Stuff and things

Oct. 17th, 2017 12:37 pm
cupcake_goth: (Default)
[personal profile] cupcake_goth
Oh hey, I haven't posted in a while, have I?

- The Interview with the Vampire screening at MoPop was wonderful. I hadn't seen it on the big screen since it was released!

- Work is work. The super-close deadline was pushed out by two weeks, Yay! The actual deadline was pushed up by two weeks, WTF BOO! Actually, there are good reasons for the actual deadline to be pushed up, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

- Went to the zoo over the weekend with some wonderful friends. My beloved red panda was waaaaaay up in a tree, snoozing, and wouldn't come down no matter how much I beseeched and made flaily hands. But at least I got to see his cute face as he sleepily groomed his fluffy tail.

- Speaking of cute faces, Vlad has been extra needy, and has taken to standing on my office chair (did I mention I have a standing desk now?), and gently patting my hip when I'm not paying attention to him. On the one hand, it's adorable. On the other hand, I wish his sister liked him right now. (She doesn't. She Very Much Doesn't.)

- OMG IT'S MY FAVORITE MONTH! THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS TO DO! Which means I'm super-busy and kind of tired, but it's worth it. Not to mention it's our 20th wedding anniversary at the end of the month. :D
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
 This looks like another "young outcast discovers his powers" book.  Wow, is it not.   Trust me. In the very first scene, Kellen needs to fight a magecaster's duel.  

There are three requirements to earning a mage's name among the JanTep.  The first is the strength to defend your family.  The second is the ability to wield the high magics that protect our people.  The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen.  I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn't be doing any of those things.

And we're off, into the duel.  Kellen's problem is that he doesn't have magic.   This is not a survivable problem.   But Kellep does have a very, very clever mind.  In a lesser book, Kellep would discover his magic and wipe the floor with his opponent, winning the acclaim of the crowd. 

This is not a lesser book.  Spellslinger is actually about a young outcast discovering and creating his own moral fiber.  Kellep's struggle, although he doesn't realize it early in the book, is to become a decent human being in an indecent society.  This is a far more interesting coming-of-age story than you usually get.   When the Mysterious Stranger shows up, she's not a kindly wizard mentor.  She's (possibly) not a wizard at all. She doesn't teach Kellep: she gives him opportunities to teach himself.  Kellep acquires some new resources, but they are challenges as much as gifts.

Oh, the Mysterious Stranger kicks ass.  I can't say more, because it would be a spoiler.  She is compelling and ambiguous and funny and tough.

The characters are engrossing.  The worldbuilding is unusual and clever. It's partly based around an original variant of a Tarot deck, but is in no way woo-woo; the cards do not predict your future, but (sometimes) illuminate your choices. The cards are playing cards, but are also a weapon.   The cards have nothing to do -- as far as we know -- with the magic of the JanTep.

The book itself is gorgeous, in a way that made me extremely nostalgic.  The red-and-black cover has two line drawings of the main characters, presented as a face card. (Don't look too closely at Kellep; it's a spoiler.)  Red is used as a spot color, very effectively.  There are interior illustrations of relevant Tarot cards at the beginning of each section.  And the page edges (forget the technical term) are red!  Taken as a whole, the book looks a bit like a deck of cards, which is, I'm sure intentional.

Here's the catch.  There (as of time of writing) no U.S. or Canadian distributor of Spellslinger or its sequel, Shadowblack.  If you're in North America and want to read them, you'll have to order from the, in my experience, reliable, fast, and cheap www.bookdepository.com or an equivalent.

Note: de Castell's Greatcoat books are also awesome.  If you like the Musketeers books, you should love them.  The nice thing is that they preserve the essential "three duelists against the world" spirit without either copying the plots or being pastiche-y.  The second nice thing is that the author is a stage fight choreographer and is able to communicate fights clearly to the non-fighter (me).
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
Nothing ages faster than style guides; the language moves on while the guide continues to shake a fist at the previous generation's shibboleths. (Lookin' at you, Strunk and White. Fowler is at least funny.)

Today, I give you Ambrose Bierce's Write It Right, published 1909. There are gems on every page, but here are a few:

THE BLACKLIST
A for An. "A hotel." "A heroic man." Before an unaccented aspirate use an. The contrary usage in this country comes of too strongly stressing our aspirates.
Note that this means he thinks you should say "HOtel". Some people (*cough*fuddyduddies*cough* still agitate for "An heroic", but I've never seen anybody objecting to "A hotel".

Chivalrous. The word is popularly used in the Southern States only, and commonly has reference to men's manner toward women. Archaic, stilted and fantastic.
I kind of love this. Boy, would Bierce hate "kind of".

Every for Ever. "Every now and then." This is nonsense: there can be no such thing as a now and then, nor, of course, a number of now and thens. Now and then is itself bad enough, reversing as it does the sequence of things, but it is idiomatic and there is no quarreling with it. But "every" is here a corruption of ever, meaning repeatedly, continually.
Good old false etymology.

Some forgotten slang and dialect:
Avoirdupois for Weight. Mere slang.
Clever for Obliging. In this sense the word was once in general use in the United States, but is now seldom heard and life here is less insupportable.
Decidedly for Very, or Certainly. "It is decidedly cold."
Gent for Gentleman. Vulgar exceedingly.

So. Tell me your favorites!


Poem help!

Oct. 13th, 2017 10:01 am
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
Does anybody remember a prose-poem about a young man who is determined to see the truth of everything?  The important part is the ending, in which the man, grown old, looks into the eyes of young men and sees a kindly old gentleman who is fond of sunsets.   The last line is something close to

"That is what he saw in the eyes of those wicked young men".

I thought this was by Stephen Crane.  Does anybody recognize it? 

It's all about the algorithm

Oct. 5th, 2017 01:21 pm
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
Turkish doesn't have gender markers on pronouns.

Try this.

1. Go to http://translate.google.com.
2. Select English as the language in the left-hand field.
3. Enter
she is a babysitter
he is a doctor
4. Select Turkish as the language in the right-hand field.
5. Click translate.
You get
o bir bebek bakıcısı
o bir doktor
6. Select the button with two arrows above the top right of the left-hand field. This reverses the translation and translates back from Turkish to English.

Have fun.

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