Thursday, June 30, 2011

TWO THINGS! Both Dresden Files related, god help us all...

1 - There's a Camp NaNo this year. So...uh...I'm doing that? WTH. Pretty sure it'll be this prompt from the kinkmeme: 'Ever since I read With or Without, I've been obsessing about the following:

"My dreams, every night since I'd seen Thomas were...they were filled with Marcone. And not the old one, the one where Marcone drugged me and locked me up in a tiny cell beneath his mansion until I broke."

I really, really want to read about Marcone drugging Harry and locking him up in a tiny cell beneath his mansion until he broke. Gen is good, Marcone/Harry is better.'

I'd originally thought to split off from canon toward the end of Fool Moon, but someone commented suggesting the end of the train scene in Death Masks. And...I like it. So probably that.

2 - TALK ME OFF THE LEDGE! I'm considering buying my copy of Ghost Story and getting it signed through the Dog Eared Books Virtual Signing. Which would mean that the copy of the book would cost me about $35 instead of $14. Keeping in mind that I'm also buying the book on Kindle for $14 and audiobook for $30. So I don't need it signed, right? Right?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The More Things Change

See if any of this sounds familiar:

"The year 49 B.C. saw the world turned upside down. The Roman Republic was facing catastrophe, thanks to a civil war in which one of the protagonists was Gaius' great-uncle.

What were the causes of the crisis? It was partly the product of stubborn political, military, and economic facts, and partly of colorful but obstinate personalities.

It was also the inadvertent outcome of astonishing success. As the patricians and the plebs fought for constitutional mastery, Rome's legions slowly fought their way through Italy in war after war until they controlled the peninsula. After a titanic struggle with Carthage in northern Africa, the Republic emerged as a Mediterranean power by the beginning of the second century B.C.

From then on, Rome increasingly acted as an international 'policeman', sending its legions to right wrongs in foreign countries - especially the Hellenistic kingdoms of the Middle East. Invited to intervene by some Greek cities, it vanquished Macedonia and eventually annexed it as a Roman province. It went on to defeat Antiochus, King of Syria, who unwisely challenged Rome to a fight. In 133 B.C., the king of Pergamum (in today's western Turkey) died, leaving his kingdom to Rome, which renamed it the province of Asia.

The Republic was now the leading power not only in the western Mediterranean but also in the Middle East. It commanded an empire stretching from Spain (which it had inherited from the Carthaginians nearly a century before) to western Turkey. A band of client kingdoms marked the boundary with the Parthian empire (today's Iraq and Iran).

The triumph of Rome has puzzled historians down the centuries. Of the many factors that accounted for the city's emergence on the world stage, the most important was that from their earliest beginnings Romans lived in a permanent state of struggle - with their enemies abroad and with one another at home. Tempered in that fire, they became formidable soldiers as well as learning the political arts of negotiation, compromise, and anger resolution. Flexible and skilled at improvisation, they developed a practical imagination. They usually tried to settle a dispute, if they could, without violence, but when military force became necessary, they applied it with a ruthless vigor.

Three important consequences followed Rome's emergence as a super-power. The first was a huge influx of wealth and slaves. Direct taxation for Roman citizens living in Italy was abolished. The lives of the ruling class became more and more opulent, the frequent festivals and gladiatorial games increasingly elaborate. With the opening up of foreign markets, cheap grain flooded into Italy, driving the native smallholder out of business and replacing him with large livestock ranches often run with slave labor.

The rural unemployed fled to the big city, which became yet bigger. Unfortunately, the job market could not expand to soak up the refugees from the countryside. The authorities began to provide free grain to quiet a febrile and uncontrollable urban population.

Second, to manage such extensive dominions demanded substantial military forces. In the old days, country smallholders were called up to fight short military campaigns as and when necessary. Now standing armies were required, with soldiers serving for long periods. These soldiers depended on their generals to persuade the Senate to allocate farms to them when they retired, either in Italy or further afield. These farms would be their 'pensions'.

Largely as a result of conquest, the state owned a good deal of land. However, rich landowners, among whom were many senators, had quietly appropriated much of it without payment. These noble squatters were, to put it mildly, disinclined to disgorge their ill-gotten gains. So the legionaries depended on their generals to bully, finesse, or persuade the Senate to free up land for their retirement farms. They developed a loyalty to their generals rather than to Rome.

The third consequence of empire was the strain that its administration placed on the ruling class, and indeed on the Republic's constitution. So large was the throughput of elected officials that it is hardly surprising that their caliber was variable. A good number were corrupt and incompetent.

Many Romans believed that their traditional virtues of austere duty and healthy poverty were being eroded, and that this decadence explained the growing violence and selfishness of political life. The picture was not quite so bleak as it was depicted, for some nobiles worked hard to maintain standards. However, others did live in extravagant, irresponsible, and self-indulgent ways, and it was they who set the tone." - p. 16 - 18, The Life of Rome's First Emperor Augustus, Anthony Everitt

Sunday, June 26, 2011

today is a good day

1. X-Men: First Class - third time. I'm obsessed. I admit it and have no shame! None!

2. Season premier of True Blood. Hallo Eric!

3. Season premier of Leverage! All the peoples!

4. 1 month until Ghost Story.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Eldritch Horror Living In My Car

Saturday I had to take my dog to the vet. Routine shots, etc. No big deal, right?

I get there and the parking lot is more full than usual and I wind up parking in a different area from where I usually do. Next to some woods.

Well, I get out of the car and for some entirely *stupid* reason I leave my door open while I go in the back of the car to get Baby out. I get Baby on his leash and unhooked from the seatbelt, close the back door and turn to close my door. To find this:


So I stand there, one hand on the door, wondering if I swing the door really fast, will it catch the spider? And of course, in that hesitation, the damn thing crawls all the way into the car. I got to watch it scurry across my dashboard and then *fold itself* into the defrost vents for the windshield.


I'm running on the theory that the spider has either crawled out of the car again, or crawled into the engine and died, or just dropped dead or spider related whatevers, because I haven't seen it again, and trust me I've been *looking*. I do not want to see him ever, ever again.

Spiders. Ugh. So. Gross.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Augustus Notes From Ch. 1

"The family seems to have been in trade, a sure sign that it was not of aristocratic status. Gaius' paternal great-grandfather fought in Sicily as a military tribune during the second war against the great merchant state of Carthage in North Africa."

"Gaius' grandfather, who lived to an advanced age, was well-off, but had no ambitions for a career in national politics, being apparently content to hold local political office.

"Later hostile gossip claimed that the great-grandfather was an ex-slave who, having won his freedom, made a living as a rope maker in the neighborhood of Thurii, a town in Italy's deep south. It was also rumored that the grandfather was a money changer, with 'coin-stained hands.' Friendly propagandists took a different tack and invented a fictitious link with a blue-blooded Roman clan of the same name."

"Gaius merely noted that he 'came from a rich old equestrian family.' The equites, or knights, were the affluent middle class, occupying a political level below that of the nobility and members of the ruling Senate, but often overlapping with them socially."

Men who were 'novus homo' - 'new men', people who came from the non-noble levels of society but were elevated due to having made their fortunes had a hard time breaking in to politics. "The Roman constitution was a complicated contraption of checks and balances, and the odds were stacked against an outsider winning a position of authority."

"Rome became a republic in 509 B.C., after driving out its king and abolishing the monarchy. The next two centuries saw a long struggle for power between a group of noble families, patricians, and ordinary citizens, plebians, who were excluded from public office. The outcome was an apparent victory for the people, but the old aristocracy, supplemented by rich plebian nobles, still controlled the state. What looked in many ways like a democracy was, in fact, an oligarchy modified by elections."

Only Roman men were allowed to vote.

"By tradition, the paterfamilias held the power of life and death over his household, both his relatives and his slaves. When a child was born, the midwife took the infant and placed it on the floor in front of the father. Should the father wish to acknowledge his paternity, he would lift the baby into his arms if it was a boy; if a girl, he would simply instruct that she be fed. Only after this ritual had taken place did the child receive his or her first nourishment.

"Apparently, Gaius was lucky to survive this procedure, for an astrologer had given him a bad prognosis and he narrowly escaped infanticide. If Gaius had been rejected, he would have been abandoned in the open air and left to die; this was a fate to which illegitimate children and girls were especially liable, as were (one may surmise) sickly or disabled babies. Rejected infants were left on dunghills, or near cisterns. They were often picked up there by slave traders (although the family might reclaim the child later, if it so wished) or, more rarely, rescued by a kindly passerby. Otherwise, they would starve, unless eaten by stray dogs."

"A slave was something one could own, like a horse or a table. In the Roman view, he or she was 'a talking instrument.' Slaves could not marry, although they could make and save money and could receive legacies. If a master was murdered by a slave, all the slaves in his ownership were killed. It was believed that a slave could give true evidence only under torture. Perhaps a third of the population of Italy were slaves in the late Republic - as many as three million people."

I'm really enjoying this book, it's full of really neat information. But I'm trying not to spam you guys with my obsession!

Um, no.

Dear Idiot In The Press Room: Not all Germans were Nazis. For the record. The guys in the back may think your goosestepping routine is funny. I do not. If I catch you doing it, I will crush you like a bug. Got it?

Fail Of An Epic Level: While discussing a rape/dubious consent sex scene in a book:

"Well, it's not like she hadn't had sex with him before." 

My face after hearing this: O.O

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekend Thoughts

Yesterday was Father's Day. We give Dad presents, of course, but it's not a holiday that means anything. At least not to me. I call my step-father Dad here because he's married to my mother and I try not to use my families names on the blog. Why? Who knows. Pretty sure ya'll aren't psychos, but it's a habit at this point. And calling him Dad differentiates him from both the man who adopted and raised me and the man who was my biological father.

I even refer to him as 'my father' or 'my dad' in conversations in real life. But he's not. It's just easier, see? I do love him, he's a great guy. But the word 'father' doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot to me. I'm not denigrating the position, really. I do think it's best and important if children can have two parents, parents who are active in the childs life and supportive and loving. I'm not so hot on the 'it must be one man, one woman' thing. That's one of those things that I'm just never going to manage to be 'orthodox' in any religion about, so I've basically decided to say screw it and believe what I believe anyway. But I digress.

My point is, I don't have warm fuzzy feelings for a personal 'father'. It doesn't mean jack and/or shit to me, really. My grandfather has been dead for more than a decade, and he was, honest to god, the only man I've ever thought was worth anything on a personal level. So 'father's day' doesn't mean anything to me. I don't have envy or anything toward the father/child(ren) groups that I saw out that day. I'm glad that they have a father, that it means something to them. It's just an observation, really. Random and pointless. And maybe acknowledgement that I do still have vaguely (or maybe not so vaguely, really) father shaped 'issues'. Is a lack of feeling toward an experienced type of person an 'issue'?

And on another note: I was talking to a friend of mine and she was explaining how she got her sunburn. Basically, she was in the pool and some people came over unexpectedly. And the woman, who was apparently very thin, sat out on the pool deck to talk with my friend and her mother. Well my friend, who is very 'not thin', didn't want to get out of the pool with the thin woman there. So she stayed in for about two and a half hours, total. Which gave her the sunburn. I didn't say it to her, but this struck me as asinine and ridiculous. But is it any more ridiculous than what I used to do? Wearing long sleeves and such and thinking that it meant people couldn't see how fat I was? No. It's not.

I'm not happy, or *proud* of the way I look, except maybe in the sense that I know how much better it is from what it was a year ago and I know how much work I've put in to losing the weight and building muscle. So I'm proud of that, but I still see the problems. Not 'flaws'. Problems. Areas where I'm still carrying unhealthy weight. But I've also apparently taken a....'screw it!' attitude. I'm heavy. Fat. Overweight. Whatever. I'm not a tiny little princess. Never will be, even after I lose all the fat. I lift too much weight for that. I have too much muscle, even now. The point is, though, that if people don't like the way I look they can bite me. I'm not ashamed of the way I look. I dress nicely. I'm clean, I'm friendly. I don't go around wearing bikini tops in public or anything like that, because it's no appropriate for *anyone*, unless you're at the pool or on the beach or something.

One of the movies I saw this weekend, X-Men: First Class (which, yes, I am obsessed. Live with it. And we can discuss Why Magneto Is So Awesome, Far More Awesome Than You at a later date.), has a character named Raven/Mystique who is blue and scaly. The mutants in the Marvel universe are usually seen and understood to be analogous to people who are not heterosexual. Of course their being the 'other' and hated, feared, etc. can be applied to any outsider group, but it's typically understood to best be compared to non-heteronormative sexual identities. Anyway. Raven spends much of the movie hiding her true form. Her mutation allows her to shape shift, so she can give the appearance of a 'normal' human girl, blonde hair, pretty. But that's not who she really is. And in the end, she understands the injustice of being forced to hide who she is. 'Mutant, and proud.' She ends the movie comfortable in her true form. Being herself, no matter what anyone else thinks about it. I love the attitude. Pride in ones self, no matter what.

Friday, June 17, 2011

nothing to see here, move along....

Soooooooo....first week back at work after vacation. Always busy, so no posting, because, distracted girl is distracted.

Also, X-Men has eaten my brain. The new movie, I mean.

It's making me want to look at the comics again, even though I know that they're not the same. But...but... Erik and Charles! Being awesome together! Why can't I have that on tap? Huh? HUH? *grumbles**reads fanfic that fixes The Beach Divorce some more*

Going to go see Green Lantern and X-Men: First Class (again!) this weekend. Comic nerdgasm!

CHANGE OF PLANS! There's not really a good way to see both movies this weekend, and, oh, I feel like such a traitor but I MUST SEE X-MEN AGAIN CANNOT WAIT!!!!!!!!!! Um. So. In conclusion, X-Men: First Class this weekend and Green Lantern next. I'm sorry bb, but *flail* Erik. Charles. Epic bromance. I may have become obsessed. Maybe.

Don't judge me!

And I promise to try and keep the geekery on the other blog, where it belongs from now on.

i already want the bluray for X-Men: First Class. like NOW

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

X-Men has eaten my brain

Specifically, the First Class movie and the Charles/Erik, epic tragic gay love story. Because that's what it is, and you cannot convince me otherwise, okay?

And I'm devouring the damn kinkmeme. I even already wrote a little fill! Don't judge me!

But now I'm looking at the comics and thinking about picking them up again, trades, of course, but I *know* that the Professor X/Magneto relationship isn't the same thing and it will crush me!

Unless there's shippy comics for them. I doubt it. But I know nothing about X-Men, really.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Augustus: Some Quotes from the Preface

I have a bit of an historical fan-crush on Caesar Augustus (Octavian). I was *extremely* pleased to find a biography of him in the mail as a birthday present from Susanne! *waves*

So now you get posts as I read. For now, quotes from the preface.

"If anyone qualifies as the founding father of western civilization, it is Augustus."

"His career was a masterly study in the wielding of power. He learned how to obtain it and, more important, how to keep it."

"Augustus was a very great man, but he grew gradually into greatness. He did not possess Julius Caesar's bravura and political genius (it was that genius, of course, which killed Caesar, for it made him incapable of compromise). He was a physical coward who taught himself to be brave. He was intelligent, painstaking, and patient, but he could also be cruel and ruthless. He work extraordinarily hard. He thought in the long term, achieving his aims slowly and by trial and error."

"Augustus is one of the few historical figures who improved with the passage of time. He began as a bloodthirsty adventurer, but once he had achieved power, he made a respectable man of himself. He repealed his illegal acts and took trouble to govern fairly and efficiently."

"We are right to call Augustus Rome's first emperor, yet the title is anachronistic. At the time he was simply regarded as the chief man in the state. The Roman Republic had, apparently, been restored, not abolished. Augustus developed a personality cult, but he did not hold permanent authority and had to have his powers regularly renewed. Only with the accession of Tiberius did people finally realize that they were no longer citizens of a free commonwealth, but subjects living under a permanent monarchy."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Everybody Should See/Read _____ At Least Once

Susanne asking about favorite movies over on FB made me think of this. We all have favorite books, movies, pretty much everything, really. But what do you think is so fabulous, so wonderful, whether it's 'life changing' or just really, really well done that everyone should experience?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blogger On Vacation From Life - Leave a Message After the Beep.

Still here. Fandom has eaten my brain. On vacation. I remember when vacation meant I didn't leave the house for a week. Now I go places and stuff. It's less boring!

Also, my trainer is trying to KILL ME! I am sore and achy and oh, hey, TMI, I have gone down an entire cup size and an entire strap size on bras. GO ME!

My mom and sister took me shopping for my birthday. Bought me awesome clothes type things. Staying up too late reading Stephen King and watching scary movies. Aliens, baby. Not like, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH scary, but just so freaking AWESOME. *thinks* Reading a book about exorcists. One I've read before, but it's short and it was interesting so I will read it again.

ps: James Mcavoy is awesome and I loved the new X-Men movie. Now bring on the Green Lantern! And Captain America! GIVE ME MY COMIC NERD CRACK!!!!!!!! Oh. And the last Harry Potter movie. Because MY GOD it looks so good.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Proof that fiction makes thinkies

'All systems of morality are ultimately about control. Sexuality however is instinctual, and instinct can only be controlled the way the tides can be harnessed - here and there, for awhile.'

Sunday, June 5, 2011

X-Men First Class

Saw it, loved it, want more.

Also, am now slashing Erik/Charles hard. *HARD*. Scuse me. I shall indulge, and then get back to DF ficcing. Because I have two ongoing and cannot afford to be distracted.

random note: Hey, it's Balky! On H50!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Philosophical Question

I know that there are some things that are intrinsically evil: murder, rape, theft. All of these have one thing in common: you are taking something from another person against their will.

Other things are only 'evil' because we believe that we have been told by our creator that they are evil. Or society seems them as an evil. But are they really bad? And if so, why? They don't meet the 'intrinsic' evil standard.

I'm thinking, very specifically, of suicide and assisted suicide. Not in the 'gee, I want to try this' manner, of course. There've been a couple of articles in the paper recently about a 91 year old woman out in...California, I think, who is in trouble for selling suicide kits. I think the actual charges have something to do with selling medical equipment without the proper licensing, but I can't recall and it's not actually important to the point.

I draw a line between people who are suicidal because of mental imbalance - they are not in control of their own faculties. This is different, to my mind, from those who are suffering from a terminal illness. The question I'm asking is, is it actually, inherently evil, bad, wrong, whatever you want to call it for someone who it in complete control, not on drugs, alcohol or suffering from mental issues to decide that they don't want to sit around and suffer for months or years until their body finally just stops being able to function?

And on a possibly related note, I noticed that Dr. Kevorkian died today, of natural causes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

what does it say

Someone, a woman that I greatly respect, said to me the other day:

"Ultimately, I just had to really think about what my religion had to say about me, as a woman, and people that I loved."
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