racing in the street

May. 29th, 2017 05:59 pm
[syndicated profile] marginalgloss_feed

If you know more than a little about his music, it’s likely that you’ll find the autobiography of Bruce Springsteen something of a familiar document. Here is a story of the great American individual who dares to dream bigger than the narrow future afforded by his surroundings; here’s a story about cars and girls, and the mythical, elevating power of rock ’n roll. It is proof positive, I suppose, of the great meritocracy in action. But here also is a story where every success is tempered by restless ambition. Springsteen’s songs rarely have happy endings, even when they are at their most anthemic; similarly, there’s a great deal of darkness here, and it’s only rarely confined to the edge of town.

It’s written by the man himself: that much is evident first from the first few pages. It’s too big and strange and unwieldy to be anything else. His style is disarmingly frank, varies wildly, and is prone to dadlike fits of enthusiasm. He has no problem at all with declaring his passion in CAPITAL LETTERS whenever he gets really excited. From time to time there’ll come a wince-worthy aside; it’ll usually be about women. But, as you would expect from such a practiced songwriter, he’s capable of some highly evocative writing. The streets of his home town in New Jersey are mapped with an impressive attention to detail: the old carpet mill and Nescafé plant; the war cemetery; the dark back roads of Monmouth county; and looming above everything else the high branches of the copper beech tree that stood outside his grandparents’ house.

It’s an intensely reflective book. The author has been in therapy for over thirty years, and at times it shows in his prose. His relationship with his father is the subject of close, thoughtful analysis, which goes way beyond the usual fits of affection or dismissal one might expect from a celebrity autobiography. Apart from anything else it is remarkable to note how specific the author is in his consideration of his father’s illness, rather than blaming his tumultuous home life on some hidden human malevolence. He’s rarely reticent in discussing the influences on his own material, but he goes beyond that here. The material of his music is characterised as an extension of the man who wrote it — and the origins of that are found at home, even when ‘home’ was never especially homelike. 

To some extent this was always evident: with Springsteen’s music you always had the sense of someone watching that blue collar world with a wary eye from the sidelines. But this book evokes an immediacy which makes those early records of his sound almost uncomfortably close. It would never have occurred to me to think that the original of the couple fleeing forever across the country might be inspired less by himself and more by his own parents, who suddenly upped sticks and drove from New Jersey to start a new life in California — leaving Bruce, only nineteen, at home; and leaving his sister, seventeen, to raise her new child back in Jersey. Here is the world of everything from Born to Run to The River in miniature.

The actualities of what Bruce did to become The Boss makes for a remarkably straightforward story. The short version is that he worked unbelievably hard on making music for as long as he humanly could; astonishingly, he seems to have got away with doing almost nothing else. From earliest adolescence all through his early twenties he was playing for anyone who would listen, and long before his first album came along he’d honed his talents playing for what must have been thousands and thousands of hours before all kinds of audiences. 

Young adulthood bought something that approximated a career, but what looks today like a wild kind of ‘off grid’ lifestyle. For years he played with Steel Mill, a local New Jersey band that never committed a thing to vinyl, but which depended entirely on the famed intensity of their live shows; he had no permanent address, let alone a bank account or phone line; for tax purposes he was an unknown entity. And he was often incredibly poor: even during the recording of his second album with the E Street Band, he was sleeping in a tent outside the recording studio with Clarence Clemons.

It’s impossible to say that Springsteen hasn’t worked for the degree of fame he enjoys today. But what’s especially fascinating about this is that, considering his vulnerability to spells of anxiety, he seems to have had no room at all for self-doubt in his life. There is never really any question of the author becoming anyone else than Bruce Springsteen, master rock musician: it’s all just a matter of dogged persistence.  

Music is an overwhelming constant, to the extent that the rest of his life — especially after those early years — feels like it follows in the wake of the albums he’s making, the places he’s touring. The eternal symbol of despair is the image of his father, the exhausted working man, sitting alone at the kitchen table with a six pack, silently inflicting his own disappointment on the rest of his family. Everything Bruce does is to prove himself before the judgment of that figure.

It’s a remarkable story, and the author is nothing if not aware of how lucky he’s been. But it’s alienating too. Aside from some pleasant family stories from later in life, it can be hard to get the sense of a life lived outside of the author’s own creative work. This is not to suggest it’s an inauthentic picture — perhaps it’s because after a certain point, the book must necessarily use the big career achievements (albums, tours, etc) as waypoint markers; everything thus becomes a story of how one got from one to the next. 

It’s a wonderful picture of a world that no longer entirely exists, for all kinds of reasons: the cost of keeping a young artist alive; the state of the recording industry; the idea of popular music; the big man on stage; the album as the zenith of the rock musician’s art. To an extent it feels like Springsteen was one of the last to head down that route before it closed up altogether. The work of any young musician, or filmmaker, or artist, or writer, is going to be inextricably entangled with the rest of their lives in a way that’s more complex, if not necessarily more difficult than it was forty-plus years ago. 

There’s a cynical voice in me that says for a young musician today, it would be necessary to publish their autobiography at the start of their career, rather than in its twilight years. Proving it all night on stage is no longer enough, nor is straightforward musicianship; that much can be bypassed entirely. The persona has become so much more necessary. None of this is necessarily worse than came before — and none of it amounts to a problem that this book is obliged to answer — but it is different, and this is a book which will provide few answers to anyone seeking direction from their own efforts.

green_knight: (Never Enough)
[personal profile] green_knight
This is a sequel to the House of Shattered Wings, by [personal profile] aliettedb. Like the first book, it's very dark fantasy - this is set in a post-apocalyptic Paris, with fallen angels and a lot of blood and dark magic - but like the first one, it never strays into horror, nor is it a crapsack world full of grimdark figures who are loyal only to themselves and their purse. There is not even an overabundance of hope, just a very large dose of humanity.

On paper, this should not be my kind of book. And yet. And yet. [personal profile] aliettedb is a marvellous writer (I've known this for a while), and these books are everything I love about the genre and then some: a rich, intriguing setting, a rich cast of characters, both human and not-so-human, in-depth characterisations, a complex plot full of twists and turns which unveils new aspects with every chapter. Right up to the end, I had no idea how all of the plot threads would come together, and where the story was headed, and there is so *much* story that I will probably need to read these books at least a couple of times more to be certain I have followed all of it.

These are books that have blown me away, in the best sense of the word. You have a wide gamut of characters, ambitions, relationships; there is not a shred of clichee or cardboard in sight. And while there are plenty of deaths to go around, the _typical victims_ do NOT die.

On reflection, I think I was wrong. There *is* hope, but it's not the loud and brash, in-your-face 'we only need to overcome this one evil and then we're set' kind, but a much quieter hope. This is not a world that needs more heroics, though sometimes people are called upon to do heroic things, just because where they are and what is happening around them, but most of the work is done by sheer dogged determination.

Wholly recommended. The only thing I dislike - and this is, of course, not the author's fault, just a general publishing grumble - is that this is out in trade paperback and costs about as much as two ordinary books. I got it cheaper from Amazon, but if I hadn't loved the first one so much, I would have waited... and might have forgotten about it in the general influx of new books. This is not a book that should be forgotten.

If you're looking for future Hugo nominations, read this book.

Silly quick meme

May. 29th, 2017 10:35 pm
tinny: (Default)
[personal profile] tinny
I like the first character of my name, so no wonder this went really fast. Like... 60 seconds total... but then I had expected more difficult questions.

without using google, find one of everything that starts with the first letter of your name:
T )

Gradient Strip from LJ?

May. 29th, 2017 08:41 pm
jitterylittlething: (Default)
[personal profile] jitterylittlething posting in [community profile] style_system
Wasn't very happy to discover that LJ have removed a lot of their older styles including Gradient Strip, which luckily still works for me as I never changed it. Is there a way to import Gradient Strip in to DW?

Thank you :)

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

May. 29th, 2017 08:00 am
[syndicated profile] strangehorizons_feed

Posted by Keguro Macharia

Otherwise is a word that names plurality as its core operation, otherwise bespeaks the ongoingness of possibility, of things existing other than what is given, what is known, what is grasped.
—Ashon Crawley, Blackpentecostal Breath

A question I repeat: What do I—the reader—need to know to encounter this work? I ask not to be prescriptive, but to situate the terrain of encounter. I am not an expert in SF and I am not an Africanist. I stumble through these fields anticipating encounters. Some anxiety, as there is no guarantee any encounter will be pleasant or benign. History—personal and collective—is an unreliable guide. Always with the question of what I bring to the encounter—half-forgotten phrases, ancestral memories mutated beyond recognition, hungers whose names I have forgotten, frustration from impeding lifeworlds, an ear for the music of the idiosyncratic, a relentless search for the satisfaction Audre Lorde terms erotic, a doomed search for something that might be termed reflection or echo, a word that will let me settle in it for the space of a half-breath: Binti. Binti: Home.

Binti: Home continues the journey started in Binti. In Binti, a young math prodigy runs away from home at 16 to attend the most prestigious off-world university. In Binti: Home, the young math prodigy returns to her home region to discover that home has become something impossible. It is an Afro-diasporic story, as one terrain. It is an Afro-futurist story, as another terrain.

Here, I map one possible scene of encounter between Afro-diaspora and Afro-futurism, not as past meets future or as dispersal meets collectivity, not, that is, with a pre-determined sense of what such an encounter looks like. Instead, with the speculative-subjunctive sense of a would-be observer-dreamer.

My names are:

“I am Binti Ekeopara Zuzu Dambu Kaipka of Namib”
“Binti Ekeopara Zuzu Dambu Kaipka of Namib, that is my name”
“I am Binti Ekeopara Zuzu Dambu Kaipka of Namib”
“This is Binti Ekeopara Zuzu Dambu Kaipka of Namib, the one … the one who survives”
“You may just call me Binti” (Binti)

“My names are” is a Kenyanism—though it might be an Africanism: a way to introduce the multiple embeddings names perform in Kenya, a placing within Afro-modernity, ethno-regionalism, spirituality, and class. A fracture and a weaving. A way of entering a still-unfolding story, where one names a time of day or a season or a relation or an occasion or a promise. My names are fracture and weaving, season and promise. And in Afro-diaspora, the hidden name and the remembered name and the invented name and the inventing name and the secret name and the forgotten name and the forgetting name.

You might linger at these scenes of naming in Binti, to see when and where she names herself and when and where she is named, and by whom. They return in Binti: Home.

“Binti Ekeopara Zuzu Dambu Kaiak of Namib, that is my name”
“Binti of Namib?”
“Binti of Namib?”
“Binti,” she said, “Daughter of Moaoogo Dambu Kaipka Okechukwu Enyi Zinariya”

Where Binti is the insistence produced by dispersal—Afro-diaspora—Binti: Home is the impossible return to something that might be called—but can never be—home. The Binti who left home returns imagining that she might still marry her childhood friend, Dele, still raise a family within her home community, the Himba, only to find that future foreclosed, to find herself thrust into the world of invention—Afro-futurism—where she must begin to imagine a different way of being (in place, perhaps—Binti: Home suspends something that might be called an ending—it is, in this suspending, an opening to otherwise).

Again, a return to Binti before moving to the impossibility of Binti: Home.

Binti introduces us to the possibilities of black hair, and then makes it—and us—otherwise. It starts with hair as an extension into the world, a way that contact is made beyond will, an interruption of space, a touch:

As I moved past seated passengers far too aware of the bushy ends of my plaited hair softly slapping people in the face, I cast my eyes to the floor. Our hair is thick and mine has always been very thick. My old auntie liked to call it “ododo” because it grew wild and dense like ododo grass. Just before leaving, I’d rolled my plaited hair with fresh sweet-smelling otjize I’d made specifically for this trip. Who knew what I looked like to these people who didn’t know my people so well.

It is the enforced contact of public transport—Binti is on a shuttle, traveling to the ship that will take her off-world, to a prestigious university, Oomza University, to a different world. Her hair distinguishes her, announcing her difference—her unspoken names. Soon, this inadvertent touch—her hair making contact she dare not with her eyes or the rest of her body—becomes deliberate:

As I stood in line for boarding security, I felt a tug at my hair.

I winced the first time I read this line.
I wince when I re-read it. It disorients me. I reach for something to ground me.

Sociologist and Surveillance studies scholar Simone Browne has a wonderful chapter titled, “‘What Did TSA Find in Solange’s Fro’? Security Theater At the Airport,” in Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. A few grounding quotations:

security theater at the airport must be understood not only as about the staging of security and the theatrical performance that passengers must successfully comply with in order to pass through screening zones, but also as reflecting the airport screening zone as a military theater of operations.

… certain bodies, particularly those of black women, often get taken up as publicly available for scrutiny and inspection, and also get marked as more threatening, unruly.

Black women, in their places of work, en route to and from their workplaces, sometimes at home and in places of leisure, are subjected to a scrutinizing surveillance.

A reader of Binti will tell me, rightly, that Binti’s hair is not touched, initially, by a security officer. It is touched, initially, by a fellow passenger. The scene must be recounted. I do so reluctantly.

As I stood in line for boarding security, I felt a tug at my hair. I turned around and met the eves of a group of Khoush women. They were staring at me; everyone behind me was staring at me.

The woman who’d tugged my plait was looking at her fingers and rubbing them together, frowning. Her fingertips were orange red with my otjize. She sniffed at them. “It smells like jasmine flowers,” she said to the woman on her left, surprised.

“Not shit?” one woman said. “I hear it smells like shit because it is shit.”

“No, definitely jasmine flowers. It is thick like shit, though.”

There’s more, but I don’t have the stomach to continue. Consider, Binti is 16! The novella does not mention the age of the women who surveil her, but the term “woman” indicates they are older. A group of women gang up on a teenager. Binti hears the problematic proximity of words—she knows the repetition of “shit” as smell and texture is meant to describe her.

Afro-diaspora names the acts of deracination and gathering that make black life endangered and possible, threatened and pleasurable, never pleasurable because threatened—that is obscene—but pleasurable at sites of gathering and affirmation.

Afro-diaspora codes hair differently. One of Binti’s future-to-be-killed classmates points out that she has exactly “twenty-one” braids that are “braided in tessellating triangles,” and asks if it is “some sort of code.”

I wanted to tell him that there was a code, that the patterns spoke my family’s bloodline, culture, and history. That my father had designed the code and my mother and aunties had shown me how to braid it into my hair.

When I read this passage, I thought of Kenyan photographer Osborne Macharia’s Kipipiri 4, an attempt to imagine Kenyan women as freedom fighters. In an interview discussing the shoot, he explains the hair politics:

Every character has a defining element. Without the hair there would be no shoot at all. I explain further on Instagram—Bobo is the leader so she had this thick hair. We made it out of a plant that is used in Kenya’s coastal region that we colored black. You can see a pattern where there are strings of red. The idea was that she hides a road map in her hair which only the second-in-command can interpret. The red lines depict the places that are dangerous.

Maps and those who can read them.

I also thought of Rod Eglash’s study of African fractals—handily summarized in this TED Talk—and how everyday African cultures—the quotidian lives of architecture and decoration and fashion and weaving—demonstrate and use complex math structures. Were I to write more, my innumeracy would be painfully obvious. I confess to it now, and move on.

Away from the security theater of everyday life as it encounters white supremacy, how else might we encounter the beauty and knowledges of black hair?

Afro-futurism opens to otherwise, the production of new forms of sociality and self-understanding.

Briefly: while on the way to Oomza University, the ship is attacked by non-humanoid life forms known as the Meduse. To the extent that comparison can work here, they look like giant floating jellyfish. Binti is the only one who survives the encounter.

As she begins to interact with the Meduse, her hair acts as a mediator:

“You have okuoko.”

I frowned at the unfamiliar word. “What is “ukuoko?”

And that’s when it moved for the first time since I’d awakened. Its long tentacles jiggled playfully and a laugh escaped my mouth before I could stop it … “You mean my hair?” I asked, shaking my thick plaints.

Okuoko,” yes. It said.

Okuoko,” I said. I had to admit, I liked the sound of it.

The Meduse mediator, Okwu,—sometimes referred to as “it” and sometimes as “he,” across Binti and Binti: Home—offers Binti another way to think of how her hair communicates. The plaits are translated as okuoko, given the same meaning as living tentacles. This might be the pleasure of encountering an alien people: to be returned to one’s own body as one had not imagined it. To have one’s body extended beyond what one might have imagined.

The Meduse, through a process of bio-engineering, transform Binti’s plaited hair into okuoko, joining her to their collective thinking-feeling-remembering gathering. Consent is a difficult word here. She survives by agreeing to this transformation. Consent might be an impossible word here.

How she lives this transformation is the subject of Binti: Home

[survival: The Meduse do not kill Binti when they massacre the rest of those on the ship with her because she has alien tech that harms them. She survives. Later, they do not kill her because she submits to being transformed—to having her plaited hair transformed into okuoko, to becoming part Meduse. Afro-diasporic narratives are survivor narratives: Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861); Pauline Hopkins, Of One Blood (1902-1903); Angelina Weld Grimké, Rachel (1916); Jessie Fauset, Plum Bun (1928); Nella Larsen, Quicksand (1928); Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937); Gwendolyn Brooks, Maud Martha (1953); Flora Nwapa, Efuru (1966); Ama Ata Aidoo, Our Sister Killjoy (1977); Mariama Ba, So Long a Letter (1979); Audre Lorde, Zami (1982); Michelle Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven (1987); Octavia Butler, Kindred (1979); Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998); Rebeka Njau, The Sacred Seed (2003); Dionne Brand, A Map to the Door of No Return (2001); Yvonne Owuor, Dust (2015). I am always returning to survival as the work of speculation.

Consider this a form of black annotation.

I was looking for more than the violence of the slave ship, the migrant and refugee ship, the container ship, and the medical ship. I saw that leaf in her hair, and with it I performed my own annotation that might open this image out into a life, however precarious, that was always there. (Christina Sharpe, In the Wake)]


Opacities can coexist and converge, weaving fabrics
—Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation

As Binti: Home opens, the now 17-year-old Binti has been at Oomza University for a year, her plaits are living okuoko, she is suffering from post-traumatic shock from seeing the Meduse murder her shipmates, she is experiencing bouts of rage that she can’t explain (we learn this is because of her psychic connection to Okwu, her Meduse classmate and best friend), and she believes that if she can return to her home, among the Himba, and complete a ritual, she will be purified, returned to the person she once was or might have been. All this, in the first few pages of the novella.

I have to keep reminding myself that Binti is barely 17, and of the weight often placed on young characters in SF, as their world and their bodies change.

Binti attempts to return home, accompanied by Okwu, but finds she has been transformed beyond what the home she imagines can accommodate. When she lands on her home planet, she reflects,

I hadn’t told my family about my hair not being hair anymore, that it was now a series of alien tentacles resulting from the Meduse genetics being introduced to mine; that they had sensation and did other things I was still coming to understand. I could hide my okuoko with otjize, especially when I spoke with my family through my astrolabe where they couldn’t see how my okuoko sometimes moved on their own. Won’t be able to hide them for long now, I thought.

Binti struggles to think of how her encounter with the Meduse has changed her, not simply her hair. In this passage, I linger at “a series of alien tentacles” and “they had sensation and did other things I was still coming to understand,” the distance between the “I” who can understand and the okuoko that are still not yet considered part of the I. The gap between “my hair” and “my okuoko.” Yet, a gap that is filled, visually, by the connection between “okuoko” and “otjize.” If we listen, the italics are asking us to think of how these two words connect. We know from Binti that otjize can heal wounded okuoko, that Himba technology—special earth blended with flower oils—can heal Meduse wounds. If the Meduse extend Binti’s worlds and abilities, she also extends theirs by providing healing.

The relationship between Binti and the Meduse in Binti is replicated as Binti discovers the relationship between the Enyi Zinariya, the Desert People who include her paternal grandmother, and the Zinariya, an alien race who genetically modified the Enyi Zinariya in a past before the Himba and other residents of earth had encountered alien cultures. This might be a spoiler.

As far as I can recall, no translation is offered for “Enyi Zinariya.” My familiarity with Kikuyu and Kiswahili suggests it might be translated as “Of the Zinariya.” Whatever the case, ancient alien beings lie at the heart of a culture and people assumed to be removed from the modern. Binti discovers that she is more multiple than she had imagined: not simply Himba, but Himba and Meduse and Enye Zinariya and Zinariya.

I cannot think of an easy way to conclude this writing, so I give the final words to Amal El-Mohtar:

It's difficult to write this review in the midst of everything that's happening: difficult to write of a future in which people of color move unfettered through the stars, befriend aliens, make peace between warring factions. Right now, the fantasy in the Binti novellas, the fiction, isn't the jellyfish-aliens, the magical math or strange artifacts, but the ease with which travel is allowed black and brown people between planets, nations, lives. As futuristic as these books are, every passing day makes them feel farther away. But I cling all the same to what they believe in: love between family members who want different things of each other and the world; communication winning out between warring parties; change enabling friendship and discovery. What Home says, ultimately, is that travelling the galaxy is relatively easy compared to understanding ourselves and each other—and that this is crucial, necessary work.

rydra_wong: Nichole watches TV: "My name is John Dean III and I want to spill my guts out." "Proceed." (john dean III -- watergate)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Via [personal profile] robynbender, via [ profile] kristoncapps:

This useful cheat-sheet provided by Art Buchwald in the LA Times in 1973

tag yourself I'm a "paranoid John Dean believer"

Some kind person needs to re-make this as a bingo card. I believe it will come in handy.

Black Sails in Russian

May. 29th, 2017 09:33 pm
marina: (Default)
[personal profile] marina
So, I convinced a few friends to watch Black Sails (many of my friends refuse, because I spent too long talking about what a clusterfuck S1 of that show was lol). Among them was [ profile] curiousflowers, who basically took one look at what the show was and said "you know what, I'm going to watch this in Russian".

This was... an incredibly correct and amazing decision. In fact I've slowly arrived at the conclusion that Russian is actually the original language of Black Sails, and the English we've all experienced is a translation. Some mass hallucination has obscured this fact from us until now.

Black Sails thoughts )

Anyway, all of these have been fascinating insights, and I might have more as I watch more of the show? How many times is one allowed to rewatch all of Black Sails? Is there a legal limit?


In unrelated news, I guess I'm posting this novella thing in a few days (////o\\\\) and there's now a summary + excerpt you can read.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
[personal profile] beccaelizabeth
A princess wants to be more practical than her parents allow, so she runs away to be a dragon's princess. Which involves swords, magic, latin, and cooking, just like she'd wanted to study, and also quite a lot of politics. But not marrying a prince, especially one she's only just met, so that works out well for her.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was it starts with the kind of fairytale where princesses are basically ornamental. Etiquette, protocol, dancing. Not so much about diplomacy or logistics or castle defence. But there were plenty of times later that the traditional princessing turned out to be useful, so I think on balance it didn't do the Not Like Other Girls or make anyone out to be useless.

I'll happily buy more like this.

Today is a theoretical holiday but Monday jobs are laundry and dishwashering because by Monday it needs doing. So I did one load dishwasher and two loads laundry same as usual. But that was a perfectly pleasant day.

I also put away the duvet and switched to blankets for the summer. More layers can cope with more variable weather, hopefully.

I feel like I need more things to do with my days. But basic maintenance functions would still need done, so.

Off the Hook by Laura Drewry

May. 29th, 2017 06:00 pm
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Guest Reviewer


Off the Hook

by Laura Drewry
April 12, 2016 · Loveswept
RomanceContemporary Romance

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Lindsey R. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mid-Length Contemporary category.

The summary:

Welcome to The Buoys, a West Coast haven where love comes in with the tide. Perfect for readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery, the Fishing for Trouble series features three unforgettable brothers—each of whom is a great catch.

Major league pitcher Liam O’Donnell knows his best days are probably behind him, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to retire and become a fishing guide. Still, after all the time he’s spent chasing his dreams, he owes it to his brothers to pull his weight around the lodge. The Buoys is their father’s legacy, and they can’t let some developer take it from them. The one snag Liam isn’t counting on is a blast from the past: his ex-wife.

The moment Kate Hadley steps out of the seaplane, she knows this assignment is going to be trickier than she thought. She has to persuade the owners to sell—and one of them is Liam O’Donnell. Ten years ago, she made the biggest mistake of her life when she married Liam during a fling in Vegas. Now he’s her only lifeline in the middle of nowhere. Kate’s trying to keep things cool, but Liam reminds her of the scorching few nights they spent together—and tempts her to make new memories that are just as steamy as the old.

Here is Lindsey R.'s review:

I don’t normally read too much contemporary romance. I waded into the waters a few years ago and through blind luck managed to routinely pick novels featuring an overabundance of angst. And while I can certainly appreciate authors tackling modern issues, I was walking away from these novels more depressed then when I started. But when I read the summary of Off the Hook I was pretty confident this book wouldn’t fall into that category, and indeed I can safely report that if you like your romance light on conflict this one fits the bill. However, the book ended up being light on a lot of other important components, namely male characters that I didn’t want to throat punch.

Our “hero” (and yes heavy sarcasm implied there) is Liam. Liam I would describe as an adult male who hasn’t progressed beyond his 13-year-old self. Girls have cooties, sports are cool, and brothers are fun to punch. He is working at the family fishing operation while trying to resurrect his dream of playing professional baseball, and while his brother and family friend seem to be sacrificing plenty to make this fishing lodge work, Liam seems to be bidding his time until he can jump ship (pun intended):

“If – no, when – he got another offer, he’d be on the first Helijet out, debt or no debt.”

Got to love a man who’s loyal to the family. But not only is he willing to put blinders on to everything but baseball, he also joins his brother in straight up misogynistic asshattery. One of the early conversations readers are treated to is Liam and his brother Finn mansplaining to our heroine Kate and their gal pal Jessie how relationships work:

“You’ll have him giving up red meat for kale, drinking wheatgrass every morning, and before he knows it, he’ll be asking permission to go out for a beer with his buddies.”

That’s right ladies, according to these dudes we are all whiney manipulative creatures who through tears and our magical vaginas are able to bend men to our will – ah the power!!

Ginger Spice from the Spice Girls saying she came out of the womb screaming Girl Power.

Luckily Kate is quick to point out what an idiotic notion this is:

“Were all men this stupid? …I’m not the bitch you and your stupid-ass brother assume I am.”

Amen sister. You would think that with all the Omega 3’s these dudes have to be eating their brains would be a bit past the Neanderthal stage. But alas that is not the case. And while Kate is quick to fight against these stereotypes of women, she unfortunately can’t fight the pants feelings she and Liam have, even though their previous relationship lasted 5 days and was 10 years ago. Now either Liam has a magic peen to go with Kate’s magical vagina or these people need to date more.

And there is my biggest problem with the book. Two people who were basically strangers hooked up, got married and divorced over the course of a few days and then are suddenly thrown together again 10 years later and we readers are supposed to believe they have both just been tooling around Costco waiting all this time?

Doubtful. Especially when Kate explains that during this time she was embracing being “Strong Kate, Resourceful Kate, and Smart Kate.” In other words she spent the 10 years concentrating on her career, maturing, and overall getting shit done. But that woman goes out the window when she’s back with Liam because:

Smart Kate had spent most of the last ten years alone, searching for the kind of feelings only one man had ever pulled out of her.

Yeah I was having some feelings being pulled out of me too at this point and it definitely felt like anger, or maybe even rage. Here is this smart successful woman who dodged a bullet when her Britney Spears-esque marriage ended, suddenly letting her self esteem take a few punches and engaging in self-doubt when her ex comes back into the picture.

I wanted to shake this woman.

Leslie Knope telling Ann Perkins that she's a beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox. From the show Parks and Recreation

But sadly this book’s happily ever after does not feature Jessie and Kate staging a revolution on the island, setting Liam and Finn adrift on a boat, and kicking back with pina coladas and a successful fishing lodge. Instead we are treated to a drawn out ending that features minimal groveling, Kate turning into a Giving Tree, and setup for the next book for one of the characters that I couldn’t care less about.

Now having thought about this book in more detail and dredging up my frustrations, I feel like my rating may have been a bit too generous. It feels like a woman who is wearing the wrong sized bra. For years you thought your twins were a solid C only to have an elderly woman with cold hands and a colorful tape measurer break the news that you have been smothering your ladies and they need to be let loose in a D cup. I’ll stick to my initial rating of a C, but warning, for many of you this may be a situation where we are spilling solidly into D territory.

Saucer Country #1 - "Run, Part Two"

May. 30th, 2017 02:27 am
laughing_tree: (Seaworth)
[personal profile] laughing_tree posting in [community profile] scans_daily

Trigger Warning: Rape

I spent my university years wondering if I had "missing time"! So this title is sort of the story of my life. I always used to read scary, true-life UFO books. It's something I've been researching, as it were, since I was about eight. This wonderful, original American mythology -- like jazz is an original American nform. -- Paul Cornell

Read more... )

i keep wanting to call it pillowforte

May. 29th, 2017 11:25 am
runpunkrun: lex luthor using a laptop and looking peeved, text: bad porn makes Lex evil (lex hates bad porn)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Has anyone been following Pillowfort's development? They're hoping to be a Tumblr replacement, kind of an LJ/Tumblr hybrid with reblogs and threaded comments. They're also hoping to avoid the pitfalls of LJ and Tumblr, but I feel like they're overcorrecting in some areas.

For example, in the interest of giving users complete control over their content, if a user deletes a post, all related content will also be deleted. That's everybody's reblogs, comments, tags, whatever. So if someone deletes their blog, your stuff goes with it. Other users shouldn't have control over my content like that. When you point this out to Pillowfort, they don't seem to understand people's concerns. Tumblr's reblogging of deleted posts is a problem, but this goes too far in the other direction.

Pillowfort has also recently said that "call-out" posts won't be allowed on their platform. And while obviously they can forbid anything they want on their site ("100000% no Nazis"), who's going to be deciding the difference between a "call-out" post and a complaint? You can't stop people from complaining. The purity brigade on Tumblr is out of control, but I swear to god that's their right. Banning "call-out" posts isn't going to stop them from being wrong in public.

In response to a concerned anon who thinks "call-out" posts are a necessary tool to alert people about a user's history of bigotry or abuse, the Pillowfort team says, "Our ToS already disallows rhetoric based in racism, harassment, bigotry, etc."

Is anyone on this team talking to each other? Social platforms should protect and defend their users from abuse, stalking, and harassment. They should have clear policies about what isn't allowed on their site, state the consequences for violating those policies, and then consistently enforce those policies. As long as the site has a working system in place to report and pursue violations, they don't need to make policies about something as specific as "call-out" posts. If, like they've said, their ToS already disallows these things, then—by their own logic—they don't need to ban "call-out" posts at all. Banning "call-out" posts—and I keep putting that in quotes because they don't define it—will, maybe, reduce a certain kind of harassment, or maybe people will just stop saying "this is a call-out post" and suddenly they'll get a lot harder to identify. The thing is, wankers gonna wank. I might not like or agree with what they're saying, but they have the right to say it, and if I value my own free speech, I have to protect theirs. But Pillowfort is saying they don't have the right to say it. That concerns me. They're focusing on the wrong end of the problem.

Unfortunately, I can't actually find a copy of their ToS, so I can only go by what the team says on their Tumblr. The site is in beta now, but I don't have an account, and it looks like you can only view their privacy policy if you're logged in, so maybe it's the same for their ToS.

Anyway, writing this made me feel like a right-wing lunatic because I kept wanting to use terms like "nanny state." This post used to be a lot longer.
starwolf_oakley: (Default)
[personal profile] starwolf_oakley posting in [community profile] scans_daily
For John F. Kennedy's centennial, here is a repost:

WHAT IF (Vol 1) #4 is one of the few stories (if not the only story) that turned out to be part of the "actual history" of the Marvel Universe. And it involves John F. Kennedy almost getting replaced by a robot.

A robot duplicate of the senatorial candidate! )

Age and Fashion in History part 9

May. 29th, 2017 10:30 am
[syndicated profile] gen_path_feed

Posted by HistoryExplorer

The Georgian era in Britain started in the early eighteenth century. Fashion was influenced by the styles of the French court which became more and more ornate as the century progressed. This was particularly so for women’s attire.

Skirts were still required dress for ladies. But what could be done to change the style of that expanse of cloth that covered the wearer from somewhere around the waist all the way down to the ground? The abundance of cloth tended to hang. Petticoats added some structure and fullness so more structure was added to the petticoat in the form of hoops, creating bell shaped skirts. These dresses look pretty when women are standing but must have been a challenge when women wanted to sit. Worse was yet to come.

The bell shape became passé. Fullness was added to the hips, gradually at first, but the sideways expansion continued until it reached beyond the woman’s extended fingertips. Getting through doorways was a challenge but there was plenty of scope for decoration with all that expanse of skirt, leading to some of those confections seen in paintings of women of the period. Liza Picard paints an amusing word picture of the challenge of wearing this fashion. “Although the static pose of portraits implies that these huge skirts were anchored to the ground, their behaviour in a high wind or a rapid walk was far from static. They swayed from side to side, or from front to back, in an alarming – or, if the wearer so intended, an enticing – way, disclosing more of the wearer than seems likely from the painted picture. (Knickers had not yet arrived.)”*


While women’s fashion was changing the female form, men’s fashion retained its look of breeches and stockings with long jackets ended just above the breeches. The changes in men’s fashion centered mainly on the head. Men and boys were wigs which were powdered on formal occasions. Women also augmented their hair as styles became more and more elaborate, in keeping with their skirts. The late 1700s saw those fantastic towering hairdos which women wore with formal dress. Much effort went into the creation of those up-dos so they were preserved for weeks on end, no doubt making sleep difficult and cleanliness even more so.  

These were the extremes of fashion followed by ladies at court. The more middling sort of person could not be impaired by their clothes or hair and still get anything done. The outline of fashion was followed by rich and poor both in the old country and the New World. 

This was true of children as well which can be seen in paintings of court life with young children wearing miniature versions of the fashions of their elders. In fact, until this era children had been treated as mini-adults. However, it was in this century that a developing sense of the specialness and innocence of childhood began to be developed. 

At the other end of the age spectrum, the elderly were a part of family and social networks both in England and in America. While still able, they helped the younger generation with familial tasks and were part of an inter-dependent network which, hopefully, would lend them support when they became frail. As to fashion for the elderly, in court circles there was disapproval of those women who followed the latest fashions despite their years. They were expected to “act their age.” No doubt the less well off elderly who were dependent upon family networks knew better than to let their dress threaten their place in the family. 


Adkins, Roy & Lesley. Jane Austen’s England: daily life in the Georgian and Regency Periods. Penguin Books, New York, 2013.

Botelho, Lynn and Thane, Pat, Women and Ageing in British Society since 1500. Pearson Education Limited, Harlow, Essex, 2001.

Lawrence-Lightfoot, Sara. The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2009

Lofts, Norah. Domestic Life in England. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1976

Mintz, Steven The Prime of Life: A History of Modern Adulthood. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2015

Picard, Liza. Doctor Johnson’s London. Phoenix Press, London, 2000. P217*

Thane, Pat. A History of Old Age. Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 2005

Ulrich, Laural Thatcher. Good Wives: Image and Reality of Women in Northern New England 1650-1750. Vintage Books, New York, 1991


shinyjenni: Wonder Woman deflects bullets with her bracelets (Default)
incorrigibly frivolous

May 2017


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