Haven’t done a ficathon in ages

When I woke up at 4:30 this morning (because my son, reading in bed, dropped the 3rd Edition AD&D Monster Manual onto the floor above my head) I could not fall back to sleep. The things keeping me awake were:

1. Remember to use proper form on your kettlebell swings when you work out tomorrow. Good squats, Sigrid!

2. If M wakes K up, I will be upset with him.

3. The kids have karate tomorrow. Don’t forget.

4. Did you order the things you were supposed to order? Yes, yes you did. Shut up.

5. You have to post the fic to femslash12 tomorrow. You have to post the fic to femslash12 tomorrow. DO NOT FORGET. You have to post tomorrow.

6. Remember to use proper form on you kettlebell swings …

etc.

Loop infinitely until 7:30 a.m.

Good morning, all!

But I did remember to post my fic.

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November 29 2012

1. I made the tastiest baked sweet potatoes last night. Recipe here.

2. My son is walking around this morning coughing wetly. DO NOT WANT.

3. K did not make it into the summer circus show. I am telling her, and myself, that it’s because she’s young, still. A part of me wants to ask the folks at circus if there’s something K isn’t doing — is she goofing off in classes when we’re not there? Has she missed too many classes? Does she not work hard enough? — but, I don’t want to be that parent. And, youth is plausible right now. K is in a bunch of classes that are above her age — classes she was put into by circus, classes we didn’t push for. This is, I think, all to the good. But it makes her a year or two or three younger than everyone else, and it makes her six inches shorter than everyone else.

This is, at any rate, what I am telling myself and her. It’s hard for her, though, since all her friends and classmates got in, and are talking about the show. On the other hand, it’s not a bad thing to learn how to audition and not get what you want.

Land of mixed feelings, is what I’m saying, here.

4. We put the tree up yesterday! And got out the Christmas books! And put out the creche! All is lovely and festive.

Which reminds me, I had really better get going on actually WRITING Yuletide instead of just thinking about it.

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November 28 2012

1. Because it’s a Christmas movie, I rewatched Die Hard. In no particular order:

– McClane smokes a cigarette in an airport.
– McClane carries a gun on an airplane.
– No-one has a mobile phone.
– Alan Rickman is young.

I …

I am not sure I am ready for the movies I grew up with to be historical fiction. There you have it, though.

2. So, I was reading The Violinist’s Thumb, Sam Keen’s latest book. (He wrote The Disappearing Spoon.) And there’s a bit in there about Vitamin A poisoning. The severe effects are totally disgusting and lethal. So I went and looked up how much Vitamin A is toxic.

Let me say, the internets are vague and contradictory on this point. A great deal of close reading indicated, however, that what most people were talking about was overdosing on supplements. I am eating about 2-8 times the RDA of beta carotene in my food, which is absolutely not at all the same thing, according to the NIH. According to the NIH, there is no risk whatsoever to eating actual real foods naturally high in beta carotene and other carotenoids. (Vitamin A fortified foods are a different matter.) You will eventually turn orange from eating too much, but that’s still not near [description of vitamin A poisoning redacted].

Which is what happens when you eat polar bear livers.

Do not, for the love of god, eat polar bear livers. They will kill you dead in twenty-four hours.

3. We ordered a physical copy of A History of the World in 100 Objects, by Neil MacGregor, as the next history book for the kids. We’ll be finishing up the current American History text in a couple weeks. Time to switch back to the world.

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Most times, she just don’t want you

This article by Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Raymond Chandler’s Private Dick

is unknowingly in conversation with this video of a monologue by Lindy West:

Lindy West at Back Fence PDX.

The key part, from Coates:

“It’s a kind of pornography, a humiliated boy’s idea of what manhood must be. I wish more of the art I loved, the art rendered by dudes, did not take sexual vulnerability as something to be defeated, but as an actual fact. You do not get the girl. More directly, you have no actual right to get the girl. Most times, she just don’t want you. And when she does, your reply is, very often, to pine after some other “her.”

Some of us really do go there—Ricky Gervais’s David Brent does it in the extreme. But I’m hunting for more. In the end, we don’t just hate women. We hate ourselves. There’s a lot of juice in confronting not women, not the object, but the subject; in honing in on that part of our makeup which seems bent on our humiliation.”

And the key part, from West:

“And here’s what he says. He says, ‘I’m making this vlog because I’m not happy with the direction that my life is going. I don’t. I’m not, I don’t like my career, if you can call it that, I’m unhappy with the way that I look, I’m unsatisfied with myself as a man, and not just as a man, but as a human being.'”

Read, watch. Contemplate.

My question for myself is, what do I do to make this better for the future?

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John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War

I’m pretty late to the party on this, I know. But I’ll say it nonetheless. John Scalzi’s novel, Old Man’s War, is a great book.

It’s science fiction — and the science never overwhelms the characters or plot, yet pervades the book throughout. Incredibly deftly done.

The plot is familiar and comfortable — and done in a way that is fresh and exciting.

The settings are wild and varied — and each is viscerally rendered with human-scale details.

The characters are vividly real, each one distinct from the next, each distinctly and fully human.

Old Man’s War. It’s good. It’s downright good. I recommend — no, I urge you — to give this a try. Particularly if science fiction war novels are NOT your usual cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong — this is, very much, a science fiction novel about a solider in a war. But it is so well done, with so much richness and depth, that it’s much more than that.

Old Man’s War. John Scalzi. Give it a look.

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Vacation

We’re at my mom’s for Thanksgiving.

Have a good week, y’all!

American Horror Story: Asylum

I really quite loved American Horror Story. The first series was a completely over-the-top montage of haunted house tropes. Ghosts, unfinished business, and being unsafe in one’s own home, these were the themes of AHS. In addition, AHS was, very cleverly, a particularly American horror story. It focused on insecurities about sex and money in ways that aren’t really new. In Danse Macabre, Stephen King pointed out that The Amityville Horror was fundamentally about buying more real estate than you could afford. AHS latched on to some of that, too.

This second series is — and this is all in the trailers, no real spoilers — set in the 1950s, in a mental asylum, and deals with Catholicism, demonic possession, and medical experimentation.

It’s still fundamentally a show about sexual tensions. That much hasn’t changed. But this series doesn’t move me as much as the first. I don’t know if it’s because I, personally, am more afraid of haunted houses than I am afraid of Catholics and demons, or if this second series isn’t as good.

The acting is, as before, top-notch. The cast is exceptional, and they are well-directed. Everyone absolutely commits to the most bizarre, abject, horrifying, crazy-pants over-the-top melodrama. It’s delightful.

But … but there’s really a lot being jammed into the series. In the first series, all the separate elements were explained by the fact that many of them were ghosts. Ghosts with their own backstories and explanations, which we got to see in elaborate flashback scenes, yes, but they weren’t all happening at the same time. In this Asylum series we have a lot of plots and themes all going on at once. I find my disbelief-suspenders are a bit strained. “Really?” I think. “First we had [redacted], and now we have [redacted], and now you’re adding [redacted]? Seriously? All in one place? Huh.”

I found the flashback framing of the ghosts in series one to be very … clean. Each episode developed one ghost backstory and two or three present-day plots, until the final couple of episodes in which everything was all layered together at once – by which time we were ready for it. I liked meeting the ghosts slowly. Series two is just not quite working as well for me.

That said, AHS was, and still is, a show that takes risks. It goes for broke, doubles down, bats for the wall — whatever your metaphor of choice is, here. Not every move works. Some choices are predictable, others are merely grotesque. But when they do work, they are really damn creepy.

If Catholics, demons, and medical experimentation are areas of the horror genre you like, I still strongly recommend Asylum. And if haunted houses and ghosts are your cup of tea, go watched the first series. It’s a delight.

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