Susan’s Salon: 2021 January 17/18


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) . It’s fine to be sad, worried, very worried, angry or maybe even happy (or all of those things at once).

Please feel free to post what you like (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 😇

I’m a bit busy with a bunch of different things this week, so I may be posting less (or potentially more to de-stress, who knows!).

75 thoughts on “Susan’s Salon: 2021 January 17/18

  1. I started teaching f2f last week. So far three of my students have had to quarantine (because of family members testing positive for Covid) and one of my students, who is in the National Guard, has been called up and sent to DC to deal with the dupes cosplaying treason there.

    Also we’re supposed to be getting the vaccine, but so far not so much.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Four. More. Days.

    I have to hold it together for Four…. More….. Days.

    Yes, I know that the inauguration is in three days. But I’m not relaxing til the day AFTER.

    Since last week I listened to:

    Ballistic Kiss — Richard Kadrey — Lots of fun if you’re a Sandman Slim fan. Poor Stark is having a hard time of it.
    The Duke Who Didn’t — Courtney Milan’s latest — Sparkling and witty, ridiculous in many ways and entirely historically implausible, great popcorn reading. I was charmed.
    All the Devils Are Here — Louise Penny — The latest Three Pines book. Less overwrought than some recent installments, closely focused on Gamache’s family. Some logic problems and factual errors, but I enjoyed it.
    The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires — Grady Hendrix — I dnfed this one. I loved the beginning, but around the halfway mark I got intensely irritated with the jerk of a husband, the TSTL-ness of the MC, and the gaslighting by all her friends, and I dropped it in disgust. If someone tells me the last half makes it worth toughing it out through this section, I may go back to it.

    Nothing else is catching my fancy right now, so I dunno what’ll be up next!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks, Nancy! I agree with what she said in her review. These parts are what’s especially getting to me right now:

        ———-

        “The women of the club, and some other women who are not in the club but are also part of the fight, are incredibly real characters. They’re flawed in ways that aren’t cute quirks, but are both personal shortcomings and ways in which they actively participate in the systems of injustice that are baked into American society. White women participate in racism, Black women participate in classism, and everyone moves to protect their own families at the price of others’ lives (and sometimes their own). [….]

        He’s the predatory leech that grows fat by sucking the lifeblood out of others. He’s the White person who preys upon Black people, taking their money and labor and lives with impunity because other White people either don’t care or share in the profits. He’s the man who gaslights and abuses and kills women, and gets away with it because other men close ranks to protect him.[….]

        ARRRGGGGHHHH THOSE FUCKING ABUSIVE GASLIGHTERS!!!! ARRRRGGGGHHHH!”

        ———-

        I don’t want to turn anyone off of this book. As I said, the beginning was great, and it makes clear that moms are the real heroes in our lives — Buffy ain’t got nuthin on moms. But I think perhaps I’m just too stressed out right now and too viscerally angry about the perfidy of the human race to deal well with reading additional realistic depictions of more perfidious humans in novel form.

        I’ll try it again after the inauguration. For now, I’m now in the middle of another brainless romance. Aural Xanax!

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      2. All’s I know about Grady Hendrix is he did some HILARIOUS take-downs of 70’s horror paperbacks on Tor.com for a while. Worth reading for distraction — and marveling (in a bad way) at the covers.

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      1. The Guardian article made him seem more like a man who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. (He works as a security guard.) Having forgotten to leave his gun at home is within the bounds of plausibility, but the quantities of ammunition found are harder to explain.

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      2. stewart: <em.Having forgotten to leave his gun at home is within the bounds of plausibility, but the quantities of ammunition found are harder to explain.

        “Oh, I always leave large quantities of ammunition stashed in my pickup, I’m not concerned that anyone might take them. I just forgot they were there.”

        That’s like the ex-Air Force guy with military-grade attire and gear and what appears to be either a taser or pistol, claiming that he found the zip ties on the floor and picked them up, thinking he would given them to a cop, and then forgot he had them. 🙄

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    1. That’s even more so than the old cop story of a guy, who when frisked, had illegal things in his trouser pocket and insisted “These aren’t my pants. I don’t know whose they are.”

      (I myself once heard a guy already on probation insisting to a cop that he didn’t know how the large quantity of stolen feminine hygiene products ended up in his car. Perhaps he shouldn’t have made that illegal left turn directly in front of a police cruiser? Perhaps he shouldn’t have later tried “it’s all because I grew up in [local slum area]” when the cop did too? He did eventually accede to reality and was taken to the city jail.)

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  3. In case anyone wants some reviews of decades-old children’s books:

    My reading has really fallen off a cliff in the last year (and I can’t totally blame the virus, I’d been getting lazy already) but as a long-time fan of Thomas M. Disch’s SF, I recently got around to checking out Disch’s writing for children. I’d always found it funny that the ’80s animated movie The Brave Little Toaster (a clear precursor to Toy Story, but made on the cheap and given such a tiny release by Disney that it only acquired a following later on TV and video, after I was no longer a kid, so I only saw it much later) came from the same author as The Genocides.

    It turns out that (IMO) The Brave Little Toaster is a great little book. It’s far better than the movie, both funnier and sadder without straining so hard to push emotional buttons as the movie does, and beautifully written – trusting the reader to understand the complicated language from context, and to adjust to its conceit that it’s written not only about but *for* appliances. It’s also a pleasure to read it out loud, as I recently did to my wife and to a small group of friends online (something I decided to try making an ongoing thing of with other stories).

    The far less well known sequel The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars is… something else. It’s clearly driven by 1. needing a sequel, 2. feeling compelled to make it as different as possible, and 3. wanting to get in more genre effects; the result is that it’s very much like Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator was to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, abandoning all of the connection to regular life and simple pleasures that the humor had been based on, and throwing in a lot of elaborate yet kind of arbitrary SF ideas. It’s far from un-fun, though. The reason for the toaster and its friends to go to Mars is that disgruntled appliances from Earth have gone there and evolved into a dangerous anti-human menace, the details of which are pretty funny, and the way they get there involves various real scientific ideas described more or less accurately (with a clear goal of encouraging a nerdy kid to look them up) before bending them to totally ridiculous ends. There’s even a vaguely Tim Powersian secret-history angle involving Einstein. I haven’t quite finished this one yet so it may still surprise me, but while I do recommend it to anyone who liked the first one and likes pulp parodies, I probably won’t be reading it aloud.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Finaly finished my 1000 piece Christmas jigsaw this week!

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/jUe2XzJ9ZNsnCZk49

    It fits right into this blog, as it’s a 16th century star map with all the pagan constellations replaced with saints, doves of peace and suchlike. Most of it makes sense to me, except for two images. Why is there an old tin bath in the upper right and what is the hairy goat man in the bottom right quadrant?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve just found the northern hemisphere companion map and it looks like my ‘tin bath’ is part of the boat (?) at the top of the image.

        My knowledge of Christianity is not deep enough to work out what the boat is representing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. In real astronomy, I’m guessing that’d be the ship Argo, but no telling what they explain it as, because it looks like Noah’s Ark is down at the bottom of the northern map, and that about does it for my Biblical boat knowledge.

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      3. I think it’s meant to be a fishing boat – there seem to be nets hanging over the side. Probably from the story where Jesus calms a storm on the Sea of Galilee (it looks pretty choppy). Agree that the vessel at the bottom left is Noah’s Ark

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      4. Ah, that explains the boat being so big and extending into both hemispheres. Because Jesus.

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  5. I read Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. Really interesting epic fantasy worldbuilding based somewhat on pre-Columbian American cultures. It’s definitely a book 1, but I didn’t think it was too cliffhangery. You are mostly left with the impression that characters are not really left dangling but perhaps have landed on a narrow ledge partway down. I’m looking forward to the next one.

    I’ve just started Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott. (Elevator pitch: genderbent Alexander the Great in spaaace!) The first few chapters from the title character’s POV were a bit hard to get into. But the next POV has been really intriguing so far.

    Partial lockdown (mainly no indoor dining in restaurants) has been extended again through the end of Jan here in Michigan.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Weird work week for me but next week is gonna suck.

    Read a bunch more books this week, with a bunch of highlights: Chloe Gong’s Those Violent Delights is a YA take on Romeo and Juliet in Western-Occupied 1920s Shanghai that is pretty damn great, CL Clark’s The Unbroken is a tremendous epic fantasy story of Empire and Colonization that will be out in March, and today I read Daryl Gregory’s upcoming novella The Album of Dr. Moreau, which is sort of a fun love letter to murder mysteries….except that the murder mystery features a furry boy band.

    Just a lot of great stuff. Even the stuff I read this week that wasn’t special wasn’t bad, just not that interesting.

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  7. I have written more of my first big story, don’t know if I run into problems latter on, but at the moment it is still working as planned. Some chapters are perhaps a bit short, I will have to be careful to not solve all the problems at the current chapter.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’d hoped to finish final edits on a novel I’ll be self-publishing soon. Unfortunately the last chapter had one problem that was easily fixed but even then the final confrontation feels wrong (my solution to the villain’s powers doesn’t entirely work). So I’ll try to figure that out this week.

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      1. Good Luck.
        The Problem is it publishable is to my luck in the future. At the moment I am doing this for fun, Everythink else happens later. It is Science-Fiction, this I can tell and if I continue to the second part of the story it will be completly different (a long time before but for my protagonist after book 1 happened, timetravel)

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  8. Today is my mom’s birthday and my siblings and I rented out an entire movie theater for a private screening of “Coco” (she’s been wanting to see it). There will be just nine of us in the whole theater, sitting distanced in three family pods with masks, but at least it is something to celebrate her birthday that feels partway normal and doesn’t involved singing, talking or eating. We’ve not been together in the same room since Christmas 2019, and my mom is over the moon excited to be able to look at her grandsons for 90 mins. I may have to show her the film again at home if she can’t keep her eyes on the screen. 🙂

    It was surprisingly affordable ($250) and we could have picked one of their new releases and/or back catalogue or bring our own DVD.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Hmmm… our bubble contains 4 people, a related bubble is another 4, probably could get it over a dozen easy, which would bring the price down to reasonable. Although I’m not sure if the current total lockdown allows it. Many of the bubbles contain people constrained due to age, health, or both, so going to a movie would be swell.

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  9. The Dark Lord Gossage-Vardebedian’s delusion that the National Guard in DC are all there to help Trump pull off a coup is reaching new levels of pathetic. I await for his declaration on the 20th that his followers need to wait two days after the inauguration before say anything, because Trump HAS A PLAN.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The NYT had a good profile of one QANonite who insists believers should stay strong — do not be summer soldiers and sunshine patriots! “She once spent several minutes explaining how a domino-shaped ornament on the White House Christmas tree proved that Mr. Trump was sending coded messages about QAnon, because the domino had 17 dots, and Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet.”

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      1. It’s fascinating that for her and Gossage-Vardebedian Spode, as well as others of their ilk, being a dedicated patriot who will not quit means doing nothing at all to help your nation, even by your own standards, while continuing to investt in a clearly false worldview as it collapses. “We are just like the Founding Fathers, save we risk nothing, and put in no effort.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “being a dedicated patriot who will not quit means doing nothing at all to help your nation” As the Slacktivist blog has pointed out, that’s part of the appeal. Just by supporting Trump in his great drive to destroy the pedophile conspiracy, you’re helping America. You have become a better, more moral person without any need to actually be better.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. In the news is an allegation that one of the insurrectionists stole a laptop from Speaker Pelosi’s office, and was planning to sell it to the Russian intelligence services. A strange form of patriotism. (Also, reportedly, the laptop was used for powerpoint presentations, and didn’t contain any sensitive information.)

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    2. I saw some screenshots from a chan thread where someone said that Biden has already been arrested, but The Deep State and the Trump administration have struck a deal to keep it secret. And in order to maintain this secret, there will be an “experimental surgery” to swap the faces of Trump and Biden.

      They had illustrated the post with the Face/Off movie poster.

      So come the twentieth “Biden” will be inaugurated, but it’s actually Trump. And then “Trump” will be put to trial – but that’s actually going to be Biden.

      I don’t know if this means that they’ll actually cheer Biden’s – i.e. Trump in disguise – inauguration, and cheer if Trump – i.e. Biden in disguise – is prosecuted and jailed. I suppose they ought to, if they really believe this skinchanger plot.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Bentley Little had a short story in which it turns out we lost the War for Independence and have been secretly subjects of the Crown ever since. But he knew he was writing fiction.

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      2. Trump would have to lose a lot of weight to pass for Biden. They’d need a full Heinleineseque/Nivenesque body transplant.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. “Do they say why anybody would do all that?”

        No. Not if you mean “do they give a good reason”. I think the idea is that it’s a kind of of compromise. The deep state is in disarray, but have managed to strike this deal to save face. Trump is being magnanimous. Something something.

        Liked by 3 people

  10. Back to work for me today, for the first time since Christmas Eve. It has been a good break, and one I sorely needed (despite preaching to my staff throughout the year the value of taking time off even if not actually being able to go anywhere on holiday I was not really following my own advice). I did not get off to an auspicious start however – I slept badly and then missed my alarm. I am hoping that the news this week will not end up being a massive distraction 😁🤞

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      1. My workplace shuts down for the week between the Christmas and New Year public holidays (they long ago found that so many people were taking that time off anyway it was actually safer to close the office), which helps, but it is good to live in a country with relatively sensible IR conditions. Four weeks of annual leave is pretty standard for full time employees in Australia.

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  11. Things as usual here: full lockdown, many deliveries, pesky credentials, much TV. Went out one day this week for a couple of hours for unavoidable errands. There was weather! It was just lovely! I spoke to a number of people I don’t know, masked and on opposite sides of plastic. I yelled “Thank you!” at the Amazon driver.

    We have completely lost track of what day and date it is, even more than before. I know it’s January, and it must be Sunday if the Salon is open. At least the calendars have arrived and the smartphones tell us what the day, date, and temp are. So we’re a little closer to knowing what day it is. I do notice that the days, whatever they might be called, are ever so slightly longer.

    I am made aware each day when it is 6 PM and 11 PM thanks to hungry meows.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My post-trauma brain is back into rejecting novels again though it’s fine with novellas and short stories as it can track them, so audiobooks are what I’m doing for those longer stories, so I’m half way through Gareth M. Powell’s Ack-Ack Macque gonzo multiverse pulp adventure and next up will be Aliette De Bodard’s Tea and Murder novella. Just finished another Doctor Who graphic novel as well.

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  13. I am telling myself that not going outside isn’t neglecting my mental health, it’s doing my part for everyone’s health.

    I am also opening all the curtains so as to get plenty of daylight and look at the sky and trees, not just the montior, tea kettle, and cats. It’s sheer luck that we moved into an apartment with lots of windows in the summer of 2019, after two years in a place with few windows or view.

    I have a dental appointment on Wednesday. Three weeks ago, I was thinking that maybe I should cancel it because of the pandemic. I asked my doctor a few days ago and she thinks the pandemic-related risk of going to the dentist is acceptably low. But Boston is the state capital, and we’re only a couple of miles away, and Wednesday is Inauguration Day and those should be boring and unrelated facts.

    I am postponing this decision until the last minute (unless I develop worrisome symptoms between now and then, which seems unlikely, given how little we’ve interacted with other people lately).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d be more likely to cancel it due to risk of MAGAts than pandemic. I trust a dentist to be up on their hygiene protocols and not be heavily armed.

      I am way overdue, but first I must get new glasses. I’m a year overdue for those and it’d be nice if both my indoor surroundings and the trees and birds I can see outdoors were in focus, not to mention my computer.

      My brother and I were both surprised when the $600 check showed up. We thought the R’s were still whining about it and boom there it was. Last pair of glasses were somewhere in the $4-500 range so…

      Like

  14. In “Oh hey, it’s still 2020” news, my Kindle lost all, I mean ALL of its Collections.

    3K or more nicely sorted books now not nicely sorted.

    I tried various combos of turning it off and on, reloading, etc. and so far no help.

    I am not yet bored enough to re-sort.

    Any suggestions? All the books are there, just no Collections — not even empty ones.

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    1. The collection information may well be saved in your Amazon account (I had it carry over between Kindles), though how to get that back onto the Kindle itself is the part I’m not sure about.

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      1. I fear I may have to resort to the nuclear option of wiping the Kindle’s entire brain and re-authorizing it and reloading and arrrggghhhh.

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      2. Yes? I think so?

        I’ve uploaded a handful of documents to it, which I have elsewhere and/or wouldn’t care much if I lost.

        Everything else is legit bought from Amazon, maybe half a dozen audiobooks and the aforementioned 3K ebooks, and some auto-rip music.

        So… I should go ahead and reformat the sumbitch?

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    2. When I look at my Kindle content on Amazon, under Account -> Content and devices, the list has a column for collections. If that shows that your books belong to collections, wiping the kindle and redownloading the content seems the best bet. It the collections are gone there as well, I would worry that they’re completely gone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aha! You have solved it. All 8K books from before the failure are still listed as being in their collections.

        So I need to charge it up, nuke it, and then put it in the strongest wi-fi signal to download all that… and then undownload a bunch of them I’ve read… and maybe rename the thing and get an exorcist.

        Thanks so much, Johan!

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  15. Watched Harriet today. Halfway through MiniMe asked when we were going to see the Underground Railroad since there weren’t any trains so far.
    This is why we have to watch movies like Harriet. And wonder what historians 200 years from now will think happened.

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  16. New BAND-MAID album is out! It’s pretty great! Also it’s penguin awareness day today! Can’t think of anything else important happening so I guess I’ll just leave this comment as it is.

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  17. I keep readingI these posts without commenting each weekend.

    Besides an amped up feeling of anxiety as the days of the Traitor-in-Chief dwindle down, I’ve also lost one of my few causes of random joy. There is an epidemic of salmonellosis killing finches and other small birds in our region, and the authorities asked everyone with bird feeders (all types, including hummingbird feeders) to take them down for a month. So I can’t look up from my work computer in the middle of the day and see birds flitting around on the feeder.

    I keep trying to get some writing done, and I either end up in a spiral of making minor edits to already written scenes, or going down rabbit holes of news on line.

    I’m trying to get my mom an appointment to get the vaccine, since she meets the state’s current criteria to get the vaccine now, but her county doesn’t seem to have its act together.

    On the other hand, everyone in our household and our extended families are healthy. Yay!

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  18. This may be shooting fish in a barrel, but I couldn’t resist writing about what I think is the most misguided SF-related political think-piece I’ve read in a long time. Tl/dr: a writer on io9 thinks an Alexandra Petri humor piece represents everything that’s wrong with our culture, because she made a Star Wars joke that he completely misread. https://alibi-shop.dreamwidth.org/32385.html

    Like

      1. Cam, I think you have something going wrong with your ISP. That James Corden video should have been visible to you, and I can see this Dreamwidth piece.

        Like

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