(no subject)

May. 23rd, 2015 08:42 am
[personal profile] telophase
Last night, after doing some art stuff, I watched a bit of television before heading to bed.

The BBC made a few widlife documentaries using cameras on wheels or tank tread, disguised as rocks or bamboo or hidden by mirrors, which allowed them to get up close to various animals. I watched Lions: Spy in the Den with Sora sitting on the chair behind me, and he didn't twitch an ear at any of the roaring, yowling, or growling.

Then I started watching Bears: Spy in the Woods and Sora sat upright and watched it for almost half an hour. I don't know what it is about bears that fascinated him

The 100?

May. 22nd, 2015 09:02 pm
[personal profile] cofax7
So I'm watching the pilot of The 100, and... argh? I hear it's good, but this is not convincing me: everyone is DEEPLY stupid.

What episodes must I watch to be convinced of the worth of this show?

[post amnesty] recent tv consumption

May. 22nd, 2015 08:54 pm
[personal profile] thistleingrey
["Recent" as of 18 Nov 2014. ha!]
I've been watching the current seasons of Elementary and Person of Interest with some skepticism, but I'm watching. It's because I know most of the scope of what to expect, e.g. PoI's dialogue-driven abuse every single episode of As You Know. Life Is Beautiful (2010 kdrama---it's a common title) has been paused during ep. 2 since late August, which is when my brain began most recently to dribble out my ears, although I like it; see frustrated post earlier about blocks from doing language "properly." The dribbling is the larger issue---I haven't read much of substance at book length for some months, either. (Why yes, I do dole out book posts one a week in order that the ebbs and flurries be less obvious.) I've also been trying to figure out a reasonable balance for watching BOSS, whose first ep I caught in 2010 and then postponed because I want so much for it to have been good. Ridiculous, but it's a j-remake of my favorite flawed kdrama, okay? And I need to watch more kdramas and k-films than jdramas---that delicate relationship with language-learning.

I've been reading recaps of Kyō wa kaisha yasumimasu (office setting) and Nae Il's [= Tomorrow's] Cantabile (Nodame remake apparently with less hitting, which is nice because the hitting made me quit watching the jdrama six years ago). Occasionally I read an episode recap of Modern Farmer or Pinocchio, but I shrug in their respective general directions; I shrugged through the recaps for Plus Nine Boys. Probably I ought to have been reading recaps for Misaeng from the start, however.

The post queue includes two completed posts about films and one about a jdrama. They're from several months ago---why haven't they gone up? Will fix, one a week. [One film post has gone; the other sits. I don't remember which jdrama it was, perhaps BOSS, which has stalled again, though I mean to finish.]

I have sudden curiosity about Gwanghae, wangidoen namja, which purports to be a resetting of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper in C17 Joseon, but am pretty sure I would hate it (I dislike Lee Byeong Hun, for one).
[personal profile] yhlee
Cookbook recs? Especially for healthier food?

Yes, I know you can find recipes on the internet, but I find collations that I can read in bed so much more satisfying. Also, having to hunt down individual recipes one by one gets annoying; what I'm hoping for are reliable cookbooks where I know the majority of the recipes will be good.

- Preferably for not-too-hard/not-too-time-consuming recipes. I don't mind some prep work if there's also unattended cooking time. I am a middling cook and my schedule is starting to get busy again.

- We have basic cooking equipment (including the ridiculous potato masher my mom gave me in college, of all things, when the woman has never made mashed potatoes in her life--Joe had to tell me what it was--I thought it was maybe an advanced cattle brand) but not a food processor. I'm starting to question whether we should save for one if it would open up fooding options, but I honestly don't know if I'd use it enough to make it worth it. We do have a small rice cooker and a slow cooker.

- We're trying to save on groceries, so fancy ingredients are probably out. It's also a pain to get to the Korean grocery in town, and Asian/ethnic ingredients are hard to find sometimes because of (I'm guessing) location. I couldn't even find those instant miso soup packets, which I adore for quick snacking, at the local supermarket. :(

- We are not vegetarians, but we're open to vegetarian food. We have two Moosewood cookbooks that I haul out from time to time.

- That being said, finding good produce is hard--I feel actively uneasy about buying a lot of stuff from the local supermarket (flies buzzing all around the onions) and the selection at the farmers' market is limited. I keep seeing things for, like, fennel, and I swear to God I have never seen fennel for blood or money anywhere.

- Joe does not eat eggy foods (omelettes, frittatas, egg drop soup), although the lizard and I do. (He will eat eggs as components of a food so long as the resultant food is not noticeably eggy--e.g. egg as a binder in meatballs.)

- The lizard does not eat spicy food, but generally we deal with this by omitting the spice.

- Foods/cuisines liked: pasta/Italian, Indian (although the only thing I've tried to make is dal), Mexican, Vietnamese, generalized American, Korean (I MISS GIMBAP), Japanese (I would gladly live off Japanese convenience store food if I could afford to and I were, you know, there--onigiri!), various other Asian. I'm sure there are many others, but lack of experience etc.

GOD I HATE FOOD PLANNING FOR PICKY PEOPLE INCLUDING MYSELF

(no subject)

May. 22nd, 2015 01:59 pm
[personal profile] telophase
mmmmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMMMMMMMEALWORMS!
Read more... )

Speaking of negative reviews

May. 22nd, 2015 02:45 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I ran across this one of an old juvenile dystopia:

John Neufeld very cynically wrote a young adult novel in which he did HIS level best to make the teenagers of America scared to death of a basically harmless and insecure Quaker in the White House.


The basically harmless and insecure Quaker being Richard Nixon.

Vicious, by V. E. Schwab

May. 22nd, 2015 10:42 am
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I’ll quote the cover copy, so you’ll see why I was interested in this.

"A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates--brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find--aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge--but who will be left alive at the end?"

The blurbs talked a lot about moral depth, complexity, and ambiguity. Between the blurbs and the plot, I thought I’d get The Secret History with superpowers, starring Professor X and Magneto.

The first fourth or so of Vicious is exactly that. The rest, not so much. I had very mixed feelings about the book as a whole, and not just because the actual book matches the plot but not the implications of the blurb. The first fourth is a stunning work of storytelling. I was absolutely glued to it. The compulsive readability wanes as the book goes on, but maintains reasonably well throughout its length. Throughout, the structure is cool, the prose is good, and many of the ideas are interesting.

Here’s what’s not so good: the characters. The two main guys seem interesting when they’re at school together – morally dark, sure, but Schwab does a great job there of suggesting complexity, hidden depth, potential for great good or great evil, etc. Then they become superheroes, and turn into one-note sociopaths.

Eli, who suddenly becomes a religious maniac serial killer, is more like a half-note. His POV sections are really boring. He’s on a delusional mission from God. He kills people because he’s on a delusional mission from God. That’s literally it. When he thinks of Victor, it’s just as someone he needs to kill because he’s on a delusional mission from God.

Victor either also becomes a sociopath, or was always one; it’s hard to tell. His POV is more interesting because he does think about things other than hurting or using people, but basically, he hates Eli (no complexity there) and wants to kill him, and will torture, kill, and use people without hesitation or qualms to bring Eli down.

I expected a fraught, love-hate relationship between them. Nope! They just want to kill each other. I expected moral ambiguity. Nope! They’re both sociopaths. Pitting one sociopathic murderer against another is not moral ambiguity, nor does it bring up interesting moral questions. “If a bad guy kills a worse bad guy, does that make him a good guy?” is not an interesting question. (Answer: No.)

There are three other POV characters who get much more limited page time. One is also a sociopathic murderer. Another is a collection of potentially interesting traits that don’t cohere into a real-feeling character, but at least is not a sociopath. The last is an actual, believable, three-dimensional, mostly coherent character who is not a sociopath. The book would have been more interesting if it had been entirely about her.

There may or may not be something about the process of becoming a superhero that turns people into sociopaths, or turns certain people into sociopaths. This is discussed but never really explored or resolved. Of the four superheroes who get significant page time, three are sociopaths but it’s unclear if they were before they got powers.

I recommend this if you’re OK with sociopathic POV characters and want to read a cat-and-mouse game between two sociopathic villains. On that level, it’s pretty good. If you’re looking for more human characters, I can’t recommend it. Which is too bad, because if the whole book was more in the vein of the beginning, when it seems like the characters might have actual depth and complexity, it would be stunning.

Vicious

let your soul and spirit fly

May. 22nd, 2015 10:55 am
[personal profile] musesfool
I'm so looking forward to this three day weekend, I can't even tell you. Especially since I'll be spending tomorrow at my sister's for a BBQ, and including travel time, it takes up the whole damn day.

Last night, L. and I went to see Pitch Perfect 2, which I enjoyed a lot, though lord knows, they could cut out the worst of the *ist jokes and it'd still be hilarious. I especially loved aca-spoilers ) Also, there's 100% less vomit in this movie, for which I was grateful.

In other movie news, here are some Mad Max: Fury Road links I found interesting:

+ We All Agree that Mad Max: Fury Road is Great. Here's Why It's Also Important. at Tor. com

+ We Are Not Things: Mad Max Versus Game Of Thrones by Chuck Wendig (which also includes GoT spoilers)

+ Know your post-apocalypse warlords (with art!) at the AV Club.

Wednesday night, I only slept for about 4 hours, so I had a lot of time to come up with brilliant meta about this movie that I either can't remember now or didn't make a lot of sense once I'd slept on it, so I have nothing to offer myself.

On the work front, news of my raise - beginning June 1 - came through, and it's actually quite a bit more than I was expecting. I'm so pleased. I'm still nervous about Boss1 retiring and someone new coming in, but I'm happy that they think well enough of me to want to do all they can to ameliorate that nervousness...with money. I'll take it.

***

Aha!

May. 22nd, 2015 08:34 am
[personal profile] telophase
Found out why we've been seeing more of the cardinals at the windowsill!

cut to maintain the suspense )

Ups and Downs

May. 22nd, 2015 08:46 am
[personal profile] oracne
1. Dayjob is closing at 3 pm today!

2. I have my dayjob performance review today.

3. I played softball on Wednesday!

4. My arm is still a bit sore.

5. It's WisCon!

6. Instead of going to WisCon, on Tuesday I'm having oral surgery for a molar implant. (I originally typed "moral implant.")

7. The weather is nice!

8. The air is full of pollen, and the pollen hates me.

9. Dayjob is closing at 3 pm today!

moar cover options

May. 22nd, 2015 07:04 am
[personal profile] yhlee
If anyone has a moment to take a look and vote, I would appreciate it. Thanks to those who have weighed in--my sister came up with a few more options based on y'all's comments!

Poll #16711 another cover poll--moar options!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 27


Which cover???

View Answers

10c
9 (33.3%)

10f
9 (33.3%)

10g
2 (7.4%)

10h
6 (22.2%)

10i
3 (11.1%)

10j
2 (7.4%)

something else that I will explain in comments
4 (14.8%)

tocky the ticky taffee
3 (11.1%)

linkspam needs to read more

May. 21st, 2015 09:04 pm
[personal profile] cofax7
So I love living in the future. On Tuesday I learned that Naomi Novik's new book was out, and I hopped online and told my local library they should order it. This morning, I got an email that they had, and it was in, and I downloaded it, and I'm 30% through now. Yay! Also, it's very good.

*

Getting old is kind of a drag, but at least there is lots of guidance for dealing with back pain. (Not all of these will work for everyone, etc etc.)

Nom, I shall have to make this at some point.

I did not expect to find in this essay about Watership Down such a clear statement of the thesis of Carpetbaggers: There is ... more to being in a position of authority than getting to boss people around; might does not make right; "leadership" is our society's debased shadow of something more than a mere gimmick to make other people do what you want; that neither having all the answers nor having it all together are the requirement for Kingship nor its identifying characteristic; that the King and his energy are not optional, but not necessarily tyrannical; that for all that some are born with talents and inclinations in that direction, the craft of Kingship is always something learned.

... although, reading on, I can see that there is more I could have done there. Ah, well. Live and learn.

Noted for this weekend: I'm going to taste pinots with my oldest friend in the world. Yay!

The #hometovote hashtag on Twitter is really inspiring. If you don't know what that is: it's Irish expatriates traveling home to vote in the referendum on marriage equality. Rock on.

Planet Money posted a guide to determining whether your job will be automated. My job doesn't even show up on the list, although several similar jobs seem safely un-automatable.

*

I did go see Mad Max: Fury Road the other day, and although my ears are still ringing, it was hella fun.

*

Job situation: not resolved, but signs are looking better.

*

I missed reading Wednesday, but:

Just Finished: English Creek by Ivan Doig. So very much a book about a specific place and time. Suffers a bit in comparison with Molly Gloss, although they are doing different things. But so very vivid and well-written and small-towny.

Currently reading: Uprooted by Naomi Novik, as noted above. Fun!

Up next: Maybe Hugh Howey's Silo, or some Flaubert for book club.

And now back to my book, as my laptop battery is dying...

question for cat owners

May. 21st, 2015 09:44 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
So there is this thing that my cat does where she seems all friendly and licks my fingers and then she starts to nip (she's never broken skin, and just moving her away firmly fixes the immediate problem). I don't know how to interpret this! Is she happy? Unhappy? Trying to play? Wants more attention? Less attention? Help? The thing is she seems to want to pursue those fingers even when I remove them from the bitey bits, but I, uh, object to being nipped.

--Signed, newbie cat slave

I will need to send for more books

May. 21st, 2015 09:01 pm
[personal profile] sovay
So I'm not talking much about my life outside of movies because right now it's very difficult and things are very uncertain and I don't know how next month is going to work at all. I will not be at Wiscon this weekend. With any luck, I will be with friends and family at Canobie Lake Park.

1. Courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] moon_custafer: an ideal Lord Peter Wimsey. This continues to delight me.

2. Courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] strange_selkie: Crassus' moray.

3. [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen sent me a care package containing, among other things, a children's graphic novel about Houdini and a DVD of the Lloyd Alexander documentary.

4. I really like this poem: Paula Meehan, "The Solace of Artemis."

5. I didn't manage to post about it last night, but I have now seen the first episode of the BBC's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2015) and to my great surprise and relief, it was very good. My make-or-break moment was the first appearance of the gentleman with thistle-down hair, here played by Marc Warren; I am delighted to report that I wouldn't have put leaves on his coat, but he is otherwise excellently otherworldly, menacing without apparent awareness of intimidation and capricious without camp. His hair is not only the right color, but the right shape for a thistle-head; he has silver-winged eyebrows and his ears are not pointed. His fingernails are opaque, white as teeth. (A touch I don't remember from the novel, but it's much more unsettling than it should be, like a photograph with the eyes put back in upside-down.) He has inhuman cadences in his voice; there is some post-production effect that whispers and hisses in the lower range, but clears suddenly when his voice rises in a tone of clarion carelessness, so either is equally uneasy to listen to. The adaptation sadly omits his initial address to Norrell in effusive Latin, but I understand there's a specialized audience for that joke (antiquarians and other people who study dead languages but don't expect to have to use them conversationally). It is probably inevitable that he should slightly recall David Bowie's Jareth, but I've never been sure that Labyrinth (1986) didn't get into the DNA of the original novel, so that's all right.

The casting on the whole is very good. I don't have much feeling for Bertie Carvel's Jonathan Strange yet, but Eddie Marsan has the right anti-charisma as Mr Norrell and the right air of dry suspicious irritation with everything outside his orderly library; possibly as a byproduct of casting, he's more immediately sympathetic than Clarke's Norrell, a very shy and didactic man rather than a strictly passionless and secretive one, and I am curious to see how this quality will interact with later chapters when he starts doing really stupid, dangerous things as opposed to just bargaining with fairies for the dead.1 I was surprisingly taken with Edward Hogg's John Segundus: he has a pale, slightly apprehensive face and a sheepish nod after questions he knows are "wrong" and he smiles in pure wonder as the stones of York Minster speak, terrifying nearly every other member of the Society of Magicians. Childermass as played by Enzo Cilenti is a rough-grained, magnetic, mysterious presence, hiding secrets in plain speaking; his Tarot-sharping scene with Paul Kaye's Vinculus is a highlight. We haven't seen much of Stephen, but Ariyon Bakare has a beautiful face and a grave well-turned voice and I am hoping. I have a similar optimism about Charlotte Riley's Arabella and Alice Englert's Emma Pole.

And the mise-en-scène is great. The interiors are accurately colored, the clothes are lived-in, the wigs are frequently terrible, and the regional accents are themselves. Nobody has been flattered by Georgian costume if it wouldn't have looked good on them to begin with and let's face it, Empire dresses aren't for everyone. People have stubble and wiltingly crimped hair. The 1995 Persuasion is the only other contemporary piece I've seen put so much time into looking ordinary rather than a showcase for historical design. I don't like the score, but that's mostly because it insists on telling the audience when the magic is going to happen rather than letting it discover them. I'm reserving judgment on the tone until I've seen another episode at least. So far it's more comic than I was expecting—it's not broad, but it gets a lot of pointed mileage out of the disjoint between the confines of respectability and the lawlessness of magic, Mr Norrell's extravagant reputation and his shabby anonymous person, the incongruity of aimless Jonathan Strange finding his calling in magic, which he didn't even believe in before he tried it. My complaints are mostly to do with subtlety, the places I don't feel the script or the direction trusted it. The stones of York Minster are startling, but not especially numinous; the only real charge of strangeness comes with the arrival of the gentleman with thistle-down hair, which is why I was gripping [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel's hand, praying the series wouldn't screw him up. I don't think it did. I hope it can keep it up. My standards for the numinous onscreen are crazily (Derek Jarman, Peter Greenaway, Powell and Pressburger) high. The scene in which Strange performs his first piece of magic works perfectly because it is shot without any unusual emphasis at all.

So, yeah. That was really pleasant. I'm hoping it continues not to suck.

I have work to do now.

1. One of the major reasons the story feels in direct descent from Hope Mirrlees' Lud-in-the-Mist (1926). There are not that many modern novels that so clearly associate the two worlds, but it's here straight from the start.

idle question

May. 21st, 2015 06:36 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I wonder if Tor will slapping Hugo Nominee on the cover of the next edition of Anderson's Hugo nominated* POS?

(no subject)

May. 21st, 2015 01:53 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
Choose between two covers?

Poll #16708 Cover Design!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 28


Which cover design???

View Answers

10c
9 (32.1%)

10f
18 (64.3%)

something else I will specify in comments
2 (7.1%)

tacky ticky techie
5 (17.9%)



This is for an ebook collection of the flash fairy tales, The Fox's Tower & Other Tales. I can't decide which of these two cover designs works better. Votes?

(And OMG, I still cannot get over what a fantastic job the cover illustrator, Mariya Olshevska, did. Worth every penny.)

(no subject)

May. 21st, 2015 01:19 pm
[personal profile] telophase
The bluejay just showed up!

cut for pics )

Moar cardinals

May. 21st, 2015 12:10 pm
[personal profile] telophase
Not content to play second fiddle to Zeus' grand entrance in the previous post...

cut for pics )

Softball!

May. 21st, 2015 10:39 am
[personal profile] oracne
I was really into playing softball as a kid, but then I stopped when I got to high school, and except for half a semester in college, haven't gone back.

A little while ago, I read something that said you should do something that scares you to get yourself out of a rut. I was indeed scared; not only has it been a long time, I am much fatter and more out of shape than I was as a kid (aren't most of us?), plus my throwing arm now has a wonky elbow from being broken. I was scared just throwing would be painful, or snap something. I was scared of being the oldest/fattest/most incompetent player. So when, a few weeks late, I finally read a dayjob email message about signing up for intramural softball, I did it. Then I worried about all the things that scared me, and started searching for my glove, and repeatedly tried to convince myself to back out.

I didn't tell anyone. At all. Until yesterday morning, the day of the first game. It turned out I knew 3 or 4 people who were playing, and I walked over with a couple of them, one from my office and one from an office nearby. That helped. About 20 people showed up for our team, but the other team hadn't gotten organized and didn't show up, so we won by forfeit. We had the field for an hour, so we split in half and played. And I had fun! I haven't been in that kind of zone for a while, and it was a great relief.

My throwing was fine. The only pain today is muscle pain. Swinging the bat did hurt a bit, but nothing popped horribly in my elbow, so that should be okay as well. Mostly, it's my hamstrings that are tight today, from playing catcher in a crouch.

I note that my glove is older than many of my fellow players (I was maybe 9 when I got it).

Intramural rules are a little weird, I think to facilitate a fast game with lots of hitting, as well for safety reasons. You pitch to your own team, and aren't allowed to field their hits - there's a "defensive pitcher" for that. I pitched, which was easy since you want the people to hit the ball rather than prevent them from doing so; it was weird restraining myself from catching things I could have caught. Each batter gets two pitches and if you don't hit one, you've struck out (bad pitches or not!). And you can't block bases with your body.

I'm going to miss next week, because of the oral surgery, but I will definitely go back. I want to play second base if no one else claims it. I want to remember how to hit (I was never the world's finest hitter). I want to try to get some more distance with my throws.

I did something that scared me, and in the end it was fun.

Gratitudes

May. 21st, 2015 08:51 am
[personal profile] kass
1. Yesterday I got to see one of my most beloved friends in the universe.

2. Also there was an amazing meal, though seeing the friend was the best part.

3. Iced coffee.

4. Lilac blooms (see dw icon.)

5. Hot showers.

"Dreamtime"

May. 21st, 2015 02:46 am
[personal profile] rosefox
My dream life has been just amazing lately.

Sunday night I dreamed that J and I wanted to buy a house on the street where my father's apartment is, but we decided that we wanted the only brick building in a row of wood-frame buildings. I started to worry that I was just too non-conformist and it was going to make me miserable, so I went to a company that mind-wiped people and turned them into happy mindless company employees/slaves. They ran a psych profile on me that said I was a very poor candidate because I was such an independent thinker that the mind-wiping might not work on me. I signed a contract, but at the last minute I backed out. The penalty for breach of contract was having a swarm of bees sent after me that were supposed to all sting me at once, and I had a 50% chance of surviving. I ran away down the street and ducked into a store so the swarm would miss me and sting some poor passerby instead, like I was dodging a guided missile. The company sent another swarm after me, but I found a taxi driver who would drive me uptown to where I would be safe. He used telekinesis, I think? Sometimes I felt like we were sitting on wooden chairs, and other times I felt like we were in a black limousine; I'm pretty sure the limo was an illusion. But he got me away from the bees, and in the end J and I decided to buy the brick house.

(At least half of this probably stemmed from a conversation I had with my father on Sunday evening where he asked me whether I saw myself as a rebellious person. I said that I didn't care enough about mainstream values to define myself as rebelling against them, but of course it's more complicated than that.)

Monday night I dreamed that my room had gotten horribly messy and dirty, and that our apartment (which was now very small, maybe a 1BR) was full of ratty, shabby old furniture. I'd agreed to take in two more cats but then I forgot about them. They were black cats and hid under the furniture where I couldn't see them. There were puddles of cat pee everywhere, but I blamed Sam. Bugs and body grossness ) I was incredibly appalled that I had forgotten and neglected the cats and let my home get into such a state, and I think at the end of the dream I was trying to feed and wash them and clean up my room, but it all kind of fragmented.

(I'm kind of surprised it's taken this long for me to have what is essentially an anxiety dream about being a horrible neglectful parent, given that we've been actively trying to conceive for more than a year now and planning it for a while before that, but I guess I'm slow to develop. On the bright side, when I woke up and went out into the main room of the apartment, for once I looked around and thought "We keep this place in pretty good shape" rather than immediately noticing all the housework there was to do. So hooray for perspective, I guess?)

My therapist and I are going to have SO MUCH to talk about tomorrow. :)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
Everyone who has been needing to see characters with disabilities in more fiction knows that MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is all made up of disabled characters, right? 
  • Furiosa uses an artificial hand. (Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it was Valvoline (exploding.))
  • Immortan Joe uses some kind of assisted breathing device.
  • Joe's brother or whatever is a little person in a mobility chair.
  • Nux has tumors on his trachea that affect his breathing.
  • The warboys in general have some condition that causes them to require regular blood transfusions. (Admittedly, that condition could be "very dangerous lifestyle.")
  • The Doof Warrior has no eyes.
  • The leader of Gas Town has a Tycho Brahe-style decorative metal artificial nose and a wicked case of foot edema.
  • Max has intrusive hallucinations, possibly PTSD flashbacks.


And I'm resigned to the fact that we're about to see a glut of movies made by people who saw FURY ROAD & thought "Great! People don't WANT explanation or backstory or worldbuilding or character or reasons for anything to happen!" Because moviemakers are going to notice that this movie did not stop to provide any infodumps and people loved that. And the kind of hack-ass storytellers who can't provide information except in an infodump are not going to bother noticing the wealth of information that the movie steadily, nonverbally, delivers.

The obsessive ornamentation on everything drives home that these are a people who have lost television. They aren't spending their evenings playing World of Warcraft, they're spending it painstakingly coiling recycled metal wire into skulls to enhance the fetishistic power of their steering wheels.

Furiosa has one word about her character arc: "Redemption." One word. The movie then goes on to reveal, in a completely non-Joss-Whedon-clever-dialogue kind of way, that spoiler ) I could see how that would leave a person with a score to settle.

Joe - I know I keep coming back to Joe, but since he is the one who ran the citadel, the citadel and the army speak most to his character. And - weirdly, considering his motivation in the whole film is spoiler ) - his character is that of a despot who allows his subordinates considerable initiative.

Consider the argument that ends in strapping Max to the front of Nux's Chevy:
spoiler )

Mallory Ortberg correctly noted that if Joe had been serious about spoiler ) And all of this the movie suggests without a spoken word.

And all the characters with disabilities, are not there because this is a Very Special Episode of the Apocalypse. They're there to show that this world is goddamn hard on human bodies - and to show the state of medical and assistive technology - and to show priorities. The people are like the things in this world in one way: the valuable ones are too valuable to waste just because some part of them isn't working to spec. Instead they weld on part of some other machine, to make it work; and add weapons capability while they're at it. And they don't bother trying to make the prosthetics look naturalistic. In a way, in this mutated world, the aesthetic celebrates physical variety, somatic change. spoiler )

aflame

May. 20th, 2015 06:45 pm
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Sherry Thomas, The Burning Sky (2013)
ibid., The Perilous Sea (2014)

At first I was irrationally upset at Sky for not being My Beautiful Enemy because I'd failed to notice how many novels Thomas has published during the past two or three years; then I was irrationally upset with Enemy's prequel, The Hidden Blade, which reached me from libraries before Enemy did, but I'll save that for their post. It turns out that taking the Calibre de-mumblemumble route in order to continue reading past the lib due date has a second benefit: Sky has diegetic endnotes analogous to Bioware computer games' codex entries, snippets of context attributed to story-world writers. OverDrive's Android app doesn't understand the hyperlink; Moon+ Reader does. (OverDrive workaround = go to the Endnotes chapter, then resume reading manually or via bookmark, but Moon+ displays it as a closeable overlay, which is nicer.)

So, Sky on its own terms. length--not spoilery beyond setup )

having mentioned them today

May. 20th, 2015 09:37 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I am tempted to compare and contrast this:

doc savage

With this:

avenger

Both being the first books of the series I encountered.

Inspiration I didn't need

May. 20th, 2015 08:36 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Hamlet, redone as an Andy Hardy film. It begins some months after Judge Hardy's sudden death and the Widow Hardy's almost as sudden remarriage...
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
Today we euthanized* darling Lucy after 15 years together. I am so grateful for the unconditional love she gave us, her clever clowning which made us laugh, her gentle snores which signaled another day survived. She will live on in our hearts, and in my icons.

Memories in Words )

The described pictures below show Lucy the Australian Cattle Dog of my heart. She's a medium-size bitch, one ear pricked, one ear folded, black spectacles around her eyes. When young she had a black and brown muzzle, with large black, brown, merle red, and merle blue patches.

Memories in Photos )

Give your animals and humans one more hug or kind thought or treat tonight.

*(She wasn't acutely ill, but she was rapidly losing control of her bladder, bowels, and rear legs and she was often in pain.)

WisCon39 Schedule

May. 20th, 2015 03:20 pm
[personal profile] jhameia
Here's my schedule for this WisCon!

Bridging the Generation Gap at WisCon
Sat, 1:00–2:15 pm, Capitol A
One of WisCon's greatest strengths is its generational diversity. For one weekend a year, feminist fans of all ages come together to share their common interests, from today's teens and tweens all the way through millennials, Generation X, baby boomers, and beyond. But despite the close confines of the Concourse hotel, inter-generational mingling is sometimes limited, and divides over media popularity, waves of feminism, different reactions to "fails", and how to "do" fandom can sometimes split the community. How does the perspective on these things change if you're 70, 50, 30, 20? This panel seeks to interrogate how and why these divides happen, and how we might bridge those gaps so that WisCon-goers of all ages can learn from each other.
Fellow Panelists: Eileen Gunn (M), Pat Murphy, Orange Mike, Jackie M

Intersectionality Is Not a Crossroads, It's a Venn Diagram
Sat, 4:00–5:15 pm, Capitol B
We talk a lot about intersectionality these days, but the concept is often confused with a hierarchy of oppression. Let's talk about the origins of the word, and what is meant by it.
Fellow panelists: Victor Raymond (M), Moondancer Drake, Beth Plutchak

Identity outside the United States
Sun, 4:00–5:15 pm, Senate A
Most panels at WisCon are dominated by the perspective of those from the United States. How do people from other countries experience and talk about race, culture, ethnicity, and the other issues we regularly discuss?
Fellow panelists: SoosheBot (M), Alex Gurevich

Mulan Movie Marathon
Sun, 8:45 pm–Mon, 3:00 am, Conference 3
Most people are familiar with Disney's Mulan, and this movie marathon will screen multiple versions of the same story, based on the famous Ballad of Mulan! We will start on familiar ground with the Disney movie, then straight into Jingle Ma's tearjerker, and finish with the Shaw Brothers's adaptation of the Huangmei Opera version. If you ever wanted to know how Mulan is represented in China, come and see!
Note: WEAR YOUR COMFY JAMMIES! And bring Kleenex.
I'm also looking for someone who has a laptop that can read Region 3 DVDs with a VGA hookup.

On Hugs:
I am hug-friendly. I am also a hug-giver (especially for POC). If you ask for a hug, I will give you a full-body hug. If you don't like full-body hugs, you probably should not touch me =(

On Food:
I am a meat-eater. I have a lot of issues with food texture, thus cannot eat vegetables as a result. I do like vegetable soup though. I also love sweeties, and I rather liked the hot chocolate at Michaelangelo's, the last time I was there!

On Pronouns:
I am cisgender so don't worry on my account here =)

(no subject)

May. 20th, 2015 04:59 pm
[personal profile] skygiants
There are certain persons probably reading this ([personal profile] gramarye1971, I'm looking at you) whom I suspect already know everything about Kim Philby and probably have no need for another version of the same Cambridge Spies story. For everyone else, there's A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.

I was vaguely familiar with the basic facts about Philby before picking up the book, but only vaguely, so Macintyre's version still had plenty that was new for me. For example: though I knew Philby was a double agent working with MI6 and reporting back to the Soviets, I did not know that MI6, in a move that was both ill-advised and horrifically hilarious, actually made him head of Soviet counterintelligence.

PHILBY: Wow, I ... literally am in charge of everything MI6 is ever going to do in re: the Soviet Union. I am the best Soviet double agent ... ever? Ever. Pretty much ever.
(THE SOVIET UNION: This guy is just passing us TOO MUCH information to even be believable. Triple agent, anyone?)

Though nonfiction, it's very easy to read the book like a thriller, so I'm putting the rest under a cut in case people don't want to be historical-record spoiled! )

Obligatory WisCon Post

May. 20th, 2015 04:29 pm
[personal profile] karnythia
So this year I'm co-chairing and you would think that would be enough to do. But I'm smart so I'm also doing 4 panels, a reading, & may pull a safety shift or two. I am contemplating baking cupcakes tonight too, but that probably won't happen.

Cultural Literacy or Cultural Appropriation? Sat, 2:30–3:45 pm Capitol B

In our diverse culture all thinking and reading individuals are influenced by a wide range of heritages, histories, and mythologies. Let's talk about how to articulate the boundaries and borders of what’s appropriative and what’s okay in fiction, dance, craft, and other art. In the end, who gets paid? And who gets propped up as an "expert"? In what ways can artists and creators engage with cultures without being harmful and destructive?

THREE-PART TRILOGY BASED ON THE SINGLE BOOK OF THE NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL
Sat, 4:00–5:15 pm Wisconsin


The seventh installment of this popular and amazing panel! Writers of color working in F/SF face unique challenges, it's true. But, at the end of the day, being a "person of color" is only one aspect of what makes up our identities as writers. While it's very flattering to be asked to be on panels, most of these panels never crack the ceiling of Race 101. With that in mind, wouldn't it be nice for multiple writers and fans of color to sit on a panel that isn't about race at all? Here's our chance to do just that. So, what are we gonna talk about, instead? Practically anything! Presented in game show format, THREE-PART TRILOGY BASED ON THE SINGLE BOOK OF THE NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL brings together writers and fans of color to get their geek on about any number of pop culture topics—none of them race related.

Call Out Culture II: Follow-up to the Discussion Held at WisCon 38 Sun, 10:00–11:15 am Senate A

Let's follow up the discussion of call-out culture that began at the WisCon 38 panel "Call Out Culture in Social Justice Movements." This year we will expand our conversation to online life, covering discussions about social justice movements that are already happening and places where the discourse is still getting off the ground.

Reading Divas Sun, 2:30–3:45 pm Michelangelos

These amazing and diverse voice will entice your imagination. Each reading a unique and rare pleasure in speculative fiction.

What Happened With WisCon Last Summer? Sun, 4:00–5:15 pm Capitol A

In the interests of transparency and straightforwardness with the WisCon community, let's discuss how and why WisCon leadership changed so abruptly between W38 and W39.

Based on the cover art

May. 20th, 2015 03:46 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
takeover

When you guess this was published?

(no subject)

May. 20th, 2015 02:08 pm
[personal profile] phi
Safe travels etc to all you lovelies going to WisCon this weekend! I won't be there. I'm not entirely happy about that, but I think I'd be even less happy if I went, so, la. My in-laws are in town(*) and I have plans for this weekend, some of which involve going outdoors to places with little to no cellphone reception and some of which involve yet more pitched battle against clothing moths ugh. I hope everyone who's going has a fantastic time, and I'll also be scarce on the internet until next week and actively avoiding reading about the con.

(*) We all had a conversation about this visit, but apparently no on in my family, myself included, remembers to put things in the google calendar, so I completely forgot about it, until yesterday when M just casually dropped into gchat "Oh, by the way, I'm punting choir rehearsal tomorrow to take Mom out to dinner." Surprise! Once reminded I remembered the entire conversation we had about her visit, my cousin-in-law's wedding, family dinner with Conservative Uncle Shut Up Already, etc.
[personal profile] batwrangler
by T. Kingfisher

Another of her superb fairy tales, this one based on Beauty and the Beast.

Hmmm

May. 20th, 2015 11:47 am
[personal profile] telophase
I am seized with an urge to make a Mad Max random name generator. Does anyone wish to help me analyze a list of character names from the movies to look for commonalities and patterns?

Sent from my Apple ][e

Pre-Wiscon post

May. 20th, 2015 11:10 am
[personal profile] coffeeandink
I've been seeing the announcements pop up and figured I should say I won't be making it to Wiscon this year. I'll miss you. :(

See you at Wiscon 40!

someone to open each and every door

May. 20th, 2015 10:20 am
[personal profile] musesfool
The Flash: Fast Enough
spoilers )

I just thought they made some curiously conservative choices for a season finale.

iZombie: Mr. Berserk
spoilers )

I feel like this show is gearing up for a really excellent final few episodes and I am excited!

***

Wednesday reading meme:

What I've just finished
Pen Pal by Francesca Forrest, which is an absolutely lovely epistolary story with a fable-like feel to it. Em, who lives in the floating village of Mermaid's Hands, sends out a message in a bottle that gets found by Kaya, who is a political prisoner in an unnamed country in the South Pacific. They start up a correspondence that changes both their lives. It's vivid and thoughtful and melancholy.

What I'm reading now
I'm just rereading The Raven Cycle again. sometimes I can't help myself. I'm noticing even more things this time around though, which is good.

What I'm reading next
I do not know!

***

I have to leave in a few minutes to go to a meeting and ugh. I'm not feeling it at all.

***

(no subject)

May. 20th, 2015 08:35 am
[personal profile] telophase
Female cardinal this morning.

cut for pics )

Wednesday Reading

May. 20th, 2015 08:21 am
[personal profile] oracne
I've been making good progress on A Companion to the Fairy Tale (2006) edited by Hilda Ellis Davidson and Anna Chaudhri. I'm up to the chapter about cumulative tales; the author is having a lot of fun with language while exploring the nuances of "The Pancake," "The Gingerbread Man," etc.. I especially enjoyed the chapter on helpers and adversaries, which gave me a lot of Thoughts about these figures in genre fiction. "Finding the First Fairy Tales" also gave me a lot to think about, and reminded me that one day I want to get back to reading Classics in translation.

In fanfiction this week, I absolutely loved Life Sentence by astolat, a Fast and Furious slash story with bonding. Trust me, it's excellent.

I read an excellent book for a preview for a new venue that's trying me out, but I can't give details.
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Give money to Amnesty International's double-page ad in the Times defending the Human Rights act:

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/humanrightsact/

(Even if you can't donate, I recommending refreshing the page from time to time; it's comforting watching the total go up.

ETA: they're now into over-funding and hoping to get an ad in the Torygraph too.)

Also, you can sign https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-human-rights

"I'm interested in things"

May. 20th, 2015 01:43 am
[personal profile] rosefox
Stuff that has felt good lately:

* Doing work while listening to birdsong. I still use my Pomodoro playlist of progressive house mixes sometimes, but I find that the birdsong is very relaxing without being soporific--it calms the anxious chattery noise in my head, which lets the rest of my brain focus on the task at hand. Thanks to the birds, I was super productive today!

* Doing my PT exercises. I mean, yes, they're kind of boring, but it still feels really good to move and get stronger. The current list: leg stretches, isometric leg exercises, knee raises, straight leg raises, ankle pumps, weighted leg extensions; hand/wrist/arm stretches, wrist rotations, straight and reverse wrist curls with weights, hammer curls with weights, biceps curls with weights. I do this every night except Monday and Friday when I have actual PT, which is how you can tell I'm seriously committed to getting stronger. 5x5 is on hold until I strengthen my legs enough to protect my knees during squats, rows, and deadlifts, hence all the leg exercises.

* Getting comfortable with low-stimulus time. If I'm waiting for a file to load or sitting on a train for ten minutes, I keep the Twitter tab closed and the phone in my pocket, and deliberately sit alone with my thoughts. I'm still training up that comfort and it's definitely not always easy, but when I can get settled into it, I really like it. I'd been doing the Headspace creativity pack, but more and more I find I want to get back to just basic meditation or mindfulness without the themed bells and whistles.

* Doing gender mix-and-match with my appearance. Super-short buzzed hair and big earrings. A snug V-neck blouse and men's straight-leg trousers. Summer's a great time for this.

* Eating vegetables. I tend to forget about vegetables for a while and then remember them again. They're pretty great! Next I think I might rediscover legumes, which I've been ignoring for some time but are also delicious. Lentil soup, white bean dip, and daal are all on my list. Over the past year I ate a lot of poultry (and red meat and seafood in restaurants from time to time, but not cooked at home) and starches, and I'm ready for a change.

* Spring and summer weather. Breezes! Warm nights! Thunderstorms! I want to hug it all.

Plus the stuff that already felt good like snuggling my family, snuggling my kitten (who has been very very snuggly lately), and so on. :) I just feel very much in the groove right now. It's lovely.
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll


Chicago writer Nino Cipri has received the 2014 Working Class Grant from the Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF). The $750 award supports any purpose that the writer wishes to benefit their work.

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