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papersky July 30 2014, 06:57

Jazz query

I want a piece of classic jazz that normal people would recognise from the name, and also that they'd recognise the name of the composer, and which could be played on a flute -- or to be specific pan pipes or an aulos. And it has to sound good when played on a flute.

I am an ignorant idiot and I need this right now.
matthewsrotundo July 30 2014, 03:08

The 2014 Rotundo World Tour Rolls into OSFest!

This weekend, it’s the next stop on the 2014 Rotundo World Tour—the Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, aka OSFest 7.


Here’s my schedule:


Friday, August 1st


Character Building - Steps to take when constructing engaging characters in a novel, manga, or comic. Learn how to create memorable and real characters.  (6:00 pm, Iowa Room)


Saturday, August 2nd


Hard Rocking SF – Panel discussions on SF in rock music including bands, lyrics, and cultural influences.  (11:00 am, Missouri Room)


Mining for Story Nuggets – Where and how to get ideas for short stories and novels.  (2:00 pm, Colorado Room)


Writing 101 – Learn the basics of what you need to know to get started as a writer.  (5:00 pm, Colorado Room)


Sunday, August 3rd


Matt Rotundo Reading – I’ll be reading from “From Earth I Have Arisen.”  And remember my motto:  come for a treat, stay for a tale!  (12:00 pm, Fireside Readings)


Dates, times, and events are subject to change.


Do stop by and say howdy.


Current Music: "One World"--Dire Straits


Originally published at Matthew S. Rotundo's Pixeltown

editormum July 30 2014, 02:00

My tweets

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hecallaghan July 30 2014, 01:29

Review: The Great Gatsby

Originally published at Book of Lost Nights. You can comment here or there.

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is another of those classics I've been promising myself I'd get around to for years, and now I have, and yet again I've been blown away.

I seem to remember reading Tender Is The Night years ago, but can remember next to nothing about it. I suspect that Fitzgerald, like Jane Austen, is one of those authors you can be too young to read, and tragically, they are also the sort of authors that are given to kids as required reading.

But as for The Great Gatsby, it's a wonderful take on ambitions, dreams, and the semi-permeable boundaries of class. Gatsby lives alone in his massive house in West Egg, hosting lavish parties, and is an object of fascination to new arrival Nick Carraway, who lives in a small house next door. Gatsby, who trails an aura of vague notoriety wherever he goes, is in love with the glamorous Daisy, who is seemingly unhappily married to the stymied, bullying, unfaithful Tom. Tragedy ensues.

The thing that struck me most is how exquisitely filtered everything is. We follow Nick as these characters open up to him, like Chinese dolls, revealing different facets of themselves as everything rushes to its denouement. They are faithless and shallow, and it is Gatsby, the fraud and criminal, who at least sticks true to his doomed dream. For such a small book, it really delivers pounds per punch.


View all my reviews

hecallaghan July 30 2014, 01:20

Medieval Cookery III: Blaunchyd Porray (Creamed Leeks)

Originally published at Book of Lost Nights. You can comment here or there.

This one is from a book called the Liber Cure Cocorum, which is completely wonderful for three reasons:


  • It comes from Lancashire and is in the Northern dialect current around 1430.

  • It includes the earliest references to haggis and humble pie.

  • And, awesomely, it's in verse form:


For blaunchyd porray.


Take thykke mylkeof almondesdere


And heke hedes þou take with stalk in fere,


Þat is in peses þou stryke.


Put alle in pot, alye hit ilyke


With a lytel floure, and serve hit þenne


Wele soþun, in sale, before gode menne.


Like I said. AWESOME. It must be this way as a form of mnemonic in the face of widespread illiteracy - there is evidence that many pre-literate societies just didn't muddle along helplessly, but instead used a strong and structured delivery for their oral knowledge, which they could then reel off when required. One of the strategies for that delivery is verse.

Obviously, during Lent or other fast days, you could substitute thick almond milk for the cream. Hieatt and Butler suggest a halfway house for modern cooks that combines almond milk and cream, and this is what I've used here.

To make the creamed leeks, you'll need the following:


  • 4 tbsp ground almonds (more flavourful if you grind them yourself, if you have the patience)

  • 475ml light cream or whole milk

  • 2 large leeks, washed, trimmed, and sliced into thin disks

  • 1-2 slices of white bread, crusts removed, and torn into fragments

  • 1 tsp salt

Start by chopping up your leeks:


Chopping the leeks, or "porrays"


Mix the almonds and cream/milk together and leave them for an hour. I just left them in the saucepan.

Next, tear your bread into breadcrumbs. Note that you don't want stale bread here; you'll be using the crumbs to thicken the sauce so a kind of elasticky dampness is okay.

Making breadcrumbs


When the almond/cream mixture is ready, strain out the almonds with some muslin.

Soak the breadcrumbs into the liquid and give it all a good stir until they practically dissolve. The recipe says blend it, but I managed very well with a whisk (this is why it's good to have fresh bread!)

Turn on the heat to medium and bring the sauce to the boil. Keep stirring it all the while, as the bread will start to thicken the sauce to a remarkable degree.

When it's getting noticeable thicker, chuck in your leeks and the salt.

Simmering the leeks in the sauce


Let them simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes. What you'll end up with is a soft, velvety concoction, fairly stiff, that you can then go and serve alongside your other medieval delights, such as Cormarye in my case.


Cormarye and creamed leeks


Or you could eat it with practically anything else, because it's absolutely delicious. A dish of creamed leeks; what's not to love?

Was it nice?

It looked beautiful and tasted great. I was initially skeptical about the breadcrumb thickener, but ended up completely sold. It wasn't at all lumpy or grainy, and the almonds gave the whole thing this wonderfully sophisticated sweet edge. If you were using pre-made almond milk, the whole thing would be ridiculously easy to prepare, too.

anghara July 29 2014, 23:04

Spamology

"DEARLY BELOVED, SAVE HUMANITY!" says the subject line on one the messages in my spam box.

I am tempted to send an autoreply.

"You have reached the Messiah Hotline. We value your call. Due to the heavier than usual call valume, you may have to wait a little longer than usual for a response. Your expected wait time is approximately 2000 years. Please stay on the line and someone will be with you momentarily."
ada_hoffmann July 29 2014, 22:56

Barking Sycamores, Issue 1: A Review

So, I don’t like non-paying markets. This is probably not a surprise; I have a vested interest in being paid for what I write. Writing is work; and there is a time and place for volunteer work, particularly in an activist context. But when one is expected to work for free as part (or all) of one’s career, or told that working for free is the only option because of one’s marginalization, bad things happen.

I don’t like non-paying markets. And I don’t, as a rule, review non-speculative stuff.

So why the heck am I reviewing Barking Sycamores?

This is a zine which is dedicated to showcasing the work of neurodiverse poets (and artists), but doesn’t pay them. There’s a “donate” button, but the money goes to distribution, not contributors.

And I could rail about this being an unethical way to showcase poetry from an already-underrepresented group. Or I could roll my eyes and go do something else. Yet here I am, writing an actual review of Issue One. Possibly because this is exactly my thing; possibly because I don’t know of any other market, paying or not, with the same mission. Possibly just because my brain grabs on to things sometimes and doesn’t let go.

So.

You might expect that, in a non-paying market, the work will vary in quality. It does. But there are many good pieces in here, and the issue as a whole is enjoyable to read. There is a strong sense of shared mood and theme: topics vary, but each poet conveys a sense of a slantwise sensory and cognitive approach to life. Each poet owns and validates their difference, even though many are painfully aware of surrounding forces that wish to erase them.

The best of these more-painful poems, dealing with the sheer weight of NT expectations, is Savannah Logsdon-Breakdone’s “Sleep“. Emily Page Ballou’s coordinated pair of poems, comparing her “real” self to the self adults wished her to be, is also intriguing, as is Barbara Ruth’s “At Sixty-Seven, Still Brain Damaged, Still Brilliant“.

Those readers looking for speculative fare might be satisfied by Sarah Akin’s magical-realist “To George“, or by a few of Christopher Wood Robbins’ poems; meanwhile, Lucas Sheelk’s “Dear Allistic, Love, Autistic” is not quite a poem, but is well worth reading as an intimate, true-to-life look at a type of relationship we don’t often get to see in what’s published about us.

There are several poets in these pages who are very interesting to me, and whom I’ll (eventually) be looking up for further work. If you’re interested, as I am, in both poetry and neurodiversity, then it’s all worth a look.

One wishes, however, that each of these worthy poets had been paid something for their efforts. I totally agree with trying to distribute neurodiverse poetry to a wider audience, in order to give new readers a sense of neurodivergent authors’ experiences and personhood. But if we really wish to honor the poets’ personhood, surely that should include paying them something for their published work, as other poets are paid – not simply using them as a convenient source of free words to use in furthering a cause.

Originally published at Ada-Hoffmann.com. You can comment here or there.

jimhines July 29 2014, 22:33

Wickedly Dangerous, by Deborah Blake

Wickedly Dangerous CoverWickedly Dangerous [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] is the first book in a new paranormal romance series from debut novelist Deborah Blake, coming out in five weeks on September 2, and it’s a lot of fun. From the publisher:

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…

As some of you might know, I have a bit of a weakness for updated/retold fairy and folk tales, so seeing Baba Yaga brought into the 21st century with an enchanted Airstream trailer (complete with a fridge that at any given time might contain anything from baked chicken to an endless supply of cherry pie), a dragon disguised as a big old pit bull, and a load of magic, was pretty much guaranteed to draw me in.

Barbara is a great protagonist, powerful and compassionate, but also a bit out-of-touch with her human side. That happens when you spend most of your life moving about, hanging out with the supernatural, and never building any long-term relationships with mortals. Her love interest, Liam, was engaging as well, being a small-town sheriff with a good heart and some romantic/emotional scars, dealing with the double-barreled crap gun of corrupt politics and a case he’s not equipped to understand. They make a good team, and Blake definitely creates some good chemistry between them.

I winced a little at the treatment of Liam’s ex-wife. She’s quite broken, and at times it felt like she was there more as a plot device than as an actual character.

It looks like each book in the series will follow a different Baba Yaga, which I like. It means the book has a satisfying ending and a full plot arc, but also promises more to come. The epilogue sets up the next book, Wickedly Wonderful, which comes out in December 2014 and tells the story of Beka Yancy.

Wickedly Dangerous is a fun, fast-paced read with heroic protagonists, a clear battle of Good vs. Evil, love and romance, a happy ending, and a lot of nice little details. And also a dog-dragon. (Yes, I really like Chudo-Yudo.)

More info is available on Blake’s website.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

sandratayler July 29 2014, 22:25

I Don’t Think this is the Tuesday I Ordered

I’m certain that I did not request to be awakened at 5am by a cracking sound in my neck followed by pain. An hour of stretching, laying on rolled towels, and using a ball for pressure point therapy, all failed to fix whatever it was. So I had a morning of pain, smelly lotions to loosen muscles, and slow movements. Fortunately Howard was able to help me reset some of the alignment, which means I remain stiff and sore, but the pain will subside when my muscles decide to unlock.

Also on the not-entirely-expected list, Link picked an Eagle Scout Project. He’s working with Habitat for Humanity to build a tool shed for a community garden. It is an excellent project, well suited to Link, and obviously needed. Yet suddenly the next few weeks have an array of project related tasks to complete. Many of them have more to do with paperwork than with the actual project. BSA runs on paperwork. I think one of the hardest parts of the project for me will be keeping my hands off. I can picture all of it in my head. I can make it happen. But this is Link’s project, not mine. He is the one who has to make it happen. Not me. That is the point. My role should be limited to asking “Have you thought about this? How do you think you should handle that?”

Related to pain and loss of sleep, extra napping was necessary and stole some work hours.

I knew that today was the day I sent Gleek off to Church Girl’s Camp for five days. I put it on the calendar months ago. I’ve seen it on the calendar many times since. Yet somehow I arrived on Sunday and thought “Oh. That’s this week?” She packed up all her things yesterday and I helped her review them this morning. We went to the church and I lingered for a bit because I need to make sure that a leader was aware of Gleek’s daily medications. I watched Gleek as she joined with the other girls. Last year I spent two months with lots of attention focused on Gleek and camp. I wasn’t certain she could handle it or I wasn’t certain it was fair to the leaders to impose her particular bag of troubles on them. I didn’t know what the stresses of camp would do to Gleek’s anxieties. I had to skip out on half of the writer’s retreat I wanted to attend because I needed to be the one who sent Gleek off to camp. Last year camp was hard and full of anxiety, which is why it surprised me that it sneaked up on me this year. It arrived and I hadn’t been thinking about it. That in itself is a huge measure of progress from last year to this year. Gleek went off to camp happy and I feel confident that whatever difficulties the leaders have with her will be within the range of challenges that are normal with any thirteen year old girl.

After the pain, sending Gleek to camp, the nap, and the eagle project paperwork, I really thought it would be time to sit down and get some focused work done. Unfortunately my brain decided it needed to do 1500 words of writing first. Not writing on my fiction project, nor writing in a blog post. Nope. It was pages of dumping out the contents of my brain just to see what is in there. I have to do that sometimes. It helps me figure out where the anxiety is coming from. Today’s fun anxiety symptom is heart palpitations. Haven’t had those in a while and they seem directly related to the pain, so I know they’ll go away. Yes I’ve had them checked by a doctor. I wore a heart monitor and everything. There is no physiological reason for them. They’re caused by anxiety, and in this case, pain.

I’ve now reached 4:30pm. This day was similar to what I thought it would be, though I’d hoped to get a lot more work done by this hour. Life can not always be executed as planned and I just have to roll with what comes instead.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

nihilistic_kid July 29 2014, 21:18

Out East

I am on the East Coast. O's parents are churchy, so we baptized the baby in their a United Methodist church, which takes about five minutes. (An Orthodox baptism ritual is both interminable and spectacular, with flames and threats of drowning, yeah!) Also, their whatevertheycallit was a woman, so there were calls for a do-over. Anyway, here is a photo from the party afterward.

image

I have a red-haired gray-eyed baby. Whodah thunk it?
asakiyume July 29 2014, 21:07

The Lunchbox

A thing on Twitter reminded me that I wanted to say how much fun the movie The Lunchbox is. Apparently I just really, really love epistolary stories? This one unfolded like a flower: there is nothing unexpected about how a flower unfolds, but you sure do enjoy watching it. And it wasn't just the main characters, the secondary characters were excellent as well: Saajan's young disciple Shaikh and Ila's heard-but-not-seen Auntie. And every small detail--a window closed so Saajan can't look in, which becomes, later, a window from which a child waves at him--is excellent.

eugie July 29 2014, 20:39

Stem Cell Transplant: Day 1

In the process of checking into Emory hospital after a long wait–as per usual–for them to clear out a bed, find me a room, generally get all the paperwork squared away.

Tonight’s med schedule is a two-hour infusion of carmustine. Of note, carmustine needs to be administered via an 8% alcohol solution. Yep, I’m getting booze. By IV.

Some of the side effects include a flushed, red face and sense of warmth. Ya think?? I haven’t had alcohol in over a year, and even when I was having the occasional cocktail or glass of wine, I had no alcohol tolerance.

Gonna be a party in my hospital room tonight.

Originally published at EugieFoster.com. Please leave any comments there.

mariness July 29 2014, 17:51

Uncanny Story, Alphabet of Embers, Clarkesworld

Not that anybody has asked, but: "Hey, what it is like to get solicited for a major upcoming project?"

It goes like this:

1. Email comes in. You read it. It's a request - an actual request - for a poem. You figure the people sending you the email just wanted to cheer you up because you had a crappy day, but, you know, poem! After a couple of reassuring emails you agree, because this is going to be a nice, fun little webzine, right? No pressure. You cheer up.

2. Time passes. You don't think much about it because of myriad and massive computer issues and a few other things. And then the Kickstarter announcement pops up on Twitter. You click.

3. You see the freaking list of solicited authors" and squeak, because this list includes Paul Cornell, Mary Robinette Kowal, Jim Hines, Rachel Swirsky, Scott Lynch (!!!!), E. Lily Yu, Ken Liu, Sofia Samatar, Amal El-Mohtar, several other amazing names and --

Neil Gaiman.

(For the record NONE of this was in the initial email.)

Did we say no pressure? Right.

NO PRESSURE.

3. You realize that you really really really want to read everybody else in this.

Uncanny Magazine!

So, er, go pledge! For everyone else in this.

#

Speaking of projects that you should be funding, I'm VERY pleased to note that An Alphabet of Embers, Rose Lemberg's upcoming anthology of Unclassiables, has funded, which also means that the companion book, Spelling the Hours, which is a really cool little thing containing poems about women scientists, has also funded.

What hasn't funded yet, though, is the second stretch goal, which includes music from The Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours, which sounds totally awesome.

Plus, the initial books just sound really cool.

(Full disclosure: I submitted something for Spelling the Hours, but to be honest, given the other people submitting to this project, I don't actually expect to be in it since Rose has such an amazing wealth of talent eager to work with her to choose from. Which right there says everything you need to know about her editing skills (i.e., excellent.) However, I AM in one of the incentive books, Here We Cross, so if you've always wanted a copy of that, this is an excellent opportunity.)

#

And since this has turned into a pimp out worthy projects post, Clarkesworld Magazine is very close to publishing three more stories every four months thanks to Patreon support; they only need a couple hundred more dollars in pledging to make that goal. I'm an obvious fan of Clarkesworld, not just because they've published me twice, but because they continue to publish outstanding fiction every single month, forming a large part of the stories I nominate for the Hugo and Nebula awards, so I highly recommend this, if you can. And you can always buy Clarkesworld directly from various online retailers as well.

(Though, full disclosure again: this is a bit of an incentive for me as well, since it might get me over my current "AUUGH I CAN'T WRITE SCIENCE FICTION" if I know people like a zine that I've published science fiction in to support it through Patreon. But mostly, you should be supporting Clarkesworld since they are publishing such groundbreaking work.)

#

(I have to write a poem for a zine that also solicited a poem from Neil Gaiman. NO PRESSURE.)

(ok maybe pressure)
cassiealexander July 29 2014, 16:51

The Tell Tale Heart

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

So, yesterday my heart decided to do one of those things again where it forgot how to be a real heart and thought that maybe it lived inside the body of the Flash, and zipped up to 226 beats a minute.

Luckily, I was at work when it happened (unless work is somehow triggering it, since all my episodes have been at work?) and they took me down to the emergency department, again, only this time shit got real faster and they cut my scrub top off of me and put defib paddles on ‘just in case’.

Actually luckily, it converted after that, dropping down into the 120′s for a bit before it chilled out and hung out in the 105s, before going back to my normal 80′s rate. I was very happy to have skipped getting adenosine again, because That Sucks.

I had to hang out for a few hours before all my lab results came back normal, again. I haven’t even had my follow up appt from the cardiologist for the first one yet, it’s not until the end of August, so the only thing I can see that might be causing it is ever so slightly low potassium (nothing I would even worry about at work in a patient :P), so in the interests of Health! I’ll be eating half an avocado a day on principle (and also because I really like avocados. ;))

It’s interesting to note that having been psychologically ‘I wish I could die’ at many times in the past when I was depressed, that the physiological equivalent of ‘I might really die’ is quite different, and good at putting things in perspective.

So I spent some time laying in bed this morning thinking about things, and what’s nice, is that I’m happy. My life is pretty awesome. Everyone that I love knows that I care about them, without doubt, my husband, my family, my friends. I don’t have any bitterness or anger or regret, I’ve done a decent amount of good in the world through nursing and fiction. I’ve gotten to pretty much live out my dream, and I’ve gotten the chance to share some of those dreams with some of you. I may not have conquered as thoroughly or as broadly as I might have liked, but I also might never get to go to Europe, so hey. Not everyone gets what they want — its making the most of what we have that matters.

I’m taking tomorrow off work at my husband’s request, although I feel pretty fine now and am out at a coffee shop (drinking decaf, I swear) and hanging with a friend. Like I said, life is good.

Onwards.

 

swan_tower July 29 2014, 15:04

A Year in Pictures – Sunset Tree

Sunset Tree
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You’d never guess it to look at this shot, but I was standing on the edge of a parking lot when I took it. We were nearly done with our time at Point Lobos, but I saw this tree out on the rocks, with the sunset behind, and just had to stop to capture it.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/671481.html. Comment here or there.
asakiyume July 29 2014, 15:02

1400 people….

On the news, talking about fires in California, they said 1400 people were evacuated. (Or maybe it was 1200--it was either twelve or fourteen. Hundred.) I always assume, when I hear a number like that, that it's rounded off. The chances that it's a perfect fourteen hundred--not 1,396, not 1,407 or 1,421--seem low to me, though I suppose it's possible.

But if it's rounded off, that means the actual number is either higher or lower. If it's higher, that means there are displaced people who aren't counted--how would you like to be among the unnumbered? You are an untidy extra, a scrap cut off the piecrust.

And if it's lower, that means there are phantom people swelling the ranks. Imagine sitting at the shelter, maybe having a package of Funyuns that have been handed out, and next to you are these barely visible disturbances in your visual field, like heat ripples--the ghostly extras who have been added to round out the number.

I'm not really distressed. I understand the necessity and practicality of rounded numbers: truly! But still--it's thought provoking.


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