rionaleonhart: final fantasy x-2: the sun is rising, yuna looks to the future. (hope is all we have)
I don't want to think about politics right now (I may never forgive my country, but at least my city's all right, I suppose), so instead I'm going to talk about THE BOOKENING, in which I desperately try to read a load of recent genre fiction on the slim chance I get a relevant job interview. There are worse tasks.


THE BOOKENING TITLE #1: This Savage Song, VE Schwab. A world in which violence creates monsters! Crime spawns terrible creatures that will slash you up or drink your blood or eat your soul! And then one of the monsters disguises himself as a human so he can attend school. There's more going on than that, obviously, but I really enjoy how silly the plot sounds when you cut it down.

The first few chapters focus on slowly bringing you into the world, which is interesting, but it really picks up when the monster actually starts school. I hugely enjoyed watching August try to fit in; characters being thrown suddenly into a completely new world is always fun. Colin seemed a potentially fun character, so I'm sad he was barely in this at all. Leo is terrifying. I enjoyed Kate's fury at her own vulnerability, and it was interesting to see August's desire to be a better person collide with her desire to be a worse person.


THE BOOKENING TITLE #2: Divergent, Veronica Roth. I find this a slightly less believable young adult dystopia than the world of The Hunger Games, largely because I'm convinced the Dauntless faction would have died out within a few generations. Why would anyone ever willingly join the faction that demands that you constantly risk your life for no reason? Go and join the faction that picks apples and is nice to people, for goodness' sake. And the Dauntless faction is in the habit of whittling down its recruits and allowing ONLY THE BEST to join, which further reduces its numbers, and then, as mentioned, it makes its members pointlessly risk their lives. This is not the way to maintain a healthy membership, Dauntless.

Divergent's Tris felt at points like a copy of Katniss from The Hunger Games to me, and I find it interesting that Kate from This Savage Song didn't, given that all three of them fall into a distinct 'unpersonable female YA protagonist' character type. I suppose Kate's vulnerabilities run closer to the surface, and she's also more actively cruel because she's trying to hide her caring side. Katniss isn't trying to hide that she cares; she's genuinely not very good at caring, although she's not incapable of it, and I get a similar impression from Tris. Deliberate callous action versus unconscious callous inaction.

This was an interesting diversion, but I don't think I'll be picking up the other books in the series. Diversiont.


THE BOOKENING TITLE #3: Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth, Christopher Golden. This was fun! I used to read the official tie-in novels for Doctor Who, and they varied wildly in quality. I was a bit apprehensive about this, but it's clearly been written with a real fondness for the Uncharted games and characters. Nate and Sully sound like themselves! There's vicarious sightseeing! There were even sections where I could see how they would translate to a puzzle sequence in one of the games. Fortunately, there were no sections that would translate to a twenty-minute shootout with four waves of enemies.

I enjoyed getting confirmation that Nate unthinkingly flirts with people out of habit.

My biggest complaint: no Elena. I can understand why Elena wasn't there, given that, you know, the book is set before Nate and Elena meet, but I still missed her. I liked Jada (it would have been nice to see some sort of reference to her in Uncharted 4), but the absence of Elena was heavy on my heart. This was also my problem with Golden Abyss. Stupid Nate, having a life and doing things before he met the best character in the series.


A Song of Ice and Fire is not part of THE BOOKENING (it's actually a large part of the reason I need THE BOOKENING; I've spent most of my leisure reading time recently on this vast series, so I need to catch up on other things), but I've now finished part one of A Storm of Swords, and Jaime and Brienne going through adversity together and slowly learning not to loathe each other is my new favourite thing. Enemies working together almost invariably delights me in fiction, particularly if it results in some sort of grudging fondness or respect. (My other major complaint about The Fourth Labyrinth: it had a touch of this, but not nearly enough!)


Further entries on THE BOOKENING are probably to come! I've just started The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, and I'm already enjoying it a lot.


Historical fact of the day: the Duke of Wellington had an enormous nude statue of Napoleon in his house. I'm so happy to know this.
rionaleonhart: kingdom hearts: sora, riku and kairi having a friendly chat. (and they returned home)
On Saturday I went to the British Museum with [personal profile] wolfy_writing! We'd known each other for almost a decade online, so it was strange and delightful to meet in person at last and realise she wasn't actually a 100x100-pixel LJ icon.

[personal profile] wolfy_writing has swum with sharks and sat on an elephant and stroked a cheetah and been startled by a Komodo dragon and ridden a lion (one of these things may not, strictly speaking, be true). She is fascinating company, and also understandably unimpressed by the UK's lack of deadly animals for her to hang out with. Still, we do have the seagulls of Brighton.

My favourite exhibit in the British Museum is an enormous detached arm from an ancient Egyptian pharaoh statue, its hand in a fist (someone's posted a photo on Flickr here). It is my favourite because you can watch all the visitors internally struggling with the urge to give it a fistbump. Some linger for a moment and then tear themselves away and move on. Some almost give it a fistbump, leaving a little space between their fist and the stone to avoid breaking the 'no touching' rule. Some quickly give it a fistbump and then turn away and try to look innocent. At one point two guys walked past, looked at it, and then gave each other a fistbump to dispel the tension.

I'm also fond of the Tring tiles, a set of cartoonish fourteenth-century English tiles that depict the young Jesus killing his classmates in various situations and then bringing them back to life. One tile has the description 'Parents shut their children in an oven to prevent them from playing with Jesus'.


Important conversations whilst hanging out the washing:

Rei: I haven't washed all of my socks. Why not, you ask?
Riona: Er, because some of your socks are clean? Because two of your socks are on your feet?
Rei: Both of those things are true. Excellently deduced.
Riona: Thanks.
Rei: Thank you, Shersock Holmes.
Riona: REI, GO AWAY.
rionaleonhart: the mentalist: lisbon, afraid but brave, makes an important call. (it's been an honour)
(This entry contains historical details that could also be considered Hamilton spoilers. Although the main one is in fact given away in the first song.)


It's probably for the best that I don't feel confident enough either on the characters' voices or on the surrounding history to write Hamilton fanfiction, because I'd end up writing Hamilton/Burr and it would be terrible. Burr is too reserved and cautious to enter into a relationship with Hamilton! Hamilton gets increasingly frustrated! What do you stall for, Burr? If you don't want this, you don't want this; that's fine. But make a decision, one way or the other!

(It's odd to describe Burr as 'cautious' now that I know the real-life Burr tried to light a candle with a gun.)

Reading the letters between the historical Hamilton and Burr that led up to their duel is so frustrating. (The letters in question, if you're curious: 1, 2, 3, 4, and a 'screw you, we're duelling' letter that wasn't actually delivered but, given that the duel occurred, probably still accurately represents Burr's feelings.) Swallow your pride, guys! Hamilton, don't respond to 'SOMEONE TOLD ME YOU EXPRESSED A DESPICABLE OPINION ABOUT ME; IS THIS TRUE' with 'lol, you're going to have to specify whether you mean one of the slightly despicable opinions or one of the really despicable opinions'. Burr, don't respond to obnoxious evasion with 'WELL, LOOKS LIKE WE'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO SHOOT EACH OTHER IN THE FACE'. In many ways, I'm not great at being an adult, but at least I know there are better ways of resolving a disagreement than shooting at it. (And indeed better ways of lighting a candle.)

(Another discovery in investigating the history around the Hamilton musical: Burr took to referring to Hamilton as 'my friend Hamilton, whom I shot'.)


The problem with falling into canons based on actual historical figures: I end up sobbing over events that happened centuries ago. 'Dear Theodosia' is absolutely unbearable now that I know both Hamilton and Burr outlived their children. The story of Theodosia in particular makes me cry, because she didn't just die; she disappeared. Her father never knew what had happened to her; he never had any real closure. For all of Burr's faults, nobody deserves that.

(And she was his only child! And he so clearly adored her! He wrote his ridiculous diaries of shooting candles and shagging his way across Europe specifically so he could give them to her!

I can't believe I'm crying about something that happened in 1813.)
rionaleonhart: harry potter: extremely poorly-drawn dumbledore fleeing and yelling NOOOOOOOOO. (NOOOOOOOOO)
It's time for another Hamilton-themed history lesson!

Through a comment from [personal profile] magistrate, I came across this post that quotes an actual entry from the actual historical Aaron Burr's actual diary. It's magnificent. Here it is:


I did go to bed at 10, promising myself a rich sleep. Lay two hours vigil; that cursed one single dish of tea! ... Got up and attempted to light candle, but in vain; had flint and matches but only some shreds of punk which would not catch. Recollected a gun which I had had on my late journey; filled the pan with powder and was just going to flash it when it occurred that though I had not loaded it someone else might; tried and found in it a very heavy charge! What a fine alarm it would have made if I had fired! Then poured out some powder on a piece of paper, put the shreds of punk with it and after fifty essays succeeded in firing the powder; but it being dark, had put more powder than intended; my shirt caught fire, the papers on my table caught fire, burnt my fingers to a blister (the left hand, fortunately); it seemed like a general conflagration. Succeeded, however, in lighting my candle and passed the night till 5 this morning in smoking, reading, and writing this.


Why have I never been particularly interested in history? History is hilarious. (Another ridiculous thing about Aaron Burr: he apparently learnt the words 'brod' and 'mjolk', the Swedish for 'bread' and 'milk', and was so delighted by this that he used those words instead of the English ones in his diary for three years. If he were around in the present day, he'd pepper all his fanfiction with out-of-place Japanese.)

Also hilarious (and I'm reproducing information I posted in a comment recently, so I'm sorry if you've seen this paragraph already): I've been reading bits of the Reynolds Pamphlet, Alexander Hamilton's ninety-five-page 'look, I've been accused of corruption because of weird payments I've made to this guy, but actually I've just been sleeping with his wife and paying him for it' confession. My favourite part, when Hamilton recounts explaining in private to three members of Congress that, no, he hasn't been up to any dodgy financial business, he's just been adultering: 'One or more of the gentlemen was struck with so much conviction, before I had gotten through the communication, that they delicately urged me to discontinue it as unnecessary. I insisted upon going through the whole and did so.' I love the idea that these guys were going 'no, no, we believe you, you can stop talking' and Hamilton went 'NO, YOU ASKED AND NOW YOU'RE ABOUT TO HEAR ABOUT MY AFFAIR IN EXCRUCIATING DETAIL.'

I want a sitcom where Hamilton and Burr live together. Hamilton won't ever shut up! Burr thinks that guns are the solution to everything! Wait, no, that would end horribly.

Also in the Reynolds Pamphlet: a month after discovering Hamilton's affair with his wife, James Reynolds wrote a letter to Hamilton saying 'look, my wife wants to see you, can you come over and bang her, I MEAN DEFINITELY NOT BANG HER, OBVIOUSLY I WOULDN'T DREAM THAT YOU MIGHT BE COMING OVER TO BANG HER, incidentally hey why not give me some money?'

Hamilton writes of this, 'On the 17th of January, I received the letter No. V. by which Reynolds invites me to renew my visits to his wife. He had before requested that I would see her no more. The motive to this step appears in the conclusion of the letter ... If I recollect rightly, I did not immediately accept the invitation, nor 'till after I had received several very importunate letters from Mrs. Reynolds.'

Well done, Hamilton; we're all very impressed by your self-control.
rionaleonhart: twewy: joshua kiryu is being fabulously obnoxious and he knows it. (is that so?)
My preceding entry is now a bit outdated because all the Hamilton songs I linked to have been taken down. They're up on Spotify, though, under Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)! (I downloaded Spotify the second I discovered this. I have a medical need to hear 'Wait For It' ten times a day.)

As I knew very little about the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution apart from what Assassin's Creed III taught me (mysteriously, the British education system tends not to focus much on wars we lost), I've been investigating some of the history surrounding this musical. In the process, I discovered these extracts from an actual historical letter exchange between Alexander Hamilton and his sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler Church (which apparently inspired 'Take a Break' in the musical):


Indeed my dear, Sir if my path was strewed with as many roses, as you have filled your letter with compliments, I should not now lament my absence from America - Church to Hamilton, 2nd October 1787

You ladies despise the pedantry of punctuation. There was a most critical comma in your last letter. It is my interest that it should have been designed; but I presume it was accidental. Unriddle this if you can. The proof that you do it rightly may be given by the omission or repetition of the same mistake in your next ... Adieu ma chere, soeur - Hamilton to Church, 6th December 1787


HAMILTON, OH MY GOD, BEHAVE YOURSELF.

It's also absolutely true that Hamilton couldn't shut up about anything. The Reynolds Pamphlet was ninety-five pages long.


House update: [livejournal.com profile] th_esaurus has moved out, alas, but the similarly excellent [livejournal.com profile] reipan is now in residence!

My housemates and I have been challenging each other to reproduce song lyrics as well as we can with the limited vocabulary afforded by a fridge poetry set. [livejournal.com profile] reipan turned 'How do you write like you're running out of time?' (Hamilton, 'Non-Stop') into 'how do you write runny future to engulf'. I've turned 'He took the midnight train going anywhere' (Journey, 'Don't Stop Believin'') into 'he goes fast in the dark to the world'. But I think the winner of this game is Housemate C, who was given 'Shot through the heart and you're to blame' (Bon Jovi, 'You Give Love a Bad Name') and ended up with 'slay punctured in the heart and I doubt your innocence'.

A fair few people get slay punctured in Hamilton, incidentally.