sabotabby: (books!)
 Fiction

1. Everything Belongs to the Future, Laurie Penny
2. Wake of Vultures, Lila Bowen
3. We Are the Ants, Shaun David Hutchinson
4. Waiting for Gertrude: A Graveyard Gothic, Bill Richardson
5. The Pastel City, M. John Harrison
6. 13 Ways of Looking At a Fat Girl, Mona Awad
7. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
8. Rise: A Newsflesh Collection, Mira Grant
9. The Stealer of Souls, Michael Moorcock
10. Seven Surrenders, Ada Palmer
11. Amiable With Big Teeth, Claude McKay
12. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
13. The Stone House, A.K. Benedict
14. The Female of the Species, Mindy McGinnis
15. It Can't Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis
16. Moonglow, Michael Chabon
17. When Everything Feels Like the Movies, Raziel Reid
18. Walkaway, Cory Doctorow
19. Feed, M.T. Anderson
20. Kids of Appetite, David Arnold
21. The Collapsing Empire, John Scalzi
22. Crossing the Distance, Evan Solomon
23. Breakfast in the Ruins: A Novel of Inhumanity, Michael Moorcock
24. Behold the Man, Michael Moorcock
25. The Last Policeman, Ben H. Winters
26. Stonemouth, Iain Banks
27. Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey
28. Countdown City, Ben H. Winters
29. World of Trouble, Ben H. Winters
30. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
31. Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood
32. The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin

Non-Fiction

1. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers
2. Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Jane Mayer
3. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, Cathy O'Neil
4. Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner: A Story About Women and Economics, Katrine Marçal
5. Indefensible: Seven Myths That Sustain the Global Arms Trade, Paul Holden et. al.
6. October: The Story of the Russian Revolution, China Miéville
7. The Canadaland Guide To Canada, Jesse Brown
8. Utopia For Realists, Rutger Bregman 
9. The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief,Oddity, and Antagonism Online, Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner
10. Kill All Normies, Online Culture Wars From 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right, Angela Nagle
11. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, Jon Ronson
12. The Amazing Adventures of Phoenix Jones and the Less Amazing Adventures Of Some Other Real-Life Superheroes, Jon Ronson

Books What Have Pictures In Them

1. Missing Nimâmâ, Melanie Florence and François Thisdale
2. Mayday, Alex de Campi, Blond, Tony Parker

Vigil

Aug. 13th, 2017 11:28 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Went to a hastily organized vigil for Charlottesville. There were maybe about 50 people and almost as many TV cameras. A blessed minimum of speeches as we all knew why we were there. We sang "The Red Flag" and "Solidarity Forever" and marched with drippy candles to City Hall.

it helps, at times like these, to be with folks that get it. There's another demo tomorrow morning but I don't think I'll make it because 8 am is very early. So I'm glad this one happened.

ETA: as I type this, I'm reading of another attack, this time at a solidarity demo in Montreal. Fortunately the victim survived. We must fight these bastards; nothing less than our survival and the survival of the most vulnerable communities is at stake.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Like many (most) of you, I'm grieving the murder of Fellow Worker Heather Heyer, a member of the IWW (an organization I was proud to be a member of for many years), the injuries of dozens of others, and the brutal assault of Deandre Harris at the hands of fascists and white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA. Unlike a lot of (white) people, I'm not surprised. This is America with its gloves off. This is what we warned against. It was always going to come to this, and I fear it will get much worse before it gets better, if it does at all.

For a good long time, I've been actively confronting local fascists who organize and demonstrate under the thin veneer of free speech. Plenty of liberals and radicals alike have informed me that this is a waste of time, that the antifa who show up reliably every time the fash demonstrate are not radical enough, are too radical, aren't diverse enough, are too militant, are not militant enough, exclude less privileged people who can't physically show up, are secretly anti-Semites despite a significant number being Jewish, and are just plain doing it wrong. I'm not into calling out individuals and groups, but I have paid careful attention to who I see there, and who I don't see there.

I can only hope that Heyer, Harris, and those standing beside them and fighting back haven't sacrificed in vain. I hope that this is the end of inaction, of false equivalence, of turning our words on each other rather than on the enemy. I hope that this is a clarion call for action.

I'll repost what I said in the Other Place:

Hey GTA people posting your outrage over Charlottesville: did you know that a group of fascists regularly demonstrate at City Hall under the guise of "free speech"? We go to oppose them and try to prevent them from marching. Sometimes we're outnumbered. If you're really angry about what happened, coming out to shut this shit down here before it becomes tiki torches and vehicular manslaughter is a concrete thing you can do.

Also, if you have $ and are not sure which crowdfunding initiatives are legit, this is a good place to start.

sabotabby: (teacher lady)
 Almost right on schedule, my first back-to-school anxiety nightmare of August. It was not as bad as most, probably because I've been in school-anxiety-mode for a year now and my brain hasn't had a stretch of not being stressed out and anxious. Anyway, it was almost interesting so I'll share it.

First day of class. My classes, as per usual nightmares, were huge, and the kids kept drifting in and out and coming in late and wouldn't stay still or give me their names. One girl had recently lost her brother in a shooting, another had lost her mother three weeks earlier. Her mother's grave was located right beside the classroom, and she had brought several large bouquets of purple lilies that clashed with the red and white flowers on the grave. She kept getting up to shift the flowers around, or curling up in a fetal position to cry.

The principal had decided that class would begin with a personal address from her, and so I was supposed to wait until she arrived to start. But she was late, and the kids were already complaining that they were bored, so I did an icebreaker activity. It was called Millennials Are Killing X and you had to go around a circle and say a thing Millennials are killing and why. For example, "Millennials are killing the housing market because they spend on their money on smashed avocado toast and lattes. I thought it was hilarious but the kids didn't get it, and then I remembered that the Millennials had been years ago and the kids didn't know what they were.

good day

Aug. 6th, 2017 06:36 pm
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
 Ernst Zündel is dead and Godspeed You Black Emperor has a new album coming out.

Today is a good day.

I'm home!

Jul. 30th, 2017 09:22 pm
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
My Eastern European adventures have drawn to a close, and I am now safely back home in Toronto, jetlagged and of very little brain.

The excellent travel luck that made almost everything about this trip easy and magical ran out on the way back. When we got to the airport, albeit early, no gate information. Waited around. Gate information announced, mad rush ensues. Staff appear to not know what's going on. Flight delayed. I practically have a panic attack before realizing that the time change between Kiev and Warsaw is such that I'll still catch my flight. But just in case, I wanted to let people know I might be stranded in Poland overnight, but the airport wifi was out too.

It turned out to be fine because the flight to Toronto was also delayed. When I finally got on, it was the Flight From Hell. I had Demonchild McElbows on one side, wriggling and giggling and poking me every time I started to drift off. I leaned over into the aisle, but the many other children on the flight were using it to run up and down screaming and kicking my foot, and one woman who kept getting up and walking over to show her husband, in the seat in front of me, her swollen ankle. So no sleep was to be had. For awhile I amused myself by hatewatching Batman vs. Superman, but there's a limit to how many terrible movies even I can watch.

(It was so bad, though. SO BAD.)

We actually landed on time after all that, just in time for the child behind me to vomit. Most of it hit the bag, at least. But the plane couldn't park because there was a strike (which I knew about but it was a different airline), so between that and the resulting chaos, it took about another two hours before I could actually head home.

It is a mark of my character development that I was too tired to do laundry. Normally that wouldn't stop me.

I'm at the fatigue/discombobulation level where everything feels like work, even lying on the couch and watching TV. I have a bad case of the don't wannas. I should at some point post, locked, about some other things that happened but are less suitable for public posts, as I was an in interesting part of the world at interesting times. But now I'm back with my own bed and my own cats and I think I shall take advantage of that.
sabotabby: (anarcat)
Here, have a buttload of new pictures. As much as I want to fix my image hosting issues to be able to embed photos, I have to admit this is kind of easier while travelling.

We had a full last day. Went to the Pinchuk Art Centre, which has to be the strangest art gallery I've ever visited. As in you need to go through a metal detector to get in. There's a massive exhibition on right now featuring such luminaries as Marina Abramovich, Ai Weiwei, Damien Hirsch, and more. The Abramovich piece involved a blindfold, noise-cancelling headphones, and putting yourself at the mercy of other gallery-goers and guides. I noped right out of there after first a game of patty cake, then being patted on the head. I am not very badass or good with vulnerability, and I suspect I would not last long as a political prisoner, incidentally.

Actually, I thought the Ukrainian artists featured in the show were, on the whole, more impressive than the well-known international artists. There was quite a bit focusing on Chernobyl, economic restructuring during and after the Soviet era, and the trauma of war.

We passed the Mother Motherland monument on the way back from the airport, so we decided we had to get a closer look. Of course, the skies chose that precise time to open and pour forth and incredible thunderstorm, so we didn't get that close as we weren't out for that long. But I actually really like how my photos of it came out; you can see the massive scale, and it's all grey and mysterious.

It was impossible to leave Ukraine without a final round of sour cherry vareniki. We also had a flight of mysterious alcohols, ranging from "great enough that I bought some to take home" to "OH GOD OH GOD MY EYES THEY'RE ON FIRE." Or, as the Russians say, "gadost," which is my second new favourite word. I asked Anya for a translation and she said, "covfefe." But it means something gross and filthy. I am not sure what I drank but some involved horseradish?

I fly back home tomorrow. From what I glean from the news, it's about the right time to be GTFO of Eastern Europe.
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
We're heading out for lunch as soon as the dude can get the AC working, but in the meantime behold the "VIP suite," in which we will spend our last evening in Kiev. We are pretty sure Soviet dignitaries stayed here and they haven't touched the room since:

enjoy

Kaunas

Jul. 27th, 2017 09:15 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
I meant for this to be two separate posts: one for the fun stuff, one for the Ninth Fort, which is the most harrowing, emotionally devastating place I have visited since Buchenwald. But of course image hosting isn't cooperating, so unfortunately at the moment, if you want to see the fun pictures, you will also have to see the depressing pictures (which I promise aren't actually that bad, as I only really took exterior shots that are only disturbing if you know the context). This said, here is the gallery, and content/trigger warning for some of the photos being of a place where 30,000-50,000 people were murdered.

(Of course, I have no idea if you can even view the photos. I really need to work out my image hosting issues. Flickr is an impossibility at the moment while I'm out of Canada.)

Anyway! I'm sure somewhere in your mind, you were wondering about the fact that I keep posting pictures of pretty buildings and lovely, walkable cities. Admit it--you expected a bit more Soviet brutalist and you were wondering where it was. The answer is that it's all in Kaunas. Kaunas does have a cute Old Town but the stuff we wanted to see wasn't there, and where we're staying is pure 1960s poured cement. I will admit a slight fondness for it, though I wouldn't want to live there.

Our first stop was the Devil's Museum, which is exactly what it says on the tin. It's an excellent collection of devils of all sorts. Our one criticism is that the gift shop was missing some obvious opportunities as it practically didn't exist.

Then we went across the street to the museum of M. K. Ciurlionis, a Symbolist artist and composer. Cool, not the most exciting, but some lovely work.

We also rode a funicular, which is kind of like an amusement ride except not very good. But it's one of my favourite words now.

The main event was going about a half-hour outside town to the Ninth Fort. It's an early 20th century fort that became a hard labour camp, then a transfer point for deportations to Siberia during the first Soviet occupation of Lithuania, then basically a killing field under the Nazis. The second time the Soviets occupied the country, they turned it into a vast and ghastly monument to the victims of fascism, which subsequently was expanded to include evidence of their own crimes after Lithuania's independence.

I can't really describe it to you properly. Unless you've been in the remnants of a concentration camp or similar, you won't be able to get what it's like to stand in a place that is well and truly haunted by the unquiet dead. The museum consists of one building that's an overview of the atrocities committed on the premises, but focusing mainly on the Soviet occupation, several vast, giant sculptures and plaques describing the Nazi massacres, and the fort itself, which shows prison cells, interrogation rooms, a recreation of a Kaunas Ghetto house, and informational rooms with the requisite belongings of the victims. It's cold, and damp, and good luck ever not feeling that bone-deep chill again. Also, this is why we don't fucking compromise with fascists, okay?

Anyway we coped really well after, which is to say I had 1/3 of a bottle of wine and I'm just about shaking history from my head. Tomorrow it's back to Kiev, and then home.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
We rolled into Vilnius, Lithuania just before 10 pm last night after a four-hour long bus ride. It was pouring rain, which is typical for here (apparently the weather is awful in one way or another at least 60% of the time), and late, so we grabbed dinner at a vegetarian bar and crashed out at the hotel. Today, it was supposed to pour--our cab driver assured us that this time, the entire city would be flooded--but our luck held and we were able to do a walking tour of the Old Town and the Republic of Užupis.

Vilnius has a messy, dilapidated charm. I think, perhaps, my lack of bonding with Riga was due to the fact that it's kept in such good repair; letting a city crumble a bit is much more aesthetically pleasing. It's slightly less Westernized--people here speak Russian as much as they do English, though mainly Lithuanian--and just, well, weirder.

photos )
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
Here are a few last glimpses of Riga before we hop a bus to Vilnius. We went to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, the Art Nouveau district, and I shot a few more pictures of the hotel.

under here )
sabotabby: (sabokitty)
I don't have a ton of spoons left over tonight for a long post, so have some photos around and about Riga.

After the aesthetic exuberance of Odessa, Riga seems much more restrained, even dour. It's impressively old (founded in 1201, and there were settlements well before that) and lovely, but also more orderly, less lively, less organic. And, of course, much more expensive: welcome back to Western Europe.

This said, it's gorgeous and fun. Everyone speaks English here, which is relaxing. I don't mean this in a chauvinist way; mainly that I don't need to bother Anya to translate everything. Actually, where we're staying in the old town, it doesn't seem like anyone other than people working here are from here; it's pretty heavily touristy.

Which also means that it's incredibly easy to find vegan food. Including an entire vegan restaurant. I was like, "GIVE ME ALL THE PROTEIN."

The most important story I learned today was this: There were two powerful guilds in Riga. One was for skilled craftsmen, and admitted every eligible craftsman who applied to join. The other was for merchants, and only admitted Germans. A wealthy merchant from Riga applied to join and was rejected on the basis of his nationality. Accordingly, he built himself a giant fuck-off house across the street from the guild building and put black cats on the roof with their asses facing the building, as if shitting. The guild immediately sued to have the cats removed, but because lawsuits take time, WWI broke out, and no one gave a shit about cats' asses. The cats were mysteriously removed anyway in the 1920s, and replaced just as mysteriously in the 1950s, this time facing towards the guild, as it is now the home of the Riga Philharmonic, and no one has any quarrel with them.



photodump )
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
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.)
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
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! )
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
We went to the Odessa Opera House, one of the most famous and beautiful opera houses in the world.

behold! )
sabotabby: (coffee)
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.
sabotabby: (magicians)
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)
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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