[sticky entry] Sticky: A Brief Introduction

Jan. 5th, 2012 09:41 pm
kitsjay: (Default)
For those of you who stumbled upon here by accident (I'm so sorry), here's a brief plot summary of the life of Kitty (yours truly) so far.

LAST WEEK ON THE LIFE OF KITTY, OUR HERO WAS:

* 25 years old
* Bipolar
* Lesbian pirate from outerspace
* Vanquisher of the English major of the University of Texas
* Mild mannered librarian assistant wonder by day, fierce and furious feminist by night!

Really, you haven't missed much. It'll probably get canceled in the next week, anyway.
kitsjay: (Default)
The polar vortex finally reached us here in Texas - it's been colder than usual, but two days ago, it rained all day and dipped into the twenties at night. I waited up until 3:00 in the morning, nestled into my armchair with a flannel blanket, two kitties, and a book propped open in my lap in front of the fire, but alas, no snow. I did wake up the next day to find our lantana draped in ice, however. Of course, today it was 70 degrees, so I suppose that's the end of that.

However, I was in a meta mood, and within my stack of books piled precariously beside me, I fished out one called Shelf Life. Now, this is the third book I've read titled Shelf Life - the first being a series of short vignettes set in an Australian supermarket, the second an anthology of books about bookstores with a foreword by Neil Gaiman, and this one, a sort of memoir written about a woman's year working in a bookstore. I had high hopes, but - well, to back up, allow me to fill you in on the bookstores I remember.

The first bookstore I can recall going to that wasn't a chain Half-Price Books or the sterile aisles of Barnes and Noble, was a tiny shop next to our eye doctor that amazingly still stands. It was called Copperfield Books, and by the name alone, I knew I would love it. It sits unassumingly tucked into the corner of a shopping strip. As you walk in, there is a desk to the left, usually manned by a genteel woman with eyeglasses dangling across her shirtfront, who beams and tells you to have fun browsing. As you wander further, there are little open squares formed by the bookcases. It is one of those places that you have to get on the floor and run your fingers down the spines of the last shelf, searching for that one perfect title.

The second bookshop was appropriately named Bookland. It occupied a much larger space, but was filled to the brim with every sort of book you could want. There was a long table covered haphazardly with magazines, and thigh-high piles of National Geographics slipping out from underneath the legs. The place felt perpetually dim, crowded with the ghosts of authors slipping through the mystery aisles, browsing the history section, sitting in comfortable chairs by the mysticism portion, and sliding through the pages of my favorite place, the fantasy aisles. It was a used book store, and one got the impression from the overstuffed, sagging shelves that the owner never had the heart to turn down any book brought to him. It had pulp sci-fi novels with covers of half-clad women clutching at men clad in loincloths fighting aliens with swords. It had books forgotten and ridiculed, books loved and cherished, books read and re-read until they ended up here, hoping for someone new to flip through their yellowed pages. It was at the bottom of one of these shelves, nestled in the north-east corner, that I found The Green Rider and read the first twenty pages without moving, enrapt in my new find.

The owner gave the place its own color. You could stroll up and smile apologetically and ask, "There was this book... I think it had a dog?" and he would snap up immediately and say, "Oh, yes, we have that," and lead you directly to it without glancing at a computer. His assistant, a gangly, awkward teenage girl with red hair and round glasses, always sat hunched behind the counter, her face buried in a book. She was comfortable, like the place she worked - here, I thought, was a place with people who loved books as much as I do.

From there, I moved to San Antonio, where I found my third bookstore, Nine Lives Books. Another used shop, this one was more eclectic. The owners also ran the Tenth Life animal shelter, so cats would roam around the store, rubbing against ankles, hiding under the chairs, and nestled amongst the shelves. If you sat down to peruse a paperback you had tugged off a shelf, a warm body would immediately press against your lap while you absently stroked soft fur and turned a page. On special days, they would invite tarot readers, Celtic bands, and other misfits into the front of the shop. Especially in San Antonio, at that point of my life, Nine Lives was finding a place where I belonged, finding my tribe hidden, but not extinct.

All of these places I remember fondly. I still get lost in the Barnes and Noble and Half-Price Books of the world, and who knows how many hours I've spent clicking through Amazon, but those independent bookstores are still the places I find myself losing myself in.

So, what's wrong with Shelf Life by Suzanne Shea? She recalls fondly the bookstores of her own youth, but they're all sterile. She talks about bookstores with restaurants and furniture sections. She talks about best-sellers and self-help books, and dismisses those once-loved, battered copies that found new homes through the shops of my youth. It's all glossy and run like a fine-tuned machine. Rather than talking about readers, she talks about customers. Two pages were just a list of all the magazines the bookstore she worked at carried. It's retail, not reading.

To quote Sean, "I never trust a bookstore where people aren't reading."
kitsjay: (Green outside)
I often joke that my brother and I don't have a problem with decorating: we just add another bookcase.

This is becoming less of a joke and more of an actuality. Recently, Christy introduced me to Goodreads.com, which was wonderful. It was like Facebook for people who read. With the download of their phone app, I quickly went through and managed to scan and upload most of my books (there are still probably 200-300 that are on loan to friends, at Mom and Dad's, or unaccounted for due to reasons I list later). It was marvelous. I keep meaning to work on Sean's collection, but mine alone was 500 books, and Sean has as many, if not more, than I.

The problem with Goodreads, unfortunately, is that it's geared more to contemporary and English language books. My collection includes some very old, leatherbound copies that were printed prior to ISBNs and barcodes; I also have several in Latin, ancient Greek, and even - rather bafflingly so - one in French. Sean, of course, has many in Russian.

So I searched and happened to stumble upon LibraryThing. It costs money, but it was a paltry $19 for a lifetime membership, and supports more books than Goodreads. I should specify here that I like them both: Goodreads for the social aspect and its smoother interface, and LibraryThing for supporting more and varied books.

That said, my personal library is still in disarray. Mom and Dad are bringing with them some of those 200-300 books from their house, and I am running out of places to put more bookcases. We have two tall, broad ones in the living room. There are three more tall, thin ones in the reading room, and three more short ones besides. Upstairs, I have two medium ones, a smallish one, and Sean's bed has several shelves that are filled up. And while bookcases tend to stay the same, our library tends to grow, particularly after a trip to Half-Price or a moment of weakness on Amazon.

While previously I have laughed at the notion of cataloging my books and labeling them - for a personal library? Seems a bit pretentious, I thought - the prospect grows more attractive. It would call for investing in quite a bit of time to label the books themselves, the shelves, catalog them into a system geared for it, and learning the ever-daunting Library of Congress system (admittedly, I do have quite a bit of familiarity with this, as I used to routinely browse the stacks of the university library).

And of course, the more I wait, the more daunting the process will seem. It figures that my dream home contains a built-in library a la Beauty and the Beast.

On the whole, however, I much prefer to have the pleasant problem of having too many books than not enough.
kitsjay: (Phlox)
So a long time ago, I promised pictures. I still don't have any of the house - it's hard sending them individually with a phone camera - but I do have the garden, and given that's where I spend 90% of my time when I can anyway...

My Courtyard )

And that's it! You now know what I've been doing the past few weeks. Hope it was worth it!
kitsjay: (Shark week)
A (very) late happy birthday to Vanessa!
kitsjay: (4 a.m.)
Augh. Stretching my writer's muscles, which have apparently atrophied to nearly nothing.

Three snapshots of three places I've lived - each are less than 150 words.

San Antonio )

Austin )

Houston )
kitsjay: (Fandom no icon)
So went to see Sherlock finally! Thoughts on it are under the cut; spoiler warning, naturally.

Elementary, My Dear Guy Ritchie )
kitsjay: (Friendship)
Or rather, how it will, because it hasn’t happened yet. I mean, it’s a little too soon to tell, is all I’m saying—I’m not telling this right, am I? Okay, okay, back up, so:

Once upon a time, Kitty had a driver’s license. T’was an awful picture, but the mean, wicked DMV refused to change it. Whatever, DMV, whatever. So anyway, our fair heroine shrugged and went on with said picture, but being somewhat absent-minded, she oft tucked it away in her jeans pocket and forgot about it. It grew bent and creased, but she only had a year to go before replacing it with a new, better driver’s license.

That said, again, she’s kind of absent-minded, so she tucked it away somewhere and though she searched far and low for her lost driver’s license, she could not find it!

“Alas!” she cried, for she was sore vexed at the prospect of asking the mean, wicked DMV for a replacement, “What shall I do?”

Well, kiddos, this is what you does: you roll with it.

No, really.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you’ve got to find the humor in these situations, and laugh at them. In my case, losing a driver’s license sucks, but it’s not that big of a deal, except… it’s kind of hilarious. New Year’s is all about new beginnings, finding the new you (for the next three months, before the old you returns and asks where all their stuff is), all that jazz. And for me, this was a metaphorical new me. My driver’s license is from when I was sixteen. I was overweight, still in high school, at times fiercely unhappy and other times boundlessly enthusiastic, and looking back, I’m not that person anymore.

You know how when someone loses weight, and you’ve been with them the whole time, it’s hard to tell? But go away for three months and suddenly it’s, “Wow, you’ve changed so much!”?

We can’t go away for three months from ourselves, so we never really see how we’ve changed until we see an old picture or remember something from the past and laugh and think, “Was I ever that stupid/naïve/awesome?”

So yeah. I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, but since the old me is both literally and metaphorically going through a shift change, I am this year. Maybe the New Me makes resolutions now.

The point is, I’m making changes. This New Year’s, I was surrounded by people I love who were all mumbling their way through Auld Lang Syne until the chorus when seven drunken would-be Pavarotti's began belting out the familiar parts, but none of them were people I hung out with last year. I’ve got old friends still that I wouldn't trade for the world, but I’ve got new friends too.

And I think, sometimes, that the true point of New Year’s is to remind ourselves that change is sometimes not all bad. That sometimes it’s necessary. That sometimes the new looks a lot like the old, and sometimes it’s all about something different.

So even though getting a new driver’s license is a pain, it’s also indicative of something greater.

Or maybe I just really don’t want to admit that I’m that absent-minded.

Either way, happy new year, kids. Have fun this time around, and hopefully I’ll see you around next one.
kitsjay: (Garter)
I should cook.

Spend forty minutes looking up recipes and saving desserts that you will never make. Realize hunger has decided that you will have cereal for dinner. Pour cereal out of box. Check fridge to find you have no milk. Pour cereal back into box.

Take-out it is.

I should clean.

Spend ten minutes wandering around, idly noting things that need to be cleaned. Spend forty minutes perfecting the perfect 'cleaning' playlist. Spend another ten minutes burning CD and trying to find optimum place for speakers.

Too late to clean now.

I should sleep.

Spend three hours reading fic.
kitsjay: (Friendship)
Happy b-day, Keebler! ♥
kitsjay: (Indiana Too Old for this Shit)
Seriously, fandom, seriously?

There's an ongoing debate because in some pre-production script, they referred to Monroe's character as "Eddie". It's never been mentioned on the show, so some people prefer "Monroe".

This is not a big deal.

And yet... people will make it one. In case you don't feel like following the link, you actually have people arguing that it's "disrespectful to the character" and they're less likely to give a fic a chance if it uses it--because, y'know, that's the true judge of writing.

But what really ticked me off was that I anonymously posted saying that if anyone had any prompts they'd really love to see filled, I would fill them. So I've been writing nearly all night and have actually written five stories, most at least 1000 words, and really my best to do quality work while working at the speed of light.

Everyone so far has been awesome, thanking me so much for filling it, saying that it's great, yadda, and then I get this:

If I could ask for something it would be for you to call him Monroe. :( Because I'd really like to share the Christmas joy.

It just seems really... ungrateful. You couldn't word it as, "I'd love to see this prompt filled, but could you use 'Monroe' instead of Eddie?". Or the fact that apparently she can't even read fics that use Eddie? Because there goes two thirds of fandom right there.

I explained to her that I usually use whichever the prompter used, but out of curiosity, I went back and checked--all but two of the fics I've written use Monroe!

I don't know. Just way to ruin the spirit of things, person. Thanks a lot for that, really.

SOPA Bill

Dec. 13th, 2011 09:07 am
kitsjay: (Shocked)
I don't normally post activist stuff, but this is pretty important. If you haven't heard, SOPA is a new government bill coming up in the next week which will... well, this video will explain:

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.



Long story short: we have lawmakers who barely understand the internet trying to regulate/censor it. Caught up? Good, you can protest here:

http://americancensorship.org/

Twitter, Livejournal, Facebook--all of these sites are in jeopardy.

It takes two seconds to send an email, so please do.

Kimber

Nov. 18th, 2011 01:55 am
kitsjay: (Rain and Tea)
My niece is in the hospital. I just had dinner with them last night and everything was fine, but apparently she's in excruciating pain now. The blood and urine tests were clean and the CT didn't show anything. They transferred her to the children's hospital.

Just--if you pray, pray for her; if not, just keep her in your thoughts, please.

I'll update as soon as I hear more.
kitsjay: (Wisecracks Dresden)
And this, johns and janes, is how you open a hard-boiled detective story:

The man said: "McCary."

"No." I shook my head and started to push past him, and he said: "McCary," again thickly, and then he crumpled into a heap on the wet sidewalk.

It was dark there, there wasn't anyone on the street--I could have walked away. I started to walk away and then the sucker instinct got the best of me and I went back and bent over him.

I shook him and said: "Come on, chump--get up out of the puddle."

A cab came around the corner and its headlights shone on me--and there I was, stooping over a drunk whom I'd never seen before, who thought my name was McCary."

--Black, by Paul Cain

Also, I feel like I need a dictionary to read some of these:

"One of the guys," he growled over his beer. "What's she pulled this time?"

Steve shrugged and said: "I guess it's the usual. The torn-pajama act. Only there's a kickback this time."

"How come? You handling it, huh? Must be a nice cozy one."

Steve nodded. The big man blew smoke from his mouth. "Go ahead and handle it," he said.

"You don't mind a pinch here?"

The big man laughed heartily. "Nuts to you, brother," he said pleasantly enough. "You're a private dick. So it's a hush. O.K. Go out and hush it. And if it was a pinch--that bothers me like a quart of milk. Go into your act. Take all the room you want. Cops don't bother Jack Stoyanoff."

--The King in Yellow, by Raymond Chandler

So alongside, "Tell it to Sweeney", I'm adding, "That bothers me like a quart of milk" to the slang I want to bring back into common usage. Modern lingo just isn't as delightfully opaque as thirties slang was, sadly.

Me, Goth

Nov. 2nd, 2011 01:10 pm
kitsjay: (Laugh)
Also, in case you were curious, This is what I look like with black hair )

It's kind of growing on me, actually.
kitsjay: (Fall flower)
Fanfiction is an art unto itself. While most recognize the same elements which make up any story, there are differences between published fiction and fanfiction that can range from the uniquely charming to the annoying.

Here's one of the most egregious of the latter.

Creating an entire world.

Don't get me wrong, I applaud those who find the time to create the entire world before they write; it adds elements to the stories that one wouldn't otherwise find. Even when they're not mentioned, you know the author has them worked out in his/her head and can see delicious, tantalizing hints in the prose.

That said, creating an entire world, and then proceeding to write nothing but that world can be frustrating--for fanfiction.

The difference is that Susie Goodauthor has created the world for herself, so that she knows her characters' motivations and can have them react accordingly; they serve as head-canon, guiding her plots and she uses these pieces to create a story. Sam Badauthor has created the world to show everyone else on the Internet what he wants to see; every bit has to be shown in horrific, mind-numbing detail, and the picture becomes a cubist nightmare.

Obviously, published fiction is there to create worlds and let the reader enjoy them as they get to know the characters and how the world works, but with fanfiction, the reader knows the characters and how the world works and just wants to get to the new stories.

I see this most often with extreme AU's (Alternate Universe). While an AU can be fun, it takes talent to successfully keep a character in character while transporting them to the future/past/whatever. Most AU's end up a mess of barely recognizable characters doing things they would never do in a world I don't recognize. If I wanted that, I'd--well, scratch that. I'm never really going to want that.

As I'm searching for fanfic, I should be able to stumble on one that looks interesting and read it without finding myself floundering, wondering what on earth is going on and who these characters are. Though it's perfectly reasonable to have one fic and write a sequel to it, I should have to read the first to get a handle of the plot, not the characters and the world. If you casually mention a plot point that happened in Story A, then I'll happily trundle to your profile to look it up, particularly if your story is interesting, but if you simply have created new characters and an entirely different world that I'm unused to, I'm just going to hit the back button and, in all honesty, avoid your fic like the plague.

Mainly this seems to be someone who has created this world and finds it very exciting, blindly crusading forth in her quest to write forty novellas revolving solely around her premise without ever once deviating into something that most people want to read. The author is almost fanatical in their devotion, proselytizing to everyone who will listen, and some who won't, as they expand endlessly, foraging forward as the lone pioneer in a brave dull world.

It's annoying as fuck.

Like the inverse-quality law of fanfiction (which I'll talk about in a future post), there's another which I'm tentatively naming the Productivity-Quality Law, which states that the worst authors seem to write the most. The person who churns out shlock without any sort of effort somehow manages to be the most prolific poster in a fandom. There are exceptions, but they only serve to prove the rule.

So the next time you have that burning urge to write a fic about Catwoman being a train robber in the Old West--keep it to a short tale. It may be an interesting idea the first time, but after 155 chapters, your readers are getting a little tired of it.
kitsjay: (Low Budget Movie)
I cannot express how much I want a PS3 right now, because Arkham City is coming out in five days and I have absolutely no way to play it.

... Or buy it for that matter, but really, it's a moot point because of the distinct lack of a PS3 mentioned above.
kitsjay: (Book Reading)
Most of these are spoiler-free, but I do rant on a bit in The Big C, so be warned.

Awkward )


Seachange )

Todd and the Book of Pure Evil )

The Big C )
kitsjay: (Cheers)
Happy Birthday, [livejournal.com profile] feldspars!

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