bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Might as well post the movie & TV lists while we're here. Last year I did them by month; this year I collected them for longer in part for Festivids reasons and in part because I was embarrassed for a while at the proportion of sources that weren't for the auction vid. But that is chugging along now.

Averaging a little less than two movies per week, and more TV shows than usual, for vidding reasons )

As with the book list, happy to talk about any of these.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Today is Patriots' Day in Boston, a.k.a. Marathon Monday, a.k.a. the day most people in the city seem to have off from work and school except us. My usual commute is bisected by the marathon line, so I came home the long way tonight, through the city: a packed train of tourists, Sox and Bruins fans, and an international collection of runners in foil cloaks, some limping and leaning on one another and some looking like they just went for a jog around the block.

This afternoon, per tradition, a few of us walked to the local portion of the marathon course to cheer on our now-former coworker as she ran by. The crowd was quiet enough this year that she heard us, smiled and waved as she continued along the final stretch. (It was hot today and she's injured in two places, yet she still ran the thing in less than 4 hours. Unbelievable.)

*

Friends are great. Some came over for a seder on the first night of Passover; some were in town for lunch this weekend; some will be moving here from far away; some are helping me sift through an enormous amount of source material for this multifandom vid. I've only sent out a handful of emails so far, so if you volunteered for something and haven't heard yet, stay tuned.

Since last we spoke, I've watched or scanned through a whole bunch of movies and short TV shows. Let's see: Crazyhead (fun), Cleverman (difficult but rewarding), Extant (derivative but enjoyable), Travelers (meh), now starting Timeless (fun); the "San Junipero" episode of Black Mirror (not traumatizing, hooray), the Green Fury episode of Powerless (I liked parts of it, but sitcoms are still not my thing) and the new Doctor Who premiere (winning me back over); Pacific Rim (meh), Fantastic Four (2015) (Action Movie formulaic emptiness), Z for Zachariah (great), The Fits (as wonderful as promised). I am not a huge TV fan compared to the general fan community -- some of my dearest and most passionate fandoms have been TV shows, but I'm not well-"read" in TV and don't love the medium as a medium as much as I love movies -- so this endeavor presents an interesting challenge.

There is still a ton to go, but it feels good to have made a dent.

*

Meanwhile, my de-stressor and pre-bedtime media over the last month or so has been a BBC show made for five-year-olds: Sarah & Duck. Have any of you seen it? It's so lovely and chill, wholesome, and often funny. Sarah is curious, imaginative and accepting, and every day seems to be a vacation day, which sounds nice right about now. From time to time the art is really beautiful, too. You never know when the plot will go full-on surreal or stay within the realm of the plausible -- well, given a reality where ducks sort of understand English and ladybugs play small trumpets. I am a particular fan of Duck wagging his tail, Sarah when she gets really excited about things like baby manatees, and Scarf Lady's long-suffering handbag.

I'm almost out of episodes on Netflix, though, and then whatever can take its place?
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I.

Quick reminder that bidding for the vid I'm offering for charity ends at midnight tonight, if you would like to make a pledge. Sorry/happy to report that the current bid is $110, in case that saves you a click.

I put in one bid, for a Remus/Sirius/someone fic from [personal profile] setissma, but [personal profile] thedeadparrot outbid me. :) That's only fair, since she'd been bidding before I stuck my nose in.

II.

I'm at my mom's for the week and she's doing well. Big relief. Last week was tough, being in another state and waiting for updates while trying to work. Now we are just lying around the house listening to music, watching TV and old movies, occasionally playing Scrabble* or this Star Trek trivia game** or yelling at a Banff National Park jigsaw puzzle whose pieces all look the same.

*Geekiest hand of the game

**We shuffled the trivia cards so the movies and series would all be mixed together, but then we realized we didn't know Voyager or Enterprise and by the end we just shamelessly cherry-picked TOS for her and DS9 for me, with occasional Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home thrown in.

III.

Persuant to the above:

TV: My mom and her bf are into reality TV, so I've been introduced to shows like Wicked Tuna, Living Alaska, and Alaskan Bush People, plus many reruns of Property Brothers, House Hunters, etc., and the usual Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Let's not talk about the news.

Movies: I brought down one of the DVDs from a grab bag [personal profile] jetpack_monkey put together, and we are two for two so far: Attack of the Crab Monsters, which featured the immortal line, "Once they were men. Now they are land crabs," and Not of This Earth, featuring space vampires and questionable transfusion practices. YouTube trailer for the double feature. Tonight we'll try the third, War of the Satellites. Maybe we'll even get to the .avi file of The Frozen Dead that's been on my computer for about three years since my coworker tried to get me to watch it.

Books: Binti was great. I haven't gotten more than a third into Akata Witch because of all the TV, but I look forward to finishing it. Then The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl vols. 1-2, which was supposed to be for book club but just got outvoted by Paper Girls vols. 1-2, which I guess is next-next.

IV.

The neighbors' college-age son has gotten into Game of Thrones, grew his hair into several inches of curl, got himself a sword at a garage sale, and now does cosplay of Jon Snow in a fur-shouldered Night's Watch cloak. It's impressive!

V.

Okay, she's out of the shower, so that's all for now. Hope you're all hanging in there.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
1. The "Elf" vid is pretty much ready to go, pending one last beta's feedback. Hemming and hawing on whether to post tomorrow evening (Eastern) or Saturday morning. Probably the weekend. I don't know anymore when the best times are to post things. Do you?

2. Friday morning's low is predicted to be 3 degrees F. Factoring in wind chill, -15. I might need to figure out an alternative plan to get to the office that involves less exposure to the elements, since telework isn't an option. By Jove, though, I'm going to book club tomorrow. It's Vorkosigan night at last.

3. Facing the return of Arctic chill and armed with expiring coupons, I went boot shopping after work. Found two fun burgundy pairs but I didn't have enough brain to decide between them so I ended up bringing them both home, where I can try them out more extensively and decide which one to keep. I was leaning toward the chunkier, more wintery ones in the store, but the shiny, better-with-a-skirt ones are calling to me now. (They're redder than that picture suggests.) Opinions welcome. They were the same price ($34), so that's not a factor.

4. Watched some TV. I don't seem to have the werewithal to review with substance, but we can talk: the newly released third season of Mozart in the Jungle, which I still don't know what to do with, and which nudged me from apathy about Hailey to active dislike; Grantchester season one, having already seen season two, both so lovely in story, pacing, setting and characterization; and The Fall season three, which might have been the best season of a very good show, or maybe that's because I especially liked all the medical procedure stuff and it didn't 50% consist of dead-eyed Jamie Dornan saying "Stella."

5. Started reading the latest Vampire Chronicles installment from Anne Rice: Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. ~120 pages in, nothing in the text has rescued the title; the story still suffers from prose- and character bloat. Everyone is wearing very nice, very expensive clothes, all the male vamps still pleasantly go around either kissing one another and declaring their devotion or plotting revenge, and Lestat, although he has matured remarkably, still doesn't know why he does anything. BUT: conceptual spoiler basically revealed on page 23 ) Two great tastes that taste great together? Or two great tastes whose combination has been failed by the chef? TBD.
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(Aside from current events like the DAPL breakthrough. \o/)

I’m not a good sleeper, but last night, with the help of a "non"-drowsy allergy pill, I went to bed at 9:30 and slept until 7:30 and woke in my little quilt cocoon to a dusting of snow outside, feeling like life is beautiful. Why can’t every night be like that?

I found some books for gifts and for me at the twice-yearly Harvard Book Store warehouse sale this weekend: some cookbooks, a slim volume about narrative craft by Ursula Le Guin (originally written in 1998 and updated last year) and four nonfiction books I’d been eyeing for a while. That’s part of the good thing. The other part is that work is going to cover most of those because they’re job-related. Hooray; that frees up this month’s book budget for other treats.

While exchanging a defective jacket, I found a cowl-neck "tunic sweater" that fits. It was on sale and it makes me happy. I have not been feeling good about myself body-wise for a while, and a well-fitting article of clothing helps. It’s long enough to be a short dress, but I wasn’t brave enough for that today, given the chill, and am wearing it with black pants.

Since it is the Month of Capitalism, I also browsed around for stovetop tea kettles, because I’ve finally grown embarrassed enough about boiling water for guests in a battered saucepan to search for an alternative. (It was more of a small-kitchen, don’t want specialized gadgets thing than an affordability thing.) Thus was I introduced to the modern world of programmable electric kettles, where you can set the shutoff at various temps below boiling for perfect tea steeping. I think this is where my Hanukkah gift card from the stepfamily will be going.

Culinary rescue! A pre-Thanksgiving cider-braised chicken recipe came out way too sweet and I ended up sticking most of the constituents in the freezer: leg meat, barley, onion, too-firm diced carrot and celery. Yesterday I tried reinventing it as a soup and am pleased to report that it came out great.

A roasted spaghetti squash, not so much. Overdone to mush. I would turn it into soup if there weren’t already soup this week. The internet says it can be puréed into a sort of mash, with butter/margarine, salt and pepper. Any other ideas?

Friends came over on Saturday to work on various laptop projects, "alone together"; I made some progress on the Elf vid, and we experienced the first two episodes of Yuri On Ice. Waiting for the second Grantchester S1 DVD to arrive; started watching S3 of The Fall on Netflix. Was pleased to learn that it began as a medical drama! With Richard Coyle from Coupling, no less.

<3 to all of you while this good mood lasts. Later in December will be much more stressful, on top of whatever fresh hell the news brings.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Exemplary Bus Dad appeared again tonight. What a spirit-lifter. This time they talked about duplexes and possibly Jesus; she tried to eat his fingers; and when, a few times, she stood up on the seat, grabbed the rail and leaned back, he placed an unobtrusive hand or leg beneath her in case she fell, then snatched her knit hat and batted her face with it while she laughed. They say the Grinch's heart grew three sizes that day.

Oh, and he had a safety pin on his lapel. First safety pin wearer I've crossed paths with whose pin hasn't struck me as emptily and/or obnoxiously performative. ETA: But that probably says more about me and my projecting than it does about the pin wearers.

Thank you for your kind comments after our family's unexpected holiday loss. If you're interested, here are some of the pictures we put out when visitors came.

baby pix, ca. 1918; also 1950s )

Short work week, after all that. TGIF tomorrow. Gonna watch a movie at [livejournal.com profile] disgruntledowl's house and hope to work on a vid this weekend. Probably should prioritize the Elf one since Xmas is coming up before the Festivids deadline. Also need to work on an essay for a thing.

Not much notable to report, activism- or media-wise. Caught up on Westworld and The Daily Show, rented the first season of Grantchester and read a book for work. [personal profile] no_detective et al screened the Eyewitness pilot at fangirl Thanksgiving, which was entertaining in a group but I'm not sure I'll pursue it.

How are you doing?
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
[personal profile] deelaundry visited over the weekend! We drove to Connecticut to see Robert Sean Leonard in a stripped-down production of Camelot.

We had been braced for terrible and instead were entertained. RSL's English accent was perhaps the weakest part of the evening. Britney Coleman, who apparently once played Bellatrix Lestrange in "A Very Potter Musical," gave a strong Musical Theater performance as Guenevere. Having never seen nor heard Camelot beyond a song or two, Dee and I were both amused by the Gaston-like characterization of Lancelot and this production's choice to include a bare-chested bathing scene. Michael De Souza did a great job with line delivery and body language, perhaps further endeared to my heart by the fact that at times he looked like Anton Yelchin. As for how to describe Mordred (Patrick Andrews) when he appeared in Act Two in full campy glory... He wore sparkly black leggings and was basically Seth Green playing Ramsay Bolton.

Perhaps my favorite part was learning a little bit of the history of the Westport Country Playhouse, which has been putting on shows starring big names since the '40s. They had rows of -- what are they called, not ads, not playbills -- and pieces of the old theater on the first floor. The place just felt wondrously thick with decades of actors and patrons taking a summer breather outside (but not too far outside) New York City for some low-pressure theater. I stared a little too long at a photo of Keir Dullea and Blythe Danner in the play Butterflies are Free.

.

Later, Dee suggested we try this show Black Mirror that has been recommended around. We watched the first two episodes of the first season (the prime minister and the pig, and the TV/bikes/game show dystopia). Creative, well-realized, solidly written and acted, and super disturbing, wow. Took days to shake off some of the concepts and images. Rupert Everett's faux-"X Factor" judge in particular induced a surprising visceral fear/attraction response in me. If the camera had lingered on his face for another 15 seconds, I'm positive I would have had nightmares. But in an enjoyable way? I'm looking forward to watching more -- just not before bed.

.

Then I whisked down to DC for 48 hours for a work trip. Got to see a handful of dear friends and a former coworker, attended the conference that prompted the trip, and at said conference, eee, had half a drink with Jad Abumrad, co-host of Radiolab! I only flailed at him a little before we engaged in some career-, storytelling- and podcast-related chat. If I'd known he was going to be there I probably could have asked better questions, but it was still a real treat.

Tomorrow, back to work and regular life.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Halfway through season 7 of The Vampire Diaries on Netflix and mostly reacting with "WTF."

For example: )

The bad and the good. Warning: racism, abuse, suicide. )

I dunnnoooooo.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
1.

After an iffy start at the beginning of the nominations period, when it looked like there'd be hardly anything I could offer, I'm now excited about this year's Festivids. Have a handful of ideas it would be a lot of fun to make. Hope the sources end up being requested. Hope at least one of them becomes my assignment. Am preparing, optimistically.

(It wasn't until the last year or two that I learned how many nominations don't end up being requested, either because people nominate things before they've narrowed down what they want to ask for or because people nominate things they want to make and then hope they inspire someone to ask for them. At least now I know nothing is a certainty.)

Requests-wise, most of my Dear Festividder letter is ready to go. I'm going to try a "sales pitch" section for each request this year in case the summary or screen shots appeal to a participant who is not familiar with a source.

2.

Many friends have posted about how their Yuletide matches are for things they'd most wanted to write as treats, so, congratulations to you!

Nothing in the database of Yuletide letters has caught my treat-making fancy. That's a small disappointment, but it does leave more time for vidding and for working on half-done stories. Still determined to finish the Jinni/Dustfinger crossover PWP and the Inkheart foursome fic, small as those audiences will be. Did write a pleasing 1,500 words of DS9 Mary Sue a couple of weeks ago, inspired by the Damaya/Schaffa dynamic in The Fifth Season.

3.

[Warning: gross dog thing]

Last week while I was microwaving my lunch, the office puppy made hairball noises, barfed mostly undigested kibble onto the carpet, sniffed at the pile and ate it. It felt like a metaphor for how work has been going lately.

4.

On the brighter side, one morning on the way to the bus, the usually grumpy crossing guard exclaimed that someone had dropped a bag of chips and directed my attention to a cluster of pigeons pecking Bugles off the sidewalk.

5.

Been reading some stuff. We have been assigned five Vorkosigan novels for book club—so far, I have read one and a half Cordelia novels; the Young Miles compilation is next—and I'm glad to finally be experiencing and (despite Bujold's overuse of adverbs) enjoying them. The appeal so far lies in a combination of competence kink, aspirational relationship model and cross-cultural navigation, plus one particular scene that hewed deliciously close to a Mary Sue noncon scenario I adore. I also ended up really liking The Fifth Season and now have only a few days' wait until The Obelisk Gate arrives at the library.

6.

Been watching some stuff:

Last Action Hero, which, to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed. Cinephile boy gets magic ticket that lets him enter a movie and later lets him, the protagonist and the villain (redhead Charles Dance, no less) exit the movie into the real world. Much cheesy-delightful meta ensues, including debates about whether characters in a fictional narrative can be convinced they're in a fictional narrative, as well as a meeting at a film premiere between Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular action hero and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Arnold Schwarzenegger who plays the action hero.

Afterwards I rewatched the quite similar The Purple Rose of Cairo—substitute Jeff Daniels for Arnold Schwarzenegger and add more movie exec hair-tearing and misogyny—which aged well conceptually but developed a level of creepiness I did not recognize when (a) I was younger and (b) we did not know as much about Woody Allen.

I thought about requesting both movies for Festivids but really what I want is a combo/multi thing about media superfans going into and out of fictional universes (see also: Pleasantville, the holodeck, etc.) so in the end I decided I'll probably make that myself.

Luke Cage. Uneven in pacing and dramatic effectiveness, and a couple of the actors seemed to be in a different show (*cough Willis*), but I liked it overall. Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson & Theo Rossi FTW. Spectacular commentary on, and fantasies about being unharmed by, racism-driven police brutality. Mostly I wish I'd been able to watch it later and at a more leisurely pace, but I cared enough to fear being spoiled on Twitter. I also wish there were more shows like it, for obvious reasons as well as because it felt like the poor showrunners felt like they needed to cram all of contemporary Black American pop culture and Harlem history into one 13-episode show because there aren't enough opportunities elsewhere. Except, at the same time, of course it's not even close to being all of either of those things, and the seam-bursting amount of music and literature and sports references and cameos &c can as easily feel jubilant and long overdue as overstuffed. Plus, ask me how many times I Shazam'd a song or jotted down a book to check out. :)

Westworld on HBO. I had been really looking forward to this, and ended up disappointed after the first two episodes. The themes are right up my alley but the dark tone is so over the top and the "edgy" meta walks the same thin, irritating line between cleverness and exploitation as Sucker Punch and Ex Machina; nor am I sure it's making me think anything new. Too much to go into for this post, though.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Do not. Do not do this to yourselves. The only good thing to come out of our group heckling of this movie was our collective crossover pitch, "The Bat and the Furious," TM my friend M., in which Gisele was secretly Wonder Woman the whole time and the superheroes have to team up with Vin Diesel's crew for car reasons.

7.

Yom Kippur tonight and tomorrow. Have an easy fast, those who are fasting. ♥
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Figured I might as well do this while I was looking for Festivids request ideas.

Continued from here.

30 movies, 12-ish of them for vids. )

TV:
  • *Olympics
  • *Great British Baking Show "season 3" ♥


*Documentary/nonfiction
Seen in a theater

Happy to talk about any of these, as always.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Continued from here

Movies & TV seasons watched, Feb. 7-Apr. 26:

31 movies )

For the record, 13 of those were for vid research.

TV:
  • Girls S5
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt S2
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
"Oh. Maybe I'm more depressed than I thought": A periodic discovery by bironic.

Brief details. )

I'm taking two days off later this week. Going to see my 95ish-year-old grandparents. My dad relocated them last month from FL to NY for care management purposes and there hasn't been a chance to visit until now, with everything that needed to get done at the office. I am told there is a Family Night happening at their new nursing home; will probably be cute.

Planning on taking more days off here and there, not for travel but for relaxing and working on artistic projects. Want to finish Jinni/Dustfinger story instead of staring at it and adding three sentences per day. Want to work on book trailer. And want to make a good to-be-determined vid for [personal profile] jetpack_monkey, who won me in the Vividcon Auction. \o/

Finding out I will be vidding for Nate was a bright spot this weekend. As was, in a more fleeting way, a random dream about Garak/O'Brien (??). TV-wise, the two episodes of S2 of Grantchester that've aired so far on PBS have been so, so lovely. Difficult subject matter and characters who are struggling, but the show is made with such compassion and high quality that I find it relaxing to sink into. The Sidney/Geordie subtext doesn't hurt, either.

After not having read a proper book in a while, started rereading The Dispossessed today, since we'll be discussing it at the next book club. The last time I tried, years ago, I trailed off ~20 pages short of the end and had lost interest much sooner. Have higher hopes for this attempt.
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pickles

I had a hankering last weekend for pickled red onions and tried a recipe with white vinegar, water, sugar, salt and peppercorns, and they came out terrible. I should have predicted that my disgust for white vinegar above all vinegars would make it impossible to eat vegetables soaked in it. Next time, will try cider vinegar or maybe rice vinegar. Don't suppose any of you have favorite quick pickle/refrigerator pickle recipes?

texts

I'm writing that Porn Battle ficlet, yay. Crossover between The Golem and the Jinni and Inkheart: two men with fire inside them. It is basically for me, but I still hope it finds an audience. Never mind that it's 700 words of conversation and no sex yet.

Friend C. lent me Frankenstein Underground by the guy who did Hellboy and it was great! Really pretty. The color and lighting especially. Actually I liked the art more than the story, but the story had plenty of items of interest: Frankenstein's creature + tentacles + statues of Mesoamerican-style gods + below-ground steampunk Egypt-worshiping secret societies battling dinosaurs + stuff. Here, NY Mag has a PDF of the first part. Reminds me that there were too many sound effects for my taste as well.

Meanwhile, Take Your Fandom to Work Day is staging a comeback. I'm trying to figure out whether to attempt a story. Once upon a time I thought about doing an SGA AU, but (a) there was no plot and (b) I'm really not sure I'd be comfortable "revealing" my job in fandom, no matter how often I remind myself not to flatter myself that anyone would care enough to "out" me. The fun thing about doing SGA is that a handful of the characters could more or less keep their jobs.

tv

Who knew? The SyFy series The Expanse continues to be pretty great. Complex social/class politics, many major characters who are not white men (though not the two ostensible leads), interesting dialects. The dialogue isn't torture to listen to like Defiance's is/was. Lots of different kinds of ships. I like that they're doing creative things with depicting gravity, even minor-seeming moments that show how characters live everyday in low- and zero-g environments. The world feels lived in. I'm sure the fact that the show was adapted from a book series explains a lot. Three episodes to go.

peeps

Not the Easter kind, although: Have a good Easter, those of you who observe. I went to Boston fannish brunch today for the first time in a while and sat with some people I haven't had much chance to converse with, and it was lovely, even when we didn't all share particular fandoms. As they'd say on Twitter: Hay, new fronds!
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Oh hey there. Long time little update.

DOING

I've been working a lot. I'm just... really tired. I worked straight through last weekend and while it was necessary it was also not a great idea, so this weekend I did not work at all, and even though my work is not done, that turned out much better. Saw A St. Patrick's Day Celtic Sojourn with some coworkers and went to MST3K night at [personal profile] thedeadparrot's: the poorly executed sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -- do not subject yourselves to it! Hung out with friend C. and watched TV and worked on a vid; see #2 below.

Ann Leckie came to town for a sci fi con, and [personal profile] thedeadparrot, [personal profile] stultiloquentia, [personal profile] jjhunter and I went to her reading/signing on Thursday. She read from Ch. 4 of Ancillary Mercy and answered questions -- a LOT of questions; the bookstore staff really should have put a stop to it after an hour, but it went for almost two. Then I got my trilogy signed, told her what I loved best about it, and shed enough inhibitions to say thanks for retweeting "Starships!" a while back. She said she bought the song after seeing the vid because she hadn't heard it before and afterwards it reminded her of the spaceships. :D

It snowed a few inches this morning and then warmed up so now it looks and sounds as if we are in a nature documentary about springtime in the mountains, snowmelt streaming from awnings and flowing alongside the curbs.

VIDDING

1. I am trying something new this year and have volunteered for the Vividcon Auction, where people bid for vidders to support the con and then a collaborative vid is born. I am a little scared and a little excited. Here is the list of participants and what they are & aren't willing to do. Bidding starts Saturday if that is a thing you are into.

2. I've also been working low and slow since Oct/Nov on a book trailer for Ancillary Justice. Upshot: Clip hunting takes a lot of time. I'm super excited about it, though, especially in the last couple of days, when I started taking what I've got and putting stuff down on a Premiere timeline. Will probably unlock a post about it in the coming weeks -- it was filtered to just a few people in case I got matched on it during Festivids -- to see if some of you have ideas for sources that might have visuals to fill the remaining gaps.

WATCHING

Lots of crappy movies & TV shows in service of the trailer project, heh, although the show The Expanse is pretty solid. Did they cast actors with Marfan syndrome to play Belters or what?

Season 5 of Girls is exactly what you'd expect, and I did manage to see Deadpool last month: an enjoyably irreverent meta romp.

Oh, and rewatched the second episode of Penny Dreadful with C., who's experiencing the show for the first time. My heart, oh my goodness, my heart still beats for Victor Frankenstein and Mr. Proteus. ♥ ♥

READING

All fiction pales in comparison to The Golem and the Jinni, so I switched to nonfiction for a while. I have conflicted thoughts about A.O. Scott's Better Living Through Criticism; his movie reviews are great and he said all the right things at his book tour reading/Q&A, but the book itself is surprisingly off-putting, considering I'm embedded in a community that lives and breathes pop culture analysis and should be among his core audiences. Don't feel up to writing a dissertation about it at the moment, though.

Now working my way through Best American Magazine Writing 2015. The first few articles were just as infuriating the second time around as when they were published: some for examining societal injustices whose solutions never seem to gain traction (racism through the lens of real estate, misogyny on the internet), and one for whining about the poor young men who're soooo victimized in the hunt to punish those who commit sexual assault on college campuses. Written by a woman (Emily Yoffe, no surprise). Ugh.

WRITING

I wrote a Golem and the Jinni ficlet -- you may have seen -- and would like to do a thing for the Porn Battle that starts today tomorrow. Specifically, I have an Ahmad/Dustfinger idea. A jinni and a fire-dancer walk into a bar... Because the answer to not getting many readers on a ficlet for a book is to cross it over with an even rarer book.

How're you all?
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Have the morning off work on account of I'll be there until 11 p.m. tonight. So.

Writing

I'm worried about finishing both Yuletide stories in time. Have 2,700 words of treat #1 with a few scenes still to go. It was supposed to be sort of quick but I got bogged down in the beginning trying to make sure the emotional progression was set up properly. Treat #2 has about 1,000 words (that I wrote over the summer and haven't touched since) and will need many more than that. Just don't know if the amount of time carved out of evenings and weekends between now and Dec. 20/25 will be enough, especially taking into account my variable ability to focus these days. We get a week off work between Xmas and New Year's, which is great for working on Festivids but too late for Yuletide. :/

Watching

Saw the pilot of Jessica Jones and really enjoyed it. A+ will continue at some point.

Also saw the National Theatre Live recording of Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciaran Hinds. Many of the other cast members were flat or otherwise unremarkable, but they did a great job of conveying the meaning of the language and overall the production was not as bad as reviews had suggested. Gorgeous staging. Beautiful directorial choice for Ophelia's final exit; a clever and effective way to lend more weight to the moment given the limits of the script. Enjoyed the way audience members laughed at the dirty jokes and the gravedigger's literalism; some things never stop being funny.
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)
Fretting: I got some disheartening but not unexpected test results today re: health. Dealing with it properly will involve behavior changes and possibly-temporary pills. I am trying to approach it with a "you can do it" attitude, but it's hard. Dietary advice, for example, is all over the map. I guess we'll see what the nutritionist says at my next appointment.

I also have to figure out what to do about my knee, which has gotten unsteady, probably because I overtaxed it with high-impact activities; and now the issue has traveled up to tighten my hip, which has given me problems before. Perhaps I can find a physical therapist/massage therapist to dig in her elbow. Just, grr. I keep thinking I'm too young to be dealing with these kinds of issues left and right, but here we are, so I guess not. Maybe I'll focus on how the hip helps me empathize with Breq.

Also have been ruminating on how I'm not performing as well in my professional field as I am in fandom, and whether that's a problem, and why ego has to get mixed up in everything. That's a topic for another post.

Going: To DC this weekend for a friend's wedding, and I think it will be just wonderful. Seeing a slew of fan friends and celebrating happiness.

Watching: Whatever season of the Great British Bake-Off/Baking Show they've put up on Netflix. As people have said, it's charming and much more supportive than your typical reality competition. More attention to the craft as well. It's something nice and light to look forward to each evening. And a welcome break from Gilmore Girls. GG is enjoyable but after four seasons in a month it's time to mix things up more.

Vidding: Have four or five back-up ideas for Festivids sources. Do I start to make one before getting an assignment? It seems like something fun to do, but it doesn't seem right to work on an assignment or a treat without first knowing what the recipient is hoping for.

Reading: Finished Step Aside, Pops!, which was fine. I liked "I had fun once and it was awful". Am about 4/5 of the way through Master and Commander; it's funnier but also choppier than expected. Dunno what's next. I sort of petered out on Prydain.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
(It is raining.)

Doing: Just returned from a five-day trip to my grandparents' in Florida, with my dad. Some ups, some downs, as happens when one's family is dealing with age-related health issues and dwindling ability to remain independent. Or codependent, as the case may be. In any event, it was good to see them, they appreciated the visit, and my dad and I did make it to the beach one beautiful morning. Two hours of swimming and of resting in the shade of an umbrella: divine.

Watching: A collection of Turner Classic Movies with the grandparents: Bringing Up Baby, With Six You Get Eggroll, Anna and the King of Siam (with Rex Harrison, not Yul Brynner), and 15 minutes of The Man Who Would Be King before I quit in distaste. Oh, and we caught the last 20 minutes or so of Transcendence, because apparently Paul Bettany movies now follow me wherever I go.

On my own, beginning of season three of Gilmore Girls, with the occasional ep thrown in of season three of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Haven't yet started the new series of Doctor Who.

Have also been getting together once every couple of weeks with [personal profile] thedeadparrot to alternately heckle and admire Project Runway, which is great fun.

Reading: Re-read of Ancillary Justice complete; Ancillary Sword half complete. Still wonderful. The series works for me on every level: concept behind the main character, basic plot, worldbuilding, personally and societally relevant themes (schisms in identity, class conflict, racism, suppression/absorption of minorities, social justice, police brutality, white male privilege, love and grief and revenge), favorite sci fi tropes (artificial intelligences, alien contact, awakening after centuries in cryo freeze), subtle and indirect emotions that sneak up on you, use of "she" as gender-neutral pronoun so that the universe feels filled with women. Not least, I relate to and envy the main character in numerous ways. Today's delight: remembering how Translator Dlique sounded a touch like Luna Lovegood as well as Delirium of the Endless. Can't wait for Ancillary Mercy next week.

Ummmm also I mentioned this on Twitter but I discovered last week that Ann Leckie recced Starships! in August and I retweeted her and then she replied to me and I may have died a little.

Before that, read Saga vol 5--excellent--then finished The Book of Three and barely started The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander, in the Chronicles of Prydain series, for book club. Eh. So far it is template fantasy; I found myself playing Spot the Comparison to things like Lord of the Rings, The Once & Future King, Earthsea and the Fionavar Tapestry. Young Eilonwy is a hoot and the prince whose name I've forgotten is written to be nice and sexy in a kids' book sort of way--in fact, young male protagonist Taran reads as though he's in love with him without really realizing it--but the books have not grabbed me so far. Gwydion. Will try a little more and see how it goes. Favorite line so far: "She is the only oracular pig in Prydain."

Vidding: Submitted my most favorite source ideas to [community profile] festivids (who will make me a book trailer for Ancillary Justice???) and am trying to think of whether there are any more. Glanced really quickly through the list of nominations and spotted something that soon after generated an idea, woo.

Also we will see if a vid gets generated for Halloween, my most successful vidding holiday to date. Have a bunch of source already ripped for one potential project. Unfortunately, have a bunch of RL stuff in October, too.

Writing: Not a lot outside of work. Adding some words here and there to that Marius/Mary Sue story. Speaking of posts that met with crickets.

Meeting: Got to hang for a couple of hours with [personal profile] such_heights and [personal profile] happydork last weekend when they stopped by Boston Fannish Brunch on their way across the country for their honeymoon; that was a treat.

Eating: Culinary highlights of September included a lobster roll from James Hook & Co., which lived up to its reputation of understanding that mayo and bun should take a backseat to the lobster meat, and a scoop of Noodle Kugel ice cream from JP Licks, which was cinnamon-spiked vanilla ice cream studded with cooked-then-frozen egg noodles. Because how can you pass up a specialty Rosh Hashanah ice cream flavor?

ETA: Wait, I forgot the other two excellent foods. First, following some nutrition advice, I tried broiled mackerel from the local Japanese restaurant and it was fantastic. Savory and salty and firm with a crisp skin. Will attempt to make something like it at home one of these days and see if the resulting oily-fish smell is worth the meals it produces. Second, I discovered the cayenne-mango flavored almonds from Q's Nuts in Somerville and cannot get over the perfect blend of spicy and sweet. Nom nom afternoon snacks.

Dreaming: of autumn. It's still 80+ degrees out, and nearly October. Come on.

Also I had a dream the first night in Florida that Chief O'Brien showed up to try to save me at the end of a godawful tennis match and I was disappointed (but also relieved) that Bashir wasn't there. And then that I had to explain to Tony Stark how I was feeling after a traumatic event, so I phrased it in relation to his life: "imagine if the Iron Man suits were all destroyed, and Pepper was hurt, and Rhodey'd been killed..."

Whew. Okay, let's return after this to normal-sized, focused posts.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
Book:

We are reading China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh for book club. (wiki) It's got excellent worldbuilding and a braid of engrossing character- and culture clash-driven stories, but the constant comma splices are driving me up the wall. There's at least one per page. Here is a sample passage:
I head north up Daqing Lu, the street is lined with stores. I stop and look in windows, the prices are ghastly. I have some of my Baffin Island salary on credit plus a stipend from the University. Because I study technology, my only cost was getting here, the rest is scholarship. Getting here was expensive enough.
Really not my style. It has to be deliberate style; there are too many of them to be editing errors. Although my copy does have a handful of typos as well, like "peal" for "peel" (twice), or, ironically enough, missing commas, as in "Hainandao. The name means South Sea Island. The first character, 'hai' means 'sea.'" It's enough to make it read like a self-published novel, grammatically, except for how it won the Tiptree award and was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula and was published by Tor/edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Strange.

TV:

Started watching Agent Carter after seeing the adorable dubsmash war clips from Hayley Atwell and James D'Arcy on Twitter/Tumblr. Have now seen the first three eps with a fellow fan's help. Quite enjoyable. High production values, unsurprisingly, and, as people like [personal profile] no_detective promised, solid, women-driven storytelling. I'm only surprised not to be enjoying buttoned-up Jarvis more as Peggy's boy Friday. Maybe I like my D'Arcy ruffled and smiling in a t-shirt. However, I did relish the scene where he put on glasses and stitched up Peggy's leg. Peggy is fabulous. She should hang out with Phryne Fisher.

Movie:

In less exciting news, we have achieved a new low in the dwindling Paul Bettany project: Mood Swingers, apparently a.k.a. Dead Babies. Bleh. Body horror and unsexy nudity and hallucinations and recreational drugs and occasional manic editing and general grossness and I just, not my thing. A little like David Cronenberg without deeper meaning and with low production quality. No, I can't even make that comparison; I probably only watched about 10 minutes total, fast-forwarding through the rest, whereas Cronenberg's stuff is good, if hard to watch. It wasn't just the teeth falling out and the barf and the needles and the entrails and the peeing and the tedious dialogue and the boobs, it's that it wasn't good. Compare to, say, DC's Crash, or Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream. Rather: no comparison.

Two decent visuals: Young, lean Paul Bettany wearing lipstick in one scene and playing badminton in another. The latter was edited in such a way that he probably only had to actually hit the shuttle twice, but his follow-through was elegant.

*shakes head at self*
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I went to see family for the 4th and it was all right. Then I came back and developed the world's worst sore/swollen throat, the miserable details of which nobody wants to hear about. (At least I have a diagnosis and medicine as of this afternoon. Already feeling better, thank %!&#.)

I took two partial days and two sick days at work this week. Of course I couldn't enjoy the time off because I was either asleep or feeling horrible. But I did watch a lot of TV/movies and caught up on months' worth of Pop Culture Happy Hours.

TV: Scattershot favorites from BtVS seasons three and four: All the Ethan Rayne episodes, The Wish, Helpless, The I in Team/Goodbye Iowa, Primeval, Restless. Aside from the special effects and clothes, most of them hold up very well. The betrayal of father figures in Helpless, the eerie tone and general strange-wonderfulness of Restless.

Movies: The Young Victoria, Dogville (summary reactions to come in a separate post), Legally Blonde 1 & 2, Saved! (rewatch), Inception (rewatch). Following up Dogville with Legally Blonde made me laugh. A laugh that was much needed after Dogville.

Podcasts: Particularly recommended episodes were this analysis of Ex Machina (compared to Frankenstein, Her and Orphan Black) from The New Yorker, Small Talk and Penguins from How to do Everything, and a bunch of PCHHs: The Romance Novel special (in which the hosts had fun and I learned a lot), Inside Out, Jurassic World...

If lucky, will be able to join fanpeeps tomorrow for Magic Mike XXL. And eat solid foods. And maybe write. TBD if sister wants to risk visiting on Sunday.

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