25 April 2017

The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2013

The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 201324. The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2013 by Rich Horton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A bit hard to rate with around 33 diverse short stories, some OK, some I liked, some I really liked, and 1 I disliked enough I didn't finish it. Your mileage will vary based on your tastes, I suspect.

If I had edited this volume, I would've made a slimmer selection. Therefore I suggest if a story isn't grabbing you, feel free to skip to the next one. (I could've saved myself some time on a few that way.)

Not my usual sort of read, but I won a copy from Worldbuilder's annual fundraiser for Heifer International during which they have a huge lottery of books/games and other cool sundries you can win to encourage donations.

I read stories off and on over the course of a year.

Here are some of the stories I rather liked:
The Black Feminist's Guide To Science Fiction Film Editing
Scrap Dragon
The Castle That Jack Built
Twenty-Two And You
Two Houses
The Weight Of History, The Lightness Of The Future

10 years ago on TTaT: Slow Seven

22 April 2017

The Legend of Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Origins

The Legend of Wonder Woman (2015-) Vol. 1: Origins23. The Legend of Wonder Woman (2015-) Vol. 1: Origins by Renae DeLiz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent origin story for Wonder Woman. Feels faithful to the original with some key tweaks that actually make it make more sense. Though it's set during World War 2, it has a contemporary feel in some aspects which makes it an enjoyable read with a bit more diversity.

I like that we actually get to see her growing up on Themyscira first and interacting with other Amazons. Diana is an evolving, growing person in this book rather than a somewhat removed ideal as she can appear in some stories.

The art is beautiful.

Highly recommended.

ETA: Bummed to discover there won't be a volume 2. Still a very worthwhile read on its own.

10 years ago on TTaT: Tiebreaker

19 April 2017

Vita Nuova: Italian Text With Facing English Translation

Vita Nuova22. Vita Nuova by Dante Alighieri

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Piangere! Sospirare! There's a great deal of weeping & sighing involved, but I enjoyed the Italian.

I thought this was going to be a book of poetry, and thus better read in the original Italian. And there are poems but there's also a great deal of prose and commentary on the sonnets by the narrator.

Dante's writing is very long-winded. He is the king of semi-colons and run-on sentences.

So for the content, I give it a 2. However this particular version, Vita Nuova: Italian Text With Facing English Translation by Dino S. Cervigni and Edward Vasta is the way to go if you want to read the original text and your Italian is rusty.

His Italian is archaic, so there's also that. I didn't read all the additional commentary that's in this volume.

It did rekindle my affection for Italian. I'd like to read something easier in Italian, some (relatively) current light fiction, maybe a YA novel, or even kid's books if you have any suggestions.

10 years ago on TTaT: Yeah, I watch Smallville

14 April 2017

Life of Art SitRep #374 Varied Purple and White Stripes

Shot 54 photographs and 3 videos of water. Culled 43 photos, 1 video, and rated the remaining. Got really brutal in my second pass remembering other abstract water photographs that I have which I prefer more.

Worked on my archive a bit adding images to my 2016 portfolio through May of last year.

Created Varied Purple and White Stripes products for an assortment of home decor, mobile device cases, wrapping supplies, stationery, and other items:

Check out the rest of the collection of Varied Purple and White Stripes products.

Rocklawn Arts blogged New Varied Purple and White Stripes pattern (posts next Tuesday).

Updated links and LOA files.

Added new purple stripes designs to Purple Geometric Gift Wrap Supplies collection:

How was your week?

12 years ago on TTaT: tip du jour-how to obtain a free credit report*

07 April 2017

Life of Art SitRep #373 A Moment to Celebrate

This week I celebrated 12 years of blogging here at Taller Than Average Tales with a post of highlights from each year.

Shot 12 photographs, culled 6, rated rest.

Edited a llama and sheep photograph in Lightroom, but didn't like it well enough yet to add it to blogiversary post or elsewhere.

Rocklawn Arts blogged Popular #Resist Pins, Bumper Stickers, T-Shirts, and more highlighting the top selling protest items from the past 30 days.

Added new auto twitter feed for Distinctive iPhone 7 Wood Cases collection. See them all here now:

Updated links, LOA for end of month.

Made monthly backups.

Have you backed up lately?

12 years ago on TTaT: Phoenix Rising

05 April 2017

Extrovert continued

Almost two weeks ago, I met a friendly, very attractive extrovert named Katie.

Two days after that encounter, my Mom was at the library and Katie made a point of telling her that it was really nice to meet me.

Which might seem like something... but when my Mom casually described seeing her interact with other people, it seemed like she's just an outgoing, friendly, chatty person with everyone. I've never actually seen her interact with anyone else so I have no other reference points. Mom actually finds it a little off-putting which says to me that she's finally lived up in the Northeast too long where gregariousness is unusual.

Today I had some books and CDs to return and a book to pick up from the library. Before I went in I was looking at the patches of skin between my thumbs and forefingers, red and a bit rough from hand-washing. Why didn't I use more lotion? I found myself wanting to look a bit better: a better hair day, less tired looking, skin a bit more clear. Normally, I don't care which shows but is kind of the point because I'm not trying to draw attention to myself. This is atypical territory for me.

Katie smiled and said hey when I walked in. Apparently I looked good enough. I did notice she didn't greet my by name although she recognized me.

"Hey," I replied, stopping by the book return to unload the stack I'd carried in. I didn't use her name either because I didn't have a good fix in my mind on her face and wanted to be sure it was her first. Yup, *very* good looking.

"I didn't think I'd ever see you again," she said, turning to grab my reserve book from the shelf behind her.

"I'm actually going to look for a couple things upstairs," I said to stop her from checking out the book. "I'll be back."

"Maybe I'll read it then. Looks like fun." She was holding a Wonder Woman graphic novel I'd requested.

I smiled and headed up the front stairs. The CDs I was looking for had been moved to the back of the building, so once I found them, I came down the back stairs and headed for the front.

I passed a woman tutoring a young man in French. He said something and then she corrected him, "Soixante-treize" and then in accented English, "Seventy-three." I recognized it before she translated it.

Passing through an archway to the main desk, I saw Katie leaning over flipping through a large book. I didn't think it was mine at first since it was a sizable hardcover, but then she closed the cover and I saw that it was.

"Any good?" I asked with a smile.

"I don't know. I've never read anything like this. I was just looking at the pictures." She pulled a slip out and started typing in my library card's number.

"Oh, I've got my card if that's easier," I said, pulling it out of my wallet.

"Quick on the draw," she said. I thought she meant me but she didn't seem to need my card, so I put it back. She must've meant herself.

"These too?" she asked.


She checked out the two CDs I'd gotten. "Oh, I love Glen Miller," she said. "I haven't listened to him in a long time."

"Good stuff," I said. She likes big band jazz, thumbs up.

Katie handed me my items and said, "It was really good to see you again, Claire."

"It was good to see you again too, Katie."

I was smiling when I walked outside but mostly suppressed it because I didn't want to talk about it with the people waiting in the car. I may have to pick up my own books more often, I thought to myself.

We went for a bit of a ride and I replayed the encounter in my head. Why didn't I say something when she said, "I didn't think I'd ever see you again"? I let my mind wander and daydreamed how things might proceed.

It wasn't long before I was bumping up against my own red flags, things which if I learned of them in another person I'd consider deal breakers but which I myself possess. Some could be fixed in theory but there are a couple things I can't fix which I don't want to talk about. Why even bother? I thought to myself, my mood somewhat dampened.

It comes down to what you feel worthy of.


She did seem happy to see me again.

I still don't have a read on what kind of interest she may have in me. When I read what I've written, it seems obvious, but it doesn't feel obvious in person. And as far as I know, she chats with everyone this way.

During a break from writing this I had the hilarious idea that she could be somewhere else on the interwebs writing from her point of view trying to suss out my potential interest. She has the advantage though: she knows my full name and I post by it. (Hey, Katie.) Oh my god, how mortifying would that be?

Even if her interest is platonic, it's still nice when someone who gives you a good vibe shows interest in you.

11 years ago on TTaT: Nickerblog's Mystery Hotel

March: Book Three

March: Book Three (March, #3)20. March: Book Three by John Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The powerful conclusion to John Lewis’ experiences in the Civil rights movement though by no means the end of these struggles. So much is still all too familiar today (police brutality against people of color, efforts to suppress voting), yet it does make me hopeful that standing up for your rights, protesting, and voting can lead to change for the better.

12 years ago on TTaT: tip du jour

04 April 2017

xii, dodici, 12, douze, twelve, doce !!

One year after another they stack up and now Taller Than Average Tales is twelve. Craziness, I say.

Happy 12th blogiversary, TTaT!
Looking back through 12 years of writing, drawing, and photography, I've chosen one post (or occasionally two) from each year from my Best of TTaT list (you can also find it in the header under Highlights).

So... of 2455 published posts (not including this one), these are currently my favorites:

Twelve years of Taller Than Average Tales, ultra-condensed

One Year Ago

Tacos and the bear

Formalwear Claire

To Be King Again

20 self portraits from 1996, day 2 and Haiku: Irony

Gettin' My Groove On... (vol. xv) and Light It Up, vol. 1

Biggest Bear Yet

Temporal Transportation

Fleeting Diner Love

Evening Stride and Favorite Fortune Ever

Best Part of Winter

Inspired by Wynonna Earp to Try Something New

2017 (so far):
Introvert Meets Extrovert

Thanks to everyone who has read and commented over the years!

10 years ago on TTaT: ii, dos, due, 2, two, deux !!

31 March 2017

Life of Art SitRep #372 Resistance Bumper Stickers

This week, I created a Resistance Bumper Stickers collection:

Rocklawn Arts blogged New Resistance Bumper Stickers collection.

Filed my taxes, huzzah!

Switched several Postcards from glossy to matte paper. The option is available on all of them.

Was going to switch some Cards but several seemed to be matte already. The option is available on all of them as well.

Added a twitter header banner to @RocklawnArts. Since it's responsive, abstract images work better than geometric patterns which can crop poorly on some screens.

Took a bit of jiggering but set up this collection to post tweets to @RocklawnArts:

Reorganized collections a bit.

Rated photographs in 19 folders from last year and culled 5 videos.

Apparently today is World Backup Day. Have you backed up lately? Do you have a copy of your files stored at another location or online in case of theft or disaster?

11 years ago on TTaT: There's no such thing as a chocolate milkshake and Holy cow, Batman!

24 March 2017

Life of Art SitRep #371 Ruthless Culling

If nothing else this week, I was good about reviewing, culling, and rating the photographs I shot.

Shot 59 photographs and brutally culled 35, rah!

Started working on a colorized ogee pattern but didn't get very far as I started rethinking my approach and then got sidelined by pedestrian matters.

Finished reading/doing lessons in Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC for Photographers Classroom In A Book. Lots of useful info!

On the upside, this post didn't take very long to write.

How was your week?

11 years ago on TTaT: I'm a little lamb

23 March 2017

Introvert Meets Extrovert

The forecast for tomorrow is snow/sleet so when I got a notice late in the day that the second book I was waiting for was available at the library, I decided to pick it up today before they closed.

As soon as I walked through the inner door to the library, a woman behind the counter called out, "Hello!"

"Hello," I replied, slightly surprised because I was still about 10 feet away from her. She must be the new young woman Mom mentioned.

I walked over to be across from her at the counter and continued, "I've got a couple of books to pick up."

"Sure thing."

Mom had neglected to mention that she's very good looking. Long, straight black hair. Around my age. Fairly tall. Well, maybe 25-35. Mom calls most everyone "young" and there's a range where I find ages hard to gauge.

She set aside what she'd been working on as I pulled out my library card from my wallet. When I handed it to her, she said, "Thank you," and proceeded to scan it.

She turned behind her to the reserves bookshelf to find my books and said, "Ah, you're Claire."

"That's me."

With my books in hand, she turned back to me and continued, "I'd wondered who Claire was." She searched her memory for a second, found what she was looking for, and continued, "Paula picks things up for you, right?"

I was impressed. "Yes, she's my mom," I said. "And you're new."

"Yes, I've been working here for two or three months. I'm Katie."

Katie like Katie McGrath. I smiled and said, "Hey."

Katie checked out my books. "Is this good?" she asked, pointing to March: Book Three. "I saw that you'd read the earlier ones. I poked through them and they looked interesting."

"Yes, they're very good." I picked up the book and flipped it to its spine to check the author's name and added, "They're John Lewis's experiences during the Civil Rights Movement. There are 3 books in the series."

She was looking at me, engaged. I felt heat rise in my cheeks. I hoped it was one of those times that I only feel certain I'm blushing but other people can't see it. I broke eye contact and looked back down at the book.

"They looked powerful," she said.

"They are."

Katie handed me my other book and I said, "Thank you." I was happy that in this instance the other book I was checking out was a version of Dante's La Vita Nuova in the original Italian with an English translation on opposing pages.

"It was really nice meeting you," she said.

"It was nice to meet you too." I started to walk away.

"Bye, Claire."

I turned my head and over my shoulder said, "Bye, Katie." In my peripheral vision, I saw her smile.

10 years ago on TTaT: A follow-up of sorts

19 March 2017

Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC for Photographers Classroom In A Book

Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC for Photographers Classroom in a Book19. Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC for Photographers Classroom in a Book by Lesa Snider

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book is not a complete reference on everything in Lightroom or in Photoshop, rather its focus is on how the programs work together, what tasks are best suited to each and how to pass files back and forth while maintaining the highest image quality.

I went into this with a good understanding of Photoshop and a fair understanding of Lightroom, so I found working through the lessons with the practice files very helpful. There are definitely sections I will revisit as the need arises.

To get the most out of this book, you really need to do the exercises, not just read them.

(The author is mis-attributed on GoodReads page for the correct version of the book, but I've given Lesa Snider proper credit here.)

11 years ago on TTaT: Was I not already doing this for free?

18 March 2017

March: Book Two

March: Book Two (March, #2)18. March: Book Two by John Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

John Lewis’ experience of the Civil rights movement continues in book 2.

Read it to learn more about the brutal racism and discrimination of the early 1960s, to see how far we've come since then, and to see what's at stake now in 2017 as many in power seek to take us backwards towards those days.

11 years ago on TTaT: Query

17 March 2017

Life of Art SitRep #370 Mixed Gray, Black, White Stripes

This week, I shot 6 photographs, culled 3, rated the rest.

Shot 17 videos, culled 10, rated rest. I'm gradually getting better with my post shoot process. Also getting more ruthless in my culling which will save time in the future.

Did another pass of 2017 photos thus far to choose 2 stars from 1 star photos.

Added Mixed Gray, Black, White Stripes design to items in my shop:

Check out the collection of Mixed Gray, Black, White Stripes products.

Rocklawn Arts blogged New Mixed Gray, Black, White Stripes design (posts next Tuesday to Rocklawn Arts blog).

Made a #Resist mug and updated the #Resist Kit collection:

Listened to a great podcast by Chase Jarvis on how to know if the voice in your head is a gremlin or your instinct: When to listen to the voices in your head.

Updated links, LOA files.

Deleted 9 products from my shop.

Finished lesson 8 in Lightroom Photoshop book.

How was your week?

11 years ago on TTaT: Chips and Dr Pepper

15 March 2017

One Strand At A Time

When I looked down I saw two loose strands of my hair, one dark brown and the other, grey. The grey was almost invisible against the pale surface.

This was not surprising to me since I've had a small streak of grey in my hair starting when I was 16. For many years, hair dressers always exclaimed in shock and dismay when they came across it. In recent years, I have acquired many more. Mostly I don't notice them unless I'm in a public restroom with overhead lighting. Then I think, Damn, I have a lot more grey than I thought.

I picked up the dark strand first and saw the grey move also. I grabbed the other end of the hair and held it out horizontally in front of me. One half of the long strand was brown and the other half was grey.

Nothing quite like seeing that your hair is literally turning grey one strand at a time.

10 years ago on TTaT: When Irish road workers have spare time

11 March 2017

17. O'Keefe

O'Keefe17. O'Keefe by Britta Benke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The version I read was in English with ISBN: 978-3836556484 but has the same page count and cover, so I'm considering this close enough. (Trying to add it to GoodReads was giving me all sorts of hassle.)

Really lovely collection of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings.

The text is OK but sorely needs indentation for new paragraphs! Or line breaks, something to make it easier to read than having it all justified left. The hyphenated split words on the right were annoying too.

As for text content, it's decent when it's the facts of her life but at times made me roll my eyes when it strayed into interpretations of O'Keeffe's paintings. This book is best for its selection of images from her work, a decent size, but not huge–the book, that is.

If you can't see her work in person (though I highly recommend it), this is a good second choice.

10 years ago on TTaT: The other Hepburn, I was suspicious...

10 March 2017

Life of Art SitRep #369 Collections, Archive, Learning

This week, I shot 12 abstract photographs, culled 7. Also culled 49 from previous shoots and rated images.

Created Waterproof LifeProof iPhone 7 Cases and Waterproof LifeProof iPhone 7 Plus Cases collections:

Rocklawn Arts blogged New Waterproof LifeProof iPhone 7 Cases Collection, New Waterproof LifeProof iPhone 7 Plus Cases Collection, and New Rainbow Colored Balloons illustration (posts next Tuesday though you can click the link to see the items in my shop now).

Watched a series of short Lightroom workflow videos by Jared Platt and a live retouching mini workshop.

Started lesson 8 in LR PS classroom book.

Made monthly backups. Have you backed up lately?

10 years ago on TTaT: Quattro

05 March 2017

Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index

Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index15. Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index by Kathy Griffin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you're a fan of her comedy specials, you'll likely enjoy this book, a collection of stories about celebrity encounters arranged alphabetically by their names. There's also a handy index as some people show up in others' entries.

What strikes me is how many famous people she's met, the life and career she's worked very hard to create with a fearlessness I find inspiring. It's not that I'm going to head out to accost celebrities in service of humor, but I'd like to channel some of her confidence when dealing with new people and situations.

10 years ago on TTaT: Clash of the Foreign Tongues

04 March 2017

120 Hiroshige Woodblock Prints CD-ROM and Book

120 Hiroshige Woodblock Prints CD-ROM and Book13. 120 Hiroshige Woodblock Prints CD-ROM and Book by Hiroshige Utagawa

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Most of the woodblock prints are from the 1850s in Japan. It's really interesting to see the terrain. Hiroshige was a very skilled artist.

The book comes with a CD-ROM of the images which are all royalty free. Here are a few of my favorites:

10 years ago on TTaT: Another wizard named Harry

03 March 2017

Life of Art SitRep #368 LifeProof iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Cases

Made a bit of headway this week though it's felt slow going.

Shot 6 photographs and culled 2.

Also culled 98 from previous shoots. Still need to do another pass on those.

Created a selection of LifeProof® FRĒ® iPhone 7 Cases:

Created a selection of LifeProof® FRĒ® iPhone 7 Plus Cases:

Watched Dave Cross's "Adobe Tip: How to use Dehaze in Photoshop".

Started watching a series of Jared Platt's quick lessons on Lightroom. You can see the first here and sign up to get emailed the rest: Backing Up from the Start.

How was your week?

10 years ago on TTaT: Present, meet past