the whole world burns

Archive for June 2006

Veronica Mars, Class Warrior

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With an artfulness and pathos that no other show has quite pulled off, "Veronica Mars" expresses the deep ambivalence that the working and middle classes feel about the rise of a monstrously flush ruling class in our midst. In doing so, it makes manifest both the deep-seated class resentment that makes a populist political revolt seem so tantalizing possible and the Stockholm Syndrome-like admiration that makes it so maddeningly unattainable.

Elizabeth Buchan: 10 books to comfort and console during a divorce

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  1. Footsteps by Richard Holmes

I first read this many years ago and it has stayed with me. Every so often, I return to it in order to immerse myself in its wonderful prose and insights. It combines travelogue with biography, detective work with a probing inner exploration, and is both an account of a physical journey and a remapping of the writer's imagination. The book opens with an homage to Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey, in which Holmes describes his own trek over the Cevennes, during which he abandoned his ambition to become a poet, having been led "far away into the undiscovered land of other's men and women's lives ... towards biography". It is the turning point of his life and for the remainder of the book - as he hunts down subjects that include Mary Wollenstencraft, Shelley, Gerard de Nerval and Gautier - he goes on to explore the nature of the relationship between biographer and quarry. The book so enraptured me that I myself walked in the company of friends over the Cevennes in his footsteps. It was one of the best journeys of my own life.

Fic Rec: "Wind that Shakes the Sea and Stars" by Lightning on the Wave

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It's the fifth part of a massive and well-realized Harry Potter alternate universe, coming after Saving Connor, No Mouth But Some Serpent's, Comes Out of Darkness Morn and Freedom And Not Peace.

The first began a new twist on an oft-done "what if" about Harry being overlooked in favour of a twin brother, but it's since spiralled into something far more. Lightning's world -- and I find much of it easier to credit to her than to J.K. Rowling -- has a depth and complexity rarely seen in fanfiction.

She's also staggeringly prolific. Saving Connor's 80,000 words were written in less than a month; this part, all 780,000 words of it, was started in March this year. More staggering still is that the quality hasn't suffered -- with a few thousand words every day, give or take an extra here or a day off there, it's been the perfect serial.

I can't say for sure that it won't suffer in a different context -- it's always easier to overlook issues of structure and consistency in serial-form stories -- but my experience of it has been overwhelmingly positive. Do yourself a favour and read it.

(With that said, a warning: this series is written for adults. It contains strong adult themes. It also features a relationship between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy; it starts with friendship, but by the fourth book has become something more. If you are uncomfortable with depictions of homosexuality, this is not the story for you.)

The Ms.Scribe Story: An Unauthorized Fandom Biography

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The fandom angle isn't especially compelling, given that this kind of story plays out not-infrequently in other online communities, but it's an interesting example. The "Ms.Scribe" described goes to extraordinary lengths to ingratiate herself among the community's elite, making many others miserable in the process. There's no apparent financial profit motive, and she doesn't seem to fit the profile of the traditional trolls at (e.g.) Slashdot, (i.e., it's because their favourite game is to make the little people dance).

Even more astounding is that someone thought enough of it to write such an exhaustive chronicle.

3-year-old's Jim Lehrer/NewsHour-themed birthday party

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The party was over Memorial Day weekend, and the Schallys made all their guests wear the hats [with pictures of NewsHour correspondents on them] Jennifer Schally designed. They got a cake with the photo of the show's correspondents and Jennifer Schally arranged for Jim Lehrer to send an autographed photo for a birthday present.

It read, "To my youngest fan" and was signed, "Jimmy Jimmy BoBo", which is the nickname Henry gave Lehrer.

Wikipedia: List of films by gory death scene

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Favourite section: "Death from slicing by a sharp object where it takes some time for victim to fall apart"

Assistive Media audio archives: magazine readings

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Best podcast ever, as well as a great thing for the disabled.

Three tracks from Thom Yorke's new solo project

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It's a bit like Kid A with those obsolete meatspace instruments torn out... Not bad.

Small things, links and miscellany, sparkling with light. Sam's tumblelog.