Tag Archives: random babble

On bubbles

I do not talk much about politics here.  But since Friday, or even earlier last week, I’ve been thinking about the political bubble I apparently live in.

I know one person who admits to voting for Trump (a woman, retired, Latina who can pass and usually does).

I know one person who wrote in Petraeus on his ballot. [Ironically, this fellow swore up and down that the Clintons are Russian spies for Putin. Hah!  And believes Chelsea Manning should rot in jail forever but that Petraeus’ leaks and the accompanying wristslap were manufactured to damage a Great Man.]

Pretty uniformly, everyone else I know well — or know well enough to be comfortable talking politics — was planning on voting against Trump.  In some cases, they weren’t necessarily thrilled with Clinton but considered her the lesser evil.

I know one person who did not vote for Trump but who is so offended by #notmypresident that he has sworn off the NBA.

I know at least a dozen people – men and women – who marched on Saturday, in DC or elsewhere, and no one at all who attended the inauguration, despite proximity and space to spare in DC.

The mood of my colleagues was pretty glum all week as we anticipated budget cuts and hiring freezes, even among the colleagues I don’t know well enough to guess at their voting choices.  And that doesn’t even touch on their concerns about healthcare, deregulation, increased militarization, etc.

Fundamentally, I don’t understand why healthcare is not considered a basic human right for all citizens.  I don’t understand why anyone thinks that more guns, bombs, and wars will do any good; certainly the last decade+ of war has done no good for anyone except for companies like KBR, Halliburton, etc.  I don’t understand how people who abhor big government can possibly believe that the government intrusion into my sex life and reproductive planning is anything other than hypocritical, patronizing, and misogynist.

Most of the people I know feel more or less the same, or at least claim to.

Which I guess means I do live in a bubble of like-minded people, which in turn explains why we were all so surprised by what happened in November.

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A little bit of reading

Someone mentioned on social media that they had the new Bujold to read, which made me go see what she has new out.  A Penric novella!  Nice.  It was a quick read, but good, a peek into Penric and Desdemona several years down the road from the last novella.  Bujold does well in a shorter format, I think.

Other than that, the only things I’ve read lately are a re-read and the third book in K.A. Mitchell’s Ready or Not series.  Eh, not the best book of the series.  I didn’t believe either character had any real growth and didn’t believe the HEA at all.

The re-read was of the most recent Kate Daniels book.  Reading it, I’m frustrated because I like Andrews’ voice but find the world-building and character-building to be inconsistent and wobbly.  Also, there are a lot of inconsistencies if you read carefully, and it isn’t clear if it is planned and a function of tight POV via Kate or retconning.  I’d like to think it was a POV function but there are enough sloppy errors or blips in the series that assuming that seems risky.  (Ex: Doolittle has two different first names depending on which book you read; Derek will never howl again we are told, only to have him howl repeatedly; changes in the capacity for post-Shift technology; basic math and time/date/counting errors; etc.)

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I’ve watched the first two episodes of The Crown on Netflix.  Wow, so good.

Also watching Pitch, usually on demand.  Love Ginny and Amelia and the whole cast, really.

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Project-wise, the throw blanket I am working on as a gift is probably not going to be finished in time for Christmas.  I’m not sure if I’ll just give it as an other/odd day gift or wrap a couple of sections of it as a promise to be finished.

But I did finish a scarf to match my awesome new hat, and am about 40% finished with a copy of it for a colleague who admired it and asked if I could make them one.  It’s pretty easy to knock one out, easier than the throw blanket sections, which are less portable and thus less able to be worked on during my commute.

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I went to the Pens-Caps game on Wednesday.  It was a mess.  I decided after attending the San Jose game the week before that I would not be renewing my partial season ticket plan next year, and this game reinforced that decision. I hate the forced patriotism and rampant military hero worship encouraged or forced on and by the crowd.  I find the crowd to be pretty ugly in general, and it’s worse when the Penguins come to town.  Two women behind me spent the whole game saying that wanted Crosby, Malkin, Letang, et al. to be boarded or hit or knocked out of the game, often when none of them were on the ice.  (Note: these were Trump supporters who compared Crosby talking to refs during the disaster of a game with 9 penalties to “protesters” who should “shut up and go back to work”.)

I’m pretty sure they could tell how uncomfortable they were making me, because they asked which Caps player I felt similarly about, a player I hate.  It’s like they wanted me to justify their ugliness.  Here’s the thing: I don’t dislike any Caps player enough to want them to be hospitalized or their career ended by a hit the way they described.  I don’t care* enough about any Capitals player to bother.  There are players I refuse to watch play, for whom I would feel no pity if their stats fell off a cliff and they were waived or were cut (not Capitals players), but but hating professional athletes is as big a waste of time as hating a particular actor or musician.  Just change the channel.  The Capitals’ roster is only relevant to me when they are playing a team I like, which is usually only 9 or 10 times per season between the Penguins, Predators, and Sharks.

*There are players I think are overrated or overpaid or overhyped.  For example, I think Ovechkin is the best pure goal scorer of his generation, but he’s an inveterate diver and lays a lot of late hits that don’t get called.  Orpik hits like a truck but is way overpaid for being the 4th or 5th dman.  Oshie and Tom Wilson remind me (in a not flattering way) of the douchiest frat bros I knew in college.  But do I hate them?  Nah, it’s not worth the emotional energy.

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Full Disclosure?

Scrolling through the new release post for the week over at Dear Author, I hit one contemporary titled Full Disclosure and my brain made a full stop.  I’m sure it’s a fine book and the title makes sense in the context of whatever the plot is.  But all I can think of is “full and fair disclosure”, which totally kills any kind of romance or sexy vibe that it might have been going.  [Unless maybe you work at the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance.  Which, okay, go you.  But not me.]

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A new comic book and gaming shop opened late last month.  There has been a sign in the window since maybe November announcing that it would open; it took over the premises of what used to be an antiques shop.  I stopped in today to see if they had any of the Rivers of London comics in stock.  Not currently but an edition is coming out in two weeks, so they put me down for a copy.

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I’m almost all the way through binge-watching The West Wing on Netflix.  Man, all the male characters are prone to pedantic asshole behavior and constant disrespect for the judgment and expertise of the female characters.  CJ Cregg is awesome, but she wibbles about men pretty regularly and is lied to and underestimated on the regular by Leo, Josh, Toby, and the president; only Charlie seems exempt.  Donna stays Josh’s secretary way too long and he punishes her professionally because she decided she was qualified to do more than take his lunch orders – after she tried repeatedly to explain to him that she wanted more out of her job/professional life but he ignored it because it was inconvenient.  Dr. Bartlett, who admittedly violated state laws, is punished far more and criticized more than her husband, the one who actually was the public official who failed to disclose his serious, life-threatening illness.  Ugh.

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Afterthought:  I opened a book at random on my Kindle while on the elliptical.  It was Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews, a series whose voice/tone I like but which is riddled with continuity blips and rather poor copy editing IMO.  And a passage struck me in this book:  Evdokia mentions Kate’s mother attending her own mother’s funeral.  Except, wait for it, in the most recent book, Kate is told by her father than her maternal grandmother is alive and in Seattle.  Now, maybe he’s lying.  But the continuity blips have been bad enough through the series that I’m not willing to assume that they intentionally wrote him as lying rather than making another blip…again.

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Oh, fandom

There are lots of good things about hockey fandom.  There are.  But sometimes I forget how young a lot of fandom is.  Or maybe young isn’t the right word.  Inexperienced?  Oblivious to economic realities?

DKPittsburghsports.com is a sports news site focused on Pittsburgh sports; it was founded by a former Trib reporter and much of its staff are also former Trib employees or refugees from other traditional media venues.  Its material is behind a pay wall.  It’s a relatively cheap pay wall, frankly.  It has a tumblr where it posts snippets and it occasionally makes full posts free to the public.

But some people in hockey fandom have copied entire posts and circulated them.  So that other fans (or any random person poking around the internet) can read the copyrighted material while avoiding/evading the pay wall.  And when they receive a DMCA notice, they consider the site to be “douchey” because the posters aren’t making money off the reposting and thus there’s no harm.

Well, no, the rebloggers aren’t making money.  But they are republishing material that isn’t theirs, material that is behind a pay wall.  Republishing a paragraph might be fair use, but an entire column is not.  The material is NOT theirs to do that with.  And they are erasing potential income to the site based on their republishing.

That’s not douchey.  That is defending their intellectual property and their livelihood.

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DNF’d and abandoned

I took two books with me to read over the holiday weekend.  One of them came back without having been read.  I left the other one behind in Chicago after reading about 40% of it. Maybe the Brother-in-Law will read it, or maybe it will be added to the discard/donate pile there.  The DNF’d book was Half-Dead Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older.  I liked the setting (Brooklyn) but I never really cared about the narrator, Carlos Delacruz, or felt any particular urgency about the main conflict or mystery.

On to the next book, I guess.

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Went to Improvised Shakespeare while in Chicago.  The title thrown out by the audience was “The Jeweler’s Daughter”.  The actor playing Edmund (among other roles) was channeling Richard III.  And the ladies of the court were funny, as was the naming of the nine security-guard orphans.  I would go again just to see what the cast come up with.

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Walked the Bloomingdale Trail, which was nice.  I’m assuming that housing values around the trail skyrocketed.  It was fascinating to see the gentrification, which is still going on.  If I had realized that I walked right past Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, I would definitely have hopped off the trail to get a second helping of the Mexican Hot Chocolate.

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Random babble

I keep seeing Chrysler commercials lauding the heroes of the revolution in The Hunger Games.  They make me profoundly uncomfortable, but I can’t articulate why exactly.  They made me actually cringe last weekend, when they were running during coverage of the Paris terrorist attacks.

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Hockey announcers and the way they mangle the names of players that are not Anglo or French really bother me.  Semin is not pronounced like semen; I’m confused why the diacritical isn’t used or why it isn’t Syomin in the NHL the way it was on his jersey in Sochi.  Pietrangelo is not Peter-Angelo.  How hard is it to ask a player how to pronounce their name and then write it down phonetically so it can be pronounced properly?

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On the reading front, not much going on.  I liked JCP’s short PsyCop, Memento.  It’s from Jacob’s POV, and gives an interesting glimpse into his view of Vic.  Since Vic narrates all the other PsyCop books, it’s a novel perspective.

I bought a couple of Patricia Veryan’s older books when they were release in ebooks.  Eh, I tried reading Sanguinet’s Crown but find the characters to be caricatures and the writing to be not very good.  Oh well.

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Happy Turkey Day to any who celebrate it.  I shall be off to Chicago to cling to The Biochemist.

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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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SBD: what I’m reading right now

What I’m reading right now:  The Food of Spain by Claudia Rosen.  It’s a gift book, one that I asked for.  It’s a cookbook but includes narrative about culture and history.  Will I cook many any of the recipes?  That remains to be seen.  But the book is a beautiful object and I have enjoyed paging through it so far.

The other thing I’m reading:  Imogenedisease’s original fiction set in a slightly alternative NHL.  This is all The Biochemist’s fault: she linked to the first story and also somehow conned me into becoming a hockey fan.  Some of it might qualify as gay romance, while other stories not so much.  I’m ambivalent about hockey RPF in some ways, both the tropes and self-insertion (the back button is my friend), but there is some thoughtful writing there, hiding among the porn.

Other bookish things:

For the first time since 2001 (I think?), I did not renew my B&N membership.  It’s just not worth it for me at this point: the coupons aren’t accepted at the bookstore closest to me, and the largest one nearby has a poor selection of books (but lots of toys and Nook accessories) that diminishes my interest in browsing.

Aside from Roden’s book, I did not ask for any books for the holiday. I gave two Isabel Allende books as gifts.  B&N gift cards, which have long been a gift staple, were neither given nor received this year.

Last week, JA Konrath’s Cherry Bomb appeared on Amazon’s self-publisher list of best sellers, according to Media Bistro.  I’m kind of confused/curious about who determines what is self-published and how it is done.  I get that Konrath has the rights to the electronic book and self-published the ebook…but it was originally published by Hyperion in 2009.  Does the initial publication via traditional publisher not matter when they are determining who/what is self-published?  I would expect that the book’s long tail and probably a fair portion of the readers of that series were cultivated by the original publication, not the self-published iteration.

 

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Eh, the RITAs

The RITA nominees have been announced.  On one hand, congratulations to all the nominees; it’s a professional honor and may give your sales a bump.  On the other hand, eh.  As usual, I’ve read very few of the nominees.

The ones I’ve read:

  • The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne (historical romance)
  • The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley (historical romance)
  • When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James (Regency historical romance)
  • The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn (novel w/ strong romantic elements)
  • New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb (romantic suspense)

One of those was a wallbanging DNF and another verged on it, two others were forgettable, and the last was a good enough installment in the series but not outstanding or a sterling example to use to get a reader hooked on the series (IMO, of course).

In addition to the books I’ve read, I’ve got a few TBR:

  • The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley (novel w/ strong romantic elements)
  • Nightfall by Ellen Connor (paranormal)
  • Doukakis’s Apprentice by Sarah Morgan (contemporary series)

I should bump them up, shouldn’t I?

Seeing the listing, I’m reminded that RWA is in Anaheim this year.  I’d love to go but my vacation budget is tapped out:  Barcelona, Indian Wells, Houston, the beach (Rehoboth and Nags Head), and a couple of days at the US Open in August, plus Thanksgiving travel?  Yeah, I don’t need to go to Anaheim in July.

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Bookstores in Barcelona and Madrid

It’s an unhealthy compulsion, I’m sure, but I have to check out bookstores whenever I encounter them on vacation.  This trip, I justified my browsing by either reading or discarding the three books I packed, and also by finishing all the back issues of The Economist I took.  (Thank you, USAirways and Philadelphia International Airport, for the poor time and runway management! It caused missed connections, wasted 10+ hours of my time, delayed my luggage for two additional days, and cost a fair amount to reschedule other travel, but on the bright side I managed to get through the back issues while fuming in PHL, Heathrow, and Barajas.  I’m fairly confident that if I’d arrived on time, those hours would have been spent doing frivolous, fun touristy things instead.)

Barcelona has several nice independent bookstores located in the La Ribera neighborhood (near the cathedral), as well as Casa del Libro on the Passeig de Grácia (think high end retail like Fifth Avenue), the book section in the El Corte Inglés department store on the Avinguda del Portal de l’Àngel, and FNAC (a French media chain) on the Plaça de Catalunya.   Altaïr on Gran Via specializes in travel books and materials, ranging from maps and guides to fiction about travel.  There’s also an English language bookstore up on Carrer de Roger de Lluria, but I didn’t have time to check it out. (And really, English language books for ex-pats wasn’t really what I was looking for.)  Madrid has a fair number of independent booksellers, too, along with the same chain bookshops.

At Altaïr I bought Andalus by Jason Webster, which I read and then left for another reader at the hotel.  I lusted for several books on the history of southern Spain and planning guides for doing all or parts of the camino de Santiago (on my bucket list) but managed to restrain myself.  The other purchase I made at Altaïr was the in-house travel magazine featuring Peru.  Twin and The Chemist are tentatively planning a trip there (Machu Picchu! The Camino Inca!), and I thought they’d appreciate the photography and information…forgetting that they don’t read Spanish.  I’m an idiot.  The plan is to translate all the captions and articles between now and when I see them next (late March).  Just need to be careful about damaging the magazine as I do so.

Meant to go back to the independent near the city museum for a book on Barcelona’s Roman history but got distracted and never made it back.  Was tempted by children’s books, which I thought might suit some children of my acquaintance.  Popping in to the El Corte Inglés, I intended just to see what the popular fiction available in Catalan and/or Castilian might be but ended up leaving with a translation of Naked in Death (Desnuda antes la muerte).  Did manage to avoid the temptation of Ferran Adria’s El Bulli cookbook.

FNAC had a *huge* graphic novel section, as well as manga.  The YA, unsurprisingly, was also fairly large and dominated by paranormal fiction.  Saw stacks of translations of the Hunger Games series, and of Amanda Hocking’s books (are they YA? that’s where they were shelved).  Lots of fantasy, urban and otherwise, and I was sorry to see zombie/classic mashups prominently shelved. (Meh.) In terms of general fiction, Nordic mystery writers appear to be as popular in Barcelona and Madrid as they are in the US.  Translations into Spanish, Catalan, and English were available for many of the authors Keishon has reviewed.  I was tempted to buy a translation of Ilona Andrews’ Magic Strikes (La magia golpea) but it was ridiculously expensive at €17.50.  Instead, I left with a copy of Camilla Lackberg’s The Stone Cutter and Peter Ackroyd’s translation into modern English of The Canterbury Tales.

Other books on my wishlist now:  El vasco que no comía demasiado by Óscar Terol; Las siete llaves de Balabad by Paul Haven; and Memorias de Idhún by Laura Gallego Garcia.  I’ll probably regret not buying them when I had the chance and wind up paying some insane amount of money to have a copy shipped from Europe if/when I can’t find a copy in the US, which is what happened with Yo, Juan de Austria.

 

ETA:  Bought a little book about the Palau de Música Catalana from the Palau’s giftshop.  And was seriously tempted by books about the art of Velazquez and Goya and the history of the Prado while browsing there.

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