shadowkat: (Default)
[personal profile] shadowkat
Finally saw the latest Doctor Who which once again cut off the last two minutes. Dang it. That was the best part of the entire episode.

However, Doctor Who, Episode 10, Eater of the Light by Scottish playwrite and tele-writer Rona Munro, who also wrote the Doctor Who episode Survival in 1989, and is among the few female writers of the series, was actually among the better episodes to date.

I am, however, wondering why all the soliders in these episodes are dressed in red, and all the monsters seem to lizards or fish. (Yes, I know Roman soliders tended to wear red...but, not always, and why these soliders?) Maybe that's just me? Maybe it is coincidence? There were a few that weren't, not many, but a few. Maybe...there's some sort of metaphor relating to ancient Rome and the Scots that I'm missing because I don't remember the history that well? (I vaguely remember visiting Hadrian's Wall in the 1980s, and hearing the tale about how the Scots built it and kept the Romans back. Rome was able to conquer everyone but Scotland, in part due to the wall, in part due to the cold.)

There also seems to be an on-going theme about shutting out the light. Along with the agency/choice theme.

Not overly sure the episodic nature of this season works. With just snippets of an overall arc.

This was a metaphor heavy episode, as opposed to plot heavy, which I think worked better. Had a sort of fairy tale structure to it. Also worked better from a structural perspective. I actually prefer Doctor Who when it follows a more dark fairy tale style than sci-fi style. Mainly because I'm not sure these writers are very adept at sci-fi.
Am wondering if it is possible to do an episode without a monster of the week?

Eh, spoilers )

American Gods 1.08

Jun. 22nd, 2017 01:42 pm
selenak: (Illyria by Kathyh)
[personal profile] selenak
Getting this done before the Munich Film Festival starts tomorrow (guests of honor: Bryan Cranston and Sofia Coppola, who brings her parents along!).

Now that the season is over, I'm still not sure whether Fuller's decision to stretch the main plot out and pace it the way he does is justified. I mean, we STILL haven't reached the House on the Rock yet, and I assumed that would happen in the third episode, as it's this story's Council of Elrond scene, so to speak. Just think of a LotR tv adaption where they've barely made out of the Shire by the time the season finishes. Otoh, all that Fuller & Co. have added does enrich the story and I wouldn't have wanted to miss it, so.

And the moral of the story is... )
oursin: Photograph of a statue of Hygeia, goddess of health (Hygeia)
[personal profile] oursin
[R]ed tape also means regulations that protect citizens, at a certain cost to companies that otherwise have little incentive to sacrifice some profit to mitigate risk. It is because of red tape that you cannot buy a flammable sofa, and that you are very unlikely to die in an air crash.

Much red tape, indeed, is the frozen memory of past disaster. Modern regulatory regimes as a whole came into being in the late 19th and early 20th centuries because of public outrage at the dangerous practices of unrestrained industry.

This is perhaps partly similar to the phenomenon that having effective infrastructure and ongoing regular maintenance of same is not as dramatic a story as horrendous accidents.

It's possibly also analogous to people becoming anti-vaxxers, because vaccination programmes have been so successful that there is no notion of the risks there used to be from common diseases of childhood.

For the first few years of 'there were no new cases of polio in the last twelve months' this is news. And then that becomes the default setting.

For those who decry 'Elf and Safety, I recommend a salutary reading of the London Medical Officer of Health reports from the C19th, freely available digitised and searchable online.

There are some Victorian values one can get behind, and the rise of public health is one of them.

On other Victorian values, however, and those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, this person seems unaware that providing tied housing contingent upon working for a particular employer is nothing like a 'welfare state':

it was recently reported that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is spending is around $30m to provide short-term, prefab housing for 300 of its employees because Silicon Valley housing is in such short supply. Tech giants helped cause a housing crisis in Silicon Valley, now it seems they are becoming landlords. It’s feudalism 2.0.
Not so much feudalism as C19th model towns, e.g. Saltaire, founded by businessmen to keep their workers contented and (I hypothesise) spurning the trades union movement (having had to do with a late C19th enterprise with some of the same elements of benevolent paternalism towards the workforce).

And, looking at that article, was New Lanark really quite the same thing? Enlightened capitalism not quite the same as utopian socialism.

Also had the thought that people who are 'regulation BAD' seem to reverse this opinion when it comes to panic measures against terrorism that are often symbolic rather than proven efficacious.

(no subject)

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:40 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] woldy!

Wed Reading Meme

Jun. 21st, 2017 07:39 pm
shadowkat: (work/reading)
[personal profile] shadowkat
1. What I just finished reading?

[As an aside, someone on Good Reads tried to quiz me on a romance novel that I reviewed in 2013. Seriously you think I'm going to remember the details of a romance novel I read back in 2013? I'm lucky if I can remember reading it. That's why I write reviews of these books, so I can keep track of the fact that I read them and don't accidentally by them again or re-read. My mother and I joke about this, neither of us can remember the book six months after we read it. It's actually part of the appeal. Romance novels are really hard to remember...they are so interchangeable and the writing style tends for the most part to be rather non-distinct. I actually like reading them for that reason at times...it's a nice light story, resolved by love, and caring, little to no violence, lots of sex (well sometimes depends), and I can delete from the memory banks. Got too much to remember as it is.)

Marry in Haste (Marriage for Convenience #1) by Anne Gracie

What works here, is the writer managed to subvert an incredibly annoying romance novel trope, aka the catastrophic misunderstanding, usually caused by the protagonists' stupidity.

The set-up? The heroine was disowned by her father because he believed some vicious rumors about her. Apparently she'd had an affair with a twenty-six year old stable hand when she was just seventeen. So when a neighbor who was after her inheritance found out, he decided to pass a nasty rumor about how she'd slept around with various stable hands and groomsmen, to everyone in town to convince her father to marry her off to him, to save her reputation. The father believed him. She took off to be a school-mistress. And eventually ends up married to our hero as a business arrangement to chaperon his sisters and niece through a season. He's adorable. They fall in love. But never say the words. And both doubt the other's feelings because they are too dense to realize actions matter not silly words. Even though everyone else can obviously tell.

So, of course throughout the entire book, I'm waiting for the hero to find out about the rumors and do the same thing her father did. Believe the vicious rumors and treat her horribly. They'll have a big melodramatic argument. She'll run off. Maybe gets hurt. He realizes he loves her, etc. Thinking, he'll probably find out from a friend or overhear it. (Because that's what always happens in these books or at least most of them.)

But that's not what happened. Instead, surprise surprise ...she tells him. He trusts her, doesn't believe a word of the rumor. Her friends and his family team up to kick the nasty gossip to the curb. And it all plays out the way it should. Zero misunderstandings.

Subverts the trope completely. Yay.

My only quibble about the story is...the author clearly doesn't like confrontations or conflict, because most of that happens off page, as does a lot of family scenes. There's a lot of paraphrasing and summarizing in the book. So I felt it was...rather passive at times.

That said, there is good, light banter. The hero is in a word, adorable. And incredibly kind. Not a jerk. And the heroine is equally adorable and kind. Actually with the exception of maybe two characters, which we barely even see...everyone is rather kind and likable.

Overall, an enjoyable read. It takes place just after the War with Napolean. So pre-Victorian period.

As an aside about historical romance -- weirdly the historical accuracy doesn't bother me the way it does in straight historical novels like Hillary Mantel's Wolf Hall. (Which I haven't been able to get into for various reasons but one of the sticking points is I know she made stuff up for dramatic effect. And people bought it as real. My problem with the more literary or straight historicals is often people read those for history, when they aren't accurate. I just read post on FB by a social friend a while back which stated this problem - Students take Hilary Mantels Tudor Novels As Fact


Guy recalled being out for the day after Mantel won the Booker prize for Wolf Hall in 2009 and returning home to find a stack of requests to write 1,000 words on how historically accurate the book was. He was also invited on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He declined all the offers.

“It is a novel. It is just silly. When you are in a world of the novel, a world of theatre, you tell a lie to tell the truth.

“Let us get this straight, the genius of Mantel is that she is aiming to summon up ghosts and if you look at some of that dialogue, it is absolutely remarkable.”



But what makes for great drama may not make for good history. And, in fact, “Wolf Hall” has stirred considerable controversy among historians and critics, many of whom have wondered what responsibility novelists who write about the past have toward history.


- How Wolf Hall Will Entertain Millions and Threaten to Distort History in the Process

That's the problem I have always had with straight historical novels in a nutshell. It's not just Mantel, it's basically all of them. They lie to you and it's not always clear how, and a lot of people get their history from fictionalized historical novels, where the writer has done a lot research then embellished and reinterpreted it to make a good story or fit their worldview.

So, I actually prefer genre - mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, romance historical hybrids, because it's pretty clear upfront that none of this is real. The history is not accurate.
The writer probably did a little research but not that much. So it's unlikely any reader will read genre for historical information or quote it.

That said, I have read historical novels and do like the genre on occasion, but prefer it when the characters in the historical are "fictional" and not based on real people.

2. What I'm reading now?

Still reading Let's Develop! by Fred Newman who is a somewhat controversial philosopher, political activist, psychotherapist, and teacher, that developed a new type of therapy -- social group therapy. He got into a bit of trouble with the political left, because while Marxist in some respects - more philosophy than economically, he's not anti-capitalism and supported Mayor Bloomberg's bid for Mayor and Ralph Nader.

Anyhow the latest chapter that I read discusses how therapy is not about problem solving or problem, solution, explanation. And states how too much emphasis has been placed on diagnosis. Or explaining dreams or why people act a certain way. And how this gets in the way of developing as a person and creating. I'm paraphrasing, because to be honest I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it.

The exercise at the end of the chapter is...the next time you hit a huge problem that you can't figure out how to solve or is making you crazy. Don't try to solve it. Write a poem about it instead. So I guess that's a poetry challenge.

Fortune Favors the Wicked by Theresa Romain which is about a blind navel officer and a courtesan who go hunting for treasure. I have no idea which historical period we are in. It feels post Napolean, possibly Victorian. All I know is it is pre-1900s.

Sous Chef - 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney - this is told in second person close, which is not the easiest point of view in the world to read. I find jarring.
He's putting "you" as in the "reader" in the shoes of a Sous Chef. "You have these knives, etc". And it's rather detailed. But the voice and point of view are rough going.
Anthony Bourdain, who had a rather distinctive voice, and made the wise decision of writing in first person, was a lot easier and more entertaining.
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished Binti. Reminded me a bit of other things I have read over my sff reading life, but well-done, may well go for the next one.

Sarah Gailey, River of Teeth (2017). Okay, everybody mentions the hippos, but isn't it, underneath that, a combination western/caper tale where an unlikely team is brought together and has its own tensions besides the issues with what it has to do? (not that that isn't a good armature). Enjoyable, but ended abruptly and cliffhangingly, and is the new thing (see Binti above) of issuing novellas which are only the beginning of a longer story arc the new allotrope of serialised fiction? (but hey, it worked for Middlemarch, though at least Ms Evans indicated that it was an ongoing story.)

Dana Stabenow, Bad Blood (2013). Not quite as good as the last one I read, I think, but ended with A Thing that makes me want to go on to the next quite shortly to see how that pans out for Kate Shugak.

Two short pieces of Barbara Hambly's 'Further Adventures': Hazard (2017) (Sunwolf and Starhawk) and Elsewhere (2017) (Darwath).

Picked up in booksale, Arthur Ransome, Missee Lee (1941). I remembered very little about this, even though I later discovered I already had a copy on my shelves. I don't think it was ever among my favourites of the Swallows and Amazons books; but I've found, on re-reads of these books, that somehow they do not do for me what they did in youth - something about the style? I don't know. Also, early C20th rendering of Chinglish, sigh.

On the go

Elizabeth George, A Banquet of Consequences (2015). I was considerably off these when they were turning Lynley's Epic Manpain up to 11, but this one was very cheap in a charity shop and promised mostly Havers. And really, do we not want more of the scruffy maverick with constant disciplinary issues who is also a woman? - the 'top brass not pleased' is massive at the beginning of this one. Okay, it's got a standard E George riff on 'all unhappy families are different in baroquely complicated ways, and there are no happy families' (the misery handed on is not so much a coastal shelf as the Mariana Trench), but I have stuck with it, though have just been irked that over 500 pages into the narrative they are only just looking into how anyone might have got hold of the somewhat unusual toxic substance involved.

Also, on the ereader, because I don't want to tote around a damn great fat paperback, from the romance bundle, Ivory Lei, How to Wed an Earl (2013) - not got very far, but seems as, 'be betrothed in infancy by respective parents' is how...

Up next

Well, in another charity shop found the preceding volume by Elizabeth George, Just One Evil Act (2013), which, I daresay, will reveal what got Havers into the deepest of disgrace and quite possibly the depths of depression, but I'm not sure I really want to commit to going straight on to another of these. Or maybe the next Stabenow in the series.

Or I could look through my tbr piles, actual and virtual.

(no subject)

Jun. 21st, 2017 10:09 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] adrian_turtle!

Orphan Black 5.02.

Jun. 21st, 2017 09:52 am
selenak: (Rachel by Naginis)
[personal profile] selenak
Still feeling listless (me, that is, not the series) and waiting for my enthusiasm for the show to come back.

Spoilery comments ensue. )

A meal from the 1950s

Jun. 20th, 2017 07:23 pm
cactuswatcher: (Default)
[personal profile] cactuswatcher


In my family we had the 'traditional' chipped beef on toast. But not very often. I remember the beef coming in a smaller jar than the one in video. The jar and its lid were not threaded so lid came off with a soda bottle opener. As this lady (Phyllis) says those jars could be saved and used as inexpensive juice glasses. I also think that the beef, at least as my mother bought it, didn't come in slices, but was in shreds as it came from the jar.

If I remember correctly we had it most often for lunch. During World War II chipped beef on toast was a common meal for the troops, which meant my father was sick of it by the time he got home. So mother would mostly fix it for herself and us children for lunch when he was at work. If we had it for breakfast, he ate it, but carefully reminded us kids that in the service it was called S.O.S. And if my older brother waited till he was away from the table to tell me yet again that meant 'Shit on a Shingle,' he didn't get in trouble for cussing.

My mother used a lot of Crisco, too. It's just awful for you, as it's about 100% transfat, but no one knew that then. It probably was worse health-wise than the lard it replaced in people's home, but it would keep longer without going rancid.

Phyllis mentions in another video that her family had milk with every meal in the 1950s. So did we. My mother didn't drink coffee, and didn't really know how to make it correctly. If we had house guests she'd buy coffee and turn the coffee pot she owned over to them to make their own. My father liked coffee, but only had it once in a great while at a restaurant.

My mother pretty much insisted we have potatoes in some form every evening. I don't think young couples, now, would consider having potatoes as often, though they are healthy, filling, vegetarian friendly and so on.

Stuffs

Jun. 21st, 2017 10:14 am
ironed_orchid: marilyn monroe with birthday cake (marilyn)
[personal profile] ironed_orchid
I had a birthday last week, I am now 45, which I think makes me officially middle aged or something.

My dear friend Charlie Quinn has a Patreon which I support and as a result I get sent postcards which they have designed. These postcards come in an envelope because they are not always safe for work. The June card is a very good example of NSFW language but completely awesome and amazing.

click )

I love it so much. The Trash Panda magnet in the photo was a gift from colleague and made by one of her amazing talented daughters who makes fantastic pins and magnets and stickers and cards and things and here are some examples of her works, but is currently taking a break from her Etsy shop due to life. Here are some examples including a much better photo of the Raccoon magnet: click because biggish )

(Her twin sister also makes amazing arts, mostly in the form of delicate vulva vases but also some other quirky ceramics like these claw handled mugs.)

---

I'm having a Hogswatch party on Saturday, I have even ordered a leg of ham. I have the next few days off and will be cleaning all the things then cooking all the things. I'm looking forward to it and wish that many of you could be there.

Still Star Crossed

Jun. 20th, 2017 09:38 pm
shadowkat: (tv slut)
[personal profile] shadowkat
Still Star-Crossed

Well, this improves with each episode, and no offense to Shakespeare, but I like it better than the original, Romeo and Juliet. (Although to be fair, R&J is not among my favorite of his plays. I didn't like the leads all that much.)

Oh, and Rebecca Kirsch, the Buffy writer that I keep forgetting the name of, is on the writing staff. She wrote tonight's episode.

I love the actress who plays Rosalind. Actually, I'm fond of several of the characters, Lord Montague, Rosalind, Olivia, Paris, Benevolio and Isabella.

Spoilers )

Better Call Saul 3.10

Jun. 20th, 2017 04:22 pm
selenak: (Jimmy and Kim)
[personal profile] selenak
In which Saul takes a backseat to Jimmy again, and only some of my speculations turn out to be correct.

Read more... )

"The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl"

Jun. 20th, 2017 08:53 am
cjlasky7: (Default)
[personal profile] cjlasky7
(Spoilers for "Better Call Saul" s3 finale ahead.)

This is the story of either an odd coincidence, or something weirder and deeper. You decide.

It all started yesterday morning at the bank, when I was taking my favorite customer down to the vault. (A short digression: I work in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, and most of the bank's customers do not share my interests. This gentleman is different. He's an illustrator, a bit of a bohemian, and we have many interesting conversations about literature and comic book artists.)

So I took him down to his safety deposit box and he started to talk about Ray Bradbury. (I love Ray Bradbury. I blazed through most of the Bradbury catalog when I was a kid.) I asked him if he'd read any of Bradbury's stories that were outside of RB's usual SciFi/fantasy pigeonhole.

I mentioned two: "The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse" (a surprisingly nasty social satire) and "The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl," which I guess you could call a crime story, but it's really about madness and obsession.

[The premise couldn't be simpler: a murderer stops to clean up his crime scene, but slips into (deeper?) madness, obsessively cleaning every inch of his victim's apartment. It's much darker than Bradbury's usual fare, but his command of language and pacing remains unbeatable.]

Last night, I watched the season finale of Better Call Saul. The dramatic center of the episode was when Charles McGill, the protagonist's brother, spiraled down into insanity, ripping apart his beautiful home to find the last trace of electricity that was slithering under his skin from behind the walls. (Michael McKean took you completely into Chuck's head. I know it's silly to call this a career-defining role for McKean, because he's literally been in everything over the last 40 years. But Chuck McGill is right up there with Spinal Tap for me. Just give him the Emmy already.)

In the post-episode discussion on AMC, McKean joined Saul co-creator Peter Gould in breaking down the episode. Gould said that Chuck's demolition derby was inspired by the scene in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Conversation," when Gene Hackman destroys his house looking for a bug that may or may not have been planted. But McKean said he used a literary source for inspiration:

"The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl."

I hadn't thought about that story in years. I was completely unspoiled about the episode. Odd coincidence? Or is it, like my wife said, that sometimes ideas are just hanging in the air, waiting for someone to pull them down.

In "The Girl Who Died," the Doctor said that deja vu is you remembering something that hasn't happened yet. Do we have flashes that break us out of linear time? Do we all have the capacity to see beyond the illusion we've created for ourselves?
oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)
[personal profile] oursin

I was responding to someone else's post and saying that I'm actually quite hesitant about recommending some of the writers/works that I love, because I can see that they have very individual and distinctive styles and that these may not work for everybody.

Some while ago (but failed to save the link) read a post somewhere pointing out that if you write a book or make a movie or [whatever], that people really really LOVE it is pretty much certain that there will be some people who really really HATE it; and that people who are aiming to make something that will appeal to everybody end up with a bland mush* that nobody HATES perhaps but nobody goes raving enthusiastically about either.

For some people, and maybe in some genres, this is a feature and not a bug: I have lately been reading various romance authors and a lot of them seem fairly interchangeable to me, i.e. I would not pick up a work and immediately know it was by YX rather than XY. See also some of the comments I have made about the reissued 'Golden Age' mysteries I have been sent as freebies and made myself read. Sometimes e.g. Allingham may irritate me intensely, but you know that you're reading a book by her and not Any Old Person.

Me myself I am a sucker for a distinctive voice provided that it is fresh rather than derivative (suspect this may account for why I like the Flashman books but not the various works that have tried to do the same thing, without, I depose, anything like GMF's abilities).

Though I am also generally twitchy about people who proselytise for authors/works/movies; possibly the flipside of that is people who diss on something you're reading or have on your shelves, which is rude. (Plus, if you a person who reads ALOT, you are going to have books about that are not favourites of your heart or indeed anything but something you are reading, because reading is what you do, they are at least a step up from the back of the cereal packet.)

As I have heretofore remarked, there is no book that everybody SHOULD read.

*Though is there not a proverb about porridge and no danger of world shortage of oatmeal?

(no subject)

Jun. 20th, 2017 09:40 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] bzeep and [personal profile] tournevis!

(no subject)

Jun. 19th, 2017 09:32 pm
shadowkat: (Default)
[personal profile] shadowkat
1. Can't decide if watching The Great British Baking Show is torturing myself or comforting myself. (Since I can't eat any of it or make it, on the other hand, it's on tv, so can't do it anyhow. I find cooking shows and demonstrations relaxing.) It's called Great British Baking Show in the US, not Bake-Off, because Pillsbury has trade-marked Bake-Off in the US, and they'd have to pay Pillsbury royalties for its use.
Don't you love Intellectual Property Law?

Oh, speaking of trade-mark law, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of trademarking politically incorrect or offensive trademarks. Such as "The Redskins" - baseball team wanting to copyright their name. (I actually agree with this -- freedom of speech. I think all speech should be permitted. If we prohibit one type, we risk prohibiting others.)

2. I'm putting off watching the second season of Sense8 until the weekend. It's hard to stop watching. That's how compelling it is. Wish it wasn't cancelled, I drug my feet on watching it, because it was and it had allegedly ended on a cliff-hanger.
(So I looked up information on it -- to ensure the Whispers/Will issue was resolved.)

I can see why it was -- very expensive series to produce. $4 Million per episode. And, it took two years for the second season to air after the first. That's a large gap to retain cast and audience. They already had to recast one of the cast members.

It's a shame, because this series is possibly the only sci-fi series on television that has a strong message of love, unity, empathy and kindness behind it. It's also by far the best written and produced. Most sci-fi television series, let's face it, are a bit of a mess. You have to be a bit tolerant of well messy writing, to be a genre television fan.

Hmm...best written and most innovative sci-fi series that I can think of and have watched?

* Farscape
* Star Trek the Next Generation
* Babylon5
* BattleStar Galatica (v.2)
* Lost

And Sense8 is very different from all of them. It really is a unique take on the television serial. Reminds me a little of Game of Thrones in the multiple character point of views and multiple location shots, with a large diverse cast. I'd say it is a lot better than GoT - the writing is more nuanced, it's less violent, the message is more positive, it flips gender and takes more risks.

It is however difficult to rec to people, because of the explicit sexual content and the type of sexual content - group orgies, homosexual sex, and explicit. Didn't bother me, but most of the people I know wouldn't be able to watch it. My parents -- no. My coworkers -- no. Shame. Again I ask the question, why as a culture are we more comfortable with graphic violence, shoot-outs, screaming hate, and fight scenes, then watching two people making love to one another? It boggles my mind that people have no problems watching someone stab someone but can't watch a sex scene, regardless of the genders involved.

Sense8 to be fair has a lot of graphic violence as well. Although it's fairly tame in contrast to the other sci-fi series I've seen. And no where near as violent as well, GoT, Walking Dead, American Gods, Supernatural...so.

I think it took some insane risks. The Wachowskis and the creator of Bab5, wanted to do something no one else had done before. Something that changed the boundaries of television like the Matrix did with film. Which is ambitious. There's 450 scripted television series.

If it weren't for subscription channels like Netflix, Sense8 would never have been made. HBO passed on it, as did Showtime.

3. Character Shipping or rather "Anti-Shipping" in Fandom

There's nothing more off-putting than someone seriously anti-shipping a character you happen to enjoy or find interesting. And people are oddly hypocritical about it. Now, to be fair, I've despised characters on television shows and books that others loved. Although I prefer not to talk about them too much. Also, usually they are supporting or just recurring characters, or I would not be watching the show or reading the book any longer. If the characters don't work for me, I'm gone. Seriously life is too short.

Like on Buffy, I disliked Andrew, which it turned out wasn't a big problem. I could ignore the characters for the most part.

Or on Lost...well there wasn't any characters I disliked. A rarity. Same with BSG, no characters I disliked.

In the X-men? I liked all the characters.

Doctor Who? Can't remember disliking any character intensely.

But the fandom? Oh dear.

Apparently in X-men, the most hated hated character happens to be my favorite. Which is annoying and why I steered clear.

Doctor Who? one of the most despised characters is among my favorites. So steered clear.

Buffy? It was difficult, for the most part I loved all the characters (except for Andrew), and many fans hated at least one of my favorites. And by hated -- they felt the need to rant, and yell about them.

(no subject)

Jun. 19th, 2017 06:52 pm
camille_bacon_smith: (Default)
[personal profile] camille_bacon_smith
 
Finally getting over this virus, and went to DC to see the National Symphony.  Christoph Eschenbach, formerly Music Director in Philly, was stepping down and these were his final performances before he moves to laureate status.  Here is the review!

Incrementality

Jun. 19th, 2017 07:17 pm
oursin: The Delphic Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel (Delphic sibyl)
[personal profile] oursin

I was synchronicitously pleased to find this blog post crossing my line of sight earlier today: Prospecting for kryptonite: the value of null results, because I had been thinking about incrementality and the time it takes for things to see results, and this is not just about scientific research.

Lately, at a symposium-thing I was speaking at, in the question/discussion bit somebody asked, was [change in the law] down to its being the Permissive Society at the time. And I was, actually that change in the law was made by people who had been working towards it for several decades, and had finally got into positions of power and influence and had the clout to bring it about, and it was more the final outcome of stuff that happened in the 30s than something that can be attributed to its beneficiaries, the Sixties Generation.

I think I've moaned on before about the 'Spaceships of the Gods' hypothesis and the idea that certain forms of knowledge came from Out There, because Infinite Regress: who found out how to build pyramids in the first place? why couldn't they have put on the show right here in the old barn gradually developed the capacity to do so over time and trial and error. The pyramids did not grow up overnight. So it might just as well have happened here as Somewhere Else and been brought to us by ?benevolent aliens.

There was also a good post somewhere I came across about archival research and how it is not opening a file and DISCOVERY!!! it is looking through files files files and putting little pieces together.

Yes, there are moments when everything comes together, and when the outcome of the process finally surfaces above the horizon: but it doesn't Just Happen. There was history.

Doctor Who 10.10

Jun. 19th, 2017 03:14 pm
selenak: (Tourists by Kathyh)
[personal profile] selenak
In which who penned the very last Classic Who adventure broadcast on tv in the 80s makes a comeback, lets Bill geek out over Rosemary Sutcliffe, and quotes Tacitus on us.

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Sense8 - Season 1

Jun. 18th, 2017 06:16 pm
shadowkat: (tv slut)
[personal profile] shadowkat
Just finished Season 1 of Sense8 and was blown away by how well written, acted, and produced this show truly is. It may well be the best sci-fi and/or superhero series that I've seen on television. By far the most innovative, not to mention positive.

Why didn't you tell me about this? No, wait you did. I ignored you. Hardly your fault.

Yes, it's far from perfect, the villain (Mr. Whispers) is a bit of a cliche and I keep wishing someone would just kill him off so we can go about our business. The conspiracy plot with the evil government funded corporation, I could do without. Because that's in every show to date, and hello, overdone. I actually think the show would have worked better without that.

Backing up a bit...Sense8 is a story by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski. The Wachowski's are transgender and were the same team that did The Matrix series. J. Michael Stracznski did Babylon5, possibly the tightest sci-fi series, because he plotted it out ahead of time. Which is why this ambitious piece of art works - because Stracznski knows how to build character and multiple plot threads that connect with each other. He's a planner.

Anyhow, the story is about eight people who have the gift/curse of being able to share thoughts, abilities and bodies with each other. They can visit each other, share emotions and feelings and senses, and even occupy each other's bodies utilizing each other's skills or aiding each other, when someone needs help. There are eight of them, and they are intricately connected by spirit, heart and mind.

1, Sun - Asian Female, South Korea, Martial Artist, Business specialist, lost her mother to cancer.
2. Leto - Hispanic Male (incredibly hot), Mexico City, Top-rated action movie star/romantic hero, gay, and in the closet. Lies for a living. In love with Herandez.
3. Will - White Male - Chicago, Cop.
4. Riley - White Female - Iceland/London, DJ
5. Naomi - White Female (transgendered from male), lesbian romance with Almamita (whose black), hacker extraordinaire.
6. Kalia, Indian, Female, Mombai, India, chemist, struggling with her upcoming marriage to Raj.
7. Wolfgang, German, White Male, Gangster, fighter/killer,
8. Van Dam - Nairobi - Kenya, Black Male, driver, struggling with gansters to get medicine for sick mother.

I loved all eight characters, which is rare, and the people they loved and cared for in their lives. (The only characters I didn't like, I'm not supposed to.) Usually there's at least one main character I don't like, and that's not the case here.

Sensie are grouped in clusters, and there eight in a cluster, who can share emotions, sense each other. They are an advanced form of human. There are the humans who can no longer feel empathy or feel for others, and as a result can kill without remorse and cause pain, and those who can feel connection with others, and cannot.

This has a large caste. And jumps from various places around the globe.

There's some beautifully moving moments within it...one in which Riley is listening to her father's concert in Iceland, and it triggers a flashback of when she was born, which triggers everyone else in her cluster to remember their births. Another moment in which the German has to get up to sing karakoke in front of people and is terrified, so they all sing the song with him, giving him the support to do it. And get past the negative flashback.

In one scene...Sun must make the difficult decision on whether to take the blame for something her brother has done, which would put her in prison. She discusses this with two of her cluster, Riley and Van Damn...and both share their own versions of similarly difficult decisions.

Each problem is resolved collaboratively, people aren't alone, and the underlying message is love and kindness can still and often does triumph in a painful, nasty world run by people who are dead inside. In a way, much like the Matrix before it. Also like the Matrix, it is a scathing critique of our society.

It's hard to describe, because it really should not work, but somehow it does. Each story building and flowing into the next. Each character building and supporting the next character and informing them. Also watching it is a bit like watching five different genre television series at the same time. One a gangster movie, one a Bollywood film, one a London grunge film, one an American cop film, etc. It's amazing that it works at all. (Clearly it didn't for everyone or it would have done better.)

Also there's some great throw-away lines that resonate long after the screen grows dark...with a soundtrack that sticks with me.

And amongst the many themes...these stick out...

* Be careful with choices, if we do not make the choice, the choice will often make us.
* Worse than losing your career or all you worked for, is continuing to not let yourself be who you are, to live that lie.

Season 1? Overall rating? A solid A.

Best television series I've seen in ages. I'm told S2 is better, hard to imagine.

Culinary

Jun. 18th, 2017 08:41 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

During the week: Greenstein's 100% wholewheat loaf, 50:50% ordinary strong wholemeal/einkorn flour - v nice.

Saturday breakfast rolls: basic buttermilk, 3:1 strong white flour/medium cornmeal.

Today's lunch: partridge breasts seasoned and panfried in butter + olive oil, served with rosemary jelly and damson jelly, with sticky rice with lime leaves, buttered

Bread-making during the week I expect.

No, no, no!

Jun. 18th, 2017 03:22 pm
selenak: (Londo and Vir by Ruuger)
[personal profile] selenak
Now, universe, this is just not fair. Stephen Furst has died, whoh played the wonderful Vir Cotto in my beloved Babylon 5.

If Londo's and G'Kars intertwining stories were for me the core of Babylon 5, Vir was its heart. He defied the cliché that a character who is good, sweet-natured and kind is per definition less interesting than the darker characters around him. Vir going from seeming comic relief to Londo's protesting conscience to the Centauri's best hope for a better future was moving, funny, dramatic - all of it. And Stephen Furst was up to whatever JMS wrote for him, with fantastic comic timing (the waving at Mr. Morden, for example) and heartrendering expressions (for example, the scene where he tries to apologize to G'Kar and G'Kar replies, well, here's the scene itself:



If you're in a scene with Andreas Katsulas and still hold your own, in a situation where you're a part of the people who occupied the other man's home planet (again) and you still make the audience feel for you as well as G'Kar, then you're an artist. Stephen Furst was.

I would have loved to include the scene between Vir and Londo after Cartagia's death as well, because for me that's not just one of Vir's best scenes but one of the show's most memorable, but alas, it doesn't seem to be on YouTube. Suffice to say: that scene says so much about who Vir is, about the Londo and Vir relationship, and also about B5 as a show, because most other shows would not have bothered with the aftermath of killing a villain so completely evil as Cartagia was.

Babylon 5 would not have been as good a show without Vir Cotto, and Vir Cotto might have been a very different character if he'd been played by anyone but Stephen Furst. I'm so grateful the two, Vir and Stephen Furst, found each other.
oursin: Text, nits, for picking of, lettered onto image of antique nitcomb from the Science Museum (nitcomb)
[personal profile] oursin

- that the plot of My Cousin Rachel is based on a very dubious understanding of English testamentary law.

According to the plot summary of the original novel here, Ambrose had never changed the will he made before marrying Rachel, which left everything to Philip.

Ahem: marrying voids existing testamentary dispositions, so, unless he had made another will embodying the same provisions after marriage (which he could have done, since there was no automatic obligation to provide for wife and children), everything would go to his wife, i.e. Rachel.

But even if he had made a new will in the same terms as the old, given that there seems to have been plausible medical evidence that he was not in his right mind at the time of death, she would anyway presumably have had good grounds for contesting the will.

Sense8

Jun. 17th, 2017 10:36 pm
shadowkat: (tv slut)
[personal profile] shadowkat
So...I decided to try one episode of Sense8....and then it became just one more episode, then just one more episode....six episodes later, I can't seem to stop watching.

Review to follow...this show is amazing. Never seen anything like it. I'm hooked.

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