Slade House, by David Mitchell

Oct. 15th, 2017 10:37 am
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Slade House, by David Mitchell: I'm reading spooky/ghost/horror stories for October, and this was almost exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. It's a ~literary ghost story, which means I liked the concept, but the characters were barely filled in, and Mitchell was absolutely pushing my buttons with the racist domestic abuser cop, I mean, first of all, could you be more predictable, but mostly, no, hard pass. Sadly his was the second chapter, so it took me a while to realize I was enjoying the book.

It goes off the rails at the end when it gets too explainy, but until then, it's an interesting cross between a murder mystery and a haunted house, with some Inception thrown in for color.

Contains: animal harm, fear of dogs, references to domestic abuse, racist remarks, racist police officers, racist police officers having sex with someone who is concealing their true nature—so dub-con, fatmisia, and mention of eating disorders.
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Easy Flourless Muffins, Bars and Cookies: Delicious Recipes for Healthy, Portable Gluten-Free Snacks, by Amanda Drozdz: All the recipes in this book are gluten-free, but not exactly flourless. Drozdz gets around this by calling for whole oats, and then having you pulverize them in the blender. That's oat flour, but whatever. Most of these recipes are made in a high-powered blender, and call for oats, ground flaxseed, honey, almond butter, almond milk, and often Greek yogurt, almond flour, and eggs. A lot of the recipes are oil free (if you don't count the oil in the almond butter), grain free, dairy free, and can be made refined sugar free and vegan. At the top of each recipe, it tells you what it's free from. None of the recipes use gums, and there's only the occasional use of arrowroot powder (or you can use cornstarch instead). Because the muffins are oil free, the author recommends using parchment paper muffin liners because the muffins will stick to ordinary paper cups; I can only imagine how expensive those are. (Amazon says 120 for $6.79, yowch. Wait, fuck you, Amazon, Target has the same cups, 60 for $1.99. Still pricey, but much better. I do have reusable silicon muffin cups but they're such a pain to waahahash.)

The book has a color picture for each muffin, bar, or cookie, and they all look pretty great. The recipes have a description of the taste and texture, measurements by volume and weight (grams), storage advice, and sometimes substitutions, though not for the coconut flour or oil, which are things I would want to replace.

There's a lot of chocolate and bananas, as well as carrots, zucchini, apples, pumpkin, and cheesecake topping. There's even an entire chapter for one-serving microwave muffins, as well as one devoted to chocolate. I have a lot of the recipes flagged, and I like that they're not the usual white rice flour and starch, but I don't like using honey as a sweetener because it can have a cloying flavor, and also maybe I don't want almond butter in everything? Because that shit is expensive?? But I'll give it a try. The pictures are really inviting.

The index is thorough too. It's just a really nice book.

Update: My food sensitivities are out of control, so I made the dairy free banana bread muffins and they turned out amazing? Tender, moist, and light, which blows my mind considering what's in them, or not in them. The only problem is I don't like banana bread. I know, I know, but I had some super ripe bananas. I know. I'm going to make the pumpkin muffins next. I do love a pumpkin muffin.

Horrorstör, by Grady Hendrix

Oct. 10th, 2017 07:42 pm
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Horrorstör, by Grady Hendrix: I was excited about this because it's a horror story set in an IKEA parody, but unfortunately, it's not particularly funny or scary. It is gross, however, and has plenty of body horror and blood, though not always in a psychologically effective way. The bad guy's a drag—wordy and one-dimensional—and I didn't like the narrator until the very end, so I wasn't invested at all. I feel like Basil, assistant manager and black nerd, would have made a better narrator, someone with an actual stake in the building and his employees. Amy, on the other hand, doesn't give a shit; plus her characterization's sloppy. She's afraid of being fired and is working overtime to make rent, but then Horror Movie Logic sets in and, obviously, now, when she desperately needs to keep her job, is the best time to hold a séance in her place of work while her manager is around and also there's spooky shit going on in Storage Solutions. Obviously.

The most satisfying thing about this is the IKEA font. The illustrations of the various ORSK products are on point, except for the Jodlöpp, which makes no sense (is it upside down? what part goes on your head?) and doesn't match the description in the text.

A promising idea, but the execution didn't work for me. The end is pretty exciting though.

deep blue something

Oct. 9th, 2017 01:12 pm
runpunkrun: john sheppard and rodney mckay in a rowboat (you can't not be on a boat)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
I watched the most terrible shark movie last night. Super intelligent sharks terrorize the scientists and facility that made them super intelligent, and, really, who can blame them. At the end, which I somehow reached, there's a shark rap by L.L. Cool J that inexplicably includes the lines, "deepest, bluest, my hat is like a shark fin." I'm not sure, but I don't think anyone in the entire movie was even wearing a hat, but especially not L.L., who was bare-headed the entire time and had a parrot named Bird.

Deep Blue Sea stars Stellan Skarsgård, a Rappaport, Samuel L. Jackson, L.L. Cool J, and two ladies who look like 1) a knock-off of one of Daniel Jackson's girlfriends, and 2) Gabrielle. It's the kind of movie that opens with two heterosexual couples making out on a boat and drinking, and one guy says to the others, "We're partying!" Despite this, I continued to watch.

Here's a thing about me—I love movies that take place in underwater facilities:
  • Sphere
  • Abyss
  • that mining movie with robocop
  • fine, I looked it up: Leviathan
If it takes place underwater, I will watch it to the end, and then probably watch it again the next time I come across it. There's always the problem of resources (air, heat, an absence of water) and how to get from one place to another without drowning, and there's usually aliens to deal with, or at least some sharks. And Sphere has Queen Latifah in it.

So this movie was terrible. Just one hundred percent awful. But at least it was underwater.

idle musings

Oct. 6th, 2017 10:49 pm
ratcreature: RatCreature is thinking: hmm...? (hmm...?)
[personal profile] ratcreature
After reading another article about how Neanderthals may have contributed even more to the genetic mix of modern humans outside of Africa than previously assumed, I've been wondering how these groups of humans would have seen each other.

Would they have actually thought the other group to be more different than other groups of their own "species"? (I'm actually not sure you can really call these human subtypes different species when they could and did reproduce with fertile offspring, but from what I gather the species concept overall just breaks down at certain points when you poke at it anyway.)

I mean, sure when you look at Neanderthal reconstructions they look somewhat different from us, but not different like a chimpanzee, and modern humans among ourselves also have quite a lot of variation (though I'm not sure how much of that had developed at what time), not just skin color, hair and eye color but facial features, size etc. leading to the whole "human races" construction, and the difficulty to get to a consensus that we are in fact all fundamentally the same. So if you are an early Homo Sapiens and see a Neanderthal would you think them really "other" or just somewhat "other" (i.e. like some unrelated other clan of Homo Sapiens)? They also had tools, fire and probably art too after all.

Of course we probably won't ever know, and afaik they haven't found sites of mixed groups that might be a sign that the mixing was even somewhat consensual. And there doesn't seem to have been that much mingling considering both kinds shared Europe several thousand years.

So then another interesting question is of course whether the later Neanderthals were aware that they were slowly going extinct. I imagine they must have been on some level, as their groups got rarer and modern humans more numerous, but then each group might think it a local problem?

I feel like there should be more speculative fiction about this. The examples with Neanderthal appearances I've read were either older (like Auel) and/or more like SF with alternate timelines where they didn't die out (like Neanderthal Parallax) and such.

ghost stories i shouldn't read

Oct. 5th, 2017 10:52 am
runpunkrun: dana scully looking worried, text: I see crazy people (scully sees crazy people)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Yesterday I asked for ghost story recs, and Tor.com came through for me: We Dare You to Spend the Night with these 15 Haunted House Stories

I put a bunch of them on hold at the library. I'm particularly interested in Horrorstör, by Grady Hendrix, which is exactly what it sounds like, a horror story set in an IKEA parody, and The Grip of It, by Jac Jemc, which also promises to play with the genre.

Here's the catch: I should not be reading ghost stories. They are going to upset me. I will probably do it anyway. It's October for chrissakes. If I can't have pumpkin bread (my body currently hates me and everything I've ever loved), then by god I'll read a scary story and inevitably freak myself out in the dark hallway on my way to bed. See, I know it's going to happen, and yet.
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, by Mary Roach: Despite the subtitle, I found this book to be light on both science and the afterlife. There is some actual science in here—including trying to quantify near-death experiences, infrasound as the cause of hauntings, and pointing electromagnets at the brain to induce the feeling of being watched—and I enjoyed those parts the most, but a lot of this stuff was tackled with just plain common sense, like the six or seven chapters (I exaggerate...a little) on mediums. They weren't debunked by science; they were debunked by turning the lights on, and not letting them wiggle the table with their feet.

The afterlife part deals more with the soul (its weight, its reincarnation) than any actual ghosts, which is really what I was interested in. A good portion of the book is dedicated to mediums and their various fakeries, including ectoplasm (cheesecloth, or less often: sheep's guts), than the spirits themselves. Roach even goes to a weekend seminar on how to be a medium, a pretty worthless chapter, really, as you don't learn anything you couldn't learn from an episode of The Mentalist and neither does the author. I feel like the content was hit or miss, with some chapters feeling like a page out of Roach's travel diary rather than an attempt to get across a substantial idea. And then she pulls a trick where she says she's observing a patient participating in a scientific study, only to later confess—in a footnote, no less—that she wasn't allowed to be present for that study, so this is just some random dude who is undergoing a similar procedure, with no near-death experience protocol whatsoever. There was no reason to mislead the reader about that; it wasn't a critical part of the book, and that kind of deception harms her credibility.

I've never fully trusted Roach after Bonk in which she wants to touch the penis of an unconscious man undergoing a surgical procedure (aka "sexual assault"), and she shows similar poor judgment here in some of her word choices ("lame" used as a pejorative, "disadvantaged" of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled/delayed), as well as an unnecessary reference to Woody Allen, a man whose very name needs a trigger warning, even if you're only referring to his films.

Anyway, now I want a book about ghosts. Anyone have recs for any good ghosty nonfiction?

sweetness i was only joking

Oct. 3rd, 2017 10:00 am
runpunkrun: illustration of numbered sheep jumping over a sleeping figure, text: runpunkrun (and then she woke up)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
  • had a dream I had an orange tabby cat
  • named Sweetness
  • and a bee flew into my ear
  • I flinched so hard I woke myself up
  • and now I have Bigmouth Strikes Again
  • stuck in my head

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