Which means I have hundreds of gratitudinal moments, not three. I don't want to let go of the hundreds, so I'm going to focus on other topics in my posts here.
Thank you for taking the trip with me. Knowing you were there improved the journey.
I'll leave you with an art object that's a continuing home for gratitude, MyGuy's birthday gift:
( Five inch tall glass egg with one-fifth vertical slice cut to reveal a clear interior with one perfect bubble. Outside has peacock tail colors and pattern with matte AB surface )
And we need to get plywood up over the basement windows, too. That requires the purchase of plywood, so . . . not today. But we already have the plastic sheeting, and the staples, and the staple gun. All that's required is that I convince Himself, who is tall, to do the stapling, which is, as always, an exercise in overcoming inertia.
When I think about how hard I had to look, way back when, just to find something relatively inoffensive in the traveling-diaper-gear line, my envy for today's geek-moms is intense. At least these days, some people acknowledge that she-nerds may not only pair off, but actually dare to reproduce.
On the positive side, the trip down to Boston to meet up with the Elder Son and his girlfriend went well . . . we had dim sum, his treat, and the whole experience was blessedly un-fraught. Afterward, Himself and I went back to Merrimack, where we spent the night in our usual cheap hotel, and returned home on Monday, after watching Mockingjay Part 2 at the IMAX theatre in Hooksett.
My verdict on the movie: visually gorgeous, worth seeing in IMAX. Plotwise . . . well, there were about 30 minutes or more of running around and fighting things and exploding things on the part of the main characters that had absolutely diddly-squat of an effect on the conclusion of the story, but so long as the audience doesn't realize that until after they've left the cinema, I suppose the folks in charge of the movie figure it's all good.
(And if we're going to play cliff-shag-marry with the male characters . . . I personally would shag Gale, throw Peeta off a cliff, and marry Haymitch, but I realize my taste may not be the same as most people's.)
2. The Adorable Tots came to Philcon! They walked into the Game Room and never wanted to leave; I got to visit them and accompanying parent when I wasn't on panels. They met a Cthulu puppet therein and Ms. 7 fell in love, cuddling it and wiggling its mouth tentacles and calling it "Thing." Yes, I am getting her one for Xmas. I take comfort in knowing how very horrified nasty Lovecraft would be at all the jokes about his creation, not to mention that he didn't get any of the profit from all these tie-ins.
3. I have days off for Thanksgiving! I am not traveling this year, for the first time in decades, and am looking forward to relaxing.
4. I am totally looking forward to watching AKA Jessica Jones with C. on Saturday. So excited.
5. I am beta-reading a fanfiction story and it is so good and I love it. I don't seem to have the urge to write fanfic any more, but I do love the genre and participating makes it even better.
Although I recognize that they sound from their titles as though they should feature turbo-charged cars, splendidly diverse casts, and slash potential that goes up to eleven, Fast Company (1938), Fast and Loose (1939), and Fast and Furious (1939) are a weird little trio of light mysteries that exist for a reason so bizarrely specific, I waited a week of interlibrary loan just to see what they were like: they were made by MGM explicitly to provide a fix of married, witty amateur detectives during the three-year hiatus between the second and third Thin Man pictures. Melvyn Douglas and Florence Rice star as Joel and Garda Sloane, married rare book dealers who run a sideline in recovering stolen rare books for insurance agencies.1 They're no William Powell and Myrna Loy, which they must have known, but to be fair their material's not exactly Dashiell Hammett. Their bantering chemistry works about half the time—they seem to get a charge out of playing boss and secretary, including in front of a visibly uncomfortable insurance investigator—but the remainder gets closer to sniping than I enjoy, even when repeatedly assured by the script that the characters love one another to distraction. The plot revolves around the murder of Otto Brockler (George Zucco), a miserly but prominent dealer who almost certainly framed his daughter's suitor for theft two years earlier; newly released from jail, Ned Morgan (Shepperd Strudwick) is the obvious suspect, but the dead man's daughter believes in his innocence and so does Joel Sloane, who sets out to clear his friend's name by finding first the real murderer and secondly the supposedly stolen books. Glamorous secretary Julia Thorne (Claire Dodd) plainly knows more than she's saying, deflecting Joel's questions with cool shutdowns like "Pardon me, do you take dope?" Smooth-talking, well-tailored Eli Bannerman (Louis Calhern) has a broad, confident smile and no qualms about cheating one of his criminal associates, setting up the man up for murder, and then killing him anyway. The police are exasperated by the constantly teasing Sloanes, but seem to need them for leads; Ned's lawyer doesn't believe his story of drunkenly stumbling onto the murder scene and then bolting in a panic; a pair of thugs are hired to take Joel out of the picture and Garda envies the latest fashions. There are some nice one-liners and some surprisingly suggestive exchanges, but further developments are best described as "machinations." This film runs less than an hour and a half and I was wondering by the fifty-minute mark how it even lasted that long.
Fortunately for my attention span, Fast Company supplies one real redeeming feature in the presence of Dwight Frye as one of the supporting criminals, a counterfeiter of rare books who is justifiably proud of his first-edition Leaves of Grass. With his octagonal glasses and his sideways-falling hair, Sidney Wheeler has a clerkish, geeky look, but he cleans up nicely to threaten his contemptuous partner with a gun he wasn't supposed to be carrying ("Put down that bottle and get your hands up—quick! Sit down. Rest yourself. Why don't you hit me now?") and take a girl out on the town with a wallet of stolen money, knocking back his nth shot of the night while the wide-eyed blonde breathes admiringly, "Boy, can you take it!" Especially in light of Frye's horror-maniac typecasting, it's fun to see him in a role that only calls for ordinarily bad judgment, like getting into the rare book racket with sharks like Bannerman and Brockler. Sidney is high-strung but not hysterical, happiest when disheveled and underslept, showing off his handiwork at the end of a long night; he grips the unfamiliar gun so tightly that his hand jitters, but at point-blank range it won't matter. He takes a fall like pantomime, toppling out of shot for seconds before he drops. I'm not sure he looks good in a bowtie, but it's cute on him. He gets four scenes before the plot catches up with him and I am profoundly grateful he was in the picture at all; Frye wasn't credited on the back of the box or in the opening titles, so it wasn't until the dramatis personae that I realized I had him to look forward to. I might well have bailed otherwise. Not surprisingly, I lost interest somewhat after he exited the script. Douglas and Rice are trying their best, but the failure mode of sparkling wit is a vague feeling of embarrassment for all concerned. Claire Dodd fares better by virtue of being the bad girl; her cold-blooded calculation makes her one of the more intelligent figures in the plot, since she at least can plan for the future. I suppose it's unfair to Shepperd Strudwick that I expected him to turn out crooked in some kind of twist. The selection of films in which I have previously seen Louis Calhern is peculiar.
So I had three quite good movies to write about, including the silent war epic I saw on Sunday, but I seem to have devoted this space instead to a 75-minute oddity created with only the most mercenary motives in mind. I may even subject myself to the sequels, although I do not expect them to contain surprise Dwight Frye.2 This distraction sponsored by my indulgent backers at Patreon.
1. In future outings, the characters will be played first by Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell, then by Franchot Tone and Ann Sothern, which is one of the reasons these films have fascinated me since I ran across mention of them. The writer in all three cases is the same, Harry Kurnitz, who had also written the original novel Fast Company under the name of Marco Page. The directors vary again, however, with the last being Busby Berkeley. I freely admit I want to know how that went down.
2. They don't. I checked IMDb. Alas. I would be tremendously entertained by a series of movies in which Dwight Frye appeared in small roles and met a different bad end each time.
Then she gets to be an assistant librarian, creates a magic companion dog, and learns three shape-changing shapes: ice otter, russet bear, and barking owl.
Barking owl... bwahahah!
I love her adventures in the library.
I'm reminded of some other teenage librarian book but can't remember what it was.
Note that she also basically has selective mutism (because it is traumatic that she can't talk about the special skill that everyone else has that makes her not fit in)
It would be like if you’ve gone your whole life having fully prepared meals just suddenly appear in front of you whenever you’re hungry (or whenever you say the words “I’m hungry”), and suddenly you’re being told that not only will the prepared meals not be provided anymore, but now you have to go out and hunt and gather for yourself. Whaaaat.
-- Emotional labor: what it is and how to do it.
+ I really enjoyed last night's Brooklyn Nine Nine; it was a completely typical sitcom plot elevated by acting and by two and a half seasons of characterization. I laughed a lot.
+ selenak has a good write-up of Jessica Jones here.
+ Re: the OTW stuff, here's good basic write-up by beatrice_otter, and here's a good post on nonprofit management by sara.
Here's my thing, with the exception of the seven years I worked at Big Evil MegaCorp, I've spent most of my career, such as it is, at nonprofits (of the voluntary health agency variety, e.g., National MS Society), though of course, all the ones I've worked at had long since transitioned to being staff-run (paid staff, I mean), with volunteer board oversight. The organizational structure of the OTW is completely inexplicable to me in some ways (e.g., I find it really strange that the committee chairs aren't automatically board members), but the fact that there is no finance committee, that there is no budget, that funds were being kept in Pay Pal accounts, that there has been no audit, and that one of the board members (the sockpuppeting one) is apparently going to stay on as treasurer despite resigning(!!! do I have that right?!) are like strobing red flags.
Board members of nonprofits have a basic fiduciary responsibility - to be transparent about the organization's finances, to put into place internal controls not just to prevent fraud, but to ensure that there is enough money to carry out the mission and programs of the organization, to pay administrative costs, to make sure that every cent is accounted for to the donor base, the general public, and the IRS (in the US) - that seems like it was completely ignored.
In the wake of all this business, I'd think that there needs to be some kind of professional help engaged - hiring an interim executive director to oversee the building of financial infrastructure, or engaging a fiscal agent to handle getting an accountant and an external auditing firm, setting up bank accounts, producing budgets and financial reports (up to and including the yearly 990 if one is required) in a timely fashion. There are certainly organizations that do this for small nonprofits, though again, it costs money.
I realize nobody wants to donate money to the OTW in order to pay someone's salary, but someone's got to oversee handling the finances, and I'm betting it's probably better all around for it to be a someone who is not actually all that into fandom/not concerned with popularity or perks or whatever it is that so soured relationships between the resigning board members and the volunteers who seem to do all the work, and instead someone who actually does it because it's their paid job and is overseen by the board. I don't think it'd have to be full time and I don't think it'd need to be permanent (though certainly it's the sort of thing that should be considered), but I do think it's time to get some nonprofit management professionals involved in a way that they don't seem to have previously been. (LBR, it was time when the organization was founded, but for whatever reason, those who were involved then don't seem to have stuck around, or if they have, nobody seems to have listened to them, given the shenanigans that have gone on these past few months.)
But I will no longer be writing about my feelings regarding my health, or day to day issues regarding my health, except perhaps in passing in a post primarily about something else. I do still have people who I can talk to about it, such as my therapist. I will just not be talking about it here.
I very, very much appreciate the lovely things everyone has said to me over the last day or so. I took them very much to heart and they made me feel a lot better. (And if you ever want to add more, go ahead and email them or comment to those posts - I'm not shutting down comments.)
I also very much appreciate everyone who advised when I asked for advice. That was also very helpful.
Ultimately, however, I was clearly upsetting people in a way which ended up being upsetting for me. I don't like posting comment-disabled - for me, blogging is two-way communication - and when it comes to an issue like this, of desperate importance to me, speaking with anything less than raw honesty is far more upsetting to me than not speaking at all.
This is NOT intended to blame or guilt-trip anyone. I tried my absolute best to make this not sound passive-aggressive, but it probably does anyway. Sorry. It's a tightrope walk, and I decided to come down on the side of "passive-aggressive but honest" rather than "weaselly." The only alternative I could think of was to just never post again on the subject with no explanation, but I thought that would make people worry even more. As I said, I will still be speaking about my health and my feelings and so forth. Just not here.
Also, I am hoping it will cheer me up if I can have a space that's devoted to book reviews and hurt-comfort and psychology and "it could only happen to Rachel" and such. Part of why I've been hesitant to put up stuff like that is that for - of course - health-related reasons I've been really spacy and it's difficult to write. But I think a half-assed, semi-coherent book review is probably better than no book review. If I get a character's name wrong or criticize a character for not doing something they did in fact do, PLEASE correct me in comments. I will not be be angry or upset or offended.
Finally, I don't like to over-control other people's speech (a big part of what was upsetting me about posting about my health) but I have to make one final request in that line:
Please don't ask, "Was it me?"
Moomin's play was very amusing. They all looked great in kilts and knee socks. Moomin curses the kilt for being confusing to put on and take off with pins and the shoulder strap thing and some mysterious underneath part. (They all wore shorts). Brigadoon is very sexist and a bit stupid. There should be a Brigadoon 1,000,000 A.D. fanfic where the characters from the future present (while the Brigadoon people are 30-years-from-their-beginning) are intelligent giant rats and squid-roaches and Brigadoon is tropical and covered in active volcanoes and they instantly die from inhaling the pure methane atmosphere or something or if not, fall in love with the giant squids.
I did take a nap yesterday, right after posting. That did not stop me from failing to get more than another hour and a half of sleep last night. So far I have stayed awake through a morning meeting (online) with my fellow editors at Strange Horizons, an afternoon showing of Rex Ingram's The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) at the Somerville Theatre, cat-feeding errands with derspatchel, housecleaning with rushthatspeaks and gaudior, and then some more Steven Universe. I think it has actually been a reasonably productive day. I'd just like to feel less like I'm running some comparative experiment in sleep deprivation. I have movies to write about. Not to mention poems. Someday. It might be fun.
Have some gryphons from the Black Sea.
Nothing brightens up exhaustedly shuffling around the kitchen making lunch for the week like the radio DJ suddenly saying "and now for a segment I like to call The Weather", pausing dramatically, giving a detailed weather report, and then saying, "and that was the segment called The Weather".
This is why listening to college radio is awesome. ;)
Yesterday, both kids were here which was just lovely (and won't happen again until January, or maybe a Fakemas afternoon). I try to appreciate it when it happens even if they are just hanging out playing minecraft while I feed and clean up after them. Only 1.5 years more of Moomin living at home (!!!) I am starting to pray atheistically that he will go to Berkeley.
Anyway, we dug up the new dirt around the front yard tree with trowels, put in our tiny palisade edging, and planted things. It looks super nice. Satisfyingly!!! they were not complaining or lazy and were both kind of into it. Zond7 came out and dug for a bit too. I am aiming for everyone feeling somewhat invested in keeping the sidewalk looking nice. I have some evil plans to build another little bench on the north side of the tree with 2x4s and make it super nice!!!
So, then, despite my plans to chill out and then cab to berkeley to buy a mattress....complicated timing of everything.... we instead all four piled in a cab to my sister's. I took a tramadol in preparation for more car riding and going up her giant steps. Up the steps, lovely time with family, her 3 cats bopping around, everyone bustling or loafing as their temperaments require. My sister came with us to buy the bed, since she has had a great mattress for the last 10 years from this place!!! Zond7 and I decided pretty quickly and got a bed frame which i'm super excited about as it is especially pretty. The headboard is a section of a giant madrone log and has a sort of line where the young sapling must have been. Or maybe madrone tree vascular systems just look like that. It looks like a network diagram or some sort of electronics circuit and also made me think of the napoleon's march chart in the Tufte book. I think it will make me happy every time I look at it. The bed was $4000 total which is basically my quarter's bonus (yes.... raking it in) Every quarter I think I will save the bonus, and instead this year I went on 2 vacations and bought a mattress. WORTH IT. This time of my life I am living high. So!!!!! New bed, super comfy, I practically live in the bed so it better be good!
We then had to haul ass home (another 30 dollar cab ride) so Moomin could go off with his dad to be in the 2nd night of the school musical. I was crying in pain again, and drank half a beer and took 5mg vicodin and 100mg gabapentin. This helped quite a lot and I felt cheerful for the first night in weeks, and was even hobbling around without the boots a little. I fell asleep easily and stayed asleep until Dashboard the Foster Cat brought a mouse up into our bed at 6am. Oh cat. Please kill the mice. Food not toy.
Dreamt that I was in Paris suspected of blowing things up and could not explain since I can't speak French. At the same time I had a sort of cinematic view of a guy who was really blowing things up with a giant radio antenna he would stick out of his window. I was doing a lot of having to quickly pack my suitcase but it taking forever in the dream. Anxiety dream I guess.
Reading, I went through a book of Garth Nix short stories and really enjoyed them. Better writing than Sabriel. I went back to read Sabriel again anyway, and it's making me laugh super hard as it is so indulgent feeling of gothy teenagerness! I love that! Even though I don't really like Sabriel herself or any of the characters, and am not gothy. But it cracks me up. Really.... you are basically in handbell choir and have a demon cat and can sense death. OK. A bandolier of handbells. LOLLLLLLLL. I admire the setup of being condescendingly best at everything in boarding school and then just breezing off from school with everyone's total permission, then going back to be the hero of everything (and dramatically killing off some of your schoolmates and favorite teacher as you suck the magic out of them or whatever.) And, getting royalty and swords and sorcery PLUS a sort of romanticized bunch of ... happy and ready to die World War One soldiers. Plus a sentient glider plane. What. Also, the villain turns into two extra demon kittens that barf up more magic rings. What an excellent use of kittens. Can't remember if they ever turn up again in the sequels. Didn't her magic boyfriend or husband die at some point but they stay married and even have zombie magic babies? I am going to have to re-read the whole thing now. None of it really makes any sense and that doesn't matter at all.
I was reminded while re-reading this (as there is a minor character named Horayse) that it took me till I was like 35 to realize that Horace (greek) = Horus (egyptian god). Mind blown! Doesn't it seem amazing and weird that thousands of years later, in the US halfway around the world, people still get named after Horus?
Today I went out to get cat litter and some groceries, happily blew up ingress portals, and then laid in bed recharging all my portal keys. I am not too far away from finally leveling up to level 12. I think in December or early January. It's absurd how much I still enjoy this game.
Ada and I placed more bricks from my sister's house and she helped me bring up laundry and groceries. Then I rested some more (this blogging counts as resting) with my feet up.
Now, for a bath, compression socks, walking casts, and we Caltrain down to Moomin's school to see the play. we are meeting my parents and sister there. I plan on another tramadol and then when I get home a vicodin and ice.
Work pissed me off on friday afternoon as someone emailed a giant public list with a thing that on one level is a reasonable question, but didn't need to go to everyone and the not-very-subtext of it was that what i do all day in my job is useless and a bother to everyone. Uh yeah fuck off. So cue a bunch of dudes abstractly batting around that my entire team's work is pointless. Oh, I'm pissed! But, I am trying to keep level headed and take from it whatever turns up that may be useful, in expressing the frustrations of developers who want a faster release process, which on the whole I agree with. and what we do is somewhat more intuitive than otherwise and a bit scrambly because our test automation has not kept up with actual development. (no one's fault really). And I think what I do is quite helpful. I'm just annoyed because I have felt this position has got me more respect and now that is undermined in a stupid way. I also thought this particular guy and I had a fine working relationship. NOt sure if it is worth explaining anything to him now. Maybe after a couple more days. He sees a good bit of his part of the process but not the scary overview my team sees.
marina, Jessica Jones
musesfool, don't let the system get you down
selenak, Jessica Jones
wereduck, #JessicaJones Hangover
Again without spoilers, I'll say that I think it's miles better than Daredevil, which I liked but didn't think was the transcendent piece of superhero television that a lot of people did. Daredevil's fight scenes were better (which I think may be more a function of how difficult it is to make superpowered fights look good), and despite some of its mature themes, I felt it actually had a much more comic-book superhero tone than Jessica Jones, which leaned really hard into hardboiled detective tropes and also felt a lot darker, tenser, and more dangerous to me. That could be because it deals heavily with PTSD and rape recovery, rather than daddy issues and Catholic guilt. (and also, lbr, Jessica never wears a fugly costume with horns on the helmet.)
Jessica is a fantastic character and the best thing about the show is that it lets her be abrasive and assholish and an utter mess of a human being while also letting her be good at what she does (for the most part), but my favorite thing was Trish. OMG TRISH. OMG THEIR RELATIONSHIP. Bring on the Patsy Walker/Hellcat series now, please. (Also, while I wish for things Marvel will never give me, bring on a Peter Parker old enough to have been a high school contemporary of Jessica, as he is in the comics.)
Luke is also great - Mike Colter is so attractive and so good at being both warm and forbiddingly badass. And Malcolm! Not having read Alias (it's been on my list for years, but I've never gotten to it), I only really know the characters/storyline by osmosis, so I don't know if Malcolm is from the comics, but he's so great!
And I thought Tennant was superb as Kilgrave, though I feel the need to take TEN MILLION showers after watching him. By far the most terrifying villain Marvel has yet produced. Fandom, I know how you are, but I swear to god, Kilgrave apologists will be shunned on sight.
In more detail here, let's get out of the way the couple of things I didn't like: ( spoilers )
I pretty much liked or loved nearly everything else: ( spoilers )
I need to get to bed, but seriously, if you can handle the stuff mentioned above, and you are looking for a superhero/detective show that tackles mature themes well and also has a bunch of women in it, and focuses on their relationships with each other, you should check out Jessica Jones.
I was confused at first by the suspect, played by Matsushita Yuki, because the actress also plays antagonist of the week in an episode of BOSS 2. Different character, not a crossover, despite a commonality in high-school interconnections.
The film passes Bechdel, as one may surmise from the subtitle (onna = woman, tomodachi = friend, since I find myself reluctant to gloss the phrase as "female friend(s)"), if more slenderly than one might suppose. It ends by posing a question: is true friendship possible between women?
- London Spy: not what I thought it was going to be. With the second episode, I kept thinking it would make more sense if various characters were actually vampires. Not really impressed with this show.
- Minions: by trying to shoe-horn the comic-relief sidekicks into having their movie, their characterization actually suffered for it. Also, frankly, it didn't really work with the world/character building from the two Despicable Me movies, where the minions are not accidentally murdering Gru through inherent negligence. I felt one of the weak parts of DM2 was them giving the minions so much time as a way to backdoor pilot the Minions movie, and, yeah. The Minions movie wasn't all that bad, but I think a 3rd DM movie would have worked better.
- I got all caught up on Doctor Who and now I'm two episodes behind again, alas. But I thought the bit with
Viking-girl-played-by-what's-her-name-whAshildr was really fantastic and there's a ton of fic potential and stuff that can be done with ex-Companions and all that. It kinda makes me want to go looking for DW fic about this, which is amazing, since it's been forever since I went looking for DW fic of any kind. Ashildr /Jack Harkness would be pretty nifty. ( Spoilers ) o-looks-a-lot-like-Clara
- Daredevil: I TRIED. For the second time, I tried. There's some good potential but it is just so violent and so gratuitous and aldkfja;lksdjflsdkj. I don't know, I might try for a third time? But I noped out very hard during the second episode and frankly I don't need a show where I keep having to jump ahead all the time.
- Steven Universe: I list this because I'm not sure I ever mentioned I watched this show? I watched this show. I am up to date. It's good! I am disappointed a little because, stupid me, I believed all the tumblr posts I kept seeing about how Steven was canonically Jewish. So I kept waiting for it. It never happened. Fandom and I have different definitions of canon, it appears.
- Only Lovers Left Alive: I tried, again. I managed about 15ish minutes. I shall possibly try again later. It is probable that I like the idea of this movie more than I'm ever going to like the actual movie.
I already posted this under f-lock, so disregard if you already saw it.
I would like to feel that at least I have made good use of the life I had. If you have any happy memories of me, or if anything I ever did or said or wrote was important to you or made your life better, I would love a comment or email telling me about it.
(Edit: oh, damn it, I said to myself "wait, where is that thing that I remember very vividly," and it turned out to be in the "maybe" tag, and when I was scrolling I saw a bunch of things that made me say "wait, what?" so I think I will be doing a slash-and-burn pass through that tag after all. But after this-year beta'ing, as much as I can now. Ugh, my brain.)
So RL has been kicking my ass, and I haven't wanted to post about it because I feel that would be whining (especially in comparison with what others are going though). Instead, I'm going to try a meme. scribblemoose has been doing this, and it's something I'd thought of doing myself, on and off, for years.
I grew up with my parents' music and what I heard in public and religious school: Broadway, light classics, some modern folk and Americana ("Roll On Columbia"), Jewish folk music and traditional liturgical music. About two thirds of the way through grade school, I suddenly became aware of pop music. It was the middle of the 1960s, and the first record I ever asked for by name was the Beatles' album Help. Here's the title track, with its lively melody and delivery at odds with its subject matter, a contrast that appealed to me even at age 8:
The rest of the night involved driving nineweaving home with gaudior, acquiring a surprisingly successful Brussels sprout sandwich from the Clover in Inman Square, meeting derspatchel for about an hour in Davis while I ran an errand, and watching more seaQuest, which I am genuinely enjoying even as the worldbuilding continues to throw itself at the wall and see what sticks, which is generally nothing from week to week. The Titanic-ish ghost story was unexpected, but nicely done. I don't have much to say about most of the guest stars, but Udo Kier makes a great guilt-haunted geneticist. I really keep meaning to watch his turns as Frankenstein and Dracula.
And then this morning I got up a little before nine o'clock to wait for the RCN technicians on an hour and a half of sleep—trust me, I'm trying—and therefore they arrived inevitably a little before noon. The problem was either a loose connection of the cable in the basement or a splice in the tangle of cables in the box on the side of the house or some interacting quality of the two; no matter what, they fixed it. I got my hammer out of the closet and a bunch of nails from Gaudior's tookit and finally hung my calendar on the wall next to my desk, so that I can keep track of my life without fishing it out of the green basket chair every time. The wall over the desk now holds the necklace ladymondegreen sent me in October: it is made of braided leather and the shells of sea-snails and tiny ark clams and sea-amber; it looks like Neolithic jewelry. I cannot imagine wearing it safely, but I am happy to look at it every time I glance up from my screen.
Have some things I would have linked sooner:
1. Courtesy of strange_selkie: butch Kate Winslet. She should wear ties more often.
2. There are a lot of demons in Jewish folklore, but Carol K. Howell's "The Demon's Debut" is a perspective I haven't seen before. It reminds me slightly of Steve Stern's "Yiddish Twilight," except how it's exactly the opposite. The family's name is a nice touch.
3. Various actors including Ruth Wilson, Gabriel Byrne, Michael Sheen, and Maxine Peake read the Guardian's poems on climate change. I linked a few of these in the spring, but here's the entire collection with voices. James Franco appears to be the non-Brit in the bunch and I am not sure how that happened.
4. Serpent-footed Scythian goddess!
5. Still relevant: the United States Holocaust Museum makes a statement about the Syrian refugees. I am sorry not to have known about it until now, but I am glad to read that last night in front of the Massachusetts state house there was a rally.
I am seriously considering taking a nap.
Jessica Jones: Are you wearing... horns?
Daredevil: Yes? Did I put them on backwards or something?
Jessica Jones: Is that like a sex thing?
Daredevil: It is to terrify the enemies of good.
Jessica Jones: Riiight. Okay. I gotta go.
Daredevil: But villain!
Jessica Jones: Clearly you and your fetish costume have that well in hand. You have fun. God, I need a drink.
So when I happened to cruise by the site and saw that there was a sale on until midnight tonight that knocked $18 off the price of the handbag . . . I said to myself, "Self, it's time."
So in the run up to The Force Awakens, there's a lot of Star Wars talk around the internets, and I've seen a couple of essays reconsidering the prequel trilogy, and I noticed that while I still think they were good ideas executed terribly (there's the potential for two good movies in there somewhere, but not as they currently exist, at least not to me, and I say that as someone who would absolutely love a version of The West Wing set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away), I have pretty much replaced them completely in my head with The Clone Wars, so whenever people talk about how Anakin and Obi-Wan's relationship isn't fleshed out, I think, "But that's not true!" and then I realize they're talking strictly the movies, and well. Aside from the racism and the terrible dialogue, the main failure of the prequels is that they don't actually portray believable relationships between Anakin and Obi-Wan, and even more painfully, between Anakin and Padme, and they don't do much to make Anakin likable (they also don't engage at all with why Anakin would so easily fall under Palpatine's sway, and how much the Jedi are culpable in their own demise), so it's really hard to care when he finally does become Darth Vader.
And TCW does a lot to ameliorate those problems:
* Since Anakin and Padme are already married, we don't have to sit through any terrible romantic dialogue, and the show doesn't shy away from showing how dysfunctional their marriage really is - I mean, given that it's secret, that they see each other infrequently and thus never really develop a day-to-day relationship including flaws and petty disagreements, it's still kind of a fairy tale romance for them (or him, mostly.) It also shows how much Padme enables him (it's hard not to think about how she either ignored or didn't understand what happened on Tattooine) and can't leave him when he turns violent (I admit to being surprised TCW even went there, though they didn't go as far as they might have, given that they still have to be together for RotS). Generally speaking, I like my fictional dead married parents of heroes to have had happy loving marriages (e.g., James and Lily Potter), but when you look at Anakin and Padme, it's kind of like, holy dysfunctional family, Batman! even before he's Darth Vader.
* We never get to see Anakin being trained, but we do get to see his partnership with Obi-Wan in the field, so you can actually believe it when he tells Luke that Anakin was his best friend (and then hands over the lightsaber with which Anakin killed 30 kids. Sorry. I just. can't not make that association now.). In addition to seeing a strong partnership with Obi-Wan, we actually get to see Anakin as a mentor/big brother figure to Ahsoka, and as a leader to his troops, and get to understand why he's such a force to be reckoned with (no pun intended) militarily later on. And while the show never really delves into it as deeply as it could, it does engage with Anakin's past as a slave, and how that influenced him going forward (and how the Jedi disregard for that past is both inexplicable and galling). I've said this before, but I didn't ask to be inundated with feelings about Darth Vader, but watching TCW totally did it (and reading the current Darth Vader comic has continued the trend. I shake my fist at both Dave Filoni and Kieron Gillen.)
Ugh, I have to pack up to leave for a meeting uptown, but in conclusion, I get that you can't just tell people, "watch five seasons of a tv show that came out years later to get the characterization you were hoping for in the movies!" but uh, I do sometimes feel like telling people to do that.
Seriously, I don’t think the bedwetting about Muslims has been this bad in a very long time, which is saying something, and the panic on Syrian refugees is particularly ridiculous.
Some Americans are filling their pants over numbers smaller than the tiny numbers of refugees Canada is taking. And we have a considerably smaller population. But if the ReformaTories had won, I am sure we would be headed down the same path of pants-shitting cowardice.
(remember, terrorists cannot get you if you seal yourself in a dry cleaning bag)
Sat 11:00 AM, Plaza I
"The Legend of Korra"
Victoria Janssen (moderator), Brandon Wright, Laura Kovalcin, Hakira D'Almah, Savan Gupta
While its prequel show "The Last Airbender" had strong appeal for both younger and older fans, Korra - with its older cast and more mature themes - was clearly not intended just for children. Set seventy years after the events of The Last Airbender in a world heavily influenced by both the jazz era and the steampunk aesthetic, our protagonist struggled not with a mere invading army, but with politics, ideological zealots, and the very nature of her world's reality changing. Managing to explore relationship dynamics without being cliched, the writers of Korra ultimately wound up giving her a happy ending that few would expect to see in an American animated tv show. So what's next for the Avatar?
Sat 3:00 PM, Crystal Ballroom Two
"Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century"
Hildy Silverman (moderator), Melissa James, Anastasia Klimchynskaya, Victoria Janssen, Steve Vertlieb
There's been a lot of activity centered around 221B Baker Street in the last few years. Which adaptations are trying to keep characterizations and plot elements as close to canon as possible, and which are just using the original stories as a jumping-off point? And perhaps most importantly, which ones have you enjoyed the most?
Sun 12:00 PM, Plaza IV
"Romance Novels with SF versus SF Novels with Romance"
Victoria Janssen (moderator), D. Renee Bagby, Michael L. Brachman, D.L. Carter, Maureen O. Betita
When is a romance a plot element, and when is it genre-defining?
Sun 1:00 PM, Plaza V
"Fans, Fiction, and the Formative Years"
Lynati (moderator), Tony Finan, Victoria Janssen, Joseph Berenato
What stories made you first realize something new about yourself? When mainstream media doesn't depict the kind of person you are, where do you turn to find characters you identify with?
Signal-boosting much appreciated!
One is the eldest child of my great-great-grandfather, who changed his name from Kaufman to Goldberg when he came to this country with his wife and four daughters in 1900. I am named for the youngest of them, my grandmother's mother Sofy. My cousin's great-grandmother was Anna, the oldest of the four. No one can tell me anything about the fifth child, the half-sibling, who may not even have lived. That sounds like a riddle, but it isn't meant to: at the age of sixteen, my great-great-grandfather was married in a hurry to a girl whose mother was so legendarily terrifying, an entire shtetl called her "the Cossack." The reason? He had gotten a local—Christian—girl pregnant. His new mother-in-law would keep him in line. And she may well have done, since I never heard that he was unfaithful to my great-great-grandmother, but neither did I hear what happened to the other girl. If she kept the child, if she bore it as a bastard, if she was married off just as hastily as her erstwhile boyfriend, if no one ever knew, if everyone knew, if she aborted or miscarried, if there are still descendants today: I don't know. All this is supposed to have taken place in Bessarabia, whose history has not exactly been untroubled since then. I am left to imagine, but almost nothing I can imagine ends happily. I would like history to prove me wrong. I know it's not often so obliging.
The second ghost is an alternate history. My other great-grandmother, my grandfather's mother, came to America with a friend in 1912. Her name was Ida Friedman; depending on the story, he is her lover, her boyfriend, her fiancé. They came from Vishnevets, in what was then Poland and is now Ukraine. He was of military age. They walked all night through the mountains to cross the border, I was always told: at dawn their guide pointed down into Austria-Hungary, out of reach of the Tsar's army. Together they took the trains to Holland and a ship to America and at Ellis Island he was sent back, because of his health. She never saw him again. She met my grandfather's father in New York City, they ran a general store on the corner of Broadway and Hooper in Brooklyn near the elevated station and the trolley stop, their two children were born in the building and their son fell in love with the movies. For their descendants, her lover's story ends in a maze of railings and benches. He is faceless to me; he looks like a photograph, with chalkmarks on his coat and a suitcase in his hand and even that is imagination. When they say sent back, I don't know where he went to. I have always wanted to know his name.
I am thinking about these stories, obviously, because I am thinking about people caught between definitions and borders and I feel some things should have changed in a hundred years.