marnanel: (Default)
[personal profile] marnanel
A trans girl moves to live with her father in Arizona to escape bullying. She meets people at high school, but she is afraid to come out to them as trans.

The plot is straightforward but enjoyable. Chapters alternate between the present (high school politics and living with her dad) and the past (transition angst and living with her mum). The characters of her parents are especially well-drawn, each with their own tangles of development and motivation.

After the story ends, the author adds two notes: one aimed at cis readers, about understanding trans issues, and one aimed at trans readers, to encourage them and show them some options. I think this is a grand idea.

The only serious fault I find, and it's a fault acknowledged by the author in the endnotes, is that the protagonist has too few problems with transition: she gets hormones easily, she has a girlish build, and she gets bottom surgery earlier than would normally be possible.

There are perhaps too many books about trans people where much of the plot is about them being trans, but they serve a useful function in educating and encouraging (as well as entertaining) and this book does all three.

Strong content warnings for transphobia and bullying, of course; one scene has a graphic suicide attempt; reference to a successful suicide; attempted sexual assault; firearms; soft drugs; no actual sex.

Politically isolated

Jul. 25th, 2017 05:25 pm
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
I feel completely out of step with most of my friends politically. UK politics, very gloomy )

(no subject)

Jul. 25th, 2017 01:05 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
17.A song that you would sing as a duet on karaoke

Oh. Um. Hard. I don't karaoke that often. I think my favourite Singstar track is this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ

(Bohemian Rhapsody)
[personal profile] alexbayleaf

Originally published at Spinster's Bayley. You can comment here or there.

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been wanting to talk about Agile software development methodologies and how they relate to permaculture – Agile permaculture for short – for yearsandyearsandyears, and it finally seems like time to do so. Over on Making Permaculture Stronger, Dan is making an inquiry into permaculture design processes, and how much design […]

Music meme: day 15 of 30

Jul. 24th, 2017 03:31 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
A song that is a cover by another artist. I think this has to be Tori Amos' cover of I don't like Mondays, originally by the Boomtown Rats.

Tori Amos was I think the first musician I really got intensely into, beyond just enjoying the sound of somebody's music. The single Cornflake girl was on the radio a lot in the mid 90s, and I quite liked it but didn't have any context. Then I met MK when we were both up for Oxford interview, and became instant friends. He put a lot of effort into supporting me through a somewhat bumpy transition from sheltered child to independent person, including dealing with a bereavement that hit me really hard when I was 19. He's also responsible for introducing me to digital socializing (email, instant messenger, Usenet to an extent, and the wonderful world of peer-to-peer file sharing). And he played lots of Tori songs for me when I was sitting in the dark crying about letting go of childhood naive optimism. I bought Little earthquakes on CD, and had access to a lot of Tori's oeuvre for all of the 90s via not entirely licit digital copies. Not only Tori Amos, there was a lot of alt stuff especially goth that I picked up from [personal profile] doseybat, but Tori Amos was pretty much the soundtrack of inventing myself as an adult.

I don't like Mondays was almost a novelty thing in a way, recorded with a bunch of much less successful covers, of things like Smells like teen spirit which really doesn't work for Amos' musical style, most of which were never commercially released. This one did make it to Strange little girls, the concept album of gender-bent cover songs, which I was never fully convinced by. I haven't been strongly into Tori Amos' music since 2000, not that I think it's bad but it isn't part of my psyche in the way that the 90s material is. But anyway, it's a remix of a song written in response to a school shooting in the late 70s. The original is meant to be ironic, but it comes across as so inappropriately jolly that it often gets played on the radio as a joke song, here's one to cheer you up from your Monday commuting blues... Tori Amos' cover is a total reworking, without any irony at all, just sadness about a teenaged girl turning a gun on her schoolmates.

So it kind of epitomizes why Tori Amos meant a lot to me at that time in my life; she wrote and performed beautiful songs (she's a classically trained musician) about serious subjects which she took seriously. But that seriousness isn't about glorying in the violence and ugliness, it's about challenging it. video embed, audio only )

As a bonus, have kd lang's cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. It's a song that gets covered way too often, nearly always as a kind of soppy lovesong that really fails to do justice to the extremely powerful original. So basically I hate Hallelujah covers, except this one. Again, it's very different from Cohen's original, but it's an emotionally serious interpretation in its own right which doesn't cheapen its source material.

(no subject)

Jul. 24th, 2017 01:29 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
16.One of your favourite classical songs

To stretch 'classical' rather a lot...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXFSK0ogeg4

oh fortuna, Orf

Fitbit goal check

Jul. 23rd, 2017 10:31 pm

Exertion hangover

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:08 pm
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
Last Sunday (after Saturday's epic dog chase where I lost my keys) I woke up feeling the most hungover I have in years.  And I didn't even get drunk first!  I did manage to pull myself together by early afternoon, and we successfully hosted Nicholas's birthday party at the Little Gym in the late afternoon.

Yesterday was tiring, but for a much more pleasant reason. I took Nicholas to see My First Ballet: Cinderella at the Peacock Theatre, and for icecream at Ruby Violet afterward. We walked to Ruby Violet through pouring rain with bright new umbrellas, and had the whole shop to ourselves.  By the time we'd finished eating it was bright and sunny for the return walk to Kings Cross.  This morning I was thankfully free of hangover symptoms, but did (need to) spend the morning in bed again.  (Reading fanfic and re-reading All Systems Red; there are worse ways to spend a Sunday morning.)

The shiny new phone runs Pokemon Go and on Friday I let Charles talk me into installing it and going for a daily walk with him. The first evening, we passed the charity shop and saw the biggest Angry Bird toy I have ever seen.  Charles bought it at opening time the next morning.  Today our walk took us past the noticeboard in the park - where someone had hung my lost keys!  About five minutes later, we met one of the people who'd put them there, who said they'd found them about 5 minutes after I'd gone home last week from grumpily trawling the park!  I thanked them profusely and asked them to pass it on.

Nicholas says he wants to be called Nick rather than Nico, and I'm slipping up far too often, but at least making sure other adults taking care of him are made aware, and giving him some standard reminder phrases to use on me and others. (It's really not my preferred version of his name, but it's his name not mine, so I need to get over that.)

School has finished for the summer, and in less than two weeks we will be in Helsinki!  I have so much to do between now and then ...

Hugo shortlist: Novels

Jul. 23rd, 2017 04:50 pm
emperor: (Default)
[personal profile] emperor
I didn't really have enough time to get through the Hugo reading this year, but I did manage to read enough of the shortlisted novels that I voted for them. I voted thus:

  1. A Closed and Common Orbit; I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet shortly before the shortlist was announced (and really enjoyed it), which perhaps biased me in favour of this one. That did mean that I knew how one of the story arcs was going to finish, but it was still an engaging read, and I thought the way the author approached neurodiversity was gently but well done
  2. Ninefox Gambit; I would not normally go for military SF, and it did take me a while to get into this, but the author has created a fascinating world, and I really want to find out how the series progresses. Despite being the first in a series, this had a decent narrative arc of its own
  3. All the Birds in the Sky; I wanted to like this, but didn't in the end. The chapters were a bit abrupt, it sometimes felt like it was just being clever, and the magic felt a bit deus ex machina in places. I also found the (inevitable?) romance plot pretty weak. Also, the ending was a bit disappointing.
  4. Too Like the Lightning; I didn't like this at all. The narrator was infuriating, the style affected, the continued harping on about gender irksome, and it didn't even try to come to a natural close, it just stopped. I know there's a sequel, but really.


I didn't read Death's End, because I hated 3-Body Problem; I didn't read The Obelisk Gate because I didn't manage to get hold of a copy (the kindle voter packet only had an excerpt).

Amsterdam trip - day one

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:58 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
We had an early start, but not horrifically so. It was my first time travelling on the Eurostar, and it was lovely, with comfy seats and tasty food, but even more pleasant was the Thalys train from Brussels to Amsterdam. On arrival at the station we picked up an iamsterdam card which gets us travel and free/reduced entry into lots of museums and such, then took the tram to our hotel. The room is perhaps a little on the small side, but pleasant, and the bed is comfortable, which is the important thing.

We deliberately didn’t plan anything but unpacking and decompressing for this afternoon, which was the right call, as after all that travelling we were both feeling rather in need of a nap. We woke up around dinner time, and then went out for sushi (possibly an odd choice, but our first meal on our first holiday together in Prague was also sushi, so it seemed auspicious). It certainly wasn’t a bad choice - the sashimi was beautifully presented and very fresh, and the rice texture was spot on. My high point was either the scallop sashimi with tobiko, or the raw beef, avocado and cucumber roll, which was subtle and gorgeous.

After dinner [personal profile] obandsoller was feeling quite tired, so we came back to the hotel, and although my intention was to drop him off and then go for a stroll around the nearby Oosterpark, I ended up getting eaten by the inertia monster until it got dark, so that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Amsterdam trip - day zero

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:55 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
I decided that since we’d be leaving quite early on Saturday morning and had guests for dinner on Friday that it would be sensible to take an extra day off work so I didn’t have to pack in a frantic hurry. Obviously I then proceeded to plan an unnecessarily ambitious meal and fill the day from start to finish with Events, so had to pack in a rush on Thursday night instead… I got up fairly early and went for a run which finished at church. Somewhat to my surprise I found that the gates were locked, but I wasn’t foiled and managed to scale the wall and get in anyway (once past the wall the rest of the break-in was facilitated by the clever trick of having keys). I dropped off the cheques I needed signatures on, and spent a while trying to get the ancient (running Vista!) laptop working, as I’m hoping to get the people who count the collection to enter the figures directly into a spreadsheet rather than writing them down, to save me some data entry. I didn’t quite manage to get it working, but I did get a bit of organ practice inbetween interminably slow reboots…

I took the bus rather than running home, and picked up a last couple of missing ingredients, then began prepping the beetroot three ways (boiled and diced, roasted with balsamic vinegar, and finely sliced then deep fried, then baked) for the starter, and the venison meatballs for the main course. Naturally that took a little longer than expected, and I was a few minutes late out the door to head to [personal profile] charlie’s for lunch. They’d gotten out of hospital a couple of days ago, and were still a little fragile, but seemed massively happier than the last couple of times I’ve seen them, which was very pleasing to see.

I then had another session with the physio I saw a couple of weeks ago. After the first session I was absolutely amazed by how much difference he made to my back - I’d had a couple of days completely tension-free for the first time in months, and even after it started to creep back in, it was definitely less intrusive than it has been. This time he suggested trying acupuncture, which I’m quite sceptical of, but given his previous results I figured I’d give it a go. I’m still feeling kind of sceptical afterwards, but I’ll give it another couple of days to see how it feels then, and probably ask him to stick with the kinds of treatment he did from my first session in future.

Then home again, and more cooking until Stephani (winodw) and her newish partner Matthew arrived. I started with a failure, as she asked for a repeat of a cocktail I’d made her once before, but although we had all the relevant booze we were lacking apple juice. Oops. Still, we managed to find them something to drink, and I was pretty pleased with how the food came out. The new fella was quiet but charming, and they were adorkably coupley, which brought back fond memories of what Ramesh & I were like when we first got back together.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

Second of the Spatterjay (sub-)series in Asher's Polity universe. Takes place about ten years after the end of the previous book. We do, again, follow several different viewpoint characters, on all sorts of moral sides of any situation that may happen in the book. Some are returning characters, some are new.

I'd definitely recommend starting with the first book in the series, but all in all an eminently readable book.

Music meme: day 14 of 30

Jul. 21st, 2017 01:24 pm
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
[personal profile] liv
Here we go, the middle of the list hits A song that you would love played at your wedding.

As you probably know, I'm already married, and I had my wedding five years ago. wedding reminiscences plus video )

I have no intention of having any more weddings to choose music for. I'm already married, as are all my partners. And maybe poly people aren't supposed to say this, but I really think I've found my people and hope not to end or change my current relationships. Friends who have looked into these things in more detail think it's not actually illegal to have weddings, in the sense of ceremonies indicating lifelong romantic commitment, to more than one partner, as long as you don't try to register the relationship as a marriage for legal purposes. But I am not really sure of the details and anyway at the moment we don't have any desire to be married to more people than our existing spouses, even if it is (or became) legally ok.

It is fair to say that I never intended to get married the first time either, so maybe I'm wrong. I suppose we've vaguely talked about the possibility that those of us who are EU citizens may need to marry those who are not for immigration reasons and safety, but I really really really hope it doesn't come to that and if we were in that situation there wouldn't be any singing and dancing, just whatever paperwork we needed for survival. And hypothetically my current relationships might come to an end and then I might find a new person who really wanted to get married to me. But then the song I would choose would depend so much on the person and the circumstances that I can't really speculate what it would be, and I don't really want to because it involves imagining the ends of relationships I really want to keep.

I'm not in general a fan of the wedding tradition of the First Dance to a romantic song. Partly because I'm not much of a dancer, and partly because I think there are better ways to do symbolic consummation. And then finding a song which is lyrically appropriate is surprisingly hard; a lot of songs in the style that's appropriate to slow-dance to are really breakup songs, or at best they're hugely monogamy-assuming and heteronormative. As [personal profile] elf pointed out in this meme, a lot of poly-friendly songs are about casual hey we're just doing this as long as we both like it relationships, which is kind of wrong for a wedding.

I think it was [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait who pointed out that the most inappropriate possible song for a wedding is She moves through the fair, since it mentions our wedding day but primarily as a euphemism for death. I am very fond of it, mind you. And I have attended a wedding where the big romantic moment Song was Hey, that's no way to say goodbye by Leonard Cohen, which is a gorgeous song but way depressing if you go past the opening lines:
I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
Yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
In city and in forest they smiled like me and you


I never daydreamed about my ideal wedding when I was single, so I never had a concept in my mind of what song I would love played. If I happened to be in a relationship where we had a song that was meaningful to us as a couple, then perhaps I'd choose that, but I can't help myself thinking about the detailed interpretation of the words. So, just out of interest, do any of you know any songs which are good for weddings, talking about serious relationships but not about possessiveness? Or songs that are good for non-religious communal singing?

(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2017 12:53 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
15.A song that is a cover by another artist

oh, I know one for this!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo

Chis Hadfield sings space oddity.
emperor: (Default)
[personal profile] emperor
Fans of the coffee stall on the Cambridge market (link to my previous post on opening hours) may be interested to know that he doesn't seem to be open on Thursdays any more - AFAICT he's now Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat.

Not entirely co-incidentally, my coffee supplies are now rather low :(

(no subject)

Jul. 20th, 2017 05:19 pm
jayblanc: (Default)
[personal profile] jayblanc
Sadly the usual suspects on the Baen's Bar Politics Forum are reacting to reports about McCain's cancer in the exact way you would expect from a group that hates moderate Republicans more than they hate Democrats.

Music meme: day 13 of 30

Jul. 20th, 2017 04:32 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
I'm getting really behind the wave on this, aren't I? Still, there's more than one person still working through the list! Today is One of your favourite 70's songs. I'm not very good at knowing which songs come from which decade, and most of the music on my computer has really inaccurate metadata. But one song which I know is from the 70s, and which is definitely one of my favourites, is Go to Hell by Alice Cooper. I'm not sure if it's actually my favourite 70s song, but I really ought to have something by Alice Cooper in the meme.

I'm really very fond of Alice Cooper goes to Hell; it was my first encounter with the idea of a concept album. I especially love this opening track because it's a bit of (darkly) humorous intro, with the bathos of ridiculously specific examples of depravity:
You'd gift-wrap a leper and mail him to your aunt Jane
You'd even force feed a diabetic a candy cane


I often tell the story of how when I went to university I gained a certain amount of respect among the alternative crowd by explaining that Alice Cooper was in fact a ouijia board chosen stage name for a definitely male singer. Despite not looking like the sort of person who would know rock music trivia. But I love Alice Cooper for being so gloriously terrible, and occasionally coming out with works of sheer genius like Poison (not from the 70s) in among all the McGonagall stuff.

video embed (borderline NSFW) )

(no subject)

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:55 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
14.A song that you would love played at your wedding

Well, I decided that Castemere was inauspicious...

I rather like this for an entry.although it's rather long, I think I'd have to extract the theme.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfprcvuHoG8

(entry of the gods into valhalla, das rheingold WagnerL)

Hugos: Remaining finalists

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:30 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
I voted in several more categories, but eg in long form dramatic presentation, I didn't have a lot to say so I'm not going to try to recap it here.

Novellas

Ballard of Black Tom was a very moving Lovecraft inspired story, from the perspective of a black new yorker, it paints a great portrait of his day to day life in 1920s (?) NY, and his initially minor dealings in mythos stuff. It was quite creepy once it started, but I've still to read the more lovecraftian ending of the story.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe was *also* a very good Lovecraft inspired story, set in the dreamlands, and the travels of a professor at the newest university college, the women's only college, through strange parts of dream, weird gods, and eventually maybe the waking world.

Penric and the Shaman is enjoyable in all the ways you'd expect it to be if you've read other Chalion stories by Bujold. It says a little about shaman/demon interactions which was only incidentally touched on before, and has slightly more of a role for a Father-worshipping figure. But it doesn't add a lot new.

A Taste of Honey, I still need to read, but the cover is *gorgeous* and there's some good male/male flirting on the first page. I'm not sure how that's going to turn out.

This Census-Taker. Interesting worldbuilding, I'm not sure where it's going, I still need to finish it.

Best Novelette

“The Art of Space Travel” about a small cast of characters living and working near Heathrow, against a backdrop of a second Mars colony mission, 30 years after the first tragic failed attempt. I loved the character stuff, and background matter-of-fact look at a possible mars mission, although I wished they'd tied together more closely: I wanted to know more about the disaster, and the next mission. The title refers to the name of a textbook.

“The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon. All of her stories are pretty good, although I didn't love this as much as some of her others, despite being pretty good.

“Touring with the Alien”, an odd-job woman ends up with the role of taking reclusive alien visitors on a road trip to see some of earth. Interesting musings on free will etc even though I wasn't convinced where they ended up. Again, I loved the day-to-day interaction of the protagonist and the other characters.

“The Jewel and Her Lapidary”, interesting worldbuilding, but I need to see how this finishes up. Jewels were nobility of a hidden kingdom, who kept it secret safe and stable with various supernatural powers granted to them by gems, but could only be bestowed by Lapidary servants.

You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong. Something about a desert? It looked good but I couldn't get into it at all (sorry).

Lovely team!

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:34 am
wildeabandon: Champage bottle and flutes (champagne)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
Today is my last day at work before my holiday, and rather unexpectedly my team just came in and gave me an early birthday present (and sang at me). They got me a very goth card, a bread & cakes recipe book, and theatre tokens. Considering that I'm a temp and I've only been here for three months, I'm awfully pleased and surprised that they bothered at all, but especially that they seem to have got the measure of me quite so spot on. Lovely team :)
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