Nintendo Switch off to 'strong start'

Apr. 27th, 2017 12:33 pm
[syndicated profile] bbc_tech_news_feed
The Switch has become the fastest-selling games console in the Japanese company's history.
[syndicated profile] bbc_tech_news_feed
The classic BlackBerry smartphone, including physical keyboard, is given a 2017 makeover.
[syndicated profile] bbc_tech_news_feed
Up to £112,000 is being offered for information about drones that disrupted flights at a Chinese airport.

Need To Sit Down For This Math

Apr. 27th, 2017 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] notalwaysright_feed

Posted by Not Always Right

Movie Theater | Highlands Ranch, CO, USA

(I work at a large movie theater company and on this particular occasion, I am working Guest Services. This conversation takes place over the phone.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Movie Theater]. This is [My Name]. How may I help you?”

Guest: “Hi, um, I was wondering about the 7:40 showing of Mockingjay. Is it sold out or are there seats available?”

Me: “Well, that showing is in a larger movie house. So, we still have 516 seats left out of 520 seats.”

Guest: “Oh, um, okay. Are there enough seats for five of us to sit together?”

Me: “Uh… Yes, there are enough seats for five of you.”

The post Need To Sit Down For This Math appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.

New Murderbot Review

Apr. 27th, 2017 07:41 am
marthawells: (Miko)
[personal profile] marthawells
This is from Romantic Times (which reviews all genres) and yay, it's an awesome review!

4.5 stars (out of 5) Top Pick
ALL SYSTEMS RED
Author(s): Martha Wells [1]
Having our hero be an apathetic, pessimistic killer android who can’t stand being looked at without its helmet on and who just wants to spend its time in the comforting grip of TV might seem to some readers like an outlandish premise, but in Wells’ hands, Murderbot is wonderfully relatable, very funny and a great narrator, editorial asides and all. The story is well put together and sketches out an intriguing future, but the real draw is our host, and the result is a story that builds to an unexpectedly moving climax. More Murderbot, please.

Murderbot may have hacked its own systems to become a free agent, but mostly it’s content to work the low-level guard jobs that require its type of SecUnit while only paying minimal attention and trying to stay caught up on its serials. Unfortunately, someone is trying to kill the scientists who are its current employers, and even more unfortunately, those scientists are coming perilously close to understanding that Murderbot is different. And if that happens, they might just start treating it like a person. (TOR.COM, May, 144 pp., $14.99)

***

If you want a signed paperback copy, you can order one from Murder by the Book before May 5, 2017 here: http://www.murderbooks.com/event/martha-wells-preorder

The DRM-Free ebooks are available world-wide on B&N, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, etc: http://www.marthawells.com/murderbot1.htm

(no subject)

Apr. 27th, 2017 08:35 am
the_rck: (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
My physical therapist says that I may need more sessions and that he thinks I'm likely to do well because I have a good attitude. He wants to get me to 50% less pain from the tendinitis because he sees that as a point at which what we're doing would clearly be working. He gave me a set of more general fitness exercises, and I'll have to figure out the best times for those. Before breakfast would be ideal from one point of view, but I don't see a way to do that unless I get up with Scott. The exercises themselves wouldn't take that long, but right now, I get up about an hour and fifteen minutes after Scott does. I can sleep in that window, but I can't if I decrease it at all.

My gynecologist is going to talk to oncology about my test results. Neither she nor I think that there's anything to worry about at present, but the endometrial thickening is something to monitor because it can hide things. It's just that it's not an uncommon thing for women my age on Tamoxifen. She said that I shouldn't consider this a factor in my decision about whether or not to go back on Tamoxifen.

On the assumption that I won't be restarting the Tamoxifen, I scheduled a uterine ultrasound for early August (not, thank goodness, a hysterosonogram this time). I need to set up a return visit with the gynecologist for after that.

I had lunch at Totoro after the appointment at UHS and then took the bus up to the hospital. I discovered that, if I walked really slowly, the tendon didn't start getting cranky nearly as fast. I had hoped to do some Ingress, and I did, but not as much as I'd expected. The Ingress servers seemed to be having problems so that, half the time, I couldn't see anything at all in terms of portals. When I could see portals, it took minutes, sometimes as long as five minutes, for a hack to process. I ended up taking about half an hour to walk the four blocks from Totoro to the bus stop.

My phone ended up with a reasonable charge at the end of the day, and I'm pretty sure that the slowness of Ingress was a factor. I had a charger with me. Of the two I found, one worked, and the other didn't. The one that didn't has Scott's company name on it and was, if I recall correctly, some sort of swag for days without accidents or something of the sort. Scott's of the opinion that it was very, very cheap and that the surprise is that it ever worked at all.

Scott put more memory in my laptop last night. That means that I'm going to spend some time this afternoon seeing whether or not it gets cranky when I try to run certain programs. Messages is still rejecting my AIM login, though, which is probably not surprising but is annoying. I suspect that this also won't help my problems with trying to access IRC with Adium (I don't like having to run Adium for AIM and Colloquy for IRC at the same time).

I ate a turkey (lunchmeat) sandwich for dinner last night around 7:00 and started having reflux issues around ten. Given the way my body was acting, I'd have thought I'd eaten bacon, a lot of bacon. I put off doing anything but eventually took an Ativan. That helped; the problem went away entirely, so I only lost about an hour of sleep instead of the three I'd have lost if I'd taken Tums and sat up waiting for things to resolve. I'm still inclined to make myself more black tea to see if that makes me more alert.

I've got two hours now before my cab comes for OT. Since it's Thursday, mostly what I'll be doing during that time is household chores. I want to run the dishwasher and make sandwiches for Scott and Cordelia and move all of the things that shouldn't be out when the cleaning lady comes. I should be home at least an hour before she comes, but I might as well do that now as later. Most of it takes very little time.

I'm very glad that the Not Prime Time moderators decided to make the requests public. I've seen a few things in fandoms that I wasn't planning to offer that I'm quite sure I could write. I can tailor my offers pretty carefully. If I understand the sign up form correctly, one need only offer one character grouping. I hadn't looked at those fandoms at all because I felt that the requests were likely to be entirely things I couldn't write due to the size of the canons in question. These groupings fit into corners that I know reasonably well and/or could review quickly. I need to settle on two more fandoms to offer and to figure out what I want to request. Once I know what I want to request, I can write my dear author letter and then sign up.

Trope Meme

Apr. 27th, 2017 07:20 am
calliopes_pen: (sallymn dark and stormy story)
[personal profile] calliopes_pen
Comment with a fanfic trope and, if you'd like, a character/pairing, and I will tell you:
• how likely I am to write it
• Maybe a few lines of theoretical fic


More from Cornwall

Apr. 27th, 2017 01:04 pm
cmcmck: (Default)
[personal profile] cmcmck
 The cottage next door still has a mounting block in the garden wall- the idea was to make getting on your horse a little easier!

If you had a horse that is- the two cottages as they now are were once the dower house of the Manor of Rillaton (long gone) so no doubt the dowager would have done so.



More piccies! )
[syndicated profile] openculture_feed

Posted by Josh Jones

Few English writers of the early twentieth century had the rhetorical zest and zeal of novelist, journalist, and Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton, and few could have so ably taken on the formidable intellect of H.G. Wells. Chesterton wrote one of his most influential books, The Everlasting Man, partly as a refutation of Wells’ popularization of Darwinian evolution in The Outline of History. Wells had contemporary science on his side. Chesterton, the wittier and more philosophical of the two, had on his side a healthy skepticism of pat explanations, though he would endorse his own religiously orthodox theory of everything.

We need not draw Chesterton’s conclusions to find his arguments compelling. Take, for example, the first chapter of The Everlasting Man, in which he argues that prehistoric humans were totally, inexplicably distinct from animals. Consider, he writes, the experience of an early discoverer of cave paintings: “What would be for him the simplest lesson of that strange stone picture-book? … that he had dug very deep and found the place where a man had drawn the picture of a reindeer. But he would dig a good deal deeper before he found a place where a reindeer had drawn a picture of a man.” The explorer “might descend to depths unthinkable” and never find, nor expect to find, such a thing. “Art,” Chesterton wrote, “is the signature of man.”

Almost a hundred years later, scientists of all kinds agree with Chesterton’s aphorism: painting and sculpture distinctly made humans human. So too did something equally abstract and nowhere else in evidence in all the animal world: Language. In a new essay, another witty and perceptive novelist—though one with a much darker view—takes on evolutionary explanations of language and advances an unorthodox view, full of provocations and curious observations. Cormac McCarthy—who for much of the past two decades has written from an office at the scientific research center the Santa Fe Institute—begins his essay, “The Kekulé Problem,” with some very Chestertonian ripostes:

There are influential persons among us… who claim to believe that language is a totally evolutionary process. That it has somehow appeared in the brain in a primitive form and then grown to usefulness…. It may be that the influential persons imagine all mammals waiting for language to appear. I dont know. But all indications are that language has appeared only once and in one species only. Among whom it then spread with considerable speed.

No barrier of “mountains and oceans” slowed the spread of language, nowhere in any human community did it wither away for lack of use. But “did it meet some need?” McCarthy asks. “No. The other five thousand plus mammals among us do fine without it.” Against the linguistic consensus of “influential persons,” McCarthy claims “there is no selection at work in the evolution of language because language is not a biological system and because there is only one of them. The ur-language of linguistic origin out of which all languages have evolved.”

For some background on the idea of a primitive “ur-language,” see our previous post on the centuries-long quest for such a thing—as yet an elusive and wholly speculative entity that may be no more than a myth, like the story of the Tower of Babel. Does McCarthy mean to call this tale to mind? Does he, like Chesterton, pursue a line of argument that leads us back to some old-time religion? No. But “while his thoughts on the unconscious are framed as scientific reflections,” writes Nick Romeo at The New Yorker, “they also creep toward theology,” or at least a personification of impersonal forces, though McCarthy is no believer in supernatural agents.

Here, instead of a god implanting souls in humans, evolution has given us an unconscious mind, which Romeo characterizes in McCarthy’s essay as an “ancient, moral agent interested in our wellbeing and given to revealing its intentions through images.” Yet, while the soul may be the source of art in Chestertonian logic, McCarthy’s unconscious is most certainly not the source of language. “The unconscious is a biological operative and language is not… the unconscious is a machine for operating an animal,” not a speaking being. No, in fact, McCarthy argues, the unconscious is more-or-less at war with language, or at least in a very deep sulk about its existence.

The unconscious toys with us; it knows things we don’t, but gets very cryptic about it. (The title of the essay refers to German chemist August Kekulé’s discovery of the structure the benzene molecule in a dream about a snake eating its tail.) Language is an intruder, like a virus, except “the virus has arrived by way of Darwinian selection and language has not.”

….the fact that the unconscious prefers avoiding verbal instructions pretty much altogether—even where they would appear to be quite useful—suggests rather strongly that it doesnt much like language and even that it doesnt trust it. And why is that? How about for the good and sufficient reason that it has been getting along quite well without it for a couple of million years?

The hand of the artist moves behind McCarthy’s scientific arguments. His essay is in large part a kind of prehistory of intuition as well as language. “It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the unconscious is laboring under a moral compulsion to educate us,” he writes, and it has been doing so for much longer than humans have been marking up cave walls. Language came much later—“a hundred thousand [years] would be a pretty good guess. It dates the earliest known graphics—found in the Blombos Cave in South Africa.” There, in a eureka moment, “some unknown thinker sat up one night in his cave and said: Wow. One thing can be another thing….”

When I think of the image of a “chap waking up in a cave” in McCarthy’s fiction, I think of the disturbing serial killer Lester Ballard in Child of God, and suspect that in the novelist’s imagination the sudden appearance of language may have been a very bloody event. But while McCarthy’s novels are filled with subtle allusions to his scientific interests, the existential bleakness of his fiction doesn’t make its way into his first published work of non-fiction. The essay is, however, Romeo writes, full of the writers “folksy locutions and no-nonsense sentence fragments,” not to mention his nonstandard punctuation and lack of apostrophes. Like Chesterton, McCarthy concludes that the origin of symbolic systems of reference is a mystery. But he offers no divine solution for it.

For all his scientific perspicacity, McCarthy thinks like a writer, which gives him unique insight into some novel complications, though he may overgeneralize from the particular case of Kekulé. (“The vast majority of dreams and reveries don’t solve major problems in the history of science,” cautions Steven Pinker.) McCarthy concludes that the biological system of the unconscious may be all we need to guide us through the world. But it takes language to create culture, and make humans of us: “Once you have language everything else follows pretty quickly. The simple understanding that one thing can be another thing is at the root of all things of our doing. From using colored pebbles for the trading of goats to art and language and on to using symbolic marks to represent pieces of the world too small to see.”

Read McCarthy’s full essay—with a short, laudatory introduction by the Santa Fe Institute’s president David Krakauer—at Nautilus.

Related Content:

How Cormac McCarthy Became a Copy-Editor for Scientific Books and One of the Most Influential Articles in Economics

Werner Herzog and Cormac McCarthy Talk Science and Culture

Was There a First Human Language?: Theories from the Enlightenment Through Noam Chomsky

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Read Cormac McCarthy’s First Work of Non-Fiction, “The Kekulé Problem,” a Provocative Essay on the Origins of Language is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

raisethesail: (Hannu)
[personal profile] raisethesail posting in [community profile] style_system
Hi! Wondering if I could get a bit of help here.

I'm currently using the Venture layout and I need to position an image somewhere. :)

Ideally I'd like the image to appear at the bottom of my "profile" module, so is there any custom CSS I can use to include it in that module?

If that's not possible, is there a way to remove the header from the custom text module so it will display without a title, so I can stick the image in there?

Thank you in advance ♥

Canalway Cavalcade

Apr. 27th, 2017 12:32 pm
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
 If anyone is in London and at a loose end this weekend just a reminder that the Canalway Cavalcade thing is on again at Little Venice (near Paddington Station and Warwick Avenue tube), good fun if you like canal boats.

30 Day Music Challenge - Day 27

Apr. 27th, 2017 06:42 am
jo: (Default)
[personal profile] jo
Day 27: A song that breaks your heart

Diana Ross and the Supremes "Reflections". This was used as the theme song for the brilliant (and oft forgotten) TV series China Beach, which followed a group of nurses serving during the Vietnam War. I think the song just reminds me of some of the series' saddest moments. And here is the video of the opening sequence from season 1.






Talking of poetry

Apr. 27th, 2017 11:24 am
cmcmck: (Default)
[personal profile] cmcmck
 _ysabetwordsmith_ reminds me that it's 'poem in your pocket' day so here's one I wrote about my time living in the wonderful city of Brugge in Belgium back in my late teens:







Brugge 3 Freak Storm



Sun streamed window upon leaving
For another long day of toil.
Cobbling across the Grossmarkt
By the Belfort belling nine.
Goedemorgen to friends.

Then of a sudden it came-
Sky blue black raced in
Lightning frets silver filigree
Fat, heavy splash of raindrops
Warm and wet as blood.

The sky dark satanic plum.
Short sharp thundershatter
Then the bright blue back
Blue as a sparrow's egg
And the smell of drying

Spring storm soon stilled
Scene of sundrying 
Scent of earth and tree
Refreshed and cleansed,
Shine and slick of cobbles.

The gutters gurgle gladly
Downpipe music mingles
With the treedrip opera.
Damp earth's rich smell-
Gastronomically intense.

(c) Marianna 2013










Tomb of Horrors

Apr. 27th, 2017 10:38 am
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
A long time ago, there was a DnD module tomb of horrors, and every so often since there's been some controversy about it.

AIUI, it was the equivalent of playing a computer game on iron-man difficulty, with no saves, only one life, etc. It was designed for experienced players who wanted a really deadly challenge, often at conventions where there might be an audience.

The general features are (a) there's a lot of challenges that involve player decisions, not specific skills, whether the characters are appropriately really really careful about everything they do. (b) when something goes wrong, it's usually very deadly.

That meant, if you expected "fair" to mean "forgiving", it's really really not -- if you're the slightest bit incautious, you'll likely all die immediately. But if you expected "fair" to mean, "your death stem directly from your decisions" then it is more so than most adventures[1].

But if you don't know that, there is a lot of ire between people who loved it, people who think this is "the one true way" of how a session should be, and people who tried it and became incredibly resentful. It's good that the far end of a bell curve exists when that's something some people want to find, even if *most* modules should be somewhere left of it.

I did once play with a GM who played a few sessions of it inbetween campaigns. I liked the idea, although I usually like roleplaying with more story.

[1] There are some flaws where it might not be completely fair, or ambiguous descriptions, etc, but less than most modules at the time iirc.

QotD

Apr. 27th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"There is one area in which I think Paglia and I would agree that politically correct feminism has produced a noticeable inequity. Nowadays, when a woman behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, 'Poor dear, it's probably PMS.' Whereas, if a man behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, 'What an asshole.' Let me leap to correct this unfairness by saying of Paglia, Sheesh, what an asshole." -- Molly Ivins (via Jone Johnson Lewis' collection of quotations on about.com)

miss_s_b: (Who: Maxil (pillock))
[personal profile] miss_s_b posting in [community profile] gallifrey_times
Welcome to the Thursday the 27th of April edition of Gallifrey Times!

- Discussion, Reactions, Reviews and News -
- Podcasts and Audiovisual Discussion -
  • Verity! (audio podcast) Episode 134 reviews, and definitely doesn't argue about, Smile.
  • Doctor Who: The Impossible Girls (audio podcast) Episode 59 discusses Smile.
  • Gallifrey Stands (audio podcast) Episode 159 has interviews with Darren Shan, Martyn Croft, & Jimmy Vee.
  • Tin Dog Podcast (audio podcast) Episode 665 discusses Smile.
  • The Coal Hill AV Club (autoplaying audio podcast) discusses Smile.
  • The Cultdom Collective (autoplaying audio podcast) also discusses Smile.
  • Whocast.de (autoplaying audio podcast) Episode 341 discusses Smile in German.
  • Earth Station Who (audio podcast) Episode 154 also discusses Smile.
  • Discussing Who (audio podcast) Episode 43 reviews Smile.
  • Transmissions From Atlantis (audio podcast) Episode 123 reviews Smile, previews the WHOlanta con and interviews R. Alan Siler (Co-Director of WHOlanta con), and discusses various casting rumours, among other (non-Who) things.
  • Talking Timelords (audio podcast) Episode 67 discusses Smile.
  • (audio podcast)Doctor Whooch Episode 110 discusses Smile.
  • The Official BBC Doctor Who YouTube Channel has a video of Ralf Little being happy about his character in Smile.

- Challenges, Prompts and Announcements relating to Fanworks
- Fanworks -

GIFsets, Caps, and Photosets:


GT aims to cover Doctor Who Universe news and fan activity on Dreamwidth and beyond. If you'd like to be added to our watch list, please leave a comment here. Questions? If you can't find the answer on our profile, you can contact the editors by commenting on any edition of the newsletter.

Daily Happiness

Apr. 27th, 2017 01:38 am
torachan: (Default)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Day off tomorrow! We're doing stuff (probably) but not until the afternoon, so I can still sleep in and relax in the morning.

2. I played a little Zelda tonight and found three shrines, two stables, and Hebra tower. That leaves only the two Gerudo areas that I don't have the towers for yet. I'm actually kind of sad to have so much of the map filled in. I remember when I first got off the great plateau and realized how huge the world is, it was so exciting, and now it's like, aww, I only have a little bit left to explore. ;_;

3. Somehow I don't have any new pics of kitties, but luckily I have plenty of backstock to choose from. Here's an explorer Jasper from a week or so ago.

[syndicated profile] openculture_feed

Posted by Colin Marshall

“My friend, the director Jonathan Demme, passed last night,” wrote Talking Heads’ David Byrne on his blog yesterday. “I met Jonathan in the ‘80s when Talking Heads were touring a show that he would eventually film and turn into Stop Making Sense,” the famous — and in the minds of many, still the very best — concert movie. “I loved his films Melvin and Howard and Citizens Band (AKA Handle With Care). From those movies alone, one could sense his love of ordinary people. That love surfaces and is manifest over and over throughout his career.” Read just a few of the many other tributes to Demme made so far, and you’ll encounter the same words over and over again: love, empathy, compassion.

Few filmmakers manage to get those qualities onscreen as consistently as Demme did, and even fewer do it at his level of technical mastery. The two video essays here examine his cinematic technique, especially as seen in one of his best-known films: 1991’s Silence of the Lambs, the second in the ongoing series featuring refined career cannibal Hannibal Lecter. The brief episode of Tony Zhou’s Every Frame a Painting at the top of the post breaks down how Demme handles the question of who “wins” the interaction in the first conversation between Anthony Hopkins’ Lecter and Jodie Foster’s young FBI trainee Clarice Starling — two characters who enter into this and all their subsequent interactions with their own shifting motivations, goals, and sensitivities.

In this and other scenes throughout his career, Demme made strong and influential use of close-up shots, to the point where Jacob T. Swinney could dedicate a supercut to “The Jonathan Demme Close-Up.” While “most filmmakers choose to employ the close-up shot during scenes of crucial dialogue,” Swinney writes, “Demme prefers to line up his characters in the center of the frame and have them look directly into the lens of the camera.” And so “when Dr. Hannibal Lecter hisses at Agent Clarice Starling, we feel equally victimized,” or in Philadelphia “as Andrew Beckett succumbs to AIDS, we feel an overwhelming sensation of sympathy. These characters seem to be looking at us, and we therefore connect on a deeper level.”

While Demme used his signature close-ups and other emotionally charged shots in all his features, from his early days working for legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman on, he brought his humanistic style to his various documentary and concert film projects as well. “Stop Making Sense was character driven too,” writes Byrne. “Jonathan’s skill was to see the show almost as a theatrical ensemble piece, in which the characters and their quirks would be introduced to the audience, and you’d get to know the band as people, each with their distinct personalities. They became your friends, in a sense. I was too focused on the music, the staging and the lighting to see how important his focus on character was — it made the movies something different and special.”

Related Content:

Every Frame a Painting Explains the Filmmaking Techniques of Martin Scorsese, Jackie Chan, and Even Michael Bay

David Byrne Plays Seven Characters & Interviews Himself in Funny Promo for Stop Making Sense

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

How Jonathan Demme Put Humanity Into His Films: From The Silence of the Lambs to Stop Making Sense is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Guest Squee: Nirvana in Fire

Apr. 27th, 2017 08:00 am
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Guest Reviewer

NB: It’s time for a squee!  This is for a Chinese period drama with all sorts of gorgeous scenery and amazing costumes. 

The Nirvana in Fire squee comes from Castiron. Castiron spends her days wrangling book metadata and her evenings wrangling yarn and kids. Her desert island solar-powered ebook reader would include Jeannie Lin’s Pingkang Li duology, Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series, Georgette Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax, and the complete works of Lois McMaster Bujold, along with a good instruction manual on how to survive on and escape from a desert island.

Nirvana in Fire (Lang Ya Bang) is a Chinese historical(ish) drama TV series based on the novel by Hai Yan, set in roughly 4th-century China. The blog post where I originally learned of the show said it’s been described as “the Chinese Game of Thrones“, and the opening scene — a gory battle — might strengthen that impression.

I’m not a fan of gore, so I almost bailed right there, and again later in the first episode when a minor character is bloodily killed. I’m glad I persevered, though: the better description of this show would be “the Chinese Count of Monte Cristo”, and the gore of episode 1 isn’t representative of the series as a whole. It’s a wonderful saga of political machinations, romantic longing, and the slow but steady righting of wrongs, with gorgeous costumes and scenery and dramatic wuxia combats.

The summary: Twelve years before the start of the show, the Chiyan army was betrayed and almost completely slaughtered, and the Crown Prince and his household were killed, all because the Emperor believed them to be traitors. Lin Shu, the son of the army’s general, was one of the few survivors of the massacre. Now he returns to his former home under assumed names and patiently seeks justice. Over the course of two years, he pits two warring palace factions against each other to their destruction; builds the political base of his chosen candidate for Imperial Heir, Prince Jing; takes down various people who helped commit the massacre; and steadily gathers evidence and support for the pardoning of the Chiyan army and the late Crown Prince, all while fighting an illness that he knows will soon kill him.

Caveat: I am an American of European ancestry. My knowledge of Chinese literary and popular culture has the breadth and depth of a raindrop landing in west Texas in August. It’s entirely possible that the characters and plot elements I find fresh are old hat to someone more familiar with the tropes.

Content warnings for the show, besides the bloody violence mentioned above: Torture. Attempted rape; reference to past rape. Suicide. Reference to stomach-turning medical treatment.

So, with that said, here’s why it’s worth watching all fifty-four 45-minute episodes.

(Spoilers follow.)

  • The characters are complex and beautifully acted. The protagonists, even the seemingly omniscient Lin Shu, have flaws and make believable mistakes that they then have to cope with. The antagonists have virtues; even when I rooted for their downfall, I also felt pity and sorrow for them, because the actors and story show so clearly what they could have been if they hadn’t let their flaws take over.
The protagonist Lin Shu/Mei Changsu/Su Zhe (the three names he uses in the story)
The protagonist Lin Shu/Mei Changsu/Su Zhe, which are the three names he uses in the story.
  • There are a wide variety of female characters, with distinct personalities and as much agency as their societal limitations allow. Nihuang, Xia Dong, Concubine Jing, Ban-Ruo, Grand Princess Liyang, the Empress, Gong Yu, and others: all have different backgrounds, different personalities, and different limitations, but all act, despite their constraints — or sometimes using their constraints.
  • It’s visually beautiful. The producers clearly had a huge budget for scenery and costumes, and they made the most of it.

A fleet of ships in fog

  • Overall, the story flows well. As one situation is resolved, new complications and new subplots appear (though as I began my second viewing, I saw that many of the new subplots were subtly signaled early on), and there were times in episodes 40-45 when I wondered if everything would resolve by the end. But indeed, eventually the subplots converge to a satisfying ending.
  • The politics are believably tangled. The Emperor is ultimately in charge of everything, but there’s a huge bureaucracy below him, which means lots of officials who can be swayed. There’s infighting between the Crown Prince and Prince Yu, and officials who each has won to their side. There are organizations who claim neutrality but may not be so in practice. There are external nations, allies and vassals and enemies. There’s the Inner Palace, where the Emperor’s wife and concubines maneuver for position for themselves and by extension their sons. There are family connections that lead to people supporting sides they might otherwise prefer not to. This means there’s a lot for the viewer to keep track of, but it also makes the story world rich and intriguing.
The Empress. Her adopted son Prince Yu competes with the Crown Prince for favor and power.
The Empress. Her adopted son Prince Yu competes with the Crown Prince for favor and power.
  • While I wouldn’t describe the story as having a happy ending…
    Show Spoiler
    it is at least a positive ending: Justice ultimately prevails. It is not without cost or pain, and the wrongs cannot be undone, but they are recognized as wrongs, and the reputations of the dead are restored.
  • What Lin Shu ultimately wants is not an epic battle or other action by force; it’s a retrial. How often do you see a big epic story with swordplay where the character’s main goal is essentially a legal appeal? Not nearly often enough.
  • This is not a romance, but several of the subplots involve love stories, though most end sadly. Lin Shu clearly still loves his former fiancée Nihuang, and she him, though they do not have a HEA;
    Show Spoiler
    Lin Shu dies offscreen at the end.
    Another couple does get an unexpected HEA, and it’s very satisfying.
  • The closing credits for each episode are a montage of brief clips from throughout the series. The extremely spoiler-adverse might want to skip these, but I found the spark of recognition when I finally saw one of the clips in context added to my enjoyment, as did the anticipation of where other clips might finally appear. One in particular that appears near the end of the series was an utter gut-punch when I finally saw it in context. (For all I know, similar montages might be a standard technique in Chinese television, but for me it was new and fascinating.)
Princess Nihuang in her casual wear - a blue and silver robe.
Princess Nihuang in her casual wear.
Princess Nihuang in her military armor. She's controlled the military forces of her family for a number of years.
Princess Nihuang in her military armor. She’s controlled the military forces of her family for a number of years.

Is it perfect? Of course not. Lin Shu’s omniscience and preparations occasionally stretch the suspension of disbelief. (Then again, so do Edmond Dantes’s preparations, e.g. how early he planted the idea of poisons in Helene de Villefort’s mind, and I rarely hear people complain about the Count of Monte Cristo being too omniscient/competent.) There were a few cases where a plot line seemed to be introduced solely because another one had been resolved and they needed something else to keep the story going. Prince Jing is said to have a concubine, but she’s never introduced as a character, which bothers me.

And in the final episode, Lin Shu’s decision comes out of the blue; intellectually I can convince myself it makes sense, but it wasn’t well foreshadowed in earlier episodes. I’m sure there are other flaws, but they go right over my head because I don’t know the language or simply because I’m having such a good time watching.

So, where can you watch it? I’m in the United States and was able to watch it free-with-interruption-by-ads at viki.com; it has the show subtitled in English and some other languages. (Yes, it is possible to turn off the comments from other viewers; there’s a floater that appears on the upper right.)

I don’t know how good a translation the English subtitles are, but they at least make sense and are coherent. There exist DVDs with English subtitles; I haven’t shelled out the money yet because I’m not sure they’ll work on my ancient DVD player, so I can’t speak to the subtitle quality.

A lot of characters are thrown at you right away (and one of the most important characters doesn’t even show up in episode 1), and it can be hard to keep track at first, especially since many are referred to by multiple names. Sherwood Smith’s review at BookViewCafe, where I originally heard of the show, includes a detailed synopsis of Episode 1 that I found very helpful for orienting myself.

The blogpost “Nirvana in Fire Character Profiles” at JoleCole’s Station, is a good guide to sort out the connections between many of the characters.

Wikipedia has an episode guide (with spoilers, of course). TVTropes also has a page on the series.

hockey

Apr. 27th, 2017 05:49 pm
tielan: (Default)
[personal profile] tielan
I guess if they'd dropped me to Team 3 for non-skilled purposes, then they'd have told me, instead of just putting me in Team 3.

It's been a long, slow slide from the top team down to the bottom, and I may not be the only one who's done it, but I'm the one who's done it on 'skill level' and not 'personality level' (or it may be personality level and they're just not telling me).

On the up-side, I can't drop any further in the club - we only have three teams and I'm now in the bottom one...
[syndicated profile] openculture_feed

Posted by Dan Colman

Earlier today, we sadly learned about the passing of Jonathan Demme, director of The Silence of the Lambs and Stop Making Sense. We’ll have more to say about his contributions to cinema in the morning. But, for now, I want to share a short film, narrated by Demme himself in 2015, called I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!!.  Featuring stop motion animation and interviews, the short revisits David Boswell’s 1970s counterculture cartoon, Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman. Perhaps the cartoon never ended up on your radar. But it certainly influenced a number of important creators you’re familiar with. And, happily, you can still pick up copies of Reid Fleming: World’s Toughest Milkman on Amazon or over at the official Reid Fleming web site.

Directed by Charlie Tyrell, I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!! will be added to our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc.. You can also download it over at Tyrell’s vimeo page.

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Related Content:

The Comic Biography of Underground Publisher & Political Writer, John Wilcock

In Animated Cartoon, Alison Bechdel Sees Her Life Go From Pulitizer Prize Winning Comic to Broadway Musical

Cartoonist R. Crumb Assesses 21 Cultural Figures, from Dylan & Hitchcock, to Kafka & The Beatles

Jonathan Demme Narrates I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!!,” a Short Film About the Counterculture Cartoon Reid Fleming is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

2017/36: Our Game -- John le Carré

Apr. 27th, 2017 07:10 am
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2017/36: Our Game -- John le Carré
‘Such an inconsistent man you are. One minute you are looking for Emma, the next you are looking for your friend. You know what? I don’t think you wish to find your friend, only to become him. ’[loc. 4325]


Tim Cranmer, retired 'civil servant', receives a visit late one Sunday night: his friend -- or associate -- Dr Lawrence Pettifer has gone missing, and the police wonder if Cranmer can help with their enquiries.minor spoilers )
wildestranger: (Default)
[personal profile] wildestranger
Estonia, Jaan Kaplinski, All has been written about
Kõigest on kirjutatud, kõigest on lauldud.
Ja see, mis veel kirjutatakse-lauldakse,
loeb ikka vähem, kostab ikka nõrgemalt
läbi meretuule õunapuudes ja kuldnoka-
poegade näljase sädina pesakastides
luuletajate peade kohal. Mida kauem
elad, räägid ja kirjutad, seda selgemaks saab,
et elad saarel, mis on vana ja kulunud
ja selle saare all on teine saar,
lähemal tulele, lähemal ehk tõelegi,
kuid kaugemal sõnadest, mida meie siin
ütleme üksteisele ja Läänemere tuulde.

All has been written about, all has been sung about.
And what will still be written and sung about
means less and less, sounds ever weaker
through sea winds in apple trees and the hungry
chirping of starling babies in the nest boxes
above the heads of poets. The more you
live, speak and write, the clearer it becomes
that you live on an island that is old and outworn
and that beneath that island there is another,
closer to fire, maybe also closer to truth,
but more distant from words that we here
tell each other and the wind of the Baltic Sea.

More information: http://estonianworld.com/culture/a-mission-to-translate-marie-under-estonias-most-influential-poet-into-english/
http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/article/writing-from-the-edge-estonian-literature

Things consumed April 2017

Apr. 27th, 2017 01:46 pm
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
[personal profile] alias_sqbr
Long list of stuff I have read and played etc!

Note that almost all the tv and movies are on Australian Netflix.
Read more... )

very short entry

Apr. 26th, 2017 10:37 pm
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
Grateful for:

moments of courage

planning for effective help & mutual support with partner

sunshine and rain making things grow

completely ridiculous flowers

got my meds

Throwback Thursday: Technic 1978-79

Apr. 27th, 2017 05:00 am
[syndicated profile] brickset_news_feed
Throwback Thursday: Technic 1978-79

Following on from the last Throwback Thursday article that I posted at the end of last year, here is an article about the 1978 and 1979 LEGO Technical Sets, as they were then still known.

In among these sets were the LEGO Technical Sets my father purchased when his ship, the NZ Government research vessel GRV Tangaroa, sailed to Norfolk Island, an Australian external territory where LEGO was reported as being the cheapest in the world.

Read on as I showcase my original, and much loved, Technical sets as well as the other sets released in 1978 and 1979.

Continue reading »

© 2017 Brickset.com. Republication prohibited without prior permission.

alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (Default)
[personal profile] alias_sqbr
Mush up Pirates of the Carribean with the original Guardians of the Galaxy in a blender with some cheese, and give it a flouro 80s candy coating, and you get this movie. If you can turn your brain off and enjoy the silliness and explosions it's pretty fun. Not very deep and mostly about A Man And His Father Issues but gives the female characters more to do than the last movie. The perfunctory attempts at a Peter/Gamora romance are ineffective but also pretty easy to ignore (I usually like that kind of pairing but this one doesn't work for me) and the Gamora and Nebula sister relationship gets the exploration that was missing from the original. I feel like they sanded off the unhealthiness of Peter and Yondu's relationship for convenience, but otherwise enjoyed the story, which is all about family. Mantis's character felt like a bit of an Asian stereotype but her arc was ok. None of the female characters get sexualised very much and Chris Pratt is super pretty.
sovay: (Claude Rains)
[personal profile] sovay
In all of the tributes to Jonathan Demme I've seen so far, nobody compiling the best-of lists has mentioned one of my favorite movies of his. I can't tell if that's because it was a television production or because it's just that obscure or maybe I'm the only person who loves it that much, but either way I'm just going to leave this here: American Playhouse's Who Am I This Time? (1982). Christopher Walken as Harry, Susan Sarandon as Helene, score by John Cale; it's a showcase for its two stars and a beautiful exploration of the way that other people's words can be the truest way to speak for yourself. It's still not streaming anywhere that I can find, but it is available from Netflix and libraries on DVD and it's worth tracking down. It goes one better than Vonnegut and I don't say that about many things. I am not pleased that the person who directed it is dead. Some theater around here had better show Stop Making Sense (1984) soon.

[edit] David Byrne wrote for his memory.

Birthday greetings and felicitations

Apr. 26th, 2017 10:02 pm
onyxlynx: Festive pennants in blue & purple with word "Birthday" centered. (Birthday)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
to [personal profile] bradycardia! A day of enormous peace for you!

Review: Necessity

Apr. 26th, 2017 09:42 pm
[syndicated profile] eaglespath_feed

Review: Necessity, by Jo Walton

Series: Thessaly #3
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: July 2016
ISBN: 0-7653-7902-3
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 331

Athena's experiment with a city (now civilization) modeled after Plato's Republic continues, but in a form that she would not have anticipated, and in a place rather far removed from its origins. But despite new awareness of the place and role of gods, a rather dramatic relocation, and unanticipated science-fiction complications, it continues in much the same style as in The Just City: thoughtful, questioning debate, a legal and social system that works surprisingly well, and a surprising lack of drama. At least, that is, until the displaced cities are contacted by the mainstream of humanity, and Athena goes unexpectedly missing.

The latter event turns out to have much more to do with the story than the former, and I regret that. Analyzing mainline human civilization and negotiating the parameters of a very odd first contact would have, at least in my opinion, lined up a bit better with the strengths of this series. Instead, the focus is primarily on metaphysics, and the key climactic moment in those metaphysics is rather mushy and incoherent compared to the sharp-edged analysis Walton's civilization is normally capable of. Not particularly unexpected, as metaphysics of this sort are notoriously tricky to approach via dialectical logic, but it was a bit of a letdown. Much of this book deals with Athena's disappearance and its consequences (including the title), and it wasn't bad, but it wanders a bit into philosophical musings on the nature of gods.

Necessity is a rather odd book, and I think anyone who started here would be baffled, but it does make a surprising amount of sense in the context of the series. Skipping ahead to here seems like a truly bad idea, but reading the entire series (relatively closely together) does show a coherent philosophical, moral, and social arc. The Just City opens with Apollo confronted by the idea of individual significance: what does it mean to treat other people as one's equals in an ethical sense, even if they aren't on measures of raw power? The Thessaly series holds to that theme throughout and follows its implications. Many of the bizarre things that happen in this series seem like matter-of-fact outcomes once you're engrossed in the premises and circumstances at the time. Necessity adds a surprising amount of more typical science fiction trappings, but they turn out to be ancillary to the story. What matters is considered action, trying to be your best self, and the earnest efforts of a society to put those principles first.

And that's the strength of the whole series, including Necessity: I like these people, I like how they think, and I enjoy spending time with them, almost no matter what they're doing. As with the previous books, we get interwoven chapters from different viewpoints, this time from three primary characters plus some important "guest" chapters. As with the previous books, the viewpoint characters are different again, mostly a generation younger, and I had to overcome my initial disappointment at not hearing the same voices. But Walton is excellent at characterization. I really like this earnest, thoughtful, oddly-structured society that always teeters on the edge of being hopelessly naive and trusting but is self-aware enough to never fall in. By the end of the book, I liked this round of characters nearly as much as I liked the previous rounds (although I've still never liked a character in these books as well as I liked Simmea).

I think one incomplete but important way to sum up the entire Thessaly series is that it's a trilogy of philosophical society-building on top of the premise of a universal love for and earnest, probing, thoughtful analysis of philosophy. Walton's initial cheat is to use an deus ex machina to jumpstart such a society from a complex human world that would be unlikely to provide enough time or space for it to build its own separate culture and tradition. I think the science-fiction trick is required to make this work — real-world societies that try this end up having to spend so much of their energy fighting intrusion from the outside and diffusion into the surrounding culture that they don't have the same room to avoid conformity and test and argue against their own visions.

Necessity is not at all the conclusion of that experiment I would expect, but it won me over, and I think it worked, even if a few bits of it felt indulgent. Most importantly for that overall project, this series is generational, and Necessity shows how it would feel to grow up deep inside it, seeing evolution on top of a base structure that is ubiquitous and ignored. Even the generation in The Philosopher Kings wasn't far enough removed to support that; Necessity is, and in a way this book shows how distinctly different and even alien human culture can become when it has space to evolve on top of different premises. I enjoyed the moments of small surprise, where characters didn't react the way that I'd expect for reasons now buried generations-deep in their philosophical foundations.

This book will not win you over if you didn't already like the series, and I suspect it will lose a few people who read the previous two books. The plot structure is a little strange, the metaphysics are a touch strained, and the ending is, well, not quite the payoff that I was hoping for, although it's thematically appropriate and grew on me after a few days of thinking it over. But I got more Socrates, finally, who is as delightful as always and sorely needed to add some irreverence and contrariness to the the mix. And I got to read more about practical, thoughtful people who are trying hard to do their best, to be their best selves, and to analyze and understand the world. There's something calming, delightful, and beautifully optimistic about their approach, and I'm rather sad to not have more of it to read.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Three Days to Deadline!

Apr. 26th, 2017 11:30 pm
longficmod: Photo of a woman tying a running shoe (Default)
[personal profile] longficmod posting in [community profile] fandom5k
Run Write like the wind!

Stories are due at 11:59 PM EDT on Saturday, 29 April. What time is that for me?

Please make sure your story is complete, meets the requirements, and is not in Draft status at that time. You'll have two weeks after the deadline to make any final edits. If you're looking for a beta reader or willing to offer beta services, check out this post.

Anyone who is not signed up for the exchange but took a pinch hit is welcome to leave requests for treats at this post. If you're looking for someone to treat, that's a great place to start!

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact us here or at fandom5kmod@gmail.com.

One pinch hit yet remains!

Apr. 27th, 2017 04:02 am
soulexmod: (Default)
[personal profile] soulexmod posting in [community profile] soulexchange
So if you think you might be able to take it on, please head over to the initial pinch hits post and give it a look!

A quick hello!

Apr. 26th, 2017 11:28 pm
alexcat: (Default)
[personal profile] alexcat
Welcome to my new friends via [community profile] addme_fandom. Not sure I'm terribly exciting but I am a fandom creature and I am here quite a bit, reading more than posting, but here.

Oh and for those of you who may not be as old as me "Here I come to save the day!" was from Mighty Mouse - I remember seeing him in the early 60s on Saturday morning cartoons!

starwolf_oakley: (Default)
[personal profile] starwolf_oakley posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Here's issue two of the MARVEL UNIVERSE series that gives the Secret History of HYDRA. Or Secret Future, in this case.

hydra1.jpeg

Read more... )

Windows

Apr. 26th, 2017 10:43 pm
ink_13: (Default)
[personal profile] ink_13
Dealing with condo building residents may very well be the death of me. On the one hand, we should probably have a public meeting to squash the rumours flying around about the window project. On the other hand, my desire to keep them informed is being weighed against my desire to sit through an hour or more of abuse hurled at me by people with strong opinions built entirely on misinformation (who will no doubt be male, condescending, and shouty), and the resulting enthusiasm is not mighty.



I'm not 100% thrilled with how our window designs turned out, but I guess I'll deal. The one that I'm least excited about is the windows on to the balconies, which is about 12 feet wide. Our final design looks like this:
+-----------+-----------+
|           |           |
|           |           |
+-----------+-----------+
|     |->   |     |->   |
+-----------+-----------+
where the bottom panels slide but the tops are fixed. (There is also a door to one side.) It's fine for looking out of, but I wish we could have had something with more ventilation. It pretty much has to be this way to accommodate air conditioners while also not having too much framing.



I did have the bright idea of suggesting our payment schedule be determined by milestones instead of calendar dates. That is, we'll pay our next instalment when the contractor completes X% of units, not when the next month rolls around. My hope is to ensure they make and stick to a schedule; as it is, we're likely to be into November by the time they finish if nothing goes wrong.

I have no objection to paying early if they finish sooner, but a mere 10% holdback isn't going to be enough on a contract of this magnitude.

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