Tucker McKinnon
This morning the low-lying clouds had buried the Fraser River again. Hints of treetops and light poles through the mist, and sloped lines that might be mountains on the horizon. And all filled with a diffuse yellow sunlight glow.

I dunno. This year it really feels like having come through three, or four, or eight-plus, years of dark nights. Like 'better' is a state of being that might actually happen, instead of a lie I tell myself so I can keep going.

Peaceful Sunreturn to you all.

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Tucker McKinnon
20 December 2014 @ 02:54 pm
Xmas is officially done. The hard part anyway, presents wrapped and shipped as necessary. I have had less enthusiasm for this xmas than for any in living memory. Even as a teenager shoved into a confined space with family for dozens of hours on end, I got kinda excited about finding/making the Right gift for friends. This year... meh. Meh all around.

But it's done. And the tree is up, and I've been listening to a bit of xmas music, and the light will come back soon.



Thursday night I tried halfheartedly to run my LG&S game but had no brain and low energy, and ended by calling it about halfway through. Today it occurs to me that I've probably had a low-grade cold since sometime Thursday. I've got what feels like a ball of snot hanging out in my back nasal passages, and I'm vaguely spacey.

If this stays at 'low-grade cold' level and doesn't blossom into a full-bore sinus infection, that will be the first time that's happened in a long time. I never get really seriously hide-under-blankets-with-soup-and-television-for-three-days sick, but I also never have just plain colds either.



The old apartment had a super-fancy hotel across the street. In spring & summer we made a habit of being appalled by the proms and weddings that got hosted there, and of watching the seagull chicks grow up on the roof.

This apartment has a hotel across the street, but it's much less fancy. It's also got an IHOP-style pointy roof, so I doubt it will have seagull chicks.

What it does have, or has for the past few days anyhow, is a bald eagle who's decided it's a great place to hang out. So that's kinda cool.



NYT commenter "Vin" from Manhattan, a couple of days ago:
Look, I can appreciate that it’s a tough decision to normalize relations with a police state whose police forces routinely murder civilians (and whose top political leaders have engaged in torture of prisoners with impunity), but Cuba did the right thing.


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Tucker McKinnon
17 December 2014 @ 01:26 am
ABOUT fourteen years ago I fell into a career path of software testing and tech writing. I'm good at both those things and they paid well (better than minimum wage, anyhow), so I kept doing them.

It took me a long time to realise that being good at something that pays well doesn't automatically translate into enjoying it.

long, historical, and of limited interestCollapse )



I'VE BEEN out of work for coming on four months now. I've spent the time trying to figure out who I am when there's nothing I have to do.

I still have very little idea.

long, introspective, and of limited interestCollapse )

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Tucker McKinnon
11 December 2014 @ 08:59 am
Walter Jon Williams on the recent US torture revelations: "So we need to consider whether we are a rogue nation, unaccountable to any law of God or man." No we (you? we. alas) don't. The answer is obvious. The object of power is power, and the object of torture is torture.

On a lighter note...

Famous Author Bios: "Ernest is a writer and a man. He's writing this while eating a rare steak and parasailing."

This Old Man: a mostly-enjoyable, partly-stabbingly-sad exploration of what it's like to be ninety.

Restoring the American Chestnut: "Now here’s the deal: researchers from SUNY-ESF (that’s an environmental science college) have worked for 25 years to develop a true, non-hybrid blight-resistant American chestnut tree... and as of this month, November 2014, they’ve declared success."

My Article On Doing Something I Wouldn’t Normally Do For A Period of Time: "In conclusion: Doing Things I Would Normally Do is existentially horrible, whereas Doing Something I Wouldn't Normally Do For A Period Of Time has brought me great insight into What It Is All About These Days Anyway."

Patented harpoon pins down whale age: "The century-old harpoon fragment was found in May by an Eskimo whaling crew.... The metal projectile can be traced back to an 1879 patent and a narrow window of time in which it was likely to have been fired, indicating that this whale was between 115-130 years old when it died."

A Complete History of the Soviet Union As Told By A Humble Worker, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris: "I am the man who arranges the blocks..."

And because I will still read anything about Robert Moses, Horrible Human Being: 'The Power Broker,' 40 Years Later. Apparently Caro has just finished work on an annotated edition. Hmm.

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Tucker McKinnon
06 December 2014 @ 02:00 pm
Mm. Seems like the grey is starting to get to me. I feel uninspired in general, and I don't have work to blame it on this year. I am just Not At All Interested in finding xmas presents, or posting to LJ/DW, or doing much of anything except possibly curling up in the bath with a book.



Viola proceeds, better than I'd been afraid and also terribly. My fingers are slow and tend to land in the wrong places on the strings, and frequently on more than one string at a time. This isn't a problem yet but will be eventually. More worrying is that I have no idea how vibrato will possibly work.

Also, I'm learning to read alto clef. This is causing me fits because the strings and notes for viola are the same as on the cello (an octave up, but whatever, that's 'the same' for my purposes), and alto clef is a whole step (again, plus an octave) higher than bass clef. Which means I see a note on the centre line, and think "D, no, wait, C." Repeat for all notes. My sightreading is for shit. This might be a problem except that, as above, I can't get my fingers into place fast enough to sightread anyway.

It's exceptionally frustrating because I *know* I can do better than this. I'm just not there yet.

I had hopes that I would sound not-terrible by the end of 2016. It's possible that I may be able to sound not-terrible by the end of 2015, though I still won't be as proficient as I'd like. Ha. I doubt I'll ever be as proficient as I'd like.

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Tucker McKinnon
26 November 2014 @ 06:58 pm
Got in after midnight on Monday night/Tuesday morning. Slept a lot, and did very little yesterday. Today I feel more like a human being.

What are you currently reading?

John Brunner's A Maze of Stars, hard(ish?) SF about a ship that's visiting every world colonised by humans... over and over and over again, at different points in the timestream, for reasons that are obscure even to the ship. It's good, I think. I'm enjoying it but finding it difficult to really get into.

Also, the Atomic Robo RPG. I am enjoying it enough that it's likely to be the next thing I want to run, whenever the current LG&S game finishes up. It's a much more coherent introduction to the FATE system than whatever other things I've read have been.

What did you recently finish reading?

Howard Waldrop's collection Howard Who?. The first story in the book, "The Ugly Chickens," is one of my favorite things I've read this year. The next couple of stories didn't grab me but "'...The World, As We Know't'" (nineteenth-century alchemy!) and "Heirs of the Perisphere" (Disney animatronics awaken in a post-apocalyptic wasteland) were quite good. Odd, and recommended.

Also the first three volumes of the collected Atomic Robo comic, about the adventures of Nikola Tesla's, er, atomic robot scientist. When I was working at Waldenbooks I was a big fan of Hellboy (this is about when the first movie came out): wisecracks, weird magic, Nazis getting beat up, and good art. Atomic Robo is a lot like Hellboy except with weird science instead of the weird magic, and a lot less dark. In the intro to volume 3 the creators compare Robo to the Muppets: lots of fun, lots of snark, and when they can't figure out how to end a scene they blow something up. That works, too. I like Robo a lot, and it doesn't seem to be going down the grim-and-angst-and-poor-characterization path that later Hellboy / BPRD books took.

What do you think you’ll read next?

My copy of Gene Wolfe's The Land Across came in shortly before we left, so, that. Either it will be minor but good (like Pirate Freedom or The Sorcerer's House) and worth the wait, or it will be terrible (like Home Fires) and I will give up on new Wolfe because two terrible books in a row is quite enough. I'm obviously hoping for the former but I have my fears.

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Tucker McKinnon
17 November 2014 @ 11:20 pm
Here in the greater DC area, there are places that make me uneasy: my awful ex's house and environs, the mansions in McLean, that one stretch of 295 in the district where I always run out of lane before I expect to.

There are places here that irritate me: my parents' house which is at least twenty minutes from anything, 95 south between three and eight PM on a weekday, The Mosaic District (a suburbanite's idea of what a city looks like).

There is no place, anywhere, that will reduce me to yelling and swearing faster than Seven Corners.

Seven Corners is several shopping centres nestled at the intersection of three major highways and one minor road. To call it a birds'-nest is an insult to birds, who build perfectly orderly and functional structures that perform their intended duties. Entering Seven Corners by car is a good way to ensure that whichever way you leave is not the way you intended. (Exceptions made for attempting to leave on the same road you came in on, in which case closing your eyes and gunning it will sometimes work.)

I have it on good authority that the interchanges were designed in the shape of a glyph to invoke Lh'Nurh, the dark god at the middle of the labyrinth who feasts on human frustration. The movement of cars along the flyways serves only to increase his power.

I escaped with my sanity intact. This time.

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Tucker McKinnon
14 November 2014 @ 09:50 am
So far it's been a good visit. I've seen a bunch of people and will see more, or some of the same ones again, next week. And there's unexpected gaming north of Baltimore this weekend, which I'm about to head off to.

It's pleasant to not have to cram everything into two days plus an evening or two, to feel like I have time to get to most everyone. There came a point, maybe six years ago, when I realised my limiting factor had gone from 'money' to 'time.' (And then to 'energy,' though time was often a factor as well.)

WFC was... a thing. It was good to spend some time with [personal profile] thanate and [personal profile] aamcnamara, and to meet a couple of people whose names I've already lost, and to see Andrea and Fran and others in passing, and there were some interesting panels and a great reading by Andy Duncan. And we snagged some interesting books from the bookbag/booktable, and I picked up nineweaving's new Ben Jonson, Private Eye novella. But overall... the trip in fried me for most of Thursday and part of Friday too I think, and then I am not fond of BarCon at the best of times. Less sociable than I would have liked to be, for the most part. Eh. At some point I will admit that most SF cons are Not My Thing and be okay with that.

I have fingernails. I mean, not anything anyone else would notice as fingernails, but I notice. It's kind of disconcerting. This is one of the ways I can tell I'm no longer super-stresed, I'm not biting my nails anymore. Instead my fingers are sharper and longer than I'm used to. Be interesting to see how long I let them get before they drive me nuts and I clip them.

And it's getting colder, likely below freezing tonight. I didn't really sign on for this but it's better than broiling anyway.

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Tucker McKinnon
07 November 2014 @ 02:44 pm
I am writing this here so maybe I will remember next time: when taking a redeye flight, do not sit near the back of the plane. The flight attendants chatter ALL NIGHT, preventing you from sleeping. In addition, they seem to have put some sort of diuretic in the drinks on this flight, and the bathroom was constantly in use.

I remember very little of the stopover at Toronto, except that the breakfast options were uniformly terrible. We overpaid for Starbucks breakfast.

The flight from Toronto to La Guardia couldn't land on its first pass due to an almost complete lack of visibility. Then, once we landed and managed to locate the gate for our exit flight (no mean trick, LGA's C gates are not all in the same building) our original flight to DC had been cancelled, and the replacement that we'd been bumped on to was the victim of a plane unable to leave DCA for several hours.

We arrived somewhat the worse for the wear into a fifteen-minute downpour. It's good to see real rain again instead of the constant dripping one gets in Vancouver. Thankfully it had stopped by the time we got to the hotel shuttle waiting area.

Got checked in and picked up WFC registration, had a very slow dinner at a very busy diner across the street, had ice cream, and slept for twelve hours.

Now I am officially at World Fantasy, though I'm not entirely sure why.

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Tucker McKinnon
31 October 2014 @ 11:39 am
Hadean Lands, Andrew Plotkin

Not quite four years ago I backed my second-ever Kickstarter project[1]. I'd known Zarf in passing for about a decade at that point, and known of his work for, mm, twenty-some years. Throwing money at him so he'd a) make another big game and b) create tools so that other people could make similar games was kind of a no-brainer.

He'd planned on having the game done in a year, maybe a little more.

It shipped a couple of days ago.

I meant to post this yesterday morning, when it was live. I am afraid I was distracted by a formula for an alchemical fungicide, and then by my inexplicable failure to create a resonant oculus ("an exceptional tool for observing unseen influences"). So: I am pleased to report that it has been entirely worth the wait.

The plot: you're an ensign on His Majesty's Marcher (an alchemical starship) The Unanswerable Retort. Something has gone horribly wrong, and it appears to be up to you to figure out how to put it right.

This is an old-school text adventure. You type commands (GO NORTH, GET COIN, UNLOCK OAK DOOR WITH RUSTY KEY) and the game carries them out. It includes a tutorial for brand-new players. I cannot speak to the tutorial as I haven't played it; been too busy diving in.

The game's puzzly, but not impossibly so. The structure I've seen thus far:
  • First, a basic puzzle-type task, which serves as a tutorial for 'how to do alchemy.'
  • Then, a locked door that can be opened by creative application of the previous.
  • The game then opens up a few more areas, and gives you a few more keys, to doors that have to be opened in order.
  • The last of those doors leads to an area roughly the size of the entire area you've previously seen, with a number of things to do and a locked door at the far end.
  • Once you've puzzled out how to open that door, you have free access to most of the rest of the map.
  • At this point the game becomes a firehose of information: alchemical formulae, ingredients, concepts, and the trick becomes sorting and managing all this information. That's where I am.
All this ought to be overwhelming and tedious. It's not, because Zarf has implemented shortcuts. You have to do a ritual, or solve a puzzle or unlock a door, by hand once. After that you can just PERFORM TARNISH CLEANSING RITUAL or UNLOCK DOOR and the game gathers the ingredients or key and goes through the necessary steps. In addition, if you can't remember where you saw or left something, you can RECALL CONVEX LENS and the game will tell you "You left that in the Opticks Lab."

Not to mention that the prose is first-rate. "You smell copal incense, machine oil, rosemary, alcohol, and blood. Creaking, bending steel beams... no, that's not an odor. Why did you think the bulkheads were crumpling in on you? What would that even smell like?"

Hadean Lands is available for iOS in a native app, or Android and PC/OSX/Linux through a (free) interpreter. I believe it will set you back about five bucks.

So:

If you have fond recollections of the old Infocom games: buy this.

If you enjoy throwing yourself against locked doors and attempting to concoct and (mis)use strange formulae: buy this.

If you snickered at an alchemical starship named 'The Unanswerable Retort': buy this.

It's good.



[1] My first-ever backed Kickstarter project has yet to deliver, because the creator turned out to be a flake. In retrospect this should have been obvious at the time. Supposedly the writing is done and it's in layout now. I believe the traditional next step is to whine that there are no more funds left to print or ship the book.

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Tucker McKinnon
30 October 2014 @ 08:31 am
Cripes, this has been sitting in Notepad half-finished for days now. *thumps self in head* Get it together, you.

Satyrday turned out well: we had a few people over to mutilate pumpkins. I made one that looks more or less like this Totoro face, although I didn't use toothpicks and could stand to have made the whiskers bigger. [personal profile] uilos carved a couple of crows on a tree. Other art included a mockingjay, Trogdor, Night Vale, and a ferret. Good times.

Afterwards there was going to be boardgames, but we had an unexpected allergic reaction instead, so we panicked for a bit and then watched The Court Jester. I had forgotten how slow the first twenty minutes of that movie are: opening-credits song, opening exposition, "You'll Never Outfox the Fox," more exposition and setup, Danny Kaye singing a lullaby. Thankfully it picks up quickly once the real Giacomo shows up. Also I should stop describing her as "Young Evil Angela Lansbury," she's spoiled and selfish, but she's also been dealt a terrible hand.

On Sunday a couple of guys came over and we played a short scenario of 18OE. This is a complex train game that encompasses the whole of European railway development. Because we played one of the 'short' scenarios (France/Spain) we were done in around seven hours (including setup and takedown). Good game. Looking forward to playing again at some point, and hopefully knocking a couple of hours off the playtime with familiarity.



Since then I've had a second viola lesson, and determined that my left arm hurts partly due to new muscle usage and partly because I was holding the viola wrong. This is good news: means I won't have to quit because my stupid muscles/tendons are too screwed up to bend properly. At least not yet: a couple of years ago I strained my wrist (lifting luggage) and it's been acting up lately. Not sure what if anything I can do for it. Will continue & see.

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Tucker McKinnon
23 October 2014 @ 10:12 am
The past month or so I've been musicking.

It's a little weird to realise that I am deliberately choosing to practice. Not a lot: half-hour a day, 4-5 days a week. But still. Turns out, not being forced to do something makes it more likely I'll enjoy doing it.

On Monday I took my cello to a highly-regarded luthier to see if he could find a way to stop the horrible buzzing it makes when I play low notes, and also fix up anything else that looked like a problem. We spent about twenty minutes going over the whole thing. He identified a couple of things that I knew were problems (strings, bow hair), one or two things that I'd suspected were problems, and a few things that I hadn't noticed but were pretty obviously problematic when he pointed them out.

The thing about cheap cellos (and this is not an expensive cello) is that they cost about as much to fix as the expensive ones. Oh well. It's less than a new cello would run, and it'll be nice to have it in good shape again.



In other newsCollapse )

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Tucker McKinnon
19 October 2014 @ 02:44 pm
Quit The Day Job: "I've quit my job to be a writer at least four times." I love this so much.

Of the Genders there are sixe: "Ben Jonson, circa 1617, trying to bend English grammar on the anvil of Latin."

Because I will read anything even tangentially related to the terrible things Robert Moses did to New York and to American cities in general, 'The Power Broker' Turns 40: How Robert Caro Wrote a Masterpiece: "Caro is 78 years old. Gottlieb, who has edited every one of Caro’s books, is 83. 'He’s always saying, "Actuarially, you have to hurry up and finish this." It's a great remark!' Caro said."

How To Open a Wine Bottle With a Feather: a bit of worldbuilding that's mentioned a few times in the Dragaera books and that I always assumed involved sorcery or witchcraft. Awesome.

Trigger Warning: Life With PTSD: "It took years, and several diagnoses, to land on PTSD. My psychiatrist and I agreed that it was obvious in retrospect, but retrospect took decades to find."

Giant fish cannon shoots 40 salmon per minute, is actually saving the environment: "This isn’t the first time a massive cannon or vacuum has been used with salmon."

F.D.C. Willard, "Occupation: Rodentia Predation Consultant/Physicist." More details: "Dr. Hetherington did not relish revising and retyping the whole text, so, instead, he simply added a co-author: his Siamese cat Chester (sired by Willard). And for legitimacy, he tacked on two more initials, FD (from Felix domesticus) to create 'FDC Willard.'"

Why No One Used Camouflage Until WWI: "One cubist, Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scevola, was put in charge of a whole new department of the French Army devoted to camouflaging buildings, planes, cannons, trucks and installations. He described his task very succinctly: 'In order to deform totally the aspect of an object, I had to employ the means that cubists use to represent it.'"

Nimona. A (complete) comic / graphic novel about a self-appointed sidekick and her villain (kind of). Funny, clever, tense, occasionally sniffly. Worth reading. Out in dead-tree-form in May 2015.

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Tucker McKinnon
16 October 2014 @ 08:44 am
Elizabeth Peña, actress. You probably know her as the voice of Mirage from The Incredibles; she was also disturbing in the eminently disturbing Jacob's Ladder. She was one of those actresses I hoped to keep catching a glimpse of in something interesting every few years.



And from [personal profile] rushthatspeaks I learn that Zilpha Keatley Snyder has died as well.

Snyder's books were among those I read and reread from the Cumberland County library from fourth through eighth grade. I never got into the Stanley family books, likely on account of never figuring out where to start... but Green-sky (Below the Root, And All Between, Until the Celebration) and The Egypt Game and Eyes in the Fishbowl and others I devoured, over and over again.

I read A Fabulous Creature when I was far too young for it. James Archer Fielding's teenage sex-obsession went right over my head. His efforts to deal with shyness and fear and inaction, though, that I picked up on. Later I'd watch him attempt to salvage a relationship that was never what he thought it was, and wince in sympathy. (It is not as powerful as Le Guin's Very Far Away -- praising with faint damns -- but it makes an excellent companion piece.)

And The Changeling, a book about imagination, and growing up, and having a best friend who's cool and mysterious and hates her terribly family and is convinced that she's a changeling... it's an early book, it's not terribly coherent, and I loved loved loved it. A few years ago I came across an overpriced print-on-demand-ish "Author's Guild Edition" copy and bought it, because it's one of those books that I just need to have my own copy of to remind me of who I am and who I was.

So it goes.

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Tucker McKinnon
13 October 2014 @ 10:19 am
This year I'm most thankful for my ex-job. I'm thankful that it got me here, into permanent residency, and paid for two of us to live quite well for quite awhile. And now I'm thankful that it went away at what looks more and more like exactly the right time.

I'm also thankful that I'm in a situation where I can not have a job. I have the time and space to let my brain decompress from years and years of stress and expectations and trying to fit into the wrong boxes, and I have health insurance and savings and [personal profile] uilos's job.

I am thankful that Chaos has come out the other side of thyroid problems and is still his happy stubborn friendly self, and that Kai enjoys the hardwood floor here enough to bat toys up and down it at three in the morning. I'm thankful that they both come and sit with me from time to time.

I'm thankful for friends: local or far-away, in frequent contact or seen only rarely or ignored for far too long. I miss you non-gender-specific guys. I hope to be better about staying in contact and reaching out now that my brain has started to regrow, but no promises.

And always, always, for [personal profile] uilos. Love you.

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Tucker McKinnon
12 October 2014 @ 07:12 pm
Final count: of seven movies, one I very much enjoyed, one I enjoyed well enough, two that were alright, two that I disliked, and one that utterly baffled me. Down from last year, which had two I liked a lot, one that was alright, and two that I disliked. Oh well.



Zero Motivation, Ow, Elephant Song, LibertadorCollapse )

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Tucker McKinnon
08 October 2014 @ 08:58 am
The internet has been down since last night and I seem to have picked up a head cold at VCon last weekend. Blergh. On the bright side, I can leach internet from my phone as long as I don't overdo it, and the head-cold symptoms respond well to tylenol-sinus.

What are you currently reading?

Tiassa by Steven Brust, for the third time. Tiassa is my favorite of the Dragaera books, and in my top five of Steve's books overall. (Agyar, then Tiassa and Freedom & Necessity and Sun Moon & Stars fighting for second place, then either Taltos or The Phoenix Guards depending on how I'm feeling that day.)

What did you recently finish reading?

Iorich, also for the third time, I think. I mean, I read it when it came out, and I almost certainly reread it when Tiassa came out. I remembered basically nothing about it, though, which is an uncomfortable situation for me to be in with regards to a Dragaera book. (I've read all the books up through Issola enough times that they're imprinted in my memory, and I know Dzur and Jhegaala reasonably well.) Iorich is a perfectly decent Vlad book. It's not a triumph of intricate structure the way Tiassa and Taltos are, but it's got a solid mystery/conspiracy plot, plenty of snark, and some thinky thoughts about justice and law.

I also read Karl Schroeder's Ventus, because what was supposed to be a brief trip to the vet ended up as a three-hour tour of West Van and it was what I opened to on my phone. Nanotech terraforming space-opera that kept packing on more stuff until by the end I just wanted it to come to a resolution already. Unlike with Neal Stephenson I never felt like Schroeder had lost control of the Cool Stuff he was flooding the book with, and indeed it does all resolve quite well. I just... had hit my saturation point by about two-thirds in. Still quite good and worth reading, and I'll dig into the prequel Lady Of Mazes one of these days.

What do you think you'll read next?

Hawk, because it shipped yesterday. *happydance* (Which is why I'm rereading Iorich and Tiassa.)

After that I will finally get into Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice, Winner Of All The Awards, because I've been meaning to for well over a month and because Ancillary Sword shipped on Monday.

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Tucker McKinnon
01 October 2014 @ 11:57 am
Vancouver International Film Festival time again.

Based on an unscientific and statistically insignificant random sample, film is unsurprisingly terrible at women. Also at making movies I like.



Black Fly, Rekorder, The FoolCollapse )



Both Black Fly and Rekorder have, as their last scene, a backstory revelation that is supposed to cause one to Finally Understand the characters' torment and See The Film In A New Light. This lazy O.Henry crap is something newbie writers are warned against, and now I understand why.

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Tucker McKinnon
27 September 2014 @ 04:26 pm
The in-laws left shortly before six this morning. They caught a taxi to the airport and from there are flying to Portland, O'Hare, and then Richmond VA. At least I hope they are, O'Hare had some fire-related shenanigans yesterday that have almost certainly spilled over into today. Last report was they'd made it as far as Portland and had a flight to Chicago for, mm, probably about nowish.

They're not bad people, but they're not people I would normally associate with, and certainly not for a week at a time. In addition they're not *my* parents, so a lot of the stress [personal profile] uilos has been under is absent for me.

I don't really feel drained. (There's an argument to be made that after the past couple of years I don't really have the perspective to say.) I just... don't have any interest in doing any number of things I'd like to do. A shame since the sun is out.



Since writing the above we've seen a tugboat parade down on the Fraser River, including several bored tugboats doing donuts while waiting their turn and a couple of them getting into a shoving match. We've also gone down and wandered around the Riverfest celebration a bit, and taken a brief tour of the Fraser harbour on a paddlewheeler.

So that was fun but now I feel even more like staring at the wall for a few hours. Hoping I'll have the oompf to get up and go out to see people this evening...

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Tucker McKinnon
25 September 2014 @ 08:31 pm
James Nicoll (james_nicoll) writes really good book reviews. If you throw money at him he will write more of them.

I Am More Than OK With Not "Having It All": there is so much in this column that is exactly what I believe, from 'pick a dog [or other critter] that fits with how you expect your life to be for the next N years' to "I couldn't imagine inflicting childhood on my own child" to "even if I did miss out on the greatest love you can possibly know as a human being, I was actually just fine with the amount I already had." SO VERY MUCH THIS.

This Is Katie F-​-​-ing Ledecky: A Thesis About Kicking Ass: "This summer, wearing slow swimsuits, and without really being in major-competition shape, she broke every world record in her discipline, long-distance freestyle, over the course of a month and a half. Then she was like, ha! just kidding, so she broke a couple of them again."

The otherworldly and utterly Portland Ursula K. Le Guin: "We have to operate within capitalism, because at this point it's all there is. But if our minds aren’t controlled by it, if we think like free people, writers will figure out how to do our job: To write, get our writing to our readers, and maybe make a living from it."

The Purpose of Kata, which reminds me of nothing so much as the story of the journalist and Pau Casals. The journalist asked, "You're seventy years old and you've been playing the cello all your life, why do you still practice six, eight, ten hours a day?" and Casals answered, "Because I think I'm finally starting to get good at it."

For London's Cabbies, Job Entails World's Hardest Geography Test: a fantastic article on the Knowledge, the London cab drivers' exam and "a real-time, street-level test of memorization skills so intense that it physically alters the brains of those who pass it."

And finally, two essays that, separately and together, are making me rethink the whole idea of what I'm even doing with myself these days:

Avoidance. Oh, and getting out of it. This is perhaps the most useful thing I have read in a very long time. "You're avoiding the thing that’s holding all your dreams? Good grief! Of course you are! That symbolic weight? It's that much potential for hurt and disappointment."

Breaking The Low Mood Cycle, in which it is revealed that the point of breaking the low mood cycle is not to Do Things (though that is a likely side effect), it's to Break The Low Mood Cycle and feel better about being you.

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