Aug. 9th, 2017 08:43 am
lydamorehouse: (swoon)
 It's Wednesday already again. It was a good week for reading, probably because of our extended stay up at our friends' cabin.  So, stuff I read:

Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey. A book I didn't expect to like, but ended up falling into easily.  It's about a Russian-Canadian witch and berserker/werewolf/vampires (?) I'm not quite sure how to explain the Kin, and that's the part I figured that I'd find stupid, but I really didn't.  It's one of those pseudo-literary novels where it's kind of also about families, both blood and made.  I ended up enjoying it.  

Then, I read half of Emmi Itäranta's The Weaver, because I was hoping for a sequel to The Memory of Water, which I really loved. Alas, this is not what I was looking for and so am giving up on it.  It's just a little bit TOO poetic for me.

I also read a graphic novel called Just So Happens by Fumio Obata. It's about a Japanese woman who has moved to London to pursue a career in some kind of design work. She's struggling with settling in, and then gets the call that her father died in a hiking accident.  She returns to Japan to try to figure out if she still belongs there.  It's kind of a non-story, in that nothing is resolved.  Our heroine never entirely feels at home anywhere.  The art is pretty, though.  It's a fast read. 

I got through half of the Pandora Hearts manga volumes that I took out of the library. (I took out six, read three so far). Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki is about... huh, how do I describe this thing? There's a rich/tragic little lordling named Oz, who gets caught up in a supernatural adventure, probably because he's the key to some mystery involving "the Abyss," and ends up in a contract with a devil.  I'm still not sure how I feel about this series. I watched the first 7 episodes of the anime on Hulu and am finding it compelling... enough. I think my problem is with the main character.  His daddy issues really just don't interest me, and my sympathy for royal dukes only goes so far.  I'm kind of the opposite of your average romance reader (at least the ones who seem to get a lot of books targeted at them, at any rate,) in that you really have to work overtime to get me to give ANY f*cks about rich aristocrats and their "tragedies."  Just slapping a title on a character does nothing for me--well, other than infuriate me. Luckily, our poor little rich boy has a companion that I like better. Sadly, it's turning out that he's a lost prince with a tragic backstory, too, so possibly there's no one in this story that will appeal to me. The only thing that's keeping me hanging on ATM is that there's a scene with the character I like (Raven) wherein his overlord accuses him of feeling "abnormally" towards Oz, which is Japanese code for gay, so here's hoping that Raven is queer AF.

Hoping a manga/anime character will turn out to be canonically gay never ends well, so probably this is an exercise in frustration all around.  Ah, well, I have nothing else to watch while doing the dishes currently, so I will keep with this.

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
 Oops, I forgot that yesterday was "What Are You Reading? Wednesday."  This week has been very weird for me.  But, enough of that.  I will simply move my Wednesday list to today!

I picked up a nonfiction book at the library called Gnosticism and Other Vanished Christianities by Richard Valantasis.  I've been interested in the Gnostics since reading Elaine Pagels, plus this one promised to talk about other wacky early Christian cults.  I'm about halfway through the book and I'm a little disappointed in the surface treatment of everything, but the this is a publication, so I probably should have expected as much.

Otherwise, I've been doing my usual yaoi reading. I read After Morning Love by Fujii Mitori, which I actually liked better than most.  I feel like the official translator missed the boat with the title though, I think you'd get a slightly better sense of the plot if it were called, "The Morning After Love," just a very slight change that tells you that this starts with the classic, "Wait, why am I hungover? Who is in my bed?" and leads to romance.

But, I speak almost no Japanese, so, weirdly, no one has hired me to be a translator.

Speaking of Japanese study, I've been terrible about keeping up with it, BUT I started watching "Pandora Hearts" on recommendation and I actually had to pause at one point because I distinctly heard the hero ask, "Kimi wa?"  (Who are you?) Given my native-speaker Japanese teacher's reaction to someone offering 'kimi' as a word for 'you,' (he turned BEET RED and literally could not speak for several seconds. I had to be the one to tell the student, "Um, that's a little rude? You've shocked Tetsuya-sensei."), I thought--okay, either this person is extremely rude or... maybe we're supposed to presume previous intimacy, despite the fact he doesn't recognize this demon-woman?  

"Anata wa?" is even fairly rude for an opening gamut, in my understanding. I feel like a polite person would ask, "Dare desu ka?" (lit: "Who is?') leaving off any rude pronouns.... which are most of them, so there you go.

To be fair, this guy is freaked out, and anime heroes tend to be rude as a rule (at least in shounen). Ichigo, for instance, is not someone you want to learn Japanese from because he starts out using the pronoun "tamee" which is akin to shouting out 'Yo, a$$hole' to people you meet. But 'tamee' hear it a lot in anime speech.  You hardly ever hear 'kimi' spoken (or rather I should say, *I* haven't noticed it as often since I started paying attention) except in love songs, where it seems to be used almost exclusively, because of the intimacy it implies. My gut sense of 'kimi' is that it's not the normal sort of word you'd use WITH A STRANGER.

I had a long talk about this with another friend of mine who is studying and eventually, with the help of Google, we learned that 'kimi' as a you-pronoun can be used by men of a high status when addressing an underling without being considered rude AF.  Apparently, in the right context, 'kimi' implies a strong hierarchy, and, thus, tells us a LOT about this character, in that he can presume that the person he's addressing--a STRANGER--is automatically and significantly below him in the social pecking order.  This fits with the character, in that he is presented as a lordling of some sort, though after this pronoun use, I'm going to have to assume PRINCLING of some sort, or possibly even THE prince of all the land.

Things you can glean listening to a program in a language you barely speak.... kind of fun. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, because I am absolutely NOT one of those anime fans who will lecture a fellow fan that subs (subtitles) are superior in every way to dubs (dubbed)--BUT, I will suggest to anyone who is able to handle /comfortable reading while watching to give subs a try once, if you never have, because I do believe that it is possible to pick up extra content subconsciously.  Obviously, the above is an example that only works for someone like me, who is trying to learn the language.  BUT, previous to this, I FELT things about some characters in "Bleach" based only on my impression of their voices--their inflection, etc.  Without knowing ANYTHING about Japanese, I picked up on the fact that one character had an unusual accent (Gin for those in the know) and that it was likely Significant.  I do not know what they did with Gin's voice actor in English.  Ideally, American/Western voice actor casting would have a native-speaker on staff consulting about regional and class accents. (Please don't pretend we don't have class accents in American English. You KNOW what an upperclass East Coast accent is compared to a dirt-poor Southern drawl...) I know likely don't have a person like that on staff, but in my ideal world they would, because this is the stuff I feel you get by listening to the foreign language often enough, even without ANY study.

That being said, if, right now, you're feeling like I just dissed you because you prefer dubs.....  Honey, no!  I am so happy you're watching anime!!  I would never, ever tell you that you MUST do subs. If dubs is what works for you, yay!  I watched all of Full Metal Alchemist and Black Butler dubbed and J. Michael Tatum (the voice of Sebastian in the English BB) is an amazing dude and I would FIGHT anyone who says he's not an awesome, seductive Sebastian!

Besides, if you've been watching anime long enough, there used to be things you could ONLY get dubbed.  I have no idea what the original Starblazers sounds like, but my anime fan cred is strong because, kids, I was watching that LITERALLY before many of you were born: in 1978.  Deslock was my first anime husbando. 

Wow, this turns into a long screed. My apologies.  Gomen, gomen....
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 I was asked by SF Signals to join another "Mind Meld" to answer the question: "What was your favorite movies, books, video games, television, podcasts and other media that came out in 2014?"  

It will be a surprise to no one that anime and manga dominated my list:  MIND MELD: Favorite Genre Works 2014

I've linked here to my MangaKast reviews of a lot of the manga that I've been reading.  The ones that made the list that were new this year (by which I mean, of course, new in official English translation) were: Hitogatana (which actually isn't yet collected in English, but I liked it enough to want to include it), Gangsta, Deadman Wonderland, and What Did You Eat Yesterday?  

Anime for this year included two brand-new ones: Barakamon and Gekken-Shojo, Nozaki-Kun.

Neither are particularly science fictional, but they're both DEEPLY charming in their own ways.  Barakamon was my all-time favorite this year and it's about absolutely nothing at all.  That's not fair, of course.  There's a very strong story and  even wacky hi jinx but the pace and feel of it is extremely peaceful, which is what I enjoyed about it.  If you want to know more about the plot, check out the article. The short of it is that there's a calligraphy master who needs to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city (and mistakes he's made) to find his inner peace/inner art. Stuff happens, it's f*cking adorable an you should be watching it. (Who had this?  Hulu+ maybe? I don't think Crunchyroll had it, but I might be wrong.)

The other new, new anime I featured in my round-up was Gekken-Shojo, Nozaki-kun (Girl's Monthly, Nozaki-kun) which is wonderfully silly and really, really hard not to love.  Interestingly, this one is also about an artist, though this time our title hero, Nozaki, is a mangaka (writer/artist of manga) who happens to write and draw Girl's/shojo stories. The American analog would be discovering that a high school jock was secretly writing Harlequin Romances (of the super-thin serial kind). You can see the humor potential instantly, of course, but what I loved about this anime is that it could have ended up in the land of gender stereotypes, but instead worked hard to constantly flip expectations, types, etc. while also providing fairly real people that you could actually believe in and root for. (This one Crunchyroll has, for sure.)

The other anime I mentioned in the article were Yowapeda (or Yowamushi Pedal) and Free!, both of which were technically in their second seasons this year (both of which I watched on a pirate site, but I'm sure by now they're up on Crunchyroll).  But the second season of Yowapeda/Yowamushi Pedal only finished up last week, I think, so it's very current.  I love them both for very different reasons.  Free! (second and final season: "Eternal Summer") was bittersweet.  I'm not sure I've seen enough sports manga to know how typical it is to follow Third Year students through their final year of participation and spend much of the anime dealing with the whole idea of "Well, that was high school, so now what are you going to do??"  That made the show... almost heartbreaking in places.  And, of course, the other fun thing about Free! this year was that it was clear that the anime writers were very aware how GAY everyone thought this team was and there was a lot of teasing fan service to the point that I was constantly on Skype asking my friend, "Are they even pretending any more???"  which was actually quite fun.

Yowapeda/Yowamushi Pedal's second season is called "Grande Road' or something similar and it's the second and third days of the Inter-High race.  The entire season has been them racing, so that means there have been a lot of upsets, a lot of 'leave no man behind' moments, and general high tension. The first season has the distinction of actually making me cry.  This season less so, though we've gotten to know a lot more of the characters from the other teams.  It's still one of my favorites because Oonada is possibly the hugest dork in the history of dorks. This year my favorite scene involved Oonada following one of the rival team's captains basically because he thinks he's spotted a fellow otaku and even though this guy is a complete jerk to him Oonada just wants to talk anime.

Brother, I hear ya.

So, yeah, I mention a few other things in my review, but most of those I also discussed here (Guardians of the Galaxy movie and Ms. Marvel the Marvel comic book.)  

What about you?  Read, watch, listen to anything really good this year??

lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Okay, so I GUESS Detour is this weekend. Right. I kind of thought it was NEXT weekend, and I would have continued thinking so if I hadn't gotten a text from a friend that said, "Are you coming to Detour?" To which I said, "Yeah! Next weekend, right?" She wrote back, "No. Now..."

So I texted back, "Be there in a bit."

So I scrambled together my costume. This year I cross-played Ichigo. Luckily, I had made Zangetsu some time ago.


There was a surprising LACK of Bleach cosplayers at Detour this weekend, but I got a few pictures anyway.

Me and Rukia:


A blurry Final Release Uliquiorra who was trying to get into the elevator:

And... that was about it. I saw a Byakuya who was there from last year and one other Ichigo, but that was really it.

These two were awesome, though, L and Light (chained together!) What I liked about them was that L really had the movements down. He even walked with that funky slump, and Light carried an apple (so you know Ryuk was there, we just couldn't see him.):

There were, of course, a crap LOAD of SnK/Attack on Titan fans there. I mean, a [bleep]-ton. I didn't even bother trying to photograph them all, but there were two Annies there, though I said to the other one (with Zoe Hanji), "You look bigger on TV":



Part of all the SnK love, I think, had to do that Funamation was there showing off previews of their English dub Attack on Titan. Tomorrow, if I go, I'm just going to wear my hoodie.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Saturday morning Mason has swimming lessons, so, rather than negotiate the back and forth, he came with me to MarsCON.  I stopped by registration for my badge and bought Mason a day pass.

This was Mason's first ever con.  I thought for sure he'd hook up with his friend Molly and that'd be the last I'd see of him, but he ended up sitting in the back of the panel room, which was Kruschenko's, so there were comfy chairs in a kind of antechamber.  So Mason didn't even have to listen to us drone on about "Getting into the Mind of a Fanatic."  Actually, the panel was pretty good, though there were a lot of panelists and we veered into the NAZI analogy, despite [ profile] naomikritzer's valiant attempts to keep everyone on track.

The rest of the con was me showing Mason what a con is like.  Mason, being Mason, adored the demonstrations.  We watched a Korean sword martial art and we learned the difference between a Korean sword and a Japanese katana.  But, Mason and I were pretty excited to talk to the Sa Ba Nim of that dojon because, apparently, you get to learn sword at any belt.  We tried to win a sword, but, alas, we didn't get the prize.  I did, however, get to cut paper with a bokken.  That rocked.

Mason and I tried to go into the game room, but the rules of said game room kind of baffle me.  Like, it's not clear how one starts a game.  I presume that one can just sit at a table and open a game and people will join you, but every time we went in there were no open tables.  It was also unclear how one jumps in to a pre-running game, or even if one can.

So, we took some jelly beans and left.

Mason really loved the prop room, and if the picture ever makes its way through the aether fem my ridiculously un-smart phone I'll be posting a shot I took of Mason standing next to a very, very realistic looking Dalek.  Mason also really loved all of Umbridge's proclamations/rules from Harry Potter... and all of the Harry Potter props, actually.

Then when we came out of there the SCA people were doing a demo of their battles and Mason tried to watch that, but the SCA people were very... postalizing and kept wanting to TELL us things about their organization, armor, etc.  Mason just wanted to see the bashing of heads.

After that we just kind of killed time waiting for the Anime room party to start.  When it did, they'd started watching Wolf Children, which I adored.  Mason and I sat on the floor and ate girl scout cookies and commented along with everyone else.  This might be the moment that Mason realized that the world is filled with nerdy otaku JUST LIKE HIMSELF, because he was beaming through the film, his ears all perked up, like he finally felt, as the heroine of Wolf Children says, "like he found his pack."

Oh, and my furry friends?  YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS.  It will make you cry.  It made Mason and I cry, but damn it, I think it would be even more powerful for anyone in the furry fandom.  The basic message is not only 'you need to accept who you are," but also, "let your children be what they are."  And, bam! Right in the FEELS, if you know what I mean.

Also, I have to confess that they had an Anime quiz and Mason and I got THE ONE BLEACH QUESTION...


Mason says he knew the answer but didn't want to speak up.  Meanwhile, I wrote down the year that the Bleach Anime came out wrong.  I remembered it had a "4" in it, but didn't realize it was 2004 (I might have put down 1994).


I may have to leave the fandom in shame....

So, today I'm off to go back to the con by myself.  I think I'm going to miss having Mason there.  He's a good companion for these things.  He and I have already agreed that he'll come along for at least one day for the rest of these.... and I couldn't be more proud.  Leap, my little wolf child!  Leap!
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
After my post about the horribleness of fruitcake, my friend [ profile] empty_mirrors decided to send me DECENT fruitcake from the UK, where she's from.  The packages arrived earlier this week and included some other UK delicacies that we can't get 'round here, including Jelly Babies and Treacle (because Mason always hears about treacle in the Harry Potter books and had to know!)  We haven't had a tasting yet, because Shawn came down with a horrible case of the laryngitis crud that we've been passing around the household, and we wanted to wait and have a special UK day/tea where we tried ALL THE THINGS and it seems unfair with her snorfling and unable to taste much beyond her own mucous....

With any luck, that will be this weekend.  I plan to take may pictures and post all our reactions.

But, poor Shawn, this cold/laryngitis thing has been growing stronger with each person it attacks (like a shounen hero!), so she's been really knocked back, far worse than either Mason or I.  I'm still suffering a tiny bit--my sinuses are still runny and my throat hurts, but I'm otherwise mostly over it.

The issue of British food (and fruitcake) came up last Friday when I dined with the Wolves (the good folks at Sofa Wolf had me over when my friend and fellow writer Kyle Gold was in town.)  Turns out, the Wolves make their own figgy pudding, which is another one of those things that you always hear about, but... at least in my case, have never had.  So I slyly invited myself to some holiday gathering so I could taste it.  I mean, it sounds like some kind of sweet version of haggis!  You make it one year and let it... ferment?... age?... in a cold, dark place for OVER A YEAR????  Seriously, I can't wait.

I had a lovely time, as usual, with the Wolves.  Afterwards, Kyle and I have been emailing back and forth percolating on an idea for a furry-type novel for me.  Could be fun, is all I'm saying, and at this point, I have so very little to lose.

In fact, later this afternoon, I have scheduled a phone call with my agent that I'm kind of dreading.  It's one of those that could go either way.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Also, since I was sick, I've been neglecting my around the house duties.  Today I tackled a pile of dishes.  One of the things I like to do while doing the dishes is watch Anime on my iPad.  It sits nicely in the windowsill above the sink, so I can do my work and still read subtitles.  I've gotten through Full Metal Alchemist, Free!, Attack on Titan, and Samurai Champloo that way.  I've just started Death Note.  Death Note is different from a lot of other shounen Anime in that our hero is... kind of a villain.  No, not kind of... totally.  The basic premise is that a death god, a shinigami, has dropped his notebook , into which the names of the dead are written, into the Human World.  A bright high school boy named Light find it and discovers that he can kill people by writing their names, times of death, and cause into it.  His plan, of course, is to use it for GOOD.  He starts by picking off condemned criminals.  But, what's interesting about the story is that the slippery slope is VERY slippery and pretty soon we discover when the shinigami comes to track Light down, that our "hero" plans to create a new world and SET HIMSELF UP AS GOD.

I spend a lot of this show not sure who to root for.  It's like "Dexter," without the funny/interesting insights into human nature from the point of view of a sociopath. The only thing that's compelling about Light is how smart he is.  But he's DEVIOUS-smart, which is compelling, but also kind of... scary, especially now that Light is trying to save himself from discovery.  I like the show a lot, but it makes me remember why I'm not terribly fond of vigilante heroes, like Batman.

I know everyone loves Batman, but Batman has never been a favorite of mine (nor his Marvel analog Iron Man), because essentially Bruce Wayne (and Tony Stark) is a rich vigilante.  Both heroes use money to give them powers that allow them to operate beyond the law.  Both heroes believe they're serving justice.  In the Marvel and DC universes, it's very rare that either of them make a mistake and it's clear that we're meant to believe they're right, they *are* doing the right thing for the right reasons and filling a real need.  What's funny to me is that I'm a huge fan of two other rich vigilantes: the Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro, but in both those cases, the universe in which the heroes live is very clearly screwed-up and both heroes fight to protect those being harassed by corrupt governments.  You could make a case that Gotham is a corrupt government, but it's not usually portrayed that way OVERTLY.  Again, over in the Marvel Universe, the same could be said for New York (or LA, depending on if Tony is in the East Coast or West Coast Avengers at the time), but, you know, again not strictly obvious or overt....

I don't really know where I was going with this thought except to say that I guess shows like "Death Note" feel more honest to me, like a REAL exploration of what might happen if you have an intense sense of justice combined with the knowledge that sometimes the system fails to catch the bad guys/punish them properly.  And maybe some Batman story lines *have* dealt with this, I don't know.

I probably just don't like Batman because he has a butler.  Who has a butler in this day and age? (And yes, I KNOW some people still do, but do we LIKE them??)
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Last night my friend Rachel took some friends and I out to a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis' West End called Raku. We had sushi and sake. Our sake had an awesome name: onikoroshi, which the menu translated as 'demon slayer.' It was really tasty. I have to say my sake experience previous to this was very low. I bought a bottle once at a grocery store in ValParasio, Indiana, and it was, in point of fact, nothing to write home about. This sake might not SLAY any demons, but I could certainly see it creating a few... because tasted like floral scented water. I could have had way too much to drink very, very easily.

Luckily (and unluckily), Shawn stayed home last night because Mason was feeling under the weather, so I had to stay sober to drive--and, in case you didn't know this about me, I'm the lightest lightweight ever. Two sips of anything, even something most people don't think of as terribly potent, and I'm under the table muttering about 'dim shablows' and telling people 'I love ya, man.' Plus, as fun as that may sound, I'm actually one of those people for whom alcohol actually works as a depressant. I'm a very sad drunk.

At any rate, what I really want to post about was our sushi. Particularly this:


Naruto sushi! Weirdly, it did not contain ANY RAMEN....

It was a nice night. I handed off what I hope to become a 'seekrit project.' So... fingers crossed.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Right, so I started the Monday after a long weekend WITH NO COFFEE. Then, half-way to school, Mason calmly informs me that we've forgotten his backpack.


But, things are better now. I decided since Monday decided to SUCK LIKE A HOOVER, I would treat myself to a stop into my favorite coffee place, Claddaugh, and order a five dollar latte, which I almost never do any more. Claddaugh is a lovely place on 7th Street in the sort of outskirts of downtown St. Paul where you get the occasional crazy person who likes to sit in the warm coffeeshop. Today, as I waited for my to-go order, the crazy person in question shouted at random intervals nonsense about California. I couldn't tell what exactly he was talking about, but he didn't seem happy with that particular state of the union. My favorite part? Everyone ignoring him. I asked Mary, the coffee shop owner about him, and she shrugged and say, "Ah, he's harmless," and the guy sitting at the bar and I got into a discussion about how it's kind of nice the way coffee shops deal with the ocassional crazy. This guy was a regular, and people just sort of tuned out the outbursts. If anything, there was almost an air of protectiveness. "Him? Oh, he's OUR crazy." I told the guy at the bar about the time I was at Madison for WisCON and I was up early, as usual, and hanging out at the coffeeshop, Michelangelo's. A crazy guy there liked to randomly stand up and expound on how communists were in charge of the Interstate system and probably we were all going to hell because of it. Same as at Claddaugh. He was clearly enough of a regular that most people glanced up briefly when he started his speech, but then went back to reading their Saturday newspapers or playing Angry Birds on the iPhones.

After leaving Claddaugh, I came home to discover a request for an interview in my in-box. So I took a few minutes to answer the dozen or so questions and send it back. I got asked that ubiquitous question, "If they ever made a movie of your books, who would you cast...?" Normally, I hate that question because I don't watch enough TV or movies to even have a clue who's the new hottie superstar. But, I now have a defaut answer! J. Michael Tatum. He is, in fact, the only actor I know. True, he's currently best known as the voice of Sebastian in "Black Butler" and for his work in "Ouran Host Club," but, having met him, I can tell you, he'd make a fine Valentine or Sebastian in live-action. So, ta dah! I finally have a decent answer to that question. Granted, it makes me look perhaps a bit like a super-geek to name an Anime voice actor, but to which I say, "And your point...?"

The fun part of this story was that I was feeling brave so I texted J. Michael himself and told him this (through reasons that still somewhat baffle me, we exchanged phone numbers at the end of Gaylaxicon--apparently I didn't give him the impression I thought I did, which was, "Idiot Squeeing Fan Grrl"), and, anyway, instead of getting back, "And you are...?" He wrote back something very sweet which implied that he remembered me, but also made him seem like possibly the NICEST GUY ON EARTH. It's possible that he stared at his phone and thought, "Who the fuck is this?" but then shrugged and decided, "Well, you know, it never hurts to be nice," and then later went to the Googles to try to remember what possessed him to give his real phone number to someone in Minnesota who wasn't Anton... but, hey, it kind of made my day, regardless.

Thus cheered, I was able to make the return run to Mason's school to deliver the all-important backpack with "big mouth" (their planner thingie into which EVERYTHING OF SIGNIFICANCE goes,) and make a trip to the Ramsey County Public Library to begin to return the six thousand books that Mason took out at the beginning of Thanksgiving break. I also had to pay a nearly six dollar fine, because, well, for us, the break started at the beginning of the month and Ramsey County is evil and actually charges their juvenille patrons for overdue books.

In other exciting news, today is also going to be the day that I do something with all the leftover potatoes. You will be happy to know that I've started some potato bread. I'm a big fan of potato bread myself, even though I suspect my family will think much less of it than I do. It still only uses a cup of the stuff, so I will also be making knefla (a German potato/noodle-thing) for diner. That should take care of most of them. Perhaps I will also have to have one last gravy-slathered pile for a late lunch, too.

Whoot. Well, that's probably all the news that's fit to print. I will have to, at some point, write a recap of our Thanksgiving adventures. Suffice to say there was turkey (24 pounds of it), stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, brussel sprouts, and freshly baked French bread. Our friends the Jackson came so there was Boggle and puzzling and amazingly awesome company for several days. It's been a much quieter, sadder house without them. Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday because we actually have this lovely tradition of celebrating with the family we chose rather than the family we came from. I have no issues with my family of origin, mind, but it's really quite wonderful to gather people you've known and loved for years... people you picked, your friends... and hang out with them for a giant meal.
lydamorehouse: (ichimaru gin)

This weekend, while Mason and I were up at the cabin, it was very rainy. We decided that the best way to spend a lazy, rainy day was watching a little more Bleach. Imagine my surprise when we came across this scene:

In which Kenpachi Zaraki decides that he can no longer fight in his usual wild (though massively affective) style. Instead, he has to use the one form that the Head Captain insisted he learn. Guess what it is?

It's dropping the f**king sword, just like we did over and over in bokken class.


Now, if sensei Jon had said to me, "You know, Kenpachi uses this to defeat an Espada. It's worth knowing." I would have totally signed up to learn Aikdo forever.

lydamorehouse: (Default)
Shawn and I have been trying to watch the TV show "Grimm." We've DVRed it, so we have most of the episodes to date, though we haven't quite caught up yet. I WANT to like this show. I love a lot of the side characters, particularly Monroe, or, as someone (i09?) calls him, the "Pilates Wolf." He's a Big Bad Wolf, a Blutbatt, who is mostly reformed his ways, and who is an awesome enough character he totally deserves a spin-off. Because our hero, the Grim: Dull.

Dull. Dull. Dull.

As I complained on FB last night, dude has no superpowers. He has the second sight, but that's really all he's got. No grim reaper scythe, no zanpakto, nothing. In fact, in the episode that we watched last night his big ability was to bleed on to one of the big bads. Seriously. *I* can bleed.

People tell me this last Friday's episode actually involved a weapon and maybe "punched things up a notch", which it would be nice to see, because... man. Dude is also the world's worst detective. Like Batman in reverse.

But I end up watching for the side characters and because the universe of Grimm is weirdly compelling. Like, what's up with the French speaking captain? So, I'll keep watching --probably while complaining the entire time. But, hey, there's a long tradition of shouting at the TV in my family.

I've also been watching "Black Butler." I finished FMA (the 2004 version), and was thinking about starting up on "FMA: Brotherhood," but I just felt kind of burned out on Al and Ed for the moment. Anyway, I like "Black Butler"... it's sort of a creepy Anime version of Downton Abbey, with a demon butler, so that works for me. I will say though, that "His Butler, Escaping"... holy sh*t, can anyone say torture porn? Yowza! (And yet SOMEHOW there is no fan fic on Archive of Our Own yet.) Still, I find myself wishing that the story would go less into what's being served at tea, and more into what kind of demon Sebastian is, and his back story more and, like, why is the prospect of devouring little lord Phantomhive's soul worth all the hassle that little brat puts him through. I have been teased that some back story is coming (by Sebastian himself in the "next episode" teaser, but I've learned not to trust those after the corset scene... also, EEEK,), but we'll see if I'm really satisfied.

I'm about half way through Season 1, Part 2, for those who are interested. I also picked up the Manga from the library because someone I talked to implied that it was "darker" and that turned out to be untrue. It's almost verbatum to what's on the show. (Including the cut out scenes of food porn, which actually I find charming in both the Anime and the Manga. I just want more Sebastian.)

I have to say, in general, I need more information about the Japanese version of the grim reaper. It confuses me. Three shows I've watched have shinigami (aka death gods/grim reapers) in them: Bleach, Black Butler, and SoulEaters. I've only see the first episode of SoulEaters, but they seem to all be going to Grim Reaper Academy (am I right?) At any rate, I was really confused in Black Butler that the reapers seem to act as an intermediary between souls and heaven/hell (which seems pretty standard), but that there are also angels as well as demons. Is this typical of some mythology I'm missing? The shinigami seem to generally be non-partisan in that a reaper will deal with hell-bound and heavan-bound souls, and demons are clearly eaters of souls, but I am still not sure what the angel is up to in Black Butler (though I'm enjoying that she seems to be a villian of sorts.)

In other Real Life (tm) news, there isn't much to tell. Mason and I are planning to hit B&N tonight after school because one of his authors has a book out today, Rick Riordan, who has another one of his Egypt mythos books out. Mason is particularly fond of this series, even more so than the Percy Jackson books. So tonight promises to be fun for him. I was hoping to get to KSW, though we'll have to see how all that plays out.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Today is shaping up to be a productive and possibly social day for me. I managed to get a bunch of errands all done before 9:00 am (including returning a purchase to Target) and Shawn just e-mailed to say she might be available for a lunch get-together. At 1:00 pm I'm going to be meeting a friend from KSW to read his astrology chart. So, that's like twice as many people as I usually see in any given afternoon.

Otherwise, after about fifteen minutes or so, I'm planning on getting up off my sorry butt and doing the dishes while watching Anime. I'm still working through the original (1984) FullMetal Alchemist. Mason suggested I just give up on it since so many people seem to prefer The Brotherhood, but I'm stubbornly seeing the storyline through to the end. Because I'm like that.

CONvergence is clearly picking up steam, as I've been contacted a bunch of times about various preferences and arrangments. I still can't quite believe how awesome it is that I'm going to be one of their guests this year. This is the event, after all, that much of the Twin Cities simply refers to as "Con" (which implies it's the ONLY ONE, Highlander-style.)

It has now been confirmed by the programming guy that my con schedule for CONvergence is "crazy busy." Anton had earlier hinted that my programming was "a metric tonne." So, I guess I get to have ALL THE PANELS. Hooray! It's like Christmas in July!
lydamorehouse: (urahura)
I've been talking to another friend on e-mail about cosplay, and I think my problem is that I care much less for the costume and a lot more for the play. If I went in costume, (which, btw, I am considering for at least one day of CONvergence, depending on my schedule,) I would TOTALLY spend the day in character.

But, as I've determined, I'm a lot more playful than a lot of people. I was also always that RPGer who would demand to be called by my made-up name (and nearly always opposite gender pronoun) and jump up to act out various scenes during the course of the game/campaign. I also almost NEVER broke character out loud. I might pass notes to the GM about plans or plots or such, but most everything I said (outside of those moments when you HAVE to roll the dice) was in character. I came of age in a time before LARPs so I missed out on that trend, which is probably just as well, because I might never have put down the "dice," as it were, to write. I'd probably still be out in the woods somewhere in costume pretending to be someone else all day long (and well into the night.)

Now that I understand that's my own weirdness, I'll be able to cope much better at the next Detour, I think. If I decide *I* want to cosplay at Detour, I'll just be sure to bring along a posse of friends who are in on it with me.

Speaking of Anime, I feel so incredibly stupid. I only just yesterday discovered that I can stream ALL THE BLEACH at the Viz Media Anime site. See what happened was, I bought Shawn a new iPad for her birthday (technically it's a refurbished iPad, not the new, new iPad,) anyway, we were setting it up and I realized I'd forgotten my Shonen Jump password. I had to go through all the rigamaroll to reset my password and, in the course of all that, got shunted at one point to the main Anime page (as opposed to the Manga page.) Imagine my suprise (and Shawn's groan) when I discovered that EVERY TUESDAY there's a new translated Bleach direct from Japan!! Whoot. Okay, so I'm only about 200 episdoes behind where they currently are, but, what this means is, after NetFlix runs out of discs we can keep watching. Hooray. (Yes, I know Bleach is ending this year. But Mason and I aren't fast watchers, actually. We can burn through a disc in a weekend, but that's only four or five episodes usually. So basically I'm set for LIFE.)

If I may go on about this for a moment, I have to say that I think that one of the reasons this series has inspired so much energy from me is because, ultimately, it's both DEEPLY rich and UTTERLY broken. A lot like Star Wars, actually, which was very likely the last bit of fantasy/SF that stirred this kind of crazy devotion in me. The world of Bleach (particuarly the spirit world, the Soul Society,) is dense. There's a lot of cool stuff: magical swords, magical combat techniques, spectacular fight scenes, in-fighting, weird and unexplained characters who clearly come pre-loaded with a lot of issues that you never quite get all of, etc. Then, after this amazing explosion of awesome, it's like Tite Kubo couldn't quite cope with the pressure to remain super. Not unlike George Lucas. Because then he seems to fumble the pass (and I don't just mean in the Anime, which I totally get has a lot of "filler.") This sort of combination (awesome/awful) inspires a lot of fan energy, becuase a lot of fan fic (at least my own) comes out of a passion to "fix" what is broken in a show. For instance, my fav guy is clearly the Han Solo in a way. He stars out incredibly fascinating and then gets used as the punchline in all the jokes. It makes me crazy.

Okay, enough about that. In my real life (tm,) I am still a bit driftless. I sent in a couple of proposals to my agent, but today I should probably try to work on the one she wants--which is more fluffy Tate stuff. I'm having a really hard time coming up with this because I'm kind of tired of it... though I'd pretty much write to spec right now if it meant having a contract.

My Loft class is just about over. I was just asked if I'd be willing to teach on-line again, and I said yes. Despite the weirdness of teaching on-line, I think that there are some real advantages to getting to do this sort of thing from home. So, I'm going to give it another try. We'll see if this next experience gets any easier/better. I suspect it's a matter of getting the hang of things (not unlike my first experience with Detour.)

Mason is home from school today with an upset stomach. I think he just had too many weird foods last night as he got a pair of chopsticks from a tutor who'd traveled to China (she gave a pair to everyone in class, not just the kids she tutors) and so he talked us into Vietnamese food. He got pretty good at the chopsticks, but I'm not sure all the spice and whatnot agreed with him. Plus, afterwards, he had a bunch of desserts including both icecream and watermelon.

At any rate, I'm going drag him along to my Women of Wyrdsmiths meeting because I think he's actually already over it-- thanks to a bathroom trip this morning (TMI)-- and I really hate to cancel that get-together because it's one of my favorite weekly traditions.
lydamorehouse: (urahura)
Shawn got me a subscription to Shonen Jump for Solstace. This has been great, except... Shonen Jump is going digital and the first time I tried to access it via the iPad, I discovered it had flash and got frustrated. Turns out... there's an app for that. So I downloaded the free VIS app and now... now... I CAN HAVE ALL THE MANGA.

Life is good. I'm especially pleased that there's a library of free Manga for me to sample. I just read and (secretly) enjoyed "Absolute Boyfriend." What a hoot!

Also, despite my experience with "Cry of the Chimera" I've continued Fullmetal Alchemist. This is a good show, no question. Though, my problem persists, and has actually gotten worse. There's an actual scene with a stillbirth which I could have done without (Ed and Al's sensei,) but... sometimes I wonder why books, movies, TV shows that are tragic always get rave reviews. Do things have to be depressing to be considered serious? That irritates me.

On the flip-side, I kind of like all the military corruption stuff. The whole Ishballian rebellion/camps, etc... is kind of intense. In fact, sometimes I think they should go there more directly and not back off. I sort of wanted Mustang to have to kill everyone in his search for Scar. But, rounding everyone off to a camp in the South is sufficently evil, so that works for me.

And then there's the happy-werid interlude. Can someone explain that to me? Why is it, right after we discover something really nasty (usually specifically) about Mustang that the next episode treats him lightly with over-the-top humor? It confuses me.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I spent four hours today at the Kuk SoOlympics (an in-house competition at our dojon.) It was a blast. I placed last in every event I entered, but I really couldn't have cared less. I had tremendous fun. I really, REALLY love all the people there, and the energy was amazing. In fact, I'm only feeling a little down right now because I think I blew all my reistsu (spiritual pressure) cheering for all the competitors.

My only regret is not taking better advantage of the mystery event. It was "make-up your own form" and I wish I'd had the presence of mind to just not even try kuk sool moves, but go into a Uhara (from Star Trek) seduction dance. That would have been awesome.

Next time.

Mason did great. He even took first place in his group for forms. He was pretty tired by sparring, but he did all right there, too, getting a second place medal. And a third place in the obstacle course.

I ended up having to go first in my group for forms, and I can't tell you how nervous I was... I shook through the whole thing, which really isn't me, so I'm not sure what that was about. Ah, well, I've decided on a rival now -- all good Anime heroes need a rival, after all, and he will bring me up as I try to take him down.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I caught that thing that seems to be going around, the dreaded head cold. Luckily, it seems to be fairly mild. I took two nights off, crashed early, and that seems to have done something. I still have a stuffy, runny nose, but it doesn't seem to have gotten much worse than that.

I took advantage of being sick and laid in bed yesterday watching Aime. A friend from KSW suggested FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST when he heard that I was a fan of BLEACH. (Netflix had been agreeing with him for some time, I might add.) I can see how this show could be awesome, but I got to the episode called "Cry of the Chimera" and I had to stop. Ten years ago, I probably would have had no problem with the show, but things have happened to me since that make it impossible for me to deal with certain themes in literature/shows. I can no longer cope with the death of innocents. When little kids (and animals, I've discovered,) go splat, I'm out. As a bonus, in this episode, we get a two-fer, cute dog *and* cute girl get it. Ironically, one of the things that my friend said to recommend of this series is that I would get all the action of BLEACH, but "actually care for the characters." Alas, the opposite is true. The more "real" the violence (which, in this case, seemed a bit gratuitous to me), the less I trust, so the less I'm able to invest in the characters.

Ironically, I care a great deal about the characters in BLEACH precisely because they can be run through with a gigantic sword and they get up, wrap a couple of banages around themselves, and live to fight another day. Hell, we're even reassured that the Hollows don't die in that show, just get recycled into the Cosmic hourglass (except those killed by Quincies, of course.)

I can care about characters like those. The ones who make friends only to watch them get mutilated and then die (splat against the wall, no less,)... hmmmm, not so much.

I wish I wasn't broken like this, believe me. But the fact is, I am. I will have to find some other Anime to entertain me. (Luckily, BLEACH actually has not ended in Japan....)

Also, if people decide to start "reccing" things, let me tell you something else I've discovered about what I like in my Anime: I like semi-adults as main characters. I realize this cuts out a LARGE amount of Anime, but I can deal with the very manly 15 that Ichigo is supposed to be (especially since he looks 20.) Edward was supposed to be, what, 13? He looked 11. I often fantasize about BEING these heroes, so I prefer to be a near-adult if I have to be a teen at all.

I LOVE this whole spiritual stuff that was present in both BLEACH and FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST. A lot. So, Netflix and my friend weren't wrong about that one bit. More, more, more, please. The other commonality that I really liked about both? A corrupt government. Yeah, that's always an easy hook for me.

I don't mind the alternate universe/SF setting of FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST, but I ADORE the psuedo-ancient Japan of the Celestial City of BLEACH. Dudes wearing robes with swords.... yeah, that works for me.

Also, I think (no surprise to those who know me well) I like "boy" stories. Sword-play, fighting, magic, and boys/men. I wouldn't be adverse to trying some with women heroes, but right now I'm liking the way these stories get told because they tend to be about honor and justice (and being SURPRISINGLY adept at whatever skill is needed to make you awesome.)


In other news, my agent and I got the year-end report for the sales of RESURRECTION CODE. No surprise, my numbers sucked. I already knew from watching BookScan report on the book, no one has bought it much. (Yes, an e-book is supposed to be coming out sometime this year. I still don't know when.) Sigh.

I'm not surprised, however. As much as I hate to say this, I think the AngeLINK series ran its course some time ago. It doesn't surprise me that, nearly a decade later, there aren't a lot of people STILL hungering for more stories in this universe. Yes, you, my diehard fans, are to be commended and rewarded for still loving it (reward: more coming in the Gaylaxicon program guide!) Plus, I intentionally wrote it for my fans, and not for new readers. I think, too, it was a tough sell for the Mad Norwegians, since they don't do a lot of original fiction.

I probably could have done more to promote it, but, honestly, I don't know HOW. All the things that seem to be the best (getting readers to recommend it to others, what they call "viral" marketing) are magic. I can't ask someone to tell their friends how much they loved my book. It just has to happen.

I am still planning to have e-book versions of the original tetrology available (fingers crossed) in time for CONvergence. That gives me until July. So, I'm doing my best to continue make these books available.

It's just sort of depressing news. I do think, however, having a new science fiction book out, has helped me personally, tremendously. I don't think I'd have nearly as many invites to various SF conventions otherwise. So the project was worthwhile on that front.

I'm also trying to think about other science fictional things I could write. I ended up enjoying the background world of the short story "God Box" that I just sold to Dybbuk Press for the Biblical Horror anthology. I'm wondering if there isn't more there for me to mine.

So, there you go. Let the recommendations for Anime flow!
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Yesterday ended up to be a kind of fun day.  Shawn, in her new and improved duties as the Minnesota State Archivist (acting), had to attend one of those business dinners with a bunch of conference atendees, so Mason and I had plans to stay up late and be mischevious.  After school, I took him to Snuffy's for malts.  He has gotten it into his head that whenever he passes an AR (Advanced Reading) test for any book over 6.1 (sixth grade reading level) he deserves a meal out.  I'm not quite sure how this got into his head.  We do tend to bribe him to accomplish things like learning to ride a bike, and we love to celebrate victories in this house of all sizes and varieties, but I don't remember making this specific deal.  Regardless, since Shawn isn't super excited by Snuffy's food choices, it seemed like a good night to have "out on the town" to celebrate all his various reading achievements.

After stuffing ourselves, I was seriously considering skipping kuk sool wan.  I felt a bit like a bloated, beached whale after all that grease and such, but I got a text from my KSW buddy and I decided we should go BECAUSE we were feeling bloated.  So I roused Mason off LEGO Universe, his newest MMORPG obsession, and we got our gear on and went.  I'm glad we did.  Class was it's usual awesomeness, a fact we tend to forget when we're whining about the hassle of getting dressed and going, AND I got a copy of Nicole Lorenz's awesome body-positive coloring book: FAT LADIES IN SPAAAAACE.  I was flipping through it, checking out all the pictures and reading the funny captions and discovered an AngeLINK reference that made my day.  V. cool.

After KSW, Mason settled on the couch next to me with the Kindle version of his favorite Garth Nix series, and I started watching a few more episodes of "Bleach."  Mason couldn't resist and ended up watching three episodes with me.  Now he's totally hooked (and I'm not entirely sure that's a good thing, as I don't know how this ends/goes.)  Luckily, he said I could watch most of the episodes on my own as long as I gave him frequent updates and let him watch any episodes with REALLY BIG hollows.  Something about the Menos Grandes really tripped his trigger.  Perhaps it was the awesome way Ichigo defeated it in the episode, I'm not sure, but Mason was bouncing around telling everyone -- including a very baffled Shawn when we went to pick her up -- about it. 

Our friend Mr. Murphy got an earful too when he stopped by to check out our new chairs.  (Did I meantion we got new chairs?)  It was very amusing because Mason really wanted to tell Murphy the entire plot of "Bleach" and Mr. Murphy really wanted to tell us about the plot of his newest novel.  It was like two writers chomping at the bit to tell their cool stories!  Awesome.

Today is my day to hang out with the women of Wyrdsmiths, and I'm blowing off the furnace guy to do it.  (I'm going to reschedule for a non-Wednesday.)  At any rate, I'm still not sure what I should be writing.  I may just write something for fun... a continuation of the Mouse story I started here?  I don't know.  I should probably also get back to work on correcting the Torrent download I have of Archangel Protocol so that I can get that ready for the lady we're going to pay to turn it into a fancy e-book.
lydamorehouse: (cap kneeling)
Look, two days in a row!  Wow, if I'm not careful this whole blogging thing could become a habit again.

Yesterday, I got an early Christmas package from my pen pal in Seattle.  She's an amazing knitter, and she knitted scarves for my whole family in Hogwarts house colors!  Slytherin for me, Ravenclaw for Shawn, and Gryffindor for Mason.  Perfect!  I put mine on right away, of course, and began explaining to everyone the virtues of being a Slytherin.  I'm not sure, however, that I convinced the six year-old brother of one of Mason's classmates.  He inched away from me when I explain that Slytherin was my house. 


I, of course, instantly reminded him that not all villians come out of my house.  After all, let's not forget that Peter Pettigrew was a Gryffindor! 

At any rate, I wore the scarf again this morning, and, as I was leaving Mason's school I had a startling realization.  Underneath my coat I was wearing my Captain America sweatshirt, and on top, the Slytherin scarf.  What did that make me, I wondered... a dark paladin?  Or an ambitious superhero?

I bought this fabulous sweatshirt from "Think Geek," for myself for my birthday.  Many people are confused by it.  A woman at the grocery store thought I was especially patriotic (I wasn't, I should add, wearing the hood.)  When I explained Cap, I still got a blank look.  Again with the sighing, apparently not everyone knows who Captain America is....

What is the world coming to?

In other news, I'm still not sure what to do with myself since I don't yet have a new book contract.  I consoled myself yesterday by watching some Anime on NetFlix.  I watched the first couple of episodes of Bleach.  I'm... uncertain about continuing.  I like story, sort of, but Japanese demons freak me out.  Some of them look just a bit too much like, I don't know, twisted clowns that they trigger something deep in my psyche.  BUT, I do love the Soul Reapers.  They're cool, so I'll probably suffer through the clownish demons just to watch the awesome swordplay and such.

I'm still listening to and enjoying CINDER, but I find it impossible to listen to it while, say, writing a blog or a letter.  I lose track of words, either in the story or on the page, so I have to save listening to it when I'm doing mindless things like housework or working out. 

The lack of a regular book to read has left me feeling especially out of sorts, as well.  I have something on the Kindle I agreed to review, but the first few pages did not impress me, and, out of desperation the other day, I turned to some fan fic.  Not to disparage fan fic, because I'm actually quite enjoying what I've read of Nessuno so far, but that was meant more a comment on my severe lack of books in the house. "Nessuno" is an alternate history Buffy fan fic that's pretty unlike anything I've ever read before.  It takes place in Rome during the hieght of Papal decedence, and Spike and Angel are mercenaries in service to the Pope... and things go from there.

I guess I'm just busy being a fan, something I don't get to do when I'm so focused on writing all the time.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Apparently, when Shawn is away on business trips, my mind craves all things animated. Not only have by been comic book power shopping like a True Nerd, but I also stayed up last night until 1 AM watching Anime with my nephew Jonathan. Jon has been trying to get me to see "Berserk" since forever, so I spontaneously called him up yesterday and asked him if he wanted to come over and watch it with me. We ate too much kettle corn and had too much fun.

And only got through half of it, the "light" half according to Jon. (Yikes!)

I also stopped by Midway Books to see if they had MAGNETO: TESTAMENT, which they did at full cover price. But, I was curious enough to find out how it all ended, that I went for it. I'm not sure how satisfied I am, however. I mean, it's a heart rending story, no doubt, but I was hoping for a bit more character than what came out on the page. Though it all made sense when I found out that it was a special edition written as a charity event for a painter who is a Holocaust survivor. I thought I might look around on the Interwebs and see if anyone picked up the story where it left off.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Last night I watched Appleseed Ex Machina and now I'm hot for a cyborg with bunny ears. Help me. 

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