life, technology

I am a grown-up (sort of)

matrix-priusAbout a month ago I traded my old car (the blue Matrix) in for my new car, the black Prius V. I was looking at small SUVs, because after ten years of driving in the snow, often in the wee hours of the morning before the plows come with no problem, my Matrix got stuck in the show twice last winter. It was ten years old. It had just passed 150K. It had this weird rattle in the dash they couldn’t figure out. I kept losing the cheap, flimsy plastic hubcaps. It was a good car, but… the time had come.

The V is the biggest Prius*, bigger and heavier than the Matrix, so I figure it should do fine in the snow. Hopefully. (So far, so good, but we’ve only had like an inch so far.)

* Yes, I realize this isn’t saying that much.

The lure of the hybrid is strong. Environmental blah blah blah, but: Less gas! (And real wheels, not hubcaps.) Of course, because it was a bit of a surprise decision, I had not realized that it requires me to drive like a responsible adult if I want to reap those savings to their fullest. I do not tend to drive that way. I fear what I’d be driving if snow wasn’t a concern. And I did freak out a little that first week. Had I made a mistake?

But the gas savings are real, even for me. I have one of the shorter commutes among my circle, but it’s still at minimum 40 minutes/30 miles a day to work and back. I estimate I filled up the Matrix about weekly when it was three-quarters empty; With the Prius it’s about the same length of time (maybe a little longer,) but the tank is only half empty. So yeah, I’d side-eye any hybrid driver who tells you they haven’t filled up in a month or more, but there is definitely an obvious difference for me. (Okay, yes, the smaller ones have better gas mileage than mine, but a month? With a plug-in, or in an area where public transit isn’t a total joke, maybe…)

I have done more driving the way they recommend, aka not in a state of constant acceleration. I drive the stupid 35 on the major four-lane road. (Ugh, so stupid.) I try to keep it in EV (battery mode) as much as I can. It’s pretty easy on the surface streets, in the work parking garage, and all the other non-highway places.

I really like the car. Still. No one in Detroit is ever going to accuse a Prius of being cool, but that I really don’t give a shit about.

Adulthood! Sort of, anyway. (…I got a speeding ticket on the third day I had it. I really hate the inanely low speed limit on that road.) I finally have Bluetooth, in any case.

geek, links, pop culture

Links of the whatever

scandals→ I’m reading the Scandals of Classic Hollywood book right now. There’s a bonus chapter on Anna May Wong at Buzzfeed and a new interview with author Anne Helen Petersen at The Hairpin (where it all began.)

→ I also read (and reviewed) Chris Taylor’s How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, which is great. It’s a pretty good overview of the franchise and the fandom.

Rebels, which I was bitching about last time, started up last night and I… Don’t hate it? I even feel slightly less annoyed that it exists this morning. These are good signs, seeing how I dreaded every season of The Clone Wars the way parents dread summer vacation.

This piece on Kramer vs. Kramer ends with some great observations on the state of movies and TV today.

→ How I feel about Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (along with an early 80s gem, Conan the Destroyer) is how I imagine a lot of (or at least some of) Millennials feel about the prequels. It’s by no means a good movie, but I can’t help but eat it up. With a spoon. (More seasonally, this series tackled Hocus Pocus last year, a movie that I recall seeing in theaters just before I was too old for it.)

→ Stop trying to pimp your ‘improved posting experience’ at me, WordPress. I know what I’m about.

geek, life

Kitty drama don’t stop

Obligatory vet photo.

Obligatory vet photo.

→ My 5-year-old cat now has a cardiologist and is on heart medication. Hugo was diagnosed with a heart murmur at his last totally routine vet visit. I took him to a specialist yesterday, and: He has a genetic heart condition that causes one of his heart walls to be too thick, displacing one of the blood valves. (Thus the murmur.) The good news is, he’s in no immediate danger. The meds may help alleviate the issue – we get to go back to the specialist in 6 months and see. He still gets his wet food (with a fourth of a tiny, tiny pill) and honestly that’s all he knows or cares about. I swear I only have two cats, how do they both have major medical issues within a year of each other? (Louie is still fine, very fluffy, all his tail fur and his mane have grown back.)

→ As for Star Wars… It hasn’t even aired yet, but I’m totally over hearing about the new cartoon, Rebels. I still haven’t finished the prequel book, A New Dawn. I was going to write a thing for CJ, but why bother? Intellectually I know it’s a good place for the franchise to be as we await Episode VII, but personally, I’m increasingly not interested… In any of the books coming out, really. It’s so much the inverse of the prequel days – when I was SO into the books, not so much the movies – that I kind of have to laugh about it.

→ I have been reading so many (other) books. So many. Thanks to my Kindle, I had to go to the library and renew my card (which had TOTALLY EXPIRED, THE SHAME) and so now I’ve loaned a bunch of eBooks (through this nifty Overdrive service) and even some real, actual paper books. One thing I do find infuriating is that sometimes they’ll have an audiobook but not an actual eBooks. (I find audiobooks infuriating generally, which is why I don’t listen to them, but it’s SUCH a fake-out.) The books themselves have been a bit of a mixed bag, but the nice thing about library books is that if it’s meh, it’s not like you paid for it. Their selection leaves a lot to be desired but hey, I finally did read Gone Girl, at least.

geek, pop culture

Cowabunga, dude

This may come across as hypocritical coming from someone who’s been in Star Wars fandom for so long, but I really do not get this desire to constantly resurrect the toy-based franchises of my youth as big budget movies. First Transformers, then G.I. Joe and now the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… I watched those cartoons as a kid, who my age didn’t? But I have zero interest in them now.

Yeah, I watched the new My Little Pony show for about two seconds, it was cute and all, but I lost interest pretty rapidly. And can you imagine a ‘gritty’ Pony movie? (There’s actually an awful/hilarious parody of this on Youtube somewhere, but hell if I can find it… Ah, here it is.) Even now, in the days of CGI? Ha. Yet the Ponies – and Barbie – are certainly the two biggest toy franchises I was ‘into’ as a kid. Of course, they’re also ‘for girls’ so why bother, right? (And as much as I’m just kind of WTF about this Jem movie they’re making, I really doubt I’ll actually go see it, any more than I saw those Smurf movies. Yet I also really doubt they’re going to market Jem to adult/nostalgia fans the way the more Micheal Bay-tinged stuff does.)

Look, I get the Marvel movies, even the new round of interest in DC. I get Star Wars, obviously. But the toy stuff? It just bewilders me. But toys for me as a kid were never about the official stories – it was about the stories we told with them. Hell, I’m not sure I even knew a My Little Pony cartoon existed back in the ’80s. They were ciphers – we gave them personalities and stories. (Is it any wonder fanfic is coded as such a ‘female’ activity?)

I dunno. Mostly I think I’m just sick of hearing all the fanboy bitching about whatever they changed in TMNT. Like, I’m sorry Megan Fox had too many lines for you, dude.

geek, pop culture

Adventures in torrid ’80s epic fantasy

SkybowlTor is finally doing a reread of a book series I actually read as a teen – Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince trilogy. Alas, this made me fall into a wave of nostalgia and I reread the first book in, like, two days. There are a lot of things about Rawn that really bug me, but I can’t deny that I devoured those books back in the day. But they are very ’80s (And that awful romance novel cover on Dragon Prince is not a drill.) I never loved them wholeheartedly like I did Pern – in fact, I though the second two books were such a letdown that I originally interloaned the second trilogy instead of buying it.

(Weird realization: If Pern was my Middle-Earth, than Rawn is my Wheel of Time… Huh. Well, at least I never got into Lackey.)

The second trilogy (Dragon Star) is probably the better of the two, and it actually has what I consider to be Rawn’s best villain. Villains are not her strong suit; Most of them are unabashedly, cardboard evil. I guess that’s the risk you run with epic fantasy. But the main villain of Dragon Star is my favorite of hers, and now I’m basically rushing through The Star Scroll and Sunrunner’s Fire to get to Stronghold. Of course, I can’t find any of my Dragon Star paperbacks (and they’re not in eBook) so I took the opportunity to order used hardcovers. So I’m trying not to rush too fast… Why aren’t the damn things in eBook? The first set are. (Oh yeah: I caved and I bought a Kindle Paperwhite. It’s pretty neat.) But at least this way I know I’m getting the Whelan covers… Even subpar Whelan is better than no Whelan, though they seem to have only updated the typography on the first few.

On that note, apparently Rawn is actually going to finish her Exiles trilogy… The less I say about those the better, but I’ll believe it when I see it. And yeah, I’ve sworn off her new stuff, but I’ll probably buy The Captal’s Tower if it ever comes to be. I did love those books a lot at one point, and I still really admire the worldbuilding in that series…

Gah. Between this and new Keltiad, I’m having a very nostalgic reading summer. Maybe I’ll reread the Keltiad next?


Fannish pedantic nonsense

Of course I know this is from the Holiday Special. I'm ONE OF THEM.

Of course I know this is from the Holiday Special.

You’d think that someone who has vague plans to write a post about how annoying Star Wars fans can be about having to label every little thing (RIP EU and all your elaborate conspiracy-driven backstories for every single alien in that damn cantina) wouldn’t be the same person who started @SWStylebook last night, but there you go.

I still can’t believe how much it took off. Almost 500 followers in 24 hours? And yeah, @clubjade has three thousand and something, but that took 6 years.

…I still might write that post, though. Maybe. We’ll see.


Recent reads

My Real ChildrenMy Real Children and What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton. Two very different books by Walton and also the most recent and oldest read of this post. My Real Children is a novel that follows one woman on two very different paths in her life, though two very different (to us) alternate realities. They split when Patricia decides to (or not) up and marry her fiance, Mark. In 2015, suffering from dementia, she remembers both realities. Like Walton’s last novel, Among Others, this one sticks with you, and I’m currently reading it for the second time. A rare 5 stars from me.

What Makes This Book So Great is nonfiction, a collection of her reread columns for, a big favorite of mine. Yet I didn’t have much memory of the columns featured here – it’s possible I skipped them, having little interest in things like the Vorkosigan saga and Steven Brust books, which seem to make up big chunks of the book. Still, it’s interesting reading about reading, and she has got me to read many, many books in the past, despite the fact that I have never, ever been able to get into C. J. Cherryh despite multiple tries with multiple books, and have always been less than enthralled with the Vorkosigans (my favorite is her least favorite.) Recommended.

We Were Liars by by E. Lockhart. Behold, a YA book that is about more than romance! This is a sad one, as you discover the truth along with the amnesiac Candace. This seems to have mixed reviews on Goodreads and a lot of people are mentioning that the writing style is choppy, but honestly as a visual reader I never notice prose unless it’s amazing, horrible, or I’m on my umpteenth reread. Still, recommended.

The Dragon’s Path and The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham. I am certainly not giving up on The Dagger and the Coin series after these two books, but I will admit that I find them far less interesting than Abraham’s first fantasy series, the Long Price Quartet, which seemed liked something entirely new. In contrast, the world of Dagger and the Coin seems like… standard generic fantasy, although with enough interesting characters and enough of a mystery that I’m holding the third book in reserve until we get a little close to #4′s release. (The different varieties of humans in particular strikes me as something out of a roleplaying game.) Recommended (so far) with reservations, but read the Long Price Quartet first if you’re like me and most Big Fat Fantasies of the ’70s/80s bore the hell out of you.

If you only read one… My Real Children.

geek, life, links

I can’t even

So much has been said on last weekend’s Isla Vista killings and I’m by no means articulate enough to add to that, so here are a few smart things that I’ve seen about and inspired by it: LAist has brief profiles of the victims; #YesAllWomen and why it’s so hard for men to see misogyny; and Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds.

Six people are dead because some dude who had apparently never actually talked to a woman outside his own family post-puberty was angry about being a virgin and people are actually defending him, or trying to compartmentalize this into being about mental illness OR guns OR misogyny instead of it all being a part of a giant melting pot of societal issues.

And yeah, it makes what we’re speaking up about in fandom seem silly, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t actually think Princess Leia dolls or more women in a Star Wars movie are going to change the world. Achieving any of that is incremental. But these discussions at the very least give us a foundation for the bigger issues, and I don’t regret being outspoken about them for a second.


15 years past The Phantom Menace and my story is still boring

The Phantom Menace

While I am mulling an entry about the prequels and Star Wars fandom, it’s not one that’s going to be ready (or, perhaps, appropriate) to post tomorrow as we come to the 15-year anniversary of The Phantom Menace. And about TPM itself, I don’t really have much to say, so instead I’m sharing something I originally wrote for the film’s 10th anniversary in 2009… Now with commentary!

So now we’re in the runup to the 10th anniversary of The Phantom Menace, the film that changed Star Wars forever, and I barely remember a thing about it.

Actually, the one thing I DO remember was feeling a little guilty (way back in ’98) that I was way more interested in Zahn’s Vision of the Future than in an actual movie. The more things change…

(Oh, the irony. )

TPM is the only Star Wars movie that came out while I was in college, the end of my second year. I had other things on my mind… Like roommates who wouldn’t do the dishes and left Diet Coke cans sitting around filled with cigarette butts NEXT TO MY COMPUTER and, uhh, classes. And stuff.

(Ugh, college. My freshman roommates were no picnic, but cigarette-butt roomie is a big reason why I had a single the next year. I’m not sure what I was thinking going from an only child to a dorm with four roommates two years in a row, but at least sophomore year it was approximately 50% fun, butts aside.)

In and around my freshmen year, I had shut down my first website, spent about two seconds on the staff of Jedinet’s prequel site, tangled with my first power-mad fanboys, and learned the ever-so-valuable lesson that FANDOM IS INSANE. Oh, and Jeff had handed me the keys to the Club Jade site. (We didn’t nab until about 2000, I think, so it was one of our many odd long URLs.)

(Blah blah blah, I told this story.)

So I was still in fandom, but staying away from participation in the more general aspects. I remember reading TheForce.Net and their spoilers (The visual edition!) but pretty much my only fannish socialization was with CJers, #cantina, and fanfic people.

I know I saw The Phantom Menace that Friday with the same high school friends I saw the Special Editions with, but the only clear memory of the experience is that Brian and Rick had some kind of boring ticket issues. I saw it again with my parents later that weekend. (No midnight shows here.) I remember being kind of underwhelmed. And then not seeing it until it showed up Fox years later, when I was out of school and an intern. I don’t even remember the discussions on the list, though I’m sure there were some lengthy ones.

In short, TPM: One big red-and-sand blur. I have clearer memories of the Entertainment Tonight where George announces he’s working on the screenplay, FFS. That’s the magic of college!

Now Attack of the Clones, that I remember…