Spontaneity for the Win

Aug. 22nd, 2017 10:43 pm
malkingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] malkingrey
I was going to do grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner tonight, because Himself would be busking over in Berlin until 8PM, and home about 9, and grilled cheese sandwiches can be slapped together quickly.

At 8PM I got a phone call from Himself.

"I'm heading home," he said. "And I've got lobster."

It's like this: One of the regular booths at the Berlin Farmers Market sells fresh lobster. And lobster is going for less per pound right now than steak, because Maine is having a lobster glut. And Himself had enough cash in his pocket for a pair of 1.5-pound hen lobsters.

So I dug out the lobster-cooking pot that Himself brought up from his ancestral home in Bedford, NY, when he and his siblings broke up the house there after their mom died, and I looked up a recipe for lemon-garlic-cilantro butter, and when Himself got home we had lobster for dinner.

Fig and Ibid

Aug. 22nd, 2017 02:40 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Are surrounded by cats used to other cats and thus not necessarily alarmed to see new ones. Ibid is content to sniff noses with the bolder of his new housemates, whereas I think Fig is affronted by their lack of timidity.

I still have not seen the orange kitten I was warned could be an issue. It's afraid of people but likes to tussle with older cats. I expect Ibid will like this and Fig will not.

If you go down to the woods today...

Aug. 22nd, 2017 06:38 pm
oursin: image of hedgehogs having sex (bonking hedgehogs)
[personal profile] oursin

Spotted this the other day and then forgot to mention it:

Sex Festival in Tunbridge Wells.

Actually, not in Tunbridge Wells, which evokes images of orgiastic goings on in the Pantiles amidst a crowd of the local denizens being Disgusted.

In fact, in a wood nearby.

'People living in the area have expressed concern over noise, parking and decency': which is almost in the fine tradition of the inhabitants of Hampstead not minding so much about the actual cruising taking place at the famed gay cruising grounds of the Heath, but that they were leaving litter.

A local farmer reported 'Locals that hadn't bought tickets posed the biggest problem for event organisers, with hundreds of people trying to get in on the action'.

A man was found dead and a woman unconscious at the campsite this morning: while all the reports namecheck the festival, it sounds as if it was over by then. The report in the Telegraph suggests that it is possible that fumes from a barbecue were to blame, and the death is so far described as unexplained. But obviously, all reports are going to mention the kinky sex party.

calendars and Ninefox Gambit

Aug. 22nd, 2017 01:29 pm
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
[personal profile] asakiyume
Something you notice very quickly when you start reading Ninefox Gambit is the importance of the calendar. It’s the foundation stone of empire: things that subvert empire cause “calendrical rot,” and, conversely, things that cause calendrical rot are subversion, or, as the story terms it, heresy—like rebellion but even more rebellious.

This focus on calendars is a stroke of genius. Calendars **are** powerful mechanisms of cultural control. Think about how the international standard calendar for business and commerce is the Gregorian calendar, which ties its start date to Christianity. (People do use other calendars in various places and for various purposes, but the Gregorian calendar dominates for international exchange.) Less so now than in the past, but Sunday is designated a no-work day in accordance with that tradition. And think how the rest day figures for other calendars, too—the Jewish calendar or the Islamic calendar. If you don’t know the proper rest day, you can be in trouble—and this is even if you’re an outsider: things stop. And if you don’t stop—depending on the degree of observance—you might be punished. And if the community gradually moves away from this, it can be perceived by the more-faithful as cultural weakening. Calendrical rot is threatening!

The traditional Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar that has complicated, intersecting base 10 and base 12 recurring features and indicates certain days as auspicious or inauspicious for various activities. When you combine it with geomantic principles (powers or traits related to compass directions—feng shui), which happens naturally, as feng shui is tied to the solstices and equinoxes, which are calendrical as well as astronomical occurrences, boom, that’s a whole lot of Chinese folk culture you’ve got—and, like the Chinese writing system, it spread to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

In Japan (and probably in other East Asian countries, but Japan’s the one I know about), magical powers were attributed to people who could advise on and manipulate the calendar—something that required some good math skills, what with those mixed number bases and various repeating units. If you’ve ever seen the film Onmyōji, you’ve seen the story of one famous example of such a person, Abe no Seimei. In Ninefox Gambit, this magic translates to the “exotic effects” that can be generated in war, relying on the calendar. These same effects don’t work if the calendar is subverted—beware calendrical rot!

There’s one notable instance in Ninefox Gambit in which the protagonist manipulates the heretics’ calendar to gain a tactical advantage—Buuuuuut I can’t spoil it.

This isn’t a review of the book—I have one of those at Goodreads, covering some of the same territory, but in less detail—it’s more of an appreciation of this one aspect of the book. It’s me saying “I SEE WHAT YOU DID HERE, YOON HA LEE! VERY CLEVER!”

please tell me your second name

Aug. 22nd, 2017 05:46 pm
ashlyme: (Default)
[personal profile] ashlyme
I went back to Catney yesterday. I was making myself tea when my dad asked me "So who were those two women then?" I stared at him until I knew he was actually talking to me. Here's the mystery I posed Facebook by way of "explanation":

Apparently two young American (possibly, my parents weren't sure) women wearing "badges" turned up at my folks' house last week, asking for me by the name of Mattie. Now, from the vague description I got, they're nobody I know, and not everyone knows me by that name, and I wouldn't give out my parents' address. So - who the hell were they?

For what it's worth, I don't feel like there's anything "unpleasant" there, but it perplexes and weirds me out. There was a voicemail Thursday from a number I didn't know: just two seconds of garbled sound.

Facebook thinks it's Mormons, though I've done my level best to avoid them. (Two of them - on bicycles - once tried to hail me when I was crossing a road. I don't know if it was their national Kill An Atheist Day or something.) How the fuck they got my name I don't know. But I think it's one of those unsolved things that won't affect me beyond a brief sense of unsettlement.

RIP Brian Aldiss, whose novels and short stories I was very fond of in my days of reading SF. By way of remembrance I dipped into his "best fantasy stories" collection A Romance of The Equator. I found a second-hand copy of K. J. Bishop's Decadent/New Weird novel The Etched City. (A pity she never followed it up.) I was mostly reading Mark Cocker's excellent Crow Country though it focuses mostly on rooks; I have memories of a small rookery beyond the canal. It's interesting how viewpoints can differ: he describes the calls of jackdaws as sounding like the note of flint on flint; to me they've always sounded like chuckles, a metallic but not harsh sound. Like silver. perhaps. Though I didn't see it, there was a fox calling out in the field some time after 1 am, a half-swallowed cough.

The ivy has come into flower now; in a few weeks the leek-green globes will draw in wasps. Hopefully it will bring out the Holly Blue butterfly as well, which would be welcome - there's been precious little unclouded sky lately and I'd like to see that colour somewhere.
 



beauty

Aug. 22nd, 2017 08:24 am
sartorias: (white rose)
[personal profile] sartorias
I have been using up my birthday treasures so fast that I've changed my strategy. Yesterday's eclipse was so lovely not just in itself but the relief from the news, that when I woke up to the prospect of the orange horror playing video games with people's lives in Afghanistan I made a conscious decision to look for moments of beauty every day--moments of other human beings making art.

I found this wonderful dancer with a hoop--and this young man doing same..

(no subject)

Aug. 22nd, 2017 09:13 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] elisem!
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
I looked at the calendar, Ray.

The HFA's all-night half-marathon this year is vampires. Of that lineup, I have seen only the Hammer Dracula (1958), but some of the rest—Near Dark (1987), The Hunger (1983), Dracula's Daughter (1936)—I've had designs on for years. This should be great. People are going to be so nervous, stepping out into the ash-making sunlight at the end of that long, bloody night.

I see also from the October and November calendars that the archive appears to be embarking on a William Wellman retrospective. The trick here will not be living in the theater for most of the fall. I've seen a number of the titles announced so far, but hardly any of them on a big screen—they're pre-Code, they turn up on TCM. I know I want to see Night Nurse (1931), Heroes for Sale (1933), and Wild Boys of the Road (1933) because they are three of my favorite pre-Code movies, period. Maybe Other Men's Women (1931) just because I like Grant Withers and all five minutes of James Cagney in it so much. Safe in Hell (1931) is one of those titles you can't turn down. I've been seeing stills of cross-dressed Louise Brooks in Beggars of Life (1928) for years. For some reason I always forget he directed Nothing Sacred (1937) and think of it as an unusually cynical Frank Capra.

I'd ask why I have a real job except I worry it would trigger irony, so I'll just wish I had a real job with more time to write about movies.

Budget also couldn't hurt.

Totality!

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:10 pm
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I'm in Tennessee at the moment. Two friends and I sat out and viewed the entirety of the solar eclipse. The totality was so beautiful; so awesome in the original sense of the word.

It took us about four hours to return when it had taken us maybe an hour to get to our viewing spot, but we had plenty of snacks and the new Kesha album to keep us happy. We ate peach pie for dinner, because we are grownups.

Happy Eclipse Day!

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:35 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

We didn’t make it down to see totality, but my part of Michigan got about 80% eclipse coverage today, which was still pretty sweet. My son and I went to a library presentation this morning, where I was reminded about pinhole viewing, which led to this:

Pinhole Eclipse Projection

I’d ordered a solar filter for the 100-400mm lens on the camera. We also had some eclipse glasses from Amazon from a few weeks back.

I took a little over a hundred pictures, and was able to stitch some of the best into an animation.

Solar Eclipse Animation

Those black spots are sunspots. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out!

I also stitched together a static time-lapse, and added back a bit of color the filter stripped out. (Click to enlarge this one for a much better view.)

Eclipse - Time Lapse

Didn’t get much else done today, but I’m okay with that. And maybe for the 2024, we’ll be able to make it down to see the total eclipse!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I am a dancer in the New York City Ballet. I wrote the pages that follow during one ballet season. I began on November 21, 1980, and finished on February 15, 1981. I was lonely; I was sad. I had decided to be alone, but I had never decided to be lonely. I started writing on a yellow pad. I wrote, and I smoked. Every page was covered with a film of smoke.

If you like that, you will like this book. It's one of those slim but pithy volumes that precisely captures a time, a place, and a state of mind.

I've always had a fascination with ballet, ever since my second-grade teacher offered a trip to see the Nutcracker Suite (it was at least ten years before I realized that the second word was not "sweet") to her top three students. I had no idea what that was, other than that it was clearly desirable, so I went all-out to make sure that I'd get the prize. I was sufficiently enchanted with The Nutcracker and the general air of specialness surrounding the entire experience that I begged my parents for ballet lessons, at which I lasted something like three sessions. I don't recall the exact problem, but based on my age I'm guessing that there was too much standing around.

After that I confined myself to reading ballet books, which was more fun that actually doing it. Had I tried when I was older, I might have stuck with it for longer. Based on Bentley book and everything else I've read about ballet dancing, it has an austere, stoic, boot camp, push your limits atmosphere that would have really appealed to me if I'd been three to five years older. And then I would have gotten my heart broken, because I am not built to be a ballerina.

Winter Season beautifully depicts the illusion shown to the audience and the reality experienced by the dancers, and how the dancers live the illusion as well. It's got all the fascinating details of any good backstage memoir, without bitterness or cynicism. Even as it ground down her body, Bentley never stopped loving ballet; she seems to feel that she was lucky to have the chance to live the dream, just for the opportunity to spend a few minutes every day being the perfect expression of her body and the choreographer's art.

Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal, with a new preface

And I will place the next bit under a cut in case you just want to read about Winter Season. As opposed to ass. Read more... )

Flat, and flat, for evermore

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:29 pm
oursin: George Beresford photograph of Marie of Roumania, overwritten 'And I AM Marie of Roumania' (Marie of Roumania)
[personal profile] oursin

Actually it was yesterday, rather than today, that I spotted this work recently made available through the good offices of Project Gutenberg:

William Carpenter, One Hundred Proofs that the Earth is Not a Globe (1885) -

- and I can't see that he entirely manages to give a plausible explanation for eclipses, but then he does think that the sun is a lot smaller than those there astronomers declare, and goes round the earth...

We do feel that Alfred Russel Wallace would have been better employed than debating with members of the Zetetic Society.

One is - a little - intrigued at what was published in Flat Earth journals (o, say, do, that it was Flat Earth hymns such as feature in Kipling's The Village That Voted the Earth Was Flat...)

But I was fascinated by this, in that Wikipedia article on Flat Earth Societies:

In 1969, Shenton persuaded Ellis Hillman, a Polytechnic of East London lecturer, to become president of the Flat Earth Society; but there is little evidence of any activity on his part until after Shenton's death, when he added most of Shenton's library to the archives of the Science Fiction Foundation he helped to establish.
The lengths to which librarians will go to add some particularly rare and choice material to their collection.

dappled half-moon suns

Aug. 21st, 2017 02:18 pm
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
[personal profile] asakiyume
We let the leaves be our pinhole camera and saw these suns at the half-moon stage.

half-moon suns

ETA... there are many, many beautiful photos out there of scything crescent suns dappling the ground--go take a look. Love this eclipse so much. Good job, sun. Good job, moon. Good job, eclipse enthusiasts ♥

Eclipse first, the rest nowhere

Aug. 21st, 2017 02:18 pm
sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
[personal profile] sovay
The cloud cover comes and goes and we may not be able to see any of the broken rings of leaf-light that I remember so fondly from the annular eclipse of 1994, but through the (carefully purchased from the NASA-recommended manufacturer) glasses I can see that a shadow has already bitten the sun. I am off to see how much more it devours before we drive it away into the swinging dance of planetary bodies again. I am wearing my Miskatonic University T-shirt. It seems appropriate to this brush with the cosmos.

[edit] No leaf-rings, but I saw the crescent sun: through eclipse glasses it looked like a hunter's moon. I didn't expect much effect on the afternoon so far out of the path of totality, but it was strange light to walk around in, slightly thickened, slightly smoked, the wrong angle and the wrong color for plain overcast or sunset. [personal profile] spatch said it was like someone had dropped a filter over the sun and of course someone had: the moon. We walked to the library and back and intermittently looked up at the sky until the crescent began to widen again and then the real overcast thoughtfully rolled in.

Eclipse

Aug. 21st, 2017 11:01 am
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
The spouse and I watched the eclipse on tv (showing a town on the Oregon coast). Once they had totality, which was very cool, we went outside with our pinhole and paper; here it was seventy-something percent, and of course it happened a few minutes after the Oregon coast one because of the way California coast curves in.

We watched the crescent, came back in, and people on TV in Oregon were watching the sun shadow retreat. I came up to get back to work, reflecting that it was so very nice to pass through the kitchen and tv area and not be hearing the words "terrorists" "Nazis" "Republicans" or "Trump." So very nice.
larryhammer: stylized figures of a man and a woman on either side of a shopping cart carrying a heart (shopping cart of love)
[personal profile] larryhammer
A Poetry Monday without comment:


Meeting Point, Louis MacNeice

Time was away and somewhere else,
There were two glasses and two chairs
And two people with the one pulse
(Somebody stopped the moving stairs):
Time was away and somewhere else.

And they were neither up nor down;
The stream’s music did not stop
Flowing through heather, limpid brown,
Although they sat in a coffee shop
And they were neither up nor down.

The bell was silent in the air
Holding its inverted poise—
Between the clang and clang a flower,
A brazen calyx of no noise:
The bell was silent in the air.

The camels crossed the miles of sand
That stretched around the cups and plates;
The desert was their own, they planned
To portion out the stars and dates:
The camels crossed the miles of sand.

Time was away and somewhere else.
The waiter did not come, the clock
Forgot them and the radio waltz
Came out like water from a rock:
Time was away and somewhere else.

Her fingers flicked away the ash
That bloomed again in tropic trees:
Not caring if the markets crash
When they had forests such as these,
Her fingers flicked away the ash.

God or whatever means the Good
Be praised that time can stop like this,
That what the heart has understood
Can verify in the body’s peace
God or whatever means the Good.

Time was away and she was here
And life no longer what it was,
The bell was silent in the air
And all the room one glow because
Time was away and she was here.


---L.

Subject quote from "Snow-Bound," William Greenleaf Whittier.

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