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Feb. 9th, 2016

bright shiny futures

I read a couple of books.

Books seem like a reasonable way to get back into the swing of writing on Livejournal. I thought about starting this from January, but I realized I can't remember what I read in January and what in December at this point, and I don't know that there's really anything I want to talk about in there anyway, except maybe The Shepherd's Crown, and I'm not sure there's much to say about that anyway. So I'm just going to start with February. Anyway, the main reason I'm starting this is I read hamsterwoman's giant review of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen which made me want to talk about it myself.

i) Agatha Christie, Sleeping Murder. I'd read this before; I'm pretty sure I read all of the Miss Marples when I went on a giant kick when I was eleven. I hadn't picked any of them up since then, but it was still pretty familiar. This all started with a discussion with mrissa a few weeks ago about Grimdark, and eventually post-Grimdark, and I'm not sure quite how I got to the point of expressing confidence that there was rom for cozy mysteries in Grimdark universes, but I thought that was a very appealing idea, and like most of those that I get I wandered off never expecting to think about it again. But then we spent a long weekend at a lodge in northern Minnesota with moiread, chinders, tiger_spot, brooksmoses, suzanne, and andres_s_p_b, and Sleeping Murder was right there on the bookshelf in my bedroom. (Along with Kindred and Zodiac, among other strange selections.) So I read it, and I had thinky thoughts, and now I've embarked on reading A Game of Thrones for the first time to see if anything sparks. So far I'm hating the prose style enough that I doubt I will even get through it, but we'll see.

The book itself wasn't really all that worth mentioning. This was Christie's last novel, and fairly off from the Miss Marple forumla; she hardly gets to do any detecting, and doesn't get to speechify at all about how obviously she knows so much because of her small-town observations of human nature. She wasn't especially necessary to the book.

ii) Lois McMaster Bujold, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. This was the book I wanted, much like Captain Vorpatril's Alliance was, and I wonder if it will be as much less the book anyone else wanted as that one. We've got these two influential series, the Miles books and the Vlad books, which are all about learning how to grow up well, which is great as far as they go. But I've been poking around for a bit for a few years now, looking for the books which are the equivalent to that for already being a grownup, without a lot of success. Janet Kagan's Mirabile is great for that, but there's only one of it. The secondary plot in Growing Up Weightless speaks to me on that level, but that's kind of creepy. papersky's My Real Children is close, but that's not really what Jo was doing there; similarly the better Colin Cotterills. So I'm pretty happy that Lois went and wrote one. Like most of her books I'll probably have to go through it more than once before it really soaks in.

As a book itself it spoilersCollapse )

Feb. 8th, 2016

Forward Momentum

It's late and there is so much to catch up on.

Twitter's switch to achronology has me thinking of returning to LJ, which remains pretty much the perfect platform for what I want out of social media, apart from there not being very many people here anymore. My LJ is not itself all that appealing a place for new people any more, especially since all of the old photos are now dead links. I have to give some thought on what to do about that. And whether I can afford to procrastinate enough to actually do anything at all. My major project of the last four months has entered the public record phase of its existence, so I can actually talk about it now, if I can find the time. Plenty of other stuff to talk about too, but I actually have to organize it, sometime when I'm more awake than now.

Jan. 1st, 2016

Helo: in command

A short note.

I'm caught up and declaring Inbox Zero for 2016. If I still owe you email, I've lost track of it and you should remind me.

Nov. 19th, 2015

Goodnight Dune

On conventions and various -bilities of importance.

So, World Fantasy time wasn't that long ago, which means that accessibility for the disabled is a hot topic again because World Fantasy can't seem to stop screwing it up. This seems to have boiled down to Mary Robinette Kowal making an Accessibility Pledge to only attend conventions with accessibility policies and trained staff members, and many other people signing on to this. Which is all well and good as far as it goes. It might even do something about this immediate problem. But it doesn't do anything about the more general problem.

I'm hesitant to weigh in on this, because I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be attending any more conventions. (And you're about to find out some of why.) But what bothers me, as both a disabled and an organizational person, about what happened to Mari Ness at World Fantasy is not that they failed to have wheelchair access to her stage, the first time it happened. The temptation is to add "however many years ago that was," but you know, even this year. Sometimes you forget things, sometimes things slip through the cracks. Mistakes happen, and it's OK for them to happen as long as you admit they were mistakes and do something about it.

The problem is that they were unwilling to do that. They said "we're not going to get you a ramp," which, OK, maybe on some level the immediacy made that impractical. And then they said "we're not going to get you a ramp tomorrow either." Their solution to the problem was to make Mari and her fellow panelists come up with a work around for the problem on their own. And that is not acceptable, for reasons having nothing to do with disability specifically, and it is not something that can be fixed by demanding a policy on the thing that happened to go wrong this year, because something else is always going to go wrong next year, something you don't have a policy for yet. And then we end up in a cycle. People in this field already have a portfolio of policies they require of conventions, and pretty soon it's going to be a filing cabinet, because it's about putting bandaids on symptoms and not addressing the core problem.

And what if next year's issue is something that doesn't have a substantial, loud consitutency? Sexual harassment was going on at conventions for a long time before anyone actually started listening to the people being harassed and demanding that something be done about it. What is the thing now that sexual harassment was thirty years ago, that is harming someone and everyone is willing to blow off? (My own experience suggests that taking advantage of artists is one of those things. One of the things in my portfolio of policies that I won't be attending a convention without in the future is one where they pay their artists fairly.)

I want a convention which says "We will get you a ramp," whatever the equivalent of the ramp is that year, whether there's a social media constituency for ramps or not.

I want a convention which, when it unexpectedly makes a profit, doesn't decide to stick its guests with their expenses after enjoying all the benefits of a collaborative relationship.

I want a convention which, when it notices that it comped travel and rooms for some people for the same job other people were volunteering for and paying extra hotel for without any of those people's knowledge, apologizes and makes restitution.

It's not about accessibility, it's about responsibility. And I've come to the conclusion that if I want that convention, it's not going to happen in science fiction. Maybe I'm wrong. But I've seen enough of this cycle now, and I don't want to be in it any more. 

Oct. 14th, 2015



So, the Amirah book is now available on Amazon! Actual book! Many many photos of a baby tapir! Support for me doing more weird projects like this in the future!

For local people, they'll also be available directly through me, though I don't have my copies yet. It looks like I will have them tomorrow.

Oct. 10th, 2015


Things are happening, projects abound.

There's been a lot of doing stuff and not a lot of posting about it. So. I guess this is an attempt to dump it all off at once.

Spring was chaos. Summer was more pleasant chaos. I kind of threw myself headlong into learning stuff as a coping device, and it worked amazingly well. I came out of it not only with several new skills, one of which (screenprinting) I'm very enthusiastic about, but with a lot better understanding of some of the ways in which my process is broken, and considerably more direction. I've decided that most of my effort should be going into taking my publishing company more seriously; we've got two books coming out next week, and a big ongoing project aiming to launch the first of the year.

One of those books is my second:


More details about that soon.

I also have six landscape photos in a show at the Hastings Art Center until November 8, and on Monday I'll be hanging fourteen of The Reader at Hudson Hospital in Hudson, WI, which will be there until mid-January; there's a reception on November 13th. I'm administrating a bunch of stuff for our new Eagan artist's collective, Eagan Artist Connect, including a Community-Supported Art project for next summer. We're also having an art sale on November 21st, so I'm putting together inventory for that.

So, busy. It's enjoyable actually having lots of directed stuff to do; It's been a long time since that happened for me.

Sep. 23rd, 2015




Sep. 12th, 2015


What's your favorite Reader?

So, I'm putting together next month's show of The Reader that's going to be at Hudson Hospital, and I'm trying to figure out what's going to go in it, so I thought I would ask you for your opinions.

I know it's going to include The Witch's Hat, The Anderson Center, Palais des Congres, and American Swedish Institute, but I need about ten more. You can see almost all of them here.

Jul. 19th, 2015

tori imposters

Necessary scenes and Empire of the Sun.

So, a common bit of writing advice is to omit any scenes that are unnecessary. We've been talking about this in my rather intense comic book writing class at MCAD, and everyone seems to be on board with this actually being a stylistic choice, but it's been an interesting discussion, partly because that group is very fractured in terms of common references, and we end up talking about movies a lot. So I was thinking along those lines when rewatching Empire of the Sun tonight.

And the thing is, Empire of the Sun is a great movie, and also a good movie. It's both poignant and beautiful. But every scene in it is a non sequitur. The plot only makes any sense when interpreted through the theme. And there's only one scene in the movie that's actually necessary - the last one, when Jim reunites with his parents. And you could probably do without that one, though that would be significant stunt-writing. But you could replace every other scene in the movie with a different scene from Jim's life and tell the exact same story.

Even if you want to keep the shape of the plot the same, you only add four more scenes: the scene where Jim meets Frank and Basie, the scene where Basie gets beaten by the kendo club, the scene where Jim discovers Basie has left the camp without him, and Mrs. Victor's death, total of maybe ten minutes out of a 150-minute movie. The real story isn't the narrative plot but the psychological plot, and that's told more or less entirely in vignettes that could very easily be replaced by different vignettes.

The decision of which vignettes to use is a terribly interesting one, and one I dont have a good handle on. Writing from theme might be the hardest starting point. Also, I haven't read the book, which I really need to do at some point. But it's a thought that's worth further thinking, and seemed like a good thing to make a post about.

May. 19th, 2015


One-question personality quiz.

If you knew you would be exactly as interesting in ten years as you are now, you would find that:

As expected
Something else I will explain in comments.

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