Journal of No. 118

February 26th, 2015

Hollywood Bowl Season @ 04:15 pm

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Here's the whole schedule.

I'm just jotting down a few of interest to me. Alas, Basement Jaxx & Bootsy Collins is while we're in France.

Tuesday July 14: All Rachmaninoff

Thursday July 16: All Beethoven

T/TH July 21/23: Carmina Burana

F/S July 24/25: Tchaikovsky & Fireworks

F/S/S July 31/32/33: SPAMALOT ('All-star cast to be announced')

F/S Aug 14/15: Bugs Bunny at the Bowl (including the world 'orchestral' premiere of Long-Haired Hare, set at the Bowl ("Leopold! Leopold!"))

Tu Aug 18: 2001: A Space Odyssey, with live accompaniment.

February 21st, 2015

Is that some kind of Eastern thing? @ 03:11 pm

Sometimes you eat the bar, and... well, sometimes the bar eats you.


February 17th, 2015

The Family Fang, by Kevin Wilson @ 01:34 pm

The family that creates performance art together, breaks apart together. Wait, that sorta rhymes, but doesn't quite work.

The Fangs, mother and father, are somewhat extreme performance artists, and they get their son and daughter involved in the act. Probably the most fun the author had was coming up with performance art ideas that are one giant leap beyond sensible. Unfortunately, some of them are zany enough that it's hard to take seriously. The novel leaps back and forth, primarily between artworks involving their children -- indeed, shamelessly exploiting their children -- and many years later, when the children have grown up and left home, left performance art (happily) behind, and are trying to deal with forging their own lives in the shadow of their parents, who always prioritized art over family. A good mix of funny and serious, and the novel made its way onto a fair number of top ten lists for 2011, and will soon(?) be making its way to theaters near you.

Probably because I've known a few Fangs, my initial mental image of the family was Asian American, though the context of the novel slowly eroded this. Sort of a peculiar feeling.

BookChallenge scorecard:

became a movie (soon)
written by someone under 30 (close, 32)
funny book
with a love triangle (maybe?)
by an author you've never read

February 14th, 2015

Xmaholisolstizaah cards @ 03:39 pm

An incomplete, long-delayed compilation of our Xmaholisolstizaah cards over the years.


February 10th, 2015

Agenda 21 @ 04:50 pm

We were walking around the neighborhood, when a young guy on a bike slowly catches us up and starts talking at us. The conversation was odd from the get-go, and got odder. He was not satisfied with our explanation that we were taking a walk, and said something like...

"Oh, I know what's going on. This is some Agenda 21 action."

"Uh, no we're taking a walk."

"Yeah, Agenda 21. I have a well over 200 IQ and know what's going on. Where are your notebooks? Aren't you taking notes?"

"No, we're taking a walk."

With some last words about how we were carpetbaggers, he drifted down a different street.

Agenda 21 is "non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development", but it has turned into some sort of (largely rightwing) conspiracy about how the UN is going to take over America. But there's also Democrats Against Agenda 21.

Although, you have to admit, they may be on to something here:
Bicycle advocacy groups are very powerful now. Advocacy. A fancy word for lobbying, influencing, and maybe strong-arming the public and politicians. What's the conection with bike groups? National groups such as Complete Streets, Thunderhead Alliance, and others, have training programs teaching their members how to pressure for redevelopment, and training candidates for office. It's not just about bike lanes, it's about remaking cities and rural areas to the 'sustainable model'. High density urban development without parking for cars is the goal. This means that whole towns need to be demolished and rebuilt in the image of sustainable development. Bike groups are being used as the 'shock troops' for this plan.

It certainly does seem like Washington is in the pocket of Big Bike.

February 4th, 2015

2015 Book Challenge @ 05:07 pm

A few of us on Goodreads are working on the challenge. If you're on Goodreads, do consider asking to join up. I'm just leaving this here so I can check off the things I've ticked off the list.

500+ pages (close - The Algebraist was 434)
classic romance
✓became a movie (Family Fang is shooting)
published this year
with a number in the title
written by someone under 30
✓with nonhuman characters
✓funny book
✓female author
mystery or thriller
one-word title
✓book of short stories
✓set in a different country
A popular author's first book
✓from an author you love that you haven't read yet
recommended by a friend
Pulitzer Prize-winning
based on a true story
at the bottom of your to-read list
a book your mom loves
book that scares you
more than 100 years old
'based entirely on its cover'
supposed to read in school but didn't
A memoir
book you can finish in a day
book with antonyms in the title
✓set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
came out the year you were born
with bad reviews
a trilogy
from your childhood
✓with a love triangle
✓set in the future
set in high school
with a color in the title
made you cry
✓with magic [Clarke's Law!]
graphic novel
✓by an author you've never read
✓'a book you own but have never read' (I think - I mean what does that mean? If you buy a book and haven't yet read it, then when you read it, it's a book you own but have never read?)
takes place in your hometown
originally written in another language
set during Christmas
written by an author with your initials
A play
A banned book
Based on or turned into a TV show
Book you started but never finished

The Algebraist, by Iain M. Banks @ 04:40 pm

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The Algebraist is not a Culture novel, but it's sort of Culture-adjacent. Some particular differences are that there is a more structured government, and AIs are banned as abominations.

A mustache-twirlingly evil (and fortunately seldom on-stage) invader is leading a force into a star system, and the system has to prepare in various ways for it, including chasing after a probably mythical MacGuffin that was learned of, almost by accident, in a conversation with a representative of the gas giant-dwelling ancient species in the system. On the smaller scale, four friends go on a little exploration, and one dies. The remaining three bump into each other over the ensuing years, dealing with the overall situation and their interpersonal relationships. Sex, violence, a little puzzle, some whiz-bangery... it's a pretty satisfying mix, but I'm a little surprised it got a Hugo nod (though I certainly enjoyed it more than the winner, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell).

January 27th, 2015

These pixels are not succumbing to my seduction @ 04:58 pm

So I jumped into the Dragon Age franchise with Inquisition. The developer, BioWare, has been applauded in the past for allowing queer relationships, and "romance arcs will occur in reaction to events and variables specific to each character and include sex scenes". Woohoo!

But it turns out that, although the player can be a bisexual horndog [well, obviously, the player can be anything (and probably is) -- I mean the character the player plays] the sexable characters have their own preferences (and why shouldn't they?). And having now peeked at the hints from the nerds that have sexed all the pixels, it turns out I've been barking up all the wrong trees. And these replicants just don't have any convenient Chasing Amy programming.

And fuck you, Cullen. You like women, but not dwarven women? Just because we're small doesn't mean we don't have a lot of love to give.

*cries onto her little dwarven rock-pillow after a long day of slaughtering heretics and getting friendzoned*

January 21st, 2015

January 19th, 2015

The First Word, by Christine Kenneally - MLK Day @ 03:34 pm

The Search for the Origins of Language

Like my search for a book about the origins of music, it seems my search for one about the origin of language may be long and difficult. Because this one was not fully satisfying. It started well, but the last half was tedious and uninformative. But you will, no doubt, be delighted to know that I took copious Kindle notes (in the interesting first half).

For me, this part of the story began in an introductory linguistics lecture in the early 1990s at the University of Melbourne. I can clearly remember my frustration when, after asking the lecturer about the origin of language, I was told that linguists don’t explore this topic: we don’t ask the question, because there is no definitive way to answer it.
The explanation given to me in a lecture hall in late-twentieth-century Australia had been handed down from teacher to student for the most part unchallenged since 1866, when the Société de Linguistique of Paris declared a moratorium on the topic.

words, words, wordsCollapse )

Journal of No. 118