shopping cart of love, romance
I hope all of you had a safe and happy Passover.

What I've recently finished since my last post:

The Unknown Ajax and The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer, both comfort rereads. The first is the one with a sold-out Major of the Fusiliers raised by Yorkshire mill-owner who is suddenly the heir of a Kentish baron and, upon arrival for inspection, decides to live down to his new family's expectations because he is a Troll Hero; distinguishing plot elements include belligerent sexual tension with a tall heroine, an elderly family patriarch with failing finances, dialect writing, secret passages, and smugglers. The second is the one with a sold-out Captain of the Hussars who, on his way through Derbyshire to a friend's hunting lodge, decides to take over running a turnpike's empty toll-booth because he is, apparently, still fifteen; distinguishing plot elements include mutual love at first sight with a tall heroine, an elderly family patriarch with failing finances, dialect writing, secret caverns, and highwaymen. Despite these features, they are in fact distinguishable -- mainly by how the climax of Ajax is Heyer's best extended comic sequence outside of, arguably, The Grand Sophy.

Also comfort reread: a couple volumes of Yotsuba&!, picked up more or less at random.

Cornwall in Poetry ed. by Peter Redgrove, another from the Endicott West library sale. Slender but tasty, with plenty of moderns: aside from Thomas Hardy and a Victorian, almost all the poets were alive when it was published in 1982.

What I'm reading now:

The World's Best Poetry ed. Bliss Carmen, volume V, though not very quickly, as a run of tediously sentimental verses about flowers sent me skittering back to Poems of Places, where I've bounded through almost all of volume III (England O-T). I gather the Thames is important to the English national consciousness (almost as important as London, by the body poem count). Not that I couldn't figure this from Poly-Olbion.

What I might read next:

Possibly Heyer's Sylvester (prompted by this).


anime, gobsmacked, kiss, buh?
I've complained before about seeing a man (and it has always been a man) drive up to somewhere (usually an office building) and get out, whereupon a woman in the passenger seat also gets out and switches over to the driver's seat, and heads off as he goes inside. It is, to me, confusing behavior -- if the point is to drop the husband (or whatever status he is) off at work, why not have him passenge and avoid all the shuffling? Well, whatever.

In any case, I've now seen a new variation. This time it was not a man, but a butch woman.

(And yes, she kissed her femme before heading into work.)


Subject quote from "A Fuller Wine," Abigail Washburn.


eating, Yotsuba chomps, yum, chomp
Is there Passover cleaning? Yes. Yes, there is.

An extended Buzzfeed profile of Tom Lehrer. Given my mother got her doctrate from Harvard/Radcliff in the early 1960s, I was of course raised on his songs. (And Pogo comics.) (via)

It's been a while since I last linked to This to That, the best-named website for gluing advice. I should probably link it again sometime.

Reionize electrons. (via)


Subject quote from "Come On Come On," Mary Chapin Carpenter.

gone, disappearance, vanished away
Kate Beaton writes about working for two years at a mining site: Ducks. (via all over)

Kawehi covers NIN's "Closer." (via?)

Shakespeare's plays summarized as three-panel comic strips. Well, mostly three panels. (via?)

(Up half the night coughing. Bleagh.)


Subject quote from "Elastic Heart," Sia.

crossdressing, why me, annoyed, dot dot dot, argh
(This cough can go away any day now.)

Genderswapped prom photos.

(No, really, it can. ANY DAY AT ALL.)

The Itchy Feet guide to differentiating asian scripts. (via)

(Yesterday would work for me. I can pencil that into my schedule.)

A high-level tour of accents of the British Isles in 90 seconds as performed by an acting coach. The comments here are a bit critical of the performance. (via)

(Or a week ago. That'd be even bet-- *cough* *cough* *hack* *hack* *wheeze* ... ugh ... )


Subject quote from the Iliad.

completed, done, finished
On the neurological basis for why it's so hard to leave high school behind. (via?)

The Practical Utopian's Guide to the Coming Collapse is not very well titled: it's an argument for what the next revolution should push for. (via?)

A report from a pay-for-paper writer. See also. (via)


Subject quote from "Love Sight," Dante Gabriel Rossetti.


Wednesday reading meme post-thingy

completed, done, finished
Though the meme seems to be waning, alas. Ah, well. Won't be the first time I'm behind the shifting winds of fashion.

What I've recently finished since my last post:

Haiku Love tr. by Alan Cummings - A collection of haiku and senryu on the topic, arranged (with a handwave at the tradition of imperial waka anthologies) to roughly along youth/first love -> middle-age/married love -> old age/late and widowed love. The translations are quite good (I had only a few quibbles on style, and none on accuracy) and the selection includes a generous helping from the 20th century. Note, though, it's not a large collection, with most of the space taken with rather nice art from the British Museum.

Cosmos by Carl Sagan - A reread from long ago: shortly after the original series aired with me glued to the TV. A YouTube randomwalk into Vangelis's main theme gave me flashbacks, which I've thus medicated. Now I want to reread James Bruke's Connections.

Tokyo Ravens volumes 2-4 by Kôhei Azano - At first it looked like we'd descended into the land of Second Book Flanderizing of the protagonist's denseness into stupidity and the tediously traditional tsundere into physical abuse (bonus points, though, for making the tsundere cross-dress because Family Duty -- I'll take that trope any day). In each of these volumes, however, the story shows up quickly, forcing the protagonist to be emotionally intelligent for plot reasons early and often. At least in the main novels: the side-stories that are the second half of volume 4 are character-based "comedy" only and eminently skippable.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy - Zooks, but this is pulp adventure. You can see every twist (what few of them there are) ten French meters off, but it still grips you. Effective brain candy when you rilly want escapism and to Not Think.

Handsome Girlfriend volumes 1-9 by Wataru Yoshizumi - Not my favorite mangaka ever but I've liked pretty much everything I've read of hers. This was her first hit series, from before Marmalade Boy, and embodies an even more innocent idea of romance -- not to mention an idealized vision of show business. The handsome girl of the title is one Mio Hagiwara, a teenage actress getting tired of being cast as the rival of her best friend, who meets an up-and-coming director wannabe who compares her to Lauren Bacall (the art almost justifies this). Cue nine volumes of teen celebrity soap opera. Not as good as, say, Yoshizumi's Random Walk, but not bad if you don't want to be terribly challenged and are into Ribon-style shoujo romances.

Tenshi no Uta ("angel's song," also translated as "angel voice") volumes 1-9 by Kumi Makimura - A more nuanced, and possibly more realistic, manga about life in the entertainment industry. Our heroine, Mayu, is noticed by her favorite singer, Yûya, at a karaoke booth singing some of his hits, and after a romantic night together they part without his learning her name. Her mad karaoke skillz later lead to Mayu being recruited by guitarist Tôga as lead singer for his rock band -- which she accepts as a way of entering Yûya's world and so meeting him again. Cue story that's equal parts How Show-Biz Works & angsty love dodecahedron. The best parts may be the concert scenes: Makimura is excellent at conveying the energy and charisma of performers, Mayu and Yûya especially, without the music or motion used to create it. (I'm actually on volume 8 this morning but expect to finish today, so counting this as done.)

What I'm reading now:

The World's Best Poetry ed. Bliss Carmen, volume V - Still enjoying in odd moments of concentration. I will say, though, that the title is a bit inflated, given how little poetry in translation I've met, most from German.

Maria-sama ga Miteru ("Lady Mary is watching") volumes 7-8 by Oyuki Konno - I don't think this is a reread, but I can't be certain, as I've bounced through the series all out of order -- and in any case I know the stories from the anime. (For a series summary, see Wiki.) As we approach the end of Yumi's first year of high school, her onee-sama's onee-samas, the Roses of the student council, graduate. Cue relationship angsts over a two-volume arc. (Am partway through volume 8 but since they're really the same installment counting both as in progress.)

Pen Pal by Francesca Forrest - Early in and got interrupted by events, so have little to say at this point aside from: the voices? -- oh so wonderfully handled. As they need be, in an epistolary novel.

What I officially Did Not Finish:

The first Pimpernel sequel, I Will Repay. Dumas may be just as sympathetic to the aristocratic party, but he at least admits the Revolution happened because Reasons and makes his jerkasses more entertaining.

What I might read next:

Something easy on this bear of very little brain.


gone, disappearance, vanished away
Annnnd we're back from the funeral of (and the start of cleaning up after) my father-in-law. I've no clue what's been happening in the lesser world of my f-list or the greater world of, well, the world. Too tired to care. (I did, however, enjoy the moment as we were preparing to depart for the airport when we realized that there was a random SF convention at our hotel: members of our tribe, wandering about.) And too tired of this cold we both picked up.

So have some divertimenti:

Céu is a Brazilian pop singer-songwriter with a lovely voice and downtempo music perfect for writing to, and her label is on Bandcamp -- which means her albums are available streaming. (link via)

I don't understand it and the video is more than a little disturbing, but I like this song by Deserts Chang. (via, which has other other good stuff)

Another HD timelapse: Yosemite. (via)


Subject quote from "Belshazzar," Henry Hart Milman.

twirls, revolutions, spirals, curlicues, what tangled tales we weave
Some vaguely sociology links. Or at least dealing with humans. Something like that.

The standard story about the murder of Kitty Genovese is wildly inaccurate: bystanders did intervene. The supposed 38 witnesses is inflated: of the 33 people who heard something at some point, the bulk had no clear understanding of what was going on. (via sovay)

When you compare siblings where one is was breast-fed and another was not -- in otherwords automatically control for environment -- you find that the benefits of breast-feeding largely disappear. (via?)

A profile of burrnesha, a class of Albanian transmen that is dying out because of cultural changes. It tries to be trans-respectful, but stumbles in parts. (via)


Subject quote from "Dirge" from Death's Jest Book, Thomas Lovell Beddoes.

run run run, enjoy everything, Yotsuba runs
Links collected together because of their inherent coolness, despite the magma:

Flying a camera drone into an erupting volcano = FANTASTICALLY COOL FOOTAGE. (via)

How to make a paper airplane fly indefinitely: an electric stove.

Gandalf checks his email. You're welcome. (via)


Subject quote from "Bright Ideas," Greg Laswell.

completed, done, finished
What I've recently finished since my last post:

Beautiful Warrior: The Legend of the Nun's Kung Fu by Emily Arnold McCully - The story of Shaolin nun Wu Mei and her student Mingyi, better known to history (but not the text) as Wing Chun. Yes, it's a wuxia picture book -- by a Caldecott winner with a lovely watercolor style. The treatment of history is a bit odd, as it includes the Manchu invasion but ignores the suppression of Shaolin. As a picture book, though, it is quite fine.

Kaze no Stigma volume 6 - This is, alas, the last of the series -- just as the main Big Bad has shown up. bookelfe recently mentioned, in a post about Psmith, the concept of a Troll Hero -- specifically the aristocratic British version of same, such as Peter Wimsey, Lymond, and, well, Psmith. In TV Tropes terms, however, I think these are all actually Gadfly Heroes: they don't do the upperclass irritant out of malice but either amusement or by way of provoking clues. Kazuma, though, is very much trolling for malice, especially when it comes to the Kannagi family that disowned him -- them, he's out to burn. While still amusing the reader, of course.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk volume 4 - Still in the (first) tournament arc, and not yet done -- it ends in the middle of the firt semi-final bout. Still entertaining, though I still like it best when it focuses on the protagonist and his partner (especially over the politics around the other five magic fighting schools of the six-sided Asterisk).

Tokyo Ravens volume 1 by Kôhei Azano - Contemporary fantasy with weaponized onmyôdô as the magic system and a seemingly powerless scion of a once-powerful family as the protagonist. This volume starts slowly but resolves neatly, has a tediously typical tsundere childhood friend with more interesting depths than usual, and features a more than usually dense protagonist, though he at least he's good-natured about it. Plus there's signs of the series getting potentially interesting -- not the least being a tentative acknowledgement that Something Awful Happened during WWII. The next volume looks to involve attending Ye Magicke High School, though, so we'll see.

Plum Blossom: Poems of Li Ch'ing-Chao tr. James Cryer, containing all 40-odd poems generally agreed on as hers plus a dozen of the dubious poems the translator felt were most like the canonical works. Li Qingzhao (to pinyanize her) is arguably China's best female poet, active at the end of the Northern Song and start of the Southern Song dynasties, writing mostly ci -- which are strictly patterned stanzaic poems written to existing (now all lost) tunes. You can't tell that by the treatment here, as Cryer turns them in the a wash of short-lined free verse, all of which sound more or less alike. Meh. The ink brush illustrations are, however, delightful. (This is, btw, another book from the library of Endicott West.)

Lots of random-walk articles from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which has grown into a substantial resource over the last decade. The two main walks started with Margaret Fell and Theodore Adorno -- though set theory may set me on another.

What I'm reading now:

The World's Best Poetry ed. Bliss Carmen, volume V - A 1904 anthology much on the same lines as the more famous Home Book of Verse, which I thought I had posted about a few years back, but I cannot find it. Hmph. Anyway, this is an American-created multivolume compendeum of verse, organized thematically -- volume V being the nature verse, which I tend to start with for this sort of thing. (Always skip the section of poetry on childhood, especially if that's at the start.) I'm not liking the selection quite as much as the equivalent section of Home Book of Verse (link to Gutenberg text), but it's still quite readable.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions and Severall Steps in My Sickness by John Donne - Christian devotional writing by John Donne at the height of his abilities as a preacher -- the personification of Rhetoric must have been proud, though Montaigne's opinion of this adaptation of his methods cannot be guessed at. This is best known, of course, for its examination of existential insularity and ontological campanology.

What I might read next:

i hate this question


... a place for posting bits of fluff caught in my filters. Warning: I list "very bad poetry" among my interests.

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