staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
I just went through a new Elizabeth Wein book in 24 hours flat. *glows* The Pearl Thief is set in 1938 and features a fifteen-year-old, bisexual-as-fuck Julie Beaufort-Stuart.
sovay: (Otachi: Pacific Rim)
[personal profile] sovay
In about an hour, I am going to see Howard the Duck (1986) on 70 mm at the Somerville Theatre. It's part of their second annual 70 mm & Widescreen Festival, which started this Wednesday and runs through the rest of the month; last year it offered me such superlative viewing experiences as Lord Jim (1965), Spartacus (1960), Sleeping Beauty (1959) and Tron (1982), and this year I am starting with a duck from another planet. We're meeting my parents for it. My father unironically loves Howard the Duck. He ranks it with '80's cult classics like The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) and has always felt it deserved a sequel. I have not seen it since high school at the latest and have peculiarly fragmentary memories of the plot. The opening sequence is picture-clear: Howard on his home planet greeting a Playduck centerfold with "My little airbrushed beauty!" before being sucked through space and time into Cleveland, Ohio where he rescues a new wave chick from some lowlifes with the ancient martial art of "Quack Fu." She has a band. I want to say he ends up managing it. After that things start to break up. I remember that an eldritch thing possesses Jeffrey Jones—and that it happens for the decently Lovecraftian reason that it is never a bright idea to open a door at random into the deep reaches of space when you don't know what might be on the other side—but I don't remember the mechanism or the immediate consequences, except that I have the vague sense of a road trip. I remember that Chip Zien voices Howard, when I know him much better for his work in musical theater. IMDb tells me that this movie was also the first place I saw Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins. I'm really looking forward. Other films I am planning to catch on 70 mm include Wonder Woman (2017) and Cleopatra (1963), which should really be something on a big screen, as should an IB Technicolor VistaVision print of North by Northwest (1959). I am a little sorry to have missed The Dark Crystal (1982) earlier this evening, but it has been a long and stressful day. There's always the matinée repeat on Sunday if I really feel like it. In the meantime, there's a space duck.

[edit] Yeah, sorry, haters. Howard the Duck is a delightful sci-fi comedy. Lea Thompson is a surprisingly credible new wave frontwoman. Tim Robbins is so young and so gangly. Jeffrey Jones is no Emilio Lizardo, but he chews good scenery as the possessed scientist. There are practical effects. There is stop-motion. (There are too many fight scenes and things blowing up, but I feel this way about most movies with any action quotient.) And there is a road trip, with a pit stop at a nuclear power plant. The script is sweet and full of consciously comic-book dialogue and it plays its interspecies romance straight; the only joke that really pulled me up short was a tossed-off sex-change line which mercifully goes by fast. I can't imagine swapping out any of the actors, especially Zien. I had completely forgotten about Richard Kiley as the introductory narrator, B-movie style. I don't even think it's an enjoyably bad movie: I just like it. And I have seen perhaps the last remaining 70 mm print in the world. No regrets.

Death is before me today

Sep. 22nd, 2017 09:50 am
missroserose: (After the Storm)
[personal profile] missroserose
I find myself wondering about humanity. Their attitude to my sister's gift is so strange. Why do they fear the sunless lands? It is as natural to die as it is to be born. But they fear her. Dread her. Feebly they attempt to placate her. They do not love her.

Many thousands of years ago, I heard a song in a dream, a mortal song that celebrated her gift. I still remember it.

"Death is before me today:
Like the recovery of a sick man,
Like going forth into a garden after sickness.

"Death is before me today:
Like the odor of myrrh,
Like sitting under a sail in a good wind.

"Death is before me today:
Like the course of a stream,
Like the return of a man from the war-galley to his house.

"Death is before me today:
Like the home that a man longs to see,
After years spent as a captive."


I never got to meet Jim Rothfuss in person, but through an odd turning of fate we've exchanged Christmas cards and letters these past several years. I can only say that the world needs more souls of his gentle and kind nature, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to know some little portion of his life, completely separate from my great enjoyment of his son's work.

Go easily and well, Mr. Rothfuss. And thank you.

(Attribution, and for the poem.)
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] sovay
Even if the rest of the film were forgettable, Howard Hawks' Red River (1948) would be worth it for the climactic fight scene where Montgomery Clift and John Wayne are tragically and brutally and patriarchally beating one another's brains out and just as the audience, consisting in this case of me and [personal profile] rushthatspeaks, decides it cannot take another second of this senseless macho bullshit, Joanne Dru can't either and not only says as much, she holds both combatants at gunpoint until they cut the machismo and admit they love one another. It was a thing of beauty. ("You'd better marry that girl, Matt.") Factor in the gun-comparing scene between Clift and John Ireland and other not infrequent moments of no heterosexual explanation and the whole thing was a nice break from today's otherwise relentless grind of work, even if we weren't totally sure at the outset. It is not easy to watch a movie in the company of an active and presently tired and cranky eleven-month-old, but we managed. In other news, Fox these days is freestanding, fast-moving, can hang upside down by the knees if an adult holds them, and appears to be taking against the entire concept of pants. They like honeycake, though.

Autolycus is being heartbreakingly plaintive right now. He has a vet appointment early in the morning and it requires fasting, which is an impossible concept to explain to a cat. I let him graze all day and gave him a proper dinner at the absolute last moment, but he is attempting to convince me that, actually, in point of fact, he starved since then. We should find him some kind of special treat after the appointment, for being so brave and honest. Last night he and his sister shared in the Rosh Hashanah chicken. All cats are lunisolar.

In honor of the High Holidays, here is a post on Jewish superheroes and here is a brilliant riposte to the rather short-sighted question "How can you be Black and Jewish?"

Back to the relentless grind. At least it is almost autumn.
sineala: (Avengers: Welcome back Cap)
[personal profile] sineala
In All This Wide World (10252 words) by Sineala
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Marvel (Comics), Marvel 616, Avengers (Comics)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Steve Rogers/Tony Stark
Characters: Steve Rogers, Tony Stark
Additional Tags: Hurt/Comfort, Pining, Action/Adventure, Dinosaurs, Happy Ending, Avengers Vol. 3 (1998)
Summary: Tony's known Steve for ten years. With the formation of a brand-new team, with their bright future ahead of them, Tony's decided that it's finally time to ask Steve out. Now. Today. But his plans are interrupted when they have to go to the Savage Land -- where, of course, they are marooned together. Just the two of them, miles of jungle, profusely-bleeding injuries, and packs of vicious carnivorous dinosaurs. Not only are they not going to get to go on that date, they may not make it home alive at all.

This is my entry for the Superhusbands Aluminum Anniversary Anthology free digital zine, released today, of interest if you enjoy Steve/Tony. I collaborated with [personal profile] phoenixmetaphor, whose art can be found here.

The zine requirements were (a) nothing explicit and (b) no AUs and it took us FOREVER to come up with something that would be fun for me to write and her to draw until we hit upon DINOSAURS. Rawr. So here's some Savage Land h/c.

(Also, here is AIM Raptor, who did not make it into the story itself but is present in all of our hearts.)

The Good Place: Season 2, Episode 1

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:32 pm
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Absolutely fantastic. Do not click on cut unless you've already seen it. The whole series is streaming on nbc.com.

Read more... )
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
[personal profile] asakiyume
I'm doing a little bit of writing with some adult learners (there may be some high school students in this class as well)--just ten minutes or so. I don't have any pedagogical reason to believe this is beneficial, except for believing that when people have pleasant experiences doing something, then that thing becomes less daunting. In other words, maybe, if the students enjoy this time writing, they'll feel more able to tackle the sort of writing you need to do to clear the hurdles in front of them. But even if that's not the case, I think people deserve a chance and a place to try out writing, just for its own sake and their own sake. So.

My first prompt for them was this quote from Fred Rogers: "You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind," which I recalled from this autotuned song made from that and other remarks of his.

I showed them some gardens.

A garden in Holyoke, created by "self-proclaimed plant geeks":


(Source)

Randyland, the garden created by Randy Gilson, a waiter and son of a single mom, in Pittsburgh, PA:


(Source)

The magic gardens of Isaiah Zagar in Philadelphia:


(Source)

The blooming Cadillacs at the Cadillac ranch in Amarillo, Texas:


(Source is this Google image, whose original location is given as this video.)

The famous Zen garden at Ryōanji, in Kyoto, Japan:


(Source)

And I said, even when you think a place is barren, nothing growing, life pushes through, like in this parking lot in Boston:


(Source)

And then I asked them--what's growing in the garden of your mind? Several people wrote that they felt like the parking lot and talked about worries, but one wrote about a painting she's planning, and another compared his mind to a potato (and gave me a diagram to show it growing). It was wonderful.

What's growing in the garden of *your* mind, these days?

Thriller (Part One)

Sep. 21st, 2017 02:49 pm
lost_spook: (suzanne neve)
[personal profile] lost_spook
[I wrote this post a month ago, but it took me a while to do the pictures and fix it up. I'm catching up now, though!]

I have returned to watching some Thriller installments (a 1970s ITC/ATV film anthology created and frequently written by Brian Clemens, of The Avengers and Professionals fame. It's not like The Avengers, though. Brian Clemens has clearly forgotten the possibility that sometimes women can sort stuff out themselves without being rescued by men. If they're rescued at all, this being a thriller anthology.)

Anyway, do you want to hear all about how innocent American tourists were terrorised every time they came to Britain in the 1970s? Surely, you must. I will oblige, by reviewing my viewing so far, before I forget. (This is a 16-disc set!)

Cut for recaps, spoilers, flippancy and picspam )

L'Shana Tovah

Sep. 21st, 2017 04:54 am
sartorias: (candle)
[personal profile] sartorias
L'Shana Tovah, all. L'Shana Tovah.
sovay: (Rotwang)
[personal profile] sovay
Erev Rosh Hashanah: I misplace the keys to my parents' house and cannot help with the cooking as early in the afternoon as planned, but my brother and his family turn out to have been laid low by some opportunistic bug (the preschool year has started) and don't make it for dinner after all; my father drives their roast chicken and their challah and their honeycake out to them in the evening. We eat ours after I light orange taper candles that technically belong to Halloween because that's what's in the house. The chicken is brined and stuffed with lemon halves and fresh rosemary; the huge round challah with honey drizzled lightly over its egg-washed crust is from Mamaleh's; the honeycakes are homemade and the twice-baked potatoes were introduced by [personal profile] spatch and me. I know it is not precisely the customary use of the Shechecheyanu, but I find it useful to have a prayer thank you, God, that we've made it this far. The year starts anyway, ready or not. I'd rather recognize it as it goes by. L'shanah tovah, all.

Wednesday Reading Meme

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:04 pm
sineala: Detail of Harry Wilson Watrous, "Just a Couple of Girls" (reading)
[personal profile] sineala
What I Just Finished Reading

Nothing because I am still in AAAA MUST WRITE BIG BANG mode. I expect this to persist.

What I'm Reading Now

Comics Wednesday!

Avengers #11, Doctor Strange #25, Generations Ms. Marvel And Ms. Marvel #1, Invincible Iron Man #11, Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #4, Spider-Men II #3, U.S.Avengers #10 )

What I'm Reading Next

Dunno.

Reading Wednesday

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:21 pm
brigdh: (Default)
[personal profile] brigdh
The Excursionist by J.D. Sumner. A novel about Jack, a man determined to visit 100 countries before his 35th birthday, all so he can join the Traveler’s Century Club.

Ugh, this book. It’s glaringly self-published, which I do not inherently object to – I'm all for self-publishing! But hire an editor, dude. It’s not typos or grammar mistakes that give it away (the book’s actually remarkably free of those)(which I suppose is damning with faint praise, but I am totally here to damn this book), but a constant stream of contradictions and just... well, odd choices. The one that leapt out to me most strikingly was when the narrator, in describing the Traveler’s Club, sticks the URL right in the middle of the text:
One down and two to go. Now all I had to do was to get to Kilrush and then to Fulgary and I could join the Travelers’ Century Club. See www.travelerscenturyclub.org for further details.

This would maybe even have been not so weird if it had come in the introduction, the first time the reader is told about this goal, or in the endnotes. But no, none of the above. This quote instead comes from the end of chapter ten, when the Traveler’s Club has been mentioned multiple times without needing an URL.

It’s minor, I know, but similar minor annoyances pop up constantly throughout the text. Jack only needs to visit three more countries, so he heads to the (fictional) islands of Placentia, Kilrush and Fulgary. The fact that these are separate countries is the entire point of the book. And yet the flights between them are repeatedly described as "domestic". In addition, it’s implied Placentia and Fulgaryy are still considered UK territories. Granted, other people probably aren’t as fascinated by the debate over what “counts” as a country as much as I happen to be (I blame this game, on which I spend way too much of my free time), but when it’s the central premise of your story, it needs at least a little consideration.

I could forgive all of the above if Jack was a character I enjoyed spending time with. Instead he’s a complete and total asshole. He condescends and mistreats service employees, he shallowly judges fellow tourists, he rates all women by their attractiveness and sulks when they don’t want to sleep with him. Every time he interacted with any other living creature I wanted to punch him.
For example, discussing his job as a stockbroker: Getting a job in the City is like getting a girl. The less interest and enthusiasm you show, the better chance you have.
Describing his ex-wife: I was still paying for my ex-wife’s house. She had taken me for a mug, then a Merc, then a million. I did quite well out of the divorce settlement; I kept most of the back garden and some of the roof tiles. I wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t come home to find somebody else’s kippers under the grill. I should have twigged when he helped move her stuff out when she ‘just needed some space’. […] And if I said no to her demands, I would get a call saying my daughter was ill or had been invited to a toddler’s party on the day I was supposed to visit. Her other trick was to pretend I had got the dates or the times wrong. It was easier just to give up. People only change in books or in films, not in real life. I stopped seeing my daughter as regularly when my folks told me she had started to call Graham ‘Daddy’.*
Interacting with a flight attendant: ‘Could I please have one of those bottles of fizzy mineral water?’ I said.
‘I am sorry, sir, we are not allowed to give them out.’ She bent down so close to my face I was worried she was going to kiss me.
‘I don’t want to bother you all the time, asking you for water. Can you leave me the bottle; I don’t want to make a nuisance of myself.’
‘I am afraid we can’t do that, sir.’
‘Why?’ I asked.
‘It’s against regulations. I am sorry, sir.’
‘But your in-flight magazine says quite clearly on page twenty-eight, that passengers should make sure they remain hydrated.’
‘I know, sir. I am sorry but they are the regulations.’
‘I am only asking for a bottle of fizzy water. I have spent thousands of pounds flying Business Class with you. I’m thirsty,’ I said.
‘I am sorry, sir. It’s the rules.’
‘The rules… what airline has rules to prevent passengers from drinking water? Why advertise what a great service you provide, if you won’t give water to a thirsty passenger? What’s the point of pouring an eggcup-sized measure of water if I can jug down full glasses of wine? You do this because, as you know, the less weight you carry the less fuel you need, which means lower fuel costs and better profit.’ And with this, the hostess began to take away my empties.


I could have given you more egregious examples, but I chose these because they all occur before page 35. (And the text of the book doesn’t start until page 8!) Now you too have a sense of the density of Jack’s dickishness.

Though I've got to mention one more: at the end of the book, it’s revealed that Jack’s dead girlfriend who disappeared forever, possibly murdered, cheated on him shortly before her death. When Jack finds out this information, he explicitly decides not to go to the police with it, because, hey, it helped him get over her. Your hero, ladies and gentlemen!
I felt better about not being with her but I also wish I hadn’t wasted so much time thinking about her. I still didn’t know how Kay died but I suspect Naz may have had something to do with it. With forearms like Naz, it wouldn’t have been difficult to squeeze the life out of her. But I didn’t actually know what had happened to her. And for the first time, I wasn’t particularly bothered either. Should I go to the police? And tell them what exactly? I decided, rightly or wrongly, to move on.

Ughhhhh, this book, y’all. This book. I got it for free and that was still too much money.

* The daughter never gets a name, appears on screen, or is even mentioned beyond one more passing notice that she exists. I’m definitely convinced Jack is a worthwhile father.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.

Wednesday Reading Meme

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:45 pm
chantefable: ([mood] cheerful)
[personal profile] chantefable
What I've just finished reading

Some haikus by a famous Edo poet Matsuo Basho, which were lovely: a respite and rearrangement of usual thought.

under the cherry -
blossom soup,
blossom salad.


Also, Suradanna and the Sea, a short story by Rebecca Fraimlow that is available online and was recommended by [personal profile] isis: a charming fantasy about spoilers ). It's very pleasant, and also f/f with a happy ending.

What I'm reading right now

Like I planned last week, I ploughed through some of Virgil's The Eclogues in Guy Lee's 1980 translation, and it has been rough because I lacked the background knowledge and contextual information to appreciate the glory of the bucolic idylls, if that's what you're going to call them... there's angst and hurt/comfort and Greek canon-typical violence, you know. Most of the meta- and para-textual stuff either went over my head or I sloughed it off, like so much half-baked comprehension. One thing is certain: in Eclogue 5, two shepherds, Menalcas and Mopsus, "sit down together where hazels mix with elms" and talk up their dead shepherd BFF Daphnis to the point of deification, something that Daphnis, who may have been a swell guy indeed, explicitly wanted when alive? Menalcas and Mopsus are kind of shippable, though. There's something intimate about two guys making a mound and singing praises to a tragically dead handsome oxherd, in verse. #justgreekthings ?

What I plan to read next

More D.H.Lawrence poems. Some sort of mystery would be nice as well, something pleasant.

Wednesday book meme thing

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:36 am
missroserose: (Joy of Reading)
[personal profile] missroserose
What I've just finished reading

I've spent a decent chunk of time reading this week - I'm about three-quarters through The Sundial - but due to the way it's been split I haven't finished anything this week.

What I'm currently reading

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, by Ruth Franklin. Like most children of my generation, I read "The Lottery" in school and was thoroughly traumatized by it. It's one of the few pieces I've found to be genuinely shocking, and all the more so because of the craft involved: you realize, looking it over, exactly how well all the pieces are put in place, how consistent the tone and character of the village, and how inevitable the ending is, even though your well-adjusted brain won't let you put the pieces together, except in retrospect. In a way, reading it is an act of complicity; you participate in the same self-delusion as the villagers, your observation of the ritualistic nature of the gathering fueling your assumption of people's fundamental decency and blinding you to the warning signs around you, until things are too far gone to stop. It's not a wonder the story generated more mail than almost any New Yorker fiction piece - people hated it, unless they were one of the minority who were certain this was an actual event and wanted to know where they could go to witness it.

All of which is to say, I've long had a great admiration for Jackson's writing; at her strongest, she has an uncanny ability to balance the best of human intentions with the darkest in human nature, and demonstrate how our fundamental insecurities cause our darker sides to manifest themselves. So when this biography came out, to some acclaim, I was very interested in it.

So far, I'm only a little way in, but Franklin makes an excellent case for the origins of Jackson's obsessions. Born a plain, awkward, introverted daughter to a beautiful California socialite, much of her childhood was spent alternately bowing to and fighting against her mother's criticisms of her dress, her ambitions, and her deportment. Her few friendships tended toward the tumultuous and her (prolific) letters and diaries suggest that she suffered from an onset of depression in her first year of college. She's just met her future husband, and it's not hard to see the attraction - he's witty, intelligent, and a great admirer of her mind and work, providing much of the affirmation her mother was unable to give. Of course, even only knowing the bare outlines of her life, there's more than a little foreshadowing of future dysfunction.

The Sundial, by Shirley Jackson. Having only read "The Lottery" and We Have Always Lived In The Castle, I figured it would be interesting to read another of Jackson's books while listening to her biography. This one, about an extended aristocratic household that lives on an estate set apart from the local village (large houses, usually haunted, feature in most of Jackson's books; Franklin points out that her great-grandfather was a celebrated architect Gilded Age San Francisco, although most of his buildings perished in the Great Fire) and becomes convinced that the world will end, sparing only those who live in the house. I don't think it's as strong as Castle; there's a little more emotional remove from the characters, who feel more like stand-ins than fully-developed human beings, and thus it's harder to sympathize with them. Still, the portrayal of complementary dysfunction is stark and believable - there's Aunt Fanny, the disempowered poor relative who finds new respect as the recipient of the Revelation; Mrs. Halloran, the tyrannical head of the family whose belief in the Revelation seems questionable but who is clearly enjoying the opportunities it gives her to manipulate those she lives with; Essex, the jack-of-all-trades being preyed upon by both Aunt Fanny and Mrs. Halloran who nonetheless finds the idea of himself as Father of Future Generations (as opposed to the unremarkable life he might have outside the enclave) too alluring to resist; and various other hangers-on with their own agendas. I'm tempted to say that people who are curious how cults get started should really give this a read.

What I plan to read next

Feeling pretty saturated book-wise recently, but you never know...

The Future's Too Bright Wednesday

Sep. 20th, 2017 05:49 am
evelyn_b: (Default)
[personal profile] evelyn_b
What I’ve Finished Reading

Swap Clubs (1964) purports to be “A study in Contemporary Sexual Mores,” but since it cites zero sources, contains no verifiable information and no discussion of methods, and is littered with husband-and-wife authors Willam and Jerrye Breedlove’s rambling and inaccurate thoughts on psychology, sexuality, and world history (including that old favorite, Everything Was Fine Before Christianity Came Along), it’s pretty useless as a study of anything.

You can get a sample of the style of the whole book from my favorite paragraph (ambitiously headed “Attitudes Toward Society"):

There are many swap club members who feel that they entered the swapping relationship in a desire to “flaunt authority”, that this proclivity is a marked one throughout their existence. Yet even in these instances the evidence of their well-kept secret is de facto evidence that they are “flaunted” not at all. The introspection necessary to arrive at that conclusion is another piece of evidence of their attempts at reason, which again attests their level-headedness. The tendency to “flaunt authority” is a form of exhibitionism often related to a strong guilt complex. The couples who belong to swap groups are usually more honest in their relationships with each other and their friends. With the whole realm of sexual dishonesty discarded practically at a single sweep, the untruthful occurrences are greatly decreased. The few swap club adherents who are under psychiatric care also suggest that such is the case. People with a tendency to “flaunt authority” will flaunt that authority in many ways, not just once, and the minute number of “modern marrieds” who have ever had brushes with the law again puts the lie to the flaunt-authority charge.

The wonderful thing about this paragraph is that its entire unsourced non-argument is based on the Breedloves knowing what the word “flaunt” means while simultaneously confusing it with “flout.” Two words become one! It's also worth noting that whenever the Breedloves describe one of their couples, they make sure to give bust, waist, and hip measurements for the woman, a very Sixties practice I’m glad has gone out of style in recent decades.

Paris in the Twentieth Century continues to be a tragically bad place and time to be a delicate poet who can't face working in a bank. Michel eventually takes a job in a drama factory, writing "updates" of popular plays for the centralized entertainment union, but he can't hack that, either, so he wanders the streets and eventually dies of sadness among the snow-kissed tombstones of Pere-Lachaise. Also, the French language has collapsed under the weight of too many foreign loan words: at one point Michel's book-loving uncle laments that the dictionary has swollen to twice its size! Quelle horreur! On the plus side, electric light and clean, fast trains everywhere! But the light hurts our hero's eyes and there's nowhere he wants to go anyway. From the Introduction I learned that Father of Science Fiction Jules Verne, like Françoise in In Search of Lost Time, refused to learn to use the telephone, stubbornly holding the receiver upside down when circumstances forced him to take a call. I wouldn't have liked this book at all if it had been written today, about the illiterate and materialistic future of our own Kids These Days, but I enjoyed it from a distance.

What I’m Reading Now

I picked up Reality Matters: 19 Writers Come Clean About the Shows We Can’t Stop Watching at the free book shelf at the library some months ago. I was curious to read some essays about “reality TV” because it's one of those cultural touchstones but I've never been able to get up the patience to watch any, which made the refrain repeated in James Frey’s foreword (“You will never fucking escape it”) a little baffling at the outset. My experiences with reality TV: I watched about six episodes of Elimidate when I was in college, and once saw half an episode of Project Runway while staying in a hotel. They both made a strong impression on me, so maybe, in a sense, I will never fucking escape them. Both of the forewords are clumsy in their own way: Frey’s is overwrought and shouty, editor Anna David’s reads a little like a freshman essay – heavy on the self-description, light on everything else.

Of the eighteen shows written about in this book, I’ve heard of four: Project Runway, Survivor, American Idol, and The Bachelor. (Alas, there is no essay about Elimidate, a mean-spirited show in which four or five people go on the same date with one other person and are eliminated one by one). The rest are new to me, so I'm almost guaranteed to learn something.

And some other things! which I'll probably get to next time.

What I Might Read Next

I've got a bunch of stuff to catch up with, so maybe NOTHING until I catch up.

(no subject)

Sep. 19th, 2017 09:56 am
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I just spent several minutes trying to figure out where the hell the mysterious rustling noises were coming from.

One of my cats (Alex) was entirely hidden within the depths of a shoebox-size Priority Mail box. He has just now emerged, and his sister Erin has vanished inside.

No cat photos because I don't have an X-Ray camera.

Bees

Sep. 18th, 2017 06:54 pm
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
I was working away when the next door neighbor called, and said there were a zillion bees swarming around my pine tree on the patio. By the time I finished what I was typing, and went down to look out the kitchen window, I only saw four or five bees, and thought nothing of it.

Then, a few minutes ago, I took the dog out for a walk, and the neighbor came out, and said, look at the trunk of your pine. Whoa!

Here's from the side. click and embiggen, to see how far around the trunk they go.


Bees

And this below is from the sidewalk. Look in the upper portion of the trunk--that is a zillion bees tightly packed together.

Bees 2

That looks so . . . weird.

If they're still there in a couple of days, I'll have to find beekeepers to move them. My son's biological family on the female side has a deadly bee allergy running through them--his bio uncle has to carry an epipen everywhere, and my patio is about the size of two bedsheets put together. In fact, when I dry my laundry outside, I can only get one set of bedding out there at a time.

EDITED TO ADD: Between one check and the next ten minutes later, they suddenly vanished. I would have loved to see them swarm! But they are gone, and I hope they find a good, safe home.
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
On the one hand, A Matter of Life and Death (1946) is my least favorite Powell and Pressburger. It's a superlative afterlife fantasy in the tradition of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), which is the problem: it's the Archers doing, excellently, a kind of story other people do. I don't hate it. I like the premise, which flips the opening glitch of Jordan so that instead of snatching a man untimely into the afterlife, a psychopomp lets his assigned soul slip away into the world; I love its filming of Earth in color and the "Other World" in black and white, whence Wim Wenders and his Berlin angels; I really love its double-tracking of the plot in both mystical and medical registers and the way it refuses to resolve one over the other, eventually, rightly merging the two. I have always suspected that after the credits roll, somewhere among the stars Marius Goring's Conductor 71 and Edward Everett Horton's Messenger 7013 are gloomily comparing notes on their respective balls-ups and wondering if Alan Rickman's Metatron was right that angels can't get drunk. It has one of the great escalators of cinema. It's objectively good and I know it's widely loved. But it's easily the least weird thing the Archers ever committed to celluloid. I can't tell if its otherworld is deliberately dry or if my ideas of the numinous just for once parted ways with the filmmakers', but I found more resonance in the real-world scenes with their odd touches like a naked goatherd piping on an English beach, the camera obscura through which Roger Livesey's Dr. Reeves watches the town around him, or the mechanicals within mechanicals of an amateur rehearsal of A Midsummer Night's Dream, than I did in the monumental administration of heaven and the courts of the assembled dead. I watched it in the first rush of discovery following A Canterbury Tale (1944) and as many other films by Powell and Pressburger as I could lay my hands on; I was disappointed. It didn't work for me even as well as Black Narcissus (1948), which I want to see again now that I'm not expecting real India. On the same hand, the Brattle is showing a 4K DCP rather than a print, which means that I'd be settling for an approximation of the pearly Technicolor monochrome of the Other World, which is still astonishing enough in digital transfer that I really want to know what it looked like on the original 35 mm, and the same goes for the rest of Jack Cardiff's cinematography.

On the other hand, the screening will be introduced by Thelma Schoonmaker and this is how Andrew Moor in Powell and Pressburger: A Cinema of Magic Spaces (2012) writes about David Niven as Squadron Leader Peter David Carter, the pilot hero of A Matter of Life and Death (look out, textbrick, for once it's not me):

Never an actor of great range, Niven came instead to embody and to articulate a rather out-of-date ideal: gentlemanliness – or 'noblesse oblige'. His light tenor and gamin beauty are those of the nobility: he reveals, if provoked, the upright steeliness of a man with backbone, but this grit often shades over into a likeable, smiling insolence. Though we knew he could be naughty (and the actor was a noted practical joker), it was the forgivable naughtiness of a well-liked schoolboy It is usually his graceful amusement that impresses, rather than his physicality or intellect (to talk of 'grace' might seem antiquated, but old-fashioned words like that seem to fit). He could be the younger son of a minor aristocrat, at times silly but always charming, and in the last instance gallant, gazing upwards with a sparkle in his eyes, a light comedian who, through sensing the necessity of nonsense, is perfect as Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days (Michael Anderson, 1956, US). He is fittingly dashing in The Elusive Pimpernel (Powell and Pressburger, 1950), where as Sir Percy Blakeney he embraces foppishness with gusto. His 'airy' quality is winning, and his poetic virtues shine in AMOLAD. He may be well-mannered and eloquent but, as charmers go, his 'classiness' sits easily . . . He is undoubtedly an affectionate figure. Unkindness is not in him, and he is important in our gallery of heroes. But he is never like John Mills, the democratic 1940s ' Everyman'. Mills is the boy next door to everybody and, while that is a nice neighborhood, we really aspire to live next door to Niven. Is it a question of class? We suppose Niven to be a good host of better parties. Mills is like us; Niven is exotic. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and during the war Niven stood for some of the most valued of principles, but his quality (or was it just his prettiness?) seemed the stuff of a previous, and probably mythical, time. Niven himself was a Sandhurst-trained army man, who joined the Highland Light Infantry in 1928 and served in Malta for two years before drifting towards America and into film acting. In 1939, when he left Hollywood for the army, he was a star, and managed to complete two propaganda films during the war while also serving in the Rifle Brigade . . . In the opening sequence of AMOLAD, it is hard to think of another actor who could mouth Powell and Pressburger's airborne script so convincingly. Bravely putting his house in order, saying his farewells and leaping from his burning plane, he is ridiculously, tearfully beautiful. Notably, it is his voice, travelling to Earth in radio waves, which first attracts the young American girl June, not his looks, and later it is his mind which is damaged, not his body. It is difficult, in fact, to think of the slender Niven in terms of his body at all. We remember the face, and a moustache even more precise and dapper than Anton Walbrook's (which was hiding something). Like Michael Redgrave in The Way to the Stars, he is the most celebrated man of war – the pilot who belongs in the clouds.

So I'm thinking about it.

Meeting an actual hero and statesman

Sep. 18th, 2017 04:43 pm
asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
[personal profile] asakiyume
If you're going to meet an actual hero, a freedom fighter and former political prisoner who helped birth a new nation--that's YOU, Mr. Xanana Gusmão--you would do well not to be 45 minutes late. Alas, Google maps misled me about how long it would take me to drive from my house to the Pell Center, in Newport, Rhode Island, where Mr. Gusmão and a panel of distinguished experts were going to be talking about the future of Timor-Leste. And then I made a wrong turn at the very end and got lost. By the time I was driving down Bellevue Avenue, past RIDONCULOUS mansions, I was more than a half-hour late. But damn it! I did not drive all that way just to ... go home again.

Finally I found the place. A guy waiting in a bus kitted out like a trolley told me yes, this was it.

The talk was happening in a room with gilded Baroque-style accents.


Source

between entering and **the kiss** )

I hung back in the hallway, hoping to somehow say something, anything, to Xanana. I knew I wouldn't really ask him if he could shapeshift, or if he'd like to collaborate with me in writing a story based on this experience, and I didn't want to just gush that I was a fan, but I wanted to say **something**.

And I got my chance. He walked by and saw my expectant face and stopped and smiled at me. And I started blurting out that one small thing he'd done that made me admire him was get out and direct traffic one day in Dili, when there was a traffic jam. I think I said more presidents should do things like that. But before I got two words out, he had lifted my hand to his lips and kissed it, all the while looking at me with an expression of friendly affection.

I can see why people would die for him--or better yet, live and struggle for him. He was EVERY BIT as charismatic as I thought he would be, and then some.


source

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