Monthly Archives: July 2012

Response: The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises posterI’m not a big comic-book reader, except for the occasional graphic novel. But I do like superhero movies, and all the hype around The Dark Knight Rises meant I couldn’t wait to see the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

(No spoilers, unless you’re unusually sensitive.)

There’s some really good stuff here. The villain, Bane, could hardly be more different from the Joker, which enables him to mostly escape the long shadow cast by Heath Ledger — his imposing physicality dominates whenever he’s onscreen. His plot starts with a spectacular action sequence (yes, Nolan manages to surprise — not an easy feat nowadays) before a bit of a lull, then a series of events that escalates the stakes for Gotham well beyond what I expected.

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Friday Link: Humidity: Life in the Shire

Okay, it’s Saturday, so sue me. I was busy watching The Dark Knight Rises, all right? (More about that at a later date, probably. For now I’ll just say: great action, muddled emotional arc and plot. But then, I’m not quite the target audience — I like a bigger character arc, even in action movies, than most audiences seem to require.)

Anyway, here’s your Friday link. Has it been hot and humid where you are? It certainly has here. So this was refreshing to read:

When I stepped outside my front door this morning with Gibson to do the morning chores I was stepping into a brand new world from the one I left the night before. It has been so dry, for so long, and this morning the blessed humidity was back and I was bubbling with energy. My body instantly burst into a light sheen of sweat. I took in a deep breathe of the wet air and let it fill my lungs, smiling. In half an hour my body would be dripping, and then I’ll change into running gear and really learn what humidity is. Water and life, everywhere. I love humidity.

Read the rest at Cold Antler Farm’s blog (hat tip to Elisabeth Black for the link).

That’s it for this week. Go forth and practice enjoying the humidity, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.


6 Things I’ve Learned from my New House

It’s been almost four weeks since my significant other and I moved into our first house. We’ve had a steep learning curve. We were coming from a high-rise apartment building; the house is about 80 years old and mostly unrenovated, except for some basics like wiring.

So far, we’ve faced more logistics than we would’ve thought possible, which has been exhausting…but we’ve also fallen in love with our new neighbourhood (while not forgetting the old) and we’re still glad we moved.

Things I’ve learned so far:

1. Number your boxes. I numbered off the rooms in the new house, then numbered each box as I packed it: Room 1, Box 1, short description of contents. Boxes with higher numbers got packed later, so I knew the items in them were used more often and therefore they should be unpacked first. Bonus: the movers knew which room to put each box in. We’ve had almost no trouble finding anything. (We also haven’t unpacked everything — but that’s a post for another time.)

2. Be flexible. Our freestanding wardrobe wouldn’t fit up the stairs. It has now been repurposed as a pantry, supplementing our kitchen storage. I did have to mourn the loss of it in our bedroom, as well as come to terms with the way it dominated the kitchen, but I have to admit that it’s very useful in its new home.

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Genre-Bending: Just Barely Speculative Fiction

I’m fascinated by edge cases — genre-bending, cross-genre fiction, works that don’t fit neatly into categories. Today I’d like to talk about fiction that, for one reason or another, just barely qualifies as speculative fiction. Doesn’t mean it’s bad — often quite the opposite. It’s just doing something different.

First of all, I don’t mean literary fiction using genre tropes. That’s a whole ‘nother animal (one that I also enjoy). Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, for example, obviously uses the convention of time travel, but it doesn’t read like a genre work — it reads like women’s fiction or literary fiction, and it’s interested in the same sorts of ideas and themes. It’s using time travel to speak a non-genre language. Same for Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake or Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

What I’m interested in today is the reverse. What happens when a book is “speaking” speculative fiction, but it doesn’t use much or any technology that we don’t have today, or employ magic, or use any settings in imaginary worlds?

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Friday Link: Colour Photos from 1939-1943

Happy Friday!

I always love looking at really old colour photographs. I tend to imagine the pre-1960s world in black and white, so it boggles my mind when I run across images from those times in full colour…makes them feel much closer to the world I live in now, the divide much smaller.

These photographs, courtesy of the Denver Post blog, capture facets of American life during WWII, though many of them aren’t about the war but about rural life. There’s immense poverty, there’s pride, there’s beauty. If you’re a steampunk fan, you might find inspiration here. If you’re a lover of history, or of rural life, or of photography…click through and have a look.

That’s it for this week. I’ll see you back here on Monday. Go forth and enjoy your weekend!


Memory Lane: Learning to Swim

The pool where I learned to swim was a small L-shaped pool attached to a high school, nothing special. Except that I spent so many hours there, working through the Red Cross swim competency certifications — yellow, orange, red, all the way up to white — that the pool is still lodged firmly in my brain.

Even today I can tell you the layout, where the lanes ran, the side of the L where we learned to hold our breath underwater and made our first shaky attempts at the flutter kick. Later we graduated to the other side of the L, the Deep End, to master treading water and the harder swim strokes.

My best friend was in many of those classes. We had an imagination to rival each other’s, and at any opportunity we would play mermaids. The Deep End held the evil sea queen, Ursula from The Little Mermaid. (We knew it wasn’t true, but on some level, we believed.)

One of my proudest accomplishments was scaling the climbing rope. I was a skinny kid, but I did it, knot by knot, all the way up to the high ceiling, where I rang the bell hard, then dropped into the waiting water.

Where did you learn to swim?


Books to Help You Beat the Heat

Hot enough for you? I don’t know about you, but where I am, it’s been hot and sticky for weeks and doesn’t look like it’s going to let up anytime soon. Here are some reading suggestions for summer…

Beat the Heat

If you’re dreaming of a good snowstorm, these might help.

1. Rider at the Gate by C.J. Cherryh. Set on a snowy alien planet. Cherryh takes the well-worn concept of telepathic bonds between human and animal — and twists hard. The half-tamed nighthorses are intelligent and highly dangerous, but they and their riders are necessary for travel, because what’s out there in the wild and the cold is even worse. There’s also a sequel, Cloud’s Rider.

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Friday Link: The Shocking Things I Did This Weekend

No, not the kind of shocking you think. As a follow-up to Wednesday’s post about relearning how to have fun, I have to point you to someone else who was thinking the same thing. Cordelia (of Cordelia Calls It Quits) writes,

I used to be that peculiar kid off at the far end of the playground, singing a little song to herself on a swing while all the normal children played tag (or whatever it is that normal children do).  I would imagine I was swinging directly into the trees in front of me, or directly into the sky above, and I remember it feeling so beautiful and transcendent that it “ached,” as Anne Shirley would say.  It never occurred to me to worry if the other kids would think I was weird for doing it.  We’d have lunch together after recess and teach each other new versions of “Miss Mary Mack,” and it would be all cool.  I was me, they were them, we were friends, and life was beautiful.

I can’t tell you the last time I lost myself—forgot myself—in my surroundings like that.  Only, now I can.  Because I did it this weekend.  And it was lovely.

If that speaks to you, be sure to click through and read the rest. It’s a fantastic story.

I’m off to try and do the same this weekend. Hope you do, too. See you back here on Monday!

Learning to Have Fun


I’ve been thinking lately about having fun, reclaiming fun, relearning that pure intense joy that we have as children and so often lose as adults.

Alice Bradley of writes:

I cannot begin to tell you how fun this [art] class was. It was stupid fun. I can’t explain it. We didn’t do anything ground-breaking. But by the end of the class I was giddy. I get such joy from this, it’s embarrassing. Why is it embarrassing, you ask? That is an excellent question…

(read the rest)

I could talk about responsibilities and adulthood. I could talk about how being with my significant other can make even the most mundane or tedious thing fun, as long as we both let it happen. I could talk about contra dance, the thing that is for me what art is for Alice (oh wait, I already did) (and no, it’s not writing…that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).

But today I want to focus on buses.

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Author Spotlight: SF and Fantasy Writer Lois McMaster Bujold

In this Author Spotlight series, I’m talking about other SF&F writers. The aim is to showcase authors who may not be the most famous, and to give you enough information to decide whether you might enjoy their work.

Today’s featured author is Lois McMaster Bujold. She’s a multi-award-winning American writer best known for her science fiction, namely the long-running Vorkosigan series, and she has also written some very thoughtful off-world (secondary-world) fantasy…

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