NCIS: LA and Agents of SHIELD

May. 29th, 2017 08:47 am
shallowness: John Reese and Zoe Morgan looking at a screen (POI Zoe and John at work)
[personal profile] shallowness
Well after anyone else I have started watching NCIS: LA. It’s not hard, along with all versions of CSI, Law & Order and the Chicago shows, Five/Five USA shows all the NCISs too. I avoided NCIS because of Michael Weatherly, tbh, and did not realise that they go undercover a lot in the spin-off. A LOT.

other thoughts )

Agents of SHIELD 4.18 No Regrets

Read more... )

This is not at ALL romantic

May. 28th, 2017 01:53 pm
[personal profile] miladygrey
Woke up on Friday morning with the achy limbs and scratchy throat that usually presage a cold. Went into work anyway, because I already took a personal day this week and there's stuff that needs doing. Aveline was dealing with mild food poisoning, so we both slogged through the day. I came home, took some cold medicine, and hoped I'd wake up Saturday morning ready for the holiday weekend.

A day and a half later, I think I have galloping consumption, and it sucks, and this is not a romantic thing in the slightest, 19th-Century Authors. I am coughing so hard and so badly that I've scared both cats, I am either shivering with fever or sweating through my T-shirt, Yeats has made two trips for various cough syrup/drops and ice cream and tea for my throat, we had to call out of Tall and Steff's annual Memorial Day shindig, and I live on the sofa now amid a scattering of handkerchiefs.

Have I mentioned how much I hate this? Because I HATE THIS.

Reading Log: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh; The Berlin Project by Gregory Benford; Star's End by Cassandra Rose Clarke; A Girl From Yamhill and My Own Two Feet by Beverly Cleary; The Purple Diaries by Joseph Egan; Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray; The Radium Girls by Kate Moore; Brimstone by Cherie Priest; The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

Church notes - 28th May 2017

May. 28th, 2017 06:09 pm
[personal profile] fardell24
The Church notes from the 28th May without those from the rest of the month.
A Day of Hope )
[personal profile] lizbee
The first episode of the season which hasn't thrilled me, but I liked it better than some.

'I got your spoilers cheap.' )
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[personal profile] ladyherenya
The Pearl Thief is a prequel to Elizabeth Wein’s brilliant Code Name Verity. I can imagine that it would work perfectly well as a standalone, but a lot of its poignancy comes from knowing what happens later. If one read The Pearl Thief without having read, or immediately reading, Code Name Verity, then one wouldn’t be able to appreciate some of the foreshadowing nor the significance of getting to fill in some gaps about Julie and her family. That was what I loved most about it.

The Pearl Thief )


The Griffin Mage trilogy - Lord of the Changing Winds, Land of the Burning Sands, Law of the Broken Earth )


The other stories from The Moorland Cottage and Other Stories )


Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 )

Safe Haven

May. 25th, 2017 11:55 am
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[personal profile] swan_tower

Over the past few months I worked my way through the five seasons of the TV show Haven. In its core structure, it’s basically Yet Another Procedural: each week there’s a mystery, the heroes investigate, the mystery is solved by the end of the episode. But the premise of this one is speculative — an FBI agent discovers weird things going on in a small Maine town — and spec-fic shows usually pair their procedural-ness with at least some degree of metaplot, which I find myself really craving these days. So I figured I would give it a shot.

And for the most part, the structure is indeed conventional. Weird Thing Happens. Audrey Parker (the FBI agent) and Nathan Wuornos (the local cop) investigate. The problem is inevitably being caused by the Troubles, a set of supernatural afflictions that plague many residents of Haven. Our heroes find the Troubled person responsible —

— and then they help that person.

I mean, every so often they do have to arrest somebody or it even ends in death. But overwhelmingly, the focus is on solving the Troubles, not punishing them. In many cases, the person responsible doesn’t realize they’re the source of that week’s weird thing; when they do know, they’re often terrified and unable to stop their Trouble from hurting people. These supernatural abilities trigger because of emotional stimuli, so week after week, you watch Audrey untangle the threads of someone’s psychology until she figures out that they need to accept the fact that a loved one is gone or reconcile with an estranged friend or admit the secret that’s eating away at them, and when they do, their Trouble lets go.

It is amazingly refreshing, after all the procedural shows I’ve seen that involve people with guns using those guns to solve their problems. (There’s a key moment late in the series when the entire Haven PD gets sent out to manage a big outburst of Troubles, and they literally get a speech from the police chief about how the people causing problems aren’t the enemy and need to be helped, not beaten down.) In fact, it’s so refreshing that I was willing to forgive the show’s other flaws. The scripts are often no better than okay, and for the first four seasons the characters are remarkably incurious about the metaplot: they accept that the Troubles show up every twenty-seven years, Audrey is somehow connected to them, etc, but it takes them forever to get around to asking why, much less making a serious effort to find the answers. (In the fifth season the show dives headfirst into the metaplot, and the results are less than satisfying.) Furthermore, if you’re looking for characters of color, you basically won’t find them here. Haven does a pretty poor job in general with secondary characters, often getting rid of them after one season; I can only think of two people who get added to the cast after the first episode that stick around instead of getting booted out of the plot.

But the character dynamics are pretty engaging, some of the episodes have a pretty clever premise . . . and it’s a show about helping people. About resolving problems through addressing their underlying causes. About how, if somebody has a Trouble but they’ve figured out ways to manage it without hurting anybody, you clap them on the back and move on to someone who’s having more difficulty. There’s a good-hearted quality to the show’s basic concept that kept me interested even when I could have been watching something with better dialogue but less compassion.

More compassion, please. We need it.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Going to Wiscon after all

May. 25th, 2017 01:27 pm
pameladean: (Default)
[personal profile] pameladean
No doubt I should have posted something earlier, but we've had memberships and a hotel room for the past several years and yet it was not actually feasible to go. But this year, if I get off the computer and finish my lunch and finish packing, Eric and I will be at Wiscon. We hope to arrive in time for the Gathering, or a good portion of it.

Pamela
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[personal profile] lizbee
Title: Detour
Author: LizBee
Fandom: Legend of Korra
Characters and Pairing: Lin/Tenzin
Rating: All-ages

Summary: A few months ago, Lin was a promising young police officer. Now she has to find a new path.

Notes: Set in the same AU as "Avalanche". It's called the President Beifong AU on AO3, even though I haven't really gotten to any of the presidential stuff yet. This fic comes with thanks to multivitamins and praticamente-innocua, which between them gave me the strength to start recovering from The Cold I've Had Since March.

While the welcoming party's attention was on the Avatar, Lin climbed gingerly down from Appa and all but collapsed in Tenzin's arms. )

DC stuff (links and Smallville season 5)

May. 25th, 2017 06:30 am
shallowness: Five panels featuring pictures of different female characters based on my interests at the time. (Default)
[personal profile] shallowness
On Tuesday, in the middle of all the horrible news, it was announced that Joss Whedon will be taking over directing duties on Justice League from Zach Snyder for tragic reasons. Obviously, one hopes that this helps a grieving family heal.

Wonder Woman (please be good! Not that I saw the show or read the comics, but as a woman who goes to see comic book movies, we're due one about a superheroine that's good) is occupying my brain more. But apparently the news about the merchandise isn't great.


Anyway, I’m watching Smallville season 5 for the first time on DVD. (I’ve been spoiled for a few big things on the show over the years. And the next DVD boxset I will go through will be a better show, but I’m watching it with much nostalgia for my experiences of the fandom for the first year or two. Quick recap: CHLOE.)

The colour palate is very striking, coming off the greys of metal, glass, stone and shadows of Person of Interest. I’m also rewatching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies right now, which has the blues and greys of the sea and brown and black of the ships, so the warm, bright, sun-kissed hues of Smallville, where everyone’s outfits are colour-coded, jumped out at me.


spoilers up to 5.4 )

I should probably update this

May. 24th, 2017 07:46 pm
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[personal profile] waiting4morning
I keep forgetting I have a dreamwidth journal now. I'd fallen out of the habit of updating LJ, but I'd like to get back into the habit of blogging every now and then. It seems like a good habit for a wannabe writer to have, and maybe good for my own self talking.

Been thinking a lot about mental health lately and how annoying my own issues are. I mean, one of the worst things for me, at least, is that it’s so variable.

Someone has a broken arm, it’s obvious: you’re in intense pain and an x-ray will clearly show what’s wrong.

But depression and anxiety? Depression is a sneaky SOB. Depression is my friend who literally couldn’t get out of bed for weeks, who had to get electro-shock therapy or whatever it is because meds weren’t working. Anxiety is my other friend who literally cannot look at test results for her grad school program without someone sitting beside her.

Me? I just feel sort of crappy on and off all day. I still function, l still eat, I still work, and I still enjoy things. I have no desire to stop living or anything like that. But in between? I just feel sort of irritated, cynical, and mopey all the time.

And then it’ll vanish for a few hours and things feel great, and I think, “gee, stupid hormones lol.”

I finally broke down and called my doctor, asking if I could go back on Lexapro. That was two weeks ago, I think? Said to visit her if I wasn't feeling better by 3-6 weeks.

I hope it works. I'm tired of not feeling normal, though, if one thing this journey has taught me, I've been dealing with anxiety and maybe this low-key depression most of my life and never figured it out until thyroid issues blew them up.

Well, that was a bit much for a first post. Oops.
[personal profile] eight_of_cups
Oops, I'm talking about friendship again. Let's take the traditional pause for all my longtime friends to groan.

[pause] And also with you.

So a couple of years ago I wrote a meditation on Friendship and Eros as motive forces in stories, which you can read if you like, but here's the gist.

In stories, romantic love (eros) tends to function on a mythic level to signify healing or mending something that was broken; representative reconciliation; and redemption for one or both of the characters. So much so that when we read or watch a story that has no romantic love, or in which romantic love is unfulfilled, we are tempted to think that the characters have missed their chance (sometimes literally!) at salvation. Or that the universe the story takes place in is still broken.

Likewise in stories, friendship functions to signify that which is unbroken or in some cases unbreakable. If you have a friend, you discover that something is right with the world, that something is right with yourself, that there is a part of you that doesn't need fixing, or that makes fixing the broken part worthwhile. A story about friendship isn't a story about redemption, it's a story about vindication. A universe with friendship in it speaks of stability in spite of the odds. Friendship is relief from a siege, a cleared path in a lane of mines, a point of perception that bypasses and sometimes even neutralizes chaos.

The point is, we want out of stories what we want out of the world. Here follows some aro patriotism )

All this is by way of saying that I just finished Megan Whalen Turner's Thick as Thieves, and now that I've resurrected myself from a death of flailing squee, I'm perpendicular enough to cry out my gratitude to MWT for writing in these times a book that is a paean to friendship. In a series that affirms friendship with its true mythical strength.

Spoilers, obviously )

No mode of human love is watertight; and we wouldn't want it to be. But mythically speaking, we need robust, physical, unabashedly equal friendship, not just for the aromantic among us, but for everybody who wants breathing room for the love they love best.

There, that should do it for another couple of years.
[personal profile] swan_tower

If you’re like me, the phrase “Orpheus myth in space” gets your immediate attention. Here’s Jessica Reisman to tell us about the spark that brought Substrate Phantoms to life!

*

cover to SUBSTRATE PHANTOMS by Jessica ReismanSubstrate Phantoms had a long road to publication, so I’ve had to cast my mind back to remember the original writing and when the fire seemed to catch. I already had my far future science fiction universe, the Aggregate, in which I’ve had several stories and my first novel (so long ago now that Substrate gets to be a new debut), and had been playing around with the idea of the Orpheus myth in space, a kind of ‘don’t look back’ when a character is fleeing a space station, trying to save a loved one.

That was all very well, but things weren’t really taking any compelling shape. It was with the haunting of the space station that the first sign of heat flared up. A kind of film reel unfurled in my mind, of powerful images and feelings having to do with the intersection of technology and futurity with superstition and our need for the kind of possibility inherent in the more inward, arcane, and irrational side of our natures. Where these elements—often set in opposition—cross is a deep vein of story for me.

It was a pretty potent unfurling of image and feeling, that film reel. It had what felt like the whole story—and more—within it. My writing process is what we sometimes call “organic.” The initial phase of image, feeling, and story arc is like a seed for me, a tiny, dense ball of potential in which the story exists. To maul the metaphor, note-making, research, background work, and world building are all preparing the ground, planting, and fertilizing; the actual searching march of words onto page is when the growth begins and the story stretches toward its shape.

So there was the spark of the haunted space station—a usefully compelling elevator pitch, but what now? I think it leapt into full conflagration when I found the opening of the first chapter:

Revelation deck rested currently in station shadow, spangled in reflections off the solar collectors. Long glimmers cut through the high dim space in a slow dance. Revelation deck was a big space with open gridwork, gridwork being the bones of station superstructure hidden on other decks. Tall viewports and a lack of adult traffic made it a favorite haunt of station kids, four of whom sat clustered under a twenty-foot span of the grid arch. Likely there was someplace they were supposed to be, and strict regulations said they shouldn’t be there, but it was a regulation never enforced.

Jhinsei, two-thirds of the way through sitting a shift at the automated shuttle monitors, liked the murmur of voices. He had been such a kid himself, not too many years past, listening to tales on Revelation; besides, they lessened the loneliness of the cavernous deck.

Revelation deck, far future space station, kids telling stories, future and past: it makes friction for me and, voila, sparks!

*

From the cover copy:

The space station Termagenti—hub of commerce, culture, and civilization—may be haunted. Dangerous power surges, inexplicable energy manifestations, and strange accidents plague the station. Even after generations of exploring deep space, humanity has yet to encounter another race, and yet, some believe that what is troubling the station may be an alien life form.

Jhinsei and his operations team crawl throughout the station, one of many close-knit working groups that keep Termagenti operational. After an unexplained and deadly mishap takes his team from him, Jhinsei finds himself—for lack of a better word—haunted by his dead teammates. In fact, they may not be alone in taking up residence in his brain. He may have picked up a ghost—an alien intelligence that is using him to flee its dying ship. As Jhinsei struggles to understand what is happening to his sanity, inquisitive and dangerous members of the station’s managing oligarchy begin to take an increasingly focused interest in him.

Haunted by his past and the increasing urgent presence of another within his mind, Jhinsei flees the station for the nearby planet Ash, where he undertakes an exploration that will redefine friend, foe, self, and other. With Substrate Phantoms, Jessica Reisman offers an evocative and thought-provoking story of first contact, where who we are is questioned as much as who they might be.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo | Publisher

*

Jessica Reisman’s stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. A three-time Michener Fellow, she has been writing her own brand of literary science fiction and fantasy for many years. Jessica has lived in Philadelphia, parts of Florida, California, and Maine, and been employed as a house painter, blueberry raker, art house film projectionist, glass artist’s assistant, English tutor, teaching assistant, and editor, among other things. She dropped out of high school and now has a master’s degree. She makes her home in Austin, Texas, where well-groomed cats, family, and good friends grace her life with their company. Find out more at her site.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Drive-by Rec

May. 23rd, 2017 06:47 pm
kerravonsen: Three penguins around the TARDIS: Adoration of the Penguini (tardis-penguins)
[personal profile] kerravonsen
The Timeline of River Song; beautifully edited clipshow of River Song's appearances in chronological order.

Catching up on New Worlds

May. 22nd, 2017 12:57 pm
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

I’ve been very remiss in linking to my New Worlds posts over on the Book View Cafe blog (brought to you by my lovely Patreon backers). Here’s the full lineup to date:

If that stuff looks good to you, please consider becoming a backer!

And, for a bonus: I’ve been neglecting the Dice Tales community on Imzy, but I put up a new post today ranting about how combat-oriented rules can screw over plot.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

A day of one's own

May. 22nd, 2017 09:08 am
[personal profile] miladygrey
Someday I will not be tired, but it is not this day.

Weekend was a smash, don't get me wrong. We went to the release party--two debut authors, Yeats promoting Stillbright, and the lovely Tara with her second short-stoty collection--and it was a blast. Instead of nasty weather and people milling around an art gallery, this year it was the entire second floor of a local pub, so there was beer and cupcakes and a 14-piece swing band that actually convinced Yeats to dance. And all our friends came, because they are awesome, and we partied all night, and Mr. Kramer the audiobook narrator came and said some very complimentary things to Yeats (audiobook will be available for purchase tomorrow, btw!), and many books were sold.

And then we came home yesterday and got nothing done because we were exhausted. And I woke up this morning knowing I'd need to go to the grocery store and other errands after work and probably wouldn't get home 'till seven or later, and there's still laundry to do, and the house is a mess...

So I texted Aveline and asked for a personal day, which she was kind enough to agree to. Now I have the day to do my errands, do some cleaning, have some time that is not shared with anyone but myself (I love Yeats, but after three days of near-constant togetherness...), and maaaaybe watch the last episode of "Anne with an E", if I get enough stuff done.

House looks like it's actually happening! The roof issue is still an issue, but it does not need to be fixed immediately, there is no imminent danger of leaks or collapse or anything, so we accepted the offer of a couple K off the house price. Now, this caused some adjustments to be made in the loan, and we'll be paying another chunk of change out of pocket. But we have the funds to do so, Yeats' mom is contributing some money from an old life insurance policy, my folks have said that my birthday gift this year can be whatever monies and/or household items we may need, and every single one of our friends has offered to come help with moving, unpacking, or organizing. Because, as I mentioned, our friends are great.

I am exhausted and stressed, but in a good way, I think.

Reading Log: Little White Lies by Ace Atkins; Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile; City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett; Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker; Death's Mistress by Karen Chance; Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar; Snared by Jennifer Estep; Passing Strange by Ellen Klages; Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older; If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio; Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld

Fic post: Debriefing

May. 21st, 2017 02:40 pm
eight_of_cups: (Default)
[personal profile] eight_of_cups
Gosh, looks like I haven't written any fic in a year. Been pouring everything into achieving a first whole draft of ye olde Original Project. I'm in the homestretch with that, but couldn't resist writing a snippet of missing-scene fic for Thick as Thieves, because the rest of my response is pretty much just copious flailing. Lots and lots of flailing.

So here it is:

Debriefing

Needless to say, here be spoilers.

Dogskull Etc

May. 21st, 2017 02:26 pm
tkingfisher: (Default)
[personal profile] tkingfisher

Lord, there's so many things I keep meaning to blog about and then I get distracted. And then I'm like "I must blog about this thing!" and remember that I didn't blog about the other thing and then it just becomes easier to go play Dragon Age for awhile.

But! Dogskull Patch is still mine!




After careful perusal of the house, it's best treated with a bulldozer, I think. Clearing out the junk--and there is so much junk--is just not feasible with my available manpower. Also some large animal has been inside. I choose to believe that it is a dog. Thinking about the alternative sources of the poop in the corner is a little more than I wish to deal with.

Also, the house has bees! There is a feral hive living in the wall (and maybe the attic) of honeybees! Which I think is actually REALLY REALLY COOL, since there aren't supposed to be very many wild hives in NC anymore owing to colony collapse. A Master Beekeeper and his apprentice are supposed to come out and investigate the possibilities of getting them out, since I flatly refuse to destroy a honeybee hive, even if it's holding up work.

This weekend we took out a lot of little weed trees. There's some hundred-year-old white oak that will be touched over my dead body, but some of the scruffy Carolina blackcherry (edible but unexciting) and the privet and five million loblolly and blackjack oak seedlings can come out. My buddy Krin went through the aerial photos going back to '79 and figured out that the back forty (or I guess back five, in this case) had been harvested at least once, which would explain why all the pines are growing like that.

I've been reading up on the local soil and poring over historical maps. This sort of thing is weirdly fun for me, but it's a bit late to switch careers to agronomy and also my agent would nail my head to her wall as a warning to other authors. There is a TINY patch of "silt loam" in this chunk of the county, and Dogskull Patch is literally sitting square on top of it. (And when I say "tiny" I mean "my neighbors have only a couple yards of it, and the back 40 is something else entirely.") When I was excavating some holes, I was very puzzled by the dirt--it was incredibly fine, almost like ash. It reminded me of porcelain clay. Apparently that is what "silt loam" is like.

(It's on the high point of a low hill. Not that you can really tell, in the middle of the woods, but a chunk of Dogskull is literally the highest point, by a couple feet, of the surrounding area. I'd guess that's why the silt is still there, and didn't get carried off by erosion.)

According to the county soil maps--and I had no idea that the geologic surveys ran so precise!--Dogskull Patch and environs is "prime farmland of state concern." I assume that means "If anyone cared about dirt the way that dirt should be cared about, they would beg to keep Dogskull as farmland, not vanish under tract housing." On the other hand, it was a tobacco farm, and tobacco farming is REALLY hard on soil. So at best guess--beautiful soil treated cruelly, now with a load of trees.

I must remind myself that it has taken care of itself for many years now, and that anything I can do to help is merely a bonus. I am not saving it, except perhaps from developers. I am merely improving small bits and making it more itself. Otherwise the monumental SIZE of the task and the sheer weight of responsibility would crush me flat. (My buddy Foxfeather advised me of this, and I am grateful. It was excellent advice.)

So, we took out some of the trees and dragged them over close to the property line to build a hugulkultur bed there. A large enough one will function as a berm and I can plant trees on the far side to help block the line. I'd like to put in a seriously gnarly hedgerow there, maybe with some Osage orange. Hedgerows are great habitat and the orange is one of the few more-or-less-native plants that will potentially keep out feral hogs.

But that's awhile in the future. Everything is in the future. Meanwhile, in other news I work on the next Hamster Princess, have no idea what to work on for my next T. Kingfisher (there's at least two novels and one novella that aren't too far off, but none of them have hit a tipping point in my brain) and am suffering the massive productivity loss that is afflicting most of the creative people I know in this political climate. Also my stepfather keeps having heart attacks and winding up in the hospital with increasingly dramatic pulmonary failings--"THREE aortic aneurysms! Two blocked arteries! How are you ALIVE, sir?" but is about as interested in human company as the aforementioned feral hog, so I am in the grim stage of waiting by the phone to hear that he has finally keeled over so that I can swing into action. This is horrifically stressful, but he's nearly eighty and has certainly earned the right to die alone while fly-fishing if he so chooses, and for all I know, could still outlive me.

(I am at that stage where I do not feel guilty about thinking such thoughts, nor am I feeling guilty about not feeling guilty, but, in somewhat meta fashion, am feeling vaguely guilty that I am not feeling guilty about not feeling guilty. "If I was really a good person, I would at least question that I am not at all guilty about this!" This is a complex emotional knot best severed with hard manual labor and tequila.)

I am writing this while sitting out in the garden. My beloved backyard garden is really shining this year. I am proud and grateful to it. It exudes peace, and for once I can actually appreciate that, instead of rampaging around trying to change bits. I think it's mostly done (ha ha) and while I have lots of things to tweak, stones to add, etc, the bones are all there and not likely to change tomorrow, so I can sit and relax in it and admire the beans and the iris and the potatoes in their grow bags.

Anyway. Life keeps keeping on.

Recs (2/2)

May. 21st, 2017 08:56 am
shallowness: Black and white close up of Natasha's tilted face (Natasha Avengers intensity)
[personal profile] shallowness
Fics and fanvids in the following fandoms: Marvel Cinematic/Galactic Universe, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sense and Sensibility (1995), Singin' in the Rain, Sherlock, Sky High, Strictly Come Dancing, The Thin Man, The West Wing, While You Were Sleeping and Zootropolis/Zootopia.

Read more... )

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