magpie tree

Wednesday reading — house spirits and other haunts

What I've been reading

Did you know that David Ives, author of highly quotable short plays and that sexy long one, has taken to writing children's books? Because I did not know this. At first I just assumed that my library had screwed up their authorities, but no.

His first book, Monsieur Eek, I thought was a little shaky, but I really enjoyed the subsequent two books, Scrib and Voss: How I Come to America and am Hero, Mostly. Both of those have strong funny narrative voices and really good judicious use of speling to convey dialect.

I read Seconds, Bryan Lee O'Malley's new book, and to be honest I was a little disappointed that I didn't love it more. Like, don't get me wrong, it's a cute, fun book, although a little claustrophobic. I guess part of the problem was that he was working on it for what seemed like approximately one million years since the last volume of Scott Pilgrim came out.

I read Life in a Medieval Village, which is so interesting and entertainingly written. I absolutely love details of day to day life from pretty much any historical period.

I read This is a Book by Demetri Martin. It is very aptly named. If you have ever seen Demetri Martin, you can probably imagine the book pretty accurately. (The illustrations aren't as fun when you don't get to watch him draw them! This is a flaw in book technology!)

I read the graphic novel adaptation of The Sworn Sword, the second Dunk and Egg novella. As an adaptation it's okay, I guess.

I read The New Deadwardians, which I thought was a longer Vertigo series but turned out to be fully contained within one trade of eight issues. I really liked it and thought the worldbuilding with the vampires and zombies and class issues was interesting and would have sustained more stories in that universe.

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  • Current Mood: sleepy sleepy

Wednesday reading — theatre and other roleplaying

What I've been reading

I read Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics, because when I set about geeking out about a subject I like to be thorough.

I read The Voyeurs, which is one possible answer to the question how introverted and socially awkward can you be and still draw a compelling autobiographical comic? which, as an introverted and socially-awkward person, drew me in. Amusingly, her boyfriend during the first part of the period of time covered by this book was some French director named Michel who was working on some short films and stuff, and it wasn't until much later when she mentioned him leaving to make The Green Hornet that I realized oh, wait, that's Michel Gondry. (I am the only person I know who loved that stupid movie.)

I read March: Book One, the first volume of John Lewis's graphic autobiography, and it's really great.

I read Venus in Fur, the play by David Ives. Or rather, I was watching this bootleg recording of Venus in Fur, because I'd seen the gifs of Hugh Dancy on tumblr, and I was having trouble making out the dialogue at times, which is a problem in a talky play, but then I found this PDF of the script that maybe isn't supposed to be public but Google totally found it and that let me follow along. It's a meta play about a playwright who's written an adaptation of Sacher-Masoch's book and an actress who shows up to audition for it. I found it really smart and sexy, the smartness totally enhancing the sexiness for me.

I was then, for obvious reasons, inspired to reread Venus in Furs, and was honestly surprised by how funny I found it. For an absurdly masturbatory fantasy, it's oddly realistic about how tiresome and ultimately unsatisfying it might be to fulfill some dude's incredibly demanding 24/7 lifestyle. I think my favorite part though is how Aurora Rümelin was inspired by reading it to pursue a Venus in Furs-type relationship with the author, only to eventually write her own memoir about how tiresome and ultimately unsatisfying it was. Ahahahaha whoops. I'd really like to get ahold of that book sometime, because it sounds fascinating.

I also reread David Ives's classic collection of short plays, All in the Timing. Back in high school I assistant directed a production of three of them for class and it was awesome, even though we had to edit some of them for language ("You brought me into your freaking Philadelphia!").

I read, for the first time, another of David Ives's collections of short plays, Lives of the Saints. I was particularly taken by the one about the Maytag man who's in a relationship with a washing machine.

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  • Current Mood: bouncy bouncy
writing is sex

Friday fics — footnotes, flirting and fix-its

Friday fics return this week, thanks to Night on Fic Mountain as well as two other stories I found in my notes when I came to make this post.

Love Notes (835 words) by MacBeth
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Discworld - Terry Pratchett, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell - Susanna Clarke
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: History/Lexicon
Characters: History - Character, Lexicon - Character, Death (Discworld), The Librarian (Discworld)
Additional Tags: Footnote love, Crossover, The History and Practice of English Magic, The Dictionary of Eye-Watering Words, some library books will never be returned

"When two footnotes love each other . . . "
. . . is a prompt too good to resist.

Written for Lost Spook's second "Obscure & British" fic fest.

Utterly delightful, especially if you love footnotes as much as I do.

Foreign territory (2467 words) by iridescentglow
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Hannibal (TV) RPF, Hannibal (TV)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Hugh Dancy/Mads Mikkelsen, Mads Mikkelsen/Hugh Dancy/Claire Danes
Characters: Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Claire Danes
Additional Tags: Threesome, Polyamory, Smoking, Alcohol

Mads, who has an open marriage, decides to introduce Hugh and Claire to the concept. With a threesome, obviously.

I also love open marriages. And Claire Danes. I basically find everything about this story super-charming. ♥

judy is a punk (4350 words) by margot_tenenbaum
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Margot Tenenbaum/Richie Tenenbaum, Eli Cash/Margot Tenenbaum, Margot Tenenbaum/OC
Characters: Margot Tenenbaum, Richie Tenenbaum, Chas Tenenbaum, Etheline Tenenbaum, Eli Cash, Rachael Evans Tenenbaum

Everywhere Margot sees her own name, the word "genius" follows. Margot has a sizeable IQ, an impressive vocabulary, and is versed in three languages but the word genius will be infinitely puzzling.

I really like Margot's voice in this story; appropriately enough, as on reveal it turned out to be written by 'margot_tenenbaum'.

Things Which Catch the Eye (2848 words) by petrichoral
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Pillow Book - Sei Shônagon, Heian jidai | Heian Period RPF
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Murasaki Shikibu/Sei Shonagon
Characters: Sei Shonagon, Murasaki Shikibu
Additional Tags: Flirting

Really, it's bad enough that you have to deal with these sorts of people in the cooler months. In summer I wish they'd just take themselves off to the provinces and all be disagreeable at each other, and leave us alone.

I've only read bits of the Pillow Book (admittedly, it's written to be read that way) and acquired copies of The Tale of Genji that I intend to open at some point, but this story is simply the best.

Two for Joy (3389 words) by sevenofspade
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Loki: Agent of Asgard, Journey into Mystery
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Loki (Marvel), Verity Willis

This is a story about Loki. It doesn't feature quite as much lying as you might expect based on that. Verity won't let it.

Verity is such a great counterpoint to Loki in this story; it's perfect.

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Wednesday reading — late Latin and space opera

What I've been reading

I read Literary Language and Its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages, which is essentially a followup to precisely the parts of Mimesis that I was most particularly interested in, which was a happy discovery. I had to read it kind of quickly, though, because the out of system library that mine borrowed it from wanted it back on a tight turnaround for some reason, even though I have to imagine that it doesn't exactly fly off the shelves there. I kind of ship Otto III/Pope Sylvester II (né Gerbert d'Aurillac) now. Also in the introduction he quotes Vico, so this icon has literally never been more appropriate on any entry or comment I've used it on.

I read Cibola Burn, the new book in the Expanse series, which was a very pleasant surprise because I had thought it was a trilogy and all wrapped up but evidentally they're planning on writing at least nine of them! It's almost like Firefly getting uncanceled, because they scratch a similar narrative itch for me.

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  • Current Mood: cheerful cheerful
Gryffindor smug

the Germans have a word for it

All four of the teams I was pulling for in their quarterfinal matches lost, leaving me without any preferences aside from wanting someone to beat Brazil after their appalling behavior in the match against Colombia.

This was achieved beyond my wildest dreams.

I have never laughed so hard during a sporting event.

I continue to be entertained.

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  • Current Mood: jubilant jubilant
Mai Yamani

Wednesday reading — realism and romance

What I've been reading

I read Agnes Grey, which was totally the sort of thing you would expect from Anne Brontë based on the Hark! A Vagrant strip. It is actually kind of hilarious how painfully healthy, respectful and virtuous our heroine's romance with the curate is. The scathing indictment of the shoddy treatment of governesses is a little more interesting at least.

I read The Silkworm, the sequel to The Cuckoo's Calling. This one features a dead author whose work was inspired by Jacobean revenge tragedies, which is awesome. On the other hand, I fear that Robin and Cormorant are careering towards a romantic entanglement when I was really hoping that they were going to stay platonic, even as Robin's fiancé keeps being more and more of a dick. Amusing sidelight: Cormorant Strike mentions seeing Emma Watson on this specific Vogue cover. Is Emma Watson still famous for Harry Potter in the universe that these books are set in? Are the Harry Potter books still written by J.K. Rowling in this universe? Is the author of Harry Potter not known to be publishing mysteries under a pseudonym in this universe, or is she writing her mysteries about a detective with a different preposterous name? I have so many questions.

I read Up the Pier, another one of Helen Cresswell's non-Bagthorpe books. It is more like The Winter of the Birds, where the magic is a fairly transparent psychological metaphor, than The Night Watchmen, where I am still so confused as to what is actually meant to be happening in this book that it almost makes me angry. I seriously reread that about a year and a half ago, fully expecting that I would get it as an adult and was baffled all over again. But I liked this one, even though it left me feeling that the most reasonable explanation was that there was no magic and Carrie made it all up, which makes me feel old.

What I'm reading next

Probably going to reread American Gods, now that the TV version is happening and especially now that Bryan Fuller is attached to it. Actually, I still haven't read the expanded author's preferred text, but it's been so long since I read the original version that I kind of want to reread that first for comparison.

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  • Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
goodbye kiss

Belgium vs. Tim Howard

I take it back! There is actually a limit to how much goalkeeping I desire to watch! That was an entirely excessive—and indeed, record-setting—amount of spectacular goalkeeping!

The rest of the US team really let me down, though, especially since I was really looking forward to seeing some more action from the tall, dark and handsome Belgian goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois. He can get it.1

1Through to the quarterfinals.

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  • Current Mood: recumbent recumbent
Tezuka Zone

the beautiful game

I have gotten sucked into following the World Cup, which is not entirely surprising, as I have a history of taking an interest in literally any sport so long as it is being played at four-year intervals by national teams for wildly enthusiastic fans. (The cartoonishly-evil organizing body is a point of similarity I could have done without, but the World Cup has that as well!) It started innocently enough with randomly catching chunks of group games that happened to be playing while I was at the gym, but then I watched the US-Portugal and US-Germany matches on purpose and have avidly watched every single match of the knockout round thus far.

Never having seriously watched any soccer football before, I learned for the first time that I really like watching goalkeepers. I could just sit and watch a good goalkeeper goalkeep for hours. (It really doesn't hurt that many of them are also quite good-looking.) People who don't like soccer football and feel that they need to defend that dislike and/or convince others to share it always complain that it's a low-scoring game, but I love watching teams battle fiercely down the pitch to take a shot on the goal only to have it casually swatted away by the goalkeeper like it's nothing. When I don't particularly have a side to pull for, which is most of the time, I incline towards the team with the more attractive goalkeeper in terms of personal appearance and/or goalkeeping.

This is a terrible time for The Bugle to be on hiatus, though! For the first time since the London Olympics I'm actually watching the same sporting events as Andy and would be able to follow along with him.

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  • Current Mood: excited excited
Kristy/Mary Anne

Wednesday reading — scarabs, spaceships, short stories and long memories

What I've been reading

I finally finished Ancillary Justice and warmed up to it in the process. I would say the first half was pretty much an interminable slog for me, the third quarter began to come together and the end was even exciting.

I read Homo Zapiens to impress a guy I had a crush on whom I haven't seen in ten years and whose last name I don't remember so I can't even stalk him on Facebook. I do realize that this is extraordinarily unlikely to be effective, but, well, I'd made a mental note of the title when he mentioned it and it was lodged in the part of the brain devoted to crush objects, which is persistent and easily activated, so when I saw a used copy for a dollar I bought it and I read it. It is originally Russian, as the boy in question was, and seemed to me like what you would get if you mashed up The Master and Margarita with a dollop of Snow Crash and a pinch of Dilbert.

I read an best-of anthology of Connie Willis short stories for some reason, even though Connie Willis tends to annoy me at short story length. Actually, she often annoys me at novel length as well, but there it's generally compensated for by all the ways I find her incredibly readable. I do always like when there are little afterwords included after short stories, as there are with these.

I read the final three trades of Blue Beetle, and honestly the only one I thought was a really good story was volume 4, End Game, and considering the name I can kind of see why the title didn't make it that many issues past the conclusion of that story. Even the storylines I wasn't thrilled with had a bunch of nice character moments, though; I can definitely see why other people loved this comic. I hear the New 52 reboot was terrible (big surprise).

I read The Long Way Home and Best Kept Secret, the middle two installments in Ann M. Martin's Family Tree series. I was a bit disappointed that even though the latter book features a girl who is in her teens in the 1980s there was only one outfit described that I can remember and it wasn't even as exciting as what you would generally get in a BSC chapter two.

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  • Current Mood: sleepy sleepy
practically perfect

Wednesday reading — scarabs, succession and Sunnybrook

What I've been reading

I finished Half-Off Ragnarok and it was okay fun, although I just realized that I have no idea how the title is related to the book at all. Hmm.

I read The Goblin Emperor and man, that was a really odd book. I feel like Sarah Monette has some lingering regrets about how closely Felix in the Mélusine books hewed to his origins within her teenaged id and set out to create a protagonist who was the exact opposite and almost relentless in his boringness and awkwardness. It has its own sort of satisfactions—it's made up of small victories as Maya learns how to use etiquette, diplomacy, and authentic social connections to achieve his goals—but it's unusually constrained. Also, notably, it has about the most regressive depiction of queerness I can think of short of simply not depicting it at all: there's minor spoilersCollapse ) That was really, really not what I was expecting at all, considering, well, The Doctrine of Labyrinths.

I reread Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, which I used to be as familiar with as Anne of Green Gables (which I think I once read that L. M. Montgomery never openly acknowledged as being influenced by Rebecca, even though it is known that she had read it and, well, obvious similarities are obvious) but hadn't reread since I discovered fandom, and thus hadn't realized how incredibly canon Rebecca/Emma Jane is. I mean, they do sort of fit into the Inseparables archetype, where the devotion is not quite equal on both sides and the seeds of separability have already been sown within the relationship even while the characters are still swearing that they won't be parted, but still, by the end of this book, Emma Jane's loyalty is still firmly with Rebecca and while Rebecca's is divided, Emma Jane's rival is a whole intellectual and literary life and not any one person, as she persistently fails to even acknowledge Adam Ladd could be thinking about her that way. I still totally believe that they could be so happy together okay. ♥

I then reread New Chronicles of Rebecca, which is sort of a non-sequel that backfills new incidents into Rebecca's childhood and, in the final chapter, desperately retcons some heterosexuality into the story. Now Emma Jane totes has a boyfriend who wrote her a lovely Latin love letter, and it is explicitly confirmred that Adam Ladd is basically waiting for Rebecca to grow up because he can't deal with any women that he hasn't been grooming since childhood like a creeper. (Kate Douglas Wiggin's grandson Eric rewrote the first two books "for today's reader" and tacked on a really terrible sequel where Rebecca and Adam get married. It squicked me deeply as a child before I figured out the publication history and I was so relieved to discover that it wasn't canon. Dirtybadwrong Adam/Rebecca could be interesting, but doesn't seem to exist anywhere.) Now, I don't know that this is something that Kate Douglas Wiggin was intentionally trying to rectify, but. Um. Yeah.

I read the first three trades-worth of the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle, which is one of the most widely-recced DC comics runs in places I frequent. I can see why people love Jaime, but I have to admit, I find some of the wider DCU setting weirder than the Marvelverse, and often in ways that seem offputting. I think I really hate everything to do with colored Lanterns, for example. Issue #22 has a joke about what you find when you search for "slash" on the internet, though, so there's that.

I read Dramarama and liked it, probably better than We Were Liars, but then I was, albeit in a much more low-key, low-stakes way, a drama kid.

What I'm reading now

I'm about a third of the way through Ancillary Justice, which even though it's not my new favorite book yet I am rooting for to win the Hugo for Best Novel since most of the rest of the slate looks so dire.

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