Archives for the Month of June, 2021

ca-tsuka: Some pictures from Kanai Kun book collaboration…

Some pictures from Kanai Kun book collaboration between famous japanese poet Shuntaro Tanikawa and mangaka Taiyo Matsumoto (Ping Pong, TekkonKinkreet). Exhibition now playing in Parco Museum (Tokyo).

gotham-ruaidh:Little Bit Better Than I Used To BeThis story takes place during the summer of 1987….


Little Bit Better Than I Used To Be

This story takes place during the summer of 1987. It’s the time of the Cold War, and heavy metal, and Just Say No.

Ten chapters, each with a specific song as its soundtrack.

I’m so excited to finally share it with you.

Catch up: Chapter 1 (Starry Eyes) || Chapter 2 (Save Our Souls) || Also posted at AO3


Chapter 3: Dancing On Glass

I’ve been through hell // And I’m never goin’ back // To dancing on glass // Going way too fast…

Need one more rush // Then I know, I know I’ll stop // One extra push // Last trip to the top…

Soundtrack: “Dancing On Glass,” Mötley Crüe, 1987 [click here to listen]

Three P.M.


Claire’s hands wrapped around the hard sides of the plastic chair, holding herself upright, watching about two dozen fellow patients? inmates? addicts? shuffle into the room.

Two people stood at the door – greeting others as they entered, handing out small packets of tissues and bottles of Coke.

Today’s facilitator – a middle-aged, bearded man – stood to one side, chatting with a few people.


Claire startled – and turned to her right to see Jamie slide into the chair beside her.

“How’s it going today? Day two, right?”

She nodded. “Met with my therapist this morning.”

“That’s great! Who’ve you got?”


Jamie cracked open a bottle. “Oh, she’s great. Been here a long time. She’s married to the director – did you know that?”

Claire’s eyebrows raised. “No, but that’s really interesting.”

Jamie gulped about half the bottle in one shot. “Yeah. We owe everything to them.”

“Yeah, well. I got assigned to dinner set-up duty.”

He beamed. “Great! I’ve been on that rotation for the last few weeks. I’ll show you all the ropes.”

“Few weeks? How long have you been here, if you don’t mind me asking?”

He set down his Coke. “I don’t. And I’ve been here eight weeks. The best eight weeks of my fucked-up life.”

“Don’t say that,” she chided. “Surely everything can’t be so terrible.”

He stared at her for a long moment.

“It can be, if you were the reason why a sold-out European tour couldn’t happen, and it cost your backers and buddies tens of millions of dollars, and it pissed off countless thousands of fans.”

Now the greeters took their seats within the circle.

“Couldn’t, or didn’t?” Claire hoped her words were gentle, but when her head split with pain like this she could never tell. “And what do you mean by ‘tour’?”

His eyes narrowed. “Couldn’t. My manager said I’d come back from Europe in a body bag. He’s a bloodsucker but he had enough sense to not kill the golden goose.” He finished his Coke in one long gulp – flexing the tattoos swirling on his forearm and elbow. “And I’m a professional musician – in case you couldn’t guess from the way I look.”

“I see.”

He grinned. “How about that – someone who doesn’t recognize me.”

She folded her hands in her lap, closing her eyes against the pain, so desperately wanting to disappear. “I guess between medical school, and being a surgeon, and my ex-husband…and the pills…there are a lot of things I haven’t paid attention to.”

“Hey.” Softly he reached out to touch her knee – and she looked up at him.

“I’m not making fun of you, Claire. It’s just…I don’t know. Refreshing.”

She smiled tightly.

The facilitator clapped his hands. “Everyone – are we ready?”

People around the circle nodded, and the man sat down in the last empty chair.

“Great. Well, hi everyone. For those of you who don’t know me – I’m Murtagh. Been clean for just about eleven years now. Before that I spent a small fortune that I didn’t have – ”

“ – on enough blow to kill an elephant,” Jamie and several others chorused.

Murtagh smiled. “Wiseasses. Now – today’s topic is: clarity.”

“Can you be more specific?” A heavyset, bearded man across the circle piped up.

“You mean – provide more clarity?” Geneva snickered from somewhere near Jamie.

“Easy,” Murtagh interjected. “And yes, Rupert, of course. What I mean is: something I hear a lot from people here is that being away from substances gives them clarity for the first time in years. Clarity of thoughts – meaning, you’re logical and rational. Clarity of judgment – meaning, you feel like you are empowered to make good decisions. And overall, clarity to step away from all the bullshit that the substances made you do, or made it easier for you to do, and say – damn, what the hell was I doing?”

Across the circle, Rupert nodded. “OK. Oh – hi everyone, I’m Rupert, and I’m an alcoholic. Yeah – I can definitely relate. I wanted to not have clarity, so that I didn’t have to think about how much I was screwing up my job, and my marriage.”

“Good,” Murtagh praised. “And now that you can’t avoid it – how do you feel?”

Rupert stroked his thick beard. “Like shit. I love Scarlet so much, and I fucked it all up. I understand that now.”

“I feel the same way,” Jamie added. “Hi, I’m Jamie, and I’m an alcoholic, too. I drank because I’ve always felt so responsible for everything going on in my band – because I’m the guy that brought us together, and I’m the guy who writes the songs, and I’m the guy who’s across the table from the record company executives, advocating on our behalf.” He bounced a long, thin, jean-clad leg rapidly up and down. “I felt like I was being used, and that I was the only one who cared. I felt that really clearly. So I drank to…to avoid that clarity.”

Claire carefully watched the others around the circle. What Jamie was sharing could make any one of them a quick buck – all it would take was one phone call to a tabloid. But everyone was listening raptly – clearly thinking about parallels in their own lives – and it began to dawn on her that Jamie had one thing she didn’t have much of for herself: respect.

“And then when I drank, I’d just get really mean,” he continued. “I’d say things to rile up my drummer. I had a fling with my manager’s girlfriend, just to fuck with him. And yeah, I’d destroy hotel rooms.”

“Your reaction was to want to hurt people,” Murtagh said gently. “You had had clarity – clarity that you were shouldering too much, for too many people – and you reacted by wanting to push them away.”

“Yeah.” Claire spoke without thinking. “Um – hi everyone, I’m Claire, and I’m addicted to pills. Halcions, mostly.”

“Oh, those are the best,” a woman to Claire’s left remarked.

“Hey – no positive talk,” Murtagh interjected. “You know better than that, Letitia.”

Letitia huffed.

Murtagh turned back to face Claire. “Tell us more, Claire, if you’re comfortable?”

Now that she’d started, she couldn’t stop. “I was – am – a trauma surgeon for an emergency room. I love it – I love the adrenaline of it, and of course being able to help people on the worst day of their lives. I love being able to heal people. But…but it’s pretty heavy stuff. People die, no matter how hard you try to save them. People wake up and they’re not happy that they don’t have a leg anymore – and I say, would you rather be dead?”

“And you wanted to get away from that?” Jamie asked gently.

She closed her eyes. “I had to have clarity to do my job properly – it’s hard to describe, but it’s like having a laser focus on what’s in front of you. Getting in the zone. Shutting out everything else. And then when it’s all done – I would crash. The whole world would come rushing back, and I’d be covered in someone else’s blood and barely able to sit down before I had to work on the next person. That was so, so hard to deal with.”

“I understand.” Claire opened her eyes – it was an older man speaking right next to Jamie. “Hi everyone – I’m Ned, I’m a lawyer and crack addict, and there are a lot of jokes I’m sure you could make based on that.”

Claire managed a small smile.

“I’m a defense attorney – I’m that guy you see on TV arguing in a courtroom and presenting to a jury. I totally get what Claire said, because I needed to have that kind of really focused clarity, too. It was kind of like acting – I had to remember my argument, and I had to present it to the jury, and I had to pick up on cues from them to see how well I was doing. And then afterward I’d just crash. But I still had to have energy to prep for the next day, and that’s where Miss Crack came in.”

“So what I’m hearing is that clarity is something you already had – and then you turn to substances to get away from it.” Murtagh folded his arms. “Because it’s hard to flip that ‘off’ switch. And then eventually, the substances change from being something to take a vacation from that clarity, to completely blocking out that clarity altogether.”

“Exactly.” It was easier for Claire to focus on Murtagh than the sea of faces surrounding her. “And it’s a deliberate choice. I’m sure, Ned and Rupert and Jamie, that you deliberately sought out something to prevent that clarity. I know I did – I wrote the prescriptions for the pills that I consumed.”

Rupert nodded. “The bottle didn’t pick itself up and pour the liquor down my throat. And you’re right, Claire – at first, at least, it was a conscious decision. Until it became something I had to depend on.”

“I think that there are ways for this to happen more positively.” A woman seated beside Rupert quietly spoke. “Oh – hi, everyone, I’m Marsali, and I’m an alcoholic. What I mean is, there are ways to flip that ‘off’ switch that aren’t so…destructive. You can go for a run. Listen to music. Cook a meal. Watch a movie. Make love to your significant other.”

Murtagh nodded. “Marsali brings up a good point here. I’ll repeat something that I’ve already told many of you before, because it bears repeating. Substance addiction is addiction, first and foremost. All of us are here because our brains are hard-wired for addiction. We can’t change that. But we can change what it is that we’re addicted to.”

“Like what?” Letitia had calmed down a bit, but clearly she was skeptical.

“Whatever works for you,” Murtagh shrugged. “Jiu Jitsu. Flower Arranging. Reading. Playing the drums. Writing. Riding motorcycles. Not all addictions are bad – we just need to find the addictions that help us, and don’t hurt us or the people around us.”

Everyone’s heads nodded in agreement, quietly reflecting.

“So – that’s my homework assignment for all of you.” Murtagh pulled a small spiral notebook from his pocket, flipped to a fresh page, and began scribbling in it. “To think about the thing that you can become positively addicted to. Something you already enjoy, or something you’ve never done before. But I hope that even just thinking about it will give you focus. Improve your clarity.”

“Got it,” Ned said quietly.

Murtagh flipped back to an earlier page in his notebook. “Now – I have here my notes from the last time I facilitated Group. OK if I start going around and asking people for follow-up thoughts to those? Rupert?”

Rupert nodded, and began to speak.

“Facilitators take turns hosting Group every fourth day.” Claire started a bit, but held steady as Jamie leaned in close, spoke quietly into her ear. “We talk about things, and we’re assigned homework, and then the next time the facilitator is back we talk about it.”

“Thanks,” Claire murmured.

Jamie didn’t pull away. “If you ever just want to talk…”

She swallowed. “Thanks. I do. I just – it’s a lot to process.”

“It is. But you’ll get there. Talk more at our dinner prep.”

With that he pulled back, and a low buzz settled somewhere between Claire’s ears as the people around her chimed in to the conversation.

let-the-dream-begin: A Family of Our Own: Chapter 6 Chapter 5 Read on AO3 June 1754 Lallybroch…


A Family of Our Own: Chapter 6

Chapter 5

Read on AO3


June 1754

Lallybroch was sorely lacking in hired help, and had been since the worst of the drought following all the loss of the Rising. They’d had to let go of most of the servants many years ago. All that had remained were the Donnellys, Mrs. Crook, and Rabbie, and then Mary MacNab to replace Mrs. Crook. So when Jenny announced that she was hiring a combination kitchen girl and scullery maid, Claire was not the least bit surprised. She was surprised by how old she turned out to be. 

A little blonde girl trailed behind Fergus on a Monday morning, a small bundle in her skinny little arms. Her hair was not blonde in the way Kitty’s was, in golden waves, but instead it was straight and whiter, closer to the color of straw. Rather than create a puffed cloud around her head like they did in Brianna’s hair, the stray hairs that did not remain contained in her plaits stuck straight up like a funny crown. 

“Well, hello,” Claire said warmly, little Ian on her hip, Jenny having asked her to mind him before she’d fluttered off to the kitchen. “What’s your name?”

She smiled sweetly in a way that made her cheeks swell like she was holding grapes there, dimpling around the corners of her mouth. “Good morning, Mistress.” She curtsied politely. “I’m Marsali MacKimmie.”

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‘A Form of Brainwashing’: China Remakes Hong Kong

‘A Form of Brainwashing’: China Remakes Hong Kong:


(source: new york times | 30 jun 2021)

… Other freedoms once at the core of Hong Kong’s identity are disappearing. The government announced it would censor films deemed a danger to national security. Some officials have demanded that artwork by dissidents like Ai Weiwei be barred from museums.

Still, Hong Kong is not yet just another mainland metropolis. Residents have proved fiercely unwilling to relinquish freedom, and some have rushed to preserve totems of a discrete Hong Kong identity.Masks marked “made in Hong Kong” have soared in popularity. A local boy band, Mirror, has become a font of hope and pride amid a resurgence in interest in Canto-pop.

Last summer, Herbert Chow, who owns Chickeeduck, a children’s clothing chain, installed a seven-foot figurine of a protester — a woman wearing a gas mask and thrusting a protest flag — and other protest art in his stores.

But Mr. Chow, 57, has come under pressure from his landlords, several of whom have refused to renew his leases. There were 13 Chickeeduck stores in Hong Kong last year; now there are five. He said he was uncertain how long his city could keep resisting Beijing’s inroads.

“Fear — it can make you stronger, because you don’t want to live under fear,” he said. Or “it can kill your desire to fight.”

kagayuzen:The 43rd Traditional Kaga-Yuzen Craft…


The 43rd Traditional Kaga-Yuzen Craft Exhibition

Visiting kimono “Sasane” by Hiroyuki Kikuta

I used yuzen dyeing to depict a pleasant scene in which a gentle breeze is blowing and the sound of bamboo grass can be heard. Although you cannot see them in the kimono, the beautiful bamboos stand tall and dignified even when they are withered, and inside there are bamboos in bloom, which are rarely seen.

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