to the dentist I went!

Jul. 28th, 2017 05:28 pm[personal profile] mizkit
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So I’ve had this vague awareness of a sensitive place in one of my teeth for a while, and in the past week it’s gotten quite sharp when something cold encounters it, so, grimly irritated about the prospect of a cavity (not so much the dentist; I don’t mind dentists, but I only have 2 cavities and that’s from drinking too much soda 25 years ago and I’m still pissed off about it), I called a local dentist and made an appointment. The sharpness of the pain seemed to fade a bit in the past couple days, but having made the appointment, off I went.

I have no cavities!

In fact, the dentist was basically like “okay so we’ll do x-rays because I can’t see any obvious holes,” did the x-rays, “er, so, no, there’s really no cavities here, your teeth are in *great* condition.” (and for an Irish person to say ‘great’ instead of ‘grand’ is like an American going for ‘superlative’ instead of ‘great’)

She quizzed me on whether I grind or clench my teeth (not to the best of my knowledge), and whether I was in consistent pain (I’m really not), and put something HORRIBLY COLD on my teeth to see if it hurt and it fucking well did. Then she did it again on the top to see if there was a dead tooth that might possibly be referring the pain, but there wasn’t and it still fucking well hurt. That, however, was the only unpleasant part of the whole thing.

I have a little bit of gum…thingy…you know, where it’s been abraded too much and has shrunk (that’s not the right word) so there’s a little bit of nerve exposure, she said, and that’s her best guess for what’s causing the pain. Receded. Slight recession of the gums. Don’t brush your teeth too hard, people! Just brush them gently for a long time! And floss! She admired my flossing habits.

She prescribed Sensodyne toothpaste and mouthwash (blick), and basically said “come back in 3 months, tell us how you’re doing, & we’ll clean your teeth and see if anything looks different.” So. There we are.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Friday roadkill report

Jul. 28th, 2017 11:03 am[personal profile] jhetley
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Defunct porcupine at about mile 4.5. Hadn't been there yesterday when we drove past the spot. What *had* been there was a black furry lump of a size to be either someone's wandering Newfie or a black bear cub.

No new floral stuff. Purple loosestrife is filling in some of the marshy spots, grump grump. Time for the napalm . . .

Got out on the bike, breezy and sticky, did not die.

15.28 miles, 1:16:08

(no subject)

Jul. 28th, 2017 08:06 am[personal profile] jhetley
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And then there's Yemen.

Fog dissipating

Jul. 28th, 2017 07:38 am[personal profile] jhetley
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Air temperature 61 F, dew point 60, calm, predictable result. Sun burning through now, bike ride soon.

(no subject)

Jul. 27th, 2017 08:00 pm[personal profile] jhetley
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Faint rainbow at sunset.
al_zorra: (Default)
      . . . .  The film, A Quiet Passion (2016), is a psychological biography of the poet, Emily Dickinson. 

 

There are many Emilys in this film, as she, like Whitman, contained multitudes. The first one we meet is the schoolgirl Emily, steadfastly refusing to declare religious conversion and a born again, saved, experienceThis Emily is played by Emma Bell, who, then, in a subsequent sequence of family portraits subtly ages and becomes Cynthia Nixon, who performs the star turns of acting as the adult Emily Dickinson. 


Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson and Jennifer Ehle as her sister Vinnie.

I saw the film months ago but the thoughts it provoked about the poet and the times in which she lived, the people among whom she passed her passionate, and often painful life -- exterior and interior -- remain riverlets winding through my ongoing mental preoccupations.


A Quiet Passion is an exquisite film, with the exception of allowing Mabel Todd  Loomis to actually see the poet, which she never did.  But here the meeting is, in a terrible, at the pitch of highest plausible drama, a moment when Austin, Emily’s brother, is discovered by her in – not flagrante, exactly – but in a passionately incriminating intimacy -- in hers and Vinnie's home! This is so many violations simultaneously that the infuriated Emily literally spits out the words (not the first time in this family drama, in which all members can and do give as good as they get, when these terrible moments blaze up between them.  This is not Austin's house, he's betraying Susan, her sister-in-law, whom Emily and the whole family love tenderly, and -- Austin has fallen from the place of  perfection and moral arbiter where Emily and the family had so fondly placed him.


Emily's life is so much about family.  The Dickinsons are tied and bonded as closely in affection and intelligence as a family can be. As we know, not all is smooth all the time. The fallings out are passionate and the barbs thrown are cruel and to the exact bulls eye, just because they do know and love each other so well, and are such equals in passion and self-knowledge.  Yet, except for Austin's Grand Treachery, whenever the members fall out, once the poison has erupted, they are horrified, not with the person toward whom the violence was directed, but at themselves.  They are horrified by themselves, and see where they are unfair, and wrong, and always apologize sincerely, at once, and are ashamed.  The apologies are always accepted.


These days I miss that old puritan tradition of constant examination of soul, the authentic desire to be honest with God, to care at least as carefully for the soul as the bank account, and that death and the after life are always in mind. Abigail Adams was fully possessed by this, but like Emily, it never interfered with her sharpness of intelligence and commentary.


In this film the trajectory of the poet's mind is beautifully evoked over time. Death takes one to God, who is the beloved passionate anonymous Byronic lover eagerly awaited, but whom never quite enters the bedroom, the father, the Brontëan brother, like life, death, infinity and heaven, merging one into another. The Brontës' novels, Wuthering Heights particularly, and Jane Eyre, with whose narrator, Emily closely identifies, painfully convinced that she, like Jane, is unblessed by the beauty and charms that attract men's love, while passionately desiring it -- and equally, believing that love is death for a woman -- are deliriously invoked with delighted consciousness of committing female transgression at every turn in these women's earlier lives.

 

Vryling, Emily, Vinnie, happily making fun of men who take themselves so seriously while knowing nothing.

Some have evaluated the dialog in the earlier parts of the film as too much admiration for Jane Austen – which writer, importantly, unlike the Brontës and George Eliot --  Dickinson did not like. or admire. Thus, intelligently, throughout the film,  admiration of the Brontës is expressed by many of female characters. Perhaps these critics got it wrong -- they are English after all, and there are areas of the trans-Atlantic mind that seem to remain forever veiled to their sight. All these sharp, quick quips and ripostes among Emily, her sister, Vinnie, and their friend, Vryling Buffam, are accompanied by continual happy prolonged laughter. They are happy young women, thoroughly in love with each other’s intelligence, personalities, characters and language brilliance. Their pleasure in each other is so gracefully expressed by the actors (the cast is splendid even beyond the tour de force that Cynthia Nixon achieves), that the viewer participates equally in their pleasure.

 

After Buffam's marriage vows; Emily does not join the other guests outside the church congratulating the newly married couple.

This joy begins to fade with death of friends and relatives, and particularly the marriage of her beloved friend Vryling Buffam's religious conversion, and her subsequent marriage a pastor. Thereafter the friendship, as Emily feared, disappears entirely. It may be Emily deliberately disappeared the friendship, as she was as passionately convinced that marriage had to destroy the only kind of friendship that she could sustain, that of passionate intimacy. Now too disappears the laughter, as her partner in transgressive wit enters the grave of wife and motherhood.  Her terrible loneliness begins to manifest, chosen as deliberately out of anger with the world she's been given, her place in it as a woman, as an artist with a soul as large as the universe, physical maladies and pain, and -- a mind that cannot be contained within a single world, much less house and garden, and which possesses an intimate, passionate relationship with God.


I do wish the film had included the witnessed incident of Emily drowning unwanted newborn kittens in a bucket of water. I had to make due with another acclaimed incident of her father, while waiting to be served his dinner, calmly complaining his plate is not quite clean, and she calmly picking up the plate to smash it into pieces against the table. She explains,  “Now it does not matter.”


Most of all though, I wish the film makers had resisted and not manufactured an event between Emily and Mabel Todd Loomis, her brother's adulterous lover, and the woman who took over Emily after her death and created out of whole cloth the phony mythology of the eternal Maid of Amherst, and herself as the only intimate of the poet.  Loomis never saw Emily in the flesh, never exchanged a word with her, and never got a glimpse of her poems.  She stole them from Emily's sister, Vinnie, then went on tour 'acting' Emily, and reading her poems, which bowdlerized to fit better with her phony Emily.  Which is a 19th century tale in itself!


Nevertheless, in terms of Emily herself, and her family, these decades of the 19th century from the 1830's to post the War of the Rebellion, the picture of the finest and most progressive and liberal minds of New England, and thus of our nation, and just how much passion and imagination fueled such minds -- there's never been a film like this.  It is joy to watch from the first scene, to the last.


Though all the actors are superb, in the end, such a film succeeds or fails according the actor who is Dickinson.  Cynthia Nixon is magnificent.  No one can doubt that the poet would be in heaven to see herself as Nixon has portrayed her.  Poetry is anything but a quiet passion.

 

 

Jurisdictional dispute

Jul. 27th, 2017 01:32 pm[personal profile] jhetley
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Couple of semi-trailers up in the next block collecting crunched bits of house. Also, city crew that wants to repave that sidewalk . . .

(no subject)

Jul. 27th, 2017 11:34 am[personal profile] jhetley
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I wonder what percentage of the people yammering about military personnel matters have ever, at any time, served in any branch of the military.  Not saying that is a prerequisite for having an opinion, just idle curiosity.

(no subject)

Jul. 27th, 2017 11:05 am[personal profile] jhetley
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Rowan berries shading yellow into orange.
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Doctor to Dragons - CoverI met G. Scott Huggins almost twenty years ago. We were both published in Writers of the Future XV, and we ended up in a writing group together for several years. He was one of the folks who helped me grow and improve as an author. I published one of his stories in Heroes in Training a while back.

In April of this year, his humorous fantasy novelette A Doctor to Dragons [Amazon | B&N] came out.

I love the premise and setup. Dr. James DeGrande is a veterinarian in a land that’s been taken over by a Dark Lord, and the whole thing is written with a kind of tongue-in-cheek humor. The book is made up of several distinct but related stories, showing the growth of James and his partnership with his assistant Harriet (a physically disabled almost-witch).

Here’s part of the publisher’s official description:

Everyone says it was better in the Good Old Days. Before the Dark Lord covered the land in His Second Darkness.

As far as I can tell, it wasn’t that much better. Even then, everyone cheered the heroes who rode unicorns into combat against dragons, but no one ever remembered who treated the unicorns’ phosphine burns afterward. Of course, that was when dragons were something to be killed. Today I have to save one. Know what fewmets are? No? Then make a sacrifice of thanks right now to whatever gods you worship, because today I have to figure a way to get them flowing back out of the Dark Lord’s favorite dragon. Yeah, from the other end. And that’s just my most illustrious client. I’ve got orcs and trolls who might eat me and dark elf barons who might sue me if their bloodhawks and chimeras don’t pull through. And that doesn’t even consider the possibility that the old bag with the basilisk might show up.

The only thing that’s gone right this evening is finding Harriet to be my veterinary assistant. She’s almost a witch, which just might save us both. If we don’t get each other killed first.

I appreciate writers who take traditional fantasy and flip things around to present a different perspective. Just as I enjoy clever protagonists, like James and Harriet. (And while this may come as a shock, I also like fantasy that tries to have fun.)

There’s one bit I need to talk about. About 80% of the way into the book, we meet Countess Elspeth Bathetique, an incredibly neglectful pet owner and generally unpleasant person, and we get this exchange:

“Dammit, my lady, you’re not even a vampire!”

“How… how dare you? I identify as a vampire, you filth! You cannot dream of the tragic destiny which is ours!”

“What? Suffering from vitamin deficiency, malnutrition, keeping out of the sun for no damn reason, and torturing your poor pet basilisk? If I dreamed of that, I’d seek clerical help!”

I don’t believe it was intentional, but seeing language generally used by transgender people played for laughs by a wannabe vampire threw me right out of the story. I emailed and chatted with Scott, who confirmed that wasn’t the intention. The Countess was meant to be a darker take on Terry Pratchett’s Doreen Winkings. But he said he understood how I or others might read it the way I did.

One of my favorite parts of these stories are the veterinary details. Huggins’ wife is a veterinarian, and there’s a sense of real truth to the protagonist’s frustration with neglectful pet owners and the various challenges of keeping all these magical animals healthy. It helps to ground the book and acts as a nice counter to the humor.

I couldn’t find an excerpt online, but there’s a promo video on YouTube.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

(no subject)

Jul. 27th, 2017 08:20 am[personal profile] jhetley
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No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.

Lost in the mists

Jul. 27th, 2017 07:43 am[personal profile] jhetley
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Light rain falling, air temperature 62 F, wind south about 5 mph. Bike ride probability low.

mizkit: (Default)

My captain’s keyboard has stopped working. :}

I’m almost positive I know what the problem is. There are about 8 keys that don’t work, and there’s a pin in the PS/2 connector that got bent a while ago. I was able to nudge it back into place, but it got yanked and bent again and although I’ve nudged it back into place again, I think the base of the pin is no longer connecting.

I’m also almost positive this could be fixed by splicing a new PS/2 connector into place.

The PROBLEM is that the OTHER end of the connection is wired directly into the keyboard (of course), and the keyboard, being two unwieldy pieces, is a pain in the ass to bring anywhere. Assuming there’s even somewhere around here that would do this kind of thing.

It’s frustrating knowing I probably know half a dozen people who could do this in 30 minutes, but they all live on the other side of the world. >.<

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

catherineldf: (Default)
So many things! I'm embarking on draft 2 of my current gaming tie-in story -- more info when I can share it -- and now the sink is backed up, in a totally unrelated but tiresome event. At least I got the pesto made before that happened. Oooph.

Last weekend's shenanigans included Diversicon 25, which was...a mix of things. Hanging out with Melissa Scott was lovely and I got to introduce her to a number of my friends, who were all thrilled to meet her. We had lots of good conversations and a couple of fine panels. I also got to see some other friends who I haven't seen for far too long so that was lovely as well. On the less lovely side, a contingent of the Frenkel Fan Club turned up and apparently shared their enthusiasm with the room at large at the memorial panel for John Rezmerski (who definitely did not share their enthusiasm), Michael Levy and a longtime Diversicon fan. I missed the "fun" because I was on a competing panel, which was probably just as well. I also had to "guard" Melissa from some importuning which resulted in sulking. So many eyerolls. Never insist that anyone read your work when they are clearly otherwise engaged and are sending out very clear signals that this is not the time or the place. This is even more annoying when you clearly have the wrong person to begin with and are refusing to acknowledge it. There were some other behavior "issues" as well, and given that and all the recent deaths which I think made it a much lower energy and less pleasant con than some previous years, it was a hard weekend. I hope they can turn it around for next year.


In other news, I have seen Valerian and been mostly unimpressed. Pretty though. And trip planning is moving along. I've added a trip to Blue Lagoon, a Tom of Finland walking tour, a tour of Suomenlinna Fortress and we're discussing a tour of Stockholm and of course, tea. And the Abba Museum. Good times!

(no subject)

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:02 pm[personal profile] jhetley
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Sickle moon setting.
al_zorra: (Default)
      . . . . I may have read more fiction this month of July than in all of 2015 - 2016 and the first half of 2017 put together. 

This means novels that I started and read straight through, completing them to the last page.  I pick up a lot of fiction and give up on the book by the end of the first chapters, as well as many others where I get about half or two thirds through and quit due to do not care, and also, why is this so much longer than it needed to be? 

So July's fiction reading is much more than usual, that’s for sure.  Staying home alone during the brutally hot, polluted and humid 8 days that el V was off to hot and humid Cuba, and feeling physically crummy is probably responsible -- that, and maybe some novels I wanted to read.  


Brookmyre, Christopher. (2016) Black Widow.


Right after finishing this novel, which I'd picked off the shelves without any prior knowledge of either the book or the author, I learned Black Widow was just award the UK's Crime Writers' Association Golden Dagger award for 2016.


Nerd pop culture references all the way through, which gets wearing and doesn't wear well for readers of the future. The investigator of the mystery, and primary narrator is really too old for this stuff, so it was annoying as hell.  But since many of the other  characters were nerds and young and live in that culture I kept page turning / reading, until fairly close to the end I got all too familiar sensation that comes with trying read fiction, which is "Isn't this over yet?????" -- "gads, this is at least 50 pages too long!" --  so skipped to the end to find out who did it and why. Spoiler alerts!   


SPOILER CONTENT HERE


Read more... )


SPOILER CONTENT ENDS


Pop culture / nerd culture, you bet he does GOT too.  Feh.  He and his ending let me down, as endings so often do.


However the following books all have satisfying endings.


Cleeves, Ann (2016) Cold Earth.


The latest of her Jimmy Perez Shetland series.  It was slow-going, particularly in getting going, in an almost exact replication of the first Jimmy Perez - Shetland Islands book I read. In fact, the location is where the first one took place even. This in an on going problem in almost all of her Shetland books. though not in the television adaptations.


One of the many pleasures I receive from reading Cleeves (she's the author of Yorkshire's Vera Stanhope novels too -- the first one of which, The Crow Trap, originally published in 1999, I finally got to read last month!  And it was the very best of the Vera novels I've read so far), is how different the television series are from the books.  Both the Vera and Shetland tv series are among my big watching pleasures.  These provide good lessons in how to adapt successfully from print to screen. The first lesson, may well be the most important -- the casting makes all the difference, and when it's perfect, the visual adaptation may well be more compelling than the print, without being in the least faithful to the plots or even who the characters are -- but then television has its own rules, which may not be necessary for the page.  As said, an education in writing.


French, Tana; (2008) The Likeness.

 

I’ve read all of Irish writer French’s novels almost as soon as they were published in the US, except this, her second one.  It was involving, though the pretext, that divine, insulated group of college kids who are interested only in each other is rather more than tired. But so talented a writer as French (rather like the great talent that was Daphne Du Maurier for our age)  did something fresh with it. The problem, though, is is that they really aren’t kids, and don’t even feel in the early 20’s. So how does this undercover female detective protag manage, since, even though older than the 'kids', still her experience seems too deep for her early 30’s, as she says she is, even though she supposedly looks a lot younger.


But hey, it’s hot, I read in the bed, with the a/c cranked until deep into the night.  I turned the pages compulsively. This passed the hours most agreeably until I could relax enough and sleep while el V was in Cuba.


Leon, Donna (2016) The Waters of Eternal Youth: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery. 


Venice is drowning in tourists and their crap, immigrants, the mob and general corruption of everything.  But still, despite everything being online these days, the Commissario and his family continue to read the classics and eat the most wonderful meals at least three times a day.


Rankin, Ian. (2016) Rather Be The Devil.


Rankin's hard drinking, chain smoking, 60's rock and roller, rule breaking, ass kicking, Scott's cynic Rebus is retired from Edinburgh's police force. It's all caught up with him after many books in the Rebus series.  He's not smoking, but coughing disgusting crap with a shadow on his lung, trying to cut back on drinking.  But he’s still dueling with Big Ger, frustrating Siobhan Clarke and everyone who cares for him, but going to the center of what has happened in the past that has bled into the bloody present. Another change in Rebus --  the proverbial lone wolf detector, he's one of three -- and actually cooperating as much as Rebus can cooperate with them. This means the narrative provides additional povs beyond Rebus's in this convoluted case, which is about – what exactly? The disappearance of a banker, who seems to be connected to all sorts of nefarious financial deals, drugs, gambling, homicide – and, well, not Russians, but Ukrainians, laundering money in and through Scotland. But then Rankin's Rebus has never about the case, really, but about the wild ride he takes you on..


In the end, again, Rebus's nemesis, and in these later novels, now at least a frenemy, if not friend, Big Ger Cafferty’s back, old as he is -- as old as Rebus, but he's not over the hill yet, any more than is Rebus. But Rebus has learned to work with others, as much as Rebus can: Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke, and the male officer promoted and moved over her, to international crime, Malcolm Fox. They all get what they want. Further, Rebus still has his girlfriend from the previous book, Deborah Quant, who works post mortems for Edinburgh, has since the last book acquired a dog named Brillo – and he’s lost weight.  Neither Big Ger nor Rebus are anywhere near down for the count yet, and they glory in it -- and that they have both proved they are both still at the top of their intersecting game.


It was good reading for a hot and humid July weekend in NYC.


Today the weather is splendid, a perfect July summer day.  There's enough July left that I may be able to get in yet another novel. Tonight I begin an historical set colonial Manhattan of 1746. I've been looking forward to this one. 


Spufford, Francis (2017) Golden Hill.


 If I am able to finish this one (it's not long) it would make a grand total of six -- 6 -- novels, I read this month!

 

(no subject)

Jul. 26th, 2017 03:47 pm[personal profile] jhetley
jhetley: (Default)
Pay no attention to that con-man behind the curtain!

Forewarned

Jul. 26th, 2017 02:33 pm[personal profile] jhetley

Another waveform collapses

Jul. 26th, 2017 02:16 pm[personal profile] jhetley
jhetley: (Default)

House up at the end of the next block has been crunched into its cellar, but not yet hauled away in shreds. More homeless rats.

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