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30th May 2020


05:30 pm - Provenance by Ann Leckie
I really enjoyed the Ancillary series and recently reread the first two before reading the third, enjoying them just as much the second time through.

I liked Provenance a lot too, but for one small thing (see under 'Bad').

Good: the characters, the different human societies, the alien Geck, the writing, the way Ingray slowly learned what she was capable of and that others saw her in a much better light than she did. Also, there's a cool reference to Nilt and the purchase of a rug there which I might have missed had I not reread the Ancillary series recently. I also really liked the three genders on Hwae and how people choose theirs and their name when they become (or decide they want to be) adult. Can we have that in our society, please?

Puzzling: why were two weapons used in the murder, and by whom? There are hints pointing to at least three people but it's never made clear unless I missed something.

Bad: just one fairly small thing but it irritated the hell out of me whenever I encountered it: the title Miss. Men get Mr, nemen get Mx, but women are saddled with the insulting Miss, and that's in a society that doesn't seem to have marriage. WTH? What's wrong with Ms? That's just so wrong in a book that handles gender so well otherwise.

Anyway, if anyone has any theories on the 'puzzling', I'd like to discuss them in comments.  :-) Also posted on Dreamwidth, with comment count unavailable comments.
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4th May 2020


12:44 pm - AO3 stats meme
As I now know there are at least a couple more lurkers like me around, I feel as if I should post more instead of mainly reading and commenting because there are more people here than I thought.

I might have done this meme once, but I thought I'd have another look, and the first sort by hits was very surprising. So here goes (though I'm not in the league of astrogirl and thisbluespirit because small fandoms and gen).

AO3 Stats ) Also posted on Dreamwidth, with comment count unavailable comments.
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19th April 2020


02:25 pm - Lockdown meme
Here in NZ Aotearoa we're on level 4 which is one of the strictest lockdowns in the world - and it's working, just 9 new cases today. We can only leave home to buy food or if we're essential workers. We may go to level 3 next month which will allow a bit of movement in the local area. But more in this meme that others have done...

20 questions made more international, and the really crap #11 replaced )

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24th January 2020


09:37 pm - Picard!
Very enjoyable and promising, and never boring.

Spoiler )

Pity about the lens flares. Is that an accepted thing in SF now, dammit? Like shaky camera work (which stopped me watching BSG), it raises an artificial barrier where there shouldn't be one between the viewers and the story they want to immerse themselves in. Patrick Stewart, I'd have thought you would have said no to such a distracting device. I'm enjoying the technical advances made in the 20 or 30 years since Picard was a captain though.

I'm definitely looking forward to more, and so far it seems to be more my thing than Discovery (though I do love Tilly and Reno).

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1st January 2020


12:15 pm - First day of 2020 here
We woke up to eerie yellow skies this morning with smoke from the Australian bush fire being blown across the south island, and it's been getting darker all day. We have the lights on at midday and the unlit rooms are dark and gloomy. It feels like post-9pm twilight except for the colour.

This photo is from a local photographer. My phone camera compensated for the yellow light so I couldn't get a photo of my own. The moon was deep red last night.

Aussie bush fires turn our skies yellow and orange

It's now become more orange and the street lights are on. I hate to think what it's like over in Oz. Be safe, everyone!

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31st December 2019


11:54 pm - Happy New Year!
It's 5 minutes into the new year here, so have a fireworks icon (which is the closest we get to anything like that in this town).

I wish good things for you all in 2020.

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26th December 2019


02:41 pm - Christmas video from the Bern Police
A fun Christmas Star Wars video from the Swiss police; you don't need to know any German. I love the sign at 1:22 - the Empire could well argue that it doesn't apply to them. At the end you can see the labels on the gifts: "Für Luke von Papi" and "Für Leia". :-D

Translation of their festive greetings:
We wish you happy holidays.
May the Force of peace and serenity be with you.
Your Canton Police Bern



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24th December 2019


07:12 pm - Wishes of happiness
Wishing you light, love, and joy, whether you celebrate or not!



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23rd December 2019


02:13 pm - Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
We went to The Rise of Skywalker on Thursday (1 hour's drive each way) - and it was fun! So much better and much more upbeat than The Last Jedi despite the inevitable lens flares - seriously, we want to be immersed in a story, not distracted by a camera which isn't part of it. But that stupid Abrams quirk aside, it was entertaining, fun, and a very satisfying end to the series. As in The Force Awakens there were some nice nods to A New Hope (still my favourite).The lighting on Leia when inserted into various scenes wasn't quite right which was slightly disconcerting but it was still good to see her.

Longest credits ever but we sat through most of them just for the music; I love John Williams' Star Wars scores. This is one I'll watch again when it comes up on Disney Plus.

Spoilers )

Now to watch Star Wars Rebels and The Mandalorian, yay! (I've been distracted by playing the awesome Heaven's Vault game.)

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23rd August 2019


10:23 pm - Scum, Villainy, and Rebels (Blake's 7/Star Wars Original Trilogy)
Here's another instalment in my ongoing [community profile] intoabar  series in which Vila ends up in various different universes which has become a Thing. This time it's the Star Wars original trilogy.

Title: Scum, Villainy, and Rebels
Author: [personal profile] vilakins
Prompt: Vila Restal goes into a bar and meets... Leia Organa.
Fandoms: Blake's 7, Star Wars Original Trilogy
Word count: 3281
Rating: General audiences
Contents: No warnings needed
Summary: Vila asked Orac to take him somewhere no one would ever find him.

Scum, Villainy, and Rebels Also posted on Dreamwidth, with comment count unavailable comments.
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7th May 2019


08:40 pm - May the Fourth - and fifth
The May the fourth - and fifth - NZSO Star Wars concerts (the first two original films with the orchestra doing the score) were amazing, especially the second one with the iconic Imperial March and all its variations. Just stunning! The films were on a big screen over the orchestra and had subtitles for when the dialogue was partially overwhelmed by the magnificent score. John Williams added so much to those films with his music.

There were about 3,000 people in the Spark Arena at each one, and when we left, there was a huge lightsabre shining in the sky, mounted on a crane which was invisible in the dark: very effective.

Lightsabres: yes, they were indeed allowed and you could see them waving in the audience during fight scenes.

Costumes: I saw several Jedi, a Stormtrooper who must have been sweltering in the humidity, several Leias, and a couple of Lukes. No Hans as far as I noticed: pity.

The Mos Eisley Cantina scene: we were looking forward to the orchestra doing the jazz, but they didn't. We and the people in the row in front sadly discussed this and thought that maybe John Williams hadn't written it, but not the case. It's now my theory that because it's part of the film itself rather than the score, it couldn't be removed.

A couple of fans )
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08:12 pm
Because DW has given paid and premium accounts more image hosting space, I'll go back to using it to see if it's any easier than Imgur. This possibly means more posts, including some catch-ups. If only it were as easy as Facebook...

To start with, here are photos of the sunrise as we left for Auckland on May the fourth for the Star Wars concerts, the views from our B&B in Meadowbank, and the Tesla Model 3 we had a look at on Sunday morning; ours being due to arrive in the next 2-3 months (we hope).

Photos )

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3rd May 2019


08:52 pm - May the Fourth
Tomorrow is the 4th of May, or indeed May the Fourth, and we're off in the morning to Auckland to see the first two original Star Wars films - with the NZ Symphony Orchestra playing the score. Yay!

Not yay - they're going to search bags (and only small ones are allowed) and frisk everyone going in. I have never been frisked Yes, that is the way things are now. Greg says they're being paranoid, but it's making me feel it too. People can dress up in Star Wars costumes but NOT complete with weapons. I wonder if light sabres are OK. Probably not.

I'll be wearing my Rebel Alliance pendant. Maybe also on the plane. Also posted on Dreamwidth, with comment count unavailable comments.
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14th April 2019


09:41 am - More on gender in SF, and the Moclans
Another trope in SF series is that females are always smaller and more rounded than the males and of course with mammary glands, no matter the alien race, even reptilian ones. (Discovery, you could have made Saru's sister as thin and angular as him, but no.)

However I'm now wondering what Moclan females are. The males mate and lay eggs, so what, anatomically, are "females"? Essentially neuter? With no children to take care of (and be expected to have), they could instead be the defenders, protectors, the standing army, even the governing body.

Come on, The Orville, you could find some old records showing something like that, and the current persecution perhaps based to be on a long-ago failed military uprising.

I bet you won't, but prove me wrong.

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13th April 2019


08:37 pm - Yet again with that tired and offensive old sexism trope?
I generally enjoy The Orville with its classic Star Trek feel and light touch, but seriously, why do pretty much all SF series (and I'm looking at you too, Farscape; rant here) have to do the sexist society trope? You know, as if it's new and original? As if they have something new to say?

Yeah, right.

It might be slightly original if it were men being oppressed but as far as I know only C J Cherryh's Chanur novels have done that.

We had to put up with the Moclan society and Bortus's offensive mate last season, and oh joy, here we go again. Enough already; I refuse to watch.

Here's an excerpt from a review I found online, cut for minor spoilers )

One small plus: Marina Sirtis in a bit part as a teacher very early on, using her own accent. Once you've seen her scene, you can skip the rest.

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4th April 2019


11:28 am - Colour meme
In the absence of content and because photos are all I have to offer and uploading and posting them is such a pain, have a meme.

Your rainbow is strongly shaded violet.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What is says about you: You are a creative person. You appreciate beauty and craftsmanship. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.

Not so very much with the patience thing though. Or I'd be posting the photos.

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17th March 2019


12:22 pm - The vigil
I went to the vigil held here in Oamaru for the Christchurch victims. It started in St Luke's Church with candles, then we walked from there to the Courthouse.


The flag at half mast seen from the porch at St Luke's


People walking from St Luke's down the main street to the Courthouse. All my Muslim friends were there too, some of whom are mourning people they knew, and they were surrounded with love and support.

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22nd February 2019


11:25 am - Te Reo Rhapsody
It's a lovely late summer day here. Have a Te Reo (Maori language) version of Bohemian Rhapsody - truncated but still very cool.



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11th February 2019


10:41 am - Fandom tropes
Snagged from thisbluespirit, but grouped instead of ranked because I've written so few of them. It's a very bizarre list, and for tha matter some strange tropes I've heard of actually aren't on it.

Fandom tropes I've written, might write, probably won't, and JUST NO )

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10th February 2019


09:44 pm - Friday Five on sleeping
1. What size (twin, full, etc.) is your bed?
We don't have either of those sizes. In this country they go up in this order: single, double (really 1.5 and to be avoided for two), queen, king, super king. We have a queen. Twin beds are plural here, referring to two singles in one room.

2. How many pillows do you sleep with?
One normally, two if I'm not feeling well.

3. Do you have a weighted blanket? If so, does it help you?
No, and I'm not sure I'd like one. We used to have heavy wool blankets in winter when I was a kid and I didn't really like the weight on me. I prefer a duvet now, or just a sheet in summer.

4. Do you sleep with any stuffed animals?
No, not even as a child, as I didn't have any. That sounds sad, but I had loads of wonderful toys (mostly for boys), just not stuffed ones. I do now though, all bought as an adult. Most of them are cats but I do have a magnificent black bear, though not a teddy: it's very realistic and unrealistically soft and cuddly.
I do however sleep with at least one cat, my much more cuddly black Sebastian, and that's more than enough softies in the bed (though with sharp bits). :-)

5. Do you have to have the TV on to go to sleep?
No TV in the bedroom, but if I'm tired, I might doze off in front of the telly in the living room. My usual bedtime ritual is to do a cryptic crossword in bed before turning the light off. It's relaxing and distracts my brain from any worries.

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27th January 2019


08:59 pm - The return of the icon meme
1. Comment to this entry with "Ooh, shiny!" and I will pick three of your icons.

2. Make an entry in your own journal (or just reply if you prefer) and talk about the icons I picked.

[personal profile] mab_browne  asked about these icons, all three made by me:


This is Elim Garak from Star Trek:DS9, ostensibly a "plain and simple" Cardassian tailor who enjoyed the holodeck, but in reality a lot more complex, being an exiled spy and former member of the Obsidian Order, the Cardassian intelligence service. He was one of my favourite characters.



Servalan, the elegant and evil Supreme Commander of  the Federation's Space Fleet from Blake's 7, swanned about in formal gowns that proclaimed her power: who needs uniforms and rank insignia when you can dress in white and never actually get your hands - or clothes - dirty? She's here at Space Fleet HQ with her glass flower, smiling sweetly and being evil.



Vila Restal, also from Blake's 7, a very clever thief and often the comic relief though he was at heart a sad character who had no self-confidence outside his skills and was often picked on. His and Avon's witty interactions in the first two seasons (they were at that stage sort of friends) were what attracted me to the show when I found a list of quotes online. He was my favourite in B7 (as you can tell from my username) and one of very few faves who aren't alien or androids, oddly enough because he was so very human.
This icon was made years ago when I went on a comic-making kick with the GIMP image software: reduce an ordinary screencap to outlines, then fill them in.

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07:02 pm - Friday Five about winter
Oh good, a Friday Five I can do, even though it's summer here.

1. What are your feelings about winter?
Fear and loathing when I lived in Auckland because it was an almost unbroken stretch of grey miserable wetness and often illness. I feel much more positive down here where sunny days are much more common, and when it's not windy, actually very nice to sit outside a cafe in and enjoy coffee with friends. And I keep hoping that we'll get some snow. :-D

2. What is your go-to drink in the winter?
Coffee, specifically a flat white (good description here along with a photo of the usual NZ fern version). Mind you, coffee all year round is pretty good too. Breakfast is not breakfast without it.

3. What are your favourite things about the winter?
Now I'm living here, the sunny days and lower rainfall - so much more enjoyable even though there are still occasional storms and floods.

4. How do you deal with the wintry blues?
Much, much better than I did! Vitamin D helps when there's no sun.

5. What are your least favourite things about the winter?
In general* there not being anything for everyone to look forward to or celebrate while northerners have Christmas, New Year, and various other fun things to brighten them up depending on where they are.
* But hey, at least there's the Steampunk festival here in early June, so that's something that for me puts Oamaru a big step above anywhere else in this country. Even though it's limited in its appeal to others, including friends, lots of people from out of town or even overseas come to here to join in the fun.

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Current Location: Oamaru
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24th December 2018


04:04 pm - Oh Christmas tree...
We haven't got any Christmas decorations, but I suppose I could have got out the summer holiday lights (50s-style caravans, tomato sauce bottles, pohutukawa blossoms, and jandals/thongs/flip-flops though they all seem to be hidden behind bigger lights...) but it doesn't get dark till 10pm.

Last night at a friend's place though I took a photo of their only Christmas decoration.

Haha, I would love one of these! )

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12:49 pm - Christmassy Friday Five
From [community profile] thefridayfive , a good excuse for me to make a post:

1. Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas – which one do you use?
Mostly "Merry Christmas" because most people here celebrate it. "Happy Holidays" isn't really used by people (companies do though) but it actually applies here since most people take their summer holidays now. (Not me though; I prefer it when schools are back and the weather's more settled.)

2. Do you own an ugly Christmas sweater?
It's summer, so no one here does that. Why does anyone though? Just asking - is it a sort of joke, like wearing the ugliest thing you can find?

3. Do you celebrate the Winter Solstice?
Unfortunately our winter drags on with nothing to enliven it. (Except for this town with steampunk weekend, so that's something, though it's not at the solstice.)

4. Now that you are ‘in the know,’ what would you leave out for St. Nick on the 24th?
I was always in the know, never having believed in Santa / been told that particular lie. St Nicholas however was a real person and if he happened to pass while throwing dowries in the windows of poor girls, I'd offer a bite to eat and a cup of tea.

5. Tired of the snow and icky weather yet? For those fortunate people in the other hemisphere, are you tired of the humidity and hot weather?
I'm sick of rain like everyone else in this country. Summer's been very late this year, what with cold and rain for two months. The sun is shining today though - YAY -and I'm hoping it will for more than one day this time.</user> Also posted on Dreamwidth, with comment count unavailable comments.
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11th November 2018


10:29 pm - Armistice Day 11-11-18
11am on 11-11-18: the armistice celebrations at the Oamaru war memorial on a glorious spring day.


Soldiers and poppies outside the town hall

Five more photos under the cut )


... and when I got home, we found a single poppy out on our rock garden! I am stunned. We also had a first poppy bloom on 11 November in 2016. The blue tiles are a garden seat.

This evening we went to see Peter Jackson's film They Shall Never Grow Old which was commissioned by the British Imperial War Museums in association with the BBC. It features 90 minutes of restored and colourised archival footage and a soundtrack created with voice-overs from archival interviews with British WWI veterans recorded in the 60s and 70s.

And man, it was intense.

A veteran told me about it when I was a child, how a shell blew up the man next to him, how he and others drank from a shell-hole for three days until they found a dead German at the bottom, how he was gassed (only slightly compared to others), and he let me feel the pieces of shell in his arm. I was only about 8 but I remember it vividly.

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20th August 2018


03:59 pm - Fic: In the Company of Strangers
Here's my Unconventional Courtship story, written during renovations (ceilings coming down, new ones going up, walls being stripped, noise, and dust everywhere). This fic challenge is one I enjoy though - because? - I find it hard, romance not being a genre I go for. It's also fun finding a plot synopsis that appeals.

Title: In the Company of Strangers
Author: Vilakins
Fandom: Blake's 7
Pairing/Characters: Cally, Kerr Avon, assorted assassins
Rating: PG-13
Length: 5,438
Summary: A woman without a past... She didn't know her name; she didn't know her home planet. "Mina" knew only that her martial-arts skills and weaponry and assassination techniques went far beyond the average person's.
A mark that became a death warrant… The people who'd tried to assassinate her all shared one common trait: a tattoo of a winged horse, like the one on her ankle.

Notes: Based on the plot synopsis for The Business of Strangers by Kylie Brant

Link: In the Company of Strangers

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6th July 2018


06:18 pm - Fic: A Human Resource
I finally got round to uploading the Avon story I've been sitting on for a while. It was written for a gen bingo card, but I very much doubt I'll get a bingo as it's been so long.

It's a PWB about Avon working in the Aquitar Project, and was for the prompt "Office".

A Human Resource

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5th July 2018


10:11 pm - That giant teapot
I was just checking out the Christchurch Grymmstone and Treacle Emporium who will be bringing their wares to town for the Victorian festival - and also found out who owns and drives the giant teapot we saw: it's a very cool mobility scooter!

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3rd July 2018


05:39 pm - Steampunk Festival: Sunday
Later than I'd planned, but here's the last lot of photos.

Tintype photography, monster teapot racing, and parasol duelling )

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29th June 2018


06:08 pm - Steampunk Festival: Saturday
I've tried to select photos that are different from last year's, so none of tea duelling for example, though I did watch again (but didn't compete this time).

The parade, steampunk morris, a chap on tracks, a wizard and an author, and Splendid Teapot Racing )

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