liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Apart from Arrival, I managed to find a bit more time over Christmas than usual to watch shows.

brief reviews, including very broad general spoilers for _Rogue One_ )

Also, Ghoti suggested that if she'd dragged me into watching Christmas movies, she should reciprocate by watching a chanukah movie with me. Which is a really sweet thought, but I'm not sure if there's such a thing as a chanukah movie! Does anyone have any suggestions? I mean, that whole New York Jewish custom of eating Chinese food and watching a movie on Christmas Day, is there any particular film that's traditional? Or failing that, perhaps a Jewish themed film (I thought of Yentl or maybe the film of Potok's The Chosen, which I haven't seen), or one that's about identity and resistance to assimilation and rebelling against an oppressive régime. Preferably not Holocaust-related, that really doesn't seem a suitable topic for a date movie. It did occur to me that Rogue One could be considered a pretty suitable thing to watch during chanukah, since it's about a miraculous victory for a no-hope strike against an oppressive empire...
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Recently read: I'm really impressed at people who were getting Yuletide recs out within a few days of the event!

fanfic and politics )

Currently reading: A journey to the end of the Millennium, by AB Yehoshua. I'm enjoying this, but with some caveats. It's subtitled A novel of the Middle Ages, but in many ways it's quite aggressively modern, and I think that is probably deliberate, but it's not the immersion in a different culture that I look for in historical novels.

I really like that it breaks the Eurocentric perspective of much of modern writing about the Middle Ages, it treats white Christians as this peculiar tribe eking out an existence in the barbarian lands of northern Europe, with the Jewish and Muslim viewpoint characters as the sophisticated travellers visiting these primitive lands and trying to avoid rousing the superstitious natives to violence. And within that, the plot about an African Jew who's completely bemused by this bizarre new German concept that marriage is supposed to be between one man and one woman. But the sexism and racism are twentieth century sexism and racism, projected back onto Ye Olden Dayes. The major female characters are nameless, just "The First Wife" and "The Second Wife," and the novel opens with a long and mostly pointless scene about the protag psyching himself up to satisfy both his wives in a single night. That's not, gender roles were different in the 10th century, that's exactly reproducing all the other litfic ever about middle-aged men angsting / fantasizing about their virility. Likewise the only Black character (though most of the main characters are not exactly white) is "the black slave" and seems to be very stereotyped, and again, it's modern racially essentialist stereotypes, nothing that feels authentically period.

I'm finding de Lange's translation a bit awkward. In some ways it's quite successful at conveying the feel of reading Hebrew, full of allusions to the scriptural language which is at the root of modern Ivrit, and it's poetic as I imagine Yehoshua's writing must be. But it's also quite intrusive, I don't want to be constantly feeling that I'm reading a translation. Never clunky, it's not over-literal to the point of being completely unidiomatic, but it's just distancing.

Up next: Surely Katy by Jacqueline Wilson, because I have been unknowingly waiting for this book for most of 30 years.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
So something is sending vast quantities of spam from my email address. Does anyone have any advice?

details )

Coincide

Jan. 6th, 2017 06:52 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
So this year chanukah started on Christmas Eve. babble )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently acquired: I did very well for books as presents for chanukah and Christmas and my birthday.

  • [personal profile] cjwatson gave me Meetings with remarkable manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel, because apparently my boyfriend pays attention to what sorts of things make me happy.
  • [personal profile] rmc28 gave me Rachel Manija Brown's ([personal profile] rachelmanija) memoir All the fishes come home to roost, plus Island below the star by James Rumford, a really gorgeous children's book about the discovery of Hawaii (since we've both been excited about Moana lately).
  • [livejournal.com profile] ghoti gave me Katy by Jacqueline Wilson, which is contemporary AU fixit fic for What Katy Did. I am unbelievably excited that this book exists!
  • [livejournal.com profile] ghoti also managed to find me Happy Hanukkah, Curious George by Emily Flaschner Meyer. Judith did an excellent job of reading the verses aloud to me on the first night of the festival – turns out that The Man with the Yellow Hat is Jewish.
  • I usually end up defaulting to books as Christmas presents, but this time I tried to be a bit more creative. I did get The Usborne Creative Writing Book by Louie Stowell for Judith, because I was impressed at how broad a scope it has, it's not just about how to write novel-like fiction stories, but includes journalism and blogging and script writing and is generally up to the high standard I remember from Usborne books when I was a kid.
  • I bought SPQR by Mary Beard for [livejournal.com profile] fivemack, but fortunately-unfortunately he's already read it, so I may have purloined the copy for myself.
  • I also bought a copy of one of my favourite books for [personal profile] rushthatspeaks, for [livejournal.com profile] ghoti's bookswap (which she fixed to be a straight exchange instead of a pyramid scheme.) Exactly which one I picked remains a secret until it arrives :-)


Recently read: The invisible library by Genevieve Cogman. (c) Genevieve Cogman 2015, Pub Tor 2015, ISBN 978-1-4472-5623-6. It's a fun and satisfying urban fantasy.

detailed review )

Currently reading: A journey to the end of the Millennium by AB Yehoshua. Found this in Camden market and couldn't quite resist it. It's written in 1999 and set in 999, which is perhaps a bit obvious, but I am enjoying Yehoshua's choice of a viewpoint character who is an African, polygamous Jewish merchant travelling to the backwaters of Northern Europe.

Up next: I am desperate to read Katy and I might well start it before I finish the Yehoshua, which is lush and poetic and slow.

(Have plenty to post about, since I've been almost non-stop busy since about 23rd December, plus I want to look back on 2016 and forward to the new year, but let's start up posting again with a Reading Wednesday.)
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
Reason for watching it: I was completely fascinated by the idea of a film of the marvellous Ted Chiang short Story of your life. I started out thinking the film probably wouldn't do it justice but wanted to see it anyway. And then lots of people started posting really positive reviews of it, which made me even more excited to see it. Not to mention lots of articles about constructing the alien language made it seem even more intriguing.

Circumstances of watching it: [personal profile] jack and I managed to catch about the last showing before everything is taken over by the new Star Wars. We had an early dinner in the somewhat fancy Chinese place, Orchid, mainly because it's close to the cinema. Things I like about Orchid: the ambience, which is very calm and feels much more relaxingly atmospheric than many anglo-Chinese restaurants. The way they have fancy teas as well as fancy wines (for about the same sort of price range.) The amazing grilled aubergines which are like a kind of vegetarian steak. Things I am not so keen on: they have a bad habit of putting shellfish in the dishes labelled vegetarian, and there's little choice of actually veggie food. And they're a bit overpriced, we ended up spending about £30 a head, which isn't ridiculous but there are quite a few places locally when you can get a good meal for quite a bit less than that.

Then we saw our film at the Vue in the Grafton Centre. I'm not a huge fan of this new system where they're trying to encourage people to shell out for cinema tickets by providing fancy reclining seats for everybody, since my legs are too short to sit comfortably in a huge chair, I felt as if I were stuck in a kind of padded bucket. Anyway, I'm really glad I got to see the film as part of a proper date with [personal profile] jack, we so rarely get to have an evening out together like that.

Verdict: Arrival is really lovely thinky SF with brilliant aliens.

detailed review, some spoilers )

So yes, I really enjoyed that film, it was very much what I was hoping for and I'm really glad I got to see it.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[livejournal.com profile] ghoti found a cool toy that tries to make inferences about what kinds of games you like. It seems to be reasonably competent, based on meaningful questions and using statistical analysis of a few tens of thousands of people, not just a near-random internet clickbait quiz.

who doesn't love quizzes? )

Anyway, feel free to have a go if you like this kind of quiz. You can compare your recs to mine, if you're so inclined; I didn't find any overlap between my recommended games and [livejournal.com profile] ghoti's, and we certainly do have a number of games we both enjoy. I think Takenoko is probably about the exact sweet spot between her sort of game and mine, but we've also been playing quite a lot of Castles of Burgundy and recently rediscovered Targi.
liv: Cartoon of a smiling woman with a long plait, teaching about p53 (teacher)
I must say I really like teaching the Tumblr generation. They get a lot of flack from older pundits for caring too much about social justice and identity politics, but I just find it really refreshing working with people half my age who take gender and sexual diversity completely for granted, and have a sophisticated analysis of racism, and are constantly asking for the curriculum to be more globalized and more diverse.

recent examples )

Update

Dec. 14th, 2016 09:14 pm
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
I'm really enjoying the resurgence of people doing little potted summaries of what goes on in their day-to-day lives, so I think I might give that a go.

stuff ) Anyway, term ends Friday, I'm heading back to Cambridge for a full three week block, and I am looking forward to Blue Christmas and Christmas and Chanukah and just relaxing with my people without any more travelling for a while.

Film: Moana

Dec. 8th, 2016 08:41 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: It had sounded really intriguing from when it first started being talked about, and Ghoti in particular really wanted to see it.

Circumstances of watching it: Ghoti actually managed to find a time when everybody was free, so the whole quad and the younger kids and [livejournal.com profile] fivemack all went to the Light cinema together Sunday afternoon. It was a bit annoying because I had to rush away straight after the film ended to travel back to Keele, and couldn't discuss it with everybody, but still such a great treat!

Verdict: Moana is just delightful!

detailed review )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie; (c) Ann Leckie 2014; Pub Orbit 2014; ISBN 978-0-356-50241-0.

detailed review, with allusions to spoilers )

Currently reading: In a time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor, sort of, though really I haven't picked up anything new since I finished AS yesterday.

Up next: I so much want to spend time in Breq's viewpoint that I am tempted to break my usual rule and go straight on to Ancillary Mercy. (Side-note: I don't understand why books two and three are named this way round, since most of the plot of Ancillary Sword takes place on a Mercy. But hey.)

Climbing

Nov. 21st, 2016 10:16 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
So my OSOs' middle kid is about to turn 8 and she very emphatically wanted to continue the nascent tradition from last year that I'd take her out for a treat rather than giving her a physical present. There's lots of evidence that people (above a minimum subsistence level) get more out of experiences and spending time with loved ones than physical objects, but I'm surprised to find a small child who can resist the short-term gratification of a gift enough to be clear on that! Plus extremely flattered that she considers my company enjoyable enough to constitute a birthday treat. It's true that as long as she's known me I've been kind of useless with children as such, and she knows I love her and mean well anyway, and we've gradually built up our own ways to interact.

When the new child friendly climbing centre opened a few months before her birthday, the choice of treat was obvious. experience )

Causes

Nov. 17th, 2016 05:52 pm
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
My dear dear friend [personal profile] hatam_soferet is getting married today. In honour of this wonderful occasion, I have made a small donation to the American Civil Liberties Union.

more about charity giving )

I am not writing this post to show off what a great person I am; I am sure many of you give way more to charity than I do or contribute directly in ways other than financial. I'm thinking of doing the latter too but it's going to take some medium-term arranging my life to make happen. I'm writing to encourage discussion, to let people know about Thousand 4 £1000, and to offer a kind of minimal solidarity. I've definitely had thoughts about needing to hoard up all my spare money as an escape fund, but eventually decided that doesn't really make sense, I'm not eating into my savings to an extent that's going to make a difference to whether I can get out or not. And seeing other people talking about their giving as a response to bad political news has been comforting to me, so I wanted to pay it forward.

And most importantly, congratulations to [personal profile] hatam_soferet and about-to-be husband. I wish you many years of supportive partnership and domestic bliss, and I'm sending very, very much love along with the donation in your names.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Don't use that tone of voice with me, internet friends

This one is from ages ago, partly because I'm not ready to post election reaction linkspams yet (and I may never be, I'm watching this from a distance). And partly because it was posted on Imzy and Imzy has only recently launched publicly, making it possible to link to content there. (It's still horrible low contrast and otherwise unreadable; for this essay it's well worth a workround like copying the text into a text editor, if you can.) I'd previously encountered Sciatrix as an extremely brilliant commenter on the kinds of forums that have weighty, thinky comments, like MeFi. And the Imzy platform has finally tempted her to make her own blog, which is awesome. I was extremely pleased to discover that she sometimes lurks on this DW, too.

Anyway, Sciatrix talks about tone of voice in plain text and in contemporary internet subcultures, and segues nicely into the psychology of criticizing people without making them defensive, and the tone policing / callout-culture issues that are such a live wire right now... on reflection, this is perhaps not a totally unpolitical link.

Currently reading: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. I'm a few chapters in and loving it just as much as I expected from Ancillary Justice.

Up next: If I'm feeling brave enough, I think I might try Umberto Eco's fictional history of antisemitism The Prague Cemetery, which has been on my to-read pile for some years and feels quite timely now.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
My wonderful girlfriend made a romantic dinner just for us, basically taking lots of food that I really like such as mushrooms, parsnip, chestnuts and making them into really exciting dishes. And she made me these amazing quilted coasters with teacups on them, having never done quilting before. So my anniversary present to celebrate two years together was something she made based on her major talent, and something she made based on learning a completely new skill. I feel so incredibly loved!

[livejournal.com profile] ghoti also posted one of those memes where you shuffle your entire music library and use it as a kind of mini-oracle. I had a go at it and got nothing very striking, but passing on memes is fun, so:

asking shuffle gets strange answers )
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
So the Progressive Rabbinical training college runs a bunch of short courses for lay people, which they call Lehrhaus modelled after the Jewish educational institutions in Germany before WWII. This year they've decided to experiment with putting a couple of their courses online, and since I'm in a perpetual state of being starved of Jewish learning because I can't get to London regularly, I wanted to encourage this initiative. I signed up for four sessions on The origins of Jewish mysticism with Dr Damsma.

They asked that we don't share course materials on the internet, so I'm going to talk about it in fairly general terms. learning )

So, definitely learned something, definitely enjoyed getting my teeth into some study beyond just a one-off shiur. I feel I've mainly mapped out a few more areas of my ignorance, though.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Let's pretend it's just a normal Wednesday, shall we?

reading log )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: [personal profile] forestofglory is brilliant at recommending short SFF; via her post I found A good home by Karin Lowachee. I've had Lowachee on my radar for a while but haven't been able to find Warchild in a reasonable format, so I'm excited to read this short. It didn't perfectly work for me but I'm an easy sell on humans forming emotional bonds with androids (after all that Asimov and Star Trek in my childhood.)

Currently reading: Sisterhood by Penelope Friday. I am happy to enjoy the sex scenes, the miscommunication, and the external conflict that fit the genre, but with lesbian and wlw characters. I like that the miscommunication is realistic and doesn't rely on characters being gratuitously stupid, and that the conflict comes not from the fact that the relationships are between women, but that the heroine's gf is an abolitionist and her brother-in-law on whom she's financially dependent is involved in the slave trade.

Up next: I think I might ask to borrow back the copy of The secrets of enduring love by Meg-John Barker, which I gave to my partners collectively for Valentine's Day. Since today is two years since I got together with [personal profile] cjwatson and tomorrow will be two years with [livejournal.com profile] ghoti. I'm still head-over-heels in love and far too excited for two years in, but we are definitely starting to have more of the sort of conversations that people in long term relationships have. And I'm hoping this will be a long term relationship, so it feels the right time to read up on how to have strong long-lasting relationships from a guide that doesn't assume monogamous and heteronormative.

I've always said that my general happiness isn't about whether I have a partner or not, but these two years I've felt... I think the word is fulfilled, a sort of deeply contented that isn't exactly the emotion of happiness. I feel really rooted in this little network of relationships.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] rmc28's review inspired [personal profile] jack to ask me if I wanted to see In The Heights, the "other" Lin Manuel Miranda piece that's playing in the King's Cross Theatre currently. I said, in principle, sure, but when are we ever going to find time to go to the theatre? And then I remembered that we actually had a free evening this Saturday, so we were able to be much more spontaneous than we usually ever are, and booked tickets and turned up.

show )

We had a pretty quiet day most of yesterday, until OSOs joined us for tea and then a lovely group of our friends came over for a Halloween party. Andreas had lots of fun putting up Halloween decorations but ducked out of the actual socializing with lots of not very familiar adults part. And Judith persuaded several of us into a long game of Zendo, which she is getting very good at. It wasn't a huge party but it was a great mix of poly friends and geek friends, very congenial and with some really great Halloween costumes. I dressed up as Candela, the Pokémon Go Team Valor leader, to match the children's Pikachu and Dawn-from-the-animé costumes. And Jack was Aang from Avatar: the last Airbender, and Ghoti was, aaargh, Nanowrimo is about to start! Really good to be able to have a fairly low-key party on a Sunday evening.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
So my link to Ann Leckie's piece on liking things that are in some sense not "good" has lead to a really interesting discussion. I'd like to pull up some of my thoughts here, and separate the abstract underpinnings out from discussing the Hugo slates, which was one of the examples given.

amateur philosophy )

I slightly have the feeling that I'm rehashing Plato here, but there are worse things.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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