sienamystic: (book and heart)
I just started The Five, by Hallie Rubenhall, about the women who were previously known to history only as the prostitutes that Jack the Ripper killed. Rubenhall explores their lives and how they got to Whitechapel, the fact that many of the women were likely not prostitutes, and in short shows them to be the people that they were and not merely bodies to serve as evidence in an exciting mystery.

Next up is the second book in the Raven Boys series.
sienamystic: (Tenzin)
Despite wanting to come back to Dreamwidth, I apparently struggle with finding stuff to write about. I wanted to say more about Captain Marvel but other people said what I wanted to, and did it better, so.

The only thing currently going on is that I'm about to leave for a very quick trip to Germany, which I'm looking forward to. Work has been a little more physical recently and I'm actually looking forward to sitting on an airplane doing nothing. I have Into the Spiderverse to watch on my phone, which I know isn't ideal viewing for that movie, but I'm excited to finally see it!
sienamystic: (surly bonds)
I have to figure out when I'm going to see Captain Marvel this weekend. It may not happen because we've already made plans to go see a cat video fest at the Alamo on Saturday (my first time going to an Alamo, actually) and I have a lot of things scheduled for Sunday. Going to have to dodge spoilers.

Reading-wise, I just finished Tim Powers' book Alternate Routes, and enjoyed it a lot although it's using tropes he's played with before. I find them really fascinating so I always enjoy seeing other stories set in this universe of sorts that he's set up. I have another book by him waiting but I'm not sure whether to go straight to it or pick up something else.

Also, a very dear friend of mine has drawn a children's book (no text, just her illustrations) that comes out later this month. It's about the two lions of the NYC library going on a nighttime adventure through the city. I've just bought a copy for my niece and now I need to get one for myself!
sienamystic: (eclipses)
I weirdly absorb a lot of pop culture knowledge via Tumblr and podcasts and things, but actually don't watch much tv this days, for reasons that kind of escape me?

Anyway, I broke out of my rut for a bit and watched Russian Doll, which I thoroughly loved. It was wildly funny at points, very dark at others, and incredibly moving at unexpected moments. Natasha Lyonne is the absolute force at the center of the story and it's incredible watching her work in this world. I adored the ending, and I liked the way the story wasn't forcing you to solve a puzzle (although you can and do pick up clues) but what's most important is the story and the characters inside it reacting to the story. The ending was incredibly moving.

I tend to avoid things like Black Mirror because of their intensity and mindfuckery, so I almost swerved past this, and I'm so, so glad I didn't.
sienamystic: (Mystic in red and orange)
I've read some of McGuire's October Daye books, and enjoyed them, although I wasn't hooked to the point of "omg must grab next book immediately." And I'm not in general a horror reader, so I won't be picking up those books of hers. But what I heard about Every Heart a Doorway sounded right up my alley, so I finally got it and read it last night.

The concept is lovely. What happens to all those portal fantasy children who find themselves stranded back in this world, where time may or may not have passed, where they come back with strange skills or weird hair or new proclivities? Well, perhaps a boarding school, run by a woman who knows exactly what they've been through because she has as well. I loved the idea of all these kids bumping against each other, trying to figure out what to do now that they don't live in a candyland or a magical fairyland where they were the King's Champion. There's a lot of nuance about the characters that's done in concise little bites.

I liked Nancy, the main character, and her particular portal world was interesting, with a focus on stillness and silence.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize the book was actually a novella, which means that I bumped up against what I experienced as really weird pacing and the book ended unexpectedly quickly. The main character arrives, the plot rockets off immediately, and before I knew it things were wrapping up. I'm a little uncertain about whether I'm interested in the other books, which seem to be both sequels and prequels. I don't know if I want to read an entire book about a character after I know how she got to be the way she was, and that she's already died an ignominious death.

So, I'm not sure. I will probably reread it with better expectations about the length. But I'm not sure if I'll be picking up the other books in the series.
sienamystic: (bruegel eye)
We've had a lot of snow recently, with more to come, but no snow days. My inner 8-year old finds this very distressing, even if we've been able to do things like, you know, actually go to work, with no trouble at all. Hmph.

If I had a snow day maybe I could start reading "Every Heart a Doorway," which I just bought while it was on sale. Or I could go back to the books I need to finish, the ones about the Gin Craze and beer brewing and two random ones on the Tiber and putti in Art, respectively, that I got because they looked interesting.

We're shifting offices at work, partly because a new person just started, so everything is in upheaval and we're unearthing things out desks and old file cabinets. My coworker took a can of sardines in mustard sauce off her little display nook and put it back in her desk, which is going to inventory, on the grounds that she found it in the desk originally and the two of them are meant to be together.

My display nook has three Funko Pop figures (a knife-wielding Mads Mikkleson Hannibal, Jareth, and Sarah plus the little blue worm), a rabbit skull, a paper-mache octopus, and a few other sundries. I may have to dismantle it and rehang it because I think my entire workspace is moving forward five feet. Or, my boss and I may decide to up stakes and move one level deeper into the building to form a new office with the prep team. It's not like we see the sun now, what's one more level down to a mole person?
sienamystic: (commedia)
I went to a Galentines Day workshop yesterday and made a small fused glass piece. After trying to think up something to make, I wound up settling for the classic: a random sort-of-abstract composition that I hope will turn into something pretty after it's been through the kiln. One friend was more ambitious and did a flower with sky and grasses. Another friend was really really ambitious, and made a vulva in honor of the holiday. I love my friends.

We had one teasing day of slightly warmish weather and now we're back down in the dumps with more snow due tomorrow. The cold may be part of why, after musing yesterday that his TMS may have actually started to take effect, my husband decided to be a surly jerk today. We don't really tend to do anything for Valentine's Day, so there are no overtones of "you ruined a holiday!" I just hate being around him when he's in this state.

Meanwhile, I have finally ordered the one John D. MacDonald book I've been wanting to read but never found in a used bookstore, namely The Girl, The Gold Watch, and Everything.

In other news, the dog has decided she's afraid of the floor again. I may have to trim her nails. But these fits always come on her randomly, and she may forget about it by tomorrow.
sienamystic: (bosch bird)
There's no current polar vortex hype, but it was negative 1 when I woke up this morning so I am feeling appropriately crochety. Even the dog is foregoing her usual morning trot and climbing straight into the car. (My husband drops me off at work and usually the dog enjoys the ridealong in the hopes of getting to chew up the paper liner from my morning muffin.)

We went ahead and bought the car I mentioned previously. Our valiant Honda Fit is fairly elderly now. It still has a lot of go left in it but it was becoming more uncomfortable for the few times a year we drove it long distances, and bits and bobs were starting to fall off in the way of old cars. We still own it for the moment, and although my first thought was to keep it as the Dog Wagon/backup beater, we should probably sell it and put the money towards some bills.

I have to say, the new car is pretty spiffy. It's not fancy, but it's a nice small upgrade.

I made my first icon in ages and ages! I no longer have all my fancy brushes and custom gradient whatsies and 100x100 is smaller than I remember, but it was fun and if I can get inspired I will try to make more. I need a Hawkeye icon, and don't know why I never made one a while back when I was actively writing fic.
sienamystic: (Crowned Alice)
When I'm anxious, which is pretty common (bah), I frequently have the same type of dream. I'm in an airport trying to get to my gate. But I have to use the bathroom but if I do I'll miss my flight. Or I'm trying to run but instead I just keep walking leisurely. Or they have changed the gate to the other side of the airport.

This morning I woke up after the appearance of my second most common anxiety dream, which started showing up a few years ago. I'm trying to pack, to leave a room empty, or to fit everything I need into my suitcase, but there's always more stuff, or I bought too much and have to leave some behind, or my suitcase won't hold everything even though it should.

I've just gotten back in contact with my dad after many years, mostly because my sister had a baby and we figured that no matter what kind of giant dick he was, he should know. We started trying to contact him before my niece was born and a few weeks ago, (a month before my niece turns one) we finally succeeded. We exchanged a few messages and I'm not sure what happens now. He will possibly just disappear again. He lives on the other side of the planet and had dropped off the face of the earth even with his own family. We finally connected over WhatsApp for a few short messages, so of course I had a long dream about trying to empty a room with my mom and sister while he ignored us and showed his wife and kid where the horses were that they could ride, and where the canoes were for boating.

My subconscious is not particularly subtle. I woke up feeling like something that lives under a rock, and had to wander around doing my morning routine with My Brother, My Brother, and Me playing in my pocket to start feeling normal again after a while. Emotional hangovers are the worst.

porn block

Feb. 3rd, 2019 04:12 pm
sienamystic: (cactus pot)
I am sitting on a Thor/Valkyrie/Bruce story and am at the point where I need to tackle the [Sex Goes Here] bit. I can't seem to sit down and write it.
sienamystic: (eclipses)
I finished the book the other night. I did end up enjoying it, although possibly in ways I didn't expect. I also need a reread, as I'm pretty sure I missed some details.

For example, I was having trouble figuring out why Breq was supporting one of the two split leaders of the empire. I knew she was on a course of revenge but I was having trouble figuring out which of the two positions of Anaander Minaai she had decided to side with. Apparently at some point she deciphered which of the sides was responsible for the death of her Lieutenant, but I had trouble following all of it.

I also had come to know the book as one that did some subversive things with gender (subversive isn't the right word...unusual? Pointed?), which actually didn't really seem to be a particularly big part of the book for me. I didn't spend much time trying to parse out genders in the characters, and although I think at one point Seivarden Vendaai was indicated as male by another character, I promptly forgot it. It seemed like an interesting but ultimately minor piece of worldbuilding that I found interesting, but it didn't say anything much bigger than that to me, if it was supposed to.

I also have some problems with how opaque characters are - it's natural, because you're reading through the lens of an AI who has been suddenly cut off from her nearly omnipotent understanding when she's a ship full of her officers. (Locally omnipotent, I guess.) So watching Breq keep protecting Vendaai kind of remained a mystery to me. Was it simply because she had once been one of Breq's lieutenants? (Although as Breq keeps pointing out, never a favorite.)

For me the book is strongest in it's look at a totalitarian regime from both the inside and the outside (ancillary vs corpse soldier). You're experiencing it all from someone who is utterly inside the culture like a goldfish is in water, but sometimes she does run up against the hard edges of it and has to figure out how she feels about it. I wonder if the later two books are some sort of AI to fully individualized person kind of story, but it was interesting how much of a relief I felt when Breq gets taken aboard what will be her new ship, back into something closer to her old life. (Except her old life is killing people really well, and her new life is now going to be responsible for keeping half of a mad despot in check?)

ANYWAY. I really enjoyed it but I want to get the other two books under my belt and then do a reread and see if stuff I found nebulous clears up.
sienamystic: (Green Man)
I don't think this comes as a surprise to anybody, but Ancillary Justice is really good and it's hard to not go hide in the bathroom and keep reading. I hope the other two books are equally as entertaining.
sienamystic: (Festina Lente)
We're not getting any snow here as part of the dreaded polar vortex but we're definitely getting the cold. I was feeling vertigo-y and felt like I was on the edge of a sinus infection, so I took the day off and spent most of it asleep or in a hot shower. The dog is very upset because not only is she still on exercise restriction for a lot longer, but it's too cold out to even do a short walk around the block. She doesn't have booties and I worry about her feet getting frostbitten. Plus there are areas where people haven't shoveled their sidewalk and it's just ridges of ice.

We're sort of in the process of buying a used car. My mom is giving us a down-payment and as soon as that's here we'll pick up the car, a 2016 Honda HHR. We were going to keep our 11-year old Honda Fit as our second vehicle (and not let the dog inside the new car so that we don't replicate the eau d'Hound that permeates the Fit) but I'm wondering if we should just sell it and use the money to pay off some medical bills. Bemo's been having a lot of dental issues for the past year and they've gotten pricey. I'm not particularly excited to be getting a car payment again, even a small one. I've taken a hiatus from my Italian tutor because of the cost, even though I love studying the language. (Also I'm not a good language student and I'm scared I'm going to lose it all.)

Still reading my books on the gin craze and the history of brewing beer, but have added Ancillary Justice to the pile. I suspect I'm going to zip through it. I'm only a little ways in but it's so good so far.

Gin Craze!

Jan. 25th, 2019 02:57 pm
sienamystic: (eclipses)
I'm doing a short talk on two Hogarth prints later on this semester, so I've just started reading two books on the subject of the prints, Gin: The much-lamented Death of Madam Geneva and Ale, beer and Brewsters in England: women's work in a changing world, 1300-1600. If you're interested in the topic, there are also two podcasts that relate directly, one from the BBC's In Our Time on the gin craze (the image they use is a detail from the print I'm talking about) and an episode of Tides of History where the host interviews the author on the topic of women and beer brewing.

Kiki has had her two shots and is now on her two month stretch of enforced inactivity. She can go for short walks but I predict in a few days she'll be feeling better and the short walks are just going to frustrate her. She's going to end up staring at me with pleading eyes and trying to squish herself into my lap so I know how much she is suffering.


[personal profile] jesse_the_k asked about three of my icons, my main one, my eclipses one, and my zen one.

My nom-de-internet is pretty old by now and comes from Saint Catherine of Siena, a mystic saint that I did my thesis on. The image is of Saint Catherine holding a lily, and is from a fresco in the basilica of San Domenico and was painted by Andrea Vanni. If you go visit, say hi to her head for me.

I didn't make my eclipses icon and sadly I don't have a note down anywhere about who made it. I know very little about astronomy, but I'm fascinated by old astronomical charts and texts and images. I adopted this icon because I just find it deeply beautiful.

My zen one is Damian Lewis from the tv show Life. I loved the show so much, and besides the great acting and fun stories it had great music too. Sadly it was crippled by the writers strike and when the two seasons finally made it to DVD they had replaced a lot of the music with lesser choices. I was not happy. Anyway, Damian Lewis's character Charlie Crews is a police officer sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit, and while he's there he studies Zen. When he's freed, he brings his slightly eccentric Zen sensibilities out into the world with him, much to the frustration of those around him. (He also has a thing for fresh fruit.)

Betrayal

Jan. 23rd, 2019 10:53 am
sienamystic: (Heyer - wealthy)
I dropped poor Kiki off for her first injection. Did you know hound dogs are very good at looking betrayed? One more tomorrow, and then two months of limited activity and she should be clear.

I finished The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. If you haven't read it and want to, you may want to skip although I'm not going to be really spoilery.



I've only read a small amount of Agatha Christie, partly because I prefer the people to the puzzle, and that means Sayers is my jam. I don't tend to try and solve the mystery as I go along, and I wonder if this book is better for those people who do, or who love twisty plotting and don't care about the characters. The character at the center of the story is almost entirely a cipher even after a few background details come to light. Since you don't have much attachment to the main character (and he doesn't have much attachment to himself, in a bunch of ways), some of what might be big revelations fall flat a bit because they're not given room to breathe and the plot whisks you away again.

The ending also opens up a lot of questions about the world the story is set in, and I don't know if they are best left as things for the reader to decide on, or if they needed to be poked at a bit more.

I will probably read the book over at least once more, but I feel like it won't keep drawing me back because once the puzzle is solved, I don't think there will be a lot of satisfaction in watching it play out again. (This is more ironic than I mean to be, given the subject of the book!)
sienamystic: (Harriet Vane quote)
I got to see this Peter Jackson documentary today. Documentary doesn't seem like the right word, actually. He was asked to use footage from the Imperial War Museum in a novel way. Using colorized film that has also been treated to remove flickers, age, and damage, and with interviews from veterans captured by the BBC, he shows an overview of the war from the point of view of a generic British soldier on the Western Front.

It's remarkably effective. Suddenly you find yourself seeing small details in the background. You study faces. The entire theater laughed at the clowning of one young soldier bonking his friend's helmet, because we all know that kid, or have been that kid, and we were suddenly united with him over the years.

It's also an effective way to realize, past all the deadpan "stiff upper lip" descriptions by the veterans, how absolutely like hell the time in the trenches was. You see laughing faces staring into the camera, you see corpses blown to bits. You see men clowning with a regimental pet goat, and what trench foot really looked like.

This historical period is one I read about a lot, so of course I remembered an early passage in the first Peter Wimsey novel.

"The vile, raw fog tore your throat and ravaged your eyes. You could not see your feet. You stumbled in your walk over poor men's graves.
The feel of Parker's old trench-coat beneath your fingers was comforting. You had felt it in worse places. You clung on now for fear you should get separated."
sienamystic: (Reading Woman)
Just finished my reread through the Rivers of London books by finishing up Lie's Sleeping. The Fanfare post of the first book on Metafilter got a lot of fun discussion that I hope continues along for the rest of the books.

I decided on The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle for my next read.

The forecast is for snow and bitter cold. They've postponed the local women's march because of it, which is disappointing, but highs of negative whatever don't lend themselves to being out long. Marching, maybe, listening to speeches, not so much.

My poor Kiki-dog has been diagnosed with heartworm. She's a rescue from a place where it's not uncommon, but we've gone back and forth with a couple of tests that were positive and then negative and then positive, rechecked, still positive, so next week she'll have to start the treatment protocol. It's uncomfortable and she'll have to stay relatively quiet for two months. Walks, yes, but no wonderful galloping through the big dog park. She will be very disappointed in our cruelty. I thought the whole situation was behind us, but thankfully she's in good health otherwise so she should get through things ok.
sienamystic: (Pete whining)
I brought jam in to work for my peanut butter sandwich. The lid came off in my purse. I now have a purse full of strawberry goo.

Thankfully there is still enough left for the sandwich.
sienamystic: (eclipses)
It's been a year that I've been part of a card club, sending a handful of cards out each month. I love buying stationary stuff but realized that it was just accumulating waiting for the "perfect" moment to send it out. Frequently I don't have anything fascinating to say, but now I can unashamedly buy new fun cards and stickers because they're actually being sent out into the world.

I also joined a penpal exchange a few years ago and sadly that didn't take. One of the two pals I was connected with was very interesting but also clearly busy and she quickly faded out. The other lady and I continued for a bit, but eventually it petered out - probably on my side, because at the time I wasn't as organized about actually sitting down and getting the mail written and out the door.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to write here and also keep a little journal for my baby niece. I don't know if this will eventually get me back into writing fic, which I stalled out on a couple of years ago. Hopefully the habit of doing one will kick the other back into gear. On the other hand, I may just not be as invested in the media I once was, and while heading over to Tumblr to look at pretty gif sets is fun, I have no stories I need to tell stuck inside my brain.

awkward!

Jan. 10th, 2019 11:59 am
sienamystic: (Giles exposition)
Last night Bemo and I went out to eat at what turned out to be an ok but way-overpriced restaurant. (They're trying to be upscale but they're serving good sauces over what at a guess was Sysco chicken pieces.)

Our waitress was young and very nice but also awkward in a way that made me think she hadn't been one long and was still getting her patter and timing down. No big deal.

She drops the check off and kind of lingers at the table, and as I open my wallet to get my credit card I spot the two dental insurance cards I had printed off for myself and Bemo earlier, and say out loud, "Oh, I should give these to you before I forget." I'm addressing Bemo - looking directly at him - but the waitress says "Oh, thank you! Oh, you mean..." and she sort of trails out and I chuckle and try to cover things by saying "No, haha, unless you want my dental insurance!"

And she says "Sure!" and plucks the insurance card from my hand, puts it into her apron pocket, and leaves.

Bemo and I stare at each other in mutual WTF. At first I decide to say nothing and just print myself a new card. That way I can pretend nothing at all happened, hahaha! But given that I don't know how sensitive the info on the card really is, I gird my loins and when she comes back I ask for the return of the insurance card. She gives it back, but with a puzzled "Ok, weird customer, whatever, I guess" expression.

We leave the restaurant and now I can never return.

As my sister put it, if it had been on a sitcom I might have had to change the channel.

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