2. My mother gave me the Hamiltome! I gave it to her last year for her birthday and she finally finished reading it and passed it along to me. I am so happy to have it and am reading it bit by bit.
3. I finally located the beeping smoke detector. (It was in the garage.) My house is no longer intermittently beeping.
4. I don't have to work tomorrow night, which is a rarity. I get the evening off!
5. I am watching the new Netflix reboot of Voltron with Zaphod, and am totally digging it. I think it's my favorite thing he's watched since Avatar. It's fun to have something that we actually both enjoy, to watch while we cuddle on the couch.
It turns out one of the three ocular prosthetic makers in Wisconsin is a local hero. The process is fascinating:
Q&A: Dori Hosek found an 'amazing fit' making artificial eyes
I can speak directly to the exquisite details: Kes gave me one of her out-of-date ones and I wear it as a pendant (but only in geeky environs).
I can't talk about this show without spoilers; be ye warned. Insofar as the purpose of a piece of media is to engage and stimulate, this succeeds. I don't find it necessarily to decide or clarify the "objective truth" of OA's story, but I do think the show tries to do too much in putting it into questionit's a slow, spread-out narrative, and then so much is crammed into the many hanging threads of the final episode; it's cheap and underdeveloped. But I'm sold on that slow narrative, in both structure and content, from the modern set dressing to the speculative elements to the framed narrative to the unreliable narrator; that it's a contemporary/SF movie given a 10-hour runtime actually makes it more immersive. I'm even more content than not with the final episode, more for the purpose it achieves than how it does so, although I don't know how they can make a second season work after the intentional and strained ambiguity of the finale. This was an experiencenot always successful, not always smooth, a little smug and back-weighted, but it held me; I wanted to read about it and talk about it after I finished watching, all signs that I was engaged.
Santa Clarita Diet, season 1, 2017
This is sincerely charming; so charming that I can overlook the fact it's essentially a quirky White suburban romantic comedy. It's gleefully morbid, excessively so, shamelessly so, overshooting gorn and landing in the territory of corny but legitimately ickywhich must be the counterpoint that I need to sell me on the rest. (It helps, too, that I love Drew Barrymore, although they really don't know how to do her hair.) I wish the pacing were better, I wish the season had any sense of finalityinstead of just feeling like it had finally developed a larger plot, none the least because the premise is the more engaging narrative. But while I bounce off most humor, this worked for me. It's endearing and gross and dark and I approve.
Sherlock, series 3 and "The Abominable Bride", 2013-2014 and 2016
Spending a while away from this show really serves to highlight its flaws upon return. It's not half so clever or logical as it needs to be, borrowing poorly from the source material as far as cases are concerned. It's overacted; the humor misses its mark. Sherlock himself is wildly unpleasant, and scenes like John's forgiveness on the train are simplyironicallyunforgivable. And then there's an episode like "His Last Vow," which manages to expand on the original material, which hammers home the show's dynamic and characterization, which is tightly written and uses the obtrusive styling to its best advantage. My sum experience with BBC Sherlock tends to be negative, but it's highlights like that which make me keep trying.
Finding Dory, film, 2016, dirs. Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane
This is such an active, compassionate, empowered narrative about disability, and some later scenes are fantastic. I sincerely appreciate the depiction of accommodation and internalized discrimination; it's tear-jerking in the right way, substantial but uplifting. But a character magically overcoming an injury/disability is unequivocally awful; and I've seen arguments that the humorous exploitation and derision of other disabled characters functions both to depict a discriminatory society and invite viewers to question why they participate in itexcept that it doesn't, the humor goes almost entirely unchallenged, and it's wildly out of place and disgusting. I went into this having read some criticisms, and I'm glad for thator I probably would have stalled out at the one-third mark. The sum is positive, but there's no excuse for the misstepsever, really, but especially in this context.
The Joy of Painting Netflix Series, Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere & Chill with Bob Ross
Full episodes of the show's entire run are also on YouTube, so I'm still watching Bob Rossbut I didn't discover that until watching the Netflix compilations. They're composed of selected episodes from later seasons (~27-31), which makes for the highest quality video and most familiar techniques (in narration, painting, and filming). Chill is winter scenes, and many of Ross's winter paintings are warm-toned and a bit fuzzy; this is the selection that grows most repetitive, but I also watched it during winter in a moment of kismet: during the stress of the holidays, Netflix gave me Bob Ross. Beauty is Everywhere is general landscapes and seascapes, but a solid selection of those, highlighting a number of the black-canvas paintings which Ross particularly loved and I do too. There isn't a particular reason to watch these selected episodes, they're hardly the only good ones, but they are good, consistently watchable, and have all the markers that make this series enjoyable.
1. I am reading William Lindsay Gresham's Nightmare Alley (1946). I didn't realize until I saw the dedication "To Joy Davidman" that I knew him by reputation—and not as a writer—the part of Davidman's story that she left behind when she moved to England to live near C.S. Lewis in 1953. In which case he really was as much of a personal disaster area as the foreword by Nick Tosches suggests, but he could write. The epigraphs are taken from Eliot's The Waste Land (1922) and Petronius' Satyricon. The table of contents is a Tarot reading, each chapter a card of the Major Arcana introducing a particular character or signaling a significant event: "The Fool who walks in motley, with his eyes closed, over a precipice at the end of the world . . . The High Priestess. Queen of borrowed light who guards a shrine between the pillars Night and Day . . . The World. Within a circling garland a girl dances; the beasts of the Apocalypse look on." Tosches credits Gresham with introducing a number of carny terms into popular culture, including "geek," "cold reading," and "spook racket." I want to get my OED out of storage and double-check all of these assertions, but it is true that the novel's initial setting of a traveling ten-in-one show feels like a worthy successor to Tod Browning's Freaks (1932) and forerunner of Theodore Sturgeon's The Dreaming Jewels (1950), evocative, sympathetic, and unsentimental in its details of carny life. It gets all the slang right that I can see: talker, spiel, gaffed, "Hey, Rube!" I'm aware the whole thing will eventually turn to horror—the 1947 film adaptation starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell is supposed to rank among the sleaziest and bleakest of the first-generation noirs—but at the moment we are still getting passages like this:
Evansburg, Morristown, Linklater, Cooley Mills, Ocheketawney, Bale City, Boeotia, Sanders Falls, Newbridge.
Coming: Ackerman-Zorbaugh Monster Shows. Auspices Tall Cedars of Zion, Caldwell Community Chest, Pioneer Daughters of Clay County, Kallakie Volunteer Fire Department, Loyal Order of Bison.
Dust when it was dry. Mud when it was rainy. Swearing, steaming, sweating, scheming, bribing, bellowing, cheating, the carny went its way. It came like a pillar of fire by night, bringing excitement and new things into the drowsy towns—lights and noise and the chance to win an Indian blanket, to ride on the ferris wheel, to see the wild man who fondles those rep-tiles as a mother would fondle her babes. Then it vanished in the night, leaving the trodden grass of the field and the debris of popcorn boxes and rusting tin ice-cream spoons to show where it had been.
Among its descendants, then, perhaps include also Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962).
2. Somehow despite falling in love (like most of the internet) with Miike Snow and Ninian Doff's "Genghis Khan" (2016) last spring, I had failed to realize that the same cast and crew had reunited later in the year for a second video: "My Trigger." Like its predecessor, it has a terrific poster. I am very fond of its disclaimer.
3. Please enjoy Emily Sernaker's "Lawrence Ferlinghetti Is Alive!" I had no idea that was true and this poem was a nice way to find out.
AO3 | LJ | DW
Nominations are open now.
Sign-ups run from March 28 to April 5.
Works are due on May 27.
If you offered, requested, wrote, or read fic about songs or music videos for Yuletide, consider checking out Jukebox. Jukebox is in its 5th year.
I realized recently that not only do I not have an icon for Within the Sanctuary of Wings, I don’t have one for In the Labyrinth of Drakes, either.
So! I have two ARCs of Sanctuary to offer in exchange for people making me pretty icons out of the cover art for those books. You can find the full images for Labyrinth here and Sanctuary here. The icons need to be 100×100 pixels and contain the titles of the books; beyond that, arrange ’em however you like. I’ll pick two recips out of everyone who sends me an icon — so if you want the book early, fire up your mouse!
Crap, looks like the Split Personality archive is down. Anyone know anything about it? I mentioned AO3's Open Doors a few times to...someone. Probably not ranma. I wonder if there's any way to reconstruct it or get it saved by AO3 without the original owner.
Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: Wufei
Content Notes/Warnings: n/a
Artist on DW/LJ: n/a
Artist Website/Gallery: fastpuck / dragonhusbands
Why this piece is awesome: This is such a gorgeous portrait of Wufei. Not only because he's laughing - an unusual and welcome sight :-) - but also because of the way the broad brush strokes sculpts his face and upper body with their lovely shades of tans and blues.
Link: laughing for once (DeviantART) or here (Tumblr)
As for the latter -- for braving 15,000 hours of commute -- I absolutely need engaging audiobook (iTunes / iBooks) recommendations.
Can you help? Things I like:
- Mystery & suspense & thrillers,
- Queerness (but that's not a prerequisite; I just cannot deal with unhealthy heterosexual role dynamics).
Things I don't like:
- Any type of family quarrel or issue,
- Violence against women or queer people or disabled people,
- Too many technical descriptions, battles, or fight scenes; I just don't care (this is sometimes a sci-fi problem).
To pad this, I've recently listened to Sarah Waters' Fingersmith, which was fantastic; I've listened to Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter, which was well-written enough but full of rape, violence against women and queer and disabled people (I wish I were kidding); and I'm listening to Transformed by Suzanne Falter & Jack Harvey, which is entertaining but hardly compelling (the "Society Domme" is just not working for me).
The Most Unsatisfying Video in the World ever made. Content warning: designed to grate anyone with OCD tendencies. Right down to the inconsistent capitalization in the title. (via)
Reopening the wound: a proposal to re-redefine "planet" that adds Pluto and 101 other bodies to the set.
Subject quote from "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," James Thurber.
...Anyway, somehow I was expecting this to be about a princess and a goblin, not a princess and a peasant boy and a WHOLE BUNCH of goblins, none of whom she really interacts with. I think somehow I had got the impression that Curdie was a goblin who helped her out.
That's really the core of my response to this book. As I was reading it (and I'm very glad I did) I was seeing all the ways in which this is really an important foundation block in the later fantasy I've read, missing pieces that I haven't found in extensive folklore reading but still turn up every now and then in post-Victorian stuff, even such little things as the physical descriptions of the goblins. (Such as having a jack-o-lantern face, when folklore pumpkinheads are usually very distinct from folklore goblins.)
And then there's the very strong, and very Victorian, thread in this book of beautiful = good and ugly = bad. Not to say that post-Victorian kidlit has totally solved that one, but still, there's enough pushback against it in newer kids' fantasy (and in folklore) that my response to the lady who is beautiful beyond imagining (*especially* if she admits she's wearing a glamour) is BEWARE, and you should probably go find an ugly crone to talk to instead. Also I can't think of a single reason why the goblins aren't in the right here, given the way they are being dehumanized and their lands are being steadily stolen and then destroyed. They even try for a diplomatic solution first!
Of course, the fairy-story books I was imprinting on instead when I was the age for this were The Ordinary Princess (all about how Ordinary doesn't have to be Beautiful to be Good) and Goblins in the Castle (where Our Hero realizes halfway through that the displaced goblins are in the right and he's been on the wrong side all along). Both of those books are almost certainly arguing with MacDonald and his peers, whether consciously on the part of the writers or not, but I got their side of the argument first and it's a much better side. :P
I was also interested in how young Irene was. There's a standard in kidlit publishing (or at least there was, awhile back) that your protagonist should always be at least a couple of years older than the reading level you're writing for, presumably as an aspirational thing, and also so kids who read a lot can feel smug about reading books for older kids and kids who are a little slower don't have to be talked down to.
But I'm wondering if it's also because adult authors tend to write their protagonists acting a few years younger than kids of that age feel like they are in their heads. Irene certainly feels younger than eight to me, for a lot of the book: at eight I could tell you who my cousins-once-removed were and how they were different from my second-cousins, and I can't imagine many second graders I know being confused by the concept of a great-grandma, or in general have Irene's maturity level. And when I was a kid, reading books about kids a few years older than me, the protagonists didn't usually feel like they were that much older than me. Maybe by telling grownups to write eleven-year-olds for eight-year-olds, you end up with characters who feel like eight-year-olds to eight-year-olds.
I did really like the strong message in this book that adults need to believe what kids say to them, and that if the adults don't, that's on the adults, not the kids. And if the kids let themselves be half-convinced the adults are right and the kids are imagining or exaggerating, it's also the adults' fault, and not the kids failing, and not just "part of growing up." And that the mysterious secret stranger actually tells the protagonist to tell all her grown-ups everything, not to keep it secret, because adults who tell you to keep your relationship a secret are probably not the adults you should rely on. That's something that is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT to teach a lot of kids (although probably more important to teach grownups), and I think the way MacDonald did it was a lot more emotionally real and with a lot more conviction than a lot of other people, especially modern kids' fantasy, where the parents not believing or not being told is either taken for granted or treated as harmless.
Also wow, you really couldn't get away with handing a character a LITERAL PLOT THREAD in a modern book...
Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: Severus Snape (an Alan Rickman tribute)
Content Notes/Warnings: none
Medium: digital painting
Artist on DW/LJ: n/a
Artist Website/Gallery: ekr1703 on DA
Why this piece is awesome: I just really like this imagining of Snape as a youth, and it's great to see Alan Rickman in his gorgeous days as well. Nice sepia colouring, too.
Link: Young Severus