nnozomi: (Default)
In not-news-to-anybody-whatsoever, I have too many books. This is becoming all too clear as I try to put them all into boxes (and I feel like I should apologize to the movers for having to shlep them down 3 flights of stairs; at least the new place has an elevator. I hope the bottoms don't fall out of the boxes and nobody throws their back out.).
The point being that I am moving two weeks from yesterday; my sweetie and I are moving in together. This will be the first time either one of us has lived with anyone ever, not counting birth families and college roommates; I'm forty and he's forty-two and it's anybody's guess how it will go, but I'm hopeful. One of the things we made a point of when apartment-hunting was "we each get a room of our own," so the new place has my room, his room, bedroom and dining-kitchen. Sixth floor of a six-floor building, facing west (there's a reason, in subtropical Osaka, why we made a point of getting AC installed before moving in in the middle of July), halfway between two train stations (a bit under an hour's commute for each of us, in different directions). He's been amazing about getting all the nitty-gritty practical stuff done, and I've probably left more of it up to him than I should have done. (On the other hand, he came back with the lease and I looked at it and said "wait a minute, how are the dates on this 2017/7/1 to 2017/6/30?" He didn't notice, the landlord didn't notice, the real estate guy didn't notice. This is what happens when proofreading is part of your job, I guess; or maybe men just don't notice these things.) The long-term idea is that we try out the living-together thing and, if it seems to go well, go ahead and get married. 
Just in time for all this moving stuff, work has become insane-super-ridiculously-busy, 8 am to 10 pm every day, and even so there's no way in hell it will all get done, especially since some of it relies on outside contractors who are doing their best and their best ain't good enough. I feel sort of guilty and quite a lot unhappy that anyone ever thought this would be possible in the first place and even suggested trying to get it done. The worst part will be over by the 21st and I've flat-out refused to take on Part 2 of more-of-the-same under the same conditions, but even so I want to cry at the thought of the next two weeks.
Work will be even harder to get done given that I won't be able to come in Saturday next week or the week after; the 15th on account of moving as mentioned above (SO SUE ME, is it my fault I made plans BEFORE this nutso job came in?) and the 8th for orchestra retreat. Technically I could skip and/or arrive late at the Saturday part of it, but you know what, this happens twice a year and I look forward to it all year and I'm goddamned if I'm going to screw myself over on account of work I shouldn't have to be doing.
So my fantasies of "get married, get a spouse visa, start freelancing full time" have gotten considerably more specific and yearning, from two separate directions. We'll see how it goes.

nnozomi: (nodamecello)
So I went home to New York for a week (the city is still standing, at least) and bought many many books, as recorded here. A pretty good haul in terms of both quality and quantity.

Peter S. Beagle, Summerlong
Not one of Beagle’s best, but with some lovely moments—Abe comparing playing the harmonica with the band to what he should have felt in Temple on the High Holy Days, Lioness saying Lily’s name, and all of Joanna.

Bill Hayes, Insomniac City
Beautiful and elegiac, resonating with love for New York and managing to describe his last days with Oliver Sacks without sentimentality.

James Brabazon, Dorothy L. Sayers
Well researched, but unexciting and curiously detached. Carolyn Heilbrun says in an essay somewhere that, while she appreciates Brabazon’s qualities of being English and Christian as qualifications for a Sayers biographer, she would have liked to do it herself, and it’s too bad she didn’t; this one could use more of a feminist, no, a woman’s slant.

Helene Tursten, Who Watcheth
The latest Irene Huss. A bit darker in places than I would prefer, but I like seeing Irene’s families—her husband and daughters, and her colleagues on the homicide team—doing all right. A pity there’s no ex-Superintendent Andersson in this one, though.

M.L. Longworth, The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne
Another Antoine Verlaque/Marine Bonnet mystery. Like the others there is some carelessness in both writing and editing—lots of typos of which the publishing house should be ashamed—and the plot isn’t very probable, but it’s fun. We let Verlaque get away with being a bit of a schmuck because the other characters know he is one too.

Ian Rankin, Rather Beat the Devil
It was dumb to buy this in New York, because Rankin is one of the few authors I’m likely to be able to find here in a timely fashion, but what the hell. Very readable, if shocking here and there as usual. Rankin has arrayed such good people around Rebus—Deborah Quant, Siobhan, and the essentially sweet-natured Malcolm Fox—that I worry about what he’s going to do to them all in the next volume.

William B. Helmreich, The Brooklyn Nobody Knows
The author is the guy who made me drool with envy by walking ALL of the streets in New York; this is the first of five projected guidebooks, one for each borough, based thereon. Even more talks with individual people would be fun, but it’s very entertaining.

Joseph R. Lash, Eleanor and Franklin
Not quite as intimate a view of Eleanor Roosevelt as I was hoping for, probably because rather than in spite of Joe Lash having been her close friend. When he was writing there were still a lot of people alive to be hurt, and a lot of papers not yet available, so that Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book goes into more detail about Eleanor’s emotional life (for instance, Lash barely distinguishes Lorena Hickok from the other woman journalists Eleanor worked with).

DW Gibson, The Edge Becomes the Center
Gentrification in New York, oral history of. Not quite as interesting as I was hoping for, but a good resource. Will pass it on to H if he wants it, assuming he still even remembers who I am.

Virginia Nicholson, Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes
Whether it was her original intention or not, Nicholson seems to be writing a social history of women in 20th century Britain, from single women in the 1920s to women in wartime, and now in the 50s. The end of the book suggests that she’s going on to the 60s next, which would be welcome too. She cites David Kynaston’s huge social histories of the same period, and seems to have been considerably influenced by them—although she doesn’t have quite Kynaston’s grace and fluency of writing, the book reads almost like an annex volume, focused exclusively on women—which is a good thing, with more smoothly presented information and less hammering a point home than in her 1920s book.

Ben Aaronovitch, The Hanging Tree
The latest Rivers of London mystery. Very much a series book—if you happened to come to it first it wouldn’t make a lick of sense—but highly satisfying if you have read the earlier books, with wonderful character work and dialogue, also nothing terrible happens to anyone we care about. Not quite enough good architecture for my tastes, and a few too many action scenes—as if the author is thinking ahead to movies or a TV series—but Sahra, and Lady Ty, and Nightingale.

Ellen Emerson White, A Season of Daring Greatly
Like the same author’s The Road Home, the heroine is a tough, smart, gifted young woman in a stressful situation—but fortunately professional baseball is not going to fuck up Jill Cafferty’s life quite to the extent that the Vietnam War did to Rebecca Phillips’. I like Jill and her mother and brother, I like the ensemble cast—and I’m glad she threw a Japanese guy in there—and the baseball talk, which I’m not used to hearing in English. Would enjoy a sequel with Jill as a successful veteran deciding whether to quit and go to college.

E.K. Johnston, Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Another with a heroine reminiscent of the author’s earlier work—Hermione does have a voice fairly similar to Siobhan’s, but since I like them both I’m not complaining. As with the Story of Owen, there are so many other side stories I want to know more about, I wish it wasn’t so short.

Frances Partridge, A Pacifist’s War and Everything to Lose
Diaries from the war and the 50s. Interesting contrast with Naomi Mitchison’s war diaries—they were almost exactly the same age, similar class and upbringing, both essentially leftist, but with completely different approaches to just about everything—Frances far more concerned with individual pleasure (she identifies herself as a hedonist), more monogamous (sorry, Naomi), less prolific with regard to work and children, less driven, without Naomi’s Scottish nationalism… . I’m sorry to say I’m more in Frances’ mold.
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
This popped into my head and I had to put it somewhere. It doesn't quite scan right...


They're changing guard at Vorhartung Palace.
Ivan Xav went down with Alys.
Alys is seeing one of the guard,
"An ImpSec man's life is terrible hard,"
Says Alys.
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
Amended from past years:
Thank you for writing something for me. With the exception of the do-not-like stuff, please take any and all of this as optional suggestions only, and do what works for you. Not all of the stuff I like, for instance, may be applicable to all the fandoms I've requested; choose what makes sense to you.

Details )

Book binge

May. 3rd, 2016 09:57 am
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
I had one of my ritual book-buyings this spring, ordering a couple of dozen at a go through ABEbooks (I’ve lived in Japan too long, and can’t help pronouncing it ah-bay-books). A mixed batch as usual, but with a lot of good stuff in it.

A Game of their Own, Jennifer Ring: women playing professional baseball. Kind of sad, because there just aren’t enough opportunities being made, but interesting stories being told. I’d have enjoyed more focus on the minutiae of the team, particularly the relationships among the women and their families, the way baseball crosses lines of ethnicity and religion and class and sexuality.

Division Street, Studs Terkel: the first (I think) of his monumental oral history series. Also kind of depressing, because things in America were and remain really messed up, although not always in the same ways; that would make a hell of a sociology paper, looking at it as a mirror of the present. Not as fascinating as Working, but that’s a very high bar.

Tourists, Lisa Goldstein: urban fantasy in the literal rather than genre sense. Most of it was not to my taste, because none of the characters seemed at all likeable (either integrally so, or too miserable to be fun to spend time with), but the ending was happier than I’d expected; a bit deus, or rather princess, ex machina, but requiring further consideration. Original.

The Story of Owen and Prairie Fire, E.K. Johnston: a duology set in alternate-universe Canada, VERY MUCH up my alley. Everyday lives and dragon fighting and alternate history and music all going on together. Too short—I would have enjoyed a couple of six-hundred-page tomes which actually picked up all the potential subplots rather than just hinting at them—and not perfect in every way, but very very enjoyable. Maybe for next year’s Yuletide.

West Berlin Journal, Eloise Schindler: notes on life in 1960s Kreuzberg as the wife of a liberal pastor. Not exactly fun, but fascinating, and among other things provoking interesting thought on the differences and similarities of living as a foreigner in Germany and in Japan.

A Gathering of Shadows, V.E. Schwab: the second in a fantasy trilogy. I had read the first and decided I’d like to know what happened next, but ended up not being interested enough to do more than skim. Not character-driven enough for me, and done in too broad strokes, and focusing too much on place without enough of a sense of the real life of the places.

Not Time’s Fool, Erica H. Smith: the fourth in an ongoing series by an Internet acquaintance. Self-published, and overall of higher quality than about 99.44% of the commercially published stuff available. I loved the new focus on Janet (a favorite character of mine), could have done with slightly less time spent on fairy tales but otherwise enjoyed it richly and am now waiting for the next and last.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, Lois McMaster Bujold: the new Vorkosigan book. Has had a mixed reception on the net, with which I mostly agree—I like the idea of the retcon per se, but feel that in both past and present it comes off too smoothly. Bujold at her best is absolutely brilliant at showing people struggling to master difficult but precious relationships (Aral and Cordelia in the original two books, Miles and Ekaterin, Bothari, Mark and his whole family, Duv Galeni…) and that’s what gets skimmed over here, to the detriment of the book’s heft (metaphorical, that is). But I do like the new characters, including Jole himself; I am seriously tempted to nominate a Yuletide cast entirely made up of Cordelia’s staff and Jole’s. And I loved Alex Vorkosigan poring over his grandfather’s drawings.

Games Wizards Play, Diane Duane: the latest in the Young Wizards series. Lighter in some ways than some of the others (deliberately, one assumes) and lots of fun. I loved Harry Callahan casuallly introducing the wizard-king of another planet as “My brother,” both funny and moving, and I liked Nita and Kit working on new ways to be together. I found Penn and Mehrnaz both a little light on nuance, there to help tell somebody else’s story rather than to be their own…

Shadow Web, N.M. Browne: alternate modern history and doppelgangers in London. I’m just not good at “has to pretend to be somebody else” stories, I didn’t like having to spend the whole book worrying about whether Jess would be found out, get home safely, etc., when I would rather have been exploring the alternate reality with a little less immediate panic. (This is one thing Erica Smith’s Waters of Time books, see above, do very well: her time jumpers are prepared for their impersonations within an inch of their lives.)

Letters to a Friend, Winifred Holtby: effervescent, thoughtful, impassioned, hilarious, and ridiculously enjoyable. I’m sometimes reminded of a phrase that was applied to another young woman sometimes called a saint, the “shining personality” of Etty Hillesum.

Among You Taking Notes, Naomi Mitchison: her wartime Mass Observation diary. I am a big Mass Obs fan, but had held off on this one because I wasn’t super interested in life in a Scottish fishing village; however, her 1934 Vienna Diary convinced me it would be worth a try, and it was. It’s full of personalities and opinions and ups and downs, rather less about the progress of the war and more about the day-to-day and its immediate effects on near and far-flung family and friends, which is just right for me. I wish she’d kept a diary her whole life.

A Tangle of Gold, Jaclyn Moriarty: the last in her “Colours of Madeleine” trilogy, and a brilliant conclusion, tying up almost too many loose ends. I think it’s her particular talent to show the ambiguity of her characters, good and bad sides and aspects melding and blending together—Keira and Belle and Ko and Abel and Chime and Jimmy.

A Notable Woman, Jean Lucey Pratt: the collected diaries of the woman who was “Maggie Joy Blunt” in the Mass Obs wartime excerpts. Not quite as enjoyable as I’d hoped, because she spends so much of her writing time unhappy, wanting a lover or a husband, a book published, a good job. Reading her in close proximity to Winifred Holtby and Naomi Mitchison, see above, gives a sense of the differences…not in technical writing ability, but in…breadth of mind, vitality of some kind…?

Military Brats, Mary E. Wertsch: oral history of growing up with parents (usually fathers) in the armed forces. Very interesting as it is, and probably invaluable research for a novel treating any such, but rather depressing in the incredible frequency of emotional and/or physical abuse.

Solitaire, Marian Botsford Fraser: interviews with single women across Canada. Beautifully written and skilful in the interviewing as well to draw out the best; also painstaking in its cross-section, geographical (except maybe the Far North), ethnic, religious, a fairly wide age range, queer and straight women (unlike the author of Singled Out, who doesn’t seem to have been able to decide whether lesbians counted as single women or not), women widowed and divorced, both happily and unhappily, and never married, women with vast sexual experience and virgins, the lot. Painful and definitely worth keeping around.

All Girls, Karen Stabiner: studies of girls at two girls’ schools, an elite California establishment and a NYC school for lower-income girls of promise. Not quite with the immediacy and rueful humor of Brooke Hauser’s New Kids, keeping some distance between the reader and the subjects, but interesting.

Fruits of Victory, Elaine F. Weiss: land girls in America during the First War. Academic rather than anecdotal, well researched and thoughtful, useful for research rather than pleasure reading.

Daughters of the Samurai, Janice P. Nimura: Ume, Sutematsu, Shige and the others in America and Japan. Also a good piece of research and well written, telling me a lot I didn’t know about their American experience in particular, and providing a nicely different slant from Ume’s letters to her foster mother, my main source so far.

Selected Letters of Rebecca West, ed. Bonnie Kimes Scott: bought because I was so fascinated by Black Lamb, Grey Falcon, or is it the other way round? Very readable, but also inspiring one to go to bed every night thinking “Well, things could be worse: at least I’m not Rebecca West.”

One Under, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles: the latest Bill Slider mystery. Well done in terms of the mystery, with her usual competence; one very sad personal event and one happy one.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley: recommended by some people on the net. MUCH more to my taste than I had anticipated, with wonderful small details, music (although I would have liked to see even more of the Mikado), generally well-researched Japanese (the names seemed just a little too modern, Keita and Yuki for instance, but within tolerances; I was also sorry that the lady at the Rokumeikan turned out to be Takeko Inoue and not Sutematsu Oyama), humor and intelligence. Now I want more.
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
Amended from past years:
Thank you for writing something for me. With the exception of the do-not-like stuff, please take any and all of this as optional suggestions only, and do what works for you. Not all of the stuff I like, for instance, may be applicable to all the fandoms I've requested; choose what makes sense to you.

Details )

Anyway, as above, please take from this what you see fit; I’ve made some fairly specific requests/prompts, but as long as you’re kind enough to observe the do-not-like list, I’ll be delighted to read whatever you wanted to write. Many thanks.
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
Thoughts on the 4th symphony and related issues:

1. This is silly almost to the point of blasphemy, but it cracks me up: there's a line of melody in the first movement, woodwinds and later violins, that has been reminding me of something else for a while. "Not classical..." "it has lyrics..." I thought vaguely, and then one day on the train it came to me. "Celia, you're breaking my heart, you're shaking my confidence, baby..." So now I grin to myself every time we rehearse that point, and have now privately christened it the Cecilia Symphony, which is only appropriate homage to the patron saint.

2. Listening to the 2nd symphony on the radio the other day was a strange experience; they're both wonderful, but it's the gap between comedy (in the classical sense) and tragedy. I kept thinking, oh, right, Brahms does have happy endings sometimes, it's not all leading to the stalwart recognition of despair...

3. I'm still waiting to hear a rendition of the flute solo as good as the one I heard at sixteen, although our flutist is not bad. It needs to be completely three-dimensional, not a melody line, a whole melody plane...

4. The third movement, unlike the others, is more satisfying to listen to than to play. Not sure why this is; maybe because the cello line is comparatively simple and accompaniment-esque compared to the others; the violins get most of the excitement. I am dissatisfied with the way our first violins (of whom I'm normally a big fan, what with one thing and another) are handling the sweet second theme; not singing enough.

5. The second movement doesn't give me quite the same sense of the numinous as the second movement of the second symphony does, but it is still utterly amazing in the emotional range it covers, the polyphony, the variety.

I think that'll do for now. Oh dear.
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
Tomorrow I'm probably going to regret not having gone into work on Saturday, but I did have a fairly productive weekend on non-work-related terms.
The apartment is somewhat cleaner, or at least tidier, than it was, I took a load of dry-cleaning and got it back, I made a pot of pseudo-chili that I can eat for dinner tomorrow and the next day, meaning I don't have to deal with shop/cook after work. Yesterday I went into Kyoto and did some food shopping, including a couple of packets of the non-sweet, non-sticky dried apricots that are my preferred work snack (along with roasted almonds, which are easier to get hold of).
What else? Afternoon naps (this is what happens when I lie on the bed to watch baseball), not actually very pleasant--waking up with a headache. Not sure why, maybe my body not enjoying the weather's switch to pre-summer mode. [Oh my goodness, there's a guy playing violin in the NKyo concert on TV with an honest-to-goodness Mohawk. The concertmaster, in fact. What next.]
I got a couple of minor freelance things done; I also stuck my head in at a local band concert in which a colleague was playing sax. They were very respectably competent (a few clarinet tunings that M-from-orchestra would have winced at, but basically decent), but my goodness, the boringness of band music, why would anyone even bother (she said snobbily). Join an orchestra, or a jazz band, why not?
Orchestra rehearsal this morning, strings, Brahms. So much going on and it's all fascinating...I keep telling myself that I have to practice more, not even so that I can play my own part properly (sure, that would be a nice bonus, you know?) but so I'll have the leeway to listen to what other parts are doing. Caught myself making a snide remark to M afterwards about something completely pointless, talk about a vicious circle.
Saturday night I had what I can only describe as a ?date? with the handily named Tanaka. Dinner at a yakitori place (what Seiden-sensei, deliberately, calls "burnt chicken"), to a "jazz session" in a little underground place, with expert amateurs doing "Summertime," "My Favorite Things" (reminding me of Y, who loved that movie, and of my father, who used to say dryly "When the dog bites or the bee stings, you're better off going to the doctor than thinking of your favorite things"), a couple of other tunes I didn't know as well. Then a walk to a nearby park (where someone kissed me once) and a long talk.
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
1. I made two identical pots of chicken soup: one for today, with barley in and therefore no longer soup but barley stew (sort of mess-of-pottagey, actually), and one for tomorrow, to go in the fridge and get its share of barley then. Still not quite as good as my mom's, but nice for a rainy February, I mean March, evening. Also featuring the incredible vanishing leeks: I put in TONS of leeks, or things in the supermarket called 岩津ネギ doing a good leek imitation, and they disappeared entirely in the final product, but probably contributed materially to the sweet/savory vegetably goodness.

2. I've been making the same damn decision (or being even less productive) every Sunday afternoon for about a million years: the next thing to do is set myself a timetable, or it'll never get done.

3. I figured out (though I'm sure it's not the actual historical explanation) why the Tragic Overture is tragic: it sounds all the way through as if things are going to work out and there's going to be a happy ending, and then at the very end it all comes crashing down. The end is that much worse because of all the hopeful major-key stuff earlier.

4. Oh my God, the trombones in the Brahms 4th (big Brahms day today). The whole symphony feels like it's beyond my powers of emotional understanding (like the hapless oboist who says "Natalie, this is bigger than both of us!" in that very good Ursula LeGuin short novel), which doesn't stop it from making me cry.

5. Have I been reading anything worth mentioning? I must have. Nothing comes to mind, except maybe the latest issue of Ookiku Furikabutte, which I'm reading very slowly because it's one of the game ones and they always make me tense. Someone--Mizutani?--says to himself, damn, it feels good doing something you know you can pull off because you've worked so hard at it.

Leave it at that for now.

3 lines

Jan. 24th, 2015 09:05 pm
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
Because I never post and I should, and everybody seems to be doing the "lines from 3 WIPs" meme and I actually have them:

1. Draco was the only person she’d told, back in fifth year, about what he called her big romantic crush (it’s none of those things, she said crossly, and he asked if he should then call it her little sexual fantasy and she hexed him).

2. “Weyrleader” had been synonymous with “T’kul” for so much of her life that it seemed incongruous for the Weyrleader to be a man of more or less her own generation.

3. Ertrex’s head came up so fast that she saw him flinch in pain for a moment. He swore softly in the harsh Vallusian slang she had occasionally heard—never directed at her—from the young guards. For a moment she missed Dalterk and Texek so much that tears came to her eyes.

Other people have, like, consistent fandoms...
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
Amended from past years:
Thank you for writing something for me. With the exception of the do-not-like stuff, please take any and all of this as optional suggestions only, and do what works for you. Not all of the stuff I like, for instance, may be applicable to all the fandoms I've requested; choose what makes sense to you.

Details below )
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
(Excerpted in part from past Yuletides)
Thank you for writing something for me. With the exception of the do-not-like stuff, please take any and all of this as optional suggestions only, and do what works for you. Not all of the stuff I like, for instance, may be applicable to all the fandoms I've requested; choose what makes sense to you.

Do not like: darkfic in general, incest, humiliation, NC-17 for either violence or sex (no moral objections, it's just not what I enjoy reading), blatant out-of-characterness, rape/dubcon.

Enjoy in particular: snappy dialogue, families of choice, playing with language(s), cuddling, work (in all definitions) and people being competent at it, scenes from everyday life.

I tend to prefer genfic, but--depending on the fandom, that is--have no objection at all to background romance/relationships, or even a slow-burn romance fic with a high gen ratio, as it were. Any pairing you want to throw in (m/f, m/m, f/f, threesome, you name it) is fine as long as you can make me believe in it.

By fandom (characters), in no particular order:

Archer's Goon (Erskine, Torquil, Hathaway)
I'm sorry to be so unhelpful, but I honestly have no idea what you could do with these characters; just that anything in which they appear should be fun to read. (Torquil doing music? Erskine's travel book? Oooh. Hathaway beta-reading Erskine's book for him, with snarky side comments from Torquil? OOOH. Maybe I had some ideas after all--but don't feel bound by them if you have ones you like better.) Go to town.

Echo Company (any)
Realistic or not, I'd like to see Rebecca and the others doing well in the future--finding happy lives for themselves, I guess. Maybe epistolary fic, or a meeting at the Wall, or...? What does Maggie Doyle look like through her boyfriend Richard's eyes? How does Walter Hanson put his life back together? (I imagine him ending up as a teacher or a coach or some job with kids, for some reason, but you have no need to stick to that.) What does Michael write to Snoopy, and vice versa--and how do they deal with race now they're back in the World? What would Rebecca's brother Doug make of Michael? And so on.

Marlows (Rowan, Miranda, Peter, Jan, Anquetil, Foley)
These books have been on my "best of" shelf for ever, and it delights me that people are writing such good fic for them. Please take the character list as "any of the above" rather than feeling the need to include all of them. I'd be happy with futurefic (or pastfic in the case of Anquetil and Foley), with a scene from canon seen from a different perspective, with an innovative way for Rowan to escape Trennels, with Peter getting to be competent at something, with Miranda and Jan (also interested in the way canon looks at Miranda's Jewishness and religion in general), with anything else you'd like to write.

Melendy Series (any)
There's an entry a few back in my LJ which describes my feelings about this series in detail; you can refer to it if necessary. Would like to read about any of them, especially Rush (even better if something musical), or something centered on Willy for a change. Futurefic would be fascinating, a missing scene etc. from canon likewise. Caveat: I would very much prefer genfic here, with romance, if any, being kept firmly in the background. Possible exception thereto: if you feel strongly about giving Willy a love life, that might be very interesting to read about, as long as it's not with any of the Melendys.

Again, please take all of this (apart from the do-not-like list) as guidelines rather than iron requirements, and write what you'd like to; I will be very happy with most anything you come up with. Many thanks.
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
I don't know why so many people are anti-Schumann--the symphonies, that is, most people seem to approve of the piano music. As an instrumentalist, okay, I can kind of see it--the man was a pianist, and he doesn't seem to have taken much in the way of advice about writing for other people's instruments. (Is there historical background for this? Must ask musicologist friend, though it's not really her period.) So the lines don't always sit comfortably on the instruments you're supposed to play them on (even so he's NO WORSE THAN Rachmaninoff, spare me).

But the music is so, so awesome. I've played the Third and Fourth symphonies and am waiting hopefully--with my neck stretched out, as we say in Japanese--for a chance to do the First and Second too. The Schumann symphonies are very melodic--not so much in the sense of big hummable melodies, but there's always melodic movement going on and it's always interesting, and the orchestration (while not necessarily considerate of the orchestra, as I mentioned) is fun, with the oboe solos in the First Symphony, the horns rocking the house at the end of the Third, the violin solo in the slow movement of the Fourth (I have a soft spot for that one because my secret-pointless-crush M was concertmaster when we did it), and so on.

It's funny--it doesn't fit with my image of Schumann-the-man at all, but there's something almost...conversational? about the tone of the music. I am a die-hard Brahms-lover, you can't beat Brahms for me with much of anything, but one of the differences for me between Schumann and Brahms is the sense of...the numinous, I guess, in the latter. I cannot listen to the second movement of Brahms Two without believing in some kind of God. Or the slow movement of the First Piano Concerto with the piano chords moving transcendentally over that long, long pedal tone, Jesus Christ, no pun intended. The Schumann symphonies feel much more on an earthly plane. Not a value judgment, just a difference in sensation, if you will.

Although there's always the fourth movement of the (five-movement) Third Symphony, with its dreamy baroque fugality and killer high trombone part. I always think of it as if it were a painting with a caption: "The people grieve as Bach ascends into heaven." But then you snap back into the cheerful allegro of the last movement... I don't know. Down-to-earth, conversational, often happy, but in jewel tones, not primary colors--darker, richer strains underpinning the whole thing, never just light-hearted. Life is more like the Schumann symphonies than like most composers, I think. (God forbid one should have a life like a Rachmaninoff symphony, oy gevalt. A life like the Musical Offering, say, that I could dig.)
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
Amended from last year’s letter:
Thank you for writing something for me. With the exception of the do-not-like stuff, please take any and all of this as optional suggestions only, and do what works for you. Not all of the stuff I like, for instance, may be applicable to all the fandoms I've requested; choose what makes sense to you.

Specifics )
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
Been listening to our last orchestra concert and the one before that (inadvertent 2-CD set, long story). I think honestly we're pretty good, for an amateur group with three hours' rehearsal time a week. There are occasional slips in the winds, but when they're good they're good, and the strings have it better with several of us on each part, and just enough good players scattered through the parts that the weaker sisters, like me, have something to hold on to.
"Like me" is partly true and partly disingenuous, I guess. We don't have a standout cellist, but T and S are very solid, and Y, K, and Little K average out to around as good as me--not spectacular, but hanging in. (We just started the new music last week, and I was shamefully delighted when T, our first chair, said to me "N, come and sit next to me, you're the best sightreader by a country mile" or words to that effect in Japanese. Trouble is, I sightread well but don't move on much from there...) Anyway, so our cello section is not brilliant but solid, and T's good-natured, slightly goofy energy seems to motivate all of us.
The violas are damn good (no viola jokes here), second violins and basses adequate, and the first violins have M...the concertmaster and human tuning fork on whom I have a longstanding hopeless crush...his wife A, cute as a button and also an excellent violinist, and the other K, a pianist at heart but still a good concertmistress. So on their good days they kick ass.
As for the winds, there's N the oboist (another longstanding hopeless crush, I've always had a weakness for oboe players), there was Iz the horn player except he's gotten divorced and moved away (but his solo in the Stravinsky "Kiss of a Fairy," you should've heard), there's his ex-wife playing trumpet, there's K the concertmistress' ex-husband on trombone and his current girlfriend KM on clarinet...sorry, I couldn't resist the soap-opera-yness of it all but it's a fact. And other good players, all in all.
The orchestra is honestly one of my biggest reasons for not wanting to move anywhere else, even though I would have a much better chance of finding the kind of job I want in Tokyo. I mean, you can't throw a stone in Tokyo without hitting an amateur orchestra, but it wouldn't be the same people.

理不尽

Aug. 11th, 2013 07:49 pm
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
I have two young dead men in my head. For various reasons both of them have been on my mind for a while now, making me cry when I think too hard about them—which isn’t a bad thing, because they were worth it. I didn’t meet either of them. One I might have done; I was ten years old when he died, and he was a friend of my father’s for a while, but we never intersected. The other died more than seventy years ago. They were both far too young, only thirty-three—almost the same age at their deaths, down to a couple of months. One succumbed to chronic illness; the other took his own life.

Atsushi Nakajima died in December 1942, of the asthma which had troubled him since his early twenties. Such a goddamn waste; if I had a time machine to go back and bring him modern treatment methods… . He was a writer, although he never made his living at it, and he needed to make his living: his family was well enough off but not rich, and he had a wife and two young sons. Takeshi was nine when his father died; Noboru was only two or three. Atsushi taught Japanese and English at a girls’ high school for several years, and seemed to enjoy it, popular with his students and fellow teachers and happy with his family, plus an avid gardener in his spare time.
His stories are spare and abstruse and difficult, drawing heavily on (Chinese) history and literary myth, and it can be surprising to find out that, while unenthusiastic about spending time with people who didn’t meet his standards, with friends he was a life-of-the-party type, interested in everything, active, merry. His story “Sangetsuki” appears regularly in high school Japanese textbooks, which I think is a terrible shame. It’s a story written in old-fashioned Japanese and set in old China, about a poet who turns into a tiger, and it’s wonderful, but not for teenagers: it’s for people who have learned, or are learning, about the way life turns and twists in your hands to betray everything you once expected, for good or ill.
They should have the high school kids read some of his letters to his wife from Micronesia. He was already in his early thirties when worsening asthma made his teaching job difficult; hoping for an improvement, he took a job editing Japanese textbooks for children in the Micronesian islands which were then Japanese colonies, Palau, the Chuuk Islands, Saipan and so forth. He spent a year or so traveling around the islands observing schools (both the “public schools” for “native” children and the “national schools” for Japanese children), finding that the tropical climate was not as good for his health as he had hoped, and writing quantities of letters to his wife and postcards to his sons. The letters are much easier to read than anything else he wrote, because his wife Taka probably had only about a sixth-grade education; she was a girl from the provinces whom he gave in and married after getting her pregnant (or so at least one source would have it), and in some ways it’s amazing that the marriage worked at all. Perhaps if he had lived longer it wouldn’t have, but at that date it’s very clear how much they cared about each other. And he was absolutely nuts over his sons, there’s no other way to put it, an absorbed, loving, thoughtful father.
The letters from the South Pacific make me cry every time; they’re vivid descriptions of what he sees and who he meets there, but they’re also spilling over with homesickness and longing for Taka and the boys, I miss you, I want to come home between every line, and when I think that he lived less than a year after returning to Japan, it’s unbearable. God, I would have loved to know him—not as “the great writer Nakajima Atsushi” but as a colleague in the school staffroom, or one of the guys a few years ahead of me in grad school. Why are there no time machines, or why do those whom the gods love die young.

I’ve written about Ohira-san—another Taka, although only a nickname—here before. If the gods ever loved someone it was him, surely: born in a well-to-do Osaka family, a violin prodigy from his early teens and a student at one of the most prestigious schools in town, winning or placing in two national violin competitions in junior high and high school, going to Tokyo University—the ultimate academic success—and serving as concertmaster of the orchestra there, eventually becoming an associate professor at the same university while still in his early thirties. And then killing himself at the age of thirty-three, leaving his wife of six months to find his body in the morning.
I’m not sure exactly why Taka died, because it’s a thing you can’t ask without more of a need-to-know than I’ve got. The most I can infer, from people who knew him, is that the intensely competitive pressure of high-level hard science research—in Japan in the late eighties—came to be too much for him, especially in an environment where his superiors gave him the fisheye for carrying a violin case to work with him. Maybe he regretted not having become a professional musician, but felt that it was too late to go that route. Maybe there were other things happening. I don’t know. He might have been clinically depressed. His wife, twenty-five when they married, was getting her master’s degree in piano performance at the time of his death; she took her exams, got her degree (in spite of collapsing into tears during one performance, and who in God’s name can blame her), and then, only a year later, entered a nationally well-regarded medical school to study psychiatry. Given the stiff entrance exams for any medical school (Japanese medical school is a six-year combined undergraduate/graduate degree), this would be a remarkable feat even without the tragic background. She gave up playing the piano professionally, and is now the head of psychiatry at a major eastern hospital.
Everyone I’ve been able to get in touch with—friends at the American university where he did postdoc research and played music with my father, friends in Japan, colleagues—seems to have fond and admiring memories of Taka. Where is that damn time machine? To go back and say, Taka, you have so many paths to take, you’re so gifted and so loved, there are other ways out, don’t do this, don’t take yourself away from us, from yourself.
I had one recording of Taka’s violin—playing the Tchaikovsky concerto with a student orchestra, under my father’s baton. The recording quality is lousy, but you can still hear how his sound shimmers. An unexpected benefit of asking around about him was that people gave me other recordings of his playing—Brahms, Schubert, Prokofiev, Dvorak, Bach—and they’re all wonderful. Not perfect, because nobody is, but brilliant, and with his passion for the music, sheer love of what he’s doing, shining in every note. And yeah, they make me cry. Oh Taka. 
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
In the second category: やっぱりoh, Taka. Lately when M does his thing at rehearsal of noodling madly away to himself during breaks, fancy double stops and bits of concerti and A's father's Hungarian stuff and God knows what, it makes me want to cry, because Taka should be in Tokyo somewhere (or in Ithaca, or anywhere on this side of the void) doing just the same thing. Only even more so, I guess, because as good a violinist as M is Taka was something else. Damn it to hell.

On the more immediately personal side: I still don't exactly see the point of kissing, but cuddling is some good stuff. It was also amusing to be able to predict with almost pinpoint accuracy, okay, from here on I'm going to get kissed.
nnozomi: (nodamecello)
Okay, it's about time. Where I am now:
Too much damn time at work, but otherwise it could be (knock wood) much worse.
Listening to Taka Ohira's violin, some of it recorded before I was born and some as late as 1987, the year he died. All I can manage is oh, Taka. How do you tell that story so it makes sense?
Actually dating someone for the first time in I don't even know how many years. Not a musician, but otherwise someone I like holding hands with. Who knew?
Trying to finish this damn Vorkosigan story that I've been working on for ages, even though it's not one a lot of people will read. Want it FINISHED still.
Went to a big used books fair today with K, the above person-with-whom-I-sometimes-hold-hands, and bought a lot more than I should have done, including some dance books for my mom--Toni Bentley's journal, because I like the way Balanchine's dancers write about their lives--and a Taisho-era guide to sex for young girls, because I was fantastically curious.
Trying to remember regularly that for all the things I bitch about in my life, I am so so fortunate right now, in almost every way I could be. 
nnozomi: (Default)
Thank you for writing something for me. I'm sorry this is so late. With the exception of the do-not-like stuff, please take any and all of this as optional suggestions only, and do what works for you. Not all of the stuff I like, for instance, may be applicable to all the fandoms I've requested; choose what makes sense to you.

Do not like: darkfic in general, incest, humiliation, NC-17 for either violence or sex (no moral objections, it's just not what I enjoy reading), blatant out-of-characterness, rape/dubcon, Christmas themes (again, not opposed to their existence in general, just not Christian myself). 

Enjoy in particular: snappy dialogue, families of choice, playing with language, cuddling, people being competent at their work/what they do, scenes from everyday life.

By fandom (characters):
The Steerswoman Series (Steffie): Maybe Steffie in Alemeth after Rowan and Bel have left, learning what he might need to know to be a steersman and working at balancing that with the very different way the town knows him? Or, while futurefic is hard for this series, Steffie back with Rowan and Bel or taking his own part in their quest, as long as it's consistent with the themes and atmospheres of the books so far. 

Young Wizards (Nita, Kit, Carmela): I've had Nita and Kit in the back of my head since I was nine or ten; I like them as friends and wizardry partners, as a couple, at the overlaps. The two of them on a very ordinary errantry, maybe, and/or (if it's all right to mention characters not requested--if it isn't, ignore this) Nita and S'reee having girl talk, or something about Kit's family--we know they speak Spanish at home, but I've always thought it would be fun to see their ethnicity developed more. In New York, in high school, in the future if you like. 

Fire and Hemlock (Ann Abraham, Ed Davies): I'm an amateur musician myself and would like to see Ann and Ed (and Sam? I'm not sure how he didn't end up in there) interacting through music--in their orchestra days when they met Tom, as conservatory students, with the quartet, whatever. Specifically magical events or only mundane ones, either way, but maybe a sense of the complicated interactions between people who work together intimately and may or may not be intimate in their private lives? Or maybe something about the families they come from? Ann might be Jewish, Ed's name sounds Welsh, Sam's family might have been Polish refugees...or not.

Anyway, as above, please take from this what you see fit; this is my first Yuletide and the idea of somebody writing anything for me is enough to make me happy. Many thanks.
nnozomi: (Default)
The thing is, this is why (one of the reasons) I like my job. On my own time, I would never, ever seek out information about autophagy, or chemicals management regulations, or the fifty-year history of an industry fair. (I might about Josiah Conder, but that was an exception.) If I'm translating or editing lengthy reports on these subjects, though, I have to read through them in detail, and there's a weird pleasure in it, a kind of pure knowledge satisfaction which my more interest-focused private life doesn't always offer. The really technical ones are also soft of satisfying because, with the help of an online terms dictionary, I produce English texts that I couldn't possibly understand if I'd just run across them on the web or in a bookstore, but I'm pretty sure they make sense. 
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