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Reading The Global Pigeon by Colin Jerolmack. It's research for the girls who save the world from fascism through their magical connection to urban birds book. It was recommended to me by none other than Donna Haraway who I met through Katie King at FOGCon. It does not have in it what I intended to be looking for but it has all sorts of other things that I didn't know I needed. That last category is a mark of a felicitous reading choice, I think.

Other than that, I'm trucking along. I find it is better for me to work on a bit of this and that right now because I can't concentrate very well what with the sleep deprivation and the chronic intestinal issues. Oh yes and now I have a very mild neuropathy too, so that takes some of my focus away as I obsess over its progress--if it gets to a certain level we have to stop chemo to prevent its becoming permanent. As it is, my dose has been dropped. This phase of chemo is just to be sure anyways: there's reason to think that in many cases the first round withn the adriamycin/cytoxan is all a person needs. But survival rate is higher and recurrence is lower for people who've had both, so that's where we're going. But yesterday was 6 of 12 doses, so the light is at the end of the tunnel either way. The oncologist says most of her patients make it to dose 9 or 10, but some make it all the way to 12. I would like to get to 12 just to be sure (and also quite honestly so I can feel so very tough, but I don't admit to that often), but I'm fine with following her advice.

We've been repairing the outside of the house and clearing foliage because the painters are coming on Saturday. I probably shouldn't own a house because I'm not houseproud enough to do what needs to be done. Honestly when stuff gets broken or dirty I don't care enough at all. It's weird because I used to take pride in just doing what needs to be done and in mechanical competence. But I'm kind of broken a bit myself, I guess.

While at the library I also picked up a Tobias Buckell book because I keep bouncing off his writing and I want to like his work. And another book called Watermind by M.M. Buckner that was near it on the shelves because it looked interesgting and I've never heard of it or the author. I want to read more genre stuff that's more recent but it's hard at the library because most of the requests for material seem to be coming from the grognards.

Emma told me there's a magnificent petrified forest in Chemnitz and now I want to go there more than ever. My dream itinerary for next spring is: Eastercon, a couple weeks with Frank and Hana in Loughborough, some days in Paris with Andrea, and then on to Chemnitz, Prague, and maybe a bus tour of Poland and if my bro-and-sis-in-law are in Langaland, a few days in Denmark. I imagine it would be summer before I got back home.

I would also like to travel in the States some: to Portland to see my aunt and a friend or two, and maybe the Woodstock Memory Hole if anything is going on there right now: to LA to see my other aunt: to Houston to visit Nancy Zeitler, a friend who's been living there for years & I've never visited her there: to Silver Spring Maryland to visit Katie King, who I visited over a dozen years ago: to Chattanooga to visit Sharon Farber, who I visited 29 years ago: to Philadelphia, just to see it again after 50 years gone from it: to New York, to visit Phil Josselyn, who I've never visited & when he visits me I realize how much I miss him: and to Boston, to visit Mary Porter, who I visited 26 years ago but never in the house she lives in now.

That's a lot.
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Do you have a list of elements that wll keep you from reading a book? I do. A strong enough recommendation from a person who knows my taste, or whose taste is aligned with mine, especially if they include a note about why they think the book is readable even with that element present, will sometimes cause me to try a book anyway. But usually, the minute I know the book contains one of these, it's off my to-read list with prejudice.

These are the things I can think of right now:

  1. mercenaries

  2. assassins

  3. serial killers

  4. an unexamined hero-worship of policemen or soldiers (I can certainly handle heroic policemen and soldiers, but the author has to have a nuanced view of the work environment and the complex political and moral universe surrounding these people)

  5. a storyline designed to "justify" slavery, aristocracy, capitalism, or the penal system (I understand how come there are people who do this with respect to capitalism, but the others?  how can they?)

  6. people who are better than other people because of qualities they inherited

  7. (to borrow a phrase from Patrick Nielsen Hayden) unreflective pastoralism (rural settings with an intelligent view of the relationship between urban and rural, class relationships, and material conditions and culture of the rural working class are more than welcome)

  8. people who are villains because they are born to be villains, particularly if they are from "the south" or "east" or they are "swarthy" or "sallow" and my dog how is this still a thing and why do I see it

  9. soulfuckingmates

  10. the word "abs" outside of dialog assigned to an idiot (edit: becauser it signifies the obtification of men's bodies and the fetishization of a particular type of hypermasculinizagtion)

  11. men who are supposed to be sexy because they are brutal, or because they are overly muscled, or because their profession is authoritaria

  12. (edit) the dead bodies of women as plot tokens (suggested by personhead[livejournal.com profile] pantryslut along with the corollary:

  13. the dead bodies of sex workers triply so

The problem with numbered lists--well, there are lots of them, but I can't figure out how to turn that 13 into a 12a. Thank you personhead[livejournal.com profile] pantryslut for 12 & 13, which should be 12  & 12a, and thank you personhead[livejournal.com profile] redbird for asking for clarity on 10.
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oh, I don't know what a spoiler is, so the cut's just in case somebody cares )

for some reason youtube is refusing to play this playlist I'm listening to as a playlist and I have to poke it after every song. That's okay, I guess, I'm not liking the playlist that much either.
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There's not much point in this report. I'm still reading Reamde in bed and The Hundred Thousand Fools of God in the bathtub. It will take me forever to read these.
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I can't even remember what I read in the weeks I didn't post, which is why I have joined this little game.  Anyway, my bathroom book is A Hundrede Thousand Fools of God which is not about religion especially: it's about everything to do with ethnic music in ex-Soviet Central Asia since before it was ex-Soviet to roughly now. It comes with a CD to which I have not listened yet. It's more of my father's ethnomusicology trove. It's really interesting, and the author's point of view is one of the least annoying and most nuanced ones I have read when assessing Soviet history. Even things he hates (like the Soviet penchant for inventing large-ensemble music styles for each nationality, whether the instruments and the musical styles were suited for it or not) he is able to look at with open eyes. It's refreshing to read something that is neither an apologia nor the usual dumb, uncaring knee-jerk anti-sovietism that you see around the place.

My bedroom book is Stephenson's Reamde which I am having trouble with. It's very, very scary, because he's got this whole normal, benign world that people are moving through and then -- people who view large amounts of murder as a simple, sensible business strategy get involved. It is very long, and very detailed -- not loving graphic details of murder, but it doesn't need it to be unsettling and even occasionally disgusting (I don't mean that the writing is disgusting, but ddisgusting things happen).

I seem to have inordinate amounts of trouble with all sorts of things lately. I haven't really finished very many of the books I've started this year.

On another front, I got deferred for giving blood today. My hemoglobin was 11.5. It needs to be 12.5 to give blood. Last time it was low and then it came up enough when they re-tested it. I do not like this development: I used to have remarkably high hemoglobin, and now it is below the normal range (it should be 12 to not be considered to have anemia or something). I am pissed off. My diet is normally high-ish in iron. I have a reason at hand for why I might be dropping hemoglobin levels, but I do not see an immediate answer for what to do about it. Also, I still have no health insurance, so I'm looking for self-treatment first. I will go see the doctor but first I will do whatever I can find that is obvious so as to be able to come in with that information and make the most efficient use of his time.

On still another front, a PSA: too many livejournal users are using the automatic location finder thingy and they are publishing the exact address from which they are posting. This is a dumb move, folks. If you want to post a location, use some kind of cute shorthand instead of your whole address.
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Personhead [livejournal.com profile] pantryslut posted this reading thing and unlike most things it appealed to me. Originally it's from Should Be Reading (I think that's what it's called).

It's three questions:

1. what are you currently reading? Hallucinations by Oliver Sachs.

2. what did you recently finish reading? Karen Joy Fowler's Sister Noon. And Barbara Kingsolver's Pigs in Heaven.  I must admit that most of the rest of the year I was only reading amateur fiction from the web.

3. what will you be reading in the near future? Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams.

#1 and #3 were christmas presents from Emma.

I have become a slow reader of real books because I have become conditioned to fall asleep with books. . .
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[livejournal.com profile] skipheller says that if Christianity was all like this, he'd be a believer.

Hell, I'm a believer -- not in Christianity, but I believe in Sister Rosetta Tharpe and I believe in laying down the sword and shield and I believe in rocking out for the love of man and the universe and also, now, I believe in Skip Heller.

In related news, I have been having the world's best radio luck. All week I keep running into Gillian Welch's "Elvis Blues" which is the best piece of expository anything I've run into for a long time -- as good an explanation of American culture in its three minutes as "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is in its what, 90 minutes or whatever. And hauntingly beautiful. I have nearly learned the song. I can't stop thinking about it or singing it. Friday morning, on KPIG, I heard not one but two shit-kicking songs about Impressionist painters. Friday night, on the Robert Louis Stephenson School's student radio program, I heard this wonderful song about a crazy guy who thinks the woman on the billboard is his girlfriend and I don't mean the one about the woman on the billboard wearing nothing but a beach towel and a smile -- this was about real, dangerous, sad insanity blowing up in a person's face with cops and reporters and broken bottles. Googling fails me -- either the band or the song is called "Pablo Picasso" or "Citizen Coke" -- or something that sounds like that -- maybe it was a local kids' band. And today I caught the tail end of a Fresh Air interview with an author, and I thought "That sounds like Stephen McCauley," and so when I parked I just waited to hear more and it was, and the reason Terry Gross was interviewing him is that he has a new book out. Yay Steven McCauley! I think it's called Alternatives to Sex.

He said he feels guilty because every time Jennifer Aniston gets in the news for her unhappy personal life, the film of "The Object of My Affections" is shown on tv, and he the book sells a few more copies.
ritaxis: (blue land)
I already listed the books that did something to my head a while back. By my calculations we have about a thousand books but we're getting rid of them bit by bit because we can never find what we want anyway and we end up going to the library, googling, or buying another copy anyway.

Just finished: The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean which goes on the "best books ever" list. I read it before but at Baycon I found a copy to buy and I brought it home and loved it and told everybody to read it. If you want somebody to write you a story about gifted children, Pamela Dean's the person to do it. She gets that thing -- where the kids are thinking these precocious thoughts, and struggling with these huge ideas, but they do it like children, not like adults in children's bodies. Distinct both from adults and from other kinds of children.

Oscar and Lucinda and Five Quarters of the Orange which were at Jim and Gloria's house and are the kind of literary novel that makes science fiction fans feel superior. Humiliation, squalor, death, misery, and no lessons learned. Exquisitely written, though.

Full House by Steven Jay Gould, which is about how statistics, evolution, variation, change, etc., actually work. It has a more in depth reworking of the baseball stuff he did whilke he was sick, but I could have done without one or the other version.

Currently reading: Beasts of the Field still: it's huge and I'll be reading at it the rest of my life. But it's wonderful, so I'm kind of glad I'll never finish it. I mostly read it when I'm working at Bingo, between the rushes. Iron Sunrise which is in the car, I forget why, also bought at Baycon: and on the couch, The Hallowed Hunt which I think is less engaging than the other books in this universe but that's saying it's still four times as engaging as your average fantasy. And at Jim and Gloria's, Nicholas Nickleby.
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We have this tradition on my side of the family, in which we all meet at the Anarchist Book Fair and because it happens in the month of our birthdays, sometimes my brother and I get presents. This year I got him Newton's Wake by Ken MacLeod and Singularity Sky by Charlie Stross. My stepmother got me this book -- a tome -- called Beasts of the Field: A Narrative History of California Farmworkers, 1769-1913 by Richard Steven Street. It's huger than that. The endnotes alone are 240 pages long. The index is 27 pages long (two columns). There are six pages of abbreviations. The text is a mere 625 pages of large format and small (but readable) type. And it gets us to 1913.

It's a wonderful book. It's really well written, excellently documented, and covers everything and everything: technology, culture, internal politics of the Spanish army, church, and everything, landscape, botany, agronomy. I've read the first 46 pages which gets us to the establishment of the missions and estancias and pueblos in Alta California and discusses the relatively primitive agricultural technology used in them and why it was like that. The part I'm on now is about the structure of the work gang, the living arrangements, the ways that order was kept.

Oh, the book fair. This year I was crashing from the oral surgery and whirlwind trips all over the landscape so I was not in fit state to browse books but I did get a pamphlet by George Lakey responding to Ward Churchill's renunciation of nonviolence, an argument I didn't even know about before. I haven't been keeping up. My brother points out the George Lakey led the Friends youth group we hung out in in Philadelphia, and I can almost remember that. My stepmother pointed out Ward Churchill: he has this lantern jaw and pretentious long hair, and he looks just like the sort of macho posing college professor who would say things to scandalize and titillate, and I bet you'll never catch him trashing a cop car (by the way, I'm not wedding to nonviolence in every circumstance, but I think it's an important component of any strategy when you're facing opponents whose ability to harm you is so many more times your ability to harm them). He's the guy who got in trouble for saying that the CIA executives in the World Trade Center were evil and deserved to die -- I first heard that misquoted as "everybody in the World Trade Center was CIA and deserved to die" and I was as pissed off as anybody, because of course a huge number of people in the building were custodians and cooks and firefighters.

Jason and Emma looked exceedingly cute wheeling around the book fair. So did my father, staffing the War Resisters League table with our friend Jim Haber. I was impressed with the size of the fair this year, and the fact that they had a little carnival corner out front with booths where you could "topple the heads of state," (soda cans with portraits of world leaders on them you could throw bean bags at) "circle the A," (throw rubber rings over large letter A's made of something black) "drench the dunce," or "pin the molotov on the cop car" (it's a joke, okay, and it's not my joke anyway). My stepmother Moher kept admiring the more creative mohawks on the young folks. There were all ages -- infant, child, adolescent, young,middle, old adults. You could get baby clothes that have "Baby Brigade -- We refuse to be pacified!" on them. And other things.

I had a vegan sandwich which was really good. And then we came back to the house and Luis and I crashed and after a while we ate dinner and now I have to get ready for the other side of the family.
ritaxis: (blue land)
Not favorites, because I don't understand the concept anymore.

Just a bunch of books.

Cement by Gladkov

Gorky's Autobiography

The Land of Schvambrania by Lev Kassil

Cyteen by C. J. CHerryh

Double Star by Heinlein

The Idiot by Dostoevsky

Shirley by Charlotte Bronte

Hunger by Knut Hamsun

Jakobowski and the Colonel by Franz Werfel

Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carrol ("Charles Dodgson" was what came to mind first!)

a book which I have not been able to locate since about the Weaver's Darling which was probably an extended allegory but it haunted me because "Ninety-nine and Ninety" was one of my favorite songs

Everything by E. Nesbit

Once on a Time by A. A. Milne

the Willy Ley science books

The Poem Book of the Gael

The Wonder Clock by Howard Pyle

the Roger Lancelyn Green retellings of Robin Hood and KIng Arthur

He Went with Marco Polo

These oversize, garishly illustrated children's biographies -- The Quest of Isaac Newton and The Quest of Galileo which I think never mentioned Newton's religon or his madness

The White Pony collection of Chinese poems translated by Arthur Waley

A collection of Yegveni Yefremov's science fiction stories

How to Cook a Wolf by M.F.K. Fisher

Half Magic by Edward Eager

a collection of Federico Garcia Lorca poems given to me by my brother when I was twelve

Dangerous Thoughts, a collection of newspaper columns by Mike Quinn

-- and that's enough for now. Just a few of the books that did something to my brain. All but the Bronte and the Cherry I read before I was 18.
ritaxis: (blue land)
You take the list, you delete what's not on your shelves, and add the same number that you delete.
I don't know what it's supposed to demonstrate.

J.R.R. Tolkien
E.A. Poe
Kurt Vonnegut

Dr. Seuss

Maxim Gorky
Patricia Wrede
Cordwainer Smith
Pamela Dean
Jhumpa Lahiri

(deleted: Tim Powers, John Donne, Nalo Hopninson, Kinky Friedman, David Brin)

On other fronts, my son drove a couple of guys from the dorms to the San Jose Airport and to San Francisco. After he got there, he found out that the one he drove to San Francisco is the offspring of friends of my father and stepmother. The key exchange that started the recognition of this fact: "My husband works in harm reduction. Do you know what harm reduction is?" "Yes, I do. Do you know Moher Downing?"

famous all over town.
ritaxis: (Default)
I caught the virus from brooksmoses. It goes:

Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 23.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the sentence in your journal, along with these instructions.

Used only for certain taxa included in Index of Rare and Endangered Plants of California(CNPS). some of which have been accorded such legal status by the state of California.

Okay, now what? We know that Brooks has a technical book close to hand, and I have oh come on, guess before you peek ) But we knew that already.
ritaxis: (blue land)
A book none of you all probably have: Mal'occhiu, which I keep losing around the house, and is ethnography about Sicilian Canadians. Or Icelandic Essays . Or Cement.

Music I have you all probably don't: this is too easy. It's cheating, in fact. Because I have a couple dozen CDs compiled by my father. Okay, not cheating. Fiddle, Sing Me the Blues , or maybe The Henry Kaiser Folk Experience which has a lame sounding name but is actually Appalachian-Montagnard fusion, as far as I can tell, and they do "Sweet Sunny South" almost as scary as Dock Boggs and "Farewell to My Stepstone" almost as scary as Bascom Lamar Lunsford and that's saying something, or maybe Oi Dai by Värtinna. O crappies, I just thought of something. Emma, you don't count. You're in my same house.

A movie I have that probably none of you all have: "Me and the Colonel," which is a philosophical WWII buddy adventure comedy with Danny Kaye from a play by Franz Werfel. Or "Svengali," which the nice fellow picked up recently.

A place I have been that none of you have probably been: I was going to say Watsonville but that's when I remembered Emma and went back and said she doesn't count. So I'll say Wolf Creek, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. I was going to maybe say Wounded Knee because it's more show offy because people have heard of it and it's important, but then I thought somebody else might have made a pilgrimage there or something.

Something I've eaten that maybe none of you have probably ever eaten: Gran Choclo, which is this Peruvian giant corn. It doesn't taste very good, at least when it has been frozen and then cooked according to the instructions ("add some lime or cinnamon").

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