bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
My promotion actually went through at work! I have a modified title and a tiny raise. My supervisor had coached me to brace myself for nothing, given looming budget cuts across the whole organization, so even a little bit is a nice surprise; and while it's taken three and a half years to claw back up to what I was making at my last job, I still don't regret the move. Best of all, the upgrade doesn't involve doing much more than I'm doing now.

This news was especially welcome on the heels of a weekend where I learned that revisiting season one of BtVS + reading some BtVS fics + washing my hair for the first time since the temporary straightening and discovering that it looked like the worst perm I'd ever gotten back in high school = broody, self-recriminating fugue. Fascinating how a couple of days of rekindling a yearning to be Willow and to have an intense core friend group and mentor and whatnot could send me right back to a college-era headspace like that.

But it faded with a little socializing and a return to the work week. I went to an annual St. Patrick's Day concert with a couple of coworkers. This year's theme involved wandering back and forth through time, from the 1600s to contemporary pieces, tracing some of the threads of the evolution of Celtic music, song and dance. A wonderful local-ish musician, Keith Murphy, led a reinterpretation of the shape-note song Clamanda that I'd grown to love when Ann Leckie mentioned it in a discussion of the music she'd included in Ancillary Justice.

(And my hair is fine now. It just took two showers to get back to normal.)

*

And now today, a vidding zine that Lim has been working on for months has gone live! It's got essays on various aspects of vidding, close readings of vids, ruminations on vidding history, vidder profiles and interviews, stories about copyright appeals, and more, from 16 international contributors.

VIDELICET

*warning: the landing page is a still graphic, but when you click through to the article index pages you will get some animated gifs. details below

Lim asked me to write about the Mashup exhibit, so I expanded my Dreamwidth report from last year to include new stuff about, for example, wrestling with legal questions before accepting the invitation to have "Starships!" included, deciding whether to use my RL or fannish name, brief reflections one year on, and some graphics that tried to capture my general feeling of "OMG" from the months leading up to the gallery opening. The article also features write-ins from Kandy Fong, Lim and [personal profile] heresluck. You can check it out here.

I'm at a local conference this weekend and don't expect to be online much, but what I've seen so far has been fantastic -- dynamic design customized to each article, beyond the compelling subject matter -- and I'm looking forward to reading/watching the rest.

*The All Articles index has animated gifs, although the mobile version doesn't seem to. You can avoid them if you go to the About page, and the Contributors page links to the articles by author. At a glance, the Glitter and Gold essay had a flashy gif (and the History of Vidding essay had a subtler one) that the gif-sensitive might want to be warned about.

My piece was given an auto-playing background video in the "Screening Room" section, and there's a non-flashy gif in the slide show embedded in the "Sh*t Gets Real" section. Also FYI, the section headers font and a few pix are styled with deconstructed red and blue like you would see in 3D materials before you put the glasses on.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Doing

Working a lot at work. Consequently, doing not a lot at home. My proposed promotion is still moving forward, although not approved yet. But I'm sad about feeling vaguely unwell so often. (No advice needed; docs have been consulted.) On the tail end of one of these periodic weeks of poor sleep, I had a gross dream about a manager in the office and had trouble looking at him yesterday. Then today my laptop died! Only I looked up the "symptoms" on my phone and fixed it via a method that indicated it was only an issue of built-up static charge, whew. We had an Arctic front sweep through last night; the same dry air made my lip split when I went to the library this afternoon.

Last weekend featured Boston fan brunch, always good, followed by fangirl movie night at [personal profile] thedeadparrot's, in this case Dune, for which [twitter.com profile] serenadestrong made a spectacular sand worm spice bread. On the downside, a friend moved away to NYC, and the whole weekend felt vaguely unreal because my ear was plugged for uninteresting reasons, so until these drops from CVS cleared it up I was half deaf and felt slightly feverish, maybe because I associate plugged-up ears with being sick.

...This is the kind of post people used to make fun of when they talked about the banality of blogging. I will stop complaining.


Vidding

No, wait, I will complain about one more thing, because it is upsetting me: Last Saturday YouTube blocked the Ancillary Justice trailer in the U.S. and Canada because of the DhakaBrakha audio snippets (although it's still up on Vimeo), and then last night Vimeo took down Starships! because of the Nicki Minaj song (although it's still up on YouTube) -- no warning, just down, with an email explanation of the copyright claim.

Things I have done:
- Emailed the OTW's legal team to see if they have experience helping vidders contest copyright claims for music rather than video clips
- Emailed the Vimeo support team to gripe about the sudden takedown and to request screen shots of the comments and last known view counts
- Asked vidding friends on Twitter for advice
- Added the YouTube link for Starships! to the biggest Tumblr post that's been circulating, although who knows if people will see it
- Begun preparing points to make in the appeals

I believe the book trailer has a better shot of being reinstated because it only uses a small portion of the full song and isn't competing with the original. Starships! I'm not super hopeful about, in the same way I haven't been hopeful about previous copyright matches for vids that got denied upon initial upload, and that sucks, because vids are clearly transformative works and I wish I could articulate how video clips transform the audio (rather than vice versa), or form a gestalt with it that the song wouldn't have done alone.

Meanwhile, I requested a song for Club Vivid and it got approved, although I'm not sure I can make it in time because of the scope of one of my Fandom Trumps Hate auction vids, which I am going to post about soon because I could use your help.


Reading

Those SF/F compendia. Also Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor. I liked Binti a lot and was pleased to learn of the sequel, which was also good, except for how it's a CLIFFHANGER, sigh.

Next up, The Dream-quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, because the Nebula nominees were announced and some of the novellas looked interesting.


Watching

This week I got to see a performance of Tennessee Williams' Night of the Iguana featuring Amanda Plummer and James Earl Jones! More on that later, I think. We do not often get New York-caliber dramas in Boston, so that was a treat.

Also a bunch of random movies that I will not list exhaustively but that included 13th, just as powerful as advertised; some movies my sister and I used to watch all the time as kids but that I hadn't seen since then (Annie [1982] and The Neverending Story); Cloud Atlas, which was terrible in different ways from the book (the racebending makeup was creepy and wrongsighted); and Child 44, an action film that was utterly unremarkable except for its cast: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Charles Dance, Noomi Rapace, Vincent Cassel and Fares Fares. It took place in Stalin-era Moscow and Volsk so of course they cast Brits, a Frenchman, a Swede and a Lebanese Swede and made them speak in "Russian" accents.

Want to see Get Out and Logan. My sister will be visiting next weekend and we plan to take care of at least one of those.


Listening

Stephen Thompson at NPR released this year's Austin 100, a batch of songs by artists he recommends ahead of SXSW. I usually find a handful of vid songs in these -- among the 2016 recs I found this year's Club Vivid song, the song I used for the Chris Hadfield vid, and the song I'm going to use for the Mary Sue vampire vid -- and am looking forward to this new collection.


Writing

Posts and emails, mostly. Did I mention that over Presidents' weekend I added some pages to some very old Mary Sue fics? It felt good to get words out and to extend those stories a little, even with the inevitable self-criticism over things like "Why did it take you all day to write two pages?" and "Why are you still thinking about teenage fantasies?"


Off to [livejournal.com profile] disgruntledowl's for dinner/movie. I made brownies. Before that, I made some mashed cauliflower. The apartment smells very confused.

Hope you are having good weekends.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Music: NPR/Stephen Thompson's Austin 100 lasted most of the drive to/from New York this weekend. It provided a dozen new-to-me songs I'm calling keepers, including four that sparked vid ideas. Two of the vids I'd definitely like to make at some point. One of those would be perfect for Club Vivid -- next year, that is -- once I figure out what fandom(s) slot(s) into the structure it presents.

Books: That thing where I said I was re-reading The Dispossessed because I'd made it almost to the end last time but petered out? I'm a little more than halfway through now and have no memory of anything beyond the middle of chapter two. It's a perfectly fine story of character, comparative politics and cross-cultural communication barriers. I'm beginning to suspect I didn't read much of it at all and have been confusing it with Stranger in a Strange Land, which I similarly didn't finish years ago.

Brain: Day four of four days off, and I'm feeling better than last week, although still not great. Took care of a lot of to-do's yesterday. Could use more days. Unfortunately, this is another week of Many Things To Do At Work + several evening engagements. Also feeling all a-roil regarding my career path after -- well, a lot of things, but most recently a grad school alumni party at our professor's house last night, at which many people shared the impressive things they are doing. I will continue to plug away at my tasks and do my PT exercises and see what happens.

Food: Taking care of myself by making sure meals are prepared for the week. Tried a couple of new recipes today that came out well. If you are interested: chicken and white bean chili (subbed a can of chicken near the end for raw breasts, and milk & yogurt for half-and-half & sour cream) for lunches; the simplest, silkiest cauliflower soup for afternoon snacks; and quick sautéed mushrooms with garlic, parsley and a mix of butter and olive oil to bring to a friend's tonight.

Now to figure out how to spend the 2 1/2 hours until the get-together.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Went: To [personal profile] cinco and R.'s wedding, and it was so, so lovely, the ceremony, the celebration, the morning-after brunch, seeing them so happy. As well as the concentration of most of my DC-area friends in one place. [personal profile] deelaundry was able to meet for a last-minute lunch and then was kind enough to drive me from the airport to [personal profile] alpheratz's where I was staying. So I got to catch up with them and [personal profile] corbae and then see [personal profile] ellen_fremedon and [personal profile] jrho and [personal profile] holli and [personal profile] sansets and [personal profile] siegeofangels and [personal profile] inlovewithnight and [personal profile] v_greyson and S. whose online handle I can't remember, and ♥.

Watching: Finished Great British Bake-Off, alas. alpheratz & corbae were (re)watching S1 of Hannibal over the weekend so I saw some episodes of that. At first I found it too dramatic to take seriously, but the one with the girl who thought she was dead ended up suitably creepy and suspenseful. Now I guess it's back to S5 of Gilmore Girls.

Listening: Took advantage of the plane rides to finally listen to the Hamilton soundtrack so I can follow what everyone on Twitter (it feels like) is talking about. It's a brilliant artistic achievement that, arguably even more so than 1776, brings a set of American historical figures to life for today's audiences, like translating Shakespeare into modern vernacular. Other people have talked about the importance and the joy of the casting, and the multiple levels on which the use of rap and hip hop works.

Especially as someone who strives to do similar things in a different field for my job, I love what it's doing for students of history, or students who don't know they're into history. What better way to teach kids -- or anyone -- the formalities of dueling than through "Ten Duel Commandments"? What more engaging way to portray what it might really have been like in early government meetings than "Cabinet Battle #1" ("I'll show you where my shoe fits"/"whatever the hell it is you do at Monticello")? How many more people now have heard of Hercules Mulligan?

It's funny, it's dramatic, it's informative, it's catchy, it's smart. It's clearly inspiring people to talk about these characters and look up historical documents, and it's calling out themes related to modern society as well as the universal human condition. That said, I find that my appreciation for the soundtrack is intellectual; I don't share fan friends' emotional attachments to various characters and relationships, which are themselves another indicator of Miranda's success. Maybe it's a function of only having listened once straight through without reading lyrics, not having been able to tell all the characters apart, not having seen any bodies interacting on stage? Maybe it's that I'm not generally a big fan of musicals? Maybe it's just the way I'm going to connect or not connect with this particular text.

I'm glad to have the mp3 files, anyway, and to be able to experience the show in some way when getting tickets is not feasible right now. Some of the tracks I've found particularly fabulous so far are the two above, "Right Hand Man" (boom! and that neigh!), "Wait For It," "Guns and Ships" (Lafayette!), maybe also "Stay Alive" and "Hurricane." Also kind of hilarious the way King George's numbers sound like songs by Mika.

Doing: Fall/winter arts calendar is picking up. We are going to see a live-scored version of Nosferatu tomorrow night at the symphony. Then National Theatre Live's syndicated Hamlet in December, as well as Joanna Newsom with Alela Diane as opener, whee. Hat tip to [personal profile] ldthomps for letting me know about the concert while we were hanging out Tuesday with a visiting [personal profile] ignaz.

Vidding: On hold for just a few more days until Festivids assignments go out. Only two of the things I offered have been requested so far, which is weird, since all but one were for things other people nominated. I guess more people than I would have expected nominate fandoms that they want to offer rather than receive? In many ways this process felt pleasanter before I was on Twitter and knew about the back-end signups tracking page.

Coping: I was feeling pretty down last week and over the weekend because of this health news. [personal profile] synn, [personal profile] deelaundry and [personal profile] alpheratz are good friends who lent sympathetic ears. Still, the emotional fragility persisted, and on Monday (I took a day off to recover from the weekend trip) I started writing a Mary Sue story set in an AU I constructed last year, almost certainly never to see the light of the internet, to work through stuff. And... it seems to be working? I mean, in combination with taking recommended RL actions, but I think it really has helped. Having Mary Sue voice my insecurities and sadnesses while vampire prince charming offers reassurances. Because while I'm hard on myself, apparently I can write someone being nice to Mary Sue!me. Talk about the power of creative writing. ♥
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
My last major summer work project should be done a week from now, and that will be nice for enjoying leisure activities again. Like mulling over [community profile] festivids fandoms. And reading books.

Actually, I have to read Uprooted before Monday because it came in at the library and you only get 7 days for new books that are in demand. After that, I’d like to try some of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels and find out whether they are as lulling as the good fanfic. And am so looking forward to the release of Ancillary Mercy in October, preceded by a reread of the first two in the series. Sometime during the fall, will get around to The Chronicles of Prydain for book club. Did any of you read it when you were younger?

Not taking work home will also mean more time for moving around. Elle n’est pas très athlétique, mais elle essaie.

1. The autumn gym class schedule was posted and it is disappointing. Alas. I will either try some new classes or find alternatives.

2. Such as those tennis Meetups. Although tennis thoughts are on hold on account of I can’t find my racket/racquet.

3. Badminton club also an appealing option.

4. Could try picking up Irish dance again with the hope that it doesn’t tighten up my hips like last time, but that is $.

.

In the meantime, my mom came to visit and we had a nice weekend in western Mass. admiring Impressionist paintings and modern glass sculptures and attending Film Night at Tanglewood with the Boston Pops, incl. live scores to Star Trek and Jaws, and violinist Gil Shaham looking like RSL. )

.

It’s tradition to watch at least some Star Trek whenever my mom and I get together. This time she voted for Space Seed. After that, I could only request The Chest Wrath of Khan*, especially since it’s next on the rewatch list with [profile] ignazwisdom. Still so much love and admiration for that film. Notes perhaps to follow.

*™ director Nicholas Meyer

.

Internet is down at home so I am posting this from work. (Shh.) Replies may be delayed depending on how daunting it seems to type on the phone keyboard.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Dear Festividder and anyone who might like to make a treat*:

*I would love a treat! You don't have to be an official Festivids participant to make treats, did you know? Rules and schedule at festivids.net.

A Simple Twist of Fate )

Take Shelter )

What Maisie Knew )

Stranger By the Lake )

Robot and Frank )

Dracula – NBC )

Immortel: Ad Vitam )

& some general thoughts:

I like celebrating shows and movies that make me happy, but just as much I like queering texts, whether it's pairing characters who aren't paired in canon or inverting themes or highlighting kink or drawing attention to minor characters or changing the tone or telling a different story using the same footage. I like joyful and I like dark and I like sexy.

Really hope you aren't looking for specific song recommendations, heh. Whatever you choose will be the right music. If you're at sea, though, here's an attempt to describe my tastes: Music thoughts )

In case they're helpful in conveying preferences, my own vids are here at AO3/tagged on LJ, and some vid recs are here.

All that said: We've been matched because we both like something, so whatever you choose to do will be wonderful.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (RSL neil window)
News: Excited to see Joshua Oppenheimer (who made the brilliant documentary The Act of Killing; the next film from that project is coming out soon here) and Alison Bechdel (of the Bechdel test) on the list of MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" recipients this morning.

Music: Tuned in to my favorite NYC folk & indie station yesterday because the office was noisy, and promptly picked up some new favorite songs. Now listening to Hozier's From Eden on repeat. Love the chord progression in the chorus, especially when he adds harmony at 2:09.

Movies: I keep meaning to do proper posts about these. That doesn't seem to want to happen. So:

Really enjoyed Tiger Eyes )

'Meh' on Guardians of the Galaxy )

Fic: Does reading this stuff make me feel angsty, or do I gravitate toward it because I'm feeling angsty, or do they feed on each other? Whichever, I was re-re-reading that old Hermione/Remus WIP and poked around on the AO3 again in case something new had appeared.

Ended up browsing Remus/Tonks, a pairing I'd never really explored before. No surprise that [livejournal.com profile] penknife's stories were great; I read Worldly Goods (actually, more [past] Remus/Sirius than Remus/Tonks) and Easy to start. Right now I'm enjoying Grow in the Openings by mindabbles, which has Remus/Tonks in it but is really Remus/Sirius. It's nice.

Checked out the Twelve/Clara tag (Doctor Who), too. Not much there yet, unsurprisingly. It may be tough to find what I'm looking for even as the collection fleshes out; in addition to having strong personalities and voices, there's a certain frisson they've got, a certain way I'd want to see the tension break into action, that I can't even quite articulate yet but is often hard to find in pairings that don't have a large volume of fic, because half the stories seem to be well-written, well-characterized, non-explicit or gen fic and the other half seem to be generic or OOC jump-right-into-it sex. Not that I don't also love those categories; it's just that sometimes you want something that combines the best of both. For now, Into the Deep by [livejournal.com profile] kassrachel will do just fine.

Any recs for any of the above media?
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
As an early Father's Day gift, I got my dad and E. and myself tickets through work to attend Film Night at the Boston Pops with guest conductor John Williams. They drove up and we went on Friday. It was such a treat to hear live performances of, in particular, the Jurassic Park main theme, a Harry Potter medley, and the Star Wars opening credits music (first finale) and the Imperial March (first encore) by the man who wrote them and some of the musicians who recorded the original soundtracks.

A quarter of the way through, the strangest thing happened: The concert turned into Club Vivid.

A screen came down and they started showing clips from movies that related to the music being played. The first, a montage of D-Day scenes from WWII films, was as sentimental as the closing hymn being played from Saving Private Ryan, and it fell somewhere in between a slide show and a fanvid. Then they did one that was just scenes from various Olympic Games, which was actually more interesting than the music, because elite athletes are amazing.

But then -- then, in the second half of the program, they did a trio of video-music pairings that paid tribute to dance in film, and the first and third were honest to goodness fanvids that could have been shown at Vividcon to great cheer. My favorite was the first, a "multi-source vid" of tango scenes from decades of movies, ranging from Fred Astaire to The Addams Family, set to the tango music from Scent of a Woman. The third was all follies/fun dancing from musicals, like Chicago and Singin' in the Rain, although no Newsies. Both of those did their job right in not only being aligned to but also interacting with the music. (The second one was just uncut segments of the dream sequence in An American in Paris, set to music from... An American in Paris.)

Rousing applause for those. It was such a 'teachable moment'; I wished from my seat in the second balcony that there were some way to retroactively include a note in the program like "If you liked these, you'd love...." :D

Now I want the inverted version of karaoke vid show where we get live musical accompaniment! It was neat to see how Williams kept the timing right, with a digital screen in front of his music stand that displayed the vid plus a bar scrolling from left to right with every other measure.

*

I probably can't afford to go to Vividcon this year, but I am going to con.txt this coming weekend. Thanks, past self, for pre-registering! Looking forward to several of the meta panels (do I have to tumblr?; bi-invisibility; dubcon; supernatural creatures and the law; Small Fandom Dating Game and fannish Pictionary; vid show; support group for small fandom and between-fandom fans; etc.) and especially to seeing D.C.-area fan friends again, most of them for the first time since I moved back north 9 months ago.

Full heart

Apr. 20th, 2014 09:33 pm
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (RSL neil window)
1. The melody, harmony, vocal quality and especially the chord progression in Hero by Family of the Year bring me right back to growing up listening to the radio in the '80s. Probably reminds me of Phil Collins' and David Crosby's* own Hero. Maybe even the simple, earnest song that ended the second Care Bears movie, Forever Young by Carol Parks (not the same as Rod Stewart's).

2. Finished S6 of True Blood. Because of... stuff... I went back and rewatched The Scene with Godric (YouTube; spoilers) from S2's "I Will Rise Up." It's still excellent. I still love it in a way that's hard to articulate. The blood tears, the raw emotion, the ancient relationship, the slipping between languages. The unremarked-upon homosexual overtones. The crack in a favorite character's persona. Eric has never been so beautiful, kneeling there with his voice breaking. And enriching it all is the echo of Marius/Armand.

3. Mostly, though, lately I am too full of things. Emotions all over the place. It took longer than it should have to realize that the inability to write so much as an email or concentrate at work or sit still long enough to add clips to a vid, and the general irritability toward anyone asking me for something, arose from my trying to stuff too much into the week. Concentrating on nutrition and exercising, planning travel (more on that soon, it is going to be super), doing chores, consuming media, trying to make fannish things, balancing work and social events, worrying about budgets, worrying about health things, fighting poor sleep... Wish that habit of keeping too busy to brood were easier to fix. :/

4. Happy Easter, Easter-celebrating friends. Happy two-days-left-of-matza, Passover-celebrating friends. Happy Patriot's Day/Marathon Day tomorrow, running friends. My officemate is running. The heart of the city has been on its sleeve the past week, marking the anniversary of what happened last year.

*Trying to identify a young, long-haired singer in the background of a sessions shot with David Crosby on YouTube led to the startling discovery that Neil Young was good-looking back in the day! In the latter shot especially, he's got a lovely Hugo Weaving brow going on. Thumbs up. Most of the time, though, it seems he looked like the lovechild of Hugh Laurie and Joel McHale. Y/Y?
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (RSL neil window)
Does anyone know when-abouts [livejournal.com profile] vividcon is going to post the themes for this year's vid shows? Seems late, no? I'm having trouble focusing on what my next project should be from about six options in various stages of (non-)completion, and knowing that one could fit a vid show theme would help.

.

Went to see two enjoyable things this weekend:

1.

Masters of Tradition, a touring concert with some of Ireland's best musicians and my favorite male Irish singer from back in the Afro Celt Sound System days, Iarla O'Lionaird. This being about the roots of Irish music rather than contemporary world fusion, he did stripped-down sean nos pieces and a beautiful rendition of "Siuil a Ruin." I like him best when he lets his voice open up.

Other favorites included a haunting performance of "Gol na mBan san Ar" (The Lament of the Women at the Slaughter) by David Power on an antique set of uilleann pipes. (This is the melody, but imagine it five times smoother.) ([livejournal.com profile] daasgrrl, cover your ears.) Also the entire pre-intermission set with brilliant fiddler Martin Hayes and accompanying guitarist Dennis Cahill, but particularly the sea shanty-ish slip jig from 14:30-16:25 and the really fast stuff in the last two minutes. Last, a fun Celtic interpretation of George Frederick "Patrick" Handel's "The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" from the Mairtin O'Connor trio.

O'Connor offered a music joke while Hayes tuned up later: "If you have the right key, you can get into any flat." Retort from bandmate Seamie O'Dowd: "If you're sharp, you can also get into any flat."

The other funny thing was I'd been sitting there thinking about how yet another benefit of living in the Boston area again is the rich Irish arts culture, and how if I'd still been in DC I probably wouldn't have had the opportunity to hear Iarla et al. But then O'Dowd related an anecdote about how, just the night before, they'd played in Silver Spring and cheered at the sight of Sligo Avenue.

2.

Muppets Most Wanted. They had me at the Swedish Chef's Seventh Seal reference. Also, so many cameos, in keeping with the Muppet Show of yore. (Me: Who's that guy in the gulag who looks like Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords? IMDB: Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords.) It was funny, and I enjoyed the Have you seen this chicken?-style gag. Only major complaint is that it did better at those cameos and genre spoofs and international relations jokes and meta references than it did at having a heart-driven plot or consistently good songs. (Compare the excellent interrogation number to the "I'm #1/You're #2" duet or Tina Fey's intro.) Also, same as the last movie, the sound balance was off so it was often hard to hear the lyrics. But it did come back around to the heart in the end.

Also also, Muppet CGI = NO. Part of the charm of the Muppets is practically being able to feel the texture of the puppets -- Kermit's fuzz, Rolf's ears, Fozzie's fur, Scooter's plastic eyes, Piggy's hair -- and seeing the wires when they do whole-body shots. The bit with Constantine the ninja worked because it was supposed to be ridiculous, but doing Kermit in CGI so he could tap dance on a bannister not only looked bad, it took some of the fun out of it.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (turkey pin)
Things I am especially grateful for tonight:

- Working heat, and a hot meal
- Still having my mom (and dad) around
- Friends who remain so over long distances
- How this move worked out so well, physically and professionally
- Being accepted in and engaged by this community even when I've only been participating sporadically of late

.

Most recent instance of things going click: Discovering that the gorgeous voice in the pop/dance song Wake Me Up (acoustic version) belongs to the same man who sings the song Ticking Bomb that I bookmarked last week after hearing it in a video game commercial: Aloe Blacc. He does a mean, bluesy rendition of California Dreamin', even if he doesn't quite hit all the notes live (in the second half, anyway).
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (RSL neil window)
I haven't been reading much poetry these last few years, but some of the best I've encountered in that time are songs by Joanna Newsom. Behind the cuts are two of my favorites, including the first one I ever heard, the remarkable "Emily." Joanna's voice isn't for everyone, I know, but she's a demon on the harp, and the way she spins out stories and plays with the sounds and rhythms and textures of words—not to mention her ease with vocabulary—whew. I don't always know what it means, but I sure like listening to it.

Emily (12:10, 850 words) )

Sawdust and Diamonds (9:07, 683 words) )

Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] rubberbutton and [livejournal.com profile] recrudescence, for introducing me to her music.

Who are your favorite poet-songwriters these days?
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (RSL neil window)
Am experiencing that unfortunate blogging state where you don't post for a while and then there are too many things to talk about, so you don't talk about any of them, repeat until something gives. Let us try to overcome the blockage through the magic of a "five things" format:

1. I am reading the Twilight series. No, really. )

2. I watched seasons one and two of Girls. )

3. synn and I accidentally made The Challah That Ate Pennsylvania. )

4. Went to an excellent Sigur Ros concert. )

5. Five things, five things, hm. Starships and Home showed at Muskrat Jamboree and apparently were well received, yay. Many thanks to those of you who texted or emailed or dropped comments to report on how the vidshow went. Starships'll be showing at VidUKon soon, which is also awesome. Meanwhile, someone is doing a really cool project that involves one of my vids; I got to see a draft today, and it's going to be exciting to talk about when it's out in the world.

Looking forward to the time, ever closer, when my brain decides to be productively creative again. Mayhap it will involve one of the "gift basket" mini cards at Kink Bingo. Or not, since work is busy and my mom will be visiting next week.

Either way, for now, it's National Poetry Month once again, which means it's... time to read more poetry. Reading poetry means reading slowly, means appreciating the aesthetics of language, the exquisite ways artists find of expressing the simplest, most ordinary experiences, or of articulating what had seemed to be ineffable. Means slowing down the brain. Taking time. Thinking. So different from the skimming and attention dividing that tends to dominate my days. I didn't used to be like that, when I was a teenager. (Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny in the metaphorical sense that my personal [d]evolution from measured, thoughtful and introspective to fragmented, rushed, digital- and social network-immersed reflects our culture's shift over the past couple of decades?) Poetry Months—and Septembers, when I remember the beginnings of school years—always make me wonder whether and how you can restore yourself.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (RSL neil window)
The rest of 2013 had better be less exciting than the first two weeks of it. Otherwise I am in for a year of (ETA: minor, even humorous in retrospect) run-ins with the law, awkward romantic prospects, glancing blows from deer, hacked accounts, insects, insomnia, tech troubles, and a roller coaster of nutrition and physical activity success. On the upside, it would be a year of fannish productivity, more frequent than usual get-togethers with my sister, high quality media intake, successful financial negotiation, promising new leadership at the office, enjoyable social gatherings, and a super-tidy apartment.

All by way of saying that life has been interesting lately. Today, at least, everything appears to be fine. Last night I got to hang out with my sister for the second time in as many weeks, this time in the company of Kris Allen & his group, last time with a cool band called Delta Rae, whose soul/gospel-y song Bottom of the River—especially the bass-pounding, drumstick-cracking live version, which sounds more like this (wait for it at 1:52)—caught my ear. Here are a couple of pictures I took because it was cool to see the stage from the side:


sound mixing board and jillette on stage - purple tinge

At the 9:30 Club, with opener Jillette Johnson (my sister's current employer); click for bigger


slit in curtain w sis and jillette - red tinge

At Jammin' Java, ditto


Dee and I went to this thing called Nerd Nite over the weekend at a club. The two of three lectures we stayed to hear were entertaining and chock full of trivia about gonads and architects, but otherwise the whole event was an organizational disaster. Let us not dwell on it.

How about a movie recommendation for ballet fans: First Position. Anyone else seen it? It followed the standard structure for competition documentaries, except as opposed to something like Jig, all the featured kids, aged 9 to 18, were mature and sympathetic. Not to mention excellent classical and/or modern dancers.

Also, the American Ballet Theatre has a filmed performance of The Dream (a 45-minute ballet version of A Midsummer Night's Dream) available on Netflix, which was cool to be able to finally see. Ethan Stiefel was all right as Oberon; he and Alessandra Ferri as Titania looked wobbly and straining to me, although apparently I am in the minority for that opinion. Herman Cornejo stole the show as an acrobatic Puck, and there was some fun choreography for the two mortal couples' antics. Beautiful costuming, too, as the promo shot promised.

Something I am looking forward to: Three days until [livejournal.com profile] festivids goes up! That means 100+ new vids to watch, comments from recipients on the five (!) vids I made, and the thing I always somehow forget: that there will be a vid for meeee.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I am having a bout of springtime ick, but let us not dwell on the phlegm. I just watched and enjoyed Pianomania (Austria, 2009), which follows a Steinway piano technician, Stefan Knupfer, in Vienna as he strives to tune and otherwise customize pianos to suit the needs of their demanding, perfectionistic, artistic, masterful players for specific performances.

Is it bad that for a while in the beginning I was thinking of Steinway!verse Arthur? He would be that demanding of his instruments (specificity above all), and he would never be wholly satisfied with the outcome. And then Ian Bostridge showed up, singing like Steinway!Eames.

But no, it was really enjoyable aside from that. Fascinating looks into the ways in which sounds from a grand piano can be altered, using both traditional and nontraditional methods. Beautiful shots of the inside of the instrument as it's tuned and played. Inviting you to debate whether the requests to make the sound "rounder" or "more like a clavichord" or "more magical" or *rubs fingers together* are the vocabularies of two masters conversing, struggling to put incredibly specific acoustic concepts into words ('If they are neurotic about the way they want the piano to sound when they play, then I am as much a neurotic when I work on it,' he said), or pretentious-sounding nonsense ('You have a knack for making complicated things sound more complicated – why don't you just say 'I loosened it up a bit to make it wobble,'' said one of the recording technicians). A glimpse into the interior life of a concert hall and a recording studio. Of course, many opportunities to listen to—or listen for—the differences in sound qualities, in personalities, in suitabilities, from instrument to instrument. And fun, too. Igudesman and Joo showed up. (Stefan is not only particular; he can be creative and silly.)

So that was, er, as I said, quite enjoyable. If my mental faculties were more together, I'd take a few minutes to compare it to Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which I saw over the weekend with friends: portraits of experts hard at work and in love with their craft, honed over many years, intended in the service of others, often pleased, yet never content.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I heard this song "Somebody That I Used To Know" by a band called Gotye on the radio a couple of times in the last month and really liked it, especially the semi-emo opening verses (e.g. "You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness"). The singers have nice voices, and the sound is part indie, part pop, and part retro, with a xylophone and a distinct Police-era Sting vibe in the chorus. So I hooked up my phone to play it on YouTube through the car stereo while I drove over to a couple of friends' houses this weekend. And it was only after I parked this afternoon and looked down at the phone while the video was still playing that I discovered that Gotye and guest vocalist Kimbra are really good-looking. Wow. I can't stop watching it now, especially after Gotye's face gets painted.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UVNT4wvIGY

In other news, I had an unexpectedly fun day over at my friend A's place -- not unexpected because she and her husband are always interesting and entertaining, but unexpected because we weren't planning to get together -- during which they introduced me to some more Finnish cinema of the Aki Kaurismäki a.k.a. depressing and dryly humorous variety and we ate a lot of homemade food and took a walk over to the independent bookstore Politics and Prose which somehow I had never been to, and also I got a haircut last week so my hair is excellently short again, and also I received a tiny adorable plastic trophy for being "Hardest Working Judge" in a local fangirl mystery-ingredient cooking competition that was held on four successive weekends ending last Saturday! Yay.

ETA: Oh, dude, Gotye is playing at the 9:30 Club in two weeks. Anyone in?? ETA 2: Sold out. Oh well.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
It's been a full month, I can certainly say that. Went to Florida, North Carolina and Georgia on separate trips, saw an excellent play, finished a couple of fics, read some books. Went to work. Squeezed in some social dates while I was home. Caught the earthquake but avoided the hurricane. (My family in NY didn't; one half still doesn't have power, while the other half almost lost their boat in storm surge high tide.)

Now I am back for the foreseeable future and committed to finishing at least one more line for Kink Bingo before the deadline hits and RL responsibilities kick back in. I wrote a fic for "held down" that ended up being more choking/breathplay or sex work, so that's on pause. The DS9 vid is back on the table, though, metaphorically speaking, and if it doesn't work, you're going to get a 50-image picspam, because I really like the fit for its square.

Re: books, I already talked about the Zelazny compilation, and may I also recommend a collection of New Yorker essays by Berton Roueché from the 1940s and '50s, called The Medical Detectives? I picked it up at Borders' fire sale and it's wonderful. They are diagnostic and epidemiological mystery stories… ) Fellow House fans might enjoy specific essays like "The Orange Man." I wonder how many essays in the rest of the book served as source material for cases on the show. ETA: Yep: the very next essay, "The Dead Mosquitoes," which I'd bet inspired the episode "Poison."

Re: play (Uncle Vanya at the Kennedy Center), Hugo Weaving was delightful, Richard Roxburgh as Vanya almost as much so, the dissonance between humor and everyday despair came together well at the end, and for the rest I'll direct you to [livejournal.com profile] alpheratz's review.

Also, a traditional Greek cabaret group called the Sophia Bilides Trio was playing the Millennium Stage as we walked to the theater, and it was glorious. Witness an example, only she had finger cymbals rather than a hammer dulcimer last week.

Re: this weekend's trip, there was a spa, which was a wonderful indulgence (massage! Jacuzzi! wine! buffet!), and also there was sushi and a lot of TV. I always end up watching shows at this friend's place that I've never or hardly ever attempted. This time it was episodes of The Closer, Necessary Roughness, Top Gear (U.S.), How the Earth Was Made, Leverage, Eureka, one or two others I'm already forgetting, and a couple of NCISes for old time's sake. They watch a lot of TV. Lately I've only been watching True Blood and catching up on House.

And then when I got back, the Vividcon DVDs were waiting along with a box of birthday goodies from [livejournal.com profile] synn. Hurrah.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I have this really fun vid in mind for historical roleplay, but I am struggling to find the right song to set it to. Usually my vid ideas start with a song or a song/fandom pairing, not the other way around. I was lucky to have thought of "Jerk It Out" so quickly for the humping robot.

Anyway. What I am looking for is a fun/chipper/energetic/happy/sweet/along-those-lines song that's about being nostalgic for a bygone era, or about loving the past or some point in history, or about wishing you'd been born in another time or place, or even about loving roleplay. Gen is much more appropriate than romance, which has knocked out of the running almost every song I've found. Country, pop, rock, folk-rock, musicals, dance, hip-hop, maybe alternative, could all work; I haven't had much luck with heavy metal, and I'm not sure an instrumental piece would get the point across effectively.

I have drummed up two decent candidates so far, but neither is quite right: "Born Too Late" by The Clarks (YouTube w/lyrics) has the right tone and subject matter but may be a little too specific with all the names, and the lyrics start right away, so I'd have to do some audio editing; "Should've Been a Cowboy" by Toby Keith (YouTube/lyrics) is the right idea, but may have too much about cowboys. Googling has mostly turned up songs about lost romance and playlists that make the playlist creators feel nostalgic for their childhoods.

Any ideas?
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Wow. It's the end of an era.

...

Last night's Jonathan Coulton show was good. He did some fan favorites (Skullcrusher Mountain,* zombies, Mandelbrot Set) and a few that I didn't know (Creepy Doll, one about a giant squid, one about a sad vampire with vitamin D deficiency, a heartbreaking one about the dog from Russia who went up in Sputnik II) and some new material. Plus an electronic mashup of "Mr. Fancy Pants" that layered the Super Mario Brothers theme over Beyoncé. *Someone had sewn together a half-monkey half-pony monster to please him. It neigh-screamed.

Still, I actually -- [livejournal.com profile] kassrachel, hide your eyes -- enjoyed the opening band/comedy duo more, Paul and Storm. Highly recommend their Nun Fight and a few of their parody imitations that you can stream if you scroll down on the link above: "If James Taylor Were on Fire," "If Bob Dylan Were Hiding at the Bottom of a Well" and "If Aaron Neville Were Waiting for a Parking Spot at the Mall, But Someone Else Snagged It" (which was better live but is still funny on the site).

All in a venue full of nerds. Including a table of fangirls and a few more friends of mine I got to finally introduce to one another.

...

Happy preemptive Mother's Day, all of you who will be observing tomorrow. I have made a last-minute decision to go visit my own, so I will be gone in an hour or so and back on Monday. Don't know when Madness author reveals are scheduled, but I left my mini-DVD commentary on my work computer so you'll get it Monday regardless. Heh.

...

And, if I may take a moment to rec a Remix, try Dear John (WIP Remix) - a post-"The Hive" enzyme-jacked Rodney writes and edits and rewrites and re-edits a letter to John trying to express just how angry scared in love angry he is about John's tendency to risk his life to save the ones he loves. Did I mention it's done as scans of handwritten and marked-up copy on coffee-stained sheets of paper and that it's full of copyediting marks? With SF references?
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Just saw Nostalgia de la Luz (Nostalgia for the Light). Absolutely beautiful movie. It focused on the confluence of astronomers, archaeologists and traumatized citizens who sift through the dust and stars in the Atacama desert in search of relics from Chile's recent and prehistoric pasts and clues about the origins of humanity and the universe. Moved me to tears, twice. Patient, thought-provoking, emotional in the truest, non-sentimental sense. Bone-chilling at times (e.g. exhumed bodies). Kind. So kind to all of its subjects. And had one of the best, poetic closing lines I can remember.

It reminded me of Terrence Malik's The New World, which I tried to watch recently but could not stand. Malik, from what I've since read, evinces a sense of timelessness, of epic themes, of the world's grandiosity and humankind's simultaneous insignificance and deathless universality, by holding on shots of nature and human bodies over long musical notes. I found them intolerable, and the characters' mumbled philosophical lines laughable. Guzman's (the director of Nostalgia) transitions from sand to galaxies to skin to dust were clunkier, his subjects' musings and connectedness more spelled out, but they worked much more for me.

Maybe that is a fault of mine. Some of the reviews for The New World certainly make it sound like a moral/aesthetic failing, a lack of sophistication, to not appreciate the filmmaking genius that is Malik, his spurning of Hollywood narrative structure and America's dwindling attention span. And I do want to try his forthcoming The Tree of Life. We had no idea what we'd just witnessed when the trailer showed before Black Swan, but (a) it did look intriguing, more so than the New World trailer, and (b) maybe it's a different experience if you know what sort of three-hour molasses-paced nonlinear philosophical experiment you're in for ahead of time. Perhaps afterwards, if I feel the same way about it as I did about The New World, I will not lack the courage of my convictions to say his style is a matter of taste, and that taste is just really not mine. See also: Richard Linklater and Paul Thomas Anderson.

Anyway, if you like transcendent documentaries that give equal attention to cosmology and dictatorship atrocities, do go see Nostalgia.

* * *

My sister visited for a few hours this week, which is about our usual length due to her schedule. Ended up going with her to the Jimmy Gnecco show she was here for, which was excellent as always, except this time while I watched and listened, I was thinking about how Jimmy is one of the people my sister knows who would be super-popular in fandom if fandom knew and cared. I mean, to put his physical appeal in fannish terms, imagine Ryan Robbins' head (on a good day) on Joseph Gordon-Levitt's body -- Jimmy used to be a gymnast -- with Tom Hardy's tattoos and a voice like Bono's if Bono were singing Rufus Wainwright songs. In short, he is a fine nearing-forty specimen who weighs 100 pounds with his boots on, and I may have to draw heavily from this solo acoustic performance if there are tattoo or sensation play squares on my Kink Bingo card.

Or you could just look.

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