Tag Archives: apropos of nothing

Second beach read

I’ve had Our Kind of Traitor to be read since the beginning of summer.  I meant to read it in time to see the movie, but I missed the movie in theaters and have only just finished reading the book.

It was…kind of a drudge.  I mean, it wasn’t badly written, in terms of language and narrative.  It was just dour in the way that Le Carre is.  He’s got a particular world view that is present in all of his work as far as I can tell.  (Or maybe just the few books I’ve tried?)  And I find it to be less than engaging; it seems (to me) replete with casual misogyny, classism/racism, and a sort of Cold War remnant worldview.  All of the characters in this book were cliches or stereotypes.  There was an arc of sorts but little or no resolution.  I need to remember in future that he’s not to my taste.

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Apprentice in Death by JD Robb

Why can’t I quit this series?  The story lines are stale or recycled.  The editing is sloppy.  Meh.

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Today’s beach events have me wondering if social scientists have looked at beach etiquette.  There are square miles of empty beach; why drop your umbrella two feet away from a stranger’s umbrella?  Cell phones mean you can have that conversation anywhere; but should you have a conversation about what sounds like confidential work stuff while screaming over the waves and gulls on a beach full of strangers? What is the psychology or sociology that has people do this kind of stuff?  Or smoke on the beach, or track sand on someone else’s blankets/towels, or play a radio without earbuds, etc?

One of my beachy neighbors failed to secure their umbrella today.  As the wind picked up, the umbrella took off, whacking me in the throat with the pointy end hard enough to knock me down (I was standing and didn’t see it coming until the last moment).  The underside of my chin has a huge welt, along with my cheek and the side of my neck, despite icing.  I’ve got a weird throat/ear ache and it kind of hurts to swallow.  If it still hurts in the morning, I may try to get a doctor’s appointment and head home early 😦

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ETA: I’ve finished listening to the first of five sections of Middle March.  The sections are based on size/time, not by chapter or book section.  But it’s still further than I’ve ever managed to get when attempting to read it in paper or ebook.  I like the reader’s voice, but I don’t really care about any of the characters so far.

 

 

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Random housekeeping

I was poking around in WordPress and wound up on the page that tells me about visitors and which posts are popular.  It’s an odd combination of posts, to be honest:  a cranky post about the difference between bequest (noun!) and bequeath (verb!) and a review of Black Wade, a graphic novel, which I had kind of forgotten about.  Black Wade is by far the most popular post I’ve ever written, which is kind of ironic since it’s not a post I put a huge amount of effort or thought into.

Seeing the stats made me go see if I still had it on my bookshelf.  Yes, there is was, sitting next to my Firefly graphic novels and also one of the early Mercedes Thompson graphic novels.  But, wow, has it *not* aged well for me.  In fact, re-reading it gave me a serious squick.  It’s going in the discard pile, although I’m not sure if it is appropriate for donation to the library or what.

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Reading ennui

My reading ennui continues.  After failed the fifty page test; the writing read as elementary to me and the POV was childish, even for NA.  Next?  That’s the problem, there’s nothing I want to read.

I wandered around B&N today with book money and a coupon for 20% off burning a hole in my pocket, metaphorically speaking.  They had a gigantic teen section with separate subsections for PNR/fantasy, general, and romance.  The mystery and romance sections were maybe half of what they used to be.  None of the authors I was looking for were in stock:  none of CS Harris’s backlist, no Ilona Andrews, the third book in Leckie’s series but neither of the other two, etc.  I could, of course, order them from B&N.  Or I could order them from Amazon for less and have them arrive sooner.  Or I could spend my time doing something other than reading, which is most likely to happen.

This is how a life-long reader stops being a reader and how B&N loses business.

D:

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The Martian was pretty good.

I’m interested in seeing Sufragette, despite the fact that Carey Mulligan is the main character.  (She seems really one note to me in all the roles I’ve seen her in.)  But Meryl Streep.

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We sing songs about our friends in E Minor

I finished The Moor’s Account, which Rosario recommended.  I liked it pretty well, mostly because the POV was novel.

At the library today, I picked up a copy of After by Anna Todd; it’s New Adult, which is not my favorite sub-genre, but the fact that its tag line is “wattpad sensation” caught my attention.

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I’m so ready for hockey season to start tomorrow night.  My first game is next week.  And I’ve got tickets for an NWHL game 🙂

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Saw Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls at Rams Head Live on Saturday and the 9:30 Club on Sunday.  Beans on Toast and Skinny Lister opened;  I’d seen BoT before but never Skinny Lister.  I think their sound suits FT better than the other second acts I’ve seen at his shows before, which struck as a little too metal to be consistent with the sounds of BoT and FT.  And I was pretty entertained by the squeeze box/accordion player, who rocked out, and the upright bass player who crowdsurfed during one song.  I liked the set list slightly better on Saturday (it included “Eulogy”, “Worse Things Happen at Sea”, and “One Foot Before the Other”) than Sunday but enjoyed both shows.  The sound was better at the 9:30 Club; at Rams Head, the bass and drums made the lyrics a little hard to distinguish some times, at least I found it so up on the balcony rather than down on the floor.  I love that there is a tour flag traveling to all the tour stops independent of the band; it goes via fans.  The dude who brought it to DC was in front of me in the line to get into the show.  [I’m looking at his other tour stops and thinking hard about road trips.  But since he’s going west, it’s probably not going to happen; if he were going up or down the east coast, I’d be seriously tempted.]

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On fractures and changing communities

Superlibrarian wrote a really good post on the fracturing of the Romland online community last week, and Sunita followed it up with a second post.  I don’t have anything material to add to their posts or the thoughtful comments.

Both posts made me think about my participation in the community online over the last several years. (Dear godlings, I just checked my archive, I’ve been blogging intermittently since 2005…I am a crone in internet years.)  Some very thoughtful reader-bloggers have come and gone as I’ve stood on the sidelines.  (I hope they left in good health and are doing well in real life, and just left Romland as their interest/time waned, but don’t always know.)  Other bloggers, like Superlibrarian and Rosario, just keep reviewing with a consistency that I find amazing.  AAR went from being Laurie Gold’s to not.  ATBF changed its board/commenting.  Authors had message boards that got closed down due to flame wars.  First the big blog platforms were LiveJournal and Blogger, and then it was WordPress.

Later came other platforms and social media, both of which integrated marketing and selling to a degree that was much more obtrusive than earlier platforms, IMO.  GoodReads never felt particularly welcoming to me, so I didn’t join the migration there.  Amazon boards felt like a free-for-all when I visited, so I clicked back as fast as I could.  I used to be much more active on Twitter, but have mostly let that go over the last year or so; all the romance Twitter-folk I followed seem to RT a lot of promotional material that I just was not interested in.  For all the community noise about DA and SB being reader-blogs, I’ve felt like they were author (SB) or industry (DA & SB) blogs for a long time now, well before the Jen/Jane brouhaha.

My impatience with the constant promotion on social media corresponded with a giant reading slump.  Add in a market shift to subgenres I’m not interested in, and a marked drop in editorial values across the board, especially noticeable in self-published work?  Well, I’ll find some other entertainment, thanks but no thanks.

I’m spending probably the same amount of leisure time online…but it’s less likely to be in Romland spaces.  Instead it is in fandom spaces.  Someone getting the geography of Pittsburgh slightly wrong in a 100k fic might make me roll my eyes, but doesn’t make me want to bang my head on my e-reader the way a content or continuity error like that in a boutique-pubbed $8.99 ebook will.  (And that kind of things is *definitely* out there; it’s the reason I delete samples and return books.)

I’ve sort of lost the thread at this point.  Which means it’s a good thing I am posting this on my own blog, where I can be self-indulgent, rather than wasting comment space on Superlibrarian’s or Sunita’s blog.

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My two cents

Last week’s Big Brouhaha in romance, which has been dissected elsewhere, was Jane Litte’s disclosure that she had published New Adult romance under the name Jen Frederick.  Apparently the disclosure was prompted by the pending EC lawsuit against Dear Author, but Jane seems to have pretty effectively partitioned the JL/JF activities.

I’m mostly amazed that she manages to be a lawyer, blogger, parent, and writer.  Her time management skills and energy must be absolutely ridiculous.

As a reader, I don’t feel betrayed by Jane’s jump into writing romances.  I don’t feel like her advocacy for readers or being a reader-blogger foreclosed other professional options.

I’m kind of side-eyeing the writers wailing about her infiltration of “author-only” loops.  That’s a misnomer if ever there was one, I think, as nearly all working writers aren’t just authors unless they are extremely successful.  And absent a survey of every “author” (and all their pseudonyms) on a loop, I’m not sure how or why any participant could possibly assume that every participant was a single-role “author only”.

Ironically, the thing that keeps popping into my head is a line from a securities class I took once:  there is no general duty to disclose.  (The caveat to that is while there is no general duty to disclose, there are some specific disclosures prescribed by the 33 and 34 Acts and their Rules, but that’s not really relevant here.)  But.  BUT.  There’s an important case named Par Pharmaceutical (733 F. Supp 668 (1990)) that keeps coming to mind.  [A grossly simplified summary follows, and people with disclosure experience would cringe reading it, since disclosure is a complex, nuanced, heavily-litigated area; take it with a huge grain of salt.]  Anyway, Par bragged about its skill getting FDA approvals, but it turned out it got approvals by paying bribes; in shareholder litigation, the court basically said that once Par made statements about its skill getting approvals, those statements became fair game and could be alleged to be false and misleading (at least at the pleading/motion to dismiss stage).  There’s more to it than that, but the take away was that if the company hadn’t touted its legal/legitimate skill getting approvals, if they had been silent, Par would have had no duty to update or correct or disclose later investigations related to the bribery.  Circling back:  I think Jane had no general duty to disclose that she had published romance novels under a pen name.  Does her stance on conflicts of interest and transparency for author-bloggers make a difference, or create a duty to disclose?  Was it information that a reasonable reader would find material to the total mix of information available when selecting book recs or otherwise interacting with Dear Author?  Maybe, but that’s a question for the trier of fact/reader.

My own disclosures:  I’ve exchanged tweets emails with Jane in the past about things like fan fiction. I think I submitted a review for a favorite category novel several years ago.  I remember when Dear Author went online, and when Smart Bitches went online.  I still check DA periodically but don’t comment much there for a variety of reasons. I stopped checking SBTB several years ago when it went through a long patch of video posts and little meaningful content (I think that was about the time Candy left and also when SBSarah was either writing a book or maybe doing some kind of marketing thing).  Both blogs are big enough and influential enough that they feel like industry participants to me now, even if they don’t have a traditional role in the publisher-author-reader relationship.  Also, I read Jen Frederick’s Undeclared in 2013; my notes at Librarything.com (two stars) are that it needed a good editor and coherent character arcs — I remember thinking both the hero and heroine were twits.

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Reading homework

Pending the posting of grades (knock on wood), I think I’ve finished the ten credits for the certificate offered through work with Georgetown.  At the point, I don’t think I’m enrolling in the LLM program; even with the 10 credits already earned, I’d have to take 14 more credits at $2,160 per credit (and climbing steadily), which is ridiculous, economically-speaking, since I’m not sure the LLM would necessarily earn the cost back.  Over time, maybe, but it would only be done by changing jobs, which I’m not entirely sure I want to do at the moment or in the immediate future.

Anyway, although I hope to be finished with the certificate, I enrolled in one of the spring classes because I think it will be useful.  And yet again Basic v. Levinson is assigned.  It’s good law and I feel like I get better insight every time I read it.  But I also feel like the dissent about fraud on the market theory’s idea that capital markets are efficient  and/or rational is key.  Maybe market structures are, but the actors in the market are human beings, who generally are not always rational or efficient.  Which makes the theory wobbly for me.  I mean, all you have to do is look at all the things the market got wrong, for one reason or another, in the last century, and the idea of efficiency and rationality kind of fades IMO.

But I’m not an economist or theorist, but a pessimist, so maybe this is just me being glass half empty.

And now that my homework for the week is finished, I can find fiction to read 🙂

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