sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This book does nearly what it says on the tin. Two of the seven wonders it discusses are actually from the early 20th century!

The seven projects:

  1. The Great Eastern
  2. The Bell Rock lighthouse
  3. The Brooklyn bridge
  4. The London sewers
  5. The US transcontinental railroad
  6. The Panama Canal
  7. The Hoover Dam


It is an interesting and well written book, and I enjoyed the reading of it. And I certainly learned things! But I had definite frustrations and concerns.

For starters, the book was rather more invested in great man history than I am. Each of the seven sections had undue (imo) levels of attention focused on the visionary men who spearheaded the projects instead of all the people who were necessary to its realization. Though at least the book didn't ignore the existence of the workers entirely!

And the railway chapter makes me uncomfortable with its rhetoric about how great this railway was for bringing the US together into one country, when earlier it talks about the (very real!) concerns the Native people had about how the railway was an exception to the land treaty and how their way of life would be eradicated. Apparently that doesn't matter because country-building is more important! And a lot of the violence between the Native people and the railroad construction crews is framed as "look at this incredible difficulty the railways had to overcome!!" instead of really feeling like it ever sympathized with the Native perspective of trying to defend against colonialism. So that sucked. Also all the rhetoric about how obedient the Chinese workers were was rather unfortunate.

The Chinese and Native people never got humanized the way the (clearly pretty terrible!) white men leading the project did. And the way some of the white men's horribleness was casually brushed aside in a single sentence was appalling too, like how the wife of one of them was afraid of him whenever he came home, and this is portrayed as an example of how obsessed he is with the railroad instead of an example of how he is a TERRIBLE PERSON.

So yeah. The railroad chapter was the worst for this kind of stuff, because racism and sexism is apparently particularly front-and-centre when talking about 19th century US, but the book as a whole is kinda like that. (I mean, the author has the sort of mindset that leads her to use the terminology of "man" to refer to humans!)

And the other thing is how not all these projects were like...good ideas? I'm thinking particularly of the Great Eastern. And yet the book has nothing but good to say about all of this, as if the massive ego of white men to take on ridiculously outsized projects and succeed on the backs of the dead/injured lower classes is an admirable trait or something. And several of these projects are inescapably colonialist in nature: The Great Eastern, with its Australia intentions; the US railroad with its western expansionism; the Panama Canal, which takes place entirely in Panama and yet there are maybe two sentences about Panamanians (one of which is an offhand mention of the fact that the manmade* lake floods lots of villages) because the entire project is so white-driven.

I did mostly enjoy reading the book though. I was particularly riveted by the chapter on the Bell Rock lighthouse. And I bet I would have also been particularly riveted by the sewer chapter if I didn't already know a lot of what it was discussing. And probably the Brooklyn bridge chapter would have been more interesting to me if I hadn't listened to a podcast episode on the same topic not too long ago that very deliberately focused much more on the experiences of the workers than on the chief engineers.

So in conclusion, if you don't mind a book written from the unexamined perspective of white colonialist patriarchy this book is worth a look. But really. Can't we please be over this kind of thing?


*I use this word consciously. It was men.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This is a novelized account of Mary Anning's life! Super exciting, yes? For those who are not massive dinosaur nerds, Mary Anning was a working-class woman in the early 19th century who was a fossil hunter and made some pretty significant finds (including ichthyosaur and plesiosaur fossils) and had a thorough understanding of what she found, which were really important in the development of scientific thought on the history of life on earth. She was very knowledgeable and capable, but of course never seen in the same light as the educated high-class men who talked with her, studied her fossils, and published papers on them.

This book was a very enjoyable read. It's from the perspective of two women, in alternating chapters - Mary Anning, and her friend Elizabeth Philpot who was also a fossil collector.

I liked the generally female focus of the book, and how the important relationship was always the friendship between Mary and Elizabeth as opposed to with any of the men who come in and out of their lives. And I like how it legitimizes these women's interest in and role in the scientific discourse of the time.

But I also felt like it did a bit of a disservice both to the friendship and to Mary's character.

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This book is a very solid 3/5. Just the right amount of interesting that I was engaged whenever I listened to it, but not so engaging I was tempted to listen to it in times other than when walking places or doing the dishes. Perfect audiobook choice.

It's a nonfiction book written by a woman about her experiences traveling/living in Alaska around 1900 for 18 months. It is, shall we say, very much of its era. For example: I was amazed at how casually racist she could be about the native peoples while at the same time having a great deal of respect and caring for a number of native individuals. But overall I was pretty impressed by May, though I never grew particularly fond of her. Being a woman in gold-rush Alaska at that time was clearly not easy or comfortable, and she worked HARD, and seemed to be overall very pleased with her experiences despite various difficulties.

I was glad this book was rather more personal than the last 19th century woman's travel memoir I read (the one about the woman who went to Australia). But again I am deeply curious about aspects of the author's life that were elided over. May is a married woman, but the reason for her traveling for such long periods of time without her husband was never explained, and whenever she talked about her "dear ones" at home it always seemed to be in reference to her family of origin (her mother in particular) and never her husband. So I'd be interested to know more about their relationship - why she doesn't seem interested in talking about him much, and why he's okay with her being so independent, and all that. She talks about this for like one sentence in the introduction and that's ALL. Also also: May mentions in her introduction that there are aspects of her experiences that were far greater trials that she doesn't write about, and I'm definitely interested to know what these were.

(the other thing I want to know: DAMMIT MAY YOU CAN'T TELL THE STORY ABOUT THE CAPTAIN WHO WAS LOST IN A SNOWSTORM AND NOT LET THE READER KNOW WHETHER THE FOUR NATIVE PEOPLE WHO WERE TRAVELING WITH HIM ALSO MADE IT OUT OKAY.)

Unrelated to the book itself, but I just had to share: I got the audiobook from Librivox, and when I started listening to it I started helplessly giggling right away, because the reader sounded SO EXACTLY in intonation like a tv/radio announcer type person and it was just so incongruous in an audiobook narrator! (I got over it, and actually quite appreciated the quality of the reader - she's definitely one of the better Librivox readers I've listened to - but it was very disconcerting at first!)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This book wasn't QUITE what I was expecting it to be. It's a nonfiction book written by a woman in the 1850's about her time in Australia, and I was expecting it to be something of a personal travelogue. And I mean it was very partly that, but mostly it was written as a source of information for people in England who were considering going to Australia themselves, so it was very focused on details of geography and economy and so forth, and not at all focused on her personal life.

The most extreme example of how completely Clacy neglects to talk about her personal life is that in one of the last chapters when she is to set sail for England again she mentions offhand in a single sentence that the reason for her travel back is that she is to be married and then the trip home will be the wedding-trip. So APPARENTLY she meets a guy while in Australia, falls in love, is engaged, and gets married, and we don't hear a THING about any of this. Gosh.

Ah well, for what it was, the book was not bad. Though I rather think it would be of more interest to people who are familiar with current Australia and can make comparisons, or people who are familiar with pre-decimalization British currency so that they can make any sense whatsoever of all the details of costs that Clacy gives.

The book was extremely Victorian, right down to a heartstring-tugging orphan girl. Also, hilariously, in an early chapter she is explaining things that make it difficult to sleep her first night in Australia and the paragraph goes as follows:

Dogs (Melbourne is full of them) kept up an incessant barking; revolvers were cracking in all directions until daybreak, giving one a pleasant idea of the state of society; and last, not least, of these annoyances was one unmentionable to ears polite, which would alone have sufficed to drive sleep away from poor wearied me.


I AM SO CURIOUS WHAT THE UNMENTIONABLE ANNOYANCE WAS. And also why she felt the need to mention that this annoyance existed when she had no intention of disclosing the details. I would think it would have something to do with sex, except that her accommodations for the night are a tiny building where all the gentlemen of her party are sharing one room, and she shares the bedroom (and bed) of the mistress of the house. So there's no rough Melbournians in the building to be having shocking and noisy sex.

It's also Victorian in its opinions of race, so, you know, there's that. There seems to me actually more casual racism in this book than in the confederate civil war diary I recently read!

Clacy includes a lot of anecdotes/stories of other people; I'm not sure how much to actually believe all of them, especially the ones she hears of from other people instead of seeing for herself. But there's one story of a woman she meets that I absolutely LOVE. The woman in question spends a bunch of time crossdressing and it is great. I would be very interested in a whole book about Harriette's life because she sounds like a rather more interesting person than the author of this book.

(If you want to read just Harriette's story, it's here, the first part of chapter nine on project gutenberg)

The book as a whole was remarkably well-balanced on the subject of whether or not one should make the trip to Australia. It includes good factual details of what to expect, and makes it clear that you can't just assume you'll strike it rich, and that you'll have to work hard, and deal with some fairly rough and dangerous circumstances, but also that things aren't hopeless and for a certain type of person the trip may be worthwhile.

All in all, though the book wasn't everything I hoped it to be, it was still an interesting and worthwhile read.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This book is a real diary written by a young woman between 1862-1865 (with most of the entries being in 1862-3), talking about her experiences in the US Civil War. Sarah kept her diary as a place to write all the thoughts and feelings that it wouldn't be appropriate for her as a lady to ever speak out loud. And it is fascinating.

Oh, it can get kind of tedious at times - a certain amount of repetition of sentiment, some occasional unclarity that makes it hard to follow exact events, and a huge cast of characters it can be hard to keep straight and who she doesn't always bother to properly introduce/explain. But overall Sarah writes very well, and as a look into the thoughts of a Southern girl living through the war, it is very compelling.

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
The title is somewhat misleading - only about half the book takes place on the farm, and she's only there for a few months. But that's okay because the title successfully convinced me to read the book, and the book is great. It's the letters home of a young woman traveling through North America for six months in 1882 with her sister.

So it begins by detailing their travels from England to North America, and then the visits to various eastern US cities, and train ride out west, until eventually they reach Manitoba. They spend several spring/summer months on their brother's farm 17 miles out from Winnipeg, and spend most of this time working very hard on the farm. Then they move on further west to hang out in the Rockies and admire scenery and learn about mining. And then they go home.

The thing that struck me most is how cheerful the author is. She's working hard, and doing some pretty uncomfortable things, and yet her outlook is always positive - she's having the time of her life on this trip and nothing will stop this being the case.

I'm very curious about more of the backstory of this woman and her sister and their trip. Why did they decide to make this trip? Why did their family feel okay letting these two young women do all this traveling on their own? And so forth. She's clearly from a high-class background, what with all the letters of introduction they have to important people, and the money to make this trip, and all that. And they've never done anything like having to cook for themselves before going on this trip, which seems to have been something of a steep learning curve in terms of doing things for themselves.

The writing is charming and full of lots of great details and a definite sense of humour. I thoroughly enjoyed it. (My one warning would be that there are a few bits of period-typical racism.)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I FINALLY FINISHED IT. I've been reading this book on and off for the last four months and I'm very proud of myself for sticking with it and getting to the end. Because the thing is, it IS a very good and interesting book, it's just also extremely informationally dense and not always presented in ways that are easy for a layperson to digest.

This book (volume 1) covers the history of Poland from its beginning up to its disappearance at the third partitioning at the end of the 18th century. And mostly what I learned is that Polish history is REALLY COMPLICATED. I mean, I knew that already? But now I know it more viscerally.

I was a fan of the author right from the preface where he talks about how any historian has biases and then proceeds to lay out what perspectives he's coming from so you know what biases to read around when it comes to reading his book. GOOD WORK DUDE.

And the author clearly knows what he's talking about when it comes to Polish history. There's SO MUCH careful historical detail including lots of things like quotes from primary sources (like letters and so forth).

My two main complaints about the book would be the following:

One - it is structured ALMOST chronologically but NOT QUITE. So it's, like, organized by topic and the topics are organized chronologically. Which is just the worst because it meant I was CONSTANTLY getting confused as to what happened when in relation to other things and so I wasn't able to properly see the ways in which events and situations affected each other. Urgh.

Two - he kept on talking about events by talking about one specific person after another. And it's like, way to lose sight of the forest for the trees. It just became a whole clutter of details that I couldn't see how they were supposed to fit together because all the dudes (almost all of the people talked about were dudes) just blurred into each other and I often couldn't tell WHY the author had chosen to tell us about this particular dude. This was worst in the chapter on diplomacy, which was basically "let me tell you about one diplomatic personage after another" and I'm just like OKAY BUT TELL ME WHY THIS MATTERS. This was the chapter I got really bogged down in and put aside the book for several months straight.

But other than those issues it is a very good book! Just...maybe not intended for the layperson who comes into the book knowing very little about Poland at all.

Some of the things I found particularly interesting:

- Reading about the structure of a medieval european society that is distinctly different from the generic middle ages one generally hears about! Among other things: even their way of doing heraldry is TOTALLY DIFFERENT. And super fascinating! The bit about Polish heraldry was definitely one of the bits where I was most riveted. Heraldic clans that have nothing to do with who you're related to or anything else comprehensible! aww yeah!

- Learning about the economic and societal importance of the Vistula River

- getting more of a sense of just how intertwined with each other basically all of europe is and always has been

- and of course the partitioning of Poland. (Hi Feuilly, yes, I get why you care so much now!)

The chapter on the three partitionings of Poland was the last chapter in this volume and it was a very strong way to end the book. It was RIVETING. But also let me quote you a paragraph:

In the last resort, of course, all such moral protests are distinctly double-edged. As Bismarck was wont to point out, the partitions of Poland were no more reprehensible, and no less, than the Polish partitions of Ruthenia in the fourteenth century, or of Prussia in the ffifteenth. The were no worse, or better, than the colonial partitions of Asia, Africa, and America, which all the European powers were about to undertake. All states are created by force, and all come into being by cannibalizing their predecessors. The special sense of outrage which attended the fate of the Polish Republic was partly due to the fact that European princes had eaten a fellow European.


AWW YEAH, what a good paragraph.

In conclusion, yes I kind of want to read the second volume (covers up to sometime in the early 1980's, when Norman Davies was writing), but also I don't want to spend four months reading the second volume. I think I shall leave well enough alone and be content with just volume one.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
The book has valuable information, but it was not optimally organized. The author chose to organize the information according to specific regions in Poland as opposed to ordering his history chronologically. It wasn't always even chronological within a region. What this structure meant was that since a fair amount of information was similar/the same between regions, with only minor variations, I got EXTREMELY confused because everything ran together. So I got something of a vague sense of what was going on in Poland wrt the Mennonites, but I never felt like I actually UNDERSTOOD the events and how various things played into one another. And it didn't help that the author has rather a dry writing style that made it hard for me to keep myself focused on reading.

The last bit of the book is a sort of a travel guide and for that part I can't speak to its quality because I've never been to the area. Though probably a lot of the info (eg hotel info) is very out of date.

Some of the things I was interested to learn include:
- OH FINALLY an explanation for why so-called Russian Mennonites (actually Dutch) speak German! (OTOH now I need an explanation for why people in certain areas of Poland speak German. My knowledge of eastern European history and geography and culture is....limited, to put it kindly.)
- a knowledge of what the land in these areas of Poland is like means it makes SO much more sense when trying to understand why TPTB were so welcoming of the Mennonites - the Mennonites in question are Dutch, OBVIOUSLY they have experience with how to deal with lowlands that are constantly being flooded!
- I'm fascinated by how easily quite a lot of these Mennonites acquiesced when their military exemption was rescinded. Yes, a bunch of them left to go elsewhere, but a bunch of them (notably in Gdansk) were just like "yeah cool whatever"
- awww Mennos and mutual aid ♥ COMMUNITIES SUPPORTING EACH OTHER
- dear God I know nothing of European history. Why were my high school history classes so terrible, and why were there not more required history classes? (I give myself a pass for university because a double major does not leave much/any space for electives)
- HELP I NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE PARTITIONING OF POLAND
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I am unimpressed by this book. The entire thing has this cutesy ~ooh so romantic~ tone that's all about how you the reader CLEARLY wish you lived in Jane Austen's time.

UM NO THANK YOU.

Here, let me quote you a bit of the introduction:

How to explain the sheer tingling joy one experiences when two interesting, complex, and occasionally aggravating characters have at last settled their misunderstandings and will live happily ever after, no matter what travails life might throw in their path, because Jane Austen said they will, and that's that? How to describe the exhilaration of being caught up in an unknown but glamorous world of balls and gowns and rides in open carriages with handsome young men? How to explain that the best part of Jane Austen's world is that sudden recognition that the characters are just like you? If you are nodding, Gentle Reader, this book is for you.


I should have just abandoned the book after reading this paragraph instead of going on to read THE ENTIRE BOOK.

This is clearly a book written by someone who sees Austen as nothing but a writer of romances. I do enjoy the happily ever afters, but I don't read for the "glamorous" set-pieces and characters that are just like me. I don't actually identify with any of Austen's characters -- I admire that Austen manages to make characters that are so recognizably themselves, full and entire human beings that are distinct enough that they clearly AREN'T just a reader-stand-in. And talking about Austen's glamorous world? UM NO Austen was writing some PRETTY BITING SOCIAL COMMENTARY about her world in and amongst the love stories.

This kind of romanticisation of the past (of ANY era of the past) really bugs me, not least because it a) decomplexifies the reality of history and b) inevitably involves imagining yourself in the position of the people of privilege.

So anyways. There's some decent information in here, but all couched in that obnoxious ~ooh so romantic don't you wish you were there~ tone.

The most admirable thing about this book is that it has a really great sewn binding, none of this flimsy slice-and-glue crap.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
HAHAHA OH VIDOCQ WHAT. <-- my reaction to nearly everything that happened in this book.

What I read was an abridgement, alas, as it was the only version my library had, so I don't know how it compares to the actuality of the full memoirs. But the version I read went like so. Cut for spoilers. )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Riiight so there are some things I've been wanting to reply to but I am going to POST HERE ANYWAYS because otherwise I will fall back into that awful trap of never posting I was in before and we don't want that.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the declaration of war from the US on Britain, a war now known as the War of 1812. It's been a subject of minor conversation for a little while during the lead-up to this anniversary, since I live in Southern Ontario, which was kind of an important location in the war.

So I spent last night with my family watching a PBS documentary about the War of 1812, as one does. It was really quite illuminating! I mean, I could clearly tell that it was an American production, but I was impressed with how thorough its attempts to be unbiased were, and I think it was fair to all parties involved.

It's not a war that gets a lot of coverage in history classes at school, at least as far as I've encountered, and both Canadians and Americans tend to be pretty muddled as to what actually happened in the war, both sides insisting they won with no real knowledge of the war to back themselves up. After watching this, it's a lot more clear to me. (spoiler: nobody won!)

The other thing I found interesting about watching this documentary was discovering that I'm, um, possibly a bit more patriotic than I thought? I KNOW, RIGHT? Canadians don't like to talk about being patriotic! But. I spent a bunch of time while watching analyzing my reactions. And through the whole thing I could feel myself working to try and rationalize why the Canadian side was clearly more in the right in their actions, and I had to actively work at it to see the events in an unbiased way. (So work on it I did, because I approve of nonbias.) So. Given that Americans spend a LOT more time actively rah-rah-rah-ing notions of patriotism and holding up their country as some sort of ideal (hullo, American exceptionalism), it is kind of no wonder that bias creeps into a lot of American narratives about their history or their current actions! Sigh.

Anyways, here's a (quite simplified, possibly over-simplified) summary of what happened:Cut because not everybody cares )

(May I just say, on a side-note, I find it vastly amusing that in the discussion of the Battle of Queenston Heights, MacDonnell was not mentioned? As Stan Rogers says, not one in ten thousand knows his name....) (I know, I know, MacDonnell is not actually a particularly important player in the larger picture of the War of 1812 unlike Brock, and I wouldn't expect a relatively short overview like this documentary to mention him. But I'll get my kicks where I like, thanks very :P)

HI Y'ALL.

Apr. 21st, 2012 07:50 pm
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I'm back! Again! And ugh, let's see if I can STAY back this time? I hope so! I LIKE being engaged in discussions with awesome people, I LIKE feeling free to post my random thoughts and feelings whenever I have them, I LIKE BEING HERE. I just have issues sometimes.

But I'm calling another amnesty for myself for the last few weeks, because I'm pretty sure that's kind of NECESSARY, and LET'S TRY THIS AGAIN.

And now some thoughts and feelings of mine that have built up while I've been away!


Thing One: YOU GUYS! [personal profile] sylvaine just -- ahaha, I say just, this is a good indication of how unparticipatory I've been with the internet of late -- did a PODFIC of ONE OF MY FICS!!!! (The Death of Each Day's Life, a short fic about Sleeping Beauty's relationship with sleep, post-waking up.) It is ridiculously flattering to have this happen, AND ALSO Sylvaine did a stellar job of reading it, and you should totally go take a listen. It is super cool!


Thing Two: So. Me watching John Green's Crash Course: World History is... one quarter learning interesting new history stuff, one quarter enjoying the charming script and graphics and John Green's John Green-ness, and half keeping a watchful eye to make sure that CRASH COURSE AGREES WITH MY TOTALLY CORRECT OPINIONS ABOUT HISTORY. So far it's doing pretty well! The emphases aren't always where I would put them, but overall, I approve! (Of course, it is hindered by its short format; each episode is about 10-12 minutes long, which is not very much time to cover a subject in appropriate depth. I understand and make allowances for this fact.) In conclusion, you should watch it, because it is great.


Thing Three: Apparently a theme for this post's Things is Awesome Stuff You Should Watch And/Or Listen To, because HERE IS ANOTHER REC. HUSBANDS THE WEBSERIES YOU GUYS. It is like someone was like, you know what the internet needs? Charmingly and hilariously and well written and acted low-budget short videos about one of the best possible fannish tropes! AND THEN THEY DID IT. The trope: accidental drunken vegas gay wedding. YES. And that sounds awesome, I know, and then it is EVEN BETTER THAN IT SOUNDS. I love it so much. YOU SHOULD WATCH IT TOO! And then cry with me about the fact that the second season isn't till SEPTEMBER.


Thing Four: Okay, nope, moving on from that theme to something else. Namely: WHY do I keep reading hockey rpf? It is full of people who do terribly embarrassing things all the time, and also lots of badly-researched concussions! Two things I have a lot of trouble dealing with!


Thing Five: Gosh. I've been poking around my old abandoned WIP drafts from about two years ago, and it is just CRINGING ALL THE TIME with me, because I was so much worse at writing two years ago. I know I'm nothing like brilliant yet, but it is so clear to me that I have made actual progress, and that's a really shiny happy feeling. I am IMPROVING. I am GETTING BETTER. The more I write and the more I read and the more I beta and the more I am betaed, the better I get! How heartening. :)

(of course, it also makes me get squirmy feelings about wanting to take down my older fics because WHAT IF PEOPLE ARE JUDGING ME BECAUSE OF THEM, but I know how sad I get when other people delete fics so I shall continue to restrain myself.)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Dear and lovely people, I come to you with a fic that needs to exist, and if YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN, then you will make me very very happy! And if you can't, but you do have thoughts about what ought to happen, PLEASE DO tell me your thoughts in the comments!

This is where the idea comes from: if John Sheppard is the best boyfriend a sentient city has ever had, what does that mean for OTHER sentient cities?

So! Now I really want the Trojan war space AU, where Troy is a sentient spaceship/space-station/space-CITY TYPE THING OF SOME SORT. Who would you ship Troy with? How would that relationship go? Would this make the story of the Trojan war even more tragic? (I AM GUESSING YES.) Unless Troy and, uh, one of the other city-state spaceships fall in love and decide SCREW IT on this whole war thing? Or maybe something else happens? I do not know!

Basically: TELL ME MORE about the Trojan war space AU with sentient cities! In whatever direction you think such a story ought to go!
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
The last couple of nights I decided to do some mending, which meant tv that doesn't take a lot of mental effort, or a lot of actual looking at the screen. So: I've now seen the second three episodes of I, Claudius! It continues to be a show that is a) clearly from a few decades ago, b) hilariously low-budget, and yet c) actually quite good.

I like how the show is packaged in a way that makes it clear they don't think spoilers are an issue. The back of each dvd box gives a plot summary of each episode. And I do mean summary, not teaser: it tells you all the major plot twists of each episode. Because of COURSE you're already familiar with who Livia's killed and how, or whatever! Good times. So: Livia continues to be quite extraordinarily manipulative and deadly and power-hungry, everybody else continues to die, and I'm having a good time rediscovering how much I actually know about this period in history. Like: I actually knew BEFORE IT HAPPENED how Livia killed her husband!

Unrelated to the tv show, I am so grateful I know how to sew. I think sometimes in dismay about people in the world who have never been taught, and would thus find even something simple like reattaching a button to be intimidatingly difficult. Knowing how to sew makes clothes last SO much longer, because you can just FIX them when there's a minor problem! Probably a quarter of my skirts have had to be mended by me at some point -- but because I could mend them without problem, they're still going strong, still look fantastic and beautiful, and I can still wear the hell out of them.

Sewing is an important life skill, and one that is not taken seriously enough!

I actually learned a new way of mending tears the other night. I learned it from Mara who learned it from an acquaintance of hers. It looks better and works better than what I was doing before and basically I'm really happy with it. ONGOING LEARNING, and the PASSING ON OF FOLK KNOWLEDGE. It is the best, and it is IMPORTANT!

Now that I'm done the straightforward mending it is time to work on the more complicated stuff in my mending box. Like the skirts that need panels replaced. Or the skirt that needs gores added, which I need to cannibalize from the fabric of a dress that no longer fits me. Or the knit dress I want to turn into a skirt. Or the pants (!!! Yes, I own the occasional pair of pants, though they don't get much use) that needs its waist redone because the elastic died and besides I don't want it to be an elastic waist.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (DW: Master: hello madness)
Jack Layton is dead. I can't even.

Other people are saying far more eloquent things than I could, so I will leave it there.

Here, have a recs-set of HAPPY THINGS:

every aching old machine, by [livejournal.com profile] longtime_lurker. Bandom; Pete/Patrick. OLD MEN IN LOVE.

Dolphin-Borne, by [livejournal.com profile] carmarthen. The Eagle/Dinotopia; Esca, Cottia, Marcus. DINOTOPIA FUSION.

The Adventures of Lily and Severus (BEST BUDS), by [livejournal.com profile] theopteryx. Harry Potter; Lily, Severus. ADORBS WEE COMIC.

Public Displays of Affection, by [archiveofourown.org profile] philomytha. Vorkosigan; Cordelia/Aral, Alys/Simon. MIDDLE-AGED PEOPLE IN LOVE.

untitled, by dakotaaaa. Doctor Who; Amy/Rory. ADORBS DRAWING OF KISSING AND BUNKBEDS.

Choice of Broadsides. NAPOLEONIC WAR CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE, WHERE BEING QUEER IS AN OPTION. ALSO IT IS RIDICULOUSLY FUN.

Lose My Breath, by [livejournal.com profile] deirdre_c. White Nights; Kolya/Ray. Vid, to a source you don't need to be familiar with (and it's not just me saying this). TWO DUDES. DANCING. IT IS AMAZING.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
So I keep on writing stuff up and not posting it, because
1. LJ's been having issues and it feels WEIRD to post something to DW that doesn't crosspost to LJ
2. I have some comments I need to reply to and also other people's posts I want to reply to and I always feel weird posting when that happens, like, "lalala I have enough time to write up ridiculously long posts but I don't care enough about my friends to actually engage in conversation" -- in other words, it makes me feel very self-centred.
-1. Except for the fic I just posted because for some reason fic falls in another category of thing, and it's okay to just post it. Because it's DONE and that's EXCITING and I want to SHARE.

But I am posting this non-fic post anyways because
1. It feels weird to not post stuff at all
2. I keep on writing stuff up and I CANNOT SHUT UP ABOUT THINGS, okay! I am very bad at not expounding at length on whatever is occupying my brainspace! SO NOW I AM SHARING IT.
3. And anyways it looks like LJ might be back? Although that still doesn't excuse me from the commenting thing. (ETA: apparently LJ's giving problems again, so never mind this bit!)
4. WHATEVER.


Thing One: I haven't been posting as much about bandom lately, but HAVE NO FEAR (or maybe BE VERY AFRAID), my ridiculous adoration continues unchecked. I am reading ALL OF THE FIC (...I am actually seriously just going through the "bandom" section of AO3 without bothering to filter by pairing or character or anything. YES I AM AWARE THAT I COULD NEVER ACTUALLY GET THROUGH ALL THE BANDOM FICS POSTED TO AO3. THAT DOESN'T MEAN I CAN'T MAKE A VALIANT EFFORT). I am listening to Panic and MCR on constant repeat and falling more and more in love with the music. I am accidentally naming unrelated fics in unrelated fandoms after lines from Panic songs, for crying out loud, when the song isn't even particularly related to the fic. (PAY NO ATTENTION to the title of that Eagle fic I just posted *cough*).

So LET'S MOVE ON, as I have nothing coherent or interesting to say on this topic.

Thing Two: Okay I CAN'T EVEN. I was reading this fic the other day, I don't even remember what fic it was, or what it was about, some bandom au or something, the important thing is this: there was a brief off-hand one-sentence mention of "Gerard of Wales". And I just about killed myself laughing, because HELLO HISTORICAL ALLUSION. THAT MOST PEOPLE WOULDN'T EVEN NOTICE. Because GERARD WAY AS GERALD OF WALES will never not be a hilariously amazing idea. A++, author!

Thing Three: So apparently this post is going to be all about bandom, and X-Men can wait till next time. I've been listening to the first two MCR cds now too, instead of just obsessively repeating Danger Days and Black Parade. On the first listen-through I just heard noise, as I did on my first listen of Danger Days and Black Parade. But now I've been repeating them enough that I'm actually hearing them for what they are, so that's good. I've listened to them both about the same number of times, and have come to really like Three Cheers, but Bullets not quite as much -- as I keep listening to Bullets, I hear elements of stuff that I like but overall I'm not nearly as fond.

Which is fascinating! Because it proves that it's not just about how if you listen to something enough times you learn to like it -- there IS still an element of personal taste involved. So that's interesting! Although I'm disappointed that I don't like Bullets as much as the other albums. Ah well. At least there's three whole other albums to console me.

Thing Four: I've been thinking further about OTPs and me, given bandom's abrupt shattering of my usual way of functioning wrt OTPs. Okay. In most fandoms I have a specific pairing that I OTP pretty hard, and although I will sometimes read fic outside that OTP it generally involves at least one of the characters from the OTP because hey, I love the characters, but that means that although I might enjoy the fic, it is with a background feeling the entire time that the character is betraying their true love.

In bandom, on the other hand, there are some pairings that I particularly enjoy reading (Brendon/Spencer, Gerard/Frank, Pete/Patrick), but if those pairings are broken up I don't care in the slightest. And I'm also just as happy to read about any of the other characters. It's like, I truly believe that love is possible in any permutation or combination of characters in bandom! IDEK, but it's magical.

I have no idea if I will succeed in carrying over this attitude towards pairings into my future fandoms, butI will be interested to see!

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