Susan’s Salon: 2020 April 26/27

An open thread for people to just chat. Posted every Monday (Sydney time). It’s OK to be negative or sad and it’s OK to try and find cheery news or distractions in the comments for this open thread. However, no cranky conflicts between each other in the comments. Links, videos, cat pictures etc are fine. Whatever you like πŸ™‚

Wash your hands before posting a comment.

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53 responses to “Susan’s Salon: 2020 April 26/27”

  1. I started reading the Vorkosigan Saga beginning with Falling Free according to the internal chronology, but I’m having a hard time getting into it bc of passages like this:

    β€œMr. Graf?” an alto voice interrupted his thoughts. β€œI’m Dr. Sondra Yei. I head up the psychology and training department for the Cay Habitat.”
    The woman hovering in the door wore pale green company coveralls. Pleasantly ugly, pushing middle-aged, she had the bright mongolian eyes, broad nose and lips and coffee-and-cream skin of her mixed racial heritage.

    I get that it was written in 1987, but…

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    • Yeah, there are some cringey moments in a couple of the earliest works (of which that is one). That particular book is of interest mainly because it gives some setup of the universe 200 years before the rest of the books. It’s not essential reading — and the rest of the books don’t (as far as I recall) have such blatant casual racism.

      Liked by 6 people

    • As someone relistening to the series in audiobook, there are a lot of cringy moments and traits in the series, some of which sneak into later books to and into other pieces of Bujold’s work. Usually not in racism as I can recall, but well our hero for much of the series is kind of an asshole towards others, especially women he’s trying to romance (in the actual romantic comedy of the series, which is terrific, Bujold has to get around this by switching the 2nd half of the book’s romance plot entirely OUT of his POV).

      But there’s some real highlights there if you get through them. (But yes, skip falling free)

      Liked by 1 person

    • fontfolly, I’m so sorry to hear that you and your husband are dealing with it. I’m sending healing vibes your way and best wishes that you’ll feel better soon. ❀

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah my boss and I had this non corona thing earlier in the year. We had coughs and sore throats, fatigue. It would feel better for a couple of days and then come back again – seemed to take about four weeks to completely shake it, unfortunately. We weren’t tested, but we got sick well before COVID-19 was established in Australia. And my brother and sister-in-law got a similar thing and were tested and turned up negative. Hope you feel better soon, anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, everyone. My husband keeps trying to tell me that his symptoms are more in line with a mild form of food poisoning. This is really weird, but I hope he’s right.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had a moderate case of food poisoning once, and it left me quite out of it for a week or two even after the puking and such stopped. And I was only in my 20’s and not under any other stress.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Food poisoning can be really nasty (my last go-around was a case I caught at the airport on my way home from the Dublin Worldcon), but is still the better alternative.

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  2. Oh, here’s something interesting. My college is still going with all online classes for the summer, but think they can go back to somewhat normal (i.e., both in-person and online classes) for the fall. I’m a bit more skeptical, to be honest. I’m generally in the Sacramento area of California, for a basic geographical location. My governor is doing great, but… well, you know who we’ve got in, um, charge.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So today I was very productive, for values of.

    I went to Mary Robinette Kowal’s Zoom party, which she asked people in to stress test before the Nebulas. It all went swimmingly, I met a bunch of very nice people and we had very good chats of 3-6 people at a time. Mostly we talked about food, and a little bit about the plague, but more about food. At the end, MRK did some Q&A cosplay as the Lady Astronaut, which was fun.

    And then I popped over to YouTube for the Sondheim birthday extravaganza, to which apparently they invited too few techies. Started half an hour late, ran 7 minutes, and you couldn’t hear the host. We all got to see his laptop and rug. It was said “Gay Twitter is dying here”. Anyway, then they restarted an hour late and it went fine. Everyone who is anyone did a number or recorded a message, the host got his mic on, money was raised for charity.

    So I got some culture and talked to people like we were at a con, all fun. The credential disapproved of both me talking and show tunes, but life is hard for everyone these days.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I would like to share a TV show that’s been very helpful in getting me through this.

    “Dispatches From Elsewhere”.

    It’s on AMC in the US, and the (season?) finale is on a week from tomorrow. So you can probably do some on-demand thing in the US.

    It’s gentle, and tricksy/meta about the line between life and fiction, and the writing and acting is exquisite. Even the sad bits are somewhat happy? All the emotional beats are earned (sometimes through fremdschamen), outre things seem normal, normal things seem odd, up is down no it’s up again. There are LOL moments, moments of surpassing beauty, and I can’t tell you any more as it would all be spoilers. Especially Richard E. Grant. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder which BDP Hugo category to nominate it for.

    Watching it as it comes out once a week has been the best way, I think. It really has time to settle in, and there’s plenty to consider if you want, or you can just enjoy a nice hour with good people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have heard about that show, since a place I occasionally check out does episode by episode reviews, but so far I haven’t been enticed to check it out. This may change that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • After thinking it over, I have decided I HAAAATED the finale, which came close to ruining the whole thing. Only the last 5 minutes were good and they’re optional. There’s 4th wall breaking and then there’s self-indulgent clap trap, guess which one this was.

        So I recommend watching all of the show except the last one. Skip it, I beg you.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Also:

    “Middlegame”
    “The Collapsing Empire”
    “The Calculating Stars”
    “The City in the Middle of the Night”
    “Binti”

    and a bunch of other fiction and some fact from Macmillan, adults and kids. Lots of series/trilogy openers.

    USians, click the red banner ad at the top what says “Popular ebooks under $5”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been watching Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 recently and actually enjoying it. I had my misgivings about the art style when I’d only seen stills but, imo, the new style works well in motion. It’s maybe not as expressive as previous SACs but everything comes with trade-offs, and it’s not as though GitS hasn’t flirted with (and gone overboard on) CGI styles in the past.

    Complaints about the characterisation is more legit I guess but a) it’s been 14 years since Solid State Society was released and 2) this series itself is set 10+ years after the events of 2nd Gig and SSS with most of the former Section 9 now being a mercenary unit in a broken-down USA. To expect characters to not change on that kind of timescale and in such drastically different circumstances is bizarre. Besides that, if you don’t mind the art and get past the first one or two episodes and like the previous SACs you’ll probably find something to like about this too.

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      • I’d say that the way they’ve done it makes the choreography a lot nicer through fight scenes and it really shines on the tachikoma and the optical camouflage effects etc. The downside is that, yeah, human characters feel less expressive.

        Another thing to note is that it’s definitely not Laughing Man, nor does it feel like re-hash of that at the moment (*cough* like Individual Eleven). Netflix have decided to release it in two parts though so after these 12 episodes are done, we’ll still only be ~halfway through the main arc, which is kind of annoying in a way. It’s hard to judge it properly when there’s still half the story to go and things are only seeming to ramp up significantly in the last few.

        That said, I’m enjoying what I’ve seen so far. It takes a little while to build up to where it wants to go, and the first episode is definitely the weakest. I think they wanted to start off a bit bombastic but also keep it low-stakes somehow so a lot happens but not a whole lot *happens*.

        I hope you like it too, though of course everyone’s mileage may vary πŸ™‚

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  7. In other good news I just received my copy of A Summer Beyond Your Reach by Xia Jia – a Kickstarter project from Neil Clarke and I am *very* excited to read it, though I’m currently in the middle of Creeping Jenny (which has handily reminded me why I love Jeff Noon’s books) and want to read some non-fic before my next fiction read (so will probably start on When the Earth Had Two Moons next).

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      • I just went to the Hachez outlet store last week to stock up. Thankfully, they remain open inspite of the pandemic, because someone clearly understands that chocolate is vital.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I still have plenty of chocolate, but the specifically Easter products are gone. I usually try to stock up when it’s half-price the day after, but no inessential store-visiting this year.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I failed to grab the reduced Lindt Easter Eggs this year, too. No Belgian Easter eggs either, because I didn’t make it to the Netherlands where you can easily get them. But I still have two boxes of “Zeebanket”, Belgian chocolates shaped like seashells and seafood, which are a personal favourite.

        Liked by 1 person

    • he’s on Twitter bragging about how he’s the top result for a very clunky phrase on Google. Doesn’t seem to realise his “number 1” site is down.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. In first world pandemic problems I ran out of fancy hair conditioner a month ago, the shop that sells it has closed, and it has taken more than three weeks for an online order to get here from Sydney. In my defence, my hair is nearly knee length, so when it’s gross, it’s a lot of gross.

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    • I gave myself a more thorough hair trim than the usual scissors in front of the mirror, bringing my Wahl trimmer into it, using the second mirror, wishing I was more ambidextrous. It worked, though, and I got through with one of my regular mantras: “It doesn’t much matter anyway because nobody looks at me.”

      Must have bought it around 1985. It came with an instructional VHS that I might just watch (and rip to my DVR) soon. This time, I even remembered to oil the trimmer for what must have been the first time since we bought the thing–had to pierce the end of the little spout on the tube. I’m smug and trim now, and look okay from a relatively short distance to anyone who’s not a professional hair worker.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d planned to get my hair cut for summer just about now. Sigh.

        Survived another foraging trip. The fresh fruit and veg are still in (for who knows how long), but the frozen have been mostly gone for the duration. The only frozen veg I’ve seen consistently is lima beans, b/c even in a pandemic nobody wants to eat those. Still no TP.

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    • My sympathies. My hair is tailbone length and I’m also allergic against most hair care products except for a pricy Swiss brand only available at selected pharmacies (and an organic brand that stopped production sometime in the 1990s). At least the pharmacies remained open throughout.

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  9. Just had the third of four family April/May birthday zoom calls tonight (mine was last week). I dressed up with fancy jewelry and did up my hair and made my favourite cake: angel food with my great-grandma’s recipe for almond icing. At least I didn’t have to share πŸ™‚ Not as fun as being there with them in person, but at least I got to see my family. Nephew turned 18 today. I made a chocolate cake “for him” and didn’t have to share that one either πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

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