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([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 24th, 2017 12:47 pm)
Just arrived in Riga, Latvia. Thought, hey, this hotel is teh cute!

Anya is like, "This hotel is familiar."

I realize that this is of interest to probably no one else reading this (sadly it would be if I were cross posting to LJ, where there is a teeny community for such things), but I'm staying in the hotel where they shot Seventeen Moments of Spring (as well as parts of the Soviet Sherlock Holmes.) And if you think I'm not geeking out like mad over this, you don't know me at all.

Fortunately, Anya is the person who introduced me to the series so she is also geeking out and is equally pleased that Stirlitz is watching over the beds in our room, judging whether or not we have adequately sacrificed and fought for the cause of anti-fascism:


Here's the view out the window:



(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here is my screenshot recap of Seventeen Moments after I watched it and decided that everyone needed to see it. Minus the image hosting, unfortunately; I'll need to fix that at some point.)
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([personal profile] dagibbs Jul. 23rd, 2017 11:35 pm)
I headed down to the ACC Montreal section's hut near Keene, NY for a long weekend of climbing on Thursday evening with Jenna (my climbing partner), Felix, and Ellie. My primary goal was to do two ascents (by different routes) of Chapel Pond slab as practice Jenna and I to get more experience together on multi-pitch climbing before our attempt on The Chief in Squamish in about a month. We did succeed with this on Friday, though it was a warm day. Saturday we had an excellent day of cragging at the Beer Walls, where I red-pointed several routes including the brilliant Sword, which was most everybody's favourite pitch of the trip. I also managed to find a couple of quite nice cams that someone had left behind in the rock. Sunday we woke up to rain, so had a mellow day, with a bit of shopping in Keene, where I ended up buying a few more climbing guidebooks. The drive home went smoothly, and was quite relaxed as we ended up home around 4:30pm.

All in all, it was a good weekend.
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([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:07 pm)
So the performance sucked so hard we walked out. Like, possibly the worst thing either of us have ever seen, which is saying an awful lot. The tickets were suspiciously cheap, but tbh most things in the Ukraine are suspiciously cheap. But in this case I think it was because they knew it was terrible. We'd actually gone in to see if we could get a tour or just wander around the opera house, but the lady said that there was a show that night, so we decided to give it a shot.

She described the show as a sequel to The Nutcracker but also a crossover with War and Peace, and a musical. A "wonderful spectacle," in fact. I have to admit that we were basically morbidly curious, and it would get us inside those gorgeously ornate doors.

Anyway, we made it two songs in. The thing was in Ukrainian so we don't know what it was about but I don't think it would have made a lot of sense even if we did understand the language. It was kind of embarrassing to listen to.

But! It meant that we got to sneak out and take unobstructed photos of the glory that is the Odessa Opera House, and that was worth the ticket price alone. I hope you appreciate how hard it was to narrow these down. They don't half capture the actual, real spectacle that is this building, but I've given it my best.

pretty! )
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([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 23rd, 2017 01:17 pm)
We went to the Odessa Opera House, one of the most famous and beautiful opera houses in the world.

behold! )
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([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 21st, 2017 11:09 pm)
I feel like this needs to be a separate post from the OMG ODESSA IS SO PRETTY post. For one thing, these were taken on my shitty cell camera and not my iPad. But also they're pictures I've taken when I've seen something hella weird and immediately need to inform social media.

Let's just say there are some, uh, cultural differences between Ukraine and everywhere else I've ever been that take a bit of getting used to. FOR EXAMPLE:


What is this, some kinky sex thing? Maybe in that masochist bar that we didn't get into because your kink is okay but not my kink?


No! It is the café in the Lviv airport. Why do they have chairs like this? No one knows. But to answer a few questions:

1) Yes, we sat in them.
2) Yes, they are actually quite comfortable.
3) No, no one else seemed to think they were out of the ordinary in any way.

To answer a question no one asked:

1) Yes, the Americanos in that café are quite good, especially by airport standards, would totally recommend. Though, granted, it was like 5 am and I would have drank lighter fluid if it would have woken me up.



Our hotel in Lviv, while cute, had no elevator--a problem, since our room was on the 5th floor. (I may be an obsessive step-counter who never goes on an escalator when there's the option of a staircase, but at the end of the day when you've been walking/carrying bags? Less fun.) We were relieved to see that this hotel does have one. In fact, it has all of the regular floors you would expect to see in a building, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, and crab.

1) Yes, I know what's on the crab floor.
2) No, you'll have to wait and see until tomorrow if it's any good.
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sabotabby: (magicians)
([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 21st, 2017 10:33 pm)
Sorry-not-sorry, but you will be getting a load of pictures of Odessa because it is fucking magical. My intention at the moment is to retire, sell my house, buy one of the dilapidated old buildings and restore it to its former glory, learn Russian (it's another city where most people speak Russian, not Ukrainian, much to our joy), and wander around the glorious streets at night in a fashionable dress, drinking an open bottle of champagne.

Life goals, amirite?

In all seriousness, though, not for nothing is Odessa called Paris on the Black Sea. It has all the architectural splendour and literary tradition you could hope for, it is cosmopolitan and fashionable, and it is lit. I have never been to Paris, granted, but from what I understand Odessa is much cheaper and not as crowded. In Kiev and Lviv, people are pretty much the same as anywhere else, except with a penchant for wearing poorly translated English t-shirts bearing inspirational but nonsensical slogans, expressions of general hatred towards anyone viewing the shirt, or just vague weirdness (my favourite so far was a picture of a cat made out of ramen noodles sitting in a bowl with the caption "Pet Food").

Here, though, everyone looks like a model. The women are all tall and thin and wear flowing striped dresses, and the children prance around in tutus at all hours of the night. The streets are alive with music and performers and what I'm pretty sure is a unicorn (i.e., incentive to look at the pictures under the cut).

plz appreciate how much I had to narrow these down )
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 21st, 2017 01:58 pm)
We're in Odessa, about a 10 min walk from the !!!!!!!! Potemkin Steps.

Expect incoming photos for every day I'm here.

Srsly, I didn't even like Battleship Potemkin but I don't think a movie needs to be enjoyable to be arguably the most important movie ever made, with which we would not have our current cinematic vocabulary. I mean. I teach film. So naturally the first thing I had to do (well, after we had lunch and coffee because we were up at 4 am to catch the flight from Lviv) was brave the 30°C weather to bring you the following:





Don't mind me, I'll be over here geeking out hard/memorizing the angles in the scene so that I can do horrible imitations of them amongst all the tourists.
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([personal profile] fairestcat Jul. 21st, 2017 12:36 am)
For those who don't know, we live in an up/down duplex. Marna, Ian and I live upstairs and Lorayne has the downstairs, with two spare rooms for any guests of upstairs or downstairs.

Lorayne also has two window AC units. One of which is in her big spare bedroom. We do not have any AC upstairs, just a lot of fans.

It's been hot and humid as fuck in Ottawa for the last week. It's finally starting to cool down, but the heat is really lingering upstairs. Last night I couldn't fall asleep because of it.

So, I said fuck it and am sleeping downstairs tonight.

Dreadful followed me downstairs and was staring forlornly out the screen door, so we invited him in. So, Dreadful's sleeping downstairs too tonight.

Rayne's cats, Kina and Chakra, are less than impressed.

They've met Dreadful before, and even lived with him for a week when we stripped the wainscotting in the kitchen several years ago, so we're not worried it'll come to blows overnight or anything. They'll cope. And I think Dreadful is enjoying the change of scenery.

Also, the lack of dog.

Oh yeah, we got a dog. We've had him for about a month. Our intent was to foster him, but Marna fell in love, so now he's ours.

His name is Bogart, we think he's some sort of pointer cross, but he was rescued from the Everglades, so we can't be sure. He's about 18 months old and weighs about 40 pounds. He's a sweetheart, but he has some behavioral issues we're working on.

And Dreadful has NOT reconciled himself to this new family member yet. He's never lived with a dog before, and he's not sure he wants to now. They're cohabiting relatively peacefully, but Dreadful is still keeping his distance.

ETA: and then Kina and Dreadful got in a fight in the hallway. So much for not coming to blows. So, now they're locked on opposite sides of the dog gate for the night.

*sigh*
As promised, some books I've read:

Point of Hopes (Astreiant, #1) - Melissa Scott & Lisa A. Barnett -
★★★★

Complicated mystery plot in a fascinating, intricately-crafted fantasy universe.

I really appreciated the casually mainstreamed queerness in the worldbuilding. read more )

The Ruin of a Rake - Cat Sebastian - ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This book has everything I loved about Sebastian's previous books. Complicated, flawed and messily human characters, a clear-eyed and intelligent class analysis and a refreshingly unapologetic queerness. read more )

Point of Knives (Astreiant #1.5) - Melissa Scott - ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

A satisfying mystery with an even-more-satisfying beginning of a romance between the main characters as they transition from people who sleep with each other occasionally to people who'd like to have a romantic relationship with each other. read more )

Peter Darling - Austin Chant ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

An amazing queer, trans reimagining of the Peter Pan story. read more )

The Horse Mistress: Book 1 - R.A Steffan - ★ ★ ★

Enjoyable poly fantasy with a genderqueer protagonist. read more )

A Boy Called Cin - Cecil Wilde - ★ ★ ★ ★

I'd describe this book as an aspirational romance. It's a delightful, cozy fairytale of an idealized relationship. And that's not a bad thing. I think there's value particularly in queer aspirational romances. read more )

There Will Be Phlogiston (Prosperity, #5) - Alexis Hall ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I picked this up because it was free and I'd heard good things about the author, but honestly I was mostly expecting a smutty, poly diversion.

What I got was so much more. read more )

Chasing Cameron: the complete series - Hanna Dare - ★ ★ ★ ★

A series of m/m novellas with a lot of sex, not all of it between, or only between, the two protagonists.

I was really pleasingly surprised by how non-mononormative this series is. read more )
One of the benefits of the new mood-stabilizer is that I'm reading again. After reading my way through a shit-ton of fanfic, I'm now switching between fanfic and pro novels.

I'm mostly only interested in reading queer stories at the moment, which has meant a lot of queer romances and also SF/F with queer characters and relationships.

I started with everything ever written by KJ Charles and OMG was that a good choice. Her stuff is AMAZING. Highly, highly recommended. She writes m/m historical romances, some straight historicals, some fantasy. One of the things I love historical queer romances because I love reading about queer people in history being happy, and Charles' books totally fill that desire.

A lot of queer historicals, or at least a lot of the ones I've read, are really interested in class and the intersection of class and sexuality and how that impacts relationships. Class differences are at the heart of almost all of Charles' books and it makes for a great lens through which to look at the various historical periods she writes in. The other thing that makes me happy about her books is that very few of her protagonists are uncomfortable with or tortured about their sexuality, which is again really refreshing to read about.

Then I moved on to Cat Sebastian's regency romances which I also highly recommend. Again with the queers being happy and not angsting about their sexualities and again with the class and anxiety about class differences being a significant factor in all the relationships.

I also highly recommend Joanna Chambers' Enlightenment series, in which one of the characters is quite guilty about his sexuality, which is possibly more realistic, but doesn't appeal to my id in quite the same way.

It was at about this point in my dive into books again that I got myself a Goodreads account, which is here, and started actually reviewing stuff as I read it.

Several people I read here regularly post reviews of the books they've read on their journals, and I think I'm going to start being one of them, I'm not going to commit to any specific schedule, but expect semi-regular book posts (the first going up directly after I finish writing this post).

The other thing I'm loving about Goodreads is having a place a list of books I've been recced that look interesting. I'm almost entirely reading digitally these days, mostly on Kobo. So, when I want to read something new I can go to my Goodreads to-read shelf and see what strikes my fancy. There are a lot of books with poly relationships in there right now, because I specifically solicited recs for queer, poly stories on twitter.

If you're curious my to-read shelf is here, and I'm always taking recs. Nothing too serious or dense right now, I'm still easing my way back into this reading gig.
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([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 19th, 2017 05:23 pm)
Today we were incredibly productive. We hiked up to High Castle, which technically is neither a castle nor very high, but I am still proud of us, dammit. It's quite a view. Some of the original castle remains, but it's not particularly impressive compared to the sight of all of Lviv.

there are cats and other things )
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([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 18th, 2017 07:13 pm)
This is a gorgeous city, maybe even more than Kiev. It's also very much a City Of Coffee, and I highly approve. There's a café where, if you go into the basement, you can "mine" for coffee in the walls, but besides that, when we asked the hotel guy where to get good coffee, he looked at us weirdly and said, "it's ALL good coffee." A random selection would suggest he's right.

We did a walking tour, saw various churches, the Catholic Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, all of which seem very close together by contemporary standards. Lviv has changed hands over its history, and the references to Galicia made me do a Google and feel like an idiot because Lviv was in the heart of what had been Galicia, and that's where my grandfather was from.

Anyway, here is the new friend we made:



more pictures )
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([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 18th, 2017 09:03 am)
We took the overnight train and got in at 6 am. Our hotel booking isn't until 2 pm, so we've just been wandering around and taking pictures of all the pretty architecture.

click to embiggen )
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([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 17th, 2017 07:02 pm)
Our last day in Kiev until the end of our trip. Here's a few quick glimpses of things we've seen, as we walked and walked. This is going to be a bunch of tiny pictures 'cause I'm writing from a café before we get on a night train for Lviv.

click for larger versions )
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([personal profile] dagibbs Jul. 16th, 2017 11:22 pm)
I think this was the first weekend this year that truly felt like summer -- hot and humid. It's felt, so far, like we've mostly had an extended rainy spring.

I climbed at Lac Sam on Saturday with a small crew, then had dinner with the family back in Ottawa -- my sister, brother-in-law and nieces (2) were in town for a 2 weeks (except BIL, only a week) and headed out this morning, so met up with them for the last dinner before they left.

Today we climbed at Mont Rigaud as it was the only area without a 70-80% POP starting in the afternoon. We did get a full day of good, but hot, climbing there.
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([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 16th, 2017 04:37 pm)
Viktor Yanyukovitch was president of the Ukraine from 2010-2014, until he was fairly dramatically deposed and fled to Russia as he is currently wanted for treason here. By all accounts, he was incredibly corrupt, and acquired the massive Mezhyhirya estate with public funds. As wealth and corruption is no guarantee of taste, when asked which architectural style he wanted to build his massive palaces in, he must have replied, "fuckin' all of them," because when protestors walked in and took over the place in 2014, they were appalled not just at the excesses (which included a car museum, a zoo, a golf course, several tennis courts, and orchards), but at his alarming taste in decor.

It now belongs to the people and is a destination for Ukrainians to have weddings, bike around, and generally point and laugh. Also there are gigantic thrones and Greco-Roman ruins for no apparent reason.

pictures! )
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([personal profile] sabotabby Jul. 16th, 2017 06:49 am)
I admittedly did little but eating and sleeping, as everyone is exhausted. We're staying right behind Maidan Nezalezhnosti, though, and even the laziest traveller could not fail to be moved by its beauty.



Post-2014 demonstrations, it is plastered with photos and memorials to the dead. No one goes out in Kiev this time of year except at night, when the fountains explode like fireworks and street musicians busk and young couples laugh and dance in the streets.











We grabbed dinner at an adorable café that, shock of all shocks, had food I could eat: mushroom kasha and vareniki stuffed with sour cherry, and sour cherry infused vodka.







Then exhaustion got the better of us and I probably slept more than I have in months. Awake bright and early now to do proper exploring.

P.S. Sorry for the size and quality of the images; DW's image hosting + being on my iPad makes for an unfortunate combination.







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([personal profile] dagibbs Jul. 14th, 2017 09:14 pm)
Ah, Ottawa. Welcomed home by a thunderstorm and drenched between the airport and my car.
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([personal profile] sasha_feather Jul. 12th, 2017 08:24 pm)
The Keepers - Netflix documentary, 7 episodes. 2017.

This was rough, but riveting and thought provoking. A detailed investigation into the murder of a nun in 1969, this series focuses largely on women who were her students in high school (so they are in their 60s now). There is a lot of discussion of sex abuse in the Catholic church, some discussion of possible police corruption (or at least egregious incompetence), and a strong sense of the social consequences of violence. Recommended if you like true crime stories and can handle the discussions of abuse.

Masterminds - on Netflix. 2016. comedy.

This is good if you are in the mood for a silly comedy with some gross-out humor, and which is not mean, and not violent. Zach Galifinakis plays Dave, an armored car driver who gets manipulated into doing a robbery and stealing 17 million dollars. Also stars Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. Content note: guns go off, but no one is shot.
.

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