Reading Wednesday

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:21 pm
brigdh: (Default)
[personal profile] brigdh
The Excursionist by J.D. Sumner. A novel about Jack, a man determined to visit 100 countries before his 35th birthday, all so he can join the Traveler’s Century Club.

Ugh, this book. It’s glaringly self-published, which I do not inherently object to – I'm all for self-publishing! But hire an editor, dude. It’s not typos or grammar mistakes that give it away (the book’s actually remarkably free of those)(which I suppose is damning with faint praise, but I am totally here to damn this book), but a constant stream of contradictions and just... well, odd choices. The one that leapt out to me most strikingly was when the narrator, in describing the Traveler’s Club, sticks the URL right in the middle of the text:
One down and two to go. Now all I had to do was to get to Kilrush and then to Fulgary and I could join the Travelers’ Century Club. See www.travelerscenturyclub.org for further details.

This would maybe even have been not so weird if it had come in the introduction, the first time the reader is told about this goal, or in the endnotes. But no, none of the above. This quote instead comes from the end of chapter ten, when the Traveler’s Club has been mentioned multiple times without needing an URL.

It’s minor, I know, but similar minor annoyances pop up constantly throughout the text. Jack only needs to visit three more countries, so he heads to the (fictional) islands of Placentia, Kilrush and Fulgary. The fact that these are separate countries is the entire point of the book. And yet the flights between them are repeatedly described as "domestic". In addition, it’s implied Placentia and Fulgaryy are still considered UK territories. Granted, other people probably aren’t as fascinated by the debate over what “counts” as a country as much as I happen to be (I blame this game, on which I spend way too much of my free time), but when it’s the central premise of your story, it needs at least a little consideration.

I could forgive all of the above if Jack was a character I enjoyed spending time with. Instead he’s a complete and total asshole. He condescends and mistreats service employees, he shallowly judges fellow tourists, he rates all women by their attractiveness and sulks when they don’t want to sleep with him. Every time he interacted with any other living creature I wanted to punch him.
For example, discussing his job as a stockbroker: Getting a job in the City is like getting a girl. The less interest and enthusiasm you show, the better chance you have.
Describing his ex-wife: I was still paying for my ex-wife’s house. She had taken me for a mug, then a Merc, then a million. I did quite well out of the divorce settlement; I kept most of the back garden and some of the roof tiles. I wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t come home to find somebody else’s kippers under the grill. I should have twigged when he helped move her stuff out when she ‘just needed some space’. […] And if I said no to her demands, I would get a call saying my daughter was ill or had been invited to a toddler’s party on the day I was supposed to visit. Her other trick was to pretend I had got the dates or the times wrong. It was easier just to give up. People only change in books or in films, not in real life. I stopped seeing my daughter as regularly when my folks told me she had started to call Graham ‘Daddy’.*
Interacting with a flight attendant: ‘Could I please have one of those bottles of fizzy mineral water?’ I said.
‘I am sorry, sir, we are not allowed to give them out.’ She bent down so close to my face I was worried she was going to kiss me.
‘I don’t want to bother you all the time, asking you for water. Can you leave me the bottle; I don’t want to make a nuisance of myself.’
‘I am afraid we can’t do that, sir.’
‘Why?’ I asked.
‘It’s against regulations. I am sorry, sir.’
‘But your in-flight magazine says quite clearly on page twenty-eight, that passengers should make sure they remain hydrated.’
‘I know, sir. I am sorry but they are the regulations.’
‘I am only asking for a bottle of fizzy water. I have spent thousands of pounds flying Business Class with you. I’m thirsty,’ I said.
‘I am sorry, sir. It’s the rules.’
‘The rules… what airline has rules to prevent passengers from drinking water? Why advertise what a great service you provide, if you won’t give water to a thirsty passenger? What’s the point of pouring an eggcup-sized measure of water if I can jug down full glasses of wine? You do this because, as you know, the less weight you carry the less fuel you need, which means lower fuel costs and better profit.’ And with this, the hostess began to take away my empties.


I could have given you more egregious examples, but I chose these because they all occur before page 35. (And the text of the book doesn’t start until page 8!) Now you too have a sense of the density of Jack’s dickishness.

Though I've got to mention one more: at the end of the book, it’s revealed that Jack’s dead girlfriend who disappeared forever, possibly murdered, cheated on him shortly before her death. When Jack finds out this information, he explicitly decides not to go to the police with it, because, hey, it helped him get over her. Your hero, ladies and gentlemen!
I felt better about not being with her but I also wish I hadn’t wasted so much time thinking about her. I still didn’t know how Kay died but I suspect Naz may have had something to do with it. With forearms like Naz, it wouldn’t have been difficult to squeeze the life out of her. But I didn’t actually know what had happened to her. And for the first time, I wasn’t particularly bothered either. Should I go to the police? And tell them what exactly? I decided, rightly or wrongly, to move on.

Ughhhhh, this book, y’all. This book. I got it for free and that was still too much money.

* The daughter never gets a name, appears on screen, or is even mentioned beyond one more passing notice that she exists. I’m definitely convinced Jack is a worthwhile father.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.
meganbmoore: (hwajung: jeongmyung revealed)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
I've been watching MBC's latest sageuk, The King in Love, which is also the latest in the recent trend of youth fusion romance sageuks, though that little subgenre seems to have run its course.  (Hopefully the fact that Rebel: Thief Who Stole The People is the only sageuk this year that's really considered a success will influence future sageuks, though they seem to be over and done with for the year, unless we count Live Up to Your Name, which is very good, but also a time travel drama set more in the present than in the past.)  For the most part, it's been enjoyable, though I'm a couple weeks behind because it looked like it was headed toward one of several endings that I would have considered dealbreakers for the whole show.  (I haven't watched it yet, but I do know it does have my preferred ending, so I should catch up with it this week.)  The one area where it completely fails, unfortunately, is in one of its central conceits:  presenting a love triangle in which a woman loves  two men, and it's unclear which she loves more.  Discussing possible endings with a friend reminded me of the love triangle in one of JTBC's few sageuk outtings, Maids, which also had a triangle in which a woman is in love with two men, but does it much better.



spoilers for both series )

Hands across the ocean

Sep. 20th, 2017 02:00 pm
rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Thanks to [personal profile] cesy for the heads-up -- Hope not Hate have launched a US site:

Hope Not Hate (Twitter: [twitter.com profile] hopenothate_USA)

By way of making a dramatic entry, this seems to have been timed to co-ordinate with the announcement of their epic undercover project: Patrik Hermansson, an extremely brave young Swedish grad student, infiltrated the alt-right and lived undercover in the movement in London and the US for nearly a year, wired for sound and carrying hidden cameras. This ultimately included being at Charlottesville and witnessing the car attack that killed Heather Heyer.

The documentary is coming soon, and the comprehensive report on the international alt-right (for which the infiltration was part of the research) is here:

The International Alternative Right

News reports:

New York Times: Undercover With the Alt-Right

Raw Story: ‘It’s gonna end with concentration camps’: Alt-right executive boasts of a future Europe with Hitler on their money

As you will have noticed, I love HnH. They have a long history working against fascist and far right groups in the UK, through research, infiltration, legal action, anti-racist/xenophobic education and campaigning, and their work seems to have naturally become international as the "alt-right" has (e.g. with the "Defend Europe" boat). I think their expertise (and the willingness of their reporters to put their necks on the line, holy fuck) will be a formidable addition to the US scene.

Also they will allow you to give them money to help sue Nigel Farage, and honestly I would love them for that alone. PLEASE TAKE MY MONEY, PLEASE.
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
The Guardian: Medieval porpoise 'grave' on Channel island puzzles archaeologists

I love everything about this story:

Archaeologists digging at an island religious retreat have unearthed the remains of a porpoise that, mystifyingly, appears to have been carefully buried in its own medieval grave.

MAYBE THE PORPOISE WAS A MONK, HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THAT.

... and now I eagerly await the medieval monk were-porpoise shifter romance.

For a different kind of wonderful:

The Fader: This Artist Is Filling London With Murals Of Extraordinary Black Women

The art is gorgeous, but what I really love is that he's portraying his female friends, people who aren't famous but are ordinary/extraordinary people - a youth worker, a psychotherapist, and so on. And I love the shots of the murals with the real women posed next to them.

(no subject)

Sep. 19th, 2017 09:56 am
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I just spent several minutes trying to figure out where the hell the mysterious rustling noises were coming from.

One of my cats (Alex) was entirely hidden within the depths of a shoebox-size Priority Mail box. He has just now emerged, and his sister Erin has vanished inside.

No cat photos because I don't have an X-Ray camera.

The Red Star: Deluxe Edition Volume 2

Sep. 18th, 2017 07:37 am
marycatelli: (Golden Hair)
[personal profile] marycatelli posting in [community profile] books
The Red Star: Deluxe Edition Volume 2 by Christian Gossett

The continuing story -- to the end of the published issues. Spoilers ahead for the earlier volume.

Read more... )
dipping_sauce: (Default)
[personal profile] dipping_sauce
Pairing: Bobby Drake | Iceman / Cameron Hodge
Fandom: Marvel 616
Spoilers: None, aside that Bobby being gay is now canon? I am super not caught up on X-Men comics

I ship Iceman and Cameron Hodge. I am the cancer killing fandom. )

The Red Star: Deluxe Edition Volume 1

Sep. 17th, 2017 12:12 am
marycatelli: (Golden Hair)
[personal profile] marycatelli posting in [community profile] books
The Red Star: Deluxe Edition Volume 1 by Christian Gossett

An alternative, magitech-based USSR and a disastrous battle. . .

Read more... )

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

Sep. 16th, 2017 09:33 pm
lightreads: a partial image of a etymology tree for the Indo-European word 'leuk done in white neon on black'; in the lower left is (Default)
[personal profile] lightreads
Heroine Complex

3/5. A cute entry in the flourishing subgenre of reimagined superhero stories, this one featuring the lady sidekick to San Francisco’s lady superhero who is her boss and her childhood best friend, and there are demon cupcakes and bloggers and Asian-American cultural issues and karaoke and lesbians and a lot of fashion.

By “cute” up there I met aggressively cute. Take no prisoners cute. So cute it verges on over-engineered.

This is good if you like this sort of thing, but want more women in your superheroes. I like that sort of thing . . . ish, but wasn’t wholly taken in by this. It has that sprint pacing of a story that is prose but really a comic at heart, and like a lot of comics it has that . . . this is going to offend people, but here goes. It has that comics sort of character work where everyone’s feelings go to 11 at all times over all things and everyone is fundamentally irrational. I find that exhausting, and not particularly interesting, so.
yifu: (sakamoto maaya)
[personal profile] yifu

Light years after everyone else, I installed Spotify on my netbook and phone. The netbook version is easier to browse songs with c/f the Android one. My main purpose is to keep up with popular Western artists that are less talked about than e.g Taylor Swift or One Direction (whose members seem to have gone solo). But since Spotify also has Jpop and Kpop, watch me fall down the same holes, when not bingeing on Ariana Grande and Zedd.

The president inaugurated Indonesia's national library building [news], all 24 floors and three basements of it. I... can't wait to see everything it has to offer.

archersangel: (keep calm)
[personal profile] archersangel posting in [community profile] books

Captain Kidd has gone down in history as America's most ruthless buccaneer, fabulously rich, burying dozens of treasure chests up and down the eastern seaboard. But it turns out that most everyone, even many respected scholars, have the story all wrong. Captain William Kidd was no career cut-throat; he was a tough, successful New York sea captain who was hired to chase pirates. His three-year odyssey aboard the aptly named Adventure galley pitted him against arrogant Royal Navy commanders, jealous East India Company captains, storms, starvation, angry natives, and, above all, flesh-and-blood pirates.

A really interesting book about the pirate turned pirate hunter who wasn't as ruthless or had as much treasure as people thought.

After his time as a pirate in the Caribbean he settled in New York City, married a wealthy widow & became respectable. Through a chance meeting he is commissioned by William III of England to capture pirates in the Indian Ocean. Run-ins with the English Navy, his crew not being paid because they can't find any pirates & crossing paths with his old shipmate (& mutineer against Kidd) Robert Culliford lead to his eventual downfall.
rydra_wong: Fragment of a Tube map, with stations renamed Piero della Francesca, Harpo, Socrates and Seneca. (walking -- the great bear)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
is now OH JESUS FUCK BUTTERCUP'S GOING TO SAY SOMETHING ISN'T HE.

Today:

Trump claimed on Twitter that the terrorist attack involved “sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard”, despite no such information having been released publicly by police. He also blamed it on “loser terrorists”, promoted his travel ban and advocated a “proactive and nasty” policy against Islamic State.

Note: since no information's been released publicly about whether the police even have suspects, let alone ones known to Scotland Yard, Buttercup is either a) violating the conventions on intelligence sharing (again), or b) completely making shit up.

Also note: almost all our terrorists recently have been home-grown, so a travel ban would do exactly fuck-all.

Also pre-emptively and doubtless ineffectively: DON'T EVEN THINK OF COMING AT OUR MAYOR YOU FUCKER.

Trick or Treat Exchange

Sep. 14th, 2017 05:10 pm
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
For those who don't know, Trick or Treat is a fun, low-pressure fic and art fest - the minimum is only 300 words! Treating is encouraged. Signups are open now. You can see the tagset of available fandoms here.

Treats (and tricks) in unrequested but known-to-be-favorite fandoms/characters of mine are always welcome!

My god, this is long. Sorry!

My fandoms are The Darkangel, The Dark Tower (book), The Girl With the Silver Eyes, Hamilton, Ladyhawke, The Magnificent Seven (2016), Marvel 616 (aka X-Men comics), Saiyuki, The Stand, and The Windsingers.

Prompts below cut. Read more... )

Weekly Ballet Post, 9/14/17

Sep. 14th, 2017 02:06 pm
sputnikhearts: female ballet student at the barre (tendu)
[personal profile] sputnikhearts
Had an exhausting introduction to piqué this week. We didn't do the turn, just the step. Thank God (Terpischore?). There's nothing like a basic exercise that is REALLY HARD to remind you of how inadequate your legs* are. I got myself through by reminding myself to pull up from the hips, and pretending that I looked Damn Good.

And I could deceive myself thus because there was no time to check in the mirror. A ballet studio is the one place where an entire wall covered in mirrors is not vanity, it is the opposite. It shows not only the inadequacy of my technique, it reveals the difference between what I feel my body is doing, and what I can see it to be doing. Mind you, I know I'm doing everything imperfectly, but the disparity between "bad" and "worse" is enormous. The really cruel irony is that I can't actually take that much time in the mirror anyways as long as I'm doing something—the amount of concentration it takes to check my form interferes with, you know, counting to eight. Or remembering the combination. Or keeping my form. The mirror works better if I'm already standing still while being instructed, trying to carve a form into muscle memory so that it can then be done again, sight unseen.

* Hips remain the worst. I feel like the pregnancy actually messed with my hip sockets (not medically impossible) and that I had more turnout before it happened. Still, after a lot of sulky reading, it was nice to discover that almost nobody had perfect turnout. Even at Vaganova, which rumor says chooses its entering students 99% based on proximity to the Ideal Ballet Skeleton (talent is an afterthought**; five hours of dancing six days a week will train that into you) you still see via YouTube that most of them aren't doing 180.

** I feel like writers can also learn from this XD In fact the lesson is an optimistic one! Turnout is restricted by the genetics of one's hip socket. Last I heard, there are many ways to get words down on a page/computer screen.

icons: Love 020

Sep. 14th, 2017 10:34 am
meganbmoore: (paladins: yan yu/mo le: pre-angstplosion)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
 157 x Love 020



here )