umadoshi: (nonfictional feeling (oraclegreen))
[personal profile] umadoshi
(I tried to make this post more cohesive than it is. I really did! Pretend it worked?)

At last, I know what a childhood of X-Men reading prepared me for: coping with the severe cognitive dissonance when different components of/perspectives on a fictional world are staggeringly different from each other in tone.

Except that, where X-Men (and similar) comics have passed through countless creative teams over several decades (and are a big enough thing to have all kinds of quirky sideline projects), in this case, said staggeringly-different aspects are written by the same person.

I'm now mostly caught up on K.B. Spangler's work in the A Girl and Her Fed (AGAHF) universe, which consists of the ongoing A Girl and Her Fed webcomic and five novels (so far), one of which is Not Like The Others. Oh, and the first of a planned series of novellas cheerfully (and accurately) codenamed "Joshsmut".

I came at this world...out of order, I guess, in that I started with the novels. I'd heard of the AGAHF comic and had been meaning to read it, but I do better with novels...and I didn't really realize how intertwined the projects are. Here's an io9 review of Digital Divide, the first Rachel Peng novel. (Four of the five novels currently available focus on Rachel.)

(Note: I'd heard of A Girl and Her Fed off and on for at least a few years, and had it on my to-read list before I mentally connected it to the Rachel books, but I never really looked into what it is...even though I always tripped, and still trip, over the title because I always parse it wrong. My instinct is still to read the "fed" as a conjugation of "feed", not as "federal agent", which makes no sense at all. How am I STILL DOING THAT?)

So Rachel was my gateway. Rachel as we meet her is a smart, driven, ex-military federal employee who's working as the liaison between the D.C. police force and her own federal agency, OACET, which is made up entirely of a large group of cyborgs. More specifically, a large group of cyborgs created in a catastrophically flawed project that took some of the best and brightest young civil servants from across the federal government, put chips in their heads, and left them collectively traumatized and disturbingly overpowered.

Emphasis on the "collectively". The (functionally nonexistent) "So You're A Cyborg" manual didn't have a chapter for "Welcome to Your New Hivemind! (Please stop screaming! Everyone can hear you!)"

Rachel's books start several years after all that, and several months after she's joined the above-mentioned police force, for the express purpose of helping to ease the public into the idea that Cyborgs Are People Too!, and super-useful to boot! And guys, I love Rachel dearly, so she was a great gateway for me. I kept going with her books until I discovered that the sole (so far) Hope Blackwell novel is set before Rachel's fourth book, so I opted to both read that book and finally backtrack to read AGAHF...

And it turns out that my X-Men experience is only barely up to this whole experience. cut for length; there's about as much text under here as there is above )

Two things of note:

1) Spangler is in the process of redrawing the first chunk of AGAHF. I don't know when she started doing that, or how quickly it's progressing, but the result is that the first 90-100 strips or so have been redrawn (each one linking to its original version) and have had some dialogue tightened and some plot holes smoothed out, but then you run out of redrawn art and get dropped into the original art style for a while, and it's...well, it's pretty jarring. (Here is the current/redrawn first comic; here is the original version. So you see.)

2) I'm not great at picking up things that call for content notes/warnings, unless they're pretty obvious. But one thing that bothered me, and recurred often enough that I feel like I ought to mention it, is the frequent use of "psychopath" (plus some instances of "sociopath") as a descriptor. briefly expanding on that; not very spoilery )

Re-experiencing Moby Dick

Aug. 17th, 2017 03:38 pm
zaelle: Kiwis are descended from T-Rex (Default)
[personal profile] zaelle
Moby Dick is my favorite American classic. I own two copies of it currently (one fancy pocket version and a big version for highlighting favorite quotes and writing in). I first read it for class in 11th grade and had the incredible privilege of being taught the book by a teacher who genuinely loved it.

<lj-cut text="More thoughts under the cut">

Most people I met who read the book hated it, or at best were indifferent to it. I had to survive reading a book draft where the author wrote about how Moby Dick is a huge waste of time because of false advertising - if you're naming the book after the whale, why do you only meet the whale in the last three chapters? I suppose the latter is a fair complaint if you picked up the book without having any expectations set for it. I was lucky to have Mr Vanderheiden tell us that Moby Dick is a book about everything - a discourse on philosophy, identity, history, religion and a person's place in the world, a description of the whaling industry at the time and the whaling towns that thrived off of it, action...basically everything. Melville wrote this book without fear, changing tone and structure or approach from one chapter to the next, before delivering a punch about...well everything really. We read through each chapter and were treated to a lively and enthusiastic discussion led by Mr Vanderheiden on the meaning of sentences, paragraphs and humankind - from beginning to end. He instilled in us a desire to at least properly read the book. Not everyone loved the book, but thanks to him, they at least were able to respect the book.

I don't reread Moby Dick as often as other books. My attempts usually fall off after the first few chapters before my time is taken up by something else (I'm pretty familiar now with Ishamael's wanderings around New Bedford and his friendship with Queequeg...and less with the voyage itself). Recently though, I discovered the Moby Dick Big Read Project, a podcast put together by Plymouth University in the UK. They call it America's great classic, which is also America's most unread classic, and the 'big read' is an attempt to reverse that. In some ways it's a shame that the book drew such an effort across the Atlantic rather than in its own home, but I'm glad that someone did it.

The Big Read is basically that - a different person reads each chapter of Moby Dick, famous and not. Chapter 1 is read by Tilda Swinton. It's fascinating to hear the book instead of read it, and to hear how different people interpret the words. It provides a hint of what the story means to more people than my lonely self. 

So far I haven't progressed past the chapters I am able to reread anyway hahaha. But it has been a long time since I've attempted a reread and I'm reminded why I like the book so much - Ishmael. Ishmael is so flighty and silly, yet real. Simultaneously a victim of his prejudices but also willing to overcome these with an open heart, he befriends Queequeg when, one can imagine, no one else in North America would. I remember thinking it was so odd that Queequeg became a dedicated friend so quickly, but now with a bit more life in me I suppose, Queequeg had no friends in these European and American whaling ports and Ishmael proved himself very special by putting in the effort to be his friend. Ishmael lives by his own rules, and determines the value of people and actions for himself, not simply by what religion or society dictates. We couldn't have Moby Dick without Ishmael and his wandering mind, freely hopping from thought to thought, from this fact or that. 

I think I love Moby Dick because I'm incredibly fond of Ishmael, and in his rambling and hopping thoughts, and thirst to see more of the world, I recognize a kindred spirit. I hope we have more Ishmaels in this world.

I hope to post more about it as I make progress with the 'big read' but since it's just the beginning, I had to simply express how much I love Ishmael (also I'm tired and I've run out of steam to type haha)

(no subject)

Aug. 16th, 2017 10:41 pm
jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
Man I need to get to bed earlier tonight. I went to bed last night at 2, woke up at 10am, which is enough sleep, but by the time I got going, it was afternoon, blergh.

I took a Lyft over to Cellar Door Books, and picked up some books. Linda, the owner, asked me for help getting Latin@ YA and I was like "UH" and had to rack my brain for some names, and asked Twitter. Went to KFC to have lunch, and remembered about WNDB's resources, so I went back to the bookstore.

Anyway, because I was so helpful, Linda told me I was welcome to any of the ARCs in the back room, so I went round the back, and picked up Justina Ireland's Dread Nation, which I'm pretty excited about.

I walked to campus to pick up some more books and clear out my mailbox. Vonnie and I spoke a little--I guess the weight loss is SUPER visible to some people. IDK, I think I look mostly the same.

Walked home with my tea set and water filter, and tomorrow I'll grab the kettle, and then have to figure out how I'm bringing home the posters.

I went to swim later than usual--5pm. Did 4 sets of 6 again, and it got cold again, so I sat in the hot tub again. IDK, I'm not a fan of it. I bought a swim cap and new goggles last night and wish I'd thought about it sooner. I should have also bought a lap counter, too, now that I think of it. But as September rolls in, it will probably get colder? So I'll be at the pool less, probably. I'm gonna see if I can push my laps up to 30 before fall officially gets here, because that would be nice as a personal best. Then I gotta figure out what to do next.

I went to MacDonald's again tonight, this time with a coupon for a Happy Meal. I actually liked it! Four nuggets, half a small fries (SO SMOL!), a chocolate milk, a thing of yogurt (yogurt!!!) and I was actually quite full after. I think that might have been the combo of the yogurt and the milk. I had tummy issues after, which I'll chalk up to the milk, so next time I'll get it with the small orange juice and see how my stomach plays with that, and hopefully it's not the yogurt.

I was thinking of walking to campus to put away some books I'd strewn across a table which was not mine, because Brittany has office hours tomorrow (I think?) so I really shouldn't have all that stuff there. But I thought I'd go home and try to get some sleep early instead, and try waking up earlier.

Face Off through 1.5

Aug. 16th, 2017 11:47 pm
yhlee: hexarchate Andan blue rose (hxx Andan)
[personal profile] yhlee
Note: I've been spoiled for the winner of S1 because I started with 2.1-2.2, both of which I rewatched tonight because the Dragon wanted to watch the show with me, and she wanted to skip S1 because she couldn't stand the backbiting. The Dragon loves art (she's in Talented Art in school) and I think it's really good for her to be exposed to this show since she's enjoying it, and I hope she finds the discussion of aesthetics inspiring. But mostly we're watching it for fun. =)

Read more... )

Meanwhile, in happier news, guess which household's preordered hardcopy of Starfinder RPG arrived today?! =D =D =D I'm not convinced by most of the class/character artwork (some of the gun designs are atrocious--why the fuck would you make a scope design that undulates?!) but the environment/matte painting is gorgeous. I oohed and ahhed over the illustrations for the different homeworlds in particular.

Face Off

Aug. 15th, 2017 11:30 pm
yhlee: rose in a hexagon (hxx emblem Andan)
[personal profile] yhlee
I have watched Face Off 1.1-1.2 and 2.1-2.2 and plan on watching more. It's a SyFy reality? show in which special effects makeup artists are given challenges, and one is eliminated each week/episode until there is a winner.

I'm loving this show, but I will say that this is pretty much the first reality TV show I've watched much of? And the part where someone is eliminated and has to go makes me sad even though I know it's inherent to the format. I turn into a marshmallowy ball of sad over this. So far I have also seen them work in teams and backbiting start due to the stress and to the fact that even if you work in a team only one person gets sent home, so people fight over this, and that turns me into a marshmallow ball of sad too.

But! Special effects makeup is something I know nothing about and that I am finding extremely cool as an art form and as a technical discipline--casting molds, working with materials, coming up with a concept, just blending body paint or makeup...so much! I'm loving that aspect of it and learning about how it works. I also often can't tell what's good or bad on aesthetic or technical merits, which is unsurprising--I know zero about this discipline, while the judges are award-winning experts, so listening to their critiques is so enlightening. :D

Episode 1.2's main challenge involved body-painting completely naked models (with naughty bits blurred out) to match/complement a preassigned painting. When the models dropped their robes on the hostess's command, I swear they were smirking at the contestants. And why shouldn't they be? They're getting paid, and they're not the ones who are getting eliminated, and they're beautiful Hollywood people, getting looked at naked by an audience probably is no big deal to them. :p

I also learned based on one of the contestant's behavior during 1.2 that I seriously judge contestants who are rude to their models! >:( I don't care how stressed you are, there's just no excuse. :(

I don't know if they changed this for S2, but I hate the S1 thing where the challenge winner consults with who gets sent home, but that may be because I hate conflict. :]
umadoshi: (mermaid 02)
[personal profile] umadoshi
Over the course of the day [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose and I managed to get our wires throughly crossed twice regarding the same thing. It stressed me out horribly, and then I felt bad about that, because he was only involved at all because he was giving me and a friend a hand with something. ;_; But AAAAAHHHH, so stressful.

But that notwithstanding, we got some erranding done and had dinner and saw Atomic Blonde with lawyer!friend, who we hadn't seen in...a month or two? (I can't even with time.) So the day wasn't a wash, just frazzling. ("Just". -_-)

(I didn't know until the opening credits that Atomic Blonde is adapted from Antony Johnston's graphic novel The Coldest City, which I'm wholly unfamiliar with, so I have no idea how faithful to it the movie is.)

Three Amazon-related things, weirdly (and very tangentially, in the third case):

--Question: if you have a trial Amazon Prime account and preorder something that won't come out until the trial ends, and you don't opt to keep Prime, do you then pay for shipping when the item is released and ships to you? Or is it still the free/quick Prime shipping because of when you ordered it?


--I don't know if I'm more confused by Amazon's insistence on sending a separate email for every order represented in a package when they bundle items from multiple orders together, or by the fact that the emails don't all come at once. Did I really need four email notifications about one package? And why did it take over ten minutes for them all to arrive, start to finish? (Don't try to answer the "why they don't all come at once" part; I'm sure there's a technical reason, but that doesn't/won't change my feeling that it's silly for them to not arrive all at once.)


--And finally, Sarah Rees Brennan's In Other Lands (the polished/expanded novel version of The Turn of the Story, which she serialized online and which I love fiercely) is out today! It's a BOOK! A book I'll be able to hold in my hands! With mermaids on the cover! It's been fleshed out/revised and edited, and we'll get the ending from Elliot's perspective! (The Turn of the Story is from Elliot's POV, but its original ending was actually written before TotS and is a story in the Monstrous Affections anthology, and is from Luke's POV.)

...and for whatever reason, at least on Amazon.ca and Chapters.ca, the hard copy of the book is still slated to release on August 25. >.< I have a preorder of it via Kas' Prime account, as does Ginny. But the ebook version is already available for both Kindle and Kobo, and the book is officially out today in general...so I think I'm going to cave and buy an ebook copy too, so I can read it.

Here's Sarah's release-day post! The book has received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers’ Weekly, and Sarah says "Bullied due to his personality! Inability to keep his mouth shut! I love how the reviews so far have been like: the hero is a terrible pill, but we are willing to buy this pill and take him home."

And here is Small Beer Press' post about the book's release, which opens with "Five years ago Sarah Rees Brennan emailed Kelly her story, “Wings in the Morning,” for our anthology Monstrous Affections. It was long: 17,000+ words in that early draft — although Sarah told us the actual first draft had been 30,000 words".

So you see, I've both already read and not read this book. I already adore it; I also, unsurprisingly, have a corner of my heart saying "but...but this means the story I already love is changed...?" and worrying a bit. But mostly I'm thrilled about it finally being a BOOK I can HOLD. And did I mention the mermaids? (I did.) Elliot, for all his brattiness and lack of enchantment with the magical place in which he goes to school, is appropriately entranced by and appreciative of mermaids.

Serene! Luke! ELLIOT! My heart...!

(no subject)

Aug. 14th, 2017 09:42 pm
jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
So I've been reading in bed, on my phone. That's going pretty okay.

Today, I went to campus, and joined a Moltres raid on the way there. On the way back home, Lewis texted me, saying he was done teaching, so I told him I'd be down to go raiding some more if he had a car. He does, so, we go downtown, we join a Lugia raid, then move over to a Zapdos raid. We wander around spinning stops, come across a couple who had raided with us, and decide to head down to Jurupa Valley for a Moltres. We have to hang out a while, because people are taking time to get there, but with 8 people, we get the Moltres. Then as a group, we head out to an Articuno raid, where we join another group, and make it a raid of 19 people.

I got 4 out of 5 legendaries. Pretty good streak thus far. Lewis finally has a couple of legendaries in his 'dex, too.

When I got home, I decide, well, the sun's going down, but the water might still be warm, so I head out for a swim (this is around 6.40pm). And, well, not only is the sun going down, but the air is WINDY, and the temperature's dipped under 30'c, so the water is warmer, and just, brrrrr.... it's cold enough that I decide to do three sets of 6 laps, which brings my personal best up to 24 laps. Someone else also swam, he came in later, but left earlier. I was gonna skedaddle home right after getting out of the water but it was SO COLD I leapt into the hot tub nearby instead to warm up. It's kinda awkward being in a hot tub with someone else there who you're not talking to!!!

So, yay personal best, but, dammit, my dinner is so fucking late as a result =/ I really must get my day moving earlier so I can eat at actual meal times.

[story] A Benefactor

Aug. 14th, 2017 08:54 pm
yhlee: Korean tomb art from Silla Dynasty: the Heavenly Horse (Cheonmachong). (Korea cheonmachong)
[personal profile] yhlee
For M.J.D.
Prompt: Sejong Taewang [Wikipedia], "time travel"

Author's Note: I apologize for any infelicities in the setting; it's been some six years since I've visited South Korea and I'm not up to date on the culture, although I did, indeed, drag my mom to Kyobo Mungo as many times as she would stand for it.

===

Eun-hee's friend Bora was supposed to have met her at Kyobo Book Center fifteen minutes ago. Late as usual. Eun-hee tucked herself between two shelves of excruciatingly tedious-looking monographs and texted Bora, just to be sure. A harried woman glided past her, then frowned at Eun-hee until she made way for the woman to peruse the shelves' offerings.

Grumbling a little, Eun-hee gave up on lurking between the shelves. She texted Bora to meet her near the area selling stationery supplies, then strode off, dodging a giggling group of students and a couple not much older than herself. She could always use more notebooks, and she liked the cute little erasers that came in every shape imaginable.

Eun-hee browsed the notebooks on offer. Humming happily to herself, she picked out a selection with adorable drawings of flowers and fruits, or cartoon animals, and erasers to match. She was considering restocking gel pens when it occurred to her to check her purse to see if she'd brought enough money.

Frantic digging turned up her transit pass, that grotesque (and hopefully fake) turquoise-dyed rabbit's foot an English tutor from Stateside had given her, a sad assortment of loose change, a crumpled memo note from her mom reminding her to restock on ginger, that green crystal earstud she had thought she'd lost, but no wallet. Eun-hee cursed under her breath, furtively set down her pile of loot on one of the counters, and began digging again, just in case she'd missed it somewhere obvious.

"Excuse me," said a gravelly male voice.

Eun-hee looked up at the ajeossi in dark turtleneck and slacks who had come up beside her and who was rubbing his chin as if he wasn't used to it being shaved. "Oh, I'm so sorry," she said, and began to scoot out of the way.

"No, no, Miss," the ajeossi said. He was smiling at her, not in a creepy way, but like someone who had discovered a hilarious secret and wanted to share it. He dug in his pocket, then held out three 10,000-won bills. "I have more of these than I could ever possibly make use of. It's like the supply is infinite."

Eun-hee blinked. Was he offering her money? And what did he mean, infinite supply of 10,000-won bills? She was too flabbergasted to be offended. "No, it's all right," she said, as politely as she could manage. "My friend will be here soon. I can borrow some money from her."

"Please, Miss," the ajeossi said. "I can't think of a better use for a few spare 10,000-won bills. I like to see someone with a love for writing." He deposited the bills on top of the pile of notebooks and smiled again, then walked off, soon vanishing into the crowd.

Eun-hee snatched up the bills and started after him, only to be blocked by shoppers. While waiting for the foot traffic to clear, she smoothed the bills with her thumb and examined them more closely. Maybe he'd been trying to pass off counterfeits?

Her gaze snagged on the portrait of King Sejong the Great at the left of the bill. Wait a moment...Mentally, she subtracted the facial hair and reimagined him in modern clothing, like a turtleneck. The face was a perfect match.

Well, if the inventor of the Korean alphabet wanted her to have some notebooks and study hard, who was she to say no? Shaking her head in bemusement, Eun-hee retrieved her stack of notebooks and erasers and headed for the counter to pay up.

your daily catten

Aug. 14th, 2017 07:42 pm
yhlee: kitty using bullet journal as pillow (bullet journal)
[personal profile] yhlee
It's been a while but I decided to try to resume doing daily sketches...



Cloud, lounging on the floor.

Ink: Montblanc Burgundy Red
Pen: Conway Stewart Churchill in Red Stardust. Honestly not my first choice of sketching pen because it's a bit heavier and larger than what I usually prefer, but man does it have a smooth nib.
umadoshi: (Newsflesh - check this out (kasmir))
[personal profile] umadoshi
Fannish/Geeky Things

This link about Carrie Fisher and The Last Jedi was making the rounds on Twitter largely because of the story Oscar Isaac tells about her at the end of the article.

The Hugo nomination stats are out (along with other statistics), so naturally I checked the Best Series category, where I found Newsflesh in the list of top nominees, appearing on 85 ballots. (The category header indicates that there were 1393 votes for 291 nominees.) The Toby books, which did make it onto the final ballot, were on 129 nominating ballots.

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] sovay, look at Philip Odango's marvelous cosplay of Maui from Moana.

"Dean Winchester and Commander Shepard Walk Into A Bar: Why Fanon Matters". [Alasdair Stuart at Uncanny Magazine]


Social Justice

"Women Are Dying Because Doctors Treat Us Like Men: For years, physicians have referred to women's healthcare as 'bikini medicine' and assumed they can diagnose and treat both genders the same way. But it's costing women their lives". [Marie Claire]

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] wendelah1, "41 Things You Should Know About Abortions And The Doctors Who Perform Them". [Buzzfeed]

"Ready to Ditch White Feminism? Here Are 6 Black Feminist Concepts You Need to Know".

"Battery Theory: For when the Spoon Theory is too confusing".

"Accessibility [of the web] according to actual people with disabilities".

"Are men talking too much?" is an online tool for tracking who's dominating a conversation. (Relevant info at this Facebook post.)

"A post for men about creepy men".

"The Sugarcoated Language Of White Fragility". [July 2016] (Uses Trump as an illustration, FYI.)


Miscellaneous

Via a post on [dreamwidth.org profile] wotd (Word of the Day), The Phrontistery dedicates itself to "obscure words and vocabulary resources". It includes lists of lost words, obscure words, word lists by topic, short words for Scrabble purposes...many things! I've barely scratched the surface.

"Finding Dory Writer and Hamilton Director to Tell the Story of the U.S. Military’s First Female Pilots". [The Mary Sue]

Via [locked], "Gratitude Lists Are B.S. — It Was an 'Ingratitude' List That Saved Me".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] jimhines, "Incredible Bonsai Trees Made Of 1000s Of Miniature Origami Cranes By Naoki Onogawa" and "10+ Badass Trees That Refuse To Die No Matter What".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] klgaffney, "The Lost City That’s Not Lost, Not a City, and Doesn’t Need to Be Discovered".

Dice Tales

Aug. 13th, 2017 05:50 pm
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
I was delighted when I heard that Marie Brennan ([personal profile] swan_tower) was releasing her series of essays on storytelling and RPGs (tabletop and LARP) in ebook format. I've enjoyed these essays, but I am rather terrible at keeping up with essays on websites/blogs, and having them all in one place where I can read them in one fell schwoompf--to say nothing of being able to pay the author to encourage her to write more ;)--was very appealing.

Dice Tales discusses the RPGs and LARPs from several interlocking perspectives: that of the writer, that of the GM, that of the player, and that of the anthropologist. In terms of writing, Brennan talks about ways that the roleplaying experience has informed her writing and v.v., and ways in which storytelling differs between the media. There are also handy GM tips (I am all about handy GM tips, as a GM of limited experience) and exciting player anecdotes. And I have no background in anthropology at all, and Brennan was explicitly studying RPGs while doing anthropology, so it was very cool to hear about them through that lens.

Essays include discussions of what an RPG is, why the mechanics matter, the phenomenon of house rules, how GMs find leverage over their players and ways to use rather than abuse player trust, positive and negative uses of metagaming, the uses of costuming (mostly in a LARP context), when character death is appropriate, the question of consent in games, railroading and GM responsiveness...really, there's a ton here, and it's a great read all the way through.

I found this read especially timely because I am currently GMing a DW comm RPG, [community profile] hexarchate_rpg. Dice Tales doesn't explicitly address play-by-email or forum formats, but a lot of the GMing advice applies anyway. I personally find text media more comfortable because I am not a fast thinker and I have a terrible memory, so text gives me time to think up responses and plot things out and refer to previous moves, notes, etc. I am also shameless--I'm okay asking players directly what plot hook they want out of X development.

The anecdotes of great RPG/LARP experiences sound great, and I find myself envious--in GNS terms, I have rarely gotten to experience Narrative-focused play, which is right now what I prefer. (I used to be a split Narrativist/Simulationist in high school and college. I legit got into Fidonet arguments over whether AC represented damage reduction or damage avoidance. *facepalm* Then I grew up and realized that if you care about simulationism, you shouldn't be using AD&fuckingD in the first place.) When Joe ran his Eberron campaign back in Pasadena (notable for being maybe the only campaign I've been in that ran through to completion, in about a year meeting weekly), my very favorite session was the one in which we didn't even do combat, and I don't think there was a single dice roll. We had been handed the magical equivalent of the plans for the atomic bomb and had to decide what the ethical thing to do with it was, and we spent the entire session as a party discussing how to deal with it responsibly.

On the other hand, I can't help but reflect that I'm not good at tabletop (and would probably be even worse at LARP). As I said above, I'm not a fast thinker. I usually end up spending all our Pathfinder Society sessions being unofficial designated party notetaker (I have fountain pens and I like to use them?) and sketching randomly until someone tells me we're in combat and it's my turn to Power Attack. I can't act my way out of a paper bag, and usually by the time I've thought of a contribution, the play has moved on. So I just have to accept that I'm never going to be particularly useful in a live roleplaying situation. This thing where advanced roleplayers stretch themselves by playing different character types is basically unimaginable to me. I usually ask Joe to design the easiest viable character, mechanics-wise, to play, which is why I ended up with a barbarian in a team feat barbarian (me) + blood rager (Dragon) + skald.

My most successful experiences GMing tabletop/in-person were (a) a one-shot using Over the Edge, a very rules-light system (and even then, I used very few dice rolls and let people freeform most interactions since with a one-shot there's no reason not to) and (b) the Hidden Emperor L5R AU campaign that Joe and I co-GM'd; I handled most of the description and Joe handled the mechanics. :]

(It's hilarious how much I hate crunchy systems. I have a B.A. in math, for God's sake. But I want the math to...mean something? And most systems just feel like they get in the way, for me, because as a writer I'm effectively used to freeforming the hell out of everything.)

Still, even if I'm not a good gamer, I like reading about gaming, and I find different gaming systems and anecdotes (my God, the gazebo story!) inspirational as a writer. :)

Anyway, enough personal maundering--this ebook is a lot of fun, and it's available from Amazon (and probably a couple other places) or Book View Cafe in mobi or epub. Recommended.

[hxx] [story] Irriz the Assassin-Cat

Aug. 13th, 2017 05:04 pm
yhlee: sleepy kitty (Cloud)
[personal profile] yhlee
For: [personal profile] vass
Prompt: Shuos Zehun, "assassin-cats"

It was one hour and fourteen minutes past bedtime in the Hragoshik household, and the youngest of the little ones, four-year-old Piri, would not go to bed.

Zehun had just arrived twelve minutes ago by shuttle from the starport, bringing a modest travel bag and, as usual, the friendliest and most genial of their cats, Irriz. Sometimes people looked oddly at Zehun for traveling with a cat--a cat on a harness and leash, at that--before they realized who the cat's owner was. When it came to travel, Zehun was a pragmatist. It wasn't true that they ordered retaliatory assassinations if people insisted on delaying them during their rare visits to family, but if their reputation allowed them to skip the lines, why not?

Besides, Irriz, like all of Zehun's cats, was named after a notorious Shuos assassin. Specifically, Shuos Irriz had, in an earlier century, succeeded in assassinating all of a particular Andan hexarch's children and siblings, and had been working her way through a crowd of cousins when she'd died tragically (?) young of unexpected allergic reaction. Whether Irriz the cat would die the same way was an open question, considering how much she liked to try to eat the hexarch's snacks.

Zehun's second daughter, Verissen, was one of Piri's mothers. Verissen, too, had never been particularly good at falling asleep at times convenient for parents. Zehun enjoyed a moment of delicious generational revenge as they listened to Verissen trying to bribe Piri with, alternately (1) an additional bedtime story, (2) shadow-figures against the wall, or (3) extra bits of shredded chicken in Piri's breakfast porridge. Piri wasn't having any of it. In the meantime, Zehun removed the harness, then provided food, water, and a litter box for Irriz, all of which the cat availed herself of.

Irriz made her way to a black velvet armchair on which her splendid white hairs would show up magnificently, raked it with her claws for good measure, then flopped onto it. Fortunately the velvet would heal itself. The hairs were another matter. The velvet was supposed to eat detritus, but for some reason it always choked on cat hairs.

Satisfied that their cat was content, Zehun poked their head into the room where Piri was sitting up in bed with her face screwed up and her blankets kicked to one side. "Why aren't you getting one of the household servitors to put her to bed?" Zehun asked Verissen.

"I usually do that," Verissen said, tugging on a lock of hair straggling loose from its braid, "but I thought we should spend more time together. Of course, I also thought she'd be asleep by now so I could catch up with you properly. I don't know what the problem is!"

Zehun crouched down to bring themselves eye to eye with the little girl. "Hello, Piri," they said softly. "Remember me?"

Piri snuffled. "Gran! Gran, there are too many shadows."

Zehun glanced at Verissen. "You take a break, Rissa. I'll see to the little one."

Verissen didn't even argue, just patted Piri on the head and beat a swift retreat.

Piri snuffled some more. "Gran, I looked under the bed and there are shadows there."

"That means the candlevines are no good," Zehun agreed, "since they're only on the walls. Do you want candlevines under the bed, too?" Probably a nuisance to get the servitors to do it tonight, but it could be managed with the aid of the household matter printer.

"But I won't be able to see anything under the bed," Piri said, with perfect logic, "so how will I know it's working?"

Zehun considered this. "I think I have a solution," they said. "Come with me."

The two of them emerged into the living room together. Verissen was talking to one of her wives about a dinner party she had planned for next week. She opened her mouth to protest, then closed it when Zehun looked at her.

Irriz the cat was still sprawled on the black velvet armchair, having festooned it with numerous long white hairs. Zehun scooped her up. Irriz mewed in protest, but Zehun had long practice avoiding claws.

Zehun and Piri walked back into Piri's bedroom. "You remember Irriz, too, don't you?" Zehun said to their granddaughter.

Piri nodded and reached out for Irriz's tail.

Zehun smoothly diverted Piri's hand to the cat's head, and Piri obediently began scritching Irriz behind the ears. "Irriz is a very special cat," Zehun said. "Irriz is a Shuos cat, and beyond that, Irriz is a Shuos assassin-cat."

Piri looked at Irriz wide-eyed.

"That's right," Zehun said. "And furthermore, since Irriz is a cat, Irriz specializes in assassinating shadows. She will"--this part was even true--"spend the entire night chasing shadows if you let her."

"She'll chase the shadows away?" Piri asked, her voice trembling just a little.

Zehun nodded.

Irriz purred, which probably had more to do with the scritches than the promise of delicious shadows to pounce on, but who knew?

"Go to bed, Piri," Zehun said, and this time Piri did just that. Irriz clambered into the bed and curled up next to her, ready to go shadow-hunting at the slightest provocation.

(no subject)

Aug. 13th, 2017 03:04 pm
yhlee: Korean tomb art from Silla Dynasty: the Heavenly Horse (Cheonmachong). (Korea cheonmachong)
[personal profile] yhlee
I'm looking at some Twitter account Tweeting about me in Hangeul for whatever reason (it's nothing bad) and realizing that Korean cheats on Twitter! Because Twitter has that 140-character limit...but each syllable-block of Hangeul is apparently counted as a "character"! So Korean can fit more actual words into a Tweet! That's hilarious.

I bet you get even better with Chinese and Japanese...I'd never thought about that. :D

I'm still bemused that because of the transliteration, everyone seems to assume my family name is 리. It's not! It's 이! :p Sorry, Dad...

Draconic wisdom

Aug. 13th, 2017 02:29 pm
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
[personal profile] yhlee
Dragon: "Since you already have all these readers judging you, Mom, I'm gonna judge you too."
Me: -_-

The joys of raising a snarkebeest Dragon. ;)
lakemonsters: (Default)
[personal profile] lakemonsters
a large number of immigrants do not leave their country on a whim. not because they want to. they leave because it's necessary to their search for a better life. the charlottesville virginia terrorist march is a manifestation of greed and selfisness - a refusal to share an america that is, in truth, large enough for all of us.

Whistle, Stop and Go

Aug. 12th, 2017 10:08 pm
lakemonsters: (Default)
[personal profile] lakemonsters
as always i keep a few friends close and the rest of humanity at arm's length. some may call it anti-social but it's more a selective kind of friendliness on my part. Not everyone can understand my sense of humor and more importantly not everyone can ride my mood swings or deal with my temper. i do have one. it's hard for me to keep mum and silent about things that do matter to me or if i feel that there is injustice happening where i am.

this past week has been a test.

i kid you not, because if i did not have susanna to hear me out - i would have punched someone already. i think that no one appreciates being looked down upon or taken for granted. and that's my double whammy this week. both things happened in one go, courtesy of people i trusted, used to care about. now, they no longer matter. they are just people at work.

when you experience that kind of injustice and betrayal you feel rage. but then catharsis happens. that settling peace that washes over you, cleanses your vision and makes you realize things that was once a little muddled and murky.

took this past week as a sign. took it as a wake up call.

that moment you feel brave, that feeling you get when you know you can do things without having anyone as a crutch is liberating.

sure. i get by with a little help from my friends, but more importantly, i know who my friends are. they are far fewer than when i started my job - but that's more than okay.
lakemonsters: (Forever One Soul)
[personal profile] lakemonsters
As far as Lance can remember, his parents would dress him and his sisters up in their little raincoats and they would take a walk under the rain - as a family. There's something about the water, apparently, for the McClains.

Thinking about it now, Lance thinks that it might be because his Dad is a true blue Scotch who grew up with six months of sunlight and 6 months of darkness. Also, Glasgow doesn't exactly encourage long walks under the rain considering how cold it gets on certain months. Cuba must have been a world apart, must have been what he thought as paradise.

The permanent vacation was the next step. + )

Mishmash post before I do some work

Aug. 12th, 2017 02:27 pm
umadoshi: (Tori "freedom" (strangelittlex))
[personal profile] umadoshi
Revoltingly humid today--the kind of day where I'll be so glad to hit the shower, but am also kind of dreading it because getting out of the shower will feel so gross within seconds and the whole thing will feel pointless by the time I'm dressed. >.< (I'm really not good with sweat and stickiness. Why are bodies?)

This weekend I'm on once-a-day cat-feeding duty for friends who live maybe ten minutes away on foot, which is very convenient, but since it's evening feeding, it's too early for me to go and come back and be done for the day (and done being rained on, if that happens). *wry* I'm a procrastinator in many ways, but in terms of concrete things that have to be done on a given day, I usually lean towards getting them out of the way promptly, so a corner of my brain keeps perking up and thinking, "Oh! I could head over there now and be done--wait, no."

I need to post about K.B. Spangler's books/webcomic, and I even have some notes jotted down, but haven't managed to turn those notes into anything yet. (Technically her work all falls under the "A Girl and Her Fed universe" banner--AGAHF being the webcomic, which came first and I suspect is the best-known part?--but since I started with the novels, most of which are about Rachel Peng, who isn't even in the first act of AGAHF, I find myself defaulting to labeling it all as Rachel-related in my head.)

Anyway, I've read almost everything at this point, except that I haven't started the second act of the comic yet, and there are also some bonus comics or something available as pdfs in Spangler's online store, which I should pick up. So in theory, a proper post on it should happen any day now.

--For those who haven't heard, [dreamwidth.org profile] seanan_mcguire won the Best Novella Hugo for Every Heart a Doorway!

--There's a second track available from the upcoming Tori Amos album: "Up the Creek".

--My brain doesn't feel like it even has the memory of how to write fiction. Thanks, brain.

--I'm now three (3) whole episodes into Black Sails. I'm not remotely in love, but I gather very few people are at this point; that said, those three episodes haven't been as bad as I was afraid of. (That said, they've depicted several commonly-triggery things. But I went in expecting that, and am fortunate enough to not have any actual triggers myself.)

--This day is not conducive to staying awake, but Monday's deadline is fast approaching. And in the next month or so I'm hoping to get ahead on my freelance work, in case Casual Job starts up for the fall before September ends...and I just acquired some bonus prose proofreading work to do by the end of September, too. (Yay!)
lakemonsters: (Default)
[personal profile] lakemonsters
The weed that they share gives him a good buzz.

Hunk barely feels it but that doesn't mean he isn't enjoying himself as he jumps off the edge of the giant rock, only to land with a great big splash after the forty-something-feet drop.

Lance laughs, he laughs until his throat aches, until his lungs clench and his tears edge in his eyes. Lance fakes it so well but doesn't quite make it to heart. Because he can fool everyone around him but he can't fool himself.

Fool. + )