chaiya: (eating brains)
As I've said before, I'm not a blood-and-guts kind of girl. I'm a bit squeamish. Sin City was too intense and graphic a movie for me, despite being cartoonish.

And Mira Grant (pseudonym of [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire) is writing one of my favorite series ever. About zombies, and life after the end of the world. I swear, this is the last thing I expected to happen when I cracked open that first book spine.

If Feed, the first title in this trilogy, was a first date, it was a roller coaster of action, adventure, tears, laughter, cynicism, and one heck of what I originally thought would be a one-night stand.

Deadline was preordered as soon as said one-night stand had concluded, because I was hungry -- no, desperate -- for more. It took forever to appear on my doorstep, but once the second book was in my hot little hands, I was swamped in the world of fights for one's life, the truth, and more zombies (and real character deaths) than I could safely count. This second date ravished me, and had me swooning to the music. I may have had an orgasm from some character developments. Just saying.

Feed is deservedly up for a Hugo this year. Deadline is no less worthy. I am scared about how much Blackout, once it's published, will rock my little world.

You should all read Mira Grant. This is the sort of infection we should spread.
chaiya: (storm troopers)
It is SO cute!

Movie available here.
chaiya: (spicy food)
[livejournal.com profile] hakamadare: In this household, we play BOTH kinds of music -- folk, and singer-songwriter!
(The room collapses in giggles.)
(Guest chokes on strawberry smoothie.)
[livejournal.com profile] hakamadare: Awesome! I get to tell a funny joke, AND I get to resuscitate someone!
chaiya: (eating brains)
[livejournal.com profile] hakamadare: Shall I show you the ways of the ancients?
[livejournal.com profile] devoken: Oh, yes, please!
[livejournal.com profile] hakamadare: We are going to make couscous using ... worm hole technology!
[livejournal.com profile] devoken: (gasp!)
[livejournal.com profile] hakamadare: Scorpius can't take it from my brain!


[livejournal.com profile] rednikki, I thought of you in particular at that last bit. ;)
chaiya: (huh?)
My review for this book was always going to start with "I read this book so that you don't have to."

Unfortunately, it's taken me two weeks of trying to admit that it's worse than that. I couldn't finish reading this book.

You would think that a steampunky alternate reality book about Sir Richard Francis Burton (who, among other things, published a famous translation of the Kama Sutra during the Victorian era, after which he was knighted by Queen Victoria!) ... you would think that such a book would be, in a word, AWESOME.

It is not. The writing simply fails.

This is the third paragraph of the book:

From where she stood on the threshold of the "robing room," hidden by its partially closed door, Isabel Arundell could see that her lover's normally dark and intense eyes were wide with shock, filled with a sudden vulnerability. His mouth moved spasmodically, as if he were struggling to chew and swallow something indigestible. She longed to rush to his side to comfort him and to ask what tidings had wounded him; to snatch up that note and read it; to find out who had killed himself; but such a display would be unseemly in front of the small gathering, not to mention embarrassing for Richard. He, among all men, stood on his own two feet, no matter how dire the situation. Isabel alone was aware of his sensitivity; and she would never cause it to be exposed to others.

Okay, so the initial narrator (who, by the way, never narrates again, at least as far as I read) describes Burton as someone who suffers in silence, despite having obvious signs from across the room that he's in distress (and she can somehow see his eyes fill with vulnerability from across said room... which surely means his pals can see it, too?). The author then spends the next several pages describing how publicly Burton displays his distress. My trust in the narrative of the story or the authenticity of the characters never recovered, although I read the next 66 pages.

I don't remember who recommended this book to me as something that might be Hugo nomination worthy, but I hope I didn't get any further recommendations from that person.
chaiya: (asl "c")
I was somewhat dubious when I heard that Seanan McGuire, newly-minted winner of the Campbell Award this summer (aka [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire), was also publishing a series of books under a different pseudonym. Whyonearthwouldyoudothat? I asked. But it turns out she put a lot of thought into the answer, and she wrote a handy LJ post about it, so if you're curious to read more than the pico-answer, go over to her longer explanation. The most salient point, for me, is genre separation, and the fact that Feed has, as the author herself acknowledges, "a high body count." I agree with her that the audience for Mira Grant books has overlap with the audience for Seanan McGuire books, but they're not entirely the same. Yay, Venn diagrams!

Those of you who have ever watched a movie with me know the term "Crystal-friendly Movie." It means a movie that won't have lots of graphic violence, basically. I walked out on Sin City in the theatre, and nearly broke up with [livejournal.com profile] hakamadare over his choice of movie that night. So you might be particularly confused when I say that this novel, a dystopian future in which lots of people die, graphically, on camera was one that I loved. It made me weep. It wrenched my heart. But I loved it. It was well written. It was poignant and powerful. It made me think. I want to buy lots of copies and give them to my friends.

It's the first book on my list of Hugo nomination submissions. You should all go read it, whether or not you're already a fan of [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire. Particularly if you're a fan of zombies, but I'm not at all a zombie person, and I absolutely loved this book. Even when it broke my heart.

[livejournal.com profile] moominmolly and her crowd, this is so written just for you!
chaiya: (books)
I am a compulsive reader and collector of children's books. I don't necessarily have good taste in children's books when they are beloved works from my own youth (the Mode Series by Anthony Piers being one example). But when not blinded by nostalgia, I like to think that I ditch the poor ones and only keep exemplary modern ones. This one is a keeper.

White Cat is the first in a new series by Holly Black, a YA novel that is more urban fantasy than anything else. Magic in this world is hereditary, perhaps 1% of the population has it, and its practitioners are known as "curse workers." There's a lot of interesting social commentary to be had in these pages, and I read it with interest. I did have some difficulty pegging what age I'd deem this book appropriate for -- there's minor character death on-screen, no sex but some sexual situations, no drugs but coercive situations, and discussion of some complex ethical situations. The cover says ages 14 and up, but I think I'd give it to a mature 12-year-old I know.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The main character, a boy around the age of 15, is a likable ruffian. The female characters were sassy, not cowed by the powerful men in their lives. There were only really two female characters we spent much time on, as opposed to five male ones, but those two were quirky and interesting and nonstandard in practically every way. The male characters were diverse and layered, and the narrator surprised and pleased me on multiple occasions. He had a voice of honesty, even while calling himself a con man. I grew fond of him while reading this book, and intend to continue reading the series as it comes out.
chaiya: (books)
Okay, I admit it. I'm a bit of a sucker for books, movies, and entertainment in general. I will watch terrible tv shows in the gym, get hooked on a story or character, and go look it up on Netflix the next time I have a free hour. I have only once purposefully walked out on a movie without finishing it, so far as I can recall. For God's sake, I watched Andromeda at least partway into season five before I finally killed it dead. (For those of you who cringe at this revelation, I will say that only seasons one and two remain on our shelves. I'm not that tasteless.)

Given that background information, then, when I say that I nearly quit Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas a couple of times before page 50, perhaps you can read my full meaning in those words.

The novel is a meta-novel, really, about a writer-turned-book-reviewer who wants to have an affair, whose friends cycle in and out of her thoughts and days, whose boyfriend is a jobless loser. I kept wondering how much the protagonist/narrator, Meg, was a stand-in for the author documenting her own writing crisis and relationship drama. It made for an unsettling read. I couldn't get rid of that voyeuristic feeling that the author was talking about an insufficiently fictionalized self, particularly as the narrator often discussed how often her (the narrator's) novel draft changed when she added and deleted details from her (the narrator's) life. A bit more commentary ... )

I won't reread this book. That said, my writing this review is an example of my stepping off a cliff, according to the narrator. It can't have been all bad.
chaiya: (storm troopers)
Now that Arisia 2011 work is mostly done, it's time to do a bit of Hugo nominating. In prep for this, I'm trying to read several books by the end of March.

If anyone has a copy of the following, please let me know?
Zendegi by Greg Egan
Quantum Theif by Hannu Rajaniemi
Red Plenty by Francis Spufford
Lightborn by Tricia Sullivan
Yarn by Jon Armstrong
State of Decay by James Knapp
The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente

2010 books I've already obtained or gotten access to (yay, public library and helpful friends!):
Counterfeit Magic and The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
The Reapers are Angels by Aiden Bell
Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy
The Strange Affair of the Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
Surface Detail by Iain Banks
Freak Magnet by Andrew Auseon
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
An Artificial Night and A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire
Feed by Mira Grant
Harmony by Project Itoh
C by Tom McCarthy
Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas
Aurorama by Jean-Christophe Valtat
White Cat by Holly Black
Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Dervish House by Ian McDonald
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Chill by Elizabeth Bear
Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer

How am I getting reading done? Either by sitting at home sick or reading while at the gym, on a machine. I get reading done, lately, in either situation.

I spent a lot of time before Arisia at the gym, too, but I was reading Octavia Butler and Ursula K LeGuin novels, mostly. And Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, to lighten up a bit. I also started reading Lois McMaster Bujold last week, before more of the 2010 Hugo possibilities arrived. Book therapy is becoming rather costly, even if I buy used. ;)

Which reminds me. Anyone have any other books to add to this list? Want to throw some books my way? I'm mostly looking for science fiction/fantasy novels published for the first time in 2010, at least until the Hugo ballots are finished.
chaiya: (messy life)
I have a confession to make.

I have said stupid, prejudiced things in the past. I will probably say stupid, racist things in the future. I will try to avoid doing so, but when I fail, the words will come out of my mouth (or the actions will come out of my body), and I will disappoint myself and my community and the better future I am trying to work toward.

Racism and prejudice are really hard things to understand, let alone avoid perpetuating. I am a privileged, middle class, white person. That isn't an excuse, but it is the background of how I am probably incapable of understanding, really grokking, what it's like to be on the receiving end of racism. Lj-cut because I know this got long, not because I think you should skip reading the middle of this entry. )

Racism is hard. Prejudice is challenging. In my opinion, one of the reasons why there is so much controversy about racism amongst well-intentioned people is because we so want to believe that the future is here, the post-racist, post-patriarchy, post-prejudice world that we've spent years dreaming of. That dream is easier than the reality.

I am probably never going to live in the world I hope for, one in which social justice is automatic and there's no need to combat prejudice because it doesn't exist. But until and unless I do live in that world, I will continue doing my best to comprehend racism, to make good choices about social justice, and to listen to others, in general. I will continue to try to put my money where my mouth is, and spend my time trying to fight prejudices in myself and others, as thoughtfully as possible.

I thought about posting this entry to a friends filter. I've said some pretty private stuff here, publicly. I know it's an unpolished entry, too, and I'm bound to have said something poorly that will be jarring to the eye when you read it. But the truth is, I think this is important to say publicly. So I'm screening comments, in the hopes of avoiding my once-and-future-troll, and we'll see how it goes.
chaiya: (ancient camera)
My friend Joe Decker is having a drawing where the prize is a piece of his art! Take a look at his webpage, and email him with which of his pieces is your favorite. Mine is still the Icelandic rainbow piece that's at the top of our stairway, which most anyone who has been to our house has admired. :)
chaiya: (dressed up in blue)
I saw the org chart updates just now, and am totally psyched and awed by the fabulous events that will be happening this year at the convention.

Dances:

* 8-bit demoscene dance: Val Grimm
* Contra dance: David Silber
* ORDNANCE & Mr Pet: DJ Pet
* Period dance: Jesse Wertheimer
* Time Traveler's Ball: Paul Aldred
* Weird Science Dance (80s dance): DJ Johnny Zed

Gaming (gaming@arisia.org): Puck Dowd
LARPs (larps@arisia.org): Michael McAfee

Live Performances:

* 2010: Our Hideous Future: Unreliable Narrator Theater Group
* Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sing Along: Teseracte Players of Boston
* Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog: Teseracte Players of Boston
* Dr Who radio play: Post-Meridian Radio Players
* Faebotica, A Musical Event: Renee Staffeld
* Geeky Belly Dance: Katrina Meyer
* Goli: Vessela Stoyanova, Valerie Thompson
* Hallucinating Shakespeare: Michael Anderson
* Higgins Armory demos: Higgins Armory
* Kusntbruder: Steven Hirsch
* Psyche Corp: Genevieve Yang
* Repo the Genetic Opera: Teseracte Players of Boston
* Rocky Horror Picture Show: Teseracte Players of Boston
* Sassafrass and Stranger Ways: Julia Suggs, Susan Weiner
* The Subs: Rebecca Angel


Doesn't that sound fantastic? The biggest problem will be figuring out how to choose between so many awesome things, some of which are bound to be happening at once!

[livejournal.com profile] majes (and [livejournal.com profile] jasra), you guys rock. So much. Thanks for making events happen this year!
chaiya: (Arisia badge)
Window To Paris (Okhno v'Parizh), Sunday 8:00pm


In St. Petersburg in the early 1990s, right after the fall of the Soviet
Union, some people in a communal apartment discover a wormhole in space
that terminates in Paris. Visiting the west helps them see more of their
own country. ``It's like a Soviet version of Being John Malkovitch'' says
Mary. This beautifully-made comedy will be introduced by Andrey
Fedorov, an actual Russian, who will provide a little background.
In Russian with subtitles.
{1 hr. 27 min., in 35mm}


Sunday at 8 pm showing at Arisia.

Who's with me??? :)
chaiya: (cooking and medieval oddities)
Deviled eggs & challah to start.
Stuffed hubbard squash with homemade fruit compote.
Ginger-saffron carrot soup.
Baked asparagus with balsamic. (by [livejournal.com profile] hotpoint)
Baked potatoes. (by [livejournal.com profile] eldrad)
Roasted cauliflower with garlic and lemon juice.
Bagel-fruit-nut stuffing.
Saute'd greens with garlic. (by [livejournal.com profile] metahacker and co.)
Morrocan carrots.
We're roasting 2 or 3 ducks on the rotisserie, plus a large turkey.

Finally, for dessert, we have PIES (by [livejournal.com profile] olivetree): pumpkin coconut, pear butterscotch, blueberry with almond crumble, and pecan maple. And 5 kinds of sorbet made by [livejournal.com profile] eldrad: lemon, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, and beet-ginger.

I know we're having tons of leftovers, but that's part of the plan. We're hosting a small "fancy leftovers" Shabbat dinner Friday night. My plan is to make some roasted vegetables if we run low on food. ;)
chaiya: (tough chick)
Anyone have a favorite application for the iPhone that can track my workout progress daily? Something that I can choose which machines or exercises I'm doing, input how much weight and reps (or time, in the case of some), and have it all go like magic? Bonus points if it's inexpensive and I can track calories burned and/or current weight.
chaiya: (Arisia badge)
My apologies for the delay; this has been a somewhat crazy week.

The hotel update is essentially that the Westin wants us to continue sorting through the waiting list on a rolling basis. As we finish up allocating rooms that were set aside for particular uses, we will shift people from the waiting list into those rooms. Ultimately we think that everyone currently on the waiting list will get a room (though not everyone will get the type of room they requested -- the hotel only has so many doubles). We are also looking into overflow hotel options (there are two other hotels within a short walk from the Westin), although we hope that won't be necessary.

The Westin has many more rooms than the Hyatt had, or even the Park Plaza. However, we may have more people interested in staying in the hotel this year than previous years. It will just take more patience than we had expected.

For anyone who is not yet on the waiting list: the waiting list is still the best option for getting a room in the Westin. The hotel will only be releasing rooms to those on the waiting list, so there is no reason not to be on it.

We will post updates about updates about the hotel status to the Arisia website as well as LJ, FB, Twitter, etc., when we have them. If there will be an overflow hotel, that determination will be made based on the status of the waiting list once all rooms and suites are allocated.

And thank you for your patience!
chaiya: (storm troopers)
We're trying a new event on for size this year -- a breakfast buffet event with GOHs and other Special Guests (including Seanan McGuire, Cat Valente, Hildy Silverman, Frank Wu, and others)! Breakfast price is comparable to prices in the hotel restaurant, with the added bonus of cool conversation! Go to http://2011.arisia.org/buffet for tickets & more info.

Turtle Track (childcare) is currently full. To get on the waiting list, email reg@arisia.org with "Turtle Track" in the subject line. Every year, there are some cancellations, so don't despair if you haven't yet signed up. (Same is true for hotel reservations, actually. Last year, we ended up with a couple of empty rooms in the main hotel, due to cancellations.)

Speaking of hotel reservations: The hotel has turned off the public reservations page while we sort through the Waiting List together. We're working on an alternate solution for getting reservations into their system, but the meantime, please have patience. We expect to have a further update tomorrow night, after more conferring with the hotel.
chaiya: (coconut drink)
Accomplished tonight:

huge batch of banghan bhartha (including 8 large eggplants, 5 large tomatoes, 5 sweet peppers from the farm share)
additional 10 eggplants roasted (possibly for baba ghanoush, possibly more banghan bhartha)
over 1/2 bushel (possibly 3/4?) of yellow farmshare tomatoes for
- oven-roasted dried tomatoes
- insides & seeds reserved & used to make yellow tomato marmalade
halfway done with making at least a few jars of pickles

Steve also made a tremendously awesome fresh corn pudding, which was a suggestion by [livejournal.com profile] mtolan and [livejournal.com profile] naufiel. He did it in the style of my Gramma, which is a fabulous comfort. :}

All in all, today wasn't a waste of time, after all.

Not that I've managed to write the Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur post I intended, but I do hope that anyone who wants to talk with me about my actions knows that I am generally up for it. I love to talk. ;)

Now if only I could get onto the normal sleep schedule of someone who lives in this part of the world ... :P
chaiya: (Arisia badge)
Hey, folks, I wanted to point out that some of you aren't aware of this, but the rough draft schedule for events and program items at Arisia this year is already in progress. If you want to be on a program item or putting on an event, the time to act was actually prior to now, but your absolute last chance to email program@arisia.org or events@arisia.org and get on the schedule is coming up right quick, now.

I suggest you email what you're thinking asap to the relevant division (or if you're not sure, proposals@arisia.org). Please don't email me (or talk with me verbally) about it, as I'm not in charge of the schedules involved, and have delegated the fun stuff to people I trust with it -- [livejournal.com profile] majes, [livejournal.com profile] crazybone, and [livejournal.com profile] omly. :)

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