all is near and can't be touched

Apr. 21st, 2019 04:30 pm
musesfool: "We'll sleep later! Time for cake!" (time for cake!)
[personal profile] musesfool
Happy Easter to those who are celebrating! Happy Passover to those who are celebrating that! And Happy Sunday if you are not celebrating anything!

I got up this morning and made a blueberry cobbler and some whipped cream (pics) and then I ate some for breakfast and it was delicious.

I currently have a ginormous ham in the oven, because when I ordered it, I thought L might be coming for Easter dinner, but she wasn't feeling up to it, so I have a 10lb spiral ham (I thought I was getting something that was 6 or 7 lbs, so you can imagine my surprise when this behemoth showed up) and I guess I'll be eating it for lunch all week in sandwiches, and with eggs and in fried rice and I'm sure I'll figure out a couple other ways to eat it. *hands*

Yesterday, I made that peasant bread again and one I left plain - I'll use that for the above ham sandwiches - and the other I added in half a stick of butter mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced garlic, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, and a sprinkle of basil and oregano (pics). I ate it last night for dinner with some fresh mozzarella and it was delicious.

I've actually been writing this weekend, which hadn't happened in a while. Not on any of my wsip of course, but what are you gonna do? Hopefully I'll be able to finish it. I've got three sections left to go.

Anyway, here's today's poem:

Between Going and Staying
by Octavio Paz

Between going and staying the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.

All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can't be touched.

Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.

Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.

The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.

I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.

The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause.

Translated by Eliot Weinberger.


random NiF rewatch thoughts

Apr. 21st, 2019 04:30 pm
glass_icarus: (red cliff: zhuge/sun quan)
[personal profile] glass_icarus
Palace/court life in NiF is one of the things I find endlessly fascinating about it. I continue to want More Ladies and More Jingyan at basically all times, but on this rewatch I also found myself getting stuck on Prince Ji, who is pretty intriguing in his own right! spoilers &/or spoilery )
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Ander: Human cleric
Dorritt: Human warlock
Himo: Wood Elf rogue
Kokai: Gnome Mage
Milo: Human Ranger

Alas, my notes seem to be incomplete. Well, no doubt I can reconstuct the missing material at some future date. Suffice to say we have descended into the city and had a few inconclusive encounters with locals.

There are far too many large dinosaur footprints in this city. Read more... )
lightreads: a partial image of a etymology tree for the Indo-European word 'leuk done in white neon on black'; in the lower left is (Default)
[personal profile] lightreads
Provoked, Beguiled, and Enlightened

3/5. Historical M/M trilogy featuring a Scottish nobleman and a rising young lawyer who have a lot of sex while failing to communicate, until eventually they do.

These are nice, and doing, you know, stuff with class and with the protagonist's different ways of being queer in a hostile historical context. I think the books are a little too interested in deciding which of them is right, when I don't really think there is a right way here. But that's beside the point. The point is, the audios of these are read by a gentleman with the spectacularly Scottish name of Hamish McKinlay, who has the voice and accent of someone named Hamish McKinlay, and who thus lends these a great deal of charm.
yhlee: Darkana Tarot (Darkana Tarot)
[personal profile] yhlee
Drive-by post of two Major Arcana-only fanart Tarot "decks" by The Mutinous Mermaid (Etsy):

Since each card is almost twice the size of my hand, these are not really practical decks so much as collections of mini-prints. They arrive with certificates of authenticity, which is...cute? but doesn't interest me much. I was disappointed that they were shrink-wrapped and did not come with any kind of box to store them in. There are no booklets; I've watched most of the Ghibli movies, but have not watched a single Sailor Moon anything episode, so I won't attempt to interpret the images. I just picked out my favorites to share, as I do enjoy the art style and I'm glad I added these to my collection on that basis.

She's Like A Sunset

Apr. 21st, 2019 11:09 am
rachelmanija: (I have cleavage)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I've had a hell of a year. I broke my foot and was wrongly told that I'd had a heart attack in the same week - and that was a typical week. So, now that I have learned that my heart is fine, and also that I do not have breast cancer and am not in fact likely to have a stroke (you see what kind of year it was), I decided to get my hair touched up to celebrate.

Since enough had washed out or grown out to switch up the colors a bit, I went with "sunset." Tea Cup, the stylist, literally used a photo of a sunset to choose the shades.


I told Tea Cup that I'd wanted to have rainbow hair ever since I was eleven, and I'm finally fulfilling my dream. All the stylists were thrilled to hear that. It was a really fun atmosphere in the salon, as everyone was just so delighted to be there and be getting truly amazing hair.

Tea Cup said, "It's funny to say this, since obviously these aren't natural colors, but you really seem meant to have this kind of hair. Sometimes people come in and get looks that they thought they wanted, but then they have second thoughts and then the hair doesn't look right on them. But when someone's really happy and confident with what they want, then it always looks good on them. And that's what you got. It's a very bold look, but you're wearing it - it's not wearing you."

More below cut. Read more... )
rosefox: A bearded man in a yarmulke shouting L'CHAIM! (Judaism)
[personal profile] rosefox
Last year I wrote a long Haggadah full of quotes and readings that I found thought-provoking and meaningful: some analytical, some mystical, some poetic. My brother edited it down to a very efficient 12 pages (in large type for easy reading aloud) that's more suited to our mixed multitude, and to our practice of celebrating Passover at a restaurant and squeezing the service in between placing our orders and food arriving at the table. I retaliated coped balanced it by moving the readings into an appendix. They remain the best part of the Haggadah for me, and I thought I'd put them here in case they enrich anyone else's Passover. L'shalom!

Cut for length )
ursula: bear eating salmon (Default)
[personal profile] ursula
I've been doing a lot of reading lately around violent resistance, nonviolent resistance, and counterinsurgency. This involves a lot of thinking about how ordinary people respond when they don't feel safe, and how those reactions can be shaped or exploited.

Here's an annotated bibliography/suggested reading list.

accessible introductions

These books make an emotional case using history and evocative personal anecdotes. I sometimes wished for a more nuanced, scholarly approach, but they are good places to get started.

Dave Grossman, On Killing. Grossman argues that the US military has become more effective at training soldiers to kill people, and describes the psychological cost.

Srdja Popovic, Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World. Popovic is one of the founders of Otpor!, a group that successfully pushed to overthrow Slobodan Milošević in Serbia. He writes about the techniques Otpor! used and their application in other conflicts.

between theory and practice

David Kilcullen, The Accidental Guerrilla. Kilcullen is an Australian counterinsurgency expert who advised US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He writes in a compelling way about how small-scale conflicts become intertwined with large ones, often using examples from his own work. This book focuses on Afghanistan, and is a good introduction to Kilcullen's theory of counterinsurgency.

theoretical structures

These books provide new tools for thinking about how power structures work. They are serious works of political science that incorporate detailed discussion of alternative hypotheses, lengthy footnotes, and so forth. I recommend them highly, with the caveat that my bar for dense theoretical writing is quite high (I actually think these are quite readable, but that's in comparison to, say, the historiography of late antiquity).

Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works. Chenoweth and Stephan argue that nonviolent resistance is more effective than violent resistance in creating lasting political change. They construct a theoretical framework and use it to analyze multiple cases of resistance, both successful and unsuccessful.

Stathis Kalyvas, The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Kalyvas theorizes that violence against civilians is most likely to occur in areas of "contested control", where armed groups are actively competing for power. He tests his theory using data from Greece.

further reading

Amelia Hoover Green, The Commander's Dilemma. Hoover Green is interested in measuring both lethal and non-lethal violence against civilians. The commander's dilemma is training soldiers to kill without inspiring them to indiscriminate violence. Hoover Green argues that institutionalized training can change the "repertoire" of violence that a force uses (or refrains from using) against civilians, using El Salvador as a case study.

David Kilcullen, Blood Year. What went wrong in Syria.

David Kilcullen, Counterinsurgency. A collection of Kilcullen's articles. The description of his experiences as part of a peacekeeping force in East Timor is particularly interesting.

David Kilcullen, Out of the Mountains. Argues that we should anticipate modern, interconnected, urban warfare where the line between institutional/state and independent actors is not clear. Case studies include Kingston (Jamaica), Mogadishu, and Bombay.

Carlos Marighella, Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla. 1960s training manual for leftist insurgents.

Anna Politkovskaya, A Small Corner of Hell. The war in Chechnya, as experienced by ordinary people. Politkovskaya was later murdered for her reporting. Review here.

US Army Sergeants Major Academy, Long Hard Road: NCO Experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. First-person accounts by non-commissioned officers who served in a variety of roles.


Apr. 21st, 2019 12:12 pm
malkingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] malkingrey
Happy Easter, for those who celebrate it; happy springtime, for those in the northern hemisphere; for everybody else, may you have as happy a day as you would wish for.

Meanwhile, I am contemplating Easter dinner, which is mostly uncomplicated stuff -- baked potatoes and a spiral-sliced ham, plus asparagus with hollandaise sauce -- except for the boozy trifle I'm planning for dessert. And the only actually challenging aspect of that is the scratch custard, which I'd hoped to shuffle off onto Himself, except that he's taking ambulance duty down in Groveton and won't be home until dinnertime.

We used to make that trifle fairly often, before we had four kids and couldn't justify making a dish that contained a cup of sherry and a quarter cup of brandy when we'd have to say to them, "sorry, this isn't for you." And by the time we'd taken out enough of the ingredients pre-soaking to set aside for the kids, there wouldn't have been enough left to be worth the trifle . . . uh, trouble.

But I've got a lovely glass trifle bowl, and I'm looking forward to using it.


Apr. 21st, 2019 11:42 am
kass: A glass of iced coffee with milk. (coffee)
[personal profile] kass
1. Two sedarim -- one with family, one with the shul. So many melodies and words, songs and flavors, that connect me -- in to myself, up to my Source, through to the generations.

2. My kid's glee at whacking [personal profile] sanj and me with a scallion last night at the second seder.

3. Matzah brei for breakfast. I am firmly in the savory camp (this is matzah chilaquiles, basically, not French toast) and mmm, so peppery and good.

4. Iced coffee on my mirpesset. And I put the screens back in four of the downstairs windows and have opened them! because it feels like spring today!

5. A few precious hours of post-seder downtime before the workweek begins, hallelujah.

We must never tell and we won't burn

Apr. 21st, 2019 04:55 am
sovay: (Default)
[personal profile] sovay
To the list of very great witch films in this world everyone should please add Nietzchka Keene's The Juniper Tree (1990), seen tonight at the Brattle Theatre by me and [personal profile] rushthatspeaks.

Lovingly restored by the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research and the Film Foundation, this first of only three features by the Boston-born academic and filmmaker is a luminous, numinous, black-and-white microbudget reworking of the Grimm fairy tale, shot on location in Iceland in the summer of 1986 and set centuries earlier in a medieval landscape of turf houses, wooden crosses, and witchcraft, all plain and real as black sand beaches and meadows star-burst with angelica, basalt cliffs and white-spuming waterfalls, the hollow roar of waves and overcast thunder, the northern lights streaming in the sky like the wordless voices of women singing. Through this richly elemental, sparsely human mise-en-scène wander Margit (Björk, pre-Sugarcubes and still credited as Guðmundsdóttir) and her older sister Katla (Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir), looking for a place "where . . . no one will know us," since where they came from their mother was stoned and burnt for a witch. The floating body of an unknown woman, hands bound behind her in the dark reflections of a reed-draggled river, tells them they haven't gone far enough. Katla nonetheless swears to find a husband by magic if she has to, to secure her sister's safety and her own; the blond-bearded young widower Jóhann (Valdimar Örn Flygenring) takes her home after no more enchantment than a tumble in a field, but she rides a triple circle around him just to be sure. Watching her suspiciously from his father's arms is motherless Jónas (Geirlaug Sunna Þormar), towheaded and uncharmed; he breaks the circle, running away into the long, dim, low-beamed house where he will never eye his stepmother without resentment, increasingly accusing her of witchcraft less because he spied her murmuring over charms of burnt braided hair than because it is the easiest stone to throw at an interloper, an outsider, a woman who's "different." With his step-aunt, however, he forms an uneasy, mystical alliance borne out of their shared grief and Margit's visions, which reassure him that his mother remembers and protects him, watching from a raven's black-glass eye as he lays flower wreaths on her grave. "You look like our mother did when she saw," Katla observes wistfully, watching her sister's eyes darken with visions in the fire: a silhouette on the ridge, a wheeling bird. "She could tell everything by what she saw. But I can't see." The last figure in this small cast, as spare and concentrated as a murder ballad, is the mother herself (Guðrún Gísladóttir), glimpsed first as a seated shadow through the small blurred glass of a window, then as a saintlike apparition on the sea-stacks, finally as herself, a wry-smiling silent woman with a black void where her breastbone should be, into which Margit thrusts a hand as suddenly as a gasp. "She can't speak," she warns Jónas as they kneel before the mother he tries to but cannot see, either sitting on a stone or picking burrs from sheep's wool in a space of shared memory. "When people are dead, they can't speak anymore." They can still tell stories, though, and in this film, as in the original tale whose bones can still be seen shining and disarticulated beneath the earth-swept phantasmagoria of Keene's imagination, they do.

I had previously seen Björk as an actress only in Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark (2000), which I hated so much that I have difficulty even in hindsight evaluating her performance; she's astonishing here. With her dark shag of hair and her long seal's eyes, she convincingly plays a grave, fey adolescent despite having just given birth to her own first child and there is nothing twee or crystally in her half-absent singing as she gathers driftwood at the crunching foot of the sea-cliffs or roams the black-cragged hillsides after her brother-in-law's cows, just as her visions, while often haloed by choral rises in Larry Lipkis' alternatingly folk-angular and modern-atonal score, are as clear as candles or carded wool or racks of stockfish drying, so that we must accept them all of a piece with the natural and inhabited world. Hers is the voice we hear most often on the densely layered soundtrack, musingly telling and retelling a story of stranger marriage and children turned to birds. Elsewhere we hear rhyming charms that blend Christian invocations with pagan correspondences, Bible readings with cautionary tales of wives stolen by trolls. (After hearing the latter, Margit imagines herself curled in a glass coffin as if sleeping, hauntingly touched by another story of violent stepmothers and sorcery.) There might be another world in that white-night sky of wings and seabirds' cries. The juniper tree that springs from a buried bone is as actual as the raven that roosts in its branches. I am reluctant even to describe the character of the mother as a ghost—we were told in the very first lines of the movie that her soul was bound to a bird's heart until the heart should break and that seems to be exactly what governs the duration of her appearance in the story. Perhaps all women's work in this world is witchcraft, spells, sight, and survival. Certainly we see no women who don't practice it, even Margit knotting a charm out of a raven's feather for Jónas to wear around his neck. When they lie under a black overhang of rock, playing a checkers-like game of shells on an outspread cloth and picking at her ambiguous origins ("But you can't change where you're from."–"But what if where you're from isn't there anymore?"), it takes only a small twist in the conversation before Jónas is angrily pelting his outlander stepmother's sister with the shells, drawing blood from her face like a mimicry of stones. "She's a witch," he chants vengefully, swashing the tasseled heads off child-high grasses, "she's a witch, she's a witch, she's a witch, she's a witch!" Katla grinds herbs for a spell of fertility with the same workaday motions with which she spins wool or sews pockets; when the time comes, she cuts fingers from hands and stitches lips as closed as Loki's with the same quiet practicality. I spent the second half of this movie waiting to see if someone would journey to the underworld and I'm not completely sure that they don't, disappearing over the rocky rim of the horizon like the sun winking out. It wouldn't make a difference to the narrative if not.

The Juniper Tree was written, produced, directed, and edited by Keene, who died in 2004 and left her archives to the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research and as near as damn it disappeared from the historical record. You could, if you felt like it, justly pair this movie with Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957), Sergei Parajanov's Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965), Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev (1966), Pier Paolo Pasolini's Medea (1969), Neil Jordan and Angela Carter's The Company of Wolves (1984), or Aleksandr Rogozhkin's The Cuckoo (2002). I have never encountered it in discussion of any of them. I had never heard of it at all before last month. Even when I was agreeing to watch Dancer in the Dark with a college friend who was a major Björk fan, we didn't run across it, and it's not like I never read about cinematic adaptations of folktales. I am profoundly grateful it's in the wild again, even if I can't yet encourage everyone toward a home release; it reminded me of all the films mentioned above, but its images, its language, even its rhythms are deeply its own. The cinematography by Randy Sellars could be freeze-framed for icons, the uncanny effects by Pat O'Neill are as wrong and as familiar as dreams. It ends with a story where it began with a rhyme and it even fulfills its epigraph by T.S. Eliot. "And so they stayed behind and knew what the birds know," but if you want to know what that is, you'll have to let these ghosts of thread and feather and blood and 35 mm tell you. This spell brought to you by my seeing backers at Patreon.

2019 Yuletide Schedule (approx)

Apr. 21st, 2019 08:07 pm
morbane: uletide mod image of guinea pig among daisies (mod)
[personal profile] morbane posting in [community profile] yuletide_admin
See you again in the last quarter of 2019, as follows:

Nominations: 2-10 October
Signups: 27 October - 3 November
Deadline: 18 December (as usual)
Reveals: 25 December (as always)

We look forward to it!
yhlee: Mirror Georgiou from Star Trek: Discovery, eating an apple (ST:D Mirror Georgiou apple)
[personal profile] yhlee
Read more... ) are there going to be more Short Treks? Or does anyone have fic recs? I'd happily read gen about Tilly or Reno or the minor bridge crew characters, Sarek-Amanda-Spock-Michael family feels, dirtybadwrong Mirror!Georgiou/Michael, anything happy about Captain Pike or Cornwell...or ANYTHING cracky like coffee shop AU or whatever. XD Actually, I'm probably most likely to read coffee shop or mundane AU because that's where my brain is right now, LOL.

this is a torch song

Apr. 20th, 2019 10:56 pm
oliviacirce: (revenge//timepunching)
[personal profile] oliviacirce
And, on the third poetry-and-theatre night of this week, a poem at least somewhat in keeping with the show I saw tonight—Norma Jeane Baker of Troy at The Shed—about which...I have some mixed feelings. Content warning for discussion of rape in this poem.

Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing )

Do I know anyone

Apr. 20th, 2019 05:22 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Who can turn a few reviews into epub books?

(no subject)

Apr. 20th, 2019 02:59 pm
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
[personal profile] yhlee
reading for Phoenix Extravagant

from The Met's essays on East Asian art (hat-tip to [personal profile] mecurtin

(yes i am literally reading my way through relevant-to-this-novel things in alphabetical order)

- Art of the Edo Period
- Art of the Korean Renaissance
- Art of the Pleasure Quarters and Ukiyo-e Style
- Asuka and Nara Periods (538-794)
- Buddhism and Buddhist Art
- Chinese Buddhist Sculpture
- Chinese Calligraphy
- Chinese Cloisonné
- Chinese Gardens and Collectors' Rocks
- Chinese Handscrolls
- Chinese Hardstone Carvings
- Chinese Painting
- Daoism and Daoist Art
- The Decoration of Arms and Armor [All my arms & armor books, including the ones that talked about decorative techniques, perished in the flood, FML.]
- East and West: Chinese Export Porcelain
- East Asian Cultural Exchange in Tiger and Dragon Paintings [Haha, I think of ones you can find in the tourist markets in Seoul going for a song. Elsewhere too, I'm sure.]
- Edo-Period Japanese Porcelain
- Folios from the Jami' al-tavarikh (Compendium of Chronicles)
- Golden Treasures: The Royal Tombs of Silla
- Goryeo Celadon
- Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.)
Heian Period (794-1185)

for future reference:
- Chinese pigment [Wikipedia]

recently read, other
- Alison Green. Ask a Manager.
Picked this up on sale as an ebook a little bit back. I could have wished for less scattershot organization within chapters, although the chapters themselves were organized by topic (e.g. talks with coworkers, talks with your boss, etc.). Cannot comment on the efficacy of the advice since my job (writing sf/f freelance) is...idiosyncratic. My favorite parts were the far-out-there excerpted letters/answers (like the one about the woman who had a worker who was hexing coworkers she didn't like!!!); less practical to be sure, but I would have found an entire book of the wildest stories more entertaining for anecdote-gathering purposes.

currently reading
- Jason Shepherd. Learn Welsh Now.
A beginning Welsh ebook with linked audio files for pronunciation, which are still up and very handy. Chapters are short, with vocabulary lists, rough pronunciation guides, grammar tips, and quizzes. I'm slowly working through this as a supplement to Duolingo Welsh.
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
[personal profile] sovay
Despite a late start, I slept nearly nine hours into this afternoon and dreamed about some lost episodes of a Twilight Zone-ish, Outer Limits-ish nonexistent TV show that awake I am somewhat saddened by, because changeling stories that end in death between worlds are not all that radical. I suspect I may have been influenced by the discussion surrounding the recent season finale of The Magicians.

I thought I should mention that I have blurbed Bogi Takács' forthcoming poetry collection Algorithmic Shapeshifting (Aqueduct Press). So has Ada Hoffmann. We both used the words "visceral" and "Talmudic," which should suggest something about the poems. It doesn't look as though copies are yet available for preorder, but e-ARCs for reviewers are an option.

The plan for the rest of the afternoon is to pick up a book from the library and meet [personal profile] rushthatspeaks for a movie and dinner. And then maybe go home and go back to sleep. I cannot stay asleep for a month, but I am really starting to wish it was economically and physiologically feasible.

Female buddy movies

Apr. 20th, 2019 03:19 pm
batwrangler: Just for me. (Default)
[personal profile] batwrangler
Can I have a female buddy movie that isn't about being as crass as male buddy movies?

I'm not interested in drugs, smoking, casual sex, or engaging in crime sprees and other irresponsible behaviors. I mean, yay! for the women who are getting what they want now that these films are happening, but I'd like something different.

Anyone got any recs?

Update on various aggravations

Apr. 20th, 2019 10:39 am
rachelmanija: (Naked and dripping wet)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
1. Chef Nourish refunded my money (minus $23 for the two gross meals I already received.) Also, my Yelp review is still up. I'll take that as a win.

2. The bookcase saga continues. To refresh your memory, one of a set of two matching bookcases arrived without the unique bolts needed to put them together. The seller refused to send replacement bolts. Amazon said they were a third party and not their problem.

I finally got the seller to tell me the name of the manufacturer of the bolts, and inquired with them. They promptly replied to tell me to take it up with Amazon. I told them Amazon wouldn't help, and got this reply:

Yes, they are a third party and we do not sell products to Amazon. They sold it to you, so they take responsibility. They should send you a new bookcase.

ARRRRRRGH. I sent them an email repeating that Amazon told me to take it up with the seller, and the seller told me to take it up with the manufacturer. At that point, either taking pity on me or wanting to stop getting messages, they promised to send me more bolts. We'll see if they ever arrive.

3. In the meantime, I gave in and ordered a replacement bookcase from the same people (I know, but it's a matching set). They sent me the matched set (i.e., two).

While attempting to drag them inside, Alex bolted between my legs and was down the stairs in literally seconds. In a panic, I rushed after him.

I should mention at this point that it was late at night and I wore only a very skimpy nightshirt with nothing underneath. Also, since I'd been in my chair at that moment, I did not have my crutches with me, something whose implications only dawned on me when I was at the bottom of the very dirty stairs I had just literally slithered down bare-assed.

With no other choice, I slithered to Alex, who luckily hadn't gone far and was lurking under a nearby bush, grabbed him, and then levered myself back up the dirty stairs, still bare-assed and now with the additional weight of a cat. Let's just say it was not the most fun thing ever.

Goddamn cats! Anyone got any ideas on how to keep Alex from bolting again? Other than locking them out of the living room every time I open the outside doors, which is not remotely practical due to the layout of my apartment. I live near an extremely busy street, so I really don't want them escaping.

The bookcases are still outside my door, so I have no idea whether or not they came with the bolts.


Apr. 20th, 2019 04:58 pm
rydra_wong: From the film "The Last Flight": hands holding a champagne glass containing a set of false teeth. (last flight -- teeth)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
YMMV, but I would commend the recent "In Our Time" episode on "The Evolution of Teeth" to the attention of anyone who would like to experience some pleasant mild intellectually-stimulating body horror.

Features the term "skin-teeth". DID THE TEETH START IN THE SKIN AND MIGRATE INWARDS OR IN THE PHARYNX AND MOVE OUTWARDS. Also sharks. Lots of sharks. or iTunes or your podcatcher of choice

The Goblin Emperor e-book deal

Apr. 20th, 2019 10:09 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Tor is running a promotion where The Goblin Emperor e-book is $1.99. (Even though Macmillan's site still says $8.99, all the links have the right price.) Obviously this is a golden opportunity. :)

And were we not lovely, then

Apr. 20th, 2019 11:02 am
musesfool: eucalyptus by stephen meyers (Default)
[personal profile] musesfool
by Cecilia Woloch

Didn’t I stand there once,
white-knuckled, gripping the just-lit taper,
swearing I’d never go back?
And hadn’t you kissed the rain from my mouth?
And weren’t we gentle and awed and afraid,
knowing we’d stepped from the room of desire
into the further room of love?
And wasn’t it sacred, the sweetness
we licked from each other’s hands?
And were we not lovely, then, were we not
as lovely as thunder, and damp grass, and flame?


a deathless, inexhaustible wine

Apr. 20th, 2019 12:10 am
oliviacirce: (last unicorn//teh_indy)
[personal profile] oliviacirce
I didn't post a poem yesterday because it has been a hell of a week and I was too exhausted; but yesterday I watched the season finale of The Magicians, and today I went to see Hadestown on Broadway, and you know what that means? That means it's time for Rilke. Here are two sonnets from Sonnets to Orpheus, one for yesterday and one for today; normally I post the German as well as the translation, but I'm tired and I don't want to type it up, so I'm going straight to the excellent Stephen Mitchell translations. (I recommend his editions—they're usually bilingual and very good.)

Simple, for a god. )
sovay: (Viktor & Mordecai)
[personal profile] sovay
And tonight after all the guests from the seder had gone home we vacuumed the eleventh plague off the walls and ceilings of three different rooms, for it came in the form of tiny, tiny midges slipping through the window screens and homing straight for the lights and it was not as gross as the first plague or as fatal as the last, but it was impressively obnoxious. It was a good seder all the same. Every year is different and what matters is that you open the door to the stranger: let all who are thirsty have to drink, let all who are hungry be fed, let all who are enslaved be free. Next year in Jerusalem, next year in freedom as my mother says. Chag sameach, all.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu

I wanted a piece of jewelry to commemorate handing off Con or Bust, among other things, but nothing was really grabbing me, so I outsourced creativity and asked Elise Matthesen to make me a surprise pendant. I prompted soft green (after a necklace I bought last Readercon and broke a while ago) and/or freedom. The result is called "Breathing Room" and it's glorious; it makes me feel like I'm wearing a protective amulet or armor. I posted pictures on Twitter.

(Elise is having a big sale now and has promised to do something with the makes-a-surprise later this weekend, so check the shop out!)


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Decluttering Drawers: Bedroom

Apr. 19th, 2019 03:11 pm
rachelmanija: (Dollhouse)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Learning how to fold things so they are in horizontal rows rather than vertical stacks is definitely the point where this tipped over into "hobby." However, it does make stuff WAY easier to find.

These are before-and-after aerial shots of my T-shirt drawer:

(no subject)

Apr. 19th, 2019 04:00 pm
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
still rsi left wrist

plassyuing flight rising bc i can do that w right mouse hand

also sryth

& weirdly, ipad & pencil 2 drawing on procreate. last night: sketches of pike & enperoro georgiou

ara ius playing the game arsenal an fps w evil chickens. i thought of you, [personal profile] rachelmanija

oik, typing 2 hard. see y'all l8r

Changelog Digest for Fri, Apr 19

Apr. 19th, 2019 03:08 pm
kareila: woman with red hair and glasses looking into a computer screen (oracle)
[personal profile] kareila posting in [community profile] changelog_digest


cbd35b8: Issue #2378: properly anchor header navlinks in Tectonic
Tweak CSS in Tectonic layout to prevent wandering navlinks.
096eefc: Issue #2376: more "Other Sites" upkeep: remove Delicious
Remove Delicious from 'Other Services' on profile. (RIP)
95c112e: Issue #2356: remove Yahoo Messenger from user profiles
Remove Yahoo Messenger from 'Other Services' on profile. (RIP)
6f8e3b2: Issue #2391: Don't stripped meta tag when 'use layout stylesheet' is unchecked
Don't remove the mobile viewport when unchecking 'use layout stylesheet' in settings.
f97ee3d: Issue #2412: don't re-invent version comparison
Use built-in version parser to compare module versions in
musesfool: Kaylee as Delight (delight)
[personal profile] musesfool
Only a year and two months after I moved in, my mirrors are finally hung! Pics! I'm so pleased with how they look and the guy was so fast! He was done with both in less than an hour! Next weekend, the bench is assembled and that'll go under the mirror in the bedroom - between the windows but away from the radiator - and everything will be complete!!!

The exterminator came also, which is good because last night was like a nightmare in the kitchen. Things had been mostly quiet on the bug front lately, and I guess I got complacent because I was not prepared at all for last night. But I watched him spray the baseboards and put some gel on the lip of the backsplash above the sink where I can't reach, and hopefully that will take care of the problem. There's no food out and the sink is dry after 8 pm, and I wish they would just go away. It's so upsetting.

I also got the laundry done, and I'll fold it tonight while watching the Mets. Yesterday, I caught up on Brooklyn Nine Nine, which was a good choice, because it made me laugh a lot, and then last night's episode made me laugh even more. Everything with Holt was COMEDY GOLD. And Mark Evan Jackson looks amazingly attractive with that beard.

In other news, did you know that jelly shoes are in fashion again? I would like a pair of gold sparkly ones, but I doubt at this point I could wear them comfortably. I lived in them in the early 80s though. And those awful Dr. Scholl's sandals - you know the ones! - before graduating to Candie's.

Anyway, here is today's poem:

All Objects Reveal Something About the Body
by Catie Rosemurgy

Crisp is to the apple what
flexed is to the body.

Poor apple.

Being bitten is to the crisp apple
what walking is to the ripe body, but it's more complicated than that:

the apple of the face has been given
to the running juice of the body

and the body, which is often gracious,
makes it shine.

Lucky apple.

Having a core is to the apple
what having a core is to the body, city, method, circumstance, endeavor.

Having a core is flower-shaped and hurts
in the way that having a shape hurts, which is to say

it hurts ironically, because to have limits
is not just to make a declaration upon a mountainside,

it is also to be the mountainside. Having a flowering core
also hurts in the way that being flower-like always hurts,

which is to say sexually, as if the whole self
has exceeded the skin, which it hasn't, which means

we always seem to be opening but never ever do.
Both these types of suffering color the air

when we pause to have them. The affected atoms
are hard to see amongst the billions

of sofa atoms, newsprint atoms
but, like the illnesses in the crystalline sea, they are there.

Red apple sliced, quartered, salted. Green apple,

alone in the basket.
Anything left on the shelf becomes weak,

suggestible, vulnerable to other shapes, hungry to be refilled
by something other than itself,

a poison apple.
The joining we do with others needs containing.

Apple pie.
Imagine the mess. Imagine a finger touching the sack of the heart.

Imagine being stopped, controlled that powerfully.
Imagine nothing like that being possible. Nothing ever stopping you

at the root of the breath. Huge apple.
The world in reference to you. How you move. Time a backdrop.

Or close the other eye: you in reference to the world.
How it varies and happens simultaneously.

Good morning.
Little apple.

rachelmanija: (Fowl: Evil Chicken)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
A delightful middle-grade novel about a girl who acquires a flock of chickens with superpowers.

I feel like that’s really all that needs to be said. Either this is something you immediately want to read, or not. But a few more things I liked about it…

- It’s epistolatory, told completely in the form of letters, chicken quizzes and pamphlets, to-do lists, etc.

- There are a lot of completely accurate chicken facts.

- The superpowers are used the way that actual chickens would use superpowers if they had them. They’re not superintelligent chickens, just regular chickens with unusual abilities.

- The heroine, Sophie, is biracial (white father, Mexican-American mother) and while this is relevant to the story, it’s not what the story is about. Are you or do you know a Latina girl who wants a book where someone like them is the heroine and it’s not about Issues? Do they like chickens and/or The X-Men? Then they are the perfect reader for this book.

- Honestly though anyone is the perfect reader for this book. I guess unless they hate and fear chickens.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

larryhammer: a symbol used in a traditional Iceland magic spell of protection (protection)
[personal profile] larryhammer
This morning, after helping me make brei, the Eaglet tried some plain matzoh, declared they like it, and cheerfully took half a square to the couch to munch on.

During Passover cleaning, New Cat (aka Princess Mischa Fuzzybutt) got outside three times -- and attempted several more breaks. She is totally getting locked in the bedroom for the seder. We do not need her personally welcoming Elijah.

A safe and happy Pesach to you all.

(Especially all firstborn children -- be careful tonight!)


Subject quote from La Belle Dame sans Merci, John Keats.

Hooray for needles?

Apr. 19th, 2019 08:36 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I heard back from my doctor's office and they don't have a Measles Mumps Rubella shot listed on my immunization record, so I checked and a shot is fully covered by my insurance, without me having to first get a blood test to check the antibody titer. So I plan to go and get stuck with a needle at lunch, rather than go through all the business of getting a blood test and waiting for results. ETA: Done!

I had mumps when I was, I think, seven years old (I suspect, but do not know, that the vaccine either wasn't required or widely available when I was getting childhood vaccinations), and childhood measles vaccine, and I think the booster I had back in the 1980s was a full modern MMR. But I have no records of any of that, and apparently, immunity can be imperfect, especially for measles, depending on several factors. Also, there have been cases of mumps at the university where I work and nearby, and measles keeps popping up all over due mostly to self-centered idiots who don't vaccinate their children. I don't mind getting a shot to increase herd immunity.

My gym schedule this week was off due to me being sleep-deprived on Wednesday. Last night, I did my half-hour jog and some leg/core exercises. The first fifteen minutes or so of the jog was rough, but I kept going, and it got easier so long as I didn't try to go too fast. I managed to speed up a little for a minute or two here and there. My new Superfit Hero leggings had arrived, so I wore those, and they worked out very well. The brand has pockets now (which I don't actually need, but pockets!, and the fabric feels a little thinner and smoother than my Kickstarter pair.

"Getting paid for every jar"

Apr. 18th, 2019 10:26 pm
rosefox: A person in a gas mask. (illness)
[personal profile] rosefox
Today I got blood drawn to verify my immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella.

If you're in or near an area with an active measles outbreak, or if you happen to be seeing your doctor for some other reason, I encourage you to get your immunity checked, especially if you're too young to have had measles and too old to have gotten a second dose of the vaccine when that recommendation was added in 1989. For all the talk of unvaccinated kids, it's non-immune adults who can do the most harm, because they're the most mobile. The guy who started the Michigan outbreak assumed he was immune, and thought he had bronchitis; then he infected 40 people. So please get checked out, and get your MMR if you need it, and do your part for herd immunity to counteract those who won't or can't.

My pediatrician was on the ball and I got an MMR in 1991. I'm almost certainly immune. But we live on the edge of one of the neighborhoods that's had reported cases*, and we frequently shop in that neighborhood, and Kit plays on the local playground with kids from that neighborhood... so we're all getting blood tests just in case.

* I've been thinking about how easy it is for this to turn into "I don't want my child to play with those dirty children from that segregated community" and the like. I have been reading some Orthodox Jewish news sites—all of which are pro-vax, bless them—and one published an op-ed that bluntly said, "Letting your kids get measles instead of getting them vaccinated plays right into 'dirty Jew' stereotypes and harms the whole community." So I am being conscious with my wording, and glad that that discussion is happening within Orthodox communities, and keeping my very non-Orthodox self the hell out of it.

Kit's pediatrician says the dose Kit got at 12 months will protect them until they turn four and get the second dose, and there's no need to give it early (which he does do for children traveling to epidemic areas). But he's keeping an eye out for reports of measles on our end of the neighborhood, and giving babies their first doses as early as it's safe to do.

I hate this. I hate every part of this. I hate how easily anti-vaxers prey on vulnerable people. I hate that this is still, still, based on fear of autism (and don't get me started on autism and Jewishness, because whoo boy there's a lot to talk about there). I just want everyone to be safe and healthy, especially the little babies who get no say in any of this.
malkingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] malkingrey
When I check the records for our back yard weather station, I see that the barometer has been heading steadily downward since about 8:30 this morning. This may account for at least some portion of today's increasingly vile mood on my part.

Quick question for wheelchair users

Apr. 18th, 2019 05:42 pm
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
This is for something I'm writing. The character uses a manual wheelchair. She's visiting an office and is impressed by how accessible it is, unlike pretty much the entire rest of the world. What features can it have that she'd notice?

It's a New York security agency which she's visiting as a client, but she can also notice ways in which it's accessible for anyone who works there as well. None of the current employees are physically disabled, so she'd be seeing the potential rather than noticing someone else navigating it in a wheelchair.


Apr. 18th, 2019 03:21 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I think today will be the elderly dog next door's final day. Poor Dakota is very, very old for a dog and time has caught up with her.
rachelmanija: (Dollhouse)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Being on crutches, in an apartment up a flight of stairs, has certainly made decluttering more challenging. I cannot take anything to trash/recycling, but have to get someone else to do it for me (and I live alone). Also, it's a lot more difficult to carry things from room to room.

Nevertheless, I persisted!

KonMari has completely changed a lot of household chores for me, from things I hate and avoid to things I actively want to do as a combination of relaxation/meditative activity and geeky hobby. (I still hate washing dishes though). Sherwood and Layla, who have both seen my apartment in various stages, can attest to how much this has changed how it looks.

Here is a set of shelves in my kitchen which had not been decluttered in twelve years. There's a huge space in the back of them which is very hard to reach into. Consequently, when I stash anything there, it tends to drift toward the back, where I can then neither see nor reach it. Otherwise I only opened it to grab a tool from the tool box.

The other day, having hired someone to run some errands for me and also take out the trash, I parked myself on the floor and pulled everything out, a task which at times involved lying flat on my stomach and using a tool to sweep things toward me. I really wish I'd photographed the floor once everything was out, because it was a hair-raising mound of trash and weird junk. I found a half-drunk bottle of Kahlua which had probably been there for twelve years. I found paper towels so old that they shattered like glass. I found a bag of birdseed that was at least ten years old, dating back from when I thought birds would come if I put out food. (They wouldn't.)

I dumped the trash in trash bags and sorted the rest. Here is the end result:

comment amnesty

Apr. 18th, 2019 01:16 pm
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
[personal profile] yhlee
i have rsi flare so 1 hand typing only, will re[ply to ppl later

also hunkerted dowm due to tormado watch lol

styay safe ppl


Apr. 18th, 2019 07:07 pm
rydra_wong: Doonesbury: Mark announcing into a microphone, "That's guilty! Guilty, guilty, guilty!!" (during the Watergate scandal) (guilty)
[personal profile] rydra_wong

That's not exonerated! Not exonerated, not exonerated, not exonerated!!

11 instances of obstruction, oh my. And that looks a lot like a Scottish verdict on the collusion, too.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Ben and Rose have just gotten married when they receive a letter from Hannibal saying that he's being held prisoner in a Gothic mansion in Mexico where he's forced to play the violin for the delusional owner of the mansion who has regular hallucinatory conversations with Aztec Gods; he can't flee because, among other obstacles, the police want to hang him as the believe he poisoned the owner's son. Ben and Rose to the rescue!

This had a lot of very thought-provoking and sensitive stuff on the historical treatment of mental illness, legal slavery vs slavery in all but name, religion, and Ben's dilemma of never having a place where he can both feel at home and not have to deal with racism. This was all neatly married to a solid murder mystery, a family drama, and tons of adventure and bonding. Hambly is really good at writing established couples who are still madly in love, and I really enjoyed all the Ben/Rose moments as well as the Ben/Rose & Hannibal. The supporting characters were vivid and interesting, as was the new setting.

The climax didn't rise to quite the batshit heights of the last one, but not for want of trying.

Read more... )

Grimness quotient: Low, all things considered. There's a visit to an asylum which is awful and tragic, but the man running it is compassionate; it's mostly about how people just had no idea what to do about mental illness then. Some people stuck in miserable nunneries. Poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, but also lots of people just living their lives and managing to make pretty good ones despite it all.

Days of the Dead (Benjamin January, Book 7)

pictures from our trip

Apr. 18th, 2019 01:06 pm
the_shoshanna: my boy kitty (Default)
[personal profile] the_shoshanna
Geoff took more than eight hundred pictures, and I took twenty or thirty. One of my post-trip jobs is to go through and weed our pictures down into something feasible for showing to family members and interested friends, and I thought some of the people reading might be interested in seeing a few, too -- so here they are! Uh, more than a few.

The photos themselves are in Dropbox, and I'm just linking to them here; clicking the links will take you to them.

At Waitangi Treaty Grounds:
The gorgeously carved Treaty House
A closeup of the carvings over the doorway Remember I said "prominent genitalia"? (But SFW because of cultural and artistic importance.)
The gorgeously carved and paneled interior
The opening of the challenge/welcome ceremony An armed warrior approaches us.

The Bay of Islands:
The view from the top of the island we had lunch on, when we went kayaking Honestly, New Zealand is spectacular.

The mouth of the first glowworm cave we visited Remember I said the big touristy one was glowworm Disneyland, and this one . . . wasn't? Yep.
Inside the first cave This was the one with lights and a pathway built through it.
Glowworm web strands hanging down With a light shining on them, you can see the individual threads and the droplets of sticky liquid on them, like tiny jewels.
Closeup of a glowworm
Inside the for-real unimproved cave that afternoon, with wetsuit, gumboots, and helmet
There were some rude cave formations in there 🍆

Our big hike: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing
A long view of where we were going and what we were climbing
Early in the hike, just after dawn Not so challenging yet!
Then we started climbing
And climbing
Until we reached the top Steaming ground is a warm place to sit to have lunch!
The steep descent down the other side You can see how crowded the trail is getting as the day goes on.
The view as we came down the far side
Taranaki Falls, our slowing-it-down hike the next day

Orekei Kurako Thermal Grounds:
The grounds as seen from across the water The ferry is at the dock on the right, and you can see the safety rail along the start of the pathway. Note the flat rock face slanting down to the water.
What that flat rock face looks like close up
The pathway built over the boiling groundwater
Looking down at the "artist's terraces"
Closeup of more multicolored silica deppsits and extremophile algae
VIDEO of a bubbling mud pool
VIDEO of steaming ground (at the Craters of the Moon)

Whakarewarewa Village:
Dancers performing
One of the natural geothermal pools in the middle of the village
Village kids in the community baths that that pool drains into

Our last day:
Gorgeous scenery from the top of Rainbow Mountain, our final hike
Looking in another direction from Rainbow Mountain Look, there's a lot of gorgeous scenery in New Zealand, okay.
Inscription at the mountaintop, honoring the local iwi
The start of the suspended Redwoods Treewalk
On the treewalk, high enough to look at tree ferns level-on . . .
. . . and from above

In conclusion, glowworms are cool.

A Timely Reminder

Apr. 18th, 2019 12:59 pm
malkingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] malkingrey
(Reposted from my editorial blog, in a spirit of shameless self-promotion)

My annual editorial services springtime sale ends April 21. From now until Sunday midnight, all novel-length edits are 30% off. As always, you can purchase a gift certificate for a writer friend, or purchase one for yourself to be redeemed when your work-in-progress is ready for editing.
sovay: (Claude Rains)
[personal profile] sovay
I couldn't remember the last time I'd watched a contemporary, mainstream, non-genre movie, so I decided to give one an experimental try. I picked Nicole Holofcener's The Land of Steady Habits (2018) because it was on Netflix and starred Ben Mendelsohn, whom I have liked ever since he strode across the rainy black sands of the planet Lah'mu in a dramatically unsuitable cape. I enjoyed it; I may even recommend it. I think I have much more of a framework for talking about film noir.

The title is a double-edged nickname for the state of Connecticut, in whose commuter-line suburbs the action, such as it is, of this astringent, empathic sort-of-comedy takes place. Metaphysically it is the plodding routine out of which our semi-hero imagined he would phoenix when he retired early from a high-flying finance job, divorced his wife of three decades, and moved out of their lovingly gardened five-bedroom into a cookie-cutter condo which he now decorates, quizzically and haphazardly, with retail-store knick-knacks and a superfluity of Christmas ornaments; actually all he did was blow up his life. The first time we catch sight of Anders Harris (Mendelsohn), he's staring with bemused determination at the rainbow-stacked walls of towels that dwarf his lanky, black-jacketed, basket-carrying figure at Bed, Bath & Beyond—a poetically dystopian shorthand for the combination of poshlost and decision freeze that now seems to govern Anders' life as he meanders through his aimless new routine of drinking too much and failing to satisfy the women he appears to meet exclusively while shopping, peering in at the windows of his old life as if not quite certain how he ended up on the outside of it, although his ex-wife Helene (Edie Falco) could tell him in so many words. "That's why we got divorced, right? We were all in the way of your happiness." Six months past her ex-husband's midlife implosion, she's the one blooming, her serious new relationship (Bill Camp) marred only by the disconnected incursions of Anders himself, loose end, loose cannon, loser in general. Did you hear about the time he drunkenly let himself into his old house and almost got conked with a golf club by his wife's new man? Or the time he did a hit off a bong with a bunch of high school kids and didn't even stop to ask if there was angel dust laced into that weed? He can't even summon the responsibility to co-parent his similarly floundering son Preston (Thomas Mann), instead falling into an awkwardly drug-fueled camaraderie with Charlie Ashford (Charlie Tahan), the sharp-spoken, artistically gifted, seriously troubled son of his former neighbors (Elizabeth Marvel and Michael Gaston). The Christmas season is coming on fast, one of those dry green winters we get so often nowadays. The two families chime and intertangle, slant-paralleled by their children whose flameouts are the visible symptoms of their parents' more successfully sublimated ills. Between them swings Anders in greying tardy adolescence, frequently absurd and never totally an asshole; what he is is what we don't know if he'll figure out before anyone else's life blows up to match.

In describing this film to [personal profile] spatch, I asked if it would be rude to liken it to American Beauty (1999) if that movie hadn't sucked on ice. I am afraid it is my major referent for white middle-class suburban angst on film; it is a genre I have consistently bounced off in literature, which means it intrigues me that I didn't hate The Land of Steady Habits. I think it helps that Anders, unlike Spacey's protagonist, does not signal his existential panic attack by setting his sexual sights on a teenager; he meets grotty-cute with fellow divorcée Barbara (Connie Britton) in the neon-pink men's room of a strip club where she groans, accepting the handful of wet paper towels that Anders chivalrously passes her over the top of the stall door, "I haven't thrown up in a club since I was twenty-two." With her, he can demonstrate a chagrined self-awareness that's better than self-deprecating charm, although he can still almost ruin a date just by opening his mouth at the end of it. (He manages to apologize for insulting her self-help book by admitting his own anomie, acknowledging that she does deserve her "best life." She accepts gracefully, settling into the bed behind him: "I know I do. That's why I bought the fucking book.") In terms of age-inappropriateness, it is messier and more interesting that he tries to treat like a rational age-mate an out-of-control adolescent desperately looking for a role model, and it is bracing that the film does not permit Charlie to find one in Anders. "You have the balls to live your life, dude!" the kid exhorts him, a two a.m. gate-crasher carrying a turtle in a blue cardboard Keds box, his wrists still braceleted with hospital ID plastic. "That's what sets you apart from the rest of these fucking zombies! You can't go halfway. You can't be you and stay in favor." Anders still full-body facepalming from the discovery that his idiot moment with the PCP has become the talk of their "really small town" is less than flattered by the proposition. I have seen Mendelsohn so often with violence simmering in his rangy frame, it's fascinating to see him play those same subcutaneous tensions for deadpan beats of comedy and a sympathy that the film never twists our arms to give. Nothing about the mess this character has made of his life valorizes or even emphasizes him past the fact that he's human and he's hurting: as with similar disaster zones played by Van Heflin, either that's enough or it isn't. Jurassic strata of cluelessness can flake off with a sudden glass-blue glance or a twitch of his long rueful mouth, or the density of his gaucherie can bring on its own pang of pity. Or just irritation. That is the other relevant difference from my memories of American Beauty, the possibility that Anders might be, in either the spiritual or the narratological senses, irredeemable, and if so the film would feel sorry for him but move on. We have the younger generation to worry about, so much more of their lives at the mercy of their mistakes. We have women like Barbara with her middle-aged curves and her gingery blonde mane of hair, apotropaically but sincerely worrying out loud that she's scared a date off by showing him photos of her adult kids. Turn the kaleidoscope and she could be the protagonist, or spiky Helene, or Sophie Ashford, gravely and piercingly taking care of the stray child within reach instead of her inaccessible own. In others of Holofcener's movies, I have the sense they would be.

As with Ida Lupino, I may have come into Holofcener's filmography at the least characteristic point: The Land of Steady Habits was her first movie with a male protagonist and her first time adapting and directing from another writer's material, in this case the same-named novel by Ted Thompson. I am not sure which of their faults it is that the film after an hour of gently drifting, colliding character study rather suddenly in the third act develops a plot, but while it's not a bad plot, it is signally less compelling to me than just watching these characters bounce around their lives in Westport, CT (played by Tarrytown, NY, which explains why I thought the downtown looked familiar). At its best it's as unpredictable as Anders and as impossible to look away from, whether trainwreck or grace; the cinematography by Alar Kivilo is mostly transparent prose, but every now and then it gifts the audience with a weird and lingering image like the opening shot of Anders vs. the towels or a boatyard of pleasure craft shrink-wrapped and dry-docked for winter like a flotilla of ghosts. Anders askew on a couch, his face illuminated blue-gold-green-pink by a multicolored tangle of Christmas lights. An open but untouched magnum of champagne being smashed, like a silent melodrama or a ship's christening, by the cowcatcher of an oncoming freight train. There are a couple of shots of salt marsh I'd swear I've seen from the Amtrak regional, the stiff tawny ripple of cordgrass and mirror-grey sea, gull-flecked seawalls, mirror-grey sky. Mendelsohn is wonderful, funny and heart-twisting and utterly natural once I got used to his American mumblecore accent; Britton is not in enough scenes, but she's brilliant in all the ones she gets. Tahan, Mann, Falco, even Gaston whose character is mostly defined by his cigar and his fondness for the word "irregardless" are all precise and recognizable people, types only insofar as the slice of affluent America to which they belong idiosyncratically exists. I'm all right with not living there, but I had a much better time with the parts that weren't salt marsh than I would have expected from a summary of prosperous ennui. This experiment brought to you by my steady backers at Patreon.

Hugo Help Please

Apr. 18th, 2019 11:05 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Which twelve of my reviews in 2018 were the best?
musesfool: tasty cosmopolitans (we'll laugh and we'll toast to nothing)
[personal profile] musesfool
So I woke up on Tuesday morning and I thought, I could take Thursday off and have a FIVE DAY weekend. And so that is what I did, and now i am home gloriously doing nothing today, except maybe laundry later. Tomorrow, someone is coming to hang my mirrors, and Saturday I have the cleaning service, so I will have to be up early, but today I slept in until 9! It was amazing!

Last night, I met L for dinner and then we went back to where she is apartment sitting for DG and chatted for a couple of hours, and I didn't get home until about midnight, but it was great just to hang out and talk. Dinner was good too, and there were two for one drinks, so she had some kind of blood orange cocktail and I had one two that had passion fruit and peach in it, and it was delicious.

Yesterday was full of surprising good things. I had my review, which went exceptionally well and better than I expected, given what happened last year. But boss3 said that not only had I risen to the occasion of having more and more work piled onto my plate, but she noticed that I had taken her advice from last year seriously and also seemed more engaged and interested in the work than I had been previously. So that was great.

Because of how the day was scheduled, I wasn't going to be able to eat lunch until 3:30, unless I ate at 12 noon, which I normally don't like doing, but I ran out and bought a bagel and scarfed it down, but after my review, it turned out that I did not have to cover reception, and in fact the receptionist had made me up a plate of food from a retirement party that had happened at lunchtime, and left it on my desk! So I ate a little bit of that (it was about 2:30 by that time, so my usual lunch hour), and then one of the other assistants guided me to where they were keeping the leftover cake, so I also got a piece of cake out of it.

That seemed like a good note to go out on for the week, so I'm glad I am off today, since yesterday could probably not be topped, unless they decided to give me a raise. Which sadly they did not, as there is no increase attached to the performance review process.

Now I need to find something to eat because I've just been drinking coffee all morning and it's starting to make me shaky.


Today's poem:

How to Write a Story
by Cyn Kitchen


here, we join Ted
a man in a tree.
how he got there
you decide.
scuttling branch to branch,
lowered by chopper, launched
from trebuchet, a beginning.
here he sits, whistling, whittling.
above, birds flit among leaves
below, pasture green & rolling.
Ted is in the tree, you put him there
but make no mistake it was under
his own power.
throw rocks at Ted.
start small,
bean him with pebbles.
muster strength to heave
stones fist-big,
boulders round & smooth as a heart.
observe. take notes.
consider more rocks.
let exhilaration blow through you
as you throw, observe, repeat.
do not go easy.
watch him in the tree, tattered
bleeding, wide-eyed
as an empty house.
writers never pity. 
this mess is of his own making.
it is not Ted's tree.
he does not live here; 
he was only visiting.
suddenly, a tornado
sweeping over the prairie.
there is no cover. this is
between Ted & the finger
of God that will flick him from
his branch. or
that hunter in boredom
will blow him off his high horse
double-ott buck,
send him in a high arc over
crest of hill.
perhaps the same chopper
could pluck him away.
a ladder? too easy.
nevertheless, get him down.
Ted is in handcuffs. the story took off
on its own while you were looking
straight at it. not what you had planned
but there it is, undeniable.
you did all you could
still you ended up here,
struck like a match. keep taking notes,
follow at a safe distance.
up ahead, another tree.
how he gets there you don’t know.
fill your pockets with stones
caress them like old lovers.
the story has not ended.
the story does not end.
it keeps going whether you
are watching it or not. 


April 2019

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