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As the "reblogging" culture of Tumblr becomes more pervasive, I thought I'd better make it clear what I'm okay with you doing with my public posts. Everything listed here is in addition to commenting on my journal, which is always welcome.

All of these permissions extend only to noncommercial use of my content. You may not use any of my content for commercial purposes.


My Fanfiction

YOU MAY: Write remixes, sequels, prequels, responses, or whatever. Make art or illustrations. Review, recommend, discuss, and link to fics. Translate a story or record a podcast of it so long as you let me know and give me appropriate credit as the author. Print or save copies (please make sure my name is attached as author).

YOU MAY NOT: Add my story to any archive without my permission. Repost any story in its entirely on your own journal, blog, or Tumblr even if you credit me.


My Nonfiction Public Posts

YOU MAY: Link, discuss, write response or follow-up posts on your own journal, blog, or Tumblr. Quote portions of my post(s) as needed.

YOU MAY NOT: Repost any post in its entirety on your own journal, blog, or Tumblr even if you credit me.



If you have any questions, just drop me a line here or PM me.



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master list of my fiction

This list includes all of my posted fanfiction, except for unfinished things and a few short pieces that I never even gave titles to. All my stories on LJ are also tagged; see the "fic" tags on my sidebar.

Within each category, stories are listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent at the top. I've included only the title and main characters here; see the header of each story for rating, any warnings, etc. Generally speaking, the first character listed is the POV character.

Please let me know if there are any problems with these links.

2013 Addendum: This post is no longer being updated. All of my newer stories and most of my old ones can be found at An Archive of Our Own, which has handy search features. They're also here on LJ and you can find them using my tags.


Blake"s 7Collapse )

Buffy the Vampire SlayerCollapse )

DiscworldCollapse )

Doctor WhoCollapse )

due SouthCollapse )

Harry PotterCollapse )

Simon Pegg and/or Nick Frost fandomsCollapse )

TintinCollapse )

time flies

My week of internet access ends in a couple of hours, so this is my "goodbye for now" post.

1) Fannishness

Still ridiculously obsessed with Kingsman, although it's not a good movie and the fandom is pretty much only interested in the schmoop (is that still a word people use) and the porn. Apparently Colin Firth + suits + spying + gentlemanliness = my kryptonite.


2) Reading

Still haven't started the Welcome to Night Vale novel.

I have read Kate Atkinson's Case Histories, the first in a short series of crime novels featuring ex-cop Jackson Brodie. It's a well-written, well constructed book, which I'd place in the nebulous borderland between mystery fiction and mimetic mainstream fiction (hence my calling it a crime novel rather than a mystery novel). It's a bit grim, as you'd expect from a book focusing on murdered girls (both little girls and teenagers), and I'm not sure if I was meant to dislike Jackson Brodie (a straight, rather bitterly divorced, fairly homophobic, middle-aged white guy with a fixation on masculinity) as much as I did. The supporting cast is more interesting and appealing.


3) Cooking

Not a lot. It's turned quite hot here and using the stove or oven doesn't appeal much. I do want to try making little mini-pies (baked in a muffin/cupcake pan) if I can ever bear the thought of baking. And I've got some chicken thawing in the fridge for chicken with olives and preserved lemon, a delicious dish I never seem to cook more than once or twice a year, even though it's not difficult.


And now I think I want to go lie down, turn the fan on, and read some more. This is Day 1 of a three-day weekend for me, which I'm extra happy about because prior to this I only had two days off work in the last seventeen. Laziness ahoy!

*waves goodbye*



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temporarily around

On Friday, having just been paid, I gave in to my craving for proper internet access and bought a week's worth. So I'll be around for a bit.

I posted here about the movie Kingsman and am still hoping more people will want to talk about it, because I appear to be obsessed but the fandom itself is, well, not interested in the aspects I'm interested in.

And on other fronts:

1) Reading

Somewhat to my surprise, given that it's a YA-marketed book about a girl who's half dragon, I very much enjoyed Rachel Hartman's Seraphina and its sequel Shadow Scale. These are smart, well-thought-out, morally complicated books, with interesting characters and worldbuilding. There's a het romance for the protagonist, but it's never the main focus, and the way it's handled (with the two lovers showing consideration and care for other people as well as each other) is refreshingly, well, adult. And there are a variety of queer characters. At times it felt the book was trying very very hard to be inclusive (Hartman creates a culture where the first thing you ask a stranger is "how may I pronoun you?"), but that's vastly better than all those Worlds Without Queer People out there, and I guess it only feels slightly forced because our own world is so bad about that stuff.

The most recent book I finished was Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memory, a sort of steampunk western. I'm not a Bear fan, particularly, and I grabbed it from the library thinking I would probably hate it but hey, it's not like I'm spending money. To my surprise, I did like it, especially the first half (the second half, and in particular the last fifty pages, tried to cram in too much action and threw the story out of balance). I think it helped that the protagonist is a woman; part of what's put me off other Bear books is that I've read the ones with queer male main characters, and so far I've found the way she writes queer men to be kind of . . . condescending? Not quite Tragic Queerness, but close, and off in a way I can't put my finger on more specifically. Anyway, I didn't sense that at all with Karen, who is also queer. The romantic subplot was well-done, but I liked that the book is an adventure story with romance, not a romance story. I also enjoyed the setting, a Seattle-ish city in the late 1870s that mostly exists to supply and transport miners heading to Alaska. It's the west, but it's not the mesas-and-gunfights west that's so overdone.

Finally, at work I picked up an Advance Readers' Copy of Welcome to Night Vale, the forthcoming novel. That's my planned next read. I haven't listened to the show in a while, because after the Strex Corp arc, which I loved, I got bored by the return to randomly creepy business-as-usual. But I'm curious to see what Fink and Cranor can do with a (presumably) more structured narative.


2) Cooking

I'm still on my Mediterranean kick, which has caused unprecedented levels of salad-eating. Recently I made a delicious Radish and Fava Bean SaladCollapse )

Mostly these days I feel like I want to cook all the food in all the Ottolenghi/Ottolenghi & Tamimi cookbooks, forever. Their recipes are interesting without being recherché, cheffy, or even very complicated; there's something of the down-to-earth perspective I like in Nigella Lawson, but without Lawson's occasional tendency towards too many shortcuts. I feel . . . almost fannish about their books? It doesn't hurt that they're two very attractive gay men, either.



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Kingsman

Kingsman just came out on DVD here in the US, so I finally got a chance to watch it.

do your secret-agent knock here to read more, including MAJOR spoilersCollapse )



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the occasional update

My life is still boring!

1) Reading

I ended up liking Reif Larsen's I Am Radar quite a lot, because it turned out not to be so desperately pretentious as its summary makes it sound. On the other hand, it's not nearly as deep as it wants to be or as its reviews make it sound. It gestures towards a lot of ideas that never quite coalesce; it also suffers from the main protagonist, whose story is supposed to tie all the rest together, being a deeply uninteresting straight-white-nerd-guy whose supposed growth during the narrative doesn't compel or even ring true. The secondary characters, however, are all much better and their stories, which take up a large chunk of the book, are mostly why I liked it.

I gave up on Hanif Kureishi's The Last Word after about ten pages, upon realizing that I did not give a damn about any of these people and couldn't bear another hundred pages in their company. I get the impression the book has garnered a reputation for audacity, perhaps because the antagonist is a lightly disguised avatar of Salman Rushdie, but I think unless you approach it from the position that saying Rushdie is an overrated jerk is shocking, there's nothing interesting here.

As always, I've had much more fun with genre fiction. graculus recced me Max Gladstone's Craft sequence (Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, and Full Fathom Five), and they're pretty great. The worldbuilding is deliciously deep, but here's the basic premise: gods exist, but some human beings have learned the Craft (which is magic, only both magic and divinity work essentially by contracts and have a strong legal component), which has allowed some people in some places to defeat their local gods. Sometimes this is a good thing, but not always/necessarily, and in any case it always creates new problems. Each of the three books has a different protagonist and is set in a different place, so the worldbuilding continues to be rich and juicy throughout. One thing I love about these is that the setting is recognizably modern despite the magic (there are corporations, lawyers, a global economy) and not some vaguely-imagined Middle Ages. Plus the stories are gripping, the prose is very good, and the characterization's strong. As a bonus, there are a lot of well-written women characters (including the protagonists of two of the books), many people of color including most of the main characters (the protagonist of Two Serpents Rising is whitewashed on the cover, but he's not white), and several queer characters (none in the first book, but the second and third make up for it). I recommend these highly.


2) Listening

I've discovered BBC radio's In Our Time podcasts, and now I know what I'm doing for the next year or so. These are roughly 45-minute discussions on various topics, with genuine major scholars in the field, geared towards the layperson who may not have much background. Since I'm at least mildly interested in almost everything, these are catnip to me. I've recently listened to episodes about the Aztecs, the samurai, the Nicene Creed, the Cambrian explosion, and the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and I just downloaded a ton more.


Cooking:

Nothing very interesting. I've been eating a lot of pasta + vegetables, couscous + vegetables, and that sort of thing. I've been trying not to do much new baking because I still have brownies and rugelach in the freezer, though I did make a peach crisp because I had rapidly-ripening peaches and was too lazy to make a proper crust. (I should have made the crust.)



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still rainy

Hello again! I notice that in my last post, made almost a week ago, I mentioned that it was raining here. Well, it's been rainy and cool almost every day since then, which is really really weird. But nice in a lot of ways--the longer the summer heat holds off, the happier I'll be.

As usual I have been reading and cooking, and also re-watching a lot of Person of Interest (the first two seasons really were much better than S4, although some of that original magic depended on the slow reveal of backstory, which is something that's hard to recapture the second time around when you already know).

Reading: I've just started I am Radar, by Reif Larsen. It's too early to tell if all the weirdness is going to turn out to be interesting or just pretentious.

I've checked out from the library but not yet started Hanif Kureishi's The Last Word. This despite having given up on Kureishi after Intimacy, when it began to seem as though he'd forgotten how to write books that weren't about middle-class white heterosexuals having boring personal problems. The back cover description for The Last Word sounded different enough from that to lure me, plus, well, My Beautiful Laundrette will always be close to my heart and I can never really give up on Kureishi.

I want to read some sf/f but can't find anything that appeals. Anyone have suggestions? I've already read the Radch books and Station Eleven.

Related to both books and cooking, I had to give Jerusalem: A Cookbook back to the library (someone had put a hold on it) and I miss it very much. When I can check it out again I'm going to type out all the interesting recipes and save them. (This is a thing I do, because my appetite for cookbooks is much larger than my budget for cookbooks.)


Cooking:

I have successfully made my own yogurt! Quite easy and a moneysaver.

Last week apricots were on sale for cheap, so I bought a couple of pounds. With some of them I baked this crostata, which is very nice. Because I'm an incorrigible tinkerer I made a couple of alterations: added lemon zest to the crust and lemon juice and a bit of vanilla to the fruit, and because I don't have whole wheat pastry flour I used half pastry flour and half "white whole wheat" flour. I'd never made a crostata before but I think this may be the first of many: it's less intimidating than a pie, somehow, and it produces an amount that's more reasonable for one person to eat in a few days before it can go bad.

The rest of the apricots, I poached in syrup, and those were awfully good for practically no work. I made a simple syrup with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water, to which I added 3 Tellicherry peppercorns, 2 crushed cardamom pods, and 1 star anise. I brought the syrup to a boil and then let it cool down to room temperature to infuse the spices, then added the halved pitted apriots and heated it all up again. The spicing is gentle but definitely there, and that plus the sweetness gave the rather bland supermarket apricots a big boost. It turns out that the leftover syrup makes a nice drink if mixed with sparkling water, too.


I've now succeeded in making myself hungry, so I should probably go home and get some dinner.



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Lewis box set for sale

Anybody want to buy a DVD box set of Lewis, aka Inspector Lewis, complete through S6? It's this one, which has the PBS logo and stuff but includes the original full-length episodes as they were aired in Britain. It's in excellent condition and is Region 1.

I'm asking $50 US plus $5 for shipping in the US. If you want it shipped elsewhere I'm willing to do that, but I'll have to research the shipping cost and let you know.

Reply if you're interested; comments are screened. Please be aware that I have limited internet access and can't check for replies every day, so it may be a few days before you hear back from me.



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various

It's a rainy day here, which is unusual enough to be enjoyable. I'm in Starbucks again, drinking tea, watching the rain, and wishing I didn't have to go to work later.

1) Books

I just found out that Ruth Rendell died. She and Reginald Hill (who died last year) were my two favorite mystery writers, and among my favorite contemporary writers full stop. It's sad to lose them, although both had long careers and lived to a good age.

I've been reading various things:

Ann Leckie's Ancillary Sword (enjoyable and I'm eager to see where the plot is going, although AS had less depth than the first book).

Bruce Holsinger's A Burnable Book and The Invention of Fire (liked the first one very much, as I am a sucker for proper research and Holsinger, a professional medieval scholar, has definitely done that; the second one was less interesting, rescinded the happyish ending given to my favorite character in the first book for the sake of a minor plot point, and--which isn't really the book's fault--inevitably called to mind comparisons to Terry Pratchett's Men At Arms, which while not really fair, are nevertheless not always to Holsinger's advantage).

Radley Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces (important, timely, marred perhaps by being a bit too long on journalism and short on analysis, marred definitely by a quasi-libertarian perspective that at one point equates US attempts to regulate private ownership of assault weapons with the worst excesses of the "war on drugs").

Also a lot of other things, chosen on my principle of "I saw it on the new release shelf at the library" and not memorable enough for discussion.


2) Cooking

I seem to be making meatballs a lot lately. I've made Spicy Freekeh Soup with Meatballs and Kofta b'siniyah, both from Ottolenghi and Tamimi's Jerusalem. The soup was excellent; the kofta didn't quite work for me. What made me want to try them was the combination of meatballs and tahini (I adore tahini), but I didn't think they went together all that well. I'm planning to use the leftover kofta in various ways (with yogurt sauce, perhaps, or simmered with tomatoes and eaten with pasta) that I hope will turn out more to my taste.

I also baked a big batch of chocolate rugelach the other day, because I had a pound of chocolate I'd acquired in a fit of baking ambition and wanted to use before the weather got too hot here for it to keep well. (The weather has since turned sharply colder, of course.) For half the batch I added walnuts to the chocolate filling, and I used toasted coconut for the other half. They're yummy, though I think I'd prefer the more traditional rugelach filling with raisins, in part because the rugelach dough is so rich already.

I still have over half a pound of semisweet chocolate left. Any suggestions?

Yesterday I seem to have bought a pineapple. They were on sale and they smelled so nice! Hopefully the sudden craving for pineapple the smell brought on will last long enough for me to consume the entire beast.


3) Fannish stuff

I was underwhelmed by the season finale of POI--so underwhelmed that I didn't even realize it was the season finale until I looked it up. I see the show has been renewed for another season despite a drastic decline in ratings in S4. I hope that (a) the show will improve and (b) the blame for the decline will be placed where it belongs, on slipshod and uncreative writing, and not on the inclusion of more women characters or making those characters canonically queer.

I've started rewatching POI from the start, which is making me love the show enough again to search out fanfic. But from what I can tell, there's still next to none that's any good.

As for other fandoms, I badly want to see Age of Ultron, but it will have to wait until I'm less broke. And the end of The Thrilling Adventure Hour is approaching. I just downloaded what's probably the last ever episode of "Captain Laserbeam" and am hoping, hoping, hoping the Captain Laserbeam/Philip Fathom becomes canon. Apparently there's going to be one more "Colonel Tick-Tock" segment as well, and I am equally hoping that the Colonel and Bob McCrumbs will reunite and happily travel the timeline together. Right now these are the stories I'm most invested in, because I haven't loved the direction "Sparks Nevada" has taken.

Okay, this is probably enough rambling. Talk to me? I miss you all, even when it's hard for me to reply/comment in a timely way.



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thanks again

I've just repaid everyone who sent me money for my car insurance payment (with one exception, and that's because I'm waiting for the money to transfer into PayPal from my bank). You should all be getting a notice fairly soon. Sorry it took me a few days--I wasn't able to get internet access again until today.

Thanks to all of you!!



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hello again

Hi everybody!

Not much to say--mostly I'm posting just to post, since I don't want to disappear for weeks at a time.

I've finally read Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice--I got an Advance Readers' Copy ages ago from work, but the cover was so ugly that it put me off even after everybody started saying how good it was. I'm dismayed to discover that the hideous ARC cover is used on the real book too, because that can't be helping Leckie's sales.

Anyway, it is good. The plot is a bit weak, but since I'm not a plot-focused reader, I thought the worldbuilding in particular more than compensated. I'm looking forward to reading the next one.

Otherwise I've mostly been reading a lot of cookbooks from the library.


To my surprise, I quite liked POI 4x19, "Terra Incognita." SPOILERSCollapse )

No major cooking to report. I've been using my frozen (homemade) focaccia dough in various things and discovering that no matter what, it's weird and difficult to work with (it's a v v wet dough, so slack that it doesn't really rise despite the cookbook's assurances that it would--and I didn't put too much water in, because I measured everything out in grams). It doesn't taste bad, but it doesn't taste so great that I think the effort is worth it.

I've discovered that among the virtues of my new interest in Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cooking is that fact that many of its basic ingredients--courgettes/zucchini, aubergine/eggplant, capsicum/peppers--are among the most reliably inexpensive vegetables at the market. Lamb, alas . . . I've given up waiting for lamb to go on sale and will be making meatball and green wheat soup tomorrow with beef only. I'm sure it will be fine.

I'm feeling a bit guilty about how seldom I've cooked Indian food in recent months, especially when I consider all the spices I have. It's so labor-intensive, though, and one recipe can dirty every dish in the house. Also I still don't have a blender, which makes a lot of the recipes difficult to achieve. (I know the vast majority of Indian homes likely don't have a blender, but they do have a mortar and pestle, which I also don't have. And grinding spices in a mortar and pestle is a skill that I suspect one needs to practice from childhood.)

Ah, well. Knowing me, my interest in it will revive eventually.


And now I'll say goodbye before this Starbucks chair permanently destroys my spine.



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hello again

This week, I have been mostly reading and cooking. This will come as no surprise to anyone.

Reading: I've been speeding through Arnaldur Indriðason's mystery series featuring Reykjavik police inspector Erlendur and his colleagues. They're good books, if rather gloomy, though occasionally Erlender's endless clinging-to-his-own-trauma gets on my nerves. The one I just finished, Outrage, switches protagonists to Erlender's colleague Elínborg, whose pragmatic and less self-absorbed viewpoint was something of a relief.

I think I'd call them crime novels rather than mystery novels, as they're often more interested in the impact and aftermath of crime, or the causes of crime, as they are in whodunnit. This is something I like, and the look into Icelandic culture is intriguing to me as someone who knows nothing about it.

The most recent book to be translated into English, Strange Shores (which was the one I read first because I picked it up randomly off the new books display at the library), ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I'm hoping the sequels make it into English soon.

There's something I'm interested in talking about if anybody has read these (here follows discussion of a minor character, cut for length, nothing plot spoilery) read moreCollapse )

I've also been reading Paul Strohm's Chaucer's Tale: 1386 and the Road to Canterbury, I think out of nostalgia for academia. It's not actually a scholarly book in the sense of being aimed at specialists, more the sort of thing you'd assign to bright undergraduates (in the US--I'm given to understand that UK undergraduates read real scholarship) to give them some context for Chaucer, but it still recalls the good old days--yes, I really think of them that way--when I was working on my Ph.D.

More relevant to my current interests, I picked up a copy of Robert Beachy's Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity for just $3, thanks to a sale at work, and can't wait to read it.


Cooking: I've been cooking some of the recipes in Ottolenghi and Tamimi's Jerusalem: A Cookbook. Nothing fancy, just a few of the vegetable dishes, but I'm enjoying them very much. I have made my own hummus! Which turned out to be easy and delicious, and I will never buy hummus again. I've also tried roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini, and roasted cauliflower (the recipe calls for it to be fried, but I didn't want to) also with tahini, and a variation on the pita-and-vegetable salad fattoush that has cucumber, tomato, radish, and pita in a gorgeous creamy yogurt dressing with lemon. This last is my new favorite thing; I diverge slightly from the recipe by toasting the pita until it's very crisp.

I always thought I didn't like salads, but what I'm realizing is that I actually don't like lettuce. Salads that are full of other vegetables, I like enormously and will gobble down like a hungry salad-eating wolf.

I'm eager to try some of Jerusalem's meat recipes, especially the one for freekeh and meatball soup and the one for meatballs with fava beans, but I need to buy some lamb for those and I should probably wait for it to go on sale.

In baking, I've been attempting to make foccaccia using Ken Forkish's recipe from Flour Water Salt Yeast, but my results have been . . . odd. It's not an easy dough to work with, and seems to want to rise too much or too little or both. I'm beginning to fear that Forkish's recipes, which I like because of how precise they are, may in fact be a little too precisely calibrated, so that they can be hard to adapt if, say, your kitchen is cooler than Forkish's optimum temperature, as mine currently is.

And lest you think I have been converted entirely to salads, let me note that last night I baked Golly Polly's Doodles, a delicious peanut butter-filled chocolate cookie with a silly name. These are a bit labor intensive because of the hand shaping but not difficult, and I felt accomplished at having made a filled cookie, almost like a Real Baker.


So, how are all of you? Please do point me at stuff you posted or saw that I may have missed!



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wastin' away again in Starbucksville

Hello everybody. I've decided it makes more sense to have internet access once a week for a few hours than to have it for one single week a month (followed by three weeks without), so here I am.

It's spring here, spring and fall being the only seasons when the local landscape attains much beauty in my opinion. The trees (such as they are--small, skinny, forlorn desert trees) are in flower or in bud and the weather warm but not yet hot. I'm not at all an outdoorsy person but

I haven't been up to much that's specifically fannish; for example I haven't yet seen the latest POI and, based on the episode description at Wikipedia, I'm not at all sure I want to. And it's hard to feel connected to fandom without, well, being connected to the internet enough for regular interaction. Probably what I'm enjoying most right now is The Thrilling Adventure Hour, which I've been unable to convert any of you to and which is coming to an end in a few months anyway. Rather against my will I've lost interest in Welcome to Night Vale; I started to get bored as soon as things returned to business as usual after the Strex arc, because it began to seem like the show is running out of ideas and trying to milk events (e.g. Carlos in the other universe) for as looooooooooong as possible.

Recommendations for good movies, books, and TV shows are always welcome.

I'm reading a lot, though fairly randomly based on whatever is available at my small local library. I read a collection of M. F. K. Fisher's writing, which was interesting in the way of someone who's a good storyteller but whose anecdotes one suspects of considerable mental rewriting and editing, perhaps not all of it conscious. Her specifically food-related pieces often irked me a bit, because while she explicitly disclaims food snobbery and avoids some of the old snobberies of her time (such as treating classical French cooking and its many sauces as the only cooking that matters), from the perspective of 75 years on it's easy to see how she's establishing new food snobberies that are still with us. As I've talked about a bit here occasionally and as other people have discussed much better elsewhere on the internet, fresh and local is all very well if fresh local food is reliably available where you live, and your finances and other life factors allow you to buy and prepare it. But it's not possible for everyone. (What US food culture needs right now, I think, is not another "farm to table" cookbook but something about how to make decent meals with what's available in an average supermarket.) There's a strain of puritanism, too, in Fisher's disdain for sweets and embellishments, and sometimes the puritanism becomes hypocritical. There's one essay in which she rants against the overuse of salt and presents a grilled steak recipe not "tainted" by salt--but which involves marinating the meat in a large quantity of soy sauce and then using oyster sauce to finish it. Fisher even notes that the soy sauce might seem like a sop to salt addicts, but it's not, she insists, it just makes the meat more delicious. Which, yes, that is what salt does.

Despite my objections, I have felt Fisher's ghostly presence hovering around me for the last week, mostly disapproving of what I cook and eat. And it's had an effect. I've found myself wanting to eat a lot more vegetables, which is not a bad thing, and the craving has been at least doubled by my perusal of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's Jerusalem: A Cookbook, which I also got from the library. I want to cook almost every recipe in it, especially the beautiful vegetable dishes. Alas it's not a great time of year for vegetables, and in any case I have to rely on what's in the supermarket, but sometimes tasty things can happen even with ordinary supermarket veggies. Yesterday I topped a hot toasted sesame bagel with some cream cheese, some thinly sliced green onion, and some thinly sliced cucumber. It was delicious. (More on food in a minute.)

In other reading, I picked up a copy of Kate Williams' The Storms of War from the library despite knowing it would probably be terrible. It did not disappoint.Collapse )

Returning to the happier subject of food, I recently played around with this bagel recipe, adapting it to a period of refrigeration and a slow, overnight rise to develop flavor. By which I mean I cut the yeast down to half a teaspoon, refrigerated the dough for about 7 hours while I went to work, then took it out of the fridge, did a few stretch-and-folds rather than kneading, and let it rise overnight. It rose and rose and ROSE, so I might cut the yeast down some more next time, but the bagels were the tastiest I've made yet. I've since found a bagel recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice specifically designed for an overnight rise, so I plan to try that the next time I make bagels.

I got a book about high-altitude baking from the library which has good tips and some delicious sounding recipes. I've never in my life tried to bake a proper cake with layers and such, but I can't stop thinking about the Orange Sponge Layer Cake with Tangerine Mousse, and I've promised it to myself as a birthday treat come September. I hate to bake things that I can't freeze and use gradually, but I'll make an exception in this case, I think, and gorge myself on cake and take the leftovers to work.


So how have you been? Please do link me to things you've posted that I missed.



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back for a moment

Hi all my buddies! I'm in Starbucks, sitting on a very uncomfortable chair and drinking an overpriced frappuccino. (I fully intended to order an iced tea, the cheapest drink. Instead, somehow a frappuccino happened.)

Remember the thing from last month when I was pulled over for having one headlight out, and then got cited because I didn't have proof of insurance on me? That's resolved now, pretty painlessly and without my expired driver's license ever getting noticed. Since I spent much of the last month in a state of such anxiety over it that I was sort of emotionally paralyzed and physically unwell, this is a very very good thing. Feeling better now.

Since I remain internetless I've been reading a lot. I followed up Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger with Night Watch and The Paying Guests. I liked them both a lot, but between TLS and TPG, I started to feel about Sarah Waters' work the way I feel about Thomas Hardy's--the sinking feeling as one crushingly terrible thing after another happens to all the characters I like. Night Watch isn't exactly the most cheerful book in the world either but when it's sad, it's sad on a more normal, less cosmic scale, if that makes sense. I'll probably read more of Waters but for the moment I need a break from her.

Neil Bartlett, W. J. Burley and WWII under the cutCollapse )

Not much else to report. I'm still watching Person of Interest despite a distinct feeling, a couple of episodes ago, that the show had jumped the shark. very slight spoilerCollapse ) I wish I could quit you, POI, but I still care about the characters and want to know what's going to happen to them.


So, how are all of you?



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au revoir

My week of internet access will expire quite soon, so I'll only be around intermittently until early next month when I can buy access again.

*waves sadly*



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book-related

I am, of course, sad about Terry Pratchett's death, but it sounds to me as though despite his Alzheimer's he remained pretty much himself to the end and died as peacefully as anyone could hope for. I'm glad that he was spared cut for bleak stuff about dementiaCollapse )

*deep breath*

Okay, less gloomily, I wanted to mention a couple of books I've enjoyed recently.

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, begins with the onstage death by heart attack of a famous actor during a performance of King Lear in Toronto, and traces out the impact of his life and death. Oh, and the night he dies is also the night a soon-to-be global pandemic arrives in Toronto. Within weeks, over 99% of the human species has been wiped out. The story moves between the pre-apocalypse and post-apocalypse eras; I found the latter more interesting and wished there had been more of it, and also that the plot was less reliant on coincidence. But overall I found the book engaging and interesting, and I liked that it avoided the usual "the world is completely brutal and hopeless all the time" clichés of the genre.

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters, is set just after the Second World War and revolves around a landowning family struggling to survive in a changed economic and social world, and the doctor who befriends them. Strange and increasingly disturbing things start happening in the big house: trickery, neurosis, or ghosts? This is a really well-written book that's made me want to read more Sarah Waters. Though I do now also quite want to read the AU of this one in which spoilers, mostly by implicationCollapse )

I'll have to see if I can get Waters' Night Watch from the library.



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back for a while; also, death by chocolate

1) Payday, which means I have bought another week's internet access. Please do link me to anything interesting I missed!


2) Recent reading:

Molly Lefebure, Murder on the Home Front. This is a republication of Lefebure's 1955 memoir Evidence for the Crown, and deals with her work from 1941-1945 as secretary to forensic pathologist Dr. Keith Simpson. It's an interesting look at British life (and death) during the war years, though I was torn between enjoying Lefebure's lack of pious platitudes and finding her sometimes quite callous. And be warned that her opinions can be unpleasantly reactionary even for the 1950s. In particular she shows a jaw-dropping lack of compassion for a murdered fifteen-year-old girl; the girl was sexually active, so in Lefebure's view the man who strangled her to death wasn't terribly blameworthy. Most of the book is free from this sort of thing, but there were times when I disliked Lefebure intensely.

M. J. McGrath, The Bone Seeker. A mystery novel set among the Inuit of the Canadian high arctic. The mystery is nothing special (I knew who did it less than halfway through, and I usually can't figure out mysteries), but the setting and cultural stuff are more compelling. McGrath does seem a little inclined to overemphasize the things non-Inuit are likely to find most alien about Inuit culture, though. There's a lot of eating of raw meat and animal heads in the book, for example; this makes me suspicious in particular because McGrath is not herself Inuit, but white British.

Neil Clarke, ed., Upgraded. An anthology, by the editor of the Clarkesworld sff website, of stories about cyborgs. It's a mixed bag, as all anthologies are, and I haven't finished it yet, but there are some good stories that aren't the usual run of cyberpunk.


3) Cooking: foodstuffs under the cutCollapse )

4) All my recent attempts at writing have ended with a whimper, so how about a writing-related meme? 40 questions, grabbed from [personal profile] lilliburlero under the cutCollapse )



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adventures (and errors) in media

My allergy problem segued into a sinus infection problem, leading to several unpleasant days on which my entire face hurt, but I'm better now and feeling mostly human again.

Today I was reminded that while the Granada Sherlock Holmes series was mostly excellent, towards the end it went off the rails. I checked out "The Eligible Bachelor" from the library. I'd never seen it before, and ye gods was it terrible. About a third of the storyline was based on two ACD stories, the rest was a lot of overheated Victorian melodrama, terrible special effects, and scenery-chewing. Even Jeremy Brett went a bit over the top; only Edward Hardwicke kept his dignity and grace as Watson, but unfortunately he wasn't in the story much.

In another instance of bad media choices, I also checked out The Explorers: A Story of Fearless Outcasts, Blundering Geniuses, and Impossible Success from the library. I was in a hurry and didn't look closely at it; I just saw from the blurb that it was about the Burton and Speke expeditions to find the source of the Nile and thought it would be interesting. It turned out not to really even be about the expeditions, apart from a few scattered pages. Mostly it's about seven personality traits supposedly associated with explorers, and how they can help the reader succeed in their own life. So, scads of self-helpish generalities and dubious neuroscience. Also, it turns out the author is a frequent ghostwriter co-writer for right-wing television pundit Bill O'Reilly, whom he enthuses about in the author's notes.

I only skimmed but still managed to be irritated, especially by author Martin Dugard mentioning Richard Hillary as an example of the brave, persevering explorer type. Hillary, Dugard writes, was a pilot "shot down and killed during World War II." Now, this is technically true, but not the way it sounds. First Hillary was shot down and seriously burned. After surgeries, rehabilitation and a lot of badgering of doctors and commanding officers, he managed to get himself cleared for flight retraining even though his hands were stiff from scar tissue. During training he crashed his plane, killing himself and his radio operator. Hillary, when his story is told honestly and not fudged, doesn't strike me as an admirable example of ceaselessly striving for your dreams, but rather an example of the value of knowing when to quit.

I've made at least one not-mistaken media choice by starting to read Chaz Brenchley's Outremer series, which is set in a fantasy version of the crusader settlements in the middle east, aka Outremer. It's a bit grimdark, and given how important religion is supposed to be, the religious issues aren't clearly defined, but it's a good story so far and I like that there are queer characters who are central and have plots roles well beyond their queerness. I should note that the books aren't really standalones; they need to be read in order and so far they tend to end abruptly.

So how are you all? I miss you!



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letter meme

While waiting for the bread dough to rise. I grabbed this one from [personal profile] oursin, who assigned me the letter P. I changed one question because I thought the original wasn't very interesting.


Something I hate: Podsnappery, for which I can't find a really good online definition, but this is okay. Your modern US-ian practitioner of Podsnappery believes no one is poor unless they're lazy and no one is killed by the police unless they've done something to deserve it.

Something I love: Podcasts. At least, several of my favorite fannish things at the moment are podcasts, or radio shows that I consume in podcast form. Because they're vastly cheaper to produce and easier to distribute than, say, television shows, there's a lot more room for experimentation and for niche-iness.

Somewhere I've been: Paris, where I lived for almost a year as a student. I loved it, mostly, though looking back on that time from a more adult perspective, I missed so many opportunities. But on the other hand, I had experiences that a sensible, responsible adult would miss out on. Obviously the best thing would be to go back to Paris every five years or so and re-experience it.

Somewhere I'd like to go: Besides back to Paris to do and see all the things I missed the first time, maybe Prague? I've heard it's gorgeous, and maybe it's not still overrun with US hipster expats the way it was said to be a while back.

Someone I knowA book I like: My first instinct is Pride and Prejudice, but it's kind of obvious and also may sound odd in combination with my next answer. So, Perdido Street Station by China Miéville, though I actually prefer the second Bas Lag book, The Scar.

A film I like: Pride (the 2014 film about Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, not the several other films of that title). It's funny and warm and political in a completely non-preachy way.



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