A busy and fun week.
As I already said, there was the Springsteen concert, which was fabulous. Chad wrote that they didn't leave anything in the locker room, which is a good way of putting it. The encore exemplifies this: it started with "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," a new song with a sing-along chorus, and then "Thunder Road," and then the house lights came up for "Born to Run," which I expected was the end . . . but then there was "Dancing in the Dark," still with the house lights up, so I figured that was the end . . . but no, there was still one more, "American Land." The crowd was completely into it, belting along with the obscure "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" as much as the newer stuff or the classics, which increased the fun. I gave myself a coughing fit two-thirds of the way through "Born to Run" and came home exhausted and exhilarated.
Setlists: at the official site, with links to lyrics ("Thunder Road" has a lot of words), and at a fansite (search "restored calliope" for a picture of what puzzled me, too, at the opening). And the local paper's review.
Friday we had dinner with a classmate of Chad's, Ethan Zuckerman, and Rachel Barenblat, the Velveteen Rabbi—who has the best blog name and tagline: "When can I run and play with the real rabbis?" Great food, great conversation, and we'll have to go over to their neck of the woods sometime.
And my sister-in-law passed the California bar! Go, her! (56.1% pass rate overall, and 69.0% for first-time takers. Yikes—the equivalents for NY the year I took it was 67.5% and 76.5%.)
Saturday we had remarkably good home-repairs and -improvement luck, including the purchase of a bigger fridge that can be delivered before Thanksgiving. And then we watched the movie Stranger than Fiction, which I really enjoyed. Harold Crick is an IRS auditor with no life, who suddenly begins hearing a voice narrating his actions. Which is itself upsetting, but then the voice casually mentions his imminent death.
I asked Chad to NetFlix this because someone at the Worldcon Metafiction panel said that meta was the whole point, which is true. I've seen some reviews saying that the love story is the heart of the movie, which I just don't get: I found it flat, predictable, and unconvincing. (Ditto Queen Latifah's character, alas.) But I liked the meta, and the sad look on Harold Crick's face (Will Ferrell—no, don't run away, really!), and the slightly magic-realist flavor of it all. Recommended.
So, a really good entertainment week, as it also included Shaun Tan's The Arrival, a booklog gush about which is forthcoming, and new Saiyuki Gaiden (resulting in a few new icons). Though I didn't manage to finish the last WFC panel report, on Tolkien as a horror writer. (I do intend to; it's mostly done.)
Oh, and those of you who've read Grant's Daughter of the Game: I've gotten as far as chapter five, and I'm not particularly invested in any of the characters, plus I'm finding the prose slightly hard to fall in through. Should I bother with the rest of it?
I spent so much time thinking of an icon for International Blog Against Racism Week (link roundup) that I didn't actually, you know, write a post. Something, I'm not quite sure what, will be coming in a day or two. In the meantime, there are some interesting posts in the roundup above.
Anyway, the real point of this post: is this legible on other monitors?
At the party last Saturday, a group got to talking about books (surprise!), and it was suggested that there are some books that readers can't fully connect with if they don't share a cultural context. I regard this uncontroversial; for instance, even with all the research and commentary at reading_genji, I know I'm not appreciating it on all the levels that contemporary readers did. (Genji is still bulking on my bedside table, making me guilty every time I spot it. I swear I'll get back to it someday.)
(Disclaimer: I was coming down with a migraine during this conversation, so I am reconstructing and paraphrasing all over the place.)
Shortly thereafter, Lord of the Rings came up, and a guy raised in Japan said it didn't work for him. The reason he offered was the Ring; if I understood properly (and I may not have), he thought the concept of putting all that power into an object was strange, and possibly stupid. An English professor, who specializes in post-colonial literature and who therefore has some experience in studying cultural relationships, thought that LotR was a good example of books that worked best within a shared cultural context.
Now, the original objection wasn't necessarily culturally-based [*]; I can name a couple of people raised in the U.S. who probably have the same reaction to the Ring. And the point of this post is not to debate the validity of the objection. Instead, I'm wondering if anyone else can share reactions to LotR from those raised in a non-European-descended culture, either their own or those of others. (I have this vague memory of a newspaper article about the book being read all over the world and the different meanings that people got out of it, but that's not exactly enough to search on.)
Two unrelated notes:
- Thomas Nephew posts about reading LotR to his daughter. Though now that I look at his post again, he talks about the Ring as a very successful part of the tale.
- GIP! I know it should wait for many more chapters, but I couldn't resist. Yes, I am that much of a dork.
Too tired for an actual post, so have icons and links instead. The Samurai Champloo ones are dead simple, but I'm pleased with the Saiyuki Gaiden butterfly ones; they aren't fancy either, but I did a fair bit of cleanup on the images, since the originals weren't scans but pictures of the book being held open. For public use with credit to me; a comment to say you're taking is nice too.
( six new icons )
- ajhalluk reviews Brokeback Mountain from a different perspective than any review I've seen:
. . . the sheep make their first appearance, and very scary this is, too, for anyone who knows anything about sheep. sollersuk is Welsh, and I grew up on the fringe of the Lake District, so both of us can reasonably be said to have a reasonable familiarity with sheep - in fact, there's probably ewe in our mitochondrial DNA, and both of us concluded that them there sheep were not natural (and, in parathesis, I think a director whose pacing is such as to leave members of the audience discussing whether the sheep are OOC is getting something seriously wrong).
(I haven't seen it; I don't like downer movies, basically.)
- Slate cooks the NYT's no-white-sauce macaroni and cheese and concludes it's not all that; I'm pleased to hear it, because I thought it sounded weird when I read the article. (My baked mac & cheese uses papersky's non-roux method for cheese sauce, though with different proportions (1/4 cup each of flour and butter; 2 cups each of milk, cheese, pasta (before cooking).)
- Scientist jokes at Uncertain Principles: physicist, engineer, and mathematician variants in comments, and mostly physicist in another post.
I was just about to go to bed, and then the Patriots scored. Down 13 with about 10 minutes to go, how can I go to bed now?
Been muttering under my breath at the TV, haven't had the energy or concentration to write anything (two weeks in review, last three episodes of Cowboy Bebop, Chad's useful insight as to why I don't like noir, many booklog posts) during commercial breaks; instead, have some Sandman icons. More probably to come, but requests welcomed.
This week's new-to-us recordings from Adult Swim. Spoil me for future episodes and I'll explode you from the inside. (This includes hints, statements that something will be explained in the future, and pretty much anything that answers any of the questions under the cut. Sorry.)
Also, new icon. The warm colors are a little too orange to me, which I haven't been able to fix with mucking everything else up. Any brilliant image-manipulators out there? (Edit: revised, thanks to desdenova.)
It's my birthday, and though I'm not a hobbit, giving away presents seems like a good idea. Since we're digital here, all I can offer are digital things. I'm not very creative at icon-making (and I prefer simpler icons anyway), but for what it's worth I've put up a bunch of icons for public use. They're mostly Saiyuki, since that's what I have artbooks and scanlations of, but there are a few from the first four Fullmetal Alchemist episodes, my two existing Firefly icons (the River one has been slightly improved), the headdesk icon, and an icon of the picture below the cut. Like I said, not fancy, but some of the Saiyuki ones should at least be novel.
Also, for those not interested in fannish icons, behind the cut I have the very cutest puppy picture EVER, from the Dog Gallery Calendar (Workman Publishing Co.) for June 16, 2005:
I got the calendar for Chad as a Christmas present; I regret that I did not buy myself the cat version so that I can share an equally cute kitten picture. Instead, have a link to a dog and kitten sleeping together, and while we're at it, a ridiculous bunny picture, both from baaaaabyanimals.
Finally, have a compliment.
Late-night thoughts after watching disc 2. These are somewhat influenced from hearing people talk around spoilers for the ending, so if you haven't seen such discussions, I recommend not clicking on the cut.
Also, someone on LJ a while back posted about a masquerade entry from episode . . . three, I guess it is, with pictures and a comment that it was logistically very difficult. I thought it was rushthatspeaks, but I can't find it now. Anyone have a link?
Finally, GIP, because I am altogether too enamoured of this icon.
Blogger for publishing and blogkomm for comments have been good to us, but I'm thinking about upgrading the Steelypips blogs to a system with more advanced comment moderation features, because poker spam is tedious. My ideal system upgrade would do the following:
- Recognize Blogger's post IDs through an import feature, thereby allowing me to preserve permalinks to old posts.
Without this, I have to either break a whole bunch of links, or keep the old files around; neither prospect thrils me.
- Allow the automagical generation of booklog indexes by (a) permitting the display of only post titles of a category (instead of all the posts' full content) and (b) sorting the post titles in alphabetical order. No more hand-coding an author index! Sub-indexes by genre!
I think this should be fairly easy, since five minutes with a free TypePad trial account got me just what I envisioned; it's just that MT kind of scares me.
- Allow me to hold for approval comments coming from certain IP ranges and with certain keywords.
I think this is pretty standard.
- Keep comments in a format that would allow me to hack in an ASCII delimited file of old comments.
I have no idea how likely this is, but it would be really nice not to lose all those old comments.
- Be locally-hosted.
We have PHP, Perl, etc.
- Have stable links (I've seen too many people's permalinks killed by a MT database crash, though I think this has been addressed, judging by my playing with TypePad?).
The following are already installed on our web host: b2evolution (0.9.0.10), Nucleus (3.2), pMachine Free (2.3), and WordPress (220.127.116.11). I was also looking at Serendipity and GreyMatter (though I get the impression the last is no longer being developed?).
Anyone have any experience to share? Statements of the form, "this package definitely will (or will not) do number X on your list" are what I'm mostly looking for, but general experiences are good too.
Another weekend, another couple of Firefly episodes. Also, the debut of my (slightly lame) homemade Firefly icon. (The "Also, I can kill you with my brain" icon is more of a mood thing (and probably even lamer, but I've no talent for this kind of thing). Stop me before I try to make a "too pretty to die" of the whole cast . . . )
Note to self: next time you decide to skip an episode, skip it because you don't want a Sawyer-centric episode, or because you have enormous quantities of work to do (both of which are perfectly good reasons), not because of last week's preview, which ought to be ashamed of itself.
(Okay, really this is a GIP.)