jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Feh. On Friday, K was tired enough that she fell asleep at her desk in school. We figured possible growth spurt. Then on Monday she took a 4-hour nap on the sofa. Tuesday, she was ill and stayed at home where she mostly watched her iPad and napped, and ate the BRATY diet. Today, she was well enough to go back to school, and it was The Man's turn to be sick. I have a sore throat now and am worried. Dangit, I thought we had already gotten our winter cold for Xmas. At least work is understanding about me needing to come in late or leave early.

I borrowed Busman's Honeymoon from the library in audiobook form, or so I thought. It was about 1/5 the size of the Gaudy Night files. Turns out, it's not an audiobook, it's a radio play version. Which was fun — I love radio plays — and quicker to experience, but I feel like I missed out on a lot of Sayers' observations. Guess I'll have to get the ebook version and have Alex read it to me.

Speaking of the previous book, I think my favorite moment in Gaudy Night might be when young Mr. Pomfret is trying to pick a fight with Peter in the antique shop:

"Stand up, blast you! Why can't you stand up for yourself?"

"First," replied Peter, mildly, "because I'm twenty years older than you are. Secondly, because you're six inches taller than I am. And thirdly, because I don't want to hurt you."

Reminded me of this:


Jan. 18th, 2016 11:46 am
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I borrowed the audiobook of Gaudy Night from the library and listened to it on my iPhone. It was a little bit of a hassle to import the sound files from the Overdrive folder to iTunes and then sync with the phone, but the worst part was having to contend with the Apple Music app on my phone. Other sound-playing apps have controls like this:

And then there's Apple Music, which does not have an easy "skip back N seconds" button and whose controls are so much smaller:

UI annoyances aside, the audiobook experience was great. I was able to listen during my commute (now that I've given up on the light rail) and during data entry at work. The narrator's English accent enhanced a lot of the pompous discussions among the Oxford dons and lent some added charm to Lord Wimsey the younger.

And the story itself was good; I hadn't known anything about Dorothy Sayers before starting the Wimsey books, so I hadn't realized how much of a feminist nerd she was. I love that she highlighted the double standards of how male and female students were treated and how the women's college is aware of its own precarious situation. It creates a nice backdrop for Harriet's need to maintain her independence. And I loved Wimsey for that moment when he realizes Harriet is in danger and instead of hiring bodyguards for her or trying to stop her investigation, he teaches her self-defense. I was less charmed by the dog collar; I wasn't sure what Sayers was trying to do with that, or if the comparison between a woman and a dog wasn't a thing in the 1920s.

I also wasn't sure how big of a scandal Harriet's well-publicized "fallen woman" status would have been. Obviously it's enough of a thing that she's worried about how she'll be received at Oxford and is used to getting hate mail, but I don't remember the book saying that she was worried she would harm Peter's reputation. Perhaps that would have gone without saying. My only complaint with the book itself is that by the time you get to the ending, it feels anticlimactic, and then it ends abruptly. But that was the case with Have His Carcase too, and probably a convention of storytelling at the time. I've noticed the same abrupt feeling in older movies.
jinasphinx: (Default)
Recently viewed:

  • "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows". Beautiful "sets", and I liked the slow-mo of bullets hitting trees when they're running through the woods. It was a nice way to convey the chaos and danger without resorting to shaky-cam. But personally, I prefer Aspergers Holmes to Action-Figure Holmes. The British show makes it exciting to watch Holmes think, and the rapport between Holmes and Watson doesn't have a corny "buddy cop" feel.

  • "Little Miss Sunshine". Except for the last 15 minutes, it falls short of funny. I think I enjoyed it more than The Man did, because watching the characters pile into a semi-working VW minibus was like every family vacation from my childhood.

  • "Date Night" with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell. I guess I'd call it an action comedy, a lot like "After Hours", but in this one it's a married couple on a date who get mixed up in a crime. I liked it, and they nailed the DIWKs arguments.

Also recently seen: my first and last episode of "Game of Thrones". Enough horrible things happened in the first episode, and even the good guys have to be brutal, that I don't need to go back there. I can just re-read Suetonius.

Still watching: "Foyle's War". Now into series 3, still awesome.

Recently read: Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman's Road and The Lost Steersman. How is it that I only recently heard of this author? She's great. Reminds me a bit of Janet Kagan. A vaguely medieval world, a society of mostly women scientists (but not exclusive of men), and "magic" that readers recognize as technology. The plots are not predictable; so far I've been pleasantly surprised by plot twists in both books. But I also have a sense of knowing things that the main characters do not, and that makes me eager to see how the characters figure this out. Because they're low-tech but clearly not stupid.
jinasphinx: (Default)
Bellwether, by Connie Willis
Lighthearted novella, in the same sort of vein as To Say Nothing of the Dog, but with a contemporary setting. Lots of historical trivia about scientific discovery and fads. (The protagonist is a female sociology researcher whose specialty is fads.)

Lincoln's Dreams, by Connie Willis
So far, my least favorite by Willis. I'm maybe 75 pages in, and the comedy of manners structure is already annoying. Usually I can shrug it off because that's just how Willis structures all her stories, but in this one the plot is driven by a male history researcher's immediate overprotective reaction to an emotionally vulnerable young woman.

Metatropolis, edited by John Scalzi
Fun shared-world anthology. I didn't care for the first story (not a fan of Jay Lake's writing style) but there's some good stories in here. Elizabeth Bear and Tobas Buckell's stories are particularly good, and Scalzi's is workmanlike as always. The theme is cities redefined. For example, Cascadiopolis looks just like the forest. But there are subtle markings on rocks for paths, and the guards at the gate are hidden up in the trees, like nanotech-wearing elves. Across the country in Detroit, unused buildings are being adapted to new uses. Karl Schroeder's story closes out the book by introducing a virtual city.

Slices, by Michael Montoure
Another good short-story anthology by Michael. Horror isn't my genre, but the story about the rabbits haunts me.
jinasphinx: (Default)
Been meaning to post for a while about some books I've been reading. Here goes:

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This was a hard book to start reading, because I dreaded reading about the subject matter: human trafficking and prostitution, rape, women dying in childbirth or afterwards from fistulas, genital cutting, bride burning. But whenever I overcame my inertia and actually started reading, it was okay. The authors are Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and have managed to write about such awful violations of the human body and spirit in a way that is dignified and optimistic. They talk about people who are fighting the good fight in each country they discuss, and point out some great bang-for-the-buck things that we can do, like distributing iodine capsules in Africa. (There is a Web site: halftheskymovement.org) It also changed my mind about a couple things. I had thought legalized prostitution like in the Netherlands was okay, and I had previously shied away from giving money to religious charities. Kristof and WuDunn point out that legal brothels attract parallel underage/forced prostitution business, and that in the rural parts of Africa that need help the most, only missionaries and other religious groups can be found. Anyway, I do highly recommend this book. It should probably be required reading for everyone.

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, by Neil Strauss. Just finished this one. The author starts out as a self-conscious nerd trying to get up the courage to ask women out. He takes workshops from other formerly self-conscious nerds, joins their online community (in which these guys ask for advice, share new techniques, and of course brag), and ends up as one of the gurus. The anecdotes are fascinating. I had observed to The Man a while ago that whichever parent is less available is the one the kids both want attention from, and that seems to be the main principle behind these guys picking up women at clubs. One way the "PUAs" (pick-up artists) signal their high worth is to "neg" their target, who is always the prettiest woman in a group. They say things like "Wow, you're pushy! How do you guys put up with her?" or "I like your dress. I just saw another girl wearing the same one." This apparently causes the pretty girl, who is used to guys fawning over her, to try to pursue the one guy who appears too cool for her. Towards the end of the book (which is way longer than it needs to be), the author gives up his handful of girlfriends for the one woman he meets who cannot be negged. Anyway, the book is too long, but it's worth skimming for the anecdotes, especially the one towards the end where he uses the PUA techniques in an interview with Britney Spears. (Strauss is also a journalist; he freelances for Rolling Stone.)

August 2016



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