Movies. More movies. Far too many movies.  Grey Gardens came from a documentary about a crazy heiress.  [title of show] came from a festival application. Then there is the show we saw last night from Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company (FB) at the Diversionary Theatre (FB) in San Diego: Gutenberg, The Musical! It came from, well, a slush pile of bad musical submissions.

Perhaps I should explain this a bit more. Scott Brown and Anthony King (FB), who wrote the show, were Junior High School friends who were working as interns at theatre companies. They were tasked with attending new musicals, and reading through the slush pile of submitted musicals and unsolicited demo recordings of musicals. They were seeing bad musicals. Really bad musicals. They began to wonder how the authors of those musicals didn’t realize they were so bad. So, they decided to write their own intentionally bad musical. They would figure out the absolute worse subject for a musical and go for it. As Hitler was already taken, they went with Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the Printing Press.  It died. They reworked it for Upright Citizens Brigade. It lived. They expanded it to 45 minutes, then to a full-length off-Broadway show. They recorded a cast album.

I should say upfront that this show is bad. But bad in a good sense. Think about Batman in the 1960s. The show was bad but in an intentional way, in a way that played up the knowledge that you were in on the joke that it was bad, and so you went along for the ride, and it ended up being good, and in fact making a positive and deep commentary on a number of things. Well, perhaps not that far. But it was bad in an intentionally funny way, and that made it good.

Here’s an example that perhaps illustrates this. Early in this show, one character is secretly in love with another character, and offers to make him some lamb stew. He replies, “I love ewe.”. She hears “I love you.”  Yup. Do we go out on that joke? No, we do reprise of song, that help. But not much.

In any case, Gutenberg, The Musical! is presented as a musical about Gutenberg. But it is not presented as a traditional musical. Rather, it is presented as a backer’s audition, with the two ostensible authors playing all the roles (in the spirit of Murder for Two). How do you tell the myriad of characters apart? Each character has their own hat. A baseball cap. With their character stenciled on it.

As the story of Gutenberg himself doesn’t cry out for musicalization, the authors go the historical fiction route. They set the story in the fictional berg of Schlimmer, Germany. That should be a clue right there. They invent a fictional love interest, a buxom blond wench named Helvetica. They invent an antagonist, an evil (or should that be eeeeevil bwah ha ha) monk named, well, Monk. They invent a deep and meaningful commentary they want to make — since this is Germany, they must mention the holocaust. And they come up with a story: Gutenberg wants to make people read, and so invents the Printing Press. Monk wants to keep people stupid so he can tell them what is right and wrong without them knowing (and remember, boys and girls, that Monk almost rhymes with Trump). Helvetica loves Gutenberg, but is afraid of losing her wine-pressing job and him after he invents the printing press, and so falls under Monk’s spell (after listening to Trump’s, I mean, Monk’s, lies) and destroys the press. You can take it from there.

So the story is campy. Intentionally campy. Aside from the hats, there is continual breaking of the fourth wall, continually skewering of musical conventions and existing musicals, inspired sillyness (such as the water schprizting bottle), and, well, everything you would expect at a bad backers audition. In doing so, Gutenberg does something similar to [title of show] — it exposes the side of theatre that is rarely seen: the developmental side. What Gutenberg is demonstrating is what many musicals go through, and what many potential producers have to suffer through: the backers audition that can be both great and horrifying at the same time. The badness of the musical proposal combines with the earnestness of the authors to create something bigger than itself. You might say that it becomes a monster in its own right, but I wouldn’t go that far … and here’s why.

When you scrape off the veneer of bad backers audition, and think about what it being said, there is a deeper valid commentary being made (just as the wine press presses out the good juice from the grapes). The commentary has nothing to do with the holocaust, but with the importance of reading, knowledge, and independent thinking over just listening to the platitudes of misguided leaders. In the story, Monk intentionally wants to keep the village and the villagers stupid, so that he can exert his power over them by telling them what he wants them to think their books of authority say. Does that sound familiar? I’ve alluded to Trump before, because I think it is a clear analogy. We get political leaders who want to tell us what the Constitution says, what they believe our laws say, what they think we should do. Another example: I’ve recently been in some discussions with anti-Vaxxers (which will be my next blog post). They’ve been brainwashed by leaders who tell them what the science says, what the statistics means. Never mind whether it is true or not — these people tell them what they want them to hear to serve their own ends. Gutenberg, on the other hand, wants transparency and critical thinking. He doesn’t want to tell the people how to think — he wants them to be able to read and think about it on their own, to come up with their own opinions and understanding. He knows that what will make the true technological revolution is not a piece of machinery, but what that machinery enables. Beneath all of the camp of this musical is a deep message about the power of independent critical reading and analysis over the tyranny of ignorance. And that, friends, is a wonderful and true message.

Now, a story is nothing if it isn’t performed well. Our two erstwhile authors, Scott and Anthony, well, Doug and Bud (as the characters are named) are played by Anthony Methvin (FB) [Doug] and Tom Zohar (FB) [Bud]. These two young men bring the right amount of earnestness, sillyness, and talent to the role, believably coming the authors of the musical. They handle all the different hats they have to wear well, rapidly becoming all the different characters. Including rats and dead babies. Also notable is the cat, Biscuit, whose bio is hilarious. I figure he has a big future on Broadway.

The scenic design is understandably…. nothing. A piano. A folding table covered in hats, with a few props underneath it. This design, together with the simplistic props, comes from the Executive and Artistic directors of BRT — Jessica John Gerke (FB) and Francis Gerke (FB). The real “set” comes from the wide variety of hats, which serve as the “costumes” — which were also designed by Jessica John Gerke (FB). I’d say they were an inventive idea, but considering the cover of the cast album, my guess is that they were at least inspired by the original UCB design. Nevertheless, they were executed well and worked great for the story — and were incorporated well into the staging of director Kim Strassburger (FB) and the dance/movement of choreographer Katie Whalley Banville (FB). A little elaboration on that: although these were just two guys wearing hats, they were doing so in extremely inventive ways: such as a line of hats on a string for a chorus line, or literally wearing many hats at one time. There were commentaries on large dance numbers in musicals, on pointless charm songs, and much more — all executed in a humorous and entertaining fashion that wasn’t necessarily part of the script. That, I believe, is what the director and choreographer brought to this show.

On to the piano. There is no explicit credit for the on-stage pianist, so presumably it was the music director Lyndon Pugeda (FB). It looks like him at least (although he needs to update his official website — it dates to 2012 and references (heaven forfend) Myspace). Although not a formal character, he played with the actors and provided quite a few humorous moments of his own. Plus he played the keys well.

Back to the production credits. There was no credit for sound design; as there were no sound effects, there might not have been any sound design. Lighting design was by Curtis Mueller (FB), and worked within the restrictions of the space — a few lekos, a few scrollers, and what looked like a moving mirror spot. Then again, this was a backers audition — you don’t need a lot of lighting effects. Anthony Methvin (FB) was the producing director, and Taylor Todd (FB) was the stage manager. Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company (FB) is under the artistic direction of Jessica John Gerke (FB) and the executive direction of  Francis Gerke (FB).

Gutenberg! The Musical! continues at the Diversionary Theatre (FB) in San Diego’s University Park community through September 4th. Tickets are available through the BRT website; discount tickets may be available through Goldstar. It is worth seeing.

* * *

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB), the  Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), and I plan to renew my mini-subscription at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB). Past subscriptions have included  The Colony Theatre (FB) (which went dormant in 2016), and Repertory East Playhouse (“REP”) (FB) in Newhall (which entered radio silence in 2016). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:  September returns to conventional theatre. The second weekend sees us back at Muse/ique (FB) for Summer/Time, a reimagined retelling of Porgy and Bess. The third weekend brings I Love You Because at the Grove Theatre in Burbank. The last weekend is The Hunchback of Notre Dame at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (FB).

Continuing the look ahead: October is a bit more booked. The first weekend brings Dear World at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) and Our Town at Actors Co-op (FB), as well as the start of the High Holy Days. The second weekend has another Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) event: this time for Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. The third weekend has yet another VPAC event: An Evening with Kelli O’Hara on Friday, as well as tickets for Evita at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on Saturday. The following weekend brings Turn of the Screw at Actors Co-op (FB) on October 22 and the new Tumbleweed Festival (FB) on October 23. The last weekend of October brings Linden Waddell’s Hello Again, The Songs of Allen Sherman at Temple Ahavat Shalom (a joint fundraiser for MoTAS and Sisterhood). Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, October is also the North Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and it looks like a theatre in Pasadena will be presenting the musical Funny Girl. November is still in the planning stages, but we know it will include Hedwig and the Angry Inch at  the Hollywood Pantages (FB); a Day Out With Thomas at Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB) [excuse me, “Southern California Railway Museum”]; the Nottingham Festival (FB); and possibly Little Women at the Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves.

This entry was originally posted on Observations Along The Road (on cahighways.org) as this entry by cahwyguy. Although you can comment on DW, please make comments on original post at the Wordpress blog using the link below; you can sign in with your LJ, FB, or a myriad of other accounts. There are currently comments on the Wordpress blog. PS: If you see share buttons above, note that they do not work outside of the Wordpress blog.

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Posted by Natalie Zutter

HBO Westworld new trailer

HBO has released the latest trailer for Westworld, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s adaptation of the 1973 Michael Crichton movie. Set in a retro futuristic theme park that’s like Jurassic Park but for the Wild West, populated by robots who are as much prisoners as Ava from Ex Machina, the series looks to tackle the crossovers between consumerism and artificial intelligence—with a stellar cast, to boot.

While past trailers showed us the (West)world, we now get someone whose eyes we can look through. Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) doesn’t seem to understand that she’s not real, or at least believes that she lives in some sort of dream. But when other robots begin going off-book and misbehaving in exceedingly violent ways, Dr. Robert Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) dream slides into nightmare territory.

Enter the Man in Black (Ed Harris), who might offer a way out, or be part of the larger conspiracy. Check out the trailer for itself—it’s NSFW, but mostly just for scantily-clad saloon girls:

Westworld also stars Thandie Newton, James Marsden, Tessa Thompson, Rodrigo Santoro, and others. It will premiere on HBO in October 2016.

via Flavorwire

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Posted by Leah Schnelbach

Barb Barbie

If you’re like me, you’re startled by the staying power of Stranger Things. While I enjoyed the show, I also saw that there were some flaws, and I certainly didn’t expect that it would be the breakout hit of the summer. But here were are, a month later, with Stranger Things cupcakes, Stranger Things cats, and roughly two thousand posts about Barb.

Finally, Jason Concepcion over at The Ringer asked the question: what is the deal with Barb? Why is everyone so obsessed with her? Since such questions are part of the ineffable workings of the cosmos, and provide no ready answer, he quickly moved on to an even more interesting question: why is it that characters with tiny fractions of screentime sometimes explode? OK, Concepcion didn’t quite answer that one either, because really, characters become fan favorites for lots of different reasons. But he did come up with a really interesting way to look at these breakouts.

First, he formulated a way to look at breakout characters in a more theoretical way, divorced from their actions in their respective shows. He chose to create a sample size by looking at each characters hits on Google News, and then created an equation he called CUPS (Content Units Per Scene). Then he did a little math:

(Google News hits) divided by (total screen appearances) = CUPS

Again, this allows a pop culture scholar to look at the breakout character in their purest form – no catchphrases, slapstick routines, crying jags, fashion choices – just screentime. Using this formula, Concepcion then works out the Top Ten Television Characters by their CUPS. The current listing features several characters from Stranger Things, but also a few surprising entries from classic, pre-Netflix-binge shows as well, such as Seinfeld’ Soup Nazi. Even more interesting is that certain aspects of iconic characters have more CUPS than others. For instance, “crying Don Draper” has a higher CUPS count than any other version. Could this mean that people are responding not to an iconic, handsome, ultra-patriarchal symbol of 1950’s masculinity, but instead to the moment when his facade of perfection cracks?

Or does it just mean that we enjoy illustrating points with crying gifs?

Concepcion also grapples with the other implication of his CUPS scoring process: people who write for the internet are in constant need of content.

Much like our hunter–gatherer ancestors, the modern content creator has learned to use every part of that which sustains them. Lunch does not purchase itself. This process, spurred by parallel developments in technology and a deepening of human understanding, will only continue. CUPS has revealed patterns in the roiling chaos of the internet.

Head over to the Ringer to see the CUPS results!

The winning portrait of Barbie as Barb via A Doll’s World over on Instagram!

Hammers on Bone Sweepstakes!

Aug. 29th, 2016 03:30 pm
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Posted by Sweepstakes

Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw

We want to send you a galley copy of Cassandra Khaw’s Hammers on Bone, available October 11th from Tor.com Publishing! Read the first chapter here.

John Persons is a private investigator with a distasteful job from an unlikely client. He’s been hired by a ten-year-old to kill the kid’s stepdad, McKinsey. The man in question is abusive, abrasive, and abominable.

He’s also a monster, which makes Persons the perfect thing to hunt him. Over the course of his ancient, arcane existence, he’s hunted gods and demons, and broken them in his teeth.

As Persons investigates the horrible McKinsey, he realizes that he carries something far darker. He’s infected with an alien presence, and he’s spreading that monstrosity far and wide. Luckily Persons is no stranger to the occult, being an ancient and magical intelligence himself. The question is whether the private dick can take down the abusive stepdad without releasing the holds on his own horrifying potential.

Hammers on Bone is a new novella from rising author Cassandra Khaw.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 11:30 AM Eastern Time (ET) on August 29th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on September 2nd. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Dream with a friend

Aug. 29th, 2016 08:07 am
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Stuck in bed this weekend, brief outings to back yard. I can't put much weight on my right (bad) leg from sciatica style pain running down from the back. But, different than many other times as the main concentration is in my foot and side/back of the calf rather than stabby in the low back or pelvis. Coping OK after the first day of it.

[personal profile] brainwane was in my dream last night. I had just launched another beta of Firefox (which i am actually in the middle of twice a week in real life, thanks, literal dreams). We were hanging out in her driveway overlooking a canal with little boats in it, talking deeply about things. She had the same scooter as me for some reason. I suddenly realized my beta release had a giant crash caused by a mixed content policy bug I had just uplifted before the build. So in the dream I was going "hang on brainwane I want to hear this story but I just have to email (*specific person who actually exists and works on that project*) about the bug and turn off updates. Typing behaved in the wonky way it does in dreams but I managed to read the bug and send the email!! I think it is hilarious that I dreamed about the feelings of regret of having accepted a patch for uplift without requiring enough testing beforehand in late beta. ok, my brain.... !

Then we went inside to cook dinner together and I folded some loads of her laundry on the couch as we kept talking. It was very cozy and domestic. Can't remember what we were rambling about though.

Five Books about Loving Everybody

Aug. 29th, 2016 03:00 pm
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Posted by Nisi Shawl

Oberyn-Ellaria

Words are powerful magic. Finding a word—polyamory—to describe my romantic and sexual relationships made it possible to tell people what I was doing: my friends, my family, my lovers, and most importantly, myself. I was a college dropout when I first encountered the term polyamory, which we’ll define here as the conscious romantic and/or sexual involvement of three or more consenting adults.

The comic book which introduced me to the name of this concept, and which I read so eagerly, has gotten lost somewhere in my forty-plus years of raggle-taggle relocations. Its main character was named Polly, and I think the front cover was mostly black…. At any rate, it left me longing for further literary examples of this newly validated category of human behavior: stories about kissing and hugging and making love with everybody, without guilt or shame. Which I both wrote and found.

 

Tales of Nevèrӱon by Samuel R. Delany

Tales-NeveryonTales of Nevèrӱon contains one of my favorite polyamorous situations. Obviously thumbing his authorial nose at traditional anthropology’s tendency to reframe other cultures’ practices within its own values, Delany writes of the polygamous Rulvyn from a feminist viewpoint. Among these mountain people, the sage Venn explains, “a strong woman married a prestigious hunter; then another strong woman would join them in marriage—frequently her friend—and the family would grow.” Reversing the conventional interpretation of polygamy’s power dynamic while keeping numbers and gender identical, Delany calls familiar readings of such relationships into question. Yet the brief passage on Rulvyn mores is only one of the many neat tricks he pulls off in this stunning 1979 fantasy, which on its surface is simply another book in the sword-and-sorcery subgenre.

 

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

FledglingOctavia E. Butler’s last novel, Fledgling, was also ostensibly lighter fare, at least according to the author: a vampire story. Of course it’s something more, because of Butler’s inevitable engagement with problems with gender roles, racial representation, and hierarchy. Heroine Shori Matthews spends the bulk of the book carefully constructing a polyamorous family for her own protection and nourishment. Trading sex and pleasure and improvements to their immune systems for humans’ blood, Shori takes male and female symbionts into her fold. Lots and lots of them—a mentor advises her that eight is a good number of symbionts, and that she should let any jealousies work themselves out without interference. On top of that, her species, which is called the Ina, mate with other Ina in groups, and they live communal yet sex-segregated lives. I so wish Butler had lived to write this 2005 book’s sequels.

 

“«Légendaire.»” by Kai Ashante Wilson

Stories-ChipMy next recommendation is a bit of a cheat, because it’s a short story rather than a novel. First published in 2013 and reprinted in 2015’s Stories for Chip, “«Légendaire.»” by Kai Ashante Wilson features polyamory as a given, background to a fantastic tale of love and loss and imperious artistic destiny. “When she lies down with her husband or with her wife,” Wilson writes in the story’s fifth paragraph, matter-of-factly introducing us to the group marriage out of which his hero’s born. A few lines later he adds, so there’s no mistaking what’s meant, “Her wife and husband have long since gone to bed.” Such arrangements are not the focus of “«Légendaire.»” but its armature. In this case, the mundanity of multiply-partnered love is balm to my oversensitized, underprivileged heart.

To atone for choosing a short work I’ll recommend a second, bonus story by the same author, from 2014. In “The Devil in America”, Hazel Mae, mother of protagonist Easter, battles off the warped obscenities of an adversary accusing her of promiscuity, the vice most commonly–and mistakenly–associated with the polyamory she has secretly practiced.

 

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Fifth-SeasonJemisin’s The Fifth Season, published in 2015, is not only a novel, it’s the beginning of a trilogy. As such, it has the epic scope we expect of longer narratives: it spans countries and civilizations, oracles and ages. Large as life, it depicts horrific disasters on a global scale, and hints at human rights abuses to match. But at a certain point, a revivifying lull in its grim action, it brings together three major characters in a joyful male/female/male ménage à trois. At first awkward and unlooked for, (“‘So you have decided to share?’…She blinks as the words register. ‘Uh?’”) the relationship eventually becomes a source of solid comfort and stability for the witch, wizard, and pirate chief who enter into it. For as long as it lasts.

 

Black Wine by Candas Jane Dorsey

Black-WineYou may have noticed that all four of these recommendations are by authors of African descent. Why? Not because we’re the only ones who write about polyamory in SFF, I’m sure. Nor because that’s all I read. As proof, my fifth recommendation is the 1997 novel Black Wine, by the inimitable–and European-descended–Candas Jane Dorsey. In this—fantasy? fable? far-future science fiction? whatever it is—dirigible sailors formally bond with one another in families of three or more. Five adults is the usual number, and these romantic, sexual, and domestic circles are called, unsurprisingly, “hands,” with individual members known as “fingers.” Slippery as the book’s genre, Dorsey’s depiction of gender, sexuality, and love rides meandering currents through strange lands and interesting times, with the claspings of the sailors’ hands among its happiest moments.

 

None of these recommendations are “about” polyamory. More accurately, these stories are around polyamory: loving everybody figures into what they’re about in different ways—as an exception, as a cultural marker for travelers in time and space, as a signifier of civility and sophistication, and so on. I’m sure that a thorough search would provide at least as many examples of ways of portraying polyamory in SFF as there are of practicing it.

Take my suggestions. Read them. Read my work as well, for you’ll find that, as I noted earlier, I’ve definitely written polyamory into several of the worlds I’ve imagined. And add your recommendations to mine in the comments below. There’s no reason to stop with five, is there? Our hearts and our minds can hold more.

Top image: Game of Thrones (2011- )

Everfair by Nisi ShawlNisi Shawl is a writer of science fiction and fantasy short stories and a journalist. She is the author of Everfair (Tor Books, September 6) and co-author (with Cynthia Ward) of Writing the Other: Bridging Cultural Differences for Successful Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Asimov’s SF Magazine, Strange Horizons, and numerous other magazines and anthologies.

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Posted by Emily and Matt Clifton

Grilled Lemon-Garlic Chicken and Tomato Kebabs With Basil Chimichurri
Grilled chicken skewers don't always need a long marinade to be full of flavor. These spend just a few minutes in a lemony, garlicky mix before they're grilled. The hot chicken absorbs the flavor of the fresh basil chimichurri, and the grilled cherry tomatoes bring sweetness and acid. Get Recipe!

Thessaly: The Baroque Inspiration

Aug. 29th, 2016 02:00 pm
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Posted by Jo Walton

JustCity-crop

Welcome back to the Tor.com eBook Club! August’s pick is The Just City, the first book in Jo Walton‘s Thessaly trilogy. Join in below, as Jo discusses one of the inspirations behind her characterization of Apollo.

One of the points of view of all three Thessaly books is Apollo. Writing a god’s point of view is literally hubris, though the Greeks did it all the time in poetry and drama. Apollo is the only narrator who stays with us through the trilogy, the one who ties it all together. His voice, his sly snarky voice, and his experience of being a god taking on mortal life for the duration of the experiment, are one of the things that made this project really interesting for me. This part of the books had a much more direct inspiration than most of my ideas. It came from a baroque statue.

In the summer of 2011, Ada Palmer took me to the Borghese museum in Rome without warning me at all. She knew the Berninis would make my head explode, but she didn’t give me any foreshadowing, she just took me there and let it happen. It would be a museum worth going to anyway, it has a Botticelli and a Raphael and some lovely Roman sculpture. But what makes it wonderful are the three stunning statues by Bernini (1598-1680), all of which do things with marble that you wouldn’t imagine were possible, both technically and narratively. There’s the Aeneas, where you have Anchises carried on Aeneas’s shoulders from the wreck of Troy, with Ascanius behind—the young boy, the strong man, and the old man, all together, and Anchises clutching the statue of the lars and penates of Troy in his hand. The amazing thing is that the statue he’s holding is made out of marble—well, the whole thing is made out of one block of marble, but Bernini distinguishes the texture of the flesh and cloth so much that though the stone hand is holding a stone statue they’re completely different substances. You have to see it. Photographs won’t do it.

Warning—discussion of consent issues.

Bernini’s other two masterpieces in the Borghese are related—they’re both about rape. There’s Hades and Proserpina, and there’s Apollo and Daphne, and they’re both saying something interesting and currently relevant to the debate about rape culture that’s going on today. They made me realise that every single other instance of “rapes of the gods” I’d seen was the male gaze, was all about “I’d like to do her!” Bernini’s sculptures are from the women’s point of view, and all about the “Do not want!” The Hades and Proserpina is particularly disturbing. But it was the Apollo and Daphne that really got to me. For one thing, it’s one of the most beautiful sculptures I’ve ever seen. It’s technically quite amazing. And then narratively, it conveys time so well—it’s capturing the moment at which Daphne is in the middle of turning into a tree. And Apollo is right there, and he’s completely oblivious, his beautiful face, serene, he has no idea he’s doing anything wrong (unlike horrible Hades, who knows and doesn’t care at all) and the statue has so much narrative and so much time but it’s still and frozen, and yet, if he were moving then in another second he’d be smacked in the groin by a tree branch.

I couldn’t help wondering what happened next. Would he learn from that branch in the groin? Could he learn from it? What would he learn from it? Was he capable of understanding it? Who could help him understand? If you look back at Ovid, which would have been where, ultimately, Bernini got the story, then the end result of Apollo’s interaction with Daphne, after he attempts to rape her and she turns into a tree, is that he adopts the tree as his sacred laurel that poets crown themselves with. What does that mean, in context? Is that the closest he can come to making amends, or is it the closest he can come to claiming the tree? It really could be either.

People say there are only three plots, and one of them is supposed to be “man learns lesson”. “God learns lesson” is a much less common variant, but it fascinated me. As I walked round and round the statue, looking at it from every angle until we got thrown out of the museum, I kept thinking about time and consent and Apollo, all of which eventually came to be major themes of the novels. I also kept thinking “He’s always been so nice to me!” which is what people think when they hear about their friends doing bad things to other people.

Apollo’s voice, the voice I use in the books, the voice that says “She turned into a tree. It was a Mystery. It must have been because I didn’t understand it. I hate not understanding a thing!” came to me as I was walking around Bernini’s statue. Clueless about some things, but not unwilling to learn, funny and snarky and immensely powerful and entitled—but prepared to become vulnerable to become better. I’ve always been interested in writing about why good people do bad things. It’s what my Small Change books are directly about.

I didn’t mean to write a book about consent. But once I saw that Plato’s Republic and snarky Apollo could fit together, I saw all the ways it could explore that, the freedom of the children rescued and brought to the city, the robots who nobody guessed were intelligent, the expectations that Plato put on the generations, and the dynamic of sexism that Plato sort of saw beyond. In the first book I set out to bring a lot of this together, and I used my other points of view, Simmea, the girl who really is perfectly fitted for the Republic, and Maia, the woman who escaped from the Victorian era where she couldn’t have a life of the mind and ended up in the Republic with a lot of things she didn’t choose.

But one starting point was a four hundred year old statue, illustrating a two thousand year old poem, and the questions Bernini was using that narrative to explore.

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published a collection of Tor.com pieces, three poetry collections and thirteen novels, including the Hugo and Nebula winning Among Others. Her most recent book is Necessity. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here from time to time. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

necessity-thumbnailJo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published a collection of Tor.com pieces, three poetry collections and thirteen novels, including the Hugo and Nebula winning Among Others. Her most recent book is Necessity. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here from time to time. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

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Posted by Natalie Zutter

Team Thor mockumentary Civil War

What’s an Asgardian to do when he’s not invited to take a side in Tony Stark and Steve Rogers’ little pissing match? Drop in on his average roommate’s office job, make Homeland-esque conspiracy theory boards about Thanos, and tuck Mjolnir in at night, apparently.

Team Thor Captain America Civil War mockumentary Chris Hemsworth Mjolnir baby blanket

Marvel Studios has finally gifted us with Civil War: Team Thor, the amazing mockumentary tracking Thor’s whereabouts during that other Civil War movie. All of the San Diego Comic-Con writeups didn’t do justice to how absolutely adorable this little gem is. After watching three and a half minutes, all we can say is that Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok needs to get here as soon as possible.

And even though it’s the apocalypse, Ragnarok should hew closer to Team Thor than Thor: The Dark World. Chris Hemsworth is positively delightful with his theories about Thanos (“doesn’t like standing up”) and sketches of giant Mjolnir wielding a tiny Thor (definitely breaking the fourth wall there). But he’s also bummed that he got left out while Bruce “why am I always wearing cutoffs?” Banner had Tony Stark blowing up his phone.

Team Thor Mjolnir sketch

Thor: Ragnarok comes to theaters November 3, 2017—plenty of time for Mjolnir to rest up.

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Posted by Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga Lois McMaster Bujold Falling Free Ellen Cheeseman-Myer

This week, the reread jumps roughly 15 years from Barrayar to The Warrior’s Apprentice. First published in 1986, this is the first book in the series to feature Miles Vorkosigan, the fourth in reading order, and the second in publication order. At the time of publication, the only other book in the series was Shards of Honor, published two months earlier. I’m retroactively jealous of 1986 for getting two Vorkosigan books as beach reads, though I think that going straight from Shards to Miles’s adolescence must have caused readers whiplash.

If you’d like to catch up on previous posts in the reread, the index is here, and a series of blog posts on The Warrior’s Apprentice by Jo Walton can be found by following the Warrior’s Apprentice tag. At this time, the spoiler policy permits discussion of all books EXCEPT Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen. Discussion of any and all revelations from or about that book should be whited out.

The Warrior’s Apprentice was the first of the Vorkosigan Saga books I read. I’m not completely certain of the exact provenance of my first copy, now tragically lost in the sands of having moved across the country twice, but I believe it was a gift from my father, and that’s the story I’m sticking with. I am completely certain of the cover that book had on it. It was this amazing piece by Alan Gutierrez, redolent with the sweet promise of a rollicking adventure:

the_warrior_s_apprentice_by_stardriv-d6eilyp-e1443094796384-1

The right hand side features Miles in the command chair, probably about to say something cutting (“God help us”). From the way Elena Bothari is clutching him, I deduce that the muscular person in the tank top is Baz Jesek. This is completely inaccurate. Elena Bothari is a young woman in unique and complicated circumstances, wrestling with the truth about her home planet, her parents, and herself. She would never stand on the bridge of a ship and clutch Baz. Other places maybe, but not the bridge. I regret Elena’s exploitation.

Baz clashes with his date, but the intersection between the downwards V that reveals his abs and the upward V that reveals hers is an eye-catching apology for the color of his shirt. Ms. Bothari has chosen a stunning pink evening gown for this occasion. I applaud Elena’s use of the thigh slit to accentuate the length and shapeliness of her leg, while her gaze accentuates the emergency that is taking place in the left half of the image, under the back cover copy. It has some guy characters, there is a girl character, there’s going to be space-fighting—there are many reasons to pick up this book, and these are a necessary and sufficient subset of them. In the art collection of my dreams, this hangs right next to the Boris Vallejo painting of Spock’s shirtless psychic son riding a unicorn through the Guardian of Forever.

This is a hard act to follow, and many have struggled. The Fictionwise ebook cover below seems to draw its inspiration from an imagined nexus of Tron and The Sound of Music, with a sort of hopeful suggestion of space provided by Saturn’s rings in the background.

WarriorsApprentice01

Miles’s hair has turned blonde here, I assume because that’s what was readily available in clip art.

A character gazing upward against a vaguely space-ish backdrop is a great way to imply a science fictional story without saying anything at all. So is the logo of a prominent SF publisher on the cover—the illustration isn’t really adding anything. If you omitted the title, this could just as easily be the cover of almost any SF novel with a white male protagonist.

WarriorsApprentice02

I feel compelled to point out the awkward intersection of Miles’s ear with the forehead of the guy with the mustache, who could be either Bothari or Tung. Miles looks kind of like a Back to the Future era Michael J. Fox.

And below, he looks like Luke Skywalker. When does this even happen? Nothing like this is in the book.

WarriorsApprentice03

Both are better than this option, which sticks entirely with space ships that, through their shape and color, evoke feces and phalluses:

WarriorsApprentice05a

Who is the warrior? Who is the apprentice? Who cares! I appreciate a good space fight, but the lack of character development here is dismaying.

Usually, we run inside the hamster wheel. I can’t tell who’s running or what the circle represents. I have been enjoying the Zen-like abstract minimalism of many of these Amazon e-book covers. Not this one.

WarriorsApprentice04

The NESFA Press cover brings the characters back into the equation. The characters’ facial features here are oddly unemotional and flat. I’m not sure whether the man on the left, looking disinterested while holding a fuel line for no apparent reason, is Bothari or Baz. The man on the right could be General Tung. The faint orange tinge makes his uniform and beret read more as “aging jockey” than “mercenary commander.” Miles looks unusually effeminate for a character who is described as having a five o’clock shadow. I know that’s space armor, but that doesn’t keep me from thinking that Miles is climbing out of the carcass of a giant earthworm.

WarriorsApprentice06

I like Alan Gutierrez’s work on this cover too much to give anyone else the time of day.

 


SUMMARY

Chapter one of The Warrior’s Apprentice begins with Miles’s fondest ambition. He wants to go to the Imperial Military Academy, to learn space-fighting. He’s completed the paper-and-pencil tests already—today is physical fitness. He offers a brief explanation of his medical history for his running partner, helpfully explaining that his lifetime of treatment is “why I can walk around today, instead of being carried in a bucket.” He has petitioned to have his scores averaged, instead of taken separately, to make up for his likely dismal performance on the obstacle course. Miles’s dream dies when he breaks his legs at the first obstacle, a five-meter wall with spikes on top. He returns home to break the bad news to his grandfather.

COMMENTARY

I could make an argument for the persistence of traditional infantry in the Barrayaran military, but I won’t, because Bujold doesn’t. The education Miles is seeking here is “training in the tactics of energy weapons, wormhole exits, and planetary defense”—it’s space stuff. We’ve seen a few space commanders in the series history. Aral Vorkosigan was stunned by his mutinous crew while attempting to apprehend a Betan Survey party and had to hike across 200 km of wilderness to take back his command from the mutineers. But Admiral Kanzian was “overweight and undertall,” and Jolly Nolly had colitis. The physical fitness requirements seem flexible.

The admissions requirements for the Barrayar’s elite space-fighting school include climbing a 5-meter wall, crawling under laser fire, and running both a short (5km) and a long (100 km) distance.

For this week’s blog post, I’ve invented a game I call “Do you get a lot of call for that in space-fighting?”

Round 1—climbing a 5 meter wall with spikes on top—NO

Round 2—jumping off a 5 meter wall—NO. Dude, you got to the place with the wall in a spaceship, have it put you down on your preferred side of the wall.

Round 3—crawling under laser fire—MAYBE, sometimes. I mean, it seems like a thing that could happen. I think crawling under the laser fire would probably not be the best way to handle it in most circumstances, but I imagine that sometimes you need at least one guy to do that for some reason, like to disarm the weapons system. It sounds pretty far-fetched to me, but I’ll let it pass.

Round 4—running 5K—YES—Starbuck was always jogging on Battlestar Galactica. Cardio.

Round 5—running 100 kilometers up and down a mountain—UNDER WHAT IMAGINABLE CIRCUMSTANCES? OK, Yeah, Miles’s dad took that hike that one time. But he didn’t run, he walked. And he had some pretty amazing drugs to help him get there. Veterans of this re-read will recall that Aral was a) febrile and b) higher than a kite for most of the trek. But a simpler solution would be not to send your commander on away missions, particularly if there’s a chance of combat—this is basically why Riker led all the away missions on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The drugs are not available to cadets, who aren’t even allowed to use assistive devices like leg braces.

TOTAL SCORE: 1.5/5 known physical fitness test components have any chance of being at all relevant to space-fighting, and only because the judges are feeling generous.

What do we know about space-fighting? A lot of it gets done in servo-assisted space armor, which means that it would LITERALLY be possible for Miles to be an effective space-fighter if he WERE “carried in a bucket.” Anne McCaffrey wrote characters who did that, more or less, in her Brainship series. Barrayar is applying traditional infantry standards to aspiring space-fighting commanders. Why? We talked about this last week—Barrayaran culture privileges strength. There are a limited number of seats in space-fighting school. So when Barrayar decides how to apportion that limited resource, rather than looking for the individuals who truly have the greatest potential as space-fighting commanders, it looks for the ones who most easily conform to its cultural norms. And its cultural norms are a relic of a time when space-fighting was pretty far outside the scope of Barrayaran imagination. Which is also why Miles’s running partner, Cadet Kostolitz, can complain that Miles’s short stature and brittle bones are an inconvenience. Not to Miles, to Kostolitz. Poor guy won’t be able to pace himself like he would if he had an able-bodied partner. Just having Miles on the course is unfair to him. In the future, we’ll be able to print text files onto durable materials so that it will actually be possible to strangle people with copies of Peggy MacIntosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”

In case you missed the point about Barrayar taking its own sweet time to evolve out of its masochistic embrace of strength as an individual virtue (to the extent that it undermines Barrayar’s actual collective strength), Miles has a chat with Bothari about his daughter. Bothari means her to have everything right and proper, no matter how out-of-date that is. He’s like Barrayar made flesh.

Miles’s parents love him, which is why they’re letting him tell his grandfather about his failure himself. They’ve had to lie to him all morning—or rather, they’ve had to send Elena Bothari to do it. That poor, sweet child.

Next week—Miles breaks the bad news.

Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer teaches history and reads a lot.

(no subject)

Aug. 29th, 2016 07:55 am
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[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[livejournal.com profile] jedilora linked to a fundraiser for Virginia, an artist and storyteller active in the SCA and local Pagan circles, who has been in and out of the hospital for the last week and sick for the month before. Being self-employed, she has no health insurance, and needs to raise cash for her medical bills. You can read more and help out here.

[personal profile] justice_turtle is currently living homeless and, while they have just landed a full-time job, won't be paid until mid-September. They need funds for housing application fees and security deposit, plus extra for bills, gas, and laundry. You can read more here, including where you can paypal money to help out.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is still struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and hasn't been cleared to return to work, thus can't earn money to cover basic living costs, let alone the bills they've received. You can read more and help out here.

[livejournal.com profile] editrx has been struggling to keep her indy bookstore afloat for this past year, and on top of her troubles there, she's now been the subject of a violent assault by her housemate. She's dealing with mounting medical bills and trauma from the assault and needs a lawyer to ensure her attacker is charged properly and convicted. You can read more and give here, or support Starcat Books by purchasing here.

Support Small Business:

[tumblr.com profile] discursivetacenda wanted to get the word out about her Etsy site, where she sells handmade glass and metaphysical crystal jewelery. You can check out the shop here; she's got some really nice pieces up and also does custom orders.

Housing:

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And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form or via email at copperbadge at gmail dot com. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
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Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the first half of the sixth chapter of A Wizard Abroad, Nita visits Dublin and meets a ton of wizards. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

I HAVE MUCH TO TALK ABOUT. LET’S DO IT.

Trains

I love trains. I love them so much. And I live in a country where we have largely de-prioritized train travel, which is astounding to me because have you seen how big my country is. So coming to the UK and Europe is an endless treat for me because it’s just part of the infrastructure. It’s not just a part of the politics but the social culture of many places in across the Atlantic. We have such a huge hang-up here about public transportation in places that aren’t New York, Chicago, San Francisco, etc. There’s a great Maria Bamford bit about how if you live in Los Angeles and tell someone you’re on the bus, they suddenly get concerned and ask if you’re okay. Being on a bus or train means there’s an emergency or that you’ve hit rock bottom. WHICH IS ABSURD.

Anyway, it was on my mind while reading about Nita and Annie on the DART train.

Dublin

My time in this city was unfortunately short, but it was a cool experience to read this half of the chapter and recognize so much of what Duane wrote about. My tour was partially by car (I was staying with my friend’s mother, who lived near the southeastern tip of Phoenix Park) once I got to Dublin and had a lovely breakfast of granola and a cheese plate. (IRISH CHEESE, HELP ME.) We drove around Phoenix Park, which was impossibly large AND I WANT TO LIVE IN IT, specifically Astown Castle. Why don’t I have my own castle yet? I remember we swung down the south side of it, past the War Memorial Gardens, then drove by the Guinness Storehouse. We parked downtown prior to my lunch with Diane Duane and did some sightseeing, and I COULD NOT GET OVER HOW COOL DOWNTOWN DUBLIN WAS. It’s one of those places that times felt familiar to me, but all the little details I caught – many which Nita notices as well – helped me feel like I was in a special place.

We went to Saint Patrick’s Park and St. Patrick’s Cathedral; I got to see Grafton Street and Trinity College; I saw all of the National Museum of Ireland (the history and archaeology buildings!), and then spent time in St. Stephen’s Green, which was stunning that day. The weather was perfect; low 80s, so it was warm, but not too hot. I feel like I saw the Iveagh Gardens, but I’m not sure. Basically, from like nine in the morning until my event that night (THE WILDEST EVENT EVER, I WILL NEVER FORGET IT), I was sightseeing around Dublin. Hell, I even had really good sushi after my reading/meet-up up near Parnell Square. That part of town was gorgeous, too. And now I remember that it absolutely poured that day, too, and my friend and I had to take refuge inside The Gresham to stay dry.

Oh my god, I want to go back to Dublin (and that killer pizza restaurant) as soon as possible. I WANT TO SEE SO MUCH MORE.

A Wizardly Intervention

Yeah, so I haven’t spoken much about the text itself, but there was so much that this chapter dredged up in my memory. I wanted to share it with you! But this chapter also serves to demonstrate that at least two of the Treasures are most likely unusable for any future recreations of the battle of Moytura. I wouldn’t begin to know how to make those objects “remember” the power they once held, so I’m guessing this is Duane’s way of communicating to us that the wizards are going to have to get creative.

It was a lot of fun getting an insight into Annie’s life as a wizard, from knowing that she split from her original wizarding partner, to finding out you could hide yourself in the manual, to the incredible meet-up in the Dublin pub. I really hadn’t considered that Nita had never been around a large group of wizards before. While the meeting here is just getting started (I suspect the bulk of the remaining part of the chapter will deal with them), I was fascinated by the entire affair. Spells to scramble overheard conversations! Spells to make non-wizard patrons go somewhere else! WHAT ELSE HAVE THEY THOUGHT OF??? Oh my god, there’s a Planetary Wizard for all of Earth. WHO IS THAT. CAN WE BE FRIENDS.

Beyond this, the scope of this conflict got a whole lot bigger due to this chapter, too. The sideways flashes are happening all over the island, and there are ripples felt IN OTHER COUNTRIES. China. Peru! How? (And what are their wizards like??? I want to know!) I also want to know who assigned Nita to Dublin. And why her? The biggest question I have, though, is: How are they going to recreate Moytura without all the Treasures?

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards.
– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches have been announced here.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

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Posted by J. Kenji López-Alt

Fast and Easy Pasta With Blistered Cherry Tomato Sauce
Cherry tomatoes are almost always sweeter, riper, and higher in pectin than larger tomatoes at the supermarket. All of these factors mean that cherry tomatoes are fantastic for making a rich, thick, flavorful sauce. Even better: It takes only four ingredients and about 10 minutes, start to finish—less time than it takes to cook the pasta you're gonna serve it with. Get Recipe!
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I’m pretty sure I actually did four miles today, but 3.84′s pretty good, I won’t quibble. Also I caught two Goldeens, and saw the most awesome bag ever in the That’s Our Bag store display window. I kinda want to get it; I could keep my charging cords in it, since they’re starting to outgrow the pencil case I bought for them at Old Navy. 

New playlist! I’ve now got a playlist where I start with a .75 mile run every time. Bold is songs I run to, normal font is songs I walk during. 

Fiona Apple - Good Defense
Smash Mouth - Then The Morning ComesTom Lehrer - Werner von BraunWalk the Moon - Anna Sun
Steve Miller Band - Take The Money and RunVan Vuuren Bros - ActivewearWalk The Moon - Shut Up and Dance
Big Boi - Backup Plan * Toren Atkinson - Too High Up HereViva La Vida - Coldplay
The Kinks - Catch Me Now I’m Falling * Tom Lehrer - The Vatican RagThe Killers - Mr Brightside
Bad City - Fight as OneTom Lehrer - National Brotherhood WeekHall & Oates - Rich Girl
Michael Penn - Walter ReedBlood What True - Say Wat It Do

Asterisked songs were edited down for time, so they run only 1 ½ to 2 minutes. 

I actually need to replace Say Wat It Do with a shorter song, it’s too long an interval between running. 

from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2c2M2cl
via IFTTT

Interrupted

Aug. 29th, 2016 06:23 am
supergee: (herd)
[personal profile] supergee
As Dave Barry pointed out, meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot actually masturbate. Here, Charlie Stross notes how inimical they, and other forms of mandatory sociability, can be to what the organization should actually be doing.

Cole slaw as religion

Aug. 29th, 2016 06:05 am
supergee: (cthulhu)
[personal profile] supergee
It is here suggested that one should judge a restaurant burger not by the burger itself but by the little glob of slimed vegetation in a tiny cup next to the burger, the theory being that food and its preparation should be judged holistically, that the care given to the cole slaw, that smallest of adjuncts to the meal, indicates the restaurant’s feeling about the task as a whole. Maybe. My own approach would be to want the place to concentrate its efforts on the essential part of the meal, rather than on a side dish which, for most of us, is purely decorative.

I wonder if there is something about cole slaw that makes it a focus for bizarre food beliefs, as it is closely related to one of the culinary areas about which I am differently sane. A Sturgeonesque 90% of the cole slaw in the world is adulterated with mayonnaise, a repugnant white slime that I am convinced is no true food but a bodily secretion of hideous-looking space aliens. The nasty stuff is becoming more prevalent; we are now told that no cheesesteak is complete without it. If I were really paranoid, I would conclude that the aliens who generate the stuff are doing so for purposes of mind control, and that people considering it the most important part of the meal are falling under its spell.

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