me: "Can I put that on my resume -- that I did a fucking awesome wedding?"
Icon chosen because this wedding involves unsheathed swords. It really is going to be awesome. 😊
iDAMN iHATE iTunes
(I'd somehow created dup music folders. Good thing I only have ~2000 songs or my poor drive would have keeled. If you use a Mac and ever have to delete more than 50 iTunes duplicates, do yourself a favor and spend $8 for Dupin Lite 2 from this Apple store link.)
It's like Apple's software division has no overall UX chief. Almost every bit of software is uniquely annoying. If you use an Apple device, what's the software you hate most right now?
(Can I have Eudora back?) Speaking of which, recognize my icon?
The second messaging tool is what we call the “CMP” (Consumer Messaging Platform). The CMP will allow us to message our users directly in their browser with product announcements, promotions, and other appropriate notifications. This messaging system and can be turned off at any time by accessing the advanced tab of the options menu.
A.k.a. ads. No such thing as a free lunch.
What can I tell you? This weekend I am getting a visit from one of my favorite people in the universe, and that is making me incredibly happy. I remind myself a lot that I am incredibly lucky to love so many people, even though many of them (many of you) live far away, but sometimes distance sucks.
Tomorrow I will be taking said friend to a local pond with a sandy beach, where we will (presumably) swim and lounge and perhaps make sandcastles with Mr. Kid. I am considering bringing juice boxes for Mr. Kid and small box-wine boxes for the grownups. This amuses me maybe more than it should.
Also, I am slowly but surely reading the third book in the Lunar Chronicles and I am totally digging it.
I think that's all the news I've got. How are y'all?
Shabbat shalom to all who celebrate!
I ended my last Publishing Journey post about going on submission to publishers on an annoying cliffhanger, in part because the post was getting a bit long, but also because I wanted this post, about selling the book, to be the last one before the book comes out in the US. Never let it be said that I have not been straight-up with you!
As I mentioned at the end of my last post, at the end of the six-week period my agent had set, I got an email from her mentioning almost quite casually that an editor had confirmed that they were going to offer for the book. Whatever happened, the book was going to have a home. That was when I knew it was going to be published after all and I had not lived and fought in vain.
It felt weird, to be honest. I suffer from “feelings never match up to occasion”itis (there must be some clever German word for this), which means that I’m perpetually bored, distracted or hungry at significant emotional moments. I always admire people who cry at weddings: so clever of them to know to have the right feelings at the right time. One of the reasons I like books so much is that they tell you what feelings to have when. Also if you don’t cry at a sad or touching scene, it’s the author’s fault, not yours!
So I read the email a few times, felt a bit worried for no real reason, and went on with my day.
A few days later Caitlin emailed again to say that she had set an auction date and would I like to have a call, because surely I must have questions by then.( Read the rest of this entry » )
Mirrored from Zen Cho.
How to play May I* (the H. family rules**):
1. 2 sets
2. 1 set, 1 sequence
3. 2 sequences
4. 3 sets
5. 2 sets, 1 sequence (12 cards)
6. 1 set, 2 sequences (12 cards)
7. 3 sequences, no discard (i.e., all the cards in your hand must fit into a sequence somewhere, you cannot throw anything on the discard pile; when someone does this, it ends the game) (12 cards)
A set is three (or more) of a kind; a sequence is a straight flush in poker terms - at least four cards in numerical order of the same suit. You cannot save two sequences of the same suit in the same hand. You cannot turn the corner (i.e., queen, king, ace, deuce) but you can use the ace as a high card (jack, queen, king, ace) or a low card (ace, two, three, four). You can also have more than four cards in a sequence, but you need at least four, and they always need to be in order and of the same suit.
You deal 10 cards for the first 4 hands, then 12 cards for the last three. A player can say May I for the newest card on the discard pile; if someone ahead of them wants the card, that person can say no, but if they do, they must take it themselves, plus the penalty card if it's not their turn. Otherwise, they have to let the person who asked take it (plus a penalty card). (You don't have to take a penalty card to pick the top card from the discard pile if it's your turn - that's just your regular pick-up. Also, if a card has been May-I'd, the card beneath it on the discard pile is not active - no one can May I for what was beneath it.)
Once you've laid your sets/sequences on the table, you can't May I anymore, and unless it's your turn, you can't stop someone else (e.g., if someone threw out something you could pick up and put on one of your sequences or sets, you can do that, but if the card is just random, you shouldn't say no). Once you've laid your cards down, you can add appropriate cards from your hand to other people's sets/sequences, or your own, during your turn. This is the way you get rid of extra cards in your hand.
The goal in each hand is to get rid of your cards as quickly as possible after you've laid down your sets/sequences, or to be caught with the fewest amount of points possible when someone else goes out. Number cards are all worth 5 points except for the 10. Tens and face cards are worth ten points. Aces are worth 15 points, and jokers are worth 25 points.
We always played with at least two decks, and left all jokers in, as they make the game more exciting. Jokers in straights can be replaced by the correct card, with the joker then being used elsewhere by the person who played the correct card, but that can only happen once you've put your cards down, and also they have to be played on that turn - you can't keep it in your hand for later (I can't imagine why you'd want to - that's 25 points!) You can add a third deck in the later hands if necessary.
You count up the cards in everybody's hands at the end of each hand and add them up to keep score. The one with the lowest score at the end wins.
You can also play this with two people, but the May I aspect is absent except for the first turn of every hand. Hours of fun for the whole family.
*It's a variation on some version of rummy, the formal name of which google tells me is contract rummy.
**My father's family also played a version but it was more restrictive and also included betting [which I never understood], but I never played that way - that was strictly for their monthly poker nights.
- recent reading
Tanya Huff. Fifth Quarter. This is #2 in some series whose first volume is Sing the Four Quarters and whose third volume is No Quarter; I don't think I've read #1 and I definitely haven't read #3, although I want to. (I've been informed that #1 is skippable.)
Fifth Quarter takes place in a well-worked out fantasy setting where Bards can sing "quarters" (the kigh, or spirits, of the four elements respond to each corresponding quarter)--in particular, in an empire with a well-organized (and well-researched) army.
Vree and Bannon are sister and brother military assassins, trained, unusually, to work together; most assassins work alone. The two are very deadly, have a rather codependent relationship, and to top things off, Vree (the protagonist) is battling attraction to her brother. (This is not even subtext. It's very clearly text.)
Things take a turn for the worse/hilarious when they go to assassinate an aged governor--who turns out to be a body-hopper, Gyhard, and who takes over Bannon's body to survive. Bannon manages to hop into Vree's body as a last resort. Gyhard and Vree-Bannon end up traveling together, the latter hoping for a chance to shove Gyhard out and restore Bannon's body to him, the former hoping to upgrade to an even better body--that of a prince whom Vree and Bannon, as army assassins, are sworn to protect. The question of who will prevail first becomes even more complicated when it turns out that Gyhard has information on another threat to the empire, a rogue bard who's going around raising the dead.
This is a fun romp that's both hilarious and melodramatic by turns, with some serious thematic material on the importance of different kinds of family and togetherness. The worldbuilding is very solid, with great details, and beyond that, it's a fast, entertaining read. Recommended.
- recent art
Thanks to telophase's pointer I signed up for Schoolism's online video art lectures; they also have some (rapidly-filled) slots for individual instruction with feedback videos but I can't afford those. :p With the $144/year plan, you can sign up for one course and go through it at your own pace, then spend $1 at any time to switch to another course. I'm currently going through a five-lesson course, Drawing Fundamentals with Thomas Fluharty, because I am pretty much self-taught and I figured I ought to start with the basics. I'm hoping to get to Gesture Drawing or Fundamentals of Character Design next, if I make it that far.
Lesson 1 of Drawing Fundamentals is about learning to see and breaking down what you want into basic shapes, something that I somehow managed not to grasp despite reading a zillion how-to art books for beginners talking about this. It really is easier with a video talking me through. :p Fluharty goes through an example with a dog, then has you accompany him with a frog, and then assigns you a giraffe, which is pure evil because my God all those spots. ( exercises )
Holy shit, guys, it's been two years since I sang I Wanna Be Sedated and went on my merry way to NO BOOB LAND.
I still cannot even express just how amazing this has been. Flat Chest is wonderful. Things aren't hurting! Things aren't constantly in the way! I can take them off. I can go run errands and decide, you know what, I am not going to put on my boobs today. It's really nice. There isn't all this weight hanging off my chest, getting in the way, being annoying, hurting, trying to kill me, etc. It's so nice in the summer, it's really great.
This has been life-changing and wonderful and I really just lack the words to describe how great it's all been, except to say I would do it again, and I highly recommend this to anyone for whom it is relevant.
Anyway, the best fake-boob-related story to come out of this year:
So, the thing is, one of the constants of life are announcements/e-mails that someone took the wrong coat from the shul coat room. My entire life, always and forever. Well, since my shabbos clothes don't have pockets, because institutional sexism in the fashion industry, my keys are usually in my coat pockets. And my coats aren't usually of the type that someone might mistake for their own, except for a couple of coats that are. And I would assume and hope that someone would put a coat on and check the pockets and all that.
But since when has being sensible and rational ever worked for me? I've got a shitton of anxiety and depression, I fucking panic.
Now, way back when, pre-reduction, I could fit EVERYTHING ON THE PLANET into my bra and you'd never notice. There were times I'd put both my keyring, with all my keys, and my cell phone in my bra, with no one the wiser. I think I even shoved my wallet in there a few times, too.
People joke about the bra pocket? Well, my bras now ACTUALLY HAVE POCKETS.
There isn't much you can fit in there without it being obvious, although I really haven't tried to see the limits. But I have now taped my apartment key to the back of one of the breast forms. (The other one currently has an Emergency Card on it with my medical history, because naturally, if I have a medical emergency, someone will go through my camisole and take the breast forms out and then look at it to see my medical history and emergency contacts, this just makes sense, it's obvious)
This means there is now metal in my bra.
In December, I got a CT scan of my head and neck. I asked what I should take off, and I was told not to take my top off. And then I'm in the CT and all and then the technician stops it and tells me the CT is picking up metal in my "chest pocket". And I was like "..." "..." "..." "you told me not to strip to the waist" and "this is head/neck and something at boob level is getting into the scan, you could have mentioned that". And then I had to manage to get the offending object out of my clothes with one hand having an IV in it. Which I successfully did, go me.
So that was lolarious.
And anyway, that's been my year! Still totally awesome, now with added Confusion To The Machines!
The rest of the issue is small, but very sound. Go read all of them!
1. Raising a Mets fan, a blog post by Jennifer Meer.
The money quote:
There are many things I treasure about loving and raising a Mets fan. I love their distinctly curmudgeonly outlook on life tinged with a reluctant yet persistent belief in what's possible. I love their under doggedness. Being a Mets fan (and similarly loving them) means you know all too well that many times the story does not end the way you want. But it doesn't change your ability to believe in the happy ending, no matter how much you hide that belief.
Six and a half games up on the Nats at the end of August! And then of course reality sets in. #the existential futility of being a mets fan
2. The Legend of Korra: Deliberately Deconstructed by beccatoria, which is a fascinating look at all four seasons of LoK:
When The Legend of Korra finished, late last year, I was left with the strange sense that I had watched a show completely, and deliberately, dismantle itself. Much was made of that final iconic shot of Korra and Asami leaving for the Spirit World, in what was, honestly, the queerest “platonic” moment I've seen on television since Xena managed to stage a PG-rated dance-orgy. It was (to its credit) both obvious and unavoidable, but it was also the capstone to a much wider-ranging set of choices designed to destabilise accepted narratives. This would be worthy of exploration under any circumstance, but I feel it is particularly fascinating given how much of it appears to be in direct reaction to the events of Book One: Air. While I've seen countless shows begin with promise, only to fall foul of hegemonic expectations, I'm not sure I've ever seen one begin carelessly and then spend three seasons systematically and critically dismantling its initial premise.
And here is some excellent meta about how bending has changed between AtLA and LoK, and also across the seasons of LoK, and how that illustrated story and character development: Jings and Other Things: How Combat Informs Character, Cultural Progress, and Vice Versa by progmanx (note: the post is heavy on gifs).
(okay, it's actually four links, but on two subjects. no really, I can count.)
(Moss of Moonlight are now Felled and have a new side project. I recommend.)
2. The fuzzy nautilus is not extinct! I do not think I had known that Allonautilus scrobiculatus existed prior to this article, but I'm very glad it does. I hope it continues to. Those are beautiful animals.
3. I realize that these archaeological windfalls have caused the city of Istanbul so much construction tsuris that The New Yorker cannot resist invoking Boston's Big Dig, but who says history doesn't have a sense of humor?
In fact, a tiny Byzantine church did turn up in Yenikapı, under the foundations of some razed apartment buildings. But the real problem was the large number of Byzantine shipwrecks that began to surface soon after the excavation began, in 2004. Dating from the fifth to the eleventh century, the shipwrecks illustrated a previously murky chapter in the history of shipbuilding and were exceptionally well preserved, having apparently been buried in sand during a series of natural disasters.
In accordance with Turkish law, control of the site shifted to the museum, and use of mechanical tools was suspended. From 2005 to 2013, workers with shovels and wheelbarrows extracted a total of thirty-seven shipwrecks. When the excavation reached what had been the bottom of the sea, the archeologists announced that they could finally cede part of the site to the engineers, after one last survey of the seabed—just a formality, really, to make sure they hadn't missed anything. That's when they found the remains of a Neolithic dwelling, dating from around 6000 B.C.
The shipwrecks are wondrous to me. The article asks some worthwhile questions.
4. I like George Mackay Brown's poetry wherever I find it and "The Horse Fair" is no exception. I still need to track down a recording of Peter Maxwell Davies' The Kestrel Road (2003); it sets two of my favorite poems that are not "John Barleycorn."
5. This gemstone looks like the start of a story: the god Pan studying a dramatic mask. I keep forgetting that he has anything to do with Greek theater. I imagine him the kind of critic who throws things and heckles. God of fields and wild spaces, also the peanut gallery.
Autolycus has draped himself over the arm of my office chair and is patting at the screen with one paw. I am not sure if he's reacting to the movement of the cursor or the world's cutest sea slug. derspatchel calls it the Shaun the Sheep Slug. My favorite may remain either Nembrotha cristata or Stiliger ornatus. Yes, I'm still missing the sea.
Max Gladstone. Three Parts Dead. The Craft Sequence #1. (I first read #3, Full Fathom Five. Please don't spoil me for later books even though I read out of sequence!)
This is part urban fantasy, part magical legal thriller, following Tara Abernathy as she pursues revenge against a magical ("Craft) teacher with devious plans and a priest, Abelard, whose god may have been assassinated for reasons that may go deeper than they know. I have say that as a former energy market intelligence analyst, the paragraph that made me swoon in pure geeky love was the one on how times of day, season, etc. cause differences in power draw because something very like that was my job. (I didn't have to understand the technical details of how the power plants worked, just basics like: nobody ramps up a nuke plant for two hours of demand, that stuff is strictly baseline generation, you use GTs for that because they spin up on a dime, etc. etc.) Gladstone is really, really clever about drawing all the plot strands together--I found the jigsaw-piecing multiply satisfying.
- recent dance!
Today was East Coast Swing Beginners' #2. It started with review and the new thing was getting both turn in and turn out for underarm turn. Twirl! Twirl! I had trouble with it last time but got the hang of it this time. I can sometimes see people logicking their way through choreographed/etc. movements in classes like this, and I can't do it that way at all. For me the only thing that works is bloody bullheaded repetition until it burns into muscle memory. And then once I have it, I can't actually explain it. It's there but I can't do it in words at all. It's like my body and whatever part of my brain does words don't talk to each other at all.
But anyway, it was fun! We did rotations for the first time and it was super. I am starting to be able to tell the difference in how people lead but not really how to tell skill levels. (Some people have had a little dance experience, and of course everyone learns at different rates. I'm pretty sure I'm a moderately terrible follow!) I was complimented on my Clockwork Scent Locket from Black Phoenix Trading Post. :) It''s the only jewelry I wear and I get compliments on it--I've always loved the piece myself, to the point where I basically stopped acquiring necklace-y things after Joe bought it for me, because I knew I wasn't going to wear anything else.
(We lost our wedding rings within a year of the wedding, but since we spent about $40 total on them and they were just tokens for the ceremony, whatever. I'm prone to losing rings anyway. And I still have the Joe. That's a win.)
The music we practiced to was faster this time but it was fun!
I need to put together a music-to-practice-swing-to playlist for home, although I don't really have swing-style music, just a bunch of stuff that happens to be in common time.
So as far as I can tell the jitterbug thing we've been doing is 4/4 + 2/4 = 6/4. V. mentioned that lesson #4 we do triple-step swing and that will mess us up. My conjecture is that it will be some form of 3/4 + 3/4 = 6/4, still to common time, for a whole new hemiola experience, but that's just conjecture. I'll find out when we get there. =)
- recent viewing
Gangsta 1.2. ( Read more... )
Gargoyles 2.3-2.4. ( Read more... )
Anyway, I mention this because one of the things I most appreciated about Alastair Reynolds' Blue Remembered Earth is the fact that it's a post-climate change novel that manages to be optimistic bout it. Reynolds' nearish-future could very easily have been a cyberpunkish dystopia -- civilization was nearly destroyed by unstoppable climate events! now there's an all-knowing panopticon that has everyone under surveillance all the time to prevent antisocial behavior! humans are undergoing dramatic genetic manipulation, like, ALL THE TIME! -- but instead, you know, humans are adaptable, they just keep rolling with it, North America and Europe are kind of irrelevant but Kenya is the one of the world's biggest economic powers now, that's cool! This is all actually very encouraging to read, so thank you, Alastair Reynolds.
The actual plot of Blue Remembered Earth is basically a sort of treasure hunt undertaken by two disaffected scions of a wealthy family of Kenyan industrialists -- Sunday, who's gone off to be a starving Bohemian artist in the surveillance-free Descrutinized Zone on the Moon, and Geoffrey, who uses his family's grant funds to do REALLY IN-DEPTH studies of elephants -- when they discover that their dead grandmother, brilliant explorer/entrepreneur/adventurer Eunice Akinya, has left them a set of CLUES scattered across the solar system.
Eunice Akinya -- cranky, brilliant, eccentric, and mostly represented in this book by a computer construct that Sunday's whipped up as a kind of bizarre coming-to-terms-with-your-famous-grandmo
That said, the worldbuilding is really fun and there's clearly a lot of thought put into it, and I can definitely see why setsthingsright has been trying to sell me on Alastair Reynolds for years. I will probably be reading the sequels!
I also just finished Kate Elliott's Court of Fives, which is billed by the author as "Little Women meets American Ninja Warrior", and that's just spot-on, though I would add the clause "in Ancient Egypt". The lead character is believably self-absorbed and naive about politics; her sisters are well-drawn and distinctive, the cultural setting is fascinating, the magic pretty creepy, the big set pieces exciting and vivid. My only dissatisfaction is that I find the male romantic lead dull as a stump and far prefer the angry revolutionary. But then (aside from Jaran) I don't read Elliott for her romances, and she's just so good at everything else I don't care if the romance isn't entirely believable.
Currently Reading: erm. Nothing, since I finished the Elliott last night.
Next up: Probably Atul Gawande's Being Mortal. Or something else on my Kindle, on the plane on Friday. And next week Updraft comes out, and I'll grab that.
(Naturally I think flying to the right would look better because if they flew to the left they would be flying into the closet instead of out the window)
Sent from my Apple ][e
Roland Sussex and Paul V. Cubberley, eds., The Slavic Languages (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2005): well, I've read the two overview chapters and parts of other overviewish material. I doubt they'll stick, whereas I've read nearly all of the similar volumes for Korean and for Japanese/Ryukyuan/Ainu. Funny to think that Japanese examples make better sense to me than Slavic ones, since I've had a smidge of heritage Russian since early childhood, but tv and a bunch of other linguistic acquaintance have helped with analytical framework-slotting. That's by way of saying that I have no idea how well or poorly the Slavic volume has been written and assembled. Onwards.
K. M. Tremills, Messenger (2013): scooted up to 15%, halted. There's a teenager who likes sentence fragments. And artificial emphasis. Via an abundance of full stops. She protests the coming of the dark and isn't sure whether to embrace her precog Messenger destiny till she meets Astriel
Michael C. Howard and Kim Be Howard, Textiles of the Central Highlands of Vietnam (2002): includes a short, dense historical overview of the peninsula. Geographic orientation is by linguistic communities, which invites questions about one-way or mutual influence which the writers don't answer. Interesting and for the most part over my head: I can't fake my way through comparative weaving practices. Seems useful.
( Did we manage to eat out? )
Also, there was this thing with Amazon yesterday, which turned out well today...
( Read more... )
Anyway, if you are in any way in a position in some man's life to make gentle suggestions about his cologne, advise them to put on even less than they think is the least amount necessary. My sinuses will thank you.
What I'm reading Wednesday:
What I've just finished
The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble, which is a fairy tale-like story of Clara and her sister, Maren, who is slowly becoming the mermaid she's always been meant to be. Which is a problem because they live on a mountain in Pennsylvania, far from the sea. This is a little different from what I expected, less rollicking and more melancholy, and also Clara, for being the narrator and protagonist, really should have been fleshed out more. While we get a sense of her as the very prim and proper sister, since Maren is the flirty adventurous one, she (Clara, I mean) only really talks about things she doesn't approve of, not things she actually really likes. I mean, besides story-telling beside the fire with warm mugs of cocoa. Like, that's lovely, but who doesn't love that? There's nothing about her own desires (except for the boy she's in love with), what she wants to do with her life after her sister returns to the sea etc. Also ( spoiler ) So there is some animal harm, and also stereotypical use of traveling players. I thought it was a slight but enjoyable read.
The Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas, which is all the tragic backstory for the book I'm reading now. I enjoyed it, though someone more qualified than I will have to discuss whether/how badly Thomas handles 19c. China, and I could have read a lot more of Amah training Ying-Ying and Leighton's adventures with the spinster sisters, and a lot less of Leighton's miserable childhood with his evil uncle. *hands*
What I'm reading now
My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas, which is the historical romance part of the story, with Leighton and Ying-Ying meeting in London after having known and loved each other briefly elsewhere years before. I'm enjoying it.
I'm also rereading Maskerade, but I find all the stuff about how fat Agnes is a real downer, so it's slow going.
What I'm reading next
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky became available from the library, so that'll be next.
And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II by Evelyn Monahan is terrific, except I wish the occasional anecdotes were a little less like well-worn sepia photographs tucked in amongst the facts. I am sure there is more life and significant detail in those stories than is appearing on the page. Or maybe there was, once, and it was lost through repetition. I think most are coming from letters, which would have been self-censored. I need to check the bibliography.
I'm still thinking about this short poem in Strange Horizons: Lola By Gabby Reed.
Best fanfiction of the week was a really lovely Scarlet Witch story, all about grief and recovery. Set post-Age of Ultron. Pour Back The Ocean by imperfectcircle.
At first the story looks like a simple cautionary tale: the terrifying ease with which a Cinderella romance can turn into a Bluebeard marriage. Despite his brusque manner and his contemptuous affections, ex-carhop and recent charm school graduate Leonora Eames (Barbara Bel Geddes) allows herself to accept a proposal of marriage from high-powered businessman Smith Ohlrig (Robert Ryan), because he's worth ninety million and how do you say no to that? No sooner are the wedding headlines yesterday's news than the reality of Leonora's situation sets in: her husband is a chilly, controlling, volatile man who gets his philosophy straight from Ayn Rand; he views every interaction as a transaction and despises his wife for marrying him, because her acquiescence only proves that he met her asking price. He only married her to spite his psychiatrist.1 Very sensibly, she flees Ohlrig's cavernous rococo mansion and takes a job as a receptionist in an East Side clinic where she forms a friendship with unfazeable obstetrician Dr. Hoffman (Frank Ferguson) and something closer with his partner Dr. Larry Quinada (James Mason), an idealistic dropout from the upper middle class still figuring out what a bedside manner looks like. "I'm a very good textbook doctor," he admits after his underestimation of an anxious mother risks a child's life; he's tactless and prone to mansplaining, but we are encouraged to view him sympathetically in part because the film consistently calls him on it and he actually learns. He's the obvious romantic hero. He can't quite understand why Leonora is shy of him, especially when the mutual attraction is as plain as the smile on her face. Inevitably he proposes to her, but she's still married to Ohlrig and there's an additional catch . . .
This is almost exactly the two-thirds mark of the film, by which point it had taken several turns neither of us was expecting. I wasn't even expecting the main characters, honestly. Turn the trope kaleidoscope a little and Smith Ohlrig could be the alpha hero of a billionaire romance, wealthy, workaholic, control-freakish and ultimately vulnerable—but he exists in the real world, and so he's an abusive asshole. He gives a touching speech about the hardship of his upbringing in which we learn that his father only left him four million, he had to bootstrap the rest: "I didn't drink it away, I didn't gamble it away, I didn't marry it away . . . That's what everyone wants, isn't it? Well, I've got it. And I made it myself." When he can't get what he wants by social leverage or main force of money, he suffers apparent life-threatening nervous attacks that he attributes to "a bad heart." The aptness of his words bypasses him completely. He needs either to own people or destroy them. As Skygiants pointed out, the film is a primer on the ways in which a relationship can be abusive without physical violence. Ohlrig never lays a hand on Leonora. He doesn't need to, when he controls her finances and her social access. He calls his wife his highest-paid employee, treats her as if she's a prostitute not worth her price; he humiliates her in public and private and holds the simultaneous lure and threat of a divorce over her head, freedom if she complies with him, ruin if she doesn't. And over and over again, he browbeats her with the reminder that she only married him for his money—an accusation that Leonora protests whether she hears it sneeringly from Ohlrig or uncomprehendingly from Quinada. We never see her think of herself as a gold digger. She's reluctant to accept even a party invitation from Ohlrig's slithery factotum Franzi (Curt Bois) because it makes her feel "cheap"; it's her roommate who advised her to put herself through charm school, in order to equip herself with the proper graces to land a rich husband, but Leonora's daydreams are romantic: Prince Charming discovering her at the perfume counter.2 Each stage of her attempts at self-improvement, from the aggressively socialized, self-effacing femininity of charm school to her new job as a department store model that requires her to display herself and a $4995 mink coat equally, reinforces the idea that she's a piece of interchangeable merchandise. What she wants is to be loved for herself, not the glaze of nicely mannered passivity she's been taught to put on like a beauty mark over the small mole on her cheek. But the entire weight of societal expectation is against her and the compromise she makes, in order to marry an industrial tycoon without feeling like she's sold herself, is to convince herself she's in love.
I am fascinated by the film's willingness to star a heroine this ambivalent and, for lack of a better word, implicated in the system she's trying to resist. She's more sympathetic if she's a "good" girl, isn't she? She's more realistic if she's not. And the film rewards her throughout with a sympathetic sensitivity that didn't shock me after The Reckless Moment, but still found ways to surprise me. Her marriage has wounded her in ways I don't think I've often seen depicted onscreen. There's a beautifully observed moment early in her relationship with Quinada in which he drapes the surprise overcoat he's bought for her—after she told him not to; he thought she just didn't want to be a bother—around her shoulders and she freezes utterly. It is not pleasant for her to have men buy her things. It does not make her feel like a valued colleague or even an affectionate friend; it reminds her that she's trapped in a toxic economy where she is expected to reciprocate a material down payment with her body. She knows what Quinada means by the gesture; it's a trigger all the same. That's like Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) levels of unspoken attention to the small details of surviving abuse.3 And once again I can't talk about the aspect of the film that really interested me without spoilers, so proceed at your own risk as usual.
( He can't hold her now. She's free. )
I know I am shortchanging Quinada, when Mason does a very good job with his first American role and one of his rare positive leading men. It is crucial to the film that neither Ophüls nor his scriptwriter Arthur Laurents positions him as an unmitigated hero; he is Leonora's ally and would-be lover, but he's not her savior, and he has perhaps even more trouble disentangling himself from absently sexist, heteronormative habits of thought than she does. She is not rescued from one man by another. With his background playing charismatic antiheroes for Gainsborough, Mason has the ability to acknowledge the problems with Quinada while making him believably appealing. He's complicit, too, but he's trying. I'm not at all surprised that Ophüls gave him an even better part in The Reckless Moment, morally shadier and even more attractive. That's a film I recommend for Mason; this one I recommend for Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Ryan, and Ophüls' awkwardly paced but astonishing confrontation with all the things wrong with being a woman in America, in 1949 and nowadays. Since I have said nothing at all about the cinematography, which is magnificent and pointed, as effective and conspicuous as a good prose style, I leave you with Mason's last word on the subject, written after two films with the director:
I think I know the reason why
Producers tend to make him cry.
Inevitably they demand
Some stationary set-ups, and
A shot that does not call for tracks
Is agony for poor dear Max,
Who, separated from his dolly,
Is wrapped in deepest melancholy.
Once, when they took away his crane,
I thought he'd never smile again.
This study courtesy of my steadfast backers at Patreon.
1. Ohlrig's psychiatrist is a magnificent human being played by Art Smith who is obviously not being paid enough to listen to this self-justifying Randian bullshit. Whenever he offers an insight about Ohlrig's behavior, his client dismisses him as a Freud-babbling quack. The movie spends the rest of its runtime proving that everything he said about Ohlrig was right.
2. Her roommate Maxine (Ruth Brady) is cheerfully upfront about her intent to marry for money if she gets the chance, love being an incidental but not necessary bonus. We thought she'd have done fine marrying Ohlrig and then living as a glamorous estranged wife in Paris with a stipend and a string of admirers.
3. Skygiants made some cogent points about the character of Franzi which I hope she will repeat in a post of her own, but he illustrates the complexity of the system: he is both an enabler of Ohlrig's abuse of Leonora and a victim himself. When she slaps him in a moment of uncharacteristically violent frustration and apologizes at once, he responds evenly, if a little breathlessly, "It's all right. It saves him from getting hit. That's what I get paid for." It doesn't make him a nice person, but it makes the film subtler and more like the world it's representing, where the patriarchy lets very few people off lightly.
Have an essay on the ethics of Star Trek and the Kobayashi Maru test. There's some good discussion about the essay on
this MeFi thread, which leads me to think about The 100.
Premise: The 100 is one big Kobayashi Maru test, for everyone. It's not possible to win, just lose more or less badly.
Thoughts? I think Clarke wants to be Kirk, but hasn't quite figured out how to break out of the binary thinking enforced by the narrative.
Speaking of Star Trek, apparently there's a podcast where people watch ST and comment on ethics. I wonder if it's any good?
The best new mood improver on the internet: Open Puppies. My favorites are the Bernese & the squirrel, and the amazingly-chill capybara.
Maybe park-and-ride isn't the boon for public transit we think it is. This took me a while to understand, but it makes scary sense.
Here's a somewhat curmudgeonly argument about how lettuce won't help save the planet. Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table. Well, I almost never buy lettuce: most of my salads are kale or chard. (So there.)
Laurie Garrett has long been one of my go-to science & health writers. Here she talks about how the WHO failed so badly during the West African Ebola crisis.
Oh, hey, check it out: The Atlantic has a nice retrospective on the 40th anniversary of Born to Run. And linked in there is Lester Bangs' original review of Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ: [H]e sort of catarrh-mumbles his ditties in a disgruntled mushmouth sorta like Robbie Robertson on Quaaludes with Dylan barfing down the back of his neck. Awesome.
Noted for later: Seriouseats on the rise and fall of jello salad.
In other news, I saw Dope last weekend, and it was really fun! A smart, thoughtful, funny movie. Highly recommended, even for such a white-bread middle-aged lady as myself.
Oh, and did I mention this? Love and Mercy is lovely, particularly for those of us who grew up listening to The Beach Boys. I was really impressed.
There are some really good movies out this year.
And I'm counting down: 2 more work days until I'm done with this employer and switching over to a more stable/secure situation. YAY.
Brush-Me retreated to someplace in the darkness of the house, there -- presumably -- to glower and curse at the world. Plushy, meanwhile, was sufficiently disconcerted by the whole thing that as soon as she had groomed herself back into a state of only faint wetness around the edges, she felt it necessary to sleep next to me on the big bed until I got up.
So what have you been up to? / Major life changes? Same old same old?
Same old same old. I thought there'd be more going on because I thought I'd have to move in September in addition to getting a new boss etc., but right now that doesn't seem like it's going to happen. And the new boss seems like she's going to be cool, but she doesn't start for another couple of weeks.
What fandom are you in/do you spend most of your time in?
MCU, specifically Steve and Bucky, but I am always somewhat multifannish, so many other things also get my attention. (Recently, not related to the MCU, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about: Tim/Kon, Ahsoka Tano, Sirius/Remus, Robins…)
Where do you hang out online?
I'm here on DW/LJ, and on Tumblr, I'm cacchieressa, because originally I got a tumblr to follow tumblrs about Robins and to post baking pictures. It wasn't supposed to be so fannish? Ha. Yeah.
I'm not on it during the work day, and sometimes I take two or three day breaks from it, because it can be both numbing and infuriating, sometimes at the same time, but I think my tumblr - which is 85% fannish and 15% pictures of puppies – is as good a view into my soul as anything ever was. Maybe more than journal space, since I don't have say anything on Tumblr, I can just reblog a million different gif sets of my otps, favorite characters, and cute dogs.
What are you reading?
Books – see my what I'm reading Wednesday tag.
Fic – I regularly check the Steve/Bucky and Steve/Bucky/Natasha tags on AO3 for things relevant to my interests, and also my pinboard network. If you had told me two years ago that Steve/Bucky would become the juggernaut pairing of the fandom, I wouldn't have believed you. Not because I didn't ship it from the moment Bucky rescues Steve in that alleyway in CATFA, but because it hadn't taken off after the first movie, which made me so sad at the time. And now people complain about it, my little otp that overtook the original juggernauts. ♥
The Raven Cycle, though I must admit, sometimes it's too heavily focused on Adam/Ronan and not enough about Blue and the OT5 for me.
Check, Please! ADORABLE FICTIONAL HOCKEY PLAYERS.
Also rereading some DCU faves, and I still read a number of other fandoms when the stories cross my path. My pinboard is probably the best place to see where my fic reading is at, though right now I have about 10 tabs open at home of things I need to write recs for. Sigh. #fangirl problems
What are you watching?
I cruised through all of Steven Universe this summer and am waiting eagerly for it – and all my other tv shows – to return. I haven't really caught on with any new-for-summer shows, but I've been slowly rewatching Legend of Korra for the first time after doing my usual summer AtLA rewatch.
I've also been obsessively looping through the last 3 HP movies for some reason – I find the epic horcrux hunting road trip unbelievably soothing for some reason (possibly because it soothes my trioshipping heart).
I also do some selected Clone Wars rewatching and to get really granular, I've probably watched the climactic scene of the Rebels s2 premiere an embarrassing number of times. (I'll be really honest – if Anakin's relationship with Padme weren't so central to the whole big tragedy [and also to producing my favorite character], I'd probably have shipped him with Ahsoka once I knew she existed, because it's exactly the kind of wrong mentor/student relationship that hits my id in strange, indefensible places. But I can't because the characters and the story don't work like that.)
I'm also awaiting season 3 of Miss Fisher on Netflix (as well as all my returning network shows), because I didn't acquire it, and thinking of restarting my stalled Leverage rewatch, and possibly doing a Middleman rewatch as well.
What are you making?
Fannishly, I'm currently heavily focused on writing two of my wsip: the Veronica Mars/Avengers crossover and the Sirius-is-Batman HP/DC fusion.
What are you squeeing about today?
The Mets! 11 games over .500! Five games up in the NL East! David Wright is back in some capacity! (the team now fields Thor [Noah Syndergaard], the Dark Knight [Matt Harvey], and Captain America [David Wright]. Bartolo Colon and Jacob DeGrom need superhero nicknames too, I guess.) I know it can only end in tears, but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts and try not to be too heartbroken when it all goes down in flames in September as per usual.
If you could rope old fandom friends into a new fandom, it would be.....
The Raven Cycle! Check, Please! iZombie! The 100!
I should really watch/read/dive into _______ and then come talk to you about it!
Check, Please! The Raven Cycle! The 100! iZombie! The Flash! Steven Universe!
If you stopped watching Korra, you should watch seasons 3 and 4. They're really good!
Really, come talk about almost anything I'm fannish about (Robins! Middleman! Firefly! Steve/Bucky! Sirius/Remus! Nick/Cassie!) except the things I had bad breakups with (XMM, SPN). I get excited about a lot of my old fandoms when they pop up.
What else is on your mind?
Questions of why I can't find Star Wars fic that scratches my particular itches re: Leia + Anakin, Leia + Padme, Padme living to lead the Rebellion, Ahsoka + Luke and Leia, etc. (I'm banking on Rebels to rip my heart out re: Anakin+Ahsoka so I don't need fic for that I guess. please don't let Ahsoka die.) I am afraid of going looking without recs, and I don't want to write anything myself, so I click around grumpily on AO3 and wonder what I'm missing.
I also didn't realize that this book mostly shows drawings done while reclining on the couch?