(I am trying to post when I think of things, even if they don't seem "worthy" of posts, because I want to get back in the habit.)

We took the kids to Wild Kratts Live tonight. Wild Kratts is a PBS show about two brothers who, in bookending live-action segments, meet and talk about wild creatures, and in the animated middle, put on "creature power suits" and fly around in a giant turtle-shaped ship with a tech crew of three saving animals from the obligatory villains. (I have never actually seen an episode all the way through, so this is a rough approximation.) The kids love this, though SteelyKid is starting to go off it a bit, and it must be pretty popular because six weeks ago, the only seats left were literally in the second-to-last-row of the balcony.

Anyway. The show was cheesy but hit all the kid-pleasing notes, and they had a great time. But the thing of note was the end special effect [*], which was the brothers using a "miniaturizer" they'd recovered from the villains: they said they were activating it, fog or lights or something covered their exit, and then when the stage lights came back on, there were stuffed toy versions of the brothers on the stage where they'd been standing. (Which were, of course, for sale outside.)

As the subject line says: SteelyKid (now 6.5) and the Pip (now 3.25) nearly got in a major fight over this, because she saw that they were toys, but he insisted that they'd been miniaturized. Fortunately we were able to distract them before someone started crying over this disagreement.

[*] Prior special effects included "caracal power" of high-jumping using a springboard behind a fake rock, and "orangutan power" of moving through trees by swinging on a big swing coming in from off-stage. Also the process of donning a "creature power suit" was a stage blackout while the actor went off-stage to put on a cloth costume, covered by a super-slow animation on the screen, which made me really grateful for the person who put together all the Iron Man suit sequences into one video to clear the palate.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to listen to something other than the show's theme song to get it out of my head, fold laundry, and then collapse into bed.
Chad desperately needed a break so we enlisted the babysitter and went to see this.

The nice thing about hearing about it from many different avenues is that my expectations were very low and it exceeded them. I honestly cannot say that it is a good movie, but it is less bad than I was expecting—see: very low expectations. I thought I was going to have to force myself to find things to like about it, and in fact I did not, I genuinely enjoyed myself. I think I'm going to go with "delightfully batshit" as my two-word summary.

The thing is, as many non-professional-reviewers have said, it is a straight-up unashamed id-tastic power fantasy for young women. And somewhat along the lines of what [personal profile] metaphortunate has been saying about women's fantasies WRT Fifty Shades, it's hard for me not to see the over-the-top-ness of it being devalued by a lot of critics because it's got a young woman at the center. Putting Fifty Shades aside, because that is a discussion I do not want to host for a number of reasons:

Jupiter Ascending is a secret-heir power fantasy, kitchen-sink variety, with: gorgeously expansive visuals; lots of chase and fight scenes; inexplicable scenery chewing; what I would swear is a Princess Bride homage; good momentum except for an ill-advised bureaucracy parody part-way through (it's only 2:07, which is downright speedy for a Wachowski sibs movie); non-white people who may only be in secondary roles but at least don't die for the white heroes (I wanna be Captain Tsing); and a critique of capitalism that is crashingly unsubtle but is also less insipid than Interstellar's big message. There are way, way worse recipes for a big-budget SFF movie. And, seriously: I did not have to force myself to enjoy it.

SPOILERS )

Trailers:

Ant-Man, which I continue to resent the existence of.

Chappie, which looks like a completely different movie in the new trailer. I'm still not sure it's a movie I want to see (that body language keeps driving me nuts, it's so obviously human-inna-suit), but the difference between that and the first trailer is kind of stunning.

Spy. I am allergic to the kind of comedy that Melissa McCarthy does, as I am to almost all movie comedy, frankly, but I hope she kicks ass in the movie and at the box office.

Run All Night, which looks like a positively loathsome specimen of the Liam Neeson-as-inexplicable-badass subgenre.

Ted 2. I somehow missed the existence of the first movie and I wish that happy state of affairs had continued, as I am fairly sure brain cells died in protest at watching that trailer.

Focus, which is a Will Smith con-man movie, and which I might love or loathe depending on how the tone, treatment of women, etc., shakes out.
This is the one that was a repeat from last year (panel notes), with two repeat panel members, including myself, and a new mod. It's true that the panel was very different because the mod had a very different focus, and I appreciated that difference and that the mod moved immediately to difficult questions, but at the time I wished we'd covered more ground and there was at least one question I thought the panel didn't do well by. I heard mixed opinions from people afterward, as well.

The operative parts of the description were: "Can fanfic writing and QUILTBAG activism potentially intersect? What does it mean that fans of works with cis, straight characters are looking for more variety in the fiction they consume?" And the panel was pretty much about the second part and not on the first.

a few notes )

I don't remember much else; I don't know if "um, it depends" collapses down really small in summary or I'm just forgetting stuff after a long night. But I'd like to brainstorm updated fanfic panel descriptions for next year. Four years ago at WisCon we did Fanfic 401 (operative portion of description: "bisexual invisibility, the erasure and/or marginalization of female characters, authorial intent, trigger warnings, underage audiences, and source problems"), for which I have no notes but which was too overstuffed by far; at Readercon also four years ago we did Borders (if Any) Between Fan Fiction and "Original Fiction", which was way less 101 than I expected; and the year before that, Fanfic as Criticism (Only More Fun), which could probably be less 101 than it was. Do those prompt possible topics? What else: underrepresented identities? The fic we'd like to see (some of us don't write, you know, so we just have to wist in fandom's general direction)? Speculative fiction ways of looking at gender spotted in fanfic? Promote your very fic-able fandom that has canon underrepresented characters and a low barrier to entry?
Since there seemed to be some interest about this in comments, some notes on the panel today (the Hugo reading panel was great, but I don't have a lot to say about it that wasn't said back when voting was happening):

includes spoilers for the most recent completed season )

Okay, that was a lot and now it's nearly time for dinner! What do you all think?

I'm here! I got in last night and was feeling yuck and misanthropic, so I just hid in the room, mainlining the rest of Face Off and stitching. Now I'm going to shower and register and find some breakfast.

Here's my panels:

Saturday 10:00am - The Arisia Book Club: Reading the Hugos — Literature, Panel — 1hr 15min — Marina 2 (2E)

Read this year’s Hugo-winning novel (Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie) and stories (“Equoid” by Charles Stross, “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal, and “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu), and come on down to discuss!

Erik Amundsen, Christopher Davis (m), Elektra Hammond, Kate Nepveu, Jennifer Allis Provost

Saturday 2:30pm - Face Off: The Best Reality Show for Geeks — Media, Panel — 1hr 15min — Marina 4 (2E)

Plenty of geek-oriented reality shows have sprung up in recent years, but few have found the success of SyFy’s Face Off, about to head into its eighth season. With its parade of Oscar and Emmy-award winners as judges and guest judges, some truly entertaining challenges, and incredible insight into the world of make-up and practical f/x, it’s become a huge hit. Join us as we discuss what makes the show work creatively and how it’s changed the way we view special effects.

Mark L Amidon, Resa Nelson, Kate Nepveu (m), Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert

Sunday 2:30pm - Queering Up Canon — Fan Interest, Panel — 1hr 15min — Marina 1 (2E)

Much fanfic has a large interest in QUILTBAG themes. Maybe your fic involves making characters of the same gender fall in love with each other, having a character established as cis turn out to be trans, or asking if Sherlock has never shown any interest in a “proper” Victorian marriage because he’s asexual. Can fanfic writing and QUILTBAG activism potentially intersect? What does it mean that fans of works with cis, straight characters are looking for more variety in the fiction they consume?

Leo D’Entremont (m), Melissa Kaplan, Kate Nepveu, Adrienne J. Odasso, JoSelle Vanderhooft

(Yes, this is a repeat from last year, and yes, I specifically told programming that I'd love to be on it again but that someone else should moderate to keep it from being a retread.)

Sunday 7:00pm - Lawyers in SF/F — Fan Interest, Panel — 1hr 15min — Douglas (3W)

In the early 1990s, veteran SF author Robert J. Sawyer pointed out that lawyers are few and far between in science fiction, and in 1997, law professor Eugene Volokh indicated the same for fantasy. Volokh insists that there’s no inherent contradiction between the legal thriller and the SF/F novel. What’s the reason for this phenomenon? Are the strict structures of the legal system anathema to the open-mindedness that SF/F requires? Or is there some other motivation entirely?

David J. Friedman, Daniel Miller (m), Kate Nepveu, A Joseph Ross

Either I have really bad luck in being scheduled against things or programming's a bit thin this year, but all the more time to browse the dealer's room and art show (which I often don't make it to until the very last day, when it's really too late) and hopefully talk to people!

Arisia

Jan. 6th, 2015 09:46 pm
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 14


Are you coming?

View Answers

Yes!
8 (72.7%)

Maybe.
3 (27.3%)

Ticky?

View Answers

Ticky.
8 (61.5%)

Novel
5 (38.5%)

Novella
4 (30.8%)

Novellette
2 (15.4%)

Short Story
3 (23.1%)



(I still don't have a final schedule, but the draft has me on a discussion about this past year's Hugo fiction winners.)
With spoilers for Broken Homes.

spoilers )
I've just reset SteelyKid's old Nook HD+ tablet. You may have heard me bitch about it, so I can't say it's been a good device, but it does run apps from the Google Play store; does anyone want it? I'll ship it wherever.

(If I get multiple requests by, oh, Tuesday night, I'll ask the RNG.)

My post about The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies went up today at Tor.com.

The new-to-me trailers were:

  • Tomorrowland (IMDB). I recognize that a tried-and-true version of the portal fantasy is going there to discover that you have political agency here, but the way this phrased things I didn't have any faith that it would get to the second step, and so I was really mad.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service (IMDB). Things I could give zero fucks about: a white boy learning he's ~~special~~ in a school that teaches him to wield his talents for violence and rulebreaking on behalf of the state, with the only black face I noticed as the bad guy.
  • San Andreas (IMDB). Nice to see Dwayne Johnson as the lead, but disaster porn isn't my thing.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (IMDB). Well, I suspect it realizes how ridiculous it is?

I'm getting my Yuletide recs up early this year! . . . by which I mean earlier than last year, by a whole two days. (Well, it was the 21st before I started reworking my organization scheme on the fly and His Pipliness needed soothing back to sleep, twice. Close enough.) But these are still recs for last year's Yuletide.

Despite the timing, these are all pre-reveal recs: I clipped everything that looked vaguely interesting into Evernote and read it that way, with "anonymous" listed as every author. (In fact I am cutting and pasting so fast now that I am not even registering the author half the time . . . ) There are 59 of these, if my tag count in Evernote is correct, so they are broken down into cut-tagged categories for your convenience; there are headers inside that match the cut-tags for skimming purposes. I am sorry for the lack of detailed discussion, but I hope the headers and my comments give you an idea of whether you want to read the story anyway. Feel free to comment if you'd like more information.

Anime & Movies: Brave, Disney Princesses, E.T., Galaxy Quest, Out of Sight, The Princess Bride, Princess Tutu (2) )

TV: Endeavour, Elementary (4), Fraggle Rock, The Middleman (4), Twin Peaks )

Books: Code Name Verity, Cotillion, Doctrine of Labyrinths, Emelan (Circle series) (2), Five Hundred Kingdoms, Gentleman Bastards (2) )

Books: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2), Lady's Not for Burning, Lymond Chronicles (2), Mageworlds, Mary Russell )

Books: Miss Marple, Nero Wolfe, The Outsiders, Pern, Queen's Thief, Rivers of London (3), Robot (Asimov) )

Books: Temeraire, Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, Tortall (Immortals), The Westing Game (3), The Wheel of Time, Young Wizards )

Comics: A-Babies v. X-Babies, Batwoman, Calvin & Hobbes (2), Gunnerkrigg Court )

Miscellaneous: A Dark Room (game), 'Jolene' (song), Minesweeper, Space Vehicles anthropomorphic )

Multi-crossover: Gravity + various )

Remember, if you like a story, please at least hit "kudos," or leave a comment if you can! No need for an AO3 account.

Everything I draft in my head about what I think is either too much or not enough, so have a few links:

The National Lawyers Guild, which is providing legal support to protesters in Ferguson and elsewhere

25 Activities Black People Should Avoid Around Cops: "Don't . . . and maybe they won't kill you."

Ferguson Action, with links to rallies around the country

Tips for Planning A Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Against Police Brutality (disclaimer: this seems sensible and thorough to me, but I've no experience to measure it against)

12 things white people can do now because Ferguson (lots of links to history, context)

. . . there's more, but I am taking two small children on a plane tomorrow and it is irresponsible of me to be awake right now.
I'd watched the first half of last season more-or-less in real time and as a result have forgotten most of it that wasn't carried through the back half. I caught up with the rest mostly by just listening while stitching, since S3 has started, and now I'm actually, shockingly, up-to-date on that as well.

indiscriminate spoilers for S2 )

and now for S3 )
Reviews and links over at Sindbad Sci-Fi. This expires at 11:59 p.m. today but I'm not clear on time zones. Change the links to .com or .ca as appropriate.
Sorry about the links being universally Twitter redirects, I didn't save them at the time and Tumblr won't auto-expand them to copy, rather than to hover.

lots of cute animal links )

Bonus: inspirational words from a great white shark: http://t.co/kCcnxwlEoD
Through 9:00 p.m. tomorrow night, I will be posting cute animals hourly at [twitter.com profile] katenepveu for #WOCCheckingOut (yay, scheduled tweets). So, especially women of color in SFF, if now is a good time for you to check out of the Internet, there's something for you to look at instead. Follow/mute/whatever as appropriate. Thanks to [personal profile] jhameia for the idea and hashtag.
Chad is putting together a grant proposal to hold a science workshop for SF writers to learn about quantum mechanics, along the lines of the Launch Pad astronomy workshop—housing and food included, and some travel support too. If that sounds something at all of interest to you, please fill out his survey so he can prove to the grant committee that such a workshop would actually get used? Thanks!
I deliberately avoided finding out much about Interstellar because a while ago I suggested to Chad that we get a babysitter and go see it, as a much-needed break. Here's my verdict.

It's science fiction that's worth seeing if (a) you want to be up on the state of the genre; (b) you like Nolan's visuals and/or space; (c) you really really like sarcastic robots or Jessica Chastain's face, which are small but notable parts of the movie; or (d) you have a high tolerance for at least one plot hole you could drive a truck through and what I am too tired to find a tactful way to call something other than mystical twaddle. (Chad's term, not mine, though he liked it better than I did.) Also a lot of time, because holy fuck, it's long.

so, so many SPOILERS )

Trailers:

Selma (IMDB). I have literally no idea if this is a good trailer because almost the moment it started I was digging my nails into my hands to keep from bursting into tears out of all the present-day resonances. At least it's being made by Oprah Winfrey's company, i.e., not by white people.

The Gambler (IMDB). I have insufficient space to describe the ways in which this is repellent to me.

Chappie (IMDB). The robot's body language is too obviously a human in a suit, and it just doesn't look fresh, which is a disappointment from the District 9 director.

Furious 7 (IMDB). You should watch this trailer, because it has an objectively ridiculous but really fun heist in the first half and a shot that is a literal row of pretty brown people.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (IMDB). If you care about this, you've already seen it and my feelings about it.

Exodus: Gods and Kings (IMDB). WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG. (Also, please tell me that subtitle doesn't mean it's the start of a series.)

Mockingjay - Part 1 (IMDB). I love you, Katniss! Which makes me very afraid for this movie, but I'll see it anyway.

(I think that's all. I didn't take notes but I went forward through the IMDB's forthcoming pages looking for things I recognized. It was also a lot of trailers.)

Revised from a comment I posted a while ago (in the last thread on the first page of comments here), prompted by tomorrow's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell post (no, really! Cross-stitching, slash, and a man wearing a ship on his head, all coming to a Tor.com near you.). Someone asked if I'd taught myself to cross-stitch, and I said I had when I was a kid: "Pretty much your threshold for 'looks good!' is 'all stitches go in the same direction' and 'no big lumpy knots on the back,' so it's pretty simple. => There are bunches of tips for making it look _great_ to close inspection, but start with the basics and see if you like it."

Here are the basics that I came up with on the fly, slightly cleaned up. )

Questions? Disagreements? Demand for a 201+ discussion? (I was planning to save that until my next finish, or at least until I need advice on it, honestly, but we can set up a dedicated comment thread here if you all want.)

Very sorry to hear that Tom Magliozzi, the one who laughed all the time on Car Talk, has died. I have actually three different pretty strong associations with Car Talk, which is impressive considering that I've never done anything more with a car than add windshield wiper fluid. First, the two years in New Haven when Chad was doing a post-doc and I was in law school; NPR was his alarm clock station and whichever morning Car Talk was on, was timed perfectly for lazy weekend waking-up. (Especially as they've moved into re-runs, the show's occasional but very tired sexism has become more grating to me, so it's weird to have my principal association be soft-focus romantic contentment.) Second, around about SteelyKid's birth I went back to listening to the show, this time as a podcast, and blitzed my way through quite the backlog up in the nursery with her (this association is less strong because I was so out of it during that time). And third, continuing up to the present day, I start my week with Click and Clack: the podcast is released over the weekend, and I default to listening to it on Monday's commute to and from work. In fact, I did that today, but I came home early (more on that in a moment) and had already finished it when I heard the news.

I have spent literally hundreds of hours listening to these guys. I knew what I was hearing was exaggerated personas, but I still enjoyed their company. And hey, their show taught me enough that I knew to take my car in for service for what turned out to be a bad wheel bearing, before the wheel actually fell off: so it was useful too.

The reason I was coming home early is SteelyKid had a tooth out today (she's fine) and Chad had class. But irresponsible though it would have been, I would have been not-so-secretly happy to stay home with her the whole day, because we realized a little bit ago this was the perfect opportunity to show her The Princess Bride for the first time—it's too scary for the Pip—and it was done by the time I got home. I asked her about it after the bleeding stopped and her mood improved (both of which happened at the same time, almost like flipping a switch; it was incredibly bizarre though of course welcome), and we agreed that Wesley's head flopping around on the castle wall was very funny, as was when the Prince got tied up; she also liked Fezzik and the horses, and "the ninja" (the Man in Black) fighting, but thought the Machine was too loud, especially when it went to 50. Chad tells me that Fred Savage's character was a note-perfect stand-in for her, not that this was a surprise; and that she spotted the Man in Black as a good guy right away, which is interesting. I'm sorry I didn't get to see her face—I'm calling dibs on showing it to the Pip now, though we'll have to do it solo so SteelyKid doesn't spoil it all for him—but now I'm flashing back to countless weekends watching it on UHF in my childhood, and feeling warm and fuzzy that I've passed along something so great to her. (Also feeling like a rewatch is due; I know what I'm putting on during stitching the next couple of sessions.)

February 2015

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