Susan’s Salon: 2020 September 13/14


Please use the comment section to just chat about whatever you want. Susan’s Salon is posted early Monday (Sydney time which is still Sunday in most countries further west) . It’s fine to be sad, worried, angry or happy (or all of those things at once). Please feel free to post either troubling news or pleasant 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 and be nice to one another 😇

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54 thoughts on “Susan’s Salon: 2020 September 13/14

  1. A good week! My job hunt has resulted in an interview coming this week, which you know probably won’t result in anything but is such a nice change that it cheered me up for 72 hours and counting.

    I’ve spent this week getting distracted from reading by watching a JRPG (Hajimari no Kiseki) just released in Japan being played on twitch by a guy translating most sentences, and getting frustrated with the player and the game somewhat (it’s a long running JRPG series that takes about 3 years to be translated into English, where I loved the first five games but now the last 5 have been….disappointing, and yet I can’t quit my interest damnit).

    Still, I managed to read 3 books and two novellas (1 in audio) this week! The book I’ll shout out the most tho is Shveta Thakrar’s YA novel Star Daughter which I read yesterday, which is incredibly good and I highly recommend seeking it out. (I also read KS Villoso’s the Ikessar Falcon and the second Expanse novel, Caliban’s War).

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  2. A good week. Two stories out of the slush pile for further consideration, which is nice. But then on Friday Plushie’s (one of our dogs) patella popped out so he’s on bed/crate rest and not taking it well (our other dog had the same problem earlier this year but she’s a little more cooperative). The next couple of weeks may be stressful (to say nothing of having to carry him up and down the stairs and out to pee).

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      1. Can’t the vet give Plushie (great name BTW) something for the pain? Or is it not acute/bad enough and Plushie is just sensitive?

        Think of the carrying as weight training and then you can count it as exercise.

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      2. His given name is Dudley, but he became Plushie the first week we had him. So soft.
        We have drugs and they help, but he a)wakes up in the middle of the night with them apparently wearing off; b)he keeps chewing on his back foot, apparently convinced he can fix it. He even managed to work around the cone of shame to do it last night (or he scratched it on his crate wall). So it’s a mess and we need that looked at.

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      3. Thanks. We took him to the vet who loaded him with anti-itch meds and antibiotics (he’s been chewing his bad foot and scratching the rest of him). Perhaps this will help him, and thereby us, sleep through the night.

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  3. I survived the eerieness of living under a sky that was either Mars or Blade Runner 2049. It did throw my circadian rhythm off — I was never sure what time of day it was. At 11 AM it looked like dawn. Thank Ghu for my trusty phone clock. It’s been rather dim for days, but at least it’s cooled off some.

    I’ve developed an odd patch of rough skin that is literally squamous and rugose. The Elder Gods will be defended against with OTC cortisone cream, which does a good job of clearing it up. Normally I get it in the winter, but time has no meaning any more.

    The formerly be-coned credential has an appointment this week for his annual checkup. I dread to see what his weight will be; like many of us he has been stress-eating in lockdown.

    We have here one face shield, 5 cloth masks, 1 bandanna, about 10 paper masks, and a box of non-latex gloves. Several bottles of hand sanitizer too, one of which is in the car. The air filter is still working great to keep the bedroom absolutely clear of smoke. We don’t smell anything inside the house thanks to triple-pane windows — except on The Day of the Orange Sky.

    All hail DoorDash.

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    1. I’ve been occasionally buying face masks that have nice designs and/or go with my colour scheme. I bought one last week because it was blue with orange highlights, which goes with basically my entire wardrobe. Sometimes I’ll buy one from a business I like around here to just support them a little. Now I have too many masks. I keep one tied to each of my bags just in case, have two in my bike seat as spares and am usually wearing another one whenever I go out.

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    2. I showed a skin thingy to a doctor who used the word “squamous” — but said it was pronounced “squay-mous”. Never heard it pronounced that way in my life, and now I have to wonder how Lovecraft pronounced it. When he wasn’t saying worse things, I guess.

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      1. M-W says “squay” first and “squah” second but either are acceptable.

        Maybe only doctors say “squay” because I’ve only ever heard “squah”.

        I feel maybe “squay” is the older/formal form, so HPL would have said that, in between hating brown people.

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  4. Moved to a new villa which is much bigger and nicer than our previous one; the downside being we are currently sharing with a family of vicious mosquitoes. We’re getting the place fumigated today so I’m hoping it clears out the worst of it and we go back to a normal amount of mosquitoes. We also had massive internet issues because the wifi router is in the worst possible place and the owners hadn’t set up the extender properly, so we had to reset it and figure out how to configure it ourselves (can’t have no wifi when we all work online).

    Finished reading The Haunting of Hill House. The dialogue is weird and feels dated, but beyond that the story itself holds up very well.

    No idea what to read next but I’m leaning towards either some Korean short fiction or some non-fiction, possibly about birds or possibly Korean/Chinese/Japanese history. I’ve really been smashing the fantasy/sci-fi/horror recently and need a bit of a break.

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    1. To add to this, today I sorted out my visa for at least another 6 months and since I’ve finally come around to the idea that I’ll be here long-term I splurged on a full-face bike helmet that I’ll actually wear, instead of the craptastic rental one with no visor, an annoying buckle and a bad paint job.

      I also repaired my climbing shoes with some super glue so at least the upper toe rubber shouldn’t separate anymore, as long as the glue holds anyway.

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  5. I’ve ordered a few face masks. We still don’t have any recommendations for them in Sweden and we are one of the few countries in Europe with declining infection rates, but there is speculation that we might get local recommendations for public transport come fall/winter if we see a raise in the rate again. So there will be good to have a few in storage, at least if I want to go travelling later on.

    Otherwise, Nevyn and Sir Scrittles have slowed down on the murdering of wildlife. One or two birds and a few shrews. Nevyn was *incredibly* upset at me for throwing away the body of one of the shrews. He was climbing trees, running back and forth, jumping up on tables for a full ten minutes. I thought it was an old corpse, but I must have taken it before he had finished playing with it, even missing out on petting him to show how good he was. Sir Scrittles is taking long walks in the rain, then coming back wet as a dog, drying up on my bed which leaves it less than dry.

    On reading not much, I have instead been working on a small laundry room in the cottage, now being able to wash my clothes in a camping washing machine without the need of a drain. All is well.

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    1. I don’t mind recommendations for masks (and they are useful in settings like crowded public transport, haridressers, etc…), but in Germany masks are mandatory in every retail establishment at any time, even at 9 PM, when the supermarket is half empty, or at a car dealership, where there is a lot of space and maybe five customers at any given time. And now there are fines, too, for people caught without a mask.

      And while we do have a moderate rise in cases, most of it is due to people returning from holidays abroad (which are a really bad idea right now and should have been discouraged). The rising cases are also mostly in Bavaria (whose minister president constantly pats himself on the back for his stringent measures, even though his state was a disaster from the beginning). Meanwhile, people living in areas where there are hardly any cases and never were a lot to begin with are getting increasingly frustrated by measures which are based on states with much higher caseloads.

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      1. Masks are mandatory everywhere in my state. A lot of big chains have adopted mask requirements in all stores nation-wide. They believe in science even if lots of people don’t. There are supposedly fines but I haven’t heard of anyone having to pay.

        Cases are now rising only in the Midwest, who were previously all smug about how only the “coastal elites” were getting it. All home-grown. Maybe the Bavarian minister would fit in there.

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      2. Masks are required in enclosed public spaces here in Michigan. There is a possible $500 fine for not doing so. However, in practice, I think police aren’t generally citing people for that. They are handling things that arise out of businesses trying to enforce the order. For example, someone who wouldn’t put on a mask and refused to leave would be cited for trespassing instead.

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  6. I visited the new main branch of the public library in Oslo last week. It’s a very nice building, lots of books, lots of cozy nooks and crannies to sit down and read, many other community services like 3d printers and sewing machines, and there were lots of people of all ages, but particularly youths, hanging out. The building is large enough that with corona restriction, it was limited to max 1000 people inside at the same time. I would have loved having this as my own local library. I couldn’t find any photos that I think does justice to the interior – there’s some here https://www.nrk.no/osloogviken/deichman-apner-28.-mars-2020-1.14781828?index=4#album-1-14782389 – but they’re taken before the opening and doesn’t show much.

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    1. About a month before I moved away from Encinitas (just north of San Diego, California), they opened a stunning library on a ridge with an ocean view — lots of windows and a covered patio area. The main San Diego library which opened after I left also looks amazing. Sad I didn’t get to enjoy the first long or the other at all.

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  7. I read Sisters of the Vast Black for the Space Opera September challenge on Goodreads. It’s tepid entry in the Catholicism Science Fiction, which reminds me that I should get around to reading Science Fiction and Catholicism: The Rise and Fall of the Robot Papacy by Jim Clarke, which is a comprehensive survey. Sisters certainly pales in comparison to the weirdness of the Catholic Church in Grass by Sheri Tepper, which read recently.

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    1. I had no idea there were enough SF works with Catholicism in them to warrant a survey. I guess I need to read Clarke’s work as well! I also didn’t know that some version of Catholicism shows up in Grass, but since I swore off Tepper 10 or 15 years ago my curiosity will go unfulfilled.

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      1. The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell and Declare by Tim Powers are two more. Okay, so I can’t stand Declare (and it’s fantasy), but Catholicism is important to it.

        Space Catholicism, complete with space priests and space nuns also plays a role in the Deathstalker series by Simon R. Green, which really surprised me upon first reading, because I had assumed he was Jewish.

        Gather, Darkness! by Fritz Leiber might qualify, but while its ultra-aggressive faux religion is Christian in nature (and has an inquisition and the like), it’s not explicitly Catholic and Leiber himself was Protestant (and trained to become a priest for a while). It’s also a very typical Campbellian “religion is a sham” story, though the best of the ones Campbell published in Astounding in the 1940s.

        For intensely religious to the point of annoying preachiness science fiction, there is also the Space trilocy by C.S. Lewis, though Lewis was apparently High Church Anglican rather than Catholic, even if his works always felt Catholic to me.

        Several of our canine friends are also very noisy Catholics, but I fully understand, if you don’t want to read their books.

        Anyway, I’m very much not a fan of religion in science fiction. And Catholicism and Mormonism are the most common religious flavours found in SFF.

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      2. I loved Declare, but then I’m a big Powers fan.
        Leiber trained as a priest? He had an interesting life — grew up in theater (you can see his father in a small part in the 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame), became editor of Science Digest, his writing and priesthood as well, huh.

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      3. According to the introduction to one of his books, Fritz Leiber got far enough into his priesthood training that he was holding sevices on his own. He apparently was really popular with the parishioners as well, because due to his theatre background, he gave good sermons. Those experiences showed up in “Gather, Darkness” and “Lean Times in Lankhmar”, where Fafhrd briefly becomes the priest of a god called Issek with the Jug.

        Apparently, Leiber also worked as a college professor for a stint, but didn’t get along with campus politics, which influenced “Conjure Wife”.

        Leiber not only had an interesting life, his many failed careers also yielded some great stories.

        Regarding Declare, it’s not just the Catholicism that bothers me, though that’s part of it. A larger part of the reason is that Powers’ patented secret histories are not nearly so fun, when they are set within living memory and involve events which hurt real people. I’m normally a Powers fan as well, but Declare I really, really can’t stand.

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      4. “The Big Time” shows his theatrical experience, I think: rereading I realized it’s a time war performed on a one-set stage and that usually doesn’t work. “Four Ghosts in Hamlet” is also a fantastic theater story — I reread it when working on a theater-set fantasy of my own (and blogged about it: https://frasersherman.com/2015/06/25/went-looking-for-insight-didnt-find-it-sfwapro/), though it didn’t directly influence me.

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      5. @Cam, that’s an interesting list. I was aware of Conscience and Canticle, but I had no idea of the others. (I’m not sure I’ve even heard of Project Pope.) I have Hyperion on my kindle, having picked it up during a sale, so maybe that should go higher up on my to-read list. Thanks!

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      6. @Cora, thank you for the additional suggestions! I think I have the first Deathstalker book on kindle as well, so that’s also rising to the top. For the rest I’ll make a list and see what my library has for digital download. (COVID rates are shooting up in Lincoln, so I’m not in a hurry to visit the library in person.)

        Several of our canine friends are also very noisy Catholics, but I fully understand, if you don’t want to read their books.

        Yeah, I’m planning on skipping them. My usual reaction to some of the statements I‘ve read here and at File 770 is an urge to dig up the Catechism of the Catholic Church and start an argument— I don’t think I could read their fiction successfully.

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      7. @Nancy Sauer
        It’s been a while since I read the Deathstalker books, though I think the Space Catholics become more prominent in later books. At any rate, it is a gonzo “everything and the kitchen sink, too” space opera series.

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      8. I’ve always wanted to do, or at least see, an actual stage production of “The Big Time”. One set, only a few characters with generally one costume each, lots of juicy stuff and suspense.

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      1. Buddhism! I started reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead last weekend and it had started me wondering why there weren’t more Buddhist characters in SF. Thank you; I need to make a note of this.

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      2. @Nancy Sauer: may I recommend Readymade Bodhisattva? It’s a collection of Korean SF (some short stories, a couple of excerpts from longer works). It’s not all Buddhist, all the time, but a few of the stories do have Buddhist themes (in particular the titular story.) The two biggest religions in Korea, as far as I’m aware, are Buddhism and Christianity.

        (Once again, taking any opportunity to recommend some Korean SF)

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      3. Honourable mention for the Hindu-mythology-based Lord of Light by Zelazny, which also features a reincarnated Gautama Buddha now called Sam, or Mahasamatman.

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      4. @KasaObake … I think of Sam in Lord of Light as a fake Buddha rather than a reincarnation of the true one. He admits at one point to having picked Buddhism as his counter-Hindu religion for political reasons.

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      5. “Claims to be” would be a better description of Sam, yeah. Buddhas, as far as I’m aware, tend not to reincarnate, having achieved enlightenment.

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    2. Catholicism in SF? First thing I think of is Julian May’s linked series, starting with the “Pliocene Exile” books – all very much informed by the ideas of Teilhard de Chardin, who was a Catholic (actually, a Jesuit priest), if a somewhat… offbeat… one.

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      1. And the prequel series (and linking book) are all about a French Canadian Catholic family in New England (the Remilliards), and their relationship with other families with various psychic powers, many of whom are also Catholic

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    1. There’s a story about Randall Garrett and Robert Silverberg trying to sell a story to Boucher (as an editor) by playing to his particular likings – it was about a nun’s cat that solved a detective puzzle.

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      1. Reminds me of the old joke that everyone likes TV shows about dogs, everyone likes Abraham Lincoln and everyone likes shows about doctors, so a show about Abraham Lincoln’s doctor’s dog would be a slam-dunk.

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