skreeky: (Default)
[personal profile] skreeky

If I am leaving home for more than a couple of days, I don't "travel light." I travel prepared. Once I've determined that I am not going to make do with a carry-on, screw roughing it. And if I am traveling for two weeks or more, then yes, I am bringing the kitchen sink if I can figure out how to fold it.

My husband is fond of pointing out that we could just buy things at our destination, and this is sometimes true. I classify three different kinds of vacations. Type 1: the family visit -- Type 2: the relaxing getaway -- Type 3: the tour itinerary. For types 1 and 2, then yes, we can buy things at our destination. In fact, it gives us something to do, to get out of the house, to walk downtown. For type 3 though, if there is a packed itinerary and limited time in an exciting destination, I am not going to waste a few hours of it locating a drug store to buy deodorant. Double true if I am traveling with a group such as a ship or bus tour, with very little free unplanned time. So this is about packing for Type 3. Read more... )

This'll Cure That Freaky Fetish

Jul. 28th, 2017 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

Well, not THAT one - what do you take me for, a miracle-worker? Sheesh.

No, I mean the one with the footsies. And don't try to deny it, 'cuz I know you're out there: loitering around the pedicure station, being overly helpful at the Payless, getting WAY too excited about peep-toe pumps coming back into style - yeah, you know who you are. Well, my foot-fondling friends, it's time for a little sole searching.

And for the rest of you: put down that coffee and prepare to skip breakfast (or possibly revisit it, depending on your constitution).

This is a groom's cake, which begs the question: is the groom really that enamored with his own toe hair? And I know there's no good way to show severed appendages, but those ankle stumps are freaking me out juuust a little.

Side note: The words "cake" and "ankle stumps" should never, EVER, be used to describe the same thing.

 

Hahahahahaha! See, it's like a dead person's feet! With a toe tag! To remind you of your own mortality! Isn't that hysterical? Hahhahahaha!

Right. Two things:
1) What's up with the blue drapey bits?
2) Just for fun, try to imagine the position you'd have to be in to get your feet at that angle.

 

There is only one word to describe this next one:

AAAAUUUUGGGHHH!!!

Yep, that sums it up nicely, I think.

 

Then there's the delectable world of toe fungus, which I think you'll all agree is not only a great ice-breaker at parties ("Hey, wanna see something cool?"), but also really hits the spot come dessert time.

That Dr. Pachman, he's such a fun guy, don't you think? Eh? Fungi? Eh? Booyah!

I'm not sure why he would order a "cake" made from upholstery foam, though: that somehow detracts from the otherwise yummy-looking toenails.

Side note: Dr. Pachman is quite possibly the coolest doctor name ever. Right up there with Dr. Spaceman.


Ok, guys, this is it: time for the most disgusting, fungus-riddled foot cake mine eyes have seen. Proceed with extreme caution and strong intestinal fortitude.

Urp.

What's more horrifying: the green bugs crawling under the toenails...[pausing to swallow repeatedly]...or the fact that this is for a girl? Poor Teresa: I don't think the pretty pink icing nearly makes up for that yellowish... gelatinous...layer....

[sound of running feet]

UPDATE: Whew! Sorry, folks: my constitution just gave out, if you catch my drift. On the plus side, I just may lose those 5 pounds this week!

 

Hey, Sara S., Julie R., Christina B., and Jessica M., it's time to cut loose. Foot loose.

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

HIT IT WITH THE ROCK

Jul. 27th, 2017 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by john (the hubby of Jen)

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Steven C., Elizabeth E., and Jennifer S. for remembering that it could always be worse.

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

And from my other blog, Epbot:


The Big Idea: Adam Christopher

Jul. 27th, 2017 12:33 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Congratulations! Your book was a success! Now do that trick a second time! In discussing Killing is My Business, author Adam Christopher talks about doing the thing that you did so well all over again — but different this time.

ADAM CHRISTOPHER:

You know how it goes, the difficult second album: a band spends years meticulously crafting a collection of songs, polishing them through endless live sets until they shine, and these songs form their incandescent debut album.

Then they need to produce the follow-up and essentially come up with an entirely new repertoire on demand. That second album can be a difficult one indeed.

Now, I didn’t spend years crafting the Ray Electromatic Mysteries – Made to Kill, the first full-length novel after the Tor.com novelette Brisk Money, came out in 2015 and was something like my seventh published novel – but somehow the series has a certain kind of weight, just like that debut album of your favourite band. I think it’s because that original big idea was very big indeed – I was writing Raymond Chandler’s lost science fiction epics, a series about a robot assassin working in Chandler’s near-future Hollywood of 1965. That idea sprang from Chandler’s own letter to his agent in 1953, in which he complained about sci-fi, saying “people pay brisk money for this crap?” Clearly, this was a front, the famed hardboiled author conducting a fishing expedition, seeing if his agent would bite.

Sixty years later, I wrote a story named for Chandler’s letter – Brisk Money. The idea was everything – a whole world was open to me, enough not just for a novelette but for a trilogy of hardboiled novels and another in-between novella, Standard Hollywood Depravity – the title, again, taken from Chandler’s letters.

So far, so good. Made to Kill was a blast to write.

And then came book two.

I wouldn’t call it a sophomore slump. Far from it. The three novels were pitched together, right from the start, so I knew what I was doing and where the books were going. But there was one thing in back of my mind while I was working on what became the second novel, Killing Is My Business.

What would Raymond Chandler do?

That mantra, in essence, became the big idea of the book.

The concept of the Ray Electromatic Mysteries is simple: the robot revolution came and went in the 1950s, and Ray is the last robot left in the world, designed to be a private eye working in Hollywood. The only snag to this is that his supercomputer boss, Ada, was programmed to make a profit – and she quickly figured out you could make more money by killing people than finding them. A little tinkering with Ray’s CPU and Ada turns him into an accomplished hit-robot.

Simple enough, and, importantly, an open-ended concept. You could write a hundred stories about a hitman.

Which was actually the problem – because while I could easily write endless hardboiled, noir-ish stories set in Chandler’s seedy LA underbelly, a world full of wiseguys and dames and crooked cops and the mob, that’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before a thousand times. Hell, that’s basically Chandler’s oeuvre and people have been calling him a genius or a hack for the last seventy-plus years.

No, what I had to do was to write science fiction. There was no point in Ray being a robot if that wasn’t vital to the story. Ray had to be the central player in the trilogy – he’s unique, literally, and that has to drive the story arc that stretches across all three books.

So: what would Raymond Chandler do?

More specifically, what would Raymond Chandler do… with a robot?

In Killing Is My Business, Ray’s unique character is used to rather unsubtle effect when he uses his virtually indestructible chassis to protect a mob boss from a drive-by shooting, literally placing himself between the crime lord and his would-be executioners. This is something that only Ray could do. It’s a key scene, the first piece of the story that I had thought of.

And it was also a scene that I knew had to happen – if Ray is a robot then being a robot is the story. With that thought foremost in mind, I could write book two and I could make sure the series as a whole is more than just a set of pastiche crime novels, it was something original.  

Now, if he only Ray Electromatic knew what I torment I had in store for him in book three…

—-

Killing is My Business: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.


i have an idea…

Jul. 26th, 2017 10:47 pm
[syndicated profile] wwdn_feed

Posted by Wil

I have this idea to make something as a unique art project. It is either the craziest, dumbest, most impractical thing ever … or it’s a crazy, dumb, impractical thing that will be awesome.

I will need exactly one million people, from anywhere in the world, to make it happen. I wonder if that’s possible.

Feel free to speculate, if you’re into that sort of thing.

drwex: (Default)
[personal profile] drwex
It's not going to be a surprise to anyone who reads my blog that I think Trump's stated policies against trans individuals serving in the armed forces is heinous. It's despicable, divisive, regressive, and just frankly wrong. I've seen assertions of somewhere between 4,000 and 15,000 trans persons serving in the armed forces today. Even if we take the highest number, the resulting amount of cost to the VA care system is minuscule compared to the real costs of meeting our social commitment to care for those who have put their lives and careers on the line for this country.

If Trump actually cared about the costs of medical care for military personnel he'd be paying attention to the VA healthcare system and its needs. But in fact he doesn't care. Nor does he care about trans people. They're just today's convenient targets in his ongoing abdication of the job of being president for anyone who isn't his natural supporter. I hear those folk think he's doing just fine to which I say, "fuck you."

Normally I try to be a little more tolerant but between the attempt to kill people by taking away their healthcare and this nonsense I've run out of tolerant for a while. Trump is manifestly unfit for the job of Commander in Chief; the people he's attacking are either fit or not, a fact that can be determined without ever raising questions of their sex, their gender, their assigned-at-birth gender, or their gender presentation. Disqualification of a class of persons based on a characteristic unrelated to their job performance is a sign of a weak and cowardly leader.
[syndicated profile] phd_comics_feed
Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Half Summer Personality Test" - originally published 7/26/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Leaving aside everything else that is wrong and immoral about this proposed ban, at the moment there are something like 11,000 trans people currently serving openly in the US services and reserves. They are there legally, and it is currently their right to serve openly. Trump’s ban, at first glance, appears to take away their right to serve their country, and takes away their jobs, their incomes, their benefits for themselves and their families — for no other reason than something which yesterday was not illegal nor an impediment to serving their country with passion and distinction.

Make no mistake: Trump is affirmatively and explicitly taking away a right from American citizens, a right they already had and enjoyed. This is a big right: The right to serve in one’s military openly, without fear of punishment for who you are.

If Trump will take away one right from Americans, he’s not going to have a problem taking away other rights as well. Why would he? Trump is the living embodiment of “If you give a mouse a cookie” — if he gets away with one thing, he’ll go ahead and try to get away with something else. He’s already trying, of course.

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that I support the right of transgender people to serve openly in the military, a thing they already have done, any more than it will come as a surprise that I support the rights of transgender people generally. But as important as it is for me to explicitly say I support transgender rights, I think it’s also worth asking people who oppose these rights, or other rights enjoyed by people not exactly like them, whether they are comfortable taking away fundamental rights these American citizens already have — and if so, what leads them to believe that their own rights, rights they already enjoy, are not also placed in jeopardy by that precedent.

If the answer boils down to “well, that will never happen to me,” as it inevitably will, it’s worth examining why they think they will forever be immune. The answer will be instructive for everyone.

And also, they’re wrong. If you can take away an existing right of an American simply because of who they are, then you can take away a right of any American simply because of who they are — or what they are, or where their ancestors came from, or what they believe, and so on.

I said on Twitter this morning, “Today, as has almost every day in this administration, offers each us of a chance to understand the dimensions our own moral character.” And so it does. And so it will, every day, I expect, until it is done.


[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Coke announced today that it’s rebranding Coke Zero to “Coke Zero Sugar”:

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is the new and improved Coke Zero. We’ve made the great taste of Coke Zero even better by optimizing the unique blend of flavors that gave Coke Zero its real Coca-Cola taste. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is our best-tasting zero-sugar Coca-Cola yet, and it will be available across America in August.

Basically, it’s the same new formula it’s been introducing in foreign markets as “Coke No Sugar” but Coke is keeping the “Zero” branding here because it’s been successful and they don’t want to confuse us poor Americans any more than we already are in these trying times. Or something.

As I noted previously (see the second link, there), I am perfectly fine with Coke attempting this revamp — by all reviews I’ve seen the “Zero Sugar” version tastes more like standard Coke than Coke Zero, and since “actually tasting like regular Coke” is why I drink Coke Zero in the first place (Diet Coke shares its flavor profile with the late, unlamented New Coke), I’ll willing to give this new version a shot. If it turns out I hate it, well. I guess then that August 2017 will be a fine time for me to drastically cut down my soda drinking. I suspect I’ll probably continue calling the new stuff “Coke Zero” rather than “Coke Zero Sugar,” because it’s two fewer syllables and I’m all about efficiency.

So in effect, I think that this is less like Coke Zero dying than it is Coke Zero regenerating, timelord-like, into its next iteration. And I suspect I will remain its constant companion.


Cat grooming whom?

Jul. 26th, 2017 04:16 pm
gale_storm: (Default)
[personal profile] gale_storm
Picture this: me sitting in the bathroom with Moxie sitting in front of the sink. She seemed to have fur stuck under her tongue and couldn't manage to get it out. I happened to notice that it wasn't fur. Nope, it was much much longer than sprig of her own fur. As a matter of fact, it was one of my own hairs. Nope, not striped or at all grey. (I note the fact that it wasn't grey at all to describe how unlike her own fur colour this was, not how unlike my own hair colour it was. So!)

Imagine a cat having ingested a piece of spaghetti or vermicelli with tomato sauce, or even a worm (!) (oh, no sauce on the worm!) (oh, um, not that worms necessarily need to be sauced, just sayin'), but seeming at once mystified as to how it got there and what to do with it.

Slowly, I extended my hand toward her face, pinching at the strand of hair once, causing her to draw her head back microscopically as her tongue that had been stretched to get that hair out of her mouth already seemed to have blocked her own attempts.

Okay, missed it once, yes, but I got it the second time I tried. She seemed to look relieved and grateful and disgusted all at once.

I'll take her look of relief as thanks.

The Bride And Groan

Jul. 26th, 2017 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

Today's post is dedicated to all the engaged couples out there. That's right, lovebirds, I thought we might take this opportunity to consider the most important cake of your entire lives: your wedding cake.

Now, I know I feature a lot of wedding wrecks, and I know a lot of folks will point out that asking for a fondant design recreated in buttercream is asking for disaster, but don't you worry. I'm here to help. After all, this is what Leah D. ordered for HER wedding cake:

 

 

And look what she got!

It's the tinfoil-covered cookie sheet that really sells it.


Ok, yes, it's a wreck. BUT - did you notice how the inspiration cake was all buttercream, and the wreck itself is fondant? I'm just sayin'. It works both ways.

Now, don't you feel better?

No?

Ok, then how about what Susan A. ordered for her wedding? 

 

 Not a great picture (you don't see mimeographs much these days), but I think you get the general idea.

 And here's what Susan got:

Granted, I'm not sure how this is supposed to make you feel better, but trust me, guys: the REST of us are feeling grrrrr-REAT. (John! Go make some popcorn! These are gettin' GOOD.)

 

Sara M. wanted her wedding cake to be a hunk a' hunk a' burnin' love:

 

The cake! The cake! The cake is on FI-YUR!

 

But instead, her cake just suffered from a mild burning sensation and performance issues:

 

Wah-WAAAAH.

(That was my attempt at a slide-rule trombone effect. I know: I'm a veritable foley artist with words.)

 

And finally, Elizabeth P. dreamed a dream of ribbon-wrapped sweetness for her big day:

 

...but ended up with something only a mummy could love:

 Ouch. Uh...that's a wrap!

 

Thanks to all of today's brides and just remember, guys: wreck or Sweet, we're gonna need to see your wedding cake! (Oh, and we're all invited, right? RIGHT?!)

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

The Big Idea: Vivian Shaw

Jul. 26th, 2017 11:18 am
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Monsters are monsters, but do they always have to be so… monstrous? Vivian Shaw considers the fundamental nature of these terrible creatures in Strange Practice, and how she came to look at them from another angle entirely.

VIVIAN SHAW:

What’s my big idea?

The facile answer is, of course, sensible monsters. An idea which doesn’t seem to have found a great deal of traction thus far in any genre, classic or contemporary, and so offers a wide-open opportunity to play with readers’ expectations — but the real underlying answer goes back a lot further than that. It has to do with the contrast between ordinary and extraordinary, and what that means in terms of storytelling.

I’ve been writing novellas and novels of varying quality since I was about ten or eleven, but I did National Novel Writing Month for the first time in 2004, right after spending a lot of time on urbex websites, and the big idea behind that first NaNo was how many characters from classic vampire lit can I get into one story while exploring the weird and wonderful subterranean world of London? The answer turned out to be between five and eight. That first draft featured not only Lord Ruthven and Sir Francis Varney, but also Dracula and Carmilla (only spelling herself Mircalla, because vampires and spelling are such a thing). On the human side I had Greta, descended from Van Helsing, and August Cranswell, descended from the family that put paid to the vampire of Croglin Grange.

I decided to put vampires in the NaNo novel because I’ve always been fond of them — even as a kid I loved reading the classics, even if I had to stop every now and then to look up the words. The way in which the Western vampire mythos evolved from age to age, gathering often-contradictory detail with each well-known story added to its canon, fascinated me. But in all the stories, all the retellings, I couldn’t get away from the fact that most of the vampires did really stupid things. Their behavior was practically designed to attract the attention of the pitchfork-and-flaming-torch brigade, and just for once I wanted to read about vampires who just got on with it — vampires who were monsters, yes, but also people. Vampires who didn’t have to have geographically unplaceable accents and go swanning around in evening dress all the time for no reason. Vampires who didn’t need to be hypersexualized edgelords in leather trousers, or spend all their time moping about their cursed eternal fate, woe. Vampires who’d rather write nasty letters to the Times than tear throats out (unless the latter was really necessary), and who used their powers to watch over the city and stop other monsters ruining everything. Vampires who were sensible.

And because I wanted to read it, I had to write it first.

That book was called The Underglow, and it sat around on various hard drives for a decade while I borrowed characters from it and played with them, letting them evolve into much more nuanced and interesting individuals. In 2014 I dusted the book off again, looked at it properly, and determined it would need to be stripped to the skeleton and rewritten almost from scratch.

And this time the big idea wasn’t about cramming in as many recognizable characters as I could shoehorn into a plot, nor was it limited to vampires alone. This time it was about the individuals themselves — a more diverse cast, given more opportunity to shine — and what it actually meant to them to be what they were, extraordinary creatures in an ordinary world. I didn’t just have sensible vampires. I had sensible were-creatures, and mummies, and ghouls, banshees, bogeymen, a whole spectrum of monsters to play with, a richer world to explore.

It was this second iteration of the book that would end up becoming a series starring Greta as the central character, set in this peculiarly overlapping supernatural-adjacent world. With my editor’s help, I continued to refine the text into something that explored that particular aspect of storytelling: both the contrast between the ancient monsters and the modern day, and the fascinating difficulties encountered by people who necessarily spent their time in the liminal space of that boundary between natural and supernatural. What their experience would be, as creatures who had to coexist either covertly or overtly with ordinary humans, keeping their natures as quiet as possible — and what it might be like as a human to witness that experience, and to take on the responsibility of offering care across species boundaries. What kind of person would you have to be, to do a job like that?

Without really intending to, all those years ago in the throes of NaNo, I’d done myself an extraordinary favor in inventing the character of Greta Helsing. In the previous version, Greta was much less important a character; in this one, I could take much more advantage of her highly specialized role to portray those monsters as her patients, people she cared for, whatever sort of creature they might be, and what that meant to her. As a human physician to the supernatural, she necessarily encounters an enormous variety of complaints, and so I get to write about so many fascinating problems seen both from the human and the clinical standpoint. It gives me endless pleasure to apply scientific protocol to the realms of the unreal — there’s the contrast thing again, ordinary and extraordinary balancing each other — and I love writing about listserv arguments over the relative merits of different embalming fluids in zombie tissue stabilization, or the practice of creating perfect bone replacements for mummies via 3-D printing from a laser scan.

So it’s contrast, and it’s the experience of that contrast, of being a stranger in a strange land, that really drives the book (and, in fact, the series). The concept of found family echoes throughout, as well — it’s a natural consequence of the transposition of individual and environment, and one of my favorites.

But if, in the end, all you take away from Strange Practice is sensible monsters…I’m gonna be well-pleased with the work of my hands.

—-

Strange Practice: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.


chhotii: (mood)
[personal profile] chhotii
This is hereby my last blog post ever to be cross-posted from DreamWidth to LiveJournal.

Would love to see y'all on DreamWidth. Same user name there.
Page generated Jul. 28th, 2017 06:52 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios