Category Archives: History

Reading Notes, 6/17/21

Finished Reading

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury

A reread for me. I’m 90% sure I originally bought this books in college at UNL’s University Bookstore. Despite that I continually call this book Zen AND the Art of Writing

This was a good reread for me. I’ve been flailing around with my writing and my thoughts about being a writer. Leaving writing behind hasn’t seemed right for me, but I’ve also developed some fairly toxic attitudes toward what I should be doing instead of just enjoying writing. And writing can be difficult, so “enjoyment” is often not quite the right sentiment. Bradbury’s sheer enthusiasm is the kind of infection I need right now. I do wish the book would have presented these essays in chronological order. I think I might leave myself a note to read it that way the next time I reread it. And, no doubt, there will be a next time.

I’m resisting a Moby Dick read-through that’s happening on reddit, but I think Bradbury’s Green Shadows, White Whale will be another “writing” book to reread later on in the summer.

This is my second of “10” Books of Summer!

Deal Me In

3♠️: “Black Flowers Blossom” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
I will admit, this story is smuttier than I’m used to. Nothing against it, but my fiction tastes don’t usually run toward the erotic. But, this is a pretty neat little story following an eldritch “horror” and an occult detective through various time periods.

Currently Reading

  • The Hypno-Ripper, edited by Donald K. Hartman – Nearly finished! I plan to review it next Tuesday.
  • The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science by John Tresch – I’ve been thinking some time about the use of sciences in 19th century fiction. This book came across my radar and I had to jump on it.
  • Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert – My Dune saga continues.


Monday Miscellanea, 6/14/21

Watching/Listening

My writing “playlist” has been nearly exclusively David Bowie concerts. Thank you, YouTube bootleggers. One of my favorite things about Bowie concerts/performances of the mid-90s onward is his duet of “Under Pressure” with touring/session bassist Gale Ann Dorsey. Dorsey may be one of the coolest people in existence. Not only is she doing justice to Freddy Mercury’s original vocals alongside David-frickin’-Bowie, she’s also playing one of the most iconic bass lines in rock music.

Getting Back to It (or not)

Weather foracst: Mon: 115, Tues: 118, Wed: 116, Thurs: 118...

I am not ready for summer. Did I mention we recently got a new AC unit? Man, I am happy about that.

Anyway, back around when I got my second vaccine jab, I mentioned that my parents were on their way to being vaccinated as well. In fact, they were not and have no intention of being vaccinated. It’s been interesting to find out where family members, both close and extended, stand on this issue of public (and personal) health and safety. And, by “interesting,” I mean painful in a way that I can only give 2020 credit for.

What Am I Promo-ing?

Cover: Luck for Hire by Eric and Katherine Nabity

Luck for Hire

“If science is a product of observation, then magic is the manipulation of what isn’t or can’t be observed.”

Aleister Luck is a private investigator based in Las Vegas who has his own brand of slightly chaotic magic. He goes where his luck takes him, which seems to be in the path of his ex-girlfriend, a lawyer whose client has gone missing.

Available at Amazon.com.

Reading Notes, 6/10/21

Finished Reading

God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert

According to my blog archive, I finished my first reading of Children of Dune in 2006. I then tried to read God Emperor of Dune. Eric had warned me that it was a tough read. I don’t know when I gave up on it, but it made a reappearance on my 2011 TBR. I don’t think I ever got to it in 2011. Around the internet, the general advisement for God Emperor was, read the Wikipedia entry and the Fandom article and move on. When I set up my Dune “challenge” for this year, I allotted one month each for the first three books (these were rereads) and two months each for the last three. Which meant that I needed to finish God Emperor around the end of May. I decided that if I didn’t finish it by then, I’d give in and read the summaries. I planned a chapter a day; classic “eating the elephant” strategy. And it worked! So, fifteen years after my first try:

God Emperor of Dune is sort of an awkward book. Without delving into too much research about the matter, it feels like Frank Herbert had a good idea for the first three books, which were marketed as a trilogy at the time. The books were successful and Herbert had more ideas—why not write more Dune books? Well, the next phase of the story really required some set up. More set up than could be handled in exposition. So, God Emperor ends up being this weird bridge book. All the characters that you’ve come to know in the first three books are gone or very changed. Except for Duncan Idaho, who has really been more of a background character until now. Things happen, there are some important events that set up Heretics of Dune, but there is also a lot of philosophy and a lot of people scheming in rooms to not much avail.

I’m glad I got through it, but I probably didn’t gain a huge amount by reading the book instead of reading the summaries.

All the Flavors by Ken Liu

All the Flavors was a novella originally published by GigaNotoSaurus. I ended up with a copy of it on my Kindle and, while cataloging titles, I decided to impulse read it. I haven’t read much of Ken Liu’s works though The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is very well regarded among people I know.

This story is subtitled “A Tale of Guan Yu, the Chinese God of War, in America.” It’s sort of a take on the Yellow Peril stories that became a thing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in America. Based on history, somewhat, it involves Chinese workers in Idaho. Very good; I liked it a lot. Also, my first Book of Summer!

Currently Reading

  • The Hypno-Ripper: Or, Jack the Hypnotically Controlled Ripper; Containing Two Victorian Era Tales Dealing with Jack the Ripper and Hypnotism, edited by Donald K. Hartman – So far, it’s a little slow. To be fair, Hartman warns of this.
  • Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert – I’m reading a chapter a day.
  • Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury – A book I keep mis-titling. Reading an essay or so a day.

Reading Challenge Check-In

The Classics Club
Goal: 10 Books by 12/14/21
Progress: 5/10
✅ Read Mosses from an Old Manse by Nathanial Hawethorn

#ShelfLove
Goal: Abstain from acquiring books; read at least 21 books from my shelves.
Progress: 1 pre-order, 3 free books, 2 very cheap books, 4 ARC/review copies; 5/21+
⭕ On one hand, I’ve read a few of my own books. On the other, I’ve still acquired a few too many ARCs/review copies…

I Read Horror Year-Round
Goal: Read 6 books from 6 categories.
Progress: 2/6
⭕ No progress here at the moment, yet I don’t feel behind.

Nonfiction
Goal: Read at least 30% nonfiction.
Progress: Currently 35%
✅ Back up after The Haunting of Alma Fielding and finishing up some nonfiction “morning” books.


Monday Miscellanea, 6/7/21

Photo by Guilherme Rossi on Pexels.com

Tales from an Unwieldy Library

I’ve finished cataloging my physical books, aside from a shelf of old textbooks. I’m not counting textbooks in my “to-read” numbers and most of them are Eric’s anyway. I’ve added a few Kindle books, but got side-tracked reading a novella that doesn’t have a Library Thing entry…

Number of books in my library: 808
Number “To-Read”: 429

So, right now, about 53% of my library is unread. I intend to dump some of the Kindle freebies I’ve picked up over the year. Maybe I should restart Down the TBR Hole posts for my Kindle books…

Getting Back to It

After out restart, I’m three weeks into running the Wednesday/Friday fully-vaccinated lunchtime ultimate frisbee game. The response has been pretty good. In fact, I might be slightly responsible for two people deciding to get vaccinated in order to join us. Now, I’m dealing with the usual summer problems of heat and sprinklers being on. Everyone is a little rusty in one way or another. Some people hadn’t been too active in a year, others haven’t throw a disc much in that time. Eric and I had continued to run and throw with each other over the hiatus, but that means I got better at throwing to a 6’3″ fast guy and he got used to throwing to a 5’2″ slow girl.

We got our AC unit replaced last Monday. It’s wonderful.

And I’ve been writing. I don’t really want to say too much about what I’m writing or what my intent is, but I’m doing that thing that involves putting words on paper in a story kind of way.

What Am I Promo-ing?

I also want to start shining a light on the stuff I’ve already written.

Model Species is the first book that Eric and I wrote set in the fiction world of Woerdan. Weordan started as a kind of a thought experiment: Could we make a magic system in a fantasy world out of science? Eric spun through the options and settled on the people of Weordan having a different biology that could manage some levels of energy manipulation. This could only happen in a world with a slightly different make-up than our own.

Model Species took a lot of work. Beneath being true to the system, it’s a murder mystery with an duo of inspectors that I’m rather fond of. And talking moths. Model Species is available at Amazon.com.

Monday Miscellanea, 5/31/21

Programming Note

I’m always tinkering around with my blogging “schedule;” I think reviews work better for me later in the week, so I’m moving my Miscellanea posts to Monday, where also the obvious alliteration is.

From Around the Internet

Via Dominic Noble on YouTube: The First (and Worst) Adaptation of The Hobbit
Oh, the things that are done in the name of retaining rights…

Watching

I didn’t have a Cinema Saturday post because I watched no movies in the past week. Instead I’ve been watching two series.

The first is Intelligence.

This is a Canadian series from 2006, centered around organized crime in Vancouver. The plots are intricate without being baffling; the characters are compelling and articulate. It’s one of my husband’s favorite shows, but this is my first watch-through. It’s currently streaming on Nextflix.

I’m also rewatching The Haunting of Hill House series (2018). Now that I now what’s going on, I can appreciate the non-linear timeline more. I still don’t see the background ghosts though. It turns out that people with face-blindness are less susceptible to pareidolia.

Getting Back to It

Our air conditioning has been on the fritz. Again. There was obviously a refrigerant leak in the system somewhere. They “topped it up” last year, which was fine since it was at the beginning of the pandemic and that was handled without anyone coming into the apartment. When the situation was the same this year, our landlady decided to have the unit replaced. The one we had was a ’95 model, so it was probably time. Apartment #1 in our building had theirs replaced near the end of last summer. The AC guys are here as I write this, so I’m looking forward to a cooler apartment later today and hopefully slightly lower electric bills this summer.

Miscellanea, 5/20/21

(from Jan. 2019, photo by Chikara Kakizawa)

Getting Back to It

Before yesterday, the last time I played ultimate frisbee was March 10, 2020. It was a Tuesday night league game. At the start of the game, it was drizzling, but not windy. The fields were soft, but not muddy. The rain got heavier and for the sake of the grass (something to be appreciated in the Phoenix area), we called the game off with a score of 8–8. Surprisingly, the rain continued on and off for the next couple of days. I cancelled my Wednesday and Friday pickup games and Thursday night’s league games were cancelled too.

And by the next week, COVID happened. I could have probably run my pickup game for a week or two longer. People were willing to play, but no one quite knew what was going on or how big the risks were. And I am not a risk-taker. Not when it comes to other people’s health anyway.

Happily this week, I restarted the WLDisc pickup game. Not coincidentally, I’m two weeks post-vaccine as of Tuesday. Since the game is a fairly closed group, I’ve also requested that everyone be vaccinated. I want the game to be safe and to be relatively worry-free.

I’m not sure I could have planned such an utterly different game than that one in March 2020. Clear skies, hot sun. It was probably around 95F. We played four-on-four, mostly, on a smaller field. And it was great. I had missed it, but also it wasn’t hard to be relaxed in that normal activity. Other than going to a store, it was the most people I had been around in over a year too.

And hopefully I’ll do it again tomorrow.

Reading Notes, 5/17/21

Bout of Books 31 Wrap-up

Last week was actually kind of stressful, despite my optimistic Monday attitude. I had a goal of reading 700 pages for BoB and ended up reading 648 pgs. Considering I got into a big don’t-feel-like-reading mood around Thursday, that’s pretty good.

  • I finished reading A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (and reviewed it!). I’ll say it again, I definitely recommend it.
  • I also finished Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. It’s her follow-up to Writing Down the Bones. I’ve been reading a chapter or so of a writing-related book every morning for a while now.
  • I made a good start on Mosses from an Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne and read a couple other short stories as well.

Currently Reading