Page generated Jun. 28th, 2017 22:49

reading, writing, no 'rithmatic

Jun. 28th, 2017 16:45
isis: (Default)
[personal profile] isis
I will start with my usual Wednesday reads, because there is not much to say here as I haven't finished anything since last Wednesday. Well, I started a couple of ebooks I got via Instafreebie, but neither of them held my interest:

What I recently abandoned:

Assassin Princess by Laura Greenwood - really a short story, but I still didn't get to the halfway point. Mispunctuated dialogue and a sloppy structure, not very interesting.

The Priestess and the Dragon by Nicolette Andrews - An interesting setup in an ancient-Japan-ish fantasy world, but the main character, Suzume, felt like the Mary Sue that has everything bad happen to her before she turns out to be the Chosen One and Saves the World, and the writing, while technically fine, just feels too romance-y, if that makes any sense, for my tastes. I was not surprised to see in a Goodreads comment that this book was originally posted on Wattpad.

What I'm currently reading:

Text, fiction: Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb, the third book in the Fitz and the Fool series and the final book in the Realms of the Elderlings series. I am approximately halfway through. Yes, I was currently reading this last week, too, but it's a brick, and also, it's really very meaty, with a lot to think about as I read.

Audio, fiction: Beast by Donna Jo Napoli. I am not sure whether I want to finish - I'm about 1/3 through - but I gotta say, this is the first YA book I've ever encountered with canon bestiality. o.O

Text, nonfiction: Dungeons and Dreamers: A story of how computer games created a global community by Brad King and John Borland. This is what I settled on to read on my phone during my recent backpacking trip, and it's surprisingly interesting! The thing is, I was a D&D player; I played Advent, and Zork, and hung out in a MUD with friends. I remember Spacewar, and Sierra On-Line games. So reading this gives me the same vague nostalgic warm fuzzies that I got from watching Halt and Catch Fire, in that the outlines of the story are familiar to me but the details are all new and fascinating.

What I'm reading next:

I released my hold on Thick as Thieves, and anyway, it's going to be a while before I am done with the things I'm currently reading! But this week's Sync audiobook (until the end of the day!) is Terry Pratchett's early short story collection The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and other stories, so if I abandon Beast I might switch to that.

What I've recently written:

Night on Fic Mountain authors and artists have been revealed, so now I can point to what I wrote:

The Student Librarian (4819 words) by Isis
Fandom: The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Irene (The Invisible Library), Bradamant (The Invisible Library)
Additional Tags: Pre-Canon, Backstory, Caper Fic, slight hint of one-sided Irene/Bradamant feelings
Summary: Irene had been Bradamant's student once, and she knew exactly what it meant. (The Invisible Library, chapter 7)

This is a great world to play in, but it's apparently not a very well-known series, alas. Oh, well.

Dear RarePairFest writer

Jun. 28th, 2017 22:55
trobadora: (Grimm - OT3)
[personal profile] trobadora
Dear RarePairFest writer,

thank you so much for writing a story for me! I'll be absolutely thrilled about anything you can create about the relationships I requested, and everything important is in the requests themselves, but if you'd like some additional info/ideas/thoughts, here's some of it:

General Preferences

Fic Likes & Dislikes )

I hope this is useful for telling you about the kinds of things I like to read. :)

Now for the fandoms and ships I requested, in no particular order:

Requests

Doctor Who - Twelve/Jack/Missy, Jack/Missy )

Grimm - Nick/Renard/Juliette, Nick/Renard, Renard/Juliette )

Legend of the Seeker - Cara/Darken Rahl )

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Sarah Connor/Catherine Weaver )

Links

Jun. 28th, 2017 21:58
selenak: (Londo and Vir by Ruuger)
[personal profile] selenak
This week, Potterdom had its twentieth anniversary. I always felt somewhat on the periphery of the fandom - I enjoyed the books and read some of the fanfic, I did have some opinions and theories while the books were published, but I never felt compelled to write fanfic myself, I didn't ship anyone with anyone else, and I don't think I had a Harry-Potter-related argument with anyone. Oh, wait, I think I did argue, but only in one post, about how whoever sorted the Beatles into HP houses and put John in Slytherin and Paul in Gryffindor was completely wrong, and then I wrote some silly meta fic to prove it. But other than that.

Anyway: I'm still fond of the books and some of the fanfic, and so I was delighted to see [profile] fernwithy celebrated the anniversary by writing a story about Harry shortly after Voldemort's death, trying to figure out where to go from there, and, not so coincidentally, what to do with Grimmauld Place 12, which as you'll recall Sirius left him, co-starring Kreacher and Andromeda Tonks, with cameos for Dudley and Petunia Dursley,

Broken

It captures grief, survivor's guilt, empathy, hope so very, very well.


Meanwhile, I just found there's this lovely bit from the last convention which both Stephen Furst and Peter Jurasik attended:



Boo on the cheapness of Warner Brothers, but aww on these two.

ALT ER LOVE

Jun. 28th, 2017 19:44
i_am_schizo: (Default)
[personal profile] i_am_schizo
Y'all, keep your fingers crossed and pray to whomever or whatever I don't care. German parliament is going to vote on legalizing same-sex marriage this Friday!! We've got civil unions since 2001 but the way I understand it this would mean full equality including full adoption rights!!

It's horrible to think that marriage equality is still not a given and that those disgustingly close-minded conservative idiots were able to prevent full equality to this day.

So keep your fingers crossed that nothing will go wrong with the voting on Friday!!

Reading Wednesday 28/06

Jun. 28th, 2017 13:42
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I borrowed [personal profile] jack's copy to read this for the Hugos. It's thinky and original, but also rather unpleasant.

detailed review )

Currently reading: All the birds in the sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Partly because it's Hugo nominated and partly cos several of my friends were enthusiastic about it. I'm a bit more than halfway through and finding it very readable and enjoyable. Patricia and Laurence are really well drawn as outcast characters and their interaction is great. It feels very Zeitgeisty, very carefully calculated to appeal to the current generation of geeks. The style is sort of magic realist, in that a bunch of completely weird fantasy-ish things happen and nobody much remarks on them. I find that sort of approach to magic a bit difficult to get on with, because it appears completely arbitrary what is possible and what isn't, so the plot seems a bit shapeless.

Up next: I'm a bit minded to pick up Dzur by Steven Brust, because I was enjoying the series but very slowly, and it's been really quite a few years since I made progress with it.
nou: The word "kake" in a white monospaced font on a black background (Default)
[personal profile] nou posting in [community profile] flaneurs

I only managed one attempt at the June challenge this year: a modified version of Theme II.(a): Lines.

The full version of this challenge involves starting at a railway terminal and walking outwards from the terminus, following one of the railway lines as closely as possible. I’ve been doing this in stages from West Croydon Station to London Bridge Station, and this month I did a new stage.

I was originally going to walk from Tulse Hill to East Dulwich, but my lungs were playing up so I stopped at North Dulwich; i.e. I only walked one stop. Here’s a map showing my route so far (plus the bit I intended to but didn’t walk, which will be done next time), and here’s a photoset including all stages so far.

I photographed quite a lot of railway bridge identifiers on this one, since [personal profile] secretlondon and I are collecting them, and railway line walks are a very good source. My favourite photo is the one below, showing the premises of a “Fibrous Plaster Specialists”.

A view through a square brick-lined tunnel to an open passageway and buildings at the far end.  A dilapidated sign on the left wall reads “19a / E J Harman & Co Ltd / Fibrous Plaster Specialists / 19a Birkbeck Hill SE21 8JS”.

Someone came out just after I took it and asked me why I was taking photos. They seemed a bit offended by my use of the phrase “old sign”, oops. They were very keen to make it clear that the business is still going!

trobadora: (Sherlock/Moriarty - in the darkness)
[personal profile] trobadora
[community profile] holmestice reveals have happened! And the whole fest has been so much fun, I can't wait for the next round. I've even already made notes for my next sign-up! Any other Holmes fans around? Because you should absolutely join, it's a blast. :D

(Though I'll really need an ACD icon, or at least a more general Sherlock Holmes one. Not that I haven't been looking ...)

But first, here's the story I wrote for this round:

Title: The Question
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes - ACD
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty (with appearances by Lestrade, Watson, and Moran)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: none
Summary: Of all the unanswered questions I had collected over the course of my career, none weighed upon me as much as that posed by the inexplicable inaction of Professor Moriarty.
A/N: Written for [personal profile] graycardinal during the Holmestice 2017 Summer Round. Many thanks to [personal profile] fluffyllama and [personal profile] wojelah for all their help!

Originally posted at the Holmestice comm and at AO3.

The Question )
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
A few days ago, Mum found out that she may have a close blood relative she didn’t know about, who was the product of an affair and put up for adoption after he was born. Details are sketchy but we worked out from his birth year that it’s possible his birth parents met at a party my mother’s parents threw. 

I only know all this because she asked me to look into him and make sure it wasn’t a scam, and while it’s not a scam it’s also fucking uncanny how similar he and I are – not just physical appearance but hobbies and personality (as much as you can get personality from a facebook and a blog). He’s ten years older than me, but otherwise we’re pretty similar. 

I emailed her like “I think this guy’s on the level, he’s just looking for a missing piece of his family” and had to stifle a strong urge to be like “Also I want to hang out with him, so be nice.” 

I hope Mum likes him, I want to be his Facebook Friend. 

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via IFTTT

Music meme: day 10 of 30

Jun. 27th, 2017 12:43
liv: bacterial conjugation (attached)
[personal profile] liv
A song that makes you sad. It's hard to find anything sadder than one of my friends who posted a video of a scratch orchestra playing the European anthem Ode to Joy the day after the UK voted to leave the EU. But the song most likely to make me cry, personally, is the aria Voi che sapete from Mozart's The marriage of Figaro.

break-up sadness, plus video )

Munich Film Festival II

Jun. 27th, 2017 11:28
selenak: (Orson Welles by Moonxpoints5)
[personal profile] selenak
The Infiltrator was part of the Bryan Cranston retrospective and basically came across as a well-made routine thriller without anything being either bad or having anything innovative going for it. I.e. if you've watched thrillers about undercover cops working to bring a drug cartel down, you can predict all of the story beats. (Other than one spoilerly bit ).) It's entertaining and does what it sets out to do, and needless to say Cranston is reliably good in the part, but I wouldn't say it's a must.

City of Ghosts, otoh, was a fantastic documentary, directed by Matthew Heineman, about the citizen journalist group Raqqa is being slaughtered silently (RBBS). Before I watched it, I was unfamiliar with the phrase "citizen journalist" , but it's really a perfect description, because before the IS came to Raqqa, only one of them was a journalist, the rest had professions like high school math teacher or engineer. Nonetheless, they took incredible risks getting out photos and film evidence of the atrocities the so called Islamic State visited - and still visits upon their city. The surviving founders of the group had to flee but they still have some members in Raqqa, trying their best to continue getting material out. I'm always hesitant to use the phrase "real life heroes", but these people are truly heroic, and one thing that galls me especially is that when they've made it alive to Germany and safety, they promptly run into one anti-refugees march by the godawful AFD in Berlin.

The documentary starts during the "Arab Spring" in 2012, for which the Assad Regime going after Raqqa school children was one of the local triggers, and ends last year. We follow the core group of RBBS; Heineman is an invisible presence, he lets them narrate their stories, and when there's background information/exposition, such the way the IS uses the media for recruitment changed radically from the very early static speech videos to the Hollywood style big production videos that came into use after the fall of Raqqa, the activists are doing the explaining (subtitled, for the most part, everyone talks in Arabic) while the audience sees excerpts of the videos in question. BTW, I'd never seen an IS recruitment video before, and I have to say, the exact copying of action movie gimmicks and aesthetics (complete with following-the-bullet shots, soundtrack, etc.) is nearly as unsettling as the content. It's not much of a comfort that RBBS was able to puncture the IS self image enough by getting videos and photos showing the true state of Raqqa out to counteract the IS claims about it that the IS forbade any satelites in Raqqa and ordered the inhabitants to publically destroy theirs, so they regain control of the imagery. But it's something.

If the excerpts from the IS videos go for action movie gloss on violence, the mobile phone camera made videos of the RBBS are shaky, abruptly cut off, full of (inevitably) strange angles - and shocking in quite a different way. For example, the first time we see executions, the abrupt deaths and the already dead bodies lying around are bad enough, but without either the camera or any narrator pointing this out, what is as gruesome is what you see in the background. Yes, these are heads on pikes on what used to be the town square, not cheap movie props in the latest zombie splatter, but real human heads.

There's a lot of survivors guilt among the activists; one of them had to watch his father being executed in punishment, all of them are directly threatened by the IS who calls for their deaths, one lost his brother who was among the refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean, and when he talks about his dead brother, he says he still sends him messages per Facebook (as the account hasn't been taken down). "I am broken, my brother. Broken." And yet, and yet, they still continue to risk their lives. There's also a lot of comraderie we see, being physically comfortable with each other, and the rare moment of pure joy, such as everyone having a snowball fight in Berlin. You feel for them, and admire them - and hope the movie will be seen by as many people as possible. Maybe it will remind them that 95% of the victims of IS terrorism are Muslims - and said victims won't, shan't be silenced, are doing their best to fight back.

L'Intrusa, directed by Leonardo di Costanzo, is, like The Infiltrator, "based on a true story", with organized crime in the background, but the contrast couldn't be greater. While delivering a tight narration, there's nothing routine or slick about this movie, which is set in Naples and manages to avoid every single cliché. The fact you don't see the Vesuvio or the bay anywhere is just one of them; L'Intrusa is set in one of the poor quarters. The central characteris Giovanna, who has organized a miixture of daycare centre and social centre for kids and teenagers to offer them a life off the streets. When the film starts, the centre is well established and has been running for years, has been embraced by the neighborhood - but then something happens that puts Giovanna in an unsolvable dilemma. One of the small to mid level gangster's wives - Maria - and her two children have come to the centre, claiming refuge. Giovanna, Maria's daughter Rita and Maria are the three main characters; the supporting cast is also individualized, from Giovanna's right hand woman Sabina to the widow of a man Maria's husband has shot to the little daughter whose father was beaten to a pulp by Maria's husband right in front of her.

L'Intrusa never shows on screen violence. It doesn't show the Camorra doing what the Camorra does, but the after effects are present everywhere. This was a deliberate choice by the director, who in the Q & A said that if you depict Mafiosi "from the front", i.e. put them in the centre of the narration, even if you position them as villains, you end up making them in some ways sympathetic or even glorify them. "So, in my films, I only come at them sideways" - i.e. they're not there on screen, but there's no mistaking the terribile effect they have. Now, the centre is a film full of life and joy, with a community acting together, and it's rare and very attractive to see that. But it's not utopia, and in fact the need for it directly grows out of the unseen horrors around it. Not surprisingly, more and more parents object to Maria's presence. Giovanna gets accused of prioritizing the perpretators over their victims. The aunt of the little girl who has seen her father beaten into a pulp demands to know how she should justify to her sister letting her niece interact, let alone play with Rita, what that would do to her niece. Things come to a head when Rita and some of the kids argue, a normal kids' argument, with the parents drawn into, but Maria isn't just any parent, and so when she says "if you touch my daughter again etc.", the awareness that this is the wife of someone who casually kills people, even if he's currently arrested and hopefully won't get out of prison any time soon, makes this a direct threat to the other kids.

Otoh, Giovanna's argument is: if you ever want to break the cycle of violence, you need to make sure that the Marias of the world don't raise their children to follow their fathers' footsteps. That these children learn other values, learn something different. If she turns these children away from the centre, this will not happen.

As I said: it's an unsolvable dilemma, and the movie doesn't simplify it. It even adds to the stakes because Maria at first comes across as arrogant and rude (it's not until well into the film when you see her alone that you realise she's shattered and scared as well). Not to mention that she starts out by deceiving Giovanna, and there's early on not much to justify Giovanna's hope that Maria actually wants a change for herself and her children - nothing but the fact Maria is here instead of being with her rich sister-in-law, who in the movie shows up twice in a big car to retrieve Maria, in vain, and evidently lives the well funded Mafia spouse life. Basically: you understand where everyone is coming from.

Something else I learned in the Q & A was that most of the actors were lay actors, actual Neapolitans whose main job is in social service (though no one played themselves), with Giovanna being played by a woman who is a dancer and dance choreographer. "Because Giovanna doesn't say much, she's so stoic, she expresses herself through her body language," said the director, "I wanted someone who could do that, that's why I picked Raffaela Giordano." Who indeed is able to express much by the way she looks at people, by her movements, and who looks like she's closer to 50 than to 40. Everyone looks "normal", i.e. like people you could meet on the streets, not like well styled actors with a daily workout. But none act amateurishly in the sense that you're taken outside the story or feel they're talking stiltedly; given Rita and the other children are a big part of the story, that's especially amazing.

Favourite detail: one of the projects the kids in the centre work on, and the one Rita falls in love with and participates with, is building a robot they name "Mr. Jones" out of old bicycle parts. You can bet that in most other movies, Rita and her baby brother would have changed placed in age and it would have been a little boy fascinated with the robot.

In conclusion: probably my favourite movie so far, and highly reccomended

Music meme and gaming

Jun. 26th, 2017 20:00
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Day 9 of the (in my case very slow-running) music meme asks for a song that makes you happy. And I have quite a lot of those, making me happy is a big reason I have a music collection at all. I think I'm going to go for Complex person by The Pretenders. The lyrics are not all that cheerful in some ways, but I love the bouncy tune and I always hear this as a song about determination and not letting things get you down.

video embed, actually audio only )

Also I've had a good week for playing games: mostly list with short comments )

from the department of random

Jun. 26th, 2017 20:41
trobadora: (Castiel - headache)
[personal profile] trobadora
Oops, where did the last month go? I seem to have fallen out of the habit of regular posting again, so let's make an effort to change that. Some random things I neglected to post about recently:
  1. Wayward Daughters is actually happening! Well, it's called Wayward Sisters, but still – I never thought this would actually happen. Here's hoping it takes off, I really want this show.

  2. Bizarre yoghurt flavour of the day: coffee/orange/chocolate balls. Not bad, actually!

  3. [community profile] holmestice: the anonymous period is nearly over, and I actually managed to read almost everything I meant to read, yay! Some lovely fic in there, including my own gift, an ACD Holmes/Moriarty fic about the early period of Holmes becoming aware of Moriarty's existence. Fabulous! ♥

    And here's a guessing post, if anyone wanted to take a stab at guessing what I might have written. Not that it's any great mystery if you know me at all, or have been listening to my Sherlockian ramblings for the last few months. *g*

  4. Doctor Who: MISSY MISSY MISSY. I'm so in love with her, and with the show, and I really need to write a proper post, but the suspense is killing me, and I really need to see the finale before I can properly sort out my thoughts. In the mean time: OMG MISSY!!!!!1!!11!eleventy!1!

  5. Over on [community profile] wintercompanion, we're busy preparing for Summer/Winter Holidays, which will start on the 1st. Some really fabulous entries again! And we're still waiting for more.

  6. My [community profile] everywoman fic still needs some editing, and then I need to spend the weekend focusing on my NPT fic. Why is everythin so busy at the moment, including work? *hides under blanket*

There, that's a start, right? Here's hoping I'll manage to post more frequently again!

(no subject)

Jun. 26th, 2017 08:25
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[personal profile] dreamwaffles linked to a fundraiser for Kaye, who has been researching Rat Lungworm, a disease that almost killed her son Graham, who is now disabled and uses a service dog for everyday life. Kaye was a crucial part of the University of Hawai'i's RLWD research team and also the team trying to get legislative support and grant funding, but she's fighting medical debt for Graham's treatment and ongoing needs. You can read more and help out here.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is still struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and is now dealing with an eye infection they need to get treatment for before their roommate and her toddler come back from vacation, so they don't infect the baby. They're raising $50-$60 in the short term for medical treatment; they also have a long-term fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

[tumblr.com profile] anna-guth is a student from Germany who was recently accepted to Redroofs School for the Performing Arts in England, but her parents can't afford the full GBP24K tuition. She is raising E6.5K for tuition and school fees; you can read more and reblog here, or give directly to the fundraiser here.

[tumblr.com profile] echosiriusrumme is a student trying to buy her own clarinet; at present she doesn't have her own instrument to practice with but has a pressing need to practice before auditions and recitals for a Performance track next fall at her university. She has a few options lined up for between $800 and $1.3K, but needs to raise the funds to cover the cost; she is offering to repay over time any funds contributed to the purchase. You can read more and reblog here (plus find a ko-fi link) or give to her paypal here.


And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.

Orphan Black 5.03

Jun. 26th, 2017 07:58
selenak: (Allison by Spankulert)
[personal profile] selenak
And my show love is back! Woo hoo! That was a fantastic episode.

Read more... )

Lufra

Jun. 26th, 2017 13:44
luthien: (Default)
[personal profile] luthien

Lufra has been with us five days now, and he’s nine weeks old today. He’s a lovely, happy smart little guy. He’s already worked out that if I throw the ball and he brings it back, I will throw it again! So he’s learned how to fetch all by himself.

Caring for him has been a welcome distraction from our sadness over losing our cat Cleo so suddenly. D says that joy of life just emanates from that little dog, and he’s absolutely right.

One of Lufra’s favourite things in the world is an uggboot, and here he is with two of mine. I’m very tall and so I have quite large feet, but my boots still give a good sense of how small he still is.







televisional thoughts

Jun. 25th, 2017 23:10
nostalgia: (twissy touchy)
[personal profile] nostalgia
oh yeah dr who was pretty great this week, but i am holding back on whether i love it based on how certain plotlines are dealt with next week. i do however have a new appreciation for john simm. i still prefer michelle gomez but lbr she's the best master since delgado so she'd be hard to beat.
bob: (beard)
[personal profile] bob posting in [community profile] flaneurs
Hello,
As is customary I did Flaneurs bus challenge I. (c) from the same stop as before with an unchanging n of 6.
In exciting news I managed to finally cross the river and in fact ended up at Tottenham Hale. I covered about 30 miles on buses on the hottest day of the year. The routemasters were hellish.


* Map
* Google Photos or Flick Photos depending on what you prefer. Includes lots of video.
* Twitter thread


I'm currently uploading the videos to youtube and may make a longer video of them.
Talking of which I often post videos of my bus journeys on my youtube channel

My Cleo

Jun. 25th, 2017 22:54
luthien: (Default)
[personal profile] luthien
 I posted this on tumblr yesterday, and since I want to be able to find it again, I'm also posting it here.



CLEO
 


1 October 2002 - 22 June 2017
 
~
 
Let me tell you about my cat Cleo.
 
For a start, she wasn’t supposed to come to us at all. She wasn’t supposed to live beyond babyhood.
 
D and I had lost  two fluffy cats over the previous 18 months – one to the untreatable and fatal Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which she’d likely been carrying since she was born, and the other to a long term heart condition – so we were down to two cats and it felt wrong. So we – well, it was mostly I if I’m being truthful – decided to get a couple of short-haired male kittens. We had two middle-aged short-haired female cats at the time, so I thought two boy kittens would be a good balance. I’ve always preferred short-haired cats, and our two previous fluffy cats had come to us from owners who could no longer keep them, so adopting them had been more accident than design.
 
I found a beautiful grey and white short-haired male kitten online, so we went off to see the lady who was fostering him. She was fostering about half a dozen other kittens as well, so, after a lot of playing with kittens – what a chore! - I chose the grey and white kitten and a short-haired ginger male kitten. Oh, I’m sorry, said the fosterer, there’s another person interested in the ginger kitten. Would any of the other kittens do?
 
There were a couple of short-haired male tabby kittens, but they were a bit shyer than what I wanted in a kitten. There were also a couple of female kittens, and I kept coming back to look at the little fluffy one. She was a dark tabby, but other than her colouring, her little face looked just like Molly, my fluffy tortie who had died of FIP the year before. It was as if Molly had come back to us, so of course I decided on the little fluffy girl kitten.
 
Oh, that one, said the fosterer. She’s one of a litter that was on death row at the pound. She’s lucky to be here at all.
 
I had to wait a week while the kittens were desexed before I could pick them up, and a couple of days before I was due to get them the fosterer contacted me again. The person who’d been intending to adopt the ginger kitten now no longer wanted him, so would I like him instead of the little fluffy girl? 
 
It was tempting, but I’d made the decision to adopt the girl, so in the meantime she hadn’t been available to other potential owners. So I said no to the ginger, and a few days later I picked up my little grey and white boy and my little fluffy tabby girl.
 
I called the grey and white boy Harry, after Harry Potter, but I was a bit stuck on what to call the girl. The shelter had named her Princess, and yes, she was one, but I wanted her to have a name from us. So, against my better judgement, I asked D to think of a name for her.  
 
His first suggestion was Jaeger Panther, after a WWII German tank. When I said no to that one, he gave it some actual serious thought and suggested Cleo as her stable name – but Jaeger Panther would still be her racing name!
 
So she was officially Princess Cleopatra Jaeger Panther. But she was always just Cleo to us.
 
Cleo was a bouncy, silly kitten, which irritated Harry, who always took life more seriously. She was also a bit shy with it, though, and I remember having to drag her out from under the couch and make her come and socialise fairly often. Like our previous fluffy cats, she took to D very quickly. Meanwhile, she and I were friends, but not best friends.
 

 


This was back in the days when we lived in the Mountains, so I used to let the cats out during the day. I did this gradually once they were a few months old, and always supervised until they were big enough to have enough sense to look after themselves.


 

One day when Cleo was less than a year old, I heard her crying from near the back door, so I came out to see what the trouble was – and realised the crying was coming from above the back door. She was standing on the edge of the roof, looking down, and clearly had no idea at all how to get down. I knew how she’d got up there, from the embankment by the shed to the shed roof, and then it was just a short leap from the shed roof to the roof of the house. She’d come around the side of the house and explored the roof, and then realised that she had no idea how she’d got there, or how to get down again.
 
 If you’ve ever had a cat, there have probably been times when the cat has managed to get up somewhere high and then decided it couldn’t get down. So I did what most of us do in that situation: I held out my arms and called Cleo’s name. Usually, in this situation, the cat just looks at you, and eventually gets down by itself. But in this case? Cleo actually jumped, and I caught her.

 
 

 
It was probably around that time that I first started calling her my silly woolly, and little miss fluffy brain, with much love.

 


When Harry and Cleo were almost five years old, Harry died from kidney failure. It was a terrible blow. He was a lovely, sooky cat, and I was his special human. So then of the two short-haired male kittens I’d intended to get that day back in 2002, I only had the accidental fluffy girl left.


 

And the accidental fluffy girl grew into quite a big cat. I’ve had fluffy cats that were very dainty underneath all the fur, but that wasn’t Cleo. She was a solid cat, around 6kg in her prime.






 
She also grew up to be a real character. She was the most talkative cat I’ve ever had. If you said anything to her, she would almost always reply. Repeatedly. And she would often tell you how she felt, whether you wanted to know or not. In her later years, she took to meowing at me non-stop, regardless of what I was doing or if I was in the middle of talking to someone, if she was determined to have some attention Right Then. She got used to me telling her not to yell at me. You can see and hear a video of her talking… and talking and talking here.




 
She never really got on with the other cats. She did try at first - as you can see in the pics above, with Ebby, who was going through flea allergy problems right then - but I think her body language looked wrong to the short-haired cats. It wasn’t that she was speaking a different language, but it was definitely a different dialect, and in the end she gave up and decided to be solitary. By the time Sasha – a short-haired male ginger kitten at last! - came to us in 2008 and tried very hard to make friends with Cleo, she simply ignored him. However, they both coveted my lap on winter nights, so they would both get on my lap and pretend that the other cat wasn’t there. When I was going through pictures to use in this post, I found a lot along these lines:




 
 
Cleo always loved going outside in the daytime. We had a huge, beautiful garden when we lived in the Mountains, and she never went very far. She was an excellent border guard if an intruder!cat happened to come visiting. She liked sitting under a bush opposite the back door – even in the depths of winter, when the short-haired cats didn’t want to go outside. Her woolly coat was perfectly designed for her to live in the Mountains climate.


Less than a year after we moved from the Mountains to where we are now, we lost Ebony, our old black cat. She was almost nineteen years old, and we’d got her as a kitten when we’d first moved in together, so she’d always been the senior cat of the household. And now, suddenly, Cleo was the senior cat. It didn’t suit her. She’d always been a silly, bouncy woolly, and she just didn’t have the gravitas of Ebony. But after a while we got used to Cleo being the oldest, and realised that she was actually starting to get old.

 

 
 
Cleo was also a huge sook, and absolutely adored a cuddle. A few years ago – five? More? I can’t remember for sure – she discovered that I was willing to baby her in ways that D wouldn’t, and she switched her allegiance. Suddenly, I was her favourite person. I would cradle her like a baby and she would purr like a chainsaw – she had a great loud purr. She liked to fall against my chest and tuck her head under my chin. In recent times, her favourite thing was to climb up onto my shoulder when I was sitting in the recliner and flop with her back legs hanging down my chest while she purred in my ear. 
 
She would also sometimes flop right across my collarbone, and just lounge there as if she really was a feline Cleopatra. I’d usually be chatting to Nym on IM when this happened, and I often couldn’t see the screen properly, or use more than one finger on the keyboard, so Nym would get messages saying things like, “A, tyuping fro undrt woo;;y.”
 

 

 

Cleo used to follow me around, too. A couple of years ago, after never being a Bed Cat – our bed always belonged to Ebony, because she was Top Cat, and then Indy, the grey boy we got after Harry died, inherited it from her when he became Top Cat – Cleo suddenly decided to be brave and stake a claim for part of the bed. But she would only sit on the bed if I was there. I tend to go to bed very late, so Cleo would wait up too, sometimes making pointed comments to let me know that she’d like to go to bed now, please. I often woke up to this view:


 

She LOVED being the Special Cat, and being allowed to go out onto the patio in the daytime, after several years being an indoor only cat after we moved to our current house. As I said, she was getting old, and she didn’t want to wander. She just wanted to be outside in the garden, and not just in the cat run where Those Other Cats had to go. It’s not the Mountains, but it’s still sub-alpine here, so her thick, woolly coat was perfect for being outside in the winter here, too. And of course it was nice out there in the shade in the summer, too:









 

And that was our Cleo, and our life with her, until those two pit bulls turned up in our backyard the other day. You can’t possibly blame me as much as I blame myself for letting her outside when the new front fence was being installed, but you just don’t EXPECT a pair of marauding dogs IN YOUR BACKYARD, particularly when you are right there yourself.
 
This got awfully long, but I’m utterly heartbroken about the way Cleo left us, and I wanted to write down just who she was.
 
I’ve been talking to dog people recently, in the course of preparing for and getting our new puppy, and one of them mentioned that they thought cats weren’t as individual as dogs, and that cats were all pretty similar.
 
That hasn’t been my experience at all. D and I have had ten cats over the last – god – 23 years, and they’ve all been absolute individuals. Every cat has been as different as different could be from every other, and none more so than my dear old woolly.
 
She was with us for fourteen and a half years. Her not being here just feels wrong. I miss her so much. She could be annoying, and I even miss that. I miss her flopping on my shoulder and making my neck hurt from the weight (on my herniated disc – thanks, cat). There is an empty space where my Cleo should be, and nothing will ever fill it.
 
Goodbye, dear Woolly. We will always miss you.

 

 

End note: Sorry this isn't cut! I did try, but I just couldn't get the script to cooperate!
luthien: (Default)
[personal profile] luthien
 I posted this on tumblr on Friday.

This week has been a week I’ll never forget, in both good and bad ways.

On Wednesday morning, we finally got our gorgeous little sheltie puppy, Lufra. He’s a little sweetheart, confident and curious and happy as well as beautiful. I took him to the vet yesterday for a check-up, and the vet was very happy with him in every way. The vet introduced Lufra to his own dog, to see how he got on with other dogs. Lufra wasn’t at all shy, but he also wasn’t too pushy or forward in a way that might annoy another dog. Pretty much perfect. He’s going to be a great dog - once we start getting on top of his house training and cat training, anyway.

And that brings me to the other thing that happened on Wednesday.

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while will know that we have a large cat run attached to the side of our house, and that since we moved here a few years ago, our cats don’t go anywhere else outside. The exception has been Cleo, my old woolly cat, who’s been going out to the patio behind the front fence to snooze most days for the past couple of years.

This week, we’ve been having our front fence replaced. The fencing guy was working on the fence on Wednesday afternoon, but there wasn’t much fence there yet. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have let Cleo out, but D and I were also out there, and she wasn’t freaked out by the fencing guy, so when she went to the door and waited for it to open I… let her out. I will always regret that decision. 

I went along the patio along the side of the house to the backyard where D was, to see how he was going with something he was working on, and Cleo followed me. I was just standing there, talking to D, and Cleo was on the lawn nearby, when two large dogs just… appeared. They were American Pit Bulls. They took one look at Cleo and attacked.

D and I both fought back. D got between Cleo and the dogs, and managed to get hold of her, but in her panic she attacked him, and left some deep scratches on his face right near his eye. D dropped Cleo and she ran for the fence. He lost his glasses and had so much blood in his eyes he couldn’t see. I had lost a shoe and fallen over on the grass. Meanwhile, the dogs had caught up to Cleo over by the side fence, so I ran over there, still holding my shoe, and hit one of the dogs with it, over and over.

The fencing guy, who hadn’t heard anything because he was wearing ear protectors, noticed the commotion when things moved over to the fence, and he ran down and threatened the dogs with whatever large tool he was using at the time. Faced by three hostile humans, the dogs finally decided it wasn’t worth it, and retreated.

I grabbed Cleo, who was now going into shock so she didn’t attack me, left D bleeding all over the bathroom, and rushed her to the vet.

I was waiting at the vet’s for ages, but finally the vet came and talked to me. What he had to say gave me cause to hope. Cleo didn’t appear to be as badly hurt as she might have been. Her breathing had stabilised and her lungs were okay. The x-rays showed that her back and pelvis and other bones were okay, too. She couldn’t stand or walk because her back legs couldn’t hold her weight, but he thought that was because of torn muscles rather than anything else. They’d shaved her back end and found several puncture marks, but her thick fur had stopped the dogs from easily sinking their teeth in. The vet was still cautiously hopeful that she would recover, and that I could probably take her home the next evening.

While I was at the vet’s, D called the government’s animal services department and reported the attack. After I came home, I persuaded him to go to a doctor and get patched up. He has some impressive plasters on his face and hands, and will probably have scars, but he’s incredibly lucky that Cleo didn’t get his eye - and also that the dogs didn’t attack us, for that matter. AND that little Lufra was not out there with us. He would have had no chance at all against those dogs.

But our luck ran out. The vet called first thing the next morning (yesterday morning) to say that Cleo had died in the night. He’s still not sure entirely what killed her, because the most likely causes of fatality should have shown symptoms earlier and didn’t, but it’s a good bet that organ failure was involved somehow.

So I have my new puppy, but my dear old Woolly is gone. She was fourteen and a half, and I’d had her since she was a little kitten. She was getting old, but she’d always been in excellent health, and it was entirely possible that we could have had her for another four or five years.

I’ll write a post about her later or tomorrow or in the next couple of days. I still can’t quite believe that she’s just… gone. And I will always blame myself that I couldn’t protect her better, and that I let her out that afternoon - but not as much as I blame the owner of those two dogs.

D heard back from the animal services department this afternoon. They told him that they believe the dogs were involved in another attack later that same evening, and if we see them again we should calll animal services right away.

So here’s hoping they manage to catch up with the dogs and their owner before they have the chance to attack someone else’s beloved pet - or, god forbid, a child.
 

Munich Film Festival I

Jun. 25th, 2017 10:53
selenak: (Breaking Bad by Wicked Signs)
[personal profile] selenak
Aka what consumes my days these days, as every year around this time. Of course, every year doesn't have Bryan Cranston as one of the guests of honor, so there was this additional perk.:) (Here's an article about the award ceremony he was there for.)


 photo 2017_0623Filmfest0003_zpsgy9vaotd.jpg

(Question: is the young man in one of the photos a fan is holding out to be signed truly Cranston some decades ago? Yikes, I wouldn't have recognized him.)


The director of Wakefield, one of his movies which are shown this year in honor of him (and yes, of course several Breaking Bad episodes are s hown as well), Robin Swicord, joked that both she and Cranston have German grandparents, and: "I don't know why they left, but you know, I think the fun is over. Might be a good idea to come back now, and I think you all know why. So thank you for welcoming political refugees." Former opera director Sir Peter Jonas outed himself as a Breaking Bad fan, complete with Heisenberg t-shirt, and held a speech praising the glories of narrative arc driven television. My only irritation with that one wasn't the series he singled out (other than BB) for being exceptionally good at this - The Sopranos, Oz, The West Wing and The Good Wife - , but the one he didn't mention. Babylon 5 still doesn't get as much credit in breaking ground with its narrative arc tellng format as it deserves.

Anyway, Bryan Cranston's own speech was lovely, mostly about the way being a storyteller is the best vocation (I agree), with both wry humor and sincerity. After the ceremony, Wakefield was shown, but due to an unshakeable real life obligation, I could only watch the first hour. Mind you, I had mixed feelings anyway. Because I could see why Cranston was cast (excelling as he does in playing dislikeable characters whose pettiness isn't air brushed away who are still interesting to watch) , and I enjoyed seeing Jennifer Garner again (playing his wife), and found the concept something of a suburban Hitchcock satire without crime (Howard Wakefield, lawyer, due some circumstances ends up disappearing into his own attic, watching his wife and family carry on without him with the bickering zest of a true voyeur while literally reduced to eating garbage) in a clever way, it still made my skin crawl. Because in the hour I watched, most of Howard Wakefield's voyeurism and assholery was directed against his wife, and while I knew the narrative was absolutely on the same page with me here, it still felt very disturbing to watch, and so it didn't exactly break my heart that I had to leave early. (Otoh I missed the Q & A with Cranston afterwards that way, alas.)

On to movies I could watch completely:

La Familia, a movie from Venezuela, directed by Gustavo Rondón Cordóva, currently stuck in Caracas and thus unable to make it to the festival, though he might make it to the Latin American directors general Q & A on Monday. This was a taut, intense story starting in the poorest quarters of Caracas. Our two main characters are Pedro, a twelve years old boy, and his father Andres, who works several jobs at once to make ends meet and thus hardly sees him. The introduction sequence has Pedro (Reggie Reyes) playing with some other children, and the playing has that edge of violence, those moments when shoving at each other suddenly threatens to become more, which has you sit up already. And sure enough, various scenes later, which establish Pedro's day with best friend Jonny and minus his father (who sleeps like a stone on those rare occasions when he's home), violence does explode, as a child threatens Pedro and Jonny with a gun and Pedro ends up seriously hurting the other child. His father Andres understands the implication at once because the child in question has revenge hungry people, and goes on a run with his estranged son, which is the plot line for the rest of the movie. "Going on a run", however, doesn't mean what it might were this a US film, because Andres still needs that money for Pedro and himself to survive, so he takes Pedro with him to his various jobs on the other ends of the city - they just don't go back to their own quarter, though Pedro urgently wants to because he's worried for Jonny, which makes for a big confllct with his father.

This is a movie which trusts its actors (Giovanni García plays Andres), because the dialogue is terse and rare, and you experience the shifting father and son relationship mostly through physical interaction, looks, gestures. Andres doesn' have a "killing is bad" conversation with his son, or a "how do you feel about what happened?" conversation - that's just not how they interact. And yet you can watch them becoming closer throughout the film, and at the end they truly understand each other, and even in their desperate situation have some hope for the future.


Clair Obscur, a Turkish-German-French-Polish coproduction (yes, these do exist) directed by Yesim Ustaouglu. With a female Turkish director and two female main characters, this movie explores, among other things, various ways of what it means to be a woman in Turkey. Our two heroines live completely different existences - Shendaz is a psychiatrist with a seemingly good relationship with her boyfriend, living in very well off circumstances at the Meditterranean coast, while Elmas is still a teenager imprisoned in a marriage to a much older man who revolts her, serving him and his mother in their small flat in a skyscraper. The two storylines eventually connect when due to various spoilery circumstances Shendaz becomes Elmas' therapist; by that time, the cracks in Shenaz' own life have been revealed, but refreshingly for therapists who tend to be either demonic or incompetent when presented in a fictional story, she's still able to truly help Elmas (especially once she figures out how young Elmas really is), and eventually finds away to escape the mess in her own life as well.

The director and several of the actors were there, though not the two leads. The actress who plays Elmas' mother-in-law said whhen she read the script, she thought that this was the best discussion of female sexuality in a Turkish movie. The sex scenes aren't just surprisingly frank in the case of Shenaz (with Elmas, who does not want to have sex, the camera stays on her agonized face, and later goes with her to the restroom because the aftermath is also very painful to her), but always make a character point. In the Q & A the director was asked whether the movie could be shown like this in Turkey, and she answered she had to cut around two minutes for the general release version (though she was allowed to show the full length in Turkish festivals), which since she knew this would happen in advance she could do without taking away the meaning from the scenes in question. Mostly the general release cuts avoided the full nudity of the complete version. Since the only Muslim women showing up in Western media tend to wear headscarfs and/or hijabs, in short, live Elmas' life, I suspect the fact that Shenaz is sucessful in her profession, has unmarried sex and enjoys wine when dining with her boyfriend (who does the cooking) would be as startling as the sex and the nudity if this movie gets a release in the US or Europe. At the same time, there's the awareness that Erdogan's government and party is doing its best to make Elmas, not Shenaz' life more common again in Turkey, and that subtext is also there if you're sitting in the audience watching this film.

Shenaz is played by Funda Eryigit, Elmas by Ecem Uzm, and they're both delivering terrific performances. In the Q & A, Ms. Ustaoglu mentioned that the incredible scene in which Shenaz gets Elmas to roleplay a dream she has (which finally allows Elmas to vocalize the pain in her life) needed only two takes, one for Elmas, one for Shenaz, that the actresses were that good. And having seen this movie, I believe it.

Doctor Who 10.11.

Jun. 25th, 2017 08:55
selenak: (Missy by Yamiinsane123)
[personal profile] selenak
In which whoever did the trailer after the last episode should not do so again, since it already gave away the two key twists, but even so, this was a suspensful and good first part - may the second one live up to it.

Read more... )

III. (d) in Kraków

Jun. 24th, 2017 11:34
squirmelia: (Default)
[personal profile] squirmelia posting in [community profile] flaneurs
I arrived in Kraków on Monday afternoon and decided to do challenge III. (d), take the first left, then the second right, etc. I prefer to use the adaptation of take the first left, then take the first right, etc.

Write up and photos )

Religion and sexuality

Jun. 23rd, 2017 15:12
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
Recently two special interest groups I'm second degree connected to have been involved in scandals around religious attitudes to homosexuality.

The leader of a tiny UK political party, the Liberal Democrats, resigned because
To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.
And a tiny UK Jewish denomination, Orthodox-aligned Sephardim, are up in arms because R' Joseph Dweck taught something about homosexuality in Rabbinic sources and commented
I genuinely believe that the entire revolution of…homosexuality…I don’t think it is stable and well…but I think the revolution is a fantastic development for humanity.


This stuff is minor on the scale of things, but the media love the narrative of gay rights versus religious traditionalism. Anyway lots of my friends are religious Jews or Christians who are also gay or supportive of gay people and other gender and sexual minorities. So lots of my circle are exercised about one or both of the incidents.

opinions )

Links

Jun. 23rd, 2017 13:10
selenak: (rootbeer)
[personal profile] selenak
Confessions of a Trekker: I really don't like ST VI - The Undiscovered Country. Which is, I've discovered, something of a minority opinion, for at least the vocal part of fandom holds this last cinematic outing of the TOS crew in a fond light. However, now and then the dissent becomes vocal, too, as in this rewatch post about the movie in question .


In more fun Trek news, check out this vid about everyone's favourite Cardassian tailor-plus-spy:

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

(Every now and then I wish the movies instead of going for the nth version of Wrath of Khan (with or without a villain called Khan) would tackle the Cardassians instead. And then I conclude the movies would probably mishandle the Cardassians as badly as they did the Romulans, and am glad the Cardassians so far have been reserved for tv.)

And lastly, a BSG fanfic rec:

Rippling Light: tender and heartbreaking take on the friendship of Felix Gaeta and Anastasia Dualla, two characters for whom the phrase "they deserved better" might have been invented.
rydra_wong: A woman boulderer lunges up towards the camera for a hold. (climbing -- puccio!!!)
[personal profile] rydra_wong posting in [community profile] disobey_gravity
The Friday post of glee is where you get to tell us about your climbing-related happiness this week.

It can be a new achievement or adventure, or just that you climbed and had fun; it can be that your favourite climbing wall is expanding or that you bought new rock shoes or that you found a cool ice-climbing vid on YouTube. No glee is too small -- or too big. Members are encouraged to cheer each other on and share the squee.

N.B. Please feel free to post your glee on any day of the week; the Friday glee is just to get the ball rolling.

To enhance this week's glee: totally stealing from UKC, but this vid of James Pearson's new E10 7a really is great.

festathons

Jun. 22nd, 2017 14:42
isis: (fangirls)
[personal profile] isis
First off, signups for the 2017 Multifandom Drabble Exchange are closing tomorrow. This is a small low-pressure exchange, and it was a lot of fun last year when it was on Imzy.

Second, Night on Fic Mountain is live! My gift is Witcher fanart, a scene of Ciri getting the better of Geralt in a wrestling bout as Yennefer sips wine and looks on, amused:

Tap Out (0 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Wiedźmin | The Witcher (Video Game)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon & Geralt z Rivii | Geralt of Rivia
Characters: Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, Geralt z Rivii | Geralt of Rivia, Yennefer z Vengerbergu | Yennefer of Vengerberg
Additional Tags: he was definitely asking for it, Fanart, tag yourself i'm the one with the wine
Summary: All educators anticipate that glorious moment when the student surpasses the teacher.

The artist obviously paid attention to my general list of art likes, incorporating interesting perspective and background scenery detail, and it's just a fabulous piece overall, really, just beautiful, and you don't need to know the fandom to appreciate it as art, so go admire it!

Actually, there's a lot of nice art in this collection. I particularly like Clouds and Skie (Dragonlance, which I'm not familar with but there is a DRAGON!) and A Slothful Interlude (Master and Commander, which is a fandom I love, and there is a SLOTH!) but if you sort the collection works page by length and start at the shortest, you'll find all of them.

And there's some great fic, too. Some recs from my reading so far:

The Road To Anywhere But Here (3323 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: The Road to El Dorado (2000)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Chel/Miguel/Tulio
Characters: Chel (Road to El Dorado), Miguel (Road to El Dorado), Tulio (Road to El Dorado), Altivo (Road to El Dorado)
Additional Tags: Post-Canon
Summary: These shoes weren't made for walking.

Ahahaha this is hilarious. The character voices are perfection and the plot is simultaneously plausible (in-universe) and completely goofy.

War-Chants (1088 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Ancient History RPF
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Hannibal Barca, Scipio Africanus
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Eurovision Song Contest, Crack
Summary: [edited]Two frenemies talk trash over chat about the most important event of the premodern world: EUROVISION!!!

This is crack of the most delicious sort! I giggled mightily throughout, particularly at the historical references twisted into dudebro chat.

Why Darwin Discovered Evolution (1114 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Jack Aubrey & Stephen Maturin
Characters: Jack Aubrey, Stephen Maturin
Additional Tags: London, Evolution, Moths, Night On Fic Mountain 2017, Night on Fic Mountain 2017 Treat
Summary: [edited] 1815: Napoleon surrenders, and is exiled to St Helena. The British Navy, after seventeen years of war, retires ships, crews and captains. John Barrow, Second Secretary to the Admiralty, begins a programme of exploration which will last until 1845 and will include, in 1835, Charles Darwin's five year voyage of discovery in the Beagle. // In England, Jack Aubrey languishes on the Captains’ List, and Stephen Maturin chases moths.

This is lovely. The language is so perfectly canonical, as are poor Stephen's warring impulses, between that of his calling as a naturalist and the calling of his truest friend.

City of Futures (4558 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: The Divine Cities Series - Robert Jackson Bennett
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Turyin Mulaghesh, Tatyana Komayd
Additional Tags: Post-City of Miracles, the effect of legacies, poorly-expressed grief, bad life choices
Summary: [edited] The most curious miracle of all was that of briefly-miraculous events centered around Ashara Komayd, former Prime Minister to Saypur. // Though, of course, there was a lot more to it than that.

I beta-read this, so I'm biased, but I love Mulaghesh, and she's at her delightfully cranky, profane, investigative best here.

(no subject)

Jun. 22nd, 2017 17:41
marina: (scifi janelle)
[personal profile] marina
Life is good right now, and I want to record that, before I probably lose my apartment in the next few months, as I do every year for the past 5 years. Probably in some spectacular last minute clusterfuck, as has happened in 2 out of those 5 years.

Anyway, I'm still reading Ninefox Gambit and enjoying it a lot. My health is better. Not "healthy person" better, but definitely better than it's been in say, two years. I'm going to London soon, which is so, so exciting.

The thesis has been... awful, but awful in the usual academic-grind sort of way.

This morning my maternal grandmother's youngest sister died. I couldn't make it to the funeral, but weekend plans (mostly thesis plans) will have to be altered to go grieve with family. Her granddaughter just got married a few weeks ago.

I'm sad, even though I didn't spend a lot of time with her in recent years, since my grandparents died and we stopped celebrating their birthdays and anniversaries as big family events.

My grandmother was 12 when she and her sisters and her mom and her grandma and two of her female cousins were all living in a Nazi concentration camp. This sister, the youngest, remembers that time the least, but she was old enough then to help with the missions, where their mom would send them out in pairs to try and escape the camp illegally and get food and supplies in the nearby village.

Every outing meant risk of capture and death, so the girls always went in pairs with a cousin, not a sister. My great-grandmother wanted to ensure that she could never be blamed for putting her own children ahead of her nieces.

Anyway, it's a sad day. My own grandmother in New York just got out of a 3 month stay at the hospital, and I'm grappling with the fact that it's very likely I'll never see her again.

The sun is shining, and there are flowers outside, and I still have a bed and a kitchen and a closet that are entirely my own. I suppose that's something.

American Gods 1.08

Jun. 22nd, 2017 13:42
selenak: (Illyria by Kathyh)
[personal profile] selenak
Getting this done before the Munich Film Festival starts tomorrow (guests of honor: Bryan Cranston and Sofia Coppola, who brings her parents along!).

Now that the season is over, I'm still not sure whether Fuller's decision to stretch the main plot out and pace it the way he does is justified. I mean, we STILL haven't reached the House on the Rock yet, and I assumed that would happen in the third episode, as it's this story's Council of Elrond scene, so to speak. Just think of a LotR tv adaption where they've barely made out of the Shire by the time the season finishes. Otoh, all that Fuller & Co. have added does enrich the story and I wouldn't have wanted to miss it, so.

And the moral of the story is... )

wednesday reads 'n things

Jun. 21st, 2017 15:25
isis: (head)
[personal profile] isis
What I've recently finished reading:

Text: The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley, which I read in e-ARC from NetGalley. Natasha Pulley's second book has a lot in common with her first, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street: luminous, evocative writing that never obscures the narrative; a slow, gentle unfolding of story; two men with a significant age difference, from different cultures, carefully building a relationship; fantastical elements subtly woven into the fabric of the world. And Keita Mori makes an appearance in this book, which is awesome, though otherwise these books entirely stand alone.Cut for length, no real spoilers. )

Audio: Freakling by Lana Krumwiede, which I got via the Sync summer series of audiobooks for teens. The story of a community of telekinetics whose telekinesis is so entrenched that they literally cannot feed or dress themselves without the use of their "psi" - and to whom people without this power are both figuratively and literally powerless. This is really not YA but middle-grade, and I found myself wishing it had been aimed at a more sophisticated audience if only for the possibility of deeper exploration of its important themes. That said, it's still a solid dystopian novel along the lines of The Giver, in which a character discovers the flawed foundations of his societal structures.Cut for length, no real spoilers. )

What I'm reading now:

Text: Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb, the conclusion of the extremely long Realms of the Elderlings series. So far I'm enjoying it, though I've apparently forgotten a lot of what took place previously, oops. I'm particularly liking how the pronouns Fitz uses in his internal narrative for the Fool (who is currently presenting as female) change even within a paragraph, as he changes his focus from what others are seeing to what he personally feels and knows.

Audio: Beast by Donna Jo Napoli, another Sync audiobook. This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, from the male POV, set in medieval-ish Islamic Persia. (It's not clear exactly when - the blurb says 'ancient times' - but of course Islam didn't exist in what I consider to be ancient times, so I'm calling it medieval.) I'm not very far into it yet; it's okay, but I'm a little nervous about the treatment of women so far.

What I'm reading next:

I am going to have to pick something off my vast ebook collection, because we're going backpacking this weekend, and I'm NOT carrying that huge brick. Also, argh, my hold on Thick as Thieves came up, but I think I'll defer it for a while.

What I've recently finished watching:

Last night we saw the thrilling conclusion of S2 of The Man in the High Castle. Rock solid, I have to say. I'm really pleased that the alternate-worlds aspect is a strong part of the plot, because that's a trope I adore. Apparently there will be an S3, and I'm looking forward to it.

What I'm watching next:

Winter is coming! (Hey, it's the summer solstice, so by definition, it is!) Looking forward to it. I'd also like to watch S2 of The Expanse. And I need to see Wonder Woman before it vanishes!

(no subject)

Jun. 21st, 2017 20:14
lexin: (Default)
[personal profile] lexin
Smokey and I are throwing ourselves around in attitudes, as it’s very hot (for Britain) and very humid. I’m all miserable and sweaty, and I’m sure I can say the same for Smokey but she only sweats through her paws. She has quite sweaty paws, though, and was once found to be allergic to a specific type of kitty litter for that reason.

In other news, I’ve done the first pass of ripping my DVDs to soft copy. I’m left with a few irritations – some of the seasons of Criminal Minds didn’t rip properly and I’ll have to rip them again, this time into MKV files. Plus the titles got somehow mixed up (it was obviously my fault) on the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films, and I’m going to have to go through them patiently and make sure the right title is attached to each film. But it is mostly done.

I’m still following what’s coming out about the Grenfell Tower fire – the worst case of a fire since WW2, I think, and was totally avoidable if Kensington and Chelsea had just listened to the people who lived there and actually spent money on the place where it was needed. ‘Not political’ indeed! Ptui!

Adventures Elsewhere — May 2017

Jun. 21st, 2017 18:21
helloladies: Gray icon with a horseshoe open side facing down with pink text underneath that says Adventures Elsewhere (adventures elsewhere)
[personal profile] helloladies posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Adventures Elsewhere collects our reviews, guest posts, articles, and other content we've spread across the Internet recently! See what we've been up in our other projects. :D


Read more... )

Reading Wednesday and music meme

Jun. 21st, 2017 18:06
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: Not reading much or posting much at the moment because [personal profile] cjwatson is visiting and I'm mainly paying attention to him. I'll update here later in the week, probably.

Currently reading: Nearly finished: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I'm really enjoying the resolution of the political intrigue plot, but I'm a bit annoyed by the sophomoric speculation on the philosophical implications of sadism.

Up next: All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders.


Music meme day 8 of 30

A song about drugs or alcohol

Two from opposite ends of the spectrum: my ex-gf used to sing me this ridiculously soppy song, Kisses sweeter than wine by Jimmie Rogers. Which is really only tangentially about alcohol but it's connected to happy memories for me. And I couldn't leave out the most explicitly druggy song in my collection, Heroin, she said by WOLFSHEIM.

two videos )
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I was reading this one at the same time as I was reading Sorting The Beef From The Bull, which was like a natural sciences one-two punch; I would read Sorting while commuting, and Remarkable Creatures in bed at night. 

Remarkable Creatures is the fictionalized story of two real-life people, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, who were fossil hunters in Lyme Regis in England back when we were just starting to like, figure dinosaurs out. It follows their relationship, and their struggles to be seen as legitimate contributors to the scientific record, for several years.

I didn’t actually know the account was based in real life until after I’d finished reading, which did ameliorate some of my disappointment with the book, because it’s hard to make a climactic narrative out of peoples’ real lives – reality just doesn’t flow as smoothly as fiction. But I won’t lie: I am still pretty disappointed that Elizabeth and Mary didn’t end up together. I thought that was totally where we were heading.

Mind you, the story of their friendship is compelling, and Chevalier did find a way to create rising action within the story, even though as she put it in the afterword, Mary Anning basically did the same thing every day for years, in terms of hunting fossils. 

As an account of fossil hunting, of the religious wrestling that people had to do with the concept of extinction, and of the way women were treated in the era, it’s a really great book. And it’s also a fast read, which I’ve come to expect from Chevalier. And honestly, this is the first book of hers I’ve read where the female leads don’t get married, though this is in part because the real-life Mary and Elizabeth didn’t either. 

But it still feels like Chevalier’s books are always about women settling. It’s the same problem – I know that’s what women have had to do, and I’m sure she does it intentionally at least in part to remind us of that fact. I just want more for these heroines. 

But if you’re interested in paleontology, Do Recommend, it’s a good book. Less frustrating than The Last Runaway, certainly, and the characters feel more compelling, more three-dimensional, than some of those in Girl With A Pearl Earring. 

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Orphan Black 5.02.

Jun. 21st, 2017 09:52
selenak: (Rachel by Naginis)
[personal profile] selenak
Still feeling listless (me, that is, not the series) and waiting for my enthusiasm for the show to come back.

Spoilery comments ensue. )

Better Call Saul 3.10

Jun. 20th, 2017 16:22
selenak: (Jimmy and Kim)
[personal profile] selenak
In which Saul takes a backseat to Jimmy again, and only some of my speculations turn out to be correct.

Read more... )
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I don’t know why it surprises me, my summers are always bananas, but July looks especially bonkers this year. Of the 20 possible workdays in July, I’m out for conferences, vacation, or workshops for a full half of them. I’m properly working only ten days in the entire month of July. 

I mean, I’m not unhappy about it. And thank god for a great paid leave package. I’m going to be traveling to cool places and doing neat things. It’s just kind of surreal. Like how last year I was only in the office for one week in all of June. 

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copperbadge: (literate men need books)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Taking a little break from Tracy Chevalier (we’ll be back to her soon)...

So, [tumblr.com profile] terrie01 recommended this book to me during a discussion on food fraud, and it’s been a really...interesting experience. On the one hand it’s a very informative book, packed full of detail and data, but on the other oh man is it dry. I didn’t realize what a struggle it was to get through until I started reading Extra Virginity this morning, which is about the same general topic (focused on olive oil) but is much more engagingly written.

Sorting the Beef From The Bull focuses on food fraud from a legislative and economic angle; I can imagine for people working in the industry it’s a little more accessible, and I don’t think it’s a badly written book. It’s just jammed with a combination of dense law and complex biochemistry, when what I (a non-lawyer, non-scientist) wanted was like...war stories about food fraud.

text )

(no subject)

Jun. 19th, 2017 08:24
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Before we begin, a quick reminder: when you submit a link and a blurb, you guys are your own best advocates. Try to look at the sites you're submitting and think, If I knew nothing about this situation, would what I'm seeing be helpful? And if not, try to include more context. You can give me more than one link, and it's often helpful to do so.

(This isn't specific to this week, just starting to notice a trend over the last six months where not enough context is available for me to write the blurb, let alone for others to be informed about it. Just a gentle nudge in the right direction!)

Ways to Give:

Julie is raising funds to cover rent; she has a job lined up but won't have a paycheck in time for July's rent. (This is a link I'm sharing rather than one that was submitted to RFM, so while I wasn't sure I should post Julie's username, I'll vouch for her personally.) You can read more and support the fundraiser here.

[tumblr.com profile] charlietheskonk is fundraising for a new Montessori preschool with wrap-around care; the fundraiser is to support startup and licensing costs, and supports a queer-owned business. You can read more and reblog here, or check out the fundraiser and give here.

[tumblr.com profile] digitaldiscipline linked to Jenn Vs. Trevor, a charity deadlift battle to raise funds for the winner's local Humane Society branch. You can reblog the link here and read more and donate here.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is still struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and hasn't been cleared to return to work, thus can't earn money to cover basic living costs, let alone the bills they've received, including a recent rent increase. They are frequently running out of money for gas to even do odd jobs for pay. You can read more and help out here.

Help For Free:

Anon linked to the EPA, which is soliciting public comment about the Second Five-Year Review Report for the Hudson River PCBs Superfund site. The report indicates that the levels of PCBs in the river are still too high, but the EPA is not planning any active measures to reduce them. You can read more here and find contact information here to tell the EPA the Hudson River deserves better.

RSF linked to public comments solicitation about a plan to "trim" the US National Monuments; activists are working to make it known how important they are, and that monuments like Bears Ears should be saved. You can learn more and comment here.

News to Know:

[tumblr.com profile] drgaellon linked to a linkslist for religious LGBTQ people who are struggling with their faith's attitudes towards their orientation; included are sites that validate queer orientations for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, including a site specifically for trans Jewish people. You can find the links and reblog here.

Housing:

[tumblr.com profile] worldsonpaper is looking for a new flatmate in Sydney, 15 minutes by train from the CBD. She is LGBT+ friendly but requests no male applicants. Bedroom with a shared bath, $250/wk plus internet; electricity and water are covered in the rent. $900 bond. You can contact her via ask on tumblr or at wieldswords at gmail.com.

[tumblr.com profile] blackestglass is looking for a roommate in the greater DC/Northern VA area, to move in on August 1. She is in a 2br/2ba condo, Metro accesible, with free parking, gym access, and in-unit laundry. Master suite is available for $1290/mo plus utilities, or the smaller suite is available for $1190/mo, with lower rent if the parking space isn't needed and can be rented out. You can read more and get in touch here.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.

Doctor Who 10.10

Jun. 19th, 2017 15:14
selenak: (Tourists by Kathyh)
[personal profile] selenak
In which who penned the very last Classic Who adventure broadcast on tv in the 80s makes a comeback, lets Bill geek out over Rosemary Sutcliffe, and quotes Tacitus on us.

Read more... )

(no subject)

Jun. 18th, 2017 19:38
tinyjo: (jasmine)
[personal profile] tinyjo
Very garden heavy weekend this weekend, as Mum and Dad came to visit and Mum, Jeremy and I went to Gardeners World Live. We had a lovely time and did some very successful shopping but boy was the heat oppressive! I don't remember finding a gardens show such hard work since the first year we went to Hampton Court. Still, it was a really lovely day, with lots of beautiful gardens and plants, especially some of the borders.

I managed to buy quite a few good shade loving plants for my garden (and stuck to my budget!) but actually, being out here today, I hadn't realised how much the tree surgery had done in terms of reducing the shade on a lot of the garden - a lot of beds which were previously shady pretty much all day are now only really partial shade, which opens up quite a lot of options. Planting things up has also necessitated getting rid of a lot of weeds, including absolutely masses of creeping buttercup, but hopefully now that I'm a bit on top of it, things will be better. The trick next year will be to make sure that I keep ahead of the leaves in winter (which shouldn't be so bad anyway) so that I don't spend lots of spring clearing the paths and so on and letting weeds in the beds get out of hand.

I was also kind of chuffed that we managed to do the show experience in my Leaf, despite the fact that the NEC itself has no chargers, which surprised me. Still, a convenient charger on the M42 allowed us to recover post show with cold drinks and a seat in the shade, while charging the car up enough that I could run the air con on the way home :) Lucky that we had lots of sunshine on the solar panels at home to keep us going!

No, no, no!

Jun. 18th, 2017 15:22
selenak: (Londo and Vir by Ruuger)
[personal profile] selenak
Now, universe, this is just not fair. Stephen Furst has died, whoh played the wonderful Vir Cotto in my beloved Babylon 5.

If Londo's and G'Kars intertwining stories were for me the core of Babylon 5, Vir was its heart. He defied the cliché that a character who is good, sweet-natured and kind is per definition less interesting than the darker characters around him. Vir going from seeming comic relief to Londo's protesting conscience to the Centauri's best hope for a better future was moving, funny, dramatic - all of it. And Stephen Furst was up to whatever JMS wrote for him, with fantastic comic timing (the waving at Mr. Morden, for example) and heartrendering expressions (for example, the scene where he tries to apologize to G'Kar and G'Kar replies, well, here's the scene itself:



If you're in a scene with Andreas Katsulas and still hold your own, in a situation where you're a part of the people who occupied the other man's home planet (again) and you still make the audience feel for you as well as G'Kar, then you're an artist. Stephen Furst was.

I would have loved to include the scene between Vir and Londo after Cartagia's death as well, because for me that's not just one of Vir's best scenes but one of the show's most memorable, but alas, it doesn't seem to be on YouTube. Suffice to say: that scene says so much about who Vir is, about the Londo and Vir relationship, and also about B5 as a show, because most other shows would not have bothered with the aftermath of killing a villain so completely evil as Cartagia was.

Babylon 5 would not have been as good a show without Vir Cotto, and Vir Cotto might have been a very different character if he'd been played by anyone but Stephen Furst. I'm so grateful the two, Vir and Stephen Furst, found each other.

the state of things

Jun. 18th, 2017 10:58
marina: (amused Godric)
[personal profile] marina
Life has been... nice, in the last few days. Productive.

deets )

I also spent Saturday, when I wasn't doing thesis stuff, reading Ninefox Gambit by [personal profile] yhlee.

Someone on twitter told me the book's first 100 pages were very difficult to get through, but after that it was worth it. I'd say that the first 50 pages are the exposition/introduction, and if I hadn't been prepared for them I might have indeed quit at that point because it just felt very dense in details and low on stakes, but after those 50 pages the story actually starts, and maaaaan.

I've missed just ENJOYING a science fiction book. Not reading for research, or an article, or a review, but just... reading. Purely for my own pleasure. And this book is so, so much fun. Usually when I wake up on weekdays I watch something on my ipad in bed for a few minutes, like a buzzfeed video or a daily show clip or whatever. I do it in between checking my email and whatever.

This morning I woke up, reached for Ninefox Gambit, read it for the 5-10 minutes I have for that stuff in the morning, and was SO SAD to put it down to go to work. I didn't even touch my ipad or my phone.

In a way this book deserves to be read in increments, and I wouldn't actually recommend binging it, because it's so thick in details and nuance and worldbuilding, the details take time to settle, at least for me.

*

In other news, today is a special day in novella land. Instead of a chapter, there's bonus material! Specifically, a map that goes with the story.
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
[personal profile] karen2205
The fire at Grenfell Tower is amongst all sorts of other things, a reminder of something I learnt on 9/11.

Sometimes people, seemingly in authority, get it wrong and give out advice that is wrong for the situation. Blind obedience to advice can kill. Equally, in other circumstances, not following good advice can also kill. I know if I'd been in one of the World Trade Center Buildings and had been told to stay where I was I'd have done that. I'm older and less compliant nowadays. What would I have done if I'd been in Grenfell Tower? I don't know:-/

So, my advice, for what it's worth goes like this:

1. Nearly always you are the best judge of the situation on the ground, because you are there. There's an amusing pseudo-safety sign I've seen online that says something like "in the event of fire, evacuate the building before updating Facebook" and it's right. In an acute situation don't phone/email/poke the internet for help from friends or family instead of acting to get yourself somewhere safer. [Phone/email/internet for getting help if you *can't* help yourself to somewhere safer without help is different]
1.5. Teach children autonomy by stages as they can cope with it; the correct response to fire is to get out of the building and phone 999 before contacting a parent. You don't want your children not knowing how to act without your assistance, because there may be circumstances when you aren't there.
2. Advice from authority figures who are physically present with you vs. being on the phone stands IMO, a better chance of being accurate to your situation, but should still be subject to critical evaluation. Part of that critical evaluation might be that it's best to go along with for now, but that you need to keep the situation under review.
3. Advice can be perfectly good advice for most situations and still be wrong in your circumstances. Assume good faith, but remember they're people too and they make mistakes/don't have the same information you've got.

(no subject)

Jun. 17th, 2017 22:22
nostalgia: (missy!)
[personal profile] nostalgia
Dr Who is so much better without shit mummified monks in it.

Feud: Bette and Joan (review)

Jun. 17th, 2017 18:45
selenak: (Kate Hepburn by Misbegotten)
[personal profile] selenak
Having watched „American Crime: The People vs O.J. Simpson“ some months ago, I moved on to this year’s Ryan Murphy endeavour, „Feud: Bette and Joan”, several episodes of which were scripted by Tim Minear, aka he who was largely responsible for most of Darla’s episodes at Angel, for which I’ll eternally appreciate him. Now I had actually read the book this particular miniseries draws much of its material from, “Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud”, and among other things, it was interesting to see how Murphy and his team shaped the same raw material into a different type of story. The book is very gossipy, but in a way that doesn’t favour either woman about the other, and does point out when there are several conflicting accounts. Narratively, though, it feels like a collection of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford anecdotes, without overall themes or specific conclusions. The miniseries, otoh, goes for the the Sunset Boulevard (btw: there’s a great little reference to it during an escalating Davis/Crawford argument) approach of witty, biting and ultimately tragic Hollywood on Hollywood; if Bette Davis comes across as the more “likeable” of the two women, it’s ultimately Joan Crawford whose tragedy it is, and who has the most clear cut narrative arc, from her decision to find a project for herself and Bette Davis in the series opener to her death in the finale.

You mean all this time, we could have been friends? )

Small buses with letters

Jun. 17th, 2017 12:04
[personal profile] secretlondon posting in [community profile] flaneurs
Every year I attempt 3a - and this year is no exception! (2014, 2015, 2015b, 2016)

III. (a)

Travel to or from your workplace one day using a completely different route to any you've ever used before.


I've been thinking about how to do this for several weeks when it came to me. The little bus from work ends in an estate in Battersea. The little bus that goes nearest home starts in an estate in Battersea. I'll get one bus, walk between the termini and get the other!

Ooh buses )

Helmut Kohl

Jun. 17th, 2017 12:52
selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
[personal profile] selenak
I was born in 1969, which means I was in school and just making the transition from child to teenager when Helmut Kohl became chancellor. By the time he was voted out of office, he’d been Chancellor for sixteen years. (Hence one of his nicknames: The Eternal Chancellor.) He died yesterday, the tributes haven’t stopped coming in, and as when Genscher and before him Helmut Schmidt died, I feel both a bit of history and a part of what formed my life when I was young has gone; I feel my own mortality.

Not because I was a fan. I never voted for him, not being a conservative. I disagreed with various of his policies. But when I look back, it occurs to me that growing up when I did, I internalized at least two of his core beliefs – that the European Union is our future, central to avoiding the horrors of the past (by which I don’t just mean WWII but centuries of European warfare), and that the French-German relationship is central for this. It’s no accident that probably the Kohl photograph included the most in the tributes both national and international was the one depicting him holding hands with Mitterand at Verdun. Of course, no post war German chancellor was likely to neglect France for obvious reasons, but Kohl, hailing from the Palatinate near the French border which during various French-German wars was always likely to be among the first regions to be devastated during those centuries of warfare, really made wooing the French personal. (And kept it up beyond office; till Mitterand’s death, they met at least once a month.)

(My favourite Kohl and Mitterand joke goes somewhat like this: Kohl during a state visit in Speyer inflicts his favourite dish, stuffed belly of pork, on Mitterand , who first looks appalled. Then Kohl whispers something into his ear, and suddenly Mitterand eats with all signs of enthusiasm and finishes the meal. Later, Kohl’s sidekicks want to know what he said, and Kohl reveals: “I said: If you don’t eat up, Francois, you’re getting the Saarland back.”)

Among the many obituaries trying to sum up the man, from chronically underestimated hedgehog to everyone else’s hare outmanoeuvring all rivals to lonely giant incapable of admitting mistakes or accepting criticism, I think this one works best for me, not uncritical (unsurprisingly, since it’s by Der Spiegel, a magazine Kohl saw as the enemy, but also respectful of his achievements. (Whereas, say, the obituary in the Guardian felt downright mean spirited.) I’m still trying to figure out what I feel. Not sadness; both because there would have had to have been affection first, and because he was in a very bad physical state, and had been for years. It is more like what you feel when you see a giant glacier which had been melting for many years at last dissolving into water and earth, and only then you understand that the sight of the glacier, the awareness of it, had been part of the landscape that told you who you were.

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