mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
As I understand many other writing types do, I often gravitate to soundtracks when I put music on while I write. The absence of lyrics keeps the language processing centers of my brain free, and unlike proper classical music, soundtracks are written with the intention of staying in the background while you focus on something else instead of demanding your full attention.

One of my favorites is actually the soundtrack to a game I've never played, a cult favorite steampunk RPG from 2001 called Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura. The composer's website seems to be down at the moment, but you can check out the cached version to read more about it. Basically, he drew on elements from medieval/Renaissance/early music for the motifs, but then scored it for string quartet, with a couple of tracks that incorporate percussion and synthesizer. It's really gorgeous and atmospheric, and also freely available to download, along with the entire score.

I highly recommend it, whether you're noveling or not this month.
mayhap: Gorey pic with text Forbear to taste library paste (Forbear to taste Library Paste.)
What I've been reading

I reread Swing, Brother, Swing. One of Ngaio Marsh's strengths is making me care more than I would ordinarily about the one-off heterosexual romances in the B-plots, and Carlisle/Ned are one of my favorite pairings—cousins and childhood friends (the socially-acceptable version of sibcest!) who play a longstanding game where they narrate bits of their lives in third person omniscient at each other. This book has another drugs subplot, though, so I'm on wikipedia once again, going, okay, unlike heroin I know you can actually smoke cocaine, and even Ngiao Marsh would know about cocaine injection because of Sherlock Holmes, but I'm pretty sure there is no such thing as a cocaine pill okay. Ngaio Marsh really needed a drugs beta.

I reread Night at the Vulcan, and I was really surprised that with standardized pagecounts in iBooks it's among the very shortest of the Alleyn books, definitely of the ones I've reread so far. The investigation phase of the book is actually quite short and Alleyn zeroes in on the murderer very quickly. I still love the theatre plot, although now that I am ten years older than her and do not cherish even secret and delusional ambitions of becoming a non-amateur actor I no longer identify quite as desperately with Martyn Tarne, although, again, adorable het relationship between spoiler, but not for the murder plot ) Also, spoiler for the murder plot )

I read Red Dragon, because it is contrary to everything I stand for to be in a fandom that is at least partly based on a book and not have read that book, and I read some Hannibal fic so I can hardly say I'm not in that fandom now. So yes, I officially see what you did there, with the handful of bits from the book that were used or changed to create the show, and I officially do like the show better. (How is Hannibal supposed to have maroon eyes? Is he albino?)

Then I read The Silence of the Lambs, which I enjoyed more because it has Clarice and also it has more Hannibal Lecter in it, and I was also seriously weirded out because this was the second book in a row that uses a bunch of incidental locations that are right in my neighborhood, even though as far as I can tell Thomas Harris has never lived in Missouri. This isn't actually a seething hotbed of serial killers, I promise. (I have to give the bookverse props for accuracy on that front though; Will Graham is correctly considered to have an impressive amount of experience with serial killers because he's caught two of them, whereas in the televisionverse serial killers appear to be only slightly less common than check fraud. But then, that's part of the fictional landscape that Hannibal Lecter helped create.)

I read Roman Warfare, because I placed holds on all the books my library has about the Roman army. Stupid research for my ridiculous Gladiator fic is eating my brain, I swear.

I read A Tale for the Time Being and I love this book so much. Like, I want everyone to drop what they're doing right now, but I also don't want to say anything about it because I don't want to spoil anything about the way it unfolds—seriously, if I've already decided that I'm interested in reading a book, I'll stop wherever I am in the blurb and not read any further, that is how spoilerphobic I can be. So I'll compromise and say it's a book about a teenage diarist in Tokyo, the middle-aged Japanese-Canadian novelist who finds the diary, bullying, writer's block, Zen Buddhism, translation, and time travel (which is another way of saying writing). And not that anyone on the Booker selection committee is reading this, but if you are and this book doesn't win I will totally cut you.

I read Last Rituals, which was kind of mediocre, but I did enjoy the Icelandic setting.

What I'm reading now

Marcus Aurelius: A Life. If you guessed that this is more ridiculous research, you are correct.
mayhap: manuscript vine with dragon head (like dragons)
More like Friday fic this week, whoops. Apparently I've mostly been reading other things this week.

British Library, Cotton Domitian viii, Item IV, ff. 70-80: Historia Johannis (3913 words) by longwhitecoats
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Sherlock (TV), Sherlock Holmes & Related Fandoms
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, John Watson
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Medieval, Writing on Skin, Writing on the Body, Literacy Kink, Multilingual, Footnotes, Epic Love, Literally an epic love, Implied character death - ambiguous, Academia
Summary:

Here follows the first translation of the Historia Johannis, commonly called "The Hermit's Tale."


I knew I was going to love this story when I saw that it had a whole separate column for the footnotes. Actually, the library copies of the canon that I read were laid out like this as well, so maybe I just have a typographical type.
mayhap: Javert smiling (happy Javert!)
I decided that the Wednesday reading meme should have a fannish counterpart, so I'm initiating Friday fics. Unlike my Wednesday reading posts, I'm not going to include absolutely everything I've finished with scathing write-ups of stuff I hated or was utterly bemused by, just things I think someone else should conceivably read if they're into that sort of thing.

Also this week I'm going to cheat and include things that I, strictly speaking, read before this week, because I enjoyed them and don't want them to be left out and also because I want this post to be longer and more interesting than it otherwise would be.

gonna make you have awful luck (1108 words) by sungabraverday
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Les Misérables - Victor Hugo, Curse Workers Series - Holly Black
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Fantine (Les Misérables), Cosette Fauchelevent, Mme. Thénardier, Azelma Thénardier, Éponine Thénardier
Additional Tags: Not Happy, Alternate Universe - Curse Workers Fusion
Summary:

Cosette is a curse worker. Fantine is not. She tries to do the best thing for her daughter, but it's not going to turn out well.


Short and, well, not sweet.


The Perils of Walking in the Rue de l'Homme-Armé (3690 words) by raspberryhunter
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Les Misérables - Victor Hugo, Les Misérables - All Media Types
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Montparnasse & Jean Valjean
Characters: Montparnasse (Les Misérables), Jean Valjean
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Fix-It
Summary:

In which Montparnasse finds that the perils of walking in the Rue de l'Homme Arme are twofold: first, that one might begin to think; and second, that one might come across a weak old man.


The most delightful fix-it, worked in the most unexpected of ways, and splendid Hugo pastiche, to boot.


More Than Bliss (15785 words) by tristesses
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Avengers (2012)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Loki/Natasha Romanov
Characters: Natasha Romanov, Loki (Marvel)
Additional Tags: Dom/sub, Femdom, Masochism, Orgasm Delay/Denial, Chastity Device, Mind Games, Whipping, Subspace, Hurt/Comfort, discussion of suicide, Aftermath of Torture
Series: Part 1 of Ball and Chain
Summary:

The first time she sees Loki again, Natasha nearly puts a bullet in his skull. The second time, he threatens to kill her. By the third time, she has him on his knees and begging for her touch, and what's more, he likes it.


This is the first part of a series and the whole series is amazingly, smolderingly hot. I was really craving kinky Natasha/Loki right after I saw Avengers and there wasn't anything and apparently I just gave up slightly too quickly.
mayhap: vintage photo with text how the milk got into the coconut (how the milk got into the coconut)
Oh, I am the luckiest girl in all of fandom today, and I win at New Year's Resolutions (Recipient Division, that is) for all time, because today [personal profile] spintheiryarns/[livejournal.com profile] custardpringle posted A Jolly Kind of Detective Game, her epic fantabulous Hilary/St. George casefic flipping masterpiece, which I have just spent a lovely long Sunday afternoon (and, okay, well into a Sunday evening) reading.

Hilary/St. George is, to begin with, the pairing that is the nearest to my heart, because so far as I can tell it is an idea that did not exist at all in the world until the day it popped into my head, and then because I wrote about it and requested it for Yuletide it turned into this actual thing that people who are not me read and write and ship, which is more or less actual literal magic as far as I am concerned. I'm getting kind of choked up now just thinking about it. Fandom.

And now it is my über rarepair in my teeny tiny fandom that has this glorious novel with its gorgeous, intricate emotional arc and its absolutely smoldering sexual tension, which pays off in the most utterly compelling touches and kisses and sex, oh my god the sex, and all this in a story which also contains bantering, detecting, much hurting and comforting, a whole community of wonderful original characters including queer characters and characters of color for the story to take place among, and the absolute funniest and most apposite chapter-heading tags ever selected. Is it any wonder that I'm looking smug today? (And believe me, I am looking most exceedingly smug.)

This is the single most happy-making fic I have ever read. Everyone should read it and rejoice with me.
mayhap: (gathering data)
I bought a supporting membership for Chicon 7 so I could nominate, read and vote for the Hugos this year! Nominations are due by the 11th, and I've sorted what I'm nomming for Best Novel, because novels are a thing that I actually read on a regular basis. When it comes to the various lengths of shorter fiction, zines, artists, editors, fan writers (apparently not the same as fanfic writers, alas), &c., I am essentially a blank slate. As, at the moment, is my ballot.

Feel free to recommend nominations for these categories! I will happily consider any suggestions and nominate things on your behalf.
mayhap: Spock's pouty face (I find this illogical)
Logorama, winner of the Oscar for Best Animated Short, is fantastic. It has a little bit of a Tarantino-style narrative about a car chase to tie it together (complete with what is euphemistically known as language, which had already outraged several iTunes reviewers by 11:00 PM because ZOMGit'saCARTOONwon'tsomebodythinkoftheCHILDRENZ), but what really makes it worth watching is the absolute abundance of clever visual puns that fill every frame.

Otherwise, eh. I wish the 45 second rule had been implemented on the presenters rather than the recipients (which is to say, the unfamous and unpretty recipients of the second- and third-tier awards) and I don't think I had strong feelings about anything else.
mayhap: Spock's pouty face (I find this illogical)
Logorama, winner of the Oscar for Best Animated Short, is fantastic. It has a little bit of a Tarantino-style narrative about a car chase to tie it together (complete with what is euphemistically known as language, which had already outraged several iTunes reviewers by 11:00 PM because ZOMGit'saCARTOONwon'tsomebodythinkoftheCHILDRENZ), but what really makes it worth watching is the absolute abundance of clever visual puns that fill every frame.

Otherwise, eh. I wish the 45 second rule had been implemented on the presenters rather than the recipients (which is to say, the unfamous and unpretty recipients of the second- and third-tier awards) and I don't think I had strong feelings about anything else.
mayhap: Pete and Patrick are furries (furries)
Things that are awesome today:

1. The movie version of Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I saw with my father this afternoon. He was deeply floored by how awesome it was, because he had heard nothing about it and was just expecting a fun kids movie. I was expecting it to be pretty awesome and was still floored by how awesome it was.

I would say that the basic plot outline was Dahl and everything else about the execution was totally vintage Wes Anderson, and I mean that as an endorsement. Both because I really like Wes Anderson, and because it's a sensible method of adaptation. A movie should bring something genuinely new and worthwhile to the story, or else seriously, just read the book already.

Possibly my favorite bit: all the adults, and occasionally, the children, use 'cusswords' appropriately in the situations they find themselves in. How, then, does the film achieve its PG rating? Every instance of a verboten four-letter word has been replaced with 'cuss', so that, for example, towards the climax of the film, the characters find themselves in a situation that can only be described as a 'clustercuss'. Okay, so it's kind of twee, but I thought it was hilarious and allowed the dialogue to flow with the rhythms that actual adults (and children) use.

2. The American Indian Art Collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. I hadn't heard that this was coming to the museum, much less that it had opened less than a month ago, so it was an extremely pleasant surprise when we came upon it during our post-movie visit.

It is huge. The range of objects, styles, origins, materials, you name it, is completely dazzling. I was especially impressed by how many of the relatively older objects were identified as the work of a particular artist whose reputation had been preserved in his or her tribe, and I thought all of the plaques did a good job placing the objects in as specific a context as possible. I loved the inclusion of many pieces by contemporary Indian artists and how they were placed right among older pieces that demonstrate the context the artist was working in, allowing the viewer as an outsider to appreciate a tiny bit of the culture that influenced the piece.

Luckily, one of my favorite pieces is online, so I can link to it: this pair of 'Rez Bans' by Kevin Pourier. I think the pun there is hilarious, the glasses are plain gorgeous (and you know I have a Thing for glasses), and the layers of meaning behind the materials and the pattern just make me squee more. The fact that they were tucked in among an exhibit of other Lakota pieces made me feel like I was sharing in this completely awesome inside joke.

I was seriously impressed by the whole exhibit. I suspect that the fact that a lot of the collection was accessioned quite recently might explain how extensive the histories on many of them were and how effectively they were presented, because somebody cared about these things and made sure that they came out. Whoever worked on this did good.
mayhap: Pete and Patrick are furries (furries)
Things that are awesome today:

1. The movie version of Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I saw with my father this afternoon. He was deeply floored by how awesome it was, because he had heard nothing about it and was just expecting a fun kids movie. I was expecting it to be pretty awesome and was still floored by how awesome it was.

I would say that the basic plot outline was Dahl and everything else about the execution was totally vintage Wes Anderson, and I mean that as an endorsement. Both because I really like Wes Anderson, and because it's a sensible method of adaptation. A movie should bring something genuinely new and worthwhile to the story, or else seriously, just read the book already.

Possibly my favorite bit: all the adults, and occasionally, the children, use 'cusswords' appropriately in the situations they find themselves in. How, then, does the film achieve its PG rating? Every instance of a verboten four-letter word has been replaced with 'cuss', so that, for example, towards the climax of the film, the characters find themselves in a situation that can only be described as a 'clustercuss'. Okay, so it's kind of twee, but I thought it was hilarious and allowed the dialogue to flow with the rhythms that actual adults (and children) use.

2. The American Indian Art Collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. I hadn't heard that this was coming to the museum, much less that it had opened less than a month ago, so it was an extremely pleasant surprise when we came upon it during our post-movie visit.

It is huge. The range of objects, styles, origins, materials, you name it, is completely dazzling. I was especially impressed by how many of the relatively older objects were identified as the work of a particular artist whose reputation had been preserved in his or her tribe, and I thought all of the plaques did a good job placing the objects in as specific a context as possible. I loved the inclusion of many pieces by contemporary Indian artists and how they were placed right among older pieces that demonstrate the context the artist was working in, allowing the viewer as an outsider to appreciate a tiny bit of the culture that influenced the piece.

Luckily, one of my favorite pieces is online, so I can link to it: this pair of 'Rez Bans' by Kevin Pourier. I think the pun there is hilarious, the glasses are plain gorgeous (and you know I have a Thing for glasses), and the layers of meaning behind the materials and the pattern just make me squee more. The fact that they were tucked in among an exhibit of other Lakota pieces made me feel like I was sharing in this completely awesome inside joke.

I was seriously impressed by the whole exhibit. I suspect that the fact that a lot of the collection was accessioned quite recently might explain how extensive the histories on many of them were and how effectively they were presented, because somebody cared about these things and made sure that they came out. Whoever worked on this did good.
mayhap: wee Matilda reads a book (Matilda)
Heads up, all: the very cool Small Beer Press is doing a bit of spring cleaning on their warehouse and they're clearancing out some titles for $1.

I personally already have a copy of Kate Wilhelm's useful and thoughtful Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers' Workshop, and I just picked up a copy of Laurie J. Marks's Water Logic, third in her excellent Elemental Logic series, which is brilliant, gritty, full of wonder, and oh, incidentally, extremely queer- and particularly lesbian-friendly. (Oh, and hot.)
mayhap: wee Matilda reads a book (Matilda)
Heads up, all: the very cool Small Beer Press is doing a bit of spring cleaning on their warehouse and they're clearancing out some titles for $1.

I personally already have a copy of Kate Wilhelm's useful and thoughtful Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers' Workshop, and I just picked up a copy of Laurie J. Marks's Water Logic, third in her excellent Elemental Logic series, which is brilliant, gritty, full of wonder, and oh, incidentally, extremely queer- and particularly lesbian-friendly. (Oh, and hot.)
mayhap: screencap of title page of Principi di Sciencza Nuova by Vico (Vico)
Q: The Lost Books of the Odyssey seems to function less like a traditional Homeric epic and more like a sort of post-modern self-contained literary universe. Can you explain?

A: Post-modernism dates back to pre-antiquity. Recall that Achilles's shield is embossed with an extremely intricate image that depicts, among many other things, Achilles's shield. And in the Aeneid, Aeneas goes to Carthage and finds an ancient temple carved with a frieze depicting the events of the Trojan war that was then still winding down. Nihil sub sole novum.

Q: My institution's library has an extensive collection of reproductions of original Greek manuscripts, but we don't have the Lost Books. Why?

A: The sole extant copy of the Lost Books is in the British Museum (probably. See below.) In the tradition of that venerable, august and under-funded institution, they disseminate even vital scholarly work more or less as the spirit moves them. For this reason the best way to examine the original manuscript (of a copy of a copy) of the Lost Books is (or rather, was) to go
to London.

If you like Italo Calvino or Homer or postmodernism or priceless antique manuscripts which have mysteriously vanished and are only available in translation, you have probably already clicked on the link above and are not even reading this. If not, what are you waiting for? It's gorgeous.
mayhap: screencap of title page of Principi di Sciencza Nuova by Vico (Vico)
Q: The Lost Books of the Odyssey seems to function less like a traditional Homeric epic and more like a sort of post-modern self-contained literary universe. Can you explain?

A: Post-modernism dates back to pre-antiquity. Recall that Achilles's shield is embossed with an extremely intricate image that depicts, among many other things, Achilles's shield. And in the Aeneid, Aeneas goes to Carthage and finds an ancient temple carved with a frieze depicting the events of the Trojan war that was then still winding down. Nihil sub sole novum.

Q: My institution's library has an extensive collection of reproductions of original Greek manuscripts, but we don't have the Lost Books. Why?

A: The sole extant copy of the Lost Books is in the British Museum (probably. See below.) In the tradition of that venerable, august and under-funded institution, they disseminate even vital scholarly work more or less as the spirit moves them. For this reason the best way to examine the original manuscript (of a copy of a copy) of the Lost Books is (or rather, was) to go
to London.

If you like Italo Calvino or Homer or postmodernism or priceless antique manuscripts which have mysteriously vanished and are only available in translation, you have probably already clicked on the link above and are not even reading this. If not, what are you waiting for? It's gorgeous.
mayhap: two boys figure skating as pairs (gay figure skating manga)
This is close enough to what I was looking for a few months ago that I'm going to choose to believe that I personally summoned it into existence: gay figure skating manga!

Look at the pretty cover! )

It's a yaoi one-shot entitled Sono yubi no tadoru kizu (The Wound My Finger Traces) by Tsurugi Kai. You can download it at the scanlators' website here, or I uploaded it to my webspace to here [17.3MB .zip file].

It's cute, a little angsty, not very (visually) sexually explicit, and has lots of pretty figure skating if you like that sort of thing (I do).

Also, Sam and I are really excited about the Boys Love trailer. Sam quite fancies Kotani Yoshikazu to begin with.
mayhap: two boys figure skating as pairs (gay figure skating manga)
This is close enough to what I was looking for a few months ago that I'm going to choose to believe that I personally summoned it into existence: gay figure skating manga!

Look at the pretty cover! )

It's a yaoi one-shot entitled Sono yubi no tadoru kizu (The Wound My Finger Traces) by Tsurugi Kai. You can download it at the scanlators' website here, or I uploaded it to my webspace to here [17.3MB .zip file].

It's cute, a little angsty, not very (visually) sexually explicit, and has lots of pretty figure skating if you like that sort of thing (I do).

Also, Sam and I are really excited about the Boys Love trailer. Sam quite fancies Kotani Yoshikazu to begin with.

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