2017: Books and films


02/01 If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo
12/01 The Go-Between, L P Hartley
18/01 The Flemish House, George Simenon
21/01 King Baby, Kate Beaton
21/01 March, Book 1, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

09/02 The Loney, Andrew Michael Hurley
12/02 A Distant Neighbourhood, vol. 1, Jiro Taniguchi
12/02 A Distant Neighbourhood, vol. 2, Jiro Taniguchi
15/02 Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick
22/02 Drama, Raina Telgemeier
24/02 The Misty Harbour, Georges Simenon
28/02 I Am a Hero, vol. 1, Kengo Hanazawa

25/03 I Am a Hero, vol. 2, Kengo Hanazawa
28/03 The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness
29/03 The Traitor, Baru Cormorant, Seth Dickinson


Recorded at Letterboxd

Am I the only skeptic left on Twitter tonight?


Lefties: The Daily Mail is a hateful rag that prints outrageous lies and smears and you shouldn't believe a word of it.

Daily Mail: The Prime Minister put his penis in the mouth of a dead pig.


I mean, really? Are you not paying attention to yourselves at all? Why, in the absence of any independent corroboration, would you find this any more credible than the stories it ran about, say Ed Miliband's dad? Is everyone really that eager to stick it to Cameron that common sense goes out the window?

Pitch Perfect 2 cameos

Buzzfeed has published the The Definitive Ranking Of The Cameos In “Pitch Perfect 2”.

I shall now annotate this list to show how the non-American audience sees it:

13. Who?

12. Who?

11. Who?

10. Who?

9. Oh, yeah. That guy. I think I saw him in a video on the internet sometime.

8. Who?

7. Christina! Pharrell! Geez, Pharrell didn't say much. Who were the other two dudes?

6. A'ight, we know Snoop.

5. Who?

4. Who?x4 (the Daily Show made it international once upon a time, at least)

3. Who?

2. Wait? The Obamas? Why isn't this number one?

1. Alright guys, we're out. You're clearly all deluded if you think anyone outside of America even realises these are real people here.


So, although I am a few weeks behind Game of Thrones, the fact that I use the internet means I've been unavoidably spoiled for the most recent episode due to hundreds of people losing their shit and deciding the best thing to do is rub it all over Twitter and Facebook.

Possibly not my finest metaphor there.

Now. Granted. I've not seen the episode yet myself, but, there does seem to be a degree of overreacting happening.

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I am Jack's total lack of surprise

So it turns out that Sriduangkaew's apologies were utterly insincere and she's now back to her ways of bullying and harassing people again. It's enough to make a guy wonder if he should reconsider his stance over the 'Best Fanwriter' category of this year's Hugo awards.

Edit: scratching my head over this as the hypocrisy couldn't be any more blatant. Not that I expect Sriduangkaew or any of her followers who have swallowed the Kool-Aid will be able to see themselves in it

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Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in

How about Jesus Christ what the fuck NO.

One cannot object to the Rabid Puppies politicising the Hugos and then turn around and do EXACTLY THE SAME THING.

The award for Best Fan Writer is an award for the fan who has done the best writing. It's not a token of appreciation for services rendered.

I can't support a suggestion like that any more than I can support Laura Mixon's nomination this year. My views on Sriduangkaew are, I'm sure, well known (I update this LiveJournal infrequently enough that you don't have to go back that far to find them); as such, I can't find fault with Mixon's report. But as much as Mixon is to be commended for her work, I don't feel the Fan Writer award is an appropriate commendation.

2015 is already the year of the Rabid Puppies. That much is lost. But it would be a terrible, terrible shame if 2016 was the year of the obvious push-back against the Rabid Puppies.

Finding Vivian Maier

It's funny. People can watch the same film - the same documentary film, even - and yet come away having taken different readings from it. Sometimes it's a matter of interpretation, other times they've somehow managed to get something flat-out wrong[1].

To nitpick one review:

Geoffrey Macnab in the Independent

[Maloof] doesn’t make it clear that Maier was still alive when he bought that first box of negatives.

It's true that he doesn't explicitly say this. However, he does say that he bought the photos, Googled Maier, found nothing, and started scanning them. Then, after a break of a couple of years, he tries again, and finds an obit from "a few days ago."

Given this, it's a clear as you can get without explicitly saying so that Maier was alive when he first bought her photos.

Maloof also glosses over the circumstances in which he acquired the rest of her work. There were two other boxes that were also auctioned and he gives little detail as to why the other buyers were so willing to sell on to him. (Did they not see her genius, too?) “I found all the other people who bought boxes and I bought their boxes,” he blithely tells us.

Maloof also tells us that most people who buy auction lots that consist of negatives consider them to be junk - because most of the time they, indeed, are junk. Not only that, not everyone is going to want to devote the time Maloof did to scanning and printing the photos. They probably got a profit they were happy with from selling the 'junk' on to someone who was willing to pay for it.

Maloof doesn’t mention, either, that the reason her work was on sale was because she could no longer afford to pay its storage costs.

This is true enough. Maloof does mention that he'd go to storage auctions with his brother, the rest of the film makes it clear Maier had trouble with money in later life (her rent is paid for by some former charges), so if you read between the lines you can guess the circumstances under which Maloof acquired the photos.

Given the film is as much about promoting Maloof as it is Meier, it is understandable he never came right out and said this, though.

There is a very morbid yarn about one child under her care knocked over by a car. Her first reaction wasn’t to tend to him but to snap his picture as he lay on the ground.

What this summary doesn't clarify is that Maier wasn't simply standing over the kid taking photos of him, she was taking photos of the whole scene, in a manner akin to a crime scene photographer.

(Indeed, one thing the film doesn't mention at all is that she would go out at night and take photos of actual crime scenes. In one of the montages there's a photo of two shot-up guys propped against a car, clearly a crime scene, but no mention of this part of her life was made in the film at all. Thus, in the roll call of photographers she was compared to, they didn't get to compare her to Weegee.)

She had a genius for composition and a knack of relaxing and engaging her subjects, whether they were vagrants in the Bowery...

Maier lived and worked in Chicago. Here Macnab makes a mistake either of geography, or of thinking that 'Bowery' is a generic term for the seedier part of town. It's actually a specific neighbourhood of Manhattan. Time was people would've known it for the Bowery Boys. Later, for being the neighbourhood where CBGBs could be found. Now, like much of Manhattan, it has been gentrified.

She was also often working on the sly, using a Rolleiflex camera that allowed her to look downward at the view finder, and thereby avoid eye contact and conceal what she was doing.

It's true that in the film Joel Meyerowitz explains that a Rolleiflex camera can be more discreet. However, it's patently obvious that many of her subjects were well aware that she was taking their photo. Indeed, someone - possibly Meyerowitz - when discussing a particular photo she took makes reference to the fact that the subject is clearly looking her in the eye while she takes the photo. In other photos used in the film, it's clear to see the subject looking directly at the camera, or reacting to their photo being taken.

In this respect, some of her street portraiture reminds me of Bruce Gilden (who would pretty much guarantee that there would be a reaction in his street photography by using a flash).

In short, while shooting from the hip can be less conspicuous and thus make the photographer feel less self-conscious, there doesn't actually appear to be any suggestion that Maier was trying to conceal what she was doing.

(Also, from the story told in the film, you'd think the Rolleiflex was the only camera she used, but from the photos, there was at least one mirror self-portrait, maybe more, where she was using an SLR.)

“What’s the point of taking it if nobody sees it?” one interviewee laments, unable to accept that Maier may simply have been taking her pictures for her own benefit.

Here the reviewer imposes his own reading on the text. One which, given the letter she wrote to a man in France asking about developing and printing her photos with a view to exhibition, isn't entirely supported.

Taking photos, and printing photos, are two different skills. Maier had a compulsion to photograph, the amount of negatives she left behind makes that clear. I suspect it's more the case that she wanted the best of her photos seen, but she lacked the skills to print them herself, or simply wasn't interested in doing that. It strikes me that she might have seen time spent printing them as time not spent photographing. It strikes me that all she needed was to meet the right partner, who'd take that burden off her, but she never did.

As said in the film, Maier would be far from the only photographer who liked taking photos but disliked printing them. Being a woman at that time possibly counted against her.

[1] I have yet to see a reading of a film as egregious as Peter Bradshaw's complete failure to understand the opening scene of Drive.

TBR Piles

[Pinched from here, via coalescent]

1. How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

I don't have to. It's everywhere. Books on shelves? TBR. Books in piles on top of shelves? TBR. Piles on floor? TBR. Piles on tables? TBR. Boxes of books? TBR.

Basically my book collection is one giant TBR pile. This is what happens when you have many and varied interests and acquire books far faster than you can actually read them.

2. Is your TBR mostly print or ebook?

Let's see, I have >5,000 print books and <10 ebooks, so I think I'm going to call that one for print.

3. How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?


By which I mean, I tried having a proper TBR pile, where I made a pile of books and declared "I shall read these, in this order! And any books I acquire before I finish will be added to the end of it!"

I don't think that even survived my finishing the book I was reading while I put the pile together. I can still see it at the top of my bookcase, where it's been for the past… must be nearly ten years now. Shit.

Looking at it, it appears I did accidentally read one of the titles from that pile when I took it out of the library instead (Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Cafe).

These days my key considerations in the question of what to read next are:

1. Do I have an Inter Library Loan out? If so, this gets skipped more or less straight to the top regardless of how much I actually want to read it, due to the fact that fines for late ILLs are not worth thinking about. Potentially three-digits of not worth thinking about.

2. I'm a member of a book group. So that's 12 books I have to read each year. These get bumped up when necessary.

Other than that, it's a case of finishing a book and then seeing what's to hand that takes my fancy. I'll try and vary my reading so quite often the book I've finished will inform my subsequent choice. Sometimes I'll realise I've not read a certain type of book for a while, or that my reading has gone gender-imbalanced, so I'll try and course-correct those things. And sometimes I'll pick up something light to give my reading brain a rest.

In short, magic.

4. A book that’s been on your TBR the longest:

Looking at my actual pile, I can see Delta of Venus, American Gods and The Time Traveler's Wife, among others. But I own many books that pre-date those. There's probably a whole bunch of Clarke/Asimov/Heinlein or other assorted science-fiction that's been waiting to be read for maybe 20 years now. By this time it's probably safe to say I won't get to read all of it.

5. A book you recently added to your TBR:

Most recently would be A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab. Also added recently would be The Way Inn by Will Wiles, The Late Monsieur Gallet by Georges Simenon, Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey, Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin, and actually I'm going to stop there before I start distressing myself.

6. A book that will soon be added to your TBR:

I can see Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson and The Three (and also Day Four) by Sarah Lotz getting added in short order.

I'm waiting for an ILL of Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang to turn up which will go straight to the top of the pile for reasons stated above.

Then there's a bunch of standard library reservations, including The Death House by Sarah Pinborough, Acts of the Assassins by Richard Beard, A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (which won't be added that soon, as there are over 200 reservations and I've locked myself to the bottom of the list).

7. Numbers of shelves used to house your TBR:

Rather than count, I'm just going to say "All of them."

8. On a scale of 1 to 10, how painful is it for you to discard will-never-be-read TBR books?


It's one thing to discard a book when they've fulfilled their purpose (say, a reference book is no longer needed or is outdated), and it's another thing to realise that I actually have no interest in reading certain books (I was able to hive off a bunch of fantasy books when I realised it was a type of fantasy I didn't like reading; I was able to shed near all my Piers Anthony books through a combination of knowing their were badly-written and being uncomfortable with what I learned about certain of his predilections), but having to discard a book that I still want to read, even though I know I likely never will, is a ten every time.

It happens with library books when other people reserve them so I have to send them on. In that case, I don't re-reserve straight away because I don't want to deprive anyone from making full use of them, and because I figure that if I can't remember it after a couple of months… but even so. Still a TEN every time.

With my own books, I never discard the ones that are on the TBR pile, only the ones which have fallen off it.

9. A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you:

A Game of Thrones. Because of the TV show, even non-fans have read it now and I still haven't.

10. Name your sources of powers– where do you get your books from?

The library, Amazon, the Book Depository (so, Amazon), sometimes Waterstones, occasionally Better World Books. Also direct from dealers/publishers/creators at conventions, when the opportunity arises. It's probably just as well I've never found myself in a position where publishers send me books (even if occasionally there are books I want to read Right Now, Please and so it would be nice to get ARCs of those).

11. A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read:

'Dying' may be putting it a bit strongly, but that would probably be The Dark Defiles by Richard K. Morgan. It's actually been on my TBR for a little while now but it turned out to be a bigger book than I expected, so I've been trying to save it for when I have a healthy chunk of reading time blocked out for it.

Honourable mention: not on my TBR pile yet because it's not out yet, but I'm eagerly awaiting Way Down Dark, the first YA novel from James Smythe.

12. A book you’d recommend others add to their TBR shelves:

I find myself recommending short books, because part of me feels that to recommend long books is an imposition. For a while I had a couple of old staples, but recently a new book forced it's way to the front:

Young God by Katherine Faw Morris. Bleak as fuck tale of a young girl in modern America, written in clear, emotionless prose (my taste for this kind of writing I trace back to Ballard). Picked it up after reading Eimear McBride's review in the Guardian. 200 pages, you can probably read this in an evening or two.

13. Is your TBR a force for good in your life?

I often think it would be nice if I could press a pause button and have everything stop and no more books happen for a year or two, just so I can catch up on it some. Make of that what you will.

2015: Books and Films


03/01 Choir, Gareth Malone
12/01 Lazarus, vol. 1: Family, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
13/01 Lazarus, vol. 2: Lift, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
16/01 In a Lonely Place, Dorothy B. Hughes
17/01 Turf, Jonathan Ross
17/01 Who is Jake Ellis?, Nathan Edmondson and Tonci Zonjic
17/01 Superior, Mark Millar
17/01 Kick-Ass 2, Mark Millar
20/01 Prophecy, vol.1, Tetsuya Tsutsui
22/01 The Book of You, Claire Kendal
27/01 She-Hulk, vol. 1: Law and Disorder, Charles Soule
27/01 Hawkeye, vol. 3: LA Woman, Matt Fraction and Javier Pulido
27/01 Moon Knight, vol. 1: From the Dead, Warren Ellis
31/01 Pietr the Latvian, Georges Simenon

05/02 The Ultimate Truth, Kevin Brooks
15/02 The Nowhere Men, Michael Calvin
18/02 Jack Glass, Adam Roberts
19/02 Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, Akira Toriyama
21/02 Uncommon Places, Stephen Shore
23/02 Fuzzy Nation, John Scalzi
28/02 The Late Monsieur Gallet, Georges Simenon

05/03 The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
08/03 Megahex, Simon Hanselman
13/03 So This Is Permanence, Ian Curtis, edited by Deborah Curtis and Jon Savage
27/03 Fresh off the Boat, Eddie Huang
29/03 The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien, Georges Simenon

18/04 The Carter of La Providence, Georges Simenon
24/04 The Archived Victoria Schwab

02/05 Girl in a Band, Kim Gordon
04/05 The Examined Life, Stephen Grosz
16/05 The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
16/05 Assassination Classroom, volume 1, Yusei Matsui
16/05 Assassination Classroom, volume 2, Yusei Matsui
16/05 Assassination Classroom, volume 3, Yusei Matsui
23/05 Hello Darkness, Anthony McGowan
24/05 The 100 Most Pointless Arguments in the World. Solved, Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman
29/05 Under My Skin, James Dawson
31/05 The Wall, William Sutcliffe

12/06 The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer
25/06 We Were Liars, E. Lockhart
28/06 My Heart and Other Black Holes, Jasmine Warga
29/06 Photographers Sketchbooks, ed. Stephen McLaren and Bryan Formhals

05/07 Deadpool Killustrated, Cullen Bunn
10/07 She-Hulk, vol. 2: Disorderly Conduct, Charles Soule
20/07 The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
23/07 Deadpool volume 1, Brian Poeshn and Gerry Duggan
25/07 Thor, vol. 1: Goddess of Thunder, Jason Aaron

02/08 Prophecy, vol.2, Tetsuya Tsutsui
02/08 Prophecy, vol.3, Tetsuya Tsutsui
10/08 Angry Birds Transformers: Age of Eggstinction
25/08 Deadman Wonderland, vol. 2, Jinsei Kataoka
27/08 Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill
30/08 Life Moves Pretty Fast, Hadley Freeman
30/08 Deadman Wonderland, vol. 3, Jinsei Kataoka

01/09 Deadman Wonderland, vol. 4, Jinsei Kataoka

30/10 The Death House, Sarah Pinborough


02/01 Tomorrow, When the War Began
03/01 Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
03/01 Easy A
10/01 Blue Velvet

12/02 Cold in July
16/02 A Walk Among the Tombstones
18/02 Haywire
21/02 Life After Beth

14/03 Obvious Child
15/03 Keeper of Lost Causes
18/03 Non Stop
23/03 Tower Block
29/03 The Maze Runner

04/04 A Most Wanted Man
05/04 Finding Vivian Maier
[Person of Interest, season 1]

03/05 Get Carter
06/05 Beyond Clueless
10/05 Heathers
17/05 Pitch Perfect 2
24/05 The Anomaly
31/05 Mad Max: Fury Road

04/06 Into the Woods

03/07 Big Hero 6
04/07 Grand Hotel
11/07 Doom
14/07 Two Days, One Night

01/08 Risky Business
12/08 Pretty in Pink
16/08 Trouble in Paradise
18/08 The DUFF
21/08 When Harry Met Sally
28/08 Steel Magnolias

12/09 Blue Thunder

02/10 The Man Whot Shot Liberty Valance
13/10 Man Up
21/10 Back to the Future: Part II
27/10 Trading Places

14/11 My Name is Bruce
16/11 Nightcrawler
17/11 Another Earth