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I went to Graphic Novel book group once before, to discuss Bitch Planet, when the group leader, Cameron, happened not to be there. He was there today. I don't think I'll be going back.

Maybe he would be diluted in a larger group? There were only four of us. And neither I nor the other two guys, whom I know from SF book group, are very good at grabbing the talking stick. Still Cameron seemed weirdly controlling. I think more than half the time was just Cameron talking, and he didn't leave spaces where other people could start talking if they wanted to; he'd call on us, like, "What did you think of it? Was there anything else that you liked?" And whenever anyone spoke up without being called on he'd say something like, "Yes, go ahead." He'd actually interrupt a person who was speaking in order to give them permission to speak. When he said he was a history teacher I thought, that explains it.
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• What are you reading?

Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World, by Emma Marris. Marris's prose is just pedestrian, neither delightful nor efficient, but it covers the ground she wants to cover, which is intensely interesting to me.

Coincidentally, I just read two links from [personal profile] forestofglory on this topic:
http://edgeeffects.net/uw-arboretum-prairie/
Knowing Prairies, a short graphic essay (like graphic novel, but nonfiction and short) about prairie restoration: what it means, how possible it is, what it is worth. "When I visit the first restored prairie, I don't see a time machine nor a fake nature. Instead, I see a place altered by people negotiating their relationship with the natural world."

and http://uncannymagazine.com/article/packing/
"Packing", by T. Kingfisher, a short story about choosing which species we're going to save.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Beloved, by Toni Morrison, for Classics book group.

I thought this would be a bit easier to read the second time, but it wasn't. It was good to talk about at book group though. I really like the faculty sponsors and the grad student who lead this discussion.
She shook her head from side to side, resigned to her rebellious brain. Why was there nothing it refused? No misery, no regret, no hateful picture too rotten to accept? Like a greedy child it snatched up everything. Just once, could it say, No thank you? I just ate and can't hold another bite?[....]I don't want to know or have to remember that. I have other things to do: worry, for example, about tomorrow, about Denver, about Beloved, about age and sickness not to speak of love.
But her brain was not interested in the future. Loaded with the past and hungry for more, it left her no room to imagine, let alone plan for, the next day[....]Other people went crazy, why couldn't she? Other people's brains stopped, turned around and went on the something new, which is what must have happened to Halle. And how sweet that would have been[....]

I'd like to reread The Fifth Season and think about how it relates to Beloved.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

March, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, for Graphic Novel book group.
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...to show someone what makes this show so great?

My daughter doesn't watch much animated stuff and had never heard of Steven Universe, but was intrigued by my description of Amal El-Mohtar's Wiscon GoH speech. If you were to pick a few episodes from the first season to help someone decided whether this is the sort of thing she might like, and you were really hoping she would decide yes, which ones would you pick?
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• What are you reading?

Borderline, by Mishell Baker, for SF book group. I am enjoying this although it does have a Mary Sue problem: the narrator is very important to everyone she encounters, for no reason that the reader can see. Also it is very talky.

• What did you recently finish reading?

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Ferris. Interesting and beautiful. I would have like a warning for the child sexual abuse.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Beloved, by Toni Morrison, for classics book group. Reread.
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It's cool and overcast, equally hazy in all directions. The sun is an angry orange blob. The moon was orange last night too. There isn't much smell of woodsmoke, but maybe I am just too congested to smell it. I think about all that carbon tossed back into the air.
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+ I just watched the episode of Downward Dog that guest-stars Nichelle Nichols!!

- Why do I always find out about good TV after it's cancelled.

voice

Aug. 29th, 2017 04:28 pm
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Library book group chose books last night. This group reads six books over nine months, and chooses books by voting. I persuaded the group to choose Kindred, by Octavia Butler. The other five books we chose are:

The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell
A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles
Crossing to Safety - Wallace Stegner
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
The Good Earth - Pearl Buck

A wide variety!

Classics book group meets every month during the school year. Each CSU grad student or instructor who volunteers to lead a discussion gets to choose the book. The first four books for that group are:

Beloved - Toni Morrison
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories - H.P. Lovecraft
The Woman Warrior - Maxine Hong Kingston
The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

Tawanda book group is the one that has been meeting for 26 years and doesn't really discuss books much any more. Terri hosted this month and asked us each to bring a poem to read. Amy recovered twelve of her steers since last month, but eleven are still lost in the forest so she couldn't afford to take a night off the search. Terri read "Your children are not your children," by Khalil Gibran. I read "Wild Geese". Jo read "Going to Walden," also by Mary Oliver. Kathleen brought something by Wendell Berry, but I don't remember what, because she asked me to read it, and apparently I do not have enough brain to speak in public and put things into longterm memory at the same time. Cate read "It's Time Somebody Told Me," which her mother had cut out from the newspaper, laminated, and carried around in her wallet until she died.
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We just had the first concom meeting for Wiscon 42, and I have questions:

1. I agreed conditionally to run Kids' Programming this year. The condition is that some other people run it with me. It has been run by one person for the last few years, but that was all she did during all the daytime programming hours, and I'm not willing to give up that much of my Wiscon, so I'm looking for co-leads. Are you interested in joining Wiscon's concom? Do you know anyone who might be interested? Let me know!

There are many other open positions on concom, so if you are interested in running Wiscon but not in entertaining children, let me know and I will put you in touch with Personnel. And if you are interested in entertaining children but not in being on concom, that's useful too! You could take charge of one programming slot without any other responsibilities.

2. About Wiscon's social media presence: apart from http://wiscon.net/ all the outreach is happening on Twitter and Facebook. I could retweet stuff about Wiscon, but I don't have any followers. I'm not joining Facebook. Do you think Dreamwidth is still useful as a way to promote Wiscon to people who are not already interested?

3. Should I volunteer to lead a storytelling workshop at Wiscon? It would be like a writing workshop, except you would bring a story to tell. You'd get a couple chances to practice standing up in front of sympathetic strangers to tell your story, and get feedback from said strangers on your story and your delivery.

I don't know whether people will be interested in this but that is a self-solving problem: if no one is interested, they won't sign up.

I'm worried about the expectations of people who do sign up, though. Lots of things called "storytelling workshop" are actually lectures, which I'm not interested in giving, or classes, which I am not qualified to teach. Is there another word that signifies peer-to-peer critique session?
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My SF book group today came up with three ideas for things that we agreed we would read the heck out of (and our ratings for The Fifth Season were 8-10 out of 10, so clearly we collectively have very good taste):

1. Donna mentioned Soldier of the Mist and I said I longed to read a fanfic from the point of view of the AI in Person of Interest, in the period when she is figuring out how to circumvent the protocol that wipes her memory every day.

2. I mentioned Station Eleven and Jacqie said she had an aversion to post-apocalyptic traveling theater troupes doing Shakespeare, so we talked about what we'd like to see a post-apocalyptic traveling theater troupe do: they have an orchestra, why not Gilbert and Sullivan? But the most approval went to the suggestion of post-apocalyptic Rocky Horror Picture Show. There was some discussion of how the audience participation could work when you would not throw any rice or toilet paper you happened to have.

3. Someone said they were reading a book about Helen of Sparta, that is, Helen of Troy before she ran away with Paris. Stephen said he thought it was going to be a book about Helen of Troy as a Spartan warrior. Stephen says that Spartans let women train like warriors.
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• What are you reading?

The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin, for SF book group. I had been putting this one off, because I heard it began with the murder of a very young child, in a world that is so terrible that this seems like reasonable behavior. The book is grim, but gripping.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Nothing! I'm in the middle of six different things. I didn't finish Out Stealing Horses because a moose crashed through the fence of the woman who was hosting book group in July, and now her steers are roaming free on thousands of acres of forest, with the rains washing away their traces. She'll reschedule in August and I'll read it then. There is a moose at my husband's house, too:moose )
I have to keep a careful eye on the dogs when we visit.

I did watch the first season of American Gods, which was beautiful. I read American Gods too long ago to judge how good an adaptation this is, but it is a very good TV show.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

My Favorite Thing is Monsters, by Emil Ferris, because my library hold just came through.
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• What are you reading?

Chimera, by John Barth. Last read in college, when I was studying computer science, and everything Barth said about letters and stories seemed to be a direct reflection of something Turing discovered about numbers and computing machines. "The key to the treasure is the treasure."

• What did you recently finish reading?

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. I had been putting this off, because my non-SF-reading friends were saying it was really good but my SF-reading friends were finding it disappointing, which usually means I'll find it disappointing. Turns out it's really good!

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson, for Tawanda book group.
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garden photo )

Every time I go out to move a hose, I see dozens of things that make me think, gotta take care of that. But right now each of those things makes me think, what is that going to look like in two more weeks? I gotta take care of that now!

tarot

Jul. 7th, 2017 06:43 pm
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One Card
The card represents the critical factor for the issue at hand. Simbi La Flambeau (Eight of Wands): A sudden release of raw power, cutting through confusion and indecision, and setting things in motion. Rapid progress towards a desired goal, brought about by immediate and decisive action. Boldness and daring in love, business, travel, or spiritual growth.



It is true that I am using my anxiety about upcoming travel for immediate and decisive action towards a desired goal of clean kitchen, bathroom, and laundry.
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• What are you reading?

Panic in Box C, by John Dickson Carr. I spent the night at my husband's house, to limit the dogs' exposure to fireworks, and found this on a shelf. Very strange narrative choices. It seems that Carr wants to give the reader a lot of backstory, in nonconsecutive fragments, which are told by various characters to various other characters, without any believable motive. This is a mystery novel, so maybe it will turn out that some of these stories are lies, and the reader can figure out whodunnit by noticing the discrepancies between different characters' stories.

Also Frommer's Easy Guide to Montreal and Quebec City.

• What did you recently finish reading?

All Systems Red, by Martha Wells. I loved it. This is how Murderbot begins its narrative:
I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don't know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.


I'm always eager for an AI (or alien) that thinks as well as a human but not like a human. Murderbot is clearly related to us, and enough like us to be entertained by our entertainment, but it is not human and has no desire to be -- no matter how much it likes a few humans who are lucky enough to get it as their Security Unit.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Becoming Unbecoming, by Una, recommended by someone on my reading list I think but I don't remember who.
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I went to the storytelling. I timed my walk right and got there at the start time, but it was so hot, even at 7 p.m., that I opted to go inside to buy a drink, and miss the start. And so did a lot of other people, so I missed the whole first storyteller.

It was a good turnout:cut for pic )There were more people sitting on a low wall behind me, and people standing at the side.

The second storyteller talked about encounters with coffee-snob baristas, and a visit to a coffee farm in Colombia. You could see that she had had some training, in storytelling or some other theater, when she described the landscape. She showed us how lovely it looked from far away, and then how it felt to walk down a cliff-face to pick the coffee cherries.

The third talked about her relationship with food: how her family encouraged her to be miserly with money and with calories; how boyfriends and their families encouraged her to take pleasure in eating and other indulgences; how food makes memories vivid, and memories of particular meals anchor her important friendships now. When she was describing her disordered eating, I thought, "This needs a trigger warning." Then, when she was describing food really sensually, I thought more generally about what we warn for, and what we should warn for. The point of storytelling is to use our words and our physicalities to put images in your mind.

The fourth talked about how growing up on a farm had made her familiar with birth and death, and affected her understanding of her own inevitable death. She described two corpses very vividly. A beloved horse, who had done "what horses do: lived a long, happy life, and then walked himself to the very back pasture, across a couple of irrigation ditches, and buckled his knees under the buckle of the mountain, and died." Unfortunately, on the other side of that fence was the kitchen window of a brand-new million-dollar home, built by a new neighbor who was not a farmer, who needed the corpse moved. The storyteller's mother explained that she could not get a rendering truck or a backhoe across those irrigation ditches, and she was going to let it rot, though the neighbor was welcome to move it if they could figure out how. The storyteller's mother hadn't liked that neighbor anyway. Those irrigation ditches had flooded, in the storyteller's childhood, severely enough to undermine the century-old tombstones in Bingham Hill Cemetery, which brings us to the second corpse. The storyteller's mother didn't mean to graverob, she just didn't want him to wash away.

This was a very good story.

The fifth talked about being a public radio journalist on the farm beat.

The sixth was a theater guy. He talked about being a city kid and going to his father's cousin's farm on holidays.

I learned something useful from the last storyteller, whose story didn't really have a structure: at the end, he said, "That's my story, thank you!" and everyone applauded. My stories tend to be small and oddly shaped, and leave my audience saying, "Wait, that's the story? You're done?" so I think I will try this tactic.
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I am supposed to go to rounds every Tuesday from 6 to 7 at the raptor rehab where I volunteer. It's good to be up-to-date on protocols, and to get the news about the cases. On the other hand, there is always a lot of information I don't need, and there are other ways to get the information I do need.

Tomorrow night there is a storytelling event at a coffee house from 7 to 9. "The event will showcase a selection of community storytellers sharing stories on the theme of food and farm. We’ve invited six storytellers — writers, poets, performers, journalists, speakers — to prepare true, personal stories and share them in front of a live audience." I'd like to go. I am always interested in anything that could help me become a better storyteller.

I could skip rounds.
I could leave rounds 10 minutes early and go to both, but I hate getting up when everyone else is still sitting patiently, and also that would be a very long evening for me.
I could just stay home. Staying home is always good.
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[personal profile] jesse_the_k tells me all the cool kids are doing this:

what boxofdelights likes to talk about

row 1: my kids; gardening; tutoring; the fanfic community; Octavia Butler;
row 2: stories; books; autonomy; Wiscon; storytelling;
row 3: dogs; Rachel Maddow; math; different points of view; raptors;
row 4: introversion; puzzles; podfic; logic; making people laugh;
row 5: compost; R.A. Lafferty; science fiction; due South; ecology;

I made this at http://myfreebingocards.com
I picked 25 topics that I like, and that I like to talk about.
I let the web page randomize the placement. I was lucky that "my kids" didn't end up in the middle.
I clicked "Play Online Now" to get an image I could snip.

Check off the things that also interest you and see if we have a bingo.
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I do think that there is value in Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear, even though it doesn't work for me. It doesn't work for me on either end: I'm not much good at understanding strangers' intentions, and don't want to spend enough time and attention on strangers to get somewhat better. And I am good at attracting extra attention from security people, even though I don't intend to steal, smuggle, or damage anything. I don't know how much of that is racism, how much is missing communications cues because I'm partly deaf and have not much peripheral vision, especially on the same side as my deaf ear, and how much is behaving oddly because when I am in a crowd of strangers I am spending a lot of energy wishing that I were elsewhere, and hoping to escape with the least possible eye contact, talking, and being touched by strangers. But just by being myself I soak up enough security personnel attention that anyone who does want to steal, smuggle, or damage things should use me as a stalking horse.


Friday evening I was walking to the library with Aiko. I was on the north side of the street, heading east. I saw a couple walking toward me, but there was a break in traffic and I crossed the street before we met. On the south side of the street, Aiko was uneasy. He kept stopping and looking back. I looked back too, and saw the couple that had been on the north side of the street, going west, were now about half a block behind me, on the south side of the street, going east.

Well, people do change their minds and turn around. But Aiko would not settle down, so at the next street I turned south. The couple behind us also turned south, but I was on the east side of the street and they were on the west. I stopped and let Aiko sniff for a while, so I got to the next intersection after them. They crossed to the south side of that street. I did not. I turned east. They also turned east, and continued to walk about half a block behind me, on the other side of the street, for about seven blocks. Then we were in a well-populated area, and I didn't see them again.

I am a short fat old woman, and my hands were encumbered. I had library books in one hand, and a leash and a bag of dog poop in the other. But I was walking a German Shepherd! How did they plan to assault me without getting bit? Also without getting a bag of dog poop in the face? Though it was one of the good bags, and probably wouldn't have burst even if it had hit. Also, I didn't have any money on me, though they didn't know that. I was wearing a fanny pack, which is where my wallet would have been if I was wearing my wallet. I thought about taking my phone out and taking their picture, but they had dropped back far enough by the time I thought of it that it wouldn't have been much of a picture. The fanny pack has the kind of buckle that you squeeze to open. Probably they planned to run up beside me, grab the buckle, and run off with the fanny pack before Aiko could react. They would have got my phone and my housekeys, and could probably figure out where I live from the phone.

Anyway, I do think that there is observable, identifiable behavior that signals that one human being is looking at another human being as prey, and I think Aiko observed and correctly identified it.
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• What are you reading?

The Heiress Effect, by Courtney Milan.
The conceit of this book is brilliant. She has to stay single, for complicated family reasons, but her plan will stop working if she turns down any reasonable offer, so she has to make her person repellent enough to counterbalance the attraction of her considerable fortune -- without letting anyone see that she's doing it on purpose. I love it when the obstacles in a romance are not stupid! I love comedy of manners, when it puts extra constraints on the protagonist's solution space! Especially when the protagonist using a formidable intelligence and an immense amount of work to seem foolish and ineffectual!
I was disappointed that this book ignores the constraints that don't assist the story it wants to tell. (For example, these unmarried gentlewomen would not go to a dinner-party in a house without a hostess. One of them is accompanied by a chaperone, another is with her sister, and that is adequate for excursions in public places in daylight, but after dark, in a house full of young men -- no. It would not do.) These elements might not move the story forward directly, but they would do a lot to make the societal forces our heroes are working against seem powerful and real.

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer. DNF. It isn't a bad book, but the more I read of it the more I found myself resenting the idea that it would be one of the approximately 3000 new books I have time left to read. Its greatest appeal for me is how thoroughly Schumer fights against shame. Read for Tawanda book group.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I put a Climbing Mount TBR challenge on my Habitica To-Do list, but I'm not sure how to tackle it. Two of my book groups are on summer hiatus, so I have room to move. I like [personal profile] melannen's FMK polls, and I keep thinking I could do that too, but when I look at my shelves and ask, "Which of these are you going to read, really?" and "Which of these do you need to keep, really?" my answer is always, "All of them. All. Yes, even that one."

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