The prior office project is also finished now :P and won't look good till my hair is more heavily salted: undyed wool/alpaca grey-browns in a nifty gradient + chestnut with red tones = boring. *shrugs* The pattern is great, however: a shallow, asymmetrical shawl knitted in short diagonals. Unlike most of these yarn-club single-skein exercises, A+, would knit again.
My #SummerOfBasics idle daydream list, without buying yarn:
* Little Wave cardigan in progress
* ___Sand cardigan in progress (mine's not blue)
* Lena in "nutmeg"-colored yarn reclaimed from a failed shawl and/or Tegna in a lightweight green-grey
* Leigh in the repurposed purple wool/silk blend long allotted to it, though I see now that it'd be good only for chilly layering
...and then for next year, perhaps Summer in the "blue pine" Hempathy that never became something for Reason after her 3yo self snapped the yarn twice, and Noro Y839 skirt in yarn picked up when a shop closed a few years ago.
That said, I hope to finish the two cardigans and Reason's orange one, plus make my mother's gift by mid-fall. It'd be plenty.
Status: ___Sand's hem continues with pauses; now that those office projects have been polished off, the ghost shawl catches the pauses while my finger heals yet again. Here's ghost shawl in someone else's photo---blues are past, with the light/dark brown segment plus edging remaining. Baby hat is paused till my shoulder and wrist feel less aggrieved. Lately, joint woe tracks general inflammation evident in other ways, which still surprises me. I gather it's usual, generally.
This turns out to be purely decorative, and not after all a way of communicating with extra-terrestials
There's also a rather grand main building, with the Latin motto "QUAECUNQUE SUNT VERA" inscribed on the front. For this is a Christian foundation, as its English name (Tokyo Woman's Christian University) makes clear, even though the "Christian" bit is dropped in Japanese translation.
There are trees (木), groves (林) and woods (森) (who said that kanji were hard to learn?), and although these come with matching mosquitoes I think it's well worth it. It certainly doesn't feel like the middle of one of the world's great metropoles. In some ways it resembles my idea of an American liberal arts college, although before you use this as a reliable reference you should remember that my ideas of American liberal arts colleges derive entirely from having read The Secret History and Tam Lin. Unlike a typical liberal arts college, this university appears (as far as I can tell) not to be a hub for ritual murder, whether inspired by Dionysian frenzy or the need to pay a tithe to hell, and as far as I'm concerned this is a plus. On the contrary, they take rather paternalistic care of their students, locking the gates at 11pm each evening (though nothing as extreme as the broken glass and razor wire I saw surrounding the female dorms in a Christian university in Taiwan a few years ago). Even I, when I leave the campus, have to hand my key over the guards (there are usually at least two) and pick it up again on my return - perhaps five minutes later, after a dash to the combini. I'm not sure what purpose is served by this requirement, but the guards are always very cheerful and polite, so I can't resent it.
The area is neither central Tokyo nor the suburbs, but a sweet spot somewhere in between. Turning left from the main gate the streets are quiet, with houses, family restaurants, antique and bookshops. There are people milling about, but no sense of city hustle, and more bicycles than cars. Here it is at about 7pm on my first evening, with dusk already falling in the abrupt Asian manner:
In the other direction is fashionable Kichijouji, a far more bustling place, for shopping by day or eating by night. Here's where you need to go if you want to eat a curry doughnut, which I intend to do as soon as may be:
On my first full day in Japan, though, I contented myself with buying a yukata and all the trimmings - something I've wanted for a long time. I placed myself in the hands of a very friendly department store assistant, and luckily it was one of those days when my Japanese was flowing pretty well (it varies greatly). She walked me through the process of putting on the underdress, the yukata itself, the obi, the geta (alas! my feet are so large that I had to get men's ones), and then set me up with accessories - a flower for the hair, and of course one of those terribly useful baskets.
I hesitate to say how much all that cost, but suffice it to say that it sated my desire to shop for at least a day.
"They order these things better in Japan" Dept. A useful feature of Japanese supermarkets is that, rather than put the food into your shopping bags at the checkout, potentially holding up other customers as you do so, they provide tables where you can take your shopping basket/trolley after you've paid, and put things in bags at your leisure - rather like the tables in airport security where you can sort out your possessions after they've been through the scanner. A simple idea, but a good one - which I noticed only having held everyone up at the checkout putting things in bags, of course.
On the other hand, here at Toukyou Joshi Dai I seem to be a celebrity:
Let's hope I live up to the billing.
Our story so far:
PEOTUS was shot and assassinated on election night. Olivia Pope is on the case! So far she has accused three (3) people of ordering the killing, and been explicitly proved wrong about two (2). Meanwhile, the Electoral College is left to decide between the horrible, self-serving, politically-soulless VPEOTUS or the horrible, self-serving, politically-soulless runner-up ticket.
Episode 6 gives us campaign-era flashbacks of Olivia's dad reconnecting with an old girlfriend, who turns out to be a lure under the control of...someone.
Different flashback: Olivia asking her dad for advice on how to handle Mellie. Hey, remember when Olivia's dad orchestrated the murder of Mellie's son? (The grief put her for months into a near-suicidal depression.) I'm sure his advice will be great.
Olivia: "She's from California. Why don't they like her?" Dad: "I can't answer that." Ooh, ooh, pick me! Because Californians hate Republican policies, and she's a Republican!
They keep talking about "calling San Benito County" as if the voting within states is calculated the same as national voting, as if you're guaranteed a certain number of points (and no more) once you win a county. Even if Mellie got every vote in San Benito (pop. 58,000), that doesn't mean she couldn't fall behind once all the ballots are counted in San Mateo (765,000), or Contra Costa (11.13 million), or, I don't know, Los Angeles (10.2 million).
Dad Pope was behind the Vargas shooting! Although not on his own initiative, it was pushed by the Someones, who had the girlfriend hostage. And then they went to far in taunting Dad Pope about his compromising attachment to her, so he shot her in front of them. Good grief.
Episode 7 finds Olivia telling Huck to kill her father. For the second time. He helpfully reminds her that the first time didn't end well.
Huck confronts Dad on a subway platform, openly aiming a gun at him, and there's a lot of yelling, which echoes beautifully. For some reason there are zero other people on the platform, and nobody is concerned about metro security cameras capturing this shouted confession of killing Vargas.
Accusations of a mole in Olivia's company lead to Huck and Quinn aiming guns at each other's faces. What a team.
Investigation by Huck leads to him threatening his current girlfriend with a syringe of something nasty, all while going "this is hard for me, but you're making me do this!" Just in case you were starting to feel sympathetic toward him.
Olivia is back for the third time to accusing her dad of Vargas' murder, but she's passionately insisting that it was all his idea, based on the admittedly reasonable evidence that he murdered the girlfriend who was being used to manipulate him. Huck counters by passionately insisting that Dad Pope has changed because he was in love and now he's in pain and...listen, buddy, both him and you are still 100% willing to be violent-to-murderous the minute you feel threatened. You haven't changed, and people, especially women, should stay away from you.
(I would say "random civilian women," but this girlfriend turns out to have been planted to shoot a witness, which she gets away with because none of these geniuses thought to frisk her, and, wow, we are never going to get any case-of-the-week episodes this season, are we.)
The Someones got to Abby. That explains why she was pushing for Cyrus to get the death penalty ASAP, huh.
In flashback she asks Cyrus "how did you know Frankie was the one, how did you know he could go all the way?" We've seen this in The West Wing -- Josh asking Leo how he knew Bartlett was his guy, because Josh had found Santos and was starting to think Santos could be his guy. But Abby isn't thinking she's found a candidate -- she's thinking she could be the candidate.
Anyway, the Someones offered her $3 million with no paper trail and no explanation beyond "we like you and want to support your eventual candidacy." And she took it! What's next, Abby, sending the money to a the next Nigerian prince in your email?
So Huck's evil girlfriend shot the witness, and then shot him, but in a weird way that seemed designed to miss all vital organs. I figured she was deliberately not-killing him for some reason. (He was flat on the floor, she had lots of spare bullets, it's not like she could miss the heart and lungs.)
Then she sticks him in the trunk of a car and pushes it into a lake. Apparently she's just incompetent.
We get a nice hallucination-sequence where Huck is back in Pope HQ, with the mental images of his team members talking him through how to escape. And he does it! Not only did she not kill him, she didn't even shoot him hard enough for the blood loss to slow him down!
...setting aside that part of my disbelief, I do actually like the bit.
Hey, was anyone worried that there hadn't been enough graphic on-screen torture this season? Well, don't sweat it. Quinn's got you covered.
Olivia gets a pep-up talk about how she's a "miracle worker," from another of these people who hasn't seen the show. And sure enough, they find Huck -- by tracking the phone of the dead witness, which murder-girlfriend wasn't smart enough to chuck in a dumpster on her way to the body disposal! That's not you working a miracle, that's your opponent being a complete moron.
Gonna wrap up this post here, purely because my head hurts from hitting this desk so hard.
Dhalgren: Sunrise is comprised of bits of text from what I assume is Dhalgren the book, accompanied by dance, light, and music, almost all of it improvised. Also, some of the music was performed on imaginary instruments. "That must be a theremin!" I thought brightly to myself on seeing one of the instruments, mostly because I don't know what a theremin looks like and therefore I assume that any instrument I don't recognize is a theremin. But it turns out it was not a theremin, because there was a credit in the program for 'invented instruments,' though I don't know whether the one I saw was the Diddly Bow, the Bass Llamelophone, or the Autospring.
Anyway, so my new understanding of Dhalgren is that it is about a city in which Weird, Fraught and Inexplicable Things Are Happening. This is not a very thorough understanding, but it's still more of an understanding than I had before. The show is composed of seven scene-vignettes:
Prelude: A brief reading of [what I assume to be] the book's introduction.
Orchid: Three women dance on a bridge and a man acquires a prosthetic hand-weapon-implement. The director at the end gave special thanks to the dude who made it, understandably so, because it very effectively exuded Aura of Sinister!
Scorpions: Gang members dance and fight in front of a building? Alien gang members? Just aliens? Anyway, some entities wrapped in glowing lights have a dance fight in front of a building; the text is from the point of view of a worried inhabitant of the building who Has Concerns.
Moons: The moon has a new secondary moon friend named George. The dancing in this section was one of my favorite bits -- the Moon did some amazing things with her light-strung hula hoop. aamcnamara pointed out later that the narration in this bit, which featured a wry and dubious radio announcer, seemed like a perhaps-intentional echo of Welcome to Night Vale. I have never actually listened to Welcome to Night Vale, but from my cultural osmosis knowledge this seems about right.
Fire: The light show took front and center in this bit about everything being on fire and also, simultaneously, not on fire. The maintenance man doing the narration is very plaintive about all of this. There may also have been dancing in this bit but I don't remember what anyone was doing.
Sex: The guy with the sinister prosthesis has an intimate encounter with two other people inside a blanket fort. I always like the blanket-fort method of showing sex onstage, it hints appropriately while allowing actors not to have to do anything they're uncomfortable with. At some point in this process the sinister prosthesis is removed for the first time, which I expect symbolizes something about human connection.
Sunrise: The characters who have previously just had sex emerge from the building and now seem to have a difference of opinion about whether the sunrise is just normal, or whether the earth is actually falling into the sun. Eventually all the characters are onstage being distressed, along with the music and the lighting -- again, really cool light effects here, especially the final overwhelming projection of light followed by and darkness.
It's a one-hour show without intermission, which we all agreed afterwards was for the best; the deeply weird mood and atmosphere would have been difficult to slip back into if one could get up in the middle to go to the bathroom. For those of you who have actually read Dhalgren, I will leave you with aamcnamara's sum-up: "It was a strange experience, but honestly could have been stranger."
A friend asked me for this blog post, and I really haven’t been feeling the blogging lately, so here we go, a way into it by talking to a specific person.
A lot of people do pacing instinctively, sometimes synaesthetically. This is why you’ll hear metaphors like an unbalanced washing machine, a car with a flat tire–things where the rhythm is off, things where the story is going THUMPa THUMPa THUMPa. If you have that feeling for it, if you have that instinct, hurrah! Lucky you. If not, here are some other ways to spot broken pacing.
Ask an external reader. If they are bored in some sections, the pacing is probably breaking down. (Also boredom, who wants it.) Also, if they can spot the scenes that are the most important to the writer, that’s no good–obviously there will be things like the climax of the piece that are important scenes, but you don’t want to have a lot of scenes that are obviously un-important. If the reader feels like a scene doesn’t matter to you and they’re right, take it out and find another way to do the thing it’s doing. If they’re wrong and it really is important to you? Probably a pacing problem.
Track things! Track all the things. Okay, not all. But any of the things. Figure out what elements are showing up in each scene, what each scene is doing. You can do this with characters. You can do it with things like description/action/dialog balance. You can do it with objects that are touchstones to your plot. You can do it with locations. Anything you are wanting to pull through the book and balance, you can track, sometimes with color. Put it on notecards, print it out in tiny font and highlight it, just do a chapter list in a different file: who is in Chapter 1 with the protag(s). Who is in Chapter 2. Or: where does the Axe of Awesomeness show up first, where does it show up again, how long is it between spottings of the Major Macguffin. Has the reader had time to forget about it or think it is no longer important or get distracted by the Minor Macguffin. Has the Shiny Red Herring come up often enough? Track it in red to see where it is swimming. Is there a love story? If there is supposed to be a love story but you are not seeing Captain Swoonypants between Chapter 2 and Chapter 13, the pants: they will not be swooning. That is what we call a major sag in the pacing. (And/or in the pants.) Negative relationship stuff, too: that distance between a fight and the next appearance of the person fought with will mean that that relationship is not carrying a lot of tension. The pacing on it will sag. The reader will forget that they are supposed to care.
A thing that I said in the previous paragraph: figure out what each scene is doing. Not just one thing. If it’s just one thing, the pacing will sag and fall over. Do more. But also: when you revise, sometimes one of the things a scene used to be doing will change. If you rip out a subplot, remember to look at the scenes around the stuff you removed. It’s not just that you have to check to get the information redistributed. It’s that the beats also have to be redistributed. If that subplot contained the moments to breathe, your new pacing will be too frenetic. If that subplot contained mostly action and excitement, a hint of that needs to creep back into the new pacing. Pacing, sadly, is not just something you can do once and be done.
Stylistic and length changes. Word length, sentence length, paragraph length, chapter length. You can change these deliberately if you want to, but if you find you have subconsciously changed them without meaning to, you may be rushing a section or meandering through a section that will not feel integrated with the rest of the book and will nag at the reader–sometimes without them being able to spot why.
Note that you do not have to do length analysis on every element of every book every time. This is more a diagnostic for when something seems to not be working or if you consistently have problems than something every writer should do at every moment. In fact, all of this is in that category. If you’re finding that people are saying things you don’t really get about pacing, that something is not working and you don’t understand why, you can poke at these things (or at ideas people will offer in the comments, maybe!). But no writing tool is universal, this is not universal, and you should feel utterly free to not do any of this if you don’t need to and don’t feel like it.
I feel like I can’t stress enough in process posts that everybody works differently, because I hear enough conversation about “I heard one piece of advice and I thought I had to,” and seriously, no, you do not have to, you never have to. Do what works for you. Discard things that sound horrifying until/unless nothing else is working and you feel like it’s worth a shot. Try things that are exciting or weird, try things that feel like they’re fixing the problems you actually have, and don’t listen to me when you don’t feel like it. Okay? Okay.
Walked to coffeehouse and supermarket without excessive twinges. Ate an ice cream cone. Read a Gaiman-edited anthology.
Last night ate a Juicy Burger at an Annex institution, By the Way, still there after 40 years though the service is at least faster these days. Their Cosmopolitans are larger and cheaper than at my raucous regular, their burgers no more expensive and chips better, and their decor is infinitely preferable to Pauper's patterned carpet and booths and spots TV. By the Way redecorated recently and no longer have the dark wooden tables and chairs that hold some of my happier 90s and oughties memories- as seen here if you click enough- but the mural remains, with its portraits of bygone Toronto celebrities, seen to better advantage here. Afterwards I went and bought Holmes pastiche and Conan Doyle weird tales at BMV and it was all very time-travely to an early part of the decade that we are somehow in the last years of: and when did that happen?
As handful_ofdust says encouragingly, "One can try!"
I've learned that my short story "The Trinitite Golem" (Clockwork Phoenix #5) has received honorable mentions in both Gardner Dozois' The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fourth Annual Collection and Helen Marshall and Michael Kelly's The Year's Best Weird Fiction, Volume 4, neither of which I was expecting and both of which I am happy about.
Having been out of touch with Badass of the Week for some years, I am very grateful to have been pointed toward their entry for Joe Beyrle. "I shouldn't have to go around reminding you that 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off' is pretty much the only phrase in recorded history that Captain America, George S. Patton, and The Dead Kennedys have ever completely agreed upon without even the slightest bit of argument—so clearly there has to be something tangible behind that sentiment."
I don't know what you call this kind of photoset illustration of a piece of poetry, but I really like it.
That one KSR about how if you send a generation ship filled with the learnedly ignorant, colonization will surely fail aside, are there any SF novels recent enough to use the exoplanets we now know of as settings?
Just gonna jump right into the liveblogging on this one.
Season 2 episode 2 starts with a flashback to when Mellie accepted the Republican nomination, making it even harder to ignore how unrealistic it is that the Republican party would vote for a woman to get their nomination.
Olivia yells at Fitz for sending "scrubs" to investigate a crime scene. The actual FBI Director steps out and informs her that, no, he sent her to investigate the crime scene. (This director is a black woman with giant hair. I want to like her.)
Cyrus invites Mellie to join him as VP-elect. This is all so terribly incestuous. There's no discussion of what policy would be, because of course there isn't -- I'm not sure if Scandal buys into the fallacy that the two parties are Basically The Same, or if this is just a symptom of it not caring about government except as a dramatic backdrop for sexy power struggles.
Olivia has dinner with the FBI director with the hair. It starts as piercing commentary on the way they get treated, as competent black women in positions of power...and turns into Olivia asking if the director has a thing with Fitz. Turns out no, but not because it's a terrible idea for the head of the FBI to bang the President, it's just because she was worried about disrespecting Olivia.
At the same time as this is happening, Olivia's people are stealing evidence from the FBI, and the White House is having a "confession" tortured out of a suspect who's supposed to be under the FBI's purview.
(The evidence is a hard drive, which, when recovered, has "over 5,000 hours" on it. By my back-of-the-napkin calculations, that would fill 17.6 terabytes. On a laptop drive. As of 2017, if you're willing to shell out several thousand dollars, the most Amazon can get you is 4.)
...I got real worried because Olivia's next thing is to snap at the WH that forced confessions are worthless as intelligence. Which is absolutely true -- but the show has never seemed to realize that before, and also, it's 23 minutes into the episode. (Thankfully, the next one seems to be backing her up.)
Flashback to Mellie's romance with a campaign staffer, and, oh hey, it turns out Abby knows Olivia broke up her and David! (I don't remember if we knew this already, or if this is the dramatic reveal.) Flash-forward to Mellie confronting Olivia over orchestrating her breakup with the staffer. "Why are you doing this? What is wrong with you?!" Good question!
Episode 3 retcons the video data to "300 hours of [tip-giving videographer]'s footage, 2200 hours of the security feed." That would need less than 2 TB on the hard drive, which is more believable.
Portia di Rossi's character is back! And she's amazing. Partly because I can't help seeing her as Veronica, all charmingly ridiculous, meant to be judged by comedy standards rather than real-world ones.
This episode uses flashbacks to unveil that, yep, Cyrus isn't the murderer. I was definitely expecting that to be dragged out for longer. (There's a secret video of Frankie yelling at him for being a terrible person who should be in jail, and, look, he's not wrong, but for other reasons.)
Most obvious suspect is the hitman Cyrus was secretly having an affair with, because that's the kind of show this is. Flash-forward to the present, Cyrus secretly meets with the (armed!) ex-boyfriend at night in a park, because that's totally the kind of thing PEOTUS can do. Secret Service, what Secret Service?
Vengeful hitman ex throws a wrench in the works by "admitting" to killing Frankie on Cyrus's orders. This'll be fun.
Olivia: "With Cyrus in jail, the Electoral College will have no choice but to vote for you." Orrr they could vote for the runner-up in the Democratic primary. Without knowing anything specific about these people's policies, that seems like the most moral and honest choice re: the will of the voters.
Wow, almost nothing to say about episode 4. It's all Cyrus's Adventures in Jail. The narrative woobifies him hard, to the point where in spite of everything I actually feel bad for him by the third act. (Fourth act, he gets a guard murdered. So much for that.)
And episode 5 focuses on the drama around Jake Ballard -- Olivia's ex, former agent of Olivia's dad, now Mellie's VP candidate, in a politically-orchestrated marriage with a not!Kennedy who's now going into an alcohol-fueled emotional tailspin as she slowly realizes (a) Jake doesn't like her very much and (b) he's a terrible person.
(To illustrate: he seriously considers strangling her in order to keep the angsty tailspin from damaging his career.)
Newly revealed in flashback: Jake blew up the cabin that held the laptop that held the video that came from the photographer that called in the tip that swallowed the spider to catch the fly. Don't ask me why.
Olivia wrangles Mellie to have a heart-to-heart with the not!Kennedy wife, as part of the Women Whose Husbands Like Olivia Pope Better Club. This wrangles the wife back into urging Democrats to fall in line behind Jake's ticket, based on him being a Good and Honorable Person who married someone from Massachusetts. What policies does he support that they should appreciate? Ha. Aha. Ahaha.
Then she spends the rest of the episode trying to get proof that Jake did the murdering, which of course means he didn't do that, although she lets him drive her alone without her phone to an isolated location before she figures it out.
And, whoof, that's about all the Olivia Pope always-rightness I can take in one sitting. (Still working on commissions, but I'll have to switch to some other background TV for the rest.)