jesse_the_k: amazed Alanna (hero of Staples/Vaughn SAGA comic) (alanna is amazed)

Out on the Wire by Jessica Abel - 4 of 5 stars

review )

IRMINA by Barbara Yelin 5 of 5 stars

more inside )

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui - 4 of 5 stars

read why it's great )

Diabetes and Me by Challoner & Bertozzi - 2 of 5 stars

a disappointment )

A Chinese Life by Li Kunwu & Phillipe Otié - 5 of 5 stars

great book and personally meaningful )

VISION (volumes 1 & 2) by Tom King / Gabriel Hernandez Walta / Jordie Bellaire - 4 of 5 stars

Pure pleasure )

jesse_the_k: Two bookcases stuffed full (with books on top) leaning into each other (books)

Past imperfect : history according to the movies edited by Mark Carnes

4 of 5 stars )

Truevine by Beth Macy

4 of 5 stars )

Chenoo by Joseph Bruchac

3 of 5 Stars )

A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters

3 of 5 stars )

  1. discovered in my Cumberbatch-completist mode ↩︎
jesse_the_k: uppercase Times Roman "S" with nick in upper corner, text below reads "I shot the serif." (shot the serif)

Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation

David Crystal5 of 5 )

I'd appreciate knowing what you mean when you deploy the swung-dash (~) character?

jesse_the_k: John Watson makes a sad face while holding open a winter coat stuffed with plastic explosive (JW hates semtex)
On my sidebar you'll find more than 140 fanfic recs for BBC's Sherlock fanfic. I loved ACD Sherlock Holmes growing up, and I clearly like Sherlock fic now. It's the perfect show in that regard: it's often called the first fandom to be ficced, and the showrunners excel at episodes that need fixing.

The most recent example is the New Year Special: The Abominable Bride. You can read the entire show thanks to [ profile] arianedevere's loving transcripts:

Satisfying Hate-reading )
Another Fandom Rescue by Plaid Adder )
jesse_the_k: Hands open print book with right side hollowed out to hole iPod (Alt format reader)
Thanks to the Disability Studies in the Humanities listserv, I found this wonderful review from my hometown paper I would have otherwise missed.

Katherine Schneider is a retired psychologist, who coordinated psychologist training at UW Eau Claire. When she criticizes how blind people are portrayed in the book she's to assigned review, she suggests three books which address the same issues and handle blindness adroitly. It's a very effective technique, and one I want to deploy in future discussions (and protests).

Just Read It | Katherine Schneider : WSJ
begin quote

In many blindness fictions, blind women show up as someone needing to be cared for and unacquainted with the realities of the world. If your taste runs to romantic fiction, instead of reading Danielle Steele's "A Perfect Life," why not try "The Unexpected Gift" by Berna King. The author is blind and gets the details right about two blind characters. Blindness is part of their lives and people's sometimes misguided attitudes about their blindnesses are also just part of their lives.
end quote
jesse_the_k: Zoe from Firefly looks fierce with her sawed-off shotgun (Zoe's Gun)
Thank you davidgillon for pointing me to Malinda Lo's outstanding essay on "Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviews" of professional (trade magazine) reviews of "Diverse YA" books. Sadly, she finds them generally lacking and oftentimes offensive, especially when any intersectional identity is dismissed as "unrealistic" and "too much" for a YA work.
juicy quotes )
jesse_the_k: Alan Cummings, all glammed up in blue eyeshadow and filmy red dress vamps in lime green room under the words "drama quee (Alan the drama queen)
Kim Stanley Robinson: 2312
available in print and ebook; 6/10 stars
Excerpt here thanks to publisher
4500 words re pushing through the last 300 pages )
Thanks to Luzula who said she was interested in my reaction. It's much easier to write to a known reader.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (pin oak leaf)
This morning I sat down to breakfast and couldn't move until I finished the first half of Gene Luen Yang's latest graphic work: Boxers. It's a beautiful, gripping, detailed story of the Boxer Rebellion in China. Responding to 100 years of colonialism and war, and ignited by terrible famine and drought, an army of teenagers took their inspiration from the Chinese Opera. They create a ritual to make themselves invincible wuxia fighters, kill white Christian missionaries and Chinese Christian converts, and eventually meet their foes in Beijing.

As Yang makes evident in beautiful line and color, the Chinese Opera inspired the hungry kids just as Superman (among others) cheered WWII soldiers.

Now on to the companion book, Saints, which examines the same events from the Christians' point of view.

10 out of 10 stars.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
This is the funniest NYTimes article I've read in years. I doubt the author intended me to be laughing so hard, but....
begin quote  Men flirted and showed off their muscles through tight-fitting tank tops. Women with no shoes gyrated next to men with no shirts. A D.J. played deep beats. Shachar Keizman, 24, climbed atop an armrest and peeled off his shirt to reveal a chiseled torso. People screamed and stuck dollar bills in his shorts. ¶ Then the lights went down, and Channing Tatum got naked. quote ends
Yes, the Times reporter is amazed to find that the new movie Magic Mike, featuring male strippers, is drawing audiences of gay men! How surprising!

Also of interest & from the NY Times, runner & dak amputee Oscar Pistorius has qualified for the South African Olympic Team.
begin quote His presence on the most prominent stage in sports will no doubt rekindle an international debate over whether his J-shaped, carbon-fiber prosthetic blades give him an unfair advantage. quote ends

Direct from me:

  • New pains. Feh. One thing that's comforting about chronic pain is I become well-acquainted. This new stuff I don't understand yet. Could it be something worth bringing to medical attention? or is it just another meaningless annoyance? Also, keeps surprising me. There again? again? again? Grrr.

  • Finished Code Name Verity, a gripping YA novel set in World War II England and Occupied France. Two "girls" — one very posh and one very working-class — meet shuttling airplanes for the RAF aviators. Their epic friendship takes them across enemy lines, class lines, and moral lines. Author Elizabeth Wein threw an excellent virtual launch party at her, with links to the historical characters that sparked her imaginative yet usefully accurate book. I was particularly struck by her descriptions of handling flying when things go terribly wrong. Wein herself is a pilot. I wished I'd known before I began that there is significant violence in the framing story: one of our two heroines is tortured by the Nazis. Wein's afterword helped me understand that she included these horrors to ratchet up the memorability — Never forget, and never again.
  • jesse_the_k: White woman with glasses laughing under large straw hat (JK 52 happy hat)
    I was delighted by the remarkable story in the NYTimes today about modular/prefab bridge building. A steel-concrete bridge that customarily required two years of road and rail closures was fixed in a weekend.
    link to story and video )

    Our lovely Madison-based book group, [community profile] beer_marmalade, recently read China Miéville's YA book, Un Lun Dun. I was disappointed. )

    Luckily for me, [personal profile] kestrell recommended a perfect palate cleanser: Boris Starling's VISIBILITY. Highly recommended! )
    jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (CKR slurps soup)
    Performed rituals culturally appropriate to Xmas holiday: MyGuy, myself, and a third friend who is not on DW attend loud Hollywood movie TRON: Legacy. Very beautifully animated, and dull dull dull dull. Since Jeff Bridges has spent 25 years in the grid, he's now become a Zen master. Well, a Big Lebowski, at least. Did I mention it was dull? Also there was one female in the cast with any agency. The first females one sees are two black and two white women in 6 inch platform heels who unlock their own refrigerators, slink out, dress our hero, and then slink back into the coolers.

    Followed by quite tasty Thai Noodles, from a shop called Thai Noodles on McKee Road. Squash/yam/coconut curry nom nom nom.

    Today I read about three online dating services for people with disabilities. I guess I should be happy the Times didn't say, gee whiz, these people have sex! I hope the sites don't drown in the bandwidth, particularly from griefers.
    jesse_the_k: harbor seal's head with caption "seal of approval" (Approval)
    Which is more than a year old, so let me rouse the behind-the-times-brigade in support of Sleep Dealer. Made on a shoestring and deeply influenced by fannish tropes. Virtual undocumented workers — cybraceros — plugin all over the global south to take care of the the North's dirty work via robots. Most political movie I've seen in a long time, a much-needed injection of venceremos!
    jesse_the_k: Two bookcases stuffed full (with books on top) leaning into each other (books)
    Barb Johnson's fiction debut is a series of linked stories set in early 21stC New Orleans. More of This World or Maybe Another tells the neighborhood stories from a canal town and how these school kids reconnect as neighbors in Mid-City New Orleans. (It's available in paper and as an ebook from Kobo, an ePUB only bookstore.) it's delicious and challenging and thrilling. )
    jesse_the_k: The words "Indecision may or may not be my problem" over a blurry background (Indecision)
    Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Crohn's Disease is a web comic created in 24 hours. It's informative, sad, and effective.

    Packing up my studio for the trip back south used up all of my energy for the next while. I hope a further report will issue forth shortly.
    jesse_the_k: harbor seal's head with caption "seal of approval" (Approval)
    Just Netflixed a wonderful movie, The Beaches of Agnès by Agnès Varda. For every media fan wanting to exercise your brain, her work is delightful. She's been taking still pictures and movies in the heart of French avant garde since 1950. She is a pool shark with a camera, playing all the anglers. This movie is an introspective, dream-like, retrospective of her youth, her influences, her triumphs, her age (she's in her 80s), some name-dropping, an elegy to Jacques Demy, and three rainbow's worth of colors. Also, many beaches on many oceans. I was entranced.

    There's a YouTube trailer
    beneath the cut )
    jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Calm the fire)
    Just finished a fabulous book I recommend to, well, everyone.

    Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)
    Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson

    It's a highly readable tour of psych research on cognitive dissonance and how we justify error. Using examples from marriages and genocides, therapy, medicine, criminal justice and the law, it convincingly demonstrates the ubiquity of our reluctance to acknowledge our errors. I came away recognizing the human tendency to shifting a focus from what I did to what I intended. This move comforts and soothes the pain of cognitive dissonance; instead of facing error, it permits us to burrow into self-justification. This insight underlines the efficacy of "criticize the act, not the actor," since the latter would most likely stir up defensiveness.

    When the authors apply their analysis to the broader world, it's useful and horrifying. This is how leaders justify torture and prosecutors justify imprisoning innocents. On the smallest scale, it's useful and mortifying: this is how we create grooves in our relationships, from which no amount of love and care can seemingly shift us.

    Tavris & Aronson establish their thesis on many scientific studies (with footnotes! yay! footnotes!) and it's changed how I look at "guilt" and "blame." Highly recommended!
    jesse_the_k: Photo of baby wearing huge black glasses  (eyeglasses baby)
    Just finished Joe Sacco's Palestine, graphic non-fiction about Intifada I. As with all his work, the narrative is honestly brutal and the drawings squirm with detail. I wholeheartedly recommend all his "comic books" (his preferred term). At Mother Jones, when he talks about his latest, Footnotes in Gaza, he explains why graphic non-fiction can sometimes tell a story better than words alone:
     begin quote  But one of the advantages of comics is that you're drawing frame after frame after frame, so almost in the background scenes you can create this atmosphere that's following the reader around, that doesn't necessarily relate to the foreground action but is somehow always present. For example, the way the buildings look—I can show that over and over again in the background, so in some ways I think you can really put the reader in that place, just with all these repeated images. If there's mud in the background, you can show that in every frame, so the mud is following the reader around. If you're a prose writer, really what you're doing is just mentioning it once, you're not going to keep mentioning it ever few lines—"and by the way, it was really muddy." So it's this constant reminder of what the place looks like. quote ends 
    jesse_the_k: Photo of baby wearing huge black glasses  (eyeglasses baby)
    by David Small
    W.W.Norton, 2009

    This 300-page graphic novel is a shatteringly creepy memoir. David Small's physician father, following the medical wisdom of the time, irradiated him many times for "sinus trouble." A colleague noticed a growth on his neck at age 11, but the family dynamic was so nonfunctional that no doctor checked this out until age 14, when the tumor, his thyroid and one vocal fold were removed.

    The family didn't tell him that he'd been treated for cancer. That silence is mirrored in his own inability to speak until the vocal fold regrew some 15 years later.

    Yeah, my mind boggled too. This beautifully drawn book really does evoke Hitchcock and Orson Welles in story and presentation. So the author's self-aggrandizing in this YouTube video isn't hyperbolic.
    jesse_the_k: Ultra modern white fabric interlaced to create strong weave (interdependence)
    FROZEN RIVER explores racism, ethics, power & money head-on, with sympathy, clarity and grace. The lead characters are Mohawk and White, played expertly by Misty Upham and Melissa Leo. They're total strangers who end up conspiring to make money by breaking boundaries.
    (skip) The mothers team up to transport "illegal" aliens—Chinese and Pakistani—from Canada to the US over an ice road that's wholly within the Mohawk territory.
    Living in close proximity, the White woman is reluctantly willing to work with the Mohawk woman, but her racism prevents her from recognizing the humanity of other people they encounter.

    FROZEN RIVER is a beautiful, bleak, gripping and heart-breaking movie. Shot on the New York-Ontario border, it captures life in the cold. It doesn't turn away from the hierarchies present even in poverty: the Mohawk woman lives in a rusty camper; the White woman's rusty trailer at least has a bathroom. It shows how the tribal justice system attempts to foster reconciliation and healing, while the US police deal in racial profiling and big-dick nightstick boundary patrols.

    Even with the grimness, I was glued to the couch for a second viewing with director's commentary.

    Here's a trailer in small screen Flash player, auto starts, no captions or descriptions; sadly, Melissa Leo dominates the screen here because she's White and more well-known (Kay Howard from Homicide). That's not the case in the movie itself.

    This post is part of the linkalicious International Blog Against Racism Week 4 July 27 to August 2, 2009.

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